|FRIDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify has expanded a little on its response to the App Store rule concessions announced by Apple in the last week, explaining why - while welcome - those concessions do not go far enough. Or, in the words of Spotify boss Daniel Ek, "this is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't solve the problem"... [READ MORE]|
Spotify welcomes Apple App Store concessions, but sets out its other demands
Apple announced this week that, from next year, it will allow so called 'reader apps' - such as Spotify - to include a link within their iOS apps that direct users to alternative payment options. Alternative, that is, to taking in-app payments, where app makers are obliged to use Apple's commission-charging transactions platform.
Spotify, of course, has been very vocal in recent years about its opposition to various rules enforced by the Apple App Store, arguing that the tech giant uses the rules to give its own streaming service an unfair advantage. The rule moaned about most loudly is that obligation to use Apple's transactions platform for any in-app payments. Restrictions on sign-posting alternative ways to pay outside the app is then a secondary moan.
The latter is being addressed by Apple as a result of an investigation into the App Store rules by the Fair Trade Commission in Japan. The rule change allowing app makers to link to other payment options is part of a settlement with the Japanese regulator, although it will apply globally.
That rule change followed another announced last week as part of a different settlement, in that case linked to a class action lawsuit pursued by app makers in the US. Apple will amend its rules to clarify that app-makers can also email users with information about how to make payments outside the iOS eco-system.
All of this addresses some of the issues previously raised by Spotify. Though - in a chart posted by the firm's Chief Legal Officer yesterday - the streaming company notes that limitation to the rule change regarding in-app links, ie that it will only apply to 'reader apps'.
Those are apps that provide access to content like books, podcasts, music and videos that has either been previously purchased or which is accessed via a subscription. So that covers Spotify and Netflix, but not the other high profile App Store rule critic, Fortnite maker Epic Games.
That limitation means that the rule changes announced this week are "narrow in scope", Spotify argues. Which in turn means Spotify itself will be restricted in how it uses those new flexibilities. And not all of its allies in the "App Store Rules Are Wrong" camp will benefit. Nor might future manifestations of Spotify.
The aforementioned chart also lists some of the other changes Spotify would like to see, noting that all of those changes would be forced by the Open App Markets Act that was proposed by members of US Congress last month.
That includes the removal of the requirement to use Apple's system for in-app payments, plus obligations on Apple to grant all app developers equal access to its platforms, and to not prioritise its own apps in its store or utilise business information gathered via said store to gain competitive advantage.
Adding his take on Apple's announcements and his company's demands chart, Ek said in his own tweet: "This is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't solve the problem. App developers want clear, fair rules that apply to all apps. Our goal is to restore competition once and for all, not one arbitrary, self-serving step at a time. We will continue to push for a real solution".
Warner's ADA allies with new label Never Seven
It's the second ADA deal involving Eldridge in less than a month. He's also backing the label offshoot of radio station Foundation.fm, which aims to improve the gender balance in broadcasting and to champion underground female music talent. FFM Records also allied with ADA last month.
Talking about their ADA deal, the Never Seven founders - Srih and Quann-Barnett - say in a joint statement: "We're incredibly excited to be working with the forward-thinking team at ADA to deliver the vision for our label. We're passionate about providing a platform to pioneer innovative artists, an ethos that we've already seen is shared by both Sam and Warner Music UK. There's no better team to actualise our ambition, and we can't wait for everyone to see what's next".
Speaking for Warner Music UK, CEO Tony Harlow adds: "The partnership with Never Seven allows us to not only extend our relationship with Sam, but enables us to keep championing independent voices that deserve to be heard. Everyone at WMUK and ADA is looking forward to working with Jasmine and George to bring these unique voices to a global audience".
Meanwhile Eldridge chips in: “Jasmine and George’s ability to tap into the musical zeitgeist and identity exciting new talent that will connect with audiences is impressive. We're incredibly ambitious for Never Seven, and I'm looking forward to working with Warner Music and the ADA team to propel these artists to greatness".
The first releases from Never Seven come from Joviale and Kezia.
FUGA's new joint venture in Japan goes live
The company announced this week that its new ten-strong Space Shower FUGA team will be headed up by Tamaki Yamashita, who joined Space Shower Networks in 2011 via its acquisition of another distributor called BounDEE.
Commenting on her new role at the company, Yamashita says: "We are now ready to provide support to great Japanese music and artists to reach the truly global market through unrivalled collaboration between FUGA's technology and international marketing and Space Shower's local expertise and trust. The service launch is just the beginning, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with FUGA".
Yamashita and her team will be supported by the two parent companies, who also have reps on the board of Space Shower FUGA, with Yoshito Hayashi and Koichi Sato from the Space Shower side, and Pieter Van Rijn and Christiaan Kröner from FUGA.
Also commenting on the launch, Van Rijn adds: "The shared respect and cultural understanding between FUGA and Space Shower has allowed us to make an unprecedented move; a newly formed, world-class joint venture company between an international independent distributor and a local distribution partner in Japan. Together we offer a true combination of forward-thinking distribution technology and local industry expertise".
New study shows disabled music industry professionals often feel unable to disclose an impairment or condition
The new study surveyed almost 150 people from the music industry who identified as having a disability or long-term health condition. 71% said their impairment or condition is non-visible. Of those, 88% revealed they 'sometimes' or 'never' disclose the impairment or condition to those who they work with, with 69% of this subset admitting that this had put their health and safety at risk.
Reasons given for not disclosing that information include the fear that doing so would make them seem less capable, or result in them receiving less future work, or in experiencing other kinds of discrimination.
The study also considered why disabled people are so under-represented in the music industry. Previous Arts Council research found that only 1.8% of music industry professionals identified as having a disability, compared to the UK population average of 18%.
Of those surveyed, 90% agreed that the lack of visibly disabled people in the music industry contributed to under-representation in the sector. 79% said a lack of opportunities at a youth level were also a factor, while 73% cited the music industry's reputation for demanding long working hours from its employees, and possibly not providing the flexibility required by disabled workers.
The study was led by artist manager and Harbourside Artist Management founder Ben Price, who himself has a non-visible health condition. On the study he says: "With my own lived experiences I was keen to embark on this research. I myself have a disability that I didn't feel able to disclose, and I wanted to explore the perspectives of others in a similar position, as well as solutions of what can be done to improve disabled representation in the music industry".
"This aim is not necessarily to ask more people to disclose their disabilities", he adds, "but to encourage an environment where those conversations are normalised and more people with a disability or long-term health condition can be welcomed into the industry - at all levels - without barriers".
The study has been welcomed by accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything. It has found similar findings with its own past research. It also has various programmes offering practical advice to employers and businesses across the music industry as to how they can remove barriers so to ensure that disabled people can pursue a career in music, whether on stage or behind the scenes.
The charity's founder, Suzanne Bull, says: "Ben Price continues to highlight the barriers that disabled professionals face from the music industry and these results reflect similar data to statistics and anecdotes that Attitude Is Everything have recently published".
"It's clear that there needs to be a big shake-up of attitudes and perceptions of disabled people by the music industry; everything from making it safer for colleagues and artists with health conditions to disclose, as well as ridding the industry of some long-held assumptions that disabled people just can't have a career in music - assumptions which continue to be rooted in the way that our society regards the disability community".
"And yet it doesn't have to be this way", Bull goes on. "Attitude Is Everything have two key programmes with which we're seeking to transform this industry for the better – Beyond The Music, an accessible employment programme – and The Next Stage, a programme to support disabled artists with opportunities, information and advice, so we’re well placed to support the industry to improve".
She concludes: "We hope to work in partnership with Harbourside Management, and together we can forge our way through so that the music sector becomes a welcoming, open, inclusive and exciting career prospect to deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people. It takes collaboration and collective effort to make systematic change so we need allies!"
Abba announce new album and virtual live show
"From the very beginning of my career, and having had the privilege to work with them directly for many years since, it's been a tremendous joy to be surrounded by Abba and their music", says Universal CEO Lucian Grainge. "Their boundless creativity and timeless melodies makes us want to partner with them on everything they do because we know it will be simply great".
'Voyage' is set for release on 5 Nov through Universal's Polydor label. Two songs from it were released yesterday, 'I Still Have Faith In You' and 'Don't Shut Me Down'.
Meanwhile, the new live show, titled 'Abba Voyage', will open at the new 3000 capacity Abba Arena in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on 27 May. Created by an 850-strong team at visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, the show will see digital versions of the group perform nightly. The avatars were created following months of motion capture work with the band members themselves.
"The magic of Abba and the herculean efforts of this whole magnificent team reaches a long awaited milestone today", say the show's producers, Svana Gisla and Ludvig Andersson. "To be able to finally share this endeavour with the world is a proud moment for us and we can't wait to welcome you to our arena in East London, a place where we are so happy to be".
The ambitious virtual show was originally announced in 2016, with news that the band also planned to record new music coming two years later. Initially it was announced that they had recorded two new songs, though plans to debut them in 2019 were postponed. Then it emerged that five new songs had actually been recorded. And now it's a whole new album.
After a long silence on this whole venture, news that something was about to happen came last week, with the launch of the Abba Voyage website. Tickets for the live show will go on general sale on Tuesday, although if you pre-order the album you'll be able to get early access on Sunday.
Jon Hopkins announces new album, Music For Psychedelic Therapy
"What grew from this experience is an album with no beats, not one drum sound, something that is closer to a classical symphony than a dance/electronica record", says Hopkins. "Something that is more like having an experience than listening to a piece of music. Maybe something far more emotionally honest than I had been comfortable making before - a merging of music, nature and my own desire to heal".
"The freedom from traditional rhythmic structures unlocked so much - it felt like I was free to explore a new form of rhythm, one that you discover when you just allow things to flow without letting yourself get in the way", he adds. "'Music For Psychedelic Therapy' is not ambient, classical or drone, but has elements of all three. For me it's a place as much as it is a sound. It works for the sober mind, but takes on a new dimension entirely when brought into a psychedelic ceremony".
"In my own psychedelic explorations testing this music, I found a quote I had read would keep coming to mind", he goes on. That quote is: "Music is liquid architecture, architecture is frozen music".
"I love this idea of music as something you inhabit, something that works on you energetically", he continues. "In fact, it was while in that state that the title appeared to me. Psychedelic-assisted therapies are moving into legality across the world, and yet it feels like no one is talking about the music; the music is as important as the medicine".
The first single from the album, 'Sit Around The Fire', is a collaboration with producer and ceremony guide East Forest, with vocals from late guru Ram Dass.
"I was contacted by East Forest, who had spent some time with Ram Dass in Hawaii before he passed", explains Hopkins. "He was given access to several lesser-heard talks from the 70s, and asked to set them to music. He sent me some starting points, including the beautiful choral vocals he recorded which open the piece".
"I put my headphones on and with Ram Dass's voice inside my head, I sat at the piano and improvised", he adds. "What you hear is the first thing that came out - it just appeared in response to the words".
'Music For Psychedelic Therapy' is out on 12 Nov. Watch the video for 'Sit Around The Fire' here.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Lyor Cohen has confirmed that YouTube Music and Premium now have over 50 million subscribers, including people still on a free trial. This, says Cohen, makes it "the fastest growing music subscription service out there". That said, it's not clear how many people are subscribing to full YouTube Premium to get rid of ads on the main service and have never actually used the music streaming part of their account. Though from an extensive survey of the CMU team, we can confirm it's at least one.
That new Drake album, 'Certified Lover Boy', is out. Consider yourself informed.
Drake's nemesis Kanye West has released the video for 'Come To Life' from his 'Donda' album. Although he's apparently willing to end that whole Drake feud if he's not dissed on 'Certified Lover Boy'. I'm sure he's listening closely as we speak.
Finneas is back with new single 'The 90s'. His debut album, 'Optimist', is out on 15 Oct.
Charli XCX has released new single 'Good Ones'. "The first single of my new chapter embraces all that my life has to offer in today's world - fame, glamour, inner demons and global hits", she says. "'Good Ones' was produced by Oscar Holter of Max Martin's Wolf Cousins entity, and laments my inability to keep hold of healthy relationships, instead being endlessly drawn back to the dysfunctional and toxic".
Skepta has released the video for 'Eyes On Me', from his recent 'All In' EP.
Bastille have released the video for their latest single 'Thelma & Lousie'.
Example has released new single 'Every Single Time', featuring What So Not and Lucy Lucy. "Fans always say to me, ‘oh my god, your song reminds me of the first time I lost my virginity, your song reminds me of my first drink, your song reminds me of the time I kissed my wife'", he says of the inspiration for the song. "And that got me thinking about the concept of what songs mean to people".
Public Service Broadcasting have released new single 'Lichtspiel III: Symphonie Diagonale'. Their new album, 'Bright Magic', is out on 24 Sep.
Crossfaith have released new single 'Slave Of Chaos', showcasing a shift in their sound. It "mixes trap with hardcore punk and rock's attitude, so it's different from our last releases but you're going to find out about the new Crossfaith style as soon as you hear this song", say the band.
Moonchild Sanelly has released new single 'Undumpable'. "[The song] is a jam about a relationship where the couples' tempers are frayed in lockdown, in a super intense atmosphere", she says. "They're fighting but they each feel like they've invested too much to be easily dumped".
Beak> have shared new single 'Oh Know'.
Ragz Originale has released new single 'Rearrange', featuring Prettyboy D-O.
GIGS & TOURS
Rudimental have announced a one-off show at Brixton Academy on 27 May 2022. Their new album, 'Ground Control', is out today.
Dave has announced UK and Ireland arena tour dates in February and March next year. Tickets go on general sale on 9 Sep.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Annual parade of discarded Reading tents shows waste still a huge issue at festivals
With the beginning of the return of the festival business post-COVID shutdown comes another annual tradition - aerial footage of the tens of thousands of discarded tents left behind after the Reading Festival has finished. The vast majority of which will end up in landfill.
This is not just a problem at Reading, of course, but more than any other festival, it has earned the dubious honour of being the big music event that is made an example of every year. The festival has made various attempts over the years to get people to take their tents home with them or use pre-pitched tents, but many punters are still failing to take these messages on board.
As the aforementioned footage of all those discarded tents predictably did the rounds on social media earlier this week - accompanied by much virtual tutting - the festival's sustainability manager Lily Robbins told BBC Breakfast that it was "heartbreaking" to see so many tents still being left behind.
Some people discard their tents and sleeping bags at the festival's site because they believe that they will be donated to refugee camps, which is true for a small number of them. Angus Clark, CEO of Herts For Refugees, said that the charity has collected around 2300 tents and 500 sleeping bags to be taken to refugees in French camps.
"In winter time it can be quite desperate, so the things we salvage from festivals like Reading can actually be life-saving", he told the BBC. However, he added: "The bigger picture environmentally has to be considered... we can only take such a small amount compared to what's left behind".
Of course, a key reason why most of the tents left behind can't be used by charities like Herts For Refugees is because they aren't in any fit state for future use. Many of the discarded tents - different accounts estimate between more than half to up to 90% - are damaged to the point of being unusable. In some cases that is due to cheap, poor quality equipment having been bought in the first place, in others the damage appears to be deliberate.
In the past, the idea of a 'tent tax' has been proposed - a levy added to ticket prices that would be refundable if the ticketholder can show that they had taken their tent away with them. That would pose some sizeable logistical issues, however. The end of a festival is chaotic enough without people queuing for refunds, and if the refund process happens once people get home, what would be adequate proof that they didn't dump anything on site?
To date, Reading and sister festival Leeds have taken a more positive approach by working with the FestivalBag initiative, which allows people to pre-order a festival camping kit, pick it up when they arrive at the event, and have it delivered back to their homes afterwards. A reward scheme is also included in this for people who actually do bag up their equipment at the end of the weekend.
"We passionately feel it is unacceptable to leave clothing, camping equipment and rubbish behind after a festival", says the FestivalBag website, which now also operates at other Festival Republic-promoted events. "The act is irresponsible and not in-keeping with the ethos of a modern festival".
"Over 60 tonnes of abandoned clothing and camping equipment (which is often reusable) and rubbish blight the beautiful green pastures of the UK annually and this figure is only set to rise", it continues. "It really is a very sad state of affairs. Add to that the phenomenal consumption of single use plastic items that are brought into play throughout and the 1000s of cars needlessly taken to the festival sites. Something has got to change. Our festival culture is becoming unsustainable".
As hinted at there, it's not just tents and sleeping bags being left behind. "You don't even want to know what I've seen", one security guard at this year's Reading Festival told BerkshireLive, before going on: "We've had soiled underwear - always women's underwear weirdly, never men's - and condoms, used and unused".
While he stopped there, presumably leaving off the worst of what he's seen, BerkshireLive went on to make its own list, including "fouled underwear with stains in", "tampons (used)", "ball gag", "pair of false teeth (but only half of them)", "50 iPhones", and "an inflatable penis with a hole in it".
In a separate article published while the event was underway, BerkshireLive also noted a new type of rubbish being found at this year's festival - lateral flow tests showing that the user tested positive for COVID-19.
Of course, this is not the only festival where waste is an issue, and the singling out of Reading each year is likely due to its audience skewing younger than some other events. Who doesn't love a bit of demonisation of youth, after all?
There are many reasons why someone might leave their tent behind though - including it being broken because it was cheap; it's seen as the norm now; or a genuine belief that it will be used to help others. But maybe some people really just don't give a fuck about the environment.
Or perhaps they are just so despairing of what they've been saddled with by the older generation in terms of the climate and environment that they don't feel it's worth bothering doing anything about it. So don't go around feeling too smug all you old people.