TUESDAY 6 OCTOBER 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the big 'Stairway To Heaven' copyright case, meaning that the most recent ruling in the Ninth Circuit appeals court - in Led Zeppelin's favour - stands... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES US Supreme Court declines to hear Stairway To Heaven case, meaning Led Zeppelin win
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LEGAL MPs to debate better support for creative industries
Universal and Sony hit back at artists leading termination right test cases

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DEALS Concord signs Robert Glasper
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MEDIA John Lennon pop-up TV channel to mark 80th birthday
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RELEASES Junglepussy to release new album this month
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ONE LINERS Ignition Records, Phoebe Bridgers, Lil Wayne, more
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AND FINALLY... Ed Sheeran dropped by former management company for being ginger and using a loop pedal
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US Supreme Court declines to hear Stairway To Heaven case, meaning Led Zeppelin win
The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the big 'Stairway To Heaven' copyright case, meaning that the most recent ruling in the Ninth Circuit appeals court - in Led Zeppelin's favour - stands.

It was the estate of the late Randy Wolfe, aka Randy California, who sued Led Zeppelin in 2014 claiming that the band's 1971 track 'Stairway To Heaven' ripped off an earlier song called 'Taurus', which Wolfe had written for his band Spirit.

The case went before a jury in 2016 who ruled that, while it may be true that Led Zep members had heard 'Taurus' before writing 'Stairway', the two songs were not – in fact – similar enough to constitute copyright infringement.

The Wolfe estate then took the matter to the Ninth Circuit appeals court criticising various decisions made by the judge in the original jury trial. The appeals court initially concurred with the estate and ordered a retrial. But then it reconsidered the matter en banc – with more judges involved – and that time decided that the original ruling in Led Zep's favour should stand.

It's for that reason that the Wolfe estate wanted the Supreme Court to intervene. In a filing with the top court last month, the estate argued that the Ninth Circuit made two mistakes in its second ruling, the first relating to what elements of a song enjoy copyright protection, the second regarding what constitutes originality under copyright law.

The first of those bugbears relates to the idea that, in the US, a song is only protected by copyright in the form that it was filed with the US Copyright Office. That's an issue for older songs, because it used to be that only sheet music could be filed when a song was registered, not a recording of said song. And sheet music doesn't always represent all the elements of a song as it appears in its original recording.

In this case – and others – some or all of the elements that one song is accused of ripping off from another are contained in the original recording but not the original sheet music. Therefore, the Wolfe estate argued, this idea that only the song as contained in the sheet music should be protected is a bad idea that should be rejected.

On the originality point, the big issue related to when you have common musical elements not protected by copyright that have then been employed and arranged in a specific way. While the common elements themselves are not protected, could the arrangement have protection? The Wolfe estate argued that precedent prior to the Ninth Circuit ruling in this case had said yes, a specific arrangement of common elements could be protected by copyright.

While trying to persuade the Supreme Court to accept the case, the Wolfe Estate insisted that it was campaigning for the rights of artists and songwriters, and that the Ninth Circuit ruling "is a disaster for the creatives whose talent is often preyed upon".

That said, plenty of artists and songwriters in the creative community felt the Ninth Circuit ruling was the right decision, with many arguing that it was the ruling in the 'Blurred Lines' case - which went the other way - that potentially damaged the creative process, by suggesting that common musical elements, techniques and vibes can be protected by copyright.

But disaster or not, the Ninth Circuit decision now stands. The Supreme Court did not explain why it had declined to hear the copyright case, although that's not unusual, and the top court knocks back many more cases than it accepts.

Many reckon that the precedent set by the Ninth Circuit's ruling in the 'Stairway' litigation could result in fewer song-theft cases of this kind being pursued, the earlier 'Blurred Lines' ruling having arguably had the opposite effect.

It will also be interesting to see what impact it has on other ongoing song-theft legal battles. In particular, that being pursued by the Ed Townsend estate against Ed Sheeran.

The Townsend side recently tried to reposition that case as being a battle against the music industry's long history of exploiting black musicians. But it's really a copyright case and the 'Stairway' ruling mainly helps the Sheeran side.

Meanwhile, the lawyer who led the 'Stairway To Heaven' case for the Wolfe Estate, Francis Malofiy, yesterday said that while his side had lost in court, they had nevertheless achieved a core objective of the legal action.

Insisting that Led Zeppelin "won on a technicality", he said in a statement that he was still pleased that "the world knows that: 1) Randy California wrote the introduction to 'Stairway To Heaven'; 2) Led Zeppelin are the greatest art thieves of all time; and 3) Courts are as imperfect as rock stars".

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MPs to debate better support for creative industries
UK politicians will today discuss the contribution of theatres, live music venues and other cultural attractions to the local economy in a debate titled 'The Contribution Of Theatres, Live Music Venues And Other Cultural Attractions To The Local Economy'. Snappy title.

Called by Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, the debate will consider what the government could and should be doing to better support the creative industries through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

"As neighbourhoods and local economies look to recover from the pandemic it is vital to consider the impact that theatres, music venues and other cultural attractions have on their communities, both in terms of supporting finances and other business by providing jobs and footfall, but also more widely in terms of community benefit and wellbeing", says Aiken. "I am delighted to have been able to secure this debate to highlight the issues to government and share our concerns".

Key concerns expected to be discussed include how the government's general COVID support schemes to date have failed to help many music companies and workers, especially freelancers, with recent changes resulting in even few music businesses and people being able to access support.

Also up for discussion is a proposal by UK Music for ministers to support a state-backed COVID-19 insurance scheme to give live performances viable and affordable cover against future cancellations forced by the virus, as well as the extension of sector-specific support to supply chain businesses in the music industry and freelancers.

Welcoming the debate, new UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin says: "Music venues are a vital part of local economies right across the UK. They bring huge financial and cultural benefits and are the beating heart of many communities. In addition to the direct jobs they create, venues generate vital extra trade for pubs and restaurants and benefit a host of other businesses, from taxi firms to take-away stands. These businesses rely on music venues and will struggle to survive as long as venues stay closed".

"As an industry, we are braced for this pandemic to continue for many months", he goes on. "But we need the right support to ensure we can make it through the other side and start delivering for local communities and local economies once again. We're extremely grateful to Nickie Aiken for securing this debate and helping highlight the huge challenges facing our world-leading industry in the difficult times ahead".

The debate will take place today in Westminster Hall in Parliament between 2.30pm and 4.00pm.

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Universal and Sony hit back at artists leading termination right test cases
Universal Music and Sony Music are continuing to fight the big two termination right cases that have been filed with the US courts, both accusing the artists pursuing said lawsuits of bad conduct.

The American termination right says that 'authors' who assign their copyrights to another entity have a one-time opportunity to terminate that assignment and reclaim their rights after 35 years. So if a songwriter assigns the copyright in their songs to a music publisher in a long-term or life-of-copyright deal, they have a one-time opportunity to terminate that assignment after 35 years.

On the songs side of the business, such terminations have become more or less routine. But on the recordings side, many labels are fighting efforts by artists to terminate old record contracts.

This is principally on the basis that those contracts are so called work-for-hire agreements, making the label, not the artist, the default owner of the resulting copyright. Therefore, there was no assignment of rights from artist to label 35 years ago and as a result the right to terminate that assignment does not apply.

Needless to say, most artists disagree with that argument, in turn arguing that record deals aren't really work-for-hire agreements at all, even if they claim to be in the actual contracts. After years of debate on that point, both Universal and Sony were sued last year by various artists seeking to reclaim their recording rights.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, in the latest development in those cases, key artists involved have been accused by their labels of infringing copyright by distributing "pirate" versions of their old recordings on their own websites. Universal has made that allegation against Joe Ely and Syd Straw, while Sony is countersuing John Lyon and Paul Collins for the unlicensed distribution of their old tracks.

Those artists will possibly argue back that - despite the majors' refusal to formally terminate old record contracts - as far as the musicians are concerned they have termination rights and are enforcing those rights, and are therefore able to now redistribute their old recordings originally released by Universal or Sony labels. Though technically only in America, as it's generally been agreed to date that the termination right only applies to copyrights being exploited within the US.

For its part, Sony is going even further, also seeking to countersue Lyon and Collins for secondary copyright infringement because their lawyer, Evan Cohen, is using artwork from those artists' albums on a web page about the litigation.

Sony says that it owns the copyright in that artwork and that Cohen is using it without licence to promote his termination right services to other artists. Which is interesting. Cohen will almost certainly say that use of that artwork is covered by the principle of 'fair use' under US law, though Sony will likely then stress that the web page is basically advertising and therefore fair use should not apply.

Maybe whoever created the artwork - assuming they weren't a full-time employee of the label at the time - could try to enforce their termination rights over those visuals and then license their use to Cohen for free in return for a discount on him overseeing the termination. It's copyright technicality central - fun times!

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Concord signs Robert Glasper
Concord Music Publishing has signed a new deal with pianist and record producer Robert Glasper as part of the company's joint venture with Loma Vista Recordings. The deal covers Glasper's full catalogue and future works.

Glasper says he's "excited to continue building with my team at Loma Vista by joining the Concord Music Publishing family as we enter an important moment in time for music and change".

Concord's SVP A&R, Jeremy Yohai, adds: "Robert Glasper is simply one of the most respected and important songwriters, musicians and artists of his generation. We are honoured that Robert chose to partner with Concord".

Glasper released his first album for Loma Vista, 'Fuck Yo Feelings', last year. He released his latest single, 'Better Than Imagined', featuring HER and Meshell Ndegeocello, in August. It's the first single from his next album, 'BlackRadio 3', which is due out next year.

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John Lennon pop-up TV channel to mark 80th birthday
Universal Music has announced that it will mark what would have been John Lennon's 80th birthday by launching a TV channel dedicated to him. The pop-up station will be available to UK television owners for one week, starting on the big day, 9 Oct.

In a first for the major label, the Lennon80 TV channel will pull together all sorts of archive interviews, documentaries and performances, as well as new programmes knocked together just for this. Programmes include the classic 'Bed Peace' documentary, Lennon's rediscovered and restored 1971 Parkinson interview, his 1975 'Old Grey Whistle Test' special, and more.

COO of Universal Music's TV division, Simon Sadler - who has coordinated the project alongside Lennon archivist Simon Hilton - says: "There are not many artists worthy of a channel dedicated to just one name – but John Lennon is certainly one of them".

"To mark his 80th birthday", he goes on, "we're THRILLED to have brought together many classic moments of John's life – from his life at home, on the chat shows and the peace protests – as well bringing John's solo music together with the songs he wrote for the Beatles for a rare outing on TV".

Viewers will be able to tune in to Lennon80 on Sky channel 371 and Virgin 346 across the UK, and on Freeview channel 83 in some parts of the country. Good luck remembering how to tune in to live TV everyone!

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Approved: Takykardia
As origin stories go, pop trio Takykardia have a pretty good one. One day, vocalist Luna Matz walked into a McDonald's sign, leaving her with a concussion and minor whiplash, and putting her out of action as a professional dancer for the best part of a year.

Bored in her recuperation, while her then boyfriend - musician Troels Dankert - was away, she opened up the recording software on his computer and added vocals to the latest track he'd been working on. When he returned, Dankert was so impressed that he and his musical partner David Nedergaard abandoned their existing project and immediately formed Takykardia with Matz.

The trio released their debut single in 2017, with an EP arriving the following year. Over the last few months, the single releases have ramped up again in anticipation of their debut album, 'Better', which is set for release on 6 Nov.

"I decided not to have any secrets on this album", says Matz. "I was so sick of not saying things as they were or as they are to me. The timeframe of making 'Better' was a very turbulent, though beautiful, love relation I had with a man who was going through the hardest time of his life. I was extremely in love and very much trying to hide it so not to overwhelm or expect anything from him during his grief".

"The songwriting very much explores this relationship and everything that came in the aftermath", she goes on. "I'm also deeply in love with my youth and my life and scared of wasting it not living it the fullest. I want to do better, become better, love better, enjoy better! I am always sure that tomorrow will be better".

The album's third single - following 'Waving' and 'Rewind' - is 'Sometimes My Best Friend Ghosts Me'. Watch the video here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.
 

Junglepussy to release new album this month
Rapper Junglepussy has announced that she will release her fourth studio album, 'Jp4', later this month. Alongside the announcement comes lead single 'Main Attraction'.

"From the genesis of Junglepussy, I struggled with my sound, because what I was doing at the time, I knew it wasn't really, really, really what I wanted to do", she says. "But I just didn't know how to get there. 'Jp4' really sounds like and feels like I got there".

"The only thing that will deter you from doing something you've never done before is feeling it's impossible", she goes on. "I've always really genuinely, delusionally maybe, believed in Junglepussy and saw this vision for it that I couldn't even explain or describe. It just had to pan out for itself. I do this so nobody sleeps on the awkward black girl never ever again".

'Jp4' is out on 23 Oct through Jagjaguwar/Friends Of. Watch the video for 'Main Attraction' here.

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DEALS

Sony Music's The Orchard is now the global distributor for Ignition Records, which, among other things, houses Oasis's Big Brother Recordings and Noel Gallagher's Sour Mash Records. The first release put out under the deal will be a 25th anniversary vinyl reissue of Oasis's '(What The Story) Morning Glory'.

US producer MK has signed to Three Six Zero for global management. His career will be overseen by Three Six Zero Partner Milo Mitchum and CEO Mark Gillespie.

Entertainment One has announced a global publishing and label deal with singer-songwriter and producer Sam Wills. "I'm so happy to have a team that fully believes in me and understands my creative vision", says he. "I've always been very cautious to make sure I'm working with people who support and encourage me to be authentic, rather than telling me how I need to be and what I need to sound like".

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APPOINTMENTS

Universal Music Israel has appointed journalist, radio host and music supervisor Meytal Shevach to the position of A&R Manager. "I am THRILLED to have Meytal join the Universal team", says UMI MD Yoram Mokady. "Her vast experience working within the local artist and music community will help us to identify and develop the next wave of Israeli talent, as we look towards introducing our artists to new audiences around the world, whilst reaching new fans and achieving success domestically".

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LABELS & PUBLISHERS

Phoebe Bridgers has launched her own label, Saddest Factory, in partnership with Dead Oceans. "The vision of the label is simple", she says. "Good songs, regardless of genre".

Sony Music and Sony/ATV have opened a new office in Berlin, which will serve as the two companies' European HQ, as well as a base for Sony Music's German, Austrian, Swiss and international classical music divisions. "Creative power hubs", says Daniel Lieberberg, Sony Music's President of Continental Europe & Africa. "Synergy possibilities", adds Patrick Strauch, MD of Sony/ATV Germany. Let's just hope the "office working is over, home-working is here to stay post-COVID" prediction doesn't come true.

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MANAGEMENT & FUNDING

UK-based management company Karma Artists has hired Anna Schlafer to head up its new LA office. Schlafer joins from Kobalt, where she has held several roles over more than a decade, most recently Senior Director of Creative. "We are THRILLED to welcome Anna to the Karma team to help expand our reach within the US market and build upon the success our clients are already enjoying", says company director Jordan Jay.

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RELEASES

Lil Wayne has released new single 'NFL', featuring Gudda Gudda and Hoodybaby.

Dua Lipa has released the video for 'Levitating', featuring DaBaby, from her 'Future Nostalgia' album.

With new single 'UFO' featuring Aitch on track to be the highest new entry in the UK singles chart this Friday, D Block Europe have announced that they will release their debut album - 'The Blueprint - Us v Them' - this Friday too.

Sinead O'Connor has released new single 'Trouble Of The World', produced by David Holmes and featuring gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Of the traditional song, O'Connor says: "For me, the song isn't about death or dying. More akin, a message of certainty that the human race is on a journey toward making this world paradise and that we will get there". All proceeds from the release will be donated to Black Lives Matter charities.

King Creosote has released his first new music since 2016, a double A-side single featuring the songs 'Susie Mullen' and 'Walter De La Nightmare'.

Chai have released new single 'Donuts Mind If I Do', their first for Sub Pop having announced their signing to the label last week. "Keep going on!" say the band. "When you're feeling vigorous, when you're feeling sick. You like what you like! No changing that! Even if what I like is as simple as a donut. It's this type of song!"

Upsahl has released new single 'MoneyOnMyMind'. It "has nothing to do with actual money; it's a mindset", she says. "You can have all the money in the world and still be completely miserable, but to FEEL money as fuck, that's a whole other vibe. It's all about the glow up. After every weak moment, there's always a bounce back, and this song captures that feeling of getting on some new shit and hustling for the life you want". Her new EP, 'Young Life Crisis', is out on 30 Oct.

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GIGS & TOURS

Rag N Bone Man is the latest artist to be added to the line-up for the 2021 edition of Forest Live. He has three forest shows lined up for June next year. Details here.

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

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Ed Sheeran dropped by former management company for being ginger and using a loop pedal
Ed Sheeran's first management company dropped him for being ginger and using a loop pedal, his now manager Stuart Camp has said.

"The other management ac­tually resigned from him because they said he wasn't going anywhere", Camp tells the Straight Up podcast of how he came to work with Sheeran, initially at Elton John's Rocket Management. "[They told him] he had to dye his hair black, give up the loop pedal and give up the rapping, which I kind of see their point there".

As for whether that company is now kicking itself, he says: "For a long time their website said they discovered Ed Sheeran, which was a cause of hilarity - you didn't mention the bit where you said he was shit and he went away. But I've spoken to the [former] manager a few times and it's fine. It's one of those things. Everyone's got acts [where it] doesn't happen or [they] run away".

Camp also gives a vague update on Sheeran's plans for his next album on the podcast, saying: "We've started recording now. We'll probably put a record out this time next year.

But, he adds, Sheeran is already thinking beyond that: "I'm looking at a piece of paper here, which I can't show you, that actually has the tracklisting for the album after the next one written on it. Which is just, in his head he thinks that it's done and it's fine, and that's definitely the tracklisting. But I've crossed out most of the names on it".

"I don't know if that's a writing thing for him, and he thinks that one day he's just going to wake up and it's all going to have gone, and he won't be able to do it anymore", he goes on. "Because he's always one or two albums ahead. So we did know what we were doing up to about 2024, but obviously that's all somewhat up in the air now".

Either way, with plenty of plans for what's ahead, that's not at all bad for someone who was told more than a decade ago that they'd never make it.

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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 consultancy unit 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 Insights 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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