|THURSDAY 16 JANUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: America's National Association Of Broadcasters has hit out at the US Department Of Justice's recent intervention in the ongoing dispute between boutique collecting society Global Music Rights and the Radio Music License Committee... [READ MORE]|
US broadcasters hit back at government intervention in Global Music Rights case
GMR is the newish performing rights organisation founded by veteran artist manager Irving Azoff which represents a small group of accomplished songwriters in the collective licensing domain. It competes with the bigger American collecting societies BMI and ASCAP as well as SESAC, all of which represent the performing rights in their members' songs.
Because BMI and ASCAP both represent such large catalogues of music, they are regulated by the DoJ through the so called consent decrees, which are meant to overcome the competition law concerns that are often raised about collective licensing. SESAC, although not governed by a consent decree, agreed to third party mediation on royalty disputes during a past legal battle with the RMLC.
Since Azoff set up GMR, the radio licensing committee has been busy trying to force it to also accept third party mediation. That has resulted in a regular back and forth of statements and legal claims from both sides, with lawsuits being filed back in 2016.
RMLC basically argues that, because GMR is a collecting society, and collecting societies always raise competition law concerns, it should be subject to some form of regulation and/or mediation just like BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. But GMR counters that, because it represents a small group of songwriters, while RMLC speaks for a large portion of the US radio sector, it's the committee rather than the society that behaves in an anti-competitive way.
This poses the interesting question as to whether 'buyers' collaborating on deal negotiations raises the same competition law concerns as when 'sellers' collaborate on deals.
Last month the DoJ submitted an amicus brief to the court hearing the RMLC v GMR case sharing its opinions on that very point. The government department said that it disagreed with the RMLC's arguments in this domain, and that a buyer's cartel can be "equally destructive of competition as a seller's cartel", even though these cases come up less frequently.
An intervention from the government department that directly regulates GMR's bigger rivals countering the arguments of the RMLC seemed like a considerable boost for the mini society's legal case. Which, needless to say, hasn't gone down well with the radio stations.
Hence the new intervention by the National Association Of Broadcasters, which has many members in common with the RMLC but also speaks for other radio companies not actively part of this particular legal battle.
In a submission to the court this week, the NAB says it "has a strong interest in the litigation between the RMLC and GMR, as it ... involves the relationship between licensees and a [collecting society] and threatens to harm NAB members that are not involved directly in the litigation".
The NAB then says that the DoJ's intervention in this case was "unorthodox", while reminding the court that it "owes no deference to the views" of a US government department.
On the specific opinions expressed by the DoJ last month, the NAB argues that these are "substantial deviations from historical department policy" and that the government department "offers no explanation for the striking shift from protecting our nation's citizens against the illegal activities of [collecting societies] to suggesting ... that a [society] is a victim of per se illegal conduct in an industry that has been under active department supervision for decades".
"As part of that decades-long mission", it goes on, "the department repeatedly acknowledged the role of entities like RMLC, organised for the purpose of collectively negotiating reasonable rates with [collecting societies], and never once to NAB's knowledge suggested to a court that they were illegal let alone per se illegal".
"Illegal per se" refers to activities considered under US law to be inherently illegal, reducing the obligations on the other side to prove bad conduct.
Moreover, the NAB adds, "under the department's own long-standing enforcement standards, it is clear that buying collaborations are not per se illegal so long as they are reasonably related to an efficiency". And, it then argues, GMR's own lawsuit against RMLC demonstrates the complexity of music licensing, and why entities like RMLC are needed to bring some efficiencies to the proceedings.
It remains to be seen how the court responds to the respective arguments of GMR, RMLC, DoJ and now NAB. Though with the DoJ also currently reviewing the aforementioned BMI/ASCAP consent decrees, we could yet see some shifts in the US as to how the collective licensing process is regulated.
Given that songwriters and music publishers have long argued that over-regulation in the US results in song rights being routinely under-valued, that's something that would be widely welcomed by the music community.
Kanye West and EMI confirm settlement deal close
West sued EMI a year ago in a bid to get out of his ongoing contractual commitments to the Sony/ATV-owned publisher. He sued in the Californian courts citing the rule under a state law that says that no one can be forced into a service contract that lasts longer than seven years. West started working with EMI in 2003 meaning, he argued, his commitments to the company ended in 2010.
Whether or not California's seven year rule applies to record and publishing contracts has long been debated in the US music industry. Though in a countersuit, EMI pointed out that its deals with West fall under the laws of New York State anyway, where there is no seven year rule, meaning many of the rapper's key arguments were irrelevant.
Efforts to settle the dispute were ongoing for much of last year, and in September legal reps for both sides said that an "agreement in principle" had been reached and that a settlement should be signed and sealed "within 90 days". Then, just before Christmas, EMI filed new papers with the New York courts seeking to reopen its case because "unfortunately, as of today's date, the parties have been unable to finalise the terms of a settlement agreement".
Although that was possibly a sign that settlement talks had hit a wall, it actually seemed more likely that EMI was just buying some time, because the court had set a deadline of 27 Dec for the publisher to reopen its lawsuit. Confirming that theory, a new court filing made this week states that "the parties are very close to finalising a settlement agreement and expect to have a final settlement agreement by 15 Feb".
Needless to say, terms of that deal are not known.
Secret 7" returns for final anonymous record artwork sale
As ever, seven tracks will be pressed up onto seven-inch vinyl, each limited to 100 copies. Then 700 artists will create one-off sleeves into which those records will be slipped, the identities of the artwork designers kept a secret until the sleeves have been sold. Money raised from those sales will be donated to the Help Refugees charity.
Founders of the project, Kevin King and Jordan Stokes, say in a statement: "By the time Secret 7" 2020 comes to a close we will have made 4900 one-of-a-kind records for 49 different tracks and raised over £250,000 for good causes. Over the years we've been developing and pushing the project and now it feels like we've reached its logical conclusion. Ending on the seventh year feels wonderfully apt. We're looking forward to celebrating the power of art and music for the last time as Secret 7"".
This year's tracks are:
The 700 sleeves will go on public display at the Now Gallery in Greenwich from 9-30 May. They will then go on sale on 31 May. For more information on the project, including how to submit artwork, check the website here.
Ultraísta announce return with first album since 2012
"All three of us have so many transferable skills," explains Godrich. "Ultraísta is an opportunity to do something outside what we'd normally be doing. It's all of us wearing different hats. For me, when I'm working with another creative force, my point of entry into the music is completely different. With this project it can take a lot longer because we're able to be more self-indulgent. It's a control freak's dream!"
Less of a control freak's dream were efforts to promote the group's 2012 debut album, which did not quite go to plan. Godrich continues: "When we tried to tour, we ran into a full catalogue of disasters that ended up grounding everything to a halt. During soundcheck for our first US show Joey got a phone call that his first-born child had come two months early. I think he literally hit his snare once, then had to get on a plane back home".
"Laura and I had to re-learn the whole set and try to get on without Joey", he adds. "And then the next time we came to the US, Hurricane Sandy hit. Slowly we all got pulled back into our other projects until eventually six years went by".
Now back on track, 'Sister' is set for release through Partisan Records on 13 Mar. Here's the first track from it, 'Tin King'.
Myrkur announces traditional Norwegian folk album, Folkesange
"Three years ago I decided to share a video where I performed an old Scandinavian folk-song on [traditional instrument] the nyckelharpa", she explains. "After this I realised that I had a strong need to create an album within this universe and that other people also wished to hear this. So I started working on picking out what old songs to reinterpret as well as [exploring] my own version of this [sound]".
The first single from the record is original composition 'Ella', which she says is "the result of years of studying, playing and listening to traditional Nordic folk music".
"This is my version of a new folk song, with roots planted in history and in the past", she continues. "It is my ode to mankind and our connection with nature - a rite of passage as a woman and a rebirth-ritual in the sea".
The album is out through Relapse Records on 20 Mar. Listen to 'Ella' here.
Anna Burch announces second album, If You're Dreaming
"I wrote 'Not So Bad' the day before I left to record, because I felt there was an important piece of the album missing - a hopeful, escapist pop song that dealt more positively with themes the other songs were circling around - and luckily it came together almost immediately", says Burch. "The chord progression felt light and jazzy, and when I started to write the words I remembered my mom bugging me about how melancholic my lyrics tend to be, 'Surely your life hasn't all been that bad!'"
She continues: "I wanted to express the importance of cultivating a rich interior life that falls outside of the economy of images and information we're disseminating at all times. 'Not So Bad' is an optimistic love song about retreating into memories to find what you need to feel in control of your own narrative when everything else around you feels precarious".
The album is out on 3 Apr, and you can watch the video for 'Not So Bad' here.
Burch will also be on tour in the UK and Ireland in May. Here are the dates:
6 May: Bristol, The Louisiana
Sepultura have signed a deal with BMG to release their new album, 'Quadra', in Latin America - including their home country Brazil. "We signed with BMG because we believe in their modern and fair business model", they say. "In addition, they value the past of Sepultura and believe in the future of the band".
New American mechanical rights society MLC has announced the appointment of lawyer and former Sony Music and Warner Music exec Kris Ahrend to the role of CEO. MLC Chair Alisa Coleman says her board is "THRILLED" with the hire.
Athena Koumis has been hired by Amazon-owned live-streaming and gamer platform Twitch as its new Music Partnerships Manager. "When I learned Twitch was officially expanding into the music space in 2020, I knew this would be the right place for me to continue my work helping music communities thrive", she says in a post on LinkedIn. She has previously held roles at Spotify and, most recently, Xite.
The documentary Taylor Swift last year claimed was being blocked by her former label Big Machine, 'Miss Americana', will arrive on Netflix on 31 Jan. As previously announced, the film will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 23 Jan.
Slipknot have released a new 20 minute short film titled 'Pollution', directed by the band's Shawn 'Clown' Crahan. "I set out to make a short film that makes you question your own existence, here in this reality", he says. "When you lay down in your bed, next to the one you love, do you ever ask yourself - is it possible that this person could slit my throat while I'm sleeping? Enjoy. Pollution is everywhere". Fun stuff. The short film expands on the band's 'Nero Forte' video. Watch it here.
James Blunt has released the video for 'Monsters', from his latest album 'Once Upon A Mind'.
Poliça have released new single 'Steady'. New album 'When We Stay Alive' is out on 24 Jan, with UK tour dates following in February.
Wiki has released the video for 'The Routine', from his latest album 'Oofie'. He's also announced UK tour dates in March, including a show at Omeara in London on 11 Mar.
Sega Bodega has announced that he will release his debut album, 'Salvador', through Nuxxe on 14 Feb. From it, this is new single 'Salv Goes To Hollywood'.
The Naked And Famous have announced that they will release their fourth album, 'Recover', in May. "Recover is about the duo, recovering ourselves, and our artistic vessel", says one half of the outfit, Thom Powers. "The album is a statement of creative healing and a vehicle to plough forwards into our own future. We hope that the messages of healing and resilience have some effect on its listeners". Here's new single 'Bury Us'.
Moaning have announced that they will release their second album, 'Uneasy Laughter', through Sub Pop on 20 Mar. "Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they're wrong", says frontman Sean Solomon of the record's lyrical content. "But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I've made". Here's first single 'Ego'.
Douglas Dare has released new single 'The Joy In Sarah's Eyes' on Erased Tapes. "I realise now that Sarah is the child in me", he says. "She is the innocent and pure joy that we all have as children that often is lost with age. Remembering this joy and keeping it with you can literally keep you alive, keep you vital". His new album, 'Milkteeth', is out on 21 Feb.
Banoffee has released new single 'Count On You', produced with Sophie and Yves Rothman. Her debut album 'Look At Us Now Dad' - also featuring Empress Of, Cupcakke and Umru - is out on 21 Feb.
Nnamdï - formerly Nnamdi Ogbonnaya - has announced that he will release his new album, 'Brat', through Sooper Records on 4 Apr. From it, this is new single 'Wasted'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Stormzy discusses Wiley feud in US radio interview
In summary: He quite likes it because it's part of grime culture, but he's a bit tired of Wiley now, and the main recent criticisms made against him don't stand because it was always his plan to have mainstream success and work with people like Ed Sheeran.
Speaking on Hot 97's Ebro In The Morning, he explained: "To be fair, [Wiley's] been [starting feuds with people] for a very long time. He started the whole genre, he's like the literal figurehead, pioneer, sound creator, and that's what he does. And I'm like the new kid, I'm the torch bearer right now. He's a bit of a troll by nature, that's not even meant as disrespect. He's been trolling me for a bit, and we had a little Twitter exchange, and he done the grime thing, which is to go on record and 'send' [for me]".
"I've always held him in the highest regard", he went on. "As an MC and as a musician and as the person who started the genre and allowed me to have a career, [I respect him] 100%. [But] as a man, maybe not".
Nonetheless, Stormzy agreed that Wiley was probably mainly picking on him because of his current popularity, and that ultimately his intentions were likely to promote the wider grime scene.
"To be fair, you're probably right [that he's doing it to promote grime]", he told Ebro and his co-presenters. "And there probably was some good intention in his endeavour. However, for [me], not even in an arrogant way, I'm busy. I'm kind of tunnel vision ahead, and then - boom - you get a bazooka".
Asked to deal in more detail with some of the specific insults that have flown back and forth this month, Stormzy refused, saying that "it's all on record".
However, he confirmed that he enjoyed putting together the two diss tracks he's recorded so far, saying: "I had to [respond]. I'm super happy to have done that. And I won it. The heights I've reached, that's like the chink in my armour, it's always like, 'He's the commercial artist, he's not real', [but] naturally I'm an MC, I'm a barrer, I'm a sparrer, and that's where I'm most comfortable".
Wiley isn't the only other rapper who's been calling Stormzy out for making commercially successful music, and in particular for working with Ed Sheeran. On the latter point he noted "the Ed thing probably just cemented it, but I was getting it years before [I worked with] Ed".
However, he went on, seeking to go mainstream, and working with more mainstream artists, isn't a recent diversion, it was always part of the plan. And, he added, it's because of what was built by the other grime MCs - including those now criticising him - that he was able to pursue that plan.
"I had a whole lifetime of watching everybody come through", he said. "So your Wileys, your Skeptas, your Dizzee Rascals, your Kanos, down to your Chips, Krept & Konan. I've watched everybody, I've been a fan of the culture, so when I came in, I kind of knew exactly how to navigate and what musical decisions to make, and also what decisions to make outside of music. I'm kind of like a child and product of everyone else's mistakes, everyone else's wins, their losses, where they went wrong, where they smashed it".
He added that it's always been difficult for rappers in the UK to balance commercial success and credibility. But, he went on, "I was never willing to sacrifice one for the other. So from the get-go I said, 'look, cut the shit, I wanna be platinum, I want number one songs, I wanna be here, I want my songs played out. I'm not trying to be on the dark corners of SoundCloud - fuck that. I'm trying to be the top boy. But also 100% I wanna be able to go to the ends and people be like, 'yo, that's our Stormz'".