|FRIDAY 16 AUGUST 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora have formally filed their appeal over the US Copyright Royalty Board's recent decision regarding the rates that digital services should pay songwriters and music publishers Stateside. In their submission, the tech firms rely heavily on opinions expressed by one of the board's own judges, who disagreed with his colleagues' initial ruling, that ultimately increases the song rate from 10.5% to 15.1%... [READ MORE]|
Spotify et al file their appeal over the US Copyright Royalty Board's song rate increase
The copying of songs is covered by a compulsory licence in the US, which is why judges ultimately get to decide what rates should be paid by companies that exploit the so called mechanical rights. And that includes streaming services.
At the end of its most recent review of all the rates, the CRB decided to increase the total amount paid by streaming platforms to the songs side of the music business from a 10.5% revenue share (based on consumption share) up to 15.1%.
The increase, which will be introduced over a number of years, more or less brings the statutory rate in America in line with what has been negotiated directly with publishers and collecting societies elsewhere in the world. Which is to say, there has been a re-slicing of the digital pie over the last decade, so that the allocation to the song rights has increased slightly, usually to the detriment of the allocation that goes to the recording rights.
Despite that fact, many streaming services hit out at the CRB's ruling once it had been finally set it stone earlier this year, vowing to appeal the decision.
That move has been widely criticised, of course, by the songwriter and publisher communities, both in the US and elsewhere, who argue that the streaming services simply don't want to pay the songwriters a fair rate. Spotify has seen the strongest backlash, with writers and publishers loudly noting that its chief rival in the premium streaming market - Apple - is not appealing the CRB decision.
Since confirming it would appeal, Spotify has insisted that it does not have a problem with the rate increase in principle. Instead, it says, it has issues with various technicalities contained within the revised compulsory licence. And, in the new legal filing from Spotify et al, the tech companies also hit out at the process the CRB went through in in making those revisions.
Their joint brief states: "[The CRB] adopted a rate structure and rate levels no party proposed during the [preceding] hearing. [And] the parties had no opportunity to present or rebut evidence concerning the structure and rates selected". It then adds "When a party is 'afforded no opportunity during the hearing to test, or even examine, the methodology the [board] ultimately adopted', the [board] decision must be vacated".
Many of the criticisms contained within the submission echo the opinions of David R Strickler, the CRB judge who dissented from the majority decision regarding the new rates.
Most of the tech firms - though not Spotify - also take issue with the CRB's decision to backdate its revised rates to the start to 2018.
The trade body for the digital firms yesterday defended its members' position on the CRB ruling, albeit in slightly abstract terms. Digital Media Association CEO Garrett Levin told reporters: "Streaming has reinvigorated the music industry and represents both the present and future of how fans engage with music whenever and wherever they want and how creators reach old fans and make new ones".
"All stakeholders", he went on, "should work to preserve and support the continued, unsurpassed growth that streaming has brought to the industry, and the innovations that have made it possible".
The publishers remain scathing of Spotify et al's decision to appeal the CRB's ruling. The National Music Publishers' Association has also submitted a brief to the court that will hear the appeal. It mainly urges the appeal judges to keep the CRB's decision in place, though it argues that a reduction in royalties for when services offer student or family plan discounts should be removed, because "the board cited no evidence for the proposition that students and family members have a low willingness to pay for streaming music".
It remains to be seen how appeal judges respond to both sides' respective arguments. But in the meantime, American songwriters and publishers will seek to ensure that the streaming firms, and especially Spotify, feel the heat in PR terms for even filing an appeal.
Sony/ATV to rep Scott Weiland's stake in Stone Temple Pilots catalogue
Needless to say, everyone is super THRILLED about the prospect of the Sony publisher managing Weiland's share of the Stone Temple Pilots songs catalogue.
"I am THRILLED", says Sony/ATV Global Chief Marketing Officer Brian Monaco, "about the licensing opportunities that we can create from this incredible catalogue".
"The Weiland family is THRILLED to partner with Sony/ATV", adds Weiland's second wife Mary. "We look forward to opportunities that will introduce the Stone Temple Pilots catalogue to a new generation".
Mothership relaunches Hoxton venue as Colours
The venues company - which also runs Shoreditch's Queen Of Hoxton and The Book Club, as well as Patterns in Brighton - says that Colours will "inject a much-needed vibrancy into Shoreditch's music landscape".
The new look venue will host gigs, club nights and other cultural events, while still operating as a restaurant during the day. Though that won't be the only daytime activity, with Mothership saying that it hopes Colours will become "an incubator for invited local artists and creative networks, providing a free space for collaborators to host meetings, rehearsals and record podcasts".
Confirming all this, Mothership's Chloe Uppington says: "Painting a revolution of raw performance and inclusive and accessible culture, Colours will be a bold and beautiful temple of creativity and celebration of live music. A testament to Hoxton's past, which overflows with seminal moments across club, culture and the art scene, Colours is part of a dedicated push to keep young artists and musicians in East London".
Mothership acquired the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen off previous owner MAMA in 2015, following the latter's acquisition by Live Nation.
Spotify to experiment with price points across Scandinavia
In recent years, the market-leading premium streaming service has been under pressure from many in the music industry to put up its monthly subscription fees, which in most markets haven't changed since launch.
During that time prices have risen on key platforms in the video-on-demand sector. Meanwhile, in music, things like the family plan and student discount have actually resulted in many users paying less to access Spotify-type services. And, of course, in emerging markets premium users don't pay anything like the ten pounds/euro/dollar monthly standard.
But there is a big difference between the video services and the music services, in that Spotify has more or less the same catalogue of content as its competitors. The fear, therefore, is that if one service puts its subscription fees up, its rivals will exploit the resulting price difference.
The hassle of having to start over organising a personal library and subscribing to playlists would likely deter many Spotify users - especially more active uses - from defecting to another service just to save one pound a month. Particularly given the chances are high that the other services would ultimately follow suit on pricing. But in markets where Spotify is still proactively growing its user-base, it would make rival services seem more attractive to new customers.
Hence why it is dabbling with price increases in its most mature markets. It previously increased standard, student and family plan rates in Norway last year. Specifics of the new family plan price rise elsewhere in Scandinavia are not yet known, though presumably it won't apply in Norway.
Spotify generally refers to these pricing tweaks as "tests". Whether it will seek to employ the learnings of these experiments elsewhere, especially in Europe, remains to be seen. But the music industry in the main would very much like to see that happen, and sooner rather than later.
A-Level stats show "deepening crisis" in music education, says UK Music
The stats came out as students in England, Northern Ireland and Wales got their A-Level results yesterday. 5125 of those students took music A-level this year, compared to 5440 in 2018. And although there was a general decrease in the number of people taking A-Levels this time, the overall slip was just 1%.
There has been much talk in recent years about there being a "crisis" in music education across the UK, and especially in England. This is, in part, down to funding cuts, and also as a result of the government prioritising certain subjects, to the detriment of the creative arts.
UK Music says that the latest decline in the numbers of students taking music at A-Level is a "significant blow to efforts to continue to generate our world-leading array of professional musicians and teachers, and seriously threatens the music industry's talent pipeline".
That, in turn, the trade group adds, "jeopardises the economic success story of the UK music industry which contributes £4.5 billion a year to the UK economy".
Dugher himself says: "This year's A-level entry numbers reveal a deepening crisis facing music in education that needs urgent action from the government. There is yet again a worrying drop in the number of people studying music to A-level, which seriously jeopardises the talent pipeline on which our industry relies".
"It is particularly bad news for our efforts to continue to produce highly skilled and talented professionals who often go on to teach music or play in one of the UK's world-leading orchestras", he goes on. "There is also strong evidence to suggest that young people who are engaged in their education through music fare better at maths and English".
Concluding, Dugher adds: "There is [also] a vital economic reason to ensure music is available in all schools, especially as the creative industries contribute more than £100 billion to our economy".
Artist:Entrepreneur Day returns - including edition at Pivotal 2019
The A:E Day is an artist-led event that provides important information and practical advice to help early-stage artists build a long-term career and sustainable business around their music. Hosted by three of the FAC's artist advocates alongside CMU's Chris Cooke, each edition is packed with guides, case studies, interviews and discussions.
The first of this autumn's Artist:Entrepreneur Days is presented in partnership with AWAL as part of the Pivotal music conference in Birmingham on 27 Sep.
FAC and AWAL are hosting their own venue as part of the conference which is where the five A:E Day sessions will take place, providing practical advice for artists on making money, securing their music rights, getting gigs, building a fanbase and choosing business partners.
Alongside the A:E Day, CMU is also hosting another strand of sessions at Pivotal. Before lunch those will put the focus on the Pathways Into Music programme that is mapping music education. The afternoon will then be all about data, kicking off with a speed briefing on the MMF 'Fan Data Guide' that CMU Insights compiled earlier this year.
Meanwhile, more details about the Newcastle and Manchester editions of A:E Day will be announced very soon. For more information about the full A:E programme, click here.
Scottish Album Of The Year Award shortlist announced
But what is on this shortlist? Well, this lot are...
Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert - Here Lies The Body
Says Robert Kilpatrick, GM of SAY Award organiser the Scottish Music Industry Association: "This year's shortlist presents an incredibly exciting and eclectic snapshot of the strength of Scotland's recorded output, and we're delighted to celebrate, promote and reward the incredible works of Scottish artists as we approach this year's ceremony at The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh".
"Best of luck to each of the shortlisted albums", he added. "It's with great pride that through the SAY Award we can shine a light on truly incredible pieces of artistic works that play a key part in our cultural identity as a nation".
Bonehead gets Oasis snaps developed 25 years later
And while the posting of the pics is nicely timed - given the upcoming 25th anniversary of the band's debut album 'Definitely Maybe' - it seems that the main reason Bonehead is sharing the snaps this month is that he's only just got around to having the photos developed.
Because - young people of the world - that's how it used to work. You had a camera, not a phone. You put film in that camera, not power. You only got to take 24-36 photos per over-priced film. And then you sent that film off to be developed - spending yet more money - and waited a whole month to see what your photos looked like.
When they finally did arrive, most were out of focus, had key people obscured or were otherwise shit. You then showed the few good ones to four other people before putting them in a cupboard and never thinking of them ever again. And - young people of the world - please do note, that whole time-consuming, costly, tedious experience was infinitely better than anything you will ever know.
Of course, the other option was to forget to even get the films developed, as happened here. "25 years later, I get eight rolls of film developed..." the guitarist wrote on Twitter yesterday before posting pictures of Oasis backstage before their first ever Glastonbury performance in 1994, and others showing the band in the US. So far he's only shared three of the photos.
Talking of the 25th anniversary of 'Definitely Maybe', there will be a special edition picture disc vinyl release of that album on 30 Aug to mark the occasion, details of which are on the band's website.