|THURSDAY 29 JUNE 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: South By Southwest has increased the fees it offers American artists playing at the Austin, Texas-based showcase festival. It follows recent campaigning led by the US Union Of Musicians And Allied Workers calling for better compensation for artists who play at the event... [READ MORE]|
SXSW increases fees for American artists amid pressure from music-maker groups
In a recent open letter to the Austin Parks And Recreation Board, UMAW wrote: "Since SXSW launched in 1987, musicians have been SXSW's backbone and main draw. Yet despite SXSW's consistently growing profits and ever-expanding programming over the past 30+ years, the musicians performing at the festival continue to be exploited with low pay and high application fees".
"For at least a decade, SXSW has offered its showcasing artists the same unjust compensation options: either take a wristband to attend the festival, or receive a one-time payment of $250 (or $100 for solo artists). International artists do not even have this choice and are only offered a wristband with no possibility for compensation".
Texas Public Radio has noted that, as applications to play SXSW 2024 opened earlier this week, new higher rates are now being offered for those artists who choose to take a cash fee rather than a wristband. Solo artists are now offered $150 and bands $350.
The Austin Parks And Recreation Board discussed the UMAW campaign earlier this week, agreeing that the city's council should put pressure on SXSW organisers to pay better fees to artists during its various dealings with the festival.
At that meeting, Pat Buchta of Austin Texas Musicians noted the fee increases that have been confirmed this week, acknowledging that they are a step in the right direction. However, he reportedly added: "Respectfully, is that enough? Our musicians do not think so, and musician input is the one thing that everybody seems to be missing in this conversation".
The fees earned by new and lower billing artists when they play festivals are increasingly in the spotlight at the moment.
Obviously, with events like SXSW, most artists play to build profile and connections within the industry rather than to make money. Indeed, most artists will lose money unless they can find subsidies from somewhere.
But there remains a debate regarding the extent to which those benefits can justify artists receiving low or no fees for their performances.
Speaking to Texas public radio station KUT, SXSW's VP Of Music, James Minor, stressed that the showcase festival gives artists the opportunity to network, unlike "consumer-focused festivals".
He added: "It is essential for us to continue to provide opportunities that make the most impact in supporting the thousands of artists who come to Austin every March. We are grateful to the music community - from industry executives and production workers to the artists themselves - for creating such a unique atmosphere in Austin [each year]".
TikTok confirms it is funding creator-led lawsuit against Montana ban
Five TikTok creators are involved in the litigation, filed with the courts in May, which argues that a decision by lawmakers in Montana to ban use of the video-sharing app from the start of next year violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution. TikTok itself has also filed its own lawsuit.
The ban in Montana is a response to ongoing concerns in political circles that the Chinese government has access to TikTok user-data via the app's China-based owner Bytedance. TikTok, of course, continues to deny there are any data security issues on its platform.
Some of the Montana-based creators involved in the lawsuit against the TikTok ban have spoken to the NYT. One of them, Heather DiRocco, revealed that she was approached by TikTok's lawyers about participating in the litigation after posting videos to the platform in which she criticised the ban.
Her response to that approach, she told the newspaper, was: "You know what, I would love to help out with this, because I already don't like it, I'm already advocating for it on my channel".
Law firm Davis Wright Tremaine is leading the legal action and has confirmed that it contacted a number of TikTok creators in Montana who had spoken out about the ban. One of the lawyers working on the case, Ambika Kumar, insisted in a statement to the NYT that "the fact that TikTok is paying for the suit is irrelevant to the legal merits of the case".
According to the Wall Street Journal, TikTok adopted a similar strategy when fighting then US President Donald Trump's attempts to ban TikTok back in 2020, ie filing its own lawsuit but also financing creator-led litigation.
Having individual TikTok creators fight the ban in court - as well as TikTok itself - may have legal benefits, and there is definite value in terms of public perception.
Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director of Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute, told to the NYT: "TikTok is an American company and has First Amendment rights, but there has been rhetoric in Montana and the federal government suggesting that TikTok's connections to China mean it's not an ordinary First Amendment actor".
But the creator-led lawsuit "really emphasises that this isn't just about the rights of TikTok, let alone the rights of Bytedance. It's about the rights of TikTok's users, including its American users, and I think that's a really important point to make".
More "major structural changes" likely as music industry pursues next round of digital growth, says Goldman Sachs
According to Billboard, the report notes that average income from the streaming services - on a per stream or per hour basis - has been steadily declining over the years. Partly because subscription prices haven't kept up with inflation. And partly because of the increased number of family plan style subscriptions being sold, and growth in some key emerging markets, where the income per user is lower.
However, the report predicts that Spotify will follow the lead of its competitors and start increasing its headline prices very soon, and that all the streaming services will then start instigating more regular price increases as time goes on. It also reckons that there's a multi-billion dollar opportunity to be realised by better serving superfans within the streaming service subscriber bases.
As for how streaming monies are shared out across the industry, the bankers agree with many in the music community that the current model needs to evolve.
As far as the major label bosses are concerned, that evolution needs to include separating out functional audio - like mood music and background noise - from more conventional music releases. Though quite how any such evolution will be decided upon and instigated still remains unclear.
Better alignment of all the key stakeholders is likely required for the effective evolution of the streaming business model. And - reckons Goldman Sachs - such closer alignment is also needed to capitalise on the opportunities around generative AI.
Such technologies create opportunities as well as challenges for the music industries, the new report says, not least because "we believe the quality of the input to large language models is critical and the largest owners of [music rights] are best positioned to leverage the technology".
But realising that potential means key industry players "need to be aligned in controlling the deployment of that tech".
The Pirate Bay reopens to new members to avoid a "generation of potential uploaders" being lost
To share files via TPB users need to register. However, Torrentfreak explains, in 2019 new registrations were temporarily paused in a bid to "stop floods of malware torrents". It seems unlikely anyone expected that temporary pause to last four years, but now it's over and new members are being accepted, albeit subject to manual approval by administrators.
The decision to start accepting new members - and put in place the manual approvals system - seemingly follows the recent closure of another file-sharing platform called RARBG.
Torrentfreak states: "RARBG's demise took out a major supplier of new torrents. There are currently only a few public torrent sites where users can register, so the TPB moderators were concerned that a generation of potential uploaders would be lost".
For a time, The Pirate Bay was enemy number one of the music industry as the record companies and music publishers pursued their high profile battle against online piracy. Lawsuits were filed in multiple jurisdictions, with the legal action against its founders in Sweden by far the most significant.
And as web-blocking has become a common anti-piracy tactic in multiple countries, TPB is often one of the first sites music and movie companies seek to block. And yet, despite all that legal action, the site continues to operate.
Of course, for the music industry, the fight against piracy has had a much lower profile in more recent years as the streaming boom took the recorded music market back into growth. Meanwhile, stream-ripping rather than file-sharing has become the top piracy gripe.
That said, online piracy at large does remain a concern and while the continued operation of The Pirate Bay may not be negatively impacting on the music business like it did back in the file-sharing heyday, the fact that it has managed to stay online all these years is something of an irritation for the industry's anti-piracy chiefs.
Madonna postpones tour start due to "serious bacterial infection"
"On Saturday 24 Jun, Madonna developed a serious bacterial infection which lead to a several day stay in the ICU", wrote her manager Guy Oseary in a statement posted on Instagram. "Her health is improving. However, she is still under medical care. A full recovery is expected".
"At this time", he added, "we will need to pause all commitments, which includes the tour. We will share more details with you soon as we have them, including a new start date for the tour and for rescheduled shows".
Announced at the beginning of the year, 'The Celebration Tour' will see Madonna performing hits from across her career, and it was set to begin in Canada on 15 Jul. The run is due to reach the UK in October, and it is not yet clear if these dates will be affected.
Primary Wave has bought a stake in the songs catalogue of George Brown, founder member and drummer with Kool & The Gang. "Kool & The Gang's influence on generations of musicians and fans around the globe cannot be denied", says Primary Wave SVP Business And Legal Affairs Samantha Rhulen, who also confirms that the company is "THRILLED" to be partnering with Brown.
Reservoir Media has acquired music rights from four of the founding members of The Spinners. The deal includes recording royalty income streams from Henry Fambrough, and the late Billie Henderson, Pervis Jackson and Bobbie Smith. "The Spinners and their catalogue of hits are truly timeless", says Reservoir EVP Of A&R And Catalogue Development, Faith Newman. "It is a true honour to continue building the Reservoir catalogue with legends like The Spinners, and we look forward to supporting their enduring legacy".
Producer Benny Blanco has sold a nice little package of his music rights to Litmusic Music, including his stake in songs released by the likes Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Justin Bieber. "I've had the pleasure of knowing Benny since he was seventeen years old", says Litmus co-Founder Dan McCarroll. "It's been a joy working with him over the years and watching him become the incredible writer and producer he is today. We at Litmus are honoured to work with him now to support part of his incredible catalogue".
Downtown Music's neighbouring rights division has announced international deals with the estates of Meat Loaf and Miles Davis, managing the royalties due from the broadcast and public performance of both artists' recordings. "To partner with renowned estates such as Miles Davis and Meat Loaf, both of whom have deeply impacted the modern music industry, is a real testament to the services and expertise we provide across our neighbouring rights offering", says Dean Francis, General Manager of Downtown Neighbouring Rights.
SoundCloud has promoted Tracy Chan to the role of Chief Content Officer and Ama Walton to SVP Of Music Licensing and Deputy General Counsel. Devi Mahadevia has also joined the firm from Meta as SVP Of Strategy.
Label and artist services business Empire has promoted Tina Davis to the role of President. She was previously SVP Of A&R, and will continue to head up Empire's A&R team as well as inputting on the firm's operations and strategic planning.
James Blake has announced that he will release his latest album 'Playing Robots Into Heaven' on 8 Sep. Out now is new single 'Big Hammer'. He is also set to play a one-off show at Here in London on 6 Jul.
The Chemical Brothers have released new single 'Live Again', featuring Halo Maud. They've also announced a new book chronicling their 30 year career, titled 'Paused In Cosmic Reflection', which is set for publication on 28 Oct.
JP Saxe has released new single 'Everything Ends', featuring Lizzy McAlpine and Tiny Habits. "It's a song about nostalgia and cute dogs and trauma bonding", he says. "It's about moments you wish you could put on loop. That's not how moments work sadly, it is how songs do though".
GIGS & TOURS
Liam Gallagher is set to launch a new live album featuring his 2022 Knebworth performance with a show at the much smaller Koko in Camden on 9 Aug. The album itself follows on 11 Aug. From it, this is 'Roll It Over'.
This year's Music Industry Trusts Award will be presented to booking agent Lucy Dickins at an event this November which, as always, will raise money for The BRIT Trust and Nordoff & Robbins. Says co-Chair of the MITS Award committee, Toby Leighton-Pope: "Lucy's track record speaks for itself... Adele, Olivia Rodrigo, Mumford And Sons, Laura Marling and so many others, all with whom she's achieved extraordinary acclaim and success. That kind of impact on the industry is undeniable and her contributions continue to shape the industry landscape".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Fall Out Boy have updated Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire for some reason
Joel's original song was released as a single in 1989 and listed 118 people and events from politics, culture, science and sport that had proven notable between 1949, the year when Joel was born, and the year of the track's release.
So, your first verse goes like this: "Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray, South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio, Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television, North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe, Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom, Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye, Eisenhower, Vaccine, England's got a new queen, Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye".
Anyway, it's now 34 years since Joel released the song. So, to mark this, erm, milestone, Fall Out Boy have recorded a new version, listing significant things that have happened since 1989. Things like what?
Well, now the first verse goes like this: "Captain Planet, Arab Spring, LA riots, Rodney King, deep fakes, earthquakes, Iceland volcano, Oklahoma City bomb, Kurt Cobain, Pokémon, Tiger Woods, MySpace, Monsanto, GMOs, Harry Potter, Twilight, Michael Jackson dies, nuclear accident, Fukushima, Japan, Crimean peninsula, Cambridge Analytica, Kim Jong Un, Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man".
Aren't lists fun! And such a good way of making it look like you've made a good point about something, when all you've really done is compile a list. Not even a chronological list in Fall Out Boy's case - whereas Joel at least got most of his list in the right order. What was the motivation for this update though?
A statement accompanying the new track reads: "I thought about this song a lot when I was younger. All these important people and events - some that disappeared into the sands of time, others that changed the world forever. So much has happened in the span of the last 34 years, we felt like a little system update might be fun. Hope you like our take on it".