|FRIDAY 6 AUGUST 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK government has finally announced a state-backed cancellation insurance scheme for music festivals and other large-scale events that will cover any losses incurred if a festival or event has to be cancelled as a result of any future COVID shutdown... [READ MORE]|
UK government finally launches a state-backed COVID cancellation insurance scheme for festivals and events
The music industry has been calling for such a scheme for more than a year now, with a flurry of music festivals that - it turns out - could have gone ahead this summer having to cancel earlier this year because no cancellation insurance was available on the commercial market.
In the absence of insurance, many independent events simply couldn't afford to keep spending money on their 2021 editions when there remained a chance that COVID regulations could extend resulting in a last minute cancellation.
Nevertheless, British ministers resisted calls to intervene from both the industry and MPs, even as the number of 2021 festivals having to cancel mounted up. However, they did say they'd probably set up some sort of insurance scheme once COVID rules had sufficiently relaxed to allow full capacity events to go ahead. That happened in England on 19 Jul.
Last night, the government stated: "As the economy reopens with the lifting of COVID restrictions, getting the right kind of insurance is acting as a barrier for some events organisers. So the government has partnered with [insurance market] Lloyd's to deliver the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme ... The scheme will see the government act as a 'reinsurer' - stepping in with a guarantee to make sure insurers can offer the products events companies need".
"The pandemic is not over", it went on, "but with a sufficiently high proportion of the population vaccinated, the country can learn to live with COVID-19 without the need for the strict economic and social restrictions. This scheme will support live events across the UK that are open to the general public - such as music festivals and business events. It will cover costs incurred in the event of cancellation due to the event being legally unable to happen due to government COVID restrictions".
Ministers also confirmed that "a number of prominent insurers in the Lloyd's market - including Arch, Beazley, Dale, Hiscox and Munich Re - are supporting the scheme which will provide events companies with the option of purchasing cover from next month, alongside standard commercial events insurance, giving them the reassurance they need to plan ahead while also ensuring value for money for taxpayers".
Commenting on the late-in-the-day-but-better-than-nothing-I-guess insurance scheme, the government's Chancellor Of The Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, added: "The events sector supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, and I know organisers are raring to go now that restrictions have been lifted. But the lack of the right kind of insurance is proving a problem, so as the economy reopens I want to do everything I can to help events providers and small businesses plan with confidence right through to next year".
The live industry has welcomed the launch of the state-backed insurance scheme, even if some nitty gritty still needs to be worked out, and other COVID schemes will still be required. For example, the Association Of Independent Festivals says that if future COVID rules required capacity cuts but not full on cancellation, then the proposed insurance scheme might not help a promoter.
AIF CEO Paul Reed stated: "AIF has campaigned for a government-backed insurance scheme for festivals for over a year, from raising it as a headline issue with the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee [in Parliament] to working with DCMS colleagues [in government] and presenting detailed evidence and data to support the case. We are pleased that government has listened, and we welcome this intervention to address the insurance market failure".
"It is positive that festival organisers will now have an option for COVID cancellation", he added. "The scheme doesn't, however, cover a festival needing to reduce capacity or cancel due to social distancing restrictions being reintroduced, so it remains imperative that government continues to work with the sector in areas such as COVID certification to try and avoid such an eventuality, and ensure that organisers can plan with increased confidence for 2022".
Music industry comments on the UK government's state-backed COVID cancellation insurance scheme
Greg Parmley, CEO of live industry trade group LIVE: "We welcome the announcement of a government-backed insurance scheme, which we have been calling for since the start of the pandemic. We look forward to working together over the coming weeks to determine the final shape of the policy and to ensure it can support the full return of the sector in the face of the most likely impacts of COVID".
Phil Bowdery, Chairman of the Concert Promoters Association: "This is welcome news from DCMS. The sector has been calling out for government to act for over a year and we now have something tangible. While the new scheme won't cover all our risk, this intervention will help protect the industry that we all know and love".
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO of UK Music: "For months, UK Music has been warning about the catastrophic impact of the market failure in insurance for live events. The inability to obtain insurance has already caused many cancellations this summer - these have been devastating for the entire music industry and there were fears that without action we would have seen major cancellations continuing well into next year too".
"This new government scheme is therefore incredibly welcome news - not just for the millions of music fans who have been looking forward to the return of live events, but also for the tens of thousands of musicians, crew members and wider supply chain workers whose jobs depend on continued live activity".
"We are extremely grateful to government for listening to the calls of the sector and delivering a solution to the market failure in the insurance industry. Ministers deserve huge credit for action that will protect jobs, stimulate activity, and help kickstart the sector into playing a leading role in the post-pandemic economic and cultural recovery".
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association: "I am extremely pleased that the government has decided to introduce an insurance scheme for the events and festival sector, it stands testament to a government that is starting to acknowledge the varying issues within the sector and through engagement, take the appropriate action to protect businesses and jobs".
"Over 700,000 people work within this sector, it will give some comfort and certainty to supply chain and freelancers that heavily rely on this industry for their main source of income, and we would hope that with this news many will feel confident in returning to work within the sector. It is devastating that the timings of this scheme could not have been earlier, as we have already lost many amazing festivals and events to the uncertainty that this pandemic represents, but I feel that this scheme will allow a beleaguered sector to start to rebuild and plan with confidence for the future".
Denis Desmond, Chairman of Live Nation UK and Ireland: "This vital intervention from the UK government offers certainty to artists, concert and festival promoters in the live entertainment market. This is very welcome news and will help keep the sector and its employees working".
Sacha Lord, Co-Founder of the Parklife Festival and The Warehouse Project, and Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester: "I'm really pleased that the government has decided to introduce an insurance scheme for the events sector. DCMS has worked alongside and listened to event organisers throughout the crisis, and I'm grateful that they have now been able to introduce this support today".
"The events sector has been in dire straits throughout this crisis and this move will not only save hundreds of upcoming events, but will support the thousands of freelancers behind the scenes who depend on the sector for their own livelihoods. We can start to rebuild the sector with confidence, and renew the UK's status as a global leader in entertainment and cultural events".
Major record companies sue US net firm Charter for a second time
Now, if that sounds a little bit familiar, you're possibly thinking about that time the major labels sued US internet service provider Charter Communications accusing the net firm of liability for copyright infringement because of its failure to deal with repeat infringers among its customer base.
But - just to be clear - what we are talking about today is entirely different. Because this time the major labels have sued US internet service provider Charter Communications accusing the net firm of liability for copyright infringement because of its failure to deal with repeat infringers among its customer base. I'm glad we cleared that up.
The record industry has been going after a number of ISPs in the US, of course, ever since BMG successfully sued Cox Communications. In that case, BMG argued that - although ISPs are in theory protected from liability when their customers use their networks to infringe copyright because of the safe harbour in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - Cox failed to qualify for such protection.
That was mainly because the internet firm had only paid lip service to its own policies regarding repeat infringers among its userbase, policies the ISP was obliged to instigate and enforce in order to qualify for safe harbour protection.
As a result, Cox was held liable for all the BMG music that Cox customers had infringed on its networks. The majors then sued Cox too, presenting pretty much the same arguments and winning a neat billion dollars in damages. Unsurprisingly, the majors then also filed litigation against a number of other ISPs with allegedly shoddy systems for dealing with repeat infringers, and in 2019 that included Charter Communications.
That legal battle is ongoing, with Charter having failed to get the cased dismissed and then been unsuccessful when it tried to file a counterclaim against the labels over the way they go about issuing copyright notices to internet companies.
Earlier this year - as both sides in the dispute went through the discovery process - there was a side debate over whether online piracy was really a problem for the music industry anymore. Charter's lawyers seemed to be arguing that - if their client is ultimately found liable for its users' infringement - the fact that the recorded music business is doing just fine right now should be considered when any damages bill is considered.
Noting that the labels' original lawsuit related to alleged infringement that took place in 2016 or earlier, Charter's legal reps stated: "The snippet of time in which this case involves, because of the total length in the claim period, is a time when this P2P [file-sharing] issue was at its most pronounced. Today it's no longer a problem. Today plaintiffs ... are making a ton of money off of the internet streaming capabilities ... Charter's internet is actually giving them a vehicle by which they make a huge amount of money".
But, needless to say, the labels do not concur with that argument. Piracy is still a problem, they say. And do you know what else is still a problem? ISPs not dealing with repeat infringers on their networks despite receiving a flood of copyright notices from music companies, that's what.
Which brings us to the new lawsuit filed by the majors against Charter. The latest legal legal filing follows pretty much the same format as the previous one, but this lawsuit relates to infringement on the ISP's networks since 2018.
Noting the original copyright notices the labels sent Charter all the way back in 2016, the new lawsuit states: "Plaintiffs believed - or at least hoped - that in response to these notices, Charter would alter its conduct and take meaningful steps to address ongoing infringement by its subscribers. Unfortunately, that did not happen".
"Instead", it goes on, "Charter persisted in contributing to and profiting from its subscribers' infringement of plaintiffs’ copyrights through Charter's network, even after receiving plaintiffs' March and April 2016 notices of claims and, remarkably, even after plaintiffs filed the 2019 lawsuit".
Referencing the precedents set in the aforementioned Cox cases, the legal filing adds: "Charter also understood in the first half of 2016 that another ISP, Cox Communications Inc, had been found liable for contributory copyright infringement and had been denied protection from liability under the safe harbour provision of the DMCA for failing to reasonably implement a repeat infringer termination policy. Nonetheless, the infringement on Charter's network continued into and through the claim period".
The labels then say that, since 2018 - and even since the filing of the 2019 lawsuit - they have "continued to monitor and detect infringement occurring through Charter's network and sent more than 150,000 additional notices to Charter identifying specific Charter subscribers infringing plaintiffs' copyrighted works".
"Those notices advised Charter of its subscribers' blatant and systematic use of Charter's internet service to illegally download, copy, and distribute plaintiffs’ copyrighted music through BitTorrent and other online file-sharing services. Infringement of plaintiffs' works in suit from the 2019 lawsuit continued during the claim period and infringement of additional copyrighted works also occurred".
But, despite all that, "just as in the claim period in the 2019 lawsuit, Charter did nothing meaningful to address the infringement, continuing to prioritise its own profits over its legal obligations during the [new] claim period".
As for why the labels have decided to go legal a second time against the same ISP while their previous litigation is still going through the motions, well, there are a couple of possible reasons.
Firstly, it could set a precedent that net firms sued over allegedly mediocre systems for dealing with infringement and infringers on their networks need to ramp up those systems even while any litigation is continuing to go through the motions.
Plus, of course, with US copyright cases plaintiffs can push for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, and with the second lawsuit comes another list of tracks that have been allegedly infringed, potentially helping to further boost any damages pay out.
We now await to see how Charter responds.
Aaliyah estate hits out at plans to finally release singer's catalogue on streaming services
Set to begin on 20 Aug, the weekly run of Blackground reissues is set to include albums by Timbaland, JoJo, Toni Braxton, Ashley Parker Angel and Tank, as well as the 'Romeo Must Die' and 'Exit Wounds' movie soundtracks. The label's crown jewels, however, are the Aaliyah albums, which have long been out of legal circulation due to ongoing disputes between Blackground - owned by Aaliyah's uncle and former manager Barry Hankerson - and the late singer's estate.
The newly published release schedule includes Aaliyah's 'One In A Million' and 'Aaliyah' albums, plus greatest hits compilation 'Ultimate Aaliyah'. Also listed for release on 8 Oct is a compilation called 'I Care For U', thought to be a posthumous Aaliyah release executive produced by Drake and featuring contributions from Kanye West, Timbaland, Lil Wayne and more, which was recorded nearly a decade ago.
Commenting on the announcement, Hankerson said: "Blackground Records has always been about independence and ownership. From day one, we set out to shake up the music industry and partnering with a company like Empire continues that legacy. This is Blackground Records 2.0".
Empire CEO Ghazi added: "Blackground Records redefined popular music as we know it. We're happy to provide a home for Blackground Records 2.0 and help build upon their independent story".
It was a year ago when Aaliyah's estate announced that it had begun speaking to "various record labels about the status of Aaliyah's music catalogue, as well as its availability on streaming services in the near future". However, in January this year another statement suggested that legal issues continued to hold up plans to make the singer's music available.
After yesterday's announcement from Blackground and Empire, the estate issued a new statement, hitting out at what it called an "unscrupulous endeavour to release Aaliyah's music".
"Protecting Aaliyah's legacy is and will always be our focus. For 20 years, we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception with unauthorised projects targeted to tarnish. We have always been confused as to why there is such a tenacity in causing more pain alongside what we already have to cope with for the rest of our lives".
"Now, in this 20th year [since Aaliyah's death]", the statement continued, "this unscrupulous endeavour to release Aaliyah's music without any transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word - forgiveness".
Whether that offer of forgiveness means that the estate will allow these releases to go ahead despite the ongoing issues remains to be seen. It has not yet said if it will attempt to block Aaliyah's music from finally being available to stream and download - her debut, 'Age Ain't Nothing But A Number', being the only album that has ever been legally available digitally.
In a new interview with Billboard, Hankerson speaks about why most of Aaliyah's music has remained offline for so long. "Since the death of my niece", he says, "I don't have the same relationship I used to have with my sister [and estate head Diane Haughton]. We were very close when we grew up. I don't know if anybody can imagine, but when you lose a child, or a niece, that you really loved, it was difficult for my family. So a lot of things in my family changed".
"There was a conversation we had that she didn't want the music out, and whatever my sister told me, I tried to do what she wanted me to do", he goes on. "As a parent, I would understand if she did not want the music out. Because who wants to hear the voice of your daughter who's gone? So when she said that to me, I said, 'OK, we're not putting it out. I don't know when, but one day we will'. We literally packed everything up and went on to something else".
The accuracy of that explanation for why Aaliyah's catalogue has been out of circulation for so long is also a matter of dispute. However, if her music is finally made available on digital services, it will be a relief for fans and an opportunity for more people to discover these incredibly influential records.
Charli XCX to host new Radio 1 podcast, Best Song Ever
The premise of the show is that, each week, Charli XCX will ask a guest to choose the best song to soundtrack various different life situations. The result should be a playlist that perfectly matches their life. So, like 'Desert Island Discs', but much more picky.
"The reason I wanted to do this podcast is because I love talking to people, and I love exploring the emotional connection any person can have with music", says Charli XCX. "Songs that soundtrack specific moments in life can amplify and affect a moment drastically, and so I wanted to explore what those moments and songs are with some of my favourite creative people".
"In every conversation I've had, I’ve learnt something brand new about each guest, and I feel like I've gotten to know each and everyone one of them a little bit more", she adds.
An initial series of 20 episodes has been commissioned, with guests including Beabadobee, Mark Ronson, Tove Lo, Christine And The Queens and Caroline Polachek. The first episode will be available on Monday.
A streamlined Edinburgh Festival kicks off today after 2020's COVID-caused cancellation
The world's biggest cultural festival is actually several different festivals that all happen at the same time in venues all around Edinburgh, including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Edinburgh Art Festival. Edinburgh's annual film festival is also returning to an August slot this year.
Unsurprisingly, the 2021 edition of the Edinburgh Festival is something of a streamlined affair, given all the uncertainty in recent months regarding when COVID regulations would actually lift, not to mention ongoing COVID rules and travel restrictions in Scotland and elsewhere. Social distancing rules are still in force in Scotland but will end on Monday, although festival organisers stress that other COVID-safety measures will still be in place.
As a result of all that, there are significantly fewer shows than in a normal year - especially within the usually enormous Fringe - and all of the five festivals are offering a mixture of in-person and digital shows and events as part of their 2021 programmes. The latter build on the digital programmes that many members of the Edinburgh Festival community staged last August during the cancelled year.
Despite the streamlined programme, there is still lots of music happening in both the Fringe and the International Festival. The latter is running a new purpose-built outdoor music venue in Edinburgh Park which will see the likes of Erland Cooper, Anna Meredith, Damon Albarn, Nadine Shah, Laura Mvula and Thundercat play over the festival month.
Officially launching the Fringe part of the festival this morning, Shona McCarthy, CEO of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: "The Fringe is always a remarkable feat, but this year, it's nothing short of extraordinary. In the face of complex restrictions and enormous challenges, the Fringe community has created a diverse and engaging programme of over 700 shows to entertain us, bring us joy, and ultimately, do what culture does best: tell stories that help us understand where we are, what we've been through, and where we need to go".
Meanwhile, the Fringe's current President, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, added: "The Edinburgh Fringe is back! In an act of pure artistic heroism, the Fringe Society and thousands of artists, writers, dancers, actors, designers, comedians, musicians and creatives have fought to bring this festival back to the streets of glorious, glittering Edinburgh. We have a lot of time to make up for and this festival is more than ready for you".
"With hundreds of live and online events you can see as many shows in a week than you would have in the whole of last year and we are finally able to reconnect, inspire, surprise, and entertain each other like we used to", she went on. "I have never wanted to have a leaflet thrusted at me more. We're being offered a giant cultural sprinkler after a year of drought and I can't wait to jump through it, shrieking, with you all".
CMU's sister magazine ThreeWeeks Edinburgh is covering the festival as always, with show recommendations, interviews and reviews going online throughout the month at threeweeksedinburgh.com. All that coverage will also be accessible via the TW Weekly email bulletin.
Sony Music UK has made two promotions at its RCA label, with Stacey Tang becoming Executive Vice President and Damaris Rex-Taylor moving up to General Manager. "I'm delighted to have them help steer this iconic label to achieve cultural and creative success on a global scale", says RCA UK President David Dollimore.
The Weeknd has released new single 'Take My Breath'.
New Nas album 'King's Disease II' is out today, and the rapper has also released the video for a track from it, 'Rare'.
Vince Staples has released new Pokemon-themed track 'Got Em', as part of the 25th anniversary of the video game series.
Rico Nasty has released new track 'Buss'.
Black Eyed Peas have released new single 'Hit It', featuring Saweetie and Lele Pons.
Duran Duran have teamed up with Chai for new single 'More Joy'. "[Chai's] energy and pure sense of fun might actually blow your ears off", says Simon Le Bon of the Japanese band. "We are honoured to have them sprinkle their pink neon magic spikey dust onto our song".
Luke Hemmings has released new single 'Place In Me'. His debut solo album, 'When Facing The Things We Turn Away From', is out next week.
Jorja Smith has released new single 'All Of This'. "It's all about someone who doesn't deserve you and thinking wow, you really had all of me once, ew", she says.
Big Red Machine have released new single 'Mimi', featuring Ilsey.
Yendry has released new single 'You', featuring Damian Marley.
Eurovision winner Måneskin have released a new version of their song 'I Wanna Be Your Slave', featuring Iggy Pop. "Måneskin gave me a big hot buzz", says Mr Pop.
Julie Campbell (aka LoneLady), Stephen Mallinder (Wrangler, Cabaret Voltaire) and Benge (Wrangler, John Foxx) have teamed up - as Campbell Mallinder Bange - and recorded an album together. Titled 'Clinker', it'll be out on 13 Oct. Here's their first single 'Camouflage'.
GIGS & TOURS
DJ Shadow has announced three shows in Bristol, Brighton and Manchester next month to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the release of his 'Endtroducing' album. Tickets are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kanye West holds second Donda listening event, no sign of the album on streaming services yet though
While the first listening session two weeks ago saw West wander around the stadium floor alone, this one was more of a production. With the centre of the stadium set up to mimic the sparse living quarters West has occupied within the venue complex while continuing work on the album, he was circled by hundreds of dancers dressed in black.
A good mix of spectacular and odd then. And reviewers who attended both stadium events seem to think that the two week delay has resulted in a much better album. But, what do the general public think now that 'Donda' is finally available on all the streaming services? They think nothing! Because, as I think everyone deep down really expected, the album has not yet been released.
Although reps for West had promised that the album would be out today, following the second listening event, it has not yet appeared. However, a pre-order page has now been set up on iTunes. The page initially listed the release date as 9 Aug, although that has now been revised to 7 Aug.
Does that mean we'll finally get to hear this album properly at some point this weekend? I'm not sure you should be clearing your diary. Let's all just look forward to the next listening party on, presumably, 19 Aug, at which point it will probably have been re-worked as a bluegrass record.
Right now, your best bet is to watch this new Beats By Dre advert, which features a bit of a new West and Dr Dre track called 'Glory'.