|MONDAY 4 OCTOBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Night Time Industries Association has again criticised the COVID Passport requirements for clubs and other venues that went into force this weekend in Scotland. It claims that poor communications and technical problems with an accompanying app led to "chaos and confusion" at clubs and venues across the country... [READ MORE]|
Night Time Industries Association says Scotland's new COVID Passport scheme caused "chaos and confusion" this weekend
While the live music and night-time sectors in England are slowly getting back to normal - with no social distancing requirements and venues able to decide for themselves whether to check the COVID or vaccination status of customers at the door - extra COVID-related rules are still in force elsewhere in the UK.
In Northern Ireland, clubs remain closed and music venues can only operate with seated audiences. Meanwhile, both Scotland and Wales are requiring clubs and some other venues to only admit customers who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, which means having to check the COVID Passports that confirm vaccination status at the door.
The app launched in Scotland to provide a digital version of that COVID Passport has been dubbed "not fit for purpose" after the new entry requirements went into effect this weekend. Meanwhile, confused communications about what venues are affected and quite how the new rules are working caused "chaos".
Criticising the new rules and how they have been implemented, Gavin Stevenson, Vice-Chair of NTIA Scotland, said this weekend: "It is beyond belief that the Scottish government have continued with this flawed, discriminatory and unfair vaccine passport scheme against the advice of the affected sector and a majority of public health experts".
"Worse still", he added, "the rush to get it out to political deadlines has resulted in a completely botched launch that is destroying public trust in this government and creating anger and frustration on the streets outside venues. [First Minister] Nicola Sturgeon's disastrous plan for medical ID's must be scrapped immediately, and lessons learned as to why other European countries are now scrapping their schemes too".
Meanwhile, Donald Macleod, MD at Glasgow-based promoter and venue operator Holdfast Entertainment, said: "Sadly and predictably last night's front door trialing of the Scottish government's new COVID certification app proved to be problematic and highly confusing, with the vast majority of punters unable to access the app or show the required proof. This is an APP-alling shambles which if allowed to continue will have a devastating effect on the very fragile night-time economy. This ridiculous 'big brother' experiment and infringement of an individual's civil rights should be dropped immediately".
And the CEO of NTIA UK, Michael Kill, added: "Last night businesses across Scotland felt the real weight of confusion and frustration from members of the public on the first trading session where operators were expected to implement COVID Passports. This ill-conceived, unworkable mitigation - which has been poorly communicated - will only lead to further chaos and potentially irreversible damage to a sector which is still extremely fragile, and is fundamental to the recovery of Scotland’s economy".
Jay-Z urged to testify in person as long-running perfume dispute heads to court
Fragrance firm Parlux sued Jay-Z – real name Shawn Carter – back in 2016, accusing the rapper of failing to meet his commitments to plug Gold Jay-Z, a perfume that Parlux and Carter launched together.
The case has been slowly working its way through the courts ever since, with Parlux seeking access to Carter's work diary, in order to assess what he was up to when he was meant to be flogging its perfume. Carter tried his best to not share any of that information, with limited success.
Along the way there were a few other side disputes. One was over whether or not a deposition given by Carter should be filmed. The rapper asked that it not be filmed because of fears any recording might leak. Judge Andrew Borrok declined that request, but agreed to put some extra measures in place to ensure the deposition wasn't made public.
Another side dispute related to a bunch of emails that Carter deleted after it became clear the perfume company was preparing to go legal. Those emails, Parlux claimed, could have provided additional information about what the rapper was doing when he was meant to be promoting Gold Jay-Z.
The judge agreed that the emails should not have been deleted, but did not agree that the big inbox cull in itself justified declaring a summary judgement in Parlux's favour. Instead, he said, he would allow "adverse inference" regarding the deleted emails in court, which is to say that the jury will be told about them and can infer that the lost emails would have negatively impacted on Carter's case.
Borrok re-confirmed that position in a pre-trial hearing about the case last week. It was during that hearing that the judge and the lawyers working on the case discussed how Carter and the boss of Parlux will deliver their respective testimonies once the dispute is properly in court.
Of course, during COVID, witnesses providing their testimonies remotely became much more common. And, according to Law360, Borrok said that he might allow both Carter and the boss of Parlux to testify in that way later this month. However, in-person testimonies would be his preference.
The judge said to Parlux's lawyers: "You do what you want. But if you're serious about winning this case, having the president of the company testify remotely, even if I allow it, it's a terrible look. It's just a bad look". And the same applied to Carter, he added.
The big Jay-Z v Parlux bust up is now due to properly arrive in court on 18 Oct.
Dice acquires Boiler Room
"I've been a fan of Boiler Room for years and they’re world leading in bringing incredible experiences to fans", says Dice CEO Phil Hutcheon. "Blaise [Belville, Boiler Room CEO] and I have been discussing for over a year how to support artists better and the more we spoke, the more excited we were to work together. The combination of Boiler Room with the distribution and technology of Dice creates substantial opportunities in a sustainable, transparent and fair model".
Boiler Room, of course, was one of the few livestreaming platforms to gain traction before the COVID pandemic increased the appetite for livestreamed shows among both artists and fans. Dice, meanwhile, became quite active in the livestreaming space during the COVID shutdown.
Commenting on the deal from his side, Belville adds: "Dice has built an incredible platform by being laser-focused on creating the best possible experience for fans and event partners - their app now has millions of music fans accessing live music around the world. My experience when talking to Phil was inspiring and he immediately recognised how important Boiler Room is, and how much potential we have".
"I believe deeply that the best way for Boiler Room to evolve is by partnering with a company that values what we are today, and provides the tools we need to grow into the future - we play to our strengths and they to theirs", he continues. "Dice believes in 'powering' us but allowing Boiler Room to remain our own independent entity, all of this will enable us to move into a new era and be the best version of ourselves".
Alongside the acquisition, a new Boiler Room board has been formed, upon with both Hutcheon and Bellville will sit alongside Terry Weerasinghe and Ibtisam Omer.
PPL backs Björn Ulvaeus's Credits Due campaign
Although data standards already exist in the music industry that uniquely identify recordings, songs, songwriters and performers, not all of that data is routinely attached to recordings when they are released. As a result, writers and performers often go uncredited, meanwhile streaming services don't usually know what specific songs are being streamed, adding some extra complexities to the way songwriters get paid digital royalties.
Credits Due has been launched by the UK's Ivors Academy and the Music Rights Awareness Foundation, an organisation co-founded by Abba man Ulvaeus.
Launching the campaign last month, he said: "It's very simple, music recordings must credit all involved and thus ensure that the right people get paid. People ask me why this isn't the case already and I don't know what to say. Today, in 2021, there's really no excuse. If we achieve 'Credits Due' it's a win-win for the whole music industry. Thankfully, a lot of good work is underway and we very much look forward to further support from the industry in finally giving creators the financial recognition they deserve".
PPL - will runs the main database for the UK record industry and is already involved in a number of other global data initiatives - has confirmed its support for Credits Due, which it calls "a pivotal campaign" to address the wider music rights sector's data challenges.
PPL boss Peter Leathem says: "The launch of Credits Due is a welcome step towards a harmonised metadata system for the global music industry and PPL is looking forward to working closely with The Ivors Academy and the Music Rights Awareness Foundation to help build a digital music ecosystem that works for everyone".
"Great strides have already been made in the last decade to introduce standards and technologies that allow metadata to be more easily collected and shared by artists, performers, songwriters, labels, publishers and collection societies, and these developments have supported a decade of growth in PPL's collections and distributions of neighbouring rights royalties", he adds. "By supporting further improvements to metadata accuracy, Credits Due and PPL will be making it even easier to accurately pay creators for their hard work – an important goal as our sector returns to growth post-pandemic".
Welcoming PPL's support, Ulvaeus says: "I could not be happier with the fantastic launch of the Credits Due initiative at the Ivor Novello Awards and the incredible backing already received from both individuals and organisations across the global music industry. I would like to thank PPL - a company that continues to champion the rights of performers and recording rightsholders - for pledging their support to Credits Due and helping to raise awareness of this important cause".
Other companies and organisations that have also backed the Credits Due campaign since its launch include BMG and the Independent Music Publishers International Forum.
BMG boss Hartwig Masuch said that "ensuring its songwriter and artist clients are paid fairly, accurately, and speedily should be the priority of every music company - BMG is delighted to lend its support to the Credits Due campaign", while IMPF President Annette Barrett added: "IMPF is very pleased to be an early supporter of this initiative affording us an additional opportunity to work towards better metadata and increased recognition at point of creation for all those associated with the song".
Warner Music announces new skills and development programme to coincide with Black History Month
Starting this month and running into November, the label will offer young people workshops, personal development programmes, skills training, career guidance, mentoring, seminars and workplace visits. It will also promote equality and diversity, and provide a platform for young people to share their thoughts and solutions through music, spoken word, film and social media.
Warner Music UK CEO Tony Harlow says: "In Britain today, music and sport - especially football - are the most vibrant forces driving cultural conversation and change around diversity and inclusivity. Rio Ferdinand knew the power of this combination years ago and has always been passionate about British black music. He has built a strong, vibrant Foundation around this history".
"We want to help support the Foundation's initiatives by adding music to the many opportunities they already create for disadvantaged young people and hope that they can benefit from our expertise, facilities, and access to our artists", he goes on.
Ferdinand adds: "Music has always been a melting pot of cultures and speaks directly to people in ways they can enjoy and understand. Our United Against Racism programme has worked with the music industry and ambassadors, alongside sport and film, to share our message widely throughout 2021 and we are very excited by this announcement. This collaboration with Warner Music UK and Music Against Racism demonstrates the opportunities that business and charities working together can bring to create positive change in society".
Finally, Music Against Racism CEO Olivia Edwards-Allen comments: "This new partnership with Warner Music UK and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation is a fantastic opportunity for us to challenge racism and inequality through and in the music industry across the UK, and is a great way for our organisation to mark Black History Month. We are looking forward to engaging with young people, creating and showcasing content that will reflect their thoughts and solutions to those issues and to working with them to shape our own education curriculum for 2022".
Details of projects in London and Manchester are still to be announced.
Next Big Sound to close
"It's been a wild ride", says Next Big Sound's Business Analyst Jay Troop in a blog post. "After twelve years of tracking music data across hundreds of thousands of artists and hundreds of billions of streams, it's time to say goodbye. Next Big Sound will be shutting down on 1 Nov 2021".
Troop goes on to explain that this is "the final step of a multi-year transition", adding that "Pandora's AMP tools have been the primary focus of our development and growth for two years already".
Pandora acquired Next Big Sound in 2015, after rival music data start-ups The Echo Nest and Musicmetric were purchased by Spotify and Apple respectively.
As with those platforms, once NBS had been taken over by one particular streaming service, the other streaming platforms stopped providing their data to it. As a result, and as with The Echo Nest and Musicmetric, the focus increasingly became data projects within the parent company, although NBS lived on as a brand.
Pandora had launched AMP seven months earlier, and it seemed likely that the Next Big Sound acquisition was an attempt to improve that service. Indeed, I'm not sure at the time anyone expected it to take six years for the two platforms to fully merge.
Still, there are some services that Next Big Sound continued to offer after the Pandora acquisition that will not be available to users following the transition of the set-up to AMP.
"After a lot of deliberation, we have decided that Next Big Sound social data is not going to be moving over to AMP with us", says Troop. "We've decided to focus our team's efforts on giving artists valuable, actionable insights to help them grow and monetise their fanbases on Pandora".
"This means that it’s also time to say goodbye to the Pandora Predictions chart", he adds. "Our Next Big Sound Predictions were always intended to be a look across streaming and social media to identify artists on the rise, so with these social data sources going away we're going to retire the Predictions chart as well".
Naomi Pohl to run for General Secretary of the Musicians' Union
The top job at the MU is an elected position, with elections taking place every five years. Current General Secretary Horace Trubridge - who had previously been Assistant General Secretary - won the most recent election in 2017. He took over from John Smith, who had been the union's General Secretary for fifteen years by the time he stood down from the position.
At one point the union planned to extend Trubridge's current term by three years meaning he would remain as General Secretary until 2025, when he planned to retire. After that plan was called off, Trubridge initially indicated he would stand for re-election in 2022 seeking another five year stint. However, this weekend he confirmed that this is no longer his intention. He will not now run in next year's election, and will stand down after a new General Secretary is elected.
Confirming her intention to stand earlier today, Pohl said: "The MU's current General Secretary Horace Trubridge has been involved in the MU's senior management for many years and I want to pay tribute to all he's done for the union and its members. He's been a powerful advocate".
"If elected to succeed him", she added, "I would fight to achieve meaningful change on behalf of all musicians and would prioritise improving their rights and income. I have over 20 years' experience of working in arts sector trade unions and I believe I am the best person to take the union forward as we deal with the COVID recovery and Brexit".
Noting the particular challenges for musicians over the last two years, she went on: "This has been the worst imaginable time for musicians and I have the experience, energy and vision to take the union forward. I will build on the many relationships I have in the wider trade union movement, with music industry bodies, MPs and decision makers, and put these to good use on behalf of all musicians, wherever they're based and however they make music".
If elected, Pohl would be the first female General Secretary of the MU in its 128 year history. Her statement concluded: "You can't stand aside and wait for positive change, you have to make it happen. Equality, diversity and inclusion would be at the heart of my work as MU General Secretary. All musicians deserve equal access and representation from their union. The union's SafeSpace service for survivors of sexual harassment is my proudest achievement to date".
The election process will formally take place between January and March next year, beginning with six regional nomination meetings around the UK before the actual vote in March. Pohl has set up a website for her election campaign here.
The Beatles considered replacing George Harrison with Eric Clapton
It was John Lennon who suggested the line-up change, in a conversation that has now been discovered among 120 hours of audio captured during the band's recording sessions for their 1970 album 'Let It Be'. Harrison briefly left the band during those sessions as he felt that his songs were not being given enough attention in the studio.
While Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were sympathetic to Harrison's feelings, according to the Daily Mail, Lennon said that the guitarist's resentment had become "a festering wound" and the rest of the band had "allowed it to go deeper". Lennon proclaimed: "I think if George doesn't come back by [next week] we ask Eric Clapton to play".
Elsewhere in the tapes, McCartney jokes to Harrison about Lennon being distracted by Yoko Ono being in the studio, saying: "It's going to be an incredibly comic thing if in 50 years' time people say the Beatles broke up because Yoko sat on an amp".
These snippets come from many hours of audio and video that were recorded by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg during the making of 'Let It Be', which is also the material being turned into that three part Beatles documentary by Peter Jackson - hence these 50 year old tapes are of interest again. Jackson's three part series is set to arrive on Disney+ next month.