|WEDNESDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Given much of Parliament's inquiry into the economics of streaming has focused on the Spotify-style business model, it was good that yesterday's oral hearing finally put in front of MPs three companies whose streaming operations are centred on that model, not least Spotify itself. However, in the end, there were few new revelations during the session, although it did result in Spotify and its rivals putting certain policy positions on the record... [READ MORE]|
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Spotify, Apple and Amazon face MPs in Parliament's ongoing inquiry into streaming
When the music community debates the streaming business model, the conversation nearly always begins with plenty of Spotify dissing. But then the focus almost entirely shifts onto how the 70% of Spotify revenues handed over to the music industry is shared out. Spotify can then hide behind all the bickering between the different factions of the music industry, no longer the target of the disses.
That's pretty much what's happened with Parliament's big old streaming inquiry. By the time the oral hearings began, the Spotify dissing had subsided, and much more attention had fallen on to how the so called digital pie is sliced between artists, songwriters, labels and publishers.
Yesterday, that particular digital pie discussion continued, even once the streaming services were in the virtual room, albeit disguised as the increasingly tedious "how do we define a stream?" debate. When music is streamed, is it a sale, is it a licence, is it a rental, is it a reproduction, is it a communication, is it a making available, is it more like retail or more like radio?
From a music industry perspective, these questions are potentially important. The music industry has traditionally split up the different elements of the copyright - the distinct controls - and managed and licensed them differently. The way the money gets shared out - and the royalty rates that are paid to artists - also often vary according to what control is exploited, or what particular product or deal generated the cash.
How we define a stream, therefore, has the potential to change the way the digital pie is sliced between artists, songwriters, labels and publishers. Or, at the very least, empower the various arguments for why and how the pie should and might be sliced up differently.
However, from a streaming service perspective, these questions are pretty much irrelevant. A stream is a stream. Everything else - is it a sale, a licence, a rental, a reproduction, a communication, a making available, retail or radio? - is just more music industry bullshit. And while streaming services have to navigate music industry bullshit, they don't really have any interest in participating in it.
All a streaming service needs is a solid licence that gives it access to music, covers its back, ensures it will never be held liable for copyright infringement, and preferably guarantees there'll never be a knock at the door from someone citing some long forgotten right or contract and demanding payment. What the services definitely don't care about is how the music industry chooses to define a stream and slice up its pie.
"It's hard to find analogues in the physical world for what streaming is", Spotify's Head of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, Horacio Gutierrez, told the hearing yesterday, when forced to define a stream in conventional terms. "It is an ephemeral right to enjoy a stream - you have access to the full catalogue that is made available in exchange for a subscription fee".
"Isn't that just a form of rental?", John Nicolson MP wanted to know. "Rental has certain economic and legal connotations that are not 100% applicable to our scenario", Gutierrez responded.
"We see it has a licence", Apple's Global Senior Director Of Music Publishing Elena Segal said later in the session, clarifying that "we have a licence that entitles us to sub-licence to consumers". Segal did good job of keeping her cool, despite the sense that there was some frustration that MPs wanted her to define what is clearly a licensing deal between Apple and each music company as anything other than what it actually is.
"It is more akin to a rental", she ultimately but somewhat reluctantly conceded. "But it's actually a fucking licence, and stop trying to draw us into a pointless fucking definition debate because of a bunch of music industry bullshit that's nothing to do with us", she definitely didn't add. But she could have done.
A stream is neither a sale nor a rental, Amazon's Director Of International Music Paul Firth again stressed, "a stream is clearly different" to discs and downloads, and - he agreed with Gutierrez and Segal - can't really be defined in old school music industry or copyright law terms.
And he should know, given that Amazon is the one company that does discs, downloads and streams. Although, he added, again agreeing with Segal, "our agreements with the labels for the streaming services are licences".
While it's basically a waste of time trying to pull the streaming services into the core digital pie debate - even when it's in its "how do we define a stream?" disguise - there are clearly legitimate related questions on which streaming service input is useful.
How does the service justify keeping 30% of its revenue? Why haven't the prices gone up? Would they be happy to shift to a user-centric royalty distribution model? And if ER was due specifically on curated streams, could they handle that?
"30% is about in line with what we've taken as a retailer, when selling discs and downloads", Firth confirmed. And although, he added, operating a streaming service is obviously different to selling discs and downloads, nevertheless there are considerable investments that a streaming service has to make.
Beyond tangible direct costs like servers and credit card transaction fees, a lot of that is about investing in the best possible customer experience, he added. And in that domain, he reckoned, streaming services play a much more proactive role than traditional retailers.
"We are very focused on customer experience", he told MPs. "We are building a customer experience that the customer finds delightful".
The basic slicing of the digital pie began when the record companies demanded a majority share of the revenue at the very start, Gutierrez added. The services then had to sort out licences covering the separate song rights while ensuring they could run the business with what was left.
The model has evolved since then, of course, with the allocation to the songs increasing slightly and the labels taking a slight cut on what they receive. However, Gutierrez went on, the labels have also enjoyed the benefit of lower distribution costs as a result of the big shift to digital.
"Those costs have been driven out of the equation", he noted, and the benefits of that "have gone to the labels' bottom line". Although, he was quick to add, the labels have their own commercial pressures in the streaming age, perhaps aware that the lower distribution costs are a key argument from artists and songwriters as to why the labels are still getting too big a slice of the pie.
But what if the pie just got bigger? Why hasn't the cost of a streaming subscription ever increased in the decade that the market has been growing? Indeed, the average revenue generated per user - or ARPU - has actually gone down. How the hell can that be justified?
"There's a balance we have to strike, so that music doesn't become unaffordable to consumers, so we are pushing them back into piracy scenarios", argued Gutierrez, while also noting that price rises are now actually underway, mainly in relation to Spotify's family plans.
The introduction of those family plans, Gutierrez also conceded, is one of the reasons why the ARPU has declined. However, offering various different packages at different price points was key for growing the market and the overall revenue pie, he argued, even if ARPU goes down as a result.
Firth agreed that a diversity of packages and price points is definitely required, perhaps unsurprisingly as Amazon has been most prolific in that domain. It offers a wider range of different services at different price points, including the higher quality audio option that actually increases the subscription fee (something Spotify is moving into soon, we now know, of course).
"We came into streaming with a different approach", he told MPs. Yes, Amazon is competing head on with Spotify and Apple on one level, "but our focus was taking music streaming to different groups of customers. Can we extend the overall market segment and in doing so grow the overall pie. We take the view that you can take music streaming to a much more mainstream music fan".
That means playing with the price point though. Firth has sight of music buying habits of a large number of consumers via the wider Amazon business, of course. "We can see that many customers are buying one, two, maybe three albums a year. It's quite a big step for them to go to spending £120 a year". Therefore, the argument goes, bringing those consumers into music streaming requires alternative products at lower price points.
As for increasing the price of the standard £9.99 subscription - to which other discounted and premium packages are ultimately linked, of course - there are two key issues, both raised by Segal. Unlike Netflix-type services, she noted, all the music platforms have more or less the same catalogue of content. So if one service hikes up the prices, what's to stop customers switching to a rival?
Plus "it is challenging to compete with free", she added. That's partly a dig at Spotify's ad-funded free service, something Gutierrez sought to defend during the session, stressing that the freemium-to-upsell-premium approach had been hugely successful for Spotify - and therefore the music industry, he reckoned - especially in emerging markets.
However, it was also a dig at YouTube and other safe harbour dwelling platforms, something Apple, Spotify and Amazon all have to deal with.
"It has always been challenging to compete with free services", Segal continued, "whether those platforms are operating legitimately or illegitimately. It is challenging to compete on an unlevel playing field, where you have services that don't necessarily have licences for all the music on their platforms, and don't necessarily need to".
Of course, beyond the basic digital pie debate, there is also the separate user-centric debate - which is less to do with how money is shared out between different stakeholders, and more about how monies are allocated to each individual track.
While Deezer has been actively campaigning for a switch to user-centric royalty distribution, it's been generally believed that the other services are opposed to the idea. Although behind the scenes, that position has been shifting for a while now.
"We are definitely open to looking into alternative models and considering them", Gutierrez said. "User-centric is a model we are open to", he then confirmed, noting his company's participation in a recent research project on the impact of user-centric in France.
Although he also stressed that that research has suggested that the impact wouldn't be as dramatic as some people think.
And shifting to a new royalty distribution system would not be without its challenges, he added. "Every licence agreement with every rights-holder would have to be transitioned", he said, "and that's not a trivial transition. However, we are absolutely open-minded about the user-centric approach".
Firth added that Amazon was also "willing", and actually "very keen", to explore alternative models for allocating monies to tracks. And he even acknowledged the alternative artist growth approach proposed by the Association Of Independent Music during this inquiry. These should definitely be investigated and modelled, he reckoned.
And Apple, too, is up for some investigating and modelling on different royalty distribution approaches, Segal confirmed, though any shift would require industry consensus, she then noted.
Finally, what about performer equitable remuneration being paid on streams? Implementing that would mean that artists would be paid royalties via the collective licensing system at industry standard rates, instead of or possibly as well as the royalties they receive from their labels and distributors.
Applying ER to streams has been a frequent topic of conversation during this inquiry, and is behind all that "surely a stream is a rental?!" chatter. As it currently stands under UK copyright law, performer ER is due when the rental, performance or communication elements of the copyright are exploited, but not the reproduction and making available components.
Of course, the services always insist that they don't really care how the 70% of revenue allocated to the industry is shared out and processed. Though one element of the ER debate is the suggestion that maybe such payments should be paid when a stream more closely replicates the radio experience rather than the retail experience.
So maybe there's no ER paid when a subscriber specifically picks a track, but there is if a track is serviced to a user via a playlist or algorithm. Could the streaming services distinguish between streams in this way, MPs wanted to know. Yes, of course they could, the services replied.
Although, Gutierrez noted, an algorithm may select a track for a user based specifically on the previous choices that user made. So are we saying that's like radio because there's curation, or like retail because the track was ultimately played based on consumer choice?
Is is radio or is retail? Ah, for fucks sake, how the hell did we get back to that?
You can follow all our coverage of the inquiry into the economics of streaming via this CMU timeline here.
Taylor Swift countersues theme park that accused her of trademark infringement
Evermore Park in Tennessee claimed earlier this month that Swift had infringed its trademark with the release of her 'Evermore' album. She now says that the park has been putting on unlicensed performances of three of her songs as a "central attraction" for some time.
In her lawsuit, Swift says that actors at the park have been performing her songs 'Love Story', 'You Belong With Me' and 'Bad Blood' without licence since it opened in 2018. What's more, collecting society BMI has been contacting the park regularly since 2019 to point out the need for a public performance licence - including twice sending draft agreements - but has been generally ignored by the park's management.
However, says Swift's lawsuit, as Evermore Park launched its litigation earlier this month, it also contacted BMI asking for a retrospective licence to cover past uses of her songs. This, she says, proves that the park was always aware of the need for a licence and is therefore evidence of "willful copyright infringement".
"Defendants employ actors who perform as various characters at Evermore Park", says the lawsuit. "These performers interact with guests and publicly perform copyrighted songs on a regular basis at the park. At a section of Evermore Park known as 'the Burrows', two actors regularly and routinely perform copyrighted songs, including the works at issue in this action, to large crowds of patrons".
"These unlawful musical performances are marketed as a central attraction of Evermore Park", it goes on. "For instance, Evermore Park's website advertises that visitors can '[c]reate fanciful music' with park actors and describes one of the park's main activities as 'musical character performances'".
Swift's lawsuit follows a somewhat ambitious claim by Evermore Park that her 'Evermore' album, released in December, infringed its trademark and was causing confusion for visitors. Its management said that people instantly became confused when the record was released, assuming that there was some connection between it and the theme park. They also claimed that people had started going to Swift's website to buy her merch instead of the park's - something refuted by Swift and her legal team.
Upon the album release, Evermore Park's lawsuit claimed, guests started asking "whether the 'Evermore' album was the result of a collaboration between Evermore and Taylor Swift or some other type of relationship". It added that traffic to the park's website had also "experienced a dramatic departure from typical levels".
The claim that people assumed some connection between the theme park and Swift seemed odd at the time. Although, if Swift is correct in saying that performances of her songs at the park were a central part of its experience, then maybe, just maybe, that makes a little more sense.
Swift has been prompted to retaliate in the courts, in part, her lawsuit says, because Evermore Park and its lawyers have been attempting to "force a settlement" for its "meritless trademark claim".
She is seeking "enhanced statutory damages for defendants' willful infringement" covering each song generally and each performance of them, plus reimbursement of her legal costs. She'd also quite like a jury trial if it comes to it.
Evermore Park is yet to respond.
Chance The Rapper hits back at ex-manager's lawsuit, accuses Patrick Corcoran of "shocking violations" of trust
Corcoran sued the rapper, real name Chancelor Bennett, late last year seeking unpaid commissions and other monies he claimed he was owed.
The lawsuit described in some detail Corcoran's long-term partnership with Bennett, claiming that the rapper had ultimately started ignoring his advice resulting in a lacklustre album and cancelled tour. Bennett then blamed Corcoran for the downturn his career had taken and sacked his manager last April. In his lawsuit, Corcoran sought to enforce his oral agreement with Bennett, reckoning he was owed more than $3 million.
Bennett quickly hit back, insisting his ex-manager had been paid everything he was owed, and that Corcoran's lawsuit was full of "self-serving and fabricated allegations". A more formal legal response has now been made, with Bennett seeking to have Corcoran's lawsuit dismissed, while also pursuing his own litigation based on claims his former manager breached his contract and fiduciary duty.
"After being handed a truly unique opportunity to make it big in the music business", Bennett's lawsuit says, "Mr Corcoran repeatedly breached his fiduciary responsibilities to Mr Bennett by trading on Mr Bennett's good name for his own benefit, diverting business opportunities to his separate companies, and demanding and accepting kickbacks as the 'price' of doing business with Mr Bennett".
This alleged bad conduct on Corcoran's part is only now becoming apparent, Bennett claims. "Mr Bennett put his trust and confidence in Mr Corcoran and expected him to uphold his duties of honesty, loyalty, and fidelity", the lawsuit states. "Instead, as Mr Bennett has since learned, Mr Corcoran exploited his position of trust by repeatedly trading on Mr Bennett's name for his personal benefit and surreptitiously converting opportunities intended for Mr Bennett to the benefit of Mr Corcoran or his separate businesses".
One example of that, the lawsuit says, was when Live Nation approached Corcoran about working with Bennett. Instead of using a meeting with the live music giant to discuss a possible partnership involving the rapper, it's alleged, Corcoran instead pitched a separate wine company he was involved in.
"The clear message that Mr Corcoran conveyed and intended to convey was that Live Nation would have a much better chance of getting to promote a tour involving Mr Bennett if it agreed to buy wine from Mr Corcoran", the lawsuit goes on.
Live Nation did indeed agree to buy wine from Corcoran's business, it is alleged, but "Mr Corcoran never disclosed his outreach to Live Nation or his subsequent deal with Live Nation to Mr Bennett, who learned about this incident much later".
The lawsuit also provides Bennett's version of the events that led to his parting company with Corcoran last year. "With the termination of his management services for Mr Bennett, Mr Corcoran faced a return to obscurity, having lost the ability to use Mr Bennett's good name to open doors for him", it claims. "In a desperate attempt to retain some relevance in the industry, Mr Corcoran filed a lawsuit against Mr Bennett, asserting a variety of legally and factually baseless claims".
Later setting out various specific grievances regarding Corcoran's management of Bennett's career and business, the lawsuit concludes that - rather than the manager being owed money for unpaid fees and expenses - he should be compensating the rapper for damage caused by his bad conduct, with a least a million dollars in damages being justified.
As is always the way, this dispute will likely be settled behind the scenes. But Bennett's legal filing is as scathing as Corcoran's original litigation, meaning if this legal battle does get to court, it could be very interesting indeed.
YouTube says rights management firm that sued over Content ID access doesn't really exist
This lawsuit centres on who has access to YouTube's Content ID rights management system. Schneider and Pirate Monitor argue that YouTube is too selective in who it grants Content ID access to. Anyone who doesn't qualify for access - which includes most independent creators - must manually monitor the video site for unlicensed uses of their content and then manually issue takedown requests. And whereas Content ID is a sophisticated takedown system, it's alleged, YouTube's processes for dealing with manual takedowns are not fit for purpose.
In its response to the litigation last September, YouTube argued that independent creators can access Content ID via distribution partners, and that Schneider has done exactly that. Meanwhile, it said, it has to be careful who has direct Content ID access because of the control it gives users over other people's videos. Some companies cannot be trusted with that power, it added, and Pirate Monitor itself is proof of that.
The core allegation against Pirate Monitor is that - in a bid to prove that it was sufficiently prolific to deserve Content ID access - it uploaded a load of videos of its own content to various unofficial YouTube channels it had set up, and then issued takedowns against those channels. But that means it either infringed YouTube terms when uploading the videos - by incorrectly claiming it had the rights to do so - or breached copyright rules by issuing the takedowns - by incorrectly claiming the videos contained unlicensed content.
YouTube says that Pirate Monitor is refusing to cooperate with its discovery requests as part of this lawsuit because - it suspects - doing so would prove the company's dodgy conduct. But even without Pirate Monitor's cooperation, it argues, it has plenty of evidence to prove that the rights management firm uploaded its own content, and then objected to those uploads, in a bid to qualify for Content ID access.
Not only that, the latest legal filing goes on, it also has proof that Pirate Monitor isn't even really a rights management company. Instead, it was an entity set up by Csupó in a bid to get access to Content ID and to then sue YouTube.
"Counterclaim defendant Gábor Csupó is an individual, a Hungarian film director and a resident of California", the lawsuit states. "Csupó is the managing director, sole stockholder, sole decision maker, and alter ego of Pirate Monitor Ltd. From what YouTube has been able to piece together, given Pirate Monitor Ltd's refusal to provide any discovery, Pirate Monitor Ltd has no principals or employees other than Csupó. It is inadequately capitalised, disregards corporate formalities, and commingles funds and other assets with Csupó".
"Csupó dominates and controls Pirate Monitor Ltd to such an extent that it has no separate corporate personality", it adds. "So thorough is Csupó's dominance of Pirate Monitor Ltd that, if the actions of Pirate Monitor Ltd alleged herein were treated as those of Pirate Monitor Ltd alone, and not those of Csupó, it would lead to an inequitable result".
"Csupó created Pirate Monitor Ltd after his personal liability for the acts alleged herein first arose", it goes on, "and his misuse of the corporate form is continuing. As a result, Csupó is responsible, and personally liable for, not only his own actions, but the acts of Pirate Monitor Ltd as well".
Of course Csupó - a successful animator and film-maker whose production company Klasky Csupó produced shows like'Rugrats', 'Duckman' and 'Stressed Eric', and was involved in the early days of 'The Simpsons' - might argue that he should have access to Content ID in his own right. And this case is basically about what access independent creators should have to Content ID type technologies.
However, YouTube claims, by seeking access to Content ID and then pursuing litigation via a company that doesn't really exist - and by employing devious tactics in a bid to claim copyright infringement that hadn't actually occurred - the director acted in bad faith. In doing so, he kind of proves while the Google company should have strict rules over who gets privileged access to its rights management systems.
It will be interesting to see how Csupó or Pirate Monitor - which, according to YouTube, is basically the same thing - now respond.
Disappointment at lack of clarity in Scotland's plan for lifting lockdown
Sturgeon's announcement on plans for relaxing COVID restrictions in Scotland was made yesterday, following that of UK Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson about lockdown easing in England on Monday.
Johnson's announcement gave rough dates for the lifting of most COVID restrictions, with the aim of things being close to back to normal by 21 Jun - although he warned that those dates could all change if certain conditions were not met.
Sturgeon, meanwhile, confirmed that the current lockdown would continue in Scotland until at least 5 Apr. She also said that non-essential shops, along with bars and restaurants, even with outdoor seating, would remain closed until at least the end of April.
"The lack of detail in the First Minister's statement to the Scottish Parliament is highly disappointing", says Mike Grieve, Chair of NTIA Scotland. "Boris [Johnson's] announcement yesterday brought a real sense of optimism to our sector throughout the UK with the prospect of fully re-opening the late-night economy by the end of June in England".
"It's clear that the Scottish government has adopted a more cautious approach than Westminster throughout the pandemic", he goes on. "But we hoped that our own roadmap in Scotland would align more closely with the rest of the UK to allow businesses to begin trading again and young people in particular to resume social activity in well-controlled and highly regulated environments such as clubs and music venues. The mental health of our young people is particularly threatened by the ongoing lockdown".
Speaking to the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Sturgeon said that the lack of detail in her announcement was intentional, warning that 'Boris' Johnson's list of dates risks giving false hope. "I want to give as much as possible", she said, "while avoiding giving false assurance or picking arbitrary dates that have no grounding at this stage in any objective assessment".
"It is by being cautious, careful and patient for the next period – while the vaccination programme progresses – that we will make [the transition out of lockdown] as safe and sustainable as possible", she went on. "Taking the brakes off too quickly will allow the virus to get ahead of us again and put our progress out of lockdown into reverse".
With the night-time sector at large - and especially in Scotland - still facing plenty of uncertainty, Grieve also added that there is an urgent need for further financial support to avoid businesses going under while still being unable to operate.
"NTIA Scotland supports the prioritisation of vaccinations to suppress the virus and agree it is vital that the exit from lockdown is fully sustainable", he says. "There must be a commitment to continue and accelerate the rollout of the vaccination to include all demographics and age groups as soon as the most vulnerable are protected. Meanwhile, it is absolutely vital that significant financial support continues for the most affected businesses such as late-night music venues and nightclubs until all trading restrictions are removed".
Although night-time businesses in England do have more of an idea of when they could re-open, reps for the music industry also warned that further financial support will be required - particularly if the latest proposed dates for lifting restrictions move.
Moving The Needle aims to support women to rise up to senior roles in the music industry
UK Music's Diversity Report, published last October, found that women hold 65% of entry-level roles in the music industry, but only a third of senior management roles. Moving The Needle will offer education and mentoring in an attempt to address this.
As part of that mission, MTN will also offer education on the range of roles on offer in the music industry, in an effort to improve gender diversity in those sectors where the balance skews even more male.
"In the late 1980s, someone told me that to join this industry, I'd have to start as a secretary", says Karen Emanuel, an MTN co-founder and CEO of the Key Production Group that specialises in the manufacture of physical music releases.
"Well, I never learned to type, and I've done pretty well without that skill by knowing my numbers. But I'm still not seeing enough women come in and rise to the top in the 'nuts and bolts' side of this business. It drives me crazy".
There will also be efforts to improve age and racial diversity among women in senior roles. Research shows that only 35% of women in the industry are aged over 45 - a figure that has fallen since 2018. Meanwhile, just 2% of senior management roles are held by black women.
"Women may leave because they don't get good enough support after returning from maternity leave", says Emanuel. "Or because having children means they are unable to network as much as their male counterparts, or because - certainly pre-COVID - they aren't given the flexibility they need".
"Or maybe they just assume they'll never get to the top, because they hardly see any women there. When I started Key Production, people would arrive in my office and ask me if they could see the boss. I was the boss!"
One of the other founders of MTN, Jen Otter Bickerdike, who was the youngest ever director of marketing at Interscope, and who now lectures at BIMM, says: "I've never, ever had a mentor in the industry. There's a real lack of support for women. When I left the label, no women were above me, which indicated there was no pathway. We hope to make a difference now as part of Moving The Needle".
Meanwhile, Vick Bain, who sits on the project's advisory board, adds: "There is not one black, female CEO or Chair of a UK music trade body. Everyone in the industry should be helping in our mission. We want to feel proud that our dynamic industry is fair and diverse, and we're prepared to make some noise to make this happen. We need people and organisations to join in our mission. The time is now!"
Moving The Needle will formally launch on International Women's Day on 8 Mar. Find out more and sign up for more information here.
COVID-19 CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS
The Slam Dunk Festival has announced that it is shifting its 2021 dates back from May to September. "Whilst we welcome the news laid out in the [government's COVID] roadmap", say organisers, "it does, unfortunately, seal the fate of Slam Dunk Festival not happening over the May bank holiday weekend". Tickets for the original dates will remain valid.
Zara Larsson is back with new single 'Look What You've Done'. Her new album, 'Poster Girl', is out on 5 Mar.
The Horrors have released new single 'Lout'. Their new EP of the same name is out on 12 Mar.
Greentea Peng has released new single 'Nah It Ain't The Same'.
Iggy Pop has released a video for his reading of Dylan Thomas's poem 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night', from his 2019 album 'Free'.
Enter Shikari have recorded a new version of their 2012 track 'Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here'. They're also now selling a t-shirt made in collaboration with St Albans FC, profits from which will go to foodbank charities.
The Offspring have announced that they will release new album, 'Let The Bad Times Roll', on 16 Apr - their first LP for almost a decade. Here's the title track.
Dinosaur Jr have released new single 'I Ran Away'. Their new album, 'Sweep It Into Space', is out on 23 Apr and was co-produced by Kurt Vile, who also plays on the new single.
The Gloria Record have put out previously unreleased track 'The Dead Brother'. It will feature on a vinyl re-issue of their debut album, 'Start Here', which is set for release through Big Scary Monsters on 16 Apr.
Horsegirl have released new single 'Ballroom Dance Scene'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Greatest Showman director to make Robbie Williams biopic
"Unlike some people who were born prodigies or musical geniuses and you follow the narrative of the world catching up to their brilliance, this isn't that story", Gracey tells Deadline. "Robbie is that everyman, who just dreamed big and followed those dreams, and they took him to an incredible place".
"Because of that, his is an incredibly relatable story", he goes on. "He's not the best singer, or dancer, and yet, he managed to sell 80 million records worldwide".
"You can relate to the guy who doesn't see himself as having any extraordinary talent, even though, of course, he does", he goes on. "What he did have is the will, vision and confidence to say, I'm going to pursue my dream. For us as an audience, it's a window into the world of, what if we just went for it and chased that impossible dream that so many of us put to one side".
Gracey spent time with Williams to learn about his story, and the former Take That star will also record new versions of his songs for the film.
"All Robbie's songs will be re-sung, for the emotion of the moment", says Gracey. "If in his life he's in the depths of despair, he's not going to sing a song [with] cabaret flamboyant showmanship; it's going to be broken, a cappella, stripped down, because that's where he is emotionally. In moments of pure joy, you'll get songs sung in this whirlwind of hysteria".
"So essentially, every song in the film, Robbie will sing, but it will be performed for the emotion of that moment, and that scene", he adds.
As for whether Williams himself will appear in the movie, Gracey remains tight-lipped, only saying: "How we [will] represent Robbie in the film, that bit is top secret. I want to do this in a really original way ... It's so important when [the audience] watch this story, and look at the screen, that they literally think, I've never seen this before".
"All I can say is, the approach is top secret, but the goal is to generate that feeling [of wonder]", he says. "It's this fantastical story, and I want to represent it in its harsh reality all the way to these moments of pure fantasy".
The as-yet-untitled film is set to begin production this summer.