|WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA has published a ten point crisis plan to help the independent music community across Europe cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The list of ten recommendations for national governments, European Union institutions and the wider music sector follow the creation last week of an IMPALA taskforce that brings together representatives of independent music businesses from across the continent... [READ MORE]|
IMPALA publishes ten point COVID-19 crisis plan
The music industry was immediately hit, of course, as the first social distancing measures were introduced in a bid to combat the virus. Those measures resulted in the live sector firstly curtailing its activities and then - within a few weeks, sometimes days - going into full-on shutdown. As those measures have increased, music retail, physical distribution, studio work and music education have all also been hit, as have music companies that sell services to people and businesses in all those areas.
Alongside its ten recommendations, IMPALA notes that "music was one of the first sectors hit by the crisis", and that the negative impact is particularly severe because the music industry is made up of "predominantly micro-businesses, self-employed workers and freelancers". With that in mind IMPALA's taskforce calls for "a swift and massive response to ensure music and other cultural sectors can weather through the storm".
It goes on: "The aim is for artists and freelance workers to preserve their livelihood, and for independent companies to stay in business and continue investing. European cultural and creative sectors account for 4.4% of EU GDP and twelve million full-time jobs. Diversity is their strength, but also a vulnerability in times of crises".
Different European governments have responded to the COVID-19 crisis in different ways and at different speeds. Both in the implementation of measures to restrict and delay the spread of the disease and in the announcement of economic packages to support individuals and businesses negatively impacted by those measures.
With that in mind, IMPALA's first recommendation is for more coordination and communication between European countries - both directly between governments, via EU institutions, and by reps of each European music industry sharing information about approaches and initiatives that have proven particularly effective.
In its three demands of national governments across Europe, IMPALA calls for clear unambiguous rules on things like social distancing and lockdown; comprehensive short-term economic packages to mitigate the immediate negative impact of the crisis on all individuals and businesses; and sector specific compensation plans for those industries particularly hard hit, such as music and the wider creative sector.
IMPALA's crisis plan then has three specific recommendations for the European Union, including increased EU loan guarantees for cultural sectors and the creation of a specific crisis fund for smaller cultural businesses. It also says that the EU should "monitor national action and integrate culture in general EU decisions".
With the former, it says that other societies should follow the lead of GEMA in Germany in setting up crisis funds for their members, with the focus on supporting smaller and independent labels, artists, publishers and songwriters. They should also make available advances and interest free loan facilities.
As for the streaming services, they too should "introduce crisis funds for small businesses", while also "making faster royalty payments, passing over a higher percentage of revenues to rightsholders, providing advances to all rightsholders who need them, boosting local music and artists with playlists, and supporting local social media campaigns".
There have been increasing calls from other players in the music community for the streaming services to instigate measures to support artists struggling in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, with various different options proposed, some more realistic than others.
Those calls escalated last week after Netflix announced it had set up a $100 million fund to support those in the TV sector who had lost employment after the productions they were working on were put on hold. A lot of that money will go to support those who had been specifically working on productions for Netflix itself, although it will also help fund support for the wider TV production community.
In the US, various digital firms that utilise music - including Amazon, Apple, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube and Pandora/Sirius XM - have put money into the special COVID-19 fund set up by the Recording Academy's MusiCares charity. Those donations have doubled the size of that fund from $2 million to $4 million. It remains to be seen if similar gestures are now made in other markets around the world.
As for more traditional music media, IMPALA's final recommendation says that they "should promote local music and artists with increased music programming, put more focus on independent and local artists, and promote new local releases as well as local social media campaigns".
Launching the ten point crisis plan this morning, IMPALA boss Helen Smith said: "This is a call for urgent action. Small businesses, artists and freelance workers all need support. A joined-up approach across Europe is vital. Incentives for future growth are also part of the plan. No one should get left behind".
Meanwhile Francesca Trainini, Chair of IMPALA and its COVID-19 taskforce - who is also Vice-President of Italian industry association PMI - added: "To help achieve an effective safety net, the EU should monitor what is happening at national level. We also need to map the results. Italy is just one example where the music sector is crumbling".
Harold Arlen estate dismisses its copyright lawsuit against Apple
Arlen wrote 'Over The Rainbow', 'I've Got The World On A String' and 'Get Happy', among many other famous works. His estate argues that an assortment of labels and distributors have uploaded bootleg versions of recordings of those songs to otherwise legitimate download stores and streaming services.
While the Arlen estate doesn't control the copyright in those recordings, the compulsory licence that covers the mechanical copying of songs in the US - of which the estate is a beneficiary - does not apply if a recording is not properly licensed.
The Arlen estate sued various digital platforms in America as well as the labels and distributors accused of actually uploading the unlicensed tracks. Other litigation followed, with the estates of Harry Warren and Ray Henderson also signing up as plaintiffs.
When the original lawsuit was filed, lawyers working for the Arlen estate said that "this case is about massive music piracy operations in the digital music stores and streaming services of some of the largest tech companies in the world. Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Pandora and their distributors have joined with notorious music pirates to sell and stream thousands of pirated recordings embodying copyrighted works owned by [the estate]".
But that original lawsuit has now been voluntarily dismissed by the estate. According to Law360, most of the companies listed as defendants on that litigation had already been removed, leaving only Apple. The estate then filed papers with the court on Monday requesting that the case be dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the lawsuit can't be re-filed with the court at any point in the future.
No explanation was given for why the lawsuit was being dismissed. Though it could simply be so that the estate can focus its attention on other related litigation in other courts.
Labels instigate social media campaign to support record shops during COVID-19 crisis
The people behind the initiative say that "with many of these stores now experiencing a catastrophic drop-off in footfall or having already closed their doors there are fears that some may not survive if something is not done urgently to stimulate sales". Artists and labels are being encouraged to take part in a social media campaign to help put the spotlight on music retailers, and to encourage fans to support those record stores online.
At the core of the campaign will be a series of videos featuring artists and celebrity music fans talking about their favourite independent music stores, and the acts, tracks and albums they discovered there. The videos will be used to encourage fans to continue to support their favourite and local record shops by ordering stock from their websites.
Jason Rackham, MD of [PIAS], who is leading what is being called the #loverecordstores initiative, explains: "Independent record stores have played a key role in supporting and developing artists and their music for decades, so now it is time for music companies and the artists they represent to step up and give something back".
"We must support these small businesses if they are to survive this crisis", he goes on, "and at the same time we can still play a big part in helping them to continue to introduce their customers to new music. By speaking directly to their audiences about the importance of record stores and encouraging music fans to continue shopping with them online, artists can play a big part in helping secure the survival of this vital part of our industry".
The boss of the Beggars Group, Martin Mills, is also supporting the initiative. He says: "I started life in a record store. Record stores are incubators for great music, and for musicians. In these incredible times they can still serve up what you need, so please 'visit' them online, patronise them, support them and help them survive. We'll need them on the other side".
Among the retailers welcoming the campaign is Laura Kennedy, co-owner of Piccadilly Records in Manchester, who says, "Piccadilly Records has been around since the late 1970s and over the years we have faced lots of challenges, but nothing on the scale of what we face at the moment. It's with a heavy heart therefore that we have closed our doors this weekend and it's going to be tough".
"Our website and mail order department are going to keep going as normal while the shop is closed and there are still plenty of records being released", she adds. "We've all got difficult times ahead but if we all stick together I'm sure we'll get through".
Ad regulator rules against StubHub's use of the line "guaranteed genuine tickets"
The sports-centric advert featured a woman shouting in excitement with her arms spread out against a backdrop of the StubHub speech bubble logo, with the headline "that knee slide along the platform moment". Under that were two more lines of copy - "guaranteed genuine tickets to the match can do that" and "that StubHub Feeling".
It was the "guaranteed genuine tickets" line that FanFair complained about. First because, as StubHub is simply the platform via which third parties sell tickets, it cannot actually guarantee that any tickets being sold are genuine. Plus, of course, there is the deliberately confusing use of the word "guarantee".
That confusing use of the "guarantee" word has come up a lot in the campaign against rampant for-profit ticket touting online, with StubHub's new owner Viagogo particularly known for employing this ruse.
When the resale platforms talk about there being a "guarantee", they mean that if tickets don't arrive or don't get a customer access to a show, they will refund the purchase price. But most consumers will assume that it means the ticket-holder is guaranteed access to an event when, in fact, promoters can and sometimes do cancel tickets that have been unofficially resold (in the UK this is allowed if the terms of the original purchase ban resale).
Responding to the complaint, StubHub argued that it had various systems in place to stop the sale of fraudulent tickets on its website, claiming that the seller fraud rate across its platform was under 0.1%. It also made the ASA aware of its FanProtect Guarantee, which ensures refunds are available if a ticket fails to get a buyer into an event.
However, the ad industry regulator agreed with FanFair that StubHub's choice of words would be taken by most consumers to mean tickets bought on the platform guaranteed access to an event, when - in fact - that is not 100% assured, because of the possibility of the touted ticket being cancelled.
In its ruling, the ASA states that it "considered that the claim 'guaranteed genuine tickets' would be understood by consumers to mean that should they purchase the advertised match tickets from the StubHub website, they would be certain to receive valid tickets that would arrive on time and allow them to gain entry into the relevant match".
After noting the specifics of StubHub's FanProtect Guarantee scheme, it adds: "Although StubHub appeared to offer a guarantee on customers receiving tickets, they were not able to guarantee that buyers would always be able to successfully gain entry to their chosen event. Because the claim 'guaranteed genuine tickets' suggested that consumers who bought StubHub tickets would be guaranteed to gain entry into their chosen match, when that was not the case, we concluded that the claim was misleading".
StubHub has already removed the offending ad, but the ASA's ruling states "the ad must not appear again in the form complained of", adding that the regulator has also told StubHub "not to use the claim 'guaranteed genuine tickets' where there was a risk that buyers might not be able to gain entry into an event".
Music Industry Therapists & Coaches launches free guide for coping with self-isolation
"It's been heart-breaking watching so many of our music industry clients lose work and grapple with the difficulties and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic", says MITC founder Tamsin Embleton. "Whilst we can't alleviate the current circumstances, we thought that we could, at least, offer advice, tips and resources for coping with anxiety and working from home".
The guide features anxiety information and support for both adults and children; breathing techniques to reduce feelings of anxiety; tips for home-working and self-isolation; nutritional advice; and fitness advice.
All members of the MITC collective have experience of working within the music industry - whether in live music, or at record labels, publishers and recording studios, or as artists and producers - prior to retraining as mental health professionals.
BTS teach fans to speak Korean in new web series
That said, this is not a response to the COVID-19 lockdown. Originally announced in February, the project came about after fans requested that the band's videos carry English subtitles. They apparently felt that it would be better if everyone could just speak Korean.
Launched yesterday on Weverse - a social media platform owned by BTS's management company Big Hit Entertainment - the series is split into 30 three-minute videos, focussing on different elements of the Korean language. Watch them all and you will definitely, definitely become fluent.
"There are only limited ways our fans could learn Korean with ease", says Big Hit Entertainment founder Bang Si-Hyuk. "Big Hit has created Korean learning media using artist content for a more rewarding and immersive experience for our fans".
Diplo's Mad Decent label has launched a new imprint in partnership with LA-based creative agency and streetwear brand Pizzaslime. The first release on Pizzaslime Records is TikTok viral hit 'Lonely God' by Marlboro Nights.
With this year's festival called off, Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis have donated medical supplies intended for the event - including thousands of litres of hand sanitiser plus gloves and face masks - to frontline emergency services and NHS workers.
The BBC has announced plans to fill the hole in its schedule left by the cancellation of Glastonbury. 'The Glastonbury Experience' will "bring the nation together and create a weekend of the best in music across radio, television and online with amazing performances for you to enjoy in the comfort of your home".
The BBC has announced plans to fill the hole in its schedule left by cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest. 'Eurovision: Come Together' "will feature classic Eurovision performances, a look at what would have been in 2020 and entertaining interviews, including this year's UK entry James Newman".
Lady Gaga has announced that she is postponing the release of her new album 'Chromatica'. It was due out on 10 Apr, a new date has not yet been announced. "While I believe art is one the strongest things we have to provide joy and healing to each other during times like this, it just doesn't feel right to me to release this album with all that is going on during this global pandemic", she says in an Instagram post.
Haim have announced that they are pushing back the release of their new album 'Women In Music Pt III' from 24 Apr to a new date still to be decided. "We feel this is the best thing to do in the current state of things", they say in an Instagram post.
Bright Eyes have released their first new song for nine years, 'Persona Non Grata'. Noting the strange turn that life has taken recently, the band say that they will still release a new album this year "no matter what", but they are obviously "reassessing" their touring plans.
Jarvis Cocker is moving the release date of his new Jarv Is... album - 'Beyond The Pale' -from 1 May to 27 Sep. Tour dates in May have also been postponed.
The Pretenders have announced that they are moving the release date of their new album, 'Hate For Sale', from 1 May back to 17 Jul due to retail and shipment restrictions in place around the world currently. They have also released the album's title track.
The release of Kelly Lee Owens' new album 'Inner Song' is being pushed back from 1 May to 28 Aug. "We had lots of plans to bring you this album that are now not feasible due to COVID-19", she said on Twitter, adding that the decision was "also out of solidarity for the thousands of record stores closing their doors to protect us".
Dirty Projectors have announced that they will release a new EP, 'Windows Open', this Friday, and have put out new single 'Search For Life' already.
Rosalía has released new single 'Dolerme'.
Zebra Katz has released the video for 'Moor' from his new album 'Less Is Moor'.
Squid have announced that they have signed to Warp, releasing their first single for the label, 'Sludge', at the same time.
Hinds have announced that they are postponing the release of their new album 'The Prettiest Curse' - originally scheduled for 3 Apr - to 5 Jun. In a statement, they said that while "we all need music now more than ever ... things are a bit scary in Spain and the coronavirus is something that is affecting a lot of our loved ones, so for right now we think all of our focus should be on staying safe and staying home, not promoting a new album".
Katie Von Schleicher has released new single 'Nowhere'. The song, she says, is about "the close and tight feeling of being alone". Her new album, 'Consummation', is out on 22 May.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Will.i.am releases new version of Bono's coronavirus song
Not only that, but he's gone and got Will.i.am involved too. I mean, he was already testing our resolve to not mock things like this given the current circumstances all over the world. But I mean Will.i.am is now involved. It's getting tricky.
In his Instagram video last week, Bono said of his new song, "I think it's called 'Let Your Love Be Known'". Turns out it's not, because the new version now sitting on Will.i.am's YouTube channel is called 'Sing For Life'.
As well as Bono and Will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson and X Japan's Yoshiki also appear on the new track - each of them working in isolation from their own homes. Appearing on 'Good Morning Britain' yesterday ahead of the track's release, Will.i.am revealed that he had heard the original version of the song before it appeared on Instagram after Bono shared it via some sort of celebrity group chat.
"I got really moved and inspired by it and I added to it and I sent it to him on the thread", he said. "We talked about creating a baton so people at home can participate - whether they're just listening to it or commenting or singing along or making their own renditions. There's lots of musicians out there in the world that can continue to spread awesome, productive vibes out there in these times".
Meanwhile, in the description on YouTube, Will.i.am writes: "This song was created to bring joy. In times like these, creative people must continue to collaborate. Whether you are a computer scientist, an engineer, a therapist or a teacher, just because we are self-isolating or in quarantine doesn't mean you are alone. The beauty of international connectivity is that nobody is alone on the internet! Use this time to be creative and collaborate remotely to solve problems. A healthy body also means a healthy mind".
Watch the video for the song here. Cynics out there can come up with their own disparaging remarks. Despite everything, our resolve remains strong!