|WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The players were playing and the haters were hating yesterday following the news that the Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US had revived a lyric theft lawsuit involving Taylor Swift's 'Shake It Off'. But who are the players and who are the haters? One side insisted that this was a David v Goliath battle that would benefit creators everywhere. The other side countered that the whole thing was a simple cynical money grab that will ultimately fail. Good times... [READ MORE]|
Taylor Swift's reps confident revived Shake It Off lyric-theft case can be defeated
Sean Hall and Nathan Butler accuse Swift and her songwriting pals of ripping off their 2001 song 'Playas Gon Play' on her 2014 hit 'Shake It Off'. That claim is based on the famous 'Shake It Off' lyric "Cos the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate". Hall and Butler reckon that's an unapproved rework of their 2001 lyric "The playas gon play/Them haters gonna hate". To that end, the songwriting duo sued.
However, early last year a district court judge dismissed the case, arguing that the line "The playas gon play/Them haters gonna hate" was simply too "banal" to enjoy copyright protection. Hall and Butler then appealed that decision, arguing that it wasn't for a district court judge to make such an artistic judgement, and that the substance - or not - of their lyric should have been decided upon by a jury after full arguments from both sides in a courtroom.
The Ninth Circuit appeals court has now endorsed that viewpoint, citing legal precedents set in cases as far back as 1903. To that end the Ninth Circuit reversed the original decision to dismiss the case, meaning the whole matter will now have to return to the district court for further consideration.
Welcoming that ruling, Hall said in a statement: "We are happy the court unanimously sided with us. We simply refuse to sit still and have our creative work be culturally appropriated as if it never existed. This case is giving voice to all of those creatives who can't afford to stand up and protect their work in the face of well-financed Goliaths".
But a rep for Team Swift reckoned that Hall's statement misrepresented what actually happened in the Ninth Circuit. After all, the appeals court only considered whether the district court judge was allowed to make a judgement on the artistic substance of Hall and Butler's lyric, not whether or not he made the right judgement.
"Mr Hall is incorrect", Swift's rep told reporters. "The court did not unanimously side in their favour, the court sent the case back to the lower court for further determination. These men are not the originators, or creators, of the common phrases 'Players' or 'Haters' or combinations of them. They did not invent these common phrases nor are they the first to use them in a song. We are confident the true writers of 'Shake It Off' will prevail again".
As for positioning this lawsuit as a battle between grassroots creators and the pop music machine, Swift's rep added: "Their claim is not a crusade for all creatives, it is a crusade for Mr Hall's bank account".
Still, the law firm repping Hall and Butler - Gerard Fox Law - continued to insist that the case should be of interest to the wider music community. It said in a statement: "We are pleased with the ruling and believe it is one the entire industry should review. Gerard Fox Law is always eager to protect songwriters. Our founding partner, Gerard Fox, and our Appellate & Critical Motions Chair, Marina Bogorad, will continue their fight to protect the songwriters' rights once the case comes down to the district court".
Looking to the next phase of this legal battle, the there mentioned Bogorad added: "We anticipate that there will be more attempts to get rid of the case, and we intend to keep going to get our clients their day in court".
And so the big 'Shake It Off' lyric-theft case rolls on. Expect plenty for players playing and haters hating as this copyright battle continues to go through the motions.
R Kelly ordered to use music royalties to pay outstanding child support payments
Kelly's legal team appeared before the judge overseeing his child support case on Monday, with a view to reaching a solution as the musician falls behind on payments once again. His attorney Steve Greenberg has previously said that Kelly's finances are in disarray and that he has been left with limited funds after years of mismanagement.
But at the latest hearing, Greenberg presented a new problem to the court, explaining that
Kelly was briefly jailed in March after he missed a deadline to pay over $160,000 in unpaid child support. He was freed after three days when an anonymous benefactor cleared the bill on his behalf. That payment took him up to the end of July, at which point he again began racking up more than $20,000 a month in charges, which he has failed to pay.
Following Monday's hearing, judge Lori Rosen issued an order for the outstanding bill of more than $60,000 and future payments to be taken out of Kelly's music royalties, according to the Chicago Sun Times. These are possibly held by a business entity, rather than Kelly personally, which would explain how they have remained untouched to date.
Kelly was dropped by his label, Sony Music's RCA, at the beginning of the year, while his publisher Sony/ATV severed ties with him a year earlier.
Both companies still control his recording and songwriting catalogues, however, so will be paying out royalties as that music generates income. He will also be getting royalties as both an artist and a songwriter through the collective licensing system.
Streaming services, most notably Spotify, have stopped playlisting Kelly's music, which will likely diminish his royalty income somewhat. However, widespread media coverage of the criminal charges against the musician have, at times, actually renewed interest in his songs, resulting in an uplift in streams.
As the legal wrangling over child support payments continues, Kelly remains in prison awaiting trial on sex abuse charges in both New York and Chicago.
Eleven Seven Label Group rebrands as Better Noise Music
"Better Noise is more than just a music company", says Better Noise COO Steve Kline. "We are a content company that creates books, films, documentaries, theatrical productions, tours, and television, that provide opportunities to reach audiences in unique and impactful ways. We're more than a record label, we develop and nurture artists and bands".
You want some evidence of this? Well, there's its involvement in Netflix's Motley Crue film 'The Dirt', a Broadway musical based on Motley Crue frontman Nikki Sixx's memoir 'The Heroin Diaries', and two more film projects, 'Sno Babies' and 'The Retaliators'.
The company's European MD Dan Waite adds: "Better Noise means we communicate our standards to our artists and partners in just two words. Better Noise is not generic and our standard is excellence. The collaborative way [founder] Allen [Kovac] encourages us to work means the artists benefit from everyone's skillset, whether in the US, Toronto, Europe or Australia, and this is why we have been able to attract top acts in their genre, like Awolnation and Five Finger Death Punch".
So that, I believe, is you told. As well as all this, the company's Nashville division - Better Noise Nashville - has just signed country-rock artist Cory Marks, and its international division - that'll be Better Noise International - has signed Bang Bang Romeo in the UK, Bleeker in Canada and Atlas Genius in Australia.
Deezer and Tidal start offering music is Sony's 360 Reality Audio
Sony itself describes that format as "an immersive audio experience utilising object-based spatial audio technology". This, it says, "makes it possible for artists and music creators to produce a music experience by mapping sound sources such as vocals, chorus and instruments with positional information and placing them within a spherical space".
Which, in case you wondered, means that "when listeners hear content produced in the 360 Reality Audio music format, they experience an immersion into sound that closely mimics the omni-directional soundscape of a live musical performance".
So, yes, it's another enhanced high-quality surround sound listening experience where everyone uses the word "immersive" far too often. Although Sony is trying to get the edge here by very much embracing music and the music industry, seeking to persuade artists, labels, distributors and those streaming music services with high quality audio options to embrace the whole hoo haa. It is also ensuring that mobile is key to the venture.
All three majors will be making music available in the all-new format, and Deezer, Tidal, Amazon and concert streaming set-up nugs.net are all set to collaborate too. Original recordings of live performances in 360 Reality Audio are set to be created via another partnership with live music giant Live Nation.
Sony announced most of this earlier this month, but now Deezer and Tidal have confirmed their participation. The former has launched a standalone app called 360 by Deezer in order to embrace the new audio format. Subscribers to Deezer's higher quality audio HiFi product will be able to play whatever music is available in 360 Reality Audio via the new app.
Deezer adds that its "regular app syncs with 360 by Deezer, enabling music fans to easily access their favourite songs without having to switch over. Users can choose to 'toggle' favourite songs in 360 or merge regular tracks with those in 360 Reality Audio format".
Confirming all this, the firm's Chief Product & Growth Officer, Stefan Tweraser, says: "Our new app offers hi-fi enthusiasts a dedicated and exclusive experience where they can easily access their 360 Reality Audio tracks. The new format provides music fans with a virtual audio experience that could previously only be achieved with special sound gear in a dedicated space. Now, with the 360 by Deezer app, all they need is a pair of headphones".
That latter point is also part of Sony's bid to take a lead in the high quality audio space, while also seeking to make what has traditionally been a niche product of interest to a wider range of consumers. Which is to say, making it as easy as possible to access the 360 experience without necessarily having to buy and set up a load of expensive tech.
Sony explained earlier this month that "360 Reality Audio can be experienced using headphones from most manufacturers when combined with an Android/iOS smartphone that has a participating streaming services app installed".
Using the service via speakers will require a little more commitment on the user's part, although Sony is collaborating with others - especially Amazon - to try to make sure that the new audio format is compatible with popular smart speaker and voice control systems.
Of course, Sony would prefer everyone to access all of this via Sony devices. "Listeners can enjoy a custom immersive musical field that is perfectly optimised for each individual user when using select Sony headphones", the company recently pointed out. And some of those special Sony headphones will now come with a three month free Deezer HiFi subscription.
Tidal has also confirmed its participation in the 360 Reality Audio adventure. It said yesterday that subscribers to its higher-quality audio service, also called HiFi, will now "have access to the highest quality audio experience at their fingertips. The addition of 360 Reality Audio supports Tidal's ongoing commitment and guarantee to provide highest quality experience to members and artists".
About 1000 tracks will be available in the new format at launch, including tracks from Miles Davis, Santana, Billie Holiday, A$AP Ferg and Khalid.
Agnes Obel announces new album, Myopia
"The albums I've worked on have all required that I build a bubble of some kind in which everything becomes about the album", she says of her creative process. "For me the production is intertwined with the lyrics and story behind the songs. Paradoxically, for me I need to create my own myopia to make music".
"For me, 'Myopia' is an album about trust and doubt", she goes on. "Can you trust yourself or not? Can you trust your own judgments? Can you trust that you will do the right thing? Can you trust your instincts and what you are feeling? Or are your feelings skewed?"
On the new single, she adds: "The song is made up of pitched-down piano and cello pizzicato and vocals, all choirs are pitched down and up".
As for the themes explored, she goes on: "In my experience when someone close to you dies it is simply impossible to comprehend that you can't ever talk to them or reach them somehow ever again. They are in many ways still alive because in your consciousness nothing has changed, they're still there with everyone else you know".
'Myopia' is out on 21 Feb, and Obel will be touring the UK and Ireland in March and April, finishing up at London's Hammersmith Apollo on 9 Apr. Now, watch the video for 'Island Of Doom' here.
Torres announces new album Silver Tongue
"Regarding 'Good Scare', I guess I could say that falling in love is a lot like the Superman crawl", she says of the track, in an explanation that requires a little bit of knowledge about potholing, or 'spelunking' as they call it in North America.
For those who don't spend their weekends exploring underground cave systems, she explains, "If you're not familiar with Superman's crawl, it's a terrifying manoeuvre used in spelunking that's only performed when certain passages are too narrow, so a person has to hold one arm against the body and the other above the head, all while trying to crawl forward".
Definition provided, she returns to her original point. "When you fall in love with someone, it's scary like the Superman's crawl", she adds, "but you have no choice but to keep moving forward even though you have no idea what's ahead of you".
Who knew this bit of release news would be so educational? Anyway, the album is out on 31 Jan and there will be a handful of UK shows in March. Here are the dates:
3 Mar: Bristol, The Louisiana
Now, just in time for Halloween, here's 'Good Scare'.
Paul Smith has been promoted to the newly created role of VP A&R And International Songwriters at Warner Chappell. "The songwriting business is more global than ever, and the partnerships we're seeing across cultures are truly inspiring", says Smith. "There's nothing more rewarding than connecting songwriters and helping them maximise their collaboration opportunities on an international level". What about successfully throwing something in the bin on the first attempt without looking?
REM will release a 25th anniversary edition of their 'Monster' album this week, featuring the original record and a new version remixed and overhauled by producer Scott Litt. The band have launched an app to allow fans to compare the different versions of the track side by side.
Chance The Rapper has released the video for 'Hot Shower', featuring MadeinTYO and DaBaby, from his album 'The Big Day'.
Kele Okereke has released new single 'Guava Rubicon'. "I named this song 'Guava Rubicon' after my favourite soft drink but this song is a love letter to my favourite type of girls in the world; the black girls of London", he says. "The black woman is the most maligned figure in today's society and I wanted to make something that celebrated her smarts, her sexiness and her magic".
Tame Impala have announced that they will release their fourth album, 'The Slow Rush', on 14 Feb. Now it might be time for new single 'It Might Be Time'.
Mike Patton and Jean-Claude Vannier have released the video for 'A Schoolgirl's Day', from their 'Corpse Flower' album.
Pixies have released the video for 'Long Rider' from their 'Beneath The Eyrie' album.
Clams Casino has announced that he will release new album, 'Moon Trip Radio', on 7 Nov. From it, this is new single, 'Rune'.
House duo Athlete Whippet have teamed up with Metronomy's Olugbenga Adelekan for a new EP, titled 'Touch', out on 29 Nov. From it, this is 'Be Reborn'.
Junglepussy has released new track 'Spiders', with a Halloween-appropriate video to boot.
HMLTD have announced that they will release their debut album, 'West Of Eden', on 7 Feb through Lucky Number. They'll be touring the UK and Ireland the same month. Here's new single, 'The West Is Dead'.
Pulled Apart By Horses have released new single 'Is This Thing On?' The track is the "official anthem" of Transgressive Records' fifteenth anniversary. "When we heard our spiritual label home Transgressive was celebrating its birthday this year, it seemed rude not to get involved", say the band. "They are integral to PABH and what we've become".
Hannah Trigwell has released new single 'Like U Used To'. "The track is inspired by a relationship that is going steady, but there's no drama anymore - it's about missing that", she says.
GIGS & TOURS
Noel Gallagher will play an outdoor show at London's Kenwood House on 21 Jun next year. The show will be part of English Heritage's Heritage Live Concert Series. Tickets are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kanye West claims God gave him a tax rebate
West has just released a new album, as I'm sure you noticed. He's been talking about it a lot. Well, he's been talking. Talking, talking, talking. Talking like he does when he has an album to promote. And despite his apparent recent spiritual awakening, the talking is much the same as usual. Except he mentions God a lot more now.
Appearing on James Corden's 'Carpool Karaoke', West made the fairly bold claim that God is using him to demonstrate to us other humans the absolute limits of perfection a living being can reach. Something along those lines, anyway. And this divine demonstration includes West getting a refund on his tax payments.
"God is using me, as a human being, as humbly as I can put it, he's using me to show off", says West. "Last year I made $115 million and still ended up $35 million in debt. This year I looked up and I just got $68 million returned to me on my tax returns".
What exactly is God's plan here? Apparently it's to show anyone who finds themselves spiralling into debt that they too can get out of that situation if they just believe in Jesus.
"People say, 'don't talk about these numbers'", claims West. "No, people need to hear someone that has been put into debt by the system talk about these kind of numbers now that they're in service to Christ".
So, there you go, just believe and you'll suddenly find yourself with millions of dollars in the bank. It probably helps to set up your own church, like West has. Those tend to be pretty good for reducing your tax burden. Especially in America.
Also, it helps to be very wealthy in the first place, to a level where you'd benefit from the tax breaks for the mega-rich introduced by West's mate Donald Trump.
Basically, if you want to get out of debt, it really helps to have millions in the bank already. And then to believe in Jesus. But not so much that you start giving all your money away to the poor like that tedious hippy Jesus kept advising everyone to do.
Elsewhere in the interview West also claims to have changed the world's perception of marriage, which is good news, given how much God likes marriage. Well, some forms of marriage. "People thought it would be uncool to be married", reckons West, "then I got married and then people thought, 'Oh, that looks cool'".
So, yes, basically, as you can see Kanye West has a new record out and it's very much business as usual.
Anyway, I mentioned that West was on 'Carpool Karaoke'. Which he was. Although, when you bring a 100-strong gospel choir with you to perform, a car really isn't going to do it. So this episode is on a plane.
And, aside from having to watch James Corden 'joining in', the actual singing bit is pretty magnificent. I'd congratulate Kanye West for putting a choir on a plane, but he'd probably just tell me that God did it. Which I'm sure would please whoever in Corden's production team actually came up with the idea.