|WEDNESDAY 27 JULY 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Organisations from across the music industry yesterday responded to the news that the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority is not planning on launching a full investigation into the music streaming market. Those representing record labels, music publishers and the streaming services generally welcomed that decision, while those speaking for artists, musicians, songwriters and managers were less impressed... [READ MORE]|
Mixed response from music industry to CMA's decision on streaming investigation
The CMA instigated a market study into music streaming last year following the UK Parliament's inquiry into the economics of streaming. As the UK's competition regulator, the CMA was tasked with considering whether the major music rights companies being so dominant in both songs and recordings, or having such a small number of digital companies dominating music streaming, or any of the practices of those companies, posed competition law concerns.
Among other things, the regulator was looking into the allegation that the majors being dominant in both songs and recordings has resulted in more streaming money flowing to the latter than the former, because generally the majors get to keep a bigger share of recordings income. As for the dominance of the streaming services, concern has been raised regarding their power to push music at people via their often mysterious algorithms and playlisting operations.
If the CMA felt its market study raised legitimate competition law concerns, the regulator could have instigated a full-on investigation into the sector, which would have been much more rigorous, and could have ultimately intervened in the market place in some way. However, in an update on its market study yesterday, the CMA said it was not inclined to launch any such investigation.
Generally the record labels, music publishers and streaming services were opposed to a big old investigation being launched. They would mainly argue that, when it comes to consumers accessing music, basically music fans have never had it so good. And while, for the music community, it's as challenging as ever to pursue a career as a music-maker, artists and songwriters have much more choice today when it comes to choosing business partners like labels and publishers, with lots of new kinds of deals available that are much more favourable to the music-makers.
However, while artists, writers and managers would agree with much of that, they'd also counter that there are a number of issues with the way music streaming currently works, at least some of which are the result of certain big players in the market being so dominant. Plus, while new artists might have more choice in choosing their business partners, those artists still stuck in old life-of-copyright deals from the pre-digital age have no choice at all when it comes to who exploits their work.
Reps for the artist, writer and management communities had various criticisms of the CMA's decision yesterday. Some argued that the regulator had focused much more on the marketplace of music fans seeking to access music, rather than the marketplace of music-makers seeking to access services from the music industry, and most of the issues are in the latter domain.
Others reckoned that the stats-filled report that the CMA published alongside its preliminary decision actually proved their criticisms regarding the dominance of the majors and the big streaming services, and the impact that has on how music is licensed to services and recommended to users. And, as a result, it's perplexing as well as disappointing that the CMA isn't inclined to go the full investigation route.
All that said, the CMA's market study was just one of the initiatives launched in the wake of the parliamentary inquiry into streaming, with the UK's Intellectual Property Office also currently running research into and discussions around fair remuneration, transparency and data.
And the CMA's update did acknowledge some of the issues that have been raised by music-makers - especially around transparency - but seemed to conclude that these were not competition law issues, and therefore should be dealt with by the IPO's work, not a CMA investigation.
The IPO's work is very much ongoing, and may well be further informed by the lengthy report the CMA published yesterday. Plus, the CMA's study is still ongoing too, with further consultation due to take place before any final decisions are made.
Which means that - while many in the artist, writer and management communities were disappointed by the CMA's announcement yesterday - their trade groups were keen to stress that they remain optimistic many of the issues raised about streaming can still be addressed.
And now, here are lots of people commenting on the CMA's announcement - starting with the positive reactions, and then moving onto the critics. And finishing off with Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis, who has been particularly vocal about the impact of the dominance of the majors on the song royalty rate. There's a special prize if you read them all.
Geoff Taylor, CEO of record label trade group BPI: "We welcome the CMA's preliminary findings, which have concluded that the streaming market is competitive, providing artists with more ways to release their music, and fans with more choice and value than ever before".
"We and our many and varied record label members are focused on investing in British artists, building their global fanbases, and sustaining the continued success of British music. We will continue to engage with the CMA and government to help ensure that the streaming market works to the benefit of artists, songwriters, record companies and fans".
Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Association Of Independent Music: "We welcome the CMA's update report which reinforces what we know - that building success in music is hard - and underlines the need for organisations across music to work together to secure positive outcomes for the sector. Ultimately, AIM's community of creative entrepreneurs want to be assured they are fighting a fair fight, and we will continue to work across industry and government to help ensure UK music remains world-leading".
Paul Clements, CEO of the Music Publishers Association: "MPA welcomes the CMA interim report on the music streaming market, affirming that the common purpose of all music publishers is to champion songwriters and composers. We are a community; focused on transparency and always achieving more for our creators".
ERA, which represents the streaming services: "ERA welcomes the update paper [from the] CMA on its market study into music and streaming. The report vindicates ERA's view that the investment and innovation of music streaming platforms has been overwhelmingly positive for consumers as well as for the music industry. Thanks to streaming services, consumers have greater access to a greater variety of music than ever before and an array of price and service propositions".
"Meanwhile, for the recorded music industry, streaming services have rescued a sector that had been shrinking rapidly due to piracy and have delivered over £5 billion of new revenue in the UK alone. Recent forecasts from Goldman Sachs and the consultancy MIDIA suggest that UK streaming revenues will grow by a further 70%-100% by 2030 with the vast majority of that digital dividend flowing to the music industry".
"ERA and its members will continue to assist the CMA in its enquiries ahead of the publication of its final report in January 2023. Meanwhile, ERA welcomes the progress which has already been made in the parallel process initiated by the Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Intellectual Property Office and pledges its commitment to do what it can to improve transparency, data standards and data quality to speed the flow of money to artists and songwriters".
Kim Bayley, CEO of ERA: "The transformation and return to health of the music industry through streaming is an incredible success story, driven by the innovation and investment of streaming platforms. We need to continue to build on that success and ensure that the market works for everyone involved".
Annabella Coldrick and David Martin, CEOs of the Music Managers Forum and the Featured Artists Coalition: "By their own admission, this initial report from the CMA is primarily focussed on consumers. In that context, we agree that streaming has been hugely positive. The recorded market is booming, and music fans have never had such choice and access to music".
"But when it comes to the impact on artists, songwriters and the creator community, the findings do not represent reality, particularly in the context of record label profits, which are seeing double digit year-on-year growth. Many of the more complex and contentious issues raised by our members - for instance, around contractual reforms, disparity in negotiating power or the 'blank cheque' advances paid to major labels as part of licensing negotiations - are simply not referenced at all".
"On the face of it, the CMA report is disappointing for music-makers. However, all of these issues remain the subject of intense discussion at the Intellectual Property Office, with a stated commitment to legislate if the industry cannot agree to market reform. It is ultimately this process that will deliver the most tangible results for artists, songwriters and music creators, and the FAC and MMF will be placing full focus on achieving a fairer deal for our members either via these IPO workstreams or through legislative intervention".
Naomi Pohl, General Secretary at the Musicians' Union: "It is disappointing that the competition issues we see in the music streaming market, which impact on our members' earning capacity, will not be explored fully in a CMA investigation. The CMA's release today highlights what it sees as positive impacts of music streaming, but we feel they have failed to recognise the very serious problems posed to creators".
"In the long term, this could diminish the diversity of British music available to consumers as musicians are forced to seek other ways to make a living. We had particularly hoped that the CMA would deliver for songwriters who are currently receiving a small share of streaming revenue. Our fight to 'fix streaming' will continue, and we are still pushing for legislative reform to guarantee fair payments for our members".
The Incorporated Society Of Musicians: "We are disappointed that the CMA has today acknowledged that the streaming market is not working as well as it could do, yet is not minded to open a full market investigation. Today's announcement fails to recognise the power imbalance that exists in the industry between larger labels, streaming services and smaller artists which if left unaddressed has the potential to stifle the innovation and development the sector needs for its sustainability. The ISM will continue to call for fair remuneration from streaming for all artists".
Tom Gray, founder of the #BrokenRecord campaign and Chair of The Ivors Academy: "Without doubt, the CMA's decision not to launch a full market investigation is disappointing for songwriters and composers and fails to address the urgent need to fully and properly value the song within streaming".
"While there have been positive steps to address historic contracts and explore user-centric models, much more needs to be done to put music creators at the heart of music, so they are properly rewarded for their work. It's a long road to fair and equal treatment and we are committed to working with music creators, the Intellectual Property Office and partners to achieve this".
Hipgnosis Founder and CEO Merck Mercuriadis: "We would like to thank the CMA for acknowledging in its report today the lack of transparency in the music streaming market, and for highlighting the continued dominance of the market by the major labels and recorded music, along with the severely adverse impact this is having on songwriters' ability to earn a living".
"However, with 70% of all those responding to the CMA consultation calling for reform, it is regrettable that the CMA is not minded to investigate and address the clear failures its study identified. The DCMS select committee in its July 2021 report on the economics of music streaming … called for the CMA to address the economic impact of the music majors' dominance. Today the CMA has not acted to address the impact on the creative songwriting community, and this is a missed opportunity to follow up on those concerns raised by MPs on the DCMS select committee".
"It is a disappointment for songwriters who earn pitiful returns from streaming, not because there is not enough to go round, but simply because it is not being shared fairly and equitably. Hipgnosis will continue to call for fundamental reform of a broken system which does not recognise the paramount role of the songwriter in the music ecosystem".
"We have always believed that the ultimate solution lies within the music industry itself and we will continue to advocate on behalf of songwriters with the major recorded music companies to push for a fair and equitable split. There would be no recorded music industry without songwriters".
"Legislative and government authorities have the power to redress the economic imbalance where major recorded music companies that own and control the major publishing companies are purposefully undervaluing the songwriter's contribution. The IPO has a key role to play in redressing the imbalance and we will continue to support its work and efforts".
"Hipgnosis will continue to campaign for change at the highest levels, using our success to advocate and fight on behalf of the songwriting community and to take the songwriter from the bottom of the economic equation to the top".
Well done, you read them all! What's the prize that was promised? Well, now you get to read the CMA's 97 page report! Will the fun never end?
Ex-R Kelly manager pleads guilty to intimidating victim of singer
Russell was accused of threatening to publish sexually explicit images of the unnamed woman, via messages sent to both her and her mother, if she did not drop claims she had made about Kelly.
The musician, of course, was convicted in a New York court last year of establishing and running a criminal enterprise in order to sexually and physically abuse women and teenagers. He has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The campaign of harassment began in November 2018, when Russell sent a letter to the woman's lawyer, purporting to be written by Kelly himself, featuring two cropped nude images of her and warning that he would be "publishing soon".
In January 2019, he began sending text messages to the woman and her mother, warning them to "pull the plug or you will be exposed". Screenshots of the text exchanges and photos were posted to a Facebook page apparently set up by Russell at around the same time. Then, in January 2020, he showed the images during a live interview on YouTube.
In a statement following Russell's guilty plea, US Attorney Breon Peace said: "[Russell used] threats, harassment and intimidation in a deliberate effort to silence one of R Kelly's victims and prevent her voice from being heard. When his initial effort failed, he continued his vile campaign by sending threatening messages to Jane Doe and her mother, and publishing explicit photos of the victim on the internet before and after Kelly was indicted".
"As this prosecution makes clear, the defendant's conduct was not only reprehensible, but it was also criminal and will not be tolerated", he concluded.
This is not Russell's only conviction in relation to his defence of Kelly. Last week, he was found guilty of calling in a false gun threat to a New York cinema that was preparing to screen the documentary 'Surviving R Kelly' in 2018. That threat resulted in the event being called off.
Sam Smith and Normani hit back against Dancing With A Stranger song-theft lawsuit
They were both sued earlier this year over the allegations they'd ripped off that earlier work, which was written in 2015 by artist Jordan Vincent and producer Christopher Miranda.
On top of having nearly the same title and a very similar accompanying promo video to the earlier song, the lawsuit claimed, Smith and Normani's 'Dancing With A Stranger' had the same "hook, chorus, lyrics, and musical composition" to that written by Vincent and Miranda.
"It is beyond any real doubt that Smith, Normani and the other defendants copied plaintiff's work", the lawsuit claimed. "The protected expression in both the infringing song and plaintiff's pre-existing work is nearly identical and is strikingly similar".
But not so, say Smith and Normani's lawyers in a new court filing this week. Yes the two songs have similar titles, but they are not identical, and anyway song titles aren't protected by copyright.
And as for the actual music, the new filing argues, the plaintiff's own expert report - which is being used to back up that "beyond any real doubt" claim - actually admits that there are plenty of differences between the two songs.
"Even as transcribed by plaintiff's expert, only the first and sixth notes are the same", the Smith/Normani side say. "Given that an uninterrupted sequence of four notes is not protected by copyright, two non-contiguous notes cannot be protected".
Not only that, but "rather than supporting the complaint's allegation of 'nearly identical melody'", the report "acknowledges the melodies are different and instead claims similarity in 'melodic contour' and rhythm. However, melodic contour, or the shape of a melody, is too abstract to protect by copyright, and the claimed similar rhythm is largely repeated eighth notes, which also is not protected".
"Remarkably", they go on, "the report confirms the chord progressions in 'Dancing With A Stranger' and the plaintiff's song are different, but argues that 'rotation of the chords' - that is, changing them - can make them 'almost identical'. In any event, finding similarity in the chord progressions by changing them does no good because chord progressions also are not protected".
As is customary in song-theft lawsuits of this kind, the plaintiff's original filing also speculated as to how the Smith/Normani team might have been exposed to the earlier song, while also noting the similarities between the videos that accompanied the two tracks. But the Smith/Normani response isn't impressed with any of that either.
"Aside from the complaint's hyperbole - negated by its attached report - as to supposedly identical music", it states, "plaintiff spends much of the complaint speculating as to how the creators of 'Dancing With A Stranger' might have learned of plaintiff's song. Plaintiff even claims support in that both songs' music videos include a woman dancing alone, even though that has been seen in countless music videos before plaintiff's song".
The new legal filing also takes issue with what the original lawsuit says regarding the kinds of copyright infringement the defendants might be liable for and what damages might be due. With all that in mind, the new filing concludes: "Plaintiff's complaint suffers from multiple defects that should be resolved at the pleading stage and before an answer is required".
We await to see if the judge agrees.
Reservoir acquires music rights of ex-Guns N Roses drummer Matt Sorum
"I am very pleased to enter into this relationship with Reservoir", says Sorum. "It is gratifying to know how much the Reservoir team appreciates my work. I am honoured to have been in bands that have been such an important part of rock and roll history with catalogues that have stood the test of time".
"I want to thank the entire Reservoir team for helping to make it happen, particularly [COO] Rell Lafargue and [SVP Finance and Investments] Jonathan Sturges", he goes on. "I also want to thank my attorney Marvin Katz who represented me in the transaction, as well as fellow drummer and former Atlantic Records President Jerry Greenberg. I am excited about what the future holds as I continue creating new music with Reservoir".
Following his namecheck there, Lafargue adds: "Matt is one of the most accomplished and celebrated drummers in rock and roll history. He has contributed to some of the all-time best rock songs that will continue to reach and inspire audiences for generations. It is an honour to be bringing his timeless catalogue to Reservoir and continue deepening its value".
As well as GNR, Sorum has also worked with Velvet Revolver and Slash's Snakepit, among others. He has also released two solo albums.
PPL announces new tariff for discos and DJ sets in pubs, clubs, cafes and hotels
The agreement relates to what PPL calls the Specially Featured Entertainment tariff, which covers, and I quote, "the public use of sound recordings as 'specially featured entertainment' save where the public performances are specifically covered by another of PPL's tariffs - examples of SFE include discos, dances and DJ sets/presentations".
PPL first began reviewing this particular tariff a few years back, reckoning that the existing system undervalued the contribution its members' music made to the events that the licence covered.
It also felt that current system didn't treat licensees fairly because the fees didn't really take into account how many people attended any one event, plus there was uncertainty regarding how attendee numbers were even reported.
Seeking to address all that, PPL proposed new rates and rules in 2019. But in June that year, the BBPA and UKHospitality - as trade bodies representing many of the customers of this licence - referred the proposed new rates to the copyright tribunal, which is the special UK court that deals with disputes relating to collecting society managed licences.
The tribunal process was then delayed because of the pesky COVID-19 pandemic. During that time PPL continued to negotiate with the BBPA and UKHospitality, reaching a compromise on both the new tariff and a timeline for introducing it. As a result, the copyright tribunal case has been withdrawn.
Among the changes made with the new tariff, fees will now increase in direct proportion to the size of the audience attending any one event, plus there is now a clear policy for reporting how many people attended.
The tariff also applies if recordings are streamed into a venue, as well as when they are actually played on site. The new rates and rules will be introduced in a staggered way from next year, so that the new tariff won't be fully phased in until 2030.
Commenting on the agreed new tariff, the BBPA and UKHospitality said in a joint statement yesterday: "We are pleased to have reached agreement with PPL on this new tariff and hope it will end uncertainty around costs for music licensing. The new rates are significantly lower than originally proposed and bring to end an expensive tribunal process".
"At a time where our pubs, bars and nightclubs are under immense financial pressure it is a shame fees have increased", they added, "but we welcome the longevity of the new structure and hope they will provide clarity in the longer-term for our members looking to play music in their venues".
Lollapalooza announces new edition in India
No venue for the festival has yet been announced, although promoters have said that it will take place in central Mumbai. Around 45 acts will play across four stages over two days, with just over half the line-up international acts, and the rest made up of local artists.
"The music of India is transcendental, it draws our spirits east", says festival founder Perry Farrell. "Lollapalooza is an instrument for unity, peace, and education utilising the universal languages of music and art to find common ground. You may be excited, and we are equally as excited!"
Charlie Walker of co-promoter C3 Presents, which is owned by Live Nation, adds: "Lollapalooza has always been about exploring boundaries, musically and geographically. We are excited to introduce Indian and Asian fans to an entirely new festival experience that has been a significant rite of passage for millions of music fans around the world for more than three decades".
Lollapalooza India is set to take place on 28-29 Jan 2023. Early bird tickets will go on sale on 1 Aug for 7000 rupees (about £73). You can register for access here.
Sony Music Publishing has signed singer-songwriter Em Beihold to a worldwide publishing deal. "I'm so happy to be a part of the Sony Music Publishing family", she says. "So many of my favourite artists who inspired me to start writing in the first place, like Regina Spektor and Sara Bareilles, are with them so it was a natural decision. Songwriting is the core of my artistry and I'm so grateful to call Sony Music Publishing home".
Warner Records in the US has promoted Miles Gersh to VP A&R. He was previously Director Of A&R. "Miles has only been in the business for four years, and he's quickly become one of its newest A&R stars", says CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck. "He's already delivered big for our Warner Records family, and I know there's plenty more to come in the years ahead. I'm excited to announce this well-deserved promotion".
US recording rights collecting society SoundExchange has promoted Luis Bonilla to Chief Technology Officer. "I'm THRILLED to begin my next chapter with SoundExchange to build upon our best-in-class solutions and find new ways to leverage technology to support creators", he says. "Ensuring creators get paid is at the heart of what we do, and I'm looking forward to working with the dedicated technology team here to advance this mission".
NME Networks has named Benedict Ransley as Head Of Marketing. Returning to NME after five years at STX Entertainment, he will take up the new role on 1 Sep. "I'm THRILLED to be joining NME Networks as Head Of Marketing", he says. "My focus is clear: forge unrivalled connections with global audiences; create meaningful experiences and authentic collaborations with market-leading partners; and push the boundaries of what NME Networks can offer to ensure our brands are daily destinations for millions of people around the world".
Alex G Has released new single 'Cross The Sea'. New album 'God Save The Animals' is out on 23 Sep, and he has confirmed UK tour dates for March next year, finishing up at the Roundhouse in London on 23 Mar.
Drying Cleaning have released 'Anna Calls From The Arctic', the second single from new album 'Don't Press Me', which is out on 21 Oct. "The lyrics were partly inspired by phone calls with a friend who was living and working in the Arctic", say the band. "The song developed from a keyboard, bass and clarinet jam. This then took shape during our pre-recording sessions with John Parish and Joe Jones in Bristol and finalised at Rockfield studios a month later, with some musical inspiration coming from the dramatic scores of John Barry. The song is observational and sensual".
With new mini-album 'Was It Ever Real?' out on 19 Aug, The Soft Pink Truth - aka Matmos' Drew Daniel - has now announced that new full-length LP 'Is It Going To Get Any Deeper Than This?' will follow on 19 Oct. "Years ago a friend was DJing in a club and a woman came into the DJ booth and asked 'is it going to get any deeper than this?' and the phrase became a kind of mantra for us", he says. "What did she really want? This album was created as an attempt to imagine possible musical responses to her question". One of those answers is contained in new single 'Wanna Know', which features Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner.
With the Mercury shortlist out, Popjustice has announced the contenders for its Twenty Quid Music Prize. Harry Styles is the only name that appears on both lists. Artists up against him for the coveted pop single award include Ed Sheeran & Elton John, Charli XCX, Rina Swayama, Jamie XX and Rachel Chinouriri.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Absolute Radio to launch pirate station
The one-day-only pop-up station will take over Bauer's Absolute Radio 60s for one day next month, with shows fronted by the likes of Tony Blackburn and Johnnie Walker. There will also be archive shows from late pirates like Kenny Everett and Tommy Vance.
"Modern radio wouldn't exist without these titans of broadcasting who introduced British audiences to the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin", says Absolute Radio Content Director Paul Sylvester. "We're proud to pay tribute in a typically unique Absolute Radio way, disrupting the airwaves with an incredible soundtrack, legendary voices, compelling archive and the recreation of vintage news bulletins and ad breaks".
Executive Producer Jon Holmes adds that the pop-station will be "an amazing day celebrating the incredible pirate radio stations that, ironically, changed the audio landscape of the UK from the (air)waves of the North Sea. If you like radio, music, music radio, or people doing what they love sticking two salty fingers up to The Man, then prepare to board Absolute Radio Pirates".
Set to air on 12 Aug, the appearance of Absolute Radio Pirates will coincide with the 55th anniversary of the 1967 Marine Broadcasting Offences Act.
The UK legislation made it illegal for any British subject to assist an offshore pirate radio station - whether that be by presenting shows, advertising on them or supplying them with music. Several stations attempted to find ways to circumvent the new laws in order to carry on, but ultimately it led to the end of ship-based pirate radio within a few years.