|THURSDAY 23 MARCH 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: As the political pressure continues to build on TikTok, the video sharing platform's CEO Shou Zi Chew will appear in US Congress this afternoon to answer the questions of the House Committee On Energy And Commerce. Ahead of that, the committee has published Chew's written testimony, while TikTok itself has ramped up its lobbying efforts in Washington, including shipping in a bunch of creators who use the platform... [READ MORE]|
TikTok boss will insist data concerns are being addressed at Congressional hearing
Lawmakers and political leaders in multiple countries continue to express concern that the Chinese government has access to TikTok user-data via its China-based owner Bytedance. Based on those concerns, a number of governments and media organisations have banned their employees from using the app on their official devices. Meanwhile, momentum is building in the US for a complete nationwide ban of the app, similar to that previously attempted by former President Donald Trump.
With all that in mind, Chew - previously a pretty low profile CEO - is now on a mission to allay all of those concerns. This means insisting that the Chinese government does not have access to TikTok data; that systems already in place or currently in development address all and any data security issues that anyone may have; and that any restrictions put in place against TikTok will be an attack on all the creators, businesses and consumers who now rely on the platform.
Stressing just how many Americans utilise TikTok in one way or another - while also bigging up all the ways in which TikTok and its parent company are super responsible - Chew says in his written statement: "There are more than 150 million Americans who love our platform, and we know we have a responsibility to protect them, which is why I'm making the following commitments to you and our users".
"We will keep safety - particularly for teenagers - a top priority for us", he declares. "We will firewall protected US user data from unauthorised foreign access; TikTok will remain a platform for free expression and will not be manipulated by any government; we will be transparent and give access to third-party independent monitors, to remain accountable for our commitments".
The lengthy statement runs through all the ways TikTok empowers creators and businesses, and then all the ways in which it is a super responsible platform. Though, of course, it's the China connections that most of the House committee members are going to be most interested in.
"I am well aware that the fact that ByteDance has Chinese founders has prompted concerns that our platform could be used as or become a tool of China or the Chinese Communist Party", Chew goes on, noting that that has led to "calls to ban us or require divestment".
However, he adds, "I steadfastly believe that all concerns that have been raised have solutions. Bans are only appropriate when there are no alternatives. But we do have an alternative - one that we believe addresses the concerns we've heard from this Committee and others". That alternative in the US is the grand plan TikTok has been working on ever since Trump's attempts to ban the app which will see it work with US-based Oracle to safeguard American user-data.
Under that plan, Chew explains, "data of all Americans will be stored in America, hosted by an American headquartered company, with access to the data controlled by US Digital Service personnel". And, therefore, "we do not believe that a ban that hurts American small businesses, damages the country's economy, silences the voices of over 150 million Americans, and reduces competition in an increasingly concentrated market is the solution to a solvable problem".
He also stressed that, while Bytedance has Chinese founders, roughly 60% of its stock is controlled by global institutional investors, while about 20% of the shares are actually owned by the company's employees, "including thousands of Americans".
"Let me state this unequivocally", he goes on, "ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country. However, for the reasons discussed above, you don't simply have to take my word on that. Rather, our approach has been to work transparently and cooperatively with the US government and Oracle to design robust solutions to address concerns about TikTok's heritage".
We await to see whether any of TikTok's critics in Congress and beyond are placated by Chew's performance later today.
Given how important TikTok has become as a marketing tool within the music business, the music industry is watching all this closely. Though there's another TikTok initiative that is also of interest to music community that is less political. And that is TikTok's decision to remove some music from its audio clips library for some users in Australia, which is widely seen as being linked to the social media firm's current negotiations regarding the future of its music licences.
With the record labels and music publishers keen to get more cash out of TikTok, it's assumed that Bytedance hopes to use that experiment in Australia to try and play down the vital role music plays on the platform, and therefore push down the value of its licensing deals.
Though, according to Bloomberg, since access to music was restricted the number of people using TikTok in Australia - and the average time people spend on the app - has declined.
Or at least so says research firm Data.ai, which also notes that similar declines were not seen in other markets, nor on Instagram or YouTube within Australia, suggesting that the music restrictions likely contributed to that decline.
TikTok itself hasn't commented on any of that, though if true, the experiment could actually help the music companies as they push to earn more from the TikTok app.
Republic Of Music partners with Labelcamp
Republic Of Music's entire catalogue of over 10,000 products has already been migrated to the Labelcamp app, allowing label partners to upload new releases, manage catalogue and access daily trend analytics via its white-label dashboard.
Republic Of Music's operations and marketing teams are also using Labelcamp to manage release submissions from partners and ensure they are efficiently delivered to digital service providers with accurate metadata.
Nicolas Safieh, Head Of Business Development at Labelcamp, says: "We are very proud of welcoming such a respectable, established music services company as Republic Of Music. Their focus on quality perfectly matches our ambition at Labelcamp to provide the most excellent suite of supply chain and analytics tools in the market, addressing the needs of labels and distributors with high demands".
Meanwhile, Alex Gatt, Republic Of Music's Digital Director, spoke of the advantages the partnership would bring for the company and its label partners. "By choosing Labelcamp as our technology partner for distribution, we want to ensure that we provide our labels with access to the most efficient tools and comprehensive insights into consumption across all DSPs".
"With the Republic Of Music team already using Labelcamp's platform to manage our own digital operations", he goes on, "we hope this will also allow us to continue giving our clients the highest levels of service and attention as we continue to grow".
Republic Of Music works with international artists, labels and brands, including City Slang, Full Time Hobby, Ghostly, LateNightTales, Sacred Bones Records, Saddle Creek and Strut Records. Labelcamp, meanwhile, has been expanding rapidly, recently announcing deals with distributors in Turkey, Brazil, China and Hungary.
Amateur choirs protest planned closure of BBC Singers
"The BBC Singers have a special and symbolic place in choral singers' hearts - epitomised when they sang at the Last Night Of The Proms in 2020 when singing together was still banned for amateur choirs", says the letter. "They occupy a crucial position in the ecosystem of choir singing in the UK: not just a peak of excellence that we amateurs aspire to, but a group we have many close links with".
"BBC Singers are former members of our choirs; current and former BBC Singers conduct many choirs; BBC Singers regularly perform as soloists alongside amateur choirs; and they come and perform in, and bring fantastic music to, our communities on a regular basis", it goes on. "It's personal, they are part of the choir family. By killing off the UK's leading professional choir, you will diminish us all".
This letter is one of many protests against the BBC's recently announced new strategy for its classical music output, which Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore claimed was its "first major review of classical music in a generation". That new strategy includes cuts to the broadcaster's orchestras, as well as the entire disbandment of the BBC Singers after 99 years.
The BBC has yet to respond to the letter.
Bauer Media launches new radio app Rayo
Launched today via iOS and Android apps - with a web-based player set to become available later this year - Rayo will be loaded with all of Bauer's audio content. That's a lot of content. Fear not though, because it will also "combat content overload by connecting listeners with unmissable audio content that matches every mood and moment".
And who doesn't want to be connected with unmissable audio content? Also, the app is extra fun because saying its name makes you sound like you're drunkenly trying to say the word 'radio'. Or like you're doing a Scooby Doo impression. Either way - fun!
"Rayo is a step-change for Bauer Media Audio, allowing us to super-charge innovation and to compete in an increasingly global landscape", says Richard Dawkins, President Of Audio at Bauer Media Group.
"Through the power of audio and with human spirit and soul running right through it, Rayo will provide the entertainment, essential information and human connection that people need to make their day brighter", he adds. "Listeners will experience fresh and engaging content with new and familiar voices each time they say hello to Rayo".
So great. But what about the advertisers? Is anyone thinking about their needs? Don't worry, they're getting cut in to all the excitement too. There'll be plenty of scope for "bespoke sponsorship and content partnerships", as well as good old, straight up advertising.
BMG puts first authorised Devo documentary into production
Directed by Chris Smith, the documentary is produced by Vice Studios and Library Films in association with Mutato Entertainment. Financing is shared by BMG, Fremantle Documentaries - which is also part of BMG owner Bertelsmann - and Warner Music.
"Devo was a huge influence on me", says Smith. "Their approach to music, film, video and art was something I had never seen before and was one of the truly formative artistic influences that showed me there were entirely new ways to look at things".
BMG's Executive Vice President of Global Catalogue Recordings and Film & TV, Peter Stack, adds: "We are excited to be working with Vice Studios and Library Films on this definitive documentary about the groundbreaking band Devo. It's fitting that the film is the first-ever fully authorised feature film on the band, and we're THRILLED to be bringing it to audiences worldwide".
The film will use a mixture of archival footage and interviews to tell Devo's story. Currently in production, no release date has yet been set.
Busted announce 20th anniversary tour and singles series
Hanson will join the band as support on the bulk of the dates, while New Hope Club and The Tyne will appear for the full run. Fans who sign up to Busted's mailing list will receive access to a pre-sale for tour tickets which opens at 9am on 29 Mar. Remaining tickets will then go on general sale from 9am on 31 Mar.
Here are the dates:
2 Sep: Plymouth, Pavilions
Ellie Goulding has released new single 'By The End Of The Night' from her upcoming fifth studio album 'Higher Than Heaven', which is out on 7 Apr. The track gives a "sense of euphoric, sensual escape", says Goulding, adding that "we need music that uplifts us and makes us feel good".
Rina Sawayama, who is making her feature film debut in 'John Wick: Chapter 4', has also contributed a new song to the movie's soundtrack. The track, titled 'Eye For An Eye', was written with the film's composer Tyler Bates and is set to feature on its soundtrack album, which - along with the movie itself - will be out tomorrow.
The National have released new single 'Eucalyptus', which is the third from their upcoming album 'First Two Pages Of Frankenstein'. That album, set to be released on 28 Apr, will feature collaborations with Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers and Sufjan Stevens. The band will embark on a UK and Ireland tour in September, with Soccer Mommy supporting.
Mammoth WVH - aka Wolfgang Van Halen - will release new album 'Mammoth II' on 4 Aug. Out now is new single 'Another Celebration At The End Of The World'. "I knew that I wanted the new album to contain elements of what people heard on the debut, but also giving me a chance to branch out a bit", says Van Halen. "'Another Celebration At The End Of the World' is definitely a song that showcases what people can expect from the new album. It is a high-energy rocker with some fun guitar moments on it".
Yunè Pinku has released new single 'Sports' along with the announcement of her forthcoming EP 'Babylon IX'. Produced with UK DJ and producer Jakwob, she describes the new track as being "based loosely on an angry version of Lana Del Rey's 'Video Games' - mainly just the idea of someone putting a TV screen before the people they care about and their own life".
James Holden has released new single 'In The End You'll Know', from his upcoming album 'Imagine This Is A High Dimensional Space Of All Possibilities', set for release on 31 Mar.
Meshell Ndegeocello is releasing a new jazz-influenced album, 'The Omnichord Real Book', on 16 Jun - her first for Blue Note Records. The album features collaborations with a wide range of artists including Jason Moran, Ambrose Akinmusire and Joan As Police Woman. Out now is new single 'Virgo', featuring Brandee Younger and Julius Rodriguez.
Piglet has released new single 'Building Site Outside'. "I wrote this song at the final hurdle of receiving a prescription for gender affirming hormones", says the musician. "This was by no means the biggest obstacle I had faced in accessing treatment, but for some reason, it hit me particularly hard". Piglet begins a tour the UK and Ireland next week.
Nukuluk have announced the release of their second EP 'Superglue' on 21 Apr, and put out new single 'I Just Wanna Luv U'. The group describe the EP as "a kaleidoscope of sonics, songs, beats, noises and stories lurching between vulnerability and bravado, as a body of work growing in all directions at the same time". They are also set to play London's Corsica Studios on 23 May.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Five musicians charged over involvement with illegal crypto scheme
The SEC yesterday announced charges against Justin Sun, founder of the Tron Foundation Limited and three of his companies for the unregistered offer and sale of TRX and BTT crypto asset securities. Sun and his companies were also charged with fraudulently manipulating the secondary market for TRX, and for orchestrating a scheme to pay celebrities to promote TRX and BTT without disclosing their compensation.
"While we're neutral about the technologies at issue, we're anything but neutral when it comes to investor protection", says Director of the SEC's Division Of Enforcement, Gurbir Grewal. "As alleged in the complaint, Sun and others used an age-old playbook to mislead and harm investors by first offering securities without complying with registration and disclosure requirements, and then manipulating the market for those very securities".
"At the same time", he goes on, "Sun paid celebrities with millions of social media followers to tout the unregistered offerings, while specifically directing that they not disclose their compensation. This is the very conduct that the federal securities laws were designed to protect against regardless of the labels Sun and others used".
As well as the five musicians involved, the other celebrities charged are actor Lindsay Lohan, YouTuber Jake Paul and porn star Kendra Lust. Six of those celebs - the exception being Soulja Boy and Austin Mahone - have already agreed to collectively pay $400,000 to settle the charges against them without admitting liability.