|MONDAY 25 OCTOBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Newcastle-based promoter SSD Concerts has said that an independent investigation into various allegations made against Managing Director Steve Davis found "no evidence of racism, misogyny or sexual misconduct". However, the report produced as part of that investigation does say that "poor and informal business and employment practices" had caused issues at the company... [READ MORE]|
Bands pull out of Hit The North festival after promoter SSD publishes results of investigation into misconduct allegations
Meanwhile, critics of the business - including among the artist community - say that SSD has failed to properly address issues that were raised and accusations that were made earlier this year. As a result, a number of artists pulled out of the the promoter's Hit The North festival on Saturday.
Allegations were initially made against Davis back in April this year in anonymous reviews on the Glassdoor website. The claims were then subsequently shared on the SSD Concerts Instagram account after it was hacked. Among the claims were that the company had underpaid its staff and that Davis himself had engaged in misogynist behaviour. Further allegations from a number of women followed, including that Davis had given them unwanted back massages and commented on their appearance.
Davis announced his resignation from the company following the accusations, although was still listed as a director months later and is apparently back in the position now. The company also handed over the promotion of its This Is Tomorrow festival in Newcastle to Kilimanjaro, although a number of artists pulled out ahead of the event in September after it emerged that SSD was still involved.
On Friday, SSD announced that an independent investigation had cleared Davis of any wrongdoing. It also said that it had confirmed that all of the Glassdoor reviews were written by the same person, who had also posted them on Instagram - that being a former employee who was arrested over the hacking of the Instagram account in April.
SSD also said that the other people who had made allegations against Davis and his company declined to come forward and speak formally about their experiences, making a full assessment of what happened difficult. However, despite this and the top level claims that no wrongdoing was discovered, the independent report was nevertheless fairly damning of the company's business practices at the point the controversy emerged.
In a statement, SSD Concerts said: "The board can't ignore that the company continues to face persistent challenges to 'address the serious sexual allegations' levelled against SSD and the Managing Director. We have not, and are not, shying away from addressing these allegations".
"It is difficult to do so, however, when we have not been given any further information about the claims through the confidential means we have made available", it went on. "Some individuals and groups have been reposting the claims or making their own public posts referencing the allegations. They have also been sending links to media articles – all based on the original allegations posted on Glassdoor and then shared on SSD's hacked social media account.
"No evidence of racism, misogyny or sexual misconduct was found against the Managing Director", it concluded. "People can draw their own conclusions as to why those individuals decided against having their claims heard and independently investigated".
According to Chronicle Live, despite not finding any evidence of misconduct, the independent investigation nevertheless stated: "Overall, the level of familiarity between employees and Steve Davis as Managing Director has blurred the boundaries of professional relationships within the workplace which has been exacerbated by the industry within which they work".
It then added that training has now been undertaken by management and the business has been restructured to address these problems, stating that Davis's engagement with this process had been "reassuring" and that he will no longer "engage in any contact or conversation that could lend itself to misinterpretation again in the future".
The report added that, during the investigation, "it was evident from the meetings held with people who described their employment experience at SSD Concerts that they experienced issues with poor and/or informal business and employment practices. Of those employees who remain at SSD Concerts, all identified that there had been significant improvements since the new operations director and HR lead had joined the business".
Davis himself said in a statement: "This has been a very sobering process to go through. I haven't always got things right and if this has affected anyone, I am sorry. I thank all staff past and present for their honesty and feedback which will help the business move forward. I'd like this to be a huge learning experience and I am determined that within a short period of time SSD is being recognised by others as being the fantastic, creative, safe and happy place to work that it now is".
If SSD hoped that the publication of the independent investigator's report would put the matter to rest, that was not the case. Among its critics, there was an angry response that the company had taken six months to properly respond to the allegations. And many felt that Friday's statements mainly just said that everything is fine now while failing to properly address the claims that have been made about past conduct.
As a result of all that, several acts pulled out of Saturday's Hit The North festival, which was promoted by SSD. This included Sports Team, Vistas, Lottery Winners, Fuzzy Sun, Gracey, Lottery Winners, Andrew Cushin, Oscar Lang, Noisy, Hi Sienna and several more - with at least 31 acts withdrawing from the event at the last minute.
The festival, which took place in various venues in Newcastle, offered no comment on the departure of so many acts from its line-up.
Nirvana defeat 'circle of hell' copyright dispute in the US, but could now face litigation in the UK
The image in question was seemingly created in the late 1940s by British writer CW Scott-Giles, depicting Upper Hell as described in Dante Alighieri's 'The Divine Comedy'. Scott-Giles' image then appeared in a Dorothy L Sayers' translation of the fourteenth century poem.
The lawsuit over Nirvana's use of the image was filed earlier this year by Jocelyn Susan Bundy, who says that she is the sole surviving relative of Scott-Giles, who died in 1982, and therefore the successor-in-title to his copyright. She claims that she only became aware that Nirvana had being using the image without permission since the 1990s at the start of this year, hence her somewhat late-in-the-day litigation.
Bundy's lawsuit also alleged that Nirvana have in the past attributed the copyright in the image to the band themselves, variously claiming that Kurt Cobain created it and/or that the illustration is in the public domain, ie no longer protected by copyright. The legal filing then added: "Nirvana and some of the other defendants have maintained this position in their responses to plaintiff's continuing requests to cease their wrongful conduct in the US and abroad".
All or any of that might be true, but when considering the case, judge Dale S Fischer said that one key dispute between the parties here relates to specifics around the ownership of the copyright in the circles of hell image.
Meanwhile, both parties agree that the image is directly protected by the UK copyright system, enjoying protection under US copyright law as a 'foreign work' via the global copyright treaties. With that in mind, Fischer concluded, it would be better to pursue the lawsuit in the UK courts, which are better positioned to consider matters of copyright ownership under UK copyright law.
"A UK court is surely more familiar with and readily able to apply UK law to UK copyright ownership disputes", Fischer stated in a ruling last week.
She also added: "Given that one of the core disputes in this case concerns ownership of the copyright in the illustration, which is governed by UK law, the UK likely has a stronger interest, on balance, in this case".
Having reached that conclusion, Fischer granted the defence's motion to dismiss the case, on the condition they "submit themselves to the jurisdiction of a UK court" if Bundy now decides to proceed with her legal claim on this side of the Atlantic.
Lil Joe Records sues former 2 Live Crew members in termination rights dispute
The recordings under dispute were originally released by Luke Records, the label run by 2 Live Crew member Luther Campbell. They were then acquired by Lil Joe Records - along with other copyrights and trademarks controlled by the group - in 1996 when both Campbell and Luke Records went bankrupt.
The label says that its ownership of all those copyrights and trademarks were confirmed in two subsequent legal run ins with members of the Crew. First when Brother Marquis - real name Mark Ross - went bankrupt in 2000. And again when Fresh Kid Ice - real name Christopher Wong Won - tried to register a "fraudulent trademark" in 2002.
But, of course, US copyright law provides a termination right which allows creators who assign their copyrights to another party a one-off opportunity to terminate that assignment and reclaim their rights after 35 years. And, it seems, some of the former members of the Crew - plus the estate of Wong Won, who died in 2017 - are seeking to exercise that termination right in relation to their recordings.
However, Lil Joe Records argues that they don't have a termination right to exercise. And the label's lawsuit, filed with the courts in Florida, provides various reasons why it thinks this is the case.
That includes that "the requisite and proper notice has not been provided; Luther Campbell, Luke Records and Mark Ross bankruptcy orders extinguished any ability they might otherwise have to terminate; Christopher Wong Won and Mark Ross each conveyed their termination rights to plaintiff pursuant to written agreements; and there is not a majority of those interested in the copyrights of the Works for a proper termination".
The other key reason provided in the lawsuit is that the 2 Live Crew recordings were made as 'works for hire'. This is the most common argument put forward where labels seek to stop artists enforcing the termination right.
The argument goes that US record deals are actually work for hire agreements which, under American copyright rules, makes the label the default owner of the copyright. Which means any artists signed to those labels never actually owned or assigned any rights, meaning there is no assignment to terminate.
Of course, even if that was so, the label entering into the work for hire deals with the Crew was owned by Campbell, so what was his status in relation to the recordings, and does that mean he can exercise the termination right?
The bankruptcy proceedings which led to Lil Joe Records acquiring the rights could in itself complicate any termination rights claim, though last week's lawsuit had a simpler argument regarding Campbell.
He was an employee of his own label, meaning Luke Records was the copyright owner, and the company's rights all transferred to Lil Joe Records in 1996. Campbell, the lawsuit reckons, never had any rights in a personal capacity.
There are enough complications in this case which means that, even if Lil Joe Records is successful and the court concludes the former 2 Live Crew members do not enjoy any termination right, it's unlikely to set any clear precedent regarding whether other artists can use the termination right to reclaim the copyright in their old recordings.
Nevertheless, it's another interesting test of a termination right which has become pretty routine on the songs side of the music business, but which remains controversial when it comes to recordings.
Kilimanjaro acquires literary events company Fane Productions
"Having known Alex for several years we are pleased to welcome Fane Productions into the Kili Group", says Kilimanjaro Live CEO Stuart Galbraith. "We look forward to working with Alex for many years to come and expanding and growing the Fane family both in the UK and internationally".
Fane himself adds: "I'm delighted to be partnering with DEAG and Kilimanjaro Live as we look to our next steps as a company. After a year of exponential growth and our busiest autumn ever, it's the perfect time to join forces with an industry leader who understands our business and can offer us the expertise and investment we need to expand our offer within the UK and beyond".
Since DEAG took control of Kilimanjaro in 2014, the UK business has made a number of acquisitions, up until now mainly within live music. Fane Productions puts on spoken word events in the UK and Australia, with shows headlined by Margaret Atwood, Malala Yousafzai, Grayson Perry, Judi Dench and more. Last year, during the pandemic, it also launched an online events business.
French collecting society SACEM appoints new CEO
Announcing the executive rejig, the society's Chair Patrick Sigwalt noted the challenges posed for SACEM's members by COVID and the opportunities - and further challenges - created by an ever diversifying digital market. He said: "At this historic moment for the future of music and culture, we want more than ever to put authors, composers and publishers at the heart of our common house, SACEM, which belongs to them".
"And we want to go much faster, much farther and much more powerfully, and open a new stage in the history of SACEM", he added. "We must act rather than endure, and seize the opportunities available to us to strengthen the collective management model and promote our values of collective action, general interest and solidarity of which we are extremely proud".
"The appointment of Cécile and David underscores the board's recognition of their talent, expertise and the work they have accomplished", he concluded. "They have the full confidence of the board, which is completely united behind our common ambition for SACEM and for our members".
Rap-Veber herself added: "Born into a family of creators, and having constantly defended the interests of rightsholders throughout my professional career, I am honoured to continue to uphold the values of collective management in the service of a repertoire as magnificent as SACEM's. Over the last few years, we have worked with all of our teams to develop SACEM's collections, support its technological transition, increase its transparency and extend its international influence".
"This is a great asset for the future", she continued. "And I am convinced that with the support of the board of directors, with David and the management team at my side, and with the proven professionalism and expertise of our staff, we have all the cards in hand to set in motion a new dynamic to serve our members and constituents and build the SACEM of tomorrow!"
Meanwhile outgoing CEO Tronc said: "I am very proud of the work we have accomplished with the executive leadership and the wonderful teams at SACEM over the past nine years. The upheavals in the sector and the crises we have gone through together have demonstrated the fundamental role of collective management in the service of creators, our clients and all those who keep music alive. I wish SACEM every success in this new phase".
Ed Sheeran tests positive for COVID-19
"Hey guys", he says in a post on Instagram. "Quick note to tell you that I've sadly tested positive for COVID, so I'm now self-isolating and following government guidelines. It means that I'm ... unable to plough ahead with any in person commitments for now, so I'll be doing as many of my planned interviews/performances [as] I can from my house. Apologies to anyone I've let down. Be safe everyone".
Sheeran has been in heavy promotion mode of late for the new album, which is out this Friday. It's alright though, he's got the most important thing done - the biggest engagement on any active musician's schedule - recording a 'CBeebies Bedtime Story'.
He joins the likes of Dave Grohl, Dolly Parton, Robbie Williams and Elton John in reading a bedtime story for the BBC's pre-schooler TV channel. Set to air next month, he has already been filmed reading 'I Talk Like A River' by Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith. A story about a boy with a stutter, Sheeran says it is personally relevant to him.
"Growing up, I had a stutter like the boy in 'I Talk Like A River', so I'm delighted to be reading this story for 'CBeebies Bedtime Stories', especially as I'm a new dad myself", he says. "I hope the story helps inspire and support other children who stutter".
Sheeran's episode of 'CBeebies Bedtime Stories' will air at 6.50pm on 5 Nov. And there's nothing no coronavirus can do to scupper that.
Mogwai win Scottish Album Of The Year Award
Accepting the award at a ceremony at Edinburgh's Usher Hall on Saturday, the band's Stuart Braithwaite said: "I really was not expecting this, I have not thought of anything to say other than thank you and I wish I'd got steaming!"
"This has been a really mental year for the band and this is just another thing we never thought would happen", he went on. "I want to thank everyone who has bought and played the album, I'd like to dedicate this to Mick [Griffiths] our booking agent who passed away last week. I'd like to thank everyone, the [Scottish Music Industry Association] and you all for being here. This is nuts!"
Released in February, 'As The Love Continues' debuted at number one in the UK album chart - the band's first to do so. It's also the first time they've won the SAY Award, after being shortlisted four times. As well as a trophy, they take away £20,000 in prize money.
As well as the main prize, this year's ceremony featured the formal presentation of the inaugural Modern Scottish Classic award. Chosen by this year's longlisted artists, the prize recognises an album by a Scottish artist that continues to inspire new music in the country. This year it was awarded to 'The Midnight Organ Fight' by Frightened Rabbit.
As the band took to the stage to collect the prize, drummer Grant Hutchison used the moment to remember his brother and the band's frontman, the late Scott Hutchison.
"I don't why you're clapping for us we didn't write any of it", he told the audience. "All of us can come at it from the same place that all of you can - this was and is Scott's album. These are his words and they should be shared by all of us. It's amazing to have an album that's thirteen years old and still inspires artists today, because it still inspires me every day".
"We recently put a book of Scott's lyrics out and I listened to every single song and read every single lyric and was still like – fucking hell", he continues. "He got all the talented genes. This shouldn't be a sad and sombre remembrance award, it’s not what he would have wanted, he would want us to get drunk! He would want us to sing and dance and get sweaty".
Another new prize presented on Saturday was the Sound Of Young Scotland Award, which went to LVRA. She received £5000 to put towards the making of her debut album, as well as 500 vinyl pressings of the finished release.
Commenting on this year's ceremony, the Scottish Music Industry Association's Robert Kilpatrick said: "It couldn’t be more fitting – or more deserved – for Mogwai to win The SAY Award 2021 for 'As The Love Continues'. Winning the award with their tenth studio album, and on SAY's tenth year, is a special moment for a band who have contributed so much to Scotland's cultural identity, and for SAY, which has celebrated, promoted and rewarded outstanding Scottish records since 2012".
He continued: "Tonight we also got to celebrate the winners of our two new awards, with LVRA claiming the Sound of Young Scotland Award, and Frightened Rabbit's 'The Midnight Organ Fight' receiving the inaugural Modern Scottish Classic for a body of work that will be cherished for many years to come".
"In a room full of artists, music industry professionals and music fans, after such a tough and turbulent eighteen months, tonight we have truly felt the power, importance and impact of Scottish music at a time it's never been more needed", he concluded. "Scottish music has never felt stronger, more exciting and more diverse. We have a lot to be proud of".
The nine other shortlisted nominees for the main SAY Award all receive £1000. They are: AiiTee, Arab Strap, Biffy Clyro, Joesef, Lizzie Reid, Rachel Newton, Stanley Odd, The Ninth Wave and The Snuts.
Nick Cave's fondest memory of Mick Harvey is when he brought him cigarettes in jail
A wider conversation between Cave and Harvey will be released later this week, as part of the promotion of new Bad Seeds compilation 'B-Sides & Rarities Part II'. But the NME has already published Cave's answer to a question about his favourite memory of being with his former bandmate.
"This is not by far the best moment, but it is a testament to many things about your character that I valued", he tells Harvey.
So the story goes, the band had travelled from Iceland to the US on tour. When their tour bus arrived in New York, Cave promptly got off in order to go and buy drugs, but managed to get himself arrested. He ended up spending two days in jail and missing the show.
"No one knew where I was, because we were staying at the Iroquois Hotel, and I was given one phone call and I said I want to ring the Iroquois hotel and they said how do you spell that and I couldn't spell it", Cave recalls.
"So, I didn't get my phone call, so I was never able to alert the band as to [where I was]. It's a difficult word. It's a difficult word to spell. And especially when ... you're in a cage full of like 20 other reprobates. Anyway, what happened was that no one knew where I was, I guess. And I missed the gig".
Meanwhile, Harvey rang around hospitals and police stations and eventually tracked Cave down. "And then you arrived at the jail, and you had a carton of cigarettes", says Cave. "Do you remember that? You gave me this carton of cigarettes and it was like the best thing. I'll never forget that and that you found me, and you bought me a carton of cigarettes. Thank you".
It wasn't simply having a pack of cigarettes pressed into his hand that was memorable though. Cave continues: "I had the cigarettes, and I was in a cage full of a lot of people and ... someone came up and said, 'Can I have a cigarette mate?' And I'm like, ‘Yeah, sure'. And this other guy came up and said, 'You never never do that. Never do that'. I'm like, 'Do what?' and he goes, 'You have to sell the cigarettes'. And I'm like, 'Why?' 'Because you'll get no respect, man', you know, right".
"OK, so the next person came up and I said, 'Yes it's a dollar' and they went 'Ah alright', and then I just sat there handing out cigarettes and getting a dollar for each cigarette", Cave goes on. "And I was like the king of the cage. So, thank you again".
So, er, an important lesson there in both friendship and how to get respect while in police custody. If you want to hear the full conversation between Cave and Harvey - and another with Cave and Warren Ellis - it'll be available at 10am on Wednesday here.