|FRIDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Live Nation yesterday called on US law makers to introduce new regulations covering the American ticketing sector in which it is the dominant player via its Ticketmaster business. Although most of those proposed new regulations are really aimed at the secondary ticketing market and those always pesky ticket touts... [READ MORE]|
Live Nation responds to critics in US Congress, calls for more regulation of ticket touts
The live giant's statement setting out five key proposals for further regulating the ticketing business follows increased interest in Live Nation and Ticketmaster's operations within the US political community in recent months.
It was the meltdown that occurred on Ticketmaster's Verified Fan system last year when tickets went on pre-sale for the upcoming Taylor Swift tour that pushed ticketing generally and Ticketmaster in particular up the political agenda in Washington. Existing critics of Live Nation and Ticketmaster within the political and music communities used that moment to put their various grievances back on the table.
Some of those grievances relate generally to how the ticketing business works, and especially the always unpopular fees that are added to the face value of a ticket by the ticket agent. Fees that are all the more annoying when they are added at the final stage of the ticket purchase process. Addressing those particular grievances has also become a priority of US President Joe Biden via his proposed Junk Fee Prevention Act.
However, other grievances relate more specifically to Live Nation and Ticketmaster - and the 2010 merger of the two companies which, critics argue, gave the wider Live Nation group too much market dominance. Live Nation has been accused of abusing that market position and even breaching the commitments it made to the US Department Of Justice in order to get approval for that 2010 merger, allegations Live Nation itself strongly denies.
Then, of course, there is the secondary ticketing market, which provides another set of gripes - no one likes it when tickets for an in-demand show are sold out on the primary ticketing platforms but still selling at massively inflated prices on the resale sites. In the US - unlike in Europe - Ticketmaster is still directly involved in secondary ticketing, though it likes to distance itself from many of the issues raised around ticket touting.
Most of these grievances were expressed in one form or another during a recent hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee prompted by the Swift ticketing meltdown, which heard from Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold, and a bunch of the live giant's competitors and critics.
The two Senators who instigating that hearing, Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Republican Mike Lee, yesterday confirmed that they had sent evidence from the session to the DoJ, urging the government department to continue investigating the allegations of anti-competitive conduct made against Live Nation and Ticketmaster.
The Congress members wrote in a letter to Assistant Attorney General of the DoJ's Antitrust Division, Jonathan Kanter: "We have long been concerned about the state of competition in America's ticketing industry, especially with the power and reach of Live Nation and its wholly-owned subsidiary Ticketmaster. For too long, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have wielded monopoly power anti-competitively, harming fans and artists alike".
"We recently held a bipartisan hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee at which the [CFO] of Live Nation testified under oath, as did other industry participants, including an artist, a secondary market ticketing company, a promoter, and industry experts", they went on. "As an initial matter, other than Live Nation's executive, every witness at our hearing testified that Live Nation is harming America's music industry".
"We asked Live Nation a number of questions about competition both at the hearing and afterwards, but it has largely failed to answer them", they then claimed.
"Live Nation's responses amount to 'trust us'. We believe that is wholly insufficient. We thank you for your prompt attention to these matters and encourage the Antitrust Division to take action if it finds that Ticketmaster has walled itself off from competitive pressure at the expense of the industry and fans".
Responding to those claims, Live Nation said in a statement yesterday: "If there's any chance of improving ticketing for fans and artists, we all need to focus on the facts".
"In the last few weeks alone", it went on, "we've submitted more than 35 pages of information to provide greater context and transparency to policymakers on the realities of the industry".
"These include the fact that this industry is more competitive than ever, Ticketmaster has actually lost market share since the 2010 merger, not gained it; and that venues set and keep most of the fees associated with tickets and are increasingly taking an ever-larger share".
Regarding all the various grievances raised about ticketing, Live Nation then stressed that it supports an industry-wide move to "all-in pricing", whereby ticketing platforms declare up front the total price of a ticket including all and any fees.
That would likely be best achieved through regulation, so that companies that voluntarily adopt all-in pricing aren't disadvantaged by seeming more expensive in advertising and search engine listings.
And if law-makers reckon there is more regulating to be done beyond mandating all-in pricing, Live Nation insisted that they should focus on the touts, or 'scalpers' to use the American term.
"We believe that policymakers would benefit from asking more questions about the chaos caused by scalpers and the resale-first side of the industry", the live giant's statement concluded. "We remain committed to working with law-makers on developing reforms that will benefit fans and artists including those outlined in a Fair Ticketing Act".
The Fair Ticketing Act brings together the aforementioned five key proposals Live Nation is supporting for better regulation of the ticketing sector.
Three of those proposals are tout focused. They include expanding existing rules banning touts from using bots to buy up tickets from primary sites; a ban on speculative selling, where touts advertise tickets they don't have yet; and a crackdown on resale sites that don't enforce those rules or respect an artist's preferences regarding how they sell their tickets.
That latter point relates to another of Live Nation's proposals: that artists should be allowed to decide resale rules for their shows. So law-makers should "protect artists' ability to use face-value exchanges and limited transfer to keep pricing lower for fans, and prevent scalpers from exploiting fans". The fifth proposal is the forced all-in pricing.
"We already follow many of these common sense policies and are ready to make additional changes, but we can't do it alone", Live Nation said yesterday. "We need the entire industry and policymakers to stand up for fans and artists".
As Live Nation formally began its push back against its critics in Washington yesterday, its CEO Michael Rapino was updating the firm's investors on the company's financial results for both the last quarter of 2022 and the full year as well.
Similarly to Rapino's other investor updates over the last year, he was keen to confirm that his company has fully bounced back following the COVID-caused shutdowns of 2020 and 2021.
Despite those shutdowns still being in place in some countries in early 2022, across the year Live Nation's concerts business "grew attendance by 24% vs 2019 to 121 million fans at 44 thousand events, which drove revenue up 43% vs 2019 to $13.5 billion", he stressed.
"This growth came from all markets and venue types", he then bragged on, "every venue type from clubs and theatres to stadiums to festivals had double-digit attendance growth vs 2019".
Live Nation's ticketing and sponsorship divisions also saw good growth in 2022 compared to 2019, which is all good news for Live Nation and its investors.
Though - obviously aware that this financial update was going out at the same time as Live Nation's lobbyists ramping up their efforts in Washington - Rapino was also keen to stress that this was all good news for the wider music community too.
"We invested $9.6 billion in putting on artists' shows in 2022, working with the largest superstars to artists just getting started, and all those in-between", he declared. "This is up 45% from 2019 and further reinforces our role as the largest contributor to artist income".
"As part of this, we helped shift $700 million to artists with more market value ticket pricing - even as the entry price to a show stayed below $35 in the US. Typically 90% of ticket sales for Live Nation shows go to artists - this is particularly important as artists are increasingly reliant on touring as they get much smaller revenue shares from other music revenue streams".
Which is an interesting final point, possibly implying that - when US law-makers have finished better regulating secondary ticketing - they could shift their attention to the economics of streaming before thinking about circling back to the wider issues in the live sector.
It remains to be seen if any of this successfully pushes the recently renewed interest in that 2010 merger and Live Nation's continued dominant position in the live entertainment business back down the American political agenda a little.
R Kelly sentenced to 20 years in relation to Chicago sex abuse conviction
However, most of that sentence will happen concurrently to the 30 year jail term he is already serving after being found guilty in a New York court of setting up and running a criminal enterprise in order to access and abuse women and teenagers.
Prosecutors in the Chicago case had been pushing for the new jail term to be served following the existing one, which would basically mean that the 56 year old musician would die in prison. However, judge Harry Leinenweber ruled that only one year would need to be served following the 30 year New York sentence.
Among the reasons presented by prosecutors for why Kelly should serve his second jail term after the first was that the former music star has failed to show any remorse for his crimes.
However, his lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean - who strongly argued for concurrent jail terms - said that Kelly's silence through most of the legal proceedings he has faced in recent years should not be viewed as a lack of remorse.
According to the Associated Press, she told the court that she had advised Kelly to not speak at the latest hearing because he continues to appeal his convictions and could yet face further legal action. But, she added, in terms of Kelly speaking about his two recent trials, "he would like to, he would like to very much".
Marilyn Manson accuser recants sexual assault claims, says she was "manipulated"
In a new sworn statement presented to a New York court by Manson's lawyers yesterday, Ashley Morgan Smithline says: "I succumbed to pressure from Evan Rachel Wood and her associates to make accusations of rape and assault against Mr Warner that were not true. Eventually, I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms Wood and [others] also happened to me".
Smithline claimed in a 2021 legal filing that the musician had violently assaulted her several times between 2010 and 2013 - allegations that he has always denied.
In October, her lawyer Jay Ellwanger was granted permission to step down from the case and the court gave Smithline three months to appoint new representation or officially confirm that she would be representing herself. The case was dismissed by default when that deadline passed in January without a response.
The new statement comes as part of separate defamation lawsuit launched by Manson against his former girlfriend Wood. He sued her and her girlfriend Illma Gore a year ago, ahead of the premiere of a documentary in which Wood made her own claims of abuse against Manson.
The musician has claimed that the film and various lawsuits launched by other women were part of "coordinated attack" attempting to convince people that the 'shock rock' character he plays on stage is who he is in real life.
Smithline's new statement supports Manson's claims, saying that she was "manipulated" by Wood, Gore, Ellwanger and actor Esmé Bianco (who is also suing Manson), and as a result agreed to "spread publicly false accusations of abuse".
"While at first I knew Mr Warner did not do these things to me, I eventually I began to question whether he actually did", she says.
"On numerous occasions, I was told … that I may just be misremembering what happened, repressing my memories of what happened, or that my memories had not yet surfaced - which they said happened to people against whom these acts were perpetrated".
She adds that she has not received any payment from Manson and has no intention of re-filing her legal claim against him.
Speaking to Billboard, Ellwanger said that he was "constrained by … client confidentially" when responding to this new statement from his former client, but added: "What I can say is that the specific allegations regarding my representation of Ms Smithline are categorically and verifiably false".
Meanwhile, Manson's lawyer Howard King said in a statement: "As we have always said, the coordinated campaign of #MeToo lies against Brian Warner is going to go down as one of the greatest hoaxes of all time. Vulnerable women were manipulated by unscrupulous individuals seeking to build their own brands and pursue their own vendettas".
Wood, Gore and Bianco have not responded.
European Commission bans staff from using TikTok on work devices over data concerns
Concerns have been raised by politicians in multiple countries about what access the Chinese government may or may not have to TikTok user-data via the app's China-based owner Bytedance.
In America, those concerns - coupled with other geopolitical tensions between the US and China - led to former President Donald Trump banning use of the app within the country. Though that ban was challenged in the courts, meaning it never went into effect before it was formally dropped by Joe Biden.
But the concerns over what happens to TikTok user data continue to build in the US political community, with both Republicans and Democrats calling for more regulation of the app, or for it to be removed from the Apple and Google app stores, or for an outright ban to be implemented like that proposed by Trump.
Earlier this month two US senators - Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Jerry Moran - wrote to the Committee On Foreign Investment In The United States, which has been investigating all the concerns around TikTok, urging it to urgently complete that investigation and at the very least enforce rules that distance TikTok in the US from its Chinese owners.
Concurrent to all that, restrictions on the use of TikTok on government devices have also been put in place in the US at both a federal and state level.
Although plenty of similar concerns about TikTok data have been expressed in Europe, to date less tangible action has been taken. Until yesterday when the European Commission told its 32,000 staff that they must remove the TikTok app from any work device or any personal device that contains Commission apps.
According to Politico, Commission employees were alerted to the new rule by email yesterday. That email stated: "To protect Commission's data and increase its cybersecurity, the EC Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the TikTok application on corporate devices and personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service".
The Council of the EU, which employees about 3100 people, then alerted its staff that it was implementing a similar TikTok ban. The European Parliament - the other big institution of the EU - is reportedly now considering whether to follow the lead of the Commission and Council.
For its part, TikTok continues to deny that there are any issues regarding user-data on its platform. Just last week it provided information on how it is complying with existing and new European laws around harmful content and user-data.
Responding to yesterday's announcements by the Commission and Council, a spokesperson told Politico: "We are disappointed with this decision, which we believe to be misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions. We have contacted the Commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people across the EU who come to TikTok every month".
"We are surprised that the Commission did not contact us directly nor offer any explanation", they went on, before adding: "We have requested a meeting".
US copyright group calls for web-blocking to be put back on the agenda of American law-makers
Web-blocking - whereby copyright owners get injunctions in court that order internet service providers to block access to piracy sites - has become an anti-piracy tactic of choice for music and movie companies in those countries where such injunctions are available.
But in the US, web-blocking is not an option. And when, in 2011 and 2012, proposals were made in Washington to add web-blocking to US copyright law, a huge campaign against those proposals was mounted by the tech sector which, among other things, included Wikipedia blocking access to its English language site for 24 hours.
So big was that campaign, in fact, that not only did it result in the initial web-blocking proposals being abandoned, it has also made American law-makers nervous about putting it back on the agenda ever since.
That nervousness remains, even though - as music and movie industry lobbyists have frequently pointed out - the doom and gloom predictions in 2011 and 2012 that web-blocking would result in loads of legit websites being inadvertently blocked have not come true in countries like the UK, where web-blocking is an option for copyright owners, and lots of web-blocks are now in place.
In an opinion piece for The Hill this week, CreativeFuture's CEO Ruth Vitale sets out some recent piracy stats. "A report released by Digital Citizens Alliance in August 2020 found that pirated streaming subscription services are used by an estimated 30 million individuals in the US alone", she writes, "generating over a billion dollars in revenue annually for the criminal enterprises operating these services".
"According to the US Chamber Of Commerce", she goes on, "this widespread infringement costs the US economy between $29.2 and $71 billion, and between 230,000 and 560,000 jobs, every year".
"What is as incomprehensible?", she then asks. "The fact that there are common sense measures in place around the world that have proven to be effective anti-piracy tools, but that aren't available here at home. One such tool, judicially-ordered 'site blocking', allows courts to direct ISPs to block local access to offshore websites found to be dedicated to piracy".
"Such site blocking has proven to be an effective remedy against piracy in the more than 40 countries that have implemented court-adjudicated site blocking", she adds, "including western democracies like Canada and the UK".
While web-blocking is not a panacea by any means - those who want to can generally circumvent the blockades pretty easily - copyright owners insist that putting web-blocks in place does result in more people choosing licensed and legit content services over the copyright infringing ones.
After citing various stats to that effect, Vitale's op-ed continues: "All the evidence indicates that as site blocking scales up to include the major pirate sites, it creates systemic change - by shifting consumer behaviour away from stealing content and toward purchasing it".
She then deals with the fears that were raised back in 2011 and 2012, ie that once web-blocking is in play, legit websites that may have inadvertently facilitated some copyright infringement could be subject to blocking.
Countering those claims, Vitale references a study by the Information Technology And Innovation Foundation which said that good web-blocking systems - like those in place in the UK and Australia - "have built-in safeguards to ensure that only rightsholders with high-quality cases - those involving websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement - are granted an injunction".
"Rather than harming internet freedoms", Vitale argues, "these well-vetted, court-adjudicated site blocking measures targeting large-scale commercial piracy operations (not sites that accidentally, or incidentally, host pirated material) are associated with countries with the strongest records on internet freedom".
With that in mind, she concludes: "It is time for these outdated arguments against common sense anti-piracy tools to stop. Protecting the creative industries has always been a bipartisan issue, and I hope that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will soon be ready to discuss site blocking legislation".
Although the anti-web-blocking campaign in the US in 2012 was particularly high profile, ISPs have often hit out at proposed new web-blocking rules when first proposed in other countries too.
But, once those rules are in place, the ISPs usually just get about implementing the web-blocks whenever a court order comes in without much fuss, and in some cases subsequently speak out in support of web-blocking as one of the easier anti-piracy systems to implement.
There is some support in Washington for adopting anti-piracy measures that have been tested in other countries - and we have seen some commitments to web-blocking by tech companies when legal disputes have been settled in American courts.
But it will be interesting to see how full-on any anti-web-blocking campaign would be this time round if Vitale's allies in Congress put the anti-piracy proposal formally back on the legislative agenda.
MPG Awards nominees announced
On the nominations, MPG Executive Director Matt Taylor says: "We're proud to have reached our fifteenth year at the MPG Awards, and although our industry has changed over that time, we have strived to reflect and celebrate each evolution while focusing on the quality of the work presented, building a more diverse music production community. We're THRILLED to see such a breadth of talent and diversity across all categories as we reach this milestone".
And here are all the shortlists...
Producer Of The Year: Inflo, Kid Harpoon, Marta Salogni
Writer-Producer Of The Year: Inflo, Kaity Rae, Kid Harpoon
Breakthrough Producer Of The Year: Adam 'Cecil' Bartlett, Daniel Moyler, Riccardo Damian
Self-Producing Artist: Catherine Anne Davies (aka The Anchoress), Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange), Hannah Peel
Recording Engineer Of The Year: Fiona Cruickshank, Mikko Gordon, Oli Jacobs
Mix Engineer Of The Year: Craig Silvey, Dan Grech-Marguerat, Manon Grandjean
Mastering Engineer Of The Year: Cicely Balston, Katie Tavini, Matt Colton
Vocal Producer Of The Year: Cameron Gower-Poole, Lorna Blackwood, Ramera Abraham
Rising Star: Francine Perry, Joseph Rodgers, Will Purton
Unsung Hero: Carla Harding, Rosie Danvers, the runner team at Abbey Road
Atmos Mix Of The Year: Dave Emery, David Wrench, Emre Ramazanoglu
Studio Of The Year: Metropolis Studios, RAK Studios, Urchin Studios
Original Score Recording Of The Year: Clint Mansell - She Will, Hannah Peel - The Midwich Cuckoos, Tom Howe - Shaun The Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas
Album Of The Year: Harry Styles - Harry's House, Kae Tempest - The Line Is A Curve, The Smile - A Light for Attracting Attention
The Jonas Brothers have released new single 'Wings'. The band will release their new album 'The Album' on 12 May.
Chvrches have released new single 'Over'.
Krept & Konan have released a new remix of 'Dat Way', featuring Abra Cadabra, Beenie Man, Backroad Gee, French Montana, Clavish, Pa Salieu, K Trap, Bandokay, Double Lz and DoRoad.
Babymetal have released new single 'Light And Darkness'. Their new album 'The Other One' is out on 24 Mar.
The National have released new single 'New Order T-Shirt'. "There's a simplicity to 'New Order T-Shirt' that reminds me of our earlier records, but with the full maturity and experience we have now. It feels like a really important song for the future of our band", says guitarist Aaron Dessner. The band's new album 'I Am Easy To Find' is out on 28 Apr.
Yaeji has released new single 'Done (Let's Get It)'. Her debut album 'With A Hammer' is out on 7 Apr.
The Blessed Madonna has released new single 'Shades Of Love', featuring The Joy. "'Shades Of Love' is about the one thing that we all truly share in common as humans. We need to be loved. That might be a different kind of love for every person but it's still love and it's what ties us together".
Cassyette has released new single 'Boom'. She will be touring the UK next month.
Crabs have released new single 'Everything's Shit'. "Beaten down and weary from the last throes of the Tory government, we run through a laundry list of complaints about the cost of living crisis before cheering ourselves up by willing forward the sweet release of nuclear apocalypse", they say, chirpily.
GIGS & TOURS
Rival Schools have announced that they will play the Electric Ballroom in London on 8 Jul. Tickets are available now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Harry Styles gets IFPI's Global Single Award for 2022
And this really doesn't happen to people like Harry Styles very often. By, which I mean people who are Harry Styles. Because this is his first ever IFPI Global Single Award, the record industry trade group confirmed yesterday.
Though, the announcement of that prize, it added, does also mark "the tenth anniversary of his other IFPI Award wins with previous band One Direction who topped the first ever IFPI Global Recording Artist Chart and also the IFPI Global Album Chart back in 2013". So, while this doesn't happen to people like Harry Styles very often, things a bit like it do. But that's totally different.
"Congratulations to Harry Styles, and all of his team, on winning IFPI's Global Single Of The Year Award", says IFPI boss Frances Moore. "Harry first received an IFPI Award as part of One Direction when we first launched the IFPI Global Recording Artist Chart ten years ago, so it's an honour to present him with an award this year for his stellar single 'As It Was' which has soundtracked the year for so many music fans around the world".
"It's wonderful to see such a diverse mixture of songs in the Global Singles Chart this year", she goes on, "some familiar tracks from the previous year that continued to grow in 2022, amongst plenty of new tracks and some reimagined older tracks - all going to show that record companies are working hard to find new ways to ensure music fans around the world have access to such a wide range of music year on year".
If you'd like like to share in that wonderful moment of seeing such a diverse mixture of songs in the Global Singles Chart Of 2022, wonder away right here for as long as seems acceptable to people like you…