|MONDAY 22 FEBRUARY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: UK ministers are considering setting up a government-funded creative export office that would help performers navigate and tackle all the new visa and permit issues that have been caused by Brexit. Such an office might then also run other projects and initiatives to support British creators and creative businesses looking to pursue export opportunities into new markets... [READ MORE]|
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Culture Secretary considering new export office to mitigate Brexit damage to creative industries
The UK government has come under significant criticism from the music and other creative industries ever since it became clear that visa-free touring had not been included in the post-Brexit UK/EU trade deal. That means that British performers touring Europe will now need to fulfil the different entry requirements of each individual EU member state, some of which will require artists and their crews to secure travel permits and/or equipment carnets.
The extra administration and costs that will create will make some tours completely unviable, or will result in British artists hiring crew based in EU countries, to reduce the amount of extra admin and expenditure. All of which will put further pressure on performers, crew members and live entertainment business that are already on the brink because of COVID-19.
The UK blames the EU for the trade deal not including provisions for visa-free touring, while EU officials have blamed their British counterparts. UK ministers insist that the door remains open for new talks with the EU on this matter, although culture minister Caroline Dinenage recently admitted that it's likely to be easier to agree bilateral deals with individual EU countries to remove the need for permits and carnets than a new EU-wide arrangement.
She expressed that opinion during the latest Parliamentary session on the post-Brexit touring shambles which took place last week at the instigation of the culture select committee. During that hearing she and Alastair Jones from the Department For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport were asked if the government would provide financial assistance for performers facing these new bureaucratic challenges when touring Europe.
Dinenage initially pointed to existing government-funded export initiatives for the creative industries, like the Music Export Growth Scheme, though - when pushed - Jones said "we are absolutely looking at our options". And although that was pretty non-committal, this weekend the Telegraph reported that a new government agency was now being considered by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to "facilitate tours and assist artists with international gigs", including with things like visas and permits.
Quite what role such an agency would play in that domain remains unclear. Would it mainly provide information or advice - possibly via a website like the one Dowden previously discussed with Elton John - or would it actually help artists secure and pay for travel permits?
Given Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson and his cronies have been so keen to stress all the glorious good times, positive benefits and financial savings Brexit would deliver for Britain, you'd think some of that supposed Brexit windfall could be used to subsidise the cash-strapped artists and crew members whose livelihoods have been jeopardised by the PM's big fuck-the-foreigners experiment.
Who knows? Probably not. Not least because the windfall is fictional. Though, optimists might see the launch of a creative export agency - alongside urgent bilateral talks with those countries that are both key touring markets for British performers and currently problematic in travel permit terms - as at least a way to mitigate the worst of the damage Brexit is set to cause the UK's creative communities.
Any new export office could ultimately offer much more than just visa support too. A number of other countries have formal export offices that successfully support their music and/or creative industries in an assortment of ways when seeking opportunities abroad.
While the UK's Department For International Trade does already fund various initiatives in partnership with music business trade groups, including the aforementioned Music Growth Export Scheme, some in the industry have long called for more extensive government support to help the British music community fully achieve its global potential.
UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin welcomed the reports that an export office is being considered this weekend. He told the Telegraph: "We should be doing everything we can to support and strengthen the British music industry as a key global exporter and spread British success internationally. The British music industry can help fly the flag for Britain globally and is a great example of the UK's soft power due to the huge influence of British music across the world".
"However", he added, "new Brexit rules have put barriers up and made it harder for British musicians to work and perform abroad. A new UK-wide export office for the music industry or the wider creative sector could play a crucial role in helping drive our post-pandemic recovery".
Austrian court rules that Viagogo's terms are unlawful
The top court found in favour of Austrian consumer rights organisation VKI, which raised concerns about numerous elements of the ticket resale site's terms and conditions. Among the terms deemed unlawful were provisions covering refunds, seat changes, replacement tickets, Viagogo's liabilities and efforts to have transactions involving Austrian customers governed by Swiss law.
Viagogo, of course, has been criticised by regulators, courts and consumer rights organisations in multiple countries. It's also the second court ruling against the site in Austria.
Last year the country's Supreme Court ordered Viagogo to be more transparent about who was selling any one ticket via its platform, and also to alert customers if a ticket being sold had been personalised to the original buyer, increasing the risk of the secondary purchaser being refused entry by the show's promoter.
Welcoming the latest ruling, Katie O'Leary of pan-European anti-ticket-touting campaign FEAT said: "For a platform that claims to serve fans, the level of protection that Viagogo offers its users, as brought to light in this ruling, is shocking. We welcome the [supreme court's] decision and hope that it encourages other jurisdictions to ensure that their consumers are equally protected".
CTS Eventim announces deals in Germany and Israel
DreamHaus will become part of the Eventim Live network of concert promoters, and also co-promote the German music festivals Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park in partnership with Eventimpresents.
Confirming the deal, Schwarz said: "I'm very pleased about the partnership between CTS Eventim and DreamHaus, which offers our team all manner of opportunities for a successful future. I am also grateful to CTS Eventim for the confidence the company has shown in jointly implementing our visions within this partnership and thus offering artists the best possible service and the ability to reach the greatest possible audience".
CTS Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg added: "Even in the face of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, Eventim Live continues to grow its network and strengthen both its market position and potential".
On the ticketing side, Eventim announced a new deal with Israeli promoter and venue operator The Zappa Group. That deal, said Schulenberg, would see the two companies "jointly develop and further exploit the potential" of the Israeli market. "Zappa's paramount role in live entertainment and CTS Eventim's expertise in technology and marketing are a perfect combination", he continued.
Zappa Group owner Golan Einat added that ticket buyers in Israel would benefit from an alliance that brings together the "cutting-edge technology, professional capabilities and many years of experience" of the two live music businesses.
Round Hill launches neighbouring rights agency
In this context 'neighbouring rights' means the performance and communication elements of the sound recording copyright, and therefore we're talking about the royalties due to both labels and performers when recordings are broadcast or played in public spaces.
That income is actually collected in each market by the local record industry's collecting society. Neighbouring rights agencies manage the relationship between labels and performers and the different societies, making sure all their recordings are properly logged in the various society databases, and that they are getting every penny they are due when their recordings are broadcast and played.
Round Hill says it is launching its own agency in this domain because "this is one of the music industry's fastest-growing revenue streams". The new division is actually looking to both acquire and administrate these rights, offering cash advances in both scenarios.
It says: "The company aims to pay cash for a full or partial acquisition of these rights, or cash advances in exchange for long term administration rights with a pre-determined commission on the royalties collected. Sound Hill views this as a potential lifeline for touring artists who may require financing to tide them over during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis".
The new agency will be headed up by Round Hill's Manager Of Royalty Services And Label Operations, Robert Brenner, who says: "Round Hill has been collecting its own label share of neighbouring rights for many years and the launch of Sound Hill acknowledges that this is an area where our company can provide real value to artists and others who need a highly efficient collection service alongside royalty financing".
Meanwhile, Round Hill CEO Josh Gruss adds: "We are always looking to offer more services to our artists and Sound Hill will give us the ability to provide them and others with a world class service run by an amazing team who have the experience and expertise to maximise the huge opportunities now available in this fast-growing space".
Music Venue Trust welcomes survey that suggests public support for vaccine passports to get high street open again
Such a system has been proposed as one way of allowing a more rapid relaxation of COVID social distancing rules that would enable bars, restaurants, clubs and venues to start trading again in a commercially viable way. It would likely operate in tandem with the other proposed system whereby customers are tested for COVID on arrival at theatres or venues, or they are able to demonstrate that they have very recently tested negative for the virus.
However, the UK government has said that - while it supports the latter approach and plans to allow pilot schemes to get up and running - it isn't yet convinced of the need for vaccine passports, even though that would likely mean vaccinated people also needing to be tested on-site.
It's a company that has a healthcare app that could facilitate the vaccine passport that has surveyed people about such a move. myGP said last week that, according to its survey, "66% of the public in England would welcome vaccination passports if it meant keeping their local high-street in business".
MVT CEO Mark Davyd recently questioned why the government is seemingly supporting on-site COVID testing in order to allow theatres and venues to start operating again at higher capacities, but not an accompanying vaccination passport programme.
"It's unclear to us why the government supports rapid testing and certification to enter music venues but apparently does not wish to see exactly the same process used to understand and manage risk using the vaccination process", he said. "This presents the possibility that someone who has been vaccinated might need to also be rapid tested, which seems counter-intuitive. If there is going to be a need to show evidence of being a 'safe customer', surely we want to provide people with the most number of opportunities to do that?"
Commenting on the results of the myGP survey, Davyd added: "Grassroots music venues across the country have enjoyed huge support from artists and audiences during this crisis and it is incredibly encouraging to see broad public support of vaccine verification as we consider a number of options to revive live music. The situation remains dire right across the events and entertainment sector. Economically viable events can't happen with social distancing, and vaccine verification is one of a number of tools which venues can use to get back to full capacity so we can reopen every venue safely".
Launching her company's research, myGP's Hillary Cannon said: "We all know that lockdowns and social distancing has brought arts and events venues, restaurants, and the hospitality sector – all of our most beloved industry sectors – to their knees. We also know that there are still questions around the reliability of rapid testing, and that [such] testing does not account for the incubation period of this virus. It's clear that assured, GP-verified proof of vaccination is the only way to ensure that businesses can reopen safely and at capacity. And we now realise that the majority of the public supports the use of such technologies".
James Newman to have a second crack at representing the UK in Eurovision
"I'm so excited and honoured to be getting a second chance at representing my country in the Eurovision Song Contest", says Newman. "I haven't stopped making new music in lockdown and I can't wait for everyone to hear the song I'm taking to Eurovision in 2021".
Jo Wallace, Acting Controller Entertainment Commissioning for the BBC, adds: "We are so pleased to have James back with us and representing the United Kingdom at Eurovision 2021. After 2020 and the postponing of the 65th song contest, Eurovision is exactly what everyone needs!"
Newman's selection comes as a result of a renewed partnership between the BBC and BMG, which began in 2019 in an effort to stop the UK sending absolute duds to take part in the contest each year. That deal meant that the British public no longer had any say in the UK's selection process. Although given the choices they'd been given in recent years, I don't think it's fair to see the public as the weak link here.
BMG has now chosen two UK Eurovision entries. It's first choice last year, 'My Last Breath' performed by Newman, was largely derided, but never actually made it to the competition as a result of it being cancelled. This year's effort will definitely be judged by the European public and judging panels, so it remains to be seen if BMG and the Beeb's continued confidence in Newman is deserved.
The UK tends not to fair well in Eurovision partly because we insist on entering terrible songs and partly for political reasons. Though, whatever Newman comes out with this year, it would be worth any mainland Europeans reading this giving some thought to how funny it would be for the UK to have to stage a fullscale celebration of Europe in 2022.
This year's Eurovision Song Contest final is due to take place on 22 May.
UK record industry collecting society PPL will oversee international royalties for its Jamaican counterpart JAMMS under a new partnership. "Our objective is simple, to give our members the best chance of increasing their royalty earnings", says JAMMS General Manager Evon Mullings. "This expanded arrangement gives us the global footprint we need to deliver more royalties to more of our members".
UK songwriters organisation The Ivors Academy has announced that it now has equal gender representation on both its Academy and Trust boards, following the appointments of Hannah Peel and Kevin Sargent to the former and Charlotte Harris to the latter. "This is one step of many that we are committed to taking to make sure we are fully diverse and inclusive across everything do", says Emily Saunders, Chair of the organisation's Equality, Diversity And Inclusion Steering Group. "Diverse life experiences, identities and backgrounds bring diverse thinking and new ways of seeing the world, that creates a stronger Academy for all music creators".
BMG Production Music has hired Deb Oh as Senior Director of Creative Licensing. "Joining this dynamic team during an exciting period of growth and being surrounded by innovative creatives and teammates, who value and encourage all of the voices at the table, is empowering", she says. "I look forward to working alongside them to build new infrastructures and opportunities in advertising and beyond".
Tekashi 6ix9ine has released new single 'Zaza'.
Green Day have released new single 'Here Comes The Shock'.
Bon Jovi have released new single 'Story Of Love'. "Although I wrote 'Story Of Love' about my family, I hope when people listen to the song and watch the video, they will see themselves and their family", says Jon Bon Jovi.
Kaytranada has released new track 'Caution'.
Ghetts has released the video for 'Crud', from his new album 'Conflict Of Interest'.
A1 x J1 have released the video for their recent single 'Latest Trends'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Twitch replaces Metallica performance with twee stock music
The band were booked to perform as part of the opening of this year's BlizzCon - a conference for players of Blizzard Entertainment video games, such as 'World Of Warcraft' and 'Diablo'. However, as they tore through the opening bars of 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', Metallica's sound dropped out and was replaced by some twee stock music.
Only a portion of viewers were left sitting through this confusing censorship though. It was on the Twitch-controlled TwitchGaming channel - which was streaming the event - where Metallica's sound was cut. However, the feed on Blizzard's own Twitch channel remained untouched, as did the stream on the gaming firm's official YouTube channel. So seemingly the Metallica editing was an act of caution on Twitch's part, on a channel it was promoting on its front page at the time.
Twitch, of course, has been having trouble with all the music on its platform over the last year. As livestreaming has boomed during the pandemic, the music industry has started paying much more attention to unlicensed music in such webcasts, calling on the Amazon company to get itself licences for that music, while also issuing takedown notices against some videos that contain uncleared tunes.
It's not the first time Twitch has been hit with takedown notices from the music industry - there was a flurry in 2018, and they have continued to some extent since - but last year the takedowns and the criticisms from record companies and music publishers dramatically increased. The fact that Twitch has been seeking to diversify its community of creators beyond gamers and is therefore directly courting musicians also contributed to such moves.
As the frequency of music-related takedown notices increased, Twitch's userbase became vocally annoyed and the platform was forced to respond publicly. In a blog post in November last year, it said that it was trying to build a better system to deal with copyright claims, while directing creators to an archive of cleared music it has been amassing.
Twitch also argued that negotiating licences that would allow all and any music to appear on its platform could be difficult or impossible. It claimed that - while it could seek blanket licences from labels and publishers - any licensing talks would be hindered by the fact it is unlike other digital services, because most of the videos on its platform don't include music.
However, the boss of the US National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, took issue with that particular claim - and others in Twitch's blog post - pointing out that YouTube hosts plenty of videos that do not contain music and still manages to agree licences for those that do.
As of now, Twitch is still without licences from most labels and publishers. When signing up to perform at a virtual conference, Metallica were presumably aware that their music would be made available online as a result, and you'd think clearances would be part of the booking. Though that doesn't mean other parties with an interest in their music were necessarily on board. Whether Twitch checked any of that ahead of time is unclear, although it's interesting that it only censored its own channel.