WEDNESDAY 12 JULY 2017 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: More safe harbours? Yes, more safe harbours! What of it? Two committees in the European Parliament yesterday voted on their respective responses to the draft European Copyright Directive, including the article dealing with safe harbour and the value gap. And the music industry has generally welcomed those responses... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Producer Benjamin Gregory began releasing singles under the name Grip Tight last year, with his debut EP 'Never Enough' resulting in two single releases, the title track and 'Love's Gone'. A year on, he's back with new single 'Get To Know'. The beauty of Gregory's recordings is their simplicity. [READ MORE]
 
LATEST CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including Kanye West falling out with Tidal just as Jay-Z releases his new album, AEG's very public spat with MSG and Live Nation, and Ed Sheeran quitting Twitter while planning an 8 Mile-style biopic. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
 
LATEST CMU TRENDS: Rarely a week goes by in the music business news these days without at least one catalogue acquisition. But who - other than labels and publishers - is buying music rights, and why? Are there opportunities for individual artists and songwriters to do deals with professional investors? And how do you even value music rights? Ahead of a Music 4.5 event exploring all these topics, CMU Trends reviews the music rights market - past, present and future. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Music industry welcomes EU committee votes on safe harbour reform
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LEGAL Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson estate arrive in court in royalties dispute
Yandex turns off track-sharing tool on its music platform, for now
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Spotify's new Sony deal basically done
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LIVE BUSINESS STAR launches best practice guide for accessible ticketing
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Psy's Gangnam Style loses position as YouTube's most played video
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RELEASES Robbie Williams announces second Under The Radar compilation
Blue's Simon Webbe announces new solo album
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ONE LINERS Dr Dre, P Money, Future Islands, more
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AND FINALLY... Mansfield radio station pleas for wanking intrusions to stop
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ICE SERVICES - SERVICE DEVELOPMENT MANAGER (LONDON)
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ONCE UPON A TIME MUSIC - PRODUCTION PLANNER (LONDON)
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Music industry welcomes EU committee votes on safe harbour reform
More safe harbours? Yes, more safe harbours! What of it? Two committees in the European Parliament yesterday voted on their respective responses to the draft European Copyright Directive, including the article dealing with safe harbour and the value gap. And the music industry has generally welcomed those responses.

Wanna recap? OK, recap in one sentence: Music industry says YouTube exploits loophole in copyright law enabled by 'safe harbour' to pay lower royalties to rights owners creating a 'value gap'; wants law rewritten so YouTube is no longer covered by safe harbour. Totally didn't cheat with the semi-colon.

Article thirteen of the European Copyright Directive could provide such a rewrite in Europe, though the current draft arguably provides enough wiggle room for safe harbour dwelling platforms like YouTube to try to circumvent any new liabilities. The directive is currently going through the motions in Brussels and both the music industry and the tech sector have been busy trying to get article thirteen redrafted to their advantage.

A bunch of committees in the European Parliament have been considering the European Commission's original draft directive, with the consumer rights committee having already responded, the culture and industry committees voting yesterday, and the all important legal committee - which is leading on this - set to do the final round of responding after the summer break. After that, Parliament will start voting and the Council Of The EU - representing each member state government in the union - will also scrutinise and amend what's been proposed.

With regard to safe harbour, both the culture and industry committees, in their responses yesterday, resisted calls to abandon or weaken article thirteen, instead seeking to reinforce and further clarify the draft article and the new obligations of safe harbour dwelling services of the YouTube variety.

They also responded to a proposal previously put forward by the aforementioned consumer rights committee that would provide an exception for user-generated content. Which would create a massive new get-out for platforms like YouTube. UK Music's Michael Dugher recently said of that particular proposal: "This could have a profound impact on the creative community with rights holders having to initiate expensive legal proceedings to establish the actual boundaries of such an exception".

In relation to that proposal, yesterday's committees voted in one case against the idea entirely, and in the other to leave such matters to national law within the EU, rejecting the idea that European law-makers should make such an exception compulsory for member states.

Among those welcoming the conclusions of the culture and industry committees on safe harbour reform was Helen Smith from indie-label repping IMPALA who said: "It makes complete sense to narrow the value gap and the parliament has sent a strong message this morning. That's very good news - recalibrating the digital market in this way is necessary to stop creators, start-ups and citizens being dominated by abusive practices of big platforms who don't pay fair or play fair".

On the UGC exception she added: "An exception would send the digital market back ten years by unpicking licensing and creating new complexities in terms of administration and levies. To close the value gap then widen it again with an exception doesn't make sense and this has been rejected before by both the Commission and member states".

On the music publishing side, Gadi Oron - the boss of CISAC, representing performing rights organisations from across the world - said: "It is good news to see policy makers in Europe standing up for creativity and culture and voting to close vital loopholes that are harming millions of creators. These two committees have understood the opportunity for Europe to take the lead in making sure creators in the digital market are properly respected and fairly remunerated. We now look for this positive signal to be confirmed in the plenary vote of the European Parliament later this year".

And finally GESAC, which specifically represents the song right PROs in Europe, said that both committees "sent a clear signal today that they would not tolerate free-riding platforms, and that the solution proposed by the European Commission in September last year was an encouraging first step that needed further clarification. GESAC welcomes this support and is confident that this signal will be taken on board and further developed by the [legal] committee, as its report goes to vote in October".

It added: "The adopted texts in the [culture and industry committees] would finally make it possible for authors to negotiate fair remuneration with user-uploaded content platforms, due to an unapologetic closing of the current loophole that has allowed so much value to be funnelled from authors to tech giants. GESAC warmly welcomes this development".

The Copyright Directive is not all about safe harbour though - not even from a music perspective. There is, of course, another article seeking to provide songwriters and artists with more transparency over how their songs and recordings are being exploited in the digital domain. And another that would provide a framework via which artists could seek to amend unfair contracts, mainly where their work proved to be much more profitable than expected at the time they entered into a deal.

Meanwhile, some musicians have also been pushing for a new rule that states that 'performer equitable remuneration' is due on streaming income. Performer ER is the money paid directly to recording artists - including session musicians - whenever recorded music is broadcast or played in public.

Record companies argue that Performer ER doesn't apply to streams, meaning artists get paid via their label or distributor subject to contract, rather than via their collecting society at industry-standard rates. Performer ER on streams was not included in the draft directive, but some in the artist community hoped that it could still be added as the proposals work their way through the motions.

On the songwriting side, there has also been talk of possibly introducing some sort of reversion right for writers who have assigned their copyrights to a music publisher for a substantial period of time, and maybe even life of copyright. Which is something already provided by American copyright law, of course.

For most artist and songwriter groups, safe harbour tweaking is part of a bigger package of necessary copyright reform, sitting alongside transparency and contract adjustment, and possibly ER on streams and reversion rights. For the record labels and music publishers - and the collecting societies in which labels and publishers participate - it's all been about safe harbour.

IMPALA boss Smith also commented on some of the other proposals doing the rounds in Brussels that could affect music rights in Europe, noting that in the indie label domain the Worldwide Independent Network's Fair Deals Declaration is already trying to tackle some of the issues. She said that: "Instruments like new unwaivable rights or reversion mechanisms would be like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut and would create more friction in licensing. [And] our own initiatives like the WIN Declaration address the key issues voluntarily".

Meanwhile Smith welcomed recommendations made by the culture committee with regard to the contract adjustment mechanism, which would likely limit the reach of the new measure so that in music it would only really apply to session musicians who work at mates' rates on an unexpected hit - ie because those session musicians are not cut into future revenue generated by their work, they might be able to go back and negotiate a bigger fee in hindsight. This is basically what the German law the contract adjustment mechanism is based on was set up to do, though with the film industry mainly in mind.

IMPALA said that it "welcomed limitations to the contract adjustment mechanism introduced by the culture committee", and that "with some more modifications this article could achieve its original purpose of a 'best-seller clause'". Smith herself said: "It is important that we maintain the solidarity model which exists in the music sector and which enables successful releases to support risk-taking and unsuccessful artists".

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Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson estate arrive in court in royalties dispute
One potential juror declared that it was a "tragedy" that Quincy Jones was now embroiled in a legal battle with the Michael Jackson estate over royalties. Of the one time premiere league pop collaborators, she added: "Both of these men are musical geniuses". Which is how you get yourself out of jury duty.

The legal battle between legendary producer Jones and the Michael Jackson company MJJ Productions, which is a defendant alongside long time ally Sony Music, has finally reached court. And a legal rep for the producer confirmed that his client reckons he is owed $30 million in unpaid royalties in relation to his work on some of Jackson's biggest hits.

As previously reported, Jones sued MJJ and Sony back in 2013 in relation to various Jackson-orientated projects and deals that followed the late king of pop's death in 2009, and which utilised music from albums produced by Jones. Those projects included the 'This Is It' film, two Cirque du Soleil productions and some album re-releases.

Jones' lawsuit alleges that those projects breached agreements dating from 1978 and 1985 that gave him the first option to remix or remaster the records he produced. It also accused Sony and MJJ of constructing complicated deals around some of those ventures that meant more money went to the Jackson estate to the detriment of Jones.

MJJ tried to have the case dismissed twice but without success. Earlier this year, considering the second of those applications for dismissal, judge Michael L Stern concluded that there remained a number of outstanding issues that required more rigorous analysis of the available evidence, which in turn would require some proper court time.

Hence the trial that got underway yesterday. According to The Hollywood Reporter, with a jury selected it was Jones' attorney Mike McKool who kicked things off, with a brief history of the producer's music career, and then an overview of those old agreements that are at the heart of the case. He told the court that the problem began after Jackson's untimely death in 2009. "The death of a superstar artist creates huge interest in his music", he noted, and that - he argued - delivered a pay day for MJJ and Sony, but not Jones, who should also have been a beneficiary of the post-2009 arrangements.

Speaking for MJJ, lawyer Zia Modabber conceded that an audit had indeed confirmed that Jones had been underpaid the royalties he is due from his old producer contracts, but he said that the unpaid monies are a fraction of what is now being claiming.

Modabber then quibbled over a number of the terms in Jones's contracts, arguing that the producer's side were misrepresenting his client's commitments, and that actually Jackson - and more recently his estate - had shared some income streams with Jones that weren't even covered by his deals.

Noting that the case primarily swung on how certain old contract terms were now interpreted, he then pointed out that the actual deal maker on his side of the dispute is no longer with us. "Sadly, and unfortunately for us, you will only be getting Mr Jones' version", the lawyer said. "Mr Jones is asking for millions he didn't earn and isn't entitled to. He just wants it and hopes you'll give it to him".

The court case should last about three weeks.

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Yandex turns off track-sharing tool on its music platform, for now
Russian web giant Yandex has disabled a track sharing function on its music platform, though it says that's because it's still developing the service, not because of any copyright infringement claims.

The music industry hopes that Yandex and vKontakte - often respectively dubbed as the Google and Facebook of Russia - can help build a legitimate streaming market in the country. Though, as with the western search and social giants, record companies and music publishers have something of a love/hate relationship with these key business partners. The labels' various legal battles with vKontakte have been widely documented of course, though we are currently in a period of détente.

The industry has high hopes for the Yandex music service, though some have expressed concern about a new function it added recently where users can upload tracks into the system and share them with friends. While artists could use this service to upload and share their own music via the platform, labels and publishers feared this new tool would result in a load of unlicensed music being shared, with rights owners going unpaid.

However, the sharing element of the upload service was recently disabled. Users can still upload tracks for private use but not share them - meaning Yandex is now offering fans a bit of cloud storage for their MP3 collections, rather than creating a new social network for the distribution of unlicensed music.

But this doesn't mean that the music industry should assume its concerns have been heard by the web giant. A spokesperson for Yandex has told Billboard that the track upload product is still being developed and that the sharing option will return. Though they added that rights owners should shut up moaning about it, because they'll still receive royalties Content ID style. Providing they have a licensing deal with Yandex.

Said the Yandex spokesperson of the company's track upload tool: "The option for sharing uploaded music is working in a test mode. We introduced it for some users at the time of the launch and now we've disabled it as we're planning to improve the interface. The temporary disabling of the option is not linked to rights holders' complaint, this is one of the stages of working on the product".

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Spotify's new Sony deal basically done
Sony Music has seemingly agreed a new licensing deal with Spotify. We are still awaiting formal confirmation of that, but sources tell Billboard that all the terms have been approved and we are just waiting for some paper to be inked and the customary press release to be written.

The new Sony deal - which follows Spotify's recent new licensing agreements with Universal Music and indie label-repping Merlin - will provide the streaming service with access to the major's recordings catalogue for the next few years.

By which time Spotify's sneaky playlist manipulation will presumably mean we're all exclusively listening to 'fake' music coming out of a single studio in Stockholm, and the digital firm will then tell the majors and all those pesky popstars to go fuck themselves. Or maybe not. Probably not. Definitely not.

Specific terms of the new Sony deal are not known, of course, though it is assumed the major - in line with its rivals - will have agreed to a slight reduction in its revenue share split in return for increased data and marketing tools and the option to window major releases off Spotify's free level for a fortnight, like all those top Universal and indie label artists are now not doing.

Spotify bosses have been negotiating hard for some time now to renew the firm's deals with key rights owners so that it has multi-year arrangements in place before opening itself up to the glare of Wall Street through a stock exchange listing.

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STAR launches best practice guide for accessible ticketing
The Society Of Ticketing Agents And Retailers - aka STAR - has published a new guide on providing accessible ticketing for deaf and disabled customers. Written by the Nimbus Disability Consultancy with contributions from the Attitude Is Everything access charity, it aims to set in place best practices and improve booking systems for accessible tickets.

"This guide's purpose is simple", says STAR boss Jonathan Brown. "There needs to be equal access to online ticketing and organisations need to be considering how they do it, not whether they do it. STAR has recently run a number of workshops to help increase awareness of this issue. We know that improvements are being made and there are certainly ticket agents and venues that are currently working towards implementing online booking facilities for disabled people. We look forward to hearing more on these developments later in the year, but there is still much work to be done".

A report published by Attitude Is Everything last year found that deaf and disabled music fans were being put off attending live shows because of poor systems for booking accessible tickets - adding that the live industry was missing out on up to £66 million a year by not properly serving these customers. Later in 2016, it found that sales of accessible tickets were increasing among festivals and venues that had signed up to the charity's own Charter Of Best Practice.

Read and download 'Making Ticket Sales Accessible For Disabled Customers - A Best Practice Guides' here.

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Psy's Gangnam Style loses position as YouTube's most played video
After five years at the top, Psy's 'Gangnam Style' is no longer YouTube's most watched video. And it was only 100 million plays away from reaching the three billion milestone too. Bad luck, Psy.

But the good news for anyone wanting to point out the importance of music to YouTube - say you had a beef about safe harbours, or something - is that it's the video for Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's 'See You Again' single that now holds the most viewed record .

The 2015 single was written for the soundtrack of the seventh film in the 'Fast & Furious' series as a tribute to actor Paul Walker, who died during the making of the movie. It has since become a highly requested song to be played at funerals and over on the YouTube platform is still pulling in over a million views per day. That means it's set to hit that three billion milestone this autumn.

"I joined YouTube in 2007 hoping to make a video that would reach 10,000 views", said Puth on Twitter. "Just heard about 'See You Again'... wow".

A number of other songs are gaining on the second place slot now held by 'Gangnam Style', though closest competitor - Justin Bieber's 'Sorry' - is still more than 200 million plays away from reaching it.

Maybe this isn't the end of 'Gangnam Style' though. Maybe it could have a resurgence. Maybe we could all relive that heady summer when the only worry anyone had was whether or not they could pull off the horsey dance. Those days seem so innocent now. Let's start the campaign here.

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Approved: Grip Tight
Producer Benjamin Gregory began releasing singles under the name Grip Tight last year, with his debut EP 'Never Enough' resulting in two single releases, the title track and 'Love's Gone'. A year on, he's back with new single 'Get To Know'.

The beauty of Gregory's recordings is their simplicity. Created largely using old drum machines and manipulated vocal samples applied to pop song structures, there's a sparseness to the tracks that matches the emotional vulnerability in their lyrics.

'Get To Know' features a guest appearance from KBY - aka Katy Young from Peggy Sue and Deep Throat Choir. Listen to the song here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

Robbie Williams announces second Under The Radar compilation
Robbie Williams has announced that he will release a second compilation of demos and other unreleased material, 'Under The Radar Vol 2', next month.

The first edition of the series was released way back in 2014, when Williams was between labels. Like that record, this new one will be available exclusively through his website in various versions - including a personalised CD that'll set you back £50. Also like the first edition, the artwork features Robbie's arse. Up a tree this time.

Announcing the record yesterday, Williams said: "I was so happy with the response from 'Under The Radar Vol 1' so I'm delighted to continue the series. I'm so proud of these songs and I can't wait to share them with you".

Here's the full announcement in glorious video form.

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Blue's Simon Webbe announces new solo album
Simon Webbe of Blue - who are apparently on hiatus - has announced that he is releasing the final part of a trilogy of albums, 'Smile', on 25 Aug. He's taken his bloody time about it too - his last solo record came out in 2006.

"To be honest I didn't realise that much time had passed because I've still been going out there and doing a lot of gigs abroad", he said, slightly weirdly. "Because I've had so much time out of the game, I've got so much more to say now. I needed to evolve as an artist and I needed to close a chapter, and that's what I've done with this album".

Describing the new record's genre as 'urban folk', he adds: "The album is called 'Smile' because not a lot of people are smiling these days. Everybody's too busy using their phones to connect, nobody's really connecting anymore. For me, I just wanted to put a title out there that was self-explanatory and will hit home".

Setting out his goal for the album, he said: "If I can change one person's life with this album then I've done my job".

The first single from the new record will be 'Nothing Without You', a song with which he proposed to his girlfriend earlier this year. Presumably that changed her life, so I guess he's already achieved his aim.

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Dr Dre, P Money, Future Islands, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Dr Dre's made a new track, 'Gunfire', for that new HBO documentary 'The Defiant Ones'. Apparently there are no plans to give it a proper release though, so there.

• P Money's released a good old fashioned diss track, giving Dot Rotten a good telling off on 'Real Talk' from new EP 'Snake'.

• Nerina Pallot will release her sixth album, 'Stay Lucky', on 13 Oct. She's also released the title track, of which she says: "I wrote 'Stay Lucky' after spotting a sticker of the same name on a dustbin in Covent Garden one day".

• Another new Daphni track? Flipping heck. Here's 'Hey Drum'.

• Nathan Fake has released new track 'Bosky', taken from upcoming EP 'Providence Reworks: Part I', which is released on 11 Aug.

• Future Islands have announced a new load of UK dates in November, including a second night at Brixton Academy on 21 Nov to accompany the sold out night that will kick off the tour.

• Lucy Rose will be heading out on tour in November, playing songs from her new album 'Something's Changing'. Here's a documentary about her first tour of Latin America last year.

• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Mansfield radio station pleas for wanking intrusions to stop
Analogue hacking news! OfCom is on the hunt for a radio pirate who keeps overriding the signal of local radio station Mansfield 103.2 and playing masturbation anthem 'The Winker's Song (Misprint)' by Ivor Biggun.

The media regulator is apparently taking "extremely seriously" reports that Mansfield 103.2's programming has been hijacked twelve times in the last three months - most recently at the weekend - meaning listeners to the station have now heard the song's much repeated line of "I'm a wanker" almost 500 times.

However, unless OfCom officials can catch the person doing it in the act (hijacking the airwaves, not wanking - I suppose it could be both though), there is seemingly little that can be done beyond just hoping that they'll eventually stop.

"You only need a small transmitter, and if you can get near where there's an outside broadcast or a signal and you can overpower that signal, you're on the airwaves", explained the station's Managing Director Tony Delahunty on Radio 4's 'Today' programme. However, he noted, misusing a transmitter in such a way can carry a two year prison sentence or a fine.

"Ours have been strictly, I suppose if you wanted to have a very broad mind, humorous", he conceded of the intrusions. However, he was concerned that there could be a more sinister side. "This one's a clown, but what it does is, it exposes a situation that is available for perhaps worse than clowns, who knows, a terrorist, that type of person, some idiot who wants to put emergency messages on".

He added that he was speaking publicly about the situation in the hope that it would scare the culprit into stopping: "You can hope he goes away, [that] he's frightened by [me] going on programmes like 'Today' today, which is what I hope. That he'll become frightened away, he'll become a sleeper cell. But then we can't catch him, because he needs to be in the act for us to be able to catch him. So if it's going out on our airwaves now, we have to leave the song or the message or whatever it is - offensive though it might be - going out so that they can catch him. It's a bit worrying".

Despite Delahunty's fears that radio stations could inadvertently become mouthpieces of terrorists, OfCom has said that hijacks such as this are very rare. Because, it says, carrying out such a prank actually requires a pretty powerful radio transmitter (however small) and some specialist knowledge.

By the way, fun fact of the day, 'The Winker's Song' was an early hit for the Beggars Banquet record label in 1978, meaning that it is basically responsible for the success of Adele today.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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