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PROMOTING MUSIC - MEDIA, SOCIAL MEDIA & MORE
How to build a profile for your artists - the state of the music media, traditional and new publicity techniques, social media and the future of music PR. Wed 13 Jul
MUSIC RIGHTS – INSIDE & OUT
JUDGE KNOCKS BACK TICKETMASTER DELIVERY FEES SETTLEMENT
As previously reported, way back in 2003 two Americans called Curt Schlesinger and Peter Lo Re sued Ticketmaster, claiming the ticketing giant had misled customers by implying in its marketing materials that "delivery fees" added to ticket purchases were simply a cost of sale, ie what it cost Ticketmaster to deliver tickets. In fact, a profit margin was included so the fee was a revenue. Given the size of the delivery fees (up to $25) that was probably a given, but the plaintiffs reckoned the ticketing firm was at fault for not explicitly stating so.
The case, which became a class action last year, was due to go to court in January, but an out of court settlement was reached, in which anyone who believed (and could prove) they had been misled could claim a small refund or discount on future purchases. Live Nation set aside $22.3 million to cover any claims.
But LA Superior Court Judge Kenneth R Freeman last week turned down the settlement, saying it wasn't big enough and that the proposed deal "offered virtually no benefit to the class member" (ie anyone who made a claim). The whole thing is now likely to go to court in October, which is something Live Nation could do without. Aside from the fact that, if they lose the court case, the prescribed pay out could be significantly higher, it will also shine a new spotlight on the add-on fees ticketing agencies and the live sector at large add on to ticket prices, which have been increasingly controversial of late. The live music conglom is yet to respond to last week's ruling.
In related news, the live firm is still suing its insurers Illinois Union Insurance Co in relation to this case after the insurers refused to pay the $4 million in legal fees the live music and ticketing giant has run up in relation to it.
U2 MANAGER WELCOMES US ISP AGREEMENT, CALLS FOR MORE ISP ACTION
In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, McGuiness says that the ISP sector has been way too slow to take on responsibility for policing piracy, noting that it is only now as the film, book and news companies start to face the same threats from online piracy as the music business, and therefore step up their own lobbying efforts, that any net companies are taking action. And while he commends the US ISPs for taking voluntary measures, he reckons new legislation like that introduced in the UK, France and South Korea will be needed to force net companies to act in some other markets.
He adds that stepped up anti-piracy systems to combat illegal free content services are needed now more than ever, because the idea the music industry could "fight free with free" has been disproved. He writes: "For some years 'fighting free with free' seemed the answer to all our problems. Today, that honeymoon is over. Spotify, in many countries the champion of the free-to-consumer music streaming service, is now cutting back on its free offering. It is trying to migrate its fans into payers, offering a £10 monthly subscription. That is a huge challenge". For Spotify et al to succeed, McGuinness argues, the stepped up anti-piracy rules are also needed.
He goes on to call for the European Commission to step in here, forcing ISPs across the European Union to step up their anti-piracy measures in countries where the national government is yet to act. He notes: "The ISP agreement in the US is good news for music and the creative industries. It is time now for action elsewhere. In Europe, Commissioner Barnier is reviewing EU copyright enforcement rules for the digital age. This is a chance for Europe to use its legislative clout to get ISPs to cooperate".
As previously reported, the UK's Culture Minister Ed Vaizey last week reaffirmed his commitment to introducing the British take on the three-strikes anti-file-sharing system as described in the Digital Economy Act. He also openly criticised British ISPs BT and TalkTalk for trying to overturn the copyright section of the DEA through the courts.
Although British politicians have talked tough on this issue before, and yet the DEA's version of three-strikes is yet to go live, there does seem to be a swell of political support for the content industries on the piracy issue again at the moment. Last week in a debate on the Hargreaves Review of intellectual property law, a review instigated in response to criticism of the UK's current copyright system by Google, while there was some support for reforms proposed by the report, other MPs used the debate to take a swipe at the web giant instead.
According to PC Pro, MP Thérèse Coffey said: "Dare I say it, but I would like Google, instead of trying to be crusaders for freedom, to work with the creative industries, and with other people such as Microsoft and Apple, to make something like a digital contract exchange work".
She added: "I note that when one tries to get certain sites taken down or content removed, very high-tech Google does not allow people to actually email it - one has to write to it in California. That seems a bit bizarre".
BABYSHAMBLES BASSIST INJURED IN CAR CRASH
Specifics of the accident aren't clear, though manager Adrian Hunter passed on a message from McConnell which seems to imply he suffered some pretty serious injuries. The message read: "I have surgery on my spine today and the next day on my knee. Plates, rods and screws going in both spine and knee. They ain't told me what they plan for my shoulder blade and broken ribs yet".
Hunter added that the bassist was "comfortable if a little pained. He had a nasty couple of bumps but his sense of humour is still intact though".
FORMER MOTORHEAD GUITARIST DIES
Burston started playing guitar in various bands after leaving the army, before auditioning for Motorhead in 1984. He stayed with the rock outfit for eleven years, appearing on six studio albums during that time. He retained the Wurzel nickname from his days in the army, having been given the moniker for his scarecrow like appearance.
When he left Motorhead in 1995 he was never replaced, and indeed had occasionally rejoined his former band for guest spots at a handful of live shows. He continued to play guitar for some other projects, including his own band Leader Of Down.
Tim Butcher, longtime bass technician for Motorhead frontman Lemmy, announced Burston's death on his Facebook page on Saturday. The guitarist had reportedly been suffering from heart disease, and died of ventricular fibrillation.
ARGENTINE PROTEST SINGER KILLED
After a difficult childhood, Cabral began singing for tourists in the Argentine beach resort of Mar del Plata in the 1960s. He subsequently rose to national and then international attention, in particular through his song 'No Soy de Aqui Ni Alla' (or 'I'm Not From Here Or There'), which was rerecorded by hundreds of other artists around the world. With politically motivated lyrics, and a reputation as a 'protest singer', he fled his home country when it fell under military rule in 1976 and set up home in Mexico.
He continued to preach peace and elements of a humanist ideology through his music and other creative work, so much so he was named an 'international messenger of peace' by UNESCO in 1996. He continued to tour until his death, most recently playing a concert in the Guatemalan city of Quetzaltenango just last week.
Much outrage was expressed across Latin America after reports of Cabral's killing began to circulate. It is not clear if his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong, or whether there were other motives for his murder.
GALLOWS FRONTMAN QUITS
Carter said in a statement: "It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce my departure from Gallows. It seems that Gallows have hit a crossroads in our writing process and unfortunately myself and the rest of the boys have different ideas regarding the sound of Gallows going forward. Gallows have decided they are going to continue on without me and I wish the boys the best of luck for the future. Gallows will be fulfilling all of our current touring plans until 1 Aug so please come down to a show and help me make each show a total celebration!"
Carter plans to focus on his new band Pure Love after August, while the rest of Gallows will continue to work on their new album, presumably with a new frontman, though that person is tbc.
Carter's brother and soon to be former bandmate Stephan added: "Frank, Steph, Lee, Stu and myself are all entering the most exciting period of our careers since breaking in 2007. While we wish Frank the best of luck on his new adventure the rest of us in Gallows literally cannot wait to play you the new songs and announce who will be singing with us in the future. We realise Frank is a hard figure to replace so be assured that the decision to continue as a band has been one we've been deliberating over long and hard. We're extremely confident that we won't be letting anyone down when we drop the next record, especially not ourselves or the people who believe in us. Death is birth. Your ears have been warned".
BLACK EYE PEAS TO GO ON HIATUS
However, this is not the end for the Peas altogether, oh no. Tweets Will: "The BEP will take a break after 'The Beginning', just like we did from [previous albums] 'Monkey Business' to 'The END'... but it doesn't mean we stop creating".
STEPS REUNION WOULD BE "SILLY" SAYS STEPS GIRL
Former Stepper Claire Richards, back on the telly recently on ITV's 'Popstar To Operastar', has told the Daily Mail that a reunion of her former pop outfit would be "a bit silly".
Richards: "We do get offers all the time, which we consider, although up until now it's never really been right for everybody. Maybe it's just my age, but I can't really see myself up on stage in one of those bright costumes doing what we did. It's taken me this long to get to a place where I'm happy with what I'm doing and trying to build a career of my own. To drop all that to go back seems a bit silly".
Sensible girl that Claire. Oh, hang on, she added a proviso of "never say never" at the end of the interview. Silly girl that Claire.
In case any of you are interested, former 'X-Factor' winner Joe McElderry won the second series of 'Popstar To Operastar'. Expect a total flop of an opera career to follow, before he shows up on next year's 'Dancing On Ice'.
NEW MOGWAI EP INCOMING
THE LEISURE SOCIETY TO PLAY WITH ORCHESTRA
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BESTIVAL, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight, 8-11 Sep: Bestival organisers have confirmed a slew of new bookings including The Las, Oh Land, Wolf Gang, Cocknbullkid and Tribes, also unveiling a list of additional DJs that features James Blake and Nero. Headliners at the lively end-of-season soiree are Pendulum, The Cure and Primal Scream, with the likes of Magnetic Man, Robyn, Crystal Castles and Brian Wilson also appearing towards the top of the bill. www.bestival.net
HEADSTOCK, Newstead & Annesley Country Park, East Midlands, 10-11 Sep: Newly crowned headliners Lightning Seeds join the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen, Craig Charles, Tunng, Nick Harper and heaps more on the bill at this non-profit, family-friendly community-minded festival. www.headstockfestival.com
UNDERAGE FESTIVAL, Victoria Park, London, 5 Aug: Restricted to thirteen to seventeen year olds only, the latest acts announced to appear at this year's Underage bash include Ms Dynamite, Spring Offensive, Chimes, RD and Violet. Bombay Bicycle Club, Viva Brother, Janelle Monae, Miles Kane, Crystal Fighters, Florrie and Cocknbullkid feature highly amongst the existing roster of youthful performers. www.underagefestival.com
DOUG MORRIS SAYS HELLO
For fans of emails from Doug Morris previously published in Billboard and then republished in full in the CMU Daily, boy, you're in for a treat. Writes Doug: "As I begin my new tenure as CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, I want to let you know how pleased and excited I am to be here, and how much I look forward to getting to know everyone in the days and weeks to come. I know there has been some uncertainty in the last months, but starting now, we begin a new and important chapter in the history of our great company".
He continues: "These are challenging times for our business, but I strongly believe that this is our unique opportunity to make Sony Music the very best in the industry. A company with exceptional artistry and great talent will excel and thrive, and we have the assets and resources in place to do just that. I urge each of you to realise the potential of this moment by committing yourself more than ever to developing great music and creating vital new business models. There is no limit to what we can, and will, achieve together".
PORTABLE MINIDISC PLAYERS TO BE PHASED OUT
There is currently only one portable MiniDisc player on the market, and that too is about to be canned. Consumers still using MiniDisc devices will still be able to buy actual MiniDiscs, while a non-portable MiniDisc player will still be manufactured in some markets.
The downsizing of the MiniDisc range follows an announcement by Sony last year that cassette Walkmans would stop being manufactured in the US (where apparently some were still being sold), although they are still being made in China.
AIF LAUNCHES FACE VALUE TICKET EXCHANGE
The Ticket Trust, which will be run by a company called Sandbag, will verify tickets are genuine and make sure they get to buyers, who will be given an extra chance to get tickets to otherwise sold out events without having to pay hiked up prices on more traditional ticket exchange websites or risk buying from fraudsters with no real tickets to sell. Buyers will be charged up to a 10% commission.
AIF Vice-Chair Ben Turner, who has spearheaded the new ticket resale service, told CMU: "AIF has pulled together its festival members to collectively make a simple message - AIF festivals DO NOT and WILL NOT play the secondary ticketing market for profiteering. AIF stands for strong principles in the festival sector and we object to the practices of many of the so-called secondary ticketing market companies".
He continued: "I heard Christiaan from Sandbag speak at In The City on a panel about this sector and his anger, passion and vision for change inspired me to approach him on-the-spot to partner with AIF on this project. AIF and the Sandbag board, which includes key members of the Radiohead team, have similar values and a will to help improve the situation by offering an alternative way to exchange tickets for non-profit".
Christiaan Munro of Sandbag Limited added: "In the last decade, we have seen the rise of peer-to-peer secondary ticketing initially with auction sites and now with marketplaces set up exclusively to cater to opportunist individuals. There is a finite amount of money that fans have to spend on music and entertainment and we often see tickets we have sold being sold at more than ten times the face value. The increase in ticket price, with profit siphoned away, can only be to the detriment of the music industry as a whole. Secondary ticketing for profit is not yet illegal for concert tickets, but it's just plain wrong. Fans should not have to pay over the odds for tickets just because one of their peers with no intention of going to the show got in there first".
TURNTABLE.FM RAISING FINANCE
Turntable.fm, which lets users become virtual DJs and play music to other users in their virtual room, who can in turn chat back through inbuilt instant messaging, has been building quite a bit of buzz since it opened to the public in May, even though licensing restrictions forced owners to shut out any users outside America.
There has been some chatter as to the possible value of the platform for artists looking to promote or get fan feedback on new tracks, though given the tendency of people to be more negative when anonymously posting online, not all artists may want to take part, given the potential for a torrent of abuse.
Diplo tried just that last week, with mixed success, partly because he didn't silence the 'ping' noise the in-built IM system makes, so that that kept sounding over his music. However, the label he owns, Mad Decent, is still previewing other new content via the website.
WILL FACEBOOK MUSIC AND SPOTIFY US LAUNCHES COINCIDE?
According to Hypebot, programmer Jeff Rose has come across some code referring to something called Facebook Vibes. He says the code connects with a "music download dialogue in the page". Hypebot speculates that this relates to the much rumoured integration of Spotify into the Facebook platform, which it reckons could go live at the same time the Swedish streaming music service launches Stateside.
As previously reported, although there have been many reports of Facebook being in talks with Spotify, there have been rumours of talks with a number of other music services too, so that many reckon the new Facebook music channel - Vibes as it seems it might be called - will provide access to various different digital music providers, but within the Facebook interface.
Talking of Spotify, the Wall Street Journal has been citing some sources as saying the streaming music platform could go live in the US this week. Other reports say Team Spot have been telling American advertising agencies they expect to sign up 50 million subscribers Stateside in their first year, which seems ambitious, though might be based in part on the planned exposure via Facebook.
ROSS POSSIBLY INVOLVED IN ABSOLUTE RADIO BID
Current Absolute owners TIML Radio reportedly let it be known they were accepting offers for the national music station back in April. They rebranded the station Absolute when they bought the radio franchise from previous owners SMG back in 2008, because they competed with Virgin in India, and the Virgin Group therefore refused to licence them use of the name. But, reports say, the Virgin Group would be another minority shareholder in this consortium, allowing the new owners to restore the radio station's former title.
According to Sky's City Editor Mark Kleinman, Ross met with Richard Branson and the man leading the bid, former Virgin Radio boss John Pearson, last week to discuss possible involvement. Although no agreement has yet been reached, there is seemingly interest. Kleinman says that the majority of the £20 million needed to buy Absolute would come from private equity, with Ross and the Virgin Group both taking only minority stakes in the new firm.
It is thought UTV, owners of Talk Sport, may also bid for Absolute, mainly with a view to launching a second talk station on its national AM frequency. They'd then likely use Absolute's London FM frequency for a music station, maybe maintaining the Absolute brand, though there were rumours they too might try to do a deal with Virgin about licensing use of that name in the radio space once again.
BILLY ADVISES "NEVER BUY THE SUN"
The scandal looks to dominate the UK news agenda for some time yet, as various politicians look to block (or seriously delay) the aforementioned Sky deal, and police investigations and public inquiries move forward. Meanwhile, the story went well and truly global after last week's revelations, though word has it that widespread public anger in the US - the heart of Murdoch's News Corp empire - was short lived, meaning any American dimension of the crisis probably depends on whether allegations the News Of The World attempted to hack the voicemails of 9/11 victims are proven to be true.
But hey, this is an 'and finally' story, let's keep it light. And as Jarvis Cocker pretended to wipe his arse with a copy of the final NOTW at T In The Park yesterday, good old Billy Bragg set the whole scandal to song. Called 'Never Buy The Sun', his lyrics target the Sunday paper's still alive and possibly soon to expand to seven-days-a-week sister title The Sun, noting that the paper has never sold well in Liverpool since its coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989. Hear the song here.