|TUESDAY 8 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Apple is in talks with the labels about bundling Apple Music in with its soon to launch Apple TV+ video-on-demand service. It's a move that could introduce subscription music streaming to a whole new audience but - according to the FT - some at the labels are concerned that it could also cut the amount of money coming into the music industry on a per subscriber basis... [READ MORE]|
Apple plotting Music and TV+ bundle, but how will that affect music's average revenue per user?
The tech giant is busy expanding its subscriptions business into various other content strands, and it confirmed earlier this year that that would include a Netflix rival. That service is Apple TV+, which is due to launch next month with a five pounds/dollars/euros price point designed to undercut the aforementioned Netflix.
With video, music, news and gaming services all under one roof, it makes sense that one way for Apple to take on its big standalone rivals like Spotify and Netflix is to bundle the different services together. To work, bundling needs to offer a more competitive price point, so that Apple Music and TV+ works out cheaper than combined Spotify and Netflix subscriptions.
For the music industry, of course, streaming is - at its heart - a revenue share game. The music services commit to share a percentage of total revenue with the music industry, more or less distributed based on total consumption share. Across its deals with the record companies, music distributors, music publishers and collecting societies, in most markets the streaming services commit to pay the industry around about 70% of their total revenues.
Because of this, some in the music industry have become obsessed about the so called 'average revenue per user' metric, ie for each subscriber, how much revenue comes into the system to be shared with the music community?
Although the standard price point for streaming in North America and Europe is ten pounds/dollars/euros, the average revenue per user on a global basis is quite a bit less than that, even if you ignore users on free accounts, which are obviously much less lucrative.
First, even in mature markets the streaming services offer an assortment of discounts, for example for mobile bundles, family plans, student rates etc.
Meanwhile, a lot of the growth in recent years has been in emerging markets in Latin America and Asia where the top line subscription before discounting will be the economic equivalent of ten pounds, which likely means the local currency equivalent of a few pounds. If the streaming services were to charge ten pounds in those markets they would become a luxury product with a much smaller userbase.
It's in this context that labels might be nervous of Apple's talk of bundling music with video, because bundles usually mean discounting, which means yet another factor bringing down the average revenue per user.
Actually, Apple has more flexibility over its TV+ service because of how it acquires the rights to that content, so in the short term it could choose to take the hit itself in a bid to take on Netflix. So offer Apple Music and TV+ for thirteen pounds/dollars/euros, and just accept that the video side would take a two dollar hit. But would Apple be willing to take such a hit on that bundle in the long term if the combination proved popular?
However, arguably the music industry has become far too obsessed by the average price per user metric. While there is an argument that it's high time the headline subscription price of ten pounds/dollars/euros be increased, the fact that headline price is routinely discounted to reach ever bigger audiences around the world is just a reality of business. And the music industry at large is the key beneficiary as subscription streaming goes ever more mainstream.
The FT says that talks between Apple and the labels over a Music/TV+ bundle are still at an early stage and possible pricing formulas are yet to be properly discussed. But such tricky conversations should be happening soon.
Of course, while Apple is trying to take on both Spotify and Netflix, its main rival as a multi-content platform is Amazon which, more than anyone, has already dabbled with bundling and variable price points. And the music industry has, sometimes reluctantly, worked with Amazon on those bundles and pricing variations.
Although, with Amazon, there is usually an assumption that any new and alternative services will appeal to more mainstream consumers, many of whom are yet to properly engage with streaming music at all. Apple is arguably selling its music service to the core streaming market, which might make the labels more nervous about the impact of a sneaky bundle on existing subscribers and subscription income.
All of which means it will be interesting to see what music/video packages are ultimately agreed by Apple at what price points, and to what extent the tech firm has to take the hit to make that happen.
Prosecutors say R Kelly has history of intimidating victims, which is why he shouldn't get bail
Kelly, of course, is accused of sexually abusing numerous women, including underage girls. Such allegations have been made against the star for years, but new criminal prosecutions were launched after the airing of the 'Surviving R Kelly' documentary earlier this year. He has been incarcerated since being arrested in July in relation to federal charges in New York.
Prosecutors have argued against granting Kelly bail on the basis that he is a flight risk and that he poses a threat if allowed out of jail. He strongly denies both of those claims.
In the court documents obtained by The Blast, the prosecution set out in some detail what they mean about Kelly posing a threat if granted bail. They argue that the star has a long history of trying to silence his victims through blackmail or by threatening them or their families. The blackmail usually centres on threats to leak explicit photos or embarrassing letters Kelly allegedly forces his victims to write.
Among other allegations, the court documents claim that Kelly, "sent a typewritten letter to a lawyer then representing Jane Doe #5, threatening to release compromising and potentially embarrassing photographs of Jane Doe #5 if she pursued her civil lawsuit against the defendant. The letter sent, which was provided to the defence as part of the government's discovery, includes certain photographs and screen shots of text message exchanges between the defendant and Jane Doe #5 taken from the defendant's phone".
Noting that Kelly's lawyers have previously stated that their client is illiterate, the court filing goes on: "The defendant cannot credibly deny his role in intimidating witnesses by claiming, self-servingly, that he could not have written the letter due to his allegedly limited reading and writing skills where he provided the material used to make the threats and signed his name to the accompanying documents".
Prosecutors also allege that they have spoken to "multiple women" who claim that the musician "has a history of coercing women to write letters containing false and embarrassing allegations, so that the defendant could use those letters as blackmail".
To date, judges overseeing the two separate criminal cases have been pretty consistent in denying Kelly bail. The allegations contained in these court documents may well have been one of the reasons for the judges taking that consistent viewpoint.
Taylor Swift song-theft case not like Led Zep song-theft case, say Swift's accusers
Back in 2017, Sean Hall and Nathan Butler accused Swift of ripping off a 2001 song they wrote for 3LW called 'Playas Gon Play' on her 2014 hit 'Shake It Off'. The lawsuit argued that Swift's famous lyric "Cos the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate", was basically a copy of the line "The playas gon play/Them haters gonna hate" from their 2001 track.
Swift's legal team dubbed the song-theft legal claim a "money grab" and asked the judge to dismiss the case. Which he did early last year, on the basis that the fact of players playing and haters hating was all too "banal" for Hall and Butler's original lyric to enjoy copyright protection in isolation. Writing about playing players and hating haters lacked the "originality and creativity" required for copyright to kick in, the judge added.
Hall and Butler then took their case to the Ninth Circuit appeals court, arguing that the question as to whether or not the simple lyric "The playas gon play/Them haters gonna hate" can enjoy copyright protection was more complex than the original judge had admitted. And therefore, they argued, their case should get some proper court time.
The same appeals court is currently considering the aforementioned 'Stairway To Heaven' case, in which Led Zeppelin are accused of ripping off the earlier song 'Taurus' on their 1971 classic.
That case went before a jury at first instance who also ruled that there was no copyright infringement because the elements shared by the two songs were simply common musical elements. The Ninth Circuit initially overturned that ruling based on some technicalities, but is now in the process of considering the case again en banc, with more judges involved.
Last week, legal reps for the Swift side submitted a notice to court alerting judges hearing the 'Shake It Off' case to various similarities between it and the 'Stairway To Heaven' case. In particular, they said, both cases centred on a debate over "the requirements for a copyrightable selection and arrangement and the standard to be applied to claims of copying of a selection and arrangement".
Presumably the Swift side reckon that the recent Ninth Circuit hearing on the 'Stairway To Heaven' case - and perhaps also some key amicus briefs, such as the one submitted by the US Copyright Office and justice department - have generally erred in their favour. Mainly to the effect that, where similarities between two songs are based around short common elements, the shared components must be virtually identical for copyright to be infringed.
However, legal reps for Hall and Butler are keen to distance their legal battle from the higher profile 'Stairway To Heaven' dispute. Quickly submitting their own letter with the court last week, said legal reps pointed out that the latter appeal relates to a jury decision, whereas in their case the judge dismissed the litigation without it going to a full hearing. And issues over the haste with which their original case was dismissed are part of the appeal.
Also, they add, the 'Shake It Off' and 'Stairway To Heaven' cases actually centre on different kinds of copyright: lyrics and musical composition respectively.
The lawyers write: "[This case] involves a lyrical sequence, while the ['Stairway'] case involves a musical composition. Appellants in this case argue that the copyrightability analysis dealing with a literary work is different from other creative expressions".
They then add: "While one of the arguments submitted in the ['Stairway'] case contends that a sequence of musical notes should be adjudged in the same way as a combination of elements reflected in visual works, such as photographs or computer games, the court's resolution of the question presented in ['Stairway'] would still leave unresolved the question pending in this case".
So there you go. According to Law360, oral arguments in the 'Shake It Off' case are due to kick off next week.
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto to release live album
"[This] pulsing, immersive live performance melded electronic and analogue instrumentation with striking visuals to create one of the most precise, beautiful and challengingly magnetic pieces we have ever had the privilege of staging", says the Sydney Opera House's Head Of Contemporary Music Ben Marshall. "That Sakamoto and Noto are pleased enough with the recorded result to share its continuously unfolding, sinuous, questioning music with others is as singular an honour as it was for Sydney Opera House to host them".
Two more 'Two' performances are set to take place in Italy next month. The album is set for release on 15 Nov. Listen to closing track - Sakamoto's 'The Revenant Theme' - here.
Here's the full tracklist for the release:
Yann Tiersen revisits old material with guests including John Grant and Gruff Rhys for new album
"The apparent lightness or simplicity of some of my tracks has always been a disguise or reaction to their darker side", he says of revisiting his older work. "For instance 'La Dispute' is about extreme violence, blood, death and the strange state of shock you feel in the moments after something horrible has happened".
He then goes on: "That's one of my darkest tracks and I've always felt uncomfortable with the idea of people thinking it's a romantic thing to listen to on a date. People seemed to understand it when it was first released, but the use of my music for cinematic purposes put a sort of false mask on the face of the monster. I feel that 'Portrait' puts my tracks in context again so people can listen to my music and see it for what it is and not for what it's been used for".
The album is out on 6 Dec. Here's the full tracklist with guest info:
Introductory Movement (feat Stephen O'Malley)
Nominations for Independent Festival Awards announced, including four new categories
"We're refreshing the Independent Festival Awards this year with a new host and four new categories", explains AIF CEO Paul Reed. "The awards were set up as an irreverent alternative to other award shows, and the ultimate end of season celebration for the independent sector - so it's important to keep moving. We're delighted with the shortlist after receiving a record number of nominations from our members, proving there is no shortage of creativity and innovation in the independent festival sector".
Expanding on some of the changes, Reed adds: "We're doing even more with the production and theme of the awards this year to emphasise that festival feel - and we've introduced a European Festival Of The Year category to demonstrate that, no matter what, the UK industry will remain a Europe-wide market and community".
As well as Brexit-jibing European Festival Of The Year, the other new categories are Backstage Hero, In On The Ground Floor - recognising forward thinking artist bookings - and Never Mind The Pollocks - for the best festival artwork.
Here's the full list of nominations:
Unique Festival Arena: Smirnoff Arctic Disco (Snowbombing Austria), The Street (Beat-Hearder), Elephant's Grave (Nozstock: The Hidden Valley), The Roadhouse (Black Deer Festival), Seaside Stage (Victorious)
Live Act Of The Year: Kokoko, Yola, The Murder Capital, Black Futures, Bloxx
Smart Marketing: Lewis Cowpaldi (Standon Calling), Potato Line-up (Truck Festival), 2000 Palm Trees (2000trees), Dinosaurs April Fools (Kendal Calling), Pre-event videos (The Mighty Hoopla)
Backstage Hero: Megan Evans (Deer Shed Festival), David Peverly (Shambala and Boomtown), Nathan Stephenson (Nathan Stephenson Audio Production), Jean Lennihan (Black Deer Festival), Rob Nosworthy (Nozstock: The Hidden Valley), Alex Barton (Elderflower Fields)
European Festival: Pete The Monkey, Snowbombing, Let It Roll, Dunk! Festival, Blue Balls Festival
In On The Ground Floor: Barn On The Farm, End Of The Road, Twisterella, Standon Calling, Hanwell Hootie
Never Mind The Pollocks: Pete The Monkey, Standon Calling, ArcTanGent, Deer Shed Festival, End Of The Road
Caterer Of The Year: Ghetto Grillz, Flavours Of Africa, Manjula Kitchen, Open Sesame, Eat Like A Greek
Reservoir has signed rapper Young MA to a worldwide publishing deal. "As an independent artist it's important for me to continue adding the right partners to my team", she says. "I'm excited about being in business with Reservoir and joining forces with such a reputable company. [I'm] ready to make big moves!"
Elbow have announced that they will release a special 'don't skip' CD version of their 'Giants Of All Sizes' album to coincide with National Album Day this weekend. As the name suggests, the CD will feature the album as one continuous track, so that you'll be unable to skip any of it. Which... I guess... could be... something... you... might... want? It will only be available at HMV, Amazon and independent record shops this Saturday.
FKA Twigs has released new track 'Home With You', taken from her new album 'Magdalene', which is set for release on 8 Nov. "You can take the girl out of the suburbs but you can't take the suburbs out of the girl", she says. "'Home With You' reinforced my re-occurring suspicion that when I'm in doubt, I should follow my gut and go home".
Kim Gordon has released new solo single 'Hungry Baby'. Her first solo album 'No Home Record' is out this week.
Ms Banks has released new single 'Bad B Bop'. Her new album, 'Coldest Winter Ever Part 2', is out on 14 Nov.
Anna Meredith has released new single 'Inhale Exhale', from her upcoming 'Fibs' album. She's also announced an album launch show at the Lancaster Rooms in Somerset House Studios on 24 Oct.
Highasakite have released new single, 'Can I Be Forgiven'. The first part of their new two part album 'The Bare Romantic' will be released on 18 Oct. The second part will follow next year.
Steve Mason has announced that he will release new EP 'Coup d'Etat' on 18 Oct. From it, this is new single 'Like A Ripple'. He will also be touring the UK in November and December.
GIGS & TOURS
Dirty Hit has announced a UK tour in November and December showcasing three of its artists: Beabadoobee, No Rome and Oscar Lang. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
Canadian band Marianas Trench have announced plans to tour the UK for only the third time in their nearly 20 year career. The run includes a date at London's Scala on 14 Nov. Here's the video for new single 'Don't Miss Me?'
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Olivia Neutron-John drops name following cease-and-desist from Olivia Newton-John
Not to mention Throbbin Williams. Kylie Minoise. Lana Del Rabies. DJ Salinger. PS Eliot. Depressed Mode. The Ellen Degenerates. Ellen And The Degenerates. Gene Wildest. Jennifer Lo-Fi. Bear Grillz. Ghostface Kilobyte. Jay Not Z. Rolly Mingwald. Curb Cobain. Filth Collins.
So, all things considered, it's amazing that we haven't run a story like this before. But Olivia Neutron-John has announced that they are dropping the name after a cease-and-desist letter from their namesake.
I only made up one of those punny band names, by the way. And it wasn't Olivia Neutron-John. Otherwise this 'and finally' wouldn't need to exist. But this legal threat from Olivia Newton-John is very real, it seems.
Newton-John believed that Neutron-John was sufficiently similar to cause confusion. Neutron-John does not believe this to be the case but can't afford to fight back against Newton-John's lawyers. You're keeping up with this, right? You're ability to follow this story favours either Newton-John or Neutron-John, given the dispute is all about possible confusion.
In a post on Instagram yesterday, Neutron-John - who also works under the name Anna Nasty - said that a recent performance supporting Stereolab in New York would be their last under the name, adding that they "couldn't have planned a better way to go out". Although Nasty has performed as Olivia Neutron-John since around 2013, it appears to be the release of an album earlier this year that pricked up the ears of Newton-John's lawyers.
"In July, before the record had even been out for two months, I received a cease-and-desist from Olivia Newton-John's legal team", Nasty wrote. "Because I have very limited resources, I was unable to fight it. I am going to take this as an opportunity to step back and reinvent. Although it has been very difficult and emotional closing this chapter of my life, I'm excited for a new beginning. I'll be back again, under another name".
The label that released the Olivia Neutron-John album, Sister Polygon Records, added in its own Instagram post: "Anna is one of the greatest living artists we've ever met, and it is so upsetting to see a group of lawyers representing someone with a disproportionate amount of money and power get in the way of their expression for some non-existent capital gain. It is absolutely soul-wrecking to see someone's life work get trampled on this way. Please support ONJ in any way you can right now. I know it would mean a lot to them as they regroup and rebuild".
Had it progressed, Newton-John's lawyers would presumably have argued that Neutron-John was particularly close to their client's name, adding that said client also had a long career in music herself. Of course, to be confused Newton-John's fans would have to mistakenly believe that the 'Grease' star had suddenly dyed her hair black, started making lo-fi pop, and become 50-odd years younger. Which might be just a bit of a stretch.
Though, the legal people might also argue that Newton-John fans could mis-read Neutron-John posters and think that the star had started playing small punk venues in Brooklyn. Add to that the fact that, in her heyday, Newton-John was often nicknamed Olivia Neutron-Bomb, and maybe you've got yourself a perfectly good legal argument.
Exactly what Newton-John's demands in her cease-and-desist letter were isn't clear. Aside from forcing Nasty to stop using the Neutron-John name, she may also be asking for all existing recordings to be withdrawn from the market. If that's the case, it hasn't happened as yet.
Both Nasty and Sister Polygon urged fans to buy the twelve-inch of the Olivia Neutron-John album "while it's still available". Did that mean releases will soon be withdrawn? Probably not. Given the twelve-inch has already sold out in the label's online store, that statement was probably made because stock levels are low. The CD is still available and you can currently find the record on all the digital services.
It remains to be seen what new moniker Anna Nasty takes up. Sadly, John Revolta is already taken.