|TUESDAY 1 FEBRUARY 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Statements made on Sunday evening by Daniel Ek and Joe Rogan may have slightly slowed down the momentum of the big old Spotify backlash kickstarted by Neil Young last week, but it seems likely bolder commitments will be needed to successfully navigate the current COVID misinformation controversy. Certainly that's what Wendy Zukerman reckons. And she, in case you wondered, is the host and executive producer of Science Vs, a popular podcast owned by, oh look, Spotify... [READ MORE]|
Spotify science podcaster hits out at Spotify's response to Rogan backlash
Ek and Rogan were forced to comment after Neil Young demanded that his music be removed from the streaming platform in protest at misinformation about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines that has featured on the hugely popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast, which is exclusively distributed by Spotify.
Young's protest was motivated by a recent open letter signed by more than 250 scientists and medics which said Rogan's podcast had "a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic". That letter took particular aim at a recent edition of the podcast which featured controversial COVID vaccine critic Dr Robert Malone, although the experts said they also had more general concerns about alleged COVID misinformation that has been given credibility on the Joe Rogan Experience.
With plenty of other artists coming out in support of Young - and some also threatening to pull their music from the service - Spotify boss Ek issued a statement on Sunday evening insisting that his company had existing policies to tackle misinformation and other harmful content uploaded to the company's platform, but admitted that it needed to be more transparent about those policies.
He also said that Spotify would start signposting information on COVID-19 that is widely endorsed by the medical and scientific communities alongside any podcasts that discuss the virus, the vaccines and the pandemic.
Those commitments - although welcomed - haven't really placated many of those who spoke out against misinformation on the Rogan podcast.
Most critics have pointed out that while Spotify should have rigorous and transparent policies for dealing with harmful content contained in third party podcasts pumped into its platform - just like all the social media and user-upload platforms do - when it comes to the Joe Rogan podcast the company could and should do more to tackle COVID misinformation, because it basically owns the programme.
In his video statement on Instagram, Rogan did say that he'd try harder to research his more controversial guests so that he is in a better place to challenge their more controversial opinions and statements. And he added that he recognised the need to counter-balance controversial guests with other experts. Which he already does to an extent, but those other experts usually appear weeks later, rather than right alongside the controversial opinions.
However, Rogan stood by his decision to book controversial guests, insisting that people like Malone have solid credentials, even if their opinions are disputed by the scientific consensus.
Among those who reckon Ek and Rogan still have more to do to tackle the distribution of dangerous misinformation on Spotify - including in the Joe Rogan Experience - is Zukerman, whose Science Vs podcast is made by Spotify-owned Gimlet Media, and which sets out to take on "fads, trends and the opinionated mob to find out what's fact, what's not, and what's somewhere in between".
In an open letter to Ek posted to her Twitter feed yesterday, Zukerman wrote: "Throughout the pandemic, Spotify has given Science Vs the resources we needed to produce accurate content about the coronavirus. For more than six months, we've been encouraging our listeners to move to Spotify and telling them that this is the company that supports us to create factual episodes that are grounded in science. Spotify's support of Joe Rogan's podcast has felt like a slap in the face".
Taking on the Malone episode of the Joe Rogan Experience in particular, she continued: "As Science Vs will show in an upcoming episode, during Rogan's interview with Dr Robert Malone, information about the vaccines is repeatedly taken out of context. There's plenty of scientific evidence that contradicts some of the claims in the interview - but it's nowhere to be found in the episode. Rogan's show leaves the audience with a skewed and inaccurate view of the COVID-19 vaccines. And Spotify has done little to address this".
Noting Ek's statement at the weekend, she said: "On Sunday, Spotify published its platform rules, but we do not think they go far enough. Until Spotify implements stronger methods to prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform, we will no longer be making new Science Vs episodes, except those intended to counteract misinformation being spread on Spotify".
"We understand that moderating content across a large platform can be difficult, but we think Spotify has a responsibility to do more", she added, before offering to help her paymaster work out what else could be done. "Our next step will be looking into the effectiveness of various strategies that tech platforms are using to combat misinformation, and we're happy to discuss our findings with you".
"More broadly - as Spotify acknowledges that its position in the tech world has changed from music platform to publisher of exclusive content - this is an opportunity to learn from past industry mistakes and set a new standard for promoting evidence-based content. We hope Spotify rises to the challenge".
It remains to be seen what further statements Spotify makes on this whole hoo haa - and that may well depend on the extent to which this current backlash continues.
However, it seems likely that - beyond any ramping up of the company's platform-wide systems for dealing with harmful content - more coherent editorial policies for what are basically Spotify owned podcasts will also be required.
And that might involve more joined up thinking between the different podcasts it has acquired or exclusively licensed, given that within the group Spotify arguably already has the expertise it needs to deal with the editorial problems that have been raised about Rogan's show.
Warner announces partnership with green NFT firm OneOf
Except, of course, there are all those lingering concerns about the environmental impact of NFTs and all the power required to run blockchain-based good times. Although, quite how much energy NFTs eat up does depend on what blockchain platform is used and how that platform is set up.
Most of the over-hyped NFT shenanigans last year utilised the Etherum blockchain which - although more energy efficient than Bitcoin - is pretty greedy when it comes to power. Although it's in the process of changing the way it works so to reduce its energy consumption. Meanwhile, other blockchain based start-ups are bragging that the platforms they are using are even more eco-friendly.
This is relevant because Warner's latest Web3 deal is with OneOf, which claims that its "platform mints NFTs that are up to two million times more energy efficient than the competition". And it's looking to dabble in various kinds of music NFTs, including so called digital collectables and royalty based tokens. And it will now be doing at least some of that dabbling with Warner Music.
Says Warner's Chief Digital Officer & EVP Business Development Oana Ruxandra: "Web3 is a massive leap forward in technology: it will expand the scale and scope of both human and machine interactions far beyond what we can imagine today. Partnering with OneOf, a leader in the emerging technology space of Web3 and NFTs, gives our artists an edge in more authentically building one-to-one relationships with their fans and winning in the new Web3 economy. We're excited to see what's possible".
Meanwhile, OneOf CEO Lin Dai adds: "From collectibles to music royalties, NFTs and Web3 represent the pulse of consumer demand and an exciting future for the music industry. We are THRILLED to partner and innovate together with Warner Music Group and use our cutting edge Web3 technology to bring their iconic labels and world-renowned artists to the next 100 million fans on blockchain".
Good times. Now let's all go and plant some trees. Just in case.
FUGA announces deal with Mascot Label Group
Confirming the deal, Mascot CEO Ed Van Zijl says: "We have seen digital become more and more a part of our world and our turnover, and have been considering what we want streaming to be for us. We are delighted to have finally made our decision to join FUGA - a decision that we feel most powerfully maintains our independence".
Meanwhile, the GM for FUGA Benelux, Anneke Stulp, adds: "We are very excited to be working closely with the globally esteemed Mascot Label Group to support their digital goals and provide their talented roster with quality distribution services. We look forward to helping a completely independent label continue their ever-growing digital performance with our support and insight".
Sony extends free counselling and well-being services to songwriters
It basically extends to Sony's songwriters the service launched last year by the recordings side of the major which offers the same support to artists working with Sony labels.
It's also part of Sony's Forward initiative - Artists Forward and Songwriters Forward - which is all about finding ways to better support artists and songwriters, in part positioning Sony as the artist-friendly major.
Announcing Songwriter Assistance to the major's songwriters and composers, Sony Music Publishing chief Jon Platt said: "We are committed to providing you with services that matter. The importance of wellness cannot be overstated, and with Songwriter Assistance we look forward to offering a whole new level of care and support".
Meanwhile, the major's SVP Publishing Administration, Amy Cranford, added: "We are passionate about taking care of Sony Music Publishing's songwriters and composers and providing them with the best level of support. As we continue to expand our services with Songwriters Forward, we are proud to implement SMP's Songwriter Assistance initiative".
European management grouping appoints new Executive Directive, confirms German trade body as new member
That German association is the Interest Group Music Managers & Consultants - or IMUC - the President of which - Wolfgang Weyand - says: "We are very pleased to become a part of the united voice of European managers. In general, and particularly in these difficult times, it has become clear how important it is to work for a constructive dialogue between the industry and policy-makers, both on a national and international level".
Commenting on IMUC joining the Alliance, EMMA Chair Per Kviman notes that Germany becomes the tenth country signed up to the pan-European group. As a result, "the organisation now represents management companies based in all the most commercially successful territories in Europe. We look forward to working together to support these entrepreneurs, and the artists and music-makers they represent, as we move forward after the pandemic".
The new EMMA Executive Director is Petra Kauraisa, who has previously worked in marketing roles in the music, film and festival sectors. In her new job, she will be responsible for EMMA's general management, as well as leading on policy issues, educational activities and partnerships.
Commenting on Kauraisa's appointment, Kviman adds: "I am delighted to welcome Petra as our new Executive Director and look forward to working with her to take our organisation forward, expanding our engagement with other industry organisations and policy-makers. I would also like to say thanks to Petra's predecessor, Yvonne Stausboll, and the important work she did behind the scenes, especially during the pandemic".
Tom Gray becomes Chair of the Ivors Academy
That campaign, of course, worked closely with the #fixstreaming initiative instigated by the Ivors Academy and the Musicians' Union in pushing for and then contributing to the UK Parliament's inquiry into the economics of streaming. And then in supporting the private members bill proposed by Kevin Brennan MP which, had it passed, would have made some of the copyright reforms proposed by that inquiry.
Gray takes over from Crispin Hunt - another artist and songwriter who has been very vocal in the big streaming debate - and who announced that he was standing down as Chair of the Ivors just last week.
The Academy has rejigged its structures in recent years, and when commenting on his appointment as the organisation's new Chair, Gray also explained the process behind that appointment. "To arrive in my new position, I was first elected by the membership to our new Senate", he said. "Those 40 creators - from every imaginable musical background - elected me to the most diverse board we have ever had, who, in turn, made me their Chair".
On that appointment, he added: "I cannot overstate the gravity and privilege of this mandate. It feels both a gift and a burden, albeit a beautiful one. A gift to support, champion and reward the brilliance of music-makers, a burden because I want to do nothing but my best for our community".
Gray also acknowledged in his statement that his #brokenrecord campaign has proven controversial in parts of the music industry, and by being so outspoken on the whole streaming debate he has courted plenty of controversy himself. "I suspect there may be some uneasiness at my election", he added, "and we should face that head on. Reform is never easy. It isn't comfortable and is always challenging, but it makes things better".
"I have no desire for this wonderful, venerable organisation to be treated as an outsider", he went on. "We are not an angry rabble; we will remain your friends. Critical friends of the issues facing creators but, more fundamentally and always, critical to the process of making music. We are central to this industry and my intention is merely to put our interests there too".
Also commenting on the appointment was Ivors CEO Graham Davies, who said: "Congratulations to Tom on becoming the new Chair. The reputation of the Ivors Academy as the leading advocates for songwriters and composers is growing. Tom is one of the most vocal champions of music and we look forward to working with him in this new role".
Def Leppard have expanded their existing partnership with Primary Wave Music, with the company taking a stake in the band's publishing catalogue and recording royalties. "We are THRILLED to continue building and elevating not only the band's musical body of work but their impact in pop culture and the industry in general", says Chief Digital Strategy Officer Rob Dippold.
Black Country, New Road frontman Isaac Wood has left the band, citing mental health reasons, just days before the release of their second album. All upcoming tour dates have been cancelled.
Doja Cat has released the video for 'Get Into It (Yuh)' from her 'Planet Her' album. She's also cancelled her appearance at next week's BRIT Awards because a number of her crew have come down with COVID.
George Ezra will release his third album 'Gold Rush Kid' on 10 Jun. Here's new single 'Anyone For You'.
Dashboard Confessional have released new single 'Burning Heart'. "The conceit of this song reflects the fact that I'm holding in a lot", says frontman Chris Carrabba. "I have a lot to say to the person I love in this moment. The idea in this setting is that I'm here to fight for this".
Tokyo Girls Style have released new single 'Days - Kimi Dake Ga Inai Machi'.
Whipped Cream has teamed up with Moore Kismet, Big Freedia and Uniique3 for new track 'Hold Up'. "Once I was done with the beat", says Whipped Cream, "I wanted to bring on a variety of artists that have really inspired me to keep going as my true self and have them lay their message down on the record in any way they wanted [with] the message 'I am who I am whether you like it, accept it or not and I was born to do this, be here and shine'".
GIGS & TOURS
Peaches will be in the UK for a run of tour dates in June, including a performance at Grace Jones's Meltdown Festival at London's Southbank Centre on 11 Jun.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kanye West not "doing a fucking NFT", but is working with Marilyn Manson
Currently at work on new album 'Donda 2', the rapper is seemingly frustrated at the number of interruptions he's getting from people banging on about how he should mint an NFT or two.
"STOP ASKING ME TO DO NFTs", he shouts in a post on Instagram. "FOR NOW I'M NOT ON THAT WAVE. I MAKE MUSIC AND PRODUCTS IN THE REAL WORLD".
An attached handwritten note adds: "My focus is on building real products in the real world. Real food. Real clothes. Real shelter. Do not ask me to do a fucking NFT".
Although, as noted, he does then say "ask me later", so he's not ruling it out.
Anyway, there are more important questions to be asking right now. Like, why is West still working with Marilyn Manson?
West collaborated with Manson on 'Donda' track 'Jail 2' last year, as well as bringing him out at one of the album's listening events, despite numerous allegations of sexual assault and abuse having been made against the rock star - albeit allegations he denies.
The collaboration was heavily criticised, but now West has seemingly doubled down on his support for Manson, involving him more heavily in the making of the 'Donda' sequel.
West producer Digital Nas tells Rolling Stone: "I see Marilyn a lot in the studio. Like, every day I go to the studio, Marilyn is there working on 'Donda 2'".
"[West] doesn't want Marilyn to play rap beats", Nas continues. "He wants Marilyn to play what he makes, and then Ye will take parts of that and sample parts of that and use parts of that, like he did [on] 'Yeezus'. He has some producers from 'Yeezus' working on 'Donda 2' this time around, [as well as] Marilyn, me [and] a bunch of producers from 'Donda 1'".
It remains to be seen how much of Manson's work features on 'Donda 2' if and when it arrives on its scheduled release date of 22 Feb.
With the various lawsuits against Manson now working their way through the courts, as well as new Evan Rachel Wood documentary 'Phoenix Rising' detailing more of his alleged abuse against her, his continued work with West will only become more controversial. There will also likely be demands on Universal Music to refuse to release the record.