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What is a Tour Cycle?

There are various factors that go into bringing a live show to concert-goers, from making sure you have the venue to perform at as well as the right marketing to push the sales of your tickets. In fact, when producing a tour, the six main parties that work together are booking agents, promoters, tour managers, technicians, labels, and publishers. Although they won’t always be represented by separate entities, it is important to note that they each cover integral responsibilities related to an artist’s tour.

In our guide, we will go through the tour cycle step by step to depict how all these players interact in order to create a successful tour.

Check out some of our other guides on music industry topics at Exploration Learn , or subscribe to our YouTube channel for more information.

In this newsletter:

The Mechanical Licensing Collective has filed a lawsuit against Pandora Media, alleging that the music streaming service underreported and underpaid royalties to rights holders for its "Pandora Free" ad-supported streaming service.

A new research report suggests U.S. listeners age 13+ spend around 20% of their listening time streaming music and 14% on YouTube—for a combined 34% share of time spent listening to audio.

Last month, the governor of Tennessee introduced the 'Elvis Act', expanding personal rights laws to safeguard musicians and celebrities from AI-generated deepfakes. In a recent House Subcommittee hearing, musicians and industry executives testified in support of the legislation, citing concerns about the impact of deepfakes on creativity and reputation.

Now, the details...

Exploration Weekly - February 16, 2024
Compiled by Ana Berberana

The MLC Sues Pandora for Allegedly Underpaying Royalties and Late Fees

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), representing songwriters and music publishers in the US, filed a lawsuit against Pandora Media on Monday (February 12), accusing the music streaming service of underpaying royalties owed to rights holders. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville, alleges that Pandora has been underreporting and underpaying mechanical royalties owed to songwriters and publishers from its “Pandora Free” ad-supported streaming service. The MLC, established by the Music Modernization Act of 2018, serves as the sole entity authorized to collect and distribute these “mechanical royalties” due for the reproduction and distribution of musical works. The lawsuit claims Pandora misrepresented its streaming activity and failed to report royalties for a portion of streams on the “Pandora Free” service. Furthermore, the MLC accuses Pandora of failing to correct the full underpayment as part of its payment of retroactive royalties for 2021 and 2022, despite reminders and a now-missed deadline. The final mechanical royalty rates for these years were determined in August 2023, requiring retroactive adjustments from streaming services like Pandora. “Our team repeatedly sought to resolve this issue directly with Pandora, but Pandora has refused to correct their reporting or royalty payments,” said the MLC’s CEO, Kris Ahrend. The MLC’s lawsuit seeks accurate reporting of song usage, unpaid royalties and late fees dating back to January 1, 2021, along with an order requiring future compliance.

Streaming Audio Accounts for Just 34% of Listening, Edison Report Says

A new research report suggests U.S. listeners age 13+ spend around 20% of their listening time streaming music and 14% on YouTube—for a combined 34% share of time spent listening to audio. AM/FM radio remains king for the U.S. population, with 36% of people still preferring that format for their audio listening. Digital service providers (DSPs) like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and Tidal all account for that 20% of time listening to audio figure. Meanwhile, YouTube is by itself in a category of its own—commanding 14% of time listened to audio. While it’s unclear in the graph, the 14% figure is for YouTube & YouTube Music together. Podcasts are the third-most listened to category for audio consumption, garnering around 11% of time listened. That number has risen since Spotify’s focus on expanding the podcast space, which may explain why the audio giant has its sights set on the audiobooks market now. Audiobooks accounted for just 3% of audio listening, which Spotify obviously thinks it can grow. Will audiobook listening ever crack the double-digit listening percentage? Perhaps with a big enough push from a major DSP like Spotify—since Amazon’s Audible has dominated the audiobook scene for more than a decade. Satellite radio provider SiriusXM accounted for 8% of listening, although the giant is pivoting towards DSP status with its revamp focusing on its music streaming apps rather than its car radio segment. Owned music and TV music channels accounted for less than 5% of listening time, highlighting that while physical formats may be on the rise in terms of sales—they still have very little impact on American listening habits in 2023.

Tennessee Hearing Debates State’s ‘Elvis Act’ AI Legislation

Last month the governor of the US state of Tennessee introduced new legislation – the ‘Elvis Act’. It expanded an existing personal rights law to protect musicians and celebrities from AI-powered deepfakes and cloning models. Yesterday saw the latest step for the new legislation: a House Banking & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee hearing with testimony from people including musician Chrissy Metz, songwriter Jamie Moore and RIAA exec Jessie Richard. “I can attest to the pain and fear coursing through the creative community, knowing that years of committed hard work, countless heartbreaks, sacrifice, unwavering resilience… not to mention our very own character and reputations all can be torn down in a moment by an unaccountable deepfake,” said Metz. “As songwriters and artists, we spend hours scrutinising over our human art. When a machine can take my lived experience in seconds, that is wrong. That is theft. And we need to protect against it,” added Moore. The Elvis Act has taken its next step towards becoming law, but there are some dissenters to the act in its current form. Surprisingly, the film industry is not quite on board with the plans, according to The Tennessee Journal’s report on the hearing. It quoted another evidence-giver, Motion Picture Association exec Ben Sheffner, as warning that the expansion of the existing ‘Right of Publicity’ law “risks interference with our members’ ability to portray real people and events”. He stressed that the MPA supports the music industry’s efforts to tackle deepfakes, but suggested that the bill is “drafted in an overbroad manner that would restrict the type of constitutionally protected speech in which our members engage every day”. The MPA wants the law to crack down on deepfakes – including those used in advertising for example – but not to prevent real people being portrayed in films, TV shows, documentaries and news broadcasts.

“YouTube Isn’t Here”, Says Yout Lawyer in Latest From Legal Battle With RIAA

The legal dispute between the US record industry and stream-ripping site Yout was back in court last week, with the opinions and intentions of YouTube in the spotlight, even though YouTube is not involved in the litigation. However, YouTube's input is crucial, Yout's lawyer argued. And appeals court judge Richard Sullivan seemed to agree, stating at one point that, "right now YouTube’s staying out of it and we’re kind of guessing”. The case centers on whether or not YouTube has technical protection measures in place to stop people grabbing permanent downloads of content that is streaming on the platform. That's because the Recording Industry Association Of America claims that Yout circumvents those measures by facilitating stream-ripping and, in doing so, is in breach of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits such circumvention. You can actually download content from YouTube through a web browser if you know what you are doing, but the process is cumbersome. The fact it is cumbersome is deliberate, the RIAA argues, and therefore that constitutes a technical protection measure. In a lower court the judge agreed with the RIAA on that point. But, according to Yout, he was wrong to reach that conclusion without more rigorous analysis. According to Torrentfreak, Yout's lawyer Evan Fray Witzer said at last week's hearing that- without YouTube being in court to answer questions or even submitting an amicus brief as part of the case - it's impossible to know its intentions regarding technical protection measures. “There is a question as to what YouTube intended with these measures", he told the court. "We don’t know because YouTube isn’t here. YouTube has not come in as an amicus. And we have not had the opportunity to question YouTube about that".

Travis Scott Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement Over “Stargazing” and “Til Further Notice”

Hip-hop artist Travis Scott has been hit with a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement involving his tracks Stargazing and Til Further Notice. The lawsuit was brought by Dion Norman, a New Orleans-based songwriter, CEO of Free World Entertainment and a journalist at The Heat Magazine, along with Derrick “Mellow Fellow” Ordogne, a rap producer who was primarily active in the 1990s. According to a complaint filed with the US District Court for Eastern District of Louisiana on January 25, Scott’s 2018 track Stargazing and his 2023 track Til Further Notice both used unauthorized samples of Bitches (Reply), a track that Norman and Ordogne wrote and recorded in 1991, and which appeared on DJ Jimi’s 1992 album It’s Jimi. The lawsuit alleges that a vocalization of the words “alright, alright, alright” that can be heard at the start of Bitches (Reply) was sampled at six points in Til Further Notice, and also appeared in Stargazing. “Defendants admitted to the unauthorized use of Bitches (Reply) to the plaintiffs when [they] had a sample clearance vendor contact the plaintiffs about clearing the subject sample and interpolated use after the release of [Scott’s] album, Utopia,” claims the complaint.

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