|MONDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Kieran Hebden - aka Four Tet - has hit out at Domino Records for removing three of his albums from streaming services, allegedly because of the ongoing legal battle between the musician and the indie label... [READ MORE]|
Four Tet hits out at Domino for removing his albums from streaming services as legal battle over digital royalties continues
It emerged in August that Hebden had sued Domino over the digital royalties it is paying him on albums that stem from a 2001 record deal, and a record contract that didn't specifically talk about streaming. The musician argues that, under the terms of that contact, he should be receiving a 50% share of all or most of the digital income generated by those records, but the label is paying him an 18% share.
However, Domino argues that that's an incorrect interpretation of the contract, and that a term covering downloads in that deal should also be applied to streams, which is where the 18% royalty rate comes from.
Meanwhile, when the contract talks about paying Hebden a 50% share of monies stemming from international licensing deals, that - the label says - specifically covers what would happen if Domino ever allowed another label to release his music in another market under licence, and is not a term that should apply to any digital licensing deals outside the UK.
The legal dispute is ongoing and is due to head to court in January. The litigation is also why three of Hebden's Domino released albums are no longer available to stream, or at least so says the musician on Twitter.
He wrote this weekend: "I'm so upset to see that Domino Records have removed the three albums of mine they own from digital and streaming services. This is heartbreaking to me. People are reaching out asking why they can't stream the music and I'm sad to have to say that it's out of my control".
"I have an ongoing legal dispute with Domino over the rate they pay me for streaming that is due to be heard in court on 18 Jan", he goes on. "Earlier this week, Domino's legal representative said they would remove my music from all digital services in order to stop the case progressing. I did not agree to them taking this action and I'm truly shocked that it has come to this".
"I signed with Domino over 20 years ago, in a different time before streaming and downloads were something we thought about", he continues. "I considered the people who ran Domino to be my friends and to be driven by trying to create a great musical community. As a result, Domino own three of my albums forever. Music I created that's important to me and to many of you too".
"I believe there is an issue within the music industry on how the money is being shared out in the streaming era and I think it's time for artists to be able to ask for a fairer deal", he adds. "It's time to try and make changes where we can. I'm not driven by the money, but I have to make a stand when I am experiencing something that's simply unfair".
The legal battle between Hebden and Domino comes at a time, of course, when artist/label relationships - and especially how old record deals are interpreted when music consumption habits change - are very much in the spotlight, thanks to the UK Parliament's Economics Of Streaming inquiry, and the #brokenrecord and #fixstreaming campaigns.
At the end of that inquiry, Parliament's culture select committee made a number of recommendations for how copyright law could be changed to empower artists in that domain. That included a contract adjustment mechanism that would allow artists to force a renegotiation of old deals, and a reversion right via which artists could take ownership of copyrights from former label partners after a period of time.
And, of course, there is the proposal that at least some digital income flow directly to artists via the collective licensing system - as currently happens with radio royalties - rather than all the money going to a label or distributor, with artist pay outs entirely subject to contract.
Responding to Parliament's inquiry, the UK government said that all three of those proposals needed more consideration, and to that end the Intellectual Property Office is in the process of commissioning some research. However, culture select committee member Kevin Brennan MP is putting his own proposals forward to Parliament as a private members bill, which would instigate some of those copyright reforms sooner.
Brennan posted on Twitter this weekend to argue that Hebden's run in with Domino demonstrates why those reforms are needed.
Quoting Hebden's tweets, he stated: "This thread shows exactly why my bill is needed - artist challenges record company on low rate paid for their music based on contract from before streaming even existed - label response? Remove his music from streaming platforms! That's why the campaign is called #brokenrecord".
Chuck D says Live Nation not Travis Scott should be held responsible for Astroworld tragedy
Ten people died and hundreds more were injured after a crowd surge occurred during Scott's headline set at the latest edition of the Astroworld event that he founded, which was staged at Houston’s NRG Park on 5 Nov. A criminal investigation is currently underway led by the Houston Police Department seeking to identify what led to the crowd surge, and to what extent poor planning or bad decision making on the ground contributed to the tragedy.
A stack of lawsuits have also been filed in relation to the tragic events that took place at Astroworld 2021, all naming Scott himself as well as the festival's promoters, Live Nation and Scoremore, as defendants.
Scott has also come in for lots of criticism online, with many questioning why he didn't halt his Astroworld set sooner, given that he performed for more than half an hour after police had declared a "mass casualty event".
However, sources close to Scott have insisted that he was not aware of the tragedy unfolding in front of him during his Astroworld performance, and that it was the job of the festival's promoter to make a call on if and when the show should have been called off.
This is the position taken by Chuck D, who also criticises Astroworld's promoters for only issuing short non-committal statements in the wake of the tragedy, even as Scott has faced intense criticism.
"I cannot believe we're at the point where I gotta say this out loud: Travis Scott is a performer, an act, not a concert promoter", he writes in his open letter. "He doesn't run the sound or venues or festivals or their staff. He doesn't build stages or coordinate logistics, he's not an expert in crowd control or security or emergency medical services".
"But he does trust Live Nation and all the other concert promoters who are supposed to do all of this", he adds. "I'm tired of these corporations shucking their most crucial responsibility. These folks simply say 'rest in peace' and move on. This negligence can't continue. Folks want answers".
He then continues: "I'm not buying the Young Black Man did it. He's being blamed for a crime while the old white men running the corps that Travis and his fans trusted with their lives stay quiet in the shadows, counting their money and watching their stock prices go up and up".
Some have argued that, while Scott may not have had any specific control over crowd management at Astroworld 2021, he did have a history of encouraging his fans to behave recklessly at his shows, including at his festival. And if and when the lawsuits get to court, lawyers will likely argue that that made a tragedy like that which occurred earlier this month foreseeable.
Responding to those arguments, Chuck D goes on: "The excuse of Scott's irresponsible actions don't wash – if his act had a history of that behaviour why promote him to bigger venues, why partner with him in the first place and let him headline a bigger audience?"
To that end, he adds, it should be Live Nation that is held accountable for the Astroworld tragedy (co-promoter Scoremore basically being a Live Nation subsidiary).
"Live Nation controlled this show", he writes. "They control almost all of the concert venues. Artists ain't speaking out because these same cats are already bought by these corporations. No one can say a word against them unless they want to be blacklisted and hurt their careers".
Name checking Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, he goes on: "So I am calling on Michael Rapino's entire team at Live Nation and a consortium of all the major concert promoters out there to do the right thing".
"To step up and step out of the shadows to fix these situations and save lives. To stop letting one Young Black Man take the blame, the hate, the fall. We don't know everything that happened or exactly what failed. But concert promoters have all the power to make the changes to keep everyone safe and alive".
Chuck D's letter then concludes: "Live Nation, your stock is up. The White Corporate Music Biz keeps cashing in on Black Pain, Trauma and Death. This has to stop yesterday. You're part of the problem. Grow the fuck up, fix this and let us all live in peace".
Roo Panes signs publishing deal with BDi Music
"Roo is a terrific songwriter with a great body of work", says BDi founder Sarah Liversedge. "There's plenty of exciting material to come, with some really interesting collaborations in the pipeline as well. I'm very happy to welcome him to the BDi family".
Panes adds: "I'm really excited to be part of the BDi family. Writing's always been my passion so I can't wait to get going and push some new creative doors!"
Following two singles over the summer, Panes released his latest track, 'Remember Fall In Montreal', last month.
Brix Smith becomes President of The F-List
Smith's appointment comes exactly a year after The F-List - initially a project set up by music industry equality and diversity campaigner Vick Bain - was relaunched as a social enterprise, ramping up its profile and reach. She takes over from composer and musician Anoushka Shankar, the organisation's first President.
Bain originally set up The F-List in response to festivals and broadcasters claiming that they struggled to find female music-makers to book and commission. Based on her academic work on diversity in the music industry, she began building a database of artists, songwriters and musicians that those festivals and broadcasters could work with.
Looking back at its first year as a formal social enterprise, The F-List says that it has worked with "numerous festivals and event promoters in a variety of ways, from sourcing female musicians and helping to curate line-ups, to supporting and celebrating already female friendly line-ups, including Rave To The Moon, Under The Stars, Primadonna, Brighton 7s Festival, OneFest, Tsitsit Jewish Fringe Festival, Secret Sessions Festival and OnJam online events".
The organisation has also "officially partnered with seven music industry organisations over the year, including the Association Of Independent Festivals, Independent Venue Week, Skiddle, Scottish Women Inventing Music and the Grassroots Music Network" with whom they have had "a variety of activities and mutual support".
The organisation adds that it welcomes "every festival promoter and booker to utilise the platform and to be the agents of change as we shift towards a diversified and inclusive music industry".
Meanwhile, commenting on her appointment as President of The F-List, Smith says: "The F-list is an incredible resource and a highly valuable support system for females within in the UK music industry. At long last there exists a vehicle that collates our talents and skills across multiple facets of the music industry, connecting us, supporting us, and highlighting our assets to the wider world".
"I have been a female in the music industry for 38 years", she adds, "[since] I joined The Fall as a guitarist and songwriter. If you look at my hands you will see the scars from punching the glass ceiling. Though at times it's been daunting, I was lucky enough to have a strong mother who told me: 'You can be anything you want in this world, don't let the fact that you are a woman stop you'".
"Before me, there were only a handful of high-profile female players who I could look to as role models. There were even fewer female music executives or women in positions of power within the industry to rely on as allies or to champion the cause of inclusion. Now at last the tide is turning and it is resources like the F-List that are helping to turn it".
"The time for inclusivity and diversity, in all aspects of life, is now", she concludes. "I am proud to be a contributor to this change. I will endeavour to raise as much awareness as possible while continuing to fight the good fight musically and to level the playing field once and for all. I believe that being a woman is my superpower. So, let's harness all our superpowers and change the landscape".
Artist behind The NFT Bay says the project is a warning to potential NFT buyers
NFTs are tokens stored on a blockchain that usually contain information in relation to a piece of content, physical or digital. That information often relates to who owns or has access to the content that the token is linked to.
There has been much talk about how NFTs bring scarcity to digital content, and NFTs linked to digital art, video and music have been selling for mega-bucks. However, the content any one NFT is linked to is often just stored on a conventional server somewhere, making it very easy to pirate. And which might also mean that content just disappears at some point.
Supporters of the NFT phenomenon would argue that what buyers are buying when they purchase a non-fungible token isn't simply access - exclusive or otherwise - to the content itself, but an official status in relation to the content, as either owner or licensee. And an official status that is confirmed for everyone to see on the blockchain. So, basically they are buying bragging rights.
But NFT nay-sayers reckon that it's mad to spend mega-bucks to basically buy a digital file that will inevitably get copied and shared - and therefore be available for free - across the internet.
An info page on The NFT Bay - a website designed very much to look like The Pirate Bay - declares: "Did you know that a NFT is just a hyperlink to an image that's usually hosted on Google Drive or another web 2.0 host? People are dropping millions on instructions on how to download images".
"That's why you can right click save-as because they are standard images", it goes on. "The image is not stored in the blockchain. The image is not stored in the blockchain contract".
"As web 2.0 webhosts are known to go offline", it continues, "this handy torrent contains all of the NFTs so that future generations can study this generation's tulip mania and collectively go 'WTF? We destroyed our planet for THIS?!"
The latter part of that statement refers to the 'tulip mania' phenomenon and crash of the seventeenth century, while the final exclamation relates to concerns about the environmental impact of NFTs and the blockchains they rely on.
The creator of The NFT Bay is artist and programmer Geoffrey Huntley, who told Vice's Motherboard last week: "Fundamentally, I hope through The NFT Bay people learn to understand what people are buying when purchasing NFT art right now is nothing more than directions on how to access or download an image. The image is not stored on the blockchain and the majority of images I've seen are hosted on web 2.0 storage, which is likely to end up as 404 meaning the NFT has even less value".
Huntley adds that he thinks there is probably something of value to the core proposition of the NFT phenomenon - though not in the way said phenomenon is currently headed, and not necessarily built upon the blockchain.
"The utility (and value) of NFTs will be created through social media platforms", he added. "For many digital representation is [greater than] physical representation and - if/when - Twitter/TikTok roll out the ability to display flair on a social media profile that will be a turning point".
"We see how bananas people go over the Twitter blue verified check mark - now think how social media will change when it has the ability to display verifiable proof of membership vs adding the words to a social media bio. All of this, however, could be achieved without blockchain".
Make of all that what you will.
American Music Awards handed out
BTS, Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat all took away three awards, with the South Korean boyband winning the big Artist Of The Year trophy. The group also performed with Coldplay, with the first TV performance of their song together, 'My Universe'.
Voted for by American music fans, nominees for the shortlists are picked based on metrics such as streams, album sales and radio airplay.
Here's the full list of winners:
Artist Of The Year: BTS
Hip Hop Awards
Reservoir has acquired the catalogue of songwriter and producer Dallas Austin. That catalogue "is deep with great cuts, and we are so happy to bring some of his fantastic music to Reservoir", says the firm's EVP A&R And Catalogue Development, Faith Newman. "We look forward to continuing his music's legacy".
Gloworks Publishing has signed Christian rapper Guvna B to a worldwide publishing deal. "The landscape of British music at the moment is really exciting", he says. "After what has been a challenging year for most, there's a great opportunity for music with a message that is uplifting, hopeful and inspiring".
Universal Music's Def Jam in the US has promoted Noah Sheer to Executive Vice President and Head Of Promotion. "22 years ago when I landed a gig at Def Jam Recordings, I was awestruck. Dream-come-true shit", he says. "Not only is this the most iconic and legendary record label in existence, but it has graciously provided me some of the most significant and incomparable life-altering experiences".
Maciej Kutak has been promoted to CEO of Universal Music Poland and SVP of Universal Central Eastern Europe. He will officially take up his new posts on 1 Jan. "In the last few years in Poland, Maciej has very successfully demonstrated his expertise and innovative spirit", says Universal Central Europe CEO Frank Briegmann. "As part of our strategy for Central Europe, which is based above all on cooperation and transfer of content and knowledge between markets, he will now take on an additional role in our international structure".
Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder will release new solo album, 'Earthling', on 11 Feb. Here's new single 'The Haves'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Adele convinces Spotify to stop shuffling albums
"This was the only request I had in our ever changing industry", the musician tweeted yesterday. "We don't create albums with so much care and thought into our tracklisting for no reason. Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended. Thank you Spotify for listening".
For years, album pages on Spotify have featured a big play button that shuffled the tracks into a random order when pressed. To get the streaming service to just stream the album as the artist intended, you had to click on track one to play from beginning to end.
Now, you can start banging on about the death of the album all you want, but artists are still making them and people are still listening to them, whatever you say. And if someone ends up on a specific page dedicated to a specific album within a streaming app, you've got to reckon that they were hoping to listen to it as intended.
This always made Spotify's shuffle play button pretty much redundant, but the streaming service insisted on keeping it there anyway.
Acknowledging that it's been a dick about this for ages, Spotify said in a statement confirming the change: "As Adele mentioned, we are excited to share that we have begun rolling out a new Premium feature that has been long requested by both users and artists to make 'play' the default button on all albums".
"For those users still wishing to shuffle an album", it went on, "they can go to the Now Playing View and select the 'shuffle' toggle. As always, we will continue to iterate our products and features to create the best experiences for both artists and their fans".
So, yeah, in the unlikely event that you want to listen to albums shuffled into a random order, then you still can. But you shouldn't. Don't make Spotify think that was ever a good idea.