PANDORA SUES ASCAP TO CUT ROYALTIES BILL
Pandora, one of the longest established streaming music set ups, has always been critical of the royalties it has to pay to record companies and music publishers in order to offer its online interactive radio service, even though those rates will be considerably lower than those paid by Spotify-style streaming platforms that offer full on-demand functionality. Pandora and its boss Tim Westergren, however, prefer to compare their business with conventional radio services, which usually benefit from much more favourable royalty terms.
But while Westergren's royalty griping is not new, he has become particularly vocal on the matter of late, partly because since becoming a publicly listed company Pandora has many more shareholders to placate, and partly because the streaming music market is becoming ever more competitive, with newer start-ups such as Spotify and old-school radio companies like Clear Channel moving into the sector.
Most attention in recent months has been on the royalties paid to the sound recording owners, ie the record companies. In the US, terrestrial radio stations pay zero royalties to the labels (something the record companies have, unsuccessfully to date, being trying to change), but satellite and internet radio services do have a royalty obligation, usually paid via the statutory rights body SoundExchange.
However, the way sound recording royalty rates are set for satellite and internet services differs, in a way that, most reckon, means satellite broadcasters get a better deal. Westergren, therefore, is busy lobbying with his counterparts in internet radio, including Clear Channel, for a change to the laws that govern sound recording royalties, to bring satellite and internet services in line with each other. Such a move should cut Pandora's royalty obligations to the labels.
But the dispute with ASCAP is over the royalties paid to the owners of song rights (who receive money from the terrestrial broadcasters too). Pandora has been trying to renegotiate its terms with the publishing rights collecting society for some time, but went legal on Monday. According to reports, the lawsuit says it wants the court to force ASCAP into offering more "reasonable fees and terms".
Pandora argues that the current deal on the table is unfair because the proposed rates are less favourable than those agreed with other digital services (by which it means the likes of Clear Channel's iHeartRadio, the major radio firm having a combined agreement with the collecting society for both its terrestrial and online services via the Radio Music Licensing Committee), and because the deal fails to acknowledge plans by Sony/ATV/EMI to start licensing digital platforms directly, rather than via ASCAP.
A Pandora spokesman told Billboard: "ASCAP continues to seek rates higher than the current rates and above the agreement that they reached earlier this year with all of the major radio groups, which covers both broadcast and internet radio usage for the majority of our competitors. As a result, we are initiating the process that has been in place for decades to resolve royalty disputes with ASCAP".
ASCAP is yet to respond to the legal action, though the boss of the US National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, was quick to hit out at the digital firm, telling reporters: "It's outrageous Pandora would try to reduce the already nominal amount they pay songwriters and music publishers, when Pandora's business model is based entirely on the creative contributions of those songwriters".
Pandora's various efforts to cut its royalty bills have been criticised by various players in the American music industry in recent months, many noting that, unlike most traditional radio services which complement music with their own programming, Pandora is almost exclusively reliant on the songs and recordings provided by publishers and labels.
Others have noted the current market valuation of Pandora (and Westergren's personal fortune based on his stock). Pandora has a market capitalisation on par with some major players in the music industry, which may well be based on the recent trend in investment circles to vastly over-value digital firms, but which does hinder the streaming company's bid to present itself as a grass-roots set up with music at its heart, that just wants a more level playing field between it and America's traditional broadcasters.
GABON MINISTER STOPS THE NEW MEGA FROM USING ME.GA
And that possibly includes the West African nation of Gabon. When Dotcom unveiled more details about his planned Mega service last week, he said he'd shun dot com domains, over which the US has jurisdiction, and indicated a plan to go with www.me.ga when his new service goes live next January, a year to the day that the Americans shut down his old website.
But, according to Stuff.co.nz, that's not going to happen, because .ga is the top-level domain for Gabon, and the country's Communications Minister, Blaise Louembe, has stepped in to ban the all new Mega company from using it. He reportedly said that his country "cannot serve as a platform or screen for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people".
Dotcom's lawyer Ira Rothken has seemingly confirmed to C-Net that the new Mega venture will not now be using Me.ga, though presumably, having discovered Louembe's viewpoint on the matter before actually launching any new service, the Gabon minister's decision won't cause any major problems for the launch of Dotcom's latest venture.
Meanwhile, having been dubbed "unscrupulous" by Louembe, Dotcom himself was quick to blame American influence on the .ga set back, tweeting: "Gabon oil income is 60% of state revenues. Over half of Gabon's crude oil shipments go to the US. We knew that ;-)"
As previously reported, US prosecutors have claimed that the launch of Mega v2 might put Dotcom in breach of his bail terms in New Zealand, where he is fighting an extradition application by the States. Rothken, though, does not agree.
WAYNE LOSES DOCUMENTARY LAWSUIT OVER FOOLISH DEPOSITION
Wayne sued Jones on the grounds that he used the rapper's music in his documentary without permission, while claiming that the defendant had produced a "scandalous portrayal" of the rapper's work. Jones, for his part, countersued, claiming that the rapper's efforts to block the distribution of his film had a negative impact on profits.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the dispute, Wayne pretty much lost the case because of his conduct during the litigation. Seemingly unable to attend court in person because of a "medical emergency", Wayne gave his side of the story via a pre-recorded deposition.
But the judge became angered by the rapper's tone and attitude in the video, claiming that Wayne seemed to consider the case a joke. And, as a result of "unreasonable conduct in the deposition" and "irresponsible behaviour", the judge threw out Wayne's case and ruled in Jones's favour on the countersuit.
Which makes that deposition tape an expensive mistake, with Wayne subsequently ordered to pay Jones $2.2 million in damages.
FESTIVAL AWARDS SHORTLISTS REVEALED
The overall winners will be revealed at a show at London's Roundhouse on 3 Dec, after the latest UK Festival Conference, which will include sessions on retaining audience, accessibility, eco-matters, new revenue streams and generating value on tight budgets, and details of which are at www.festivalconference.com.
And here are all the nominations:
Best Major Festival: BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, Bestival, Creamfields, Download, GlobalGathering, Hard Rock Calling, Isle Of Wight Festival, Reading & Leeds, T in the Park, V Festival.
Best Medium-Sized Festival: Beautiful Days, Bingley Music Live, Bloodstock Open Air Festival, Camp Bestival, Green Man, Kendal Calling, Latitude, RockNess, The Secret Garden Party, Wakestock.
Best Small Festival: 2000trees, Beat Herder, Cambridge Rock Festival, Festival No.6, Glasgowbury, Lakefest, Strawberry Fields Festival, Wilderness, Y Not Festival, Zoo Project.
Best New Festival: BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, Beacons Music & Arts Festival, Eastern Electrics Festival, Festival No.6, Gathering, Lakefest, No Direction Home Festival, Over the Moon Festival, Retro Trax, Xstatic Summer Festival, Best Dance Event.
BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend: Beat Herder, Bestival, Creamfields, Glade Festival, GlobalGathering, Lovebox, Nozstock: The Hidden Valley Festival, Shakedown Festival, Zoo Project.
Best Metropolitan Festival: Camden Crawl, Dot To Dot Festival, Freeze Festival, Gathering, Live At Leeds, Liverpool Sound City, London Summer Jam, Orkney Folk Festival, Slam Dunk Festival, Tramlines.
Best Line-Up: Beach Break Live, Bestival, Download, Festival No.6, LeeFest, Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, Truck, Wakestock, Wireless, Y Not.
Best Family Festival: 2000trees, Bearded Theory, Beautiful Days, Beverley Folk Festival, Blissfields, Cambridge Folk Festival, Camp Bestival, Lakefest, Latitude, Wilderness Festival.
The Grass Roots Festival Award, 2000trees, Beautiful Days, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Bloodstock Open Air Festival, End of the Road Festival, Green Man, Greenbelt, Hop Farm Music Festival, Lakefest, Y Not Festival.
Best Toilets: BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, Beautiful Days, Bestival, Bloodstock Open Air Festival, Download, Latitude, Lodestar, Reading & Leeds, T in the Park, V Festival.
Best Overseas Festival: Benicassim (Spain), Ibiza Rocks (Spain), Tomorrowland (Belgium), Burning Man (USA), Electric Picnic Music & Arts Festival (Ireland), Optimus Alive (Portugal), Outlook & Dimensions (Croatia), Snowbombing (Austria), Sziget Festival (Hungary), Audioriver (Poland).
Agency Of The Year: 13 Artists, CAA, Coda, Free Trade Agency, ITB, K2, Primary Talent, The Agency Group, William Morris, X-Ray.
Headline Performance Of The Year: New Order at Festival No. 6, Stevie Wonder at Bestival, Mogwai at Green Man, Dizzee Rascal at Kendal Calling, Ed Sheeran at Wakestock, Slayer at I'll Be Your Mirror/ATP, Jay-Z at Radio 1_s Hackney Weekend, Metallica at Download, The Stone Roses at T in the Park, The Cure at Reading & Leeds.
Best Breakthrough Act: Emeli Sande, Lana Del Rey, Alt-J, Jake Bugg, Alabama Shakes, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Django Django, Azealia Banks, Dry The River, Frank Ocean.
Anthem Of The Summer: Florence & The Machine - Shake It Up, The Black Keys - Lonely Boy, Rihanna - We Found Love, Azealia Banks - 212, The Vaccines - Teenage Icon, Arctic Monkeys - R U Mine?, Two Door Cinema Club - Sleep Alone, Alabama Shakes - Hold On, Nicki Minaj - Starships, Django Django - Default.
ROBYN TALKS BODY TALK FOLLOW-UP
Gabbing with BBC Newsbeat backstage at a show in London last Thursday, Robyn said: "Touring and writing doesn't work. So I'm coming off the road so I can release something quicker. Everyone's asking when there will be new stuff: The labels I work with, the fans, the journalists. To be honest, I'm just happy someone cares!"
THOM YORKE NAMES ATOMS FOR PEACE LP, SHARES TRACKLISTING
Yorke adds: "One of the things we were most excited about was ending up with a record where you weren't quite sure where the human starts and the machine ends".
Before Your Very Eyes...
KINGS OF LEON TO TOUR IN 2013
12 Jun: London, O2 Arena
THE JOY FORMIDABLE SET INTIMIDATING LIVE TREK
22 Jan: Liverpool, Kazimier
ALLAH-LAS ADD SHOWS
Imagining that they'll do so, the live dates are thus:
10 Dec: London, Shacklewell Arms
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
ATP CURATED BY DEERHUNTER, Pontins Holiday Camp, Camber Sands, 21-23 Jun: Black Lips, Panda Bear, Avey Tarey, Animal Collective DJs, Pere Ubu, Dan Deacon, Stereolab's Tim Gane & Laetitia Sadier, No Age. www.atpfestival.com/events/deerhunter.php
ATP CURATED BY TV ON THE RADIO, Pontins Holiday Camp, Camber Sands, 10-12 May: Spank Rock, El-P, Saul Williams, Tinariwen, Shabazz Palaces, Thee Oh Sees, CSS, Daniel Higgs (Lungfish), Celebration, Talibam!, North America. www.atpfestival.com/events/tvontheradio.php
BILBAO BBK, Kobetamendi, Bilbao, Spain, 11-13 Jul 2013: Green Day, Two Door Cinema Club, Delorentos, Delorean, We Are Standard, LA. www.bilbaobbklive.com/2013/en/
CHICKFACTOR: FOR THE LOVE OF POP!, various venues, London, 16-18 Nov: The Pastels, The Aislers Set, Amor De Dias, Would Be Goods, Bridget St John, Tender Trap, Pipas, The Real Tuesday Weld, Jim Ruiz Set, Harvey Williams & Josh Gennet, The Starfolk, Chickfactor & Hangover Lounge DJs. chickfactor.com/2012/08/chickfactor-2012-for-the-love-of-pop-london-announced/
UNIVERSAL PLANS TO LAUNCH CAPITOL UK
As much previously reported, Universal was forced to sell over half of EMI's European assets in order to get European Commission approval of its acquisition of the one-time British major, and that includes the UK-based Parlophone business (Beatles catalogue not included). Parlophone and various other European EMI units and catalogues are now up for sale, being held apart from those EMI divisions being absorbed by Universal.
In the UK it means that the only existing major EMI division that will become part of the Universal Music Group is Virgin Records. But in an interview with Hits Daily Double, Grainge says he plans to add two EMI divisions to his company's existing portfolio of London-based labels, which already includes Polydor, Mercury and Island, by setting up a UK wing for EMI's US-based Capitol business. Whether a Virgin UK and Capitol UK would operate as two totally separate divisions, or two A&R teams sharing marketing and promotions team, isn't clear.
Grainge told HDD: "We will build on what Virgin Records has accomplished and, at the same time, create a Capitol Records in the UK, complete with its own creative team. EMI has a different meaning depending on which continent you are speaking about. The United States is about Capitol, and the UK and Europe are about EMI and Virgin. It is my ambition that we take advantage of the strengths that these identities have globally and geographically to where it can make the most difference".
He added: "I also see a great opportunity for us to really create an arc between Capitol Records in the United States and in the UK. And that will be done with new artists, and we may even add resources that we have internally into Capitol to give it a leg up and to get it started. Capitol Records, West Coast music, that's an important brand. It's also a big part of West Coast American culture, and is a focus of my strategy and my investment choices".
GRAPHITE APPOINTS NEW MD
Confirming the appointment, Turner told CMU: "These are testing times for any small business so I'm delighted to be in a position to bring in somebody of Tim's expertise to help take Graphite to new heights. We are an ambitious company operating globally, and it's time to really deliver our expertise into new areas and opportunities. We are renowned for doing interesting and innovative projects, and we aim to continue to do so but with added strength, vision and firepower".
Pearson himself added: "I have long been an admirer of the innovative and awe-inspiring work that Ben and the Graphite team have been delivering over the past few years and am very excited to join them at such a pivotal time as the company ramps up for the next level".
FACEBOOK TALKS UP IMPORTANCE OF TIMELINE APPS IN DIGITAL MUSIC
Writing in a blog post that name checks various Facebook integrated music apps, the company's Lincoln Hochberg wrote: "Since September 2011, 62.6 million songs have been played 22 billion times through timeline apps - that's about 210,000 years worth of music. This is happening across all types of music apps, from those that tailor music to your tastes, to apps that recommend music based on the time of day and what you're doing".
September last year, of course, was when Facebook first introduced the Timeline format for its user profiles, offering a new way for digital content providers to integrate with the social network, so that consumers could opt to automatically share information about the music they were listening to with their friends on the platform (the assumption being that people would much rather see an endless stream of information without context than learn about people's genuine interests).
Interestingly the new blog post only mentions Spotify in passing, despite its integration with Facebook Timeline being the most hyped by the social network a year ago, hype that helped the European streaming service gain ground in the US, but which also escalated the backlash against the high profile digital music platform in some circles.
Music-based Facebook apps given more attention in the new blog post include 8tracks, Songza and BandPage. Even though earlier this year Rootmusic's BandPage app was one some felt might be negatively impacted by changes to the Facebook system.
X-FACTOR AD REVENUES DOWN, BUT STILL IMPORTANT FOR PROMOTING POP
The pop talent show peaked in terms of viewing figures two years back, and last weekend the Saturday night edition was two million viewers down on the equivalent edition a year earlier. The slip in viewing figures means that the advertising rates ITV can demand for spots during the show are down by about 10%, according to reports. And unless ratings improve as the contest moves closer to its final, that could equate to a £10 million decline in overall ad revenues for the series.
Which will presumably result in ITV bosses putting more pressure on 'X' chief Simon Cowell to return as a full time judge on the British version of his show, his departure from the judging panel blamed by some for the recent ratings decline, in part at least.
All that said, for the pop music industry 'X-Factor' probably remains the most important show on British television, its audience being seen as much bigger music consumers compared to that of its main rival in the Saturday night TV schedules, 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
This was something shown up by stats recently published by secondary ticketing firm Seatwave, which noted that the number of people searching for tickets online to artists' shows increases after they appear on 'X', but appearances on 'Strictly' have little effect.
Online interest in X alumni JLS went up 600% after they appeared on the show recently, while Emeli Sandé saw a 336% surge in interest in her live shows after appearing on the same edition. Whereas appearances by pop acts on 'Strictly' seem to have had next to no impact, except for The Wanted, who saw online interest in their gigs go down 8% after singing a song for 'Strictly' viewers.
Seatwave's Louise Mullock told CMU: "''X-Factor' may be losing out to 'Strictly' in terms of viewing figures but when it comes to boosting tour sales, 'X-Factor' is the place the stars should be appearing. These statistics clearly show that if an artist performs on 'X-Factor', demand significantly increases, while 'Strictly Come Dancing' simply doesn't move the needle. This could be explained by the respective audiences of the two shows, with viewers of 'X-Factor' more likely to buy tickets to gigs. Our advice to musicians is that if you want to help your ticket sales, go on 'X-Factor'".
SOULJA BOY SORRY ABOUT POSTING PENIS TO INTERNET
The rapper, real name DeAndre Way, seemingly posted the revealing photo onto Tumblr, and while he quickly deleted it, it was online long enough for a fair few fans to notice and for Perez Hilton to nab a copy and post it on his website.
Way subsequently told his Tumblr followers: "I apologize to ever[one who has] seen that, [it was an] accident". One of whom responded: "Post more dick pics". Well, it's always nice to have a desired talent to fall back on should it be required.