|TUESDAY 29 JUNE 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Damon Dash has formally responded to legal action by Roc-A-Fella Records - the label he co-founded and co-owns - which seeks to stop him from selling the rights to Jay-Z's debut album 'Reasonable Doubt' via an NFT drop. The court should not issue a motion to that effect, Dash argues, because he has never tried to sell the rights to Jay-Z's debut album 'Reasonable Doubt' via an NFT drop. Oh, and also, the law firm repping Roc-A-Fella should be chucked off the case due to a conflict of interest... [READ MORE]|
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Damon Dash hits back at Roc-A-Fella lawsuit over alleged Reasonable Doubt copyright NFT
Roc-A-Fella - co-owned by Dash, Jay-Z and Kareem Burke - filed legal papers earlier this month, and subsequently secured a temporary injunction. The label claims that Dash tried to sell the rights in 'Reasonable Doubt' via NFT platform SuperFarm. Had that happened, the buyer would have acquired those rights, with the transfer of ownership logged in a non-fungible token on the blockchain. Except those are not Dash's rights to sell.
The sale via SuperFarm was called off, but the label said it suspected Dash would try to stage another auction via another NFT platform. The temporary injunction banned Dash from involving himself in any transaction in anyway connected to the rights in 'Reasonable Doubt', oblivious of whether or not any such transaction involved any kind of NFT nonsense.
Dash initially responded via the legal forum that is TMZ, saying that he'd never tried to sell any of the rights in 'Reasonable Doubt' but had, instead, been seeking to sell his stake in the label. The buyer of that stake wouldn't have direct control over the rights in the album - those would stay with the label, with Jay-Z being in control - but they would get Dash's cut of any money generated.
Because, weirdly, TMZ doesn't actually count as a legal forum, Dash subsequently had his lawyers file papers with the court in New York basically saying the same. Said court, Dash argues, should deny Roc-A-Fella's request for a permanent injunction ordering him to hand over any NFTs he's minted - because he hasn't actually minted any - and banning him from selling his stake in the label - because he's entirely allowed to do that.
The Roc-A-Fella lawsuit, Dash claims, is - in fact - a Jay-Z lawsuit filed "under the guise" of the label. Not only that, but it is "completely meritless" because "Dash never claimed, tried to sell, transfer, assign, or dispose of any interest in the copyright to the 'Reasonable Doubt' album, which is owned by RAF; and, Dash never minted any NFT of the 'Reasonable Doubt' or his one-third interest in RAF".
Dash says that this lawsuit is basically part of an ongoing attempt by Jay-Z to acquire his stake in Roc-A-Fella at a below market rate. "This entire lawsuit", Dash's filing goes on, "is part and parcel of an ongoing course of conduct employed by Jay-Z to prevent Dash from lawfully selling his one-third interest in RAF so that Jay-Z can acquire the same for an amount far below its potential market value".
Elsewhere, Dash's filing states: "It is undisputed that RAF is a corporation formed under the laws of New York with three shareholders: Dash, Jay-Z, and Kareem Burke each owning an equal one third share of RAF. It is equally undisputed that there are no restrictions on any of these three shareholders from freely transferring, encumbering, selling, assigning their interest in RAF".
"Yet despite having actual knowledge that Dash never intended to sell anything other than what he lawfully owned (ie his one third interest in RAF) ... Jay-Z unlawfully caused RAF to file this meritless lawsuit solely on the 'belief that Dash has already minted an NFT, which he intends to sell through another auction or some other means as soon as possible'. Nevertheless ... he never minted an NFT nor did he claim to own a 100% interest in the 'Reasonable Doubt' copyright".
"So the bottom line is simple", the filing goes on, "neither Jay-Z nor RAF can preclude the sale of Dash’s one third interest as Jay-Z does not own said interest and RAF has no restrictions on the transfer, assignment or disposal of such interest".
Therefore, Dash's argument goes, the court should not issue the permanent injunction Jay-Z wants because his former business partner "seeks to compel Dash to perform actions that are impossible - eg turning over NFTs which were never minted" while at the same time "precluding actions that are plainly lawful - ie selling or transferring off his one-third interest".
Separate to all that, Dash takes issue with the law firm representing Roc-A-Fella in this case, which is Quinn Emmanuel. He argues that Quinn Emmanuel is also personally representing Jay-Z in ongoing corporate governance matters in relation to the operation of the label, and it is therefore a conflict of interest to also be repping the label itself in this dispute with one of its shareholders.
Says Dash's filing: "Because Quinn Emmanuel concurrently represents RAF in this litigation and personally represents Jay-Z in ongoing corporate governance matters related to the operation of RAF, it must be disqualified from further representation in this action as this incurable conflict is prima facie improper under the New York Rules Of Professional Conduct and prevailing case law".
Commenting on the lawsuit, Dash's legal rep Natraj Bhushan told Law360: "The premise this lawsuit is based on is completely false. The real question is: Does Jay-Z have any authority to basically restructure Roc-A-Fella Records or prevent Damon from selling his one-third interest?"
Asked about Dash's claims regarding the lawsuit and his firm's involvement in it, Alex Spiro at Quinn Emmanuel responded: "Nonsense".
IMS says COVID caused a 54% slump in electronic music revenues in 2020
Much of that decline occurred in the live and clubbing side of the sector obviously. IMS researchers note that "more than 200 music festivals were cancelled or postponed, resulting in hundreds and thousands of people out of work and $3.4 billion in value lost, down 78% year on year".
Obviously the slump in revenues on the live side is counter-balanced to an extent by ongoing growth in recorded music caused by the streaming boom. Although, IMS says, electronic music's share of streaming consumption - and therefore revenue - declined in some key markets, including the US (by 11%) and the UK (by 2%). "In spite of this", it writes, "dance recorded music revenues broke $1 billion, driven by a rapid rise in popularity in Germany and a rise in Canada and rest of world".
Some strands of the electronic music sector actually benefited from the COVID-caused lockdown, in particular the DJ software and hardware business which experienced record growth with so many consumers looking for new forms of home entertainment. IMS estimates that this side of the business saw a 23% year-on-year increase to $1.1 billion.
Despite the general doom and gloom, the IMS report includes plenty of optimism, partly because of the anticipated bounce back of the live and clubbing side, and also because of new opportunities in the livestreaming, direct-to-fan and NFT domain. It also notes that the recent growth of the hip hop genre has started to slow, suggesting there may be increased opportunities for other genres like electronic music.
Launching its new report, IMS said in a statement: "Despite the decimation of the global value of the industry, as the world starts to re-emerge and the industry starts to reopen, there are positive messages to be found, as the report also shows there are now huge opportunities for the electronic music industry to mobilise, regrow and capitalise upon, as other musical genres plateau and new direct-to-fan monetisation opportunities such as NFT's increase in popularity - a staggering 76% of all music NFTs worth $50.2m were issued by electronic artists in the last year".
Marilyn Manson agrees to hand himself in to police in assault case
Police in Gilford, New Hampshire said last month that they had an outstanding arrest warrant for the musician. The two charges of "simple assault" relate to an incident involving a videographer when Manson played the Bank Of New Hampshire Pavilion in August 2019. According to reports, Manson spat into the lens of a video camera being used to film the show, also spraying the videographer who subsequently pressed charges.
In a statement to USA Today, Gilford Police Chief Tony Bean Burpee said that the warrant is being forwarded to police in LA, who will then arrange a date for Manson to hand himself in.
"We have been in a holding pattern", said Burpee. "We are simply looking for [Manson] to turn himself in on the active warrant so that we can proceed. If [Manson] turns himself in within the next few weeks, his initial appearance/arraignment will likely be scheduled for mid-August".
When confirming the warrant last month, Gilford Police made a point of saying that the accusations against Manson in this case are "not sexual in nature". This is due to that fact that there have been several accusations of sexual assault made against the musician in recent months, including in two lawsuits.
BMG boss tells signatories of #fixstreaming letter "we are on your side"
That letter was originally sent to UK Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson in April, and was then re-sent earlier this month with additional signatories. The more recent version was signed by more than 230 artists, including The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Chris Martin, Paloma Faith, Brian Eno, Kate Bush, Gary Barlow, Damon Albarn, Van Morrison, Tom Jones and Barry Gibb.
Organised by the Musicians' Union, Ivors Academy and Tom Gray's #brokenrecord campaign, it sets out some key demands that were previously made by artist and songwriter reps during the Economics Of Streaming inquiry undertaken by the culture select committee in Parliament.
A key demand was that so called performer equitable remuneration be added to the making available element of the copyright, meaning performers would be due a minimum cut of streaming income under law, oblivious of their contractural relationship with whoever released a track.
Another was that the UK's Competition & Markets Authority investigate whether the majors being such big players in both recordings and songs impacts on how streaming monies are shared out between the two music rights, possibly unfairly skewing the market.
Record labels in the main oppose the idea of ER being paid on streams, raising various issues with that approach. Although representatives for the indie sector do support and promote deals that are fairer to artists, including encouraging labels to voluntarily offer music-makers on older record contracts - that generally pay lower royalties - better terms more in line with new record deals.
In its submission to the select committee inquiry last year, BMG said that it had taken this approach with the older catalogues it had acquired over the years: "BMG takes the view that in the context of today it is no longer desirable to prolong [old contractural conventions]. We are therefore paying out more money, more quickly than we are contractually obliged to do. We are clear we cannot make good all of the sins of the past, but we are committed to doing what we can to improve".
BMG also told Parliament that it supported a re-slicing of the digital pie to the benefit of songwriters. It said: "The only realistic way for songwriters to increase their income from streaming is for them to receive a greater share of the total pot of money paid by streaming services for the music they use".
Masuch sets out these positions in his note to signatories of the #fixstreaming and #brokenrecord letter. He writes: "I am writing to offer my congratulations for publicly supporting the #brokenrecord campaign for justice for artists and songwriters – and to clarify BMG's position on this topic".
"When we started the new BMG in 2008, we did so with a conviction that the old music business had lost faith with artists and songwriters and it was time for a change", he goes on.
"Since then we have abandoned unjustifiable historic deductions for 'packaging' for streams, we have pioneered new ways of structuring record deals to give artists 75% of revenues rather than the 20% or less common elsewhere, and last year we abandoned the controlled composition deduction on US songwriter royalties hated by songwriters for decades. Last month we announced we are accelerating royalty payments to 20,000 songwriters in our acquired catalogues".
"We are not perfect, but we are determined to make a difference", he adds. "When the UK's [culture] select committee announced its investigation into the economics of music streaming we made our pro-songwriter and pro-artist position clear. In brief, we argue for a radical re-slicing of the streaming pie in favour of artists and songwriters to take account of the new realities of the streaming market. It’s not complicated, but it’s a logic which seems to evade much of the industry".
Concluding, Masuch states: "I want you to know that we are on your side".
WOMAD cancels, blaming lack of government support or guidance
"It is with great regret that we are cancelling WOMAD 21", says Gabriel. "Without the simple support of a government insurance scheme ... we cannot continue and put WOMAD's long term future at risk. We feel that our audience, artists, staff, and contractors, who have been amazingly supportive throughout all this, will understand the need for us to act to guarantee our survival".
The festival was set to take place from 22-25 Jul - shortly after the current 19 Jul target date for the lifting of pandemic restrictions in England - but without proper guidance from government at this stage, it is not possible to go ahead, says Gabriel.
"Since the government decision to extend the phase three [COVID] restrictions by at least four weeks (to 19 Jul, 72 hours before WOMAD should open its gates) we have been seeking urgent clarification from the Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Public Health England as to what this means for large scale events such as WOMAD", Gabriel's statement continues.
"Whilst the Prime Minister and his colleagues say there will be no restrictions on society at that point, we have been unable to get any confirmation of what the plan is. Nor is there any clarity on how what is being learned from the Events Research Programme might affect the guidance for festivals and how they are required to operate".
Gabriel goes on to point out that next month's Latitude and Tramlines festivals have now been added to the list of pilot events included in the government's ever-extending Events Research Programme, which is investigating how full capacity shows can safely return as COVID rules lift. Involvement in that programme means events are generally not at the whim of future changes in COVID rules - and if, for any reason, an event can't go ahead, government insurance is available.
While it's good that music festivals are part of the ERP, some have accused the government of now cynically using the extended programme to cherry-pick a few events - especially in the sports domain, but some in culture too - so to allow those events to go ahead while the sector at large is still in shutdown and still faces much uncertainty about what will happen next month.
Latitude and Tramlines will take place on the same weekend when WOMAD was due to occur. The government involving festivals on that weekend in the extended ERP, Gabriel says, "clearly implies that only approved test events will be protected and guaranteed the right to go ahead as normal – even though this flies in the face of the Prime Minister's statements".
He also reveals that WOMAD applied to be included in the ERP as soon as lockdown restrictions were extended in June, but this was denied - the reason given that the event took place after 19 Jul.
"It is the lack of government backed insurance along with these actions that have forced WOMAD to cancel", says Gabriel. "We have not been asking for financial support; all we have wanted is certainty in the form of insurance against cancellation (that we'd be happy to pay for). We need an understanding of the realities of how our industry works and the benefits that we bring. The industry should see equal access to support and a much less opaque way of deciding who gets help".
Tickets already purchased for this year's WOMAD will be rolled over to next year's event, which is set to take place on 28-31 Jul 2022. Refunds are also available.
Last week, the Association Of Independent Festivals announced that more than half of UK festivals have now cancelled in 2021. The government finally published the results of the initial phase of the Events Research Programme on Friday, following a legal challenge by the live music and theatre industries. However, politicians are still resisting calls for state-back cancellation insurance and there remains a lack of clear guidance for events planning to take place after 19 Jul.
UB40's Duncan Campbell announces retirement from music
"Unfortunately, due to continued ill health, I have reluctantly decided to retire from the band so as to focus on my recovery", he says in a statement. "I am very grateful, and would like to express my sincere thanks, to the fans for all their support during this time and indeed throughout my time with UB40. The band have my full support going forward and, of course, my very best wishes for the future with their new singer".
Campbell was hospitalised due to a stroke last year, but had been expected to return to the band for scheduled tour dates. Those dates were postponed due to COVID-19 and are now expected to begin in July.
On behalf of the rest of the band, Campbell's brother Robin says: "We've been rehearsing with every intention of Duncan's return to performing, but sadly, after suffering further illness he has made the decision to retire from music in order to concentrate fully on his recovery".
"While we are deeply saddened", he adds, "we completely understand and fully support his decision. As far as touring goes, we are ready to hit the road for our upcoming summer shows and will be announcing our new frontman imminently".
Duncan Campbell has fronted UB40 since 2008, following the departure of his other brother Ali due to a dispute over the band's finances. Ali Campbell subsequently set up a rival UB40 with other former members of the group, going by various names before settling on UB40 Featuring Ali Campbell & Astro.
Bucks Music Group has signed pianist and composer Robert Mitchell to a worldwide publishing administration deal. "What an honour to join the incredible Bucks Music Group", he says. "The catalogue speaks strongly for itself - the heritage of creativity across genres and around the world is rich and epic. I am hugely looking forward to us working together!"
Warner/ADA-allied Icons+Giants has signed 2020 'Britain's Got Talent' semi-finalist Imen to a record deal. "Our passion for Imen starts with the firepower in her voice and the halo around her humility, and that made it so important for us to try to sign her", say label founders Billy Mann and Benton James.
Reservoir has gone and got itself the catalogue of rock producer Tom Werman. "It's gratifying to make this agreement with the Reservoir team who genuinely care about my work, and I'm glad to have found such avid supporters".
Lusitanian Music Publishing has become the first Portuguese publisher to sign with IMPEL for multi-territorial digital rights licensing. "Entering the third decade of the 21st century, it is absolutely, fundamentally essential to be able to collect digital [royalties] on a multi-territorial level directly from platforms using the best technology currently available with as little delay as possible", says Lusitanian Director Nuno Saraiva.
Warner's Atlantic Records has announced a new joint venture with Irish rap label Trust It Entertainment, which will see the major invest in signing and developing talent with the indie. "We're really happy to be partnering with the team at Atlantic as, with their backing, we'll have the resources to further find and develop the best talent in Ireland", says Trust It CEO Solomon Adesiyan. "In addition, it'll be great to tap into Atlantic’s global network and showcase our artists on an international level".
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Chinese web giant Tencent has increased its involvement in Indian streaming service Gaana by providing $40 million in debt funding. This is Tencent's third investment into the company, having provided $41 million in debt funding last September and purchasing a $115 million equity stake in 2018.
EDUCATION & EVENTS
The Music Venue Trust has announced that its annual Venues Day conference - which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic - will take place as three separate events this October. The main Venues Day will take place at EartH in London on 5 Oct, followed by two online editions - one connecting UK venues on 12 Oct, and then another on International Venues Day on 19 Oct.
AIM will host an online panel debate titled 'How To Fix Streaming - An Introduction To The Artist Growth Model' on Thursday, 1 Jul. Speakers will include Deviate Digital's Sammy Andrews, former Spotify economist Will Page, and intellectual property expert David Safir. Sign up to watch here.
The memoir of late Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland, 'Not Dead & Not For Sale', is being turned into a film, under the name 'Paper Heart'. Writer Jennifer Erwin tells The Hollywood Reporter: "It's an honour to have the trust to tell Scott's story and the ability to portray the lesser known sides of him – the loving and tender man he was, the high school athlete he was, the melancholy soul he was, and the legendary frontman that he will always be".
Halsey has announced that her next album will be titled 'If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power', and that it is produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. No release date yet, but she has shared a brief clip of a track.
Unknown T has announced that he will release new mixtape 'Adolescence' on 30 Jul. Here's new single 'Goodums'.
Fifi Rong has released new single 'Dream On'.
GIGS & TOURS
Pitchfork has announced the launch of a multi-venue festival in London this November. Acts performing include Stereolab, Moses Boyd, Black Midi, Bobby Gillespie & Jenny Beth, Tirzah, Anna Meredith, Mykki Blanco, Girl Band, Nilüfer Yanya and Iceage. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth have announced their first live dates together in November, including shows at the London and Paris Pitchfork festivals. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ed Sheeran would love to represent the UK at Eurovision "one day"
"Eurovision is my favourite thing to watch every year", Sheeran told Dutch broadcaster Humberto Tan. "I love it ... I texted my manager being like, 'I'm gonna do this one day' and he was just like, 'Not on my watch'".
"I think if I'm gonna do it, England has to be loved by Europe again, and I don’t know if that’s gonna happen", he added.
"We do love England", Tan told him. "But we love Ed Sheeran more".
Sheeran also said that he really liked Germany's entry at Eurovision 2021, that being 'I Don't Feel Hate', which came just above the UK in this year's scoring with a total of three points. So maybe someone else should pick which Sheeran song we enter.