|TUESDAY 28 MARCH 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK government has formally responded to the follow-up report published by Parliament's culture select committee earlier this year on the whole economics of streaming debate. In its response, the government commits to providing more information about ongoing work around data and transparency, while admitting that it is still considering what the next steps should be regarding artist and songwriter remuneration... [READ MORE]|
UK government pledges "meaningful and lasting improvements" in latest response to economics of streaming inquiry
The select committee called for a "complete reset" of streaming in its original report on the digital music sector in July 2021, which followed an extensive inquiry into the way the streaming music business works, and all of the issues that have been raised about the current model by artists, writers and their managers. MPs proposed various measures to address the issues including some possible reforms to copyright law.
In response, the government's Intellectual Property Office instigated three strands of work seeking voluntary agreements within the industry on data, transparency and remuneration.
The Competition & Markets Authority also undertook a market study to assess if any of the issues were caused by anti-competitive conduct - concluding probably not - while the government's culture department commissioned a research report on playlists and algorithms, which was published last month.
The IPO-led work is now the focus. At an update hearing late last year, select committee members heard that some progress has been made on data and transparency, although both are still a work in progress. And some MPs expressed concerns that, somewhat ironically, there wasn't enough transparency about the work on data and transparency.
Meanwhile, artist and songwriter groups said no real progress had been made on music-maker remuneration - for them the most important issue - beyond the commissioning of research to investigate the various copyright law reforms that had been proposed by MPs.
And, based on a more recent update last week from the Council Of Music Makers - which brings together organisations representing artists, musicians, songwriters, producers and managers - that remains the current situation.
In that particular update, the CMM set out its top five priorities for all of this economics of streaming work. In addition to improvements around data and transparency, it called for all artists to receive a minimum digital royalty rate, a better deal for session musicians, and a system via which artists and songwriters can force a renegotiation of outdated old contracts.
Many indie labels already pay a minimum digital royalty rate, and record industry trade group BPI has been in negotiations with the Musicians' Union around session musician rates. And the majors would point out that, while they currently oppose a minimum digital rate, they are now passing through royalties to heritage artists that were previously still paying off recoupable costs on old record deals.
The CMM would certainly acknowledge all that, but still argue that a lot more needs to be done on remuneration, and that government should therefore ramp up its work in this domain, while also further considering the copyright law reforms proposed in the select committee's original report.
Following last year's update hearing in Parliament, the select committee published a short follow-up report in January which said there should be more transparency around the IPO-led work, that relevant ministers should get more actively involved, and that there should be more focus on the all important issue of remuneration.
It was that follow-up report that yesterday's government statement was responding to. It begins with a quick summary of all the work to date, including that led by the IPO, CMA and culture department. But there is more to be done, it concedes, because "for this work to have been worthwhile, it must result in meaningful and lasting improvements to streaming".
As for providing more public information about all that work, it points out that the IPO has already made available a list of the people involved in the working groups that have led on the data and transparency work, while agendas and minutes from the meetings of those groups will also be made public. And both ministers and government officials continue to play an active role, it insists.
As for the less-progressed remuneration conversation, the government says that it "recognises that creator remuneration is a key issue in the music streaming debate and one which warrants attention".
"While the research commissioned by the government into the changes to copyright law recommended by the committee was ongoing, the government considered it appropriate to defer detailed conversations on different approaches to remuneration, to ensure that discussions on this topic are properly informed by evidence", it adds
"Now that the research into equitable remuneration is in its advanced stages and the research into contract adjustment and rights reversion has been published", it goes on, "the government is considering its approach on performers' rights and remuneration and will take a decision on these matters in due course".
Responding to the government's response, the acting chair of the culture select committee, Damian Green MP, says: "We are pleased that the government has promised to deliver 'meaningful and lasting improvements to streaming' in its response to our follow-up report on music streaming. Our initial inquiry called for a 'complete reset' of streaming in response to issues facing professional musicians and independent companies in the sector, highlighting the need for equitable remuneration".
"Publishing information about the work of the industry contact group, transparency and metadata working groups and research projects on remuneration and rights reversion will move the debate and policy discussions along", he then adds.
Green then reminds everybody that, with the main development on music-maker remuneration so far being the commitment by the majors to pay through royalties to unrecouped artists, "our follow-up report requested that the three major music groups provide evidence of royalties that are being paid to legacy artists following recommendations during our initial inquiry".
He then concludes: "The committee wants to see concrete action from government, regulators and the industry in response to its reports, and will continue to monitor the position closely".
MegaUpload lawsuits move to 'inactive docket'
MegaUpload was, of course, a file-transfer and video-sharing platform shutdown by the American authorities in 2012 on the grounds that it facilitated rampant copyright infringement. US prosecutors have been trying ever since to extradite key MegaUpload execs, who are currently based in New Zealand, to face criminal charges in relation to their old business.
Last year two of those execs reached a deal with the American authorities meaning they will now face those charges in New Zealand rather than the US. However, extradition proceedings continue against overall MegaUpload boss Kim Dotcom. So far prosecutors have prevailed whenever the New Zealand courts have considered whether or not Dotcom can be extradited, although the appeals process has not yet been completely exhausted.
This means that Dotcom remains in New Zealand and the criminal case against MegaUpload is yet to really progress. But what about the civil lawsuits filed by the music and movie industries?
Well, everyone pretty much agrees that the criminal proceedings should go through the motions first before the record labels and movie studios push for damages over all the alleged MegaUpload-enabled copyright infringement. Which means for years now, at regular intervals, legal reps for MegaUpload have formally requested that the lawsuits be stayed, and neither the labels nor the studios have ever objected to that proposal.
According to Torrentfreak, that happened again recently, and it was after yet another stay order was issued that the judge overseeing the case confirmed the lawsuits were now being placed on the 'inactive docket'.
"It appearing to the court that this case has been stayed nearly continuously since 10 Jun 2014, it is hereby ordered that this case be, and the same hereby is, stricken from the active docket and placed on the inactive docket", the judge wrote.
That move doesn't really change much, except to confirm that - more than a decade on from the shutdown of MegaUpload - these lawsuits aren't likely to properly get to court anytime soon.
Melanie C signs Various Artists management deal
"I'm THRILLED to be joining forces with the team at Various Artists Management and proud to become part of their roster", says the Spice Girl. "Watching the company grow and seeing the enthusiasm they have for all of their artists makes me very excited to see what we can achieve together".
Various Artists CEO David Bianchi adds: "Melanie is a legend, which is a word that's bandied around a lot but mostly without meaning. Not in this case. She is an exceptional artist and has one of the most recognisable names, voices and faces in pop history. We are so delighted to welcome her to Various Artists".
Chisholm published her autobiography 'Who I Am, My Story' in September last year. In January she starred in dance production 'How Did We Get Here' at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre.
MusicBird acquires Midge Ure catalogue
"It is a significant moment for me as an artist and songwriter to see my songs find a new home at MusicBird with people who are genuinely passionate about music", says Ure. "I think this team will take the songs to new audiences and I am excited to be working with them on that!"
MusicBird CEO Paul Brown adds: "This is an important deal for MusicBird. Midge has written some genuinely timeless hits that were ground-breaking, helping to define the 1980s new wave sound and literally paving the way for those that came after. We are hugely excited to become the custodian of these incredible songs and we are humbled that Midge has entrusted these precious pieces of art to the MusicBird team".
Having begun acquiring music rights in 2021, last month MusicBird announced a $100 million loan facility with bank MUFG to further build its catalogue.
VV Brown returns with first new music for six years
"The last six years have been a difficult mental health journey for me, but I came to the realisation that I need music to feel alive", she says. "Now that I live in the countryside, it feels liberating to create without that industry pressure. I spend most of my days wearing wellies, making music or enjoying the routine of family life".
"Everything about this album, whether it be the artwork, the lyrics, the production or the visuals, is about starting sociological conversations", she goes on. "Art should make you feel, whether that's feeling uncomfortable, empowered, happy, sad, scared, inspired. There is a radical power in the role of the provocateur and this was one of the motives for this record".
The new album will arrive on Brown's own YOY Records later this year. For now, listen to 'Black British' here.
So.Co Music Photographer Of The Year Awards winners announced
"I am honoured to have won the first So.Co Music Photographer Of The Year award", says Lupin. "The talent in the competition was outstanding and it shows the UK is leading the world when it comes to live music - from the grassroots to the biggest stadium tours".
So.Co CEO Vince Bannon adds: "The music photography community is thriving more than ever, it's been fantastic to see it come together for this celebration of the artform. We've had a blast honouring some of the best in the game with our first year and can't wait to build the event in the years to come".
Here are all the winners:
Music Photographer Of The Year: Neil Lupin
Image Of The Year: Belinda Enthoven for a shot of McFly's Tom Fletcher performing at the O2 in London
Must-See Artist Of The Year: Lottery Winners
Venue Of The Year: The Horn, St Albans
Product Of The Year: Nikon Z9
Legend Of The Year: David Hogan
Warner Chappell has renewed its global publishing deal with producer Mag - best known for his work with Bad Bunny. "The whole Warner Chappell team have been incredibly supportive over the past few years and I'm excited to continue building on our partnership", he says.
The Eurovision Song Contest has announced that this year's grand final will be shown in 500 cinemas around the UK on 13 May. "We want audiences to enjoy themselves, come along in groups, get your fancy dress on, and come together to enjoy this historic occasion on the big screen", says John Travers of CinemaLive. The event itself will be held at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. In-person tickets sold out in 40 minutes when they went on sale earlier this month.
Tyler, The Creator has released new single 'Dogtooth', taken from the deluxe edition of his 2021 album 'Call Me If You Get Lost', which is out this Friday. "'Call Me If You Get Lost' was the first album I made with a lot of songs that didn't make the final cut", he tweeted. "Some of those songs I really love, and I knew they would never see the light of day, so I've decided to put a few of them out".
Ana Moura has released the video for her song 'Nossa Senhora Das Dores', ahead of her performance supporting Stromae at Wembley Arena on 4 May.
Chat Pile have released new single 'Cut', taken from a new split album with Nerver. Titled 'Brothers In Christ', the LP will be out on 14 Apr. "These tracks were written and recorded after we tracked [2022 album] 'God's Country'", says bassist Austin Tackett. "We wanted to use this release as a deliberate excuse to switch gears and fully lean into our more indie and alt-rock tendencies. Slint, Sonic Youth, Guided By Voices and Starfish's 'Stellar Sonic Solutions' were certainly on our minds at the time".
Emmeline has announced that she will release new EP 'Smalltown Girls And Soft Summer Nights' on 28 Jul. Out now is new single 'The Dance'. She's also announced that she will play the Last Word Festival at the Roundhouse in London on 15 Jun.
GIGS & TOURS
The Chemical Brothers have announced UK and Ireland arena shows this autumn, finishing with a show at The O2 in London on 4 Nov. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Christine And the Queens has announced shows in the UK and Ireland in September, kicking off at Birmingham's Symphony Hall on 6 Sep. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ticketmaster launches priority ticket access to Avenged Sevenfold NFT holders
"We have integrated Death Bats Club into Ticketmaster, assuring that fans get the best tickets at the best prices without bots, scalpers and long wait-times", says the band's frontman M Shadows.
Avenged Sevenfold launched the Death Bats Club in 2021 with a collection of 10,000 NFTs, providing fans who purchased them with access to various perks, including giveaways and meet-and-greet opportunities. Now early access to tickets has been added to that.
Ticketmaster itself has also got involved in Web3 and NFT stuff in recent years, offering commemorative tokens for various events. However, this is the first time it's offered an integration to directly purchase tickets. This initial test of the system with Avenged Sevenfold is now being rolled out to other artists who are in on the whole NFT thing.
"Avenged Sevenfold used the capability to offer first access to tickets, but there are a variety of ways it can be used by artists in the future", says Ticketmaster's EVP Global Music David Marcus. "From unlocking premier seats to special experiences like sitting in on soundcheck".
"Token-gated ticket sales are available as part of our expanding Web3 services and other features that help artists set their own terms on how tickets get to fans", he continues. "Any artist who is minting their own NFTs or partnering with another independent community can explore with token-gated ticketing now".
Ticketmaster's token-gated sales are compatible with any tokens minted on Ethereum and stored in dapp wallets, such as MetaMask or Coinbase. So that's fun, isn't it? Assuming anyone's still interested in NFTs. Is anyone? Come on, speak up!