|FRIDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Various music industry organisations and a plethora of artists yesterday paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following the news that the British monarch had died, aged 96. The Queen's death also resulted in the last minute postponement of last night's Mercury Prize... [READ MORE]|
Music community pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen's passing was formally announced at around 6.30pm with a statement reading: "The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow".
The King and the Queen Consort refers, of course, to Prince Charles - now King Charles III - and his wife Camilla. He said in a statement: "The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family. We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother".
"I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth", he added, "and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was so widely held".
Among the music industry organisations to issue a statement about the Queen's death was cross-sector trade group UK Music, which stated: "We are deeply saddened at the news of the Queen's death. Putting public service above all else, she was a role model to millions across the world. Our thoughts are with the Royal Family and all those whose lives she touched over many years. May she rest in peace".
The CEO of record label trade group BPI, Geoff Taylor, said: "We share in our nation's grief and mourning at the passing of Her Majesty The Queen. Our thoughts are with her family. From the music sector we give heartfelt thanks for a lifetime of selfless duty and public service".
Meanwhile, the Musicians' Union said: "The MU is saddened by the news of the death of the Queen and joins the country in paying its respects. Her passing is a significant and sad event". The union's General Secretary, Naomi Pohl, added: "The Queen has been a constant figure throughout many crises, recessions and of course the recent pandemic and she has seen many governments come and go".
"Countless musicians have performed for her over the years", she went on, "from military bands to the Royal Variety Performances and her jubilee events. And who can forget [Brian May] performing on the roof of Buckingham Palace? She's met high profile musicians, music industry figures and engaged with people from all walks of life, and we pay our respects".
The audience for this year's Mercury Prize awards ceremony had already arrived at London's Hammersmith Apollo when the Queen's death was announced. Shortly afterwards organisers canceled the event and asked attendees to leave the venue.
Given the mixed opinions within the British population regarding how individuals and society at large should respond to the passing of a monarch in the 21st Century, there was a little bit of criticism regarding that decision on social media, with people noting that some other concerts and sporting events were going ahead as planned. Though proceeding with a big televised award ceremony would likely have resulted in a much bigger backlash.
Plus, of course, the event's media partner, the BBC, wouldn't have been able to broadcast it. Coverage was planned on BBC Four and BBC 6 Music. However, as soon as the Queen's death was announced, all of the BBC's radio stations switched to a single broadcast about her death, while the BBC's TV channels were either broadcasting similar coverage from BBC News or were off the air entirely.
Confirming that the awards show would not go ahead, organisers of the Mercury Prize said: "Tonight's Mercury Prize event has been postponed at this time of great national sorrow. We know everyone involved in the Mercury Prize will understand. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Royal Family at this very difficult time. We will make an announcement regarding future arrangements as soon as we are able".
Among the artists paying tribute to the Queen on social media were Elton John, who stated: "Along with the rest of the nation, I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's passing. She was an inspiring presence to be around and led the country through some of our greatest and darkest moments with grace, decency and a genuine caring warmth. Queen Elizabeth has been a huge part of my life from childhood to this day, and I will miss her dearly".
Mick Jagger said in a statement: "For my whole life Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has always been there. In my childhood I can recall watching her wedding highlights on TV. I remember her as a beautiful young lady, to the much beloved grandmother of the nation. My deepest sympathies are with the Royal Family".
In a longer post, Annie Lennox wrote: "I just found out that HRH The Queen has peacefully passed away. One of my early memories from the late 50s is standing on the roadside among a crowd of people waving little Union Jack flags as we waited for the royal car to drive by".
"The Queen had arrived to open a new bridge on the outskirts of Aberdeen", she added. "It all felt very grand and festive, with everyone hoping to catch a glimpse of Her Majesty. Tremendous excitement and expectation was in the air. Suddenly the grandest Rolls Royce limousine appeared and I remember the glimpse of a gloved royal hand waving behind the window. Then it was all over in a flash and the Queen had gone".
"A monarch's life is lived with two distinct sides", she then observed. "One is as an outwards facing public figure and representative of their country, and the other is as a human being and private person. There is a difference between the two. Queen Elizabeth came from a time in history when there was still a modicum of separation between them. Gradually over time the world changed, and the outside world via the media had more 'access' to the 'private' world than ever before".
"I think she did an incredible job of staying on course throughout the extraordinary events of her reign and her lifetime", she concluded. "Whether you happen to be pro or anti monarchy, there's no question that she totally performed her duties par excellence right up to a few days before her passing. I doubt that anyone can compare to her. Britain has lost one of it's most outstanding monarchs, the like of which I doubt will ever be seen again. RIP Queen Elizabeth".
Greensleeves settles with Chris Brown over alleged song theft
In a lawsuit filed with the courts in New York in July 2021, Greensleeves said that 'Privacy' lifted a line from 1997 dancehall track 'Tight Up Skirt', which was recorded by Red Rat. "In creating the infringing work", the lawsuit stated, "[Brown] took the core musical feature of 'Tight Up Skirt' and used it prominently in the infringing work without permission".
As for what that "core musical feature" was, the lawsuit went on: "'Tight Up Skirt' and the infringing work share a similar primary identifying feature. In both songs, this is a melody containing the lyrics 'hey your girl inna di tight upskirt' and 'hey you girl without a tight upskirt', respectively".
"This similar melody begins each chorus section in both songs", it added. "This shared structural placement is significant and adds to the prominence of the similar melody in both songs".
That both tracks shared that element had been noted many times prior to the lawsuit being filed, though Red Rat himself - who wasn't involved in the lawsuit - seemed pretty relaxed about it all.
He told the Jamaica Observer in 2017: "Chris Brown, who is one of the biggest pop stars globally, feeling the need to sample a piece of 'Tight Up Skirt', only shows how much he loves and respects Red Rat and [the] catalogue. It also shows how much of a fan he is to the music".
Meanwhile, when the original track's producer, Andrew Bradford, was asked about Greensleeves lawsuit, he questioned whether the publisher even controlled the rights in the earlier song.
Traditionally in the Jamaican music industry, the country's studio producers also basically acted as the labels signing up the rights in the music they produced. Although they did then often license those rights to the likes of VP Records and Greensleeves, which ultimately merged.
Which is how Greensleeves would have ended up publishing 'Tight Up Skirt'. Although Bradford said that he was going to check his old contracts to see if it still had the rights. Because, had Greensleeves got the $1.5 million or more in damages it was pushing for in its lawsuit, then presumably Bradford - and Red Rat too - would have liked to share in that cash.
For their part, Brown's legal reps argued that the elements shared by 'Privacy' and 'Tight Up Skirt' were not protected by copyright in isolation, because they were short and commonplace, and that - anyway - Brown's use of those elements constituted fair use under US copyright law.
We'll never know if those arguments would have stood up in court, because - according to Dancehallmag - the two sides in the dispute sent a letter to the court earlier this week telling the judge that they "have reached a settlement in principle, which fully resolves the matter".
Specifics of that settlement are not known. Neither party in the lawsuit - nor Red Rat or Bradford - have as yet commented on the deal.
Now the film producers sue AT&T and Verizon over allegedly slack copyright policies
Although it was music companies that really got things going in terms to targeting ISPs over their copyright infringing customers, with BMG and then the majors successfully going after Cox Communications, this consortium of independent film-makers has been particularly prolific when it comes to filing lawsuits of this kind, against various ISPs and other internet firms.
Of course, technically US copyright law provides a safe harbour for internet companies stopping them from being liable for their customers' infringement. However, to qualify for that safe harbour, a net firm must have systems in place to deal with infringing content on its networks and repeat infringers among its customer base.
In the Cox case, BMG and the majors demonstrated that the ISP only paid lip service to its policies regarding infringing content and customers, and therefore it lost safe harbour protection and was held liable for all the infringement on its networks. To the tune of a billion dollars in the major labels' case.
Subsequent lawsuits against other ISPs and internet companies, filed by both the majors and these film producers, have all argued that the targeted companies, just like Cox, do not do enough to combat infringement and infringers and therefore do not qualify for safe harbour protection.
Given most of the targeted companies do have some sort of anti-infringement systems in place, the plaintiffs need to explain why those systems are inadequate.
The targeting of AT&T and Verizon in the latest lawsuits is interesting because they, unlike the net firms previously sued, took part in the Copyright Alert System, a programme run in the 2010s by the music and movie industries and five US ISPs that aimed to combat online piracy.
Although that programme was ultimately only active for about four years and arguably didn't achieve much in terms of stopping infringement online, presumably both AT&T and Verizon will argue that their involvement in the scheme proves that they take their responsibilities regarding dealing with infringement and infringers on their networks seriously. And certainly more seriously than Cox and some of the other net firms that have been sued in recent years.
With AT&T, the film producers claim that - although in theory the ISP operates a system for dealing with repeat infringers - when their anti-piracy agent sent copyright notices in relation to certain customers who seemingly regularly infringed copyright, no action was taken.
Their lawsuit states: "For example, AT&T failed to terminate the account of its subscriber at IP address 188.8.131.52 even after AT&T received multiple notices of copyright infringement at this address. AT&T received at least 1000 notices of copyright infringement for this IP address".
A similar complaint is made in the lawsuit against Verizon. The film producers say that their anti-piracy agent has logged hundreds of thousands of pirated movies being shared across the ISP's networks, and adds that over 90,000 copyright notices were sent to the net firm, and yet - the producers allege - no real action was taken against the infringers.
And, in some cases, the infringement notices weren't even forwarded to the customers who were allegedly infringing copyright. And not only that, but the producers have various issues with Verizon's system for even receiving the copyright notices.
With all that in mind, the producers say, the ISPs should be held liable for copyright infringement. They are seeking damages, and demanding ramped up repeat infringer policies from the ISPs plus - as with some of their other lawsuits - for the defendants to commit to block access to some piracy sites.
We await with interest to see the responses from both net firms.
Music industry reacts to UK's new energy cost plans
Energy prices have soared in recent months, of course, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, and Russia's limiting of gas supplies, playing a big role in that. While the UK relies less on Russian gas than other European countries, the crisis has pushed up wholesale energy prices across the world.
Under the new plan, UK households will see the price that energy suppliers can charge per unit capped for the next two years, so that consumers will pay an average of £2500 per year. That policy reverses a previously announced rise in the energy price cap that was set to see the average bill rise from £1971 to £3549 on 1 Oct.
The cap will also be extended to businesses for the first time, although initially only for six months. Once the initial six month period is up, the government says that it will "provide ongoing, focused support for vulnerable industries", with the first review of where this support should be directed due in three months.
Responding to the news, the MVT's Venue Support Manager, Clara Cullen, said yesterday: "The financial impact of the energy price rises on the grassroots music venue sector presents an existential challenge. For a sector with a total gross turnover of £399 million, the current rise equates to an additional £90 million in costs".
"The policy announced today only goes some way in alleviating the challenge, in the very short-term, by creating an energy price cap for businesses that will be in place for an initial six months", she continued. "The government has committed to reviewing this policy in conjunction with the hospitality sector. Music Venue Trust will contribute to this review to ensure the perspective of grassroots music venues are included in this decision-making process".
"As the policy announced today is only a temporary short-term measure, Music Venue Trust urges the government to take further action to ensure a long-term solution for energy provision for grassroots music venues providing an energy supply which is affordable, reliable and sustainable", she concluded. "We need this action to take place as soon as possible to protect, secure and improve our grassroots music venues".
More damning of the new measures, NTIA CEO Michael Kill said: "We are extremely disappointed at the announcement by the Prime Minister today, this half measure package is tantamount to support experienced during the pandemic, but lacks considerable detail to alleviate current business concerns".
"We have no time for drip fed support, or to await the impact assessment of incremental measures, this needs to be a concise and immediately accessible package, which is proportionate and scalable", he added.
"As the first major announcement of the Prime Minister and Chancellor's tenure", he went on, "the government has failed businesses today, and with mounting debt across the sector we will see many have no choice but to consider the future, placing thousands of jobs at risk in the coming weeks, without additional support".
With no previous price cap on their energy bills, live music and hospitality businesses, as well as recording studios, reported that they were facing price rises of between 300% and 700%, threatening many with closure as they were unable to bear these increased costs.
Whether these new measures will be enough to keep the lights on (literally) through the winter remains to be seen.
Ticketmaster defends dynamic pricing after Springsteen ticket price outrage goes political
That system - which sets ticket prices based on market demand - came very much into the spotlight recently because of its use for a Bruce Springsteen tour, which resulted in some tickets reportedly selling for as much as $5000 each.
Congress member Bill Pascrell, a long-term Ticketmaster critic who also represents Springsteen's home state of New Jersey, last month wrote to Live Nation boss Michael Rapino stating: "I write on behalf of my constituents and fans across the country that are excited for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band's 2023 tour".
"Hard-working Americans who are fans of Bruce and other popular entertainers should have the ability to enjoy live entertainment without ticket-sales practices that rip off consumers", he added. "To help fans better understand the frustratingly opaque process that leads to such high prices, I am inquiring about ... the policies and prices the company has put in place for this tour".
In a lengthy statement published by Celebrity Access, Ticketmaster explains the rationale behind and workings of its dynamic pricing system. Basically it's a response to the secondary ticketing market, it says, where demand influences the ticket price, but any resulting increase in price goes to the tout rather than the artist and their team.
"As the resale ticketing market has grown to more than a $10 billion dollar industry over the past few years", the ticketing giant states, "artists and teams have lost that revenue to resellers who have no investment in the event going well or any of the people working behind the scenes to bring the event to life. As such, event organisers have looked to market-based pricing to recapture that lost revenue".
"This is an important shift necessary to maintaining the vibrancy and creativity of the live music industry as artists and their crews become more and more reliant on touring", it goes on. "Like sports teams, artist representatives and promoters recognise the benefit of pricing tickets closer to market value".
It then stresses that promoters and artists decide how they want to sell their tickets and, if they decide on dynamic pricing, Ticketmaster just enables that. And it's also for the promoters to decide how that dynamic pricing works, in terms of what the any price range parameters should be.
"The biggest factor that drives pricing is supply and demand", it then explains. "When there are far more people who want to attend an event than there are tickets available, prices go up. If prices are under market value at the on-sale, they resell on the secondary market at higher price points".
"Similar to airlines and hotels", it then adds, "ticket prices adjust up or down based on demand. Event organisers work with promoters to set pricing on all tickets, including dynamic and fixed price tickets".
Ticketmaster also insists that, while the best seats at shows might go for much higher prices because of things like dynamic ticket pricing, overall "concerts remain an affordable entertainment option".
It goes on: "Demand for the best seats in the house has driven the average price for concert tickets up 10% globally this year, which remains largely in line with the rate of US inflation. The average price for entry level concert tickets is $33, up only 5% from 2019, not even keeping pace with inflation".
So, there you go. Dynamic ticket pricing isn't really ripping off the fans at large and just means that any market demand uplift on the hottest tickets goes to the artist rather than the touts. Who could object to any of that? Pascrell probably. We await to see if he's placated by this statement. But given his past Ticketmaster criticisms, probably not.
You can see Ticketmaster's full statement - including some stats about those Springsteen tickets - on Celebrity Access here.
FBI releases its files on Aretha Franklin
The files were unsealed as the result of a Freedom Of Information request that journalist Jenn Dize filed all the way back in 2018. Having finally got access to that information, earlier this week she provided highlights of what she had received on Twitter.
Among other things, the FBI documents allege that Franklin was set to take part in a "huge memorial concert" for King after his assassination in 1968, which, the government agency recorded, "would provide emotional spark which could ignite racial disturbance this area". In the end, the concert did not take place.
The files also show that the FBI investigated potential links between Franklin and other groups, including the Black Panthers, the Boston branch of the Young Workers Liberation League, and the Black Liberation Army, which the files describe as a "quasi-military group composed of small guerrilla units employing the tactics of urban guerrilla warfare against the established order with a view toward achieving revolutionary change in America".
Although concentrating largely on the 60s and 70s, including records of death threats against the singer, there are later entries into the file, including discussion of a copyright infringement claim relating to the sale of bootlegged concert recordings from a Yahoo! Groups message board in 2005. The files show that Franklin's lawyers asked the FBI to locate the message board's moderator in order for them to potentially launch legal action.
You can see the full 270 page file here.
The release of the FBI files on Aretha Franklin comes shortly after Micky Dolenz of The Monkees announced that he is suing the agency to gain access to its files on his band.
Dolly Parton has recorded a new version of her 1980 single '9 to 5' with Kelly Clarkson. Just in case you ever wanted to know what Dolly Parton would sound like autotuned.
Roddy Ricch has released new single 'Ghetto Superstar', featuring G Herbo and Doe Boy.
Tom Odell will release new album 'Best Day Of My Life' on 28 Oct. "One year ago, almost exactly to the day, I set myself the challenge to write and record an entire album using only my voice and my piano with absolutely nothing else", he says. "I found myself digging deeper than I ever have before both with my words and piano playing. I am so proud of the way this record has turned out and I really cannot wait for you all to hear it". Here's new single 'Smiling All The Way Back Home'.
Phoenix will release new album 'Alpha Zulu' on 4 Nov. The band have shared new single 'Tonight', featuring Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig.
Alter Bridge have released new single 'Sin After Sin'. New album 'Pawns & Kings' is out on 14 Oct.
Lamb Of God have released new single 'Grayscale', taken from their new album 'Omens', which is out on 7 Oct. "'Grayscale' has just a smack you in the face, bit of hardcore feel to it", says guitarist Willie Adler. "We had basically finished writing the record and I wrote this song thinking it won't necessarily be a Lamb song. I sent it to Josh Wilbur, our producer, to check out and he responded with 'Perfect, this is the last song we need for the record!'"
The Big Pink have released new single 'Safe And Sound'. "I moved to LA to find my record and I found it, but at a price", says frontman Robbie Furze of the inspiration for the song. "I was chased by every temptation known to mankind. I was promised love. I was promised wealth. I was promised the world. Drugs, women, stardom, all the cliches hounding me and biting at my heels. I got caught up in it. I was strung out and I got lost. I can now put my hands up and admit that. For a while I lost my wife. I lost my family and friends and mostly, I lost my mind".
Former Murderdolls frontman Wednesday 13 has released 'Insides Out', the latest single from his upcoming new album 'Horrifier', which is out on 7 Oct.
Darkthrone will release new album 'Astral Fortress' on 28 Oct. Here's Fenriz with an update.
Fucked Up have released new single 'Oberon'. The band's new EP of the same name is out on 7 Oct.
Nosaj Thing has released new single 'We Are', featuring Hyukoh. His new album, 'Continua', is out on 28 Oct.
Pan-European indie label organisation IMPALA has awarded its Norwegian trade body member FONO its Outstanding Contribution Award. "FONO's contribution to IMPALA and the independent sector across Europe is phenomenal", says IMPALA's Executive Chair Helen Smith. Launched in 1980, FONO was Europe's first independent label trade association.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
TaP Music to select UK's Eurovision entry again
"We are THRILLED that Ben Mawson and Ed Millett plus the team at TaP will once again bring their unrivalled expertise to work with the BBC and BBC Studios to find an act and song to represent the UK at Eurovision", says BBC Commissioning Editor Rachel Ashdown.
"I hope we can find another artist who will not only be a brilliant ambassador for Eurovision but, like Sam, will sing their head off with a stand out song", she adds.
Ryder, of course, came second in this year's competition with his song 'Space Man', behind Ukraine's 'Stefania' by Kalush Orchestra. Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the winning country therefore being unable to host the next contest as is the custom, the 2023 event will be held in the UK.
Also commenting on the continued partnership from the TaP Music side are bosses Mawson and Millett, who say in a joint statement: "TaP are very excited to be back working with the BBC to select the UK entry for Eurovision 2023. Last year we wanted to change the narrative around the UK and Eurovision to something much more positive".
"We focussed on what Eurovision is all about - we found an brilliant artist, an unforgettable song and an incredible person in Sam Ryder - we're so proud of his fantastic success, coming second in the competition and then achieving a number one single", they go on.
"2022 will be a hard act to follow but we're more than ready for the challenge", they reckon. "Eurovision being held in the UK for 2023 is such an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of British musical talent. Our search starts here!"
The host city for the 2023 contest is set to be announced by the BBC and Eurovision organiser the European Broadcasting Union in the autumn, with Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield all on the shortlist.