|FRIDAY 15 OCTOBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: When Coldplay announced that they would not tour the world again until they could make such an endeavour environmentally "beneficial", you probably thought they'd never travel anywhere ever again. Two years later though, they've cracked it. Well, they apparently think they have, anyway... [READ MORE]|
Coldplay announce plans for environmentally friendly world tour
Of course, achieving the band's big ambition to make touring environmentally positive isn't as easy as just doing one thing and then huddling together for a good round of back-patting. There's quite a list of changes that have had to be made to the band's usual touring activity in order to ensure that next year's 'Music Of The Spheres' tour will be as sustainable and low carbon as possible.
As their benchmark, they've committed to ensuring that this tour produces 50% fewer emissions compared to their last global outing in 2016 and 2017.
In order to do this, the shows will be powered entirely by renewable energy, including via solar installations at every venue, waste cooking oil, a kinetic stadium floor that will generate energy from fans dancing, and kinetic bikes that fans can have a ride on to produce a bit of energy for the venue (in the event that that's something they want to do).
The energy produced by all of this will be stored in a mobile, rechargeable power source, built out of recyclable BMW i3 batteries.
As well as using technology to improve the environmental credentials of the tour, Coldplay will also be using good old nature, including planting one tree for every ticket sold. They'll also ensure that all merch is sustainably and ethically sourced, and provide free drinking water at each show in an effort to eliminate plastic bottle waste.
This is all well and good, of course, but what about the venues and, worse, the Coldplay fans, who the band have less control over? I'm not sure if they considered just banning all people from their gigs, but - either way - that's not a decision they've made. People will be allowed to attend.
However, they will be encouraged to travel to the shows via low carbon transport, with a specially designed tour app giving them information on how to do so. Those who do will receive a discount on stuff they buy at the venue. The venues, meanwhile, will be provided with a sustainability rider requesting best environmental practices while Coldplay are in town. And, presumably, beyond.
Beyond all that, 10% of earnings from the tour will be placed in a fund that will support environmental and socially conscious causes. Plus, some boffins - climate change experts at Imperial College London's Grantham Institute no less - will be brought in to assess how well - or not well - all of this has worked afterwards.
"Playing live and finding connection with people is ultimately why we exist as a band", say Coldplay in a statement. "We've been planning this tour for years, and we're super excited to play songs from across our whole time together. At the same time, we're very conscious that the planet is facing a climate crisis. So we've spent the last two years consulting with environmental experts to make this tour as sustainable as possible, and, just as importantly, to harness the tour’s potential to push things forward".
"We won't get everything right, but we're committed to doing everything we can and sharing what we learn", they go on. "It's a work in progress and we're really grateful for the help we've had so far. If you'd like to come to a show and sing with us, we're so excited to see you".
It remains to be seen if this tour is truly "beneficial" to the environment, but when you have the resources available to test out all these new technologies and tactics, doing so is probably better for the environment long term, rather than just refusing to tour in order to save the planet. Maybe. Anyway, hopefully some of this will work and will become available to less affluent artists.
Still, in an interview with the BBC, Chris Martin said that he was ready for a backlash about some aspects of the tour - not least the band's decision to continue travelling on private jets.
"I don't mind any backlash at all", he said. "We're trying our best, and we haven't got it perfect. Absolutely. We always have backlash for everything. And the people that give us backlash for that kind of thing, for flying, they're right. So we don't have any argument against that".
He went on: "In some areas, there's still not enough possible, like how do you get people to a venue without consuming any power? That's still really hard. Or flying - there's still a lot of offsetting we have to do, because even sustainable aviation fuel isn't good enough yet. So we know where we still have a long way to go. But in terms of the show itself, the whole show is powered from renewable energy, which is amazing".
And, at the very least, they aren't manufacturing tens of thousands of single-use, light up wristbands, like they did a decade ago.
Set to run from March to September, with support from London Grammar and HER, the Coldplay tour will travel from the US, to the Dominican Republic, to Mexico, back to the US, to Germany, to Poland, back to Germany, to France, to Belgium, to the UK, and then finish up at Brazil's Rock In Rio Festival.
There will be four UK dates in all - three of them at London's Wembley Stadium. Tickets go on sale next Friday. Here are those UK dates in full:
12 Aug: London, Wembley Stadium
US music publishers to push for new streaming rate of 20%
Under US copyright law, the mechanical copying of songs is covered by a compulsory licence with the rates set by a panel of judges, aka the Copyright Royalty Board. Because, with a stream, a song is both copied and then made available and/or communicated, the compulsory licence and the accompanying CRB rates are relevant to what songwriters and music publishers earn when songs are streamed.
The CRB sets a top level rate for what songs should earn from streaming. Any royalties paid to the US collecting societies for the making available element of the copyright are then deducted, and what is left is paid to the publishers (or sometimes directly to the songwriter) to cover the mechanical copying element. There are some extra complexities, but that's basically how it works.
The CRB reviews the rates every five years. For the period 2018 to 2022, the CRB ruled that the top level rate should slowly increase during that time, from 10.5% to 15.1%.
Streaming is a revenue share based on consumption share business. A service allocates monies to each track based on what percentage of overall consumption it accounted for, and then shares that allocation with whoever controls the recording rights and the song rights in that track. Under the last CRB ruling, the share paid to the song rights would increase.
The increase to 15.1% actually brought the US statutory system in line with the rate that had been negotiated by some music publishers and collecting societies in countries where streaming deals are negotiated on the open market.
However, most of the streaming services - Apple being the notable exception - nevertheless appealed the CRB's ruling for 2018 to 2022, and as a result the last decision on streaming rates is still being reviewed. Spotify insists it isn't opposed to rate increases in theory, but has issues with other complexities in the compulsory licence.
But, while that appeal is still pending, 2023 is now looming on the horizon, meaning another CRB ruling is required for what the rates should be for the next five year period. The deadline for making submissions to the CRB on the 2023-2027 rates passed earlier this week.
According to Billboard, the publishers will push for another increase, so that the top level rate becomes 20% - or 40% of whatever is paid to the record labels for the recording rights, if that is higher.
Streaming deals also sometimes include some minimum guarantees linked to things like number of subscribers or number of plays, that can actually result in services paying a higher amount than that which is due under the revenue share arrangement. The publishers would reportedly like minimum guarantees linked to both number of subscribers and number of streams.
Of course, if the share of revenue paid to songwriters and music publishers increases, someone has to take a hit - which will either be the record companies and their artists, or the streaming services themselves. Over the years, the streaming revenue share enjoyed by the recording rights has slowly declined. Meanwhile, the streaming services have slowly increased their share.
The streaming services have always insisted that they need to keep at least 30% of their revenues to have a viable business. That said, in the early days - although in theory most services were on something like a 30% share - the minimum guarantees and the advances they paid to the music industry meant they rarely kept anywhere near that 30%.
Though, as the market has matured, the position of the streaming services has improved, and Spotify now tends to talk about it keeping approximately "a third" of the money under its licensing deals, ie slightly more than 30%.
If the streaming services still aimed to keep at least 30% of the money, and the publishers and songwriters were on 20%, that would push the labels and artists down to 50%. And, conveniently, 20% of the total pie is 40% of 50%. Isn't maths fun!
As noted, the still-being-contested CRB ruling for 2018-2022 basically brought the US system in line with what some publishers and societies had negotiated on the open market in other countries. Though a switch up to 20% from 2023 would but the US system ahead of what most publishers and societies have secured through their deal-making.
Given that plenty of people on the songs side of the business all over the world feel the current 15% rate isn't enough, they'll be hoping that any uplift secured in the US through the CRB will result in a bigger share being negotiated elsewhere in the world.
Though, on the flip side, the services may well use what has been negotiated on the open market elsewhere in the world as a reason for the CRB judges to reject the music publishers' latest price hike proposals.
The US publishers are expecting quite the battle with the streaming services as the CRB considers their proposals. And given the ongoing appeal on the 2018-2022 rates, the services have proven that they are willing to accept the PR damage which comes with fighting songwriters over royalties in the public domain.
Meanwhile, the US National Music Publishers Association will likely point to the proposals it is making to the CRB as proof that the major publishers are not restricted in their abilities to lobby for price increases by their sister record companies.
During the economics of streaming inquiry in the UK Parliament, it was argued that the fact the three majors are big players in both recordings and songs has negatively impacted on the share of streaming revenues enjoyed by songwriters.
After all, record deals generally favour the label, while publishing deals favour the writer. So if you are a major player in both recordings and songs, you'd prefer more money to flow through your label business. This is an argument that has also been repeatedly presented by Merck Mercuriadis of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund.
But NMPA boss David Israelite recently denied that was so. In an op-ed in Billboard he wrote: "Whether it is in the halls of Congress, in courtrooms across the country, or behind the scenes in board meetings that set the agenda for the industry, I can attest without equivocation that 'major' music publishers fight equally as hard to promote songwriters and the value of songs as their independent publisher colleagues".
"In fact", he added, "I have never experienced a single instance when the interests of a record label or parent corporation in any way inhibited that advocacy".
Of course, when it comes to the mechanical royalties due on physical discs - where the labels are the direct customer - the NMPA is backing the label-friendly proposal currently before the CRB that there should be no increase. And with physical discs, it's a fixed payment per copy not a percentage of revenue, so the current rates have not kept up with inflation.
But, with streaming, it seems the NMPA is ready to fight for higher royalties. And while - technically - that means going to battle with the streaming services rather than the record companies, if the song rates go up it will put pressure on the labels to accept another royalty cut.
Cher sues Sonny Bono's widow in termination rights dispute
Cher and Bono began working together in the early 1960s, subsequently marrying and then enjoying much success together in both music and on TV. However, the marriage ended in 1975, and their double act ended soon after. Following all that, a deal was done in 1978 that provided Cher with a 50% share in the royalties being generated by the songs and recordings that had been released during their time together, professionally and personally.
In the words of Cher's new lawsuit: "When they divorced, plaintiff and Sonny agreed to an equal division of their community property and, to that end, in 1978 Sonny irrevocably assigned to plaintiff, as her sole and separate property throughout the world and in perpetuity, 50% of their rights in musical composition royalties, record royalties, and other assets".
"Since 1978", the lawsuit adds, "plaintiff has been the unchallenged owner of her 50% of all musical composition and record royalties to which plaintiff and Sonny were entitled by reason of their collaboration and marriage, including 50% of all royalties that Sonny, his businesses, and his successors, receive from those musical compositions and recordings".
However, Mary Bono and the Bono Collection Trust now seemingly want to change that arrangement, utilising the US termination right.
US copyright law provides creators who assign their rights to business partners a one-off opportunity to terminate that assignment and reclaim their rights after 35 years. The termination only applies in the US and debate remains as to whether it applies to record contracts. However, on the songs side, American songwriters now routinely terminate old publishing deals.
And the Bono Collection Trust has been employing that right in relation to old assignment deals that Sonny Bono entered into back in the day. Cher says she wasn't consulted about any of that, which wouldn't necessarily be a problem, except that the Trust is now allegedly arguing that the terminations also affect the royalty and veto rights she secured in the 1978 deal.
Cher's lawsuit states: "This action has become necessary because now, more than 40 years after plaintiff received her 50% ownership of her and Sonny’s community property, Sonny's fourth wife and widow, defendant Mary Bono, claims that a wholly inapplicable statutory termination provision of the Copyright Act of 1976 has undone plaintiff's ownership of her royalties from the songs and recordings that she and Sonny made famous during their marriage, and deprived plaintiff of other long-established rights under the 1978 agreement".
Cher is basically seeking court confirmation that the exercising of the termination right by the Bono Collection Trust in relation to Sonny Bono's old copyright deals does not and cannot affect her royalty and veto rights.
Cardi B did not mislead court when asking for trial date to be moved, judge rules
The rapper - real name Belcalis Almánzar - is being sued by model Kevin Brophy over what he says is the unauthorised use of his image on the cover of her 2016 mixtape 'Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1'. The publicity rights dispute had been due to properly arrive in court this month, but last month those proceedings were pushed back to February at Almánzar's request.
Explaining why she wanted to push the trial date back in papers submitted to the court last month, she cited the recent birth of her second child, adding that she currently wanted to keep travel to a minimum, especially given the ongoing COVID concerns. She and her husband - Migos' Offset - have homes in Georgia and New Jersey, ie on the other side of the country to the court in California.
However, shortly after submitting those legal papers, Almánzar spent a week in Paris, prompting Brophy to ask the court to sanction the rapper for lying about being unable to travel.
Responding to Brophy's latest claims, she said that the Paris Fashion Week jaunt was a last minute work trip that was "important" for her career. Both of her children remained in New York with her mother while she and Offset travelled to France. Throughout the trip, she added, the utmost care was taken to reduce the risk of either of them contracting COVID-19, and she regularly contacted her mother and children via FaceTime.
This was vastly different to the arrangements that would have been necessary for a full-blown trial in the Brophy dispute, she went on, saying: "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, travelling to and from court, and in the courtroom all day every day during the trial".
Ruling on Brophy's request for sanctions yesterday, the judge sided with Almánzar. According to Rolling Stone, judge Cormac Carney wrote: "Travelling to Paris Fashion Week was different than traveling for this trial: whereas she was able to leave her newborn baby in New York in the care of her mother and a baby nurse for the short trip to Paris, she would not be able to make such arrangements for the lengthy travel required to prepare for and attend the trial in this case".
Brophy accuses Almánzar of illegally using his likeness on the artwork for her mixtape. 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 claims.
Almánzar tried to have the case dismissed last year, 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.
Australian record industry trade group revokes Icon Award from former Sony chief
The investigation into working practices at Sony Music Australia on current affairs programme 'Four Corners' followed Handlin's sudden departure from the major in June, which coincided with a report in The Guardian.
In that report, more than 20 former Sony Music Australia employees discussed the toxic environment Handlin created at the music firm, an environment that in turn resulted in "sexual harassment at work events, intimidating behaviour, alcohol abuse and the unfair treatment of women in the workplace".
Since June, pressure has been building on Sony Music itself, in particular over how much the major's New York HQ knew about the way its Australian division was being run. And if - as is claimed - the top guard at Sony Music in the US and Sony Corp in Japan were not aware of the issues until very recently, why were they so in the dark, given that the problems with Handlin's management style were widely known within the Australian music community.
Meanwhile, pressure has also been building for the music industry organisations that celebrated Handlin over the years, which includes record industry trade body ARIA, where the disgraced Sony boss was a board member. Given criticisms of working practices in the Australian music industry go beyond Sony, an organisation like ARIA has a role to play in promoting wider reforms, but its past connections with Handlin damages its credibility in that domain.
So what is ARIA to do? In an op-ed for The Industry Observer earlier this week, record industry veteran and former EMI Australia boss Mark Poston said that a good starting point would be to revoke the Icon Award the trade group handed to Handlin seven years ago.
He wrote: "I believe the immediate action needed is for ARIA is to strip Denis Handlin of his ARIA Icon Award. I put it to you that this man is anything but an icon. You could say he is iconic for all the wrong reasons – that would be a better summary. Perhaps the right way to frame this might be that this particular kind of icon must never be allowed to exist ever again".
The trade body has now heeded that advice, stating earlier today: "The board of ARIA has today resolved to withdraw the ARIA award made to Denis Handlin in 2014".
In revoking Handlin's award, ARIA also follows the lead of QMusic, a music industry development organisation in Queensland. It presented Handlin with an honorary award at its Queensland Music Awards in 2020. That award was revoked the day after the 'Four Corners' programme aired, with QMusic's CEO making a much bolder statement explaining the decision to withdraw the honour.
CEO Kris Stewart stated: "Last night's 'Four Corners' investigative report laid bare the undeniable fact that the culture under Denis Handlin's leadership at Sony came at significant human cost. Toxic workplaces, be they in the office, boardroom, on stage or behind, have no future in Australian music. We cannot, and should not accept nor celebrate this kind of culture. The future of music must be one that is safe, supportive, and equitable for all".
With both ARIA and QMusic having now revoked the awards they presented Handlin, all eyes are on collecting society APRA/AMCOS, which handed the Sony chief its Ted Albert Award for outstanding services to Australian music in 2009. According to The Guardian, a decision will be made on whether it should likewise take that award back at an upcoming board meeting.
Of course, while revoking Handlin's honours may help these industry organisations play a more legitimate role in promoting better working practices within the music industry, it doesn't actually help make those better working practices a reality. Which means, in the longer term, of more interest will be how Sony Music rebuilds its Australian business, and what the wider music industry can learn from past failings at the music major.
Spirit Music owner announces $500 million alliance with investment group
Lyric Capital Group is a private equity outfit fully focused on music rights, it having been set up to orchestrate the management-led buyout of the Spirit Music Group back in 2019. It says the new alliance with Northleaf will allow "the 25 year old Spirit Music Group to continue to build upon its already impressive legacy of evergreen copyrights and present day hit songs".
Confirming the new big-bucks alliance, Lyric Capital Group Managing Partner Jon Singer says: "This strategic alliance allows us to continue to anticipate our clients' needs in a constantly evolving market and accelerate our growth strategy of investing in iconic catalogues, elevating new music and serving the needs of the songwriters who entrust us with their life's work. We are excited to have Northleaf on board who share our vision".
Meanwhile, Northleaf Managing Director Michael Morris adds: "We are delighted to work with the team at Lyric. Our collaboration represents a compelling opportunity in the music royalty space alongside a best-in-class operator. This is a rapidly growing and uncorrelated asset class that provides our investors with predictable and growing cash flows".
Lovely stuff. Meanwhile, do check today's one liners with all the latest release news - or, if you prefer, updates on all the latest assets being added to the all important "rapidly growing and uncorrelated asset class" that is music.
Reservoir has invested in audio entertainment company and podcast content production studio Audio Up. "This transformative collaboration marks another key moment in Reservoir's evolution, as we further redefine our business as the business of listenership", says Reservoir CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi. "Audio Up are creating innovative storytelling experiences through music and we are looking forward to all of the opportunities this creates for listeners and rightsholders alike".
Andrea Bocelli has extended and expanded his agreement with Universal Music. As well as a long-term multi-album deal, the major will also work with him on audiovisual projects, branding, sync and merchandising. "It is an exciting novelty, but also the confirmation of our solid and well-established collaborative relationship over the years", says Bocelli.
Yen Strange has signed record and publishing deals with Australia's Mushroom Music Group. On the recordings side she'll work with the group's Liberation Records, which has just released her new single 'Go Away'. "The teams at Liberation and Mushroom Publishing really know what they're doing as far as pushing an authentic sound and image of me out into the world", she says, "and I couldn't be happier to make a start in the music industry alongside such humble and quirky people".
Ludovico Einaudi has announced 'Underwater', his first new solo piano album for 20 years. It will be released on 21 Jan. From it, this is 'Luminous'. He will also be in the UK for live shows in March, with full band performances at the Hammersmith and Manchester Apollos, followed by two solo performances at Alexandra Palace in London.
Aurora will release her new album 'The Gods We Can Touch' on 21 Jan 2022. "The spiritual door between the human and the gods is a very complicated thing", she says. "One thing that has always bothered me is the idea that we're born unworthy having to deem ourselves worthy by suppressing the forces within us that make us human. Not perfect, not flawless, just human. I think that is what intrigues me about the Greek gods. The gods of the ancient world. Perfectly imperfect. Almost within our reach. Like gods we can touch". Here's new single 'Giving In To The Love'.
Damon Albarn has released 'The Tower Of Montevideo', which is the latest to be released from his upcoming new solo album, 'The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows'.
Danny Lees has officially released his track 'You Tell Me Lies'. Originally posted to SoundCloud two years ago, the track recently went viral on TikTok and scored him a record deal with Sony's RCA label in the UK. "This was one of the first house tracks I made and at the time this kind of music was a new discovery for me", he says. "Never in a million years did I think it would have become as popular as it has!"
Logic1000 is back with new single 'Natural', featuring Big Ever. Her new EP, 'The Sweetness Of You', is out on 12 Nov.
Madge and MoonBounce have teamed up as xR and will release their first EP together later this month. First single, 'Firefight', is out now.
GIGS & TOURS
Warpaint will tour the UK for the first time in five years in May 2022. There will be a new album out the same month, although details on that are sparse right now. Tickets for the shows go on general sale on 22 Oct.
Glass Animals manager Amy Morgan will receive the Manager Of The Year Award at this year's Artist & Manager Awards. MMF's Annabella Coldrick and FAC's David Martin say in a joint statement: "The pandemic has been incredibly tough for all artists and managers, many of whom have been left to operate without support of a safety net, but Amy absolutely encapsulates how our community has attempted to bounce back with innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity".
But that's not all! The Black Music Coalition will take home the Industry Champions trophy at the same awards show. On that, Coldrick and Martin say: "We are also immensely proud to recognise the leadership displayed by The Black Music Coalition. The battle against racial injustice is a defining issue of our time, and now, more than ever, it is vital that all in the industry continue to step up and push for lasting change".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Jimmy Page continues to blame Phil Collins for disastrous Led Zeppelin reunion at Live Aid in 1985
Speaking to The Times, Page says that it was "really not very clever" to draft in Collins to replace John Bonham, who had died five years earlier. "The drummer couldn't get the beginning of [set opener] 'Rock & Roll'", he goes on, apparently referring to Collins. "So we were in real trouble with that".
This is not the first time Page has blamed Collins' for the quality of the band's Live Aid performance, having previously accused him of "bashing away cluelessly and grinning" throughout the 20 minute set.
Collins was brought in partly because he had played on Robert Plant's first two solo albums. He appeared with the band after jetting to the States on Concorde, having also played the simultaneous UK Live Aid show at Wembley Stadium earlier in the day, rocking up at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium in time to get on stage with Led Zep.
Collins has admitted that his rehearsals for the set mainly consisted of listening to 'Stairway To Heaven' on the plane. So not the best preparation. Although he was not the only drummer on stage for the Led Zep Live Aid stint, with Chic's Tony Thompson behind a second kit.
Speaking to Q in 2014, Collins said: "It was a disaster, really. Robert wasn't match-fit with his voice and Jimmy was out of it, dribbling. It wasn't my fault it was crap. If I could have walked off, I would have. But then we'd all be talking about why Phil Collins walked off Live Aid - so I just stuck it out".
Plant later described the performance as "a fucking atrocity" all round. But for some reason, in Page's head, it was definitely all Collins' fault.
The good - or bad - news is that the whole show is available on YouTube, so you can make your own judgement. Although, you really have to ask yourself whether the accurate allocation of blame is important enough to sit through that performance. We could all just pretend it didn't happen.
One good thing that did come of the whole thing, though, was that when Led Zeppelin came to play together in 2007, they all decided that it would be a good idea to rehearse first. After "two unfortunate incidents", including Live Aid, Page says in The Times interview, they practiced super hard before the show at London's O2 Arena.
"If we were going to stand up and be counted we needed to do a proper job", he says. "I think it was a superb concert. There were moments when my hairs were standing on end when we were playing. Unfortunately it was just the one show. A lot more more could go wrong. I didn't want to be the one making the mistake".
Yeah, not like - ahem - that other time.