|WEDNESDAY 15 FEBRUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Australian record industry has formally hit out at TikTok's ongoing experiment in the country to test the role music plays on the video sharing platform. The Australian Recording Industry Association says it's unfair to disrupt the experience of TikTok's Australian users as part of an experiment that won't result in any credible insights... [READ MORE]|
Australian record industry hits out at TikTok restricted music test
It recently emerged that TikTok is limiting the number of songs available within its app for some of its users in Australia. The restriction means that some tracks will not appear in the TikTok Sounds library for those users and the audio might be muted on existing videos that utilised that music.
Confirming that was all happening, a spokesperson for the social media outfit recently told reporters: "Some of our community in Australia will not be able to access our full TikTok Sounds Library at the moment. This will only affect certain music and is scheduled work while we analyse how sounds are accessed and added to videos, as well as looking to improve and enhance the wider Sounds Library".
The experiment comes as music companies seek to revamp their licensing deals with TikTok, hoping to shift things from a lump sum fee model to a revenue share model, and certainly to increase how much revenue ultimately flows from TikTok into the music industry.
TikTok's experiment may be partly to help management at the company better understand the value music delivers to its platform, especially if some kind of revenue share model will inevitably become part of its deals with the music industry in the future.
However, negotiators on the industry side obviously reckon that the aim - at least in part - is to provide TikTok with a stack of data about music usage that can be used beat down the record labels and music publishers on price. Except, of course, no one will really trust TikTok controlled research on the value of music to TikTok.
Responding to all that, the CEO of ARIA - Annabelle Herd - said in a statement yesterday: "It is frustrating to see TikTok deliberately disrupt Australians' user and creator experience in an attempt to downplay the significance of music on its platform".
"After exploiting artists' content and relationships with fans to build the platform, TikTok now seeks to rationalise cutting artists' compensation by staging a 'test' of music's role in content discovery", she added. "This is despite the fact that in 2021 TikTok's Global Head Of Music, Ole Obermann, said: 'Music is at the heart of the TikTok experience'".
"This 'test' is presented as an effort to analyse, improve and enhance the platform's wider sound library, but as little as five months ago, TikTok's Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas said that 80% of content consumed on TikTok is programmed by algorithms", Herd continued.
"If this is the case, then it's difficult to trust that this is a true test. TikTok can set its Australian algorithm upfront to - within parameters they define - deliver the results they want. Australians deserve better. TikTok should end this 'test' immediately and restore music access to all users and creators".
Utopia sued by LA-based rights platform that it planned to acquire
According to Law360, SourceAudio claims that a deal was agreed with Utopia in March last year, shortly after the flurry of acquisitions which saw Utopia expand significantly through the purchase of Proper Music, Absolute and Sentric Music.
The lawsuit filed by SourceAudio with the courts in Delaware claims that the deal was worth $26.5 million. Utopia paid a £3 million deposit upon signing the deal, with plans to fully complete the acquisition in May.
However, that deadline was subsequently pushed back multiple times. After each deadline extension was agreed, SourceAudio claims, "Utopia engaged in a pattern of discontinuing discussions for an extended period of time, only to resurface immediately before the next intended closing date to indicate that it was unable to close by such date".
After the sixth delay, the deal between SourceAudio and Utopia was altered, increasing the value of the company being acquired. Utopia also apparently agreed to add $167,000 to its deposit payment each week until the deal properly closed. But, SourceAudio alleges, the deal never completed and Utopia got behind on its deposit payments.
In its lawsuit, SourceAudio wants the court to force Utopia to either complete its acquisition of the LA-based company, or pay it no less than $37.26 million in damages.
Following the rapid growth through acquisition in early 2022, towards the end of the year Utopia announced it was downsizing its workforce. Then in January it was revealed that CEO Markku Mäkeläinen had departed the company, with founder Mattias Hjelmstedt filling in on an interim basis.
Utopia hasn't commented on the SourceAudio litigation, but a legal rep for the plaintiffs told Law360: "Utopia has breached a binding contract with SourceAudio. SourceAudio is simply requesting that Utopia honour its contractual obligations to SourceAudio".
Musicians' Union backs FAC's 100% Venues campaign
"We're delighted to show our support for the 100% Venues initiative, which is becoming a vital resource for musicians in the UK", says Kelly Wood, the MU's National Organiser for Live, Theatre & Music Writers. "Touring remains a key part of many artists' careers, and whilst it can help to grow fanbases and support releases, it can also prove very challenging from a financial perspective".
"The UK has an incredible network of music venues, which are loved universally by artists and audiences", she goes on. "However, to protect the viability of future tours and careers, we need consistent and fair terms for performers. Artists rely on a combination of income streams when on tour and any threats to these - such as unfair or unexpected commissions on merchandise - can have devastating effects".
"The growing number of venues that have signed up to the initiative so far sends a very strong and positive message to artists", she concludes. "We hope that this leads to more pressure for other venues to improve their terms and get behind the campaign."
FAC CEO David Martin adds: "We are hugely grateful to receive support for 100% Venues from our friends at the Musicians' Union. The MU and FAC's members deliver the performances that the whole live music industry is built on, yet many are facing an almost impossible task to keep the show on the road. That is why the issue of merchandise commission has become so pronounced and why we will continue to fight for a fairer settlement for artists".
The Featured Artists Coalition launched its 100% Venues campaign a year ago, after Tim Burgess of The Charlatans sparked an online debate about merch commissions.
It launched a directory that lists all the UK venues that don't charge such commissions, which includes most grassroots venues. And then it called on other venues to drop their merch fees and get themselves a directory listing.
The campaign extended to North America late last year via an alliance with the Union Of Musicians And Allied Workers in the US and rapper Cadence Weapon in Canada.
BBC Radio 6 Music Festival to return to Manchester
"6 Music will be rooted in Salford over time, so we're bringing the festival back home to Greater Manchester, where it all began, with some incredible performances", says Samantha Moy, Head of BBC Radio 6 Music. "You may have seen Arlo Parks, Christine And The Queens and Loyle Carner before, but you won't have seen them like this before. It promises to be a very special weekend indeed".
If you're wondering what specifically makes this weekend so special, well, Carner will be unveiling a new collaboration with the AMC Gospel Choir, Christine And The Queens will be premiering his new live show, and Parks will be playing new music for the first time with an array of special guests.
6 Music presenter Mark Radcliffe comments: "It's great to welcome the 6 Music festival back to Greater Manchester and particularly exciting that the focus this time will be on new work. It's all at the Victoria Warehouse. It's quite dark in there so I have booked an eye test in order to make sure I have the right glasses to see everything".
As well as the live shows, there will also be DJ sets at Victoria Warehouse, Band In The Wall and Ramona from the likes of Erol Alkan, Daniel Avery, Don Letts, Hot Chip, Jamz Supernova, Steve Lamacq, The Charlatans' Tim Burgess, Yard Act and more.
Anyone who can't physically get themselves to Manchester will, of course, be able to experience highlights of all this across 6 Music and various other BBC platforms, including BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Sounds, BBC Four, BBC iPlayer and BBC Music's YouTube channel.
The event will take place from 23-26 Mar. Here's the full line-up:
23 Mar, Band On The Wall: Phoebe Green, Antony Szmierek, Afflecks Palace
Keychange sets out Pledge Action Plan encouraging "urgent and sustainable" change to achieve gender equality in the music industry
Originally conceived by the PRS Foundation in the UK - and now run and supported by a number of organisations, with funding from Creative Europe - Keychange has instigated various projects and initiatives since 2015, including the 50/50 gender balance pledge.
A particularly high profile part of Keychange's work, that pledge was originally focused on getting festivals and music conferences to commit to gender balanced line-ups, but subsequently expanded to encourage a wider range of music companies and organisations to work towards better gender equality in their operations.
In a new report on that specific work, Keychange states that "more than 600 music festivals and organisations around the world have now taken the Keychange Pledge, implementing sustainable structures and practices to provide more space and more opportunities for women and gender expansive creators and professionals throughout the music industry than ever before".
"Each pledge is unique to the organisation making it", it adds, "with areas of action, timeframes and targets identified by the pledge signatory at the time of joining the movement".
The guide sets out the achievements of the organisations that have signed up to the pledge, but also collates the results of various recent research projects that demonstrate there is still a long way to go until we have a music industry with true gender equality.
It's with that in mind that the new Pledge Action Plan has been put together with input from signatories to the pledge. That plan puts the focus on four specific objectives that will inform the future work of Keychange and the pledge signatories, as follows...
Beyond Gender: Working towards gender balance within the music industry requires actions that represent women and gender expansive people from all under-represented backgrounds. This requires a strong focus on intersectionality when creating pledges and monitoring progress, ensuring representation of and direct input from women and gender expansive people of all races, ethnicities, (dis)abilities and social classes, throughout all of Keychange's activities.
Urgent Action: Encouraging the global music industry to create detailed, time-focussed, intersectional pledges to proactively bring about sector-wide change.
Global Community: Creating roundtables, workshops and conversation spaces for different sectors of the music industry to share best practices, information, and tips for development and progression.
Education & Activism: Keychange already provides guidelines, best practices and monitoring support to individual signatories. To extend this offering in the future, Keychange will work with partners and collaborators to create safer spaces and forums for activism; offer further training and guidance in the use of appropriate diversity language and practices; and collaborate with and signpost organisations offering training and development in diversity and inclusion practices.
Urging everyone in the music industry to get involved in this plan, Keychange's Francine Gorman says: "It's the responsibility of every single member of the music industry to insist upon and bring about urgent, progressive, lasting change".
"Keychange is proving that targeted action to break down the systemic and cultural barriers preventing women and gender expansive artists and professionals from entering and succeeding in the music industry is working - so now is the time to take this even further".
"From music schools and conservatoires including more women and gender expansive composers in curriculums, to radio stations improving representation in playlisting and staffing, to collecting societies and trade bodies increasing gender representation in their memberships, much needs to change - and now", she adds.
"For this reason, we're calling upon the entire global music community to join Keychange in taking urgent action towards a diverse, representative and sustainable music industry for all".
You can download the report reviewing what the Keychange pledge has achieved and outlining the action plan here.
JFDR announces third album Museum
It's "an album about clearing and healing; like breathing fresh strong air through your old self", she says.
Of the single, she adds: "'Spectator' is an anthem for the codependent, a lullaby for the ones slightly codependent and for those who have never felt it; a mirror into the raw thought process of someone deep in the trenches of it".
"The video was made with my good friend Timothee Lambrecq and the unmissable support from my husband Josh Wilkinson and old bandmate Áslaug Magnúsdóttir", she goes on. "The clouds represent thoughts, and getting swallowed by a big cloud is symbolic of the thoughts that can overtake you, when you lose your ground".
"I also wanted to reference the album and its artwork that centres around a statue, representing energy frozen in time. I truly hope this song makes someone feel seen. It can take a long time to learn to navigate big emotions, whether they're your own or others'. I was feeling it at the time".
'Museum' is set for release on 28 Apr. Watch the video for 'Spectator' here.
Former BMG UK President Alexi Cory-Smith has formally launched her new business, Bella Figura Music, and confirmed a number of deals that are already in the bag. Backed by private equity fund Freshstream, the firm has acquired a stack of rights over the last year from the likes of Guy Chambers, David Gray and Darrell Brown. Bella Figura, which also involves another former BMG exec - Neelesh Prabhu - describes itself as "a purpose-built, artist-centric music company, bringing together leading technology and a relentless focus on creative excellence".
Iconoclast - headed up by the former CEO of Irving Azoff's Iconic Artists Group, Olivier Chastan - has bought the catalogue of Diplo's Mad Decent Publishing, which sounds like fun. Chastan's business is another entity splashing the cash on acquiring artist and music rights, spending monies provided by its investment fund backers.
Seeker Music - the music rights firm headed up by songwriter Evan Bogart - has confirmed that it has acquired the catalogue of Christopher Cross, with work already underway to reissue and newly promote that music. "I've been a Christopher Cross fan going back to when I was a kid", says Bogart. "I'm so proud to have the opportunity to carry his legacy forward and of what we've already been able to do with his catalogue, and will continue to do this year to keep introducing music fans to Chris's incredible songs and timeless songwriting".
Influence Media has announced a deal with pop producer and songwriter - and frequent Harry Styles collaborator - Tyler Johnson. The music rights investment outfit says it has "invested in a diverse catalogue of titles created by Johnson between 2012 and 2020". Johnson himself adds: "These songs are very important to me and I feel our deal reflects the value of this catalogue that I have built over the last ten years".
Sony Music Publishing has expanded its global admin partnership with songwriter, musician and Bread vocalist David Gates and his publishing entity Kipahulu Music Co. "Mr Gates's heartwarming songs will enrich lives for generations to come and we look forward to supporting his songwriting legacy", says Sony Publishing's Audrey Ashby.
The US music division of management firm YMU has promoted Dani Chavez to the position of Senior Marketing Manager. "I am THRILLED to promote Dani to Senior Marketing Manager", says YMU Music US's Head Of Marketing SuzAnn Brantner. "She has shown exceptional marketing skills, creative acumen and a deep understanding of artists' needs".
Music publisher Wixen in the US has formally announced the appointment of Jon Pikus as VP A&R/Business Development. "Jon is that rare breed of creative who has been on multiple sides of the proverbial fence, so he can authentically relate in any situation, to artists, writers and producers, and to managers, attorneys and executives", says COO Andrew Wixen.
Lana Del Rey has released new single 'A&W'. The track is taken from her new album 'Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd', which is out on 24 Mar.
Ahead of the release of his new album 'Quest For Fire' this Friday, Skrillex has released new single 'Don't Get Too Close', featuring vocals from Bibi Bourelly and Skrillex himself.
Keaton Henson will release new album 'House Party' in Jun. "I wanted to make an upbeat confident pop record about depression and being a performer", he says. "[One] written from the viewpoint of an artist who has hollowed himself out over a long career in the name of success, an alternate universe version of me, who is left empty and lonely from climbing to the top, but is still only able to express these feelings in the language of confident, performative pop songs". Out now is new single 'Envy'.
Temples have released new single 'Cicada'. The track is taken from new Sean Lennon-produced album 'Exotico', which is out on 14 Apr.
Dry Cleaning have released two previously unreleased tracks - 'Swampy' and 'Sombre Two'. Both were recorded during sessions for their 2022 album 'Stumpwork'. "They share a dusty, desolate and spacey atmosphere", say the band of the two songs. "On the eve of this release we have been touring through the southwest US, where these songs feel at home in the arid, Mars-like landscape of the Arizona desert". Both tracks will feature on a new EP, out on 1 Mar and also called 'Swampy', which will include remixes of 'Stumpwork' tracks and the demo of 'Peanuts'.
GIGS & TOURS
The Chicks have announced UK tour dates this summer, finishing with a performance at the Manchester Arena on 4 Jul. "This last year on the road has been a whirlwind for us but it's time to bring the party to the UK", say the band. "We can't wait to see everyone and play for all our fans across the pond - it's been a long time coming, and we can't wait to get back!" Tickets will go on sale tomorrow.
Megadeth have announced that they will livestream a show from the Budokan venue in Tokyo on 27 Feb, which will see them perform with former guitarist Marty Friedman for the first time since 2000. "Marty and I have remained friends over 23 years, since we last played together", says frontman Dave Mustaine. "However, I hear his music every night, and he still is among the top guitar players I've ever heard. This is an amazing treat for the fans, as well as myself. I am going to enjoy this as much as the fans are, and I'm sure many of you will catch me sneaking a peek during Marty's appearance". Tickets available here.
Jamz Supernova will host 'The Supernova X-perience' all-nighter at Village Underground in London on 21 Apr. "If you love what I do on the radio, [or have] caught me at a festival or club, then just know we're turning it all the way up", she says. "London, I would love to see you!" Tickets are on sale now.
They Might Be Giants have announced UK tour dates in November, which will see them perform their 1990 album 'Flood' in full. The run will finish with a performance at The Roundhouse in London on 18 Nov. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Cardi B and Offset pop by Times Square McDonald's for a Valentine's Day snack
"While it might not be an official love language, our fans know a true sign of love is knowing your person's go-to McDonald's order", McDonalds declared earlier this week after airing an advert based on that theme during Sunday's Super Bowl.
Said ad featured celebrity rap couple Cardi B and Offset proving their love by knowing each other's McDonald's preferences. Although - unlike all the other couples featured in the ad - that knowledge isn't really needed anymore, given that all the rap couple have to do at the counter of their local McDonald's is ask for the official Cardi B & Offset Meal.
That, in case you wondered, consists of a cheeseburger with tangy BBQ sauce and a large Coke (for Cardi B) and a quarter pounder with cheese and a large Hi-C Orange Lavaburst (for Offset). The accompanying fries and apple pie are to share. Or so we're told. Though, I mean, who shares a McDonald's apple pie?
"Let me tell you, McDonald's is date night done right", lies Offset in the official marketing blurb for the new meal. "It doesn't have to be all boujee. Get your date, grab some good food, and have fun, that's it".
"Whether it's going for a date night or grabbing a bite after late-night studio sessions... I'm always asking Offset to take me to McDonald's", alleges Cardi B. "And now, Offset and I have a meal named after us! I want all my fans to try it - especially with that BBQ sauce".
Lovely stuff. And to prove their love - for each other, for burgers and cheese, and - of course - for the marketing dollars of McDonald's - the two rappers showed up at the fast food chain's Times Square branch yesterday to buy their own meal and enjoy some proper romantic Valentine's Day goodness. And to share an apple pie, apparently. Weirdos.