|WEDNESDAY 8 FEBRUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: All four of the co-creators of 'This Is Spinal Tap' are now suing Vivendi. They allege that the Universal Music owner has failed to properly report on revenues generated by the cult movie, its soundtrack and related merchandise, and has underpaid royalties due to the co-creators via their agreement with the film's original producer Embassy Pictures... [READ MORE]|
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Spinal Tap co-creators join Harry Shearer's $400 million Vivendi lawsuit
As previously reported, one of the four men behind 'This Is Spinal Tap', Harry Shearer, went legal last October. His lawsuit primarily targets Paris-based Vivendi's movie business StudioCanal, which acquired the rights in the 1984 film five years after its release. Though Universal Music also controls the soundtrack and the legal filing alleges that "accounting between the Vivendi subsidiaries is not at arms-length, is anti-competitive and deprives the 'TIST' creators of a fair reward for their services".
This morning it was announced that Shearer's collaborators on 'Spinal Tap' - Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner - were all joining the litigation, alongside their joint venture business Spinal Tap Productions. Guest, McKean and Shearer all starred in the spoof rockumentary as members of the Spinal Tap band - respectively playing guitarist Nigel Tufnel, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist David St Hubbins and bassist Derek Smalls - while Reiner directed the film and appeared as its narrator.
When announcing the lawsuit last October, reps for Shearer alleged that Vivendi, which had "generated millions of dollars" from 'This Is Spinal Tap' over the years, had "wilfully manipulated certain accounting data, while ignoring contractually-obligated accounting and reporting processes, to deny Shearer and his fellow co-creators their rightful stake in the production's profits".
Shearer's lawsuit claimed that - despite the millions generated by the movie, its soundtrack and an assortment of merch as the film franchise gained its cult status - the entertainment conglom "asserts that the four creators' share of total worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was $81. Between 1989 and 2006, total income from soundtrack music sales was reported by Vivendi as $98". This despite the four co-creators' deal with Embassy that collectively gave them 40% of 'Spinal Tap' profits.
Confirming that he was joining Shearer's legal action against Vivendi, Guest said this morning: "The deliberate obfuscation by Vivendi and its subsidiaries is an outrage. It is vital that such behaviour is challenged in the strongest way possible".
Meanwhile Reiner added: "Fair reward for artistic endeavour has long been raised by those on the wrong end of the equation. What makes this case so egregious is the prolonged and deliberate concealment of profit and the purposeful manipulation of revenue allocation between various Vivendi subsidiaries - to the detriment of the creative talent behind the band and film. Such anti-competitive practices need to be exposed".
Meanwhile, McKean stated: "'This Is Spinal Tap' was the result of four very stubborn guys working very hard to create something new under the sun. The movie's influence on the last three decades of film comedy is something we are very proud of. But the buck always stopped somewhere short of Rob, Harry, Chris and myself. It's time for a reckoning. It's only right".
Welcoming his co-creators' decision to back his litigation, Shearer concluded: "Their participation will help demonstrate the opaque and misleading conduct at the heart of this case. We're even louder now".
Shearer's original lawsuit had been seeking $125 million in compensatory and punitive damages, but with all four 'Spinal Tap' men now on board the damages sought have risen to a slightly mind-boggling $400 million.
Dr Luke says it's Kesha who owes him royalties, claims $1.3 million due
As much previously reported, Kesha Sebert and Lukasz Gottwald have been embroiled in a complicated and multi-layered legal dispute for some time now. At the heart of the case are Sebert's allegations that Gottwald subjected her to abuse, including rape, while he says that she made up those claims in a bid to force his hand in a contract dispute.
Both sides in the legal battle sought to expand their formal complaints last week, and among Sebert's new allegations were claims that Gottwald has been withholding royalties she is due from her recordings. Sebert has contracts with various Gottwald-led businesses, while her music is released by his label venture with Sony Music, Kemosabe Records.
In their latest filing, Sebert's attorneys wrote last week that: "It was not until Kesha's counsel recently threatened further legal action that Dr Luke released certain funds owed to Kesha in December 2016, two years after they were due. Still, he has not paid her all of the amounts owed".
The court submission also alleged that: "Dr Luke has similarly worked to deprive Kesha of royalties from 'Timber', the multi-million unit hit that she recorded and co-wrote with Pitbull. Until the issue was raised with the court, Kesha had received none of the recording royalties or publishing royalties on 'Timber' she was owed".
Not so, responds a counter claim by Gottwald's legal team. The producer's companies are up to date on paying Sebert her royalties, they say. Meanwhile, they allege, the singer owes their client over $1.3 million because his deals with Sebert provide him with a cut of her endorsement and live income.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gottwald's lawyers wrote in a submission to the court on Monday: "Plaintiffs have paid Kesha her royalties for all relevant accounting periods, while Kesha baselessly refuses to pay plaintiffs the much larger sums she owes them. In December 2016 alone, defendant received payments under her contracts with plaintiffs in excess of $650,000. In sharp contrast, defendant admits that she owes plaintiff KMI over $1.3 million in ancillary royalties that she has failed to pay".
In addition to providing figures for the monies allegedly paid to and owed by Sebert, Gottwald's legal team have also provided the court with the singer's agreement with the producer's Kasz Money company, which outlines his cuts on her income beyond recordings. It says that Gottwald gets 10% of net receipts from the commercial exploitation of Sebert's name and likeness, and 10% of net or 5% of gross tour receipts, whichever is higher. All of which provides the $1.3 million figure.
Gottwald's latest legal filing disputes other allegations made in the papers submitted by Sebert's attorneys last week. It also returns to a common complaint made by the producer's lawyers, that the other side in this dispute is fighting the battle as much in the press as the courts, to garner their client public sympathy and further tarnish Gottwald's reputation in the music industry.
The new court filing says that the most recent claims from Sebert's reps were "yet another example of Kesha and her counsel's attempt to litigate her dispute with plaintiffs in the press. It was obviously designed to garner sympathetic headlines for defendant, and further tarnish plaintiffs, based upon false assertions and blatant mischaracterisations".
More web-blocks could be incoming in Ireland
As previously reported, although efforts by the music and movie industries to force ISPs to block their customers from accessing piracy sites have not been quite so prolific in Ireland as they have here in the UK, the Irish labels did secure an injunction instigating a Pirate Bay blockade back in 2013. Another injunction forcing a web-block against KickassTorrents came the following year.
According to RTE, reps for the Motion Picture Association this week told the Commercial Court in Dublin that the three newly targeted websites were involved in the copyright infringement of movie and TV content on an enormous scale. The MPA's lawyers say that research commissioned by the trade body found that, during October alone, there were 1.26 million visits from Irish IP addresses to Primewire, while Watchseries got 1.9 million and Movie4k 200,000.
Web-blocking has become a preferred anti-piracy tactic of the music and movie industries in those countries where local copyright law allows such injunctions, even though it is usually relatively easy to circumvent the blockades via a simple Google search. The latest web-block case in Ireland will return to court on 28 Feb.
Live Nation buys into Israeli concert business, launches Ticketmaster Israel
Bluestone is a relatively young company, having been founded in 2014 with the intent of promoting shows from international acts in Israel. Amongst its partners is Israel-born Guy Oseary, the veteran artist manager whose management firm Maverick is also part of the Live Nation empire.
Confirming the deal, Live Nation's President of International & Emerging Markets, Alan Ridgeway, said: "We have seen a considerable demand for live entertainment with the shows that Live Nation has brought to this market over the last few years and have been very impressed when working with Guy, Shay and the rest of the Bluestone team. Formalising our partnership and bringing the Ticketmaster brand and technology to the market was the natural next step".
The Guy he mentioned there isn't Oseary, but Guy Beser, another partner in the Bluestone business alongside Shay Mor Yosef and Gadi Veinrib. Confirming the deal from their side, Beser and Mor Yosef said in a joint statement: "We see a huge potential for international artists in Israel, especially as the venue infrastructure improves over the coming years. The strength of Live Nation and Ticketmaster will provide Bluestone with the tools and the platform to further develop the market for international shows in Israel".
New paperless ticketing service Tixserve launches
Founders Patrick Kirby and Simon Goodale have previously worked for a number of companies providing digital transaction solutions, including Payzone. They now reckon they've cracked paperless ticketing, offering a white label platform through which ticket sellers can choose security levels, based on risk and show size, and also upsell other items to ticket buyers.
Addressing the various potential problems of smartphone-based tickets, they also say that their system can cope with ticket buyers running out of battery, having no signal, or losing their phone entirely.
"Tixserve is a better way of doing paperless ticketing", says Kirby. "Unlike current offerings in this space, our solution doesn't involve costly and slow blanket photo ID and credit card checks at the event venue. This means the system is simple and inexpensive for venues, and customers are able to get through the gates quickly - all without sacrificing cast iron security measures that will stop bots, duplicators and fraudsters in their tracks".
He adds: "We look forward to working with those in the music business who want to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the live industry while at the same time improving the experience of music fans".
Mark Lanegan announces new album
"I definitely feel like I'm a better songwriting than I was fifteen years ago", says Lanegan. "I don't know if I'm just kidding myself or what, but it's definitely easier now to make something that is satisfying to me".
"Maybe I'm just easier on myself these days", he continues. "But it's definitely not as painful a process, and therefore I feel I'm better at it now. But part of the way that I stay interested in making music is by collaborating with other people. When I see things through somebody else's perspective it's more exciting than if I'm left to my own devices".
"Y'know, I haven't played this record for too many people yet", he adds. "I played it for Greg Dulli, who played on some of it, and he was like, 'Wow, I had to listen to it twice - it sounds like he's having a good time'".
So there you go. Lanegan will play some UK shows in June, the dates of which are these:
19 Jun: Birmingham, Library
Ronnie James Dio hologram to tour
The hologram (here's me pointing out that it's not actually a hologram but video projected on angled glass) version of Dio made its debut performance at Germany's Wacken Open Air festival in August last year, and last week appeared that the Pollstar Awards in LA, both times performing 'We Rock'.
Announcing plans for a full-scale live show, CEO of Eyellusion, the company behind the hologram, Jeff Pezzuti said: "We were THRILLED to give this [Pollstar Awards] audience just a taste of the experience that we will start to tour globally later this year. This 'We Rock' performance is now being retired and production is underway on a full show. We are pulling out all the stops to create a live experience that is unlike anything Ronnie's fans have seen before".
If you want to see something unlike anything you've ever seen before when the planned tour rolls into town, you'd best not watch this video of the Pollstar Awards performance.
Cribs announce Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever anniversary shows
"When writing an album, you (not so) secretly hope that ten years down the line people will still care about it, still listen to it and get something out of it whatever that may be", say the band. "And so, ultimately we just feel really lucky and honoured to be in a position where this 'conundrum' of looking back versus moving forward is even a consideration".
They add: "In short, this isn't The Cribs indulging ourselves and reliving the past - it's more just a big THANK YOU to all of you that have been with us throughout the years, and a 'welcome aboard' to those who missed it the first time around".
That's a little indulgent though, isn't it? That's fine, don't worry about it. Here are the dates:
11 May: Glasgow, ABC
Tickets go on sale on Friday morning at 9am. Here's the video for 'Men's Needs' to remind you what you're buying them for.
Naughty Boy, Warner Chappell, Universal Music, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Downtown Music Publishing has signed a global deal with that Naughty Boy chap, which will see it work with both the producer's own oeuvre and the catalogue of his publishing company Naughty Words. Did we mention that Downtown opened a Tokyo office earlier this week? Well even if we didn't, it did.
• Warner/Chappell Production Music in the US has promoted Aaron Grant to the job of SVP Production. He's "excited".
• Rochelle Holguin is now VP of Creative Strategy at Universal Music Publishing in the US. It's a new role established as "part of UMPG's global strategy to accelerate the company's focus on creative development and strategic marketing for artists, songwriters and song catalogue", don't you know.
• Warner Bros Records in the US has a new VP of Communications And Media in the form of Bobbie Gale, who has previously done music PR both in agency and in-house at labels.
• US collecting society ASCAP has announced it will be working with CML Consultancy Services on its "Asia-Pacific strategy" as it seeks "revenue growth opportunities". CML is headed by Miew Lan Chan, who was previously GM at the Music Authors' Copyright Protection collecting society in Malaysia
• Warner Music's Executive Counsel, Business Affairs, Strategic And Digital Initiatives guy Ron Wilcox has been appointed to the board of directors at US collecting society SoundExchange. "We work", says Wilcox. "I know Ron", adds SoundExhange CEO Michael Huppe.
• The French music export office's London unit has announced the launch of a new industry-facing website under the Oui Love brand, which it has previously used for an annual tour of French artists in the UK. Bureau Export will also be working with The Line Of Best Fit on more regular Oui Love live nights in London.
• AlunaGeorge have released the video for 'Not About Love'.
• Ama Lou has released a new single, 'Said It Already'.
• Having returned last week with the first single from her debut album, Tei Shi has announced that she will play the Moth Club in London on 1 Mar.
Elton John is constantly asking Ed Sheeran to sit on his face
Sheeran - who is signed to John's management company Rocket Music - revealed all this in a game of 'Would You Rather' put together by music TV channel BeBox. Asked if he would rather have the face of Taylor Swift or Elton John tattooed on his bum, he replied: "I reckon Elton's face, cos he's always asking me to sit on it".
"He fucking does", added Sheeran incredulously upon the room breaking into laughter. "I'm not even joking!"
How do you know when Ed Sheeran is or isn't joking though? Well, asked if he'd rather live in a world made out of Lego or be made out of Lego, he said: "You would be constantly hard if you were made out of Lego".
While that may be a proper punchline, this whole endeavour shows us that Ed Sheeran is rude. Don't sully yourself by watching this video in full here.