|THURSDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Musicians' Union and Ivors Academy have said that they are optimistic that a "fairer deal" might be achieved for musicians and songwriters in terms of how streaming monies are shared out. They expressed that optimism after the latest oral hearing in Parliament's ongoing inquiry into the economics of the digital music market... [READ MORE]|
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MU and Ivors say they are optimistic of "fairer deal" as Parliament's streaming inquiry proceeds
MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge and Ivors CEO Graham Davies were among the industry reps questioned by MPs at the latest oral hearing yesterday. Much of their section focused on the good old digital pie debate.
Trubridge obviously presented the case for artists getting a bigger slice of the pie - or, in the case of session musicians, any slice at all. Meanwhile, Davies argued that streaming is a songs economy and it's therefore unfair that songs are allocated a much smaller slice of the cash than both the recording and the services themselves.
Damian Hinds MP actually began the proceedings by questioning why the streaming services get 30% of the money - double the upper end of the allocation to songs. Trubridge explained that the services were more or less taking the same cut as a record shop would in the CD domain. And while the running costs of a record shop are more obvious than the running costs of a streaming service, Spotify is still a loss-making business, albeit possibly because of its aggressive growth strategy.
Of course, both MU and Ivors would like as much money as possible to flow into the music industry itself. And that's why artists and songwriters support the wider music industry's call for safe harbour reform - something discussed elsewhere at yesterday's proceedings - that would increase the royalties paid by user-upload platforms that exploit music.
However, Trubridge and Davies both said, the pressing issue remains how the money that does flow into the music industry is shared out between labels, publishers, artists and songwriters.
After all, even if streaming services took a smaller cut, or safe harbour reform boosted income from YouTube-type platforms, artists and songwriters still wouldn't benefit as much from those developments as the record labels.
"We are supporting the rights-owners in the campaign for safe harbour reform", Trubridge confirmed. "But it can be difficult to provide 100% support when we know that, with any increase in money that achieves, most of it will go the rights-owners and not artists and writers".
As for the specific demands of the MU and Ivors, Trubridge and Davies mainly summarised what the two organisations have already set out in there respective written submissions to the committee.
Artists should get a bigger cut of the monies allocated to recordings, by labels paying a better rate and/or Performer ER being applied to streams, so that artists - including session musicians - get automatic payments through their collecting societies.
Songs should be allocated a bigger slice of the pie too - an aim which means tackling the issue of the major music firms being both labels and publishers, but getting to keep a much bigger of share of any money that passes through the former compared to the latter. Hence their support for the status quo, to the detriment of songwriters, the Ivors would say.
As with previous sessions in this inquiry, the digital pie debate quickly evolved into a discussion about how we define a stream. Is it a sale, is it a licence, is it a communication to the public, or a rental, or basically a new fangled version of radio?
Of course a stream is a stream, and defining it any more than that is only really relevant because of the possible impact any one definition would have on how the digital pie is sliced.
To what extent law-makers can get involved in that slicing is debatable, though for the MU the introduction of ER on streams would be a good starting point, while for the Ivors better regulation of the major rights owners - and their possible conflicts of interest - is a key request.
Whether any of that will ultimately be recommended by the select committee - and then embraced by government as part of any future copyright reforms - remains to be seen. Though following yesterday's hearing the MU and Ivors stated that they are now "optimistic about [securing] a fairer deal for musicians and songwriters".
After the hearing, Ivors Academy Chair Crispin Hunt echoed everything that Davies had told MPs. "Streaming is a song economy", he said, "with individual songs at the source of streaming's success. Yet the value of the song is not respected and songwriters are currently at the bottom of the pile".
Noting some of the other logistical and legal issues also affecting songwriters, he went on: "Music writers are missing millions and millions in earnings as their work is degraded by the music industry, underpaid and exploited by YouTube, lost through poor data that fails to match the song to the songwriter, and treated as a by-product when it is in fact the product. The music industry needs a huge reboot, a shake-up that puts creators at its heart".
Meanwhile, Trubridge's colleague at the MU, Naomi Pohl, told reporters: "The key issue with streaming is that major labels are announcing record profits while our members can't put food on the table or pay their bills. I am feeling very hopeful about the committee's findings from the inquiry. This could be historic. If we get a fairer deal for musicians as a result of this, it'll be a huge win".
As well as the music industry reps being questioned by MPs yesterday, the streaming platforms themselves were finally in the spotlight, with YouTube, SoundCloud and Amazon's Twitch all answering questions. We'll summarise their contributions in tomorrow's CMU Daily.
Meanwhile, you can follow all our full coverage of the inquiry into the economics of streaming via this CMU timeline here.
Former R&S Record employee files racial discrimination and unlawful dismissal claim
Chaudhuri says that repeated attempts to "diversify the label and the artists it worked with" during his sixteen months with the company were knocked back. Some black artists he attempted to sign were dismissed as "crap" and "terrible", according to text messages submitted as part of his case.
He says that Vandepapeliere also refused to sever ties with an R&S artist who shared anti-semitic messages on Facebook. The label boss said instead that he would "inform him of the danger" of sharing such posts and told Chaudhuri to "relax a bit".
On another occasion, according to the tribunal filing, Vandepapeliere told Chaudhuri to stop working on a charity compilation in support of the NHS, which featured tracks by black and non-binary artists, saying: "I hate it. No talent, no quality".
"With the benefit of hindsight", says Chaudhuri, "I believe his hatred of that music was racially motivated".
After being fired by the label, Chaudhuri says that he demanded payment of the remainder of the fees due under his contract term, totalling £10,000. He also said that he would go public about Vandepapeliere's "discriminatory conduct" if the payment was withheld.
In a statement to the BBC, the label argues that the demand for payment amounted to "extortion or blackmail", suggesting that Chaudhuri's employment tribunal filing is therefore a malicious act.
"We have no intention of litigating this in the press and have every confidence that justice will prevail", says the company. "We believe Mr Chaudhuri has done this in order to attack Mr Vandepapeliere in an attempt to sway him away from other legal proceedings, and cause the malicious damage that he threatened unless Mr Vandepapeliere gave into his monetary demands".
Chaudhuri's legal action follows accusations of racism made against Vandepapeliere last September by producer Eddington Again. Among various complaints, he told Resident Advisor that when he had brought up the label's lack of diversity, the label boss had said that he had now "found a full pure breed black artist" to work with.
Vandepaperliere apologised for the "misunderstandings" that arose from his email exchange with Eddington, claiming that his comments had basically been lost in translation, and "in Dutch, the questionable metaphor at hand is used to express a passion for innate talent, true artistry" - a claim several Dutch readers then contacted RA to dispute.
Warner Music sued in latest case testing the US termination right and sound recordings
The termination right allows music-makers who assign their copyrights to another party to terminate that assignment after 35 years, reclaiming their rights, albeit only within the US. Introduced into law in the 1970s, this particular termination right only really came into effect a decade ago. But on the songs side of the music business plenty of songwriters who signed publishing deals 35 years ago are now reclaiming their rights.
However, on the recordings side, some labels argue that the termination right does not apply. That argument is principally based on the idea that a record contract is a so called 'work-for-hire' agreement. That would make the label, not the artist, the default owner of any recording copyrights created under that deal. So no assignment of copyright occurs, which means there is no assignment to terminate.
Of course, most artists - and their managers and lawyers - disagree, insisting that record contracts - even those record contracts that specifically claim to be work-for-hire agreements - are not, in fact, work-for-hire agreements. Like, not at all. Not in any way. Not even close.
Yoakam's 1985 record contract with Warner "uses 'work-for-hire' language only to create an artificial work-for-hire relationship, despite not meeting any statutory requirement of such status", says the country musician's new lawsuit.
A work-for-hire arrangement would basically make Yoakam an employee of the label. But "Warner itself acknowledges that Mr Yoakam was not an employee", the lawsuit goes on, "and as such any refusal of Mr Yoakam's termination notices on the basis of a 'work-for-hire' relationship would be in direct indifference to the definition of 'work-made-for-hire' under [US law] and [an] outright rejection of the rights granted to authors".
Elsewhere, Yoakam explains that he filed termination notices with Warner and its Rhino division in 2019. But "instead of acknowledging the validity the termination notices, Rhino instead proposed new deal terms". Following a bit of back and forth between the major and the musician, "defendants failed to acknowledge Mr Yoakam's termination rights effected through the termination notices, thus leaving him in a state of perpetual limbo".
Then he found out that Warner had removed his earliest tracks - ie the ones approaching 35 years - from the streaming services. This was because the major didn't want to be sued for distributing recordings it doesn't actually own, Yoakam's lawsuit claims. But by refusing to officially recognise it no longer has those rights, it adds, Warner is preventing him from partnering with another label or distributor on those tracks. Making the "perpetual limbo" costly.
"Every hour that Mr Yoakam's works are absent from the marketplace", the lawsuit continues, "through Mr Yoakam's inability to exploit the works due to defendants' false ownership claim and defendants' refusal to exploit Mr Yoakam's works, Mr Yoakam is financially damaged. Mr Yoakam is unable to earn royalties on these works, his fans are unable to listen to these works, and his streaming count, a quantifier that directly impacts the known value of a song, is detrimentally impacted".
To that end, Yoakam wants the courts to confirm that his contracts with Warner were not work-for-hire agreements, and therefore his termination notices are valid, and that the US rights to his 35 year old tracks have therefore reverted to him.
The whole work-for-hire debate - and some other technicalities around the termination right and record contracts - are already being tested in the US courts through two other cases involving Universal Music and Sony Music.
Spotify launches a website for songwriters, just like everyone wanted
The new website will bring together the streaming service's various existing songwriter focused initiatives, including publishing analytics and songwriter pages. You can also watch video interviews with songwriters and producers, including a new series aimed at students and emerging music-makers, called 'How I Started, How It's Going'.
As well as social media channels, there will be a weekly email newsletter for Noteable, highlighting industry news and notable new releases.
If you're wondering why Spotify is doing this, it explains: "Whether you're a publisher, a brand new songwriter, producer, or have numerous hits under your belt, we look forward to working with you, bringing these resources and opportunities into a new central home and expanding to new regions around the world throughout the year".
Does that make it all clear? No? Well, maybe someone will write a song about it that can help. Anyway, here's the website.
Jeep withdraws Bruce Springsteen advert after drink driving charge emerges
The big bucks advert, which saw Springsteen driving a Jeep around an empty landscape, delivering a message of unity, was aired during Sunday's Super Bowl American football game. It was also put up on the Jeep YouTube channel, but has now been removed.
"It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate", Jeep said in a statement to Variety. "But it's also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established. Its message of community and unity is as relevant as ever. As is the message that drinking and driving can never be condoned".
Springsteen was arrested at New Jersey's Gateway National Recreation Area on 14 Nov for driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area. However, it has subsequently emerged that his blood alcohol level when tested was .02 - well under the state's legal limit for driving, which is .08 - calling into question why he was arrested at all.
A National Park Service spokesperson said in a statement that the singer "was cooperative throughout the process". The musician will appear in court on the charges at a later date.
Throughout his career, Springsteen has steadfastly refused to appear in or allow his music to be used in adverts. It was something of a coup, then, for Jeep to change his mind. He only did so, his manager John Landau said, after he was given complete creative control over the ad by the brand.
It took marketing exec Olivier François around ten years and "many drinks and dinners" to secure the partnership, so it's somewhat unfortunate that Springsteen got what appears to be his first drink driving charge during its production.
"The only way to make a return on investment is to make the ad last", François told the New York Times last week. "If it's going to be forgotten in a year or so, it probably is not worth the money".
Springsteen promoting a vehicle brand via his first ever advertising tie-up at the same time as being caught up in a drink driving case - even if the charges are confirmed a nonsense - will probably ensure we all remember this particular Jeep promo, even if it is never returned to the company's YouTube channel.
Although François might wonder if this particular way of securing longevity is "worth the money".
Artist And Manager Awards announce winners of reimagined 2021 event
With no possibility of a traditional awards ceremony this time around, the event has been turned into a documentary film. In it, the winners of this year's five prize categories will be interviewed. Originally scheduled to air last month, it will now premiere on YouTube on 24 Feb.
"The FAC and MMF would like to congratulate all our deserving winners, and thank all our sponsors", say the two organisation's CEOs, David Martin and Annabella Coldrick, in a joint statement. "Rather than cancel the Artist And Manager Awards we decided to document the resilience and creativity of artists and managers during this difficult period when careers have been disrupted, live shows postponed and life has shifted online".
"Obviously we all want business as normal to return safely in 2021", they add. "But in the meantime, we hope this unique film highlights why music has played such an important role during the pandemic".
Here's the full list of winners:
Leading Artist And Manager: Michael Kiwanuka and Starwood Management
Pioneer Artist And Manager: Skin and Leigh Johnson (LJM)
Breakthrough Artist And Manager: Arlo Parks and Ali Raymond (Beatnik Creative)
Entrepreneur Award: Michael Adex (NQ)
Innovation Award: Driift
One Media IP has acquired the licensor's royalty share of 21 Vision's concert recordings catalogue, which includes rare recordings of performances by heritage artists like Glenn Millar, The Andrews Sisters, Vera Lynn and Cole Porter. One Media IP has already been licensing the catalogue since 2009. "We have worked with 21 Vision for twelve years, marketing their music catalogue on a royalty sharing basis", says One Media IP CEO Michael Infante. "By buying out the licensor's royalty share, One Media secures the rights to the catalogue on an in-perpetuity basis, whilst also increasing its margin by taking a bigger share of the royalty".
SoundCloud has added Troy Carter to its board of directors. In addition, he will act as strategic advisor to CEO Michael Weissman. "Troy is one of the few leaders that have operated and succeeded in all sides of the music industry", says Weissman. "It's hard to think of someone better suited to join SoundCloud as we enter this new phase. I am honoured to welcome him to the SoundCloud board".
The UK's Association of Independent Music has appointed Nadia Khan as its new Chair, taking over from Ninja Tune's Peter Quicke. "I'm honoured to be the new Chair of AIM and to be working more closely with CEO Paul [Pacifico] and the AIM team", she says. "I've been an active board member over the last few years, and took part in creating the new job role of Entrepreneurship & Outreach Manager, welcoming Ben Wynter into this position to help AIM reach and support communities which have been historically under-represented within the membership. I have more ideas to bring to the table, and look forward to continuing to make positive change".
The Prodigy have announced that they are making a documentary about themselves, with Pulse Films and director Paul Dugdale, which will tell their story from the band's beginnings to the death of vocalist Keith Flint. "After the devastating passing of our brother Keef in 2019, the time feels right for us to tell the story of our band", say Liam Howlett and Maxim. "It's a story of the chaotic and troubled journey of our gang, our band, the people's band - The Prodigy".
Porter Robinson has released the video for his latest single 'Look At The Sky'. His new album, 'Nurture', is out on 23 Apr.
Cherry Glazerr have released new single 'Big Bang'. "Some songs take on a lot of forms until they finally end up the way they do and this was definitely one of those", says the band's Clementine Creevy. "It lived a few different lives for sure, I just kept changing up the rhythms until I was like, 'oh yeah that's it right there!'"
Elkka has released new track 'I. Miss. Raving'. "When this track was originally written I had no understanding of when the sentiment of nostalgia, frustration and unending desire to be out raving, to be alongside friends and strangers, would expire", she says. "But here we are and it still feels just raw as it did when I wrote this towards the beginning of last year".
Christopher Bono and Gareth Jones have announced that they will release new album 'A Walk In The Woods' on 7 May. From it, this is 'Fibonacci Failure'.
Matt Sweeney and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy have announced that they will release a new album together, titled 'Superwolves', on 30 Apr. "I love the challenge to write melodies for Will to sing", says Sweeney. "Knowing that Will's voice will elevate the melody makes me reach higher and dig deeper for the tune". Here's new single, 'Hall Of Death'.
The Body have released the video for 'A Pain Of Knowing', from their latest album 'I've Seen All I Need To See'.
Charlotte Spiral have released new single 'New Light'. The song is the title track from their new EP, which is due out on 9 Apr.
GIGS & TOURS
Tom Grennan has announced a live show at Alexandra Palace in London on 30 Sep. "I am buzzing to announce my biggest ever headline show yet", he says. "I've missed playing live so much, it's going to be so special to get on stage and connect with my fans again. Alexandra Palace, let's do this!" Yes, well, let's see. Tickets go on general sale on 19 Feb.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Sony/ATV does not exist
You see, Sony/ATV doesn't exist. It is not a thing. If you had a list of all the things in the world, and you spent a few years reading the list out loud, possibly in a field near Gloucester, the one thing you would eventually discover, once you finally got to the bottom of that list, is that Sony/ATV is not featured on it. It's not listed. Not even at the bottom of the page. Fuck it, stick the list in Microsoft Word and use the find function. The find function will return a "not found" result. Because Sony/ATV is not on the list. Sony/ATV is not a thing.
Not only is Sony/ATV not a thing, it never was. You must have dreamt it. That's the only explanation. It was probably that dream you had the other night. You know, the one where you were in Birmingham. And then Liverpool. And then on the 'Eastenders' set. It was confusing. There were muppets. And grades. And someone called Lew. Then you were in Liverpool again. Definitely somewhere Northern. There were beetles. Lots of beetles. And songs. Lots of songs. And Michael Jackson.
What the hell was Michael Jackson doing there? Paul McCartney was right pissed off. Or maybe that's an urban legend. And then there was loads of money on a table. And Michael Jackson was spending it all on nonsense. Lots and lots of nonsense. And then, there it was, on the wall, in a big swish corporate office, in front of Michael, and Marty - who the hell is Marty? - but you saw it, it was there, a big fat logo. It said ATV. No, hang on. Sony. It said Sony/ATV. Then you woke up. It had all been a dream.
Because, and I can't stress this enough, Sony/ATV does not exist. There's Sony Music Publishing. We all know that. Who doesn't love Sony Music Publishing? But Sony/ATV? A theme tune publisher that bought The Beatles repertoire, got acquired by Michael Jackson, merged with another music publisher named after a TV station, and then became the biggest songs business in the world? No, that doesn't sound realistic at all, does it?
So yes. Sony/ATV is no more. All hail Sony Music Publishing. With a brand new logo. A brand new logo that, in fact, is "an abstraction of sound waves - with resonance and vibrations that express infinitely expanding opportunities for songwriters". Yeah, whatever you say. Ironically, it reminds me a little of the old ATV logo. Except, of course, there was no old ATV logo. Because, for the final fucking time, Sony/ATV does not exist.