|FRIDAY 13 JANUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: MPs on the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee have called for "more focus" on "ensuring creators and performers receive a fairer cut of the money made from streaming music" in a short follow-up report to their previous investigation into the economics of music streaming. They also call for the UK government to instigate a "wide-ranging national strategy for music"... [READ MORE]|
MPs call for "more focus" on music-maker remuneration in Economics Of Music Streaming update
The new report follows a hearing in November where the select committee reviewed what work had been undertaken following the publication of its original report back in July 2021, which raised various concerns about the way the music streaming business works, made a number of proposed reforms, and called for a "complete reset" of the digital music market.
Following that original report, the UK government said that it would prefer for the music industry to come up with voluntary solutions to the issues raised by the select committee, rather than it instigating any of the copyright law reforms MPs had proposed. Although, ministers said, those reforms were still on the table if no industry solutions could be found.
To facilitate that process, the government's Intellectual Property Office convened some committees and commissioned some research, with that work focused on data issues, transparency issues and issues around music-maker remuneration. That ongoing work was among the things reviewed at the November select committee session.
MPs heard that discussions on data and transparency were ongoing but had made some progress, and that voluntary codes for the industry to embrace should be agreed in early 2023.
However, on music-maker remuneration, research had been commissioned by the IPO but talks between industry stakeholders had not really progressed. And, those representing artists and songwriters at the November session confirmed, that lack of progress was frustrating, given that for many music-makers remuneration is the most important issue.
In the new report, the culture select committee does acknowledge and welcome the progress that has been made on data and transparency as part of the IPO-instigated work. And not only that, it also acknowledges and welcomes certain positive developments regarding music-maker remuneration that have occurred since the committee's original report.
That includes all three majors making commitments to pay through royalties to unrecouped heritage artists, which the MPs welcome, although with accompanying questions about the extent of the positive impact of those moves. The MPs also acknowledge the ongoing talks between record label trade group BPI and the Musicians' Union about improving session musician rates.
However, the committee members also confirm that they share the frustration of artists and songwriters that there has been no active conversation on music-maker remuneration as part of the IPO-led programme.
"We recommend that the IPO continue to build on the current momentum and good-faith engagement by all parties in the process by establishing working groups on remuneration and performer rights to consider the current evidence base and monitor developments in other countries in these areas", the new report states.
The committee also call for more transparency about the IPO-led work - not least the work on transparency! Concerns were raised at the November session that too much of that work has been happening behind closed doors, and that it wasn't publicly known who was participating in the IPO convened committees or 'working groups' (although that latter information has since been published).
"We recommend", the committee write in the new report, "that the IPO, at minimum, ensure that there is greater transparency around the groups by ensuring that its memberships, agendas and deadlines are made public and that the groups have reporting functions at reasonable, practical intervals (eg at certain milestones or on conclusion of negotiations)".
And MPs would like relevant government ministers to be more involved in the process too. "We also hope that ministers and departmental officials will take a more active role in the groups where appropriate, particularly where negotiations become deadlocked or deadlines are missed", they note.
Beyond all the ongoing debates around data, transparency and music-maker remuneration, last November's session also touched on another topic that actually generally unites the wider music community, which is the need for a more joined-up approach from government when interacting with the music industry.
One current challenge for the music community is that whenever they want or need to interact with government, they are often talking to different departments depending on the specifics of the conversation - so sometimes culture, sometimes business, sometimes education, sometimes international trade, and sometimes the Home Office and Department For Transport on things like visas and cabotage.
That approach makes things more time consuming, but also means key issues can get lost in the gaps, and solutions can be missed due to a lack of joined up thinking. Governments in some other countries have systems to enable more joined up thinking when working with the music industry, which arguably gives the music industries in those countries a competitive edge.
"We recommend that the government take a more strategic approach to policymaking regarding cultural production and the creative industries", MPs write in their new report. "Responsibilities are dispersed across too many departments, which has created persistent issues, including in international trade, visas and the ongoing skills shortage".
"This could be addressed by Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport more regularly setting the overall direction by publishing its overall strategy (with reference to specific disciplines, including music, film and television, theatre, etc), with tangible, measurable outcomes, at more regular intervals, that the work of various departments and arm's length bodies can then work in concert to implement".
Commenting on his committee's new update report on the economics of music streaming, Acting Chair of the DCMS committee, Damian Green MP, says: "Over the last eighteen months the government has made some welcome moves towards restoring a proper balance in the music industry, but there is still much more to do to ensure the talent behind the music is properly rewarded".
"As the committee heard, there is still frustration about the returns for the vast majority of musicians and songwriters. Too many of them receive pitiful returns despite making successful music. The main players need to get together to remedy this in a sustainable way".
"The world of music streaming is highly susceptible to changes in digital technology and the government needs to make sure it is ahead of the game by taking a more strategic role in coordinating policy across departments", he goes on.
"The government described our initial report as a 'key moment for the music industry'. It now needs to make sure it follows through on the work done so far to fix the fundamental flaws in the market. British music is a huge national asset and is loved around the world. British musicians and songwriters need to share in this success".
And here are responses from various music industry organisations to the new update report...
David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition & Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive, Music Managers Forum: "Having contributed substantially to their initial evidence sessions on music streaming and subsequent IPO dialogue, the FAC and MMF wholeheartedly welcome the DCMS Committee's renewed calls for reform".
"In what will be a critical year for British music, it is heartening that artists, songwriters and music-makers have such concerted Parliamentary support for improved remuneration and contractual rights. We are also pleased by the committee's demand for further scrutiny of recent market reforms around recoupment and their backing for a national music strategy".
"It is now vital that the wider industry embraces this spirit of reform and takes seriously the work already underway at the IPO. Our organisations are in complete alignment with other creator bodies on the need for greater fairness, transparency and remuneration. These issues are not going away, and neither are we".
Gee Davy, COO of the Association Of Independent Music: "AIM welcomes recommendations for transparency, a proactive strategy and inclusive working groups to look collaboratively at practical positive outcomes in streaming".
"It is important that all stakeholders are heard in this ongoing work, including diverse voices and independent and DIY sectors, which will need increased investment if the UK is to maintain its strong innovative place in the global music market. We hope such a proactive approach will mean incentives such as extending creative industry tax reliefs to cover British music are actively considered".
PRS comments on LIVENow litigation
The collecting society says that "no PRS member has been paid for the use of their songs" featured in shows streamed by LIVENow. And that includes "the globally-streamed Dua Lipa 'Studio 2054' online event in November 2020 - the highest viewed online concert worldwide".
The licensing of livestreamed shows became a big talking point during the COVID-19 pandemic when livestreaming suddenly became a much bigger deal.
Promoters of live shows and digital platforms streaming music both need to secure licences covering any songs that are used, of course. But the licensing of live and the licensing of digital work quite differently, raising questions about how livestreamed shows should be licensed, more like a live show or more like a stream.
During the pandemic PRS launched a new licence covering livestreams which sought to answer those questions and to simplify things as much as possible. Although there was plenty of criticism in the wider music community about that licence and the accompanying price point, and the way the whole thing was worked out.
Nevertheless, licences are needed covering the songs performed in livestreams and PRS has a system for issuing those licences. And yet, it seems, LIVENow failed to get any such licences for its livestreamed shows.
Gavin Larkins, Director Of Commercial Development And Sales at PRS, says: "PRS For Music's role is to ensure songwriters and composers, here in the UK and around the world, are paid when their music is used. We take this responsibility very seriously".
"We provide a licence for businesses who offer ticketed online concerts and have licensed many users under this scheme", he goes on. "LIVENow chose not to obtain this licence prior to launching its programme of online concerts, including the globally-streamed Dua Lipa 'Studio 2054' online event in November 2020 - the highest viewed online concert worldwide".
"No PRS member has been paid for the use of their songs in this event or the other concerts held by LIVENow", he adds. "For more than eighteen months, PRS For Music has positively engaged in licensing negotiations with LIVENow. These discussions remain unresolved and as such we have taken action to defend the rights of our members and songwriters of other societies".
Honing in on the lawsuit that was filed last month and made public this week, Larkins concludes: "Litigation has been put in motion to ensure we can collect the royalties due from LIVENow and its parent company Aser Ventures. We hope to resolve this issue, so that music creators can finally be paid for the use of their works".
Various Bauer stations in Scotland to rebrand as Greatest Hits Radio
The rebranding stations are all basically part of the Greatest Hits Radio network already, so music policy wise nothing will change.
They also already air programmes from the UK-wide GHR network for chunks of the day, with specific Scottish programmes during daytime. The number of shows unique for the Scottish audience may decrease with this change - it's not yet clear - although the Scotland specific breakfast show currently shared by those six stations will definitely remain.
Says Bauer Scotland's Content Director Victoria Easton-Riley: "Entertaining hundreds of thousands of listeners a week, these stations are much-loved for their playlist of classic hits and entertaining content, so rebranding as Greatest Hits Radio just makes total sense. Strengthened under one name, we're so excited by the scope of opportunity ahead including national marketing campaigns and more".
Meanwhile, Group Programme Director for the Hits Radio Brand Network, Gary Stein, adds: "Greatest Hits Radio has been such a great success story to date, and we know this will continue into Scotland as these stations rebrand in April, giving audiences, artists and advertisers much better clarity".
Perhaps suggesting that the rejig in Scotland will likely result in fewer specific shows for Scottish listeners, it's also been revealed that the number of local shows on the Welsh version of Greatest Hits Radio will be significantly cut in April.
Currently Greatest Hits Radio South Wales has its own local shows at breakfast, mid-morning, early afternoon and late night. However, according to Radio Today, only the late night show - a Welsh language programme - will remain.
The aforementioned Stein told Radio Today: "We always review each of our stations on a case-by-case basis. Since its rebrand, Greatest Hits Radio South Wales has retained some separate weekday content from our network. Sadly this is no longer viable moving forwards, [but] we remain focused on providing listeners with a range of voices from across the UK, alongside its regular Welsh language programme which we remain committed to".
Bauer has been prolific in expanding its Greatest Hits Radio brand in recent years, of course, replacing lots of local radio brands that it owned and acquired with additional outposts of that network.
The media firm - like all the big commercial radio companies - has also been slowly cutting the amount of local programming it airs, lobbying UK media regulator OfCom to reduce the obligations for such programming in the radio licences it issues.
That's usually based on the argument that, with radio now competing with lots of online operators, delivering local programming beyond news and travel isn't commercially viable.
Lisa Marie Presley dies
"It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us", said Priscilla Presley in a statement. "She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known. We ask for privacy as we try to deal with this profound loss".
Born in 1968, Presley's parents divorced when she was four years old, and her father died when she was nine. On her 25th birthday, she inherited the Elvis Presley estate as its sole heir - it having been held in trust and managed by her mother until that date. At that time the estate was estimated to be worth $100 million.
In 2003, Presley embarked on her own music career, with the release of her debut album, 'To Whom It May Concern'. It was certified gold in the US and the first single from it, 'Lights Out', went to number sixteen in the UK. Her second album, 'Now What', followed two years later, which went top ten in the US, but was less commercially successful than its predecessor.
She did not release another album until 2012. 'Storm & Grace' was produced by T Bone Burnett and featured songs co-written with artists including Richard Hawley, Ed Harcourt and Travis's Fran Healy. Although she received some of the most positive reviews of her career for the record, it did not sell particularly well.
Her final recording to be released was a new version of Elvis song 'Where No One Stands Alone' in 2018, which combined her father's original vocals with newly recorded ones of her own to make it a duet. The track featured on a compilation of the same name, which took fourteen gospel songs recorded by Elvis, giving them new instrumentation and backing vocals.
"It was a very powerful and moving experience to sing with my father", Lisa Marie wrote in the liner notes for the album. "The lyrics speak to me and touch my soul. I'm certain that the lyrics spoke to my father in much the same way".
Presley was married four times, most famously to Michael Jackson between 1994 and 1996. During their engagement, Jackson was facing his first child abuse allegations, and it was she who encouraged him to settle out of court with his accuser - which he did for a reported $23 million in January 1994.
The couple separated in 1995 and Presley filed for divorce in January 1996, citing "irreconcilable differences". The brevity of their marriage did little to deter rumours that the relationship had been little more than an effort to draw attention away from Jackson's child abuse allegations.
Although, in a 2010 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Presley said that the couple had attempted to reconcile several times for four years after their split - despite him being married to his second wife Debbie Rowe during that time.
She was also married to musicians Danny Keough and Michael Lockwood, as well as actor Nicolas Cage.
In 2005, Presley sold 85% of the Elvis Presley estate's business holdings, Elvis Presley Enterprises, to entertainment firm Industrial Media (then known as CKX and headed by Robert FX Sillerman) in a deal worth around $100 million.
"For the past few years I've been looking for someone to join forces with to expand EPE, to take it to new levels internationally, and to make it an even greater force in the entertainment industry", said Presley at the time. The deal also brought her a considerable amount of cash and relieved her of EPE's $25 million of debt.
Under the deal, she retained ownership of her former family home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. She visited the property last weekend to mark what would have been her father's 88th birthday.
Her last public appearance was at the Golden Globe Awards in LA on Tuesday, where Baz Luhrmann's biopic of her father, 'Elvis', was nominated for three awards, with Austin Butler winning Best Actor for his portrayal of Elvis.
Katie Melua announces ninth album
Out now is new single 'Golden Record', of which she says: "It's about the scene changing and being a woman in the music industry and how strange and lucky I feel to have a job I'm addicted to".
"This approach for nearly 20 years led me to being very dogmatic and leaving very little space for my life at home", she goes on. "Before I knew it, the years had flown and I was 36, newly divorced, still pedalling like mad with music, while around me, friends were all married, making babies".
"And while the draw of making records and getting up on stage still did everything I thought I needed for my soul", she explains, "I knew not having a stable relationship at home and starting a family was gradually gnawing away at me".
"Writing 'Golden Record'", she concludes, "it was like I was finally making peace with it all, accepting how things have changed in the industry, being happy with my lot at home and ready to face the fear of letting go of the forever funfair of the music industry".
'Love & Money' will be out on 23 Mar and you can watch the video for 'Golden Record' here.
Melua will also be touring the UK in May. Here are the dates:
2 May: Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion
Enter Shikari announce new album and residencies in five UK cities
The album, says frontman Rou Reynold, sees the band invigorated after he found himself unable to make music during the period of inactivity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"At the time it felt like we ourselves, as musicians, were experiencing the death of our band", he says. "I just didn't realise that the human and physical connection to other people were so central to how I write".
"Honestly, I thought I was fucked", he goes on. "I've never felt so detached from my soul, my purpose, my fucking spirit. I didn't write music for almost two years. The longest I'd gone before that was two weeks".
"I was broken", he adds. "It's almost as if my brain had asked: 'What is the point in music if it cannot be shared? What is the point in writing music if it's not to be experienced with others' and then promptly switched itself off".
I guess it's obvious that it eventually switched itself back on, because here we are with the new album set to arrive on 21 Apr. Out right now is new single, '(Pls) Set Me On Fire' - a song inspired by that lengthy period of writer's block.
"'(Pls) Set Me On Fire' grew out of that desperation", he explains. "This song is a projectile vomit of positive energy. Every emotion trapped inside me for two years, finally set free".
'A Kiss For The Whole World' is set for release on 21 Apr, and you can watch the video for '(Pls) Set Me On Fire' here.
Ahead of the album release, the band are going to play some live shows, but instead of going on a standard tour, they are going to take up a sort of residency in five cities around the UK over three months.
"It's hard to do anything interesting with live shows today", says Reynolds. "We wanted to do something different. We're going to become a local band to five major cities in the UK. It's going to be interesting to see how the shows evolve every time we return".
Tickets go on general sale on 26 Jan and here are the dates:
15 Feb: London, Here at Outernet
Miley Cyrus has released new single 'Flowers'. She announced earlier this week that her eighth studio album, 'Endless Vacation', will be out on 10 Mar.
Paramore have released new single 'C'est Comme Ça'. "I'm trying to get un-addicted to a survival narrative", says vocalist Hayley Williams. "The idea of imminent doom is less catastrophic to me than not knowing anything about the future or my part in it. The guys and I are all in much more stable places in our lives than ever before. And somehow that is harder for me to adjust to". The band's new album, 'This Is Why', is out on 10 Feb.
Sam Smith has released new single 'Gimme', featuring Jessie Reyez and Koffee. "Me and Jessie were basically drunk, drinking whisky in Jamaica, two in the morning, running around, like two girlfriends having a laugh", says Smith of the recording. "It's a very sensual song".
Ava Max has released new single 'One Of Us'. Her new album, 'Diamonds & Dancefloors', is out on 27 Jan.
Black Thought has announced his latest collaborative project, an album with the band El Michels Affair, which will be released on 14 Apr. From it, this is first single 'Grateful'.
Radiohead's Philip Selway has released new solo single 'Picking Up The Pieces'. His new solo album, 'Strange Dance', is out on 24 Feb.
Yaeji has announced that she will release her debut album, 'With A Hammer', in April - the follow-up to 2020 mixtape 'What We Drew'.
Fucked Up have released new single 'I Might Be Weird', taken from new album, 'One Day', which is out on 27 Jan. The band have also announced UK tour dates in March, finishing with a performance at Lafayette in London on 18 Mar.
Xiu Xiu have announced that they will release new album 'Ignore Grief' on 3 Mar. From it, this is new single 'Maebae Baeby'. In that song "the singer's viewpoint is of a young person hiding in a fantastical conversation with a tarantula in order to escape a physically abusive parent", says frontman Jamie Stewart. "We were hiding within this fantasy of a fantasy, following the model of the late 1950s sub genre of 'teen tragedy songs', to try and find a way to come to terms with a number of staggeringly horrendous events that occurred to people close to the band over the last two years".
Miss Grit has released new single 'Lain (Phone Clone)'. "I feel like the divide between my inner and outer self can grow so big sometimes that it feels like I'm being eclipsed by this big cringey monster", they say. "I wanted to write this to mock the monster and remind myself I'm not powerless against it".
GIGS & TOURS
Puscifer - fronted by Tool's Maynard James Keenan - have announced UK and Ireland tour dates in Dublin on 10 Jun, Glasgow on 12 Jun, Manchester on 13 Jun and London on 15 Jun. The shows will follow the release of new remix album 'Existential Reckoning: Re-Wired' on 31 Mar. Tickets go on general sale on 20 Jan.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
BRIT nominations out - Harry Styles and Wet Leg get four each
One of the concerns raised when the BRITs decided to get rid of the gender specific categories was that it could result in less gender diversity overall. Actually, last year - the first year without Best Female, Best Male et al - that didn't really happen.
However, this year things do definitely skew male overall, and most notably all the contenders for the prime Artist Of The Year prize are men.
Which is disappointing, obviously, given how easy it is to name the female artists who could and should have appeared in that list as well. But then again, both Best New Artist and Best International Artist do have more female nominees than male.
There is also enough gender balance across the majority of the categories that, on the night itself, there could be more female winners than male winners. Especially if Wet Leg win most of the four awards they are up for, which - of course - they should. We shall see.
Meanwhile, whatever happens gender wise, it seems likely that the final winner list will be somewhat Harry Styles dominated. He is also up for four awards this time round, including Artist Of The Year, which I'm not sure anyone could really begrudge him winning.
Anyway, here are the shortlists for you to peruse, absorb, scrutinise, analyse, criticise or ignore as you see fit. The awards will be dished out on 11 Feb.
Artist Of The Year
Group Of The Year
Best New Artist
International Artist Of The Year
International Group Of The Year
Hip Hop, Grime, Rap Act
Pop / R&B Act
Album Of The Year
Song Of The Year
International Song Of The Year