|WEDNESDAY 14 JULY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Ahead of the publication tomorrow of the UK Parliament's report into the economics of streaming, a group of performers from across Europe have endorsed the recent call from British music-makers for a remuneration right in law that applies to streams. The group of musicians, singers and actors call for similar remuneration rights for performers in all European countries... [READ MORE]|
European performers back the UK artists calling for equitable remuneration on streams
A big focus of the inquiry initiated by Parliament's culture select committee into the streaming business was the digital pie debate - ie the debate over how monies generated by streaming are shared out between all the stakeholders in the music community, including artists, musicians, songwriters, labels, publishers and the streaming services themselves.
Part of that is the specific debate over how streaming monies are shared out on the recordings side between artists and labels. This is currently entirely dependent on the deal any one artist has agreed with the label or distributor they work with, and can be anything from a few percent to 100% of the monies a streaming service has allocated to any one recording.
Artists on pre-digital record deals are usually worse off, because some labels still apply royalty rates and deductions that were originally agreed when the main product was physical discs. Artists and managers argue that all old contracts should be revised to bring them in line with streaming-era contracts, where royalty rates are usually higher and fewer deductions are made from artist payments.
One proposed solution to this problem is that so called performer equitable remuneration be applied to streams. Under copyright law, when music is broadcast and performed in public, performers - including main artists and session musicians - have a statutory right to payment at industry standard rates through the collective licensing system.
In most countries - Spain being a notable exception - this performer ER right does not currently apply to streams. But if it did, all performers would receive at least a minimum share of digital income when recordings on which they appear are streamed, oblivious of whatever any one record contract says.
Although there would be winners and losers if ER was applied to streams even within the artist community, many musicians nevertheless support such a move.
Various people who gave evidence to the Parliamentary inquiry backed the idea of ER being paid on streams, and - following the oral hearings in Parliament - the UK's Musicians' Union, Ivors Academy and #brokenrecord campaign organised an open letter to UK Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson calling for copyright law to be changed to that effect. More than 230 notable artists and musicians have now signed that letter.
The new open letter signed by a group of musicians, singers and actors from across the Europe - all of whom back the pan-European PayPerformers campaign - says that the requests in that letter to Johnson "resonate deeply with us performers throughout the European Union".
It adds: "We face a similar plight – our music, TV shows and films getting played on streaming and downloading services throughout the world and yet most of us not earning anything from our work. As you highlight in your letter to Prime Minister Johnson, we live in a regulatory framework that has not adapted to the digital age, and which has failed to protect us as it has in the past with radio or TV broadcasting".
The new letter then notes the debates that were had in this domain as the 2019 European Copyright Directive was being negotiated. "You have called for 'lawful and fair treatment of music makers'", it goes on, "a request that was heard by lawmakers in the EU back in 2019 when they approved of the new Copyright Directive. Indeed, its article eighteen states that authors and performers, in the musical and audiovisual sector, are 'entitled to receive appropriate and proportionate remuneration'".
That particular element of the directive is somewhat open to interpretation of course. The signatories of the new letter continue: "Our campaign has made significant progress in ensuring that this right is successfully implemented in some member states, most recently in Germany. Nonetheless, we continue our fight to make sure governments are providing a specific and adequate enough regulatory framework. We do not trust the system to adapt to our demands organically and are pushing governments to face front-on the struggles we are currently living".
Which brings things to the idea of performers - in music and beyond - having remuneration rights in law in relation to streaming. "As you are now, we are also calling for our national governments to make us a priority, as they have with producers and entrepreneurs in the past. To that effect, we believe the best solution to the current system’s imbalance is a collectively managed and unwaivable remuneration right collected from the streaming and downloading platforms".
"Such a system", they go on, "would unlock a new revenue channel for us and ensure that we will be paid for our work played. It is the system that we want because we know that this system guarantees payment independent from our weak bargaining positions. Not only has this mechanism already proven to be successful in Spain, but as you might have seen, it has also been highlighted in the latest WIPO report on streaming as the best solution to our plight".
The letter concludes: "Performers are the backbone of the cultural and creative sectors in the UK as well as in the European Union. We stand with you in your demands and assure that, cross-Channel, we will fight by your side to ensure we, performers, can live from our art".
Britney Spears' co-conservator accuses singer's father of trying to shift blame
Spears, of course, recently claimed in court that the conservatorship that has been in control of her financial and personal affairs for thirteen years was "abusive", and particularly singled out her father as not acting in her best interests.
Jamie Spears then requested that the court overseeing the case launch an investigation into his daughter's various claims, suggesting that many of the things she said had happened were out of his control. He is currently conservator of her estate, but many of his daughter's issues were with her medical and personal care, which come under Montgomery's remit, he said.
According to The Blast, in a new legal filing Montgomery says that Jamie Spears' request for an investigation is a "thinly veiled attempt to clear his name" and "defend himself against his daughter's accusations". She says that the court "should not take his bait", and at the very least should not agree to anything until Britney has a new lawyer in place - her long-time court-appointed attorney Sam Ingham having recently resigned.
Montgomery also says that her focus is now on getting Britney out of the conservatorship entirely, stating: "To that end, Ms Montgomery is currently preparing a comprehensive care plan with Ms Spears' medical team that will address all the issues raised by Ms Spears that relate to her conservatorship of the person under Ms Montgomery’s tenure as her conservator".
"This comprehensive care plan will not just answer any questions about Ms Montgomery's tenure", the legal filing goes on, "but will also offer Ms Spears a path to ending her conservatorship, as she unequivocally desires".
Reservoir signs BTS songwriter Rufio Hooks
"I am excited to team up with Reservoir and start this next chapter of my career", says Rufio. "I think the culture that they have built in both Nashville and LA is really special".
Reservoir EVP of Creative, John Ozier, adds: "Seasoned songwriters dream of achieving the kind of record-breaking success that 'Butter' has, but the fact that this is Rufio's first cut is utterly extraordinary and only speaks to his remarkable talent. He has such a strong ability to write across various genres, and we're eager to tap into his natural gift and identify future collaborations for him across the industry".
If you want to know the intimate details of how 'Butter' was written (just to be absolutely clear: you do), you should listen to this episode of the Switched On Pop podcast.
Dozens of former Sony Music Australia employees have approached law firm about possible class action
The potential legal action follows the sudden departure last month of the long-time chief of Sony Music Australia, Denis Handlin. His exiting came amid a Guardian exposé of and internal investigation into claims of a toxic corporate culture at Sony's Australian business.
The Guardian report was based on interviews with more than 20 former employees at Sony Music in Australia and included allegations of sexual harassment at work events, intimidating behaviour, alcohol abuse and the unfair treatment of women in the workplace. Handlin himself was not accused of harassment, however many of the interviewees were critical of the outgoing CEO for overseeing such a toxic working environment.
Shortly after all that happened, Lauren MacDougall from law firm MacDougall And Hydes told local media that she had been approached by multiple former Sony Music employees, some seeking representation in the major's own investigation into the allegations about its Australian operations, and some considering legal action against their one time employer
MacDougall said at the time: "I have been approached by a number of women who were seeking legal advice in relation to claims of bullying and harassment during their time at Sony Music Australia. I would encourage any other women or men to come forward. Depending on how many people come forward and what they have to say there is the potential of a class action".
In a new conversation with The Guardian, MacDougall confirms that she has now been approached by dozens of people - women and men - who used to work for Sony in a wide range of different roles. That said, she is still assessing what possible legal action could be pursued.
She told the newspaper: "Class actions are not straightforward, and a decision to institute one depends on many factors. The first step is to speak to the individuals to ascertain what their complaint is and what their expectations are. At this time, it is simply far too soon to confirm the position".
BMG offers its songwriters and producers discounts on music-making software and kit
The music company says that the new scheme "marks a new extension of BMG's strategy to offer clients a complete suite of services covering every aspect of their careers", and that the "initial slate of benefits includes exclusive partnerships with a raft of class-leading creator tool providers including Ableton and Splice".
Other companies and brands whose products and services will be available at a discount to BMG allied creators include Adam Audio, Chartmetric, Kiss Your Ears, Teufel and Vision Ears.
Announcing the new scheme, BMG's EVP Global Repertoire & Marketing for the EU, APAC & LATAM, Dominique Casimir, says: "Wrapping ourselves around our clients’ interests is at the core of what we do. Many of our songwriters and producers have expressed interest in early, privileged or discounted access to the best creator tools and we're delighted to unveil an initial slate of some of the biggest names in the space".
Meanwhile the firm's Director of A&R Publishing for GSA, Marc Johlen - who initiated and led the launch of the programme - adds: "We aim to cover every aspect of music-making. The programme will give our clients access to a global partner network and enable them to more easily try out new products and tools".
People eager to return to live music, but cancellation insurance still needed, UK Music says
Public First undertook the survey on behalf of UK Music questioning people about their plans regarding live shows this year, as well as the role music has played in their lives during the pandemic.
Of those surveyed, 43% said that they were interested in going to a live concert, gig or festival at some point this year, while two-thirds confirmed that - despite ongoing concerns about the coronavirus - they planned to attend as many shows as they would have done, or more, in any one year in pre-COVID times. Of the 18-24 year-olds surveyed, 38% said that going to a festival or gig is one of the things that they are most looking forward to as life slowly starts to get back to normal.
The UK live sector is getting ready to properly reopen next week as most COVID restrictions lift in England, allowing all venues to reopen and full capacity shows to resume. Although that's a big step for a live sector that has been in virtual shutdown for nearly eighteen months, many challenges remain, of course. So it's perhaps unsurprising that 45% of those surveyed by Public First said they were worried about the financial viability of their local music venues because of the impact of COVID-19 over the last year.
Respondents were also asked about the role music had played in their lives over the last year. 57% said that music had helped them cope during the pandemic, with 47% saying that they'd listened to more music during lockdown. 74% agreed that music is important to their quality of life - and 39% said that importance had increased during the past year. Meanwhile, researchers reckon, about a million adults took up playing a musical instrument during lockdown.
"These results demonstrate just how important music is to our nation and the critical role it has played over the course of this pandemic", says UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. "Combined with the huge economic contribution the music industry made pre-COVID-19, this is further evidence that the UK music industry is a key national asset that should be protected and supported by government".
And that protection and support in the short term, Njoku-Goodwin adds, should take the form of state-backed cancellation insurance for the live sector. "People are clearly missing going to festivals, gigs and concerts and eagerly awaiting the return of live music without social distancing", he goes on.
"While the announcement of an end to restrictions from 19 Jul was very welcome, there remains one crucial last piece to the puzzle: action on insurance. Suggestions that restrictions may be reintroduced later this year creates huge risk for event organisers and the inability to obtain commercial insurance means many live events have already been called off this year".
"Many more are still at risk of cancellation, so we need the government to introduce an insurance scheme that enables organisers to plan events with confidence into the autumn and beyond", he concludes. "The music industry should play a key role in our country's economic and cultural recovery, and there is huge appetite from the public for festivals and live events – but without a government-backed insurance scheme there is a very real risk that events will continue to be cancelled".
Stormzy has signed a worldwide contract with talent agency CAA. The deal also covers the rapper's #Merky company.
Universal Music Africa has announced a pan-African distribution partnership with French rapper and entrepreneur Booba and his Tallac Records label. The deal will make his albums available across Africa for the first time. It also sees the launch of new label 92i Africa in partnership with Universal Music France, which arrives with initial signings DopeBoy DMG and Didi B.
Sentric Music and Nick Halkes have jointly signed production duo PBH & Jack to a publishing deal. "We are over the moon to sign with Nick and Sentric Music", say the duo. "We have to say it's quite an honour that The Prodigy's manager has come direct to us and, to top that, we are their first ever co-signing! This really has come at the perfect time for us. For the last eighteen months we've had our heads fully focussed on making the best music we've ever made, and we are about to start rolling out some incredible singles with some very talented vocalists and writers".
Dance label Cr2 Records has signed a global distribution deal with Believe. "We're THRILLED to sign this long-term deal with Cr2", says Believe's Ben Rimmer. "The old release models of local licensing and multi-partner solutions for a record label's digital retail make less sense in the modern digital music industry, so it's perfect timing for Mark [Brown, Cr2 CEO] to consolidate his global audio-video digital and streaming business with Believe".
AI-powered digital audio company Super Hi-Fi has announced a partnership with 7digital, providing advanced playback and recommendations tools to the B2B music platform. "The streaming music market has become largely undifferentiated across music selection, pricing, features, and access", says Super Hi-Fi CEO Zack Zalon. "We're adding fully integrated compatibility with 7digital's music platform, to create a seamless layer of value for our respective customers. The result allows digital music service providers and music-driven consumer brands to create highly compelling, personalised audio products that were previously unattainable".
TikTok users in the UK can now get four months of Spotify Premium for free, provided they have not signed up for a premium account on the streaming platform before. Users of the video-sharing app in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Turkey can also get three or four months Spotify streaming for nowt. "We are THRILLED to offer eligible TikTok users in several markets access to all the music and podcasts they love anytime, anywhere", says Spotify's Marc Hazan.
Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc has been elected to Warner Music Group's board of directors. At the same time, Thomas H Lee has stepped down after seventeen years. "Music now lives in many different forms, across cultures, technologies, and media", says Dubec. "Warner's dynamic, global approach to creativity and commerce, along with the powerful value proposition it offers artists and songwriters, make it a truly progressive and exciting company. I'm looking forward to working with everyone on the board to help chart the years ahead".
Halsey has announced that her new album, 'If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power', will be accompanied by an hour long film of the same name. Here's a trailer.
Tycho and Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard have released a new collaborative single, 'Only Love'. The song "started life as an instrumental, but something was missing", says Tycho. "I sent a rough demo to Ben and he recorded some vocals over it. The first time I heard the rough vocals the whole song suddenly made sense and the arrangement flowed out of that".
Tommy Cash and Quebonafide have released a new track together, 'Benz-Dealer'. It's the Estonian-Polish rap crossover you didn't know you needed.
Joan As Police Woman has released new single 'Take Me To Your Leader', featuring The Invisible's Dave Okumu and late Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen. The track is taken from an album they recorded together shortly before Allen's death, titled 'The Solution Is Restless', which is out on 5 Nov. Joan As Police Woman will be playing UK shows in March and April next year.
The Joy Formidable have released the video for new single 'Chimes'.
Ben Kweller has released the video for 'Just For Kids' from his latest album 'Circuit Boredom'.
GIGS & TOURS
St Vincent will play a livestream show on 5 Aug, playing songs from her recent album 'Daddy's Home' and across her catalogue. Tickets are available now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ed Sheeran "would not be opposed" to going metal
"I was really into death metal as a kid", Sheeran tells The Sun. "I listened to Cradle Of Filth and Slipknot and all that stuff. I'm not saying I could ever step into that world. [But] I learnt all those riffs on guitar as a kid. That's something I've never thought about doing – but something I would not be opposed to creating".
Aside from listing two bands that don't play death metal and him saying that he's not sure he could "step into that world", his credentials are pretty much rock solid. The move already has Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth's seal of approval.
"I'll believe it when I see it", wrote Filth on Instagram. "Fellow Suffolk lad could come good in the end. 'Dracula's Castle On The Hill' anyone?"
Of course, because everything exists on the internet, there are a whole load of metal covers of 'Castle On The Hill' out there already. So, here's an idea of what Sheeran's future direction will sound like.