|TUESDAY 2 MAY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Adidas shareholders have filed a class action lawsuit against the sportswear company in relation to the collapse last year of its partnership with Kanye West... [READ MORE]|
Adidas shareholders sue over the collapse of its Yeezy partnership
They claim that bosses there were aware of the problematic behaviour of the firm's long-term celebrity partner and therefore should have done more to mitigate the commercial impact of any controversy that would necessitate the axing of that partnership.
West and Adidas had a long and very profitable alliance around the former's Yeezy brand, but that came to an end last October in the wake of the rapper making a number of racist and antisemitic statements.
At the time, the sportswear firm stated: "Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye's recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company's values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness".
"After a thorough review", it went on, "the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. Adidas will stop the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect".
The sudden axing of the partnership had a significant impact on Adidas, with analysts reckoning that Yeezy products generated about 10% of the company's annual revenues. It was also revealed that Adidas could lose up to €1.2 billion on unsold Yeezy products if it decides not to sell them and, with that in mind, the company warned investors that it could report its first loss in three decades.
The new lawsuit filed in the US last week says that Adidas bosses knew about West's erratic behaviour and potential to make statements that would make any partnership with the rapper untenable, and should have been better prepared for if and when that happened.
In particular, they cite a 2018 interview in which West said that slavery "sounds like a choice". At the time that prompted then Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted to say: "There clearly are some comments we don't support [but] Kanye has been and is a very important part of our strategy and has been a fantastic creator".
According to The Guardian, the lawsuit claims that, in the wake of that controversy, Adidas "ignored the risks of oversupply of Yeezy branded shoes in the event that the partnership were to suddenly end, and in particular, if demand for the shoes were to fall due to any controversy surrounding West".
The lawsuit seeks to benefit anyone who bought Adidas stock from the day in May 2018 that West made the slavery remarks.
Responding to the lawsuit, Adidas said in a statement: "We outright reject these unfounded claims [and] will take all necessary measures to vigorously defend ourselves against them".
Designer Katie Perry wins Australian trademark battle against Katy Perry
The two Perrys first started sparring over who had the right to sell clothing products using the name Katy/Katie Perry within Australia back in 2009. The singing Perry sent the designing Perry a stern legal letter, resulting in the latter hitting out at the former online.
The singer insisted that the stern letter was not as threatening as the designer made out - and was not the start of any legal battle in the courts - but was just a routine correspondence sent as part of her own company's bid to register some trademarks in Australia.
However, the dispute did ultimately end up in court, albeit years later and at the instigation of the designer Perry. Having found someone willing to fund some legal action, she sued pop star Perry in 2019 claiming that the musician's sale of Katy Perry branded clothing products in Australia infringed her trademark.
By that time, Katie Perry had married so was legally known as Katie Taylor. That wasn't relevant to the legal battle, though the fact that Perry/Taylor had used the name Katie Howell while growing up - Howell being her stepfather's surname - was brought up. However, she was born Katie Perry and had started using that name again around the time she set up her clothing company in 2006.
And, of course, Katy Perry isn't really Katy Perry, her real name being Katy Hudson. She released her first album in 2001 under that name, and didn't rise to fame as Katy Perry until her 2008 album 'One Of The Boys'. That was released two years after the designer Perry had started selling clothing under her birth name, although she didn't trademark the Katie Perry brand in Australia until shortly after the release of the other Perry's 2008 album.
But anyway, despite all those technicalities, Perry has won the trademark battle. By which I mean Katie Perry - or Katie Taylor if that makes it easier to follow. "In my view, Ms Taylor is entitled to an injunction against [Katy Perry's company] to restrain it from continuing engaging in infringing conduct", wrote Australian judge Brigitte Markovic in a ruling last week.
"I am persuaded that the respondents' infringing conduct was such as to attract an award of additional damages in relation to the infringing conduct that has been established", the judge added, although specifics as to what those damages might be are not yet clear.
Responding to the judgement on social media, Katie Perry wrote: "Earlier today the Federal Court Of Australia published its decision in which I won the biggest battle of my business career, the 'David and Goliath case' - my legal action against the singer Katy Perry and her companies, for infringing my Katie Perry trademark in Australia – which I've held since 29 Sep 2008".
"I resisted an attack on me and the trademark", she explained, adding "we established infringement and the cross claim was dismissed".
Looking back at the long-running trademark battle, she went on: "You may remember that in 2009 there was an attempt to shut me down by the US singer. It failed and the opposition to my trademark was withdrawn. I [then] withstood a brutal cross examination in the Federal Court in 2021".
"Over the past few years, including whilst battling it out in court, I have been bullied and trolled", she continued. "My friends and family have been trolled. I have had to bear hearing disparaging comments be made about me as I sat in court with tears in my eyes. I have been told I am naive and an opportunist - but they are simply traits of entrepreneurs trying to get a start up business off the ground".
"This is a win for small business", she concluded. "We matter, Australian laws matter and most importantly in the face of a bully it is important to stand up for yourself. Not only have I fought myself, but I fought for small businesses in this country, many of them started by women, who can find themselves up against overseas entities who have much more financial power than we do. We did it - we have won".
US government publishes annual report assessing copyright regimes around the world
The USTR's team puts together two annual lists regarding intellectual property infringement around the world. Firstly, the Notorious Markets list focused on physical and digital marketplaces where rights are infringed. Then this newly released list - aka the Special 301 Report - which sets out those countries where the US reckons there are issues with the local IP laws and/or the enforcement of those laws.
The lists are based on input from groups representing the American IP industries, including the music industry. Seven countries are on the priority watch list this year, with 22 on the main watch list, all of which - the US reckons - have work to do to properly protected the rights of American "inventors, creators and brands".
Among the changes this year, Belarus has been added to the watch list. This, the USTR says, is "in response to Belarus passing a law that legalised unlicensed use of certain copyrighted works if the right holder is from a foreign state 'committing unfriendly actions', including sanctioning Belarus for their role in Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine".
"Furthermore", it adds, "Belarus can keep royalties from this unlicensed usage and shift them to Belarus's general budget, meaning that the Lukashenka regime would directly financially benefit from this unauthorised usage".
Bulgaria has also been added to the watch list because "it did not sufficiently address deficiencies in its investigation and prosecution of online piracy cases, such as by allowing criminal investigations, expert examinations and prosecutions to proceed with just a subset of seized infringing works. USTR will again conduct an out-of-cycle review of Bulgaria in 2023 to assess whether Bulgaria makes material progress in this area".
As for China, there have been some positive developments regarding the enforcement of IP rights there in recent years, but American copyright owners still "raise concerns about the adequacy and effective implementation of these measures, as well as about long-standing issues like technology transfer, trade secrets, bad faith trademarks, counterfeiting, online piracy and geographical indications".
Somewhat more positively, the USTR also reports that "several trading partners continued to advance IP protection and enforcement by enacting major legal reforms. For example, Thailand's amendments to the Copyright Act entered into force in August 2022. Vietnam's amendments to the IP Code entered into force in January 2023. Nigeria adopted the Copyright Act, 2022 in March 2023".
Says the current USTR Katherine Tai: "Innovation and creativity are at the heart of American competitiveness. That is why the Biden-Harris administration's new story on trade includes lifting up the 60 million jobs and workers in our IP-intensive industries through robust IP protection and enforcement in foreign countries".
"Our administration will continue to engage with the trading partners identified in this year's report", she adds, "to empower our inventors, creators and brands, and to demonstrate that trade can deliver tangible results across the American economy".
You can access the full Special 301 Report here.
Brownswood Recordings announces joint venture with Warner Music
The alliance, the two companies reckon, will "enable Brownswood Recordings to expand its reach and offer its artists new opportunities for growth and development, while Warner Music UK will share its expertise in distribution, marketing and promotion, and give Brownswood Recordings access to a global network and a wealth of resources".
Says Peterson of the deal: "After sixteen years developing Brownswood's catalogue, we are very excited to work with Warner Music to level up globally on some of our biggest projects".
Adds Warner Music UK boss Tony Harlow: "Brownswood Recordings has a proven track record of discovering and developing an eclectic range of artists and music, and in Gilles they have a tastemaker label owner with experience of finding talent and making records".
"At Warner Music", he goes on, "we have a rich history of supporting important independent labels and, going forward, we hope to help Brownswood's artists connect with an even wider global audience".
Peterson co-founded his label with Simon Goffe and Emily Moxon, and over the years Brownswood has worked with artists like Kokoroko, Swindle, Kassa Overall, Shabaka & the Ancestors and Ghostpoet. The first release via the Warner JV will be the debut album from Yussef Dayes called 'Black Classical Music'.
On that, Peterson continues: "There is no better artist to kick off this collaboration with than Yussef Dayes - he is already an icon with so much star power. He has delivered us an opus with 'Black Classical Music', his debut studio album as a solo artist".
This new alliance with Warner will also see Brownswood delve into the jazz archives of Warner's Atlantic label via its Arc imprint, something that actually began last month with a Record Store Day re-release of Yusef Lateef's 1969 album 'Detroit Latitude 42° 30′ Longitude 83°'.
Regarding that, Peterson concludes: "I am also THRILLED to be shining a light on some of the Atlantic Jazz catalogue on Brownswood's sister label Arc - starting with Yusef Lateef's classic 'Detriot Latitude 42 30 Longitude 83', which we have beautifully restored from the original tapes".
Live Nation responds to proposed new ticketing regulations in the US
It was all the problems that occurred last year around the sale of Taylor Swift tickets via the Verified Fan system run by Live Nation's Ticketmaster that pushed ticketing back up the political agenda in Washington.
There are an assortment of issues frequently raised about the ticketing business. Some relate to the market dominance of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, created by the merger of those two companies back in 2010.
Others relate to primary ticketing in general, including complaints about fees and the lack of transparency around ticket sales. And then there are all the issues regarding secondary ticketing and the good old ticket touts.
Although Ticketmaster is still actively involved in the US secondary ticketing market itself, Live Nation would nevertheless prefer any political debate around ticketing to focus on resale. That said, it - and other ticketing platforms - have also generally supported the push for more transparency around the fees charged on all ticket sales, ie on both primary and secondary sites.
The main proposal is that all ticket sellers in the US should communicate upfront, through advertising and on the first screen of any purchase, the total price of a ticket including any fees that will be charged, rather than initially only stating the ticket price without the fees included.
Many believe that the best way to achieve that is through regulation, otherwise the platforms that voluntarily adopt more transparency about fees will be disadvantaged, as the tickets they are selling will appear more expensive in adverts and on search engines.
Seeking to steer the ongoing political debate, earlier this year Live Nation published its own five point plan for better regulating the ticketing business.
Four of the five points related to secondary ticketing - for example banning speculative resale, where touts advertise for sale tickets they don't actually have yet, and a ramping up of the existing BOTS Act which prohibits to use of special software to hoover up tickets for in-demand shows from primary ticketing sites.
But the final point in that five point plan called on lawmakers to "mandate all-in pricing nationally". It went on: "Avoid surprises at check out and give fans the ability to easily compare prices as they shop by mandating all-in pricing that shows the full out of pocket cost of the ticket and fees right upfront".
One of the proposals unveiled in US Congress last week basically does just that. Its backers are Senators Ted Cruz and Maria Cantwell, the latter being Chair of the Senate's Commerce Committee.
She said of the proposals: "When families budget for a night at a ballgame or to hear their favourite band, they shouldn't have to worry about being surprised by hidden fees that suddenly raise the final cost of tickets well over the advertised price. The price they say should be the price you pay".
With the rather clunky backronym name of the Transparency In Charges For Key Events Ticketing Act - so it's the TICKET Act, see? - the new rules being proposed by Cruz and Cantwell would require all ticket sellers to display the total ticket price - including all required fees - in any advertisement, marketing or price list.
They would also have to communicate the total ticket price and a breakdown of any fees included in that price at the beginning of the ticket buying process. And, adding a little bit of extra regulation to resale, the seller would also have to tell the customer if they don't yet have the ticket they are selling, ie it's a speculative sale.
"We appreciate the good work of Senators Cantwell and Cruz", Live Nation said in response to the proposals. "This bill is a good starting point - we support all-in pricing". That said, "in order to protect fans and artists more can and should be done". It then listed the other aspects of its five point plan not covered by the Cruz/Cantwell proposals.
Those include: "Ensuring artists can determine how their tickets can be resold, banning speculative tickets and deceptive websites, and strengthening the BOTS Act".
Those extra rules, it said, "are all common sense reforms supported by a wide array of artists, managers, venues and countless others involved in live entertainment, and they should be included in whatever reforms Congress considers".
The other proposal put forward in Congress last week - by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal - is more concerned with the market dominance of Live Nation and Ticketmaster.
"Today's primary ticketing market is dominated by one company that by some estimates has locked up 70 to 80% market share and has used its dominance to pressure venues to agree to ticketing contracts that last up to ten years, insulating it from competition", a statement from the two senators declared.
Their proposals, called the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act, would - they said - "help restore competition to live event ticketing markets by empowering the Federal Trade Commission to prevent the use of excessively long multi-year exclusive contracts that lock out competitors, decrease incentives to innovate new services and increase costs for fans".
Klobuchar and Blumenthal have long been critics of the dominance of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, so the fact they've chosen to focus on this particular element of the wider ticketing debate in the wake of the Swift ticketing meltdown is no surprise.
Announcing the legislative proposals, Klobuchar said: "Right now, one company is leveraging its power to lock venues into exclusive contracts that last up to ten years, ensuring there is no room for potential competitors to get their foot in the door".
"Without competition to incentivise better services and fair prices", she added, "we all suffer the consequences. The Unlock Ticketing Markets Act would help consumers, artists and independent venue operators alike by making sure primary ticketing companies face pressure to innovate and improve".
"Consumers deserve protection against the clear excesses and abuses of Ticketmaster repeatedly demonstrated in their own lives and documented in Congressional hearings", Blumenthal chipped in.
"This legislation is a step toward basic fairness that everyone deserves - consumers, artists, venues, and others - against a sad and repugnant history of putting its profits above them", he went on. "Free and fair markets depend on competition which is the least concertgoers, artists and independent venues deserve".
Responding to those proposals, Live Nation said in a statement: "The ticketing industry is more competitive than ever. Ticketmaster wins business because it offers the best product available for venues, and the length of contracts is generally decided by venues and the guaranteed payments they want to help support their expenses".
"We do not expect any of the proposed changes to have a material impact on our business", it added, "as we historically add clients in competitive marketplaces".
Ostereo launches new songwriting camp at Abbey Road Studios
Eight teams, each consisting of up to four artists and writers, will be holed up in the studios working on different briefs, with support on hand from other artists, including Wh0, Billen Ted, Tom Enzy, Jessica Hammond and Dani Senior.
"I founded Ostereo with a deep passion for music talent and I feel proud to launch Song Circle - an exciting event for artists - at the world's greatest studio", says Ostereo CEO Howard Murphy.
"At a time when discourse around AI songwriting tools is at an all-time high, we want to continue the long tradition of songwriting and celebrate the wonderful individuals who sit at the forefront of it, alongside one of the world's greatest music publishers, Warner Chappell Music", he continues. "Song Circle is a very human camp, where emotion, heart and experience will set the stall for the hits it produces".
On their involvement, Wh0 add: "It's an absolute pleasure to be involved in this songwriting camp. We often find these camps extremely productive in terms of finishing off songs we've started, and also rewarding to share our expertise and knowledge with the participants attending".
"Camps like these are designed for creative communities to easily come together, collaborate and produce some of their best work - which is where the magic happens", they go on. "With it taking place at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, we're excited to take part and guide the writers to not only create exceptional music but also make new friends".
Ostereo says it plans to hold similar events twice a year, taking over well known venues in other cities around the world. This first camp will conclude on Thursday with a party and networking event at Koko in Camden.
Kid Harpoon gets triple win at MPG Awards
Commenting on the winners, MPG Executive Director Eve Horne said: "It's fantastic to see so many deserved winners! Every year we are blown away with the sheer talent that each of the nominees and winners display. It's great to see such diversity again this year too. Testament that the MPG and the industry as a whole is going in the right direction".
In addition to the awards celebrating music produced in the last year, the MPG also presented an Inspiration Award to Ric Flow, an Icon Award to Bob Clearmountain, and an Outstanding Contribution To UK Music prize to Fraser T Smith.
The latter used the occasion to formally launch his Future Producer Academy, which aims to boost the careers of emerging producers from under-represented backgrounds, with support from the MPG and collecting society PPL.
Here is the full list of winners...
Producer Of The Year: Kid Harpoon
Recording Engineer Of The Year: Oli Jacobs
Album Of The Year: Kid Harpoon, Oli Jacobs and Mark 'Spike' Stent for 'Harry's House' by Harry Styles
The MPG Inspiration Award: Ric Flow
Fall Out Boy release vinyl records filled with their own tears
"Music is more than just soundwaves", says a website set up for Crynyl - the fictional company behind the release. "It's passion, struggle and emotion. That's why we developed a new kind of record: one that contains the artists' actual tears. When you listen to a Crynyl release, you're not just listening to what the artist played, you're feeling what they felt".
Limited to just 50 copies, the record is already sold out. Still, despite the short run, it would still take a lot of crying by the band's four members to fill that much hollow vinyl. So, as the website explains, those gathered have been diluted into a "sonically-optimised solution". A promo video adds that there is "only minimal risk for the user". Good to know.
The album sleeve also houses a box of tissues, to mop up your own inevitable tears when you play the record.
The band's Pete Wentz teased the project in March, posting an Instagram reel in which he tried various methods of making himself cry before preparing a vial of what he managed to collect to be shipped off to "the factory".
If you're wondering now where the idea of bands sealing their bodily fluids in vinyl will end up, well, maybe don't think about that. Also, you're forgetting that earlier this year punk band Private Function released the "world's first piss-filled record". Easier to collect than tears, but nonetheless also limited to 50 copies, the records were filled with the band's own urine.
As noted, Fall Out Boy's 'crynyl' quickly sold out, but the band announced on Twitter last night that they had kept hold of a few copies and would be sharing information on how fans could get hold of one in the near future.