|TUESDAY 24 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: As artist and music communities everywhere continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis - and the virtual shutdown of the live entertainment industry - CISAC, which brings together songwriter and other collecting societies from across the world, has put out a global call to governments to help creators survive the months ahead... [READ MORE]|
CISAC calls for global government support for the creative community during the COVID-19 crisis
Many people in the music industry were immediately hit when venues started to close and festivals cancel as measures were put in place to restrict and delay the spread of the coronavirus in an increasing number of countries.
A significant portion of the artist and music community rely heavily on live activity to make a living from music. Meanwhile, other strands of the business are now also being affected, including retail, physical distribution, studio work and music teaching.
On top of that, a substantial number of people in the music industry are freelance and self-employed, which creates extra challenges. In the UK, of course, most of the government measures announced so far to help people deal with the COVID-19 crisis have been focused on businesses and those in formal employment. Although it is hoped that extra measures to specifically support freelancers are now incoming.
Nevertheless, significant challenges remain for the music and wider creative community on a global basis. In an open letter, the President and VPs of CISAC wrote yesterday: "The coronavirus crisis is posing an unprecedented threat, on a global scale, to a generation of people who make a living and a profession as creators".
The letter, they went on, was a "call for action by governments on a global scale to help
"Creators of music, audio-visual works, visual arts, drama and literature are the backbone of national cultures and of economies", it continued. "Even now, it is their creative works which are everywhere helping and connecting millions of people who are having to endure a life of quarantine. But creators are in a uniquely fragile position".
"The large majority of them are self-employed and dependent on royalties paid by authors societies. Today, and in the coming weeks and months, creators will be among the worst affected by the crisis".
"Authors societies are doing their best, maintaining royalty distributions and using emergency social funds where possible. However, CISAC members from across the world, are reporting a collapse of cultural and entertainment activity, affecting concerts, festivals, exhibitions and all the main platforms where creative works are used".
"Creators are by nature self-motivated entrepreneurs and will be an enormously positive force in helping drive the economic recovery in the future. But they urgently need rescue measures now, and only the lever of government policy will have the impact required".
Some governments have put in place measures to support freelancers in general and/or the creative community in particular. As the CISAC letter notes. "Several governments", it says, "such as France, have acted, for example with emergency funding for creative sectors; others such as Argentina, Chile and Peru, have already identified protection for the creators (for example via tax and social security concessions and emergency payments) as a priority".
Such an approach is needed everywhere, the letter continues: "It is imperative that governments in all countries act for creators now and ensure the highest level of support possible. We thank you for your support and for understanding the vital importance of creators in the future of our culture and society".
Beyond government schemes, numerous music industry organisations around the world are now offering support of various kinds to those most affected in the music community by the COVID-19 crisis. In some cases that includes financial support. The biggest initiative of that kind to date was announced yesterday by German collecting society GEMA which has set aside 40 million euros for an emergency relief fund.
In the UK the Musicians Union has already announced a £1 million fund for MU members facing "genuine and pressing hardship", while in the US MusiCares - the charitable foundation of the Recording Academy - has set up a $2 million fund to support those in the music community in the greatest need.
Meanwhile online, of course, there have been numerous events and initiatives seeking to raise money to support both artists and other grassroots music organisations.
Last week Bandcamp helped put the spotlight on the role each artist's direct-to-fan channels can play at this time by announcing it wouldn't charge its commission on any sales that took place last Friday. That helped motivate a flurry of fan purchases. The D2F company says that on a typical Friday fans buy about 47,000 items on its platform, whereas last Friday nearly 800,000 things were bought, generating $4.3 million in sales.
It remains to be seen quite how long the strict measures to combat COVID-19 are in place and how many weeks or months it will be before the music industry can seek to return to normality. But the longer it lasts, the more important substantial government support will become to ensure the music and wider creative industries can survive the crisis and rebuild and resurge once it is over.
The Great Escape cancels 2020 edition as COVID-19 measures escalate
It's the latest in a long line of festivals and conferences to cancel or postpone as strict measures are put in place in numerous countries to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19. The cancellation of TGE 2020 came just hours before the UK government ramped up and legally enforced its COVID-19 measures.
In a statement, TGE said: "We are very sorry to have to say that The Great Escape 2020 will no longer be taking place. We've not taken this decision lightly. Taking into account that we are only a few weeks out from the event, and the current status of things, this was the best decision for fans, artists, staff and the community".
It added: "The entire TGE family is so disappointed to have to make this decision and we extend our apologies to everyone who was looking forward to it as much as us".
Dates have already been set for the 2021 edition of the festival and conference - 12-15 May - with plans to celebrate the event's fifteenth anniversary pushed back to then.
The official statement continued: "We are working closely with our ticketing partners at the moment and they will be in touch very soon to process your refund, or, if you prefer, you can retain your ticket and carry it over to next year. If you purchased your ticket from a physical outlet, please visit that store to obtain your refund".
Lizzo fires back against "opportunistic and legally bankrupt" claims of her former collaborators in Truth Hurts copyright dispute
Legal papers from those collaborators, she reckons, "make abundantly clear what Lizzo has maintained from the start: neither Justin Raisen nor Jeremiah Raisen nor Yves Rothman had any involvement in the creation of 'Truth Hurts'. In this circumstance, black letter law is clear that defendants cannot co-own, or seek unjustified credit as co-authors of, 'Truth Hurts' - a work they did not create".
What isn't disputed is that, in early 2017, Lizzo - real name Melissa Jefferson - spent some time in the studio owned by the Raisen brothers - Justin and Jeremiah - alongside some other music-makers, including Justin 'Yves' Rothman. Among other things, they collaborated on a demo track called 'Healthy' which included the line "I did a DNA test, turns out I'm 100% that bitch". That line was then later also used in 'Truth Hurts'.
The Raisens argue that that key lyric - and the way Jefferson sings it - was the result of a joint effort in the studio that day. And because the lyric was then shifted into 'Truth Hurts', they reckon that means they and Rothman co-authored a crucial element of Jeffersen's subsequent hit. Or, alternatively, that 'Truth Hurts' is a derivative work of 'Healthy', which means Jeffersen should have agreed a deal with her co-writers on the latter before releasing the former, which would likely have included a royalty share.
It was Jefferson who went legal first after the Raisens posted a statement about their 'Truth Hurts' dispute online. She insists that - although the '100% that bitch' line was conceived in the Raisens' studio - neither they nor Rothman were involved in its creation. She also argues that the Raisens previously agreed they had no claim over the 'Truth Hurts' copyright, and that they only changed their tune once it became a late-in-the-day hit as a result of her rising fame, and some TikTok and Netflix support.
The Raisens then filed legal papers last month presenting a very different version of events. They explained why the '100% that bitch' lyric was definitely a team effort. And, they insisted, they'd never conceded that they had no copyright claim over 'Truth Hurts'. Among other things, they included text messages sent by close Jefferson collaborator Ricky Reed the day 'Truth Hurts' topped the Billboard Hot 100 last year, in which he encouraged Justin Raisen to continue seeking a resolution regarding ownership of the hit.
In her new legal filing, Jefferson again argues that the Raisens had no involvement in the creation of the '100% that bitch' lyric. And, with that in mind, she argues that - even if the producers do have a claim to co-ownership of 'Healthy' (which she disputes too) - there is no logical or legal reason why that means they have a stake in 'Truth Hurts'.
Her new legal filing states: "['Healthy'] contains a lyrical line - 'I just took a DNA test, I'm 100% that bitch' - that these defendants admittedly did not write, and which Lizzo chose to sing in a melody which these defendants do not claim to have created. Defendants nevertheless claim to co-own and to have co-authored 'Truth Hurts' because Lizzo also chose to sing that line, in that melody, in her song 'Truth Hurts' too".
"Defendants are wrong that they can co-own 'Truth Hurts' because  defendants allegedly co-own the unreleased demo and  'Truth Hurts' contains the same DNA test line and melody as contained in that unreleased work", the filing goes on. Citing past precedent in the Ninth Circuit appeals court, it adds "a party's alleged joint authorship of a first work does not make that party a joint author of a second work that uses material from the first".
As for the dispute over whether or not the Raisens had previously waived any claim to the 'Truth Hurts' copyright, the new legal papers state that the producers, "acting through their sophisticated music representatives, expressly withdrew their claims in multiple writings. Defendants have literally nothing to say about this overwhelming written evidence except for a puzzling denial of knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief regarding this clear conduct".
Jefferson takes issue with many other allegations made in the Raisens' legal filing, including - as noted - the ownership status of 'Healthy'. However, she says that she will "address and put to bed these other issues at the appropriate stage of this case". But her former collaborators' biggest claim - to co-ownership of 'Truth Hurts' - "is ripe for dismissal now".
We await to see if the Raisens respond in a similarly bombastic fashion.
Spotify cuts off third party DJ software, but welcomes podcast app developers
In a statement on its website, Algoriddim - maker of leading DJ software djay, which also allows people to mix with music pulled from streaming services - says that Spotify is cutting it and other similar apps off later this summer.
"Back in 2014, we introduced streaming integration to the djay community, a feature that has had a profound impact on DJing as a whole", the company writes. "Today, streaming has become an integral part of almost every DJ product with new streaming service providers innovating in the space for aspiring and professional DJs alike. As far as Spotify in djay is concerned, it's been a great journey, but soon it will be time to say farewell".
It continues: "As of 1 Jul 2020 Spotify will no longer be playable through third party DJ apps. You'll still be able to use Spotify in djay until the end of June 2020. In the meantime, we've introduced new streaming services that will enable you to continue mixing all of the great music you love, plus give you extended access to new content and features".
The company is also offering the ability to migrate existing mixes that use Spotify to SoundCloud or Tidal. So if you were planning to perfect your DJing skills on lockdown and then launch a new career for yourself when the clubs re-open, you still have options. But you should probably buy some downloads too.
It's not entirely clear why Spotify is pulling its support for DJ apps - the streaming firm is staying tight lipped on the subject. It may be due to licensing issues - technically if you actually DJed using Spotify in public, the terms and conditions of a personal Spotify account would not cover that. Although you'd think it would have taken less than six years to realise that. And it doesn't explain why SoundCloud and Tidal are seemingly allowing it.
Spotify has also experimented with auto-mixing some playlists in the past too, so it may have its own product in the works.
Maybe also Spotify wants more bandwidth for podcasts. I don't know if you've heard, but podcasts are the thing right now. So, while DJ apps are being cut off, podcast apps are very much being cut in. Spotify has announced the launch of a new API for developers to build podcast apps on top of Spotify's library. Because licensing and royalties are things mostly missing from the podcast world, so why not exploit it?
"The new podcast API will function in similar ways to our music-related APIs by empowering developers to build unique experiences for listeners that leverages all of the public - and in this case podcast-related - data on Spotify", says the company in a blog post. "That means access to show and episode titles, description, and art. It will also allow developers to programmatically search Spotify's catalogue of over 700,000 podcasts and fetch information about shows and episodes".
TL;DR - DJs, boo! Podcasts, yay!
Dua Lipa brings album release forward following leak
In an emotional message to fans on Instagram Live, the musician admitted that she was in two minds about the decision, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, saying: "I've been a little bit conflicted about whether it's the right thing to do during this time because lots of people are suffering. I'm not sure if I'm even doing the right thing, but I think the thing we need the most at the moment is music, and we need joy and we need to be trying to see the light".
Discussing the album and the development of her sound on it, she said: "I had a lot more confidence because I'd done it before, I wasn't afraid to just go in and experiment and try new things".
She went on: "I was doing a radio show in Las Vegas and I went for a walk, just to clear my mind. While I was walking, I was listening to OutKast and No Doubt and I was like, 'What is it about these records that I still love and relate to so much? Why do I feel like they haven't aged? And how could I incorporate that nostalgic feeling of all my favourite childhood memories and inspirations into something new and modern?"
While bringing the album forward, she also announced that she is rescheduling tour dates to promote the album. Originally set to take place in May and June, UK shows have now been pushed back to January 2021.
Rina Sawayama releases chords and lyrics for as-yet-unheard new single
"I wanted to offer my fans the chance to get creative and come up with their own melody to 'Chosen Family' while we're self-isolating", she says. "When I wrote 'Chosen Family', I wrote it thinking of it as a gift to my own chosen family, a way to understand and take on some of the pain that they were going through. So I hope this distracts you from this anxiety-filled time, and that by being creative we can stay connected, alone and together".
Explaining the song further, she goes on: "'Chosen Family' is a very special song for me. The concept of a chosen family is, to me, a queer one - people are often kicked out of their homes or ostracised by their family, friends, and community after coming out. This can be an incredibly painful experience that can be remedied by finding a new 'chosen' family".
"The chorus lyrics 'We don't need to be related to relate, we don't need to share genes or a surname' is an invitation for anyone that feels that sense of otherness to find their chosen family, where they can truly be themselves and feel loved", she continues. "I dedicate this song to my queer friends who I now consider family - it's essentially a big thank you to them, as I love them so much and I genuinely don't think I would be alive right now if it weren't for them".
Fans are invited to submit their versions of the song in video or audio formats. She will share some of her favourites in a video on her YouTube channel. And then she'll release her version of the song on 3 Apr. The same day she will also post a video tutorial showing how to play the song as she intended, so that's another thing to occupy you while you ponder when to take your daily trip outside.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
There's a whole lot of livestreaming going on as artists and music companies experiment during lockdown. Now the Colors YouTube channel has announced that it will be running its livestream 24 hours a day for 30 days, providing a platform for artists to reach fans able to donate money as they tune in to see the live streams. "The current situation forces everyone of us to re-think, adapt and #stayhome", says the company. Tune in here.
Originally set for release this Friday, Sufjan Stevens has released his new album with his stepfather Lowell Brams, 'Aporia', a few days early. "Since things are uncertain for record stores right now, we've decided to release 'Aporia' today", they say. "Physical copies are for sale today in record stores that remain open (or as soon as they receive stock)".
Enter Shikari have released new single 'TINA'.
Mark Lanegan has released new single 'Bleed All Over'. His new album, 'Straight Songs Of Sorrow', is out on 8 May, preceded at the end of April by his memoir, 'Sing Backwards And Weep'.
Car Seat Headrest have released new single 'Martin'. New album, 'Making A Door Less Open', is out on 1 May.
Blake Mills has released new single 'Vanishing Twin'. His new album, 'Mutable Set', is out on 8 May.
Roo Panes has released new single 'Colour In Your Heart'. His new EP, 'Pacific', will be released on 22 May.
Ashnikko has released the video for her recent single 'Tantrum'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Taylor Swift and Kanye West feud blows up again
So, back in 2016, Kanye West released his famous song 'Famous', in which he raps, "For all my Southside niggas that know me best/I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous". Upon release, Swift objected, saying that she hadn't been consulted beforehand. She later admitted that West had run the "sex" line, but said that she hadn't been told that she would be referred to as a bitch.
Coming to her husband's defence, Kim Kardashian then released clips of a video shot in the studio while West was recording his 'The Life Of Pablo' album - on which 'Famous' appeared - apparently showing that Swift was consulted on the full lyric and that she gave him consent to use it. Cue a big old fight in which everyone in the known universe took sides, firmly believing one or the other to be a dickhead. Obviously, West was used to lots of people thinking he's a dickhead, but Swift found the resulting backlash harder to deal with.
Anyway, last week the full 25 minute video of that phone conversation leaked, apparently vindicating Swift. It shows that, while West did run part of the lyric past her, he did not mention the latter bit that she subsequently took issue with. In fact, after she hears the initial line and agrees that it's funny, she says that her concern before she heard it was that he was going to call her a bitch.
As well as this, she and West discuss alternative versions of the "sex" lyric - the initial version being more misogynist - and Swift expresses reticence at West's request for her to launch the song by tweeting it, because she feels it may be used against her.
She explains to West that she feels that she's on the verge of overexposure and that people are looking for a reason to take her down. Fears that subsequent events proved were all founded. The video also shows them both to be fairly self-absorbed and obsessed with numbers, but let's just focus on this lyric thing. After all, that's why we've gathered here today.
Swift initially said nothing about this new video when it first leaked, although she 'liked' a few Tumblr posts siding with her on it. Then yesterday she issued a statement via her Instagram story which she tried to mask as a non-statement.
She wrote: "Instead of answering those who are asking how I feel about the video footage that leaked, proving that I was telling the truth the whole time about *that call* (you know, the one that was illegally recorded, that somebody edited and manipulated in order to frame me and put me, my family, and fans through hell for four years)... swipe up to see what really matters".
Swiping up on the post takes you to the donation page for the Feeding America charity, which runs a network of food banks in the US.
"The World Health Organisation and Feeding America are some of the organisations I've been donating to. If you have the ability to, please join me in donating during this crisis", she added on a second post, linking to the WHO's COVID-19 Response Fund.
Now, I believe I said this article wasn't going to be about COVID-19. Nice try, Taylor, trying to get us the conclude this story on a coronavirus angle. Luckily, Kim Kardashian knows what's important. In a string of tweets last night she responded to Swift's statement/non-statement, saying: "Taylor Swift has chosen to reignite an old exchange - that at this point in time feels very self-serving given the suffering millions of real victims are facing right now".
Oh for fuck's sake, will everyone stop talking about this public health crisis for a moment and focus? Oh, hang on, there's more: "I didn't feel the need to comment a few days ago, and I'm actually really embarrassed and mortified to be doing it right now, but because she continues to speak on it, I feel I'm left without a choice but to respond because she is actually lying".
What's the lie specifically? That Kardashian ever claimed the 'bitch' line had been cleared by Swift, that's what. "To be clear", she went on, "the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that 'Kanye never called to ask for permission'. They clearly spoke so I let you all see that [through the release of the original snippets of the call]. Nobody ever denied the word 'bitch' was used without her permission".
And more still: "At the time when they spoke the song had not been fully written yet, but as everyone can see in the video, she manipulated the truth of their actual conversation in her statement when her team said she 'declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message'".
Continuing her 'reluctant' response, Kardashian says: "The lie was never about the word bitch. It was always whether there was a call or not and the tone of the conversation".
"I never edited the footage (another lie)", she adds, assuming the "somebody" referenced in Swift's post is meant to be her. "I only posted a few clips on Snapchat to make my point and the full video that recently leaked doesn't change the narrative".
And as for the claim that the video was illegally recorded, she continues: "Kanye as an artist has every right to document his musical journey and process, just like she recently did through her documentary".
Though, we should add, for any artists out there documenting their own musical journeys, please do note you should always get permission from all callers before recording phone calls (certainly if you ever intend to release them).
But anyway, she must be finished now. No? Oh, OK: "Kanye has documented the making of all of his albums for his personal archive, however has never released any of it for public consumption and the call between the two of them would have remained private or would have gone in the trash had she not lied and forced me to defend him".
"This will be the last time I speak on this because honestly, nobody cares", she concludes, apparently having forgotten that she'd just rapidly fired off eight other tweets about it, which is almost certainly something only someone who cares would do. "Sorry to bore you all with this. I know you are all dealing with more serious and important matters".
Well, there you go. There are actually still some questions to be answered about all this. Possibly. Or maybe Kim and Taylor are both right that it doesn't matter and everyone should shut up. Whatever, at least we got through this key bit of music news without anyone dwelling on the bigger crisis currently facing us all. Anyone who says they saw it mentioned is a liar. And I have tapes to prove it.