|THURSDAY 24 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Following a flurry of online chatter over the authorship of Lizzo's recent chart-topper 'Truth Hurts', the musician has filed a lawsuit seeking court confirmation that three former collaborators do not have a legitimate claim to share in the copyright in said work... [READ MORE]|
Lizzo goes legal as debate continues over who the "truth" should hurt
The legal cliché goes "where there's a hit there's a writ" and this case in particular proves that point. 'Truth Hurts' was originally released in 2017 but only became a hit this year after Lizzo's third album earned her a more mainstream audience. Some TikTok love and a Netflix sync also helped because, well, this is 2019 and that's the way things work these days.
However, crucially, it's only since the track topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US that a dispute over the creation and ownership of the song has gone public and, as of yesterday, legal. Moreover, according to Lizzo, real name Melissa Jefferson, an earlier dispute over the ownership of the song had been fully resolved, until her former collaborators changed their minds once the record had achieved hit status.
Jefferson's core dispute is with record producers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen over the first line of 'Truth Hurts', which goes "I just took a DNA test, turns out I'm 100% that bitch". The producers went public about said dispute via an Instagram post earlier this month in which they explained how that lyric originally appeared in another unreleased Lizzo demo track called 'Healthy', which was created at their studio in April 2017.
The producers' post argued that they were co-writers of 'Healthy' and - given that song's stand-out lyric was then copied into 'Truth Hurts' - they should also have a co-write credit and copyright share in the latter work. They then revealed that they'd been seeking that credit and copyright share for the last two years, adding "[we] were shut down every time".
They then insisted that "coming forward publicly ... seems to be the only way at this point in relieving some of our emotional distress caused by this".
The Raisens also referenced in their Instagram post an earlier dispute between Jefferson and British singer Mina Lioness, who previously noted that she tweeted the "DNA test/100% bitch" line all the way back in February 2017, before 'Truth Hurts' was written.
Aware of Lioness's claims, Jefferson previously insisted that she never saw that tweet and was instead influenced by an Instagram meme when writing both 'Healthy' and 'Truth Hurts'. Lioness then had another moan about her having said the line first in August this year after learning that Jefferson was seeking to trademark the phrase "100% that bitch".
Capitalising on all that, the Raisens wrote in their Instagram post: "Shout out to the singer Mina Lioness for tweeting 'I just did a DNA test turns out I'm 100% that bitch'. A meme of that came up in our writing session and inspired the lyric and melody we wrote together. If ... Lizzo's team decide to settle this dispute with us, we would like to share some of the proceeds with Mina for her influence on 'Healthy'".
But, Jefferson's new lawsuit claims, she and her team had already settled this dispute with the Raisens months before 'Truth Hurts' topped the US charts, with the producers conceding that they did not have a legitimate claim to either a co-write credit or a share of the copyright in the song. Because, Jefferson says, although 'Healthy' was written in the producers' studio, they were not involved in the creation or musical delivery on the "100% that bitch" lyric.
Yesterday's lawsuit states: "The Raisens did not write any part of the material in question; they did not come up with the idea of including the lyric in the unreleased demo; they did not help Lizzo decide how to sing the lyric in the unreleased demo; and they do not co-own that work".
Noting that the producers themselves have publicly stated that the inspiration for the disputed lyric was "a 2017 tweet that became a meme", the lawsuit adds: "That meme resonated with Lizzo and she decided to sing it in the demo".
Of course that does confirm that Jefferson now accepts that Lioness's tweet was indeed the original influence for the disputed lyric, which might be why the British musician seems to now have an official credit as a co-writer on 'Truth Hurts'.
But, Jefferson insists, the Raisens had no involvement whatsoever in the development of that tweet/meme into a lyric, other than owning the studio where the process occurred. And, more importantly, the lawsuit claims, the Raisens themselves previously admitted that fact, after initially making and them rescinding a claim to co-ownership of 'Truth Hurts'.
The lawsuit says that, after learning that the Raisens were seeking a slice of the 'Truth Hurts' copyright, Jefferson's reps sent a formal letter rejecting that claim, and then the musician herself did the same in a phone call to Justin Raisen in April this year.
"During that call", the lawsuit claims, "Justin Raisen acknowledged that neither he nor his brother had anything to do with the material through which they had claimed their purported share. That same day, after Justin Raisen made his concession, the Raisens' manager contacted Lizzo's lawyer and told her that the Raisens were no longer making any claim to 'Truth Hurts'".
According to the lawsuit, the Raisens' publisher Kobalt then confirmed that any claims to co-ownership of the 'Truth Hurts' copyright had been dropped. These various confirmations, it adds, allowed Jefferson's team to finalise a sync deal for the track to be featured in the Netflix film 'Someone Great', copyright ownership disputes often making it impossible to directly license a song for synchronisation.
Even after that, the lawsuit insists, further correspondence between Jefferson's team and reps for the Raisens confirmed that the latter were now not making any claim to the 'Truth Hurts' copyright. This included an exchange of emails when the Raisens somehow popped up as co-writers of the song in the database of collecting society ASCAP, and another email in early August after rumours circulated that Justin Raisen was still claiming a percentage of the work.
Then, "on 4 Sep 2019, after 'Truth Hurts' hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the Raisens' publisher notified the co-owners of 'Truth Hurts' that the Raisens were 'reinstating their claims' to own 20% of that song. The Raisens and their representatives provided no explanation for the Raisens' purported and invalid backtracking. Upon information and belief, the Raisens have purported to 'reinstate' their claims only because of the song's recent success".
After that, of course, the Instagram post followed. The brothers, Jefferson's lawsuit alleges, "commenced an intentionally misleading social media campaign where they falsely claimed to be writers of the song and threatened to expand their intentionally misleading campaign to traditional media and newspaper outlets such as the New York Times; all as part of their effort through duress and intimidation to try and compel Lizzo to comply with their unreasonable demands to give them a 20% interest in a song that they did not write".
Which pretty much brings us to now. Except what about the other Justin? Did I mention there was another Justin? That'll be Justin 'Yves' Rothman. He, you see, was also in the house on the day that the demo track 'Healthy' was written.
"For more than two years, from the September 2017 commercial release of 'Truth Hurts' until [this month], Rothman never once contended that he was entitled to any share of 'Truth Hurts', that he had any rights in and to the unreleased demo, or that 'Truth Hurts' supposedly 'infringed' any of his purported rights", the lawsuit states.
But now Rothman is also seeking a cut of the action. Because, Jefferson's lawsuit alleges, he "decided that he too should lodge a claim to 'Truth Hurts' on the ill-founded theory that if Lizzo acceded to the Raisens' threatening demands, she might accede to a demand from Rothman too". Well, worth a try, isn't it?
Concluding, Jefferson's lawsuit asks the courts to confirm that neither the Raisens nor Rothman have any legitimate claim to be co-writers or co-owners of 'Truth Hurts', and are therefore not due any of the money the track has generated. The musician also wants her legal costs covered and any "other and further relief as the court may deem proper".
With the lawsuit filed, Jefferson posted her own update to Instagram. She says: "As I've shared before, in 2017, while working on a demo, I saw a meme that resonated with me, a meme that made me feel like 100% that bitch. I sang that line in the demo, and I later used that line in 'Truth Hurts'. The men who now claim a piece of 'Truth Hurts' did not help me write any part of the song. They had nothing to do with the line or how I chose to sing it".
"There was no one in the room when I wrote 'Truth Hurts', except me, [producer] Ricky Reed, and my tears. That song is my life, and its words are my truth", she adds.
Formally acknowledging the indirect influence of Lioness's tweet, she then says: "I later learned that a tweet inspired the meme. The creator of the tweet is the person I'm sharing my success with. Not these men. Period".
It now remains to be seen how the Raisens and Rothman respond, and whether they do so via countersuit or yet another Instagram post.
Macklemore and Ryan awarded legal costs in "objectively baseless" copyright case
Batiste sued Macklemore and Lewis in 2017 claiming that their track stole beats and horn melodies from his songs 'Hip Jazz' and 'World Of Blues', which date from 1997 and 2000 respectively. He also made similar allegations over another of the duo's tracks from the same album, 'Neon Cathedral'.
Earlier this year the court dismissed the case, with the judge concluding that there was no evidence Macklemore and Lewis had ever heard Batiste's songs, and that "after performing a listening comparison of each of Mr Batiste's songs and the work that allegedly infringes it, and aided by the guidance of the defendants' expert musicologists, the court finds that the plaintiff has failed to demonstrate 'striking similarity' or any instances of sampling".
While Batiste got about appealing that ruling, lawyers for Macklemore and Lewis went back to court arguing that the plaintiff should be forced to contribute towards their clients' legal costs on the basis that his case was both super weak and badly litigated.
According to Law360, said lawyers argued that: "Defendants are seeking only a fraction of the fees and expenses they incurred and submit that such relief is warranted because plaintiff's claims were objectively baseless and unreasonable from the outset, and both plaintiff and his counsel engaged in egregious misconduct".
In response, Batiste disputed that his case was "objectively baseless", while also pointing out that he was appealing the original ruling, so the copyright dispute was not yet over.
However, this week the judge hearing the case endorsed an earlier recommendation by a magistrate judge that accepted most of Macklemore and Lewis's arguments. With that in mind, the duo were awarded costs of just over $125,000, about $25,000 less than they had requested.
A legal rep for Macklemore and Lewis welcomed the decision, telling Law360 that clients like his "seem to be fair game these days for these kinds of lawsuits. The recognition that this was a totally baseless claim was a significant factor in the judge awarding us attorney fees essentially in the amount we asked for".
Nelly settles litigation over allegations of sexual assault in the UK
Claims that Nelly had sexually assaulted a British woman originally emerged after the star was arrested for rape in the US in late 2017. The criminal investigation into that latter incident was dropped after his accuser, Monique Greene, refused to testify, her attorney saying that she felt "the system was going to fail her".
Nelly then sued Greene for defamation, prompting a countersuit in which she included allegations by two other women regarding the musician's conduct at shows in the UK. Greene said that the other women's allegations proved Nelly had "a distinctive modus operandi, to use his status as a celebrity musical performer to sexually assault selected women who attend his concerts".
Greene subsequently settled with the star, but separate legal action was filed relating to one of the British incidents, in which Nelly was accused of forcing himself onto an unnamed women backstage at a show in Essex.
According to Greene's lawsuit, that woman managed to break away and get out of the star's dressing room, but added that she was certain he would have continued to assault her had she not been able to do so. The woman also alleged that Nelly subsequently approached her and threatened "I will find you".
According to TMZ, that separate legal action has now been settled. Legal papers filed with the court on Tuesday reportedly confirm that a settlement has been reached, terms of which are confidential. But that settlement also means that Nelly's girlfriend Shantel Jackson is no longer facing defamation claims for dismissing his accuser as a "liar".
Warner Music Japan launches globally focused urban label +809
President of Warner Music Asia Simon Robson says: "Urban music is exploding across Asia and the Japanese market has some very exciting talent coming through. Warner Music Japan has geared itself to become a digital-first business and that'll work well for urban acts that primarily play in the streaming space. I look forward to helping some brilliant Japanese urban artists build an international fanbase".
Kaz Kobayashi, CEO of Warner Music Japan, adds: "We're proud to launch +809 and believe it'll help break down barriers and enable Japanese artists to succeed in the global streaming market. We want it to become our country's leading urban label and showcase the future of Japanese music to the world. It's amazing that we've been able to launch the label with a track from such brilliant talents as Fleur and AGO".
Soundcharts adds media monitoring option for tracking artist coverage
Real-time updates are split into three categories: music media, verified media and unverified sources, and from their you can divide things up further into country, website rank and source type. So that all sounds rather cool. I hope Soundcharts CEO David Weiszfeld doesn't ruin it all with a robotic quote that reads like it was written by a room full of marketing people all trying to one-up each other.
He says: "Soundcharts was created to be the ultimate source of truth of the industry, making all the music data actionable in a unified platform. Most music professionals are still using a dedicated, usually local-based, media tracking solution. By adding this vertical to Soundcharts, we are allowing them to save money by monitoring these mentions within the same platform they use every day for the rest of their data journey. The addition of Mentions is fully aligned with our mission".
Jesus Christ. Anyway, you can sign up for this new service now.
More people skipping breakfast, new RAJAR figures show
1. Zoe Ball's Radio 2 breakfast show is down, down, down. She shed 364,000 weekly listeners in the last quarter. Along with the 780,000 she lost in Q2, she's just recorded the show's worst listening figures for a decade. Have they all gone to listen to the show's old presenter Chris Evans over on Virgin Radio? Well, no. While he does have more than a million listeners, he only added about 3000 in the last three months. Actually, breakfast shows on music stations are having a rough time across the board, with signs that listeners are simply switching off altogether. Soundtrack your cornflakes with a Spotify playlist, maybe? Or is the ongoing Brexit shambles turning everyone into breakfast time news junkies?
2. It was a good quarter for commercial radio, with the sector recording its highest share of listeners for 20 years, with 35.9 million tuning in to non-BBC stations. Listening hours are up too, 5.3% year-on-year, with these stations accounting for 48.1% of total listening hours. "With radio continuing to hold the nation's attention against increasing competition in the news and entertainment sectors, it's great that commercial radio continues to grow audience", reckons Siobhan Kenny, boss of the commercial sector's trade group Radiocentre.
3. Whether you think radio is "continuing to hold the nation's attention" depends on how pessimistic you want to be. There was, after all, a slip in the total number of listening hours over the last quarter, from 1 billion down to 989 million. But that's not a dramatic shift, perhaps. The average listener still tunes in to radio for 20.4 hours a week.
4. Radio listening through digital channels continues to boom, with another record-breaking quarter. Digital platforms of various kinds now make up 56.8% of all listening as people continue to switch over to digital radio sets and online, and increasingly listen through smart speakers and via apps. DAB takes up 70% of all digital listening, but people accessing radio through internet connected devices is up more than 35% year-on-year. It was accessing through a digital TV that really let the side down though, with a 15% drop year-on-year.
5. Many digital-only stations saw boosts to their listening figures. Kisstory enjoyed a decent jump that allowed it to extend its lead over BBC Radio 6 Music as the most popular station with no AM or FM broadcast. 6 Music remains relatively static in terms of listeners. Absolute 80s, Heart 80s and Mellow Magic all also saw significantly increased listener numbers by percentage.
So, there you are. Some things to think about until January when we do this all again.
Primary Wave Music Publishing has acquired the catalogue of producer Bob Ezrin, which includes work by Pink Floyd, Jane's Addiction, Alice Cooper, Kiss and more. "This was a good time in my career to consolidate my complex portfolio of diverse rights for the sake of my family and my estate", says Ezrin sombrely. "Plus, on top of rationalising the past, [Primary Wave] also presented me with a solid vision for the future that I am very excited about - since I intend to keep creating for many years to come!" Phew.
Haggard Cat have encased themselves in a tiny brick tomb for 24hrs to protest Brexit and the affect it is likely to have on UK musicians' ability to tour Europe. "Locking yourself in a box is a stupid idea", says frontman Matt Reynolds. "As is Brexit. It's intentionally doing something we know is stupid and not in our best interests and puts us at risk. As touring musicians, we can see that the outlook for playing in mainland Europe post-Brexit is bleak, and potentially not even viable for developing artists". Watch them live on the Earache Records Twitch channel.
Fans of meaningless lists of words will be pleased to know that Coldplay have revealed the tracklist for their upcoming 'Everyday Life' album via a classified ad in North Wales's Daily Post newspaper.
Selena Gomez has released two new singles, 'Lose You To Love Me' and 'Look At Her Now'. "I felt having these two songs released back to back completed the story of how one can rise no matter what challenges life brings", she says. "Turning off the noise and living your life on your terms".
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have released the full track of the music that plays over the credits of HBO's new 'Watchmen' TV series.
Beck has released the video for recent single 'Uneventful Days'. Directed by Dev Hynes, it also features Sky Ferreira and Chris Martin.
TNGHT - aka Hudson Mohawke and Lunice - have announced that they will release their first EP for seven years, 'II', on 12 Nov. "I think it's a good indicator if something sounds weird and refreshing to us", says Hudson Mohawke of their work. "It's got to fuck with us a little bit when we're listening to it". Here's new single 'Dollaz'.
Matthew Herbert has announced that he will release a new EP on Foom next month. 'The Recording' was recorded in front of, and with the participation of, a live audience in Berlin earlier this year. Listen to opening track 'Day Three' here.
A Winged Victory For The Sullen have released a new double A-side single featuring two tracks, 'The Slow Descent Has Begun' and 'Keep It Dark, Deutschland'. Both are taken from their upcoming new album, 'The Undivided Five', which is out next week.
Elkka has announced new EP 'Every Body Is Welcome', which will be released on her own Femme Culture label on 22 Nov. "For me, the dancefloor has been a place where I have felt the most liberated, the most myself, unified with friends and strangers by the music and moment we are sharing", she says. "This EP is a celebration of those moments, of the dancefloor, of dance music that has inspired me creatively and personally". Listen to the title track here.
Anamanaguchi have released new single 'On My Own', featuring Hana. It's the latest track taken from their new album '[USA]', which is out this Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Nas "tired of celebrating" Illmatic
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the album's release and, after already supporting tenth and 20th anniversary re-issues of the album, the next milestone caught him by surprise.
"I'm tired of celebrating it", he tells Haute Living. "I'm grateful, but it has started to take on a life of its own. I just did the 20th anniversary with the National Symphony Orchestra five years ago and, the next thing you know, five years go by and it's a calendar that I didn't ask for showing me how fast time moves".
He did nevertheless join in with the latest round of anniversary marking, he admits, but when the album turns 30 he'd rather not.
Nas goes on: "25 years is a lifetime, so I did another Symphony Orchestra show for 'Illmatic' this year. I got another plaque for it. I'm very grateful - it's so crazy - but to celebrate one album when I've made over ten ... is corny to me. I don't want to celebrate another 'Illmatic' anything. I'm done. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for appreciating that record, but it's over".
I suspect we will still be seeing label-led celebrations for the 30th, 40th and 50th anniversaries of the album and beyond. But Nas himself may well be sitting them out.