|TUESDAY 24 JANUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Tidal countered all that renewed scrutiny of its user numbers yesterday by announcing that US phone company Sprint had taken a 33% stake in the streaming service and would be offering subscriptions to its 45 million customer base. As a sweetener, there will be exclusive content offered only to Sprint customers. There have been rumours, of course, that Jay-Z wanted to sell off some or all of Tidal pretty much ever since the day he bought the streaming firm back in 2015; indeed Sprint was one of the first companies to be linked to such a deal... [READ MORE]|
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Sprint takes 33% stake in Tidal
There have been rumours, of course, that Jay-Z wanted to sell off some or all of Tidal pretty much ever since the day he bought the streaming firm back in 2015; indeed Sprint was one of the first companies to be linked to such a deal.
Some reckoned that the hip hop mogul was increasingly keen to get rid of the digital business altogether, though a new backer will reduce the ongoing financial burden of the Tidal operation and could provide a new marketing push.
Certainly on the face of it, access to 45 million potential new customers is nice, and tel co bundles have helped other streaming platforms boost their user numbers in the past. Though, as some of those platforms have found, you can lead a mobile phone customer to the stream, but you can't necessarily make them drink.
Exactly how Sprint customers will be presented with Tidal isn't clear. The two companies have said that news on "exclusive offers and upcoming promotions" will be made available soon, suggesting that it won't simply be that Sprint users get Tidal bundled in with their existing contracts automatically.
As well as all this, Sprint has also committed to set up a marketing fund for artists - though details of what that will involve are also unclear.
"Sprint shares our view of revolutionising the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential", says Jay-Z of the deal. "Marcelo [Claure, Sprint CEO] understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint's 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience".
Claure adds: "Jay saw not only a business need, but a cultural one, and put his heart and grit into building Tidal into a world-class music streaming platform that is unrivalled in quality and content. The passion and dedication that these artist-owners bring to fans will enable Sprint to offer new and existing customers access to exclusive content and entertainment experiences in a way no other service can".
So, it's bold talk all round. Tidal is good at bold talk though. What it's less good at is signing up paying customers, its campaign of big name exclusives having failed to make it a significant contender against Spotify or Apple Music, regardless of which user figures you believe. As previously reported, Norwegian business paper Dagens Næringsliv recently claimed that the number of paying subscribers could be as low as 850,000.
Global Music Rights seeks dismissal of radio industry's monopoly case
As previously reported, the RMLC sued GMR last November. GMR is the boutique performing rights organisation set up by artist manager Irving Azoff that represents the performing rights in songs written by 73 writers. To broadcast those songs, radio stations need a licence from GMR in addition to licences from the other US song right collecting societies BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.
Because BMI and ASCAP both represent such large catalogues of songs, they are subject to the consent decrees administered by the US Department Of Justice to overcome competition law concerns, which mean a rate court can intervene when licensees can't agree royalty terms with either society. SESAC, although not governed by a consent decree, also agreed to third party mediation on royalty disputes during a past legal battle with the RMLC.
The radio industry group is now trying to force the newer GMR to also accept such third party mediation with its new lawsuit. But Azoff's rights agency argues that - given its size - GMR can't be credibly accused of having any sort of monopoly, and therefore there shouldn't be any competition law concerns. Which means GMR should be allowed to negotiate with licensees without the risk of a court intervening.
According to Billboard, in its legal filing calling for the RMLC case to be dismissed, GMR stresses that its catalogue of songs makes up about one eighth of 1% of all the songs available for radio stations to play, and that the works it reps account for 5-7.5% of radio play. Meanwhile, the RMLC represents 10,000 radio stations that together account for 90% of American terrestrial radio revenues.
If anyone is a monopoly, GMR is arguing, it's the RMLC. Indeed, that's what GMR argued in its own lawsuit filed against the radio industry body last month. That litigation which, unlike last week's filing, wasn't a countersuit to the RMLC's action, argued that it was the licensing committee who was acting in an anti-competitive manner.
In addition to the squabbling over who, exactly, is the monopoly here, in its countersuit GMR also says that the RMLC was wrong to file its litigation in the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania. It argues that the case - if it must proceed - should be considered in the Californian courts. GMR is based in California, and while the RMLC is headquartered in Nashville, that's Tennessee, and the Committee has way more member stations in California than it does Pennsylvania.
UK Music welcomes government's new review of the creative industries
So far seventeen people have read it, and fortunately for us that includes someone at UK Music, which has welcomed the fact that the creative industries are included as one of the government's key sectors. To prove that commitment to all things creative, Mrs Maybe has asked former Arts Council England Chair Peter Bazalgette to write a report. Because what's more creative than yet another government report?
UK Music says that it "looks forward to playing an important part" in the Bazalgette's big review of Britain's creative industries, adding that it "hopes to see the music industry's unique offering integrated into future plans as one of the 'world-leading sectors' cultivated within the strategy". Don't we all? I know I do.
Says UK Music boss Jo Dipple: "Music, with all its associated businesses, contributes £4.1 billion to the UK economy and is at the forefront of exerting our soft-power overseas. It is also a prime example of an industry which has successfully adapted and embraced a new digital future. Our industry is in a prime position to grow and thrive".
"The announcement that Sir Peter Bazalgette is to take a lead in fashioning a deal for the creative industries is encouraging and sends a powerful message about the importance of this valuable sector", she goes on.
Dipple then concludes that "the government's strategy commitments to the development of skills, starting and growing businesses, encouraging trade and inward investment, cultivating world-leading sectors and driving growth are all to be welcomed and supported".
So consider them both welcomed and supported. Actually, I'm a bit busy this morning. Could I welcome them now and support them later, maybe?
Another club fire in Bucharest, venue seemingly unlicensed
Some eyewitnesses have claimed that the fire at the city's Bamboo nightclub was started by clubgoers smoking inside the venue. Meanwhile a local government spokesperson has said that the club did not have a current operating licence.
A number of venues were closed in the Romanian capital over safety concerns after 64 people were killed in the fire of the Colectiv club in 2015. Four of the five members of the band playing at Colectiv on that night, Goodbye To Gravity, were among the fatalities.
Other new safety measures were also introduced at those venues still operating, while the Romanian live industry launched a new trade association, in part to promote health and safety measures across the sector, and in part to ensure that promoters had a voice where government was considering new regulation.
Commenting on this weekend's fire, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that Bucharest had been "very close to another big tragedy; rules and laws have apparently been broken again".
Local media report that the authorities staged spot checks on 162 clubs across Romania on Saturday night following the fire at Bamboo earlier that day, issuing nearly 45,000 euros in fines and shutting one venue down on safety grounds.
Mott The Hoople's Pete Overend Watts dies
In a statement yesterday, Peter Purnell from Angel Air Records said: "Peter Overend Watts died yesterday from cancer. He was one of the nicest, gifted individuals I am proud to have called a friend".
Formed in 1969, Mott The Hoople are probably best remembered for their 1972 song 'All The Young Dudes', which was written and produced by David Bowie. Splitting in 1974, the band nonetheless managed to record and release seven albums.
Watts was involved in two reunions in 2009 and 2013. His death comes almost exactly a year after that of the band's drummer Dale Griffin.
James Blunt announces post-romantic new album
The follow-up to 2013's 'Moon Landing', Blunt's fifth album sees him working with songwriters including Ed Sheeran, Ryan Tedder, Amy Wadge, Johnny McDaid, Stephan Moccio and MoZella. That's the sort of talent you can command when you're as successful and popular as James Blunt. Although Ed Sheeran will write for anyone these days - even his nemesis.
As well as this, Blunt also announced that he'll be going out on one of those UK arena tours in November, tickets for which go on sale this Friday.
Here are the dates:
17 Nov: Nottingham, Motorpoint Arena
Goldfrapp return with new album
"We've never liked repeating ourselves", says Alison Goldfrapp, which I'm sure I've heard her say before. "Often we react to things we've just done. We like the spontaneity of not knowing. It's only through the process that we start to figure out what it is. The fans who have stuck with us are the ones who embrace that idea and are excited by the thought that they don't know quite what to expect next".
The other half of the duo, Will Gregory adds: "I think writing an album is like being lost in a wood. You're trying to figure out an interesting path. You don't know whether it's going to be a dead end or somewhere interesting and you never know when to stop because around the corner some beautiful vista might open up".
BBC unveils UK Eurovision hopefuls
Either way, yesterday morning, six contenders for being thrown to the lions were unveiled by the BBC, by which we mean the artists/songs that could as yet be the British entry at this year's Contest. The final decision on which song will be sent to represent the UK will be chosen, for the second year running, on BBC show 'Eurovision: You Decide'.
You'd think even the BBC would have learned the lesson by now about the risks of asking the British public for any opinion relating to Europe, but apparently not. So, the great people of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will be left to select one of the following songs, all of which could be twisted to sound like some sort of comment on Brexit:
• Danyl Johnson - Light Up The World
'Eurovision: You Decide' will be broadcast on BBC Two at 7.30pm this Friday, live from the Hammersmith Apollo. Listen to all six entries here.
The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest will take place at in Kiev, Ukraine on 13 May.
Live Nation, [PIAS], Sony Music, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• This being a day with 'day' in its name, time for another Live Nation acquisition. This time the live giant has taken a controlling stake in Preston-based Cuffe & Taylor which, among other things, promotes Greenwich Music Time and the Lytham Festival. Other Live Nation deals in recent days include the new joint venture with Metropolis Music in the UK and the purchase of CT Touring in the US.
• [PIAS] has acquired Australian label and distributor Inertia Music, which will now rep [PIAS] artists in the Aussie market. The deal doesn't include other companies in the Inertia Group, and won't change the day-to-day operations of Inertia Music either.
• Sony Music UK has a new Director Of Compilations in the form of Naz Idelji, who joined the major via its acquisition of the Ministry Of Sound record label where she headed up, yep, you guessed it, compilations.
• If you've been telling people that Ed Sheeran's 'Castle On The Hill' doesn't have a video, then you're going to look pretty silly, because it does.
• Following all that chat about her playing a Donald Trump inauguration event last week, Chrisette Michele has released a new song, 'No Political Genius'.
• E! News reckons that Kanye West is about to reschedule the European shows he cancelled last year.
• Sigma will play the Royal Albert Hall on 27 May this year, making them the first drum n bass act ever to headline the venue, apparently.
• Mogwai will play a big old homecoming show at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow on 16 Dec. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
• Interpol have announced tour dates to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of their 'Turn On The Bright Lights' album. UK-wise, they'll be at Alexandra Palace in London on 1 Sep and the Albert Hall in Manchester on 3 Sep.
• Jorja Smith will be touring the UK in April, which is exciting. Among the dates will be a show at Village Underground in Shoreditch on 3 Apr.
• Maximo Park will tour the UK in May, taking in London's Royal Festival Hall on the way. Their new album, 'Risk To Exist', is out on 21 Apr. Here's the video for the title track.
• Frank Ocean: Not a fan of Donald Trump.
Calls for Madonna to be arrested for her views on yellow purple bananas
Madonna was addressing the Women's March protest against Donald Trump in Washington, DC on Saturday - which, of course, had a sizeably larger turnout than the new president's inauguration the previous day. During the address, she said: "Yes, I'm angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House. But I know that this won't change anything".
Speaking to Fox News, White House Chief Of Staff Reince Priebus said on Sunday: "Some of the things that were said yesterday, I'm not going to give the person any credit, but one of the actors said that - or one of the singers said she wanted to blow up the White House. I mean, can you imagine saying that about President Obama?"
Good job there Reince, covering up that you didn't actually know who said this or what exactly was said. I don't think anyone noticed. Because of course you wouldn't want to give the actor, I mean singer, any "credit".
Also, while I couldn't imagine Madonna saying that she wanted to blow up the White House with President Obama in it, I think it would be fair to say that there were people saying stuff just like that during his presidency. I tried to find out if anyone famous had ever done so, but the first thing I found was this, and I decided it was probably best to leave Google alone.
But, yeah, Madonna did mention blowing up the White House, which it's not exactly easy to defend. Maybe with some context you could, I guess. But who likes context? Oh, Madonna of course. Ugh.
"I am not a violent person, I do not promote violence and it's important people hear and understand my speech in it's entirety rather than one phrase taken wildly out of context", she said in an Instagram post. "My speech began with 'I want to start a revolution of love'. I then go on to take this opportunity to encourage women and all marginalised people to not fall into despair but rather to come together and use it as a starting point for unity and to create positive change in the world".
"I spoke in metaphor and I shared two ways of looking at things", she continued. "One was to be hopeful, and one was to feel anger and outrage, which I have personally felt. However, I know that acting out of anger doesn't solve anything. And the only way to change things for the better is to do it with love. It was truly an honour to be part of an audience chanting 'we choose love'".
So there's her take. She was actually pointing out that lashing out in anger is not an effective way to proceed in overcoming hate. Which is presumably why she also said, "To our detractors that insist that this march will never add up to anything, fuck you".
Has all of this placated Newt Gingrich? Have a guess. No, he still thinks she "ought to be arrested", he told Fox News yesterday. In fact: "She is parallel to the young fascists who ran around town breaking windows, all of whom should be given the maximum sentence ... What you have is an emerging left-wing fascism. She's part of it, and I think we have to be prepared to protect ourselves".
Woah, Newt. What about all that context she gave? What about the Instagram post? Adopting one of those sarcastic tones that the kids love so much, the political man continued: "I love the left. When they say 'I dreamed about blowing up the White House', they didn't mean they dreamed about blowing up the White House. They actually meant 'the yellow purple banana', but they didn't wanna say yellow purple banana because it was too shocking, so they said blow up the White House. Give me a break! She now understands she's at risk".
Yeah, if only she'd just said 'yellow purple banana', none of this would have happened.