|TUESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK gets a new Prime Minister today following Liz Truss's victory in the Conservative Party leadership election. She takes over a country that political scientists would most likely classify as "well and truly fucked". And - as she takes office and scans down the 'Fucking Hell, Look At This Fucking Mess, Fuck Me, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck’ list, which her officials have presumably already complied - the music industry is hoping that the various challenges it faces will be on there somewhere... [READ MORE]|
UK music industry urges new Prime Minister Liz Truss to urgently address the energy price crisis
A number of music industry organisations put out statements following the confirmation of Truss's win in the leadership election yesterday. They basically echoed previous statements issued by those organisations in recent weeks, highlighting that surging energy prices and the cost of living crisis mean that many of the music companies that just about survived the COVID shutdowns - venues, clubs and studios in particular - are in real risk of permanent closure in the months, weeks or even days ahead.
The big question, of course, is whether Truss and her incoming team are capable of addressing the multifarious economic and other challenges the UK, its citizens and its businesses currently face. Yes, the UK has finally got rid of the bullshitting bucket of ineptitude and corruption that created the current shit storm, the truly odious 'Boris' Johnson. But is the alliance of bullshitters and idiots that propped him up for so long capable of addressing that still intensifying shit storm?
We will see, I guess. Of course, lobbyists and campaigners from every sector and community group will have plenty of proposals for at least how to mitigate the impact of the current economic crisis. Noting that Truss employed Tory Campaign Cliche Number One during her leadership campaign - "tax cuts for everyone!" - UK Music yesterday honed in on one its current demands in particular, the restoration of the VAT cut for events and hospitality that was in place during the COVID pandemic.
UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said in a statement: "Congratulations to Liz Truss. We look forward to working with the new Prime Minister and her ministerial team at what is an immensely challenging time for the country. During the campaign, Liz Truss rightly talked about the need to tackle the crippling cost of living – and she must now deliver on that commitment immediately. Without urgent action to help music venues, studios and other music businesses, there is a real risk that many will go to the wall".
"Rocketing costs have created an existential threat for many music businesses and it's vital the government acts swiftly to protect the recovery that was under way in the music industry after the pandemic", he went on. "Music venues alone have seen their fuel costs spiral by more than 300%, according to the Music Venue Trust. The government should make a significant cut to VAT from its current 20% rate to 5% - just as it did during the pandemic - and throw a lifeline to music businesses and help them through this crisis".
"Without urgent support", he added "there is a real chance that the billions spent keeping businesses and venues afloat during the pandemic will be wasted and that would be a tragedy. We risk losing cherished venues, studios and other music companies forever. That would be a devastating blow and cause irreparable damage to the talent pipeline that ensures the UK produces global music stars".
"We all experienced the huge void there was without live music during the pandemic when venues were shut for months", he concluded. "Without swift help for venues, studios and music companies struggling with soaring fuel bills, we risk losing them forever - and along with them a key part of the cultural fabric of our lives".
The trade group for the UK live sector, LIVE, is also calling for the COVID-era VAT rate for events and hospitality to be restored. It also wants COVID-style grants to help businesses in severe hardship, a business rates holiday for all hospitality premises with no caps applied, measures to help businesses reduce their energy usage, the reinstatement of the UK tax authority's Time To Pay scheme, and the reintroduction of a trade credit insurance scheme for energy.
LIVE CEO Jon Collins said: "The triple threat of a cost of living crisis, the post-pandemic hangover and skyrocketing energy prices could spell the end of the UK's live music scene as we know it. Millions of people have just enjoyed a spectacular summer of live music, but this is now under threat. We face cuts to programming, venue closures and an unbearable strain on an already fragile industry. Government must act to protect this world-leading and uniquely British endeavour before it is too late".
Meanwhile, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said in his statement: "We would like to congratulate Liz Truss on becoming the new Prime Minister, and look forward to continuing the relationship with the government under the new administration".
"It would be hard to disguise the frustration and anxiety experienced across the industry, as we have had to patiently watch the leadership campaigns play out over the last four weeks", he went on. "It is now vital that the new Prime Minister takes this opportunity to be decisive in tackling the cost inflation crisis, over the coming days, by reducing VAT across the board, extending business rates relief and implementing an energy cap for small medium enterprise businesses".
"Over the coming weeks without an effective intervention from the government", he concluded, "we will see thousands of businesses go to the wall and millions of jobs lost".
As soon as Truss has decided which bullshitters and idiots from the top of the Tory Party to appoint to her new cabinet (the idiots generally have the edge over the bullshitters at the moment), the new PM is expected to make a number of announcements about the energy price crisis in particular, hoping for some easy wins in her first few days in office.
It remains to be seen if those measures help the music companies that are back on the brink right now. And also whether incoming ministers, including the new Culture Secretary, are any more willing to engage with the music and night-time sectors on these issues than the hodge podge of halfwits and hustlers that made up the Bullshitter In Chief's final government. Good luck everybody!
Apple settles with the Harold Arlen estate in dispute over unlicensed downloads
It was originally the estate of Arlen - who wrote 'Over The Rainbow', 'I've Got The World On A String' and 'Get Happy', among many other famous works - that went legal on this issue, with the other estates subsequently joining in. At one point there was litigation targeting Amazon, Microsoft and Google as well, but those disputes were settled along the way.
The lawsuits actually centred on the song rights controlled by the estates. The mechanical copying of songs is usually covered by a compulsory licence in the US. However, that compulsory licence only applies if the recording being sold has been properly licensed.
If the sale of the recording actually infringes copyright, then the compulsory licence does not apply, meaning the copyright in the song is being infringed too.
And while, with downloads in the US, it is usually the responsibility of labels to sort out the licensing of the song rights, download stores are nevertheless involved in the infringement.
There was quite a lot of legal back and forth as these disputes went through the motions, with lawsuits being dismissed and then re-filed. At one point it looked like the Apple litigation was going to proceed to a full court hearing before a jury, with the judge overseeing the case seemingly unsure whether he should grant any of the summary judgements that the two sides had requested.
But then in March this year said judge did issue a summary judgement on one key point, which was whether or not any alleged infringement on Apple's part was 'wilful'. This is always important in US copyright cases, because if a copyright owner can show that infringement was wilful, then the damages they can claim are much higher. However, the judge ruled that, even if Apple was liable for infringement, it wasn't wilful infringement.
The terms of the settlement now reached between Apple and the estates are not known. But, according to Reuters, all parties informed the court last week that a deal had been done and, therefore, this particular digital music dispute is at an end.
ECSA says new GEMA study puts spotlight back on digital pie debate
The GEMA study - undertaken by Goldmedia - reviews how the Spotify-style streaming business works and how digital income is shared out across the music community, with 50-55% of revenues flowing to the recording rights, shared between artists and labels, and 10-15% to the song rights, shared between songwriters and publishers. Researchers also interviewed a team of experts on the German streaming market and surveyed more than 4000 GEMA members.
Among ten key findings were that, on average, "music creators, ie musicians and [songwriters] together, receive about 22% of the net revenues. The share of music creators is thus significantly below the revenue share of the streaming services (30%) and the labels (42%)".
And also, that "current mechanisms of the streaming economy tend to strengthen the position of older, commercially successful catalogue titles. Newcomers and musical niches are left with a correspondingly lower share of revenues".
Beyond the digital pie debate, it added: "Playlists and music recommendations based on algorithms have a considerable impact on the reach and the commercial success in the streaming market. However, the underlying criteria [of these algorithms] are perceived as non-transparent by music creators".
For ECSA, the GEMA study is important for again putting the spotlight on the ongoing debate over whether a higher portion of streaming income should be allocated to the song rights, with either the recording rights or the streaming services getting less as a result.
Responding to the study, it said: "This research analysis further demonstrates that composers and songwriters, who are at the source of all music, are the fifth wheel on the wagon for revenue distribution, with less than 10% of the revenues generated by streaming".
"Our Alliance and its members have denounced for a long time the extremely low level of remuneration from music streaming", it added, "largely explained by the conflicts of interests between the recording and publishing arms within the main music majors".
That particular explanation has been widely discussed within the songwriter community. Basically, because with record deals the label commonly gets the bigger cut of the money, but with publishing deals the songwriter does, for the major music companies it is beneficial if more income flows through the recordings side of the business rather than the publishing side.
The majors strongly deny that their record labels put pressure on their publishing divisions to accept a lower rate from streaming, and the recent market study by the UK's Competition & Markets Authority concluded that there was no evidence of that happening. However, suspicions remain.
And ECSA said yesterday: "The music industry and policy makers must look at the majors' dominance in the streaming market, and act now to strengthen the value of songs, evaluate and reform the per stream revenues model and put transparency at the cornerstone of those discussions. There is no more time to lose to engage on this key debate about nothing else than the future of music".
Meanwhile, ECSA President Helienne Lindvall said: "The music industry is like an inverted pyramid, where the song is at the bottom. The whole industry - including record companies, music streaming platforms and touring businesses - is reliant on and wouldn't even exist without great songs. They are the fuel and the engine that keeps the whole industry running, yet those who create those songs receive the smallest share of the revenue those songs generate".
"This study", she added, "puts this reality into context, confirming that the current state of affairs is unsustainable if we want a thriving and diverse music scene for the future. We urge legislators to listen to us songwriters and composers, and work with us to create a fairer more prosperous industry".
BBC 1Xtra Live is cancelled
The first edition of BBC 1Xtra's annual event since before the pandemic, this year's 1Xtra Live was also due to celebrate the radio station's recent 20th birthday. Announcing the 2022 show last month, Faron McKenzie - Head Of BBC Radio 1Xtra - said: "With BBC 1Xtra turning 20 this year, this 1Xtra Live is going to go all the way off! We're going to bring new and emerging talent together with the hottest UK artists and best international acts for the biggest birthday bash of the year!"
But, alas, no. "Due to some significant changes over the past few weeks, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year's 1Xtra Live, which was due to be held on 15 Oct in London", yesterday's statement read. "A combination of changes to artists' schedules and increasing financial costs means that we are not able to put on the event to the standard we expect from ourselves and more importantly, to the standard our audience expects from us".
It then concluded: "We are working hard to deliver something special for later in the year, which we'll announce soon".
Glen Matlock joins Blondie for new album
Unlike the band's last album - 2017's 'Pollinator', which saw Blondie collaborating with artists including Sia, Charli XCX, Dave Sitek and Johnny Marr - Matlock will seemingly be the only guest this time around.
Guitarist Chris Stein tells Classic Pop: "Glen has just been great. Unlike 'Pollinator', we're mostly keeping this album in-house: it's just the band and Glen playing on it. He's fitted right in".
No release date or title has yet been announced for the new album.
As well as Foxx, Stein also sat out the band's tour dates earlier this year, due to heart issues. He was replaced on stage by KMFDM's Andee Blacksugar, but has seemingly been well enough to play in the studio.
Sam Ryder to play National Album Day launch show
I'm not sure that's really in the spirit of a day that celebrates the art of the album. Everyone should be at home listening to albums, right? Though I guess the gig is not actually happening on the big day itself, so maybe it's alright.
And there is an album connection with the show, so that's probably enough to swing it. Because the event will see the Eurovision runner-up preview songs from his upcoming debut album, 'There's Nothing But Space, Man!', with proceeds from ticket sales going to War Child.
"With my debut LP out in November, I couldn't be more THRILLED to launch National Album Day with this exclusive concert to celebrate the journey of creating an album", he says. "I'll be performing brand new songs and some special favourites, and in the process we hope to raise much-needed funds for War Child and for children affected by conflict, not least in Ukraine. Can't wait to see you there and sing our heads off".
Even the process of getting tickets to this gig has an album connection, so I'm now fully reassured this has been properly thought out. To get access to a ticket pre-sale your need to pre-order Ryder's album before midnight on Wednesday. The pre-sale will then begin on Thursday morning, before tickets go on general sale at 9am on Friday.
The show will take place on 26 Sep, while National Album Day itself is set for 15 Oct. The original plan was that Ryder's debut album would be released on 14 Oct, allowing for it to be among the albums you play on the grand old day. However, that release has now been pushed back to 18 Nov. But hey, you'll still have the gig to remember, and it's really all about the live experience isn't it? No, of course not, it's all about the albums! You really need to pay more attention.
Dice has been named ticketing partner for Manchester's New Century venue. "We're delighted to be working with Dice", says the venue's Ruth Hemmingfield. "Like us, their aim is to deliver the best experience for fans; it's easy to use and a great way to keep a track of your favourite artists and venues".
Adem Holness has been named as the new Head Of Contemporary Music at London's Southbank Centre. He joins from Arts Council England. "I am beyond THRILLED to be joining the team at the Southbank Centre", he says. "As a Londoner, the Southbank Centre has always felt like our hub for groundbreaking music and creativity. So I feel deeply honoured to have the opportunity to help it continue to create space for contemporary music that reflects our city, country and international family".
Music marketing agency Blackstar has hired Rob Elton as Head of Social & Digital, as well as promoting Breyner Baptista to Head Of Campaign Marketing, Danielle Barnes to Head Of Creative, Evey Ong to Campaign Manager Lead, Rae Levine to Social Manager Lead and Holly Glanvill to Senior Social Manager Global Lead. "The journey we've been on since we launched in 2018 has been incredibly rewarding", says founder Olivia Hobbs. "The evolution of our services and the development of a diverse and talented team, whose focus on quality and creativity is unwavering, are at the heart of what makes us successful".
Giggs has released new single 'Da Maximum'.
Tove Styrke has released new single 'Another Broken Heart'. "A friend of mine got dumped and that was when I wrote it", she says of the song. "I love the dramatic strings together with this beat. It feels both naive and grand at the same time, which I think really suits the song".
Marika Takeuchi has released new single 'Beyond'. The track is taken from her new album 'Dreamer In The Dark', which is out on 30 Sep. "This is a very personal album I made during my pregnancy", she says. "It's music for sleep and relaxation, the reflection of many changes that happened to my life in recent years, and finding peace in the difficult world we live in now".
GIGS & TOURS
Loyle Carner has announced UK and Ireland tour dates in February and March next year, winding up at Wembley Arena in London on 16 Mar. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Hudson Mohawke responds to surge in Cbat listening following Reddit sex playlist story
In the post, user TylerLife writes: "When I first started having sex I researched into ways to be better as I was a little stiff and pretty much had no idea what I was doing. I read online that you can play music and match the rhythm in order to put on a better performance. I searched love making songs and started slowly creating a playlist in which I was comfortable matching the rhythm".
His favourite track on that playlist, it seems, is 'Cbat' - from Hudson Mohawke's 2011 EP 'Satin Panthers' - which, he insists, is "a good love making song with good rhythm". But his girlfriend of two years has finally revealed how much she hates that track.
"I don't understand why it has taken her two years to tell me she hates that song", he muses. And while conceding that maybe he should have asked her how she felt about his sex playlist at some point previously, he adds: "To leave it for two years, [me] thinking our sex life is great but in her eyes [it] has just been ruined by my music, has left the whole situation feeling awkward and I'm a bit annoyed".
He continues: "It's fucked up the relationship [to be honest] because sex feels awkward now. The other day we were having sex with no music but I was still thrusting to the tune playing in my head. She recognised this and asked me to stop".
Given how long TylerLife has been playing 'Cbat' while having sex, he also wonders what his previous girlfriends reckoned to its inclusion on his sex playlist.
"They never complained about the song so maybe it's just [my current girlfriend]?", he ponders. Though the internet seems pretty certain they too thought it was, at the very least, a weird musical choice for that particular moment, but they were just too polite to say so.
So there you go. The Reddit admission has sparked a flurry of videos on TikTok employing a snippet of the track because, well, of course it has. And it's also sparked a spike in the streaming and downloading of the song.
Hudson Mohawke himself has been documenting those TikTok videos and listening spikes on his social media. But, while he'll obviously benefit financially from all this new interest in 'Cbat', he also has a new album to sell called 'Cry Sugar'.
With that in mind, his Twitter bio now reads: "'Cry Sugar' is better for sex".