TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK government has agreed to convene a music industry working group to discuss music-maker remuneration in the context of streaming. It follows similar government-led work where the focus was data and transparency issues within the streaming business. Music-makers have been calling for a specific remuneration working group for some time... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES UK government convenes working group to discuss music-maker remuneration from streaming
LEGAL US Solicitor General urges Supreme Court to decline Genius v Google case
LABELS & PUBLISHERS EmuBands announces Dolby integration
LIVE BUSINESS Fix The Tix Coalition opposes BOSS ACT because of pro-touting provisions
GIGS & FESTIVALS Celine Dion cancels tour dates as a result of rare neurological disorder
AND FINALLY... Bastille's Dan Smith "not bothered" about having no songs on the Barbie soundtrack
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UK government convenes working group to discuss music-maker remuneration from streaming
The UK government has agreed to convene a music industry working group to discuss music-maker remuneration in the context of streaming. It follows similar government-led work where the focus was data and transparency issues within the streaming business. Music-makers have been calling for a specific remuneration working group for some time.

The earlier working groups were set up in response to the 2021 inquiry into streaming undertaken by the culture select committee in the UK Parliament, and it's that committee that has confirmed that a remuneration working group is now being established.

Parliament's inquiry considered an assortment of issues that have been raised about the way music streaming works, with MPs ultimately calling for a "complete reset" of the digital music business. Some of those issues impact on the entire music industry, though others are primarily a concern for artists and songwriters.

When it comes to how music-makers get paid when their music is streamed, there are industry wide concerns about the price point of subscription streaming. Given that the streaming services operate on a revenue share model, the fact the baseline price of a Spotify subscription hasn't increased since the late 2000s means there is less money to be shared out across the entire music industry, in real terms.

More recently the major record companies have also raised concerns about how streaming monies are allocated to individual tracks each month and the fact functional audio - like mood music and background noise - takes an increasingly big slice of the pie. And those concerns are also shared across the wider music community.

But there are also the debates over how money paid into the music industry by the streaming services is split up, between recordings and songs, and between labels and artists. Especially, in the latter case, when it comes to artists whose recordings are part of the industry's increasingly valuable catalogue.

Many of those artists are locked into old life of copyright record deals and, depending on how labels choose to enforce those deals, may be receiving a much smaller share of streaming income compared to artists who negotiated their deals in more recent years.

Session musicians who appear on those recordings, meanwhile, usually get no royalties at all when the music is streamed.

The music-maker community has long argued that the streaming business unfairly favours superstars and big corporations over the wider music community. And in the report that came out following their inquiry, MPs on the culture select committee proposed some copyright law reforms that might address some of those concerns.

The label community is somewhat divided over whether or not music-makers have been short-changed in the steaming domain. Some indies that have chosen to pay all artists, including heritage artists, a higher modern royalty rate on streaming would likely agree that the approach taken by other labels is unfair.

However, even those indies that agree there are issues to be addressed around music-maker remuneration are often nervous of - or outright opposed to - the proposed changes to copyright law.

In response to select committee's inquiry, the government's Intellectual Property Office commissioned research into those proposed copyright reforms. However, unlike with the data and transparency issues, there hasn't yet been a formal place where those proposals - and other possible solutions - can be discussed.

When the select committee held an update hearing on streaming late last year, the music-makers made it very clear that they wanted a working group to be convened to allow those discussions to begin.

And in response to that, MPs on the committee stated earlier this year: "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".

Ministers have now confirmed that that remuneration working group will be established in a letter to the select committee.

In that letter, minister John Whittingdale notes that artists entering into partnerships with record labels today generally get a better deal - sometimes a much better deal - than in the past. However, he concedes, that doesn't help heritage artists or session musicians.

"While terms in new contracts are increasingly creator-friendly, those benefits are often not extended to creators still signed to older contracts, many of whom are paid at substantially lower royalty rates than their modern counterparts", he writes. "Additionally, session musicians feel that they are not sharing equitably in the successes of the streaming sector".

With that in mind, he goes on: "The government wants to see a thriving music industry that delivers sustained growth in an increasingly competitive global music market alongside fair remuneration for existing and future creators. We believe that these aims are complementary, and that reasonable action can be taken by industry to address creators' concerns around remuneration".

Welcoming the news that a remuneration working group is being convened, the recently appointed new Chair of the culture select committee, Caroline Dinenage MP, says: "The creation of a working group we have been calling for is a welcome step towards addressing the frustrations of musicians and songwriters whose pay falls far short of a fair level given their central role in the success of the music streaming industry".

"The government must now make sure the group is more than a talking shop and leads to concrete change so the talented creators and performers we have in this country are properly rewarded for their creativity", she adds. "The committee will be keeping a close eye on progress and also looking more widely at artist and creator remuneration to ensure everyone who works in our creative industries can share in its successes".

The Council Of Music Makers - which brings together the Featured Artists Coalition, Musicians' Union, Ivors Academy, Music Producers Guild and Music Managers Forum - has also welcomed the new working group.

It says: "Music-maker remuneration is the single biggest issue in streaming. Which is why we have been calling for a working group to be convened to allow the music community to come together to discuss the different ways that we can address these challenges, including the copyright reforms that have been proposed and other possible solutions".

"We greatly appreciate the government's positive response to this request and look forward to now getting to work. We will be publishing a new white paper later this week setting out the different elements of the music-maker remuneration debate, building on the five fundamental objectives for streaming reform that we outlined earlier this year".

"We'd also like to again thank the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee, whose streaming inquiry and ongoing diligence has ensured that various issues faced by music-makers are now being addressed".

It concludes: "The working groups on data and transparency, which have been expertly led by the Intellectual Property Office, are set to result in a number of positive changes which, although small steps, are nevertheless important steps towards delivering a transparent, dynamic and equitable streaming business. We hope similar things can now be achieved around remuneration".

Later this week - in a series of special articles in the CMU Daily - we will be reviewing the UK government-led economics of music streaming work to date and getting perspectives from the various trade organisations that have been involved. Meanwhile you can check all of CMU's coverage of the economics of streaming inquiry and subsequent initiatives on this special timeline here.


US Solicitor General urges Supreme Court to decline Genius v Google case
The US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar last week urged the country's Supreme Court to decline to review the Genius v Google legal battle, despite not entirely agreeing with the conclusion reached by the Second Circuit Appeals Court in that case.

In that legal battle, lyrics platform Genius accused Google of scraping content off its website and then plonking those lyrics into the info boxes that appear on the search engine when people search for specific songs.

Google insisted that it sourced its lyrics from its music industry partners and lyrics aggregator LyricFind, and would never sully itself by unofficially scraping other people's websites. Though some clever placing of punctuation patterns within the Genius lyrics - which them allegedly showed up in Google's info boxes - suggested something dodgy was going on somewhere along the line.

However, Genius had a problem once it decided to go legal. It doesn't own the copyright in the lyrics it publishes - those rights belonging to songwriters and music publishers - so it couldn't sue for copyright infringement.

Instead it sued for breach of contract, arguing that Google had connected to its platform and, in doing so, become bound by its terms and conditions. Which include a term that basically says nicking Genius lyrics for commercial use is not allowed.

However, Google countered that this was a big old copyright dispute, but without the involvement of a copyright owner. And US law stops Genius from pursuing a related breach of contract claim, it argued, because copyright law takes priority.

Along the way Google stated its core legal argument as follows: "Section 301 of the Copyright Act preempts common law claims that, inter alia, are 'equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright'".

The court hearing Genius's lawsuit agreed with Google. As did the Second Circuit appeals court. Which is why Genius is now trying to get the US Supreme Court to consider its litigation and the lower court rulings on it.

In its filing with the Supreme Court last August, Genius stated: "Like countless internet businesses, Genius – an online platform for transcribing and annotating song lyrics – insists that visitors agree to its contractual terms as a condition for availing themselves of the benefit of its services".

"These terms include the promise not to reproduce the contents of Genius's platform", it went on. "Google contractually bound itself to those terms, but, in blatant breach of that contract, Google stole Genius's labours for its own competing commercial purposes".

The Second Circuit Appeals Court, it then noted, "held that the Copyright Act preempts Genius's breach-of-contract claim, under a provision that applies only to claims that are 'equivalent to … exclusive rights within the general scope of copyright'. [However] at least five circuits disagree with this ruling and only one other circuit agrees".

To that end, it asked the Supreme Court to answer this question: "Does the Copyright Act's preemption clause allow a business to invoke traditional state-law contract remedies to enforce a promise not to copy and use its content?"

While considering whether to take on the case, late last year the Supreme Court sought the input of Prelogar. And she submitted a brief on the matter to the top US court last week.

According to Reuters, in that submission the Solicitor General actually criticises the Second Circuit's conclusion that copyright law "categorically" bars contract claims that are based on a "promise not to copy" creative works.

However, the Supreme Court should nevertheless decline to review Genius v Google, she says, because it's not clear that the lyrics platform can prove it ever had a valid contract with the search engine. She also adds that there is "little indication" that another appeals court elsewhere in the US would have handled the case differently.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Genius is not impressed with Prelogar's intervention. It's legal reps continue to insist that it's vital and increasingly urgent that the Supreme Court does review the ruling in its Google litigation. We await to see what the Supreme Court judges themselves now have to say.


EmuBands announces Dolby integration
DIY distributor EmuBands last week announced an integration with Dolby's music mastering APIs which will, it says, "offer users an instant mastering solution that delivers professional-grade sound".

An official blurb adds: "Mastering audio can often be a complex and time-consuming process, but EmuBands is committed to providing a simple and affordable solution without compromising quality. With an easy-to-use mastering tool powered by Dolby.io, music creators and engineers can now create release-ready masters in minutes, regardless of their level of experience".

"Dolby is a respected market leader in the audio industry, known for their innovations in immersive sound and video experiences", says Toni Malyn, EmuBands' Head Of Artist Relations & Marketing.

"We're proud to integrate with their developer platform, Dolby.io, to bring our users the best possible sound for their tracks", he adds. "With Dolby.io's expertise in audio mastering, our users can trust that their tracks will sound their best, meeting industry standards and achieving professional-grade quality".


Fix The Tix Coalition opposes BOSS ACT because of pro-touting provisions
A coalition of American music industry groups recently set up to lobby on ticketing issues has spoken out in opposition to the latest iteration of the BOSS ACT, which seeks to regulate the US ticketing business. Although that act does contain some measures that the Fix The Tix Coalition would support, it also includes provisions that would benefit the pesky ticket touts.

Ticketing has become a political talking point in the US again following all the issues that occurred last year when tickets for Taylor Swift's current tour went on sale via Ticketmaster's Verified Fan system. That has prompted three sets of legislative proposals in Washington which seek to regulate the sale of tickets in one way or another, plus a number of lobbying campaigns involving consumers and industry groups.

For some people the biggest issue in ticketing is the market dominance of Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation. And one of the current lobbying campaigns calls for the 2010 merger that brought Live Nation and Ticketmaster together to be reversed.

Keen to keep that proposal off the agenda in Washington, Live Nation has its own campaign calling for any new ticketing regulations to mainly focus on resale, so all the touts and the platforms they use for their touting.

And then there's the Fix The Tix campaign. Although its precise manifesto is still not clear, it is probably somewhere in the middle. So likely supportive of some new regulation of primary ticketing which Live Nation won't like, but not quite as bombastic as the Ticketmaster demerger brigade.

The BOSS ACT is one of the three sets of legislative proposals in Washington. It's been proposed by Bill Pascrell Jr, a Congress member and Ticketmaster critic who has been seeking to introduce new laws regulating ticketing since 2009.

His proposals, introduced into the House Of Representatives last week, are the latest iteration of legislation that he has been pushing for more than a decade. Although actually now renamed as the BOSS and SWIFT ACT, to acknowledge that it was the Swift ticketing debacle that pushed all this back up the political agenda.

Pascrell's act does seek to force more transparency on the ticketing business at large - primary and secondary - something the Fix The Tix Coalition would probably support.

However, it also includes provisions that seek to "ensure fans cannot be sanctioned for reselling a ticket", and which say that those fans should not be "restricted from reselling their tickets" or "face a price ceiling or floor on ticket resales".

And while those provisions would in theory protect genuine fans looking to sell on tickets for shows they are no longer able to attend, they are also proposals that would greatly help commercial touts - or scalpers as they are called in the US – and the secondary ticketing platforms they employ in order to sell their tickets.

And to confirm that the BOSS ACT is at least partly pro-tout, Pascrell's legislative reforms are backed by pro-touting groups like the FanFreedom Project and Protect Ticket Rights.

Confirming that, if nothing else, it is definitely anti-touting, the Fix The Tix Coalition said in a statement on Friday: "Our coalition, representing every major constituency of the music and live events industry, supports legislation that truly safeguards consumers from price gouging, fake tickets, and ubiquitous deceptive practices by secondary sellers; provides transparency in ticket pricing; and restores integrity to the ticketing marketplace".

To that end, it added: "We strongly oppose the BOSS ACT as it would increase ticket prices, enshrine deceptive practices like speculative tickets, and cause an even worse ticket-buying experience for true fans".

The Coalition did concede that Pascrell's proposals "provide some transparency for consumers", but added that they do that "in exchange for anti-fan and anti-artist handouts for scalpers and secondary ticketing platforms that do not contribute to the live entertainment ecosystem".

"Our coalition is currently working with Congress in a bipartisan manner to usher in meaningful and systemic reforms that will truly protect consumers", it went on.

"The BOSS ACT has been introduced in every Congress for more than a decade, and it has been opposed in every Congress by artists and those who pour their blood, sweat, and tears into producing shows that create lifelong memories for fans".

It then concluded: "We look forward to working with Congress in a bipartisan fashion with new ideas from artists, venues, promoters, performing arts centers, agents, managers and fans to reform the ticketing industry".


Setlist: How a 1980s Prince photo impacts on AI
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the US Supreme Court ruling on a long-running copyright dispute between the Andy Warhol Foundation and the photographer Lynn Goldsmith, and Universal getting into bed with AI music company Endel.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here.

Celine Dion cancels tour dates as a result of rare neurological disorder
Celine Dion has cancelled all of her remaining live shows, explaining that she isn't currently able to proceed with current touring plans because of the medical condition she first revealed last year.

The singer told fans in December that she is suffering from Stiff-Person Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. She explained at the time that that condition causes spasms that "affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I'm used to".

She added: "I have a great team of doctors working alongside me to help me get better and my precious children who are supporting me and giving me hope. I'm working hard with my support medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again, but I have to admit it's been a struggle."

Dion had previously postponed a number of shows on her Courage World Tour, which had already been rescheduled because of COVID, due to her health issues.

Confirming last week that she was now cancelling those concerts, she said in a statement: "I'm so sorry to disappoint all of you once again. I'm working really hard to build back my strength, but touring can be very difficult even when you're 100%".

Referencing the past postponement of the planned shows, she added: "It's not fair to you to keep postponing the shows and, even though it breaks my heart, it's best that we cancel everything now until I'm really ready to be back on stage again. I want you all to know, I'm not giving up … and I can't wait to see you again!"


Bastille's Dan Smith "not bothered" about having no songs on the Barbie soundtrack
So the all-star soundtrack to the new Greta Gerwig-directed 'Barbie' movie may include music by Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, Charli XCX, Tame Impala and PinkPantheress, but where's the Bastille track? That's what we're all wondering, right?

Well, the lack of a Bastille track on the new film's official soundtrack is not the fault of Bastille. The band's Dan Smith last week revealed on Twitter that he actually wrote a couple of songs for consideration but they were rejected by the film's producers.

According to NME, Smith was responding to a fan who asked if he plans to see either the 'Barbie' film or new Christopher Nolan movie 'Oppenheimer'.

Smith replied: "Very excited for both of those. In fact, I wrote a couple of songs for the 'Barbie' film (that they didn't use), but it looks incredible so does 'Oppenheimer'".

As that revelation got picked up by the media, another fan asked Smith if he was bothered about his songs not being used by the 'Barbie' film makers.

"Ha nah, I'm not remotely bothered", he mused. "Many many writers like me will have spent a bunch of their time writing tunes for this and a million other things that don't ultimately get used for a thousand different reasons. And anyway, this soundtrack's gonna be insane. Can't wait".


ANDY MALT heads up our editorial operations, overseeing the CMU Dailywebsite and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE is co-Founder and MD of CMU - he continues to write key business news stories, and runs training, research and event projects for the CMU Insights consultancy unit and CMU:DIY future talent programme.
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SAM TAYLOR leads on the commerical side of CMU, overseeing sales, sponsorship and business development, as well as heading up training, research and event projects at our consultancy unit CMU Insights.
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CARO MOSES is Editor of CMU's sister media ThisWeek Culture and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh. Having previously also written and edited articles for CMU, she continues to advise and support our operations.
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