UK Tour – February – March 2015

Introduction

In order to measure the success of the support tour, I set out on the task of booking a follow up headline tour every city The Caezars supported Imelda in (and a few other local shows that would hopefully be well attended). These gigs were booked in venues of 100-300 capacity and took place between the 5th of February and 14th of March 2015 and were promoted through tour flyers, and local promoters coming to the shows with Imelda May to raise awareness. This was an idea suggested by Imelda May when the band supported her at the Kentish Town Forum in 2011 as it was one of the ways she rose to success after touring with Jools Holland (Costa, 2011). The tour took a month to book in and was promoted through social media and appearances on specialist internet radio shows like Steve Stack of Wax’s Wednesday Night Rockin’ Party (Mixcloud, 2015) as well as posting flyers in the towns and cities the band were performing in.

Hail Caezar Tour Poster 2015

Posters and flyers were put up in the venues themselves, but also in vintage clothing shops (LOOT, Brighton (Facebook, 2015), Beatnik Emporium (2015) Southampton, The Vintage Collection London (Facebook, 2015) and independent record stores, Sounds That Swing (No Hit Records, 2015) London, Vinyl Tap (2015) Huddersfield, Pie & Vinyl (2015) Portsmouth. This ensured that they were reaching people interested in live music and vintage style/aesthetics who are part of The Caezars target audience. Reynolds believes the importance of specialised promotion for live music events is down to the fact that “The fickleness of the concert-going public should never be underestimated” (Reynolds, 2012, p. 17) and is why I enlisted the help of genre specific promoters such as “Make With The Shake” and “Go-Go Gorilla” for the geographically relevant shows.

Before embarking on the February 2015 tour, The Caezars recorded a new single to be released on 7” vinyl and digital download in time for the tour in February. The physical 7” single will be available for pre-order on the Bandcamp page and the digital audio track will be made available to listen to on the bands Soundcloud page. Soundcloud is where music is posted before it appears on Spotify or iTunes or anywhere else (Horn, 2014) because, as its CEO Erik Wahlforss (2014) told Gizmodo; “Soundcloud is where music culture happens on the web”.  The digital audio files  will also be made available on iTunes and Spotify upon the release date via the aggregator service Zimbalam (2015), as iTunes and Spotify do not work directly with artists to receive works. This releasing strategy will help rectify the errors made on the last tour whilst still servicing fans in a way that is simple, efficient and appropriate. Vinyl sales grew by 54.7% in 2014 and although the format only accounts for 2% of global revenues, it has an appeal that matches the bands current demographic (IFPI 2015).

The Results

The follow-up tour was a success and over 15 shows over 6 weeks the average attendance was 103 people with the highest being a sold-out 200 capacity show in Cornwall. To date the new single has been receiving radio play on genre specific online radio shows such as “Frockabilly” on Radio Reverb (2015) and “Get on The Right Track” on Rockabilly Radio (Rockabilly Duke Box, 2015). Ben Kirby (cited Reynolds, 2012 p.8), manager of The Subways, believes that continuing this level of touring is essential in the 21st century; “there’s such a fast turnover of acts these days, and it’s vital to gig your arse off and build a solid fan base that will still be there in 5 years time”.

Perhaps the way to grow and move forward is by trying to seek out a label services type deal for the next album, in order to fully distribute and promote the release. Especially when considering Passman’s (2012) theory; “for a record deal to make sense, the record company has to generate more money for you (after they take their piece) than you would get by selling less product on your own”. 

It has also led to the belief that one of the ways to survive as a niche independent artist is to follow the examples of The Wave Pictures (2015) and Bob Log III (2015), who are constantly on the road playing shows, earning money without the press and marketing campaigns of major record labels. Fabbri (1980) stated that “Every genre is defined by a community of varying structure which accepts the rules and whose members participate in various forms during the course of a musical event.” Performing on the Rockabilly scene is no different, with fans attention not only placed on the music but the lifestyle choice as a whole that includes the fashion, automobiles, and even the relevant furniture. The internet has enabled niche bands to tour specifically to their audiences on the relevant scenes. This means that the need to make the right noise in-front of the right people that is more interesting than that of our peers has never been so vital.

Reference List:

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Baker, T. (2013) ‘Free Crisps and Water: on the support act trail with Neighbourhood’. Interview with Tom Baker. Interview by Michael Hann for The Guardian, 10th March. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/mar/10/neighbourhood-support-act-trail (Accessed: 28/01/15).

Bandcamp (2015) Bandcamp for artists. Available at: http://bandcamp.com/artists (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Beatnik Emporium (2015) The Beatnik Emporium Available at: http://www.beatnikemporium.co.uk/ (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Bob Log III (2015) Gigs Available at: www.boblog111.com (Accessed: 29/01/15).

BPI (2015) Certified Awards – Search by Parameter. Available at: http://www.bpi.co.uk/certified-awards/search.aspx (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Bylin, K (2010) PledgeMusic starts record label, signs first band. Available at: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2010/12/pledgemusic-starts-record-label-signs-first-band.html (Accessed: 31/01/15).

Costa M (2011) Imelda May: Don’t Step on my Red Suede Shows. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/feb/03/imelda-may-rockabilly-revival (Accessed: 31/01/15).

Fabbri, F. (1980) ‘A Theory Of Music Genres: Two Applications’, The First International Conference On Popular Music Studies, Amsterdam, 1980. Goteberg and Exeter Publishing. Available at: http://www.tagg.org/xpdfs/ffabbri81a.pdf (Accessed: 11/04/15).

Facebook (2015) Loot Clothing Brighton. Available at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Loot-Clothing/173342206024019 (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Facebook (2015) The Vintage Collection Available at: https://www.facebook.com/thevintagecollectionlondon?fref=ts (Accessed: 29/01/15).

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Harrison, A. (2014) Music: the Business: Fully Revised and Updated, Including the Latest Changes to Copyright Law. United Kingdom: Virgin Books.

Houghton, B. (2014) Don’t Ignore your e-mail list says fan engagement expert. Available at: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2014/05/dont-ignore-your-email-list-say-fan-engagement-experts.html (Accessed: 23/04/15).

Horn, L. (2014) How Soundcloud Changed Music Forever. Available at: http://gizmodo.com/how-soundcloud-changed-music-forever-1588811594 (Accessed: 23/04/15).

Hultsfred Hayride (2015) Hultsfred Hayride. Available at: http://www.hayride.se/ (Accessed: 29/01/15).

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Pakinkis, T. (2014) Lyor Cohen’s 300 Partners with Twitter. Available at: http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/lyor-cohen-s-300-partners-with-twitter/057495 (Accessed: 31/01/15).

Pie & Vinyl (2015) Pie & Vinyl Available at: http://www.pieandvinyl.co.uk/ (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Pledge Music (2015) Why Pledge Music?. Available at: https://www.pledgemusic.com/artists/sign_up (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Radio Reverb (2015) Frockabilly Available at: http://www.radioreverb.com/shows/Frockabilly (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Reynolds, A. (2012) The tour book: how to get your music on the road. 2nd edn. Boston, MA: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Rockabilly Duke Box (2015) Get On The Right Track Available at: http://rockabillydukebox.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/get-on-right-track.html (Accessed: 29/01/15).

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Rogers, B. (2013) ‘Benji Rogers from Pledge Music @ Austin Tech Talk SXSW 2013’. Interview with Benji Rogers. Interview by David Hayes for Austin Tech Talk, 12th March. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQUDDumyawM (Accessed: 15/04/15).

Smith, D (2015) ‘A Sound Engineers Perspective’. Interview with Darren Smith. Interview by Ken Garff for Ken Garff Automotive Group, 22nd March. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3vH-5w47qM(Accessed: 28/03/15).

The Caezars (2015) The Caezars.com. Available at: http://www.thecaezars.com/ (Accessed: 29/01/15).

The Wave Pictures (2015) Gigs Available at: http://thewavepictures.com/webpages/gigs.htm(Accessed: 29/01/15).

The Wytches (2015) Wytches Available at: http://www.thewytches.com/ (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Ticketmaster (2015) Ticketmaster. Available at: http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/ (Accessed: 29/01/15).

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Vinyl Tap (2015) The Vinyl Tap Available at: https://www.vinyltap.co.uk/ (Accessed: 29/01/15).

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Zimbalam (2015) Distribution Available at: http://www.zimbalam.co.uk/distribution (Accessed: 29/01/15).

Even The Graveyards Dead 7″ Single Recording – January 2015

Before heading out on the February 2015 tour,  I booked The Caezars in to record a new single to be released on 7” vinyl and digital download in time for the tour in February. This is so physical 7” single would be available to pre-order on The Caezars Bandcamp page and the digital audio track would be made available to listen to on the bands Soundcloud page. Soundcloud is where music is posted before it appears on Spotify or iTunes or anywhere else (Horn, 2014) because, as its CEO Erik Wahlforss (2014) told Gizmodo; “Soundcloud is where music culture happens on the web”.  The digital audio files would also be made available on iTunes and Spotify upon the release date via the aggregator service Zimbalam (2015), as iTunes and Spotify do not work directly with artists to receive works. This releasing strategy will help rectify the errors made on the last tour whilst still servicing fans in a way that is simple, efficient and appropriate. Vinyl sales grew by 54.7% in 2014 and although the format only accounts for 2% of global revenues, it has an appeal that matches the bands current demographic (IFPI 2015).

IMG_2291

The single was recorded live, all analogue, straight to tape in one day, with the session engineered by cult Rockabilly guitarist Darrel Higham. The record was also mixed and mastered by Darrel then the label design was designed by myself with collaborative input from the rest of the band to ensure it looked as authentic as possible. I monitored the whole process of the release, going through Neil Scott at Sounds That Swing and Damon’s pressing plant that they use. I set up the templates myself and ensured everything was ready for the pressing process that was funded by Clive Duffin at Ambassador records. The tracks were titles “Even The Graveyard’s Dead” on the A-Side and “Oh! Odette” on the B-Side and you can listen to them both below:

A Discussion of Legislative change that has affected the Live Music Industry

Introduction

At the start of 2013, UK guitar band The Vaccines were preparing themselves for their biggest tour to date, culminating in a headline performance the 20,000 capacity O2 arena on May 2nd. It is therefore, hard to imagine that the band kicked off the year with an intimate show at the Southampton Joiners on January 22nd, as a show of support to a struggling live music venue [NME, 2013]. Like many other venues in the UK, Southampton Joiners poor situation at the time was partly due to the Licensing act of 2003. The act placed many restrictions on the performance of live music and other entertainment, and so inadvertently caused lots of venues throughout the country to close. This, along with the combined effect of further legislation, and the growing monopoly in the live sector that big business like Live Nation and AEG currently hold, has changed the UK live music sector significantly over the past 15 to 20 years.

This report will look into the UK’s live music industry and how it has changed over this period of time, analysing the various factors driving that change. It will also look at the impact that recent regulation changes and the emerging secondary ticket market may go onto have, in order to predict the future of the live music economy in the near future.

Report

Originally proposed in order to cut down the processes involved in applying for licenses to sell alcohol, host regulated entertainment and provide late night refreshments, the 2003 licensing act was expected to create a more diverse night time economy. The need for six individual licenses would be abolished, replaced instead by the need for a single premises or personal license to cover all licensable activities at one fixed cost. The application process would be made to the local council, rather than the national courts, making licenses easier to regulate. It would end fixed closing times to reduce the amount of rushed drinking before 11pm, and aimed to reduce public disorder. [Richmond.gov.uk, 2005].

Unfortunately there were many unforeseen repercussions from the act, many of those hitting grass roots music venues. The act made licenses compulsory for small pubs and clubs to host regulated entertainment. This lead to concerns that 56,700 smaller clubs and “toilet venues”, who had previously not needed licenses, would now face closure. This would result in the number of concerts taking place in the UK every night falling by around 50% from 4,500 to 2,250. Despite this concern, the act was put into place with no amendments to address these issues [Higgins, C. & Gibson, O. 2005].

Many notable live music venues throughout the UK ended up closing and were turned into residential spaces or restaurants. This is because of the cost of the new licenses (on average an extra £1600 per year) and the application processes that were both lengthy and complicated [Sabbagh, D. 2011].

The localisation of the applications also led to stricter rules on licensing implemented in certain areas. One of the most extreme circumstances of this was in St. Albans, where although licenses were granted for live music performances, they were very prohibitive. For example; there were restrictions on the number of performers allowed in a space, restrictions on frequency or amount of performances, restrictions on genre/style of music performed and signs having to be displayed warning of upcoming events. Although this is an extreme and localised case, it is an example of the impact the act went on to have in some places [King, J. Jaggar, P. Rayner, L. Robertson, D 2009].

However, it could be argued that the closure of these low quality and dirty “toilet venues”, with their poor facilities and equipment, could actually benefit musicians. Online promotion and marketing has made it easier for new bands to create a buzz and fan base themselves, negating the need for small scale promoters [Hasted, N. 2005]. The rise in cost and processing time of licenses has further squeezed out these low and mid range promoters that used to be so prominent in the live music world [Harris, J. 2013]. This has led to corporate brands such as MAMA Group and DHP promotions purchasing small venues. The additional funding provided by these brands has ensured their venues have award-winning facilities, creating a better gigging experience for both bands and fans [MAMA Group 2014].

On the other hand, the independent venues that have survived have not only had to cope with the licensing fees, but also the rising costs of putting on bands that have come to expect the quality offered by corporately owned small spaces. Because of this, despite The Forum in Tunbridge Wells being named best small venue by NME in 2012, it is staffed entirely by volunteers. The money that the co-owner can spare from the profits of his local pub chain funds the annual £7,000 loss the venue makes. The forum carries on through dedication to music, and because the volunteers’ feel that towns don’t need places selling wood fired pizzas, they need music venues. [Lamon, T. 2012]

This sentiment was echoed by the former chief executive of UK music Fergal Sharky, who said; “The licensing act is failing small venues and that is having a huge impact on the future of the live industry.” [Topping, A. 2012] Lord Tim Clement-Jones also felt change was needed, and so helped bring forward the live music bill of 2012. The purpose of the bill was, according to Clement-Jones, was “to breathe new life into the live music scene” [The Guardian 2009]. The bill removed licensing requirements for; live music between 8am and 11pm, in venues up to 200 in capacity, that are already licensed to sell alcohol, and non amplified music between 8am and 11pm in all venues [Penrose, J 2012]

Most music industry professionals welcomed this act as a sign of the government noticing the unintended harm the licensing act had caused. However, the extent of the impact is yet to be seen, and there have already been criticisms levelled at the bill. For example, small scale corporate owned venues have invested time and money into their high quality performance spaces. These venues risk being undercut by amateurs not needing a licence, putting on cheaper events in spaces not meant for live music shows, resulting in poor sound quality and a bad gig for both fans and artists [The Rocktober Report 2009].

There are also wider issues to consider when looking at the nationwide closure of small venues, not associated with the Live Music bill. The recession has led to people having less disposable income, and combined with rent increases on properties, pressure has been heaped on venue owners. The rise in VAT to 20% also hit smaller shows, as having to charge more to ticketed events in a time where people have spare money is not going to bring in customers [MacVeigh, T. 2012].

The ability to promote shows at smaller venues was also hampered with the introduction of the clean neighbourhoods and environments act in 2005. The act presents councils with the powers to control the distribution of free literature, in order to keep neighbourhoods clean. A person found guilty of putting up posters in public spaces without a license can be fined up to £2,500, and the licenses to distribute flyers are prohibitively expensive [Clean Neighbourhoods and environments act 2005. 2014]. The Internet has allowed small venues to promote through social media, and flyers can still be given out inside venues. However, it is thought that the act has made it harder to make the general public aware of small shows, therefore reducing audience numbers and having a knock on effect to their revenue [Appleton, J. 2014].

Technological advancements may also play a part in peoples decisions not to go to smaller gigs by lesser-known artists. It could be suggested that music-streaming services have inadvertently created a “try before you buy” culture. Perhaps people are now only purchasing tickets to concerts by bands they know and love, rather than taking a risk on an unfamiliar artist. YouTube has also allowed potential concert goers to see what exactly is in store for them before going to a unknown artists show, or to even stream the performance of a megastar act live into their living room in some cases. This could also be linked to the rise of arena gigs and the monopolisation of the upper echelons of the live music industry by the likes of Live Nation and AEG, as demand for tickets for huge acts with substantial followings and big production stage shows needs to be fulfilled.

Live Nation is the result of various purchases and mergers by American Robert Sillerman’s company SFX. After buying up lots of live music promoters in the US, SFX purchased three of the most significant UK promoters (Apollo Leisure Group, Midland Concert Promotions, and the Barry Clayman Corporation) in 1999. Clear Channel then bought SFX, and rebranded all of its live music interests into Live Nation in 2005 [Brennan, M. 2014]. Live Nation has gone on to become the worlds largest concert promoter, organizing around 30,000 gigs per year, and turning over almost double the entire revenue of the UK music industry [Ingham, T. 2014].

Part of the reason for this huge amount of growth in the live sector is due to the decline in record sales thanks to the rise of internet download sites, streaming services and piracy. However the level of investment pumped into the live music world by huge corporations has resulted in better facilities in arena sized venues throughout Europe, enabling higher ticket prices to be charged. This has led to multinational companies being able to entice huge heritage acts out of retirement onto lucrative tours, as well as being able to cash in on maximum revenue when contemporary pop acts perform live [Music Week 2012]. High capacity venues and high-ticket prices obviously lead to huge sums of money being generated when arenas do sell out, but what happens when they don’t?

The music industry now moves at such a high speed, due to increased fan-to-fan connectivity, leading to a lower level of control from the traditional record label hierarchy [Wikstrom, 2013]. This has resulted in managers and booking agents getting involved in much earlier stages of an artist’s career to ensure they benefit from an artists success should they take off. The resulting team that ends up around the artist all need to be paid. So, in order to compensate for the lack of money generated through record sales, the act is booked at huge stadium sized shows the moment they have a hit. This is also cheaper for the label, which doesn’t have to provide tour support for a single arena show in a big city [Harris, J. (2013].

There are potential issues to be considered with this school of thought though. For example, the artist may not have had enough time to grow the fan base required to sell out these huge venues, which could result in a poor atmosphere and bad performance. If the act has enjoyed huge hype and does manage to sell out the stadium they are playing, they may not have had the time to create the bulk of work required to entertain the crowd sufficiently. The performer may be able to compensate for this by having the best sound in the world thanks to the state of the art facilities, along with the most amazing pyrotechnics and light show. However, if they have not honed their craft, they may not have the charisma or star quality to wow their paying customers. The possible result of any of these potential problems is that the artist may not have the demand for a further run of shows, resulting in their popularity level dropping significantly, and the average music fan moving onto the next act to be given the same treatment [Goldsmith, H. 2013].

A tour by a genuine superstar artist that has been building a fan-base over a number of years usually avoids these hurdles, generating such a huge demand that tickets sell out within minutes [Guardian 2014]. Circumstances like this and the internet have allowed the growth of a huge secondary ticketing market worth an estimated £1 billion per year, but is one of the most controversial issues within the industry today [All-parliamentary Group 2014] . 

On one hand, the secondary market allows fans to buy and sell tickets for sold out shows. Usually the tickets are sold above face value, which allows tickets to set their own market price. Live Nations chief exec Michael Rapino supports this theory, as he believes the music industry deliberately undervalues shows as part of its core marketing strategy. Some tickets actual market value may be thousands of pounds, but an artist coming out and selling their tickets at that price would be a PR disaster [Ingham, T. 2014]. This is understandable, as it would come across as artists doing nothing to stop fans who are unable to spend hundreds of pounds on tickets, being priced out of their shows. 

Because of this, there has been an outcry for governmental legislation to help stop the secondary ticketing markets prices spiralling out of control. Otherwise it becomes a place where event holders can allocate tickets directly to resellers and take a cut of the profits on the inflated sales figures, as uncovered by channel 4s dispatches investigation into ViaGoGo [JustMeSTKK 2012]. 

However, it is believed that too much time has elapsed to legislate the secondary ticketing market, and that one potential solution could be to be for the event hosts to be stricter in their allocations. Limiting the amount of tickets individual users can buy and requiring photo ID at event entry could massively dent the resale market. On the other hand, it could harm initial sales as tickets would be non transferable, so could not be bought as gifts. These restrictions would also be very expensive to implement on small-scale shows and so may not be practical to implement [All-parliamentary Group 2014].

Centuries ago, music and culture was only for the aristocracy and royalty, as they were the only people able to afford to indulge in these activities [Klein, S. 2014]. If the cultural industries do not take steps to address the secondary ticketing market, it is feared by some that the general public may be priced out of concerts and other cultural events, resulting in a return to such times.

Conclusion

Secondary ticketing, the closure of small music venues, cultural changes, sector economics, and diminishing record sales, have changed the way the live industry operates, yet has increased it’s importance to the whole UK music industry. Live Nation, AEG, MAMA group and DHP, among others, have provided high quality live music performances spaces of all sizes, and many “toilet venues” have closed their doors. The general public now expect this level of quality at every show they see, wether it be at the 20,000 capacity O2 arena, or the 200 capacity Borderline. This, along with poor economic times, has led to gigs becoming more a part of the broader entertainment palette, with people choosing between going to a live music show, football match or spa day. A gig at the O2 arena, with it’s cinema and many restaurants, has become a day out rather than just an evening event [O2, 2012]. Customers now expect high quality food, drink, and comfortable seating whilst watching globally renowned acts, something that small “toilet venues” can not offer.

Perhaps this is why the Live Music act of 2012 may not provide the huge boost to the UK’s small music venues it hopes to. Instead of new acts relying on constant touring and releasing album after album, slowly climbing up the venue ladder before they have enough fans to fill arenas, the process happens in a different way. The internet means artists can release a YouTube video that goes viral and leads to them gaining 100,000s of fans overnight, significant major label interest, and a headline gig in front of thousands [Beaumont, M. 2013]. If this is to be the future of the industry, perhaps the time of the “toilet circuit” is over and the arena is now king. Maybe the importance of the overall entertainment package now outweighs the importance of the intimacy, blood, sweat and tears offered by a tiny basement club, with sticky floors and paint peeling from the walls. 

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Higgins, C. & Gibson, O. (2005) New Live Music rules Could Halve Number Of Gigs. Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/aug/02/politicsandthearts.artsnews (Accessed: 01/05/14).

Ingham, T. (2014) The Big Interview Michael Rapino. Available at: https://moodle.uel.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/266198/mod_resource/content/0/Live%20Nation%20CEO%20Interview%20%28Michael%20Rapino%202014%29.pdfAccessed: 01/05/14).

JustMeSTKK (2012) ViaGoGo The Great Ticket Scandal. Available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWlnL8drSdw (01/05/13).

King, J. Jaggar, P. Rayner, L. Robertson, D (2009) Licensing Act 2003 Enforcement of the Act by St. Abans District Council and the impact of live music. Available at:https://moodle.uel.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/150514/mod_resource/content/1/Licensing%20Act%202003%20-%20Case%20Study%20of%20impact%20on%20live%20music%20in%20St%20Albans.pdf (Accessed: 01/05/14).

Klein, S. (2014) When UK Pop was born: the 18th century. Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2014/apr/04/when-uk-pop-was-born-the-18th-century (03/05/2014).

Lamon, T. (2012) Powered by pure passion: the music venue that runs on love alone. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/nov/25/small-venues-survive-forum-tunbridge-feature (Accessed: 01/05/14).

MacVeigh, T (2012) Rock Music under threat as small venues go bust across Britain. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/may/26/rock-music-venues-bust-britain(Accessed: 01/05/14).

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NME (2013) The Vaccines play benefit gig for Southampton’s The Joiners. Available at:http://www.nme.com/news/the-vaccines/68315 (Accessed: 01/05/14).

Penrose, J (2012) Changes to Licensing Act 2003. Available at: https://moodle.uel.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/150511/mod_resource/content/1/Live%20Music%20Act%20Summary%20from%20DCMS.pdf(Accessed: 01/05/14).

Richmond.gov.uk (2005) Frequently asked questions about premises licenses. Available at:http://www.richmond.gov.uk/faqs_premises_licences.pdf (Accessed: 01/05/14).

The Rocktober Report (2009) Available at: https://moodle.uel.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/268142/mod_resource/content/0/One%20Year%20On%20-%20The%20Live%20Music%20Act%202012%20-%20The%20Rocktober%20Report.pdf(Accessed: 01/05/14).

Sabbagh, D. (2011) Band Aid: minister to call time on pub live music restrictions. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/jun/15/letters-licensing-act-live-music (Accessed: 01/05/14).

Taylor, N (2014) Rough Trade History Available at: http://www.roughtraderecords.com/history/Accessed: 01/05/14).

Topping, A. (2012) Live venues close as overbearing licensing laws bite. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/dec/31/live-venues-licensing-laws-luminaire(Accessed: 01/05/14

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Wikström, P. (2013). The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud. 2nd ed. United Kingdom: Polity Press.

Is the 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents act relevant to the recognised music industry publishing norms?

Introduction

Over the past 20 years, there have been a number of high profile court cases concerning the ownership of copyright contained within recorded music. The outcomes of these cases have challenged the established music industry norms of copyright ownership, where the songwriter is deemed to be who first created the lyrics and melody of a piece [Free, D. 2002]. This ideology ignores the potential significance of other musicians involved in creating a recording that would be heard by the general public. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 stipulates that copyright does not exist in a musical work until it is recorded in writing or in any other way [Copyright Designs and Patents act, 2013]. When interpreting this statement in it’s most literal sense, it can be seen that every time a musical work is recorded, a new copyright will be generated associated with that particular recording. This report will focus on the importance of reading the copyright law in this way, in an attempt to answer whether or not “All musicians featured on a popular music recording are entitled to an appropriate share and interest in the music publishing copyright of the work performed on that recording”.

Godfrey VS Lees, 1995

Robert Godfrey was involved with the group Barcley James Harvest in the 1970’s. As the bands “Resident Musical Director” he claimed to have joint authorship of six musical works featured on 2 of the groups albums, claiming to have made orchestral arrangements in 4 cases, and piano/organ accompaniments in 2 others [Domone, K. & Domone M, 2010].

Blackburn J. ruled that Robert Godfrey did indeed have a claim to the copyright on the 6 musical works but was stopped from revoking this license because of waiting for 14-years to claim [Arnold, J. 2009]. This is referred to as estoppel, which is a legal principle that stops claims from being granted if a claimant’s previous actions suggest he/she has accepted the position they were in previous to the claim.

Blackburne J. puts forward the following in his ruling:

“It well illustrates how little originality is required of a person’s contribution to a piece of music in order to attract copyright in the altered work”

[Arnold, J. 2009]

This is the correct reading of the 1988 copyright act as it focuses on how the contribution made to a recording can be very small yet still attract an interest in the recordings copyright to the performer in question. However, this completely disregards how the music industry works and if this interpretation were applied to every existing musical work, would this be fair to the songwriter who had the original idea for the work? For example, a bass player may play a performance of significant quality as an accompaniment to already existing lyrics and melody. Would the idea for that bass line exist without the melody and lyrics used as the inspiration for his part?

Hadley VS Kemp, 1998

A disagreement in publishing income sparked this legal case between Gary Kemp and Spandau Ballet, but perhaps the most interesting section deals with the saxophone solo in the song “True”. An expert musicologist described the solo as “particularly attractive” and “particularly felicitous” yet it only takes up 35 seconds (9%) of the finished recording.  Park J. found that Steve Norman (saxophonist) and not Gary Kemp arranged the notes in the solo played by Norman, yet still credited the sole authorship of the song to Kemp.

This decision, although conforming to music industry norms, contradicts the Godfrey VS Lees case. The saxophone solo contribution was clearly of high originality as it could not have been written by Kemp and should therefore, when strictly abiding to the 1988 copyright act, attract an interest in the copyright of the work. Instead, it was ruled that a pre-existing space was included for a saxophone solo and so; its inclusion was not a significant part of the work because it was not in itself, an element in the work [Arnold, J. 2009].

The member’s claims to a share in the copyright in the songs were also rejected with the exception of one song where the percussion parts were of “substantial and prolonged prominence” [Free, D. 2002]. This follows the ruling in the Godfrey VS Lees but the reasoning behind it contradicts Blackburn J.’s  “little originality” statement. 

To compound all of this, the claimants were further denied from revoking any licenses as they were estopped from doing so.

Beckingham VS Hodges 2002

This case focuses on a session musician known as Bobby Valentino, contracted to perform a violin part on The Blue Bells recording of a song called “Young At Heart”. Previously recorded by Bananarama, the song achieved a medium amount of success. Written by Robert Hodges and his girlfriend (Siobhan Fahey) for Bananarama, it was decided the song would be re-recorded in a different style, for which Bobby Valentino’s violin playing was required. The version by The Blues Bells was a hit in 1984 and an even bigger hit in 1993 when it was used on a commercial for Volkswagen. The violin part was a crucial part of the work’s success and Hodges and Valentino both insisted that they were the parts composer [Free, D. 2002].

Although Hodges gave Valentino the initial idea for the part, it was ruled that Valentino created the part by reversing a country riff played somewhere else in the song and by drawing on inspiration from a song Valentino had composed himself previously.

It was judged that there was collaboration in the creation of the work, there was a contribution from each joint author and the contributions were not separate. Therefore, all requirements of the 1988 copyright act were fulfilled for Bobby Valentino to qualify as a joint author to the work and he was also not estopped from revoking the gratuitous license granted to him, unlike both Godfree VS Lees and Hadley VS Kemp cases [Free, D. 2009].

This is completely against music industry practices but given the apparent significance of the re-recording and inclusion of the violin part, it could be seen as the “fair” conclusion to this case. The work recorded by Bananarama was not as successful as the Blue Bells version and that lack of success can be associated with the differences between the two sound recordings. However, when using the Hadley VS Kemp case as the precedent, did Bobby Valentino not just fulfill his contractual obligation by providing a violin part of high quality, just as Steve Norman was, as part of Spandau Ballet, on “True”?

Brooker VS Fisher 2009

The final and most recent case concerns Procul Harum and the 1967 song “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”, written by Gary Brooker and recorded as a demo tape to his own accompaniment. The song was then re-recorded after taking on Matthew Fisher as an organist who performed the now famous introduction on the recorded work. Fisher and Brooker both agreed that Fisher had created the organ solo for the recording in question but disagreed on sharing the ownership of the copyright to the song itself [Arnold, J. 2009].

Blackburne J. ruled that Fisher should indeed have a share in the copyright of the work, because the organ solo was sufficiently different to what was composed by Brooker and that the existence of a demo recorded previously does not change the organ part from being a product of individual skill and labor by Fisher [POP].

Fisher was not estopped from revoking his gratuitous license until the case went to the court of appeal that upheld the decision that Fisher was entitled to a share in the copyright, but should not be able to benefit from the copyright because of the 38-year gap in putting forward his claim. This was then overturned by the high court that saw it as unfair that Fisher be granted a share in the copyright but be then unable to claim the benefits of that share [Arnold, J. 2009].

This, and the Beckingham VS Hodges cases have set a dangerous precedent for the music industry as they have shown musicians who had no input on the lyrics and melody of the original song being granted a share in the songs copyright if their instrumental performance is deemed significant enough. This is shown particularly when looking at Blackburne J.’s comments on the Brooker VS Fisher case:

“If Mr. Fisher’s only contribution to the work had been the organ accompaniment to the sung parts, it would be a nice question, whether that contribution would qualify him… as a joint author of the work”

[Arnold, J. 2009]

This is incredibly contradictory, as by copyright law and Blackburne J.’s own words, it should. He stated in the Godfrey VS Lees 14 years previous that little originality is required… to a piece of music in order to attract copyright in the altered work” [REF]. It is highly confusing and difficult to come to a clear conclusion how decisions on copyright can be made when both of these statements came from the same Judge interpreting the same laws differently.

Reflection on the cases

It could be seen that the main hurdle facing the ownership of copyright in musical works is the lack of actual music industry law. This lack of law leads to Judges making decisions on creative and individual works using the Copyright Act of 1988 that does not make a definitive statement on what music is. This needs to be rectified, but then it is very difficult to define what may become memorable or significant in a musical work. If it is not the lyrics or melody created by the songwriter, then the instrumentalist in question would be justified in his claim to seek a share in the works copyright, as he is partly responsible for that works success (particularly seen in The Blue Bells case). It is almost like trying to predict what will be the most quotable line in a film script, as it is impossible to look into the future [Arnold, J. 2009].

A possible solution to these copyright claims could be found when looking at the Spandau Ballet publishing agreement that sparked their copyright feud. The vocal agreement between Gary Kemp and Spandau Ballet was that 100% of all royalties generated from the songs went straight to Kemp. Kemp then paid the other members 50% that was shared equally between them. After the split of the band, the 50% ceased to be paid to the other members by Kemp, and a legal case ensued [Southall, B. 2009].

Park J. dismissed the publishing claim as it was found the band had entered into agreements stipulating that publishing income went solely to Kemp, which effectively stated that the band accepted that 100% of the money was his and it was Kemps choice for it be split whilst the band were together [Southall, B. 2009].   

Considering that it was only when Kemp ceased to pay 50% of the publishing income to his band members that the agreement turned sour, it would appear this would be a fair way of dealing with money generated. Spandau Ballet recognized Kemp as the primary songwriter and understood that he was entitled to a greater share, but still received compensation for their performances on the recorded works. This relies on good inter-band relationships however, as not all songwriters will necessary be willing to give away pieces of publishing income earned by what they consider to be their ideas. Therefore, it would be difficult to write into a law and be enforced. Also, this relies on all musicians on the recording having a pre-existing relationship and would be difficult to apply to session musicians.

Conclusion

The copyright act of 1988 completely disregards the standard music industry norms by stating that new copyright is generated every time a new musical work is fixed [Arnold, J. 2009]. This effectively means that whether musicians want it or not, they have an interest in the copyright of every recording they perform on. The industry has tightened this area, with session musicians being asked to sign contracts before performing on any recordings, stipulating that they understand they will not go on to make a claim to any copyright [Arnold, J. 2009].

Without assessing each individual work created on an individual basis and looking at how important the piano playing or the guitar riff etc. is to the quality of the final musical work, it is hard to attribute the song writing credit when using copyright law. Because of how circumstantial every single band, solo artist; writer, song and recording session is, it is very hard to put forward a solution to the problem. Following Copyright law word for word would mean that the answer to the proposed question would be yes, all musicians featured on a popular music recording should be entitled to an appropriate share and interest in the music publishing copyright of the work performed on that recording. On the other hand, should the person playing the triangle have the same share in the copyright, as the guitarist who wrote the riff that the public whistles on their way to work? In the words of Blackburn J. “it would be a nice question” [Arnold, J. 2009].

Reference List:

Arnold, J. (2009) Reflections on the triumph of music: copyrights and performers rights in music [Invited Speaker Seminar], Oxford Intellectual Property. 20th October.

Copyright, Designs and Patents act (Year that the site was published 1995 /last published 2013, May 19th) Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/section/3 (Accessed: 10/12/13).

Domone, K. & Domone M. Barclay James Harvest Biography. Available at:http://www.bjharvest.co.uk/bjh-biog.htm (2010) (Accessed: 10/12/13).

Free, D. (2002) Beckingham v. Hodgens: The Session
Musician’s Claim to Music Copyright 
Vol.1, No.3, Autumn 2002, pp.93–97 Available at:http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/eslj/issues/volume1/number3/interventions.pdf(Accessed: 10/12/13).

Southall, B. (2009) Pop Goes To Court. Second Edition. London: Omnibuss Press.

How the developments of new technology have changed the way Music Publishers generate income over the past 50 years

Introduction

Music Publishing is the area of the music world that controls the copyright contained within musical works. Publishing companies exist to collect the royalties generated by the use of the copyright contained within songs and act on behalf of songwriters to exploit these copyrights in order to generate revenue. [Avalon, 2009, pg 41]. For this to take place a deal is signed between the songwriter and the publisher to give control of the copyright contained in the works to the publisher and gives them permission to administer them. The income from the exploitation is then split in accordance to the deal (e.g. 60%/40% or 70%/30%) and depending on the deal, an advance may be paid to the songwriter that is then recouped by their future earnings [Passman, 2011, pg 230].

The three main areas of publishing income are split into royalty brackets; performance (live performance and broadcast) and mechanical income (reproduction of recordings and works) being primary sources and synchronization (sound recording placed with moving image) being a secondary source [Wikström, 2009, pg 57]. The way each of these revenue streams has earned money for publishers has changed over time thanks to developments in technology. The relationship between these technological advancements and how they have affected the income generated will be the main subject of this piece. 

History of Music Publishing

The music publishing industry as we know it today started with the production and sale of sheet music on Tin Pan Alley, which is where the term “Publishing” was, coined [Harrison 2011, pg 110]. The publishing offices on Tin Pan Alley (Denmark Street in the UK, West 28th Street, NY in USA) employed songwriters to write songs that were pitched to the popular singers of the time to be performed. This was the only way for the works to be heard, as there were few national radio platforms in the early 20th century and those that existed, did not cater for popular music. It was also regular practice for performers to not write their own songs and therefore relied on published songwriters to give them material. Unfortunately, this resulted in unpublished songwriters finding it very hard to exploit their music without the backing of a publisher [Passman, 2011, pg 232].

Because of the lack of recorded music at that time, people had to buy and perform sheet music in order to enjoy music in the home. This is the first time the commoditization of music yielded significant profit, with “School Days” performed by Gus Edwards selling over 3 million copies of sheet music in 1907 [Wikström 2009, pg 62] showing just how vast the secondary income market could be.                                                                                                                                                                        Performance Royalties

In terms of publishing, performance royalties are a primary source of income and not only limited to when a composition is performed live in by an artist, it is whenever that particular work is broadcast publicly, whether that be on the radio, in a place of work, the internet, a shop or on television [Wikström, 2009, pg 57]. The money generated by broadcast/performance is then collected by collection societies, the main UK collection society being the Performing Rights Society (PRS), and then distributed back to its members. In short, each publisher assigns the performing right contained within all of the songs in their catalogue over to the PRS to be licensed on their behalf [Nichols, 2013]. Once this deal is completed, the PRS then go to every user and ensure that they have the correct license in order to broadcast the music publicly. The users pay a license fee to the PRS that covers their particular song usage and the funds generated (minus the PRS’s operating costs) are paid to the publisher and then, in turn, the songwriter [Passman 2011, pg 251]. It is also possible (and encouraged) for unpublished songwriters to join the PRS so that their royalties are collected and distributed to them, as some songwriters choose to publisher their own work and get paid directly, or have not yet signed with a publisher [PRS, 2013].  

Technological innovation has played a huge role in the way that performance royalties have been generated over time. Tin Pan Alley had songwriters creating works for singers to perform live in public, but this evolved with the invention of recording technology and development of radio equipment. These advances meant the songs could be broadcast as recordings and earn significant royalties without the need of a performer [Wibberly 2013]

The earning potential of recorded songs being broadcast developed further as technology opened up further avenues of secondary income. Songs started to become used in motion pictures and broadcast to cinema audiences where performance royalties are earned, although US cinemas are exempt from this. Works also started to be used in television advertising campaigns where broadcast royalties are due after every airing. As the number of television channels has increased, so has the possibility of earning public performance royalties [Passman, 2011, pg 253]

However, the largest shift in performance royalties has come in the digital age with income being generated through plays on YouTube, digital download services such as iTunes and streaming services such as Spotify. As of 2012, the royalties generated through online usage have eclipsed radio broadcast and live performance. This is an indication of the radical change the music industry has been through over time [PRS, 2013]. 

 Mechanical Royalites

Another form of copyright exploitation in the music industry is the reproduction and manufacturing of songs contained within sound recordings. Whether these are vinyl records, cassettes, CDs or even digital download files, a license needs to be applied for in order to reproduce the works in this way [Krasilovsky, Shemel, 2007 pg 161]. This license is called a mechanical license and in the UK is obtained through the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), which is paid on every physical release manufactured. The license fee on every physical copy produced is 8.5% of the published dealer price (PPD) but is a slightly different amount for online reproduction. These are the primary sources of mechanical publishing income. Mechanical license fees are also payable when copyrighted music features on computer games and DVDs that are being mass-produced and sold [Harrison, 2011 pg 121].

Initially, it was only vinyl records being sold that generated mechanical royalties and over time this has developed into many other forms of media using music also having to pay for it usage. Given the wealth of different formats carrying licensed songs in today’s market, it would be assumed that mechanical royalties would generate a significant portion of the music industries revenue. Unfortunately, because of the digital revolution, the amount of money generated through the mechanical reproduction of music has been in decline due to an overall decrease in the amount of physical releases sold [Rogers, 2013, pg 32].

This has not always been the case though, before the digital age, one of the music industry’s primary royalty generators was mechanical revenue. This is highlighted with the invention of the CD, as record companies were able to reissue their artists back catalogues. Avid fans would purchase their favourite acts recordings, repackaged on the new medium, which resulted in mechanical royalties coming in from records that were not only popular at the time, but also from those who had long since disappeared from the public eye [Wibberly, 2013].     

This could be seen as one of the music industry’s greatest ever marketing achievements, maximizing mechanical income. The public were promised that CDs had a cleaner sound of much higher quality, as well as being more portable and more hard wearing, enticing music enthusiasts to take up the new format [Harrison, 2011, pg 183]. However, the digital age has actually seen some music buyers revert back to purchasing vinyl; the format the industry proposed was out of date. Although still small in number, the resurgence of the vinyl format could indicate the extent of the music industry’s cunning, seeking to squeeze maximum amount of profit from the consumer [Dredge, 2013].

Synchronisation Royalties

Synchronisation in a publishing sense is the act of placing a recorded musical work to moving image and in order to do this, a synchronization license must be obtained. From films and TV programs to advertisements and computer games, wherever a musical work is used, it would have been paid for. These deals are often very lucrative for the songwriter with fees of £100,000 being relatively commonplace [Harrison, 2011, pg 123]. If a song is to be used in any film or motion picture then the producer of the film must go directly to the publisher to use the song in question, then to the record label to use the sound recording in question. This process also applies to get permission to use a work in a television advertisement or video game. The same also applies if a song is to be used on a television program in the USA. However, in the UK, the process is slightly different for television programs. The main channels such as SKY, BBC and ITV pay a “blanket license” to the PRS, which is a negotiated set fee, enabling them to use any song controlled by the PRS and any sound recording registered with the Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) in their show [Passman, 2011, pg 261].  

The potential for royalties from secondary revenue sources can be explained when looking the soundtrack of the 1973 motion picture, American Graffiti. Music from the 1950’s and 1960’s was synced to the moving images in the film to recreate the feel of early 1960s America [Guardian, 2013]. Music from Buddy holly, Johnny Burnette and Bill Hailey [Amazon, 2013] among others, was included, which saw interest in those acts rekindled long after their recording careers had diminished or completely ceased. This meant that inclusion on the films official soundtrack provided mechanical income from the copies of the album manufactured, performance royalties were generated from the films cinema showings and synchronisation royalties were also paid for the songs inclusion in the film itself. Record labels also had the idea to stimulate primary income by re-releasing material from the featured artists back catalogue and so benefited from the profit of those sales, which in turn lead to the songwriters (or their estates) benefiting from mechanical copyright attached to production of the re-released work.

Publishing companies still didn’t realize just how productive the area of secondary income could be until Levi Jeans re-launched their brand with an innovative television advert featuring Marvin Gaye’s, “Heard it Through the Grapevine” which together married moving image and music to create a cool, authentic and original feel for their brand. Advertising agencies realized that music could be a way to help branding and sell products. This was an opportunity that could yield large amounts of money for publishers with both synchronization and performance royalties generated. Not to mention the mechanical royalties generated by the rejuvenated sales of a long since forgotten record. Virgin Publishing were the first act on this and set up a dedicated synchronization department to fully exploit this revenue stream which is now a cornerstone of every publishing company today [Marcel Visser, 2013]. 

Today, the synchronisation departments of publishing companies also have to change the way they generate revenue in the digital age. For example the act of synchronisation in a computer game should generate both synch and mechanical royalties. This is not the case and instead, a flat fee is paid to the publisher of the work in question in return for the songs use. [Passman, 2011, pg 262]. 

Another interesting sync case to look at in the digital age is Bjork’s release of a digital and interactive “App” in conjunction with an album. This is an innovative idea as music is synced to moving image in an interactive way, in a product will be copied every time the app is downloaded and therefore, generate both synchronization and mechanical royalites for publishers [Kiss, Needham 2013].  

Unfortunately for publishers, it seems that the increase in technology available could lead to difficulties when completing synchronisation deals in the future. Leading music supervisor PJ Bloom suggested that the potential exposure and revenue sales generated through a synchronisation deal are so important, that rights owners should be willing to pay for the right sync deal [Musicweek2013].

Conclusion

Labels and publishers paying for advertising space would indicate a complete shift from the current synchronisation paradigm, as advertisers would no longer be paying for the use of songs. Music Publishers would instead, pay for a works inclusion on an advert, in order to benefit from the exposure that would generate income through other revenue streams. Coupling this with how the digital age has seen mechanical royalties continue to decline, the publishing market looks to become even more challenging [Rogers, 2013, pg 32].

However, the copyright in a song will always be exploited, which means royalties will be generated, even if the money generated becomes spread thin over a number of different revenue streams. If the days of big mechanical royalties are over and synchronisation fees continue to decline, the future could be in song placement. Higher quantities of music in more places all together generating sufficient income could be the future of the publishing world in the 21st century [Musicweek, 2013].

Reference List:

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The Guardian. (2013) American Graffiti. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/film/movie/36298/american-graffiti

(Accessed: 24th October 2013).

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(Accessed: 24th October 2013).

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Krasilovsky, M. W and Shemel, S (2007) This Business Of Music. New York: Watson-Guptill Puplications

Moses, A. (2009) Confessions of a record producer. 4th Edition. Milwaukee: Backbeat Books.

Nichols, S. PEDL Key Account Manager, PRS for Music (2013) Conversation with Danny Dawkins, 27th October.

Passman, D. (2011) All You Need To Know About The Music Business. 7th Edition. London: Penguin Group.

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(Accessed: 24th October 2013).

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http://www.prsformusic.com/aboutus/press/latestpressreleases/Documents/04%20April%202013%20-%20Financial%20results%20briefing%20paper.pdf

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Rogers, Jim 2013, The Death and Life of the Music Industry in the Digital Age, e-book, accessed 24th October 2013, <http://uel.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1172529&gt;.

Marcel Visser (2007) Levi Commercial – Laundrette. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT4DR_ae_4o

(Accessed: October 24th 2013).

Wikström, P. (2009) The Music Industry. Cambridge: Polity Press.