|FRIDAY 11 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: As expected, Katy Perry - and her team and business associates - have begun the process of appealing the ruling that said her 2013 song 'Dark Horse' ripped off the earlier Christian rap track 'Joyful Noise'. Perry et al have asked the Californian courts to either set aside entirely the jury's decision in the headline grabbing song-theft case, reduce the damages awarded to the makers of 'Joyful Noise', or to order a retrial... [READ MORE]|
Katy Perry appeals $2.7 million Dark Horse song-theft ruling
The artist behind 'Joyful Noise' - Marcus Gray aka Flame - sued Perry all the way back in 2014 claiming that his copyright had been infringed by 'Dark Horse'. When it finally got the court this summer a jury first ruled that the Perry team had indeed infringed Gray's rights, and then awarded him and his collaborators $2.7 million in damages.
It was a controversial ruling within the music community. Some saw it as part of a trend in the American courts where juries with no copyright expertise decide that one song infringes the copyright in another, when the similarities between the two works are just common musical elements found in countless pop and rock songs.
To prove infringement, the 'Joyful Noise' side had to do two things. Firstly, demonstrate that Perry or one of her songwriting pals had been exposed to the earlier track before starting work on 'Dark Horse'. And second, convince the jury that the two songs were sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement.
In the new legal filing disputing the jury's decision, the Perry side argues that neither of these things were achieved during the court hearing back in July.
On the first point, they write: "Plaintiffs did not present any direct evidence of access or circumstantial evidence of a chain of events linking 'Joyful Noise' to the relevant authors of 'Dark Horse'. Nor did plaintiffs present sufficient evidence of widespread dissemination of 'Joyful Noise' that would give rise to a reasonable opportunity to hear 'Joyful Noise'.
On the latter, they add: "No legally sufficient evidentiary basis supports the jury's finding that 'Dark Horse' is substantially similar to 'Joyful Noise' in original, protectable expression. The only claimed similarities between the two works are a small number of indisputably commonplace elements in the works' ostinatos and the undisputed evidence at trial established the many differences between both the ostinatos and the works as a whole. As such, the proper application of the extrinsic and intrinsic tests to these facts requires a finding of no substantial similarity".
As for the damages awarded in the case, they go on: "No legally sufficient evidentiary basis supports the jury's finding that 22.5% of the net profit earned by each defendant from 'Dark Horse' was attributable to the use of the 'Joyful Noise' musical composition in ostinato two in 'Dark Horse' as opposed to other factors. Defendants presented the unrebutted testimony of two expert witnesses who testified about the insignificance of ostinato two to the commercial success and profits of 'Dark Horse' [and the album it was on]. Plaintiffs did not present their own experts, or any other apportionment evidence".
In an accompanying document, lawyers working for Perry et al allude to the other big song-theft cases currently working their way through the US courts, in particular the 'Stairway To Heaven' case in the Ninth Circuit appeals court. Those cases and this one, they argue, centre on the balancing act of successfully enforcing the copyright in musical compositions, but not in a way that hinders others from composing new music.
"The erroneous verdicts in this case and the precedent established ... present serious harm to music creators and to the music industry as a whole", they write, later adding: "Music
With that in mind, they state: "This case presents a critical opportunity to address these issues and rectify a wholly improper finding of infringement based on nothing more than the proper use of unprotectable expression that no creator can monopolise".
Legal reps for Gray will presumably counter that these 'big picture' arguments are just a distraction, and that this dispute is simply about Team Perry stealing their client's work. Though there are plenty of people in the music industry who agree with the big picture arguments contained in Perry's appeal, and they will be watching how the judge now responds to all this with much interest.
AIM announces launch of new report on music distribution
The report looks at the key services artists and labels need to get their music streaming, and also reviews how many distribution businesses have expanded the ways that they work with independent record companies, increasingly moving into so called artist and label services.
It then explains the options now available to indie labels - including single artist labels - who are seeking a new distributor, outlining what questions should be asked before selecting any new partner, for distribution and beyond.
The report will launch on 13 Nov, with a workshop and launch event for AIM members. There is more information on the report here, and you can sign up to receive a PDF copy by email as soon as it is published here.
The launch of 'Distribution Revolution' was announced during AIM's Annual General Meeting yesterday, which had the theme of knowledge and trust, and also put the spotlight on other AIM initiatives designed to facilitate the sharing of knowledge within the music community, including a new partnership with BBC Music.
Meanwhile the trade body's Chair, Ninja Tune's Peter Quicke, talked about the music industry's role in the ongoing climate crisis debate. That also linked into knowledge exchange, and AIM's role in sharing information within the indie community on how its members can become more environmentally sustainable businesses.
Finally, in the formal part of the proceedings, Daniel Miller from Mute Artists, Hannah Overton from Secretly Group, Jeff Bell from Partisan Records and Yvette Griffith from Jazz Re:freshed were all elected onto the AIM board.
HMV opens massive new Birmingham store today
Taking up residence in a former Ikea warehouse, HMV says that the vault will hold over 100,000 individual vinyl and CD releases, every 4K UHD Blu-ray release currently available in the UK (there are 20,000 of those), 40,000 DVD titles, 7000 music books, plus turntables, headphones and music merch.
That sort of thing not proving massively successful when it comes to getting sufficient numbers of people through the doors in recent years - hence the HMV company going into administration at the end of last year - the store will also include a permanent stage set-up. The new HMV says that this is "designed to lure internationally-renowned and up-and-coming artists to perform live in the city". Birmingham's two arenas and various small and medium-sized venues apparently not doing that already, in HMV's eyes.
Opening this massive new outlet is the first big, bold move from new HMV owner, Canadian retailer Sunrise Records, after months of positive talk from its boss, Doug Putman. Since rescuing the firm in February, Sunrise's main activity has been opening, closing and moving around HMV UK's stores in a bid to get better deals on rent - which is very much how previous owner Hilco spent its early months and years in the record selling business.
However, alongside all that, Putman has been talking up his plan to capitalise on the vinyl revival, while drawing people into his newly acquired UK music chain with in-store performances. And this massive new Birmingham store boldly puts that plan into action.
"I am a firm believer in the potential for British high street retail, and HMV will play a fundamental role in ensuring that our shopping districts continue to thrive", he says. "Retail offers two things a purely digital experience of music simply can't - the opportunity to experience the biggest acts live in our stores and our ability to offer a platform to new artists in the communities where we operate, as well as opportunities for fans to come together and share their passion for music and film with our dedicated staff".
"The HMV Vault has been built with the needs of the modern music and film fan at its heart with a permanent live performance space and an unparalleled range catering to the full breadth of our customers' tastes", he insists.
Of course, meeting the modern fan's needs by radically increasing stock levels is quite risky, and many will question the logic of opening such a massive space. HMV points to BPI research showing that UK consumers buy higher than average numbers of CDs and vinyl when compared to many other territories. And that a large number of Brits, particularly young people, class themselves as big fans of music.
Presumably the hope is that those people who want to buy physical media will go to the store happy in the knowledge that they are very likely to find what they want in stock. Meanwhile, others drawn to the shop to see the live performances might be more likely to then buy something if anything they could possibly (or probably) want is immediately to hand.
It's also interesting that the new store is in Birmingham, when HMV's flagship operations in the past have always been in London.
In 2014, previous owner Hilco even spun a positive story out of HMV returning to its original Oxford Street site, even though that actually meant a significant downsizing of its central London store. But the capital's Oxford Street was nevertheless the retailer's spiritual home. Once Putman took over, that expensive Oxford Street store was one of the first to go.
Its new Canadian owner being much less tied up in the nostalgia of the old HMV company may well prove to be a benefit. There was talk of HMV dumping its Oxford Street store before the administration, but it never happened.
In Canada, when Sunrise took over HMV there (also from Hilco), it rebranded all the remaining stores under its own name. And while there'll be no rebrand here, the new owner is possibly more willing to make more radical changes where necessary. Though, despite Sunrise's seeming success in Canada of late, the question remains whether Putman's confidence in the long term prospects of physical formats and high street shops is misplaced.
"I want our stores to be at the heart of a community of music and film fans and a place where they can not only satisfy their passion, they can also meet each other and discover new artists as well as see some of the biggest names in the business perform", he says. "The HMV Vault will become the home of music in Birmingham so I can't wait to welcome the city's fans through our doors".
If you're heading down there today to check it all out, you'll be able to see live performances by Liam Payne, James Arthur, The Murder Capital and various local bands. Plus, you know, maybe buy some stuff.
YMU Group launches mental health support initiative for artists and staff
As the debate continues around the responsibilities of the music industry to safeguard the health and wellbeing of its artists and employees, and about the practicalities of achieving such a thing, this is a firm step towards making improvements. Developed with Music Support co-founder Samantha Parker, the new service will offer assessment sessions for YMU-signed artists, referring them to professional support where appropriate. There will also be a well-being drop in facility and a therapeutic support group for employees of the company.
"Our approach is a holistic one and this service is something we've been thinking about for quite some time", says YMU Group Music Director Martha Kinn. "The life of an artist puts pressure on mental and physical health in ways that are impossible to overstate. This new service felt like a logical progression of our management services - we have no problem investing in digital or brand departments, yet there remains a stigma around talking about - let alone spending money on - the mental wellbeing of our clients".
"It's great that the cultural conversation around mental health is growing but this is not enough: as an industry, we need to take progressive action", she continues. "We as managers are the ones best placed to make that difference. It starts with us".
YMU-managed artist Olly Alexander of Years & Years adds: "I count myself extremely lucky to have management that always put my mental health first. I know first-hand that being an artist can take a toll on your mental health, just like any profession, and over the years I've spent in the industry the support from my team has been invaluable. Everybody's needs are different but I'm so happy to see these measures are being implemented and strongly believe other management companies need to follow this example".
Other artists signed to YMU including Clean Bandit, Take That, Steve Aoki, Mika, Kurupt FM, Rejjie Snow and Friendly Fires.
Diana Ross to play Glastonbury legends slot
"To all my fans across the world, this is my tribute to you", says Ross, only slightly nonsensically. "Every concert feels like a private party, I can see your eyes and feel your hearts. I'm coming to Glastonbury, with love".
Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis adds: "I am delighted to say that one of the all-time greats, the wonderful Diana Ross, is coming to Glastonbury to play the Sunday legend slot on the Pyramid next year".
With that Sunday slot now something of an institution, legends to grace the Pyramid Stage in it in recent years include Dolly Parton, Shirley Bassey, Barry Gibb, Lionel Richie and, this year, Kylie Minogue.
Tickets for Glastonbury's 50th anniversary edition in 2020 went on sale last weekend, selling out in a little over 30 minutes. There will be an opportunity to buy returned tickets in April next year.
Ozzy Osbourne postpones European farewell shows for a second time
The former Black Sabbath frontman's 'No More Tours 2' venture was previously delayed after Osbourne underwent hand surgery, caught flu, and then injured his neck falling over, also requiring surgery. All remaining 2019 dates were pulled in April, with European shows then rescheduled for next year, including UK shows in January and February.
"I'm just here to give you an update on my progression with this fucking neck thing I've got", he says in a new video posted on social media. "I've got more nuts and bolts in my neck now than in my car. [But] I'm not dying, I am recovering, it's just taking a little bit longer than everyone thought it would. I'm bored stiff of being stuck on a bed all day. I can't wait to get off my ass and get going again, but you're just going to have be a bit more patient".
"I've postponed my European tour because I'm not ready. I'm not retiring, I've still got gigs to do", he goes on, before adding that the planned US dates due to kick off in May are still currently expected to go ahead as planned. "When I do come back on the America tour I wanna be 100% ready to come out and knock your fucking socks off".
He also adds that he has a new album on the way. So there's that too. There's no release date yet, though. Just like there's no confirmation of when the European dates will now take place. But they will. That's an Ozzy guarantee.
You know sometimes you see a little bit of video on Spotify after you press play on a track, before you lock your phone and put it in your pocket? Yeah. Well the streaming service is opening that feature up to more artists. More info here.
Gig recommendations platform Bandsintown has launched a whole load of new live music charts, four of which are to be published weekly by Billboard. The new charts use tracking and engagement on the platform to rank emerging and established acts in the US and worldwide. There are also US city-specific charts, with specific rundowns for other countries expected in the coming weeks. Check it all out here.
Louise has released new single 'Not The Same'. "It's got a little nod to the first Eternal album", she says. Louise used to be in Eternal.
Charli XCX has released the video for 'White Mercedes' from her new album 'Charli'. She's touring this month.
Jason Aldean has put out a video for his new single 'We Back', taken from his upcoming album '9'. "We've put out music videos in the past", he implores.
MØ has released the video for 'Red Wine', featuring Empress Of, which completes that trilogy of videos she's been putting out.
Joy Orbison will release new EP 'Slipping' next week. Right here is a track from it called 'Burn', which features Mansur Brown and Infinite.
Self Esteem has released new track 'Rooms', which features on the new deluxe edition of her very brilliant 'Compliments Please' album. "It's about when you just want to make sweet love to someone, but have to settle for polite chatting at functions", she says. "When we play it live we all jiggle up on each other, so it's a particular highlight of the set imo and now you can sing along!"
GIGS & TOURS
Squid have announced that they will headline the Scala in London on 2 Apr next year. It'll be their biggest headline show to date. How lovely. Tickets are on sale now. Just delightful.
Booking agent Emma Banks of CAA has been announced as the winner of this year's Outstanding Contribution prize at the Live UK Music Business Awards. The ceremony will take place on 30 Oct at the new Hard Rock Hotel in London.
Paul Jackson of Hull's New Adelphi Club was awarded the Music Venue Trust's Outstanding Contribution Award for 2019 earlier this week. Jackson has run the venue for 35 years this month. "As somebody who has always resisted doing things by the book, the word 'independent' is important to me", he says. "I see my work as being a crusade against mediocrity in music".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Plastician demands Uber explain how a cab to Croydon ended up in the East Midlands
Producer and DJ Plastician recently had a similar journey, from Fulham to Croydon, except he ended up in Sleaford. Which, for anyone not familiar with London geography, is in the East fucking Midlands.
In a series of posts on Twitter yesterday, the musician, real name Chris Reed, told the story of his recent experience with an Uber driver that involved a major detour after he fell asleep in the car. In total his Uber journey home took five and a half hours and resulted in a bill just shy of £1500, thanks to both the distance and the fact that he'd booked the car while the taxi app was on so called surge pricing.
His tweets then detail his efforts to get an explanation, apology and refund from the Uber company. He says an Uber employee initially confirmed that his home address was definitely the destination entered into the app when he originally booked the car. He then goes on: "They are now denying this, yet have no proof that I ever entered an address in Sleaford - a destination I have never been to in my life". Well, except that one time.
Wither Uber not being especially responsive, how this uber detour happened currently remains a mystery, with Reed saying that there is "no indication inside my app of that address being entered by me". He then notes that Uber's website states that both passengers and drivers have the power to amend the destination.
Accusing the company of taking "zero responsibility for their passenger's safety", he concludes: "Don't drink and drive but also, don't drink and get in an Uber, as this could happen to anyone".
Of course, if it turns out that this happened because Reed was attempting to listen to some Sleaford Mods and typed his musical request into the wrong app, well, that might finally take the heat off Ed Balls.