|FRIDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The number of lawsuits being filed in relation to this month's Astroworld tragedy in Houston, Texas continues to increase, as does the amount of damages being sought in the litigation. The latest filing on behalf of 282 victims is seeking up to $2 billion from the artists and companies involved in festival... [READ MORE]|
Latest Astroworld lawsuit seeks $2 billion in damages
Ten people died and hundreds more were injured after a crowd surge occurred during Travis Scott's headline set at the latest edition of the Astroworld event that he founded, which was staged at Houston's NRG Park on 5 Nov. A criminal investigation is currently underway led by the Houston Police Department seeking to identify what led to the crowd surge, and to what extent poor planning or bad decision making on the ground contributed to the tragedy.
Alongside the criminal investigation is a stack of civil litigation, with a steady stream of lawsuits being filed over the last two weeks, by the families of those who died, and those who were injured during the crowd surge and/or have suffered emotional distress because of what they witnessed.
Last Friday, noted civil rights attorney Ben Crump announced that he was filing more than 90 lawsuits on behalf of over 200 people who attended the festival. Then on Tuesday, another lawyer, Tony Buzbee, filed a lawsuit on behalf of 125 victims which was seeking around $750 million in damages.
Now a third attorney, Thomas J Henry, one of the first lawyers to comment on the tragedy earlier this month, has filed litigation on behalf of 282 victims, which is seeking a massive $2 billion in damages from defendants including Scott himself, and the festival's promoters, Scoremore and Live Nation.
Commenting on the lawsuit yesterday, Henry said: "The defendants stood to make an exorbitant amount of money off of this event, and they still chose to cut corners, cut costs, and put attendees at risk. My clients want to ensure the defendants are held responsible for their actions, and they want to send the message to all performers, event organisers, and promoters that what happened at Astroworld cannot happen again".
Drake is also named as a defendant on this new litigation - as he has been on various lawsuits filed in relation to Astroworld - because he joined Scott on stage at the event when, unbeknownst to the two stars, the tragedy was unfolding in the crowd in front of them.
In related news, a track on which Drake guests has been pulled from French Montana's new album 'They Got Amnesia', which is out today. According to TMZ, Drake requested that the collaboration not appear on the record, because he feels it's not appropriate for him to be releasing new music so soon after the tragic events that occurred during his guest spot at the Astroworld festival.
We discuss the legal fall out from the Astroworld tragedy further in this week’s episode of our Setlist podcast.
R Kelly associate gets eight years for attempting to intimidate witness
One of three men arrested on charges relating to attempts to intimidate or bribe witnesses on Kelly's behalf, Michael Williams pleaded guilty to arson in April this year.
He said in court that he had travelled to the family home of an unnamed woman who had made abuse accusations against Kelly. There, he said, he had "deliberately set a car on fire in someone's driveway". One of the people inside the house at the time saw someone fleeing the scene as the rented SUV went up in flames, apparently with their arm on fire.
A search of Williams' computer also found that he had recently searched for information about fertiliser bombs, news about R Kelly, and the phrase "case law for tampering with a witness". Police said he also sent threatening text messages to the woman's father telling him that she should retract her accusations against the star.
Judge Ann M Donnelly ordered Williams to service a 96 month sentence - higher than had been expected.
In a statement, prosecution attorney Breon Peace said: "In a violent act designed to instil fear and stop a witness from testifying at trial, Williams set fire to the victim's vehicle in the middle of the night while it was parked outside of a residence occupied by four adults and two children. Intimidating witnesses and threatening the safety of crime victims undermine the very fabric of our judicial system and will never be tolerated".
Another of the men accused of attempting to derail the criminal case against Kelly is Richard Arline Jr, who pleaded guilty to offering a bribe of $500,000 for one of the musician's accusers to destroy evidence. He he set to be sentenced in February. The third man, Donnell Russell, is accused of attempting to blackmail another of Kelly's victims. His case is still pending.
Kelly, of course, was found guilty in a New York court in September of setting up and running a criminal enterprise in order to sexually and physically abuse women and girls. He is also facing additional charges in other US states, in particular his home state of Illinois.
Total music right revenues rose 2.7%, according to Will Page's latest study
Page has been seeking to put a value on the wider music copyright business for a number of years now. Although the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry puts out an annual report of global recorded music revenues, and CISAC publishes a round up of monies collected by the song right collecting societies, there are gaps and overlaps with those two reports.
First, mechanical royalties paid to publishers by labels when physical discs are sold appear in both reports. Meanwhile, monies collected directly my music publishers around sync deals and, increasingly, streaming (especially with Anglo-American repertoire) are not accounted for in either studies.
Page's annual review removes the overlaps and attempts to fill the gaps. He reckons that means recorded music generated $21.1 billion in 2020, with song royalties passing through the collective licensing system totalling $9.3 billion, and publishers generating an additional $2.1 billion in direct revenues.
2020 was dominated by the pandemic, of course, and in the music rights domain COVID affected different revenue streams in different ways. Monies due from the live and public performance of music, and broadcast and sync, were all negatively impacted. Meanwhile, streaming continued to boom, if anything helped by the lockdowns, which possibly persuaded more people to start paying to stream.
Because the way monies are split between recording rights and song rights are different depending on revenue stream, COVID hit songwriters and publishers much more than it hit the record industry. Which means recorded music accounted for nearly two thirds of music right revenues in 2020.
In an article for Music & Copyright - also published on Page's blog - he writes: "The lockdown boom of streaming revenue and bust to performing rights collections gave labels almost two-thirds of the pie (64.9%) and publishers just over one-third (35.1%). When this exercise was first conducted in 2014, the split was more even, at 55% for the labels and 45% for publishing. The scales have really tipped".
"But will they tip back toward publishers as bars and restaurants reopen and public performance collections recover?" he adds "Or will labels cement their lead as streaming revenue grows even faster? Lest we forget, there’s a policy angle at play, with a UK parliamentary inquiry having amplified the cries for a more balanced distribution of streaming between labels and publishers. These cries may yet grow louder, and more contagious".
That UK parliamentary inquiry, of course, put the spotlight on the economics of streaming, and how streaming monies are shared out between artists, labels, songwriters, publishers and the streaming services themselves. Among other things, there was much discussion as to whether the current approximate split of digital income - whereby 50-55% of streaming monies go to recording rights, and 10-15% to song rights - was fair.
Beyond any re-slicing of the digital pie when it comes to the Spotify-style business model, Page also considers what the big growth music right revenue streams of the next decade might be, and whether they will favour recording rights or song rights.
He notes the revenues that are now coming into the music industry from fitness apps like Peloton, which use music in their video content. This new revenue stream could favour song rights, he reckons, because it's basically a sync scenario, where traditionally monies are split more like 50/50 between songs and recordings.
Plus "the prominence of covers in these types of content would tip the scales toward publishers" - and if any new entrants in this market look to save costs on music, "library music becomes relatively more attractive", which tends to sit on the music publishing side of the business.
That said, the ongoing rise of TikTok probably favours recording rights, given that those platforms are treated as on-demand streaming services with Spotify-style splits.
Although, some in the songwriting community are now starting to ask why a platform that clearly involves synchronising music into short-form video is being treated as a streaming service and not a sync scenario, where the song rights could demand a bigger cut.
Plus, Page notes, there might be additional opportunities for songwriters and music publishers on the video sharing platforms if services shift into the karaoke or covers domain, with the record industry's original recordings not getting used.
Finally, Page also considers the livestreaming spike that occurred during the pandemic. "The question is how will livestreaming and (real) live music coexist?" he muses. "We could have a situation where five million fans are backstage livestreaming with their favourite band before they go out to perform to 50,000 fans in a muddy field".
"With respect to the balance in copyright, this is all publisher upside", he concludes. "First, there is the return of live performance – silenced during the pandemic – which will add to publisher coffers. Second, there's the addition of livestreaming, which creates a new revenue stream for songwriters, publishers and their [collecting societies]".
Mick Rock dies
A statement posted on Rock's social media reads: "It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share [that] our beloved psychedelic renegade Mick Rock has made the Jungian journey to the other side. Those who had the pleasure of existing in his orbit know that Mick was always so much more than 'The Man Who Shot The 70s'".
"He was a photographic poet, a true force of nature who spent his days doing exactly what he loved, always in his own delightfully outrageous way", it goes on. "The stars seemed to effortlessly align for Mick when he was behind the camera; feeding off of the unique charisma of his subjects electrified and energised him. His intent always intense. His focus always total".
"A man fascinated with image", it adds, "he absorbed visual beings through his lens and immersed himself in their art, thus creating some of the most magnificent images rock music has ever seen. To know Mick was to love him. He was a mythical creature; the likes of which we shall never experience again"
"Let us not mourn the loss, but instead celebrate the fabulous life and extraordinary career of Michael David Rock", it concludes. "We must ask that the privacy of his nearest and dearest be respected at this time. Therefore, there will be no further comments".
As noted in the statement, Rock was best known for his work in the 1970s, photographing artists including David Bowie, Queen, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry and The Sex Pistols. He began taking pictures of bands using a friend's camera to document the local music scene while studying at the University Of Cambridge.
He was particularly known for his association with Bowie, whom he met in 1972. As well as photographing him, he also directed several of the Bowie's music videos, including 'The Jean Genie', 'Life On Mars' and 'John, I'm Only Dancing' - the latter of which was banned by 'Top Of The Pops'.
His work spread well beyond Bowie and the 70s though, as he worked with artists including Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, The Killers, Daft Punk, Nas, Janelle Monae, The Chemical Brothers, and more.
He also created numerous album covers over the years too, including Queen's 'Queen II', The Stooges' 'Raw Power', Lou Reed's 'Coney Island Baby', Carly Simon's 'Come Upstairs' and, most recently, Miley Cyrus's 'Plastic Hearts'.
Jonah Hill to star in Martin Scorsese's Grateful Dead biopic
According to Deadline, Scorsese will also produce the movie, alongside Hill and writers of the screenplay Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski - best known for writing 'The People v OJ Simpson'. Garcia's daughter Trixie and Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann are among the executive producers on the project.
Following the break up of their previous band, Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, Garcia, Weir and Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan co-founded The Grateful Dead with bassist Lesh and drummer Kreutzman in 1965. Briefly known as The Warlocks, they performed their first show as The Grateful Dead at one of Ken Kesey's Acid Tests later that year.
Heavily involved in the counterculture movement of that time, the band became known for live shows that featured lengthy instrumental jams that they actively encouraged fans to bootleg.
Garcia died in 1995 of a heart attack, while staying in a rehab clinic.
Artist & Manager Awards presented
Two of the prizes featured a shortlist, with the overall winners announced on the night. Those were the Breakthrough Artist and Breakthrough Manager awards, which were won by Rina Sawayama and Kayleigh Thorpe of Little Runaway Management respectively .
Sawayama also presented Elton John and his manager David Furnish with their Artist & Manager Partnership award, she having been among the artists to guest on John's 'Lockdown Sessions' album last month.
Another stand-out moment of the evening came with the presentation of the Industry Champions Award to the founders of The Black Music Coalition, which was launched following the music industry's Blackout Tuesday initiative in response to the murder of George Floyd.
The organisation's Sheryl Nwosu, Afryea Henry-Fontaine, Komali Scott-Jones and Char Grant were presented the award by major label execs Alex Boateng (Universal), Joe Kentish (Warner) and Taponeswa Mavunga (Sony). The founders thanked those in the industry who have already actively supported the organisation's work, but stressed that there is still much more to be done, and therefore much more active support is also required.
Commenting on last night's awards, MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick and FAC CEO David Martin said: "Coming together again with friends and colleagues feels such a hugely positive and symbolic step forward. Tonight's awards was about celebrating music, talent, innovation and camaraderie across the artist and management community - whether that's individuals at the start of their careers, survivors and legends, or those still standing after decades".
And here is the full list of winners...
Artist Of The Year: Little Simz
Artist & Manager Partnership: Elton John & David Furnish (Rocket Entertainment)
Manager Of The Year: Amy Morgan (September Management)
Industry Champions: The Black Music Coalition
TikTok and Australian song rights collecting society APRA/AMCOS have agreed a licensing deal, the first such partnership between the society and the video-sharing app.
Exceleration Music has signed a long-term agreement with the estate of Justin Townes Earle. This extends beyond the Earle estate's existing agreement with Bloodshot Records, which Exceleration recently acquired. Earle's widow Jennifer says: "I am truly touched by the appreciation that Exceleration Music has for Justin and am very much excited about combining forces with our collective visions to honour his legacy as a songwriter, husband and father to Etta".
Dirty Hit has signed Wallice to a new record deal, marking the occasion (and proving it to be true) by releasing her new single 'Wisdom Tooth'.
Antoinette Boateng has been appointed to the new role of Director Of Equity, Diversity And Inclusion, Europe at Warner Music. "The company has made some big strides when it comes to placing the equity, diversity and inclusion agenda centre stage, but it acknowledges that it's got a lot more to do", she says. "I can't wait to be part of the team that steers it through the next stage of its journey and look forward to working with colleagues across Europe to drive positive change".
Ryan Press has been promoted to the position of North American President of Warner Chappell. "I've been with Warner Chappell for more than twelve years now and taking on this new role is a huge challenge that I've been working towards since day one", he says. "I'm incredibly humbled and grateful to [CEO] Guy [Moot] and [COO] Carianne [Marshall] for the opportunity and wouldn't be here without the support of my incredible A&R team. I'm blessed to get to work alongside them every single day".
Cardi B is back with new single 'Bet It', taken from the soundtrack of Netflix movie 'Bruised'. That being the soundtrack she has curated with director Halle Berry.
Charli XCX has announced that her 'Alone Together' documentary, about the making of her 'How I'm Feeling Now' album in lockdown, will be released on 28 Jan.
Yendry and J Balvin have teamed up for new single 'Instinto'. Yendry says of the song: "A man and a woman long for a lust-filled love outside of their respective mundane relationships. They follow their instincts because they're drawn to each other both emotionally and physically… but ultimately don't act on their feelings and resist each other".
Foo Fighters have released the video for 'Love Dies Young', from their 'Medicine At Midnight' album. It stars Jason Sudeikis, aka Ted Lasso.
Rico Nasty is back with new track 'Money', featuring Flo Milli and produced by Boys Noize.
Freddie Gibbs and Jadakiss are back together on new track 'Black Illuminati'.
100 Gecs have released new single 'Mememe' - the first track from their upcoming new album '10000 Gecs'.
Alice Glass has announced that she will release her debut solo album 'Prey///IV' on 28 Jan. She's also put out new single 'Baby Teeth'. "I like to make songs that you can dance to when you're sad", she says. "'Baby Teeth' is probably the darkest and most hopeless track on my record, but it sounds misleadingly hopeful".
Loop are set to release 'Sonancy', their first album for 32 years, through Cooking Vinyl on 11 Mar. "With 'Sonancy' I wanted to take a post-punk sound, spin it on its head and mix it with a psych influence", says the band's Ronerty Hampson. "A total gumbo. Which has always been Loop, this mash-up of spicy rhythms". Here's new track 'Halo'.
Ibeyi have released new single 'Made Of Gold', featuring Pa Salieu. The duo's Lisa-Kaindé says: "'Made Of Gold' is about connecting to our ancestors' knowledge, to the truths of the past and the power of the ancient. The line is not broken, nor is it lost. Protected by these spells, our third album will see us conveying our reconnection to that power and channeling that magic into our new music".
GIGS & TOURS
Andy C has announced a run of shows in clubs smaller than you'd normally see him in. Urgh, I was trying to avoid saying 'intimate', but you can see why people use that word. It's an intimate club tour, hitting places like the Cambridge Junction and Leeds Academy. It'll happen in February and March. Intimately.
Genesis Owusu has announced that he will play Dublin's Grand Social on 14 Jun and The Underworld in London on 15 Jun next year. Tickets are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
iHeart pledges to only play Taylor's versions of her records on air
So, yes, iHeart has announced that it is replacing tracks from the original versions of Taylor Swift's 'Fearless' and 'Red' albums with the new versions she's released this year on its servers, so that only the new versions will get aired on its radio stations. And it will do the same with tracks from her other Big Machine released albums once any re-records have been made and put out.
Swift, of course, pledged to re-record the six albums she released with indie label Big Machine after it - and the rights in those recordings - were bought by Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings.
Her record contract with Big Machine included the customary restrictions on re-records of old songs, but as soon as those restrictions started lifting the big re-record project began - even though, by that point, Braun's company had sold the rights in the Big Machine versions of her albums to equity outfit Shamrock.
'Taylor's Version' of 'Fearless' was released in April, while her new version of 'Red' came out last week. And although basically a project motivated to financially hurt Braun and his business partners, both have been well received.
Confirming it would only be playing Taylor's versions of Taylor's songs, where available, iHeartMedia's Chief Programming Officer Tom Poleman said earlier this week: "Whenever Taylor re-records a new track, we immediately replace the old versions. Our stations will always deliver songs that artists are eager to share and fans want to hear. Listeners have made it known that they cannot wait to hear 'Taylor's Version' of each track. We are THRILLED to provide a platform to share those with them, as well as the stories behind the songs from Taylor herself".
Of course, when Taylor's new versions of her old records are streamed - or if they are ever licensed for sync - that will financially benefit Swift and deprive Shamrock of income. And, actually, Braun and his partners - and by association the Big Machine Label Group - do lose out too, given $50 million of the $300 million the equity fund paid for the rights in the original records is reportedly dependent on how well they perform.
However, when iHeart switches to the new versions on its AM and FM radio stations, that won't make any difference, because American broadcasters don't pay any royalties to artists and labels - and they are still fighting hard against any proposals in US Congress that copyright law there be brought in line with much of the rest of the world when its comes to airplay.
Royalties are paid to the songwriters and music publishers, but on that side Swift will earn the same whichever version of her songs get played.
I'm sure Swift would tell you this isn't about the money though, it's just about getting her new versions played. Even though it definitely is about the money.