|WEDNESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Any remaining hopes that artists might see some of the money they were owed by the collapsed PledgeMusic seem to be gone. The government-appointed court official overseeing its liquidation has said that it is "unlikely" that any creditors of the company will be paid... [READ MORE]|
Artists "unlikely" to receive any money from PledgeMusic liquidation, says official receiver
The official receiver's report was sent to those still owed money by PledgeMusic earlier this week and did not offer good news. "I do not anticipate that I will need to contact you again because there is unlikely to be a payment to creditors in this case", it says, according to Variety.
Those creditors are largely made up of artists who used the crowdfunding and pre-order platform to raise money to release their music. Many incorrectly assumed that Pledge held this money in trust for the artists, passing it on (or not, as it turned out) once they'd hit their funding target. A set up of that kind would have given those artists some other legal avenues to claim what was owed to them if and when the Pledge company fell apart.
The receiver's report confirms that was not the case, stating that legal advisors for PledgeMusic's board members have indicated that funds held by the company "were not trust monies" and therefore belonged to the company, rather than the artists.
PledgeMusic finally went into administration in August after months of uncertainty. The company admitted a year ago that it was facing financial difficulties, but said that it had made internal changes to overcome this. However, artists continued to complain about delayed payments, and in February this year all payments were suspended as various attempts to rescue the company were pursued.
In May, it was announced that the company would be heading into administration, but it was another three months before this happened as negotiations to attempt to secure a buyer continued.
Elsewhere in the report, some light is shed on co-founder Benji Rogers' departure from the company and his more recent return as an unpaid advisor. The report states that Rogers resigned from the company's board in February 2018 following "a disagreement with the board concerning its business plan". Rogers had already stepped down as the firm's Chief Strategy Officer a year earlier.
It was only after severing ties with the company he founded that Rogers began receiving complaints from artists saying that they were not being paid, he told the receiver. He says that he attempted to help, but was not able to meet with the Pledge board until January of this year, at which point he returned on a voluntary basis to try to secure a buyer for the company.
Other board members interviewed for the report confirmed all of this, and opined that the company ultimately failed because the commission it took from monies raised by artists was simply "insufficient to meet its expenditure".
There have been many rumours about what might have led to PledgeMusic's collapse, it not charging enough for its services being the simplest. The report says that "enquiries into the company's affairs and reasons for its failure are continuing".
House Of Representatives passes the CASE Act
It would do that by setting up a new three judge copyright claims board within the US Copyright Office. The board would only hear simpler copyright infringement claims, with the aim of making it quicker and cheaper for smaller copyright owners to enforce their rights, compared to pursuing traditional litigation through the courts.
There are plenty of critics of the proposed new claims board, who argue that it will be open to abuse. Such criticism stopped earlier proposals for such an initiative from getting through the law-making process, but supporters hope that this time the required new laws will be passed.
Those supporters argue that the new system is to benefit grassroots creators - including photographers, film-makers and musicians - rather than major record companies and Hollywood studios. The Copyright Office will also be charged with the task of monitoring how the board is utilised to ensure that there is no abuse of the system.
The House Of Representatives passing the CASE Act was welcomed by, among others, the Recording Academy. It’s Chief Industry, Government & Member Relations Officer, Daryl Friedman, said: "The Recording Academy applauds the House for passing the CASE Act today, another victory for music creators almost exactly a year after the Music Modernization Act was signed into law".
The proposals will now head to the US Senate for further scrutiny and voting. Thanking the nearly 2000 Recording Academy members who have been lobbying for the CASE Act to be passed, Friedman added: "We now look to the Senate and the White House to get this bill into law and ensure music makers have access to the copyright protection they deserve".
PPL to lead on new record industry joined-up data initiative
Collecting societies, of course, represent artists, labels, songwriters and publishers in those licensing scenarios where the industry has decided to license collectively, ie as one. Quite when collective licensing applies varies from country to country - and is different between recording rights and song rights - but commonly applies to radio, TV, live music and when recordings get played in public.
In order to know who to pay when music gets played in these scenarios, each collecting society has a database of its members works. Whenever labels release new tracks and publishers publish new songs information about those works, the people involved in making them, and the people with a stake in the resulting copyrights, all needs to be logged.
Each country has its own collecting societies, each of which have their own databases. Which is a lot of databases. One of the challenges for the music industry has always been getting the right data into all those databases, keeping said data up to date, and making sure the data is consistent across the world.
This has become ever more important as new services and new technologies have increased the number of micro-payments processed by the music industry each month. And these collecting society databases can have an impact beyond collective licensing because, with copyright an unregistered right in most of the world, the music industry generally treats its society databases as being how you get your music officially "into the system".
The new Repertoire Data Exchange project, or RDx, aims to make it easier for those on the recordings side of the business to log their tracks with all the relevant society databases, ensuring said databases are updated quicker and more accurately, which in turn makes the payment of royalties by the collecting societies more efficient.
IFPI and WIN explain: "Record companies have historically used a variety of data delivery processes to supply content to individual [societies] around the world, presenting challenges in the supply of recording data. RDx will offer recording right holders of all sizes, from all countries, a single registration point to supply their repertoire data in a standardised format that can be quickly and easily accessed by all [societies], leading to improvements in data quality".
An assortment of music firms and collecting societies - coordinated by IFPI and WIN - have been involved in setting up the RDx project, including all three majors, indies Beggars, [PIAS] and state51, plus societies PPL, Re:Sound, SENA and Gramex Finland.
Announcing all this, IFPI boss Frances Moore said: "Record companies continue to invest in and enhance the accuracy and management of music data in many different areas of the industry. RDx is a key example of an initiative that will benefit all parties involved. It will improve operational efficiencies and lower costs for right holders whilst allowing [societies] to retrieve authoritative repertoire data from a single point - enabling more accurate and timely distribution of revenues".
Meanwhile WIN's COO Charlie Phillips added: "[Society-collected royalties] make up an increasingly important part of independent labels’ revenues. With music being globally accessible, our association members’ repertoire travels the globe and sees revenues generated internationally. Historically, supplying complex data into the international network of [societies] has not been straightforward for independent producers and right holders".
"The international independent sector has, through WIN, supported the development of RDx over several years since its inception" he went on. "We are delighted that the industry has worked together to create a service for the benefit of all labels and producers. We look forward to working on a joint basis with IFPI as RDx gathers momentum".
And finally the boss of PPL, which will lead on the project, Peter Leathem, said: "In recent years, we at PPL have invested significantly in our technology and data capabilities; as such, our leading role in the development of RDx is complementary to our existing operations".
"We are well placed", he continued, "to support IFPI and WIN to address the challenges of big data, drawing on our in-house experience in using [data standards] DDEX, our relationships with music licensing companies around the world, and our expertise gained from managing huge volumes of recording data every week. This is a significant step forward in global data management and we are proud to be powering such an innovative solution on behalf of IFPI and WIN".
RDx is, of course, a record industry initiative, and is therefore focused on recording rights not song rights. Similar initiatives do exist to try to better sync up databases on the songs side. And then there is the real holy grail in music rights data, industry-wide agreement on the matching of recordings to songs. Some people are working on that too.
Each initiative that joins up databases and deals with data clashes is a step in the right direction, though there is still much work to be done to get the accurate consistent global data set that could fix so many issues in the music rights business.
Fender launches new Apple Music-powered guitar practice app
The new app complements the company's other subscription service, guitar tuition platform Fender Play. It is enabled by an assortment of deals and partnerships, including agreements with music publishers like Sony/ATV, Warner Chappell, Kobalt and BMG, and some labels too, including Warner Music.
The instrument firm also reckons it has AI technology that can identify the chords in pretty much any song, so that you aren't limited to a small catalogue of music.
"Fender Songs, we believe, will enable players to easily and dramatically expand their song repertoire", says Andy Mooney, Chief Executive Officer of Fender. "Goldman Sachs forecasts the number of streaming subscribers to hit 700 million in three years and top one billion by 2030; these are staggering numbers that bode well for Fender's success in both the digital and analogue worlds".
Layering a second paid subscription on top of an existing premium music account is also obviously attractive for rightsholders looking to extract more money out of streaming.
"We're excited to expand our digital products offering with Fender Songs. Songs will allow our players to access practically any song they want and provide quick and easy-to-learn chords they can practice directly on the app", adds Ethan Kaplan, General Manager of Fender Digital. "Working with Apple Music, publishers and record labels, we've been able to ensure artist songs are fully licensed, taking our relationships with them to a new level".
Getting this service off the ground has required various other partnerships too, including with 7Digital, LyricFind, Music Story, Music Reports, Amazon's API Gateway and Lambda Serverless, Dynamo DB, AWSCognito, ElasticSearch and more. Which is a lot of paperwork. Well done to Fender's paperwork crew.
Currently only available in the US, Fender Songs costs $4.99 per month or $41.99 for a twelve month subscription.
Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper to leave BBC
In an email to staff, Cooper said yesterday: "It was a childhood dream of mine to work at Radio 1 and I'm grateful to have done that not only as a producer but then also as Controller. After eight years of 'Listen, Watch, Share', it's time for a new challenge".
"What our stations do for the BBC is so important", he continued. "Celebrating and championing youth culture in our society, whether that is the new music we play or reflecting the issues that concern young people today - and I'm very proud of what we have achieved together over the years".
Whenever I turn on Radio 1 these days it seems to be celebrating youth culture of the 1990s, but sure. Whatever you say Coop.
He, by the way, had been a favourite to get the BBC's new Controller Of Pop Music job when it was first announced earlier this year. And when that role was given to BBC Radio veteran Lorna Clarke in July there was speculation that that might prompt the R1 boss to seek opportunities outside the Corporation. Though obviously, officially speaking, there is no word on whether that did motivate his departure.
In a statement, the Beeb's Director Of Radio & Education, James Purnell, said: "Throughout his time with us, Ben has kept the stations fresh and relevant with his intuitive leadership and sharp editorial instincts. The 'Listen, Watch, Share' strategy, which he has pioneered, has made Radio 1 more than just a radio station - today it's a hugely impactful youth brand with more than fifteen million weekly YouTube views and over ten million social followers".
"He's championed new talent, both on and off air, and built lasting relationships with the music industry", he continued. "Ben has also protected the unbeatable place we have in the lives of young people in the UK, ensuring our radio stations remain the go to places for the biggest global music acts".
For all this eulogising, Cooper won't actually leave the Controller role until the beginning of next year. Who will replace him? Let's have a punt and say it'll be Aled Haydn Jones, currently Head Of Programmes at Radio 1, who has already put in over 21 years at the station, so is old enough to remember when 1990s youth culture actually was youth culture.
MU says any new measures to combat sexual harassment in the workplace need to also protect freelancers
The MU states: "Earlier this year, the government held a consultation on preventing sexual harassment at work. While we welcome the government's proposal to implement a new preventative duty that will require employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, it does not go far enough".
It goes on: "Their proposed preventative duty has the potential to affect the substantial culture change we would like to see in the music industry and in wider society. But the protection it offers would be limited to employees and workers only, leaving freelancers without any meaningful protection".
The MU's own research shows that freelancers are less likely to report incidents of sexual harassment because they fear they might lose work or lose out on future work, that being more likely to happen when you are self-employed.
In a survey of MU members - in which nearly 50% of respondents reported being a victim of sexual harassment and over half said they had witnessed harassment - 61% of respondents said that they felt they were at greater risk of experiencing sexual harassment because of their freelance status.
Concluding, the MU says: "It should not be the sole responsibility of the self-employed or freelancers to protect themselves. New protections should be making this inequality of protection better, not worse".
The MU has set up a petition calling on ministers to ensure that any new measures to protect workers against sexual harassment can be applied to freelancers - in the music community and beyond - as well. Info here.
Marathon Music Group's Move Recordings label has signed an agreement with Afrobeat festival Afro Nation for a series of releases. A&R activities to find music for these releases is largely being carried out via WhatsApp as a means of connecting artists in different countries. An EP set for release in February will be recorded in Ghana during the festival in December.
Music rights firm Reservoir has signed Rachel Chinouriri to a worldwide publishing deal. "I'm certain that working closely with Reservoir will help me grow as an artist and a person and I'm so excited to find out what this next chapter brings", she says.
Also at Reservoir, songwriter David Sneddon has extended his deal with the company. "I've really felt proud to be a Reservoir writer during the last three years", he says. "It's no coincidence my Reservoir years have been amongst my most successful as a professional songwriter".
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING
UK-based music-centric financial technology company Centtrip has opened a new office in Holland. "With our business growing exponentially, Amsterdam was the natural choice for our new mainland Europe hub", says the company's Simon Liddell. "The city, which has a fantastic musical heritage, is one of the key gateways to Europe and is fast becoming a key centre for technology alongside being a leading economy for innovation". London, of course, used to be a gateway to Europe and a key centre for technology. Happy days.
UK-based Japanese music record label JPU Records is launching a podcast tonight. The first episode will be available on YouTube here from 8pm. Episode two will follow an hour later, featuring an interview with Ladybeard.
Universal Music has now sent out the press release confirming that Kanye West's new album 'Jesus Is King' will be released this Friday. The album and its accompanying film will be previewed at an event at The Forum in LA today.
Underworld will release the full collection of music and videos created as part of their 'Drift' project over the last year on 1 Nov, split across seven CDs. From it, this is new track 'STAR'. The duo will also play Wembley Arena on 7 Dec.
Anna Meredith has released the video for recent single 'Inhale Exhale'. Her new album 'Fibs' is out this week.
Little Dragon have released new single 'Tongue Kissing'. The band will play London's Brixton Academy on 26 Mar.
Låpsley is back with new single 'My Love Was Like The Rain'. Her new EP, 'These Elements', is out on 22 Nov.
Ben Watt has released new solo single 'Irene', featuring Low's Alan Sparhawk. His new album, 'Storm Damage', is out on 31 Jan.
K-Trap has released new single 'Exit'.
Lightning Bolt have released the video for 'Blow To The Head' from their new album, 'Sonic Citadel'. There will be UK shows next month.
Mount Forel have released the video for new single 'Witney', named after the constituency where failed Prime Minister David Cameron was previously MP. "We were recording our album in Witney", says drummer Andrew Wakatsuki-Robinson. "It's the most conservative place I've ever seen. We listed a bunch of things going sour right now - inequality, climate change, false is the new norm and air quality, then wrote a song about a town where none of these ills seem to exist; our own little Witney, if you will". The band will play Grow in Hackney Wick on 29 Oct.
GIGS & TOURS
The Stereophonics have announced two warm up shows for their Feb/Mar arena tour at Liverpool's Mountford Hall on 18 Jan and Leeds Academy on 19 Jan. Tickets went on sale this morning. The band's new album 'Kind' is out this week.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Owner of Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged cardigan says he's selling it because it's too powerful
Garrett Kletjian, who previously kept his 2015 purchase of the item of clothing for $137,500 anonymous, said the gravity of his acquisition hit him almost as soon as it was delivered to his house. Being in charge of such a recognisable piece of rock n roll attire was apparently more stressful than owning a motor racing team (which he does - that's why I said that).
"I opened it up and it immediately hits me: 'Oh, now I'm also going to be responsible for this'", he tells Rolling Stone. "It was kind of like when my children were born years ago; I was so happy to see them, but then I was like, 'Oh no...'"
It hasn't been washed and since 2015 has been kept in a gun safe. Has Kletjian ever taken it out and paraded around in it for a while? Maybe knocked out a few Nirvana tunes on the guitar while wearing it? No. Although he admits that he put it on for less than a minute once, which just made things worse.
"It's kind of a weird, powerful thing when you do something like that, when we put on somebody else's [clothes]", he says. "It's like when they say you should walk in somebody else's shoes. When I put that on, I was like, 'Ah, no, God, I don't want to wear this'".
Still, he managed to stomach keeping the cardigan around for long enough for its price to go up. With bids of $200,000 already in, the famous bit of clothing is expected to sell for up to $300,000. Then someone else can feel its awesome power. And also look at the stains on it, which Kletjian guesses could be chocolate or vomit. Lovely.