|TUESDAY 4 AUGUST 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: An invitation for crew members on a Killers tour to take part in a sexual assault more than a decade ago was an "attempt at a joke or a 'hazing'", say the band's lawyers. An investigation found that no actual assault took place, but conceded that joking about such a thing on radios used by the band's crew was unacceptable. As a result, the band have said that they will establish a new system to make it easier for staff to report issues and concerns while on the road... [READ MORE]|
Invitation for Killers tour crew to take part in sexual assault was an "unacceptable" joke, investigation finds
The accusations were originally made in a blog post written by sound engineer Chez Stock in 2018, however at the time neither her name nor The Killers were specifically mentioned in the piece. Stock then named the band last week. In the blog post she detailed a number of disturbing recollections from the band's 2009 US tour, which had been one of her early jobs in the industry.
Among other things, she detailed being bullied by her direct supervisor and hearing various discussions among her fellow crew members of inappropriate sexual activity and assault on the tour. She also explained how, following a show in Milwaukee "the [front of house] engineer came over [the] radio and said, 'Hey guys, there is a girl set up in Dressing Room A'".
That radio message went on "put your name on the list outside the door with your radio channel and we'll call you when it's your turn", she wrote. "I knew I was not the target audience of this all call, and I am pretty sure I audibly shuddered while my stagehands just laughed and asked if they could put their name on the list".
The Killers' lawyers at legal firm Reynolds & Associates confirm that Stock joined the tour for three weeks in 2009. Some of what she heard discussed by other crew members - including being paid bonuses for bringing back girls from the audience for band members to have sex with - was "an in-joke based upon urban legends of tours from an earlier era - ie roadie folklore - and not something any of [the crew] actually did, were ever asked to do, or ever attempted to do".
However, they say that their investigation did establish that the radio broadcast Stock heard did go out on a radio channel used by audio staff. It was traced back to the band's former front of house engineer, who was "a problematic workmate" fired from their team in 2013.
It was also this person who had bullied Stock, they said, agreeing that "a pattern of poor management by this person, and a series of sexist remarks and rude comments, caused [Stock] great distress".
Addressing the radio broadcast directly, the lawyers say: "It was established that the radio transmissions about a 'line up' in 'Dressing Room A' was broadcast by the aforementioned FOH engineer on the audio team's radio channel only. The rest of the touring party - including band and tour management - did not hear this broadcast".
Further interviews established that the alleged assault had not actually taken place, rather it was the "problematic" front of house engineer's "attempt at a joke or a 'hazing' - either directed at members of the audio crew, who were busy loading out outside the venue, or for the entertainment of guests he had invited to the show and were with him at the time of his broadcast".
The new statement does not address Stock's other allegation that crew member names were then subsequently called out over the radio - implying it was "their turn" - or that members of the crew subsequently discussed what they claimed to have done with the woman. Although they do say that some other staff on that tour recalled that "vulgar language was sometimes used and that crass jokes were made and perpetuated on occasion" by "a small faction of crew".
Through their investigation, lawyers say they were also able to identify a female guest who was given a backstage pass at that particular show by the front of house engineer, who confirmed that "she did not experience, witness or hear about a sexual assault", adding that she had also "attended 2009 Lollapalooza festival later that year on the band's production guest list".
Ultimately, the legal team say, they "were unable to find any corroboration whatsoever of a sexual assault at the Milwaukee venue", but nonetheless ask anyone who might have "corroborating information of an event as described in the allegation" to get on touch.
They then note that, regardless of whether or not the alleged assault, or other claims of inappropriate sexual activity, actually took place, the language used by some members of the band's crew on the 2009 tour was unacceptable.
"Tour management stated [during the investigation] that they have become increasingly vigilant on this front over the years and provided documentation verifying that aggressive or derogatory language by crew results in dismissal", they say. "Tour management and band members recognise that sexual language can be weaponised to make women feel unsafe in a predominantly male environment. They consider continued vigilance on this issue to be their responsibility".
As well as this, they say that the investigation also highlighted the lack of a proper system for crew members to report issues or concerns while on tour.
"The band believe there should always be an easy way to report a situation that is concerning to anyone on the road with them, no matter their status or how briefly they are joining for", says the statement. "They expressed regret that the temporary crew member was made to feel unsafe and bullied during her brief time with the band and understand that it is not always feasible for touring crew to raise concerns with their immediate superiors".
As a result, "The Killers plan to take immediate action for future tours" and "have directed their team to establish a new system wherein the entire touring party are furnished with an off-site independent HR contact to call to report concerns of any nature, anonymously if they wish".
In a social media post following the publication of the lawyers' statement on behalf of the band, Stock said that she had "conflicting feelings" about the outcome of the investigation. "I am grateful that they, as an organisation, have taken my experience seriously and were moved to internally investigate and potentially lead the industry in a restorative manner so this never happens again", she wrote.
"I was surprised to hear that the radio call that went out during our load out was an attempt to 'haze' the audio crew mid-tour", she goes on. "But I am beyond relieved that the tour was able to find [the] woman [who was backstage at the show] and she is reportedly fine".
"My blog [post] is what I experienced", she adds. "And if 'hazing' is the reason why I heard about the bonus incentives and otherwise, this reflects the larger issue in this industry - that 'hazing' towards the only women on the technical crew was normal, expected, accepted and not questioned by anyone, including myself".
"I hope that this moment is a learning experience for the entire industry", she concludes, "and that we are able to come together in [a] comprehensive manner to have these discussions that are so long overdue. I hope that we are able to work together to develop a framework of reporting mistreatment and harassment that protects workers and fans and demands accountability of the people in power".
Roundhill sues TuneCore over unpaid mechanicals on tracks it distributes
This is basically an alternative manifestation of the much discussed mechanical rights mess in the US. It's also a dispute that arises because, from a music licensing perspective, download stores in the America work differently to download stores in most other countries.
Obviously, whenever recorded music is delivered digitally, two sets of copyright are exploited, the recording rights and the song rights. The record label or music distributor that provides each track to the digital service only usually controls the recording rights. So somebody needs to work out what song is contained in that recording and what songwriters and/or music publishers need to be paid whenever that song is downloaded or streamed.
In most other countries, download platforms like iTunes have their own licensing relationships with the music publishing sector, sometimes with publishers, and sometimes with collecting societies. The platforms report download sales to those licensing partners who then report back which tracks contain their songs. The platform then pays whatever portion of the download sale is allocated to the song, rather than the recording, to the publisher or society, which in turn pays the songwriter.
However, in the US download platforms pay both the recording royalty and the song royalty to whoever provided the track. It is then the label's responsibility to pass on the song royalty - what is referred to as the 'mechanical royalty' - to the relevant publisher or songwriter.
There is a compulsory licence covering the song rights in this scenario, so everyone knows what money the publisher/writer is due, but the label needs to work out which publisher to pay.
That can be a tricky task, though, it's worth noting, that's also how things worked with CDs. So most labels were set up to do this rights administration work, usually by outsourcing it all to a company like the Harry Fox Agency.
But what about all those self-releasing artists who came along once the digital music revolution was underway? The distributors those self-releasing artists use to get their music onto iTunes et al, like TuneCore, are usually pretty clear that - if an act records a version of someone else's song - passing on the mechanical royalties to the relevant publisher or songwriter is the artist's responsibility.
But many of those distributors also provide an up-sell service that handles all that mechanical royalty admin - in TuneCore's case that service is called TuneLicensing.
TuneCore's terms state: "For digital download sales in the United States, your payment typically includes the mechanical royalty on the underlying composition. If you do not own or control the underlying composition(s) in your sound recording(s), it is your obligation to pay these publishing royalties to the person or entity that does".
However, according to Roundhill, not all the tracks uploaded into iTunes and other download stores via TuneCore were properly licensed on the songs side. If the mechanical rights admin isn't done, the compulsory licence doesn't apply, and the sale of those recordings (and, for that matter, the copying of those recordings onto TuneCore and Apple's servers) constitutes copyright infringement.
The key question here, of course, is can TuneCore be held liable for that infringement given its terms pass responsibility for sorting out the mechanical rights onto the user? Roundhill reckons it can.
"TuneCore, Believe Digital and Believe SAS are directly liable for copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, and vicarious copyright infringement based on the reproduction and distribution of the Round Hill compositions to third parties without a licence", the music publisher said in a lawsuit filed last week.
That claim is partly based on the fact that Roundhill allegedly told TuneCore that tracks on its system contained unlicensed songs. The lawsuit goes on: "TuneCore, Believe Digital and Believe SAS were provided with a list identifying specific Round Hill compositions and associated sound recordings that defendants did not have a licence for".
"TuneCore, Believe Digital, and Believe SAS had full knowledge of the ongoing infringement of the Round Hill compositions on Apple iTunes and other third-party download sites", it goes on, "yet continued their unlicensed distribution and reproduction of the Round Hill compositions".
It's not the first lawsuit testing whether music distributors can be held liable when their clients upload unlicensed music. The Harold Arlen estate, and others, have sued a number of distributors over tracks where the recording rights are also infringed, meaning that the compulsory licence for the song rights cannot apply, even if the relevant paperwork is filed. However, those cases also name the download stores and labels as defendants.
Obviously, in copyright cases - especially in the US where, like Roundhill, you sue for statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work - you want to sue someone with money. And with smaller indies and especially self-releasing artists, the distributor will have much bigger pockets than the company or person actually uploading the unlicensed music.
As an interesting aside, Roundhill was presumably pretty well briefed on how TuneCore operates when prepping this litigation. Roundhill works with Audiam on the administration of its mechanical rights in the digital domain. That being the rights agency founded and until very recently led by Jeff Price, also a co-founder of TuneCore, whose departure from the DIY distributor before its acquisition by Believe was somewhat acrimonious.
We now await to see how this case proceeds. Although, even if Roundhill wins and TuneCore is deemed liable for unlicensed songs on its servers, the long-term impact will likely be limited. Downloads accounted for just 8% of US recorded music revenues in 2019 and, with streaming, the licensing system in the US is the same as elsewhere, in that platforms rather than the labels sort out the payment of mechanical royalties. Or not, as the case may be.
Michael Eavis "moving heaven and earth" to make Glastonbury 2021 happen, but COVID uncertainties means it's not guaranteed
Most people in the touring and festival sectors are currently operating on the assumption that live music at all levels will return to something nearing normal in 2021 because, well, you know, you have to really don't you?
At the same time, it does seem that more people are now starting to take seriously what was previously considered as an unnecessarily pessimistic position, which is that some elements of live music - large-scale events in particular - may not be properly back until 2022.
What is certain is how little is certain at the moment as the COVID-19 shutdown continues at one level or another in multiple countries, and lockdown measures return in some places where they had previously been lifted as a result second spikes in the virus.
Even where live events are allowed to return, there remains much debate as to what social distancing rules will have to stay in place, and what impact that has on the nature and commercial viability of shows.
On top of all that, it's still unknown how many consumers will be put off attending large gatherings even once they properly resume, and it remains to be seen to what extent possible increases in international travel and insurance costs impact on the profitability of live music events.
All of which is why Eavis - while still very much working on the assumption that his festival will return next year after a forced year off in 2020 - is nevertheless preparing himself for the worst.
In an interview with ITV News he mused that while outdoor events for around 500 people may be entirely possible even with social distancing rules in place, an event with 250,000 attendees poses all sorts of extra challenges.
"I'm still hoping I'm going to be running next year and I'm going to be moving heaven and earth to make sure that we do", he went on. "But that doesn't mean it will necessarily happen". Thinking that a return to norm in 2021 is assured "is just wishful thinking, really", he added.
However, even if the worst does happen, he now seems certain that his festival can weather the COVID-19 storm, despite previously telling The Guardian that a second cancellation in 2021 would likely bankrupt his event.
Asked in the new interview whether he worries about the future of the Glastonbury Festival, he says "I am confident that it will survive", adding "it will come back - probably stronger actually".
However, while stressing again that work very much continues for a 2021 edition, he nevertheless reiterated, "the only certainty I think is the year after, 2022, to be perfectly candid, so we might have to wait for two years maybe".
Snapchat announces licensing deals to bring music to Snaps
Actually, can you all just stop chatting entirely for a second? I'm trying to talk here. How rude. Have you shut up yet? Right, good. Here we go. I've got things to tell you.
Fans of 2016 label marketing meetings may feel a certain nostalgia for all that "Who here understands the fuck out of Snapchat? How the fuck can we use Snapchat to promote this shitty record?" chatter that pre-dated all the "What we gonna do on TikTok this week?" chatter, and the more recent "Fuck, Donald Trump's gonna ban TikTok, what we gonna do? Where we gonna go? Who knows how Triller works?" chatter. It was a golden era for music marketing, on that we can all agree.
And, if you are one of those music marketeers nostalgic for the easier times that were 2016, three things. First, the kids are still using Snapchat. I'd really like you all to know that. Actually, it's Snapchat who'd really like you all to know that. Second, if you ever put actual music in your promotional Snapchat posts in the past, you were almost certainly infringing some copyrights somewhere. And third, not anymore, because the Snapchatters have got themselves some music licences.
Specifically, according to an announcement yesterday, they have deals with Warner, Universal, indie-label repping Merlin and the US National Music Publishers Association. The Warner deal covers both songs and recordings. The Universal deal only currently covers songs. And the Merlin and NMPA deals are template agreements that their respective members can choose to opt into if they so wish.
We knew Snapchat was busy negotiating music licences last year, as it sought to compete with the licensed Instagram and slowly-getting-licences-in-place TikTok. As with its competitors, for Snapchat, getting some music licensing deals done is not just about legitimatising any music being uploaded by its users, it's also about making it easier for said users to add music to their videos.
With new functionality being piloted in Australia and New Zealand, Snapchat users will basically be able to add soundtracks to their videos within the app itself. The app will then also automatically provide information about the music for any interested recipients of the video, as well as links to the full track on Spotify and Apple Music.
A Snapchat spokesperson says: "We're constantly building on our relationships within the music industry, and making sure the entire music ecosystem - artists, labels, songwriters, publishers and streaming services - are seeing value in our partnerships".
So there you go. Shapchat. Still a thing. Now with some music licences. OK, you can now all return to your tedious chatter. I'll get you started... "Has Trump banned it yet? Has Microsoft bought it yet? Has Microsoft ruined it yet? Quick, get Triller on the phone!" Enjoy.
Former Radio 1 chief joins Bauer Radio
Cooper announced he was departing the BBC last October ahead of the Corporation's overhaul of its radio station management teams, in which each of the Beeb's music stations has a more junior Head rather than a traditional Controller. The Head of each station then reports into the BBC's Controller Of Pop, Lorna Clarke.
Much of Cooper's career in broadcasting to date has been with the BBC, starting out in local radio and ultimately heading up 1Xtra and the Asian Network as well as Radio 1. Although he did also have a stint in the big bad world of commercial radio over at Capital.
Announcing his appointment yesterday, Bauer said Cooper "has a strong track record of leading and developing successful teams to deliver creative content alongside strategic, bold decision-making driving digital innovation and change in order to meet the new ways audiences consume and interact".
Bauer Radio Group MD Dee Ford added: "The opportunity to extend our audio reach has never been greater – digital distribution in all its forms has enabled our portfolio to continue to grow. Developing new audio services and experiences and working closely with music partners will further accelerate that growth. Ben brings to Bauer a wealth of music industry and audience knowledge and key external relationships".
Meanwhile, Cooper himself said: "I'm excited, I love radio, I love the Bauer brands and will enjoy strengthening my relationships with the music industry in new creative ways".
Dave joins BBC Concert Orchestra to soundtrack new Planet Earth special
They are all involved in a new BBC show called 'Planet Earth: A Celebration', which will rework footage from Attenborough's previous 'Planet Earth II' and 'Blue Planet II' programmes, set to music performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and rapper Dave on the piano. The music has been composed by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and Zimmer's Bleeding Fingers collective, who also created the soundtrack for the original series. And Attenborough has also recorded some new narration.
Announcing the one-off programme, which will air later this month, BBC chief Tony Hall says: "The BBC has curated this amazing collection of sequences from two of the most talked about natural history series of recent years, 'Planet Earth II' and 'Blue Planet II', as a spectacular treat for the viewers. With brand new narration from the brilliant David Attenborough, a new score from Hans Zimmer and the team at Bleeding Fingers, played by the BBC Concert Orchestra with Dave on the piano, this thrilling journey around the world promises to lift everyone's spirits".
Meanwhile Dave, as in Dave Dave, not Attenborough Dave, adds: "I've always been fan of powerful natural history documentaries. This is a programme where nature and music come together, so it was only right that I lent my talent, my time, and my attention to this project. It was a pleasure to work alongside Sir David Attenborough and Hans Zimmer".
Warner Music has announced an alliance with Romanian indie label Global Records. It will represent the major's global catalogue in Romania and the two companies will collaborate on developing and promoting Romanian artists both domestically and globally. Warner's Alfonso Perez-Soto is "delighted". Global Records founder Stefan Lucian is "THRILLED".
The good old Hipgnosis Songs Fund has acquired Barry Manilow's recording royalty rights, excluding SoundExchange income. Which means the monies that the star earns from all the many, many, many, many, many records he appears on. Manilow "is one of those rare artists that unites everyone" reckons Hipgnosis boss Merck Mercuriadis.
Sony/ATV's Nashville division has extended its worldwide publishing agreement with country artist, songwriter and producer Jon Pardi, who is - Sony/ATV Nashville's CEO Rusty Gaston would like you to know - a "honky-tonk genius". Actually, counters the publisher's VP Creative Tom Luteran, "Jon is the ultimate unicorn as an artist". Yeah, whatever you say Tom. Pardi is "excited" to keep his Sony/ATV partnership going.
Concord Music Publishing has signed a deal with one of The National. Wow, think of all those Taylor Swift royalties that will be coming in! No, not that member of The National. It's frontman Matt Berninger. But hey, think of all those The National royalties that will be coming in! No, the deal covers Berninger's solo works and projects outside the band. Still, his debut solo album is out in October, so it's still exciting I guess. The publisher just needs to make sure that the label releasing that LP, 'Serpentine Prison', doesn't screw things up. Who's that? Oh, Concord Records. Lovely.
Warner Music has signed a deal with South African artist Master KG via its partnership with Johannesburg-based Africori and indie label Open Mic Productions. Warner's ADA will handle distribution of his latest album 'Jerusalema' in Sub-Saharan Africa, while the major's Elektra France label will release the music elsewhere in the world.
Warner Music has hired Dr Maurice Stinnett to be the major's New York-based Head Of Global Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. Working with the firm's UK-based Head Of Inclusion & Diversity, Nina Bhagwat, he will "spearhead WMG's equity initiatives, implementing tailored strategies and programmes designed to cultivate a diverse and inclusive company culture".
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING
LA-based First Artists Management, which specialises in composer management, has announced it is opening a London office. It will be headed up by Hamish Duff, who joins from Involved Productions. According to Variety, he brings his current roster of clients with him, including Solomon Grey, Clark, Alex Baranowski, Will Gregory, Blanck Mass, Hannah Peel, Nico Casal and The Grandbrothers.
Remi Wolf has released new single 'Monte Carlo'.
Greentea Peng has released new single 'Hu Man'. It is, she says, "an exploration of self and our attachment to identity, especially in this modern age".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Cradle Of Filth sell their own "satanic" teas
The new blends were created in collaboration with tea company Pitch Black North, which specialises in occult brews. Inspired by songs by the band, they are Dark Blood - a traditional English breakfast tea "for the uplift" - and Sweetest Maleficia - a blueberry vanilla English breakfast tea "for the wind-down".
"If [there's] anything this weird space of time known as 'lockdown' has taught us, [it's] that literally everything can be mollified with a really good cup of tea", say the band. "These expertly crafted beverages are not only bursting with maleficent flavour, but they also swim abrim with genuine witchcraft, having been brewed under all the right stars".
More witchcraft in tea, I say. And so, the band invite you to "put the heavy kettle on, put some heavy metal on and start conversing with your inner TEAmons".
Should you be looking for something to do while you drink your tea (conversing with 'teamons' notwithstanding), Cradle Of Filth have also - like all rock and metal bands recently, for some reason - released their own jigsaw.