TODAY'S TOP STORY: Cardi B has gone legal in a dispute with her former manager Klenord Raphael, aka Shaft. She is seeking to have both management and recording contracts she signed with Raphael declared void... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Cardi B sues former manager who tried to enforce contacts
LEGAL Music industry comments on copyright directive ruling
Rick Ross can't bail on cancelled gig case because his business associates negotiated deal
German court says Usenet provider liable for its users' copyright infringement
Sony/ATV seeks dismissal of latest case over Beatles concert documentary
ARTIST NEWS Stormzy launches book publishing imprint, announces book
RELEASES Christine And The Queens talks about her second album
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #411: Drake haters v Spotify
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Cardi B sues former manager who tried to enforce contacts
Cardi B has gone legal in a dispute with her former manager Klenord Raphael, aka Shaft. She is seeking to have both management and recording contracts she signed with Raphael declared void.

The rapper, real name Belcalis Almanzar, has actually filed a countersuit in response to litigation launched by Raphael back in April. He is mainly seeking to enforce the contracts Almanzar signed with his companies WorldStar and KSR, though his lawsuit also had some defamation claims thrown in there for good measure.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Almanzar's lawsuit states in a rather long sentence that: "This case arises out of the deceitful and disloyal conduct of a self-serving and controlling personal manager, counter-defendant Klenord 'Shaft' Raphael, and his entities through which he does business, WorldStar and KSR, who together, among other things, breached their contractual and fiduciary duties to counter-plaintiff Belcalis Almanzar, an immensely talented and trusting young artist".

The rapper concedes that she had a management agreement with WorldStar, but says that the company is in breach of contract for failing to appoint an independent business manager, provide monthly accounts and make regular payments to her. Almanzar then disputes the separate recording agreement, in part because Raphael allegedly had the same attorney represent both her and his company for most of the negotiations around that deal.

Raphael and his businesses are yet to respond to Almanzar's counter-suit.


Music industry comments on copyright directive ruling
The European Parliament yesterday voted down the latest draft of the new European Copyright Directive, which had previously been passed by the Parliament's own JURI Committee. It was the music industry's favourite proposal in the directive, the safe harbour reforming article thirteen, that proved most controversial in the run up to the vote. The tech lobby got very active late in the day shouting to anyone who would listen about how articles eleven and thirteen together would 'break the internet'.

Yesterday's vote means that the latest round of European copyright reform will now need more debate in September. And whereas previous discussions around the draft copyright directive - as put together by the European Commission in 2016 - have taken place in relevant committees within the Parliament, this time every single MEP will be able to join in. So that will be fun.

Meanwhile, a long line of reps for the music community lined up yesterday to comment on the big vote in the European Parliament. It was a missed opportunity, don't you know? Misinformation, misinformation, misinformation! But you know what? Onwards and upwards, we're sure all those MEPs will vote the right way in the autumn.

That's the basic gist of the music industry's position. But for fans of quotes, here's a bunch more in addition to the remarks from IMPALA, GESAC, BPI and PRS which we published shortly after the vote yesterday.

Jean Michel Jarre, President of global song right collecting society grouping CISAC: "Today is a great disappointment for millions of creators who have campaigned for years for the right to fair treatment and fair payment from giant internet platforms. It is incredibly disappointing that, having been ferociously lobbied by opponents using false arguments, the European Parliament has stopped short of supporting the fair rights of creators. Our fight will go on, for the future of our culture and for a fair, modern well-regulated internet".

Gadi Oron, Director General of CISAC: "Today's vote is a missed opportunity to fix one of the biggest problems in today's digital market. It leaves an unfair situation in which the value of creative works, instead of benefitting their creators, is being used to enrich global technology platforms. CISAC will continue to campaign worldwide for a fair digital market for our members".

David El Sayegh, Secretary General of French collecting society SACEM: "This vote is a set-back but it is not the end. SACEM remains dedicated to ensuring that creators are recognised and remunerated for the value of their work. We will not be discouraged by today's decision and will continue to mobilise the support of musicians and music lovers across the world, in the hopes of reaching a fair agreement with these platforms that will safeguard the future of the music industry. We are confident that the European Parliament will eventually support a framework that fully acknowledges the rights of creators in the digital landscape of the 21st Century".

Crispin Hunt, Chair of the British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers and Authors: "While we are disappointed that the campaign of misinformation has undermined the vote on article thirteen, we can be emboldened by the strength of voice and argument coming from across the creative community. Thousands of songwriters, authors and composers, large and small, are standing united to fight for fair compensation for the use of their copyright on the internet. This issue will not go away and the fight will continue. We call on all music creators to join us as we campaign ahead of the next debate in September".

Paul Pacifico, CEO of the UK's Association Of Independent Music: "It is a shame not to have got resolution for performers and songwriters in today's committee vote on the JURI text. However, it is right that such an important and complex issue be given full consideration by parliament in a second reading. I remain optimistic that the European Parliament will cut through the fake news and massive lobbying spend by big tech and support creators by voting in favour of a diverse and level playing field for artists and culture for the future".

Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the UK's Music Managers Forum: "It was disappointing that today's vote didn't go through. This would be an important stepping stone towards a properly functioning market, and we believe the proposal would increase the levers available to UK music makers to achieve fair, proportionate and transparent remuneration for the use of their music online. We will be working closely with our colleagues at UK Music and in the wider industry in the build up to the European Parliament's vote on the directive in September".

Michael Dugher, CEO of UK Music: "This is a sad day for everyone involved in the creativity that is behind Britain's world-leading music. It is desperately disappointing that a small majority of MEPs have backed Google's shabby multi-million euro campaign of fake news and misinformation against creators. Frankly, in some cases MEPs were naive. In others cases, they have chosen to wilfully disregard the plight of creators. These proposals would make a real difference to our creators, to those that invest in them and to all of us who value our culture".

"Google's YouTube is the world's most popular music platform, yet it deliberately chooses to return a pittance to those whose creativity it has built its multi-billion pound business model on. Google remain the vultures that feed off music creators. The fact remains that this must end. We sincerely thank the 278 MEPs who backed reform and look forward to engaging positively with all MEPs on the opportunities to develop the directive further. We may have lost this particular round, but the fight to ensure fairness for music creators goes on".


Rick Ross can't bail on cancelled gig case because his business associates negotiated deal
A US judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit against Rick Ross over a cancelled show. Said judge ruled that the rapper can't sidestep liability for the cancellation, and the subsequent alleged failure to return advances, simply because a third party negotiated the original deal to play on his behalf.

Ross was booked to play a stadium venue near Pittsburgh last summer. He pulled out at the very last minute citing ill-health. The owners of the venue then went legal in August, claiming that more than half of a $150,000 deposit it had paid to Ross's reps for the show was yet to be returned following the cancellation.

Ross and various business associates were named as defendants in the lawsuit. He has since tried to get himself excused from the litigation on the basis that he wasn't part of the conversation or deal making with venue owner WCFE ahead of the show.

However, according to Law 360, US judge Lisa Lenihan has ruled that that fact is irrelevant given entertainment industry norms. She stated this week: "Ross's arguments in support of dismissal primarily centre around the alleged lack of dealings between WCFE and Ross. Most of these arguments crumble after taking ... agency principles into account".

The ruling goes on: "The fact that Ross spends the bulk of his brief disclaiming liability on the grounds that it was not he, but other individuals and entities ... that had dealing with WCFE and each other, while at the same time conveniently failing to address the alleged intertwining relationships between himself and those entities ... confirms that it would be premature to decide these issues on a motion to dismiss".

So, the case continues.


German court says Usenet provider liable for its users' copyright infringement
The European Parliament yesterday voted down proposals to increase the liabilities of platforms that facilitate the distribution of music without licence. But earlier this week German collecting society GEMA was welcoming a ruling in the Hamburg courts regarding the liabilities of one such platform, UseNeXT.

UseNeXT provides access to the plethora of Usenet newsgroups. The sharing of unlicensed music and movie files via Usenet - a platform for sharing information online that long pre-dates the web - has bothered copyright owners for a long time, even though such sharing never quite got to the top of the piracy gripe list. GEMA has been trying to argue that UseNeXT and its owner Aviteo should be liable for the copyright infringement of its users for years.

Beyond the pesky safe harbours that the further delayed European Copyright Directive may or may not reform, extra questions are raised where platforms help users access unlicensed content but don't actually host said content on their servers. And even more so when the sharing of links to such infringing content sits alongside a whole host of other legitimate chatting and linking.

However, in a recent albeit not-yet-binding ruling, the Regional Court Of Hamburg ruled that under German law platforms like UseNeXT can be liable for their users copyright infringement if their business model somehow promotes the uploading and distribution of unlicensed copyright material. And with that in mind, it deemed that Aviteo is liable for copyright infringement in this specific case, seemingly because of tools it provides that specifically seek out music and movie content.

GEMA's Dr Tobias Holzmüller said earlier this week that the ruling in this case was a "groundbreaking success" for the society's songwriter and music publisher members. He went on: "Online services such as UseNeXT are responsible and can not hide behind legal privileges. The judges have created an important precedent for claims for damages in the field of internet piracy".

What damages Aviteo should pay GEMA is still to be ascertained, and the tech company could as yet appeal the ruling.


Sony/ATV seeks dismissal of latest case over Beatles concert documentary
Sony/ATV has asked a New York court to dismiss the latest legal battle in relation to a documentary film about the first ever Beatles concert Stateside.

This dispute goes back years, when in 2013 a company called Ace Arts sued the Sony music publisher for going back on a provisional agreement to license the use of certain songs in its documentary. Said doc features footage of the fab four's first ever US concert in Washington in 1964 in which they perform songs controlled by Sony/ATV.

Ace Arts said that Sony/ATV had agreed to provide a licence to allow those songs to be featured in the documentary, but then withdrew that licence citing a clause that said the deal was subject to the approval of Beatles company Apple Corps. Ace Arts alleged that the licence was withdrawn because Apple and Sony had decided to collaborate on their own documentary about the Washington show.

While that lawsuit went through the motions in the US, another legal battle in relation to the use of the Beatles footage in the Ace Arts documentary went before the High Court in the UK in 2015. Sony and Apple won that case, resulting in the music publisher requesting that the US action be dismissed. Which it subsequently was.

But now there is a new dispute over a reworked version of the documentary. Ace Arts reckons that the new version uses the 1964 concert footage in such a way that the inclusion of Sony/ATV controlled songs is now 'fair use' under American copyright law.

The fair use argument was actually unsuccessfully used in the UK case. Though it was noted at the time that the producer of the documentary could re-edit the film in a bid to make it compliant with the fair use principle of American copyright.

However, Sony/ATV argues that the new version of the documentary now being peddled by Ace Arts nevertheless breaches an injunction issued by the UK court in relation to future use of the footage that made up the film.

Things are complicated by the involvement of a company called WPMC Ltd in the UK lawsuit. WMPC was a partner of Ace Arts in this project and seemingly controlled the master copy of the documentary. It went into liquidation after the 2015 ruling in the High Court, and it seems that Sony bought the rights in the master copy from the liquidator, subsequently assigning those rights over to Apple Corp.

All of which, Sony/ATV reckons, means Ace Arts does not have the right to distribute even the reworked documentary. It also reckons that any litigation involving the distribution of the film in the US must now involve Apple, as it is the owner of the rights in the original footage being exploited.

It is Ace Arts that kick-started the latest legal action in relation to its documentary, as it seeks the all-clear to distribute its film without Sony/ATV's interference.

Responding to that lawsuit, Sony/ATV wrote this week - according to Law 360 - that: "Despite the explicit requirements of the UK injunction order ... Ace now claims that it has re-edited the original documentary ... the contents of which it has not disclosed, the authority for which is nonexistent and its possession of such original documentary being in violation of the UK injunction order".


Vigsy's Club Tip: Layo & Bushwacka's Soho Block Party
This is a new monthly takeover at The Blue Post, a pub in Soho run by Layo and his sister. It'll be an intimate gathering for sure, with Layo & Bushwacka on the decks promising a damn fine mix of house, breaks, hip hop and plenty more along the way.

The music will be on the ground floor, but there are three bars in this building, with food in the basement and cocktails up on the first floor. Given the intimacy, I suspect it'll be hard to get in tonight, but see if you can blag it! Otherwise there's a mailing list to get the heads up on future editions.

Friday 6 Jul, The Blue Posts, 28 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DJ, 9pm-2am, £10.

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Stormzy launches book publishing imprint, announces book
Stormzy is now a book publisher as a result of a new alliance with Penguin Random House's William Heinemann division. #Merky Books will publish two to three titles a year and "form a home for a new generation of voices".

The first voice of that new generation is, well, Stromzy himself, obviously. The first book to come out of the new imprint will be the rapper's own 'Rise Up', which will be available for some quality reading from November. As well as Stormzy's own words on, well, rising up I guess, it will also feature "never-before-seen photographs, annotated lyrics and contributions from those closest to him". Good times.

Says the man himself: "When I was in school I fell in love with literature and looking back it's safe to say that this was the start of a life-long journey with words, poetry and writing. I read books religiously and often wrote poems which were undeniably setting me up for a career as a songwriter and a rapper".

He goes on: "We've created #Merky Books for many reasons. The first, simply, for it to be a reference point for talented young writers to say 'I can be an author', and for that to be a feasible and realistic achievement and not something in the distance. We hope this imprint will instill belief and ambition in young writers, making publishing seem less prohibitive and making the dream of being a published author a reality".

"We want #Merky Books to be a source of confidence", he adds, "and I look forward to publishing writers from all different walks of life, especially those who may have never had the opportunity to get into the industry so early".


Christine And The Queens talks about her second album
Christine And The Queens has announced details of her second album, called 'Chris', which will be released by Because Music on 21 Sep.

Chatting about the new record, she notes how her debut album 'Chaleur Humaine' was mostly "about teenage years - loneliness, really true feelings, and there is a softness in the way I wrote as well, because I was properly introducing myself".

'Chris', meanwhile, "gets to be a bit more exhilarating, because I get to say, okay, I've been introduced now. I get to be more confident". That additional confidence, she adds, is partly possible because album number one turned her from a "reclusive, bookish young woman", mainly writing songs for her own amusement, into "an athlete performer - which is something I always wanted - but it happened!"

"The second album could have been me finding a fancy producer in LA and doing the pop shit", she goes on, "but actually, no, I wanted to make it even more personal".

Having already put out one track from the new album, 'Girlfriend', another has now gone live called 'Doesn't Matter', which you can listen to here.


Beef Of The Week #411: Drake haters v Spotify
I think it's fair to say that Spotify went big on the arrival of Drake's new album 'Scorpion' last weekend, heavily pushing both him and his mediocre musical offerings via its playlists and platform.

The big push didn't go unnoticed. Which I guess is the point of a big push. Drake fans were presumably pleased to find their idol's face popping up all over the Spotify app. But those less enamored with the weirdly popular, platinum-selling, original dominator and record setter of the streaming age found the OTT Drake-peddling rather annoying.

Some on the social networks mused that so OTT was the big Drake push, that it all felt rather like advertising. Which is fine if you're a freeloader on the freebie version of the streaming service, but for those paying a monthly fee, the idea is that that financial commitment ensures the Spotify experience is ad free.

One premium subscriber messaged the streaming firm's customer support to make that very point. "I just messaged Spotify customer service on their website and told them I wanted a refund since this is advertising and I pay for premium with no ads", he wrote on the music pages of Reddit.

And the mini-moan worked, it seems. "They have now refunded my last payment" he added, providing a screen grab of his conversation with Spotify's customer service reps. "Complain, take your money back, and let them know you will cancel if they pull this shit again. Money talks. Money walking away talks".

Cue a flurry of other Spotify subscribers demanding refunds for having to look at Drake's face so much. Though most weren't as lucky as the original Reddit poster, with Spotify insisting that the Drake promo was editorially-driven and therefore not advertising.

To be fair, we didn't get any TV licence fee money back that time the BBC went totally OTT on U2 having a new record to sell. Nor did Apple provide any refunds when they forced another new U2 record onto everyone's iPhones. And being forced to look at Drake's smug face - or even being forced to listen to the opening bars of one of his tedious tunes - can't possibly be any worse than having Bono's sanctimonious wafflings and warblings inserted into your brain without any kind of forewarning.

Though part of you wonders why in the streaming age big pushes of big albums can't be a little more targeted. I mean, for starters, targeted to those playlists where Drake naturally belongs, rather than scattered across all sorts of playlists where neither he nor his music makes any sense whatsoever.

But also targeted to the individual user. Because wasn't that one of the big sells of the big shift to streams? That these new fangled streaming platforms were going to help you individually find the music you love, whether that's former favourites you've long forgotten about, or new artists and new tracks that you don't love yet, but the machine will do the matchmaking, because the machine understands.

In the early days of the streaming market there was lots of talk about whether machines or humans should do the curating on these emerging platforms. Of course there's a bit of both on most of the big streaming services today, though for music marketers it's the small group of human beings in control of the biggest playlists that matter.

Faced with the prospect of having an AI or a genuine music fan in control of what you listen to, it's perhaps tempting to assume the latter is always going to 'get' you better. And when the streaming services first started to gained momentum, it seemed like they were really missing a trick by not hiring the services of all the mainly human music programmers working in the radio sector, who knew how to compellingly curate some tunes for people to enjoy listening to.

Then Apple and Spotify went into overdrive recruiting that talent, subsequently getting much more into the playlist curation game, pushing their own human made lists of songs ever more to the fore in their apps and platforms. And so more elements of the radio listening experience began to appear on the streaming services. And the labels responded by pitching to the playlisters at these companies in exactly the same way they pitched to heads of music in the radio world.

But then, however good the playlist and the playlisters, what about the truly personalised listening experience? OK, maybe the machines weren't quite as good at that as we hoped. Opinion always seemed very divided about Spotify's Discover Weekly, though some love it, and it definitely does a better job than most of the earlier personalised playlist set-ups. Plus, of course, this tech is getting better all the time and the data that tech can crunch ever more bountiful.

Which makes me wonder whether the era of a small number of human-curated playlists being so influential in the steaming domain may - in the end - turn out to be relatively shortlived. And if so, the frenzied pitching of tracks to that small group of humans may also be a temporary blip in the evolution of music marketing.

Of course major labels with big releases will always want to go big, and streaming services wanting access to the big names behind those big releases may feel the need to comply. But maybe in the future the machines can intervene a little, so that Spotify and Universal can go big on Drake in the feeds of those who appreciate his special brand of mediocrity, while keeping him the fuck away from my streaming experience.

Forget the humans, bring on the machines I say.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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