|WEDNESDAY 13 OCTOBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Campaign group Black Lives In Music has published a new report highlighting systemic racism in the UK music industry. The report - 'Being Black In The UK Music Industry Part 1' - is based on a survey of almost 2000 black musicians and industry professionals, revealing significant barriers to progress, particularly for women and disabled people... [READ MORE]|
Black Lives In Music highlights systemic racism in UK music industry
Among its key findings, the report states that 86% of black music creators and 88% of black music professionals believe that they face barriers to their progression in the industry due to the colour of their skin. And 63% of music makers and 73% of professionals surveyed said that they had experienced direct or indirect racism in the industry.
As a result, 35% of music makers said that they felt the need to change their appearance in order to progress in their careers - rising to 43% for women. More than a third of all respondents said that being in the music industry had brought about a negative effect on their mental health.
"You cannot change what you cannot measure", says Black Lives In Music Chief Executive Charisse Beaumont. "Nearly 2000 people responded to our survey on 'the lived experience of black music creators and industry professionals in the UK music industry'. That is 2000 people hoping for genuine change. This report is the first of its kind and holds a mirror up to the UK music industry showing what it actually looks like".
"The report highlights racist culture and behaviours in the workplace, financial barriers and lack of investment in black music creators, and industry professionals unable to reach their career goals", she continues. "The report also spotlights black women being the most disadvantaged across all areas of the music industry and how all of these factors affect the mental health of black creators and industry professionals".
"This is data, you cannot ignore it", she states. "The data clearly shows that change is needed across the entire music ecosystem from grass root education, all the way up to record labels. I hope industry leaders read this report and hear the voice of those who spoke out. I hope this report evokes change in the way we do our music business which has greatly profited from black talent. We are looking forward to working with all music industry leaders to ensure that we can achieve change, together".
The beginning of that work will be a weekly series of webinars, titled 'Being Black In The UK Music Industry', discussing the contents of the report and the issues surrounding it. The first, 'Black Women In Music: Does The Industry Take Us Seriously At All?', will take place tonight at 6pm UK time. On the panel are musicians Chelsea Carmichael, Estée Blu, Kima, Loretta Andrews and Michelle Escoffery. Sign up to watch here.
US movie companies persuade VPN and server hosting companies to instigate some web-blocks
The movie companies - many linked to Millennium Media - have targeted numerous internet companies with litigation. Many of those lawsuits mirror the legal action taken by BMG - and then the majors - against various American internet service providers.
Although internet businesses can circumvent liability for copyright infringement that occurs on their networks as a result of the copyright safe harbour, they must complete various tasks to qualify for safe harbour protection. BMG successfully argued that one ISP - Cox Communications - had failed to comply with its obligation to have an effective system in place to deal with repeat infringers, and was therefore not protected by safe harbour, and was therefore liable for its users' infringement.
The major record companies then also sued Cox and various other ISPs based on the same argument, ie those companies did not comply with their repeat infringer obligations and were therefore liable for their users' infringement. And, following all that, this consortium of movie companies also started going legal on this point.
However, the movie company cases are interesting in two ways. First, they have also started targeting internet businesses beyond the ISPs, in particular the providers of virtual private network services, and server hosting companies that in turn provide services to VPN companies. Second, as well as seeking damages they are often also pushing for the court to order the targeted internet firms to block their users from accessing piracy websites.
Although web-blocking of that kind - usually instigated by court orders - has become a common anti-piracy tactic in many other countries, generally it has not been available to copyright owners in the US. That's in no small part because when Congress specifically considered putting web-blocking into American copyright law in 2011 and 2012, the tech sector mounted a high-profile backlash which resulted in the plan being entirely abandoned.
It is true that the copyright industries - and especially the movie industry - have been quietly lobbying for those plans to be reconsidered by US law-makers in recent years.
As part of that activity, they have noted that the doom and gloom predictions of the tech sector in 2011/2012 - basically that web-blocks would kill the internet - have not come to pass in those countries, like the UK, where web-blocking is now routine.
However, so far web-blocks have not really been employed as part of anti-piracy efforts in the US.
The two companies that recently settled with the movie producers are VPN provider VPN.ht and server hosting company Sharktech. They were accused of allowing copyright infringement to occur over their networks, and of not doing enough to stop said infringement.
VPN.ht and its Algerian owner initially argued that the US courts did not have jurisdiction over its operations. However, the company subsequently settled with the film producers, in the process committing to block BitTorrent traffic and keep IP address logs on its US servers. Which seems like quite a win for the producers, although VPN.ht has told Torrentfreak that - given that commitment only applies to its US services - it simply plans to stop using servers based in the US.
Sharktech was targeted because it provides services to VPN outfits whose users infringe copyright. Unsurprisingly, it initially argued that it was too far removed from any infringement to be liable - because, after all, it was its customers' customers who were doing the infringing.
However, according to Torrentfreak, it also agreed to instigate some web-blocking in order to settle the litigation. Quite how that will work isn't clear, but the web-blocks will affect the likes of YTS, RARBG, 1337x and the good old Pirate Bay.
What tangible impact these settlements will have is debatable, especially given that VPN.ht has already identified a massive loophole in what it committed to.
However, it's interesting to see the pool of internet companies being pressured to act against copyright infringement slowly grow beyond ISPs, to server hosting companies, VPNs and more. And that targeted internet firms are being encouraged to voluntary sign up to web-blocking in the US, slowly introducing that anti-piracy tactic into the American market.
Hipgnosis confirms billion dollar partnership with Blackstone
Are there any legendary artists and songwriters left who haven't already sold all their rights to either a new-fangled music investment fund or a more traditional music rights business? I guess The Cheeky Girls are still holding out for the right deal. And has anyone bought the Five Star catalogue yet? I heard the bidding war is ongoing for the rights in 'Teletubbies Say Eh-oh!'
Mercuriadis, of course, has been at the forefront of the movement that is capitalising on the increased interest in music rights among the investment community, in part based on the resurgence of the music rights business on the back of the streaming boom.
The Hipgnosis pitch is that music rights - especially song rights - are a solid investment not subject to the whims of the market like other assets, and all the more so when the music rights sector is going through a period of significant growth.
Blackstone is already active as an investor in the music rights sector, owning the recently rebranded MNRK Music Group and US rights agencies SESAC and HFA. Under the new deal it will take a stake in Hipgnosis Song Management, the Mercuriadis-led company that advises and supports the publicly listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund on its investments and the management of the rights it has acquired.
The two companies say that this will "support the expansion of Hipgnosis Song Management's infrastructure and business functions, including the development of new song management expertise, data science capabilities and technology solutions. This should allow HSM to further enhance the value of the rights it purchases, working in close collaboration with songwriters, artists and producers".
This will all benefit the Hipgnosis Songs Fund and its investors, they add, with the Fund also having the right to co-invest in future catalogue acquisitions alongside the new Blackstone-HSM partnership.
Says Mercuriadis: "Hipgnosis Song Management has firmly established songs as an asset class. This new partnership with Blackstone will deliver financial strength to invest in proven songs as well as grow our song management team and bring additional sophistication to HSM, enabling us to create greater value to our stakeholders including our songwriters and shareholders in the Hipgnosis Songs Fund. Given the strength of our pipeline, we see the initial commitment as just the start of a long-term partnership between Blackstone and Hipgnosis that will also include co-investment with the Hipgnosis Songs Fund".
Over at Blackstone, the investment firm's Qasim Abbas adds: "This partnership underscores the long term, sustainable value we see in creative content across the wider entertainment industry, building on Merck's vision and dynamism. The music industry has been at the forefront of the fast-growing streaming economy and is unlocking new ways of consuming content. We look forward to working with Merck and his team to continue their exciting journey and safeguard the legacy of the songwriters that entrust us with their content".
When the likes of Hipgnosis and Blackstone buy up music rights, quite what they are buying varies from deal to deal. They may actually acquire song and/or recording copyrights outright, or - where an artist or songwriter doesn't actually own the copyrights in their music - they may be acquiring that artist or songwriter's royalty, remuneration or writer's share rights. We discuss all this - in the context of BMG's recent deal with Tina Turner - in this week's Setlist podcast.
Drake YolanDa Award to provide £3000 funding to ten artists, deadline for entries is Friday
The scheme seeks to provide funding to independent artists to help them with upcoming projects that will develop their careers, which might include recording new music or videos, touring activity, a branding or marketing project, or purchasing new equipment. Ten musicians will receive £3000 each, with another ten getting £500. Applicants are encouraged from all genres.
Launching this year's programme last month, Brown said: "We are incredibly excited to be launching the 2021 Drake YolanDa Award after the most challenging few months with the global pandemic, artists need support now more than ever. James and I strongly believe that money should not be an obstacle for pursuing your dreams and we want to provide a platform that will hopefully become the beginning for many success stories".
The deadline for entering is this Friday, 15 Oct. Interested artists need to fill out a form and submit some music here.
Spotify triples the number of podcasts it makes about Spotify
Spotify launched its own Spotify-themed podcast called For The Record in summer 2020. However, it now says, while every Spotify user is super interested in what Spotify has to say, what interests subscribers is different to what interests creators which is different to what interests investor types. Hence the tripling of Spotify's Spotify-themed podcast output.
From this month, Spotify will present 'Discover This', all about new content appearing on the platform; 'Mic Check', all about the creators on the platform; and 'For The Record', all about the business of Spotify. Lovely stuff.
"We want to tell stories in a way that's uniquely Spotify and, probably to no one's surprise, we believe audio provides the perfect medium", says Spotify’s Head Of Global Communications, Dustee Jenkins. "As a company, we strive to bring creators and fans closer together, and our podcasts further that ambition. By moving from one podcast into three segments with distinct audiences, we can ensure that the stories we're telling and the topics we're covering reach the people who care about them the most".
Sadly, the shows will all be exclusive to the Spotify platform, so you won't be able to listen to them in a good podcast player.
Jazz FM launches new jazz-themed comedy show
The spiel for the new programme is as follows: "Based on the real-life run for president in 1964 by Grammy-winning jazz titan Dizzy Gillespie, the series will see self-confessed jazz nerd and occasional Jazz FM host, comedian Marcus Brigstocke, ask a famous jazz fan or musician to suggest their cabinet of jazz musicians as they become US president for the week".
The show has been recorded in front of a live audience at the Pizza Express Jazz Clubs in Soho and Holborn, and features guests like comedians Isy Suttie and Stewart Lee, and musicians Zara MacFarlane and Julian Joseph. The first episode this Sunday will feature journalist Jay Rayner.
Commenting on the show, Brigstocke says: "This is so much fun to make and to listen to. The guests/appointed presidents have all surprised me; not only with their choices for cabinet positions but with the well-argued and funny cases they make for each selection. The aim was always to give the listener a show that makes them laugh and then dash off to hear more music from these excellent artists and I really believe we've achieved that".
Meanwhile, Jazz FM's Content Director Nick Pitts – who devised the series – adds: "This idea has been rattling around in my head for more than ten years and it is brilliant that we have been able to turn it into reality. Marcus is the perfect host and [the show] really allows him to bring his real inner geek to the surface and talk jazz with fellow nerds to much hilarity. The audiences have been brilliant, very interactive, and it makes a great listen that adds to our arsenal of ever-growing creative ways to talk about jazz music".
Like Absolute's 'Rockanory' series, 'The Cabinet Of Jazz' has received support from the Audio Content Fund, a UK government backed programme that provides funding to independent production companies so they can make "distinctive, public service radio content for broadcast on commercial and community radio". The Jazz FM programme is produced by Loftus Media.
Michael Kiwanuka contributes new song to Neflix documentary
"In this song I wanted to focus on the feeling that there's a real strength in the human spirit when you try to look for beauty even in difficult situations", he says. "Of course, in some situations that becomes more and more difficult. But I just wanted to ponder on that and wonder what life would be like if I lived it like that".
"Ultimately, whatever people feel from hearing the song is OK with me", he goes on. "But what I was trying to emit through the music was a feeling of defiance. A feeling of strength through adversity".
Kiwanuka is currently working on his fourth studio album, the follow-up to 2019's Mercury-winning 'Kiwanuka'.
Universal Music Africa has announced a new partnership with Youssou N'Dour and his company Youssou N'Dour & TBI Publishing. As part of the deal, N'Dour will release a new album through Universal on 12 Nov. "From Africa to the world... let's go Universal", says the musician.
Universal Music Japan has appointed Mitsuru Koyama to the role of Corporate Executive, Legal & Business Affairs. "Mitsuru Koyama is a lawyer with an extensive legal and intellectual property background in the digital and tech industry, which will be valuable for both our artists and the company, as we continue to grow and execute our long-term objectives", says Universal Music Japan CEO Naoshi Fujikura.
Sony Music Publishing has promoted UK-based Moses Martiny to SVP Global Digital Commercial Strategy. "I am honoured to have this opportunity to further advance our global digital strategy alongside our incredible team and to help grow income for SMP songwriters in this evolving market", says Martiny. "I look forward to working with existing and new digital partners to enable innovation and create new financial opportunities for songwriters".
Festival-focused ticketing firm Festicket has named Benjamin Leaver as its new CEO, with co-founder Zack Sabban becoming President. "I am immensely proud of how much we have achieved since we started Festicket a decade ago", says Sabban. "During the next phase of our development, I want to drive our global growth and take our services to thousands more event creators around the world. I am delighted that Benjamin has agreed to lead the business as it seeks to empower event creators everywhere to grow profitably and sustainably as they deliver incredible experiences to people all over the world".
Self Esteem has premiered the video for her latest single 'Moody', in which she stars alongside comedian Alistair Green. "I've always wanted to make a version of Rihanna's 'We Found Love', but a more realistic representation of a relationship", she says. "Music video tropes are so fun and easy to execute and I've spent a lifetime trying to avoid them, but I wondered what happens if I just indulge in them".
Shamir has released new single 'Gay Agenda', which, he says, "is a song about radical acceptance internally and externally. We are only leasing our lives, so we gotta make it our own".
Cate Le Bon will release new album, 'Pompeii', on 4 Feb 2022, she has announced. "'Pompeii' was written and recorded in a quagmire of unease", she says. "Solo. In a time warp. In a house I had a life in fifteen years ago. I grappled with existence, resignation and faith. I felt culpable for the mess but it smacked hard of the collective guilt imposed by religion and original sin". Here's first single 'Running Away'.
If you thought Hayden Thorpe wasn't going to release another single before putting out his new album, 'Moondust For My Diamond', this Friday, well, you look pretty silly right now. Here's 'Golden Ratio'.
Dean Blunt has shared a new video, titled 'Urban Hymns', featuring two tracks - 'Mugu' from his latest album 'Black Metal 2', and standalone single 'Stoozy', featuring A$AP Rocky.
Band Of Horses will release new album 'Things Are Great' on 21 Jan 2022 - their first since 2016's 'Why Are You OK'. First single, 'Crutch', is out now.
Qrion proudly presents the third single from her upcoming album 'I Hope It Lasts Forever'. This is 'Proud'.
Kills Birds have released another single from their new album 'Married', which is due out on 12 Nov. This is 'Cough Up Cherries'. "There are a lot of themes to 'Cherries', as it was written during the height of the pandemic in 2020", says vocalist Nina Ljeti. "The song touches on feelings of loneliness, paranoia and hopelessness that we all experienced. In addition, 'Cherries' also addresses the identity crisis we all face in the digital age".
Deep Throat Choir have released new track 'Uvas'. Their new album, 'In Order To Know You', is out on 3 Dec and they will play Bella Union's Winter Wonderland at Union Chapel in London on 11 Dec.
Lotic is back with new single 'Always You'. The track is taken from her new album, 'Water', which will be released on 29 Oct. "This is the record I always wanted to write", she says. "This feels like my arrival as an artist".
Never ones to beat around the bush, Joe & The Shitboys have put out new single 'Save The Planet You Dumb Shit'. They've also announced that they will release new album, 'The Reson For Hardcore Vibes (Again)', on 16 Nov.
Cumgirl8 have released new single 'Bugs'. The band explain: "'Bugs' evokes a rapid-paced life with a heavy nostalgia for still, melancholy moments; a hyperactivity-induced stumble into what you are left with when you come out of an episode of madness that never really stops. It's a moment of reflection. What happened? How did I let it get to this point that I'm letting all these thoughts take over?"
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Madonna says writing movie of her life is her "most draining, challenging experience"
Madonna revealed last year that she was co-writing the film with Diablo Cody, prompting a range of reactions from delight to disbelief. Both mainly due to the breaking of convention - the subjects of biopics generally not being the people to make them. Though, we all expect people to write their own autobiographies and then get all pissy if it turns out they didn't, so maybe this is fine.
Plus, biopics are almost exclusively shit pieces of mostly fiction regardless of who makes them. Perhaps what's been going wrong with the biopic genre all these years is that the wrong people have been making them. If Madonna gets this right, it could open the door to a flood of self-made autobiographical movies. And, at the very least, some of them would almost certainly be hilarious.
Anyway, the first hurdle for anyone self-penning a biopic is spending an extended period of time mired in a lifetime's worth of memories, good and bad. It turns out, that's not such an easy thing.
"Writing my script is the most draining, challenging experience I've ever had", Madonna says in a new interview published by Rolling Stone. "It's kind of like psychotherapy in a way, because I have to remember every detail from my childhood till now".
"Remembering all the things that made me decide to be who I am, my journey as an artist, my decision to leave Michigan to go to New York, all the things that happened to me when I was young and naive, my relationships with my family and friends, watching many of my friends die".
"Sometimes, I have writing sessions where I go to bed and I just want to cry", she goes on. "The thing is, I realise I forgot a lot of things, and reliving, digging deep, trying to recall emotions that I felt in certain moments, both joyful and traumatic experiences. I realise I've lived a crazy life ... But I would find myself at night, lying there in bed, thinking, 'My God, did that really happen to me? Did I really know that person?'"
The potential downside of this project - compared to writing a book - is that having gone through that process while writing the script, Madonna will have to relive all of this stuff again several times during the making of the film. That could be the recipe for a great movie, couldn't it? And maybe the reason Madonna's previous two outings as a film director have been critical and commercial disasters was that she wasn't making a film about herself. I'm sure it'll be fine.