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Ne-Yo calls on American legislators to overhaul music licensing laws
The R&B star has penned a piece for Washington-based Roll Call amidst a flurry of music copyright debates in American political and legal circles, as Pandora pursues more favourable royalty rates through the Copyright Royalty Board and collective licensing rate courts; while artists and labels push for new laws to force AM/FM radio stations to pay royalties to sound recording owners for the first time; and the publishers seek a change in collective licensing rules Stateside so they can force digital services into direct deals away from the aforementioned rates courts, meaning they could demand higher payments.
Noting that streaming services often defend their business models by saying they are turning pirates into ad-revenue-generating and ultimately subscription-paying customers, Ne-Yo writes "as a songwriter, I find this to be an offensive and inaccurate argument".
Very much pitching at Roll Call's political audience, the singer goes on: "In most industries, the value of something increases with demand. The more people who want your goods or services, the higher the price you can expect to receive for them in the marketplace. It's basic fairness. But the music business doesn't work that way. How much a songwriter gets paid is mostly determined by federal regulations, rather than the free market. This regulatory system was created more than 70 years ago and has not been updated since 2001, before the introduction of the iPod and before streaming music was made popular".
While supporting an overhaul of American licensing rules, so that music publishers can start direct dealing with streaming services to up their payments, Ne-Yo also references the disparity between the streaming monies earned by labels and publishers, acknowledging that the solution to his concerns is not just the mainly loss making streaming services paying more.
He writes: "Songwriters see the smallest fraction of royalty payouts because we are limited in how we can negotiate. Meanwhile, record labels and recording artists often earn twelve to fourteen times more than songwriters for a stream of the exact same song. As an artist who has experienced both sides of this split, I can personally speak to the nonsensical disparity between these different incomes".
Calling for US Congress to back an overhaul of licensing rules and a rewrite of the so called consent decrees that govern collective licensing in America, Ne-Yo stresses that this isn't for his benefit (possibly aware that consumers don't always respond well to wealthy superstar artists calling for higher royalties - resulting in things like this).
He notes: "I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to earn a living off other revenue streams, such as concert tours and merchandise. But for my fellow songwriters, whose craft is focused on the powerful written word, music licence royalties are their sole source of income".
Read the full op-ed piece here.
DLT left "financially ruined" by indecent and sexual assault cases
As previously reported, Travis was cleared of twelve charges of indecent assault in February last year, and of a further count of indecent assault and one of sexual assault in September. But he was found guilty of an additional allegation of indecent assault, added by the prosecution between the two trials, and was given a three month suspended sentence for that crime.
The former DJ's lawyer revealed his client's financial woes yesterday while making an application for the court to cover some costs, noting that - while Travis was convicted on one charge - "all of the allegations from trial one were found in his favour". Adding that he was now working for Travis pro bono, lawyer Stephen Vullo said of DLT, according to the Mirror: "He has no money left whatsoever. He is now below zero. He lives in a house owned by his wife ... he has been financially devastated by this".
The judge awarded Travis travel costs, but limited to the value of a return train ticket and £50 taxi costs per day the DJ spent in court. Some of Vullo's expenses will also be covered, even though prosecutor Joshua Munro argued the costs were not "reasonable" expenses for the taxpayer to fund.
Afrika Bambaataa signs to Sony/ATV
Says Afrika Bambaataa himself: "I am excited to team up with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and look forward to the future of many more spectacular, creative, mind blowing, positive events to happen from being with a company like this".
He went on: "With so many great artists they already represent throughout the world, I will be following the greatness of many Motown groups that Sony/ATV looks after as well as the great Sly And The Family Stone, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson and many more. Respect to all the hard workers and staff at Sony/ATV Music Publishing and let's rejoice and give the world more peace, unity, love and having fun in music and dance".
He does seem genuinely excited, doesn't he? Almost thrilled. Sony/ATV Catalogue A&R Yasmin Lajoie added: "It's such an honour to welcome Bam to the Sony/ATV family. We are looking forward to working with him, not only helping preserve his legacy by introducing his songs to a new generation of music lovers, but also setting up collaborations and assisting Bam with exciting new creative projects".
I'm so happy that everyone is so happy.
Indie festivals contributed a billion to UK economy between 2010 and 2014, says AIF
The trade group also reckons that 635,000 music fans attended its members' events just last year, generating £296 million between them. And a portion of that figure comes from "audience spend along the supply chain including local businesses", with £80 million odd benefiting other suppliers and companies based near festival sites during the five years AIF researched.
Other stats published by the AIF yesterday - based on a survey of festival-goers - revealed that 49% of those interviewed said they chose to attend an independent festival over taking a summer holiday, while 58.2% said "general atmosphere, overall vibe and character of event" was the single most important factor in choosing a festival to go to.
That was compared to just 8.3% saying that "headline acts" impact on their festival decision making. Which is interesting, given promoters at most larger music fests will say headliners are key to ticket sales, hence the negotiating power of headline level artists and their pesky agents.
The stats frenzy comes as AIF launches a new initiative called Festival Fever, which will see indie festivals bigging up their independent status, and the launch of an AIF YouTube channel and a fan footage competition, the prize for which will be access to all AIF-member festivals. Which would keep the winner busy.
Commenting on all this, AIF General Manger Paul Reed told reporters: "Our extensive research clearly shows that the independent music festival sector is thriving and enjoying an extended period of fantastic growth. Over the last four years our members events have contributed an estimated £1bn to the UK economy, primarily through audience spend, which has benefited the entire country, particularly local businesses in the areas where these festivals take place".
He went on: "To celebrate that success we have launched Festival Fever to highlight the importance of independent music festivals and to illustrate the huge diversity of wonderful events and experiences our members stage throughout the year".
Slipknot fail to set the world on fire with Zippo partnership
This isn't just a straight sponsorship deal though. Oh, Christ no. This is a total two-way creative love-in. Because, you see, Slipknot are going to design some lighters, which Zippo will then hawk at the shows in its own pop-up shop. Fans will also have the chance to win prizes and create their own lighter designs.
"Who can think of a concert - especially a heavy metal or hard rock concert - without picturing Zippo lighters in the air, showing appreciation for the music that's being played?" asked Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor (a generation of blank-faced young people just out of shot).
He continued: "We're excited to partner with Zippo and put our creative caps on to ultimately create something special for our fans, something that they'll appreciate and haven't seen before".
Oh, piss off. Why is this statement not telling kids to use the lighters to smoke bongs and set fire to any seating in the venue? What has happened to our rockstars?
I mean, I think that statement was actually worse than that from the marketing guy who followed. Look, here's Zippo's Global Brand Manager Brent Tyler: "In teaming up with Slipknot, we have a unique opportunity to pair rock royalty with one of America's most iconic and recognisable brands. This partnership will be unlike anything Zippo Encore has done previously, and we're looking forward to giving our fans something truly special to get excited about this summer".
What does he mean "our" fans? Surely he means "Slipknot's fans". Or have the band lost so much of their edge in doing this, that he thinks that people are actually going to turn up mainly to buy lighters?
What a world we live in.
Local radio group in Norway hits out at FM shutdown proposal
As previously reported, Norway recently said it would switch off FM broadcasts in December 2017, giving radio listeners in the country two and half years to move over to exclusively digital platforms. Which is a tall order given nearly half of all radio listeners in the country tune into FM each day, 45% don't own a digital radio set, and 80% of cars still only have analogue radio receivers.
Though some reckon that a firm deadline for FM shutdown is needed to speed up analogue to digital switchover and end the inefficiency of broadcasters having to operate on both FM and the DAB digital radio system.
But not everyone is pro the speedy FM shutdown in Norway, says the NLRA. The group writes: "This FM switch-off proposal is up for decision in Stortinget, the Norwegian parliament, later this spring. While there is still a majority in favour of the proposal, opposition is growing. The government coalition partner, the Progress Party, has been against switching off FM since the first proposal for DAB came up in Stortinget in 2011. Now, the Green Party, is also aligning against the switch-off".
The NLRA also says that Norwegian ministers claiming that FM shutdown could now be scheduled because the country has passed the 50% "digital listening point" was misleading because those numbers include those who listen to radio via digital TV or the net. The group adds: "Last week, the Norwegian Government Statistical Bureau reported that listening to DAB radio is presently limited to 19% on a daily basis".
The concerns expressed by the Norwegian Local Radio Association replicate points raised against DAB by some smaller radio operators in the UK, who argue the push to switch from FM to DAB is being led by the bigger radio firms despite the concerns of smaller companies. Though, as previously reported, the push here hasn't yet led to any firm date for a widespread FM wind-down as yet.
Full schedules now live for three of the CMU Insights @ The Great Escape strands
As previously reported, there's a whole new look to the Great Escape Convention this year, with CMU presenting four full-day conference strands, each exploring a different theme in-depth through a combination of talks, interviews, original research and discussions. Delegates can still dip in and out as they wish, though if they choose to join a strand in its entirety we'll walk them through all the key trends, issues and developments that have occurred in that part of the music business.
The music marketing strand on Friday 15 May will look at the impact the shift to streaming and the potential of direct-to-fan have had on the way both labels and managers market their artists and releases. We'll look at the different kinds of playlists that are driving repeat listening (and therefore repeat royalties) and how labels and artists can influence the compilers. And we'll consider how analytics and new ticketing apps and platforms are changing the way we publicise gigs, tours and festivals. Check the schedule here.
The music licensing strand on Thursday 14 May will provide a concise overview of how music copyright works, covering the 'beginners guide' basics, and then quickly looking at latest trends, developments and technicalities. It will reveal how music rights are making money around the world in 2015, before explaining in clear terms how labels and publishers are licensing streaming services, what is happening to streaming income, and why gaps and inconsistencies in copyright ownership data are an increasingly big issue. Check the schedule here.
The brands strand on Thursday 14 May will look at recent developments in the brand partnerships domain, and explore how better collaboration between each element of the music industry is needed to get the most out of artist/brand alliances. We'll have a series of case studies looking at how different partnerships between brands and artists, festivals and venues have worked, before considering the ins and outs of a sync deal and what artists can do if they think a brand has ripped off their music. Check the schedule here.
The fourth strand on Friday 15 May will put the artist/label relationship under the spotlight. Looking first at the growing direct-to-fan and label services business, we'll ask why so many artists - and especially new talent - still seek a traditional label partnership. But how can artists get the most out of that alliance, what are the real commercial opportunities for both artist and label, and how are their deals evolving to capitalise on all that? Look out for the full schedule to this final strand going live next week.
To access these conference strands and all the other Great Escape festivities this year you need yourself a delegates pass, which - if you haven't already got it - you can buy here. And don't forget the CMU:DIY programme for future talent taking place on Saturday 16 May, check the full line up to that here.
Alabama Shakes announce UK shows
The band will play two dates around their sold out headline show at The Great Escape on 15 May, heading to the Academy in Birmingham on 13 May and the Apollo in Manchester on 16 May.
"But what about London?" you may legitimately be screaming at the sky right now. "What sort of band books a UK tour and doesn't come to London?"
Calm yourself, they have thought of this. They will play the Brixton Academy on 18 Nov. Yes, you're right, that is a long time after those other dates. However, on the plus side, it means that, come Autumn, everyone outside London can complain that American bands all think that London is the only city worth playing in the UK, having forgotten that the Shakes played in a couple of other places earlier in the year. Everyone can go home happy.
Here's the video for 'Future People', in honour of the future and us feeling that warm glow of superiority.
Solid Steel relaunch, Kanaku Y El Tigre signing, Michael Eavis's train, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Universal Music Publishing has renewed its worldwide alliance with UK publishing and production firm Metrophonic, with the major providing rights administration to the indie. "Positive" says Metrophonic's Brian Rawling. "Delighted" added Universal's Paul Connolly.
• Booking agent Cris Hearn, previously off of Primary Talent, has joined rival agency Coda as a Senior Agent. "Philosophy" says Hearn. "Universally" adds Coda MD Claire Horseman
• Ninja Tune's Solid Steel DJ mix show has relaunched its website. It will continue to put up a new two hour mix every week, and for the new site producer DK has collected 50 of the best dating back to 1988. It's very cool, check it out.
• Peruvian indie folk band Kanaku Y El Tigre have signed joint record deals with K7!'s Strut Records and Tiger's Milk Records, as well as a publishing deal with Sony/ATV. This is new single 'Si Te Mueres Mañana'.
• Palma Violets have released the video for 'English Tongue', taken from their new album 'Danger In The Club', which is out on 5 May. And here is that video.
• Calexico have shared the video for 'Falling From The Sky' from their new album, 'Edge Of The Sun'. Watch it here. Next week they kick of a short UK tour with a sold out show at the Shempire.
• Jurassic 5 have announced UK tour dates to mark the re-issue of their 1995 debut album 'Quality Control' later this year. They'll play in Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol, finishing up at The Forum in London on 10 Sep.
• If you want, you can book to stay in Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love's old bedroom in LA on Airbnb, for £199 per night.
• Or, if you've got a bit more money knocking around, you could buy Trent Reznor's house for $4.5 million. Up to you.
• A new train that will travel from Paddington to Castle Carey, the nearest station to the Glastonbury festival, has been named Michael Eavis. Appearing at the unveiling yesterday, Eavis said: "There have been ups and downs over the last 45 years of the festival but this is one of the best moments".
CMU Beef Of The Week #251: Leona Lewis v Syco
It all began when she signed to Island last June, and Lewis said in a statement that she'd had "seven incredible years at Sony" but was happy to now be on a label where "artists can really flourish and are encouraged to express themselves" and which "stands for quality music".
See, I'm picking out the choice words to create my own narrative, she might not have meant anything by it at all. She said her time with Sony was "incredible", after all.
Then there was that letter she wrote in September, posted to her Facebook page, in which she directly discussed her departure from Syco, saying: "After several years, I thought about leaving over and over again. I was terrified of walking away from a somewhat secure relationship, even though I knew that we were no longer right for each other and at times even bad for each other. However, I clung to the safety net I had grown so attached to".
She went on: "One day everything changed. For my fifth album, I was asked to make a record that would not have been true to myself. By all means as an artist in this climate, I was thankful to even get the chance to make another record. But I cannot make music that does not speak to my soul, and as scary as it seemed, I could no longer compromise myself, and so I decided to leave".
She also said that she was "threatened with the fact that if I left, it would come out that I had been dropped".
That, could, perhaps have been the final word on it all. Though was the disagreement on album five the first falling out or the final nail? And how harsh had that fall out really been? Lewis did add: "The end of a relationship can really burn but underneath it all, there is still love there". Still love! Yes, it might have gone sour at the end, but they can still be friends. There's no need to burn bridges and go on about it all the time. Let's just drop it all now.
But no, things can't be dropped. People still need to find hidden meaning in things. Earlier this month someone suggested to the Mirror that lines in her first Island single, 'Fire' are all about Syco. She was "drowning in quicksand", she sings, adding: "I'm set free, I begin to spread my wings. I'm happy and I've earned this".
Oh yeah, it could just be a song about a messy break up with an actual romantic partner, but don't you think it's more likely that someone would write about their relationship with a division of a multi-national company? And what's more, the paper pointed out, while previewing the single at a live event in London, she also thanked Island, saying from the stage: "Thank you for allowing me to make an honest and genuine album and show the real me".
Honest, genuine, and real. It doesn't mean her albums with Syco weren't those things, of course. She could just be surprised that Island let her make an album she appears to be happy with. But at the same time, she could totally sticking it to the stifling Syco.
"It's like full circle back to where I started and where I began and why I started doing music", she says of where she's at now. And please note here point there: she had played music before falling into the jaws of Syco. She continues: "I've met people that I respect and love so much doing this, and that have become like best friends to me, and I've met people that have come in and taken advantage of me. I always embrace everyone with open arms and see the best in people".
Well, I think we might have identified the problem. But there's more: "Having that creative freedom, I'm going out there and doing my own things. A lot of people were telling me how to be and how act and what to say. You should be able to do whatever you wanna do, however you wanna express yourself. No one is one dimensional. I'm gonna say whatever it is I wanna say and I'm not gonna compromise myself anymore and I'm not gonna censor myself".
So, there you go. I think that's pretty conclusive evidence that Leona Lewis sees everything that has happened to her since 2006 as terrible and is only now starting her career in music. "Fuck you, Sony", she seems to say. "And fuck you Simon Cowell. Fuck you right in the eye".
Hey, speaking of people dishing out sly insults, Calvin Harris tweeted this week that his hit with Rihanna, 'We Found Love', "wouldn't have been a hit if anyone else had sung it".
Back in 2012, you might remember, Leona Lewis revealed that she'd been the original singer on the track. Honestly, these popstars...
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