|TUESDAY 31 AUGUST 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: As the big debate on the economics of streaming continues, today CMU Insights has published a new guide explaining if and how performers get paid whenever their performances are streamed - whether those are musical or audio-visual performances... [READ MORE]|
CMU publishes new guide on performer payments from streaming
The digital pie debate in music - ie how digital monies are shared out between stakeholders across the music community - has been a big talking point ever since it became clear that streaming was turning into the biggest recorded music revenue stream. In the last year, that specific discussion also dominated the 'Economics Of Streaming' inquiry in the UK Parliament.
A similar debate is also occurring in the audio-visual sector. While for the TV and movie industries subscription streaming remains a relatively small part of the business, it is also the fastest growing revenue stream by quite some margin, with the global streaming platforms in particular becoming increasingly powerful, as both distributors and producers of content.
All these debates require an understanding of how performers are currently paid when their performances are streamed. To help ensure that everyone has that knowledge, PayPerformers commissioned CMU Insights to produce and publish a user-friendly guide to how performer payments work with both music and audio-visual services.
In most cases, if and how performers share in the monies generated by streaming services like those run by Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Spotify depends entirely on the deal each performer has done with a producer, studio, broadcaster or record label. Conventions differ between the music and audio-visual sectors, and from country to country. And in music, there are all sorts of complexities around record deals that also impact on royalty payments.
When music is broadcast or performed in public, artists and musicians have statutory rights to payment through the collective licensing system. And in some countries, actors enjoy similar remuneration rights from the broadcast and/or retransmission of audio-visual productions in which they perform. However, in most cases, those statutory rights do not apply to streaming.
Whether or not they should is another big part of the digital pie - and wider economics of streaming - debate, of course, both in the UK and all over Europe.
The new guide explains how everything currently works, when performers get paid from streams, and how those payments are calculated along the way. It's based on a series of interviews with managers, lawyers and accountants in multiple European countries – with additional insights from performer unions and societies across the continent.
It also runs through all the variables, especially when it comes to featured artists in the music industry, and the various challenges and issues artists and managers have raised with record deals in recent years, especially when old deals have been applied to new revenue streams.
Movie companies busy filing repeat infringer litigation now targeting VPNs
There are various reasons why people use VPNs - or virtual private networks - when accessing the internet, of course. And the VPNs themselves would probably be keen to stress that the primary motivation is the increased privacy and security they provide for people surfing around the scary old world wide web.
However, a user might actually use a VPN mainly to mask their identity when accessing or sharing copyright infringing content. Or so that they appear to be accessing the internet from another country, so to circumvent any web-blocking or geo-blocking that impacts on what websites and content they can access in their home country.
All of which makes VPNs a concern for copyright owners. And even more so to the movie business, where the geo-blocking of content is much more common. And some VPNs explicitly promote their services by telling potential customers that they will be able to get around any geo-blocking currently being forced upon the world by the movie and TV companies, so - for example - to access films and shows available on Netflix in one country but not another.
The new lawsuit filed with the courts in Virgina targets Surfshark, VPN Unlimited, Zenmate, and ExpressVPN, and states: "Defendants advertise their service for allowing their subscribers to bypass regional restrictions of streaming platforms to stream copies of copyright protected content including plaintiffs’ works from locations plaintiffs have not authorised the platform to stream the works".
Of concern to the wider copyright industries are those people who use VPNs in order to hide their identities when using piracy services. The plaintiffs say that they have sent over 32,000 copyright notices linked to allegedly infringing conduct on the four targeted VPNs via a hosting company they all use, Virginia-headquartered Leaseweb Inc. Those notices were forwarded to the defendants, they claim, but action was not taken.
The VPNs will almost certainly argue that, because of the way they are set up, they can't connect any of the specific copyright notices to any specific users. Which means, unlike an internet service provider, a VPN can't take action against repeat infringers among its customer base, because it doesn't know who the specific infringers are.
But, the plaintiffs say, that's only because the VPNs have chosen to set up their systems in that way. The lawsuit states: "Defendants have the capability to log their subscribers' access to their VPN service but purposely delete the logged information or set up their system so that the logged information is deleted so that they can promote their service as a means to pirate copyright protected works anonymously".
Therefore, the argument goes, the VPNs could identify and take action against repeat infringers among their user bases if they wanted to. And, the plaintiffs add, they should want to, because dealing with repeat infringers is a requirement to benefit from the good old copyright safe harbour.
No workable repeat infringer policy means no safe harbour protection means the targeted VPNs - the movie producers conclude - should be held liable for their users' copyright infringement. And the producers would like some lovely damages as a result.
While the recent lawsuits filed by this movie-making collective against the ISPs pretty much replicate the arguments previously made by the record companies (albeit with some extra sanctions requested), this new lawsuit throws up some interesting new questions - mainly technical questions - regarding the obligations of VPNs. Which means it will be interesting to watch if things proceed to court.
Academy Music Group acquires Edinburgh Corn Exchange
"We've been keen to expand our O2 Academy brand in Scotland for some time and we're delighted to now be in Edinburgh, it's an inspiring city with a thriving appetite for music and culture", says Graham Walters, Chief Operating Officer at the Live Nation-allied Academy Music Group.
"We see huge potential with this venue, it fits with our ethos of investing in heritage buildings, with the right capacity of 3000 to bring world-class entertainment to the city", he adds. "It also has a number of diverse secondary spaces, flexible formats and configurations that we'll be looking at over the coming months to complement programming and events in the main auditorium".
The 112 year old listed building was bought by Marco's Leisure in 1999 and converted into a 3000 capacity music-centric venue. Opening with a headline show by Blur, it went on to host Foo Fighters, Oasis, Coldplay, Faithless, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Calvin Harris and more. Although, in more recent years it tended to be used more for private parties, conferences and other non-music events.
Managing Director of Marco's Leisure, Paul DeMarco, says: "When Marco's Leisure bought the Corn Exchange 22 years ago, we started with a plan to be Edinburgh's go-to concert venue and ran over 300 live shows, as well as welcoming three million visitors to gigs, conferences, banquets, weddings, exhibitions and parties, creating one of the busiest and most successful venues in Scotland".
"We are happy to pass on the baton to the top professionals in the live music industry who will ensure it continues to play a major role in Scotland's events industry for many more years to come", he goes on. "Marco's will continue to operate and expand its leisure business".
The venue's first show under its new ownership will be headlined by Declan McKenna on 3 Sep. The Corn Exchange - sorry, O2 Academy Edinburgh - is Academy Music Group's second venue in Scotland, it having operated the O2 Academy Glasgow since 2003.
Apple boosts classical music credentials by buying Primephonic
For various reasons, the more mainstream streaming services like Apple Music aren't particularly great if you primarily listen to classical music. Which created a gap in the market that Primephonic sought to fill. Now Apple hopes to use its new acquisition's genre expertise to do that gap filling itself, initially by doing classical better within its main music app, and then by launching the genre-specific app.
"With the addition of Primephonic, Apple Music subscribers will get a significantly improved classical music experience beginning with Primephonic playlists and exclusive audio content", the tech giant said when announcing the deal.
"In the coming months", it added, "Apple Music Classical fans will get a dedicated experience with the best features of Primephonic, including better browsing and search capabilities by composer and by repertoire, detailed displays of classical music metadata, plus new features and benefits".
Confirming the deal, Apple Music VP Oliver Schusser said: "We love and have a deep respect for classical music, and Primephonic has become a fan favourite for classical enthusiasts. Together, we're bringing great new classical features to Apple Music, and in the near future, we'll deliver a dedicated classical experience that will truly be the best in the world".
Meanwhile, Primephonic co-Founder and CEO Thomas Steffens added: "Bringing the best of Primephonic to Apple Music subscribers is a tremendous development for the classical music industry. Artists love the Primephonic service and what we’ve done in classical, and now we have the ability to join with Apple to deliver the absolute best experience to millions of listeners. We get to bring classical music to the mainstream and connect a new generation of musicians with the next generation of audience".
The standalone Primephonic service will go offline from 7 Sep. Apple is hoping that adding Primephonic playlists and exclusives to its main music app - and allowing Primephonic subscribers to use it all for free for the next six months - will keep said subscribers happy until the bespoke classical app is ready.
Lee 'Scratch' Perry dies
The Jamaican Observer reported on Sunday that Perry had died that morning at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Jamaica. No cause of death has yet been made public.
Leading the many tributes, Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a statement: "Undoubtedly, today Jamaica has lost the rhythm and soul of a prolific icon who has inspired many. Lee 'Scratch' Perry was truly one of the most important and creative figures to have come out of Jamaica".
Perry's career in music began in the 1950s, at first working on the industry side before becoming a recording artist for the Studio One label. Following a dispute with label owner Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, he moved to Joe Gibbs's Amalgamated Records. After a similar falling out with Gibbs, he founded his own Upsetter label in 1968. There he scored his first hit, 'People Funny Boy', the title an insult directed at Gibbs.
As well as being popular in Jamaica, Perry began to become known in the UK too, aided by his unusual production techniques, which led to the creation of the dub genre. In the early 70s he built his Black Ark studio in his back garden, increasing his output and working with numerous artists, including The Congos and Bob Marley And The Wailers.
In the late 1980s he found a new audience when he began working with British producers Adrian Sherwood and Mad Professor. And he reached an even larger international audience when he appeared on Beastie Boys' 1998 album 'Hello Nasty' on a track called 'Dr Lee, PhD'.
Beastie Boy Mike D was one of those who paid tribute following the announcement of Perry's death, writing on Instagram: "We send the most love and respect we can to Lee Perry who passed today, to his family and loved ones and the many he influenced with his pioneering spirit and work. We are truly grateful to have been inspired by and collaborated with this true legend. Let us all listen to his deep catalogue in tribute".
Kobalt has announced the hiring of Cee Barrett as Director, Creative. "Kobalt has a strong track record of helping artists and songwriters grow early in their career and Cee's experience and strong talent discovery ability make him a perfect complement to the global team as we strive to continuously enhance the support we give our clients", says Chief Creative Officer Sas Metcalfe.
Sony Music's RCA Records in the US has announced the appointment of Carolyn Williams to the newly created role of Executive Vice President. She will also continue to lead RCA’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Universal Music Publishing Nashville has promoted Missy Roberts to Vice President, A&R. "Universal Music Publishing is home to the absolute best-in-class creators, leadership and culture", she says. "Everything we do is designed to make sure songwriters are always first. None of us succeed or grow without belief. Universal Music's belief in me is inspiring and humbling at the same time".
DIGTAL & D2F SERVICES
Abba have joined TikTok and made their music available on the platform, ahead of that imminent release of some new tracks from the legendary group. There's also an official Abba challenge to get the ball rolling. "Our community have already shown us with their own creations that this is the music they've been waiting for and we're excited to see how Abba can inspire a new generation of fans, sparking yet another wave of music creativity with the hits that have defined pop for so long", says Paul Hourican, TikTok's Head Of Music Operations.
Kate NV has released new track 'D D Don't' as part of the Adult Swim Singles Club. She is also set to release an instrumental version of her 'Room For The Moon' album on 24 Sep.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kanye West claims Universal released Donda without his approval
After the 27 track, nearly two hours long album hit streaming services, West posted on Instagram: "Universal put my album out without my approval and they blocked 'Jail 2' from being on the album".
'Jail 2' is an alternate version of the first proper track on 'Donda', which sees a verse by Jay-Z replaced by one from DaBaby and also features Marilyn Manson. The new version was unveiled at the third listening event for the album in Chicago last week - where both recently controversial artists were in attendance - but it was not available to stream for a time after the album was released.
There was speculation that the major label had pulled the track from the album to avoid a backlash over the guest acts' inclusion. DaBaby was recently criticised for homophobic comments made on stage at a festival, while Marilyn Manson has been accused of sexual assault by several women, four of whom are currently suing him.
However, later West posted screenshots of two text message conversations claiming that the issue with 'Jail 2' was in fact that DaBaby's team had not given clearance for the track to be released. Although that's something DaBaby's manager Arnold Taylor has denied.
In his own Instagram post, Taylor wrote: "This is [a lie], I woke up this morning to this social media bullshit. I never got a call or email from Kanye West [or his managers Bu Thiam and John Monopoly]. I just received [the track] today and cleared it in two seconds. Why wouldn't I want a hit song out when [my company South Coast Music Group] is all about the growth and culture of hip hop and my artist! To all of the media blogs and outlets don't believe everything you see in a post, thank you!"
'Jail 2' was one of several last minute tracks to be added to 'Donda', of course. Originally scheduled to come out last year, it was announced in July that the album would finally be released after a playback event at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium that month. However, although the event went ahead, the album release did not, and it then emerged that West had set up a makeshift studio backstage at the venue in order to continue working on the record.
A second listening event was then scheduled two weeks later with a new promise that a release would happen the following weekend, but again the album did not appear.
Finally, that third event took place at Chicago's Soldier Field stadium last week and the frequently updating expected release date on an iTunes pre-order page finally settled on 29 Aug. So it should have been no surprise really - not least to Kanye himself - when the album came out on that day. I mean, presumably he delivered the most recent version of the record to his team at the Universal. What did he think they were going to do with it?
The good news is that all the drama around this album, which has had us all gripped over the summer, is finally over. Although, it has to be said, the album itself does not make a satisfying conclusion. Straining under the weigh of its lengthy tracklist and runtime, it takes considerable stamina and dedication to get through it all - or even just the first ten tracks (if you want to pretend it's a normal album).
Repetitive and aimless, West could really have done with spending more time editing rather than adding to the album over that extra month or so.
Who knows, having already focus-grouped the album with the three playbacks, maybe he's going to monitor reactions now it has a global audience and then whittle it down to the best 45 minutes. Probably not, but are we really ready for this story to just fizzle out now?