|WEDNESDAY 19 AUGUST 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Legal reps for Nicki Minaj have said that, if the courts find in favour of Tracy Chapman in the two musician's ongoing copyright dispute, that ruling will have a "significant impact" on the music industry, stifling the creativity of artists... [READ MORE]|
Nicki Minaj lawyers say Tracy Chapman copyright lawsuit could stifle the creativity of artists
Chapman sued Minaj in October 2018 over a sample that appears on an unreleased track from the latter called 'Sorry'. That track was originally intended to feature on Minaj's album 'Queen', but was dropped from the LP at the last minute because her label couldn't clear a sample of Chapman's 'Baby Can I Hold You'.
We knew all this because Minaj had tweeted about the ongoing sample licensing challenges ahead of the release of 'Queen'. In those tweets she begged the famously anti-sampling Chapman to get in touch, while also asking fans whether she should delay the release of her new record pending the licensing talks, or just release it without 'Sorry'.
The latter option was taken, although that didn't stop 'Sorry' from getting played on a radio show, allegedly after Minaj's team leaked it to that radio show's host. Once it had been aired, fans grabbed the track from the broadcast and starting sharing it online. Resulting in the litigation.
Minaj hit back in her own legal filing last year, raising some issues about the registration of the 'Baby Can I Hold You' copyright in the US and pointing out that 'Sorry' had only been played on the radio once, so hadn't made Minaj any money or caused Chapman any real damage. That response also include the customary fair use defence.
The whole dispute continues to go through the motions, with both sides seeking summary judgement in their favour. In new legal filings this week, the Minaj side expand on their fair use claims. Although in doing so, they mainly side-step the issue of how a copy of 'Sorry' ended up with a radio station DJ, and instead focus on the creative process that created the track.
Confirming that 'Sorry' began as a collaboration with Nas, Minaj's lawyers say that artists routinely borrow from earlier works when creating music in the studio, and that doing so is fair use. It's then for the labels and the managers to sort out the licensing paperwork if and when artists decide they want to release a new track that contains elements of those earlier works.
Which is kind of stating the obvious. Why is any of that relevant? Well, because Team Minaj basically argue that if Chapman's copyright lawsuit is successful, it could set a precedent that copyright is sufficiently powerful to constrain that kind of behind-closed-doors creativity.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the legal filing from Minaj's lawyers states: "In the process of creation, no one approaches the original songwriter (the 'rights-holder') for a licence to experiment. The musicians just experiment".
"If something works, and the recording artist wants to release the song commercially, then the record label, managers, and attorneys get involved and seek the required permission", it goes on. "If it is granted, the recording is commercially released. If permission is denied, the recording is discarded; no one is harmed; and the experimentation begins anew".
"Recording artists require this freedom to experiment and rights-holders appreciate the protocol as well", it adds "Often, the rights-holder does not want to simply approve a use in the abstract - ie 'any hip hop version of your song'. The rights-holder wants to hear the actual version before giving her permission. The plaintiff here, Tracy Chapman, wants to turn this process on its head".
The logic of that argument is that Chapman's team are basically saying artists should get permission to play around with earlier works in the studio before doing any playing. But if that happened, says the Minaj side, "creativity would be stifled".
Which is true. Though, while Chapman's lawyers do criticise Minaj for both "creating an illegal derivative work" and "distributing that work" in their legal filing, surely the real issue is the latter not the former. Which possibly makes this whole argument something of a distraction.
But, the Minaj side insists, the prospect of Chapman getting summary judgment in her favour "should send a shiver down the spine of those concerned with the entertainment industry".
Man jailed for selling bootleg CDs on Amazon and eBay
Anyway, a man who led a bootleg CD operation selling counterfeit discs via Amazon and eBay has been handed an eighteen month prison sentence after being found guilty of criminal trademark infringement. The conviction comes at the end of a case initiated by the Content Protection Unit of record label trade body the BPI and then pursued by Lancashire Trading Standards.
Morecambe-based John Waldie admitted to sixteen counts of trademark infringement after selling thousands of counterfeit CDs bearing the trademarks of various labels, all of which had been manufactured in China. Among the discs he sold were releases by Adele, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, One Direction, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. Two of his associates, Sarah Forsyth and Adam Keates, were also convicted of trademark-related crimes, albeit with lesser sentences.
The BPI's Content Protection Team first spotted the bootleg CD operation while monitoring music sales on the Amazon marketplace. Prosecutors reckoned that Waldie et al netted £464,000, confirming it was a commercial operation justifying criminal rather than civil action.
The three defendants all pleaded guilty to the charges once the case got to Preston Crown Court back in January of this year, although Waldie tried to blame a fourth person - who had died during the investigation - for spearheading the whole thing.
Welcoming the ruling, BPI Content Protection Investigator Chris Sheehan said: "Selling fake CDs is illegal. Whether it's on a street corner or online, it makes no difference. It's a criminal offence. The eighteen month prison sentence given to the ringleader is a strong message to others that music piracy is not a quick way to make money. On the contrary, it's a quick way to get yourself sent to prison. It rips off consumers, it rips off legitimate retailers and it rips off the artists and record labels who go unrewarded for their time, investment and creativity".
Meanwhile Nick McNamara from Lancashire Trading Standards added: "This was a sophisticated counterfeiting operation where high quality Chinese counterfeits were sold as genuine to unsuspecting members of the public. Waldie's lengthy jail term shows how seriously the courts treat this kind of offending. We're grateful to the BPI and all the trademark holders and financial institutions that came together to help us secure these convictions".
BMG sign production duo Red Triangle
"We are delighted to welcome Red Triangle to the BMG family", says the firm's VP Of Creative UK Lisa Cullington. "George and Rick are incredible talents with so much drive, passion and ambition. We feel extremely lucky to be part of their creative team and their next chapter".
George, by the way, is George Tizzard. And Rick is Rick Parkhouse. You know, as in George and Rick off of Red Triangle. I don't really understand why I'm having to explain this.
You do realise, right, that this duo has worked with Charlie Puth, David Guetta, Green Day, Machine Gun Kelly, Little Mix, The Vamps, 5 Seconds Of Summer, Lukas Graham, Take That and many more? I especially like their work with 'many more'.
"We're THRILLED to be working with Lisa and the whole BMG team", say the production duo in almost perfect unison. I think George is slightly ahead of Rick, but that might just be some trendy production effect they've added to the quote.
They go on: "They share the same energy we do and they are absolutely the team to work with us to help us achieve our goals. Even though the world has been turned on its head, we're working harder than ever and feel like we're creating our best work yet".
That best work yet is being done with James Arthur, Alesso, Jared Leto and Jason Derulo. Not sure what that says about all the work they did with Charlie Puth, David Guetta, Green Day, Machine Gun Kelly, Little Mix, The Vamps, 5 Seconds of Summer, Lukas Graham, Take That and many more. Personally I can't believe the new stuff can top the output of 'many more'. But, maybe it's that good.
New governance regime adopted at PRS AGM
As a result of that move, the PRS board will be re-branded as a Members' Council, with fewer overall directors and maximum terms for those elected to it. There'll also be a new Writer President alongside the society's Chairman and a "new electoral college system for director appointments".
And if those all sound like rather minor changes, well, they do a bit, don't they? But PRS insists it's a big change. And that there'll be "streamlined decision-making through refocused committee reporting structures to give greater time to focus on strategic issues". And "better engagement for candidacy which will lead to improved diversity on the board".
Which will be a good thing, I guess. When it happens. If it happens. Elsewhere at the AGM, elections saw three incumbents re-elected to the board and another white man join the team, good times! Newly elected as a Publisher Director was Alexander Kassner from Kassner Associated Publishers, while Roberto Neri from Downtown and Jo Smith from Warner Chappell were both reappointed. On the songwriter side, John Truelove was re-appointed as a Writer Director.
And now here's PRS Chairman Nigel Elderton with a quote: "I am incredibly pleased to see that our proposed governance changes have been approved. These historic changes will allow us to deliver more engagement, efficiency and transparency for our members. Furthermore, we anticipate the approved changes will lead to more opportunities for members to join the board and by association we hope for greater diversity on the board in the future".
Rob Hallett departs Live Nation, Robomagic becomes independent concern again
Hallett launched his Robomagic business in early 2015, having stood down from his job running AEG Live in the UK the previous year. He then confirmed in early 2018 that both he, and his company, had become part of AEG rival Live Nation.
Obviously the entire live music industry is currently in flux, with plenty of uncertainties ahead, despite optimism at Live Nation and beyond that things will start to return to something nearing normal in 2021.
Hallett shares that optimism. Confirming his departure from Live Nation, he said: "I feel very positive about the future. Embracing the new normal, enhanced by new technology, the industry will bounce back in a big way.
He added that he hoped to be "ahead of the ongoing curve" as the live sector reconfigures itself next year, with "a smaller, more flexible company, that is well positioned to benefit from this new landscape".
He concluded: "I would like to thank everyone at Live Nation for their support over the last three years and look forward to the next instalment of Robomagic Live".
NME launches new strand focused on music of Southeast Asia
The new Asia-focused strand follows the launch of an Australian version of the NME website at the end of last year, which also resulted in a return to print, with a monthly NME mag now being published in Australia. Meanwhile, the latest innovation has, in part, been influenced by the fact NME is now owned by Singapore-based BandLab.
Announcing the new strand, BandLab CEO Meng Ru Kuok said: "Asia is a tremendously exciting and vibrant market to be launching into. Even though live events, tours and travel are on pause globally, there is still incredible creativity coming out of this region which we want to highlight".
"NME has long been recognised as one of the world's leading authorities in music and pop culture, known for a distinctive voice and point of view", he went on. "As a group we have a long history in the region and as BandLab Technologies we are very pleased to be bringing a global powerhouse like NME to our doorstep, and to be opening a new channel between musicians, artists, fans and brands".
NME Asia will be led editorially by Iliyas Ong, who added: "Southeast Asia has a proud musical heritage. Whether it's trending pop styles, traditional music or a marriage of the two, artists in the region have pricked the ears of audiences worldwide – and we're THRILLED to be able to tell their stories. Expect the best music writing and multimedia content, from breaking news to long-form features to authoritative guides on the many vibrant scenes across Southeast Asia".
Classical artists find new listeners during lockdown
And don't be thinking this is all about old people finally signing up to streaming and skewing the stats. The new report reckons that a third of those streaming classical music around the world are aged 18-25, while the under 35s were most likely to be streaming classical music during lockdown.
So maybe not enough old people are streaming and it's skewing the stats. I don't know. But the general gist seems to be that with the shift to streams opening up wider catalogues of music for everyone, and with all the stresses of COVID to be dealt with, more young music fans are tuning in to some classical tracks. And that's both classical classical and less classical classical. All the classicals!
But which performers and composers are seeing the biggest benefit from this trend? Well, the top ten worldwide are Ludovico Einaudi, Yann Tiersen, Andrea Bocelli, Ramin Djawadi, John Williams, Max Richter, Lindsey Stirling, Luciano Pavarotti, Sofiane Pamart and Ólafur Arnalds.
Says the there mentioned Richter: "It is wonderful that new audiences are coming to classical music during this time of anxiety. Streaming offers listeners the chance simply to follow their enthusiasms through the musical universe without any boundaries, and I'm really happy to hear that many people are turning to classical music for the first time. As well as being a historical artform, classical music is also part of what is happening now and it is great to see more people embracing it".
Meanwhile Deezer's Classical Music Editor Yannick Fage adds: "Classical music is often associated with older people, but it's exciting to see how mood listening and a new generation of talent can flip this on its head. Classical is a diverse and rich genre and working with the BPI and the RPO has given us the opportunity to dispel some of the typical stereotypes associated with it. Our data shows how streaming is helping to create a broader fanbase for classical music and artists".
Beats 1 rebrands as Apple Music 1
Would Beats Music be the long expected iStream? Would Apple use its newly acquired popular-with-the-kids Beats brand for that inevitable shift into streaming? No, no it wouldn't.
But worry not Beats fans, because the streaming incarnation of Dr Dre's over-priced cans lived on via a much hyped and occasionally listened to online radio station known as Beats 1. And, that, I guess, brings us all the way up to 2015.
But, people, now it's 2020 and Beats 1 is no more. Beats 1 is gone. Beats 1 is dead. Beats 1 is forgotten. What was Beats 1? Did you say Beats 1? Never heard of it! Never even conceived of it! It never even existed! No, forget Beats 1! Fuck Beats 1! All hail Apple Music 1.
So yeah, Apple has rebranded the online radio station that accompanies its music platform as Apple Music 1. But not only that, it's also launched two brand new global radio stations as well, just like everyone speculated it would back in, well, 2015. And why the hell not? After all, as Apple boss Tim Cook tweeted yesterday, "music has the power to heal and to bring us together".
And what are these all-new Apple-owned global radio stations called? Fuck Fortnite FM and Screw Spotify Sounds? That would be fun, wouldn't it? But not very "healing" I guess.
And Apple stopped being fun in 2006, of course. No, the new stations will be known as Apple Music Hits and Apple Music Country, you know, as if the innovative tech giant's branding team sought all their inspiration from the Bauer Media radio brands page.
"For the past five years, if ever there was a meaningful moment in music culture, Beats 1 was there bringing human curation to the forefront and drawing in listeners with exclusive shows from some of the most innovative, respected, and beloved people in music", reckons the somewhat hyperbolic Oliver Schusser, VP of Apple Music, Beats And International Content.
"Now, Apple Music Radio provides an unparalleled global platform for artists across all genres to talk about, create, and share music with their fans", he waffles on, hyperbole still in effect. And, he adds, "this is just the beginning. We will continue to invest in live radio and create opportunities for listeners around the world to connect with the music they love".
So, yeah, Apple, streams, music, more radio stations, flim, flam, wibble, wobble, whatnot. Or, as they say in radio land, lock it in and rip the knob off!