|TUESDAY 30 AUGUST 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The bosses of UK Music and the Night Time Industries Association have urged the incoming new UK Prime Minister to provide urgent support for music venues, recording studios and the wider night-time sector as they tackle surging energy bills and the cost of living crisis... [READ MORE]|
UK Music and NTIA call for urgent support for music companies facing surging energy bills
Various organisations repping the music, night-time and hospitality industries have expressed increased concern in recent weeks that many businesses that just about survived all the shutdowns that occurred during the COVID pandemic will now close because of energy costs and other economic challenges.
While there were issues with and gaps in the support offered to those industries during the pandemic, at least there was support, and ministers ultimately engaged with the different sectors. But many industry leaders say they are seeing much less engagement regarding the latest economic problems.
Some cynical optimists wonder if the current government has been delaying intervening in any meaningful way with all these problems to allow whoever takes over from 'Boris' Johnson as Prime Minister, following the current leadership contest in the UK Conservative Party, some easy wins during their first few weeks in power.
That said, that leadership contest has basically been a competition between the two factions of Johnson's government - the bullshitters on one side, the idiots on the other - and it looks like the idiots are going to win. Which raises concern that the new PM simply won't be up to the task of addressing the current economic mess that they will inherit from the idiotic bullshitter they are replacing.
But UK Music and the NTIA are nevertheless seeking to ensure that that mess - and specifically the challenges facing venues, studios and night-time businesses - is on the new PM's agenda as soon as the results of the Conservative leadership contest are announced on Monday.
Says NTIA CEO Michael Kill: "Billions of pounds of public funding spent during the pandemic could be wasted if government cannot get a handle on [the] current cost of inflation crisis - energy bills have increased over 300% for over 80% of businesses within the night time economy".
"The current climate would see this crisis take more businesses to the point of failure than the pandemic", he goes on. "As we move towards the colder months, where energy consumption increases, we will see costs spiral out of control. The next few weeks are critical and will require swift action from the new Prime Minister taking over".
Meanwhile, UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin adds: "Spiralling energy costs have created an existential threat for venues and music studios. It's urgent that government takes action to support businesses with the costs they are facing. We all saw just how miserable life was without live music during the pandemic, when venues were closed for months - the high cost of energy bills could now close them forever".
"The new Prime Minister must ensure that music businesses are included in the support measures that are brought forward to deal with soaring energy costs", he continues. "[And] the government should look at cutting VAT and extending business rate support to help music businesses that are fighting for their survival".
More victims recall being sexually abused by R Kelly as teenagers
This is the second trial in a year putting the spotlight on the allegations of abuse that previously followed Kelly around for decades. In last year's court case in New York we heard from a long line of Kelly's victims, who each described how he had groomed and then abused them.
However, the current trial in Chicago has focused much more on the specific abuse of Jane - which began when she was about fourteen - and efforts by Kelly and his team to cover up that abuse after the leaking of a video tape in the early 2000s.
The leaking of the tape that seemed to show Kelly sexually abusing Jane led to the earlier criminal proceedings against the star in the mid-2000s. However, on that occasion, unlike this time, Jane denied it was her seen in the video and declined to cooperate with the prosecution.
As a result, in 2008 Kelly's defence successfully threw doubt in court on whether it was in fact Kelly and Jane seen having sex on the tape and he was acquitted. Part of this latest trial is considering how Kelly, and co-defendants Derrel McDavid and Milton 'June' Brown, allegedly sought to subvert that earlier prosecution.
That said, yesterday the Chicago court heard from two women who met Kelly as teenagers and who - similar to those who testified in New York a year ago - described how they came to be abused by the musician. Although both of yesterday's witnesses - referred to as Pauline and Tracy - were also able to testify about Kelly's relationship with Jane.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Pauline gave a pretty forthright testimony. She told the court that she had been best friends with Jane when they were both teenagers and that they had regularly hung out together at Kelly's Chicago mansion. On one occasion while at Kelly's home, when she and Jane were about fourteen, she discovered Jane naked and kneeling in front of the musician.
"He told me he was just looking for bruises on her, because she hurt herself", she said. "I told him that 'that's not how you look for bruises' and he said that's how he looked for bruises ... then he stated that 'we all have secrets'".
Kelly then directed Pauline to have sexual interactions with him and Jane, she claimed, and dozens, maybe hundreds, such interactions subsequently occurred when the two girls were aged between fourteen and sixteen. The age of consent in Illinois, where Kelly lives, is seventeen.
Pauline also recalled how Kelly routinely gave her alcohol as a young teen - specifically the liqueur Hpnotiq - and also how he would regularly film their sexual encounters, including the threesomes with both Jane and another girl referred to as Brittany.
Tracy said that she met Kelly in 1999 aged sixteen when she was working as an intern at a record label. She recalled how he had invited her to his studio and then began trying to pressure her into sex. She initially resisted, though he still masturbated and ejaculated on her during that first visit to his studio. He later tried to force himself on Tracy in a hotel room, though "when I asked him [to stop] he did stop".
However, she went on, in summer 1999 when she again visited Kelly at the studio, "he told me this time we were going to have sex and it would probably hurt, but I would have to let him finish". That time Kelly did indeed have sex with Tracy, the first of many sexual encounters that followed, some involving other girls, including Jane.
Recalling the first time Kelly involved another girl - that being Jane - she told the court: "I was really confused and, just really angry, because I didn't really think there was anybody else but me and Rob. They just seemed to be really familiar with each other and they knew what was about to happen and I was the only one who didn't".
Kelly's lawyer Jennifer Bonjean sought to pick holes in both women's testimonies, in particular citing inconsistencies between what they are saying now versus what they have said about their respective relationships with Kelly previously. As well as trying to damage the credibility of both Pauline and Tracy as witnesses in general, Bonjean was also seeking to create doubt regarding the timelines of the witnesses' encounters with her client.
The aim was to suggest that the sexual encounters possibly happened later than the two women claimed, maybe when they were old enough to consent to sex under the relevant state laws. Tracy had previously said she met Kelly in 2000 not 1999, Bonjean said. And the specific liqueur Pauline claims Kelly gave her, Hpnotiq, wasn't released until 2002, when she would have been seventeen or eighteen, the lawyer added.
Pauline had also been inconsistent regarding how many sexual encounters she had with Kelly and Jane, Bonjean told the court, variously suggesting dozens of such encounters, or maybe more than a hundred. But Pauline countered, they regularly had sex over a pretty long period of time, and it's hard to remember a precise number of encounters. She told Bonjean: "You could say 100, you could say 200, we fucked a lot".
Bonjean also said that Pauline had tried to get some money out of Kelly when she was 20, and at that time she'd made reference to "something inappropriate that happened on a tour bus", leading the musician to assume she was trying to extort him. And yet, Bonjean said, if she and Kelly had routinely been having sex when she was a minor, why not hone in on that during that incident? "It seems if you really want to get someone's attention you might mention 'oh, we had an illicit relationship as a minor'", the lawyer mused.
And yet, Bonjean said, if she and Kelly had routinely been having sex when she was a minor, why not hone in on that when trying to extort the musician for money? "It seems if you really want to get someone's attention you might mention 'oh, we had an illicit relationship as a minor'", the lawyer mused.
But Pauline sought to play down that exchange and her intent at the time. "[Kelly] called it extortion, I called it 'don't play with me'. Girls get mad and say stupid stuff and want to slap you or bust your car windows out. It was just a threat. He knew that. If he didn't know that he wouldn't have had me around all these years".
The case continues.
Sony Music sues Triller
According to Billboard, Sony claims in a lawsuit filed with the courts in New York yesterday that Triller "historically failed to make payments in a timely manner". However, the problems really began in March this year when the Triller company allegedly stopped making payments entirely, with millions of dollars now owing. Requests for payment have been met with "near-total radio silence".
As Triller's debts to Sony mounted, the major formally notified the video-sharing company that it was in breach of contract on 22 Jul, and then terminated that contract on 8 Aug. As a result, Triller was no longer licensed to utilise Sony controlled music on its platform.
But, says the lawsuit, "Triller has continued to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, display, create derivative works, and otherwise exploit the valuable Sony Music content in connection with the Triller app".
Triller previously had a falling out with Universal Music, which - in early 2021 - said that the digital firm was withholding payments and had failed to negotiate a new licensing deal after a previous short-term licence had expired.
That dispute didn't go legal, although Universal did announce that it was pulling its catalogue from the Triller app. It was then confirmed that a new licensing deal had been agreed in May 2021.
However, Sony isn't alone in suing Triller over unpaid fees. Timbaland and Swizz Beats recently sued the Triller company claiming that they are owed money from a 2021 deal in which Triller acquired the rights to Verzuz, the livestreamed DJ battle format that the two producers launched in 2020.
Following an interesting back and forth with media about that dispute - documented by The Verge - Triller insisted that the run in with Timbaland and Swizz Beats wasn't caused by an inability to pay monies still owing from last year's Verzuz deal. Instead, the additional payments in that deal were linked to certain obligations being met and "we don't believe they have met the thresholds for that payment yet, but [we] have been trying to resolve it amicably".
It remains to be seen how Triller responds to the Sony dispute. These lawsuits are being filed as the Triller business is busy trying to get an Initial Public Offering off the ground. As part of that, yesterday it announced that it had "completed a substantial pre-public financing in the form of debt and equity".
Epic Games gets latest lawsuit over ripped off dance moves in Fortnite dismissed
He accused Epic of ripping off an element of that routine for an 'emote' it sells within its gaming platform. However, a court last week concluded that the allegedly ripped off dance moves, when taken in isolation, are not protected by copyright.
LA-based choreographer Kyle Hanagami sued Epic earlier this year. His lawsuit was by no means the first in relation to Fortnite emotes, one of the customisations players can buy within the gaming platform, and which make an in-game avatar move in a certain way.
Choreography is protected by copyright, and various people have accused Epic of exploiting their copyright protected movements when creating certain emotes.
However, most of those legal claims have stalled along the way, partly because of the complexities around registering the copyright in choreography in the US. But Hanagami's legal team reckoned his case was stronger than those which had gone before.
Responding to the lawsuit, Epic basically argued that the specific moves shared by Hanagami's 'How Long' routine and the emote it was selling - called, aptly, It's Complicated - were too generic to be protected by copyright in isolation.
In many music cases where one artist is accused of ripping off another artist's work, a similar argument is used. Where two songs share a few notes and beats, it is often argued by alleged song thieves - often successfully in court - that those few notes and beats can't be protected by copyright in isolation, even if they are very distinct, and/or they loop throughout a song.
The same principle applies with choreography. And especially if you can argue that individual dance moves are pretty commonplace or universally known - what are sometimes referred to as 'social' dance moves when discussing choreography and copyright.
Epic - in trying to get Hanagami's lawsuit dismissed - backed up its arguments by citing the rules applied by the US Copyright Office when deciding whether to allow a choreographer to register any one piece of choreography. Under that guidance, it reckoned, the steps shared by the 'How Long' routine and its emote are not protected by copyright.
In his decision last week, judge Stephen V Wilson explained: "In large part defendant relies on guidance from the US Copyright Office, which recognises the continuum between copyrightable choreography and uncopyrightable dance". And while courts only defer to that guidance "to the extent that those interpretations have the 'power to persuade'", the judge added, it is true that "guidance from the Copyright Office suggests that the steps are unprotectable".
Referencing some past decisions by the Copyright Office regarding some popular dance moves, the judge noted: "The Copyright Office rejected a claim to steps called the 'Floss', but when those steps were incorporated into a longer work, the Copyright Office registered the work. [And] the Copyright Office rejected a claim to the 'Carlton' because it was merely a 'simple routine'".
And while the steps in Hanagami's choreography that were also found in the It's Complicated emote involved more creativity that something like "the basic waltz step, the hustle step, and the second position of classical ballet", they do, the judge said, "resemble the 'Floss' [and] the 'Carlton'".
The judge then added that "the Copyright Act's legislative history specifically states that 'choreographic works do not include social dance steps and simple routines'", and that the Copyright Office's rules recognise that "social dances, simple routines, and other uncopyrightable movements cannot be registered as separate and distinct works of authorship, even if they contain a substantial amount of creative expression".
Wilson then mused: "Plaintiff does nothing to distinguish this guidance, simply arguing it is not persuasive without explaining why. Rather, plaintiff references his originality and creativity in composing the steps, something to which the court is sympathetic. But whichever way the court evaluates plaintiff's steps - two seconds, four beats of music, or eight body positions, repeated ten times throughout the registered choreography - defendant has the better argument".
"There is no authority to suggest that plaintiff's steps are protectable when viewed out of the context of the whole of plaintiff's work", Wilson then concluded. "Indeed, the weight of authority suggests otherwise".
With all that in mind, Wilson granted Epic's motion for dismissal.
Larry Heard and Robert Owens settle Trax Records dispute, reclaim their music rights
Chicago-based Trax Records was co-founded in 1984 by Larry Sherman, who died in April 2020. When reporting on his death, the Chicago Sun-Times noted that while Sherman and his label were "instrumental in developing house music", he also "left a complex legacy within Chicago's house music community". Over the years multiple artists signed to the label had complained about their treatment and unpaid royalties.
Rachael Cain - who, after signing to the label as an artist, was involved in various business ventures with Sherman, later becoming President of Trax - acknowledged some of those controversies at the time of his death, telling the Sun-Times "he's a controversial figure". But she insisted that in recent years Sherman had been trying to sort out the payment of past royalties, partly via litigation with a former distribution partner.
Heard - aka Mr Fingers - signed a number of agreements with Trax in the 1980s, on the back of which it registered and exploited various songs and recordings he had made, some of which were collaborations with Owens.
However, in their 2020 lawsuit, Heard and Owens claimed that those agreements never actually gave Trax all the rights they subsequently exploited, for example, they only covered the song rights not the recording rights, and only some of the song rights. Meanwhile, they added, the duo were owed significant unpaid royalties from the label's exploitation of their music.
Despite Cain previously acknowledging the controversies that surrounded Sherman and his label, in a November 2020 court filing Trax sought to have much of Heard and Owens' lawsuit dismissed. It also questioned why the duo were suing so late in the day, and so soon after Sherman's death.
Though Heard and Owens had already explained that they were going legal now because they were getting support from TaP, which works with the duo on their music publishing. Without that support, they said, going legal simply wasn't an option due to the cost and hassle such litigation would involve.
As the legal battle proceeded, settlement talks took place and, in a statement last week, TaP confirmed "in May 2022 after two long years of litigation, Trax - in a negotiated settlement - agreed to relinquish, once and for all, any and all rights to their musical works".
"This is a huge victory not only for Heard and Owens but, symbolically, for the artistic community", the TaP statement continued. "At a time when the 'whitewashing' of dance music and its culture is under the spotlight, this return of foundational creative works to the black creators who rightly own them is a reminder of historical injustices at the heart of this culture, but also a shining example of how some at least of those wrongs can be righted".
Speaking to The Guardian, the lawyer who led on the litigation, Robert S Meloni, again noted that the 1980s agreement didn't actually mention the recording rights in the music Trax released with Heard and Owens. "Trax was never assigned any sound recording copyrights, so one part of my job was to stop Trax exploiting the sound recordings", he told the newspaper.
As for the song rights that had been assigned - or partly assigned - in those deals, the label had "never paid [Heard] any royalties, ever", Meloni added, "so I had to force Trax to give up those musical composition copyrights".
Although the settlement deal gets the clarity on the rights in Heard and Owens' music that they were seeking, it doesn't seemingly include any big pay out, with The Guardian noting the duo "still haven't been paid a cent". However, Meloni explained, while they could have still gone to court to push for damages, it seems unlikely that even success in court would have resulted in a big cheque.
Following Sherman's death, he focused on Cain and the Trax company, he said. "My investigation confirmed that Cain and Trax were impecunious and unable to pay money damages, so even obtaining a money judgment - which would have extended the case for many months - would have resulted in only a pyrrhic victory".
Welcoming the settlement that has been reached, TaP Music Global Co-President Anna Neville says: "At TaP Music Publishing we don't only help nurture careers, provide creative support and opportunity for our writers, and efficiently collect their money, but also fight with them to defend their songs too".
"It's been a pleasure to work with Larry and Robert on this", she adds, "and I'm so pleased they have control of their artistic works and their incredible legacy, which is evident from listening to how much of pop music today is influenced by the dance music they created. They deserve to be rewarded for their profound contribution to music over the last 40 years".
Olly Murs signs to EMI Records
"I'm absolutely delighted to be signing with EMI, a super label with a great roster of talent", says Murs. "I now have a new family, a new team and I can't wait for this exciting new chapter in my music career".
The deal sees Murs reunited with EMI Records co-President Jo Charrington, who was at Sony when he first signed there as an 'X Factor' contestant. "I'm THRILLED to be working with Olly again", she says. "He has become one of the UK's most loved voices and entertainers, building a huge and devoted audience. His new music is stellar, full of heartfelt up-tempo bangers".
EMI's other co-President, Rebecca Allen, adds: "Jo Charrington and Olly's long-standing relationship and successes together give us the best opportunity to build and deliver an even more ambitious new chapter".
In recent years, Murs has focussed more on TV work, having been a judge on 'The Voice UK' since 2018. He's also on a second series of ITV 'Stars In Their Eyes' knock-off 'Starstruck'.
Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler denies sexual misconduct
The accusations were made in a detailed report published by Pitchfork last week, with the three women - all of whom met Butler though being fans of Arcade Fire - saying that they had sexual interactions with him during various periods between 2016 and 2020, while they were aged between eighteen and 23 and he was in his late 30s.
Subsequently, says Pitchfork, "they came to feel" that those interactions "were inappropriate given the gaps in age, power dynamics, and context in which they occurred".
The fourth person says that Butler assaulted them twice in 2015, once while travelling in a car and a second time at their home, when they were 21 and he was 34.
Pitchfork says that it has viewed screenshots of text and Instagram messages confirming the relationships, and interviewed family members of the accusers who recalled being told about the incidents at the time they occurred.
In a statement, issued through a crisis PR rep, Butler did not deny that any of the relationships had occurred, but said that all had been "consensual", and that his wife and bandmate Régine Chassagne had been aware of them. However, he added that, after spending "the last few years" in therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous, he had become "more aware now of how my public persona can distort relationships even if a situation feels friendly and positive to me".
"I love Régine with all of my heart", he said. "We have been together for 20 years, she is my partner in music and in life, my soulmate and I am lucky and grateful to have her by my side. But at times, it has been difficult to balance being the father, husband, and bandmate that I want to be. Today I want to clear the air about my life, poor judgment, and mistakes I have made. I have had consensual relationships outside of my marriage".
"The majority of these relationships were short-lived, and my wife is aware - our marriage has, in the past, been more unconventional than some", he added. "I have connected with people in person, at shows, and through social media, and I have shared messages of which I am not proud".
However, he was keen to stress, "most importantly, every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults. It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise".
"I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false", he insisted. "I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favours. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened".
Nevertheless, he concluded: "While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behaviour. Life is filled with tremendous pain and error, and I never want to be part of causing someone else's pain".
In her own statement, Chassagne said: "Win is my soulmate, my songwriting partner, my husband, the father of my beautiful boy. He has been my partner in life and in music for 20 years. And for all of the love in our lives, I have also watched him suffer through immense pain. I have stood by him because I know he is a good man who cares about this world, our band, his fans, friends, and our family".
"I've known Win since before we were 'famous', when we were just ordinary college students", she added. "I know what is in his heart, and I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did. He has lost his way and he has found his way back. I love him and love the life we have created together".
Arcade Fire released their sixth album, 'We', earlier this year, and are set to begin a run of UK and Ireland tour dates in Dublin tonight.
Don't expect new music from Kiss once they finally finish touring, says Paul Stanley
It's now ten years since the band released their last album 'Monster', and so the question of a follow-up naturally came up in a new interview with Stanley on the Howie Mandel Does Stuff podcast. But the answer to the question "will there be a new Kiss record" is a simple "no".
But not because any new record wouldn't be any good. Stanley is certain any new music the band created would be as good as anything they have done before. It's just that the fans won't ever get nostalgic about new songs.
"At this point, I came to the conclusion that [new material] can never compete with the past", he says. "Not because it's not as good, but it hasn't the connection to important times in your life. It doesn't have that patina to it of, 'Gee, I remember I heard this song when I was eighteen', or, 'I heard this song when I was on my first date or whatever'. You can't compete with that. It's more than a song; it's a snapshot of your life at a certain point".
"There are songs on ['Monster' and 2009's 'Sonic Boom'] that are every bit as good as anything I've ever written, but they're new. Somebody says, 'Why don't you do a new album?' You do a new album and do a song - we have one song, 'Modern Day Delilah', which is as good as 'Love Gun' or any of these songs, but it hasn't aged; it's not like wine that has a chance to have grown in importance. Not just because of what it is, but because what it's surrounded by".
He adds that, with all that in mind, he feels that making a new album now would just be setting himself up for disappointment, saying: "Not crushing disappointment, but when you put your heart and soul into doing something and it kind of gets a polite nod, there's other things I'd rather do".
Like just go on a never ending farewell tour? Originally announced in 2018, the band got started with their last ever tour in 2019. After a pandemic enforced break, they got underway again this year, with plans for shows to run into 2023. Although now it seems that the tour will be extended further still.
Speaking to Chaoszine last month, Gene Simmons said: "We are adding another 100 cities on the tour before we finally stop. The band is strong. We feel good. We're playing strong, so we're going to stretch it out a little more. But once we stop, of course, it'll be like when you run in the Olympics. When you win a race, sometimes, they just fall to the ground exhausted because of the physical demands of the race. [But] even though you're dead tired, you feel exhilarated".
"It's like climbing the tallest mountain in the world", he added. "Going up is really tough, but when you get to the top of the mountain, there's no feeling like that. So you're happy, but of course, you're sad too because we're never going to do that again. But everything in life is like that. At some point, Olympic athletes have to stop. At some point, the world champion boxer has to get out of the ring because age is the ultimate winner".
So, while they are currently still adding shows, the farewell tour can't go on forever. He concluded that the plan is to "get out of the ring … while we're still champions, and that's because we admire and respect the fans, but we also have self-respect for ourselves".
Right now they still feel like champions though, so who knows when this tour will actually finish? "This is a tour that will not stop until it stops", he said. "So we're not going to take a year off and then resume. We're in the tour mode. We're going to stay out there until we stop".
And then the holograms can take over.