|FRIDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Competition And Markets Authority has dropped its legal action against Viagogo, saying that the company has now brought its website in line with the law... [READ MORE]|
CMA drops legal action against Viagogo, says site is now compliant with UK law
The CMA secured a court order against the secondary ticketing website last year, after it failed to voluntarily meet demands the government body had previously made of both it and its competitors. StubHub did meet those demands without legal action, while Live Nation just shut down its two European secondary ticketing sites.
The courts gave Viagogo a deadline of January to fall in line with the CMA's demands and - by doing so - UK consumer rights law. While the site claimed to be compliant several times before and after that deadline, the CMA disputed this and started contempt of court proceedings in July.
At that point the CMA said that it still had various concerns, in particular regarding misleading or unclear messaging on the Viagogo site around ticket availability, seat numbers, seller identity and the fact that a promoter may be allowed to cancel a touted ticket, depending on the terms and conditions of the original sale via a primary ticketing platform.
Announcing that the CMA was now dropping that ongoing legal action, its chief exec Andrea Coscelli said in a statement: "The Viagogo website UK customers now visit is worlds apart from the one they faced before the CMA took action. Key information needed to make informed decisions before buying a ticket is now much clearer, including on where you'll sit in a venue and whether you might be turned away at the door".
"What is clearly not acceptable is the time it's taken to get to this stage", he went on. "Stronger consumer powers are required in the secondary ticketing sector and we will continue to work with the government on the most effective way to achieve this. A key part will be the government's existing plans to give the CMA stronger consumer protection powers, so that it can rule on whether a company has broken the law and impose fines on those infringing companies".
He added that the CMA "will keep up the pressure on Viagogo to ensure that it continues to comply with UK consumer protection law". A further review of the ticket resale site's compliance with its original court order is set for next month.
"If the results of this review, or any other fresh information, suggests the company is not meeting its obligations then the CMA will not hesitate to take further action - through the courts if necessary", concluded Coscelli.
In its own statement, Viagogo said it was "pleased it has been able to work with the CMA to find solutions to the final few areas of discussion, as confirmed by today's statement. We have strived at all times to ensure we are correctly applying the CMA order, this has been a complex and detailed process, and open dialogue with the market authority has been essential".
It continued: "We are grateful to the CMA for their engagement over the past few months and the ability of both parties to work collaboratively to reach this point. Looking ahead we will continue to work with them to ensure we are delivering the best possible service for our customers and challenging the wider ticketing market to raise its standards in the interests of all in the live event world".
Still digesting the decision, Adam Webb of anti-tout campaign FanFair Alliance said that the CMA's decision was "a bolt from the blue, and we need time to assess its ramifications".
"Clearly, the CMA have led in undertaking some important work in bringing Viagogo to heel", he went on. "The site is far more transparent than it was in December 2016, when their enforcement investigation began. However, even leaving aside its historic abuses of UK audiences, which are serious, extensive and well documented, we still hold serious concerns that Viagogo remains non-compliant with a range of consumer protection laws. We continue to share these concerns with the CMA on a regular basis".
"Having gone to the cost and effort of serving Viagogo with a court order, it certainly feels disappointing that our regulator is apparently relinquishing its considerable efforts and not finishing the job", he concluded.
Also criticising the latest development was Sharon Hodgson MP, who has led the campaign against online touting in Parliament. "The Consumer Rights Act was enacted four years ago to protect consumers", she said in a statement. "For over four years, Viagogo have failed to comply with legislation and thousands of fans have suffered as a result. After progress and pressure put on Viagogo by the CMA over the last two years, it is surprising that the CMA have now suspended preparations for court action".
She went on: "Viagogo are not fully compliant with the Consumer Rights Act. Viagogo have made vanity changes which can easily be reversed now that the CMA have taken off the pressure. This is a backwards step and could threaten thousand more consumers going forward. I will be writing to the CMA and the government minister about this issue to put pressure on them to keep this issue under serious review and urge them to step in immediately if further evidence against Viagogo comes to light".
US media regulator asks RIAA to assess the current scale of payola
Bribing radio stations to playlist your music - by offering key execs some cash, or some drugs, or a big TV and a Caribbean getaway - all seems charmingly old school, given that we're now in an age where you can actually profit from scamming the digital listening stats with a room full of PCs set to stream your own music 24/7.
But in some genres and for some demographics scoring airplay remains a key priority for the labels, so does the old school tactic of bribing your way onto the A-list at Shit Music FM still work? A recent article on the American radio sector in Rolling Stone concluded "fuck yes".
"It never went away", urban radio veteran Paul Porter told the magazine. But the nature of the bribes has evolved, he added. "The old days of coming in [to a radio station] with a twelve-inch [record] full of money [and offering] trips and cocaine are all gone. Now everything goes to LLCs and cash apps".
Broadcasting rules that seek to ensure there is a clear distinction between editorial and advertising usually forbid bribes of this kind, aka payola. In the US, where such bribing of radio bosses is legendary, the most relevant law is the Federal Communications Act. Though the question always remains: when does the schmoozing that is a key part of PR and promotions reach a level that it is actually bribery?
Although attempts to crack down on payola in the US radio sector date back to the 1960s, the whole thing was headline news most recently in 2004 when then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer went after the record companies and radio networks on this issue. Fines were paid and commitments to do better were made by both labels and stations.
In a letter sent to the RIAA earlier this week, FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly wrote: "To the extent that payola is currently occurring within the industry, I am writing to ask for your help in ensuring that the practice be discontinued".
The FCC boss added that the record industry trade group was "uniquely situated" to assess current industry practices and identify whether bad or illegal conduct continues.
And although he didn't specifically name-check the Rolling Stone article, he did basically acknowledge it by stressing that he hoped the scale of payola today had been "overstated or misrepresented" by recent media reports.
O'Reilly concluded by saying he expected a response from the RIAA by the end of the month.
US record industry revenues rise 18% as streaming boom continues
The closest you get to a YouTube dig is him commending the record industry's past record of "standing up to big tech platforms that have avoided accountability to exploit artists and grossly underpay for music".
In that RIAA stats pack it's confirmed that total revenues generated by recorded music sales and services in the US in the first half of 2019 were up 18% to $5.4 billion.
Premium streaming is still behind the growth, of course, with more than 60 million paying subscribers of one kind or another in the market. Streaming at large now generates 80% of the US record industry's income, with 9% coming from downloads, 9% from physical products, and a neat little 2% from sync deals.
These positive stats, writes RIAA boss Mitch Glazier, are "great news for the music business and for the US economy overall. Music contributes $143 billion to the nation's GDP every year, supporting more than 157,000 music-related businesses and nearly two million jobs. A healthy music economy fuels a healthy American economy".
He does then reference those past efforts by the record companies to enforce their rights in the digital market and the wins for the wider music community in last year's Music Moderinzation Act. But Glazier's blog post doesn't include any call for further help from lawmakers to boost anti-piracy laws or reform the aforementioned safe harbour, as has been typical of official record industry postings for years now.
Instead he focuses on how labels are so fucking good at embracing new platforms and technologies and that - as a result of all that - the good times are back, and the labels are using all the new cash to invest in new music and new artists, who need a label partner to "help them make it in an increasingly complicated and high tech business".
"This continued growth lets record companies do more than ever to discover, promote, and protect great artists", Glazier reckons. "Worldwide, labels now spend nearly $6 billion a year to find talent, enable artists to record, cut through the noise, and be heard. Finding and developing new talent is the lifeblood of the business, with 20% of a major label's roster of artists signed fresh each year".
So look at that: Innovation! Investment! Success! Anyone else getting nostalgic for the years when it was all fucked? Not Glazier. "Let's keep it going", he concludes.
Crowdfunder launched for touring mental health book
"Touring can be a highly rewarding and exhilarating experience", says MITC founder Tamsin Embleton - formerly a festival and venue booker. "But it can also be very stressful to mind, brain and body with difficulties ranging from drug-induced psychosis, performance anxiety, addiction, burn-out, conflict, relationship difficulties, anxiety, depression, issues around identity, loneliness, disrupted sleep patterns and insomnia, trauma, relationship difficulties and post-tour depression".
She goes on: "'The Mental Health & Touring Manual' will provide a one stop shop of psychoeducation, guidance and vignettes from clinicians, musicians and tour managers on how best to cope on the road. We'll help you identify and assess risk, open up conversations about mental health and plan for a healthy tour".
Contributors to the book will include Dr Dianna Kenny and Dr Paula Thompson, both of whom have researched clinical issues faced by performers. Thompson identified in research last year that artists with experience of childhood trauma are often some of the most intense and engaging onstage, but also most in need of support off it.
Alibaba invests into NetEase's music service as rivals collaborate to take on Tencent
In a newly announced deal, Alibaba and the private equity fund of its founder Jack Ma - Yunfeng Capital - will together pump $700 million into the NetEase Cloud Music business.
Although NetEase will retain control of its music platform, in a statement confirming the deal Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said his company "looks forward to becoming a partner in the future development of NetEase Cloud Music and exploring innovative collaboration in the digital entertainment space".
Alibaba isn't the first NetEase competitor to invest into NetEase Cloud Music. Last year there was an investment from Baidu, a company which - despite being enemy number of the global music industry for years because of its MP3 search engine - had, at one point, been seen as the likely contender to lead the emergence of a legit digital music sector in China. But that was before the rise of Tencent's music business.
Tencent, of course, also represents the major label catalogues in the Chinese digital sector, which further strengthens its position in a market where exclusivity deals between artists, labels and streaming platforms are more prevalent.
Although, under pressure from the Chinese government, the country's web companies have got better at licensing each other most of the music catalogues they exclusively represent in the market, while a government regulator is also currently investigating whether those exclusivity deals should be allowed at all.
And, of course, the Tencent parent company is in talks to buy 10% of the Universal Music Group. Which, while on one level would even further strengthen its position in the music business, it might also result in Sony Music and Warner Music having second thoughts about their respective partnerships with Tencent Music.
So, there are probably some opportunities ahead for Tencent's rivals in China and, it seems, they are currently thinking the best way to capitalise on those opportunities is together.
Alibaba's investment in NetEase's music service is part of a wider deal between the two companies that also sees the former acquire the latter's e-commerce platform Kaola.
Eleven more women accuse Placido Domingo of sexual harassment
Following the initial report, the LA Opera and record industry trade group IFPI - of which Domingo is General Director and Honorary Chair, respectively - said that they would investigate the accusations. The claims against him span three decades, from the late 1980s onwards. Domingo denies all the allegations against him.
One of the women to come forward for the new report is Angela Turner Wilson, who performed with Domingo in Jules Massenet's 'Le Cid', as part of the Washington Opera's 1999-2000 season, when he was Artistic Director of the company. She says that before one performance, while they were having their make-up done, he reached inside her bra and grabbed her breast.
"It hurt", she said. "It was not gentle. He groped me hard ... Then I had to go on stage and act like I was in love with him".
Domingo has previously said that he "believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual", adding that "the rules and standards by which we are - and should be - measured against today are very different than they were in the past".
However, Wilson disputes that her alleged incident was "welcomed" or acceptable behaviour at the time, saying: "What woman would ever want him to grab their breast?"
Domingo has not commented directly on the latest set of accusations, but his spokesperson, Nancy Seltzer, has accused the Associated Press of having a vendetta against him.
"The ongoing campaign by the AP to denigrate Placido Domingo is not only inaccurate but unethical", said Seltzer. "These new claims are riddled with inconsistencies and, as with the first story, in many ways, simply incorrect. Due to an ongoing investigation, we will not comment on specifics, but we strongly dispute the misleading picture that the AP is attempting to paint of Mr Domingo".
Neither the IFPI or the LA Opera have commented on the latest article, although the LA Times says that Domingo has already been removed from day-to-day management of the latter company.
Universal Music Publishing in the US has appointed Stephen J Dallas as SVP Business & Legal Affairs and Digital Business Development, which is quite a long job title. "Stephen is one of the few executives in the industry who has an in-depth knowledge of the digital marketplace and the art of deal making in that space", says the company's David Kokakis, concerningly.
Lil Nas X has released the video for 'Old Town Road' follow-up 'Panini'.
Stormzy has released new single 'Sounds Of The Skeng', produced by Sir Spyro.
Charli XCX has released new single 'February 2017', featuring Clairo and Yaeji.
Danny Brown has announced his new album 'uknowwhatimsaying¿', which will be out on 4 Oct. "This is my version of a stand-up comedy album", he says. "Most of my friends now aren't rappers - they're comedians and actors. So I wanted to create something that mixed humour with music. Something that was funny but not parody". Here's first single 'Dirty Laundry'.
Foals have released new single 'The Runner'. It's taken from their new album, 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 2', out on 18 Oct.
M83 has released new single 'Temple Of Sorrow'. New album 'DSVII' is out on 20 Sep - the successor to 2007's 'Digital Shades Vol 1'. "'DSVII' is, in my opinion, far more advanced than Digital Shades Vol 1", he says. "I wanted to come back with something stronger that featured the depth of a proper studio album without the pressure of providing pop music".
Camila Cabello has released two new tracks, 'Shameless' and 'Liar'. Both are taken from her second album 'Romance', which will be released later this year. "These songs are basically the story of my life the past couple years and the stories I've accumulated", she says of the new tracks. "I knew for a long time I wanted my album to be called 'Romance' because these stories are about falling in love".
Louis Tomlinson has released new single 'Kill My Mind'. "'Kill My Mind' is a song about having fun and doing silly things when you're younger", he says. "It's about going through an experimental phase in your youth, and doing things that might not be good for you, but they are exciting".
Grimes has released new single 'Violence', a collaboration with producer i_O.
Shakespears Sister have announced that they will release new EP 'Ride Again' on 28 Oct. From it, this is new single 'When She Finds You', featuring Richard Hawley. "When Siobhan [Fahey] and I wrote this track, we instantly knew it needed a male voice on there to really convey the full story", says the duo's Marcella Detroit. "We're huge fans of Richard Hawley and we were delighted he was up for duetting on the song".
Devendra Banhart has released new single 'Taking A Page'. The song lifts a line - with permission - from Carole King's 'So Far Away'. "The night Trump won ... I instinctively reached for a Carole King album", says Banhart. "I knew it would help. I knew it would come in handy... and it did. Still does. I'm so glad Carole got to hear [this song]. It's really just a song about my entire life. I can't explain it much beyond that". Carole King is not dead, by the way, despite how he made it sound in that quote there.
Belle & Sebastian have released new single 'This Letter', taken from their new album 'Days Of The Bagnold Summer', which is out next week.
Chelsea Wolfe has released new single 'Deranged For Rock N Roll'. Her new album, 'Birth Of Violence', is out next week.
Ellen Allien has released the video for 'Free Society', from her latest album 'Alientronic'.
Erland Cooper has announced 'Seachange', an ambient companion to his recent album 'Sule Skerry'. It's being released on 23 Oct. Here's an excerpt from it. He's also announced that he his composing a new score for a production of Marina Carr's play 'Portia Coughlan', which will run at the Young Vic in the autumn next year.
Sampa The Great has released new track 'Heaven', featuring Whosane. Her debut album, 'The Return', is out on 13 Sep.
Inhaler have released new single 'Ice Cream Sundae'. "It's about loss and gain", says singer Elijah Hewson of the track. "I like writing about normal teenage experiences that everybody can relate to. I'm just trying to write about the joy of being alive, being a teenager, and the bad things that can come with that". The band are set to play shows in Manchester, London and Dublin in December.
Oh Land has announced a new collaborative EP with Arthur Moon, reworking tracks from her latest album 'Family Tree'. From it, here's a new version of 'Salt'.
Ex Hex have released new single 'It's Real'. The previously unreleased track shares its title with their latest album, despite being left off the final tracklisting of the LP.
GIGS & TOURS
Ty Dolla $ign and YG have announced two UK co-headline shows later this year. They'll play Brixton Academy on 2 Dec and Ritz in Manchester on 3 Dec.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Nicki Minaj announces retirement
So that's that then, the end of a career that began fifteen years ago, grew via a run of impressive mixtapes and guest spots on other people's tracks, and was then established through a series of patchy albums. She has suggested in lyrics throughout that time that she would leave it all for a simpler life one day, though. And now that time has come.
This all follows a difficult year last year, where she lashed out at Travis Scott for taking a chart position she felt rightfully belonged to her 'Queen' album, cancelled a co-headline tour with Future, argued with Tracy Chapman over a sample, and had an ongoing beef with Cardi B, who many see as her natural successor. Perhaps it's having had time to reflect on all that which has led her to this decision to step back.
Exactly how much of her public life Minaj is actually retiring from isn't clear. She has various strands to her business, of course. For example, she has a voice role in the upcoming second(!) 'Angry Birds' movie. Will she now not promote that? Presumably it goes without saying that retirement mean she's giving up on music, right? Although she did release a new single in June and reveal that her fifth album was in the works.
So, hey, maybe she's not retiring at all, and she is in fact preparing to announce her big comeback album, say, later this afternoon. She wouldn't be the first rapper to spend their retirement carrying on as normal, of course. Look at Jay-Z, he supposedly retired in 2003. It's probably just a publicity stunt, isn't it? And look who fell right into the trap. You did. Shame on you.