|WEDNESDAY 17 JUNE 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify yesterday welcomed the news that the European Commission has formally opened an investigation into whether or not Apple's rules for app developers making products distributed via its app store are anti-competitive. Meanwhile Apple said EU officials were wasting their time advancing "baseless complaints" from a small number of tech sector freeloaders... [READ MORE]|
Spotify welcomes European Commission investigation into Apple App Store rules
Various digital music companies have complained over the years that if they sign up subscribers via an iOS app they have to do so via Apple's transactions system which charges a 15-30% commission.
For digital music platforms that pay up to 70% of their revenues over to the music industry, that's a major problem. Their choices are basically to either pass the Apple charge on to the customer for in-app subscriptions or to just not allow people to subscribe in-app. But in both scenarios, Apple won't let the streaming service tell customers that they can also sign up via said service's own website.
Of course, Apple Music doesn't have any of these problems. So, for a company like Spotify, depending on which of those two choices you go for, either your service on Apple devices looks more expensive than that of your main competitor, or - unlike your main competitor - becoming a premium subscriber is a slightly complicated process.
Having quietly - and sometimes not so quietly - moaned about this for years, Spotify ramped things up in March last year by filing a formal complaint with the European Commission, arguing that Apple's policies in this domain were anti-competitive and shouldn't be allowed. Such a big issue has this become for Spotify, it even set up a standalone website to air its grievances.
A public war of words them followed between Spotify and Apple. For its part, Apple argued that it had invested heavily in its app ecosystem over the years and Spotify was a key beneficiary of all that investment. Therefore it was entirely fair for Apple to expect Spotify to pay its way if it wanted to use all the functionality of its app platform.
Apple wrote in a blog post last year: "Spotify wouldn't be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem. But now they're leveraging their scale to avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs. We think that's wrong".
The European Commission announced yesterday that it was now formally investigating Apple's app store policies in response to both Spotify's complaint and another from an unnamed e-book and audio-book provider.
Its investigation, the Commission said, would "assess whether Apple's rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules. The investigations concern in particular the mandatory use of Apple's own proprietary in-app purchase system and restrictions on the ability of developers to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps".
The Commission's Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, added: "Mobile applications have fundamentally changed the way we access content. Apple sets the rules for the distribution of apps to users of iPhones and iPads".
"It appears", she went on, "that Apple obtained a 'gatekeeper' role when it comes to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple's popular devices". We need to ensure that Apple's rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books. I have therefore decided to take a close look at Apple's App Store rules and their compliance with EU competition rules".
Responding to the news that a formal investigation was now underway, Spotify said in a statement: "Today is a good day for consumers, Spotify and other app developers across Europe and around the world. Apple's anticompetitive behaviour has intentionally disadvantaged competitors and deprived consumers of meaningful choice for far too long. We welcome the European Commission's decision to formally investigate Apple, and hope they'll act with urgency to ensure fair competition on the iOS platform for all participants in the digital economy".
Needless to say, Apple was less impressed by the development. "It's disappointing the European Commission is advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride, and don't want to play by the same rules as everyone else", it said.
Though it added that it welcomed the opportunity to prove to the EC that it's the good guy here. "At the end of the day, our goal is simple", its statement continued, "for our customers to have access to the best app or service of their choice, in a safe and secure environment. We welcome the opportunity to show the European Commission all we've done to make that goal a reality".
Epidemic Sound announces partnership with Adobe
Announcing those upgrades, Adobe's Claude Alexandre said: "The integration of audio into Adobe Premiere Pro exemplifies our commitment to deliver creatives with a full breadth of the highest quality assets into complete, end-to-end workflows. Creatives need that uninterrupted creativity, and this is something only Adobe can uniquely offer our customers".
Epidemic Sound is probably best known for providing music to creators on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms, although it now has a much wider client base than that.
Because the company, and the composers and musicians it works with, sit completely outside the collective licensing system, it is able to offer clients a one-stop-shop all-rights-covered licence. For creators using a platform like YouTube, that means they can be assured that no other music company or collecting society will seek to block or monetise their videos through the Content ID system.
With most other production music companies, although the library controls both the recording rights and the mechanical rights on the songs side for all the tracks in its catalogue, a performing rights licence is still usually required from a relevant songwriter collecting society.
Epidemic Sound says that, through its integration with Adobe, hundreds of thousands more online creators will now be able to use its music "to bring their stories to life". It has also been confirmed as the official music provider to Adobe's Short Film Festival this year.
Confirming the deal on his side, Epidemic Sound CEO Oscar Hoglund said: "This collaboration was a no brainer for us. There are lots of synergies when it comes to Epidemic Sound and Adobe as both businesses are geared towards one thing; empowering creators".
"This collaboration not only brings opportunities for Adobe's online creators", he added, "it also gives Epidemic Sound's music creators more of a chance to be discovered using Shazam helping them to become emerging artists in their own right. We're looking forward to hearing more from our musicians and creators about how Adobe and Epidemic can work together to keep fuelling their creativity and their success".
EMI Records is "reborn"
So, yes, as Universal Music loudly declared yesterday afternoon, EMI is "reborn", everybody! And with that in mind, I feel I should back up a bit here and provide some context. Would that be helpful? OK, here we go. Context. In 1898 William Barry Owen and Trevor Williams set up The Gramophone Company with the inventor of the gramophone itself, Emile Berliner.
Actually, no, that's too far back. Scratch that. In 1931 The Gramophone Company and its rival The Columbia Graphophone Company merged to create Electric And Musical Industries and... thinking about it, do you know what, that's still too far back. Forget I said that.
In 1956 the company known as Electric And Musical Industries set up a corporate entity called EMI Records to group together the various record labels it had launched and acquired in the preceding decades. Actually, that's a bit dull, isn't it? So no, not that.
OK, in 1973 the EMI Group rebranded its pop labels as EMI Records. Yeah, that's probably a good place to start. Because at that point the EMI brand became a label signing artists, rather than just a corporate entity buying labels. And labels signing artists is what we're interested in.
Actually, the following year EMI Group also rebranded the music publishing catalogues it had acquired under the EMI name, so that the EMI brand was now also a publisher signing songwriters. But forget that. That complicates things. And it's not relevant. Actually, it probably is relevant. Sort of.
But anyway... from the 1970s onwards EMI Records was a groovy record label signing groovy artists. Well, by the 1990s all the groovy artists were signing to the standalone EMI-owned Parlophone Records and Virgin Records, while in the US it was all about Capitol Records. But don't worry, there was still a separate EMI Records label in the UK for the less groovy artists to sign to.
Well, actually, by that point EMI Records had been merged in with the Chrysalis Records label that the EMI Group had bought in 1991 and no one seemed too certain whether to call that particular division EMI Records, Chrysalis Records or EMI:Chrysalis Records. But at some point in the 2000s they definitely dropped the Chrysalis bit of the name once and for all making it EMI Records for certain. Except on Robbie Williams records, for some reason.
But anyway, that neatly brings us to 2007 which is probably where I should have started this story. Sorry, I really didn't plan this out very well, did I? But yes, 2007, that's the year. That's when this story begins. Because that's the year private equity firm Terra Firma bought the entire EMI Group. And that's when a fucking shitstorm began. And by the time the storm was over and all the shit had been mopped up, Universal Music somehow owned all the EMI labels.
Well, not all of them. The pesky competition regulators in Brussels had forced Universal to sell on the Parlophone business and Chrysalis catalogue (minus all the records released by The Beatles and the aforementioned Williams) to Warner Music. But by the end of 2012, Universal had the rest.
Universal bosses then had to work out what to do with all those EMI assets they had just acquired. In the US they stuck most of them under the Capitol name. While in the UK they combined two of their newly acquired brands to launch Virgin EMI, which basically brought together the Virgin Records catalogue and roster they had just bought with their own Mercury Records label.
By creating the Virgin EMI brand in early 2013, Universal could get itself involved in the 40th anniversary celebrations of Virgin Records that were due to take place later that year, getting all chummy with label founder Richard Branson in the process. It also meant that the newly created label division would be distinct from EMI Music Publishing, which had been separately acquired by a consortium led by Sony/ATV the previous year. See, told you the EMI publishing outfit was relevant.
But that was then. And this is now. And who, in 2020, wants a complicated name like Virgin EMI? No one, that's who. I mean, nobody wants to get chummy with Branson anymore after all that "hey there tax payer, you should bail out my airline" nonsense. And EMI Music Publishing isn't used as a brand name anymore since Sony/ATV took complete ownership of the songs business in 2018. And so, as I think I may have mentioned sometime in the relatively distant past, EMI is "reborn".
"Universal Music Group has mapped out a bold new future for one of the most renowned British record labels of all time", the major said yesterday, having first run its press release through a fully-functioning hype machine. "Virgin EMI is being renamed EMI Records with immediate effect", it stated, insisting that this latest label brand reshuffle "marks the rebirth of one of the defining labels in popular music history".
"Growing up in London, EMI was the most iconic brand in British music", added Universal boss Lucian Grainge, having also had a sneaky little play with his company's hype machine. "When we acquired the company, we committed to new investment, innovation, creativity and, of course, leadership. Not only have we delivered on that promise, but we continue to position EMI for the future".
Good times. Talking of leadership, following the somewhat sudden departure of Virgin EMI President Ted Cockle last week, the all new completely different totally reborn EMI Records will be headed up by Rebecca Allen, who jumps on over from running another Universal UK division, Decca Records.
Says she: "Being asked to reimagine one of the UK's most important record labels is an incredible opportunity, as is the chance to work with some of the world's biggest and most innovative artists. Working with artists, and finding and developing the talent of the future, is what drives me and I can't wait to get started with building on what the brilliant Virgin EMI team have already achieved".
Anyone out there who reckons Virgin Records is a much more iconic brand than EMI Records, don't worry, that name will live on as an imprint of the new division. After all, there's a 50th anniversary just three years away and everyone might have forgotten about the whole "billionaire Branson demands a bailout" business by then. But in the meantime, all hail once more Electric And Musical Industries Records. Or what I, ever the traditionalist, will continue to insist on calling The Gramophone Company.
Arqiva agrees support deal for commercial radio stations
The company, which provides many radio stations with infrastructure and broadcast transmission facilities, had already offered a three month waiver of fees to small local independent radio stations. It will now offer a further three month waiver to the stations that benefitted from that, while other broadcasters that are direct customers of Arqiva will have their fees discounted by 50% for three months.
"This is a welcome move from Arqiva and will help to mitigate the immediate concerns of a number of stations that are at risk in the next few months", says Radiocentre CEO Siobhan Kenny. "During this challenging time, commercial radio has been doing an amazing job informing and entertaining the nation, but we know that times are hard. We will continue to do whatever we can to help support these businesses and secure their futures".
Minister for Media and Data, John Whittingdale, adds: "Radio provides a vital service for our communities through these difficult times and I would like to thank Arqiva for their support in suspending transmission costs, which will secure significant savings for stations across the UK through this pandemic. I'm glad we could assist in getting this ground-breaking deal over the line and I will continue to do all I can to support this essential sector".
There have been various calls for sector-specific support - from government and elsewhere - for the commercial radio industry since lockdown began and advertising income fell sharply.
Idles announce new album, Ultra Mono
"We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief - a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in", says frontman Joe Talbot of that new track. "We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts' marching band, armed with a jack hammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did".
Is a jack hammer the same thing as a pneumatic drill? I think it is. But I'm not sure either of those things has what you'd call an engine. Maybe I'm thinking too much about this. The point is, there's an album coming out. Coming out on 25 Sep. Coming out on 25 Sep through Partisan Records. Coming out on 25 Sep through Partisan Records and, er, actually that was everything.
No, wait, new albums mean gigs. Well, they used to. Now they mean livestreams. And this one will have three, which are set to take place in "an iconic studio" on 29-30 Aug. So, if you're missing buying tickets to things, now's your chance. Do so here.
AIM's Independent Music Awards to move online for tenth anniversary edition
In an attempt to recreate the awards ceremony experience for an audience at home, there will be live performances from a variety of artists, with Arlo Parks the first to be announced. As well as that, virtual attendees will be able to buy a special AIM Awards 'pub in a box' hamper ahead of the event.
Once you've drunk all that, just to ensure you get the full awards show experience, you'll have to sort out drunkenly congratulating someone for an award they didn't win while complaining that your work is under-appreciated, all by yourself in front of your laptop. Or maybe AIM could give everyone a random phone number to call in the toilet at half time so that you can share your misplaced congratulations and customary moans with someone else.
Commenting on the COVID-19 enforced reworked awards show, AIM CEO Paul Pacifico says: "As the ceremony evolves into a virtual event, it's wonderful to see that this year's list of nominees is also firmly on the cultural cutting edge. This is an eclectic and talented group of artists that truly represents the breadth, depth and diversity of independent music which these awards exist to celebrate. With our new virtual format opening the door to an exciting range of possibilities, we can't wait to reveal what we have in store for August, and see where this year takes us".
Oh yeah, there are nominations too! Don't go thinking they've ditched those during all this. Awards will still be handed out, people. Pass it on. The two artists with the most nominations are drill rapper Digga D and jazz percussionist Moses Boyd. As I'm sure you predicted. They have three each.
Elsewhere, there's a strong line-up for the newly introduced Best Remix category, and Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen will posthumously receive the Outstanding Contribution To Music trophy.
The ceremony will take place on 12 Aug. Here's the full list of nominees:
UK Independent Breakthrough: Georgia, Digga D, Fontaines DC, Kokoroko, Moses Boyd
International Breakthrough: Bicep, Floating Points, Hania Rani, Idles, Yaeji
Best Independent Track: AJ Tracey – Dinner Guest (feat Mostack), Digga D – No Diet, Flying Lotus – More (feat Anderson .Paak), King Krule – Alone, Omen 3 Lauv – Modern Loneliness, Sorry – Right Round The Clock, Squid – Sludge, Sudan Archives – Confessions, Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela – We've Landed, Yves Tumor – Gospel For A New Century
Best Independent Album: Brooke Bentham – Everyday Nothing, Everything Is Recorded – Friday Forever, Kidjo Ojua – The Mixtape, Kim Gordon – No Home Record, Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter, Moses Boyd – Dark Matter, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen, The Ninth Wave – Infancy, Phoenix Da Icefire & Husky Brown – Panacea, Sarathy Korwar – More Arriving
Best [Difficult] Second Album: Floating Points – Crush, FKA Twigs – Magdalene, Joe Armon Jones – Turn To Clear View, Life – A Picture Of Good Health, Moses Sumney – Græ
Best Independent Remix: Lafawndah – Tourist X Nídia Rework, King Of The Rollers – You Got Me (SPY Remix), Makaya McCraven/Gil Scott-Heron - We're New Again, Apparat - Outlier (Solomun Remix), Marie Davidson - Work It (Soulwax Remix)
One To Watch: Arlo Parks, Blanco White, Caroline, Greentea Peng, Lavida Loca
Best Creative Packaging: Digga D – Double Tap Diaries, Hania Rani – 'Esja' Sheet Music Book, Motörhead – 1979, Sophie – Oil Of Every Pearl's Un-Insides Non-Stop Remix Album, Moses Boyd – Dark Matter LP (Dinked Edition)
Best Independent Video: Black Pumas – Colors, Bombay Bicycle Club – Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You), Flying Lotus – Black Balloons Reprise (feat Denzel Curry), Greentea Peng - Mr Sun (Miss Da Sun), The Howl & The Hum – The Only Boy Racer Left On The Island, Zebra Katz – Moor
Outstanding Contribution To Music: Tony Allen
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Warner Music is co-producing a film about... of course... you guessed it... tennis. Specifically the story of tennis champion Arthur Ashe - the only black man to ever win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. Working with Hyde Park Entertainment, Warner is on board to secure music and provide creative guidance, according to Deadline.
The band formerly known as Lady Antebellum have announced that, following an online meeting with the soul singer Lady A - who objected to them changing their name to hers last week - both parties are now "moving forward with positive solutions and common ground".
A documentary about late Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon - who died of a heroin overdose in 1995 - is set to be premiered online on 26 Jun. Titled 'All I Can Say', the film uses footage shot by Hoon himself to tell his story. More info here.
Alison Mosshart has announced that she will release a spoken word album, titled 'Sound Wheel', on 7 Aug. An accompanying book - 'Car Ma' - will be out the same day. From the album, this is 'Returning The Screw'.
Paris Jackson's band The Soundflowers have announced that they will release their eponymous debut EP on 23 Jun. "I started writing around thirteen when I bought myself a guitar", she says. "I didn't really start sharing or recording it until I met [Soundflowers co-founder] Gabriel [Glenn]. I had never met someone who fit so perfectly with my sound".
Gaika will release new EP 'Seguridad' on 3 Jul, through NAAFI. The eight track release (is that really and EP?) will feature Tayhana, Lao, Omaar, Wasted Fates, Zutzut and Lechuga Zafiro. Listen to 'Of Saints' featuring Tayhana now.
Matthew Murphy from The Wombats has announced that he will release the debut album from his Love Fame Tragedy solo project, 'Wherever I Go, I Want To Leave', on 10 Jul. He's also released new single '5150'. The title of said single, he says, "refers to the California law code for individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness. In this case it refers more to how I occasionally feel a need to escape, regardless of the repercussions".
Devin Townsend recently released an album of guitar improvisations. Now he's gone and put out another one. "I enjoy this process and I find it calming in the face of the relentless negativity and oddness of recent times", he says. "This stuff is meant to simply be background sounds while you do other things".
Hannah Georgas has released her latest Aaron Dessner produced single 'Dreams'. Her album, 'All That Emotion', is out on 4 Sep.
Fryars has released new single 'Virtual Reality Games', featuring Rae Morris, his first new release since 2014. "Unsurprisingly, a lot has happened in the world since I last put some music out", he says. "The volume of information and conversation over the last six years has never been louder - engaging in it has been as overwhelming as it has been enlightening. The song came from a sudden desire a few years back - to become a gamer and ignore everyone and everything".
Her Songs have released new single 'Lost A Little'. Their new EP, 'Toronto Vol 2' - from which the track is taken - is set for release on 14 Aug.
Griff has released new single 'Forgive Myself', accompanied by a video created during lockdown. "Quarantine came and we had no video for 'Forgive Myself'", she says. "So I kinda had no choice but to try and pull off a music video alone in my house. It was definitely the most intense video I've done so far, but I'm quite proud of what we pulled off".
Deema has released new single 'Hash Brown', featuring David Armada, from his upcoming EP 'Chew Your Food'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Lemmy's life to be put on the big screen
"Everything you've heard about Lemmy is probably true", says Olliver, according to Deadline. "Not because he was embracing rock n roll clichés, but because he was creating them. Marlboro Reds and Jack Daniel's for breakfast, speed for dinner – all true. But behind that steely-eyed façade of rock n roll was also a compelling, complicated and lion-hearted man who stayed the course and never gave up playing the music that made him happy".
"We've been carefully developing this biopic since 2013, making sure to stay true to Lemmy, Motörhead band members Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee, and all the other folks that played important roles in Lemmy's life", he adds. "This will be a film they'll be proud of".
The film is being executive produced by Steffan Chirazi and Motörhead's manager Todd Singerman, who say in a joint statement: "It is a story of immense cultural importance. If the last five years of his absence has taught us anything, it is that he was more unique than anyone could ever have known because no one touches the quality and sheer freedom of the man. Greg is a deeply trusted part of our circle, and we are delighted to see this film coming to fruition".
Production on the biopic is set to begin in 2021, COVID permitting.