The five biggest stories in the music business this week...
01: A steering group was set up to work on Richard Hooper's copyright hub, and other proposals set out in his 'Copyright Works' document focusing on making the licensing of copyright works simpler. Hooper's report followed the Ian Hargreaves copyright review for the UK government, and fleshed out that review's proposal the some kind of digital rights exchange should be set up to aid in the licensing process. The steering group will be led and funded by the content and creative industries, with collecting society PRS For Music representing the music sector. CMU report | M magazine report
02: There was more chatter about VAT-dodging online CD sellers, after The Guardian revealed that The Hut was now using a warehouse in Chicago, seemingly to benefit from the tax relief that occurs when low-cost goods are sold from outside the EU into the UK. It means The Hut does not need to charge VAT on CDs or DVDs, giving it a 20% advantage over mainland sellers. Lots of mail-order operations exploited that tax dodge from the Channel Islands until earlier this year, when the UK government removed LVCR on products coming from the islands, on the basis that rampant use of the tax relief to gain competitive advantage was an abuse of the system. One of the lobby groups that campaigned against LVCR abuse in the English Channel admitted this week that some operators are finding other ways of avoiding paying tax, but predicted that most alternative methods would be stopped by the authorities in due course too. CMU report | The Guardian report
03: The all new MySpace preview was positively received, but leaked business plan slides less so. The current owners of the one time uber social network demoed their new platform to journalists, revealing a totally rebuilt funky site based around artist profiles and a streaming music service, offering improved stats and analytics to participating creators. The critical response was good, though when slides designed for possible new investors in MySpace were leaked some questioned the ambitious growth projections of the site's owners Specific Media, and the hope that, because a lot of the music played on MySpace is from unsigned bands who don't have to be paid, its streaming music costs would be a lot less than those incurred by competitors Pandora, Spotify et al. Demo report | Investor slides report
04: The Competition Commission issued a statement on Global's Real/Smooth takeover as more execs left the formerly Guardian-owned radio firm. Unsurprisingly, the Commission said it was most interested in the impact Global Radio's ownership of the Real and Smooth networks would have on the radio advertising market. Stakeholder views will be taken until 10 Dec, with a ruling expected by the end of March. Meanwhile more execs departed Real Radio as a result of the networking of more shows across the UK meaning less local programming is required. Statement report | Departing execs report
05: Secondary ticketing was back in the spotlight after the Supreme Court ruled on a legal battle between the Rugby Football Union and Viagogo. The rugby body wanted to know the identities of the people who had resold tickets to its games on the secondary ticketing site, because doing so breached the terms and conditions of the original ticket purchase, and they want to sue the resellers. Viagogo tried to resist handing over that info, but the Supreme Court said they had to. Though the secondary ticketing firm say that the ruling can only apply to legacy ticket resales, because new data protection technology further protects the identity of current sellers. CMU report | Guardian report
This week on CMU we interviewed former Books man Nick Zammuto, First Aid Kit put together and playlist, and CMU Editor Andy Malt examined new OfCom research into online content consumption. And over in the Approved column we had new music from Fiona Apple, Big Deal, Vessels and Albert.
RAVAS CHIEF ADMITS ONLINE RETAILERS ARE TRYING ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO TRADE VAT-FREE, BUT RECKONS OTHER LOOPHOLES WILL BE CLOSED
As much previously reported, LVCR means that VAT is not payable on low-value products imported into the European Union, so if an online seller bases itself outside the EU and sells low-value goods like CDs and DVDs into the UK, it can do so without charging VAT, giving it a 20% advantage over mainland high street or mail-order retailers.
Many independent retailers argue that the exploitation of LVCR by a small number of big mail-order firms, plus HMV and the supermarkets, helped contribute to the demise of many indie record sellers, who couldn't compete on the high street, or transform their brands into successful mail-order businesses, because their offshore competitors had such a big advantage.
The vast majority of LVCR exploitation occurred on the Channel Islands, which was a perfect base to exercise the tax dodge for two reasons.
First, the mail-order sites need CDs and DVDs that originate in the UK because that's what customers want, and the music and movie companies get pissed off if etailers source content from non-UK distributors. This means stock has to be shipped out to the offshore base and then mailed back to the UK. The geographic position of the Channel Islands made this so called circular shipping viable.
Second, through a whim of history the Channel Islands are not in the EU, but are within the European Union customs zone, meaning goods can move between the islands and the UK without all the cost and hassle usually associated with customs and duties and such like.
Until earlier this year use of the VAT dodge in the Channel Islands was rampant, but various campaign groups, and most notably RAVAS, demonstrated to the UK government - which had for years expressed concerns about the dodge but did nothing about it - that under European tax law it had a duty to stop abuse of the tax relief system. To that end Chancellor Of The Exchequer George Osborne closed the loophole to Channel Island-based businesses.
Many predicted that those operations using a Channel Island base to capitalise on LVCR would look to relocate to other sites just outside the EU - Switzerland and Gibraltar were referenced - where the VAT dodge would still apply. Though the further you get from the UK, and once you are outside the European customs zone, things get much more complicated.
"One way to circumvent the costs and delays caused by going through customs is to operate what they call a 'bonded warehouse' outside the EU", RAVAS chief Richard Allen told CMU. "This enables a company to temporarily store goods in another country without those goods going through customs, and incurring duties. It's very possible this is what The Hut is doing in Chicago. But I personally believe that, because such facilities sit outside the customs system of the host countries, LVCR should not apply when goods are imported back to the UK. A bonded warehouse clearly does not qualify as a third country within the intent of EU directives".
Outlining another scheme being used by some of those affected by Osborne's LVCR rule change, Allen continues: "We are also aware of a number of Channel Island retailers sending goods to the UK via Belgium, claiming LVCR when the goods enter the EU in Belgium. But this is definitely contrary to EU directives, as LVCR can only be claimed if the country of final importation - or the product's destination - is the point of entry into the EU. Because Belgian law is not currently complaint with EU Directives it's possible to claim LVCR in Belgium even if your customer is in the UK, but this is a matter that can be easily be resolved by action from the European Commission".
While the UK government for years publicly criticised exploitation of LVCR in the Channel Islands but did nothing about it, Allen says he is now confident that Osborne will act to ultimately stop companies from finding new ways of exploiting the tax relief system to gain a competitive advantage in the CD and DVD market.
Allen: "George Osborne made a very clear political statement that LVCR use to trade VAT free in the UK and EU was a scam and that he would end it. I have no reason to believe from the correspondence I have had from him, and from [Treasury minister] David Gauke, that there is any unwillingness to deal with this issue. The major problem is dealing with the indirect imports via other EU member states and I have had assurances from HMRC that this is being looked at both in the UK and at The European Commission. RAVAS will be raising the issue with the Commission, and HMRC have already issued a notice stating that they intend to pursue a policy of ending LVCR on goods that arrive in the UK from outside the EU that are bound for other member states".
While the more persistent VAT-free etailers may find other ways to continue exploiting the dodge as any new loopholes are closed, Allen says he is confident that it will become ever harder for offshore online retailers to work the system for competitive advantage over mainland operators. He concludes: "The entire EU VAT system will be changing to one where VAT is charged at the rate applicable to where your customer is based. This is due to happen with all digital services on 1 Jan 2015. I understand from the European Commission that the plan is to roll the same system out to physical imports so that all retailers, even non-EU ones, will have to charge/pay VAT. This will completely remove any need for LVCR".
RULING IN RFU V VIAGOGO COULD OPEN TICKET TOUTS TO LITIGATION
The RFU sued Viagogo in a bid to secure the names and addresses of people who resold tickets to its games via the secondary ticketing website. Although, with the exception of tickets to football games, it is not illegal to tout tickets in the UK, many sport and entertainment promoters include clauses in their terms and conditions that say that tickets cannot be resold, usually adding that the ticket becomes void if it changes hands via a profit-generating commercial transaction. Therefore anyone who buys a ticket and resells it for profit could be sued for breach of contract.
It's a clause that is rarely enforced, but as promoters become ever more pissed off with the reselling of their tickets for profit via touting websites, some lawyers have started to wonder if those terms and conditions could be used to [a] force resellers to hand over any profit to the promoter through the courts and [b] to create a deterrent putting off others from reselling tickets for profit at all.
But to sue, the promoter would need to know the identity of a ticket reseller, which is hard when the secondary ticketing sites mask who is actually selling a ticket. Which is why RFU sued Viagogo to get access to the names of sellers, and they won. The rugby authority has told The Guardian that once Viagogo has revealed the identity of the individuals who resold the specific tickets listed in its lawsuit, "appropriate sanctions will be handed down".
After Viagogo's legal efforts to avoid revealing the identities of its users failed, the RFU told reporters: "Today's dismissal of Viagogo's final appeal sets an important precedent for the sporting industry that rights holders should retain the ability to control their ticketing policy and pricing. If a seller is found to be listing these tickets on secondary websites they face tough sanctions, including possible court action".
But Viagogo said that while the RFU would now likely get access to the names of a handful of individuals who sold tickets via the firm's platform in the past, moving forward legal claims to identify resellers would not work, because new data protection methods would provide technical barriers to providing any such information.
Viagogo Director Ed Parkinson is quoted by The Guardian thus: "While the RFU may have run off with a handful of names from sales that took place several years ago, I can assure you this will not happen again ... Our data protection is now better, so fans may therefore now buy and sell rugby tickets on Viagogo with absolute confidence that their information will be protected in future".
CALVIN HARRIS THREATENS LEGAL ACTION OVER BBC NEWSBEAT REPORT
He wrote: "When it comes to 'live' performance of EDM [just pressing play is] about the most it seems you can do anyway. It's not about performance art, it's not about talent either (really it's not) ... I think given about one hour of instruction, anyone with minimal knowledge of Ableton, and music tech in general, could do what I'm doing at a Deadmau5 concert. Just like I think ANY DJ in the WORLD who can match a beat can do what ANYONE else (not going to mention any names) is doing on their EDM stages too".
This week BBC Newsbeat went a step further and asked if it was OK for superstar DJ types to pre-mix their DJ sets, simply playing a CD they've brought with them for an hour or so while pretending to mix tracks live and occasionally gurning at the crowd.
Amongst the producers, DJs and journalists quizzed on the matter was Calvin Harris, who said: "DJing's DJing, and making music's completely different. I think, if you go to a club, there's going to be a DJ there. So maybe you're going to go to that club to see that DJ, and maybe it's your favourite music. Personally I'm not expecting the DJ to 'perform' that music with all manner of things, it's a club, you play tunes like any other DJ would, it's all good, I don't see the problem with it. There's a lot of acts that are over developing it to the extent that it doesn't work any more, you can't dance to it. It's like, you know, just play tracks. You know, you're a DJ, it's fine".
He continued: "I used to perform with a band putting all sorts of work into a live show and I can tell you that the reaction was worse than it is when I'm DJing, because in a club you want to hear a produced piece of music, you want to hear the bass, you want to hear it as good as it can sound, so I think it's not a problem".
Now, none of that really answers the big question the BBC piece was asking (Harris is seemingly discussing whether electronic music producers should perform their own work or just DJ it), but in the context of the report many inferred that Harris was saying that it's fine for DJ's to pre-record their sets, and that it might be something he himself has done. His answer doesn't quite fit, says Harris, because he wasn't asked the question "Is it OK for DJs to pre-mix their sets?" but rather, "Is it OK for DJs to play records in their sets?" The answer, he claims, was then used out of context to support a different argument.
This all came out on Twitter earlier this week after the story was broadcast on Radio 1 and published on the BBC website. Initially Harris didn't seem to realise quite how he had been represented in the report, and when a follower made a quip about it he responded: "Is it shocking to you that DJs play records in their DJ sets?! Get a fucking grip".
But once he realised how his quote had been used, Harris fired off a long series of increasingly angry tweets, saying: "Find the audio where I say 'it's OK to pre-record a DJ set' - it doesn't fucking exist, and I don't know ANY DJ that actually does that ... Fucking raging with this Newsbeat guy. I remember the interview and his stupid fucking question 'Is it OK for DJs to play records?' Then he'll change his question in the edit to 'Is it OK to PRE-RECORD a DJ set?' and use my answer to a DIFFERENT QUESTION?! ... Fact is BBC Newsbeat pre-recorded my answers to a different set of questions. The guy wasn't even wearing a fucking mic".
Finally he tweeted that he was "looking into taking action [against] BBC Newsbeat for that libellous broadcast". You can read the full series of tweets from Harris here.
As I understand it, when things like this happen, if enough people repeat the lie "Calvin Harris pre-records his DJ sets" on Twitter, the Director General of the BBC will have to resign. Tony Hall only got the job yesterday - come on guys, we got rid of Entwistle after 53 days, let's gazump this dude in 53 hours!
BJÖRK HAS LASER THROAT SURGERY, SAYS IT "ROCKS"
Sharing the post-op update in her own inimitable style, Björk writes: "[A] few years ago doctors found a vocal polyp on me chords... I decided to go the natural way and for four years did stretches and tackled it with different foods and what not. Then they discovered better technology and I got tempted into hi-tech laser stuff and I have to say, in my case anyway: surgery rocks!"
She adds: "I stayed quiet for three weeks and then started singing and definitely feel like my chords are as good as pre nodule! It's been very satisfying to sing all them clear notes again. I'm sorry I had to cancel stuff earlier in the year, didn't want to talk about this until I knew for sure if it would work. So looking forward to singing for you in 2013".
I do love Björk.
BREAKTHROUGH NOMS FOR A&M AWARDS ANNOUNCED
And the noms are as follows...
Breakthrough Manager (with client or clients in brackets): Owain Davies (Ben Howard), Zeon Richards (Wretch 32, Jacob Banks, George The Poet), Paul Carey (Skinny Lister), Alley Cat Management (Rizzle Kicks), Golden Arm Management (Palma Violets, MS MR).
Breakthrough Artist: Lianne La Havas, Jessie Ware, Madeon, Alt J, Jake Bugg, Willy Moon.
The MMF and FAC also recently announced which artist/manager teams had been shortlisted for the previously reported ten grand grant being offered by A&M Awards sponsor Spotify to help fund further artist development. The noms are as follows, artist/manager.
SOAK/Jimmi and Aisling Monds-Watson
As previously reported, organisers of the Artist & Manager Awards had already revealed that Amanda Palmer, Zane Lowe and Kylie manager Terry Blamey will win this year's Pioneer, Industry Champion and Peter Grant lifetime achievement prizes respectively. All three have now compiled playlists on Spotify, which can be sampled, enjoyed and critiqued at these links...
Amanda's tunes (all of which inspired her most recent album).
Zane's tunes (all tips for 2013).
The awards take place on Tuesday - info here: www.amawards.org
CHEMICAL BROS TEACHING KLAXONS TO MAKE ELECTRONICA
Klaxons' Jamie Renolds says to The Daily Star: "We have worked with loads of different people, but it's been a learning process. We have learned to make electronic music with computers which is something that we didn't know anything about".
Though to appease fans of the trio's traditional sound, he adds of the new record that "there are guitars on it".
'LOST' HENDRIX LP TO BE RELEASED
Hendrix's official site says the LP will debut "new, experimental directions", and feature "horns, keyboards, percussion and a second guitar, exploring fresh diversions from his legendary guitar work".
'Live At Woodstock', Bob Smeaton's self-explanatorily-titled new film charting Hendrix's set at Woodstock festival circa 1969, will premiere in selected cinemas on 29 Nov.
LIL WAYNE SETS DATE FOR HUMAN BEING II
Characterising the record, the sequel to 2010's original 'Human Being', in a convo with MTV, the rapper said: "My music was always bright - music for the club or for the radio - this music here is for us to like and us to like only, and I never put music out like that. Maybe to everybody else they're probably like, 'Man, your music always been so crazy', but to me, the music that's on this album is more so - like it or not".
MICHAEL HUTCHENCE BIOPIC IN PRODUCTION
Galinsky, reports the NME, told Encore Magazine: "I chased the idea twelve years ago but there was so much litigation and family issues, it looked too harsh. But recently I was made aware of Trevor Ray Field - who was good friends of Tina Hutchence - and he brought me the book. Over the course of the last month we negotiated the rights with Tina, and we hit the mark. I like music biopics to be about the person, not just sex, drugs and rock n roll. It's going to be a heartfelt, interesting project about a complex life, like 'Ray' or 'Walk The Line'".
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, Leicestershire, 14-16 Jun 2013: Bullet For My Valentine. www.downloadfestival.co.uk
GREENFIELD FESTIVAL, Interlaken, Switzerland, 13-15 Jun 2013: Queens of the Stone Age, Within Temptation, NoFX, The Gaslight Anthem, Airbourne, Stone Sour, Bullet For My Valentine, A Day To Remember, Bring Me The Horizon, Boysetsfire, Danko Jones, Caliban, Every Time I Die, The Devil Wears Prada, Saltatio Mortis, Jennifer Rostock, Bouncing Souls, Mono Inc. www.greenfieldfestival.ch
THEME SET FOR IMS 2013
IMS co-creator Ben Turner told CMU: "IMS 2012 was an inspiration to us - it was the year it felt the world was watching and engaging with the content and dialogue coming from the Ibiza Gran Hotel. We're deep in this huge boom period and we will curate this year's event to look at what happens beyond the global explosion but also dig deep into our own scene and look at the importance of our business beyond the music in the nightclub. IMS 2013: Beyond the Boom Boom!"
IMS 2013 will take place in Ibiza from 22-24 May. More at www.internationalmusicsummit.com
AEI MEDIA APPOINTS LABEL AND A&R MANAGER
AEI Media co-founder Diluk Dias told CMU: "We are delighted to have someone with Duncan's experience on board to strategically develop our label department, signing new repertoire and looking to develop new artists and brands. We have learned that building a media platform, events, and compilation business has put us in a strong position to sign and promote repertoire; it was the missing piece in puzzle, and now with Duncan's appointment we're in a position to leverage our network properly. Moving forward, our strategy is to sign artists on bigger deals, including 360 deals. Our aim is to develop new brand concepts with the artists and help with all aspects of their careers, including live, merch, brand partnerships and more".
King himself added: "I am very excited to join AEI Media, a business that continually reinvents itself to meet the changing demands from the market. My aim is to develop this department into a home for the scene's best artists. In addition to setting up a brand new label, this is a great challenge to help all our already existing labels, such as Pilot, GetDarker and Inspected, expand and grow into solid independent brands. To support this we will be building a strong team in 2013".
LIVE NATION REVAMPS WEBSITE
The aim isn't so much to sell more tickets but to build a stronger relationship between the live music giant and music fans, and as such the revamp has been led by Eric Garland, the founder of consumer stats company Big Champagne, which Live Nation acquired. Garland leads Live Nation Labs and is now also GM of LiveNation.com.
He told Billboard: "It started in conversations between [Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino] and me about a more engaged fanbase and how to provide fans with a place to celebrate their passion for live music. The goal is now to get them to stay and come more often. My first concern is not whether they buy a ticket. It's a huge win for us, with fans and for the business, if they really get in the habit of sharing their passion and experiences with our community".
BBC APPOINTS NEW DG
Hall, of course, replaces the bumbling buffoon that was Georgie Boy Entwistle, who scored himself half a million quid for totally screwing up the Beeb's response to all the Jimmy Savile allegations and the subsequent reporting of untrue allegations against Tory Lord Alistair McAlpine. It's not yet clear what total fuck up Hall is planning for his half million.
It was a speedy appointment that took less than two weeks, though Hall won't actually take over as DG until March, with interim boss Tim Davie, formerly the Beeb's top radio man, filling in until then.
Confirming the new recruit, the boss of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten, told reporters: "Tony Hall has been an insider and is a currently an outsider. As an ex-BBC man he understands how the Corporation's culture and behaviour make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world. And from his vantage point outside the BBC, he understands the sometimes justified criticisms of the Corporation - that it can be inward looking and on occasions too institutional. But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences".
Aside from all the fallout that has followed Savile-gate and Entwistle's departure, Hall will also have to deal with other challenges at the Beeb, not least the cost cutting put in place by former DG Mark Thompson to meet government demands on budgets, and the resulting collapse in morale across the Corporation, which has only been exasperated by recent events.
BBC FOUR MAY CUT TOP OF THE POPS IN WAKE OF SAVILE SCANDAL, BUT MUSIC PROGRAMMING TO INCREASE OVERALL
As previously reported, the BBC pulled all editions of 'Top Of The Pops' featuring Savile after the allegations grew last month, and the arrest of Dave Lee Travis also resulted in an edition featuring him not being shown last week. Added to that, performances by Gary Glitter have already been excised from the repeats, making it increasingly difficult to find broadcastable shows from the 70s.
Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch on Wednesday, The Guardian reports that Klein said: "It is complex and it is difficult to judge. These are judgments we are making on a case-by-case basis. It requires us to be cautious and careful without overreacting, to take into account public sensibilities and legalities, and hopefully we are going to get it right".
He continued: "At the moment we actually haven't scheduled 1978, so we'll take a view. We have only done it the last two years, so if we didn't do it again it wouldn't be the end of the world, and audience figures have declined quite markedly [anyway]. It has done a good job, [but] whether I choose to continue or not I don't yet know".
However, Klein also revealed that BBC Four's other music programming would increase over the next year, because the channel's budget for more costly original drama and comedy has been slashed. One such show, announced yesterday, is a new discussion programme fronted by Danny Baker looking at classic albums, of which Klein said: "We're going to celebrate the album. There's a 'golden age of the album' which we're going to look at. It's not a list show. The principal point is to say: what is it that makes an album great? What are the qualities you need to have?"
The new three part TV series will undoubtedly be welcome work for Baker, who quit his BBC London show on-air earlier this month after learning that it was to be cut back to one edition a week. There were rumours that Baker was being courted by other radio stations regards new shows, but, reports Radio Today, speaking to Christian O'Connell on Absolute Radio this week Baker denied that was so, saying he'd had no new offers of radio work - though he does still present a weekly sporty show on BBC Radio 5 Live.
COMPETITION COMMISSION ISSUES STATEMENT ON GLOBAL'S REAL SMOOTH TAKEOVER
The statement says: "The focus of our inquiry is likely to be the potential effect of the acquisition on competition for advertising. We note, however, that this is linked to competition for listeners because the number of listeners to a particular radio station is an important factor in its attractiveness to advertisers. We will also consider any potential effects on listeners".
Comments from affected stakeholders are being welcomed until 10 Dec, with the Commission hoping to publish its decision by 27 Mar.
DAVID RODIGAN RESIGNS FROM KISS
Rodigan wrote: "I write this to inform you that today I have resigned from my position as a broadcaster on Kiss FM. I've been with station for 22 years, shared some wonderful times with many fantastic artists and members of staff and it's with great sadness that I've come to this decision. Due to their continued marginalisation of reggae music into the twilight zone of radio scheduling, it has left me no option but to make a stand for my passion and the music I love so dearly".
He continued: "As Bob Marley famously said 'the stone that the builder refused will be the head corner stone'. Reggae was originally played on the streets, not on radio, and Kiss's refusal to schedule the only reggae show on their network to a socially accessible time has resulted in this decision. Reggae is worthy of more respect and so are the fans and lovers of this music".
A spokeswoman for Kiss FM told The Independent: "We are very sad and disappointed to confirm that David Rodigan has left Kiss after 22 years. We have the utmost love and respect for David both personally and professionally - he leaves with our sincere appreciation and gratitude for all that he has achieved with Kiss. Kiss remains passionate about broadcasting a brilliant cross section of music genres, including reggae, to our audiences across multiple platforms and devices'.
Rodigan's final show for Kiss was broadcast on Sunday night.
KE$HA REAPS HUMAN TOOTH-BRA
Nor will she decline to talk about the bra, headdress and jewellery she has fashioned from Twitter fans' teeth. As in, human molars and suchlike. Speaking once again to Bang! Showbiz, and cited in this MTV article, the Hannibal Lecter-esque popstar said: "I asked for them to send me their teeth and I got, like, over 1,000 human teeth. I made [them] into a bra top and a headdress and earrings and necklaces. I've worn it out!"
Less horrifically, Ke$ha has also persuaded The Strokes' Julian Casablancas and Fab Moretti, and Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, to play on her new LP, 'Warrior'. We'll all be able to hear the 'fruits' of the two collaborations when 'Warrior' is released on 3 Dec, but in the mean time, this Spin interview has all the relevant info.