|WEDNESDAY 30 MARCH 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US Copyright Royalty Board has published a statement on its review of what royalty rate should be paid to songwriters and music publishers when discs and downloads are sold Stateside, concluding that a proposed settlement put forward by the major record companies and the National Music Publishers Association - which would have kept the current rate in force - is not a "reasonable basis" on which to set the rate for 2023 to 2027... [READ MORE]|
US Copyright Royalty Board rejects proposal to keep mechanical royalty on discs and downloads unchanged
These royalty rates being considered by the Copyright Royalty Board relate to the compulsory licence that exists for the mechanical copying of songs in the US. Because of that compulsory licence, the CRB ultimately decides what royalty rate American labels pay publishers when they press physical records or sell downloads, as well as setting the rate paid by streaming services when songs are streamed by American users.
The rates regularly come up for review, allowing all parties to argue before the CRB for why those rates should be increased, decreased or kept the same. With the streaming rates, the NMPA has been very proactive in seeking to increase what royalties the streaming services pay.
As a result the CRB set in motion a staggered increase of the streaming rate between 2018 and 2022, so that it would increase from 10.5% to 15.1% of the revenue allocated to any one track, basically bringing the statutory right under the US compulsory licence more or less in line with the rate that had been negotiated on the open market elsewhere in the world. Though, of course, most of the streaming services have been controversially appealing that decision.
That appeal is still ongoing even though the CRB is now also considering what the rates should be for 2023 to 2027. This time round the NMPA is pushing for an additional increase to 20%. Most of the streaming services are pushing for 10.5%, possibly in the hope that they end up with something closer to 15%.
However, when it comes to the rate on discs and downloads, the NMPA didn't opt to battle for an increase. Supporters of that decision argue that discs and downloads are now such a small part of the US record industry - 15% combined in 2021 - that it's not a good use of resource for the publishers to get their lawyers and lobbyists fighting that particular battle, when they are already busy battling the big digital platforms over the streaming rate.
But there has been plenty of criticism of the NMPA's position within the songwriting community, with critics pointing out that the vinyl revival continues apace, physical sales actually went up in the US last year, and the NFT fad could even result in a resurgence in downloads.
Many of those critics have also pointed out that - unlike with the streaming royalties - the record labels are the main customers of mechanical rights licences when it comes to discs and downloads. And the NMPA's three biggest members are the major publishers who, obviously, are directly connected to the major record companies.
Despite that criticism, the NMPA nevertheless reached a settlement with the record companies - which was also backed by the Nashville Songwriters Association International - that would have kept the current mechanical royalty rate on discs and downloads in place. Crucially, that rate is a fixed fee per copy - set at 9.1 cents - not a percentage of revenue, which means the real world value of the royalty has actually decreased due to inflation since it was first set in 2006.
With all the in mind, that proposal - once made - started to become increasingly controversial in the songwriting community. Songwriter George Johnson led the charge, with various organisations representing songwriters in America and beyond - in particular the Songwriters Guild Of America, the Society Of Composers & Lyricists and Music Creators North America - also subsequently making submissions to the CRB urging it to reject the proposed settlement.
After the CRB pushed back the deadline for such submissions at various points last year, the judges on the board had plenty of material to consider. And, having done their considering, in a document published yesterday they stated: "The judges find that the proposed settlement does not provide a reasonable basis for setting statutory rates and terms".
As a result, the various participants in this review now need to come up with an alternative proposed settlement in private, or the whole thing will end up properly before the CRB with all parties arguing their cases, as is happening with the streaming rates.
Despite the CRB basically ruling against the settlement it negotiated and supported, the NMPA nevertheless welcomed this development, telling Billboard: "We are encouraged that the Copyright Royalty Board is open to higher digital download and physical product rates for songwriters and music publishers".
"While we continue to focus on fighting the largest tech companies in the world in the trial for higher digital streaming rates which make up the growing majority of songwriter income", the trade group's statement added, "NMPA and its members always support higher royalties that reflect the important contributions of songwriters".
They then concluded: "We appreciate the grassroots efforts of songwriter advocates across the country and we stand with those who are pushing for more equitable songwriter payments".
Canada's Supreme Court declines to overturn the country's first anti-piracy web-block
Web-blocking - where ISPs are ordered by the courts to block customers from accessing copyright infringing websites - has become an anti-piracy tactic of choice for the music industry in those countries where such blockades are available.
Although it's usually music or movie companies that initially seek web-blocking orders against piracy sites in any one jurisdiction, in Canada it was actually some internet companies that led the charge.
Albeit internet companies that are also cable TV companies, and which therefore have a vested interest in stopping the unlicensed distribution of content online. That included Bell Media, Groupe TVA and Rogers Media.
Having failed to persuade the country's tel-co regulator the CRTC to instigate some web-blocking, the internet and media companies went to court seeking a big old web-block against GoldTV, an unlicensed video service. And they were successful, with the Canadian Federal Court issuing the web-block injunction they requested in 2019.
However, rival ISP TekSavvy wasn't impressed with that development and took the matter to Canada's Federal Court Of Appeal. It argued that Canadian copyright law doesn't specifically allow for web-blocking, that web-blocks don't really work, and that this particular anti-piracy tactic raises concerns around free speech and net neutrality.
But last May the appeals court declined to over-turn the web-block. Responding to that decision, last August, TekSavvy asked Canada's Supreme Court to intervene, raising all the same concerns about web-blocking that it had made in its original appeal. However, last week the Supreme Court declined to consider TekSavvy's arguments, meaning the web-block stays in force.
In a recent blog post summarising the case, a law firm that represented Bell, TVA and Rogers - Smart & Biggar - stated: "This decision confirms once and for all that site-blocking orders are available in Canada, and is another major victory for Canadian copyright holders in the fight against online piracy".
Björn Ulvaeus founded Pophouse buys up Swedish House Mafia catalogue, and confirms wider intent to invest in music rights
Pophouse was launched in 2014 by Björn Ulvaeus of Abba fame and Conni Jonsson, founder of private equity outfit EQT, in order to set up the Abba Museum and accompanying Pop House Hotel in the Swedish capital. Since then it has expanded into other venue, event and media ventures, and is also a key backer of the Abba Voyage show that is due to launch in London in May.
It also has an investments wing which says it is "building the world's most vibrant catalogue of entertainment intellectual property rights", which brings us back to the Swedish House Mafia deal. That transaction sees Pophouse acquire both the group's recording rights and song rights, including the so called writer's share of the latter, plus the recording and song rights from spin-off project Axwell Λ Ingrosso.
Confirming the deal, Pophouse CEO Per Sundin says: "Swedish House Mafia is a groundbreaking trio that brought club music to stadiums around the world, and they continue to pave the way in contemporary electronic and dance music. We are so excited to be partnering with them to tell that story for generations to come".
"While our landmark agreement with them involves the acquisition of the recordings and publishing of their back catalogue", he goes on, "it is our first-of-its-kind joint venture with the band's members that exemplifies the types of partnerships we are pursuing in our targeted expansion".
Meanwhile, the three members of Swedish House Mafia add in a joint statement: "It feels great for us to partner up with a company like Pophouse that will do much more than simply acquire our creative work. Pophouse will invest funds, know-how and resources to bring our music into areas of entertainment where it hasn't been before and for new audiences to discover our legacy".
Pophouse is actively seeking other deals of this kind at the moment, with former Spotify exec Johan Lagerlöf heading up the company's investments division in Stockholm, and American record industry veteran Steve Barnett on board as an advisor with a focus on seeking deals with US and UK rights-holders.
Says Lagerlöf: "For Pophouse an acquisition is just a starting point in the relationship. We are here to invest further in brand-building activities that amplify artist legacies to new audiences and develop new revenue streams as we've done so successfully in our other endeavours. Pophouse is not replacing any existing stakeholder, but is joining forces with artists' existing teams and partners to grow the business for all".
While Barnett adds: "I've known Per and Johan for many years, and have worked closely with them on so many endeavours on behalf of artists. I also had the pleasure of helping to relaunch the illustrious Abba catalogue in America at Capitol Records, and Björn Ulvaeus is simply one of the most creative and forward-thinking artists and executives in the history of our business. I'm THRILLED to be joining them and the entire Pophouse team as we forge new partnerships on behalf of artists in the US, UK and beyond".
Partisan Records launches new publishing division
Left Music, led by Craig Michie, has been in development for a while and already has a catalogue of over 1500 works, including music from Elizabeth Fraser, Novo Amor, Unkle, Vicky Nguyen, Josh Crocker and Kate Bollinger.
Partisan says the new division will operate as a standalone business while "working in tandem with and embodying the same collective values" as the record company.
Commenting in the new venture, Michie says: "We define ourselves by what we do for our writers, we are ever present. I think sometimes people forget that songwriters are actually people. We believe an inspired and supported songwriter leads to fantastic songs that are cherished. Left Music is close with its people. In the great times we hug, in the bad times we hug. We live by helping our writers realise their ambitious dreams".
On the Sony partnership, he adds: "Sony Music Publishing has also been an incredible sibling to us; their professionalism and support is unrivalled and we couldn't be happier to partner with [its co-UK MD] Tim Major and the SMP team".
Meanwhile, Partisan Records Founder and CEO Tim Putnam says: "We were looking to start a publishing company for a while and had a clear vision of what we wanted that publishing company to be. In meeting Craig, it all just felt natural, and what we collectively stand for related to values is the same".
"Left serves Left, and Partisan serves Partisan, working in tandem to serve the writers/artists first and foremost", he goes on. "We A&R to add value, perspective, and opportunities for our clients with their best interests in mind. That is what being artist friendly is all about".
Foo Fighters confirm they are cancelling tour following death of Taylor Hawkins
The musician, aged 50, was in Colombia when he died on Friday night, with his band due to headline the Estereo Picnic festival in the country's capital Bogota.
Hawkins had reportedly complained of chest pains and when paramedics arrived at his hotel room he was found unresponsive. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was declared dead at the scene.
The band confirmed on social media last night that they were cancelling upcoming shows - including sold out dates in the UK - following Hawkins' death.
They wrote: "It is with great sadness that Foo Fighters confirm the cancellation of all upcoming tour dates in light of the staggering loss of our brother Taylor Hawkins".
"We're sorry for and share in the disappointment that we won't be seeing one another as planned", they added. "Instead, let's take this time to grieve, to heal, to pull our loved ones close, and to appreciate all the music and memories we've made together".
184 artists added to The Great Escape line-up
In addition to all the many line-up additions, a number of new stage partners have also been confirmed. That includes Carla Marie Williams' Girls I Rate initiative, which will host a showcase featuring the likes of Kay Young, Amaria BB, Nqubilé and Nisha.
Meanwhile, Pretty Boy Records will showcase new talent from the West Indies - including Navy, Arii Lopez, SumeRR, DWN, St Phillip and Roze - while Candela Records will put the spotlight on Latin music with Angelo Flow, Clara Hurtado, Guala, and Rene Alvarez and his Afro-Cuban Funk Project.
Closer to home, Brighton-based Bella Union - celebrating its 25th anniversary - will be hosting birthday celebrations on both the Friday and Saturday of the festival, with artists including BC Camplight, Penelope Isles, Laundromat and Tallies.
Alongside the festival, of course, is the TGE Conference, including the CMU+TGE Sessions, which this year put the spotlight on music and education, music and data, and music and video.
In among all that, CMU will present user-friendly guides to rights data, fan data and Web3, while Sentric Music will be on hand to talk through the latest debates and trends in the sync market. Meanwhile, CMU's Pathways Into Music Foundation will present its latest research on the DIY Phase for new artists, and the wider world of music education and talent development.
Speakers already confirmed for the CMU+TGE MUSIC+DATA strand include music rights consultant Becky Brook, Des Agyekumhene from Soga World, Jessie Scoullar from Wicksteed Works, Kevin Bacon from Family In Music, Marcus O'Dair from UAL, Max Shand from Serenade, Philippe Rixhon from Digiciti, Ryan Edwards from Audoo, and Sophie Goossens from Reed Smith.
Already announced for the CMU+TGE MUSIC+VIDEO strand are Ameena Badley from The Ko-Lab, Colin Barlow from Marv Music, Jenn Egan from Eyeline Music, Joanna Gregory from Cavendish Music, Lauren Roth De Wolf from Wolves Management, Mark Adams from Blinding Talent, Mark Gordon from Score Draw Music, Olivia Hobbs from Blackstar Agency, Patrick Cloherty from Sentric Music, Paul Sampson from Lickd, and Pete Kelly from BT Sport.
Alongside the CMU+TGE Sessions will be a series of keynote interviews - including CMU's Chris Cooke in conversation with Tom Gray and Kevin Brennan MP - plus TGE's industry's partners will present a series of panel discussions and - on the Saturday - the TGE Elevate programme will present a day of panels, seminars and interviews for those early on in their music careers.
All of this takes place across Brighton from 11-14 May.
Check out everything that has been announced for the TGE festival line-up here.
Get all the info you need about the TGE Conference here.
And buy yourself a delegate pass here.
Popcaan has signed to the management side of Since 93. "Popcaan is an amazing musician, representing Jamaica and its rich culture globally", says company founder Riki Bleau. "Having sold out shows from London to Gambia, Popcaan is the definition of a global sensation and we're THRILLED that he's joined the Since 93 roster this year. This signing is just another step towards our goal representing black music, lifestyle and culture globally". The announcement coincides with the release of Popcaan's new single, 'Skeleton Cartier'.
Danny Boyle's Sex Pistols biopic TV series 'Pistol' - based on the autobiography of guitarist Steve Jones - will hit Disney+ on 31 May. Tune in and see if it's as bad as John Lydon expects it to be.
Angel Olsen will release new album 'Big Time' on 3 Jun. Here's new single 'All The Good Times'. She'll also be playing UK and Ireland dates in October, opening the tour with a show at Brixton Academy on 18 Oct. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Warpaint are back with new single 'Stevie'. "'Stevie' is a love song, pure and true", say the band. "Sincere as it comes with a little bit of freak. A cosmic celebration of the thing we all look for in life. And our contribution to one of the most beloved song genres". Their new album, 'Radiate Like This', is out on 6 May.
Everything Everything have released new single 'I Want A Love Like This'. Their new album, 'Raw Data Feel', is out on 20 May.
Sports Team have announced that they will release their second album, 'Gulp', on 22 Jul. First single, 'R Entertainment', is out now.
TV Priest have announced that they will release their new album, 'My Other People', on 17 Jun, and have also released new single 'Bury Me In My Shoes'. "Last year was about reminding ourselves to hang on to good things; to remember you can love and hate in equal measure - that the answers are rarely found by looking backwards", says frontman Charlie Drinkwater. "'Bury Me' was written as a response to that general feeling of unease and creeping dread. A feeling you get from bad news on no breakfast".
GIGS & TOURS
Mxmtoon will play three shows in the UK and Ireland this October. They are Electric Brixton in London on 28 Oct, Manchester's Club Academy on 29 Oct, and Dublin Academy on 30 Oct. Her new album, 'Rising', is out on 20 May.
Public Service Broadcasting will tour the UK this October, including a show at Troxy in London on 13 Oct. Tickets go on sale tomorrow.
The AIM Independent Music Awards will return as a live event at the Roundhouse in London on 28 Sep. There will also be two new categories this year, Music Entrepreneur Of The Year and Best Independent EP/Mixtape. "While our community still faces numerous challenges, 2022 feels like the year to reflect on the ingenuity and strength shown by everyone to get to this point", says AIM CEO Paul Pacifico. "I'm particularly excited for us to be able to come together and celebrate in person at such an iconic venue".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Questlove missed Will Smith's Chris Rock slap because he was meditating
Just in case you also happened to have your eyes closed on Sunday night and Monday morning (and have kept them closed for the rest of the week), Smith got up on stage and slapped Rock after he made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head.
Rock was actually on stage to present the award for Best Documentary, which went to Questlove's film about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, 'Summer Of Soul (…Or The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)'. Given the timing, you'd think this would be the moment of the proceedings to which Questlove would be paying closest attention, but no.
"I really wasn't aware of that", he told Jimmy Fallon on 'The Tonight Show'. "It's really weird to say because... they tell you ahead of time, this is your category, and so, in that moment, you're either going to be full of anxiety or, for me, I've been meditating for the past two years - I do [transcendental meditation]".
"When the commercial break happened, I was in my 'Mmmm mmm'", he added. "So when I opened my eyes, I didn't realise. [I just thought] 'Why is everyone so quiet?' I literally was not present for that whole entire moment".
"As I'm walking to the stage, I'm kind of putting two and two together, and I realise that was a real moment like maybe three seconds before I spoke words", he continued. "But in my mind, they were just doing a sketch or whatever, and I'm just like, 'OK Ahmir, remember to thank your mom, your dad'. So I was not present at all. I was just in a blank space".
So, maybe that's a little tip for Will Smith on how to get through future awards ceremonies. And, indeed, for all of us.