|TUESDAY 4 APRIL 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify has a new deal with Universal Music pretty much in its bright green bag, according to sources speaking to the New York Post. As previously reported, Spotify has been negotiating hard for some time with all three majors to try to get new multi-year deals signed before the streaming firm goes to IPO... [READ MORE]|
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Spotify's new Universal deal basically agreed, sources say
As previously reported, Spotify has been negotiating hard for some time with all three majors to try to get new multi-year deals signed before the streaming firm goes to IPO.
Spotify, which has seen its overall revenue share commitments to the music industry increase in recent years because of efforts by the music publishers to boost their share, was keen to negotiate the record companies down a few percent.
The majors, who will likely have a less strong negotiating hand post Spotify's IPO, have been busy pushing for other kickbacks in return. That might include the option to window major releases off Spotify's free service. It's also thought that Spotify might have to reach certain growth targets to benefit from the better revenue share rate.
The Post's sources reckon that a deal has now been pretty much agreed between Spotify and Universal, the biggest of all the record companies. The gossipers say that the new arrangement now just needs a final sign off from the CEOs at the streaming firm and the music rights business.
Talks with Sony Music are ongoing, the Post's sources add.
Court says Italian web-blocking is just fine
As previously reported, web-blocking - where internet service providers are forced to block their customers from accessing certain copyright infringing websites - is a popular anti-piracy tactic within the music and movie industries in any country where such blockades have been made available. Some countries have introduced new copyright laws to enable web-blocking, while in other places - like the UK - the courts decided that existing rules allowed injunctions to be issued that order web blockades on copyright grounds.
Though in most countries where web-blocking is available a court is involved in issuing the web-block order against an ISP, meaning that either the internet provider or the targeted website could formally oppose the blockade in front of a judge; though they rarely do. However, in Italy communications regulator AGCOM was given the power to issue the web-block injunctions, which in theory makes the process simpler for the rights owner.
Since AGCOM got that power in 2014 there have been vocal opponents to the Italian web-blocking process, and in particular the lack of judicial oversight involved. Various consumer rights and other organisations argued that the process was unconstitutional and to that end set about trying to block the web-blocks through the courts.
However, an Italian court has now ruled that AGCOM's web-blocking powers are not in conflict with either the EU's E-Commerce Directive or Italian copyright law, or the Italian constitution. Which means rights owners can continue to request web-blocks from AGCOM, and the communications regulator can continue to issue web-blocking orders.
The boss of Italian record industry trade group FIMI, Enzo Mazza, has welcomed the ruling, telling Torrentfreak: "This is a big win for rightsholders. Our future goal is now to increase the enforcement of AGCOM to also cover new forms of piracy such as live streaming, stream ripping and similar issues".
Those who oppose AGCOM's web-blocking powers have already vowed to appeal the ruling, though Mazza says he is confident other courts will also back the anti-piracy process.
Court says FBI shouldn't get to review MegaUpload's Canadian data
As much previously reported, when often controversial file-transfer platform MegaUpload was shut down by the US authorities in 2012 on copyright grounds, servers rented by the now defunct company were seized at various sites and in various countries. And that included a number of servers at the Toronto base of the American company Equinix.
Although US investigators putting together the criminal case against MegaUpload and its former management team, including founder Kim Dotcom, have had plenty of time to swim around the ocean of data contained on servers MegaUpload rented within America, they are yet to get their hands on the machines sitting in Toronto.
They are keen to do so because, the FBI says, other evidence suggests those servers were "database/number crunching machines", rather than just a place to store the files of MegaUpload customers. That means those servers could contain extra useful evidence that the FBI could use in its case against Dotcom et al.
However, when Canada's Minister Of Justice ordered that the former MegaUpload machines be sent south to American investigators in 2013, lawyers for the ex-company argued that the servers contained a lot of irrelevant material that shouldn't just be handed over to the feds. With that in mind, the Canadian courts said that an independent expert should review the servers first and advise the judge on what data should be shared.
Who should do that reviewing though? The FBI proposed that it send a team of its experts who weren't actively involved in the MegaUpload case and have them decide what material was relevant and irrelevant. In 2015 the Canadian courts approved that proposal. However, unsurprisingly, MegaUpload appealed the decision, as did Equinix which was concerned about the precedent the ruling set.
On Friday, the Ontario Court Of Appeal sided with MegaUpload and Equinix, ruling it would be inappropriate to have the FBI advise the judge on what data from the MegaUpload servers should be shared with the FBI.
The appeals judge wrote: "In my view, it is offensive to the appearance of fairness, and specifically the appearance of judicial impartiality, to have an entity closely associated with one of the adversaries provide the judge with the necessary report [regarding the data]".
The appeals court conceded that having the FBI review the servers would be cheaper than appointing an independent agency, though the judges reckoned that - while cost is a consideration - the cost of other options would have to be "prohibitively excessive" for them to consider allowing a party involved in the case to perform the role of 'independent' expert'.
All of which means another option is now required to review the Canadian MegaUpload data before any of it can be sent down to the American authorities.
Distributor Zebralution is Warner's latest post-Parlophone divestment
As previously reported, in order to get regulator approval for its acquisition of the EMI record company in 2012, Universal Music had to sell off some key EMI units in Europe, including the Parlophone label. Much of those assets then went to Warner which - in a bid to stop the indies opposing its acquisition in the way they had Universal's EMI purchase - did a deal with the independent sector via its European trade group IMPALA and digital rights agency Merlin. Under that deal, Warner agreed to sell off some assets to the indies.
It took a few years for the off-loading to really begin - so much so, the whole EMI sell off now seems like a lifetime ago - but a few deals are now in the bag as Warner makes good on its commitment. Returning Zebralution - which Warner acquired ten years ago - back into independent ownership is arguably the most significant of those deals to date.
In addition to Zebralution founders Kurt Thielen and Sascha Lazimbat, City Slang's Christof Ellinghaus and Embassy Of Music's Konrad von Loehneysen are also involved in the buy-out of the music distribution business, which also added audio book and audio play distribution services while it was part of the Warner group.
Confirming the deal, Thielen said yesterday: "We thank the entire team at Warner Music not only for the fantastic support and the freedom that has allowed us to combine the best of both worlds - major and indie - during the last ten years, but also for the chance that this new phase represents for Zebralution. Our entire staff and the new shareholders are highly motivated to take off big time with Zebralution 3.0".
Meanwhile the boss of Warner Music Central Europe, Bernd Dopp, added: "We have had a fantastic ten years working with Zebralution, a company that has given us a special insight into the indie world. We're delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with Zebralution in the future and wish its management all the luck in the world as they take the company forward on the next stage of its journey".
1500 people fall for police fake ticket trick
Working with Action Fraud Get Safe Online and the Society Of Ticket Agents And Retailers, a series of flash sale ads purporting to be for a fake secondary ticketing site called Surfed Arts were run on Facebook. The ads offered tickets to see sold out shows by Adele in London, Ed Sheeran in Manchester, Iron Maiden in Birmingham, Coldplay in Cardiff and Bruno Mars in Leeds, targeting fans of each artist in the relevant city.
Upon clicking the link, those who fell for the scam instead were shown a page advising them on how to avoid being tricked in future. Most likely to click the link were apparently women aged over 65 in London. Although, actually, crime stats show that it's men in their 20s who are most likely to hand money over to fraudsters in exchange for non-existent tickets.
STAR chief exec Jonathan Brown commented: "These figures demonstrate that ticket fraud is a continuing problem and that, too often, people are misled by fake promises. Fraudsters prey on the anticipation and excitement that surround our fantastic sports and entertainment industries. It is vital that customers take care when buying tickets. Protect yourself by following safe ticket-buying advice and by taking time to research the authorised sellers for an event before parting with any money. STAR and its members are committed to providing customers with high standards of service and information and to playing our part in helping you avoid the fraudsters".
Tout accused of buying tickets in parents' names to bypass purchase limit
The newspaper says that Andrew Newman uses various iterations of his own name, plus those of staff members, his brother and his parents, in order to buy up tickets to sell on the secondary market at inflated prices. Newman was one of the touts named in the government's Waterson Report on the secondary market as potentially abusing the system. He was also confronted by Bay City Rollers bassist Alan Longmuir last year, who accused him of being "a parasite".
An unnamed source from an unnamed venue told The Record: "We see the same names again and again. Newman's name pops up with and without a middle initial and his mother and father appear to make masses of purchases along with his brother. For some shows, they scooped hundreds of tickets, which is a disgrace on Ticketmaster's part, as they should be cancelling such glaring breaches of their terms and conditions".
"Newman's staff also pop up, like David Brown and Grant Urie, siphoning off six tickets here and four there, again and again", they continued. "It's blatant. Within hours, the same tickets would be advertised on secondary sites at inflated rates. They are basically shutting down the opportunity for fans who can only afford to pay, say £50 per ticket. What we are seeing is either Newman exploiting his family and friends or they are in on the act".
Of course, it's no secret that many touts utilise multiples names and credit cards to access large quantities of tickets as they go on sale, something the Record's source confirmed. That approach is often combined with using soon-to-be-outlawed software, or 'bots', that allows touts to buy up tickets faster than actual fans.
None of those named in the article have commented on the accusations.
BBC Music announces new Great Escape partnership
The BBC will also present a number of in-conversation events as part of the TGE Convention programme, alongside the CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conferences. BBC Music will be among the industry partners presenting sessions for delegates in the Old Courtroom, with Mary-Anne Hobbs in conversation with Kojey Radical; Tom Robinson chatting with John Grant; and Huw Stephens speaking to a special guest TBC. For the first time, these particular convention sessions will also be open to festival wristband holders.
Confirming the new partnership, BBC Music Editor James Stirling says: "BBC Music is dedicated to discovering and nurturing new British artists and The Great Escape is one of the best festivals to do this on the UK music scene. I'm very happy to be bringing TGE to life for our audiences across Radio 1, Radio 3, 6 Music, BBC Music Introducing and our digital platforms".
Meanwhile TGE Event Manager Kevin Moore adds: "The announcement of this extended BBC Music partnership is great news for TGE - together we share a commitment to discover and nurture new music and we can't wait to share our ideas and see this collaboration grow. As we approach our twelfth year it's important that we work with broadcast partners who share our vision and BBC Music do just that - which makes them a perfect partner for the festival".
Industry delegates also get access to the CMU@TGE conferences at Dukes@Komedia, of course, which this year include The Media Conference, The Drugs Conference, The Export Conference and The Royalties Conferences. Look out for a bunch of updates on whose speaking at the latter in tomorrow's CMU Daily. The Great Escape takes place from 18-20 May in Brighton and you can get your delegate passes here.
Mount Kimbie release new James Blake collaboration
Right, now you've stopped talking utter nonsense, can I get on and tell you about this thing? Mount Kimbie have released a new single called 'We Go Home Together', which features James Blake. "It's a pleasure to work with old friend and one time bandmate James Blake again", says Mount Kimbie's Kai Campos. So that's nice.
Later this week Mount Kimbie will also start a series of shows on NTS Radio - the first airing on 5 Apr at 10pm.
RIAA, Björk, Sufjan Stevens, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• The boss of the Recording Industry Association Of America, Cary Sherman, will step down at the end of 2018 it's been announced. He will be succeeded by the trade group's public policy guy Mitch Glazier, who has been promoted to the role of President in the meantime.
• The digital rights licensing body for independent music publishers, IMPEL, has announced the results of its 2017 board elections, with the following now on said board: John Minch (Imagem), Simon Platz (Bucks), Nigel Elderton (Peermusic), Chris Butler (Music Sales), John Truelove (Truelove Music), Mike Box (Reservoir/Reverb), Roberto Neri (Downtown) and Peter Thomas (Carlin).
• Live music giant AEG has teamed up with Brooklyn Sports And Entertainment to buy New York venue Webster Hall. The Bowery Presents, into which AEG bought earlier this year, will continue as main booker for the venue.
• Björk has released the VR video for 'Notget' from her 'Vulnicura' album.
• Sufjan Stevens is releasing a live album from his 'Carrie & Lowell' tour on 28 Apr. Here's a video of the title track.
• Vérité has released new single, 'When You're Gone'. Her debut album, 'Somewhere In Between', is set for release on 23 Jun.
• Alxxa has released a new track, 'Pistol'.
• James Arthur, who we've apparently all decided is OK now, is going on an arena tour in November.
• Loyle Carner has announced UK and Ireland tour dates for September and October this year, including a Brixton Academy show on 6 Oct.
Kids think Google is just the coolest
For the report, titled 'It's Lit: A Guide To What Teens Think Is Cool', over 1000 thirteen to seventeen year olds in the US were asked about their awareness of certain brands and how cool they deemed them to be. YouTube came in at number one, as the very coolest brand out there right now, which will no doubt please everyone in the music industry. Netflix is number two, followed closely by Google itself. A similar group of eighteen to 24 year olds asked also agree with this top three.
Google's Chrome web browser is the tenth coolest brand, according to the teenagers. They like Chrome more than Snapchat. More than Instagram. More than Facebook. More than Coca-Cola. More than Disney. Certainly more than Yahoo. And it's very much cooler than Vice, which is only slightly less uncool than the least cool brand, The Wall Street Journal.
One super cool seventeen year old told the researchers: "Google is really cool because it is an innovator. A trend setter. Google is not only a powerful search engine, but great at everything it does, from email to documents. Google products are easy to use and work well. As a company, Google also stands for education and creativity, shown by the science fairs and doodles contests they host".
A percentage - a small one, but still a percentage - of the children asked about these brands replied that they weren't even aware of Google, which is possibly my favourite thing about all of this.
How does music fit into this though? Well, music isn't a brand, so didn't come into the main coolness chart. Although Spotify made it into the top half of the coolness list (just). As did Bose and Beats By Dre, these apparently being the only three music-related brands anyone could think of.
A smaller group of kids - 400 of them - were asked what things, rather than brands, they thought were cool. Girls were significantly more likely to say that music was the coolest, with a whopping 13% saying that they like those funky sounds, while just 6% of boys reckoned music was the best thing. In fact, far more boys rated 'other' as cooler than music. Music was the girls' second favourite though (behind ''clothes, fashion and beauty'), so that's nice. For boys it was joint seventh.
However, musicians do dominate the list of coolest celebrities, with three of the top five being music makers - Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez and Chance The Rapper. The research also found that most teenagers would rather listen to music than make it themselves, which is presented as some kind of revelation, rather than how it has always been.
The acts most likely to make it onto a teen's playlist are apparently: Twenty One Pilots, Drake, The Beatles, Panic At The Disco, Fall Out Boy, Beyonce and Coldplay.
In conclusion: Children are idiots.