TODAY'S TOP STORY: UK song rights collecting society PRS saw its income from the live and public performance of music increase 59.6% last year, though that impressive stat tells you more about how bad the COVID effect was in 2020 than anything else. Performance income was still down 38.1% on 2019. This is all according to a new annual report published by the society this morning... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Digital surged, but COVID effect still impacted on PRS income in 2021
LEGAL Final text agreed for EU Digital Services Act
DEALS Laufey signs to AWAL
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Mental Health Coalition and Universal Music partner on climate change mental health tool
LIVE BUSINESS Government declines Leadmill's request to suspend Landlord And Tenant Act
MEDIA Bauer to network more programmes to five local stations
GIGS & FESTIVALS Hard-Fi announce first live show for eight years
AND FINALLY... Lorde addresses viral 'shushing' video
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Digital surged, but COVID effect still impacted on PRS income in 2021
UK song rights collecting society PRS saw its income from the live and public performance of music increase 59.6% last year, though that impressive stat tells you more about how bad the COVID effect was in 2020 than anything else. Performance income was still down 38.1% on 2019. This is all according to a new annual report published by the society this morning.

The songwriters and music publishers that make up the PRS membership were more hit by COVID than the record industry, because the music copyright revenue streams most affected by the pandemic are a much bigger deal for songs than recordings. And, in particular, that includes the royalties paid when music is performed live or recorded music is played in public.

Those revenues slumped 61.2% in 2020 as a result of the initial COVID lockdowns. Of course, the pandemic continued to impact on live music - and the businesses that play recorded music - throughout 2021 as well, although not to the same degree. So, year-on-year, performance income rose 59.6% last year to £137.6 million. However, that was still down 38.1% compared to pre-pandemic.

Counterbalancing all that was digital, which has continued to grow throughout the pandemic. And while the song rights generally earn less from streaming than the recording rights, the songs side of the business nevertheless still feels the benefit of that growth, and said growth was pretty significant for PRS last year.

Now, the digital monies reported by PRS are slightly more confusing to analyse, given that not all streaming income passes through the collective licensing system, with some of the cash being paid directly to the music publishers.

And even where that's not the case, the mechanical right royalties due on streams don't flow through PRS. Plus, PRS directly licenses streaming services in some countries, while it relies on other societies to license in other countries. So there are plenty of complications.

Either way, the figures that sit under the digital header in PRS's annual report were all showing healthy growth. Digital income at large was up 45.6% year-on-year to £267.8 million.

Most of that comes from the main music streaming services and user-generated content platforms, though for PRS there are also royalties to collect from video streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV.

The use of music on more conventional TV and radio services is also an important money-maker for PRS members and that was another revenue stream hit by the pandemic in 2020, with commercial broadcasters seeing their ad income dip during the original lockdown. However, the decline in the music industry's broadcast income caused by COVID was never as severe as initially feared, and this revenue stream also started to recover in 2021, up 1.5% to £129.3 million.

The COVID impact on performance and broadcast also impacts on the monies PRS receives from its partner collecting societies around the world. And with international income, there was actually another dip of 2.5% in 2021, following a 10.7% decline in 2020.

Though international income was always likely to take longer to recover from the COVID-caused declines. Partly because COVID restrictions have stayed in force for longer in some other countries. And partly because it takes longer for this money to flow through the system, so the uplift caused by a post-COVID bounce back will be seen later.

Currency fluctuations also impact on international income in particular, and PRS was keen to note in its report that "on a constant currency basis, adjusting for changes in currency values over the year, [international] revenues actually increased by 2.1% compared to 2020".

With all those numbers crunched together, total PRS revenues for 2021 were £777.1 million, up 22.4% compared to 2020 but still down compared to 2019.

Also, because of the time lag on collective licensing, the 2020 income declines impacted on 2021 payments to writers and publishers, although PRS reckons that its "commitment to maximising and accelerating distributions has ensured the expected impacts of the pandemic's disruptions have been minimised for the music creator community".

Commenting on all that, PRS boss Andrea Czapary Martin says: "2021 was a successful year that further cements PRS For Music's place as a world-leading, innovative rights management organisation. In exceptional circumstances, and still with a recovering marketplace, we recorded a 22.4% year-on-year growth in revenue to £777.1 million".

"The 45.6% growth in online meant we collected £267.8 million - an extra £83.9 million on 2020", she added. "The 59.6% uplift in public performance is encouraging as it reflects a marketplace, like the economy, that is getting back to business. Significantly, it underlines the organisation's ability to adapt to all market sectors to fully monetise and protect the value of the music rights entrusted to us".

Noting that much of her time at PRS - which she joined in June 2019 - has been dominated by the impact of the pandemic, Martin goes on: "COVID-19 has overshadowed my two full financial years as CEO of PRS For Music, but has given me and the whole PRS team the opportunity to really focus on the importance and value of the work PRS does on behalf of its members and how we can better serve them in all areas of what they do".

"For all businesses, these have been unprecedented and challenging times", she adds. "However, I believe we grasped that opportunity, and the entire organisation has embraced the chance to adapt and innovate. It will be from these solid foundations that we can meet our vision of becoming a billion-pound society in royalties paid out, while further strengthening our systems and partnerships, all with a cost-to-income ratio of below 10%".


Final text agreed for EU Digital Services Act
European Union negotiators have reached a provisional agreement on the final text for the all new Digital Services Act, which, they say, will "set the standards for a safer and more open digital space for users and a level playing field for companies for years to come".

The DSA seeks to clarify and increase the responsibilities of digital platforms across Europe when it comes to dealing with so called harmful content and other online safety issues. It sits alongside the Digital Markets Act, which seeks to ensure the biggest digital platforms don't exploit their market dominance.

Needless to say, there was lots of ferocious lobbying as the DSA and DMA were debated and amended in the European Parliament and EU Council after the European Commission published its initial drafts of both pieces of legislation in December 2020.

In terms of the DSA, those who want digital companies to do more to combat abusive, misleading and outright unlawful content and practices on their platforms generally felt the proposals didn't go far enough. Meanwhile, free speech and digital rights campaigners said the proposals would negatively impact on freedom of expression and data security on the internet.

But law-makers insist they've got the balance right in the final draft. Platforms will be forced to remove illegal content faster and more transparently, and to implement stronger checks on companies trading via their services, plus there will be more accountability around algorithms.

Meanwhile, at the same time, "safeguards" will ensure complaints about allegedly harmful content will be "processed in a non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory manner and with respect for fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and data protection".

On the final agreed text, MEP Christel Schaldemose says: "The Digital Services Act will set new global standards. Citizens will have better control over how their data are used by online platforms and big tech-companies. We have finally made sure that what is illegal offline is also illegal online. For the European Parliament, additional obligations on algorithmic transparency and disinformation are important achievements".

"These new rules", she adds, "also guarantee more choice for users and new obligations for platforms on targeted ads, including bans to target minors and restricting data harvesting for profiling".

Neither the DSA nor the DMA are overtly focused on copyright matters, but both still have relevance to the music rights industry in one way or another. In terms of the DSA, a key objective was increasing the obligations of internet companies to ensure their business customers are legit and identifiable - aka the 'know their business customer' obligation - so to make it easier for copyright owners to go after any online operations that infringe their rights.

The DSA also had relevance to the ongoing campaign within the live music community around regulating secondary ticketing, with those campaigners also wanting increased obligations relating to platforms ensuring that their business customers are legit and identifiable.

All of which means the music industry's lobbyists - like those across the tech sector and beyond - will be scrutinising the final agreed text. From the official statements made so far, it seems likely the 'know your business customer' obligations in the final version of the DSA could help in terms of ticket touting, but probably won't go as far as was hoped to help copyright owners.

Sam Shemtob from pan-European anti-touting campaign FEAT said this morning: "We cautiously welcome news of measures to be placed on secondary ticketing marketplaces to clean up the Wild West in which they have operated so far. The devil will be in the detail, but we hope the new requirements for vetting traders and publishing basic information about the seller will enable fans and event organisers to make informed decisions".

The agreed text still needs to be finalised at a technical level, and will then be verified by lawyer-linguists, before both the Parliament and Council give their final formal approval. Once that is done, the new rules will come into force across the EU 20 days after publication.

But, of course, none of that directly effects the UK, where the separate Online Safety Bill has similar objectives and is currently being scrutinised in the UK Parliament.


Laufey signs to AWAL
Sony Music's artist services business AWAL has announced a new global deal with Laufey, as she gears up for the release of her debut album.

"Laufey's distinct sound, substance and vocal style are immediately magnetic", says AWAL Recordings President for North America, Ron Cerrito. "She is someone with abundant natural talent, who took the time to perfect her craft as a songwriter and performer. We are THRILLED to be her partner as we set our sights on building a global audience".

Her manager Max Gredinger adds: "AWAL is a truly progressive company that strives to constantly evolve based on the current and future needs of each client, and not simply subject them to a 'one size fits all' model. They are the ideal partners for the project; Laufey and I are THRILLED to be in partnership with them".

Laufey released her latest single, 'Everything I Know About Love', last week. "This song is about all the magical things that I was told love was like but I've never gotten to experience", she says of the song. "I've tried many times but fail every time. Turns out, I don't know anything about love!"

Watch the video here.


Mental Health Coalition and Universal Music partner on climate change mental health tool
The Mental Health Coalition and Universal Music's All Together Now Foundation have announced a new roadmap to help individuals navigate mental health issues arising from concerns about and the direct impact of climate change.

"We don't talk about it often enough, but climate change impacts our mental health in a major way", says Dr Naomi Torres-Mackie, Head Of Research at the Mental Health Coalition. "The fears it can bring up, though, can be managed with purposeful action. We are so glad to share this roadmap, which is a jargon-free tool for doing just that. You can't take care of the planet without first taking care of yourself".

Susan Mazo - Executive VP of Global Corporate Social Responsibility, Events And Special Projects at Universal Music Group - adds: "As a partner of the MHC, we are delighted to support their valuable work in shining a spotlight on and demystifying mental health issues that are affecting billions around the world. We look forward to working with MHC and our artists to amplify this important issue and to help open up the conversation".

This latest roadmap tool is one of a number put together by the MHC since 2020. Others include a general guide to understanding and achieving better mental health, as well as specific guides for mental health in the workplace and while homeless.

Access the roadmap to climate change mental health here.


Government declines Leadmill's request to suspend Landlord And Tenant Act
The UK government has responded to a petition set up by the current management team at Sheffield venue The Leadmill declining their request to suspend an element of the Landlord And Tenant Act pending an already planned review of those laws.

The Leadmill team are facing eviction next year because the owner of their building - live music company The Electric Group - wants to take direct control of running the venue. That decision has proven controversial within the Sheffield music community and beyond, with lots of artists, fans and industry people calling for the current Leadmill team to stay in place.

But the petition set up by that team on the UK Parliament website earlier this month wasn't a generic call urging The Electric Group to have a rethink, but a specific request in relation to laws that govern the landlord/tenant relationship.

The venue's General Manager, Ian Lawlor, explained in his petition: "Section 25 of the Landlord And Tenant Act can be exploited by landlords, allowing them to expropriate the investment the tenant has made into the premises, including any goodwill developed over many years".

"The government has said it will review the Landlord And Tenant Act", he added. "We are calling for a suspension of Section 25 (Grounds C to G), so that tenants cannot be evicted until a government review has been concluded, and any reforms implemented".

When a petition on the Parliament website passes 10,000 signatures the relevant government department - in this case the Department For Levelling Up, Housing And Communities - is obliged to respond. In that response, the government said that, while it concedes current landlord/tenant laws need reviewing - hence the ongoing review - it's not willing to suspend any laws in the short term.

Its response states: "The government has no plans to suspend Section 25 of the Landlord And Tenant Act 1954, part II, at this time. Suspension of Section 25 would not be a proportionate way of addressing the underlying issues with the legislation".

"DLUHC is aware of concerns that the current commercial property legislation has not kept pace with the reality of the sector today", it adds. "That is why, in December 2020, the government committed to launching a review of the landlord and tenant relationship and the legislation surrounding it".

"Review of the commercial leasehold legislation will inform a new framework to support more efficient and flexible uses of space across high streets and town centres. The full scope of the review is yet to be confirmed; further details will be announced in due course. As such, the government cannot support further intervention in the commercial property market until the review has delivered its recommendations".

The Leadmill team feel that review could change the law in a way that would help them in their current battle with The Electric Group but, given the vague commitments regarding the timeline for that review, it seems unlikely that will help without a suspension of the current system, as Lawlor's petition had requested.

As of this morning, more than 27,000 people have signed the petition. If it passes 100,000, the issues raised by the petition would be considered for a Parliamentary debate.


Bauer to network more programmes to five local stations
Bauer Media last week confirmed that five of the local radio stations that operate as part of its UK-wide Hits Radio Network will start taking more networked programming.

A plethora of local radio stations and brands sit under Bauer's Hits Radio Network, all of them sharing programming from the media firm's English and Scottish hubs as well as airing some locally made shows. Quite how much programming comes from the central hubs and how much is made locally has varied from station to station across the network.

CFM in Cumbria, Gem in the Midlands, MFR in North Scotland, The Wave in South Wales and Radio Borders on the English/Scottish border have all previously had local shows throughout the day, but moving forward only the breakfast show will be locally made.

Bauer admitted that this development "means some jobs are under review", but also added that "some new roles are also being created to support the network".

Commenting on the change, Gary Stein, Content Director for the Hits Radio Network, said: "We are committed to ensuring the future of radio in local markets and these changes will enable the Hits Radio Network to compete for listeners more effectively in a fast-changing audio landscape. Along with these new programmes, listeners will continue to have access to local news content, local information and traffic and travel that is important to them".


Setlist: Deezer to go public with €1 billion valuation
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including Deezer's announcement that it is going public with a valuation of more than €1 billion, as a result of a deal to merge with French special purpose acquisition company I2PO that will result in the streaming music firm being publicly listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, plus Tyga's entry into the torrid world of sports shoe litigation.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here

Hard-Fi announce first live show for eight years
Hard-Fi have announced a one-off show at the Kentish Town Forum in London this autumn, which will be their first performance together since 2014.

"It's fair to say it's been a while since we've all played together so we're all really excited to be getting on stage again and seeing some of our incredible fans", says frontman Richard Archer.

"It's a Saturday night", he adds, "so hopefully we can recapture the spirit of those gigs back in the day. We may even throw out one or two new numbers into the mix. The Forum is one the classic venues to play, so it's going to be a special night for everyone".

Following their lengthy hiatus, Hard-Fi posted a photograph apparently in a rehearsal studio back in January, hinting that a reunion was on the cards.

Speaking about getting back together for their live return, Archer says: "It felt like the right time to get together and play our songs again".

"Not only did people keep asking me when we were going to do a show", he continues, "but I felt a lot of the things Hard-Fi did - both musically and lyrically - have really started to chime with what is going on right now. That sense of wanting to come together again and have a good time as a collective or community has always part of what Hard-Fi is about".

The Forum show will take place on 1 Oct, with tickets going on sale on 29 Apr. As in the band's heyday, support will come from DJ Wrong Tom.


Lorde addresses viral 'shushing' video
Lorde has addressed a viral video showing her shushing her audience at concerts, saying that it takes what she was doing very much out of context, while accompanying claims online that she hates people singing along at her shows are completely wrong.

"I just wanted to talk about this thing of me shushing people at my shows", she says in a video shared with Instagram fan account @lordecontent. "That was something that I did on that one song a couple times when I wanted to sing it a capella - or off the microphone - so people could hear me and because I wanted to try something different".

"If you come to my shows", she adds, "you know it's an hour-and-a-half of all of us singing and screaming together. Also that dramatic-ass move was literally for an album called 'Melodrama', so don't stress too hard".

The viral video shows various times on stage where Lorde has shushed or motioned her audience to be quiet - though always at the same point in the same song, 'Writer In The Dark', and when she was, indeed, singing unaccompanied. The 'Melodrama' tour, during which all the clips were filmed, took place in 2017 and 2018.

At a show in Chicago on Saturday - the night before sharing the video response on Instagram - the musician performed 'Writer In The Dark' for the first time since 2018, and reflected on how she performed the song on that earlier tour.

She said: "I would put my mic down and walk all over the stage and sing the song. I was nineteen, you know? Very dramatic, a lot of feelings. The internet has decided this was very bad and very rude. I think they mustn't have come to one of these shows cos it's such a communal vibe. We're all singing and screaming all the time".

"Occasionally, I think there are moments for silence and moments for sound", she went on. "There are moments that belong to just one person and there are moments that are all of ours, and that's just life. But I had a weird moment with it, I was like, 'Huh, I've been misunderstood'. I was sitting there this morning having gone on the internet and I was like, 'Oh, people don't get me'".

I went to a gig once where the artist shushed the audience, but that was because a good half of said audience talked loudly to each other the entire way through the show at which, it should be noted, the band were recording a live album. Stupid noisy audiences. Gigs would be much better without other people there, I think we can all agree. More shushing, I say.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column. (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited. (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY. or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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