|WEDNESDAY 15 MARCH 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Universal Music and Deezer have officially announced their alliance to investigate "potential new economic models for music streaming that more fully recognise the value artists create"... [READ MORE]|
Universal and Deezer's alliance to find "potential new economic models for streaming" officially announced
It means the major is now working with two of the smaller streaming services to research possible ways to evolve the current model employed by the digital platforms when it comes to sharing out revenue across the music community each month.
Universal boss man Lucian Grainge talked - somewhat vaguely - about the issues he has with that current model in a memo to staff at the start of the year.
Under the current model a streaming service allocates a portion of its advertising and subscription revenues to each track based on consumption share, and then shares that allocation with the record label or music distributor that provided the track, and the music publisher or collecting society that controls the accompanying song.
Some would argue that Universal is by far the biggest winner under the current model, but Grainge is nonetheless unhappy, with a particular grievance being that mood music and background noise - which gets plenty of repeat plays on the streaming platforms - is treated the same as good old fashioned pop music when it comes to allocating streaming monies to catalogue.
Not long after Grainge's moany memo, Universal announced that it was working with Tidal to investigate and experiment with alternative approaches to sharing streaming income. Then, in an investor call at the start of this month, Grainge said that similar investigations and experiments were planned with the Deezer geezers.
That latter tie up was formally announced this morning. "Through this collaboration UMG and Deezer aim to develop new methods that holistically reward recording artists and songwriters for the value they create and to reimagine and update the engagement model for Deezer's users and the artists they love", an official statement declares.
Of course for years now Deezer has been keen to shift to a different model of allocating streaming monies to catalogue, the much talked about user-centric model. In 2021, Tidal also announced an interest in adopting the user-centric system.
However, the labels - although official agnostic on this - don't really like the user-centric proposal, and with these new alliances Universal is seeking alternative alternative approaches.
"The new initiative between Deezer and UMG will seek to better align the interests of artists, fans and streaming services and explore ways in which artists at every point in their careers and from every genre and geography can more fully benefit commercially from streaming", the official statement goes on.
"With a foundation in deep data analysis, the partnership will look at the benefits and evaluate the viability of different economic models aimed at driving subscriber growth", it continues, "forging stronger bonds with music fans on the platform and developing commercial opportunities that benefit artists and the broader music community".
Commenting on all this, top Deezer geezer Jeronimo Folgueira says: "As a key player in the music industry, we work with all labels to find ways to make the ecosystem fairer and help artists monetise their music better. The current system has clear issues that need to be addressed, such as increasing amounts of non-music tracks uploaded on platforms, poor quality covers with misspelt artists' names and songs to 'steal' streams, and people trying to trick the system with the length of tracks".
"This hurts true artists, makes it harder for new ones to emerge and also damages the fan experience", he continues. "We believe in quality and fairness at Deezer and with this initiative together with UMG we will look into how we can improve the model to everyone's benefit. Music is extremely undervalued today and as part of the artist-centric discussion we are keen to find additional ways of increasing monetisation, to the benefit of real artists, the labels and platforms like Deezer".
Meanwhile, Universal's top digital dude Michael Nash adds: "Deezer has long advocated for a re-evaluation of subscription's economic model. We're THRILLED Jeronimo and his team are partnering with us to explore how we can evolve streaming for the benefit of the entire ecosystem of artists, labels, platforms and fans".
"Such collaboration is critical to the success of the artist-centric initiative", he adds. "While there won't be one uniform quick fix - subscriber acquisition and retention dynamics and metrics vary by platform - our partnership with Deezer will help accelerate this entire enterprise".
IMPALA calls on European Commission to complete its investigation into the 'reciprocity approach'
This all relates to how income collected by the record industry's collecting societies, when recorded music is broadcast or played in public, flows around the world.
Each country has its own society which issues licences and collects money in its home market. Under the usual system, where a user of music in country A uses recordings released by artists and labels in country B, the society in A passes any royalties due over to the society in B, which then pays the relevant performers and rightsholders.
However, in some countries there are limitations in copyright law regarding what income is due from the broadcast or public performance of music.
Where that is the case, other countries might not actually pass any royalties over when music from those places is used, on the basis that no money is flowing back in the other direction. That system is referred to as the 'reciprocity approach'.
The rules on this differ from country to country, but some European countries apply the reciprocity approach in one way or another.
That included Ireland. However, in a dispute between Irish collecting societies RAAP and PPI - which respectively represent performers and rightsholders - the question was raised as to whether that reciprocity approach was actually allowed under European law and/or according to the EU's interpretation of the global copyright treaty that covers these things.
The Irish courts bounced that question up to the EU courts which answered "no". The EU court basically said that because the specific European directive relevant to the Irish case didn't mention the reciprocity approach, EU member states couldn't apply it. The previous assumption - actually backed by the European Council - was that because the relevant directive was silent on reciprocity, EU member states could apply it if they wanted to.
Some in the music industry welcomed that ruling, especially US collecting society SoundExchange. Because the US is the big market where copyright law does not provide artists and labels with royalties from traditional radio and public performance, which means that when other countries apply the reciprocity approach, no monies flow to American performers and/or rightsholders.
But in Europe there was plenty of opposition to the ruling, which many labels saw as being an incorrect interpretation of European law and global copyright treaties. And those critics of the ruling welcomed the news in 2021 that the European Commission was investigating the matter.
One possible outcome of that investigation could be a proposed amendment to EU law. After all, given the ruling in the Irish society case was the result of European law being silent on this issue, one solution would be to amend the rules so to clarify that the reciprocity approach is allowed.
But despite that 2021 investigation being announced, so far there has been no progress in this domain. And we need some progress. Or so says IMPALA.
"Two and a half years have now passed since the decision of the European Court Of Justice in the RAAP case", the trade group said this morning. "This decision has created an anomaly. The principle of reciprocity as enshrined under international copyright has basically been suspended as a result. If allowed to stand, this will have a massive impact on the livelihoods of thousands of European music artists and independent music businesses and on cultural diversity".
"It is time to clarify the meaning of the original legislation to reflect the basic principles of international copyright as relied upon by both member states and collecting societies for decades", it went on. "That means confirming the principle of reciprocity across the EU, while also accommodating member states with a different approach".
IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith added: "A devastating transfer of over €125 million every year out of Europe is on the horizon. We have been calling on the European Commission to address this since the ruling came out in September 2020, but despite some initial positive signs last year the silence in recent months has been deafening".
"Let's make no mistake", she continued, "inaction is not neutral. It is equivalent to an active policy decision to let an anomaly become law ... we are sleepwalking our way into a financial and cultural disaster for the thousands of small European music companies and their artists who account for 80% of all new releases in Europe today".
Spinrilla wants no talk of "piracy" as majors head to court seeking $600 million in damages
The majors first sued Spinrilla in the US in 2017, accusing the mixtape service of infringing their copyrights by allowing their music to be included in mixes without licence.
For its part, Spinrilla argued that it had previously had good relationships with the record companies, many of which had sought inclusions in the mixes it hosted for promotional purposes.
It also stressed that it had a system in place to respond to requests by copyright owners to have unlicensed music removed, even working with a record industry approved audio ID company in order to run that system.
That latter point was basically Spinrilla claiming protection under the good old copyright safe harbour which stops digital platforms from being held liable for any infringement conducted by their users, providing they meet various conditions.
However, in 2020 the judge overseeing the case ruled by summary judgement that Spinrilla had not met said conditions, so did not have safe harbour protection, and was therefore liable for infringement.
Which means Spinrilla needs to pay the majors some lovely damages. But how much damages? Well, that's to be decided by a jury in an upcoming court hearing.
But the majors are pushing for statutory damages in relation to 4082 tracks shared without licence on the mixtape platform. And if the jury are convinced Spinrilla's copyright infringement was wilful, they could award $150,000 per track - meaning total damages in excess of $600 million.
Which is why Spinrilla wants to stop the labels form using emotive language in court, in a bid to avoid its infringements being deemed wilful, so to keep the damages bill down. And to that end it recently filed motions with the court - published by Torrentfreak yesterday - seeking some rules to stop such emotive chatter on the music companies' part.
"Defendants anticipate that plaintiffs will use disparaging terms such as 'pirates', 'piracy' or 'thieves' to brand defendants as deliberate, wilful wrongdoers to predispose the jury to awarding higher damages", one of those motions states. "Because plaintiffs' use of the terms is designed solely to prejudice the jury, the court should bar their use by plaintiffs".
"For years, the music industry has sought to convince the public that it was under siege by 'thieves, trespassers, pirates, or parasites'", it goes on. "Defendants anticipate that plaintiffs will continue to refer to piracy and pirates so that the jury will be predisposed to find the defendants acted wilfully".
But, it argues, "these terms are not evidentiary, have no probative value, and are highly inflammatory such that they will create undue prejudice. Accordingly, the court should bar plaintiffs from referring to defendants as 'pirates' or having engaged in 'piracy' or 'theft' or other similarly disparaging words".
In another motion, Spinrilla notes that, during the upcoming court hearing, the labels also plan to talk about the history of online piracy and the impact it had on the music community. But the mixtape platform doesn't want any of that chatter either.
Because such a history lesson has nothing to do with "the facts of this case" and is therefore "irrelevant and prejudicial", it argues, adding: "[Such] testimony should be excluded because it has nothing to do with Spinrilla's actions at issue in this case and is highly prejudicial".
However, it seems, Spinrilla itself is quite keen to talk about the more recent history of digital music, ie how after fifteen years of decline - in part because of piracy - the record industry has seen its revenues surge in recent years thanks to the streaming boom.
The mixtape site's lawyers seemingly want to bring all that up by presenting recent financial statements and documents from the major labels and their parent companies.
In their own filing with the court, the majors state that: "Evidence or argument related to plaintiffs' parent corporations has no bearing on the issues to be tried, is certain to cause jury confusion as to the significance of such materials in setting an appropriate amount of statutory damages, and would be highly prejudicial to the plaintiffs".
"Given the irrelevant and prejudicial nature of this evidence and argument", they add, "the financial statements, and any related testimony, should be excluded at trial".
We now await to see what limitations the judge decides to put on the upcoming damages hearing.
Universal acquires classical label Hyperion
CEO of Global Classics & Jazz for the Universal Music Group, Dickon Stainer, says: "Hyperion is a jewel of a label and we are committed to continuing the magnificent work done by the Perry family and to preserving and building on the special place Hyperion occupies in the hearts of artists and music fans alike".
Simon Perry adds: "I'm THRILLED to bring Hyperion to Universal Music Group, a company that shares Hyperion's commitment to bringing the most distinctive and brilliant musicians to as wide a public as possible".
"By being part of UMG", he goes on, "while keeping our artists and staff together, we can continue to build on my father's legacy and that of everyone who's been part of the Hyperion family over the past 43 years. My debt to all of them is huge and I look forward to leading this incredible label into an exciting new chapter".
Co-Presidents of Decca Label Group Tom Lewis and Laura Monks say in their own statement: "We are enormously proud that Hyperion has joined Universal's family of classical labels to sit alongside Decca Classics in London".
"Simon and his father have created a very important recorded classical catalogue that serves a dedicated global audience", they add. "And the label continues to work with artists who are the best of the best. We are determined to celebrate the label's legacy and continue its extraordinary story".
Upcoming Hyperion releases include Vaughan Williams' 'Sinfonia Antartica' and 'Symphony No 9' performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Haydn's 'String Quartets Opp 42 and 77' performed by the London Haydn Quartet.
Pizza Express launches label to release archive of live jazz and soul recordings
"The PX Records vision is to celebrate the prestigious Pizza Express Live legacy and to share some of the incredible performances that we get to experience across our venues on a daily basis", says Pizza Express Music Manager and now label boss Ross Dines.
"When listening back to recordings, we're always struck by both the quality of the audio and by how perfectly they captured the energy and excitement of the show itself. A Pizza Express record label has long been a dream of the team here and we're delighted that it's finally coming to fruition".
Pizza Express Live was launched at the company's Soho restaurant in the late 1970s and has since rolled out to other venues. It now has an archive of over 50,000 recordings by artists including Tony Bennett, Amy Winehouse, Diana Krall, Van Morrison, Brian May and more.
Among its planned releases, PX Records is set to put out a series of live albums recorded at Pizza Express Live in Holborn, the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, and The Pheasantry in Chelsea. The first two records - 'Scott Hamilton Quartet At Pizza Express Live' and 'Mamas Gun At Pizza Express Live' - will be out on 14 Apr.
Nominations for Heavy Music Awards announced
"Being the first and only band to receive five nominations in one year in the history of the HMAs has given us such a sense of purpose and achievement", says Vukovi vocalist Janine Shilstone.
"We feel seen and we feel heard. My younger self would be so proud of me and everything I've overcome at this point. I'm so excited about the future of female and non-binary in this genre and industry. There is room for everyone".
Awards co-founder Andy Pritchard adds: "Once again the HMA finalists showcase the spectacular breadth of talent across the rock and metal scene. To see so many different styles and sub-genres represented - in addition to the diversity across all the artists - proves once again that the heavy music landscape is as vibrant and non-apologetic as ever".
The winners will be announced at a ceremony due to take place at Wembley Arena in London on 26 May. Voting is open now until 14 Apr.
Here are the nominees in full:
Best Album: Architects - The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit, Bad Omens - The Death of Peace Of Mind, Ghost - Impera, Halestorm - Back From The Dead, Nova Twins - Supernova, Slipknot - The End So Far, Vukovi - NULA
Best Breakthrough Album: Bloodywood - Rakshak, Cassyette - Sad Girl Mixtape, Charlotte Sands - Love And Other Lies, Heriot - Profound Morality, Static Dress - Rouge Carpet Disaster, Wargasm - Explicit: The MiXXXtape, Witch Fever - Congregation
Best Single: Architects - When We Were Young, Bring Me The Horizon - Strangers, Creeper - Ghost Brigade, Enter Shikari - The Void Stares Back (feat Wargasm), Ghost - Call Me Little Sunshine, Ithaca - They Fear Us, Neck Deep - STFU
Best Production: Architects - The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit, Bad Omens - The Death Of Peace Of Mind, Halestorm - Back From The Dead, Ithaca - They Fear Us, Rolo Tomassi - Where Myth Becomes Memory, Static Dress - Rouge Carpet Disaster, Vukovi - NULA
Best Video: Cassyette - Sad Girl Summer, Coheed And Cambria - The Liars Club, Electric Callboy - Hurrikan, Motionless In White - Werewolf, Nova Twins - Choose Your Fighter, Parkway Drive - Glitch, Polyphia - Playing God
Best Album Artwork: Coheed And Cambria - Vaxis Act II: A Window Of The Waking Mind, Malevolence - Malicious Intent, Parkway Drive - Darker Still, Polyphia - Remember That You Will Die, Vukovi - NULA, Witch Fever - Congregation, Zeal & Ardor - Zeal & Ardor
Best UK Artist: Bob Vylan, Creeper, Holding Absence, Malevolence, Nova Twins, Sleep Token, Vukovi
Best International Artist: Bad Omens, Electric Callboy, Ghost, Halestorm, I Prevail, Polyphia, Spiritbox
Best UK Breakthrough Artist: As December Falls, Blackgold, Cody Frost, Delilah Bon, Kid Bookie, Lake Malice, Zand
Best International Breakthrough Artist: Charlotte Sands, Chat Pile, LS Dunes, Scene Queen, Scowl, Soul Blind, Zulu
Best UK Live Artist: Biffy Clyro, Creeper, Enter Shikari, Neck Deep, Nova Twins, Skindred. Vukovi
Best International Live Artist: Alexisonfire, Electric Callboy, Ghost, Halestorm, My Chemical Romance, Parkway Drive, Turnstile
Best Breakthrough Live Artist: As Everything Unfolds, Cassyette, Heriot, Joey Valence & Brae, Lake Malice, Static Dress, Witch Fever
Best Festival: 2000Trees, Aftershock, BMTH Malta Weekender, Download, Hellfest, Outbreak, Slam Dunk
Concord Music Publishing has signed Australian band Coterie to a worldwide publishing deal. "There is a deep connection and understanding that flows through their songs", says Jaime Gough, MD at Concord Music Publishing ANZ. "This is evident in their live performances, where the guys manage to extend this connection to their audience, leaving those lucky enough to attend with wide smiles and souls filled".
Warner Music's CFO Eric Levin has announced that he will retire from the company later this year. "I love working with you, and being part of this extraordinary company that's all about teamwork, passion and ingenuity", he wrote in a memo to staff. "But, after a transformative decade at WMG, culminating in an IPO and then a CEO transition, I'm ready to pass the baton to a new CFO".
Indie label digital rights agency Merlin has announced seven promotions. Ryan McWhinnie becomes VP Business & Legal Affairs, Shrina Patel rises to Senior Director Of Business & Legal Affairs, Chris Tarbet moves up to Senior Director Of Commercial Partnerships, Chaida Kapfunde shifts to Senior Director Of Business & Technology Solutions, Pavan Vasdev hops over to Director Of Strategy & Growth, Quentin Martins leapfrogs to Senior Manager Of Commercial Partnerships, and Grace Styles high jumps to Senior Financial Assistant.
Universal Music Publishing has promoted Jonas Wikström to Managing Director of its Nordic operations. "Jonas has been a vital part of our company over the last 20 years and is best positioned to lead our Nordics' operations to new heights", says UMPG COO Marc Cimino. "Jody Gerson [CEO] and I are excited to watch him flourish as a leader of our teams there".
Warner Chappell has hired Africa Ng as President of its Asia Pacific operations. She joins from Meta, where she was Head Of Music Business Development, Asia Pacific. "As a passionate music enthusiast and advocate for diversity, I am excited to steward our talented and dedicated team to amplify the voices of the region's songwriters, providing them with a platform to showcase their incredible talents", she says.
US collecting society BMI has promoted John Coletta to SVP & Managing Director International, moving up from VP of International Legal & Business Affairs. "John is truly well positioned to take on this role", says CEO Mike O'Neill. "As our lead international lawyer, he has been integral to multiple strategic initiatives for the company and has established strong and trusted relationships with our sister societies around the world".
Lana Del Rey has released new single 'The Grants'. Her new album 'Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd' is out next week.
Yusuf/Cat Stevens has announced that he will release new album 'King Of A Land' on 16 Jun. Out now is new single 'Take The World Apart'.
Avenged Sevenfold have released new single 'Nobody'. The track is taken from new album 'Life Is But A Dream', which is out on 2 Jun.
Everything But The Girl have released new single 'Run A Red Light'. "I met a lot of characters during my years in clubland", says the duo's Ben Watt. "I wrote this song about the guy at the end of the night, who dreams his big moment is just around the corner. All the bravado and good intentions masking the vulnerability".
A Winged Victory For The Sullen have released new single 'All Our Friends Are Vampires'. They describe the track as a "melancholic instrumental Haiku for the entertainment industry". They are set to play The Barbican in London on 13-14 May.
Alberta Cross has released new single 'Morning Drum', ahead of new album 'Sinking Ships', which is out on 31 Mar. "'Morning Drum' came out of a long dark grey winter when I lived in Berlin", says frontman Petter Ericson Stakee. "Six months with a huge grey lid on top of you. It's tough not to be affected by it".
The Toilet Bowl Cleaners (aka prolific songwriter Matt Farley) have released a book collecting lyrical highlights from their catalogue of over 200 toilet-themed songs. "The Toilet Bowl Cleaners can't claim to have invented the poop song", states the book's introduction. "Poop songs have been around for as long as people have been pooping. But it's safe to say that they have gone further with the concept than was previously considered possible". Buy 'The Selected Works Of The Toilet Bowl Cleaners' here.
GIGS & TOURS
Popcaan has announced shows in Dublin, Glasgow and Bristol in May. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Metallica acquire majority stake in vinyl pressing plant
The band have acquired a majority stake in the Virginia-based Furnace Record Pressing, which they have been working with since 2014 - pressing up more than five million pieces of Metallica vinyl in that time.
"Building Furnace into the dedicated and experienced family of experts that it is today has been a huge effort, but immensely gratifying", says the company's founder Eric Astor. "Knowing our long-term future is secured while also being better able to take advantage of growth opportunities is really exciting for every member of the Furnace staff".
COO Ali Miller adds: "We have found ideal partners in Metallica. They want us to continue our customer driven focus. To that end we look forward to providing even greater capacity and service to each of our customers in the future".
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich comments: "We couldn't be more happy to take our partnership with Furnace - and Eric, Ali and Mark [Reiter, VP Manufacturing Operations] specifically - to the next level. Their indie spirit, the passion they have for their craft… culturally we're kindred souls".
Not wanting to be left out, frontman James Hetfield chips in: "Furnace has been great to Metallica and more importantly to our fans. This deepened relationship between Metallica and Furnace ensures that fans of vinyl everywhere, particularly our Fifth Members [that's what they call the band's fan club members], will have continued access to high quality records in the future".
Furnace was founded in 1996 and now runs fourteen presses. Astor, Miller and Reiter will all remain at the company and sit on the board of directors.