THURSDAY 4 AUGUST 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: A court in California has declined to dismiss on jurisdiction grounds Lil Yachty's lawsuit against DIY distributor Ditto Music and its co-founder Lee Parsons. It means the litigation - in relation to the music NFT start-up also founded by Parsons, Opulous - can proceed... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Judge declines to dismiss Lil Yachty's Ditto Music lawsuit on jurisdiction grounds
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LEGAL US judge declines to dismiss Maria Schneider legal battle with YouTube over Content ID access
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DEALS BMG acquires Schlager label Telamo
Concord acquires Native Tongue
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS BPI boss to stand down next year
Distiller launches new VR division
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES SoundCloud confirms down-sizing that could impact up to 20% of its workforce
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AND FINALLY... Metallica cash in on 'Stranger Things' sync will new merchandise
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Judge declines to dismiss Lil Yachty's Ditto Music lawsuit on jurisdiction grounds
A court in California has declined to dismiss on jurisdiction grounds Lil Yachty's lawsuit against DIY distributor Ditto Music and its co-founder Lee Parsons. It means the litigation - in relation to the music NFT start-up also founded by Parsons, Opulous - can proceed.

The rapper - real name Miles McCollum - went legal in January claiming that Opulous had used his name and brand as part of its launch communications last year, even though he had never agreed to get involved in the new venture. Ditto and Parsons were also defendants on that lawsuit on the basis that - as a sister company to and founder of Opulous respectively - they had posted about those launch communications on their social media channels.

McCollum's lawsuit conceded that he and his management team had met with Parsons to discuss Opulous, which encourages fans to invest in new music in return for a royalty right linked to any tracks they support, all secured via NFTs on the blockchain. However, it insisted, they never agreed to work with the NFT start-up, or for Lil Yachty's name to be linked to it in formal communications.

Opulous quickly responded to the lawsuit by insisting that, in fact, its "use of Lil Yachty's name and likeness were all authorised by Lil Yachty and his representatives". However, it was co-defendants Ditto and Parsons that actually responded in court, seemingly because Opulous - formally based in Singapore - had yet to be served with any legal papers.

In their court filing, both Ditto and Parsons sought to have McCollum's lawsuit dismissed on jurisdiction grounds, because Ditto is a UK-based company and Parsons is a British citizen with no formal connections to California. McCollum's legal team then filed their own papers arguing that the Californian courts did, in fact, have jurisdiction, over both Parson's and his business.

Summarising the two sides' arguments in a judgement yesterday, the judge overseeing the case explained: "The thrust of defendants' motion is that both Ditto and Parsons are international citizens with insufficient California contacts to allow this court to exercise personal jurisdiction over them. While plaintiff admits that the court lacks general jurisdiction, he argues that jurisdiction is proper under Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2), which provides jurisdiction over international residents if they have sufficient contacts with the United States as a whole".

In terms of Ditto, the judge agreed that there are indeed sufficient contacts with the US for the Californian courts to have jurisdiction. In his ruling, the judge noted that Ditto lists LA and New York offices on its website, and has actively recruited and has employees based in America. He also focused on various social media posts on Ditto's official accounts bigging up events in the US.

Regarding those social media posts, the judge wrote: "This evidence establishes that Ditto has at least some presence in the United States. But perhaps most saliently, this evidence establishes that Ditto has social media followers in the United States, that Ditto knows it has social media followers in the United States, and that Ditto uses social media to advertise or otherwise connect with its United States audience".

Regarding Parsons himself, the judge stated: "Defendants argue that Parsons should be summarily dismissed from the action because his alleged contacts with the United States are protected by the fiduciary shield doctrine. The court disagrees. It is true that corporate agents whose conduct derives from their affiliation with a corporation are subject to the fiduciary shield doctrine for the purposes of establishing jurisdiction. Nonetheless, exercising personal jurisdiction is proper if the corporate officer was a 'primary participant' in the alleged wrongdoing".

Noting that it was Parsons who met with McCollum and his management to discuss Opulous - and that he had personally posted to social media when his NFT business put out the communications name-checking the rapper - the judge concluded: "Courts throughout this district have exercised personal jurisdiction over corporate officers when the officers were active participants in the tortious conduct. Here, there is sufficient evidence to support such a finding over defendant Parsons".

And so, Lil Yachty's litigation against Ditto and Parsons in relation to Opulous can continue.

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US judge declines to dismiss Maria Schneider legal battle with YouTube over Content ID access
A US judge has declined to dismiss the lawsuit being pursued by musician Maria Schneider against YouTube over who has access to the Google service's Content ID rights management system.

Despite YouTube claiming last year that the most recent version of Schneider's lawsuit contains a "potpourri of pleading problems", the judge overseeing the case declared this week that the video platform's arguments for dismissal were "unavailing".

Schneider argues that while Content ID may be a pretty decent rights management system - providing tools that allow copyright owners to remove or monetise videos that contain their content - access to those tools is restricted to bigger corporate rights owners, and aggregators and distributors. YouTube doesn't deny that access to Content ID is limited, but says that it has to be careful who it allows to use those tools, given it's a pretty powerful rights management system.

Those limitations mean independent creators have to use YouTube's manual takedown systems instead, which - Schneider reckons - are not fit for purpose.

YouTube is obliged to provide a takedown system to benefit from the copyright safe harbour, which allows it to avoid liability for copyright infringing content uploaded by its users. So the question is: however good Content ID may be, while many creators can't access those tools, are the Google site's manual systems sufficient for it to qualify for safe harbour protection?

Schneider originally had a co-defendant who had to bail on the case after YouTube showed that said co-defendant had broken the video platform's rules regarding content uploads and takedowns.

But even once that co-defendant was removed - and some new co-defendants were added in his place - YouTube argued that there were still plenty of problems with Schneider's lawsuit. In fact, a "potpourri" of problems. And to that end, late last year the Google company asked for the litigation to be dismissed.

But, according to Billboard, judge James Donato this week ruled that YouTube's arguments in favour of having Schneider's lawsuit dismissed at this stage were not effective, indeed they were "unavailing" and "not well taken". As a result, the dispute will now proceed into the discovery phase.

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BMG acquires Schlager label Telamo
BMG is acquiring Germany's largest independent record label Telamo, a leading player in German Schlager music.

It's the current iteration of BMG's biggest single label acquisition to date in its home country of Germany, and on a global basis its biggest label investment since the acquisition of Nashville-based country label BBR Music Group in 2017.

Telamo's current team will stay in place once the deal is completed, with co-founder Ken Otremba as Managing Director. Meanwhile his other co-founders - Kathleen Herrmann and Marko Wünsch - will continue to act as consultants for the label.

Confirming the deal, Otremba says: "Since our inception, our goal has been to create the optimal and most modern conditions for our artists. We are proud and excited now to welcome our artists to a brand-new chapter. Telamo will maintain its previous partnerships but will now offer access to more opportunities - both domestic and international".

Meanwhile BMG's EVP Repertoire & Marketing Continental Europe, Maximilian Kolb, adds: "Over the course of the past ten years, Telamo has skillfully taken Schlager into the digital age. We are THRILLED to welcome Telamo's wonderful artists and of course its team. BMG and Telamo share the same values of respect for artists. The combination of the two of us will have a major impact on the German language music market".

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Concord acquires Native Tongue
Concord is expanding its interests in the Australasian market by acquiring a key independent music publisher in the region, Native Tongue.

With offices in both Australia and New Zealand, Native Tongue has its own roster of songwriters and also represents a significant network of other publishers from around the world in the Australasian market. And for more than ten years now, that has included Concord Music.

The company's founder, Chris Gough, went into semi-retirement in 2014, with the business being managed day to day by his children Jaime and Chelsea. They will now head up what will be known as Concord Music Publishing ANZ, as Managing Director and Senior VP respectively.

Confirming the deal, Chris Gough says: "Jaime and Chelsea along with our wonderful team of people have grown the company significantly in recent years. This is the next step, providing our home-grown writers with a truly international organisation capable of maximising their potential worldwide".

Meanwhile Concord's President Of International Publishing, John Minch, adds: "Australia and New Zealand are important music markets in their own right and this is a region that we have wanted to invest in for many years. This will be an important strategic move for Concord in coordinating our Asia publishing initiatives, which Jaime will handle. Above all, this acquisition is about the Native Tongue team, who we know well and believe will really enjoy being part of Concord".

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BPI boss to stand down next year
The boss of UK record industry trade body the BPI, Geoff Taylor, has announced that he will stand down from the role next year, with plans to move into a more directly commercial role. He will stay with the organisation for the rest of the year, in part to help with the recruitment of a successor.

He has been with the BPI for more than fifteen years, and led the trade body during what was initially a very challenging period for the record industry as the shift to digital caused a slump in recorded music revenues, until the streaming boom kickstarted a new era of growth.

During the tricky times the industry looked to its trade bodies for support in navigating the transition to digital, especially in leading the legal and logistical battle against online piracy, and in seeking various copyright law reforms. That included getting new anti-piracy measures into law, extending the copyright term for sound recordings in Europe, and putting pressure on internet giants to do more to stop copyright infringement on their networks.

More recently, as the economics of music streaming has become a big political talking point in the UK, the BPI - alongside organisations like AIM - has also been representing the label community within that ongoing debate.

Taylor's decision to stand down follows the recent appointment of a new Chair at the BPI, with YolanDa Brown taking over from Ged Doherty. He also departs as the organisation gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Confirming his departure, Taylor said this morning: "It has been a great privilege to lead the BPI during such a transformational period for British music. With a new Chair appointed and our 50th anniversary next year, it feels like BPI is opening a new chapter. After much reflection, I have decided that running the BPI for fifteen years is enough for any moderately sane individual and that now is the time to use my experience more directly in a commercial environment".

"I have agreed to stay on until early 2023 to help our new Chair YolanDa Brown find an appropriate successor", he then confirmed, before adding: "I want to thank the brilliant team at the BPI, former Chair Ged Doherty, and our independent and major members for their wisdom, good humour and steadfast support. I wish YolanDa and all the members continuing success".

Also commenting in the news, Brown added: "Geoff will forever be part of the BPI family. He will leave a tremendous legacy with many exceptional achievements and a strong team in place. I am grateful that he is staying with us to ensure a smooth transition and wish him all the best on his onward journey. I know we will enjoy our time working to ensure the future success of the BPI".

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Distiller launches new VR division
The Distiller Music Group has announced the launch of a new division focused on all those virtual reality fun times we keep being promised.

Launching this new strand to the business, the music firm notes how it already regularly films sessions from artists via its Distiller TV YouTube channel, and adds that it now plans to "film future sessions in 3D VR" having "trialled the technology with acclaimed up and coming artists Cassyette and China Bears".

"As well as the obvious benefits of a wholly immersive experience for the viewer, which will bring them closer than ever before to their favourite artists", the company adds, "this new format allows the use of cutting edge spatial audio in adventurous locations".

The new VR division will be run by Distiller's Production And Channel Manager Phil Parsons, who says: "The pandemic has allowed us the time and space to properly assess our ambitions for music TV and how we could progress our existing activities while reaching a wider, global audience".

"Opportunities are expanding exponentially within the VR space and with limited music content currently available we felt this was the right time to take the leap into this new and exciting world", he goes on. "We aim to be at the forefront of this technological movement and provide some of the best quality music content available. We are also developing our own Distiller TV virtual reality platform, more details of which we will announce in due course".

Meanwhile Distiller Music Group Founder Sam Dyson adds: "I have long been interested in VR and how it could be used in the music space. In Phil I have the perfect collaborator who can help me realise my vision for creating engaging, immersive VR TV experiences for artists and their fans".

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SoundCloud confirms down-sizing that could impact up to 20% of its workforce
SoundCloud yesterday told its employees that the company is about to go through some down-sizing which will have an impact on up to 20% of its workforce.

Confirming the job cuts, a spokesperson subsequently told Billboard that the changes were necessary as SoundCloud tackles "significant company transformation and the challenging economic and financial environment".

It's not the first time SoundCloud has experienced some dramatic down-sizing, with around 40% of the firm's workforce let go back in 2017. That followed a revamp of the SoundCloud business which had seen the company enter into licensing deals with the record companies and music publishers and then launch a consumer-facing subscription streaming service.

Those moves had placated a music industry that had become increasingly critical of SoundCloud in the preceding years regarding all the unlicensed content that had been available on the platform. However, it also shifted the already cash-strapped SoundCloud beyond its original mission of providing services to online creators, and into the very competitive and costly business of running of a subscription streaming set-up.

After the 2017 down-sizing, new investment was raised and new management put in place, and since then - despite still operating its consumer-facing services - SoundCloud has again put the focus on providing services to independent music-makers and online creators. In the main those moves seem to have worked and resulted in a much more secure business, though the creator services sector is also pretty damn competitive.

Confirming the latest developments in a Linked-In post yesterday, SoundCloud CEO Michael Weissman wrote: "Earlier today, I shared the news that we have decided to make reductions to our global team that will impact up to 20% of our company. Making changes that affect people is incredibly hard. But it is one that is necessary to ensure SoundCloud's long-term success given the challenging economic climate and financial market headwinds".

"For those impacted by this decision", he added, "I want to thank you personally for your passion and contributions to SoundCloud and the artist communities we serve. You have all made an incredible impact on the music industry and on artists' lives. SoundCloud has always been resilient, and together we will continue to embrace the challenge of leading what's next in music".

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ThreeWeeks at the Edinburgh Festival
With August somehow already upon us, the Edinburgh Festival has kicked off once again - the first full-scale edition of the world's biggest cultural event since 2019.

Taking place over three weeks in venues all over the Scottish capital, the Edinburgh Festival offers a truly massive programme of culture and entertainment, with thousands of shows covering theatre, comedy, cabaret, music, musicals, opera, dance, physical theatre, film, visual art, talks, debates and spoken word.

CMU's sister magazine ThreeWeeks is covering the whole thing once again, checking out and championing some of the best shows taking place at the Festival this year. If you are in Edinburgh, you can pick up a free copy of the ThreeWeeks Preview Guide from venues across the city.

Or check out all the online coverage. The ThreeWeeks team have already interviewed a bunch of great performers. Co-Editor Caro Moses has recommended 81 shows to see in handy sets of three. And in the next few days the first reviews will appear here on the website.

We'll also keep you up to date with some of the key coverage here in the CMU Daily.

Metallica cash in on 'Stranger Things' sync will new merchandise
How's this for a cash in? Having enjoyed the benefits of a prominent sync in Netflix show 'Stranger Things', Metallica have launched some new merchandise that references the popular programme. And why the hell not? In fact, whey the Hellfire not?

Commenting on the use of their 1986 track 'Master Of Puppets' in the most recent series of 'Stranger Things', the band said last month that the way the show's creators, The Duffer Brothers, have incorporated music into their programme "has always been next level, so we were beyond psyched for them to not only include 'Master Of Puppets' in the show, but to have such a pivotal scene built around it".

That pivotal scene involved the character Eddie Munson - played by Joseph Quinn - performing the track on the roof of a house to distract a horde of demonic bats. The Munson character also leads a dungeons and dragons group in the series known as The Hellfire Club, and that's what the new Metallica t-shirts reference.

Announcing those t-shirts, the band wrote: "Eddie, this one's for you. We're having the most metal meeting ever of The Hellfire Club so we're scouting out 'lost sheep' and outsiders to join. Do you think you have what it takes? Then suit up".

And if that's got you curious, this tweet has a picture of the new merch.

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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 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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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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