|WEDNESDAY 26 APRIL 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: London's Metropolitan Police have called for the Brixton Academy to have its licence permanently revoked following last year's fatal crowd crush. But the venue's operator, the Live Nation allied Academy Music Group, says it has provided proposals that would "enable the venue to reopen safely"... [READ MORE]|
London police call for Brixton Academy licence to be revoked following fatal crowd crush
Two people died as a result of the crowd crush incident, which happened during a sell out show by Asake on 15 Dec last year. The local authority that regulates the venue, Lambeth Council, initially suspended its licence for a month, and then subsequently another three months through to mid-April. On both occasions, AMG had already announced that the venue would remain closed for those time periods before the licence suspensions were confirmed.
The Metropolitan Police's investigation into what caused the crowd crush is ongoing. There have been allegations that some security staff were involved in a ticketing scam that allowed people with fake tickets to enter the venue, increasing the number of people in the building. Some have also claimed that the venue was understaffed on 15 Dec given the scale of the Asake show.
Earlier this month Lambeth Council announced that it had instigated its own health and safety investigation into the crowd crush incident, adding that it was also "reviewing licensable activities at the venue".
It has now emerged that the Metropolitan Police is seeking a review of Brixton Academy's licence by Lambeth Council, with the police force supporting revocation. It reportedly says in a submission to the local authority that it has "lost confidence in the premises licence holder".
A spokesperson confirmed to reporters yesterday: "On 14 Apr, the Met Police submitted an application for a review of premises licence to Lambeth Council and will be seeking a revocation of the licence. This matter will be decided at a future council sub-committee hearing on a date to be confirmed".
Responding, AMG said in a statement that it has presented detailed proposals to both police and council officials setting out how it would re-open the venue and deal with any safety concerns raised by last year's incident.
A spokesperson for the venue operator said that the company had "co-operated fully with the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council since the tragedy at Brixton occurred. We have had regular meetings and discussions with the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council at which we have presented detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to re-open safely".
"AMG has been awaiting feedback on those proposals for several weeks", they then added, "and looks forward to hearing from the police as soon as possible in constructive terms".
The Metropolitan Police's request for a review and revocation of licence will now be subject to a consultation before a decision is made by Lambeth Council's licensing sub-committee.
London court again declines to pause Experience Hendrix lawsuit because of New York litigation
The major said that the UK legal battle should be put on hold while related litigation in New York goes through the motions. The judge considering Sony's most recent motion to that effect concedes that New York law is relevant to old contracts signed by the former Jimi Hendrix collaborators, but insists that those agreements are only part of the UK-based dispute.
That dispute involves companies representing the estates of Hendrix's two former bandmates, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. On the other side is the Hendrix estate and its distribution partner, which is where Sony Music comes in.
The Redding and Mitchell companies claim that they control rights in relation to the Jimi Experience Hendrix recordings catalogue which are being infringed by the Hendrix estate and Sony.
The latter parties counter that, after Hendrix's death in 1970, both Redding and Mitchell signed agreements in which they gave up any claims to rights and royalties stemming from the Jimi Hendrix Experience in return for "significant monetary consideration".
With the dispute underway, the Hendrix estate and Sony went legal first, asking a New York court to confirm that those 1970s agreements are still in force. The Redding and Mitchell companies then subsequently filed their own lawsuit with the courts in London.
Sony argues that the UK case very much depends on the 1970s agreements and the New York law that governs them. Hence it thinks that the UK case should be paused until there is a ruling on the other side of the Atlantic. However, the major has been struggling to convince the UK courts of that argument.
Having taken the matter to the appeals court, Sony's legal rep insisted last month that "this is a case where the New York court should be given due deference to proceed with and try the issue about the meaning and effect of the [1970s agreements]".
However, the Redding and Mitchell companies countered that "there's something unattractive about the New York court deciding the copyright claim of citizens of the UK purely because of the convenience of the US parties".
According to Law360, in his new ruling, judge Edwin Johnson acknowledges that the 1970s agreements are "a central aspect in the dispute", but adds that New York law is only relevant to those agreements and "not to the entirety of the claims made in the action or, as it seems to me, to the entirety of the claim".
Johnson doesn't completely agree with the judge who previously declined Sony's bid to pause the lawsuit, especially around the potential impact of UK and European law on the agreements.
However, he nevertheless concludes that as the parties are UK-based, the claims of the Redding and Mitchell companies are made under English law, and relate to actions that occurred in the UK, the case should be able to proceed independently of the New York litigation.
Sony Music is yet to respond.
Gap Band estates drop royalties lawsuit against BMG
The lawsuit, filed in January, related to royalties due to the two Wilson estates from the Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars hit 'Uptown Funk', money from which goes to The Gap Band because of its similarities to their 1979 song 'Oops Upside Your Head'.
In a deal negotiated by the then publisher of 'Oops Upside Your Head' - Minder Music - each of the five writers of the 1970s song got a 3.4% share of the 'Uptown Funk' copyright. Minder Music was then acquired by BMG.
In their legal filing, reps for the Wilson estates claimed that BMG was not properly reporting or paying them the 'Uptown Music' royalties they were due. "This case is yet another chapter in a long-running series of disputes involving the smash musical composition and sound recording 'Uptown Funk', originally credited to Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson", their lawsuit stated.
"Plaintiffs have monetary interests in 'Uptown Funk' owing to its incorporation of the musical composition 'Oops Upside Your Head'", it went on. "In this instalment of the ongoing 'Uptown Funk' saga, defendant music publisher BMG Rights Management has failed and refused to pay plaintiffs or account to them for royalties they are obligated to pay plaintiffs pursuant to a written contract as co-writers of 'Uptown Funk'".
BMG denied the allegations from the off, and said in a new statement yesterday: "Among other things [the estates] alleged that BMG had 'failed and refused' to pay royalties and that BMG had either 'retained all funds due to plaintiffs for its own benefit and enjoyment' or 'wrongfully diverted' the money elsewhere".
"Although the allegations were widely reported, they were without merit", the new statement added, "as confirmed by the fact that the plaintiffs have now withdrawn their lawsuit". It then clarified: "There was no settlement agreement and BMG has paid no money in respect of these charges. The plaintiffs will pay all their own costs".
"BMG takes seriously its commitment to treat artists fairly and transparently and its reputation for doing so", it went on. "Alongside their brother Charlie Wilson - who was not party to the lawsuit - the late Ronnie J Wilson and Robert Lynn Wilson of The Gap Band were among the most influential musicians of their generation. We honour their memory and are proud to represent many of their music publishing and recording rights".
Spotify planning price rise "when the timing's right"
There have been some price increases already for some Spotify subscription plans in some markets, which Ek was keen to remind people about. But what everyone is really interested in is when Spotify will follow competitors like Apple in moving its headline 9.99 price point to 10.99.
During an investor call that was running through the streaming firm's first quarter financials, Ek said: "We did raise prices in 46 different locations and markets last year, and even in those markets we were still out performing. I feel really good about our ability to raise prices over time - that we have that ability - and we have lots of data now that backs that up".
He added that the company may have been "marginally helped" by keeping prices low to date, "but it isn't a primary part of our strategy and it's not something that we're thinking about. Instead, we're working with our label partners … to figure out what's the best opportunity to [raise the price]. And that's a more complex trade. When the timing's right we will raise it".
I think most of those labels would have quite liked Spotify to increase its prices at least two years ago, but apparently it's all down to them now.
"I think we are ready to raise prices", said Ek. "I think we have the ability to do that, but it really comes down to those negotiations [with the labels]".
Elsewhere on the call, the company's latest revenues and user numbers were also detailed. And it's all up, up, up! Monthly average users were up 22% year-on-year to 515 million. 210 million of those are paying for the service - a 15% increase on the previous year, thanks largely to increased uptake of Spotify's discounted family and duo plans.
Ad-funded users were also up 26% year-on-year to 317 million, although "macro-related variability" in the company's advertising business meant that revenue growth on that side was not as high as expected.
Still, Spotify reported total revenues of €3 billion for the first three months of the year - up 14% on the same period in 2022. That still resulted in an operating loss of €38 million though.
Blur announce intimate warm ups for Wembley Stadium show
Announced in November last year, the Wembley Stadium show will be Blur's only large-scale performance in the UK this year. That and the newly announced gigs are also their first headline performances since 2015.
Commenting last year, guitarist Graham Coxon said: "I'm really looking forward to playing with my Blur brothers again and revisiting all those great songs. Blur live shows are always amazing for me. A nice guitar and an amp turned right up and loads of smiling faces".
Bassist Alex James added: "There's always something really special when the four of us get in a room. It's nice to think that on 8 Jul that room will be Wembley Stadium".
Yes, that's right, the Wembley show will be on 8 Jul. Thanks, Alex. Tickets for that show sold out in minutes, so these new ones give you another crack at getting to see Blur, if you missed out. Although obviously there are even fewer tickets available for these, so you'll need to move fast. The new tickets will go on general sale at 10am on 28 Apr, and will be limited to two per customer.
All the dates and venues are here:
19 May: Colchester Arts Centre
Joan Armatrading to premiere first symphony in London
"I have always known that I would write a classical piece at some point in my life", she says. "One day, I was in my studio and out of the blue I decided that this was the day".
"I started with the melodic second movement", she adds, "it felt to me like writing a song. I then wrote the first movement and, finally, I wrote the other three movements in 2022. All in all, to write the complete symphony took roughly five months. It has no theme as such but aims to be uplifting".
"As usual I stayed in the way of composing that I have done when I write pop songs", she continues. "I'm just myself. I didn't write the symphony thinking I wanted it to be like anyone but Joan".
'Symphony No 1' is set to be performed by the Chineke! Orchestra at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London's Southbank Centre on 24 Nov.
Founder of the orchestra, Chi-chi Nwanoku, comments: "The Chineke! Orchestra are THRILLED to be performing the world premiere of Joan Armatrading's first symphony at the Southbank Centre. Armatrading's pioneering spirit and ability to break boundaries has been a source of inspiration for generations of music lovers and musicians, and it's an honour to bring her latest composition to life on stage".
"This symphony is a stunning display of her creativity and skill, and we can't wait for audiences to experience its unique blend of classical and contemporary influences", she adds.
This is all well and good of course, but I'm sure you're all worried about how the publishing revenues from all this are going to be handled. Well, the good news is that Armatrading has signed a deal with Boosey & Hawkes to publish the piece.
"What a wonderful surprise when Joan Armatrading arrived in our offices clutching a score and Midi recording of her new symphony", says Boosey & Hawkes MD Janis Susskind.
"Having been a longstanding fan of this living legend, I was delighted to learn that Joan's musical orbit now encompasses full symphony orchestra. We look forward to spreading the word far and wide and to many more performances following the Chineke! premiere".
Following that premiere of Armatrading's symphony in November, there will also be a performance of Tchaikovsky's 'Symphony No 5'. More info here.
Primary Wave has entered into a new partnership with Times Music in India. The deal will see the former invest in the latter - the music business of Indian media firm The Times Group - and provide resources to assist it in growing its reach globally. "Music is synonymous with India and Times Music has built an incredible catalogue with amazing global potential", says Times Music COO Mandar Thakur. "Our partnership with Primary Wave will enable us to further accelerate our catalogue acquisition, acquire new music and reach worldwide audiences".
Music distributor Believe has agreed a deal with Rinse FM to provide distribution and other services to its Rinse and Bad Music record labels. "We're very excited to sign this deal with Believe", says Marva Kreel, Label Manager at Rinse. "Our label at Rinse is ready to move into our next chapter and we feel that Believe is perfectly aligned with our ambitions and values".
Sen Morimoto has signed a new record deal with City Slang. The company will co-release his upcoming third album with Sooper Records. The first single from that album, 'If The Answer Isn't Love', is out now.
Booking agency Runway has hired agent Zac Peters. He joins from DMF Music. "We're really excited to have Zac join Runway and were THRILLED that he was open to a conversation with us, having been so well regarded during his time at DMF", says Runway founder Matt Hanner. After bigging up his new recruit's experience working with both new and established artists, Hanner adds: "Beyond that, Zac's a family man and, as a company that has been built around individuals with their own family commitments, we're determined to champion an equitable work-life balance that our industry so often doesn't allow".
Yusuf/Cat Stevens has released new song 'King Of A Land', calling on King Charles III to use his reign to improve the world. "One of the privileges of being an artist is to express what seems unimaginable, and then hang it up there for people to ponder; we can say things that others can't", he says. "Sure, I know full well music can't necessarily solve the world's problems, but it can help to direct the narrative. There are a few aspirations in my song, 'King Of A Land', that I hope resonate with His Majesty".
Thundercat has released new track 'No More Lies', a collaboration with Tame Impala. "I've wanted to work with Kevin [Parker] since the very first Tame Impala album", says Thundercat. "I feel that I knew that us working together would be special. I've been excited about this song for a long time".
Jon Hopkins has released two meditation versions of tracks from his 'Music For Psychedelic Therapy' album. Hopkins says that while the LP "was not written to be a meditation album … it turns out a lot of people like to use it for meditation", so he created simplified versions of the tracks 'Tayos Caves, Ecuador' and 'Ascending, Dawn Sky', removing "all the field recordings, so that no specific imagery is brought to mind".
Cowboy Junkies have released new single 'Hard To Build. Easy To Break'. "These days there seems to be this pull towards destruction", says the band's Michael Timmins of the inspiration for the song. "I'm more interested in the effort it takes to create something or the experience of seeing something evolve. On the flip-side of that is how easy it is to utterly smash and destroy whatever is at hand". The band's new album 'Such Ferocious Beauty' is out on 2 Jun.
GIGS & TOURS
McFly have announced UK tour dates in October and November, including a performance at London's Alexandra Palace on 27 Oct. Tickets go on general sale on 5 May.
Johnny Marr has announced UK tour dates in July and August this year, kicking off at the Picturedrome in Holmfirth on 17 Jul. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Finch have announced two UK shows to mark the 20th anniversary of their debut album 'What It Is To Burn'. They will hit Manchester's New Century on 7 Nov and the Kentish Town Forum in London on 8 Nov. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Hardcore supergroup Better Lovers - featuring former members of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Every Time I Die - have announced four UK shows in October, two of which will be in London at the New Cross Inn and The Dome. The other shows will be in Brighton and Leeds. Tickets are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Non-idiot (allegedly) Ed Sheeran testifies on first day of Thinking Out Loud song-theft trial
Or so said a lawyer representing the estate of 'Let's Get It On' co-writer Ed Townsend as that trial got underway in New York yesterday. But not so, reckoned Sheeran himself. Unless you believe him to be a fucking idiot. And I mean, do you?
The latest in a number of song-theft lawsuits filed against Sheeran, the COVID pandemic somewhat delayed the Townsend estate's litigation over 'Thinking Out Loud' from getting properly to court. But things finally got underway yesterday. The estate reckons that Sheeran's 2014 song - a co-write with Amy Wadge - is a copyright-infringing rip off of the Marvin Gaye classic.
We already knew - from pre-trial wrangling - that a key piece of evidence in the court battle was going to be a clip recorded at a 2014 Sheeran concert in which the musician mashed together 'Thinking Out Loud' and 'Let's Get It On'. The Townsend side reckon that little on-stage mashup proves how similar the two songs are and that Sheeran was very much aware of the similarities.
High profile civil rights lawyer Ben Crump - who is on the Townsend side's legal team - began yesterday's proceedings by dubbing that video clip the smoking gun in the case. "That concert video is a confession", he added.
But when questioned about the on-stage mashup later in the day, Sheeran argued that it's quite easy to combine lots of pop songs in that way, and it's therefore something he does pretty frequently. "Many songs have similar chords", he explained. For example, he mused, "you can go from 'Let It Be' to 'No Woman No Cry'".
And yes, you can mash together 'Thinking Out Loud' and 'Let's Get It On'. But, Sheeran added, if - as the Townsend side claims - he'd deliberately set out to rip off Gaye's track on his song, why would he then seek to draw everyone's attention to the similarities on stage at his own show?
Which brings us to the key question here people: is Edward Sheeran a fucking idiot? "If I'd done what you're accusing me of, I'd be an idiot to stand up in front of 20,000 people and do that", he said of the filmed mashup moment, according to Billboard.
While getting in a long line of witnesses and experts to rigorously assess just how much of a fucking idiot Sheeran really is sounds like fun, the real debate in this case will be the extent to which copyright can protect individual musical segments that are basically the building blocks of most pop songs.
And if that sounds like a familiar debate, you were probably watching last year's big Ed Sheeran song-theft bust up in the London courts.
"It's my belief that most songs are built from musical building blocks that have been freely available for hundreds of years", Sheeran said yesterday.
And, the legal argument goes, those individual segments or building blocks are not protected by copyright in isolation. Because if they were, well, I mean, think about it for a second, to think that's a good idea, you'd have to be a fucking idiot.
Which possibly means that reaching a conclusion in this dispute does in fact require figuring out which side of the courtroom is occupied by fucking idiots. Good luck everybody!