|THURSDAY 20 OCTOBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A coalition of American consumer, artist and lobbying groups have come together to call for the US Department Of Justice to investigate and potentially unwind the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. Among the artist groups supporting the campaign are the Artist Rights Alliance and the Future Of Music Coalition... [READ MORE]|
Artist groups join call for new investigation into 2010 Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger
The 2010 merger of Live Nation - a major player in tour promotion and venue management - and Ticketmaster - the dominant ticketing platform - was controversial at the time, and has continued to be criticised by some ever since.
The merger was approved by the competition, or antitrust, division of the DoJ in the US subject to a consent decree, which regulated - to an extent - how Live Nation and Ticketmaster interacted as part of one business. At various points Live Nation has been accused of not complying with all the terms of that consent decree, an allegation the live giant denies.
However, when the DoJ investigated those allegations, it did identify a small number of incidents when Live Nation had arguably broken the rules in the consent decree. As a result, that agreement - which was originally due to expire in 2020 - was extended, in a slightly revised form, for another five years.
Despite the revision and extension of the consent decree, the live firm's critics - including consumer rights groups, some politicians in Washington, some in the artist community, and some of its competitors - have continued to be critical, calling for further DoJ investigations and action.
The latest campaign calling for such action seems to have been orchestrated by the American Economic Liberties Project, an organisation launched in 2020 which says it aims to "help translate the intellectual victories of the anti-monopoly movement into momentum towards concrete, wide-ranging policy changes that begin to address today's crisis of concentrated economic power".
It's Executive Director, Sarah Miller, states: "Ticketmaster's market power over live events is ripping off sports and music fans and undermining the vibrancy and independence of the music industry. With new leadership at the DoJ committed to enforcing the antitrust laws, our new campaign helps connect the voices of fans, artists and others in the music business who are sick and tired of being at the mercy of Ticketmaster's monopoly with enforcers who have the power to unwind it".
As part of the campaign, music fans and the music community are being urged to send a letter to the DoJ. A page set up on the Action Network platform to facilitate the letter sending states: "Live Nation/Ticketmaster owns more than 70% of the [US] primary ticketing and live event venues market. They've routinely abused this market power to screw over concert-goers, sports fans, artists, venues, and other ticket companies. It's time for the Department Of Justice to investigate their conduct and move to break them up".
"When the DoJ allowed the merger in 2010 they claimed that it would promote 'robust competition' to 'benefit consumers'", it adds. "Instead, consumers and industry professionals are facing: increased ticket prices; rip-off junk fees that can equate to 75% of a ticket's value; anticompetitive behaviour that bullies independent venues and artists; ticket prices that can change once they've been added to a customer's cart; and limitations on buying only one ticket".
"Without competition in the industry, music lovers, sports fans, and event goers are completely at the mercy of this mega-corporation", it concludes. "The Department Of Justice needs to hear from people that care about Ticketmaster's abuse".
As the campaign went live, the Future Of Music Coalition posted a lengthy Twitter thread outlining its support. It stated: "Too few companies have too much power over music, and it can impact musicians ability to reach audiences and their ability to make a sustainable living. It also harms music communities and fans".
"How did this happen?", it went on. "In part it's because federal regulators allowed too many mergers! The best scenario is to have lots of different ticketing companies, promoters, and independent venues that can be responsive to community needs, competing to be the best partners for musicians and fans, offering a range of options and models".
"Consolidation changes the nature of competition. Companies end up more focused on crunching numbers to reward investors, on what's best for the biggest partners; they become less accountable to musicians and fans. When a single firm controls the biggest companies in multiple parts of the music business, there's potential for anticompetitive harm and bullying behaviour; pressure to do business in ways that benefits the merged business".
Stressing that concerns were raised about the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger back in 2010, the FMC notes how the DoJ's solution to those concerns was the consent decree. "It might sound weird", it then explains, "but they actually sent the Assistant Attorney General to South By Southwest in 2010 to explain why they didn't block the merger!"
"They asked for musicians and venues and booking agents and managers etc to monitor for any violations of the new consent decree, so they could enforce these rules", it goes on. "At the time, we at FMC did our best to get the word out about how to help report problems to the DoJ".
But, well, "it turns out there's a few problems with asking musicians, independent venues, startup ticketing companies etc to act as unpaid cops on DoJ's behalf. Number one on the list: they're afraid of retaliation if they speak out! Also, smaller music stakeholders may not have access to enough information to know whether a violation has happened. Without expensive counsel and legal resources, it can be challenging to understand whether Ticketmaster is breaking the law".
The FMC then references the extension of the consent decree, which followed that DoJ investigation which concluded there had been some violations of the 2010 agreement. But, it says, for many, the revision and extension of the consent decree was a mere "slap on the wrist".
"That's one reason that FMC is joining allies like the American Economic Liberties Project and the Artist Rights Alliance to argue that it's time for DoJ to admit this approach has failed. It's time to unwind the merger, putting an end to any more bullying of venues and artists".
The FMC admits that unwinding the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger wouldn't solve every problem in the live sector and ticketing marketing place, but says that it feels that the DoJ needs to enforce competition law in a way that doesn't require independent musicians and music companies to constantly monitor and report on major players in their sector.
We await to see how Live Nation and Ticketmaster respond.
Cardi B takes to the stand in mixtape artwork trial
The rapper - real name Belcalis Almánzar - is fighting a lawsuit filed by Kevin Brophy. A photo of his distinctive tattoo was Photoshopped onto the cover of the 2016 mixtape, so that it appeared on the back of a man who was positioned to look like he was performing oral sex on the rapper.
Brophy says that the unauthorised use of the tattoo image means people assume it is him who appears in the photo, and - given the explicit nature of the artwork - that has resulted in him facing frequent "uncomfortable comments, questions, and ridicule from community members and family". In his lawsuit he claims that Almánzar and her team infringed his so called publicity rights.
On Tuesday, Brophy told the court that the mixtape artwork had left him "distressed" and "ashamed", and "anxious" that his two children will one day see the image. Meanwhile, his lawyer, A Barry Cappello, said that Almánzar had repeatedly ignored cease and desist demands from his client, who had requested that she stop using the image that contained his tattoo.
But in court yesterday, Almánzar argued that Brophy wasn't interested in stopping the use of the artwork, he just saw an easy pay day. According to Billboard, she said: "This is not about taking anything down - y'all have been harassing me for $5 million". And that's significantly more than she made from the mixtape, she added. Like, over 20 times more.
She also echoed comments made by her lawyer the previous day to the effect that she was not hands on involved in creating the artwork or releasing the mixtape, and also that there is no evidence that people actually connected Brophy to the image until he started talking about it.
After all, she explained, the man on to which Brophy's tattoo was Photoshopped is black and has hair. Brophy, meanwhile, is white with a shaved head. "It's not Mr Brophy", she declared, according to Law360, before adding: "It don't look like Mr Brophy".
The back and forth between Cappello and Almánzar was certainly eventful, with the judge dismissing the jury twice in order to calm things down. And at one point he threatened to declare a mistrial, telling Cappello that he'd "totally crossed the line" after he dubbed Almánzar's responses to his questions as "canned testimony".
But Cappello did ultimately complete his questioning of the rapper, meaning the case now continues.
SoundExchange welcomes court ruling in Slacker dispute
Personalised radio services like those operated by Slacker - so limited functionality streaming - can access recordings in the US via the collective licensing system because of a compulsory licence under American copyright law. SoundExchange administers that licence.
The society went legal in the Californian courts in June, although its dispute with Slacker dates back to 2017, which is the year when the personalised radio set up was acquired by live streaming company LiveXLive Media, which subsequently rebranded as LiveOne.
As it filed its lawsuit in June, SoundExchange stated: "In 2017, Slacker stopped paying statutory royalties to creators whose recordings it was using. SoundExchange has been in negotiations with Slacker since that time to resolve their outstanding balance, but Slacker has failed to meet the terms to which the parties agreed".
Last week the court sided with the society in the dispute and ordered Slacker to pay $9.7 million in unpaid royalties. It also said that Slacker and LiveOne can no longer rely on the aforementioned compulsory licence, meaning that any future use of recorded music will have to be negotiated bespoke, either with SoundExchange or individual record labels.
Welcoming that ruling, SoundExchange boss Michael Huppe says: "SoundExchange takes our role in defending fair compensation for creators seriously. Despite a prior agreement, multiple promises, and repeated negotiations, Slacker and LiveOne failed to pay properly for the music - on which the companies built their business model".
"It is regrettable that this step became necessary", he adds, "but we will not back down when it comes to protecting creators and ensuring they are well-represented and properly paid under the law. We are grateful for the court's recognition of the value proposition and this judgment in our favour".
Stefflon Don signs to BMG
"I'm excited about partnering with BMG because they trust my creativity", she says. "They have an amazing support team across the globe, and I am super excited to expand my fanbase alongside my new family at BMG."
BMG's SVP Repertoire & Marketing, Tim Reid, adds: "Stefflon Don is a unique artist who has already accomplished so much on a global scale, collaborating with some of the biggest names in music while gaining equal acclaim on her solo projects. We are incredibly excited to partner with her on the next chapter of her musical career".
Now, if you're thinking, "Stefflon Don can't possibly be only releasing her debut album now", what you're forgetting is that she's previously released two mixtapes - 'Real Ting' in 2016 and 'Secure' in 2018.
Pinterest announces music deals
It's a function Pinterest added last year. The platform already had some 'royalty-free music' that users could add to their posts. However, now that it has deals with Warner Music, on both recordings and songs, plus BMG and indie label repping Merlin, users will have access to lovely proper music that proper musicians make for proper people to properly enjoy.
The music company deals also makes the Idea Pins function more akin to the TikTok and the short form video strands on Instagram and YouTube, where being able to easily access clips of commercially released music is part of the package.
"Music plays a vital role in elevating storytelling and empowering storytellers, creators, and Pinners who inspire the world every day on Pinterest" says Malik Ducard, who is Chief Content Officer Pinterest. And yes, he did say 'Pinners' there, but I'm opting to ignore that.
"We are THRILLED to partner with Warner Music Group, Warner Chappell Music, Merlin and BMG to bring the latest music tracks to our platform and elevate the content and inspiration created on Pinterest", he adds.
Warner Music's Chief Digital Officer Oana Ruxandra adds: "The future of media will be founded on music. WMG, including our publishing partners at Warner Chappell, is incredibly excited to partner with Pinterest to help inspire their users to engage, design and imagine. Together, the creative potential for Pinterest audiences will be virtually endless".
And Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota says: "This partnership has been a truly collaborative process to visualise how Pinterest creators can make music a more integral part of their experience on the platform. We are excited to make independent music part of Pinterest's exciting feature. Merlin members are excited to see the content that emerges from it".
Classical sector risks losing talent because of outdated working practices, says PiPA
PiPA worked with researchers at Birkbeck, University Of London on the research set out in the new report, and found that 82% of those surveyed founding managing work and family commitments "moderately to extremely stressful".
Self-employed women in the sector are most impacted by working practices that skew against parents and carers, meaning that female performers frequently earn less and are twice as likely to turn down work due to caring responsibilities. As a result of these challenges, 40% of those surveyed were thinking about leaving their careers in music
Professor Almuth McDowall - who led the research team - says: "Parents and in particular self-employed women report significant career penalties in terms of access to work and earnings. Our research signposts a clear need to address outdated work practices and a culture of employers not taking responsibility for duty of care and equal opportunity".
Specific challenges raised by self-employed parents and carers in the sector include: "Lack of flexibility and scheduling; lack of affordable, flexible, ad-hoc childcare; the logistical and financial demands of touring and working away; and the need to meet inflexible demands of additional work, such as teaching, to subsidise earnings".
PiPA is now establishing a working group to design a best practice charter to address the issues the research identifies. Both Help Musicians and the Musicians Union supported the research and will be involved in that process.
Others already committed to participate in developing the charter include Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Opera House and Scottish Opera, organisations like Black Lives In Music, the Independent Society Of Musicians and SWAP'ra, and record industry collecting society PPL.
Commenting on the research, PiPA co-founder Cassie Raine says: "Long and irregular working hours, long periods away from home on tour, and a lack of flexibility are unnecessary barriers to inclusion".
"The report highlights deeply ingrained, traditional working practices that were originally designed to meet the needs of the 'stereotypical' affluent man, with a partner at home to look after the children", she goes on. "So, whilst that's not how we think today, these traditional working practices still prevail".
"We need bamboo scaffolding - strong and resilient, yet flexible - an infrastructure that is built for everyone", she concludes. "The industry needs to find better and more inclusive mechanisms to support and develop its talented workforce".
Musicians' Union General Secretary Naomi Pohl adds: "The MU fully supports PiPA's new report and its recommendations. Having children or caring responsibilities can limit career opportunities for classical musicians and the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities that disadvantage women".
"There remains a culture of silence around these issues and about the discrimination that pregnant musicians experience; this report brings light to those issues and it is our responsibility as an industry to tackle them head on", she continues.
"There is a clear need for more inclusive working practices and that includes flexible working structures that would benefit everyone. The government must also to step up and provide universal, flexible, high quality childcare that is available to all from the point at which paid maternity or parental leave ends".
She then concludes: "The MU looks forward to working with PiPA and the industry to create a sector that works for women and those who have caring responsibilities in all their diversity, to enable them to reach their full potential".
Warner Music's Atlantic Records and Andrew Watt's Gold Tooth Records have jointly signed Iggy Pop to a new record deal. "I'm the guy with no shirt who rocks", says Pop. "Andrew and Gold Tooth get that, and we made a record together the old fashioned way. The players are guys I've known since they were kids and the music will beat the shit out of you. Have a great day". The first single from that new album, 'Frenzy', will be out next week.
Perfect Havoc has signed producer and DJ PS1 as a management client. Co-founder Robert Davies says: "We are excited to welcome PS1 to our management roster, especially since we have already had success with PS1 via our label. His single 'Fake Friends' was an instant hit, which initially came via our website demo submission page. It's so important that young producers know that demo submission opportunities exist; PS1 is a great example of what it can lead to".
SoundCloud's VP Music Intelligence Hazel Savage has joined Tuned Global as a non-executive board member. "I am very excited and honoured to join the Tuned Global board", she says. "That they would select its first independent director as a female tech founder shows this business's forward-thinking. I've always had a great working relationship with the Tuned Global team, and I can't wait to bring what I've learnt throughout my career to the business as it enters its expansion phase into new markets and the launch of meaningful services in the metaverse".
Live Nation Concerts in the US has hired Geni Lincoln as its new President for the California region. She was previously the General Manager of the Kia Forum venue in Inglewood, California. "I am very excited to return to Live Nation and join the stellar California team", she says. "I have been fortunate enough to have worked with some of the best teams in the business and look forward to continuing growing those relationships in this role at Live Nation".
Michael Knox has been promoted to President of Peermusic Nashville. "In the twelve years that he has been with Peermusic, Michael Knox has distinctively guided our Nashville office song by song, hit by hit, resulting in major impact for our roster of songwriters", says Peermusic COO Kathy Spanberger. "Knox is delivering career-making opportunities for our writers".
Bauer Media has hired Rachel Mallender as Content Director for Magic Radio. It has also added Scala Radio to the remit of Jazz FM Content Director Nick Pitts. "Rachel and Nick will bring loads of ideas to develop these famous stations into amazing modern brands, with a variety of content for audiences whenever and wherever they want it", says Bauer's Chief Content & Music Officer Ben Cooper. "Both Rachel and Nick will be looking to build on our fantastic relationships within the music industry by developing new opportunities for artists to reach our audiences across these stations".
Ellie Goulding has announced that she will release new album 'Higher Than Heaven' on 3 Feb, and has also released new single 'Let It Die'.
Kelela has released new single 'Happy Ending'.
Biig Piig has released new single 'This Is What They Meant'. Her debut mixtape, 'Bubblegum', will be out on 20 Jan.
The National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner have teamed up with their sister Jessica Dessner and Rebekka Karijord for new band Complete Mountain Almanac. They will release their eponymous debut album on 27 Jan. Here's new single 'May'.
Young Fathers will release new album 'Heavy Heavy' on 3 Feb. Here's new single 'I Saw'. They will also be touring the UK in February and March.
Darkthrone have released new single 'Caravan Of Broken Ghosts'. Their new album, 'Astral Fortress', is out next week.
Persher (aka Blawan and Pariah) have released new single 'Ten Tiny Teeth'. Their debut album, 'Man With The Magic Soap', is out tomorrow.
Duval Timothy will release new album 'Meeting With A Judas Tree' on 11 Nov. Here's new single, 'Mutate'.
Billy Nomates has released new single 'Saboteur Forcefield'. Her second album, 'Cacti', will be out on 13 Jan.
Shirt has released new single 'Dave Chapelle Is Wrong (Beef With God)'.
The 25th anniversary edition of the MOBO Awards will take place at Wembley Arena in London on 30 Nov, it has been announced. "It's a proud moment to see MOBO Awards return to London for our big 25 year milestone, which will see us celebrating our legacy, as well as paying it forward to the biggest stars of the scene", says founder Kanya King. "25 years ago I put my house and sanity on the line to make the first MOBO Awards happen at the Connaught Rooms and what an incredible journey it has been".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Miley Cyrus settles paparazzo copyright dispute
It was by no means the first lawsuit filed over a celebrity posting a photo taken by a paparazzo to their personal social media profiles without permission. Indeed, it was by no means the first lawsuit of this kind filed by Barbera, who has previously sued the likes of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa.
The copyright in a photo, of course, belongs by default to the photographer not the person who appears in the image. So a celebrity does need permission from the photographer - or whoever the photographer has assigned the rights to - in order to post photos of themselves.
Barbera's lawsuit against Cyrus, filed last month, said that he took a photo of the star waving as she left a building in February 2020. Shortly afterwards, the photo appeared on Cyrus's Instagram profile without his permission.
"The photograph was copied, stored and displayed without licence or permission, thereby infringing on plaintiff's copyrights", the legal filing claimed. "The infringement includes a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for a fixed tangible medium of expression that was sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be communicated for a period of more than a transitory duration and therefore constitutes a specific infringement".
So that's fun isn't it? But none of that will be scrutinised in court, because a settlement has been reached. A new court filing simply states: "Robert Barbera hereby notifies the court that [he] has settled all claims between plaintiff and defendant in this matter and is in the process of documenting the settlement. Plaintiff anticipates filing a dismissal with prejudice within 45 days".