CMU Digest

CMU Digest 16.12.19: General Election, Taylor Swift, Soundgarden, Ninth Circuit, Bytedance

By | Published on Monday 16 December 2019

The key stories from the last week in the music business…

The UK music industry responded to a general election result that will have disappointed many in the music community. By securing a significant compliant majority in the British Parliament, Boris Johnson will now be leading a much stronger majority government which, if nothing else, means that the next phase of the Brexit process will now definitely begin in the new year. Organisations like UK Music, BPI and AIM set out the music community’s key concerns regarding Brexit. They urged Johnson’s government to negotiate a new deal with the European Union that addresses each of those issues in an effective and practical way, while concurrently supporting those music businesses – especially grass-roots artists and indie companies – who will need more help dealing with the impact. [READ MORE]

Taylor Swift said that the music industry should reconsider conventions around master rights ownership. She briefly discussed her dispute with former label Big Machine in a wide-ranging interview with Billboard. Swift is angry that not only was she unable to negotiate back the recording rights in all the albums she released with Big Machine, but that Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings was then able to swoop in and buy them. Among her suggestions was that “artists should maybe have the first right of refusal to buy” their masters if and when a label is considering selling them. [READ MORE]

A dispute between the widow of Chris Cornell and his former band Soundgarden went legal. The dispute is over seven recordings Chris Cornell made before his death in 2017, which his bandmates want to rework and include on a new album. After Vicky Cornell put restrictions on how those recordings might be used, the rest of the band ultimately claimed that they owned the rights in the tracks, something she disputes. In a new lawsuit, Vicky Cornell alleges that the band is trying to bully her into handing over the recordings by withholding royalties and misrepresenting the dispute in public, setting Soundgarden’s fans against her and her family. [READ MORE]

The Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US edited its own recent ruling in one of the Taylor Swift ‘Shake It Off’ lyric-theft cases. The actual ruling remains the same: the judge in the lower court erred in dismissing the lawsuit on the basis that the allegedly stolen lyrics were not sufficiently substantial to enjoy copyright protection. However, the Ninth Circuit deleted a bunch of the precedent it cited in its original ruling on the matter, citations that arguably meant the appeals court ruling itself set a new precedent that could have a big impact on future lyric-theft cases. As a result of the edits, while this dispute will still go back to the lower court for a second hearing, the impact of the Ninth Circuit ruling has probably been reduced. [READ MORE]

It emerged that TikTok owner ByteDance has stepped up the testing of its new standalone music service Resso, which is available to download in beta form in India and Indonesia. Bloomberg reported that 27,000 users have now installed the app. Although similar to Spotify et al, beta testers report that Resso has more social media functionality than the big global players, plus includes TikTok-style functions for syncing music to video. [READ MORE]

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