|MONDAY 20 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Record industry trade group the BPI has published its annual big book of stats about the previous year's recorded music market in the UK. And the headline news is that British rappers saw a big boost in 2019. Which I think we already knew, but hey, now we have stats... [READ MORE]|
British rappers take on American counterparts for share of UK music listening
Artists including Stormzy, Dave and AJ Tracey helped to continue a recent upward trend in British rap's popularity. As a result the rap and hip hop genre in general enjoyed its highest ever levels of consumption share, and British acts are performing better than ever within that genre (even if US acts still score higher overall).
In terms of single track consumption, rap and hip hop as a whole made up 21.5% of total consumption in 2019, up from 20.9% in 2018. That means it is the second most consumed genre after the slightly nebulous category that is pop - a big leap considering that a decade ago, in 1999, it made up just 3.6% of consumption.
Within the rap/hip hop genre, music by British artists now accounts for 42.2% of single track consumption (streams and sales). That number was only 15.5% in 2015. As a result, while US artists Post Malone and Lil Nas X had some of the biggest hits of the year, they were closely challenged by Stormzy, AJ Tracey and Aitch.
BPI figures still distinguish between the single and album markets, using Official Charts Company maths to assess album sales. Perhaps unsurprisingly, rap and hip hop take a smaller overall share of that albums market, with just 10.8%, behind rock with 38% and pop with 27.5%. Although this is still an upwards trend, growing from 1.6% over the last decade. Within the genre itself, British acts make up 26.9% of album consumption.
"From the superfan to the most casual of listeners, music plays an indispensable role in most British lives", says BPI boss Geoff Taylor. "This seeming near ubiquity is not achieved without constant innovation and relentless record label investment in the next generation of diverse new talent that keeps British music riding high at home and around the world".
"Through Stormzy, Dave, AJ Tracey and others, UK rap is at a new critical and commercial peak and even though global competition for attention in the streaming age is fierce, artists such as Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Mabel, Rex Orange County and Lewis Capaldi have kept the profile of UK music high with their international chart success", he goes on.
"This, in turn, builds on the platform for exciting new talent such as BRITs Rising Star Celeste and BRIT Awards nominees Freya Ridings and Aitch to join them".
Talking up the role music can play during the COVID-19 lockdown, he adds: "Music has a unique power to connect us all, even at a distance, to reduce feelings of isolation, and to cheer our hearts and to soothe our minds. This will be even more valuable in these troubled times".
If you like numbers - and the BPI's book has many more - then you can buy it from the BPI website now. Stats! Woo!
Freeplay sues Ford in $8.1 million copyright lawsuit
Despite having the word "free" in its name - and bragging about how it offers "over 50,000 songs free for YouTube and more" on its home page - Freeplay charges for the commercial use of its music like any other conventional production music library.
The "free" bit that's bigged up on the home page relates to a specific service for individuals posting videos onto YouTube. But the website stresses that this only applies to "non-revenue generating personal videos" that are only published on the Google video site. In that scenario Freeplay's music can be used for free, with it subsequently generating royalties for itself via YouTube's Content ID platform if and when those personal videos are played.
That said, a licence is still required even for free usage of the music. And for all other uses - including when businesses post videos to YouTube - fees must also be paid.
However, Ford - Freeplay alleges in a lawsuit filed last week - used its tracks without seeking any licence or paying any royalties. Bad Ford! The alleged infringement was first spotted by audio-recognition platform TuneSat, and Freeplay says it has since identified 54 of its tracks being used in promotional content put out by Ford. That said, that could just be the tip of the iceberg.
The music firm adds in its legal filing that "there are likely many other unauthorised uses that have not yet been discovered. For Freeplay to be able to find every use of [its] works on the internet would be impossible. It is nothing short of a miracle that Freeplay has discovered those involved herein. Finding these infringements is akin to finding a needle in a haystack".
"Defendant apparently counted on the difficulty of being caught in deciding to engage in this massive wilful copyright infringement", it went on.
As for damages, Freeplay reckons it should get the maximum statutory damages allowed under US copyright law - ie $150,000 per infringement - hence the eight million total.
"In light of defendant's blatant and wilful copyright infringement", the lawsuit says, "anything less than the maximum statutory award of $150,000.00 per infringed work would not get the attention of a multi-billion dollar corporation that continues to commit widespread infringement. Anything less than the maximum in statutory damages would also not deter future infringement".
Ford is yet to comment.
Jay-Z and Timbaland successfully dispute sample lawsuit from soul singer Ernie Hines
In a lawsuit filed last May, Hines accused Jay-Z and Timbaland of sampling his 1970 track 'Help Me Put Out The Flame (In My Heart)' on the 1998 Jay-Z record 'Paper Chase'. Timbaland was also accused of using the same uncleared sample on another track a year later, Ginuwine's 'Toe 2 Toe'.
When suing the two artists and their record labels last year, Hines said it had taken him two decades to go legal because he has no interest in rap music and therefore had only heard 'Paper Chase' and 'Toe 2 Toe' in 2018.
He also claimed that Jay-Z's own Tidal streaming service, in notes accompanying 'Paper Chase', said that the track sampled 'Help Me'. Thus, he reckoned, proving that the rapper had knowingly infringed his work.
Jay-Z, Timbaland and their respective labels all sort of have the case dismissed, though on different grounds. The artists raised administrative issues with Hines' litigation, reckoning that he had failed to serve them with legal papers in a sufficiently timely manner.
The labels, meanwhile, picked holes in the actual legal complaint. They said that Hines' lawsuit didn't explain in detail which elements of his track had been sampled or where said samples specifically appeared in 'Paper Chase' and 'Toe 2 Toe'. Such detail was required to pursue a copyright infringement claim, they argued.
The judge last week concurred with both the artists and the labels. On the labels argument, he noted legal precedent that says that "a plaintiff must 'specify which aspects of the [offending work] allegedly infringed plaintiff's [work]", adding that "the failure to do so is 'fatal' because the plaintiff 'has the burden of identifying with some degree of specificity how [the defendant's] works are substantially similar to [their] own".
Although dismissing Hines' case, the judge did say the singer could resubmit an amended lawsuit, albeit "conditional on the payment of the costs and attorney's fees incurred by the record label defendants in filing and defending their motions to dismiss".
Santigold signs to Warner Chappell
"Santigold has spent her career breaking musical barriers, blending her versatile artistry with bold, distinctive vocals", say the Warner publisher's CEO Guy Moot and COO Carianne Marshall in a sneaky joint statement. "She's a thoroughly original voice, whose work has spanned records, TV, theatre and film, making her a perfect match for our multi-faceted A&R, sync and creative services teams. We're THRILLED to welcome Santigold to our Warner Chappell family and support her craft as she continues to expand her creative universe".
Name-checking Moot, Marshall and two other Warner Chappell execs [why not pause right now and see if you can guess who!], Santigold herself adds: "It's incredibly refreshing to partner with a company that supports songwriters working across so many different mediums. Guy, Carianne, Ryan [that's who - Ryan Press!], Shani [and that's who too - Shani Gonzales!] and the Warner Chappell team [a nice get out that means you're all winners] provide a really unique environment for innovation and collaboration, and I can't wait to see what we create together".
It's possible I ruined that quote with too many square brackets. Well don't worry, it didn't really matter. All you really need to know is that this deal comes ahead of a number of new projects for Santigold. She's working on a new album, wrote the soundtrack for upcoming musical fantasy film 'The Kyd's Exquisite Follies', and is developing a feature film of her own. Multi-faceted!
Warner Music partners with Africori
Africori is Sub-Saharan Africa's largest digital distribution company, also offering music rights management and artist development services, with 6500 artists and 700 labels on its books.
"We work with incredible artists and have some extremely talented A&Rs spotting fresh new talent; it'll be really exciting to see them tap into Warner Music's global network", says Africori CEO Yoel Kenan. "The music market in Africa is starting to really gain traction and this deal means we're well-positioned to support our artists as new opportunities open up".
EVP of Warner Music EEMEA, Alfonso Perez Soto, adds: "I'm delighted that we'll be working together with Africori - and Yoel Kenan in particular - as they've been pioneers, fighting for the interests of artists and the music industry in Africa. We can harness the power of our global network to take their great African music to a truly global audience".
The deal follows Warner's partnership with Nigerian record label Chocolate City last year.
NTIA calls out the insurers shirking their responsibilities during the COVID-19 shutdown
Everyone operating in the live, hospitality and wider night-time sector has been busying reading the small print in their insurance policies ever since measures to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19 were instigated by governments around the world. Plenty of polices will have included sneaky get-outs for things like pandemics, but the NTIA says that some insurers are being unhelpful even where that's clearly not the case.
The trade group said last week that "many claims are being disputed by insurers based on ambiguous policy wording to avoid sharing the financial burden during the COVID-19 crisis. We have identified a number of insurers we believe are acting unfairly in these circumstances to protect their own interests and have gathered substantial support from the sector to fight these disputed claims".
Among specific examples provided by the NTIA is wine bar company Vagabond, whose MD Stephen Finch says that it has a particularly "rigorous" insurance policy that "essentially stated that in the event we experience business interruption stemming from an occurrence of a notifiable disease within a 25 mile radius of a premises of ours, we would be eligible for our BI indemnity sum". But, despite "clear cut" wording and "indisputable" facts, "I heard from our brokers that the insurer, Eaton Gate, has decided to deny all claims".
Meanwhile, the MD of the Clapham Grand, Howard Spooner, says that - while he is still waiting to hear back from the insurer for his London venue - for a hotel and beach club he also runs on the Isle Of Wight his insurance claim has already been knocked back. The hotel's policy, he says, "has the business interruption clause if we are forced to close by the government [but insurer] NFU Mutual have point blank refused to entertain any claim whatsoever".
The CEO of the NTIA, Michael Kill, adds: "While we appreciate there are some clear cases where insurance claims within the night-time business sector are not legitimate, there are a considerable number of businesses who are being denied valid insurance claims ... by certain insurers in the hope that the current financial situation will deter them from challenging the claim. These actions have not gone without notice and will be challenged at a greater scale in the coming weeks".
In other news, the NTIA has again called on the government to instigate what it calls a 'big freeze' to help night-time businesses and their landlords weather the COVID-19 storm. If introduced, that policy would mean that "all financial commitments to banks in terms of mortgages, loans and financial agreements [would] be frozen [for a time], without effect on any current covenants or balances in terms of interest".
Rent commitments for closed clubs, bars and venues are a major challenge for the night-time sector during the COVID-19 shutdown, the NTIA stressed, but at the same time it's important to recognise that those businesses' landlords face their own challenges. The big freeze strategy would help landlords to help tenants.
Having called for the big freeze policy to be adopted by government at the start of the month, the NTIA says it now has over 200 landlords and tenants from across its sector backing those calls. Kill added: "It is fantastic news to receive such unprecedented support from so many landlords and tenants across the UK, in such uncertain times".
"We are, of course, all in this together which is why the NTIA and many British landlords are asking the Prime Minister and the Chancellor Of Exchequer to adopt the big freeze urgently", he went on. "While the government has come an enormous distance at the very difficult time, we run the risk of losing a huge amount of our businesses who cannot afford and often do not qualify for further debt in addition to their losses due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Landlords and tenants are all businesses that UK Plc relies upon. This is now urgent".
Major Influence's Steve Milbourne and Teresa Raeburn join Blue Raincoat Artists
Milbourne, who founded Major Influence in 2015, says: "It's brilliant to be going into partnership with two actual personal heroes from the music industry".
That's Blue Raincoat founders Jeremy Lascelles and Robin Millar, in case you wondered. "We've worked with them and the wider team, including the brilliant Emma Kamen, through the publishing arm for several years", Milbourne adds, "and their wealth of experience, independent spirit and refusal to commit to the norms of the industry really align with us".
Referencing the label side of the Blue Raincoat group - aka Chrysalis - Milbourne adds: "As our roster has grown and taken more of an international foothold it's great to be able to add more resource from the wider Blue Raincoat and Chrysalis team to our day to day operation".
Lascelles and Millar add in a joint statement: "We've worked with Steve and Teresa for the past four years in our capacity as The Wandering Hearts' publisher. We know them to be smart thinking, hard working, highly committed and super effective managers - and great people. Really delighted to welcome them and their roster of artists to the Blue Raincoat family".
As well as The Wandering Hearts, Milbourne and Raeburn's acts include the Warner-signed L Devine, Sunset Sons, Robin Howl and Okan.
Marianne Faithfull and Iggy Pop among celebrities contributing to new Ancient Mariner reading
The Ancient Mariner Big Read launched on Saturday, with the first in a series of daily readings delivered by Jeremy Irons. This has so far been followed by Jeanette Winterson and Samuel West, with the 150 verse poem set to be divided into 40 parts.
As well as a recognisable voice delivering each section, every reading is complemented with sound design and a piece of visual art.
Three years in the making, the project was conceived to highlight the poem's ecological message, but is coincidentally relevant to the COVID-19 lockdown too, with its exploration of loneliness and isolation.
"Still vitally relevant today, it is no coincidence, perhaps, that this poem is the first great work of English literature to speak to isolation and loneliness - and the possibility of redemption if we mend our ways", says the website for the project.
Daily additions to the poem will appear online through to the end of May. Listen to the first here.