|THURSDAY 9 MAY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Music Managers Forum has today put the spotlight on the complex way in which song royalties from the streaming services are processed each month, and the impact that has on how much cash actually flows through to the songwriter, and how long it takes for them to get paid. Significant sums are likely caught up in or lost to the system... [READ MORE]|
New MMF guide explains why songwriters are often missing out on their digital dollars
These complexities and issues are outlined in the latest 'Digital Dollar' guide, produced by CMU Insights for the MMF, which is being launched at the CMU+TGE Digital Dollars Conference at The Great Escape in Brighton today.
Launching the report, the MMF explains: "While featured artists can be paid royalties within weeks of a track they performed on being streamed - especially if they self-release via a DIY distribution platform - those who actually wrote the track must frequently wait years before receiving their share".
It goes on: "This is the result of a complex system of 'royalty chains', whereby global-facing digital music services are often licensed on a territorial basis and revenues flow between a succession of overseas collecting societies, publishers and other intermediaries. It means songwriters and composers frequently face a series of delays and deductions to their royalty payments, as well as a significant risk of their rights being misreported and unattributed".
The guide makes a number of recommendations as to what songwriters and their managers can be doing right now to reduce the negative impact of the royalty chains, while also calling on the wider music community to make a number of reforms. That includes ensuring both more transparency around the way streaming income is processed and that songwriters - and their managers, lawyers and accountants - are much more involved in the ongoing debates around song royalty systems as the streaming market continues to evolve.
MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick said today: "Streaming should be boosting songwriters' incomes, instead MMF research reveals much of their money is subject to unnecessary data disputes, deductions and delays. Long and complex royalty chains need to be simplified and shortened so more of the money gets back to the creator of the music. Digital licensing needs to be fit for purpose".
Meanwhile MMF Chair Paul Craig of Nostromo Management, who is talking about the guide at TGE today, added: "This is a timely report and should be required reading for everyone in our business. In great detail, it shows how the complexities of online licensing have hampered industry growth and impact on the livelihoods of songwriters and composers".
He goes on: "It's a situation we cannot allow to continue. Urgent reforms are needed. At the core of these must be an overhaul in the practices of collecting societies, and adoption of more fluid and globalised licensing processes. Personally, I'm a supporter of collective licensing, but only through such modernisations will we break the royalty chains and ensure creators receive all revenues they have earned".
Ruling against Indian streaming service could have implications for Spotify's battle with Warner
Tips and Wynk fell out in 2017 after failing to agree new licensing terms. Tips then requested that Wynk remove its catalogue, to which the service responded by saying it didn't have to because it was covered by a compulsory licence under Indian law that was traditionally intended for broadcasters. Tips then launched legal action claiming copyright infringement.
At the conclusion of the trial this week, according to Billboard, Mumbai High Court judge SJ Kathawalla ruled in favour of the label, saying that Wynk was "knowingly infringing upon the plaintiff's copyrights". He also dismissed claims by Wynk that the label was simply trying to force its hand in licensing negotiations.
The judge said that he had seen an increase in digital music companies attempting to claim protection under Section 31-D of India's Copyright Act. However, he went on, this "amounts to usurpation of the exclusive rights of the owners to commercially rent, sell or communicate to the public their sound recordings" and claims of legal protection do "not meet the legislative purpose" of the Act.
This all looks fairly dismal for Spotify, which is currently fighting a very similar case against Warner Music. The mini-major refused Spotify a licence for India - a licence that would have covered both its recordings and the Anglo-American songs repertoire of its publisher Warner/Chappell. Spotify then accused Warner of refusing that licence late in the day as leverage in global deal negotiations that have nothing to do with its Indian launch.
Warner refusing a licence for its songs catalogue created problems for Spotify because it will impact on any recordings from other labels that contain Warner/Chappell songs and also plenty of songs that are co-owned by other publishers with which the streaming service has a licence. Spotify itself pointed out that Warner could control just 1% of a song and, by refusing a licence, recordings of that song technically couldn't stream.
On top of that, there is the issue that Spotify doesn't usually know what songs it is actually streaming, the labels and distributors uploading tracks but providing no precise information on what song any one recording contains. Therefore, Warner withholding its songs catalogue was arguably more problematic than it refusing to allow its recordings to be streamed.
In an attempt to counter this manoeuvre on the major's part, Spotify decreed that it reckoned it could rely on the same statutory licence that was at the heart of the Wynk case for Warner's songs in India. Warner went legal, calling for an immediate injunction against Spotify, which was denied. But the case still rumbles on, and this new ruling would seem to give some indication of how things might ultimately go.
New research highlights barriers to performance for disabled musicians
The study found that 70% of disabled artists have withheld details of their condition, because they felt it would negatively impact their chances of being allowed to perform live. Two thirds said that they had negatively impacted their own health in order to be able to perform, and one in five said that they had been forced to cancel shows due to access issues.
Attitude Is Everything CEO Suzanne Bull comments: "These findings provide a snapshot of the challenges faced by a great number of artists and music makers. They will make uncomfortable reading for many in the UK music industry, but our respondents clearly
The research has been carried out as part of the Next Stage initiative launched by the charity earlier this year, which aims to empower deaf and disabled artists in the music industry. As part of this, the issues raised by the survey will be presented and discussed at The Great Escape Conference today.
Appearing as part of a panel debate will be Mystery Jets' Blaine Harrison, Ruth Patterson of Holy Moly And The Crackers, DJ Laura Jones, artist Roxanne de Bastion and Rich Legate from the band Childcare, who has led the Next Stage initiative.
Association Of Independent Festivals pressures retailers to stop selling single-use tents
An estimated 250,000 are left on festival campsites around the UK each year. Some people believe that abandoned tents are usually collected by charities, although the sheer number of such tents means only a tiny fraction are actually used in this way. Also, many tents are not left in a state to be re-used. The vast majority of tents are non-recyclable, meaning that they go to landfill, creating 900 tonnes of plastic waste each year - the amount of plastic in an average tent is equivalent to 8750 straws or 250 pint cups.
In the run up to festival season, numerous retailers market 'festival tents' - cheap tents that cost so little that they are often seen as disposable. Research by Comp-A-Tent suggests that as many as 36% of tents left at festivals are bought from either Argos or Tesco. Retailers often also sell sleeping bags, airbeds and camping chairs at negligible prices, adding further to waste generated by festival-goers.
"We call upon major retailers to stop marketing and selling tents and other camping items as essentially single-use, and profiting from disposable culture", says AIF CEO Paul Reed. "AIF launches this campaign to raise awareness and highlight abandoned tents as part of the single-use plastics problem. The message here is not 'buy a more expensive tent' - with a single tent carrying the same amount of plastic as more than 8700 plastic straws, festival audiences can take positive action and reduce their carbon footprint simply by taking their tent home and re-using it, ensuring that it doesn't become a single-use item this summer".
The issue of abandoned tents at festivals has been on the agenda for a number of years, but became more widely known last year when an aerial image of thousands of abandoned tents after the Leeds Festival was posted on Twitter.
PledgeMusic acquisition falls through, administration looms
"I am truly sorry", wrote Rogers in an email to artists on the platform. "I promised to let you know as soon as I had news either way and I received final confirmation of this just now at the board meeting. The company will go into administration at some point this week or early next which means that any funds received for the assets of Pledge will be distributed to all of the creditors involved. This will include all of the artists who are owed money".
Rogers returned to the company on a voluntary basis in January - having left his position as CEO in 2017 - to attempt to overcome the firm's ongoing financial issues, which led to artists not receiving the money that they had raised via the platform. All artist payments were then suspended, pending a deal to save the company. Last month, it was reported that a potential buyer was still in the process of due diligence - mainly contacting larger labels and management companies to see if they would return to PledgeMusic after an acquisition.
"There have been no good outcomes here and I cannot bear that something that I created to benefit artists and fans has caused so much pain to so many people", Rogers writes in a blog post on Medium. "I was CEO of PledgeMusic twice, and even though I left for the last time in 2017, I still always felt connected to the company and to the mission. I wanted to be a part of the efforts to get things back on track but it is obvious now that too much damage had already been done".
However, he added, he does not agree with journalists who have claimed that this shows that crowdfunding itself is untenable. In the early days of music-focused crowdfunding platforms a decade ago, various websites, such as Sellaband, Slicethepice and Bandstocks, all ultimately failed. However, in more recent years, Kickstarter and PledgeMusic have offered some stability for those wishing to raise money for projects independently.
"A failure in execution does not mean that the model is fundamentally flawed", writes Rogers. "I still believe that there is a great future for fan-funded projects in this industry and I hope that someone builds a new version of, or resurrects what we started. I would gladly help in this effort".
This will not be much comfort for the many artists now caught up in the collapse of PledgeMusic though. As the company goes into administration, they will all become creditors and be placed in a queue for whatever money can be raised by selling off its assets. With outstanding artist payments estimated at between one and three million dollars, it now seems likely that many will never see the money they are due.
Inquest into Keith Flint's death records open verdict
Addressing the hearing, Beasley-Murray said: "We will never quite know what was going on in his mind on that date. I've considered suicide. To record that, I would have to have found that, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Flint formed the idea and took a deliberate action knowing it would result in his death. Having regard to all the circumstances I don't find that there's enough evidence for that".
She added that it was also not possible to rule that his death had been an accident, where he was "larking around and it all went horribly wrong".
It was also reported that Flint was found to have cocaine, codeine and alcohol in his system at the time of his death in March. No suspicious circumstances and no third party involvement were found.
In a statement ahead of the inquest, The Prodigy said on social media: "It has been a tough time for everyone over the last few weeks since Keef's passing. If you are struggling with depression, addiction or the impact of suicide, please do not suffer in silence. The Prodigy fully support the campaign to improve mental health for all".
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, Mind offers information and support on this and other topics relating to mental wellbeing. You can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or music industry-specific helplines Music Support on 0800 030 6789 and Music Minds Matter on 0808 802 8008.
R Kelly, Deezer, Tool, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• R Kelly has avoided further jail time by paying off his outstanding child support bill, reports TMZ. The $62,000 handed over yesterday covers March, April and May of this year. However, he was informed at a hearing yesterday that he still owes $32,000 in interest. He is also still required to pay his ex-wife £20,000 per month on an ongoing basis.
• Deezer has announced "a new look and feel that highlights the brand's human and local identity". Sure.
• Cult Of Luna have announced that they have signed a new record deal with Metal Blade, and released new track, 'The Silent Man'. "We're THRILLED to announce our collaboration with Metal Blade and the creation of our new home, Red Creek, that will handle Cult of Luna's future productions", say the band. "This is a dawn to an exciting journey to come".
• Tool have announced that they will finally release the follow-up to their last album, 2006's '10,000 Days', on 30 Aug.
• Dido has released the video for new single 'Take You Home'.
• Jhene Aiko has released new single 'Triggered (Freestyle)'.
• Mac DeMarco has released new single 'On The Square'. His new album, 'Here Comes The Cowboy', is out this week.
• Rosie Lowe has released new single 'Mango'.
• Aadea provides vocals on the new single by producer Kirk Spencer, 'Product'.
• The Body have announced a show at The Dome in London on 12 Jul, before returning later in the month for a handful more UK gigs.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
David Attenborough launches remix competition
The track, titled 'Gender Wayang', is taken from Attenborough's album of field recordings from across the globe, imaginatively titled 'My Field Recordings From Across The Globe'. The compilation features, well, field recordings made across the globe by a young Attenborough between 1954 and 1963.
In 1956, while filming for BBC show 'Zoo Quest', he travelled to Indonesia, where he first discovered gamelan music, recording it on a tape recorder he carried with him. "The villagers will sit down while the leader of the gamelan orchestra will convey his composition, teaching them, one at a time how to play", he recalls. "They then play this concerted music with extraordinary precision and real zest. So it is haunting music that you hear every night - or you did in those day - in the villages of Bali".
What would make this even better, he now reckons, would be if someone put a bangin donk on it. Hence the remix competition. The winner of a public vote will be rewarded with an actual trophy at this year's Songlines Music Awards.
You have until 10 Jun to submit entries. The final shortlist will be selected by a panel of judges made up of Cerys Matthews, Ghostpoet, Hannah Peel, Gilles Peterson and Matthew Herbert.
To enter the competition UK music creators will need to download the track, 'Gender Wayang', and will have until 6pm on Monday June 10 2019 to submit their remix via a private SoundCloud link. The winner will be announced on 1 Nov, ahead of the Songlines awards ceremony on 30 Nov.