MONDAY 1 MARCH 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The music industry has urged UK Chancellor of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak to use his new budget announcement this week to ensure that the live music sector can thrive if, as it is hoped, gigs and festivals are allowed to return this summer. In particular, there are renewed calls for a government-backed insurance scheme, so that live events can be confident that they will not lose out if cancellations are forced by any new COVID restrictions later in the year... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Live music industry calls for support in new UK budget, including previously rejected and "desperately needed" insurance scheme
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LEGAL 6ix9ine accused of injuring woman with thrown champagne bottle
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS US record industry saw 9.2% revenue growth during COVID year
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LIVE BUSINESS Music Venue Trust names six more music venues at immediate risk of closure
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Dissecting The Streaming Inquiry Extra Edition: More from the majors
Hundreds of K-pop acts removed from Spotify

Apple Music adds new songwriter-centric portal

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AND FINALLY... Katy Perry, J Balvin and more to contribute to Pokémon 25th anniversary compilation
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Tuesday 16 Mar 2021 | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
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The global record industry continues to grow on the back of the streaming boom, though challenges remain in the streaming business. We outline and explain all the key challenges, and suggest what solutions may be employed by the services and the music industry.
STREAMING EXPLAINED - DIGITAL MUSIC IN EMERGING MARKETS
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Markets like China, India, Russia, South Korea and Brazil have played a key role in the revival of the record industry's fortunes, while markets in Africa are set to become increasingly important in the years ahead. Which services and what models dominate in these countries?
 
STREAMING EXPLAINED - SAFE HARBOUR AND THE VALUE GAP
Tuesday 20 Apr 2021 | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
The music industry went to war with YouTube over safe harbour and the value gap. What does that even mean? And who is winning the battle? We look at 2019's controversial European Copyright Directive and what impact it will - or will not - have, and whether those reforms can - or will - be adopted by the US. Plot twist: maybe YouTube wasn't even the real problem.
Navigate and understand the music business with guides and reports from CMU...
Artist And Songwriter Rights In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the rights artists and songwriters enjoy over their music
Music Rights Data In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to music rights data, data standards and databases
Music Industry Basics In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to all the different strands of the modern music industry
Streaming Challenges In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the challenges facing the streaming business in 2020
Collective Licensing In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the collective licensing system
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Live music industry calls for support in new UK budget, including previously rejected and "desperately needed" insurance scheme
The music industry has urged UK Chancellor of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak to use his new budget announcement this week to ensure that the live music sector can thrive if, as it is hoped, gigs and festivals are allowed to return this summer. In particular, there are renewed calls for a government-backed insurance scheme, so that live events can be confident that they will not lose out if cancellations are forced by any new COVID restrictions later in the year.

A number of organisations have again stressed the importance of such an insurance scheme, after it was confirmed last week that this idea had previously been rejected by ministers.

Leading the calls for the government to reconsider, chair of Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee, Julian Knight MP, says: "The Treasury rejected our earlier call for a government-backed insurance scheme that would have provided a safety net for festivals to go ahead, saying the time was not right. While we've seen welcome news for fans that the Reading and Leeds festivals will happen, the rest of the sector needs more than a roadmap to give them the confidence it takes to get events underway. For some, like Glastonbury, it's already too late".

He continues: "We're calling on the Chancellor to review that decision now that the government has a better sense of the road to recovery. There's still time ahead of [the] budget to give the festivals' industry, which makes a significant contribution to the economy, the helping hand it needs".

That call has been echoed by the Association Of Independent Festivals, which says that 92.5% of its members have said that their events will not go ahead without such insurance. It notes that for an event taking place in early July, 40% of costs would need to be paid by mid-June. With an average cost of over £6 million for its members' events, that is a sizeable chunk of money to risk if there is any chance of an uninsured cancellation.

AIF notes that Germany, Austria, Norway and the Netherlands have all launched government-backed insurance schemes like the one that is now being called for.

The organisation is also urging Sunak to extend the 5% VAT rate that currently applies to ticket sales. It says that while that rate was introduced, dropping it from 20%, as part of COVID support efforts back in July last year, festivals are only now being able to take advantage of it, as they announce plans to put on events this year.

Referencing the schedule for lifting COVID restrictions in England announced by UK Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson last week - and the subsequent uplift in festival ticket sales - AIF CEO Paul Reed says: "The Prime Minister has set out a roadmap and a 'no earlier than' date for festivals, and audiences have responded, demonstrating a huge appetite to be back in the fields this summer. But we need government interventions on insurance and VAT before the end of this month when festivals will need to decide whether they can commit to serious amounts of upfront capital".

"Now that we have a 'no earlier than' date, insurance is the last remaining barrier to planning", he goes on. "We know that government is aware of the insurance issue and AIF has provided evidence and data to support the case. Having injected huge consumer confidence, government should intervene at this stage and ensure that our culture-defining independent festivals can mobilise and plan for this summer. With the cut-off point for many organisers at the end of the month, this really is the final countdown for many businesses".

Cross-sector trade body UK Music, meanwhile, has published a three-point plan outlining what it says are necessary moves by Sunak to ensure that the live music industry at large can play its part in "driving the post-pandemic economic recovery".

First, it says that existing support initiatives should be extended, including the furlough and job support schemes for employers and the self-employed, the current business rate relief, the aforementioned 5% VAT rate on ticket sales, and the sector-specific grants and loans made available to creative businesses via the Cultural Recovery Fund.

Secondly, its plan also calls for a "desperately needed" government-backed insurance scheme so that organisers can begin planning summer events knowing that there is a safety net if they do not go ahead. And finally, it says that the government should provide more support for UK music exports, including boosting the existing Music Export Growth Scheme and launching a music export office.

"Everyone is determined to deliver the truly memorable musical celebration that we all need as we emerge from the terrible impact of COVID-19", says UK Music chief exec Jamie Njoku-Goodwin. "We want the Chancellor to use his budget to deliver the best of British sounds this summer and ensure live music is back to lift our spirits and help drive the post-pandemic recovery".

Commenting on that need for an insurance scheme, he goes on: "We must have a government-backed insurance scheme so event organisers can plan with certainty and avoid financial ruin if COVID-19 forces fresh cancellations. With no insurance available, the risk of putting on events in June and July will be too great for many organisers to bear".

"If we fail to follow other governments that are offering insurance schemes to safeguard live music and events, the UK runs the risk of standing at the side of the dancefloor as other nations party through the summer", he concludes.

Meanwhile, turning attention fully to brick and mortar venues, the Night Time Industries Association has called for support to ensure the survival of all clubs, bars and venues in this budget.

"It is clear the Chancellor has an extremely difficult job in balancing the budget between regeneration and recuperation", says NTIA CEO Michael Kill. "We would urge the government to consider some of the hardest hit industries, many of which have been unable to trade at all for over twelve months. These businesses and individuals have continued to be excluded from a government provision, and require proportionate and specific support, not broad brush provision to survive this very difficult period leading to re-engagement".

Whether Sunak and the government will heed any of this remains to be seen. The budget is due to be announced on Wednesday.

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6ix9ine accused of injuring woman with thrown champagne bottle
6ix9ine has been sued by a woman who claims that he accidentally hit her in the head with a champagne bottle. Although only "accidentally" in that said bottle was allegedly meant to hit someone else.

The alleged incident took place at the Gold Rush strip club in Miami last month, where the woman behind the litigation, Alexis Salaberrios, was working as a stripper. In a lawsuit, she accuses the rapper of throwing a "deadly object with intent to commit serious bodily injury".

Salaberrios's attorney, David M Tarlow, confirmed to TMZ that the object was a champagne bottle. It was thrown, it's claimed, with the intention of hitting someone who had criticised the rapper for testifying against other members of the Nine Trey Bloods street gang in New York. He did so back in 2019, in order to secure a more lenient prison sentence for himself when found guilty of various crimes back.

As well as 6ix9ine, Salaberrios is also suing Gold Rush, claiming that the club did not provide adequate security around the rapper, considering his "propensity for violence". She also says that venue staff urged her not to call the police, although due to her injuries - which required hospital treatment - she did so anyway.

Lance Lazzaro, 6ix9ine's attorney, has claimed that the lawsuit is simply an attempt to extort money from his client, telling TMZ that the rapper was not involved in the incident. He added: "There are video cameras in the establishment. It's an attempt to shake him down. If he is served properly, we will immediately move to have [the lawsuit] dismissed".

6ix9ine secured an early release from jail in April last year over fears that his severe asthma could leave him seriously ill if he contracted COVID-19 from another prisoner. At the time he said he planned to use his freedom (albeit initially under house arrest) to "inspire the youth that it's never too late to change" and be a better person.

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US record industry saw 9.2% revenue growth during COVID year
If you're looking for more figures to confirm that, while the music business at large had its most challenging year in history, the record industry was still very much in growth mode throughout 2020, look no further than the latest stats pack from the Recording Industry Association Of America.

Recorded music revenues in the world's biggest recorded music market grew 9.2% over 2020 reaching an estimated retail value of $12.2 billion. It was the US record industry's fifth consecutive year of growth, led - of course - by the ongoing streaming boom.

That said, RIAA boss Mitch Glazier - in his accompanying blog post - remembers to keep his stat bragging to the minimum, knowing that plenty of artists, songwriters and music companies outside the digital music sector are still facing significant hardships as the COVID shutdown extends.

"The necessary cancellation of most live performances has deeply impacted artists and so many other music professionals - from touring musicians to road crews to supporting businesses like catering, trucking and promotion - and left scores of landmark venues on the brink of collapse", he writes. "COVID-19 restrictions challenged the newly resurgent retail record store business with occupancy caps and closures nationwide".

While the record industry was much less impacted by COVID than all the other strands of the music business, Glazier says his organisation's members have done their bit to help the wider community. "I'm proud of all that our members have done to help the music community and our American family weather this historic crisis", he says. "Labels have provided direct financial support to employees and artists in need and, turning outward, have done everything from delivering personal protective equipment to health care heroes, to funding relief programmes".

"As the crises deepened and stretched on", he continues, "we've stood shoulder to shoulder with virtually every segment of our industry, including by fighting to ensure artists and songwriters were included in support and relief programmes, to save live music venues that are central to our nation's culture and our community's economy, and provide resources like MusicCovidRelief.com with critical information on benefits, grants and other relief available to America's artists, songwriters and other music professionals".

With all that said, what about all these positive digital music stats? Streaming now accounts for 83% of US recorded music revenues, though that category covers a wide range of services. As well as free and premium streaming platforms, also in the streaming category are user-generated content and video-sharing apps, and online and satellite radio services, including those who pay royalties via the US collecting society Sound Exchange.

Glazier notes the diversifying digital music market, and that monies from social media like Facebook/Instagram and fitness app Peloton are also now helping streaming revenues - and therefore the record industry at large - to continue to boom. Though, he adds, premium subscriptions still remain the biggest revenue generator overall.

"In 2020, paid subscriptions grew 15% to $7.7 billion, making up almost two thirds of total recorded music revenues", he writes. "Combined, paid streaming services added more US subscriptions in 2020 than in any previous year".

"That paradigm shift explains why record companies today are so determined and vigilant in fighting to ensure that the platforms that use music - and profit from its use - take a licence and pay for it - standing up for a core first principle that creators should be fairly paid everywhere their work is used and reflecting consumers' fundamental agreement with that principle".

In case you wondered who is the target in that remark there - ie who are these platforms still using and profiting from music without properly licensing it - well, Glazier names and shames Twitter and Triller. The latter's inclusion is interesting in that it had been working with all three majors, until Universal Music bailed on the platform last month accusing the Triller company of "shamefully withholding payments owed to our artists and refusing to negotiate a licence going forward".

Beyond streaming, the US record industry's other revenues are made up of physical products (9%), downloads (6%) and sync (2%). While estimated retail revenues were up 9.2% to $12.2 billion, estimated wholesale revenues - ie what was collectively received by the labels, distributors and artists - were up 8.9% to $8 billion.

"Most Americans couldn't be more ready to turn the page from 2020 into a new year as vaccines promise recovery, renewal, and hope", Glazier concludes. "For performing artists and musicians, getting back on stage and reconnecting with audiences and fans simply cannot come too soon".

"And while today's release provides a bright spot for creators and describes a vital and growing streaming ecosystem for everyone with a stake in it, there's a long way to go before we reach the far side of the COVID-19 calamity. As a music industry - as a united community - the work of recovery, rebuilding, and relief must and will continue".

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Music Venue Trust names six more music venues at immediate risk of closure
The Music Venue Trust has removed Pop in Hyde from its list of grassroots music venues at immediate risk of permanent closure. Although, before you start celebrating, the trade body has also added a further six venues to that list, and fourteen of the original 30 announced last November remain.

Newly added to the critical list as the COVID shutdown further extends are The Black Heart and The Fiddlers Elbow in Camden, Stage and Radio in Manchester, Legends Live Lounge in Oldham, The Cobblestones in Bridgwater and Y Llew Coch in Macynlleth.

"The crisis is nearing its final lap but we need to make sure these venues finish the race", says MVT CEO Mark Davyd. "With the support of artists and audiences, we have fought our way through the last eleven months venue by venue, case by case, trying to make sure that we are able to re-open every venue safely. These six newly highlighted venues need urgent help, and we still have fourteen venues that were on our original red list that we can't yet guarantee will survive to bring live music back to our communities. We are completely determined that they will".

The other fourteen venues that remain at risk are: Alchemy in Croydon; Beehive Jazz in Kingston Upon Hull; Boom in Leeds; Dryad Works in Sheffield; Egg, Spiritual Bar, The Lexington, The Post Bar, The Waiting Room and The Windmill in London; The 1865 in Southampton; The Hot Tin in Faversham; The Venue in Derby; and Venue 38 in Ayr.

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Dissecting The Streaming Inquiry Extra Edition: More from the majors
As reps for the streaming services answered the questions of MPs as part of Parliament's ongoing inquiry into the economics of streaming last week, the culture select committee also published written submissions recently received from all three major record companies.

The UK heads of Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music answered the questions of MPs in person back in January, of course, in what was definitely the most notable of the oral hearings. The written submissions respond to an assortment of questions MPs still wanted answered in the wake of that oral session.

The questions cover topics like the investments the majors make into new music and new talent; how royalty and recoupment clauses usually work in record and distribution contracts; how many streams artists need to go into profit; and the impact of the termination right in US copyright law on British record contracts.

Though the answers to those questions mainly summarise what we already knew about how the majors work with their artists, and the kind of investments those companies claim to make.

Perhaps more interesting, therefore, were the three companies' respective comments regarding the proposal that performer equitable remuneration be paid on streams, and that streaming monies be allocated to individual tracks on a user-centric rather than service-centric basis.

Both could well be recommendations made by the select committee at the end of this inquiry. We know that the majors oppose Performer ER on streams, but it's interesting to see their rationale for that position. And on user-centric, the position of the major players has been less clear cut of late.

Performer ER, of course, is currently paid on broadcast and public performance income. It means that, in those scenarios, any performer who appears on a recording, including session musicians, have a statutory right to payment at industry standard rates, oblivious of any deal they may or may not have with whoever owns the copyright in that recording, which was traditionally a label.

The performer's ER payments flow through the collective licensing system, which means it is administered by PPL in the UK.

This system does not currently apply to streaming income in the UK, nor in other markets, with just a couple of exceptions. However, a number of people presenting as part of the inquiry have proposed that paying ER on streams would overcome various issues with the current streaming model.

That includes new artists not seeing any streaming royalties because they haven't recouped on their record deals yet; legacy artists receiving below market standard streaming royalty rates because of old record contracts; and session musicians not earning any royalties from streams at all, even though the ongoing streaming boom will likely result in the radio industry - and therefore broadcast revenues - ultimately peaking.

It's because of the proposal that ER be paid on streams that so much time has been spent by MPs discussing whether or not a stream is more like a broadcast (aka a communication) or a rental of music. Under current UK copyright law, ER is due when the performance, communication or rental elements of the copyright are exploited. But not when the reproduction, distribution, adaptation or making available elements are in play.

The labels insist that a stream exploits the so called making available element of the copyright instead of communication or rental, which is why ER isn't due. And all three majors restate this position in their new submissions.

"In the streaming world you can access any song on that service at the time and place of your choosing and you can skip, pause or cancel any stream you receive", says Sony. "Accordingly, streaming clearly falls within the legal definition of the making available right. Broadcasts do not afford any interactivity to the end user because the user cannot influence the transmission of the music which can be listened to at a given time; he or she can only choose to turn off the station if the piece broadcast is not to his or her liking".

"On streaming services, a sound recording is made available to the consumer electronically in a way that they can choose which track to listen to, when to start listening to it, whether to listen to the whole song, skip it, pause it, rewind it, or save it and re-listen to it", writes Universal, also basically taking the legal definition of making available and applying it to the streaming experience.

"The reason for introducing the exclusive making available right at the international level in the first place was to ensure that rights-holders can authorise online uses that have the same commercial effect as the distribution of copies in the off-line world", Universal goes on. "The making available right as expressed in the treaties and implemented in national laws reflect that intention".

"Because of its interactive nature, streaming clearly falls within the definition of the 'making available' right", adds Warner. "From the perspective of the user's experience, the making available right is essentially the internet age form of what was previously a sale".

That latter point actually takes the argument beyond just the ER debate, justifying why - when old record deals make a distinction between sales income and licensing income, paying a lower royalty on the former - labels have treated streaming as a sale for royalty purposes.

But for all the time spent by MPs in this inquiry trying to define a stream so that it could qualify for ER under existing UK copyright rules, what if Parliament just changed the law to pay ER on making available in general, or specifically for streams? However things are technically defined, the performers would then be due at least some payment directly via the collective licensing system.

"If streaming was treated as broadcast and artists received direct a material share of the fees payable", Sony argues, "the balance payable to the label would not be sufficient to maintain investment in new signing, A&R and marketing and so would materially reduce the opportunity to mitigate its risk on the majority of signings which do not succeed and in respect of which we are unable to break even".

Now, while it's been repeatedly proposed that ER be paid on streams during this inquiry, there has been little debate - in the oral sessions at least - regarding what ER on streams would actually involve. With broadcast and public performance, any monies generated by the recording are split 50/50 between copyright owners and performers. So would that system just be applied to streaming? If so, that's a significant re-slicing of the pie, hence Sony's concerns.

However - on the songs side in the UK - it's deemed that a stream is 50% reproduction and 50% communication/making available. Applying that to recordings might mean half the money is split 50/50 and the other half is split according to each artist's record contract. Meanwhile, in Spain, where there is already a form of ER on streams, the performers' collecting society negotiates is own royalty on top of what the labels receive, likely equalling a few percent of the total pot at most.

There's also the question of exactly how ER would be managed, and quite what role the collective licensing system would play. Both Sony and Warner argue that if the licensing of streaming services moved towards a collective licensing model - rather than every label and distributor negotiating their own deals - there is a risk that the total amount earned by the record industry would go down.

"If streaming was treated as a broadcast and equitable remuneration applied, then this would be administered by collective licensing", Sony writes. "Because of the restrictions placed upon collective licensing - making it significantly harder for [societies] to 'walk away' from a negotiation, and deferral to the copyright tribunal if there is a dispute - it is generally accepted that the rates that would be payable under a collective licensing regime would be significantly less than those that would be negotiated by the labels direct, where we can choose to license or not license our catalogue, or specific recordings, if necessary".

"Accordingly, whilst the artist may receive a bigger share under that regime, it would be a bigger share of a much smaller pie", it goes on "which would also further reduce the label's ability to invest in new artists. By way of example, in the UK broadcasters pay approximately 4% of their revenue to PPL for distribution to rights-holders and performers, whereas with direct licensing DSPs pay approximately 55% of their revenue to recorded music holders".

That said, a shift to ER wouldn't necessarily mean a total shift to collective licensing for streams. Under the UK system, a performer's right to an ER payment is actually enforceable against the copyright owner rather than the user of music, so the label not the streaming service.

Therefore, it's conceivable that a system could be put in place whereby labels and distributors continue to directly negotiate deals with the streaming services, but then a portion of the money those deals generate is collected by PPL and paid directly to performers. A similar system already exists on the songs side, where some music publishers do direct deals, but a portion of the writer's share of that money is still paid via their collecting society PRS.

That would admittedly be quite a complicated system to implement. Indeed, applying ER to streams - whatever system you go for - is much more complicated than it first seems, and could result in inefficiencies, especially once you go global. This means any serious proposal that ER be applied to streams would really require some in-depth investigation first into how, exactly, it might work.

Quite how shifting over to a user-centric system for allocating monies to individual tracks would work also probably requires some in-depth investigation. Although, in that domain, that investigative work has already begun. However, the majors say, they now need time to investigate the outcome of that investigation.

"About one week after oral evidence, France's Centre National De La Musique issued what is the most detailed analysis of user-centric pricing to date", Universal writes in its new submission. "We are carefully reviewing it. Some of this report's findings raise important questions about whether the bulk of artists would benefit materially and whether some artists and musical genres would be harmed".

All three majors insist that they are up for considering alternative ways of allocating streaming revenues to individual tracks, given that such alternative approaches wouldn't really impact on the total amount of money flowing into the record industry each month.

Although the majors also hone in on that French report, and its conclusion that shifting to user-centric wouldn't have that big an impact on most artists. With that in mind, the majors question whether it is worth the upheaval and cost of shifting to a different model.

"We are agnostic as to whether a user-centric model is employed as it is not meant to change the pool of money available to the labels/artists", Sony insists. "However, due to the practical implications of such change for various stakeholders, we think it would require thorough and concerted impact assessments in order to establish an industry-wide support".

Interestingly Warner is probably the most critical of user-centric in the new submissions. That's interesting, of course, because Warner's majority owner Access Industries is also a key shareholder in Deezer, the streaming service that has been busy promoting the user-centric approach.

"We have explored the concept of a user-centric model and have frequent conversations with digital services about it", says the Warner submission. "It is always our goal to ensure that any business model implemented is reliable, fair, transparent, and underpinned by accurate data for artists and rights-holders. A user-centric model would not change the overall royalty pool and our analysis suggests that any changes in the allocation of payments to artists would not be significant".

"A user-centric model would be far more complex and administratively burdensome for digital services to implement as it would require a tremendous amount of data – it is likely that digital services would want to pass off some of the associated costs to rights-holders and therefore to artists", it adds. "In addition, implementing a user-centric model would be very difficult because it would require all of the licensors to a digital service to modify their licence agreements".

Also citing the French report, it goes on: "The study found that 'beyond the 10,000th most streamed artists, all musical genres combined, the impact of the transition to the [user-centric model] would be a maximum of a few euros per year on average per artist'. The study also acknowledged the significant costs involved, which smaller digital services may not be able to absorb".

And there you have it. You can follow all our coverage of the inquiry into the economics of streaming via this CMU timeline here.

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Hundreds of K-pop acts removed from Spotify
Music by hundreds of K-pop artists has been removed from Spotify worldwide, after its licence with South Korean distributor Kakao M expired yesterday.

Although some bigger name artists such as BTS, Blackpink and Twice are unaffected, many well-known acts from the genre have seen some or all of their music completely disappear from the streaming service. Kakao M represents a significant portion of South Korean pop releases, as shown by these lengthy lists of affected artists compiled by fans.

When Spotify launched in South Korea itself earlier this year, it did so without Kakao M's catalogue being available in its home market. The distribution company told local media that it was "still talking with Spotify" about doing a licensing deal specifically for the use of its music in South Korea. However, the latest development relates to Kakao M's existing licence that covered the rest of the world, and which was up for renewal.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Spotify says: "We have been working with Kakao M over the last year and a half to renew the global licensing agreement, so that their artists' music would remain available to Spotify's 345 million+ listeners in nearly 170 markets around the world. Despite our best efforts, the existing licensing deal we had with Kakao M - which covered all countries other than South Korea - has come to an end".

"The fact that we have not yet reached agreement on a new global deal is unfortunate for their artists, as well as for fans and listeners worldwide", they go on. "It is our hope that this disruption will be temporary and we can resolve the situation soon. We remain committed to working with local rights holders, including Kakao M, to help grow the Korean music market and overall streaming ecosystem together".

But according to Kakao M, its global deal not renewing is, in fact, linked to the ongoing talks regarding a licence covering South Korea. It says: "Unrelated to our pre-existing global licensing agreement with Spotify, Kakao M has been separately negotiating with Spotify regarding a domestic contract for the supply of music ... We separately received notice of the expiration of our [global] licence on 28 Feb, and we requested a renewal of our existing global contract".

"Due to Spotify's policy that they must proceed with the domestic and global contracts at the same time, our global contract has currently expired", the company goes on. "We are currently continuing our negotiations about the supply of music".

One of the acts affected is Epik High, whose latest album, 'Epik High Is Here (Part 1)', which came out in January, has been removed.

Commenting on Twitter, band leader Tablo wrote: "Apparently a disagreement between our distributor Kakao M and Spotify has made our new album 'Epik High Is Here' unavailable globally against our will. Regardless of who is at fault, why is it always the artists and the fans that suffer when businesses place greed over art?"

Other affected artists include rapper and former 2NE1 member CL, whose Spotify profile now only features a handful of singles, mainly from early on in her solo career. However, somewhat fortunately, her new single, 'Wish You Were Here', which came out last week, remains streamable.

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Apple Music adds new songwriter-centric portal
Apple Music last week launched a new portal within its app putting the spotlight on songwriters, producers and session musicians. Behind The Songs collates playlists, videos and radio shows that celebrate those working behind the scenes in the music-making process, encouraging people to discover, search and stream tracks based on writer, producer or musician.

It's the latest innovation by a streaming service seeking to better highlight the work of behind-the-scenes music-makers. Most streaming apps were initially built, of course, with the assumption that users would mainly search by track or album title, or main artist name. Though that was partly because, until recently, the streaming services didn't really have much data about all the other music-makers involved in the creation of any one song or recording.

Spotify also has its songwriter-centric pages and initiatives, of course. And it also recently launched a specific behind the scenes hub for songwriters called Notable, providing easier access for writers to its various schemes, as well as data and educational content.

Although Apple's tools for songwriters are not yet as expansive as Spotify's, it nevertheless arguably enjoys a better relationship with the songwriter community than its rival. Because it turns out, while songwriters do want credits and pages and data, what they like most is streaming services not fighting US Copyright Royalty Board rulings that increase their royalty payments.

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Katy Perry, J Balvin and more to contribute to Pokémon 25th anniversary compilation
Following Post Malone's virtual concert to celebrate the 25th birthday of Pokémon on Saturday, it has now been announced that a whole load of other Universal-signed artists will contribute to a new album also marking said anniversary. Artists creating new tracks for the release include Katy Perry, J Balvin, with more to be announced in the coming months.

"Ah, now", you're probably thinking, "I know that as well as playing that special show this weekend, Post Malone also released a new single to mark the big Pokémon anniversary". And yes, aren't you just right on top of everything? He did.

He released a cover of Hootie And The Blowfish's 'Only Wanna Be With You'. The significance of that song wasn't really clear when Malone's cover was announced. While it was out when Pokémon launched in 1996, it had been around for a while already and rather than riding high in the charts at the time of the gaming franchise's first release, it was actually on its way out.

But if everyone on this compilation is going to cover songs that were new (or newish) 25 years ago, then that choice would kinda make sense. So, it's good news for people who don't like it when things kinda make sense, because - while Post Malone's cover will be on the album - everyone else will be recording new songs for the record that are somehow "inspired by" Pokémon.

Maybe Katy Perry will record a song in the style of lead character Pikachu - whose entire language consists only of the word "pikachu" said in different ways. That might seem like an odd suggestion, but she does have form in this area. Back in 2008, she recorded a version of her song 'Hot N Cold' in 'The Sims' video game's nonsense language Simlish. Although, this video from back in January suggests that if she does release a single-word song, that word will actually be "electric".

For now, we can only speculate, because very limited information about this project has been released so far. Perry didn't even contribute a quote for the announcement. That was left up to J Balvin.

"Pokémon is pulling out all the stops for P25 Music, and I'm THRILLED to join the programme as one of its premiere collaborators", he says. "I'm looking forward to adding my own unique flavour to this huge Pokémon party and adding more good vibes to the celebration".

P25 Music is the name given to Pokémon's entire music activity around its 25th anniversary, by the way. The album will be called 'Pokémon 25: The Album' and is set to be released through Universal at some point in the autumn. If you're worried you're going to forget, you can pre-save it on Spotify now.

You can't hear any more music from the album yet, but you can watch Post Malone's Pokémon concert here, in which he (or at least a CGI representation of him) performs his Hootie And The Blowfish cover remixed with the 'Ecruteak City' theme from 'Pokémon Gold And Silver'. You know, if that's the sort of thing you'd like to watch.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY.
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Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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