|FRIDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Two of the UK's most prolific ticket touts have been found guilty of fraud at the conclusion of a criminal case that could set some interesting precedents regarding what British law says about the unofficial resale of tickets for profit online... [READ MORE]|
Prolific ticket touts found guilty of fraud
The case was pursued by National Trading Standards, which began investigating various industrial-level ticket touting operations after the UK government's 2016 Waterson Report declared that consumer rights law needed to be better enforced in the secondary ticketing domain.
The defendants were Peter Hunter and David Smith, who operated as Ticket Wiz and BZZ, and who were dubbed as "dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed" when the case against them arrived in Leeds Crown Court last year. That the two men ran a prolific ticket touting operation was not disputed, the question was whether their operations broke any laws.
Yesterday the jury concluded "fuck, yeah", with both men being found guilty of fraudulent trading and possessing an article for fraud. Earlier in the case, the prosecution explained how, through Ticket Wiz and BZZ, the defendants used bespoke software and a specialist browser to hoover up tickets from primary ticketing sites, using multiple identities and credit cards to circumvent rules that limit how many tickets any one person can buy.
They were also accused of failing to warn buyers that touted tickets might be cancelled by a promoter, and of speculatively selling tickets they hadn't actually acquired yet.
Quite what wider impact yesterday's ruling has on other industrial-level touting operations - and the websites they used to sell their tickets - remains to be seen. Whereas National Trading Standards has gone after the actual touts, the Competition & Markets Authority has taken the lead in scrutinising the operations of the resale sites, which these days mainly means the soon-to-merge Viagogo and StubHub.
Yesterday's ruling was welcomed by those who have campaigned against online ticket touting, including the FanFair Alliance and MP Sharon Hodgson.
Adam Webb from the former said: "Today's verdict shines further light on the murky world of secondary ticketing, and the dependency of websites such as Viagogo and StubHub upon large-scale commercial ticket resellers. We strongly suspect Peter Hunter and David Smith are not exceptional, and that other suppliers to these sites may also acquire tickets by unlawful means - no questions asked".
"Given the outcome of this case", he went on, "it is now urgent that National Trading Standards are resourced to increase the scope of their investigations, and for the Competition & Markets Authority to apply further scrutiny towards the secondary ticketing market overall. If the likes of Viagogo, StubHub and other secondary sites operate without due diligence then their directors must be held to account".
Meanwhile Hodgson, who has long campaigned on this issue, added: "This hugely significant verdict is vindication of the years of campaigning by people who have been ripped off by ticket touts, often with devastating personal consequences. As someone who has been fighting against some of the worst offenders in the secondary ticketing market for years now, I hope that this verdict sets a clear precedent moving forward".
"I have been calling for the National Trading Standards to be resourced sufficiently in order to increase the scope of their investigations, and for the Competition & Markets Authority to apply further scrutiny towards the secondary ticketing market overall", she continues. "For far too long, people motivated by greed have been abusing the goodwill and desperation of genuine fans, and that must end".
Vivendi puts IPO back on the agenda for Universal Music
French conglom Vivendi formally announced its intent to sell off some of the Universal Music Group in 2018, it being keen to cash in on the streaming boom. There was talk of an Initial Public Offering back then, but in the end Vivendi opted for a series of private deals with "strategic partners".
The first of those deals was agreed at the end of last year with a consortium led by Chinese web giant Tencent. We knew talks were ongoing with other possible "strategic partners". But it was in an investor update yesterday that it was announced that the plan to offload some stock via an IPO was back on the agenda.
The investor update began with some chatter about the Tencent deal, which will see that consortium take 10% of Universal now, with the option to take 10% more down the line. The update added: "This agreement will be shortly complemented by a second agreement allowing Tencent Music Entertainment to acquire a minority interest in the share capital of UMG's subsidiary that houses its operations in Greater China".
Then it said: "Vivendi's Supervisory Board was informed of ongoing negotiations regarding the possible sale of additional minority interests". And that: "Eight banks have been mandated by Vivendi to assist it in this matter". Oh yes, and "an initial public offering is currently planned for early 2023 at the latest".
So there you have it. But what's changed since 2018? According to the FT, when asked that very question, Vivendi boss Arnaud de Puyfontaine said the market used to be "sceptical on the reliability of our business model in emerging markets". The alliance with Tencent in China could help address such concerns. He went on: "Given the progress that we have made and the current situation we're in, what was ruled out at the time now is obviously not anymore".
Of course, since 2018, interest in music rights among the investment community has only risen, and the Tencent deal proved there was sufficient demand to value Universal Music at around $33 billion. All of which might have also helped motivate the change in plan.
IMRO announces Concertify tie up
IMRO has already been piloting the data platform for six months. Meanwhile, the Finnish company behind it, Mind Your Rights, has worked with a number of other societies to hone the service, including PRS in the UK, and especially Finland's Teosto.
In the official blurb, Concertify is described as a platform that "simplifies data and the transfer of data between stakeholders including artists, event organisers, copyright societies, copyright owners and music publishers. The efficiencies gained through Concertify ultimately achieve faster foreign royalty collection".
Confirming IMRO's involvement, the society's Sean Donegan says: "At IMRO, our focus has always been on innovating to drive efficiencies for our members, affiliates, and partners. Concertify has the potential to become an essential tool in the advancement of live music reporting, distribution and interaction within the entire royalty collection society network".
The boss of Mind Your Rights, Roope Pajasmaa, adds: "We are excited to be working with IMRO, alongside other societies, to take concert copyright management to a new level. Concertify offers societies new digital toolsets, contributing to IMRO's data-driven and digitally innovative approach to rights management".
Coldcut release new music-making app
Designed by one half of Coldcut and Ninja Tune co-founder Matt Black, the app was originally intended as a tool for Coldcut live shows and has existed in various forms for 25 years. Encompassing a variety of sequencers, the key upgrade in this version is the ability for users to input their own sounds - either through pre-recorded samples, using the iPad microphone, or taking sounds from other apps, or from instruments such as guitar and keyboard.
"Sound is living data, like DNA", says Brown. "Just as information wants to be free, not fixed, sound can be fluidly mixed, mutated, and recombined in infinite ways so the mix is never finished, it stays alive".
The app is available in Apple's App Store now. Watch a video demonstration here.
Jacknife Lee announces new album
The album, he explains, began as a way for him to break out of his usual ways of working, while also giving him a good excuse to record music with other artists purely because he admired them. "It's usually my job to organise the sessions and to a certain extent be the grown up in the room", he says. "This is me not being that".
First single from the record is 'Made It Weird', with rapper Open Mike Eagle. Of the track, Jacknife Lee says: "Open Mike Eagle was on my dream list of collaborators but I didn't think he'd do it. His flow is ridiculously clever and smooth. I've been a fan of his for ages. Once he was convinced to come to [my studio in] Topanga we just hung out, listened to records and I played him the beat and he took it away. And then this happened. He makes it sound so so easy but he's doing some mad shit in there".
Titled 'The Jacknife Lee', the album will be released through Slow Kids Records on 29 May. Here's 'Made It Weird'.
JLS reform for arena tour
In a statement, the group say: "We are so excited to be working together as a group again. We've always been like family, and now we feel that this is the right time for us to get back on stage and perform in front of our loyal fans. Even though it's been seven years, you can be sure that it's going to be as high energy as ever".
Get ready for those backflips then. Tickets for the tour go on sale on 21 Feb. Here are the dates:
12 Nov: Dublin, 3Arena
Sam Smith's new album will released on 1 May, titled 'To Die For'. The title track is out as a single today. "I'm more proud of this album than anything I've ever done", says Smith. "I've really set myself free the last two years whilst writing this and I hope you can dance and relate to these stories".
Grimes has released new single 'Delete Forever', which she says is about "losing friends to the opioid crisis and the self-hatred that arises when the grieving process mimics the behaviours that cost your friends their lives".
Tim Burgess has released new single 'Empathy For The Devil', and announced that he will release new solo album, 'I Love A New Sky', on 22 May through Bella Union.
Producer RAC has released a cover of Third Eye Blind's 'Never Let You Go', featuring Hilary Duff and Matthew Koma. "This started as an inside joke, something we were doing just for the fun of it", says RAC. "I think you can hear that in the song. Sometimes the best things come out when you're not really trying".
Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes have announced collaborative album 'What Kinda Music', set for release on Blue Note on 24 Apr. Here's the video for the title track.
Knxwledge has released two new singles, 'Learn' and 'Howtokope'. Both are taken from his forthcoming album '1988', out through Stones Throw on 27 Mar.
Coriky - comprising Fugazi's Ian MacKaye and Joe Lally, and The Evens' Amy Farina - have announced that they will release their debut album on 27 Mar. From it, this is 'Clean Kill'.
Moaning have released new single 'Fall In Love'. The track is taken from their new album 'Uneasy Laughter', out through Sub Pop on 20 Mar.
Scandal have released the video for 'Tonight', from their latest album 'Kiss From The Darkess'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Billie Eilish to perform Bond theme at BRITs
Alright, it's a debut performance, I guess. So long as she doesn't accidentally sing it somewhere else first. She only has to keep quiet until Tuesday night, so fingers crossed.
On the recorded version of the new track, Eilish is backed by an orchestra, conducted by Hans Zimmer. Imagine if they got Hans Zimmer to do the BRITs with her too. And an orchestra. Well that would be quite a coup. That would never happen though, would it? Well, apparently yes. This is all according to the Daily Mail, by the way.
Asked to describe the song recently, Eilish said, "I guess it's a ballad". I guess it is too. By which I mean, I have heard it and here it is.