|WEDNESDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Live Nation in the US has sued insurance firm Factory Mutual over its failure to make good on losses incurred by the live music giant as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic... [READ MORE]|
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Live Nation sues insurer over COVID claim
In a lawsuit filed last week, Live Nation argues that its wide-ranging and costly insurance policy from Factory Mutual provided cover for losses made when its venues and other properties were unable to operate as a result of a communicable disease. Therefore the insurer should compensate the concert promoter and venue owner for lost income as a result of venues being shut and shows being cancelled because of regulations put in place in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Among the stats contained in Live Nation's lawsuit are that 150 of the firm's American venues were initially closed as COVID-19 regulations went into effect across the US, and 5000 shows were cancelled between March and September 2020 with 6000 more pushed back into 2021. Meanwhile, 62 employees contracted the virus in the first few months of the pandemic.
Factory Mutual, the legal filing says, is yet to compensate Live Nation for its COVID-caused losses. The insurer hasn't actually outright rejected the live firm's claim, but nor has it confirmed that it plans to provide coverage.
Live Nation is not the first to go legal in a dispute over COVID coverage from Factory Mutual. In some other cases a key debate has been whether insurance cover for "property loss" applies to losses incurred when properties are forced to close because of a pandemic, or only physical damage to a property.
However, Live Nation argues that there are several elements of its Factory Mutual policy that cover the kinds of losses it has incurred as a result of COVID-19, even if the "property loss" clause is interpreted narrowly.
The insurance firm hasn't commented on the specifics of its dispute with Live Nation. However, a spokesperson told Bloomberg: "[Factory Mutual] values the long-term relationships we have with our policyholders and we are proud in leading the industry for claims service. It is unfortunate when legal matters arise because we strongly believe our insurance policies are clear on the coverage provided".
Industry responds to UK regulator's decision on Viagogo/StubHub merger
After a lengthy investigation, the UK's Competition & Markets Authority concluded that a combined Viagogo/StubHub would totally dominate for-profit ticket touting within the British market, and therefore the merger of the two companies would "lead to a substantial reduction in competition in the secondary ticketing market" potentially negatively impacting consumers.
Although Viagogo disputed the market dominance claims - arguing it also competed with primary ticketing firms and face-value ticket exchanges - the often controversial ticket resale company nevertheless proposed remedies to the CMA to allay its competition concerns.
The most recent of those proposed remedies was the one the CMA ultimately accepted, a sale of all of StubHub's operations outside of North America. That may seem like a significant concession, although Viagogo's $4 billion purchase of StubHub was primarily about securing a dominant position in the North American market, where the latter is a much bigger player than the former.
In its statement yesterday, the CMA added that it will "determine key conditions of the sale, such as the right of the purchaser to use the StubHub brand for the next ten years". It will also have to approve the purchaser of the business before any sale goes through.
Adam Webb of the anti-touting FanFair Alliance yesterday confirmed that his organisation would now follow the sale of the StubHub business outside of North America very closely.
"Tackling this hugely controversial $4 billion merger was always going to be tough for regulators and we welcome the CMA's hard work during this investigation", he said. "Going forward, the most pertinent question will be the identity of potential buyers".
"Practically all of StubHub's value is in the company's North American operation", he went on. "Aside from the acquisition costs, anyone wishing to operate a successful uncapped ticket resale business in the UK would require two things: significant relationships with large-scale ticket touts to supply inventory, and deep enough pockets to outspend Viagogo on Google search advertising".
"That might be good for Google and it might be good for ticket touts", he added. "But we need a conclusion that's good for UK consumers, and stops them being ripped off".
Other campaigners welcomed the CMA's decision, though stressed that the focus remained on better regulating Viagogo, StubHub and all the other for-profit ticket resale platforms, in the UK and beyond.
Sharon Hodgson MP, a long-time campaigner against for-profit ticket touting, said: "Together, Viagogo and StubHub have a market share of more than 90% of the secondary ticket industry. It is therefore welcome news that their merger cannot go ahead".
"However, this will give no relief to the tens of thousands of fans who have already been ripped off by these websites, or those who may fall victim to their parasitical business models in the future", she added. "We now need to see the secondary ticket market properly regulated so consumers can once again trust the platforms they use. That means limits on advertising and immediate and tough action as soon as evidence is brought forward of consumer law being broken".
Sam Shemtob of the Face-value European Alliance For Ticketing also commended the CMA on its decision, and FanFair's work campaigning for the Viagogo/StubHub merger to be properly scrutinised. However, he echoed the calls for further better regulation of the secondary ticketing market, especially in those European countries where such regulation is somewhat lacking at the moment.
"We welcome the CMA's decision, for which both it and the FanFair Alliance ought to be applauded", he said. "The requirement will help protect the live sector across Europe from a concentration of market power from the world's largest uncapped secondary sites".
He went on: "When live events resume, reduced capacities and social distancing will likely lead to increased demand, making it more important than ever that fans can see their favourite bands at the prices intended. FEAT is working hard to make this possible, both with regulators and by developing best practice".
Viagogo itself has also responded to the CMA's decision. A spokesperson for the firm said yesterday: "We are pleased to have found a remedy that is acceptable to the CMA that will allow everyone involved to move forward with clarity and certainty. Importantly, both Viagogo and StubHub will continue to provide a safe and secure platform for people to buy and sell tickets to events all over the world".
R Kelly associate admits attempting to pay off witness
Richard Arline Jr also asked the woman not to hand over potentially incriminating videos to investigators. Unfortunately for him, those investigators were listening to and recording the call.
Arline pleaded guilty in court yesterday, admitting that he had offered the unnamed woman money more than once, in May and June 2020.
"Me and another person offered Jane Doe money for her to not go forward with her complaint or testimony against Robert Kelly", he said. "I knew what I did was wrong, and I'm sorry".
On one call, he is heard offering $500,000 in exchange for the unnamed woman's silence. In another, he is heard telling her that once she receives payment she would be expected to make videos of R Kelly in her possession "disappear". He also explicitly says that the offer of payment was authorised by Kelly himself.
In other intercepted communications Arline is heard telling another person that he needs to pay the woman "to be quiet" because "she got too much".
He now faces a sentence of up to fifteen years in prison.
Arline was arrested last August alongside two other man also accused of attempting to extort or intimidate witnesses in Kelly's pending sexual abuse trials.
Kelly's manager Donnell Russell is accused of threatening to leak nude photos of a woman if she did now withdraw from the investigation. Michael Williams is accused of setting fire to a car outside another woman's house, after sending threats to her father.
Kelly, of course, remains held in custody while he awaits trials in Chicago and New York to face numerous abuse charges. One of the reasons he has been denied bail is due to evidence of witness tampering during his previous child abuse trial in 2008.
Dissecting The Streaming Inquiry #08: Royalty Chains
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.
The most recent phase of the 'Digital Dollar' project has put the spotlight on songwriter royalties and the complex royalty chains that songwriter payments from streaming services often flow down. This is important because delays, disputes and deductions that occur on these often mysterious royalty chains can impact how much a songwriter earns from their streams and how soon they get paid.
The debate continues, of course, as to how much of the digital pie should be allocated to the song rights. Currently 50-55% of streaming income is allocated to recording rights and only 10-15% to song rights. Some people argue that the digital pie needs re-slicing, so that less goes to the recording and more goes to the song.
However, there has already been a re-slicing of the pie during the shift from selling discs to monetising streams. In the UK, the song royalty on a disc is 8.5% of the wholesale price of the CD or 6.5% of the retail price. The song royalty on a stream is up to 15% of the retail price of a subscription, ie more than double.
Now, a much more significant re-slicing of the pie may still be required. But if the share allocated to the song on a stream is more than double that on a CD, and with streaming revenues having been booming for five years now, why do so many songwriters say they are yet to see any financial benefit from the streaming market?
There are various factors at play here, but a key factor is the complex royalty chains through which streaming money flows. How much money is lost to commissions and fees as it flows down the chains? How much money is stuck in the system because of disputes over rights ownership? And how much money ends up in the black box - distributed based on market share - because of bad data?
There are two main reasons the song royalty chains in streaming are so complex.
First reason. A stream exploits both the mechanical rights and the performing rights of the copyright. In Anglo-American markets, the music publishers control the mechanical rights and the collecting societies control the performing rights. As a streaming service needs a licence for both, how should the music industry handle the licensing of songs?
Should the publishers license the mechanical rights and the societies the performing rights, meaning the service needs two sets of deals?
Or should the publishers allow the societies to include their mechanical rights in with the deals those societies negotiate? In the UK, this would mean the publishers allowing mechanical rights collecting society MCPS to license streaming services, and then MCPS allowing PRS to including those rights in its streaming deals.
Another option would be for the societies to allow the publishers to include the performing rights in deals the publishers directly negotiate.
Although, industry convention dictates that writers should always receive their share of performing rights income through the collective licensing system. So in this scenario, the publishers and societies need to form joint ventures - called special purpose vehicles - so that the writer's share of performing rights money never hits the publisher's bank account.
At the moment all three of those options are employed, depending on the repertoire and the country. Which approach is employed then dictates what route a songwriter's royalties take - ie what entities that money passes through between service and writer.
Most songwriters are unaware of what approach or approaches are being employed with their songs and therefore what royalty chains their money flows down.
Second reason. Music publishing was traditionally a very territorial business.
Collecting societies traditionally only issued licences in their home countries, allowing other societies to represent their repertoires in other markets. And many music publishers would allow other publishers to rep their catalogues in other countries where they didn't have their own base and/or were not a direct member of the local collecting society.
But streaming is a global business. A UK society or publisher can have a global relationship with a service like Spotify. And yet, in many countries, a local collecting society and/or sub-publisher may still collect streaming royalties due in that market.
This may be because of existing reciprocal deals or sub-publishing agreements that give those other societies and publishers a right to collect. Or it might be the result of copyright law or collecting society rules in those other countries. Or it might be for other practical reasons.
Either way, while many societies and publishers do now work directly with streaming services in multiple and possibly many markets, there are likely other countries - including some of the biggest music markets and fastest growing emerging markets - where local societies or sub-publishers are also involved. This puts extra links in the royalty chain.
The more royalty chains in play - and the more links in those chains - the longer it will take for a songwriter to get paid, the more monies will be deducted along the way, and the higher chance of money getting stuck or lost.
Now, both collecting societies and music publishers have been working to simply all this as the streaming market has evolved. Sometimes that has worked. Sometimes it has actually made things even more complicated.
From a songwriter perspective, the real issue here is transparency again. It is really hard for songwriters - and their managers - to understand what royalty chains are being employed by their publisher and society; what impact that has on the royalties they receive; and how switching to another publisher or another society might save money and get them paid quicker.
All of this is explained in much more detail in the Music Managers Forum's 'Song Royalties Guide'. And, unsurprisingly, this particular issue is a key feature of the submission made to the select committee's inquiry by the MMF and the Featured Artists Coalition.
MMF and FAC make a number of specific recommendations for addressing the royalty chain issues.
"All music publishers and collecting societies", they write, "should publish royalty chain information for all services in all countries, explaining what delays and deductions occur at each link of the chain so we can see how much money is flowing through the system and how much is leaking out in admin payments".
Publishers and collecting societies should also "seek to do truly global licensing deals – which are not currently the norm - so that the royalty chains are the same for each service on a global basis. This reduces the number of chains and the number of links in the chains".
The MMF/FAC submission also talks about the music right data issues we summarised in a previous report. With no global, authoritative, publicly accessible, real time database of music rights ownership information, the streaming services cannot identify what song is contained in each recording, let alone who owns and controls that song.
Identifying the song and ownership of that song therefore falls to whatever entity is the first link in any one royalty chain. The songwriter often doesn't have a direct connection with that entity or even know what that entity is. The music rights data problem, therefore, exacerbates the royalty chain problem, and the royalty chain problem exacerbates the music rights data problem.
Are the right songs being matched to each recording? Are the correct owners being identified? What if two entities both claim to control 60% of the same song? And, if songs - or the owners of a song - can't be identified, what happens to the money due to that song and those songwriters once it has slipped into the infamous 'black box'.
MMF/FAC have further recommendations in this domain.
"Collecting societies should routinely share data they hold relating to what songs are contained in what recordings, and who controls each song in each country", they say.
Also, "streaming services, collecting societies and music publishers should have systems in place to alert artists and their managers to any data conflicts in the system which could result in payments being halted".
And finally, "royalties that cannot be accurately allocated to specific songs should be used to fund data, educational and grassroots initiatives, rather than rewarding corporates and superstars who have already claimed, or should have claimed, all their royalties, thus motivating those corporates and superstars to tolerate a broken system".
You can follow all our coverage of the Parliamentary inquiry into the economics of streaming via this CMU timeline here.
Capital Xtra's DJ Tiiny will "accept consequences" following payola scandal
Last week, producer J Beatz posted a screengrab of an email he had received from the DJ on Twitter. In it, Tiiny - who is Stormzy's tour DJ - offers to premiere a track on his show and playlist it for two subsequent weeks, in exchange for £200.
The DJ's show was then removed from the Capital Xtra schedule on Sunday and his profile was subsequently deleted from its website. The station and its parent company Global have, however, not commented directly or confirmed that his departure is permanent.
Tiiny himself has now issued a statement via social media, saying: "Over the last couple of days I have learnt a much needed lesson. I was given an incredible opportunity within radio [but] carelessly and irresponsibly took advantage of my position".
"I take full responsibility for my actions and fully accept the consequences as a result", he continues. "I am very sorry to everyone this has affected and to those I have let down".
It's not clear how long Tiiny had been requesting payments like this and how many artists or labels, if any, had stumped up the cash. The Sun reports that Global has launched an internal investigation.
Ofcom rules prohibit any "commercial arrangement that involves payment, or the provision of some other valuable consideration, to the broadcaster [that] may influence the selection or rotation of music for broadcast".
If found in breach of these rules, broadcasters can face fines or ultimately lose their licence.
Marilyn Manson loses agent and TV roles over Evan Rachel Wood abuse allegations
Following rumours that CAA was considering cutting ties with Manson, it was confirmed that he had been removed from the agency's roster by The Hollywood Reporter yesterday evening. The company represented Manson in multiple areas.
Meanwhile, US TV channel Starz said that Manson's recurring character in the show 'American Gods' would be cut, and an upcoming episode in which he was set to appear would not air until he had been edited out. AMC's horror streaming service Shudder also announced that it would not air an upcoming episode of its series 'Creepshow' in which Manson appears.
This follows Wood's decision on Monday to name Manson as the abuser who she has spoken about but not named on numerous previous occasions since 2016. In a social media post, she said that he had "started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years". Several other women then came forward with similar allegations after Wood went public.
Soon after Wood's post, Manson was dropped by his label Loma Vista Recordings, with his profile and all releases removed from its website.
Responding to the allegations against him, Manson said in a statement on Monday: "Obviously, my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy, but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality. My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners. Regardless of how – and why – others are now choosing to misrepresent the past, that is the truth".
Yesterday, another of Manson's former partners, actor Rose McGowan - who has been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement - offered a statement in solidarity with Wood, saying: "I am profoundly sorry to those who have suffered the abuse and mental torture of Marilyn Manson"
"I stand with Evan Rachel Wood and all of those who have or will come forward", she added. "And please don't pull out the 'why did they take so much time to come forward?' question that shames victims/survivors - it's what stops others from coming forward. And to all of those who have covered for monsters, shame on you. Rise and say no more".
McGowan's statement is particularly significant because her name was brought up in defence of Manson by his publicist in a statement to Metal Hammer last year.
The statement was made after Manson abruptly ended an interview with the magazine when Wood's name was brought up. It read: "Rose is one of the bravest and most outspoken figureheads of the #MeToo movement. Manson remains friends with McGowan and she talks very fondly of their three a half years together".
It remains to be seen if Manson loses any further business partners as a result of Wood's statement, or if he will take action to attempt to clear his name.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO. He has an exciting new gig as, well, Executive Chair of Amazon. He'll focus on new products and innovations in the new role, leaving his successor as CEO - Andy Jassy - to do all the other boring CEO type stuff. The executive rejig at the top of the US web giant is set to happen in September.
Concord has promoted seven of its executives. Seven! It's a promotion bonanza! Anyway, this is supposed to be short - a one liner even. But still, here's all the info: Sophia Dilley is now SVP Film & TV Development & Production, Steven Greenhalgh is VP Acquisitions & Artistic Development (Europe), Dan Hoffman is EVP Business & Legal Affairs, Stephanie Hopson is VP Project Management, Steven Lankenau is SVP Boosey & Hawkes, Amy Rose Marsh is VP Acquisitions & Artistic Development (North America), and Abbie Van Nostrand is SVP Client Relations & Community Engagement. Concord has actually promoted 50 of its staff, but I think we'll probably stop there.
Downtown Music Publishing has hired Sarah McCann to fill the newly created role of Senior Vice President Of International Creative. "I am THRILLED to be joining the incredibly diverse global team at Downtown Music Publishing and look forward to being a part of the next chapter in its remarkable legacy", she says.
Warner Music has promoted Karen Schoenrock to CFO of Global Recorded Music Catalogue and catalogue division Rhino Entertainment in the US. "Warner Music Group has been my home for almost two decades - nearly the entirety of my professional career", she says. "I'm excited to start this new journey with the entire Global Catalogue and Rhino team, and look forward to working closely with the beloved and storied catalogues that we're fortunate enough to care for".
Bill Evans has been promoted to EVP Urban Promotion at Universal Music's Capitol Music Group in the US. "Since Bill joined the company two years ago, he and I have formed an incredible partnership built on a collaborative approach and shared strategic vision for our artists' releases", says President Of Promotion Greg Marella. In other news, Capitol Music Group is still using the term 'urban'.
Sony Music's Columbia Records France has announced Karim Ech-Choayby as its new Head of A&R. "I have always admired how Columbia put the artist first in everything they do", he says. "French music is more vibrant and varied than ever before and is a constantly changing landscape. So I'm excited to be taking up the challenge of discovering the next best artists and music scenes that appeal both to music lovers in France and around the world".
Universal Music Group has promoted Will Tanous to Chief Administrative Officer. "Will Tanous is one of the most strategic, multi-talented executives in the music business today – he's my proverbial 'Swiss Army' knife", says CEO Lucian Grainge. Presumably his promotion is based on the ability not to lose the tweezers and toothpick.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Spotify has finally launched in the sixth biggest recorded music market in the world that is South Korea. Why? Well, why the fuck not? Answer me that people, why the fuck not!
Billie Eilish has released a new trailer for upcoming documentary 'The World's A Little Blurry'. The film will be available on Apple TV+ from 26 Feb.
A$AP Rocky has released new track 'G-Unit Rice' on Instagram.
Nitin Sawhney has announced that he will release new album 'Immigrants' on 19 Mar. The record is a sequel to his 1999 album 'Beyond Skin'. It's "an album of unique collaborations, with an aim to redefine our perception of identity and the universal language of music", he says. Here's new single 'Differences', featuring Abi Sampa and Rushil.
Iceage have released new single 'The Holding Hand' - their first for Mexican Summer. "The song lives in a slurred world, movements are elastically stretched out and strength is found in weakness while you find it hard to tell the difference between fume and matter", says vocalist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. "Gently the swaying intensifies, feel it escalate. Reach out for the holding hand, it seems almost within scope now".
Cannibal Corpse have released new single 'Inhumane Harvest'. Their new album, 'Violence Unimagined', is set for release through Metal Blade on 16 Apr.
Kip Berman - formerly of The Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart - has announced new solo project The Natvral. He will release his first album under the name, titled 'Tether', on 2 Apr. From it, this is 'Why Don't You Come Out Anymore?'
GIGS & TOURS
Arlo Parks has announced new UK tour dates in November, which you will either think sensible or optimistic. If you want to get tickets and be sure of experiencing her live show though, you should order a new edition of her album featuring a bonus live performance from her website - all profits from which will go to the Music Venue Trust and grant you access to a ticket pre-sale. Parks is also yet to postpone shows scheduled for May through to August.
The Get Up Kids have announced that they will play their 1999 album 'Something To Write Home About' in full on a Valentine's Day livestream. Tickets here.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Baby to release experimental electronic album
If that sounds a bit like some parents trying to sell prints of their ultrasound photos, well, maybe it is. Although if someone unaware of the story behind this music was to overhear you listening to it, they are unlikely the shout "switch off that bloody baby music!" They're much more likely to ask you why you're playing something that sounds so ominous.
Anyway, the marketing blurb for the album, titled 'Sounds Of The Unborn', states: "With the help of her parents - Psychic Ills bassist Elizabeth Hart and Lee 'Scratch' Perry collaborator Iván Diaz Mathé - Luca's prenatal essence was captured in audio. They designed a ritual, a kind of joint meditation for the three of them, with the MIDI devices hooked to Elizabeth's stomach, transcribing its vibrations into Iván's synthesisers".
"They let the free-form meditations flow without much interference, just falling deeper into trance and feeling the unity. After five hour-long sessions, the shape of an album began to emerge. Elizabeth and Iván then edited and mixed the results of the sessions, respecting the sounds as they were produced, trying to intervene as little as possible, allowing Luca's message to exist in its raw form".
I still can't shake the feeling that this is much more interesting to the parents than anyone else. Still, it's not as bad as that single a French baby put out in the 90s.