|FRIDAY 15 JANUARY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Despite previous repeated denials, the UK government has now admitted that the European Union did make a proposal to allow visa-free touring for musicians around Europe post-Brexit, which negotiators on the British side rejected... [READ MORE]|
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Calls for clarity and resolution over post-Brexit touring bureaucracy continue as UK government concedes the EU did offer a solution
The admission has increased calls in the music community for clarity on what was discussed regarding touring while the UK/EU post-Brexit trade deal was being negotiated. Though, of course, the real priority remains getting UK and EU officials back to the negotiating table to try to get a system in place for visa-free touring before COVID restrictions across Europe start to wind down.
The music industry was quick to criticise the last minute trade deal when it was published last month because it does not include a provision guaranteeing visa-free travel for UK musicians touring Europe, or EU musicians touring the UK.
The lack of such a provision means that British musicians seeking to tour the EU must now adhere to the entry rules of each individual country, some of which require artists and their crews to secure travel permits and/or equipment carnets. It's feared that the extra cost and hassle that involves will make some tours unviable.
This was despite assurances during the Brexit negotiations that - providing some sort of trade deal could be agreed - musicians would not face new restrictions when touring Europe once the UK had left the EU.
Facing all that criticism, the UK government was quick to blame EU officials, telling reporters - and then Parliament - that British ministers had made a proposal to ensure visa-free travel for touring musicians, but that negotiators on the Brussels side knocked it back.
Sources in the EU then told The Independent that, in fact, it had been UK negotiators that knocked back a proposal from the EU. UK culture minister Oliver Dowden then insisted to NME that that wasn't true, and that it was definitely EU officials who rejected a UK plan. He added: "I'm afraid it was the EU letting down music on both sides of the Channel – not us".
However, the EU has also stood by its claims in this domain. The main negotiator on the EU side, Michael Barnier, was asked about this particular dispute during a briefing with reporters earlier this week.
According to the FT, he said that the EU had definitely proposed special travel rights for musicians as well as journalists and other artists, but that the UK had chosen not to take up the offer. He added: "I very much regretted the fact that, when it comes to mobility between the two sides, that the British didn't display any greater ambition. We had a number of initial proposals on this".
As the blame game continued to go through the motions, a spokesperson for Number Ten Downing Street yesterday conceded that the EU had made a proposal regarding visa-free travel for musicians which the UK did indeed reject. According to The Independent: "The offer 'fell short' of what was required, but a source has said the reason was a fear it involved travel rights that undermined the aims of Brexit".
That source also seemed to confirm what has seemed likely throughout this spat, which is that both the EU and the UK made different proposals for how visa-free travel for touring musicians might be achieved, with both sides rejecting the other's plan. The main disagreement was seemingly how long a musician should be able to spend in a country without needing any travel permit or equipment carnet. That means both sides are technically correct to say the other rejected a proposal.
But none of that helps UK musicians who, post-COVID, may still not be able to tour Europe because of the cost and hassle of navigating the entry requirements of each EU member state.
Commenting on the latest developments, Deborah Annetts, CEO of the Incorporated Society Of Musicians, said: "We are pleased to finally get clarity that there was an EU proposal to the UK during the Brexit negotiations that would have allowed permit-free tours by musicians. It is now essential for the government to deliver on its commitment to frictionless work travel by negotiating a new reciprocal agreement, that allows performers to tour in Europe freely for up to 90 days".
Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson agreed in Parliament this week to convene a specific meeting to address this issue, responding to comments made by Kevin Brennan MP during Prime Minister's Questions. Noting that, the General Secretary of the Musicians Union, Horace Trubridge, has said he looks forward to getting an update on the outcome of that meeting, stressing that an urgent solution is needed.
In a way, the COVID pandemic has mitigated the short-term impact of the new post-Brexit bureaucracy for touring artists, because touring is off the table anyway. But at the same time, the negative impact of the pandemic on the music community makes it even more important that visa-free touring of the EU is possible for British musicians as soon as COVID restrictions start to lift.
In a letter to Johnson, Trubridge wrote: "We were delighted to hear your answer to Kevin Brennan's question about touring musicians during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. As Kevin set out, there is an urgent need for a reciprocal work-permit-free deal for touring musicians and performers, and our members were very disappointed not to see this in the Brexit deal".
"It is overwhelmingly in Britain's economic and cultural interest to negotiate this with the EU as soon as possible so that musicians are able to go back to work as soon as coronavirus restrictions ease", he went on. "Our industry has been incredibly badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis and if our members are also restricted by additional costs and red tape on touring once things start to go back to normal, we will see a real downturn in what is a unique British success story: music".
"We therefore look forward to the outcome of the meeting that you agreed to arranging", he concluded.
Yoko Ono reaches new settlement deal with John Lennon's former assistant
Ono sued Seaman last year, reigniting a legal battle that goes back 40 years. Seaman worked for Lennon in the run-up to the musician's death in 1980. He was then fired by Ono the following year after it emerged that he'd been taking items from Lennon's home, including diaries, photographs, fan letters and unreleased recordings.
Seaman ultimately pled guilty to second-degree larceny and was ordered to return all the items he had taken. But then in the 1990s it emerged that he had not, in fact, given back all the items he'd removed from Lennon's home. He also further annoyed Ono by publishing a book called 'The Last Days Of John Lennon' which, he later admitted, included "factually inaccurate" claims.
Ono first went formally legal in 1999, resulting in a settlement deal in 2003 in which Seaman agreed to finally return all the items he'd taken in the months after Lennon's death, and to never talk about his time working for the musician again.
Then last September, as media started to run new features about Lennon ahead of what would have been his 80th birthday in October, Seaman gave an interview about his former employer.
In the new lawsuit subsequently filed by Ono, her legal reps wrote: "Despite his clear and unambiguous obligations [in the 2003 agreement], on 10 Sep 2020, Seaman sat for an interview from his apartment, flanked by Lennon memorabilia and wilfully, wantonly and contumaciously violated the clear and ambiguous terms of [the previous agreement]".
Seaman also said in that interview that he planned to publish a revised and expanded version of 'The Last Days Of John Lennon'. "As a direct consequence of Seaman's actions, Mrs Lennon has suffered and will suffer irreparable harm", Ono's lawsuit added. The lawsuit accused Seaman of fraud, breach of contract and copyright infringement, and sought a new injunction restraining Seaman plus at least $150,000 in damages.
However, in a court filing this week, Ono told the court that she had reached a settlement deal with Seaman. He will formally acknowledge that he has violated the 2003 agreement, both via the specific interview that took place last September, and other interviews he has given. He will also pay Ono $5000 in damages for copyright infringement.
The court filing added: "Seaman also admits that he does not have any rights in or to any photographs he took of the Lennon family and acknowledges he and his estate are perpetually enjoined from speaking about John Lennon, Yoko Ono Lennon or Sean Lennon in any capacity whatsoever including but not limited to the publication by any means, including but not limited to publishing any book or articles or otherwise publicly disclosing such information".
BMG acquires Mick Fleetwood's recording rights
The deal specifically covers the musician's royalty interest in over 300 recordings on which he performs, including the entire Fleetwood Mac catalogue other than the band's first two albums. It also comes ahead of the BMG-led film, album and book release of 'Mick Fleetwood & Friends', the 2020 tribute to original Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green.
"Mick Fleetwood is the bedrock of one of the greatest bands in rock, he has a unique talent to bring together musicians of all genres and of course he is one of rock's greatest drummers", says BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch. "BMG is proud to represent his greatest work and excited about the forthcoming launch of 'Mick Fleetwood & Friends'".
Fleetwood adds: "This is a wonderfully inspiring marriage between two creative partners that understand all aspects of the business. Foremost, BMG understands the artistry and puts the artist first. If this partnership is any indication of my past, and now future, working relationship with BMG, it's that they truly 'get it'".
The deal also comes not long after Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams' went viral over on the TikToks, leading to millions of streams and tens of thousands of download sales. BMG will now get a cut of that income. So that's nice. Who doesn't want a cut of some TikTik driven success? No one, that's who.
New York Dolls' Sylvain Sylvain dies
"As most of you know, Sylvain battled cancer for the past two and a half years", reads a statement on his Facebook page this morning. "Though he fought it valiantly, yesterday he passed away from this disease. While we grieve his loss, we know that he is finally at peace and out of pain. Please crank up his music, light a candle, say a prayer and let's send this beautiful doll on his way".
In an accompanying tribute, Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye writes: "His role in [New York Dolls] was as lynchpin, keeping the revolving satellites of his bandmates in precision. Though he tried valiantly to keep the band going, in the end the Dolls' moral fable overwhelmed them, not before seeding an influence that would engender many rock generations yet to come".
New York Dolls frontman David Johansen also paid tribute in an Instagram post, saying: "My best friend for so many years, I can still remember the first time I saw him bop into the rehearsal space/bicycle shop with his carpetbag and guitar straight from the plane after having been deported from Amsterdam, I instantly loved him. I'm gonna miss you old pal. I'll keep the home fires burning".
Real name Sylvain Mizrahi, the musician was born in Egypt, moving with his family to France and then the US. He co-founded the New York Dolls in 1971, taking their name from the New York Doll Hospital. As well as guitar, Sylvain also played bass and piano on the band's first two albums, and along with Johansen was a constant in the band's shifting line-up, prior to their eventual split in 1977.
After embarking on a number of solo projects in the intervening years, he reunited with the Dolls in 2004, via a reunion brought about by the former president of the band's UK fanclub, Morrissey. He then went on to record three further albums with the band.
Ariel Pink says blacklash to Trump rally attendance has left him "destitute and on the street"
The event's aim, of course, was to push Trump's baseless claims that he has been deprived of a second presidential term by a fraudulent election. Those claims increased in intensity until sparking the violent siege at the US Capitol building that followed last week's rally, in which Trump supporters sought to disrupt the official confirmation by Congress of Joe Biden's win in the election.
However, Pink says that he does not buy into Trump's election conspiracy theories.
"There's been a very big effort to unseat the president, or at least not let him have four more years, which I think is fair - I mean, he lost", he says. "I think he lost fairly. I'm not disputing anything. Biden is perfectly fine with me as president. But I think that [Democrats are] still scared, or something like that. It seems like they're sore winners at this point. And people seem to want to kick me down as well, much like they have Trump".
"This is what I voted against", he goes on. "I didn't vote for Trump so much as against cancel culture. This environment that's been blazing for about four years, that's about to ramp up and get even worse".
Days after the protest, Pink was dropped by his label Mexican Summer. That, he says, happened despite assurances it would not. "My label had written [to] me to inform me they were getting a lot of heat and a lot of backlash for supporting me, but they assured me that they were not going to drop me", he claims. "24 hours later they texted me that they were going to go public and drop me".
Although Pink has not released a studio album since 2017, he has put out a series of rarites compilations through the label. Three such releases were set to come out at the end of this month, but have now been pulled.
"I can't tour either at this point", he adds, meaning the loss of his label deal and the cancelling of those rarity releases creates financial challenges. "It sort of leaves me destitute and on the street. I'm sort of overwhelmed right now and I don't know exactly what to do".
As for what he could have done to avoid this, he says: "I didn't make any apology, because I felt like I hadn't done anything wrong, but these articles obviously placed me at the siege, which I was not at. Of course I do not advocate for violence at all. I was there for a peaceful rally and that's all it was to me. But there was no fact-checking. These 130 articles went out in the space of 24 hours and they succumbed to cancel culture".
It's worth noting that coverage of Pink's attendance at the Trump rally has, on the whole, accepted that he did not take part in the attack on the Capitol building, largely based on his own comments on his now deactived Twitter account. However, he says, prior to being asked to speak to Fox News, he was unable to get his side of the story across.
"Right now I don't have any other recourse", he says. "Am I going to be able to get my statement out in magazines? Right now there's a narrative being pushed, and not many people are going to let a counter-narrative enter into the fold. There's no nuance. There's nothing else for me to do. I can't even afford my lawyer right now".
The pressure on Pink's finances is exacerbated by another thing that happened on 6 Jan, the day of the Trump rally. On that day, he lost an attempt to get a restraining order against an ex-girlfriend and former bandmate, Charlotte Ercoli Coe, who he claims has been trying to blackmail him. She argues that he was physically and sexually abusive to her.
According to Pitchfork, Pink's filing was dismissed on the grounds that comments made in the media and emails sent to Mexican Summer by Coe, which Pink deemed harassment, were actually "constitutionally-protected activities". As well as denying the restraining order, which would have blocked her from speaking publicly about her accusations, the court also ruled that Coe was entitled to "reasonable attorneys' fees and costs" from Pink.
The attorney representing Pink in the case, Thomas Mortimer, says that they are planning to appeal the decision. "The pending matter is now on appeal and the subject of a separate lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court", Mortimer tells Pitchfork. "It is [Pink's] position that the speech and communications at the heart of the case are not protected and [are] defamatory".
Foo Fighters release new single, Waiting On A War
"As a child growing up in the suburbs of Washington DC, I was always afraid of war", says Grohl. "I had nightmares of missiles in the sky and soldiers in my backyard, most likely brought upon by the political tension of the early 1980s and my proximity to the nation's capital. My youth was spent under the dark cloud of a hopeless future".
"Last fall, as I was driving my daughter to school, she turned to me and asked, 'Daddy, is there going to be a war?'", he goes on. "My heart sank as I realised that she was now living under the same dark cloud that I had felt 40 years ago. I wrote 'Waiting On A War' that day".
"Every day waiting for the sky to fall", he concludes. "Is there more to this than that? Is there more to this than just waiting on a war? Because I need more. We all do. This song was written for my daughter, Harper, who deserves a future, just as every child does".
The band's new album, 'Medicine At Midnight', is out on 5 Feb. Listen to 'Waiting On A War' here.
Lady Gaga has been booked to perform the US National Anthem at Joe Biden's presidential inauguration next week, according to Variety. Her performance of it at the Super Bowl four years ago was deemed to be very good, so she should be a safe pair of hands.
Cardi B has been cast in a leading role in new comedy film 'Assisted Living', according to Variety.
Bugzy Malone has joined the cast of Guy Ritchie's next as-yet-untitled movie. He also played a role in Ritchie's last film, 2019's 'The Gentlemen'.
A collaboration between Juice Wrld and Young Thug, titled 'Bad Boy', has been released.
Ariana Grande has released a remix of '34+35', featuring Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat.
Ed Sheeran - credited as Gingerbread - has remixed Passenger single 'Sword From The Stone'.
Sia has released new single 'Hey Boy', featuring Burna Boy. The track is taken the album companion to her film 'Music', which features songs from and "inspired by" the movie. Both are out in February.
Pusha T and Vince Staples have released new track 'Jungle Mantra'. The track is taken from the soundtrack of new Netflix movie 'White Tiger'.
Selena Gomez has released new single 'De Una Vez', the first track from her upcoming debut Spanish language album,
Flo Milli has released new track 'Roaring 20s'. "Born in 2000, and having my breakout year in 2020, I feel like I'm living in the new age of the Roaring 20s", she says.
JP Saxe and Maren Morris have released new single 'Line By Line'.
Danny L Harle has announced new album and interactive clubbing experience 'Harlecore', featuring tracks by four residents (who I think are all Harle): DJ Danny, MC Boing, DJ Mayhem and DJ Ocean. Here's DJ Danny's 'On A Mountain' and MC Boing's 'Boing Beat'. The album is out on 12 Feb through Mad Decent.
Pale Waves have released new single 'Easy'. Vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie says the song is "about how love can change your whole entire perspective on life itself. It's saying 'being in love with you is so easy, you finally make sense in my life because nothing did before'".
The Body have released new single 'Tied Up And Locked In'. Their new album, 'I've Seen All I Need To See', is out on 29 Jan.
Mouse On Mars have released new single 'Artificial Authentic'. New album 'AAI' is out on 26 Feb.
Aerial East has released new single 'Katharine'. Her new album 'Try Harder' is out on 12 Feb.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Epic brings its Apple beef to London
Epic, you may remember, reckons that Apple violates all kinds of competition laws by forcing app makers to use its commission charging payment platform for any transactions that occur within an iOS app. Not only that, but Apple's bullshit rules say that app makers can't even signpost alternative payment options - for example via a web page - within an iOS app. And that's bullshit.
Bored of the bullshit, Epic plonked an alternative payment option into the iOS version of its 'Fortnite' app last August. Apple promptly kicked 'Fortnite' out of its App Store on the basis its rules had been violated, meaning that iOS users can't now download the game to their Apple devices, or update to the latest version. Epic then sued Apple in the US.
This counts as music news, by the way, because it's not only Epic that reckons Apple's bullshit rules are bullshit. Among the other app makers who have gone out of their way to moan relentlessly about all the bullshit is Spotify, which filed a complaint with European Union competition officials in 2019.
Apple argues that its bullshit rules are not, in fact, bullshit, but super fair, given all the money its invested in building the iOS and App Store systems, and its ongoing bid to make the apping experience as safe and user-friendly as possible on all of its over-priced devices.
What's actually bullshit, Apple's lawyers like to say (well, maybe imply), is multi-billion dollar enterprises like Epic Games and Spotify pretending they are the plucky small-time up-starts when moaning about the App Store rules.
After all, if they were plucky small-time upstarts they would qualify for the 50% discount Apple now offers on payments it processes for plucky small-time upstart app-makers as part of an initiative launched in November, that definitely wasn't sneakily intended to take wider app community support away from Epic and Spotify.
Anyway, to date most of this spatting has been happening before American judges (in the case of Epic) and EU officials (in the case of Spotify). But fuck that, if you're going to spat properly, you need to take your spat to a proper British judge in a proper British court for some proper British justice. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that?
It's now emerged that Epic made a filing with the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal in London last month formally arguing that Apple's bullshit rules violate all the British laws that exist to stop bullshit. And also some EU laws too, but who the fuck cares about that?
By kicking 'Fortnite' out of the App Store, reckons Epic, Apple has "abused its dominant position contrary to section eighteen of the [UK Competition Act 1998] and/or Article 102 of the Treaty On The Functioning of the European Union, and engaged in anti-competitive agreements / concerted practices in the UK and EU contrary to section two of the act and/or article 101 TFEU".
To that end, Epic asks the Competition Appeal Tribunal for "a declaration that the removal of the 'Fortnite' app from the App Store in the UK ... was unlawful", and an order that requires Apple to "restore the 'Fortnite' app ... to the App Store in the UK".
What does Apple think about all this? Well, it told Law360 this week: "Epic has been one of the most successful developers on the App Store, growing into a multi-billion dollar business that reaches millions of iOS customers around the world, including the United Kingdom. Their reckless behaviour made pawns of customers, and we look forward to making this clear to courts in the UK".
It remains to be seen how the UK strand of the Epic v Apple spat now proceeds, but how exciting is it that the 'Fortnite' maker recognised that - having begun legal proceedings in the US - the next stop for the fight was Brexit Britain? Oh, what, they actually went legal in Australia on this last November? OK, not that exciting then. Fuck Epic. That's bullshit.
I should maybe also mention that, like in the US, Epic has launched proceedings in the UK against Google and its App Store rules too. But who cares about that? I don't think even Google cares about that.