|THURSDAY 25 JULY 2019
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Vivendi is expected to appoint several investment banks later today to begin work on the long expected sale of a slice of the Universal Music Group. The French conglom confirmed a year ago that it was seeking a "strategic partner" to buy into its music business... [READ MORE]
Bankers to be appointed for Vivendi's sale of Universal Music stake
More recently Vivendi Chair Yannick Bollore confirmed that a sale of some of Universal was still the plan, though he insisted the company was in no rush to do a deal and therefore had time to find the right partner. He also insisted that Vivendi wasn't planning to "spin off" its music division, saying that it simply wanted a new partner to come to the table to help it capitalise on the recent revival of the recorded music market.
There has been much speculation, of course, as to who the possible bidders could be, ie who is interested in buying up to half of the Universal music company. And also over just how big a valuation the music firm could get in any such deal. The mega-major is the world's biggest record company, of course, and the biggest music merchandiser and second biggest music publisher. It also dabbles in other aspects of the music business in some markets.
Some have suggested that the full Universal Music Group could be worth more than 40 billion euros. Although the fact that the recent boom in music rights income has been fuelled by mainly loss-making streaming services; and that the power of the labels and especially publishers when signing new artist deals is declining; and some test cases involving the termination right in American copyright law, could all impact on any actual valuation.
In that recent interview, Bollore confirmed that Vivendi hoped to have the formal bidding process underway this year. It's now Reuters which is citing sources saying the bankers who will lead that process will be confirmed imminently.
Key stream-ripping site voluntarily disables YouTube ripping
Stream-ripping has been, of course, the music industry's top piracy gripe for some time now. Both legal action and the threat of legal action by the labels has had some success, with some notable stream-ripping outfits shutting themselves down. But there are always plenty of alternative sites where people can still get permanent downloads from temporary streams.
With YouTube the most popular streaming site from which the rippers rip their audio, the music industry has also often called on the Google platform to do more to stop the rippers from ripping content from the videos it delivers. YouTube has occasionally issued stern statements about stream-ripping, though in the main its response, whether legal or technical, has been low-key.
However, the other week a whole load of YouTube-centric stream-ripping platforms stopped working, seemingly because of some technical measures implemented by Google. Of course, as is often the way with technical measures, most of the affected sites quickly found a way around the newly instigated blocking, and so the ripping of YouTube streams continues.
But Onlinevideoconverter.com has now told Torrentfreak that, while it also found a way to circumvent YouTube's new anti-piracy measures, it has nevertheless decided to stop allowing people to rip YouTube audio via its site.
And this isn't the result of legal letters from either the music industry or Google. Rather, it seems Onlinevideoconverter.com is saying that if YouTube is now planning on going into battle with the stream-rippers, it would rather not have to get involved in any such battling.
The team behind Onlinevideoconverter.com simply told Torrentfreak: "In view of YouTube's latest stance, we've decided to disable the conversion of all YouTube videos on our service".
At the moment attempting to rip audio from a YouTube video on that site delivers a non-specific error message. It's not clear if copy will be updated to formally explain that YouTube audio can no longer be ripped.
Given how much stream-ripping involves YouTube audio, the move will be welcomed by the music industry. It may now be less likely to threaten legal action, even though Onlinevideoconverter.com will continue to rip audio from other online video sites.
After all, the plethora of other stream-ripping operations which remain adamant that they'll circumvent any future attempts by YouTube to block the rippers, will likely be a higher priority for the music industry's anti-piracy teams.
TikTok says it hopes for "reasonable outcome" by taking ICE to Copyright Tribunal
Video-sharing app of the moment TikTok has been busy trying to get deals in place with the music industry to fully license all the music contained in the videos its users upload. ICE is the copyright hub owned by UK, Swedish and German song right collecting societies PRS, STIM and GEMA. Among other things, it negotiates deals with multi-territory streaming services on behalf of its shareholders. Although, because many publishers now directly licence Anglo-American repertoire, not all PRS rights will be in those deals.
TikTok's decision to go to Copyright Tribunal suggests ICE was driving a harder bargain than the digital firm expected. Having quickly become a major global marketing platform for labels trying to reach a certain demographic, the Chinese company has presumably tried to factor 'promotional value' into its deal making. But talk of promo only tends to work as a negotiating tactic with labels and distributors, which are more actively involved in artist marketing, and less so with publishers, songwriters and their collecting societies.
The UK's Copyright Tribunal can intervene when the music industry licenses via the collective licensing system, and exists to allay the competition law concerns that are raised by the collective licensing approach. It's the first time ICE, as a representative of society rights, has been taken to the tribunal. And it's more than a decade since a digital platform has gone this route in the UK against PRS. If it gets to court, the dispute will raise a bunch of interesting questions, as outlined in our report yesterday.
But anyway, TikTok has spoken. Confirming its tribunal action, it said: "TikTok is an exciting way for songs and emerging artists to gain exposure and break through with a wide and varied audience. As a platform for unique and original creative content, we place high value and respect upon intellectual property rights, and we work closely with music rights holders to protect a library of sound on the platform which is available for users to infuse in their own short videos".
"As part of this", it went on, "we have been in active and extended negotiations with ICE. We have asked the UK Copyright Tribunal as a neutral third party to help us reach a reasonable outcome. We look forward to continuing the conversation with ICE and reaching an agreement that furthers the opportunity for artists and songwriters on the platform".
For its part, ICE said earlier this week: "The TikTok platform is unlicensed and ICE is disappointed an agreement for use of the millions of musical works belonging to the songwriters, composers and publishers we represent has not been reached before this point. We look forward to representing our rightsholders' interests and securing appropriate value for the vast scale of usage of their repertoire on the platform".
Liam Gallagher to record MTV Unplugged performance
The former Oasis frontman will perform an hour long set at Hull City Hall on 3 Aug. It will then be broadcast to a load of kids wondering why there's suddenly some music on MTV from 27 Sep.
"I'm honoured to be performing at the legendary showcase that is 'MTV Unplugged'", says Gallagher. "I'll be playing songs from my number one debut solo album, I'll be playing some stone cold classics from the mighty Oasis and I'll be showcasing some of my new songs from my upcoming second solo album 'Why Me? Why Not'. I'd love it if you could join us as it's sure to be a biblical evening. PS I Love Hull!"
Not sure what exactly is going to make it biblical. Will Gallagher turn water into wine for the audience? Or will he set a plague of locusts on them? Tune in to find out!
Giving nothing away, MTV's Global Head Of Music And Talent, Bruce Gillmer, says: "'MTV Unplugged' lets music fans experience their favourite artists' songs in a completely new way. We're THRILLED to be bringing the franchise back to the UK, and to markets around the world, for a whole new generation of music fans. As always with Liam Gallagher, we can guarantee it's going to be an incredible night full of surprises".
He's really talking like it's been away for a long time there, but Biffy Clyro's London-based addition to the 'MTV Unplugged' canon was first broadcast last year.
Diiv announce new album, Deceiver
The first single released from the new record is 'Skin Game', of which frontman Zachary Cole Smith says: "It's an imaginary dialogue between two characters, which could either be myself or people I know".
Explaining further, he goes on: "I spent six months in several different rehab facilities at the beginning of 2017. I was living with other addicts. Being a recovering addict myself, there are a lot of questions like, 'Who are we? What is this disease?'"
"Our last record was about recovery in general", he adds, "but I truthfully didn't buy in. I decided to live in my disease instead. 'Skin Game' looks at where the pain comes from. I'm looking at the personal, physical, emotional, and broader political experiences feeding into the cycle of addiction for millions of us".
Very exciting Mercury Prize shortlist announced
Commenting on the list, someone from a car company said: "Wow, so awesome! Bands! Albums! It almost feels as if our money has something to do with it. I think everyone is very deserving and also I am happy. Everyone is happy. Let's hold hands".
Actually, the 2019 Mercury Prize nominations come out after we've pressed send on today's CMU Daily, so I sort of just made all that up. I don't know if anyone noticed.
The actual announcement apparently stays a closely guarded secret right up to the moment it's announced. However, in order to maintain our record of top level, up-to-the-minute music journalism, we've consulted every expert going in order to get what is almost certainly the list that is going to be published this morning, and which may already have been published by the time you read this.
Oh yes, we are extremely confident that the judges will choose these as the twelve best British albums of the last year:
Slimy Penny - Grievances
Always acquisitive German ticketing giant CTS Eventim has announced a deal to acquire 48% of major French ticketing outfit France Billet. Under that deal, the German firm will also have the right to increase its share to a majority stake in four years time.
Marshmello has signed to booking agency WME for representation in all his getting out there and doing stuff activities. Not in Europe though, where he will continue to be represented by Echo Location Talent Agency for touring.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
The BPI has welcomed Nicky Morgan as the UK government's new Secretary Of State For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport. "From her time in education she will understand the background to our concerns over access to music in state schools and we will continue to press her to lobby her colleagues in DfE on this issue", says BPI boss Geoff Taylor. "We look forward to working with her". Yeah, I'm not sure there's going to be any time for that.
Still-existing-don't-you-know music video platform-of-sorts Vevo has named Scott Anderson as its new SVP Engineering & Product. "I am very happy", he grins.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
DJ Khaled has been named Apple Music's first ever Artist In Residence. I think he's going to live in a tent in the corner of the office. He'll make one playlist a month while there. To get things started, he's made a playlist he reckons is perfect for offices. You should probably check your company's policy on explicit language before hitting play.
DJ Shadow has released a new collaboration with De La Soul, 'Rocket Fuel'. "It's been a while since my last album, 'The Mountain Will Fall', and the corresponding tour", notes the producer. "Since the tour ended, I've been mostly silent. This is because I've been focused and working on a ton of music. I usually try to avoid hyperbole, but things are about to get very exciting around here. For 'Rocket Fuel', my heroes De La Soul join me in a collaborative blast of pure hip hop adrenalin".
Kasabian's Serge Pizzorno has released the second track from his The SLP solo project. Here's 'Nobody Else'.
Metronomy have released new single 'Walking In The Dark'. The band have just added a second Roundhouse date to their UK tour on 6 Nov, after the first London show sold out.
Mabel has released new single 'Bad Behaviour'. Her debut album, 'High Expectations', is out next week.
Peggy Gou has released the video for new track 'Starry Night' exclusively on Apple Music.
Octo Octa has announced that she will release new album, 'Resonant Body', on 6 Sep. From it, this is first track 'Spin Girl, Let's Activate!'
Warmduscher have announced that they will release their debut album, 'Tainted Lunch', on 1 Nov. It'll feature guest appearances from Iggy Pop and Kool Keith. Neither of them appear on new single 'Midnight Dipper'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Bargain Hunt to air second music special for BBC Music Day
Last year's BBC Music Day edition of 'Bargain Hunt' - a show where two teams buy some old rubbish at an antiques fair and then attempt to sell it for a higher price at auction - was filled with drama last year. Initially The Happy Mondays won the game, beating Pulp. However, it then emerged that Bez had cheated - getting his girlfriend to bid on the items he and Rowetta were selling. The scam was seemingly uncovered after producers became suspicious that the Happy Mondays team had actually made some money during the show.
Will The Darkness and Feeder be able to drum up such tension and intrigue? Only time will tell. It's unlikely though, isn't it?
"This is the thing that my mother has been dreaming about for years now", says Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins of his involvement.
Slightly more personally invested in the project is Feeder's Grant Nicholas who screams: "I'm a huge fan of 'Bargain Hunt', a massive fan!"
You'll be able to watch Hawkins and Darkness bassist Frankie Poullain take on Nicholas and Feeder bassist Taka Hirose on 26 Sep.