|THURSDAY 30 JANUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Competition And Markets Authority has warned secondary ticketing company StubHub that it faces court action if it doesn't address various issues with its website... [READ MORE]|
StubHub warned it is breaching UK consumer law (again)
The regulator has also published a list of those issues. It says that StubHub is: failing to adequately warn people that tickets may not get them into an event; using misleading messaging about ticket availability; targeting UK consumers with tickets for events listed on overseas versions of its website, which may not comply with UK law; failing to ensure people know exactly where they will sit in a venue; and failing to take sufficient steps to ensure that the full addresses of business sellers are always displayed.
Back in 2018, the CMA demanded that all UK secondary ticketing sites make various changes in order to fall in line with UK consumer rights law. Ticketmaster responded by shutting down its two secondary sites - GetMeIn and Seatwave - while the ever rogue Viagogo initially did nothing, resulting in legal action. StubHub, however, keen to present itself as the friendly face of secondary ticketing, voluntarily made the changes asked of it.
However, it seems that things have been slipping at StubHub HQ since then, with the CMA saying that its most recent checks on whether the StubHub site is complying with the law threw up all of the issues outlined above. StubHub has apparently already promised to address everything on that long list, but the CMA has also warned that if it doesn't - or doesn't address them to its liking - it will begin court action.
In a statement, CMA chief exec Andrea Coscelli says: "StubHub had previously committed to make important changes to the information on its site, so anyone buying a ticket would know what they were getting before parting with their money. It's therefore unacceptable that we have now found these concerns".
"We have demanded swift action to resolve these problems and are pleased that StubHub has said it will make changes in response", he continues. "We will closely monitor the firm's efforts and, if it does not quickly implement changes that satisfy us, we will take further action - potentially through the courts".
Coscelli added that Viagogo's compliance was also reviewed at the same time as StubHub and no issues were found. Although, of course, having only recently fallen in line with the CMA's demands, Viagogo has had less time to go back to its old ways.
All of this is also interesting in the context of Viagogo's current bid to buy StubHub for $4 billion from current owner eBay. One concern of that merger is that champion rule breaker Viagogo would be in control of the ticket resale platform that has generally complied with the rules. Though the latest CMA announcement shows StubHub is actually more than capable of breaking those rules without Viagogo's help.
The CMA is also currently investigating that merger and may as yet block it.
Commenting on the news that StubHub is being newly reprimanded by the regulator, Adam Webb, Campaign Manager for anti-touting organisation the FanFair Alliance, says in a statement: "This is a welcome announcement from the CMA, which again highlights continuing dysfunctions in the secondary ticketing market. StubHub have had years to comply with UK consumer law, they were forced to sign legal undertakings in April 2018, and yet they still fall short of expected standards".
He adds: "If StubHub and other secondary ticketing platforms continue to mislead UK audiences, we would urge the CMA to take decisive action through the courts. Today's developments should also provide yet more impetus for regulators to thoroughly investigate the proposed merger between Viagogo and StubHub".
The deadline for submissions to the CMA's investigation into Viagogo's StubHub deal passed earlier this month, with an announcement on what it plans to do next still to come.
Peloton's countersuit against the music publishers dismissed
More than a dozen independent publishers sued Peloton last year accusing it of making use of their songs without licence. Peloton makes fitness machines that come with screens via which users can access workout videos. The lawsuit alleged that some of those videos contained unlicensed music controlled by the plaintiffs.
Peloton then countersued mainly on competition law grounds. It alleged that it had previously had good relationships with most of the publishers involved in the legal dispute and was negotiating licensing deals with many of them. Those relationships only fell apart, it then claimed, because of interference by America's National Music Publishers Association.
In an additional legal filing in October, Peloton summarised its case as follows: "Why are we here? Because of the anti-competitive and tortious conduct of the counterclaim defendant National Music Publishers' Association. Specifically, NMPA has instigated a co-ordinated effort with the counterclaim defendant music publishers to fix prices and to engage in a concerted refusal to deal with Peloton".
For their part, the publishers were disparaging of Peloton's claims from the off, reckoning that - unable to counter their copyright infringement allegations - the fitness company was desperately trying to construct a phoney competition law complaint instead.
Subsequent legal filings from the publishers also referenced the so called Noerr-Pennington doctrine under US law, which basically allows competing businesses to collude for the purposes of lobbying or litigation.
They said: "It is settled law that the very conduct identified as the basis for Peloton's claim - the publishers' filing of the copyright infringement lawsuit and any alleged joint refusal to license incidental to that lawsuit - is shielded from antitrust liability by the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. Any other conclusion would render Noerr-Pennington meaningless".
Granting the publishers' motion to dismiss Peloton's competition law litigation, the judge hearing the case noted in particular that, while a number of publishers may have come together to pursue a copyright infringement action, there was still plenty of other songs the fitness company could use that are controlled by other entities.
So even with the NMPA-organised legal action, there's still plenty of competition in the market that Peloton is doing business with.
The judge said: "Peloton does not explain why it cannot substitute songs with sync licences owned by the music publishers [involved in the lawsuit] for songs with sync licences owned by other publishers. Indeed, as Peloton admits, it has successfully 'collaborated with music publishers to develop an innovative [sync] licensing framework that is appropriate for its business and reached agreements with all the 'major' music publishers and many independent music publishers'".
The judge then notes Peloton's argument that things aren't that simple because every song has "nonfungible qualities", which means different songs are not easily interchangeable. But that's not relevant said the judge. "It is true that every copyrighted work has at least some modicum of originality. But, recognition of that fundamental tenet of copyright law does not explain why songs not controlled by the music publishers cannot substitute in exercise programming for songs they do control".
Needless to say, the National Music Publishers Association welcomed the ruling. It's boss, David Israelite, said: "Today's victory is a reminder that tech companies like Peloton cannot build businesses that are reliant on songwriters without asking their permission and paying them".
"[The judge] has dismissed all of Peloton's counterclaims", he went on, "which were only meant to distract from their failure to license 2468 songs. We are pleased that Peloton's attempts to divert attention from the heart of the issue - properly paying creators for the music on which its billion-dollar business was built - have been defeated".
A Peloton spokesperson said they "respectively disagreed" with the court and were now considering their options for an appeal.
Future of London's 100 Club assured with 100% discount on business rates
It is the first time a music venue has benefitted from so called 'localism relief', part of a scheme that gives local authorities some flexibility over business rates for organisations that have a substantial positive impact on the local community. The move by the London local authority should protect the 100 Club's future as a hub of live music in the capital.
In order to maintain this relief, the building has to meet certain criteria, including remaining a grassroots music venue and being run on a not for profit basis. The scheme is also open to any other music venue in the borough of Westminster that can meet the necessary conditions.
The venue's owner Jeff Horton says in a statement: "I'm THRILLED the 100 Club has been granted this new business rates relief. It means we can continue to support the careers of the hundreds of artists who take to our stage each year. This is a game changing approach from a local authority in supporting grassroots music venues. I'm grateful to Westminster Council and for the continued support of the Mayor Of London and the Night Czar. I hope that other local authorities will adopt a similar forward-thinking approach to support the music industry".
London's there mentioned Night Czar Amy Lamé - who helped Westminster Council to develop its new music venue tax relief scheme - adds: "The 100 Club is an important part of London's music history, providing a stage for up-and-coming and world-renowned acts for more than 75 years. Grassroots music venues play a key role in London's thriving nightlife and that is why we've worked closely with The 100 Club and Westminster City Council to secure its future".
"This is the first time that special status has been awarded to a grassroots music venue and it is a great example of what can be done to support venues in our city", she goes on. "I urge other local authorities to work with us to support venues in their boroughs and help boost London's vibrant nightlife".
It's now nearly ten years since the 100 Club announced that it was facing closure, after rent and business rates spiralled to a total bill of nearly £18,000 a month. Following a massive campaign to save it - including a performance at the venue by Paul McCartney - trainer brand Converse stepped in to ensure its doors stayed open. In 2012, an application was made for grade II listed status in order to provide further protection, but this was denied.
The news of the 100% tax relief for the 100 Club comes less than a week after it was announced that, from April, all small and medium music venues across the country will be able to claim a 50% discount on their business rates bills. The rebate has long been called for by campaigners, who say that high rates - which for some venues have more than doubled in recent years - are a key reason for more than a third of grassroots venues in the UK closing in the last decade. Rate relief schemes were already available for other small high street businesses, including pubs, but music venues had previously been excluded.
Among those leading the campaign on business rates relief for grassroots music venues have been the Music Venue Trust and the Musicians' Union. Both welcomed yesterday's announcement regarding the 100 Club.
MVT's CEO Mark Davyd says: "Following on from the announcement earlier this week of the rate relief being offered by central government for grassroots music venues, this move by Westminster is simply fantastic for 100 Club, for London and for artists and audiences. Across our major cities, we have key, iconic grassroots music venues that we desperately need to find a way to keep. We congratulate Westminster Council on having found a path to do exactly that using localism relief".
Still in campaigning mode, Davyd adds: "Other boroughs in London, in Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Brighton, Glasgow, Cardiff, now need to follow suit. Our city centres need to keep cultural destinations that drive activity and support the whole night-time economy, and we strongly urge local authorities across the country to look at the example here and consider how they can act".
The MU's National Organiser For Live Performance, Dave Webster, says: "We are delighted to learn that Westminster Council has taken the bold decision to cut business rates for the 100 Club. Keeping such a landmark venue open is crucial to London's cultural landscape. Its iconic wall of fame will continue to grow as more bands play the venue this year and into the future. Let's hope other councils across the UK take Westminster's lead in protecting live music venues".
The red button is given a reprieve, but significant cuts are still incoming at BBC News
When it announced last year that it would stop providing news, sport and travel updates via the red button, the BBC explained that usage of those services had slumped in recent years as more and more people accessed such content via their smartphones or tablets, rather than through their telly. The BBC, of course, offers various apps for those devices.
However, on Monday the National Federation Of The Blind delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street calling on the BBC to reverse its decision regarding the red button. It argued that the old fashion teletext-style updates were still "vital for visually impaired, deaf, disabled and older people, as well as many other people who want to find out information independently in an easy, convenient and accessible format, who are not online".
BBC boss Tony Hall yesterday confirmed that protests from NFBUK and others had persuaded him that there should be another review before making a final decision on the red button.
In a letter to MP Damian Collins - the former Chair of Parliament's culture select committee - Hall wrote: "People have expressed their concern that the closure of red button text services could negatively affect elderly people and people with disabilities. These are issues which I feel deserve to be explored in more depth ... so we have decided to suspend its closure pending further work in that area".
NFBUK said Hall's decision was "fantastic news" and that it looked forward to working with him, Collins and the British Deaf Association "for a better resolution".
The BBC has been under pressure to cut costs for some time, of course, and that pressure is only going to increase as the role and funding of the Corporation is hotly debated in political circles in the years ahead. The challenge for BBC bosses is that, while most people agree savings should be found, whenever they propose cutting any one specific service, there is outrage from one group or another who insists that the service set for the chop is exactly the kind of thing a licence fee funded public service broadcaster should be providing.
Elsewhere at BBC HQ yesterday, bosses also announced a radical overhaul of its entire news operation. Said bosses hope that that overhaul will help them meet an £80 million savings target without having to actually axe too many channels or programmes.
The main plan is to try to reorganise BBC News so that it is structured more around news stories than programmes and platforms, the aim being to reduce duplication, where multiple BBC journalists cover the same story, eg one for the 'One O'Clock', one for the News Channel, one for online and one for a local news programme. The Beeb's digital outlets will also be given more prominence under the grand money-saving plan.
BBC news chief Fran Unsworth said: "The BBC has to face up to the changing way audiences are using us. We have to adapt and ensure we continue to be the world's most trusted news organisation, but crucially, one which is also relevant for the people we are not currently reaching. We need to reshape BBC News for the next decade in a way which saves substantial amounts of money. We are spending too much of our resources on traditional linear broadcasting and not enough on digital".
"Our duty as a publicly funded broadcaster is to inform, educate, and entertain every citizen", she went on. "But there are many people in this country that we are not serving well enough. I believe that we have a vital role to play locally, nationally and internationally. In fact, we are fundamental to contributing to a healthy democracy in the UK and around the world. If we adapt we can continue to be the most important news organisation in the world".
Many of the cost savings will come from redundancies. The big revamp will likely lead to about 450 job losses across the BBC's news division.
Gorillaz to release music via new video series, starting with Slowthai and Slaves collaboration tonight
Drummer Russel explains: "'Song Machine' is a whole new way of doing what we do. Gorillaz breaking the mould cos the mould got old. World is moving faster than a supercharged particle, so we've gotta stay ready to drop. We don't even know who's stepping through the studio next. 'Song Machine' feeds on the unknown, runs on pure chaos. So whatever the hell's coming, we're primed and ready to produce like there's no tomorrow. Y'know, just in case".
As well as a new track, each episode of 'Song Machine' will feature interviews with the band and their real life collaborators. The first - 'Momentary Bliss' - will feature Slowthai and Slaves, and will be available here from 7.30pm this evening.
IMPALA announces shortlist for European Independent Album Of The Year
"This is a great shortlist, with 22 nominees from all over the European continent", comments IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith. "Our album award is an excellent discovery tool. It symbolises creativity without borders. Now it's for the jury to decide [on an overall winner] and it is going to be a difficult task this year".
You can listen to all the nominees in a handy playlist here. Or you can just look at them in a boring old list like an idiot here...
5K HD - High Performer (Austria)
Rusty Gaston has been named CEO of Sony/ATV Nashville. As well as bringing him on board, Sony/ATV will also acquire Gaston's THiS Music company. "The Sony/ATV Nashville catalogue is the undisputed greatest collection of country music on the planet", says Gaston, getting right into his new role.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Music publishing firm the Music Sales Group is rebranding. Which is probably a wise move, Music Sales was never a great name. It will now be called, oh look, the Wise Music Group. Not sure why. Next time I see the company's owner Robert Wise I'll make sure to ask him. I'm very wise like that.
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING
Another round of grants has been awarded by the Music Export Growth Scheme funded by the UK government's Department For International Trade and managed by BPI. This funding is to help artists pursue new opportunities in new markets, resulting in more music exports. The latest recipients are: AlaskaAlaska, Anna Meredith, Black Midi, Ezra Collective, Ferris & Sylvester, Floating Points, Ider, Jadu Heart, Joe Armon-Jones, Man Of Moon, Massive Wagons, Penelope Isles, Sarathy Korwar, She Drew The Gun, Shvpes, Steve Mason, Sunset Sons, The Hunna, The Orielles and The Pineapple Thief.
Squarepusher has released new single 'Terminal Slam', along with a video directed by tech artist Daito Manabe, who says: "The concept began with the idea of implementing the near future, not the distant future, using modern technology. In the near future, it would be exciting to be able to rewrite ads as freely as is depicted in this music video while wearing such a device and wandering around the city".
Right off Klaxons, James Righton has released his new solo single 'Edie'. "'Edie' is a song I wrote for my daughter when she was a baby", he says. "She seemed so fragile and small in a world that seemed so big and terrifying. I wanted to tell her that everything would be OK". His debut solo album, 'The Performer', is out on 20 Mar. Where's he playing live though? Well, if you'd let me get a word in, I'd tell you he's playing the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club on 25 Mar.
A$AP Ferg has released new track 'Value'. He's got more new music coming in 2020, we've heard on the grapevine (aka the press release telling us about this track).
Austra has released her first new single since 2017, titled 'Risk It'. "I was losing faith in my own ideas", she says of the reason for the delay. Now back in action, she'll also play Hoxton Hall in London on 12 May.
Ahead of her sold out show at St Pancras Old Church in London tonight, JFDR has released new single, 'Shimmer'. Her new album, 'New Dreams', is out on 13 Mar.
Katherine Ryan and Julie Adenuga have been announced as the presenters of this year's NME Awards on 12 Feb. "Co-hosting the NME Awards with Katherine is like three dreams coming true at once", says Adenuga. "I hope to get pregnant by a rock star", adds Ryan. Well, she's in luck, because it's also been announced that Courtney Love will receive the Icon Award.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
The New Pornographers self-censor on t-shirts for kids
How do you balance a kid's self-expression with having to endlessly explain why they have 'pornographers' written across their chest? It's fine, the band have you covered. For this purpose, they're willing to pretend that's not their name.
Currently on tour in the US promoting their latest album 'In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights', the band have just added a range of t-shirts in children's sizes. The shirts bear the album's artwork, but with the band name changed to The News Photographers.
So that sorts everything out. You can swan around knowing that you need explain nothing, and it will be your child who will loudly tell everyone in earshot that it should actually say pornographers. And that's fine. No one pays any attention to children.
How hard is it to explain that band name though? Well, so hard that back in 2010 a US college gave up and just cancelled a show by the band.
The activities office of Christian college Calvin College said in a statement at the time: "We believe that the decision to invite the band fit our rubric of engaging culture through a Christian lens. The band makes good, thoughtful music, and we invited them here based on their artistic merit. However, after weeks of discussion and consideration, the irony of the band's name was impossible to explain to many. The band's name, to some, is mistakenly associated with pornography".
Sadly, at the time no one at Calvin College thought to just tell everyone they were called The News Photographers.