|FRIDAY 28 OCTOBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A US judge has rejected arguments by streaming service Pandora that an agency representing the copyrights of a roster of comedians is operating an anti-competitive licensing cartel. Judge Mark Scarsi concluded that Pandora had failed to demonstrate that the operations of Word Collections contravene American competition law... [READ MORE]|
Judge rejects Pandora's cartel claims against comedy rights agency
A stack of comedians have now sued Pandora claiming that the streaming firm has been making their comedy material available without all the proper licences in place. While Pandora does have permission to stream the recordings of those comedians' performances, it does not have licences covering the actual material contained within each act.
On the music side, companies like Pandora secure two sets of licences. One set from record labels and music distributors covering the rights in recorded music. And another set from music publishers and collecting societies covering the separate rights in the songs that are contained in those recordings. But with spoken word content to date, only licences covering the recordings have been secured.
That means - a number of comedians now allege - that Pandora has been streaming their comedy material without licence, and that's copyright infringement. Many of the comedians that have gone legal on this issue to date are working with Word Collections, which is seeking to negotiate deals with various streaming services on behalf of the comedians and other spoken word artists that it represents.
In response to those lawsuits, Pandora filed its own counterclaim targeting Word Collections. It stated in a legal filing back in May that "Word Collections' true business model is not that of a benign licensing agent or an advocate for comedians' intellectual property rights, it is that of a cartel leader".
Basically, it argued, Word Collections was seeking to hold Pandora to ransom - so to demand an unreasonable royalty rate - by exclusively licensing the rights of various comedians, and forcing streaming services to negotiate all those rights under one deal.
Responding, Word Collections called Pandora's cartel claims "absurd", adding that the streaming firms counterclaim was "nothing more than a backdoor attempt to dismiss copyright claims to which they have no valid defence". Not only that, but Pandora was trying to "dissolve Word Collections and leave comedians to fend for themselves - ie be steamrolled by Pandora".
Pandora presented a number of arguments to back up its cartel claims, with Word Collections then putting forward a bunch of counter arguments. In a ruling this week judge Scarsi basically sided with the rights agency.
In part, the judge reached that decision on the basis that the Word Collections roster is actually relatively small. He noted that, as far back as 2016, Pandora's own statements said the streaming service had more than 35,000 comedy tracks from 3000 different comedians. Meanwhile, Word Collections currently represents about 30 comedians.
Pandora's counterclaim talked about how it needs to secure a certain amount of 'critical mass' in terms of comedy content in order to offer a compelling comedy element to its streaming product. But, Scarsi wrote, "Pandora fails to connect Word Collections' representation of about 30 comedians to its inability to amass the critical mass needed to offer a viable comedy streaming service, especially when Pandora offers recordings by several thousand other comedians".
Of course, certain comedians will be particularly popular and account for a larger portion of overall comedy streams, which might make Word Collections' roster a bigger deal than its small size would suggest. However, Scarsi added, "Pandora's description of Word Collections' impressive but short list of comedians whose works it licenses does not suffice to demonstrate that Word Collections owns a dominant share of the comedy recording market in the United States".
It's not as if Word Collections is even the only agency now representing the comedy material of comedians in the digital licensing domain. Some of the other comedians who have sued Pandora are working with rival licensing agency Spoken Giants, which has also been accused by Pandora of being a "cartel leader".
Although Scarsi has dismissed Pandora's cartel claims, it does have the option to submit an amended complaint with the court. Meanwhile, legal reps for both Word Collections and the comedians it represents have unsurprisingly welcomed this week's ruling.
That includes lawyer Richard Busch, who told reporters that he and his clients were very happy with the judgement and would now focus on pursuing the copyright infringement claims "that are at the true heart of these cases".
Elon Musk completes acquisition of Twitter
In April, Musk became the biggest shareholder in the social media platform and then announced that he had agreed his multi-billion dollar deal to acquire it - saying that he wanted "civilisation to have a common digital town square". However, he subsequently tried to back out of the deal in a dispute over the number of fake accounts on the website.
That dispute went to court, though the takeover talks then resumed. Now that a deal has gone through, trading in the company's shares on the New York Stock Exchange has been suspended and a number of senior execs at Twitter - including CEO Parag Agrawal - have also been fired.
Many fear what will now happen to Twitter with Musk - who has described himself as a "free speech absolutist" - in charge. The Tesla founder has been critical of Twitter's content moderation policies in the past, which he considers to be too draconian, and it's thought that previously suspended accounts, such as those of Donald Trump and Kanye West, may now be allowed to return.
Trump and West both reacted to being booted off the platform by attempting to compete with Twitter. Trump launch his own social media network, Truth Social, a year ago. Meanwhile, West recently announced that he had agreed to acquire rightwing social website Parler.
If they are allowed to return to Twitter, it remains to be seen if either Trump or West choose to do so, and if they then deem their other websites surplus to requirements.
Dolly Parton retires from touring
"I do not think I will ever tour again, but I do know I'll do special shows here and there, now and then", she tells Pollstar. "Maybe do a long weekend of shows, or just a few shows at a festival. But I have no intention of going on a full-blown tour anymore. I've done that my whole life, and it takes so much time and energy".
"I like to stay a little closer to home with my husband", she goes on. "We're getting older now, and I don't want to be gone for four or five weeks at a time. Something could happen. I would not feel right about that, if I were gone and somebody needed me. Or I would feel bad if I had to leave a tour if somebody got sick at home and needed me and then I had to walk out on the fans".
She added that she feels that there are other ways beyond touring to stay connected to fans these days, saying: "I don't ever feel separated from my fans because in this high-tech world, you can be right with them. You can do special shows in special ways. I will be doing some of that. But you've got to work for weeks to work up a great new show, a new tour they haven't seen".
"It takes months to actually plan a tour, as far as booking dates and all that", she continues. "Then you've got to be gone for all that time, too. It's more involved than people have any idea. You really need a year, and certainly six months, to plan a great tour, just preparing to get ready to go hit the road. So you can't just go out and do a few shows, you really have to commit to doing enough shows to make all that time and effort pay off".
As for her favourite show of her career, she picked Glastonbury in 2014, saying: "I was scared to death to do that show! I didn't think that was really my audience because I do a lot of talking, I do a lot of songs that tell stories and I know they love to go to have a big time! I thought they just wanted the music to just go steady with no let-up; but when I did it, I was absolutely amazed. When I was talking and telling the stories and singing the songs that I thought they would not be interested in, they were all standing on their feet".
"They were so respectful and it was such a huge success", she continues. "So many people came, that I was really adored and felt honoured and emotional about that whole thing. You do remember things that stand out like that. They did know who I was. And I thought, these people are not going to be that familiar with my music because, you know, it's country and all that. But they were! That's as close as I've felt to being a rock star, was at that Glastonbury Festival".
Parton, of course, tried to have herself removed from the nominations for this year's Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame inductions because she didn't feel she had done enough to deserve being called a rock star. But the Hall Of Fame ignored that request, maybe remembering the Glastonbury set.
Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars retires from touring
In a statement, a rep for the musician told Variety: "Mick Mars, co-founder and lead guitarist of the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe for the past 41 years, has announced today that, due to his ongoing painful struggle with ankylosing spondylitis, he will no longer be able to tour with the band. Mick will continue as a member of the band, but can no longer handle the rigours of the road. AS is an extremely painful and crippling degenerative disease, which affects the spine".
Subsequently, the other members of the band put out their own statement, saying: "While change is never easy, we accept Mick's decision to retire from the band due to the challenges with his health. We have watched Mick manage his ankylosing spondylitis for decades and he has always managed it with utmost courage and grace".
"To say 'enough is enough' is the ultimate act of courage", they went on. "Mick's sound helped define Mötley Crüe from the minute he plugged in his guitar at our very first rehearsal together. The rest, as they say, is history. We'll continue to honour his musical legacy".
They then confirmed that they will "carry out Mick's wish and continue to tour the world as planned in 2023" with former Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5 taking his place.
In his own statement, John 5 said: "I'm honoured to carry on Mick's legacy and am looking forward to playing these songs".
Having spent this year tour with Def Leppard in the US, the two bands are set to embark on international dates together next year, including shows in the UK and Ireland in May and July.
Radiohead's Philip Selway announces new solo album
The idea behind the sound of the record was an imagined situation where Carole King collaborated on an album with Daphne Oram and invited him to drum on it. Helping him to realise this vision he enlisted musicians including Hannah Peel, Adrian Utley, Quinta, Marta Salogni, Valentina Magaletti and Laura Moody.
"The scale of it was very deliberate for me, from the outset", he says. "I wanted the soundscape to be broad and tall but somehow get it to wrap around this intimate vocal at the heart of it. There was a really lovely dynamic. Ideas happened easily. It was a really nice rapport between us all".
Early on in the recording of the album, he says, he "sacked" himself as its drummer, instead bringing in Valentina Magaletti who brought a "distinctive voice" to the record. Presumably, despite all those other collaborators, there was still enough other stuff for Selway to take care of - he sings on the record at the very least.
"One of the things I've liked about this record is it's me as a 55 year old not trying to hide that fact", he goes on. "It feels kind of unguarded rather than seeing that ageing process as something that needs to be hidden. I wanted it to have that space so if you're listening to it you can lose yourself in it. Almost like a refuge".
'Strange Dance' is set for release through Bella Union on 24 Feb. Listen to first single 'Check For Signs Of Life' here.
Pharrell Williams and Little Simz win big at the UK Music Video Awards
Among Williams' trophies was the Video Of The Year award for 'Cash In Cash Out', his collaboration with 21 Savage and Tyler, The Creator. Williams also took away the prizes for Best International Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Video, Best Visual Effects and Best Animation - all for the same video.
Meanwhile Little Simz was handed Best UK Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Video, Best Wardrobe Styling and Best Colour Grading for the video to her track 'Point And Kill', featuring Obongjayar. In addition to all that, Obongjayar also won a prize in his own right, taking home Best Live Video for 'I Wish It Was Me'.
Here's the full list of winners:
Best Pop Video
Best R&B / Soul Video
Best Dance / Electronic Video
Best Rock Video
Best Alternative Video
Best Hip Hop / Grime / Rap Video
Best Live Video: Obongjayar - I Wish It Was Me
Best Special Visual Project: Sad Night Dynamite - Volume II Mix Tape
Best Performance: Loyle Carner - Hate
Best Production Design: Thom Draft - Breathtaking
Best Hair & Make-Up: Gloria Groove - A Queda
Best Wardrobe Styling: Little Simz - Point And Kill (feat Obongjayar)
Best Choreography: Doechii - Crazy
Best Cinematography: Black Midi - Sugar/Tzu
Best Colour Grading: Little Simz - Point And Kill (feat Obongjayar)
Best Editing: Joji - Glimpse of Us
Best Visual Effects: Pharrell Williams - Cash In Cash Out (feat 21 Savage & Tyler The Creator)
Best Animation: Pharrell Williams - Cash In Cash Out (feat 21 Savage & Tyler The Creator)
Best Director: Tanu Muino
Best New Director: Ebeneza Blanche
Best Producer: Jules de Chateleux
Best Production Company: Division
Best Commissioner: John Moule
Best Agent: Alexa Haywood, FreeAgent
Outstanding Achievement Award: Dan Curwin
Video Of The Year: Pharrell Williams - Cash In Cash Out (feat 21 Savage & Tyler The Creator)
Bucks Music Group has signed Watch The Ride to a worldwide publishing deal. Group member DJ Die has been signed to the company as a solo artist since 2011. "We've worked with DJ Die successfully for some time now, so this deal bringing Watch The Ride to Bucks as a trio makes complete sense", says A&R Director Sarah Liversedge Platz. "They are three incredibly talented, highly respected individuals in their own right, and even more exciting as a collective".
Reservoir has signed Naughty By Nature co-founder KayGee to a new publishing deal. "It's a joy to be able to work with [EVP A&R & Catalogue Development] Faith Newman and the Reservoir team", he says. "Faith is an industry veteran, and to have someone with her knowledge working my catalogue is great! I look forward to continuing to build my catalogue and creating more at Reservoir".
It's actually happened, guys! Rihanna has released new music. Here's 'Lift Me Up', taken from the soundtrack of 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'.
Oh what, the return of Rihanna not enough for you? Well, how about some long-awaited new music from SZA too? Here's 'Shirt', a track she first teased back in 2020.
Is there room for another big pop release? Sure there is. BTS's Jin has released solo single 'Astronaut', written by Coldplay. With that out, he's now off to join the South Korean army. Actually, first he’s going to perform the song with Coldplay in Argentina tonight on the next show on the band’s world tour.
Somehow way down in fourth position in this list is Harry Styles, who has released the video for 'Music For A Sushi Restaurant', from his 'Harry's House' album.
Giggs has released new single 'Time'.
††† have announced that they will release their first EP in nearly a decade, 'Permanent.Radiant', on 9 Dec. Here's new single 'Vivien'.
Berwyn has released new single 'Path To Satisfaction'. "It acknowledges the path towards realising my identity and anticipates the future of Berwyn, that a man can have two homes and his body will know the difference", he says of the track.
Maps has announced that he will release his new album, 'Counter Melodies', on 10 Feb. And he's put out five tracks from it along with the announcement. Five! That's nearly an armful. Here's one of them 'Heya Yaha'.
GIGS & TOURS
Take That will headline Hyde Park in London on 1 Jul as part of that British Summer Time festival, with support from The Script and Sugababes. "We're so excited to be back together and that BST Hyde Park will be the first stage we perform on in almost four years", say the band. "We have incredible memories of playing there in 2016 and we can't wait to see everyone in July".
Pulp have announced reunion tour dates for next summer, including a show at Finsbury Park in London on 1 Jul. "Three months ago, we asked, 'What exactly do you do for an encore?'" say the band. "Well... An encore happens when the crowd makes enough noise to bring the band back to the stage So... we are playing in the UK and Ireland in 2023 Therefore... come along and make some noise. See you there". Tickets go on sale on 4 Nov.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Coachella files yet another trademark lawsuit, this time against a Coachillin cannabis park
This time the targeted company goes by the name Coachillin Holdings. That company's main venture is the Coachillin Industrial Business Park which aims to be, and I quote, "a centre of excellence and innovation, setting a new standard of sustainability for California's budding cannabis industry". So that sounds like fun, doesn't it?
The business park is based in California's Coachella Valley and the people that base themselves there may well do plenty of 'chillin'. However, says Goldenvoice, the term 'coachillin' is very much associated with its annual festival, where a whole load of 'chillin' goes on every year.
"The public has come to associate the phrase 'Coachillin' to refer to the Coachella Festival", says Goldenvoice's new lawsuit, "not merely to refer to the Coachella Valley - and certainly not Coachillin Holdings or its Coachillin Business Park".
In fact, it goes on, "for many years, attendees of the festival, celebrities and musicians have referred to the Coachella Festival and commented with respect to their attendance, their outfits, or the culture related to the Coachella Festival by using the phrase 'Coachillin'".
And if all the social media posts from Coachella attendees using the hashtag #coachillin over the years aren't proof of that, Goldenvoice would also like you to take note of how the good Urban Dictionary defines that term.
Coachillin, it states, is "the act of going to or hanging out at the Coachella Music Festival". Hey, it even gives you an example of the term being used. "'Where are you? I just got to the festival', says Zaffiro. 'Yo! We're Coachillin in VIP', responds Cunana". And that definition was posted by a user called PositivePanda in April 2011. What more proof do you need?
A Coachillin trademark was actually successfully registered all the way back in 2014 by a guy called Jeremy M Joseph, who initially wanted exclusive rights to the term in connection to Coachillin branded apparel and subsequently in relation to e-commerce activities.
Coachillin Holdings later acquired those trademark registrations from Joseph as well as seeking to register its own Coachillin marks, seemingly with plans to pursue various projects using the brand including that cannabis cultivation focused business park.
It was at that point that Goldenvoice began proceedings to get Joseph's trademarks cancelled, mainly on the basis that he had never actually used them for the Coachillin branded products he originally said he intended to sell. During that process, Joseph also apparently admitted that his use of the Coachillin brand was related to the "chill" vibe available at the Coachella Festival.
Those original Coachillin trademarks were then cancelled, but Coachillin Holdings continued to seek to register its own marks and to use the Coachillin brand.
Goldenvoice's lawsuit concludes: "Despite plaintiffs' efforts and requests, defendants have made clear in the opposition that they have no intent of ceasing their infringing activities or plans therefor absent an injunction, thus forcing plaintiffs to file this action".
So there you go. Goldenvoice has sued lots of businesses of late for using brand names similar to Coachella. We await to see how this one progresses. But, for now at least, Coachella's trademark lawyers don't seem to be doing any coachillin.