|THURSDAY 23 JUNE 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The pan-European trade group for the independent music community, IMPALA, has urged European countries seeking to address concerns around fair remuneration in the digital music sector to follow the French approach, not the Belgian approach. In France a voluntary agreement has been reached within the industry setting a number of new standards, whereas in Belgium a new performer equitable remuneration right has been added into copyright law... [READ MORE]|
IMPALA calls for French style agreements on fair digital remuneration instead of ER
The big digital pie debate around how streaming income should be shared out between artists, musicians, songwriters, record labels, music publishers and the streaming services themselves has been rumbling on for years, of course. However, when the COVID pandemic hit pretty much all music industry revenue streams except streaming, the question of how streaming monies are shared out became an even bigger talking point in the music community.
In terms of what share of streaming income artists receive, that generally depends entirely on what deal an artist has done with a record label or music distributor, and can be anywhere from a few percent to 100% of the money allocated to a recording by the services. But many artists on conventional record deals, where they receive a minority of that money - and especially on old deals, where the rate is often lower - reckon they should get a bigger cut.
There have been various proposals for how aggrieved artists could get a better deal. Many in the indie label community support voluntary initiatives, such as labels paying a minimum modern royalty rate to all artists with recordings in their catalogues - oblivious of whatever any old record deals say - and also writing off unrecouped advances and costs after a period of time. Some indies - most notably the Beggars Group - already do both of those things.
Others have proposed reforming copyright law to help artists get a bigger cut of the money. Possible reforms include providing artists with a right in law to renegotiate old record deals after a period of time or to cancel old deals and reclaim the rights in old recordings.
Or there is the alternative proposal that the performer ER right that already exists for broadcast and public performance income should be extended to streams, so that artists would get at least some of their streaming income directly via the collective licensing system at industry standard rates.
In the UK, all three of those copyright law reforms were included in the Economics Of Music Streaming report produced by Parliament's culture select committee last year and in the subsequent bill proposed by committee member Kevin Brennan MP. And the UK government's Intellectual Property Office is currently researching how each of those proposals might work.
However, the UK government's preference is that the industry reach some sort of voluntary deal around fair remuneration, as well as other issues raised about the streaming economy, such as the lack of transparency in relation to digital deals and streaming income. The majors have already committed to pay through monies on unrecouped heritage acts, though groups representing artists and songwriters will want any voluntary agreement to go further than that.
Elsewhere in Europe, in France a voluntary agreement has been reached between labels and performers that will result in a number of new industry standards, including a minimum royalty rate and some kick backs for session musicians, who don't usually earn anything from streams under the current system.
The agreement took years to negotiate and the wider industry is still figuring exactly what it will mean in practical terms, but supporters of that approach say it provides a good framework around which to build a fairer digital music economy.
Meanwhile in Belgium, earlier this month the country's Parliament introduced a new Performer ER right on streams, meaning that streaming services will now pay a portion of their revenues directly to performers, most likely through the collective licensing system.
That new ER right was added as Belgium finally got round to implementing the 2019 EU Copyright Directive. When that directive was being negotiated some campaigned for a new pan-European ER right on streams to be inserted. However, it was not included in the final draft.
But there is an article that says EU member states must ensure that performers receive "appropriate and proportionate remuneration" from the exploitation of their work. That's a very vague obligation which most EU countries have simply cut and pasted directly into their national copyright laws. But some countries have sought to clarify how that "appropriate and proportionate remuneration" should be achieved.
For example, Germany added a new ER right for performers specifically linked to user-upload platforms. Belgium was set to do the same, but then extended the new ER right to cover all streaming services. It's thought that new right will probably work in a similar way to Spain and Hungary, where an ER right on streams was already in place pre-Directive.
That means labels will continue to license their recordings to the services and receive payments from said services that they share with their artists subject to the terms of each record deal. But performers will also get their own streaming royalty direct. As a result, the services will inevitably and accordingly seek to reduce the payments they make to labels.
The deadline for implementing the 2019 directive into each EU member state's national copyright laws was actually a year ago, but twelve countries are still working on it.
Pro-ER campaigners are hoping that more countries might now follow Belgium's lead by providing a new ER right on streams rather than just pasting a generic line about "appropriate and proportionate remuneration" into law. And Belgian ministers have also indicated that they will be encouraging other countries to go down that route.
But there are pros and cons to the ER approach, and the label community is generally opposed to ER being applied to streams. They argue that it will negatively impact on their ability to invest in new artists and will mean there is less flexibility when it comes to negotiating deals. Plus those artists who basically run their own labels working with distributors could actually be worse off once the admin costs of running ER have been paid.
Based on those arguments, IMPALA have called on those countries that are still to implement the directive to not use that process to introduce a new ER right. Instead, they say in a statement published yesterday, those countries should insert the various elements of the directive dealing with performer rights - as well as the article seventeen provisions around the copyright safe harbour - "swiftly and faithfully according to the text of the directive".
"The directive", the statement adds, "has a full performer package [including the] principle of appropriate and proportionate remuneration (article eighteen, which rejected a new right to 'equitable remuneration'), transparency obligations (article nineteen), contract adjustment mechanism (article twenty) and right of revocation (article 22)".
"IMPALA has fully supported this package from the beginning", it goes on, "but does not agree with grafting additional rights, such as new rights for collecting societies or performers to negotiate with digital services for a parallel fee, so called 'equitable remuneration'".
Instead, it argues, the best way to achieve the "appropriate and proportionate remuneration" described in article eighteen is via an agreement within the industry similar to that negotiated in France.
That French agreement, it states, "aims both at creating value and the conditions of balanced value sharing. This historic and consensual agreement was concluded by the whole French industry including artists and labels - with IMPALA member UPFI. It is a negotiated solution addressing value in the digital music chain for the first time".
"The absence of 'equitable remuneration' in the French accord underlines that there is no place for this in a modern music market as it would prove disastrous for the local market", it adds. "This is something that was already rejected by all three EU institutions in their negotiations when the copyright directive was being crafted".
"Despite this", it continues, "last week neighbouring Belgium voted a law implementing the directive, for which an 'equitable remuneration' provision was added at the last minute, with zero consultation or impact assessment".
"So-called 'equitable remuneration' is simply not equitable in IMPALA's view", it then states. "It limits labels' capacity to invest in new music and reduces their revenues along with the revenues of their artists, as experience in Spain has shown. It also doesn't fit with self-releasing artist business models, which are more prominent in the modern music market".
IMPALA then cites the ten step plan on streaming that it published last year, which opposed ER and instead called on labels to pay all artists a "contemporary digital rate". It adds that the agreement in France - and separate discussions in Sweden - have both advocated something more in line with its proposals.
Expanding on the organisation's position, IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith says: "The Copyright Directive started with the promise of a strong European copyright. But Europe's copyright will only be as strong as its protections and guarantees if governments stick to the text which, let's remember, is the result of a carefully crafted compromise and which includes a full package for authors and performers".
"We have seen recently in France and also in Sweden that so called 'equitable remuneration' is not getting traction", she adds. "We therefore urge member states to confirm their support for the full package of rights in the directive without any additional rights which have the effect of singling countries out, and with them their whole local music scene".
"Maximising revenues for artists is labels' raison d'être", she goes on. "We believe that solutions are at hand when the industry comes together to discuss them. This is what happened in France where an agreement was reached with a very broad consensus after months of collective bargaining. It's hard work, it's difficult and it takes time, but it's the only way to ensure balance for all and preserve the fragile and essential economic model of independent labels".
As all these digital music debates continue across the world, CMU's Chris Cooke will be presenting a brand new speed briefing - 'The Digital Dollar Debates' - at Vill Vill Vest in Bergen in September as part of a series of CMU curated sessions - more details here.
Domino comments on Four Tet settlement, insists no precedent set
Four Tet, real name Kieran Hebden, sued Domino in a dispute over what royalty rate he should receive on streams. Although the Standard Royalty Provisions that accompanied his 2001 Domino record contract did talk about downloads - on which an 18% royalty was due - it didn't mention streams. But the label had been applying that 18% rate to his streaming income too.
Hebden argued that streaming should be covered by provisions in his 2001 deal that dealt with licensing, on the basis Domino has a licensing deal relationship with the streaming services. And that would see him get 50% of the money.
Plenty of other artists on pre-digital deals have argued that record contract terms relating to licensing should be applied to streams when it comes to sharing streaming income, rather than using the royalty rates that were applied to the sale of physical recordings. It was very common in old record contracts for artists to get a significantly bigger cut of licensing income than sales income.
There have also been previous lawsuits on this issue, albeit mainly in the US. In this legal battle, Domino argued that Hebden's interpretation of his old record contract was incorrect. Nevertheless, in its settlement with the musician, it has agreed to pay the 50% royalty rate on past and future digital income.
However, although a court hearing considered a side dispute in the case late last year, the core question over how to interpret old record contracts in the context of streaming was not discussed in court. So there is no legal precedent set. That said, because Hebden's settlement was not confidential, it could encourage other artists stuck in similar old deals to seek to negotiate better royalty rates.
Commenting on the settlement in a statement issued to Billboard, the label said: "Domino are pleased that Kieran Hebden has chosen to settle his 2020 claim and accepted financial terms first offered to him in November 2021. Kieran's claim arose from differing interpretations of specific clauses in a contract entered into by Kieran and Domino in 2001 in the pre-streaming era, and the application of those clauses to streaming income".
"Since 2021", it went on, "Kieran has added to and pursued his claim despite numerous attempts by Domino to settle the matter. Neither the courts, nor the settlement terms, have made any determination as to how streaming should be categorised or streaming income split. The case now having been settled, we are glad to be able to dedicate our full attention to resourcing and supporting our artists and we wish Kieran continued success in his career".
Dua Lipa sued (again) over sharing paparazzi photos
In his lawsuit, filed in California earlier this week, Barbera says that Lipa removed the photos after being made aware of the alleged infringement, but that after he served her with a draft version of his legal complaint "communication slowed and eventually stopped".
"Plaintiff emailed defendant multiple times to give them notice that this claim was going to be filed", the lawsuit states, according to Law360. "Plaintiff received no response and as such has been forced by the defendant to request the court's assistance in adjudicating this matter".
The default owner of the copyright in a photograph is usually the photographer, with any people that appear in the image having no claim under copyright law. They might be able to restrict the use of the photo through privacy law, or by enforcing image or publicity rights, but the intellectual property rights usually belong to whoever held the camera.
There have been a number of lawsuits filed in recent years by photographers who have snapped a celebrity and then seen said celeb use their photo on social media. In 2019, Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande were also sued by Barbera over this issue. Both settled out of court.
Dua Lipa has also been sued over this issue before, last year being served with legal papers over an image she shared in 2019. The same lawyer who filed that case, Craig B Saunders, is representing Barbera here.
Audiomack expands licensing deal with Universal
The new deal will bring a curated selection of tracks from the major label's catalogue to the platform in sixteen African countries - including Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt - as well as Canada and the UK. Premium Audiomack subscribers in Africa will also get access to the full UMG catalogue. A previous agreement between Audiomack and the major only covered the US.
"Millions of listeners across Africa, the UK and Canada use Audiomack every day", says the company's CEO Dave Macli. "Our expanded partnership with UMG helps artists in these regions better connect with their local fans and helps artists around the globe tap into a new audience of discovery-focused music fans".
Sipho Dlamini - CEO for Universal Music South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa - adds: "We are excited for more fans across Africa and beyond to have greater access to some of Africa's most exciting musical talent, as well as UMG's unrivalled catalogue of international superstars and releases. We welcome Audiomack as a partner and look forward to working with them to help strengthen the entire streaming ecosystem in Africa".
The sixteen African nations covered by the deal are Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Launched in 2012, originally with a focus on mixtapes, Audiomack is credited with helping to launch the careers of rap acts like Migos and Chance The Rapper. It has always had a particular focus on music discovery, and also added some interesting direct-to-fan tools last year.
The company signed a licensing deal with Warner Music in 2019, which was expanded the following year. It signed up both Universal and Sony Music last year.
Warner Music unveils 3EE
When Warner acquired 300 Entertainment late last year, its co-founder and CEO Kevin Liles took on the additional job of CEO of the major's Elektra Music Group, so the creation of a joined-up brand for the two divisions seemed likely.
300 and Elektra will still have their own teams and operations, the former headed up by recently promoted Co-Presidents Rayna Bass and Selim Bouab, the latter by Mike Easterlin and Gregg Nadel. And the other distinct label brands that previously sat within either 300 or Elektra will also continue to operate as part of 3EE, including Elektra Records, Fueled By Ramen, Roadrunner, Low Country Sound, DTA Records, Public Consumption, Young Stoner Life Records and Sparta.
There will now also be a "central hub of expertise" that will "bring together the deep knowledge and wide experience spanning the 300 and Elektra teams". But it seems that the main development here is the creation of this big old 3EE brand.
And with a new brand created, you can be sure this announcement came with some customary branding bullshit. Would you like to hear it? Of course you would! "As part of the launch, a new logo and mission statement have been unveiled, drawing on 3EE labels' distinctive DNA and the new company's unique indie-major philosophy", says the announcement.
"The logo combines elements of both brands", it goes on, "including 300's signature red '3' and the stacked Elektra Entertainment logo. The mission statement makes clear 3EE's creative identity, heralding the company as a family of labels driven by 'the power of people, the power of service, and the power of action', with the 'mindset of an independent and the muscle of a major'".
Champion. Hope you enjoyed all the branding bullshit. Though there's some more corporate speak nonsense to enjoy coming up in this quote from the aforementioned Kevin Liles. And partly in the form of a hashtag no less. Brace yourselves!
"Every single brand within 3EE was born as an independent, entrepreneurial label made up of music-lovers who take risks, break rules, and disrupt culture", reckons Liles. "The mission of 3EE is to reimagine our value proposition to artists and creative partners globally".
"We fuel the spirit of our labels' identities through the creation of powerhouse brand management teams that span genres and cultures", he goes on. "Our people are handpicked because they all live what they work and love what they do. Every label within the 3EE family is driven by a unique point of view and purpose, and, at the same time, they all benefit from our years of collective expertise, wisdom, and influence. We call this #BiggerFamilyBusiness".
Thanks Kev! That was lovely. Bit of a weird hashtag thing though.
Universal launches UMusic Media Network to boost brand partnerships
It's basically a way for Universal to further monetise its music and video content by charging brands to rub up against it. But not only that, it says, "for the first time, the offering allows for audience hypertargeting at a scale", and outside of music it will offer "lifestyle content from UMG-owned platforms such as Rebel Labs, Mercury Studios and Polygram Entertainment".
Blimey. There will be data insights too, lots of them I'm sure, and the network will also seek out other brand partnership opportunities across Universal's many record labels. The whole thing is being overseen by Richard Yaffa - Global Head Of UMGB - and Morgan Buksbaum - the division's SVP Media & Properties - and properly launches after a year long beta programme.
"The UMusic Media Network brings together UMG's unmatched artist roster, marketing capabilities and resources to empower brands and partners directly", says Yaffa. "Through this cutting-edge new platform, UMG artists can create destination programming exclusively for brands, giving our partners the ability to hyper-target culturally relevant content where they have not been able to do before. When advertisers connect with culturally relevant content and associate their brand with our artists, consumers feel greater brand affinity and engage with those ads more actively".
UMG Executive Vice President Michele Anthony adds: "The UMusic Media Network combines the unique collective resources that only UMG, as the world's leading music-based entertainment company, can provide to partners, creating an unrivalled service that leverages and delivers the reach, power and influence that great music and artist content can bring, while creating value for our artists, labels and our partners".
So that's all very exciting. For Universal. And possibly some brands.
Warner Music has announced that its CEO Stephen Cooper is standing down, although only once a new chief has been appointed, which could take more than a year. Cooper became Chair of Warner Music in July 2011 following its acquisition by Access Industries. He then took on the CEO role the following month. He's led the mini-major during the record industry's streaming-led revival, expanding the business and overseeing its IPO on the Nasdaq stock exchange in 2020.
Big Machine Label Group in the US has promoted Carly Strickland to A&R Director. "I feel so lucky to continue at Big Machine. I'm proud of the projects I've gotten to be a part of so far and I'm even more excited about the future and what we are going to accomplish together", she says.
Gorillaz have released new track 'Cracker Island', featuring Thundercat. "It's nice to be back", says 2D. "I'm well into our new tune, it brings back weird and scary memories of stuff that hasn't happened yet".
Netsky has teamed up with Rita Ora for new single 'Barricades'. "The song is about the battles people go through being in love", says the producer. "We combined the simple beauty of pop with the power of breaks/drum and bass. I want to make dance music that has honesty and emotion - I think this song is that".
Tove Lo has announced that she will release new album 'Dirt Femme' on 14 Oct. New single 'True Romance' is out now. The album, she says, "is about me and my relationship with my femininity. When I started out as a writer and an artist, I used to view my feminine traits as weaker and would enhance my masculine traits to get ahead in life. I feel a big energy shift in my environment since then and this album reflects the various ways my feminine side has both helped and hurt me".
As unlikely as it sounds, Yard Act are set to release a new version of their song '100% Endurance' featuring Elton John on 1 Jul. "Elton John saw our stuff and he started telling the press he thought we were good", says frontman James Smith. "And then we chatted on the phone and after a few calls I said, 'Elton, do you want to come to the studio and play piano on a tune?' because, fuck it, it doesn't matter if he says no. Anyway, he said 'yes', so it doesn't matter that he didn't say no".
Jamie T has released new single 'St George Wharf Tower'. His new album, 'The Theory of Whatever', is out on 29 Jul.
Amanda Shires has released new single 'Take It Like A Man', the title track from her upcoming solo album.
First Aid Kit are back with their first new music for three years, a single called 'Angel'. "It feels special to release a song after such a long hiatus", say the duo. "Today we're so THRILLED to finally share our new track 'Angel' – a hopeful tune for these crazy times about accepting other people even if you don't always see eye to eye".
Lucrecia Dalt has announced that she will release new album '¡Ay!' on 14 Oct. New single 'No Tiempo' is out now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Pharrell named Chief Brand Officer at Doodles NFT
You know, like giving celebs nonsense job titles. Surely that died with Justin Timberlake and MySpace? Well, arise Pharrell Williams, the new Chief Brand Officer at Doodles NFT.
The non-fungible-Pharrell-hook-up was announced yesterday at crypto conference NFT.NYC, as Doodles also revealed that it has raised its first round of funding led by venture capital firm Seven Seven Six. Williams will apparently direct the company's approach to music, artwork, consumer products, animation and events. So that'll keep him busy.
"I'm a big fan of the brand", he said in a video message played at the event, according to Decrypt. "We're going to build from the core community outward and bring Doodles to new heights, new levels".
As well as overseeing all that brand stuff, Williams is also going to get to work as executive producer on a compilation album of music that will then be released as a collection of NFTs. I mean, I guess that's a better use of Williams' skillset, if you're willing to ignore the nonsense concept.
Titled 'Doodles Records: Volume 1', the compilation will be released through Sony's Columbia label and will - the NFT firm says - feature a number of "major recording artists". They didn't say who, but I suppose we can assume that Williams is one of them. Maybe they could all work together on one track and give us the NFT equivalent of the masterpiece that was the 'MegaUpload Song'.
Williams wasn't the only music celeb to appear at the NFT.NYC conference. Or at least so NBC News reporter Kevin Collier believed for a moment, when he thought he saw another pop star in the building who has famously jumped on the NFT bandwagon.
"I'm at the NFT NYC conference again in Times Square, and Snoop walked by, flanked by security", tweeted Collier. "I grabbed his handler, said I'm a reporter, would love a few minutes. The guy said actually that's an impersonator, legally can't say it's him, they hired him to drum up excitement. Feels like a metaphor".
A photograph of the impersonator revealed that he was officially at the conference under the name Doop Snogg.