|MONDAY 1 JULY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings has acquired Scott Borchetta's Big Machine record label in a transaction worth a reported $300 million. The big deal between two of the modern music industry's highest profile entrepreneurs is, of course, the "worst case scenario". Not my words, people. The words of Taylor Swift... [READ MORE]|
Scooter Braun acquires Big Machine in Taylor Swift's "worst case scenario"
The holding company of artist manager extraordinaire Braun announced it had bought the Big Machine business yesterday. Backed by private equity outfit the Carlyle Group, the deal brings both Borchetta and his Big Machine into Braun's ever-expanding music business empire. An empire that also includes the recently acquired Atlas Music Publishing, the recently launched investment arm Raised In Space Enterprises, and a number of other music and media partnerships, in addition to its founder's management and label businesses.
There has been frequent speculation that Borchetta would sell the Big Machine record company he founded in 2005, especially since his most famous signing, ie Swift, became a global pop phenomenon. All sorts of music, media, tech, private equity and other entities have been mooted as possible buyers over the years.
Confirming that the time had now finally come to sell - and that Braun was the guy to sell to - Borchetta said in a statement yesterday: "Scooter and I have been aligned with 'big vision brings big results' from the very first time we met in 2010. Since then I have watched him build an incredible and diverse company that is a perfect complement to the Big Machine Label Group. Our artist-first spirit and combined roster of talent, executives and assets is now a global force to be reckoned with. This is a very special day and the beginning of what is sure to be a fantastic partnership and historic run".
Braun said that "the idea of Scott and I working together is nothing new, we've been talking about it since the beginning of our friendship". He went on: "I reached out to him when I saw an opportunity and, after many conversations, realised our visions were aligned. He's built a brilliant company full of iconic songs and artists. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that? By joining together, we will create more opportunities for artists than ever before, by giving them the support and tools to go after whatever dreams they wish to pursue".
Many in the industry will have opinions to share about Borchetta allying with Braun, about Big Machine becoming a core division of the increasingly acquisitive Ithaca group, and about the ongoing creation of a new music industry powerhouse to compete with the legacy players, albeit one that has long had close ties to Universal Music. But fuck all those opinions! Who the fuck cares? Not I! Because pop stars have spoken and that's all that really matters.
The big deal includes the Taylor Swift catalogue, which Big Machine retained after its biggest star jumped ship last year and signing directly to Universal. The major label had partnered with the indie for years and helped turn the one-time country singer into a worldwide pop star. That all her recorded music to date would now belong to a business led by Braun was, Swift said in an angry blog post, "my worst case scenario".
"For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work", Swift said in her speedily constructed post. "Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and 'earn' one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in. I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums".
As for the Ithaca acquisition of her recordings catalogue, Swift alleged that she had only heard about the deal when it was reported in the news media. And she was mortified that her recordings were now in the control of a man who she only really knew for "the incessant, manipulative bullying I've received at his hands for years".
The beef with Braun mainly relates to his time managing Kanye West and the latter's track 'Famous', with its Swift-referencing lyric and slightly controversial video, and the fall out over a leaked phone call in which West and Swift spoke about song. Oh, and an Instagram post another Braun client - that pesky Justin Bieber - put online at around the same time.
Referencing how the 'Famous' video featured a naked look-a-like of herself (and many others), Swift's post on the Big Machine deal went on: "Now Scooter has stripped me of my life's work, that I wasn't given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it".
Turning the fire back onto Borchetta, she went on: "This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term 'loyalty' is clearly just a contractual concept ... When I left my masters in Scott's hands I made peace with the fact that eventually he would sell them. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine the buyer would be Scooter".
"Any time Scott Borchetta has heard the words 'Scooter Braun' escape my lips", she concluded, "it was when I was either crying or trying not to. He knew what he was doing; they both did. Controlling a woman who didn't want to be associated with them. In perpetuity. That means forever".
With the narrative around his big deal almost immediately becoming entirely about Swift's rage, Borchetta quickly wrote his own blog post to fight back. Swift had misrepresented, he said, the talks that took place when he tried to re-sign her to his label. He had, in fact, made a very generous offer that would have allowed her to reclaim ownership of her recordings to date, an offer she declined in order to sign with Universal. "Taylor had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career", he argued. "She chose to leave".
He also disputed Swift's claim that she only found out about the Ithaca deal once it was public knowledge. He'd personally given her a pre-announcement heads-up he said. Albeit by text message on Saturday night. Though, he added, slightly more convincingly, Swift's dad was a shareholder in Big Machine and his legal reps had been consulted as the deal came together. Maybe her father failed to pass the message on, he mused, but "I truly doubt that she 'woke up to the news when everyone else did'".
"As to her comments about 'being in tears or close to it' anytime my new partner Scooter Braun's name was brought up", Borchetta went on, "I certainly never experienced that. Was I aware of some prior issues between Taylor and Justin Bieber? Yes. But there were also times where Taylor knew that I was close to Scooter and that Scooter was a very good source of information for upcoming album releases, tours, etc, and I'd reach out to him for information on our behalf. Scooter was never anything but positive about Taylor".
Also standing up for the Scooty man yesterday was that there mentioned Bieber. He conceded that his Instagram-style intervention during the Swift/West falling out of 2016 was unwise. But - he added - Braun had actually stuck up for Swift at the time.
Returning to Instagram yesterday, Bieber wrote: "[Braun] didn't have anything to do with [the 2016 post] ... he was the person who told me not to joke like that. Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you! As the years have passed we haven't crossed paths and gotten to communicate our differences, hurts or frustrations. So for you to take it to social media and get people to hate on Scooter isn't fair".
"What were you trying to accomplish by posting that blog?" Bieber then wondered. After all, he reckoned, his fellow pop star must have known that "in posting that your fans would go and bully Scooter". But worry not, both Bieber and Braun still love Swifty, he confirmed.
"I feel like the only way to resolve conflict is through communication". But not communication via the socials. "To banter back and forth online I don't believe solves anything", said the wise one. "I'm sure Scooter and I would love to talk to you and resolve any conflict, pain or any feelings that need to be addressed".
So there you have it. She said, he said, he said, she said (oh yeah, I almost forgot, Braun's wife butted in too). Who to trust? Who to believe? With whom do we place the fragile faith that originates from deep within each of our precious souls, the loving life force that makes us human, each and every one? Shall we just agree that they're all a bunch of belligerent bastards and get on with our lives? Yeah, good plan. Oh, and let's not forget, because this is really important: someone bought a record label yesterday. Over and out.
Viagogo successfully appeals million euro fine in Italy
The list of Viagogo complaints published by Italian regulator AGCM was very familiar. The resale site failed to indicate the face value of tickets being sold on its site, didn't publish seat number information and misled customers about the total cost of each ticket being sold. The resale platform's frequent use of the term "official site" was also misleading.
AGCM initially fined Viagogo 300,000 euros for failing to comply with Italian law, bumping that up to a million in April 2018 for continued non-compliance.
However, the secondary ticketing outfit took the case to Italy's Council Of State, which oversees the decisions of Italian government agencies. And, according to TheTicketingBusiness, it ruled in favour Viagogo on the basis the company was simply a "passive hosting provider", and therefore not directly liable for the failure of sellers on its platform to provide all the information required by law.
When new secondary ticketing regulations came into force in the UK in 2015, many of the resale sites likewise tried to argue that the new obligations fell onto their sellers, and that they weren't directly liable if said sellers didn't provide newly required information. That line of argument was generally rejected over here.
Not in Italy though, where the Council Of State even ruled that Viagogo's infamous use of the "official site" line - including in Google ads - was just fine. Even though doing so heavily implies that Viagogo is an official artist-approved seller of tickets, when it is no such thing.
Viagogo's recently chatty boss Cris Miller unsurprisingly welcomed the ruling. He told TheTicketingBusiness: "We welcome this landmark judgment from Italy's highest administrative court. We have always sought an open dialogue with the AGCM to ensure we are compliant with Italian consumer law".
"We look forward to continuing discussions about the positive role Viagogo plays in Italy and around the world", he went on, insisting that his touting platform makes it "possible for hundreds of thousands of people to have access to events that would otherwise not be accessible due to the limited number of tickets made available through event organisers and managers".
The court's decision comes despite Italy being a country where recent efforts to crack down on ticket touting have gone further than in many other markets.
Cardi B's 'okurrr' trademark denied
The rapper applied to trademark the word - which sounds like a cartoon arrow hitting a tree and means that someone has been put in their place - earlier this year. She apparently planned to splash it all over merch and applied to have control of it spelled with either two or three r's (three being the 'official' spelling).
However, according to The Blast, the US Patent And Trademark Office reckons Okurrr is a "widely-used commonplace expression" that Cardi B has no right to exclusively control, whatever way she spells it. Officials apparently Googled the term and found a number of instances of it being in use, which included various Kardashians putting it into practice.
Rejecting the application, the US trademark authority also said that it "is a slogan or term that does not function as a trademark or service mark to indicate the source of applicant's goods and/or services".
When the application was first submitted, enough people pointed out that Cardi B didn't invent the word that she responded in an Instagram video (to be fair, I don't think many people have to criticise the rapper for a response of this kind). She said that everywhere she goes people ask her to say it, and that she therefore felt justified in attempting to profit off the word.
The option to make that money is not completely of the table. Trademarks officials have left her with the opportunity to amend and resubmit her application. I'm not exactly sure what she could do though. Add a few more r's?
Downtown's Roberto Neri appointed Chair of Music Publishers Association
Commenting on his appointment, Neri said: "It is an absolute honour to serve as the next Chair of the Music Publishers Association, whose work and advocacy on behalf of UK music publishers has never been more important. I look forward to continuing the momentum and working with [CEO] Paul [Clements], the team at the MPA, colleagues on the board, and publisher members of the MPA".
The departing Alway added: "I have been privileged to serve as Chair of our fine trade association. I am proud of what the MPA has achieved during the last four years and delighted that I can hand over to such a dynamic successor as Roberto Neri. [He] comes with lots of ideas and commitment to our industry. I know that he and Paul Clements will make a formidable team to continue to grow the MPA. I wish Roberto every success and hope he enjoys the experience of being Chair as much as I have".
Glastonbury denies water shortage, as teething issues with plastic bottle ban emerge
The Killers turned up with a killer strategy on Saturday, presenting themselves as a very competent wedding band - even turning in a medley of wedding classics as their encore. And last night, The Cure, well The Cure are The Cure. The Cure got away with being The Cure. But was there enough water? Well, that's a matter of some debate.
One of the big changes at this year's Glastonbury was the banning of single-use plastic bottles on site. Which meant no plastic bottles of water for sale. Instead, festival-goers were strongly encouraged to bring their own water bottles, which they could fill from taps spread around the festival. However, as temperatures rocketed on Saturday, many complained of long queues for those taps.
There were also reports of a water shortage on site after showers were closed off - festival-goers being met with a sign reading: "Glastonbury Festival are working to increase the water availability and the showers will be unlocked as soon as we get the go ahead".
However, responding to all of these reports, organisers denied that there were issues providing enough water for the 200,000 people at the event. "There is not a water shortage at this year's Glastonbury", insisted a statement. "Our supply is running as normal. As always in hot weather, demand for water has increased, so we have put in place the usual restrictions on staff/guest showers and the limited number of public showers".
Organisers also denied claims that water was hard to come by, and that those who had failed to bring reusable bottles to the event were being forced to go thirsty.
"We have more than 850 taps on site, all of which provide free drinking water", they went on. "These taps all have a ready supply of water. All bars are also offering free tap water. And although we no longer sell water in single-use bottles, all of our food traders are selling both water and soft drink in cans. There is also not a shortage of this canned water, which is available for those who wish to purchase it. Water is also being given out from our info points and we have roving teams providing water from backpacks".
So, basically, there was water. Loads of it. So much fucking water. Everywhere. And not the "relentlessly falling from the sky kind" either. The good kind. So shush with all your moaning. Of course, the dramatic shift to zero plastic bottles was always going to trip people up and result in some issues. Nevertheless, I don't think anyone would be arguing for their return. Not after David Attenborough got up on stage and hailed the ban.
But with other events being encouraged to do the same regarding single-use plastics, there may be lessons to be learned from Glastonbury's messaging on the matter.
iHeart confirms it will direct list on Nasdaq
iHeart announced in April that it would likely list on a stock exchange as it comes out a long-running restructuring process that saw the firm slip into bankruptcy. It's hoped that the restructure and stock market listing will allow the broadcaster to put behind it years of uncertainty that were caused by a massive debt-load which was in turn caused by a stupid 'leveraged buyout' of the business back in 2008.
On Friday the company said: "As previously announced, iHeart had been evaluating all paths to achieve a listing of its Class A common stock on a recognised US stock exchange following emergence from its restructuring process. iHeartMedia has determined that a listing on the Nasdaq Global Select Market is the optimal strategy for iHeartMedia and all of the company's stakeholders".
The direct listing means that paperwork previously filed with the US Securities & Exchange Commission that prepared the way for a full-on IPO has now been withdrawn. The broadcaster says that it will meet with investors on 15 Jul before listing on Nasdaq on 18 Jul.
Boss man Bob Pittman added: "This is an exciting time for our company and an important step in the evolution of iHeartMedia. Our listing on the Nasdaq will provide greater liquidity for existing shareholders, allow us to diversify our investor base, and give us improved access to public capital markets in the future".
Cold War Kids have signed a label services deal with Kobalt's AWAL. "Their latest album is a huge step forward and we're proud to support them", says AWAL CEO Lonny Olinick. The band's new album 'New Age Norms' is out later this year.
Babymetal have announced that they will release their new album, 'Metal Galaxy', on 11 Oct. They're still being promoted as a duo, but at Glastonbury performed with Morning Musume's Riho Sayashi to bring them back up to a trio.
Hellyeah have released new single 'Oh My God', taken from new album 'Welcome Home'.
K Trap has released the video for 'Big Mood', from his new mixtape 'No Magic'. He's going to be doing a whole load of touring in September.
Boytronic have released new single 'All You Can Eat'. It's a right 80s buffet. New album, 'The Robot Treatment', is out in September.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ozzy Osbourne tells Trump not to use his music, suggests alternatives
The video showed footage of the first televised debate, on MSNBC, between Democratic Party candidates that are hoping to become the 2020 presidential candidate. The broadcast was hit with technical difficulties, which are shown in the clip. It is then edited (quite badly) to fade to black, before showing Trump at a podium applauding as presenters talking about the technical problems and 'Crazy Train' clash underneath.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne said: "We are sending notice to the Trump campaign (or any other campaigns) that they are forbidden from using any of Ozzy Osbourne's music in political ads or in any political campaigns. Ozzy's music cannot be used for any means without approvals".
This particular clip is technically not an actual campaign video, because it was put together by Carpe Donktum, an "eternally sarcastic meme-smith specialising in the creation of memes to support President Donald J Trump". So, it wasn't put together by the Trump campaign at all. But then Trump did tweet it. Does that make it part of a campaign?
Anyway, the Osbournes' statement went on to namecheck several musicians who have put their weight behind Trump, saying: "Perhaps he should reach out to some of his musician friends. Maybe Kayne West ('Gold Digger'), Kid Rock ('I Am The Bullgod') or Ted Nugent ('Stranglehold') will allow use of their music".
Of course, Trump's entire political career - even though, relatively speaking, that's been quite short - has been beset with musicians complaining about him using their music.
Generally this has been at rallies, where his use of this or that pop star's music is likely covered by the blanket licences of the venues where he speaks. Nevertheless, it has often been suggested that he should just use music by artists who like him. Although that gives the President a very small pool of tracks to choose from, and even those acts who do express support have sometimes objected to having their music directly linked to a campaign.
Also, at this stage, Trump and his campaign team are well aware that using music without asking frequently rubs artists the wrong way. Their complaints then get a lot of press coverage, but actual legal repercussions don't generally follow. And while there's the moral argument that politicians shouldn't grab other people's art and use it for political purposes, given that Trump got elected with very little moral standing back in 2016, I'm not sure anyone's that bothered about any of that.