|MONDAY 29 MARCH 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Court Of Appeal last week pretty much upheld an earlier ruling that concluded that radio aggregation app TuneIn is liable for copyright infringement for previously making non-UK radio stations available to a UK audience. Claims by TuneIn that it is just a sophisticated search engine were again rejected... [READ MORE]|
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Court Of Appeal upholds ruling in majors v TuneIn case
Sony Music and Warner Music together sued TuneIn through the UK courts arguing that the radio app needed its own licences for any music contained in the broadcasts it was helping its users access.
For its part, TuneIn countered that it was just a sophisticated audio-centric search engine that simply connected people to a radio station's own stream and therefore it wasn't in itself involved in any communication to the public of any music, and therefore it didn't need licences.
In the original high court case, a distinction was made between the UK and non-UK stations that are available via the TuneIn app. The former already have licences from the UK music industry's collecting societies, so PPL for recordings and PRS for songs. The latter may have similar licences from collecting societies in their home countries, but those licences will not cover listening in the UK.
The high court ruled that TuneIn didn't need its own licences when connecting UK users to licensed UK radio stations. However, it said that when it connected UK users to non-UK stations - which are not licensed for the UK - music was being communicated to the public without licence, and TuneIn itself was liable for that. It was the latter part of the ruling that TuneIn sought to appeal. However, the higher court backed the original decision.
In a lengthy judgement that considers how the communication element of the copyright has been applied to the digital world in both the UK and the European Union - and also the extent to which a UK court should still consider precedent in EU law - the appeal judges ultimately concluded that: "TuneIn Radio is not a conventional search engine, and it does much more than provide links to its users".
Even if music licences issued to a foreign radio station in its home country allow for services like TuneIn to aggregate and basically re-communicate any music via its app, "there is no reason to conclude that that authorisation extended to the UK public targeted by TuneIn Radio's communication".
There was one small part of the original ruling that the appeals court did overturn in relation to the premium service TuneIn used to offer in the UK whereby users could make recordings of a radio station's output.
Offering the recording function on UK broadcasts did not create a new communication to the public, the appeals court ruled. However, that doesn't change things hugely, as the appeal judges concurred with the lower court that subscribers who used that function may well have been infringing the reproduction element of the copyright - in any of the music included in their recordings - and that TuneIn would be liable for authorising that infringement.
So, although the lower court ruling was a mixed bag judgement - in that it did say TuneIn could include UK radio services in its UK app without getting its own licences - last week's court of appeal decision - focused as it was on foreign stations and the premium record function - was very much in the favour of Sony and Warner.
Which means, unsurprisingly, the ruling was welcomed by the majors. A spokesperson for Warner Music told reporters: "This appeal verdict is very welcome. We continue to hope that TuneIn will accept that it needs to operate on a fully licensed basis, fairly paying rightsholders for the music it uses to generate revenue. Such a move would be to the benefit of rightsholders and listeners in the UK and elsewhere. We stand ready to enter into licensing negotiations to help facilitate that outcome".
The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry also welcomed the judgement, presumably hoping that it could force TuneIn's hand on licensing matters beyond the UK. "Today's decision by the Court Of Appeal of England and Wales confirms that TuneIn can only operate with appropriate licences from rightholders and therefore cannot continue to blatantly disregard its obligation to ensure that its service is lawful", it said.
"This is a big win for those investing in and creating music", the trade group added, "reaffirming that services, like TuneIn, which generate revenues by providing online access to recorded music must be licensed to do so. Operating lawfully with an appropriate licence is essential if music creators are to be fairly compensated".
Needless to say, TuneIn was disappointed with the ruling. A spokesperson for the app told Law360: "As radio transforms into a digital medium on a global scale, we believe this decision is fundamentally bad for freedom of expression and is a disservice to the radio industry and listeners worldwide".
TuneIn has already reduced its service in the UK on the back of the high court ruling, blocking access to international music stations. Presumably, those limitations will now stay in place in the long-term.
NetEase agrees new licensing deal with Merlin
"Deepening our direct relationship with Merlin marks another important step in our strategy to bring high-quality music with style, character and vitality to our ever-growing user community", says NetEase Cloud Music VP Ding Bo, confirming the new deal. "The expansive and diverse music of Merlin member labels span the global divide and increase the rich music experience we offer, which brings us closer to this goal".
Meanwhile, the service's VP International Mathew Daniel adds: "NetEase Cloud Music users are one of the largest consumers of international music in China. Merlin's efforts to make a variety of independent music easily accessible has increased independent artists' exposure to create a more vibrant market. It has been a mutually beneficial partnership and we look forward to providing Merlin's member artists further opportunities to reach even more fans".
Speaking for the Merlin side of the partnership, the licensing agency's CEO Jeremy Sirota stated: "We're always excited to work with partners who are eager to educate our members on how to use their platform, how to engage and build fanbases, and ultimately drive better activations around artists. NetEase has been a fantastic partner on these opportunities. Independent music is a real focus across the world, including in China, and Merlin is THRILLED to renew its partnership with NetEase Cloud Music and bring the largest number of independent labels, distributors and other rightsholders and their artists' repertoire to the platform".
[PIAS] relaunches distribution business as [Integral]
Felicia Flack is also joining the firm to become Head Of Label And Artist Services, a globally-focused role that will see her working closely with [Integral] teams in different markets.
In the UK, [Integral] will continue to be led by Richard Sefton, who will report into [PIAS] UK MD Jason Rackham, who will - in turn - oversee both the rebranded distribution division and the [PIAS] labels business in the British market. The latter will also include the Cooperative Music network of label partnerships that [PIAS] operates.
Confirming all of this, [PIAS] Group CEO Kenny Gates says: "I am incredibly proud of the launch of [Integral], marking the next step in our evolution. Through four decades, [PIAS] has adapted to every market change but by always keeping its unrivalled love for music, its soul and its authentic commitment to the independent sector and its artists".
Meanwhile, Adrian Pope - who will continue in his role as Chief Digital Officer for the wider [PIAS] Group as well as being MD of [Integral] - adds: "The launch of [Integral] reaffirms our commitment to providing a world class distribution and services offering to our label, artist and retail partners. By establishing a distinct identity for our highly successful services division, we have brought clarity to our mission, and will continue to demonstrate the passion, creativity and value we strive to deliver to our repertoire partners and our customers".
Festivals criticised for male-dominated line-ups
The Isle Of Wight and TRNSMT festivals announced line-ups last week, both featuring Liam Gallagher and Snow Patrol among their headliners. According to The Guardian, The Isle Of Wight Festival's current line-up is 73% male, while TRNSMT's is 61% male. Meanwhile, Kendal Calling also announced an initial line-up with 79% male performers.
Kendal Calling is signed up to Keychange, the PRS Foundation's initiative calling on festivals to pledge to have line-ups featuring 50% women and gender minorities by 2022.
The Foundation's UK Project Manager Maxi Gedge tells The Guardian: "It's totally unacceptable that after a year of turmoil, women and minorities are being excluded from this return to live. We usually stay on the positive side instead of calling people out, but we're getting tired. It's not an accident any more, it's a statement of exclusion. The fact that this keeps happening shows that there are certain festivals that just aren't taking responsibility, or they're not viewing it as their responsibility when, in actuality, it's everyone's".
However, Kendal Calling programming director Emma Zillmann - also talking to The Guardian as part of its report on the latest male-skewed festival line-ups - denies that this is the case. She says that while the event's line-up has been growing its female representation, the number of performers coming up through the music industry is simply not growing fast enough.
"It's not like it's something I took my eye off because of the pandemic", she says. But "the amount of relevant, affordable, available artists that we haven't had before is so small. Once you get to the level of an artist that [sells more than] 400-500 tickets regionally, it becomes a lot harder [compared to emerging artists]. Is it the music industry being geared towards male acts? A lack of role models? Sexual harassment? A lack of childcare or not having somewhere to change?"
Also, she goes on: "Kendal Calling's audience are not really clamouring to see those artists, which makes things a little bit difficult for me. I don't dispute that everyone should be trying harder. It's not just festivals – we're just the endpoint. We're an easy target because we have a poster that clearly shows the hierarchy of the music industry".
It is true that, even with those festivals that have managed to get closer to a 50/50 split across their full programmes, things tend to skew more and more male the higher up the line-up you get. And headliners tend, more often than not, to be men. Event organisers have also said that things have been made more difficult this year because the pandemic has ruled out booking international acts, as it is unclear if they will be able to travel across borders in time for festivals this summer.
Still, despite all of those arguments, it also remains true that these events are not accurately representing the range of female and non-binary talent in the UK. And with research showing that many musicians are thinking of leaving the industry altogether as a result of financial losses during the pandemic, now it is more important than ever to support a diverse range of performers.
Also, while music fans are unquestionably keen to get back to gigs and festivals, you do have to wonder how eager they really all are to see Liam Gallagher yet again.
Belladrum festival says lack of government-backed insurance has forced it to cancel August 2021 edition
The festival usually takes place in early August, by which time it's possible that COVID restrictions will have lifted, allowing larger events to take place at something nearing normal capacity.
However, all the current targets in the UK for lifting such restrictions are still subject to change and, generally, the Scottish government has been more hesitant when predicting when things might start to return to normal.
Promoter Kilimanjaro said that its decision to cancel Belladrum 2021 at this stage was the result of continued uncertainties regarding the relaxation of COVID restrictions, and the refusal of the UK government to provide state-backed cancellation insurance for 2021 events.
The live sector has been calling for such insurance for some time now. With festival promoters facing so many upfront costs once they go into full-on production mode, many can't afford to proceed with 2021 editions when there is still a real risk of a COVID-caused cancellation, unless those events can be insured. But cancellation insurance is not currently available on the commercial market.
However, UK ministers have so refused to offer state-packed insurance policies - culture minister Caroline Dinenage saying last week that the government didn't want to "give people the confidence" to announce events only "to pull the rug out from underneath them again" if the situation regarding the spread of the virus changes.
This might mean many more events will have to cancel in the next month, even if it turns out the ongoing vaccination rollout in the UK means that social-distancing rules can actually end in July.
In a statement, the Belladrum team said: "No one wants to be back in the fields at Bella more than us but the status of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that delivering an event we all know and love just isn't going to be possible this year".
Noting government plans to run a number of pilot schemes in order to test the return of live events this summer, Belladrum organisers went on: "Despite politicians promising a great British summer of music and sport on the back of the vaccine rollout, it is not clear that pilot programmes are being run with enough urgency to enable festivals to go ahead this summer, putting festival organisers in an impossible position".
Meanwhile, on insurance issues, they added: "We have also been working closely with the rest of the UK event industry in lengthy conversations with the Westminster government to provide an insurance policy for our industry. Without this, the risk of pushing on with planning with no certainty on what the future holds are simply too huge, but the government has refused to engage and this is the consequence".
Those with tickets for Belladrum 2021 will be offered a 2022 ticket or a refund.
Har Mar Superstar issues statement on "harmful, abusive and selfish" behaviour towards several women
The musician said that his actions were the result of "a toxic mixture of alcohol, drugs and cavalier sexuality", adding in his online statement: "I am deeply sorry to anyone who feels I have hurt them. What matters here is not my feelings or perspective but to take these statements seriously and respectfully".
"I want to provide my deepest apology and public commitment to be accountable, to listen, and to do what I can to allow for healing and growth, not only for those women who have come forward, but for our community - and in particular our music community - as a whole. I want those who have been brave enough to speak up to know that I have heard you, I am ready to listen, and that I am committed to doing what I can to be accountable and, frankly, to just be a better human".
However, on the subject of the specific social media post that prompted these other women to come forward, he writes: "The specific allegations from the initial social media post ... involve a person from my past, a person I occasionally interacted with as part of my battle with addiction. I sincerely wish her the best in her life, but I categorically deny the version of events that has been presented within her post. It just didn't happen that way, and the recent account includes awful, untrue details that have been added".
The woman who made those accusations, who has not been named, has also spoken to the Star Tribune about the alleged 2016 incident. The newspaper reports that it confirmed her account with three other women who she spoke to shortly after said incident took place, and that it has seen a text message conversation between Tillmann and one of those other women who confronted him about it.
Earlier this month, as Har Mar Superstar, Tillman released his latest album 'Roseville', which details how he overcame addiction and began therapy. Following the recent accusations, the First Avenue music venue in Tillmann's hometown of Minneapolis - where the alleged incidents are said to have taken place - cancelled a show by his band Heart Bones. Minnesota radio station 89.3 The Current has also removed his music from its playlists.
German live music firm CTS Eventim has appointed Martin Fitzgerald as co-Managing Director of Eventim UK, alongside John Gibson, who was announced in the same role last month. "Martin's appointment reflects Eventim's continued investment in both our people and our commitment to the UK, a core market for CTS Eventim", says CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg. "I have no doubt that Martin and John will make a formidable team, creating new and exciting strategic partnerships".
EDUCATION & EVENTS
ATC Management has partnered with music college BIMM on a new programme of A&R internships. Eleven A&R roles have been created across the BIMM network of colleges in England, Ireland and Germany, allowing participating students to liaise directly with ATC Management's core A&R teams and managers to gain A&R and artist development experience and research skills.
Becky Hill has released new single 'Last Time'.
Princess Nokia has released new track 'It's Not My Fault'.
Vic Mensa has released new mixtape 'I Tape'. From it, this is 'Fr33dom', featuring Zacari.
Kele Okereke has released new single 'Smalltown Boy', taken from his upcoming new album 'The Waves Part 1'.
Julia Michaels has released new single 'All Your Exes'.
Wolfgang Van Halen's Mammoth WVH have released new single 'Don't Back Down'. The band's eponymous debut album is out on 11 Jun.
Anna Of The North has released new single 'Here's To Another'.
Big Zuu and D Double E have released new single 'Variation'.
Tomahawk have released new track 'Predators And Scavengers'.
Emika has released new single 'Transcended', featuring Horace Andy.
It's happening, guys. It's finally happening. The MiniDisc revival has begun! FEMM are releasing their new EP - '404 Not Found' - on the greatest physical digital format there ever was (albeit limited to 200 copies). Check it out here.
The Magician and Wuh Oh have released a new track together, 'Life'.
Penfriend has released new single 'Black Car'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Belarus disqualified from Eurovision
"On Wednesday 10 Mar we wrote to the broadcaster BTRC, which is responsible for Belarus' entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, to request that they take all steps necessary to amend their entry to this year's event to ensure it is compliant with the rules of the competition", says Eurovision organiser the European Broadcasting Union in a statement. "Following this BTRC submitted a new song, by the same artists, within an agreed timeframe".
"The EBU and the Reference Group, the contest's governing board, carefully scrutinised the new entry to assess its eligibility to compete", it went on. "It was concluded that the new submission was also in breach of the rules of the competition that ensure the contest is not instrumentalised or brought into disrepute. As BTRC have failed to submit an eligible entry within the extended deadline, regrettably, Belarus will not be participating in the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in May".
The original entry from Belarus was 'Ya Nauchu Tebya (I'll Teach You)' by the band Galasy ZMesta, which was deemed to contain lyrics supporting President Aleksandr Lukashenko's violent crackdown on anti-government protests in the country. The song was the subject of a petition calling for its disqualification, with those opposed to the entry arguing that it celebrated "political oppression and slavery".
After being told that song could not be performed at the contest, Belarussian broadcaster BTRC last week put forward 'Pesnyu Pro Zaytsa (Song About Hares)', also by Galasy ZMesta. However, the lyrics - which at face value are just telling various animals about the realities of the world - were actually deemed to be thinly-veiled references to the same protesters, now with some added homophobia thrown in too.
Head of BTRC Ivan Eismont criticised the EBU's decision, calling it "politically motivated". BTRC has also claimed that the EBU has failed to explain which lyrics in particular it believes to break Eurovision rules.
A former Soviet state, Belarus first competed in Eurovision in 2004, and made the final for the first time in 2007. This will be the first year since joining the competition that it has not competed.