|WEDNESDAY 21 APRIL 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: UK live music industry trade group LIVE has called on government to create a COVID contingency fund for large-scale events. This follows the announcement that another UK festival has been forced to cancel its summer 2021 edition because of insurance issues, even though COVID rules may be sufficiently relaxed by August that it could have gone ahead... [READ MORE]|
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UK live sector proposes a government-led contingency fund to avoid further festival cancellations
If the current plan for lifting COVID restrictions in England is achieved, music festivals could return in July and August this year. However, there is still a risk social distancing requirements will extend.
The problem for festival organisers is that cancellation insurance is not currently available on the commercial market, meaning if they continue working on 2021 editions that do have to be ultimately called off, they'll face crippling losses. As a result, those festival organisers are having to make difficult decisions about their 2021 activity right now, which means that even if it turns out that COVID rules do lift in June, there may not be many festivals this summer.
The live sector has been calling for months now for the government to introduce state-backed insurance for these events - something that has been introduced in some other countries - which would ensure that festivals can return as soon as COVID rules allow. However, to date, British ministers have rejected such proposals.
Hampshire-based Boomtown Fair was the latest festival to announce its cancellation because of insurance issues this week. The event's promoter stated: "After almost half a year of collective campaigning to the government, sadly COVID specific cancellation insurance for events still does not exist at this point in time".
"This means anyone putting on an event this year will be doing so without the safety net of insurance to cover them should COVID prevent them from going ahead in any capacity. For an independent event as large and complex as Boomtown, this is a huge gamble of up to an eight figure sum and the financial risk is simply too high".
Responding to the Boomtown announcement, Paul Reed - CEO of the Association Of Independent Festivals - said yesterday: "The cancellation of Boomtown Fair is devastating but not surprising, and further festival cancellations will follow".
"AIF has been warning and providing evidence to the government for over six months on the urgent need for intervention on insurance. It is an enormous risk for any independent festival to commit to upfront, non-refundable costs and very difficult to plan with confidence in the absence of insurance. The average cost of staging an independent festival is over £6 million".
"A recent AIF member survey revealed that 92.5% of respondents do not plan on staging their events without some form of government-backed insurance or indemnity scheme, with the measure being described as vital not optional", he went on. "Considering the lengthy planning cycle of festivals, it is difficult to think anything other than we are being timed out for the summer".
Noting remarks by UK ministers that they are still hopeful that their current COVID plan will allow a "summer of live events", he added: "Governments across the rest of Europe have already acted to support festivals, sharing the risk with organisers so that they may reopen safely. If this government doesn't intervene in some way on insurance and back its own roadmap, I'm afraid that, despite the rhetoric, it won't be a great British summer for events - it will be an extremely selective one despite the clear demand and huge amount of customer confidence that the roadmap has injected".
Speaking for the wider live sector, the LIVE organisation has written to the Prime Minister, Chancellor Of The Exchequer and Culture Secretary proposing that - if ministers are unwilling to offer full-on state-backed cancellation insurance - they at least use some of the monies already set aside for supporting the cultural industries to create some kind of contingency fund for live events.
"The Prime Minister has made various references to this being a great British summer of music and sport, and the sector is planning furiously to be able to start activity again", LIVE said in a statement yesterday. "But the absence of commercial insurance for cancellation cover makes the prospect of any activity, but particularly that at large scale and cost, fraught with risk".
In a bid to find a compromise that will ensure as few events as possible are forced to cancel, LIVE said it was proposing to ministers "that some of the unspent Culture Recovery Fund money be used to create a contingency fund. This fund would offer partial protection to organisers should events have to cancel because of a public health decision".
The group's CEO Greg Parmley added: "Without some form of contingency fund in place, the risk of undertaking activity this summer will simply be too great for the majority of events. We are already seeing an increasing rate of cancellations, including Glastonbury and now Boomtown, and that will become a flood in the coming weeks if a solution isn't found.
"The live music industry thinks that using unspent Culture Recovery money to create a contingency pot to provide some form of protection for events is the best way to get money through the entire live music ecosystem - from artists and venues to technical staff and freelance crew - by enabling people to get back to work", he added. "The Prime Minister has said he wants this to be a great British summer. So do we. But that won't happen if our world-leading live music events disappear for the second year in a row".
PM 'Boris' Johnson recently said that he is "passionate" and working "flat out" to find a solution to all the touring issues brought about by Brexit. It remains to be seen if he's able to take a break from that and help another section of the live music industry.
Maria Schneider says she can't meet YouTube's demands in Content ID access case without access to Content ID
YouTube says it needs more information about all the places where Schneider's songs are being used without licence on its platform. She counters that she wants to know that too, which is why she needs access to fucking Content ID.
Schneider's lawsuit - which originally also involved film director Gábor Csupó via his anti-piracy company Pirate Monitor - argues that, while YouTube's Content ID system is pretty good at helping rights-owners find and deal with any videos on the site that contain their content without permission, too few creators and rights-owners have access to it. And that the manual systems for requesting content be removed from YouTube - ie what everyone else has to use - are pretty mediocre.
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, Schneider argues, YouTube should be deprived that all important safe harbour protection.
The litigation is now in the discovery phase, with both sides making demands of the other.
In a recent filing with the court, YouTube says that while it has more or less agreed a case schedule with the Schneider side the two parties still "disagree about a critical issue of case management: whether plaintiff Maria Schneider must identify the copyrighted works and alleged infringements of those works at issue - and do so by clear deadlines that give defendants a fair opportunity to take discovery into each infringement claim".
It goes on: "Schneider's complaint alleges she owns three copyrighted works that were infringed on YouTube. It does not identify a single YouTube video that she claims is infringing. Instead, Schneider contends that her potential copyright claims against YouTube are boundless. She [also] insists that she is allowed to put at issue dozens of unpleaded works and allegedly infringing videos, and that she can do so whenever she wants. Plaintiff's approach is misguided".
"Defendants need to know, sufficiently before the end of discovery", it then states, "the full universe of copyrighted works and alleged infringements at issue. Without that information, defendants will be unable to take discovery to support their defences, most of which are necessarily work- or video-specific".
To that end YouTube asks the court to set deadlines by which "Schneider must: (1) amend her complaint to identify the copyrighted works in suit; and (2) identify all alleged instances of infringement of those works on YouTube that are at issue".
Responding, the Schneider side says that the discovery demands being made by YouTube are impractical, unfair and lack legal merit.
"Because YouTube depends on users to upload content, the number of infringements on YouTube constantly increases, with more than 500 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute", the musician says in a response filing.
"To even attempt to identify every infringement, plaintiff would have to constantly search for infringing videos using manual keyword searches that hit upon the specific words chosen by the uploading infringer. Such an endeavour would be futile and unduly burdensome".
Of course, the legal filing then notes, that whole process would be much, much easier if only YouTube would give Schneider the access to Content ID that her original lawsuit sought. And, also, given that YouTube does have access to its own rights management tools, it's reasonable to expect the Google site to do that work itself.
"Defendants' position that plaintiff must identify the URL of all infringing videos is thus the height of irony - the impossibility of manually locating all instances of infringement of her works without access to Content ID motivated this lawsuit", the legal filing adds. "It is defendants, not plaintiff, who can easily identify videos incorporating her works with Content ID, yet defendants have categorically refused to use or allow plaintiff to use Content ID to do so".
"Thus, while demanding that plaintiff manually scour YouTube to identify all infringing videos prior to the close of discovery, defendants have access to a tool that could automatically identify all of the videos on YouTube containing plaintiff's works but that they will not let her use or use themselves. Requiring plaintiff to undertake this enormous and futile endeavour, while defendants themselves have a tool that would make such identification possible, would be patently unfair".
And, to that end, Schneider argues, YouTube's most recent requests of the court should be denied.
Clara Amfo moves to Future Sounds show as Annie Mac departs Radio 1
Confirming her shift to 'Future Sounds' at Radio 1, which will take place in September, Amfo says: "I am beyond honoured and ready to start this exciting new chapter on Radio 1. I'm such a fan of this show, the artists that it has championed and to be receiving the baton from Annie, who I love and respect, makes it extra special for me".
Mac adds: "After seventeen wonderful years I have decided it's time to leave Radio 1. This second home has been the thread that has run through nearly my whole adult life; I have grown up, fallen in and out of love, moved homes, climbed up the career ladder, got married and become a mother twice over. I have done this alongside you, my listeners, who have done your own versions of the same".
"I will be forever grateful to you all for welcoming me into your days", she goes on. "I have never not walked out of the studio feeling lighter and happier than when I walked in and that is all down to you. Working at Radio 1 has been like being at the best party ever and it is a wonderful feeling to be leaving with a huge smile on my face. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!"
There'll be a bunch of other schedule rejigs at the BBC station at the same time. Not least Rickie Haywood Williams, Melvin Odoom and Charlie Hedges moving from their current evening slot into the morning show currently fronted by Amfo.
"To be given the opportunity to present 'The Live Lounge' is just an absolute dream", they say in unison. "[It's] a show we all adore and have so much love, passion and respect for. Celebrating great artists playing their new and live music on Radio 1 is a huge honour and we can't wait to put our RMC twist on it! Much love to Clara who has done an amazing job over the years and thank you for passing the baton - we promise not to break it!"
Adds Head Of Radio 1, Aled Haydn Jones: "Clara has long been one of the most influential voices in the music industry. She has an incredible affinity for discovering new music, which makes her perfect to be the face of it for the industry and for Radio 1. We know our listeners will love what she brings to the show. I'm delighted that we'll have Rickie, Melvin and Charlie taking on the late morning slot: their energy, knowledge and passion is going to make for an exciting new sound for 'The Live Lounge'".
Apple brings premium content option to Podcasts app
With Apple facing ever tougher competition from rival podcast platforms, not least Spotify, helping podcast makers to generate income from their podcasting has become a top priority.
For some podcasters, monetisation to date has been more advertising based - with ads or advertorial inserted into programmes. Although other podcast makers have opted to generate revenue through subscriptions or donations.
The latter approach usually means using a separate platform for the monetisation, such as Patreon or a bespoke paywalled website, so the podcast goes out through all the various apps, and then listeners are encouraged to support the programme elsewhere online.
However, podcast distributor Acast has been piloting some more direct payment tools of late and, at its recent Stream On event, Spotify indicated that it was planning to allow podcasters to take subscriptions or donations directly via its app too.
Apple's is the first podcast app to go big on this, though. Podcasters will be able to charge subscription fees to listeners through Apple Podcasts from next month.
Unlike with music, there will be no blanket subscriptions for podcast content. Users will directly subscribe to individual podcasts that choose to go the subscription route, with the podcaster setting the price. Apple will charge the 15-30% commission that is already standard on its App Store - so 30% for the first year of any one subscription, 15% for subsequent years.
Quite what extra benefits a paying subscriber receives is also up to the podcaster. It's expected that most podcasters will still make at least some content available for free with the subscription an upsell for extra content, though Apple won't dictate how any of that works.
Announcing the arrival of the premium subscriptions element to its Podcasts app, Apple's SVP Of Internet Software And Services, Eddy Cue, says: "Fifteen years ago, Apple took podcasts mainstream, offering creators a premiere, open platform to inform, entertain, and inspire hundreds of millions of listeners around the world".
"Today", he adds, "Apple Podcasts is the best place for listeners to discover and enjoy millions of great shows, and we are proud to lead the next chapter of podcasting with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions. We're excited to introduce this powerful new platform to creators around the world, and we can't wait to hear what they make with it".
The premium subscriptions functionality is not the only innovation within the Apple Podcasts app, with other changes including a refreshed design and efforts to make it easier to navigate and discover podcast content.
However, the premium subscriptions bit was the most significant part of yesterday's announcement. Companies already set to launch premium subscriptions around their podcasts when the new functionality goes live next month include Tenderfoot TV, the LA Times, NPR and Sony Music.
Confirming its involvement, Sony's President Of Global Digital Business And US Sales, Dennis Kooker, says: "Apple is putting creators first with their approach to the subscription model. Offering subscriptions provides new flexibility and options for consumers, and is an important addition to helping creators better monetise their works. All of this will lead to more investment and even better shows for podcast fans".
One in five disabled people in the music industry face discrimination at work, UK Music study finds
New data from the organisation's Workforce Diversity Survey, published for the first time today, specifically puts the spotlight on challenges faced by disabled music industry professionals.
The survey of over 3500 people working in the UK music industry found that 12% have a disability or long-term condition. While 76% of those with a disability or long-term condition said their employers had made reasonable adjustments for them, that still leaves 24% who have not seen their employers adapt.
As well as this, 18% of those who said they had a disability or long-term health condition said that they had faced discrimination because of their disability.
Among the responses, one person said that they had been forced to leave a job at a major venue after disclosing a disability and asking for reasonable adjustments to be made. At an exit interview, they say that they were told to invent another reason for their departure "as the real reason would have prompted official investigations and they didn't want to hold them".
Another says: "I had horrible experiences working for a music service who refused to make reasonable adjustments for my disability. When I needed someone else to move the piano, they openly mocked my need for help".
UK Music is now encouraging the industry to do more to support people with disabilities and long-term conditions.
"The music industry has made great progress in recent years when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and we are united in our determination to lead the way in this critical area", says UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. "However, our latest data reveals we still have work to do on ensuring the industry is a safe and supportive place for people with a disability or long-term health condition".
"There is no place for discrimination of any kind in our industry, and it is shocking to hear some of the experiences that disabled people have faced in the workplace", he continues. "Across the music industry, we must continue to do everything we can to remove the barriers that disabled people face and ensure there is true equality of opportunity, so that everyone can fulfil their potential".
In response to the survey results, Blue Raincoat Chrysalis Group Chair Robin Miller says: "There is a common misconception that hiring a person with a disability is expensive, will mean inconvenient workplace adjustments and added pressures on colleagues. In fact, according to Accenture's analysis of 140 companies, those that prioritise disability employment double their net income and benefit from 30% higher economic margins".
"My company, Blue Raincoat Chrysalis Group, employs over 42% people with protected characteristics under the category of disability", he continues. "We outperformed the market by over 25% last year compared to our competitors. The music industry would benefit massively from leading the way when it comes to employing people with disabilities, who make a fantastic contribution to the workplace in both economic and social terms".
UK Music is recommending the development of an industry toolkit that would help organisations do more to improve opportunities for disabled people.
Jim Steinman dies
Speaking to Associated Press, his brother Bill Steinman confirmed that the musician had died of kidney failure on Monday after a period of illness, saying: "I miss him a great deal already".
Steinman and Meat Loaf came to prominence together with the latter's debut album 'Bat Out Of Hell' in 1977 - both having met while working in musical theatre. One of the best-selling albums of all time, it was followed by a sequel, 'Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell', in 1993, featuring the single, 'I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)'.
As well as Meat Loaf, Steinman also worked with artists including Bonnie Tyler, Celine Dion, Sisters Of Mercy, Barry Manilow and Boyzone.
Tyler - for whom Steinman penned 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart', among other songs - said in a statement: "I am absolutely devastated to learn of the passing of my long term friend and musical mentor Jim Steinman. Jim wrote and produced some of the most iconic rock songs of all time and I was massively privileged to have been given some of them by him".
As well as a successful career in pop and rock music, Steinman also continued to work in musical theatre over the years, including a collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber on 'Whistle Down The Wind'. 'Bat Out Of Hell' was also turned into a stage musical, which has been performed in various countries around the world.
Primary Wave has acquired the copyrights and royalty rights of producer Patrick Leonard. The deal covers his share of songs and recordings performed by artists such as Madonna, Elton John, Bon Jovi and more. "I am extremely excited to welcome Patrick Leonard to Primary Wave as he fits in perfectly with our family of artists", says CMO Adam Lowenberg. "I'm THRILLED to begin developing innovative initiatives to help continue making the public aware of Patrick's musical genius".
Italy-based record label Artist First has made a "significant" investment into booking agency Colorsound. Says Artist First founder Claudio Ferrante: "Colorsound are one of the most revered live music booking agencies in Italy and when the chance to make a significant investment into their business and bring them closer to the A1 family [came about] we jumped at [it]. It is important to us that we offer a full service to our clients and this is another step towards being able to add even more value to our existing offering".
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
I'm sure we're all aware of the story of the guy who used $30 worth of bitcoin in 2010 to buy two pizzas, only to realise in 2020 that those same bitcoins would now be worth $200 million. Well, anyway, dance music-centric Beatport is now the first digital music retailer to accept bitcoin. It's going to be doing one of those stupid NFT things too, because you can never have too much blockchain. "For Beatport, this is just the beginning of our exploration into the metaverse and we are committed to the long-term opportunities this revolutionary technology portends", says CEO Robb McDaniel.
Sony Music Publishing in the US has promoted Ian Holder to SVP Creative. "Ian has been critical to the success of Sony Music Publishing's songwriters, and I am incredibly proud of Ian's growth, passion and instincts as a creative executive", says CEO Jon Platt. "I'm equally proud of his emergence as a leader - I look forward to working alongside Ian in this next chapter as he continues creating unique opportunities for our songwriters".
Lyric aggregator LyricFind has hired artist, producer, record executive, entertainment lawyer, music educator, artist manager and 'Canadian Idol' judge Zack Wener as its new head of Business Development. "Zack will be exploring and managing partnerships for the business on all fronts including working with labels and digital aggregators, exploring partnerships for LyricMerch, and managing acquisitions", says CEO Darryl Ballantyne. "Zack's extensive experience with labels and artists will be a valuable resource for our team".
Promoter Joff Hall has joined Kilimanjaro Live, moving over from TEG MJR. "It's been a very difficult time for the live music industry but we at Kili are strongly focused on a positive future", says CEO Stuart Galbraith. "We jumped at the chance to bring Joff onto our team, as the breadth of his experience and his good standing reputationally will further bolster our incredible promoting team".
ATC Live has hired agent David 'Skully' Sullivan-Kaplan. He joins from UTA, bringing with him a roster including Larkin Poe, Steel Pulse, Polica, Gentleman's Dub Club, Holding Absence, Hollie Cook and Lottery Winners. "Agents who excel at the job yet are universally liked and respected are a rare breed", says CEO Alex Bruford. "Skully Sullivan-Kaplan is one of the few, and his extensive experience both as an agent and as a touring musician have given him an enviable skill set".
Chvrches are back with new single 'He Said She Said'. Vocalist Lauren Mayberry says of the track: "'He Said She Said' is my way of reckoning with things I've accepted that I know I shouldn't have. Things I pretended weren't damaging to me. All the verse lines are tongue-in-cheek or paraphrased versions of things that have actually been said to me by men in my life. Being a woman is fucking exhausting and it felt better to scream it into a pop song than scream it into the void. After the past year, I think we can all relate to feeling like we're losing our minds".
Flying Lotus has released two new tracks, 'Black Gold' featuring Thundercat and 'Between Memories' featuring Niki Randa. Both are taken from anime series 'Yasuke', which hits Netflix on 29 Apr.
Villagers will release new album 'Fever Dreams' on 20 Aug. Here's new single 'The First Day'. Says band leader Conor O'Brien of the song: "I had an urge to write something that was as generous to the listener as it was to myself. Sometimes the most delirious states can produce the most ecstatic, euphoric and escapist dreams".
Angel Olsen has released new song 'Alive And Dying (Waving, Smiling)', taken from her 'Song Of The Lark And Other Far Memories' box set that will be out on 7 May. "This song is all about chapters closing, and learning to let go of things I can't understand", she says. "It's very me - I will always nosedive into love, and suffering can definitely come with that. When I hear this version the strings really bring the song to its necessary bittersweet boiling point".
Dylan Brady's Cake Shop have released new single 'Satin Sheets'. New album 'Cake Shop 2' is out on 14 May.
Jai Paul has marked the tenth anniversary of his debut single 'BTSTU' by launching a new website that recreates his MySpace page. One difference is that it includes a new (or at least previously unreleased) song, 'Super Salamander'.
Kevin Martin - aka The Bug - has announced that he will release a new album, 'Return To Solaris', on 25 Jun. The LP is a new score for 1972 film 'Solaris'. From it, this is 'In Love With A Ghost'.
Kojaque has announced that he will release his debut album, 'Town's Dead', on 25 Jun. Here's the title track.
Eliza Shaddad has released new single 'Heaven' and announced that she will release new album 'The Woman You Want' on 16 Jul.
Raven Bush will release his debut album 'Fall Into Noise' on 13 Aug. Here's new single, 'Start Of Something New'. Of the track, he says: "'Start Of Something New' was the first track that was made and completed on 'Fall Into Noise'. It all emerged from some chords I recorded as a voice note whilst playing the piano at my dad's house".
Belvedere have released new single 'Camera Obscura'. Their new album 'Hindsight Is The Sixth Sense' is out on 14 May.
Piglet has released new single 'Mill'. "The song 'Mill' is about how my understanding of my own transness/queerness has evolved and how much better I've felt since I realised that my gender and sexuality don't have to be easily definable and unchanging", he says.
GIGS & TOURS
Following his somewhat unsuccessful meet-and-greet tour of the UK on Sunday, AJ Tracey has announced a proper tour of arenas in November. He'll finish at the O2 Arena in London on 25 Nov.
Squid have announced a socially distanced tour in May and June that will see them previewing work-in-progress new material. Tour dates and tickets here.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Weezer launch their own robot vacuum cleaner
The Wroomba (the 'w' is silent, the the way) is made by iRobot - the maker of normal, boring, non-music-related Roomba robot vacuum cleaners - and is designed to look like a CD. Although, I guess, given its size, it probably looks more like a laserdisc. What's a laserdisc? Ask your gran.
Apparently dreamed up as a way to promote the band's latest album 'OK Human', the band announced in a tweet: "Are you longing for a new friend? Perhaps a robot one that cleans up after you? We got you covered. Introducing the Wroomba (the w is silent)".
An attached video claims that "studies show that nine out of ten humans have dreamed of Weezer cleaning their house".
How much does this thing cost though? Don't tell me your fingers aren't twitching to buy one as soon as I give you the necessary information. Why else would you have read this far? Well bad luck! Your credit card will have to stay in your pocket today. Money cannot buy these things.
If you want one, there are five up for grabs as competition prizes. So, not entirely bad luck. But you'll need very very very good luck if you're going to get one. Also, you'll need to be resident in the US. Other than that, it's basically yours. Enter here.