MONDAY 24 MAY 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Apple boss Tim Cook took to the witness stand on Friday as part of the ongoing legal battle between the tech giant and 'Fortnite' maker Epic Games over its App Store rules. He insisted that Apple only allowed in-app purchases via its own payments platform because of privacy and security concerns, while arguing that that policy didn't create any competition law issues, because unhappy users could always shift to an Android phone... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Apple boss takes to the stand in Epic App Store legal battle
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LEGAL Dutch piracy group gets piracy site Discoverthisplace taken offline
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DEALS Jesy Nelson signs to Polydor
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS AIM to offer free diversity training to members
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LIVE BUSINESS Driift issues apology after technical problems hit first airing of Live At Worthy Farm livestream
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MEDIA Michael Jackson family call for investigation into Martin Bashir programme
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Billie Eilish announces 2022 UK tour dates
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AND FINALLY... Italy wins Eurovision, UK comes last
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Artist And Songwriter Rights In Ten Steps
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A ten step guide to the challenges facing the streaming business in 2020
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A ten step guide to the collective licensing system
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Apple boss takes to the stand in Epic App Store legal battle
Apple boss Tim Cook took to the witness stand on Friday as part of the ongoing legal battle between the tech giant and 'Fortnite' maker Epic Games over its App Store rules. He insisted that Apple only allowed in-app purchases via its own payments platform because of privacy and security concerns, while arguing that that policy didn't create any competition law issues, because unhappy users could always shift to an Android phone.

Epic Games, of course, just like Spotify, claims that Apple is using those privacy and security concerns as an excuse to exploit its control over iPhone users to the detriment of app-makers, who are forced to pay the tech giant a 15-30% commission on all in-app purchases. And that constitutes anti-competitive conduct.

Epic has gone legal with those claims in multiple countries, though most attention has fallen on the current legal battle being heard in the Californian courts. Spotify, meanwhile, made a formal complaint to the EU competition regulator. And in the UK, a class action has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal hitting out at Apple's App Store rules on behalf of iPhone users.

According to Law360, Cook used his testimony last week to present Apple as a relatively small player in the global smart phone market, while playing down reports of the huge profits his company makes from its App Store commissions.

The former is part of efforts to show that consumers have plenty of other devices to choose from via which they can access apps, even more so with games, given players can also opt for consoles over mobile devices. So, while Apple may exert control over iPhone users, that control does not constitute market dominance.

The smartphone market is fiercely competitive, Cook argued, and internationally the iPhone has only a 15% market share. Which may well be true, though within the US Apple is a much bigger player when it comes to smartphone sales.

The profits made by the App Store are relevant because the Epic side have argued that the margins on that side of the Apple business are incredibly high because of its anti-competitive conduct. But one internal Apple document which talked about the high profit margins on the App Store was not "fully loaded", Cook argued, because it didn't account for all the costs the company incurs from running the store.

Meanwhile, back on the privacy and security point, the Apple boss insisted that - if Epic Games was to prevail in this case and his company was forced to allow app-makers to directly take payments via iOS apps - "we could no longer make the promise of privacy, safety, and security”. In fact, he added, the App Store would become a "toxic mess".

Although many legal experts reckoned that Epic's case against Apple was somewhat optimistic before the court case began, it might be that the judge overseeing the dispute does ultimately require one change to the tech giant's App Store rules via something of a compromise ruling.

Currently, not only are app makers obliged to use Apple's payment platform, but they can't even sign-post users to alternative payment options, for example via a web page. Judge Gonzalez Rogers specifically asked Cook on Friday, "what's the problem" with giving consumers other purchasing options?

Closing arguments are due to be delivered later today. In terms of when we can expect a judgement, Rogers said last week that she hoped to publish her ruling before 13 Aug.

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Dutch piracy group gets piracy site Discoverthisplace taken offline
A piracy site called Discoverthisplace has been taken offline following legal action by Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN.

The site seemingly provided users with links to tens of thousands of copyright infringing albums, movies, TV shows, e-books and magazines that were stored on cyber-lockers. The links were only available to members of the site, some of whom paid five euros a month for priority access to the latest files.

BREIN identified three people involved in running the site and posting the links, although it actually sought an ex parte injunction against the operation, meaning the court would issue an order without the three specific defendants being present to defend themselves.

The argument was that the site was clearly liable for copyright infringement - the link posting constituting a communication to the public of the infringing materials - and given the scale of the piracy operation a speedy injunction was required. The court concurred.

According to Torrentfreak, the court's injunction ordered the three named individuals to cease-and-desist their piracy operation, with the threat of a daily penalty of 2400 euros if they failed to do so.

BRIEN itself subsequently reported that, after the court order was serviced, "the site was immediately taken offline. Those involved have pledged to cease the infringement and have reached a settlement of 20,000 euros".

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Jesy Nelson signs to Polydor
Former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson has signed a solo record deal with Universal Music's Polydor label.

"I'm so excited to finally announce that I will be signing to Polydor Records", says Nelson. "I cannot wait for you to hear what I've been working on and to start this new chapter with the Universal Music team".

Co-President of Polydor, Ben Mortimer, adds: "As soon as I met Jesy I knew Polydor had to become her label partner. She's developed the sound for her next music beautifully. It's true to her. And she has an authentic vision about what this next stage of her already incredible career should be. There's a huge appetite for what music she comes with now, and a huge platform to launch it from. I'm proud she's chosen Polydor to be her new home".

Nelson announced that she was leaving Little Mix in December last year, following a break from the group. She then signed a management deal with YMU in March. Her debut solo album is expected later this year.

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AIM to offer free diversity training to members
The UK's trade body for the indie sector, the Association Of Independent Music, has launched a new equality, diversity and inclusion training programme, which it is calling EDI Level-Up.

Lead by diversity consultants Arit Eminue and Vick Bain, there will be five free training sessions for AIM members, plus two more for people in leadership roles. The first five sessions will cover identifying and discussing biases, legislation around discrimination, and implementing 'conscious inclusion' at companies.

"The independent community is founded on the principle that all voices should be heard and respected", says AIM CEO Paul Pacifico. "AIM has campaigned for many years on multiple aspects of social justice and inclusion. These sessions come from our acknowledgement that we cannot ever rest on our laurels and that we need to do more to ensure an ever more equitable, diverse and inclusive independent music community".

The first session will take place next month and the course will run through to March next year.

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Driift issues apology after technical problems hit first airing of Live At Worthy Farm livestream
Livestreaming company Driift yesterday issued an apology over the technical problems that hindered the first airing of its big 'Live At Worthy Farm' livestream on Saturday night.

The ticketed livestreamed event was staged in support of the Glastonbury Festival and its charity partners, and featured recordings of a plethora of artists performing at different locations around the festival's famous site.

The first airing went live at 7pm on Saturday, but quickly Glastonbury and Driift's Twitter feeds became filled with ticket-buyers who were unable to log in. The stream itself was working - and some ticket-buyers had successfully accessed it - but others were getting the error message 'invalid code' whenever they tried to tune in to the stream.

With frustrated ticket-buyers getting ever more critical on social media, shortly before 9pm a link was circulated that basically circumvented the login process, so that anyone could see the first stream. The set-up allowed people to rewind back one hour to see some of what they had missed.

However, Drift quickly announced that ticket-buyers would also be able to log in to the subsequent planned airings of the show to see performances from the first hour. Those other broadcasts - some scheduled to work for ticket-buyers in other time-zones - went ahead without the login hitch.

In a statement yesterday, Driift said: "We are standing here today with the heaviest of hearts. Although many thousands of you were able to stream the event as planned last night, we are mortified that technical issues meant that many others were effectively locked out for up to two hours and unable to use your access codes. This was unacceptable".

"Driift is not a tech business or a media platform, and we rely on a third party company for certain aspects of broadcasting the stream", it added. "This provider has now identified the cause of last night's problems, and, although we are awaiting a full technical report, there were no subsequent issues for ticket buyers accessing later streams for North America or Australia".

"Driift was established as a producer and promoter of livestream events at the height of last year's lockdown, with the goal of getting artists, crews and venues back to work and do inspiring things with an exciting new format", it went on. "For last night's failings, we would like to apologise to Glastonbury Festival, to all the amazing artists who gave their time to perform, and to all the backstage crew and partners who worked so hard with us over many months to make this historic show a reality".

"Most importantly, we apologise unreservedly to all of you who had your plans upset", it concluded. "We would also like to make clear that Driift is making no financial gain from this livestream event, and we hoped it would generate much needed revenue for the festival. In that spirit, we sincerely hope that those who encountered problems will take the opportunity to watch and enjoy the event today, and that many more will buy tickets to support the festival and its three associated charities".

In related news, the BBC has this morning announced that it will broadcast a shorter cut of the five hour livestream, featuring highlights from the various performances, at some point in the coming weeks. It will also broadcast a behind the scenes documentary about the show, presented by Jo Whiley.

"Since the BBC first broadcast footage from Worthy Farm in 1997, Glastonbury and the BBC have enjoyed a brilliant relationship, so I'm THRILLED that they'll be showing highlights of our 'Live At Worthy Farm' special", says Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis in a statement.

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Michael Jackson family call for investigation into Martin Bashir programme
Members of the Jackson family have called for an investigation into journalist Martin Bashir's treatment of Michael Jackson during the making of a headline grabbing ITV programme back in 2003. This follows the recent investigation into and subsequent Dyson Report on Bashir's 1995 interview with Princess Diana on the BBC's 'Panorama' programme, which found that he had used deceitful methods in order to secure that particular royal exclusive.

Jackson's nephew Taj has said that Bashir's "manipulated footage and unethical journalism is one of the main reasons my uncle Michael is not here today ... my family deserves an investigation and apology too".

Meanwhile Taj Jackson's father and brother of Michael, Tito, told the Mirror: "Bashir created a fake narrative about my brother, which becomes crystal clear when you view the outtakes Bashir kept secret. He used Michael's trust and friendship with Diana to get the interview, manipulated Michael throughout the interview, then deceptively edited the footage".

Behind the scenes footage from the Jackson programme at the time showed that Bashir had praised the musician about certain things during filming that he then overtly criticised in the final edit of the show.

The programme put the spotlight back on Jackson's relationships with children, leading to an investigation by the Santa Barbara district attorney. That resulted in allegations that the musician had molested a child who had been seen in the Bashir programme, which in turn led to criminal charges and the big 2005 child abuse trial.

Although Jackson was acquitted of all charges at the end of that trial, Taj Jackson argues that the court case "broke" his uncle. Meanwhile Bashir pursued a successful TV career in the US, in part based on the hype surrounding his Jackson documentary. "Shame on those who provided cover for Bashir [and] shame on those who rewarded him", Taj added.

Michael Jackson himself made an official complaint to TV watchdog ITC after the programme aired, saying: "Martin Bashir persuaded me to trust him, that his would be an honest and fair portrayal of my life, and told me he was 'the man that turned Diana's life around'".

"Today I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before", he added, "that someone, who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair programme. Everyone who knows me will know the truth, which is that my children come first in my life and that I would never harm any child".

Bashir was introduced to Jackson by his friend Uri Geller, who now says that he was convinced to set up an initial meeting after the journalist showed him a handwritten letter from Princess Diana. This letter was presented as evidence in Lord Dyson's investigation, and in it she wrote that she had "no regrets" about speaking to Bashir.

"What convinced me to introduce him to Michael was a letter he pulled out of his pocket", Geller told the Mirror. "It was folded two or three times and there was a logo on it. He said it was from Princess Diana, writing to him about how happy she was with the interview. I had felt unease, but it was the Diana letter that won my feelings over. He was a super-smooth operator. I regret that terrible introduction. It was the beginning of, I believe, Michael's spiral downwards".

ITV has not yet commented on calls for an investigation into the Michael Jackson interview. The late pop star's family, meanwhile, have reportedly threatened legal action.

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Setlist: High quality audio goes mainstream
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including Apple and Amazon's announcements that users of their streaming services will now be able to enjoy some super enhanced audio action via their respective music platforms at no extra cost, plus the UK's competition regulator the Competition & Markets Authority's announcement that it has launched an investigation into the recent acquisition by Sony Music of Kobalt's recordings division.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here, and sign up to receive new episodes for free automatically each week through any of these services...

Acast | Amazon Music | Apple Podcasts | audioBoom | CastBox | Deezer | Google Podcasts | iHeart | Mixcloud | RSS | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn
 

Billie Eilish announces 2022 UK tour dates
Billie Eilish has announced UK and Ireland tour dates for June 2022, which seems cautious enough to be a safe bet. The dates will include four nights at the O2 Arena in London.

As with previous shows, Eilish will work with climate action charity Reverb to both reduce the environmental impact of the tour and engage fans with information on getting involved with climate activism.

With this and plans to support other "projects that directly and measurably eliminate greenhouse gases", it is promised that the tour will be climate positive overall.

Scheduling dates for summer 2022 means that UK fans will have to wait almost a year to see songs from Eilish's second album, 'Happier Than Ever', performed live. That album is out on 30 Jul this year.

Here are the dates:

3 Jun: Belfast, SSE Arena
4 Jun: Dublin, 3Arena
5 Jun: Dublin, 3Arena
7 Jun: Manchester, AO Arena
8 Jun: Manchester, AO Arena
10 Jun: London, O2 Arena
11 Jun: London, O2 Arena
12 Jun: London, O2 Arena
14 Jun: Glasgow, Hydro
15: Jun: Birmingham, Utilita Arena
16 Jun: London, O2 Arena

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Italy wins Eurovision, UK comes last
Italian rock band Måneskin won the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam on Saturday with their song, 'Zitti E Buoni'. The bookies' favourites going into the event, they won by a landslide on the public vote. The UK's James Newman with 'Embers', meanwhile, failed to score any points at all in either stage of the voting process - the jury vote and the public vote - coming dead last.

Måneskin came fourth in the jury vote but were rocketed to victory following the tense addition of the public votes, which saw a handful of acts score very highly. In the end, Italy scored a total of 534 points - 25 more than second place France, and nearly 100 more than jury-voted winner Switzerland, who finished third.

"It means everything", said bassist Victoria De Angelis, when asked, at a press conference, what winning on the public vote meant to the band.

As for what lead to some acts being so much more popular than others this year, she added: "It's a contest. Someone has to come last, but even so, it should be more about participating and sharing music with the world. We didn't come here to win – we came to share our music. Eurovision is a huge and important platform".

This is not the band's first competition, having come second in the Italian version of 'X Factor' in 2017 and winning another Italian TV talent show, 'Sanremo Music Festival', earlier this year, which resulted in their selection to represent Italy at Eurovision.

There would be "no more musical competitions for a while" though, commented vocalist Damiano David. "It's too much anxiety".

If it's anxiety-inducing waiting to see if you'll get pushed up to the top of the leaderboard as voting progresses, imagine what it's like waiting to see if you'll even make it off the bottom.

The UK's James Newman had to sit through all the jury votes, receiving no points at all from any of them. When the public vote also delivered no points it was a shock, although one that Newman appeared to take fairly well - at least knowing that he had support in the room from the other acts and the audience.

This year the UK team had hoped to finally getting somewhere in the competition after years of languishing towards the bottom of the scoreboard. The BBC had brought in BMG to help with the song selection - first picking Newman to represent the UK at 2020's cancelled contest - which it was hoped would bring a higher calibre of both song and artist. Ultimately though, there were a number of issues that led to our downfall.

Of course, some will blame Brexit - as did 2019 entrant Michael Rice after he game last - or maybe even the battle with the EU over vaccines. Although that assumes that the average European gives much thought to British politics. Much as we like to think otherwise, what we're doing over here doesn't actually occupy every waking thought of most people around the world. Also, plenty of countries with more prominently shady politics entered, and none of them scored zero.

Also, anyone claiming that the Europeans all hate us and our music ignores the fact that British music is a major UK export to Europe. They love it. They can't get enough of it. So maybe we have to accept that what we send to Eurovision just isn't good enough.

Actually, this year we did make a bit more of an effort. However, in a year where everyone else upped their game too, we were still left trailing.

Sure, BMG bagged a songwriter with hits and awards to his name, but no one really checked if he was a great performer too. Turns out, not really. He was a uniquely uninspiring stage presence flanked by two massive trumpets, which both looked stupid and highlighted the absolute worst part of the song - the terrible synth trumpets.

Those trumpets made the song sound as if Newman had misunderstood the brief and thought he was supposed to be writing a new theme tune for 'The One Show'. Perhaps more likely, though, he ditched writing the sort of song that has brought him success in the past, and instead wrote what he thought Eurovision would want.

But if Saturday's show proves anything, it's that Eurovision doesn't know what it wants. Everyone has an idea in their head of what Eurovision songs sound like, but the variety of music actually on offer on Saturday was so broad and varied that you could never pigeonhole the show as one thing or another - in the top ten alone there were rock, ballads, pop, nu metal and avant garde techno-folk.

The lyrics of the song possibly also represented something of a problem. An interview with Newman during the second semi-finals concentrated mainly on what the word "embers" even means, suggesting that the message of resilience and unity he was trying to get across was being lost.

It's probably also worth noting that - for all the talk of his chart hits and his BRIT Award - Newman's previous Eurovision experience - aside from his unused 2020 song - was writing Ireland's 2017 entry, which failed to qualify.

And there's another problem. The UK can't fail to qualify. As one of the so called 'Big Five' countries that contribute the most money to Eurovision organiser the European Broadcasting Union, the UK automatically goes through to the final without having to compete in the semi-finals. This year, the standard was so high that a lot of good songs got knocked out in the semis, which would have been more deserving of a place at the main show.

It's not a given that the big five don't do well in the final - after all Italy is among that group, as is France, which came third. However, it's possibly telling that the bottom three was made up of the other three fifths: Germany came just above the UK with three points, followed by Spain with six.

Both Germany and Spain, along with the UK and the Netherlands, also failed to score any points in the public vote. All of whom also put forward songs that were not up to the standard of this year's competition. Especially Germany. I mean, what even was that?

When it came to the voting though, it was an interesting year. While the announcement of each country's votes used to be a lengthy, tedious, life-sucking process, it was updated in 2016 in an effort to make it more exciting. And while there have been critics of the changes, it certainly delivered on its promise this year.

With the jury votes now delivered in a more streamlined fashion, followed by the addition of the public votes to each country in reverse order on the leaderboard - this year that delivered some shocks in the final stages. Not least because many countries scored far lower in the public vote than expected.

One country to experience that sting was San Marino. There had been accusations of cheating on the part of that small nation, because US rapper Flo Rida had been flown in to deliver a guest verse on the country's song 'Adrenalina' by Senhit.

However, it seems unlikely that there will be a rush to add celebrity guests to any performances next year. The song scored 37 points in the jury vote and then, against expectations, just thirteen in the public vote. Poor Flo Rida. Still, he looked like he'd had a nice time.

Elsewhere, early favourite Malta came in seventh with 'Je Me Casse' by Destiny, after a disappointing public score, and last year's presumed winners - Iceland's Da∂i og Gagnamagni∂ – came in fourth. Although that wasn't bad, considering that a member of Gagnamagni∂ being diagnosed with COVID-19 had meant that the band were unable to take part in the the live show, with a rehearsal performance being shown instead.

That only one competing act was forced to sit out the event even as the COVID pandemic extends (previous winner Duncan Laurence was also unable to perform live for coronavirus reasons) was impressive though.

In fact, that it happened at all, let alone went so well, was testament to the effort that went into the show. Unlike the UK, the Netherlands has not begun lifting lockdown regulations, so to have the majority of the performers and their delegations in the room, along with an audience of 3500 (as part of a government test) was pretty incredible.

When the show is staged in Italy next year, we can hope that pandemic restrictions will no longer be a consideration, and that what remains is the high standard of this year's competition.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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