|THURSDAY 23 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Community Media Association, which represents community radio stations across the UK, says that 100 such stations could close as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown unless the government steps in with support. The CMA's warnings follow calls from the commercial radio sector, via its trade group RadioCentre, for similar action... [READ MORE]|
UK radio sector continues to call for government support to stop stations closing
The radio industry has faced an interesting dilemma since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As countries went into lockdown in a bid to restrict and delay the spread of the disease, many radio stations saw their listening numbers go up as people sought extra news and information, and/or appreciated having a human voice between the music.
However, despite that increase in audience size, commercially the radio sector faces the same challenges as everyone else. For commercial broadcasters the big problem is that the advertising industry is wobbling resulting in a slump in ad sales.
Smaller independent and community stations have often been hit the hardest because they are much more likely to rely on advertising and support from small local businesses. Many of those small local businesses aren't operating during lockdown. And even if they are, they are likely facing significant cash flow challenges, meaning any advertising spend is likely on hold.
Some community stations also rely on events and other fundraising projects to bring in money to pay for their broadcasts, and most of that activity has also been halted as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Earlier this month in Westminster, the All Party Parliamentary Group On Commercial Radio sent a letter to various government departments warning that "there is a risk that without further help that some commercial radio stations could end up being forced off-air".
Among the support measures the APPG recommended to ministers were relief on high fixed transmission costs, an extension of current financial schemes to commercial broadcasters and an increase in spend on radio advertising by government departments.
Since then the government has actually adopted the increased ad spend option as part of measures to support the newspaper industry. A government communications campaign to get messaging out about the COVID-19 lockdown was instigated, with advertising spaces and branded content services purchased from a plethora of local and national newspapers.
Launching that campaign - which included a newspaper ad spend of between £35 million and £45 million - government minister Michael Gove said: "Newspapers are the lifeblood of our communities and we need them now more than ever. Their role as a trusted voice and their ability to reach isolated communities is especially vital at this time. With this campaign we are both saving lives by providing essential information to the public, and supporting cherished local institutions".
But what about all those cherished local radio stations? Following the news of that support via ad spend for the newspaper sector, RadioCentre boss Siobhan Kenny called for similar support for broadcasters in a letter sent to media minister John Whittingdale last week.
She wrote: "To date sector specific support has been extremely limited, yet today your colleague Michael Gove extolled the benefits of a new multi-million pound newspaper campaign that will save lives by providing essential information to the public as well as supporting cherished local institutions".
"Like the newspaper industry", she went on, "commercial radio also provides an essential news service and now with even more listeners since the lockdown came into effect. I urge the Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to support substantial additional investment that will ensure a healthy and thriving radio industry for the years to come".
Meanwhile, the Community Media Association also called on government to provide its members with support ahead of a meeting with ministers yesterday. It says that nearly a third of the UK's community radio stations could shut down as a result of COVID-19.
According to Radio Today, the CMA's Chair Danny Lawrence said: "We are extremely concerned that the government will allow up to one-third, by our own estimates, of the UK's 296 community radio stations to fail".
Also noting the government's support for newspapers, Lawrence went on: "Talks so far have centred around using the existing Community Radio Fund worth £400,000 to support up to 296 Ofcom-licensed stations. This is in the light of the £45 million support package offered to the newspaper industry only last week".
With that in mind, he concluded: "A relatively small amount of additional funding for the community radio sector will go a long way to support stations keeping their communities connected and informed during the crisis".
Jean Michel Jarre poses the question "what about eternal copyright to support grassroots creators?"
The debate was primarily focused on the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown on the creative and cultural communities, and how governments and the big content and tech companies could and should support individual creators. But the discussion also considered the wider challenges facing the creator community in the digital world, and measures that could be introduced beyond the COVID crisis to deal with those challenges.
Jarre is also President of CISAC, the global grouping of song right collecting societies, and in that role has been a prolific supporter and advocate of the music industry's value gap campaign, which seeks to reform copyright law to end what the music community sees as the exploitative practices of the major tech firms.
Much of that campaign has been focused on the European Union in recent years, of course, and the reforms to the copyright safe harbour contained in last year's European Copyright Directive. While it remains to be seen what impact those reforms actually have, the music industry would like to see similar measures implemented elsewhere.
Jarre used the UNESCO debate to talk more about the need for copyright reform around the world to deal with the specific challenges posed by the digital age and the domination on the internet of a small number of tech giants. But it was in the Q&A section that he made what was possibly his most radical proposal.
Currently copyright doesn't last forever. The owners of any one copyright have control over their work, and can exploit that control for profit, for a set period of time. When that time period expires we say the work is 'public domain'. No one controls it anymore, meaning any one else can make use of it without getting anyone's permission, or paying any money.
How long copyright lasts for varies from country to country and depending on the kind of copyright. But in Europe sound recordings have protection for 70 years after release, while song copyrights run for the life of the creator and another 70 years.
But what, asked Jarre, if copyright was eternal? However, once the conventional copyright term was up, monies generated by the copyright work would go into a central fund to support the creative community around the world.
"The rights of movies, of music, of everything, would go to a global fund to help artists, and especially artists in emerging countries", Jarre said. "This wouldn't cost anything to anybody and could be done tomorrow".
He then cited Beethoven's 'Ninth Symphony'. "This is in the public domain. It doesn't get any rights. If the rights on the 'Ninth Symphony' were like a recent song, [it would generate income] and this money could go to help European artists, for example".
It's a simple idea in theory, as Jarre himself stressed, though obviously in practice it would throw up all sorts of complications, debates and arguments. How exactly would this fund work? Who would license the works from which the fund benefits? And does the idea of eternal copyright go against one of the fundamental principles of copyright itself?
Among those who have presented the counter arguments to Jarre's eternal copyright idea is Miryam Boston, an IP specialist at London law firm Fieldfisher.
"The idea of 'eternal copyright' is an interesting concept", she told CMU. "As a starting point the idea of a fund to assist struggling artists sounds commendable - the arts and culture are so important to our society and ensuring that artists can continue through this crisis is critical. However, it is difficult to see how in practice the mechanism of an 'eternal copyright' would work and it goes against many of the core ideas of copyright".
Copyright law has to deal with the tricky task of balancing the interests of rightsholders and the interests of users, she says, and having copyright expire after a time period is part of that.
Many people - albeit not generally in the music community - "already consider the duration of copyright to be too long", she went on, "so an extension of the duration could risk stifling creativity". And if, as a compromise, Jarre's fund proposal actually kicked in before the current copyright terms have expired, "this may well be difficult for authors to accept, particularly when they have lobbied for so many years for the period to be extended".
Boston also stressed the complexities that would be involved in implementing this idea. "A key mechanism with copyright is the ability of authors to exploit their works for example by licensing others to carry out certain acts", she observed. "It is unclear how this scheme would work in practice once works entered the 'eternal' phase - this would create a huge administrative burden of deciding when the work could be licensed, to whom, how much for and managing the payment of royalties".
Of course, given Jarre's proposal - while simple - is actually quite radical, such a measure isn't going to introduced in the context of the COVID-19 shutdown. But it is, nevertheless, another interesting idea from someone who follows the ongoing debates around copyright very closely. And whichever side of the fence you sit on, it's definitely interesting to discuss. Well, interesting for the world's copyright geeks, anyway.
You can watch the full UNESCO debate - which covers much more ground than just this - at this link here. Jarre's specific eternal copyright proposal was also posted by UNESCO onto Twitter, so you can see that here.
Salt & Pepa rapper sues Uber
According to the court filing, the crash happened on LA's 101 freeway in 2018. She was travelling in a friend's car when an Uber driver hit them from behind. After that initial collision, a number of other vehicles were caught up in the crash.
In the lawsuit, Denton says that the Uber driver involved in the crash "operated their vehicle negligently and carelessly" and breached "a duty to exercise reasonable care in the operation of their vehicle".
Explaining the addition of Uber itself as a defendant, the filing says that the Uber driver "was acting within the course and scope of employment for defendant Uber Technologies Inc at the time of the incident".
It adds that injuries sustained in the accident required medical treatment, and ongoing pain from said injuries has affected Denton's ability to travel to and perform at shows. Denton is seeking financial reparation for "sustained serious injuries and damages, costs of past and future medical treatment of such injuries, pain, and suffering, and other consequential damages".
Hipgnosis signs Mark Ronson
Founder of the song investment fund, Merck Mercuriadis, says: "Mark has been amongst the most exciting creators in the world over the last 20 years co-writing and producing records for the most important artists of their time including Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa. I have been an admirer ever since [2007 single] 'Stop Me' and it's an honour welcoming him ... to the Hipgnosis family".
'Stop Me', of course, was Ronson's rework of The Smiths' 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before'. Mercuriadis was managing Morrissey at the time of its release.
"I've always had enormous respect for his having such a credible, seminal management roster - artists I was truly influenced by from Nile Rodgers to Jane's Addiction", adds Ronson. "And that same respect has continued with what he's done with Hipgnosis. He's acquired the catalogues of some of my favourite creatives, and I'm excited to be joining those ranks".
Hipgnosis aims to persuade investors to put their money into music rights rather than more traditional investment portfolios. The company reckons that it can provide reliable and significant returns, while bringing in a new source of investment for the music industry. Other catalogues it currently owns include those of Timbaland, The Chainsmokers, Benny Blanco, Kaiser Chiefs, Dave Stewart and Bernard Edwards.
Defected acquires Todd Edwards' catalogue
Although US-based, Edwards was a particular influence on what would become the UK garage sound in the early 90s. His influence spreads much further than that though, and he has also remixed the likes of Justice and Klaxons, as well as working with Daft Punk.
"Todd Edwards' influence stretches extensively through the dance scene", says Defected CEO Simon Dunmore. "From Daft Punk to UK garage you can visibly see Todd's DNA. It's important to recognise his significant contribution by making his work and incredible catalogue available for the new digital generation".
Edwards adds: "For over seven years, the majority of the music that established who I am as a producer was unavailable to access online. I am very happy that my back catalogue will now be available through Defected, it is the perfect label to share the records with my core fans and also open it up to a whole new generation of listeners".
As well as bringing Edwards' catalogue to digital services, Defected is also planning a number of vinyl reissues, and will also continue to release his new material.
New charitable fund launched in memory of Juice WRLD
Named the Live Free 999 Fund, the new initiative will provide funding to organisations working in those three areas. Juice WRLD's label partners, Interscope and Grade A, have already announced donations to the fund.
The rapper, real name Jarad Higgins, died after suffering a seizure while a private jet he had been travelling on was searched by FBI officials at Chicago's Midway Airport earlier this year. It was subsequently confirmed that he had died of an accidental overdose of opioid pain relief medications oxycodone and codeine.
"Young people around the world were truly touched by Jarad's music because he spoke to issues and situations in his music that resonated with them so deeply", Wallace said this week, while launching the new fund.
"I was aware of his struggles with addiction, anxiety, and depression", she added. "We had many conversations about his challenges with these issues. I know he truly wanted to be free from the demons that tormented him. I made the decision upon his death that I was going to share his struggles with the world with the objective of helping others".
"It is my desire to help those who are hurting by providing access to education, prevention and treatment for opioid and other forms of drug addiction", she continues. "It is my hope that Live Free 999 will help people just as Jarad's music has and will continue to touch lives for years to come".
The fund is being launched as part of the longstanding Entertainment Industry Foundation. Find out more here.
COVID-19 SUPPORT INTIATIVES
Spotify's new fundraising button on artist profile pages is now live. Artists can now direct fans to fundraising for a charity of their choice, themselves, their crew or something else. More info here.
Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins will now appear on the BBC's all-star cover of the band's 'Times Like These', which is set to be premiered across BBC Radio at midday today. Does that stop it being a cover now? Either way, the track will be sold in aid of Children In Need, Comic Relief and the WHO's COVID-19-Solidarity Response Fund.
Kobalt has promoted Chris Lakey to SVP Creative Sync. He was previously VP Creative Sync. Presumably his first task in this new role will be making that small adjustment to his business cards in Biro. Seems like a waste to print a whole new batch. "I am more than excited about this new challenge", says Lakey. He may or may not have been talking about the challenge of amending his business cards.
The Beatles will air the sing-a-long version of 'Yellow Submarine' live on their YouTube channel at 5pm UK time this Saturday. If you fancy singing along with 'Yellow Submarine'. Something to do, I guess.
Trivium have released new single 'Bleed Into Me'. Their new album, 'What The Dead Men Say', is out this Friday.
Yungblud has released new single 'Weird!'.
Kelly Lee Owens has released new single 'Night'. The track is taken from her delayed second album 'Inner Song', which is now out on 28 Aug.
Farrah has released new single 'ID'.
Oozing Wound have released the video for 'Surrounded By Fucking Idiots' from their 'High Anxiety' album.
Lamb Of God have released new track 'New Colossal Hate'. Their delayed new album will now be released on 19 Jun.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Billy Joel sued for allegedly stealing house designs
No, none of these. This lawsuit, actually, has nothing to do with his music. He's accused of stealing designs for renovations he's currently having done on his house.
Berry Hill Development says that Joel and his wife Alexis fired the company from a home renovation project at a property in Long Island. But then the company hired as a replacement, NJ Caine Architecture and its owner Neal Stufano, submitted new plans for the renovation work that were nearly identical to those Berry Hill had originally put together for the project.
"The Stufano main house plans are nearly identical to the plans, drawings, internal layout, massing and overall look of the works and plans provided by Berry Hill for and in connection with the project", claims Berry Hill's lawsuit, according to Law360. "The defendants continue upon the site renovations of the premises utilising the works and plans owned by Berry Hill, without Berry Hill's approval, licence or permission to do so".
Berry Hill also says it was fired from the Joels' property renovation project over spurious structural issues, arguing that it was not given time to access and correct any such issues - despite a clause in its contract allowing for this. It also claims that the report used as a reason for its dismissal was dated nine days after it was actually fired.
And as for the IP dispute, Berry Hill says that, after being fired in November last year, it formally told the local buildings inspector and the company through which the Joels own their home, F Scott, that they no longer had permission to use its designs.
After this, however, those new designs were submitted that allegedly infringe its original work. Berry Hill says it then sent a cease-and-desist letter in March, which has gone unanswered, hence the need to launch full-scale legal action.
Berry Hill is seeking court confirmation that its designs have been infringed as well as damages for the infringement. Neither the Joels, nor any of the other listed defendants, have as yet commented. Maybe Berry Hill could just use one of Joel's songs in an advert without permission. Vigilante justice of the copyright infringement kind!