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GREAT ESCAPE 2013 DATES ANNOUNCED, EARLY BIRD TICKETS ON SALE
The 2013 edition of The Great Escape will take place in Brighton from 16-18 May, and ridiculously cheap early bird delegate tickets are now available for £80, which will get you access to the entire convention and the whole festival. Tickets are available from here. Rooms can also already be booked in the official convention hotel, The Queens.
As previously reported, the 2012 edition of the CMU-programmed convention last month included conversations with Michael Eavis, Brian Molko and Xfm's John Kennedy, and debates on the impact of sync and the art of music supervision, the pros and cons of local music scenes, and live opportunities for new bands across Europe.
An expanded networking programme gave delegates direct access to key distributors, agents, bookers and digital innovators, and also included the first ever Digital Pitch Party. There were focused strands on what it means to DIY, and on the state of the music media, plus the return of John Robb's Pop Question Time, the popular Heroes & Villains session, our very own Yearly Music Conference Awards and much more. See our summary here.
The 2013 event will be even bigger and better, with the networking strand of the proceedings further expanded, and another packed programme of great debates, conversations and insight sessions. Needless to say, watch this space for more information.
MU HITS OUT AT OLYMPIC MUSICAL FREEBIES
It follows a number of reports from musicians around the country that they have been approached by people involved in Olympic ventures who have asked that they play live, or licence their recordings for sync, for free, or next to nothing, because an involvement in Britain's big sporty debacle will be "good promotion". PPL Chairman Fran Nevrkla mentioned reports of such approaches at the collecting society's AGM earlier this month, calling the offers "shameful and deeply offensive". Meanwhile the MU says such offers go against previous commitments made by LOCOG, the body running the London Games, which said any musicians involved would be paid.
One artist told the Corporate Watch website: "They [Olympic organisers] said they were really keen for us to play on major stages at different events. We replied quoting our normal fees. After months of meetings they offered us a raft of gigs but said it was LOCOG's policy not to pay any musicians for performing. They should stop trying to capitalise on the image of the Olympics and pay a fair rate for our services".
Meanwhile The Quietus, which has been following this story closely, has heard from a musician approached about a sync arrangement (quite why artists would be approached directly for such deals isn't clear, as most acts would be in contract with a label and publisher who would control such arrangements, but there you go).
The Quietus writes: "His group had been approached regarding the use of one of their songs to accompany footage to be shown on screens in the various venues in the Olympic Park. The fee [for usage for] the rest of the year... a princely £250 to the artist. The Quietus learns that £250 per master usage and publishing is the standard rate being offered [for] music syncs at the Olympic site, with the you-can't-bank-it carrot of exposure being used as the reason for the low fees. Our source described the offer as 'beyond insulting' and, needless to say, his band's music will not be featured at the Olympics".
Responding to the various reports of Olympic events asking for freebies from musicians, the MU said yesterday: "This is completely unacceptable and the MU is urging any musician who is approached to call their MU Regional Office and report it. We are chasing every single example with LOCOG, and we are also going public where appropriate. We are also in touch with the TUC, as LOCOG signed a Principles Of Cooperation with them which specifically states that professional workers will be paid for their services and are distinct from the unpaid volunteer workforce".
Meanwhile the Union's Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge told CMU: "LOCOG have repeatedly told us that all professional musicians will be paid, and yet we've seen example after example of them breaking their word. If they want musicians to entertain thousands of people then they should pay for it. It is difficult enough to earn a decent living as a professional musician these days - where does this idea come from that musicians should be happy to work for free? Who else would be?"
He added: "We need as many musicians as possible to come forward about this so that we can put as much pressure on LOCOG as possible. We will also be bringing it to the attention of the general public so that they can decide whether they think it's fair that musicians are not being paid whilst most of the other professionals involved are".
Rising concerns about the treatment of musicians by LOCOG came as the Olympics body announced that a Muse track, called 'Survival', would be the official song of the games. Possibly a tribute to all those hard-working musicians who somehow survive despite having to play the London games, with its multi-billion pound budget and vast family of big business sponsors, for free.
UNIVERSAL SPIN ALLEGEDLY DELAYS IFPI REPORT
According to the Post, it is Universal Music that wants a section focusing on the rise of companies like TuneCore and The Orchard - which help smaller rights owners and self-releasing artists distribute their recordings - in a bid show that it is possible to launch artists in the digital age without access to a major label's marketing and distribution networks.
The mega-major is, of course, keen to play down its own dominance in the record industry as it tries to secure regulator approval in Europe and the US for its proposal to buy the EMI record company, a move that will make it even more dominant.
At the Congressional hearing on the proposed deal last week, Universal chief Lucian Grainge and EMI boss Roger Faxon were very keen to stress that, in the digital age, the power of the traditional major players has decreased significantly in the face of new competition from digital start-ups, and companies that enable artists to release and sell music themselves.
Meanwhile, speaking in support of the deal, Live Nation chief and artist manager Irving Azoff told the Washington political types: "I have no doubt labels add value, but you just don't have to have one in a world where an artist can deliver an album to fans themselves".
But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the other majors, which have to sign off on the IFPI report, are objecting to the inclusion of those statements, believing Universal only wants them included to help smooth over its EMI ambitions. One source told the Post: "[With Universal's proposed amendments] this report suddenly doesn't make sense - it's really unfair".
By "other majors", we can presumably assume it is Warner Music that is objecting. The EMI record company also has an interest in its merger with Universal. And while Sony Corp might not really want a report doing the rounds that tells its investors its position in the recorded music market is weakening, Sony has refrained from commenting on Universal's bid to buy the EMI record labels, because it is leading the consortium that needs regulator approval to buy the EMI music publishing business.
Warner, however, has been lobbying hard against the Universal/EMI deal, with its former CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr, still a board member, speaking out against the acquisition on Capitol Hill last week. Some might, of course, accuse Warner of opposing Universal's latest acquisition because it too bid to buy the EMI labels and lost (and some, of course, includes Azoff, who said exactly that last week). But Warner would argue that it, like the independent sector, has genuine concerns about a combined Universal/EMI with 40% market share of the global recorded music market.
According to the Post, with Universal adamant that the "oh, aren't The Orchard doing well?" line goes in, and Warner refusing to sign off the report if it does, IFPI chief Frances Moore has ruled the document should be delayed until the autumn. By then the Universal/EMI deal may well have been approved, and the major will no longer be portraying itself as a castrated has-been. Needless to say, neither the IFPI or any of the majors have commented on the Post's allegations.
Of course, as some have previously noted, while it's true that The Orchard and one of its main competitors, INgrooves, have become forces to be reckoned with in the digital distribution space (and beyond) working with indies and artists direct, the former is part owned by Sony Music and the latter Universal Music. So while they may not have any control over their new rivals, they share in their success.
JUDGE ALLOWS INTERNATIONAL ROYALTIES DISPUTE TO FEATURE AT NEXT FBT V UNIVERSAL HEARING
As much previously reported, the major labels treat download revenue as record sales money, and pay artists the royalty they are contractually due on such income, usually 15%. But many heritage artists have argued that download revenue should be treated as licensing income, because the labels do one licensing deal with firms like iTunes, rather than having to press, distribute and market actual CDs. It's an important distinction, because many artists will be contractually due a significantly bigger share of licensing deal income than record sales money, maybe as much as 50%.
FBT, who as early Eminem collaborators have a stake in Slim Shady's early recordings, released by Universal's Interscope division, via its Aftermath imprint, successfully sued for the bigger share of digital royalties. And now a string of other major label artists are suing, citing the FBT case as justification for a bigger digital pay out. Though Universal insist the FBT ruling does not set an industry-wide precedent, and the other cases are yet to get to court.
Meanwhile, the FBT case itself rumbles on, because another hearing is needed to work out exactly what the production outfit should be earning from digital sales. And this week, the judge overseeing the case made another ruling in FBT's favour regards some technicalities over how royalties should be calculated, allowing the producers to raise a secondary issue when the case returns to court. And he didn't mince his words either when responding to Universal's arguments as to why said issue should not be considered at this stage.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the latest squabble relates to the way in which money moves between the various Universal Music companies around the world, when tracks released in the US are sold abroad by other divisions of the major. To cut a long story short, according to FBT's lawyers, only about 29% of international revenue actually returns to the major's Aftermath division, with the other 71% being kept by the local Universal companies that actually sell the music (so in the UK that would be Eminem).
Which is an issue, FBT say, because Universal is proposing to only pay new increased royalties on the revenues actually received by Aftermath, and not the revenues held onto by other Universal subsidiaries. Again there's a digital element to this argument. When local Universal labels invest new time and money into physically releasing international artists in their territories, there may be an argument for a system that ultimately pays out less to the artist. But in the digital domain - where US catalogue is simply made available to non-US download stores under existing licensing agreements, then - FBT would argue - the practice is less acceptable.
Anyway, FBT want this issue to be discussed when their case returns to court, but Universal does not. The major argues that this particular matter has already been resolved, and FBT has no business bringing it back up at this stage in the proceedings. That claim is based on the fact that last autumn the major asked the judge for clarification regards the phrase "our net receipts" which had been used in an earlier ruling, and as to whether that referred to Aftermath's net receipts. The judge said it did.
So, when FBT raised the issue of international revenues, Universal's lawyers argued that, in his clarification last year, the judge had already ruled that revenues generated by other Universal subsidiaries were not relevant. Moreover, they said, FBT's legal team would have realised exactly what the major was referring to when it asked for clarification on the "our net receipts" point last year, and if they had an issue with the judge's interpretation of that clause they should have raised it then, not now. Team Universal added that they suspected the plaintiffs deliberately failed to raise the issue then so to cause more trouble now.
However, Judge Philip Gutierrez has not bought that argument, saying in a written judgement that [a] he did not mean to make a ruling on this matter when asked for clarification on "our net receipts" last year, and [b] he doesn't believe that FBT were aware that Universal intended for the international royalties issue to be resolved via that clarification either, because there would be no logic in them choosing to ignore the matter until later.
On the latter point, the judge wrote: "The court is deeply troubled by defendants' argument. While it is hard to see what FBT could gain by feigning ignorance, it is now quite apparent what defendants could hope to gain by bamboozling the court and plaintiffs on this issue. Defendants' current stance makes it appear as though defendants carefully inserted the issue into the motion for summary judgment before they had notified FBT or the Court of what percentage of the revenues from foreign sales of permanent downloads and mastertones would be paid to FBT. An attempt to dupe the court into a premature ruling will not serve as the basis to deny FBT an opportunity to challenge defendants' accounting practices".
All of which means the international royalties issue will be discussed when the FBT case returns to court. Which is a pain for Universal. And I can't imagine being accused of deliberately trying to "dupe" an American court will be particularly helpful when your busy convincing US regulators that your company should be trusted with a 40% market share by allowing you buy the EMI record labels.
IRISH JUDGE SAYS EIRCOM'S THREE-STRIKES OPERATION CAN CONTINUE
As much previously reported, Ireland's biggest ISP, Eircom, voluntarily introduced a so called graduated response system to combat illegal file-sharing as part of a legal settlement with the country's major record companies. Under that agreement, it started sending warning letters to suspected file-sharers, ultimately with the threat of sanctions if file-sharing continued. But Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner started raising concerns about the legalities of the operation, and - after evidence surfaced last year that some warning letters had been sent to the wrong people - ordered it be halted on data protection law grounds.
But both the majors and Eircom raised formal objections to that DPC ruling, and were given permission in late February to take the matter to judicial review. According to the Irish Times, the record industry claimed that the DPC's order was "an unlawful and irrational attempt to reopen data protection issues already determined by the courts in their favour". The Commissioner, for his part, denied that was so.
But this week Judge Peter Charleton basically sided with the record companies, ruling that the DPC failed to provide sufficient justification for his order to Eircom (it was a matter of privacy rights, the DPC said, but that argument was no sufficiently specific, the judge countered). Not only that, but the reasons given - as far as they could be ascertained - "involved a misconstruction of the relevant law".
All of which means that Eircom can resume sending out warning letters to suspected file-sharers. The Irish Recorded Music Association welcomed the ruling and said it planned to continue with its efforts to get a three-strikes system in place both via its agreement with Eircom and beyond.
LIVE NATION SETTLES LEGAL DISPUTE WITH COHL
As previously reported, Live Nation and Cohl began a legal battle in 2010 over the agreement the two parties had reached when Cohl was pushed out of his executive role at the live music major in 2008.
In that agreement Cohl agreed to pay the live music firm nearly $10 million over a number of years in order to circumvent a non-compete clause in his previous contract with the firm, meaning that he could return to independently promoting tours with certain key artists, even though that would mean going into competition with his former employer.
In late 2010 Live Nation accused Cohl of defaulting on those payments, while a few months later Cohl countersued the live firm, saying they were in breach of contact for interfering in his negotiations to promote a Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour (a tour, of course, which ultimately never happened).
But that legal battle is now at an end after Live Nation announced it had amicably resolved the dispute. The boss of Live Nation's global touring division, Arthur Fogel, said yesterday: "We've had a long and fruitful history collaborating with Michael Cohl. We're pleased that we've been able to resolve our differences, and can now get back to working together".
Meanwhile Cohl added: "Live Nation has been a valued partner through the years, and I'm glad that we've been able to put this behind us and move forward".
PIRATE BAY FOUNDER GETS NEW FINE FROM SWEDISH AUTHORITIES
As a result of one of the Bay's many and various legal challenges, both Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svatholm were previously banned from operating the file-sharing search engine, with the threat of substantial fines if they broke the ban. Though by that point the original three founders of the Bay were already insisting they were no longer involved in the running of the controversial website.
However, it seems Neij has now been fined 500,000 Kroner for breaching the order, though he insists no ban has actually been broken, and the fine is the result of a technicality. The Pirate Bay founder has told Torrentfreak that the fine has really been issued because he refuses to reveal to the authorities who has taken over the running of his former website, and that they basically tried to blackmail him into revealing the names of the new Bay management by saying that, if he didn't, they would assume he was still personally involved and fine him.
But Neij called their bluff, arguing that, as he's already liable for $10,000,000+ in damages to be paid to the music and movie industries as a result of the 2009 Pirate Bay trial in Sweden, something he'll never be able to do, having an extra $70,000 added to his debts isn't really that big a deal.
Says Neij: "There is no evidence [that I am still involved in TPB], just a lack of evidence that I am not involved. In a previous case I declined to give the details [about] who I transferred the site to. They say if it's not me, then I could easily say who it is. [It doesn't matter], I don't live in Sweden, and it's not like an extra $71,000 would hurt the $10,606,000 I already owe!"
As previously reported, Neij and his fellow Bay founder Peter Sunde are now trying to get their prison sentences, also dished out at the 2009 trial for the copyright infringement their website enabled, overturned via the European Courts Of Human Rights. Meanwhile Svatholm is still AWOL.
PETE DOHERTY IN THAI DRUG CLINIC
The singer-songwriter has, of course, faced various criminal charges for his prolonged drug use over the years, and was last year jailed over cocaine charges, after being found in possession of the drug after the untimely death of filmmaker Robin Whitehead the previous year.
In 2004, he quit another detox course at Thailand's famed Thamkrabok Monastery after just three days, and despite also spending time in drug clinics in 2006 and 2007, has continued to relapse. Doherty now resides at The Cabin in Chiang Mai (a facility counting Michael Barrymore amongst its previous patients), and is said to be following a "tailored exercise programme including yoga and pursuits such as elephant trekking".
A statement written on Doherty's behalf reads: "Peter has left the building, well not quite, more the country, on his way to rehab in Thailand. He left Heathrow last night and will have arrived in Thailand this morning. We wish him well. He has plans to continue working on his new songs for the album which is eagerly awaited".
FLORENCE WELCH HAS A "CHURCHY" HOUSE PROJECT ON THE GO
It's called er... Side Project, and Welch has classified it thus in a convo with Digital Spy: "We actually have a dance outfit side project called Side Project. We made this weird house track that sounded quite churchy - to be confirmed! As yet it has never seen the light of day".
And by the sound of it, I doubt it ever should.
SNOW PATROL SCRAP ALBUM
Lightbody says that he's written some new "mind-boggling stuff" and wants to put that out instead. Though it sounds like he might also have realised that putting out a load of off cuts from the band's previous album, 'Fallen Empires' (released last November), wasn't that great an idea.
He said: "We recorded a second album during the 'Fallen Empires' session. But we've scrapped that one now. The songs I've been writing recently are light years away from anything I've ever done. It's mind-boggling stuff".
He added that the band planned to record with a number of different producers on the new album, including regular collaborator Jacknife Lee: "We'll be working with Jacknife again, he'll always be in the Snow Patrol camp, but he has suggested we try a few other producers as well".
A$AP ROCKY TALKS DEBUT LP, STARS IN LANA DEL REY VIDEO
It may well also feature collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Santigold and Lana Del Rey - with whom A$AP previewed a duet titled 'Ridin' back in April - though no rumoured guest artists have yet been made official.
Talking of Del Rey, A$AP can at present be seen starring as president John F Kennedy in Lana's ridiculous new video for 'The National Anthem', as appears on her own first LP 'Born To Die'.
And here that video is, not taking itself too seriously at all.
CHAPEL CLUB HAVE MADE A "POP RECORD"
Writes vocalist Lewis Bowman of the new record: "It has touches of the old romance and melancholia, of course, but much more colour and energy and fizz and sparkle besides (at least, it does to my ears). It also has songs you can dance to: finally some CC songs you can dance to! I've been waiting for that since before the band had a name".
Hear all this manifest in 'Sleep Alone'.
TAME IMPALA TEASE NEW RELEASE
Here's a trailer featuring new music from it.
DUCKTAILS ENLISTS ALL-STAR GUESTS FOR NEW LP
Though minus a title, the tbc new long player's cast list includes Madeline Follin on Cults and Oneohtrix Point Never's Daniel Lopatin (and his studio partner Joel Ford), not to mention ex Test Icicles man Sam Mehran (who's now doing this kind of thing as Outer Limitz).
Oh, and since everyone else is at it, the rest of Real Estate will also feature.
RADIOHEAD RESCHEDULE CANCELLED SHOWS
As previously reported, the band told fans that a number of shows would have to be postponed, partly so that they and their team could recover from the loss of drum tech Scott Johnson, and partly so lighting equipment destroyed in the stage collapse could be replaced. The band's summer tour will resume in France on 10 Jul, while cancelled shows have now been rescheduled for late September.
Alongside a note on the band's website announcing the new dates, Radiohead drummer Phil Selway told fans: "Thanks to all of you who have sent messages of support over these past couple of weeks. Scott has touched many people's lives and all your sentiments are testament to this. Our thoughts and love remain with Scott's family".
APHEX TWIN TO CONDUCT 'REMOTE ORCHESTRA' AT BARBICAN
As per the show's premiere in Poland last year, the electronic producer - real name Richard James - will conduct the 40-piece Heritage string orchestra and choir via remote control, creating what The Quietus has christened (http://thequietus.com/articles/06967-european-culture-congress-poland) a "visual score" that can be remixed in real time.
The London performance will also feature 'Interactive Tuned Feedback Pendulum Array', also known as James' interpretation of American maestro Steve Reich's 1963 piece 'Pendulum Music'.
Further details on the one-off date are available here.
FANS CAN DICTATE HOT CHIP LIVE DATE
Lovers of the band can recommend their city - be it York, Stoke-on-Trent or Folkestone - to host Hot Chip by casting a vote or 'pledge' priced at £12.50. Basically, the first city to sell all its tickets - sorry, 'pledges' - wins, and will thus have Hot Chip performing their new LP 'In Our Heads' right inside it.
Details on all three dates here.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BT LONDON LIVE, Hyde Park, London, 28 Jul - 11 Aug: Newton Faulkner, St Etienne, The Temper Trap, The Overtones and The Beat are the latest acts added to the Hyde Park-based edition of BT's free Olympic music extravaganza. There are similar events also taking place in London's Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square, but their line-ups remain as-yet unannounced. www.btlondonlive.com
ELECTRIC PICNIC, Stradbally Hall Estate, Co Laois, Ireland, 31 Aug - 2 Sep: Electric Picnic programmers book Explosions In The Sky, Grimes, Wild Beasts, Dexys and Villagers as extra features of a line-up also housing The Cure, The Killers, Tindersticks, Sigur Rós, Elbow, Grizzly Bear, Orbital, The Killers, Bat For Lashes, Christy Moore, The Roots, Hot Chip, Glen Hansard, The xx, Metronomy and The Horrors. www.electricpicnic.ie
HEINEKEN OPEN'ER, Gdynia, Poland, 4-7 Jul: Open'er tops off its 2012 roster with one last shot of international alt-pop, this time from brand new bookings The Cardigans, who align with Björk, New Order, Justice, Major Lazer, The xx, Mumford & Sons, Janelle Monáe, The Mars Volta and M83. www.opener.pl
STRUMMER OF LOVE, Somerset, 17-19 Aug: Staged in honour of late Clash iconoclast Joe Strummer, this year's Strummer Of Love festival will now host Mick Jones, Pete Wylie and The Farm's supergroup-of-sorts The Justice Tonight Band as its closing headliners. Jones et al join Seasick Steve, The Pogues, Badly Drawn Boy, Frank Turner, Roots Manuva, Billy Bragg and Alabama 3 on the event's line-up a large. www.strummeroflove.com
LETHAL BIZZLE LAUNCHES LABEL IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ABSOLUTE
The rapper told CMU: "Our combined efforts so far for the '#threelittlewords (Come On England)' single between Stay Dench and Absolute has been wicked. To have my own platform where I can release fresh music is a great look for me. DENCH!"
ITUNES LAUNCHES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
THE VOICE TOUR CANCELLATION IS A GOOD THING, SAYS JESSIE J
She said: "It's always disappointing, but you know what, it's not a bad thing. Personally, maybe I shouldn't say this but I will, I actually think it's a good thing. Not that it's been cancelled but that they've now got the opportunity to go out and do their own thing. For me it's a bit too similar to other TV shows to do that tour thing. I think actually the artists have the opportunity now to do gigs around London and really learn their craft".