|THURSDAY 19 JANUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Ah, the US reversion right. That's fun isn't it? Paul McCartney has sued Sony/ATV fearing that it might as yet seek to block his reversion right by equating 'Hey Jude' to 'Girls On Film'. Because if you listen carefully, they are basically the same song. So, as every copyright fan knows, in 1978 US Congress introduced a 'reversion' or 'termination' right into the country's copyright law, which says that songwriters who assign the rights in their songs to another entity have a one-time opportunity to terminate that assignment and claim back their intellectual property... [READ MORE]|
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Paul McCartney goes legal over the US reversion right
So, as every copyright fan knows, in 1978 US Congress introduced a 'reversion' or 'termination' right into the country's copyright law, which says that songwriters who assign the rights in their songs to another entity have a one-time opportunity to terminate that assignment and claim back their intellectual property.
This right kicks in at 35 years, though the rules are slightly different for songs assigned before 1978, which means the reversion right party only really cranked into action a few years back. That in turn means that some of the technicalities surrounding the whole termination process are still being ironed out.
One of the big fat technicalities is how the reversion right applies for songwriters who assigned their rights to a music publisher through a deal done outside the US, via a contract that is ultimately under the jurisdiction of a non-American court. Does the reversion right still apply, in that the writer has the right to claim back their IP within the US, even if the publisher then retains the rights everywhere else in the world?
That was the consensus (hope?) among British songwriters old enough for the reversion right to be kicking in. But when Duran Duran filed the paperwork required to terminate the US part of the publishing deal around their early works, the publisher - now a Sony/ATV subsidiary - said "no way Jose, read your contract, brush up on your English contract law, those songs are ours until the day you die, suckers". I mean, I'm paraphrasing slightly. But only slightly.
When Duran Duran took the matter to court last year, Sony/ATV won. At the time the band's Nick Rhodes told reporters: "This gives wealthy publishing companies carte blanche to take advantage of the songwriters who built their fortune over many years, and strips songwriters of their right to rebalance this reward. If left untested, this judgment sets a very bad precedent for all songwriters of our era".
Now, Paul McCartney has been busy of late filing termination notices against Sony/ATV in relation to the slightly famous Lennon/McCartney catalogue, so Rhodes' remarks got him wondering about the Duran Duran ruling. "Yeah, it does set a bit of a bad precedent for all songwriters of our era doesn't it?" he pondered. "But, erm, hey, guys, does it set a bad precedent for one songwriter in particular?"
Because, see, while Sony/ATV hasn't said it's opposing McCartney's bid to reclaim the American rights in his Beatles songs, nor has it confirmed that it's not. Hence the filing this week in the New York courts. "Rather than provide clear assurances to Paul McCartney that defendants will not challenge his exercise of his termination rights, defendants are clearly reserving their rights pending the final outcome of the Duran Duran litigation in the UK", says the lawsuit".
Sony/ATV, which has already reached a deal with the Lennon estate over its share of these songs, obviously doesn't want a big bust up in the courts with McCartney, for PR reasons as much as because of any precedents that legal dispute could set. Talks between the two parties, including Sony/ATV boss man Marty Bandier, have seemingly been ongoing for a while, though the ruling in the Duran Duran case turned things a bit frosty.
If the dispute does actually go before a judge, it would be a very interesting case, in that it would test the rights of non-US songwriters in America under US copyright law rather than under English contract law. If the courts in New York and London ultimately disagree on those writer's rights, well that would be fun.
Responding to McCartney's legal filing yesterday, Sony/ATV said in a statement: "Fuck Paul McCartney. Fuck The Beatles. Fuck Wings. Fuck The Fireman. Fuck The Frog Chorus. Fuck loving me do. Fuck tickets to ride. Fuck letting it be. Fuck helping your friends. Fuck days in the life. Fuck Lady Madonna. Fuck Eleanor Rigby. Fuck Penny Lane. Fuck Michelle. Fuck yesterday. They can all fuck off".
Oh, no, hang on, my bad, that's not Sony/ATV's statement, I mixed up my papers. Responding to McCartney's legal filing yesterday, Sony/ATV said in a statement: "Sony/ATV has the highest respect for Sir Paul McCartney with whom we have enjoyed a long and mutually rewarding relationship with respect to the treasured Lennon & McCartney song catalogue".
The statement then added: "We have collaborated closely with both Sir Paul and the late John Lennon's estate for decades to protect, preserve and promote the catalogue's long-term value. We are disappointed that they have filed this lawsuit which we believe is both unnecessary and premature".
Yeah, I preferred the other response.
Former financial advisor admits to stealing nearly $5 million from Alanis Morissette
Jonathan Schwartz took $4.7 million from Morissette herself. She went legal over the matter last year, after she hired a new financial advisor who audited the singer's accounts and found millions were unaccounted for.
Schwartz provided financial services to Morissette and others via a company called GSO Business Management, which promptly fired him when the embezzlement claims came to light.
Although he originally alleged that the unaccounted monies had been invested on behalf of his clients in an illegal marijuana growing businesses that couldn't provide the required paperwork, Schwartz eventually admitted to stealing the cash for himself.
He agreed to enter a guilty plea to the resulting criminal charges yesterday, with his lawyers now trying to negotiate a plea deal that could get his jail time down from a possible 23 years to as low as four years. Schwartz's legal rep argued that - other than the initial marijuana investments lie - her client has cooperated with investigators and accepted responsibility.
Morissette, who sued both GSO and Schwartz last year, has seemingly settled both cases, with the finance firm saying it has repaid all the monies stolen by its former employee.
Meanwhile GSO is also suing its former exec, and its lawyer Chris Reeder yesterday called Schwartz's actions "shocking and disappointing", adding: "The company is very happy he's being brought to justice and held accountable for his actions".
If you're wondering what Schwartz did with the $7 million, GSO says he used the cash to fund "a lavish lifestyle", with things like a $50,000 trip to Bora Bora and some fun times in a Bahamas casino that lost him $75,000.
US record industry lobbing group makes copyright demands of new Congress
The letter comes from musicFIRST, which brings together various groups repping record companies and recording artists. As a result, the three copyright technicalities the letter focuses on relate to recordings rather than songs, so there's no talk about consent decrees and 100% licensing. And the lobbying group has always had a particular focus on radio, so not even safe harbours appear.
The three issues on which musicFIRST wants Congressional assistance are the lack of a general performing right with the American sound recording copyright, the whole pre-1972 debacle, and fucking compulsory licences.
US copyright law is highly unusual in only providing sound recording copyright owners with a digital performing right, so that AM/FM radio stations don't need to get a licence from or pay any royalties to labels or artists. American record companies have been lobbying to get a proper performing right in line with their counterparts around the world for years, but so far without success.
Writes musicFIRST in its new letter to Congress: "Terrestrial radio must join EVERY other platform that builds a business delivering copyrighted content and compensate artists for their music. Radio in the US is a big business - ten companies control 50% of the US market, and long-gone are the days when radio helped 'discover' performers".
That latter point relates to the long-delivered excuse from the US radio sector as to why it shouldn't pay royalties to labels. Airplay is promo, it argues, and labels and artists should be grateful for that without demanding payment.
But, says musicFIRST, "only a small percentage of songs played on radio are new, and music fans overwhelmingly look to streaming and other platforms to discover music. The imaginary argument that radio 'compensates' artists by promoting them in the era of social media, digital services and 24 hour entertainment news doesn't hold up anymore".
It goes on: "Big radio makes billions by playing (predominantly older) music, pure and simple. In any other market-based arrangement they would have to compensate the owner of that music at market rate. Congress can very easily fix this".
The whole pre-1972 thing stems from the fact that US-wide federal copyright law only protects sound recordings released since 1972. Earlier tracks are protected by state-level copyright law, which has caused all sorts of legal wrangling, especially since federal law was updated to say that online and satellite radio should pay royalties, putting labels and artists who own pre-1972 tracks at a disadvantage.
"It's an inexplicable anomaly in federal law that even the Library Of Congress can't explain", writes musicFirst. "Older artists have been forced to chase large, profitable music services across multiple state courts in lengthy and expensive litigation to pursue basic compensation for their valuable catalogues".
And finally, compulsory licences, which force artists and labels to license certain kinds of services at rates set by a statutory body or a court. Now, compulsory licences aren't an oddity of American copyright law - they're found in lots of copyright systems - but the compulsory licence that covers personalised radio services like Pandora is more unusual, and it's that compulsory licence musicFIRST takes aim at.
Though, of course, Pandora has now shifted over to direct licensing and is no longer using the compulsory licence administered by SoundExchange. Which means it now gets to be the good guy in musicFIRST pronouncements, while other services still utilising that licence and therefore paying the statutory rates - most notably satellite broadcaster SiriusXM - get to be name checked as the bad guy.
"Digital services like Pandora use a market-based rate", the letter notes, but "satellite services like SiriusXM use a grandfathered below-market rate. We want every business that delivers music to consumers to thrive and grow, but they all should pay a market-based rate to the artists and creators that they depend on".
So, to conclude, hey women and men of the mighty American Congress, stop killing poor people and occupy your time fixing dumb copyright laws instead.
Gregg Nadel named Elektra president
"Atlantic has a homegrown tradition of nurturing our leaders from within the family, and Gregg is a shining example of that philosophy", says Atlantic CEO Craig Kallman. "He has literally grown up at this company, evolving into one of the most gifted and admired A&R people in the business, while at the same time becoming a marketing ace for superstars and new artists alike".
He continued: "Each label within Atlantic has a distinct, independent point of view, and Gregg has proven time and time again that he has the vision, taste, deep knowledge, and broad experience that make him the perfect choice to carry the esteemed Elektra name into the future".
"I am THRILLED to be part of a new chapter in the history of this revered label", beamed Nadel. "Since the day Jac Holzman launched Elektra as an indie label nearly 67 years ago, the label has stood for quality, driven by an artist-centric, entrepreneurial spirit. I'm looking forward to carrying on that tradition by making Elektra a home for special artists with unique visions. Having spent my entire career in the Atlantic family, being given the opportunity to oversee one of its legendary labels is a dream come true".
Originally founded in 1950, Elektra was dormant for a number of years after being merged with Atlantic in 2004, before being relaunched in 2009.
Entertainment marketing agencies Frukt and Rogers & Cowan come together
And who doesn't like a bit of vertical leadership? I mean, I heard you saying the other day how much you like horizontal leadership, but you're an idiot. Personally I've only ever had anything to do with vertical leaders. They're the business.
The two agencies - which both now have bases in LA, New York and London - are already in common ownership, being part of Interpublic, one of the big four communication agency groups. Interpublic picked up Frukt via its Octagon Entertainment Group division in 2012.
By bringing the operations of the two agencies together, Interpublic is creating - and I quote - "a team of pop culture power brokers". Yep, those are words they actually used. But, I hear you ask, how does this team of pop culture power brokers spend their days?
Well, "working on behalf of brands and talent to provide access to the music, touring, film, television, video gaming, technology, fashion, digital content and location-based entertainment sectors, all supported by best-in-class services informed by strong research and analytics".
Oh yeah, don't forget the strong research and analytics. I forgot the strong research and analytics once and five people died. Though even the strong research and analytics is nothing compared to "the added connectivity and currency of representing more than 150 A-list artists, athletes, influencers and musicians".
"This is a culmination of a long-term vision to bring together and strengthen our collective pop culture brand and entertainment services", reckons the boss of the Octagon Sports And Entertainment Network, Rick Dudley. "Our new offices in Los Angeles and London, refreshed branding and updated websites reflect our investment in the people and culture of both brands, and our confidence in Mark and Rich to take the group to new heights".
Converge to release Jane Doe live album
No less than five different versions of the record are being pressed on vinyl, with the original album's artwork, created by frontman Jacob Bannon, reimagined by a different visual artist for each. Florian Bertmer, John Baizley, Randy Ortiz, Thomas Hooper and Ashley Rose Couture all contribute, each coupled with a different colour vinyl, which is nice. Buy them all.
Is it worth buying though? Is it? Well, is it? This performance of the title track should answer your question (also, the answer is obviously yes anyway).
Kelly Lee Owens announces debut album
The album features a tribute to Arthur Russell, titled 'Arthur', of whom she says: "He wrote music and stayed true to his vision up until the day he died. He didn't compromise as an artist, and those are the kind of people I look up to - people who know what they want".
Newly released from the album is 'Anxi', a collaboration with Jenny Hval (also better than you, bad luck). Owens says of working with Hval: "It has been my most freeing and open collaboration so far, and my first time working with a female. It was a very powerful experience for me, I felt she brought something strange and quite beautiful".
I bet you'd like to hear that, wouldn't you? Well it just so happens I have it right here.
Michael Buble pulls out as BRIT Awards host
An unnamed source told The Sun: "It was a difficult call but Michael has decided to pull out of hosting the BRIT Awards. Out of respect for Michael the producers gave him as much time as he needed to make the decision, which they completely understood. He would have put a unique stamp on the night so it's a real shame, but at the moment his priority is his family".
A number of people have apparently already pounced upon the opportunity and put themselves forward. Some are suggesting that organisers will bring back Ant & Dec for a third consecutive year. Maybe they could get Peter Kay back, remember what a resounding success that was last time?
Elsewhere in BRITs news, Robbie Williams has this morning been announced as one of this year's performers. This follows his stupid and entirely pointless BRITs Icon show last year.
"I'm delighted to be performing at the BRITs once again", says Williams. "It's always a special night for music - this year feels like a big one".
The ceremony will take place at the O2 Arena in London on 22 Feb.
Five After Midnight, Kobalt, Hanni El Khatib, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• 'X-Factor' third place runners-up Five After Midnight have signed to Syco. "It is very rare that a group can sing", comments Syco MD Tyler Brown. "They are energetic", nods Simon Cowell.
• Kobalt is to provide services and funding to country star Keith Urban's new publishing company Boom. "Boom", says Kobalt Nashville's Jesse Willoughby. "Kobalt", adds Urban. "Kobalt", smiles Kobalt president Richard Sanders.
• Hanni El Khatib has announced that he will release new album 'Savage Times' on 24 Feb. Here's a song from it, 'This I Know'.
• Dirty Projectors have announced that they will release new album, 'Dirty Projectors', on 24 Feb. From it, this is 'Up In Hudson'.
• Madonna: Not a fan of Donald Trump.
• Fiona Apple: Not a fan of Donald Trump.
• Coco Rose and Anohni: Not fans of Donald Trump.
Donald Trump definitely rejected "legendary group" from inauguration party for charging too much
Yeah, so, in a vague story definitely not leaked by Trump's team as an attempt to save face, TMZ reports that negotiations reached a reasonably advanced stage with a "legendary group" to perform at some inauguration event or other (they're not clear which). However, that band wanted more than $1 million to perform. And that was just too much. Every penny spent on talent for the show is a penny not donated to charity.
The Inauguration Committee has apparently received more than $90 million in donations to make sure Donald Trump is welcomed in the humble manner he desires. Whatever is left over at the end will be donated to a charity or charities unnamed. So really, asking for such a high fee makes the band look bad. However, even after Trump himself pleaded with them to drop their price, they refused and he told the committee to move on.
It is claimed that the group are in the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, so you can have a guess at who it might have been by casting your eye over the list here. I reckon it was Abba, for sure. Or maybe Beastie Boys. Green Day? Wait, it must be Guns N Roses. And you know they'd probably turn up late anyway. Oh, NWA were inducted last year, weren't they?
It's not Garth Brooks, if that's what you're thinking. He's not a group, nor is he in the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame. Legendary? Well, let's just leave it. All you need to know is that, despite speculation, he's not performing for Trump. And this week he explained why.
Although there were some discussions about him playing, Brooks told fans in a Facebook Live chat on Monday, he ultimately "left it up to karma", whatever that means. And then, would you bloody believe it, he ended up having a load of tour dates booked in Cincinnati starting this weekend making a trip to Washington tomorrow impractical.
Brooks answered the question because, during the video broadcast, his team informed him that around 75% of comments were related to the inauguration. And many of those weren't appeased by his explanation. Ah well. Closing off, Brooks said: "Can't thank you Obamas enough for serving this country, and may God hold Trump's hand in the decisions that he makes in this country's name".
One artist who will be performing for Trump is former Motown singer Chrisette Michele, who will reportedly play at the official inauguration party. However, she's apparently asked for this to be kept a "big secret", according to New York Daily News, due to fears of a backlash. These fears grew after Jennifer Holliday decided to pull out of the event following anger from her fanbase. So make sure you don't tell anyone about this. Even on the night if she does play.
Also performing for Trump are Audioslave, who are reuniting for an inauguration ball. I say "for" Trump, it's more against Trump, as they'll be playing Prophets Of Rage's Anti-Inaugural Ball in LA tomorrow night.
The band formed in 2002 by Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell have not performed together for eleven years. Also on the bill will be the more recent post-RATM band Prophets Of Rage, plus Vic Mensa, Jackson Browne, Jack Black and the Los Angeles Freedom Choir.
"The Anti-Inaugural Ball is a celebration of resistance", said Morello in a statement announcing the show. "Resistance to racism. Resistance to sexism. Resistance to homophobia. Resistance to bullying. Resistance to environmental devastation. Resistance to fascism. Resistance to Donald Trump. We are staring down the barrel of a dystopian nightmare unless we act now, unless we fight back now".