|FRIDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Scooter Braun has finally officially commented on the war of words between Taylor Swift and her former label Big Machine that began when his Ithaca Holdings business bought the record company earlier this year. Speaking at a conference in Hollywood, Braun didn't get into the specifics of the ongoing dispute, or respond to any of Swift's allegations, but said repeatedly that he felt social media was the wrong forum in which to feud... [READ MORE]|
Scooter Braun comments on Taylor Swift beef, insists disputes should be settled behind closed doors
Swift's big Big Machine bust up has been big news again in the last week, of course, after the pop star returned to social media to seek fan support in the latest phase of the dispute.
According to Swift, the label is trying to persuade her to not re-record any of her earlier albums as soon as she is allowed to do so under the terms of her old Big Machine contract. In a bid to pressure her to comply, Swift said, Big Machine was threatening to screw up her performance at the American Music Awards and an in-development Netflix documentary by refusing to grant the permissions both projects needed from the label.
Big Machine denied Swift's claims, although her people then said that the label's denial was carefully worded, so it could deny her general claims without actually denying her specific claims. Either way, this weekend's AMA performance seemingly now has the all clear.
As all that was unfolding, gossipers were busy telling reporters that Braun was increasingly frustrated that his name was "being dragged in the mud", Swift having begun her public beef with Big Machine earlier this year by accusing the artist manager and new owner of her master recordings of having bullied her in the past.
It was all the more frustrating, those close to Braun said, because - while Big Machine is now part of his corporate group - he has no hands-on role in the running of the label and is not involved in the ongoing negotiations with Swift. Meanwhile, he doesn't feel it is appropriate to start having conversations with the pop star through a series of public statements.
Braun was in conversation with Variety's Shirley Halperin at the Entertainment Industry Conference in Hollywood yesterday. Knowing that the Swift v Big Machine saga was going to come up during the conversation, the manager pre-empted the inevitable question while discussing the various charity projects that the artists he manages have been involved in.
"My grandpa used to say, when your glass keeps getting poured full, you better pour it in other glasses or it makes a mess", he said of the rationale for those charity ventures. "It's hard, when you've tried to live your life that way, when other people are trying to say that you don't live your life that way, because you can't make everyone like you. You can't get all the facts straight. But I think the only thing you can do is hope for communication".
Addressing Halperin directly, he then said: "I know where you're going to go. I'm kind of getting ahead to it. Ask the question!"
The Variety journalist formally introduced the timely topic by asking Braun how it feels to be cast as the villain of the story by many of Swift's supporters. "I haven't talked about this in six months. Not once. I haven't made a statement about it", he responded. "When there's a lot of things being said and a lot of different opinions, yet the principals haven't had a chance to speak to each other, there's a lot of confusion".
Confirming that he wasn't going to go into the specifics of the Swift dispute, he instead explained why he thought dealing with things like this in the public domain was counterproductive. "I just think we live in a time of toxic division, and of people thinking that social media is the appropriate place to air out on each other and not have conversations", he mused. "I don't like politicians doing it. I don't like anybody doing it".
Hence why, unlike Swift and Big Machine, he hasn't issued any public statements since this all kicked off in June. "If that means that I've got to be the bad guy longer", he went on, "I'll be the bad guy longer, but I'm not going to participate".
Adding that he suspected at least some of the Swift v Big Machine beef was down to miscommunication, he continued: "I think that these problems that are being discussed can be discussed behind closed doors and figured out pretty easily, and it's something I've wanted to do for six months".
Swift's supporters might argue that plenty of discussions have happened behind closed doors, and that the musician only went public when she decided Big Machine were being totally unreasonable and were refusing to budge. They had the contractual leverage, so she used PR leverage. Sometimes in an industry that often skews in favour of the corporates, that's the only option artists have left.
However, Braun basically said in his interview, superstars like Swift should think very carefully before urging her fanbase to join the battle.
"I can handle it pretty easily", he told Halperin of all the public dissing, but the wider Big Machine team shouldn't also have to suffer. "When it gets to a place where there's death threats and there's offices being called and people being threatened it's gotten out of hand. And I think people need to come together and have a conversation, because that's not what we got in[to] this industry for".
Latest round of radio royalty proposals launched in Washington
US copyright law is unusual in that it doesn't provide full performing rights for sound recordings. Which means that, whereas AM/FM radio stations must pay royalties to songwriters and publishers, they do not need to pay anything to artists and labels. There is, however, a digital performance right as part of the sound recording copyright, so that online and satellite stations do pay, usually via collecting society SoundExchange.
The record industry has been trying to get at least broadcast rights for sound recordings for decades, most recently via the aforementioned Fair Play Fair Pay Act. However, it was decided not to include radio royalties for artists and labels in last year's Music Modernization Act, because it was thought doing so would scupper the whole thing, preventing other important copyright law reforms from going through.
The radio industry is a powerful lobby in Washington and would have almost certainly pushed to have the whole MMA abandoned if radio royalties had been included.
As it is, the radio sector's supporters in Congress earlier this year backed the latest version of what is called the Local Radio Freedom Act. That is an entirely pointless piece of proposed legislation which would basically seek to keep copyright law exactly as it currently is. So, it's a "change nothing" act.
The all-new AM-FM Act has been brought to Congress by the same backers as the good old Fair Play Fair Pay Act: Republican Marsha Blackburn in the Senate and Democrat Jerrold Nadler in the House Of Representatives.
The latter said in a statement: "The United States in an outlier in the world for not requiring broadcast radio to pay artists when playing their music, while requiring satellite and internet radio to pay. This is unfair to both artists and music providers".
"I'm proud to sponsor the Ask Musicians For Music Act of 2019", he went on, "which would give artists and copyright owners the right to make a choice to allow AM/FM radio to use their work for free or to seek compensation for their work. The bill would also allow them to negotiate rates with broadcasters in exchange for permission for it to be aired. This is what music creators want and deserve".
Needless to say, this latest attempt at getting a radio royalty for artists and labels was welcomed by trade groups across the record industry. And by collecting society SoundExchange, which recently tried to get radio royalties back on the post-MMA agenda via an opinion-editorial piece in Variety.
Its boss Michael Huppe said of the new legislative proposals: "The AM-FM Act ensures that the people who make the music have a protected property right in their own work by requiring broadcasters to get permission before they transmit recordings over the air. It sets the table for meaningful marketplace negotiations and ends the current market distortion in our laws that forces artists to subsidise the multi-billion-dollar FM radio broadcast industry".
However, confirming that the music industry would face the same battle in Washington this time as with every previous attempt to get radio royalties for recordings, the National Association Of Broadcasters said: "[We oppose] the AM-FM Act, which could decimate the economics of America's hometown radio stations that have launched the careers of countless musicians and exposed legacy artists to a new generation of listeners".
The radio industry group added that its "door remains open to work with the record labels to find a holistic solution to this issue that reflects the enduring value to artists and labels of local radio to our hundreds of millions of terrestrial and digital listeners. Unfortunately, the record labels have shown little interest in having those discussions".
For a wider discussion about the US radio royalties debate, check this recent edition of our Setlist podcast.
Collecting societies back Music At Work Week
Still, imagine having to work somewhere that doesn't allow you to play music in the office. Music At Work Week - which is next week, by the way - has been set up to promote the benefit of having a musical background in the work place.
It's being spearheaded by Julia Jones who earlier this year published a book called 'The Music Diet' which, she says, "provides a simple overview of key music neuroscience principles, demonstrating how music produces significant positive effects on the brain and body, especially when consumed regularly".
Explaining the rationale behind the Music At Work Week initiative, she adds: "People need to know that consuming a little music each day, at home and/or at work, can improve their life. This isn't a fantasy, it's fact. Thanks to scientific research we know music triggers important feel good brain chemicals".
As well as encouraging employers to have some music playing in their workplaces next week (fully licensed, obviously), there will be other activities happening in Music At Work Week. That includes musicians and choirs visiting various places of work and a Battle Of The Office Bands competition being run in partnership with advertising and marketing industry magazine The Drum.
Supporting all this, PRS boss Andrea C Martin says: "Study after study has shown how the right music can benefit the workplace - from the office to the factory floor, music improves staff morale and can boost productivity. With our colleagues across the industry, we support Music At Work Week and hope more businesses will discover the benefits music can bring".
Meanwhile at PPL, CEO Peter Leathem adds: "The level of understanding around how our brains respond to music is increasing all the time. Back in 1940s, the BBC introduced the highly popular 'Music While You Work' programme in order to increase productivity in factories during the war and the show went on to run for over a quarter of a century. Music At Work Week is a positive initiative, which allows for businesses and individuals to explore the potential benefits of listening to music as they go about their working day".
AEG signs up American Express to sponsor Hyde Park shows
Yeah, good news for fans of credit card sponsorship! Barclaycard may no longer be associated with the annual series of concerts in London's Hyde Park, but American Express has been lined up as the event's new "presenting partner".
"American Express is a valued partner of ours", says Paul Samuels, EVP of AEG Global Partnerships, "and I'm THRILLED that the success of our relationship has expanded to the new signing of our flagship festival. They offer card members and fans access to the very best events and the addition of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park will further connect fans to unforgettable live AEG experiences".
Adds Brandy Sanders over there at super cool and definitely not big bad American Express: "We're excited to bring American Express Experiences to the heart of London culture this summer, adding BST Hyde Park as a partner. From first access to the hottest tickets, to truly unforgettable experiences, we enhance the moments that bring our cardmembers closer to the music and artists they love".
AEG had to remove Barclaycard and British Summer Time branding from the Neil Young day of their concert series this year after the musician said he was unaware the show would be sponsored by a fossil fuel financing bank when he originally agreed to play. "That doesn't work for me", he declared as soon as he became aware that the Barclaycard British Summer Time programme was sponsored by, well, Barclaycard. That's what that whole thing at the start of this article was about.
PRS Foundation revamps fund for behind-the-scenes music makers
The charity says: "At a time where it is becoming harder for up and coming behind the scenes creatives to earn sufficient funds to forge a sustainable career in the music business, PRS Foundation's Hitmaker fund serves to address the need to support these creators who are the bedrock of the modern music industry".
The revamped scheme will have a streamlined application process and will also operate an online network that, the Foundation says, is "designed to connect talent and encourage collaboration".
It's open to songwriters and producers who have had at least three commercially exploited works, and funding received can be used on a variety of things, including studio hire, equipment purchases, professional development, training, international profile building or, simply, having the time to create.
Says PRS Foundation boss Joe Frankland: "The success of The Writer Producer Fund has shown the creative and career impact of significant support for those working behind the scenes. This new and improved Hitmaker Fund will build upon this foundation and connect more music creators to fast-track long-term careers. I'm looking forward to seeing who applies and how the support will impact their career".
Following Universal fire revelations, DJ Shadow laments the record industry's attitude to master tapes
In an interview with Billboard, he was asked about the impact the 2008 fire had had on his archive recordings. It seems he was only affected in a very minor way, but he is nevertheless concerned about how much archive material is routinely lost across the industry.
That 2008 fire has been big news this year, of course, because of a New York Times article which claimed that many more masters were lost in the blaze than originally admitted by the major at the time. Litigation has followed that article with some of the artists who now know that they lost assets in the fire suing for a share of the insurance pay-out and damages payment Universal secured a decade ago.
DJ Shadow was one of the artists that the New York Times alleged was affected by the fire. Asked if he was aware of that prior to the article's publication, or if the major had been in touch since, he replies: "No, they didn't reach out to me. A friend of mine sent me the article. It was so, sort of shocking".
"Supposedly the only thing that was lost was a safety of a video", he reveals later in the interview. "I was initially concerned because I recorded my 2002 album mostly in LA and we recorded to two-inch reels. And I know I don't have those. I could have easily imagined them going from Larrabee West Studio right to [Universal's storage in Hollywood] ... because I was on [Universal label] MCA at the time ... so I was a little bit concerned, because I didn't know where those were housed. And that would have been a blow, because it would have meant I would never be able to remix that album".
Since the New York Times article was published Universal has gone to great lengths to both deny much of what the newspaper reported and also to big up how much work it does to log, protect and secure all the tapes and videos in its archive. While not specifically commenting on Universal's work in this domain, Shadow has lots to say about the music industry's wider approach to storing all its old tapes and recordings.
Referencing the friend who had alerted him to the NYT article, he says: "This particular friend is probably my best friend and also the smartest person I know when it comes to talking about music. One of the things we talk about all the time is the horrific waste and lack of accountability when it comes to master archiving".
He then talks about an earlier fire at an MTV building. "We talk all the time", he goes on, "about the infinite number of hours of interviews that MTV collected, and the fire that happened there and how much was lost. And just like, where is that stuff? Why can't we watch it? To me, it's so irresponsible". When discussing such things, he says, the aforementioned friend will say "and it continues to this day"
It's not just the occasional fire that's the problem, Shadow adds. There's the fact that masters are often randomly stored and moved around. "You'll see an eBay listing pop up like 'all the VJ masters' and you're like 'what is happening?' It's crazy".
"I've seen all kinds of stuff", he goes on. "Without going into detail, I've seen entire DAT closets just... someone gets fired, and they're loading up their duffel bag like 'fuck you guys'. And it's like... well, that sucks. That's really shitty. Why is there no lock on that door? But, that's the biz".
Stormzy has released new Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy collaboration 'Own It'. The track is the latest single from the rapper's new album, 'Heavy Is The Head', which is out on 13 Dec.
U2 have released a new collaboration with AR Rahman, 'Ahmisa', ahead of the band's first ever live performance in India next month.
Gorillaz will release new documentary 'Reject False Icons' in cinemas on 16 Dec for one night only. Tickets go on sale next Friday. Info here.
Selena Gomez has announced that she will release her new album on 10 Jan. Its title is still to be announced.
Bon Iver have released their first music video since 'Beth/Rest' in 2011. What song receives the honour? 'Naeem', from latest album 'I, I'.
Courtney Love has released new solo track 'Mother', taken from the soundtrack of new film 'The Turning'.
Yizzy and Dizzie Rascal have released the video for their single 'Back It'.
Paul McCartney has released two new songs, 'Home Tonight' and 'In A Hurry', both of which are outtakes from his 'Egypt Station' album. They'll be available on seven-inch in the US for Record Store Day's Black Friday 'event'.
Ozzy Osbourne has released new single 'Straight To Hell'. Sample lyric: "I'll make you scream, I'll make you defecate huh-huh ha ha ha ha ha".
The 1975 have released the video for 'Frail State Of Mind'.
Kesha has released new single 'My Own Dance', taken from her new album 'High Road', which is out on 10 Jan.
Blossoms have released new single 'The Keeper', taken from their new album 'Foolish Loving Spaces', which is out on 31 Jan.
Marilyn Manson has released a cover of The Doors' 'The End'. So that's a thing that exists now.
Teasers, trailers, lyric videos, visualisers, short films, there are many different iterations of the online music video. What about just splitting a video in two though? You didn't think of that, did you? Unless you're Kano, in which case you did. Here's the 'Can't Hold We Down' video part one and the 'Can't Hold We Down' video part two.
The National have released new mini-documentary 'Juicy Sonic Magic', supporting a new live cassette boxset, which will be available next week in the US as part of the whole Record Store Day Black Friday thing.
Rina Sawayama has released new single 'STFU!' She's also announced her signing to the Dirty Hit label.
Róisín Murphy has released the video for new single 'Narcissus'.
Tuvaband has released new single 'Ambiguous Flies'. "I wanted a more distorted sound, and live, my band and I really tried to push the boundaries from my released music by moving from stripped down and vulnerable, to trying to sound like a punk rock band", she says.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Neil Young quits Facebook over social network's funding of right-wing organisation
In a post on his website last month, Young said that he was considering leaving the social network after it said that it would not ensure that political advertising was free from lies. Although he noted that doing so would mean "we would lose communications with millions". However, after it emerged that Facebook had sponsored an event held by the Federalist Society, he decided that it was a hit worth taking.
"Facebook is facing criticism for sponsoring the annual gala of the Federalist Society, the powerful right-wing organisation behind the nomination of the conservative supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh", he wrote in a new post on his Neil Young Archives website. "This turn of events, in addition to the false information regularly supplied to the public on Facebook, with its knowledge, has caused us to re-evaluate and change our use policy".
He continued: "I don't feel that a social site should be making obvious commitments to one side of politics or the other. It further confuses readers regarding truthfulness in coverage and message. NYA [is] no longer interested in further links with Facebook [and] will be discontinuing [its] use".
Earlier this month, Young announced that his application to become a US citizen was being delayed, apparently due to his marijuana use. The Canadian-born musician has said that he wants to gain US citizenship now - having lived in the country for decades - in order to vote in the upcoming presidential election.