TODAY'S TOP STORY: An artist advocacy group in the US has come out in support of the acts who recently sued Universal Music and Sony Music in cases that will test if and how the termination right in American copyright law applies to sound recordings... [READ MORE]
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Monday evenings in Mar 2019
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TOP STORIES US advocacy group backs artists in termination rights case against the majors
LEGAL Another Local Radio Freedom Act proposed in the US
Michael Jackson estate goes legal over HBO documentary
LIVE BUSINESS Live Nation buys Norway's Tons Of Rock festival
Amy Winehouse hologram tour on hold
BRANDS & MERCH Stansted Airport to put on gig in its departure lounge
RELEASES Ezra Furman adds covers EP to digital services
AND FINALLY... Breakdancing could become an Olympic sport in 2024
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SJM Concerts is seeking a Marketing Assistant to work as part of our busy marketing team to maximise exposure of events promoted by the company.

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Vision Nine Group is seeking to recruit a Senior Festivals Manager to take a leading role in the Event Management team working across our award-winning portfolio of festivals and events.

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US advocacy group backs artists in termination rights case against the majors
An artist advocacy group in the US has come out in support of the acts who recently sued Universal Music and Sony Music in cases that will test if and how the termination right in American copyright law applies to sound recordings.

Artists including David Johansen of the New York Dolls filed litigation earlier this month seeking to reclaim ownership of old recordings released by the majors. Under US copyright law, creators who assign their rights to a third party have a one-time opportunity to terminate that assignment and reclaim their copyrights - for America only - after 35 years.

The termination right originates in 1970s copyright law so has only really become relevant in recent years. On the songs side of the music business, plenty of songwriters are now exercising this right to reclaim copyrights that were part of long-term assignment deals with music publishers back in the day.

However, on the recordings side many record companies argue that - because record deals are work-for-hire agreements, making the label the artist's employer - the label is the default owner of any recording copyrights created under those arrangements. Which means no rights were ever assigned by the artist, so there is no assignment to terminate.

But plenty of artists, managers and lawyers disagree, mainly by arguing that record deals are not, in fact, work-for-hire agreements. That argument is a key element of the two lawsuits filed earlier this month which, if successful, could result in a flood of heritage artists seeking to reclaim their American recording rights.

That legal action has now been backed by the Artist Rights Alliance, a lobbying group previously known as the Content Creators Coalition which includes artists like Rosanne Cash, John McCrea and Tift Merrit as active members.

It said in a statement yesterday: "Recently, several featured artists filed a class action lawsuit against Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment challenging the labels' stonewalling of artist efforts to reclaim rights to their work they are owed under law. We strongly support the artists in this case and the right of all creators to reclaim control of their work as permitted by federal copyright law".

The Alliance reckons that it is "beyond dispute that the Copyright Act of 1976 allows artists to take back full ownership of their works 35 years after release. However, it appears that in too many cases artists attempting to exercise this right have been met with evasion, foot dragging, or unfounded rejection of their claims altogether".

The statement then notes how, early on in their careers, artists usually have to except unfavourable deals in order to access investment and marketing, and that is why the termination right was introduced. "The federally guaranteed power to terminate grants of copyright ownership and reclaim personal rights to work is one of very few protections we have", it adds, "a guarantee that, eventually, regardless of the vagaries of label contracts, we will eventually have full rights to and control over our art and its long-term legacy".

The group then says: "We don't question the value of labels or the vital role they play in launching artistic careers. But they are well paid for these efforts. Fundamentally, however, as Congress has recognised, at some point featured artists must have full ownership and control of the rights to their own work. No one pursues their passion hoping to enter perpetual indentured servitude and no artist can be impelled to contract away the inescapable tie between a creator and his or her expressive work".

"We've proudly partnered with labels in our careers and our advocacy and we respect their contribution to the music ecosystem immensely", it concludes. "But this is not how partners treat each other. Labels must treat us and our art with respect and dignity - now and 35 years from now. We stand in solidarity with the artists filing these lawsuits and hope this injustice is remedied immediately and that all record labels commit to honouring artist termination rights in the future".


Another Local Radio Freedom Act proposed in the US
Law-makers in the US have proposed a nifty bit of legislation in Washington which aims to radically not alter the law regarding what royalties AM and FM radio stations in the US should pay into the music industry. It might as well be called the Let's Not Change Anything Act, but instead goes by the name of the Local Radio Freedom Act.

US copyright law is unusual in that, when it comes to sound recordings, it only provides copyright owners with digital performing rights. Which means that, while AM/FM radio stations have to pay royalties to music publishers and songwriters, they pay no money to record labels and artists for the music they play. Only online and satellite radio stations have royalty obligations to the music industry.

The record industry, of course, has been lobbying for years to try and get a general performing right added to the sound recording copyright Stateside, so to bring US law in line with much of the rest of the world. It's because of those efforts that the radio industry lobbies for its own legislation that supports the status quo.

This isn't the first time a Local Radio Freedom Act has been proposed, and the whole endeavour is really about providing a useful list of Congress members who would oppose any efforts by the record industry to get full performing rights. 124 members of Congress have so far formally backed the latest Local Radio Freedom Act.

Responding, the musicFIRST Coalition, which has long lobbied Washington on behalf of the record industry on this issue, said yesterday: "The Local Radio Freedom Act has once again been introduced in the House and Senate. The resolution, backed by the National Association Of Broadcasters, falsely asserts that paying artists for their work is a 'tax'.

A spokesman for the Coalition, Trevor Francis, added: "Here we go again. The NAB will dedicate months and spend millions accumulating names on a motion that falsely protects 'local radio' and that will never become law. Meanwhile, the radio marketplace continues to change for NAB's members, and not for the better. The NAB may want to focus less on lobbying in DC and more on how radio can provide music fans the innovation they want in today's digital world".

Of course, as radio reinvents itself online, broadcasters do have to pay royalties to the record industry, because of the aforementioned digital performing rights.


Michael Jackson estate goes legal over HBO documentary
The Michael Jackson estate has gone legal over HBO's new documentary that puts the spotlight on child abuse allegations made against the late king of pop.

Reps for the estate have already called on the US broadcaster to drop 'Leaving Neverland', which premiered at the recent Sundance film festival and is now due to air in both the US and the UK next month, on HBO and Channel 4 respectively. The documentary features two men who accuse Jackson of abusing them as children.

The estate argues that the two alleged victims are not credible, and that the film's director Dan Reed failed to interview anyone who would have defended Jackson against their allegations. But HBO has insisted it will still screen the programme.

Hence the legal action. But on what grounds are the estate's lawyers suing? Libel? Personality rights? Copyright? No, breach of contract of course! According to legal papers, back in 1992 HBO entered into a contract with Jackson when it aired a Bucharest date on his 'Dangerous Tour', and that contract had a non-disparagement clause in it. Which, the estate now say, precludes HBO from disparaging the singer in any of its future works.

The lawsuit also notes that HBO's current chief Richard Plepler was already working at the WarnerMedia-owned media firm back in 1992 so "must have known, or should have known, about HBO's contract with Jackson".

For its part, HBO insists that the screening of 'Leaving Neverland' will go ahead. It said in a statement: "Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged. HBO will move forward with the airing of 'Leaving Neverland', the two-part documentary, on 3 and 4 Mar. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves".


Live Nation buys Norway's Tons Of Rock festival
This week's Live Nation Nordic festival acquisition? Tons Of Rock. That being the Norwegian fest that presents, well tons of rock. Rock music that is. Of the heavier variety.

"We have worked with Tons Of Rock from the very beginning and are excited about our future with the festival", says Martin Nielsen of Live Nation Norway. "The Tons Of Rock team have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the festival and to audience experience".

One of that team, Jarle Kvåle, adds: "We are ready to take the next step in the festival's journey. After five successful years in Halden we saw potential for further growth. We found the perfect venue at Ekebergsletta in Oslo and wanted a strong strategic partner who would help us continue to grow. The answer was obvious, and close at hand, Live Nation Norway".

The new deal sees Live Nation take a majority stake of the Tons Of Rock business. It comes just a week after Live Nation confirmed it had also bought Finnish hip hop festival Blockfest.


Amy Winehouse hologram tour on hold
Plans for an Amy Winehouse hologram tour have been put on hold, despite the venture having the backing of the late singer's father and plans for it to raise funds for the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

The show's producer, BASE Hologram, said it had "encountered some unique challenges and sensitivities" that have forced them to reassess the project.

The company's boss Brian Becker added in a statement: "Sometimes in developing this type of highly ambitious, state of the art hologram/augmented reality theatrical event we encounter some unique challenges and sensitivities that cause us to take a step back".

"Developing our productions is a cross between a Broadway show and a concert spectacle which requires creative engineering and that type of creativity does not necessarily follow a schedule" he went on. "And that's what happened with Amy Winehouse".

"We promised to celebrate her life in the most respectful way possible - as we did with Roy Orbison and Maria Callas - and to ensure we keep that promise we are putting the tour on hold while we plot out a creatively spectacular production fitting of her remarkable career".


Stansted Airport to put on gig in its departure lounge
Stansted Airport will next month present an afternoon of gigs in its departure lounge because, well, I don't know, but they are.

Lotto Boyzz, Jammer, The Magic Gang and Eliza And The Bear will all play Departures Live Lounge on 2 Mar as part of a show which, says the airport, will "offer flyers a sneak preview of some of the talented artists lined up to perform at the biggest European music festivals throughout 2019".

Says the airport's Brand And Marketing Manager Lois Robertson: "We're incredibly excited that some of the UK's best urban and rock artists - such as Jammer and The Magic Gang - will be performing at London Stansted this March".

Lovely stuff.


CMU Insights: The next round of seminars are all about marketing
The next round of CMU Insights evening seminars kick off at the London HQ of Lewis Silkin next month and this time it is music marketing and fanbase building in the spotlight.

Over three Monday evenings, these seminars together provide an overview of how to build a fanbase for new artists and new music, reviewing the key tools and tactics employed by music marketers, and explaining how music marketing is evolving.

The first seminar on 4 Mar looks at the modern music marketing toolkit including social, digital and media channels, streaming service playlists, advertising, content and events. It also offers a beginner's guide to how artists and their business partners plan and implement marketing campaigns.

The second on 11 Mar puts the focus on social media. It's a beginner's guide to the role of social media and other digital tools in building, engaging and understanding core fanbase, plus an overview of the key social platforms and the importance of analytics and email.

The third on 18 Mar is all about music media and PR. It explains the role of traditional and new music media - print, online, broadcast and streaming playlists - in building industry profile for new talent and getting music to a more mainstream audience.

Full details about the programme are online here.

Ezra Furman adds covers EP to digital services
Ezra Furman has digitally released a covers EP that was previously only available on limited edition vinyl. It's being released by Bella Union and is called 'Songs By Others'.

One of the songs by another is 'The Good Book', originally by American singer-songwriter Melanie. Furman's version of it was also used on the soundtrack to Netflix show 'Sex Education', on which he featured heavily.

On 'The Good Book' he says: "It's a genius song. I had actually never [before] heard a song that is about what that song is about: how an audience wants something from a performer and wants reassurance, like, 'Tell us you love us with a book or a song or a poem because we need it'".

He realised all this around the release of his 2015 album 'Perpetual Motion People'. He adds: "That was the first album of ours that came out where it felt like a lot of people were waiting for it to come out and talking about it and playing the lead single on the radio. So I was just thinking a lot about what can be emotional or tender or beautiful in the audience-performer relationship".

And that's when he realised that 'The Good Book' as a song "is ... like ... 'tell us you love us so we don't feel alone', and it seems like the best thing a song could do - to make someone not feel so alone".

Feel not alone with Furman's version of 'The Good Book' here.


Breakdancing could become an Olympic sport in 2024
Organisers of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are proposing to the International Olympic Committee that breakdancing should be added to the big sporty bash that year. It featured at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires last year but has never been part of the main event before.

The head of the Paris 2024 organising committee said that he thought adding things like breakdancing into the Olympics mix would make the games feel "more urban" and "more artistic". And who doesn't what their big sporting parties to feel more urban and more artistic?

Team GB didn't put anyone forward for the breakdancing contest in Buenos Aires last year, but says that it might at future games, if the IOC decide to add it.

The BBC quote a Team GB spokesperson as saying: "We look forward to welcoming all new sports into the Olympic Games and will work with the relevant bodies to develop our relationships at the appropriate time. Although we did not compete in what was an invitational event at the recent Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, we did witness the popularity of breakdancing among fans there".


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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CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
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CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited 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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