|WEDNESDAY 10 AUGUST 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Universal Music has asked a judge in Florida to sanction energy drink Bang for deleting social media videos that allegedly included the major's music, despite those videos being required in an ongoing copyright infringement legal battle... [READ MORE]|
Universal Music wants Bang sanctioned over deleted TikTok videos
Bang has been sued by both Universal Music and Sony Music for including unlicensed music in promotional videos posted to platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Lawyers for the energy drink brand have argued that their client's marketeers were under the impression that such videos were covered by the music licences secured by the social media companies. But those licences only cover user-generated content, not brand-made content.
Last month the judge overseeing the Universal lawsuit issued a summary judgement in the music firm's favour, concluding that Bang had indeed infringed copyrights controlled by the major by making and uploading promotional videos that included unlicensed music. Which was a definite win for the music company.
That said, it wasn't a complete win. The judge did not hold Bang liable for the influencer content it had commissioned and which also included unlicensed Universal tracks. Although arguably the major could have presented stronger arguments regarding the influencer videos, so that particular part of the judgement doesn't necessarily set any strong precedent.
Meanwhile, with the videos where Bang was liable for infringement, the judge didn't make any ruling on the damages the drinks firm should pay Universal, concluding that assessing all that needed more scrutiny. Which means the Universal v Bang dispute is still ongoing.
In a court hearing yesterday, Universal Music's lawyer James Sammataro focused on the TikTok videos that Bang deleted after being made aware of the alleged copyright infringement by Universal, Sony and others.
By deleting those videos, and the accompanying stats that record views and interactions, Bang had made it difficult for Universal to pursue legal action in relation to that specific content in addition to the videos that still exist. Because without having the actual videos it is hard to prove liability, and without the stats it is hard to assess potential damages.
In a filing on the deleted videos submitted to the courts back in June - soon after Sony Music had made similar complaints as part of its Bang litigation - Universal wrote: "For months, defendants led plaintiffs to believe that they would soon produce the videos, which are perhaps the most critical evidence in this case".
However, it said, it then came to light that many of those videos had been deleted. In fact, Universal's legal filing added: "Defendants removed 513 videos from their social media accounts after receiving cease and desist demands from plaintiffs, Sony Music Entertainment, and others" and then "failed to preserve about 436 removed videos".
"The removed videos include at least 74 additional infringing videos that were not previously known to plaintiffs", the legal filing continues, "and defendants knowingly concealed this information from plaintiffs and the court for months while strategically allowing several critical case deadlines to pass".
"Plaintiffs have been severely prejudiced by defendants' spoliation and lack of candour", Universal then argued. "The destroyed videos are directly relevant to both liability and damages. If properly preserved, the videos would have revealed their social media 'reach' - the number of views, likes, shares, and comments by other social media users".
"Without that evidence", it went on, "plaintiffs were unable to move for summary judgment on the additional infringing videos and were unable to use the engagement data to prepare a fully informed expert report on actual damages".
Universal wants the court to sanction Bang in relation to the deleted videos, in such a way that it will be assumed that the energy drink is liable for copyright infringement in relation to that content. And, for the purposes of calculating damages, that those videos were viewed as many times as Bang's most popular posts on TikTok.
According to Law360, Bang's legal rep Shauna Manion countered in court yesterday that Universal was basically trying to extend last month's summary judgement to a whole load more videos via seeking a so called spoliation motion. The court should reject those efforts, she added, because - after all - the major could file another lawsuit in relation to the other content.
The judge didn't really seem that persuaded by that argument, though. Meanwhile, Sammataro criticised Bang's general conduct in relation to this entire legal battle, before adding of Manion's proposal that a separate lawsuit be filed for the missing videos: "That's my remedy? I get to go relive that experience again? And how do you produce a lawsuit when the evidence is already gone?"
The case continues - with further hearings scheduled for next week.
US Congress member discusses proposed ER right for artists on American streams
Tlaib has taken an interest in the way streaming services pay artists as a result of campaigning by the American Union Of Musicians And Allied Workers, which launched in 2020 in response to complaints within the artist community that music-makers were not seeing their fair share of the monies generated by the music streaming boom.
Those complaints, of course, became much more frequent as the COVID-19 pandemic shut off other artist revenue streams, resulting in artist-led campaigns on this issue in multiple countries, not least in the UK where the #BrokenRecord and #FixStreaming initiatives led to the parliamentary inquiry into the economics of streaming.
Tlaib confirmed to TechCrunch last week that her interest in supporting a new streaming royalty right for artists stemmed from "a meeting with the Union Of Musicians And Allied Workers".
"One of the things that continued to come up", she added, "was what could Congress do in supporting their efforts to be protected and also for musicians to be fairly compensated for their work; to have respect in this field, especially from so many folks in the industry that continue to monopolise and so forth. They did an amazing job, came to us with this proposal and taught my team and I so much about the ins and outs of how it works right now".
On her ongoing work with the union, she added: "We do the same thing with our housing bills, trying to address economic divide in our country. We let them lead us. I'm working for them, helping them and advocating on their behalf. They're teaching me so much about the monopolisation in the industry, and how Spotify specifically is acting in bad faith in many ways".
The proposals being championed by Tlaib seemingly involve the introduction of a new remuneration right for artists which would see streaming services pay music-makers directly through the collective licensing system. Such payments would likely be managed by US collecting society SoundExchange, which already handles a similar remuneration right in relation to online and satellite radio in the US, and personalised radio services like Pandora.
Introducing an artist remuneration right - or performer equitable remuneration - in relation to on-demand streaming has been discussed in multiple countries. Currently streaming services pay what is due for any recordings that are streamed to the record labels and music distributors that provided the tracks. What cut of that money artists then receive depends on the specifics of the deals they have done with the labels or distributors they are working with.
Under an ER system, artists would get some or all of their share of that money at industry standard rates via the collective licensing system, with labels and distributors usually receiving lower payments as a result. ER on streams does already exist in a small number of countries, in particular Spain and Hungary, and is currently being introduced in Belgium.
To what extent an artist would be better off under an ER system depends very much on how that system specifically works and what deals they have done in the past with labels and distributors. Some artists would be better off, but some would be worse off. There are certainly both pros and cons to the ER approach even from an artist only perspective.
Labels generally oppose the ER system. The streaming services are sometimes agnostic on this issue, providing the total amount of money they pay out for the recordings they use is more or less unchanged. However, some ER systems can increase the liabilities of streaming services.
And given that, in its campaigning, UMAW has called for a minimum rate per stream across the industry, rather than everything working on a revenue share basis, the remuneration system being proposed in the US is likely to have a big impact on the services as well as the labels.
Indeed, a minimum rate per stream would likely involve a radical overhaul of the current music streaming business model. Which means the Tlaib-backed intervention is likely to be strongly opposed by both labels and services in Washington. Asked about that by TechCrunch, Tlaib said that she believed Spotify was aware of the proposals.
"My priority is not the corporations", she added. "It probably never will be. They have their lawyers, they have their lobbyists, they have their resources to put out ads and gaslighting people to say all the things they say will happen when we continue to push this thing forward".
Snoop Dogg moves to have himself removed from lawsuit over Drakeo The Ruler's death
Drakeo The Ruler - real name Darrell Caldwell - was attacked by a group of people and stabbed shortly before he was due to go on stage at the Once Upon A Time In LA music festival last December. Following the stabbing, he was taken to hospital but died as a result of his injuries.
The remainder of the event was called off after the stabbing, which meant that performances by the likes of Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent were cancelled.
Caldwell's brother Devante - who was also at the festival - launched legal action in relation to Darrell's death in February this year. Snoop Dogg was named in that negligence lawsuit as a co-promoter of Once Upon A Time In LA, alongside Live Nation, C3 Presents and Bobby Dee Presents. Seeking $60 million in damages, the lawsuit claimed that "no security ever materialised to intervene" in the "ongoing mob attack that lasted up to fifteen minutes or more".
Now, according to Rolling Stone, a lawyer representing both Snoop Dogg and Bobby Dee Presents has asked the court overseeing the case to remove his clients from the litigation and relieve them of any liability.
Caldwell's lawsuit already acknowledges that Snoop Dogg's company did not directly hire security for the event, but said that the rapper nevertheless "had a duty to implement and execute a security plan" and "provide adequate security to detect and prevent violent incidents".
But the new filing counters that while the events that led to the death of Darrell Caldwell "are tragic", that he would be attacked at the festival was not "foreseeable".
"If no similar, third-party criminal conduct is alleged to have previously occurred at the relevant premises during a music festival like the one in this case", says the filing, "demurring defendants had no duty to do more than they are alleged to have already done, regardless of the outcome".
It remains to be seen how the court responds.
In addition to this lawsuit, there are two other pending civil cases in relation to Caldwell's death - both wrongful death accusations - one filed by the rapper's mother Darrylene Corniel and another filed on behalf of his only child. Last month, a lawyer representing Live Nation and C3 Presents said that she planned to file a motion to have all three cases consolidated.
There is also an ongoing criminal investigation, although so far police have announced no leads or arrests.
beatBread announces new distributor partners
Through the partnerships, those other distributors and service providers will be able to allow artists to access upfront finance to fund music projects, that is then paid back out of future royalties. The partners will use beatBread's proprietary chordCashAI technology to identify what funding can be offered to any one artist and other deal terms. They can also choose to tap beatBread funds to actually provide the finance, or advance the cash themselves.
Under beatBread's existing system, advances offered to artists range from $1000 to $2 million. Those monies are paid back out of future streaming and airplay royalties, with the artist's other revenue streams like live and merchandise not affected by any deal.
"Artists across the world are looking for alternatives to traditional label deals", says beatBread CEO Peter Sinclair. "[It's] still right for some artists, but a growing number of artists are not well served by the old model. And those that would be well served by a traditional label sometimes can get more leverage by obtaining less restrictive funding first, so they can hold out for bigger and better deals. More choice means a better music industry for artists".
"Our chordCashAI technology allows distribution and artist service companies to provide significant financial support to their artists without incurring the risk or operational complexity associated with large scale financing programmes", he adds.
"We give partners end-to-end 'capital as a service', whether they need funding or not. Well-capitalised clients can put their own capital to work within our system, while others can access our significant capital pools without tying themselves to more restrictive financial terms associated with bank, private equity or joint ventures with larger music entities".
The company already announced a partnership with Family In Music earlier this year. Newly announced partners are B Pure Sounds, Catalog Masters, Finding Artists Making Empires, Future Of Music Offering, Golden Path Music, KMG Distribution, The Music Federation, Vital Music, MAD Solutions and Digital Music Commerce & Exchange.
Spotify rolls out new home screen, and dabbles in ticket pre-sales
Spotify said in a post yesterday: "This week, we are launching a new Home experience that includes feeds for both Music and Podcasts & Shows. The feature is currently rolling out to Android users and will soon be available on iOS".
"By creating these feeds", it added, "Spotify will help listeners to easily scroll through the type of content they're looking for at that moment. The updated interface will make the experience more personalised while allowing users to dig even deeper into their recommendations".
"In the Music feed", it went on, "listeners will have quick access to suggestions based on their music taste, making discovering new favourites easier than ever. There will also be album and playlist recommendations as well as buttons that make it easy to share, like, and instantly play music".
And, it continued, "in the Podcast & Shows feed, listeners will be able to head straight to new episodes of their favourite shows. They'll also find personalised podcast recommendations. What's more, listeners will be able to read episode descriptions, save to Your Episodes or start playing podcasts without leaving the page, so the experience all starts from one place".
Lovely stuff. Elsewhere in Spotify news, Music Ally yesterday reported that the streaming firm is piloting a new site that sees it directly selling tickets to a small number of gigs happening in the US. Although Spotify already pushes tickets for shows to its users based on what tracks they have been listening to, currently those tickets are actually being sold by ticketing firms with which the streaming outfit has partnerships.
Given all the user data Spotify sits on, and its ability to target shows at relevant fans, some have long mused that the streaming firm might more proactively move into ticketing one day. That said, primary ticketing is an incredibly challenging business to get into, with most artists and promoters allocating most of their tickets to a small number of established ticket agents.
Those ticket agents also sit on large amounts of user data that is live music specific - and which is getting more sophisticated now mobile ticketing is finally becoming the norm. Plus promoters often look to their ticketing partners to help with cash flow as well as marketing, which makes it harder for new entrants to launch in the marketplace.
And that's before you take into account that the biggest live music company in the world, ie Live Nation, also owns the biggest ticketing company in the world, ie Ticketmaster.
Those challenges have proven too much for many ticketing start-ups to overcome, even when their products offered both a better experience for users and better data for promoters. And it's not just start-ups who have struggled to take on the existing ticketing giants, after all, Amazon's grand plans in ticketing didn't come to much. But could Spotify overcome those challenges? Who knows?
Although, it's worth noting, the new pilot has much more modest ambitions, being focused on a small number of pre-sale ticket offers for super-fans.
And the streaming firm is keen to stress that this is very much an experimental pilot, telling Music Ally: "At Spotify, we routinely test new products and ideas to improve our user experience. Some of those end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as important learnings. Tickets.spotify.com is our latest test. We have no further news to share on future plans at this time".
Open Mike Eagle announces new mixtape
The fourteen track release, which features collaborations with Aesop Rock, Madlib and Quelle Chris, among others, is inspired by the rapper's earliest experiences discovering hip hop.
"When I was in high school I used to stay up late to tape the hip hop shows on college radio station WHPK on the south side of Chicago", he says. "It was the only way to hear the underground rap songs that changed my world".
"I still have many of the cassettes, with songs by giants like MF Doom, DITC, Outsidaz, All Natural, Juggaknots, Organized Konfusion and more", he goes on. "I named each tape. I named one 'Component System'. This album was made in the spirit of that tape but with new music from me. Some of the people on the original tape appear on this album. I'm so proud of that, that it brings me close to tears".
The CEO of the Royal Albert Hall in London, Craig Hassall, has announced that he will step down from the role at the start of the 2023 season in order to take up a new role as head of the Playhouse Square in Ohio.
Luke Armitage has been named Senior Vice President of Universal's Astralwerks label in the US. "We are incredibly fortunate to be working with the most forward-thinking artists in the industry, and I thank them - and their managers - for their daily trust in me to help them tell their story through their art", he says. "Astralwerks has been the pioneer for dance and electronic music in the US for the past 30 years, and I'm incredibly thankful … for the opportunity to help write our next chapter by expanding our artists' presence globally".
Island Records in the US has promoted Steven Rowen to Head Of International Marketing. "Steven is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced executives in the global marketing field", says General Manager Mike Alexander.
US song rights collecting society ASCAP has promoted Deepak Mohite to Chief Technology Officer. "Deepak has been responsible for major tech initiatives at ASCAP that have ensured we are the best-in-class music rights management platform for music creators and licensees", says CEO Elizabeth Matthews. "The innovations he has implemented have helped us build a fast, flexible and efficient technology infrastructure that has streamlined our operations, made us more agile and set us up to continue to innovate for the future".
Mark Owen has released new solo single 'Magic'. "I've really been trying to capture lots of different energies from all the shows I've seen", he says. "So I've made songs that I want to see live. There's a guitar solo in 'Magic' that I'm dying to perform because I want to hear how that guitar solo sounds on stage!" His new album, 'Land Of Dreams', is out on 23 Sep.
Danger Mouse and Black Thought have released new collaborative track 'Strangers', which also features A$AP Rocky and Run The Jewels. The duo's album, 'Cheat Codes', is out this Friday.
Pixies have released new single 'Vault Of Heaven', taken from their new album 'Doggerel', which is out on 30 Sep.
Jessie Ware has released the video for new single 'Free Yourself'.
Poppy Ajudha is back with Jungle produced new single 'No!' "In a world where anyone can reach you at any time, and say whatever they want through a computer screen, 'No!' is a rebellion against, the criticism and internet trolling, a social commentary on a world of chaotic political narratives, dishonest public figures and the ongoing flow of conflicting public opinions", she says. Alongside the single, she's also announced UK shows in November.
Ezra Furman has released new single 'Poor Girl A Long Way From Heaven'. "Ever since it hit me that I was never going to be loved and accepted on the scale of my pop star heroes, me and my bandmates have started to work on a different vision of pop, one more our own, one that gestures at the stranger truths of the human mind", she says. "Here we are in thrall to verbally adventurous 90s music like Björk and Beck and the Silver Jews and them kinda non-linear geniuses".
Mykki Blanco has teamed up with MNEK and Saul Williams for new single 'Steps'. "I think a song like 'Steps' is a testament to what can happen when three very unique artists are given time to create a meditation together - to respond to one another when the moment is right - almost like the lines of a haiku - maybe 'Steps' is a prayer unique in its ability to transcend and transform and provide peace without necessarily providing an answer", says Blanco. New album 'Stay Close To Music' is out on 14 Oct.
Lambchop have released new single 'So There'. The song, says main man Kurt Wagner, "addresses the idea of showing up, being there for your friends and for things that we believe to be right and true. But also wondering if that alone will ever be enough". New album 'The Bible' is out on 30 Sep.
GIGS & TOURS
Tom Vek has announced that he will play Lafayette in London on 29 Oct. He has also just released 'Newer Symbols', a complete rework of his 2020 album 'New Symbols'. "Releasing an album at the start of the pandemic meant it didn't get the outing it should have done, no live shows etc, so I wanted to make the tracks live on, give them all a new life", he says. Here's new single 'Survive New'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
K-pop agency JYP to stop selling CDs in effort to be more environmentally sustainable
Although streaming is now by far the biggest revenue generator for the global record industry, the sale of CDs and vinyl records still generated 19.2% of the sector's worldwide revenues last year. And in South Korea, physical remains an even bigger deal, accounting for 32.4% of 2021 revenues. But won't somebody somewhere think about all the plastic and packaging that involves?
In its annual report, JYP says: "Since the environment is a global problem, we need to solve it together through global solidarity. JYP Entertainment is conducting various activities both internally and externally to reduce environmental impact. [By] promoting environmental impact-reducing albums and [merch], JYP Entertainment strives to reduce the environmental impact of content".
It goes on to say that "in order to reduce waste generated when purchasing albums" it is now planning to launch various "digital-based" album formats to completely replace CDs. The only physical item fans will receive with album purchases are photo cards, with various eco-friendly options being considered for the production of those and other merch.
"We will actively utilise eco-friendly materials such as biodegradable plastic made from nature and upcycling products using discarded waste, and expand the reusable products that can be reused several times, such as clothes, eco-bags and tumblers using natural materials", it goes on. "To this end, we will also work hard to create social value by reviewing cooperation with social enterprises and social ventures in various ways".
"As such", it concludes, "JYP Entertainment will create a K-pop culture where the entertainment industry and the environment can continue to co-exist through content containing environmental values".
In a presentation alongside the report, JYP founder Park Jin-Young said that the company is working to "raise awareness of environmental campaigns" and "doing our best brainstorming to find the most environmentally friendly way to replace and reform the CDs of our artists".