|WEDNESDAY 29 MARCH 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Questions are being asked about the three big deals done between the Prince estate and Universal Music by some of the late musician's heirs, or at least those advising said heirs, according to the Wall Street Journal. Though the two men who negotiated the deals - L Londell McMillan and Charles Koppelman - insist that everything was above board, with one dismissing any complaints from Prince's siblings as "sour grapes"... [READ MORE]|
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Tensions between Prince heirs continue, questions asked about Universal deals
As previously reported, Universal secured the big three deals with the Prince estate, getting the rights to rep the musician's self-released and unreleased recordings via its record company, his songs catalogue via its music publisher, and his brand and merchandise business via its merch company Bravado. It's thought the three deals combined were worth around $60 million. However, the WSJ says that some of those close to the estate are now asking whether there were actually better deals that could have been done.
This is in part based on allegations that the estate generally ignored attempts to bid by Sony Music and didn't provide Warner Music with enough information about the recordings catalogue available to represent. Sources also claim that Sony/ATV put forward what might have been a better offer for the music publishing rights, while at least one other party topped Bravado's bid for the merchandising rights.
McMillan insists that he and Koppelman secured the best deals for the estate, pointing out that the two men were on a commission - so were incentivised to maximise the return - though that they also had to consider other factors, such as each bidder's size, scope, expertise and vision. He adds that there wasn't actually much information to share regarding the vault of unreleased recordings - because no one has as yet delved into that library - and that the other bidder for merch rights wanted to buy rather than license the Prince brand, which wasn't an option the estate was considering.
As previously reported, there have been various tensions and disagreements between the six presumed heirs of Prince, some of whom have already criticised McMillan and Koppelman's work for the estate. Those heirs also blocked McMillan's bid to become a permanent advisor to the estate, with the judge overseeing the case ultimately deciding not to officially appoint any individual advisors because of the ongoing disagreements.
Elsewhere in Prince estate news, the legal wrangling continues between it and Tidal over what rights the streaming service was given by the musician before his death to stream his recordings. As previously reported, the estate argues that Tidal only secured short-term exclusive rights to Prince's penultimate album, but the streaming firm says it had a wider arrangement with the star, who took most of his music off the other streaming services after striking up an alliance with Tidal and its owner Jay-Z.
The matter went legal last year, with the estate arguing that Tidal doesn't have the paperwork to back up its claims of having a wider deal with Prince. In the latest development, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Tidal is now seemingly arguing that in 2015 Prince became one of the streaming firm's celebrity shareholders via an arrangement which obligated the musician to license it the streaming rights in his catalogue. A so called 'equity term sheet' setting out the basics of that arrangement has been submitted as evidence.
Kobalt's AWAL launches new mobile app to crunch streaming data
At launch the app will pull in data from Spotify and Apple Music, and present that in a variety of ways. Users will be able to see sources of streaming (eg from a playlist, personal library, album page etc), listener location and demographics, and information on what playlists have featured a track.
In addition to the charts, the app also includes a running total of what royalties are heading the artist's way, plus what Kobalt is calling AWAL Insights, bullet point information that explains key trends and facts from the data in a simple way, to inform an artist's priorities and marketing plan.
Launching the new app, Kobalt chief Willard Ahdritz said: "What's true today is that the opportunity for independent artists to make a living off streaming is growing. We want to speed that up. The first step is helping independent artists de-mystify their streaming data. Today's artists need to understand the signals that drive future success and be able to act quickly. The AWAL App puts the power of data into the hands of independent artists to help them build a sustainable career from streaming".
Artists and managers, of course, can already access a stack of stats directly from Spotify via its Fan Insights platform, though the AWAL App will put that data right alongside Apple stats, with the aim to include other data sources down the line. In addition to providing Fan Insights-style information for other services, it will also enable artists, managers and labels to more easily see differences in how their music performs on different platforms.
Sometimes there are marked differences, according to the Kobalt team. The new app's product manager Mark Newman told CMU: "Both Spotify and Apple Music are supporting independent artists, but the ways in which they choose to promote and curate new music differ, whether that's Spotify using Fresh Finds and Apple using Beats 1 to get new independent music to their users".
"As a result, some of our artists have seen different tracks break simultaneously on each service", he continues. "The AWAL app allows artists to see how the services are promoting their music, the impact it has on their streaming performance and what that means for them in terms of the royalties they receive".
Most digital distributors provide online tools to enable clients to more easily process the flood of data that comes out of the streaming services, though Kobalt reckons that having that information available in an easy way via mobile is key, especially for artists and managers. The firm already has apps on the music publishing and neighbouring rights side, and it says those tools informed the creation of the AWAL app.
"We learned a lot from Kobalt's other apps", Newman continues. "But primarily we learned how to present a massive amount of data in a way that's digestible and usable by our clients. Not everyone is a trained analyst or used to looking at these large data sets, and so decisions made around design and UX can make a huge difference in how effective these products are to our clients. With the AWAL app, we're proud of not only providing a wealth of streaming data, but how easy it is to use and navigate for independent artists".
Having gone officially live yesterday after a period in beta, Kobalt says it will look to further hone its AWAL app as time goes on, enabling labels on its platform to share information with their artists, and expanding the data sets it crunches, even beyond digital.
Newman: "At launch, the app is primarily focused on steaming data but that's just one revenue stream for an independent artist. Ultimately, we want the app to be capturing and presenting any set of data that will be helpful in supporting the careers of our artists. We'll be talking to our client base regularly and listening to their feedback to make sure that we're focusing our efforts on the areas that will have the most impact for them".
Warner launches vinyl reprint label Run Out Groove
US-based Run Out Groove is being described as a "fan-driven, vinyl-only" label. The venture has parallels with the Ninja Tune-founded Beat Delete venture that ran in the UK from 2013 to 2015, and the recently launched Vinylised project, though this one will be specifically tapping the Warner Music archives for deleted and rarity recordings to put out again on vinyl - as Universal did briefly with its own catalogue back in 2013.
Each month fans will be asked to vote on which of three previously unreleased or out-of-print recordings they would like to see released on a twelve-inch disc. Once a recording has been selected, fans will be able to pre-order their copy, plus a limited run of each Run Out Groove release will be sent to participating American record stores.
Says Billy Fields at Warner's WEA division: "Warner Music Group is home to many legendary labels - Atlantic, Warner Bros, Reprise, Elektra, Sire, Rykodisc and more - which have produced a wealth of expertly curated music over the years. What makes Run Out Groove unique is that the crate-digging community is steering the ship. We are crowd-sourcing niche, but in-demand, selections from our vast vault to be pressed on high-quality vinyl, and it's going to be a lot of fun to see where the community decides to take us".
One of the first bands set for a limited edition vinyl release via the Run Out Groove project is Echo & The Bunnymen, from which guitarist Will Sergeant says: "I am chuffed that our fans came out in droves and voted for us and that Run Out Groove are releasing our live-in-Sweden recording. It's a historical document of another time, another place, another me and a very interesting stop off travelling the road map of the band's life".
He goes on: "I love the fact that vinyl is having an amazing resurgence and many young music fans are embracing the medium. I am an avid vinyl enthusiast and my vinyl collection is a route map to my life - when you lay them out on your bedroom floor like tarot cards, having a pocket full of MP3s can't do that. The cover art of an LP is almost as important to me as the music. With LPs you feel like you have actually got something worth having, to hold and read while you listen".
Says Warner Music UK Max Lousada chief: "We're always looking for the brightest and most creative talent to work with throughout the Warner Music family - our team and our artists. That's why David and Derek are a great fit. They've shown they're natural A&Rs who gravitate towards brilliant artists and have a strong understanding of what it takes to develop and break artists in today's environment. It's good to be working with them and I'm looking forward to seeing who else they discover".
Abbey Road recording console sells for $1.8 million
The EMI TG12345 MK IV recording console was one of only two made for Abbey Road Studios, used there between 1971 and 1983. The other is now in Prime Studios in Austria, while the one just sold was acquired by its seller - producer Mike Hedges - when Abbey Road upgraded its equipment in 1983. It had been expected to sell for around £700,000.
"The world record price of this important item of music engineering only confirms the military precision of EMI craftsmanship and the powerhouse persona of Abbey Road Studio", says auction house Bonhams' Katherine Schofield. "The intense bidding seen in the room and on the phone speaks to its association with one of the UK's most relevant and successful bands, Pink Floyd, and highlights the fact that this is far from being any ordinary console".
It's not known who the new owner is, or their plans for the bit of studio kit they now own.
Amazon Tickets to offer Prime perks
That includes the option to buy tickets for special Amazon lounges within the AEG-managed O2 dome and Wembley Arena venues in London and priority access to shows where tickets are being sold via Amazon Tickets.
There are other tie-ups with AEG which, despite having its own ticketing business in AXS, would probably be happy for Amazon to take on the might of Live Nation's Ticketmaster, especially in the UK market. As a result Amazon Prime members can get access to a special 'terrace' at AEG's British Summer Time shows in Hyde Park this year. Good times.
"Enhanced live entertainment experiences are a fantastic addition to Amazon Prime in the UK", says Amazon Tickets GM Geraldine Wilson. "We're always looking to add to Amazon Prime, and today we're delighted to give our members exclusive access to tickets to our new Amazon lounges, premium seating and pre-sales for live music and entertainment experiences across the UK".
Most people join Amazon Prime for the free delivery service it provides, but then get access to video-on-demand, the limited-catalogue Prime streaming service, an e-book platform, and other goodies, such as the Amazon Ticket offers.
As previously reported, having originally launched it in the UK, Amazon now has global ambitions for its ticketing operation, having noted last year that "the ticketing business is ripe for innovation and improvement, as much of the industry has not fundamentally changed since the 1970s". Meanwhile, behind the scenes, efforts are being made to more closely align Amazon's various music strands, include CD, downloads, streams, merch and now ticketing.
Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister announce Planetarium album
The album is a new version of a composition they created for Dutch concert hall Muziekgebouw Eindhoven three years ago. "We had recorded all the arrangements and the live parts in a studio after our last performance", says Stevens. "So years later when we all kind of settled down, we said, 'let's open Pandora's box'".
Skepta to play show in aid of Shelter
The 750 tickets for the gig will be available via ballot. I wonder how many will show up on Viagogo, which I'm sure likes exploiting the homeless almost as much as it enjoys exploiting teenagers with cancer. Maybe the tight turn round from ballot to gig will stop the touts.
"I am a man of the people and I can't wait to touch down", says the rapper of the next week's charity show.
Shelter's Graeme Brown adds: "Every penny raised from this very special gig will help Shelter to be there for more people and to ensure that no one has to fight bad housing or homelessness on their own".
You have until 10am tomorrow to put yourself forward for the ballot. Tickets for those picked will cost £40 each and be limited to four per person.
Kate Nash announces Made Of Bricks tenth anniversary tour
"I am so excited to celebrate my ten year anniversary of 'Made Of Bricks", says Nash. "This was a life-changing record for me. At the time of making it I had no idea what to expect, what making a record even was, and how much this would open up a world of art and music to me. After a decade of creating, recording, performing and living I feel more confident about my abilities than ever and I look forward to approaching these performances from where I am today".
"I can't wait to share this with fans old and new", she continues. "I've honed my performance skills and this will bring new life to old material, mixing a sense of nostalgia with a shiny bright future. I'm so proud of how far I have come and I actually feel like I have a stronger connection to the songs now than I did then. I'm more in tune with myself and I think that translates through my performance. I also feel like this album keeps me connected to why I create music. It's an important reminder to me to stay creative, open, imaginative, to have a sense of fun and remember the London streets I grew up in".
She concludes: "It's amazing to be fortunate enough to have a career as an artist. So hashtag blessed. I'm as ever grateful to my beautiful fans! And I'm excited to invite them to something extra special this summer!"
Here are the dates:
1 Aug: Edinburgh, Queens Hall
Pharrell, Ellen Allien, Beth Ditto more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Pharrell is working on a new musical film based on his own childhood, titled 'Atlantis', according to the Hollywood Reporter. And why not?
• Tricot have signed a new deal with Big Scary Monsters to release their third album, '3'. It'll be released on 19 May. Here's first single, 'DeDeDe'.
• Slowdive have announced that they will release their first album for 22 years on 5 May. Here's new single 'Sugar For The Pill'. The band play The Garage in London tonight.
• Kid Koala has released the video for 'Satellite', taken from his new album with Emilíana Torrini, 'Music To Draw To: Satellite'.
• Daniel O'Sullivan will release a new solo album, 'Veld', on 30 Jun. From it, this is 'HC SVNT Dracones'.
• Ellen Allien will release her solo LP 'Nost' through her BPitch label on 12 May. She'll play XOYO in London the same day.
• Former Gossip vocalist Beth Ditto has announced that she will play a solo show at Omeara in London on 11 Apr.
Nobel Prize team await Bob Dylan's call ahead of Stockholm shows
As previously reported, Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize In Literature last year. But instead of jumping for joy and running around shouting, Bob said nothing for a while. Then he said that he was very happy about it, but that he couldn't be bothered to actually go to Sweden to attend a party in his honour.
The Swedish Academy, which awards the prize and isn't really used to this sort of behaviour, attempted to nudge Dylan along by regularly talking about the prize money. There's prize money, see? Eight million Swedish kroner. That's about £730,000. But you can only get your hands on it as a winner if you come and give a lecture in Stockholm.
Traditionally, the lecture is given before the awards party in December, but as Bob didn't go to the party, there was no lecture then. It's OK though, the rules state that a winner has six months from 10 Dec to give their speech. Which gives him until 10 Jun to sort it out.
When he didn't show up in December, the Academy was all like, "Oh, that's fine. He's got some tour dates in Stockholm in the spring, so that'll be perfect". Hence this has come up again now. The Academy even said that he could deliver his lecture in the form of a concert, if he wanted. So all he has to do is say that one of these two shows is his Nobel address and - woo! - double fee. An extra $900,000 in the bank for doing no extra work.
But even the extra work of saying he's doing no extra work is apparently too much extra work for Bob. Or so notes Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, in a new blog post.
"The Swedish Academy looks forward to the weekend", she writes. "These concert plans were laid long before the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature had been awarded".
She continues: "The Swedish Academy confirms that no phone calls with Bob Dylan have taken place in recent months. Dylan is nevertheless aware that a Nobel lecture must be held by 10 Jun for a payout of the prize amount to be considered. That is what the Nobel Foundation statutes say. What he decides to do is his own business".
She also notes that Dylan remains the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature whatever happens, whether he likes it or not.