An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Wednesday 28 May 2014

TODAY'S TOP STORY: While Sony Music and Warner Music have attempted to kill the digital royalties litigation against them in the US by offering albeit nominal increases in the cuts paid to veteran artists, it seems Universal Music is still in fighting mood, submitting two motions calling for artist lawsuits to be dismissed last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As much previously reported, there has been... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Talons released their excellent debut album, 'Hollow Realm', way way back in 2010. Who can even remember back that far? Well me, for one. Because otherwise how would I even know to write this? It was a stupid question really. I mean, surely most people can remember back five years. Actually, it's less than four years, if I'm honest. Anyway, 'Hollow Realm' was both excellent and memorable... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Universal calls for myriad digital royalty lawsuits to be dismissed
LEGAL Monster issues statement as Beastie Boys court case kicks off
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Skream fathers 'melodic' new label
A2IM announces new board members
LIVE BUSINESS Ticketscript announces new investment to fuel global expansion
Cornish festival wins ID&C bursary
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify issues security notice
YouTube to add crowdfunding options for creators
MEDIA Billboard's Twitter music charts go live
UTV Radio teams with Paul Hardcastle on a new talent search
ARTIST NEWS Tina Turner denies stroke rumours
RELEASES Brian May reveals unheard Queen LP, 'naughty' We Will Rock You sequel
Cheryl Cole announces solo single, fourth album (kind of)
GIGS & FESTIVALS Kendal Calling launches visual arts fund
Gigs & Tours Round-Up: John Legend, Temper Trap, Kasabian and Erasure
AND FINALLY... Christopher Lee releases birthday metal EP, because why not?
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Universal calls for myriad digital royalty lawsuits to be dismissed
While Sony Music and Warner Music have attempted to kill the digital royalties litigation against them in the US by offering albeit nominal increases in the cuts paid to veteran artists, it seems Universal Music is still in fighting mood, submitting two motions calling for artist lawsuits to be dismissed last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As much previously reported, there has been much dispute over how much of the income stemming from downloads labels are obligated to share with their artists where contracts between the two parties pre-date iTunes and therefore make no mention of digital revenues.

The labels, in the main, have treated downloads like CDs, therefore paying a relatively low cut of the money to artists (usually 15% or less). But some artists and artist attorneys argue that download income stems from a licence not a record sale, and most artist contracts offer a much more generous royalty split on licensing deals (anywhere up to 50%).

A plethora of lawsuits have been filed by veteran artists Stateside in the last few years targeting all three majors, and some of them seeking class action status. Some have been settled out of court, but many are still going through the motions. Universal's latest legal filings on the issue provide a long list of reasons why those lawsuits should be dismissed, some general, some specific to individual claims.

They include the argument that artists were informed of Universal's proposed payment model for downloads in 2002, before the iTunes Store was launched; that that model was actually slightly more generous than the major was contractually obliged to offer; and that many artists and managers welcomed the proposal at the time. Universal concedes that there were some dissenters, but adds that the dissenting artists took too long to go legal (the earliest cases on this point were against Sony), and their lawsuits should therefore be denied on the basis of statute of limitations.

Other arguments contained in Universal's latest papers include: that lawsuits alleging that consumers were hurt by royalty arrangements are invalid because consumers aren't aware of these dealings; that some of the artists suing under Californian law had contracts that were governed by New York law; that 1970s singer Bo Donaldson couldn't sue because of an agreement with his former bandmates that majority participation was required to litigate; and Ron Tyson of The Temptations wasn't party to the crucial contracts because he didn't join the group until 1983.

Though perhaps the most significant argument presented by the mega-major is another point raised in connection with Donaldson, regarding the crucial previous ruling in this domain in FBT Productions v Universal. The early Eminem collaborators ultimately won in their legal bid for a bigger cut of digital income, and it was that ruling that precipitated the flurry of lawsuits on this issue. But Universal has always insisted that FBT's contract was unusual, and therefore the judgement in that case didn't set any kind of industry-wide precedent.

Says Universal in its latest filing: "Few, if any, recording contracts have the starkly dichotomous structure of the contract in FBT. None of plaintiffs' contracts do. Certainly the contract on which plaintiff Bo Donaldson is suing does not. To the contrary, when plaintiffs' theory that UMG 'licenses' downloads to download providers is applied to Donaldson's contract, this actually dictates a lower royalty for downloads than UMG is paying under that contract. Of course, if, under plaintiffs' theory, Donaldson has been overpaid royalties, he cannot maintain claims for underpayment of royalties".

Monster issues statement as Beastie Boys court case kicks off
As expected, the surviving Beastie Boys - Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond - were in court yesterday at the start of their legal battle with the Monster Energy Drink company over the use, without permission, of the rap group's music in a promotional video. Suited but sneakered, Horovitz took to the stand to discuss the Beastie Boys' career and successes, and why they were so adamant that their music should not be used in advertising.

What emerged almost immediately is that the Monster Beverage Corp isn't denying using the Beastie Boys' music in a promotional video without permission, the dispute is over the sum of money the rappers are demanding, which comes to $2 million consisting of infringement damages for each of the five tracks Monster used in its video, and a million for the unauthorised implied endorsement by the group of the drinks brand.

But Monster argues that, while it accepts it used the Beastie Boys' music without permission and is therefore liable to pay some damages, a figure in the region of $125,000 is more appropriate. The company say that the unauthorised usage of the music was an honest mistake, that it removed the video once aware of the error, that not that many people saw it, and the way the tracks were used didn't imply any endorsement.

As the court case got underway yesterday, with plenty of media coverage on the back of Horovitz and Diamond's presence, the company issued a statement setting out its arguments. Starting by asserted that "Monster has no intention of litigating this matter in the media", but that it felt it needed to issue a statement because of media interest in the case, the firm stated: "Monster in good faith believed it had obtained the rights to use a compilation of certain Beastie Boys music for an internet video".

"The video recounted a snowboarding event in Canada that Monster sponsored where the after party featured many Beastie Boys songs played by the DJs in honor of the recent death of one of the Beastie Boys' members. The music that Monster used was provided by one of the DJs, who told Monster he had permission".

"When Monster was notified by the Beastie Boys that the company was mistaken in its belief that it had the proper authorisation, Monster immediately removed the video from the internet. The video received less than 14,000 views during the brief period it was online. This lawsuit is solely about what, if anything, Monster must pay to the Beastie Boys because of Monster's good faith mistake. In Monster's view the Beastie Boys are demanding sums that are far beyond any reasonable fair market value".

The case continues.

Skream fathers 'melodic' new label
Dubstep-denying dance don Skream, aka producer Oliver Jones, is starting up a label that's all his own, having closed down his other one, Disfigured Dubz, last November. The "melodic" new venture is called Of Unsound Mind, and will, as its first move (on 23 Jun), release the new EP from Motions, Bodyhigh affiliate and one-time half of Grown Folk.

When asked by FACT to define the new label's aesthetic last week, Skream said: "The first few releases are definitely very deep, colourful, melodic tracks. There isn't a particular guideline as of yet, just stuff I'm really feeling and artists I feel people need to know about".

Good to know. Cop Of Unsound Mind issue 001 - that Motions' EP - now on SoundCloud.


A2IM announces new board members
The American Association Of Independent Music, A2IM to its mates, has announced the election of five new names to its board of directors, which is all kinds of fun.

They are Razor & Tie President Craig Balsam, Epitaph General Manager Dave Hansen, Hopeless Records chief Louis Posen, Dualtone Music Group CEO Scott Robinson and Tommy Boy top man Thomas Silverman.

Says A2IM President Rich Bengloff of his new board buddies: "27 A2IM label members ran for the A2IM board this year, the most ever, and the quality of candidates confirmed that the A2IM leadership bench is deep. We thank them all for running and offering to serve their indie music label community colleagues".

A2IM also announced the addition of Warp records' Josh Berman, Mack Avenue Records' Denny Stilwell and Compass Records Group's Garry West as members of Bengloff's Advisory Committee. Kill Rock Stars' Portia Sabin, Concord Music Group's Glen Barros and Ole's Jim Selby will meanwhile act as board officers for 2014-2015, and Wind-Up Records General Manager Alan Galbraith has been designated as the group's representative within the Worldwide Independent Network.

One of the trade body's outgoing board members, Beggars Group head Martin Mills, said in a statement: "It's been a privilege to have been part of the A2IM board as an overseas interloper - I am so impressed with the job that both the executives and the board do for our community, and love seeing it go from strength to strength. I shall be cheering the team on from the sidelines, and returning, I hope, after my interregnum".

Let's all start saying 'interregnum' more (or at all) now. As soon as I'm finished with this, I'm going on my lunch interregnum.

Ticketscript announces new investment to fuel global expansion
Self-service ticketing platform ticketscript has this morning confirmed it has secured a new backer in the form of FF&P Private Equity, which will invest £7 million in the business to fuel further global expansion and the development of new services for existing clients.

Confirming the new investor, ticketscript CEO Frans Jonker told CMU: "I am very excited to be able to announce this investment, and believe FF&P Private Equity are the perfect partner to help us to take ticketscript to the next level. ticketscript has a ground-breaking, market-leading ticketing solution and this investment will support our increasing client demand and further international expansion".

Meanwhile FF&P Private Equity Director Henry Sallitt added: "We are delighted to have invested in ticketscript as a truly disruptive service provider in the pan-European ticketing market, and back the management's ambitions to grow their market leading proposition into substantial scale. FF&P Private Equity has been successful in helping its portfolio of entrepreneurial companies to grow their businesses and we look forward to working with ticketscript to help the company develop".


Cornish festival wins ID&C bursary
Security wristband specialist ID&C has announced the winner of its annual Grass Roots Festival Bursary, an award made annually to a festival with a capacity under 15,000 which has been in business for less than ten years.

And the winner of this year's bursary, the fourth to be presented, is the not-for-profit Looe Music Festival in Cornwall, which will receive £2500 towards its "access control requirements" for this year's event, which takes place from 19-21 Sep in the Cornish seaside town.

Over 40 grass roots festivals applied for the bursary this year, with ID&C saying it looks for "a commitment and efforts towards such things as sustainability, charity and community engagement" when deciding which event to support.

On receiving the bursary this time, Looe Music Festival's Director Tanya Brittain told CMU: "I can't express how delighted we all are about receiving the Grass Roots Bursary. We're excited to have the opportunity to work with ID&C this year and benefit from their expertise in access control".

Meanwhile ID&C's Matt Wilkey added: "Looe Music Festival ticks all the boxes for us. Besides its long term commitment to charity, community and sustainability initiatives, there is a real 'by the people, for the people' spirit that has clearly played a major part of the event's growth and success".

Spotify issues security notice
Spotify has issued a security notice after discovering unauthorised access to its systems and company data.

In the statement, CTO Oskar Stål said that an investigation had shown that only one user's account data had actually been accessed in the breach, but that a number of measures would nevertheless be taken to protect others.

Although stressing that the company is "not aware of any increased risk to users", Stål confirmed that in the coming days some users will be prompted to re-login to their accounts, while some users of the company's Android mobile app will also receive an update shortly.

iOS and Windows Phone users are not currently thought to be affected.


YouTube to add crowdfunding options for creators
YouTube has announced plans to add crowdfunding options to its platform as part of a number of new updates, perhaps in a bid to take up the slack once its put the entire independent label sector out of business.

In a new video previewing forthcoming updates for creators, YouTube Product Manager Jehan Ratnatunga noted that some producers of video content are already raising money via crowdfunding services. However, he said, "the problem is, a lot of this funding is happening away from YouTube. So, I've been thinking about how we can do this directly on YouTube, allowing fans to fund the creators that they really love".

YouTube, of course, has come under considerable fire recently for its royalty payments to the music industry, and its negotiating tactics with indie labels as it tries to get a new streaming service off the ground. These crowdfunding options won't do anything to calm that anger, but it will be interesting to see if and how musicians use the crowdfunding options on the video platform once they go live.

Watch the only slightly irritating video about the various new updates coming soon for YouTube content creators here.

Billboard's Twitter music charts go live
Billboard and Twitter yesterday officially launched the previously reported Billboard Twitter Real-Time Charts, which logs the ups and downs of popular songs on the social network over the previous hour, 24 hours, and seven days.

The complicated system takes into account US-based tweets featuring combinations of artist names, songs titles, Twitter handles, hashtags, words like "listen" and streaming links to work out who's hot and who's cooling down like a hot egg in a bucket of ice cream. Should you really want to know more about the system the charts are employing, there is a detailed FAQ right here.

One of the first acts to join the exhausting merry-go-round of tweet lists was Austin Mahone, who performed at a launch event for the new charts and told Billboard: "I am thrilled to be one of the first artists to see my songs move on the Billboard Twitter Charts. For me, it's always about my fans, and I love seeing what all my Mahomies are saying about the new EP - it's exciting that there's finally a platform that tracks what the fans are saying about music in real-time".

Nope, Mahomies still doesn't really work, does it? I vote he renames his fans something else. How about the Austin-tatiouslies? Yes, that's much better.

Anyway, I digress. As well as all the big popular popstars, there will also be charts for emerging artists having their music shared on Twitter - the little guys with fewer than 50,000 followers. Have a look at the 'Trending 140' chart here, and the Emerging Artists chart here.


UTV Radio teams with Paul Hardcastle on a new talent search
The radio division of UTV Media has teamed up with NUA Entertainment, a new venture backed by 'n-n-n-n-n-n-n-nineteen' producer man Paul Hardcastle, to stage a UK-wide talent search for "the next big singing sensation".

Aspiring pop stars are being invited to submit demos to UTV's local stations - which include the Liverpool Juice station, Pulse in Bradford, Peak FM in Derbyshire and the various Signal outfits in the Midlands - with a £100,000 record deal and plenty of airplay exposure over the UTV radio network up for grabs.

Hardcastle, who partnered with entrepreneur Neil Utley on the new NUA Entertainment company earlier this year, told CMU: "I'm really looking forward to seeing the performances at the judging stages which I feel sure, with UTV's involvement, will be of a high quality".

Meanwhile UTV Radio's Group Programme Director Terry Underhill added: "This is the biggest prize that UTV's local stations have ever given away and we know our talented listeners will be really keen to win it".

  Approved: Talons
Talons released their excellent debut album, 'Hollow Realm', way way back in 2010. Who can even remember back that far? Well me, for one. Because otherwise how would I even know to write this? It was a stupid question really. I mean, surely most people can remember back five years. Actually, it's less than four years, if I'm honest.

Anyway, 'Hollow Realm' was both excellent and memorable, a collection of heavy instrumental rock soundscapes with layers of violin adding extra drama into the mix. But since then the band have released precisely zero albums. And that is a fact that will remain true until 4 Aug this year, when Talons release album number two, 'New Topographics'.

The first single from the new record, 'The Wild Places', is available for SoundCloud-based listening now, and shows that they have lost none of the energy of their debut. The band will also be touring in September, including a date at Birthdays in London on 12 Sep - full dates here.
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Tina Turner denies stroke rumours
Tina Turner has denied a report in a German newspaper that she recently suffered a stroke while preparing for a holiday in Austria.

The report quoted a man who claimed to be the singer's driver, saying: "She had a mild stroke, but is well on the road to recovery. Tina had to cancel her holiday to recover, [but] she has already managed a smile for her partner Erwin Bach".

A spokesperson for the singer denied that the man quoted was Turner's driver, or that she had been planning to holiday in Austria, while adding that her client had definitely not had a stroke, mild or otherwise. The rep added: "The fact is that Tina enjoys excellent health".

Brian May reveals unheard Queen LP, 'naughty' We Will Rock You sequel
Brian May has confirmed what was first hinted at last year, mainly that a compilation of as-yet unreleased Queen "ballads" featuring 'lost' vocals by the band's late lead singer Freddie Mercury is on its way. And hey, it appears it might have at least one of Mercury's shelved sing-songs with Michael Jackson on it, since those remain unaired even in the wake of Jackson's post-death solo LP, 'Xscape'.

May, of course, announced in November that a horde of Mercury's old studio recordings, most of which date back to the 1980s, had been found in Queen's archive vaults. It's those that'll form the basis of the collection, titled 'Queen Forever', which backs up the vocal tracks with present-day instrumentals made on ProTools.

And talking of ProTools, Brian May had a lot to say about sound editing software in relation to the 'lost' compilation, or "restoration job" in his words. It was all 'ProTools this' and 'ProTools that' in a recent chat with BBC Radio Wales.

This is what he said: "Well most of it comes from the 80s when we were in full flight, so it's quite emotional. It's kind of the big, big ballad and the big, big epic sound. It wouldn't've been if we hadn't done this restoration and had to start from scratch - we only had scraps, but knowing how it would've happened if we'd finished it then, I can sit there and make it happen, with modern technology. We have ProTools these days. You can do almost anything in ProTools".

Including write a "naughty" and "kinda wicked" follow-on musical to May and Ben Elton's Queen-themed 'We Will Rock You', if May's BBC Radio Wales chit-chat is in any way true. Which surely it must be, mustn't it?

Bri said he and 'WWRY' co-writer Ben Elton had "very secretly and quietly" previewed a sequel to the West End show, which is set to close this week, to a test-crowd, adding: "Everybody loved it, so we're looking for a theatre. It's kinda wicked. It's very naughty. It's a little naughtier than the first one".


Cheryl Cole announces solo single, fourth album (kind of)
On-off 'X-Factor' starlet Cheryl Cole is going back to what she did originally to earn her keep: pop artistry.

Chez revealed this week that she has a new solo LP waiting in the wings for release in November, her first since 2012's 'A Million Lights', and fourth since time began. And whilst acting all coy as to its title, she did confirm the name of its first single, 'Crazy Stupid Love', so that's a meagre detail to chew on in the meantime.

CC will apparently sing (or at least mime and dance in time to) the track live on one of the forthcoming 'Britain's Got Talent' live shows. After which, hearsay has it, she'll plonk it straight onto iTunes. Plonk.

Kendal Calling launches visual arts fund
The Kendal Calling festival has announced a new £10,000 commissioning fund for visual artists, called Beyond Infinity, in partnership with Eden Arts and FutureEverything, and supported by Arts Council England.

The event is calling on established and emerging visual artists for submissions incorporating digital media with an emphasis on sculpture, light projections and installations, in keeping with this year's festival theme, 'Kendal Calling goes beyond the stars'.

Six artists will be commissioned to show their work at this year's Kendal Calling, one receiving £5000 and five others getting £1000 each.

Kendal Calling Director Ben Robinson told CMU: "We are thrilled to announce this new opportunity for visual artists to bring work to the festival. Working with Arts Council England, Eden Arts and FutureEverything will add a whole new dimension to this year's event".

Artists can submit their work here. This year' Kendal Calling takes place from 1-3 Aug.


Gigs & Tours Round-Up: John Legend, Temper Trap, Kasabian and Erasure
Extra 'Ordinary' soul man John Legend has foretold of a tour he's doing in October. Starting on 6 Oct at the Manchester Apollo, it winds on through Newcastle, Cardiff, Nottingham and Birmingham on 7, 9, 10 and 12 Oct, and alights finally on 13 Oct at London's Hammersmith Apollo. The dates go to support John's fourth LP, 'Love In The Future', which encompasses my all-time fave hit of his, 'All Of Me'. Link to listings for the so called #AllOfMeTour via this page.

Next, it's The Temper Trap! Who are back in all senses of the term. The band are playing three extremely 'intimate' (ie relatively tiny) sets at Oslo, in London, on 21, 22 and indeed 23 Jul. Not only 'intimate', but also rare, since the shows will be the first TTT have headlined in over a year. Vocalist Dougy Mandagi catches the mood in-camp like so, also managing to slip in a hint re new material: "We're all really excited about the direction the new tracks are taking and we can't wait to play them live to our fans for the first time. These will be our most intimate shows in a very long time".

And what's more, Kasabian have added a big new gig to their timetable, which sure is looking quite frantic right now. But wait! It's for War Child, so I'll spare the Kasabian jibes, and instead go ahead and inform you that the show will 'go down' at the Shepherd's Bush Empire on 18 Jun, with all takings from tickets (which are £50 a pop) going to the charity. Kasabian are, as is unavoidable public info, putting out their new album '48:13' on 9 Jun, but that's quite beside the point.

Kasabian's Tom Meighan, meanwhile, says this: "That children suffer in war is unacceptable, and it's important that War Child are there to do something about it. We couldn't be happier to again help them in their vital work with a concert we're really looking forward to".

Well-versed synth wizards Vince Clarke and Andy Bell, aka Erasure, are releasing an LP mixed by high-gloss pop pope Richard X. Its title is 'The Violet Flame', and Erasure are due to set its campaign trail alight by playing a whole heap of shows aaaall over the world.

Of those taking place in the UK and Ireland, the first is at Belfast's Ulster Hall on 8 Nov, and the final one is on 30 Nov at the Manchester Apollo. Check details of what's going on in the interim via the Erasure gigs listings page, and view a taster trailer for 'The Violet Flame', which is arriving on 22 Sep, here.

Christopher Lee releases birthday metal EP, because why not?
So cool-and-sinister (pretend) wizard Christopher Lee likes to moonlight as a kind of operatic rockstar. That's just a fact of life. One of the strangest and most enduringly true of all.

Lee this week celebrated his 92nd year on the planet by releasing a mini-LP titled 'Metal Knight', featuring heavy metal remakes of 'The Impossible Dream', Frank Sinatra's 'My Way', and some songs off of 'Man Of La Mancha' (the Broadway stage adaptation of 'Don Quixote'), each of which he seems to have approached as if it's a part in a play or film.

Or that's what I took from watching this clip, in which he talks long and hard about each track, and what it means to him. And by long and hard, I mainly mean long. Shouts to whomsoever edited the trailer, which is watchable, highly so, here.

ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletin and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business, and is MD of CMU publisher UnLimited Media.
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ALY BARCHI | Staff Writer
Aly reports on artist news, coordinates the festival, gig and release round up columns, and contributes to the CMU Approved column. She also writes for CMU's sister title ThisWeek London.
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Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, plus helps manage and deliver the CMU Insights training courses and consultancy services.
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Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of UnLimited Media she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
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