|FRIDAY 26 JULY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Good news everybody, Woodstock 50 has found a new venue. And it's a mere four and half hours drive away from the original site. True, it can only accommodate 32,000 people, just over a fifth of the original capacity for the event, but with 21 days to go and no tickets as yet sold, a smaller bash is probably wise. The shift also means that the official celebrations of Woodstock's 50th anniversary will be held in Maryland rather than New York state... [READ MORE]|
Woodstock 50 set to shift states as third possible venue is chosen
Plans to stage Woodstock 50 have been more entertaining than any actual festival that might now take place. Along the way organisers lost their financial backers, production partners and venue. A new site was quickly found, but it turned out that the deadline had already passed for getting a licence from the local town council. Officials considered the proposed event anyway, but raised a wide assortment of concerns, not least where the proposed 65,000 ticket-buyers were going to sleep, given the new site had no camp site.
The event will now take place at the Merriweather Post Pavilion venue in Columbia, Maryland. The plan to move not only venue but also state was first revealed by Bloomberg and then confirmed by organisers to the New York Times. Apparently an official from Howard County - in which Columbia sits - first proposed shifting the event there. With that support already in place, Team Woodstock approached Merriweather Post Pavilion operator IMP.
That company's Chair, Seth Hurwitz, is quoted by Rolling Stone as saying: "Woodstock 50 approached Merriweather about hosting their event here in Columbia. The Woodstock folks are working on securing the artists now. If the bands come, we'll produce the show. We're looking forward to getting an update as soon as Woodstock 50 has one".
That means the latest Woodstock 50 plan depends on enough of the artists originally booked for the festival agreeing to take part in this relocated, streamlined show. Although Team Woodstock have been somewhat vague of late regarding their ongoing conversations with the artists, they did, at one point, so that "many" of the acts were still supporting the festival.
At least one of the artists who played the original Woodstock in 1969 and who was due to return for the 50th - John Fogerty - has confirmed he will not be playing the Maryland show. It remains to be seen what the other bigger name artists say. Presumably the smaller new venue means organisers can accommodate fewer acts anyway.
Assuming they get enough artists on board for the revamped show to go ahead, apparently the plan is to reposition Woodstock 50 as a benefit show in aid of not-for-profit organisations devoted to improving voter turnout and tackling climate change.
Which isn't too far removed from Woodstock 50's original political agenda, though it does sound a little like organisers are trying to manage expectations somewhat, by promising a benefit concert rather than a full-on festival experience.
We now await confirmation about what will actually occur on 16, 17 and 18 Aug.
European societies and publishers agree standards for digital royalty processing
The working group goes by the name TOWGE - or the Technical Online Working Group Europe - and includes the PRS/STIM/GEMA owned copyright hub ICE, which yesterday published information about the new standards.
As the recent 'Song Royalties Guide' published by the Music Managers Forum and CMU Insights explains, the way songwriters are paid royalties by the streaming services is complicated. For various reasons monies often pass down an assortment of different royalty chains between service and writer, with delays and deductions potentially occurring at each link in the chain. Royalties due for a single stream of a single song may pass down multiple chains, and writers are often in the dark as to what chains are employed and why.
On top of that, streaming services don't know what songs they are streaming and therefore don't know who to pay. Which means that whichever society, publisher or agency is the first link on any one royalty chain needs to process usage data from each streaming service, identify which streams were of songs it represents and invoice for the money that is due.
Widely documented issues around music rights data - and the often incomplete and inconsistent copyright ownership information that sits in the wide assortment of databases used by the music industry - means there are issues with this claiming of royalties. On some streams royalties are over-claimed and services may halt payments entirely, while on others there are under-claims and no one quite knows what to do with the unclaimed money.
There are multiple problems across the song royalty system and each problem probably needs to be solved in isolation. But at the same time, having some standards in the way societies and publishers go about claiming royalties from streaming services is a good starting point. Which is what TOWGE has been trying to do by consulting its members and the digital services.
In its blog post on the new standards, ICE says it is "delighted at the adoption of best practice by TOWGE members to help clean up invoicing practices for digital services", hoping that efforts like this can "minimise dispute frequencies and values" and "maximise the accuracy of invoicing".
Many of the agreed principles contained in the new TOWGE standards are basically common sense. So, things like not claiming for tracks not yet matched to a song, or for songs whose ownership is currently in dispute, or based on unofficial ownership information. But nothing should ever be assumed as a given, so there is still a definite value to having all the basics agreed in writing.
In addition to commitments on how societies, publishers and agencies should process and claim royalties, there are also some agreed standards on invoicing and data management.
ICE says that it is already fully compliant with the new standards and that other TOWGE members are committed to making sure they comply within the next few months.
It's hoped, the ICE blog adds, that standards like this will help make digital royalty payments faster and more accurate. This agreement is also a "building block", it says, towards wider industry agreement on how unclaimed digital royalties should be distributed, another tricky issue that impacts on the income of songwriters, but where said writers have often not been properly involved in any debate on a solution in the past.
You can read ICE's blog post here.
Congressman namechecks Metallica tracks aplenty while calling for new ticketing rules
However, whereas Springsteen gets a namecheck because of his past opposition to the touting of his tickets, Metallica were the band of the moment during Pascrell's speech because of their collusion with the touts. Or 'scalpers', I guess, as we are talking about American shows.
Pascrell has been pushing for US-wide regulation of the ticketing market for a decade now. His original Boss Act followed Springsteen's criticism of Ticketmaster after it sent fans to its resale site Tickets Now when primary tickets were, in fact, still available for this shows.
Since then the Congressman has had various goes at introducing new laws regulating both primary and secondary ticketing, with the latest incarnation of his Boss Act being presented to Congress last month.
The new proposals followed a recent FTC-organised day which debated various issues with the American ticketing market, including the failure of ticketing sites to declare all their fees upfront, promoters secretly allocating large quantities of tickets to corporate clients, and secondary sites not providing buyers with important information.
Since the new Boss Act was presented, Billboard ran its report on how, in 2017, Live Nation and Ticketmaster collaborated with Metallica to put 88,000 tickets from a US tour directly onto the secondary market.
The live giant insists that it only participates in such schemes when an artist initiates them, that such tactics have only ever been used by a small number of acts, and that the rise of VIP and premium ticketing solutions mean few performers still seek to tout their own tickets.
But, speaking to the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Pascrell said that the Metallica revelations were proof as to why the ticketing market needs regulating. Dropping the Metallica song titles in, he said that 'Wherever I May Roam' music fans express frustration with the ticket buying experience.
"It is important to emphasise that the market place has been governed by zero federal regulation", he added, which means that the dominant player in live music and ticketing - ie Live Nation/Ticketmaster - "operates with impunity". And - wait for it - "'Nothing Else Matters' to them but profit. It is time for Congress to 'Turn The Page'".
Running through the various measures contained in the latest version of his Boss Act, Pascrell said that his proposals were supported by pretty much every consumer rights group. Meanwhile, on the specific proposal to force ticketing platforms to declare all fees upfront, he noted that even the ticketing platforms seemed to suggest they'd support such a thing during that recent FTC debate.
Although some states in the US do regulate ticket sales, Pascrell argues that US-wide federal regulations are now required. A decade on from the original Boss Act, it was not time - he said - for Congress to "pass legislation to impose some order, and to stop bad actors who make a living ripping off regular folks daily".
You can watch Pascrell's full speech here.
AIF disappointed at government response to select committee's recommendation on competition in the live sector
Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee published a wide-ranging report on the live music industry back in March, following various sessions involving representatives from across the sector. The report had lots to say about secondary ticketing, the challenges facing grassroots venues, and concerns about licensing systems that discriminate against certain genres, often based on the ethnicity of the target audience.
However, also among the recommendations in that report was one that suggested that the Competition & Markets Authority might "consider conducting a market study of the music industry to assess whether competition in the market is working effectively for both consumers and those working in the industry".
That was in part in response to concerns raised by AIF about the ever-increasing dominance of Live Nation in the festival and wider live entertainment market. The trade body had previously called on the UK competition regulator to "properly scrutinise Live Nation's vertical integration and dominance, and the detrimental effect it has on the independent festival market".
The government responded to the select committee's various live music related recommendations earlier this week in a predictably non-committal fashion, wherever possible name-checking existing government or industry initiatives that address some of the concerns raised by the parliamentarians.
On the competition investigation point, it simply said that the CMA is an independent regulator and as such it was for the authority's own leadership to decide what studies it should undertake. But it then added that the CMA has already been working on issues around secondary ticketing in the wake of the government's own 2016 Waterson Report on the ticket resale market. Which is, of course, true, the CMA having been ever more prolific in this domain of late, in particular in trying to force pesky Viagogo to fall in line with consumer rights law.
However, AIF has countered, the Waterson Report and the CMA's subsequent work on the secondary ticketing market isn't really relevant here, it being a very specific aspect of the live industry, while the select committee's recommendation regarding a possible investigation on competition in the music market was much wider.
AIF boss Paul Reed said yesterday: "Following a robust and wide-ranging inquiry and report into live music from the DCMS select committee, this is a derisory response from government. Referring to the Waterson Report avoids the breadth and depth of the issues AIF has outlined in terms of the widespread dominance of a single company, Live Nation, across the live music sector".
"Professor Waterson's remit was focused firmly on secondary ticketing", he added. "The report did look at primary ticketing, but not to the extent this response implies. Regardless, it is well established that competition issues in the live music sector go way beyond ticketing and we will continue to ring the alarm bells around the systemic issues arising from the increasing grip of vertically integrated major corporations along the live music supply chain and the effect this has on competition".
Concluding, the AIF boss said: "The problem is only going to get worse if it is not addressed properly and swiftly. We will be writing to the relevant government ministers accordingly".
Above & Beyond make new album available in Calm meditation app
The trio's entry into ambient music came when they soundtracked a yoga session at the Burning Man festival in 2014. They've since gone on to start many of their shows with yoga sets. Which means their partnership with Calm perhaps makes the most sense out of all of artists who have collaborated with the app so far.
"Our music has always been about getting in touch with, and understanding and accepting, our emotions", says Above & Beyond's Paavo Siljamaki. "After those amazing yoga sets, we realised that there is a bigger place for this more reflective music within our little universe".
"With the 'Flow State' project", he adds, "we want to help bring people's attention and focus towards helping themselves find better mental fitness and overall happiness in life. Through raised awareness, being more present, one can reach a state of flow: a creative and free state of mind where time, fear and stress dissipate".
Moby's contribution to Calm's growing music library was also an ambient album, initially released exclusively through the app. Sigur Rós, meanwhile, gave it the latest of their 'Liminal' playlists - one aimed at sending you to sleep.
You can listen to the album in the Calm app now, or on any of the more stressful traditional music services. Play the album as a continuous mix on YouTube here.
G Flip announces debut album, About Us
"I thought about releasing an album a lot growing up", she says. "I would sit in the lounge room holding dad's record collection in awe, I was intrigued, I wanted my own. It's a big moment, I'm super stoked to drop my debut".
However, this whole venture could have stopped before it even started. G Flip explains: "I wrote so many songs about my on-and-off relationship. I hadn't seen this girl in a year, so when we caught up at the end of 2017, she asked me what I've been doing and I told her I had written a heap of songs, and that I was going to try it out as solo musician now".
"I showed her all the songs and asked her one important question", she adds, that being "Would you care if I released these because they're all about us?". And, "luckily she didn't mind, otherwise out of respect to her, this music would never have seen the light of day. So it made perfect sense to call my debut album 'About Us'".
The album will be out on 30 Aug. Among other things it contains her four previously released singles and 'Stupid', which you can listen to here.
The Secretary Of State For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport in the UK's new comedy government - Nicky Morgan - issued a statement welcoming herself to her new job yesterday. She said: "It's an absolute privilege to take on this fabulous role. DCMS's dynamic and much-loved sectors are at the heart of what makes the UK a great place to live, work and do business. They are our global calling card, encouraging investment, driving innovation and making the UK a country people around the world want to visit. I will be working hard to make sure the future for our world-leading sectors is a bright one". Yeah, I'm not sure there's going to be any time for that.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Vivendi confirmed yesterday that it has now selected the banks that will work on the sale of a stake in the Universal Music Group, though it didn't name them. The French conglom also confirmed that Universal's revenues are booming thanks to booming streaming income from all those booming services in the booming streaming sector. Boom!
In an attempt to make the internet implode, BTS have remixed Lil Nas's 'Old Town Road' under the new name 'Seoul Town Road'. See what they did there? Meanwhile, Blondie are also covering the surprise hit live.
The 1975 have released the first track from their upcoming fourth album, featuring spoken word vocals from climate change activist Greta Thunberg. Shrewd marketing releasing it during a fuck-off major heatwave.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor recently said that she'd like to recreate the 'Murder On The Dancefloor' sample used on Skepta's 'Love Me Not' live. Well now she has.
Liam Gallagher has released new single 'Once'. "'Once' is one of the best songs I've ever had the pleasure to be part of, and believe you me I've sang on many a great tune", he says modestly.
Alter Bridge have released new single 'Pay No Mind'. Their new album, 'Walk The Sky', is out on 18 Oct. They will also be touring the UK in December, finishing with a show at London's O2 Arena on 21 Dec.
Friendly Fires have released new single 'Run The Wild Flowers'.
Slowthai has released the video for 'Toaster' from his debut album 'Nothing Great About Britain'.
Laurie Anderson has teamed up with Tibetan musician Tenzin Choegyal and composer Jesse Paris Smith for new album 'Songs From The Bardo', a sonic exploration of 'The Tibetan Book Of The Dead'. It'll be out on 27 Sep. From it, this is 'Lotus Born, No Need To Fear'.
Charli XCX features on new Pabllo Vittar track 'Flash Pose'.
Ross From Friends has announced that he will release new EP, 'Epiphany', on 16 Aug. Listen to 'The Revolution' now.
Liz has released new single 'Diamond In The Dark', featuring Slayyyter. "'Diamond In The Dark' is about celebrating the value in your own vulnerability, and continuing to love hard even though people may have taken you for granted in the past", she says.
The Mercury Prize shortlist was announced then. Thankfully, the speculative list we put together in yesterday's CMU Daily before the official announcement turned out to be completely accurate. Come on Shitty Bees!
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
#AlexFromGlasto releases debut single
As you may remember, six weeks ago Dave was performing at Glastonbury and got to the bit in his set where he was to perform AJ Tracey collaboration 'Thiago Silva'. But Tracey was not there, what to do? He asked if anyone in the crowd would be able to step in. Mann and his friends made it clear that he could. He did. And a star was born.
Of course, you might be thinking that Mann already had some music in the bag and his impromptu Glasto spot provided a fortuitous platform to promote it. Although the line in the new track "It's Alex from Glasto, see me on stage with my hat low" suggests not.
Whatever, this track, 'What Ya Kno Bout That Bro', has been premiered on GRM Daily. Says the young rapper: "I'm so grateful for what's happened. Six weeks ago I finished my GCSEs and then went to Glastonbury with a few of my mates. Dave changed my life forever".
So that's nice for him, but I think anyone else involved in this should probably be feeling a bit sheepish right now. Listen to the track here.