|THURSDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Companies representing the estates of Jimi Hendrix Experience members Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell have requested that legal action filed with the courts in New York by the Hendrix estate and Sony Music be dismissed on jurisdiction grounds. That legal action seeks court confirmation that agreements reached between the Hendrix estate and Mitchell and Redding back in the early 1970s are still in force... [READ MORE]|
Dispute over Jimi Hendrix Experience catalogue should be heard in UK, say UK-based estates of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell
The UK-based companies representing the Redding and Mitchell estates have filed their own litigation in the English courts, specifically against Sony Music UK. They claim that the two estates control rights in the Jimi Hendrix Experience catalogue - which is distributed by Sony - and that those rights are being infringed while loads of royalties go unpaid.
Before they filed their lawsuits, the Redding and Mitchell companies issued a cease-and-desist to Sony in London. That prompted the major in the US - alongside the companies that manage the Hendrix estate - to file papers with the New York courts.
They argue that, after Hendrix's death in 1970, both Redding and Mitchell signed agreements with the Hendrix estate via which they basically gave up any copyright or royalty claims in relation to recordings made by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in return for "significant monetary consideration". Those agreements also included a commitment not to sue the Hendrix estate.
With the Hendrix companies and Sony correctly assuming that the cease-and-desist from the Redding and Mitchell companies meant a lawsuit was incoming in the UK, they preempted that action by going to court in New York seeking confirmation that those 1970s agreements were still in force. Those agreements, it's argued, dispute all the claims being made by the Redding and Mitchell companies.
The Hendrix companies also note that neither Redding nor Mitchell ever raised any issues with their 1970s agreements prior to their deaths in 2003 and 2008 respectively. And, indeed, at various points they actually collaborated with those companies on different projects, suggesting there were no grievances between the musicians and the Hendrix estate.
With legal action now filed in relation to this dispute on both sides of the Atlantic, the Redding and Mitchell companies reckon that the New York courts should decline to get involved on the basis that this is a dispute over English copyrights claimed by English companies representing the estates of English musicians. And while the agreements cited by the Hendrix side were signed in the US, that's not grounds enough to pursue this dispute through the American courts.
The two companies say in their new legal filing with the New York courts that they are "English companies that have no contacts with New York of any kind. They are the assignees in England of copyrights, performance rights, and intellectual property rights from the respective estates of two English musicians, David Noel Redding and John 'Mitch' Mitchell".
Setting out the core dispute, the filing goes on: "The parties vigorously dispute the ownership of those rights. Plaintiffs claim they - not [Redding, Mitchell or the companies set up by their estates] - are the sole owners of the copyrights and intellectual property rights in question. [The Redding and Mitchel companies] claim they acquired certain copyrights, performance rights, and intellectual property rights in the works under English law, including rights that did not even exist until 1988 at the earliest".
Bringing it back to jurisdiction, it continues: "Although plaintiffs dispute ownership of the rights in question, they admit they intend to rely on English law - including the Copyright Act 1956, the Copyright, Designs And Patents Act 1988, and the Copyright And Related Rights And Regulations 1996 SI 2967 (the latter two of which were not even in existence when the [1970s agreements] were signed) - in this action".
As for the 1970s agreements, although those came at the end of a legal dispute in New York, that doesn't mean the New York courts automatically have jurisdiction in relation to any dispute linked to those agreements, the Redding and Mitchell companies add. Neither agreement "purported to reserve jurisdiction" to any New York court, they argue, nor did they "purport to subject" Redding or Mitchell "to the continuing personal jurisdiction".
With all that in mind, the Redding and Mitchell companies want the court in New York to dismiss the legal filing made by the Hendrix companies and Sony on jurisdiction grounds.
Or - if the New York court reckons it does in fact have jurisdiction - it should still "dismiss this action under the doctrine of forum non conveniens in favour of the pending action in the United Kingdom". That being the doctrine that a case should be dismissed in one court if there is "an appropriate and more convenient" alternative court where a dispute can be heard.
We await to see how the Hendrix estate and Sony respond.
Judge overseeing Astroworld cases issues gagging order restricting what plaintiffs and attorneys can say
Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Travis Scott's headline set on 5 Nov 2021 at the Houston-based festival he founded. As a criminal investigation got underway to ascertain if decisions made by event organisers before or during the festival contributed to the crowd surge, hundreds of those affected by the incident filed lawsuits, including the families of those who died.
Various defendants are named in the lawsuits - including venue NRG Park and Apple Music, which was livestreaming the show - though Scott himself and the festival's promoters - Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary - are the main targets of the litigation.
Earlier this month it was confirmed that 387 lawsuits relating to Astroworld would be consolidated, so to make it easier to manage the legal action. It was then subsequently announced that judge Kristen Hawkins would oversee the proceedings.
According to ABC13 in Houston, she issued an order last week restricting what plaintiffs and lawyers can say about the case. Her office told the broadcaster that it was the judge herself who decided such an order was required, which is to say, she was not responding to a request from either plaintiffs or defendants. The judge feels that such restrictions are required to ensure a fair trial should the litigation end in court before a jury.
Hawkins' order stated: "The court finds that the willingness of attorneys to give interviews and independently post case events to social media will only to serve to increase the volume of pre-trial and in-trial publicity. The court further finds that an order restricting extra-judicial commentary by counsel for the parties is necessary to preserve all parties' right to a fair trial by an impartial jury".
A Houston-based criminal lawyer not involved in any Astroworld cases, Stan Schneider, told ABC13 that it was unusual for a judge to issue an order like this in a civil case, not least because civil cases often don't ultimately make it to trial.
"It's rare that a judge on their own will issue a gag order on the case", he told the broadcaster. "It's rare they will take the initiative and say this is how we will limit publicity". He added that "in a civil case, very few of them go to trial", which generally means that people involved in a case talking about the proceedings doesn't "have the same implications that a criminal case would have".
However, Kenneth Williams, a law professor at South Texas College, told ABC13 that - while what Schneider says is true - courts nevertheless have the power to restrict what those involved in civil cases can say in public. He said: "Generally, the parties have a right to speak, that includes the litigants - but, the court also can balance that with the need to provide a fair trial to both parties".
Beatport expands its offering for labels via Ampsuite acquisition
"Ampsuite's technology will be used to power Beatport's suite of professional tools and services", says an official statement, "whilst Ampsuite's existing management team continues to provide a broader distribution service to other digital retailers".
Confirming the deal, Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels says: "We admire the 'software as a service' products that Ampsuite has built and believe that our entire community of artists, labels and distributors can benefit from a more seamless integration with the Beatport ecosystem. We have a very unique relationship with our content partners and DJs of all types around the world, and this expanding set of tools and services will only help to accelerate growth for our entire community over the next few years".
Meanwhile, Ampsuite co-founder and Director Keith McDonnell adds: "Ampsuite has been building tools that help independent labels more effectively run their businesses for the last ten years. Becoming part of Beatport's extensive ecosystem will enable us to develop and bring software solutions to an even bigger audience. We're excited to get started".
Live Nation upbeat as it publishes its 2021 figures
However, they were up more than threefold compared to 2020, with operations in the US and UK in particular slowly getting back to normal in the second half of the year, even with the blip caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus right at the end of 2021.
In his statement accompanying Live Nation figures for 2021 at large - as well as the final quarter of the year - the company's CEO Michael Rapino writes: "The year started in the midst of the pandemic, but by summer fans were returning to shows, and by the end of the year, we had a record pipeline of concerts, ticket sales and advertising commitments for 2022".
"Restarting our concerts business in the second half of the year", he goes on, "we put on over 17,000 concerts for 35 million fans in 2021, mainly in our US and UK markets. In the final five months of the year, in the US and UK, we had over 15 million fans attend our outdoor events - festivals, stadiums and amphitheaters - nearly 25% higher than during the same period in 2019".
And in those markets - like England and the US - where COVID restrictions were sufficiently relaxed to allow shows to go ahead by summer 2021, ticket-buyers were spending more money.
"We saw demand driven price increases", Rapino adds, "particularly with platinum and other front of the house ticket pricing. Fans on-site also continued spending more, with average per fan revenue up double-digits for the year relative to 2019 levels, across each of amphitheaters, festivals and theatre and clubs".
And the brand partnerships side of the business is also getting back to normal, he says. "Sponsorship and advertising ... income ... was roughly the same for the second half of 2021 as it was in 2019, which was a record level. This interest came from a mix of expanding long-term relationships with brands like Bacardi, Heineken and O2, as well as adding new brand partners including Coinbase, Hulu and Cinch".
Of course, COVID restrictions were still in force in many countries - and even in those markets where full capacity shows were possible, cancellations were still more common as and when artists and crew contracted the virus - meaning 2021 was still a restricted year for Live Nation. Total revenues came in at $6.27 billion, compared to $11.55 billion in 2019.
However, despite there still being plenty of doom and gloom for the live sector at large throughout last year, for Live Nation the post-pandemic recovery definitely got underway. And things are looking good for 2022, Rapino insists, citing sales through the company's ticketing business Ticketmaster as justification for that optimism.
"With the strength in ticket sales", he writes, "we are seeing every leading indicator for 2022 up relative to 2019, reinforcing our confidence that we will have a record year in 2022 that sets us up for growth over the next several years".
"The two year wait for artists and fans is over", he concludes. "Never have the tailwinds to our business been so strong, and I believe this is just the start of what will be the strongest multi-year period ever for the concert industry".
Florence And The Machine return with King
"As an artist, I never actually thought about my gender that much", says Florence Welch. "I just got on with it. I was as good as the men and I just went out there and matched them every time".
"But now, thinking about being a woman in my 30s and the future, I suddenly feel this tearing of my identity and my desires", she continues. "That to be a performer, but also to want a family might not be as simple for me as it is for my male counterparts".
"I had modelled myself almost exclusively on male performers, and for the first time I felt a wall come down between me and my idols as I have to make decisions they did not".
No details of the group's fifth album have yet been made public, but it is expected at some point this year. Earlier this week, the new single was teased, with the subtitle 'Chapter 1', in letters sent to fans and a teaser video.
'King' comes accompanied by a video directed by Autumn de Wilde. Watch that here.
GWAR announces new album, graphic novel and UK tour dates
New album, 'The New Dark Ages', is set for release on 3 Jun and will be accompanied by companion graphic novel, 'GWAR In The Duoverse Of Absurdity'.
"This is the greatest rock record of all time", says frontman The Berserker Blóthar. "These are the songs for a new age, a New Dark Age, when men live by the dimming light of a technology destined to betray them. Listen, as we have a rock and roll orgy in the ruins of the world to celebrate humanity's descent into an age of darkness, disease, ignorance and death".
As for the upcoming tour dates, he adds: "Ah Europe, the Old Country. We shall sweep across the continent like the plague, bringing pestilence and death and our unquenchable thirst for heavy metal glory".
So, yes, here are the UK tour dates...
8 Aug: Dover, The Booking Hall
Sony Music has confirmed that it has received regulator approval in Brazil to acquire the country's biggest independent record company Som Livre. The deal was initially announced last year but has now been approved by regulator CADE. The Brazilian firm also has publishing and live divisions. "Som Livre's roster of artists and songwriters, as well as employees, will now benefit from Sony Music's global network of resources and partnerships, offering greater worldwide reach for Brazil's creative community", the major said yesterday.
Beth Nielsen Chapman has signed to Cooking Vinyl and will release a new album, titled 'CrazyTown', later this year. "I'm THRILLED to announce that my new record 'CrazyTown' is coming out on Cooking Vinyl this fall", she says. "It is a joy to be working with such a fantastic team at Cooking Vinyl and I'm looking forward to hitting the road with this new music finally seeing the light of day".
Wise Music Group subsidiary G Schirmer has acquired the worldwide publishing rights of composer Franz Waxman. "We are extraordinarily honoured to be the worldwide publisher of Franz Waxman's incredible film and concert oeuvre", says G Schirmer President Robert Thompson. "Schirmer is deeply committed to fostering his legacy".
Warner Music Group has announced a partnership with blockchain gaming developer Splinterlands. "I don't think we can underestimate how massive the opportunity around [play to earn] gaming is", says WMG Chief Digital Officer Oana Ruxandra. "Our partnership with Splinterlands pulls focus to our artists and their music as we all work together to develop and maintain tokenised games. As we build, we will be unlocking new revenue streams for our artists while further solidifying fans' participation in value created".
Management firm YMU has promoted Anthony Rodol to the position of Managing Director, US Music. "It's truly an honour to be able to lead our exceptional team to even greater success and work with such a talented client roster", he says. "My goal for the division is for us to always be forward thinking with a focus on providing a first-class level of service, expertise and innovation for all our clients whether it be across streaming, touring, Web3, NFTs, IP opportunities, and more".
Warner Music Latina has unveiled a new executive team, with Roberto Andrade Dirak joining as Managing Director, while Hector Rivera becomes SVP Head Of A&R, Latin Music and Ruben Abraham moves up to SVP Marketing And Artist Strategy. "I'm delighted that Roberto has joined us at Warner Music and that Hector and Ruben have stepped up into these expanded roles", says Warner Music Latin America President Alejandro Duque. "With Roberto on board we can accelerate our vision to be a truly artist-first label with a globalised approach to artist development".
Kabiru Bellohas has been promoted to the new post of VP Global A&R at Warner Recorded Music, and will continue to head up Asylum Records Nordics. "This role gives me the chance to push culture forward, creating and growing new collaborations across our global A&R network, and enabling our artists to connect with fans in places they've never previously reached", he says.
Artist and label services company Empire has launched Empire Africa. Ezegozie Eze Jr has been appointed VP Market Development, Kareem Mobalaji is Regional Head West Africa, and Titilope Adesanya joins as Project Manager.
Universal Music Group has announced that Richard Cusick has been appointed to the role of Chief Product Officer, Global E-Commerce. "Music has the unique ability to cross borders, cultures and languages to build highly engaged global fan communities", he says. "UMG is already a leader in creating exciting products and experiences for their artists to engage with their fans around the world and I look forward to working with [the major's] team to help build on that track record of excellence and deliver growth".
Sony Music Publishing has promoted Alison Hook to SVP Sampling And Copyright Infringement, UK & International. "Sampling is a staple tool in songwriting across many musical genres", she says. "I am excited to be working in this innovative role, in which our sampling strategy will be aligned globally, maximising our efficiency for both Sony's songwriters and those seeking to sample our repertoire".
Ellara Wakely has been appointed as a BBC Radio 3 Commissioning Executive, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. "At BBC Radio 3 we are committed to continually broadening the diversity of our output and the music and artists we share with our audiences", says Radio 3 Controller Alan Davey. "Ellara's fresh ideas, passion and experience in diversity and inclusion make her the ideal candidate for the role. We are delighted that she will be actively contributing to the future direction of Radio 3".
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Universal Music Group has announced the launch of Def Jam India. "The launch of Def Jam India could not come at a better time for music in India", says Devraj Sanyal, CEO of Universal Music India & South Asia. "Our domestic hip hop and rap artists are rapidly growing into some of the most exciting talents in the region, taking their rightful space alongside mainstream national and regional pop, and what better home for those artists than Def Jam, the pioneering global home of hip hop".
The O2 in London has confirmed it will reopen tomorrow - 25 Feb - after it was forced to close for a few days following last week's storms which damaged the dome that covers the venue complex. The Dave shows that had to be cancelled as a result have been rescheduled for next week on 28 Feb and 1 Mar.
EDUCATION & EVENTS
Former Chief Economist of Spotify and PRS for Music, Will Page, has been announced as a keynote speaker at AIM Connected 2022. The event will take place at BAFTA 195 in London on 1 Mar. More info here.
Lil Durk will released new album '7220' on 11 Mar. Here's new single 'Ahhh Ha'.
Mura Masa has released new single 'Bbycakes', featuring Lil Uzi Vert, PinkPantheress and Shygirl.
Regina Spektor has announced that she will release 'Home, Before And After', her first album for six years, on 24 Jun. Its first single, 'Becoming All Alone', is out now.
Sasami has released new single 'Make It Right'. Her new album, 'Squeeze', is out tomorrow.
Coheed & Cambria have released new single 'The Liars Club'. New album 'Vaxis II: A Window of The Waking Mind' is out on 27 May.
Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen has released new solo single 'Unpeopled Space'. His new album, 'You Belong There', is out on 8 Apr.
!!! have announced that they will release new album 'Let It Be Blue' on 6 May. New single, 'Storm Around The World', is out now.
Hannah Diamond has released new single 'Staring At The Ceiling'. And not a moment too soon.
Tom Rogerson has released new single 'Chant'. His new solo album, 'Retreat To Bliss', is out on 25 Mar.
Elf Power have released their first new single for five years, 'The Gas Inside The Tank'. An album is due later this year.
Alabaster DePlumbe has released new single 'Mrs Calamari'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kanye West releases four Donda 2 tracks
'Security', 'Pablo', 'Open Road' and 'We Did It Kid' - all of which were previewed at West's live launch event in Miami earlier this week - are now available to download on the $200 Stem Player devices to listen to and remix to your heart's content.
West announced the arrival of the four tracks in a since-deleted tweet last night. He gave no indication as to when the rest would arrive - the full album having been expected (by people with short memories) as soon as that launch event finished on Tuesday.
Last week, West said that the new record would not be available via streaming services, but would instead be made available exclusively through the Stem Player device he launched last year. The move was apparently a protest against the royalties paid out to artists from streaming.
On Saturday, he then announced that he'd sold more than $2 million worth of the devices to around 8000 fans in just 24 hours. This obviously still makes the number of people able to listen to 'Donda 2' when it arrives in full relatively small. Until it hits the piracy sites, of course.