|TUESDAY 12 OCTOBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Cross-sector trade group UK Music has called on both employers and the government to do more to help close the gender pay gap - generally and specifically within the music industry - following the latest publication of stats on this issue by British companies... [READ MORE]|
UK Music calls on government to remove barriers to closing the gender pay gap
The trade body says that while there have been some "excellent schemes" implemented by the music industry in an effort to ensure that women earn the same as men for doing the same job, "there are still worrying gender pay gaps in the music industry and workplaces everywhere".
There are various different issues that need to be addressed in order to close the gender pay gap, of course, in particular changing those systems and working practices that can prevent female employees from progressing to the top of the organisations they work for. Tackling those challenges requires efforts and investments from employers, but - UK Music adds - there is also a need for government and law-makers to act in certain domains.
Since 2017, it has been a legal requirement in the UK for companies with more than 250 employees to annually report information on the disparity in pay between men and women within their organisations. This means that the country's bigger music companies must also publish this information. The deadline for publishing this year's data was last week.
At the major labels, the UK division of Sony Music performed best in the latest stats, paying women 91p for every £1 earned by men in 2020. This is the same as the previous year. Warner Music UK, meanwhile, pays 82p - down from 86p.
Universal Music UK reported that it is paying women 75p for every £1 earned by men. Last year, Universal did not report its figures - with the legal obligation to do so suspended due to the pandemic - but its gender pay gap has widened every year since its first report.
Another company to report a backwards step in its efforts to improve pay for women was the UK division of Spotify, which reported a rate of 81p, which was down from 86p in 2019.
Live Nation UK reported that women at the company earn 86p for every £1 that men earn, up from 74p in 2019. Its main rival, AEG Presents, does not provide its own report, but its parent company, Anschutz Sports Holdings - which also owns the O2 Arena - reported paying 80p - a sharp rise from 61p in 2019.
Although there have been improvements at some companies, it is clear that the disparity in pay between men and women in the music industry remains. It takes quite a lot of digging around to find a music or entertainment company where women don't earn less than men. There are some examples though.
At the music licensing joint venture between collecting societies PPL and PRS - aka PPL PRS Limited - women actually earn £1.02 for every £1 that men earn (however, at PPL and PRS themselves the gender gap has grown slightly). Meanwhile, at Wembley Stadium things have moved rapidly in the other direction. While in last year's report pay between men and women was perfectly balanced, this year it reported that women are earning £1.47 for every pound paid to men.
"There have been some welcome improvements on tackling the gender pay gap, which will come down as more women take on senior and leadership positions within their organisations", says UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. "Many businesses in the music industry have introduced excellent schemes to help bring about positive changes. However, there are still worrying gender pay gaps in the music industry and workplaces everywhere".
"We need swifter and greater progress to address some of the structural barriers that hinder the progress of women in the workplace", he goes on. "The government must do more to help tackle these challenges. This includes addressing the need for more equitable parental leave schemes that work for all families, ensuring well-funded and accessible childcare, and ensuring access to justice for victims of workplace discrimination".
Stressing that businesses must also do more, he concludes: "Employers should fully support employees when they have children, embrace flexible working whenever possible, and review structures that lead to disappointing pay gaps. By working together and continuing to press everyone to close the gender pay gap we can put the music industry at the forefront of bringing about fairness and inclusivity in the workplace".
UK Music Diversity Taskforce Deputy Chair Paulette Long adds: "Tackling the gender pay gap as we emerge from a crisis that has disproportionately hit women and their incomes is more urgent than ever. The pace of change needs to be accelerated so women do not have to wait for yet more years before the necessary actions are taken that will allow us to see more equitable outcomes in the way we are paid".
It remains to be seen how the government responds, and if the next round of music industry gender pay stats in a year's time will show greater improvement.
Cardi B defends Paris Fashion Week trip in ongoing legal dispute with model
Brophy sued Cardi B - real name Belcalis Almánzar - in 2017 over her use of his photo on the cover to the 2016 mixtape 'Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1'. The model's image was inserted into the artwork so that it appeared as if he was performing oral sex on the rapper. You can't actually see Brophy’s face, but he argues that his distinctive back tattoos made it super obvious that it was him in the image. And that infringed his publicity rights, his lawsuit claimed.
Almánzar tried to have the case dismissed, arguing that the designer who created the artwork significantly altered the original photo of Brophy's back. Therefore, the use of the photo was "transformative fair use" and not an infringement of Brophy's publicity rights under Californian law.
The judge conceded that the photo had indeed been altered, but added that "significant elements of plaintiff's tattoo remain untouched in the final album cover", meaning the rapper's fair use arguments would need to be considered by a jury.
The dispute was due in court this month, but - on 10 Sep - Almánzar filed papers seeking to push everything back into 2022. That was on the basis that the lawsuit is being fought in California, while she and her husband Offset are based in Georgia and New Jersey on the other side of the country. Meanwhile, Almánzar gave birth to her second child last month, and therefore wants to keep travel to the minimum, especially given the ongoing COVID concerns.
However, Brophy argued in legal papers last week, if Almánzar is keeping travel to the minimum in order to spend more time with her new child and to keep the risks of contracting COVID to the minimum, why did she fly over to Europe less that three weeks after requesting the court case be postponed?
Almánzar has now hit back in her own filing sent to the judge overseeing the case, in which she argues that the Paris trip came together very last minute, and only required her to be away from her children for a week, whereas a court case in California would likely run for at least three weeks.
"This was the only trip I have taken since the birth of our son on 4 Sep 2021", she writes. "I was of course very concerned with, and made thorough arrangements for, the well-being and care of our children in our absence. During our absence, our three year old daughter and our newborn son stayed with my mother and a baby nurse for our son, in New York. Both children were and remain in perfect health".
On her decision to take the trip to Paris Fashion Week, she goes on: "I have had the good fortune to become identified almost as much for fashion as for my music, and the opportunity to be part of the 'inner circle' of the elite of the fashion world, representing some of the most famous designers' work, was a rare opportunity, and important for my career, especially given my absence from live performance over most of the last two years due to the pandemic, and the fact that I have been working on a new, upcoming album".
She then explains that the Paris opportunity only really came together after her previous 10 Sep court filing, before outlining all the measures she undertook ahead of and during the trip to ensure that her children were properly cared for, and that she and her team reduced the risk of contracting COVID-19 while travelling. She also explains how the itinerary of the Paris trip allowed her to FaceTime her family and children back in New York several times a day.
By contrast, she then writes, "a trial date in October would have required us being in Southern California for up to three weeks or more. The children would have had to be looked after here in California, away from me for extended periods while I would be gone for trial preparation meetings, traveling to and from court, and in the courtroom all day every day during the trial".
"I was also concerned", she adds, "I would be distracted and exhausted prior to and during the trial, not only from the travel and trying to juggle family needs and trial at the same time, but from lack of sleep due to my newborn's schedule and demands".
Brophy now wants the court hearing to go ahead in December. It remains to be see how the judge rules on that and his request to sanction Almánzar over the Paris trip.
Politicians and artists use MMA anniversary to again call for radio royalties on recordings in the US
The final Music Modernization Act actually aggregated a number of different proposals that had been made in Congress to deal with various quirks of American copyright law that the music industry wanted changing. Those reforms dealt with things like: the payment of mechanical royalties on the songs side when music is streamed, the pre-1972 technicality that meant services like Pandora and Sirius weren't paying royalties on pre-1972 recordings, and how studio producers share in the monies collected by US collecting society SoundExchange.
However, perhaps the biggest quirk in American copyright law was not dealt with. That being the limitation on the sound recording copyright which means that - unlike the song copyright in the US, and the recording copyright in most other countries - the owners of sound recordings Stateside do not enjoy full performing rights over their recorded music. Which means, among other things, AM/FM radio stations do not need a licence from - nor do they pay royalties to - the record industry, ie artists and labels.
The US record industry has been fighting for a change to copyright law that would force radio stations to pay royalties for decades. However, it was left out of the Music Modernization Act package because those proposals are strongly opposed by the US radio industry, which has considerable support in Washington. The fear was, if getting radio royalties for artists and labels had been included in the MMA, the entire package of reforms would have been voted down.
This means that the fight for radio royalties continues, most recently centring on legislative proposals called the American Music Fairness Act. Meanwhile, the radio industry is still lobbying for support for its Local Radio Freedom Act, a somewhat bizarre new law that would seek to change nothing. Though that's really a campaign tool for the broadcasters, because anyone who formally supports the Local Radio Freedom Act is also opposing the American Music Fairness Act.
The former Congress member speaking out in favour of the American Music Fairness Act on the third anniversary of the Music Modernization Act was Joe Crowley, who said yesterday: "Three years ago today, America took a huge step forward in the fight for fairness in the music industry when the Music Modernization Act was signed into law. As the way we consume music changed drastically in the last decade, I was proud to be a co-sponsor of the bill to ensure artists were compensated when their music was streamed on digital platforms".
"Unfortunately, we still have much more to do to win the fight for music fairness", he added. "While the MMA changed how we compensate artists for digital streams, it left the loophole for AM/FM radio airplay intact. For decades, radio corporations have filled their airwaves with artists’ music while escaping the responsibility of paying for this work. It’s time to end this injustice".
"I know my former colleagues are committed to fighting for everyday working Americans, and musicians deserve the same dignity and respect", he concluded. "To build on the legacy of the MMA and to truly modernise the music industry, Congress must pass the American Music Fairness Act and ensure multi-billion-dollar radio corporations pay their fair share to the music creators who make the soundtrack to our lives".
Lobbying group the musicFIRST Coalition continues to lead the campaign in Washington for a radio royalty for recordings, frequently recruiting music-makers to also speak out in favour of that particular copyright reform. This time - as Crowley spoke up on the politician side - Sam Moore issued a statement on behalf of the music community, he having been one of the musicians in the White House when Trump signed the MMA into law three years ago.
"The Music Modernization Act was a historic moment for all of the American artists and music-makers of all genres", his statement reads. "I was honoured to be present at the White House when the bill was signed into law. For those of us who created music and performed as recording artists prior to 1972, this law made it possible for us to finally get some of the compensation for those performances we’d created and deserved".
"For me and my peers and their surviving families - many of whom were struggling financially despite long and successful careers in music - this was a godsend. But the fight to make sure all American artists get everything they deserve is far from over", he adds. "The Music Modernization Act made important strides toward fairness in digital streaming, but it didn't touch AM/FM radio".
That means, he says, the big corporations that own the majority of the radio stations in the US "are continuing to get paid billions of dollars in advertising revenues from the broadcast of our performances and they aren't paying a penny to us, the people who performed on those recordings, giving them the essence of our souls and our talents".
"That's just wrong, plain and simple", he concludes. "I'm honoured to be fighting alongside Congressman Crowley, my friends in the musicFIRST Coalition, and so many of my fellow artists, to pass the American Music Fairness Act and finally right this wrong, once and for all".
Secondary ticketing campaigners back call for "effective and unambiguous" new responsibilities for online marketplaces
The DSA is a wide-ranging set of proposals that will increase the legal obligations of digital platforms operating in Europe. The statement organised by the European Consumer Organisation is backed by a diverse mix of other lobbying groups, all of which have concerns over illegal activity and anti-consumer practices found on various online marketplaces, and the fact the marketplaces themselves can currently circumvent liability for that activity and those practices.
Campaigners want new laws whereby marektplaces can be held liable if they are aware of the illegal activity on their platforms, or do not do enough to ensure rogue operators are prevented from using their services. In the words of the European Consumer Organisation, the signatories to its statement want “effective and unambiguous rules ... to tackle illegal activities and rogue traders".
Putting all this into a secondary ticketing perspective - and regarding the possible impact the DSA could have on the platforms that allow the resale of tickets for profit - FEAT says in a statement: "The Digital Services Act offers the opportunity to put a stop to the exploitation of live music, entertainment and sports fans at the hands of ticket touts, who are able to operate on ticket resale sites across Europe under a veil of anonymity".
FEAT Director Sam Shemtob adds: "Secondary ticketing legislation across Europe takes the form of a patchwork of laws that differ from state to state. This enables unscrupulous marketplaces with deep pockets to operate with impunity – ripping off fans and damaging the entire live sector".
"The evidence of wrongdoing is overwhelming", he says. "By increasing accountability and introducing basic due diligence requirements that are uniform across Europe, the Digital Services Act can help create a ticket resale ecosystem that stops fans being ripped off and strengthens the recovery of the live sector post-COVID".
Amendments to the draft DSA are currently being discussed and voted on in the European Parliament, with the committee ultimately responsible for the legislation on the Parliament's side preparing to vote on the final text it wishes to take forward.
The European Consumer Organisation statement is online here.
Le Tigre sue in doo-wop lyrics dispute
This dispute relates to the 1999 Le Tigre song 'Deceptacon'. It has some similar lyrics to Barry Mann's 1961 single 'Who Put The Bomp (Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)'. Mann's song goes "Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?", while 'Deceptacon' has the lyrics "Who took the bomp from the Bompalompalomp? Who took the ram from the Ramalamadingdong?".
According to Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fateman of Le Tigre - a band that pretty much wound up in the mid-2000s, albeit with a couple of reunion projects more recently - a representative for Mann now insists that their 1999 song infringes the copyright in 'Who Put The Bomp (Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)'. Quite why this is all coming up now isn't clear.
However, in a legal filing that seeks court confirmation that no infringement occurred in 1999, Hanna and Fateman argue that Mann himself borrowed the lyrics they are accused of lifting. According to Pitchfork, their legal filing states: "Mr Mann did not create these vocables or song titles; rather, it appears that Mr Mann and his co-writer copied them from black doo-wop groups active during the late 1950s and early 1960s".
"Specifically", they go on, "it appears that Mr Mann took 'bomp-bah-bomp-bah-bomp' from The Marcels' distinctive version of 'Blue Moon', which sold over a million copies, and 'rama lama ding dong' from the Edsels' then-popular 'Rama Lama Ding Dong'. In short, the 'Bomp' lyrics at issue are not original to Mr Mann, and defendants have no legitimate copyright claim in them".
Mann's 1961 track was basically a novelty record lightly mocking the nonsense lyrics that are common in doo-wop songs, so his lifting of those lyrics from earlier songs could be seen as parody, and therefore he and co-writer Gerry Goffin weren't infringing the copyright in the earlier doo-wop tracks, because their use of those lyrics would arguably be 'fair use'.
But so would Le Tigre's use of those words nearly four decades later, says the new lawsuit. Where Le Tigre borrowed from 'Bomp' for 'Deceptacon', they add, their lyrics have “a new meaning that is directly at odds with and a clear criticism of the message in ‘Bomp'". Which, they say, is also fair use.
Mann's reps are yet to respond to Hanna and Fateman's legal filing.
Sony Music and ARIA respond after TV investigation into toxic culture at major's Australian division
It was confirmed in June that an internal investigation was underway at Sony Music into allegations of bullying and abuse at its Australian division. That confirmation came as Handlin - who had run Sony Music Australia for decades - suddenly departed the company. Meanwhile, at the same time, The Guardian ran an article in which more than 20 former employees described a workplace culture that wasn't fit for purpose.
The new investigation by Australian current affairs show 'Four Corners' into the Sony Music scandal summarised all the allegations that have been made in recent months about Handlin's management style, and the abuse and harassment of employees that happened on his watch. It also included interviews with a number of people who saw Handlin's running of Sony Music Australia first hand, who confirmed and expanded on those previous allegations.
One longtime Sony Music executive, Eleanor McKay, said: "The kindest thing I could say about Denis was that he was sort of an equal opportunity abuser. He was as mean to men as he was to women". Though other people told 'Four Corners' that, while Handlin himself may not have treated female employees any different to male employees, he did tolerate - and arguably encourage - a workplace where "laddish language" and the objectifying of women was common place.
Among the big questions currently being debated is whether Sony Music HQ in New York was aware of the issues within its Australian business. It was certainly made aware of the problems in the late 1990s, when an investigation took place and Handlin stood down for three months as a result. But little changed after the CEO returned.
To what extent Sony Music's overall bosses were subsequently alerted to the ongoing issues in the following two decades isn't clear, though the official line is that the current top guard only became aware of the problems in recent months. However, critics point out that the toxic culture at the major's Australian division was widely known within the music industry in Australia, so Sony Music HQ should have been aware of the problems even if it wasn't.
In a statement issued to Variety yesterday, Sony Music said: "We take all allegations of bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviour from our employees very seriously and investigate them vigorously. Only recently did claims surface and we are examining them expeditiously".
The fallout of Handlin's departure from Sony Music is also affecting the record industry's Australian trade body, the Australian Recording Industry Association. With criticisms being made about working practices in the Australian record industry beyond Sony, organisations like ARIA have a key role to play in bringing about industry-wide reforms. But then, it also had Handlin on its board for nearly four decades, from 1984 until his Sony departure this year.
In its own statement in response to the 'Four Corners' investigation, ARIA said yesterday: "No one should feel unsafe, harassed, discriminated against, or bullied in the workplace. ARIA will continue to work towards safety, inclusion and equality across the music industry including through the cultural change process that was started in May this year. We will listen to the voices that need to be heard and provide our wholehearted support every step of the way".
UK collecting society PPL has announced that it is restructuring its HR team. Kate Reilly is now Chief People Officer, while Juliette Edwards will move into the newly-created role of Deputy Chief People Officer, Talent & Wellbeing. The organisation will also hire a full-time recruitment advisor and offer further in-house training and career development support with the appointment of an additional training partner.
Don Toliver has released the video for 'Flocky Flocky', featuring Travis Scott, from his new album 'Life Of A Don', which came out last week.
Bryan Adams will release new album 'So Happy It Hurts' on 11 Mar. Listen to the title track here. "The pandemic and lockdown really brought home the truth that spontaneity can be taken away", he says. "Suddenly all touring stopped, no one could jump in the car and go. The title song 'So Happy It Hurts' is about freedom, autonomy, spontaneity and the thrill of the open road. The album of the same name touches on many of the ephemeral things in life that are really the secret to happiness, most importantly human connection".
James Blake has released a new version of 'Funeral', featuring Slowthai. The original is on his new album, 'Friends That Break Your Heart', which came out last week.
Charlotte de Witte has released new EP 'Asura', featuring three tracks she premiered in her Radio 1 Essential Mix last month. "With 'Asura' EP, I'm trying to give you a little insight into my musical influences by going back to my roots", she says. "We're speaking about a young Charlotte who, about twelve/thirteen years ago, got indulged in the world of electronic music by going to her first underground clubs and raves. From electro and techno to acid core and hardcore to psytrance. This EP flirts with the soundscapes of the latter".
Ritt Momney (who, yes, is still called that) has released new single 'Sometime'. His second album, 'Sunny Boy', is out on 22 Oct. Of the LP, he says: "Sometimes I wonder how much I've lost or forgotten since I was a kid. This album was a sort of exploration of that, just trying to remember a way of living and seeing the world so unaffected by stress and responsibility".
GIGS & TOURS
Orlando Weeks will play a short run of intimate shows around the UK next month, including The Social in London on 21 Nov. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Having announced their new album last week, Pulled Apart By Horses have now let slip that they'll be touring the UK in April next year. They have five shows booked, including Koko in London on 15 Apr. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Morrissey thanks Astley and Blossoms for generating interest in the "tired old Smiths warhorse"
OK, it was a somewhat muted endorsement. Morrissey wrote on his website: "My sincere thanks to Rick and the Blossoms for their recent recentness. Anything that generates interest in that tired old Smiths warhorse is testimony to the wallop it packed. THANK YOU!"
When the two Astley/Blossoms shows were first announced, Johnny Marr called the project "funny and horrible". Although that was seemingly - at least in part - because Marr had seen Blossoms pretty recently, and they'd chosen not to mention their grand plan to sing his songs with Astley.
Marr hasn't yet popped up on social media with any response to this weekend's shows or the numerous clips from them that have been shared online.