|WEDNESDAY 26 JANUARY 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Universal Music has requested a preliminary injunction as part of its ongoing legal battle with Republic. Not it's own label Republic, obviously. But New York-based online investment platform Republic, which moved into the music space last year via a partnership with music financing and NFTs platform Opulous... [READ MORE]|
Universal Music seeks preliminary injunction against Republic investments site in trademark battle
The major record company sued the Republic investment firm last November as the latter's partnership with Opulous got under way with a project that invited investors and fans to put money into a new track by Lil Pump and Soulja Boy, securing themselves in return a cut of any future royalties generated by that recording.
The basic model of that scheme is the same as the fan funding platforms of old, but with Republic and Opulous each investor's royalty rights are logged on the blockchain as NFTs. Meanwhile, Opulous's sister company Ditto manages the royalty payments.
At the time, Republic - the investment platform - was being quite bullish about its move into music investments, which obviously offers artists an alternative route to finance instead of signing to label.
That, Republic's bumf stressed, meant that anyone who invested in music releases on its platform - in addition to getting royalty rights and other perks - would also be helping to "fix [a record] industry that pays creators only 12% of the revenues they generate".
So that was certain to doubly piss off Universal Music. Once again the majors were being presented as the bad guys in the context of the digital music industry. And the dissing was coming from a company that shared a name with one of its own labels, Republic Records. The dissing was annoying. But the common name, the major argued in its lawsuit, was trademark infringement.
Given the way that Republic the investment platform was talking about its music projects last year, the whole Republic Music venture was sounding very like a record label, Universal added. And while Republic might argue that its move into music was really all about the non-fungible tokens, the major is also jumping on the NFT bandwagon, it declared, so that's confusing too.
"If defendant delivers on this promise", Universal's lawsuit stated, "then the artists, labels, managers, agents, and fans who currently know of only plaintiff's Republic label would be presented with two different companies offering identical services under identical names in the same industry. Confusion is inevitable".
The Republic platform isn't being so vocal about its move into music at the moment, but nevertheless Universal wants a preliminary injunction stopping it from offering any music investment opportunities under its Republic brand while the wider trademark litigation goes through the motions.
According to Billboard, legal papers requesting the preliminary injunction filed on Monday state: "In the short time since defendant began using defendant's Republic marks in connection with its new music-related services, there have already been numerous instances of actual confusion".
Indeed, it adds, even "sophisticated professionals and trade industry publications" have mixed up the Republic investment site and the Republic label. Not this sophisticated professional and trade industry publication I'd like to add. Though having to constantly distinguish between the two Republics when reporting on this legal battle is slightly tedious. So maybe they have a point.
That confusion, Universal also says in its new legal filing, became even more annoying when people started publicly moaning about Republic the investment platform.
The launch of Republic's music products last year was, the major alleges, "riddled with complications and poorly-explained instructions resulting in consumer complaints. Website shutdowns also plagued defendant's launch".
And Universal doesn't want anyone to think that its Republic Records was in anyway involved in any complicated launched or poorly-explained instructions.
Republic now has a chance to respond to the injunction request. Republic the investment platform that is. It would be silly for Republic the label to respond. Though, given how confused everyone apparently is, maybe it will anyway.
Elvis Costello signs publishing deal with BMG
"It is not often that a catalogue as distinguished as Elvis Costello's becomes available", says Alistair Norbury, BMG's President Repertoire & Marketing UK. "We look forward to working with Elvis and his management to further raise awareness and appreciation of one of the greatest songwriters the UK has produced".
BMG VP A&R UK Ian Ramage adds: "Elvis really is the songwriters' songwriter. As a music publisher, this is the quality of work we all aspire to represent".
Costello's songwriting was in the news last year after Olivia Rodrigo was accused of ripping off his song 'Pump It Up'. "This is fine by me", he said after it was brought to his attention on Twitter, "it's how rock n roll works". So, BMG's first job won't be to secure him a credit on Rodrigo's 'Brutal'.
Meanwhile, he announced earlier this month that he would stop performing his song 'Oliver's Army' live due to an ongoing controversy over its lyrics. So that's something else BMG doesn't have to worry about. I'm sure there are other things to do though.
Audio Content Fund to wind down after UK government's licence fee decision
The effected initiatives are the Young Audiences Content Fund and the Audio Content Fund. The former helped to finance children programmes on commercial TV networks like ITV and Channel 4, while the latter funded innovative radio programmes that aired on commercial or community stations. The idea was to help get programmes that were not in themselves commercially viable onto commercial networks, providing some extra public service programming outside of the BBC.
Referred to by the government as 'contestable funding', it had previously been suggested that these funds could be financed by diverting a small slice of the monies generated by the TV licence fee. That's not how the pilots of each initiative were actually financed, but it was still an option for the future.
However, when announcing last week that the BBC's licence fee would be frozen over the next two years, meaning the Beeb's income will decline in real terms because of inflation, Culture Minister Nadine Dorries also stated: "I have decided not to top-slice the licence fee for the purpose of contestable funding. Over the course of the settlement period, this will return close to £100 million back to general licence fee income".
Both the Young Audiences Content Fund and the Audio Content Fund then subsequently confirmed that this meant there was no new funding available, so both will soon have to start winding down their operations, unless alternative sources of money can be found.
Among many other things, the Audio Content Fund helped finance programmes like Shaun Keaveny's 'Rockanory' on Absolute Radio, Marcus Brigstocke's 'The Cabinet Of Jazz' on Jazz FM, and the recently launched tie-up between Scala Radio and Jazz FM, 'Jazz Meets Classical'.
Organisers of the Fund announced earlier this week that, following discussions with the government's Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and "following the resolution of their negotiations with the BBC over the licence fee settlement, it has been confirmed that TV licence fee funding will not be used to extend the Audio Content Fund beyond the initial pilot project. As such, round nine of the ACF - which closes on 31 Jan - will be the final funding round of that original pilot grant. The ACF will not currently introduce any further funding rounds".
The Fund's MD Sam Bailey added: "We are incredibly proud of our achievements during this three-year pilot period, which will have seen £3.3 million distributed to more than 80 indie production companies, for more than 150 projects broadcast on more than 340 different radio stations. We are grateful to DCMS for the grant that enabled us to deliver this extraordinary portfolio of content for tens of millions of listeners. We will now move to an evaluation stage and explore alternative sources of funding".
Both AudioUK, which represents independent audio production companies, and Radiocentre, the trade body for commercial radio, said that they were disappointed at the decision to no longer provide money for the Fund.
They said in a joint statement: "We are disappointed that further funding is not currently available for the Audio Content Fund. While the Fund will be able to see through its current commissioning rounds, beyond this it is regrettable that audiences seem likely to miss out on the ACF's diverse range of distinctive high-quality public service programmes on their commercial and community station of choice. The Fund provides enormous value-for-money and we will now work with DCMS on an evaluation and to explore other means of supporting the Fund in the future".
Andy Ross dies
Born in South London in 1956, Ross's first brush with the music industry came as frontman of the band Disco Zombies, who released a handful of singles in the late 70s. Later he became a writer for music magazine Sounds and is credited with giving the 'shoegaze' genre its slightly derogatory name.
In 1986, Ross took a job heading up Food Records, the Camden-based independent label founded by The Teardrop Explodes keyboard player David Balfe two years earlier. There Ross signed bands including Blur, Jesus Jones, Dubstar and Idlewild. When Balfe sold Food to EMI in 1994, Ross remained its head.
Having been at the centre of the Britpop scene in the mid-90s, as the music industry changed the label was eventually folded into the then EMI-owned Parlophone label in 2000.
Paying tribute last night, Blur drummer Dave Rowntree said: "Really sad to learn of the passing of my friend and mentor Andy Ross. He was one of the good ones - generous, warm, and kind. They broke the mould".
Soak announces new album, If I Never Know You Like This Again
"This record is the most accurate picture of me", says Monds-Watson. "I felt no pressure at all, it was almost like I was ranting as I was writing. When I was looking to the past, it was as though I had a big lottery ball of all my recent memories and I would just randomly select which one I wanted to unpack. It helped me to process my past".
"I hate the idea of getting older and forgetting, or having a family and not being able to perfectly explain a memory or a feeling", they add. "I always want to remember exactly how I felt at a certain moment".
'If I Never Know You Like This' is out on 20 May, with tours either side of that date. And here they are:
27 Jan: Southampton, Heartbreakers
Tom Rogerson announces new album, Retreat To Bliss
A former member of Three Trapped Tigers, Rogerson wrote 'Retreat To Bliss' following a series of life changes, including moving back to Suffolk, where he grew up, from Berlin. The songs that make up the album were written in a church next to his parents' house.
"All my life, the piano has been my constant companion, my confessor, my best friend, and my worst enemy", he says. "The last few years have brought some struggle, some joy, and a lot of change. My response has been to retreat to what I trust the most: the piano, my voice, and the landscape I grew up in. That's how the album got its title, and how I came to be ready finally to release a solo record".
"I was in the middle of a few months where lots of big life events were happening and I wrote lots of things very quickly, having spent years struggling to do anything at all", he adds. "It was the first sustained period of working by myself with no one else to bounce ideas off, and I instinctively started singing a bit more seriously - I even started using a vocal mic! The whole thing including lyrics was new for me but felt like a necessary response to the mood I was in".
'Retreat To Bliss' is set for release on 25 Mar. Listen to 'Oath' here.
As expected, Cardi B was awarded additional damages yesterday in relation to the defamation action she successfully pursued against YouTuber Latasha Kebe. A jury had already awarded the rapper $1 million in general damages as well as $250,000 in medical expenses. After further deliberations they added $1.5 million in punitive damages, plus $1.3 million legal costs. Though it seems unlikely Kebe has $4 million lying around to pay damages on that scale.
BadBadNotGood have signed a new deal with Third Side Music, extending their existing partnership with the publisher. "Alexander, Chester and Leland are true contemporaries, yet articulate a cross-generational sense of virtuosity and energy only known to them", says Brontë Jane, Third Side Music's VP Creative. "I feel strongly that this next chapter for BadBadNotGood will be the most impactful".
Andy West has been named Executive Vice President and General Manager of Warner Music Canada. He joins from Apple Music. "Andy is a hugely respected exec who has worked with labels and managers to help put Canadian artists on the map", says Warner Music Canada President Kristen Burke. "He combines an enthusiasm for all genres of music with a business brain that enables him to put the right artists in the right places to connect with fans".
Rosa Asciolla has joined Utopia Music as VP Global Artist And Creator Community. She moves over from Spotify. "I'm THRILLED to be joining Utopia at such an exciting time", she says. "With the globalisation of music and data, it's important to continue the journey of empowering creators by providing a one-stop-shop that will enable their growth".
Bryan Adams has released new single 'Never Gonna Rain'. His new album, 'So Happy It Hurts', is out on 11 Mar. He'll also be touring the arenas of the UK in May and July this year.
Franz Ferdinand have released new single 'Curious'. "I had this idea for the lyric", says frontman Alex Kapranos. "Kind of the reverse of one of those life flashing before your mind as you die in a film scenes, where the entire course of a relationship flashes before you the instant you fall in love with someone".
Blossoms will release new album 'Ribbon Around The Bomb' on 29 Apr. Listen to the title track here.
Skunk Anansie have released new single, 'Piggy'. The band are also touring the UK in March and April, and will play the Grace Jones-curated Meltdown Festival in June.
Jameszoo has announced that he will release new album 'Blind' on 11 Mar. From it, this is new single 'Bugatti (Étude)'.
GIGS & TOURS
Sigrid has announced UK tour dates in December this year, including a show at Wembley Arena in London on 12 Nov. Tickets will go on sale on Friday.
Poppy Ackroyd will play Café Oto in London on 20 Sep, she has announced. To give you an idea of what to expect, she's also shared a live session video for her composition 'Suspended'.
The BRIT Awards has announced that it is the first ever awards ceremony to launch its own collection of NFTs. Because someone always has to be the first to be a dickhead. They will at least only cost £10 and help to fund Nordoff Robbins and the BRIT School, which will be a lot of use when we're all under water. "We wanted to find a new way for fans to commemorate their favourite artists winning a BRIT award", says co-Chair of the BRITs Digital Committee Luke Ferrar, apparently seriously.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Management looking into Neil Young's request to boycott Spotify in Joe Rogan protest
It follows a recent open letter signed by more than 250 scientists and medics that stated that the Spotify exclusive podcast has "a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic".
That letter insisted that Spotify itself - as the distributor of the podcast - has responsibility here, because by distributing Joe Rogan's tedious ramblings it is helping to "damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals".
Echoing a number of the specific criticisms contained in that letter, earlier this week Young penned his own note on the matter. Posted to - but subsequently removed from - the musician's website, Young's note addressed his manager Frank Gironda and the boss of his label, Tom Corson at Warner Records.
He wrote: "With an estimated eleven million listeners per episode, JRE - which is hosted exclusively on Spotify - is the world's largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy. I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform ... They can have Rogan or Young. Not both".
"I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines - potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them", he added. "Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule".
Asked about the letter by the Daily Beast, Gironda confirmed that this is "something that's really important to Neil - he's very upset". As for removing Young's music from Spotify, the manager added, "We're trying to figure this out right now".
It's not the first time Young has demanded his music be removed from Spotify, though in 2015 it was because he was disgruntled about the audio quality of music on digital music services - something he was trying to fix at the time with his own ultimately unsuccessful Pono venture.
However, that time Young had his music taken off all the streaming platforms, whereas this time it's only Spotify that has the Joe Rogan exclusive. Given how much Spotify paid to have that exclusive, if push comes to shove, it will presumably have to pick Rogan over Young. Though, as we write this, the musician's music is still happily streaming away on the platform.