|WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Ed Sheeran and his 'Shape Of You' co-writers have been awarded more than £900,000 in legal costs following their win in the headline-grabbing song-theft case in the London high court in relation to that work... [READ MORE]|
Ed Sheeran awarded £900,000+ costs following win in Shape Of You song-theft case
Sheeran and his collaborators Johnny McDaid and Steven McCutcheon were accused of ripping off the earlier track 'Oh Why', by singer Sami Chokri, when they wrote 'Shape Of You' in autumn 2016. The allegations were mainly based on a musical segment shared by the two songs, in which Chokri's lyrics went "oh why, oh why, oh why, oh", while Sheeran sang "oh I, oh I, oh I, oh I".
Chokri reckoned that Sheeran had got a copy of his track via mutual contacts in the music industry, while his legal team argued that the similarities between the two songs were so striking that it was "highly improbable” they'd been independently created.
But the Sheeran side countered that there was no firm evidence at all that the star had had access to Chokri's work, while - they insisted - the musical segment shared by the two songs was commonplace in pop music,
In the end the judge hearing the case, Antony Zacaroli, ruled very much in Sheeran's favour. He concluded in April that while there were similarities between the "oh why" and "oh I" segments, there were also differences.
He then stated: "My analysis of the musical elements of 'Shape' more broadly, of the writing process and the evolution of the ["oh I"] phrase, is that these provide compelling evidence that the ["oh I"] phrase originated from sources other than 'Oh Why'”.
He then also added: "I conclude that Mr Sheeran had not heard 'Oh Why' and in any event that he did not deliberately copy the ["oh I"] phrase from the ["oh why"] hook … I am [also] satisfied that Mr Sheeran did not subconsciously copy 'Oh Why' in creating 'Shape'”.
With that ruling made, the next matter to be dealt with was legal costs. With UK legal battles, the losers generally have to cover the costs that were incurred by the winners in pursuing the litigation.
However, Chokri's legal team had various arguments as to why their client shouldn't have to pay Sheeran et al's lawyers, despite him losing the case. But, yesterday Zacaroli confirmed he was rejecting those arguments.
It was actually the Sheeran side that went legal first in this dispute, albeit only after the Chokri side had claimed 'Shape Of You' infringed 'Oh Why' and had logged a dispute with collecting society PRS which resulted in a portion of the 'Shape Of You' royalties being frozen. Chokri then countersued. But as a result, the Sheeran side are the claimants and the Chokri side the defendants.
In his ruling on legal costs, Zacaroli notes how the Chokri side "claimed that the conduct of the claimants, both before and during the proceedings, is such that they should be deprived of all of their costs".
Running through the bad conduct alleged by the Chokri side, the judge continues: "The defendants allege that the claimants: failed to engage in pre-action correspondence; failed to remedy that default, by then failing to provide disclosure of documents (predominantly voice notes and project files) relating to how 'Shape' came to be written; [and] maintained that failure throughout the litigation”.
In addition to that, the Chokri side claimed that the Sheeran team "demonstrated 'awkwardness and opacity' so as to strengthen the defendants' conviction that infringement had occurred; and failed (in the case of Mr Sheeran) to provide an adequate response to failings in disclosure, following a [court] order on ... 2 Dec 2021".
But, the judge confirms, he is not convinced by those arguments. "While I accept that the conduct of the parties is a matter which the court is entitled to take into account in exercising its discretion in relation to costs", he says, "I am not persuaded that I should exercise my discretion otherwise than by ordering the defendants to pay the claimants all of their costs in such amount as will be determined on detailed assessment".
Zacaroli outlines his reasoning in the judgement posted yesterday. On the document disclosure point, he explains: "The defendants contend that that the claimants' pre-action steps fell far short of the requirement to disclose 'key documents relevant to the issues in dispute'. They contend that the claimants should have disclosed voice memos or other ambient recordings of the writing session on 12 Oct 2016, project files and, to the extent that any such 'key documents' were missing, they should have provided an explanation of how 'Shape' came to be written".
But, he goes on, "I do not accept that there was any obligation on the claimants to go this far, which would have necessitated making the kind of searches required in a full disclosure exercise. The defendants themselves, who were positively asserting infringement, had given no disclosure at all in support of their assertion (which was a critical element of their claim) that the claimants had had access to 'Oh Why'".
Having concluded that the Chokri side should cover the Sheeran side's costs, there is then a discussion in Zacaroli's judgement as to what those costs should be, and some accompanying maths with a few deductions being made along the way. At the end of that, the judge orders Chokri to make an "interim payment" of £916,200.
Glassnote allies with The Orchard on distribution
In a way it's both a shift within and a return to the Sony Music empire. Glassnote most recently worked with AWAL on its distribution, which was still a Kobalt company when that partnership began, but is now a Sony subsidiary of course. The indie also previously worked with RED, Sony's old distribution division that eventually got merged into The Orchard. Between working with RED and AWAL, there was a Universal alliance.
"The Glassnote Records team has built a home for artists that supports and cultivates creativity”, says Orchard boss Brad Navin, confirming the new deal. "As a strategic partner, The Orchard will continue to empower and reinforce their creative vision, and help all artists under the partnership expand their reach in international markets".
And Glassnote founder Daniel Glass adds: "The Glassnote team is THRILLED to be working with The Orchard. The global reach and expertise of their team in both digital and traditional distribution will be an asset to our talented roster and the slate of incredible releases we have coming".
Hard Rock partners with AEG for BST Hyde Park
"As we reflect on half a century of Hard Rock, which started right here in London and has since expanded to reach all corners of the globe with venues in over 70 countries, we're THRILLED to take part in such an iconic cultural celebration by helping extend access to music lovers and enrich the experiences of festival goers at BST Hyde Park”, says Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen. See, told you.
How is Hard Rock extending access and enriching experiences? Well, it will be operating a pop-up cafe alongside the BST festival, which runs from this Friday through to 10 Jul with big shows headlined by the likes of Adele, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and Duran Duran at the weekends, and lots of free activities and events during the week. Plus it will be sponsoring the event's new talent stage.
"For 50 years Hard Rock has been associated with the biggest names in music", adds CEO of European Festivals at AEG Presents, Jim King. "We look forward to sharing their glorious history at BST Hyde Park this summer where music fans can enjoy the famous Hard Rock Cafe and the Hard Rock Rising Stage".
If Hard Rock doing musical stuff in Hyde Park during the summer sounds kind of familiar, you might be remembering its previous tie up with Live Nation that resulted in the Hard Rock Calling events, also in Hyde Park. Or maybe you just had a weird dream involving music, summer, Hyde Park and a Hard Rock burger. That's always a possibility.
MCPR names Jack Delaney as Head Of Talent
"We are THRILLED to welcome Jack to the team here at MCPR”, says founder Murray Chalmers and MD Sarah Henderson in a joint statement. "Our vision for the future relies on an excellent team and Jack's substantial experience, nuanced understanding of the ever-changing media landscape and future focused approach to PR aligns perfectly with our plans and ethos. We're delighted to have him on board”.
Meanwhile, Delaney adds: "It's a real privilege to join MCPR as their Head Of Talent. Their reputation in the industry is unparalleled with a fantastic and broad ranging roster of clients, a testament to the brilliant team and forward thinking leadership. I'm looking forward to help create the next chapter for the agency.”
Delaney had already been working with MCPR on a freelance basis since September last year. Prior to that he was Head Of Music at Outside Organisation for five years, leaving in 2020 to launch his own PR firm, Number 23.
Liraz works face to face with secret Iranian band for the first time on new album
Raised in Israel, Liraz used her debut album 'Naz' as a way to connect with her Persian roots - mixing tradition and more modern music and singing entirely in Farsi. After the album was released, she found that Iranian musicians, working under the radar of Tehran's secret police, began getting in touch.
Eventually, she and some of those musicians began working together online on what would become her second album, 'Zan', which was released in 2020. With everyone having stayed in touch, for the third record in what seems to have become an accidental trilogy the anonymous Iranian musicians travelled to Tel Aviv to record with Liraz and her Israeli band.
"All I remember are fragments”, says Liraz of meeting these musicians for the first time, "The fear and anxiety I felt when I knew they were on their way. The tears of joy and relief we all cried as we embraced. And the music we made! Such music!”
Of new single 'Azizam' - the title of which translates as 'Dearest' - she says: "'Azizam' is a joyful and rhythmic love song, with an open and honest way of viewing relationships. Two lovers. Hearts bonded together, bodies miles apart. Their longing for each other overpowers all other emotions, a feeling of madness engulfing them. They are crazy about each other, and crazy with unfulfilled wants and desires”.
"These lovers are us”, she goes on. "They are a reflection of my relationship with my Iranian friends. We are bonded together, yet physically distant. Mad with longing, crazy with desire and yet - happy in our love. The emotions are raw and real. The craziness is a reflection of the uncertainties of our world, and the love a reminder that amidst all the chaos, there is still so much laughter and happiness surrounding us”.
Kees van Weijen awarded IMPALA outstanding contribution prize
Beginning his career in 1974, van Weijen started out as a radio plugger at Polydor, working his way up the hierarchy at that label and its parent company Polygram, including a stint at its London office. Then, in the 1990s, he launched and ran the Benelux office of MCA Records. When MCA was acquired by Seagram and subsequently merged with Polygram to create Universal Music, he held a number of executive positions at the mega-major before leaving in 2003.
Since 2004 he has run his own music consultancy HIT4US, while also being very active in the music distribution space, along the way working with Bertelsmann's Arvato Entertainment Services, Rough Trade Distribution and [PIAS] Distribution, and in doing so collaborating with and supporting a plethora of independent labels.
As a result, he also became an active member of the indie label community. That in turn led to stints as President of IMPALA and as a board member of the World Independent Network. And he remains President of the STOMP organisation in the Netherlands.
Confirming the presentation of the Outstanding Contribution award to van Weijen, IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith comments: "Kees' contribution to the European music sector has proven exceptional. This award highlights his commitment to the sector and his constant presence on the ground pushing the values of the independents all across Europe and helping to make central and Eastern Europe an integral part of IMPALA”.
Van Weijen himself adds: "I am very honoured to receive this prestigious Outstanding Contribution award by IMPALA. Working with all the independent trade associations in Europe over the years has given me so much energy”.
"In an ever changing and evolving music industry”, he goes on, "it has always been my goal to achieve a level playing field for all the artists, musicians and label staff. Being recognised with this award gives me great pleasure and I appreciate it a lot. I could not have achieved our goals without the support of the board, staff and committees of IMPALA. It has always been a joint effort”.
Van Weijen previously won the Dutch IFPI's outstanding contribution to the music industry award in 2011, so this new trophy will go nicely with that one.
Downtown-owned music distributor FUGA has announced some new hires in its marketing teams. UK-based Helen Barrass - most recently with AWAL - becomes Head Of Marketing Strategy at the firm's London office, while US-based Ryan Stockwell - previously working for Create Music Group - becomes Senior Marketing Services Director for the Americas based out of LA. Other new marketing hires included Juli Miranda as Digital Campaign Manager; Gemma Hart as Digital Accounts Manager UK; and Chiara Benedetti as Marketing Operations Coordinator.
Kasabian have released the video for 'Chemicals'. Their new album, 'The Alchemist's Euphoria', is out on 5 Aug.
Sub Focus has released new track 'Off The Ground'.
Jada Kingdom has released new single 'Fling It Back', from her new EP 'New Motion', which is also out now.
Built To Spill have released new single 'Fool's Gold'. The band's new album, 'When the Wind Forgets Your Name', is out on 9 Sep.
Stella Donnelly has released new single 'Flood'. It's the title track from her new album, out on 26 Aug.
Agar Agar are back with new single 'Trouble'. "We wrote 'Trouble' during a period of extreme boredom”, say the duo. "It's a track that talks about being confined within a limited space, the need to escape those borders and the overwhelming weariness we feel when there's no way out”. They are set to play Studio 9294 in London on 8 Sep.
Skott has released new single 'Evergreen'.
GIGS & TOURS
Kid Cudi will play the O2 in London on 15 Nov - his first UK show since 2009. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Susanne Vega has announced UK tour dates next year, kicking off in February and winding up at Royal Festival Hall in London on 2 Mar. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
British music scenes outside London are thriving, says BPI
According to some champion number crunching by the two organisations, 62% of the most popular albums by British artists in the UK over the last year were made by music-makers who grew up, or formed their bands, outside of London.
Given how many more artists grow up outside of London than inside the capital, I guess that's probably not a surprise. But still, hurrah for the regions! Can we make it an even bigger hurrah? Well, yes, if we remove or hone in on certain genres. Because, as you might expect, there are some genre discrepancies here.
If rap is removed from the totals, then the share of music originating from outside London rises to 74%. Looking at rock music alone, 79% of the music-makers behind the best performing albums are not from (or at least not originally from) the capital.
"The UK has long been recognised as one of the world's leading music cultures, with a track record of producing globally successful superstars”, says BPI chief exec Geoff Taylor. "This new BPI analysis highlights that artistic talent continues to be nurtured and developed across all parts of the UK, and it's this rich diversity both musically and geographically, supported by record labels, that is the key to our global music status and should be protected and enhanced”.
Liverpool proves to be the UK's most successful city outside of London for generating successful music talent, with albums from the likes of CamelPhat, Wombats, Jamie Webster, Mysterines and that Paul McCartney all counting to its score. The North West as a whole is the most successful region, with 29 of the top 300 UK albums made by artists from the region.
Here's the full top ten of non-London places you should probably be looking for new talent: