|FRIDAY 31 MARCH 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The largest recorded music market - that being the USA of course - saw double digit revenue growth in 2016 according to the latest stats pack from the record industry there. Double digit growth! Yes, no longer does the record industry need to get all excited about fraction-of-a-per-cent growth, we're talking full on double digits. The US record industry's not seen double digit growth since the very peak of the CD mountain in 1998... [READ MORE]|
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Double digital growth in US thanks to all those streams
Anyway, the largest recorded music market - that being the USA of course - saw double digit revenue growth in 2016 according to the latest stats pack from the record industry there. Double digit growth! Yes, no longer does the record industry need to get all excited about fraction-of-a-per-cent growth, we're talking full on double digits. The US record industry's not seen double digit growth since the very peak of the CD mountain in 1998.
To be more precise, US recorded music sales last year were up 11.4% to $7.7 billion, still a long way off what the record industry generated back in the glory days of 1998/9, but impressive growth all the same. That growth was, of course, fuelled by the streaming boom. The American streaming market grew 68% last year, and streaming services brought in more cash than downloads, CDs and vinyl combined in the US in 2016 (just). Yes, that's right, even when you throw in that mighty vinyl revival, streams beat discs and downloads (just).
Of course, it's really paid-for subscription streaming that is driving all the growth, with revenues from that domain more than doubling year-on-year in 2016, while income from the ad-funded on-demand platforms like YouTube and Spotify Free were up a somewhat more modest 26%.
"Our story is one of innovation, investment in great artists, hard work, and a relentless commitment to music", said Cary Sherman, boss of the Recording Industry Association Of America while blogging and bragging about the 2016 figures yesterday. "Look (and listen) around you - like never before, music surrounds us, it uplifts us, it narrates our big games and life's major moments, it is who we follow on leading social media platforms".
"That does not happen by accident", he continued. "It is partly the result of a tireless community of label entrepreneurs who approach each and every day with passion and conviction, both about music's importance and the great artists who bring it to life. The music business, more than any other creative industry, is leading the digital transition".
"A year of growth in the US music business is welcome news", the RIAA chief continued, "It suggests that years of patiently nurturing a nascent streaming marketplace has begun to pay off". But, he noted, there is still some way to go if the US record industry is to ever return to its 1990s peak. Which means, while things may be going well, they could always be going weller. Ain't that the truth?
And, of course, you know why things aren't going weller, don't you? Cary knows. Come on, you know too. Safe harbours! Value gap! YouTube! Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Efforts to get radio royalties for recordings back on agenda in US Congress
As much previously reported, US copyright law is unusual in that it doesn't provide a general 'performing right' for sound recordings, meaning third parties do not need to secure a licence or pay any royalties to artists and labels when they play a track on the radio or in public. There is, however, a digital performing right, meaning online and satellite broadcasters do need a licence.
This peculiarity of American law means artists and labels do not earn any royalties when their music is played on the radio, unlike their counterparts in most other countries. Meanwhile online and satellite broadcasters are at a disadvantage to AM/FM broadcasters.
There have been various efforts over the years to introduce a general performing right for sound recordings in the US, most recently via the proposed Fair Play Fair Pay Act that is now back on the agenda in Congress thanks to politicians Jerrold Nadler, Marsha Blackburn, John Conyers Jr, Darrell Issa, Ted Deutch and Tom Rooney.
The six Representatives said yesterday: "Our current music licensing laws are antiquated and unfair, which is why we need a system that ensures all radio services play by the same rules and all artists are fairly compensated".
They went on: "Our laws should reward innovation, spur economic diversity and uphold the constitutional rights of creators. That is what the Fair Play Fair Pay Act sets out to accomplish: fixing a system that for too long has disadvantaged music creators and pitted technologies against each other by allowing certain services to get away with paying little or nothing to artists".
The proposals would specifically add a 'terrestrial performance right' for recordings into federal copyright law. There would be caps on royalty payments for smaller and non-commercial stations, measures to ensure artists as well as labels benefited, and a rule that the introduction of royalties for artists and labels couldn't be used to try and reduce the royalties already paid to songwriters and publishers.
The act would also seek to apply the new performing right to recordings which pre-date 1972 and therefore are actually protected by state-level copyright law in the US. As also previously reported, whether or not the federal digital performing right should apply to pre-1972 tracks has been something of a contentious point.
The US Content Creators Coalition, for which this is a key issue, welcomed the news that the AM/FM royalties legislation was back on the agenda in Washington. Its President and Exec Director - Melvin Gibbs and Jeffrey Boxer respectively - said in a joint statement: "For decades, artists have been forced to let their music generate billions of dollars of advertising profit to the corporate investors of radio companies while not being paid one cent for their art. It is past time for Congress to right this wrong".
The big traditional broadcasters have always objected to the introduction of a general performing right, but Gibbs and Boxer argue that "big corporate radio's hollow arguments and Potemkin resolutions have worn thin - and failed to stem the tide of progress". Noting all the past efforts to make US radio pay, they say they were "heartened" by this week's developments, and that "we also are hopeful that this legislation will reform the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to restore the balance Congress had intended".
They conclude: "We are at a decisive moment for music creators and our grassroots army of musicians and fans stands ready to mobilise in support of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act and other reforms to ensure the next generation of artists don't disappear".
The Recording Industry Association Of America also welcomed the return of the radio royalties act, with its boss Cary Sherman saying: "This bipartisan bill helps create a more level playing field when music is played on various platforms. By doing away with big radio's subsidy that rips off artists and labels, helping streamline producer payments, fixing the pre-72 loophole to help legacy artists get paid, and finally bringing SiriusXM's antiquated rate paid to music creators into alignment with its competitors, this bill is much-needed legislation made to fit today's modern music industry".
MegaUpload data to be rescued, though not shared with MegaUpload
As previously reported, ever since the US authorities took the often controversial MegaUpload offline on copyright infringement grounds in 2012 there has been much debate as to what should happen to the servers the company rented from various suppliers around the world; or at least those that haven't already been wiped.
The data on those servers is of interest to the music and movie companies, which reckon they need it as evidence for their civil litigation against the old MegaUpload company. The former MegaUpload management, meanwhile, want the data as evidence for their defence to both the civil and criminal proceedings they are facing. Plus there are those former MegaUpload customers who used the file-storage firm to legitimately store their own original content who would quite like to get their files back.
Last year one of the US companies that previously rented server space to MegaUpload - Cogent - said that some of the hard drives on which the ex-firm's data had been stored following the 2012 shutdown were now unreadable simply because they hadn't been used in such a long time. In a legal filing, MegaUpload itself said it had been told that "without the assistance of a computer forensic expert ... Cogent cannot confirm that the data remains extant and uncorrupted".
Earlier this month the Motion Picture Association Of America and the Recording Industry Association Of America put forward a proposal to a federal court in Virginia that said they would pay for a company called DriveSavers to review the sixteen hard drives and attempt to rescue the data. If it can, it would return the rescued data to Cogent without keeping any copies for itself, or providing copies to any third parties.
The old MegaUpload team had no problem with that plan, except that they wanted a commitment as part of the proposal that they would get a copy of any rescued data, adding that in return they would be happy to commit to only use said data as evidence in their legal defence. The MPAA and RIAA have generally resisted any suggestion that data be automatically returned to MegaUpload or former MegaUpload users on the basis that at least a chunk of it will be their members' copyright protected material that was on the defunct site's platform illegally.
For their part, the movie and record industries said that the debate over who gets access to the rescued data could be had another day, for now all that needed to be decided was how said data was going to be rescued. The judge overseeing the case recently agreed, knocking back a slightly altered proposal from Team Mega which included the commitment to provide them with the data.
Though, by approving the MPAA/RIAA version of the plan, they won't automatically get the data either. Judge Liam O'Grady's ruling reads: "Once the drives and devices have been returned to Cogent's custody and stored in Cogent's facility, no person ... shall have access to those drives and devices, or to the data contained on those drives and devices, absent further order from this court".
There are both criminal and civil proceedings ongoing in relation to the old MegaUpload business of course. Both of which have been held up as the US goes through the long drawn out process of trying to extradite MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues from New Zealand to America.
A Perfect Circle sign to BMG
Fronted by Tool's Maynard James Keenan with guitarist Billy Howerdel, A Perfect Circle last released a studio album in 2004. Currently joined by James Iha, Jeff Friedl and Matt McJunkins, the band will also kick off a US tour next month.
While Howerdel says that the band are "looking forward to sharing new music" soon, BMG's Jon Cohen adds: "We're THRILLED to welcome A Perfect Circle to BMG and excited to present their highly-anticipated new music to the world. Their uncompromising approach, vision and legion of fans have made them one of the most artistic and commercially successful acts in rock".
Safe As Milk Festival cancels and goes into administration
Due to take place on 21-23 Apr (ATP's traditional spring slot) at Prestatyn Pontins (the last venue used by ATP), the event was a partnership between Newcastle's Tusk Music and Alt.vinyl. Artists set to perform included The Butthole Surfers, Jeff Mills & Tony Allen, Omar Souleyman, Actress, Anna Meredith, Demdike Stare, The Residents, and more.
In a statement yesterday, it was announced that the company behind the festival had gone into liquidation, with a creditors meeting set for 25 Apr.
"We are very sorry to announce that we have had to take the decision to cancel Safe As Milk Festival", it reads. "Despite the widespread excitement about the event, we're sorry to report that ticket sales have not reached a level to make the event viable so, despite our best efforts, we have no other option but to cancel".
Anyone who purchased tickets via credit card or a Visa debit card should be able to reclaim their money from the issuer. Others will have to try their luck with the administrators.
Crowdfunding campaign for Poly Styrene documentary launched
Director Paul Sng, who previously helmed Sleaford Mods film 'Invisible Britain', says of the project: "Poly Styrene remains one of the most original and dynamic voices in popular culture. We're aiming to make a film that reflects her effervescent and vivid life, and provide a fitting cinematic tribute to her legacy as an artist and icon".
The musician's daughter, Celeste Bell, who will narrate and co-write the film, adds: "This film will be a celebration of the life and work of my mother, an artist who deserves to be recognised as one of the greatest frontwomen of all time; a little girl with a big voice whose words are more relevant than ever".
Poly Styrene, real name Marianne Elliott-Said, died in 2011, shortly after revealing publicly that she had been receiving treatment for breast cancer.
Alt-J release new single In Cold Blood
"We started writing 'In Cold Blood' in our Leeds [University] days and finished it last year in London", say the band. "The brass was recorded at Abbey Road; the keyboards were done on a Casiotone that cost £1.05 on eBay; and no one is quite sure where the key change came from".
The band - like so many others - have just been confirmed for Glastonbury too. So that'll be fun for them. And they've got that O2 Arena show on 16 Jun. How lovely.
Forest Swords announces compassionate new album
The idea actually feeds into the inspiration for the new record, as the producer, real name Matthew Barnes, explains: "Like many, with all that's been going on since I started making the record, I've struggled to see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel. So I realised there's some sort of power in trying to create our own instead. I'm inspired by the ways we're communicating now, for better or worse, and thinking about new channels where we can distribute ideas. The idea of looking for flexible future ways of expression and language, that bends to our needs quicker, really excites me".
'Compassion' is out on 5 May. And for those who didn't manage a WhatsApp chat, here's the new video for new single 'Arms Out'.
Lana Del Rey, Kasabian, Paul Weller, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Lana Del Rey has released a trailer for her new album, 'Lust For Life'.
• Kasabian have knocked together a video for new single 'You're In Love With A Psycho'.
• Paul Weller will release a new album, 'A Kind Revolution', on 12 May. From it, this is 'Long Long Road'.
• The Magpie Salute - a new band featuring The Black Crowes' Rich Robinson, Marc Ford and Sven Pipen - will release their debut album on 9 Jun. They'll also be performing live in London at Under The Bridge on 12-15 Apr. Here they are doing a song.
• Pete Doherty has released a video for 'Kolly Kibber', from his 'Hamburg Demonstrations' album.
• Jimpster will release new album 'Silent Stars' on 13 May. Here's a bit of first single, 'Crave'.
• Dream Wife have released a video for new single, 'Somebody'.
• Pharmakon has released the video for 'Somatic', taken from her new album 'Contact', which is out today.
• Shitkid will release her debut album, 'Fish', on 2 Jun. From it, this is 'Tropics'.
• French export night Oui Love will return to Birthdays in Dalston on 17 May. Performing will be Fishbach, KillASon and Fauna Twin.
• As ever, we'll be updating our weekly Spotify playlist with all the new music from the week's CMU Dailies. Check it out here.
Beef Of The Week #349: John Lydon v Everything You Thought You Knew
It all started last week when Lydon said he'd miss the Queen when she's gone. Then, in the space of a minute and a half on 'Good Morning Britain' on Monday, he apparently came out in favour of Brexit, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump - who he described as "a possible friend". I still think the most overlooked problem with all of this is that John Lydon was on 'Good Morning Britain' at all, but that's seemingly not what's got everyone else riled.
He started by describing a recent encounter with Farage as "fantastic", saying: "After that up the River Thames argument he had with Bob Geldof, I wanted to shake his hand. Cos it was silly beyond belief".
Indeed it was, but while it was hard to side with Geldof on that one, Farage didn't exactly come out of it looking like the bigger man either. As a result, I thought we'd all agreed that no hands were to be shaken after that particular incident.
"And where do I stand on Brexit?" continued Lydon without stopping for breath, apparently now interviewing himself. "Well, here it goes: the working class have spoke, and I'm one of them and I'm with them".
At this point presenter Susanna Reid, while not questioning Lydon's current status with the working class, pointed out that, as Lydon these days is a US citizen, he has other things to worry about.
"The Donald", nodded the musician. "Well, there's a complicated fella. As one journalist once said to me, is he the political Sex Pistol?"
No, he's not. But that didn't stop Lydon's other interviewer, Piers Morgan, from claiming that Trump is an "absolutely archetypal anti-establishment character". Again, no. I know I'm not the first person to point this out, but true anti-establishment figures tend not to be billionaire businessmen who like to play golf at the weekend. You could argue that Trump is anti-establishment if you wanted, but archetypal less so.
Anyway, old Trumpy's having a tough time of it at the moment, and Lydon reckons we should lay off him a bit. "What I dislike is the left wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist and that's completely not true", he said. "There's many, many problems with him as a human being but he's not that, and there just might be a chance that something good'll come out of that situation because he terrifies politicians and this is joy to behold to me".
Of course Trump doesn't just terrify politicians, he also terrifies lots of other people too. Not least those people he's been a bit, well, look, I know John said otherwise, but you could say, I mean, you could, it is possible, if you look at the evidence, you might conclude, just looking at all the evidence, but those people he's been a bit racist towards.
Whatever, you just took all of that out of context anyway. And what Lydon meant to say was that - now the Trump is President - we should just let him get on with doing whatever it is he wants to do. Oh, and that he's not racist.
"America now has a new President and whether you like him or not you have to support him or you will destroy the country", said Lydon on Virgin Radio the next day. "You've got to make things work".
You'd think John Lydon would have a better understanding of how democracy works, but perhaps the driving force behind punk was actually a desire to let Margaret Thatcher get on with what she was doing. Given that she came to power during that period and remained there long afterwards, maybe it was.
Anyway, what we should be doing is supporting Trump and stop calling him a racist, it seems. "The attitudes that are being pulled on him are stupid and wrong", Lydon said, returning to the racism theme. "He's got some serious money issues and business concerns that deeply fascinate all of us but to be smearing him as a racist, this isn't right, there's no evidence or proof to that and until there is, I'll stand up and say that I think that's wrong".
He added: "There's a terrible attitude in left-wing politics - they just feel they have the pomposity and right to just throw these accusations out without any evidence - well don't because my world requires facts".
Well sure, it may be hard to prove unequivocally what Donald Trump thinks inside his own head, but there is quite a lot of evidence that you might find a few racist thoughts in there, or - at least - a willingness to exploit other people's racism. Like, you know, repeatedly accusing the former president of not being American and demanding to see his birth certificate just because he's black. Or saying that a large proportion of Mexican immigrants to the US are criminals and rapists. Or, I don't know, attempting to ban Muslims from entering the country.
It's a sensitive subject for Lydon though, because he too has been accused of racism. "In my past I've had that accusation thrown at me willy nilly and it's a damn hard one to have to listen to and endure - make sure it's right", Lydon added. "For the next week and a half the rag-and-bone trade that we call the media is going to be calling me a racist, that's the tomfoolery of it all. That's going to be damn upsetting all over again to my grandkids, isn't it?"
With apologies to John Lydon's grandchildren, I'll now have to bring up what prompted that accusation of racism again. Back in 2008, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke said that he had been assaulted by Lydon's entourage and told "your problem is your black attitude" at a festival in Spain. This was prompted - according to Okereke - by him asking Lydon if Public Image Ltd would ever get back together. Which they did, the following year, as it happens.
Lydon responded by saying that he felt "very sorry for a man who needs to lie about what was a perfect evening", suggesting that Okereke had made the whole thing up because he was jealous that Lydon was talking to some Spanish bands.
Of course the allegations in that incident were actually against Lydon's entourage, rather than the man himself. Though maybe that's an accusation of racism by association. Because he didn't distance himself from anything that entourage may have said. You know, a bit like when Donald Trump refused to denounce an endorsement from the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Anyway, all this talk of John Lydon makes me want to go and put some butter on some crusty bread. God save the queen.