|MONDAY 6 DECEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Groups representing artists, songwriters and managers have welcomed the UK government's public confirmation on Friday that it expects the music industry to address the various issues that have been raised about the streaming economy, and its statement that ministers may come out in support of copyright law reforms if solutions are not forthcoming by next September... [READ MORE]|
UK artist and songwriter groups welcome government commitment to music industry reform during Friday's Brennan Bill debate
That confirmation came from the minister responsible for intellectual property - Minister For Science, Research And Innovation, George Freeman - during the Parliamentary debate on the private members bill proposed by Kevin Brennan MP.
That bill was based on recommendations made earlier this year by Parliament's culture select committee - of which Brennan is a member - following its inquiry into the economics of music streaming. It sought to alter the artist/label relationship, based on the argument that many artists have not benefited from the streaming boom because of the way record deals work, and how labels have chosen to interpret old record contracts.
Among other things, the bill proposed to change copyright law so that artists would have statutory rights to renegotiate old record deals and revoke previous rights assignments. It would also have introduced performer equitable remuneration on streaming income, meaning any artists signed to record labels would get some of their digital income through the collective licensing system.
It seemed unlikely that the government would back the bill, given ministers had already said that the copyright reforms recommended by the culture select committee all need more investigation, and with the Intellectual Property Office having already commissioned research on the impact of contract adjustment and copyright reversion rights, and the application of performer ER to streaming. Plus, of course, the Competitions & Market Authority has announced a market study into the digital music sector that will likely focus on the dominance of the majors.
Generally speaking, it's very hard for legislation proposed by back bench MPs in Parliament to get passed without government backing. Supporters of the bill knew this, of course, but nevertheless felt that Brennan's proposals would help maintain momentum around the campaign to change the way streaming works, which mainly seeks to alter how streaming monies are shared out between the various stakeholders in the music community.
During the long debate on Brennan's proposals that took place on Friday, MPs from all sides of the political spectrum expressed support for the bill, showing there is cross-party pressure on the music industry to address the issues campaigners have raised.
Even those on the Conservative side that opposed the bill nevertheless generally acknowledged that there are issues that needed addressing. Many of those MPs cited the various concerns raised by record labels regarding the impact Brennan's proposals would have on their ability to invest in new talent. But they also insisted that they believed Brennan's bill was "well intentioned", and that the challenges artists and songwriters face - which motivated the proposed copyright reforms - were real and needed to be dealt with.
That included Freeman. He confirmed that the government would prefer voluntary industry-led solutions to those challenges, noting that ministers had already convened a committee of music industry representatives - and had commissioned the aforementioned research - to help facilitate such solutions. But, he added, if no solutions were forthcoming by next September, the government could as yet come out in support of the kind of copyright reforms recommended by the select committee and included in Brennan's bill.
As for that bill, it wasn't actually voted down on Friday. However, Brennan didn't manage to force a vote on his proposals during Friday's debate, meaning the bill would need further discussion in the House Of Commons in order to proceed to the next stage, where a committee would be appointed to scrutinise the copyright reforms. And it is very unlikely any time will now be available for that further discussion.
However, for Brennan - and organisations like the Musicians' Union, Ivors Academy, Featured Artists Coalition and Music Managers Forum, as well as the Tom Gray led #brokenrecord campaign - getting the government to publicly demand action from the music industry, with the threat of future copyright reform if it doesn't happen, was a considerable win.
Following the debate on Friday, Brennan himself said: "Although the government has chosen not to back my bill today which would bring copyright law up to date and reform music streaming to the benefit of UK musicians, I am pleased that it has not ruled out legislation and is committed to a programme of research into the issues raised".
"Equitable remuneration for performers is already in effect, or currently being implemented, in territories across Europe, while British creators continue to struggle financially", he went on. "I will continue to push for legislative solutions to make sure that music makers in the UK receive a fairer share of streaming revenues, helping to make the UK the best place in the world to be a musician. I believe that reform is coming even if we may have to wait a little longer than hoped".
Meanwhile, Horace Trubridge, General Secretary of the Musicians' Union, said: "The debate in Parliament demonstrated that support for fixing streaming bridges party divides, and in his speech the minister made it clear that government is open to introducing legislation to reform copyright in the event that the industry doesn’t find a solution voluntarily".
"It's by no means the end of the #fixstreaming campaign. Musicians' Union members along with the Ivors Academy and #brokenrecord have won a select committee inquiry and a referral to the Competition & Markets Authority so far. We look forward to taking an active role in ongoing work led by the IPO which could address issues such as the lack of transparency and fair remuneration in music streaming".
Tom Gray also welcomed the commitment made by government on Friday, reckoning that Brennan's bill has demonstrated that there is popular and cross-party support for artist friendly copyright reforms, therefore shifting the political narrative and shaping future debate, or - if you prefer - "moving the Overton window". He also noted that many in the label community had argued that Brennan's proposals needed more scrutiny backed up by real world data, and then called on labels to make sure that data is now made available.
"We've made clear throughout, this bill had almost no chance of passing, but by engaging our MPs, by engaging the government, we moved the Overton window", he wrote on Twitter. "The industry is on a clock. [And] if [labels are] going to talk about being 'evidence-based', [they are] going to have to provide data instead of bullshit. The government made clear it will legislate if need be. Far from a defeat, we've energised a conversation".
The FAC and MMF also welcomed Friday's debate and the commitments Freeman made during it. The two organisations' CEOs - David Martin and Annabella Coldrick respectively - stated: "Kevin Brennan MP has done a fantastic job of highlighting endemic market failures in the recorded music business. Despite his bill falling at this hurdle, the trajectory towards reform, and the eradication of outdated industry practices, now feels unstoppable - especially now there is public backing for change from the Minister For Science, Research And Innovation".
"The government has delivered a very clear message to major labels, publishers and collecting societies", they went on, "if you don't deliver change, then legislation cannot be ruled out. To these ends, a number of initiatives and forums are already underway, all with the goal of ensuring artists, songwriters, producers and musicians can benefit fairly from the growth in music streaming and any new technologies to come".
Speaking specifically for the songwriting community, Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies added: "Today’s debate of the Brennan Bill is a landmark moment on the path to the inevitable modernisation of the music industry. The government accepted that reform must take place to level-up payments for music makers. It is not a matter of if this reform happens but how. For the UK to be the best place in the world to create music we need to strike a new balance of power between those who innovate and those who invest in music. We take forward Kevin Brennan's work and his call on the government to establish equity in the UK".
From the label side, record industry trade group BPI again set out its objections to Brennan's bill on Friday afternoon, but also insisted that its members had listened to the arguments made before and during the Brennan Bill debate, and that they would engage "positively and proactively" to find solutions for the issues that had been raised.
BPI CEO Geoff Taylor stated: "As many contributions to the debate in Parliament made clear, Mr Brennan's Bill, though well-intentioned, is not the right way forward for British music. The UK's record labels - including hundreds of independents around the country - are committed to supporting their artists' creative vision and building their global audience, so that many more reap the benefits of streaming success".
"The bill's proposals would undermine the essential investment that labels provide, harming new talent and future artists and the long term competitiveness of British music", he went on. "We have listened to the arguments made across the debate and will engage positively and proactively with the process government has put in place to look for joint solutions to ensure the streaming market continues to grow and sustain the careers of many more artists".
Meanwhile, speaking specifically for the independent community, the Association Of Independent Music said that it welcomed Freeman's support for industry-led reform informed by the research the government has already commissioned. Prior to Friday's debate, AIM argued that much more rigorous investigation was needed to assess the pros and cons of the different proposals that have been made to address the various issues with the streaming economy.
AIM wrote in an open letter last Thursday that "we have called repeatedly for urgent analysis and data to properly assess the issues, to make streaming work better for a greater and more diverse range of participants, and a government process is currently underway to deliver just that. The Brennan Bill puts the legislative cart before the data horse and stands to set back improvements in diversity and representation in music by a decade. If it passes, the Brennan Bill risks hurting the very communities that most need help".
Following the debate, AIM CEO Paul Pacifico tweeted: "We stand in solidarity with creators and want to work together for a better music future - good to see the commitment to a robust process to that end by George Freeman in Parliament and we believe the right outcome on the specific proposals in the Brennan Bill today".
And so the debate around how the music streaming business works continues. All eyes now will be on the IPO's research and the CMA's market study, and the proposals that come out of that work and the government convened music industry contact group.
Motion filed to consolidate pre-trial proceedings in the 275+ Astroworld lawsuits
Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Travis Scott's headline set at the Houston festival he founded. A criminal investigation is underway to identify what led to the tragedy, being led by the Houston Police Department, while the civil litigation began mounting up within days of the event, with a stack of lawsuits being filed in courts around Harris County, the county in which Houston is situated.
The lawsuits generally target Scott himself and the festival's promoters, Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary. A number of other defendants are also listed on many of the cases, including NRG Park and ASM, the event's venue and its operator respectively; Apple Music, which was livestreaming the festival; and Drake, who joined Scott on stage while the crowd surge was unfolding.
With so many cases targeting the same defendants - and making very similar allegations about the alleged failings around Astroworld 2021 - it was inevitable that there would be efforts to formally connect the cases, so to reduce the administration associated with them. The motion requesting that that happens was supported by all the key defendants and lawyers representing more than 2500 plaintiffs and potential plaintiffs.
Last week's legal filing noted that: "Movants are aware of 275 lawsuits with more than 1250 plaintiffs that have been filed in each of the 24 different district courts in Harris County. Nearly all of the petitions allege injuries and/or deaths as a result of an incident during a live performance by musician Travis Scott at the Astroworld festival. The lawsuits involve common procedural questions and legal issues. Upon information and belief, including conversations with plaintiffs' counsel, movants expect that the filing of new lawsuits will continue".
It added that: "Transfer of all of these lawsuits to a single pretrial judge for consolidated and coordinated pretrial proceedings will eliminate duplicative discovery, conserve resources of the judiciary, avoid conflicting legal rulings and scheduling, and otherwise promote the just and efficient conduct of all actions".
The motion also proposed which judge should be appointed to oversee all these cases, stating: "There is agreement as to this motion to transfer and stay from both plaintiffs and defendants, and on consolidating the cases before judge Lauren Reeder in the 234th district court of Harris County".
Formally connecting the many Astroworld lawsuits will make it easier for out of court settlement talks to take place. If no such settlement can be reached, it's likely that a small number of the lawsuits would then proceed to court, the outcome of which would likely prompt settlements in all the other cases.
Coalition For App Fairness is not a front for Epic Games, other app makers argue as Apple tries to halt payment link injunction
Epic - like Spotify - claims that Apple's App Store rules are anti-competitive. In particular, it doesn't like the rules which say that all in-app payments must be taken via Apple's commission charging transactions platform, and that alternative ways to pay outside the app cannot be directly linked to.
As part of a wider legal dispute between Apple and Epic over the App Store rules in the Californian courts, the judge overseeing that case issued the injunction ordering Apple to allow all app makers to include links to alternative payment options. That injunction is due to go into force this week.
However, Apple is seeking to get the injunction paused - or 'stayed' - on the basic both it and Epic are appealing the wider judgement in their Californian legal battle. The judge who issued the injunction refused to delay it, which is why the matter is now before the Ninth Circuit appeals court.
Last week, four other app makers and the Coalition For App Fairness sought to intervene in the case via a so called amicus brief, calling on the Ninth Circuit to reject Apple's bid to delay the payment links injunction. That injunction, they argued, was a "vital cure for an extremely harmful and anticompetitive practice".
However, in response Apple argued that the Coalition For App Fairness was an organisation basically controlled by Epic - and that the four other app makers involved in the amicus brief, all also Coalition members, were seeking to intervene at Epic's instruction. Therefore, it said, the appeals court should ignore that intervention.
"CAF was created by Epic, is controlled by Epic, and answers to Epic, as the district court recognised and the trial evidence confirms", Apple wrote in a submission to the court. "CAF's motion is nothing more than an attempt by Epic to file two responses rather than one to Apple's stay motion".
But none of that is true, the CAF and the other app makers named in the amicus brief argued in a subsequent legal filing. They stated: "It is simply untrue that CAF (who, in any event, is only one of five amici here) is singularly controlled by Epic. CAF is an independent organisation with a board of directors charged with making decisions. No single one of its over 60 members carries more authority than any other".
The other app makers also disputed Apple's claim that - because they all run subscription services, which are governed by different App Store rules to things like Fortnite - the injunction wasn't relevant to them anyway.
Actually, they argued, some of the app makers involved in the amicus brief are not entirely subscription based (or, in one case, subscription based at all). Plus, the lower court's injunction "explicitly applies to any app, not just apps that are not strictly subscription fee based".
Stream-ripper Yout says labels still haven't identified the YouTube technical protection measures it is meant to be side-stepping
Yout sued the RIAA last year after the industry organisation sought to have the stream-ripping service de-listed from the Google search engine. The RIAA made that request of Google on the basis that Yout contravenes the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act by circumventing "YouTube's rolling cipher, a technical protection measure, that protects [the labels'] works on YouTube from unauthorised copying [and] downloading".
The original lawsuit got super complicated as it went through the motions and it was ultimately dismissed, but with the option for Yout to file new litigation. Which it did in September. It's that new lawsuit that the RIAA is now also trying to get dismissed, this time with prejudice, so no further litigation can be filed in the future.
At the core of the dispute is whether or not Yout actually circumvents any technical protection measures put in place by YouTube when it helps people to grab permanent copies of temporary streams from the Google-owned video site.
Yout argues that you can actually grab copies of YouTube streams via a web browser if you know what you are doing, and all its technology does is automate that process. With that in mind, it claims, there aren't any technical protection measures in place to stop stream-ripping, and therefore it can't be circumventing any such measures in violation of the DMCA.
In its motion to dismiss in October, the RIAA argued that Yout hadn't provided enough information about how its stream-ripping system actually works, and without that information it hadn't demonstrated that it doesn't circumvent any technical protection measures. But for its part, Yout argues that the RIAA hasn't properly identified what technical protection measures are actually employed by YouTube that its technology could be side-stepping.
The RIAA also noted in its most recent filing that the manual process for stream-ripping through a browser described in Yout's new lawsuit was very complicated. But, Yout argues back, "just because a process is complicated does not indicate that there is a technological protection measure that was 'installed to prevent them from accessing the copyrighted material'".
And, Yout claims, not only have the RIAA failed to identify the YouTube technical protection measures it is circumventing, but its references to such measures in its legal filings have actually become more vague as this dispute has progressed.
"The RIAA does not identify what those TPMs are exactly", last week's legal filing states. "It is Yout's position, however, that there simply aren't any and that the RIAA's increasing lack of specificity across its submissions to this court speak to that fact".
It remains to be seen who the court reckons should be more precise in the next phase of this dispute. Is it for Yout to provide more detail about how its technology works, so to prove no technical protection measures are side-stepped? Or should the labels provide more detail about what technical protection measures they believe are being circumvented? Or maybe both.
We shall see.
41% of British people listening to podcasts on at least a monthly basis
Based on a survey of 1000 people, Edison Research estimates that 71% of people in the UK are familiar with the wonderful world of podcasts, while 59% have listened to at least one podcast programme at some point.
In terms of regular podcast consumption, not only have 41% of people listened to a podcast in the last month, but 25% have tuned in to at least one podcast in the last week. That is similar to podcast consumption rates in the US, the researchers note, although it's estimated that 29% of Americans listen to podcasts on a weekly basis.
Beyond podcasting, Edison Research says that 75% of British people over the age of sixteen engage with online audio of some description each month, with 66% tuning in at least once a week. As for the devices they are using for that online audio consumption, well, 25% of the population have a smart speaker.
Head Of Studios at Spotify UK and Ireland, James Cator, says of the research: "The first 'Infinite Dial' report for the UK is a clear demonstration that consumers' habits when it comes to audio consumption have changed rapidly, and are continuing to do so. As the UK's most popular audio platform, Spotify is a key part of driving and delivering this change - as we're seeing in podcast consumption in particular".
Meanwhile Bauer COO Graham Bryce notes what advertisers can learn from the stats, adding: "The 'Infinite Dial' research offers a unique insight into the consumption of digital media in the UK and highlights the growing opportunity audio provides commercial partners as a transparent and brand safe environment combined with data-led digital audio advertising at scale".
BBC Sound Of 2022 longlist announced
"This year's Sound Of list will go down as one of the greats; a rich and diverse representation of genres, a great year for British and female artists", says Chris Price, Head Of Music for Radio 1. "I'm [also] delighted to report that all ten acts have had significant support from Radio 1, many of them as alumni of our own Brit List".
The full list is:
Find out more about all ten artists and the poll itself on the BBC website.
MOBOs handed out to Dave, Little Simz, Ghetts and more
Dave took home the Album Of The Year prize for his second album 'We're All Alone In This Together'. Meanwhile Ghetts was named Best Male Act and Little Simz Best Female. Multiple winners were Wizkid - who took Best International Act and Best African Music Act - and Central Cee - who won Best Newcomer and Best Drill Act.
A highlight show will air on BBC One on 8 Dec at 10.35pm.
Here's the full list of winners:
Album Of The Year: Dave - We're All Alone In This Together
Song Of The Year: Tion Wayne & Russ Millions - Body 2 (feat Arrdee, Bugzy Malone, Buni, Darkoo, E1, Fivions Foreign and ZT)
Video Of The Year: M1llionz - Lagga
Best Performance In A TV Show/Film: Michael Ward as Franklyn in 'Small Axe'
Best Female Act: Little Simz
Best Male Act: Ghetts
Best Newcomer: Central Cee
Best Grime Act: Skepta
Best RR&B/Soul Act: Cleo Sol
Best Hip Hop Act: D Block Europe
Best Drill Act: Central Cee
Best International Act: Wizkid
Best Gospel Act: Guvna B
Best African Music Act: Wikid
Best Reggae Act: Shenseea
Best Jazz Act: Sons Of Kemet
Best Producer: Jae5
Best Media Personality: Chunkz & Yung Filly
Like you, Prince William prepares for the week ahead by listening to AC/DC
P Willo makes the comment in his contribution to Apple's Time To Walk series - the tech giant's podcast/workout hybrid for Fitness+ subscribers. The 38 minute monologue, interspersed with musical selections, was recorded on a stroll around the Queen's Sandringham estate.
"There's nothing better than, on a Monday morning, when you're a bit bleary-eyed after the weekend and trying to get yourself back into the grind of the week, listening to AC/DC 'Thunderstruck'", he says, towards the end of the monologue.
"I have to say the first time I put it on, and I've heard it a million times now, I was kind of, like, 'Well, this is quite heavy for a Monday morning", he adds. "But now, when I listen to it, it's the best tonic for a Monday morning. It absolutely wakes you up, puts your week in the best mood possible, and you feel like you can take on anything and anyone".
He warns unsuspecting listeners that the song is likely to make them "walk quite fast", while all "the headbanging" might add "a skip in your step". It is, he says, "a difficult song not to dance to or to nod along to".
That's our future king, ladies and gentlemen. And I wholeheartedly endorse his proposal to update the national anthem to 'Thunderstruck'. I assume that's what that was. His other musical choices, by the way, were Shakira's 'Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)' and 'The Best' by Tina Turner. The latter would actually be a funnier national anthem, now I think about it.