|FRIDAY 20 JANUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Amazon is increasing the baseline price of its music streaming service in the UK and US, following Apple's lead. From next month that baseline price will increase from 9.99 to 10.99... [READ MORE]|
Amazon follows Apple's lead with 9.99 to 10.99 price increase on Music Unlimited
An update to Amazon's FAQs web page says: "To help us bring you even more content and features, we're updating the prices of select Amazon Music Unlimited plans. The updated pricing starts on 21 Feb 2023. You will begin seeing the new price on your first bill after that date".
Apple Music instigated a similar increase last year, making price rises across the music streaming sector much more likely.
The music industry, of course, has been pushing for a price increase for years, given streaming is a revenue share business, so subscription prices have a direct impact on the streaming monies received by record labels and music publishers, and therefore artists and songwriters.
9.99 has been the baseline price of subscription streaming in the big dollar/pound/euro markets since Spotify first launched in the 2000s. Because of inflation that means the real cost of subscribing to a streaming service has been declining each year.
Most streaming services have instigated some price rises in recent years, though usually in relation to discount or bundle packages. Last year Amazon increased the price of its family plan and the discounted version of Music Unlimited available to members of its Prime scheme.
However, the uplift in baseline price in the mature music markets is still significant, as traditionally all other pricing - including discounts, bundles and pricing in emerging markets - is set in relation to the baseline in places like the US, UK and other big European markets.
There were various reasons why the big music services were nervous about increasing the baseline price, despite there having been several price increases over the years on video services like Netflix. However, now the baseline has increased once, there will probably be future increases on a semi-regular basis in line with inflation.
Spotify seems likely to follow Apple and Amazon on this. After Apple announced it's increases last year, Spotify boss Daniel Ek told his investors: "When our competitors are raising their prices, that is really good for us".
He added that an increase of the baseline price in a market like the US "is one of the things we would like to do and it's something we will [review] with our label partners. I feel good about this upcoming year, and what it means about pricing for our service".
Spotify and Deezer call for urgent action from the European Union over Apple's App Store rules
This relates, of course, to Apple's App Store rules, and in particular the rules governing in-app payments on iOS devices. Such payments currently have to be taken via Apple's own commission-charging transactions platform, and the rules have also traditionally banned app-makers from sign-posting alternative payment options available elsewhere online.
For services like Spotify and Deezer, it means if they sell subscriptions within their apps they have to pay a 15-30% commission to Apple. Given a streaming service's profit margin is around 30%, that is only viable if they pass the commission onto the consumer. But that then makes their services look more expensive than Apple Music.
Instead most music streaming services just don't allow in-app payments at all. But that makes it harder for Spotify to upsell premium subscriptions to its free tier users, which is a key part of its business model.
Spotify and Deezer, alongside many other app-makers, have been calling for some time for regulators and the courts to force a change to Apple's rules, arguing that the enforcement of those rules by the tech giant constitutes anti-competitive conduct.
Those efforts have resulted in some regulator interventions in some countries, and some relaxation of Apple's rules. But Spotify et al would like a more significant intervention, in particular a forced rule change to allow them to take in-app payments on iOS devices via their own transaction systems.
With that in mind, Spotify made a formal complaint to the EU's competition regulator. That regulator began an investigation and, in May 2021, published a Statement Of Objections expressing concerns about Apple's in-app payment rules.
Meanwhile, last year the EU passed its Digital Markets Act, which seeks to more widely address competition issues caused by major digital platforms exploiting their market dominance. That has led to rumours Apple will further relax its App Store rules, within the EU at least, in a way that could address some of Spotify's complaints.
But, you know, while things are slowly moving in a direction that should please Spotify et al, the app makers would much prefer things to evolve in a much speedier fashion.
And so they demand urgent action from the European Commission via this open letter to Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner For Competition, who also has the job title of Executive Vice President of the European Commission For A Europe Fit For The Digital Age.
The letter sets out various gripes about Apple's App Store rules - including those around in-app payments - and then states: "Apple has and continues to defy every effort from courts and regulators to address these unfair practices. While Apple continues to reap unfair rewards, the harm to developers and, more importantly, to consumers is immeasurable. The time has come for urgent action from the EU to end Apple's abusive behaviours".
"The EU has the opportunity to take the lead", it adds, "but it must act fast as every day that passes is a loss for innovation and for the welfare of European consumers".
To that end, the letter goes on, "we therefore call for a rapid decision in the competition case against Apple for its illegal, anti-competitive behaviour involving music streaming services. [The] Statement Of Objections is nearly two years old and the abuses and consumer harm will continue until a remedy is enforced".
Not only that, but "the Commission should also swiftly enforce the Digital Markets Act, prioritising Apple's designation as gatekeeper and ensuring that it complies with all the obligations related to app stores and mobile ecosystems".
"The DMA is a much welcome and groundbreaking legislation", the letter goes on. "Its effects are already being felt in other regions across the world, who are keen to follow the EU lead. However, its success will be measured by its enforcement".
"Any attempts by Apple and other gatekeepers to circumvent the rules - including on misleading and vague grounds of privacy and security - should be resisted", it concludes. "We are at your and your teams' disposal to share our market experience and our views on what meaningful compliance should look like".
As well as Spotify and Deezer, the letter was also signed by Basecamp, Proton and Schibsted, as well as trade bodies France Digitale, the European Publishers Council and News Media Europe.
20 stream-ripping sites web-blocked in India
Stream-ripping sites - services that allow people to download permanent copies of temporary streaming - have been the music industry's top piracy gripe for some time, while web-blocking is the sector's anti-piracy tactic of choice, where local courts will issue such injunctions.
IFPI notes that music piracy remains particularly high in India, with its research suggesting that 73% of internet users still access unlicensed and illegal sources of music online, more than double the global average. It adds that the 20 sites subject to the new web-blocking order issued by the Delhi High Court together "received nearly half a billion visits last year from users based in India".
IFPI boss Frances Moore adds: "We welcome this decision and the strong message it sends to operators of stream-ripping sites, wherever they may be based, that we are prepared to take the appropriate action against them. These services make large amounts of money from music whilst paying nothing to those domestic and international artists that are creating it and the labels that are investing in the music of tomorrow".
Meanwhile Blaise Fernandes, CEO of IMI, has also welcomed the extension of web-blocking to stream-ripping in India. "We welcome the Delhi High Court's decision which will further strengthen the recorded music industry's fight against digital music piracy", he says. "Given that it's the first time a website blocking order has been granted against stream ripping websites, this precedent is an important step in the right direction for the Indian recorded music industry".
Proxy Bay operator hits back after copyright notice from PIPCU blocks GitHub subdomain
It emerged earlier this week that development platform GitHub had blocked the sub-domain proxybay.github.com. That domain provided access to The Proxy Bay, which helps people reach the good old Pirate Bay in countries where the infamous piracy site is blocked by internet service providers, usually because of a court order issued on copyright grounds.
Whenever music and movie companies secure web-blocking orders in court, forcing ISPs to block piracy sites, so called proxies quickly pop up to help people circumvent the blockades.
Copyright owners then secure additional web-blocking orders covering the proxies. Hence why things like The Proxy Bay exist, to help people find the newer proxies that are still working. Needless to say, the copyright owners have then tried to get The Proxy Bay et al blocked too.
With the UK music and movie industries being particular prolific at getting web-blocks put in place, both The Pirate Bay and The Proxy Bay are blocked in the country. However, until recently the proxybay.github.com subdomain provided an alternative way for people to access the Proxy Bay site.
This is why the City Of London Police's IP Crime Unit, aka PIPCU - on behalf of record industry trade group BPI - sent a copyright notice to GitHub under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, stating that the service available via the offending subdomain "is in breach of UK law, namely Copyright, Design & Patents Act 1988, offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and conspiracy to defraud". GitHub complied with the notice and blocked the sub-domain.
However, according to Torrentfreak, the operator of The Proxy Bay has now filed a counter notice, arguing that the service that was previously available at proxybay.github.com did not breach any laws. That's on the basis that no copyright infringement takes place at, and no copyright infringing content is available via, The Proxy Bay.
That counter notice states: "The person claiming DMCA doesn't understand that there is no content hosted on proxybay.github.com, hence why it is wrong to send a DMCA request for it". It then adds that that's why "reputable" domain registrars "ignore those fake DMCA claims submitted by bots which are just automatic submissions triggered by keywords".
Of course, in the UK, the courts concluded that there were grounds to order The Proxy Bay to be blocked, on the basis that it exists to circumvent other web-blocking orders put in place by the same courts. But the operator of The Proxy Bay might be hoping that in the US - where web-blocking is generally not available as an anti-piracy tactic - the 'but we're not doing any actual infringing' defence might work. We shall see.
Torrentfreak adds: "The counter notice puts the ball back into PIPCU's court. The police or the rightsholders they represent now have two weeks to file a lawsuit against The Proxy Bay operator. If that doesn't happen, the DMCA prescribes that GitHub should restore the domain".
National Union Of Journalists consulting its BBC members about revised local radio cutbacks
The BBC revealed plans last year to reduce the output of its network of local stations in England. Stations based in the same region will start sharing content for chunks of the day, with a single late night show across the network. Which, of course, means fewer programmes overall, and fewer presenters and producers making them. The changes are partly about saving money, but also to divert more resources to the BBC's local services online.
In the music industry, the cutbacks have led to concerns about the future of the BBC Music Introducing initiative, which is built upon 32 local BBC Introducing shows that air on the local stations. If those are replaced with regional shows it is feared BBC Introducing at large will lose its current connections with the various local music scenes around the UK, especially outside the big cities.
Earlier this week the BBC announced it was making some tweaks to its local radio plans based on the feedback of staff and audiences. The number of regional shows will be increased slightly, and there are some specific commitments around programmes for black and Asian communities. The NUJ says that its BBC members are now considering those tweaks.
The union said in a statement yesterday: "Following negotiations with the NUJ, the BBC has made concessions on the drastic cuts it had proposed. Members are now considering if they will be enough. The BBC England NUJ members had previously indicated they were prepared to take industrial action and are now voting to accept or reject concessions made by the BBC management. A no vote would lead to a ballot for industrial action".
As for the impact of the proposed changes on the BBC workforce, the union added: "The plans would have resulted in the loss of about 48 posts, however because of the numbers applying for voluntary redundancy no one should be forced to lose their job. However, the NUJ will ballot for strike action if there are any compulsory redundancies".
Commenting on the changes, the union's National Broadcasting Organiser Paul Siegert says: "This is far from an ideal proposition. The NUJ believes that local radio is one of the jewels in the BBC's crown and that all 39 stations should continue in their current form and be properly funded. They are listened to by 5.7 million people a week because of their localness. When you start sharing with other stations then local radio stops being local".
"It's now important we listen to our membership who work on those 39 local radio stations", he adds. "If they reject the current proposals because they feel licence payers will get an inferior service, then the next step will be to ballot for industrial action unless the BBC sees sense".
NUJ members working for the BBC in Northern Ireland are separately considering industrial action over plans to downsize the workforce at the broadcaster's Northern Irish operations, and to also axe the breakfast show on BBC Radio Foyle, which would instead carry the same breakfast programme as BBC Radio Ulster.
David Crosby dies
The musician's family said in a statement: "It is with great sadness that, after a long illness, our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away. He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django. Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us. His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music".
Born in LA in 1941, Crosby was a founding member of The Byrds in 1964, recording and performing with the band for three years before ever present tensions within the group resulted in his dismissal in 1967. The following year he met Stephen Stills, beginning the collaboration that resulted in Crosby, Stills & Nash, formed with Graham Nash; and, of course, later Crosby Stills Nash & Young, with the additional involvement of Neil Young.
A long series of albums followed involving Crosby and some combination of those three collaborators, on top of eight solo albums, most recently 'For Free' in 2021. In a long and prolific career, Crosby also collaborated with many other musicians including Carole King, Joni Mitchell and members of The Grateful Dead.
His CSN bandmates are among the many musicians who have been paying tribute to Crosby overnight, both acknowledging that their respective relationships with Crosby were at times strained.
"David and I butted heads a lot over time", Stills said in a statement. "But they were mostly glancing blows, yet still left us [with] numb skulls. I was happy to be at peace with him. He was without question a giant of a musician, and his harmonic sensibilities were nothing short of genius … I am deeply saddened at his passing and shall miss him beyond measure".
Meanwhile Nash said: "I know people tend to focus on how volatile our relationship has been at times, but what has always mattered to David and me more than anything was the pure joy of the music we created together. He leaves behind a tremendous void".
According to The Guardian, eight months ago Crosby agreed to be interviewed by a journalist class at a high school in Colorado. Answering a student's question about whether or not he would be touring again, he said: "No. I'm not, because I'm 80".
And when asked about his recent spate of solo albums, he added: "I'm 80 years old so I'm gonna die fairly soon. That's how that works. And so I'm trying really hard to crank out as much music as I possibly can, as long as it's really good".
SoundCloud has appointed Emmy Lovell as its Global Head Of Music. Formerly at Warner Music, Lovell joined Napster as Chief Strategy Officer in 2021, becoming CEO last year following that company's acquisition by Hivemind and Algorand. In her new job she will work "closely with artists, managers and labels worldwide" to "build the relationships, capabilities and insights that connect and deepen the relationship between SoundCloud's passionate fans and their favourite artists".
Warner Chappell in Italy has promoted Riccardo Loda to the role of Head Of A&R, reporting in to Santiago Menéndez-Pidal, President of Southern Europe for the Warner music publisher, who says: "Riccardo is a brilliant A&R exec who has built great relationships with artists, managers and labels across Italy and beyond over the last decade".
Kim Petras has released new single 'Brrr'.
Metallica have released new single 'Screaming Suicide'. Says James Hetfield: "'Screaming Suicide' addresses the taboo word of suicide. The intention is to communicate about the darkness we feel inside. It's ridiculous to think we should deny that we have these thoughts. At one point or another I believe most people have thought about it. To face it is to speak the unspoken. If it's a human experience, we should be able to talk about it. You are not alone". New album '72 Seasons' is out on 14 Apr.
A$AP Rocky has released new single 'Same Problems?' He also told Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 that a new album is on the way. "It's finished and we're just putting the finishing touches on it", he said. "The new stuff is me being vulnerable, and it's just no filter, and just where I'm at, at my stage. My age and how I see things, my peers, the younger kids, the older cats, it's just my perspective".
Headie One has released new single 'Martin's Sofa'.
Alison Goldfrapp has released a new collaboration with Claptone, called 'Digging Deeper'. "In 'Digging Deeper', I'm effortlessly gliding through air, on a gloriously hot breezy night arriving at a blissed-out dancefloor on the island of my dreams", says Goldfrapp.
Krept & Konan have released new single 'Dat Way', featuring Abra Cadabra.
Kali Uchis has released new single 'I Wish You Roses'. "This song is about being able to release people with love", says Uchis. "It could be a friend, a lover, or someone else, but the point is to celebrate releasing people from your life without being resentful or bitter".
Sleep Token have released their third single of the year, 'Granite'. The track arrives just as the band kick off UK tour dates. They are due to play Bristol Academy tomorrow night, followed by the Hammersmith Apollo in London (moved from Brixton Academy) on Sunday.
Meet Me @ The Altar have announced that they will release their debut album 'Past // Present // Future' on 10 Mar. Here's recent single 'Say It To My Face'.
Maps have released new single 'Fever Dream'. His new album 'Counter Melodies' is out on 10 Feb.
Overmono have release new single 'Is U' and announced that their debut album 'Good Lies' will be out on 12 May. Of the LP, they say: "Across the last two years, we have spent so much time on the road, making music whenever we could. Moving around all the time was always really inspiring and got us experimenting a lot and having fun with how we created chords or chopped and pitched vocals. This album is really a letter of love to the journey so far and marks where we want to take things".
The Waeve - Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall - have released new single 'Over And Over', ahead of the release of their eponymous debut album on 3 Feb.
Silver Moth - a band made up of Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, Elisabeth Elektra, Evi Vine, Steven Hill, Abrasive Trees' Matthew Rochford and Ben Roberts, and Burning House's Ash Babb - have released 'Mother Tongue', the first single from their debut album 'Black Bay', which is out on 21 Apr.
Algiers have released new single 'I Can't Stand It!', featuring Future Islands' Samuel T Herring and Boy Harsher's Jae Matthews. "It's a very personal song about a devastating loss of someone I believed to be the love of my life which nearly ended in my suicide", says frontman Franklin James Fisher. "I think the song's narrative arc reflects the sense of dread and the path that led me to that moment". Their new album 'Shook' is out on 24 Feb.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
John Lydon says he "loves Jedward very much", despite them "nicking" his hair style
You might be wondering to yourself now if Jedward's distinctive hairstyle is really all that similar to Lydon's own, but apparently he's not the only person to have noticed some kind of similarity. In fact, some people apparently think that similarity could be genetic.
"Let me clear this up once and for all", he told the Irish Sun. "No, I'm not Jedward's dad, but I am a Jedhead, and if I ever meet the lads all I want to ask is 'why did you nick my hair?'"
His affection for Jedward seems to have been compounded by the twins losing their mother to leukaemia in 2019. He went on: "I was really devastated for the boys. Especially after what they said about their sadness that their mum would miss their weddings and the births of their children. My heart went out to them. I'm supposed to be tough but I want Jedward to know, Johnny Rotten loves them very much".
"I know what it's like for Jedward because I have had professional knockers all my life", he went on. "I'd just like to know what have Jedward ever done that was so wrong? Their only crime is they robbed my hair. I'd like to ask them about that".
Lydon - along with his band Public Image Ltd - are hoping to represent Ireland at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, of course. And if he does get to chat with the pair, he could also get some tips from Jedward about that too. They have represented their country at Eurovision not once but twice - with the song 'Lipstick' in 2011 and 'Waterline' in 2012. Although they came eighth and then nineteenth, so perhaps they wouldn't have any particularly useful advice.
These comments about Jedward are much more positive that Lydon's recent appraisal of Eurovision in general. In a recent interview with RTÉ Radio 1, he branded the whole competition "awful", "disgusting" and "dreadfully phoney".
Public Image Ltd are down to the final six hopefuls to perform for Ireland at Eurovision in May. They will all play on a special edition of RTÉ One's 'The Late Late Show' on 3 Feb, with Ireland's Eurovision entrant then selected by regional jury votes and a public phone poll.