|WEDNESDAY 16 JUNE 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Music Venue Trust yesterday published a six point plan setting out how the government can effectively mitigate the impact of COVID restrictions being extended in England... [READ MORE]|
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Music Venue Trust publishes six point plan to ensure venues can survive extension of COVID rules
It mainly involves continuing existing government support programmes to cover the extended period in which COVID restrictions apply, although also calls for the rapid deployment of already committed funds to support the cultural sector and proposes a system that is already employed in Australia to help venues tackling significant rent debts.
UK prime minister 'Boris' Johnson confirmed on Monday that plans to lift remaining COVID restrictions on 21 Jun will not now go ahead because of concerns about the new delta variant of the coronavirus. That means that full capacity live shows that had been due to return on 21 Jun will not now be possible until mid-July, with 19 Jul the new target date for the remaining COVID rules to end.
The move has been criticised by many in the live sector who argue that the government's own Events Research Programme has demonstrated that well managed full capacity events don't actually pose any higher risk of COVID infections among audience members than if people go to shopping centres or restaurants. Others have argued that the current rules are inconsistent and unfairly target the entertainment industry.
However, given that another month's worth of full capacity events in England do now have be cancelled or postponed, the live sector's priority in the short term is securing extra government support for those affected by this latest extension of COVID regulations.
That includes calling for a postponement of the various changes that are due to occur on 1 Jul in relation to the government's general COVID support schemes, and yet another call for government-backed cancellation insurance for festivals and large-scale events.
The Music Venue Trust's six point plan sets out what is required to ensure grassroots venues can survive the extra month of COVID restrictions. That six point plan is as follows...
1. Extend the moratorium on commercial eviction, due to end on 30 Jun, until 30 Sep. No grassroots music venue should face eviction because the government will not allow it to open and trade to be able to pay its rent.
2. Cancel the introduction of business rates from 1 Jul and extend 100% rate relief until 31 Mar 2022. It is frankly bizarre for the government to impose a tax on premises it is simultaneously legislating cannot trade in order to pay that tax.
3 Extend bounce back loans and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme interest and payment free period until 30 Sep. Again, it is an unsustainable position for government to permit banks and other lenders it is has authorised and funded to loan money to grassroots music venues to seek payment of those loans from businesses the government says cannot operate.
4. Explore the Australian model of rent debt settlement, which has brokered a government supported division of rent debt. The best landlords in the UK have already reached arrangements with their tenants to share the impact of COVID. But too many have not, and the burden of rent debt cannot and should not be absorbed solely by tenants. Not pursuing an equal division of the burden of unpaid rent across the sector distorts the marketplace, resulting in venues on the same street being heavily in debt or debt free based on decisions by their landlord.
5. Immediately release the funds held for Culture Recovery Fund 3, £300 million, through a rapid distribution process that addresses the immediate threat of the permanent closure of grassroots music venues. In the early stages of this crisis the government responded quickly through the Emergency Grassroots Music Venue Fund to ensure closures were avoided. It will not work to release this £300 million in October/November/December - the support is needed now. The government should replicate the Apr 2020 distribution of EGMVF to address the £36 million in losses the grassroots sector will face in the next four weeks.
6. Work with local authorities to release undistributed Restart Grant money, currently £1.6 billion, to cultural premises, including grassroots music venues, without delay to address the challenges of the delay to reopening. Guidance can be issued quickly clearly defining businesses left out of step three as being those which government wishes to see receive local authority support.
Commenting on its plan, MVT said: "Specifically notable is that the first three measures required are caused by government decision; it is the government that is ending the moratorium on evictions, it is the government that wants businesses to start paying rates; it is the government that created the terms and conditions of the loans programme".
"It is not just that the government needs to take positive action to prevent closures through distributing the £300 million fund that it already has, ensuring that the impact of COVID debt is distributed equally between key stakeholders, and ensuring grassroots music venues are prioritised for Restart Grants", it went on. "It is also the case that the government needs to take its foot off the accelerator of tax, legislation and debt that it imagined would be able to be addressed from 21 Jun and apply a brake to its own demands on the sector it is restricting".
Jay-Z accuses photographer of infringing his image rights
"Mannion has developed a highly-profitable business by selling copies of photographs of Jay-Z", claims the lawsuit. "Mannion has done so on the arrogant assumption that because he took those photographs, he can do with them as he pleases. But Jay-Z never gave Mannion the right to use his likeness for these or any other purposes. And without that permission, Mannion has no legal right to do so".
The lawsuit also claims that Mannion has licensed the images to third parties, also without express permission. It says that "Jay-Z has asked Mannion to stop, but he refuses to do so", and instead is demanding "tens of millions of dollars to put an end to Mannion's use of Jay-Z's likeness".
Mannion sells prints of various images featuring the rapper via his website (not to mention pictures of other rappers he has worked with).
In most countries, the default owner of the copyright in a photograph is the photographer, unless otherwise agreed. Whether or not the subject of a photo has to give consent for an image to be published or commercialised varies from country to country, with laws covering privacy, and publicity or image rights, often coming into play too, as in this case here, where Jay-Z is enforcing the latter.
In a statement to TMZ, a rep for Mannion says: "Mr Mannion has created iconic images of Mr Carter over the years, and is proud that these images have helped to define the artist that Jay-Z is today. Mr Mannion has the utmost respect for Mr Carter and his body of work, and expects that Mr Carter would similarly respect the rights of artists and creators who have helped him achieve the heights to which he has ascended".
Jay-Z is seeking damages and an injunction to stop Mannion from continuing to use the images.
Judge dismisses Ice Cube's lawsuit against Robinhood
Ice Cube sued the financial services firm over an article it posted to its Robinhood Snacks news website which featured a picture of the rapper and the caption "Correct yourself before you wreck yourself", a play on the lyric, "You better check yo self before you wreck yo self" from his 1993 track 'Check Yo Self'.
He argued that the use of his photo on that article implied he was endorsing the company. And, he added in no uncertain terms in his lawsuit, he didn't want anyone thinking he had any connections to "an unscrupulous and predatory conglomerate that professes to be a financial services company for the everyday person [but which is] in truth … a wolf in sheep's clothing".
The rapper specifically accused the Robinhood company of infringing his trademark and publicity rights. For its part, Robinhood denied all those allegations and sought to have the case dismissed.
After hearing arguments from both sides last week, judge Laurel Beeler said that deciding on whether or not to grant Robinhood's motion to dismiss depended entirely on whether or not the use of Ice Cube's photo had in anyway implied endorsement.
Beeler didn't seem convinced that it had during last week's hearing, and she confirmed that viewpoint yesterday. "This court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing because the plaintiff did not plausibly plead that Robinhood's use of his identity suggested his endorsement of Robinhood's products", she wrote in her ruling.
She added: "Robinhood used Ice Cube's picture and paraphrase of a line from his song to illustrate an article about market corrections. That illustration does not suggest that the plaintiff endorsed Robinhood - even if Robinhood uses celebrity endorsements - including Nas and Jay-Z - to promote its actual products, as the plaintiff alleges".
Among other things, Robinhood had stressed that its Snacks website and bulletin was an editorial service. But Ice Cube countered that that's not really true, because the news service is a marketing tool for Robinhood's other services, and therefore articles on it are actually promotional.
However, Beeler sided with Robinhood on that point too. She wrote: "The plaintiff characterises the newsletter as an advertisement, not a newsletter. But he attaches the newsletter, which is demonstrably not an advertisement".
Concluding, Beeler's ruling stated: "The court dismisses the complaint for lack of standing ... the plaintiff must file any amended complaint within 21 days and attach a blackline of the changes".
While a rep for Robinhood told Law360 they were "pleased" with the ruling which, they hoped, would "put an end to this matter", Ice Cube's lawyer honed in on the option to submit an amended complaint. They said: "This is a simple procedural motion, and we're confident our amended pleading will resolve any questions". So, not an end to this matter then. Fun times.
UK record industry exports topped half a billion in 2020, says BPI
In its latest stats brag, the BPI noted this morning that the UK record industry generated £519.7 million in export earnings last year, a 6% increase on 2019 and the highest level of international income since the organisation began tracking such things in 2000. The uplift is primarily fuelled by the streaming boom, with the BPI reporting that around one in ten of all tracks streamed globally are by British artists.
Says the trade group: "The growth in music exports has been powered by British artists and labels successfully harnessing the global reach of streaming, with 300 British artists already achieving more than 100 million streams annually. Indeed, more than 500 UK artists now achieve 50 million streams per year or more, part of a rapidly expanding cohort of British talent for whom streaming is already generating a significant annual income, even before taking into account earnings from physical and digital sales, TV/radio, brand partnerships and, in normal times, live performances".
But it's not all good news. Although the UK record industry's export earnings were up 6% last year, global recorded music revenues at large rose by 8.2%. And while the UK is still the second largest exporter of music after the US, the British industry's overall share of global music revenue is declining, from 17% in 2015 to 10% last year. The release schedules of the biggest British artists - and in 2020 the inability of artists to tour internationally - will both have impacted that stat to an extent, but the BPI says that there is still work to be done to safeguard the export success of the UK record industry.
Who needs to do that work though? Government, that's who. Because the BPI has used its latest export stats as a good excuse to repeat a call it made earlier this year on government to help the industry achieve annual exports of a billion pounds by 2030.
Making that happen, says the BPI, requires an extension of the current government-funded Music Export Growth Scheme, which supports independent artists and labels looking to pursue new opportunities in foreign markets. It also calls on government to make it as easy as possible for British artists to tour abroad which, in the short term, mainly means addressing the issues created by Brexit when it comes to touring Europe. A previously suggested new cultural export office could also help artists and their teams navigate visa and permit issues when touring Europe and beyond.
Meanwhile, in terms of recorded music specifically, the BPI calls for a "music production tax credit to encourage new investment into creating new recordings in the UK", and asks ministers to "raise standards of copyright protection and enforcement in key export markets through trade negotiations", while also "rejecting any watering down of UK copyright in deals".
Says BPI boss Geoff Taylor: "The explosive growth of music streaming around the world represents an unprecedented opportunity for British music. With global competition intensifying, now is the time to push hard, to actively promote our artists to a global audience and maximise our share of global growth, with artists such as Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Stormzy, The 1975 and Mabel, among many others, now leading the way alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran Adele, Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys".
"As the UK builds back from COVID-19 and forges its future as an independent trading nation", he adds, "music can play a pivotal cultural and economic role. We call on government to seize the moment and make music a champion of our global trading ambitions".
Ditto launches publishing division
Ditto Music Publishing will be led by Tom Weller, who says: "The launch of Ditto Music Publishing is a huge step for the company and means we're close to being able to offer a comprehensive suite of services to our clients. At Ditto we're proud of the accessibility and simplicity of our platform, and our publishing offering is a continuation of that - it will help demystify a complicated area of the music business and make it easy and cost effective for artists and songwriters to collect all of the royalties they're due".
Ditto CEO Lee Parsons adds: "The launch of Ditto Music Publishing means artists and songwriters will have the global reach of a major publisher while retaining complete control of their rights and their creative vision. Tom and the team will help them capitalise on the power of independence so they can reach new audiences, create life-long fans and, most importantly, make sure they get paid".
Songwriters will be able to sign up to the new publishing service for an annual fee of £39, plus a 10% commission on royalties and a 20% commission on sync placements.
DEAG and Kilimanjaro buy Let's Rock makers UK Live
Confirming the deal, DEAG director Detlef Kornett said that - despite the latest delay in the lifting of COVID restrictions in England - the group is nevertheless optimistic about the return of live music in the UK and elsewhere later this year, and is now "setting the course for the continuation of our successful business development", including further expanding "our strong market position in the UK with the acquisition of UK Live".
UK Live will continue to be lead by its founders and joint MDs Nick Billinghurst and Matt Smith, who also retain a minority interest in the company.
Confirming the deal from his side, Billinghurst added: "We are very excited about our future collaboration with DEAG and look forward to driving our growth journey together. With DEAG, we have a strong partner on our side, with whom we are ideally positioned for the post-corona era. Together we will soon be presenting our audience with top-class concerts and events again. I am sure that both sides will benefit from our merger in the long term".
Kilimanjaro boss Stuart Galbraith also commented on the deal, saying: "The acquisition of UK Live adds attractive events and concerts to our events portfolio. Nick Billinghurst and Matt Smith have many years of experience in the live entertainment industry and have shaped UK Live from its early days with 'Let’s Rock The Moor' with 1000 visitors to a successful company with over a dozen festivals and countless concerts within only a few years".
Name-checking some of UK Live's other festivals and regular events, he went on: "Today, the four series of events - Let's Rock, Penn Fest, Friday Night Live and Sunday Sessions - alone attract over 200,000 visitors annually. We are particularly looking forward to working with Nick, Matt and the UK Live team on the next phase of growth for these brilliant festivals".
Ed Sheeran has signed singer-songwriter Maisie Peters to his Gingerbread Man Records label. "Signing to Gingerbread is a dream come true", she says. "I grew up inspired and in awe of Ed, like many other thirteen year olds who heard 'Lego House' for the first time, so, it's kind of amazing and hard to believe that I get to be the 21 year old who is able to call him and the whole Gingerbread team now friends, family and mentors for life". Her debut album, 'You Signed Up For This', is out on 21 Aug. New single, 'Psycho', co-written with Sheeran, is out on 2 Jul.
Talent agency UTA has signed Demi Lovato for worldwide representation in all areas.
Universal Music Publishing has signed Clairo to a global publishing deal. "I remember the first time I heard Carole King's 'Tapestry'. I also remember the first time I heard Carly Simon's 'No Secrets' and Joni Mitchell's 'Blue'", says CEO Jody Gerson. "I get the same feeling today when I listen to Clairo's music. I am so personally proud to represent her and to give her all the support she needs from our global UMPG family". Clairo's new album, 'Sling', is out on 16 Jul.
US-based Lakeside Management Group has signed a new deal to provide marketing, promotion and branding services to Germany-based YouTube channel turned record label CloudKid. "We are THRILLED to be partnering with the CloudKid family", says Lakeside founder Dan Pearson. "What they have managed to do with their brand on the digital platforms is impressive and incredibly valuable in breaking artists. We look forward to representing the label here in the States and connecting on opportunities that will help further cross their talented roster to the mainstream".
Warner Music's services division WEA has hired former NBA and Spotify exec Danielle Lee to fill the newly created role of President of Warner Music Artist And Fan Experiences. "Danielle is a fan and marketing guru who brings deep expertise and knowledge to this role from both inside and outside the music industry", says the division's President Maria Weaver. "She'll be a key change agent, helping us build upon WEA's already impressive track record of success in traditional artist services, while also turbo-charging our global fan engagement strategy by finding new and inventive ways to bring fans closer to their favourite artists".
Sherry Tan has been appointed as MD of Warner Music China. "Warner Music has an amazing reputation in the entertainment industry for developing artists and focusing on building their long-term careers", she says. "It's also been a pioneer in helping build the digital music market here in China, investing in A&R and striking deals that have enabled fans to access music more easily than ever before".
That new Manchester arena Co-op Live - set to open in 2023 - has appointed the team that will sell its premium hospitality offering. Because who doesn't like a bit of premium hospitality? Led by Head Of Premium Sales Becci Thomson, it will be completed by Senior Sales Manager Paula Jupp, and Sales Managers Maxine Price, Edward Coulson and Mark Bennett.
Fan-to-fan ticket resale platform TicketSwap has raised $10 million in funding from Amsterdam-based venture builder Million Monkeys. "Instead of having to take a step back due to COVID, we can now accelerate our growth", says TicketSwap CEO Hans Ober. "We are expanding to new markets and improving the quality of our service. Million Monkeys has a lot of experience in building marketplaces like ours".
Mykki Blanco has released new single 'It's Not My Choice', featuring Blood Orange. Blanco's new album, 'Broken Hearts And Beauty Sleep', is out on Friday.
Deftones' Chino Moreno features on new track from Health and Tyler Bates, 'Anti-Life', taken from the upcoming soundtrack to DC Comics' 'Dark Nights: Death Metal'.
The Go! Team have released new single 'A Bee Without Its Sting'. New album, 'The Get Up Sequences Part One', is out on 2 Jul.
Aldous Harding has released new single 'Old Peel'.
Liars have released new single 'Big Appetite'. New album, 'Apple Drop', is out on 6 Aug.
Yves Tumor has released new single 'Jackie'.
La Luz have released their first new single since 2018, 'In The Country'. "I moved to the country a few years ago after living in cities for most of my life", says frontwoman Shana Cleveland. "Being out in the middle of nowhere makes it easy to imagine how it would be possible to leave society all together".
The Body and Big Brave have announced that they will release a collaborative album, 'Leaving None But Small Birds', on 2 Sep. Listen to the single 'Oh Sinner' now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
The Killers record new version of Dustland with Bruce Springsteen
You're probably curious about how Bruce Springsteen came to be collaborating with The Killers. Luckily, Brandon Flowers has written about it in minute detail on Instagram. I mean, the short version is that Bruce sent Brandon a text message and then they worked it out. Flowers puts a bit more flair into telling the story though.
Basically, in February last year, Flowers is waiting for a plane, worrying about this new virus he's heard about. Then he gets a text, which reads: "Watching Glastonbury. You guys have become one hellacious live band, my brother! Love the gold suit! We gotta do 'Dustland' one day. Bruce".
Now, Brandon knows two Bruces, but not so well that he has either of their numbers in his phone. "I forgot to put both Bruce's numbers in that phone", he says. He forgot. He has Bruce Springsteen's number, but he didn't put it in his phone. Also, Brandon Flowers still manually puts numbers in his phone. That's probably a story for another day.
Turning amateur sleuth, he then Googles the area code on the phone number, and sees that it relates to Freehold, New Jersey - where Springsteen lives. He's still not convinced though. What else could he do to work out who this mystery Bruce is?
"I text Evan (Bruce and Patti's son, who has become a buddy of mine) and get verification that the number really is coming from his old man".
Oh yeah, that would do it.
Anyway, remember that virus Flowers was worrying about? That turned out to be quite a big deal. As a result, it was quite some time after receiving that text message that The Killers were able to get into the studio with Springsteen to record their new version of 'Dustland'.
The song, he says, was somewhat influenced by Springsteen in the first place. While his earlier inclination in his music-making was to write about things that were "larger than life", 'A Dustland Fairytale' was written as his mother was dying from cancer. "It was an attempt to better understand my dad, who is sometimes a mystery to me", he says. "[And] to grieve for my mother".
"Bruce has written a lot about people like my parents and found a lot of beauty in otherwise invisible people's hopes and dreams", Flowers goes on. "I'm grateful to him for opening this door for me. Now go find out something new about your dad, give your mom a big hug, and for God's sake listen to Bruce Springsteen".
I think he probably means go and listen to some classic Springsteen songs, but I don't think we went through all of that to not listen to this new collaboration with The Killers. So, here is 'Dustland'.