|MONDAY 14 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Lawyers working for litigious Fyre Festival ticketholders are having another go at getting Ja Rule listed as a defendant on a $100 million lawsuit seeking damages for those who attended the failed festival in the Bahamas... [READ MORE]|
Fyre Festival ticketholders hope to get Ja Rule back as a defendant on their $100 million lawsuit
The rapper, real name Jeffrey Atkins, was very much presented as a co-founder of the luxury music event until it fell apart just as ticketholders started to arrive. When the Fyre company collapsed and its boss Billy McFarland was jailed for fraud, those who went legal in relation to the festival needed to find other people to sue who might actually have some money with which to pay damages. Atkins was an obvious candidate.
But, back in July, the judge overseeing this particular $100 million class action lawsuit involving people who had bought tickets to the Fyre Festival agreed to remove Atkins as a defendant. The judge concluded that, while the rapper helped build the hype in the run up to Fyre, and he may have been aware that behind the scenes things were somewhat chaotic, there was no evidence that he definitely knew promises he was making on social media would and could never be honoured by McFarland and his team.
However, the day before the Fyre Festival was due to kick off Atkins tweeted: "The stage is set!!! In less than 24 hours, the first annual Fyre Festival begins. #festivallife". Surely, the plaintiffs argued, he would have known when he sent that message that the island in the Bahamas hired by McFarland was simply not ready to receive any festival-goers.
That tweet was included in the original legal filing, but back in July the judge said that there was no evidence anyone who headed out to the Fyre Festival island did so having seen that particular message. Hence the amended complaint filed last week, in which the lawyer leading on the case told the court that he has now identified a number of people who did specifically fly out to the Bahamas having seen Atkins' Twitter declaration that - despite any rumours already circulating - the party was definitely on.
According to Law360, the amended complaint - which was apparently prepared shortly after the original ruling back in July, but was only properly filed last week due to an admin error - also references the two Fyre Festival documentaries that came out earlier this year. It reckons that those docs - which Atkins has either definitely seen or definitely not seen -
Back in July, as well as removing Atkins as a defendant, the judge also removed Fyre Festival's Chief Marketing Officer Grant Margolin from the lawsuit. And while the plaintiffs were given the option to submit an amended complaint in regards to Atkins, that option was not provided in relation to Margolin. Which has resulted in a side dispute, after the one time CMO noticed he was still listed as a defendant on the amended complaint.
The lawyer representing the ticketholders has now asked that the judge allow him to put Margolin back onto the lawsuit too, despite the July ruling. This is partly based on a claim that the marketing man lied about being broke and having to represent himself in court, because he is known to be getting legal advice. But Margolin counters that the lawyer providing that advice is doing a favour to a friend of his parents, and that he has never hidden the fact that he has that limited legal support.
We now await to see how the judge responds to this bid to get both Atkins and Margolin back on the big Fyre Festival lawsuit.
Ryan Tedder sued in dispute over collaboration with country musician Zac Brown
Brown released his aptly named solo album 'The Controversy' last month a week after the latest release from his group the Zac Brown Band. It stands out from Brown's usual output in that it explores an assortment of different genres, and sees the musician collaborate with various other music makers better known for those other genres.
Last week's lawsuit explains in some detail Brown's collaboration with Tedder, which seemingly began in March 2018. Tedder provided Brown with a 'start' piece of music which the two men then expanded during a studio session in LA into a song called 'Nowhere Left To Go'. "It was always understood and agreed", the lawsuit then states, "that Mr Brown had ultimate and sole control and discretion as to the elements to be included in, and the completion and release of, the 'Nowhere Left To Go' recording and musical composition".
The legal filing then runs through various back and forth communication between Brown and Tedder, which included the latter promising to do more work on the collaboration, but ultimately not having the time. When Brown ultimately sent over a finished version of 'Nowhere Left To Go', Tedder then said he didn't realise his collaborator planned to complete the work, and that he'd now promised the same 'start' to Diplo.
Communication then began between the two musician's managers. Tedder's manager asked Brown's manager if they could hold off releasing 'Nowhere Left To Go' until after Diplo had released his track using the same 'start', which was due to be unleashed in August. As Brown wasn't planning on releasing his solo album until September, that was all fine.
Then the Diplo record was delayed. When Tedder's manager asked Brown to likewise delay his release, the latter's manager said that that wasn't possible, as plans were now underway for the launch of 'The Controversy'.
Brown's lawsuit insists that, during all this back and forth communication, neither Tedder nor his manager ever said that they objected to the release of 'Nowhere Left To Go', nor did they claim any right to prevent such a release, even after the Diplo track was delayed.
But once 'The Controversy' went online, team Tedder issued a takedown notice against TuneCore. The takedown claimed that Tedder's rights had been infringed because, while compulsory and blanket licences basically cover the streaming of songs in the US, the songwriter still has control over the first issuing of their work.
The takedown notice resulted in Brown's whole album going offline for a time. And while some platforms have now restored the record, they have done so minus 'Nowhere Left To Go'. In last week's lawsuit, Brown insists that he has the rights to release a recording of his song, and therefore Tedder's takedown was "factually false and legally incorrect".
Tedder's team is yet to respond to Brown's claims.
Ninja Tune boss uses AIM AGM speech to call on music community to do more to tackle climate change
With knowledge and trust the theme of the AGM, he urged music businesses to put their trust in experts on climate issues, such as the charity Julie's Bicycle. And also to utilise the knowledge it, AIM and others have compiled explaining how music companies, including small independents operating on tight budgets, can ensure that their operations are as environmentally sustainable as possible.
He told the AGM: "I need to talk about the climate crisis because it is the most important issue facing all of us. I've promised my children that I will do what I can to redress the damage our generation has visited on the world - and I'm sure that you feel the same way - so please bear with me".
Citing various studies from and predictions being made by climate experts, he added: "It's easy to look at the science and think that the situation is hopeless. That may be true - but we have two choices - either we ignore it and do nothing - or feel some power and agency and start making a difference".
"Probably the most important thing we can do is to encourage and support artists to use their public voice - their fanbase - to call for change", he observed, before dealing with the backlash some musicians have faced after calling for action on climate change. A backlash that often focuses on the amount of air travel a touring artist clocks up.
"Artists must be able to trust that we will support them against the cries of hypocrisy from trolls and populist media for air travel", Quick added. "We should support an artist's use of air travel where it's necessary for their careers - efficiently routed and offset, of course. Artist's live performances can't become a thing of the past, and we don't want to encourage fans to fly around the world to see artists who won't travel".
Once prepared to deal with such criticisms, he said, "artists should use their international platform to urge their fans towards climate action".
But music companies also need to take action themselves, he insisted, before providing an assortment of practical steps such companies could take in the months ahead. "An important step is simply to talk about the issue where we can - talk to our colleagues, to staff, to artists, to our suppliers. Ask your pressing plants, shipping agents, banks, pension providers what their sustainability policies are. We need to keep asking - and to move our business where necessary".
Focusing in on something very specific to the music sector, Quicke went on: "We almost certainly don't have to stop producing vinyl and CDs - they are not single use plastics after all. But we do need to know how to produce and distribute them with minimum footprint".
"Knowing that the emissions created by CD jewel cases are 20 times that of card sleeves is what has pushed many of us to stop releasing CDs in jewel cases. That knowledge came from a piece of research by Julie's Bicycle several years ago - clearly the switch away from jewel cases is an important part of what labels and artists can do to reduce their footprint".
"We need to move away from air freight - press records in the EU and the USA where we can - spend money on two lots of origination rather than on transatlantic shipping. Press vinyl on 140g not 180g. And somehow we need to stop the perfectionist culture of returning records if there is a small fault or dink on its sleeve - vinyl nerds of the world unite around imperfect print! Don't shrinkwrap twelve-inch singles - most distributors no longer require this. And switch to a green courier - one that uses electric vehicles".
Meanwhile, no one should assume that streaming doesn't impact on the environment too, given the power required to run all those servers. "A big challenge is to de-carbonise streaming", Quicke continued.
"Spotify's and Apple's servers are already running on 100% renewable energy. We can each ensure that our own electricity supply is 100% renewable - perhaps by signing up to the AIM-endorsed Creative Energy Programme. But we need to lobby to ensure that the entire internet in between is powered by renewables - that's an enormous battle - but one that we can win if climate moves to the top of everyone's agenda".
Of course, even achieving some or all of this won't stop artists and their business partners from having a negative impact on their environment. Which is where 'offsetting' comes in. "We need to offset to balance the emissions we are less able to avoid, like air travel". Working out what the best offsetting solutions are can be tricky, Quicke conceded, though he pointed AIM members to the Gold Standard initiative for advice.
This was also an area where the AIM community could help, he added, citing the artist-led FEAT initiative in Australia as inspiration. Concluding, Quicke stated: "AIM can help research possibilities for members to invest in wind power or the like over here to boost the green economy - and perhaps also make a return at some point! The key is knowing what the most effective actions are. AIM, together with Julie's Bicycle, will provide better answers in the coming year. If we act together we can make a real difference. And good luck to us all - let's hope we can turn the world around".
Further ideas on what artists and music companies can do to mitigate their impact on the environment is available on the website of the AIM and Ninja Tune supported Music Declares Emergency campaign.
Newly created ASM Global to manage new venue complex planned for Gateshead
ASM Global, of course, is the newly merged business made up of AEG's venue facilities division and arena operator SMG. The combined company formally launched at the start of this month after receiving approval from relevant competition regulators.
The business says that this deal to run the new Gateshead arena complex, which it's hoped will open in 2023, will allow it to build on its previous successes in the region, "leveraging our regional strength to further develop the events landscape and grow the North East economy".
Actually, SMG was already linked to the venture, the new complex being set to replace the existing arena it runs on the other side of the Tyne in Newcastle, which is currently known as the Utilita Arena. But last week's announcement confirmed that the newly created ASM Global will now be managing the new venue once it has been built.
The MD of the aforementioned Ask Real Estate, John Hughes, said: "We are THRILLED to have selected ASM Global as our operator. They have a global reputation for excellence and their experience will be key in helping us to develop what will be one of Europe's key cultural locations. We have been working closely with them to ensure the arena will be able to accommodate the rapid advances in sound and production technology".
John Sharkey, EVP of Europe for ASM Global, added: "We look forward to working with a range of national and regional partners, and leveraging our global partnerships with leading entertainment, product, sports and service providers, to cement Gateshead Quay's reputation as a world-class leisure and cultural destination".
Jay Frank dies
Commenting on his death, Universal CEO Lucian Grainge said: "Jay leaves an immense legacy. He was a creative and tireless leader who made significant contributions to the evolution of our global marketing efforts".
"Many of the ways we market our artists and their music in the streaming era stems from Jay's innovative work", he went on. "But more than anything else, Jay was a loving father and husband. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will miss him dearly".
Beginning his career in the music industry in the mid-90s, Frank began working with digital music after joining Yahoo in 2001. As VP Programming & Label Relations he worked with the company on its early foray into streaming music with Launchcast.
In 2009, he published his first book 'FutureHit.DNA', which analysed a raft of music-related stats to propose formulas for songwriters to follow if they wanted to score hits. A second book, 'Hack Your Hit', discussed how to market music online and through social media.
He put the recommendations from both books into action himself, launching Futurehit Inc to analyse the commercial potential of songs and, in 2011, digital singles label DigSin and subsequent marketing agency spin-off DigMark.
The latter was one of the first agencies to proactively pitch music to the owners of playlists on streaming services at a time when many of the biggest such playlists were compiled by independent curators.
Obviously, playlist pitching of that kind subsequently became a key strand of music marketing and - as the industry at large began to focus on such things - in 2015 Frank was hired by Universal Music to develop its playlist marketing strategy.
UK's top selling albums of the 21st century revealed
Compiled by the Official Charts Company, the rundown was aired as part of a special edition of Paul Gambaccini's 'Pick Of The Pops' show. It's based on physical sales, downloads and streams since 1 Jan 2000 - with all but one album on the chart originally released during that time.
The only exception is David Gray's 'White Ladder', which was first released independently in 1998, but later re-issued by Warner Music in 2000. Gray's album sits at number ten, with all but one of the other artists above him being British. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Adele, Amy Winehouse and Ed Sheeran take all of the top five slots.
"It's heartening to see so many British artists in the chart, proving that home-grown music is still as popular as ever", says Radio 2 Head Of Music Jeff Smith.
Commenting on how the rise of streaming has affected the numbers across the full Top 40, Gambaccinni notes: "Even with streams factored in to what is called equivalent sales, the first decade of the century has outperformed the second by 28 albums to eleven".
What exactly does that tell us? Probably something. Although maybe nothing. How about we just have a look at the top ten in this chart and move on:
1. Adele - 21 (2011)
Guns N Roses fan "banned for life" from live shows over leaked music dispute
Rick Dunsford said in a Facebook post last week that he had been pulled out of the queue at a show in Wichita and told that he would not be admitted to the venue.
"Today would be my 33rd time seeing them", he wrote. "Well, I was just pulled from the line and told if I ever come to a Guns N Roses show again that I'll be arrested! I was escorted off the property and told I'm done".
Exactly what grounds there would be for his arrest is unclear but, in an interview with US classic rock radio station 97X, Dunsford explained the background to the dispute.
Well known in the GNR fan community, he said that he had attended the opening show of the band's current US tour in Charlotte, NC last month and, during that gig, had heard that security at the venue were asking other fans if they'd seen him. He subsequently contacted reps for the band asking if there was an issue that would prevent him from attending other performances on the tour.
"I reached out to them the day after that show and told them I'm coming to some shows - I've got tickets to multiple shows - and I wanna make sure that I'm not gonna be thrown out, because it's a pretty far travel for me to go to this", he said. "They didn't tell me not to come or anything, so I just went out there [to Wichita]".
While in the queue for that show, he says, he received an email from the band's lawyers telling him that he would not be allowed into any further concerts and therefore he should not travel to Wichita.
But why would Guns N Roses go to such lengths to bar someone who is such a big fan he even called his son Axl? Dunsford claims it's all down to some unreleased music from recording sessions for the band's 'Chinese Democracy' album.
Earlier this summer, he says, he met with someone who had bought the contents of a storage locker previously owned by former A&R exec Tom Zutaut, who originally signed the band in the 1980s and worked with them for many years. Among the haul was "about 20 CDs ... of unreleased Guns N Roses music from around 1999 to 2000 or 2001".
Together with two friends, Dunsford raised $15,000 to buy this music. After the deal took place, he says that reps for the band contacted him asking for the recordings to be returned. Said reps added that the band would refund him the money he'd shelled out.
Dunsford says that he received the money and provided the band's reps with a USB stick containing the recordings, which is what he'd been given by the seller who was in control of Zutaut's former belongings. Shortly after that, he was told by the band's reps that the previous agreement was now void. Exact details for this change of heart are not clear, but it's possibly because the band were expecting the receive the original CDs, not tracks on a USB stick.
Shortly afterwards, music from the haul appeared online, with more uploaded in subsequent weeks. And Dunsford is now seemingly accused of being the uploader.
He adds that a further CD's worth of music from the storage locker was made available online around the time he was kicked out of the Wichita show last week, which the band also suspect him of doing.
Insisting that he isn't, in fact, the leaker, Dunsford told 97X: "I know the seller that I bought [the recordings] from was continuing to sell to other individuals, and there was a massive leak. So pretty much, I've been blamed for this. [The ban] is pretty much for the rest of my life".
He added that he has had further contact with band's legal reps and that they are now demanding that he return the $15,000 he was given and additional damages. Dunsford says he can't do either of these things, because he has already passed a chunk of the $15,000 onto the friends who contributed to the original purchase.
Back in 2009, a blogger named Kevin Cogill was found guilty of leaking nine tracks from the then unreleased 'Chinese Democracy' album. He was sentenced to a year's probation and two months under house arrest.
The band have not as yet commented publicly on Dunsford's ban from their live shows, or on any possibility that they may or may not have to launch legal action against him.
Charli XCX says music video car fire was environmentally friendly
The video features a white Mercedes suspended from a crane. Early in the video, Charli XCX is seen sitting in it. Later, it is set on fire, with thick flames and heavy black smoke pouring off it. It's all fine though, it's just a bit of movie magic.
"Just so everyone is aware, the black smoke and heavy fire is made by a special effect liquid they use for cinema", she wrote on Twitter. "The car itself was completely emptied of its oil and toxic liquids. Even the white paint we put on the car was organic and made for easy removal".
So, there you go, that's all fine then. Non-toxic liquids are indeed used to start controlled fires on camera. Although setting a car on fire is still never going to be all that environmentally friendly, no matter how much organic paint you use. And draining it of flammable fluids first is likely more about keeping such a fire under control, than primarily an ecological concern.
Still, who among us hasn't set a car on fire for our art once or twice in our lives? I think the best thing we can do now is watch this car burning, so that it wasn't all a terrible waste of time.