|THURSDAY 20 AUGUST 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: More than 120 organisations representing the UK creative industries have signed an open letter to Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak calling for the government's freelancer-centric COVID support scheme to be extended for those who are still unable to return to work because of measures still in place to combat the virus. A failure to do so, they say, "risks an exodus of talent and a sudden decline"... [READ MORE]|
Over 120 organisations call on government to extend freelancer support for creative sector
The UK government's schemes that provide financial support to employees and freelancers unable to work because of the COVID-19 shutdown are now in the process of winding down, with applications for the second and final round of freelancer grants opening this week. However, many in the creative industries - and especially those involved in live performance - are unlikely to be anywhere near back to normal in work terms this autumn.
Focusing on the many freelancers that work in the creative industries, and the freelancer support scheme SEISS, the open letter to Sunak writes: "Actors, musicians, dancers, singers, stage management, variety acts, creative team members and other freelancers have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Many of them have lost all their scheduled work from March 2020 on into 2021, leaving them in severe financial hardship".
"The SEISS has helped some creative professionals get through these challenging times", it goes on "but it is due to come to an end very shortly, which presents serious problems for the health of our sector".
The letter acknowledges that indoor live performances are now allowed again in England providing social distancing rules are in force. It also notes the £1.57 billion in funding specifically allocated to creative and heritage businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID. But, it says, major challenges remain.
"Socially distanced indoor live performances can now take place", it says. "However, the difficulties venues will face in covering costs with reduced income from tickets, audience uncertainty, and the time it takes for venues to schedule and prepare, means that over the coming months the number of live performances taking place will be some way short of what it was pre-COVID-19".
It continues: "With a return to full live indoor performances unlikely to happen in the near future, the earnings potential for creatives across the sector will be severely curtailed for at least the rest of this year".
"The recently announced £1.57 billion arts support package is extremely welcome and will undoubtedly help many venues and performing arts organisations", it adds "but there is no indication yet as to what will be available to the freelance workforce. Freelancers make up approximately one third of the creative industries workforce, and in the case of musicians, performers and the creative team, the majority".
With all that in mind, the letter states, "we are requesting that you extend government support for freelancers working in the performing arts and entertainment industries from the end of the SEISS until the spring of 2021 to provide vital support for the many thousands of creative professionals who still cannot work because of COVID-19. Without this, our sector risks an exodus of talent and a sudden decline".
The letter also references the fact that some freelancers haven't even been able to access SEISS. "Many have been inadequately covered", it says, adding that "new graduates, international artists, parents and carers, and working class artists have disproportionately missed out on any support".
It then goes on: "However, even those who are eligible for the second payment will only be covered by the scheme until August. From September onwards, every single freelance creative will be without government financial support and unlikely to be able to return to their work in full. This will be devastating for them, and for the industry".
"The majority of musicians earn less than £20,000 per year – well below UK average earnings – and the same is true of actors, variety artists, stage management, creative team members, singers and dancers", it then explains.
"Without further targeted government support for freelancers, many of our most talented creatives will be forced - because of circumstances beyond their control - to leave their professions. This would be all our loss as well as theirs".
The letter concludes: "We need a new scheme for our sector in its unique circumstance which covers all of its freelance artists, no matter what their career or background. Our organisations have multiple cost-efficient solutions for how such support can be given, and we extend an open invitation to engage with us on closing the gaps and securing our multi-billion pound sector of the economy".
Companies, trade bodies and organisations from across the wider creative industries have signed the letter, including all of the ten core members of UK Music, ie AIM, BPI, FAC, The Ivors Academy, MPA, MPG, MMF, MU, PRS and PPL. Meanwhile, the whole thing was coordinated by the Incorporated Society Of Musicians and actors union Equity.
Commenting on the letter, ISM boss Deborah Annetts says: "Many of the ISM's members are in despair. From full time gigging musicians to top flight opera singers, they have had no work since March and are without any prospect of work".
"The reality of socially distanced performances means that most venues simply cannot afford to re-open leaving the vast majority of musicians without work", she adds. "Musicians are in desperate financial difficulty. Some are leaving the profession while others are working as delivery drivers to make ends meet. This is not the way to look after our talented musician workforce".
"We call on the government to put in place a tailored financial support scheme for the self-employed creative workforce, who are the lifeblood of the performing arts until venues can properly re-open", she goes on. "If the government does not support actors, musicians and technicians until they can work again in those venues, then we are looking at the devastation of the performing arts and an exodus of highly skilled talent".
Meanwhile, Paul Fleming from Equity states: "Equity's members are heading toward a cliff edge with a parachute full of holes. The SEISS excluded some of the lowest-paid and most under-represented self-employed artists from the beginning, and now it's going to be ripped away from even those who were covered".
"Taxpayers are seeing their money used to shutter buildings instead of supporting artists they love and funding safe reopening", he concludes. "Unless the government introduces meaningful income support for our members until re-opening and beyond, we'll barely have a workforce left".
Britney Spears asks court to block her father from returning to legal guardian role
Twelve years ago, Britney's life was placed in her father's guardianship following well-publicised mental health issues. She is not now asking for the entire arrangement to be ended, but rather wants Jodi Montgomery, who took over from her father on a temporary basis last year, to oversee her affairs on a permanent basis.
In a legal filing ahead of a court hearing today, Spears said that being placed in conservatorship "rescued her from a collapse, exploitation by predatory individuals and financial ruin" and left her able to once again become "a world class entertainer". However, she then argued, changes are now required to meet her current needs.
The dispute over the future of the conservatorship follows the recent fan-led #FreeBritney campaign, via which fans have argued that it is time for Spears to be allowed to make her own life decisions. Her father recently called that campaign a "conspiracy theory". However, it does follow allegations last year that he placed her in a mental health facility against her will.
Jamie Spears has not commented on his daughter's filing, but her attorneys have said that they expect him to firmly contest the move.
50 Cent can't sue over uncleared sample on publicity right grounds
50 Cent and Ross have, of course, a very long-running feud. As part of that, in late 2015, 50 Cent sued over a mixtape Ross had put out earlier that year to promote his then new album 'Black Market'. In that mixtape, called '#RenzelRemixes', Ross had rapped over a snippet of 50 Cent's 2003 hit 'In Da Club'.
Of course promotional mixtapes are very common in hip hop and often feature uncleared tracks and samples in the mix. The music industry usually turns a blind eye to such things, because most of the rappers and labels who could sue have probably used mixtapes full of uncleared music to promote their own releases at some point in the past.
Nevertheless, '#RenzelRemixes' did include an uncleared sample of 'In Da Club' meaning there were grounds for a copyright infringement claim. Had one been made, Ross would have screamed 'fair use' and first amendment free speech rights, and the court would have had to have a good old debate about whether or not either of those defences were credible.
But that didn't happen because, although 50 Cent was pissed off his rival had sampled his hit without permission, 50 Cent didn't own the copyright in that track. Universal's Interscope imprints Shady Records and Aftermath did. And Universal didn't seem all that keen to take action. Maybe - just maybe - because Ross's mixtape was promoting an album released by, oh look, Universal's Def Jam Records.
50 Cent therefore sued on the basis that his right to publicity had been infringed, specifically his publicity rights under the state laws of Connecticut, where he filed his lawsuit. Publicity or image rights are separate to copyright, and can be enforced under various state laws in the US.
In their response to the lawsuit, Ross's lawyers questioned whether 50 Cent even have the publicity rights he was seeking to enforce, because he had in essence passed those rights on to Interscope via his record contract. But, even if he did have those publicity rights under state law, they shouldn't interfere with the 'In Da Club' copyright which, of course, belongs to Interscope not 50 Cent.
At first instance a district court sided with Ross, but 50 Cent appealed. However, in its ruling yesterday, the Second Circuit Appeals Court basically upheld the original decision.
Though it did actually disagree with the claim that 50 Cent had given up his publicity rights - specifically in relation to the promotion of music - via his Interscope deal, because it's thought that element of that deal actually ceased to be in effect in 2014.
However, on the second claim by the Ross camp, the Second Circuit was in agreement. Federal copyright law basically gazumps state rights to publicity, so while Interscope could have sued for copyright infringement over the uncleared sample, 50 Cent can't sue to enforce his publicity rights.
Which means, if 50 Cent has a beef over the mixtape, he should take it up with Interscope. Wrote the Second Circuit: "[50 Cent] may have a right either to compel Shady/Aftermath to sue [Ross] for copyright infringement, seeking damages on which [50 Cent] might have been entitled to a royalty, or to seek damages from Shady/Aftermath for its failure to protect [his] right to royalties by suing [Ross]".
But, "even if [50 Cent] possessed such rights against Shady/Aftermath, which in turn possessed rights it could have enforced against [Ross], [50 Cent] possessed no legal right to directly control [Ross]'s use of the song. His attempt to do so under the disguise of a right of publicity claim was in derogation of Shady/Aftermath's exclusive right to enforce the copyright".
The court added that Interscope and its Shady/Aftermath imprints may well have decided not to sue because they reckoned being featured in the Rick Ross mixtape was good promo that would increase the value of their recording. And maybe that's true. Or maybe it was the whole "another Universal label was releasing the Rick Ross album" thing.
Either way, 50 Cent's publicity rights were not infringed by the mixtape. Which is just as well, because if this case had gone the other way, it would arguably have set a precedent where people licensing samples would have to consider the publicity rights of the artists as well as the intellectual property rights of the copyright owner. Which would have been a right old hassle.
CMA says StubHub has now dealt with its most recent gripe list
The CMA announced in January that it had put StubHub on notice regarding various issues with its site. That was despite StubHub having previously voluntarily complied with a list of demands from the CMA, those being demands which the regulator made of all ticket resale sites to ensure they properly complied with UK consumer rights law.
In a statement yesterday, the CMA said that the most recent issues had now been addressed, and that it is happy that StubHub "is adequately warning people where tickets bought on the UK site may not get them into an event; has removed inaccurate messages about ticket availability; is no longer advertising tickets for overseas events that may not comply with UK consumer law; is ensuring people know exactly where they will sit in a venue; and is taking sufficient steps to ensure that the full addresses of business sellers are displayed".
The issues the CMA raised in January were all very common gripes regarding ticket resale websites. Though in yesterday's statement, the regulator also noted that some new issues have arisen regarding secondary ticketing during the COVID-19 crisis, mainly "concerns about cancellations and refunds".
It added: "If it emerges that consumer protection law is being broken, the CMA will consider whether further action might be necessary to address these issues".
Actually, in the UK, most complaints regarding refunds on COVID-cancelled events have focused on Viagogo rather than StubHub, although the latter has been sued on that issue in the US.
And, of course, Viagogo and StubHub are technically the same thing now, although the integration of the two companies is yet to go ahead thanks to another CMA investigation, that one specifically on the merger.
Bob Harris launches Under The Apple Tree label with Absolute Label Services
"I am so pleased and proud that Under The Apple Tree is partnering with Absolute", says Harris. "Our aims are identical. Our combined ambition is to support the musicians we love and get their music out to as wide an audience as possible".
Absolute MD Henry Semmence adds: "It is an honour to be working with a legend of UK broadcasting and a tireless champion of new artists. Bob has been instrumental in helping discover and break countless acts in the UK and we are really excited that he chose Absolute to be his partners in this exciting new venture".
Run by Harris, his wife Trudie Myerscough-Harris, and their son Miles, Under The Apple Tree was launched on Harris's YouTube channel in 2015. It now has a catalogue of more than 400 sessions, recorded at their Under The Apple Tree Studios in Oxfordshire.
The label's first single will be a charity cover of Ben E King's 'Stand By Me' by the Whisperin Bob All-Stars, raising money for Help Musicians' COVID-19 support fund. Contributors include Paul Rodgers, PP Arnold, Peter Frampton, Mica Paris, Rick Wakeman, Richard Thompson, Jimmie Allen, Beth Nielsen Chapman, John Oates, The Shires and Ward Thomas.
Groove Armada announce first album for ten years
No longer living anything like conveniently close to one another, the duo's Andy Cato and Tom Findlay worked on the record via bursts of studio time.
"During those studio days, the rest of the world shuts down", says Cato. "There's an intensity, anyone looking in might say madness, that kicks in when we're totally lost amongst the instruments, synths and records day and night. But that shared, unspoken feeling that comes when we both know we've got it right cuts through as clear as ever".
The album is set for release on 2 Oct and is preceded by new single, 'Lover 4 Now', featuring UK garage legend Todd Edwards. Listen here.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Kobalt's AWAL label services business says that hundreds of the artists using its platform now generate more than $100,000 a year in annual streaming revenue, with dozens making over a million per year. Further proof that the current streaming music business model does work for some artists, even though many music-makers still see nominal returns.
One Media IP says it has conditionally raised £6.04 million by issuing a load of new shares. The cash will be used to acquire more intellectual property assets, in particular via Harmony iP, an initiative that seeks to acquire copyrights and royalty shares by offering creators lump sum payments, especially in music. Spend, spend, spend!
Round Hill Music has hired Steve Clark, formerly of Warner Chappell, to be its new Global Chief Operating Officer. Getting Clark on board is "a major coup", says Round Hill CEO Josh Gruss.
Corey Taylor has released the video for recent single 'Black Eyes Blue'.
Aitch has released the video for 'Safe To Say', the opening track from his recent 'Polaris' album.
AG Cook just released a 49 track album, so you probably thought he was done with new music for a while. But no, he's announced that he'll be putting out another LP (featuring just ten tracks) called 'Apple' next month. Here's first single 'Oh Yeah'.
Arcade Fire's Will Butler has announced that he will release new solo album, 'Generations', on 25 Sep. From it, this is 'Close My Eyes'.
Ane Brun has released new single 'Take Hold Of Me'.
Barbarossa has released new single 'Recliner'. The song, he says, "is about letting go of what you think other people expect of you. Just giving in to who you are - accepting the good, the bad. Sometimes it's scary to show the real you, and it's also scary if you like your life like that, as it may mean you must make some hard changes in order to live your life as your true self".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion give away $1 million to celebrate WAP success
The sexually explicit song, of course, went to number one in the US and number four in the UK, despite (and probably helped by) a load of right wing commentators saying they didn't like it.
"Y'all made 'WAP' amazing", Cardi B told her followers on Twitter yesterday. "We're partnering with Twitter and Cash App to give away a total of $1 million dollars to celebrate all you powerful women out there. Tell us why you or a woman you know can use a piece of the $".
Sure it reads like a spam email, but the two musicians have subsequently retweeted numerous women posting about the $500 they have received. Now we just need conservatives to decide how they're going to see this as offensive and maybe there'll be some more wealth to redistribute.