|WEDNESDAY 24 JULY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Producer Dr Luke yesterday told a jury that allowing someone to own a simple musical phrase - like that used in Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' - would constrain songwriters in much the same way as telling an author they weren't allowed to use the words 'the', 'and' or 'a'. He also insisted that neither he nor any of his songwriting pals had ever heard of the Christian rap track they are accused on ripping off on Perry's 2013 hit... [READ MORE]|
Dr Luke says songwriters will be creatively constrained if court rules Katy Perry hit ripped off Christian rap track
That Christian rap track is called 'Joyful Noise' and was released by an artist called Flame, real name Marcus Gray. He sued Perry all the way back in 2014, arguing that she and her co-writers on 'Dark Horse' subconsciously copied the song he had made with his creative collaborators several years earlier.
To prove that, Gray needs to show that 'Joyful Noise' and 'Dark Horse' are sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement. And then he needs to show that Perry or one of her collaborators had heard the religious rap before writing the pop hit.
When the dispute finally reached court last week, Perry herself insisted that she had never heard of Gray or his record, while her legal reps argued that the musical elements the two tracks have in common are simple constructions found in a plethora of songs.
Yesterday it was Perry collaborator Dr Luke's turn to insist he'd never heard of Gray and that the features of 'Joyful Noise' he is accused of stealing are simple musical building blocks that any songwriter might employ. On his ignorance of Gray's oeuvre, the producer in part relied on the big wall that sits between Christian music and all things pop. There's no way he could have heard 'Joyful Noise' playing on the other side of that divide, he argued.
And anyway, he then added, repeating the Perry side's key argument, the musical phrase 'Joyful Noise' and 'Dark Horse' share - four C notes followed by two B notes - is way too simple to be protected by copyright. It employs the basic building blocks of music in a very simple way, he said, according to Law360. If copyright law could be used to prevent songwriters from using such basic building blocks in that way, "it'd be like trying to write a book without using words like 'the,' 'and' or 'a'".
The producer also discussed the creative process that led to 'Dark Horse'. It all began with a catchy instrumental beat put together by Henry Walter, aka Cirkut, who also testified yesterday. Luke heard that beat and suggested adding some underlying bass notes to give it all a little more depth. When Perry later heard it, she "immediately lit up at the sound of it", and so the full song was built around Cirkut and Luke's original creation.
That, see, is how you go about creating a song copyright. Not just putting six notes in a row and claiming you now own that musical phrase. Or, at least, that's what Perry, Luke and Cirkut would like you all to know, all three being very keen to tell the court just how seriously they take this music making lark.
Although, in the interest of balance, we should point out that a musicologist hired by the plaintiffs in this case was adamant that 'Joyful Noise' and 'Dark Horse' are "substantially similar". And you can't have a song-theft case without a musicologist insisting two songs are "substantially similar".
The court hearing continues.
TikTok takes PRS and ICE to Copyright Tribunal
There has been plenty of TikTok chatter in the music industry over the last year, of course, ever since it subsumed that other buzzy user-generated content app Musical.ly.
Some of that chatter has concentrated on the marketing potential of TikTok, while others have focused on when and how the app - and its Chinese parent company Bytedance - would sort out licensing deals with the global music industry. As those licensing talks got underway, there was then a new round of gossip to the effect that Bytedance is also plotting a full-on music streaming service that will build on the TikTok phenomenon.
Getting global music licences sorted is quite a task, of course, as the 'Digital Dollar' reports CMU Insights has published with the Music Managers Forum have outlined in some detail.
Bytedance needs to get itself deals with the labels and distributors on the recordings side, and then the publishers and societies on the songs side. And while the majors have started throwing some song rights into the deals they do around their recording catalogues - especially with user-generated content platforms - that's not as helpful as it sounds for services that basically need licences covering pretty much every song.
Quite what led to TikTok deciding to go the Copyright Tribunal route against PRS and ICE in the UK is not yet clear. It was Music Ally that first spotted that said Tribunal had issued a notice confirming that "a dispute has arisen concerning the terms of a licence between [TikTok Inc] and ICE, PRS, STIM and GEMA".
ICE, of course, is the copyright hub set up by PRS along with Swedish society STIM and German society GEMA. Among other things, it negotiates and administers multi-territory licences in the digital market on behalf of its three shareholders.
The Copyright Tribunal is a special court that can intervene when UK collecting societies are negotiating deals on behalf of their members. It exists to help overcome the competition law concerns that emerge as soon as the music industry adopts a collective licensing approach, where single organisations get to license pretty much all the recordings, or all the songs, or possibly both.
It's usually broadcasters or concert promoters or trade bodies representing pubs and clubs who take collecting societies like PRS or PPL to Copyright Tribunal.
In the digital domain there are complications. Not least because, for multi-territory digital services, PRS only negotiates licences for a portion of its members. Most of the bigger publishers now negotiate their own deals with streaming services around their Anglo-American catalogues, bundling those elements of the copyright actually controlled by PRS into their directly-negotiated licences.
Therefore, when PRS sits down to negotiate licensing deals with streaming services, it's only bringing a portion of its repertoire to the table. Which arguably means you no longer have the monopoly issues that the Copyright Tribunal was set up to counter.
Though there's an added complication that, with an ICE deal, STIM and GEMA catalogue are also included. And those societies do still basically enjoy a virtual monopoly over their members' works. But if the issue is with Swedish and German rights, why not pursue competition complaints in Sweden or Germany? So, that's all nice and complicated isn't it?
Confirming that TikTok had gone the Tribunal route, ICE said in a statement this week: "The TikTok platform is unlicensed and ICE is disappointed an agreement for use of the millions of musical works belonging to the songwriters, composers and publishers we represent has not been reached before this point".
"We look forward to representing our rightsholders' interests and securing appropriate value for the vast scale of usage of their repertoire on the platform", it went on. "Our aim is that by following this legal process TikTok will agree a licence that fairly reflects the value of our rightsholders music".
Of course, given how faddy internet users have proven to be, there's always a chance that the TikTok phenomenon will be over by the time all these licensing complexities and disputes have been dealt with. Though the micro-licensing of user-generated platforms remains an under-tapped revenue stream for the music industry at large - even with the big advances Facebook paid to secure its deals - so it's almost certainly worth music rights owners persevering on all this.
Unless, of course, TikTok manages to find a way to cut out the entire pesky music industry. Maybe by coming up with its own music!
OK, that's not likely to happen, but another thing MusicAlly noticed while monitoring all things TikTok this week is that Bytedance has seemingly acquired UK-based AI Music set up Jukedeck. And although Jukedeck was always adamant that its aim was never to use artificial intelligence to replace the artist or the songwriter in the music making process, things would be a fuck load easier for TikTok et al if it could.
Meanwhile, we await TikTok's Copyright Tribunal hearing with interest. I might even buy a new hat.
Lizzo signs with Warner Chappell
"Songwriting has always been a passion of mine even before I started singing, rapping or playing the flute", says Lizzo. "Having people connect to my lyrics is one of the most rewarding things about creating music and I'm so honoured that Warner Chappell is giving me this platform to do what I love".
The Warner publisher's CEO Guy Moot adds: "Lizzo is a truly original artist and songwriter, blessed with a powerhouse voice and effortless flow. She's a leader among a new generation of talent shaping pop music, and we're delighted she's chosen to be with Warner Chappell".
The company's US President of A&R, Ryan Press, also chimes in: "Lizzo is unapologetically her bold, clever, creative self at all times. Her energy, honesty, and positivity are infectious, and as a songwriter, rapper and singer, she is doing things that no one else is doing".
Lizzo's latest album, 'Cuz I Love You', is out now. Which you obviously know, it being your favourite album of this year.
Cooking Vinyl Publishing signs US sub-publishing deal with The Royalty Network
"When I joined CV one of the first things I wanted to do was find a great partner for the US to enable us to 'scale up' on collections, sync and A&R [there]", says Cooking Vinyl Publishing MD Ryan Farley. "I'm delighted to get this deal done and am excited to start working with the Royalty Network team. Having spent a good time with them, I know their passion and commitment will add great value as we continue to build and develop our roster of artists, producers and songwriters".
Speaking for The Royalty Network, its CEO Frank Liwall adds: "The Cooking Vinyl team have proven they're a first class organisation and we're pleased to now provide the expertise necessary to further exploit their works in our territory".
Cooking Vinyl Publishing's roster currently includes Lucy Spraggan, C Duncan, Groove Armada, Reverend And the Makers, Sam Duckworth, The Dillinger Escape Plan, 65daysofstaic and more.
R Kelly's crisis manager quits
Appearing on 'CBS This Morning' earlier this week, Darrell Johnson said that he would not leave his daughter - who is in her 20s - alone with "anyone who is accused of being a paedophile". He added that this did not contradict his previous public statements defending Kelly.
However, Johnson later confirmed that he was no longer working with the star. According to 'CBS This Morning' host Gayle King, he insisted that he had not been asked to quit as a result of the interview. Instead, he said, he was leaving "for personal reasons" and because of a concern that he was becoming "a distraction" in the efforts to exonerate Kelly.
Subsequently speaking to TMZ, Johnson again said that he was not fired as a result of the CBS interview, but that he was stepping down to deal with a family emergency. He added that his comments had been edited to make him look bad and that he would "1000% leave my daughter with Mr Kelly".
R Kelly, of course, is now facing numerous criminal charges relating to the sexual abuse of women and underage girls. He is currently being held without bail. It was confirmed last week that he will be transported in custody between hearings in New York and Chicago over the next two months.
AIM announces 2019 Independent Music Awards nominees
Scoring the most noms overall are Idles, who are up for four awards, including UK Independent Breakthrough and International Breakthrough. They've just been breaking out everywhere. So has Jade Bird, who is the next most nom-ed, appearing in both of those categories, plus Best Independent Album. Idles didn't make it into that category, but do appear in the Best [Difficult] Second Album shortlist.
The announcement also reveals the winner of this year's Outstanding Contribution To Music Award. Who's that? It's Debbie Harry off of Blondie.
"Blondie emerged from a scene that was truly independent and we have never lost that ethos", says Harry. "We always fought for the freedom to create what we wanted, without interference. It is an honour to receive this award from a community that helps make that happen every day for artists".
AIM CEO Paul Pacifico adds: "It's great to see the diversity among this year's nominees, which is a testament to the huge range of quality independent music being produced in 2019. We're looking forward to honouring established artists like Debbie Harry, and relishing exciting upcoming performers like Georgia".
Georgia? Oh yeah, she's been added to the line-up of the live show attached to the ceremony, which is to be headlined by Johnny Marr. She's also up for two awards in the Best Independent Track and One To Watch categories.
Do you want to get in on all this? Well, voting is now open for the Best Live Act category, which for some reason is left to the public to decide. You have to choose from a longlist of 51 acts though. Remember, it is immoral to vote unless you have seen each act on that list play live at least twice. For those of you that have, you can vote here.
Now, I suppose you want to see all these nominations in full. Sure you do. Here they are:
UK Independent Breakthrough: Black Midi, Ezra Collective, Gerry Cinnamon, Idles, Jade Bird
International Breakthrough: Afro B, Jade Bird, Maribou State, Nilüfer Yanya, Idles
Best Independent Track: Dave - Funky Friday (feat Fredo), FKA Twigs - Cellophane, Fontaines DC - Boys In The Better Land, Georgia - About Work The Dancefloor, Jarv Is - Must I Evolve, Jai Paul - Do You Love Her Now, Holly Herndon - Eternal, Little Simz - Selfish (feat Celo Sol), Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen, Four Tet - Teenage Birdsong
Best Independent Album: Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center, Christine And The Queens - Chris, Dave - Psychodrama, Fontaines DC - Dogrel, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes - End Of Suffering, Jade Bird - Jade Bird, Jordan Rakei - Origin, Little Simz - Grey Area, Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury, Swindle - No More Normal
Best [Difficult] Second Album: Erland Cooper - Sule Skerry, Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance, Julia Jacklin - Crushing, Maribou State - Kingdoms In Colour, Soak - Grim Town
One To Watch: Arlo Parks, Barney Artist, Georgia, Kokoroko, Larkins
Best Small Label: Fuzz Club Records, Killing Moon, Local Action, Scruff Of The Neck, Speedy Wunderground
Best Creative Packaging: Various Artists - Confessin The Blues, Murlo - Dolos, Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance, Various Artists - Sick Music 2019, Keith Richards - Talk Is Cheap
Best Independent Video: Christine And The Queens - Five Dollars, Hot Chip - Hungry Child, John Grant - He's Got His Mother's Hips, Caleb Steph - Black Boy, FKA Twigs - Cellophane
Best Independent Label: Brownswood Recordings, Domino, Nuclear Blast, Partisan Records, Rough Trade
Most Played New Independent Artist: AJ Tracey, Cosmo Sheldrake, Freya Ridings, Guru Randhawa, Jorja Smith
The Psychedelic Furs have signed a new record deal with Cooking Vinyl. The band will release their first studio album since 1991 early next year. "We are THRILLED", says the band's manager Rob Dillman.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Record industry trade group the BPI has welcomed 'Boris' Johnson as the UK's new Prime Minister. The organisation hopes "to work with the new government to strengthen the foundations of our thriving national music culture and support it to reach even greater international success in the streaming era". Yeah, I'm not sure there's going to be any time for that.
Indie label digital rights agency Merlin has promoted Jim Mahoney to VP Global Operations. "I enthusiastically approach this new role", he says enthusiastically.
Spotify has confirmed that Will Page will leave the streaming service later this year. He joined the company from collecting society PRS as its Chief Economist in 2012.
Taylor Swift has released new single 'The Archer' and made everyone cry.
The Hold Steady have released new single 'You Did Good Kid'. "'You Did Good Kid' is the first song we worked on for this session and remains a favourite", says frontman Craig Finn. "It went though a few iterations before we came to this arrangement, and I'm really psyched on it. It feels great to play live."
Tempa & Scorpz have released 'Gift Of The Gab', the title track of their new EP, which is out next week.
Allah Lahs have announced that they will release new album 'Lahs' on 11 Oct. From it, this is 'In The Air'.
Jade Imagine have released new single 'The News'. Their debut album, 'Basic Love', is out next week.
GIGS & TOURS
Stefflon Don and Sundara Karma have been announced as headliners of this year's War Child Safe & Sound shows in August and September. More information here.
Natasha Bedingfield will play a one-off show at Islington Assembly Hall on 28 Aug. Two days later she will release her first album for almost a decade, 'Roll With Me'. From that, here's new single 'Roller Skate'.
AlaskaAlaska have announce UK tour dates in November, which will finish up at XOYO in London on 21 Nov. They've also released the video for 'Sweat' from their debut album 'The Dots'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Madonna producer posts Like A Prayer demos on YouTube in attempt to halt auction
The demos are part of a controversial auction organised by Madonna's "former friend" (to quote Madonna) Darlene Lutz. The collection of 73 Madonna-related items - including a brush with some of her hair on it and a love letter from Tupac Shakur - originally went up for sale in 2017. Since then, Madge has been pursuing various legal routes in an attempt to block it all from happening.
Although Madonna did successfully secure an injunction at one point, this was eventually overturned. Earlier this year, all legal routes available were exhausted. The online auction was rescheduled and will now finish this Friday. That does not mean, however, that attempts to derail the sale are over.
In an effort to make the demo tape he recorded with Madonna back in 1989 (one of several demo cassettes included in the sale) less desirable, Leonard has posted three of its seven tracks on YouTube. Versions of 'Like A Prayer' and 'Cherish' are listed as having been recorded the day they were written. Plus he has posted unreleased track 'Angels With Dirty Faces'.
"I hope these posts stop the sale of that cassette at auction", he says. "Not cool at all that someone would sell it. Not theirs to sell".
It seems somewhat optimistic that this will significantly damage the item's value. Bidding for that particular tape is currently at $1283 - well above the $300 estimate, and making it by far the most sought after tape in the auction. The winner will get four more tracks than Leonard has made available, plus the physical item itself.
Auction house Gotta Have Rock N Roll is clearly not too concerned about items in the auction already being available digitally. Digital representations of the letter from Shakur are available in various places - not least the Gotta Have Rock N Roll website - but the actual letter still carries an estimated price of $300,000. Currently there are no bids on that item though, so who knows?
But it is true that, when it comes to collectors, they do tend to like to collect actual things. Plus, is Leonard not aware that the cassette revival marches on?