|THURSDAY 18 JUNE 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A memo from Live Nation in the US has outlined some of the changes the live giant says it needs to make to its artist agreements once the live industry gets back into action after the COVID-19 shutdown. As well as a drop in fees and guarantees of around 20% across the board, the live music firm says it is also seeking to transfer some of the risks associated with staging events onto the artists... [READ MORE]|
Live Nation memo confirms promoters want artists to share the risk when the live industry swings back into action
The live industry, of course, has been hit incredibly hard by COVID-19, and that negative impact continues to increase the longer shutdown runs for, as even those companies that had the luxury of surplus cash start to run out of money. Uncertainties remain as to when shows and festivals will be allowed to properly return, and there are serious concerns that government support schemes will end before the gigs restart.
The extent of the problem does vary around the world. Different countries are taking different approaches when it comes to relaxing COVID-19 restrictions and regarding what physical distancing should continue even once larger gatherings are allowed again. Meanwhile, everyone continues to watch those countries where things have started to get back to normal to assess the risk of a second spike in COVID-19 cases.
However, looking beyond shutdown, promoters - as the primary risk-takers in the live industry - are considering how they can reduce those risks as things get back to normal. They will, after all, be operating after potentially a year of no income, and with the constant risk that any second COVID-19 spike could result in another round of cancellations. Many promoters also feel that, at the upper end of the industry, things have swayed too much in the artist's favour over the last decade, so there is enough flexibility in the system for those artists to share the pain.
The big promoters have been in talks with the big booking agencies in recent weeks about what that might mean for artist contracts in 2021, including for rescheduled shows and festivals for which 2020 deals had been previously agreed. The Live Nation memo now doing the rounds summarises some of the changes it plans to make, especially for festivals.
Aside from artist guarantees in 2021 likely to be around 20% lower than what had been agreed for 2020 shows, there could also be changes with payment terms. Although perhaps most interesting is what the memo says about cancelled shows.
For shows cancelled due to poor ticket sales - possibly as a result of ongoing COVID-19 concerns among the fanbase - the artist will only get 25% of their fee. With shows cancelled due to 'force majeure' - which means major unforeseen events including, of course, a second spike of COVID - the artist would get no fee at all. That would also apply if a change to physical distancing rules made a show unviable.
Meanwhile, "if an artist cancels its performance in breach of the agreement, the artist will pay the promoter two times the artist's fee". Which is quite a bold demand. And with all that in mind, artists are being told that they should seek their own cancellation insurance. Assuming they can afford to do so as insurance premiums shoot up.
The Live Nation memo concludes: "We are fully aware of the significance of these changes, and we did not make these changes without serious consideration. We appreciate you – and all artists – understanding the need for us to make these changes in order to allow the festival business to continue not only for the artists and the producers, but also for the fans".
Measures such as these are not unexpected, and everyone understands the challenges of getting the live industry back up and running. Though, obviously, there will be concerns that changes don't negatively impact artists lower down the hierarchy whose live activity operates on much tighter profit margins and who are also dealing with a significant drop off in income as a result of shutdown. The impact will also vary from country to country where contractual conventions on the live side differ.
However, it seems certain that headliners will have to take a cut and incur more risk in 2021 at least. Many promoters may be hoping that that rejig remains more long term, though some agents reckon that once things return to something nearing normal, competition in the market place - especially in the festivals domain - will ultimately see things swing back in the favour of those artists who shift serious numbers of tickets.
Beyonce and Jay-Z sued over Black Effect monologue
In a lawsuit filed with the courts in Florida, Stines says that she was engaged by the two musicians when they recorded a promotional video for 'Everything Is Love' in Jamaica in March 2018. Stines recruited various local dancers to take part in the video and was on site when it was being filmed. It was while on set that her comments about love were recorded.
Stines says that she was forced to sign a contract by reps for Beyonce and Jay-Z and, despite her protestations that she wanted to have the agreement reviewed by a lawyer, she was told there wasn't time and she had to sign it there and then. But, she adds, those reps assured her that it was a standard contract and was needed in case footage of her appeared in the final edit of the promotional video.
At no point, she says, was there any suggestion audio from that footage might be used in a track. And she didn't even know that the conversation that appears in 'Black Effect' had been recorded.
Employing some dramatic language, the lawsuit states: "To the shock, horror and chagrin of Dr Stines, ['Everything Is Love'] featured the unauthorised exploitation of her vocals on a song known as 'Black Effect'. Dr Stines' horror and chagrin was compounded when she realised that not only were her vocals featured on the recording ... but she also discovered that she was not even credited by the defendants for providing her vocals. This discovery left Dr Stines feeling violated and as if the defendants had 'artistically raped' her".
Stines claims that the use of her voice in 'Black Effect' infringes copyright, breaches her publicity rights and constitutes unjust enrichment. The lawsuit adds: "Dr Stines' vocals are featured in the first 60 seconds of the recording, which is approximately five minutes and thirteen seconds long, [which means] her vocals are featured in roughly 19.17% of the recording. The defendants' use of Dr Stines' vocals in the recording is, and was, unauthorised and Dr Stines is therefore entitled to compensation".
Reps for Beyonce and Jay-Z are yet to respond.
Sosa hits back in Spotify disputes, says streaming service's claims "replete with assumptions and guesswork"
Sosa - whose founder Jake Noch has also set up his own collecting society called PRO Music rights - sued Spotify last year. It accuses the streaming firm of "unfair and deceptive practices", mainly in relation to Spotify's decision to remove the Sosa catalogue from its platform. That move also lost Sosa its membership of indie label digital rights group Merlin.
Spotify countersued last month, arguing that it dropped the Sosa catalogue because it suspected the label - and Noch - of fraudulently manipulating streams of that music in order to boost their share of the monthly royalties pot. In a strongly worded legal filing, Spotify said there were "blatant signifiers of artificial streaming" linked to Sosa's recordings, concluding that "Jake Noch is a fraudster who has engaged in a multi-year campaign to generate artificial streams on Spotify's online music service".
Sosa and Noch had actually pre-empted most of Spotify's claims in their original lawsuit. After Spotify's legal filing, Noch added: "Spotify's claims are laughable and blatantly false". He went on: "A company such as Spotify, that is built on the theft of intellectual property, puts every single one of its shareholders at risk. I foresee Spotify becoming the next Enron".
In its new legal filing, Sosa presents a plethora of legal arguments which, it says, render all of Spotify's claims redundant and therefore the streaming firm's countersuit should be dismissed.
The filing states: "Plaintiff in the underlying case, Sosa, filed suit against Spotify for failing to fulfil its duties and obligations as a music streaming service, wilfully removing Sosa's content for anticompetitive reasons and obliterating Sosa's third-party contracts and expectations. In retaliation and to further Spotify's ongoing smear campaign against Sosa and Noch, Spotify asserts counterclaims against Sosa and purported third-party claims against Noch".
"Both sets of claims fail", it then adds. "Spotify alleges Sosa and Noch created 'fake' Spotify accounts to artificially stream music on Spotify's service. However, the counterclaims and third-party claims are procedurally defective, legally deficient, short on specifics, and replete with assumptions and guesswork".
After talking through all of those alleged deficiencies in some detail, the Sosa filing concludes: "Counterclaim defendant Sosa and third-party defendant Noch respectfully move this court to enter an order dismissing Spotify's counterclaims and dismissing/striking Spotify's third-party complaint with prejudice".
We now await to see if Spotify can find any deficiencies in the arguments Noch and his company employ regarding the alleged deficiencies in its arguments in response to his arguments. Legal fun times!
Ghostly International becomes part of Secretly Group
Under the deal, which they are calling a "strategic partnership", the Ghostly International label and its publishing company Ghostly Songs will both join Secretly, with the latter administered by Secretly Publishing. Ghostly founder Sam Valenti IV will become a managing partner of Secretly, while the Secretly Group's owners Ben Swanson, Chris Swanson, Darius Van Arman and Phil Waldorf become partners at Ghostly.
"It's a very personal affair, music", says Valenti. "It's hopes and dreams and ambitions for artists. It's their lives, and yours. Trust and intention are focal to even starting, let alone finding new partners. Since Secretly started distributing Ghostly International in 2013, it's been a dream to work alongside an ethical and creative family of labels, not to mention [the fact it's been] our most productive phase as a label. It has given us the confidence to keep building".
Van Arman adds: "Our belief is that the most important contributions to culture come from individuals and small and medium-sized businesses. Rather than growing just for growth's sake, we choose to work with extraordinary artists and creative partners like Ghostly, to help truly nourish their creative works while maximising their impact".
Ghostly International celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.
SiriusXM acquires Simplecast
If you don't know, Simplecast is a platform that allows podcast makers to distribute podcasts around the web and then get back lots of stats to look at. Since launching in 2013, it has become particularly popular with various big brands that have podcasts to get out into the world, attracting the likes of Netflix, Facebook, Medium and Kickstarter.
The two companies have not disclosed how much money changed hands in this deal, but SiriusXM reckons that teaming the podcast platform up with its existing advertising network AdsWizz - which it acquired in 2018 - will make it all worthwhile.
"The Simplecast solution, paired with the award-winning monetisation platform of AdsWizz, the ad tech subsidiary of SiriusXM, creates an end-to-end solution that enables creators to publish and generate revenue from their podcasts, all in one place", SiriusXM says in a statement.
Simplecast CEO Brad Smith adds: "From the beginning, Simplecast's mantra and mission was to remain laser-focused on podcast creators - building the best tools for publishing and insights. The opportunity and alignment with AdsWizz allow our product - and our customers - access to a powerful monetisation platform. Two best-in-class platforms are now able to align with the shared mission of helping publishers succeed, while each team continues to focus on their respective areas of expertise".
For those of you who still feel weird about this not being a Spotify deal, it's alright, Spotify has done a new podcasting deal as well. It's signed up Kim Kardashian West to launch a new show about her work with The Innocence Project. That's the US charity which seeks to exonerate people who have been wrongly convicted and lobbies for reform of the criminal justice system. Which is I'm sure the podcast you imagined when you read her name.
Machine Head team up with Killswitch Engage for George Floyd protest song, call on "more of our metal community to speak out"
"I wrote and sang the lyrics [of 'Stop The Bleeding'] on Wednesday 27 May 2020, the day that the four officers who murdered George Floyd were (originally) not charged with anything", says frontman Robb Flynn. "This day was engulfed in protests and riots across America. I drove into Oakland, past large demonstrations already happening and in a fury wrote down everything I was feeling after watching the horrific footage. Within hours, what I wanted to say, what I needed to say, had been recorded in the song".
He adds that he recorded the vocals over an instrumental track that was actually made back in December 2018. It was a track, he says, that he'd already been trying to arrange for Leach to provide guest vocals for.
"I had been speaking with Jesse for maybe six months about singing on the song, as it always had a little bit of a Killswitch vibe to me", he says. "Unfortunately - or fortunately - our schedules hadn't lined up, but with the subsequent lockdown from coronavirus, we had time to make it work".
"After what happened to George Floyd, I sent him the lyrics I'd written and he replied saying he was '100% on board'", he goes on. "Jesse is someone I consider to be a pioneer and in many ways, one of the men who changed the face of metal. His contribution to this song made it extremely powerful and it's an honour to have him be a part of it".
Leach adds: "Being asked to be part of this song is an honour. Yes, because it's Machine Head, but more importantly, this is a message that needs to be heard and spread".
"These issues concerning abuses of power and racism are timeless", he notes. "I have written about these previously and I'll write about them again. I think Robb really nailed this one, both lyrically and sonically. My hope is this song helps awaken those who hear it. Robb has been a frequent voice of the voiceless in these times, so teaming up with him is a no brainer".
"We need more of our metal community to speak out on social issues and help raise awareness, especially during these crucial times", he goes on. "Music is the soundtrack to our lives, it transcends language and culture. This is the reason we as musicians need to do our part to spark thought and discussion on these types of issues. We can make a difference through music and we can help stop the bleeding".
Speaking about the second track on the release, Flynn explains: "The lyrics for 'Bulletproof' were finished in the aftermath of not only the Ahmaud Arbery murder at the hands of white supremacists, but everything twisting out of control in our world. The isolation and craziness of the pandemic, the lockdown protesters storming government buildings with AR-15s, as well as the blatant lies and conspiracies pouring out of our political leaders' mouths, hour by hour, day after day".
Machine Head will donate "a significant portion" of streaming income from 'Stop The Bleeding' to the Grassroots Law Project, which is providing legal representation to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Sony/ATV has named Dinraj Shetty director of its new Indian office. "I am delighted with this new role of leading Sony/ATV India, where I will be looking at creating many opportunities to harness its creative fraternity of labels, musicians and songwriters", says Shetty. "I look forward to giving them a platform to showcase their talent through the Sony/ATV global network to the world".
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING
Three new board members were appointed at the AGM of the UK's Music Managers Forum yesterday: Kerry Harvey-Piper, Sumit Bothra and Vicky Dowdall. For the first time, the trade body's board is equally split along gender lines. The MMF also formally launched its previously announced ReBuild programme that seeks to provide financial support to managers that have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 shutdown. Info here.
Alex G has returned to his original stage name, having gone by (Sandy) Alex G since 2017 due to a clash with another artist. So that's nice for him. Exactly why this has happened now isn't clear. But it has and we thought you'd be keen to know.
Tim Minchin has released new single 'I'll Take Lonely Tonight'. "When I started playing this tune on tour early last year, it became clear that it was really affecting people", he says. "I thought this temptation tug-of-war might be something experienced more by touring musos... but I kept getting people – men and women equally – telling me that it really hit home for them". His new album, 'Apart Together', is set for release in November.
Deftones have announced that they will release a compilation of remixes of tracks from their 'White Pony' album - titled 'Black Stallion' - to mark the classic LP's 20th anniversary. Of the remixers, frontman Chino Moreno revealed: "We have a bunch of different people on it, some that actually inspired some of the writing of the original album". One of those, the band confirmed, is DJ Shadow.
The Killers have released new single 'My Own Soul's Warning'. They've also announced that their postponed UK tour will now take place in May and June next year.
The Streets have released new single 'I Wish You Loved You As Much As You Love Him', featuring Donae'o and Greentea Peng. "This is a summer club song", says Mike Skinner. Very poor timing, Mike.
Grimes features on Ashnikko's new single 'Cry'.
J Cole has released new track 'Snow On Tha Bluff', which may or may not be about Noname.
Kojey Radical has released new single 'Same Boat', featuring Mereda.
Arca has released new single 'Mequetrefe'. Her new album, 'Kick I', is out next week.
Yemi Alade has released the video for recent single 'Boyz'.
Songhoy Blues have released new single 'Worry', taken from their upcoming third album. "The harshness of life still weighs on our societies and sinks many young people into a dead end", say the band. "'Worry' is a positive energy that Songhoy Blues want to be a ray of hope for humanity. 'Worry' is about not stopping fighting because at the very end you will find the light".
They are back with new single 'Count Me In'.
Pnau have released new single 'Lucky', featuring Vlossom. Frontman Nick Littlemore says that the track "came at a time of deep reflection during winter in Sydney last year" and "represents that most golden future, shimmering just in the distance like over a frosty hill, approaching".
Metronomy have released the video for 'The Light', from last year's 'Metronomy Forever' album.
All We Are have announced that they will release their third album, 'Providence', on 14 Aug. From it, this is 'Not Your Man'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Radiohead put "fragmentary time waster" up for sale
The band follow These New Puritans into the now - I'd say - burgeoning experimental rock jigsaw market. And while TNP put out two puzzles each with 500 pieces, Radiohead are going all in with a single 1000 piece mega-brainteaser featuring artwork by Com Lag.
Enticing fans, the band say this: "Bored? Got nothing to do? Fed up? Nothing on the TV. No way! What you gonna do? Gonna get a jigsaw innit. Tell me more, tell me more! A Radiohead jigsaw. Has it got loads and loads of pieces? A thousand. Is it really difficult and will it take ages? I reckon so, yeah. Sounds great! Is it affordable? Depends on your finances. Is there a chance you could still be bored after completing it? Yeah probably. Sounds amazing!"
Yes, depending on your finances, £29.99 may or may not seem reasonable for this particular item. That's a per-piece rate of 0.02999p, compared to These New Puritans' 0.046p. I'm not sure how helpful it is breaking it down like that, but you do get more jigsaw for your money with Radiohead. These New Puritans gave all their profits to the NHS though, while Radiohead are seemingly keeping all theirs for themselves.
I guess the question here is, do you want another Radiohead album (funded by jigsaw money) more than you want a functioning healthcare system (funded, for some reason, partly by jigsaws rather than just taxes)? Well, the TNP puzzles are sold out anyway, so you can give your money to Radiohead guilt free.
Best of all, the jigsaws aren't going to be sent out until late August, so you'll probably have forgotten all about it by then and it'll be a nice surprise. We'll also probably be deep into our second or third COVID-19 lockdown by that time, so it'll give you something to do once that happens. Check it out here.