|FRIDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Anti-touting campaigners FanFair and consumer rights group Which? have both called on the UK competition regulator to investigate Viagogo's proposed $4 billion acquisition of its secondary ticketing rival StubHub, which was announced earlier this week... [READ MORE]|
Campaigners call on UK competition regulator to investigate Viagogo's StubHub deal
A key motivation for Viagogo in doing the deal is likely that it will give the company a significant stake of the American ticket resale market. While politicians and regulators have started to much more closely scrutinise secondary ticketing in many key European markets - and Australia and New Zealand - where Viagogo is dominant, this has not really happened Stateside. Yet. Although ticketing in general is now under the spotlight in Washington.
Meanwhile, from a UK perspective, the deal gives Viagogo a near monopoly in the for-profit ticket resale domain here, Live Nation having shut down its resale platforms last year as regulator scrutiny and demands increased. It also means that the platform that voluntarily complied with those regulator demands - ie StubHub - will now be owned by the company that only fell in line at the very last minute once the matter was in the courts.
However, in an interview with Radio 4's 'You & Yours' earlier this week, Viagogo's Cris Miller argued that even a combined Viagogo/StubHub would still be operating in a very competitive market place. Though that was on the basis that the touting platform competes with primary ticket sellers like Ticketmaster and See Tickets, and the face value ticket resale platforms, both standalone and those operated by the primary sites.
In a letter to the Competition & Markets Authority urging the regulator to investigate the StubHub deal, FanFair argues that comparing Viagogo/StubHub to primary sellers and face value resale platforms is misleading. In particular it urges the CMA to distinguish between those resale sites employed by industrial level touts and those that are exclusively used by consumers who need to sell on a ticket for a show they can no longer attend.
FanFair refers to these two groups respectively as B2C platforms and C2C platforms. It then explains how in the UK, unlike the US, "there has been a dramatic expansion in the provision of C2C ticket resale services".
It adds: "These include standalone resale services such as Twickets, a range of capped resale services operated by primary ticketing agents including See Tickets, Eventim, AXS, Resident Advisor, Ticketmaster and Ticketline, and mobile-only services such as Dice. The UK now hosts more consumer-friendly ticket resale services than any country in the world".
Crucially, "the dynamics of this C2C sector are vastly different from [B2C]: they are for consumers only, users can only resell for the price they paid or less, and on some services users can reallocate tickets for free. Otherwise, buyers are typically charged a fee of between 10-15% of the sale price. Even within these constraints, there is competition developing within the market".
Although it acknowledges that there are some other much smaller B2C sites still operating here, FanFair goes on: "The closure of [Live Nation's] Get Me In! and Seatwave means there are currently only two significant B2C secondary platforms operating in the UK: StubHub and Viagogo. A merger of the two, would potentially leave a single market-dominant platform. There would be no competition".
And while touts selling tickets on that combined platform would still compete with each other - something Miller was also keen to talk up earlier this week - when it comes to the already substantial fees the resale sites charge and the quality of the customer service offered when sales go wrong, less competition in the market could well see the former go up while the latter goes down.
With that in mind, FanFair quotes what US ticketing consultant Dave Wakeman told BBC Radio 5 Live earlier this week: "When consolidation of this nature happens in any industry, typically it's bad for customers. Knowing Viagogo's track record though, I would say that this has potential to be even worse ... because they have a record of not being friendly to consumers. If customers are complaining about fees or a lack of transparency now, that's likely to become an even bigger issue".
Responding to concerns expressed about its StubHub buy, a spokesperson for Viagogo told The Guardian: "Viagogo expects the market regulator to look at this deal as they would with any deal of this size and we will be working with them collaboratively on that as required".
TikTok looks to boost US operation to allay regulator concerns
It recently emerged that the American government's Committee On Foreign Investment In The United States - or CFIUS - is investigating ByteDance's 2017 acquisition of lip syncing music app Musical.ly, a deal which helped TikTok's rapid expansion globally.
Musical.ly was a Chinese company too, but - after becoming particularly popular in the US - it also set up a base in California. After the Musical.ly and TikTok apps were merged, American politicians started to raise some concerns about where data associated with US users was being stored, and also over whether or not the Chinese company censored content on the TikTok platform that might be politically sensitive in its home country.
Responding to those concerned politicians Stateside, ByteDance insists that TikTok is run separately to the equivalent service that operates within China, which goes by the name Douyin, and therefore content shared on the platform is not within the jurisdiction of Chinese law. It adds that American user data is stored in the US, with a back-up in Singapore.
However, according to Reuters, the Chinese firm is busy putting ever more distance between its TikTok division and the rest of the company, including Douyin, in a bid to allay the ongoing concerns in Washington.
In fact, that process had begun even before the CFIUS came knocking last month. For example, over the summer standalone product, legal, marketing and business development teams were set up for TikTok, separate from those performing the same tasks for Douyin.
But those efforts are ongoing. In particular the company is seeking to grow its team of developers within the US, so it is less reliant on its Chinese staff, while also setting up a new team in its California office to oversee data management. That team would decide what data the company's Chinese employees should have access to and monitor what they then do with it.
Reps for CFIUS declined to comment on the latest Reuters report, though Nevena Simidjiyska at law firm Fox Rothschild LLP, who has expertise on how the committee works, told the newswire: "Shifting a company's operations away from China, geographically and technically, can give CFIUS more comfort that the company is really independent of its Chinese owner and the Chinese government".
Quidem confirms its Midland's stations will relaunch as Capital FM
Doing so will alter the output on those radio stations, which needed approval from media regulator OfCom. That approval was given earlier this month, with OfCom announcing that it had given the all-clear for Quidem's plans to switch its stations to "a rhythmic-based music-led service for 15-29 year olds supplemented with news, information and entertainment". Which sounded very much like Capital FM.
Earlier this week the Twitter feeds of Quidem's stations confirmed this by stating: "From Monday, [we] will be becoming Capital; The UK's No 1 Hit Music Station! Join Capital Breakfast with Roman Kemp and Ollie & Si on Drive to hear the biggest hits, all day long from the world's hottest stars. Our new home will be @CapitalOfficial"
Following that announcement, a spokesperson for Global told RadioToday: "Global has entered into a brand licensing agreement with Quidem Group, which owns Touch FM, Banbury Sound and Rugby FM. From 6am on Monday these stations will rebrand as Capital. This brand licence is an exciting opportunity for Capital and we look forward to welcoming new listeners across the Midlands".
It's not the first time Global has extended the reach of its quasi-national radio networks by doing licensing deals with a rival radio company. Irish media firm Communicorp utilises Global brands Capital, Heart and Smooth on a number of the UK FM frequencies that it controls.
This networking of programmes even between rival broadcasters demonstrates the challenges for the local radio industry that needs to keep its operating costs to the minimum as it increasingly competes with online services for both audience and advertisers.
JME releases new album on physical formats only
The rapper's fourth album - his first since 2015's 'Integrity' - features guests including Skepta, Wiley, P Money and Giggs. Production comes from the likes of Preditah, Tre Mission and JME himself. But you'll only be able hear any of this by getting hold of a copy of it on CD or vinyl. And possibly the technology to play such a thing.
It's not clear if the record will eventually make it onto digital services, but JME has previously indicated that he feels his latest music will be more highly valued if he keeps it off the internet. Rather than promote the album with videos pumped out through YouTube, he previewed his new material earlier this year with a series of free events in cinemas around the country.
Even photos snapped with fans at those events were strictly taken on a Polaroid camera rather than on phones. Meanwhile the rapper himself hasn't touch his social media accounts since last year. 'Don't @ Me', indeed.
"I want people to care", he said at one of those promotional events, as Dummy reported in July. So it seems JME's overall aim is to limit his audience to those with more than a passing interest. You could call it a gimmick or an experiment, but it is interesting to see any artist promoting an album like it's 1992.
There is one concession to the internet ban. With the album only available in UK record shops - including a special picture disc vinyl edition for independent record stores - international fans can buy the CD version online through the Boy Better Know website.
If you're sneakily sitting there in the UK thinking that sounds a lot easier than plodding down to a record shop, he's thought of that. While international shipping is free, if you enter a delivery address in the UK an extra £1000 will be added to your order total.
There is an additional incentive to head down to a record shop in the next few days though - JME will be appearing in various stores around the country to perform, meet fans and sign copies of 'Grime MC', starting tonight at Banquet Records in Kingston-Upon-Thames. Maybe you can even get your own Polaroid. Dates here:
29 Nov: Banquet Records, Kingston-Upon-Thames
Five Seconds Of Summer announce 2020 UK tour
"We are so excited to bring the 'No Shame' tour to the UK in 2020", they screech. "The new album is almost ready and we cannot wait for people to hear it. We truly believe these new songs capture the DNA of this band but also represent a new era for Five Seconds Of Summer".
You hear that? A new album! And they've got a new era coming too. It's all go! Anyway, here are those all-important dates:
11 May: Dublin, 3Arena
IMPALA awards Music Declares Emergency
The launch of MDE in July saw an assortment of companies and artists from all across the UK music community come together to join other campaign groups which had formally declared a climate and ecological emergency. The initiative has since been very vocal in calling for greater government action on climate change, while also pushing the wider music industry to become "ecologically sustainable and regenerative".
Since then musicians from Radiohead to Billie Eilish have lent their support, with over 1250 artists, more than 600 companies and organisations, and over 500 individual music industry professionals and music fans now formally signed up.
"This movement seizes the power of the music sector to take action and inspire change", says IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith. "It is important to join forces and to encourage collective action for climate. IMPALA's award recognises the unique role this project plays in the call for emergency action to protect the future of our planet".
A spokesperson for Music Declares Emergency adds: "The response of the UK music industry, and others outside of the UK to our declaration has been overwhelming and extremely encouraging. We believe that music can change cultures and be a positive force. It is urgent to understand the gravity of the climate crisis".
"It is our responsibility to call on government and to act", they continue. "Our ambition is to accelerate collaboration to have a real impact on these critical targets, now. We all need to play our part in combating the climate crisis and to receive European recognition from IMPALA is a moment of real importance for Music Declares Emergency".
Hey, Kanye West has released the video for 'Closed On Sunday', if you fancy seeing him and his family huddled on a mountainside.
Grimes has released another new track from her upcoming 'Miss Anthropocene' album. Here's 'My Name Is Dark'.
Bombay Bicycle Club has released new single 'Everything Else Has Gone Wrong'. Their new album of the same name is out on 17 Jan.
Terrorvision have released a Christmas song, called 'Our Christmas Song'. So that's nice. They say that the song is "a festive present to the fans and anyone else with a love of the heady days of pop music, when the Christmas number one mattered and the main event on Christmas day was settling down to watch 'Top Of The Pops' with the last few segments of your chocolate orange, washed down with a cheeky swig of your gran's Snowball". Sorry guys, all those people are dead now.
GIGS & TOURS
Haai has announced that she will play an all-nighter at London's Village Underground on 14 Mar next year. "I'm so psyched to play all night long at Village Underground", she says. "I really adore playing extended sets and can't wait to get fuckin weird with everyone for six hours". The DJ and producer's new EP, 'Systems Up, Windows Down, is out now digitally, with vinyl to follow on 14 Feb.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Shania Twain has written songs for Post Malone, Lizzo and Janelle Monáe (now she just needs to tell them)
Appearing on 'The Talk' - America's version of 'Loose Women' - Twain revealed that she has penned a duet for her and Post Malone to perform together. "I've written a song for us already", she said. "He doesn't know it yet. He knows now. So Post, I have a song for us".
Scoring a collaboration with the rapper this way might seem like a longshot, but Post Malone is apparently a "super fan" of Twain. He has said in the past that he listens to her music before he goes on stage. In fact, here he is at the American Music Awards last week showing exactly how much of a fan he is during her performance at the show.
If that collaboration doesn't work out for whatever reason, it's alright, she has more ready to go. How about Shania Twain, Janelle Monáe and Lizzo all together on a track? That could happen. Though again, she hasn't actually gone so far as to ask them.
"There is a really cool friendship starting between us, and after I met those ladies ... I was very inspired after that", she said. "I went home and I actually wrote a song for the three of us. It's called 'Sisters'. I think we are all sisters in what we do, and it was a really great, new friendship that we started. So I went home and wrote that song. They don't know about it yet".
It kind of makes you wonder how many other songs Twain has written for other artists that she's never told them about. Diplo, maybe? No? But it turns out that it works both ways and he has a secret collaboration of his own.
Back at the AMAs, Twain was slightly randomly pulled into a red carpet interview with Diplo. When Entertainment Tonight's presenter suggested that the producer do a remix of 'That Don't Impress Me Much', he replied: "I already did a remix, I play it every night. I have a remix of that song already".
When Twain insisted that he let her hear it, he agreed adding, "We'll do something new too". So it sounds like we could have a lot of Shania Twain collaborations on the cards. So long as she remembers to actually speak to anyone about them.