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AMERICAN RADIO ROYALTIES UP FOR DEBATE IN CONGRESS
As previously noted, while in Europe radio stations must pay royalties to the owners of both the song and recording copyrights that exist in tracks (so generally music publishers and record labels respectively), under the US copyright system terrestrial broadcasters only need to pay a song royalty, meaning record labels do not earn any money when their recordings are played on air. The record companies have never liked this, but have lobbied ever harder on the issue in recent years as traditional record sales have slumped and licensing revenue becomes more and more important for the labels.
There is some sympathy for the record industry in Washington on this issue and, after pressure was applied by the American political community, the radio industry did begin talks with the labels a couple of years back, and a deal was on the table for a while, but it all fell through at the last minute. And while there are supporters on Capitol Hill for the introduction of a statutory right for the owners of sound recordings to receive royalties from radio, the radio lobby is strong in Washington, not least because of the big influence talk radio has on popular political opinions in the States.
Big Machine's landmark deal with Clear Channel sees the country label offer more favourable terms on internet radio services, where US copyright law says a royalty is due, in return for payment for airplay on FM and AM stations. Clear Channel is investing a lot in the net side of its business, which is why Big Machine's proposals were well received, plus it's possible the broadcasting giant recognises that some sort of statutory obligation to pay royalties to the labels is now inevitable, and if it can reach deals now it will have a competitive advantage if and when that happens. Though the Big Machine arrangement is very much a pilot with a relatively small label - it remains to be seen if similar deals are struck with other indies and the majors down the line.
But yesterday in Washington the radio industry remained opposed to paying sound recording royalties, relying on to the classic argument in this domain: that the labels get free promotion from radio airplay. Though much of the debate actually centred on the discrepancies that now exist, where online and satellite music services do have to pay the labels a royalty, but AM/FM outlets do not.
In the words of Cary Sherman, boss of the Recording Industry Association Of America: "The bottom line is that every platform that legally plays music pays to do so - except for one. AM/FM radio stations use music to draw billions of dollars in advertising revenue for themselves, but they don't pay a cent to artists, musicians and sound recording owners who make the music they use. Music remains a centrifugal force in culture and commerce, and it's only going to get stronger. It's worth creating, and it's worth protecting".
Pandora boss Tim Westergren was also on hand to criticise the inequality that exists in US copyright law that gives traditional broadcasters a big competitive advantage over his business. According to Billboard he told the amassed congressmen: "While Pandora and other internet radio services compete directly with broadcast and satellite radio for listeners in every place you find music - the home, the car, the office, on the go - we are subject to an astonishingly disproportionate royalty burden compared to these other formats".
Presenting the maths, he said: "Last year, on revenues of $274 million, Pandora paid $137 million in performance fees to performing artists and labels, or 50% of revenue. That same year, [satellite broadcaster] Sirius/XM, on revenues of $2.74 billion, paid $205 million, or 7.5% of revenue; and broadcast radio, on revenues of roughly $15 billion, paid zero. Now I am fully supportive of fair compensation for artists. I'm a musician, and I strongly believe that radio can and should reward musicians for the use of their work - both songwriters and performers. But this lack of a level playing field is fundamentally unfair and indefensible".
But Steven Newberry of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Corporation, speaking for the traditional radio industry, argued that it was wrong to equate AM/FM radio with newer online music services. He told Congress: "Given the evidence of broadcast radio's continuing appeal, I am not at all surprised that new digital music services endeavour to style themselves as 'radio'. They want to claim our heritage, but the concept and reality of the radio industry that I represent before you today is much more than the mere audio transmission offered by many [online] services. We are part of the fibre of our local communities, and we intend to stay that way".
Pointing out that moves to introduce a "performance tax" for the AM/FM broadcasters comes at a volatile time for both the radio and recording industries, Newberry said that the American radio industry still "vigorously opposes" the introduction of any public performance royalty for sound recording owners, arguing that "record labels and performing artists profit from the free exposure provided by radio airplay". However, Newberry said his industry supported more debate and sought more clarity on royalty issues, especially in the online domain, and was willing to take part in further discussions, even though, he claimed, the record industry torpedoed their last attempts at a compromise.
So there you go, all parties basically confirmed they still think what they've always thought in this debate. Though all eyes will still surely be on the Big Machine/Clear Channel alliance, which is possibly where resolution really lies. You can read more of Sherman, Westergren and Newberry's statements on Billboard here.
BEACH HOUSE CALL "COP OUT" ON VW'S COPYCAT DENIAL
Denying any notion of copying and maintaining that the song in its ad was merely 'inspired' by the 'dream pop' genre with which Beach House are most associated, VW says: "We greatly respect the talent of Beach House and never set out to replicate a specific song of theirs or anyone else's. Most important to us was to find a track which matched the narrative of the advert, and we believe we have achieved this in the final edits". And yet it the ad track sounds so very like 'Take Care'.
And while VW may not have been directly involved, it does seem that there may well be more to all this than the car firm would 'take care' (sorry) to admit.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the band's manager Jason Forster was contacted multiple times by the agency behind the ad, DDB, asking to use the duo's song, adding that having a sync in such a high-profile TV promo could prove "an amazing PR opportunity" for Beach House, particularly as it would first air during 'Britain's Got Talent'.
A producer from the agency is also alleged to have told Forster that "I'd be happy to jump on a call, fly someone to the US, offer more money and listen to anything you have to say". Meanwhile the studio which created the final song for the advert, Sniffy Dog, told WSJ it couldn't comment due to a confidentiality agreement.
Camp Beach House, meanwhile, are said to be considering taking legal action, though this hasn't yet been confirmed. You can read the WSJ's commentary on the Beach House case (and the cult of the 'soundalike') here.
Take Care video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZxrIbTMJr4
ROBIN GIBB FUNERAL TODAY
A statement from the Gibb family said that plan is based on the singer's own wishes, telling reporters: "At his wish, [Robin] will say a final goodbye to fans and his hometown of Thame, Oxon, this Friday prior to the funeral".
A separate public memorial for Gibb, who died last month after battling with various illnesses, is planned for later in the year.
HUNT AXES COMMUNICATIONS GREEN PAPER, OPTS FOR SEMINARS INSTEAD
The green paper would have kicked off the drafting of a new Communications Act, which will reform the way the British broadcasting and internet sectors are regulated, amongst other things. A new act is still planned, however, with the culture ministry promising a series of 'policy seminars' to feed into a white paper early next year, which will ultimately lead to new legislation.
Justifying the change in its plans regards communications law reform, the Department Of Culture, Media & Sport said it no longer believed a "root and branch" reform of communications regulation is required, so the seminar route was more appropriate than putting initial ideas formally down in writing. The seminars will take place from July to September.
The radio industry will be more pissed off by the backtrack on the green paper than the music business, it hoping for an overhaul of the rules governing terrestrial radio services, which many radio station owners believe are too strict given they are now competing with so many new rivals on digital networks and the internet.
Though the obligations of internet service providers in policing piracy is also likely to be covered by any new Communications Act, which obviously does interest the music industry, especially given the fact that the ISP-involving anti-filesharing three-strikes system in theory set up by 2010's Digital Economy Act is yet to actually go live.
The radio industry is also likely to use any review of broadcasting laws to call for an axing of the public performance royalty requirement on offices, shops and bars which play out music radio on their premises, which means said establishments need licences from royalty bodies PRS and PPL even though the radio stations have already paid royalties on the music they air. So the music industry could both win and lose from any new broadcasting legislation.
Quite what form the 'policy seminars' will take, and how the music industry will be involved, remains to be seen. The Communications Act review will be ongoing alongside the government's current consultation on copyright law. The music industry also waits with baited breath for the latest report from media regulator OfCom on exactly how that mythical three-strikes system will work.
JACKSON ESTATE SUED FOR A BILLION BY SUPPOSED EX-LOVER OF KING OF POP
According to TMZ, the handwritten lawsuit alleges that Jackson promised to give the woman, Kimberly Griggs, the rights to the tracks in which their supposed romance was documented. Though she's also suing on the basis that Jackson exposed her personal secrets, as well as for unpaid royalties.
RIHANNA NOT ILL, OK?
The singer has cancelled some UK activity, including, seemingly, involvement in a planned fashion-based reality TV programme due to be made for Sky Living. But, says the singer on Twitter, Sky's sister newspaper The Sun was way wrong when it said that she had quit the telly project because of ill health, brought on by months of partying far too hard.
Writing on the tweets, Rihanna said yesterday: "Nonsense, I'm not sick! I pushed my trip to London back to go spend time with my family! Sorry kiddos", before adding: "The Sun newspaper is like a fuckin ass hair, full of shit!" What a lovely image, thanks for that Rihanna.
Meanwhile, the singer's later than planned arrival in the UK will not affect her headline booking for this year's Wireless festival on 8 Jul, organisers of the Hyde Park event confirmed yesterday, and she's also still set to play Radio 1's Hackney Weekend later this month.
BOB WELCH 1945 - 2012
Born in 1945, Welch was the son of movie producer Robert L Welch and actress Templeton Fox. In the late 60s he left LA, where he had grown up, to study French at the Sorbonne in Paris. While living in Europe, in 1971 he auditioned to join Fleetwood Mac in England and, having been accepted, returned back to the US with the band, intending to complete his studies at UCLA (although he never did).
The band had been through several line-up changes since forming in 1968, and Welch's first album with them, 'Future Games', (their fifth) saw them moving away from their original blues sound and more towards pop. And after lead guitarist Danny Kirwan was fired from the band, Welch's role in their artistic direction became more prominent.
In 1974 Fleetwood Mac recorded their ninth album, 'Heroes Are Hard To Find', which was their first to crack the US top 40 but Welch's last with the band. With his marriage failing, and feeling that he had reached his creative limits with the band, he quit and was replaced by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, completing the band's most famous and most successful line-up.
He briefly formed a new band, Paris, with whom he released two albums, before going solo with the album 'French Kiss' in 1977. The album featured a new version of 'Sentimental Lady', a song he had originally written for Fleetwood Mac's 1972 album 'Bare Trees'. The reworked version featured his former bandmates Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie, as well as his replacement Lindsey Buckingham, and went into the US top ten. The album too became the most successful of any of he appeared on.
As this collaboration shows, Welch was initially on good terms with his former bandmates. Indeed, Mick Fleetwood managed Welch's solo career into the 80s. However, the relationship turned sour in the 90s, when Welch sued his former bandmates, accusing them of renegotiating their royalty rates without informing him and depriving him of a higher income. The dispute controversially led to Welch being left out of the band's induction into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame four years later in 1998.
Welch continued to record and perform, releasing his most recent album in 2006, a second of two albums mixing previously unreleased material from his Fleetwood Mac years and new material.
In a statement yesterday, Mick Fleetwood told Reuters: "He was a very, very profoundly intelligent human being and always in good humour, which is why this is so unbelievably shocking. He was a huge part of our history which sometimes gets forgotten ... mostly his legacy would be his song writing abilities that he brought to Fleetwood Mac, which will survive all of us. If you look into our musical history, you'll see a huge period that was completely ensconced in Bob's work".
Welch is survived by his second wife, Wendy.
KERRANG! AWARDS PRESENTED
Anyway, aside from flogging Coke's energy drink, the rock weekly once again celebrated the great and the good of the heavier end of the world of rock, having received over a million votes cast from key consumers of the various Kerrang! multi-media engagement points, as I'm sure the marketing guy who came up with the 'Kerrang! Awards 2012 fuelled by Relentless Energy Drink' name would put it. Live Nation's Download festival, taking place for the tenth year this weekend, was also honoured, both as Best Festival and with a Service To Metal award for its boss, Andy Copping.
In the joke categories Ben Bruce from Asking Alexandria and Lzzy Hale from Halestorm were declared the 'hottest' metallers of 2012, poor things. I hope they were drinking Lemsips rather than Relentless. Paramore's Hayley Williams was congratulated for all her tweeting, and Justin Bieber was named Villain Of The Year, which always seems a bit pointless given how many real villains there are in the world, perhaps the music mags could all agree to rename this category Tedium Of The Year. In the non-music section, 'Skyrim' was declared Best Video Game, 'Game Of Thrones' Best TV Show, and Russell Howard was honoured for being mildy amusing in a way young people enjoy.
Anyway, here's a quote from Kerrang! editor James McMahon and then some winners in a list: "So that's another awards down, for another year, and I think justice was done in all the categories. Rock in 2012 has more than its fair share of heroes, pioneers, legends - and I'm chuffed a large proportion got to take home an oversized metallic K! for their mantelpiece this evening".
Best British Band: You Me At Six
Best Single: Black Veil Brides - Rebel Love Song
The Devotion Award: The Blackout
Best TV Show: Game Of Thrones
Tweeter Of The Year: Hayley Williams, Paramore
AZEALIA BANKS DROPS MANAGER
Carter has told Billboard: "I can confirm that I ended the business relationship with Azealia last month on very amicable terms. She's incredibly talented and I wish her nothing short of an amazing career".
BET has reported rumours that Banks has appointed Coldplay manager Dave Holmes, to whom she is romantically linked, as her new management rep.
IAMAMIWHOAMI ANNOUNCES AV ALBUM
Lee has also created a 45 minute film for issue alongside the long player, as is available via To Whom It May Concern/Cooperative Music from 3 Sep.
View it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfLYfz_25BI
OPOSSOM DEBUT GRANTED INTERNATIONAL RELEASE
The trio, as comprises singer-songwriter Kody Nielson, multi-instrumentalist Bic Runga and bassist Michael Logie, will issue the LP on 6 Aug.
Once you've surveyed the below 'Electric Hawaii' tracklisting, why not sample more of Opossom's opus to date via this corresponding CMU Approved piece.
MUSE TO TAKE ARENA TOUR
Tickets for all five British shows, the first of which takes place on 24 Oct at Glasgow's SECC, go on general sale on 14 Jun.
24 Oct: Glasgow, SECC
JENS LEKMAN DETAILS LP, LIVE DATES
Just ask Jens, who says: "I wanted the songs to take off almost unnoticeably, where the chorus is separated from the verse only through a small detail like a tambourine or a harmony".
Album track 'Erica America' is available to preview below, after this trio of forthcoming UK shows:
19 Sep: Manchester, Ruby Lounge
BEACH HOUSE ADD SHOWS, PREMIERE VIDEO
The band have attached several additional shows to an existing (and sold-out) November date at London's The Roundhouse. Not only that, they've also premiered the video for their new single 'Lazuli', as is taken from their new LP 'Bloom'.
Given all the VW drama in which BH are embroiled, I'm sure you'll appreciate a calming glance at both those things. So here they are:
26 Oct: Belfast, Mandela Hall
KYLIE CONFIRMED FOR HIT FACTORY FEST
But that name is missing no more, because Kylie has been confirmed for the SAW show, and not only that, she's committed to singing 'Especially For You' with the aforementioned Jason, the schmaltzy ballad arguably representing the peak of the Hit Factory era (and, you might say, an all time low for British pop music, though that would be to forget 911, Adam Rickett, Blue and all that David Guetta stuff that's been in the charts recently. And anyway, Kylie and Jason are Australian).
Minogue told Glamour: "I'm going to sing 'Especially For You' with Jason Donovan. I don't think we'll even need to sing it; I'm sure the audience all went through the Neighbours wedding. It's going to bring the house down!"
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Walton-on-Trent, South Derbyshire, 9-12 Aug: With US metallers Machine Head just confirmed as Bloodstock headliners alongside Behemoth and Alice Cooper, the outdoor rock fest will also host Deicide, Sanctuary, Grand Magus, Nile, Mayhem, The Black Dahlia Murder, Dimmu Borgir and Hatebreed. www.bloodstock.uk.com
FARMFESTIVAL, Bruton, in Somerset, 27-28 Jul: Having just unveiled its line-up in full, this year's Farmfestival will star Submotion Orchestra, Man Like Me, The Boy Least Likely To, The Lovely Eggs, The Blood Arm, Trophy Wife, My Tiger My Timing, Polly & The Billets Doux and so very many others besides. www.farmfestival.co.uk
ICELAND AIRWAVES, various venues, Reykjavik, Iceland, 31 Oct - 4 Nov: A recent influx of artists, not least Dirty Projectors, The Vaccines, Purity Ring, Doldrums and Moon Face, will now accompany Sigur Rós, Patrick Wolf, Friends and Django Django on this year's Airwaves roster, as is staged in venues throughout the Icelandic capital. www.icelandairwaves.is
SUPERSONIC, Custard Factory, Birmingham, 19-21 Oct: Such new add-ons as Hype Williams, Swans musician Jarboe, Italian metal band Ufomammut and Australian dance troupe My Disco further enhance Supersonic's niche appeal, aligning with alt luminaries like Kim Gordon's Body/Head, Tim Hecker, JK Flesh, Dylan Carlson and Dope Body. www.supersonicfestival.com
T IN THE PARK, Balado, Scotland, 5-8 Jul: The Coronas, Dry The River, Meek Mill, Dot Rotten and Teengirl Fantasy represent those just-introduced acts now supplementing the T roster, as has so far featured Snow Patrol, The Stone Roses, Kasabian, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Florence And The Machine, Tinie Tempah and New Order. www.tinthepark.com
WATCHET LIVE, Parsonage Farm, Watchet, West Somerset, 24-26 Aug: Transylvanian pop twins The Cheeky Girls prove novel new additions to Watchet's 2012 listings, with The Real Thing and The Popes & Babyhead also joining the previously announced likes of The Blockheads, Mad Dog Mcrea and The Wurzels. 'Eclectic' just isn't the word. www.watchetfestival.co.uk
O2 BLOCKS THE PIRATE BAY
On a recent edition of the CMU Weekly podcast, we noted that CMU HQ gets its internet connection from Be Broadband, so wouldn't be affected by these blocks, which have only been forced on the bigger net firms. Though how wrong we were, forgetting, as we did, that since 2006 Be Internet has been owned by O2's parent company, meaning the O2 block applies to us too.
TalkTalk is now the only ISP initially handed an injunction to still block access to its customers to the rogue file-sharing site, though BT - not included in the original set of injunctions - is likely to also come into line in the next few months. Of course, as much previously reported, there are various ways to circumvent the blockade if you so wish. We might have to try one out. Though only for research mind, only ever research.
FACEBOOK LAUNCHES APP STORE
ONE DIRECTION BOY BREAKS TOE WITH LAPTOP
Anyway, this update on Payne's foot was provided by band mate Louis Tomlinson during an interview on 'Good Morning America', where the boy band were plugging their new DVD.
Tomlinson told the telly show: "Liam's actually broken his toe and nobody knows".
Urged to reveal all, Payne added: "I broke it about a week ago now, I dropped a MacBook Pro on it", before noting "which is not a very exciting story at all". Which is true. It is not.
Though by telling it on US TV, one assumes a new MacBook is now in the post from a shrewd PR department at Apple HQ. And maybe some steel capped boots from Dr Marten.
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #113: ERYKAH BADU V WAYNE COYNE
Things started well when last Thursday Coyne posted photos from the video to Twitter. The candid shots led many fans to believe that Badu appeared naked in the video, though she clarified that it was actually her younger sister Nayrok Udab who filed the nude scenes, then tweeted Coyne directly to tell him: "It looks beautiful. Nayrok looks amazing. You are a true visionary".
Things changed the next day, however, when the video was premiered on Pitchfork, showing a very naked Nayrok bathing in glitter and (what look kind of like) blood and semen. On Saturday morning it was removed from Vimeo without any reason being given. Then on Wednesday The Flaming Lips issued a statement saying: "The video link that was erroneously posted on Pitchfork by The Flaming Lips of the music video 'The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face', which features Erykah Badu, is unedited and unapproved. Sorry! We, The Flaming Lips, accept full responsibility for prematurely having Pitchfork post it. It has outraged and upset a segment of fans and we apologise if we offended any viewers! This is a Flaming Lips video which features Erykah Badu and her sister Nayrok and is not meant to be considered an Erykah Badu or Nayrok statement, creation, or approved version".
Coyne then also tweeted a similar statement saying that the band were "very sorry if it has offended some of Erykah Badu's more conservative audience". But Badu isn't happy, and she posted a lengthy response, claiming that Coyne had done "everything wrong from the onset".
Badu, of course, is no stranger to nudity in music videos, having previously been forced to defend the promo for her own 'Window Seat', in which she stripped and pretended to be shot dead at the spot where JFK was killed in 1963. Badu protested that the point she was trying to make had been missed, but nonetheless the public nudity cost her a fine and six months probation.
In her response to Coyne she noted this, saying: "Even with 'Window Seat' there was a method and thought process involved. I have not one need for publicity. I just love artistic dialogue. And just because an image is shocking does not make it art. You obviously have a misconception of who I am artistically".
In this case, she complained: "You [Coyne] showed me a concept of beautiful tasteful imagery (by way of vid text messages). I trusted that. I was mistaken. Then you release an unedited, unapproved version within the next few days".
Describing the production process, she went on: "You begged me to sit in a tub of that other shit and I said naw. I refused to sit in any liquid that was not water. But out of RESPECT for you and the artist you 'appear' to be, I didn't wanna kill your concept, wanted you to at least get it out of your head ... So, I invited Nayrok, my lil sis and artist, who is much more liberal, to be subject of those other disturbing (to me) scenes. I told you from jump that I believed your concept to be disturbing. But would give your edit a chance".
She continued: "You then said u would take my shots (in clear water/fully covered parts - seemed harmless enough) and Nayrok's part (which I was not present for but saw the photos and a sample scene of cornstarch dripping) and edit them together along with cosmic, green screen images (which no one saw) then would show me the edit".
She finished by saying: "On behalf of all the artists you have manipulated or plan to manipulate, find another way. These things have been said out of necessity. And if you don't like it, you can kiss my glittery ass".
Presumably he didn't like it, because Coyne's response came: "Hey [Erykah] I kissed it!", along with this picture.
The pair then set about retweeting seemingly endless comments (both positive and negative) from fans, Coyne jumping in twice to message Badu to say: "You hatin on me has gotten the video 100,000 more views [because the video has been unofficially reuploaded several times] ... you said we gonna make a video that is controversial and gets everybody talkin! You the master! Love you".
She came back: "Enjoy your fruits. You'll surely need them later, brother. I'm just a man you met in the restroom".
Coyne's final comments in particular have fanned a theory that this whole dispute has actually been staged, though Badu continues to defend her comments against angry Flaming Lips fans (in fact, the have both continued to tweet and retweet hundreds of times over the last few days). And watching the video, you can see why it might go further than she was expecting and why she might not be entirely happy.
Watch the video (or not) here, courtesy of Perez Hilton: perezhilton.com/2012-06-02-flaming-lips-erykah-badu-the-first-time-i-ever-saw-your-face