|FRIDAY 17 JANUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Ariana Grande is being sued in the US over her 2019 hit '7 Rings' which, "by every method of analysis", is a rip off of an earlier track called 'You Need It, I Got It' by Josh Stone. Or so says Josh Stone... [READ MORE]|
Ariana Grande latest artist sued for alleged song-theft
Stone is suing Grande and the plethora of other co-writers involved in '7 Rings' - a song that includes the lyric "I want it, I got it" - though most of his allegations relate to one of those co-writers, producer Tommy Brown.
In a lawsuit filed this week, Stone claims that, having recorded his track in January 2017, he had various meetings with music industry types looking for opportunities to release his music and collaborate with other artists.
One of those meetings was at Universal Music Publishing where, he alleges, Brown was among the people invited to attend. The producer, Stone then claims, subsequently got in touch saying he'd enjoyed 'You Need It, I Got It' and that he was interested in collaborating.
No such collaborations ever happened though. "Instead", says that lawsuit, "upon information and belief, defendant Brown simply took 'I Got It' to Ariana Grande and the other defendants and later repackaged 'I Got It' into '7 Rings'.
Having established how Team Grande would have had access to Stone's record - which he subsequently posted to YouTube in November 2017 - the lawsuit then goes to great lengths to explain just how similar the two songs are.
"A lay person listening to the 'hook' and chorus of both songs can hear the strikingly similar and, at times, identical beat, rhythm and lyrics of both songs", reckons the legal filing.
Meanwhile, one of those sneaky musicologists has been comparing the two tracks and, the lawsuit adds, "from a scientific, musicological perspective, the rhythmic structure, metrical placement, duration of rhythmic pattern and lyrical elements of composition in '7 Rings' are either identical or substantially similar to 'I Got It'".
Stone accuses Grande and her team of wilful and vicarious copyright infringement, false designation, reverse passing off and unjust enrichment, and would like lots of lovely damages.
Team Grande are yet to comment.
Mixcloud launches in-house brand consultancy
Going beyond simple ad sales and sponsorship, the digital platform is launching its own in-house brand consultancy called Loud.
It's a bit like how Vice has its own in-house agency called Virtue. And one of the people running Mixcloud's new business - Kazim Rashid - previously worked for the Vice agency, as well as having a stint at indie label Warp and working as an artist manager and visual artist. Also heading up the new venture is Ben Lawrence, Mixcloud's long-standing Head Of Brand Partnerships.
Mixcloud says that Loud's "multidisciplinary team is uniquely positioned to help global brands resonate in culture through provocative intelligence, strategy and creative solutions", which is the sort of nonsense you have to say when pitching for big brand budgets. Also, "Mixcloud's community is the substratum that powers the ability for Loud to learn, plan and execute across different cultures, cities and countries". Yeah, shit like that.
On launching Loud, Rashid confirmed that the new brand consultancy venture had been in development for sometime, saying: "For the past two years, we've been incubating Loud and working with some of our favourite brands, so it's nice to finally announce this to the world. [We will] deliver an uncompromising artist/culture-first approach to storytelling, activation and strategy. By doing so, we're able to give our brand partners something truly unique - an experience that I hope comes with an extra dash of kindness and care".
Initial clients for Loud include Adidas, Dr Martens, Shure, Red Bull and W Hotels.
Boss of US Recording Academy put on "administrative leave" after allegations of misconduct
In a stern statement, the Academy said: "In light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy Board Of Trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team, the board has placed Recording Academy President and CEO Deborah Dugan on administrative leave, effective immediately. The board has also retained two independent third party investigators to conduct independent investigations of the allegations".
Although details of the specific allegations of misconduct are not known, sources have told Billboard that were tensions between Dugan and the music industry organisation's board and staff almost from the off.
Opinion seems divided over what caused those tensions. Some say it's because the new boss was unwilling to utilise the music industry expertise of her team and navigate all that tedious music community politics. Others say that the real problem was that - despite Dugan being hired to shake things up, especially around diversity - most of those involved in the Academy weren't really ready for a shake up.
Also, although Dugan's predecessor Neil Portnow ran into controversy in the latter part of his stint in the CEO role, especially over his comments regarding the lack of gender diversity at the Grammy Awards, he remained very popular among staff there.
"The board determined this action to be necessary in order to restore the confidence of the Recording Academy's membership, repair Recording Academy employee morale, and allow the Recording Academy to focus on its mission of serving all music creators", the official statement added.
Although Dugan is officially on "administrative leave", she's not expected to return to the CEO role, and has reportedly hired legal counsel to deal with the fall out. Chair of the Academy board Harvey Mason Jr will fill in as CEO on an interim basis.
XL's Richard Russell to publish autobiography
The book marks the 30th anniversary of the Beggars Group label, which has released music by Adele, Dizzee Rascal, The Prodigy and more. It's being published by White Rabbit, the new music-focussed imprint of publishing house Orion, set up by Lee Brackstone, formerly of Faber Social.
According to the publisher, the book will tell the story of XL, from its creation and through all the subsequent changes in the music industry. It will also cover Russell's own story with plenty of anecdotes about the artists he's worked with.
"Writing this book was an opportunity for me to reflect on the last few decades", says Russell. "I hope people will get something from it. I've tried not to compromise in anything I've done, and that includes writing 'Liberation Through Hearing'".
Brackstone adds: "To have any understanding of the music that has soundtracked the past three decades you need to read this book. 'Liberation Through Hearing' documents Richard Russell's investment in the great artists who defined rap, rave and all its infinite tributaries with a piercing honesty".
The book is set for publication on 2 Apr.
Mark Lanegan set to publish grunge memoir
According to the publisher, the book concentrates on the 90s, a time when Lanegan found fame with his band The Screaming Trees, and also ended up selling crack and addicted to heroin once that began to wane. Although he has since recovered and found new creative fulfilment, others in the Seattle grunge scene, such as Lanegan's friends Kurt Cobain and Layne Stayley, were not so lucky. Lanegan was the last person to speak to Cobain before his death in 1994.
White Rabbit's Lee Brackstone says: "Two days before I started at White Rabbit, this manuscript arrived, and I acquired it a few days later. It is a monumental book. I can't compare it to any other memoir that has emerged from the music world. It's a story of trauma, suffering, dysfunction, survival - and making great art out of all of that".
"It is staggeringly brave, honest and terrifying", he goes on. "I've no doubt it will become the classic account of the Seattle scene and its aftershocks into the 90s. It's an heroic act to have committed these stories to the page and it shows Lanegan's great courage and integrity that he has gone back and revisited these experiences. It's a book full of horror and degradation, the pain of addiction and the depravity it encourages".
"I think it will be a helpful book for many people because it shows an artist laid bare, all the vulnerabilities and failings", he concludes. "It makes 90% of other music memoirs look like fakes and I learned from publishing [books by] Viv Albertine [at Faber], that readers respond to the bare truth more than anything else".
'Sing Backwards And Weep' is set to be published on 30 Apr.
Chester Bennington's teenage band Grey Daze release new version of 90s single, What's In The Eye
Bennington left Grey Daze in 1998, a year after the release of their second album 'No Sun Today'. In 2017, he announced that the band had reunited and planned to re-record some of their previously released music with a level of production they didn't have the knowledge or finances to achieve back in the 90s. However, a month later he took his own life.
The band have now continued the project, using Bennington's original vocal recordings over the newly reworked songs.
"Over the years we'd become more knowledgeable, more experienced, and had more resources, so we decided to pick a selection of songs from our previously released albums and re-record them the way they deserved to have been treated back in the 90s when we initially wrote and released them", explain the band.
"By February 2017", they add, "we started recording and in June, Chester and Sean [Dowdell, drummer and co-lyricist] announced the reunion, with a live performance planned for that [autumn]. Unfortunately, as we all know, that never happened".
Tom Whalley of Loma Vista Recordings, the label releasing the reworks, adds: "As a teenager, when these recordings were done, [Bennington] had this incredible raw and somewhat undeveloped voice that had an incredible tone. He had this ability to sing great rock melodies punctuated by that unmistakable guttural scream".
"Chester's voice had a personality that made you a believer", he goes on. "Listening to the new versions of these tracks, I think it represents everything that the band members and the family told me that Chester wanted to achieve with re-recording this body of work".
Bennington's son Jamie says of the project: "I had been told that there were no plans to bring in another vocalist to replace my dad on the album, but I didn't understand at the time what that actually meant. It was only when I stepped into the studio that I saw the magic being performed. And by magic, I mean magic".
"Sean Dowdell, [and songwriters] Esjay Jones and Lucas D'Angelo are miracle workers who not only had massive holes to fill in the production of [the] album but had rather limited means of filling them", he continues. "But they did it. They did it with only masters of old Grey Daze recordings and the goodwill of friends and family".
The Hipgnosis Songs Fund has announced that its latest signing is songwriter Ammar Malik. He co-wrote Maroon 5's 'Moves Like Jagger', so I'm not sure why he's receiving this sort of encouragement. "I am THRILLED to be part of the Hipgnosis family and to know that my songs are in amazing hands", he says.
Music marketing agency and creative studio Blackstar London has announced the launch of an LA office led by Matt Cohen, as well as two new hires back in London: campaign strategist Breyner Baptista and social coordinator Holly Glanvill.
A new Spike Jonze-directed Beastie Boys documentary, titled 'Beastie Boys Story', is set to air on Apple TV+ on 24 Apr. It will also be screened in IMAX cinemas on 3 Apr. "I owe Beastie Boys a lot", says Jonze. "One time, they pulled me out of a burning ship, and another time they helped me cheat on my college exam to get into Florida State. So, it was a real privilege to get to reunite with them and help them tell their story".
BTS have released 'Black Swan', the first single from their upcoming new album 'Map Of The Soul: 7'. It comes accompanied by what some would call a music video, but they are calling an "art film". The album's out on 21 Feb.
The 1975 have released new single 'Me & You Together Song'. "I wrote it for that film I started writing, but I haven't done anything about it besides make this", frontman Matty Healy said of the song in an Instagram Live video earlier this week. In the same video, he also confirmed that the band's new album, 'Notes On A Conditional Form', has now had its release date pushed back to 24 Apr.
Eminem has surprise released a new album, titled 'Music To Be Murdered By', this morning. It's already drawing criticism for the track 'Unaccommodating', on which the rapper compares himself to the Manchester Arena suicide bomber.
Louis Tomlinson has released a new single called 'Walls'. "I pretend not to be romantic, but I am", he says. "It really hit home when I was in the studio to hear the strings being recorded. There must have been 25 musicians in there, all for my song. It was a proper tear-jerking moment already and I've never felt a shiver like it". I live in quite a draughty house, so I know what he means.
The Jonas Brothers have released new single 'What A Man Gotta Do'. So that's a thing that's happened.
Tove Lo has released two new tracks - 'Bikini Porn' and 'Passion And Pain Taste The Same When I'm Weak' - co-written and produced by Billie Eilish's brother, Finneas O'Connell.
Bugzy Malone has released new single, 'Cause A Commotion', featuring Skip Marley, through Charlie Sloth's record label Grimey Limey.
The Shires have released new single 'Lightning Strikes'. We can't wait to put 'Lightning Strikes' into our live set", say the duo. "The opening line 'Standing outside, raining in the summer', is going to be perfect for the festival season". Bloody pessimists. Their new album, 'Good Years', is out on 13 Mar. They'll be touring music venues (so less chance of getting wet) in May too.
Freya Ridings has released the video for her most recent single, 'Love Is Fire'. "We open the live set with this song and have done for five years", she says. "Every time I hear that guitar, I feel adrenaline in my system, my heart going, and I know I'm ready to play".
Torres has released new single, 'Dressing America'. Her new album, 'Silver Tongue', is out on 31 Jan.
LA Priest has announced that he will release his second album, 'Gene', on 24 Apr. First single, 'What Moves', is out now. "This song asks 'what moves?' 20 times", he says. "The answer is in the guitar solo!"
Okay Kaya has released new single 'Psych Ward'. The song, she explains, is written from personal experience, saying: "The last few days I was in a hospital a nurse unlocked one of the cabinets and let me use the rec room guitar, to play outside of art therapy class. I wrote what I saw to understand how I felt. It turned into this funny bop, I wanted it to feel like a Ramones song or something". Her new album, 'Watch This Liquid Pour Itself Out', is set for release next week.
Boysetsfire frontman Nathan Gray has released new solo single 'Refrain'. "'Refrain' is such a deeply personal song to me, and it brings up intense emotions every time I hear it", he says. "Although I like to leave my pieces up for everyone to interpret in a way that is meaningful to them, I think many will find that this song resonates when reflecting on life's great cycles - both joyful and sorrowful'. Gray's new solo album, 'Working Title', is out on 31 Jan.
Catholic Action have released the video for their latest single 'People Don't Protest Enough'. Their new album, 'Celebrated By Strangers', is out on 27 Mar.
Sløtface have released new single 'Tap The Pack', ahead of the release of their second album 'Sorry For The Late Reply' on 31 Jan.
Tiña have announced that they will release new single 'Dip' through Speedy Wunderground on 20 Jan.
GIGS & TOURS
Back in the 'if you can still stomach it' file, Morrissey has announced two UK shows in March, ahead of the release of his new album. He'll play the First Direct Arena in Leeds on 6 Mar and Wembley Arena in London on 14 Mar.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
REM hit out at Donald Trump using their music (again)
This has been an ongoing issue during Trump's brief political career of course, with numerous artists complaining about their music being used without permission. The problem being that there's not much you can do about someone playing your music at a public event - provided the venue has the appropriate public performance licences in place.
With the law generally on Trump's side, it becomes more of a moral issue - is Trump willing to get permission from each artist whose music he wants to use ahead of time as a courtesy? Or stop using that music if and when an artist objects?
For the most part, Trump has done neither. A particular issue for him, of course, is that if he agreed not to use any music by artists who don't support him, he wouldn't have a very big pool of tracks left to choose from. Even some artists less on the anti-Trump end of the political spectrum have objected to their music soundtracking his campaign events.
Of the acts who have objected (and who are very much not Trump supporters), REM have been one of the most vocal. Back in 2015, more than a year before Trump became president, the band complained that he'd used their song 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)' at a rally, and requested that he stop doing so.
Last year, the band did successfully get a Trump campaign video on Twitter taken down on copyright grounds, after it used the song 'Everybody Hurts' without permission. But their songs continue to play at Trump rallies - and more so now that Trump is gearing up his re-election campaign.
As a result, the band's guitarist Mike Mills tweeted yesterday: "We are aware that the President Donald Trump continues to use our music at his rallies. We are exploring all legal avenues to prevent this, but if that's not possible please know that we do not condone the use of our music by this fraud and con man".
Given that the band - and others - have been exploring those legal avenues for at least five years now, I wouldn't hold your breath that Trump is going to stop using their songs any time soon. Unless, of course, he loses the election and quits politics.