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ALLMAN BROTHERS AND CHEAP TRICK POSSIBLY HAVE SEPARATE DIGITAL DEALS TO SONY'S PROPOSED CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT
As much previously reported, many veteran artists with pre-iTunes record contracts reckon downloads should be treated as licensing rather than record sales income, which is an important distinction because under many record contracts the labels pay a significant bigger artist royalty on licensing money that record sales revenue.
Sony were sued first on this issue by a coalition of artists led by the Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick. Their lawsuit was initially dismissed by the courts, but readmitted in 2009, and secret negotiations have been going on ever since. In the meantime Eminem collaborators FBT Productions won a similar legal battle with Universal over the royalties they are due on Slim Shady's early recordings.
Last week it emerged that Sony had now reached a settlement with the Allman Brothers et al, but as the lawsuit was a class action - and therefore if the case was won in court any artists with similar record contracts could claim damages and new royalty arrangements - that agreement must be approved by the courts. A filing with said courts reveals that Sony will set aside a one off sum of $7.95 million to settle with affected artists, and then pay them a 3% bigger cut on subsequent download sales.
If approved by the courts, any artist that falls within the 'class' - which is seemingly anyone who signed to Epic, Columbia or Arista Records in the US between 1976 and 2001 - would be entitled to a share of the one-off settlement and the 3% increase in royalties, but if they felt they were due more would have to opt out of the settlement and launch their own legal proceedings on the matter.
Sony's offer is nominal compared to what many think heritage artists could demand from digital revenue, and of the $7.95 million, $2.6 million will go to the lawyers who negotiated the settlement, and $5 million will be split pro-rata among only those artists who sold more than 28,500 downloads between 2001 and 2010. The rest will get a share of just $300,000. Nevertheless, many veteran artists might be persuaded to take this zero-effort offer now, rather than opting out and having to go to the hassle and risk of pursuing their own legal claim.
Interestingly, the deal on the table is considerably less generous than what the original plaintiffs, the Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick, were thought to be pushing for. And yet there were rumours just before Sony filed its class action settlement proposals with the courts that reps for both bands were very happy indeed, but NDAed to the eyeballs. And, according to Digital Music News, that's because those two acts have negotiated their own separate and totally confidential deals on digital monies apart from the class action agreement.
Which, if true, might cause some of the other veteran artists being offered this new class settlement to wonder if they should push for their own deals, rather than accepting Sony's current terms, which are definitely favourable to the major, even if it does mean the music firm, unlike its competitors, is now conceding that its heritage artists are due a bigger cut of the digital pie than they have been paid so far.
Quite what artists choose to do may depend on how an upcoming court hearing on the aforementioned FBT v Universal case, to ascertain what the latter should now pay the former, is decided.
Meanwhile, US music industry lawyer Steve Gordon has given his take on the proposed Sony settlement to Digital Music News here: www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120314lawyers
BILLBOARD TO INCLUDE STREAMING STATS IN HOT 100
Anyway, Billboard has confirmed it will now add streaming service stats into its main songs chart, which already takes radio airplay into account as well as record sales (so like Kid Jenson's Network Chart sponsored by Nescafe does over here - or whatever that chart's called these days, the Capital Radio Shit Chart?). Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, Slacker, Muve and MOG will all provide listening stats for the revamped Billboard Hot 100, while talks are also underway with Google about somehow putting YouTube figures into the mix.
Says Billboard's big bod Bill Werde: "It's so important that we are vigilant in recognising a changing marketplace almost constantly these days. When you look at these streaming subscription services, even in the last year, you really see how they have come of age and I just think the time is now to do this".
Billboard insiders have been reviewing what the new data would have done to recent charts, and it seems there won't be any radical change to the tracks that appear in the countdown by including streaming data into the mix, though some songs might move up or down a few places as a result.
Dance music could be the biggest winner, as a genre that's gained a substantial following in the US of late, but which gets relatively little radio play and whose fans don't buy music so much via chart returning download stores. Dubstep isn't going to suddenly dominate the top ten, but might be more likely to make it into the lower echelons of the chart than they previously would.
Though that just means more exposure for Skrillex. Perhaps Billboard could go back to just counting the sales of vinyl records.
ONE DIRECTION COULD MAKE US CHART HISTORY NEXT WEEK
In fact, next week 1D might just do better than Coldplay, Radiohead, Spice Girls, Depeche Mode, Queen, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles by becoming the first British group ever to have their debut album debut at number one in the American albums chart.
So that's exciting isn't it? Well, it is for them, their mothers, Simon Cowell, Simon Cowell's mother, Sony shareholders and Steve Brookstein, who famously loves to see all fellow 'X-Factor' finalists achieving global fame and fortunes courtesy of old Si, because he never really wanted any of that for himself anyway.
However, don't crack open the champagne just yet Steve, because there is one person on this planet who could stop 1D from entering the American albums chart for the first time at number one. And that person is Ms Adele (currently in second place sales wise) who could, just for kicks, desecrate the dreams, the hopes, the ambitions, and possibly the very reason for being for poor old Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis by reclaiming the number one spot in the Billboard charts for the 24th bloody time.
Imagine if she did that and it caused the 1D boys to participate in a gruesome suicide pact. Now surely that would provide enough inspiration for Adele to get writing her third long player?
BOARDS OF CANADA WORKING ON NEW MATERIAL
And when might we hear this new material? Well, that's less definitive. A rep for their label Warp told Pitchfork: "They are definitely working on new material, but there is nothing on the cards at the moment in terms of a scheduled release".
The duo's last album, 'Trans Canada Highway', was released in 2006.
ST VINCENT RELEASING RSD SEVEN-INCH, DELUXE ALBUM EDITION
Speaking of 'Strange Mercy' - itself somewhat of a "stylistic departure" from her earlier work - Clark will release 'Stranger Mercy', a deluxe version of the long player, on 8 May. As per 'deluxe reissue' specifications, it not only includes the original long player, but also a DVD featuring the four-part live session St Vincent did for 4AD late last year.
And if you haven't yet seen that, I urge you to do so now:
PAUL THOMAS SAUNDERS DETAILS NEW EP
The Trail Remains Unseen
His forthcoming live appearances consist of festival slots at Manchester's Sounds From The Other City and Yorkshire's Deer Shed.
STAY+ ANNOUNCE AV EP
Available in both a digital and vinyl format, the twelve-inch edition is designed by Kanye West and Björk collaborators M/M Paris, and includes a silk screen printed QR code poster, plus a web link to download the standard edition and multiple audio extras.
Preview Daniel O'Sullivan's contribution to EP track 'Guardian', which is out as a single on 11 Mar, here: soundcloud.com/ramprecordings/stay-guardian
ROLLING STONES TO RELEASE 50TH ANNIVERSARY DOCUMENTARY
Actually, last year there was a glimmer of hope of some activity (for people who hope for these things), when Keith Richards told The Observer that he and most of his bandmates were rehearsing for the first time since 2008. Mick Jagger was not involved in those rehearsals though, and has reportedly remained hesitant about performing with the band ever since, which possibly explains why Richards told Rolling Stone magazine this week that they are "just not ready" to perform again in public. He added that a 2013 tour is a "more realistic" proposition.
Though an 'industry source' told Rolling Stone: "They don't want to do a full tour. They don't want to travel, and there are concerns about Keith's health".
But there will be 50th anniversary celebrations nonetheless. A book of photographs will be published by Thames & Hudson on 12 Jul, featuring many previously unseen pictures of the band from across their career. And today it was announced that a new documentary is being produced by Eagle Rock Entertainment, which will be premiered in September.
Director Brett Morgan told CMU: "For anyone who wants to experience the band, this is the film that will defy convention and create a sonic tapestry to transport viewers into the world of the Rolling Stones. The film will deliver the original, bold, sexy and dangerous flavour of the iconic rock band".
The as-yet-untitled film is being constructed from performance and interview footage captured over the last 50 years, including previously unheard music, and over 50 hours of interviews conducted with the band by Morgan himself.
KARIMA FRANCIS ANNOUNCES ALBUM, TOUR
Francis will be playing a one-off show at The Slaughtered Lamb in London on 20 Mar, before heading out on tour next month, hitting The Great Escape along the way (11 May) and finishing up at London's Hoxton Hall. Here are the dates:
20 Mar: London, The Slaughtered Lamb
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
LONDON BLUESFEST, various venues, London, 26 Jun - 6 Jul: The capital's foremost jazz and soul celebration - which for the first time is held parallel to a sister edition in Manchester - this year hosts concerts from seasoned bluesmen George Benson, Eric John Hiatt and Robert Cray, with relative genre novice Hugh Laurie also prominent in the programme. Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones is also to curate an all-star tribute to Chicago's classic Chess Records roster, while Van Morrison will 'Sing The Blues' during a unique retrospective at London's Hammersmith Apollo, and Tom Jones will appear at the same venue on 1 Jul. www.bluesfestlondon.com
CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, 26-29 Jul: Recent additions Dry The River, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Raghu Dixit, Angelique Kidjo and The Staves join longstanding line-up fixtures Joan Armatrading, The Proclaimers, June Tabor & Oysterband, Roy Harper, Billy Bragg, Seth Lakeman and Lau. www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk
ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, 22-24 Jun: I've never seen Downton Abbey, but I hear it's the TV show all the kids are yapping about these days. So, good news kids, you'll be able to see Elizabeth McGovern from the show sing twice at this year's Isle Of Wight Festival. She'll appear as a special guest of Big Country on the main stage, and with her own band, Sadie And The Hotheads, on the Garden Stage on the Saturday. www.isleofwightfestival.co.uk
MELTDOWN, Southbank Centre, London, 1-12 Aug: Mercury Prize victor Anthony Hegarty is to take curatorship of Meltdown's alternative arts and performance showcase this year, thus forming the latest figure in a succession of hosts that have included Jarvis Cocker, Patti Smith, David Bowie and Ray Davies. He says of his plans for the prestigious placement: "I want to create a kind of paradise. I want to walk through the forest and see and hear the hardcore beauty and strength in art and music that makes sense to me". meltdown.southbankcentre.co.uk
ØYA, Gamlebyen, Oslo, Norway, 7-11 Aug: In contrast to the festival's ancient medieval setting, Øya organisers announce an initial line-up of such music contemporaries as headliners The Black Keys, St Vincent, SBTRKT, The War On Drugs, Frank Ocean and First Aid Kit. Last but not least on the line-up so far are veterans Bob Mould, Thurston Moore and Mazzy Star. www.oyafestivalen.com
SIMPLE THINGS, various venues, Bristol, 6 May: Simple Things marks its second coming with news that beat specialists Squarepusher, Hudson Mohawke, Ghospoet, Death In Vegas, Simian Mobile Disco, Lone, Factory Floor, Forest Swords and Grimes will all appear as part of its one-day programme. www.simplethingsfestival.co.uk
SUMMER SUNDAE WEEKENDER, De Montford Hall And Gardens, Leicester, 17-19 Aug: Ocean Colour Scene, Death In Vegas, Adam Ant and Billy Bragg top a moreish portion of acts now part of the Summer Sundae bill, with Friends, Datarock, Akala and Jack Beats also sweetening the deal. PiL, Katy B, Tune-Yards, Willy Mason and Francois And The Atlas Mountains fall amongst the festival's existing bookings. www.summersundae.com
COCA COLA SEALS WATER BOTTLES WITH JESSIE J'S HAIR
What that's got to do with the Olympics I don't know, but Coca Cola is apparently an official "worldwide partner and best mate" of this year's Games. Sorry, I should have given you some warning that I was going to use a marketing phrase as vomit inducing as "worldwide partner and best mate", it won't happen again. Except there. Sorry. Oh, the bottles will say "We love Olympic Games" on them as well.
John Luck, Business Manager of Coca-Cola's water brand Glaceau, which oversees the company's Vitamin Water and SmartWater products, said: "Jessie J embodies our commitment to bringing fun, colour, flavour and creativity to our consumers during this landmark year".
I'm still none the wiser what this has to do with the Olympics, or why you'd want a miniature haircut on top of a bottle of weak squash. But there you go.
UNIVERSAL APPOINTS WARNER URBAN MAN TO DEF JAM US ROLE
Confirming the appointment yesterday, Weiss told reporters: "As we look to expand Def Jam and our creative urban music activities even further, there is no one better to lead them than Joie. He has emerged as one of the most-respected young executives in today's urban music landscape, possessing all the qualifications and experience that are essential to run Def Jam, the world's most important hip-hop destination. The entire Def Jam family looks forward to working closely with Joie as he puts his unique imprint on the next chapter in the label's storied and successful history".
Manda himself added: "Running Def Jam is the greatest challenge of my career and I am appreciative to Barry Weiss for his faith in appointing me to this position. I'm excited to work alongside [Island President] Steve Bartels, who is one of the most talented music execs in the business and who has played such an important role in building the IDJ team. The Def Jam artist roster has always been synonymous with the greatest in hip hop, and I intend to carry that tradition into the future".
MAD DECENT LAUNCHES SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE
In Mad Decent's own words, membership provides such "perks" as early receipt of the label's official releases and access to a "digital crate" comprising remixes, mixtapes, live sets and videos that's free to stream or download "from any computer at any time".
If this sounds like your sort of thing, find full sign-up info here: maddecent.com/blog/mad-decent-premium-service
LIVE NATION TO INVEST IN FAN ENGAGEMENT START UPS
Confirming the new venture, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino told reporters: "We're interested in funding great new products that further engage fans and enrich the concert experience. There are a lot of little pieces on the board, and we're developing a structure for putting the best pieces together. In the era of the social conversation, we're a very focused platform. We're specialists".
The new investment initiative follows Live Nation's acquisitions of two interesting music data businesses, Big Champagne and Setlist.fm, and the former's boss Eric Garland will be involved in the management of the new investment vehicle. Glue all those assets together with the consumer data Live Nation is already sitting on via its Ticketmaster business, and there's some very interesting stuff going on in this particular corner of the Live Nation empire.
THE VOICE AND BGT CLASH REDUCED TO 20 MINUTES
As previously reported, it was revealed late last week that the first episodes of the rival broadcasters' big talent shows would launch in a head-to-head battle this coming Saturday night, even though in the second screening age people increasingly want to watch these programmes live so they can bitch about them on Twitter and Facebook.
BBC insiders accused ITV of bringing the launch of 'BGT' forward to compete with their expensive new talent show acquisition, while bosses at the commercial broadcaster criticised Beeb execs for staging such a blatant ratings war by scheduling their new talent show into ITV's customary talent show spot.
As the final schedules for Saturday night were being firmed up earlier this week, the BBC brought the start time for 'The Voice' forward quarter of an hour, so the overlap would be 35 instead of 50 minutes. ITV responded by likewise bringing 'BGT' forward fifteen minutes, though late yesterday saw sense and pushed its programme back fifteen minutes from its original time instead. All of which means there will only be a 20 minute clash.
But for those 20 minutes what will you be watching? Will.i.am saying "Yeah, yeah, like, yeah, like, yeah" to a baffled Tom Jones, or Alesha Dixon demanding of Simon Cowell and David Walliams "but when's this kid going to start dancing?" Personally I'll be shunning both shows and sitting back, as I so often do, to not watch 'The Big Lebowski' on DVD. Which is an in-joke that only one CMU reader will get, so let's hope he sufficiently appreciates it for the rest of you.
GAGA PLANS TO GO SILENT
Says Gaga in the Oprah chat: "Other than this interview, Oprah, I do not intend to speak to anyone for a very long time... No press, no television, if my mom calls and says: 'Did you hear about...' I shut it all off". And the media can say whatever it likes during the voluntary exile, it seems, because the popstress says she doesn't care what journalists write, and anyway "I don't read a damn thing".
So, if we can say whatever we like, did you know Lady Gaga was really an anteater in a dress who was discovered by Enrique Iglesias in a Canadian zoo and taught to sing by the one who played the foreign kid in 'That's 70s Show', and that she only ripped off Madonna's 'Express Yourself' for her hit 'Born This Way' to remind everyone how Madge used to make pretty good pop music. Not all of that sentence is true, but it's alright, the Gaga doesn't care.