|THURSDAY 11 MARCH 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The often controversial Spanish collecting society SGAE has been readmitted into global grouping CISAC nearly two years after it was temporarily expelled. The latter's board decided to allow the former back into the club because of "a series of reforms that have transformed the society and its operations"... [READ MORE]|
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CISAC readmits Spanish collecting society SGAE
There have been an assortment of controversies involving the Spanish song rights society over the years with dramatic police raids, corruption allegations aplenty and a sneaky little scam dubbed 'the wheel' which involved the redirection of TV royalties to certain SGAE members.
Those controversies unsurprisingly resulted in mounting criticisms of SGAE by both its own writer and publisher members, and also other societies around the world and global music publishers, all of which traditionally relied on the society to represent their catalogues in the Spanish market.
The global publishers became increasingly vocal with their criticism in 2018 after their Spanish reps were locked out of a SGAE board meeting. Many of those publishers started to look for alternative ways to license their catalogues in Spain, while also putting pressure on CISAC to take action against its rogue member.
Responding to those calls, CISAC made a number of recommendations for reforms that SGAE should make. When those reforms failed to be made, the global grouping threatened sanctions against its Spanish member. That ultimately led to SGAE's expulsion from CISAC in May 2019.
SGAE's leadership was also under pressure from the Spanish government to overhaul its governance and deal with the allegations of corruption. Meanwhile, it also faced new competition in the market place from a new society called Unison, offering writers and publishers another alternative for licensing their rights within the Spanish market. And around about the same time as it was expelled from CISAC, SGAE was fined by the Spanish competition regulator for anti-competitive conduct.
Despite all that, internal politics within the society's membership meant that much-needed reforms continued to be resisted for some time. However, announcing the readmission of SGAE yesterday, CISAC said that significant changes were now underway at the Spanish society.
Among them: "Ending discriminatory practices in electing board and supervisory board members; carrying out new elections to the board of directors and restoring the representation of all affiliated rights-holders in the society's management bodies; and introducing a new code of conduct to address conflicts of interest".
In relation to the controversies around how broadcast royalties are distributed - and the alleged scams in that domain - there will be "changes to the weights of different categories of music, and the separation of music and audiovisual pools; a maximum 20% cap on royalties paid for music that is broadcast during night time in accordance with the law; and development of a technology project to address the distortions in royalty calculations caused by inaudible music in usage reports".
Confirming SGAE's readmission, CISAC's Director-General Gadi Oron and board Chairman Marcelo Castello Branco said in a joint statement: "CISAC has worked for over three years to monitor, support and evaluate SGAE's transformation into a society that is compliant with international standards".
"This has been a complex task of utmost importance both to CISAC members, who depend on the integrity of the collective management system internationally, and to Spanish creators and rights holders who deserve a well-functioning and reliable society", they added. "The reforms implemented should help SGAE better serve its members and international partners, and drive recovery in collections after the deep crisis caused by the pandemic".
Those publishers who were most critical of SGAE in 2018 will be following all of those reforms very closely indeed. While the various developments that have enabled the readmission of SGAE into CISAC will all be welcomed by the publishers, most likely see this very much as a work in progress, with plenty more still to be done.
Pirate Monitor dismisses its lawsuit over YouTube's Content ID
Schneider and Pirate Monitor both sued YouTube in July last year arguing that, while YouTube's Content ID may be a pretty decent rights management system, too few creators and rights-owners have access to it.
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, they claimed, YouTube's processes for dealing with manual takedowns are not fit for purpose.
Websites like YouTube are obliged to operate takedown systems of course, if they want to benefit from the copyright safe harbour and avoid liability for the infringing content swimming around their servers. By only offering Content ID access to the major players and operating a shoddy takedown system for everyone else, the argument went, YouTube should be deprived that all important safe harbour protection.
Needless to say, YouTube hit back at those allegations, arguing that independent creators like Schneider could access Content ID by allying with a music distributor. Which, in fact, she had done. Meanwhile, it added, Pirate Monitor was all the proof that was needed to demonstrate why YouTube is right to be careful about who has access to Content ID, a platform via which rights-holders can block and monetise other people's videos.
Operators like Pirate Monitor, it said, definitely could not be trusted to use such powerful tools responsibly. Why? Because, YouTube alleged, Pirate Monitor had been uploading its own content to various YouTube channels it had anonymously set up, and then issuing takedowns against the very same channels. Its aim was to prove that it was a sufficiently prolific takedown issuer to warrant Content ID access.
However, YouTube argued, that meant that Pirate Monitor was either in breach of YouTube's terms when it uploaded its content, by claiming it had the rights to do so, or it was knowingly issuing takedowns against content that was not, in fact, infringing, in breach of US safe harbour rules.
In a more recent filing, YouTube then made another round of allegations against Pirate Monitor. It wasn't even a legitimate anti-piracy company, it argued. It was a shell company set up by film director Gábor Csupó in order to issue takedowns against and then sue YouTube. Possibly because he felt that what looked like an anti-piracy agency was more likely to be granted Content ID access than an individual film-maker, even a successful film-maker with his own animation company.
Either way, with the mounting allegations about the sneaky conduct of Csupó and Pirate Monitor, neither the director nor his company were very compelling champions for an independent creator community that reckons it should have the same Content ID access as major distributors and rights-owners.
So perhaps it's unsurprising that a new legal filing with the courts on Monday states: "Pirate Monitor Ltd hereby dismisses this action with prejudice against defendants YouTube LLC and Google LLC. Voluntary dismissal without a court order is proper because all parties have stipulated to this dismissal and signed below. No compensation was paid to Pirate Monitor Ltd by defendants in connection with this voluntary dismissal".
However, the filing stresses that Schneider's claims against YouTube regarding Content ID access remain, which means the lawsuit continues but without its more problematic plaintiff.
Live From Abbey Road producer says costs associated with Universal legal battle are disproportionate and unjust
Michael Gleason is embroiled in a legal battle with Universal Music following his decision to auction off some of the recordings he made as producer of the former Channel 4 show. He announced his auction plans shortly after Channel 4 confirmed it would no longer be broadcasting the programme, which originally aired between 2007 and 2012.
The dispute centres on whether or not Gleason is allowed to sell those recordings. Universal argues that, whenever artists signed to its labels featured on the programme, it rather than Gleason's company actually owns the rights in those recordings.
Now, the default owner of a recording copyright in the UK is whoever organises for the recording to take place. This is presumably why Gleason reckons he owns the rights in the master tapes from the programme he produced. However, there are complications.
When artists sign to record companies they normally grant the label exclusive rights over any recordings made while that deal is active. This means that when those artists go on TV shows – where their performances will be recorded – the producer of the programme needs to get permission from the label to make that recording.
Obviously, most labels are desperate for their artists to get TV exposure, so will gladly grant permission to a TV producer who plans to give an act airtime. But that permission may be subject to limitations on what happens to the recording that is made.
In this dispute, Universal seemingly argues that, when it granted permission for The Killers, Elbow and Mika to appear on the Abbey Road show, Gleason's company basically assigned the rights in those recordings back to the label. It then granted 'Live From Abbey Road' a licence to allow the recordings to be broadcast. But Gleason denies that is the case and insists he owns the copyright in the recordings of his old TV show.
The dispute is due to properly get to court in October, but - according to Law360 - this week there was a case management hearing during which Gleason discussed the mounting costs he is incurring as the legal battle ploughs on.
He told the court that his own legal costs to fight the case were set to reach £400,000, and if he lost the litigation and was forced to pay Universal's lawyer fees, his total bill could reach £600,000. In order to mitigate the total possible financial liability, he has parted ways with his legal team and is now representing himself.
However, he said, given that he was seeking $7000 for each of the master tapes he put up for auction, the costs of fighting this legal action "are not proportionate at all and not just".
A legal rep for Universal argued that $7000 was the starting price for the tapes in the planned auction, and the final price paid could have been much higher given the artists involved.
However, Gleason countered that the buyer of the tapes would not get any rights to commercially exploit the recordings, which meant the target for the auction was super-fans rather than corporate copyright owners, which would have restricted the level of bidding.
Elsewhere at the case management hearing, the judge said that the Universal labels that had dealings with 'Live From Abbey Road' should share with Gleason documents relating to their understanding and recognition of the copyright issues.
Last year a judge told Gleason to hand over certain correspondence from his side relating to the planned auction, because Universal wanted to assess if the producer actively knew he was breaching his past agreements with the labels by putting the master tapes up for sale.
NTIA welcomes extension of forfeiture moratorium but calls for more COVID support for night-time businesses
The forfeiture moratorium is a COVID measure to protect commercial tenants who are struggling to keep up with rent commitments because of the pandemic - it basically stops landlords from evicting tenants over unpaid rent.
The moratorium was due to expire at the end of this month, but with the COVID shutdown extending until at least June for many night-time businesses, the NTIA and others have been calling for the protection to be extended. It has now been extended until the end of June.
Welcoming that move but calling for more support for entertainment and hospitality businesses, NTIA CEO Michael Kill says: "The extension of the forfeiture moratorium until June 2021 has been welcomed by businesses which have been under an immense amount of pressure financially, but still does not address the underlying issues of rent arrears".
"Business owners will continue to take on further rent debt through this period, which will inevitably compromise their future", he adds. "This needs government intervention and will require lead departments to use this period to address these issues and look at potential solutions where the stakeholders share the burden of debt from rent arrears. Consideration needs to be given to a more robust code of conduct which would require some mandatory elements within it, similar to the Australian model, ensuring that each stakeholder comes to the table to resolve this current situation".
"Thousands of businesses have been lost already, with many employees and freelancers hanging off every announced press statement", he concludes. "With the acknowledgement by the Prime Minister of the immense commitment of businesses and the nation in support of the public health strategy, out of courtesy would it be too much to ask the government to place greater importance on timely communication given the gravity of some of these announcements".
Everybody's Management launches record label
"Listening to new music together over the last twelve months has been a wonderful way to stay connected as a team here at Everybody's", says the firm's founder Adam Tudhope. "Given the tough times that new artists are faced with in these conditions, we decided the next logical step after listening to and enjoying new artists' demos would be to find a way to help release them".
"We're very pleased to be working in partnership with AWAL on this venture, which at this stage aims to sign very artist-friendly, short-term deals with new artists for a handful of recordings/songs in return for some investment of money and time into marketing those recordings", he goes on. "It's incredibly exciting that we already have our first three signings in place and we can't wait to start rolling them out".
Oh yes, so, as well as Kinsley - who is also managed by Everybody's - the label has also signed George Eve and Jayla Kai. All three will be releasing EPs in the near future.
Other Everybody's management clients including Keane and Jack Garratt, and the company has previously worked with Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling.
Love Record Stores announces second annual record storing loving event
Originally a social media campaign to support music retailers amid the initial COVID-19 shutdown, the first physical Love Record Stores event took place last June. The 2021 edition will take place on 4 Sep - the hope being that by then people will actually be allowed to go into shops. The ambassador for this year's event will be Domino-signed artist Georgia.
One of the founders of the original campaign, UK MD of [PIAS] Jason Rackham, says: "Our campaign was only ever meant to be a one-off response to the immediate crisis facing record stores during the pandemic. However, the #loverecordstores campaign itself and the Love Records Stores event we organised last year was so well received by independent record stores, the wider music industry and music fans we've decided to replicate the initiative this year".
"Fingers crossed we will see more and more restrictions lifted as the year goes on and by September we hope that people will actually be able to go into and support their local stores rather than shopping online with them, which would be amazing", he goes on. "We would also like to thank Georgia for agreeing to be the Love Record Stores 2021 Ambassador. She is a passionate supporter of independent record stores and will bring amazing energy and creativity to our planned activities".
Georgia herself adds: "I'm not just a fan of records; I've bought them, sold them, swapped them and collected them. Records and record shops have always been such a significant part of my life. I was five or six when my dad took me to a record shop for the first time - it was a shop tucked away in Soho that mostly sold techno and rave records, and I remember the atmosphere so well: the sense of excitement, the cave-like smell, the characters I'd see. My love really started there".
"As a teenager, I'd head down to Beggars Banquet on my lunch breaks and became so intrigued and obsessed by records: 'How do they get made? How do they get sold? Why do they feel and sound so much better than anything else?!'", she continues. "Then, when I got a job at Rough Trade West off Portobello Road, records just became my whole world. Working there totally broadened my mind and shaped the person I am".
"I became fascinated by the culture that surrounded record shops, because no matter your taste or your background, they were their own cultural microcosm and community. And I truly believe that they still are", she concludes. "I couldn't be more excited to be an ambassador for Love Record Stores 2021 - I can't wait to celebrate and honour the history of record shops and get the next generation into buying records".
So, yeah, that's some pretty good ambassadoring she's done already there. Details of this year's exclusive releases and the labels involved are set to be announced in the coming weeks. Find out more here.
Rina Sawayama, Griff and Pa Salieu nominated for BRITs Rising Star award
"I literally fell to the floor when I found out that I'd been nominated for Rising Star", says Sawayama. "I really can't put into words how much this means to me, given that I wasn't eligible for this award a few weeks ago and now that door has been opened for future generations of artists like myself. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me, it means the world".
Sawayama was not previously eligible for the prize, of course, because under the rules for the awards ceremony she was not considered British. This issue was highlighted when she was not nominated for another awards ceremony run by UK record label trade body the BPI, the Mercury Prize, last year. Rules stated that for artists to be eligible, they had to be able to provide proof of their British citizenship.
This was not something Sawayama could do, as she holds indefinite leave to remain status in the UK, but not full citizenship. Although she has lived almost her entire life in England, Japan - where she was born - does not allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship with other countries. Unwilling to renounce her Japanese citizenship and sever connections with her family who still live in the country, she is unable to become legally British.
In an interview with Vice, following the uproar that she had been overlooked for the Mercury, she said: "I'm signed to a UK label. 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".
Subsequent talks with the BPI led to the announcement of a change to the rules for the Mercury Prize and the BRIT Awards last month. 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.
Although too late for the Mercury, the rule change did mean that Sawayama was eligible for the BRITs Rising Star Award – however, 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. Although voting for the Rising Star prize had already opened at the point the rule change was announced, the deadline for members of the voting panel to submit their shortlists was last Friday.
Also up for this year's Rising Star prize are Griff - who was nominated for Ivor Novello Rising Star Award last year - and BBC Sound Of 2021 winner Pa Salieu.
Says Griff of her nomination: "It's kinda terrifying how many legends have been nominated for this award. I never ever ever expected making beats in my music room after school could eventually lead to a BRIT nomination. Super lame, but I remember after school, catching up on the BRITs and crying watching Stormzy perform. And I don't think I really knew what that emotion was at the time, but I think it was just an overwhelming sense of aspiration. So to be nominated for a BRIT award three years on is completely surreal!"
Meanwhile, Pa Salieu adds: "I am very grateful to be shortlisted for this BRIT Award. Love and blessings every time! Thanks to everyone supporting my journey so far".
The overall Rising Star winner for 2021 will be announced on 19 Mar. This year's BRIT Awards ceremony itself will take place on 11 May.
COVID-19 CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS
Enter Shikari have announced that they are moving their May UK tour dates to December. A handful of extra shows have also been added too. Tickets to the additional dates go on sale tomorrow.
Sony Music Publishing in the UK has extended its worldwide deal with songwriter and lyricist Don Black. "I'm delighted to renew my relationship with Sony Music Publishing", says Black. "I am particularly excited to be working with the young and inspirational [co-MDs] David Ventura and Tim Major".
Universal Music's recently launched Virgin Music Label & Artist Services UK division has today announced Guillermo Ramos as its General Manager. "I am THRILLED that Guillermo is joining Virgin Music as General Manager", says MD Vanessa Higgins. "He brings with him not only a wealth of experience from his time at [Universal label] Island, but also an earlier background in the independent music scene, making him ideally placed to achieve our joined vision to elevate the careers of independent artists, labels and entrepreneurs to new heights".
Sony Music Publishing in Australia has promoted Maree Hamblion to SVP International A&R. "Maree has long been a powerhouse of A&R within the Australian music publishing industry, having identified and developed many of its most successful songwriters", says the publisher's Australia MD Damian Trotter. "I am personally THRILLED for Maree, and we are all so excited at SMP Australia by the further opportunities that her well-deserved promotion will bring to our local writers on the international stage".
EDUCATION & EVENTS
The UK's Music Publishers Association has announced a scheme for people in the early stages of their music publishing careers, called NXT-Gen Scholars. As part of an aim to champion underrepresented voices, it will offer free memberships to black and ethnic minority applicants. Applications are open until 21 Mar. Download the application form here.
4AD is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new compilation, featuring covers of songs from its back catalogue by its current roster of artists. 'Bills & Aches & Blues' is being put out digitally in four batches over the next month, and will be available on physical formats in July. The first five tracks - kicking off with a version of Pixies' 'Where Is My Mind?' by Tkay Maidza - are out now. Listen to those and see the full tracklist here.
Jorja Smith has released new single 'Addicted'. The song is about "focusing on wanting the full attention of someone who's not giving enough (or any) when they should be", she says.
Travis have released their second video of the year that uses deepfake technology. This one is for 'Waving At The Window'. "I shot the performance in downtown LA at sunrise with a small crew", says Fran Healy. "Then Hao Li and his team at Pinscreen helped bring the band from the UK to downtown LA with their deepfake technology. It took around six days for their supercomputers to learn everyone's faces and smoosh it all together. The results are amazing if a little disturbing".
Utada Kiraku has released new AG Cook-produced track 'One Last Kiss'.
Alessandro Cortini has announced that he will release new album 'Scuro Chiaro' on 11 Jun. From it, this is almost title track 'Chiaroscuro'.
Falle Nioke and Sir Was have released new single 'Rain'. "In Africa, even if you are very poor you can go to the village chief and ask him for a bit of land to farm so you can feed yourself or even start a business", says Nioke. "But the rain is so important. In Africa, there are still places that, without the rain, people and animals will starve. People pray to the higher power for the rain as it's so important for survival. This song is about that life".
The Gazette have released new single 'Blinding Hope'. Their new album, 'Mass', is out on 28 May.
Robyn Sherwell has released new single 'To Give Up'. Her new album, 'Unfold', is out on 18 Jun.
Cassyette has released new single 'Dear Goth'. "It's about feeling sick of society's standards, brainwashing systems and feeling like you don't belong", she says. "So many people live their lives feeling suppressed because the people around them and the world reject them, so they are scared to be their true selves. I feel that. Although the song is dark, 'Dear Goth' is an idea that we can be free to be and believe whatever we want".
On your list of songs you wish you'd get to hear Mike Patton sing, do you have the theme tune to 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'? Well, if you do, throw your hands up in the air. Then bring them down again so that you can click this link.
GIGS & TOURS
The Field Day festival will return to its original home of Victoria Park in London this year, after a tour of other parks the capital has to offer in recent years. It is set to take place on 29 Aug as part of All Points East - the rival event that turfed it out of Victoria Park in the first place. Acts announced for the event include Bicep and Floating Points. More info here.
Submissions are now open for this year's AIM Independent Music Awards, including two new categories: Diversity Champion and Best Live [Streamed] Act. Put forward your favourite indie artists and labels here. The awards will take place on 9 Sep.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
BTS top global list of 2020's most successful albums
BTS were announced last week as the act that sold and streamed the most music overall in 2020, so it's not a surprise that they're at the top of the albums list. Although they only just scraped into the top ten most popular singles. They make up for it in the albums chart though, by not only topping the list, but by also taking the number four slot with their other 2020 album 'Be'.
The group also released a reworked and expanded version of 'Map Of The Soul 7' last year, sung in Japanese. That doesn't feature in the top ten though, which suggests people prefer it when BTS sing in their native Korean. In the UK and US the original version of that album went to number one in both countries, compared to 35 and fourteen, respectively, for the rework. Although in Japan both versions topped the chart, so the jury is at least out there.
"We have introduced the Global Album All Format Chart to reflect the evolving landscape of the album format and to recognise how artists share their album projects in a variety of ways with their fans across multiple formats", says IFPI boss Frances Moore. "It's an honour to be able to hand BTS their second IFPI Global Chart Award, following their success as Global Recording Artists Of The Year. 'Map Of The Soul: 7' broke chart records internationally and in Korea, and is yet another incredible body of work from a band that continues to delight music lovers globally".
Elsewhere on the list, number one single seller The Weeknd has the second most popular album, with 'After Hours'. Meanwhile, Billie Eilish's 'When We All Go To Sleep, Where Do We Go?' comes in at number three, which is pretty good for an album that came out two years ago this month.
The majority of the artists on the new list are North American, although Dua Lipa and Harry Styles are both in there representing the UK. Japanese artist Kenshi Yonezu also makes an appearance at number seven, with his album 'Stray Sheep'.
Here's the full top ten: