|FRIDAY 17 MAY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: TI Media - the company that used to be called Time Inc UK - has announced it is selling its two music titles, NME and Uncut, to BandLab Technologies, the Singapore-based business that previously owned half of Rolling Stone... [READ MORE]|
NME and Uncut sold to former Rolling Stone owner
According to TI Media, BandLab has "pioneered a rapidly expanding social music creation platform and is acquiring NME and Uncut as part of its mission to grow out a major global music media business". NME and Uncut will slot into BandLab's media division alongside Guitar.com and MusicTech.
Confirming the deal, BandLab boss Meng Kuok said: "We are very excited to welcome NME and Uncut to the BandLab Technologies family. These brands occupy a treasured place in the UK music landscape and increasing relevance to the global music scene, which we are looking to enhance and extend. These two media brands will play an important role in continuing our vision to create a connected world of music. We're especially pleased to be welcoming an experienced and knowledgeable editorial and commercial staff, to deliver cutting-edge and opinion-driven content for music lovers everywhere".
Speaking for TI Media, its CEO Marcus Rich added: "NME and Uncut will always have a special place in our story. Their reputation for stand-out, award-winning journalism spanning seven decades goes well beyond the world of music and I'm proud they've attained that status as part of our company. At the same time, we need to recognise that to achieve the next stage of their evolution, NME and Uncut will be better placed with a business that has music at its heart. Under BandLab Technologies' ambitious ownership and direction, I'm confident both of these truly iconic brands will thrive".
It's no secret that most traditional music magazines have struggled commercially as readers have shifted online, where generally consumers expect music journalism to be free, but where Google and Facebook take a significant portion of the available advertising spend. NME, with its younger readership, faced the challenges first, ultimately dumping its print edition and pushing into branded content in a bid to generate more money online.
But some reckon there remain untapped opportunities for music media online, including BandLab. It previously took a stake in another legacy music title that was struggling in the digital space, buying just under half of Rolling Stone. Though when Penske Media Corporation later bought the other half, BandLab subsequently sold on its share in the US music title.
Back in the UK, TI Media's statement confirming the sale of NME and Uncut this morning said that it anticipated that all staff currently working on the titles "will transfer with the sale and will continue to be based in the Blue Fin Building, London". It added: "There will be no interruption to Uncut's publishing schedule".
Record industry welcomes proposed reforms to Canadian copyright law
Among the document's 22 recommendations are calls for improved copyright education; new efforts to ensure online services better develop and promote Canadian content; the removal of a statutory measure that significantly reduces the royalty obligations of radio stations; and a review of copyright exceptions, with the aim of reducing the number of scenarios in which copyright works can be used without licence.
On top of that, there was one more recommendation familiar to anyone working in the music industry. That being that "the government of Canada review the safe harbour exceptions and laws to ensure that internet service providers are accountable for their role in the distribution of content". The current safe harbour reforms in Europe will likely be held up as a template for how those safe harbour exceptions might be revamped in Canada.
Meanwhile, for those on the songs side of the music business, another favoured recommendation will be that relating to the copyright term of literary and musical works. The report states that "the government of Canada [should] pursue its [past] commitment to implement the extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author's death". That change - long lobbied for by songwriters and music publishers in the country - would bring Canada's copyright terms in line with Europe and the US.
"I applaud the members of the committee for listening to the voices of artists and the businesses who support music and for taking these critical first steps toward addressing the value gap in Canada", Music Canada chief Graham Henderson said yesterday. "The committee's report provides a series of thoughtful and concrete recommendations to address the underlying causes of the value gap. Many of the recommendations will significantly and immediately improve the lives of artists and our industry".
The report was also welcomed by musician Miranda Mulholland, who has been busy ensuring that artist voices have been heard during the committee's review. "The changes recommended by the Heritage Committee in this report are the first step in ensuring artists receive fair remuneration for their work", she said yesterday. "The changes would end the unfair subsidies that artists have been paying large broadcasting corporations, and mean more creators can earn a sustainable living from their music. I thank the members of the Committee for hearing the concerns of artists, and making strong recommendations to close the value gap in Canada".
Needless to say, not everyone is supporting the new report, the recommendations of which do a lot more for the creators and owners of copyright than the users of copyright works. Canadian academic Michael Geist, a frequent critic of any efforts to boost copyright protections, said that the document was "the most one-sided Canadian copyright report issued in the past fifteen years", comparing it to a similar 2004 review that he said was "discredited" and "subsequently rejected by the government".
Criticising the committee's process and recommendations, Geist wrote yesterday: "Representing little more than stenography of lobbying positions from Canadian cultural groups, the report simply adopts as recommendations a wide range of contentious proposals: copyright term extension, restricted fair dealing, increased damages, as well as several new rights and payments. There is no attempt to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, much less grapple with contrary evidence or positions".
It remains to be seen whether the report now results in any actual reforming of Canada's copyright regime, though if it does, we can expect plenty more lively debate before any changes to the law actually occur.
PRS appoints new CEO from outside the music business
The new boss is Andrea C Martin, who comes from outside the music industry. However, her CV includes marketing, data and management roles at companies like Readers Digest, Royal Mail and ADT Canada. This makes it an interesting and possibly sensible hire, given some of the biggest challenges faced by PRS today revolve around data and communications.
The collecting society said of its incoming boss: "A recognised leader and transformation specialist, her focus has been on delivering exceptional customer service and growth, utilising technology and big data. She has a proven track record in building strong teams, investing in employee development and multi-stakeholder communications to lead highly performing businesses".
The society's Chair - Nigel Elderton of publisher Peermusic - added: "Andrea is an exceptional business leader and I know will continue and accelerate PRS's development into the world's leading rights management organisation. Our industry is changing and increasingly competitive; we have to offer the best service and experience to every member, every customer and our employees too. I look forward to working with Andrea to deliver our vision and would like to welcome her on behalf of all of members".
Martin herself said of her new gig: "I am honoured and excited to lead PRS For Music and have the opportunity to shape the future of a renowned UK and global music business, that is inherent to its songwriters, composers and publishers. I look forward to working with the team and the board to ensure our members and customers are well served".
Sony Music launches new podcast venture
Sony Music yesterday announced a new joint venture Stateside with two radio industry execs and now podcast makers, Adam Davidson and Laura Mayer. The new yet-to-be-named company will "create and distribute original scripted and unscripted programming across multiple podcast genres and subject matters" and "focus on cultivating dynamic talent and unique storytelling using Sony Music's expertise in content creation".
Both Davidson and Mayer have worked on public radio in the US. The former has frequently contributed to 'This American Life', the radio programme that has been available as a podcast since 2006. The latter has also worked for podcast company Panoply Media.
Confirming their new tie-up with Sony, the duo said in unison yesterday: "It is a THRILLing time to be in podcasting with major media and tech companies paying increasing attention to the industry as it quickly grows. Sony Music so impressed us with their focus on supporting artists and the creative process. They understand what it takes to attract the best people and create the conditions where they can do their best work".
Meanwhile Sony Music boss Rob Stringer added: "Adam Davidson and Laura Mayer are acclaimed, visionary journalists and leaders in the podcasting industry and they share our creator-first approach to content development. We want to enhance opportunities for talented storytellers in this rapidly evolving audio entertainment segment. This partnership will help creators grow their brands and share their work with global audiences across a variety of services and platforms".
Madonna confirmed for Eurovision after contract is finally signed
But then Israeli broadcaster Kan subsequently announced yesterday: "Now it's official. After some tense days, a contract between Madonna and the Eurovision producers was signed today".
The issue holding up the signing of the contract reportedly related to the broadcasting rights of Madonna's 1989 single 'Like A Prayer', which she plans to perform on Saturday. It was previously reported that it was the political content of a new song that she also plans to sing that was causing problems for the supposedly apolitical Eurovision.
Madonna arrived in Israel earlier this week, and while the contract remained unsigned Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the European Broadcast Union, which oversees Eurovision, ordered that she be barred from entering the venue for rehearsals. This order temporarily came into force yesterday, although according to reports she was in fact allowed access after brief negotiations with producers.
With everything now signed and sealed, Madonna is finally officially confirmed to appear as the interval entertainment on Saturday night.
Ellie Goulding to present Classic FM's Revision Hour for students
Goulding has been announced as a guest presenter for two episodes of Classic FM's 'Revision Hour' series next month. For the first, on 1 Jun, she'll discuss exam panic and then play some music to aid relaxation. This includes music from Craig Armstrong's 'Romeo & Juliet' soundtrack, Ludovico Einaudi, and 'Venus, The Bringer Of Peace' from Holst's 'The Planets.
"I listen to Classic FM all the time", says Goulding. "So it's a thrill [THRILL?] for me to present on the station that I love and admire. I've been a big fan of classical music ever since my grandfather gave me a classical album when I was eleven years old. At school, I found exams quite stressful and put myself under a lot of pressure, but music really helped me relax and unwind. I'm looking forward to being behind the mic for Classic FM's 'Revision Hour' and I hope everyone enjoys the music as much as I'll enjoy presenting it".
Classic FM's Managing Editor Sam Jackson adds: "As one of the most successful female artists of her generation, we are hugely excited to welcome Ellie to the Classic FM family. It's fantastic that she's an avid listener to the station already, and that she shares our passion to demonstrate the relevance of classical music to everyone. I'm sure our existing audience will love her, and I'm also convinced she'll introduce lots of new listeners to the joys of classical music".
Goulding will also present the final episode of the series on 15 Jun, which will focus on the relevance of classical music after exams are over. So that time she's not going to help with revision at all. And anyway, both shows go out at 9-10pm on a Saturday night, when students should either be getting an early night's sleep ahead of more revision on Sunday morning, or setting fire to a bin in a park to let off a bit of steam.
Classic FM's 'Revision Hour' has actually been on since April. Other presenters include Bastille's Dan Smith and that Lewis Capaldi. Good luck with your exams, everyone. I always found painstakingly designing, creating and then re-doing a revision timetable to be particularly useful. Also making a joke of everything and eating Wagon Wheels. Have we ever discussed how I have no significant qualifications?
Slipknot announce new album, We Are Not Your Kind
"This is the most time we've had to write a record and work stuff out together", says guitarist Jim Root of the new long player. "One of my inspirations this time around was those artists that recorded full length albums - not just songs".
That doesn't really tell us much, does it? Anyway, he notes: "While the industry is moving toward singles, Slipknot wanted to make an album experience, front to back".
Continuing with the theme of moving against instant gratification, percussionist Shawn Crahan adds: "These days the art we are making comes with the highest reward, because it's taken the most time. Almost four years to create this emotion and temperature, and the reward now is nothing short of salvation".
Now back in full action though, they're going to gratify you all to fuck. Tour dates loom, including a UK show at Download Festival on 15 Jun. If you can't get along to see them tear a hole out of a nearby venue, they will also be live-streaming a full performance from Germany's Rock Am Ring festival on 9 Jun.
'We Are Not Your Kind' is out on 9 Aug. Here's the video for 'Unsainted'.
Elton John & Taron Egerton, The Black Keys, Biffy Clyro, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Elton John and Taron Egerton - who plays John in new biopic 'Rocket Man' - have released a duet, '(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again', which was written especially for the film.
• The Black Keys have released the video for 'Go' from their upcoming new album, 'Let's Rock'. "Very", says the duo's Patrick Carney of the video.
• Biffy Clyro have released their soundtrack for new film 'Balance, Not Symmetry'. They announced the record just yesterday. Here's the video for the title track.
• The Backstreet Boys have released a new version of 'I Want It That Way' to mark the 20th anniversary of their 'Millennium' album.
• Halsey has released new single 'Nightmare'.
• Tim Heidecker has released new track 'To The Men' in protest at Alabama's new anti-abortion laws that were passed earlier this week. All proceeds from sales on Bandcamp will go to the Yellowhammer Fund, which provides funding to women seeking care from one of the state's three abortion clinics.
• Aazar has released new track 'Diva', featuring Swae Lee and Tove Lo.
• Estelle has released the video for new single 'Lights Out'. "'Lights Out' is my favourite song off the  'Lovers Rock' album as I feel it truly embodies what 'Lovers Rock' is to me", she says. "The song came effortless to me and I love how it expresses the beauty in vulnerability and desire".
• Producer Yasutaka Nakata has released new solo track 'Pico Pico Tokyo', featuring Momo Mashiro.
• Trash Kit have released new track 'Horizon', the title track of their upcoming third album. "'Horizon' is quite literal I think", says frontwoman Rachel Aggs. "I was thinking about the edge of the Earth - how people interpret the planet, how you can sometimes forget the enormity of the world and the universe and how small that can make you feel".
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Gene Simmons holds Pentagon press briefing
Simmons wasn't there to talk about possible military action in the Middle East (oh how long I've waited to type that sentence), although he did talk about the contribution made by military service people. According to reports, he met with a number of soldiers and then, when standing at the podium in the press briefing room, choked back tears as he spoke of his mother's survival of a Nazi concentration camp.
News of Simmons' visit to the HQ of America's Department of Defence - and his address to journalists - has been reported widely across the news media, which might seem odd. However, it's the first press briefing assembled journalists at the Pentagon have had so far this year, the Trump administration having gone from constantly shouting at the media to just ignoring them. The last time anyone spoke to the press at the Pentagon was when actor Gerard Butler turned up last October to promote his film 'Hunter Killer'.
Information-starved reporters over at the White House also caught a glimpse of Simmons when he turned up there as well yesterday. Although he didn't address them directly and refused to say what the purpose of his visit was. Journalists tasked with covering White House events continue to wait for someone to come and talk to them, while the lectern in the press briefing room literally gathers dust.