|WEDNESDAY 30 JUNE 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The man who negotiated the UK's new trade deal with the European Union did little - aka nothing - to alleviate concerns in the music community yesterday regarding the post-Brexit bureaucratic barriers that British performers now face when touring across Europe. True, David Frost did actually show up this time to discuss those concerns with Parliament's culture select committee - which was an improvement on last time - but only to formally pass the buck on to other ministers in the current UK government... [READ MORE]|
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Chief Brexit negotiator finally speaks to culture select committee about new bureaucratic barriers for touring artists, reassures no one
The last minute trade deal agreed between the UK and EU at the end of last year does not include any EU-wide provision ensuring visa and permit free travel for performers touring the continent - despite promises repeatedly made by British ministers that such provisions would be included. It means that artists and their crews must now tackle different entry rules for each EU member state.
In some countries there will be no new requirements, but in others travel permits may be required for people, and carnets for equipment. The costs involved in navigating and tackling all that new bureaucracy will make many European tours for British artists unviable. Even bigger tours may be more likely to employ crew members from elsewhere in the EU in order to reduce admin costs.
As criticism of that new bureaucracy grew within the music and political communities earlier this year, Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson told MPs "we must fix this", adding: “Actually, there are plenty of conversations already happening at national capital levels between the UK and our partners. David Frost is in overall charge of making this happen”.
A nice bold commitment from Johnson which, it seems, didn't quite work its way back to Frost himself. As the Independent has noted, Frost's line now is that "it is the responsibility of DCMS [the Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport] to take this forward with our embassies". It's a Culture problem, see?
Of course, if you run Johnson's statement from March through Google Translate - converting it from Bullshit into English - you do get: "We're going to do fuck all, because we don't fucking care, but if I waffle on long enough maybe you won't notice".
Even so, Frost's blunt comments yesterday to the effect that all this is a necessary consequence of the government's Brexit priorities; that ministers are hoping that they maybe able to reduce some of the new bureaucratic requirements in some way, somehow, someday; but that none of this is really his problem anyway; were, well, surprising. Actually, no, it was entirely predictable.
Frost also confirmed what we already knew. That both the UK and the EU had made proposals that would have allowed visa free touring for performers, but that neither side liked the other's proposal. The EU's proposal, he added, would have conflicted with the government's firm policy that all freedom of movement between the EU and the UK must be ended.
And, let's never forget, back in 2016, 26.5% of the UK population voted in favour of the wishy washy, multi-layered, deliberately undefined concept that was "Brexit". Which means the specific interpretation of Brexit favoured by the Boris Johnson faction of the British Conservative Party - including its firm stance on freedom of movement - is definitely the "will of the people".
With all that in mind, Frost also confirmed that, rather than having new talks with EU officials in Brussels, the government's plan is to instead negotiate bespoke deals with each EU member state to try to reduce any new bureaucratic requirements, starting with the countries that are both priority markets for British performers and which currently have the most painful permit requirements.
You know, like Spain. And discussions with Spain are already under way. Erm, as of yesterday. Those talks being delayed while DCMS waited for approval from, well, a committee led by Frost.
Though, Frost did concede, not all the issues raised about post-Brexit touring can be dealt with on a country-by-country basis, with the so called cabotage rules that impact on the touring of equipment around Europe being a matter for the EU. Don't worry though, the Department Of Transport is looking into that. I mean, nothing's happened yet, but, some day, some how, maybe. But either way, and Frost was very clear on this, that's a Transport problem, see?
So, basically, it was a big old fuck you from Frosty. I wonder what's worse. A Johnson-style fuck you covered in bullshit so to pretend that something is actually happening. Or a Frosty-style fuck you which, at least, is a nice clear fuck you. However, Frost did have one positive suggestion for the music community. It should be working harder to persuade EU countries to pull down the bureaucratic barriers currently facing British performers. Because that's really a Music Industry problem, see?
Needless to say, the recently launched music industry campaign calling for urgent measures to mitigate the impact of the post-Brexit bureaucratic barriers was not impressed with Frost's performance before the culture select committee.
"Today's select committee session will do little to soothe the growing concerns of the UK's artists, musicians and live music businesses", a spokesperson said. "While we continue to suffer the catastrophic impacts of COVID, many are now in open despair at the government's disturbing lack of urgency to address a range of Brexit-related bureaucracy and costs that will make EU touring almost prohibitively expensive and burdensome".
"Despite being told by the Prime Minister in March that Lord Frost was dealing with these issues and would 'fix it'", they added, "we're still left with only crumbs of additional information and absolutely no update on the kind of transitional support package that will be vital for music businesses to operate in the short-term. To put this in context, the UK's £1 billion fishing industry has received £23m to adjust to new red tape. As it stands, our £6 billion world beating music industry is being hung out to dry. It feels like a complete abdication of responsibility".
Stream-rippers FLVTO and 2conv ordered to keep and share logs of what audio is being ripped
Stream-ripping sites – which turn temporary streams, often YouTube streams, into permanent downloads – have been the music industry's top piracy gripe for years now, of course. The argument being that such sites are involved in the infringement of copyright. Which is why the majors decided to sue Tofig Kurbanov, who operates both FLVTO and 2conv.
With the case against Kurbanov going through the motions, the majors recently requested access to logs from FLVTO and 2conv to identify what specific YouTube videos are having their audio ripped via the two websites, and also where the rippers are located. But Kurbanov argued that he didn't keep any such logs and expecting him to start doing so would be "unduly burdensome".
However, the labels countered that storing such information was a relatively easy task, mainly involving turning on automated server logging tools that Kurbanov had deliberately turned off. And to that end they requested that the court force Kurbanov to start logging and sharing the information they required.
In a court filing earlier this month they stated: "In the ordinary course of operations, defendant's websites necessarily generate server data, including data that identifies: (a) the YouTube videos being stream-ripped; (b) the MP3 audio files being copied and distributed; and (c) the geographic locations of the users downloading the audio files. Respectfully, the court should order defendant to preserve and produce this key evidence".
As well as arguing that storing such logs would be "unduly burdensome", Kurbanov also raised privacy concerns in relation to the storing and sharing of such data, mainly because the specific IP addresses of users would be involved. However, the labels said that, while they did want geographical data down to the state level within the US, Kurbanov could redact the actual IP addresses before handing the logs over.
Either way, the court has now sided with the labels on this one, with the judge stating in a short court order that "plaintiffs' motion to compel preservation and production of web server data is granted".
Obviously, the labels are hoping that the logs will show many of the YouTube videos being ripped on FLVTO and 2conv contain recordings owned by the majors, and that lots of that ripping is happening within the US. We shall see if that's the case - and whether that helps the record industry convince the court that Kurbanov should be held liable for contributory copyright infringement.
Indian minister accuses Twitter of pursuing a personal vendetta after Sony Music takedown
This was all triggered by a takedown notice from Sony Music. However, Prasad - who is also India's Minister For Communications, Electronics & Information Technology - accused Twitter of retaliating against him for his recent criticism of the social media company. He also claimed that the suspension of his account was in breach of new Indian laws governing social media platforms, which came into force last month.
"Something highly peculiar happened today", Prasad wrote on Twitter a few days ago. "Twitter denied access to my account for almost an hour on the alleged ground that there was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the USA and subsequently they allowed me to access the account".
"Twitter's actions were in gross violation of Rule 4(8) of [India's] Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 where they failed to provide me any prior notice before denying me access to my own account", he added
"It is apparent", he then claimed, "that my statements calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter, particularly sharing the clips of my interviews to TV channels and its powerful impact, have clearly ruffled its feathers".
Prasad went on to state that: "Twitter’s actions indicate that they are not the harbinger of free speech that they claim to be, but are only interested in running their own agenda".
This is the latest phase in the Indian government's battle against the big social media platforms. The new laws regarding social media companies give the country's government more power to police content on services including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. This follows refusals by those platforms to remove content that the government simply doesn't like.
Since the new laws were imposed - despite a grace period of three months - Prasad has repeatedly accused Twitter of refusing to comply with them. He and other politicians have also been critical of the platform for marking some material shared by leaders of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party as 'manipulated media' last month.
For its part, Twitter said earlier this month that it is in regular contact with officials in India and "continues to make every effort to comply with the new guidelines".
Still, Prasad is presenting this latest incident as a personal attack on him, claiming that it was political tensions that led to him being kicked off Twitter. Though it's possibly worth remembering that the reason we know about all this is because, well, he tweeted about it. So he wasn't really kicked off Twitter at all.
In his initial tweet the minister shared screengrabs showing what he had been faced with when he tried to access his Twitter account late last week.
A warning alert from Twitter said that it had received a DMCA takedown notice from a third party against his account - so a takedown request issued according to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act - and that in order to login he would have to first take a look at the company's copyright policy.
It did also warn that repeat copyright infringements can result in accounts being suspended, although that is not what happened on this occasion.
Twitter also said that it was removing the offending tweet. The alert did not state exactly what content triggered the action, but it appears to have been a 2017 video in which Prasad paid tribute to the Indian Army on the anniversary of the 1971 Bangladesh War.
The issue, however, wasn't Prasad's message, rather the music used to soundtrack it. A search of the Lumen database of takedown notices shows that a complaint relating to the video was filed by the IFPI on behalf of Sony Music. The takedown says that the video infringed the major's copyright though the unlicensed used of AR Rahman's 1997 track 'Maa Tujhe Salaam'.
In a statement to India's Economic Times, the IFPI confirmed that it was the source of the takedown notice, but said that it was not responsible for how Twitter acts upon those notices. However, it did also use the whole incident to do a bit of general Twitter bashing, something that has become a popular past-time in the music industry in recent years, of course.
"Unlike other social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, Twitter has not taken a licence for music content", an IFPI spokesperson told the newspaper. "As a result, IFPI works on behalf of its member record companies and their artists to notify the platform when we believe content has been uploaded without the permission of the rights holder".
"We believe that the best way to avoid these situations in the future is for Twitter to take a licence for the content uploaded onto its platform", they added. "This would ensure - as with other platforms - users are free to upload and enjoy music content in the knowledge that Indian songwriters, artists and producers are being fairly rewarded".
So, while Prasad tried his best to make all this about Twitter violating Indian social media laws, it's really about Prasad not complying with American copyright laws. Or, if you prefer, another example of what happens when big tech firms don't get their music licences sorted.
UK government hosts roundtable to discuss tackling bullying, harassment and discrimination in the creative industries
The discussion was prompted by a previous meeting between ministers at the UK's Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and singer, songwriter and former 'X Factor' runner-up Rebecca Ferguson, who has made numerous posts to social media in recent months criticising music industry practices, while also calling for managers and agents in the entertainment industry to be regulated.
The roundtable involved representatives from the music, fashion, film and TV industries.
DCMS says that those present committed to do more to prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination from occurring within the creative industries through various cross-sector initiatives; to monitor the effectiveness of any such initiatives; and to protect those within the business who are victims of bullying, harassment or discrimination.
The Creative Industries Federation has taken responsibility for coordinating these initiatives.
Commenting on the discussion, Dinenage told reporters: "The issue of bullying, harassment and discrimination in the creative industries is deeply concerning. Everyone has the right to feel safe at work, whatever industry they are in. I'm pleased to have met with leading representatives from across the creative industries to underline the duty of care that is owed to all those who work in these sectors. Our ongoing cross-industry plan of action will help improve support for those facing these issues".
"Today we have taken positive steps on the path to ensure no one feels bullied, harassed or discriminated against in the creative industries", she added. "I look forward to hearing about progress made by the sectors in the coming weeks".
Meanwhile, Creative Industries Federation CEO Caroline Norbury stated: "Every person working in the creative industries should be able to do their job with the expectation that they will not face bullying, harassment or discrimination. Yet, very sadly, there are still situations within our sector where that is simply not the case".
"The creative industries have immense power to inspire, bring joy, and transform lives for the better, so it is horrifying that some creative workers are still subject to behaviour that is the complete antithesis of this", she went on. "I look forward to working with the government and colleagues across the sector to ensure that the creative industries provide a safe working environment for everyone".
Digital Radio UK launches new campaign to big up DAB+
As Digital Radio UK itself explains: "DAB+ is an upgraded version of the technology used to bring you DAB digital radio - it is more spectrum efficient than DAB, therefore enabling more radio stations to be broadcast within the same amount of capacity".
There have been national DAB+ radio stations in the UK for more than five years now - only available on DAB+ devices - although this is the first time Digital Radio UK has run a campaign specifically promoting the benefits of the enhanced DAB technology, the main benefit being access to more stations.
The digital radio group says that its new campaign - which includes a radio ad that started airing on an assortment of stations earlier this week - "encourages listeners who are considering buying a new radio to upgrade to a DAB+ digital radio and to look for the 'digital tick mark' to ensure their new device will receive all the available DAB and DAB+ stations".
It adds that recent consumer research it commissioned "indicates that despite the number of DAB+ stations now on-air, consumer awareness and understanding of DAB+ and its benefits is low".
While the majority of digital radio sets currently on sale are DAB+ compatible, it's estimated that "only 30-40% of DAB digital radios in homes will receive DAB+ stations, highlighting the need to communicate that there are now many stations available that can only be heard with a DAB+ compatible radio, or by listening online or on a smart speaker".
Commenting on the new comms campaign, Digital Radio UK CEO Ford Ennals says: "DAB+ is playing an important role in the expansion of digital radio in the UK and with the number and quality of DAB+ stations higher than ever and increasing, now is an appropriate time to start raising listener awareness and understanding about the benefits of DAB+ to ensure they are not missing out".
Stormzy's #Merky Books to publish first children's book
According to research published by BookTrust last year, only 10% of children's books published in the UK in 2019 featured characters of colour. Meanwhile, only 8% of published children's authors and illustrators in the UK the same year were people of colour.
Featuring an introduction by Stormzy, 'Superheroes' is written by Sophia Thakur and illustrated by Denzell Dankwah.
"The earliest seeds that are planted often influence the rest of the garden", says Thankur. "If from a young age, we only really meet blackness from a position of weakness, of slavery and shootings - stereotypes and racist media - as children, we don't get an opportunity to develop a healthy and confident outlook on what it means to be black. It was important to work on this book to plant a new seed of celebration. Of black excellence into our young minds who will hopefully bloom into their very own superheroes. Confident and powerful".
Dankwah adds: "Working on this project has been an exciting experience as I grew up with a love for superheroes and cartoons. Since my illustrations are heavily influenced by comic books, this was a great opportunity to portray such huge figures and role models as heroes for young readers to look up to. This is a dream come true as I've always wanted to illustrate a book and I'm grateful to have collaborated with Sophia and the amazing team at #Merky Books".
The book will be published on 16 Sep. Find out more here.
Meanwhile, in other Stormzy news, the rapper appeared in videos on social media last night celebrating England's latest win in the UEFA Euros at a fan's house. The rapper reportedly promised to come and hang out at said fan's house if England won, the fan having spotted Stormzy when they were both watching the England v Germany game at Boxpark in Shoreditch.
B2B streaming platform Tuned Global has signed a licensing deal with Hong Kong-based social media app Lyka. "By integrating a music feature into the Lyka app our goal is to drive community engagement and stickiness", says Lyka CEO Ryan Baird. "Partnering with Tuned Global will give us access to world-leading technology with a proven track record working with enterprises in Southeast Asia, allowing us to bring these exciting new features to our community members easily, in a matter of months".
Canadian song rights collecting society SOCAN has appointed Jennifer Brown as its new CEO. She first joined the organisation in 1995 and became interim CEO following the departure of her predecessor in the role, Eric Baptiste, last year. "Jennifer Brown's work at SOCAN is exemplary, her leadership abilities are remarkable, and her passion for the interests of our members and stakeholders is unsurpassed", says Marc Ouellette, President of SOCAN's board of directors.
Rico Nasty has released new single 'Magic'. The track is taken from her upcoming mixtape 'Rx'.
St Vincent has released her version of Metallica's 'Sad But True', her contribution to the upcoming tribute to the band's 'Black Album' marking its 30th anniversary.
Lump have released new single 'We Cannot Resist'. "It wants to be this massive pop track, but it's been twisted", says the duo's Mike Lindsay. "I like that when the chorus comes in you're like 'wow!' - it's this huge pop chorus - but then it becomes really creepy with the whispered 'we cannot resist"'.
The Bug has announced that he will release new album, 'Fire', on 27 Aug - his first solo album since 2014's 'Angels & Devils'. "I've always been addicted to the physicality and intensity of sound", he says. "I started The Bug because I wanted to make music for a soundsystem I had in storage, and the live experience of Bug has always been something I wanted to reflect on record - I'm always looking for fuel to the fire and live shows - and missing live shows in lockdown was a real impetus". Here's new single 'Clash', featuring Logan_olm.
Moonchild Sanelly has released new single 'Yebo Teacher'. The track, she says, "is about putting the work in, not just in school but in life. My analogy of a teacher talking to her students is simple - it's showing people that during your time on this earth, when you take on a task, you finish it. It's about completion, and it's about effort. I'm asking people of all ages - 'Have you done your homework? Are you working hard to get to the level you want to be at in life?'"
Appleblim has announced new album 'Infinite Hierglyphics', out on 30 Jul. Listen to new track 'Rileys Spiral' here.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Fabric to ban unauthorised photography
"Fabric is London's home for underground music, always aiming to create a feeling of self-expression on the dancefloor", says a statement posted on Instagram. "As we approach reopening, we are introducing a strict no photo and no video policy at the club. Stay in the moment and put away your phone, enjoy the night".
Professional photography will still be allowed, where authorised by the venue, but all smartphone snapping will be against the rules. Such bans are unusual in the UK, although are more common in some other countries, particularly Germany. Some bands have also been known to prohibit attendees of their shows from taking photographs, with varying degrees of enforcement.
When audience members take photos or film snippets of live shows, not only might artists not want blurry footage of their performances circulating online, said audience members holding their phones up can often block the view of those behind them, of course. Which is really rather annoying.
Though, while Fabric does put on live shows, it seems more likely that this ban is mainly aiming to stop people from taking photos of other clubbers. After all, while your mates might be happy to pull faces at your camera on demand, others might be less pleased to discover that they've shown up on social media looking worse for wear after, er, a glass of wine or two.
The ban at Fabric will come into force when the club reopens on 23 Jul to begin 42 hours of music programmed over three days.
"We can't wait to welcome you all back to Fabric for our 42-hour musical marathon", the club said when announcing that event at the weekend. "Expect a mash-up of jungle, breaks, house, techno and everything we love in between". But no photos.
The line-up is yet to be announced. Tickets are available now.