TUESDAY 8 FEBRUARY 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The comedians have officially gone legal in the big old dispute over streaming services making comedy performances available with only licences in place covering the recording of those performances, not the funny words contained within. And while the first public beef in this domain involved Spotify, the lawsuits that have just been filed all target Pandora... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Comedians sue Pandora in dispute over literary work licences
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DEALS Four Tet signs to Universal Music Publishing, Domino albums streaming again
Alice In Chains sell rights to Primary Wave and Round Hill

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ARTIST NEWS Rebecca Lucy Taylor named composer for new West End play
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RELEASES Everything Everything announce AI enhanced new album
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Tom Walker announces UK small venue tour
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ONE LINERS Coldplay & Selena Gomez, Pusha T, Alt-J, more
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AND FINALLY... Iggy Pop to receive Polar Music Prize
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Comedians sue Pandora in dispute over literary work licences
The comedians have officially gone legal in the big old dispute over streaming services making comedy performances available with only licences in place covering the recording of those performances, not the funny words contained within. And while the first public beef in this domain involved Spotify, the lawsuits that have just been filed all target Pandora.

The legal battle is being led by Andrew Dice Clay, Bill Engvall and Ron White, and the estates of Robin Williams and George Carlin. They all accuse Pandora of copyright infringement for streaming their comedy recordings without having the right licences in place.

Each lawsuit explains the basic argument: "Just like with music, there are two copyrights involved in the recorded performance of a literary copyrighted work: a copyright in the sound recording, and a separate copyright in the underlying spoken word composition".

Under US copyright law, they add, "copyright owners have the exclusive right to, among other things, reproduce, distribute, license, and publicly perform their works. Anyone wishing to obtain the right to do so, must get a licence from the respective copyright owner in both of these copyrights, and pay agreed to royalties. The failure to do so constitutes copyright infringement".

The point is that, whereas in music, streaming services get one set of licences covering recordings and another set of licences covering the songs contained in those recordings, with comedy content only the former has been sorted.

Recognising that, unlike the music community, the comedy community was not used to separately administering the different copyrights in their work, two entities launched in the US seeking to represent comedians and other spoken word performers in this domain.

Those are Word Collections led by TuneCore and Audiam founder Jeff Price, and Spoken Giants, launched by the founders of comedy label 800 Pound Gorilla Records and a former exec from US song rights collecting society BMI, Jim King.

This whole thing came to wider attention late last year when a bunch of comedy recordings disappeared from Spotify, seemingly because Spoken Giants had been pushing the streaming firm to negotiate a licensing deal covering the literary works of the comedians it now represents. The rights agency insisted it didn't ask for any content to be removed, adding that it just "wanted comedians to be paid for the jokes they write, just like songwriters get paid for the songs they write".

As Spoken Giants and some of the affected comedians spoke out about the takedown of the comedy content, Spotify issued a statement saying: "Spotify has paid significant amounts of money for the content in question, and would love to continue to do so. However, given that Spoken Giants is disputing what rights various licensors have, it's imperative that the labels that distribute this content, Spotify and Spoken Giants come together to resolve this issue to ensure this content remains available to fans around the globe".

In the Pandora dispute, the comedians are allied with Word Collections. Noting how comedy content is streaming on both the main Pandora platform and its premium on-demand service, but without any licences covering the literary works, the lawsuits say: "Beginning in or about August of 2020, Word Collections ... contacted Pandora in an effort to negotiate a licensing agreement for various copyright owners. From that initial contact and on an ongoing basis over the course of the following year, WC made numerous efforts on behalf of WC's ... spoken word/literary works clients to engage Pandora in good faith negotiations, to no avail".

It adds: "While Pandora's counsel wrote on 14 Sep 2021 to advise that counsel would respond with Pandora's position about unlicensed spoken word content appearing on Pandora's platform, no substantive response from Pandora or its counsel has been sent or received". Hence the litigation.

Interestingly, the lawsuits also note that - prior to Sirius XM's acquisition of Pandora in 2018 - the previously standalone Pandora business used to mention the issue around unlicensed spoken word content in its annual filing with the US Securities And Exchange Commission.

In those reports, the lawsuits say, "Pandora admitted in its risk factors ever year that it performs spoken word comedy content 'absent a specific licence from any performing rights organisation' and it has never obtained a licence for the underlying literary works for the sound recordings of spoken word comedy content that it streams. Pandora further admitted that it 'could be subject to significant liability for copyright infringement and may no longer be able to operate under [their] existing licensing regime'".

Pandora is yet to respond to the comedy lawsuits.

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Four Tet signs to Universal Music Publishing, Domino albums streaming again
Universal Music Publishing has signed Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, to a new global publishing deal as his legal dispute with former label Domino on the recordings side continues to go through the motions. Although the albums removed from the streaming services as part of that dispute are back online.

"Four Tet has soundtracked my life from GCSE revision to dancefloors at university and now I get the pleasure to work with him", says A&R Director at Universal's publishing business, Pete Simmons. "I'm honoured to represent a catalogue that means so much to not just me but the whole of UMPG".

Hebden's legal battle with Domino has been under way for over a year now. He argues that under the terms of his 2001 record deal with the indie he should be getting a 50% royalty on all or most of the monies generated by the streaming of the records he made for the label, rather than the 18% he currently receives. Domino counters that that is an incorrect reading of the old record contract.

With the dispute heading to court, in November last year Domino removed the three Four Tet albums it released from streaming services, claiming that it had been advised to do so by its lawyers. At a subsequent hearing in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in London it transpired that that was an attempt to kill the case.

The label had also offered to pay Hebden what he would have received had the higher streaming rate applied, despite still disputing that this rate was due. If it made that payment and no longer exploited his recordings, there would be no active dispute for the court to consider.

However, Hebden's lawyers argued that by removing his albums from the streaming services Domino had actually created a new element to the dispute. At the IP Court hearing, they argued that as a result of the takedowns there was now another breach of contract claim against the label. They also accused Domino of what is known as 'restraint of trade'.

At the lengthy hearing - recently summarised in a written judgement - the judge declined to allow Hebden to add a restraint of trade allegation to his lawsuit, but said the additional breach of contract claim could be included.

That all hinges on whether an obligation on Domino in Hebden's record contract to release his music continues in perpetuity - like its royalty commitments - or if it only applied when the musician and label were actively working on new releases.

With the dispute still progressing, Music Week spotted yesterday that the three albums previously taken down are back on the streaming services. It's not clear if that's as a result of last year's court hearing and the recent written judgement. The label also suffered quite a backlash - from Four Tet fans and the artist community - over the takedowns.

Either way, it's good for UMPG that the albums are back online - an artist's song rights can't make as much money if the key recordings of those songs are not available.

It remains to be seen where the Hebden v Domino case goes next. Including physically. Domino's lawyers reckon the case is getting too complex for the IP Enterprise Court and should be moved to the High Court proper. But Hebden's team has stressed that he can't afford to pursue the case in the main High Court, because his possible liabilities would increase significantly.

So if the case does move to the High Court, Hebden might be forced to abandon the litigation. Although if that happened, it would strengthen calls in the artist and management community as part of the wider economics of streaming debate that a better system is required for addressing artist/label disputes over royalty rates, if the conventional route of going to court is realistically out of the reach of most artists.

--------------------------------------------------

Alice In Chains sell rights to Primary Wave and Round Hill
Primary Wave and Round Hill have acquired music rights and royalties from Alice In Chains. Not jointly, mind. No, they've each got the rights of a different set of band members.

On one side, Primary Wave has partnered with the estates of late frontman Layne Staley and original bassist Mike Starr, taking a stake in their respective publishing catalogues and recording royalties.

Meanwhile, Round Hill is working with surviving band members guitarist Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney, bassist Mike Inez and current frontman William Duvall. It gets a larger catalogue, covering more recent works not involving Staley (who died in 2002) and Inez's share of songs recorded since he replaced Starr in 1993. The deal covers publishing, masters and so called neighbouring rights.

"Primary Wave is pleased to partner with the estates of Layne Staley and Mike Starr to honour their musical legacies as part of the classic era line-up of Alice In Chains, who created the amazing songs and records that comprise the albums 'Dirt' and 'Facelift', and the acoustic EPs 'Jar Of Flies' and 'Sap'", says the company's David Weitzman. "These projects represent the greatest works from one of the best artists of the iconic 90s Seattle-based grunge era".

Of his company's deal, Round Hill CEO Josh Gruss says: "Over more than three decades Alice In Chains has cemented its place in the annals of rock history. As one of the greatest bands of their generation they helped trail blaze a global musical movement and their songwriting, recording and performances have remained consistently exceptional ever since. Seeing them perform at Lollapalooza in 1993 changed my life and now it's happening again. I couldn't be more excited".

The band's most recent album, 'Rainer Fog', was released in 2018.

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Approved: Little Luna
Releasing her debut single, 'Shift & Go', in 2020, Little Luna - aka Rachael Kathryn Bell - has been slowly pushing music out into the world ever since - each of her three singles later joined by a "cinematic" remix. That reworked version of her most recent single - last summer's 'Last Time' - is out now.

"Little Luna is the only space I don't feel pressure to explain myself", she says of the project. "It is in-motion and unapologetic for being what it is on that given day. The cinematic sounds navigate the world I'm currently in and carry me into where I'm going next".

"The lyrics are seedlings of my thoughts from window-down-drives, relationships, and my own place within it all", she adds. "Little Luna is a journey to who we could be, if we take the labels off who we're 'supposed' to be. Self-discovery. Freedom to be who we are".

While her catalogue may be small right now, there is apparently plenty more ready to go. The slick production and unified sound and visual elements suggests a project with a firmly planned strategy, rather than someone just nudging stuff out when the mood takes her. Fingers crossed we won't have to wait another six months for a new release though.

Watch the video for 'Last Time: Cinematic' here.

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

Rebecca Lucy Taylor named composer for new West End play
Rebecca Lucy Taylor - aka Self Esteem - has been hired as the composer for upcoming West End play 'Prima Facie', starring Jodie Comer.

"I am such a huge fan of Rebecca and everything she stands for", says Comer. "Her voice, her words and her honesty. I can't think of a more perfect person to compose the music for our production".

Set to open at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London in April, 'Prima Facie' sees Comer play barrister Tessa who is forced "to confront the lines where the patriarchal power of the law, burden of proof and morals diverge". It is set to run for nine weeks.

Formerly one half of Slow Club, Taylor released her second album as Self Esteem - 'Prioritise Pleasure' - last year. She is nominated for Best New Artist at tonight's BRIT Awards.

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Everything Everything announce AI enhanced new album
Everything Everything have announced that they will release their new album, 'Raw Data Feel', in May. And for this record they've brought in a new collaborator - some AI software.

For the lyrics, song titles and artwork on the album, frontman Jonathan Higgs created an AI programme, which he pumped full of selected pieces of information, including the entire terms and conditions of LinkedIn, the ancient epic poem 'Beowulf', 400,000 4Chan forum posts and the teachings of Confucius. What it spat out afterwards is what you'll hear Higgs singing.

How successful this experiment is can be heard, at least in part, on new single 'Bad Friday', which Higgs says "is about being a victim of violence, explaining it away through the gauze of a 'crazy night out'".

This feeds into the theme of the whole album, he adds, which is about trying to turn horror and trauma into something positive.

"It's the sound of the record as well", he explains. "A lot of technology meeting organic sounds. I think there is a certain type of interaction between [guitarist and album producer Alex Robertshaw's] technology and the human that is using it which is quite unique. I'm really not ashamed to say I think it's amazing".

The album is set for release on 20 May. The same day, the band will release a new book of lyrics, titled 'CAPS LOCK ON: Lyrics + Debris 2007-2022'.

And if that wasn't enough already, the band have also announced tour dates, starting at the end of next month. Here are the dates:

31 Mar: Nottingham, Rock City
1 Apr: Leeds, Academy
2 Apr: Newcastle University
4 Apr: Glasgow, SWG3
5 Apr: Liverpool, Academy
7 Apr: Norwich, Waterfront
8 Apr: Manchester, Academy
9 Apr: Birmingham, Academy
11 Apr: Bristol, Academy
12 Apr: Brighton, Dome
13 Apr: London, The Roundhouse
14 Apr: Stoke, Keele University
16 Apr: Dublin, Academy

Watch the video for 'Bad Friday' here.

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Tom Walker announces UK small venue tour
Tom Walker will embark on a tour of small venues around the UK next month as he previews new material.

"The time has finally come", he says. "I'm setting sail on tour around the UK. Playing a bunch of intimate venues around England, Scotland and Wales to share some brand new music from my upcoming second album. See ya on the road!"

Tickets go on general sale on Friday. The dates are as follows:

15 Mar: Liverpool, Arts Club (Theatre)
16 Mar: Sheffield, Academy
17 Mar: Norwich, Epic
19 Mar: Dundee, Church
20 Mar: Aberdeen, Tunnels
21 Mar: Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
23 Mar: Swansea, Sin City
24 Mar: London, Omeara

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RELEASES

Coldplay have released the video for their Selena Gomez collaboration 'Let Somebody Go', from their 'Music Of The Spheres' album.

Pusha T has released new track 'Diet Coke', produced by Kanye West and 88keys.

Alt-J have released new single 'The Actor'. The band's new album, 'The Dream', is out on Friday.

Kae Tempest has released new single 'Salt Coast'.

Kids and grown-ups agree, Los Bitchos' debut album, 'Let The Festivities Begin', is a winner. Watch the new video for opening track 'The Link Is About To Die' here.

Death Grips' Andy Morin has launched new label A2B2 Records. Its first release will be 'I'm In Your Walls' by Death Insurance. From it, this is 'ifeelgr8'.

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

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Iggy Pop to receive Polar Music Prize
Iggy Pop and Ensemble Intercontemporain have been announced as the winners of this year's Polar Music Prize. Each will receive one million Swedish kroner (about £83,000) and a nice trophy at a ceremony later this year.

"We are delighted to return in 2022, after a two year absence due to the pandemic, with two incredibly worthy laureates", says award MD Marie Ledin. "Iggy Pop is unique, there is no one else quite like him. Ensemble Intercontemporain are a ground-breaking collective and their work has helped push the boundaries of modern classical music. We're THRILLED that we can come together to honour and celebrate the important work of both of these laureates".

Iggy Pop adds: "I was aware of the very fine range of people that had gotten the Polar Music Prize, so it's a nice step for me. I respect it and I'm honoured by it. I'm looking forward to coming to Stockholm in May to receive the prize".

Meanwhile, Matthias Pintscher, musical director of Ensemble Intercontemporain, comments: "I'm beyond excited to be coming to Stockholm in May to receive the Polar Music Prize in honour of the Ensemble Intercontemporain".

Launched in 1992 by Abba manager Stig Anderson, the Polar Music Prize's first recipient was Paul McCartney. It now honours two recipients each year, one from popular music and one from classical.

The last winners before a pandemic forced hiatus were soprano Anna Netrebko and songwriter Diane Warren. Other previous winners include Bruce Springsteen, Björk, Patti Smith, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Elton John and Metallica.

This year's ceremony will take place in Stockholm on 24 May. Here's a little interview with Iggy Pop, cos it's always nice to hear him talk, isn't it?

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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