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DIGITAL OUTPERFORMS PHYSICAL FOR FIRST TIME IN UK RECORD INDUSTRY
Overall digital made £86.5 million for the British record industry in the first quarter of 2012, with physical sales taking overall recorded music revenues to £155.8 million, which is 2.7% up on the same quarter last year. None of this, of course, includes any newer revenue streams that some labels enjoy, if they have become involved in their artists' other activity, such as publishing, live or merchandise.
Commenting on these figures, BPI boss Geoff Taylor told CMU: "This is a significant milestone in the evolution of the music business. UK record labels have embraced digital to their core, supporting innovation and licensing more new online and mobile services than any other country. As a result, the industry's prospects for growth look brighter than for several years".
SKY BLOCKS THE PIRATE BAY
Moves to include a web-block injunctions system in the Digital Economy Act in 2010 were essentially rejected in parliament, but lawyers for the movie industry successfully argued that such injunctions were possible under existing copyright law. They are used to stop UK consumers from accessing copyright infringing websites that are based outside the jurisdiction of the British courts, where direct action against the accused site itself is impossible.
Using the Newzbin case as precedent, the BPI successfully secured five web-block orders against The Pirate Bay at the end of April, ordering Virgin Media, Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk and O2 to block access to TPB for their respective customers. Virgin was first to comply, and Sky followed suit yesterday. Everything Everywhere has reportedly also already instigated the block, while TalkTalk and O2 are still working on it. The deadlines for having the block in place varied - for some ISPs it was tomorrow - though O2 has an extra couple of weeks for some reason. A separate application from the BPI for a court order to force BT to also block the Bay is pending.
Confirming it had now blocked the Bay, Sky said in a statement yesterday: "We have invested billions of pounds in high-quality entertainment for our customers because we know how much our customers value it. It's therefore important that companies like ours do what they can, alongside the government and the rest of the media and technology industries, to help protect their copyright".
Of course, and as also previously reported, all web-blocks are circumventable if you know what you are doing, and various websites and blogs now provide information on how to access The Pirate Bay via an ISP that has in theory blocked it. And, with ISPs in Belgium also being forced by the courts to block the file-sharing site, the Bay has just set up a new IP address for its service to make it easier for users accessing the net via a web-blocking ISP to reach the site.
These will also be blocked by the ISPs in due course (either automatically or in response to new instructions from the courts), though the Bay says it is sitting on hundreds of IP addresses, and will switch every time access to an existing one is prevented.
Some argue that the fact web-blocks are circumventable means this method for tackling file-sharing is pointless, though many rights owners would argue that - while blocks may always be passable - the blockades make the file-sharing experience less user-friendly, and if at the same time licensed music services can become more user-friendly, then for the mainstream audience that will strike a blow against file-sharing.
DUTCH PARLIAMENT OPPOSES ACTA
As previously reported, the long-in-development treaty was criticised in some quarters while it was being negotiated, though widespread opposition has only come since the first countries signed up to the agreement late last year. The European Union and 22 EU countries, including the UK, then signed the treaty at the start of this year, although some of those countries (though not the UK) have subsequently said they are reviewing their support of the agreement, and the European Parliament and European Courts Of Justice are both still to consider it too.
The Netherlands were one of the EU countries not to sign ACTA in January, though the government there did intend to give the agreement its backing eventually. However, following public protests about the agreement, politicians there have now come out against the IP treaty. The Dutch government says it is holding off making a decision one way or another until the ECJ has ruled on whether any provisions in the agreement violate any fundamental EU rights.
As previously reported, supporters of ACTA insist it is essential for ensuring the survival of copyright and trademark based industries, and that in Europe all the provisions in the agreement are already part of European law, so it won't actually result in any new intellectual property rules. But opponents criticise the way much of the agreement was negotiated in secrecy, and say that some of the treaty is worded ambiguously, and might enable nations signed up to it to introduce, via the back door, draconian new IP laws that hinder people's internet freedom rights.
The Dutch Pirate Party welcomed their parliaments new found opposition to ACTA, though noted that most political parties in the country previously supported the agreement, and accused politicians of changing their stance now because of upcoming elections, aware of public opposition to the treaty.
ASA DECLINES TO RULE ON LIVE AND UNSIGNED ADVERTISING
As previously reported, it was a band called Underline The Sky that made a complaint to the ASA. They claimed that they had never seen any of the prizes that had been promised in the contest's original advertising after winning Live And Unsigned in 2010. Organisers of the competition admitted that, for various reasons, prizes had changed that year, but said that the changes had been communicated, and that Underline The Sky had refused to accept the alternative prizes.
Either way, the ASA says it cannot rule on Live And Unsigned's 2010 adverts because they were issued too long ago - the advertising industry regulator only considers ads that have been in circulation within the last three months. The Authority added that it would monitor Live And Unsigned's 2012 advertising instead.
Organisers of Live And Unsigned welcomed the ruling, adding: "We can now continue with giving artists opportunities that are very difficult to come by in the music industry".
Meanwhile, Underline The Sky drummer James Hicks said the band were "disappointed with the [ASA] investigation", but added: "We hope that we've rattled a few bones. If we can make people a bit more wary of [the competition], it's a minor win".
As also previously reported, when investigating the original complaint the BBC discovered other former competitors in Live And Unsigned who were unhappy with the contest, though also past participants who spoke positively of the enterprise. What is probably true is that a band's experience of any unsigned band competition will depend to an extent on their exceptions. Even winners of 'X-Factor' aren't assured long term fame and fortune after victory, and the same is true of all new talent competitions, though usually more so.
ODD FUTURE SIGN TRASH TALK
And if you'd like to see that same announcement as delivered by Odd Future's very own L-Boy, look no further than this little tirade: "So them muthafuckin ova at Odd Future records done signed a fuckin group of crackas and niggas in a hardcore punk band called Trash Talk. I mean it makes sense since Odd Future fans is them white niggas anyway. Trash Talk is supposed to be releasing they album called '119' or some shit thru they Trash Talk Collective label in the fall. Don't ask me what the fuck that means cuz I don't fuckin kno".
Oh, but he's not done... "I asked Tyler's trick ass what he thought about that shit and I really didn't give a fuck so I'm not gone put that shit on here. Them Trash Talk niggas is currently over in Europe with them musty muthafuckas. If you give a fuck about they shit then listen to them niggas' EP on iTunes called 'Awake' or watch the fuckin video nigga".
The 'Awake' EP was released by True Panther back in October last year. Assuming you give more of a shit than L-Boy, here's the video for the title track: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDkbdMfZ27g
SLIPKNOT PREPARING GREATEST HITS RELEASE AND... SOMETHING ELSE
So, nice and mysterious. Except the band's frontman Corey Taylor later tweeted: "I believe 17 Jul is when the Slipknot greatest hits album drops". He may not be entirely sure, but that's good enough for us. He also revealed that the band are working on new demos, though stressed that this was not in preparation for a new album as yet.
More pressing for Taylor, in fact, is the matter of something called HoGaB, which he keeps referring to via the social network. By my calculations he's due to announce what that is on 9 Jun. So that's fun.
In other Slipknot news, percussionist Shawn 'Clown' Crahan is publishing a book of photographs called 'The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey' featuring a foreword by Metallica's Lars Ulrich in which he announces that "this book is everything that art should be". High praise from Mr Ulrich there. Pre-order it here.
And watch that 'Antennas To Hell' video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LnakYpl4Ak
MATTHEW DEAR RELEASING NEW LP SHORTLY
Just ask Dear, who says: "I try to write straight forward pop music. But it always comes out askew and off-kilter. I will say that 'Beams' is a turn toward the proverbial light. The songs on this album are the most honest I've written yet. Most of them are still entwined in a cryptic lyrical mesh that I won't figure out for another few years or so, but trust me, the mesh is honest".
And here's a proverbial hors d'oeuvres in the form of LP featurette 'Her Fantasy':
TEENGIRL FANTASY PREP SECOND RECORD
Described in unison by TF's Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi as "more focused, far-reaching and taking more risks" than their 2010 debut '7AM', it will feature collaborations with Panda Bear and Laurel Halo. What it won't include, though, is the band's new single 'Motif', which is released on 25 Jun.
Listen to it after a glance at this 'Tracer' tracklisting:
DIRTY PROJECTORS SET LONDON DATE
FOXES TO TOUR
Look, she's even shared the below live listings and the just debuted 'In Her Arms', which will be released as part of said EP on 9 Jul.
16 Jun: Bristol, Start The Bus
ROLO TOMASSI ANNOUNCE TOUR
And the dates are:
21 Oct: Bristol, Fleece
BARBICAN STAGING TRANSCENDER CONCERT FESTIVAL
Amongst those artists set to enthral audiences across various East London venues between 17-30 Sep, this year's edition will feature appearances by the Sun Ra Arkestra led by Marshall Allen, Oneohtrix Point Never, plus an exclusive collaboration between Persian maestro Hossein Alizadeh and Armenian musician Djivan Gasparyan.
Full listings at www.barbican.org.uk/transcender
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BEACONS FESTIVAL, Funkirk Estate, Skipton, Yorkshire, 17-19 Aug: Touted indie types Beak>, Veronica Falls, Visions Of Trees, Japandroids, Pale Seas and Pins have the honour of completing an already fulsome Beacons billing, as also features Wild Beasts, Toots & The Maytals, Roots Manuva, Patrick Wolf, Ghostpoet, Jessie Ware. www.greetingsfrombeacons.com
BERLIN FESTIVAL, Tempelhof Airport/Arena Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 7-8 Sep: Nicolas Jaar, Miike Snow, Crocodiles, When Saints Go Machine and more represent the latest artists destined to play at Berlin Festival 2012, and accompany the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Friendly Fires, Sigur Rós, Grimes, Friends and Junior Boys on the line-up at large. www.berlinfestival.de
BILBAO BBK, Spain, 12-14 Jul: Brand new additions Sum 41, Eli 'Paperboy' Reed and The Big Pink join The Cure, Radiohead, Garbage, Keane, Mumford & Sons, Bloc Party, Snow Patrol, The Kooks, Glasvegas and James Murphy at the 2012 edition of Bilbao's premiere music fiesta. www.bilbaobbklive.com
FRESH ISLAND FESTIVAL, Zrce Beach, Pag, Croatia, 5-8 Jul: In proud possession of a varied programme featuring "extreme sport, beaches, gastronomy... and (natural) beauty", Fresh Island's live line-up features US hip hop types Nas, Eve and Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs, with Punchline, DJ Soul Clap and DJ Revolution also slated to appear. www.fresh-island.org
GUILFEST, Guildford, Surrey, 13-15 Jul: GuilFest's latest intake includes Bjorn Again, Dodgy, Alvin Stardust, Bastille, Rolo Tomassi and plus-sized Take That tribute band Take Fat, all of whom align with the previously announced Olly Murs, Bryan Ferry, Jools Holland, Tulisa, Jimmy Cliff, Gary Numan, Candi Staton, Cher Lloyd and Tim Minchin. www.guilfest.co.uk
PITCHFORK FESTIVAL PARIS, Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris, France, 1-3 Nov: The initial line-up for Pitchfork's Parisian bash houses M83, Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Robyn and Sébastien Tellier, with further acts still to be confirmed. www.pitchforkmusicfestival.fr
BRANDS AT FESTIVALS NOTICED AND APPRECIATED, SURVEY SAYS
According to Havas's 'why brands taking over festivals is marvellous' survey, 65% of respondents felt brands improve the festival experience, while 85% reported that they "liked the brand activations they visited" (one assumes those aren't the actual words respondents used, unless every single respondent worked in marketing, and was the sort of person who says "wow factor" in anything other than a sarcastic voice).
Not only did consumers respond positively to brand involvement in festivals, but they frequently noticed brand activity (60% of brands active on site at any one festival were recalled) and over a third said that a brand's involvement in a festival would make them more likely to subsequently buy that company's products or services.
Commenting on the survey, Havas's Fredda Hurwitz told reporters: "Our research does much to dispel the view that music festivals are a dangerous arena for brand sponsors and suggests brands are a welcome part of the festival experience if they develop activations that add value".
He continued: "This research, combined with our own experience building campaigns for a variety of brands in music, including Orange and Coca-Cola, leads us to recommend that the best strategy for brands looking to sponsor a festival is to create exciting, unexpected experiences for fans that have a 'wow' factor [there it is]. Festival goers are passionate about music but they go to festivals first and foremost to live an incredible moment with friends - so signage or sampling alone will not get their attention".
Social media is also important as part of any festival sponsorship, Hurwitz added, noting: "We found music festival goers spend an average 220% more time online than the average global consumer which indicates a memorable on-site experience combined with social network interaction could help brands build long-term relationships with music lovers".
TWITTER AND PEPSI PARTNER ON MUSIC PROGRAMME
Says PepsiCo's Brad Jakeman: "The Pepsi partnership with Twitter is awesome on so many levels. Twitter is the quintessential 'now-time' media, which is a natural fit with our 'Live For Now' global campaign. Combine that with Pepsi's long association with music and the result makes for a cool and innovative experience for music fans everywhere".
Don't forget you can follow CMU's 'now-moments' on the quintessential 'now-time' media platform, where we too provide cool and innovative 'now-read' nuggets that have a lot of the 'wow factor' at twitter.com/cmu. See, I could work in marketing.
BMG DEALS: FRANCIS DREYFUS MUSIC, POKÉMON
BMG boss Hartwig Masuch told CMU: "We are very happy to be able to represent Dreyfus's outstanding songwriters and artists. The Dreyfus jazz catalogue in particular is well-renowned and we see tremendous licensing potential in it".
Meanwhile Hélène Dreyfus, widow of Francis, who founded his music company in 1970 and died in 2010, told reporters: "This was an important decision for my daughters and me. It was paramount for us to find a potential suitor who would continue the work of Francis with the same spirit of courage, fidelity and generosity that was always his way. After many months of conversation, we believe and trust that BMG will continue in this same manner. We are pleased to make this announcement. We also want to acknowledge our small but dedicated family of long time employees for their hard work and continued loyalty, especially during a difficult period".
Elsewhere in BMG news, the music company announced yesterday it had renewed its exclusive worldwide administration deal with The Pokémon Company International, helping the Japanese firm manage, develop and exploit the music assets generated by the Pokémon franchise. Chrysalis, now part of BMG, has worked with the Pokémon firm since 1998.
BMG Chrysalis exec Laurent Hubert told CMU: "We have had the privilege of growing with Pokémon since its US debut in 1998. Pokémon was one of our first audio-visual based clients and has evolved into a cultural phenomenon, enjoying tremendous success throughout the world".
Meanwhile JC Smith, Director Of Consumer Marketing for The Pokémon Company International said: "BMG Chrysalis US has been a valued partner for over a decade and we look forward to our continued relationship with them".
These two deals come as BMG announces it is now actively managing over a million publishing copyrights, which it reckons makes it the fourth biggest music publisher in the world behind the majors (assuming you now count Sony/ATV and EMI as one company). Which is pretty impressive since the new BMG only launched in 2008. Though it has had access to a lot of cash courtesy of equity group business partners KKR, which has helped somewhat with the firm's prolific acquisition spree.
PARKER SAYS APPLE MAY HAVE TRIED TO HINDER SPOTIFY'S US LAUNCH
Napster co-founder, Facebook investor and Spotify advisor Parker was sitting on a panel with the streaming service's boss man Daniel Ek at an All Things Digital event in California yesterday. According to Reuters, it was interviewer Walt Mossberg who raised the issue, asking whether either man felt that the iTunes operator might have used its influence in the US record industry to slow down Spotify's arrival Stateside.
Parker responded: "There was some indication that that might have been happening", before adding "there is definitely a sense in which Apple was threatened by what we were doing". Though he admitted that the idea Apple that may have actively hindered Spotify's negotiations with the US record companies was only hearsay - "you hear things, people send you emails".
Ever the reliably discreet chief executive (though not quite as good a conference booking as a result), Ek declined to comment on either Mossberg's question or Parker's response, though he did that Spotify is "not about competing with iTunes" but rather going head to head with piracy.
How big a threat Apple really thinks Spotify is to iTunes and its related businesses isn't clear, though in Sweden - the one market where Spotify really is a serious competitor to the Apple download store - it's thought the IT giant has given a lot of consideration to how to better compete with its newer rival.
DJ FRESH WOULD CONSIDER COWELL'S DJ FACTOR SHOW
Asked by Digital Spy if he'd be willing to judge on a show like that, the drum n bass and dubstep producer said: "Yeah, if it meant I could carry across the scepticism of where I'm from - which is something they probably need. If I didn't really think about it my answer would probably be 'no', but the more I've thought about it I think I would have a different perspective than the other people on the panel".
Admitting that many in the dance music community would be cynical about the ability of a 'DJ Factor' show to really discover the next big producer or superstar DJ, Fresh, real name Daniel Stein, added: "I think the one thing 'X-Factor' has really highlighted is the way music promotion is changing. It's becoming more about people interacting with something they think they should want. Although you can be sceptical about 'The X-Factor' and the people that come out of it, ultimately it's the public who determines who's popular and who wins".