|THURSDAY 27 JUNE 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A group of music publishers in America have bit back at allegations that they colluded in an anti-competitive way in a dispute with fitness company Peloton... [READ MORE]|
Publishers deny collusion in copyright battle with fitness firm
More than a dozen independent publishers sued Peloton earlier this year accusing it of making use of their songs without licence. Peloton makes fitness machines that come with screens via which users can access workout videos. The lawsuit alleged that some of those videos contained unlicensed music controlled by the plaintiffs.
Peloton then countersued in April, mainly on competition law grounds. It alleged that it had previously had good relationships with most of the publishers involved in the legal dispute and was negotiating licensing deals with many of them. Those relationships only fell apart, it then claimed, because of interference by America's National Music Publishers Association.
The trade body, it reckoned, had its own agenda, because it wanted Peloton to pay blanket licensing fees to cover a much larger repertoire of songs than it actually needed access to.
The NMPA was disparaging of Peloton's allegations from the off, and the publishers behind the original lawsuit presented various arguments against the collusion and antitrust claims in a new legal filing this week. Seeking to have the countersuit dismissed, the publishers argue that Peloton has resorted to making arguments involving competition law because it can't defend itself under copyright law in relation to the core allegations of infringement.
Or, in the words of this week's legal filing, "having no defence to its copyright infringement, Peloton resorts to the timeworn tactic of asserting a baseless antitrust counterclaim".
Peloton's countersuit pointed to the fact that many of the publishers involved in the litigation had called off their licensing talks with the fitness company at more or less that same time, suggesting that the NMPA had orchestrated the cancellations.
However, the publishers argue that the original lawsuit itself was the motivating factor for them ending ongoing negotiations. It stands to reason that any publisher that had decided to participate in the legal action would stand down from licensing talks once it knew that the lawsuit was about to be filed with the courts.
This week's legal filing goes on: "The timing of the alleged discontinuation of the negotiations - shortly before or at the time the copyright lawsuit was filed - presents an obvious explanation. Each of the publishers that reached a decision to sue Peloton for copyright infringement would have an obvious reason to discontinue further negotiations".
The publishers also argue that - other than noting how they all cut off negotiations at around the same time - Peloton hasn't presented any actual evidence of collusion. Yes, all the plaintiffs are members of the NMPA, but participation in a trade organisation does not raise competition law concerns. Plus Peloton itself has confirmed that it has licensing deals in place with other publishers that are also NMPA members.
The publishers have requested a court hearing to consider their motion to have Peloton's countersuit dismissed. The fitness outfit is yet to comment on the latest legal filing.
Idris Elba signs to Universal Music Publishing
Oh, you didn't know Elba wrote songs? Yup, he can't spend his whole day just denying that he's going to be the next James Bond. He wrote his own lines for his remix of Wiley's 'Boasty', including the bold brag, "I write for myself, no ghosty". He's also got writing credits on remixes and collaborations with Natalie Wood, Shy and Kah-Lo, plus yet-to-be-released tracks with Slick Rick, Tiggs Da Author and Poo Bear.
"Like countless other folks, I've been a fan of Idris through his acting roles for years with 'The Wire', 'Luther' and 'Beasts Of No Nation', among others", says UMPG UK MD Mike McCormack. "So when I first heard and loved 'Boasty' a few months ago and found that Idris had remixed and rewritten the song, it was my top priority to sign him to UMPG".
So kids, if you want to be a success in this industry, all you need to do is spend a couple of decades building an international acting career and then rework something released by Wiley. You'll be right in there after that.
"Now 'Boasty' has become one of the hits of the year", McCormack goes on. "And I've also gotten to experience Idris's incredible and relentless work ethic, his boundless charm, and that passion with dedication to succeed as much in music as he has with his acting career".
"Idris's musical/DJ aspirations are so big, it's a great fit for our global company as we can support his vision and ambition worldwide", McCormack adds, going somewhat overboard to justify signing an actor to his publishing roster. It's alright Mike, it's fine, you sign whoever you want. I'm sure Idris is great.
What we now need is someone to gush about Universal to balance this out. Step in Elba's manager, Katy Ellis of Anglo Management, who says: "Teaming up with Mike McCormack and his team was an easy decision. Idris's songwriting ambition and drive knows no boundaries and requires a strong and openminded team that can help us deliver his ambition, and Mike and his team get Idris musically".
"Really important is the strength of the relationship in the US where Idris is marrying his film and music, and we need the experience of a team that is used to working with international acts across film and music at the highest level", she concludes.
Christ, that was exhausting. And no one was even THRILLED. Although I think it was implied throughout.
Y Not independently owned again following Global's exit from the festival business
Radio firm Global spent several years building a music focused division that at one point included management, publishing, touring and festivals. The latter proved to be the most prolific - and longest lasting - of those ventures, Global ultimately boasting a portfolio of seventeen events, mainly run via its joint venture with Broadwick Live.
But earlier this year Global decided to bail on its festival business too. The ever-acquisitive Superstruct acquired a bunch of the media firm's events. Meanwhile Broadwick's management bought its former partner out of the company, keeping most of the remaining festivals and its growing venues business.
However, it's now been confirmed that Y Not, bought by Global in 2016, was not part of either of those deals. It is now under the ownership of a company called Count Of Ten, led by Jason Oakley, who has worked on the festival since its inception.
A statement of the festival's website reads: "There's been a bit of chat lately about the future of Y Not and we wanted to share some exciting news with you. As of last month, Y Not Festival is once again independent and under the ownership of Count Of Ten following a previous purchase by Global Festivals in 2016".
Confirming that Oakley would head up the team "through this transitional period", the statement added: "Intrinsic to the grassroots team, Jason helped grow the festival from an over-spilling house party into a nationally acclaimed, award-winning festival with over 25,000 attendees".
Oakley himself then said: "We are incredibly excited for this new era for Y Not and we're looking forward to what we believe will be an amazing future, working on the festival that's meant so much to us all. All our energy and focus is now on giving the Y Notter's the best possible festivals that we can. We're already excited to open the gates for 2019, which we are certain will be the best yet".
Elbow, Two Door Cinema Club and Foals are among the headliners for this year's Y Not Festival which takes place from 25-28 Jul.
Korn announce new album, The Nothing
"Deep within our Earth lives an extraordinary force", says frontman Jonathan Davies of the new LP. Intriguing, but what could it be? "Very few are aware of the magnitude and significance of this place where good/evil, dark/light, bliss/torment, loss/gain and hope/despair all exist as one - pulling at us every moment of our lives". Crikey.
"It's not something we can choose to navigate", he goes on. "But rather [we can have] an awareness of this 'presence' that surrounds us with every breath, as if we are being watched at every moment. It's the place where black and white energies attach themselves to our souls, and shape our emotion, choices, perspective and ultimately our very existence".
I thought deep within the Earth was mainly magma and stuff. Well, anyway, he continues: "There is a miraculous and small realm within this vortex and it's the only place where balance between these dynamic and polarising forces exists - where the soul finds its refuge. Welcome to... THE NOTHING".
Oh right. I'm glad that's all cleared up. Now let's just listen to this new single.
Saul Williams announces new album Encrypted & Vulnerable
"'Encrypted & Vulnerable' is simultaneously a personal and intimately optimistic takedown on struggle, defiance, awareness, aloneness", says Williams. "And a takedown of heteronormative capitalistic patriarchal authoritarian politics in topics ranging from love, technology, religion, war to migration".
The big musical innovation of this album is that it has no drums, with "invisible and implied beats" instead. Basically, if you think you're hearing drums, you're just imagining it.
Williams explains: "I wanted to make an album with invisible beats. I always want people to dance, but this time I wanted the drums to be DIY. I figured the drums in your head could be crazier and more complex than anything I could programme. So I started working on sounds that would instigate that. You feel the rhythm and you're already dancing in anticipation of the drums... that was one goal of the album".
It's a bit like how I made you imagine a voice in your head reading this out loud. There is no voice! No one is talking! Have a blown your mind? Have I distracted you from the fact that I'm really not sure what Williams is talking about?
The first single from the album, 'Experiment', comes with one of those 360° virtual reality videos that were trendy a while ago. Have a watch here.
Mel B announces 'in conversation' shows in Leeds and London
The show promises to "examine every aspect of Mel's life, from where she began to where she is today". I don't know how long that will take, but it already sounds like you're going to be there overnight at least. And that's before I tell you that also appearing on stage to share their own anecdotes and memories will be her mother Andrea, sister Danielle and daughter Phoenix. Oh, and there will be "never before seen video content" too.
Seriously, what is the running time of this thing? However long it takes, the experience will, and I quote, "shatter your illusions in every way possible". How many ways are there to shatter an illusion? Four? 38? 5,894,401? The only way to find out is to book tickets, I guess.
"I'm so honoured to be sharing my story - good and bad - because I kept so many things secret for so long out of shame and I have learnt over these past few years that through talking, through sharing you learn and you make real bonds with people", says Mel B in a very long sentence, which might give you some indication of what to expect from this show.
Or perhaps, in fact, she'll speak in short, sharp bursts once on stage. You know, to shatter one of those illusions you've already stored up.
"This is a first for me", she adds of the live shows, forgetting that she's been interviewed numerous times before. "I want to make it very special, very real and very intimate. I know there will be tears but I am also hoping for few laughs too because that's the woman I am - as you will discover".
The first show will take place at the Leeds Grand Theatre on 25 Aug, then on 1 Sep she will appear at London's Savoy Theatre. At both events she will speak to celebrity interviewer Louise Gannon, who also co-wrote Mel B's autobiography, 'Brutally Honest'. You'd think she'd have had enough of asking her questions by now. Maybe she's thought of a few new ways to have her illusions shattered since the book was put together.
Suggesting that this is indeed possible, Gannon says: "I have no idea what to expect - that is always the deal with Melanie - but I can guarantee it will be an unforgettable night".
Tickets for the Leeds show are on sale now, with London going on sale on Friday. The shows will also support Women's Aid, the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children, of which Mel B is a patron. So, a very good cause which might make you want to have a serious think about all the mocking you've just done of this event.
Singer-songwriter Monique Lawz has bagged herself a Warner Chappell publishing deal, to go with the Warner Records contract she signed earlier this year. "I'm so pleased", she says. Upcoming now is a single with US rapper Roddy Ricch.
Kobalt has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Hayley Kiyoko. "I've been a believer of hers for the last decade and we're THRILLED to welcome her to the Kobalt family", says the company's Jamie Kinelski.
Following the success of last year's 'Burn The Stage: The Movie', BTS have announced that they will release another concert film in cinemas this August. 'Bring The Soul: The Movie' will follow the band on their European tour. You'll be able to see it on the big screen on 7 Aug. If that's the sort of thing that sounds like fun to you. More info here.
Madonna has released the video for 'God Control' from her 'Madame X' album. In it she graphically makes the point that accepting mass shootings as a normal part of life is a bit weird.
Jack Antonoff has announced a new project with singer Sam Dew and producer Sounwave, called Red Hearse. They're just released two songs from an album due out later this year. Here's 'Red Hearse', and here's 'Honey'.
Ellie Goulding and Juice Wrld have released a new single together called 'Hate Me'. "I love how this song is a bit tongue in cheek", says Goulding. "It's definitely lyrically different to most of my other songs but it's fun to play around a bit". Yeah, fun for her, maybe.
Cardi B has released the video for recent single 'Press'. The video sees her sent to prison - and is released just as court proceedings begin over assault charges that may actually see her serve jail time. Hopefully her real life court hearing doesn't go down quite like the one in the video.
Sigrid has released the video for new single 'Mine Right Now', which director Max Siedentopf is boldly calling "the Fyre Festival of music videos".
The LaFontaines have released the video for 'Switch Out The Light' from their new album, 'Junior'. "Visually it's the darkest video we've ever created but the song, in contrast, is a rousing call to arms aimed to ignite the fire within the underdog", says frontman Kerr Okan. There is some actual fire in the video too, but on some theatre seats rather than an underdog. There's also a great deal of dance-based gun violence.
You probably thought Flohio had already released a single this year, but you're wrong, she hasn't. Well, she has now, because she's just released 'Hell Bent'. But that's it so far this year. More soon, please.
Bea1991 has released new single 'Modern Comforts'. What's your favourite modern comfort? I'll tell you mine, it's... um... hummus?
Blanck Mass has released new track 'No Dice'. "'No Dice' is about denial", he says. No it isn't.
Why? has released the third movement from his new album 'AOKOHIO'. Here's 'III. Please Take Me Home, I Don't Belong Here'.
Africa Express have released another new track, 'Where Will This Lead Us To?' I'd imagine it would lead us to yet more new music, if their current release rate is anything to go by. This one features Moonchild Sanelly, Radio 123 and Blue May.
Clark has announced that he will release new album, 'Kiri Variations', on 26 Jul. "I want people to listen to this in the same way they would read a set of Roald Dahl short stories", he says. Well then, here's first single 'Cannibal Homecoming'. "Ooh listen to how naked and vulnerable I sound at the end", he says of the track.
Joy Crookes has released the video for new single 'Hurts'. In an unusual creative decision, she seems to have actually made a video for a completely different track. "My latest video, 'Hurts', is inspired by the Frank Ocean song 'Nights' and the specific lyric in it, 'Did you call me from a séance? You are from a past life'", she explains. So there you go.
Aïsha Devi has released new track 'Uupar Theory'. Her new mini-album 'SLF', from which the track is taken, is due out later this summer. I'm not sure when, but she's playing the Manchester International Festival on 20 Jul.
Imperial Teen have released new single 'Don't Wanna Let You Go'. I reckon this is probably the last one before they release new album 'Now We Are Timeless' on 12 Jul, but what do I know? Actually, I'm going to say there'll be one more. This is a fun game, we should do it with every album release campaign.
Sløtface have released the video for new single 'Telepathetic'. "What we really wanted to do was to gather all of our creative friends and acquaintances and create something, not knowing specifically what we were actually going to get", say the band. "Our experience is that if you bring talented people together and film it, it will usually be a good music video". It's as easy as that.
Babii has released a mildly interactive video for her new single 'Poiison'.
Fifty Grand has released new track 'Summer Rain', featuring Kankan and Mixed Matches. Hopefully this is the last summer rain we'll hear of for a while. I've had quite enough of June now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
With a new venue pending, Woodstock 50 could be about to lose its line-up, but Michael Lang remains optimistic that it'll all come together
Throughout all the recent chapters in the Woodstock 50 story - when financial backers, production partners and venues all bailed on the venture - the one group of people still on board seemed to be the artists who were booked before all the dramas began.
In part it seems like artists and their agents have been willing to hang on to see if the Woodstock team can overcome all the issues, keen to participate in the 50th anniversary celebrations if they do indeed go ahead. Though there is also the issue of whether or not an act would have to return their advance if they bailed on their booking at this stage.
Although it has pulled out, former financial backer Dentsu has apparently agreed to honour agreements with artists, many of which were signed directly with the company rather than the event. With the festival not yet cancelled, despite Dentsu's best efforts to completely pull the plug, it's not absolutely clear who would be in breach of contract at this stage if artists decided to withdraw. However, the change of venue, expected to be confirmed soon, could be the thing that gives artists and their agents an excuse to bail without returning any cash.
That said, it's not uncommon for artists to stay with a festival even if a last minute venue change gives them an uncontroversial way out (legally speaking) from their contracts. One source explains to Billboard that artists often feel compelled to stick with festivals even when they could pull out contractually, because "they don't want to disappoint their fans". But, of course, "in the case of Woodstock 50, no one has bought tickets yet, so there's not really anyone to disappoint".
Woodstock 50 lost its venue - the Watkins Glen International motor racing track in New York State - earlier this month. It later turned out that this was due to the festival missing the final payment required to keep the booking secured.
Earlier this week festival organisers put in an application for a licence to put on the show at a new (possibly significantly smaller and without camping facilities) venue two hours away. That alternative site is Vernon Downs, a casino and horse racing complex that is also in the state of New York. Although, despite the licence application, the Woodstock 50 team are still saying that Vernon Downs is one of a number of venues they are speaking to, apparently not keen to allow something like a little certainty to creep into their plans.
Given all the dramas of recent months - and a start date that is now getting very close indeed - why is the Woodstock team still ploughing on with everything?
That's a question plenty of people have been asking in recent weeks. The answer, it seems, is Michael Lang and his eternal optimism. "I am not gearing up for [cancelling]", he tells Rolling Stone. "That's not how I approach things anyway. I'm kind of an optimist ... it definitely helps in this case".
No fucking shit. Of course, it was Lang's eternal optimism that helped the original Woodstock festival in 1969 go ahead, despite massive amounts of, and in many cases very similar, chaos. Although the irony that he's now having to contend with various rules and regulations specifically put in place in the wake of the original Woodstock is not lost on him.
"It's the way of the world", he says. "We kind of snuck up on everyone the first time. Some of [the subsequently imposed rules] are sensible and some of them are things they put in there so that they didn't want you to be able to do it again. There are some lessons learned and by the industry as well. But a lot of the conditions they look for are a bit overdone. You never want to skimp on safety, but they were drawn up by people who didn't know anything about this business. They were just reacting to what happened".
But complying with all the modern rules is far from Woodstock 50's biggest challenge. Earlier this week the event lost, once and for all, $18.5 million of funding previously described as "necessary for the production of the festival" by its lawyer. That money had been put into a bank account by Dentsu when it was still working on the project. The company sought to take it back after pulling out of the festival.
With that money lost and the new venue still to be fully confirmed, the one and only thing currently in the event's favour is that it still has a line-up. If, as some are now predicting, that starts to fall apart early next week, the slim chances of saving the event at large will become microscopic.
Of course, having come this far, Woodstock 50 could as yet end up being Michael Lang singing in a field to no one, just so he can say it happened. I really hope someone is filming all this for a documentary at the very least. Setting up a doomed festival that makes good telly being somewhat in vogue these days, of course.