|FRIDAY 24 MAY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Last year, Richard Ashcroft said in an interview that he planned to claw back the song royalties for Verve song 'Bitter Sweet Symphony', which he'd have to give up in the 1990s when the licensing of the string sample in the recording didn't go his way. At the time it just seemed like the latest outlandish and unlikely thing he'd said in a run of bizarre interviews around the release of his latest solo album. But, you know what, he's actually gone and done it... [READ MORE]|
Mick Jagger and Rolling Stones give Richard Ashcroft back his Bitter Sweet Symphony
In a statement yesterday, Ashcroft said: "It gives me great pleasure to announce as of last month Mick Jagger and Keith Richards agreed to give me their share of the song 'Bitter Sweet Symphony'. This remarkable and life affirming turn of events was made possible by a kind and magnanimous gesture from Mick and Keith, who have also agreed that they are happy for the writing credit to exclude their names and all their royalties derived from the song they will now pass to me".
How Ashcroft came to lose the publishing rights in his most successful song when it was released in 1997 is quite complicated. But basically, it relates to the four second string sample on his band's recording of it, which was lifted from an instrumental version of 'The Last Time' by The Rolling Stones, recorded by the Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra.
The publishing rights for that song were owned by the company of former Stones manager Allen Klein, aka ABKCO. Klein - who was vehemently against sampling - eventually agreed to grant a licence on the songs side for the Verve release (a licence for the recording already being in place) on the condition that Ashcroft sign over all of his publishing rights in 'Bitter Sweet Symphony'.
Unfortunately this all happened after CD copies of the album had been pressed and Ashcroft's negotiating position was not good. Once the deal was done and the song a hit, ABKCO made sure it exploited these rights as much as possible - much to the annoyance of The Verve, who felt it was becoming over played.
Speaking last year, Ashcroft said: "I'm coming for that money. Someone stole god knows how many million dollars off me in 1997, and they've still got it. In terms, in normal basic terms, I don't care where you come from, that's a serious matter".
Subsequently, Ashcroft's management decided to attempt to appeal to Jagger and Richards' better nature and secure the return of the rights in the song.
Despite having been told by those in the know that there was no chance of this plan succeeding, a press release says that the Stones duo actually "immediately, unhesitantly and unconditionally agreed". They have also agreed to drop their writing credits on the hit, "kindly acknowledging that as far as they are concerned it is Richard's song".
Quite what this means specifically regarding the ownership of 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' as of now isn't clear. This is partly because of the complexities of song copyright ownership, partly because of Ashcroft's slightly ambiguous comment, and partly because of an accompanying statement that said that Jagger and Richards had "agreed that - to the extent it is within their power - [to give Ashcroft] his song back".
That may well mean that ABKCO will still have its stake in and earn from the song, but all and any writer share royalties - whether due through the collective licensing system or via the publisher - will go to Ashcroft. A request for more clarity has so far not been answered, possibly because we're the only people in the world who are actually interested in precise copyright technicalities of this kind.
Continuing his statement yesterday, Ashcroft said: "I would like to thank the main players in this, my management Steve Kutner and John Kennedy, the Stones manager Joyce Smyth and Jody Klein - for actually taking the call - [and] lastly a huge unreserved heartfelt thanks and respect to Mick and Keith. Music is power".
The announcement coincided with Ashcroft receiving the Outstanding Contribution To British Music prize at yesterday's Ivor Novello Awards. Must have been nice not to have to share that with Mick and Keith.
Michael Jackson estate settles lawsuit with former manager
Tohme began working with Jackson in 2008 and claims that his efforts turned around public perception of the star significantly, paving the way for him to announce his O2 Arena residency in London. Those were the shows, of course, that never happened because of Jackson's death. In 2010, Tohme launched legal action claiming that the Jackson estate had failed to pay him money he was owed under his contract with the singer.
Over time that legal action became more complicated, although at its heart it was still a dispute over allegedly outstanding management fees. Tohme argued that he was due 15% of any money Jackson made in the last year of his life, as well as a cut of revenues from his posthumous 'This Is It Film'. He also wanted a finders fee for setting up a loan that meant Jackson did not have to sell his Neverland ranch.
The Jackson estate countered that Tohme's contract was terminated prior to the musician's death. It also argued that the inclusion of the $35,000 monthly fee in his contract was unethical and meant that Tohme breached his fiduciary duties to Jackson.
As part of the trial, Tohme wanted the fees that estate administrators John Branca and John McClain earn to be disclosed, claiming that the work they have done since Jackson's death is comparable to that he did before it. But before that could happen, the trial - which began earlier this month - was halted after a deal was reached.
In a joint statement, both sides told The Hollywood Reporter: "The estate of Michael Jackson and Jackson's former manager, Tohme Tohme, confirm that they have amicably settled a lawsuit that had been underway in the Santa Monica Superior Court. The estate acknowledges his efforts on Michael's behalf. The confidential settlement marks a resolution to an almost decade-long contractual dispute".
Given, as they say, this legal battle has been rumbling on for the best part of a decade, you wonder why they couldn't have come to an "amicable" agreement sooner.
Though the late in the day settlement does mean, of course, that we won't get any insight into the structure of the post-2009 Jackson business or how much Branca and McClain have made from it. We do know that, in 2011, they agreed a pay rise from the 10% commission they had originally earned, although their current fee structure is not clear.
SoundCloud to offer more creator tools via a Repost acquisition
Although SoundCloud now competes directly with Spotify et al with its ad-funded and premium streaming packages, in the last year most of its innovations have focused more on the company's original core business, ie providing services for content creators. Which includes helping said creators distribute and monetise their content beyond the SoundCloud platform itself.
In February the digital firm announced an alliance with music distributor FUGA, so that customers of its SoundCloud Pro service could also get their music onto all the other key streaming platforms, as well as trying to monetise their content on SoundCloud itself via the company's Premier programme. The Repost acquisition will further extend the range of tools available to Pro subscribers.
Confirming the deal, SoundCloud's COO Michael Weissman said: "There are more than 20 million audio creators on SoundCloud, and we know building audiences and earning income from streaming are critical to them. SoundCloud's focus is to build more tools and services to solve those needs".
"We've built the foundation with our SoundCloud Premier programme and our recently launched distribution product, and today we are taking another step forward", he added. "The acquisition of Repost Network will meaningfully move SoundCloud forward as we build the most comprehensive set of tools to help creators build their careers. We welcome the Repost Network team to SoundCloud and are excited about what we will build together".
For the Repost side, its co-founder Jeff Ponchick said: "Repost Network has been working with SoundCloud since the early days of its monetisation initiative, and we are ecstatic to join the world's largest audio creator community. Our mission is to help artists make a living through their audiences online, and by joining the SoundCloud family we can help even more emerging artists take the next step in their career, earn more revenue and be heard by more fans".
AFEM launches new mental health guide for dance music community
Based on the guide the UK's Music Managers Forum produced with Music Support and Help Musicians UK in 2017, the new version was launched at the International Music Summit in Ibiza after an emotional interview with Klaus Bergling, the father of Avicii. Bergling spoke to Pete Tong about the launch of the Tim Bergling Foundation, which will support people and organisations working in the fields of mental illness and suicide prevention.
There has been a much more frank conversation about depression and mental health in the music business in recent years, of course. However, in the dance music community it feels like the death of Avicii in 2018 kickstarted a much more pro-active debate about how the industry can better support its artists and DJs.
Launching the new guide, AFEM's Tristan Hunt said: "The launch of Tim's Foundation further underscores the huge importance that's being given to the subject of mental health by our industry, and the unwavering commitment so many in our community have to helping those who maybe struggling, whilst aiming to prevent others from ever getting into difficulty in the first place".
"In early 2017", he went on, "AFEM founded our health working group dedicated to helping protect the mental and physical health of fans and professionals in our community. Our group initially comprised six members - fast forward and it's now a band of 34 highly experienced individuals from around the world, comprising every sphere of our industry, who are passionately committed to helping prevent mental and physical suffering of any kind in our industry".
He then added: "With the tragic passing of Avicii in April 2018, and more recently Keith Flint from The Prodigy taking his own life in March of this year, not to mention many others from our community who's dark times never make the media - this begs a key question: where, why and how are we still failing as an industry?"
Of course, as Hunt also noted, "mental health and suicide are issues that are not germane to electronic music - it is a societal problem". But there are some elements of working in music - and specifically dance music - that can exacerbate problems when they occur, and prevent people from seeking help or adapting their lifestyles when they really need to.
Hunt said that the aim of the new guide is to "help further normalise and de-stigmatise mental health issues, issues that we can all be impacted by at different times in our lives. It does this by providing expert but easy to understand advice for individuals working in our community at every level. The guide positively addresses a wide range of crucial topics from tinnitus and hearing damage, through to anxiety, depression and the impact of loneliness and sleep deprivation".
The launch of the guide was followed by an in-depth debate in which artists and DJs discussed their own experiences of depression and addiction, and how they ultimately sought and got help. Managers and tour managers also talked about their respective roles in supporting artists in this domain, while mental health experts provided some practical tips on what the industry could be doing to better support its talent.
Obviously there is no one simple solution. Though providing health advice to all artists as a matter of routine is definitely part of the solution. As are including sleep and other health considerations into all and any tour planning, and better understanding when is the right time to seek professional help.
Constant education is also important, delivering the message that help is out there in as many different ways as possible, so to reach everyone in the wider artist community, and beyond. Guides like that published by MMF two years ago - and the new version now being launched for the dance music community - are one part of that education process, of course.
"As part of IMS's commitment to supporting AFEM and mental health more broadly, 'The Electronic Music Guide To Mental Health' will be released soon to IMS delegates and via our industries' major media channels", Hunt concluded.
"As noted, the problem of mental health is complex and nuanced, and it is an issue to which those working in dance music are especially susceptible. It needs our undivided attention. At every level we all need to keep talking, acting and caring in order to save lives and create lives worth living. Always remember, regardless of what you do, you are not alone".
Ed Sheeran announces duets album, releases Chance The Rapper collaboration
"Before I was signed in 2011, I made an EP called 'No 5 Collaborations Project'", explains Sheeran. "Since then, I've always wanted to do another, so I started 'No 6' on my laptop when I was on tour last year. I'm a huge fan of all the artists I've collaborated with and it's been a lot of fun to make".
For the most part, he's still keeping the names of his collaborators under his hat - for now - so you'll have to wait and see who's involved.
The track he did with Justin Bieber is one of the seven worst things ever recorded, of course, so that's the low benchmark. Alongside the album announcement he's released a new track featuring Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock, which is better. So we'll see how it goes. Maybe he's going from worst to best and the final collaboration to see the light of day will be a work of genius. Like, absolute fucking genius.
'No 6 Collaborations Project' will be out on 12 Jul. Watch the lyric video for 'Cross Me', featuring Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock here.
Ivor Novello Awards handed out
After all the trophies were handed out, it emerged that 83% of recipients were first time winners. Those people probably all felt very intimidated and self-conscious in front of all the seasoned songwriters in the room. And all the seasoned songwriters probably felt very intimidated and self-conscious seeing all these fresh faces coming for their jobs.
Eyeing up all the terrified people sat quivering in their chairs, The Ivors Academy Chair Crispin Hunt said: "From heavyweights of rock, to gods of grime, jazz maestros to chart royalty; today's celebrated music creators have been rightly recognised for their artistic merit and inspiring influence on their fellow creators. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners from The Ivors Academy".
Mariah Carey was one of the winners this year, taking the Special International Award. She wasn't there, but she sent a message saying: "I rarely get acknowledged for my songwriting, which is the core of who I am, so I thank you so much for this incredible, incredible honour".
Anyway, let's have a look at all these winners and then get on with our lives:
Best Song Musically And Lyrically: Ben Howard - Nica Libres At Dusk (Ben Howard)
Best Original Video Game Score: Sea Of Theives (Robin Beanland)
Songwriters Of The Year: The 1975 (George Daniel, Adam Hann, Matthew Healy and Ross MacDonald)
Inspiration Award: Wiley
Nonclassical, Bastille, Little Mix, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• The Nonclassical record label has appointed Natalia Franklin Pierce as Executive Director. "I am excited about the opportunity to lead Nonclassical, with its focus on bringing cutting edge experimental work to new audiences through its events and label", she says. "It is an organisation I have long admired". She will take over the role from Eleanor Ward in August.
• Bastille have announced a theatrical launch event for new album 'Doom Days'. According to the blurb, "playwright Charlotte Bogard Macleod has fused 3D sound and storytelling inspired by the new album, to create a special immersive theatrical experience. Three intriguing stories intertwine and fans will select which character's story to follow - using headphones - while 'Doom Days' scenarios are acted out around them". If you can't get along to 9294 Studio in Hackney to see it live, the whole thing will be livestreamed on YouTube too. Here's a trailer.
• Little Mix have launched a new YouTube series called 'Mix It Up', in which they will do stuff and film it to put on YouTube. In episode one, they cook for each other and have a right old time. I have added it to my 'Popstars making food' playlist for you.
• Madonna has released the video for new single 'Crave', featuring Swae Lee.
• Emeli Sandé has released new single 'Extraordinary Being'. It's taken from her new album 'Real Life', which is out on 21 Jun, and also features on the soundtrack to new X-Men movie 'Dark Phoenix', which is out on 5 Jun.
• Five Seconds Of Summer have released new single 'Easier'. "I truly believe that 'Easier' is the beginning of the best era for 5SOS", says frontman Luke Hemmings confidently
• Chase And Status have released the video for new track 'Murder Music', featuring Kabaka Pyramid.
• Underworld will release new album 'Drift Songs' on 25 Oct, concluding their year-long 'Drift' project. Here's new single 'Listen To Their No'. They've also announced that they will play Wembley Arena on 7 Dec.
• Lighthouse Family have released another new single 'Light On'. It's just not stopping.
• Those Kaiser Chiefs have announced new album 'Duck'. It's out on 26 Jul. Here's new single 'Record Collection'.
• Girlpool have released the video for 'Minute In Your Mind', taken from new album 'What Chaos Is Imaginary'.
• Amnesia Scanner have released new track 'AS Lose'.
• Objekt has released the video for 'Dazzle Anew', taken from recent album 'Cocoon Crush'.
• Jesca Hoop has released new single 'Red, White And Black'. Her new album, 'Stonechild', is out on 5 Jul.
• Coucou Chloe has released new single 'Silver B'. Her new EP, 'Naughty Dog', is out next week.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
James Blunt demands NME award he won thirteen years ago
"I'm working on some new music that I know you lot at NME will absolutely love", he said, when asked what he was up to these days. "I actually won an NME Award once upon a time, but you never sent it over. Why haven't you sent it? Are you too tight to send it over? Is money too tight?"
Actually, at most music magazines, money has been rather tight for some time now as print titles die and music websites struggle to make any cash. Though NME has just got itself a buzzy new owner and it must have some spare (Singapore) dollars lying around.
"It's just really mean to get an award and not send it", Blunt went on. "I'd put it in pride of place, right above my bed so I could look up at it and see it every day. That would be the best award in the world to have".
The NME reporter attempted to steer conversation back to Blunt's new music. But see if you can spot where the musician took back control of the conversation again. "I am in the studio. I'm having a really good time. I have stuff to write about. I've just bought a pub as well. It's called The Fox & Pheasant, right by Chelsea Football Club. You've got to come down. Bring the award. Shake on it. I'll give you a pint if you do".
Can someone get word to James Blunt that I am willing to exchange insulting trophies for beer? In fact, tell everyone.