TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Ivors Academy and Musicians' Union have launched a new campaign urging songwriters and composers writing music for TV and film productions, or advertising campaigns, to be wary of deals that involve them assigning all the rights in their work to the studio or agency that commissions them. Such deals are known as complete buyouts, and the new Ivors/MU campaign is titled - simply - Composers Against Buyouts... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Ivors Academy and Musicians' Union launch campaign against buyouts when music is commissioned for TV, film and ads
LEGAL Jane Petty's revised lawsuit over Universal's warehouse fire dismissed
Bob Dylan asks court to dismiss Jacques Levy estate lawsuit over Universal deal

LABELS & PUBLISHERS Vivendi shareholders approve Universal Music IPO
MEDIA HipHopDX to launch new Asia-focussed website
RELEASES Ghetto Priest announces covers album
ONE LINERS Arlo, BRIT Awards, Nils Frahm, more
AND FINALLY... Nike launches lawsuit over Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes
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Ivors Academy and Musicians' Union launch campaign against buyouts when music is commissioned for TV, film and ads
The UK's Ivors Academy and Musicians' Union have launched a new campaign urging songwriters and composers writing music for TV and film productions, or advertising campaigns, to be wary of deals that involve them assigning all the rights in their work to the studio or agency that commissions them. Such deals are known as complete buyouts, and the new Ivors/MU campaign is titled - simply - Composers Against Buyouts.

When music-makers are commissioned to create music bespoke for an audio-visual project, a key question is who will own both the song rights and the recording rights that are created.

The music-maker could seek to retain ownership of all the rights, and then provide the commissioning producer with a licence covering all direct use of the music in the production it is being commissioned for. That would then give the music-maker control over any future use of the music outside the original production, and might also generate extra royalties for the composer when even the original production is broadcast or screened.

However, many studios and agencies now seek ownership of at least some of the rights in the music they are commissioning. Though to date, even when that is the case, the performing rights on the songs side would be excluded. Those would instead be assigned to the music-maker's collecting society which would collect royalties every time the music is broadcast, screened or streamed, including in the original production the music was commissioned for.

In more recent years though, some broadcasters, especially in the US, have been seeking complete buyouts, where they would control the performing rights in the song as well as the mechanical rights and the recording rights. In 2019 it emerged that Discovery Networks in the US was pressuring such deals on the music-makers it works with, although it backtracked on making such arrangements compulsory after a backlash in the music community.

Nevertheless, such deals are becoming more common in the US. Technically, any songwriter or composer that is a member of a collecting society outside of America can't sign up to such an arrangement, as at least the performing rights in all their music automatically goes to their society. However, it's feared such deals will still become increasingly common, particularly as broadcasting becomes an increasingly global digital-centric business.

A songwriter-led campaign against complete buyouts in the US called Your Music Your Future recently launched a global version of its website in partnership with CISAC, the international organisation for song right collecting societies. Ivors and the MU are following their lead with a UK-centric campaign. The two organisations reckon that a key part of this is educating music-makers about the ins and outs of commissions, copyright deals and buyouts, so that they know what to look out for when assessing and negotiating deals.

Launching Composers Against Buyouts, Ivors and MU say in a joint statement: "Composers for TV, film and advertising are increasingly being asked to sell their work for an upfront fee, a buyout, which means they lose out on royalties over time".

"The Academy and MU are standing with media composers against such short-sighted business practices and calling for rights to be respected. The campaign aims to raise awareness amongst media composers, provide educational support to composers at the start of their career, and set standards when composers are commissioned by broadcasters".

Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies adds: "As a community of composers and songwriters, The Ivors Academy has long opposed buyouts and championed royalties. Our campaign aims to empower and support media composers to successfully negotiate with commissioners and sustain their careers".

Meanwhile, Ivors member and music-maker Hannah Peel says: "Understanding the business of composing is complicated, with composers on all different types of contracts. It's so important that we educate ourselves and each other about what to look out for so we can make a living and sustain our careers".

And composer David Arnold comments: "Music brings films and programmes to life and creates an emotional connection like nothing else. It may not be visible, but it is truly tangible, and the people that create this amazing music should have their rights protected, not eroded".


Jane Petty's revised lawsuit over Universal's warehouse fire dismissed
The latest attempt by Tom Petty's ex-wife Jane to secure a cut of the damages and insurance pay-out received by Universal Music in relation to a 2008 fire at an LA warehouse has failed. Though this time Jane Petty's lawsuit was dismissed based not on her late husband's 1984 record deal, but on a marital agreement the couple signed in 1988.

Various artists went legal following a 2019 New York Times article about the 2008 fire at the LA storage unit used by Universal. That article alleged that the blaze had been much more significant than reported at the time, that thousands of master recordings had been lost, and that the major didn't communicate those losses to affected artists, despite seeking damages for itself from the storage unit's owner and claiming on an insurance policy.

The class action lawsuit initially filed in relation to the fire had five named plaintiffs: Hole, Soundgarden and Steve Earle, plus Jane Petty and the estate of Tupac Shakur. However, most of the claimants voluntarily removed themselves from the litigation, mainly after becoming convinced that they were not actually negatively impacted by the fire, due to there being back-ups of any recordings lost.

In the end, only Petty remained as a plaintiff. Which meant Tom Petty's 1984 record deal with the MCA label, which later became part of Universal Music, fell under the spotlight. The key question was whether Petty's royalty rights as defined in that deal also gave him a right to share in any damages or insurance payments resulting from the destruction of the master tapes created under the deal.

Last April a judge ruled that Petty's lawyers had not presented a sufficiently strong case that that deal provided any right to share in the damages and insurance money. However, she was told that she could resubmit an amended lawsuit. Which she then did.

However, this time, when the judge got to assessing Petty's amended litigation, a different set of questions were posed. Although it was originally widely reported that it was the Petty estate that was involved in this lawsuit, Jane Petty was actually suing in her own right. Because, although she and Tom Petty divorced in 1996, a 1988 agreement between the couple gave her 50% of the rights stemming from his MCA record deal.

However, according to Billboard, last May - after the original lawsuit had been dismissed on record deal grounds - Universal discovered a clause in the Pettys' marital agreement which basically said that only Tom Petty had the right to pursue legal action in relation to the music rights covered by the 1988 contract. Jane Petty countered that it was "implied" that she had been granted the rights to pursue legal action on her late ex-husband's behalf. But, Billboard reports, the judge considering the case did not accept that argument.

The clause in the martial agreement stating that only Tom Petty could enforce his music rights through the courts, the judge stated, "cannot be cancelled, modified, amended or waived, in part or in full, in any manner except by an instrument in writing signed by the party to be charged or by the Family Law Court judge".

Needless to say - even though the big warehouse fire lawsuit was dismissed for a second time based on some very specific technicalities, rather than by the court interpreting more common record contract clauses - Universal has welcomed this latest ruling.

A spokesperson told Billboard: "The court today definitively rejected the plaintiffs' case. This is the second dismissal of a lawsuit spurred by the inaccurate and misleading reporting of the New York Times. At this point, The New York Times has a responsibility to explain why its editors continue to stand behind a story that has been disproven with incontrovertible evidence from both UMG and many of the artists named in the story".


Bob Dylan asks court to dismiss Jacques Levy estate lawsuit over Universal deal
Bob Dylan is seeking to dismiss litigation filed by the estate of former collaborator Jacques Levy, which claims it is due a cut of the reported $300 million Dylan secured last year when he sold his songs catalogue to Universal. Not so, Dylan's lawyers responded in a new legal filing last week. Levy collaborated with Dylan on a work-for-hire basis, so - while he enjoyed a royalty right over the songs he co-wrote - he did not have a stake in any of the copyrights.

The estate of Jacques Levy sued both Dylan and Universal Music Publishing back in January following last year's headline-grabbing catalogue acquisition deal.

It argued that while Levy did have what was officially a work-for-hire agreement with Dylan when he collaborated on songs that appeared on the 1976 album 'Desire', the terms of that deal went beyond industry standards. That meant that the estate had a rightful claim to a cut of the monies Universal paid to acquire Dylan's catalogue, it reckoned.

Under US law, work-for-hire agreements allow an employer to become the default owner of any copyrights created by an employee under the deal, even if the employer/employee relationship is pretty informal. That means that Dylan owned the copyright outright in his collaborations with Levy, although the agreement nevertheless provided his collaborator with some of the controls and benefits that usually come with being the copyright owner.

In fact, the Levy estate argued, the agreement provided so many controls and benefits that it's misleading to even call it a work-for-hire deal. "The agreement's terms make clear that the agreement is highly atypical of a work-for-hire agreement", the Levy estate's lawsuit noted, "bestowing on plaintiffs considerable significant material rights and material benefits that are not customarily granted to employees-for-hire". So much so, it added, "the label 'work-for-hire' is, in this instance, a misnomer".

To that end, the Levy estate lawsuit went on, the 35% revenue share element of that 1970s agreement should also apply to the monies Dylan received from Universal last year. The lawyers then did some basic maths, reckoning that the Universal deal paid Dylan $500,000 per song, and that the estate should receive 35% of the half a million dollars paid for each of the songs on which Levy was a co-writer.

However, in the new legal filing last week, lawyers for Dylan and Universal argue that, while Levy's work-for-hire agreement may have been unusually generous, it doesn't stop it being a work-for-hire agreement. And that, therefore, makes the Levy estate's claims really easy to disprove. The estate's lawsuit, Dylan's attorneys state, "is an opportunistic attempt to rewrite a 45-year-old contract to obtain a windfall payment that the contract does not allow".

The 1970s deal, they go on, "is a standard work-for-hire agreement between Dylan and Levy. It grants Dylan full ownership of the copyrights in the ten songs on which the two collaborated, making the songs Dylan's 'sole property' and giving him the exclusive right to sell the copyrights".

"The agreement designates Levy as the 'employee' and specifies his compensation as 35% of the royalty payments from Dylan's licensing of the songs for things like TV commercials or performance on the radio", they add. "Nothing in the agreement remotely suggests that the parties agreed to bestow on Levy the windfall plaintiffs demand here".

Moreover, the legal filing then notes, although last year's deal saw Dylan give up all his rights in his songs catalogue, that doesn't affect any collaborators due royalties under old work-for-hire agreements. Universal is aware of those old deals and is taking on those royalty commitments. Therefore the Levy estate, unlike Dylan himself, will continue to earn royalties when the 'Desire' songs are exploited.

"In exchange for a lump-sum payment, Dylan gave up 'all of [his] rights with respect to every song in [his] catalogue', including all future licensing income he would have received as the owner", last week's legal filing confirms. "As a result, Dylan no longer owns the copyrights or has any right to royalties from their exploitation".

However, "Dylan ensured that plaintiffs retained their rights to future royalty income. As plaintiffs concede, Universal knew that its purchase of Dylan's catalogue came with certain 'obligations, inter alia, to account and pay to plaintiffs [and to other collaborators with royalty rights] all funds due pursuant to' Dylan's preexisting royalty arrangements with those collaborators".

"Dylan thus extinguished his own rights in the songs at the same time he made sure that plaintiffs' right to compensation from future uses of the songs was preserved".

With all that in mind, the Dylan and Universal team conclude, the Levy estate's lawsuit should be dismissed with prejudice.


Vivendi shareholders approve Universal Music IPO
Shareholders in Universal Music owner Vivendi have approved the plan that will result in the music major being listed on the Euronext stock exchange in Amsterdam.

Vivendi announced more details about its plan to IPO the Universal Music Group last month, after Chinese web giant Tencent completed its deal to increase its stake in the music company from 10% to 20%. At the time Vivendi said that, the completion of that deal, and the accompanying valuation of UMG, "have now enabled the management board to consider a distribution of 60% of UMG's share capital to Vivendi shareholders".

That would be achieved via the IPO. "The listing of the shares of UMG, a holding company currently being incorporated in the Netherlands, would be applied for on the regulated market of Euronext NV in Amsterdam", the Vivendi board then added.

But, it also confirmed at the time, that plan needed shareholder approval. An Extraordinary General Shareholders' Meeting was held in Paris yesterday.

"Vivendi's Extraordinary General Shareholders' Meeting held today in Paris under the chairmanship of Yannick Bolloré, with a record quorum of 73.33% of shareholders, approved by 99.98% the two resolutions submitted for vote", the company stated yesterday. "The amendment to the by-laws adopted allows Vivendi to now distribute dividends, interim dividends, reserves, or premiums by way of the delivery of assets in kind, including financial securities".

Sounds like fun. "This favourable vote enables the management board to continue to study the planned distribution of 60% of UMG's shares to Vivendi's shareholders", it went on, while Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine added: "The unanimous vote in favour of the two resolutions demonstrates the total support of our shareholders for our strategy".

The IPO is now expected to take place later this year.


HipHopDX to launch new Asia-focussed website
US hip hop website HipHopDX - which was bought by Warner Music last year - has announced the launch of HipHopDX Asia, a new spin-off site that will focus on the genre in Greater China, South East Asia, South Korea and Japan, headed up by Eddy Lim.

"It is about being local and staying true to what hip hop means to us in the US, but from the lens of what it's like to be in, and grow up in, Asia", says HipHopDX founder and CEO Sharath Cherian. "While there is the adoption of US hip hop culture to Asia, it still has its own style, slang, venues and of course its own music. Eddy is taking us on a journey to see it all. It's going to be awesome".

Lim adds: "Taking the legendary HipHopDX brand into Asia is a huge honour for me. There are so many brilliant, original hip hop artists in Asia right now. It feels like the right time to try and break down the barriers between local scenes and help these performers find their place on a global stage".

Prior to joining HipHopDX, Lim headed up Rocketfuel Entertainment, a collection of online entertainment channels in Asia. Video will be a key part of the new HipHopDX Asia site too, with three new strands already planned: 'The Glow Up' will introduce hip hop artists to a wider audience, 'Weekly Rap Up' will summarise the week's news in Asian hip hop, and 'Behind Bars' will analyse the region's biggest hip hop tracks.


Approved: Charmaine
Just three singles deep into her career, Charmaine is already making plenty of headway. She kicked things off last autumn with 'Bold' - a firm statement of intent - before returning with Black Alliance collaboration 'UNITY' in January, and now the superlative 'Woo!'

"I had an amazing time making this record and I want the world to feel how I felt in that moment – free, eager, happy and ready to turn it up", she says of 'Woo!' "This pandemic has removed the opportunity to be able to go out and have a fun night. Hopefully, this record will fill a bit of that void".

With both 'Woo!' and 'Bold' set to appear on her forthcoming debut EP, 'Hood Avant Garde', Charmaine's slick beat choices and sharp tongue are setting her up for wider recognition very soon.

Watch the new video for 'Woo!' here.

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

Ghetto Priest announces covers album
Asian Dub Foundation's Ghetto Priest has announced a new solo album, 'Big People Music', which sees him performing covers of records his parents regularly played when he was growing up.

The album was originally conceived as an EP, made in tribute to Ghetto Priest's late father, but as he remembered more of the songs that had been staples of his childhood, it expanded to a full album. Now it features his own versions of songs including Nat King Cole's 'Nature Boy', Aaron Neville's 'Hercules', The Maytones' 'Madness', and more.

"It's a history lesson in black music", he says. "'Big People Music' looks back on a time when my parents came over to England [from Jamaica in the 1960s]. I was going back into the past to bring these songs into the future. There are lessons to be learned from previous generations".

"Every Sunday was a time for music when I was growing up", he goes on. "In the morning after church, you'd hear the sounds of Jim Reeves, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, a lot of the old classics, and in the afternoon it was reggae. Jamaica has always had a love of blues and R&B. We just put our own twist on it. On 'Big People Music', I wanted to follow that tradition".

The album is set for release on Ramrock Records on 9 Apr. Listen to Ghetto Priest's version of 'Hercules' here.



Arlo has signed to Sony's US-based Arista Records label. "Arlo is an incredible talent, and his approach to his artistry is innovative and original", says Arista CEO David Massey. "We are so happy to have Arlo join the Arista family".



New US mechanical rights collecting society The MLC has hired three new execs. Kristen Johns joins as Chief Legal Officer, Nathan Osher as Assistant General Counsel - Publisher Relations and Andrew Mitchell as Head Of Analytics And Automation. "I am THRILLED to welcome Kristen, Nathan and Andrew to The MLC's growing team", says CEO Kris Ahrend. "Each of them possesses many years of experience in their respective areas of expertise, which will enable them to begin contributing immediately to the important work we are doing".



The BRIT Awards has confirmed its headline sponsor for 2021. And it will be... [drumroll]... [continued drumroll]... [alright, enough of the drumroll now]... Mastercard! Yes, Mastercard is on board for the 23rd year running. Why mess with a winning formula? Amazon Music is also back as digital music partner for the second year. TikTok is back for a second year too, and will this year sponsor the Breakthrough Artist award. BRITs boss Geoff Taylor says everyone's "THRILLED" about all of this.



Nils Frahm has released a 'lost' album, titled 'Graz', to mark this year's Piano Day (which was yesterday). Originally recorded in 2009, the collection of grand piano recordings was shelved in order to focus on the more intimate recordings that eventually featured on his 2011 album 'Felt'.

Daði Freyr has released the video for his new single 'Ten Years', aka Iceland's 2021 Eurovision entry.

Willy Mason has announced that he will release his first album for ten years, titled 'Already Dead', on 6 Aug. Here's new single 'Youth On A Spit'. He's also announced UK tour dates in November.

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


Nike launches lawsuit over Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes
Nike has sued a company called MSCHF over its latest product, a collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X called Satan Shoes. Limited to 666 pairs, the shoes are actually Nike Air Max 97s, but with the air sole filled with red ink and (they claim) one drop of human blood. A pentagram has also been hung off the laces.

Lil Nas X unveiled the modified trainers last week, alongside his new single 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' and its accompanying video, which sees him giving Satan a lapdance. Both the shoes and the video whipped up some controversy among Christian social media users thus ensuring that they went viral quickly - with the rapper gleefully stoking those flames. When the Satan Shoes actually went on sale on Monday, they sold out almost instantly, despite a hefty $1018 price tag.

Nike itself has now sued MSCHF claiming that the unauthorised adaptation of its footwear is damaging its brand. Many of those offended by the shoes, says the lawsuit, believe that Nike was involved in the creation of the product, which it was not. As a result, it is now being accused of promoting Satanism, with calls for a boycott of the brand at large.

"Nike has not [approved] and does not [approve] of MSCHF's customised Satan Shoes", it says. "Moreover, MSCHF and its unauthorised Satan Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF's products and Nike. In fact, there is already evidence of significant confusion and dilution occurring in the marketplace, including calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF's Satan Shoes, based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorised or approved this product".

It also adds that "making changes to the midsole may pose safety risks for consumers". And maybe that's the most Satanic thing about the whole project.

Lil Nas X isn't named as a defendant on the lawsuit, which seeks an immediate injunction against MSCHF, blocking the company from fulfilling orders of the shoes. MSCHF has not yet responded to the legal action, but its CEO Gabe Whaley did previously confirm to AP that Nike "did not have any involvement whatsoever" in the project.

The Satan Shoes are actually a companion to a run of Jesus Shoes sold by MSCHF in 2019, which were launched without incident. Although, MSCHF is a company that seems to focus on products that will launch with some incident. Or at least, that have some gimmick that might send them viral. Which has resulted in them making all sorts of weird nonsense. Have a read of this Business Insider profile.

Meanwhile, Lil Nas X himself may not be a target of Nike's legal action, but that doesn't mean he's not being accused of ripping anyone off. Posting on TikTok last week, director Andrew Thomas Huang pointed out similarities between his video for FKA Twigs' 'Cellophane' and the new video for 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)'. Adding a message to the rapper, he wrote: "Take me off your mood board or hire me".

Expanding on his theme, in an Instagram story post the director explained that Lil Nas X's record label Columbia had actually contacted him about working on a video but had "pivoted away", before hiring the same choreographer who worked on 'Cellophane', Kelly Yvonne.

"Consider the power you wield and the artists you harm when you capitalise on our blood, sweat, tears and emotional labour", he wrote, tagging Lil Nas X, Columbia and Tanu Muino, who co-directed the 'Montero' video with the rapper.

So, even more controversy. What fun. Satan, of course, was unavailable for comment.


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.
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