|FRIDAY 4 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has issued guidance on what new obligations artists touring Europe will have to meet in the event of a so called 'no deal Brexit'. On the key question of visas the government department basically says "we don't know, ask the fucking foreigners!"... [READ MORE]|
Government issues guidance on touring after a no deal Brexit (probably don't)
It remains unclear what will happen at the end of this month when the UK is set to leave the European Union. With everyone expecting the rest of the EU to reject the lacklustre new proposals filed this week by Bullshitter In Chief 'Boris' Johnson and his minority government - proposals the British Parliament will almost certainly not accept either - it seems very unlikely that any kind of Brexit deal will be signed off by 31 Oct.
In that scenario British law obliges the Bullshitter to beg all those EU chiefs he keeps defaming to further extend the UK's EU membership. Presumably by promising to hold a general election and/or second referendum in order to move on the debate back home (although the begging letter Parliament has already written for the Bullshitter doesn't mention that). The Bullshitter, of course, is no fan of British law. Will he comply? Will he lie? Will he cry? Will he die? Who the fuck knows? And what happens if the EU says "NO"?
All of which means a no deal Brexit could occur at the start of next month. It's what the Brexit superfans now call a 'clean break Brexit'. But really it's a 'delayed deal Brexit', simply putting off the inevitable deal-making to another day. Between the clean break and the delayed deal a whole load of tedious new paperwork, expenditure and blockages will kick in, negatively impacting some people from day one, but hitting more and more people the longer it takes for the clean breakers to realise that a deal still needs to be done.
Which brings us to those artists hoping to play some songs to fans elsewhere in Europe in the next few months. Because while Brexit - and especially a no deal Brexit - will impact on the music industry in an assortment of ways (for example, CD and vinyl distribution, copyright reform, those music companies with European-bases in London employing multi-lingual teams from all over Europe), by far the biggest concern remains the impact it will have on touring.
Among the questions artists and their teams are having to answer ahead of any post-Brexit tour is whether they need a visa to perform in any one country; what duties they will have to pay on merch; what paperwork they will have to file to take kit into any one country without paying duties; what paperwork they will need to drive vehicles; and what extra insurance they may need to buy once they have had their European citizenship deleted.
The guidance published by the government's culture department this week deals with each of these issues, although in some cases it raises the question and then provides the unhelpful answer of "well, erm, it depends". On the key question of whether visas will be required, the government advises "you'll need to check individual EU member state immigration rules for more information regarding visits, and whether there are any requirements or conditions around supporting documentation, work permits or visas".
As for taking kit with you on tour, the advisory document notes that "you can usually get an ATA Carnet or use other temporary admissions procedures to avoid paying duty on goods you bring in temporarily for business reasons". How do you know what procedures are available? "Consider engaging a customs intermediary - such as a broker or a freight forwarder - to help you plan your journeys and navigate customs procedures".
That there pretty much demonstrates the big problem of a no deal Brexit for many artists. Bigger name acts on bigger scale tours can afford to hire such expertise, and while those experts will probably also have to navigate a period of chaos in the immediate aftermath of a no deal Brexit, they'll presumably figure out what is needed for each country and can then apply that knowledge across their client base. But for many artists, operating on tight profit margins every time they tour, buying in that expertise is what makes the tour unviable.
Even where artists can cope with the extra costs and time commitments involved in meeting all these new obligations, they might have second thoughts about taking British crew members or session musicians on the road with them, given the more Brits on the team the more paperwork will need to be filed. Which is potentially a huge opportunity for crew members or session players with an Irish passport. But a major fucker for those whose only passport was issued by the government of Queen Liz.
Among the music industry reps expressing frustration at all this in an article published by The Guardian yesterday was UK Music boss Michael Dugher. He said: "Superstars who make millions and book their tours months if not years in advance are very much the exception. Most artists operate on tiny margins and the prospect of extra cost and bureaucracy would kill their ability to tour, develop their talent and build their fanbase".
Meanwhile, noting that the government's guidance presented more questions than solutions, Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust told the paper: "If this is the best that can be achieved then we would strongly urge the government to bring forward fully funded proposals that create centralised, accessible and free-to-use support that can enable grassroots musicians to comply with these demands".
Of course, it's unlikely any minister is going to dedicate any real time to helping musicians, beyond parroting back to the music community UK Music's own stats about the British music industry's successes. Not when we are in the midst of a full-on constitutional crisis in which politicians continue to pretend they represent the "will of the people", when - in fact - they each actually speak for a minority interest group (the pro-Brexit camp is, of course, deeply divided, and the anti-Brexit camp even more so).
So what happens next? Fuck knows. But if you're going on tour in Europe next month, you'd better check out this page of guidance. And then fill out some forms and pay some experts so that, whatever happens, you're covered. And if the Bullshitter does obey the law, and the EU does concede to yet another delay to the UK's departure from its club, you can sleep at night safe in the knowledge that you wasted a load of time and money and ensured that your tour will now make a loss. But, hey, that's Brexit.
MGM Resorts agrees $800 million settlement with victims of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting
A total of 58 people were killed during the attack at the Live Nation-promoted country music festival in October 2017. Stephen Paddock opened fire on the 22,000 strong audience during Jason Aldean's headline set before taking his own life. MGM Resorts International owns the site where the festival took place and the nearby hotel from which Paddock committed his crime.
A number of lawsuits were filed by victims caught up in the shooting, with MGM Resorts, Live Nation and Paddock's estate variously named as defendants. The hotel firm also filed its own litigation seeking court confirmation that it could not be held liable for Paddock's crimes. It later also asked that the various lawsuits relating to the incident be grouped together and heard in a single court.
However, alongside the legal filings, talks continued between MGM Resorts and lawyers representing the victims. Yesterday it was confirmed that, while the hotel firm is not admitting to any liability in relation to the shooting, it is nevertheless committing to pay compensation to those affecting by the incident. And, depending on how many victims choose to participate in this settlement, payments could top $800 million.
Confirming the settlement, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said: "Our goal has always been to resolve these matters so our community and the victims and their families can move forward in the healing process. This agreement with the plaintiffs' counsel is a major step, and one that we hoped for a long time would be possible. We have always believed that prolonged litigation around these matters is in no one's best interest. It is our sincere hope that this agreement means that scenario will be avoided".
Speaking for the plaintiffs, lawyer Robert Eglet added: "Today's agreement marks a milestone in the recovery process for the victims of the horrifying events of [October 2017]. While nothing will be able to bring back the lives lost or undo the horrors so many suffered on that day, this settlement will provide fair compensation for thousands of victims and their families. MGM Resorts is a valued member of the Las Vegas community and this settlement represents good corporate citizenship on their part".
Most of the monies set to be paid out under the settlement will be provided by MGM Resorts' insurers. The firm's statement concluded: "An independent Claims Administrator will be appointed by the court to allocate the settlement fund among the participating claimants. The settlement fund will be funded by MGM Resorts' insurers with a minimum of $735 million. As previously reported, MGM Resorts has insurance coverage of $751 million".
New Zealand appeals court overturns ruling stopping Commerce Commission from securing a Viagogo injunction
The NZ government agency wanted an interim injunction similar to that secured by the Competition & Markets Authority in the UK ordering the ticket resale website to stop deliberately employing confusing language on its website, so to trick consumers into thinking they are buying from a primary seller rather than a shady tout.
The lower court declined to issue the injunction in February not based on the Commission's arguments about Viagogo's conduct or New Zealand consumer rights law, but because of tedious jurisdiction issues. Basically the judge ruled that the Commission should have formally served notice against the ticketing firm in its home country of Switzerland.
The government agency was given the right to appeal two months later, and this week the appeals court overturned the original decision. That doesn't mean the Commission now has its injunction, just that the lower court was wrong to deny to issue such a thing based on jurisdiction. Further legal action will now be required to secure the court order.
Whether or not the Commission will proceed with its action remains to be seen. Judges in the appeals court noted that Viagogo has made some changes to its website in the country anyway. While welcoming this week's ruling, the Commission acknowledged that it would now "need to consider changes made to Viagogo's website before deciding whether to proceed with the application for an injunction".
A spokesperson for Viagogo welcomed the appeal court's acknowledgment of changes it has already made. According to Stuff, the spokesperson said: "We have worked hard to address the New Zealand Commerce Commission's concerns and remain committed to ensuring that Viagogo's platform is compliant with the law. To that end, given the extensive changes that have been made to the site, it is our hope that we can work directly with the Commerce Commission to resolve any outstanding issues".
200 writers and 50 publishers marching away from Spanish collecting society SGAE
SGAE, of course, enjoys the accolade of shittest song rights collecting society in the world. Which is no small achievement, there's an awful lot of competition out there for that title. After years of controversies about how it distributes the monies it collects on behalf of songwriters and music publishers - and how it has sought to shut out its critics along the way - SGAE was finally expelled from the global grouping of songwriter societies, CISAC, earlier this year. The Spanish government has also been piling on the pressure.
It's not actually officially known which songwriters and music publishers are on the list of those planning to exit SGAE at the end of the year, but Spanish newspaper ABC says that list includes some of the country's key creators, with their departure likely to have a big impact on the society's repertoire and revenues.
Meanwhile another newspaper, El Diario, reckons that about 200 writers and 50 publishers have begun the process of leaving SGAE, meaning they'll be free by the beginning of next year. Although some have apparently said that they will stay if the society can get its wider membership to approve long-talked about reforms before the end of 2019. Which it almost certainly can't.
It's not clear what the departing SGAE members plan to do with their rights, given that they'll still need a society to license their songs to broadcasters, venues and companies who otherwise play music in public. However, there is now another option of course, a rival society called Unison having already launched. Meanwhile, El Diario reports that some of SGAE's departing members are considering launching their own rights organisation.
The moving of rights around the collective licensing system isn't quite as easy as it sounds. The global music publishers have been the most vocal critics of SGAE, but in Continental Europe songwriters directly assign both the mechanical and performing rights in their songs to their societies, and then grant their publisher the right to share in the money that society collects. In most Anglo-American markets the same principle applies to the performing rights. Which constrains the publishers to an extent, and increases the complexities of moving rights, even if the rationale for such a move is sound.
It will nevertheless be interesting to see what happens in the new year regarding where rights sit and who can license what. And also whether the departure of some major players takes an already embattled SGAE to the brink.
Muffs frontwoman Kim Shattuck dies
News of Shattuck's death was confirmed by her husband Kevin Sutherland via an Instagram post by former Muffs member, and more recently a member of The Coolies with Shattuck, Melanie Vammen.
"This morning the love of my life Kim passed peacefully in her sleep after a two year struggle with ALS", he said. "I am the man I am today because of her. She will live with all of us through her music, our shared memories and in her fierce creative spirit. I love you always my Kimmy. Thank you for sharing your life with me".
Shattuck and Vammen formed The Muffs in 1991, following the break up of their previous band The Pandoras. The band released four albums during the 90s, then two more during reunions in 2004 and 2014. The band released a number of popular singles, although for many they are best known for their cover of Kim Wilde's 'Kids In America', which featured on the soundtrack to the movie 'Clueless'.
Shortly before The Muffs returned once again in 2014, Shattuck had a brief stint as bassist in Pixies over the summer of 2013 - replacing original bassist Kim Deal before being unexpectedly replaced herself after just a few months.
In a statement on their Facebook page, Pixies said: "We are devastated about Kim's passing. She was a genuine musician, writer and performer who committed her life for the cause. She brought all of her life force to her endeavours and we are fortunate for her sharing some of that life force with us".
Despite her ill health, Shattuck continued to work until very recently. In July, The Coolies released an EP, and in August The Muffs announced plans to release a new album, 'No Holiday', which features songs written between 1991 and 2017 that had never made it on to other releases. As well as performing on both records, Shattuck also produced them.
In a statement on Facebook, her Muffs bandmates Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald said: "Besides being a brilliant songwriter, rocking guitarist and singer/screamer extraordinaire, Kim was a true force of nature. While battling ALS Kim produced our last album, overseeing every part of the record from tracking to artwork. She was our best friend and playing her songs was an honour. Goodbye Kimba. We love you more than we could ever say".
'No Holiday' is set for release on 18 Oct. From it, this is 'A Lovely Day Boo Hoo'.
Plácido Domingo resigns as General Director of the Los Angeles Opera
Last week Domingo also pulled out of his appearance in a production of Verdi's 'Macbeth' at New York's Met Opera. Other opera institutions in America had already cancelled upcoming performances by him in the wake of the allegations.
Eighteen women, including other performers, made claims of harassment against Domingo via two recent Associated Press articles, with others subsequently coming forward. The accusations span three decades.
The LA Opera and record industry trade group IFPI, where he is Honorary Chair, launched investigations into the claims. The American Guild Of Musical Artists then also launched its own investigation, saying that it was not confident that opera companies were doing enough to scrutinise the claims.
In a statement announcing his departure from the LA Opera, Domingo said: "Recent accusations that have been made against me in the press have created an atmosphere in which my ability to serve this company that I so love has been compromised. While I will continue to work to clear my name, I have decided that it is in the best interests of LA Opera for me to resign as its General Director and withdraw from my future scheduled performances at this time".
The opera company has confirmed that it will continue its investigation despite the resignation. Although he has seemingly now withdrawn from the US opera industry entirely, Domingo's website still lists various upcoming shows in Europe, including a sold out performance in Switzerland next week.
Niall Horan off of One Direction has released new single 'Nice To Meet Ya'. "It's been nearly two years since I released [debut solo album] 'Flicker' and I can't wait to get going again. Writing 'Nice To Meet Ya' in particular was a special one for me. It gave me a chance to experiment musically and I'm so excited to finally share it with everyone". 6/10 for effort.
AJ Tracey has released new single 'Cat Pack', taken from the deluxe edition of his debut album, which is out on 25 Oct.
Metronomy have released a remix of their recent single 'Wedding Bells', all mixed up by them there Idles. It's the first official remix Idles have ever put their name to. "Metronomy were one of the first bands Idles connected over", says the band's guitarist and the actual remixer Mark Bowen. "We saw their live show, when they had the push lights on their chests and did the awesome dance routines, that emboldened us to think more and put more into our live shows. There is also something about the way they use discordant notes and soundclashes in a very blissful way that informs much of our own songwriting".
Blossoms have announced that they will release their new album, 'Foolish Loving Space', on 31 Jan. It's "a pure celebration of love in all of its splendid and baffling guises, toying with the so-called sins of lust and forbidden infatuation", they say. "It's inspired by a summer spent listening to 'Stop Making Sense', 'The Joshua Tree' and 'Screamadelica'". They will also tour the UK in March.
Alter Bridge have released 'Dying Light', the closing track from their upcoming 'Walk The Sky' album.
King Princess has released a new track from her upcoming debut album, 'Cheap Queen', called 'Hit The Back'.
MØ has released the video for 'Beautiful Wreck', the second in a trilogy of videos by director Emma Rosenzweig using tracks from the musician's 'Forever Neverland' album.
Lapalux will release new album 'Amnioverse' on 8 Nov. "For me the real focus was that the whole record flowed", he says. "I worked on each song sequentially and wouldn't stop working on a session until they fitted together and told the story that I wanted to tell". So, with apologies, here is one track on its own, 'Earth'.
Warmduscher have released new single 'Disco Peanuts', taken from their new album 'Tainted Lunch', which is out on 1 Nov.
Craig Finn has released new single 'It Was Never A Fair Fight'. He begins a run of UK shows next week.
Catholic Action have announced that they will release new album 'Celebrated By Strangers' on 27 Mar. Here's first single, 'One Of Us'. Frontman Chris McCrory explains: "'One Of Us' was written as a direct response to what I see happening in the UK - a country ravaged by poverty and a disintegrating social fabric of increasingly isolated and intoxicated people. A neglected group spun in circles by an uncaring billionaire-owned media, (mis)led into pointing the finger at one another as opposed to those truly responsible for this situation. A depressing but common problem in 2019... sound familiar?"
Sea Change has released new single 'Flown'. The track is taken from her new album, 'Inside', which is out on 15 Nov. "When I made this record I tried to channel the same state of mind I have when I go clubbing", she says. "Not overthinking everything, like I usually do, but instead embracing my impulses; working intuitively, almost anti-intellectual. I learned that that's where I am able to get to the core of what I need to express and that I just had to trust those decisions".
Ama Lou has released new single 'Northside'. "I wrote the song after experiencing a personal homecoming last year", she says. "I travel a lot and live bi-coastal, so spending a lot of time living in LA I felt a little out of place coming back to the UK, but that feeling was quickly overrun by the satisfying feeling of knowing that I'm from North London, this is my town and it always will be".
GIGS & TOURS
Lower Dens have announced that they will tour the UK in January and February next year, promoting their recently released 'The Competition' album.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Takedown notice against Trump's Nickelback video was sent by Warner Music
In his latest attempt to discredit rival Joe Biden, Trump used a clip from Nickelback's 'Photograph' video when sharing a photograph (there's the link, see!) that he claims proves corruption allegations he has made against the former American Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate.
Trump now faces possible impeachment over allegations that he withheld aid to Ukraine in order to pressure its president into investigating the business affairs in the country of Biden's son Hunter, mainly in a bid to embarrass his political rival. Trump has since also called on China to launch a similar investigation, despite so far failing to produce any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of either Biden.
Although it's still not clear exactly what Nickelback's views are regarding having their faces attached to Trump's latest attack video, records show that it was Warner Music, owner of their former label Roadrunner, which submitted takedown notices to Twitter and YouTube successfully having it removed from both platforms.
Trump has mainly annoyed artists by using their music at his rallies without permission, which is more complicated in copyright terms, because the venues he uses may have a blanket licence from collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler did submit a formal challenge over his music being used at a rally, citing various legal arguments, but the matter never reached court.
However, in the case of videos using a band's music or imagery the case is more clear cut. Unless permission is secured from the owners of the copyright material, then its use is illegal. Something Trump and his team should be aware of. Not least because this isn't the first time they've had something taken down.
Earlier this year, the Warner Bros movie company - a separate business to Warner Music - submitted a takedown notice against another Trump campaign video due to its use of music from the soundtrack of Batman film 'The Dark Knight Rises'. Records show that several other takedowns against Trump's Twitter account have been privately submitted over the course of 2019.
As we've previously noted, given that annoying musicians by using their work without first seeking permission has been a feature of Trump's entire (still relatively brief) political career, it seems likely that this is a tactic to maximise coverage of things that might otherwise go unnoticed. Or at least less noticed. And while repeatedly infringing the intellectual property rights of record companies, movie studios and superstars is hardly a good look for a President, it is probably just the sort of thing his supporters like about him.