MONDAY 19 OCTOBER 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The big song-theft legal battle between Ed Sheeran and the estate of Ed Townsend - which was due to arrive in court next month - has been postponed because of the impact COVID is having on the New York courts, not to mention the ability of Team Sheeran to travel to the US... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Ed Sheeran copyright case postponed because of COVID
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner's ADA launches in Japan
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LIVE BUSINESS As more Culture Recovery Fund grants awarded, unsuccessful applicants demand to know more about criteria
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Snapchat rolls out its music library feature
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MEDIA Artists customise Fender Stratocasters for The Big Issue
Bauer seeks to extend Hits Radio network by getting Sam FM Bristol's licence remit changed

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ARTIST NEWS Brian Wilson and Al Jardine distance themselves for Beach Boys performance at Trump fundraiser
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AND FINALLY... Rapper arrested after releasing track about filing false benefit claims
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Ed Sheeran copyright case postponed because of COVID
The big song-theft legal battle between Ed Sheeran and the estate of Ed Townsend - which was due to arrive in court next month - has been postponed because of the impact COVID is having on the New York courts, not to mention the ability of Team Sheeran to travel to the US.

Sheeran is accused of ripping off Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' on his 2014 hit 'Thinking Out Loud'. Townsend co-wrote Gaye's song, and it was his estate that went legal over the song-theft claims.

Earlier this month legal reps for Sheeran requested that the scheduled November court hearing be postponed. He and several other witnesses in the case are currently in the UK, and COVID rules currently mean direct UK to US travel is not allowed.

Therefore, to get to New York, Sheeran and his team would have to travel via another country, staying there for at least fourteen days, so that they were allowed to enter the US.

They'd then likely have to quarantine on arrival in New York. Plus, while in transit, rules could change making it impossible to complete the journey. Or, Sheeran's team could get there to find the court hearing was being postponed anyway.

That the case could be postponed whatever was confirmed by the judge last week. He noted that the New York courts are currently operating at limited capacity and that priority is being given to criminal cases. Civil cases, in the main, are relying on gaps in the schedule created by last minute plea deals in criminal cases.

With all that in mind, it seems much more sensible to postpone now, before Sheeran et al embark on a tricky journey in a bid to get to New York in time for a court hearing that probably won't go ahead. Judge Louis Stanton said that court hearing would now take place "next spring".

The decision was welcomed by the Sheeran side. Legal rep Donald Zakarin of Pryor Cashman LLP told Law360: "I want to be clear that our clients very much want to try this case and put what we consider a baseless infringement claim behind them. We will be ready to proceed as soon as there is more certainty about obtaining a jury and the travel restrictions that have made it largely impossible for our client and UK witnesses to attend trial are behind us".

Meanwhile, a lawyer working for the Townsend estate said that his clients "understand the need for caution in these uncertain times", but added: "The delay, however, will not diminish the Townsend family's resolve to obtain justice for what can only be described as outright theft of 'Let's Get It On' at the hands of Mr Sheeran".

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Warner's ADA launches in Japan
Warner Music's ever-expanding label services business ADA has launched in Japan. Led by Kaz Aida - who joins from Universal - the opening of the Japanese division follows the launch last month of ADA Asia, which covers Greater China, Korea and South East Asia.

"I'm delighted to take on the opportunity of building ADA's business in Japan", says Aida. "We're a fast-changing market, with digital adoption now taking off at a rapid rate. I want to help our local labels and management companies navigate this scene and also plug their artists into ADA's unrivalled global network".

Eliah Seton, President of Independent Music and Creator Services at Warner Music Group, adds: "It is a major milestone in ADA's globalisation to launch in the world's second biggest music market. Kaz brings tremendous experience across all aspects of the music business and will be an invaluable partner to independent labels and artists. ADA Japan could not be in better hands".

Back in July, ADA also launched a Latin-focussed division.

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As more Culture Recovery Fund grants awarded, unsuccessful applicants demand to know more about criteria
Another 588 cultural organisations in England received funding from the Culture Recovery Fund on Friday, with £76 million being distributed this time round to help those recipients deal with the challenges caused by the COVID-19 shutdown.

The latest round of grants from the Arts Council England scheme - which is distributing a significant portion of the £1.57 billion in sector-specific funding provided to the cultural and heritage industries by the UK government - came just days after the first round, in which £257 million was awarded to 1385 theatres, venues, galleries, festivals, museums and other cultural organisations.

Commenting on the second round of funding, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back. Through Arts Council England we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations. These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country".

Plenty of music companies and organisations were among the second round of beneficiaries, and the music industry - although still critical of many aspects of the government's COVID response - continues to commend this particular funding intervention, which should enable many music venues, festivals and other groups survive through to April of next year even as the COVID shutdown extends and expands.

That said, as successful applicants were being told what grants they will receive, others were finding out that their applications had been unsuccessful. And over the weekend the Night Time Industries Association hit out at the news that a number of key dance music venues in London were among the latter group, demanding to know more about the criteria employed by the Arts Council in making its decisions.

The trade organisation said it was "shocked and dismayed at London's iconic dance music venues Printworks, The Egg, Studio 338, Oval Spaces and The Pickle Factory being refused the cultural recovery funding".

NTIA boss Michael Kill added: "We are shocked and dismayed that some of the key contemporary music venues, events and supply chain have been missed out of the cultural recovery fund, and with no clear understanding of the future, this has left many of them in an extremely difficult financial position".

"We have been aware all along that the fund would not be able to support everyone and will leave many businesses who have missed out on this opportunity awaiting on a perilous cliff edge", he went on. "But given the significance of some of the businesses that have been left out, we are concerned with regard to eligibility and fair consideration around the types of businesses and the criteria they have been measured against".

He concluded: "We are keen, alongside hundreds of unsuccessful businesses, to understand the criteria with which some of these decisions have been made, and gain an understanding of when and if there will be further support for the sector through cultural funding, as we are losing important businesses and people every day".

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Snapchat rolls out its music library feature
Snapchat last week rolled out globally the music feature it launched in Australia and New Zealand earlier this summer. It means that users of the iOS version of Snapchat can now easily add music to their videos within the app, selecting tracks from a catalogue of top tunes.

That functionality was first piloted in Australia and New Zealand after Snapchat secured licensing deals from various record labels and music publishers, including Warner, BMG, Kobalt, Merlin and the publishing side of Universal.

Adding a library of tracks that users can sync into their videos brings Snapchat in line with rival TikTok, of course. And Instagram too, which likewise now offers such functionality with the Reels tool it rolled out around the world in August.

For the music industry, there are both licensing and marketing benefits when video-sharing apps start adding music libraries of this kind. And with that in mind, it's a positive move that having such libraries in-built is becoming something of a prerequisite for such apps.

As for the next audio innovation on Snapchat's agenda, when announcing the roll out of its Sounds music library last week the app company also stated: "Beyond music, we're also testing the ability for Snapchatters to create their own sounds and add them to Snaps - this will be rolling out globally in the coming months".

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Artists customise Fender Stratocasters for The Big Issue
The Big Issue has announced an auction of Fender Stratocaster guitars customised by 21 artists, including Goldie, Jamie Reid, Joana Vasconcelos, Joe Rush and Lauren Baker.

"We are delighted to be working with Creative Giants and The Auction Collective on this hugely exciting event", says Big Issue MD Russell Blackman. "The Big Art Auction comes off the back of an idea originally sparked from a kind donation from the legendary guitar manufacturer Fender and the timing couldn't be better".

"With footfall down in previously busy high streets across the UK, it's very tough out there at the moment for Big Issue sellers", he continues. "The Big Art Auction, with these truly one-off works of art, will raise urgently-needed funds to ensure we can continue to support our sellers, both now and in the future".

The auction will be livestreamed on 4 Nov, with registrations to bid open until the day before. Find out more and see the guitars here.

You can watch a video introduction to the auction here.

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Bauer seeks to extend Hits Radio network by getting Sam FM Bristol's licence remit changed
Bauer Media is hoping to plough on with the consolidation of its local radio network by asking media regulator OfCom to change the licence remit of Bristol station Sam FM. If successful, the station will rebrand as Hits Radio.

Bauer acquired four rival radio groups in the UK last year significantly boosting its portfolio of local stations. Then earlier this year it relaunched many of the stations it had acquired as local outposts of its Greatest Hits Radio network. Four others retained their existing names, but became part of Bauer's Hits Radio network, with most programmes coming from a national hub.

However, three of the acquired stations were pretty much unaffected by the big revamp, retaining both their local brand and local programmes. One of those was Sam FM Bristol, which came to Bauer via its acquisition of Celador Radio. However, if OfCom allows a remit change for that station's FM licence, it will also become part of the Hits Radio network, and actually take the name Hits Radio.

That will require the regulator allowing the Sam FM frequency to switch from being "an adult alternative station playing adult-oriented album tracks, classic rock and predominantly non-contemporary pop/rock hits, with particular appeal for 35-59 year olds", to "a station playing current hits and the best hits from the past 20 years with local news and information appealing to a 25-44 year old audience in the Bristol area".

If OfCom allows the change, it will be the second station in Bauer's Hits Radio network to actually operate under the name Hits Radio, alongside that network's Manchester outpost. Although the Hits Radio brand also exists on FM in the Southampton and Portsmouth area via a station actually operated by Nation Broadcasting which licenses in the Bauer brand and networked programming.

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Setlist: Parliament probes the economics of streaming
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the announcement that the culture select committee of the UK Parliament is opening an inquiry into the economics of music streaming, and the music industry's positive response to the number of venues, festivals and other music organisations who will receive support from the Culture Recovery Fund.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here, and sign up to receive new episodes for free automatically each week through any of these services...

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Brian Wilson and Al Jardine distance themselves for Beach Boys performance at Trump fundraiser
Brian Wilson and Al Jardine have distanced themselves from a fundraising event for Donald Trump's re-election bid, after it emerged that it was being headlined by Mike Love's Beach Boys.

With the fundraiser taking place yesterday in Newport Beach, California, it came to wider attention yesterday morning that the Mike Love-fronted iteration of the band was set to perform at the event following a report in the LA Times. Tickets to the fundraiser cost between $2,800 and $150,000.

Asked for comment by Variety, Wilson and Jardine said in a statement: "We have absolutely nothing to do with the Trump benefit today in Newport Beach. Zero. We didn't even know about it and were very surprised to read about it in the Los Angeles Times".

Love has toured his version of The Beach Boys - of which he is the only original member - for many years, of course. He did join Wilson and Jardine for a 50th anniversary tour in 2012, although he subsequently returned to his other version of the band without his fellow original members. Leading to a dispute over whether or not he'd fired Wilson and Jardine.

It was generally agreed that he hadn't, with Wilson saying: "As far as I know I can't be fired – that wouldn't be cool". However, Wilson also said, "what's confusing is that, by Mike not wanting or letting [us] tour with the band, it sort of feels like we're being fired".

This is not the first time Jardine and Wilson have clashed with Love over the events he chooses to align the Beach Boys name with. In February this year, they protested over a performance at the Safari Club International's annual convention, with Wilson saying in a statement: "This organisation supports trophy hunting, which both Al and I are emphatically opposed to. There's nothing we can do personally to stop the show, so please join us in signing the petition [against it]".

Love has lent his support to Trump a number of times in the past, including performing at one of his presidential inauguration balls in 2017.

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Rapper arrested after releasing track about filing false benefit claims
A US rapper who bragged on a track about getting rich by defrauding a government unemployment benefits scheme has been arrested for, er, defrauding a government unemployment benefits scheme. He is accused of stealing more than $1.2 million in benefits by using stolen identities.

Nuke Bizzle - real name Fontrell Antonio Baines - released the track 'EDD' (which is the acronym for California's Employment Development Department) last month. A collaboration with fellow rapper Fat Wizza, the video shows the two performers waving around envelopes (seemingly containing fraudulently obtained cheques) and wads of cash. On the track, they brag that while other rappers "gotta sell cocaine", they make money simply by filing false benefit claims online.

Baines was actually arrested late last month, it was announced last week. He has been charged with specifically defrauding the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance scheme, which was set up to support people who have lost jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic who would not usually be eligible for such benefits - including self-employed workers. His first court appearance took place on Friday.

As well as bragging about the illegal get rich quick scheme in a music video, prosecutors claim that Baines also boasted about it on two Instagram accounts. When arrested, he is said to have been in possession of seven debit cards in other people's names - including victims of identity theft.

A disclaimer in the description of the 'EDD' video says that it was "created with props and was made for entertainment purposes" - although it's not clear when this was added. In an Instagram post over the weekend, Fat Wizza denied that what he and Nuke Bizzle rap about on the track reflects reality, claiming that he doesn't even have a bank account.

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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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