|WEDNESDAY 20 OCTOBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Various music industry organisations yesterday responded to the news that the UK's Competition & Markets Authority will undertake a study into the music streaming market... [READ MORE]|
Artist and songwriter groups welcome Competition & Market Authority's streaming market study
Such a study was recommended by Parliament's culture select committee following its inquiry into the economics of streaming, with organisations like the Musicians' Union and Ivors Academy in particular calling for a CMA investigation during said inquiry.
The competition regulator is yet to confirm the exact scope of its study, although during the parliamentary inquiry it was suggested that any such investigation should consider the dominance of the majors in both recorded music and music publishing, and the effect that dominance may or may not have had on the streaming market, and how streaming monies are shared out across the music community.
Announcing that it would put the spotlight on the music streaming market yesterday, the CMA clarified that market studies of this kind are "a key tool used by the CMA to identify – and, if appropriate, to consider how best to tackle – any competition and consumer issues".
The chair of the culture select committee, Julian Knight MP, was among those welcoming the CMA's announcement yesterday. He stated: "We welcome the decision by the CMA to urgently carry out a competition inquiry into music streaming and the dominance of the major music groups. That the CMA has made this a priority is a big result for the committee, endorsing one of the key recommendations of our inquiry into music streaming. Our investigation exposed fundamental problems within the structure of the music industry itself. This action marks a key step forward”.
And, of course, the CMA's announcement was also welcomed by various organisations representing music-makers and their managers, as well as Tom Gray's #BrokenRecord campaign, which was closely allied with the MU and Ivors during the economics of streaming inquiry. AIM, representing the indie sector, also welcomed the news, while record industry trade body BPI said it looked forward to seeing the actual scope of the study, and to engaging with the CMA to "inform its work".
The CMA's market study will happen alongside the research into and discussions about music streaming that are in the process of being instigated by the government's Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Intellectual Property Office, also in response to the parliamentary inquiry. That includes the creation of a music industry contact group as well as two more focused working groups looking into contract transparency and music rights data.
And now, here are lots of quotes...
Horace Trubridge, General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union: "We are delighted that the CMA is following through with proposals to carry out a market study into music streaming. This shows a fundamental willingness and interest from government and regulators to tackle the pervasive issues around the major labels' current market domination. Now is the time for the government to further commit to supporting reforms for equitable remuneration for musicians, to ensure that our fantastic musicians are fairly and properly rewarded for their work".
Naomi Pohl, Deputy Secretary General of the Musicians' Union: "It is great news that the domination of the major music groups in the streaming market will be subject to scrutiny. This marks a crucial step towards creating a fairer and more transparent UK music landscape, particularly through addressing what the [culture] select committee’s report described as 'deep concerns' around the dominance of the major labels. It feels like real progress is being made to fix streaming, with some of the select committee's key recommendations already being taken forward. There are many issues with the economics of music streaming and it isn't a fair playing field for creators and performers at present but we are hopeful of meaningful change. Many thanks to the CMA for their encouraging announcement today".
Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy: "The [culture] select committee, the UK government and now the UK Competition & Markets Authority have listened to the concerns of music creators. They accept it is time to look into the structure, activities and market power of the major music groups. These groups control the majority of the recording and publishing markets. They do this without any proper regulation, control or separation of interests. The consumer wants a healthy pipeline of diverse music talent where fair payment is given to the creators they listen to. The CMA study will be an important step on this path".
Crispin Hunt, Chair of The Ivors Academy: "The pandemic has allowed music creators, consumers, politicians and now regulators to look afresh at the way our industry operates. The power of the major music groups is nothing new, but the willingness to question their size, practice and dominance is. The music market has evolved, but music's economic models have not. Consolidation is not the answer. Polycentrism, not oligopoly, will best deliver a flourishing varied and functioning music market and ecosystem: a music market that encourages competition, broadens choice, stimulates innovation and enables sustainable growth and careers. Is music streaming a 'winner takes all' environment in its nature... or by design? A CMA study will hopefully tell us".
Tom Gray, founder of the #BrokenRecord Campaign: "The music market has desperately needed investigation for over a generation. Access and value for creators is dangerously low. To say this study is welcome is a huge understatement. The future for British music-makers is a little brighter today".
Wolf Alice's Joff Oddie, a director of the Featured Artists Coalition: "For many artists, songwriters and musicians, the growth of streaming has been positive connecting us to a global fanbase. However what we have gained in opportunities to release and distribute music has, in many cases, been hampered by archaic licensing practices and outdated economic structures. All these issues have been accentuated by the pandemic and the shutdown in live music, and it's why this market study announced by the CMA is so welcome and so important. It represents an essential first step to finally address some of the fundamental dysfunctions within the streaming market, and hopefully lead to a fairer and more equitable deal for those who make and perform the music we all love and enjoy".
Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum: "Now running for more than five years, the MMF's 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' project has long-recognised a series of fundamental and deep-seated problems with how the music streaming market operates, as well as a number of ways that historic and ongoing inequalities could and should be addressed. It is vital that regulators and policy makers are able to take evidence-based decisions - which is why today's announcement from the Competition & Markets Authority is so important. The MMF wholeheartedly welcomes this vital first step of a market study into streaming, alongside the work being led by the Intellectual Property Office to further research legislative solutions and develop a code of practice for the sector. We look forward to collaborating on a process that delivers real change to the lives of artists, songwriters, performers and producers".
Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Association Of Independent Music: "AIM stands for an inclusive and open market that offers genuine opportunity for all. Concerns around hyper-concentration of power by the majors who control 75% of the market and the dynamic between music and technology companies are some of the topics that could well benefit from this CMA market study, which could help build understanding and confidence for all stakeholders in music, from creators to consumers".
A spokesperson for the BPI: "The BPI welcomes the CMA's study into the music streaming market. We look forward to seeing the scope of the project in due course and engaging with the CMA to inform its work".
Kobalt sells songs catalogue to new KKR-led entity in $1.1 billion deal
Although the core Kobalt business is focused on the administration rather than ownership of song copyrights, its Kobalt Capital division was set up to actually acquire music catalogues. However, after Kobalt's leadership decided to focus all their energies on the company's core administration operations last year, it seemed likely that Kobalt Capital would sell on all its catalogues. That was done through a deal with Hipgnosis last November and the new deal with KKR this week.
KKR has partnered with another investment firm called Dundee Partners to acquire what was known as the Kobalt Music Royalty Fund II portfolio. The two investment outfits have actually established a new entity called Chord Music Partners in order to acquire the Kobalt catalogues, which will also control the other music assets KKR has bought in the last year. Kobalt will also continue to administrate the catalogues it has just sold.
Confirming the deal, KKR partner Jenny Box says: "We are THRILLED to purchase this diverse collection of iconic songs. We look forward to investing in the success of this music and working collaboratively with Kobalt and the artists and songwriters who created it. This transaction positions us with significant scale, which we will continue to grow by providing flexible, creative capital to music rights owners. Across KKR, we are investing in innovative technology, media and entertainment businesses that are connecting fans to music in new ways and we are excited about how this can enhance the value and reach of these songs".
Meanwhile, Kobalt founder and Chair Willard Ahdritz adds: "When we launched Kobalt Capital in 2011, we wanted to work with music we loved and would continue to live on for many decades to come. Our announcement today acknowledges this focus, our predicted market development and the great work we have done at KCL. I am also proud that creators and rights owners put their belief in us to take care of their timeless music and represent it well. We are excited to welcome KKR and Dundee Partners as Kobalt Music clients as the new owners of the Fund II works".
Warner launches Asian rap label, signs Ramengvrl
VP A&R for Asia at Warner, David Stouck, says: "We are THRILLED to announce the launch of Asiatic Records and the signing of Ramengvrl. Asiatic is Warner Music's home to the best hip hop artists across the region, and Ramengvrl is clearly one of a kind".
"She's taken the Indonesian market by storm", he adds, "[and] we now have the opportunity to show the world what a truly unique talent she is. And she is just one example of the cutting-edge, multilingual artists breaking out in the region. We really see an opportunity at Asiatic to amplify top-tier talent from across Asia and to provide a launchpad for their worldwide success".
Ramengvrl herself says: "I'm very excited to join Asiatic Records and the Warner Music family. Making it in Indonesia with music that defies conservative views is one crazy accomplishment. Now with Warner Music's support, I'm ready to make my mark across the rest of Asia, and beyond".
"I'm so glad that the team at Asiatic Records is fully in line with this vision and my unapologetic f-what you think style", she goes on. "They have built an amazing team to support me and I can't wait for the world to hear more of the songs we're working on!"
You can hear one of those songs right now. Ramengvrl's first release on Asiatic, 'Ain't No MF', featuring pH-1, came out last week. Watch the video here.
Wembley Stadium to offer British Sign Language at every live concert
Ed Sheeran will be the first artist to offer the service at all of his shows at the venue, when he takes his '+ - = ÷ x' tour there in June. Previously, the BSL service has only been available when pre-booked or on certain days.
"We are delighted to be able to offer British Sign Language for our customers at every concert moving forward", says Paul Smyth, Head Of Event Operations at Wembley Stadium. "We pride ourselves not only on being an inclusive stadium to be enjoyed by all, but also for leading the way in terms of best practice within the industry. We look forward to hosting our deaf customers at future gigs and hope that they feel the benefit of this vital service at Wembley Stadium".
The sign language service will be provided by Performance Interpreting, the founder of which, Marie Pascall, says: "We are elated at Wembley Stadium's decision to provide British Sign Language access for deaf BSL customers for every show. This will enable thousands of deaf customers to attend music events on any given date. Wembley continues to be a beacon of best practice and this is a huge step in the right direction. We hope other venues will value their deaf customers and appreciate access in the same way".
Liberty Media sells all its iHeartMedia shares
For a time, Liberty Media seemed keen to significantly increase its shareholding in the iHeart business, with officials at the US Department Of Justice giving the all-clear last year for it to increase its stake in the broadcaster from 5% to 50%.
Those iHeart ambitions on Liberty Media's part created some competition law concerns because it already owned a controlling 72% stake in satellite broadcaster Sirius, which in turn owns outright personalised radio service Pandora. If Liberty Media also basically controlled the iHeart business, that would make it a very dominant player in the US radio sector, where AM/FM, satellite and online services now all compete for listeners and advertisers.
Particular concerns were expressed in the music community, because as well as controlling Sirius XM, Liberty Media also owns a third of Live Nation, the biggest live music and ticketing company in the world. And those concerns led to the Artist Rights Alliance signing up to a letter asking the DoJ to block any bid by Liberty to become a significant shareholder in iHeartMedia.
That letter stated: “"With just its current holdings, including Pandora and SiriusXM and a major stake in Ticketmaster/LiveNation, Liberty Media already has far too much control over the music ecosystem. With artists, performers, and consumers already facing unprecedented uncertainty and risk [the] DoJ should put the brakes on this dangerous threat to creative livelihoods and consumer options".
The DoJ didn't put the brakes on, but - it seems - Liberty Media has nevertheless given up on its ambitions to take control of iHeart. According to the SEC filing, having already offloaded a minority of its iHeart shares, Liberty Media then sold off all its remaining stock in one big $150 million transaction on 5 Oct.
Bastille announce new album, Give Me The Future
The concept behind the record is life in an age of rapidly-changing new technology, and how sometimes it can feel like we're all living in science fiction. The idea was born pre-pandemic, but took on a different life as songwriter Dan Smith put it together during lockdown.
"Working on these songs in such an apocalyptic period, with everyone stuck at home, glued to screens, fed into the feeling that what is real and what is not has become pretty difficult to discern sometimes", he says. "We're in the age of deep fake, fake news and lying world leaders. But online, you can be anyone. What that does to our sense of self and to our relationships is huge and it's fascinating".
"I'm just observing the truly weird times we’re living in and having fun responding to it through these songs", he goes on. "As the final track - 'Who Knows What the Future Holds… Don't Matter If I Got You' - says, this is happening, whether we like it or not. Finding happiness in the moment is surely the aim, whether it’s in the real or virtual world".
For the album, the band pulled in several collaborators, including songwriters Ryan Tedder and Rami Yacoub. Riz Ahmed also delivers a spoken word piece, called 'Promises'.
BMG has promoted both Angela Barkan and Cyndi Lynott to Senior Vice President Of Marketing, based in New York and LA respectively. Thomas Scherer, President Of Repertoire & Marketing, LA & New York, says: "With their collective experience and expertise across multiple genres, Angela and Cyndi have directly contributed to the overall growth and success of BMG's New York and Los Angeles recorded business. These two promotions are well earned, well deserved, and will ensure the most creative and well-executed campaigns for our artists".
Black Lives In Music has just released the first of four short films on topics related to the organisation's recent report. Titled 'Black Women In Music', the video features Kima Otung and Paulette Long. Watch here.
Willow has released the video for 'Grow', from her 'Lately I Feel Everything' album, in which Avril Lavigne turns up for her guest spot.
Courtney Barnett has written and performed the theme tune for new animated Apple TV+ series 'Harriet The Spy'. It's called 'Smile Real Nice'. There's even more from Barnett coming up, with her new album, 'Things Take Time, Take Time', out on 12 Nov.
Myrkur has released new song 'Rivers Blessed', which she says is "about my journey into motherhood, a path that by no means was easy but it changed my life and how I view the world forever".
Blawan is set to release new EP 'Woke Up Right Handed' on 12 Nov. From it, this is 'Under Belly'.
Jlin is back with new track 'Embryo', the first single from an upcoming EP of the same name. "I was just writing trying to get out of my own head", she says of the EP. "I wrote all these pieces in between commissions and trying to stay afloat mentally". The EP is out on 10 Dec.
Featuring the sons of Slipknot's Corey Taylor and Shawn Crahan - Griffin and Simon are their names - Vended have released new single 'Burn My Misery'. The band's debut EP, 'What Is It/Kill It', is out on 12 Nov.
All We Are have released new single 'Eden'. It is, the band say, a "groovy, slinky, sly tune, for those temptress moments. What is to live, if not to eat and drink and breathe and to love". They are currently on tour around the UK.
Nation Of Language are back with new single 'The Grey Commute'. They will be in the UK for shows in January.
GIGS & TOURS
The Weeknd has announced that he is pushing back his world tour dates, originally scheduled for 2019, once again. New dates are yet to be announced, but they will now start in summer 2022. In a novel change from the norm, the delay is not due to the pandemic, but because the planned arena tour now "requires stadiums".
Stormzy's delayed UK arena tour will now take place in March and April next year. Original tickets for the shows remain valid, and the few that remain are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
KLF publisher seeking to block documentary on copyright grounds
According to The Guardian, the film, by director Chris Atkins, is not endorsed by KLF members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, despite it basically being a tribute to their music, art and infamous accompanying antics.
Indeed, not only is the documentary not endorsed, Drummond and Cauty seem very much against it. Or at least Cauty does. Discussing the then planned film in a 2016 interview, he said: "We don't want to do it – it's like an archaeological dig through the past. We're doing other things that we think are much more interesting".
That might be why the duo's publisher, Warner Chappell, tried - albeit unsuccessfully - to block a recent screening of the documentary at a film festival in Texas. The film includes snippets of KLF tracks like '3am Eternal' and 'What Time Is Love?' and those snippets have not been licensed. However, Atkins argues that no licence is required because the use of the music in his documentary is covered by the critical analysis exception in copyright law.
Found in many copyright systems, that exception says that an extract of a copyright protected work can be used without licence if it forms part of a critical analysis. So, after the snippet is played, the work is then critiqued. Atkins argues that that happens in his film, because it features archive audio recordings of Drummond and Cauty themselves critiquing their own work.
But Warner Chappell does not agree. A spokesperson told The Guardian: "We always champion the value of our songwriters' music. Feature-length documentaries made for profit which make extensive use of an artist's music are not covered by the fair dealing exception to copyright law, which is why we took action in this case".
The moves by Warner Chappell to block 'Who Killed The KLF?' on copyright grounds sees the duo very much on the other side of the copyright fence from where they started in the 1980s.
Uncleared samples in their early tracks created some famous and amusing run-ins with the music industry, most notably an unsuccessful trip to Sweden during which the duo hoped they could personally settle a dispute with Abba over their unlicensed use of 'Dancing Queen' on a track on their debut album. With no deal done with Abba, Drummond and Cauty threw some of their copyright infringing albums into the North Sea, and burned a load more in a field in Gothenburg.