|WEDNESDAY 6 JULY 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Featured Artists Coalition's petition calling on UK collecting society PRS to reconsider its decision to cut the funding it provides the PRS Foundation has now past a 1000 signatures, with artists like Sam Fender, Anna Calvi and Wolf Alice's Joff Oddie backing the FAC's campaign... [READ MORE]|
FAC renews call on PRS Foundation funding as petition passes 1000 signatures
PRS confirmed at its AGM in May that the funding it provides to the talent development charity it set up in 2000 will be cut from the current £2.5 million a year to £1 million a year from 2024. That's because the specific income stream the funding comes from - basically interest earned on investments and royalties awaiting distribution - has been in decline in recent years.
However, many artist and songwriter groups have called on the society to top up its annual donation to the Foundation from other funds. In particular unallocated digital monies, aka the "digital black box". These are digital royalties which - because of various data issues - cannot be accurately allocated to specific works.
Currently these are shared out across the PRS membership but, campaigners argue, because the bigger publishers should be on top of their data and therefore have received all the streaming income they are due, any unallocated money should be diverted to independent and DIY songwriters. Using some of that money to fund the Foundation would be an easy way of doing that.
FAC also points out that collecting societies elsewhere in Europe divert core revenues to cultural funding initiatives. In a new statement issued this morning, the artist group states: "PRS For Music's £2.5 million donation to the Foundation represents just 0.32% of the society's collections. This is significantly less than equivalent donations made by PRS's European counterparts".
"For example", it goes on, "French collecting society SACEM donated 32.4 million euros for cultural and artistic projects in 2019, while GEMA in Germany donated up to 10% of its collections for social and cultural purposes. Danish collecting society KODA invested 9.6 million euros in its Kultur Fund".
More than 50 music industry organisations previously signed an open letter calling on PRS to find a way to continue to support the Foundation at current levels, alongside the petition launched by the FAC. And a number of notable artists - all PRS members - are now supporting that petition.
Sam Fender states: "Being given the chance to develop properly as an emerging artist makes a huge difference, and PRS Foundation's support helps so many artists like me in all corners of the UK. So, I urge PRS to rethink and make sure enough money is available for the next generation".
Anna Calvi: adds "I have been fortunate enough to have received PRS Foundation funding in my career, which was incredibly important for me to realise my creative vision. This was in 2017, and with the current state of the industry, funding has become more important now than ever".
"To learn of the news that PRS are cutting the funding budget by 60% is really heartbreaking", she continues. "It makes me concerned for the current generation of incredible talent, and ones to follow … PRS must reverse this decision and return to a position where they support the incredible talent our country has to offer".
And Wolf Alice's Joff Oddie says: "The Foundation's legacy of supporting upcoming talent speaks for itself, having been instrumental to the success of countless artists from all genres and backgrounds. In 2014 Wolf Alice were given funding to go to South By South West in Texas; a trip that proved instrumental in opening up the American market for us".
"That same year Glass Animals, Slaves and Sophie also received funding", he goes on. "These cuts will have a horrific impact, and leave our brilliant, British music industry much poorer. I really hope PRS will reconsider and continue to support emerging British talent".
Restating the FAC's position that unallocated streaming royalties should be used to top up PRS Foundation funding, the organisation's CEO David Martin said earlier today: "Funding from the PRS Foundation has become absolutely essential for thousands of UK songwriters and artists. In the wake of COVID-19's catastrophic impacts, as well as the wider economic situation, this is a terrible moment to be making cuts".
"There is, however, a potential solution", he went on. "Rerouting some of the millions of pounds of unmatched black box revenues collected by PRS would surely provide an opportunity to actually increase the Foundation's funding. If the PRS Members' Council agreed this course of action, it could be one of the most significant ever investments in UK talent".
European Parliament passes Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act
A final version of the DMA was provisionally agreed back in March, with the final wording of the DSA provisionally agreed the following month. Although there was some last minute squabbling last month on the latter between the two main law-making institutions of the European Union, ie the Parliament and the EU Council.
The Council is still to formally adopt the final, final drafts of the two acts, though it should do that with the DMA this month and the DSA in September, with the new rules going into force shortly afterwards. Though affected platforms will have time to comply, how long depending on which rules and how big the platform is.
While arguably not as significant for the music industry as the European copyright reforms in 2019, nevertheless the new rules governing digital platforms and tech giants across Europe will have some impact on the music business - although, as always, quite what impact won't really become clear until the new rules are being actively enforced.
The DMA could force some key changes when it comes to apps on Apple and Android devices, allowing app-makers to sign-post and/or employ alternative payment systems, which has been a big priority for Spotify for years now, and which could also boost opportunities for the wider music industry in the direct-to-fan space.
Meanwhile, on the live side, anti-ticket touting campaigners hope that new obligations in the Digital Services Act might result in better regulation in relation to the resale of tickets online across Europe. In particular some of the transparency obligations already in place in the UK - to make it clearer who is selling a ticket and that they are not an official seller - could apply across the EU too.
Welcoming the passing of the DSA, Sam Shemtob from the Face-value European Alliance For Ticketing said: "The introduction of the Digital Services Act is a key moment for the live events sector in the UK, as well as across Europe. The new legislation regulating online marketplaces will see EU countries catch up with the UK in terms of stricter rules for verifying professional sellers and making sure fans know who they're buying from".
"This will directly impact all UK artists who tour Europe", he added, "as well as make it harder for UK touts to operate under the guise of anonymity on European ticket resale sites".
Deezer arrives on Paris stock exchange, share price slumps
The French streaming firm announced its plan to become a publicly listed company via the I2PO merger back in April. For its part, I2PO raised monies on the Paris stock exchange last year with the stated intent that it would use that cash for acquisitions in the entertainment sector.
With that transaction and stock market listing now complete, Deezer said yesterday that it "intends to continue to grow, directing its efforts towards large attractive markets through its partnership-first strategy and focusing on product innovation and brand differentiation as the home of music, connecting fans and artists around the world".
The digital music business also reminded investors that this transaction brings 143 million euros of new money to the company, which includes cash held by I2PO plus further monies raised via a 'private investment in public equity' scheme, which was supported by many of the firm's previous investors.
Talking of which, Deezer's new investor relations site also sets out the approximate stock holdings of its biggest shareholders. Access Industries - which also controls Warner Music of course - remains the biggest shareholder with a 38.06% stake. Which is considerably bigger than the stake owned by the next biggest shareholder, Orange, an early investor in Deezer, which now controls 8.13% of the company.
Bigging up the future of the new publicly listed Deezer, CEO Jeronimo Folgueira said: "Deezer's IPO on Euronext Paris is a milestone in the company's history. We are now taking the first steps on a new and exciting journey to develop, expand and capture an even bigger part of the growing music streaming market".
"Through merging with I2PO and going public, we have created a solid foundation to execute our strategic plan, with the right capital, expertise and network", he added. "With a highly competitive product, a clear strategy, and a renewed and experienced management team, we will make the most of this opportunity to create substantial shareholder value. We are honoured to join the Euronext Tech Leaders segment and to be ranked among the greatest tech companies in Europe".
So that's all exciting. But does the investment community share Folgueira's optimism? Well, the first day's trading of the streaming firm's shares would suggest not really. Deezer's share price ended the day 29.4% down on its price at the point of listing, having been 35.1% down at one point.
It's no secret that some in the investment world are concerned about the likely future performance of subscription streaming services in an increasingly competitive marketplace, with the COVID-caused surge in home entertainment now over, and wider economic turmoil likely to result in at least some consumers seeking to cut their entertainment costs, while advertising budgets could also slide.
All of which means that a summer 2022 stock market listing for Deezer was always going to be tricky. But whatever happens next, now that it has a share price to monitor and quarterly financial reports to scrutinise, both investors and the music industry will be watching the progression of Deezer much more closely in the years ahead.
Dean McCullough and Vicky Hawkesworth to replace Scott Mills on Radio 1
It was announced last week that Mills is set to depart Radio 1 after 24 years at the station in September. He will replace Steve Wright on Radio 2, while his co-host Chris Stark is taking up a new job hosting Capital FM's breakfast show with Roman Kemp, although he will still co-present a podcast for the BBC. McCullough and Hawkesworth will begin hosting the Monday to Thursday afternoon show on Radio 1 from 5 Sep.
Both presenters were first heard on Radio 1 as part of the station's annual Christmas Takeover initiative, which tries out new talent. McCullough has been presenting the weekend morning show since last September, while Hawkesworth can currently be heard on BBC Radio Manchester and Gaydio, as well as regularly covering Radio 1 shows when presenters are unavailable. The duo's new weekday show will be broadcast from Salford.
"I literally don't know what to say, this is wild", says McCullough. "Being given the opportunity to launch a brand new daytime show on Radio 1 with the most talented production team and co-host is a full on dream come true. Vicky and I did the Christmas presenter search together in 2020 and I loved her from the second I met her. It's bittersweet because like so many millions of people I am a huge fan of Scott and Chris. They are hands down the best at doing the radio, ever. I'm really going to miss them on Radio 1 and hope that their brilliant listeners join us for this new chapter in September. I'm so grateful that this is happening, thank you Radio 1 for believing in me."
Hawkesworth adds: "In all honesty, I don't think there are words that can live up to how incredibly excited I am. I am quite literally about to live my dream and I can't wait to get going. I feel extremely honoured to be in this position, Scott and Chris are the best that radio has to offer, a phenomenal team that have kept me laughing and smiling over the years and it's a privilege to follow after them".
Head Of BBC Radio 1 Aled Haydn Jones comments: "I am so excited for Dean and Vicky. They are both highly engaging presenters who make me laugh so much in their company. They're a testament to the success of our Christmas Takeover initiative and I'm THRILLED [that the new show] will enable them to bring a smile to the nation on daytime. It is also a very special moment for Radio 1, as it means we'll be broadcasting from Salford seven days a week which is great".
Now, if McCullough and Hawkesworth are only set to be on air from Monday to Thursday, what's all this talk about having shows coming from Salford seven days a week?
Well, as they begin broadcasting their new show, Katie Thistleton will take over the Friday to Sunday morning slot left empty by McCullough, also broadcasting from the BBC's Salford base. She will also continue to present 'Radio 1's Life Hacks' on Sundays from 4-6pm and 'The Official Chart: First Look' on Radio 1 on Sundays for 6-7pm alongside co-host Vick Hope. So, basically, you're going to hear a lot of her chatting away in Salford if you like listening to Radio 1 at the weekends.
"This is a dream come true for me, to have my own show on the best station in the world from the best place in the world, my home city", Thistleton says. "It's all I've ever wanted! I'm so happy I'll be spending all weekend with the Radio 1 listeners and I can't wait to bring you lots of anthems and lots of fun new features! Roll on September!"
The first edition of her new show will air on 9 Sep.
UD's new London home Talent House launches
The centre - which includes an assortment of studios, plus event and co-working spaces - will be the base for much of UD's work supporting early-career music talent. That includes new and existing programmes and courses focused on music-making, music entrepreneurialism and music industry careers. The current series of UD Industry Takeover Seminars - co-hosted by CMU:DIY - is already taking place in the complex.
Explaining where UD fits in and how the new Talent House complex will boost the organisation's work, Founder and CEO Pamela McCormick says: "Over the last 20 plus years, UD has seen the potential for excellence in every young person we've encountered. Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not".
"We know that the specific training needs demanded of black music are not met by music education", she adds. "There is a lack of strategic talent development in black music, with many artists unable to achieve sustainable careers without subsidised intervention; and, whilst black music has never been more commercially successful in the UK, only a small percentage of the workforce is from communities experiencing racial inequality or barriers to social mobility".
"As we move into the Talent House", she goes on, "we are poised to realise the potential that this new state-of-the-art resource can bring to transforming the lives of young people, challenging the outdated traditions of music education, and diversifying the face of the music industry".
London mayor Sadiq Khan officially opened the new building and says of the venture: "Culture is at the heart of what makes London the greatest city in the world, which is why I'm delighted to officially open Talent House".
"London's music and dance scene is thriving, but these companies need a home to nurture and support talent, so I'm proud to have invested in this state of the art facility, which will not only be a springboard for creatives and performers in Newham and across the city, but help to cement London as the creative capital of the world", he continues. "Investment like this is essential for our city's recovery and a key part of building a better London for everyone".
Last's night's official launch also saw Ray BLK confirmed as UD's first ambassador, she having previously been involved in the organisation's Flames Collective programme, which offers young people access to support and expertise in writing, performing and recording music.
Says the musician: "Being an ambassador for UD is an absolute honour. It's a pleasure to be a part of the amazing work the organisation does for young people. I've performed before with The Flames Collective and so I know how UD supports young black musicians and helps develop their incredible gifts".
"The Talent House is going to be huge for East London", she adds, "and the state of the art facilities that people will have access to will be a game changer for them. It's an exciting time for black music and I know that with the commitment and passion from the team at UD, the Talent House is going to play a big role in creating opportunities and connections for young people and I'm so proud to be a part of it".
Gallops return with first in a series of machine learning assisted singles
"These tracks are also about stripping back our sound and creating something that feels more direct and visceral", says the band's Mark Huckridge. "We've always been interested in club culture and this is us letting that shine through, working less with melody and focusing more on rhythmic elements and how they interact with each other, as well as not being afraid to let things repeat".
'Boolean Who?' - and the other upcoming singles - see Gallops working with machine-learning research project Magenta, which introduces randomisation and chance to their music-making, as well as the use of experimental studio techniques influenced by the likes of dub innovator King Tubby.
"Whereas I'd always been most comfortable with composing with guitars, I found that this sense of comfort - of muscle memory - had been working against me", Huckridge continues. "Muscle memory is not an issue with technology, it doesn't have influences or an ego".
"So whilst technology has always been a big part of Gallops and the creative process, this time around machines have very much been collaborators as well as sound-making tools. I'm interested in that push and pull battle with machines in the creative process. They produce variations which sound a bit skewed, a bit inhuman, and that's exciting for me in terms of composing".
Death metal band Defleshed have signed to Metal Blade to release their first album since 2005.
Music licensing platform Lickd - previously mainly focused on helping YouTube creators license music - has partnered with decentralised metaverse Decentraland's entertainment and commercial district Vegas City. "This is a huge step for Lickd both in terms of expanding our offering into the metaverse and for the metaverse itself in terms of being able to simplify the music licensing solution", says Lickd CEO Paul Sampson. Vegas City CEO James Ashton, meanwhile, is "THRILLED".
Warner Music Canada has appointed three new A&R Directors, promoting George Kalivas and newly hiring Ajay Saxena - aka DJ Charlie B - and Nicholas Causarano. Plus Taylor Nishimura also becomes Associate Manager, A&R Operations. "I'm delighted that Charlie B and Nick have chosen to join the team - I know they'll help us become even more culturally relevant and commercially successful", says President Kristen Burke. "It's also fantastic that George and Taylor are stepping up into their new roles. They've done an incredible job out of the gate and will be the engine room of the A&R team, driving projects forward".
EDUCATION & EVENTS
Middlesex University London and the Association Of Independent Music have partnered to launch a new MA Music Business programme aimed at music industry professionals studying remotely. "I have a deep commitment to social justice, diversity and inclusion and making sure that there is a level playing field", says AIM CEO Paul Pacifico. "AIM is there to make space for new entrants to the market and for people who have come from unexpected places and do something brilliant. That's what we're all about".
Blur drummer Dave Rowntree has released his first solo single, 'London Bridge'. "When I lived in London things just started happening when I was near London Bridge, going over London Bridge on the bus, or on the tube going underneath London Bridge", he says. "I would just notice events occurring, or have life changing thoughts, make decisions and it was slightly unsettling. I had to confront my London Bridge demons". Rowntree signed to Cooking Vinyl in 2021 and is set to release his debut solo album later this year.
GIGS & TOURS
The Levellers have announced an acoustic tour of the UK in February and March next year, including a show at London's Hackney Empire on 9 Mar, which will be accompanied by an acoustic album revisiting old songs. "We are really excited to be recording a new acoustic album, going through some of our old material, rearranging it for today and doing some new stuff too", say the band. "Then we're looking forward to touring it! Going around the country's most beautiful old theatres and some unique and different other venues too". Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Three posthumous Michael Jackson songs removed from streaming services - although not because they're fakes, estate insists
Although, it's important to note, their removal has "nothing to do with their authenticity". It's just that the singer's fans have become so focussed on the fake vocal claims linked to these tracks that they've all - all of them - forgotten that he ever made any other music. Or something like that.
"The removal of these three songs has nothing to do with their authenticity", says a spokesperson. "The [Jackson] estate and Sony Music believe the continuing conversation about the tracks is distracting the fan community and casual Michael Jackson listeners from focusing their attention where it should be - on Michael's legendary and deep music catalogue".
Yeah, too right. I can't believe you all forgot about Michael's legendary and deep music catalogue. It's so legendary. And so very very deep.
Anyway, right, this probably requires a lengthy recap. Michael Jackson died in 2009. I'm assuming we don't need to go over all that again. He is dead. Just accept it. After his death, among other things, his estate announced a very grand plan indeed to release ten new albums featuring previously unreleased material.
The first of those, 'Michael', was released in 2010, followed by a second, 'Xscape', in 2014. The other eight are still pending. Possibly because of the controversy surrounding the first. Or maybe more likely because of some other Jackson related controversies. But either way, as soon as 'Michael' came out, a big old controversy was whipped right up.
'Michael' featured ten unfinished tracks that had been recorded throughout Jackson's career, with work on them completed by various producers led by Timbaland. The tracks that caused controversy were 'Breaking News', 'Monster' and 'Keep Your Head Up'. These all came from one recording session with producer Eddie Cascio, and - numerous people, including several members of the Jackson family, argued - the vocals on the final versions of these tracks were not Jackson's.
The estate, which worked with Sony Music's Epic label on the releases, took those allegations seriously at the time. It had its lawyer, Howard Weitzman, put out a letter to fans outlining the process it had been through when stitching together the various recording sessions that made up 'Michael', and the efforts it had gone to in order to ensure the authenticity of the vocals.
Still, so angry about all of this was one fan in particular, Vera Serova, that in 2014 she sued the Jackson estate, Sony Music and various other people involved with the release of the record.
As that case made its way through the courts, there was a brief flurry of excitement in 2018 when some people believed that a lawyer working for Sony and the estate had admitted that the songs were in fact fakes.
It was during an appeal hearing that a defence lawyer made some kind of "if the vocals were faked" statement in order to present an argument for dismissal of the lawsuit on First Amendment and anti-SLAPP grounds. That was then reported as the Jackson side conceding that the vocals on 'Breaking News', 'Monster' and 'Keep Your Head Up' were definitely super faked.
The lawyer repping both Sony and the estate in the case, Zia Modabber, then issued a statement denying that any such claim had been made, stating: "No one has conceded that Michael Jackson did not sing on the songs. The hearing … was about whether the First Amendment protects Sony Music and the estate and there has been no ruling on the issue of whose voice is on the recordings".
The appeals judges hearing all those First Amendment and anti-SLAPP arguments subsequently sided with Sony and the estate, removing both as defendants. Among the various reasons given for that decision, the judges said that Serova's claim that a singer called Jason Malachi had actually sung on the songs was a matter of opinion rather than fact.
Weitzman said at the time that that ruling constituted "a total victory" for the Jackson side. Although, of course, it offered no conclusive ruling on whether or not the songs were the real deal or not. The decision to remove Sony and the estate was upheld in a further appeal in 2020, but still without a conclusion to the main claim. What's left of the case is now with the California Supreme Court.
And so the debate has continued. Continued and continued and continued. So much so, that more than a decade after the allegedly faked songs were released, it's apparently still the only thing that both dedicated and casual Michael Jackson fans can talk or think about. Or so that new statement from the estate suggests.
As a result, 'Michael' has now gone from being a ten track to a seven track album. Whether or not this will put the whole thing to bed remains to be seen. But, fingers crossed, everyone now realises that Jackson recorded some other stuff during his lifetime.