The five biggest stories in the music business this week...
01: A Warner company was fined a million dollars for breaching US privacy laws designed to protect children under thirteen. Artist Arena, owned by Warner outright since 2010, was accused of not getting 'verifiable parental consent' when children signed up to fan-club websites it ran for Rihanna, Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Although the fan-services company hasn't specifically admitted being at fault, it is reported that it has agreed to pay a $1 million 'civil penalty' in a deal with the US Federal Trade Commission, as well as to delete any data amassed in breach of the rules and to put links to a government website on web privacy in big writing on its sites. CMU report | WSJ report
02: No Doubt settled with Activision in a long-running dispute over the 'Band Hero' game. No Doubt were one of a number of artists who did a deal with the gaming firm to appear in an edition of the various 'Hero' games to subsequently complain that users could play any song using their avatar, and not just their own tracks. The gaming giant insisted participating artists knew of this facility, but No Doubt argued the games firm had breached its contract and rights. Various attempts by Activision to have the case dismissed failed, but an out-of-court settlement was reached this week, before the dispute could get a proper court hearing. CMU report | New York Times report
03: A new fast track court for copyright disputes was launched in the UK. The new initiative, allowing intellectual property disputes where damages will be no more than £5000 to be heard at a county court, will make it cheaper and quicker for rights owners to pursue copyright infringement claims, but also easier for those accused of infringement to defend themselves. It is thought the new system might be used for rights owners wanting to sue individual file-sharers, and maybe as an initial 'strike three' option if and when the graduated response system for tackling file-sharers (beginning with warning letters) set out in the 2010 Digital Economy Act ever goes live. CMU report | ISP Review report
04: The Association Of Independent Festivals launched an anti-touting charter, signed by a plethora of festivals plus booking agents, management companies and artists. The declaration calls on those who resell tickets for profit online, the companies who provide the resale platforms, and fans themselves to not get involved in the marked-up reselling of tickets to events represented by the signees, or involving their artists. It almost certainly won't work, but is an interesting new effort to combat the growth of secondary ticketing, mainly by making sure fans know that many promoters and artists are against it. CMU report
05: The music ambitions of Microsoft, the BBC and Samsung were discussed. Microsoft is reportedly interested in buying growing streaming music platform Rdio, which announced an interesting artist partnership scheme this week. The Beeb has an on-demand music service offering free access to recordings from the Corporation's archives in development, which may launch in partnership with Spotify et al. And Samsung has said it's really serious about music, and might acquire some existing music services to make its mobile and tablet devices more attractive to music fans. Microsoft report | Rdio report | BBC report | Samsung report
This week on CMU, Eddy revealed his latest campaign to raise awareness of tinnitus, the CMU Insights team offered some tips on how to schedule Facebook updates, and we revisited some recent CMU approved tracks with a special playlist. Newly approved, meanwhile, were Holy Shit, Big Black Delta, Solange and The Weeknd.
ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT FESTIVALS PUBLISHES ANTI-TOUTING FAIR TICKETING CHARTER
The growth of online ticket touting has meant that, for in-demand events, a large number of tickets are often snapped up by touts early on, meaning genuine fans who don't get to the ticket shop early (or, in some cases, who just don't click refresh quick enough on their browser) have to buy tickets via touting sites at a considerable mark up.
The growth of the secondary ticketing market has, of course, been controversial for years, with various legislative and industry initiatives proposed along the way to try and tackle the perceived problem. Though, as a Channel 4 'Dispatches' programme on the issue revealed earlier this year, some in the live sector have adopted an 'if you can't beat them join them' approach, selling tickets to their own shows via sites like Viagogo and Seatwave, often anonymously, so they rather than third party touts benefit from any mark-ups.
The issue of secondary ticketing has actually been bigger news in the US than the UK in recent years, until, that is, the aforementioned 'Dispatches' programme, which gave a new boost to those who oppose touting over here. The day after the documentary went out, AIF used the renewed focus on the issue to re-promote its backing of a service called the Ticket Trust, which provides a platform where fans who legitimately buy tickets for personal use but who can't then, for some reason, attend, can resell their tickets at more or less face value (a 10% mark-up is allowed).
AIF's new secondary ticketing charter, published today, seemingly wants to embarrass touts into refraining from flogging tickets to events promoted by those companies backing the declaration, or involving any of the artists whose business partners are represented, by telling the public that these organisations and acts do not endorse the secondary market. It also hopes to persuade fans to not create the demand for online touting by avoiding buying tickets from resale sites, even if that means missing out on a concert or festival.
Amongst those signing the charter are the Association Of Independent Festivals and Association Of Festival Organisers, plus booking agents 13 Artists, Coda Agency, Dawson Breed Music, Value Added Talent and XRay Touring; labels Hospital Records and Ninja Tune; artist management firms Chambers Management, JCF Management and Wildlife Entertainment; festivals Bearded Theory, Beat-Herder Festival, Belladrum Tartan Heart, Bestival, Bingley Music Live, Cornbury Festival, Camp Bestival, Deer Shed Festival, Eden Sessions, End Of The Road Festival, Evolution Festival, Field Day, Folk On The Water, Glade, Glasgowbury, Glastonbudget, Greenbelt Festival, Green Man, In The Woods Festival, Kendal Calling, Leefest, London Summer Jam, The Magic Loungeabout, Meltdown Festival, Nozstock: The Hidden Valley Festival, No Direction Home, Outside:Inside, Secret Garden Party, Shambala Festival, Summer Sundae Weekender, Stockton Weekender, SWN Festival, The London Green Fair, The Applecart, Tramlines, Truck, Underage, WOMAD and Y-Not Festival; and artists Portishead, Gotye and Radiohead.
Explaining his opposition to secondary ticketing, Bestival chief and AIF co-founder Rob da Bank told CMU: "The whole secondary ticketing situation does make me really angry, mostly because I just don't feel many of the people paying vastly inflated prices actually understand the mechanics behind it, and secondly because the people profiting are doing so driven by pure greed. For me music has never been about money and there's a sharp divide between those in the music business purely for profit and those who are in it for the love of music. The festivals who say they've sold out while blatantly putting hundreds or thousands of tickets on a secondary seller are just plain dishonest".
Meanwhile Dan Silver of Value Added Talent, who represents the likes of Orbital and Alabama 3 in the live space, said: "As representatives of the artists and acting as their officially appointed ambassadors to their fans, VAT will continue to resist strongly the efforts by unconnected third parties to profit from ticket sales as middlemen, and will always seek to sell to fans at the lowest possible transaction charges - which we would like to stress are not shared in any way with the creators of value, the artists themselves".
Whether an albeit strongly worded statement from a consortium of artists, festivals and music business players as credible of this will really make any impact on the secondary ticketing phenomenon remains to be seen. Wherever fans are desperate to get into in-demand shows, and are able and willing to pay over the odds to do so, there will presumably be touts willing to provide that service.
As previously reported, the most recent proposals to regulate secondary ticketing have come from Sharon Hodgson MP, who has proposed a 10% cap on mark ups, though such proposals are not currently high up the government agenda.
Others, including former Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt, have suggested that new ticketing technology that more closely links a ticket to its buyer could be a better solution, though in an opinion piece earlier this summer Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn said that approach wasn't desirable, and Radiohead were recently criticised for a paperless ticketing solution that meant that legitimate fans now unable to attend a show couldn't sell them on, or even given them away. The Radiohead approach, where only the credit card holder could pick up tickets, and only on the day of the gig, also makes it hard to gift tickets.
Anyway, here is the AIF Fair Ticketing Charter in full...
- We the undersigned believe that the growth of ticket-touting online - so-called 'secondary ticketing' - is bad for fans and bad for live entertainment.
NEW COURT HEARING TO CONSIDER FATE OF LOST MEGAUPLOAD DATA
As much previously reported, the US authorities shut down the MegaUpload operation at the start of the year amidst allegations the company and its senior management were guilty of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering. Efforts to extradite seven Mega execs to the US to face those allegations are ongoing of course. Four of the accused, including MegaUpload founder Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz are currently living in New Zealand.
When the US switched off the MegaUpload servers, while much of the data stored on them was copyright infringing music and movie content, some of it was files belonging to the digital firm's customers, who were using MegaUpload as a back up facility. One such legitimate user was Kyle Goodwin, who also lost a local back up of his self-produced sports videos and has been fighting, with the support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to regain access to his files on the Mega computers.
Judge Liam O'Grady, who has been overseeing the debate over the lost Mega data, has previously heard evidence from various parties, including Goodwin, legal reps from MegaUpload (who have offered to oversee the return of legit files if funds can be unfrozen to cover the costs of doing so), the Motion Picture Association Of America (which wants the courts to ensure that anyone storing unlicensed content in their Mega locker doesn't get renewed access to it), one of the server provider Carpathia Hosting (which wants to wipe the former Mega servers but fears civil lawsuits from the likes of Goodwin if it does) and the US Attorney for the Eastern District Of Virginia Neil MacBride (who said that the MegaUpload small print told customers to keep local back ups of their data).
O'Grady hoped the various stakeholders could reach a deal as to how legit data may be returned, but no such deal has been forthcoming, and Goodwin and the EFF have been putting increased pressure on the judge to act. He has now said he needs an 'evidentiary hearing' in order to make a ruling on the matter. In court documents, the judge said: "Upon thorough review of the arguments before the court and careful consideration of the applicable law, the court finds that it is unable to reach a conclusion as to this matter without an evidentiary hearing".
MegaUpload is hoping that it can use that hearing to force reps from the US authorities to give testimonies in court about their investigation into the digital firm and the subsequent shutdown of the Mega operation. Though, of course, any questioning of witnesses will presumably have to be narrowly defined, given that the criminal investigation into MegaUpload itself, and Dotcom and his fellow former Mega execs, is ongoing.
It's not currently clear what the timeline may be for the new Mega data hearing.
TERRA FIRMA WANTS A NEW TRIAL IN ITS EMI DISPUTE WITH CITIGROUP
As much previously reported, Terra Firma, led by Guy Hands, bought the British music company in 2007, in a debt-laden deal that went very bad indeed when the credit crunch occurred shortly after the transaction had been completed, leaving EMI with one very high profile multi-billion debt to Citigroup.
Radical downsizing, and the parachuting in of executives from tech, advertising and FMCG backgrounds, didn't result in the quick turn round of EMI's fortunes that Hands had hoped for (even if, ultimately, a stronger EMI emerged from the initial quagmire), while the cost of servicing EMI's debts (and sticking to the harsh covenants on the multi-billion pound loan) caused endless woes for both the major's management and its private equity owners. Eventually Citigroup repossessed, and ultimately split EMI into two and sold it off to the world's two biggest music companies in a bid to recover as much of its unpaid loan as possible.
Terra Firma and Citigroup fell out over EMI big time, which didn't help when the private equity company really needed to restructure the major music firm's debts with the bank. Citi not only funded Terra Firma's audacious EMI acquisition, but then advised on it too, and it was that advice over which Hands subsequently sued the bank.
Citi advisors, he said, had misled him and Team Terra Firma because of the bank's own interests in seeing the EMI deal go ahead, meaning that the equity group overpaid for the music company, and rushed into a deal which it might have walked away from had a few more months passed in the negotiating process (given the major shifts in the credit markets that occurred in that time).
But in a high profile 2010 court case that didn't portray either Citigroup or Terra Firma in an especially gratifying light, a jury ruled that Citigroup advisors had not deliberately misled Hands in the way the equity man alleged.
We knew about Terra Firma's intent to appeal that ruling almost immediately, and there was talk of a planned appeal hearing for earlier this year, though that never went ahead. Now Terra Firma lawyer David Boies has told the US Second Circuit Court Of Appeals that he believes the judge in the first tiral gave bad instructions to his jury, mainly about the burden of proof, and therefore the ruling that jury reached is unsafe. "The only way a jury can know what to do is to be [properly] instructed about it", Boies told the appeal judges, requesting a new trial.
For its part, according to the Wall Street Journal, a legal rep for Citigroup said that the instructions given to the jury by US District Judge Jed S Rakoff were fine, and that the case was decided based on who the jury believed, Hands or the main Citigroup exec involved in the case, David Wormsley. Said Citi's lawyer: "The jury verdict is pretty powerful inferential evidence the jury believed Mr Wormsley, and not Mr Hands".
So it remains to be seen if we get a take two scenario of the Terra Firma v Citigroup EMI squabble. I do hope so, the first trial was good fun. Biscuits all round.
ITV JOURNALIST SETTLES WITH SUN OVER HARRY STYLES CLAIMS
The paper's Bizarre section reported that, after being interviewed by the 34 year old ITV reporter, eighteen year old Styles kissed her on both cheeks. Alluding to the boy band star's past relationships with women somewhat older than himself, The Sun ran a suggestive piece headlined "Harry and Cougar No 3".
Whitmore's legal rep said that the piece was "particularly damaging and distressing" to her client, partly because of the impact such implications had on the reporter's husband and family, and partly because it left her open to endless internet abuse from those loons who buy 1D records.
The Sun said that it intended the article to be tongue-in-cheek, and not to be taken too seriously. However, Whitmore's lawyer said "some readers seemingly understood that in referring to Mrs Whitmore as a 'cougar' and linking her to Mr Styles, the newspaper was seeking to suggest she had behaved inappropriately by pursuing a relationship with a considerably younger man, notwithstanding her being a married woman".
Whitmore pursued a libel claim in response to the July gossip piece, but that was settled this week. The terms of the settlement are not known, though the tabloid has already published an apology. Whitmore said in a statement yesterday: "I am delighted that this has been resolved and I can now focus on my work at ITV".
BARONESS FRONTMAN POSTS UPDATE ON POST-CRASH RECOVERY
As previously reported, ten people, including the four band members, were travelling in the bus when it crashed and fell off a 30 foot viaduct near Bath. Seven people were taken to hospital with minor injuries. However, Baizley and the driver, who had both been at the front of the bus, had to be freed from the wreckage.
Describing how the accident happened, Baizley wrote: "The brakes in our bus failed completely, on a notoriously dangerous, incredibly steep (12% grade) hill in Monkton Combe, UK ... [It] went entirely out of control, and we had no choice other than hitting a perpendicular guardrail going about 50mph at the bottom of the hill. The guard rail and the 20 or 30 trees we ploughed through snapped like matchsticks as we went fully airborne and fell down more than 30 feet off of a viaduct to the ground below ... There was nothing anyone on the bus could have done during our descent to avoid the crash, and no one - the local residents, the police or any of us - can believe we survived the impact".
Having been thrown into the windscreen when the bus hit the ground, Baizley was left with a badly broken leg and arm, resulting in a two week stay in hospital, and a further three weeks recuperating in the UK before being allowed to fly back to the States.
He continued: "While I cannot lift a glass of water to my lips to drink with my left arm and hand, I am still able to play music with it. I picked up a guitar and played the day after I returned. Not without pain (for the time being), but the hand still acts out the creative impulses I give it. I'm told I was quite lucky to have regained any use at all of my hand and arm, though I have sustained quite extensive nerve damage".
As a result of this, wrote Baizley, he is determined to continue with Baroness once he and his bandmates have recovered enough, and vowed to reschedule all of the tour dates that the band were forced to cancel after the crash.
"I have no regrets about touring", he said. "I don't blame music or the touring lifestyle for my current physical state, or for the accident itself. It happened the same way all things happen: randomly. If I was a carpenter, and I was injured on the way to the job-site, I wouldn't consider quitting my job. That is truly how I see this situation. Baroness doesn't stop because we got hurt on the way to work. We love what we do much more than that, and we have chosen this path because it offers us an unpredictable adventure".
To read Baizley's full (and very graphic in places) update, click here.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE MAY OR MAY NOT BE WORKING ON NEW ALBUM
But, hey, this 'maybe' comes straight from the mouth of Rage Against The Machine bassist Tim Commerford, so don't you dare tell me it's not news. Okay, it may or may not be news.
Anyway, TMZ tracked Commerford down to a café in Malibu and asked him if RATM are currently working on a new album. He replied, "Maybe... maybe".
SO THERE YOU GO!
There's even a video to prove it.
JAMES FRANCO TALKS "NOT QUITE MOTOWN" DEBUT LP
He's been talking about the project to Billboard. "We have another project that we're working on", he says, adding: "I guess if we complete all the songs it'll be a full-length album, ten to twelve songs. We're working on that right now. It's a little different; the style's not quite Motown but has a similar vibe".
So, there you are. You can read more of Franco's fascinating comments - such as those about 'Crime', his studio duet with Smokey Robinson on Daddy's first EP 'Motorcity' - via the Billboard interview.
Or alternatively, just listen to 'Crime' now. It's different, I'll give it that.
DOLDRUMS NAMES NEW SINGLE
Woodhead says this of the main track, having borrowed its beat from his "noise musician turned hi-fi house producer" friend Guy Dallas: "As soon as I heard his track, the melody and everything just came instantly. Even though we both listen to a lot of European electronic music I feel like our take on it is unavoidably American. Like, no matter how much you dress up before you go out, you still got that deep stink. The lyrics are about my friend who is a force of nature".
And now, we present the sound of all those things at once in 'She Is The Wave'.
CONVERGE STREAM LP
GWYNETH PALTROW TO PRODUCE GO-GOS MUSICAL?
OTWAY: THE MOVIE TO PREMIERE THIS WEEKEND
Otway himself will be in attendance and will open the event with a performance on the cinema's balcony. There will also be a gala dinner for 500 guests and an awards ceremony, the Otways, recognising people who have been key figures in the musician's career.
MENCAP BOOKS MACCABEES, HAWLEY, NOAH AND THE WHALE FOR LITTLE NOISE SESSIONS
In advance of tickets going on sale on Monday, the existing listings look like this:
21 Nov: Richard Hawley, First Aid Kit, King Charles
NEW DEERHOOF SHOWS CONFIRMED
Anyway, in addition to the still-active Jingletron, the band gift us with two brand new tour dates, at Leeds' Brudenell (3 Dec) and the Garage in London (4 Dec). These will, as you've probably already realised, precede Deerhoof's set at The National's sold-out edition of ATP Festival on 7 Dec.
ITAL ADDS LIVE DATES
He'll play Sticky Mike's Frog Bar in Brighton on 6 Nov, moving on to London's Corsica Studios for a special audiovisual set the following night. He'll also DJ at the also London-based Lightbox on 9 Nov.
You can hear a preview of five of the LP's seven tracks - as are titled 'Despot', 'Boi', 'Enrique', 'What A Mess' and 'Deep Cut (Live Edit)' - via this SoundCloud preview.
That, or look for additional 'Dream On' details here.
SAINT LOU LOU TO TOUR
Since they're in London anyway to open for El Perro Del Mat at Village Underground (12 Nov), the duo have arranged their own show at the capital's Birthdays on 13 Nov, and another at the Manchester Soup Kitchen on 14 Nov. Oh, and by the way, they're also playing beside Kindness and Ariel Pink at Leeds' astutely-billed Constellations Festival on 10 Nov.
With all that to consider, you may want to listen to a new Montauk remix of 'Maybe You'. Or perhaps not, it's not compulsory.
NON-RECORD SALE REVENUES NOW ACCOUNT FOR FIFTH OF UK RECORD INDUSTRY'S TURNOVER
Such revenues are growing, of course, as labels demand a cut of revenue streams other than those directly linked to sound recordings when signing especially new talent to record deals, better safeguarding their investment as the money to be made from record sales continue to decline overall, despite the boom in downloading and the recent growth of subscription-based streaming platforms.
That said, about half of the £205.3 million generated by the UK record industry via so called 'diversified' revenue streams in 2011 (up 8.4% from £189.3 million in 2010) was directly linked to sound recordings, and came from income streams that have traditionally been part of the record label mix, even if they have become ever more important and sizable in recent years.
£83.2 million came from collecting society PPL from the royalties paid by TV, radio, online broadcasters, clubs, venues, bars, retail and other public space operators for their use of recorded music. And £18 million was generated by sync deals, an increasingly important part of the music rights industry, but not exactly new.
More interesting, of course, was the £76 million generated by labels from their cut of concert, merchandise, brand partnership and direct-to-fan revenues from artists with whom they have multi-stream, or so called '360 degree', deals. Labels enjoying a share of such revenues, while not 100% new, is certainly much more prevalent in the post-Napster age, and indeed some labels now will not sign deals with new talent that don't include such extra revenue.
Commenting on the figures, BPI boss Geoff Taylor told CMU: "British music companies have reinvented their businesses for the digital age, marketing and promoting music intelligently through every channel available. They have diversified their revenue base and this has established a solid platform for future growth as the transition to a majority digital business continues".
DANGERBIRD CO-FOUNDER GOES TO ELEKTRA
Castelaz stood down as boss of Dangerbird somewhat suddenly last month, and was almost immediately linked to a possible Warner role, despite the official statement simply saying he was returning to another of his companies, Cast Management. As President of Elektra, he will now report into the bosses of Warner division Atlantic Records, Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald.
The two Atlantic bosses issued a joint statement, saying: "Now into its seventh decade, Elektra Records has a unique spirit, cultivated by the elite group of creative mavericks who've run the label and the eclectic artists they've signed. Building on the remarkable success since the label's re-launch in 2009, Jeff is the perfect choice to forge the next extraordinary chapter of Elektra's story".
Meanwhile Castelaz himself said: "I'm honoured to step into the pilot's seat of this incredible label. I couldn't be more excited to uphold Elektra's legacy of long term development of vital artists - a principle that has been the touchstone of my entire career. I look forward to suiting up as the newest member of the crack artist development squad known as Atlantic Records Group".
KASSNER MUSIC APPOINTS NEW A&R CHIEF
Confirming the appointment, David Kassner told CMU: "Charlie Pinder is one of the most experienced music executives in the business with a track record second to none in A&R and music publishing. He is, in my opinion, the quintessential A&R person. We really understand each other and share a passion for great songwriting. We are delighted to have him join our team".
Meanwhile Pinder himself said: "I am so happy to be back doing what I love - music publishing A&R, and with Kassner Music, a company that has music publishing and great songwriting in its DNA. It's more important than ever to offer writers and artists that full-time hands-on support and joining the excellent team at Kassner Music, I will be ideally placed to do that".
TUNECORE FOUNDER JOINS CANADIAN COLLECTING SOCIETY
SOCAN's CEO Eric Baptiste told reporters: "SOCAN always works to represent the needs and rights of our members, and Jeff Price will provide us with exciting new concepts that will help us achieve our vision of raising the bar for music rights. Jeff Price is a true visionary in the music industry. His philosophy and ethic when it comes to the rights of songwriters, authors and publishers match nicely with our own".
Price, who has been critical of some collecting societies in the past, though seemingly not SOCAN, added: "The new music industry is about serving, not exploiting, the artist. SOCAN serves its members by getting them money owed for the public performance of their songs without owning their copyrights. To me, SOCAN is TuneCore on steroids. It has the right vision, philosophy, management, artist base and infrastructure to lead the world on getting musicians, songwriters and publishers back more money, more quickly with transparency".
LEMAR DISCUSSES SELF-RELEASING HIS NEW ALBUM
On the decision to self-release the new record, the 'Fame Academy' alumnus says: "After ten years in the music business it felt like the right move. It's something I wanted to experience, and which I see as a big part of my development as an artist. There is a lot of unknown. But I guess that's what makes it interesting. Learning to go with your gut and learning that there is no right or wrong".
That said, Lemar's own label AMP will work with EMI's label services team on the release. Asked why he decided on that alliance, rather than having his own label manage the album launch in its entirety, he added: "You need someone to distribute the record. And you can never have enough expertise in anything you are doing. They don't make the decisions, they consult with me and give me their suggestions so I can make the most educated choice. They have a wealth of knowledge and contacts and are a great team - that's something that's not to be sniffed at at all".
Lemar will be in conversation as part of the City Showcase workshops programme on Friday 12 Oct at 1.30pm at the Gibson Guitar Studio on Rathbone Street. You can get free access to that and most other City Showcase events if you register for a free wristband in advance via this link.
ALL3MEDIA ANNOUNCES MUSIC RIGHTS ALLIANCE WITH EMI PUBLISHING
Says ALL3MEDIA COO Jane Turton: "This deal is a perfect example of how ALL3MEDIA is able to use its group leverage to deliver the best commercial and operational outcome. EMI is a market leader in music publishing so we are delighted to have signed this deal with them".
While EMI Music Publishing's James Carslake added: "We are extremely happy to have formed this relationship with ALL3MEDIA and are committed to growing their business over the next few years. Their status as Britain's largest independent television production company paired with increased overseas presence, highlights a significant opportunity to develop their music catalogue".
YOUTUBE REFINES CONTENT ID
They include a significant improvement in the Content ID system's ability to match uploaded content with that registered by Content ID-using copyright owners, and a better system for spotting possible errors in the matching system which might cause a video being uploaded from being unnecessarily blocked. YouTube hopes that its refined system will be more likely to spot such errors, and to sideline such incidents for manual review.
Though perhaps most interesting in the new developments is a new appeals process for those who believe that their videos have been blocked because of invalid Content ID claims. There has always been a system for uploaders to dispute blocks, but the latest changes will give some disputers the option of appeal if their disputes are not accepted at first instance.
Full info on all this was posted to a YouTube blog earlier this week.
LAST.FM LOSSES DOWN, BUT REVENUE GROWTH STALLS
Revenues were up 1.7% to £8.1 million, compared to revenue growth of nearly 10% in the previous two years. Advertising income dropped slightly while subscription revenue was up slightly. About half of the £8.1 million in revenues generated by Last.fm came from the UK market, while revenues fell 4.3% in the US.
MICROSOFT RUMOURED TO BE INTERESTED IN RDIO
The deal would arguably make sense for both sides, giving Rdio bigger reach and resources as it expands around the world in an increasingly competitive market, and could deliver Microsoft a head start in the streaming music space, it having always floundered to get a serious share of the digital music sector in the past. And, of course, Microsoft last year bought another of Rdio founder Janus Friis's creations, Skype.
Though, all that said, I like Rdio and can't help thinking Microsoft ownership could be the kiss of death for its long term success. But who knows? Neither side has commented on the rumours.
ONE DIRECTION ISSUE STATEMENT ON BANNED INTERVIEW QUESTION CLAIMS
While the release of 'Up All Night' was staggered around the world, so that they could fully concentrate on cracking the States, this time it's all happening at once. Which means interviews. Lots of interviews.
I've often wondered what it must be like to be on the artist side of those phone interview sessions - sitting for hours, accepting ten minute long calls from endless journalists you've never heard of. It makes me glad I get to be the one who has just the one ten minute slot on the phone, wondering why the person on the other end isn't amazed by my gleaming array of interesting and probing questions. Anyone would think they'd been answering the same questions all day.
So, actually, Zayn Malik's interview with Ottawa radio station Hot 89.9's morning show The Morning Hot Tub might have been something of a relief for the boy band boy. Though apparently not. Well, at least One Direction's 'people' didn't find it amusing.
If you didn't hear it - which is entirely possible, as either Syco, Sony Music or Hot 89.9 itself had it entirely scrubbed from the internet within hours of the station posting it to YouTube - the chat between Zayn and interviewer Scott Rush didn't get off to a great start. The time slot for the interview was moved several times, and when Rush's moment did arrive he was given a list of questions he wasn't allowed to ask.
Now, most of these were questions that the band are probably justifiably tired of answering, including topics like pranks, girlfriends, 'X-Factor', bad habits, religion and money. Though presented in one list right ahead of a ten minute slot where the interviewer was never going to be able to go much beyond the basics, that was always going to put the reporter on the wrong foot.
I don't know what Rush was planning to ask in his interview, but in a moment of quick thinking, he decided to play up to the PR person's rules with comedic effect by simply asking Zayn nothing at all: "So, Zayn, I wanna to talk to you today about, er... no I can't do that... [starts rustling sheets of paper] pranks... X-Fact... pranks on the... where the... OK, well that's about gonna do it, thank you for taking the time for us today and continued success in the future".
It's a shame such a good job has been done removing any trace of this interview, so that you can't hear all this for yourselves, because you're missing out on the best bit, which is Zayn's response of "Thank you, bye", given without pause and seemingly without any realisation that he hasn't done an interview at all.
Faced with accusations that they were dictating what interviewers could and couldn't ask them, One Direction yesterday issued a statement denying this, saying: "Regarding the recent story about One Direction 'banning questions' - this is a complete misunderstanding. One Direction asked if certain recurring questions could be avoided in future interviews as the band were giving the same answers continually. They knew, via feedback, that the fans were requesting a wider range of subject matter in interviews. Questions relating to describing each band member, or referencing 'The X-Factor', are certainly not out of bounds. A suggestion was merely made to try and make interviews more interesting for the fans, which has been misconstrued and misunderstood".
So, it's all the fault of fan feedback. Though, in the broadcast of their conversation, the PR person who set up the interview did clearly say, "we have a few things that you're NOT ALLOWED to ask Zayn", rather than "here are some suggestions for making the interview more interesting". And anyway, One Direction can entertain their own fans via Facebook and Twitter, surely it's for Rush to decide what is of interest to his station's listeners, who may or may not be existing fans?
But, whatever, you can make your own mind up about who was at fault via this handy transcript, including preamble from Rush and co-hosts Jeff Mauler and Jenni Condon:
Mauler: So Rush, what happened here? You had to come in around, what, one o'clock...
Rush: Yeah, the interview moved around, it was scheduled for 1.15, then I was told they were running about a half hour late, and actually it was very lucky that I decided to come in when I did because on the way in here they told me it was no longer running late, so I came in here and I just made it in time then they started running late again.
Mauler: But you got to interview Zayn from One Direction! You know that this is the most popular band in the world right now?
Rush: Huge. Before we get to that, when you talk to a band like this, you have someone from the record company who handles the interviewing, and they connect me to Zayn.
Mauler: Like a PR person or something...
Rush: Right, and they do the connecting. She - very nice lady, I'm sure following the rules that she had - gave me some rules that I had to follow before I did my interview with Zayn from One Direction...
Mauler: I'm sorry, you've been in radio for what, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years...
Rush: I have, yeah.
Mauler: You've interviewed everybody from Rihanna to Justin Bieber. You've interviewed everybody!
Rush: And you know what? I have never caused a problem. I'm a good interviewer and I'm friendly.
Mauler: But here is the girl - this is going to be the whole interview now - this is the girl from the record company, the handler so to speak, telling you what you can't ask Zayn from One Direction about.
Condon: Can not.
Mauler: This is a list. And then after the list, you [go] into the interview.
Rush: We go right into the interview. And we should have time.
Mauler: Alright, this is the audio, here we go - Rush and Zayn from One Direction - here is the handler saying, 'You can't ask him these questions', then the interview, here we go.
PR: Okay, so, we have a few things that you're not allowed to ask Zayn, I'm just going to go through them really quickly.
What is your celebrity crush?
Rush: Alright... [giggles]
PR: So I'm just going to conference you through and you've got about ten minutes.
Rush: Sure, sounds good.
PR: Zayn, are you still there?
Zayn: Yeah, I'm still here.
PR: Right, so I've got Rush on the other line, you've got about ten minutes, alright?
Rush: How are you Zayn, you're a very busy guy today, huh?
Zayn: Yeah, kinda busy yeah.
Rush: So, Zayn, I wanna to talk to you today about, er... no I can't do that... [starts rustling sheets of paper] pranks... X-Fact... pranks on the... where the... OK, well that's about gonna do it, thank you for taking the time for us today and continued success in the future.
Zayn: Thank you, bye.