|THURSDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: UK record industry trade group BPI has changed BRIT Award and Mercury Prize rules regarding which artists it classes as British. The move comes after Rina Sawayama was overlooked for last year's Mercury because she does not hold a British passport - despite the fact that she has lived in the UK for 26 years... [READ MORE]|
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BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize rules on Britishness changed following #SawayamaIsBritish campaign
Under the new rules, artists will be eligible for the BPI's British artist awards if they were born in the UK, hold a UK passport, and/or they have been permanently resident in the UK for five years.
"I'm over the moon ... that following a number of conversations, the BPI has decided to change the rules of eligibility for the BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize", Sawayama said on social media last night.
When the Mercury Prize shortlist was announced in July last year, it was something of a surprise that Sawayama's album 'Sawayama' was not nominated, because it was definitely one of the twelve best British album's released in the previous year. However, it later emerged that she had not even been considered because she did not meet the necessary criteria.
"It was so heartbreaking", she told Vice at the time. "If I was snubbed, I would be like, 'Well, OK, fine… Let's just make a better record and move on'. But the fact that I wasn't even eligible is like… I don't even know what that emotion was. It was othering".
"I'm signed to a UK label", she continued. "I've lived here uninterrupted for the last 25 years. I'm only tax registered in this country. The … album was recorded in the UK, as well as in LA. It was mixed in the UK. My lyrics are in English, except for one verse in one song … I fundamentally don't agree with [the Mercurys'] definition of Britishness".
There would have been no issue if Sawayama had dual nationality, for which she would be eligible were it not for the fact that her country of birth, Japan, does not allow its citizens to hold such status. She could only gain British citizenship by giving up her Japanese passport, which she has chosen not to do in order to retain links to her family who still live in the country.
After the news broke that Sawayama could not be considered for British artist categories at the BPI's award ceremonies, fans campaigned for a change to the rules online, using the #SawayamaIsBritish hashtag. In August, Sawayama revealed that she had met with reps for the awards and that such a change was now being considered.
Continuing her social media statement yesterday, Sawayama said: "I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing the #SawayamaIsBritish campaign worldwide and igniting this important conversation about Britishness. Without a collective voice, this wouldn't have happened".
"In my 26th year of living in the UK, I'm so proud that I can help make this systemic change for future generations so that in years to come we can see a more diverse definition of British musical excellence", she continued. "The idea that my music can be part of that is unbelievably exciting".
Although it's too late for 'Sawayama' to be considered for the Mercury Prize, the rule change means that she will be eligible for this year's BRITs Rising Star award - although not the main awards, because of another rule that an artist's album has to have appeared in the Official Charts Company's top 75.
Iron Maiden accused of "misappropriating" $200,000 from e-commerce firm's PayPal account
The money was seized after Viral Style got caught up in legal action against a plethora of merch and clothing companies that were accused of infringing Iron Maiden's intellectual property.
It seems that Viral Style was named as a defendant in a big old IP lawsuit filed by Iron Maiden with the courts in Illinois last year because two of its clients - Beatee and 89artshirt - were accused of selling products that exploited the band's copyright and trademarks.
However, the e-commerce firm argues in its lawsuit, it was not actively involved in the sale or distribution of those products, and while its site may have facilitated the other companies' transactions, Viral Style has safe harbour protection from liability for any infringement its clients were involved in.
The law firm that led on the legal action on behalf of Iron Maiden Holdings - Illinois-based AMS Law - seemingly agreed with Viral Style regarding both its passive involvement in the operations of Beatee and 89artshirt and its safe harbour protection regarding any liability for those companies' alleged infringement. As a result Viral Style was removed as a defendant from the Iron Maiden lawsuit. However, the problems didn't end even once that had happened.
The e-commerce outfit only actually became aware that it was even listed as a defendant on the band's litigation when, via a court order, its PayPal account was frozen last September. Once it had been removed from the lawsuit the PayPal account was unfrozen. But, Viral Style says, AMS Law nevertheless argued that it shared its PayPal account with Beatee and 89artshirt. Viral Style strongly denies that's the case, but it's that claim by Iron Maiden's legal reps that is behind the dispute.
The lawsuit against Beatee, 89artshirt and various other companies accused of infringing Iron Maiden's IP continued, with most defendants not formally responding to the legal action. In December, the band were then awarded a default judgement in their favour against all the defendants that had failed to respond, including Beatee and 89artshirt.
Having won that default judgement, and seemingly still insisting that Beatee and 89artshirt shared a PayPal account with Viral Style, Iron Maiden Holdings allegedly seized $200,000 from said account. Or, in Viral Style's words, Iron Maiden - assisted by AMS Law - "improperly misappropriated $200,000.00 from Viral Style's PayPal account".
Its lawsuit goes on: "Iron Maiden and AMS Law misappropriated these funds with full knowledge that Viral Style: (a) was dismissed from the Illinois lawsuit, (b) was only named as a defendant in the Illinois lawsuit by mistake, (c) was not bound by the final judgment order, (d) was an online service provider e-commerce platform and/or marketplace that did not infringe on Iron Maiden's intellectual property, and (e) did not share its PayPal account with Beatee or 89artshirt".
Viral Style says that its repeated demands that the seized money be returned have been ignored by Iron Maiden Holdings and AMS Law. As a result it is suing both the band's company and its lawyers for fraud, tortious interference and civil conspiracy, seeking repayment of the $200,000 and damages.
Neither Iron Maiden Holdings nor AMS Law have as yet responded to the lawsuit.
MU and Ivors say streaming service comments to select committee support redefinition of streams
The music-maker focused organisations say that answers given by the streaming service reps to MPs confirmed many of the issues artists and songwriters have raised about the streaming business, and also that streams should be defined differently by the industry, impacting on how monies are shared out.
MPs on Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee questioned Spotify's Head Of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Horacio Gutierrez, Apple's Global Senior Director Of Music Publishing Elena Segal, and Amazon's Director Of International Music Paul Firth on Tuesday.
The MU and Ivors say that during the session the services confirmed the dominance the major music groups have over the streaming business, and the licensing deals that sit at the heart of it all.
The Ivors Academy has argued that this dominance has resulted in much more streaming money being allocated to recordings than songs. Because, while all three majors have both recording and publishing divisions, contractural conventions mean that those companies usually get to keep a majority of any recording revenues, but have to pay writers a majority of any publishing income.
The two organisations also hone in on the agreement between Gutierrez, Segal and Firth that their partnerships with the music industry are licensing deals.
On one level that's uncontroversial, because the contracts agreed between the services and the music companies clearly are licensing deals. But the definition of those deals - or the specific technical or legal definitions of a stream - are all controversial within the music community, because such definitions can impact on how monies are shared out between artists, labels, songwriters and publishers.
Many artists argue that labels have incorrectly defined streams and streaming deals in order to increase their cut of the money. Defining a stream as a licence could arguably increase an artist's royalty rate on legacy contracts that don't specifically mention digital income.
Meanwhile, if it's deemed that steams exploit the communication or rental elements of the sound recording copyright, then performers would be due so called equitable remuneration under law through the collective licensing system. That money would be in addition to any royalties they are due from their label or distributor.
Commenting on this week's hearing, MU Deputy General Secretary says: "This session has thrown some light into an area of the industry which by Spotify's own admission is shrouded in 'a high degree of opacity'. We must find a way to make the division of revenue more equitable for all musicians, creators and rightsholders. Given that the back catalogue controlled by major labels makes up such a significant share of music on these platforms, we must make sure that legacy artists are getting a fair deal, not just new acts. We must fix deals and put more collective rights management in place".
"Spotify also said that 'streaming is clearly a licence from a contractual perspective' and not a sale", she continues. "This means royalties should be paid to artists by labels at 50%. In fact, none of the platforms' representatives argued that streaming is a sales model, although labels pay out to artists on that basis. We also heard about the role of human curation in playlisting and ad-supported services, which point to a broadcast model like radio. It is becoming increasingly clear that we need a review of how streaming is categorised legally as this could significantly improve payments to musicians and create an entirely new royalty stream for session players".
Meanwhile, Ivors Academy boss Graham Davies adds: "[This week's] session of the DCMS select committee with Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music provided further confirmation that this inquiry has been essential. It is clear to all that the industry models are out of date and there is an appetite, from streaming services to music creators, for reform. The current practices are held in place due to a lack of transparency, insufficient accuracy and inconsistent regulation of the major music intermediaries".
DistroKid announces partnership with Twitch
The distributor explains that "the Twitch Affiliate Program is open to Twitch streamers who meet select qualifications, and allows those who qualify to further build a community and earn income on Twitch". DistroKid has worked with the Amazon company, it says, "to extend their affiliate qualifications to recognise the work that DistroKid members have put into creating music and building fans across music streaming services".
Lovely stuff. DistroKid already has a partnership with Twitch, being one of a small number of music companies that is providing music to the livestreaming service's Soundtrack By Twitch music library.
Given the wider licensing issues it is currently having in the music domain, Twitch has been pushing that library to gamers and creators on its platform that want to use music in their streams but don't want to risk getting takedown notices issued against their content by a record company or music publisher.
The new deal means that as well as making their music available to other creators on Twitch, DistroKid-allied artists can now get more out of livestreaming on the platform themselves.
Announcing the latest tie-up, the distributor's founder Philip Kaplan wrote in a blog post: "Live streaming on Twitch is a great way to connect with fans, express yourself creatively, and generate income. We're excited to bring this opportunity to DistroKid members. We hope you love it".
Bauer Media buys Irish radio firm Communicorp
The deal does not, however, include Communicorp UK. The Irish company's UK division operates various local radio stations, but - with one exception - those all use brands and programming provided by Bauer's main rival Global.
In addition to Today FM and Newstalk, the deal will bring to Bauer Dublin stations Spin 1038 and 98FM, Limerick-based Spin Southwest, digital sports station Off The Ball, and digital platforms audioXI and GoLoud.
Confirming the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, Bauer Media's Paul Keenan says: "Radio is very popular in Ireland with more than 80% of the population tuning in every week. The industry makes a vital and much-valued contribution to the country's rich cultural landscape".
"Communicorp's award-winning radio stations are reaching record listening highs", he continues, "and the combination of these highly valued audiences offered alongside fast-growing and innovative digital brands means they are well-positioned to capitalise on the future development potential of the wider world of audio. This offers more choice for listeners alongside enhanced, targeted solutions for advertisers. We are very much looking forward to working with Communicorp CEO Simon Myciunka and his talented team".
Commenting on the transaction from its side, Communicorp Chair Lucy Gaffney adds: "Communicorp has been at the forefront of Ireland's media industry for over 30 years and this agreement marks the culmination of an exciting and dynamic journey, which has enhanced and transformed radio in Ireland".
"Hundreds of incredibly talented and special people, both in front of and behind the mic, have made that journey possible and I want to thank them for their enormous contribution to the company", she goes on. "I also want to thank our advertisers, our stakeholders and especially our listeners, for their support and loyalty over many years. Finally, on behalf of the board, I wish Bauer and everyone at Communicorp continued success for the future".
Kero Kero Bonito release new single, announce EP
Speaking about the single, the band say: "'The Princess And The Clock' is the tale of a young explorer who is kidnapped while sailing the world, imprisoned at the top of a tower and worshipped as royalty by an isolated society. Trapped in her chamber, she spends years dreaming of escaping, until one day she disappears".
"A legend of our own invention, 'The Princess And The Clock' was written before COVID emerged", they go on. "Though the long, lonely hours and escapist dreams its protagonist experiences will be relatable to many right now. It's a song for anyone who has ever felt trapped, lost and alone".
'Civilisation II' is out on 12 Apr. Watch the video for 'The Princess And The Clock' here.
Atlantic Screen Music has appointed Rosie Hill as its first Global Director Of Sync. She joins from Sentric Music. "I am THRILLED to be joining the Atlantic Screen Music team as they continue on a truly exciting trajectory of expansion and development", she says. "It's clear that the organisation fosters a wonderfully collaborative, supportive environment and with the backing of Ru [Hollier, Creative Director] and Simon [Fawcett, CEO], I know that I can fully explore and unleash the huge creative potential we have in our catalogues".
Ahead of his concert marking the 25th anniversary of Pokémon this weekend, Post Malone has released a cover of Hootie And The Blowfish's 'Only Wanna Be With You', the original version of which ended a run on the Billboard Hot 100 chart 25 years old. So I guess that all probably makes sense. It makes sense, right? I mean, it's not like it was number one when Pokémon launched or anything, but it was certainly around. So. Yeah. Great.
St Vincent will release a new album called 'Daddy's Home' on 14 May.
Drake features on new Drakeo The Ruler track 'Talk To Me'.
Laura Mvula has released new EP '1/f', which features reworked versions of earlier songs. "I was against re-interpreting old songs in the beginning", she says. "But I actually found new energy and life in those songs by putting them through the filter of my current sonic season, which feels a lot more direct than where I've been in the past".
Becky G and Burna Boy have released new track 'Rotate'.
Steps have released new single 'Heartbreak In This City', featuring Michelle Visage. "To say that I'm honoured to record a song with pop icons Steps is the understatement of the year", says Visage. "After years of dreaming about it, for at least a moment in time, I can officially be 'Michelle from Steps'! CAN SOMEONE PINCH ME PLEASE?"
Wolf Alice have released new single 'The Last Man On Earth'. "It's about the arrogance of humans", says that band's Ellie Rowsell. "I'd just read Kurt Vonnegut's 'Cat's Cradle' and I had written the line 'Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from god' in my notes. But then I thought: 'Uh, your peculiar travel suggestion isn't a dancing lesson from god, it's just a travel suggestion! Why does everything need to mean something more?'"
Tiggs Da Author and Nines have released the video for their recent single 'Fly Em High'. Tiggs Da Author's new album, 'Blame It On The Youts', is out on 12 Mar.
Sacred Bones will release 'lost' Alan Vega album 'Mutator' on 23 Apr. From it, this is 'Nike Soldier'.
Real Estate have announced that they will release new EP 'Half A Human' on 26 Mar. Here's the title track. "When I was writing a lot of these songs, I was feeling a little weird about being in a band", says the band's Martin Courtney. "Like, 'how is this still a thing?' I was feeling silly about it and then coming around to it at the same time. This is what we're good at and it's what we love to do and want to keep doing. I don't want to do anything else".
Chai have released new single 'Maybe Chocolate Chips'. The song is about bassist Yuuki's moles. "A lot of things happen as we age and with that for me, is new moles", she says. "But I love them! My moles are like the chocolate chips on a cookie, the more you have, the happier you become! And before you know it, you're an original".
Cannibal Corpse have released the video for recent single, 'Inhumane Harvest'. The band's new album, 'Violence Unimagined', is out on 16 Apr.
Baby Queen has released new single 'These Drugs'. "I wrote this song when I was in a really bad place which was characterised mostly by this idea that I wasn't a good person and didn't deserve good things", she says.
Svalbard vocalist Serena Cherry will release a solo album under the name Noctule on 28 May. Titled 'Wretched Abyss', it's a black metal album inspired by the video game 'Skyrim'. "I have always associated 'Skyrim' with black metal", she says. "The snowy mountain settings, the morbid themes, the Norse mythology backbone – it just goes hand in hand for me". Here's the title track.
GIGS & TOURS
The Reading and Leeds festivals will go ahead this August. That's what they're saying. "Following the government's recent announcement [regarding the lifting of COVID restrictions], we can't wait to get back to the fields this summer", they say.
Parklife co-founder Sacha Lord has also said that he's "confident" the festival will go ahead this year. "We pushed back Parklife to September [last year] and we're confident it will go ahead", he tells the NME. "We're not considering operating with social distancing – I personally don't like these socially distanced events. I think to go to a proper gig or a proper rave you need to be shoulder-to-shoulder in a hot sweaty environment". Good luck with that.
Ry X has announced a UK show at the Roundhouse in London on 20 Mar 2022. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Bruce Springsteen's Jeep ad reinstated after drink driving charges dropped
Springsteen appeared virtually at a court hearing in New Jersey accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a federal park in relation to an incident last year. Although he was convicted of and fined for the latter charge, the two more serious charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
The musician admitted that he had drunk two small shots of tequila prior to being stopped by a park ranger at the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey on 14 Nov last year. Although the exact circumstances were not discussed in court, it has been reported that Springsteen stopped his motorcycle to talk to fans, who offered him the drinks.
After that conversation with the fans, he drove away but was then stopped by a park ranger who had seen him drinking. Springsteen refused a breathalyser test at the scene, but later took one at a ranger station, upon which is his blood alcohol level registered at .02 - well below the legal limit of .08.
Although the arrest report said that Springsteen had failed other sobriety tests and was "visibly swaying back and forth", the judge said that there was not enough evidence to proceed.
According to the Asbury Park Press, after noting that he would be overseeing the case if it were to go to trial, Judge Anthony Mautone said: "I can't imagine that I would be persuaded that the government could sustain its burden of proof".
As for whether he had consumed alcohol in a prohibited area, that was another matter. Springsteen pleaded guilty to that charge and was ordered to pay a $500 fine, plus $40 in additional penalties.
News of Springsteen's drink driving arrest emerged earlier this month, shortly after an advert for Jeep starring the musician premiered during this year's Super Bowl. It was the first time in his career that Springsteen had agreed to appear in a commercial and had only come about after ten years of nagging from Jeep marketing exec Olivier François.
As well as all that effort to secure Springsteen for the ad, Jeep had also spent tens of millions of dollars making and then broadcasting it in one of the most expensive slots on US TV. Therefore, it was somewhat unfortunate timing for the vehicle manufacturer that Springsteen's first ever brand endorsement coincided with his first DUI.
Once reports of the DUI allegations started to circulate, Jeep withdrew the advert from its YouTube channel, saying that is was "right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established".
If the charges are dropped without being considered in court, I'm not sure that counts as 'establishing the facts', and Springsteen doesn't deny drinking tequila and then getting on a motorbike. Still, the dismissal of the drink driving charges is enough for Jeep and it has now uploaded the advert afresh to YouTube.
"Now that the matter has been resolved, we are unpausing the commercial", says a Jeep spokesperson.
So, that's all sorted then. The other Bruce Springsteen news this week, by the way, in case you somehow missed it, is that he's launched a new podcast, on which he is joined by co-host Barack Obama. In the eight episode series - a Spotify exclusive - the duo chat about "their lives, music, and enduring love of America - despite all its challenges". The first two episodes are available to listen to here.