|TUESDAY 12 JULY 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Record industry trade group BPI has confirmed that web-blocking in the UK is extending to mobile internet networks, beginning with the BT-owned EE network. It means that web-blocks that previously only applied on fixed line broadband networks will start to also apply when users access sites via a mobile internet connection... [READ MORE]|
Web-blocking in the UK is now extending to mobile internet, starting with EE
Web-blocking has become a preferred anti-piracy tactic of the music industry in those countries where it's available. Although specifics vary from country to country, usually copyright owners secure a court order instructing internet service providers to stop their customers from accessing websites that exist primarily to facilitate copyright infringement.
It was the movie industry that secured the first ever web-blocking injunction in the UK back in 2011 - in doing so demonstrating that such court orders were available under UK copyright law - but since then the music industry has been pretty prolific in securing additional web-blocks.
Indeed, the BPI confirmed this morning that the various injunctions it has secured over the last ten years have together ordered the UK's biggest broadband providers - so that's BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media - to block over 70 copyright infringing websites and apps, and thousands of other domains linked to those sites.
Although best known as a mobile operator, EE also provides a fixed line broadband service which already has web-blocks in place stemming from those 70+ court orders, which cover all the BT-owned broadband services, so EE and Plusnet as well as the main BT service. However, EE has now also agreed to extend the web-blocks to its mobile network which, the BPI says, "represents the first time since website blocking began in 2011 that a mobile operator has begun blocking the sites".
The move is important because, of course, a significant amount of online entertainment is now accessed via mobile internet connections. The BPI's General Counsel, Kiaron Whitehead, notes: "There are now more mobile subscriptions than people in the UK and we want those fans to enjoy genuine music sites and be protected from illegal sites as much as they already are on their broadband and wi-fi".
"Mobile data connections are faster and more reliable than ever", he adds, "and a quarter of people now connect to the internet over 3G, 4G and 5G rather than broadband and wi-fi. That growth brings with it the risk of increased music piracy".
"The operators of these pirate sites make millions of pounds a year without a penny going to the creators of the music they exploit", he continues. "We are therefore pleased that EE - which was the first mobile network to launch 5G to the UK population - has now become the first mobile network to block pirate sites which are subject to our High Court blocking orders under section 97A of the Copyright, Designs And Patents Act 1988".
The web-blocks will also apply on BT's other mobile services - BT Mobile and Plusnet Mobile - both of which are actually powered by the EE network. As for the other mobile networks in the UK - so Vodafone, Three and what is now Virgin Media O2 - the music industry obviously hopes that they can be persuaded to follow EE's lead in this domain in due course.
BMI files legal arguments against a combined radio royalty rate court hearing with ASCAP
The Radio Music License Committee - which reps the US commercial radio sector in music licensing matters - last month filed a motion with a court in New York seeking an unprecedented combined rate court hearing that would involve both BMI and ASCAP.
To have access to the full songs repertoire, radio stations in the US need to secure licences from at least four collecting societies which all represent the performing rights of their respective members, those being BMI and ASCAP - the big two - and smaller societies SESAC and GMR.
The big two are regulated via so called consent decrees, which are basically agreements with the US Department Of Justice to overcome the competition law concerns created by collective licensing. Each of those consent decrees sets out a process for when users of music can't agree a royalty rate with the society, that process resulting in rate court proceedings.
Until recently, one judge always oversaw BMI rate court proceedings, and another judge always oversaw ASCAP rate court proceedings. However, the 2018 Music Modernization Act - which made a number of reforms to US copyright law - introduced a new system under with one of a team of judges is randomly assigned to each new rate court dispute.
The RMLC is now trying to use that change to the system to get a single hearing to consider what royalty rates it should pay to both BMI and ASCAP. However, the music community fears that such a combined hearing would simply pit BMI against ASCAP, ultimately pushing the overall rates paid into the music industry down.
For example, because there are multiple collecting societies representing the performing rights of songwriters in the US, one element of the negotiations between the societies and licensees is market share. Basically, where a licensee has a revenue share arrangement with the music industry, what percentage of revenue is allocated to each society is usually influenced by the society's share of the market.
Quite how market share should be calculated often proves to be controversial. And with a combined rate court hearing, rather than the argument over market share being between a licensee and a society, that argument could end up being between BMI and ASCAP.
Both societies quickly criticised the RMLC's bid for a combined hearing. And now BMI has presented the legal arguments for why such a combined hearing is not allowed under the rules of its consent decree.
In its legal filing from last week, BMI reviews how the current rate-setting provisions in its consent decree were introduced in the 1990s. When those provisions were agreed, it says, a key condition on BMI's side was that "the decree require that all BMI rate proceedings be entirely separate from any rate proceedings for ASCAP, and that any judges, magistrates and special masters overseeing ASCAP's rate proceedings would be different than judges, magistrates and special masters overseeing BMI's rate proceedings".
Neither the US government nor users of music objected to that condition, the society adds, and as such it was "incorporated in article thirteen of the consent decree". Not only that, but "contemporaneous filings show that every commenting party, including the RMLC, understood BMI's condition for submitting itself to rate court to be the separation of rate courts for BMI and ASCAP".
BMI's filing then anticipates arguments from the RMLC to the effect that the MMA changed that system. But not so, reckons BMI. "The MMA did not change the terms of the decree", the society counters. "It simply modified the administrative assignment procedures for rate cases by randomising the selection of separate judges for BMI and ASCAP rate proceedings".
"Nothing in the MMA suggests that it overrides the consent decree's requirement that rate court proceedings for BMI and ASCAP be separate", it goes on. "To the contrary, in setting out the new process for the assignment of judges to preside over rate determination proceedings, the MMA expressly prohibits proceedings from being assigned to a judge who is already overseeing a rate court case, or who has jurisdiction over either the BMI or ASCAP consent decrees, thus preserving, rather than eliminating, the separateness of the BMI and ASCAP rate proceedings".
With all that in mind, "BMI seeks a ruling that the consent decree should be interpreted consistent with its language, as plainly written and as understood by the parties and the court at the time of the rate court provision's adoption. BMI and ASCAP rate-setting proceedings must be separate; they cannot be before the same judge in separate proceedings; and they certainly cannot be consolidated in a single proceeding before the same judge".
We await to see how the court now responds.
Universal expands partnership with Thai label Hype Train Group
Anyway, this deal. What's it all about? Well, while Universal was already Hype Train's distributor, this expanded partnership will create "a springboard for Thai artists to export their creativity to music lovers around the world", with Universal "providing global reach to help introduce Hype Train artists and music to audiences worldwide", while Hype Train will bring "its proven ability to sign artists and create hits for its target audience, domestically and within the region".
Says Hype Train's CEO Krerg Chankwang, who is also a leading hip hop producer in the country: "Partnering with Universal Music Group over the past two years has been a great success, and now that the label is home to thirteen artists, it's time for further growth. This is an important milestone to elevate the collaboration with Universal Music beyond being just a distribution partner, into a broader partnership deal that will benefit the entire Thai music community and beyond".
Meanwhile, Universal Music South East Asia CEO Calvin Wong adds: "Nino is the most exciting and successful music producer to come out from Thailand in the last five years, and we can't wait to help his artists to reach the next level - not only within Thailand, but the rest of Asia, as well as globally. The roster of acts he has built is amazing and we look forward to further success in this partnership".
Particular success stories artists wise at Hype Train include Seedaa The Villain and Sprite, the latter of whom signed to the label after appearing on the Thai version of the hip hop centric talent show 'Show Me The Money'.
Ultra Music Publishing formally launches new Liverpool studio set-up
The new studio facility is based within the Camp And Furnace complex in Liverpool's Baltic Triangle district. Ultra says that it will "serve songwriters and musicians" signed to both the publishing company and its sister labels Helix and Payday Records, and also provide "a hub for new talent discovery and development in the north of England".
Adds the company's Founder and CEO Patrick Moxey: "Liverpool has always been home to a vibrant and groundbreaking club culture and has produced some of the world's most influential songwriters and musicians. This makes it the perfect place for us to launch our first studio in the north of England, an area that is still under-served when it comes to facilities of this kind".
"We have already experienced an amazing vibe across the Liverpool music community who are excited to get involved with what we're doing", he goes on, "and we hope to tap into that creative energy and talent. Our recent writing camp, which helped launched the studio, saw writers from across the UK come together, was hugely successful and is something we will definitely repeat on a regular basis".
While the Ultra dance music label was fully acquired by Sony Music - with which it had a long business partnership - at the start of the year, the Ultra music publishing company remains independent, and announced an alliance with Warner Chappell in March.
Warner Music is also working with the other Moxey founded labels, the new dance music centric Helix and the long-established hip hop operation Payday Records.
Disney announces Hybe deal that will bring three BTS shows to its streaming service
But don't worry, of the three programmes that will come out of the partnership, two will mainly delve into the archives, and the third only involves one member of the group, that being V. So this big Disney partnership shouldn't interfere too much with the hiatus BTS definitely aren't currently on, but which they are definitely currently on.
Members of the K-pop powerhouse were pretty candid during a recent streamed conversation, of course, and during that chat also revealed that they would be pausing their activities for the time being, something that initially got translated as the group going on a 'hiatus' in the English subtitles.
However, given that 'hiatus' is usually boyband code for splitting up, the company behind BTS - Hybe - was keen to stress that this was definitely not a hiatus, but admitted that group members would be prioritising solo projects in the near future.
It is Hybe that has actually entered into this deal with Disney, with the South Korean entertainment firm set to produce five shows for Disney's global streaming service, of which three involve BTS.
That includes a concert film recorded at one of the group's 'Permission To Dance On Stage' shows in LA last year, and a documentary series telling the BTS story to date, which might include some new footage but will also heavily delve into the group's archives.
The third programme is an already teased new series of the existing BTS reality show 'In The Soop', although in this series only V will appear from BTS, with him then joined by a number of other South Korean actors and musicians on a seaside holiday.
"We are THRILLED to be collaborating with Hybe to showcase their original content created with powerful artist IP on our global streaming services including Disney+", says Jessica Kam-Engle, Disney's APAC Head Of Content.
"This collaboration represents our creative ambition", she goes on, "to work with iconic content creators and top stars in Asia Pacific so their talent can be enjoyed by mainstream audiences in multiple ways. We believe these new titles will captivate consumers worldwide and look forward to introducing more music content on our service".
Adds Hybe boss Park Ji-won: "This will be the start of a long-term collaboration, where we present worldwide audiences a wide range of Hybe content for fans who love our music and artists. The Walt Disney Company has a long history of franchise building and promoting musical artists, with its unparalleled brands and platforms".
Amy Winehouse biopic moving forward with Sam Taylor-Johnson directing
According to Deadline, the film, titled 'Back To Black', has been written by Matt Greenhalgh - who previously worked with Taylor-Johnson on 'Nowhere Boy' and also wrote Ian Curtis biopic 'Control'. Produced by Studiocanal, it also has the support of the Amy Winehouse estate.
Talk of an Amy Winehouse biopic is not new, of course. Plans for a biopic starring Noomi Rapace and directed by Kristen Sheridan were announced in 2015, but never came to light.
The estate then signed a deal approving another biopic in 2018, with a script penned by 'Kinky Boots' writer Geoff Deane and scheduled to begin filming the following year. That version of the project ultimately did not go ahead either, but Variety reports that with Taylor-Johnson on board things are now moving quickly and casting has already begun.
Prior to this, the previous Winehouse-focussed cinematic release was Asif Kapadia's 2015 documentary 'Amy'.
The Winehouse family was highly critical of the documentary prior to its release, calling it "misleading" and "unbalanced". Mitch Winehouse was particularly angry about his portrayal in the film, and also that the singer's ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil was allowed to appear.
Bimini has signed a new record deal with Relentless Records, reports Music Week. "Signing with Relentless is a dream come true", says the drag queen. "It's amazing because they understand my vision and want to achieve it with me, and I feel like we can take over the world together. I'm excited for what the future will hold".
Australian live firm TEG has appointed Luke Bould as Chief Commercial Officer. "I am delighted to join TEG, a great Australian success story that has become one of the world's top integrated live entertainment businesses", he says. "It is an exciting time for TEG, with enormous growth opportunities, so I am looking forward to leading the commercial development of the business".
Rico Nasty has released new single 'Skullflower', ahead of her new album 'Las Ruinas', which is out next week.
The Mountain Goats have released new single 'Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome', taken from their upcoming new album 'Bleed Out', which is out on 19 Aug. "When I write an album that revolves around a theme, it usually takes two or three songs before I notice what's going on", says frontman John Darnielle. "There's always one song that becomes the 'might as well dive all the way in' song, and on 'Bleed Out' that song was 'Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome', written while watching a French action movie way past my normal bedtime".
The debut mixtape from Pussy Riot, 'Matriarchy Now', is set for release on 5 Aug. Accompanying the announcement is new single 'Plastic', featuring ILoveMakkonen.
GIGS & TOURS
The Snuts have announced UK tour dates in October this year, including a show at Koko in London. The band's new album, 'Burn The Empire', is out on 7 Oct.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Nicki Minaj meet and greet cancelled after waiting crowd gets out of control
Following her appearance at the Wireless Festival at the weekend, Minaj was due to hold the meet and greet session at Cafe Koko in Camden at midday yesterday.
Initially, despite large numbers of people turning up hoping to gain entry, things appeared relatively calm. However, by the time she eventually arrived just before 6pm, a sizeable crowd had gathered to get a glimpse of the star. Indeed, video footage that she shared on Instagram shows hundreds of fans chasing her car down the street.
Attempts to control the throng proved unsuccessful, despite Minaj's best efforts. Possibly because her best efforts mainly seem to be a tweet asking people to line up in single file. "Guys, if you don't get in a contained space they won't let me get out the car", she wrote. "Please don't run in the streets. Please get in one place. One line".
In the end, police issued a section 35 dispersal order - something enabled by the 2014 Antisocial Behaviour Act - which permits a police officer to order someone to leave an area for up to 48 hours. Although it was seemingly Koko management who ultimately made the decision to cancel the event.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: "Police were contacted by venue staff beforehand concerned about significant crowding outside. Further police resources had to be deployed to keep public order and close roads. In the interests of safety the event managers took the decision that the event would not go ahead. Members of the public are advised not to travel to the area".
This is not the only issue caused by Minaj's mediocre timekeeping that has arisen during her brief trip to the UK. At Wireless, she was only able to perform half of her headline set after arriving on stage half an hour late. The performance was then beset with various technical difficulties and several breaks, before reaching the event's strict 9.30pm curfew.