|WEDNESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Cross-sector trade body UK Music has updated its big "value of the music industry" figure, which the lobbying group cleverly calculates each year so that stat-loving politicians can then quote it back at them. And the figure is up, up, up: from £4.5 billion last year to £5.2 billion this year. Partly because of growth across the sector, and partly because UK Music has expanded its definition of the music industry... [READ MORE]|
Value of UK music industry tops £5.2 billion, says UK Music
This figure is the 'gross value added' by the music business to the wider UK economy. UK Music compiles it by pulling in data from across the different strands of the music industry, and then breaks down the resulting stats by those strands. These used to be shared via a report called 'Measuring Music'. The new 'Music By Numbers' book published today revamps things a little, and also includes music tourism data previously released separately.
In an outline of its methodology, UK Music notes: "This year ... we have expanded the elements of the industry about which we collect data and have developed a new definition of what constitutes the core UK music industry". Newly included in the big count are music lawyers and accountants, recording studios, and - most significantly - the music retail sector, including the often forgotten musical instrument makers and sellers.
In terms of breakdown by strand of the music industry, the group called music creators -which brings together artists, songwriters and, as of this report, record producers too - still has by far the biggest GVA of £2.5 billion. Live music is then the next biggest strand of the business with a GVA of £1.1 billion, a 10% increase on last year's figures.
The music rights sector, however, is split across three strands. The GVA of the recording industry is £568 million, while for music publishing its £459 million. Then some of the £402 million allocated to music retail is for monies kept by the retailers on the sale of discs, downloads and subscriptions, which is essentially also music rights income. Put all that together, and music rights probably out-performs live.
Other big number stats in the new report include music industry export revenues of £2.7 billion, a £4.5 billion contribution to the UK economy from the wider music tourism sector, and an estimate that 190,935 people were working in the music industry in 2018.
Launching the new report, UK Music boss Michael Dugher said: "Our report reveals firm evidence that the British music industry is in great shape and continuing to lead the world. The figures are hugely encouraging and show that, as well as enriching the lives of millions of people, music makes an incredible contribution to the UK's economy".
Still, despite the rude health, there remains work to be done to keep things moving in the right direction. Obviously. Because that's the point of reports like this. Demonstrate the value of your industry to political types, and then present your wish list of reforms and initiatives you want from Parliament and the government. As soon as we have such a thing.
"This is not a time for complacency", added Dugher. "We face many challenges to ensure we keep our music industry vibrant, diverse and punching above its weight. We need to do more to protect grassroots venues by helping them combat soaring business rates. We need to nurture the talent pipeline, including by reversing the decline of music in education, so that children from every background have access to music".
And, of course, "we need to make sure that creators get fair rewards for their content and are not ripped off by big tech. And we urgently need to ensure that the impact of Brexit doesn't put in jeopardy the free movement of talent, just at the time when we should be looking outwards and backing the best of British talent right across the world".
Songwriters and artists call on US court to uphold Copyright Royalty Board's streaming rate increase
The compulsory licence means that a company exploiting the mechanical rights in any one song does not need specific permission from any songwriter or publisher that has a stake in that song. They just have to pay the rights owners royalties at a rate set by the CRB.
Earlier this year, after a long review, the CRB confirmed it was increasing the rate to be paid by streaming services, so that - ultimately - those services would have to allocate 15.1% instead of 10.5% of their revenues to the song rights.
This would bring the rate due under the US compulsory licence more or less in line with the rate music publishers have negotiated on the open market in countries where there is no compulsory licence to interfere in the deal making process.
It's also a total rate. A stream exploits both the performing and mechanical rights in a song, which are often licensed separately. Although the compulsory licence only covers mechanical rights, any monies paid for performing rights - usually via collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP - are basically deducted from the 15.1% figure.
The increase was, unsurprisingly, welcomed by songwriters and publishers. But then most of the streaming firms, with the notable exception of Apple, announced that they were appealing the CRB ruling. Spotify has subsequently insisted that it doesn't oppose the rate increase in principle, but has issues with some other technicalities in the revised compulsory licence. Songwriters and publishers, in the main, have not been impressed by such claims.
Those unimpressed include the Songwriters Of North America organisation and the recently formed Music Artists Coalition. Arguing that songwriters are already unusually disadvantaged by the mere existence of the compulsory licence, they say that the rate rise on digital income is desperately needed by the songwriting community. And especially those songwriters who are not also artists, who cannot rely on other revenues like touring and merch.
"For over a century, songwriters have been subject to a compulsory license, now embodied in section 115 of the Copyright Act, that determines the price to be paid for reproduction and distribution of the musical works they create", the two groups say in their court submission. "There is no comparable example of a profession where the government sets the price for one's labours".
It goes on: "After carefully weighing all of the evidence, the [judges that form the Copyright Royalty Board] determined that songwriters should be paid more, and increased the rate for interactive streaming under section 115. Songwriters deserved that raise. Indeed, for some, the added income will be a critical factor in their ability to continue in their careers as professional songwriters".
In an accompanying press statement SONA and MAC members expanded on why they felt the CRB rate rise was "critical" for allowing many songwriters to stay in business.
Among them SONA board member Shelly Peiken, who said: "If I were trying to make it as a songwriter today dependent on digital royalties, I wouldn't be able to sustain a livelihood the way I once did from the income of physical sales. Without sharing in master royalties, merchandising or touring revenue, most songwriters now have to consider holding down a second job. I sincerely hope the DC Circuit Court Of Appeals reaffirms the CRJs' decision and takes the industry in the direction it desperately needs to go. Songwriters are counting on it".
US publishers and societies start to disagree on consent decree reform
Collective licensing - when the music industry chooses to license as one through collecting societies - always raises competition law concerns, and no more so than in the US. To allay those concerns, the two big song rights societies in America - ASCAP and BMI - have long had agreements in place with the country's Department Of Justice. These 'consent decrees' restrict how ASCAP and BMI operate to stop possible anti-competitive conduct.
Pretty much everyone in the music industry reckons that those consent decrees are no longer fit for purpose and need to be rewritten. And with the DoJ reviewing the consent decrees once again, everyone is saying so much more loudly.
BMI and ASCAP themselves want new significantly streamlined consent decrees that include sunset clauses that would allow for DoJ regulation to end entirely at some point in the future. Organisations representing broadcasters, venues, bars and tech companies reckon the current consent decrees should be kept in place unchanged.
There is plenty of support in the music community for BMI and ASCAP's position. Although there are some detractors.
Rival society GMR argues that, while regulation relating to how BMI and ASCAP deal with licensees may be outdated, rules regarding how they treat their members are still needed. Meanwhile some groups repping songwriters reckon new rules are required to stop music publishers from unilaterally moving rights between different collecting societies without consulting the songwriters who wrote and are beneficiaries of those works.
Billboard's new report hones in on a recent submission by an assortment of music publishers - probably coordinated by the National Music Publishers Association - which sees said publishers disagreeing with ASCAP and BMI on a couple of issues: partial withdrawal of rights and moves to allow ASCAP and BMI to represent mechanical rights.
Many music publishers have been pushing for partial withdrawal of rights for years now. Indeed it was one of the key reasons the music industry lobbied for the last consent decree review, in which the DoJ decided to make no changes. Basically, the publishers want the option to pull digital rights out of the collective licensing system. They could then force digital services into direct deals, while still allowing BMI and ASCAP to license their rights to broadcasters, the live sector, and any public space that plays music.
The desire to pull digital rights out of BMI and ASCAP first became big news when the music industry was in dispute with Pandora which, at the time, relied on a SoundExchange licence on the recordings side and BMI/ASCAP licences for songs. Under the current US system, although digital services are not obliged to use collecting society licences, they can always rely on them. Which weakens the negotiating hand of rights owners.
When the publishers tried to pull their rights out of the societies to get a better rate from Pandora the courts that oversee the consent decrees ruled that such partial withdrawal was not possible. If the publishers wanted to stop Pandora from licensing their songs via BMI and ASCAP they'd have to exit the societies entirely. Which would mean directly licensing every pub, bar and café. Such a move would also throw up questions about what publishers can and cannot do without the permission of their songwriters.
European law actually does the opposite in that it forces collecting societies to allow members to withdraw sets of rights (albeit only with writer and publisher approval). So the US publishers want to see the consent decrees rewritten to allow partial withdrawal in the US too. However, reports Billboard, BMI and ASCAP are not keen to make this a priority for consent decree reform at this time, seemingly because they fear it's too controversial a change that will result in fierce licensee opposition that could scupper reform entirely.
It's thought that the societies are basically adopting a "be careful what you wish for" line. Last time the publishers pushed for partial withdrawal, not only did they not get it, but the DoJ announced that the societies should be operating a 100% licensing system. That would mean that BMI would have to license 100% of a song even if its members only actually controlled 50% (passing the other 50% of the money over to another society).
The music industry fought back against that demand and ultimately won in court. But it seems that the societies fear that lobbying for things like partial withdrawal might result in licensees again pushing for a 100% licensing approach. Or even worse, the introduction of new compulsory licences covering various different uses of song rights.
The other key area of disagreement between the publishers and the societies seems to be mechanical rights. Currently ASCAP and BMI only represent the performing rights in songs, not the mechanical rights. BMI probably could be working with mechanical rights too, but ASCAP's consent decree specifically bans such a thing.
While performing rights and mechanical rights are often licensed separately - and in all the Anglo-American markets there are separate societies for the two sides of the song copyright - more joined up thinking in the licensing process is generally a good thing. Especially since it was decided that a stream exploits both the performing and mechanical rights at the same time, so streaming services need licences for both elements.
Throughout all the hoo haa about how mechanical royalties are paid in the US - and the fundamentally flawed licensing system that resulted in songwriters going unpaid and streaming services getting sued - one simple solution to the problem was rarely discussed. That being to allow BMI and ASCAP - which are already licensing performing rights to the streaming services - to bundle the mechanical rights in.
Bundling performing and mechanical rights could work either by allowing BMI and ASCAP to directly control both sides of the copyright, like in much of Europe, or by having a separate society for mechanicals which appoints BMI/ASCAP to do most of the work, as happens with MCPS and PRS in the UK.
But publishers have generally been quietly resistant to this solution. Possibly because of fears it would result in songwriters demanding a direct payment of at least some mechanical rights income from the society (as happens in much of Europe), rather than all mechanicals money first passing through the publisher's bank account. Or possibly because they don't entirely trust the performing right societies to properly administrate and/or distribute a revenue stream which, in Anglo-American markets, is more tightly controlled by the publishers.
Either way, Billboard reports that in their letter to the DoJ, the publishers write that - if ASCAP and BMI were to get involved in mechanical rights - "their effectiveness as a performing rights organisation will be diminished".
It remains to be seen where the consent decree review goes next. Though those lobbying on the licensee side - who want the consent decrees to remain unchanged - will be hoping that disagreements within the music community will strengthen their case. Divide and conquer and all that.
Kobalt signs Mxmtoo
"Maia is truly the voice of her generation", says Kobalt's VP Creative Melissa Emert-Hutner of the nineteen year old. "By sharing her beautiful, heartfelt music with the world and growing her brand organically, she exemplifies the DIY spirit and aesthetic that Kobalt embraces. We are proud to welcome her to the family, and are beyond excited about what we will accomplish together".
The musician herself adds: "I've been excited to work with Kobalt from the get go. I love that there are so many different types of individuals involved in conversations about what new ways artists can achieve their goals. I truly believe Kobalt is extremely well equipped to not only help me realise my dreams as an individual, but to help form new pathways and avenues for aspects of my project that excite me as I go along!"
The agreement covers publishing administration, sync and creative support. To date, since 2017, Mxmtoon has released various singles, two EPs and her debut album, 'The Masquerade', which came out in September this year.
UK's streaming market could double in value by 2023, says ERA
Consultants at OC&C, who carried out the research, reckon that at its current trajectory the UK's streaming music market will continue to grow so that annual revenues could top £1.1 billion by 2023.
However, if the streaming services and their music industry partners proactively upsell existing subscribers extra services and tempt more streaming hold-outs into the fold, it could reach as much as £1.6 billion - effectively doubling things from the 2018 market value of £829 million.
That's a lot of "coulds" though, isn't it? I mean, I reckon I could do 3000 press ups if I really put the effort it. But for now, five will have to do. Well, three.
Anyway, OC&C's Pedro Sanches says this: "Our study indicates the UK music industry has a significant opportunity to increase the size of the market beyond even the most bullish expectations. It is clear that if the industry can come up with tailored offers which deliver value to specific groups of consumers then there's a major prize at stake".
That basically means that the current "here, have access to all the music in the world ever, we want £10 a month" approach isn't right for everyone. And while there are some more focussed streaming services out there, the industry needs more in order to fulfil its potential. Particularly when it comes to attracting people who are put off by the all-you-can-eat option.
"The current model dates back to 2008", Sanches goes on. "It has enjoyed enormous success in part because of its simplicity but further innovation will deliver more growth".
ERA CEO Kim Bayley adds: "We commissioned this report to get an independent sense-check on the growth prospects for streaming. It's fair to say even we were surprised just how positive the results are. This is a significant piece of work showing how music can embrace the learnings of related leisure markets".
"Rewind ten years when the music industry was on its knees, few would have believed possible the miracle turnaround streaming services have now achieved", she adds. "OC&C indicates that further opening the door to innovation is key to music reaching its full potential".
Stormzy announces second album Heavy Is The Head
So, yeah, Stormzy will release his second album, 'Heavy Is The Head', on 13 Dec through his Warner/Atlantic imprint #Merky Records. That means, of course, if it has any burning political statements on it, they'll arrive the day after the General Election, which may not be ideal.
Guests on the album include Ed Sheeran, HER, Aitch, Burna Boy, Headie One and Tiana Major9. The Ed Sheeran track is nuzzled right up next to Wiley homage 'Wiley Flow', which may or may not be an attempt to wind Wiley up while also paying tribute to him. Who knows? Maybe it's just coincidence.
Going back to that Glastonbury performance, which was one of the defining headline sets of the festival's history, Stormzy has now revealed that he came off stage thinking it had been a disaster.
"The thing about Glasto, and I've not told anybody this, but I had no sound", he tells Q. "My in-ears blew after about 20 minutes, so I had no sound for the whole thing. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done".
"When I walked off stage", he adds, "I thought I'd fucked it. I thought it was the worst thing I'd ever done. I came off stage and thought I'd totally, absolutely, blown it. I was crying for, like, an hour. I was in hysterics. I thought I'd fucked it up. Heartbroken, man. Heartbroken".
It was only when he spoke to Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis later that he realised that it had gone "alright", he says.
The cover artwork for the new album shares a connection with that Glastonbury show, showing Stormzy gazing down on the Banksy-designed Union jack stab-proof vest he wore during the performance.
TNGHT have released the video for 'Gimme Summn' from their new EP 'II'. "I wanted to see Julian Assange as a centaur", nods Hudson Mohawke.
Devonté Hynes is releasing his score for the film 'Queen & Slim' this Friday. Here are two tracks from it, 'Hair' and 'Kissed All Your Scars'.
Soccer Mommy has released new song 'Lucy', contained within a short film titled 'Yellow Is The Color Of Her Eyes'.
Nada Surf have announced that they will release their ninth album, 'Never Not Together', on 7 Feb. "We're all together, and that's just the way it is, and the way it always will be", says frontman Matthew Caws. "That's the sacred truth of it". OK then. Here's new single 'Something I Should Do'.
Amnesia Scanner have released new track 'AS Acá', a collaboration with Peruvian musician Lalita.
The Song, By Toad label has briefly come out of retirement to release David Thomas Broughton's 2005 album 'A Complete Guide To Insufficiency' on vinyl. "Haunting, dreamy, grating, beautiful and baffling - pick a cliché, it's probably in there at some point", says label boss Matthew Young. "It's a glorious, glorious album anyway, and I am really proud to be releasing it on vinyl at long last".
Swedish producer Varg has changed his name to Varg2TM, following a cease-and-desist from German metal band Varg. Possibly related, he also has a new EP out on 12 Dec called 'Fuck Varg'. From it, this is 'Thirst (Dressed In Nothing But UV Paint And Biodegradable Glitter)'.
GIGS & TOURS
Squarepusher has announced that he will play a one-off show at The Roundhouse in London on 15 May next year. He will also release his long-awaited new album, 'Be Up A Hello', on 31 Jan.
King Krule has announced UK and Ireland tour dates in March next year, finishing up at Brixton Academy on 24 Mar. He's also put out this short film featuring new music.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Akon wants to be Kanye's Vice President in 2024
Seemingly this is because he doesn't want to run against his great mate Donald Trump, who is standing for a second and final term. But even without Trump in his way should he choose to compete in the 2024 race, Akon reckons West would still need help in any bid to become America's Commander In Chief. And he knows who should provide it.
Cornered by a TMZ reporter outside an LA restaurant, Akon was challenged over comments he had made on US daytime TV show 'The Real' about his own plans to run for political office in 2024. Specifically, the musician was asked why he'd said that West is "crazy" and "possibly unfit" to run for President.
"No, I said he wasn't crazy", countered Akon. "I didn't say he was possibly unfit either. I said whether or not he's unfit is a different conversation. I think he's fine, but the world may think different".
Akon is correct. He did not say West was "crazy" or "unfit". In fact, what he said on 'The Real' was: "Kanye is not crazy, he's just been awakened from a spiritual state. I just feel like he's awake now. Now, he's the most amazing marketer in the world. He understands his audience, but he's definitely not crazy, he knows what he's doing".
"My thing is", Akon added, "if he does run [for President], it's great for the culture. Now, if you think he's not fit, that's another thing, that's why you got me as another choice".
That there sounds very much like Mr Akon is planning to run for the US's top job himself, pitting himself against West in 2024. What a battle that would be! But, sadly, it's not one you're going to see. Akon sees himself as more of a Kanye ally than a rival.
"I didn't [say I'd run against him]", insisted Akon in the newer interview. "Anything could happen. To me it's not a competition, it's a matter of what God wills it to be. But I think the combination [of the two musicians together in political office] could be something. You just never know, you have to wait until that time comes and see".
But, he confirmed: "I would [run as West's Vice President]. One thousand percent".
This doesn't overcome the fact that the two men's politics are somewhat at odds - particularly when it comes to West's support of Donald Trump. This shouldn't be an issue though, reckons Akon. In fact, it could be a benefit.
He went on: "Me, I'm nowhere near aligned with Trump. I think if it came to it and we went head-to-head, that would be a small conversation in a back room. 'Look, you hold this position, I hold this position, and that's what makes us strong, the fact that we both disagree'. So, working together, we can now fulfil the overall play of what the American people are looking for. And I think would be a great combo".
I'm not sure Akon has really understood the two-party political system, but collaborative politics probably is better than adversarial, so maybe he's onto something. Still, this is all something of a turnaround. Last year, Akon said that he would attempt to stand against Trump in 2020, and that he would accept no less than to be in the running for President.
Back then he was hoping that Mark Zuckerberg would be his Vice President - although perhaps seeing Zuckerberg's recent performance in Congress put him off that idea.