|FRIDAY 3 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A plethora of organisations representing all strands of the wider music industry have called on governments across Europe - and the institutions of the European Union - to significantly increase their support for the music community to ensure that music-makers and their business partners can survive the crisis caused by the COVID-19 shutdown. And that support needs to be substantial and long-term, they say, because the impact of the crisis is going to be felt long after measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19 are lifted... [READ MORE]|
Music organisations call for significant and long-term support from European governments for an industry in crisis
Those calls come in an open letter signed by pan-European organisations representing artists, songwriters, musicians, composers, record producers, orchestras, choirs, record labels, music publishers, collecting societies, music managers, venues, festivals, promoters, music educators and streaming services.
The letter notes that "music is one of the first sectors hit by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. It will also be one of the last. As borders close, venues as well as festivals suspend their activities, performances are cancelled, group activity is stopped, shops close, and new releases are put on hold, the entire creative value chain is stalling".
"Artists and their management, performers, composers, songwriters, music educators, conductors, booking agents, record shops, labels, publishers, distributors, promoters, manufacturers, technicians, events managers and event staff count among the many actors of the ecosystem whose livelihoods are on the line".
Stressing that this crisis will have an impact long beyond the actual COVID-19 shutdown, even once the live industry swings back into action, the letter continues: "These risks will persist, even after the public health emergency is solved. The stark reality is that profound harm will be felt long into 2021 due to how the music ecosystem operates".
The letter later explains that "the full magnitude of the current turmoil will build for months and the number of casualties will be high. Even when the complete standstill ends, the crisis will continue due to hyper saturation of events and new releases and audiences will be unpredictable. All this points to a slow recovery, with less job opportunities, less participation in music and less room for artistic risk-taking. Jobs and diversity are at stake".
"In light of this dire situation", the organisations state, "we call for emergency as well as sustainable public support and structural policies at EU, national, regional and local level to consolidate the music ecosystem, and help it thrive again in all its diversity".
To that end, the letter calls on the European Commission and the governments of Europe "to take a stance and significantly increase the national and EU budgets dedicated to culture, and within that to music". And, "under the EU Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative it is imperative that each member state provides Europe's creative sector with swift and comprehensive access to structural funds in order to offset the harm in the shorter term".
Obviously - with the Brexit process already under way - the UK music industry will not directly benefit from any EU-led initiatives to help support the music and wider creative industry weather the COVID-19 storm and rebuild once it is over. Though the measures being proposed by the music industry's pan-European representatives could be replicated by national governments in all markets, including non-EU countries like the UK.
The open letter concludes by noting how - while putting the music industry in crisis mode - the COVID-19 shutdown has also demonstrated the immense value of music to society at large. "Within the confines of their homes, artists and DJs have been streaming their own live performances to fight isolation by engaging online communities", it says. "Drawing upon the example of Italy, citizens from across Europe gather on their balconies to play music and regain a shared sense of common purpose".
Tekashi 6ix9ine secures early prison release due to COVID-19 fears
The rapper - real name Daniel Hernandez - was sentenced to two years in prison in December after pleading guilty to various criminal charges relating to his past involvement with the Nine Trey Bloods street gang in New York.
A more lenient sentence than originally expected was ordered by the judge after Hernandez testified against other members of the gang. The thirteen months he had already spent in custody were also taken into account. He was already expected to be granted an early release in August after being described as a "model prisoner" by the judge overseeing his case.
Although out of prison, he will still have to serve the remaining four months of his sentence confined to his home.
Two weeks ago, Hernandez's attorney Lance Lazzaro requested that the rapper be released from prison early due to fears about the spread of COVID-19 within the prison system - noting that he "has regularly been hospitalised due to serious asthma attacks".
Initially the request was denied, but as the disease begins to spread more widely in New York's prisons he was granted permission to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest yesterday. He is one of at least 900 prisoners so far granted early release in New York due to the public health crisis.
When he was sentenced, it was expected that he would be offered the opportunity to enter the witness protection programme upon release, because there are fears of retaliation due to him testifying against gang members. However, he said at the time that he planned to return to his music career, hoping to "inspire the youth that it's never too late to change".
Those plans have seemingly not changed - not least because he still has a multi-million dollar record contract with the 10K Projects record label.
Speaking to Complex, another of his attorneys, Dawn Florio, said yesterday: "He already has that advance for 10K Projects. So he has to put out a Spanish album and an English album. So that's what he's going to be working on. We were actually trying to figure out the logistics of how that's going to work. It's more difficult because of the coronavirus, because you don't want strange people coming in to set up a studio where he's going to be".
She added that the rapper's legal team also believe that his release means he is allowed to return to social media, but said: "Obviously, it has to be in good taste. No more trolling".
R Kelly is also trying to secure his release from jail on coronavirus grounds as he awaits trials in New York and Chicago. Prosecutors this week argued against this, saying that - unlike Tekashi 6ix9ine - Kelly is not in a high risk group, and that there has not been a severe outbreak of COVID-19 in the Illinois prison system, where he is currently being held.
Spotify fails to have Eminem's big mechanicals lawsuit dismissed on jurisdiction grounds
Eminem's publishing company Eight Mile Style sued Spotify last August over unpaid mechanical royalties. The arguments in the lawsuit are very familiar, having been presented by numerous songwriters and music publishers before. Streams exploit the mechanical rights in songs. And while a compulsory licence covers mechanical rights under US copyright law, that only applies if a licensee sends certain paperwork and payment to a copyright owner. Spotify didn't in relation to an assortment of Eminem songs, therefore by allowing those songs to stream in the US the company is liable for copyright infringement.
Many streaming services have been sued on this point in the US, although the Spotify cases always get the most press. The digital companies argue that the problem is they don't know what song is contained in any one recording let alone who controls the rights in that song. In other countries this isn't a problem because the mechanical right collecting societies take responsibility for distributing any royalties not claimed by publishers that have direct deals with the streaming services. But in the US there is no such collecting society.
Or there wasn't. The 2018 Music Modernization Act kickstarted the process of setting up an American mechanical rights society, that being the Music Licensing Collective, or the MLC.
In the negotiations that led to the MMA, the streaming services agreed to pay for the setting up and running of that society - which will be controlled by the music publishing sector - on the condition the MLC will provide the kind of 'mop-up' licence for mechanical rights issued by other societies in other countries. The deal that led to the MMA also said that the streaming services couldn't be sued over unpaid mechanical royalties after 1 Jan 2019.
But that didn't stop Eight Mile Style going legal last summer. Noting the limitation the MMA put on such litigation, Eminem's lawsuit claimed that Spotify wasn't complying with the obligations set out in the MMA to avoid new liability over unpaid mechanicals. Plus, it argued that the limitation on new legal action over past unpaid mechanical royalties that was a crucial part of the MMA was, in fact, unconstitutional.
Spotify has called Eight Mile Style's lawsuit "meritless". However, its initial response to the new litigation was to try to have the case dismissed on jurisdiction grounds, arguing that Nashville wasn't an appropriate place to fight this legal battle given Eight Mile Style is based in Detroit and Spotify's main US base is in New York. If the court wouldn't dismiss the case outright, it should at least transfer it to New York State.
In subsequent submissions backing up that argument, Spotify conceded that it had an office in Nashville, but said that only twelve people worked there, and none of them were in any way involved in things like mechanical rights licensing. Most of the people who would have knowledge and information relevant to this dispute were in New York.
Eight Mile Style countered that Spotify has lots of users in Nashville and the state of Tennessee, and that's what matters. Allegedly unlicensed Eminem songs were streamed in the state to citizens of Tennessee who paid for a subscription.
Plus, Nashville was more convenient for Detroit-based Eight Mile Style than New York. And the publisher had picked the Tennessee courts because previous similar cases involving Spotify had been filed there, and the streaming service had never previously raised jurisdiction concerns.
Having heard all those arguments, the court sided with Team Eminem. "The court has no doubt that litigating this case in Spotify's home district would be easier for Spotify", the judge wrote in her judgement on this issue.
However, she said, past precedent stated that "transfer of venue is inappropriate where it would serve only to transfer the inconvenience from one party to the other". And "the plaintiffs elected not to proceed in New York for reasons including their reasonable belief that doing so would be more expensive than litigating in Nashville, and that decision is entitled to deference".
"Moreover", she continued, "the plaintiffs have demonstrated that no district would be totally free of inconvenience, including inconvenience related to obtaining testimony from out-of-district witnesses".
Musing more generally about any one court's jurisdiction in disputes involving musical streams, she went on: "Copyrighted works such as musical compositions are capable of electronically traversing the Earth in seconds; it is, therefore, unavoidable that copyright litigation often involves a wide geographic scope of parties, witnesses, and discovery".
"Every instance of litigation, however, has to be based somewhere", she concluded, "and the plaintiffs' selection of the Middle District Of Tennessee is sufficiently appropriate to avoid a transfer".
This all means that Spotify will have to take a day trip to Nashville to explain why it believes Eminem's mechanicals lawsuit to be "meritless". Once day trips beyond your local shop are a thing again, of course.
Ousted Paradigm agent files explosive lawsuit against her former employer
Talent agencies have been among the companies to immediately feel the impact of the measures put in place to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19, which resulted in the rapid shutdown of live entertainment and ongoing movie and TV productions. Paradigm - which is active in music and the wider entertainment industry - was one of the first to respond to the crisis with significant lay-offs, with 250 staff members affected.
The company says that it hopes the lay-offs will be temporary and that employees will be able to return within six months. But the move was criticised by many of those directly affected, with particular criticism over the impact it would have on employees' health insurance. The agency actually subsequently agreed to extend health insurance cover for laid-off staff members to the end of June instead of the end of April.
Klein - a long-term staff member at Paradigm working mainly on the TV side of the business - takes that criticism to a whole new level in her new lawsuit, before outlining a plethora of other grievances with her former employer and its CEO Sam Gores. Along the way he is accused of dodgy accounting, misogyny in the work place, paying for prostitutes with company money, and lying to the agency's business partners - including its UK subsidiaries - about things like the firm's abandoned merger with UTA.
"Before Paradigm experienced any economic impact from the pandemic, Mr Gores ... had already made up his mind to effectuate long-planned, and memorialized, firings of Paradigm's employees", the lawsuit begins. "Mr Gores is so incredibly tone deaf that instead of offering a reduction or forbearance of his own salary, or a contribution of his income to help provide Paradigm employees with a regular salary and health insurance, Sam Gores chose to kick these individuals to the curb".
It goes on: "The firings consisted of employees whom Mr Gores personally felt were 'overpaid'. In truth, Mr Gores sought to throw these employees overboard as a direct result of his own financial mismanagement of Paradigm, especially his disastrous negotiations with United Talent Agency, which singlehandedly torpedoed the planned 2019 merger between the two agencies".
Accusing Gores of using the Paradigm company as his "personal piggy bank", the lawsuit alleges that "while hundreds of Paradigm employees were left without job security, Mr Gores made sure that his personal driver and private chef remained on the Paradigm payroll. Tragically, at this time of national emergency, Sam Gores believes he has found the perfect opportunity to effectuate his long-planned, ruthless job cuts".
As for Klein's own dismissal - on which the lawsuit's breach of contact claim is based - the lawsuit says that, "despite Mr Gores recently praising Ms Klein [as] the 'best agent' at Paradigm, he rewarded her loyalty and consistent high performance by terminating her employment via a phone call lasting less than one minute".
"Unfortunately for Mr Gores and what remains of the Paradigm agency", it then states, "he forgot that Paradigm had recently entered into a binding oral employment contract with Ms Klein, under which she could only be terminated for good cause".
That, the lawsuit reckons, means the agency is in breach of said contract and therefore must pay her the nearly $2 million still owing under that agreement. "Sam Gores hoped to avoid scrutiny by terminating Ms Klein in the midst of the present pandemic. His gambit has failed, and Paradigm must now answer for its unlawful acts in a court of law".
Paradigm and Gores have already hit back at Klein's lawsuit, with a legal rep telling reporters that the legal complaint is "littered with false, frivolous and scurrilous allegations". The rep added that: "Both Paradigm and Mr Gores expect to be 100% vindicated, and our intention is to respond further in court filings".
Mike Smith leaves Warner Chappell
"My time at Warner Chappell has been hugely rewarding and I want to thank all of my colleagues around the world, and the amazing songwriting talent I've had the privilege to work with, for their love and support", he says. "These past few years have been a very special time for the company, culminating with four of our artists - Celeste, Dave, Foals and Stormzy - picking up awards at this year's BRITs".
"As I leave the company for family reasons, I know that things are in good hands under the guidance of [overall Warner Chappell chiefs] Guy [Moot] and Carianne [Marshall], and I wish them and everyone at the company the very best moving forward. We're currently enjoying an amazingly creative period in our industry, and I look forward to my next challenge, which I hope will be in the not too distant future".
Moot and Marshall add: "Mike's decided to leave the company for family reasons. He's been an integral part of the Warner Chappell story over the last few years and we're grateful for everything he's achieved. We're sorry to see him leave and we wish him all the very best for the future. We're really proud of everything our team and our songwriters are achieving and will be sharing exciting news about our new UK leadership in due course".
Smith joined Warner Chappell UK as MD in 2016, moving over from Universal's Virgin EMI label business, where he was President Of Music, a role he had taken on in 2012 while the division was still Mercury Records.
Kerrang! to temporarily cease publishing due to COVID-19
"Our decision is based on the fact that during this period of national lockdown it has become virtually impossible to distribute a weekly magazine effectively", says a statement. "The closure of several local newsagents and the decrease of sales at travel points in the last fortnight have both affected what we do, along with the understandable decision taken by supermarkets to prioritise the delivery of groceries. Equally, the idea of telling our audience to visit a shop during a period of high contagion seems irresponsible".
"The widespread cancellation and/or postponement of major festivals, tours and album releases also means that we are unable to deliver key pieces of coverage in May and June", the statement goes on. "That said, we will continue to serve you and to keep you informed on what's happening in the scene that we all love by delivering the best rock content on the planet through our website kerrang.com, as well as through all of our digital channels".
The statement adds that there are plans to fill the downtime with a "number of exciting plans that we will unveil in the next week or so that will provide you with further entertainment during these turbulent times".
Plans are to return to a weekly schedule from 8 Jul. Subscriptions will be extended to take into account the break.
COVID-19 CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS
Rufus Wainwright has announced that he is postponing the release of his new album, 'Unfollow The Rules', to 10 Jul, as the warehouse holding CD and vinyl stock of the record is currently closed due to COVID-19. "You know that I am an old school guy and for me the physical product is extremely important", he said. "I am incredibly proud of this album and the way I want you to experience it ideally is listening to it from front to back in the comfort of your living room, reading the lyrics, and looking at the booklet that I carefully designed".
COVID-19 SUPPORT INTIATIVES
The Isle Of Wight Festival has released a limited edition t-shirt to raise funds for Wightaid - a charity supporting various initiatives on the Isle Of Wight, currently providing support for those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. "We are extremely grateful that the Isle Of Wight Festival family have joined us at this critical time", says Wightaid founder Geoff Underwood. "The COVID-19 crisis is affecting the island community in many unfortunate ways and their support to our 'Crisis Fund' will ensure the most critical charities get the support they need".
Music education charity London Music Masters has announced that it will not charge fees - normally £2750 - for its Teach Tech instrument teaching course for 2020/21, in response to the impact COVID-19 is having on the arts. More details and how to apply here.
The 1975 have released new single 'Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America', featuring Phoebe Bridgers. The release date for the band's new album, 'Notes On A Conditional Form', has been pushed back again and has now been set for 22 May.
Hayley Williams has released new single 'Over Yet', another track from her upcoming solo album 'Petals For Armor'.
Radiohead's Ed O'Brien - as EOB - has released new solo track 'Olympik'. His new album 'Earth' is due out on 17 Apr.
Mavis Staples has released new single 'All In It Together', produced by and featuring Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. All proceeds from the song will be donated to My Block, My Hood, My City - a Chicago organisation ensuring the elderly have access to the essentials needed to fight COVID-19.
Sonic Boom has released new single 'The Way That You Live'. The track is taken from his first album as Sonic Boom for 30 years, 'All Things Being Equal', which is out on 5 Jun.
Iceage have released new single 'Lockdown Blues'. It's "an attempt at addressing this troubled new reality during COVID-19", say the band. "We've felt the urge to touch base now that the physical touch has been suspended and contribute an effort to raise spirit in the face of adversity". Profits from Bandcamp sales of the track will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières.
Jenny Hval has released new track 'Bonus Material'. It is, she says, "an unfinished track about unfinished substances leaking into one another".
Soko has announced that she will release new album 'Feel Feelings' on 12 Jun. Watch the video for new single 'Are You A Magician?' here.
Martin Terefe has released new single 'Breaking' along with a video lifted from the film that accompanies his forthcoming album, 'The Involuntary Gardner'.
MJ Hibbett And The Validators have announced that they will release new EP 'People Are All Right' on 27 Apr as a badge. "It's easier to wear than a seven-inch single, nicer to look at than a CD, and less likely to get tangled up than a cassette", says Hibbett. "It's also much easier to post!" The badges all come with a download code on the back (before you try putting it on your turntable). More details here.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
The Weeknd co-writes new episode of American Dad
The sixteenth series of the Seth MacFarlane show is set to hit screens in the US later this month. The Weeknd's episode - co-written with Joel Hurwitz - will be the fourth in the series, airing on 4 May.
In an Instagram post, the musician captioned a picture of himself and Hurwitz together (taken when such things were still allowed), saying: "Me and this guy wrote an episode of 'American Dad'. Also gonna play myself... kinda".
It's not the first time he has played himself... kinda. He also appears in not awful Adam Sandler movie 'Uncut Gems'. Two tracks seemingly written for that film but unused in it appear on his new album 'After Hours', which was released last month.
After that album scored the biggest first week sales in the US so far this year, The Weeknd said in a statement earlier this week: "When I started making this album, I never imagined it would be released as we face a worldwide pandemic. I always felt that music helped me in hard times and I hope that this body of work can do the same for others".
"It's been amazing to see the real heroes shine in our world right now", he went on, "the healthcare workers, the grocery store clerks and staff, delivery people, first responders - everyone putting their lives on the line to help others. This album is for them and any small joy or relief it can bring".
While you wait for that 'American Dad' episode, here's the video for 'In Your Eyes' from the new album.