|THURSDAY 2 MARCH 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A plethora of music industry organisations have signed a letter to UK Business And Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch urging her to pressure the American government to drop proposals to significantly increase the cost for British artists securing a visa to perform in the US... [READ MORE]|
Music industry calls on UK government to lobby US counterparts about proposed visa fee price hike
It follows the recent extension of the #LetTheMusicMove campaign by the Featured Artists Coalition and Music Managers Forum, which was originally set up to tackle the challenges Brexit has posed for touring musicians, but which is also now campaigning against the proposed visa fee hikes in the US.
The new letter, organised by UK Music, explains: "On 4 Jan 2023, the US Department Of Homeland Security announced a proposed increase in filing/petition fees for certain types of touring visa fees for non-US citizens".
"The proposals mean that petition fees for the P visa - used for acts to perform temporarily in the US - will increase by 251% from $460 (£385) to $1,615 (£1,352). Meanwhile, the O visa - used for a longer-term working visit - would climb by 260% from $460 (£385) to $1,655 (£1,375)".
"In both cases, these fees would each include a $600 (£499) surcharge to support the US asylum process", it adds. "It is inherently unfair that musicians in the UK are being burdened with the bill for US immigration policy".
Those visa fee increases - coupled with other surging costs in the live music domain - would mean touring in America would no longer be commercially viable for many British artists, for whom the US is a key target market.
Noting the UK government's previous response to the proposed visa fee price hike, the letter continues: "We were disappointed to see recent comments on this issue by Minister For Media, Data And Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP [who said] 'the UK Government cannot interfere in another country's processes and must respect their systems, just as we expect them to respect the UK's processes'".
"While we recognise that the government cannot interfere in another country's processes", it adds, "to suggest the UK government cannot work with the US to resolve this issue undermines the UK's current approach to conducting state-level deals as potential precursor to a UK-US free trade agreement".
"The US is one of our oldest allies, a nation with which we share values, share a language, and share a proud history of vibrant cultural exchange", the letter goes on. "That two-way exchange has brought huge social, cultural and economic benefits to both our great countries - and ensuring that creative professionals can continue to travel between our two countries as easily as possible is integral to the special relationship we enjoy".
It then concludes: "We are therefore calling on the UK government to work with their US counterparts as a matter of urgency to avoid what would be a mutually damaging outcome for both countries".
The FAC and MMF's #LetTheMusicMove campaign - which is being publicly backed by an increasing number of artists, including Rina Sawayama, Hot Chip, Idles and Steam Down - are urging more members of the music community to declare their support and take action. More details on how to get involved in the campaign are available here.
US House committee approves proposals to make a TikTok ban easier to instigate
Those proposals were only introduced into the House last week. They come amid increased concern in political circles in US and elsewhere about what access the Chinese government may or may not have access to TikTok user-data via the app's China-based owner Bytedance.
Of course, there has been plenty of discussion about China's access to TikTok user-data before, with other proposals having been made regarding how governments could better regulate the TikTok platform - or how Bytedance could restructure its business to address the issues raised by the politicians.
However, these ongoing discussions do seem to have risen up the agenda again in Washington ahead of a planned session of the House's Energy And Commerce Committee later this month at which TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will directly face questioning by American law-makers.
When TikTok data concerns first became a headline-grabbing topic within US political circles then President Donald Trump tried to outright ban use of the app within the US. However, that ban never went into effect because of legal challenges in the American courts. It was then rescinded by Biden.
The legal reforms being considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week would clarify what powers the US President has to ban the use of certain apps in certain circumstances, making it harder to challenge any future ban in the courts.
CNN explains: "The legislation would empower the Biden administration to impose a nationwide TikTok ban under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act".
"The bill's text specifically names TikTok and its parent, Bytedance, and requires President Joe Biden to impose penalties against the companies, up to and potentially including a ban, if the administration determines they may have knowingly transferred TikTok's user data to 'any foreign person' working for or under the influence of the Chinese government".
"Sanctions would also be required", CNN's explanation continues, "if the Biden administration finds the companies helped the Chinese government engage in surveillance, hacking, censorship or intelligence-gathering; facilitated election meddling in the United States or in another democratic ally; or helped the Chinese government influence US policymaking, among other things".
Although concerns about TikTok are found across the political spectrum, at this week's committee hearing Democrats expressed concern that these specific proposals had been rushed onto the agenda and needed much more scrutiny.
Obviously, while TikTok is specifically named, the new rules could affect a wider range of tech companies, and Democrat lawmakers were concerned about the committee giving its backing to the proposals without considering all the possible ramifications.
However, Republican committee members stressed that there was now a need to deal with the ongoing concerns around TikTok as a matter of urgency, hence the need to fast-track these latest proposals.
Noting that US government employees are now banned from using TikTok on work devices, Republican Committee Chair Michael McCaul - who is also sponsoring the bill setting out the proposals - said: "How can we ban TikTok among ourselves and not ban it for our children?"
"That is the moral question of today and of our time. TikTok is a modern-day Trojan horse of the [Chinese Communist Party] used to surveil and exploit Americans' personal information… in other words, it's a spy balloon in your phone".
TikTok continues to deny there are any issues with user-data and privacy on its platform. It's spokesperson, Brooke Oberwetter, said of this week's committee session in the House: "A US ban on TikTok is a ban on the export of American culture and values to the billion-plus people who use our service worldwide".
"We're disappointed", she went on, "to see this rushed piece of legislation move forward, despite its considerable negative impact on the free speech rights of millions of Americans who use and love TikTok".
She added that the priority should be completing the long-term negotiations between TikTok and the Biden White House to a agree national security deal that would aim to allay all the political concerns.
All this was happening as TikTok announced some new measures to given parents more control of how their teenage children interact with the app. That includes a default 60 minute screen time limit to restrict excessive scrolling through endless nonsense videos.
Which at least means those Chinese government officials will only be able to grab an hours worth of intelligence about each American child each day. Maybe. Perhaps. Hey, that's progress, people!
Tuned Global acquires Pacemaker
The deal, says Tuned Global, "marks a watershed" in the company's growth "as it expands into new markets and continuously innovates its music and media services for clients worldwide".
Pacemaker, which originally integrated with Spotify before seeking its own music industry deals after the streaming platform changed its API rules, holds several patents for its "unique AI DJ and rightsholder-friendly DJ mix solutions".
Says the official blurb: "Pacemaker's match machine can help curators instantly dig up great tracks in a massive catalogue and keep the groove going for workouts, therapeutic sessions or other playlist-driven moments. These personalisation and curation capabilities substantially increase user retention rates and session lengths".
Explaining the benefit the Pacemaker tech brings to Tuned Global, its Founder and MD Con Raso says: "Our ultimate goal is to help our clients create more engagement for their end users. Thanks to Pacemaker, Tuned Global extends its B2B streaming technology dominance by now offering enhanced AI tools that will hook and excite users as part of our white-label music apps, as well as in a standalone product for companies who aren't yet our customers".
Pacemaker CEO Jonas Norberg adds: "We believe that with Tuned Global, Pacemaker's full-stack, mobile-first tech will reach a wider audience and we'll be able to improve the music experience for Tuned Global's clients. An obvious fit is in the wellness industry, but we think it's much broader than that. Our AI DJ is so good that it can improve the experience of any playlist, creating seamless, great-sounding, well-timed transitions between songs and audio".
Bauer further expands Greatest Hits Radio network in UK, completes Red FM acquisition in Ireland
Lincs FM will cease to be available on FM from the start of April, but will continue to broadcast on the DAB digital radio network. That will allow Greatest Hits Radio to air on FM within Lincolnshire just in time for the arrival of its big new hire Ken Bruce.
John Marshall, who currently presents the morning show on Lincs FM, will also host a new local afternoon show on the FM version of Greatest Hits Radio within the county.
Commenting on the switch, Gary Stein, Group Programme Director for Bauer's Hits Radio Brand Network, says: "With Ken Bruce set to join Greatest Hits Radio from 3 Apr, there's been a huge desire from FM audiences to be able to listen to his show along with the rest of our fantastic programming".
"This change means that listeners in Lincolnshire can enjoy greater access to the station with a new local programme hosted by the fantastic John Marshall", he goes on, "while our loyal legion of Lincs FM listeners can continue to enjoy the station on DAB digital radio and online. Win, win!"
The plan to switch some of the FM frequencies currently used by Bauer's Kiss station in Cambridge, Peterborough and Suffolk over to the Greatest Hits Radio network will require approval from media regulator OfCom, as it constitutes a change of the format described in the licences for those FM outlets. So there is currently no fixed switchover date for that.
Talking of both Bauer and regulators, the media firm has also confirmed that its acquisition of Irish radio station Red FM in Cork is now completed. That was first announced last year but was subject to regulator approval.
On that, Bauer's President Of Audio Richard Dawkins says: "We're delighted to be welcoming Cork's Red FM to Bauer Media Audio. The station has been playing an important role in the lives of its listeners for the past two decades, providing great music, speech, entertainment and important local news".
"We're excited to be expanding within Ireland with the acquisition of this high-quality business", he adds, "and look forward to the opportunities this brings to deepen our relationships with listeners and commercial partners in broadcast and in digital audio".
NME launches new film and TV preview screening initiative
"NME's global audiences are watching more films and TV shows than ever", insists Benedict Ransley, Head Of Marketing at NME Networks. "Which is why it's the perfect time to launch NME Screens, connecting those audiences with exclusive screenings of the best new films and shows on Earth".
"We're THRILLED to launch NME Screens with the exceptional 'Meet Me In The Bathroom' and thank our friends at Universal Pictures Content Group for their support and collaboration", he adds. "We can't wait to build on the NME Screens slate, and introduce unmissable new films and shows to NME audiences worldwide".
They're very much talking this up as a global thing, although if you want to see 'Meet Me In The Bathroom', you'll have to get yourself to East London's Rich Mix cinema on 9 Mar.
Directed by Dylan Southern - who previously made Blur documentary 'No Distance Left To Run' and LCD Soundsystem film 'Shut Up And Play The Hits - 'Meet Me In The Bathroom' is based on Lizzy Goodman's book of the same name. Focussed on the New York music scene of the early 2000s, it features previously unseen footage of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, Interpol and LCD Soundsystem, among others.
If you can't get along to this NME screening, never fear, the film will be in cinemas more widely the following day, 10 Mar. You will, however, miss out on the special NME Screens after party. So maybe have a little think about you priorities, eh?
Tickets for the NME Screen showing are free and available via Dice now. Presumably there will be further details of other events in due course.
Coldplay to screen new concert film as multi-sensory cinema experience
Directed by Paul Dugdale and filmed during the band's ten night run at the River Plate stadium in Buenos Aires last year, the film is, we are told, the "definitive director's cut" of a previous "worldwide live broadcast of the show" that took place last October, "featuring remixed/remastered sound and stunning visuals, captured using 30 cameras, racing drones and 360° filming techniques".
It also features guest appearances from HER and BTS's Jin, and some extra documentary type content, mainly backstage interviews with the band.
With next month's screenings, the film will also viewable in various formats beyond the normal cinema set up, where available - those being ScreenX, which gives a 270° field of view; multi-sensory experience 4DX; and 4DXScreen, which combines both. I think that means Chris Martin will look really big and poke you in the ribs, or something like that.
"This new vision of the concerts, along with the new cinema-exclusive behind the scenes documentary, will provide an unmissable event, both for fans who attended the live screenings and those joining for the first time", says Trafalgar Releasing CEO Marc Allenby.
"We are also excited", he adds, "to showcase the film in ScreenX, 4DX and 4DXScreen through our partners at CJ 4DPlex, giving audiences an even deeper experience of these landmark shows".
Screenings will take place on 19 and 23 Apr, with tickets going on sale on 8 Mar. More details here.
Raye releases powerful video for Ice Cream Man
The self-directed video closes with a message from Raye, reading: "When I experienced sexual assault and rape, I didn't tell anyone. One in four people experience sexual assault in their lifetime. The odds are that is at least 25% of you reading this".
"This evil has more power over us in the dark than it does the light", she concludes. "If I can encourage anything, let's not bury it deep down inside us forever".
'My 21st Century Blues' was released last month in partnership with Human Re Sources, Raye having been finally released from her record contract with Universal Music's Polydor label last summer. The record reached number two in the UK albums chart. Earlier single 'Escapism' is currently at number ten after fourteen weeks on the singles chart.
Watch the video for 'Ice Cream Man' here.
Universal Music Publishing Europe has appointed Shirin Foroutan to the role of SVP and General Manager. She joins from US collecting society BMI. "We are delighted to have Shirin join the UMPG family as she takes on this role that is vital to the success of our company", says UPMG COO Marc Cimino. "From the moment we met Shirin, we knew she would fit right into our unique culture. We have no doubt she will bring enormous value and energy in our efforts to make sure that our songwriters are treated with the best care in the world".
Venice Music - the music company co-founded by Troy Carter and Suzy Ryoo - has appointed Fadia Kader as EVP and General Manager. She will lead teams doing A&R, marketing, sync, streaming and Web3 stuff. "Fadia has built a reputation as a trusted leader and trailblazer within the artist community", says Carter. "She's a unique bridge between music culture and technology and will be a valuable leader within Venice".
Booking agency Wasserman Music has promoted nine members of its team in the US. Eli Gelernter, Logan Handelsman, Lindsay McDowell, Yitzi Peetluk, Jess Bumsted, Mary Kate Carragher and Kaela Ismael all become agents. Meanwhile, Sara Pullman becomes EVP Operations and Chappel McCollister is now SVP Business Development. "We could not be prouder of each of these employees and look forward to their continued success and contributions here at Wasserman", says EVP Lee Anderson.
Metallica have released new single 'If Darkness Had A Son'. Their new album '72 Seasons' is out on 14 Apr.
Portugal. The Man has released new single 'Dummy'. Says he: "Worried about the impending nuclear war? 'Dummy' is an ode to The Cure. For all those hopeless doomers out there waxing poetic on the end times while dancing to 'Boys Don't Cry'. All my troubles seem so far away". His new album 'Chris Black Changed My Life' is out on 23 Jun.
6lack has announced that he will release new album 'Since I Have A Lover' on 24 Mar - and has also released the title track. Of the song, he says: "It's a note to self, that I'm no longer who I was or where I was, and that there's a bigger purpose starting to reveal itself in the things I create. We are simply pushing love, because it's needed. The verses are short and serve as a moment of acknowledgment for how I feel, and the chorus is less of a lyric and more of a feeling. It's an exhale, it's relief, it's trust, it's happiness, it's surreal".
Arlo Parks has released new single 'Impurities'. "It's about being around people who make you feel like your inner ugliness and failures and mistakes don't matter, who lift you up and make you laugh, who make you feel good and clean", she says. Her new album 'My Soft Machine' is out on 26 May.
Ashnikko has announced that she will release her debut album 'Weedkiller' on 2 Jun. She will also be playing UK shows in November and December, kicking off with a performance at Alexandra Palace on 30 Nov.
Boygenius - aka Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker - have released new single 'Not Strong Enough'. The track is taken from their new album 'The Record', which is out on 31 Mar.
Fontaines DC have released a cover of Nick Drake's 'Cello Song', the first track to be taken from a new compilation of songs by the late musician - titled 'The Endless Coloured Ways' - which is set for release on 7 Jul and also features Emeli Sandé, Guy Garvey, Self Esteem, Feist, Aurora, John Grant and more.
Cradle Of Filth have announced that they will release their first live album for 20 years 'Trouble And Their Double Lives' on 28 Apr. The release will also feature two new studio tracks, the first of which, 'She Is A Fire', is out now.
Writer Neil Gaiman and the FourPlay String Quartet have released new track 'In Transit', taken from their first album together 'Signs Of Life', which is out on 28 Apr.
San Cisco have released new single 'Lost Without You'.
Liturgy have released new single 'Before I Knew The Truth'. New album '93696' is out on 24 Mar.
Penelope Trappes has released new single 'A Seagull Learns To Sleep Alone'. Her new album 'Heavenly Spheres' is set for release on 14 Apr and she will headline Iklectik in London this Saturday.
The brilliant Mandy, Indiana have announced that they will release their debut album 'I Have Seen A Way' on 19 May. "We wanted to alter textures, create clashes, and craft those moments when what you're expecting to happen never comes", says guitarist Scott Fair. Out now is new single 'Pinking Shears'.
GIGS & TOURS
Sophie Ellis Bextor has announced that she will play a launch show for her new album 'Hana' at Lafayette in London on 30 Jun. The album itself is out on 2 Jun and she's just put out the video for recent single 'Breaking The Circle'.
Indie label Phantom Limb will mark its fifth anniversary with three gigs in London, starting this week with a WaqWaq Kingdom show at Cafe Oto on Friday. Richard Skelton will then headline St John On Bethnal Green on 31 Mar and then Iggor Cavalera will top the bill at Iklectik the following night. Tickets are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ed Sheeran to play only UK and Ireland shows of 2023 later this month
Following on from a run of shows in Australia, which is currently drawing to a close, these performances and a gig in Paris - the announcement is very keen to point out - will be Sheeran's only European shows in 2023. So make sure you get yourself some tickets when they go on sale next week, otherwise you're going to be very disappointed. Assuming you like Sheeran and all his songs. Less so if not.
But let's assume that you do dig Sheeran's ditties and you're keen to avoid disappointment. In that case please - and I can't stress this enough - in your efforts to circumvent disappointing circumstances don't be tempted to get yourself a ticket off one of those almost certainly evil tickets touts.
Because, in his somewhat last minute gig announcement, Sheeran also stresses that - as ever - there will be a hardline stance on tickets bought on the secondary market at these shows. Fans are specifically warned to stay away from Viagogo. Mainly when buying Sheeran concert tickets. But you know, maybe just generally.
"Once again, Ed and his team have a strict stance against anyone using unofficial secondary ticketing sites in order to try and stop fans being exploited when trying to buy tickets for his shows", says a statement.
"The shows on this tour will use specially developed mobile digital ticketing technology which have safeguards in place to ensure genuine fans are buying genuine tickets, and to stop unofficial secondary ticketing sites, and unofficial ticket sellers, from being able to resell tickets at inflated prices and rip off fans", it goes on.
"Fans with tickets, who become unable to go to the shows, will be able to sell their tickets to other fans at the price they paid and a booking fee through the official fan-to-fan face value resale platform at the place they purchased the tickets".
"The promoters urge all customers to only use the official ticket sites listed at edsheeran.com and are reminded that Viagogo is not an official ticket vendor for this tour", it then stresses.
"As per previous Ed Sheeran tours", the statement concludes, "the promoters will be monitoring the sales transactions in conjunction with the National Trading Standards cyber crime team, to identify purchases which are in contravention of the terms and conditions for the sale of the Ed Sheeran tickets. All ticket purchases that contravene these terms and conditions will be subject to possible cancellation".
So, don't say you haven't been warned. Unless you haven't read this, in which case you're on your own. I can't be held responsible for people doing things I told them not to when they didn't read me telling them not to. I think that's fair. Even when it comes to Viagogo.
All those tickets go on general sale via official ticketing platforms on 10 Mar, with pre-sale access to fans who pre-order '-' through Sheeran's website by 7 Mar.
The new album is set for release on 5 May. Not sure how much of it he will play at the shows, given fans won't know the new tunes yet. But he does promise to play his new single. So I guess that means it'll be out by then.