|MONDAY 23 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Following Friday's announcement from UK Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak regarding further economic measures the government is planning to help those negatively impacted by the escalating COVID-19 crisis, the British music industry is again calling for more solid support for freelancers and the self-employed... [READ MORE]|
Self-employed who make up 72% of the music industry being let down by government as COVID-19 crisis grows, say trade bodies
On Friday, Sunak responded to concerns about companies being unable to pay staff during the shutdown required to restrict and delay the spread of the coronavirus. He announced that the government will cover 80% of any employee's salary - up to £2500 per month - where a company is unable to make payments as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. But for freelancers he simply announced a change to the existing Universal Credit system, meaning such workers can apply for the equivalent of statutory sick pay - which is just £94.25 per week.
Since the health crisis began, music industry trade bodies have been calling for urgent action from the government to support freelancers. They have been particularly vocal on this because the music industry is staffed largely by self-employed people - as high as 72%. A significant portion of those people are performers or work in the live sector, and were therefore among the first to see their income dry up overnight as live events began to be cancelled.
Following Sunak's announcement on Friday, those trade bodies reacted with disappointment, saying that not enough was being done to ensure that freelancers can cover their basic living costs while unable to work due to COVID-19.
UK Music's acting CEO Tom Kiehl said: "While we welcome the much-needed help for those who are traditionally employed, the government's proposals fall far short of the lifeline needed by the self-employed in the music industry and creative sector. The government should urgently look at setting up a Temporary Income Protection Fund for self-employed workers and freelancers".
"The self-employed make up around 72% of the music industry and are a vital part of its success", he went on. "They should be offered the same help as other workers who will get 80% of wages up to £2500 a month if they cannot work due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many self-employed are facing an immensely difficult time and are worried about putting food on the table, paying their rent or mortgage and other bills. The government has talked about doing the right thing. It must now do the right thing and help protect the self-employed and freelancers".
In another statement, the CEO of the Association Of Independent Music, Paul Pacifico, said: "Today we are urging the Chancellor - Rishi, please do not 'wash your hands' of the self-employed. The UK economy benefits substantially from over five million self-employed and freelance workers, who also make up a massive 70% of the UK music industry. Many have lost all sources of income completely through this crisis, have been effectively overlooked and are now facing economic strife as a result".
"We are calling on the government to extend the same support as payroll employees have been promised; a lifeline to compensate self-employed workers with up to 80% of their average earnings over the past three years, if necessary with a cap of £2500 a month", he went on. "This could be as easily administered by HMRC as it will be for payroll employees. The self-employed have the same bills to pay as the rest of the nation's workers and contribute just as much. They deserve the same support".
This urgent call for action comes as a Musicians' Union survey shows that UK musicians have already collectively lost more than £14 million of expected income since the public health emergency began. As a result, the union has announced that it has opened a £1 million fund for MU members facing "genuine and pressing hardship".
In a video message to members, MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge said: "We have been lobbying government alongside UK Music and we are talking to our friends in the Labour Party and the Conservative Party to try and get across the point that we need some real action now on a universal basic income for freelance musicians and for other freelance workers".
"We know through our survey that 90% of musicians have been impacted by cancellations as a result of the coronavirus", he went on. "Help has to come from the government. We can't expect our union to do everything".
Elsewhere, in partnership with various other music industry trade bodies, Help Musicians has launched a website aimed at providing musicians with the latest information and support during the COVID-19 outbreak - and much of the information is relevant to any freelancer, not just musicians. You can find that at coronamusicians.info
Spinrilla sues the RIAA over allegedly flawed takedown demands
When the major labels filed litigation against Spinrilla three years ago, the mixtape service quickly hit back. It argued that it had previously been working with the music industry. Both to remove mixtapes when labels and publishers did not want their music to feature, and to promote mixtapes when labels saw inclusion in an unofficial mix as good promo, even if the unofficial mixer had not cleared or licensed any of the music that they had mixed.
That litigation continues to go though the motions. Meanwhile, Torrentfreak has spotted, Spinrilla recently turned the tables and filed its own lawsuit against the RIAA. The mixtape service's complaint relates to the processes employed by the record industry trade body when it issues takedown notices against companies like Spinrilla. Those processes, it claims, are flawed, resulting in it receiving takedown requests against mixes that do not actually contain the music the RIAA identifies in its takedown documentation.
Spinrilla's lawsuit states: "[The RIAA] is sending DMCA takedown notices some of which materially misrepresent that audio files uploaded by certain Spinrilla's users infringe sound recordings owned by RIAA's members. These unfounded takedown notices, in turn, cause Spinrilla damage to its business in at least injury to its goodwill and reputation".
The legal filing goes to great lengths to talk through all the measures Spinrilla has in place to combat infringement and repeat infringers on its networks. Because of those measures, every takedown request the RIAA sends requires work, it says.
"Each takedown notice received by Spinrilla triggers a series of tasks that Spinrilla personnel must perform", the lawsuit goes on, "including reading the takedown notice, determining where in Spinrilla's system the allegedly infringing audio file resides, removing (when appropriate) the content, updating a list of repeat infringers and applying Spinrilla's repeat infringer policy to that list".
It then adds that "false takedown notices needlessly waste Spinrilla's time, disrupts its personnel's work and puts at risk for terminating a user as a 'repeat infringer' when in fact the user uploaded non-infringing content".
Among the allegations made by Spinrilla is that the RIAA is issuing takedowns based on metadata rather than actually listening to allegedly infringing mixes. And that the trade body has continued to issue takedowns against content that the mixtape site has already stated do not contain infringing material - or which constitute fair use.
Spinrilla reckons that, as a result of the RIAA's alleged conduct, it is due damages. That's on the basis that the safe harbour contained in America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act - which sets out the process by which copyright owners can issue takedown requests against online operations - puts certain obligations on the takedown issuers.
In particular, the DMCA states that if a takedown issuer "materially misrepresents ... that material or activity is infringing", they may be liable to pay damages to the site they issued the takedown against.
It remains to be seen how the RIAA responds.
Charter Communications accuses labels of flawed takedown demands as legal battle continues
Charter is one of the American internet service providers fighting a big copyright lawsuit from the record companies. The labels accuse Charter - just like Cox, Grande and RCN - of having deliberately shoddy systems for dealing with infringement and repeat infringers on its networks. As a result, the labels go on, the ISP shouldn't enjoy safe harbour protection under US copyright law, meaning it can be held liable for its users' infringement. In Cox's case, such liabilities resulted in that massive billion dollar damages bill.
The lawsuit against Charter continues to go through the motions. In a new legal filing last week, the ISP again presented most of the same old arguments that we've seen in all of these cases. But Charter also threw in its own claim that the labels have not been complying with their obligations when issuing takedown requests against the ISPs.
This allegation stems from a revision the labels made to their lawsuit earlier this year which included the removal of 450 songs and recordings from the list of works allegedly infringed by Charter's customers.
The ISP argues that some of those works were removed because it turned out the major labels didn't actually control the rights in them. Which means that the music companies should never have issued takedown requests in relation to those songs and recordings in the first place.
Charter's lawsuit states: "Upon information and belief, during the 'claim period', the record company plaintiffs sent notices to Charter that contained inaccurate information, including ... that the record company plaintiff on whose behalf the notice was sent owned or controlled the work, and that the actions alleged to have been taken by Charter's subscribers constituted infringement of the record company plaintiff's rights".
"Charter is injured when it processes inaccurate notices", it later adds, "causing it to forward false accusations to its subscribers, to the extent this creates tension with the impacted subscribers, negatively affects goodwill, and causes reputational harm to Charter".
Although Charter is seeking damages over the record industry's alleged failure to meet its legal obligations when sending takedown notices to the ISP, the net firm has another agenda. In all of these cases, the ISPs have sought to disparage the takedown requests the music industry sends and the agencies they use to manage the process.
The labels accuse the net firms of not doing enough to deal with repeat infringers among their customer bases. The ISPs counter that the label's takedown notices can't be trusted, making it difficult to identity genuine repeat infringers. So if Charter could win the argument on its misrepresentation point, it would be in a stronger position to counter the record industry's bid to make it liable for its customers' infringement.
Whether any of that works remains to be seen.
Publishers win $189,500 in damages at conclusion of Wolfgang's Vault litigation
Launched in 2003, Wolfgang's Vault began life as an archive of concert recordings previously owned by promoter Bill Graham, although it later expanded its content sources. As that happened, and the channels through which the firm disseminated and monetised the live recordings expanded too, the company became somewhat controversial in music circles.
Various legal challenges were made, with the National Music Publishers Association pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of various publishers, including all the majors, back in 2015. The publishers then prevailed in that lawsuit in 2018, with the court rejecting various excuses that had been presented by Wolfgang's Vault for why it shouldn't be held liable for infringement. At the time NMPA boss David Israelite called that ruling "a dramatic vindication for our members".
Although that ruling came nearly two years ago, damages were still to be set. Statutory damages were claimed by the publishers which means, under US copyright law, the music companies could have been awarded up to $150,000 per song if the infringement was deemed "wilful". If it wasn't wilful, the cap for damages is $30,000 per song.
However, unusually for this type of case, the jury charged with the task of setting damages went for something much lower. In all, 197 songs were listed in the lawsuit and, it was decided, all but 30 were wilfully infringed. But, for each wilful infringement, damages were set at $1000. For the other 30, damages of $750 per work were awarded.
Responding to that decision, a legal rep for the publishers said the level of damages awarded was "disappointing". He then added that pressure put on the US legal system by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis could have had an impact.
Barry Slotnick of Loeb & Loeb LLP told Law360: "We believe the current public health crisis contributed to a rushed verdict, and we are considering post-trial motion and appeal options".
BMG Production Music expands into Canada
"We see Canada as a great potential growth market for BMGPM where, to date, our repertoire has been largely under-exploited", says the BMG production music division's London-based global MD John Clifford. "Anna and Matt are two seasoned production music pros, and with both of them hailing from Europe I think they will offer a fresh approach to our media partners in Canada. I'm excited to see what they can accomplish".
Andrych joins BMGPM from Musique & Music in Paris and will be based primarily in Montreal. Cansick, meanwhile, joined the company in 2017, initially in London and then LA, and will now be based in Toronto.
The Canadian office is BMGPM's ninth local office, after the US, UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Kenny Rogers dies
Born in 1938, Rogers began his recording career in the 1950s, playing in bands that spanned psychedelic rock to jazz. He first found fame with the band The First Edition, who played in a number of styles, including country. After the band split in 1976, Rogers launched his solo career, adopting a pop-country sound that proved to have a broad appeal.
His first big hit was 'Lucille' in 1977, beginning a string of successes that ran into the 80s - including perhaps his most famous song, 'Islands In The Stream', a duet with Dolly Parton written by The Bee Gees.
Rogers remained popular throughout his career, and continued to record and perform live until he announced his retirement in 2018, after a farewell tour was cut short due to health problems. His final studio album - his 28th - was 2015's 'Once Again It's Christmas'.
In a statement marking her friend and former collaborator's death, Dolly Parton said: "You never know how much you love somebody until they're gone. I've had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend. So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you".
Meanwhile, the CEO of the US Country Music Association, Sarah Trahern, said: "Kenny was one of those artists who transcended beyond one format and geographic borders. He was a global superstar who helped introduce country music to audiences all around the world".
"I had the pleasure of working with him over the years and I'll always remember his graciousness and kind heart", she went on. "He has left us with his music, some of which will go down as the most memorable performances in country music history. Our condolences go out to his family and friends at this sad time".
Rogers is survived by his fifth wife, Wanda, their twin sons, Justin and Jordan, as well as three children from earlier marriages, Kenny Jr, Carole, and Christopher.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Mixcloud has announced that it is waiving its revenue share on the Mixcloud Select monetisation programme for three months, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. New accounts will be given access to this with a three month trial of its Pro tier.
Coronavirus handwashing videos are officially a thing now. Even though, if you don't yet know how you're supposed to wash your hands, there's probably not much point. But anyway, Neil Diamond has re-written 'Sweet Caroline' to help you nonetheless.
Donald Glover has released a new album as Childish Gambino, titled '3.15.20'. The album briefly appeared online last week, but has now received an official release. Tracks on the new record feature Ariana Grande and 21 Savage.
MIA has released new song 'OHMNI 202091' through the Patreon account she launched earlier this year. It's available to anyone, whether you're giving her money or not.
Noah Cyrus has released new single, 'I Got So High That I Saw Jesus'. Insisting that the "song is not about or for one religion or belief system", she adds: "I was born and raised Christian with strong beliefs and still hold those values. I was smoking weed one night, and had this epiphany, then wrote the song, hence the title".
Jada has released new single 'Nudes'. She says: "'Nudes' is about expressing and exposing yourself to someone you have a romantic and/or sexual relationship with. Being honest with your feelings, with your attraction to the other, and with your sexuality. And then being left on 'read'".
The Hell have announced that, to mark the 666th day since the release of their debut album 'You're Listening To The Hell', they will release rarities collection 'Now (That's What I Call Old Shit & Stuff) 666' next month. It includes new track 'Cheers (You Dicks)', which is probably mainly of interest if you're one of the people thanked on it.
Organisers of the Polar Music Prize in Sweden have announced that the ceremony to hand Diane Warren and Anna Netrebko their awards has now been postponed to 21 May 2021. "The most important consideration for us, and the top priority, is the safety and wellbeing of the Polar Music Prize Laureates, the Swedish Royal Family, artists, musicians, guests and all the staff involved", says awards boss Marie Ledin. "We look forward to an extra special event in 2021".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ghosts guest on new Foo Fighters album
As soon as the band entered the 1940s house in Encino, California where they recorded the album, Grohl tells Mojo, he "knew the vibes were definitely off". His gut feeling was confirmed when "things started happening". So that's a clear cut case.
"We would come back to the studio the next day and all of the guitars would be detuned", he says. "Or the setting we'd put on the board, all of them had gone back to zero. We would open up a Pro Tools session and tracks would be missing. There were some tracks that were put on there that we didn't put on there. But just like weird open mic noises. Nobody playing an instrument or anything like that, just an open mic recording a room".
So, there you go. You might say that it's quite common for guitars to go out of tune in a cold old house, and that there are any number of explanations for the rest of this, but you're forgetting the "vibes". Plus ghosts, possibly dead for decades, could easily work out how to use modern recording equipment and computers. That's a thing they do.
Anyway, I detect a note of cynicism in your voice in that last paragraph. And you should not be cynical, because there's more to this.
"It got to the point where I brought one of those nest cams that I still have at home, for when my kids would sleep in their cribs", he says. "I set it up overnight so we could see if there was anyone there or anyone was coming to fuck with us. At first, nothing. And right around the time we thought we were ridiculous and we were out of our minds, we started to see things on the nest cam that we couldn't explain".
Holy shit, man! What? What?! "When we found out about the history of the house, I had to sign a fucking non-disclosure agreement with the landlord because he's trying to sell the place. So, I can't give away what happened there in the past but these multiple occurrences over a short period of time made us finish the album as quickly as we could".
Right. Well, anyway, the Foo Fighters' rushed new album does not yet have a release date, but it was played to journalists at listening parties earlier this month, back when you could still do such things. The response seems to have been overwhelmingly positive, so maybe everyone should start recording in a panic in haunted houses. Although make sure there's at least two metres between you and the ghosts at all times.