|THURSDAY 3 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US government is once again putting together its Notorious Markets report where it names and shames the websites, apps and companies that the American copyright industries reckon are responsible for particularly high levels of piracy. And earlier this week the Recording Industry Association Of America submitted its piracy gripe list for consideration... [READ MORE]|
Stream-ripping, Cloudflare and Telegram all appear in US record industry's updated piracy gripe list
The Notorious Markets report is put together by the US Trade Representative with the aim of informing the American government on piracy issues for whenever it's in discussions with foreign governments on intellectual property matters. The sites and businesses that are named and shamed are therefore usually based outside the US, though they often have a considerable user-base within the United States.
To what extent the report actually helps with efforts to crack down on these piracy operations is debatable, but it has become a useful annual update on what kinds of infringement the copyright industries - including the music industry - reckon are most prevalent and most problematic at any one time.
There's also an element of putting these sites and companies on notice that they are a concern for copyright owners and may be on the receiving end of legal action in the future. Some of the named operations will therefore be concerned about being listed. Though, it has to be said, some piracy set-ups probably consider being included as a badge of honour.
The RIAA's submission confirms that, for the music industry, stream-ripping sites remain the biggest concern. These, of course, are the websites that allow users to turn temporary streams into permanent downloads. "The overall popularity of these sites and the staggering volume of traffic they attract evidence the enormous damage being inflicted on the US record industry", the RIAA tells the US Trade Representative.
"Several countries around the world have found these stream-ripping services to be unlawful, including Australia, Denmark, Russia, Spain and Italy. Several stream-ripping services have also shut down after a demand or lawsuit from the record companies. Unfortunately, however, new or variant stream-ripping services rise up to take their place".
Revealing that it is now routinely monitoring 200+ stream-ripping sites, RIAA then lists some of its key targets. That includes Russia-based Flvto.biz and 2Conv, which the US record industry previously unsuccessfully sued in the American courts.
"US record companies filed a lawsuit against these sites in 2018 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging copyright infringement on a massive scale", the RIAA explains. "The court granted the Russian defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, despite substantial facts that support jurisdiction over the defendant in the United States".
Summarising why it thinks the court was wrong to dismiss the case on jurisdiction grounds, the RIAA goes on: "In 2018 alone, the sites had almost 32 million United States users who, collectively, conducted over 96 million stream-ripping sessions and downloaded hundreds of millions of songs from defendant's servers to their own personal devices in the United States. The decision is now on appeal to the US Court Of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit".
Alongside stream-ripping, the RIAA also discusses MP3 search sites, BitTorrent indexing sites, cyber lockers, unlicensed download stores, web hosting companies which have a slack attitude to copyright issues and providers of so called reverse proxy services.
The latter group includes Cloudflare, an entirely legitimate internet services firm that recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but which has long been criticised by the music industry for providing services to piracy websites. Cloudflare has, albeit reluctantly, responded to complaints from copyright owners in the past - especially where court orders have been secured - but the RIAA says that issues remain.
By using Cloudflare's reverse proxy service, piracy sites can hide their precise location, ie their IP address. "More and more pirate sites employ reverse proxy services, most commonly Cloudflare, to obfuscate their IP address, creating obstacles to enforcement against such sites", the RIAA recaps in its submission.
"While Cloudflare will provide the underlying IP address upon request when presented with an infringing URL", the submission goes on, "Cloudflare also notifies its customer of the request, whereby the customer can quickly migrate its site to a new hosting ISP while continuing to utilise Cloudflare. Since there is no real-time access to the site's location, any IP address provided by Cloudflare one day may be inaccurate the next".
Most of the companies targeted in the RIAA's gripe list have been criticised before. There is, of course, the customary name-check of the uber-resistant Pirate Bay. "The site makes no pretence of legitimacy, fails to respond to any takedown notices, and has previously ridiculed those who have sent them such notices", the RIAA notes.
But there are some interesting newer entries in the record industry's document, in particular sometimes controversial messaging app Telegram.
The RIAA says it has no problem with messaging app technology in general, but has issues with this particular platform because it allows users to share large content files - up to 1.5GB, which is significantly larger than rival Whatsapp, for example. Plus, as far as the labels are concerned, Telegram doesn't do enough to deal with takedown notices from copyright owners when these larger files being shared are unlicensed music files.
The RIAA then explains that channels on the Telegram platform can "include scripts known as bots which provide some level of interactivity within the channel, sometimes allowing users to request specific content from the channel. Telegram offers many user-created channels which are dedicated to the unauthorised distribution of copyrighted recordings, with some channels focused on particular genres or artists".
"Telegram itself hosts many of the copyrighted recordings made available through these channels and the RIAA has sent [takedown] notices to Telegram containing over 18,000 instances of copyrighted recordings offered without authorisation through these channels", the submission goes on. "Telegram claims that it forwards our notices to the channel operators who are responsible for removing the infringements listed in our notices".
However, many of those channel operators ignore the takedown notices, it adds. And, "Telegram makes no apparent attempt to verify that channel operators have complied with our notices and does not seem to have any kind of repeat infringement policy".
Interestingly, Telegram was created by the founders of Russian social network vKontakte, another platform that used to prominently appear in the music industry's submission to the US Notorious Markets report each year, until the social media firm negotiated licensing deals with the record companies. Although VK actually continued to get name-checked in the Notorious Market document itself thanks to ongoing complaints from the movie industry.
It remains to be seen how much of the RIAA's griping gets directly pasted into the next edition of the American government's key piracy round-up.
Nick Mulvey releases vinyl made from recycled plastic washed up on Cornish beaches
A limited run of 105 copies of the record have been created, each of them unique, being made up of random pieces of washed up plastic. And the song itself has an environmental theme, lyrically exploring the responsibility and future of humanity in the Anthropocene - that being the geological age we find ourselves in, in which humans have, for the first time, become the primary influence over Earth's geology and ecosystems.
"My music is about knowing who - or what - we are, right at the core; aliveness itself, conscious", says Mulvey. "These times of urgent global crisis are demanding we re-examine ourselves and the world and we raise ourselves to match the Earth, this wonder-organism from which we are not, and have never been, separate."
As well as Mulvey, the release is also credited to Keynvor - a recording artist created by Sharp's last year and named after the Cornish word for ocean.
In fact, in theory Keynvor is the Atlantic Ocean itself, and is a Universal-signed recording artist, with all royalties going straight into the water (via ocean conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage). The first release for the project was a collaboration with composer Sebastian Plano, titled 'Preservation'.
"The Atlantic Ocean inspires everything that we do", says James Nicholls of Sharp's Brewery. "Keynvor is a project where we created ideas to help preserve the coast that surrounds us here in Cornwall".
"Last year", he adds, "we helped the ocean enter the charts under Keynvor. I'm excited to say that [now] we're really turning the tables on the music industry by releasing 'In The Anthropocene', with Nick Mulvey, by upcycling single-use plastic found on our beaches and turning it into playable 'ocean vinyl'".
You can buy the record here or through selected Drift stores. All proceeds will go to Surfers Against Sewage.
Vice acquires Refinery29
According to the FT, sources say the new deal mainly involves an exchange in stock, with the combined business getting a $4 billion valuation.
Refinery29 began life as a New York-centric fashion-focused website, subsequently expanding its remit and opening bases in LA, London and Berlin. Its content is pitched more to a female readership and therefore arguably complements Vice's current output, the audience for which has generally skewed slightly towards the male demographic.
The merger of the two firms comes as many of the online-centric media brands that attracted mega-money from investors in the earlier part of this decade tackle the challenge of becoming commercially viable long-term.
Most are ad-funded and the online advertising market continues to be dominated by Facebook and Google. And while so called branded content deals can be more lucrative - and favour those online businesses with in-house content expertise - there are fewer of those transactions to be done.
Plus, unlike with advertising where overall spend tends to be pretty stable, media that secure money through more innovative marketing partnerships with brands can be hit by decision makers at said brands suddenly becoming distracted by whatever the latest marketing fad of the moment might be, directing budgets away from existing branded content projects.
The deal will significantly boost Vice's overall audience size, while there will presumably be some economies secured behind the scenes by combining the two firm's operations. Vice's newish CEO, Nancy Dubuc, said the combination of Vice and Refinery29 signalled a "new era of lasting change in digital media". Lovely stuff.
Damon Albarn to premiere new orchestral piece in May 2020
Written for orchestra, electronics, vocals and piano, the piece is inspired by the landscapes of Iceland, while its title is taken from John Clare poem 'Love And Memory'. Its first two performances will take place in Brussels, after which the piece will tour Europe, including shows in London and Dublin.
The blurb for the work describes Albarn as "a frequent visitor to Iceland for almost three decades", adding that this is a "very personal piece".
After premiering at Bozar in Brussels on 17-18 May, the follow on tour will hit London's Barbican on 26 May and Dublin's National Concert Hall on 31 May and 1 Jun. More information here.
Snoop Dogg announces 2020 tour dates
The press release also tells me that it marks his 25th anniversary in music, even though it's currently almost 26 years since his debut album 'Doggystyle' was released and 27 since he appeared on Dr Dre's 'The Chronic' album. Who's counting though? Time has passed and, I think, that's the main thing.
Anyway, bearing in mind that it's a long time since some stuff happened, Snoop has enlisted a load of longtime collaborators to join him on the tour. They include Warren G, Tha Dogg Pound, Obie Trice and D12. Also on the bill are Irish rap duo Versatile.
Various pre-sales will be launched this week, before tickets go on general sale on Monday. Here are all the dates:
9 Apr: Dublin, 3Arena
Anathema announce shows for We're Here Because We're Here tenth anniversary
The band's Danny Cavanagh explains: "We never usually do anniversary tours of particular albums, but in the case of 'We're Here Because We're Here', which is the album that began our rebirth, we feel this is something we want to do".
"What I love about this album and that time in our journey is the life affirming qualities in the music", he adds. "It's an album of hope, reflection, of summer, of an intense uplifting emotion. We will do all we can to augment the trip with a never before seen light and video show to enhance the experience. Join us in the dreaming light".
"How will we play these songs live now?" he then asks. "How will some songs have evolved in the meantime? What can we do with the visual production? It's a great record to revisit as the themes are still as honest and personal as they've always been, but there are more shafts of light that cut through the darkness".
The UK dates are as follows:
6 Mar: Glasgow, St Luke's Church
R Kelly's sexual abuse trial in New York will begin on 18 May next year, he was told yesterday. His Chicago trial is set to begin on 27 Apr. Kelly was also once again denied bail, with the judge saying there is a significant risk that he would try to leave the country.
Live Nation has acquired Finnish promoter and booking agency Hög. "After running my own agencies for over nine years, I felt it was time to move forward", says Hög CEO Mikko Varjamo. "This new union with Live Nation will enable the company to operate at a different level and will strengthen our position in Finland's music scene".
BBC Radio 6 Music is going to celebrate the medium of graphic novels this month. What could be more perfect for radio? Some graphic novel writers are going to present or appear on shows. Alan Moore will be in the 7-9pm slot this Friday, while Neil Gaiman, UK comic laureate Hannah Berry, and Warren Ellis will be in to chat at 1pm on the next three consecutive Sundays.
AEG Europe COO John Langford has been elected president of the European Arenas Association. "I am honoured to represent 35 of the leading European indoor arenas during this incredibly dynamic time in the live event sector", he says.
Charlie Puth has released new track 'Cheating On You'. He's still not announced his third album, as far as I know.
London Records is going to release a compilation of The Happy Mondays' early EPs, titled 'The Early EPs', on 25 Oct. Here's a video for one of the old tracks, 'The Egg'.
Slayer have announced that they will screen their upcoming 'The Relentless Killogy' live film in cinemas worldwide on 6 Nov. Tickets go on sale on 6 Oct. More info here.
Dido has released new track 'Just Because', taken from a deluxe edition of her latest album 'Still On My Mind', which is out on 15 Nov. She's going on tour in November and December too.
Danny Brown has released new track '3 Tearz', featuring Run The Jewels and Jpegmafia. His new album 'uknowhatimsayin¿' is out on Friday.
Kele Okereke has released new track 'Between Me And My Maker', taken from his upcoming new album, '2042'.
The Pictish Trail has released new single 'Slow Memories'. His new album, 'Thumb World', is set for release on 21 Feb.
Lightning Bolt have released new single 'Hüsker Dön't' from their upcoming 'Sonic Citadel' album. "The lyrics are a sort of letter from beyond the grave to my son", says drummer and vocalist Brian Chippendale. "I thought it would be a cool thing for him to discover later on. An Easter egg. Just a love letter".
Sonikku has released new single 'Sweat', featuring Liz. "After producing the instrumental for 'Sweat', I knew I had to enlist the help of Little Boots to help me pen the lyrics", he says. "With our shared love of Kylie and unapologetic pop, we wrote it after just one session. Then Liz fell in love with the track after I played it her whilst I was on a writing trip in LA. Her Britney-esque 'tongue-in-cheek' vocals on this track were a match made in heaven for me".
GIGS & TOURS
Alison Wonderland will play a secret warehouse location in London on 28 Feb as part of a world tour of secret warehouse locations. Actually, she's already said where two in the US are going to be. So not that secret in those cases. Maybe she'll say where the UK one is at some point. Or maybe she won't. The intrigue is worth the ticket price on its own.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
A-ha not best pleased that Donald Trump ripped of their Take On Me video
Of course, whenever Trump nabs the music or - in this case - imagery of left-leaning artists for campaign events or videos, the aim is presumably to ensure each artist's resulting outrage spreads the US President's political message even further.
And now we are helping with that. Still, it would be a bit weird if we didn't now show you this campaign video. However, when you watch it, we would request that you don't take on board any political messaging, and instead just examine how badly done the animation is.
I know music video budgets in the 80s were a lot bigger than they are today, but Trump is a billionaire hoping to lead one of the world's largest countries for a second term. He could have made a little bit of an effort.
Now that's out of the way, let's get on to A-ha. Specifically the band's keyboard player Magne Furuholmen, who has now spoken to Rolling Stone about all this.
He says: "You write a song in your youth and you don't write for a particular group of people one way or another; you write it for everyone. But then stuff like this happens. You want to be careful about deciding who's allowed to do what with what you put out in the world. We make our music for everybody. We didn't intend to make our music part of a divisive campaign and, all things equal, would have preferred it not to have been".
He's being quite reserved there. Last month Furuholmen released a new solo single, 'This Is Now America', directly protesting Trump's presidency.
"We are Norwegian-born", he says. "But we have friends all over the world and are concerned about what the world's coming to. In many respects, our heart bleeds for the America we believed in growing up. But when you get dragged into things like this, you have to lie back and laugh".
Anyway, Trump has already moved on. He's used Nickelback's 'Photograph' video in his latest dig at Joe Biden. They haven't commented on this yet, but back in 2016 they did get a bit shirty about constantly being used as the punchline in Trump-related jokes. This might be why Trump's latest video has already been taken down due to a copyright claim.
Now, let's end on a song. Here's the video for 'Take On Me' - bask in its superior animation.