|THURSDAY 2 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Recording Industry Association Of America has hit back at mixtape sharing platform Spinrilla, which has sued the record industry trade group over allegations it's been issuing flawed takedown requests. The RIAA says Spinrilla's lawsuit is a bid to distract attention from its own copyright law violations, and that the litigation should be dismissed because the mixtape platform has failed to allege the "bare minimum facts necessary" to make a claim... [READ MORE]|
RIAA hits back at Spinrilla's "obvious and baseless" distraction tactic lawsuit
The RIAA sued Spinrilla for copyright infringement on behalf of the major labels three years ago. At the time the trade group said that the mixtape sharing service "specialises in ripping off music creators by offering thousands of unlicensed sound recordings for free".
Spinrilla countered that it had previously had a good relationship with the labels and always fulfilled its obligations under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove infringing material from its platform, meaning it had safe harbour protection.
That lawsuit continues to go through the motions. But more recently Spinrilla sued the RIAA, arguing that the labels had not been fulfilling their obligations under the DMCA when sending takedown notices demanding the removal of allegedly infringing content.
The RIAA's system for issuing takedowns was flawed, Spinrilla said, meaning that it had received "unfounded takedown notices" that "materially misrepresent that audio files uploaded by certain Spinrilla users infringe sound recordings owned by RIAA's members".
Such unfounded takedown notices caused unnecessary work for and damage to the reputation of Spinrilla, the lawsuit claimed. And because such material misrepresentations breach the labels' obligations under the DMCA regarding takedowns, they should pay the mixtape platform some lovely damages.
But not so says the RIAA in its legal response this week, which seeks to have Spinrilla's case dismissed or - if that's not possible - a summary judgement in its favour.
"Although RIAA has sent Spinrilla dozens of notices asking Spinrilla to take down over a thousand infringing files, this entire lawsuit is based on the inclusion in a takedown notice (that addressed multiple works) of a single audio file", the RIAA states in its legal filing.
"Spinrilla alleges that RIAA knowingly misrepresented that this single audio file was infringing", it goes on. "But the allegation about RIAA's knowledge is insufficient to state a claim because it is based on nothing more than pure conjecture and does not satisfy the well-established pleading standards".
"More fundamentally", it then says, "even taking all of Spinrilla's allegations as true and giving Spinrilla the benefit of all reasonable inferences, the complaint fails to state a claim because it does not allege that Spinrilla ever removed or disabled the sole audio file it identifies, or that Spinrilla suffered injury as a result of removing or disabling access to the file".
The RIAA then links the new lawsuit to the existing legal battle between it and Spinrilla. "As this court is well aware, Spinrilla is a defendant in an ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit brought by several of RIAA's member record companies", it adds.
Moreover, it claims, at a court hearing on that litigation last June "the court advised Spinrilla's founder that it had 'real concerns ... about [defendants'] potential liability' and, further, that their safe harbour defence under the DMCA 'is probably not going to stand'".
So, the labels allege, "Spinrilla's new lawsuit is an obvious and baseless attempt to draw the court's attention away from the views expressed by the court at that hearing and from the pending motions for summary judgment in the original case, which demonstrate Spinrilla's persistent and flagrant pattern of facilitating and encouraging massive copyright infringement".
"But", the RIAA's legal filing insists, "Spinrilla's frivolous claim about a single audio file in this new lawsuit should have no bearing on the evidentiary record or the outcome of the record companies' case against Spinrilla".
Given Spinrilla failed to allege the "bare minimum facts necessary" to make a claim, the RIAA reckons the new lawsuit should be dismissed.
However, if that's not possible, the trade group then provides various arguments as to why its takedown system is DMCA compliant and, therefore, if the court isn't willing to dismiss Spinrilla's lawsuit, it should issue a summary judgment in the labels' favour.
We now await the judge's response.
Jason Mraz signs to BMG
"I'm making music that feels new to me and therefore sought to find a label partner that would work in new ways to support my new dreams", says Mraz. "I already love what this new partnership with BMG is doing and the new direction we are going. Together, we plan to bring positive vibes to these extraordinary times".
BMG's Thomas Scherer adds: "Jason Mraz is the epitome of positivity and we believe in him and his music. Not only is he a global superstar, but an extraordinary person and we are proud to deliver his music and spread his uplifting message to eager fans around the world. We are honoured he has chosen to call BMG his home and our team is ready to support him in all his creative endeavours".
The title track from 'Look For The Good' will be released on 17 Apr.
Night-time businesses team up with landlords to call for additional government measures to save venues, clubs, bars and restaurants
It's part of a moves to mitigate the financial strain on live entertainment and hospitality businesses that are currently closed as a result of measures to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19. Reducing rent commitments to landlords is a big part of that but, the NTIA recognises, many landlords have their own financial commitments that need to be acknowledged.
To that end, the trade group is calling on government to instigate new measures to help everyone in the supply chain that will, ultimately, ensure the survival of night-time businesses currently facing a "life or death situation". Dubbed the 'big freeze', the NTIA's proposal is that "all financial commitments to banks in terms of mortgages, loans and financial agreements be frozen, without effect on any current covenants or balances in terms of interest".
Those commitments would, of course, be reinstated once the crisis period ends but, "during this period no debt will be accrued". The NTIA goes on: "It is important to recognise that the financial position of each business will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and will be supported through this system accordingly, ensuring that the correct levels of support will be given to businesses which are at risk".
This scheme, it says, "will give landlords the financial freedom to allow tenants to get back to business after a period of economic hibernation, ensuring that many of the UK's essential businesses that constitute a large proportion of British GDP will survive this crisis".
Commenting on his organisation's collaboration with landlords on this call to government, NTIA CEO Mike Kill says: "It is fantastic news that so many landlords from across the UK have joined with us at this very difficult time. We are, of course, all in this together which is why the NTIA and many British landlords are asking the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to adopt the 'big freeze' urgently".
"While the government has come an enormous distance at the very difficult time", he added, "we run the risk of losing a huge amount of our businesses who cannot afford and often do not qualify for further debt in addition to their losses due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Landlords and tenants are all businesses that UK PLC relies upon. This is now urgent".
Lending his support to the NTIA's proposal, the MD of London property owner Soho Estates, John James, added: "As one of London's largest landlords in an area of high concentration, we at Soho Estates have been around long enough to have seen several recessions. This is different. We know that, for many tenants, things are enormously difficult currently. That is why we are supporting the 'big freeze'".
"As landlords, we are a keen stakeholder and part of the community", he went on. "We know that we must avoid a situation of empty high streets at all costs. We as landlords also have financial commitments as do our tenants. The 'big freeze' is a smart solution for all".
Spotify renews global licensing deal with Warner
Deals between Spotify and its music industry partners - ie labels, distributors, publishers and collecting societies - come up for renewal every few years. And while the basic structure of those deals pretty much remains the same, there are always some key sticking points each time new negotiations occur, not least because Spotify's business model was always partly based on securing more favourable deals as it started to dominate the streaming market.
In recent years the push by the songs side of the business to increase its revenue share - and the resulting push back by Spotify to reduce the percentage of revenues allocated to the recordings side - was a key feature of these negotiations. Current discussions include Spotify's increased focus on podcasts and what that means for things like per subscriber minimum guarantees. Some labels also remain concerned that the average revenue per user continues to decline and about the growth of the streaming firm's artist services business.
Spotify and Warner had a falling out last year, of course, over the streaming platform's launch in the Indian market. The mini-major wasn't on board for Spotify's launch in India, which meant the digital service didn't have the rights to stream Warner's recordings or Anglo-American songs catalogue in the country. The latter posed significant logistical challenges that saw Spotify decide that it could continue to exploit those songs under a compulsory licence in Indian copyright law, resulting in legal action from the major.
It was widely believed that the spat over Spotify's launch in India was actually linked to wider discussions over the renewal of Warner's global deal with the streaming firm. But that spat is at an end. An Indian deal with the Warner/Chappell songs business was announced in January and the new global deal covers India on the recordings side too.
Confirming the new deal had now been agreed, the two companies said in a statement yesterday: "Spotify and Warner Music Group are pleased to announce a renewed global licensing partnership. This expanded deal covers countries where Spotify is available today, as well as additional markets. The two companies look forward to collaborating on impactful global initiatives for Warner artists and songwriters, and working together to grow the music industry over the long term".
XS Manchester won't be replaced by Capital Xtra following OfCom ruling
The UK division of Communicorp controls a number of FM frequencies around the country, all but one of which pump out radio stations actually operated by rival media company Global, ie Capital, Heart and Smooth. Most of the programming on those frequencies comes from Global's HQ, with Communicorp providing any local programmes and overseeing advertising sales.
The one exception to that is rock station XS Manchester, which Communicorp entirely operates. But late last year the media firm asked OfCom for permission to change the 'character of service' provisions attached to the FM licence utilised by XS Manchester.
The proposed change was from a "a rock and speech service for 35-64 year olds, with a strong commitment to local news, current affairs and interactive debate" to "an urban contemporary music service featuring music of an Afro-Caribbean origin". That was basically part of a plan to shut down XS Manchester entirely and broadcast Global's Capital Xtra on its FM frequency.
Given that's a significant change, OfCom put the matter out to public consultation, with more than 70 parties responding, all but two opposing Communicorp's proposal. Among other things, opponents pointed out that Capital Xtra was already available in Greater Manchester via the national DAB network, as was the BBC's 1Xtra which has a similar musical remit.
Others said that Communicorp's argument that Global's Radio X - on FM in Manchester - replicated what XS Manchester does was untrue, not least because Radio X is London-centric and XS is very much a Manchester-based service. And some argued that the speech programming requirements in the XS licence gave the station a "Mancunian" flavour not found on any other commercial radio stations in the region.
Having considered all those submissions, OfCom has decided to decline Communicorp's request. It said in a statement on Tuesday: "Following [the] consultation, Ofcom has decided not to approve the changes to the 'character of service' proposed by [Communicorp]. It means that the 'character of service' contained in the existing published format for this licence will remain unchanged".
Following that OfCom decision, Communicorp has indicated to Radio Today that it now intends to keep operating the XS Manchester service as normal.
While the character of service requirements have not changed, OfCom has agreed to reduce the number of hours of locally-made programming required to be aired by the station each day. That request, it said, was in line with its own existing rules and therefore wasn't part of the public consultation. Though - XS not being part of a national network - it might be hard for Communicorp to find non-locally made shows to fill its airtime anyway.
Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger dies
On Tuesday, Schlesinger's attorney Josh Grier said that the musician had been in hospital for a week and was "very sick and heavily sedated".
His death was confirmed by Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba, who tweeted: "I am grasping for the right words. My dear friend Adam Schlesinger has passed away from COVID-19 ... I knew him best as a mentor, and a friend. We must take this seriously. People are sick and dying. It is hard to stay locked indoors but lives will be saved. Take care of each other".
Fountains Of Wayne released five albums between 1996 and 2011, but are best known for their 2003 single 'Stacy's Mom'. By that point, Schlesinger was already an Oscar-nominated composer, having been in contention for a Best Original Song prize for the title track to 1997 Tom Hanks movie 'That Thing You Do'.
He composed music for many TV shows, including 'Sesame Street', and last year won an Emmy award for his work on US musical sitcom 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'. He also co-wrote stage musical 'The Bedwetter' with Sarah Silverman - based on her book of the same name - which was due to open in New York this summer.
COVID-19 SUPPORT INTIATIVES
Sony Corporation - owner of Sony Music and Sony/ATV, of course - has launched a $100 million COVID-19 relief fund. It will seek to support three groups of people: frontline medical staff; children and educators who have had to shift over to home-based learning; and those in the creative community - including people working in music, film and TV - who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown.
An assortment of US-based music industry organisations - including ARA, A2IM, MAC, NMPA, NSAI, RIAA and SONA - have come together to launch a website containing guidance and resources for those in the American music community negativity impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown. It principally aims to help music people navigate the various government support schemes set up by the CARES Act passed in US Congress last week. You can access it at MusicCovidRelief.com.
What is now known as the Blue Raincoat Chrysalis Group has appointed John Leahy to the role of SVP Marketing And Strategy. Leahy previously worked in marketing roles at EMI, Domino and Polydor, and has spent the last decade providing marketing consultancy, including to Ignition Records. He will work across Blue Raincoat Chrysalis's management, publishing and label businesses.
Marathon Music Group has announced the appointment of Ophelia Conheady as Head Of A&R for its main label imprint Marathon Artists. She was previously Senior A&R Manager at Sony's Columbia Records. "Ophelia's creative vision, acuity for current and future trends and understanding of the artist development process has revealed her to be a forward-thinking musical innovator", says Marathon Music Group CEO Paul-Rene Albertini.
PSNEurope - the trade magazine for the pro audio and sound industries - announced earlier this week that it would cease publishing, stating that "the economic climate brought on by the global pandemic has exacerbated already challenging operating conditions for the PSNEurope brand, and indeed its ability to continue trading". The move doesn't affect its American sister title Pro Sound News.
Fiona Apple's new album, 'Fetch The Bold Cutters', will be released on 17 Apr, she announced in a video yesterday.
Troye Sivan has released new single 'Take Yourself Home'. The track, he says, "is one of my favourite songs I've ever written. I write these songs as a diary entry, then as life and places change and relationships change, songs can take on a new meaning entirely. Clearly that has happened for this song with what is going on in the world right now".
Grimes has released an incomplete video for 'You'll Miss Me When I'm Not Around'. She's also released the raw files from the video shoot so that you can make your own finished version. "Because we're all in lockdown we thought if people are bored and wanna learn new things, we could release the raw components of one of these for anyone who wants to try making stuff using our footage", she says. Check out the description on YouTube for full details.
Born Ruffians have released new single 'Breathe'. The song, says frontman Luke Lalonde, "is about our relationship with our own memories - [specifically] focused on the uninvited memories that impose themselves on us at random times". The band's new album, 'Juice', is out this Friday.
Biig Piig has released new single 'Switch'. The song, she says, is "about the tension, helplessness and pressure that the world is under right now. The beat and lyrics to me represents the fast pace of how the world is falling apart, and the anxious undertone of it all".
Ben Lukas Boysen has released new single 'Clarion'. "This song started as a simple piano line and while listening to it on loop over and over again some of the elements started to form one after the other, and depending on each other", he says. His new album, 'Mirage', is out on 1 May through Erased Tapes.
Falle Nioke and Ghost Culture have announced that they will release collaborative EP 'Youkounkoun' through PRAH Recordings on 10 Jul. From it, this is 'Barké'.
Eckoes has released the video for new single 'The Light'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Flavor Flav says Public Enemy hoax is a hoax
As mentioned above, this all began in late February when Flavor Flav sent a cease-and-desist letter to Public Enemy Radio - the Flavor-less line up of the group, which has been performing for a number of years. He claimed that, by performing at a Bernie Sanders benefit show, his Public Enemy bandmates were suggesting that he also supported the US presidential hopeful.
Then, a week later, he claimed to have been fired from the main Public Enemy outfit due to his political beliefs, while the group said that he'd been ditched because "he always chose to party over work".
Skip forward to this week, and on 1 Apr the debut album by Enemy Radio was released - which includes a track listed as "featuring Public Enemy", because Flav is on it, meaning the full line up of Public Enemy is on the Enemy Radio track. No, I can't make this any less confusing. This is what happened.
In a statement, Chuck D said that he and Flavor Flav were marking "April 'FlavChuck' Day" by bringing the "hoax" to an end with the release of this new track. Flav's appearance on the Enemy Radio recording confirmed that they were all still friends, and all talk of Flav being sacked was just an elaborate ruse to help promote the new record. So that's that sorted.
Except, Flav now claims not to be aware of any such ruse. In fact, he thinks that playing April Fool's pranks during a public health crisis is in poor taste.
"I am not a part of your hoax", he wrote in a tweet to Chuck D. "There are more serious things in the world right now than April Fool's jokes and dropping records. The world needs better than this. You say we are leaders so act like one".
Chuck D has not responded directly to Flavor Flav, but has nevertheless reacted negatively to his "hoax" being called a "joke". Responding to Consequence Of Sound - which did just that in its headline to a story on all this - he said in a tweet: "Joke is bad word for it. Lesson in a teachable moment [would be better]. April Rules Day, I'm not fkn laughing. Make a better headline".
To be fair to Consequence Of Sound, it's hard to come up with a better headline when I'm not sure anyone really knows what's going on here. In an interview, Chuck D previously said that his maybe hoax was inspired by Orson Welles' 1938 'The War Of The Worlds' radio broadcast. That had people running into the street in fear because they believed news-style reports of an alien invasion were true. If that was the intended effect, it has not worked.
Flavor Flav is not the only person to suggest that now is not the time for April Fool's pranks, though. This year, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, they were thin on the ground.
A blessing, given that when such pranks occur online, as they now often do, they live long beyond the twelve hour window when they're supposed to exist, thus confusing people. Plus, when you live in a world already flooded with 'fake news', having a half-day to celebrate such things probably isn't so funny.
But there was still some online April Fools nonsense yesterday. Some of the pranksters - like Chuck D - might argue that they were seeking to distract people from all the COVID-19 stress. But at least one pop star April Fools instigator cannot use that excuse.
K-pop star Kim Jaejoong was forced to apologise after telling fans that he had been hospitalised with COVID-19 due to "ignoring" government warnings and "living carelessly". He hadn't. It was an April Fools prank. Jaejoong later claimed that this had been a serious attempt to raise awareness of the dangers of the virus, but fans did not take kindly to the 'joke'.