|MONDAY 16 MAY 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Association Of Independent Festivals has relaunched its Safer Spaces campaign today, with more than a hundred festivals on board. The aim is to tackle and combat sexual violence at festivals and large-scale music events... [READ MORE]|
More than 100 festivals sign up to new Safer Spaces charter
AIF first launched this campaign in 2017 to raise both awareness of and tackle such violence at festivals and beyond. Since then, a number other festival-based initiatives have been launched with similar objectives, including the Safe Spaces Now project piloted at the Strawberries & Creem festival last year, and another project - also called Safer Spaces - that was launched in March.
Explaining why initiatives of this kind are necessary - and why they also need to evolve - AIF's Membership & Operations Coordinator Phoebe Rodwell says: "Festivals are microcosms of society and sexual violence is a problem that persists in our society".
Noting that the original AIF Safe Spaces campaign had had a definite positive impact, she adds: "Our understanding and approaches to tackling the issue are evolving all the time. That's why it's important that we renew the Safer Spaces campaign in 2022 with up-to-date messaging, resources and practices, to prevent sexual violence and promote a survivor-led approach, helping festival organisers to fulfil their duty of care at events".
As part of its renewed Safer Spaces At Festivals campaign, AIF has developed an updated charter of best practice with input and guidance from experts at Rape Crisis England And Wales, Good Night Out, Safe Gigs For Women, Girls Against and UN Women.
Today the trade group has confirmed that 105 UK festivals have now committed to embrace that charter, including Bluedot, Boardmasters, End Of The Road, Kendal Calling, Latitude, Leeds Festival, Reading Festival, Strawberries & Creem, Stanton Calling and The Great Escape.
The charter states that all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence made at festivals and events will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated. This commitment is then facilitated by each event having a clear and robust reporting and disclosure procedure, with a simple process for reporting incidents onsite and post event. Festival policies will also include relevant health guidance and connections to local services.
Alongside that, there are also education and communication elements to the AIF campaign. First, the provision of advice on how to be an active bystander, aiming to encourage and enable witnesses to any violence to take action. That includes communicating the 'Five D's Of Bystander Intervention' devised by the campaign group Right To Be, which are: distract, delegate, document, delay and direct.
Festivals will also actively promote the principle of consent regarding sexual activity onsite at events, defining consent as "someone engaging in sexual activity if they agree by choice, and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice" and reiterating that consent can be revoked at any time.
Participating festivals will all share key messaging about this campaign on social media later today, as well as onsite at their respective events this summer.
Welcoming the latest AIF Safer Spaces campaign and new charter, Kelly Bennaton from Rape Crisis England And Wales says: "We're encouraged to see the commitment and consideration from festival organisers in making their events safe places for women and girls. The AIF Safer Spaces Charter acknowledges the importance of dedicated training, awareness raising, and the provision of specialist support services for survivors".
"Festival goers deserve to know that if they report sexual assault they will be listened to and believed, and that those working on site are equipped to handle all reports with knowledge and empathy", she adds. "They also deserve to know that festivals are taking a proactive approach in preventing sexual assault, and that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. We're pleased to have worked with AIF on developing this charter, and hope that the wider festival industry will follow its lead".
French performer and label groups reach voluntary agreement regarding digital remuneration
That agreement follows years of negotiations between artist and label groups which first began when the French government announced an initiative in 2015 that sought an industry-led solution to ensure the 'fair development of online music'. The later implementation into French law of the 2019 European Copyright Directive - which talked about "appropriate and proportionate" remuneration for performers - also impacted on those ongoing talks.
The so called digital pie debate - regarding how streaming monies are shared out between labels, artists, songwriters, publishers and streaming platforms - has only increased in volume since 2015, and especially in the last couple of years, when the pandemic negatively impacted pretty much all of the music industry's revenue streams except subscription streaming. Many artists and songwriters argue that they generally receive too small a share of the digital pie.
For so called featured artists, what share of streaming income they get is entirely dependant on the deals they have done with their labels or distributors. It could be anything from a few percent to 100% of the money received by their label or distributor, which is in turn getting 50-55% of any money allocated to a track based on consumption share.
For session musicians it's much simpler. Generally sessions musicians get a one-off fee for their time and are not cut into any subsequent streaming money at all.
Various proposals have been made for forcing changes to the system which would benefit those featured artists getting a particularly small share of streaming income - often heritage artists on pre-streaming record deals - as well as session musicians.
That includes adopting certain minimum rates across the industry that labels would agree to pay. Or having some or all of an artist's remuneration pass through the collective licensing system, with industry standard rates applying, as currently happens with radio. There are pros and cons to both those proposals.
The French agreement is more focused on the former. According to a statement on Friday, the agreement reached last week will see the introduction of a minimum streaming royalty rate for featured artists. It's thought that this minimum rate will vary depending on certain variables, though the lowest such minimum commitment is 10% of monies received by the label.
There will also be a guaranteed minimum advance on new deals of 1000 euros, with a special fund created by the country's collecting societies to support the smallest labels that wouldn't usually be able to make that commitment when signing new acts.
In addition, there are also some new benefits for session musicians, with a commitment that will increase the initial fees of such musicians, and provide additional remuneration via the label for every 7.5 million plays a track on which they appear receives.
As always, the devil will be in the detail, and it remains to be seen quite how all this works in practice. However, the artist and performer groups involved in negotiating the deal seem confident it will benefit a decent number of music-makers.
Meanwhile, with similar debates happening in other countries - not least in the UK following the Economics Of Streaming Inquiry in Parliament - artist and label groups elsewhere will be assessing the French deal too.
Swiss collecting society sues Snapchat
Snapchat and its owner Snap Inc was relatively late to the music licensing party, but has announced deals with the majors, Merlin and some music publishers in recent years, following the lead of its rivals Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and recognising that music - including offering an in-built music library - is an increasingly key part of being a content sharing platform.
However, it seems, no licensing deal has been struck with SUISA Digital, which represents not just the digital rights of SUISA's own Swiss songs repertoire, but also the digital rights of a number of other collecting societies and music publishers.
The licensing deals it agrees on behalf of those societies and publishers are then administered by MINT, the rights hub it launched in partnership with US society SESAC.
Setting out its grievances, SUISA said in a statement: "Snap has refused to pay for the music it uses on Snapchat. SUISA Digital's attempts to negotiate with Snap have been unsuccessful".
"Snap's stance is that it does not use any songs from SUISA Digital's repertoire", it added. "This statement is false. A large number of works in SUISA Digital's repertoire is available on the Snapchat platform and is used by users without Snap having acquired a licence from SUISA Digital".
"As a result of Snap's refusal to license and infringing conduct", it went on, "SUISA Digital has filed a lawsuit against Snap with the Hamburg District Court. Through its lawsuit, SUISA Digital seeks to ensure the authors and publishers it represents are adequately compensated for the ongoing, illegal use of their creative work".
Commenting on the litigation, SUISA Digital CEO Fabian Niggemeier said: "SUISA Digital is using all of the resources at its disposal to defend the interests of authors and publishers it represents and is taking resolute action against the illegal use of music. This is the only way we can effectively represent the interests of authors and publishers and ensure that they are compensated fairly by Snap".
The Swiss society's partner in digital licensing matters, SESAC, also backed the legal action. It's President Of International, Alexander Wolf, added: "SESAC has been working closely with SUISA for years as part of our joint venture MINT. As a result, SUISA Digital has our full backing in its lawsuit against Snap. Snap has benefited from the creative work of authors and publishers for years. We expect Snap to recognise the value of the work".
One Media iP Group confirms it is offering £3.5 million for one per cent of the Pink Floyd catalogue
Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Pink Floyd was looking to capitalise on all the recent interest in buying up music rights, with both the band's recordings and songs part of any possible deal. The FT then last week cited sources who had said that both Warner Music and BMG were considering bids, the latter via its partnership with private equity outfit KKR.
In a statement on Friday, One Media iP Group said that it had made a bid via its Harmony iP scheme which "is designed to partner with artists, producers and content owners by making percentage acquisitions in catalogue and royalty income streams". If it became a stakeholder in the band's rights it would also provide use of its anti-piracy system TCAT, benefiting whoever got the other 99%.
The firm's CEO Michael Infante added: "Whilst our bid is for a single percentage share in Floyd's phenomenal catalogue, our TCAT anti-piracy offer extends to the entire catalogue. Anyone purchasing the remaining 99% will enjoy the protection - for free - that TCAT affords. It will be a win-win for the artist, the catalogue and, of course, One Media and its shareholders if our offer is accepted".
"One Media iP may not be the biggest player in town but we are profitable and we have cash in the bank", he went on. "Our shareholders will love this deal if we can pull it off. The £350 million asking price looks about right and we are in a position to put down £3.5 million for 1% right now. We have done our numbers".
Above & Beyond launch new ambient label
"Our two record labels, Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep, were born on the dancefloor", say the producer trio. "For over 20 years these labels have taken us, our music, and our artists, to dancefloors across the world. The third Anjuna record label is our new downtempo and ambient imprint called Reflections, and we are delighted to share it with you".
"Reflections is born from all those moments in between the dancefloors", they add. "The mornings after, the nights apart, the journeys shared along the way. Those moments of Reflection".
The new label will also have a focus on mental health, and the role of music in health and wellbeing. Label Manager Penny Longstaff explains: "Alongside the music we'll be releasing - a lot of which is going to be conducive to sleeping, relaxing, and focusing - we're also launching a host of curated mood-based mixes. That just opens up so many new avenues of who we can reach with the music".
Co-founder of the three labels' parent company Involved Group, James Grant, adds: "This is a genre that we have a history in and one we belong in".
"If you look back on what we've done on the Above & Beyond albums", he goes on, "there's always been two or three standout downtempo tracks that have connected really well. Then, with everyone stuck at home, people had this sort of music on in the background while they were working. Mood listening became a really big thing. So lots of things conspired to make Reflections feel like a good idea at the right time".
"A lot of our artists just started naturally sending us this kind of stuff", he continues. "Yotto, for example, wrote a chill-out album which he sent to us when we were already planning this label. His record 'Erased Dreams' is going to be the first album on Reflections".
So that's the first album release confirmed, but not the first release. That title goes to Above & Beyond's new double A-side single, 'Morning In Deira / Time Heals'.
Pathways Into Music research guide launched at The Great Escape
The Pathways Into Music Foundation has been mapping music industries, music careers and the music-maker community in recent years, looking at how hobbyist artists now routinely monetise their music online, and at the journey DIY phase artists go on as they seek to pursue a career around their music-making. Some of those music-makers will ultimately engage the conventional music industry - locally and nationally - but there is work to be done before that's going to happen.
For music-makers in the DIY phase, Pathways Into Music has developed an 'artist circle', helping them to navigate the process frontline artists go through in growing an audience and building a business around their songs and recordings. The circle is split into four quarters: creative, fanbase, promotion and finance.
The foundation then recruited twelve music industry experts to put together ten key pieces of knowledge and information that we should be getting out to music-makers for each quarter of the circle, with 40 top tips in total. Those experts then took to the stage at TGE last week to talk through their tips in more detail. The plan is to make that knowledge and information available to DIY phase artists via music educators and talent development organisations.
"Music educators and talent development organisations are often the first point of contact aspiring music-makers have with the wider music industry", says Pathways Into Music director Phil Nelson. "Those educators and organisations are often more focused on the art of music-making, but being a music-maker today - even as a hobbyist - also often involves releasing music and connecting with an audience. Which means there's some extra knowledge and information that we really need to get to early career artists and songwriters".
"Educators and talent development teams are best positioned to provide that knowledge and information", he goes on. "Part of our mission is to provide those educators and teams with the knowledge and information they should be passing on - in a simple, concise and easy-to-digest way. The artist circle - and the 40 tips our music industry experts put together - can really help with that process".
We'll be publishing each set of ten tips in the CMU Daily over this week. But there is also a new guide summarising all of Pathways Into Music's recent research work - including the artist circle - which was made possible by the support of BIMM and CD Baby. Launched at TGE last week, you can now download a PDF copy of the guide here.
The new phase of Pathways Into Music research that was launched at TGE last Wednesday is another round of mapping, this time mapping music education in all its many forms. As a starting point, anyone involved in music education in anyway is encouraged to put themselves on the foundation's radar by filling out this short form here.
Independent music investment firm Exceleration Music has announced a "strategic financial alliance" with indie label Mom+Pop Music, which will allow the record company to expand and sign new artists. "We chose this path because it provides financial tools enabling us to maintain our self-sufficiency", says label co-owner Thaddeus Rudd. "We've created a hybrid in today's market, offering artistic controls and a boutique service, pairing it with the power and reach of a larger system. This expansion is a bet on our artists, our staff and our collective future".
Warner Music China has signed one of the country's biggest stars, Miriam Yeung. "I'm super excited for this episode in my life", she says. "I look forward to partnering with Warner Music in this new chapter of my musical journey, bringing my work to new places and even more people around Asia. I am more than ready than I have ever been".
Party Dozen have teamed up with Nick Cave for new single 'Macca The Mutt'. Party Dozen's new album, 'The Real Work', is out on 8 Jul.
GIGS & TOURS
Deftones have announced that they will play The Kentish Town Forum in London on 13 Jun. Tickets go on general sale on 20 May.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ukraine wins Eurovision Song Contest, UK comes second
Already one of the favourites to win the competition, it became widely expected that Ukraine would be Eurovision champions this year following the Russian invasion of the country in February.
Of course, following those events, it had not been a given that Ukraine would be able perform at this year's contest at all. First there was the logistical question of whether Kalush Orchestra would be able to travel to this year's host city, Turin in Italy. And then there was the political dimension, with Eurovision famously having a strict no politics rule, which is always hard to enforce when there is an ongoing political and/or military conflict between two countries competing in the contest
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has impacted on Eurovision before, of course, in particular following the former's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Back in 2016, Russia complained that Ukraine's entry that year - Jamala's '1944' - was clearly political because its lyrics were about military action in Crimea. EBU had banned overtly political songs in the past, the Russian delegation said, and should stop '1944' from being performed too.
But Ukraine countered that the song was about completely different military action - one led by Joseph Stalin in 1944 - and not the annexation of the region by Russia in 2014, so no rules had been broken. The EBU allowed the song to be entered despite Russia's protestations, and it then went on to win.
That created another round of political problems when the 2017 Contest was staged in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Ukraine threatened to arrest Russian performer Julia Samoilova if she entered the country, as she appeared on a blacklist of artists who had recently performed in Crimea. In the end, Ukraine banned her from entering Ukraine for three years instead, while made performing in Kyiv impossible. So the EBU proposed that their performer that year take part via video link, but in the end Russia pulled out entirely.
The Russia/Ukraine conflict had also already directly impacted on this year's Contest, even before February's invasion. Ukraine's first choice to compete in this year's Contest, Alina Pash, was dropped after it emerged that she had travelled to Crimea in 2015, a year after Russia had seized control of the area and in violation of the strict rules that had been placed on how Ukrainians may enter the region.
Then, following the February invasion, the EBU initially said that - despite the military conflict and because of its no politics rule - it was "planning to welcome artists from both [Russia and Ukraine] to perform". However, following criticism from broadcasters across Europe about the EBU's stance - including Ukraine's state broadcaster, UA:PBC - it was subsequently announced that Russia would be barred from entering the competition.
With Ukraine still welcome, it was then the logistical questions that came back to the fore. Initially the Kalush Orchestra announced that - unless the war was over by May - they would instead send a pre-recorded performance from "a safe place" in Ukraine. However, ultimately they were able to travel to Italy to appear live at the first semi-final and grand final last week.
During the show itself Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleg Psyuk managed to insert one last bit of politics into the proceedings, shouting from the stage at the end of the band's performance, "Save Mariupol, save Azovstal right now!" That arguably broke the no politics rule, though the EBU said in a statement that it had decided that Psyuk had in fact made a "humanitarian" gesture.
"We understand the deep feelings around Ukraine at this moment and believe the comments of the Kalush Orchestra and other artists expressing support for the Ukrainian people to be humanitarian rather than political in nature", the organisation said.
So, officially at least, there were no politics on the Eurovision stage this year. Though politics certainly impacted on the voting. While 'Stefania' does seem like a deserving winner, regardless of Ukraine's current situation, it would be hard to say that the Russian invasion had not galvanised feeling around supporting the country.
Ukraine's Eurovision win this year was delivered thanks to massive support in the public vote - so large that they would have come third even if they'd received nothing from the 40 voting nations' juries in the first round of voting. On the jury vote, they came fourth, 91 points behind the UK's entry, which was comfortably in the lead at that point.
Once the public vote was added to their total, it was clear that Ukraine would be unstoppable. The country scored 631 points from both the jury and public votes, well ahead of the UK's 466.
Commenting on their win, Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleg Psyuk said: "We haven't really celebrated yet. We will probably have a big celebration after the war because victory is great, winning Eurovision is fantastic, but there is just so much stuff going on. People are getting killed in the war or they fight in the war or lose their jobs in Ukraine, it is not really the best backdrop for celebrations".
Kalush Orchestra's victory also raised another logistical query: where will Eurovision 2023 be hosted? The winning country usually hosts the following year's event, of course, but will Ukraine be in a position to do that next May. Many suggested that the UK could take on the hosting duties given its second place in the rankings, but Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has insisted that the event will take place in the winning country as normal in 2023.
In a statement posted on Instagram, he said: "Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision! For the third time in its history. And I believe not the last. We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt! Thank you for winning [Kalush Orchestra] and everyone who voted for us! I am sure that our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off".
So, it was an eventful Eurovision. And what about that second place ranking for the UK? Although pushed out of the winning slot by the public vote, that result was nevertheless a massive achievement for this year's UK team. It's the first time in years that the UK has made any great impression on the leader board - the last time we came top ten being in Moscow in 2009, with Jade Ewen's 'It's My Time'. Since then, we've mostly become well acquainted with the bottom of the list.
Last year James Newman and his song 'Embers' reached a new low in the UK's fortunes when he received no points whatsoever from the jury or public votes. Many claimed that that was some sort of punishment for Brexit, although it seemed more likely that it was down to a lack of any real effort on the part of the UK to compete in a competition where standards both musically and performance-wise have risen dramatically over the last two decades.
For this year's contest, artist management company TaP Music took over the work of selecting the UK entry from BMG. In March, it was announced that TikTok star and committed Eurovision fan Sam Ryder would be heading to Turin with his song 'Space Man'.
Co-written by Ed Sheeran collaborator Amy Wadge, it seemed to embrace the spirit of Eurovision without trying to (incorrectly) second guess what the Eurovision audience wants, while Ryder and his team fully threw themselves into the process and the performance.
"I think it's just a flip in attitude", Wadge told the BBC of the reverse in fortunes. "For a long time we, as Brits, built this thing up of, 'Well, we're just going to lose'. But this year the thinking was, 'How about we don't do that, and we look at it with the sort of respect that other countries do?"
Tweeting his appreciation after the event, Ryder said: "Still up in space, man! Thank you all for blazing with love, positivity and kindness throughout this wild and euphoric experience. We completely felt your support and we so deeply appreciated it".
Of course, another reason for an artist like Ryder being more willing to put themselves forward for Eurovision this year may have been the incredible success of Italian rock band Måneskin enjoyed following their win last year. They returned as one of this year's interval acts, performing their new single 'Supermodel' and a cover of 'If I Can Dream', which will feature in new Baz Luhrmann film 'Elvis'.
Whether Ryder can match the boost that Måneskin received remains to be seen, but he does already have a European tour booked for the autumn, along with the release of his debut album - 'There's Nothing But Space, Man!' on 14 Oct - from which 'Space Man' is the first single.
Yesterday, Kaluch Orchestra released the powerful official video for 'Stefania', shot in war-torn cities around the Kyiv Oblast. Watch that here.