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IFPI defends Friday global release day, chart makers yet to confirm impact
If that's you, I can't help thinking you've been talking to one of the dissenters who were pushing for an early-week release day. Because that's definitely what they've been saying.
But those backing the 'Friday' option insist that the majority support the plan, or they do if you include those who are indifferent as to what day the worldwide record industry opts for putting out its new content. Then they point out that everyone agrees there should be a global release day, and while there may not have been consensus on going with Friday, it was always going to be impossible to please everyone.
And while some dissenters have questioned the IFPI's logic for going with Friday, the global label trade group defended the decision yesterday. Boss Frances Moore told Billboard that "having done analysis over the past year there is an uplift towards the weekend that we can really build on".
She went on: "That uplift has been estimated in the region of 3% across the industry and at a time when we're pushing new models and, as an industry, doing what we can to survive in a very difficult environment, 3% uplift is something worth fighting for. We chose Friday in order to satisfy some of the logistic problems that have been raised with us. But also because that way you get the Friday lift and then the Saturday lift. You're essentially getting the best of both worlds".
Of course, earlier this week Beggars Group chief Martin Mills aired the opposing view, that an early-in-the-week release day is best of both worlds, in that you get two spikes, one on release day and one at the weekend.
But Moore does not agree. She said: "We've done four different pieces of analysis and we haven't identified [that] double spike. The idea that you have large sales at the weekend and then on a Monday a consumer goes specifically into a shop to buy new music - we haven't managed to identify that spike. But that point was made by Martin and I think there is an element of just getting used to a new day".
For those countries that currently have early-week releases, so the UK and US for starters, the shift to Friday will not only have a logistical impact, but will also require a rethink on when charts are compiled and released, with the 'chart week' from which sales and digital data is gathered usually designed to give new releases as many sale days as possible.
Chart makers in the UK and US have long acknowledged that a new release day would impact on their operations, though they are yet to be drawn quite on how the shift to Friday releases later this year will change things.
In America, Billboard's VP Of Charts & Data Development Silvio Pietroluongo told reporters: "The announcement today by the IFPI is not a surprise and is something that Billboard has been discussing with [chart partners] Nielsen Music and industry leaders for months in relation to how a Friday global release date will affect chart processing. We will make an informed decision on these matters in the coming months, well in advance of the release day shift".
Here in the UK the Official Charts Company said: "Following the announcement that the record industry is moving to a synchronised global release day of Friday, we will also be looking to move the UK chart announcement day". And as for the main singles chart radio show, and whether that might move days too, the OCC added: "Exact details are to be decided but Radio 1 will continue to be the home of the Official Chart". The BBC is known to be up for considering moving its chart show to another day.
Pandora loses latest pre-1972 squabble
The streaming service's legal fights to lower the royalties it pays both labels (via SoundExchange) and the music publishers (via BMI and ASCAP) are ongoing, of course. And then there are the disputes over pre-1972 recordings, which are not directly governed by federal copyright law in the US (state law does the protecting instead).
Because Pandora's obligations to pay royalties to the labels stem from US-wide federal law, it - and others - have argued that online and satellite radio-style services are not obliged to pay the record companies any money when they play records that pre-date 1972.
Which might seem like an odd argument, except, of course, in America AM and FM radio stations don't pay royalties to labels on any of the sound recordings they play, whether those tracks are protected by federal or state law.
But labels, artists and SoundExchange itself have argued that there is an obligation for online and satellite services to pay royalties when they play older recordings, mainly because there is a 'public performance' element to the sound recording copyright in state law, even though state laws are generally vague on the matter, and labels have never previously exploited any public performance right in the US under those state regulations.
Leading the charge here are Flo & Eddie, two members of 1960s band The Turtles. And last year they scored a win in the Californian courts against satellite radio service Sirius, prompting them to sue Pandora on the same arguments.
And it's in that domain that there was an important development this week. Pandora quickly tried to have the Flo & Eddie lawsuit dismissed by filing what's known as an anti-SLAPP motion. Anti-SLAPPs are used when a defendant believes they are being targeted with litigation to force their hand or to censor them in some way. The Anti-SLAPPer is usually accusing the litigant of having no desire to see the lawsuit get to court, rather they hope the pressure of litigation will help them get their way.
It always seemed like an ambitions move on Pandora's part, which said that Flo & Eddie's attempts to stop them playing the duo's music was an attack on the firm's free speech rights. And the judge hearing the case, Philip S Gutierrez, who also ruled on the Sirius legal action, this week knocked the claim back. He said that Flo & Eddie's lawsuit contained arguments that were "meritorious enough to withstand the anti-SLAPP motion".
Pandora, however, will appeal. Which will force the matter to another court, which might have been the digital firm's plan all along, given that they know what Gutierrez's opinions are on this matter as a result of the Sirius litigation, and they might be hoping for a more friendly judge in another courtroom.
There are, of course, multiple lawsuits rumbling on regarding this issue, and in multiple states. The US Copyright Office recently said that it thinks federal copyright law should just be applied to pre-1972 recordings to overcome all these ambiguities. And despite fighting the pre-1972 litigation at a state level, Pandora has indicated it might support that move, providing any new restrictions were applied across the board.
Dispute between Steven Tyler's lawyer and former manager back in court
Allen Kovac's Kovac Media Group accused the lawyer of derailing deal negotiations between Tyler and the makers of 'American Idol', and of then persuading the Aerosmith man to dump his management team.
But in 2013 that case was thrown out of court, LaPolt successfully employing one of those anti-SLAPP motions that didn't help Pandora the other day. But Kovac appealed, and earlier this week the appellate court rejected the original decision, making this a bad week all round for music-based anti-SLAPPing.
None of which constitutes an opinion on the actual facts or arguments of the case of course, it just means LaPolt has failed to block the litigation before it starts. The dispute itself will now proceed to court.
LaPolt's own legal rep, Christine Lepera, told reporters this week: "We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling, but look forward to actually addressing the baseless claims in this case on their merits. Plaintiffs now will be forced to prove their case, and we are confident that they will come up empty".
Meanwhile Tyler, who has been a vocal supporter of his attorney throughout this dispute, was less respectful in his disagreement with the court. He told The Hollywood Reporter: "I'm disgusted that my attorney, Dina LaPolt, has to continue to battle in court over these ridiculous accusations. Without Dina, my confidant and trusted counsel, I would not have been able to get out of that toxic management agreement. Dina has always had my back, and I fully support her in fighting this hateful claim".
Kobalt announces $60 million in new finance
A long-term player in publishing rights administration, Kobalt has been growing rapidly in recent years, boasting that through its online rights management platform it offers "the most transparent, efficient and accurate royalty collection and reporting solutions". The company has also moved beyond music publishing into managing the record industry's neighbouring rights and offering distribution and label services to artists.
Adding to the $66 million already raised by the company, Kobalt says that the new money will be used to support its "commitment to serving artists and songwriters with unparalleled creative services and to further develop and scale Kobalt's suite of technology solutions that efficiently collect and report music royalties in today's complex digital world".
Confirming the new finance, Kobalt boss Willard Ahdritz told reporters: "We take great pride in the fact that Google Ventures and MSD Capital both share our vision of technology and transparency working together to create a new industry structure in today's complex digital world. We are relentless in our mission to increase trust between the music and technology industries in order to build a new infrastructure that benefits fans, creators, rights owners and DSPs, all together".
Meanwhile Google Ventures Managing Partner Bill Maris said: "The music industry is going through dynamic changes all around the world and Kobalt will be instrumental in shaping its future positively for all constituents, starting with artists. The company's solid execution over the past decade coupled with Willard's unwavering passion and commitment made this an attractive investment for us. Kobalt's commitment to trust, transparency and technology has positioned it as one of the most innovative brands in media today".
SFX proposed returning to private ownership, Wall Street not impressed
So perhaps it's no surprise that entertainment industry veteran Robert FX Sillerman has revealed plans to take his latest venture SFX - the EDM-focused company with a core business in dance music festivals - back into private ownership, having only floated the firm in 2013.
Sillerman has asked the SFX board to appoint a committee to consider his proposals, which would see the firm attempt to buy back as much of the company as possible at $4.75 a share, while offering those keen to retain equity in the business the option to do so as shareholders in a privately held concern.
But the proposals haven't gone down especially well with some key Wall Street players, not least some of the firm's existing investors. One told Forbes that Sillerman's offer was "a way low-ball bid", suggesting that it would expect an offer more than double the one currently on the table. Meanwhile an analyst called the proposal "an insult to investors"
So that's all fun, isn't it? Perhaps Sillerman's EDM buddies could pop those investment types some chill pills.
YouTube seemingly not making a profit
And before you say, but what about YouTube, well, people it appears that the popular video site, with its one billion active monthly users and $4 billion in annual revenue, isn't generating any profit for parent company Google. This is according to various sources who have spoken to the Wall Street Journal.
As to why such a successful service isn't profitable, it's likely that Google, like most content streamers, is facing the challenge of having to entertain a sizable audience that doesn't generate it much revenue.
Though whereas a service like Spotify is having to service much less lucrative freemium users while earning from premium subscribers, with YouTube - which is only just playing with premium at all - the problem is users where lots of advertising can be served versus those where ad spots are in short supply.
Some reckon part of the problem is the amount of YouTube videos streamed as embeds on other websites and social networks, where there is less ad collateral available.
The solution to that, therefore, is to try and drive more people to the YouTube site itself, and if possible its home pages, which is something it has been trying to do for a while now with various marketing and content partnership initiatives, and, indeed, with Music Key, which will try and keep music fans within the YouTube ecosystem longer.
Though it's arguably the costs of those initiatives which is preventing short-term profitability at the Google unit.
ITV defends Kanye muting
After many criticised the muting, which made West's much hyped appearance at the awards show a pretty pointless experience for those watching at home, ITV said yesterday: "ITV took the decision to use an audio mute during the performance. The BRITs is broadcast live on ITV from 8pm to a wide audience. We have operated a short time delay as standard practice for some years on the show, to allow us to mute language that may be inappropriate for that wide audience, and elected to do so in this case, given the performance took place shortly after the 9pm watershed".
Though if ITV has a system in place to protect its viewing audience from the trauma of bad content, why wasn't it muting all of Ant & Dec's terrible gags?
Björk admits concerns to putting new material on freemium
So well done Björk, whose rush released new album 'Vulnicura' is yet to make it to the streaming services. But why? Well, she told Fast Company: "We're all making it up as it goes, to be honest. I would like to say there's some master plan going on, but there isn't. But a few months ago I emailed my manager and said, 'Guess what? This streaming thing just does not feel right. I don't know why, but it just seems insane'".
Following the Taylor Swift route in explaining that it's not streaming but freemium streaming that is the bother, Björk continues: "To work on something for two or three years and then just, 'Oh, here it is for free'. It's not about the money; it's about respect, you know? Respect for the craft and the amount of work you put into it".
We should note that, unlike Swift, who pulled her whole catalogue from those streaming services with a compulsory (for the artists) freemium level, like Spotify, it is only the new Björk album that isn't yet available on the key streaming platforms.
And while that's annoying for Spotify and Spotify-using Björk fans, it's good news for everyone who enjoys nothing more than an "urgh, argh, woah, what's the future of freemium in music?" debate on a Friday lunchtime. Here's one I made earlier.
Kate Tempest and one hundred more acts added to The Great Escape
With TGE celebrating its tenth edition this May, Kate Tempest has been confirmed to headline a special show at the Corn Exchange on the Thursday of the proceedings, which follows the news that Alabama Shakes will headline a special night at the Brighton Dome on the Friday. The Tempest gig will also include support from George The Poet and Hollie McNish
In addition to these special top-up ticket shows (wristband holders buy a special top-up that guarantees entrance), 100 more artists have been added to the wider TGE line-up, in addition to the 150 announced last month. From 14-16 May a total of 400 bands will play across the city of Brighton, alongside the CMU Insights-programmed conference, which will explore how digital is changing music marketing, how to build better brand partnerships, the future role of the record label, and exactly how music licensing works.
The full list of bands added to the bill today are as follows: 18+, Aldous Harding, Arkells, Asylums, Birth Of Joy, Blaenavon, Blossoms, Boxed In, Broods, Bulbul, Cairo, Cash + David, Cold Fronts, Common Tongues, Cristobal And The Sea, Cuckoolander, Dark Waves, Delta Rae, Dma's, Dope D.O.D., Dornik, Dralms, Ekkah, Fist City, Flight Brigade, Freeweights, Garbanotas Bosistas, George Maple, George The Poet, Ghost Culture, Heat, Habitats, Hector Bizerk, High Tyde, Highs, Hollie Mcnish, Holy Holy, Intergalactic Lovers, Jack + Eliza, Jeremy Loops, Joyce Manor, K. Flay, Kadebostany, Kali Uchis, Kanzi, Kate Boy, Kate Tempest, Kelela, Knights, La Priest, Lake Komo, Lawson, Leaf Rapids, Louis Baker, M.O, Mew, Mountain Bike, Mr Peter Hayden, Mumdance & Novelist, Nao, Neon Waltz , Nimmo, No Joy, Noah Kin, Nothing But Thieves, Oscar, Pinkshinyultrablast, Pity Sex, Playground Zer0, Pollyanna, Port Isla, Prose, Puts Marie, Redder, Rival Consoles, Rukhsana Merrise, Seafret, Shamir, Shannon Saunders, Sóley, Sons Of Bill, Steve N Seagulls, Stormzy, Sudakistan, Sun Club, Sundara Karma, Susanne Sundfør, Swim Deep, Tears & Marble, Tenterhook, The Beach, The Flavr Blue, The Indien, The Posies, The Posterz, The Well, Todd Dorigo, Turtle, Vaults, Vök, Vukovi, Wand and We Are Shining.
Delegate passes that get you into all of this are currently available for £175, click here.
CMU Beef Of The Week #244: Madonna v Gravity
A subsequent series of TED talks aired some interesting theories, but with little resolution. And countless dissertations on 'The Great Question' really just covered old ground. Though Brian Cox was reportedly working on a new documentary to be co-produced by BBC4 and VH1 with ambitions of settling the matter once and for all. The question of which I speak? Which is greater force in the 21st Century universe: Madonna or gravity?
It's been mainly mavericks who have, in the past, proposed that gravity is the greater of the two forces. They have usually relied on the argument that it's gravity that keeps this and all the other planets of our solar system in orbit around the sun, and that closer to home it facilitates the 'orbitation', to use the made-up term, of the moon around the earth. And where would be without the moon? One Pink Floyd album down for starters.
And then, of course, it's the gravitational effects of the moon and the sun that cause the tides. Madonna has never caused a tidal movement, these scientists argue. And you can vogue all you want, but you can't build a renewal form of power generation from highly stylized dance moves.
But while these may seem like compelling arguments, more mainstream voices have pointed out that...
1. Madonna is the best-selling female recording artist of all time. Gravity has never sold any records.
2. Madonna is the top touring female artist of all time. Gravity is yet to headline a show.
3. Madonna is the most successful solo artist in the history of America's Hot 100. Gravity is yet to chart.
4. Madonna ran her own record label in Maverick. Gravity has never even worked in the music business.
5. In 2007, Madonna signed an unprecedented deal with Live Nation worth $120 million. Gravity's financial arrangements are not known. Which is suspicious.
6. Madonna has long been known as the "Queen Of Pop". Gravity isn't the queen of anything.
7. Gravity has never been inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame. Madonna was inducted in 2008.
8. Gravity may have got a Golden Globe nomination in 2014, but Madonna's film 'Evita' won one in 1996.
9. At last count Madonna had won five VH1 Fashion Awards. No one has ever acclaimed gravity's dress sense.
10. And despite heavy lobbying by its PR reps, gravity has never won a prize at the Hungarian version of the Bravo Otto Awards. Madonna did, for Best Video, in 2008.
Which, you might think, pretty resolutely settles this matter in Madonna's favour. And yet, this week, in an amazing turn of events, it was once again proven than in physics, the truth is over counter-intuitive.
A high-profile television experiment aired by ITV of all people (well and truly gazumping Cox and his BBC4/VH1 project), and beamed to science fans worldwide by YouTube, finally pitted Madonna and gravity against each other in a head-to-head battle.
It was an obvious way of settling the matter really, and you might wonder why it hadn't been done before. But gravity is represented by WME and they drive a very hard bargain indeed. It took the investment of ITV and Mastercard to properly answer this question.
And answer it they did. And despite the expectation of the majority, it turned out the mavericks were right to doubt Madonna's strength, which is ironic given the name she chose for her label, unless that was a clever rouse on her part to distract to the physicists. To ensure scientific credibility, the annual BRIT Awards were chosen as the site for this big test so that no one could claim any gravitas has interfered with the experiment.
Madonna was positioned at the top of a small flight of randomly selected stairs and surrounded by a team of well choreographed lab assistants, who monitored as a world-leading professor (and part-time dancer), using a special device call an Armani, set in motion a controlled test of strength between the two competing forces.
The outcome? Well, to quote New Scientist magazine: "Madonna fell on her arse". Which, I'm pretty sure everyone will now have to concede, makes gravity the greater force in the world today. Controversial I know, but undeniable.
Can I go home now?
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