|THURSDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The bold statements continue in the ongoing legal battle over the 2008 fire at Universal Music's Hollywood archive. Lawyers working for the artists say that, for all its talk about transparency, the major still refuses to hand over basic information about the blaze. The major, meanwhile, reckons that the lawyers are desperately trying to keep alive a "meritless" class action even though it's proven that none of their clients were negatively impacted by the warehouse incident... [READ MORE]|
Soundgarden lawyers want court to force Universal to share fire files
The 2008 fire at a facility owned by Universal Studios is newsworthy again, of course, because of recent New York Times reports that accused Universal of covering up the true extent of the blaze and the number of master tapes that were lost. The music firm denied many of the newspaper's claims, but that didn't stop a class action lawsuit being filed by some of the artists the Times said had lost recordings.
Soundgarden, Hole, Steve Earle, and the estates of Tupac Shakur of Tom Petty, were all listed as plaintiffs on the lawsuit. Universal insists that most of those artists didn't lose any masters in the fire. Soundgarden did, but - Universal claims - already knew about it, and participated in a 2015 re-release of the affected album which was made using a back-up copy.
However, lawyers working for the artists argue that Universal has failed to provide documentation to back up most of these claims. They also want to know what recordings were actually lost, and on what grounds Universal scored reported $100 million+ damages from its insurer and Universal Studios in the wake of the fire.
To that end said lawyers have now asked the court to force Universal to hand over the documents they want to see. According to Billboard, a legal rep for Soundgarden said: "This is a case that UMG wants to litigate with rhetoric in the media rather than on the merits in the courtroom. UMG is refusing to produce any discovery".
One of the lawyers working on the case, Ed McPherson, expanded on what information the bands are looking for and why they want it. He said: "There was a huge fire. It burned something. UMG sued [Universal Studios owner] NBCUniversal and its own insurer, recovering what was reported to be over $100 million for irreplaceable masters that were destroyed. UMG has told everyone that nobody lost any masters. Then, what in the world did they get the $100 million for?"
He adds that court papers relating to those damages are redacted. "Apparently there is something in the court files that UMG doesn't want us to see". McPherson then says he wants to get to the bottom of all this "because we feel that UMG artists should get 50% of UMG's recovery".
Of course, Universal argues that - because of the way record contracts work - it was the sole owner of whatever masters were lost and therefore was and is under no obligation to share any of those damages with the affected artists.
Meanwhile, in a speedy response to the other side's latest demands, the record company has again questioned the motives of the lawyers working the case. Calling their discovery requests "oppressive, over broad, and voluminous", it says the attorneys' main motivation in seeking more documentation is to identify possible new clients for their class action, it having now proven that none of the originally named plaintiffs were negatively impacted by the fire.
The major then reaffirms its position that, even if the pesky lawyers can find an artist to represent who did completely lose some recordings, it still doesn't have to share any of its damages with those acts. "There is nothing unusual or untoward", it writes in a new legal filing, "about UMG retaining settlement and insurance payments it rightly received following the destruction of property that plaintiffs concede belonged to UMG".
And so the back and forth of bold statements continues.
Alicia Keys moves publishing catalogue to Universal
"At the beginning of her career, I was fortunate to have signed Alicia to her first music publishing deal at age fourteen", says UMPG CEO Jody Gerson. "We shared tremendous success together over time and our relationship grew from a professional, publisher-songwriter relationship into a deep, personal friendship. Now, it is an honour to bring Alicia into my UMPG family".
"In the many years I've known Alicia, she has risen to become one of the biggest names in music and an icon in art and culture whose songs are celebrated by fans around the world", she continues. "I respect her tremendously as a songwriter, producer, performer, artist, mother, businesswoman, and as a person who is in control and standing in her power. Our UMPG global team looks forward to delivering outstanding creative opportunities in support of her timeless music".
Gerson signed Keys to her first publishing deal in the mid-90s while she was working at EMI Music Publishing. Keys continued to work with the company, and latterly Sony/ATV since its acquisition of the EMI publishing business.
Ava Max signs Warner Chappell publishing deal
"I'm someone who speaks my mind, so it was important to me that my publisher value originality and creative expression", says Max. "I trust the APG crew immensely, and am excited to collaborate with the Warner Chappell team to begin this next chapter".
I don't know if that means she doesn't trust Warner Chappell. I'm sure she does. Here's the immensely trustworthy Katy Wolaver, the publisher's US President Of A&R: "Ava is bold, fearless, and a breath of fresh air. The world's only just begun to see the heights that she can hit, and we're excited to be by her side in the journey ahead".
APG's Angie Pagano adds: "I've had the privilege of working closely with Ava, and it's amazing to see her personality and creativity brought to life in her music. Her incredible voice and passion for pop music set her apart, and I'm happy to support her relentless determination as she continues to skyrocket".
APG - which does label services as the Artist Partner Group and publishing nonsense as the Artist Publishing Group - is a joint venture between Warner Music label Atlantic and Warner Music exec Mike Caren. Its songs catalogue is administered by Warner Chappell. Max already releases her recordings through the Artist Partner Group, which is in turn distributed by Atlantic. It all seems unnecessarily complicated.
Sony further boosts merch operations through Kontraband acquisition
Having been way behind rival Universal Music when it comes to the merch side of the music business - Universal owning market-leading Bravado - Sony has been slowly ramping up its merchandise activities in the US of late via a division called The Thread Shop.
That unit's American operations were recently boosted through the acquisition of the music merch business of New York theatre firm the The Araca Group. The Kontraband deal gives Sony a good presence in the music merchandise marketplace on this side of the Atlantic, with the new acquisition's team set to work closely with the aforementioned Thread Shop.
Meanwhile Kontraband director Paul Entwistle adds: "We're hugely excited about joining the Sony Music family. From the very start of our conversations, there was a very clear vision about the role merchandise would play alongside their other services, so it's a massive opportunity for us to be able to integrate as part of this. Kontraband's reputation was made by approaching merchandise in an innovative and creative manner and we're looking forward to continuing to deliver this for artists on the Sony Music roster".
New podcast focussing on women working in music launches
"I started the podcast to field my own curiosity and thought others may find it interesting", says Corbett. "We know that women are underrepresented in music, but we are in music. Women in music are doing amazing things, we should share our experiences more, inspire others and celebrate each other".
"Hence, I thought, why not host my friends for dinner and make a podcast about the day to day of our jobs, how we got to where we are, offer advice and shout out to other women we are loving right now", she adds.
Each episode will focus on a different aspect of working in the music industry, with the first looking at record labels. Corbett's guests for this are Domino Records Senior PR Aoife Kitt and former International Assistant at Domino Libby Nicol. Upcoming episodes will look at publishing, artist management and radio.
Kele Okereke tackles racism on new solo single
"There is a history of black entertainers feeling that after they have achieved a certain level of success that they are above discussions of race but that idea is a delusion", says Okereke.
"As a person of colour living in the western world", he goes on, "it does not matter how much wealth one accumulates, race will follow you wherever you go. With 'Jungle Bunny' I wanted to explore this idea: In a time of such rampant division and public racism, what is the responsibility of the black entertainer?"
The album is set for release on 8 Nov. Listen to 'Jungle Bunny' here.
The date for R Kelly's Chicago sexual abuse trial has been set for 27 Apr next year. Although the judge confirmed that this date may move, as Kelly is facing three other trials in different parts of the country, including New York. The music star's lawyer Steve Greenberg explained that preparing for four trials is difficult and he wasn't sure his team would be ready by April. Currently Kelly is being held without bail.
Bristol's floating music venue Thekla has returned to its home on the city's East Mud Dock following a £1 million refurb. "It's great to be getting our boat back home", says GM Alex Black. "The work has gone really well in dry dock and it's fantastic to think [owner] DHP's investment has safeguarded Thekla's future for the next 50 years". Gigs and club nights start again at the venue from 15 Sep.
The former chief of live music firm MAMA (now a Live Nation division), Dean James, has announced the launch of a new "live experience and events agency" called BeSixth. A partnership with Gavin Aldrich, MD of youth marketing firm Campus Group, the new venture will also incorporate the venues of Sixth, the company James established after departing MAMA.
Sony/ATV in the US has promoted Kristina Hedrick to VP Business Development. She became Senior Director, Business Development last year. "I'm THRILLED to be able to continue to nurture our existing songwriter relationships and to build new ones as well", she says.
Global Radio has promoted James Rea to the role of Director Of Broadcast ultimately overseeing the output of all of the firm's radio stations. He also joins the company's board. He replaces radio industry veteran Richard Park who announced he was stepping down from the post earlier this year after a period of ill-health.
BMG has appointed Andreas Katsambas to the newly created role of EVP Latin America & Canada. He will oversee the development of recordings and publishing infrastructure in both territories from the company's New York offices. "This appointment marks the beginnings of a second-stage rollout of our services around the world", says CEO Hartwig Masuch.
Warner Music's Parlophone Records has hired Ina Rasinger and Jin Jin - or Janée Bennett - as A&R Director and Senior A&R Manager respectively. Rasinger joins from Sony Music Germany, while Bennett has had a successful career as a songwriter. "Ina's 100% artist-driven and has one of the best A&R minds in the business", says Parlophone co-President Nick Burgess. "Jin Jin's also a hugely inspiring character".
Marathon Music Group has announced the appointment of James Farrelly to the position of Global Trade Marketing Director. He joins from Sony Music's Ministry Of Sound Recordings division. "I'm honoured", says Farrelly.
Billie Eilish has released the video for 'All The Good Girls Go To Hell', alongside a plea to fans to take action against climate change ahead of the UN's 2019 Climate Action Summit in New York. "Right now, there are millions of people all over the world begging our leaders to pay attention", she said. "Our earth is warming up at an unprecedented rate, icecaps are melting, our oceans are rising, our wildlife is being poisoned and our forests are burning".
Sean Paul has released the video for new single 'When It Comes To You'.
Adam Lambert has released new single 'Superpower'. It's taken from his new EP 'Velvet: Side A', which is out on 27 Sep.
Anna Of The North has announced that she will release her second album 'Dream Girl' on 25 Oct. Here's the title track.
GIGS & TOURS
Lightning Bolt have announced UK shows in November, including a two night run at The Underworld in Camden. Their new album, 'Sonic Citadel', is out on 25 Oct. Here's new single 'Air Conditioning'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Third lawsuit filed over Fyre Festival footage in Netflix doc
A third lawsuit has now been filed claiming that Netflix's film used, without permission, footage shot by a festival-goer. Austin Mills says that he refused to license the footage when approached by the makers of the documentary, but that it was used nonetheless.
Mills also claims that his "impactful" footage is key to the film's storytelling, adding that he captured other festival-goers "discovering the dire reality of the situation" and "the festival organiser addressing the distressed attendees".
According to Law360, the lawsuit states that the makers of the Netflix production "knew they needed to obtain plaintiff's permission to use his footage, going so far as to ask for a licence, but then without regard to plaintiff's rights, used the footage without consent".
"Ironically", it goes on, "[the defendants] seem to have scammed plaintiff of his footage for use in their film about a major scam".
Continuing down this line, the lawsuit heavily criticises Jerry Media, one of the producers of the documentary and also the social media agency behind the festival. The lawsuit claims that the whole film project is "little more than a media campaign to absolve some defendants of their complicity in [the original Fyre Festival] scam".
Another similar lawsuit was filed last month, almost identical to one which resulted in an out-of-court settlement in June.