|THURSDAY 12 JANUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Richard Carpenter is suing Universal Music in a wide-ranging royalties dispute which also reignites the classic sales-v-licence debate. One half of The Carpenters alongside his late sister Karen, Carpenter claims that when he had his accountants do one of those always fun audits of his label's books, the bean counters found multiple errors in the way the duo's royalties had been calculated... [READ MORE]|
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The Carpenters sue Universal over unpaid royalties, including sales-v-licence
One half of The Carpenters alongside his late sister Karen, Carpenter claims that when he had his accountants do one of those always fun audits of his label's books, the bean counters found multiple errors in the way the duo's royalties had been calculated.
Among the complaints in Carpenters' lawsuit are that Universal and its A&M Records label - to which the duo were signed - under-reported the number of downloads of his music and applied an incorrect base rate to the sale of CDs of Carpenters' records. But, perhaps more importantly, the litigation also again questions how labels classify downloads.
As much previously reported, this has been a bone of contention between artists and record companies ever since iTunes first gained momentum. Artist record contracts traditionally made a distinction between sales income and licence income, with a much smaller royalty paid on the former than the latter.
Major label contracts commonly paid up to a 15% royalty on sales, but might offer a 50/50 split on licensing revenue. That was mainly because sales - which originally meant physical recordings sold in shops - accounted for the vast majority of income overall.
With iTunes, the labels no longer sold physical product to retailers, but instead gave Apple a licence to digitally distribute their music. This resulted in many managers and lawyers arguing that iTunes money was therefore licence income, and the higher artist royalty should be paid.
Labels generally disagreed with this, arguing that downloads were a digital version of the traditional sale. Some artists then went legal, with the landmark case remaining that pursued against Universal by FBT Productions, producers on the early Eminem recordings who earned royalties from those records.
FBT won, but Universal and its rivals insisted that the case didn't set a precedent to be applied across all pre-digital record contracts. However, behind the scenes, a number of big name heritage acts negotiated secret deals that got them much better rates on download income.
Though when other American artists went legal, resulting in a number of class actions, in the main the labels managed to negotiate out-of-court settlements that offered only nominal increases on download royalties for artists (no more than a few per cent). Most record companies, meanwhile, argued that if they were forced to pay a 50% artist royalty on downloads across the board they'd go out of business.
Although the big sales-v-licence cases were generally settled in a cost effective way for the labels, the issue now commonly pops up whenever veteran acts have a general royalty squabble with a major. The biggest ongoing litigation that includes this issue is the dispute between Sony Music and 19 Entertainment, which reps various former 'American Idol' finalists. That lawsuit is particularly interesting because it also questions the royalty rate the major pays on streams, where the case for 'licence' over 'sale' is even stronger.
Back to Carpenter and his filing yesterday with the LA Superior Court. Citing the FBT Productions case, his lawsuit says Universal "improperly classified" download revenue which, combined with the alleged under-reporting, means he and the estate of his late sister received a "minuscule fraction" of the digital royalties they are owed.
Alleging that the major knocked back his claim for unpaid royalties following his audit, Carpenter wants the courts to force the major to hand over that money and other damages. He said in a statement: "I regret that I have been unable to amicably resolve this serious royalty dispute with Universal and A&M".
He went on: "The Carpenters recordings are among the best sellers in the history of popular music and after 48 years continue to contribute a substantial amount to UMG/A&M's annual bottom line. It seems only fair that these companies account fairly to my sister's estate and to me. I look forward to proving the allegations in court".
Prince estate confirms deal with Irving Azoff's Global Music Rights
Universal Music Publishing has already been appointed by reps of the Prince estate to administrate the popstar's songs repertoire, but GMR will lead on licensing the performing right elements of his work to broadcasters, digital services and such like, which is to say in those areas where collective licensing is the norm in the US.
Azoff launched GMR in 2014, of course, with the plan of representing a small but esteemed roster of songwriters in the performing rights domain, in a bid to secure said acts better rates when their songs are exploited on air or online.
Unlike the big two performing rights organisations in the US - BMI and ASCAP - GMR is not subject to the consent decree collective licensing rules or the whims of the rate court in setting what royalties it should receive. Though the ability of Azoff's rights agency to negotiate with licensees without the intervention of a third party mediator should be tested later this year in a big legal battle with the American radio industry.
Having the Prince oeuvre on its books will further help GMR demand preferential rates from licensees, assuming the radio sector doesn't force limitations on the agency's negotiating power through competition law. And that includes in the streaming domain, where the Prince estate is seemingly keen to get the musician's music back online across the board, ending Tidal's exclusivity deal (or non-deal, as the case may be).
Former ASCAP member Prince had apparently already been in talks with GMR before his death, and a deal was done with the estate last year but was only announced this week. That announcement came shortly after Universal's Bravado was confirmed as merchandise partner for the Prince estate, and alongside those moves to get the musician's music back on the streaming services ahead of a tribute set at this year's Grammy Awards.
Confirming the arrangement and alluding to the plans to get the Prince catalogue live in more places, GMR boss Randy Grimmett was quoted by Bloomberg as saying yesterday: "This is one of the most pre-eminent music catalogues ever created. Fans will soon have it accessible to them in all the ways consumers like to hear music".
Elsewhere in Prince news, a court will later today consider who should administrate his estate long-term, with the current overseers the Bremer Trust always intended as interim administrators. Prince's sister Tyka Nelson put forward two contenders for the role, and it's thought her second choice, Michigan-based Comerica Bank, is favoured by some of his other siblings.
Napalm Records hires Nasrin Vahdani to head up PR department
"Napalm Records showed a steady growth during the last few years and developed itself to a well-established and powerful label in an impressive way", says Vahdani. "Signings such as Alter Bridge and Hammerfall, as well as the international success of WASP, Kamelot and Devildriver speak for themselves and simply indicate the future path of the company".
"When [Napalm CEO] Thomas Caser asked me if I could imagine to join the Berlin office as Head Of Promotion, the decision wasn't a difficult one for me", she adds.
The aforementioned Caser adds: "We are proud and happy to expand our promotion department with Nasrin. With her expertise, years of experience in business and her international network, she is the perfect addition to the team. We have big plans for the coming years and Nasrin perfectly shares our corporate vision".
As previously reported, Napalm Records last year opened a new London office, overseen by Wally van Middendorp.
UK live music census announced
The census will be carried out over one 24 hour period in March, with organisers now calling for volunteers to help to record musical activity in their local area. Those volunteers will be asked to note aspects of any gig they attend on Thursday 9 Mar, including the musical genre, the venue, door charge and audience demographic.
"This is like a 'Springwatch' for live music", says lead organiser Matt Brennan from the University Of Edinburgh. "We want people to let us know everything about the music they see on this one day".
He continues: "Live music in the UK - from The Beatles and the Sex Pistols to West End musicals and Glastonbury - has transformed our culture, yet it is constantly under pressure. This census will help give us an accurate snapshot of the scene's health".
As well as calling on the general public to assist the research on the ground, there will also be an online survey opened up to musicians, venues, promoters and audience members.
The team behind the research ran a pilot version in Edinburgh in 2015, which identified issues with the local council's policy on noise levels at gigs. This informed a decision to revise those rules.
Paradigm agencies to be known as Paradigm
Confirming all of this, Paradigm CEO Sam Gores said: "I've found that the same entrepreneurial spirit that leads to successful business building also lends itself to successful career building for our clients. In working with like-minded professionals, we're able to expand our reach, resources and clients without losing our focus. Our mutual respect and shared values makes this integration a natural fit".
AM Only chief Paul Morris and Windish Agency boss Tom Windish retain their leadership roles within the business. Commenting on the rebrand, the latter said yesterday: "We have always shared the same values and I am proud to now share the same name".
Meanwhile, noting the various alliances Paradigm has struck over the years, and its strategy of growing through 'partnerships' rather than straight acquisitions, Morris said: "Paradigm has built an inclusive culture that keeps the spirit of these independent companies alive, which allows our unique attributes to continue to flourish within the unified agency".
Paradigm also has an alliance with London-based booking agency Coda, in which it bought a 50% stake back in 2014. Coda is not part of the rebrand.
Sony signs new deal for Asia's Got Talent
Having come up with nothing, two years ago he reworked the format so to ensure that more than half of the world's entire population were eligible to compete, discovering that the real talent was actually in the shadows. Who knew? Hoping to capitalise on that success, 'Asia's Got Talent' has been signed up for a multi-series run.
Sony's AXN channel aired the first series of English-language show 'Asia's Got Talent' in 20 countries across the Asian market in 2015. Reckoning that there must be at least two talented groups amongst the continent's 4.4 billion people, Sony Pictures Television Networks has now signed a new multi-year deal with Syco and Freemantle to bring the show back.
"AXN is the home of high quality original productions that are 'made in Asia, for Asia'", says Sony Pictures Television's Virginia Lim. "We were the first channel to premiere a localised, pan-regional format ten years ago and since then have consistently rolled out original productions that truly resonate with our viewers".
Syco's George Levendisadds: "The first series of 'Asia's Got Talent' was an undeniable smash on AXN and brought together wonderful talent from 20 markets, making it one of the most engaging, fun and exciting productions globally. With the 'Got Talent' franchise now reaching over 70 commissions across the world we are extremely pleased to see 'Got Talent' back on air on AXN in 2017 as part of this multi-year agreement".
Also launching this year is 'Bhutan's Got Talent'. The Himalayan state may have a population of less than 800,000, but I reckon that's where all the real talent is hiding out. Though, I guess, even if that turns out to be true, that will still mean Asia's got talent.
In other Syco news, a new Companies House filing shows that Sony Music extended its joint venture with Simon Cowell's business in 2015. As part of the £86.4 million deal, Sony took a 50% slice of Syco Holdings, which increased its stake in its existing joint venture with Cowell, Syco Entertainment, to 75%. The new deal came five years after Sony launched its JV with Cowell, and as he recommitted to working with the major.
Camila Cabello says she was "uncomfortable" with being sexualised in Fifth Harmony
As previously reported, Cabello left Fifth Harmony in December, resulting in a brief war of words on Facebook. What became apparent was that her decision to quit the group had been some time coming, though her actual reasons for leaving were not clear.
Speaking to Dunham, Cabello said: "Especially with being a girl group, there's been a lot of times where people have tried to sexualise us to just get more attention. Unfortunately, sex sells. There's definitely been times where there's stuff that I have not been comfortable with and I've had to put my foot down".
"I feel like it's been tricky because we've had to grow into ourselves while being in front of the world and while making songs that did have a lot of sexual undertones", she continued. "There's nothing wrong with sexuality. If you have that inside, it's just an expression of who you are. If you want to share that with people, that's amazing. I think the thing that I would say to young women is, if you're not ready for it, put your foot down".
Blanck Mass announces new album
"The title is a reference to the inner beast inside human beings that when grouped en masse stops us from moving forward towards good", says Power.
"Being surrounded by so much hate in the world right now throws a whole new light on the importance of love", he adds. "I have never set out to make a protest record. I've never set out to make any kind of record really, but during the creative process for this and any of my past releases I start to form a bond with the project as we grow together".
"Fear and hope are both parts of our human make up", he concludes. "But it's the way that we act upon these feelings that is of concern to me - to understand the beast or to become the beast".
Warner/Chappell, Vivendi, Independent Venue Week, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Warner/Chappell Production Music is now licensing the catalogue of the London-based CPM Music Library it acquired in 2010 globally - the US and Canada having been excluded until now. CPM began life as the Carlin Recorded Music Library in 1988.
• Universal Music owner Vivendi is further expanding its live entertainment business by opening four new venues in Africa as part of the CanalOlympia venture it first unveiled in 2015. The new complexes in Conakry (Guinea), Douala (Cameroon), Niamey (Niger) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) will host movie screenings and gigs, Universal organising the latter.
• St Vincent has designed a signature series of guitars for Ernie Ball. Check them out here.
• Steve Lamacq will broadcast his 6 Music show from a different grassroots venue each day of Independent Venue Week, which begins on 23 Jan. He will visit the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, The Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham, Jericho Tavern in Oxford, The Bassment in Chelmsford and Sticky Mike's in Brighton.
• Alma, The Amazons, The Big Moon, Dave, Declan McKenna, Jorja Smith, Nadia Rose and They will all play Radio 1's Future Festival next Tuesday, a new talent bash recorded at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios and broadcast live on the station. Though I know for certain that all those acts already exist. Next year's Future Festival should only feature bands yet to form. That's the future.
• Scottish music convention Wide Days will return this year from 21-22 Apr, back in the castle that is the Teviot students' union at Edinburgh University. PRS For Music Foundation is on board as a supporter to enable more mentoring and support for the artists who play.
• That there Amsterdam Dance Event will return from 18-22 Oct in, erm, well, Amsterdam. Team ADE will also be presenting an event in Mumbai next month and showcases at this year's SXSW.
• Laura Marling has released another track from her 'Semper Femina' album, which his out on 10 Mar. It's called 'Wildfire' and you can check it out here.
• Sleaford Mods have released a new track from their upcoming 'English Tapas' album. 'Here's 'BHS'. "Buy a company, run it down, take the money, fuck the workers, it's legal", says the duo's Jason Williamson of the track and its subject, Philip Green.
• Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has released the video for new single 'Harajuku Iyahoi'. "I feel this song became a very unique party song", she says of the track.
• Lydia Ainsworth returns with her second album, 'Darling Of The Afterglow', on 31 Mar. Here's first single 'The Road'.
• Porcelain Raft has released new track 'Big Sur'. His new album, 'Microclimate', is out on 3 Feb.
• Tempers are streaming 'Further' from their upcoming 'Fundamental Fantasy' EP, out on 24 Feb.
• The winner of the 2017 European Border Breakers Public Choice Award presented as the Eurosonic festival got underway yesterday? Dua Lipa of course! I can't believe you had to ask. Pay more attention in the future.
"Help! James Blunt wants me dead", pleads Ed Sheeran
In case you somehow missed the story of the year in 2016, it was reported in November that Sheeran was stabbed in the face by Princess Beatrice, as she staged a mock knighting of James Blunt at a party at the Royal Lodge in Windsor. At the time Sheeran was still on his self-imposed break from public life. Now he's back, promoting two new singles, everyone's keen to get the inside scoop.
Sadly, Sheeran is being a little cagey about it, refusing to say exactly who was holding the sword when it plunged into his cheek.
"It did get cut by a sword", he admitted. "James Blunt would like me to tell everyone that it was him and that he was trying to reclaim his pop career by killing me".
In any other situation, that would be a story we could run with, but it's not as good as a royal having sliced Sheeran's face, so bad luck Blunt. And bad luck Ed, who notes that the version of events everyone believes is "not the most gangster story in the world".
He adds that the scar left behind doesn't allow him to invent a more 'gangster' story around it. "It's too clean to be a shark and it's too clean to be a bottle - it is a ceremonial sword".
Still, if he won't say what it's like being stabbed in the face by royalty, how about he just tells us what it's like being stabbed in the face with a ceremonial sword?
"I didn't notice", he said, disappointingly. "I guess when you shave, you cut yourself every now and then and your skin gets used to it, so I didn't know I was cut. I got hit in the face and I was like, 'alright, OK'. I looked down at my shirt and it was just completely covered in blood and everyone was kind of, gaping open-mouthed at me. I was like, 'What? Have I got a nosebleed or something? What's happened?' But, yeah, it was... my face".
His face indeed it was. And he faced further tough questions yesterday when Capital FM asked him to perform the theme tune to 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' entirely on the spot and definitely without any warning whatsoever.