|FRIDAY 19 JULY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Competition & Markets Authority has said that, while Viagogo scored a legal win this week, that doesn't affect the contempt of court proceedings it launched against the rogue ticket resale platform earlier this month... [READ MORE]|
CMA confirms that its contempt proceedings against Viagogo continue
Viagogo yesterday welcomed a court ruling that provided clarity on some of the specific obligations that were contained in an injunction secured by the CMA against the secondary ticketing outfit last year. The resale site and the regulator had disagreed on how those specific obligations should be interpreted and therefore returned to court to get a judicial opinion.
Commenting on that ruling, Viagogo's MD Cris Miller said: "This hearing further demonstrates that there are matters of interpretation of the order on which the CMA should not and cannot be relied upon to make the final determination. We originally disagreed with the CMA on this, and today's announcement validates our position and demonstrates clearly the necessity of being able to challenge the CMA's authority".
He added: "It is clear there remains continued, yet unfounded resistance from the CMA to our role in the market. Regardless, we are hopeful that now we can focus on the platform and the millions of consumers who rely on it".
One of the specific obligations under dispute related to the legal requirement for secondary ticketing websites to display the original face value of any ticket being resold.
Viagogo does now provide this information on its UK site. Though, at first instance, accessing it requires knowing to hover the mouse over a tiny icon that has the initials "FV". On the next page the face value price is listed in a much clearer fashion, although it's stuck on the opposite side of the screen to all the other information about the ticket.
The question for the judge was whether or not Viagogo could provide legally required information in boxes that can only be accessed if the user knows to hover their mouse over a certain icon - what is referred to as 'hover text'. The judge ruled that hover text could be used in certain circumstances, including for the initial declaration of face value price. However, there are limitations.
Explaining the ruling and the restrictions the judge placed on hover text, the CMA said in a statement yesterday: "Today's judgement confirms that Viagogo cannot use 'hover over text' unless specifically allowed by the order and it needs to stop displaying important information about deadlines under its guarantee in this way".
"Although the court found that information about face value prices can be displayed with hover over text on one page of the site", it added, "Viagogo must still display this information on two other separate places on the face of its website".
Of course, critics of online touting would argue that - by employing hover text or by placing legally-required information separately from all the other information - Viagogo is attempting to comply with the regulations while ensuring that most users don't see the inconvenient facts and figures consumer rights law obliges it to publish.
Which means that, even if Viagogo is technically compliant with consumer rights law, it is still employing sneaky tactics to ensure that many consumers buy tickets from touts not out of choice but out of confusion.
And anyway, the CMA argues - while Viagogo may, in fact, be allowed employ hover text the first time it displays the face value of a ticket - that doesn't mean the resale site is fully compliant with consumer rights law. After all, when the regulator began its contempt of court proceedings against Viagogo for failing to comply with all elements of last year's injunction, the site's use of hover text was not one of its complaints.
The CMA spokesperson added: "Today's judgement does not mean that Viagogo is compliant with the court order the CMA secured against it. We still think that Viagogo is breaching parts of the order and so continue to move forward with legal proceedings for contempt of court against the site in relation to those concerns".
Katy Perry denies having ever heard Christian rap track she's accusing of ripping off on 'Dark Horse'
Christian rapper Flame, real name Marcus Gray, sued Perry all the way back in 2014. His lawsuit alleges that Perry and her songwriting team ripped off his track 'Joyful Noise' on 'Dark Horse'. Gray says he doesn't think Perry et al set out to rip off his song, but that they subconsciously infringed his work when writing their hit.
To prove infringement, Gray needs to show that Perry, or one of her songwriting pals, had heard 'Joyful Noise' before writing 'Dark Horse'. And also that the two tracks are sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement.
According to Law 360, on the first point Perry was adamant that she'd never heard 'Joyful Noise' - or, indeed, heard of Gray - before beginning work on 'Dark Horse'. She then talked through her creative process, explaining how - when playing around with her songwriting team - they'd come up with what became the beat in 'Dark Horse'. It was a beat which immediately made her think about the Trojan horse and the power of a woman, she said.
As for the similarity point, Perry's lawyer was equally adamant that the two songs were not sufficiently similar to constitute infringement.
The main similarity is a musical phrase consisting of four C notes followed by two B notes. "This is a common musical building block used in many compositions", attorney Christine Lepera insisted. "This is very basic - like kindergarten-basic. [Gray and his collaborators] cannot monopolise that".
The lawyer then cited other songs that use the same musical phase, including 'Merrily We Roll Along' and 'Jolly Old Saint Nicholas'.
It remains to be seen whether the jury concurs with Lepera on the similarity point. And, if they don't, whether Gray and his team can convince the court that one of Perry's collaborators must have heard 'Joyful Noise' before beginning work on 'Dark Horse'.
Primary Wave signs Dave Navarro
As well as being guitarist in Jane's Addiction, Navarro had a stint in Red Hot Chili Peppers in the mid-1990s, of course. He has also had a couple of solo releases and appeared on a wide range of other artist's tracks, with various acting and telly projects along the way too.
Commenting on the new deal, Navarro said: "When I partnered up with Primary Wave, the first question they asked was 'So, where would you like to see your music being heard?' I had never before been asked for my artistic input from a corporate entity and I was instantly relieved to know that I had finally found a home for my catalogue".
Meanwhile, the music firm's boss Lawrence Mestel added: "We are honoured to have a legendary artist such as Dave join our growing Primary Wave family. Dave's accomplishments speak for themselves. His contributions to Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers left an indelible impression, influencing future generations of musicians".
Multiple parties interested in buying StubHub off eBay, according to reports
In the early 2000s, online ticket touting first started to gain momentum on the main eBay site. A number of start-ups then sprang up specifically skewed towards ticket resale. One of those was StubHub, which eBay then acquired in 2007.
Although the backlash to online touting has gained new momentum in recent years, and despite an increasing number of countries seeking to regulate ticket resale, secondary ticketing is still a lucrative business, especially in the US.
That said, as regulations increase in multiple markets, and with many primary ticket sellers now offering face-value resale services, on a global basis ticket resale platforms are likely to face new challenges in the years ahead.
eBay hasn't specifically commented on possible buyers for StubHub, but it did announce a strategic review of its portfolio earlier this year. And, according to CNBC, earlier this week, the company's CEO Devin Wenig confirmed in an earnings call that "we're ... actively reviewing the role and value of StubHub ... in our portfolio", with the focus on "determining the best path forward to create shareholder value".
7digital CEO and CFO both stand down
The departures closely follow the announcement that eMusic President Tamir Koch has been appointed Chair of the 7digital company. He is providing some of the money 7digital says it needs to avoid falling into administration, and says he sees synergies between the B2B digital music platform and eMusic, especially in relation to the blockchain venture he has been pursuing there of late.
Aalbers joined 7digital in March. Yesterday he said that - while he was confident that the involvement of Koch and eMusic in the business was a good strategy for ensuring 7digital's survival - both he and Hubbard recognised that further cost-savings were necessary.
Reducing the size of the senior management team would provide considerable cost savings. And to that end, Chief Operating Officer Paul Langworthy will become CEO, while eMusic's CFO Michael Juskiewicz will take over Hubbard's duties.
Aalbers explained that overcoming 7digital's financial woes had been his main task since joining the firm. That, he reckoned, was "largely completed ... by securing a new, strategic majority investor, which has stated that it is prepared to invest further funds".
He then added: "The final phase of the fundraising is in progress and we expect an additional £4.5 million to be raised in the coming weeks. These funds will provide the company with the necessary resources to implement the revised strategy and put the company on a solid path towards both growth and profitability. Nevertheless, the company needs to further consolidate and control our operating costs to support the new model".
"To this end", he went on, "Julia Hubbard and I have reached the conclusion, and the board agrees with our recommendation, that it would be in the company's interest for me and Julia to step down. Alongside other cost-cutting initiatives already in motion, this will save the company close to £1 million per annum, reducing cash burn in the most effective way".
Both Aalbers and Hubbard will continue to support the business during a three month transition period.
Confirming all this, the aforementioned Koch said: "I'd like to thank John for his leadership and Julia's strong support in meeting the financial challenges faced by 7digital and for successfully steering the company through these rough waters to safety. I also thank John and Julia for continuing to advise and support the company during the upcoming months to ensure a smooth transition to Paul and Michael".
iHeartMedia lists on Nasdaq
iHeart announced in April that it would likely list on a stock exchange at the conclusion of the restructuring process. Then earlier this month it was confirmed that that would happen via a direct listing onto Nasdaq.
The broadcaster is hoping to now put behind it years of uncertainty that were caused by a massive debt-load which was in turn caused by a stupid 'leveraged buyout' of the company back in 2008. Confirming all that, shortly after yesterday's listing CEO Bob Pittman said: "We've had a very good operating business but our capital structure was not in good shape".
That said, it's no secret that the radio industry has challenges ahead as internet-based audio services increasingly arrive in places where radio has traditionally dominated, in particular the car, the kitchen and the bathroom.
On the music side, iHeart has already been trying to future-proof itself by moving into the streaming domain with its Pandora-competing iHeartRadio service. Though, of course, it's also no secret that building a profitable streaming music business is pretty tricky too.
Which is possibly why, in the run up to the direct listing, Pittman has been talking much more about the podcast boom and how his company hopes to capitalise on that, including via its acquisition of podcast firm Stuff Media last year.
According to Wall Street Journal, Pittman said of the podcasting phenomeon yesterday: "Podcast is radio on demand. We're able to cycle this podcast product into massive reach with broadcast radio - that's our secret weapon building this company out".
Despite all that optimism, iHeart's first day on Nasdaq wasn't so a big success story, with its share price 3% down by the end of the first day of trading.
Kobalt's AWAL has hired Bianca Bhagat, formerly with Glassnote, to be its new LA-based SVP Sync & Brand Partnerships. It's an American role so they write it SVP Synch. But they are wrong.
Laura Davidson is joining AEG's newly launched European festivals division as Head Of Artist Bookings. She was previously with live giant's Goldenvoice division.
Sam Smith's new single is called 'How Do You Sleep?'. Very well, thank you very much.
Mike Skinner and Flohio have collaborated on new track 'How Long's It Been?', recorded live to vinyl at Abbey Road Studios as part of Cognac brand Hennessy's Masters Of Potential shindig.
Dave has posted a video for his track 'Location' from debut album 'Psychodrama'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Music could replace anxiety drugs in pre-surgery scenarios, reckon researchers
This is according to new research from the University Of Pennsylvania, which found that patients listening to soothing music on noise-cancelling headphones had similar anxiety levels to those who had been administered the sedative midazolam. Which suggests that music could be used as a drugless alternative for treating pre-surgery anxiety.
Researchers ran the test on 157 adults, half of whom took the drug, while the other half listened to the instrumental track 'Weightless' by Marconi Union.
While anxiety levels in the drugged-up patients did drop further, the difference between the two groups was not all that significant. And it has been suggested that if patients listened to music for longer, or could choose the music they chilled out to, the musical option could be even more effective.
The concept needs more investigation, the researchers conceded, but nevertheless, "music medicine offers an alternative to intravenous midazolam prior to single-injection peripheral nerve block procedures".
So that's good, isn't it? I expect a 'Surgical Chill Out' playlist to be gaining momentum on Spotify by the end of the day. Filled with tracks from the Epidemic Music libraries, no doubt.