|WEDNESDAY 31 JULY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The second phase of the 'Dark Horse' song-theft court case kicked off yesterday and the main topic for discussion was money, money, money. The Katy Perry hit brought in about $41 million in revenues, the court was told, of which $3.3 million went to the pop star herself, while label Capitol Records likely made nearly ten times that amount... [READ MORE]|
'Joyful Noise' makers now seek their share of the $41 million made by Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse'
In a headline-grabbing judgement on Monday, a jury ruled that Perry and her song-writing team subconsciously infringed the 2008 Christian rap track 'Joyful Noise' when writing 'Dark Horse' in 2013, mainly by lifting a distinct six note musical phrase.
The artist behind 'Joyful Noise' - Marcus Gray aka Flame - sued Perry et al all the way back in 2014. When the dispute finally got to court it was decided to split the case into two phases, assessing the infringement claim first and then damages second. With the jury ruling in the Gray's favour at the end of the first phase, the debate about damages has now begun.
There are various questions to be asked in order to ascertain what damages Gray and his musical collaborators - Emanuel Lambert and Chike Ojukwu - should now receive. First, what monies did 'Dark Horse' generate? Second, what costs did Perry, her collaborators and her business partners incur in making and marketing the record? And third, how big a role did the lifted musical phrase play in the success of the track?
Obviously the latter is by far the hardest question to answer. And yesterday legal reps for the Perry side were going out of their way to stress just how inconsequential the infringing musical phrase is in 'Dark Horse', despite it being rather distinctive throughout. After all, said legal man Aaron M Wais, "What makes a Katy Perry song profitable? Katy Perry".
As for the monies generated by and spent on the hit, the court was presented with a list of income and expenditure for the record, broken down by each of the people and companies involved in the track. So that's what pay out each participant received, and what costs they incurred, including - on the artist side - fees taken by their representatives.
According to Law 360, the court was told that Perry herself made about $3.3 million from the record and incurred about $815,000 in fees and other costs.
Producers Max Martin and Dr Luke made about $1.3 million and $1.4 million respectively, the latter getting most of his share through his publishing business. Their costs were $138,000 (Martin) and $78,000 (Luke).
Guest rapper Juicy J made about $631,000 with costs of $119,000, while two other contributing songwriters - Henry Walter and Sarah Hudson - respectively received about $826,000 and $670,000, with costs of approximately $206,000 and $80,000.
On the corporate side, Kobalt and Warner each took about $130,000, while the label that released the track, Universal's Capitol Records, likely had by far the biggest payday.
That said, the two sides in the legal battle are yet to agree on the precise size of the major's take. Lawyers for Gray reckon it saw revenues in the region of $31 million. But Capitol would, of course, have incurred by far the biggest costs, and it will be hard to separate out what it spent on promoting 'Dark Horse' from the costs of marketing the album it came from, 'Prism'.
However, either way Team Gray reckon that the Perry hit made an awful a lot of cash. So, however big or small a role the court decides the six notes from 'Joyful Noise' played in the success of 'Dark Horse', they are presumably hoping for a sizeable damages cheque to come out of this second phase of the court's deliberations.
Of course, it seems likely that the Perry team will appeal the initial infringement ruling, meaning they are still presumably hoping that they can avoid paying any damages at all long-term. But in the meantime, it will be interesting to see what slice of the 'Dark Horse' dosh the court decides to allocate to the 'Joyful Noise' makers at this stage.
The Gaslamp killer drops libel action against woman who accused him of rape
Tadros made a number of allegations against Bensussen via Twitter in 2017. She alleged that the musician had drugged and raped both her and a friend after they met at a party in 2013. He denied the claims, insisting that he and the two women had had sex consensually.
After various business partners cut their ties with Bensussen in the wake of the allegations, he sued Tadros, her friend and her boyfriend for defamation and emotional distress. That lawsuit was then streamlined by a judge last year, so that only the libel claims against Tadros remained.
In their joint statement, Tadros still claims that she was drugged by a third party on that night in 2013 and was therefore unable to consent to sex. However, Bensussen says that he did not drug either of the women, did not realise they had been drugged, and was therefore not aware that they were not in a position to consent.
The joint statement reads: "After engaging in heartfelt discussions with each other about the events of July 5, 2013, William Bensussen and Chelsea Tadros have decided that it is their mutual desire to move on with their lives and put this lawsuit behind them. For this reason, Mr Bensussen has agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against Ms Tadros".
It goes on: "After their discussions, Ms Tadros acknowledges she does not know who drugged her, and both parties recognise that Ms Tadros could have been drugged by one of the many attendees that were present on July 5, 2013".
"Ms Tadros continues to maintain", it adds, "that she was drugged and thereby unable to consent on July 5, 2013. Mr Bensussen maintains that he has never drugged or raped anyone, and that he did not have any indication that Ms Tadros was drugged or unable to consent. Furthermore, had Mr Bensussen known or believed that Ms Tadros did not or was unable to consent, he would not have engaged in any sexual activity".
The statement concludes by confirming that no monies have change hands as part of the settlement between Bensussen and Tadros. Both sides then ask their respective supporters to "show respect and compassion for this decision and for the other side".
FUGA buys rights management platform Songspace
According to FUGA, Songspace "centralises essential publishing assets such as metadata, audio files, agreements and writer contacts and also identifies gaps in data such as accreditation and lyrics".
While the new acquisition will remain a standalone product run by its current team, by uniting the FUGA and Songspace platforms, the companies say that together they will be able to "build a world-class service with combined publishing and master recording functionality ... offering clients a complete rights dataset in one go".
And what's not to like about that? Songspace co-founder Christopher Igoe added that through FUGA'a acquisition of and subsequent investment in his business, he and his team will be able to "deliver new features and improvements even faster while improving music metadata for all of our current and future clients".
300 Entertainment marketing chief joins Warner's ADA
In his new job he'll report into Warner's President of Independent Music & Creator Services, Eliah Seton, who says: "John has built a reputation as a brilliant and creative thinker, a determined and process-oriented executive, and a warm and kind soul. His breadth of experience, along with his outstanding relationships across the digital platforms, will make him a tremendous asset as we continue to raise the bar in the services we provide our label partners and artists. We're THRILLED to welcome him to the ADA family".
Noting his previous role at Warner's Elektra label, Franck says of his new gig: "When I first began my career at Elektra, I remember the great joy and excitement I felt walking into the building. I feel the same way returning to the Warner family, working with Eliah and his team at ADA. Now, more than ever, I believe in the long-term value of artist development and the opportunities to serve independent artists and continue to help them grow and reach wider global audiences".
Beastie Boys mark 'Paul's Boutique' 30th with Adidas trainers
But don't worry, the rap group aren't selling out too much. Not least because proceeds from all sales of the recently announced shoes - which are currently available in selected skate-wear shops Stateside - will go to two charities: underprivileged families organisation Peace Sisters and education foundation Little Kids Rock.
Also noteworthy is that the shoes are officially vegan, which is worthy of note because most Adidas trainers are made from leather. These employ an off-white canvas.
And now here's a quote from Cullen Poythress of Adidas Skateboarding: "Few artists showcase the confluence of so many different elements of 80s and 90s subculture better than Beastie Boys. They represent skateboarding. They represent graffiti. They represent hardcore punk. They represent hip-hop. And they represent street fashion and style".
Audio-sharing platform for musicians winds down due to takedown challenges
Instaudio was always a grass roots project run by a single music maker and programmer who originally developed the tool so he could share his own music with friends. He then started making it available to other musicians in May 2013.
He confirmed that he was winding down the project earlier this week, citing various reasons, including the rising costs of running the service. But another reason is the ever-increasing number of users ignoring the message on the Instaudio upload page stating that people should only share audio in which they control the rights.
A statement confirming the closure notes: "The abuse situation has gotten to the point where I'm being threatened with 'legal consequences' and other such things [by labels and other rights owners] because, in those organisations' judgment, I am ineffective at preventing infringing content from being distributed through Instaudio".
Although Instaudio's operator has always endeavoured to deal with takedown requests from rights owners, and developed some scripts to automate some of that process, the amount of unauthorised uploads and resulting takedown demands has made running the service on a non-commercial basis unviable.
The statement goes on: "I have always operated Instaudio in good faith, with the goal of letting musicians and other audio producers like myself share their works in progress with their peers, in a no-hassle way. Unfortunately good intent is always abused on the internet. To survive the abuse, websites need the resources to implement effective measures against it - measures that often lead to false positives, to the dismay of legitimate users. For many, Instaudio was a breath of fresh air from that sort of thing, but, alas".
US artists form new lobbying group
There are parallels between the new Music Artists Coalition and the UK's Featured Artists Coalition, although the American group will also have artist representatives on its board, including managers Irving Azoff and Coran Capshaw and lawyer Jordan Bromley.
As in many countries, in America there are an assortment of trade groups, unions, professional bodies and collecting societies that all speak up for the music community in political circles.
That includes organisations representing labels, publishers and other music companies, as well as songwriters and record producers. And while many of those will say they speak for artists, and some have artists as members, Azoff argues that - at the moment - the artists themselves "don't really have a seat at any table".
Of course, last year there was unprecedented collaboration between those various music industry groups as the Music Modernization Act went through the motions.
That legislation instigated what were sometimes referred to as "once in a generation" copyright reforms. Though it has to be said that there remain plenty of other changes to copyright and other laws that the music community would still like to see. And presumably the new MAC is hoping to part of the conversation around those further reforms.
It's not the first time Azoff has been involved in setting up a lobbying group for artists, his previous effort, the Recording Artists Coalition, being subsequently merged into the Recording Academy.
It's not clear what issues the new group will prioritise. Many of the big talking points in the American music industry at the moment relate primarily to songwriters, including the setting up of the new mechanical rights society initiated by the MMA; the dispute at the Copyright Royalty Board about what monies streaming services should pay; and the latest review of the consent decrees that regulate existing societies BMI and ASCAP.
But there are other issues too that are not specific to song rights. Not least the pesky copyright safe harbour that has just been reformed in Europe. And, of course, the never-ending campaign to force American AM and FM radio stations to pay royalties to labels and artists, in the same way their counterparts do in most other countries.
Launching the new Coalition, Henley said in a statement: "Artists decide their musical fate every time they write a song or step on stage. Their true fate - the ability to protect their music - is being decided by others ... bureaucrats, government legislators, and the powerful digital gatekeepers. We are forming the Music Artists Coalition to ensure that there is an organisation whose sole mission is to protect the rights of music artists performers and songwriters".
Dreamland Margate celebrates Turner prize with giant inflatable Tina Turner head
We are assuming that it was with that fact in mind - ie aware that the August lull in 'and finally' stories was about the begin - that the Dreamland Margate amusement park decided to announce yesterday plans to display a giant inflatable head that looks a bit like Tina Turner. The inflatable is being, well, inflated to mark the fact that the art world's big Turner Prize is being staged in the seaside town this year, as its Turner Contemporary art gallery.
Says Dreamland CEO Eddie Kemsley said: "Turner Prize 2019 is one of the biggest events to come to Margate - so we responded in kind. Margate is a haven for internationally renowned artists and the Turner Contemporary is at the heart of the town's cultural evolution. But Margate is also - and always has been - delightfully kitsch, fun and a trendsetter".
"So we wanted to create a work of art at Dreamland that would complement the Turner Prize exhibition", Kemsley added, "by offering visitors another anchor point of interest - and also show the alternative, modern and wonderfully camp side of Margate's arts scene". To that end, "we're THRILLED to be honouring one of music's greatest icons with a piece of fan art that thousands of people will be able to engage with and enjoy for free".
Alongside the seven-metre high inflatable Tina Turner head, made by artists Cool Shit, the amusement park is also staging the Tina Turner Prize, an open competition to find a new Tina Turner-themed work of art that will then be displayed on Dreamland's 'mural by the sea' billboard.
Because, well, who knows why? Oh, I do. Because August is a quiet time for silly stories to fill the CMU 'and finally' section, and now it has been duly filled. So thank you to Eddie! Thank you to Margate! Thank you Turner! And thank you Tina!