THURSDAY 18 MARCH 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Talent agency Paradigm is selling its music division in the US to LA-based sports marketing and talent management firm Wasserman. Rumours that such a sale was being considered first circulated last spring as Paradigm, like all booking agencies, faced the significant challenges posed by COVID-19... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Paradigm sells its music division to Wasserman
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LEGAL Alan Parsons retains preliminary injunction over former business partner accused of trademark infringement
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DEALS Hipgnosis acquires songs catalogue of Carole Bayer Sager
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Atlas Artists partners with Parlophone
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MEDIA BBC Two announces new Britney Spears documentary
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RELEASES Laura Mvula announces return with "the album I always wanted make"
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ONE LINERS Westlife, Holly Humberstone, The Weeknd, more
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AND FINALLY... Ariana Grande, Post Malone and more to release long and boring remixes of recent hits to put you to sleep
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A ten step guide to the challenges facing the streaming business in 2020
Collective Licensing In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the collective licensing system
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Paradigm sells its music division to Wasserman
Talent agency Paradigm is selling its music division in the US to LA-based sports marketing and talent management firm Wasserman. Rumours that such a sale was being considered first circulated last spring as Paradigm, like all booking agencies, faced the significant challenges posed by COVID-19.

Confirming his deal with the sports and media business of Casey Wasserman yesterday, Paradigm CEO Sam Gores said: "This agreement is a win for all parties and a vital step on the restructuring path we embarked upon more than a year ago. It represents an important transition for the incredible music agents of Paradigm and the artists they so brilliantly serve".

"We are huge fans of Casey Wasserman and the company he's built", Gores added, "and I am very pleased that he and his team will be at the helm of this important business line. It's both thrilling and bittersweet to reach this agreement, transition to a new era for Paradigm, and initiate a stabilising solution during a global pandemic that has created an existential crisis for our industry".

Although all booking agencies were forced to make tricky decisions as COVID pushed the live industry into shutdown a year ago, the decisions made by Paradigm - and, even more so, the way they were communicated - garnered more criticism than most, with one former employee filing an explosive lawsuit. However, as the criticism mounted, Gores did subsequently seek to placate his critics somewhat and provide extra support to his laid off staff.

Talk of a deal with Wasserman first emerged shortly after all that shenanigans. Although most established in the sports sector, the Wasserman company has been expanded its interests into other areas of the media and entertainment sectors in more recent years. It's thought the Paradigm music team will former a new standalone unit within the group, most likely called Wasserman Music.

Back at Paradigm, Gores has also told staff that the company is seeking "strategic partners" for its other divisions working in film, TV, theatre and literature, more details of which will be revealed at a later date.

As for the Wasserman deal, that is expected to close during the second quarter of this year.

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Alan Parsons retains preliminary injunction over former business partner accused of trademark infringement
The Eleventh Circuit court of appeal in the US has upheld a preliminary injunction in the ongoing dispute between musician and producer Alan Parsons and his former business partner John Regna.

Having first built his reputation via studio work with the likes of The Beatles and Pink Floyd, Parsons enjoyed success in the 1970s and 1980s through his creative partnership with the late Eric Woolfson. That collaboration used the moniker The Alan Parsons Project.

Between 2009 and 2018, Parsons pursued various solo projects via his partnership with Regna's company World Entertainment Associates Of America. However, the two men ended their alliance in 2018 because, according to Parsons, of "Regna's erratic and intolerable behaviour".

After they stopped working together, Regna put together a live show featuring session musicians who worked with the Alan Parsons Project back in the day and then started promoting that show using variations of Parsons' brand.

That led to litigation filed by Parsons in January last year, accusing Regna of infringing his trademarks, breaching past contracts and participating in unfair competition in a way that has "caused and is causing Parsons many millions of dollars in actual damages".

Parsons also stressed that the performers involved in Regna's shows were simply work-for-hire musicians who had no actual claim to the Alan Parsons Project name.

Regna tried to have the lawsuit dismissed on jurisdiction grounds. His dispute with Parsons actually began in Europe when he staged one of his session musician shows in Barcelona. Parsons had sought an injunction to stop that concert through the Spanish courts, and Regna had responded with his own legal filing in the UK.

On that basis, Regna's lawyers argued that, with litigation ongoing in London, a district court in Florida should not intervene.

However, the district court disagreed, with the judge pointing out: "Here there are two US defendants (Regna and WEAA) who are allegedly violating US trademarks by: running their business in the US, soliciting former musicians to play in an 'imposter band' in the US, maintaining infringing internet domains in the US, and drafting and sending emails from the US to solicit infringing bookings".

Shortly after declining to dismiss Parsons' lawsuit, the district court also granted the musician a preliminary injunction that banned Regna from making use of any of the Parsons trademarks when promoting his shows.

Regna quickly sought to appeal that injunction, taking the matter to the Eleventh Circuit. He noted that, in order to secure the preliminary injunction, Parsons was - among other things - required to demonstrate that there was "a substantial likelihood" that he would be successful in his wider trademark infringement lawsuit.

Parsons hadn't met that requirement, Regna argued, because "Parsons lacks standing to sue for infringement of the Parsons marks" and Regna himself "is entitled to a nominative fair use defence".

The first point relates to whether or not Parsons has trademark rights for Regna to infringe. Both the district court and the Eleventh Circuit have now concurred that he does. They also rejected an argument that a deal Parsons did with Woolfson back in the day saw him assign away those rights, concluding that that agreement only related to certain recorded music projects.

As for the nominative fair use defence in US trademark law, Regna claimed that "his use of the Parsons marks was limited to references to the historical associations between [the musicians he hired] and The Alan Parsons Project". So, his use of the Parsons name was a simple statement of fact, and therefore should be covered by the fair use exclusion under trademark rules.

Both the district court and the Eleventh Circuit relied on a test for the nominative fair use defence crafted in the Ninth Circuit appeals court. That says the defence can be used if "[the] plaintiff's product or service is not readily identifiable without use of the trademark; defendants used only so much of the mark as is reasonably necessary to identify the plaintiff's product or services; and the user of the mark does nothing that would, in conjunction with the mark, suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder".

The Eleventh Circuit then concluded: "Regna failed to satisfy that test because he failed to establish that he 'did nothing that would, in conjunction with the mark, suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder'. As the district court noted, 'the band names and descriptions used by Regna are carefully crafted to draw a close, unmistakable association with The Alan Parsons Project to a degree unwarranted by the historical record'".

With all that in mind, the appeals court ruled that the preliminary injunction against Regna should stand.

For his part, Parsons asked that the Eleventh Circuit deem this dispute an 'exceptional case', because if it did he would be able to recover his legal costs in relation to the appeal from Regna. However, the appeal judges declined to do that at this time, given the wider dispute continues at the district court level.

Noting precedent that says district courts are best equipped to "determine whether a case is 'exceptional' ... considering the totality of the circumstances", the Eleventh Circuit said: "In light of the preliminary stage of this litigation, we decline to determine in the first instance whether this case is an 'exceptional' one, and we leave that determination to the district court".

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Hipgnosis acquires songs catalogue of Carole Bayer Sager
The good old Hipgnosis Songs Fund has acquired the catalogue of songwriter Carole Bayer Sager because, well, why the hell not? After all, the deal covers classic songs like 'A Groovy Kind Of Love', 'Nobody Does It Better' and 'That's What Friends Are For'.

"This is one of the most important deals we have ever made", says Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis. "Carole's iconic songs have been making the world go around for more than 55 years. She has an elegance with words that has made these songs universal and they are not only enormously successful but truly beloved all over the globe. It's very special to welcome Carole to the Hipgnosis family and it's an honour to now be the custodians of these incredible songs that are of genuine cultural importance".

Bayer Sager adds: "In speaking with Merck, I was surprised to find how intimately acquainted he was with my catalogue of songs. Hearing his plans to keep these songs alive and bring them to a new generation of listeners excited me and convinced me now was the right time to allow a new custodian to take charge of their future. With Merck and his Hipgnosis family, I feel my songs are going to be nurtured and cared for. I look forward to yet another wonderful collaboration".

Bayer Sager's first hit was 'A Groovy Kind Of Love', written for The Mindbenders in 1965 while she was still in high school. Since then, her songs have been performed by acts including Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond, Bette Midler, Celine Dion, Phil Collins and Rod Stewart. She also released three albums in the 1970s as a recording artist in her own right.

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Atlas Artists partners with Parlophone
Warner's Parlophone Records has announced a new joint venture with the label side of management firm Atlas Artists. It will see Atlas handling A&R responsibilities for its roster of artists, while Parlophone will provide marketing and distribution services. The first acts to work with the two companies under the partnership are Kam-Bu, New Familiar and Rachel Chinouriri.

Duncan Ellis and Ben Smallwood of Atlas Artists say: "Parlophone feels like a natural and perfect partner for us. We're incredibly proud of the company we've built so far and by tapping into Parlophone's expertise and global footprint, the potential for our artists is limitless".

Getting in on the joint statement game, co-Presidents of Parlophone Records, Mark Mitchell and Nick Burgess, add: "Atlas has a proven ability to identify and develop some of the UK's most unique and fascinating talent. Duncan and Ben's outlook and company culture is very similar to ours and that was important to us. Parlophone is, and always will be, artist-focused and through this partnership we can supercharge their incredible roster on a global stage. We are very proud to welcome them into the Parlophone family".

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BBC Two announces new Britney Spears documentary
BBC Two has announced a new documentary investigating Britney Spears' conservatorship, made by journalist Mobeen Azhar. It will seek to explain the legal guardianship she has been under since 2008, as well as speaking to people involved in the #FreeBritney movement who argue that she should be released from the conservatorship and be allowed to again manage her own affairs.

"I went to LA in search of the truth of how Britney Spears, one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, ended up in a conservatorship", says Azhar of a journey that began last August. "I found myself in a world of lawyers, superfans and paparazzi and spent time with many of the people who've had a front row seat in Britney's life. This film taps into the energy of the #FreeBritney movement and questions the industry, fandom and the laws that facilitate conservatorships".

Azhar's film follows US documentary 'Framing Britney Spears', made by the New York Times and aired on FX and Hulu. That film looks at Britney's treatment in and by the media, and also examines the controversial conservatorship system.

The new film has the working title 'Britney' and is set to air this spring.

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Approved: Alewya
Having built a following through live work and SoundCloud, Shy FX protege Alewya released her first proper release, the single 'Sweating', last summer. That also followed a guest appearance on 'Where's My Lighter' from Little Simz's 'Drop 6' EP. The latest established name to be drawn to her impressive talent is Moses Sumney, who joins her on new single 'The Code'.

"My favourite moments in the studio are those when the flow is seamless and doesn't need to be explained", says Sumney. "We made 'The Code' within minutes of jamming together and it was just that, seamless. I knew we would have great musical chemistry and it's been refreshing to work with someone as open, brave and inquisitive as Alewya. I know she has so much more great music to come".

Alewya adds: "This track came so naturally. Moses has a way of understanding musical language and weeding it out of you - I was truly grateful for it. 'The Code' is essentially a song sung by the observer in me observing the shadow of me. [It] captures what we as a collective and individually are going through - an intense dark night of the soul".

Although guitar is her primary instrument, Alewya weaves together a huge variety of sounds, from grime to east African folk to grunge to Arabic devotional music to dub. It all comes together with an effortless feel and infectious energy that is undeniable.

Watch the performance video for 'The Code' here.

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

Laura Mvula announces return with "the album I always wanted make"
Laura Mvula has announced that she will release her third album, 'Pink Noise', this summer. It came together, she says, after a period of disillusionment and plans to leave the music industry entirely. Instead, she made "the album I always wanted to make".

"Three years ago I knew I'd made a promise I couldn't keep", she explains. "After two albums, I was sure I had nothing to say. I felt like 'Sing To The Moon' was just a happy accident anyway, so I looked for teaching posts in Hackney. I began to accept that I was 'too old to be pop' and 'no longer relevant enough to break through'".

"I couldn't be bothered publicly 'failing again'", she goes on, commenting on the relatively poor commercial performance of her nevertheless critically acclaimed second album 'The Dreaming Room'. Its disappointing sales compared to her debut 'Sing To The Moon' led to Mvula being dropped by Sony Music in 2017.

"I sought comfort in deeply patient friends and family", she says. "I practised feeling that feeling - the need to be safe, the need to escape. I fuelled up on my favourite music of the past and spent days, weeks, months hovered over my hardly-a-home-studio: a laptop, midi keyboard and USB mic. And then, sat in my PJs, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, a new chapter was born - 'Safe Passage' was here".

'Safe Passage' being the single she released earlier this month, and the opening track of the new album.

"This is the album I always wanted to make", she continues. "Every corner is made warm with sunset tones of the 80s. I was born in 1986. I came out of the womb wearing shoulder pads. I absorbed the dynamism of the 80s aesthetic right from my first moments on this planet. Wrestling with identity seems to be one of the rites of passage of the established artist. Making 'Pink Noise' felt like the most violent of emotional wrestling matches".

"It took three years of waiting and waiting and fighting and dying and nothingness and then finally an explosion of sound", she adds. "As if it was always here, this record is my most honest and unapologetic flying of the freedom flag. In my adult years, I had forgotten how important dance was to me as a vital tool of my creative expression. I brought it back, just for me, so I could find my delight in dance again. And now I can't stop dancing. I can't wait to play this album live".

Alongside the announcement that 'Pink Noise' will be out on 2 Jul through Warner's Atlantic label, comes new single 'Church Girl'.

"I am not my story", she says of the inspiration for the song. "For so long I identified as the things that happen in my life, the things I do, good or bad. I'm letting go of this mind-made 'me'. I'm coming home to myself beyond the realm of form. I am not the thoughts in my head, or the things I achieve, or the shape of my haircut. I no longer 'dance with the devil' on my back. I'm basking in the light of knowing my true self, the deeper 'I'".

Listen to 'Church Girl' here.

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DEALS

Warner Music's EastWest label has signed Westlife. "We have found a record label that shares the same energy and high ambitions as the four of us, in what will be a very busy year, where there will be some surprise announcements and of course new music", say the band.

Holly Humberstone has signed a new record deal with various Universal labels and imprints: specifically Polydor Records, Interscope Records and Darkroom. "She's a creative tour de force", says Polydor co-President Tom March. "Holly is a once in a lifetime artist", adds other co-President Ben Mortimer. "Holly has a singular voice and distinctive aesthetic", agrees Interscope Geffen A&M CEO John Janick. "Holly is an incredible artist with such unique talent", comments Darkroom CEO Justin Lubliner, who is also "THRILLED".

Distiller Music Group has signed a new label services deal with Believe, covering international distribution and marketing. "We have had a good relationship with the team at Believe for some time so when the opportunity arose to work together it didn't take us long to agree a really interesting deal", says Distiller CEO John Thompson. "We also know they understand our roster and are going to support our artists internationally and that's the main thing for us".

Sentric Music Group has signed singer-songwriter Tom Speight to an exclusive songwriting agreement. "I know I'm in safe hands with them and believe we're going to do something very special together", he says.

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APPOINTMENTS

Paul Williams has joined UK collecting society PPL as Senior Corporate Communications Manager. The former Music Week editor was previously VP Communications at Sony/ATV.

Hannah Pehi has been appointed to the newly created position of Head of People And Culture, Australasia at Warner Music Australia. "I am looking forward to being a part of the Warner Music story, working alongside talented, creative, forces of nature that will help to shape the future of music not just in Australia and New Zealand but across the globe", she says.

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LABELS & PUBLISHERS

A new label has launched seeking to bridge the gap between the music industry and the gaming and esports domain. Offmeta will offer the usual services of a label for the artists it signs, but with an added focus on seeking partnerships in the gaming space. It will also offer services to other labels and brands pursuing projects that bring together music, gaming and digital culture in general. The company has been founded by Jannis Wenderholm, formerly of Universal Music, and artist manager Line Rindvig. Its first project is with Canadian artist bbno$.

African music distribution company Freeme Digital has launched Freeme+, which will provide A&R, marketing, sync licensing and publishing services for independent African rightsholders. "As the pace around the world picks up for African music, Freeme Music and Freeme+ will be at the forefront of finding new artists and future global stars from the continent and bringing them to worldwide recognition and success", says Freeme CEO Michael Ugwu.

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LIVE BUSINESS

Former senior assistant at WME, Dan Owens, has launched new booking agency Loud Artists, specialising in punk, rock and metal. "With the industry facing its greatest challenges ahead, small to mid-level artists really need an agent in their corner to fight for them and to make them their priority", says Owens. "We're entering a new phase for live music and Loud Artists are perfectly positioned to embrace the change".

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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES

Universal Music and African streaming service Boomplay have expanded their licensing deal to cover 47 countries across the continent. "Since our original deal with UMG, the African music industry has seen exponential growth and made huge strides towards being the next powerhouse that it should be", says Boomplay's Director Of Content & Strategy, Phil Choi. "We're excited to continue partnering with the UMG team to help promote their African and international artists by bringing their catalogue to even more regions across Africa".

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RELEASES

The Weeknd rose to fame a decade ago with a trilogy of independently released mixtapes that were both excellent and free. Then he signed to Universal, which promptly remixed and remastered them all for a repackaged release, in the process making them sound absolutely terrible. Thankfully, for the tenth anniversary of the first of those mixtape releases, 'House Of Balloons', this Sunday it's going to be made available on streaming services, he says, "in its original incarnation with the original mixes and samples". Praise the flippin' lord. Now the other two as well, please.

Squid have released new single 'Paddling'. "Written from two different perspectives, 'Paddling' is a song about the dichotomy between simple pleasures and decadent consumerism", say the band. "Recounting a familiar scene from 'Wind In The Willows', the song reminds us that although we are humans, we are ultimately animals that are driven by both modern and primal instincts, leading to vanity and machismo around us in the everyday".

FEMM have released new single 'Sugar Rush'. The duo comment: "Girl in love. That's all we have to say. Sweet and bitter is the vibe. Kinda tickles, but really raw".

Lydia Ainsworth has announced that she will release new album 'Sparkles & Debris' on 21 May. "Longing seems to be a major theme running through my songs on this album", she says. "Whether that is longing in love, longing to be free from oppression, or longing for the muse of inspiration to make an appearance". Here's new single 'Parade'.

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GIGS & TOURS

Dream Wife have announced UK tour dates in March and April next year. Tickets and full dates here.

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

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Ariana Grande, Post Malone and more to release long and boring remixes of recent hits to put you to sleep
Extended remixes of tracks are generally designed to keep their excitement up for longer. However, for Universal's new partnership with mediation app Calm, the plan is to make songs more boring to the point of sending you to sleep. Think you couldn't get tired of Post Malone's 'Circles'? Well, let's see how far into an hour long version you can make it.

Other artists who have agreed to have their songs turned into a snooze-fest are Ariana Grande, Jhene Aiko, Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry, Luis Fonsi and Shawn Mendes. They will also have new 60 minute, chill out versions of some of their hits launched exclusively in the Calm app tomorrow, coinciding with World Sleep Day.

"Calm Music works to harness the incredible power of music to enhance our members' mental wellness experience", says Courtney Phillips, Calm's Head Of Music. "We're proud to partner with the world's leading music company to create this unique series that pushes mainstream music boundaries beyond the traditional radio edit, giving fans beautiful, dreamy tracks to help them drift off to sleep".

Cynthia Sexton, EVP Music Curation at Universal, adds: "Together with this incredible group of artists, we were able to create true 60 minute versions of their songs and give Calm subscribers and music fans a new way to rest and relax. This initiative is a wonderful example of how we are working with our artists to create new commercial opportunities by reimagining music and providing fans with new ways to enjoy their favourite songs".

The reworked tracks you will hopefully hear very little of (if they do their job properly) are:

Ariana Grande - Breathin
Jhene Aiko - While We Were Young
Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
Katy Perry - Double Rainbow
Luis Fonsi - Sola
Post Malone - Circles
Shawn Mendes - Wonder

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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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