|WEDNESDAY 12 JUNE 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Universal Music has disputed an article in the New York Times which reports that the major kept secret that up to half a million of its master recordings were lost in a fire in 2008... [READ MORE]|
Universal denies 2008 master recording fire was as devastating as new article claims
In a statement to Variety, the company says that the NYT article contains "numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets".
The article tells the story of a fire that broke out on the backlot at Universal Studios Hollywood eleven years ago.
In reporting on said fire at the time, the music archive held there was barely mentioned - the Universal film and music companies being entirely separate by that point. When it was actually brought up, the record label said that the damage was minimal, with most of the master recordings previously kept at the site already moved to a new location and most of the recordings in the archive by then digitised.
However, the New York Times cites confidential reports from 2009 putting the loss of masters during the fire somewhere between 118,230 and 500,000. Among those lost, the newspaper claims, were recordings by artists from the 1930s up to the early 21st century, including music by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, REM, Janet Jackson, Nirvana, 50 Cent, and many more.
The article goes on to quote an internal Universal document from 2009 that said: "The West Coast Vault perished in its entirety. Lost in the fire was, undoubtedly, a huge musical heritage".
Various artists allegedly affected by the fire have already commented on the NYT report, directly or via their representatives, including REM, Hole, The Roots and Asia. While some where aware that their master recordings were missing, none seemed to have known about the warehouse fire that the newspaper now says destroyed them.
In a statement on behalf of Steely Dan, their manager Irving Azoff says: "We have been aware of 'missing' original Steely Dan tapes for a long time now. We've never been given a plausible explanation. Maybe they burned up in the big fire. In any case, it's certainly a lost treasure".
In a post on Twitter, Questlove said that he has "been dying to find all the old reels and mix the eight or nine songs that never made" Roots album 'Do You Want More' in order to release them. Although he adds that the final masters for the record as it was released are definitely safe.
Denying that the NYT article presents an accurate picture of the damage caused in the 2008 fire, Universal tells Variety: "Music preservation is of the highest priority for us and we are proud of our track record. While there are constraints preventing us from publicly addressing some of the details of the fire that occurred at NBC Universal Studios facility more than a decade ago, the incident - while deeply unfortunate - never affected the availability of the commercially released music nor impacted artists' compensation".
The company adds that it has released "tens of thousands of back catalogue recordings ... in recent years - including master-quality, high-resolution, audiophile versions of many recordings that the story claims were 'destroyed'. UMG invests more in music preservation and development of hi-resolution audio products than anyone else in music".
The NYT article does note that music contained on the master tapes that had been formally released likely still exists in various other forms. However, it also speculates that the lost masters probably contained higher quality versions of many of the recordings out in the world, and also a large amount of music that was never made public, and which therefore may not be stored anywhere else.
While the extent of the damage may never be known exactly, the New York Times article does raise questions about how all of the music industry's old master tapes are stored, and how much of that music is yet to make its way onto a hard drive somewhere.
Alleged conspiracies and safe harbour technicalities dominate MegaUpload's Supreme Court hearing
The US government is still trying to extradite MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and some of his former colleagues to face charges of criminal copyright infringement in an American courtroom, of course. That extradition process has now been underway for more than seven years and - although at each stage judges have ruled that there is a sufficient case against Dotcom et al to warrant extradition - the appeals process is not yet exhausted.
Both sides have already presented their key arguments to the Supreme Court judges since the case got underway in the top court at the start of the week. A legal rep for Dotcom talked a lot about the safe harbour, arguing that when safe harbour protection for internet providers was inserted into New Zealand copyright law, law-makers intended companies like that formerly run by his client to be protected.
The main MegaUpload file-transfer service was just like Dropbox, lawyer Ron Mansfield said, and sister site MegaVideo was just like YouTube. Those sites enjoy safe harbour protection - so that they cannot be held liable for the copyright infringement of their users - which means Team Mega should be protected from liability as well.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Mansfield told the court: "Megaupload, its technology and the service it provides, would probably be similar to Dropbox. It's a service where you can store your electronic files or you can use it to transfer your electronic files from ... person to person. You, the user, decide if you're simply storing it or making it available to another. That, in a nutshell, is Megaupload. Megaupload, like Dropbox, can be used for non-infringing use or for infringement".
These are not new arguments by any means. American prosecutors argue that while, in theory, a site like MegaUpload might enjoy safe harbour protection - in both New Zealand and the US - the alleged conduct of the MegaUpload management, specifically incentivising users to share more infringing content, means any safe harbour protection falls away.
When asked about the MegaUpload terms and conditions which said users must not upload copyright infringing material, legal man Kieran Raftery, representing US prosecutors, said those terms were a "sham". MegaUpload management were, in fact, he said, involved in a clear conspiracy, rewarding users who uploading infringing content, and then charging membership fees to others who wanted to access that content in full.
In just a few years, Raftery then alleged, the MegaUpload team built an unprecedented infringement operation. "When it comes to copyright infringement, the advent of the internet has changed the landscape considerably", he told the court. MegaUpload signed up 180 million users during its seven years in business. "That is the sort of figure that would have made copyright infringers of the 19th and 20th century all green with envy".
Of course, the NZ Supreme Court is not actually charged with the task of finding Dotcom et al guilty - or not - of criminal-level copyright infringement. It just needs to decide whether or not the conspiracy to defraud the entertainment business that MegaUpload is accused of conducting is sufficient to justify extradition under New Zealand's treaty with America.
Or for one of the accused, whether or not he was even involved in any alleged conspiracy in any meaningful way. Among all the talk about safe harbours and conspiracies, one lawyer, working for former MegaUpload marketing man Finn Batato said that his client should be distinguished from his ex-colleagues. He wasn't a shareholder in the business, barrister Anthony Rogers argued, again according to the Herald. Moreover, "there is no evidence he did anything other than [what] any employee is his position would do".
The case continues.
IMRO confirms direct partnership with ICE
IMRO previously collaborated with UK society PRS on digital licensing and therefore was part of the ICE licence via that alliance. But by linking directly into ICE itself - which in turn can license IMRO rights to streaming services in multiple territories - there will be fewer links in the often overly complicated digital royalty chains.
And if you take a quick glance of the 'Song Royalties Guide' produced by CMU Insights and published by the Music Managers Forum last month, you'll see how simpler, shorter royalty chains should be everyone's objective.
"Partnering with ICE directly ensures that IMRO stays at the forefront of the growing digital marketplace at a crucial time", IMRO Commercial Director For Media Licensing, Seán Donegan, said earlier today. "This partnership will expedite the payment of digital royalties to IMRO members, at the most competitive rates possible, thus shortening and simplifying the digital royalty chain".
He added: "The use of ICE's cutting-edge business intelligence tools will enhance IMRO's online monitoring, providing additional insight into how often, on what platforms, and in which countries, consumers are enjoying an ever popular and growing IMRO repertoire".
Speaking for the ICE side, the hub's VP Commercial Ben McEwen said: "We are very pleased to welcome IMRO as a direct customer for ICE's core licence. It is validation for the expertise and focus we have put into our licensing services, which are enabling our rightsholders to access online income from a broader range of multi-territorial services and for a broader range of territories than ever before".
Although IMRO will now allow ICE to include many of its members' rights in its Core licence, it will also continue to collaborate with the big publishers where they have chosen to do direct deals for their Anglo-American catalogues in the streaming space.
Those direct deals usually bundle together the mechanical rights that are controlled by the publishers themselves with the accompanying performing rights, which are usually controlled by societies like PRS and IMRO. The new ICE partnership won't affect those publisher tie-ups, though some of those publishers also work with ICE on digital licensing.
Live Nation launches UK electronic music division
Maybe that means they are dubbing the UK an 'electronic nation', heralding the long term success of dance and electronic music in this country. Or maybe they had to think of a name really quickly and that was the best they could do.
Anyway, the new division will be led by Cream MD Scott Barton, and will bring all of Live Nation UK's electronic music activity together. This includes festivals such as Creamfields and Steel Yard, as well as electronic artist tours, clubs and shows.
"Electronic music has always been at the heart of what we do", says Barton. "We have a dedicated team who work hard to connect fans to electronic music events across the UK. As the scene continues to grow, the knowledge and experience we have is key to our success".
Live Nation UK & Ireland Chair Denis Desmond adds: "With Scott's outstanding record managing global brands Cream and Creamfields, this new division is a major advance for Live Nation and for artists and acts in this genre".
Barton is currently MD of the Cream club brand - and is the younger brother of the club's co-founder James Barton. James also previously worked at Live Nation, and was President of Electronic Music at the company until 2016. He now runs acquisitive live music firm Superstruct Entertainment.
Chvrches to perform on new BBC music show Tune
Originally run as a series of short, four minute standalone segments on the new BBC Scotland channel earlier this year, 'Tune' has now been expanded into a 30 minute magazine show format. Presented by The LaFontaines frontman Kerr Okan, the first episode in the expanded format featured a live performance from Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes at Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms and Lewis Capaldi performing on a hill, plus features on dance music event Terminal V, Glasgow's grime scene and punk band Bratakus.
"The new BBC Scotland channel since launch in February has been committed to taking chances on TV formats that genuinely reflect life, experiences and passions of audiences for telly and digital", says producer Ally McCrae. "So it felt natural to create a late night, authentic music show that does just that. Something that celebrates the magic of live music, the talent and stories behind the scenes and does justice to the excitement you only get as a fan at the biggest club nights and sold out gigs".
"We wanted to create a show that gets out of large, cold, studios and into where the fans are, not simply featuring Scottish only acts, but showing what young Scotland is turning up for and being inspired by", he continues. "By doing that we feel we've created a show that speaks to music fans across the UK, and across genres, thanks to the team here at BBC Scotland and the talents of Forest Of Black, who shot all our live footage".
Asked about the challenges that have made TV broadcasters wary of music shows in recent years, McCrae adds: "Yes, music telly seems like a challenge to get audiences from, to some, but we believe when it's well-crafted and with the artists and fans at the forefront, that there will be an audience for that".
The show really does employ a fresh and exciting approach to music on TV, and should have an appeal well beyond Scotland. Episode two, featuring Chvrches, Fatherson's Ross Leighton, rappers Nova Scotia The Truth and Kojaque, and a look at Dundee's thriving metal scene, airs tomorrow at 11pm on BBC Scotland.
Radiohead release archive of OK Computer demoes in response to ransom demand
News of the unreleased material, which includes early demoes and live recordings, emerged after some Radiohead fans reported being approached by a bootlegger offering to sell it to them. Some were seemingly pitched the whole collection, while one Reddit user said that they had been offered a price of "$800 per studio track and $50 per live track".
The band have responded by releasing the entire collection of music themselves on Bandcamp, charging £1 to download each of the eighteen minidisc's worth of music. I have quite a good eye for a deal, so I can tell you now that £18 is a considerably better price than $150,000. Also, the money the band make will be donated to climate change activism charity Extinction Rebellion, rather than going to some opportunistic dickbag.
The archive will be officially available for eighteen days, after which you'll have to pay whatever the aforementioned scammer is charging by then, or download it all on a file-sharing network. Neither of which you should actually do, obviously.
"We got hacked last week", confirmed the band's Jonny Greenwood on Twitter. "Someone stole Thom's minidisc archive from around the time of 'OK Computer", he wrote, adding that that person seemingly tried to extort money by threatening to release it all, as well as subsequently trying to sell the files. "Instead of complaining - much - or ignoring it, we're releasing all [of it] on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion ... So for £18 you can see if we should have paid that ransom".
He added that the music in the release was "never intended for public consumption" and "only tangentially interesting", as well as being "very, very long".
In a message on the Bandcamp page for the release, Thom Yorke echoed this sentiment, saying that "it's not v interesting" and "there's a lot of it". However, he went on: "As it's out there, it may as well be out there until we all get bored and move on".
So, hey, that's really selling what is now a charity release, isn't it? At least Extinction Rebellion was more upbeat about the whole thing, saying in a statement: "Extinction Rebellion would like to thank Radiohead for their gift and gesture of support ... The climate and ecological emergency demands courage, truth-telling and generosity like never before. We are so grateful to Radiohead for showing us how that's done, both now and in the lead up to the April rebellion. Words are inadequate but actions do change the world".
Coincidentally, a new book published by the charity, 'This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook', is set for release tomorrow. So you could buy that too. Or just that. One or both, those are the options. Or neither, I suppose.
Hipgnosis has got itself two new catalogues - those of country producer Michael Knox and pop songwriter Sam Hollander. Knox is "excited", Hollander says it feels like "joining the 1927 Yankees". Which I think is a good thing.
Australian musician Angie McMahon has signed a deal with Kobalt's AWAL to release her debut album, 'Salt', outside of North America. She has worked with the company on single releases since 2017. "[AWAL] is a free space to have the creativity and career that I envision without any bullshit", says McMahon.
Mike Rivalland has been promoted to the position of General Manager at Virgin EMI. He was previously Senior Marketing Manager at the UK-based Universal label. "It feels majorly appropriate", says Virgin EMI President Ted Cockle.
The Madison Square Garden Company has appointed Jennifer Vogt in the newly created position President Of Creative Content And Production. She will be responsible for the creative development of the new MSG Sphere venues in London and Las Vegas. "I am energised by this incredible opportunity", says Vogt energetically.
Katy Perry has shared a picture of some cookies on Instagram, which fans reckon mean she's collaborated with Taylor Swift. They're probably right, but now what I really want is a plate of cookies.
Danny Brown has released the trailer for his new Viceland comedy show, 'Danny's House'.
Banks has released another single from her upcoming 'III' album, 'Look What You're Doing To Me', featuring Francis And The Lights. The album is out on 12 Jul.
Kindness has announced that he will release his third album, 'Something Like A War', on 6 Sep. From it, this is 'Hard To Believe', featuring Jazmine Sullivan.
Tycho has released another new track featuring Saint Sinner, 'Japan'.
Sir Was has announced that he will release his new album, 'Holding On To A Dream', on 20 Sep. He's also released new single, 'Deployed', featuring Little Dragon. "Just when I thought I was done with this new album the song came along and took me by surprise", he says. "Straight away I could hear Yukimi's voice on it so I just felt like I had to ask her to do it".
Yoshi Flower has released new mixtape, 'Peer Pleasure'.
Kelly Moran and Cassie McQuater have released a new track together, 'Love Birds, Night Birds, Devil-Birds'. "'Love Birds, Night Birds, Devil-Birds' started as a re-imagining of the surrealist story 'The Debutante' by artist Leonora Carrington, in which a young woman exchanges places with a hyena, masked in a suit of human skin, for her societal debut", says McQuater. "[It's] part of an on-going series exploring the mythological idea of women's bodies as dangerous and poisonous gardens, with references to Nathaniel Hawthorne's story 'Rappaccini's Garden' - the origin story of Batman's Poison Ivy".
GIGS & TOURS
Kodaline have announced UK tour dates for November, which will finish with a show at London's Roundhouse on 17 Nov.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Nick Cave offers songwriting advice: "You have the entire world to save and very little time to do it"
Oh yeah, nice try, you're probably thinking. "Sure, here are some lyrics for you", replies Cave, confounding your expectations. He goes on to provide two verses of a song called 'Incinerator Man'. Although he adds that they are "a little on the dark side and pretty obscure", relying heavily on the influence of poet Frederick Seidel.
He goes on: "There is not a hell of lot of structure to it, plus the last verse may need a bit of work - but all that aside, there is some nice symbolism in there and if you chuck on a simple chorus, like "Wo! I'm the Incinerator Man!", and throw it on a lean circular chord formation, with lots of space and air, so that you can really creep the vocal and tell the story, then brother, you may be able to make something worthwhile out of it. I couldn't".
So, there you go, that was easy. Although, he goes on to add that this will not help with the "block" that prompted David to write to Cave in the first place.
"My advice to you is to change your basic relationship to songwriting", Cave goes on. "You are not the 'Great Creator' of your songs, you are simply their servant, and the songs will come to you when you have adequately prepared yourself to receive them. They are not inside you, unable to get out; rather, they are outside of you, unable to get in. Songs, in my experience, are attracted to an open, playful and motivated mind".
"Throw my song away", he commands. "It isn't that good anyway. Sit down, prepare yourself and write your own damn song. You are a songwriter. You have the entire world to save and very little time to do it. The song will find its way to you. If you don't write it, someone else will. Is that what you want? If not, get to it".
Fucking hell, let's all write songs now. I fear what will happen if we don't.