|TUESDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The two British ticket touts found guilty of fraud earlier this month have been sentenced for a total of six-and-a-half years in jail, a ruling that has been dubbed an "important milestone" by the government agency that pursued the criminal case against them... [READ MORE]|
Fraudulent ticket touts jailed for more than six years
Peter Hunter and David Smith ran a prolific ticket-touting operation via companies known as Ticket Wiz and BZZ. They were among the ticket resellers whose operations were investigated by National Trading Standards, which was set the task of assessing whether industrial level touts were complying with UK consumer rights law.
When the criminal case against the two men reached Leeds Crown Court last year prosecutors dubbed the duo "dishonest fraudsters motivated by greed". That Hunter and Smith ran a prolific ticket touting operation was not disputed, the question was whether that operation broke any laws.
Earlier this month a jury concluded that, via their ticketing business, Hunter and Smith were guilty of fraudulent trading and possessing an article for fraud. In a statement yesterday, National Trading Standards then listed the various activities undertaken by the two men that resulted in that fraud conviction.
That included using specialist bots to hoover up tickets from primary sites; knowingly breaching the terms and conditions of primary sites; going out of their way to circumvent tactics employed by primary sites to combat touting; knowingly selling tickets that risked being cancelled by the promoter without alerting the buyer to this fact; and speculatively listing for sale tickets that they had not yet secured.
In order to get around rules on the primary sites that limit how many tickets any one person can purchase, Hunter and Smith also had third parties register credit and debit cards for them to use, which opened up those third parties to possible liabilities for fraud too. They also lied by pretending to be those third parties when contacting the primary sites.
The judge concluded that Hunter and Smith ran their fraudulent operation from May 2010 to December 2017, making a net profit of £3.5 million in just the latter two years that they were in business. Based on their respective roles in the touting venture, Hunter was sentenced to four years in prison, while Smith will spend 30 months behind bars.
The Chair of National Trading Standards, Toby Harris, welcomed the ruling, saying: "This is an important milestone in the fight to tackle online ticket touts who fraudulently buy and resell tickets to thousands of victims to line their own pockets".
"Today's sentences send a strong message to similar online ticket touts: these are criminal offences that can lead to prison sentences", he continued. "I hope this leads to a step-change in the secondary ticketing market, making it easier and safer for consumers buying tickets in the future".
The sentencing of Hunter and Smith was also welcomed by those who have campaigned for much stricter regulation of the ticket resale market, include the FanFair campaign. Those campaigners also reckon that the conviction of these two touts raises questions for the resale sites that they utilised in order to sell their touted tickets.
A spokesperson for FanFair said: "Today's sentences represent a major blow to online ticket touts who break the law and rip off the public. It's a fantastic result for National Trading Standards and for music lovers across the UK, and should also send shockwaves through the likes of Viagogo and StubHub whose businesses are dependent upon large-scale resellers".
"By facilitating the activities of online touts, there must be concerns that the platforms themselves are profiting from the sale of tickets unlawfully acquired by their biggest suppliers", FanFair went on. "This should be investigated as a matter of urgency, and lead to action against those platforms if they have benefitted from the proceeds of criminality".
Meanwhile MP Sharon Hodgson, who has long campaigned against secondary ticketing, said in a statement: "For too long, ticket touts have operated outside of the law, fraudulently reducing the number of face value tickets available to genuine fans and ripping off consumers".
However, she added, this fight is far from over, saying: "Today's sentence is a victory, but there is much more to be done, with websites such as Viagogo and StubHub still operating and other ticket touts using similar fraudulent techniques to illegally acquire tickets. To truly tackle this issue, we need more funding for National Trading Standards and the Competition & Markets Authority to investigate suspected ticket touts, and for well known brands such as Google to stop sponsored advertising for Viagogo and StubHub".
Yeasayer sue Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd over Pray For Me sample
The allegedly uncleared sample is a choral performance that appears in 'Sunrise'. In their lawsuit filed with the New York courts, Yeasayer say that the element of their record in question is "unique, comprised of male voices singing in their highest registers, with animated, pulsing vibrato, and developed via distinctive audio post-processing".
They then say that the defendants - which also include 'Pray For Me' producers Doc McKinney and Frank Dukes - "extracted plaintiffs' choral performance from a recording of 'Sunrise', slightly modified it, including, on information and belief, via postprocessing to alter its pitch, among other qualities, and then inserted the modified audio material into 'Pray For Me'". The choral performance sampled from 'Sunrise', the band argue, is "a material and substantial portion" of the 'Black Panther' track.
Yeasayer's lawsuit then says that they "are informed and believe, and thereon allege, that defendants modified the portion they copied from 'Sunrise' with the intent to conceal the infringement". However, "despite the processing, defendants' use of plaintiffs' song nonetheless retains each of its inherent characteristics, as well as the relation between those characteristics, and is immediately recognisable as plaintiffs' material".
With all that in mind, the band would like the court to grant an injunction stopping Lamar and Tesfaye et al from continuing to infringe their rights through the distribution of 'Pray For Me', while paying, of course, lots and lots of lovely damages.
For a discussion on what copyright law says about sampling, check out this special edition of the Setlist podcast.
Australian copyright owners say Google should help enforce the web-blocks
The anti-piracy tactic of web-blocking has been available to copyright owners in Australia since a change in the law in 2015. It means that music and movie companies can get court orders forcing internet service providers to block access to specific piracy sites. Since then a number of such sites have been subject to web-blocking in Australia.
But web-blocks are not perfect, of course, because anyone with just a little bit of web-savviness can usually circumvent the blockades. And by web-savviness, we mainly mean being savvy enough to type "how can I reach The Pirate Bay?" into Google.
That is why Graham Burke - the former boss of Australian movie company Village Roadshow and still Chair of Creative Content Australia - thinks Google et al should be forced to do more to stop people circumventing court-ordered web-blocks.
Speaking to the newspaper The Australian, Burke said: "What is happening is that the government, with legislation, shut the front door by blocking websites by ISP, but the search engines, namely Google, are taking people to pirate process proxy sites. If you Google 'PIR' you get taken to Pirate Bay proxies, where they say unashamedly, if the government blocked your Pirate Bay access through your ISP we can re-engage you right here".
Although Google does provide a system via which copyright owners can remove links to infringing content from its search database, the music and movie industries have long argued that the web giant should be much more proactive in the battle against piracy. In particular ensuring that it's not helping users to circumvent official web blocks.
For its part, Creative Content Australia is now asking the Australian government to intervene, to make sure that blocked sites are not easily accessible via things like Google.
Doing so would also protect consumers, reckons the anti-piracy group. That particular argument is based on Creative Content Australia's latest public-facing campaign, which claims that using piracy services opens up users to data-theft and fraud.
Building on that theme, Burke also told The Australian: "When piracy first started they had advertising and they're still doing some of that, but the big profit, huge profit, comes from getting someone's credit card details and emptying their bank account. Even just by clicking on to a pirate website, they're so sophisticated they can suck up all your information, your passwords and everything".
Believe and Nuclear Blast ally on "extreme music" distribution service
Blood Blast Distribution will tap Believe's digital distribution network, but will also provide the genre expertise of Nuclear Blast. The new venture will assist clients in "building international marketing strategies, offer access to a network of international publicists and offer different levels of trade marketing services".
The new venture will be led by Nuclear Blast execs Jerome Riera, Myriam Silberstein, David Kaiser and Bryce Lucien. Riera says: "We're very excited at Nuclear Blast to team up with Believe to create this new imprint, where we will supervise and advise distributed artists. We are joining forces and bringing 30 years of experience in the metal scene to the most innovative digital distribution company in the world".
Believe CEO Denis Ladegaillerie adds: "Believe continues to invest in a wide range of music genres, including the metal scene with Blood Blast. Launching Blood Blast with Nuclear Blast means that we will be able to serve metal bands at every stage of their career, from their first release to a full service label signing. This will give artists a new set-up and the tools to evolve in a fair and transparent environment that are key values for Believe".
Bands already working with Blood Blast include Kugelblitz, The Materia and Malevolence.
Princess Nokia to release two new albums this week
The albums aim to capture different sides of Princess Nokia's personality. Crafted with a variety of musicians in different countries over the course of two years, 'Everything Is Beautiful' is a "representation of [her] sensitive, feminine side". Meanwhile, 'Everything Sucks', which was conversely recorded in the space of a week in New York with producer Tony Seltzer, is harder and more raw.
Speaking about 'Everything Is Beautiful' last year, she told DIY: "I want this to be a coming of age album for young women. It's gorgeous and has a lot of live instrumentation. It's a real rap and neo-soul hybrid. Lyrically it is very personal and draws from everyday experiences like washing my grandmother's feet or going grocery shopping. I would say it's definitely my best music".
You'll also be able to catch Princess Nokia live in the UK next month. Here are the dates:
20 Mar: London, EartH
Incubus announce Make Yourself anniversary shows in London
With new music on the way too, the band will also perform other less nostalgic sets around the UK ahead of the short London residency in June.
Tickets for all the shows go on sale on Friday. Here are the dates:
4 Jun: Birmingham Academy
Crowded House frontman Neil Finn has signed a new publishing deal with BMG, covering his entire catalogue the world over. "I am excited to sign my publishing with BMG, as the people I've met there are genuine music enthusiasts and have an affection for my songs which I know is real", says Finn.
Universal's Republic Records has formed a strategic alliance with Korean music firm JYP Entertainment for the global release of music by K-pop girl group Twice. "We are so excited to make a strategic alliance with number one label Republic Records", says JYP CEO Jimmy Jeong. "[Through] our strategic alliance for Twice, we strongly hope to present the next level of K-pop to fans all around the world".
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Video games company Sega has invested in India-based music discovery app Flutin. "Sega has often taken a broad view of entertainment, within and outside the gaming space, and looked for meaningful partners and investment opportunities", says the firm's Investment Director Toshihisa Kiyomiya. "In markets like India and in areas like streaming music and music-based mobile apps, we see a great potential for growth and innovation, which is why we're excited to support Flutin as it continues to create value for musicians and music lovers worldwide".
Artist management company YMU Group has appointed Sarita Borge to the position of Senior Manager. "Sarita is a highly respected music industry professional who brings
Warner Records in the US has promoted Norva Denton to SVP A&R. "Norva is the perfect fit for our revitalised A&R department, as he brings youthful energy, solid relationships, and a strong marketing background in addition to his A&R expertise", says CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck. "He has the respect of the creative community and artists alike".
Ezra Furman has released the video for 'Every Feeling', from the 'Sex Education' soundtrack. Furman is also set to play UK shows in May.
Real Estate have released the title track of their new album, 'The Main Thing', which itself is out this Friday. "'The Main Thing' is my attempt at writing an inspirational anthem for anyone who's ever been in an existential crisis", says frontman Martin Courtney. "Specifically, me".
Carcass have announced that they will release an as-yet-untitled new album later this year, with first single 'Under The Scalpel Blade' out now.
Babii has released new single 'Beast'. The track is taken from new EP, 'iii', which is out on 27 Mar. "'Beast' is about being far away in proximity from someone but still feeling emotionally close to them, and realising the opposite could be much worse, being in close proximity to someone but emotionally feeling distant from them", she says.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Finneas O'Connell denies he and Billie Eilish were helped by their parents' entertainment industry connections
The siblings' parents, Maggie Baird and Patrick O'Connell, are - as a cursory glance at Eilish's Wikipedia page will tell you - both LA-based actors, so it's clear why people might assume family connections played a part in their children's success.
Among her credits, Baird has played Additional Voices in 'Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas', while - after 35 years as an actor - O'Connell scored a role in blockbuster movie 'Iron Man' in 2003, playing Unnamed Reporter. So, as you can see, they are big Hollywood movers and shakers.
A scroll down Finneas's Wikipedia page adds another layer of information, stating that as well as being actors, his parents are "also musicians" - citing two articles that provide little more to go on. Maggie Baird did self-release an album in 2009 though.
It was the "also musicians" line on Finneas's Wikipedia page that was screengrabbed and posted in a now deleted tweet by a former Pitchfork and Rolling Stone writer yesterday, who presented it as evidence that the siblings had cheated their way to the top.
Responding, Finneas wrote: "During my lifetime, our parents were never able to fully financially support us off of their work as actors. Our dad worked twelve hour days, seven days a week as a construction worker for Mattel and our mom was a teacher. Our parents gave us love but knew no one in the record industry".
He added: "I paid off their mortgage last year and Billie pays them each salaries to tour with us full time, though they have told us many times they would work for us for free. Anyone who saw us tour in 2019 knows our dad insists on sweeping the stage each night before we perform".
Ah, so perhaps their career was funded by those shady execs in the sweeping industry in order to get brooms seen more prominently in public. That'll be it.