WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Post Malone has been sued by a former collaborator who claims he co-wrote the rapper's 2019 hit 'Circles' but was denied a credit and royalties after a dispute over what share of the copyright he should receive... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Post Malone sued by uncredited collaborator on 2019 hit Circles
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LEGAL R Kelly fails to secure prison release as a result of COVID-19 concerns
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Apple Music sets up fund to advance monies to COVID-19 hit labels
Sony Music UK launches new label Dream Life
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INDUSTRY PEOPLE MMF pays tribute to its former General Secretary
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ARTIST NEWS John Prine dies
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ONE LINERS Isolation Albums, DIYsolation, Alesso, more
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AND FINALLY... Harry Styles selling t-shirt to raise money for COVID-19 relief
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Post Malone sued by uncredited collaborator on 2019 hit Circles
Post Malone has been sued by a former collaborator who claims he co-wrote the rapper's 2019 hit 'Circles' but was denied a credit and royalties after a dispute over what share of the copyright he should receive.

Tyler Armes - a songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and member of Canadian rap rock outfit Down With Webster - says that he ended up "jamming" in the studio with Malone in August 2018 after an invite from the rapper's manager Dre London.

According to Armes' lawsuit, that resulted in an all-night studio session involving him, Malone and producer Frank Dukes. And, "when Post found out that Armes was a talented multi-instrumental musician, he was excited and said, 'let's write a tune!'"

That collaborative tune writing, Armes claims, resulted in 'Circles'. Along the way he co-wrote the chords, bassline and guitar melody of what became the 2019 hit. "At the end of the session that morning, Dukes played back the recording for Armes and Post, and the three of them were THRILLED with the results of their collaboration", says the lawsuit.

So THRILLED was Dukes, the lawsuit adds, that he exclaimed, "It's so fucking good! It's a whole new sound, man". Post chipped in, "It's super special" and "that's gonna be the next... we're just gonna, for the next album, we're just gonna use a fuck load of reverb". Dukes then added for good measure that "this kind of track would be insane to play live".

So, like the lawsuit says, everyone was THRILLED. Though, I think it's fair to say, Armes was less THRILLED when the song was debuted on Instagram and at a New York show a year later and a good old-fashioned copyright dispute began.

With no agreement in place about the music created on that August night in 2018, once the track was out there Armes contacted London, stressing his involvement in the creation of the song that was now being released.

"Specifically the bass and guitar parts, Post ended up tracking them after I was playing", he wrote. "I was beside him giving input on both of them. I was not just someone hanging out in the room, I'm a writer/producer in the room with two other writer/producers working on a song".

According to the lawsuit, Malone initially conceded that Armes had had an involvement in the creation of 'Circles'. To that end, Armes was offered a 5% share in the song. But, believing that he deserved more, he pushed back for a better deal.

"Armes attempted to negotiate to receive a larger percentage of the royalties that more fairly reflected his significant contributions to the song", the legal papers go on, "and one of his representatives requested that he be credited as a co-writer and co-producer of the song while they attempted to reach an agreement on Armes' share of the publishing royalties".

Team Malone seemingly refused. Then, it's alleged, Austin Rosen - who manages Dukes and co-manages Malone - "threatened Armes' manager, Cory Litwin, that if Armes was unwilling to accept Post's so-called 'gift' of 5% of the publishing, then he would get nothing - no credit and no publishing royalties".

"Thus", the lawsuit adds, "defendants have retaliated and attempted to punish Armes for not accepting their low-ball offer on the publishing royalties by refusing to credit Armes as a co-writer and co-producer of the song, notwithstanding the fact that Post has acknowledged that Armes co-wrote the song".

The lawsuit filed in the Californian courts wants the judge to confirm Armes' co-writer status on 'Circles' and secure him a share of the copyright and lots of lovely royalties. Team Malone is yet to respond.

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R Kelly fails to secure prison release as a result of COVID-19 concerns
A judge has declined to let R Kelly out of jail despite concerns that his chances of contracting COVID-19 are much higher while he remains within the prison system.

The music star is currently in jail in Chicago awaiting multiple trials over allegations of sexual abuse. He is one of many prisoners in the US seeking to get out of prison - and instead await his trials under house arrest - because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, last week prosecutors opposed that request. They argued that, aged 53 and with no underlying health conditions, Kelly wasn't in any high risk group if he did contract the disease. They also insisted that the US prison system was taking the pandemic seriously and putting measures in place to restrict and delay the spread of the virus.

Prosecutors added that, given the crimes he is accused of and additional allegations of witness tampering during a past prosecution, there were genuine concerns about allowing Kelly out of jail, even if he agreed to comply with house arrest restrictions.

Yesterday judge Ann M Donnelly sided with the prosecution. She wrote: "While I am sympathetic to the defendant's understandable anxiety about COVID-19, he has not established compelling reasons warranting his release".

She added that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the specific Chicago jail where Kelly is incarcerated, and that "the Bureau Of Prisons has announced emergency measures to protect inmates and staff, including suspending all legal and social visits, suspending inmate facility transfers, making soap available to inmates, screening and testing inmates and staff, and modifying operations at detention facilities ... to maximise social distancing".

Sharing the prosecution's concerns, the judge went on: "[Kelly] is currently in custody because of the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate prospective witnesses. The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed".

Kelly's lawyers had also argued that, because prison visits are not currently allowed due to COVID-19 measures, they couldn't properly prepare for their client's trial. But the judge said communications could continue by phone and email, and that the current schedule for Kelly's case is likely to slip anyway as a result of the pandemic, and therefore "as conditions return to normal, [Kelly] and his lawyers will have additional time to prepare for trial".

A number of other high profile prisoners in the US have likewise sought release as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine, in jail in New York, ultimately secured early release because of COVID-19 concerns. He was considered to be in a high-risk group because of his severe asthma.

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Apple Music sets up fund to advance monies to COVID-19 hit labels
Apple Music has created a $50 million advance fund to help provide cash flow to indie labels and distributors who are facing challenges as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Extra one-off advances - recoupable out of future royalties - will be available to labels and distributors that earn over $10,000 in quarterly revenue from the Apple streaming service and which have a direct relationship with the company.

Commenting on the scheme, the boss of the digital rights agency for the indie sector, Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota, told Billboard: "Over the past week, I have had a number of conversations with Apple, who are aware of the challenges currently facing independents, about different ways they can support the community".

"Coming out of those conversations, we greatly welcome the news that Apple has made a $50 million advance fund available for independent labels and distributors", he went on. "The advance is optional, which gives our members and other independents the flexibility to decide if they want to draw on it".

Although Merlin negotiates template deals with most streaming services on behalf of its indie label and distributor members, there isn't actually a Merlin deal with Apple Music, because the tech giant's original licensing agreements for iTunes (that were then updated to include Apple Music) pre-date the creation of the digital rights agency. Nevertheless, Merlin still talks to Apple on behalf of the indie label community.

According to Rolling Stone, an email to qualifying labels announcing the advance scheme states: "These are difficult times for the music industry globally. Livelihoods are at risk, with multiple sources of income that our industry relies on vanishing overnight. Apple has a deep, decades-long history with music, and we are proud to be in close partnership with the best labels and artists in the world. We want to help".

The record industry is shielded from the negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis to an extent because of the way the streaming business works.

Overall income isn't linked to consumption levels but to how many people pay to subscribe to services like Apple Music and Spotify. Meaning that - unlike with discs and downloads - the industry's core revenue stream isn't so swayed by each label's ability to release and promote new music or each customer's ability to buy that new music. Therefore it's much easier for the record industry to weather this storm than it is for the live sector.

But that's not to say that the record industry isn't impacted at all.

The advertising sector is wobbling, which could impact monies generated on the free streaming services. For some labels, physical sales are still a key part of the mix and the shutdown of the high street will likely hit that revenue stream.

Royalties due from when music is played in a public space or synced into movies and ads will also likely take a hit (though the music publishers rely on those revenue streams much more than the labels do). And some record companies still share in an artist's live income through the multi-revenue stream deals that became common in the late 2000s.

Though probably most importantly of all, some artists aren't able or don't want to release new music during the pandemic, and for smaller labels with smaller catalogues regular new releases may be required to ensure they get a decently sized share of the streaming pie.

And for smaller companies there is less contingency in the budgets when projects get pushed back and extra costs are incurred. Plus, many labels will feel the need to support their artists through that process, possibly financially.

All of which means any gestures by the streaming platforms to free up some cash flow in the short term will be appreciated. Though free cash flow isn't free cash, of course, meaning that any benefit a label gets now from a nice advance will likely result in a dip in streaming income down the line.

However, if it stops a label from having to spend money to borrow money - or, for smaller labels, from going out of business because of an inability to borrow money - well that's obviously a very good thing.

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Sony Music UK launches new label Dream Life
Sony Music UK has launched a brand new label called Dream Life Records to be co-run by Dan Owusu, Lunick Bourgess and Shane Derozario. Together they will focus - and I quote - "on finding urban and pop talent, developing artists and management teams to the highest level, and bridging the gap between youth and the mainstream".

And all from their kitchens! For now, at least. Until that glorious moment occurs when we can all get back to finding urban and pop talent, developing artists and management teams to the highest level and bridging the gap between youth and the mainstream in our pubs and our clubs, on our buses and our trains, and in our plush office spaces in Kensington.

Sony notes that between them the trio running Dream Life Records have experience and expertise in A&R at both labels and publishers, as well as in artist management, meaning they can "offer artists an all-encompassing perspective".

And all from their kitchens! For now, at least. Until that glorious moment occurs when we can all get back to offering artists an all-encompassing perspective in our pubs and our clubs, on our buses and our trains, and in our plush office spaces in Kensington.

Announcing the new division, Sony Music UK chief Jason Iley said: "I want to continue building a company that is led by entrepreneurs and innovators. Dan, Lunick and Shane are extremely ambitious, hugely energetic and will be an excellent addition to the Sony team. Their combination of nous and flair promises to uncover an exciting roster of new talent".

And all from their kitchens! For now, at least.

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MMF pays tribute to its former General Secretary
The Music Managers Forum has paid tribute to James Fisher, who was the organisation's General Secretary during its first decade in existence from 1992 to 2002, and who died last week reportedly as a result of COVID-19.

The tributes were led by music manager Dennis Muirhead, the founding Chair of the MMF and now one of the trade body's custodians, who described Fisher as "the friendliest, sweetest, kindest, most generous man you can imagine".

Muirhead says that he was first introduced to Fisher by a partner at his law firm Simons Muirhead & Burton. "James knew everyone and they all loved him", he adds. "He was born in England but moved to Perth, Western Australia in his early years. He was a presenter on ABC Radio and a lover of music. He thought of himself as an Australian and as a fellow Aussie we got on well together from day one".

Explaining how Fisher came to work for MMF, he goes on: "The MMF was struggling with administration as it was establishing itself. James had retired from [US collecting society] ASCAP and was respected by everyone in the music industry, just what the MMF needed. With the support of Gail Colson and the board we hired James. Initially, he worked from my management office and made all the difference to the MMF".

In his role as General Secretary, Fisher sought to recruit ever more artist managers to the organisation's membership and board, and also helped later MMF Chair John Glover establish the British Music Roll Of Honour event, the forerunner of today's Artist & Manager Awards. "The MMF has never looked back", Muirhead adds, "and now plays a key role in the music industry worldwide".

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CMU Trends: The Anti-Touting Campaign
For those people looking to use lockdown as an opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the music business, we are currently publishing new CMU Trends guides on a more or less weekly basis.

CMU Trends is a series of guides and reports that explain how different aspects of the music industry work, while also summarising all the key trends and developments in the business. You can buy each guide in the CMU Shop, but premium subscribers can access and download everything from CMU Trends for free.

The latest addition to the CMU Trends library is a ten step guide to the campaign against online ticket touting. It reviews how the secondary ticketing market first emerged in the mid-2000s, the various arguments for and against the resale of tickets for profit online, the legalities of touting, and the various measures to regulate the market, in the UK and beyond.

Go premium with CMU for just £5 a month and access all the CMU Trends guides - plus our weekly news digest and discounts on CMU Insights training.

John Prine dies
Singer-songwriter John Prine has died from complications related to COVID-19. He was 73.

It was announced on 26 Mar that Prine had been admitted to intensive care after contracting the virus. Earlier in the month, his wife and manager Fiona announced that she had tested positive for the disease after they had returned from tour dates in Europe, though she recovered. Prine remained in intensive care until his death yesterday.

His family have not yet issued a statement, but have confirmed the musician's death to various media outlets.

Born in 1946, Prine grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, initially working as a postman after leaving school. It was on his delivery rounds that he wrote some of the first songs he would release - although some songs on his debut album actually dated back to when he was just fourteen.

He began performing those early songs live in the late 60s and immediately drew a strong following on the Chicago folk scene as word of his talents spread.

In 1971, Kris Kristofferson and Paul Anka saw him play, which led to him signing his first record deal with Atlantic later that year. Four years later after the release of his fourth album 'Common Sense' - and unhappy with Atlantic's work to promote his music - he moved to David Geffen's Asylum label, where he released three albums between 1978 and 1980.

In 1982, Prine decided to leave the mainstream label system, instead setting up his own label, Oh Boy Records, and selling albums - starting with 1984's 'Aimless Love' - via mail order, making him an early pioneer of the direct-to-fan business model.

It was through Oh Boy that Prine released the bulk of his nineteen studio albums, an output that assured him a consistent and sustainable career for more than five decades. However, the greatest commercial success of that career came very recently.

In 2018, he released 'The Tree Of Forgiveness', his first album of original material for thirteen years. The album debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 album chart, the highest chart position of his career. Previous highest was 2016's 'For Better, Or Worse', a collection of duets with female singers, including Kacey Musgraves and Alison Krauss, covering classic country songs.

The success of what would become his final album brought a boost to Prine's live performances too, seeing him play some of the biggest venues he had ever performed in.

Twice during his life Prine was diagnosed with cancer - in his neck in 1998 and lung in 2013. On both occasions he recovered following surgery. Although in 1998, that surgery involved removing part of his neck which changed the sound of his voice, giving his vocals a more gravelly sound.

Prine is survived by his third wife Fiona, their two sons Jack and Tommy, and adopted son Jody - Fiona's son from an earlier previous relationship, with whom she co-managed Prine in recent years.

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COVID-19 SUPPORT INTIATIVES

Manchester music conference and showcase festival Off The Record has announced a new project called Isolation Albums. It will see musicians, producers and celebrities share their favourite albums to listen to while on lockdown, raising money for Help Musicians. Peter Crouch, Edith Bowman, Mumford & Sons' Ben Lovett and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody are among those taking part.

DIY magazine has announced a virtual festival, DIYsolation, which will see artists performing live from their own homes via Instagram. Acts performing include Pale Waves, Marika Hackman, Peace, Self Esteem and Happyness. Taking place from Friday to Sunday this week, the event will raise money for Help Musicians.

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LIVE BUSINESS

Coventry music venue The Empire has announced plans to relocate to the city centre, taking over another former cinema building and corn exchange in order to double its capacity to 1800. Manager Phil Rooney says: "With the support of the council and City Of Culture 2021, we have built a significant investment that will bring jobs to the city and create a first-class entertainment venue to rival anything in the UK".

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RELEASES

Alesso has released new single 'Midnight', featuring Liam Payne. "During these difficult times Liam and I hope this song can bring some light", he says.

Ghostpoet has released new single 'Nowhere To Hide Now'. His new album, 'I Grow Tired But I Dare Not Fall Asleep', is out on 1 May.

Aesop Rock has released new EP 'Music From The Game Freedom Finger', featuring music he wrote for the video game 'Freedom Finger'. Which is why it's called that. From it, this is 'Drums On The Wheel'.

The Soft Pink Truth - aka Drew Daniel from Matmos - has released new track 'On'. His new album, 'Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?', is out on 1 May.

Summer Camp have released the video for 'Love Of My Life' from their latest album 'Romantic Comedy'.

Zombie-Chang has released a new song about COVID-19, titled 'Please Stay Home', mainly pondering her toilet paper situation.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Harry Styles selling t-shirt to raise money for COVID-19 relief
Following in the footsteps of Rita Ora, Harry Styles has released a t-shirt to help fight COVID-19. All profits from sales of said t-shirt will be donated to the World Health Organisation COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

The simple design reads: "Stay home. Stay safe. Protect each other". Once you have it, you can proudly wear it out in public so that everyone gets the message. Of course, you will have failed to follow the slogan across your own chest, but if two people immediately go home after seeing it, that's a result, your work is done. Plus, someone will take your photo and post an angry message on social media, so that's another way to get the message out.

All that said, it will be a while before you can actually start spreading the message. Styles' website says that the t-shirts will not begin shipping for four to six weeks. And, who knows, maybe by then we won't be on quite so strict a lockdown as we are now. Then it'll be fine to go around telling people via the medium of t-shirt to 'stay home'. It's just they won't need to stay home. All in all, it's a fool proof system!

Of course, the important thing is that buying this shirt will send money straight to the effort to fight COVID-19. And with the US way behind with its WHO membership payments – thanks to Donald Trump's dislike of anything related to the UN - the organisation certainly needs the money. So, Harry's doing good work. In fact, I don't care for your cynical tone at all. Go away cynics!

And just think, you could get years of wear out of this item of clothing. With the added bonus that, the more time passes, the less sense its slogan will make. Buy it here.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights and CMU Pathways consultancy units and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU InsightsCMU Pathways and CMU:DIY.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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