|FRIDAY 24 JULY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Viagogo has been accused of refusing to give refunds on tickets that were purchased via its platform for UK events that have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19... [READ MORE]|
Viagogo accused of refusing refunds on cancelled events
The secondary ticketing website's terms and conditions offer a full refund or a voucher worth 125% of the original ticket price for any cancelled shows. However, that does not apply for postponed shows. The criticism here is that the often controversial secondary ticketing company has classified some cancelled shows as postponed shows in order to circumvent the refund obligation.
Examples given in a report by Which? are the Wireless, Reading and Leeds festivals, all of which have been cancelled this year. However, because ticketholders are able to carry their tickets over to the respective 2021 events, Viagogo is not offering refunds. This despite the fact that the festivals themselves - all run by Live Nation's Festival Republic - are offering refunds as well as the carry-over option.
Ticketholders have complained that, when seeking refunds rather than access to a 2021 festival, Viagogo is suggesting that they put their tickets up for resale on, well, I think you can guess, but if not, and just to confirm, it's suggesting people put their tickets up for resale on, of course, Viagogo. Which is good for Viagogo, because it'll earn itself a second commission on those tickets if and when they sell.
However, Festival Republic has pointed out that the carry-over option does not actually mean that the 2020 tickets previously touted will remain valid. Rather that new tickets will be issued at a later date, which would mean that anyone listing their tickets for sale at this point would technically be doing so speculatively, which is against the rules.
"We have informed Viagogo that the events are cancelled not rescheduled and that we are also emailing the Competition And Markets Authority to let them know the situation", Festival Republic told Which? "If someone has purchased a valid ticket from a secondary site, it would be accepted for entry, however as no 2020 or 2021 tickets have been sent out yet then it's a case of 'buyer beware' with regard to the validity of any tickets being sold on secondary sites. We always ask that people only buy from authorised sites in order to protect themselves".
Responding to the Which? report, Viagogo said: "This is an unprecedented time for the live events industry, and we understand that customers might be left disappointed by the fact that thousands of events globally are being rescheduled or cancelled. Tickets for these particular events carry over and are valid for the event in 2021, so as per our terms and conditions the customer is not entitled to a refund in this situation".
"We contact customers to update them on the status of events but they are always welcome to get in touch if they have further queries", it added. "Also, the customer always has the option of listing their tickets on the platform if they can no longer attend the new date".
Addressing another complaint in the Which? article - that months after requesting a refund for definitely cancelled shows many people still have not received any money - the company added: "If an event is completely cancelled, the customer is entitled to a cash refund or 125% voucher. In the case of refunds, we appreciate our customers' patience while we process their request".
Secondary ticketing sites like Viagogo, of course, make a much bigger deal of their money-back guarantees, because of the risks associated with buying tickets from touts rather than official sellers. However, incidents like this show that there are limitations to those guarantees. And also that, when shows are postponed and cancelled, there are added complications because there are extra links in the chain between promoter and fan - ie the tout and the resale platform.
Of course, we are in unprecedented times in terms of the number of cancellations and postponements, and both primary and secondary ticketing firms have been struggling to keep up. Quite what the legal responsibility of ticket sellers are regarding cash refunds varies from country to country, and is often different for cancelled shows and postponed shows.
However, where a promoter and primary seller is offering cash refunds for shows - cancelled or postponed, or somewhere in between - it's not a good look if the secondary ticketing platform isn't replicating that offer, even with the challenge of them having to recoup the money from the tout sitting between them and the primary seller.
Court dismisses plagiarism claims made against The Weeknd
This was the litigation involving Brian Clover, Scott McCulloch and Billy Smith, who said that 'A Lonely Night' - from Tesfaye's 2016 album 'Starboy' - ripped off their song 'I Need To Love'. Clover said that he'd first heard 'A Lonely Night' while shopping in the Colchester branch of Topman and that he "instantly knew" he was listening to a rework of his earlier track.
In terms of how Tesfaye or his collaborators might have had access to the trio's unreleased song, that all centred on Universal Music Publishing. The three songwriters had been signed to the publishing wing of London management company Big Life, which was then bought by the major in 2008. A co-writer on 'A Lonely Night', Jason Quenneville, also has links to Universal Music Publishing via a Canadian music firm he works with. So, the theory went, he must have been exposed to 'I Need To Love' via Universal.
However, in a motion to dismiss last month, Tesfaye's lawyers said that Quenneville's co-write credit on 'A Lonely Night' actually stemmed from his work on an earlier unfinished song, a verse from which Tesfaye borrowed for his 'Starboy' track. And that earlier unfinished song was written before Quenneville had any connections with Universal.
That motion to dismiss also claimed that the musical elements shared by 'A Lonely Night' and 'I Need To Love' were also found in lots of other songs. And that one more specific element both songs contained amounted to "three isolated notes spread over three measures, one note per measure". Citing the recent Ninth Circuit court ruling in the big Led Zeppelin song-theft case, Tesfaye's lawyers argued that specific element was not substantial enough to be protected by copyright.
This week Californian judge Percy Anderson concurred on that latter point regarding similarity, while also concluding that the theory presented by Clover, McCulloch and Smith as to how Tesfaye had been exposed to 'I Need To Love' simply wasn't credible enough.
Dismissing the lawsuit, Anderson wrote: "The court concludes that plaintiffs have failed to establish genuine disputed issues of material fact concerning defendants' access to plaintiffs' musical composition or that defendants' musical composition is substantially similar to plaintiffs' work in its protectable elements. As a result, plaintiffs cannot establish a triable issue of fact as to either access or copying to prevail on their claims for copyright infringement".
Also rejecting claims the plaintiffs had made under Californian state law, he concluded "the court therefore grants defendants' motion for summary judgment".
US publishers agree licensing deal framework with TikTok
TikTok has been very busy indeed trying to get all of its music licences sorted over the last year or so, of course, with various short-term and longer-term deals having been agreed, especially on the recordings side. But gaps definitely remain. And, as always, on the songs side there are all the extra complexities over which elements of the copyright are being exploited, and what deals you need with publishers versus what deals you need with collecting societies.
Back in April, NMPA boss David Israelite told the Financial Times that he estimated at least half of the music publishing sector was yet to agree deals with TikTok, even as their songs were being included in videos uploaded by the platform's users. That fact, he said at the time, could result in litigation.
However, the trade body said yesterday that it had now finalised an agreement with the TikTokkers "to offer eligible NMPA members a new, valuable revenue stream. This new partnership will give NMPA members the ability to opt-in to a licensing framework that allows them to benefit from their works included on TikTok and is effective retroactively as of May 1 2020".
Its statement went on: "The agreement is designed to enrich users' experience and the creators of the music made available by the platform by helping them to get their music seen on a canvas with unlimited avenues for expression". Which doesn't really make any sense, but - you know - those unlimited avenues for expression sound like fun.
"We are pleased to find a way forward with TikTok which benefits songwriters and publishers and offers them critical compensation for their work", Israelite added of the new deal. "Music is an important part of apps like TikTok which merge songs with expression and popularise new music while also giving new life to classic songs. This agreement respects the work of creators and gives them a way to be paid for their essential contributions to the platform".
Meanwhile, speaking for those pesky TikTokkers, the firm's Global Head Of Music Ole Obermann said: "TikTok is proud to partner with music publishers and songwriters to enable artist and song discovery, and support revenue opportunities".
"We're excited to partner with the NMPA", he went on, "to bring their member companies on to the platform and help hundreds of millions of people discover and enjoy their songs. We look forward to continuing to work with songwriters to help them use TikTok as a powerful and innovative channel to reach a global audience through a unique format of creation and engagement".
Dance music sector calls for confirmation clubs will be included in government's COVID support scheme
Although ministers made that significant financial commitment to support the cultural and heritage industries earlier this month, it's still not entirely clear how 'culture' is being defined. Music venues are definitely included, because that was specifically stated from the off, but it's not yet been confirmed if clubs that predominantly stage DJ-centric nights will also qualify for support.
It also still remains unclear to what extent other music businesses will qualify too. The Association Of Festival Organisers has been told festivals will be able to apply for grants under the COVID scheme, though the dance music sector is also looking for confirmation that that will include its large-scale events.
Launching the #LetUsDance campaign yesterday, Michael Kill of the Night Time Industries Association told reporters: "The NTIA warmly welcomes the announcement by the government that £1.57 billion will provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations. But we are keen to gain assurances ... that dance music venues and nightclubs will be eligible to apply for the funding and that it will not be reserved purely for venues like the Royal Albert Hall and the West End. The UK is home to a rich and diverse range of institutions, all of whom should be fairly entitled to this investment".
Meanwhile, Greg Marshall from the Association For Electronic Music added: "Nightclubs and festivals are the beating heart of the UK dance scene; providing collective joy to millions of fans each year, providing employment and incomes for an interdependent network of hundreds of thousands of people, while contributing hundreds of millions to the economy. We call on the government to recognise this sector as a significant part of the nation's art and culture, and ensure fair and equal access to the support offered to the wider live music sector".
Inspired by the recent music industry-wide #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, which similarly called for government support for COVID-hit music companies, the #LetUsDance initiative asks dance music fans to post photos of nights and events they attended pre-lockdown alongside a note calling for clubbing and electronic music to be treated the same as all the other cultural sectors when it comes to COVID support. Said fans are also encouraged to write to their MPs to say the same.
Artists backing the scheme include Adam Beyer, Andy C, Caribou, Charlotte De Witte, Daniel Avery, Eats Everything, Fatboy Slim, Four Tet, Danny Rampling, Maya Jane Coles, Massive Attack, Mistajam, Norman Jay, Pete Tong, Roni Size, Simone Butler and Thom Yorke.
Taylor's swift new album
"Most of the things I had planned this summer didn't end up happening, but there is something I hadn't planned on that DID happen", she told fans yesterday, before announcing this new album. That being the thing she hadn't planned.
The record is made up of "songs I've poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into", she went on. "I wrote and recorded this music in isolation but got to collaborate with some musical heroes of mine".
Those musical heroes include The National's Aaron Dessner, who co-wrote and/or produced eleven of the album's tracks. She also worked with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, Jack Antonoff and someone called William Bowery. Who's William Bowery? Well, many fans assume it's a pseudonym for her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. Or her brother Austin. Or, for some reason, Joni Mitchell.
"Before this year I probably would've overthought when to release this music at the 'perfect' time, but the times we're living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed", she concluded. "My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That's the side of uncertainty I can get on board with".
In an Instagram post, Dessner said: "I was excited and honoured when Taylor approached me in late April about maybe writing some songs remotely together. I had been isolating with my family but writing a ton of music in the first months of quarantine, which I shared. I thought it would take a while for song ideas to come and I had no expectations as far as what we could accomplish remotely. But a few hours after sharing music, my phone lit up with a voice memo from Taylor of a fully written version of a song - the momentum never really stopped".
"I've rarely been so inspired by someone and it's still hard to believe this even happened", he went on. "These songs came together in such a challenging time ... I'm very proud of all these songs and profoundly grateful to Taylor Swift for inviting me into and trusting me in her process. She is one of the most talented, hardworking and deeply caring artists I've ever encountered. There's a palpable humanity and warmth and raw emotion in these songs that I hope you'll love and take comfort in as much as I do".
Yeah, so, the album is out now, and I'm slightly confused why you are still reading this and not listening intently to it at this point. Well, as you've read this far, you might as well watch the video for 'Cardigan'.
Mercury Prize shortlist announced - what a list (apart from that one act)!
Anyway, the shortlisted records were all announced on BBC Radio 6 Music yesterday, as is the norm. And, as is also the norm, the overall winner will be announced at a live ceremony in September. Either that or going against the norm, they won't. No one seems to know yet. While various other September award events have already been called off, what with all that COVID-19 nonsense, organisers of the Mercury Prize are waiting a bit longer before making a final decision on that. However, they admit, "it is likely that a live awards show will not be happening in September as planned". I probably should have said that straight off. This paragraph has gone on a bit long.
Whatever, I should probably tell you who's on this shortlist shouldn't I? Although, maybe before that I should - or at least could - let you know what the judges have said about that shortlist.
In a joint statement, all thirteen judges - so that's Anna Calvi, Annie Mac, Danielle Perry, Gaz Coombes, Gemma Cairney, Jamie Cullum, Jeff Smith, Jorja Smith, Mike Walsh, Phil Alexander, Tshepo Mokoena and Will Hodgkinson - all of them, every single one, said: "In these difficult and uncertain times the Hyundai Mercury Prize is proud to celebrate the remarkable power of music to inspire and exhilarate". And why not? Sounds like fun.
"The albums on the 2020 shortlist", they went on, still in perfect unison, "showcase a great diversity of sounds, styles, ambitions and experience. What these albums share is an irresistible urgency, a belief that their music matters more than ever".
Exciting! So, this shortlist. Well, the twelve artists on the shortlist are... oh, actually, I should just tell you what Geoff Taylor says first. Him being the boss of the BPI, which organises the Mercury Prize these days and all. It would be silly not to hear what Geoff Taylor has to say.
And that is this: "Extraordinary music for extraordinary times. The Mercury Prize is back, reminding us that the creative brilliance of our artists is a constant, even when the world is turned upside down".
"We believe it's all the more important this year for the Mercury Prize to shine a spotlight on twelve exceptional albums of the year", he goes on, "spanning an eclectic gamut of genres and uniting the biggest names in music with the most exciting new talent".
"These records tell stories", he reckons, "dig deep into the personal experiences of their creators and represent the best in contemporary music. We congratulate all the shortlisted artists and thank our expert judges and our partners, Hyundai and YouTube Music, for supporting this year's prize".
I wish everyone would stop mentioning the sponsors. Bloody sponsors! I don't know what they've got to do with it. They didn't write any of these albums. Not even one. You know who did write them though? Well, no, you don't, because I haven't told you yet.
And I'm sure you've all been diligently waiting for the CMU report on this and didn't check out the shortlist anywhere else. How do I know this? Because I'm sure you all hang on for our report simply as a show of solidarity, you know, in protest of the fact organisers insist on publishing their shortlist just as we're pressing send on the CMU Daily, when it's too late for us to include it in that day's bulletin.
Sometimes we run a made-up shortlist to acknowledge this fact. Which is fun. Although this year the list was already partially announced at the point we hit send at 11am. So that ruined that. I don't know what grudge the Mercury Prize has against CMU, but it's getting old now. Maybe it's because we moaned about the fish that time.
Anyway, you don't need to know any of this. This is all backroom stuff that we should keep to ourselves. So, I'd request that none of you read the last two paragraphs of this story. Or, if you're a rule breaker and you do read them, please forget everything we just said. It was unprofessional of me to bring all that up. Let's just get on with it and type out that shortlist shall we?
Oh, but first, I should tell you that, for the first time ever, there are more albums by women (or bands fronted by women) than albums by men (or bands of men) on the shortlist. So that's a positive development. Though Rina Sawayama isn't included. Which is annoying. Because I was planning to write a whole thing about how she should definitely win. Now that I've realised that she's not on the list, it makes it all the more annoying that that one awful act has been nominated. Honestly, I'm livid.
She's not on the Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize shortlist either, but I think I'm fine with that. There is some crossover in terms of the artists that appear on that shortlist and the Mercury shortlist, but at least that one awful act isn't up for the Popjustice Prize. Actually, now I've brought it up, I should probably tell you who is on the Popjustice shortlist, shouldn't I? You know, for comparison. So, here we go, Popjustice's shortlist for the best British pop track of the last year is:
Gracey - Alone In My Room (Gone) Bastille and Alessia Cara - Another Place Little Mix - Break Up Song Bree Runway and Yung Baby Tate - Damn Daniel Charli XCX - Forever The 1975 - If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know) Ella Eyre - New Me Dua Lipa - Physical Raye - Please Don't Touch Jessie Ware - Save A Kiss Ella Henderson - Take Care Of You Harry Styles - Watermelon Sugar
Probably Harry Styles, I'd say. Great song that. But we've not got any time here to be blathering on about how great that Harry Styles track was. Because we're here to talk about the Mercury Prize shortlist. And that's not about celebrating individual songs, is it? That's a prize focused on the art of crafting a full album. Creating a complete body of work that sits together as a whole.
Some people thought the album would be dead by now, didn't they? But I think this shortlist shows that it's not. Even if Rina Sawayama's album isn't on there and that one terrible act's album is.
You know, now I've come to think of it, there's no jazz album on there either. And no folk album. I know it's not the first time that's happened, but it still seems strange. Actually, it's ages since there's been a folk album in the Mercury shortlist, now I think about it. Maybe there just isn't any good folk out there. Or jazz. Or metal. There's still no metal on there. There's never any metal on there. One year they should put a bit of metal on there.
The Rina Sawayama album has bits of metal on it. Maybe that's why it's not on the list. But that just makes its omission more unforgivable. Because sticking that record on there would have been an easy way to get a bit of metal into the shortlist for the first time without having to go full metal. Use it to lay the groundwork so that something a bit more full-on metal could then be added next year. You see, these are the things a sensible Mercury judging panel would be considering.
Anyway, time's getting on now and I've got other things I need to do. And I think we've covered everything we need to cover, haven't we? Congratulations to all the acts on the shortlist!
COVID-19 SUPPORT INTIATIVES
Bandcamp has announced that it will continue its Bandcamp Fridays initiative for the rest of the year. Initially conceived as a one-off event in March, the direct-to-fan platform will waive its cut of revenues on sales for one Friday a month until the end of 2020, in a bid to help artists through the COVID-19 crisis.
One Direction have released a video marking the tenth anniversary of their formation. So you can stop asking now.
Thundercat has written a song for the Cartoon Network's new revival of 1980s animated series 'ThunderCats'. Announcing this during a virtual Comic-Con panel session, he explained that his stage name comes from his love of the show, saying: "It became a name that was given to me because in the middle of working on stuff anytime somebody needed to find me, my friends would go 'find the guy with the 'ThunderCats' shirt'".
Bon Jovi have released new single 'Do What You Can', the finished version of the song Jon Bon Jovi wrote with contributions from fans during lockdown. "I am a witness to history", says he. "I believe the greatest gift of an artist is the ability to use their voice to speak to issues that move us".
Jaden Smith has released new single 'Cabin Fever', which he says is his "vision of a quarantine love song. It's made to be listened to when the sun is setting and you're feeling good".
Ronan Keating has released new solo album 'Twenty Twenty'. It marks the 20th anniversary of his debut album, which is happening in the year 2020, obviously. So that's the title explained. He describes it as "a greatest hits of brand new music". Here's first single 'One Of A Kind', featuring Emeli Sande.
Planningtorock has released the video for 'Drama Darling', from her new EP 'PlanningtoChanel'.
Earl Sweatshirt has released new track 'Ghost', taken from a new expanded edition of his 2019 EP 'Clay Feet'.
Ulver have released new single 'Nostalgia', taken from upcoming album 'Flowers Of Evil'.
Jaga Jazzist have released new single 'Tomita', taken from their new album 'Pyramid', out on Brainfeeder on 7 Aug.
Suzanne Ciani has released 'Music For Denali', a previously unreleased 1973 documentary soundtrack. "It was recorded at Rainbow Recording, which is the studio I found and shared with recording engineer Richard Beggs, who then sold it to Francis Ford Coppola after I fell in love and quickly moved to LA", she says. "If I had stuck around I would have probably ended up doing sound for Coppola".
(Hed) PE have released new single 'First Blood'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Dave Franco to play Vanilla Ice in upcoming biopic
"We have been in development for a while but we are inching closer and closer to pre-production", Franco tells Insider, adding that his approach to the Vanilla Ice film is similar to that of 'The Disaster Artist': "With that movie, people expected us to make a broad comedy where we make fun of ['The Room' director] Tommy Wiseau, but the more real we played it, the funnier and [more] heartfelt it was - that's the tone we want for this one as well".
Vanilla Ice himself - real name Rob Van Winkle - has been assisting Franco in preparing for the role. He explains: "Rob is such a sweet and intelligent guy and he's been super helpful in the process of getting all the details correct and making us privy to information the public doesn't know. Just talking to him I can't help but think about the rabbit holes I'm going to go down to get ready for the role".
Speaking to Van Winkle himself is probably a good plan, because the other option would be to read his short (but still very entertaining) 1991 autobiography 'Ice By Ice: The Vanilla Ice Story In His Own Words', which was fairly light on detail. Also, it was written too early in his career to cover his later achievements, you know, like working with Jedward.