|MONDAY 16 JANUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The boss of Sony Entertainment, Michael Lynton, has confirmed that he is departing the company to spend more time snapchatting. By which we mean to fully focus on his role as Chair of Snap Inc, a company in which he was an early investor, not just sitting at home snapchatting away via the social app. Though maybe that too. Although Lynton was always more focused on Sony's movie and TV studios, as CEO of Sony Entertainment he also oversaw the conglom's global music businesses: Sony Music Entertainment and Sony/ATV Music Publishing... [READ MORE]|
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Sony Entertainment CEO confirms his departure
Although Lynton was always more focused on Sony's movie and TV studios, as CEO of Sony Entertainment he also oversaw the conglom's global music businesses: Sony Music Entertainment and Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The exiting CEO will stay on the payroll for another six months as he works with overall Sony Corp chief Kazuo Hirai to find a replacement boss for the firm's US-based entertainment division.
That process is also expected to result in a little restructuring within Sony's American business, which could well result in the music firms being split off from movies and TV. Indeed, as previously reported, when rumour of Lynton's imminent departure gained momentum last month, there was speculation that the Sony movie and TV studios might be slotted into the company's much more successful Interactive Entertainment division, aka the home of the PlayStation.
Whether or not that now happens, any restructuring of Sony's US headquartered entertainment businesses could result in the Sony Music record company and Sony/ATV music publishing firm being more closely aligned. That being something that is much easier to achieve now than before following Sony's purchase of the 50% of Sony/ATV it didn't own from the Michael Jackson estate last year.
While it is common for companies that own both labels and publishing assets to have the two sides of their music rights businesses operate autonomously, most have a little more integration than Sony. One possible restructure, therefore, would be for Sony to mirror Universal Music in having publishing ultimately report into the record company's top management; though that might be easier to achieve whenever 75 year old Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier decides to retire.
In the meantime, Lynton has confirmed his impending departure in a memo, saying: "Today I will be announcing my resignation from Sony to focus on my position as Chairman of the board of Snap Inc. This was not an easy decision for me, and one that I arrived at after long and careful consideration. As some of you are already aware, I have been involved with Snapchat since its early days. Given Snapchat's growth - and my growing role and responsibilities in it - I recently determined that the time was right to make a change".
He added: "As you are all aware, the landscape of our business continues to shift as never before, and the innovation and commitment shown by all of you at Sony Corp, Pictures and Music to adapt and change with it has been inspiring. I am confident that the broad changes we have made and the terrific new management team we assembled over the last few years will strengthen the company overall, and position it for greater growth in the future".
Gwen Stefani accused of song-theft by her former hairstylist
So Richard Morrill, best known for his stint in early 1990s band LAPD - which later morphed into Korn - is suing Gwen Stefani over her 2014 track 'Spark The Fire' which, he says, rips off a song he wrote in 1996 called 'Who's Got My Lightah'.
Morrill's lawsuit, filed last week, claims that the Stefani track - which was produced by that definite non-plagiarist (except that one time) Pharrell Williams - has a chorus with "almost identical" rhythm, melody and background music to that in his song. Though it's the lyrical similarity that the lawsuit focuses on in particular.
Morrill says that the chorus of his 1996 track went "Who's got my lightah? Going to find ya - who's got my lightah? I'm right behind ya"; while a 2009 rework he wrote went "Who's got my lightah? Who got the fire? Who's got my lightah? Who's got my little lightah?" And, in case you wondered, the word 'fire' was pronounced 'fi-ya'.
The Stefani and Williams track? Well, its chorus went "Who got the lighter? Let's spark the fire - who got the lighter? Let's spark the fire". And how was 'fire' pronounced in that song? Yep, you guessed it - it was pronounced 'fi-ya'. Coincidence?
But how, you might now be asking, did Stefani even get her hands on a copy Morrill's little known track from the mid-1990s? Well, see, some years after he quit LAPD before his bandmates went off to find fame and fortune as Korn, Morrill was a working as a hairstylist in California and in that job provided some quality care for the then No Doubt singer's hair.
He alleges that while working on Stefani's hairstyle he played her his song, she said she liked it, so he gave her a CD that had the track on it. Hence the singer had his work sitting at home ready to rip off with Williams nearly two decades later. Perfect.
Morrill is suing Stefani, Williams and Interscope for vicarious copyright infringement and, on top of that, Stefani is also accused of civil theft. He wants a credit on the Stefani track, a share of the profits and some damages. Given Stefani dropped 'Spark The Fire' from her third solo album after the somewhat lacklustre response to the single release, I suspect the credit and profit share won't be worth much, but there's always lovely damages.
Victoria Beckham's lawyers seeking to block any Spice Girls reunion
The tabloid reckons that Beckham isn't impressed with the plan that three of her former bandmates - Emma, Geri and Mel B - reform as the Spice Girls, touring with a show featuring both the hits of old and some new material.
Although reports say that Beckham is seeking to stop the streamlined Spice Girls from singing any of their past hits on copyright grounds, it is possible her lawyers are mainly seeking to stop their client's former bandmates from performing under the Spice Girls brand, a not uncommon dispute when incomplete line-ups of old pop outfits hit the nostalgia circuit.
Because each of the Spice Girls took songwriting credits on their songs, Beckham could in theory pull her repertoire from the collective licensing system that normally administrates public performance rights, which would certainly complicate licensing the song rights for any hits tour by her former collaborators. Though lawyers are probably more likely to be pushing for Emma, Geri and Mel B to perform under a different name without any Spicey references - GEM has already been floated - whatever songs they sing.
Says one of those pesky sources: "The girls are devastated. Victoria was a huge part of their lives and now she is using lawyers to block their comeback. Victoria is proud of her Spice Girls history but this suggests she wants to cut all links with the group which transformed her life. She is resorting to aggressive legal letters and it is an extremely sad way for things to end after all they have been through together".
All that said, there is other speculation that the Spice Girls/GEM/reunion/whatever project is on hold now anyway because of the pregnancy of Geri Horner (née Halliwell), so what's all the fuss about?
IP Crime Unit dropped in on brands still advertising on piracy sites
The IP Crime unit has always been a big advocate of the 'follow the money' approach to combating piracy, where you go after the income streams of copyright infringing operations that are based outside your own jurisdiction. A big part of that has been Operation Creative, which calls on the advertising industry to make sure ad spend doesn't got to piracy operations, directly or via outsourced ad networks.
Officers visited eight businesses - including brands, ad agencies and ad networks - last week to make them aware that their banners had been seen on infringing sites, and to introduce those organisations to the Infringing Website List that the policing unit produces.
The City Of London Police told reporters of last week's trip out: "During the visits, the eight companies were made aware of their involvement in the placement of ads on copyright infringing sites. All of the organisations were keen to support Operation Creative and have pledged to sign up to the IWL to ensure advert placement from their brand and clients do not appear on the 1232 websites listed on the list".
Meanwhile Detective Constable Steven Salway added: "Operation Creative is key to ending the funding of websites involved in digital piracy. It is important we tackle this issue, not only for brands and businesses' reputation, but for consumers too. When adverts from established brands appear on these sites, they lend them a look of legitimacy. By working with industry to discourage reputable brands from advertising on piracy sites, we will help consumers realise these sites are neither official nor legal".
Domino hires Vincent Clery-Melin
"I have known Vincent for many years now and long admired his many skills and achievements", says Domino founder Laurence Bell. "I thought it high time he came to work at a true independent record company and thankfully he agrees. I look forward to our time ahead immensely".
Clery-Melin adds: "I've been a huge fan of Domino, of Laurence, of the music he's released, and of the culture he's created for a very long time. So I couldn't be happier to join the label at such an exciting moment. I really look forward to working with the Domino Records team and all the amazing artists on the roster. And as Laurence points out, I'm also excited to be going to work at a true independent record company!"
He will officially take up his new position at the end of the month. He is currently MD of Kobalt Label Services and Kobalt's AWAL distribution company.
A Greener Festival names greener festivals
"Events who have achieved the Greener Festival Award 2016 have shown an incredible dedication to walking the talk, minimising the environmental impact of their events and using them as a positive and much needed portal for change", says AGF co-founder Claire O'Neill. "It has not at all been easy, with the most challenging assessments to face events in our ten year history. We salute all of you!"
The 25 events recognised for efforts to minimise environmental impact in 2016 are:
Further discussion of the work these events are doing, and what more can be done to further improve the sustainability of the festival sector, will be discussed at the Green Events & Innovations Conference on 7 Mar, within the ILMC programme.
Little Mix announce UK summer shows
Here are the dates:
23 Jun: Newmarket Racecourses
BRIT Awards nominations announced
If you had been watching, you would have seen performances by Craig David, Christine And The Queens, Calum Scott and BRITs Critics' Choice Winner Rag N Bone Man. But not to worry. Just watch some Christine And The Queens performances on YouTube later. Any will do. Take your pick. I'm not pushy.
But what of the nominations? The big thing this year, of course, was improving the diversity of the UK record industry's big awards bash, after last year's lists and eventual winners were noted for their particular whiteness. Efforts to improve the mix of BRIT voters - or possibly existing voters casting their nets a bit wider - do seem to have paid off, with a broader representation of what's popular on offer. The resurgent grime scene gets a look in this year with nominations for Skepta, Kano and Stormzy.
Anohni also becomes the first artist to have BRIT nominations in both the Best British Male and Best British Female categories in different years. Appearing in the latter category this year, she was previously nominated in the male category as Antony And The Johnsons in 2006. Which almost (but still not quite) justifies having award categories separated by gender in 2017.
Still, on the night all the awards could still end up going to Adele again. Even if she is only on one shortlist this year. That nomination is in the Best Video category, which is voted for on social media. One Direction are also up for that, so I suspect even Adele doesn't stand a chance there. But she'll definitely get the good old no-shortlist-required Global Success Award, which is mainly there to ensure the biggest British global star of the moment has a reason to attend the show even when they're not likely to win anything else.
"The 2017 BRIT nominations reflect a diverse and rich year in music both in the UK and internationally", says BRITs chair and Sony Music UK boss Jason Iley. "Huge artists from the past, present and future are represented. From pop, to indie, to grime, to rock; it's a brilliant and varied roll call of talent - a fantastic showcase for what's happening in music right now".
When he says "past", he means David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, who both pick up posthumous nominations. A Tribe Called Quest are also up for Best International Group, following the death of rapper Phife Dawg last year. So the night could end up being dominated by the deads. Who are often unrepresented at these things. So yay diversity!
The ceremony itself will take place on 22 Feb, with performances from, among others, Little Mix, Emeli Sandé and The 1975.
And the nominees are...
British Male Solo Artist: Craig David, David Bowie, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka, Skepta
British Female Solo Artist: Anohni, Ellie Goulding, Emeli Sandé, Lianne La Havas, Nao
British Group: The 1975, Bastille, Biffy Clyro, Little Mix, Radiohead
British Breakthrough Act: Anne-Marie, Blossoms, Rag N Bone Man, Skepta, Stormzy
British Single: Alan Walker - Faded, Calum Scott - Dancing On My Own, Calvin Harris feat Rihanna - This Is What You Came For, Clean Bandit feat Sean Paul & Anne-Marie, Rockabye, Coldplay - Hymn For The Weekend, James Arthur - Say You Won't Let Go, Jonas Blue feat Dakota - Fast Car, Little Mix - Shout Out To My Ex, Tinie Tempah feat Zara Larsson - Girls Like, Zayn - Pillowtalk
British Album Of The Year: The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, David Bowie - Blackstar, Kano - Made In The Manor, Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate, Skepta - Konnichiwa
British Artist Video Of The Year: Adele - Send My Love (To Your New Lover), Calvin Harris feat Rihanna - This Is What You Came For, Clean Bandit feat Sean Paul & Anne-Marie - Rockabye, Coldplay - Hymn For The Weekend, James Arthur - Say You Won't Let Go, Jonas Blue feat Dakota - Fast Car, Little Mix feat Sean Paul - Hair, One Direction - History, Tinie Tempah feat Zara Larsson - Girls Like, Zayn - Pillowtalk
International Male Solo Artist: Bon Iver, Bruno Mars, Drake, Leonard Cohen, The Weeknd
International Female Solo Artist: Beyonce, Christine And The Queens, Rihanna, Sia, Solange
Critics' Choice: Rag N Bone Man
BRITs Global Success Award: Adele
CISAC, Live Nation, Michael Jackson, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• CISAC - the global grouping for song right collecting societies - has appointed Adrian Strain Communications to support its comms strategy, that being the new consultancy from the former IFPI Communications Director. Strain stepped down from his long-time role at the global record industry trade group last month.
• Live Nation has acquired a majority stake in US festival BottleRock from Latitude 38 Entertainment. Taking place in Napa Valley, California, its 2017 edition in May will be headlined by Foo Fighters, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Maroon 5.
• Sky Arts has pulled an episode of comedy show 'Urban Myths' after complaints from Michael Jackson's family. Paris Jackson tweeted last week that photographs of white actor Joseph Fiennes playing her father made her "want to vomit".
• BBC Radio 1 has launched a new campaign to support new talent in the UK, committing to playlist three singles by six newcomers. "It's no secret that the wider music industry, of which Radio 1 forms an important part, struggled to break any UK artists in 2016", Radio 1 Head Of Music Chris Price told Music Week, which has all the details here.
• Why? have released new track 'Progressive Evolution', taken from new album 'Moh Lhean', which is out on 3 Mar.
Donald Trump's inauguration has performers booked (so far only one has pulled out)
It was announced on Friday that the line-up for the 'Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration' - held at Washington's Lincoln Memorial on 19 Jan - will feature Toby Keith, Jennifer Holliday, The Piano Guys, Lee Greenwood, RaviDrums, Three Doors Down, The Frontmen Of Country (Tim Rushlow, Larry Stewart and Richie McDonald), actor Jon Voight and, of course, Donald 'The' Trump.
"President-elect Trump has made it clear that this inaugural is of, by, and for the American people", said chair of the new president's inauguration committee Tom Barrack. "The 58th Inaugural will celebrate American history and heritage, while setting the course to a brighter and bolder future for all Americans. Above all, it will serve as tribute to one of our greatest attributes, the peaceful transition of partisan power".
Oh, but hang about, that list above is actually inaccurate. Broadway star Jennifer Holliday has already dropped out - doing so within 24 hours of the line-up being announced. This followed criticism that her apparent support of Trump ignored the fears of her large LGBT fanbase about what lies ahead during the erratic TV personality's tenure.
In a letter to fans, published by The Wrap, Holliday said that she had intended to remain a "bi-partisan songbird", having previously performed for presidents Reagan, Clinton, Bush Snr and Bush Jr. "Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal beliefs and be mistaken for support of Donald Trump and Mike Pence".
She continued: "I sincerely apologise for my lapse of judgement, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans".
Other acts on the line-up have come under pressure to withdraw too. However, country singer Toby Keith was defiant, saying in a statement to Entertainment Weekly: "I don't apologise for performing for our country or military. I performed at events for previous presidents Bush [Jr] and Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO".
As previously reported, Trump's team have struggled to book acts for the inauguration show, with various noted opponents of the businessman coming forward to publicly reject requests to perform, including Elton John, Moby and Charlotte Church.