|FRIDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US record industry has welcomed the reintroduction of the American Music Fairness Act in Congress, it being the legislation that would introduce a radio royalty for sound recordings for the first time in the country... [READ MORE]|
Radio royalty proposals reintroduced in US Congress
Artist and labels have been campaigning for decades to get US law amended to end a quirk of the American copyright system that says AM/FM radio stations only have to secure licences covering song rights, not recording rights. As a result American radio stations can play music without getting a licence from or paying any royalties to artists and labels.
Most recently that campaigning has been based around the American Music Fairness Act which, the music community argues, provides "a balanced solution that would require large broadcast corporations to finally pay performance royalties to artists and music creators for AM/FM radio airplay, while also protecting small radio stations by allowing them to play all the music they need to thrive for an affordable, predictable cost of less than $2 per day".
The radio industry - and especially the big broadcasters - continue to lobby against any new royalty obligations. They have been very successful in those efforts in the past, although the American Music Fairness Act has been gaining some momentum in the last year or so.
As a result, last year it was passed by the House Judiciary Committee. With a new session of Congress convening itself last month, the proposals needed reintroducing. Which is what happened yesterday, in both the House Of Representatives and the Senate.
Welcoming that move, the Chair of campaign group musicFIRST, Joe Crowley, said: "It's clear that the movement for music fairness continues to gain momentum, bringing us closer than ever before to ending big radio's ability to deny artists the fair pay they deserve. This week's House and Senate introductions of the American Music Fairness Act is evidence of that".
The proposals continue to enjoy cross-party support. The AMFA was reintroduced in the House by Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Jerry Nadler, and in the Senate by Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Alex Padilla.
In his statement, Crowley thanked all four of them "for their leadership in the effort to secure economic justice for our nation's music artists and creators, and [we] look forward to working together to drive continued progress in the coming months".
Also welcoming the reintroducion of the proposals, Michael Huppe, CEO of US collecting society SoundExchange, added: "Music creators have been forced to give away their work for far too long. It is time for Congress to demonstrate that they stand behind the hard-working Americans that provide the music we all love by finally passing the AMFA".
"This bill has the broad support of artists, labels, small broadcasters, unions, and others because it strikes a fair balance by respecting creators for their work and protecting truly local broadcasters", he went on. "No more excuses, no more waiting in line for their turn. Music creators demand the economic justice AMFA provides".
US Senator calls on Apple and Google to block TikTok
In his letter, Senator Michael Bennet - who last year proposed a Digital Platform Commission Act which would create a federal agency to oversee and regulate the big digital platforms - states that TikTok poses "an unacceptable threat to the national security of the United States".
The big concern about TikTok in political circles, of course, is its ownership by China's Bytedance, and allegations that the Chinese government has access to the social media app's global userbase and user data.
Bennet writes in his letter: "Like most social media platforms, TikTok collects vast and sophisticated data from its users, including faceprints and voiceprints. Unlike most social media platforms, TikTok poses a unique concern because Chinese law obligates Bytedance, its Beijing-based parent company, to 'support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work'".
"Beijing's requirement raises the obvious risk that the Chinese Communist Party could weaponise TikTok against the United States", he goes on, "specifically, by forcing Bytedance to surrender Americans' sensitive data or manipulate the content Americans receive to advance China's interests".
"These obvious risks render TikTok, in its current form, an unacceptable threat to the national security of the United States", he adds. "No company subject to CCP dictates should have the power to accumulate such extensive data on the American people or curate content to nearly a third of our population. Given these risks, I urge you to remove TikTok from your respective app stores immediately".
Bennet's letter is similar to one sent to the Apple and Google bosses last year by Brendan Carr, a commissioner at US media regulator the Federal Communications Commission. He wrote his letter following a BuzzFeed report about how Bytedance employees in China can access data about TikTok's American users.
That report is also cited in Bennet's letter. "Concern about TikTok's data sharing is not theoretical", he writes. "Last year, BuzzFeed News revealed that China-based employees repeatedly accessed nonpublic information about US users, contradicting sworn testimony from a TikTok executive to the US Senate. According to a member of TikTok's Trust And Safety department, cited by BuzzFeed, 'everything is seen in China'".
For its part, TikTok continues to deny the allegations made about data security on its platform, with spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter saying yesterday that "Senator Bennet's letter relies almost exclusively on misleading reporting about TikTok, the data we collect, and our data security controls".
"It also ignores the considerable investment we have made through Project Texas - a plan negotiated with our country's top national security experts - to provide additional assurances to our community about their data security and the integrity of the TikTok platform", she added.
Statements such of those have done little to placate TikTok's critics in the political community so far, including those in US Congress who last year made proposals that would effectively ban use of the app within the US.
The social media firm's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, is next month due to answer questions in Congress in a session instigated by the Energy And Commerce Committee in the House Of Representatives. It remains to be seen if that results in any allaying of concerns.
Coachella owner sues Moechella for trademark infringement
First staged in 2019, this event describes itself as "an advocacy festival that is the intersection of culture and politics in DC". It's organised by a group called Long Live GoGo, a "collective of liberators" built around the funk sub-genre GoGo, which originated in the US capital.
Moechella organisers Justin Johnson and Kelsye Adams, Goldenvoice says in its new lawsuit, are "intentionally trading on the goodwill of plaintiffs and the well-known Coachella and Chella trademarks by using the confusingly similar mark 'Moechella' in connection with [their] own music and cultural events, entertainment services, and associated apparel".
And that, the AEG company reckons, is trademark infringement.
If Coachella getting pissed off with Moechella sounds familiar, that's because last year Goldenvoice formally objected to Johnson's bid to trademark the Moechella brand. That resulted in Johnson withdrawing his trademark registration.
But, says the new lawsuit, "despite withdrawing the Moechella application, defendants have stated that they intend to continue using the Moechella marks. For example, defendant Johnson stated in an interview with one media outlet: "I'm not going to stop using the name. It's a protest'".
As in its complaint last year to the US Trademark Trial And Appeal Board, the new lawsuit also cites a shooting that occurred alongside last year's Moechella event which resulted in the death of a fifteen year old.
"Plaintiffs contend that incidents such as the shooting death and melee cause harm to plaintiffs, particularly given defendants' infringing use of similar looking and sounding Moechella marks, which cause confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of defendants' events with those of plaintiffs, resulting in reputational harm to plaintiffs".
With all that in mind Goldenvoice wants the court to order Johnson and Adams to stop using any Chella brand for their event activities, and - of course - to pay the Coachella owner some lovely damages.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra announce new album
The album was several years in the making, Ruban Nielson having begun work on a new set of tracks with his brother Kody in the early days of the pandemic.
But when an uncle in Hawaii fell ill, he, his mother and another uncle moved over there to care for him. When he returned to California to record again, he found that his outlook on the sound of the record had fundamentally changed.
"In Hawaii, everything shifted off of me and my music", Nielson explains. "Suddenly, I was spending more time figuring out what others need and what my role is within my family. I also learned that things I thought were true of myself are bigger than I thought. My way of making mischief - that's not just me - that's my whole Polynesian side. I thought I was walking away from music to focus on family, but the two ended up connecting".
'V' is set for release on 17 Mar. First single 'Layla' is out now. Watch the video for that here.
The band will arrive for UK shows in May. Here are the dates:
30 May: Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion
Slowthai to head out on £1 tour later this month
Anyway, there ends the analysis of Slowthai ticket prices. This whole thing is being underwritten by Jägermeister, so you need not worry that Slowthai is going to be out of pocket.
"I make music for myself but I wouldn't be where I am without my fans", he says. "It's important to me that people can have access to me and my music so I wanted to go to some new places and play this album first. Times are tough for a lot of people and working with Jägermeister has helped me keep tickets to only a quid".
Tickets will go on sale to people who have pre-ordered Slowthai's album via his website on 13 Feb, before being made available to everyone else on 15 Feb. You'll need to be quick though. Six 150 cap gigs doesn't make for a lot of tickets. Here are the dates:
23 Feb: Sunderland, Independent
'UGLY' is set for release on 3 Mar. Here's new single 'Selfish'.
More artists announced for The Great Escape
Among the artists newly announced for the 2023 edition of the big old showcase festival are The Big Moon, Sad Night Dynamite, Willie J Healey, James Ellis Ford, Stone, Lime Garden, English Teacher, Billie Martin, Caity Baser, Yunè Pinku, Deki Alem and Mestizo Collective.
In addition to the line-up announcement, the festival's organisers have also revealed that a show will take place in Liverpool on 2 Mar as part of the TGE Presents programme, a series of gigs presented by the TGE team in the run up to the festival in May.
TGE is partnering with Licks Magazine and Ticketmaster New Music to stage that gig, which will be headlined by Lime Garden, with supports to be announced.
As for May, the TGE festival is obviously accompanied by the TGE Conference for music industry delegates, which includes the CMU+TGE Sessions that this year will put the spotlight on music and education, music and deals, and music and the creator economy.
You can find our more information about that here.
Jim Berkus is stepping down as Chair of talent agency UTA, according to Billboard. The company is also adding two new directors, Paul Wachter of investment firm Main Street Advisors and Ceci Kurzman of Nexus Management Group. Wachter will also become Chair.
Defected Records has hired Jess Nash as Head Of Sync and Deniz Hilmi as Head Of Events And Talent. They join from Budde Music and Ministry Of Sound respectively. "I am delighted to welcome Jess Nash and Deniz Hilmi to Defected", says CEO Wez Saunders, who acquired the company last year. "Since the acquisition, we have been working on restructuring and strengthening the squad across the board as we continue to grow and develop".
New Sony Music-owned services company Santa Anna has hired Dave Anderson as General Manager, Carlos Ogando as VP Promotion and Derek Lee as CFO. "Dave and Los have great skill and talent to work creatively and successfully with artists", says Santa Anna founder Todd Moscowitz. "I look forward to working with them as they develop incredible opportunities and experiences for our roster, to reach new fans and consumers. I also am THRILLED to have Derek join Santa Anna".
Slipknot has dropped surprise new single 'Bone Church'. "On the road, we have a 'jam room' set up backstage at every show, where we play, practice, warm up and sometimes try out new ideas", says percussionist Shawn 'Clown' Crahan. "'Bone Church' started life in a jam room on the '5: The Gray Chapter' tour. We've been bringing it closer and closer to life ever since, and finally, here it is. This one is for the fans - a further vision deeper into Slipknot's history, which is still being written".
JP Saxe has released a new collaboration with Colombian singer Camilo called 'Moderación'. "Camilo is one of my favourite artists on Earth and my brother", says Saxe. "Doing this song together is a dream and I'm grateful I get to sing a song I love with a human I love".
The Damned have announced that they will release new album 'Darkadelic' on 28 Apr. Here's new single 'Invisible Man'.
Alexander Tucker has released another track from his posthumous collaboration with Keith Collins, titled 'The Spring Room 2'. The album, 'Fifth Continent', is out on 24 Feb, and Tucker will host a launch event at Cafe Oto in London on 7 Feb.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Lizzo gets to trademark '100% that bitch'
But fuck the science, all that really matters is the law. And Lizzo is now the owner of the '100% that bitch' trademark in the US in the category of fashion. So only she can sell clothing with that line printed on it.
Now, you might be thinking, so what, Lizzo got her people to fill out a trademark application form to turn the key lyric from her song 'Truth Hurts' into a protected mark under US law, why's that news?
Well, because it took quite a lot of effort. The application was initially rejected on the basis '100% that bitch' is "a commonplace expression widely used by a variety of sources to convey an ordinary, familiar, well-recognised sentiment".
"The evidence of record indicates that consumers will not view applicant's mark as a trademark indicating the source of the clothing only sold by applicant, but instead as a message of self-confidence and female empowerment used by many different entities in a variety of settings", the official who did the rejecting noted.
That official also honed in on the fact that Lizzo's full lyric - "I just took a DNA test, turns out I'm 100% that bitch" - wasn't original, it being influenced by a meme on social media that began with a tweet by British singer Mina Lioness.
Lizzo herself has talked about being influenced by the social media meme when writing 'Truth Hurts'. And the fact the line came from Lioness's tweet became a talking point online and was raised during a dispute between Lizzo and some of her former songwriting collaborators over the copyright in 'Truth Hurts'. Along the way, Lioness got a co-write credit on the song.
The trademark official stated: "Lizzo is quoted that after seeing the meme containing the phrase it made her feel empowered, ie the phrase 'made her feel like 100% that bitch'".
"By applicant's own acknowledgment", he went on, "she adopted these lyrics because of the message of female empowerment, and the party claiming prior use of the full lyric was given a co-ownership to the copyright of the lyrics".
"Accordingly", he concluded, "the phrase '100% that bitch', as used by applicant, originated as a derivation of the popular phrase 'that bitch', which was widely shared throughout social media by internet users".
But worry not bitches, because the US Trademark Trial And Appeal Board has concluded that - while Lizzo may not have come up with the line '100% that bitch' - it was 'Truth Hurts' that made it super popular, and - as a result - plenty of consumers would associate clothing featuring the phrase with the musician. That latter point is key here.
"The evidence here does not show that consumers recognise '100% that bitch' merely as a lyric in one of Lizzo's popular songs", the board has ruled. "Rather, we find that the evidence of record shows that consumers encountering '100% that bitch' on the specific types of clothing identified in the application - even when offered by third parties - associate the term with Lizzo and her music".
"We acknowledge that to some degree consumers and potential consumers have been exposed to use of the proposed mark '100% that bitch' in a non-source-identifying (ie ornamental) manner on the same and similar goods to those of applicant. We find, however, that that circumstance is outweighed by references in most of those uses to Lizzo and/or her music".
As a result, "the record as a whole does not establish that the proposed mark is a common expression in such widespread use that it fails to function as a mark for the goods identified in this application. So the refusals to register are reversed".
And hurrah for that. Well done to 100% that bitch.