|THURSDAY 25 JUNE 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: American music industry campaign groups the Artist Rights Alliance and the Future Of Music Coalition have both called on members of US Congress to investigate the recently circulated memo from Live Nation regarding changes to its artist contracts once the COVID-19 shutdown is over. Those proposed changes are "exploitative", they argue, and the result of "monopolistic behaviour" by the live music giant and its biggest shareholder Liberty Media... [READ MORE]|
Artist groups call on Congress to investigate Live Nation's controversial post-COVID memo
The memo in question set out a number of changes Live Nation said it would need to make to its artist deals once the live music industry swings back into action post-COVID. It was specifically dealing with changes to artist deals for festival bookings, although many assumed that many of the changes could or would be applied to other live activity led by the live music firm.
Among the changes was confirmation that fees across the board would drop by about 20%, while artists would also have to share more of the risk associated with putting on shows. They'd receive no fee at all if a second COVID spike or a return of social distancing rules meant another round of shows got cancelled. And if it was the artist who cancelled a performance, they'd have to pay the promoter 200% of their agreed fee.
The backlash to the memo among the artist and management community was possibly stronger because of the tone of the document, which very much implied these demands were fixed and non-negotiable. However, in an interview with Pollstar, the boss of one of Live Nation's festival divisions, C3 Presents, insisted that the memo contained proposed changes rather than take-it-or-leave-it new contract terms.
Charles Attal said that the proposals were part of ongoing conversations about how the industry at large can tackle the challenge of getting live music going again after an unprecedented shutdown.
And while Live Nation probably would need to lower the payment guarantees it made to artists in 2021, if its festivals sold well, 'clawback' terms in contracts would often provide top-up payments that would bring the artist's fee back up to 2019 levels. He also said that, with hindsight, the '200% of your fee' penalty for artists that cancel shows shouldn't have been in there.
The letter from the Artist Rights Alliance and the Future Of Music Coalition has been sent to the Judiciary Committee of the House Of Representatives in Congress.
Rejecting some of Attal's claims, the two groups said in a statement yesterday: "In an attempt to profit off the pandemic, Live Nation has implemented unfair 'take-it-or-leave-it' contract terms for 2021 that radically cut performance fees and expose artists to absurdly high penalties in the event of any pandemic-related delays or cancellations".
In its letter to the House committee, the groups add: "Liberty/Live Nation should not be allowed to exploit its multi-market monopoly and impose overwhelmingly one-sided and exploitative terms on performers under cover of a worldwide pandemic emergency".
If you are wondering why Liberty Media - which controls about a third of Live Nation's stock - is getting a specific name-check here, that's because of another campaign being led by the Artist Rights Alliance.
Liberty also has a controlling stake in US satellite broadcaster Sirius, which in turn owns personalised radio service Pandora. And - most importantly - it has a small take in America's biggest radio company iHeartMedia, which it is seeking to significantly increase.
Back in May, the Artists Rights Alliance called on the US Department Of Justice - in its role as the country's competition regulator - to block any move by Liberty to take a bigger or even controlling stake in iHeartMedia.
And a petition now set up by the campaign group in response to Live Nation's controversial memo not only calls on Congress to investigate Live Nation and Liberty's "monopoly abuses and exploitation of the pandemic to extract pay cuts and other concessions from working artists", but also for the "DOJ to reject Liberty's acquisition of iHeartMedia".
SoundExchange wants remuneration rights of US performers in UK put in post-Brexit trade deal
Shall we deal with the moderately tedious and slightly complicated copyright law technicality first? Yes, let's. Though as we do, remember this: SoundExchange reckons that this moderately tedious and slightly complicated copyright law technicality costs American music-makers millions of dollars a year.
And that's just in the UK. Because this moderately tedious and slightly complicated copyright law technicality occurs elsewhere in the world too and, after some rigorous tapping on a calculator, SoundExchange's maths team declared that worldwide this moderately tedious and slightly complicated copyright law technicality costs American music-makers $330 million a year. Which is quite a lot. Though, thinking about it, that would be a math team, wouldn't it?
Anyway, time for the moderately tedious and slightly complicated copyright law technicality. Are you ready? OK, well, copyright law allows copyright owners to control how their content is used in a number of different ways. That usually includes the performing and communicating of their work. The music industry usually refers to the performance and communication elements of the copyright as the performing rights or the neighbouring rights.
Because of this element of the copyright, radio stations, TV channels and any business that plays recorded music in a public space needs to get licences from and pay royalties to the music industry.
Twice actually, because they are using both recordings and songs. It's the recording bit we are interested in here. In most countries copyright law says that when recordings are used in these ways both copyright owners and performers must get paid. These licences are issued and royalties managed by the record industry's collecting societies. So in the UK that is PPL.
Now, the record industry has separate collecting societies in each country. Those societies generally only issue licences in their home markets. All the collecting societies around the world are then joined up through reciprocal agreements.
So if a label or performer only wants to directly join their local collecting society, they can still be part of all the other blanket licences issued by societies elsewhere in the world, earning royalties whenever their recordings are broadcast or played in other countries. This set up means that rights and royalties constantly flow around the network of collecting societies across the globe.
So that's fun, isn't it? Though, FYI, we haven't got to the moderately tedious and slightly complicated copyright law technicality yet.
Here it is. The exact rights provided to copyright owners - and/or performers - by copyright law sometimes vary from country to country. For example, in the US, copyright law does not provide a general performing right for sound recordings, only a digital performing right. So in the US, only online and satellite broadcasters need to get a licence and pay royalties, not AM/FM radio stations or pubs, clubs, bars, cafes and so on.
This creates an interesting question. Because of the limitations of US copyright law, British labels and performers receive no royalties when their recordings are played on the radio or in public in America. So what should happen when the recordings of American labels and performers are played on the radio or in public in the UK? Should they get that money or not?
The answer to that question depends on international treaties and - most importantly - how each country has chosen to interpret those treaties. When it comes to performer payments, the UK applies what is sometimes known as the 'reciprocity rule' or the 'mirror test'. Which means non-UK performers are only due payment in circumstances where UK performers get paid in those non-UK performers' home country.
So, with America, UK performers only earn from online and satellite radio in the US, which means US performers only earn here from the same uses of music here. Therefore they are not due payment from AM/FM radio and public performance (oh, unless a recording was made in the UK, which is an extra bonus copyright technicality for you, provided at no extra cost).
Anyway, SoundExchange, the US record industry's collecting society, reckons that's not fair. Nor a correct interpretation of international treaties. And it wants things to change so more international royalties will flow in from other countries for its members.
And with that in mind, earlier this year it wrote to the US Trade Representative requesting that it fix this issue through trade talks, in particular in relation to the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Japan and the Netherlands. In some of those countries (not the UK), the 'reciprocity rule' negatively impacts on labels as well as performers.
Now the society has teamed up with the American Association Of Independent Music, American Federation Of Musicians, Future Of Music Coalition, Gospel Music Association, Music Artists Coalition, Music Managers Forum US, Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA and musicFIRST to try to force a change of policy on this issue in the UK by putting something into that post-Brexit trade deal. That something is referred to as "national treatment provisions" by fans of moderately tedious and slightly complicated copyright law technicalities.
Launching the Fair Trade Of Music campaign, SoundExchange chief Michael Huppe said: "Equal treatment is fundamental to international law, and this principle should extend to all music creators, no matter where they are from, who deserve to be paid fairly for their work. Our goal is to end discrimination in the global trade of music".
"That should be a priority for our entire industry", he added, "including recording artists and labels on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world. The ongoing negotiations between the US and UK present an opportunity to make significant progress toward that goal".
SoundExchange also confirmed that it had sent another letter to the US Trade Representative on this issue, but this time also signed by all those other trade organisations too.
It stated: "Last week, the US organisations sent a joint letter to US Trade Representative Robert E Lighthizer urging him to make full national treatment for sound recordings a priority in future trade agreements, particularly in the ongoing US-UK negotiations. In this letter, the music industry groups pledged to work with Ambassador Lighthizer to achieve full national treatment for American music creators in all future trade agreements".
And, the society also added, this is an issue where progress is being slowly made around the world, which is why the current post-Brexit trade talks should be used to address the problem in the UK. "US music creators are gaining fair trade protection as national treatment provisions become more common in international trade agreements", it said.
"In February, SoundExchange filed comments asking the US Trade Representative to take action against countries that refuse to give American recording artists and labels full national treatment. In a report released in April, the USTR recognised the importance of securing national treatment for US and other rights holders. In March, the government of Canada fully implemented the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which grants national treatment protection to US music creators in Canada".
So there you go, a moderately tedious and slightly complicated copyright law technicality. Hey America, we'll give you national treatment when it comes to the equitable remuneration rights of your performers if you keep your hands off our NHS and throw all your chlorinated chicken into the Atlantic. Do we have a deal? Simple. They should put me in charge of trade talks.
SACEM to represent Korean songs society's digital rights across Europe
When it comes to things like radio, concerts and the public performance of music, collecting societies generally only issue licences in their home countries. All the societies around the world are then joined up through reciprocal agreements, so the French society can include Korean songs in their deals with French radio stations, and vice versa. Rights and royalties then flow around the world.
However, when it comes to streaming, song right societies - especially in Europe - have started issuing multi-territory licences, so that they have a direct relationship with streaming services in multiple countries, cutting the local societies out of the equation.
With Anglo-American repertoire, many publishers now do the streaming deals themselves also on a multi-territory basis, though usually in partnership with a society - or a society-owned hub like ICE - that is already issuing multi-territory licences.
SACEM is very active in that space, working with Universal Music Publishing, Warner Chappell, Wixen and indie publisher coalition IMPEL, while also repping the digital rights of Canadian society SOCAN in the European market. And now the Korean repertoire of KOMCA - including all that uber-popular K-pop stuff that you all like - will be part of that operation.
Announcing the deal, SACEM boss Jean-Noël Tronc says: "This new mandate marks an important step for SACEM, which is pursuing its international development by creating an unprecedented bridge to Asia. I am proud that our South Korean counterparts saw SACEM as the partner of choice to manage their online rights and thank KOMCA's President, Mr Hong Jin Young, for his confidence".
The there mentioned President of KOMCA, Hong Jin Young, adds: "I believe that SACEM is by far the most prominent organisation in the field of art and culture. [Our] partnership with SACEM will be of great help in increasing stable royalty collection for K-pop [across Europe]".
NTIA says revisions to UK lockdown rules unworkable even for businesses who qualify
The trade group - whose membership includes clubs, venues, bars, restaurants and other businesses that are part of the night-time economy - says that, having digested all the nitty gritty details behind this week's government announcement on the revised COVID rules, "the fourth of July might end up being more 'Doomsday' rather than the 'Independence day' that the Prime Minister is envisioning".
The group's CEO Michael Kill says government guidance on the revised COVID lockdown rules will plunge many of the businesses in the sector he represents "into more chaos and confusion". He adds: "We are disappointed that the government doesn't seem to have taken into account concerns shared from consulting industry associations and trade bodies".
"The numerous concerns that will undoubtedly arise around interpretation and terminology could have been prevented if the government had taken the time to listen to and understand our sector's unique circumstances and constraints, and tried to incorporate what we believe are sensible requests", he goes on. "We are now grappling with operational guidance that places unworkable conditions on customer behaviour. This will make it highly challenging for the businesses to re-engage", meaning many such businesses "will simply be unable to open and trade profitably".
"Safety of customers and staff is, of course, paramount, but the costs of implementing some of these measures in such a short period of time is costly and also a huge challenge. The reality is, a large number of hospitality businesses are now having to reevaluate their position with a prospect of redundancies and further financial pressure on the horizon".
As with the clubs and venues more formally excluded from the relaxation of lockdown rules, many of the hospitality and entertainment businesses that could in theory re-open but in reality cannot fear that the government's COVID-related financial support schemes will now wind down before they are actually able to start trading again.
Which is to say, the government will use this week's announcement to push a "things are back to normal" narrative, when - in fact - for the live sector and wider night-time economy, things are nowhere near back to normal.
"This could cripple the sector", Kill concludes. "We are already on our knees. Left unaltered, and without further government financial support, this may well be the final straw for large numbers of the sector".
Vince Power takes over Dingwalls
"[Dingwalls] has such a rich history, though in recent years it has been up and down. It needs a lot of attention but I am excited about it", Power tells the Camden New Journal. "There are still some things we have to work out – how we manage the lockdown situation and what it means for live music. We may not be able to open until New Year. We are working through plans of what we can do there. We are very excited".
The venue is actually owned by Camden Market but was until recently operated by a company called Enhanced Hospitality. It only took over the venue in March 2019, promising a big renovation plan at the time. Prior to that, it was run by the Stonegate Pub Company.
Power is best known for building up the original Mean Fiddler group of venues and festivals, which was then sold on to Live Nation in 2005. He has been involved in an assortment of live music ventures since then, though the highest profile of those - Music Festivals plc - ultimately collapsed in 2012.
Confirming that Power was now getting involved in Dingwalls, Camden Market owner LabTech told the CNJ: "We can confirm that leading live music operator Vince Power is set to take the reins of Camden Market's legendary Dingwalls ... Plans for the re-opening are yet to be confirmed but we are truly excited to welcome a newly reinvigorated music venue to Camden Market".
When Dingwalls will be able to re-open - certainly as a fully-fledged music venue - is, of course, unclear. While the UK government began lifting COVID-19 shutdown regulations this week, those changes specifically do not apply to live performance venues and there is currently no timeline for allowing gigs and shows to resume.
Some might even say that Power's ambition to get things going again at the start of 2021 is optimistic. Because, even when the government does get round to setting a timeline for allowing gigs and shows to return, ongoing social distancing rules may make things tricky. And there is always the risk of a second spike of the virus and/or a reluctance of ticket-buyers to return to venues until a vaccine is found.
Though, as with everything COVID-19 related, really we just don't know. But whenever we finally get to gig time again, it will be interesting to see what Power does with his new Camden base.
COVID impact on commercial radio ad sales more severe than anticipated, RadioCentre says
Trade group RadioCentre has published a short report in response to an inquiry made by Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee. It says that commercial radio stations have played an increasingly important role in supporting communities during the pandemic, but that the slump in ad income has made trading very difficult.
According to RadioCentre's research, ad sales income for the second quarter of 2020 were down about half year-on-year. But some local stations that rely predominantly on local advertisers have been hit even harder, as many of those local businesses went into shutdown and stopped advertising entirely. For those stations, ad income overall could be down as much as 90%.
Meanwhile, the trade group reckons, listeners have been relying on its member's broadcasts even more during lockdown. It says that a survey conducted by research company DRG found that "a significant proportion of commercial radio listeners (38%) are tuning in for an extra one hour and 45 minutes per week on average" since lockdown began.
Reasons given for this uplift in listening include: "staying in touch with the outside world (90%), keeping informed (89%), companionship (84%), making them feel happy (77%) and delivering trusted news (64%)". So, more listeners, but less money.
RadioCentre acknowledges that the commercial radio sector has benefited from the government's general COVID-related financial support schemes and that media regulator OfCom has taken a sensible approach to enforcing each station's programming and production commitments during the crisis. It also references the deal done with infrastructure company Arqiva to bring down the transmission costs of radio stations, which ministers helped to negotiate.
However, it says, challenges remain. Radiocentre CEO Siobhan Kenny states: "Commercial radio stations have done an amazing job over the last few months, informing and entertaining people during a really difficult time. As we start to move out of lockdown these valuable services face an uncertain future, so continuing support from government, OfCom and our friends in Parliament will be essential".
In its report, RadioCentre again proposes that the government increase its ad spend with the radio sector to help stations overcome the negative impact of the COVID crisis, mirroring support provided to the newspaper industry. It states: "Radiocentre has highlighted to the Cabinet Office that there is a case for significantly enhanced government advertising on radio, both on COVID-19 messaging and other public information campaigns".
It goes on: "Advertising on commercial radio is easy to consume, listening levels are strong and it reaches a broad cross-section of the population (reaching 62% of BAME audiences, 67% of C2DE audiences). A significant increase in government investment in radio advertising – with a broader range of creative executions – would enable effective public service messages to get out quickly to large audiences across a wide range of the population. This increased investment would not only provide useful and effective communication but would also help keep radio stations on air".
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Universal Music's DIY distribution platform Spinnup has expanded into Japan. As with the platform elsewhere, one of the draws of the service for DIY artists is the chance to be heard by Universal A&Rs. "We're very excited to be able to find and support new Japanese talent through Spinnup and to invigorate the independent music scene here", says Universal Music Japan boss Ichiro Tamaki.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Nuclear Blast-signed metalcore band Suicide Silence have teamed up with Bandsintown to develop a virtual world tour. The band will livestream gigs timed for the convenience of 29 cities around the world. As well as a 90 minute performance, each show will also have a Q&A and various other bits of digital content. "Livestreaming can be more than just going live for free on a platform", says Bandsintown Managing Partner Fabrice Sergent. "It can be a multifaceted, extremely engaging yet intimate experience".
Becky Hill and Sigala have released new single 'Heaven On My Mind'. The song was co-written by Hill and MNEK.
Jónsi has announced that he will release his first solo album in a decade on 2 Oct. Titled 'Shiver', it was co-produced by AG Cook, and features guest vocals from Liz Fraser and Robyn. Here's first single 'Swill'.
Jpegmafia has released new anti-Trump track 'The Bends!'
Kelly Lee Owens has released new single 'On'. "This is perhaps the most intimate and personal song I've written so far", she says. "The two halves of the track reflect upon sad acceptances of the truth and then the joyous aftermath of liberation that can come from that".
Aminé has released the video for recent single 'Riri'.
Kenzie has released new single 'Exhale', featuring Sia.
Hurts have announced that they will release their first album since 2017, 'Faith', on 4 Sep. "If you'd have told me when we started it, how coherent, powerful, and authentic it is, many months later, I probably wouldn't have believed you", says the duo's Adam Anderson of the album. "At one stage, I thought we had no chance". From it, this is first single 'Suffer'.
Song Sung have released new single 'The Mind's Eye'. "It's provocative and resilient and in a way, quite anthemic", say the duo of the song. "We can fall down together, but in defiance, we will stand up forever".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Take That stage musical to become movie
Assuming the film sticks to the story laid out by the stage show, it tells the tale of five women who were best friends, bonded by a love of Take That, as teenagers. Over the years they grow apart, but come back together as adults to fulfil a dream of seeing the group perform live.
On stage, the band themselves are played by actors who were originally selected through BBC TV show 'Let It Shine'. Without the excuse of not being available every single day of the week to perform live, many will now be wondering if Take That themselves will perform in the movie. This isn't clear.
The band's younger selves feature throughout the stage show, which presents some logistical issues if they were to appear in the film, and that's before you even get to the problem of two members no longer being part of the group.
Anyway, I'm sure they'll work all that out. For now, Jonathan Kier, president of Sierra/Affinity, the company making the film, says this: "'Greatest Days' is a captivating story featuring the iconic music of Take That that we know will transport and resonate with audiences around the world".
Take That themselves add: "'Greatest Days' is a film dedicated to all those who have supported us throughout the years. It puts a mirror on our audience – it's a celebration of our music but it's literally all about the fans and their friendships".
"Our fans have been on a 30 year journey with us and we have an incredibly strong bond with them, so seeing that they will be represented on screen by such a strong, talented cast is incredibly exciting", they continue.
Oh yeah, the talented cast. As far as we know, the film hasn't actually been officially cast as yet. Although Ruth Wilson, Cush Jumbo and Rosamund Pike are said to be in negotiations to act in it. The screenplay will be written by Tim Firth, who wrote the original stage show. And, obviously, there will be songs by Take That. Lots and lots of songs by Take That. What fun.