FRIDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: It was the turn of the independent label community to be questioned by MPs as part of the ongoing economics of streaming inquiry in Parliament yesterday. Most of the same topics were brought up as when the major label bosses were grilled last month, which meant we got to see where majors and indies agree and disagree on the various different elements of the digital dollar debate... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Indie labels in the spotlight as Parliament's economics of streaming inquiry continues
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DEALS Massive Attack sell recordings catalogue
Scorpions extend BMG deal

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LIVE BUSINESS Denying UK musicians visa-free EU touring is "absurd and self-defeating", says Culture Secretary, but don't expect to get it
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Universal pulls catalogue from Triller
Dissecting The Streaming Inquiry #10: Curation and algorithms
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ARTIST NEWS Sia apologises over portrayal of autism in her debut film
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ONE LINERS Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Demi Lovato, more
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AND FINALLY... Lil Yachty to star in movie based on Uno card game
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Indie labels in the spotlight as Parliament's economics of streaming inquiry continues
It was the turn of the independent label community to be questioned by MPs as part of the ongoing economics of streaming inquiry in Parliament yesterday. Most of the same topics were brought up as when the major label bosses were grilled last month, which meant we got to see where majors and indies agree and disagree on the various different elements of the digital dollar debate.

Facing the questioning were Yvette Griffith of Jazz Re:freshed, Rupert Skellett of the Beggars Group, and Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Association Of Independent Music.

Among the topics where there is some consensus between the majors and the indies - and possibly a difference of opinion between the label community and many artist and songwriter groups - are user-centric royalty distribution, the definition of a stream, and the ins and outs of life-of-copyright record deals.

Although some of the differences between the majors and indies do possibly reframe those debates. The major label chiefs were keen to stress that they now offer new artists a much bigger variety of deal options and are much more flexible when it comes to deal terms. But that has been true of the indie sector for much longer.

And, as a general rule, many indies have been more generous and more consistent when it comes to interpreting pre-digital record contracts for the digital age, and in sharing the extra value of streaming deals that comes from things like advances and equity.

Nevertheless, let's deal with each of those three areas of consensus in turn.

On shifting to a user-centric approach for royalty distribution - which we explain in more detail here - all three indie label reps expressed concerns, despite Skellett and Pacifico both conceding that such an approach does, on a basic level, seem fairer.

Pacifico also noted that a shift to user-centric could combat some fraud currently occurring on the streaming platforms.

However, there are issues with the user-centric system. Skellett highlighted the "cost of implementation" and the fact that user-centric payments are "very difficult to audit". Expanding on the latter point, Pacifico pointed out that, in a user-centric world, a million streams could be worth £5000 one month and £500 the next.

Perhaps more importantly - while most research suggests that user-centric would redistribute some money from the superstars down the artist hierarchy - there's also reason to believe that independent artist and labels would earn less with that approach.

Griffith explained: "I don't think user-centric is going to work for the indie sector, because the type of people who are going to listen to a lot of indie label music are the people who actively want to discover new things - and they are going to be streaming quite broad amounts of music - meaning their £9.99 would be spread very thinly".

Pacifico concurred. One issue with user-centric, he added, is that it "brings us to a place where music discovery and curiosity becomes devalued in the streaming economy". And that will likely favour older music and heritage acts. "The winners would likely be the Eagles rather than Eagles Of Death Metal", he added.

Not that there aren't issues with the current royalty distribution model too, Pacifico admitted. In its written submission AIM has proposed what it calls the 'artist growth model', whereby the first million streams of any one track generate a higher rate. The per-play rate then declines as the streams mount up.

Next, how do we define a stream? Is it a sale or is it a licence? Is it closer to a CD or a broadcast? Or it is something completely different? Should we treat it more like a rental? These are loaded questions, of course, because the answers can impact on how artists get paid.

Either by influencing how pre-digital contracts should be interpreted when deciding on what royalty rate should apply to digital income. Or by fuelling the argument that equitable remuneration should be paid on streams, so that artists get automatic payments through the collective licensing system oblivious of what deals they agreed with their record labels.

Most indies, like the majors, see streaming as a form of sales income, and oppose the idea of ER being paid on streams. Obviously streaming is something entirely different to what went before - and therefore needs to be defined differently - but it's wrong to simply classify it as a form of broadcast or rental, most labels - major and indie - would argue.

That said, Pacifico noted, this is a debate that changes somewhat if labels are more generous and consistent when it comes to dealing with pre-digital contracts.

Which is to say, they adopt policies like those employed by Beggars whereby one streaming royalty rate is applied across the entire catalogue, oblivious of what old contracts say. And any monies the artist still owes the label from past advances and other recoupable expenditure is written off after a period of time.

Beggars pays a 25% streaming royalty to all its artists and writes off unrecouped balances after fifteen years. "Our chairman, Martin Mills, has tried to persuade the majors over a number of years to adopt at least a minimum royalty rate for all artists", Skellett said.

"It's unconscionable that some artists from legacy contracts are getting less than a 10% royalty on digital", he added. "We would urge the majors to adopt the Beggars company policy of having a minimum royalty rate and wiping unrecouped balances after a time".

"If people cleaned up their legacy contracts and did the sorts of things Rupert has talked about", Pacifico went on, "then the conversation about how to define a stream becomes easier to have, because there are less vested interests in what the definition should be".

And finally, life-of-copyright record deals - another debate that possibly shifts if unrecouped balances are written off and company-wide royalty rates are applied.

A classic record deal sees the label become owner of the copyright in any sound recordings created for as long as that copyright exists, so that's 70 years after release in Europe.

Actually, in the indie sector, many labels now don't do life-of-copyright deals, and some never did, instead taking ownership or control of the rights for a fixed period of time. However, some indies, especially those that make bigger investments, do still push for life-of-copyright deals like the majors do.

And that includes Beggars. "We do still try and get life-of-copyright deals where we can", Skellett told MPs. Beggars see themselves as being partners with artists for the lifetime of each copyright, he added, and the company's business model relies of having the profits of catalogue recordings to pump money into new signings and new releases.

Under US copyright law there is termination right which means that creators who assign their rights to another party can terminate the assignment after 35 years, and get their rights back. That termination right has been brought up by MPs several times during this inquiry.

Though, what hasn't really been discussed is that it is still of debate in the US whether that termination right even applies to record contracts, with two test cases involving Sony Music and Universal Music currently working their way through the courts. There's also an ongoing debate as to whether that termination right allows artists and songwriters who signed deals in the UK to reclaim their US rights.

Skellett alluded to those legal ambiguities, although said that whenever a Beggars artist had sought to enforce the termination right, "we will not get into litigation with the artist - instead we will try and persuade them to say with us". Given the termination right only applies in the US, a label can offer kickbacks elsewhere in the world if the artist keeps their American rights with the company.

But if a wide-ranging termination right was introduced in the UK, "that would be pretty disastrous for us", Skellett went on, again stressing that its the profits from the Beggars catalogue that allows the company to keep on investing in new music.

Plus, whereas once a song copyright has been assigned that's it, artists can always record new versions of old songs after their deal with any one label is done, albeit subject to any re-record restrictions in the original contract.

For Griffith, the introduction of a termination right wouldn't make any difference to her business, as Jazz Re:freshed doesn't do life-of-copyright deals, and generally has licensing arrangements with its artists.

However, she acknowledged the importance of labels having income from old deals to invest into new deals. And again, the debate around life-of-copyright deals shifts when labels are fairly interpreting old contracts in the new age by adopting those Beggars style royalty rate and recoupment policies.

Of life-of-copyright deals she added: "Providing the artist is absolutely clear of what they are signing up to - and you have full transparency - then I am fine with that".

You can follow all our full coverage of the Parliamentary inquiry into the economics of streaming via this CMU timeline here.

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Massive Attack sell recordings catalogue
Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall have sold their rights in the group's five albums to Hip... no, it's Round Hill Music.

"Massive Attack are authentic trailblazers who are revered by their peers and music fans alike", says Robin Godfrey-Cass, Managing Director of Round Hill's London office. "The band's body of work, which Robert and Grant have been key contributors to over the last three decades, is astonishing and we are proud that they have chosen us to oversee their legacy".

CEO of Round Hill Music, Josh Gruss, adds: "To be working with their incredible catalogue is fantastic. Massive Attack's music is timeless and their importance as innovators is immense".

Del Naja - aka 3D - and Marshall - aka Daddy G - are both founder and the longest-serving members of Massive Attack. Marshall only features on four of the five albums in the band's catalogue though, having not been involved with 2003's '100th Window'.

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Scorpions extend BMG deal
Scorpions have marked the 30th anniversary of their biggest hit single 'Wind Of Change' by extending their publishing agreement with BMG. Well, you've got to celebrate in whatever way you can in the current circumstances, haven't you?

"We are pleased to extend our publishing relationship with BMG after a long and successful collaboration", say the band. "The journey together is the reward – we look forward to it".

BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch adds: "Scorpions are among the true greats of rock music. We are lucky to enjoy a multifaceted relationship with them and are delighted that they have chosen to renew their publishing relationship with BMG".

The deal covers almost all of the band's songs since 1977, but most importantly 'Wind of Change'. That being the one you probably actually know. Which might seem to be a flippant thing to say, but it is the band's biggest hit and one of the best selling singles of all time.

Also, the re-signing of the deal follows the recent release of BMG's 'Wind Of Change' boxset. That's an entire boxset devoted just to 'Wind Of Change', featuring ten different versions along with other related material. So, you know.

To accompany the boxset, BMG also produced a podcast series about the song too. Although, with that, they may have been simply hoping to drown out the Spotify podcast that was released last summer questioning whether or not 'Wind Of Change' was actually written by the CIA. I'll save you six hours of your life: It wasn't.

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Denying UK musicians visa-free EU touring is "absurd and self-defeating", says Culture Secretary, but don't expect to get it
UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said that leaving UK artists without access to visa-free touring across the European Union post-Brexit is "absurd and self-defeating".

But before you get too warmed by that, Elton John left a meeting with the politician this week with the belief that any plan to go back to the negotiating table to secure an agreement that would allow such access is not "on the cards".

Dowden spoke on the subject in the House Of Commons yesterday, after Conservative MP Clive Watling told him that discussions about visa-free touring "must be brought back to the table".

"Touring performers will be left with a double whammy of an industry devastated by COVID and the loss of an entire continent as a venue", said Watling. "Will [Dowden] please bang the table and get the EU back to talk on this?"

Dowden agreed that the barriers now facing British musicians who want to tour Europe are "absurd and self-defeating" and "could have been solved" before 1 Jan, when the UK finally cut ties with the EU.

However, he again blamed European officials for the failure to reach an agreement that musicians touring Europe would not need travel permits and/or equipment carnets post-Brexit, something UK ministers had promised the music community.

Culture minister Nigel Huddleston added that the "door always remains open" for further talks. However, a door can be open without anyone actually walking through it. And that, according to Elton John at least, is what is set to happen.

John and his husband David Furnish met with Dowden in a video call earlier this week, in which they seem to have agreed that being able to earn a living from touring - even once COVID is over - is now going to be very difficult for many British musicians. They did then talk about organising a website to explain that to artists though. So that's good.

"It's much more difficult for young artists to get this together because of all the red tape", John told the BBC after the meeting. "Every country has these different rules, there's so much procedure to go through. People like myself are not really affected by it, [as] we have a foundation of people who can look after it. It still has to be done but it's much easier".

"We find ourselves in the situation because of Brexit, this has arisen", he went on. "How do we fix this? How can we fix this? I want the situation to be resolved, so that young people don't have the difficulties of trying to tour in Europe, because it will affect their careers, it will stunt their growth and their creativity".

One idea discussed in the meeting was setting up this website, seemingly funded by record labels, to help artists "with the logistics of touring in Europe".

"If they can be helped through this it will take away a lot of their fears, and make life easier", said John. "I'm sure we can establish this, and we have to basically, otherwise they're going to have not much of a future, and that is a crying shame, as there's so many great artists out there".

Dowden also tweeted: "Great to speak with [Elton John] and David Furnish on growing the UK music sector. We had a very positive call where we discussed opportunities to help talented musicians tour both EU and rest of the world more easily. Lots of work going on in government on this".

Of course, the easiest way to avoid all this - and all the other destruction of UK businesses brought on by Brexit - would be to not to have left the EU in the first place. But, hey, that's done now. Well done, everyone. Still, I think we can all agree that it will have been worth it if we get a nice new website to look at.

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Universal pulls catalogue from Triller
Universal Music has announced that it is withdrawing all of its content from TikTok rival Triller with immediate effect. The major label says that the service has withheld payments and refused to negotiate new licences.

"We will not work with platforms that do not value artists", says Universal in a statement. "Triller has shamefully withheld payments owed to our artists and refuses to negotiate a licence going forward. We have no alternative except to remove our music from Triller, effective immediately".

Although launched in 2015, Triller enjoyed a boost last year, helped in part by then US President Donald Trump's attack on TikTok and other political woes facing its biggest competitor. Having raised around $100 million in funding, and reportedly looking to raise $250 million more, there are also rumours that the Triller company is seeking to IPO.

The app has secured licensing deals and partnerships with various music companies, including the majors, but is by no means completely covered, especially on the songs side. Which is something that the boss of the US National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, noted last year.

Then, in November, music publisher Wixen sued Triller over allegedly unlicensed songs being used in the app. The publisher argued that rather than paying songwriters, the Triller company prioritises mega-bucks deals with 'social influencers'.

Losing the Universal catalogue is a significant blow to Triller, the label being the largest owner of recording rights in the music industry. The decision to withdraw its music is presumably an attempt to force Triller into agreeing better licensing terms.

With new style services that use music, labels sometimes initially agree to relatively short-term experimental licences, often based around lump-sum advances, and possibly getting equity in the business. More long-term deals are then done once the new service's business model is better realised.

Terms of Triller's initial label deals aren't known, of course, though it is thought that the majors - including Universal - got a minority stake in the social app.

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Dissecting The Streaming Inquiry #10: Curation and algorithms
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.

The streaming services in general - and Spotify in particular - get a great deal of critism online, especially from music-makers, over the streaming music business model and the low per-play royalties that are paid. So, it's interesting that the services themselves have so far avoided too much harsh criticism during this Parliamentary inquiry.

Of course, the services haven't yet appeared before MPs - that starts next week - and the criticism of the digital companies might increase at those sessions. But it's pretty common that, while concerns about the streaming music business often start with Spotify dissing, once people start digging attention shifts more to how the monies paid over by the streaming services are shared out around the music community.

However, there is one element to this debate that is getting increased attention which is entirely based on the decisions and practices of the streaming services themselves. And that's curation and algorithms.

With so much music available on the streaming services, and so much new music being added every single week, most users rely heavily on the streaming platforms to help them navigate the tens of million of tracks they can choose from.

That begins with simple user-experience factors like how music is presented within the platforms and how search tools work. But it then quickly gets into more sophisticated curation and discovery functionality.

Quite how this works varies from platform to platform. Indeed, with pretty much every service having the exact same catalogue of music, the platforms have often used their navigation and discovery tools to try to gain competitive advantage, so "our discovery tools are better than their discovery tools".

The approach each platform takes has also changed over time. The services often respond to what the data tells them about consumer behaviour, or just change their minds over how they want curation and discovery to work.

In the early days Spotify encouraged users and third-party influencers - including artists and labels - to be the curators. Then it decided that it wanted to lead the curation process, and now very much pushes its own playlists and curation tools to the fore. In more recent years, Spotify has also put ever more effort into and focus on its algorithm, both to inform and refine its human curated playlists, and with its entirely data-driven recommendation tools.

The streaming services are always very focused on consumer experience and understand how people interact with their platforms and catalogues better than anyone. Therefore many of the developments in this space are good developments.

However, there are increasing concerns about the decisions the services make in this regard and the impact that might have on what kinds of artists, tracks and genres get pushed - whether by human curators or the algorithm - and whether that, deliberately or inadvertently, puts certain artists, tracks or genres at a disadvantage.

Others question what impact those decisions have of the economics of the music industry. Through their playlists, the streaming services are good at delivering sudden spikes in listening for tracks, but do they encourage the kind of sustained repeat listening labels need to make a return on their investment?

And do they encourage users to engage with an artist and their wider output, to help grow the fanbase an artist needs to build a sustainable business around their music?

There are also transparency concerns. Although Spotify in particular has gone out of its way to open up its playlist pitching processes to the wider music community - and other services have followed that lead to one extent or another - there isn't always total transparency about how things work, and all the more so once it's an algorithm doing the curation.

As with social media algorithms, this increases the amount of trial and error artist and labels must undertake to figure out what kinds of marketing strategies work - and once you've done that, the algorithm usually changes.

And on top of all that, some also fear that - if commercial considerations don't already currently impact on curation decisions - they might do down the line.

A number of the submissions made to the select committee discuss these issues.

In its submission, Beggars writes: "The algorithm is now in charge, it has largely taken the place of charts, chart shows and even reviews. Spotify in particular is very focused on utilising algorithms to deliver what they think the user will listen to".

"Spotify resists attempts for rights owners to promote their own recordings via third-party owned playlists on the platform", it goes on. "The whole ecosystem is very much Spotify's USP and they resist any non-Spotify offering".

Not only that, but "there is a clear policy to overlook albums and concentrate on individual tracks. For example, on the new release page on Spotify there is no distinction between EPs, singles and albums".

Noting that an increasingly significant percentage of listening on Spotify is algorithm driven, Beggars concedes that, on one level, "this can be good for music discovery", but, it adds, "it can also lean towards the homogenous - as with all algorithms".

In its submission, music distribution firm state51 also makes some interesting observations about the impact of the streaming services' curation systems on the kinds of music people consume, and even the kinds of music artists make.

"Platforms more recently have moved away from the notion of 'consumers as curators', preferring to regain effective control of the music discovery process through their own algorithmic and curated playlists", it writes.

"Through their artist tools, platforms are also now intervening to influence the style of music being made. It's not clear where this might take the industry; one model would suggest that music could become much more 'average', with less room in the market for radical innovation or subcultures".

In its submission, contemporary classical label NMC expresses concern that curation decisions made by the services might disadvantage more niche genres, and the artists and labels that occupy those scenes.

"While algorithmic interventions can help users to easily find tracks in the same style as the ones they've been listening to", it writes, "algorithms mitigate against promoting the music of 'outliers', and growing audiences for more experimental or different music".

"In other words", it goes on, "they do not promote diversity of expression or creativity. Ultimately, this must have a deadening effect on the industry. Critics have written about the tendency for 'personalisation to the point of banality' and the 'one-size fits all approach'".

Some of the submissions also make reference the potential of commercial considerations becoming part of the curation process. The major labels are adamant they do not secure preferential treatment in this domain in their licensing deals, insisting that they are pitching tracks to curators and learning how to play the algorithm just like everyone else.

However, under the current model, some tracks are cheaper for a streaming service to deliver than others. And while that may not be influencing curation choices today, it could in the future. And, of course, Spotify recently began piloting a new service whereby artists and labels can inform its algorithm about priority or newsworthy tracks in return for agreeing to a discount when those tracks are then streamed.

Opinion is divided on that proposal. Some see it as a modern version of payola - ie paying radio stations to play your music - and a sign that all the concerns were justified over commercial considerations becoming part of the curation process.

Others see it as a desirable development, allowing the industry to ensure that the Spotify algorithm is considering the priorities of artists and labels, and without any upfront costs that would price out independents. Several submissions make reference to this development.

Beggars writes: "There is a risk that certain cheaper content is prioritised over more expensive content – and, in fact, [recently] Spotify announced it is going to offer rights owners the chance to get additional plays in return for accepting a discount to the amounts payable. The result of this will, we fear, be that the service increasingly chooses to push music according to how much it costs them".

In its submission BMG notes: "Spotify's announcement that it is to offer labels paid-for personalised recommendations which influence algorithmic playlists has been widely criticised by artists as a form of digital age 'payola'. While it is too early to say whether such language is justified, any mechanism which is seen to rig the market in favour of the biggest and best-funded players will inevitably raise concerns about market manipulation".

Meanwhile, in its submission, the Ivors Academy writes of Spotify's pilot: "This development is a trial and many details are unknown, such as the level of reduction, duration of the reduction and whether it is intended to affect the writers' royalties. But on the face of it this is a concerning development, as it reduces the royalty rate for creators when they thought the royalty rates could not get any lower".

This aspect of the economics of streaming debate hasn't been as widely discussed over the years - although it was the focus of the first One Step Ahead report from IMPALA and CMU Insights last year, which all IMPALA members can download.

Most in the music community would acknowledge that the streaming services are the experts when it comes to user experience. However, there is a case for more transparency being needed as services evolve their curation systems and policies. And possibly a more wide-ranging debate involving the platforms and the music industry to discuss the various concerns being raised. We will see if any of that happens.

You can follow all our coverage of the Parliamentary inquiry into the economics of streaming via this CMU timeline here.

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CMU Insights: The Economics Of Streaming
The economics of streaming inquiry in Parliament continues, with the indies in the spotlight yesterday, and another session next week involving the digital services and various music industry trade groups.

Don't forget we have various resources to help you navigate and understand all the debates.

First, there's the CMU timeline specifically documenting the culture select committee's inquiry. That includes our full ten-part review of the written submissions made to the committee.

Secondly, to dig deeper, don't forget the 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' book. Based on five years of research undertaken by CMU Insights with and for the UK's Music Managers Forum, the 'Digital Dollar' book is an in-depth guide to the digital music business, the deals done between the streaming services and the music industry, and all the various issues that have been raised along the way.

And finally, the latest round of CMU's 'Streaming Explained' webinar series is ongoing. You can access a recording of this week's first session, and tune in live to upcoming webinars on digital licensing and the digital pie debate. Click here for info

 

Sia apologises over portrayal of autism in her debut film
Sia has issued an apology over how autism is portrayed in some parts of her debut movie, 'Music'. This came a day after the film received two Golden Globe nominations.

The film has proven controversial for a number of reasons, almost entirely related to the portrayal of a nonverbal autistic character. Early anger was aimed at the fact that regular Sia collaborator, Maddie Ziegler, who is not autistic, had been cast in that role.

The musician made things worse by refusing to accept any such criticism, and then saying that Ziegler's casting was more "nepotism" than "ableism", because Sia couldn't "do a project without her".

That was all before people even saw the film. When they did, a long list of other complaints arose.

One concern in particular relates to scenes in the film of Ziegler's character being restrained. Sia says that she now accepts that these scenes should not have been in the movie, adding that she will cut them in a future version.

When it hits digital services later this month though, it will be preceded by a warning, stating: "'Music' in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people. There are autistic occupational therapists that specialise in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help with meltdown safety".

Saying that she was "sorry", yesterday, Sia tweeted: "I listened to the wrong people and that is my responsibility, my research was clearly not thorough enough, not wide enough".

She subsequently deleted her Twitter account.

Nonetheless, there are still those Golden Globe nominations. Kate Hudson is in the running to be named Best Female Actor In A Musical Or Comedy. And the whole film is up for the Best Musical Or Comedy award. You know, "musical or comedy" seems like an odd category distinction. Unless it's meant as a question, I suppose.

"This movie is a love letter to everyone who has ever felt they didn't have a voice", said Sia in a statment following the nominations announcement. "What an incredible, exciting and unbelievable experience. Congratulations to all the cast and crew, and thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press. What an honour!"

'Music' is set to arrive on digital services for your home viewing pleasure (or otherwise) on 15 Feb. Sia's new album, 'Music - Songs From And Inspired By The Motion Picture', is out on 12 Feb. And newly out from it is the latest collaboration between Sia and David Guetta, 'Floating Through Space'.

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APPOINTMENTS

Mike Watson has been promoted to CFO of Warner Music UK. He was previously SVP Finance and started at the company as an intern in 2004. "I'm proud to lead an experienced and versatile finance team whose business support is second to none and many of whom I have had the pleasure of working with for a number of years", he says.

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RELEASES

Cardi B has released new single 'Up'. Speaking to Zane Lowe on Apple Music, the rapper says she plans to release a new album this year, and already has "like 50" tracks recorded.

Megan Thee Stallion and Bobby Sessions have released new track 'I'm A King', taken from the soundtrack of new Eddie Murphy movie 'Coming 2 America' - the sequel to 1988's 'Coming To America' - which is out next month.

Demi Lovato and Sam Fischer have released new single 'What Other People Say'. "This song is a reflection on what it's like to lose who you truly are in an effort to please other people and society", says Lovato. "It's why I wanted to make this song with Sam – ultimately it's about two humans coming together to connect and find solutions to their problems".

Vic Mensa has released new track 'Shelter', featuring Chance The Rapper and Wyclef Jean. "'Shelter' is a spiritual note, a healing frequency", says Mensa. "It was inspired not by Hollywood or Paris, but by what's going on on the ground – in the real world, with the real people".

Hayley Williams has released new album 'Flowers For Vases/Descansos'. "This isn't really a follow-up to [2020 album] 'Petals For Armor'", she says. "If anything, it's a prequel, or some sort of detour between parts one and two of 'Petals'. The meaning of the album as a whole is maybe entirely different from diving into each song in particular".

Freddie Gibbs has released new track 'Gang Sign', featuring Schoolboy Q.

The KLF appear to have released a new album. Of sorts, anyway. 'Come Down Dawn' is a reworked version of their 1990 album 'Chill Out' with uncleared samples removed.

Marina has released an Empress Of remix of recent single 'Man's World', featuring drag queen Pabllo Vittar.

Kojey Radical has released 'Shellers', a diss track aimed at the character of Aang from 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' from the perspective of the character of Zuko from 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'. It's part of the 'Fire In The Spoof' parody rap series.

Alice Cooper has released new single 'Social Debris'.

Tiggs Da Author has announced that he will release his debut album, 'Blame It On The Youts', on 12 Mar. Here's new single, 'Fly Em High', featuring Nines. "Myself and Nines have been working together since around 2015", he says. "Since then we've just been making back to back bangers! We have good chemistry, so it makes everything easier. This song speaks for itself, has a nice vibe and as always, is a little different. We don't try to recreate. This is one of the pockets we haven't explored before".

Emika will mark the tenth anniversary of her debut album this year with three EP releases, featuring new material and reworked versions of songs from that first album. Getting the ball rolling, here's new track 'The Anti Universe'.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Lil Yachty to star in movie based on Uno card game
Hey, remember when Rihanna made a movie based on the game Battleships? You might think the lesson learned from that was that 'movies based on games don't work, and even a big pop star can't save them'. And maybe it was. But memories are short, and so nearly a decade later, Lil Yachty is set to star in a film based on the card game Uno.

It's alright, I'll wait while you wipe the tea off your screen. Anyway, it's not just a film starring a rapper reversing and skipping his way through two hours of your life. They've thought about it. It's going to have a story and everything. It's going to be a heist movie set in the Atlanta hip hop scene. That will somehow involve reversing and skipping. Oh, and wild cards. Don't forget the wild cards.

The film is being developed by the game's owner Mattel and the film division of the Quality Control record label - its founders Kevin 'Coach K' Lee and Pierre 'P' Thomas are among the producers of the movie.

But Lil Yachty is the star, and it's up to him now to convince us all that this is not a daft idea that will serve as a constant embarrassment for the rest of his life.

So, here's what he has to say for himself: "I'm so excited to be part of this film with Mattel. I played Uno as a kid and still do today, so to spin that into a movie based on the Atlanta hip hop scene I came out of is really special. It hits close to home for me".

OK, sure. That makes total sense. I mean, I've eaten bread before and I'm a journalist. So it makes sense for me to sing a song about a newspaper made of toast.

Robbie Brenner of Mattel Films adds: "At Mattel Films, we are looking to explore stories that bring our brands to life in unexpected ways. Uno is a game that transcends generations and cultures and we look forward to partnering with Lil Yachty, as well as with Coach, P, and [producer] Brian Sher, to transform the classic Uno game into a comedic action adventure".

Mattel has been super busy turning its toy brands into films and TV shows since 2013, including what seems like thousands of all utterly dreadful Barbie spin-offs.

It currently has numerous projects in various stages of production. As well as this Uno movie, there are also films on the way based on Magic 8-Ball, Hot Wheels cars, the Cabbage Patch Kids and (I'm not joking) View Master.

No release date has yet been set for the Uno movie, or (thankfully) any of the others I mentioned there. There is a 'Masters Of The Universe' remake due out in 2022 though. 'The Lego Movie' has a lot to answer for.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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