|FRIDAY 1 NOVEMBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Grammy Awards have gone legal against an event planned to take place in California later this month called the Christian Grammy Awards. The US Recording Academy, which produces America's big annual music awards bash, reckons this planned celebration of Christian music-makers infringes its various trademarks... [READ MORE]|
The Grammys goes legal against the Christian Grammys
In a lawsuit filed with the Californian courts yesterday, the Recording Academy provides a speedy history of its big awards show, stressing how iconic the name Grammy has become, and how widely it uses both its name and logo across its events and projects.
It then states: "Defendants are well aware of the popularity and fame of the Recording Academy's Grammy trademarks and the goodwill represented and symbolised by these marks. Nevertheless, with full awareness of that popularity, fame, and goodwill, defendants have undertaken unfairly and in bad faith to use the Grammy marks for the purpose of drawing attention to defendants' event".
"Defendants have been unfairly trading off the Grammy brand by organising, hosting, advertising, and selling tickets to an event titled the 'Christian Grammy Awards'", it goes on. Before then adding that the god-fearing music awards event even has a logo that is clearly based on the image the real Grammys organisation uses, which is in turn based on the shape of the statuettes it hands out to winners at its award shows.
To add insult to injury - as far as the Recording Academy is concerned, anyway - not only is the Christian Grammy Awards calling itself the Christian Grammy Awards, in September it began the process of seeking trademark protection for its logo. A logo that contains the words Christian Grammy Awards and the aforementioned statuette-shape icon.
Says the lawsuit: "Upon information and belief, defendants created their design using the Grammy statuette as a foundation. The base of the Christian Grammy Awards design is the same as the base of the Grammy statuette: a black platform with a gold gramophone sound box atop. Defendants' design swaps just the gramophone horn for the clef symbol, but includes the sound box, which serves no purpose in the design except to call to mind the Grammy brand".
It has to be said that the logo that the Christian Grammy Awards is seeking to trademark is pretty shit, and that shitness alone might suggest to the average onlooker that these awards are not officially linked to the actual Grammy Awards, which already has a prize for Christian music.
But making your logo a bit shit isn't enough, the Recording Academy reckons, to distinguish it from the official Grammy brand. "The addition of the word 'Christian' before 'Grammy Awards' is not sufficient to notify a consumer or the media that the ceremony and award presented are not affiliated with the Recording Academy", the lawsuit then states.
On the basis all this infringes various trademarks owned by the Recording Academy, the lawsuits asks the court to order the Christian Grammy Awards to stop using the Grammy brand across its events and communications. Plus, of course, the real Grammys would like some damages. Three times, in fact.
The court, the lawsuit argues, should force the defendants to "pay the Recording Academy three times all of plaintiffs' damages suffered as a result of defendants' wilful, intentional, and deliberate acts in violation of [US trademark law] as well as the Recording Academy's costs, attorneys' fees, and expenses in this suit because this is an 'exceptional case'".
The Christian Grammy Awards is yet to respond to the litigation. Meanwhile God, as usual, was unavailable for comment.
Songtrust promotes Molly Neuman to President
"Molly's leadership has been an essential element in Songtrust's tremendous growth over the past two years", says Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz.
"She is genuinely invested", he adds, "in the success of our songwriters and publisher clients, having been both herself, and is driven to help achieve Songtrust's goals of delivering equity and innovation to the music rights ecosystem. As we continue to expand the broader Downtown portfolio, Joe [Conyers, Songtrust's co-founder] and I have no doubt that Songtrust will continue to flourish as Molly assumes her new role as President".
Neuman herself adds: "I am elated to be the new President of Songtrust, in part because I am deeply, personally connected to Songtrust's core mission to support creators, songwriters, producers, composers, their representatives and the businesses who work with them in accessing the money they are due".
"I am grateful for the confidence placed in me by Justin and Joe", she goes on, "and remain committed to continuing to grow the Songtrust client base, drive our technological edge, and continuously improve our industry leading processes and global collection capabilities. We have an incredible team in place to make this possible and I am honoured to work alongside them".
Neuman takes up her new position with immediate effect.
Ticketmaster announces initiative to make it easier for disabled music fans to buy tickets
It follows the 2018 report from accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything which found that more than 80% of disabled gig-goers had been put off going to shows because it was hard to access the tickets they needed or to provide information about their accessibility requirements through online booking platforms. Many had had to pay extra to be able to buy a ticket online or been given no option to purchase online at all.
Announcing his firm's bid to tackle this issue, Ticketmaster's Andrew Parsons says: "At Ticketmaster we believe equal access to live entertainment is paramount. We knew we had to do more for disabled fans and our team has worked hard on this ground-breaking technology that endeavours to make ticket buying simple for all. Every fan should have the same access to the events they love, it's an ongoing process and one we continue to prioritise".
Welcoming the development, Attitude Is Everything CEO Suzanne Bull adds: "I'm delighted that Ticketmaster's accessible ticket sales will go online. This is real progress for millions of disabled fans who are entitled to a variety of ways in which they can book their tickets. In designing their new service, Ticketmaster has worked closely with us and our Ticketing Without Barriers Coalition to achieve the five steps to inclusive ticketing that we set out in our February 2018 'State Of Access Report. We wish them every success".
With Ticketmaster's new functionality, within 24 hours of booking a ticket, disable fans will be able to submit their accessibility requirements via the Ticketmaster site. Once this has been done once, the system will remember this information for future bookings.
MMF publishes a new report exploring the evolution of management and management deals
It's no secret that the work undertaken by an artist manager today is very different to that of the deal-maker manager of the past. There are various reasons for this evolution, but the changing relationship between artists and labels is a key factor.
In the 2000s, when recorded music revenues were in steep decline, labels generally started signing artists a little later in their career. Because the managers of new artists generally fill the gaps where other business partners are yet to be appointed, that meant managers taking a bigger role in artist development and fanbase building in those crucial and most tricky early stages.
That can be a real challenge at a point in the artist's career when there is little money coming in, with managers having to invest more time and, sometimes, their own money to move things forward to the level where labels get interested.
In the long-term this new approach can benefit the artist too, because with more of the groundwork done before a traditional label deal is signed, that label deal can be properly focused on each artist's specific requirements. Which will usually enable the artist to get a label deal with more favourable terms.
Plus, with the growth of distributors and label services companies working directly with artists and their management teams, there are now more options than ever when picking a business partner to help develop, distribute and market recordings.
Beyond the changing nature of the label relationship, there are all the new opportunities around the direct-to-fan relationship. Capitalising on that requires a business partner that works with the artist on a constant basis. With labels usually focused on specific release campaigns and promoters on specific tours, the one business partner working with the artist all year round is the manager.
So, the manager's role has changed a lot, continues to change, and can vary considerably depending on the artist, their fanbase and where they are in their career.
In the words of the MMF's new 'Managing Expectations' report: "The music industry has changed enormously this century and so has the role and purpose of the music manager. Each manager and management company may take a very different approach, but they are all ultimately doing the same thing: building careers and businesses for their artists".
It goes on: "In a digitally-driven culture, labels expect artists to be 'developed' to a certain stage and have genuine momentum behind them before a deal is offered. The duty of the manager, therefore, is to start fostering and - frequently - investing in their client. This is partly out of financial and structural necessity, but with the result that greater autonomy is being placed in the hands of artists and managers before any other players - ie publishers, agents, labels or brands - get involved".
The report is based on a survey of 183 people working in management in the UK and a series of more in depth interviews, all undertaken for the MMF by MusicAlly. Among other things it talks about the many skills managers and management companies now need to be able to properly support their clients.
A wide-range of skills covering pretty much every aspect of the music business are listed, though many respondents talked in particular about the increased importance of managers having digital marketing skills, something that might traditionally have been outsourced to the label. Artists actually begin the fanbase building process themselves before a manager is even on board, but helping the artist to grow that fanbase is now a key role of the manager, particularly at the early stages, but even once other business partners on board.
Some managers who took part in the research also talked about the increasing importance of data management, being on top of all the different kinds of data coming in and out of the music industry and, crucially, knowing what to do with it.
As managers bring more skills and services to the table, management companies need to expand, while individual managers might need to ally with one of those management firms to be able to offer those extra capabilities. But as managers provide ever more services, does the traditional model for how managers get paid - a 20% commission - still make sense?
The report states: "A UK manager working on 20% commission has been the default setting for the business for so long that it has become ossified as fact: 'This is the way managers earn money and it will remain so forever'. Yet as the industry changes, as the way acts make money shifts, and as the responsibilities of a manager increase, there is growing discussion within the management community about the viability of the 20% model, with many arguing that it is anachronistic and unfit for purpose".
The report discusses various alternative approaches that managers have experimented with, including launching joint venture businesses with artists, or have different sides to a management business that can work with artists on different terms.
On this point it concludes that there is "a clear need for further discussions with lawyers and the artist community, including our sister organisations in the Council Of Music Makers - the Featured Artist Coalition, Music Producers Guild, Ivors Academy and Musicians Union - to help shift the dialogue beyond a standard '20% commission' and to develop new types of relevant, sustainable business models".
With managers offering an ever wider range of services, management companies can sometimes start to look like labels, booking agencies, merch businesses and marketing set-ups all in one. However, the managers in the report stress that they don't generally wish to replace the artist's other business partners. The challenge is identifying which business partners are needed when, and on what terms.
The report states: "While it is romantic to assume that all artists have been empowered to 'break free' of traditional conventions, many managers are keen to assert that there are limitations to unfettered independence". It adds: "That means management teams need to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and where they require outside expertise".
Finally, the report also puts the spotlight on the manager's role in supporting the health and well-being of their clients, with that one skill being ranked as the most important by the surveyed managers. "A key part of a manager's role", the report confirms, "is to safeguard their artists, and many are pushing back against the 'always-on' culture of social media and round-the-clock promotion".
MMF says that it will use the research behind 'Managing Expectations' to inform its education and lobbying work, and its Accelerator professional development programme. It also provides a jumping off point to further investigate and discuss management business models, and the deals done between managers and the artists they manage.
BBC partners with Spotify to promote new David Attenborough series
"We're THRILLED to be working with Spotify on a global launch for our latest natural history landmark series, 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'", says Jasmine Dawson, Global Director Of Digital Marketing at BBC Studios. "We're constantly looking for fresh, innovative ways of storytelling, and these videos along with Hans Zimmer's stunning soundtrack will help to bring the story of the seven different continents to life for a whole new generation".
Spotify's Head Of Sales, Rakesh Patel, adds: "From music to podcasts, Spotify listeners come to our platform to discover new favourites, which is why we are constantly looking for new and unique experiences for them to enjoy. As a platform that provides world-class programmes and content which informs and entertains millions of people in the UK and around the world, BBC Studios is the perfect partner for this global first takeover experience on Spotify".
Despite the mention there, no podcasts are involved in this campaign. There's music though. Remember music? Here's that soundtrack album.
While we're on the subject of David Attenborough, the winner of his remix competition has been announced. You remember his remix competition, right? It was to rework a 1956 recording he made of a tribe in Bali, taken from a compilation of similar recordings he released as an album earlier this year.
Well anyway, the winner is Tom Burland, who says of his track: "Apart from the percussion and bassline, I stuck to using sounds that were found in the recording, so it doesn't diverge too far from the feel of the original. It was tempted to start chucking in lots of elements that I'm used to using, but I created all my effects using the original audio".
UK Music urges music community to vote in upcoming General Election
"Music makes a huge contribution to our economy, our local communities and Britain's soft power internationally", says UK Music CEO Michael Dugher. "It also brings enjoyment to millions of people every day and it has the power to change lives for the better. There are critical issues at stake for everyone who cares about the future of music in the UK, including the thousands of people working in Britain's world-leading music business".
He continues: "If you're concerned about the impact of Brexit, if you are worried about the future of our grassroots music venues, if you want to safeguard our talent pipeline by ensuring that music is accessible to people of every background, it's vital that your voice is heard. We urge all music creators and everyone working in music to ensure that they are registered to vote so that they can have their say in what will be a crucial general election".
You can register to vote right here, if you're not already. It barely takes any time at all and makes you 17% more attractive.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
The Association Of Independent Music has launched a new 'Start-up Guide To Music Business', which is part of the organisation's alliance with BBC Introducing that was announced at its recent AGM. It provides, says AIM, "an essential 'how to' on starting and growing a business working with and releasing music in the 21st Century". You can access a copy here.
Olivia Colman has recorded a cover of Portishead's 'Glory Box' - with a little help from Phoebe Waller-Bridge - for a new BBC Children In Need compilation of celebrity covers, called 'Got It Covered'. Here's a behind the scenes video.
Labrinth has announced that he will release his long-awaited second album - the follow-up to 2012's 'Electronic Earth' - on 22 Nov. Titled 'Imagination And The Misfit Kid', the album's first single, 'Where The Wild Things Are', it out now.
Miguel has released new single 'Funeral'.
La Roux is back with new single 'International Woman Of Leisure'. She's also announced that she will release new album 'Supervision' on 7 Feb and play a show in London at Fabric on 5 Feb.
88rising have released the video for 'Hopscotch', fronted by the hip hop group's members August 08, Joji and Rich Brian, and featuring the guest talents of Barney Bones.
Deerhunter have released new twelve minute single 'Timebends' ahead of UK and Ireland tour dates starting tomorrow.
All Them Witches have released new single '1X1'. They will tour the UK supporting Ghost this month.
Shygirl has released the video for her new single 'BB', produced by Sega Bodega.
GIGS & TOURS
My Chemical Romance have announced that they will reunite for a show in LA on 20 Dec.
The Hold Steady have announced three back-to-back shows in London next March. They'll play Camden's Electric Ballroom on 6-7 Mar and Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush on 8 Mar. Go to all three. Or just one. Or two. Or none. The choice is yours!
Marika Hackman has announced UK tour dates in February and March next year, starting at Gorilla in Manchester on 24 Feb and winding up at The Forum in London on 5 Mar.
Methyl Ethel have announced that they will play Peckham Audio on 19 Nov. The one-off London show will follow a European tour supporting Mac DeMarco.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Threatin returns to Camden with two film projects to plug
As you may remember, Threatin booked a short tour of the UK last year, convincing venues that he had a management team in place and a sufficiently active online fanbase that he could sell tickets direct-to-consumer. But none of that was true, so when he and the session musicians he'd hired to be his band showed up, they mainly played to empty rooms.
Commentators aplenty noted that this was proof that, while artists could fake a team and fanbase online, that achieved little when it came to actually trying to sell tickets to a show. Threatin, for this part, later claimed that the whole thing was a clever art project. A clever art project that is now moving into its film stage.
"I partnered with The Gotham Group, the producers of the 'Maze Runner' films, to release a Threatin documentary and a Threatin feature-length, scripted film as well", he tells Ultimate Guitar. "I will be co-ordinating my album release with the release of the first film".
Yes, there will be a second Threatin album next year too. "It will be nothing like my previous record", he says. "Every record I create will be vastly different".
Anyway, so, this documentary could be interesting. Although I assume it will give absolutely no insight into what actually happened on that tour, given that Threatin seems on bad terms with those musicians he brought along for the ride, and he is also still maintaining that booking a tour and then playing shows to empty rooms was his plan all along. In fact, he says he's doing it again to prove the point he claims he was making first time around.
"I have created ten fake bands, all with their own band names, backstories, and the right image and social media numbers to fool booking agents and venues", he says. "I have already booked two shows at two of the venues I fooled during my stunt last year; the Bristol Exchange and The Asylum in Birmingham".
"Hiding in the event schedules of these two venues are bands that do not exist", he goes on. "But, they were booked solely on image and social media numbers. We'll see if these venues are able to identify the fake bands before the day of the event where I will otherwise arrive and perform a surprise show. I have done this just to show it could be done, again. Eight more venues in the US and UK will have the same quarrel. The industry is built on lies, so, lies is what you feed it".
Of course, this presumably means he'll be playing to no one yet again, assuming the now warned venues don't pull the plug before show night. Though, luckily, there is one show that's all above board with the venue very much on board. Threatin is set to play The Underworld in Camden tonight.
"The Underworld contacted me about doing another show within the first week of my stunt becoming so popular in the media last year", he says. "I pitched the idea of doing a show one year to the day from when I began the stunt. I felt this would be a good way for the story I had created to come full circle. This will not be a normal show. It will be a work of art".
Tickets are still available.