|FRIDAY 6 MAY 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A plethora of organisations from across the US music industry have welcomed a new proposed settlement regarding the mechanical royalty rate paid on discs and downloads Stateside, after an initial proposal from the National Music Publishers Association and the major labels was widely criticised by songwriter groups... [READ MORE]|
New inflation matching settlement on US disc and download song royalty rate welcomed
In the US, the mechanical copying of songs is covered by a compulsory licence, which means that when songs are copied the royalties paid to music publishers and songwriters are set by a panel of judges called the Copyright Royalty Board.
Those rates come up for review every few years, with the owners and customers of mechanical rights either proposing a pre-agreed settlement to the board, or having a big argument in front of said board and then allowing the judges to decide what a fair rate might be.
With discs and downloads, the customers of the mechanical rights are mainly record labels, with whatever rate is set coming out of what monies the label makes from selling a CD, vinyl record or MP3.
Which is why it was the majors that sought to negotiate a pre-agreed settlement with the National Music Publishers Association. The originally agreed settlement - also endorsed by Nashville Songwriters Association International - was to keep everyone the same as it currently stands.
But, that proposal was widely criticised by other songwriter groups who pointed out that the statutory rate on discs and downloads is a set price per copy - not a percentage of revenue - meaning that each year the rate actually decreases in real terms because of inflation. The last increase was in 2006 when the royalty became 9.1 cents per copy. But 9.1 cents in 2006 was worth more than 9.1 cents in 2022.
One songwriter in particular - George Johnson - felt that proposal was unfair and filed a formal objection. He was then backed up by an assortment of other songwriter groups.
Some of those groups also pointed out that the three biggest members of the National Music Publishers Association are the the publishing wings of Sony, Universal and Warner, ie the biggest customers of mechanical rights on the recordings side, which possibly made it problematic for the publishing trade body to be negotiating settlements of this kind on behalf of songwriters.
There were defenders of the NMPA who said that the publishers were already embroiled in a complex legal battle over the mechanical royalty rate that applies to streams, where the digital platforms are the customers, most of which are trying to persuade the CRB to reduce that rate.
With that in mind, was it wise to instigate another legal battle with the labels over the discs and downloads rate, when discs and downloads are now a relatively small revenue stream for the music industry?
But many songwriters argued that - while streaming is by far the biggest recorded music revenue stream today - the physical market is actually pretty stable at the moment with the vinyl revival and even an increase in CD revenues last year.
Plus, while iTunes style downloads may now be a tiny part of the business at large, for some artists and genres downloads are still a decent revenue stream, plus all that NFT nonsense often includes some downloaded music along the way. Therefore - at the very least - the mechanical royalty rate on discs and downloads should be set to keep up with inflation.
On the back of all that opposition from songwriters, in March the CRB confirmed it was rejecting the initial proposal from the NMPA and the labels. But could an alternative voluntary agreement be reached to prevent having to go to the "let's all argue in front of some judges" phase? Well, turns out yes, an alternative voluntary agreement could be reached, pretty much embracing the songwriters' demand of increases in line with inflation.
In a filing with the CRB yesterday, the NMPA and the labels said that they had agreed a new proposal that would result in "an immediate 32% increase to twelve cents per track for physical phonorecords and permanent downloads for 2023 and inflation-based adjustments for subsequent years of the rate period".
The filing added: "The parties respectfully request that the judges expeditiously publish the royalty rates and terms described herein ... and adopt the settlement industry-wide as the statutory royalty rates ... the parties further request that the judges stay and not move forward with litigation of statutory royalty rates ... while the settlement is under consideration".
Commenting on the new proposal, NMPA boss David Israelite said: "This new settlement gives songwriters a 32% raise on sales of vinyl, CDs and downloads - raising the rate from 9.1 cents to twelve cents - and critically also includes a yearly cost of living adjustment to address inflation. This extremely positive result is due in large part to the creators who made their voices heard in the CRB process".
Meanwhile, speaking for the label side, Recording Industry Association Of America chief Mitch Glazer said: "After wide consultation with songwriters, publishers, and labels, we are glad to have reached a solution we believe addresses the core concerns of the CRB judges and the individuals and organisations who shared their views during this proceeding. As a music community, we are strongest when we come together to forge lasting and sustainable win-win deals".
But what do songwriters, artists, producers and independent publishers think of this new proposal? Well, they all think it's great. And if you want proof of that, boy do we have a lot of quotes for you saying so. You can read all of them in full here if you're interested. Or maybe just use this handy concise summary where we've ever so slightly edited down the quotes for you.
The Songwriters Of North America "enthusiastically support" the settlement.
The Nashville Songwriters Association International "welcomes" the settlement.
The Association Of Independent Music Publishers "fully endorses" the settlement.
The Recording Academy "applauds" the settlement.
The UK's Ivors Academy "welcomes" the settlement.
The Music Publishers Association Of The United States "appreciates" the settlement.
The Music Artists Coalition "applauds" and "endorses" the settlement.
The Black Music Action Coalition "supports" and "applauds" the settlement.
The Church Music Publishers Association is "very pleased" with the settlement.
The Production Music Association says the settlement is "a massive step forward".
The 100 Percenters hopes the settlement shows that the industry recognises songwriters "deserve better rates".
And the Artist Rights Alliance reckons the settlement is "a meaningful win".
Can you believe we've got all those quotes and not one person was THRILLED about this? Tell you what, CMU is "THRILLED" that this settlement has been reached. Well done one and all!
Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five's The Kidd Creole sentenced to sixteen years in prison for manslaughter
The rapper - not to be confused with the frontman of Kid Creole And The Coconuts - stabbed John Jolly twice in the chest with a steak knife during an altercation in August 2017, which began after Jolly approached Glover on a New York street.
Glover told police that Jolly had said "what's up" as he approached. He assumed that Jolly was making a pass at him, stating: "I was a little annoyed by that. He approached me. I got a little nervous. So then I tried to back up a little bit, and he moved forward, and then I just took the knife and stabbed him … I wish I never would have seen him".
Admitting that he had killed Jolly, he added: "It's all my fault, because I chose to stab him. I have to take responsibility for that".
However, in court Glover claimed that the stabbing was actually self-defence, telling the jury: "This is New York City. It's twelve o'clock at night. Who's saying 'What's up?' to you with good intentions?"
But the court did not accept Glover's claim that he was afraid for his life, the prosecution having noted that there was nothing to stop him from simply running away when Jolly first approached him. As a result - although not convicted for murder - he was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter last month.
In a statement following Glover's sentencing, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L Bragg Jr said: "Mr Jolly's death was devastating to his family and those who knew him. Every life we lose to violent crime ripples throughout our entire city, and we will continue to ensure everyone in our borough can live their lives with the sense of safety and security they deserve".
"This case makes clear that if you commit violent crime, we will hold you accountable", he added, "and I thank our team for their hard work achieving justice in this matter".
However, Glover's lawyer, Scottie Celestin, told Rolling Stone that they plan to appeal the sentence, calling it "egregious and extreme".
"While I am disappointed, I continue to have faith in our judicial system", said Celestin. "My focus is now on the appeal process. There are many appealable issues, specifically the denial of Mr Glover being able to assert the justification of self-defence, despite the fact that he was retreating and the victim followed behind him".
"While some may be happy with the the presumed victory of the acquittal on the top charge of murder, we don't view it as win", he added. "I believe the sixteen years given are heavy handed, and motivated not by the evidence and mitigating facts but by external factors".
Glover was one of the original members of Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five, alongside his brother Melle Mel, when the group formed in 1978. He appeared on and co-wrote both of the group's albums, 1982's 'The Message' and 1988's 'On The Strength'.
Live Nation boss upbeat again as Q1 financials published
"Momentum has picked up for all of our businesses over the course of the first quarter, and as a result, we delivered financial performance that greatly surpassed our previous expectations, with operating income of $27 million and annual operating income of $209 million", top man Michael Rapino wrote in a note to investors.
Of course the wider live music business is still very much in recovery mode following the COVID pandemic, with some COVID regulations still in force in some countries at the start of the year, and the possibility of COVID infections within a tour crew causing last minute cancellations still a risk.
And while there is a definite demand from some consumers to get back to shows and festivals, there is still a sense that - with some fans - some nervousness remains about attending packed out venues, or at least about committing early on to attend a show.
However, Rapino insists that his optimism of a full sector revival in 2022 is justified, because things were particularly positive within Live Nation's ticketing business Ticketmaster in the first quarter of the year, and ticket sales now are a good measure of what is to come later across the wider Live Nation business.
"Ticket buying serves as a leading indicator to our overall business", he said in his investor note. "Ticketmaster's strong first quarter performance drove the company's overall profitability, and shows how well our concert and sponsorship businesses are positioned to deliver record results this year".
"Despite some markets taking longer to re-open", he went on, "the quarter was our second highest ever for transacted gross transaction value, excluding refunds, trailing only Q4 2021, with March being our highest month ever for transacted gross transaction value, excluding refunds".
Live Nation's sponsorship activity also fully returned in quarter one this year, and - Rapino went on - "at this point our sponsorship sales are up double digits relative to this point in 2019, and we have sold 90% of our planned sponsorship for the year, positioning us for continued strong financial performance".
Double digit growth compared to pre-pandemic levels is also expected in fan attendance at shows this year, despite audience numbers in quarter one being down on 2019 as a result of ongoing COVID restrictions. "All leading indicators point to double-digit growth in fan attendance at our concerts this year relative to 2019", Rapino reckoned.
"We [have] continued to build our flywheel", he added, "with over 70 million tickets now sold for shows in 2022, up 36% compared to this point in 2019, and committed show count is up 44% through late April relative to 2019, setting us up for continued ticket sales over the year".
So, lots to be upbeat about then. "Looking ahead to the summer and the rest of the year, we remain optimistic that we are just getting going as all leading indicators reinforce record activity levels and financial results ... I continue to expect this to be the start of our run. The global addressable market for concerts, ticketing and sponsorship all provide a long runway for continued growth".
Paul Bonham becomes Professional Development Director at MMF
Having previously run the organisation's Accelerator Programme - the YouTube supported grants and education initiative for independent managers - Bonham will now focus on expanding and redefining the MMF's training and development services.
MMF explains that this process will involve "surveying members' developmental needs and creating bespoke learning opportunities, with the goal of empowering music management businesses at all stages of their growth to reach their full commercial potential".
Commenting on his new role, Bonham says: "Even before the pandemic, the role played by music managers within the industry was becoming increasingly important - whether as investors or in key areas like artist development".
"From my experience on the Accelerator Programme", he adds, "where we work with some of the UK's most talented independent managers, I have also seen first-hand the benefits of continuous learning, where managers from different backgrounds can share knowledge and expand their skills and networks".
"The impacts have been astonishing", he goes on. "For these reasons, I am really excited that we can now take these learnings and apply them far more widely, helping the MMF to better serve our incredibly diverse membership and enabling them to support the careers of artists, songwriters, producers and DJs".
Alongside Bonham's promotion, the MMF has also formally announced the recent appointment of a new General Manager at the organisation in the form of Anneliese Harmon. In that role, she is "responsible for increasing the MMF's effectiveness by creating and communicating the organisation's strategy through forward-planning, continuous monitoring and development".
Confirming all this, MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick says: "In what is a highly fragmented music business, where artists are being empowered to build their own unique pathways, the role of the music manager has never been so crucial - or so demanding".
"The rapid expansion of the MMF's membership, which has more than doubled in recent years, is testament to these changes and there is a real need to provide both the current and upcoming generation of music managers with highly targeted business support".
"With the range of partners we already work with", she adds, "I believe the MMF is well placed to further provide these services, and by increasing our resources and utilising the expertise of Paul and Anneliese we are now in a position to build on the successes of Accelerator and our other in-house training programmes and help even more UK-based managers to professionalise their businesses and thrive".
BBC announces radio management restructure
The aim of this latest reshuffle is, apparently, to retain listeners on the BBC's conventional radio stations while also growing use of the BBC Sounds app. Controller Of BBC Sounds Jonathan Wall also gets a slight change of job title - becoming Director Of BBC Sounds - and will work alongside Clarke and Bakaya to grow audiences across BBC audio.
"Our distinctive radio stations are loved by millions and we are reaching new listeners too as we grow BBC Sounds and innovate digitally", says Moore. "Now we want to do even more for our audiences so that when they come to us, they'll not only find their favourite shows but also discover new audio from us, however and whenever they choose to listen".
Achieving that, she reckons, requires the various BBC audio teams working more closely together and "putting audiences truly at the forefront of our plans, exploring every untapped opportunity that exists to create brilliant content for them, both live and on demand".
The new structure also sees Controller of Radio 3 and BBC Proms Alan Davey move into Clarke's team, while Controller of Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Sports Extra Heidi Dawson will join Bakaya's team.
Shabaka Hutchings announces new solo record
"'Afrikan Culture' was made around the idea of meditation and what it means for me to still my own mind and accept the music which comes to the surface", he says.
"It features various types of Shakuhachi [Japanese] flutes", he adds, "and a new technique of creating that I've been experimenting with in layering many flutes together to create a forest of sound where melodies and rhythms float in space and emerge in glimpses".
The record is set for release on 20 May. First single, 'Black Meditation', is out now. Listen here.
Doja Cat has released new single 'Vegas', taken from the soundtrack of new Baz Luhrman film 'Elvis'.
Carly Rae Jepsen has released new single 'Western Wind'.
Orbital have released their soundtrack to new Netflix series 'The Pentaverate', and also a new 30th anniversary mix of 'The Box'.
Jamie T's only gonna and come back, hasn't he? New single 'The Old Style Raiders' is out now. His new album will be out on 29 Jul, and he'll play his first live show for five years at Subterania in London on 11 May.
Everything Everything have shared new single 'Pizza Boy', from their upcoming album 'Raw Data Feel'.
The Waeve - aka Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall - have released their first single, 'Something Pretty'. They play the second of two shows at The Lexington in London tonight.
070 Shake has released her new single 'Web'. Her new album, 'You Can't Kill Me', will be out on 3 Jun.
Pond have released 'Hang A Cross On Me', one of three tracks added to the new deluxe version of their '9' album. The band will be in the UK for live shows next month.
Pip Millett has released new single 'Downright'.
Tirzah has released new single 'Ribs', co-written by Coby Sey and Mica Levi. She will be playing live in the UK next month.
Emilie Levienaise-Farouch has shared new single 'Parting Gift'. Her new album, 'Ravage', is out on 27 May.
Glasser is back with new single 'New Scars'.
GIGS & TOURS
Martha Wainwright has announced UK tour dates this summer, kicking off at Cadogan Hall in London on 27 Jul.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Madonna requests meeting with Pope Francis
"Hello [Pope] Francis - I'm a good Catholic", she wrote in a tweet. "I swear! I mean I don't swear! It's been a few decades since my last confession. Would it be possible to meet up one day to discuss some important matters? I've been excommunicated three times. It doesn't seem fair. Sincerely, Madonna".
If you're wondering, her big run-ins with the Catholic Church in the past include the controversy around the 'Like A Prayer' video in 1989, which featured burning crosses and Madonna getting intimate with Jesus in a church. Then there was her 'Blond Ambition' tour in 1990, which was controversial for all sorts of reasons, and which then pope John Paul II urged people not to attend when it came to Italy.
Most recently, in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI threatened to excommunicate the singer if she did not cut part of her stage show for a performance in Rome. The section of the show in question saw her placed on a cross in a mock crucifixion.
The Pope's adviser, Cardinal Ersilio Tonino, told reporters at the time: "This time the limits have really been pushed too far. This [concert] is a blasphemous challenge to the [Catholic] faith and a profanation of the cross. She should be excommunicated. To crucify herself during the concert in the city of popes and martyrs is an act of open hostility. It is nothing short of a scandal".
Madonna has claimed at various points in the past that she's been excommunicated by the Catholic Church three times, although there is no evidence that she has actually been excommunicated at all. She has definitely been criticised by the Catholic Church on many occasions, but it doesn't seem that any Pope has actually gone as far as officially censuring her.
Pope Francis hasn't tweeted her back to point this out, nor to agree to a meeting. It's not clear what she wants to talk to the Pope about, but she is currently promoting a new compilation to celebrate the 50 times she's topped the Billboard dance music chart in the US, so maybe it's that.