|MONDAY 16 DECEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: In the middle of all the hoo haa that followed the UK's general election last week, the country's Competition & Markets Authority confirmed on Friday that it will investigate Viagogo's planned acquisition of eBay's StubHub... [READ MORE]|
UK competition regulator announces investigation into Viagogo's StubHub buy
Secondary ticketing company Viagogo announced its plan to buy rival StubHub in a $4 billion deal last month. Among other things, it will give the former a significant stake in the US market, where ticket touting in the main continues to be less controversial and therefore less subject to new regulation.
It also means that Viagogo boss Eric Baker will be back in charge of the StubHub company he co-founded, but which he left in 2016 prior to its purchase by eBay. After leaving StubHub, Baker relocated to Europe to set up a rival platform. Since then, StubHub has always dominated in the US, while Viagogo has the edge in various other markets.
In the UK, a combined Viagogo/StubHub will be an incredibly dominant player in the secondary ticketing sector, Live Nation having shut down its resale platforms in Europe last year amid mounting criticism about online touting from within the music and political communities.
When asked about that by the BBC last month, Viagogo's Cris Miller argued that both his company and StubHub also compete with primary ticket sellers and the face-value resale sites that have become more popular in the UK in recent years.
However, critics reject that argument, countering that the Viagogo/StubHub business is very different to that of primary and face-value resale sites. And while there are some other much smaller for-profit touting sites operating in the UK, the combined Viagogo/StubHub would totally dominate, meaning fees could well go up as customer service quality falls.
Anti-touting campaigners have also pointed out that, as a result of the deal, the resale site that reluctantly accepted CMA demands to fall in line with UK consumer rights law will now be run by the company that resisted until it faced contempt of court proceedings.
The music community's FanFair campaign recently called for the CMA to investigate the Viagogo/StubHub deal. It raised an assorted of concerns in a letter to the regulator, and concluded: "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".
The CMA confirmed that it was investigating the deal via a template statement on Friday. It said: "The CMA is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction, if carried into effect, will result in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002".
"And if so", it went on, "whether the creation of that situation may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services. To assist it with this assessment, the CMA invites comments on the transaction from any interested party".
Interested parties now have until 10 Jan to make their submissions, after which the CMA will decide whether to approve the deal or instigate a more detailed investigation.
Live Nation's share price tumbles amid reports of competition regulator lawsuit in the US
Those allegations mainly relate to the so called consent decree that Live Nation agreed with the DoJ when it bought Ticketmaster back in 2010. That consent decree sought to stop Live Nation/Ticketmaster from leveraging its concert promotions business to secure competitive advantage for its ticketing business, or vice versa.
Live Nation has been accused, mainly by its rivals, of breaking the terms of that consent decree at various points. It all became a much bigger talking point last year after the New York Times published an article summarising all the criticism. And it's come up again more recently during conversations about the wider ticketing business among political types in Washington.
The live music firm has always denied any wrong-doing. Back in September its boss, Michael Rapino, spoke about all the criticism during a Goldman Sachs organised conference. He insisted that his company's critics misunderstand the DoJ agreement.
"I negotiated it and it's very simple", he said. "It says we can't threaten venues. We can't say to a Ticketmaster venue that says they want to use a different ticketing platform, 'If you do that, we won't put shows in your building'".
However, he went on, "it also says [that] we can do what's right for our business, so we have to put the show where we make the most economics, and maybe that venue [that wants to use a different ticketing platform] won't be the best economic place anymore because we don't hold the revenue".
Nevertheless, the criticism continues. And sources have told the WSJ that certain DoJ officials now also believe that the consent decree may have been breached. Hence the talk of legal action.
That consent decree is actually due to expire next year. So one of the things that the DoJ will reportedly ask a judge for is an extension. Whether any other sanctions will be sought remains unclear.
According to Billboard, this is all complicated further by yet another planned Live Nation acquisition, this time of a rival ticketing company called, well, Rival. The LA-based primary ticketing and technology company was launched last year by former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard and is seemingly in talks to sell itself to its founder's former employer.
Billboard's sources say that the DoJ is also investigating that deal, partly because of a complaint by SeatGeek, which is also reportedly interested in bidding for Rival.
So, that's all rather complicated isn't it? Neither the DoJ nor Live Nation have formally commented on the former's planned legal action.
Meanwhile some US lawyers are already fishing around for a possible investor lawsuit following Friday's share price tumble, based on the allegation Live Nation issued "materially misleading business information" regarding the allegations of anticompetitive conduct.
So fun times all round.
Jimi Hendrix companies ally with Sony on merchandise
The agreement is with the Authentic Hendrix LLC and Experience Hendrix LLC companies, and expands the estate's existing partnership with Sony. The deal, the official announcement declares, "marks the first time Hendrix's legendary music, audio-visual releases, and authorised merchandise will be available in one place".
Janie Hendrix, the late guitarist's adopted sister, who heads up the estate's two companies, adds: "It was a natural progression for us, really, and what you could call organic. We placed Jimi in good hands with Sony Music, so we are more than comfortable with expanding our relationship to merchandise".
"Jimi's persona encompassed more than music", she goes on. "He had a sense of style that we want to continue to present to the world, boldly and vividly. We're confident The Thread Shop will carry out the next level concepts we envision. With the list of artistic greats the Thread Shop represents, Jimi will be at home among giants".
Confirming the deal for its side, The Thread Shop's boss Howard Lau says: "We are incredibly excited and proud to be working with Janie and her team on Jimi's merchandise. With such a legendary and timeless artist, we will honour Jimi and his music with tremendous respect and enthusiasm that will result in amazing merch that honours his legacy".
The new deal around the Hendrix brand follows a recent legal settlement between the estate and Andrew Pitsicalis, who had an alliance with Hendrix's brother Leon, and who had been exploiting that brand on various alcohol and marijuana products.
In that settlement Pitsicalis admitted that his business ventures with Leon infringed an assortment of trademarks and copyrights controlled by Experience Hendrix LLC, as well as Jimi Hendrix's publicity rights in those US states where such rights exist posthumously.
Billboard to add video streams to album chart for some reason
Yes, the albums chart. And we're not talking about Beyonce-style visual albums here. From 3 Jan, plays of individual videos on Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal, and even YouTube and Vevo, will be counted towards the tally for the album on which the original track appears within the Billboard 200 albums chart. Even though video plays are between zero and absolutely no indication of an album's popularity.
YouTube plays were incorporated into the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 2013, where it kind of makes sense (given that Billboard was already counting radio play, as well as sales and audio-streams, as an indicator of popularity). Though while even user-generated content that features music on YouTube has an impact on the US singles chart, for the album chart only official uploads will be counted.
"As the steward of the definitive charts that uphold the industry's measurement of music consumption, our goal is to continually respond and accurately reflect the changing landscape of the music", says the President of the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, Deanna Brown. "Our decision to add YouTube and other video streaming data to our album charts reflects the continuing evolution of the music consumption market and the ways in which consumers connect to album-related content".
The company's SVP Charts & Data Development, Silvio Pietroluongo, adds that "with video representing an increasingly large proportion of music consumption on some of the world's largest platforms, the inclusion of YouTube and video overall to the Billboard 200 as well as other genre rankings is the next natural advancement for our album charts".
Is it though? Trying to mash together individual track plays in order to imagine how successful an album might be is already pretty confusing. Adding in cursory viewings of pop promo videos seems like a step too far. But not everyone thinks this latest development is silly. Albeit mainly Lyor Cohen of off the YouTubes. He thinks the new rule is great and will see some genres receive a boost in recognition of their popularity.
"[This is a] very important moment in making the chart a more accurate representation of what people are listening to", says Cohen. "Genres like Latin, hip hop and electronic, which consistently dominate the YouTube charts, will now be properly recognised for their popularity. This is another great step in bringing YouTube and the industry together and we're so grateful to Billboard and the music business at large for making this addition".
Billboard also reckons country music will have better representation in the album chart as a result. Though whether or not the popularity of each artist's album will really be recognised - rather than an album chart placing instead suggesting said artist had one track or video that went viral - is something you can just go and debate with yourself all afternoon.
Chart counters around the world have struggled to combine sales and streaming data together satisfactorily. Currently they're all still in the rule-tweaking stage, having not yet accepted that there's no point and that the best way to "continually respond and accurately reflect the changing landscape of the music" is to just move on from the old world idea of weekly music charts.
CMU Insights to offer copyright and marketing training as webinars in 2020
Each series consists of three two-hour sessions. The music rights programme provides a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide to copyright law, the different music rights, the ins and outs of music licensing, and the different ways that artists, songwriters, labels and publishers generate revenue around their intellectual property.
The marketing programme provides a beginner's guide to music marketing and fanbase building. It looks at all the different elements of the modern music marketing toolkit, and how artists and their business partners employ them. It then puts the spotlight on social and digital tools, and then music media and music PR campaigns.
CMU's Chris Cooke says: "We are always getting emails and calls from people outside of London - and outside of the UK - asking how they can access our seminars. We already run webinars for some of training clients, like BPI and MMF, but have never made our own seminars available in this way. That seemed like an oversight we really ought to do something about. Hence our first CMU webinar series in 2020".
The live webinars will take place on Monday evenings in February and March at 6.30pm UK time. Tickets are already available at early bird rates. Click here for more info on the copyright webinars, and click here for more info on the marketing sessions.
Tickets have also gone on sale for the next edition of the CMU Insights masterclass 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar'. This one will be delivered in person in London (with a webinar edition to follow). It provides a concise overview of the streaming market and explains, in detail, the complexities around how digital services are licensed by the music industry and how royalties are calculated and paid each month.
Tickets are currently available at the early bird rate of £80 plus VAT. Click here to get more information and book your places.
John Frusciante rejoins Red Hot Chili Peppers
In a post on Instagram, the band said: "The Red Hot Chili Peppers announce that we are parting ways with our guitarist of ten years, Josh Klinghoffer. Josh is a beautiful musician who we respect and love. We are deeply grateful for our time together with him, and the countless gifts he has shared with us. We also announce with great excitement and full hearts that John Frusciante is rejoining our group".
Frusciante originally joined RHCP in 1988, aged eighteen, first appearing on their fourth album, 'Mother's Milk', the following year. He then played on arguably the band's defining album, 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik', which became a massive hit in 1991. Struggling with fame, he quit the band in 1992, releasing more experimental solo work and largely staying out of the public eye.
His subsequent return to the band in 1998 marked another period of massive success, with the release of their 'Californication' album in 1999, followed by 'By The Way' in 2002. He also played on 2006's 'Stadium Arcadium', before quitting the band again in 2009.
Since then, he has worked on a number of collaborative and solo projects, including two acid house albums under the name Trickfinger.
Although the band have been through at least nine guitarists in their time, Frusciante is seen by many as the quintessential RHCP guitar player, so his latest return to the group will be big news for fans.
Kobalt has signed Australian singer-songwriter Dean Lewis to a new worldwide publishing deal. "Kobalt has been such a massive supporter of mine since the very start", says Lewis. "From the early syncs on 'Waves', the team has been so instrumental in helping get my music out to the world".
TikTok owner ByteDance has hired Tracy Gardner as Head Of Label Licensing. She comes over from Warner Music Group, following fellow ex-Warner exec Ole Obermann, who was confirmed as the Chinese company's Global Head Of Music last week.
LadBaby has taken the early lead in the race for Christmas number one, according the Official Charts Company, trailed by Stormzy, Wham and Ellie Goulding. "LadBaby's latest sausage song is a genuine banger", says the OCC's Martin Talbot. BANGER!
The latest edition of the BBC's 'The Next Episode' podcast features a mix from Four Tet in which he has included "100 voices from young people across the UK" reacting to last week's General Election result.
Dua Lipa has released the title track from her upcoming album 'Future Nostalgia'. "I wrote this one with Jeff Bhasker and Coffee one afternoon in LA", she says. "It's all playful and fun and not taking ourselves too seriously but we loved it so much we wanted to share it with you".
Grimes has released new track '4ÆM', which will feature on the soundtrack of new video game 'Cyperpunk 2077', as well as her upcoming new album 'Miss Anthropocene'.
Best Coast have released a cover of The Beach Boys' 'Little Saint Nick'. "Being from California and being heavily influenced by The Beach Boys, we had to cover this one", says band leader Bethany Cosentino. "It's also always fun for me to cover a song with a wall of harmonies and background vocals because it's my favourite part about recording vocals".
Coheed & Cambria have released a festive single in the form of 'Toys', from their latest album 'The Unheavenly Creatures'.
Gabrielle Aplin has released new single 'Magic'. She says: "'Magic' is about appreciating that one person in your life who makes the mundane everyday life stuff magical. It's about how no one else has to see that magic. And it's about giving the finger to that constant pressure to be defining our relationships online".
Tommy Cash has released new single 'Sdubid'.
Perfume have released new single 'Saisai', which is taken from the soundtrack of new film 'Shijinso No Satsujin'.
GIGS & TOURS
Taylor Swift is going to headline the last night of Glastonbury next year. The booking is not playing that well with her core fanbase. She'll also play British Summer Time in Hyde Park two weeks later.
Harry Styles has announced that he will play a launch show for his new album, 'Fine Lines', at a secret London location on Thursday. You need to pre-order said album from his website by 3pm tomorrow to be in with a chance of buying tickets.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ja Rule raps about Fyre Festival on new track
Co-founder Billy McFarland went to jail for fraud after the Fyre Festival and its accompanying businesses collapsed. But Ja Rule was never linked to the criminal case, and subsequently managed to get his name removed from a $100 million class action lawsuit launched by aggrieved ticket buyers.
That leaves him free to talk about what happened (and how much or little he knew about what was going on behind the scenes) unencumbered. And that now also includes in his music, having released new single 'For Your Real Entertainment (FYRE)'.
The track references that lawsuit, among other scrapes with the legal system, with lyrics like, "The fest, the fest, the festival is on fire/We don't need no water, make that motherfucker hotter/Hotter than the sun, but it wasn't that/How bout a show of hands if you got your money back/Just playing, I got sued for that/100 mil to be exact".
"I know you lack empathy for the one that's me/But I too was hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray", he adds in one of the track's more linguistically torturous lines.
I'd say this was intended to be his final word on this matter, but I can't imagine he's going to stop talking about Fyre Festival any time soon. At least while it's still getting him media attention. Which, hey look, it still is. Apparently he has a new album coming out in the new year though. Maybe it'll be a whole concept album about the festival fallout.