|WEDNESDAY 15 MARCH 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: French entertainment retailer Fnac has announced a "strategic alliance" with streaming service Deezer, which is good news for everybody. Well, it just reminded you all that Deezer still exists, so that's good news, right? And who doesn't like some good news? [READ MORE]|
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French retailer Fnac announces strategic alliance with Deezer
Under the deal, Fnac is expected to wind down its own digital music offering and instead promote Deezer to its customers, and to customers of the consumer electronics chain Darty, which it acquired last year. Deezer, meanwhile, will promote Fnac's ticketing service to its users, and the two companies will work together on promotional events in France.
At one point French firm Deezer was seen as the main competitor to Spotify in the on-demand streaming market, certainly in Europe. But in more recent years, of course, Spotify has grown to be much bigger in terms of its userbase, while Apple Music quickly outgrew Deezer to become the second main player in paid-for streaming. Meanwhile the Deezer company endured the embarrassment of having to abandon a premature IPO halfway through the process, but only after revealing specifics about its user numbers.
Nevertheless, Deezer is probably still among the top five paid-for streaming services, and remains a significant player in the French market in particular. Its main backer these days is Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik. The Fnac deal doesn't include any equity, though the retail group - 15% of which was bought by Universal Music owner Vivendi last year - says it may take an equity position in the streaming firm down the line.
Confirming the strategic alliance, Fnac Darty CEO Alexandre Bompard said yesterday: "We are proud to announce this ambitious agreement, which marks a strategic landmark for Fnac. Deezer is the ideal partner in the field of digital music distribution. Together, we have worked to ensure that this partnership will be beneficial for our customers and will drive growth for both companies".
Meanwhile Deezer's CEO in France, Alexis de Gémini, said: "This partnership is excellent news for Deezer and Fnac, for market players, and for music fans everywhere. We are delighted, as the number one streaming service in France, to combine our music expertise and technology with the market leader for the distribution of cultural and technical products. This coming together of the physical and digital worlds can only be beneficial for both companies and the end consumers".
Sony/ATV responds to McCartney reversion right lawsuit
As much previously reported, under US law songwriters who assign their copyrights to a music publisher have a right to terminate that assignment deal after 35 years (or 56 years if the assignment deal was done before 1978). Because this termination or reversion right came about in the late 1970s it is only really just kicking in, which means various technicalities are still being considered.
One big question is whether the reversion right applies to non-US songwriters who assigned their copyrights to non-US publishers - can those songwriters still reclaim the US rights in their songs under American copyright law? The songwriting community generally hoped that they could, but in a test case last year, a UK court ruled that Duran Duran didn't have a reversion right under their English publishing contract.
Exercising the termination right requires the songwriter to go through a somewhat tedious bureaucratic process, and McCartney began that procedure in relation to his half of the Lennon/McCartney songs repertoire, which is owned by Sony/ATV, some time ago. Since being put on notice, the publisher hasn't as yet said that it will attempt to block the former Beatle's efforts to reclaim his rights.
However, McCartney's reps say, nor has it confirmed that it won't seek to block termination by citing the terms of his original English publishing contract, and they worry Sony/ATV is procrastinating so that it can see the outcome of the Duran Duran case, which also involves a Sony/ATV subsidiary called Gloucester Place Music. McCartney wants clarification that the publisher will ultimately allow his termination claim to go through unopposed.
This isn't a matter for the courts, says Sony/ATV in a new filing, because there isn't actually a dispute for the court to currently consider. In fact the dispute is about whether or not there's a dispute. "As an initial matter, Sony/ATV has made no statement challenging the validity of plaintiff's termination notices", says the publisher in its letter to the court, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"Indeed, it has acknowledged they are valid", it goes on. "So there is no controversy regarding this issue. Nor has Sony/ATV claimed that plaintiff's service of the notices breached any agreement and Sony/ATV may never make such a claim. The complaint thus impermissibly seeks an advisory opinion on a hypothetical claim that depends on both the outcome of Gloucester and contingent future actions that may never occur".
Therefore, Sony/ATV argues, the court should dismiss McCartney's lawsuit without prejudice, meaning he could always return to court at a later date should the publisher decide it does actually want to fight his claim to a reversion right. "A dismissal without prejudice now would spare this court the need to issue a decision that may be unnecessary pending the outcome of Gloucester", it wrote. "While assuring that, if and when a claim is ever ripe, UK law will have been settled".
Because, Sony/ATV is basically saying, this is ultimately a matter of UK law, and therefore a US court would want the relevant precedent-setting case to be settled in an English court before making any decision on a dispute that hasn't happened yet, but might, though the publisher isn't currently saying it will. Fun this, isn't it?
"Here, plaintiff is a UK citizen and the grants were negotiated and entered into in the UK with UK companies with respect to songs presumably written in the UK in return for payment in the UK", the Sony papers go on. "This court would therefore presumably look to the Gloucester case, which is unsettled as it is currently being appealed".
It has to be said, all this does seem to back up Team McCartney's concerns that the major publisher might change its tune on his reversion rights should it ultimately prevail in the Duran Duran case over here. Though you can't dispute that this dispute is currently about a dispute that hasn't happened yet - but can you dispute that this dispute about a dispute that hasn't happened yet isn't valid, given the outcome of the other dispute may well lead to the dispute that hasn't happened yet happening? Yeah, dispute that if you can.
Deadmau5 sued over the name of his (live)cat
The dance music peddler, real name Joel Zimmerman, is being sued after he attempted to block a trademark application by a company that shares a name with his cat. Almost. The company is called Meowingtons and the cat Professor Meowingtons.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Zimmeran was unsuccessful when he tried to trademark the name of his cat, which he adopted in 2010 and which now enjoys quite the profile among his fanbase, with its own Instagram account. With that in mind, when a company selling cat-themed nonsense also called Meowingtons tried to trademark its name, the producer filed an objection.
While attempting to block the Meowingtons trademark, Zimmerman seemingly claimed that the company's founder, Emma Bassiri, was a long-time Deadmau5 fan and was therefore aware of his celebrity cat.
Not so says Bassiri, who is now accusing Zimmerman of damaging her reputation and business with his claims to the Meowingtons name, and who has gone legal as a result. Said a spokesperson for the cat tat seller: "The act of naming your pet animal is not protected by the trademark laws of any country of which I am aware".
They went on: "The mouse [they mean 'the mau5'] is clearly the copycat in this case, and our legal team is confident that Ms Bassiri, a creative and hardworking entrepreneur who has built a successful online retailing business - Meowingtons.com - inspired by her love of cats, will prevail as the rightful and sole owner of the mark 'Meowingtons'".
But Zimmerman plans to fight back, his lawyer Dina LaPolt has confirmed, telling The Hollywood Reporter: "Deadmau5 has been extremely generous and attempted to resolve this matter amicably. However, as demonstrated by their legal action, they have no intention to address and remedy their intentional infringement and now attempt to extort and deprive our client of his rights and we will take all available measures to protect and enforce his rights".
Meanwhile the producer himself also insists that he attempted to reach an agreement with Bassiri, but he adds that - now that she has gone legal - he is ready for a fight. "From the very beginning I was working to find a way to resolve this situation amicably", he said. "Now I am forced to litigate this woman out of existence. Bye bye Emma Bassiri. I am going to protect the trademark I have been using since 2011".
Professor Meowingtons was unavailable for comment.
US border control says performance visas required even for free shows
As previously reported, most of the problems seem to centre on ambiguities over whether or not artists who are performing without payment at a showcase festival still need a performance visa - aka the P-1 visa - or whether they can enter the country on a visitor visa or via the visa waiver programme ESTA.
Visitor visas and the ESTA programme do not apply when an individual is earning money while in the US, but the affected artists argue that they are not earning any money by playing SXSW, while some have also pointed out that they have travelled to the festival - or similar showcase events - on visitor visas before without any issues.
Massive Scar Era member Cherine Amr told Billboard her band had played SXSW two times previously on a visitor visa and that she explained this to a border official. "He said that he knows that I've done everything legally, and that I'm not lying, but he's still not going to let me in", she recalled.
"He said that people are using the festival to protest, but I told him we are not going there to protest", Amr continued. "We have no intentions of doing anything illegal or engaging in any political activity. We're just going to promote ourselves, meet labels and bookers and network".
The ambiguities around what visas are required for unpaid promotional performances in the US are nothing new, though it is possible that more artists are being caught out because of increased scrutiny at the American border in light of Donald Trump's crackdown on immigration. Artists with links to the countries targeted by the President's controversial travel ban may also be more likely to be subject to that increased scrutiny. Meanwhile, with Trump's immigration stance such a big talking point, artists having problems at the border are all the more newsworthy.
At least two people who advise the entertainment industry on visas have, in recent weeks, stressed that they always tell clients to secure a performance visa whenever they are performing in the US, even if they are not being paid to perform. Meanwhile a spokesperson for US Customs And Border Protection told Billboard: "If an individual is a member of an internationally recognised entertainment group, they must apply for and be granted a P-1 visa".
South By Southwest guidelines encourage artists to apply for a performance visa even when they are not being paid to play, noting that while acts coming to the US from places like the UK and Canada often can enter on a visitor visa when they are only playing showcases at the festival without payment, entry is not guaranteed.
Two dead after 400,000 attend El Indio Solari show in Argentina
The former frontman of 70s rock band Patricio Rey Y Los Redonditos De Recota is immensely popular in Argentina. His live performances are infrequent and are promoted via word of mouth, as was the case for Saturday's show in Olavarría. Rumours that the performance may be his last, due to a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, helped fuel interest. As a result, audience numbers were double that 200,000 that had been expected to attend, resulting in a number of crowd control and other logistical issues.
Surges near the front of the audience caused many to faint, with a number of people hospitalised and two deaths. Solari reportedly stopped his performance several times to try to alleviate the crush, though problems seemingly persisted. Meanwhile, the failure of mobile phone networks under the strain of so many people being in one place meant that friends and family were unable to contact those who had been hospitalised. Their whereabouts was subsequently provided by Solari's Twitter account the following morning.
According to Billboard, police have now searched the offices of promoter En Vivo, looking for evidence about the number of tickets sold. It has also been reported that there was minimal security at the event, meaning it was easy for fans to gain entry without a ticket.
Solari was also questioned, but has now left Olavarría.
Ty Segall would rather give you his music for free than have you listen to it on Spotify
"With Spotify and all those streaming services you don't get paid anything", he tells Esquire, slightly misleadingly (you definitely get paid something). "You have to be like Madonna or something to actually make a real royalty from that. You make better royalties off YouTube than Spotify. Apple Music is the same".
That YouTube pays better royalties than Spotify or Apple Music certainly isn't the official line of the YouTube-dissing music industry, nor any artist accountants I've ever spoken to. But, hey, I haven't got Ty Segall's royalty statements to look at, so who knows? And I suppose you'll definitely make better royalties from YouTube than Spotify if you don't put the record on Spotify.
He continues: "The truth of the matter is I [wouldn't] have [a] problem with any of those things if they paid better ... but they don't, they totally rip off artists. So I don't want to be a part of it. But YouTube and all that stuff, free music - totally cool, go for it. I'd rather have the music [be] free than get ripped off by Spotify, personally".
"It's just funny to me I've heard people say, 'I don't have the money to buy your album, man. Why isn't it on Spotify?'" he adds. "And I want to just be like, 'Here's the album for free, dude. I don't know'".
Ty Segall also released an album called 'Ty Segall' back in 2008, which is on Spotify. As are a lot of his other albums. But whatever you do, don't listen to any of them on there.
Radiophonic Workshop to release first album for 32 years
Originally founded by Desmond Briscoe and Daphne Oram at the BBC in the late 1950s, the electronic music pioneers are best known for creating the 'Doctor Who' theme tune. Following a reunion in 2009, original members Peter Howell, Roger Limb, Dr Dick Mills and Paddy Kingsland have been working together again on live performances. The new album marks their first commercially available new material since 1985.
"The improvisation was done blind with no preconceptions nor any real start point", say the group of the record. "We wanted to see what happened if we allowed people to react together with their machines in a very unplanned and spontaneous way. The computers and sequencers were switched off and it led to a very human interaction between all of us. It is important that we maintained this feeling of spontaneity on the final discs - so minimal editing has taken place. What you hear is what happened in the moment".
Of the connection to 'New Atlantis', they add: "In 1957, Daphne Oram, one of the founders of the workshop, took a section of the novel and framed it as a sort of manifesto for the workshop and its role as an avant garde and experimental electronic space for BBC radio and television productions".
They go on: "Manipulating sound was a relatively new practice then and our use of early electronics and tape effects was seen as futuristic and somewhat challenging. The section on the wall of Room 13 was there to remind us that when producers complained or people wrote to the Radio Times saying the music was unlistenable that we were trying to design future sounds - it was an experimental space. The section was chosen to be morale booster you might say".
The group are set to perform at the Convergence festival later this month, and at the Blue Dot festival in July.
DJ Shadow announced Endtroducing 20th anniversary shows
The short tour will coincide with the release of a 20th anniversary repackaging of the producer's 'Endtroducing' album. The release will include the original album, plus the 'Excessive Ephemera' bonus disc of demos, remixes, alternate and live versions included in the 2005 deluxe edition, plus a second bonus disc of new remixes by Hudson Mohawke, Clams Casino, Salva, Prince Paul, Karma Kid among others.
Tickets for the shows go on sale this Friday, and the dates are:
3 Oct: Glasgow, ABC
UK Music, Feist, GIT Award, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• UK Music is calling on musicians, songwriters, composers, producers, engineers and managers to fill out a survey for its annual 'Measuring Music' report. It's a whole lot of fun, prizes to be won.
• Jackson Wong has been appointed as Managing Director of Warner Music China. He joins from film company Oriental DreamWorks. "I'm pleased", says WMG's Asia President Simon Robson. "This is an exciting time", adds Wong.
• The Orchard has promoted Cat Kreidich to SVP Global Account Management. "We are THRILLED to have her taking on this expanded role", says COO Colleen Theis.
• Hey, Feist is going to release a new album. It's been a while, huh? It's called 'Pleasure' and it's out on 28 Apr.
• Luke Vibert has announced a new album, 'Luke Vibert Presents UK Garave Vol 1', which he describes as "an ode to the era of M25 convoys, mobile phone hotlines and raving amongst dogs on strings in British aerodrome fields". It's out on 5 May.
• Tom Robinson will play a show at the 100 Club in London on 24 Oct to mark the 40th anniversary of his 1977 debut single '2-4-6-8 Motorway'.
• Carl Barât & The Jackals have announced a brief club tour in May and June, finishing up at Camden Rocks on 3 Jun.
• Little Dragon will headline the Roundhouse on 27 Oct. So now you know.
• The nominees for the 2017 GIT Award have been announced, championing the best in new music from Liverpool. On the list this year are: Aystar, Baltic Fleet, Louis Berry, The Coral, God Colony, Immix Ensemble, Ohmns, Or:la, She Drew The Gun, Suedebrown, XamVolo and The Vryll Society.
Survey suggests Irish politicians favour Beyonce
But that is the opposite of what we should be doing right now. This is the time to connect with our political representatives. Which is why it is commendable that The Daily Edge's Amy O'Connor last week wrote to every single member of the Irish parliament to ask if they like Beyonce and what their favourite song of hers is.
"Last week, I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when it occurred to me that I didn't know what any of our politicians thought of Beyonce", writes O'Connor. "Do they like her? Do they know who she is? Do they engage with her music? Do they own 'I CAME TO SLAY' merchandise? Politicians were getting away with keeping their views on Beyonce to themselves and it was up to me to get to the bottom of it".
So, she drafted a simple questionnaire to send to all 158 of Ireland's Teachtaí Dálas (which is Irish for 'MPs').
1. Do you like Beyonce?
In all, 37 TDs responded to the survey. Not sure what the other 121 were doing, but of those who replied, a majority claimed to like the former Destiny's Child leader. Some even displayed knowledge beyond a panicked Google search. Some even claimed some affinity with her.
"Like most people I'm a huge fan of Queen B, to paraphrase Kanye she's' 'one of the best of all time'", wrote Fianna Fáil's Declan Breathnach, for example. "After a long day in the Dáil, putting my feet up and treating myself to some old school Destiny's Child is one of my favourite ways to unwind. 'Survivor' would have to be my favourite song of hers, what an anthem! It almost describes the life of a politician 'I'm not gon stop, I'm gon work harder, I'm a survivor'".
You should try reading that again while looking a picture of Declan Breathnach. It really adds something.
Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams said that he could not respond due to "time constraints". And yet he has time to tweet about Christmas cake. Although, I guess given that it's March that does suggest he has something of an admin backlog.
You can read all the responses here and wonder when British politicians might stop focussing on this daft Brexit thing and concentrate on more important things like this.