|THURSDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Apple has announced a concession in its App Store rules that will allow companies like Spotify and Netflix to include a link within their iOS apps directing people to web pages where they can sign up for a subscription. The rule change is the result of action taken by the fair trade regulator in Japan. Though a new law just passed in South Korea might end up having a much bigger impact... [READ MORE]|
Apple to allow Spotify and Netflix to link app users to payment websites from next year
The rules enforced by both Apple and Google over companies that make apps for use on iOS and Android powered devices have been criticised for years, of course, but have come under ever increasing scrutiny in the last couple of years. The rule most opposed by app-makers is that in-app payments have to be made via Apple and Google's commission-charging transaction platforms.
Regulators in multiple countries have been scrutinising these rules of late, including in the European Union on the back of a formal complaint by Spotify, which accuses Apple of anti-competitive conduct. Meanwhile, lawsuits have also been filed in multiple courts around the world, with the litigation pursued against Apple by Fortnite maker Epic Games probably getting the most press.
The big rule change announced by Apple yesterday was the result of an investigation by Japan's Fair Trade Commission. One of the big gripes for Spotify and Netflix has often been that - not only are they obliged to take in-app payments via Apple's platform - but they can't even signpost alternative payment options outside of the app, such as on their websites.
From next year Spotify and Netflix will be able to add a link within their apps to alternative payment options of that kind. Although the rule change will only apply to so called 'reader apps', which are basically apps that allow people to access digital content like books, podcasts, music and videos that has either been previously purchased or which is accessed via a subscription. So none of this helps Epic Games.
Apple said in a statement yesterday: "To ensure a safe and seamless user experience, the App Store's guidelines require developers to sell digital services and subscriptions using Apple's in-app payment system. Because developers of reader apps do not offer in-app digital goods and services for purchase, Apple agreed with the JFTC to let developers of these apps share a single link to their website to help users set up and manage their account".
It added: "While the agreement was made with the JFTC, Apple will apply this change globally to all reader apps on the store. Reader apps provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video".
Meanwhile, Apple's Phil Schiller said: "Trust on the App Store is everything to us. The focus of the App Store is always to create a safe and secure experience for users, while helping them find and use great apps on the devices they love. We have great respect for the Japan Fair Trade Commission and appreciate the work we've done together, which will help developers of reader apps make it easier for users to set up and manage their apps and services, while protecting their privacy and maintaining their trust".
It's the second change to Apple's App Store rules announced in recent days. Last week Apple confirmed that it would also amend its rules to explicitly confirm that app-makers can directly email their users and signpost them to alternative payment options. That rule change was part of a proposed settlement to one of the lawsuits that has been filed over the App Store rules, an American class action referred to as Cameron et al v Apple Inc.
Apple explained last week: "To give developers even more flexibility to reach their customers, Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app. As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Store. Users must consent to the communication and have the right to opt out".
Although these rule changes do address some of the issues previously raised by Spotify, the streaming firm was keen to stress yesterday that some issues remain. A spokesperson said, simply, "a limited anti-steering fix does not solve all our issues".
Meanwhile on Twitter, Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney said: "In Apple's carefully-worded statement on safety, it's hard to discern the rationale that [the rule change for 'reader apps'] is safe, while Fortnite accepting direct payments remains unsafe".
He added: "Apple should open up iOS on the basis of hardware, stores, payments, and services each competing individually on their merits. Instead, they're running a literally day-by-day recalculation of divide-and-conquer in hopes of getting away with most of their tying practices".
All of which means Spotify, Netflix, Epic and the wider app-making community will continue to watch closely the ongoing regulator investigations in Europe and elsewhere, and the ongoing litigation, in particular the outcome of the Epic v Apple case in the US.
Alongside all that, they'll also be monitoring the implementation of a new law in South Korea which out-right bans Apple and Google from forcing all in-app payments to be taken through their proprietary platforms. Passed by the country's national assembly earlier this week, that law will come into effect once signed off by President Moon Jae-in, whose party very much endorsed the move.
Although obviously only applicable within South Korea, app-makers will be hoping this new law will ultimately be replicated elsewhere in the world. Needless to say, on this development Sweeney approves. He tweeted: "Korea has rejected digital commerce monopolies and recognised open platforms as a right. This marks a major milestone in the 45 year history of personal computing. It began in Cupertino, but the forefront today is in Seoul".
PayPerformers says the "contractual system" for sharing out streaming income isn't working
That latter argument, it adds, is informed by the new CMU-produced guide 'Performer Payments From Streaming', which explains all the complexities around how performers share - or not - in the revenues generated by music and audio-visual streaming services.
In most countries, if and how performers earn when recordings and productions that feature their performances are streamed depends entirely on the contracts they negotiate with the producer, studio, broadcaster or record label that controls the copyright in each recording and production.
The new CMU guide - which was commissioned by PayPerformers - sets out to explain how those contracts generally work across Europe.
In the audio-visual domain, in a small number of countries those contracts have traditionally provided extra payments if programmes are rebroadcast or licensed to other broadcasters, and in some cases that principle has been extended to when programmes are streamed.
However, in most European countries, TV and movie contracts don't traditionally provide any such rights, meaning performers often earn nothing when programmes they previously appeared in are made available via streaming services.
In music, session musicians likewise don't usually have any contractural rights that allow them to share in streaming monies. However so called featured artists do, of course, even when they sign with a label that becomes the copyright owner in their recordings. However, quite how that works varies greatly from label to label, and deal to deal.
An artist may also have signed their record deal before streaming was a thing, meaning royalty provisions designed for a disc selling business have to be applied to a very different form of music consumption. As a result, artists on those older deals often make less money - sometimes much less money - when their music is streamed.
All of this means that - although featured artists earn from streaming - the share of the total digital pie they receive varies greatly across the industry. However, the new guide explains how an artist who signed a conventional record deal in recent years is likely to receive approximately 8.4% of any monies allocated to their recordings by a streaming service. Artists on older record deals are more likely to see 5% or less.
"The current contractual system is not delivering fair remuneration for performers", PayPerformers stated yesterday. "CMU was able to confirm what had been known approximately before – actors generally receive nothing from streaming services, session musicians earn nothing, while featured artists earn between 5-8% on average of revenues generated by streaming".
This is because, it added, performers are "in a weak negotiating position" when initially negotiating deals with producers, studios, broadcasters and labels. "Consequently, performers have not benefitted from the [streaming-led] sector boom at all. The system is broken, leaving actors, singers and musicians helpless and in dire need of a coordinated change throughout EU member states".
Like the #brokenrecord and #fixstreaming campaigns in the UK, PayPerformers has long argued that there should be a unwaivable remuneration right for performers in copyright law that is linked to streaming, similar to that which already exists when music is broadcast or performed in public, and - in some countries - when TV programmes are broadcast or retransmitted.
PayPerformers yesterday cited article eighteen of the 2019 European Copyright Directive which says that performers should "receive appropriate and proportionate remuneration" from the exploitation of their works.
"PayPerformers urges member states to provide performers with 'appropriate and proportionate remuneration' as required by article eighteen of the Digital Single Market Directive", it wrote in a blog post. "The best mechanism for providing fair remuneration is with an unwaivable remuneration right, subject to collective management".
PayPerformers previously endorsed the UK-based campaigns calling for performer ER to be applied to streams. An ER system was also recommended in the recent 'Economics Of Streaming' report published by the UK Parliament's culture select committee, one member of which - Kevin Brennan MP - is currently working on a private members bill that would change UK copyright law to that effect.
Although some in the wider music community - especially labels - have criticised those proposals, arguing that there are better ways to address any issues with the current system by which the digital pie is sliced between different stakeholders across the industry.
However, PayPerformers concluded yesterday: "An unwaivable remuneration right, subject to collective management, is the only way that member states can guarantee that performers will receive fair remuneration from streaming. This is the solution that is requested by performers throughout the EU".
Marilyn Manson enters not guilty plea in assault case
The musician was arrested in July over an outstanding warrant linked to the alleged incident. He was charged with two counts of simple assault, following claims by videographer Susan Fountain - who was filming a show at the Bank Of New Hampshire Pavilion in August 2019 - that he spat into the lens on her during his performance, also splashing saliva and snot onto her hands.
Manson's attorney Howard King has previously called the accusations against his client in this case "ludicrous", saying: "It is no secret to anyone who has attended a Marilyn Manson concert that he likes to be provocative on stage, especially in front of a camera".
"This misdemeanour claim was pursued after we received a demand from a venue videographer for more than $35,000 after a small amount of spit came into contact with their arm", he went on. "After we asked for evidence of any alleged damages, we never received a reply".
An arraignment hearing was scheduled to take place today so that the charges could be formally confirmed, but yesterday an attorney for Manson filed his not guilty plea and a wavier of arraignment. The next pre-trial hearing is set to take place on 27 Dec.
As well as this criminal case, Manson is also currently facing four civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault.
NTIA hits out again as government ploughs on with requirement for COVID Passports in clubs
There had been reports of disagreement within the government regarding those plans and some confusion over whether they were definitely happening. But a spokesperson for Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson confirmed on Tuesday that his policy on this matter remains unchanged, and that the COVID Passport requirement will still go into effect as previously announced.
Since most COVID restrictions were lifted in England in July - allowing clubs to reopen and full capacity shows to resume - venues and events have been able to decide for themselves whether they ask customers to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID and/or have had a recent negative COVID test.
But as those restrictions lifted, Johnson said that he would introduce the COVID Passport requirement for some clubs and venues, but that he was putting off that requirement for a couple of months, in part to give clubbers time to get vaccinated.
The NTIA has criticised that plan ever since, and put out another statement following this week's update from Johnsons's spokesperson. The organisation's CEO, Michael Kill, said yesterday: "Confirmation that the government will continue to press on with the COVID Passport strategy for nightclubs and indoor gatherings, even against a furious backlash from MPs across the House Of Commons and industry leaders, is disappointing as it will cripple the industry".
"Surely the government can see this is not workable", he added. "The challenges are endless, and the sector will be hit extremely hard by this decision, embroiled in discrimination cases, staffing and supply chain shortages ... and so on. [And] the government's attempt to differentiate between businesses within our sector is extremely difficult, even for people who live and breathe this industry".
"Whether it be market segmentation or capacity limits, it's not a workable position, there are too many variables and the businesses are too diverse, it cannot be easily categorised", he went on. "The government needs to listen to real operators who can give them real feedback on these challenges, these policy decisions will have a catastrophic impact on people's livelihoods and careers".
Tencent confirms its exclusivity deals have been cancelled
The Tencent music business is, of course, the biggest player in the Chinese digital music market. That dominance was partly achieved by the series of exclusive licensing deals it negotiated with a number of domestic and international record companies, including all three majors.
Those deals meant that Tencent could not only use its licensing partners' recordings on all three of its streaming services – QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music – but it was also the exclusive distribution partner of that music within the Chinese market. Which meant that competing streaming services either had to go without that catalogue or they had to negotiate licensing deals with their main rival.
It was an unusual situation that even the Chinese regulator eventually decided was anti-competitive. And in July the country's State Administration Of Market Regulation – which has been cracking down on anti-competitive conduct across China's tech sector – announced a ruling forcing Tencent Music to bring to an end most of its exclusive licensing deals within a month.
Some of those arrangements had already come to an end, in part as a result of past pressure from SAMR, with both Sony Music and Universal Music having already entered into direct deals with NetEase, for example. But the latest regulator ruling means that Tencent won't be able to enjoy any exclusivity benefits moving forward, except via narrower partnerships with specific independent artists.
Tencent confirmed that all its licensing partners have now been notified about the deal changes in a post on one of its official WeChat accounts earlier this week.
Elbow to release album recorded in closed theatre during lockdown
"Hiring a two hundred year old theatre that has never in its history been closed for so long was something that could only be done under the circumstances", says vocalist Guy Garvey. "[It was] nice to turn it on its head in that way. Recording in a splendid generous space with no audience was something that throws an anchor in the times that the record was made in".
The creation of the album began, he says, after the members of the band started sending "little love notes" to each other, that were developed into songs over a period of months.
"We realised we were making a record free of the usual creative guidelines", he goes on. "We love patient, quiet, whole albums like the last Talk Talk records, John Martyns 'Sold Air' and 'Bless The Weather', PJ Harvey's 'Is This Desire', 'Chet Baker Sings', the Blue Nile's 'Hats'. Kate Bush's 'Hounds Of Love' and Van Morrison's 'Astral Weeks'".
"We've always written songs like this, but it felt natural to make an album that focuses on the gentler side of our music", he continues. "There have been challenges, but through them writing together remotely was a lifeline. It’s bruised and wistful, nostalgic, and thankful. We're so lucky that all our family and friends are safe. It's about that love".
Writing the songs also became a way to update each other on how they were doing in lockdown, he says: "We don't phone each other for a chat. We don't talk about life outside the music until we're together. These hushed night-time missives told us how each other were doing. When we finally got together, all that was to do was record the songs, honour them with amazing additional singers and players in a gorgeous space and catch up. It was beautiful".
The album will be out on 19 Nov. Here's a short video going behind the scenes of its creation.
The Association Of Independent Music has partnered with SonicData to help independent labels to monitor when their music is broadcast, utilising the firm's SonicKey digital watermark technology. "Accurate broadcast use data available through the dashboard will help AIM members to make time-critical content, marketing and touring decisions", says AIM COO Gee Davy. "All of it without cost to our members. This is real transparency and empowerment for music rightsholders".
Utopia - a technology company that is developing a platform to help the music industry better manage its rights and royalties - has appointed Roberto Neri - formerly of Downtown Music and the current Chair of the UK's Music Publishers Association - as its Chief Operating Officer. "Joining a company with such great minds, all dedicated to helping every touch point across the music industry and enhancing value for creators is the perfect role for me", he says.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
YouTube Music now has 50 million paying subscribers, according to sources who have spoken to the Financial Times. Like Amazon, YouTube has seen significant growth of its subscription music service in the last year. Even if that 50 million presumably includes people who actually sign up to YouTube Premium to get rid of the annoying ads on the main platform and never really get round using the bundled in YouTube Music account.
Spotify has announced a partnership with Philips Hue, which will allow you to sync up your smart lightbulbs with your favourite music. Or even music you think's shit. Whatever, get ready for a living room disco. The function is being rolled out to Hue app users as we speak. Lucky them.
Elton John will release new album 'The Lockdown Sessions' on 22 Oct. It will feature collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Dua Lipa, Lil Nas X, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Years & Years, Gorillaz, Eddie Vedder, Rina Sawayama, Stevie Nicks, Young Thug, and more. "The last thing I expected to do during lockdown was make an album", he says. "But, as the pandemic went on, one‐off projects kept cropping up. All the tracks I worked on were really interesting and diverse, stuff that was completely different to anything I’m known for, stuff that took me out of my comfort zone into completely new territory".
Damon Albarn has released new solo single 'Particles'.
Johnny Marr has released new single 'Spirit Power And Soul'. The track is taken from his upcoming new album, 'Fever Dreams Parts 1-4'.
Lindsey Buckingham has released new single 'Scream'. His eponymous new solo album is out on 17 Sep.
Rosalía and Tokischa have teamed up for new track 'Linda'.
Zeal & Ardor have released new single 'Bow', and announced that their eponymous new album will be out on 11 Feb 2022. The band will also be supporting Meshuggah in the UK and Ireland in May and June next year.
Injury Reserve have released new track 'Superman That'. Their new album, 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix', is out on 15 Sep.
Charmaine has released the video for 'A Mi Manera' from her 'Hood Avant Garde' EP.
Joe And The Shitboys are back with new single 'Pull The Trigger'. "You know those people, typically men, typically straight, typically white, that say the most offensive things online and call people snowflakes, but then start crying about free speech whenever their hateful rhetoric is contested?" says Joe. "That's who 'Pull The Trigger' is about".
GIGS & TOURS
Disclosure have announced three London shows at Heaven, Brixton Academy and Alexandra Palace in March next year. They will be their first shows in the city for seven years.
Girl In Red will be playing a secret show in London on Friday. She will be handing out free tickets at Boxpark in Shoreditch at 2pm today, if you fancy going along.
The Divine Comedy will tour the UK and Ireland in April and May next year in support of new best of compilation 'Charmed Life', which is out on 4 Feb. "I've been luckier than most", says Neil Hannon. "I get to sing songs to people for a living and they almost always applaud. So when asked what to call this collection I thought of 'Charmed Life'. I like the song and it rather sums up how I feel about my life".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ronnie James Dio hologram retires
"[The hologram] was well received sometimes, sometimes not - it all depends on the people", says Dio's wife and manager Wendy Dio, in an interview with Kazagastão. "The problem with the hologram, and it's great - and I won't say never say never again - but it costs so much money".
"You can only go into certain venues because of the height of it and the size of it", she adds. "It's too expensive to travel, so therefore we couldn't come to Brazil, couldn't come to South America, couldn't go to Japan, couldn't go to Europe with it. So it limits you so much".
This doesn't mean the end of Dio's posthumous performances though. He will just be in a more two dimensional form for his future shows. Wendy Dio explains that she has unearthed a multi-camera shoot of a full live show, in which one of the cameras follows the musician for the full performance.
"We took that, and we're making this [new film for live shows] with special effects", she says. "So it won't be a hologram - it'll be a film of Ronnie himself with the Dio live band and special effects. So we're working on that. And that we can take anywhere".
So, if you've been longing to see Ronnie James Dio 'live', don't give up just yet. Though if it's holograms that you're excited about, you might have to switch your musical allegiances to Abba.