|TUESDAY 26 JANUARY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A new report commissioned by collecting society grouping GESAC and produced by EY argues that Europe's cultural and creative industries have been among the hardest hit by the COVID crisis but, at the same time, have a key role to play in the recovery of each European nation once the pandemic is over. To that end, it argues, the European Union and individual EU states should seek to maximise their support of those industries... [READ MORE]|
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New report calls for major support for European creative industries, which can then play a key role in the post-COVID recovery
GESAC brings together all the song right collecting societies of Europe. It partnered with various other trade groups representing the wider creative industries on this new report, including other music industry organisations like IMPALA and AEPO-ARTIS.
The report begins by setting out the importance of the cultural and creative industries to the European economy pre-COVID. In 2019, it says, those industries "represented 4.4% of EU GDP in terms of turnover, with annual revenues of 643 billion euros and a total added value of 253 billion euros. [They] were also one of Europe's leading job providers, employing more than 7.6 million people, more than eight times the telecommunications industry".
The cultural and creative sectors were also growing faster than the EU economy at large, the reports adds. Plus, "the creative economy also came out favourably in terms of technological innovation, gender diversity and employment of young people".
But then COVID hit. According to EY, the cultural and creative industries have been worse hit by the pandemic than the tourism sector, "and only marginally less than the air transport industry".
The cultural and creative industries "as a whole experienced losses of over 30% of their turnover for 2020 - a cumulated loss of 199 billion euros - with music and performing art sectors experiencing 75% and 90% losses respectively".
However, the report says, the growth seen in the cultural and creative industries pre-COVID can return after the pandemic with the right kind of support now. And providing that support will enable those industries to help with Europe's post-COVID revival, both economically and socially.
At the start of the report, European Parliament President David Sassoli notes in particular that the role of the cultural and creative industries in Europe's post-COVID recovery goes beyond the economic impact.
"We must think of culture as not only a pivot for recovery but also the social cement of a post-COVID-19 world that needs to be rebuilt", he writes.
"Art has a cathartic power that can accompany a post-pandemic society on the road to resilience", he goes on. "Art is not an accessory; it is a viaticum. Art is not 'political'; it is 'poetic' – a creative force that animates us and allows us to live together, to survive, individually and collectively".
But what kid of support do these industries need right now? EY sets out three priorities.
First, "Provide massive public funding and promote private investment in cultural and creative businesses, organisations, entrepreneurs and creators – two indispensable levers to support and accelerate their recovery and transformation".
Secondly, "Promote the EU's diversified cultural offering by ensuring a solid legal framework to allow for the development of private investment in production and distribution, providing the necessary conditions for an adequate return on investment for businesses and guaranteeing appropriate income for creators".
And finally, "Use the cultural and creative industries – and the multiplied power of their millions of individual and collective talents – as a major accelerator of social, societal and environmental transitions in Europe".
Launching the report, Jean-Noël Tronc, President of GESAC and CEO of French collecting society SACEM, said this morning: "The cultural and creative industries are as dynamic as they are vulnerable, as essential as they are diverse, and fortunately, it's not too late to take action".
"In addition to massive funding", he went on, "what's needed is a solid legal framework that fosters investments and their recoupments while guaranteeing fair remuneration for creators and their business partners and, in this regard, the swift and effective implementation of the Copyright Directive is key".
A delegation led by Jean-Michel Jarre is busy presenting the findings of the new report to EU commissioners today. He added: "Culture has become a scarce resource in today's Europe, and we are all suffering because of it. At the same time, Europeans are experiencing the truly profound value of art and its ability to bring us together. This study reflects that reality, it puts numbers to the suffering and offers clear instructions as to the solution".
Sea shanty goldrush continues as Decca signs The Longest Johns
Today it's the turn of The Longest Johns, who hit the UK top 40 on Friday with their version of nineteenth century song 'Soon May The Wellerman Come'. They've just been snapped up by Universal imprint Decca and booking agency UTA.
The band made it to number 37 in last week's singles chart, thanks to postman Nathan Evans' viral version of the song. That TikTok video also saw Evans sign to another Universal imprint, Polydor, last week, and his full recording of the shanty is set to make it to the top five this week.
As well as their new label signing, The Longest Johns have a new deal with talent agency UTA. They are set to announce UK and Ireland tour dates this week, and are apparently expected to be a big live draw in 2021 and into 2022. Or - if you're a pessimist/realist - only in 2022. And even then, assuming that this sea shanty fad lasts that long. Bit of bonus pessimism for you there.
So, it's already looking like there will be two versions of 'Wellerman' in the charts this week. How about a third? Because singers Jonny Stewart, Bobby Waters, Aaron Sloan, Luke Taylor - along with another TikTokker, Sam Pope - are releasing their own harmonised version of the song.
Originally posted on TikTok, the group's video has spread across various social media and been featured on US TV show 'The Colbert Report'. They are now releasing a full recording of the song in aid of the Marine Conservation Society.
"We wanted to make something of this amazing opportunity and the MCS seemed like the obvious partner to go with", they say. "Their work in helping protect the seas and ecosystems are so vital, we're proud to be able to support in any way we can".
Quite why sea shanties have become so big on TikTok and other social media right now is still a bit perplexing. For labels though, it's good news. They're easy to record at home on lockdown, can be released fast, and the publishing is all public domain. So, for as long as this whole thing continues to be a thing (3.7 more days?), everyone should probably think about releasing a shanty or two.
Imagine a top 40 made up entirely of different versions of 'The Wellerman'. This can be a reality! Let's make it happen.
Ninja Tune's Big Dada imprint relaunches
In a statement, the company said: "Big Dada is relaunched as a label run by black, POC and minority ethnic people for black, POC and minority ethnic artists - for lack of a better term. A team of like-minded individuals working together to form a community that champions, shines a light on, supports and nourishes the music and artists".
"Working to amplify black and racialised artist voices, Big Dada looks to shift the narrative around this music, bypassing stereotypes to allow and encourage freedom to express oneself for who they are and want to be", it goes on. "Big Dada has a long history and heritage which will be built upon whilst deepening its cultural identity by supporting and offering resources to a new generation of artists".
The label was launched in 1997 by hip hop journalist Will Ashon, who left in 2014. Over the last two decades it has become known for releasing experimental music that pushes the boundaries of rap, hip hop and grime.
Artists who have worked with the company include Roots Manuva, Wiley, Kae Tempest, Congo Natty, MF Doom in his King Geedorah guise, Clouddead and Diplo. Two albums on the label - Speech Debelle's 'Speech Therapy' and Young Fathers' 'Dead' - have won the Mercury Prize.
Lego and Universal announce new music video making app for children
Aimed at seven to ten year olds, the app lets children select their own band from a range of Lego characters, who they can customise and animate. Visual and audio effects can then be added to create the finished video.
Online safety is a key focus of the app, which requires parental approval before it can be accessed by a child. Users remain anonymous, and can upload their creations for others to see within the app - all of which is moderated before being made publicly available.
"We want to feed the imagination of the next generation of creatives, providing a new canvas for kids to creatively express themselves", says Julia Goldin, Chief Marketing Officer at the Lego Group. "Research shows over three quarters of parents globally wish their children had more creative confidence, so we're launching Lego Vidiyo to help make that happen".
"We know children are always chasing new ways to experiment creatively", she goes on, "and Lego Vidiyo is here to help all kids with a passion for music unleash their creativity through Lego building and music video production. We can't wait to see what they come up with!"
EVP of Universal Music Group And Brands, Olivier Robert-Murphy, adds: "Through this innovative global partnership – with the power of music and play harnessed to support early development of creativity – children around the globe will be able to express themselves as they stage, direct, perform, and share their music videos. Lego Vidiyo is a great way for millions of kids to discover new music and get closer to their favourite artists while learning and connecting through play".
Lego Vidiyo will be available from 1 Mar.
Dissecting The Streaming Inquiry #02: The artist / label split We are currently reviewing and dissecting submissions made to the UK Parliament's ongoing inquiry into the economics of streaming.
Based on the five years of research CMU Insights has undertaken with the Music Managers Forum as part of the 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' project, we explain the background to the key debates, helping you navigate and understand each issue and the proposed solutions.
While there are many different issues to be considered as part of the debate around the economics of streaming, much of the UK parliament's investigation into the streaming music business so far has focused on how the digital pie is sliced.
Which is to say, how is the money generated by streaming services like Spotify shared out between artists, songwriters, session musicians, labels, distributors, publishers and collecting societies?
In many cases, the record label gets the biggest slice of the digital pie. There are two reasons for this. First, when streaming money is shared out between the the recording copyright and the song copyright, the former usually gets at least four times more than the latter. And secondly, with traditional record deals, the artist is usually paid a minority share, commonly around 20%.
Both of these factors originate in the physical era, where the song copyright usually got a single figure percentage of record sale income, and artists were paid royalty rates of around 15%.
When the original digital music services first emerged, the starting point was the physical product model in terms of revenue shares. As the digital market evolved there was a slight re-slicing of the digital pie to the advantage of the song and the artist. However, many songwriters and artists argue that the re-slicing that has occurred is nowhere near significant enough.
On the label/artist split first, artists and managers argue that one of the reasons labels got such a large slice of record sales income in the physical era was because of the costs and risks associated with manufacturing, storing and distributing physical discs.
Once those costs and risks are taken out of the equation, the argument goes, labels can no longer justify taking such a large slice of subsequent income.
Labels usually counter that, while the costs and risks of physical are indeed removed when an artist is fully digital, other costs and risks associated with releasing recorded music have gone up. In particular, marketing.
Release campaigns now run for longer, require unprecedented amounts of promotional content to be created, and involve managing relationships with an ever-expanded network of influencers.
And beyond each individual campaign, labels have invested in content-making and data-crunching machines that provide each artist with the knowledge, concepts, insight and reach they need to succeed.
Unsurprisingly, submissions made to the select committee's inquiry by record label trade groups IFPI and BPI go big on the investments labels continue to make, in both individual artists and the label infrastructure those artists utilise to grow audience. Meanwhile, they add, the aforementioned re-slicing of the digital pie means that even artists who sign pretty traditional record deals earn more from streams than they did from discs.
In the BPI's lengthy submission, it states: "The majors spend hundreds of millions of pounds every year in the UK on creative investment and artists, as well as providing employment to several thousand people directly, and support many thousands more jobs within the music ecosystem and in associated businesses involved in video production, music publicity and journalism, and other professional, marketing, creative advisory services etc".
Majors and indies alike, it then argues, continue to take considerable risks when signing artists. "Developing talent, releasing new music and building artist careers is complex and challenging", it says, "and recorded music always has been an unpredictable and hit-driven business".
"Whether an artist or their tracks and albums will achieve commercial success and build fans has always featured an element of luck and timing, as well as talent and expertise, particularly for new and emerging talent ... however brilliant the creative individual or the work itself, many recording artists and records will not achieve commercial success".
"Launching an artist is also a complex and costly enterprise", it goes on. "It is estimated that it costs on average between £400,000 and £1.5 million to break an artist globally; and it is often commented in the industry that approximately only one in ten investments made by record labels breaks even on the upfront label investment".
"This inherent 'cross-funding' model is a key feature of record labels, whereby the successes fund investment in other output that may not achieve commercial success but has considerable cultural merit. However, labels make success much more likely and achievable. This ensures that British artists and voices continue to be heard on a global scale".
In its submission, IFPI states: "While digital recording technology and new distribution channels have provided artists more choice and opportunities than they have ever had before, record companies continue to be the main investors in music and artists".
"IFPI research shows that in year 2018 alone the industry invested $5.8 billion in 'artists and repertoire' and marketing (akin to research and development investment in traditional industries), amounting to 33.8% of the record companies' revenues".
"The record industry revenue growth has enabled record companies to invest more in artists and release more music, thereby generating job opportunities along the entire value chain", it adds.
"At the same time recording artists royalty agreements guarantee that the artists benefit directly from the growing industry revenue. In fact, data shows that the growth in artists' royalties has outpaced the growth of record companies' sales revenue over the past five years".
Of course, whether or not you accept any of these arguments as to why labels still incur risks and costs that justify taking the biggest slice of the digital pie, new artists do at least get to decide whether they think what is on offer is fair when signing their streaming-era record deals.
Some might argue that the major labels are so dominant that, to achieve global success, you have to sign to one of those three companies, meaning artists have to accept deals they consider unfair. Although - as the labels have been keen to stress in their submissions and at last week's oral hearing - artists now have plenty more choices when it comes to releasing their recorded music.
In its submission, the BPI talks about how labels - major and indie - now offer a wider range of deals to artists with more flexibility when negotiating terms. Plus artists can set up their own labels and make use of a distributor or artist services company.
"This plural environment means artists have enormous choice in the labels they choose to work with, the type of deal they wish to sign, and, indeed, in the era of streaming, whether to sign with a label at all", the BPI writes. "This means that 'DIY' self-releasing artists can release their music on streaming platforms, either themselves where user-upload is permitted or using aggregator distribution services".
However, while much of this inquiry to date has focused on what the economics of streaming means for new artists, what about heritage acts who signed record deals decades ago; whose recordings are still owned by their former labels; and who can't capitalise on all the choices now available to new artists choosing a business partner for their recordings?
The submission from the Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition makes the distinction between new and heritage acts. "Artists who signed record deals in the pre-streaming age face the biggest problems", it says. "These were often life of copyright deals paying royalties at much lower rates, and with additional deductions and discounts designed for physical sales. This could cut an already nominal royalty in half".
"Artists locked into these deals may also still be paying off old advances and costs, sometimes because they were actively releasing new music in an era where labels were prone to overspend on things like recording costs or video costs and then pass that expenditure onto their artists", it goes on.
"It's also worth noting that, because of the way traditional deals are structured, the label often goes into profit on a record release - in that it has covered all the costs it incurred - long before an artist has paid back any recoupable costs".
"Many artists locked into these unfavourable deals have seen their old recordings revitalised in the streaming age", it adds. "Digital streaming has removed logistical and transactional barriers when it comes to monetising catalogue. This makes the record industry's catalogue more valuable than ever".
"Unfortunately, however, the artists who made those historical recordings are often paid much lower royalties, meaning that labels not artists are benefiting from this increased value in catalogue".
Although the BPI's submission says "commercially successful artists often renegotiate [old deals], obtaining additional advances and sometimes securing higher royalty rates in recognition of their success", many managers argue that such renegotiations are, in fact, the exception rather than the norm. Superstar acts can always renegotiate of course. But for most middle-level heritage acts, even getting renegotiation talks started is a challenge.
MMF and FAC note that some independent labels - including Beggars and BMG - have voluntarily implemented policies to ensure that heritage artists enjoy royalties and/or contract terms more in line with what new deals provide in the streaming age. Such moves mean those artists get to benefit more from their reinvigorated catalogue.
All labels should pay modern royalties to all artists - MMF and FAC argue - and go above and beyond to ensure that no old fashioned discounts and deductions from the physical era are still impacting on streaming revenue. "After a set period of time, eg fifteen years, labels should write off any unrecouped costs that the artist is still paying off", it also suggests.
In its submission, BMG talks about its work ensuring that older records contracts - all of which it inherited through a series of catalogue acquisitions - are implemented in a fair way.
"When streaming came along, in most cases existing record deal terms designed for the compact disc or vinyl LP were applied to the new revenue stream, including discounts on royalties for packaging costs, promotional copies and returns (from retailers). Because none of these are relevant in the digital age", it adds, "BMG ceased applying such deductions in 2015".
After referencing some other old fashioned record industry contractural norms it goes on: "BMG takes the view that in the context of today it is no longer desirable to prolong [these norms]. We are therefore paying out more money, more quickly than we are contractually obliged to do. We are clear we cannot make good all of the sins of the past, but we are committed to doing what we can to improve".
MMF and FAC urge the culture select committee to call for a "government-led review of legacy contracts looking for and addressing common contract terms that only made sense in previous eras, or which were the result of institutionalised prejudice and discrimination in the record industry".
It then adds that "if record labels are unwilling to address these inequities, the other solution is to introduce so called equitable remuneration on streaming".
But more on that in a future economics of streaming update. Tomorrow, the song/recording split debate. Meanwhile, you can follow all our full coverage of the inquiry into the economics of streaming via this CMU timeline here.
PRS Foundation launches Power Up to support black music creators and industry professionals
Created in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars Group and the Black Music Coalition, and steered by a group of 80 black music professionals - including artist manager Keith Harris, music publisher Paulette Long and 0207 Def Jam A&R Director Char Grant - Power Up is also being supported by AIM, the BPI, the FAC, The Ivors Academy, the MMF, the MPA, MPG, the Musicians' Union, PPL, PRS For Music and the PRS Members' Fund.
Char Grant says: "I am very proud to be a part of the executive steering committee which is shaping the Power Up programme. I am beyond happy that our shared vision for the betterment of black people is starting to be delivered on terms that create real opportunity for the next generation of black artists, black creatives, and those that wish to build careers in the industry".
Power Up co-founder Ben Wynter adds: "I am proud and excited that after a long six months, Power Up is finally able to launch. Having been on the receiving end of unconscious bias and the structural and systemic anti-black behaviour that occurs within our industry, I know first-hand just how important Power Up is".
"Following on from Black Out Tuesday and seeing all of the posts of solidarity", he goes on "I realised that there was an opportunity to seize the moment and put something in place that would encourage the dialogue to last beyond the 2020 BLM movement and have a lasting impact over the next decade and beyond. Step forward, Power Up!"
Last year, 78% of black respondents to UK Music's 2020 Diversity Report survey said that they had experienced racism within the music industry.
The Killers have seemingly reunited with guitarist Dave Keuning. He left the group in 2017, but appeared in a new Instagram Live video shot by drummer Ronnie Vannucci.
Fredo has announced that he will release his new album 'Money Can't Buy Happiness' this week. The follow-up to 2019's 'Third Avenue', he has revealed that it was recorded after he scrapped another album. "I had a whole different style album that didn't really mean anything to me", he says. "Meanwhile, a lot was going on in life that I was angry and confused about. I really thought that once you have money, you can't not be happy inside, even if stuff's going on, but it's not like that". Listen to new Dave-produced single 'Back To Basics' here.
Jonsi has released new AG Cook-produced track 'Mold'.
Arca has released the video for new track 'Madre', featuring Oliver Coates.
Angel Haze has returned with new single 'Weight'. "It is about how we grow our power. It's about where to and how we carry everything we've had to survive, and then repurposing that energy", she says. "It took me quite some time to realise my weight, but now I'm too strong to hold. You will be too".
Melvins have released new track 'The Great Good Place'. New album 'Working With God' - featuring the band's reformed 1983 line-up - is out on 26 Feb.
Slayyyter has announced that she will release her debut album, 'Troubled Paradise', on 11 Jun. Here's the title track.
Tennin has released the video for her track 'Take A Ride'.
GIGS & TOURS
System Of A Down have announced that they will play a livestreamed show via their YouTube channel this Saturday, 30 Jan. The aim is to raise money to buy prosthetic limbs for Armenian soldiers who have lost arms and legs during fighting with Azerbaijan.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kodak Black will still give money to charity, despite deleted tweet, says lawyer
It was reported by TMZ yesterday that the tweet, which was originally posted in November last year, had been deleted. The article implies that the removal of the tweet was a recent occurrence. Not so, says attorney Bradford Cohen. Actually, it was taken down almost as soon as it was posted, he adds.
Black's tweet read: "If the president them free me, I'm gonna spend one million on charity within the first year I'm out. That's on everything".
The rapper's 46 month prison sentence - a result of him falsifying paperwork to obtain a firearm - was commuted by Donald Trump on his way out of the White House last week, setting Black free halfway through his jail time. The implication of deleting his tweet, as presented by TMZ, is that Black is now going back on his charitable offer.
Again, not so, says Cohen. Kodak Black remains a charitable guy. But the lawyer didn't think offering money for a pardon was a good look, so advised the tweet's deletion shortly after it was posted.
"I didn't think I had to address this because it's a non-story", he writes in an Instagram post. "But due to a slow news day, TMZ wishes to address a tweet that was sent out from Kodak Black's Twitter two months ago and deleted within a day or two of posting at my direction".
"A statement promising something for something in exchange is not appropriate", he continues. "And although Kodak has always given [to] charity his whole career and will continue to do charity, not in exchange for anything, some think this is a story. It isn't".
"Instead of harping on [about] a young black man and how much charity he does, why don't we take a look at the amount of charity the writers of these articles do. Last week Kodak pledged 100k to setting up a scholarship fund in the name of Meadow Pollack, the week before he donated 50k to [the] barstool fund to help small businesses. That's 150k and he's been out five days".
Cohen made a similar statement to TMZ, which it published in full - although it did not respond to his question about the charitable efforts of the article's writer. To be fair, I'm not sure it would be viable for a journalist to commit several years worth of salary to charity just to make a point. Also, charity isn't a competition. Still, I guess it might also be worth asking how much of any fees Black pays him Cohen then gives to charity, just to gauge things.
When it was announced that Black would be released early from prison at the behest of the then US president, a White House statement praised the rapper's "numerous philanthropic efforts". So it could be argued that it looks like Black's promise of large charitable donations - even if taken off Twitter quite quickly - still aided his freedom. Although, given how much Trump seems to have enjoyed randomly pardoning people, such a gesture may not have been required.
Meanwhile, however many charitable donations may have been made, the rapper still has legal woes. Black may have been absolved of all federal charges by Trump. However, a presidential pardon does not bring to an end to state charges. So, in South Carolina, Black is still facing a charge of "first-degree criminal sexual conduct", following an accusation that he raped a woman after a live show in 2016.
In other news, as well as giving money to charity, the rapper has also found time to get into a recording studio since his release. Last week he put out a new track, 'Last Day In', making reference to his pardon.