|THURSDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Live Nation boss Michael Rapino has spoken about the allegations that his company has breached the terms of the agreement it reached with the US Department Of Justice ten years ago when it merged with Ticketmaster. Needless to say, he reconfirmed his company's official line that no breaches have occurred, adding that much of the commentary around those allegations simply misunderstands said DoJ agreement... [READ MORE]|
Live Nation boss hits back at anti-competition claims, says company's consent decree is misunderstood
That agreement, which takes the form of one of those consent decrees, sought to stop Live Nation/Ticketmaster from leveraging its concert promotions division to secure competitive advantage for its ticketing business, or vice versa.
Although the agreement is nearly a decade old - and is due to expire next July - it's been back in the spotlight over the last year. Partly because of a big New York Times article about allegations of anti-competitive behaviour that have been made against the live giant. And partly because of debates in Washington over the US ticketing market.
In that latter domain, one member of Congress, Bill Pascrell, is having another go at introducing new federal laws to regulate both primary and secondary ticketing sales. Meanwhile, Congress members Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar recently called on the DoJ to review the effectiveness of the Live Nation consent decree, and consider whether or not it should be renewed next year.
Earlier this week, the Live Nation consent decree came up yet again. This time during a Congressional 'oversight hearing', when the aforementioned Blumenthal asked Makan Delrahim, who is Assistant Attorney General for the DoJ's Anti-Trust Division, about the Live Nation agreement.
Delrahim confirmed that his department had been "examining allegations of violations" of the consent decree, but added that legal action was unlikely. That, the Assistant AG said, was partly because the current accepted standard for proving any violation of an agreement of this kind set the bar very high.
Following that Congressional discussion, Live Nation again said in a statement that it had always complied with the consent decree, adding that: "We do not force anyone into ticketing agreements by leveraging content, and we do not retaliate against venues that choose other ticketing providers".
The topic resurfaced at a Goldman Sachs organised conference in New York yesterday where Michael Rapino was speaking. Variety documented the Live Nation chief's response to a question about competition in the US ticketing marketplace in quite some detail.
Insisting that there were various misconceptions about the nature of the consent decree, Rapino said: "I negotiated it and it's very simple: It says we can't threaten venues. We can't say to a Ticketmaster venue that says they want to use a different ticketing platform, 'If you do that, we won't put shows in your building'".
But, he went on, "it also says [that] we can do what's right for our business, so we have to put the show where we make the most economics, and maybe that venue [that wants to use a different ticketing platform] won't be the best economic place anymore because we don't hold the revenue".
That latter point is key, in that the consent decree does provide a certain degree of flexibility for Live Nation, which arguably makes the core "you can't bully venues" element harder to enforce. Because if any one venue claims that Live Nation's touring division punished it over its ticketing choices, the live firm could counter that its decisions to use another venue were economic not political.
Rapino went on: "We're eight-plus years into the decree, and with 30,000 shows a year and 30,000 employees, you can imagine all the emails flying around. Every now and then one of our competitors runs to the DoJ and says 'We lost the Kansas City venue, [because Ticketmaster] threatened [sanctions]!'"
"We [then] get an inquiry from the DoJ [to the effect of] 'Hey, can we get some emails from over the years'. They've done it and [they've] never found anything wrong. We're very compliant, we understand it clearly - trust me, after eight years and all those emails, if you weren't compliant, with your competitors playing that game, you'd have been exposed as being in violation long ago".
The Live Nation boss added that when people talk about his company being "investigated" by the DoJ, they often mean that the government department has simply requested information, which is a routine part of managing the consent decree.
Talk of a DoJ investigation would be a much bigger deal, he mused, if there was no existing agreement. "If you're not under a decree", he said, "[then] it's bigger news if the DOJ woke up one day and said, 'We're gonna look at this guy'".
Concluding, Rapino insisted that the US ticketing market is sufficiently competitive. Name-checking AEG's ticketing business AXS, the various operations of eBay's StubHub and relative newcomer Vivid, he said: "It's not like venues don't have options. If you're a venue you can pick any ticket platform you want, and we have to provide a better product and win that business fair and square".
Aaron Carter makes assault allegations against brother Nick in response to restraining order
Confirming the news about the restraining order, Nick said in a statement: "After careful consideration, my sister Angel and I regret that we were required to seek a restraining order against our brother Aaron".
He went on: "In light of Aaron's increasingly alarming behaviour and his recent confessions that he harbours thoughts and intentions of killing my pregnant wife and unborn child, we were left with no choice but to take every measure possible to protect ourselves and our family. We love our brother and truly hope he gets the proper treatment he needs before any harm comes to himself or anyone else".
According to TMZ, the alleged violent confessions were made during a FaceTime conversation between Aaron and his sister Angel. In legal papers, Nick also noted that his brother owns six firearms that are "readily available".
Responding to the restraining order on Twitter, Aaron wrote: "I am astounded at the accusations being made against me and I do not wish to harm anyone, especially my family. All I ask is for my family to leave me alone. This is blood. Not love. I will never be around you and I don't want to be around you".
In among a flood of subsequent tweets, he also accused his brother of sexually assaulting various women, in particular referencing the allegations made by Melissa Schuman, a former member of girl group Dream, back in 2017.
Those claims related to an alleged assault that took place in 2002. Nick denied the allegations and, when Schuman subsequently filed a formal complaint, LAPD declined to press charges because of the statute of limitations.
It remains to be seen if Nick feels the need to respond to his brother's most recent remarks.
Judge refuses to refund R Kelly's bail money to woman who paid it
Restaurateur Valencia Love paid the sum on Kelly's behalf in February after the music star was first arrested over ten counts of aggravated sexual assault and it became clear he couldn't personally meet the sum of money demanded by the court to secure his release from jail. She listed herself simply as "a friend" on court papers.
However, since then other criminal investigations into allegations of sexual assault, including against under-age girls, have resulted in further charges. In the latter cases, Kelly was refused bail, and so is now in jail awaiting his trials. Hence Love thought there was a good case to get her $100,000 back.
In a court filing requesting the return of her money, she said that, back in February, she was unaware of the federal investigations that subsequently resulted in Kelly being locked up without bail. The fact that he's not now walking free, she reckons, means she hasn't got what her $100,000 was meant to pay for, so she should get the money back.
Technically the bail money should be returned anyway once the ongoing case in Chicago reaches its conclusion. Though it's not clear how long that would take, and the bail money could actually be used instead to pay Kelly's legal fees. Although, Love says that, actually, the reason she wants the money back now is so that she can lend her friend more cash to fund his defence.
Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, Love said that Kelly has, in fact, already paid her back the original money, disputing that he was unable to pay the bond himself. "He wasn't able to get to his money because it was the weekend and he was the only one who had access to his account. It was basically a loan", she said. As for her efforts to get the bail money back now, she added: "Why is it such a big deal? He's already locked up. Why can't the bail money be returned?"
The judge overseeing the case denied Love's motion to have her money returned, saying that there is no legal precedent for this. He also pointed out that the papers she signed when handing the money over clearly state that it may end up not being returned, for example if legal fees need to be paid.
As well as denying Love's motion, the judge also denied a motion by the prosecution that requested that Kelly's bond be increased. He pointed out that, as Kelly was already being held without bail on other charges, the bail amount on the original case was "kind of a moot point".
Live Nation acquires Rewind festival franchise
Rewind was acquired by radio firm Global in 2016 when it was busy trying to become a big player in the festival market. The media outfit subsequently wound down that side of its business and sold off its portfolio of events to Superstruct Entertainment and its own former subsidiary Broadwick Entertainment.
However, Rewind wasn't included in either of those deals. According to IQ, Live Nation will take ownership of the Rewind franchise via its LN-Gaiety Holdings joint venture with Denis Desmond, with SJM also a partner. LN-Gaiety and SJM have previously collaborated in the festival market, having both been partners in V Festival.
AEG takes full control of AXS
The live giant set up AXS after its main rival, Live Nation, merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, a move which understandably made AEG nervous about working with the market-leading primary ticket agent.
AEG partnered with Canadian technology firm Outbox - which had been launched a few years earlier by Cirque du Soleil - in order to develop its own ticketing solution. A few years later it merged with paperless ticketing firm Veritix. It was as a result of those deals that AXS had two other co-owners alongside AEG.
There was talk of European ticketing giant Eventim acquiring AXS outright, and of a possible deal with American ticketing start-up Rival. But neither of those seemingly came to pass, resulting in AEG moving to buy out its partners in the business.
The move will likely instigate a renewed push to grow AXS's market share. In the US, the consent decree that has restricted Live Nation/Ticketmaster from leveraging its concert promotions and ticketing businesses to the benefit of each other is due to expire next year, meaning AEG's big competitor may become more aggressive in the years ahead.
AEG will want to be in a position to respond to any new moves by Live Nation, and insiders say that will be easier if it is in full control of AXS.
Field Music announce new album, Making A New World
"I found myself researching the development of sanitary pads - not a statement I've ever imagined myself making - and was surprised at how little the advertising material has changed in a hundred years", says the band's David Brewis.
He goes on: "It's still, 'Hey ladies! Let's not mention it too loudly but here is the perfect product to keep you feeling normal WHILE THE DISGUSTING, DIRTY THING HAPPENS'. And you realise that it's a kind of madness that a monthly occurrence for billions of women - something absolutely necessary for the survival of humanity - is seen as shameful or dirty - and is taxed MORE than razor blades".
He continues: "At every stage of making this song, I had to ask myself, am I allowed to do this? Is it OK to do this? And I cringed in the next room when I first showed it to my wife. But I think confronting my own embarrassment is a pretty fundamental part of what the song is about".
So, not the first thing you'd usually consider when thinking about the First World War. But the album at large has nevertheless evolved out of a project for the Imperial War Museum first performed at the beginning of the year.
The starting point was an image in the museum's collection, a visual representation of the measurement of the vibrations of gunfire. One particular image showed one minute leading up to 11am on 11 Nov 1918 and the minute after. The first showed a full minute of deafening noise, the second - as the war officially ended - near silence.
"We imagined the lines from that image continuing across the next hundred years", says Brewis. "We looked for stories which tied back to specific events from the war or the immediate aftermath. In writing these songs, we felt we were pulling the war towards us - out of remembrance and into the everyday - into the now".
Which means quite a few topics are actually covered. As well as sanitary towels, there are songs themed around ultrasound, Tiananmen Square, gender reassignment surgery, the Becontree Housing Estate in East London, war reparations, and more. All related back to those two minutes in 1918.
The band will be touring in February, performing the album in its entirety, as well as other tracks from their back catalogue. Here are the dates:
1 Feb: Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery
BMG Production Music has promoted Scott Doran to UK Managing Director (taking the role left by the recently promoted John Clifford) and Paul Gulmans to Managing Director Benelux & VP Int'l Business Development (in part taking over from Laura Bell, who recently left the company).
James Morton has been re-elected Chair of the Entertainment Retailers Association. HMV Head Of Music John Hirst was also newly elected to the board.
Liam Payne has released new single 'Stack it Up', featuring A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. "Me and Boogie had so much fun doing it", he says. "This is a song I'm really proud of and I can't wait to show you what's coming next".
Celine Dion has released three new songs from her upcoming album 'Courage'. Listen to them all here. The album is out on 15 Nov.
Sufjan Stevens will release his score for Justin Peck's ballet 'The Decalogue', performed by pianist Timo Andres, on 18 Oct. From it, this is 'III'.
Kleerup has released new single 'Lovers Table', featuring AlunaGeorge. "I think we really nailed all the parts on this song - the vocals, the production and the whole team is perfect", says the producer. "I couldn't be happier to release this track as a sort of a comeback single".
Saul Williams has released the video for 'Dare' from his new album, 'Encrypted & Vulnerable'.
HMLTD have released new single 'Loaded'. Of the song, the band say: "'Loaded' is a song about a Faustian bargain, inspired by real events of which we were very much a part. Satan found our souls to be faulty and has been fully refunded". They will be touring the UK next month, including a show at XOYO in London 24 Oct.
Charlotte Day Wilson has released new single 'Mountains'.
GIGS & TOURS
Details have been announced about this year's Great Escape First Fifty shows, the series of gigs that take place in East London in November as the first 50 acts are confirmed for the following year's full TGE event in Brighton. That first 50, of course, includes the acts playing the London gigs, which feature the likes of Molly Payton, Somebody's Child, Wargasm, Master Peace, Noisy and Nardeydey. Info here.
DIIV have announced UK tour dates in February next year, including a performance at The Forum in London on 27 Feb. Here's new single, 'Blankenship'.
Neneh Cherry is to receive the Pioneer Award at this year's Artist And Manager Awards. "As a young girl, the jaw-dropping sight of an eight months proud and pregnant Neneh Cherry ripping up 'TOTP' with her hit 'Buffalo Stance' was unforgettable, and is still a talking point today", says FAC board member Lucy Pullin. "She was the only artist I'd ever seen performing pregnant and her attitude and confidence was and remains beyond inspirational in this industry".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Tool won't take thirteen years to make another album (but don't hold your breath for it)
"My hope is we get in and knock out another record", Carey tells Metal Hammer. "We have tons of material".
So that's all positive. He also notes that 'Fear Inoculum' is the final release in a five-album record deal it's taken them the best part of three decades to fulfil. "This is the last record of a five-album deal, so that's a good feeling and I hope that will be motivational in the writing processes", he says. "There's more motivation. The carrot on the stick has gotten larger because now we'll be free agents - we don't have to deal with a record company or if we do, we deal with it on our terms, because we can do whatever we want now".
So that's all very positive, but what about setting out some sort of timeframe? "It's hard to say", he continues. "We're going to tour on this probably for two or three years at least, I imagine ... There are no leftover Tool songs because of the process it takes to compose our songs [but] there's tons of riffs and jams and things ... It'll take three years after touring [to put together another album]. That's just the way it is with our band".
So, hey, that's five or six years straight away before there'll be any chance of hearing anything. However, "it's not going to take twelve years", he says. "Or if it does, I'll probably be so old I can't pick up my sticks anymore".
So there's the scoop. There will be another Tool album at some point soon or not so soon, or maybe not at all. Spread the word.