Overnight news from around the world: Wednesday, July 13

Overnight news from around the world: Wednesday, July 13

Spotify rolls out more artist-led original content

Spotify is launching two new artist-led audio series, with one focusing on songwriters – the artists often believed to be ignored on the streaming platform, with its lack of visible digital sleevenotes. AM/PM is an on-demand audio show where guests tell the stories behind the music that fires them up every morning and what they turn to when the clocks are off in the evening. The show follows a day in an artist’s life, with two 12-song playlists. The likes of Tinie Tempah, Wolf Alice, Jean Michel Jarre and Terry Hall have recorded episodes, with Kaiser Chiefs, De La Soul, The Kills, Lianne La Havas, The Maccabees and Hot Chip also due to appear. Secret Genius, meanwhile, delves into great songwriters. The on-demand audio show features interviews with both acclaimed and up-and-coming songwriter, launching with Nick Van Eede (Cutting Crew’s I Just Died In Your Arms), James Blake and Ed Drewett (One Direction, Olly Murs). Future episodes focus on Nicky Chinn (one half of early ‘70s hit factory ChinniChap) and Ryan Tedder.

Diversity Summit: 'To make a breakthrough you have to look harder - the talent is there'

A cross section of industry executives turned out for the first ever UK Music Diversity Summit yesterday (July 12) to discuss the issues surrounding workplace diversity. The first speaker to take the stage was Tamara Witt, who revealed some of the key findings from her Diversity Management in the UK Music Industry dissertation, published by MusicTank. Having conducted an extensive study of workplace diversity across the UK industry, Witt found there to be “a significant lack of diversity at the higher levels of the industry, leading to a lack of role models”. Witt also called upon major record labels to set the standard and “lead by example with the implementation of comprehensive diversity practices”. Following Witt’s session was a Q&A with former VP strategic partnerships, Sony Music, Mervyn Lyn, and broadcaster and columnist Jasmine Dotiwala. The pair recalled their various experiences working in the industry and offered their take on what needs to be done to address the current lack of diversity. Lyn lamented the current state of affairs: “It’s sad that we are even talking about a lack of diversity in the music industry in 2016.” Channel 4’s chief diversity officer Oona King followed, calling on industry leaders to start making real changes and investing in diversity implementation initiatives in order to make things happen. “The 10 most important industry leaders need to sign up and commit to diversity,” she said. “If you want change, it costs money at some point, whether it’s in changing recruitment policies or research. If you really want to make a breakthrough, you have to look harder – the talent IS out there.” King also pointed out that companies “with a more ethnically diverse workforce are 35% more likely to be profitable than non-ethnically diverse companies.” (Music Week)

US Department of Justice under fire from creators and indie companies

There is growing opposition to the decision from the US Department of Justice not to change the consent decrees. An international coalition of creators has expressed “bafflement and frustration” over the DOJ’s apparent decision to leave unchanged the 1941 ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. On July 5 and 7, experts from the DoJ held two, one-hour long phone conversations with representatives from creators, including Music Creators North America (MCNA), the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC), the International Council of Music Creators (CIAM) and the European Composers and Songwriters Alliance (ECSA). After the briefings, the coalition, which represents nearly a half a million music creators from around the world, was “left with far more questions than answers”. “The DOJ has refused to address the issue that these consent decrees are needlessly perpetuating the inability of songwriters and composers to earn a viable living, artificially driving performing rights royalty rates downward toward zero rather than upward toward fair market value,” said a spokesperson for the coalition. “Our economic viability is imperilled, which threatens to deeply harm the future progress of musical culture and the arts as encouraged under the US Constitution. Are these results really acceptable to DOJ?” In parallel, trade bodies AIMP (US independent publishers), A2IM (US independent labels) and CMPA (the Canadian music publishers' association) have issued a joint statement regarding the DoJ position on 100% licensing on behalf of the independent music publishing and record label community in North America. “We want to lend our unified voice to the recent press and discussion regarding the outrageous position the Department of Justice (DoJ) has taken with regard to the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees,” they write in a joint statement. “After spending a great deal of US taxpayer money the last few years reviewing the 75-year-old consent decrees, holding public testimony on the various ways in which the anachronistic consent decrees should be updated to address the challenges of a digital economy, and apparently ignoring hundreds of public comments officially submitted to them, the DoJ determined both that the consent decrees should not be amended and that ASCAP and BMI should be forced to issue 100% licenses. This position by the DoJ on 100% licensing is 100% wrong.” Meanwhile, ASCAP President Paul Williams Paul Williams sent out a note to ASCAP members in which he writes that he is "struggling to find the right words to express how disappointed I am by ASCAP’s recent meeting with the US Department of Justice regarding our consent decree.” Williams adds that ASCAP went to the DoJ "seeking their help to update the consent decrees. Instead of making the necessary modifications, we have been saddled with a disruptive proposal that ignores songwriters’ concerns for our future livelihoods in a streaming world, serves absolutely no public interest and creates confusion and instability for all of us who depend on the efficiencies of collective licensing.” 

Christine & The Queens: ‘I was crossing my fingers for some kind of niche audience’

Christine & The Queens frontperson Heloise Letissier spoke to Music Week about the rise of debut album Chaleur Humaine in the UK, after already going seven times platinum in her home territory of France after release in 2014. “Frankly, I was crossing my fingers for some kind of niche audience that could expect my second album with moderate excitement - so you can imagine how hard it is for me to process that is actually happening,” she said. “It's mostly thrilling, though - I get to perform in places I loved as a music geek, and for a moment, to be a part of a culture that inspired me in so many ways.” The singer described playing Glastonbury as a “milestone”, but added that she didn’t really know why the album had taken off in the UK, “because it's all about desire, at some point. As an artist, you can try your best to build a coherent project and stay honest throughout; but what happens next (how you're seen, how you're liked) is truly something that is out of your hands.” (Music Week

Three Six Zero signs MistaJam

International music management and entertainment company Three Six Zero has signed radio broadcaster, DJ, TV presenter and producer MistaJam. The company will represent him in all aspects of his career. Broadcasting for an impressive 15 hours a week for the BBC (Monday-Thursday 7-10 PM on 1Xtra and Saturday 7-10 PM on Radio 1 and 1Xtra simulcast), MistaJam is a force in helping to shape increasingly blurred musical and cultural landscapes. The end of 2015 saw MistaJam go international by hosting his new UK Connect radio show on Sirius XM’s Globalization Channel 4. MistaJam’s reputation as an influencers has also seen him work with major brands including Sonos, Adidas, The Tate Modern and Jaguar and TV presenting roles including the live broadcast of the Red Bull Culture Clashes and Channel 4’s Future Sounds. 

Lee Morrison to head up Brighton’s Seaside Music Group

Former Believe digital general manager Lee Morrison has been named managing director of new Brighton music project, Seaside Music Group. The project is emerging from its already-established recording studio, while a new studio, designed by the renowned acoustic designer John Flynn, is being purpose-built within an old Salvation Army headquarters close to Brighton seafront. Long-term, the project will provide a full services deal for new and existing artists and will aim to work with the best teams and technology worldwide to ensure a strong route to market, alongside a very transparent and honest offering for the artists it will represent and work with. The Kooks’ Max Rafferty will be working as A&R and artist development manager, with more set to join the team.

AC/DC’s Brian Johnson to host Planet Rock series

Planet Rock is set to have AC/DC’s Brian Johnson host a new five-part series, The Producers. The weekly show sees Johnson, who recently had to quit playing live due to loss of hearing, exploring the lives of some of the world’s most renowned rock producers, including Queen’s Roy Thomas Baker, Metallica’s Bob Rock and Foo Fighters’ Nick Rasculiecz. Listeners can hear exclusive insights from the people who have mixed their magic to bring rock’s biggest albums to life, from the tracks they love, to the anecdotes from their time sharing the studio with the bands they’ve worked with. With this series, which broadcasts on Sundays at 7pm (and repeats at the same time on Wednesdays), Johnson joins the likes of Alice Cooper and Joe Elliott on Planet Rock’s presenter roster. 

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