THURSDAY 8 AUGUST 2019 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: A dozen free-market-focused lobbying groups in the US have urged the Department Of Justice to keep in place the consent decrees that regulate American collecting societies BMI and ASCAP. The regulations are required, the groups say, to address anti-trust concerns caused by an "inherently anti-competitive" music licensing market... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Free-market campaign groups insist BMI/ASCAP consent decrees should stay in place
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DEALS Razorlight sign with Absolute Label Services for new album
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS BMG Production Music partners with video creation platform Wibbitz
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LIVE BUSINESS Houghton Festival cancels due to severe weather conditions
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RELEASES Elbow announce new album, Giants Of All Sizes
Battles announce new album and UK tour dates
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ONE LINERS Vicente García, MelodyVR, Tool, more
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AND FINALLY... Devo saying hello, not farewell, with festival show
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Free-market campaign groups insist BMI/ASCAP consent decrees should stay in place
A dozen free-market-focused lobbying groups in the US have urged the Department Of Justice to keep in place the consent decrees that regulate American collecting societies BMI and ASCAP. The regulations are required, the groups say, to address anti-trust concerns caused by an "inherently anti-competitive" music licensing market.

Collective licensing - where rightsholders pool their copyrights and appoint central organisations to license on their behalf - always creates competition law concerns. Which means collecting societies are often regulated in one way or another, either via copyright or competition law. Quite how that works varies greatly around the world.

BMI and ASCAP, which license the performing rights of American songwriters and music publishers, are probably the most regulated via the consent decrees - agreements the two societies reached with the US Department Of Justice decades ago. This is slightly ironic, given that the US societies are much less powerful than their European counterparts, in that BMI and ASCAP don't have exclusive control over their members' music.

For its part, the music industry has long argued that the consent decrees are out of date and should be significantly revised. However, the last time the DoJ reviewed the BMI/ASCAP regulations, just a few years ago, it concluded that the consent decrees were just fine thank you very much, and should be kept in place without any changes whatsoever.

Another review is now underway, with tomorrow the deadline for interested parties to submit their opinions. Ahead of the latest review BMI and ASCAP said in a joint statement earlier this year that the DoJ should "replace the current BMI and ASCAP consent decrees with newly formed decrees that would protect all parties". And those new decrees should include "a sunset provision" that could ultimately end DoJ regulation of collective licensing entirely.

However, the new letter signed by lobbying groups like Frontiers Of Freedom, Citizen Outreach and Institute For Liberty argues that - while those organisations would support the revising or removal of similar DoJ decrees regulating other industries - "the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees remain extremely relevant to a functioning marketplace".

Of course, there is another irony here, in that the organisations signing this letter generally lobby for less government regulation and an unhindered free market. Yet, from a music community perspective, in this letter they are calling for consent decrees that constitute severe government regulation of the songwriter's free market.

But, the letter argues, the market for music licences is "inherently anti-competitive" and therefore "traditional free market principles do not necessarily translate". What's more, "millions of businesses across the country rely on the efficiencies and anti-competitive protections that these decrees provide".

For music users, the real quandary is that collective licensing and the blanket licences collecting societies can provide are really helpful. In the US said music users could go and do direct deals with the music publishers instead of getting licences from BMI and ASCAP, but they don't want to. However, at the same time, they don't like the increased negotiating power that comes with one organisation controlling a massive catalogue of music. Therefore they need regulation to reduce that negotiating power, or at least to stop any abuse of it.

Collective licensing makes sense for the music industry too, and especially for smaller rightsholders and self-published songwriters. And if that process has to be regulated to an extent, maybe that's a necessary evil. But, the music community would argue, those regulations should provide more flexibility for rightsholders, and not force songwriters and publishers to continue licensing their music at rates that seem significantly below market value.

Responding to the submission to the consent decree review by Frontiers Of Freedom et al, a spokesperson for BMI told Law360: "As we shared in our recent open letter to the industry, we believe a gradual and thoughtful transition to a free market, that encourages competition, is the best solution for music creators and licensees alike. We look forward to working with all parties to try and find common ground and solutions that ultimately benefit the industry at large".

After tomorrow's deadline for submissions, it will be interesting to see if the DoJ takes a different line on consent decree reform this time compared to 2016. In the meantime, earlier this year the government agency published a list of the key questions it seeks to answer, which you can read here.

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Razorlight sign with Absolute Label Services for new album
Razorlight... you know Razorlight? Well, Razorlight have signed a deal with Absolute to release a new album next year. The company will provide its full range of label services throughout the entire world. Lucky world.

"Razorlight are a fixture of indie rock", says Absolute's Senior Label Manager Kate Hendry, which I suppose is true. I mean, despite everything, they do keep coming back. "We are really excited by the music so far. The calibre of creativity coming from one of the hardest working bands in the live business has really inspired us and we are looking forward to implementing some bespoke digital marketing strategies, together with traditional retail and D2C marketing, which we think will kick our campaign into action nicely".

So, that all sounds like fun, doesn't it? Wish she'd said more about that D2C marketing though. That's what were really all here to learn about, right? Oh, hang on, here's a quote from the band's manager, Blackbook Management's Roger Morton. Maybe he'll tell us more about the D2C marketing. Don't let us down Roger!

"It's really exciting to be working with Absolute for Razorlight's fifth studio album" says he. "The level of service and creative support they provide was really attractive, especially in the digital arena". OK, that's fine. But D2C? "We're very much looking forward to launching our D2C offering for the album pre-order in October, all supported by some serious live activity with the rest of the festival circuit this summer, moving into an arena tour with our friends Kaiser Chiefs and then onto a headline tour to support the album release".

Phew, thanks Roger! Now we know. And I'm sure you, like me, are now on the edge of your seat just sitting waiting for that October pre-order. Though even then, the album's not actually out until next year. And that's absolutely ages away!

Is there new music we can listen to right now at this very moment? Well, actually, there is, my impatient friend. Because, if you hadn't been so busy bugging Roger for the lowdown on his D2C strategy, I could have told you much sooner that new single 'Cops And Robbers' is out now. Think of it as a pre-pre-order preview. Here it is.

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BMG Production Music partners with video creation platform Wibbitz
Online video creation platform Wibbitz has done a deal with BMG Production Music to make it easier to dump music onto your fancy looking visuals.

So, let's say you're using the good old Wibbitz platform to make an Instagram story promoting your new company selling socks for people who have one massive big toe, now you'll be able to choose from over 250,000 pieces of music to drive even more engagement from the big big toe community.

Wibbitz CEO Zohar Dayan - maybe take a moment to fully appreciate that name - says of the deal: "The Wibbitz video creation platform is built on quality and accessibility, which are the same values that BMGPM brings its customers and partners".

With all those shared values in mind, he adds, "We're THRILLED to be working with BMGPM - their reputation in the music industry and collection of production music is unmatched. We share a common vision - to support the creator community and make quality content production possible and available on a broad scale. The addition of their catalogue will undeniably enhance the quality of our users' videos, all while making the video creation process easier and more enjoyable than ever".

SVP Global, Sales, Marketing & Repertoire at BMGPM, John Clifford - no pause - adds: "BMGPM truly believes in the power that production music can deliver and it's evident that Wibbitz believes the same. Our partnership will continue to champion the hidden hit makers of our catalogue, connecting their music with brands and media companies to leverage the reach of Wibbitz videos and further establish the creative prowess of production music".

But why the fucking fuck am I telling you all of this with words? Words are over, people. It's all about visuals and production music now. So, wouldn't it make more sense for this to all be explained in a video created on Wibbitz using BMGPM music? Yes. Yes it would. So, let's all just pretend I did that from the start. Here's the video.

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Houghton Festival cancels due to severe weather conditions
Another UK festival due to take place this weekend has been cancelled because of a severe weather warning, this time the Houghton Festival in Norfolk.

Following the decision of Newquay's Boardmasters to cancel yesterday, organisers of the Houghton Festival have likewise announced that, because of health and safety concerns caused by the expected weather conditions, their event will not go ahead.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for much of England and Wales, with storms expected tomorrow followed by very strong winds.

The festival at Houghton Hall is curated by Fabric resident Craig Richards and was due to kick off tonight, with the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Four Tet, Shanti Celeste and Derrick Carter on the bill.

In a statement this morning, Richards and his co-organisers said: "Overnight, weather conditions on-site at Houghton Festival have dramatically worsened and are set to deteriorate further into the weekend. Tragically, following this morning's reports and further consultation with authorities, health and safety and all the festival directors, the decision has been made to cancel Houghton 2019".

"We are utterly devastated", they added. "All the hard work, love and creativity that has gone into planning and producing this year's event made this an almost impossible decision to make. This was set to be a wonderful weekend and the boldest step we have ever taken as a festival. However, nothing is more important than the safety of our customers, staff and performers, which would be compromised if we were to go ahead".

Ticket refund information should be published later today.

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Elbow announce new album, Giants Of All Sizes
Elbow have announced that they will release their eighth studio album, 'Giants Of All Sizes', in October. The band's last LP, 'Little Fictions', was released in 2017.

The album is, says frontman Guy Garvey, "an angry, old blue lament which finds its salvation in family, friends, the band and new life" with a "sonically unabashed" sound.

'Giants Of All Sizes' will be released on 11 Oct. First single, 'Dexter & Sinister', is out now. Listen here.

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Battles announce new album and UK tour dates
Battles have fought their way out of the studio to deliver new album 'Juice B Crypts', which will be released into the world in October. The record features guest appearances from Tune-Yards, Shabazz Palaces and Jon Anderson of Yes, among others.

Says the band's Ian Williams: "[The album is] about chord progressions, resolutions, returning home. Take that and throw it into a blender of modern electronic tools like glitching devices, or use melodic lines and take them and regurgitate them and pulverise the traditional stuff, but at the same time try and retain harmonic relationships while completely smashing them up".

Boom! You may or may not be able to make out all of that happening on first single 'Titanium 2 Step', which features Liquid Liquid's Sal Pincipato.

Of that, drummer John Stanier says: "We loved making this record in our hometown of New York and cannot be more pleased that Sal from Liquid Liquid is on the track. It could not have been more perfect".

The album will be out on 18 Oct. Listen to 'Titanium 2 Step' here.

There will be tour dates too. It's all going on! Here are those dates in chronological order:

14 Aug: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
24 Oct: Dublin, Button Factory
25 Oct: London, EartH
28 Oct: Manchester, Gorilla

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DEALS

Warner Chappell has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Dominican singer-songwriter Vicente García. "Vicente is a fearless and dynamic artist whose creativity has no boundaries", says Gustavo Menendez, President of Warner Chappell Latin America.

MelodyVR has signed a deal with Beggars Group to create and distribute virtual reality content using the indie label group's music. "We're pleased to be working with MelodyVR to bring the extraordinary artists that our labels work with to the fast-growing audiences in virtual reality", says Beggars Group's Simon Wheeler.

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APPOINTMENTS

Per Sundin is stepping down from his dual roles as MD of Universal Music Sweden and President of Universal Music Nordic Region to become CEO of Pop House Sweden. Set up in 2014, that company promotes Abba related live shows, including the awful sounding 'Mamma Mia!' dining show. Sundin isn't leaving Universal completely though, he has also been appointed Non-Executive Chairman of Universal Music Nordic Region.

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RELEASES

Tool have released their first new material for thirteen years, the title track from new album 'Fear Inoculum'. They've also opened pre-orders for the deluxe CD version of the LP, which will cost you £80 and comes with a four-inch rechargeable HD screen with exclusive video footage, charging cable, two watt speaker, 36 page book, and MP3 download card that will get you ten minutes more music than features on the CD itself. The album's out on 30 Aug. All signs suggest that it will sound like Tool.

Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony are reprising their 'S&M' show for its 20th anniversary later this year. We know this. But is there a trailer? Well, there wasn't. But now there is. So, the answer is yes. Yes, there is a trailer. Here it is.

James Blake has released the video for 'Can't Believe The Way We Flow', from his 'Assume Form' album.

Why? have released their new album 'Aokohio' as one long YouTube video. It's one of those 'visual albums' the kids are always banging on about, you see. Watch/listen to it here.

Frank Turner has released new single 'The Hymn Of Kissiani'. A new episode of his 'Tales From No Man's Land' podcast explains the story behind it.

Ama has released new single 'Crystal', the second track from her upcoming 'Screenluv' EP.

Sir Was has released new single, 'No Giving Up'. His new album, 'Holding On To A Dream', is out on 20 Sep.

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GIGS & TOURS

Band On The Wall in Manchester has announced a party to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its grand re-opening in 2009. Headlined by Hollie Cook, the all-day event will give you access to ten live acts for a tenner. More details here.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Devo saying hello, not farewell, with festival show
Devo have denied that they are saying farewell or touring, after a festival performance was billed as being part of a "farewell tour".

The band are set to headline the Desert Daze festival in California this October. The other headliners - Wu-Tang Clan, Ween and The Flaming Lips - are all billed as performing classic albums. Devo needed something underneath their name to balance the design, and somehow the words 'farewell tour' got in there. Quite how this happened isn't clear - the festival hasn't commented, and the words remain on the poster and elsewhere on the event's website.

Devo bassist Jerry Casale is adamant that it's wrong, though, telling Rolling Stone: "If we were going to do a farewell tour we would not call it a farewell tour". And, if they were planning a farewell tour under another name - he suggests 'Beginning Was The End' - "it would be Devo choosing when and where to make the announcement".

Devo haven't toured since 2014 and the Desert Daze set will only be their second full live performance since then. Casale and frontman Mark Mothersbaugh have both previously said that they would like to do some sort of farewell tour - "it would be smarter than just fading away", Casale told Rolling Stone last year - but this apparently still ain't it.

Mothersbaugh has also admitted that it's him stopping the band from performing more often, as he is more focussed on his prolific career as a film and TV soundtrack composer. But if he can bring himself to take a break from all that, Casale says that any actual farewell trek might act as some sort of statement about the world, rather than the band.

"Perhaps 2020 before our next presidential [election in the US] would be a perfectly relevant time for Devo to take the stage for one final campaign 40 years after the release of [1980 album] 'Freedom Of Choice'", he says. "Since elections are now rigged by right wing judges, rampant gerrymandering, voter suppression, and manipulation of the electoral college to sabotage the popular vote Devo's canary in the coal mine warning about the loss of liberty and cultural devolution is more dire than ever".

Well, there you go, 2020 isn't far away. We may or may not know more soon.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights and CMU Pathways consultancy units and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU InsightsCMU Pathways and CMU:DIY.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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