|WEDNESDAY 29 MARCH 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: US collecting society BMI has welcomed a ruling in the American rate courts, which will increase what the organisation’s members earn when their songs are performed at gigs and concerts across America... [READ MORE]|
BMI secures concert royalty rate boost in the US
Songwriters and music publishers are due royalties whenever their songs are performed in public, and those royalties are usually managed by the collective management system. So in the US, those are the four collecting societies that represent the performing rights in songs: ASCAP, SESAC, GMR and good old BMI.
How this works differs from country to country, and according to the kind of show, but societies commonly collect a small percentage of a show's box office. How small a percentage also varies from country to country, but the rate is famously low in the US when compared to Europe.
But now slightly less so. Both ASCAP and BMI are regulated by things called consent decrees which, among other things, allow these rate courts to ultimately set the rates that each group of licensees must pay. And BMI has been busy for years now trying to get the rate court to increase what it receives from concert promoters, up from the previous rate which was set in the late 1990s.
This saw BMI go up against live giants Live Nation and AEG, as well as the North American Concert Promoters Association, before rate court judge Louis L Stanton. The society didn't get everything it wanted from the licence revamp, but the rate has improved in a decision which, BMI said in a statement yesterday, "ends decades of below-market rates for songwriters, composers and publishers in the live concert industry".
"As a result", it went on, "BMI affiliates will receive a rate that is 138% higher than the historical rate. And just as important, judge Stanton ruled that this new rate will be applied to an expanded revenue base, taking into account the way modern promoters monetise concerts. This includes tickets sold directly onto the secondary market, servicing fees received by the promoters and revenues from box suites and VIP packages".
BMI had also been seeking a share of the live sector's advertising and brand revenues, and the removal of a 10% discount on the rate currently enjoyed by NACPA members, provided on the basis that the trade group helps facilitate the licensing system. But, nevertheless, BMI definitely leaves the rate court with a considerably better package than before.
Says BMI boss Mike O'Neill: "This is a massive victory for BMI and the songwriters, composers and publishers we represent. It will have a significant and long-term positive impact on the royalties they receive for the live concert category".
"We are gratified the court agreed with BMI's position that the music created by songwriters and composers is the backbone of the live concert industry and should be valued accordingly", he adds. "Today's decision also underscores BMI's continued mission to fight on behalf of our affiliates, no matter how long it takes, to ensure they receive fair value for their creative work".
"While we're THRILLED with this outcome", he concludes, "we find it incredibly disappointing that it took millions of dollars and years of litigation to get Live Nation, AEG and NACPA to finally pay songwriters, composers and publishers what they deserve".
Kakao secures controlling stake in SM Entertainment, but Hybe left with half its stock
The original plan, of course, was for SM to issue some new shares for Kakao to buy. But SM founder Lee Soo-man blocked that proposal through the courts. And then persuaded that other K-pop powerhouse Hybe to start buying up existing SM shares in a bid to take control of his company. As part of that arrangement, Lee himself sold most of his SM shares to Hybe.
But then Kakao announced that it too was now buying up existing SM shares, offering a higher price than Hybe. Not wishing to get into a price war, Hybe quickly bailed on its share buying plan. Then last week it announced that it would sell all the shares it previously bought, mainly from Lee, to Kakao, seemingly keen to benefit from the premium price being offered by its rival.
However, in the end Kakao only needed just under half of Hybe's SM shares to get the 40% (technically 39.9%) that it needed. So Hybe still owns 8.8% of SM Entertainment. And with Kakao's premium priced share purchase offer now over, and the SM share price subsequently slipping as a result, Hybe's stock is currently worth less than it paid for it.
But still, I'm sure with its Kakao alliance the reinvigorated SM will be super successful and the value of those shares can only go up, up, up.
Apple puts new classical music app live
"We love music - that's really what we're all about - and classical music is foundational to music of all genres", reckons Apple Music VP Oliver Schusser. "Apple Music Classical is a dedicated app that is great for classical experts as well as anyone who is new to classical, with the largest classical music selection in the world, the very best search and browse capabilities, the most premium sound experience with spatial audio, and thousands of exclusive recordings".
Most people would agree that mainstream music streaming platforms are not optimised for classical music. Apple has been working on a solution to that problem for a while, buying itself classical music centric streaming service Primephonic back in 2021 to help with that process.
Some would argue that Primephonic had already created a pretty decent streaming experience for classical fans. You know, before Apple shut it down. But all those Primephonic learnings contributed towards this all new Apple Music Classical app, the launch of which was teased earlier this month.
"Classical works have multiple movements and tracks; famous pieces have hundreds of recordings with different orchestras, conductors, and soloists; and many composers have their own special catalogue classifications, from Bach's BWV to Mozart's K", the official blurb for the new app says, explaining why a different set-up is required for navigating the classical catalogue.
"With these complexities in mind", it goes on, "Apple Music Classical has redesigned search to instantly deliver exactly what users are looking for using all combinations of keywords, from composer and work, to opus number, conductor, artist, or instrument, and even a work's nickname. Looking up a work reveals all its recordings, plus an Editor's Choice performance. And searching for a composer displays all available works".
"Apple Music is also working closely with some of today's most renowned classical composers, artists and musicians to ensure that the app is empowering artists and engaging classical music lovers all over the world", we are also told.
And that includes cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who has this to say: "Classical music - and all of culture - is fundamentally about connection, about forging bonds of understanding across time and space. It's innovations like this that make that connection possible, that give us space for our curiosity to run, to rediscover the familiar, and to rejoice in the unexpected".
Meanwhile, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, also known for his occasional classical music projects, says: "I've been working with Apple to help solve the problems of classical music streaming. They've come up with a really elegant set of solutions to the unique problems that hinder the search for - and collection of - digital classical music".
"Put simply, there's only one recording of Joni Mitchell's 'Blue,' but thousands of 'Rhapsody In Blue'", he continues. "This first kind of search, in someone newly interested in classical music, can be so off-putting and bewildering, so I'm very excited for everyone to finally have a way into this remarkable universe of music, which is welcoming to new - and old - classical fans, and which rewards enthusiasm for music with music, directly and intuitively".
Apple Music Classical is available for free to existing Apple Music subscribers on iOS devices in most markets. An Android version will follow.
UK government unveils bill for reforming broadcasting laws
Ministers say the proposed new rules will allow those public service broadcasters - which also include STV in Scotland and S4C in Wales - to "unleash their potential to grow, produce more top quality British content and invest in new technologies to keep viewers tuning in amid fierce competition from subscription-based online platforms".
Meanwhile, "smart speaker platforms - such as Google and Amazon - will be required by law to ensure access to all licensed UK radio stations, from major national stations to the smallest community stations. Platforms will be banned from charging stations for being hosted on their services or overlaying their own adverts over the top of those stations' programmes".
Elsewhere in the radio domain, "the bill will also reduce regulatory burdens on commercial radio stations, relaxing content and format requirements developed in the 1980s which tie them to commitments to broadcast particular genres of music or to particular age groups. The new regime will give stations more flexibility to update or adapt their services without needing consent from [media regulator] OfCom".
Other TV-focused proposals include "bringing mainstream video-on-demand services consumed in the UK … under a new OfCom content code, to protect audiences from a wider range of harmful material, such as misleading health claims".
Commenting on the proposed bill, the government's Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer says: "Technology has revolutionised the way people enjoy TV and radio. The battle to attract and retain audiences has never been more fierce. British content and production is world leading but changes to viewing habits have put traditional broadcasters under unprecedented pressure".
"These new laws", she reckons, "will level the playing field with global streaming giants, ensuring they meet the same high standards we expect from public service broadcasters and that services like iPlayer and ITVX are easy to find however you watch TV. Our bill will give these brilliant broadcasters and our legendary radio industry the tools to keep doing what they do best - nurturing the creative talent and skills that fuel the UK's booming production industry, whilst making outstanding shows that we can all enjoy".
Welcoming the proposals on behalf of the commercial radio sector, the boss of trade body RadioCentre, Matt Payton, says: "With more radio listening than ever now taking place online and on smart speakers, it's only sensible that the government introduces safeguards for the future that will guarantee consumer choice and support the public value provided by UK radio services".
"The commercial radio sector welcomes this important recognition of the vital role that it plays in the media landscape", he adds. "We're also pleased to see legislation that will finalise commercial radio deregulation, enabling stations to focus on producing great content that listeners want to hear".
Jungle announce new album Volcano
Alongside the announcement, the duo have released new single 'Candle Flame', featuring rapper Erick The Architect, of which they say: "We wanted to create a song that was both personal and relatable, exploring the highs and lows of love and relationships in a way that was both poetic and authentic".
"Working with Erick The Architect was an absolute pleasure and his unique perspective and talent added an extra layer of depth and richness to the track", they go on. "'Candle Flame' represents everything that we stand for as a band - creativity, passion and a commitment to making music that touches the hearts and minds of our fans. We hope that it brings joy and inspiration to all who listen".
Other guests on the album - which is set for release on 11 Aug - include Roots Manuva, Mood Talk, JNR Williams and Bas. Jungle are also set to play London's All Points East festival on 26 Aug.
Watch the video for 'Candle Flame' here.
Island Records founder among this year's Polar Music Prize winners
They will be presented with their prizes and 600,000 Swedish Kroner at a ceremony in Stockholm on 23 May, which will be livestreamed on YouTube if you fancy watching it.
Bigging up this year's winners, the prize's MD Marie Ledin says: "Angélique Kidjo is an inspirational artist, she constantly explores and challenges and is one of the greatest singer-songwriters in international music. We are THRILLED to be recognising her talent and shining a light on her important work with the Batonga Foundation".
"Arvo Pärt is one of the most incredible composers the world has ever seen, and his beautiful music has touched audiences around the globe", she adds. "We are so happy to honour him as part of the 2023 Polar Music Prize".
And, "Chris Blackwell founded and built Island Records into one of the most successful labels in music history", she continues. "He has had a huge influence on the world of music and we are delighted to be able to celebrate this".
Previous recipients of the Polar Music Prize, by the way, include - among others - Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Chuck Berry, Ennio Morricone, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kronos Quartet, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Metallica, Iggy Pop, Ravi Shankar, Renée Fleming, Miriam Makeba, Wayne Shorter and Sofia Gubaidulina.
B2B streaming company Tuned Global has expanded its team with six new hires in the EMEA region, including the appointment of Jonas Norberg as a new Head Of AI. Norberg, who is also the co-founder of Pacemaker, the DJ mixing app recently acquired by Tuned Global, says: "My mission is to get Tuned Global to use its data and other relevant assets in combination with the latest AI developments to strengthen its platform and grow our customers".
Ticketing platform Dice has appointed Katie Soo as Chief Business Officer. "Katie understands how to build global brands", says CEO Phil Hutcheon. "Dice has grown quickly in the past two years and this role consolidates the business initiatives and marketing efforts. It's huge, and I'm very excited to work closely with Katie to achieve the big ambitions we have ahead of us".
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
The UK's Association Of Independent Music has launched its Amplify apprenticeship programme in partnership with Amazon Music, Women in CTRL and All Things People & Talent, with the aim of improving diversity and inclusion in the independent music sector. Apprentices will work with six AIM label members in Label Assistant roles. Nina Radojewski, Head Of Membership at AIM, says: "Launching Amplify is a landmark moment in AIM's ongoing commitment to levelling the playing field for independent music businesses in the UK ... Thanks to the support of Amazon Music, we're also excited that we're able to provide access to funding for independent labels to upskill their workforces and to support their ambitions to develop the women and non-binary artists on their rosters".
EDUCATION & EVENTS
Showcase festival and music conference Sound City has announced a two-year partnership with Universal Music's Virgin Music Artist & Label Services business to support and drive opportunities for young creatives. The collaboration will debut at this year's Sound City event. Sound City's MD Becky Ayres says: "We're delighted to be working with Virgin Music ... It's so exciting that our audiences will be able to learn more about how they work and their diverse and innovative roster of artists".
The Smashing Pumpkins have released new single 'Spellbinding', and confirmed that they will put out the third part of their 'Atum' trilogy of albums on 5 May.
Connie Constance has released a new new version of her song 'Kamikaze', featuring Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods. "I love Connie's energy and message in this track", says Williamson. "Although the initial concept was for me to come in as an additional voice from her perspective, I felt it was disingenuous to present myself as someone with first-hand experience of the patriarchy, so I came at it from the other angle: the male counter, the gatekeeper". Constance has also announced that she will play London's Village Underground on 15 Sep.
Clt Drp have released new single 'New Boy'. Vocalist Annie Dorrett says: "'New Boy' reflects a very manic immediate post-break-up brain. As if I was sitting in therapy desperately trying to figure out why it didn't work. I was switching from hyper-independence to then trying to find love literally anywhere else around me". The band will be touring the UK in May and will release their debut album later this year.
Pozi have released new single 'Pest Control', taken from their new album 'Smiling Pools', which is out on 19 May. They've also announced a UK tour in June, including a performance at the 100 Club in London on 14 Jun.
GIGS & TOURS
140 more acts have been added to the line-up of this year's Great Escape festival, including The Pretenders, Future Utopia, Moonchild Sanelly, Anna B Savage, Petite Noir, Marina Herlop, Albertine Sarges, Debby Friday, Lvra, Deadletter, Donna Thompson and Minor Conflict. Get your delegate pass here.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds have announced UK arena dates in December. Tickets go on sale on Friday. New album 'Council Skies' is out on 2 Jun.
The Walkmen have added more UK and Ireland dates to the two London shows they have scheduled this August. They will play Glasgow, Manchester and Dublin, as well as an extra third show at London's Koko on 31 Aug.
Debby Friday has announced a UK show in May, including a performance at Corsica Studios in London on 3 May. She's also put out the video for her track 'What A Man'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Punk band Private Function press "world's first piss-filled record"
The band announced in a video on Instagram this week that the 50 limited edition 'gold' pressings of their new album '370HSSV 0773H' - already sold out on their Bandcamp profile by that point - were in fact a short run of records all filled with the band's own urine. Nice.
Liquid-filled vinyl is not new. However, according to the band's Chris Penney, no one else has thought to fill those records with urine. Or, at least, they haven't actually done it. And there are a number of reasons for that, most of which he did not detail. Although he did explain why putting piss in a twelve-inch isn't quite as easy as you might think.
"We've done a bunch of experimenting here, because it turns out you can't just put piss into liquid discs, for many reasons", he said. "We needed to find an anti-bacterial solution to kill the piss, otherwise it expands and could break open the records. I do love the idea of the record breaking open and covering your shelves with piss, so I hope that happens at least once. We also needed an acidity regulator, which we found, but it took a while".
This process of experimentation means that the 50 'gold' editions won't be ready to be shipped out when the album is released this Friday. Buyers will have to wait for another month before that happens - and presumably hope that their copy doesn't get crushed under a load of other parcels.
To take your mind off that agonising wait - or just this whole story in its entirety - here's the latest single from the album, 'Jusavinageez'.