|WEDNESDAY 19 APRIL 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Judges in the New York Court Of Appeals seemed to be erring towards classifying producer Dr Luke as a public figure at a hearing yesterday, which would have a big impact on his ongoing defamation lawsuit against Kesha. Though his lawyer urged the judges not to equate having a profile within the music industry with being a public figure... [READ MORE]|
New York judges suggest that Dr Luke might be a public figure as Kesha defamation case rumbles on
Luke's defamation lawsuit against Kesha is all that remains of what began as a multi-layered multi-state legal battle which was kickstarted when Kesha accused Luke of rape. He denies those allegations and - arguing that Kesha's claims have negatively impacted on his career - he sued for defamation.
As the defamation case has gone through the motions, there has been much debate as to whether Luke needs to show that Kesha acted with actual malice when making her allegations against him. If he does, that would increase Luke's burden in court and make it harder for him to win.
Under the relevant laws that were in place when this dispute began, Luke would only have to show actual malice if the courts deemed him to be a public figure.
The judge hearing the case decided that the producer, as someone who worked behind the scenes in music, wasn't sufficiently famous to be classified as a public figure, despite having enjoyed plenty of commercial success with the music he produced.
Kesha's team appealed that decision, hence the hearing in the Court Of Appeals. According to Law360, during a session yesterday judges there mused that Luke has actually garnered much public attention through his musical collaborations with various pop stars, not least Kesha.
One of the judges, Madeline Singas, added: "Someone like Dr Luke could call up, seemingly, someone like Rolling Stone or Billboard and say, 'I want to do an interview', and you know what, they'd show up. In this industry, he was in essence a household name".
However, Luke's lawyer David Steinberg countered that Kesha made her allegations against his client to the wider world via social media. The producer's profile within the industry is not what matters, he reckoned, and among the public at large he is not well known. Or at least wasn't prior to his high profile legal battles with Kesha.
The Kesha side also has a second option to pursue that would likewise increase the burden of Luke's lawyers, so that actual malice would need to be proven in court.
While the Luke v Kesha case was going through the motions, a new free speech law was introduced in New York state which says that the actual malice requirement could apply in defamation cases filed by people who are not public figures if the allegedly defamatory statement relates to issues of public concern.
The judge overseeing the Luke v Kesha litigation initially decided that that new law did impact on this case, meaning the actual malice obligation would have to be met. But an initial appeal by the Luke side overturned that decision on the basis that the new law did not explicitly state that it should be applied retrospectively to cases already filed before said new law was passed.
The Kesha side wants the Court Of Appeals to change that ruling too. Her lawyer, Anton Metlitsky, argued yesterday that New York lawmakers passed the new law in response to "a proliferation of vindictive, harassing, retaliatory lawsuits against journalists, consumer advocates and survivors of sexual abuse".
It would be bizarre, he then added, if those lawmakers didn't want the new rules to benefit the very people subject to those "vindictive, harassing, retaliatory lawsuits" whose legal woes motivated the law change.
It remains to be seen how the appeal judges now rule on these two matters. The actual defamation lawsuit itself is due to go to trial in July.
Cumgirl8 sign to 4AD
When featuring the band in the CMU Approved column back in 2021, we observed that their name might not help them gain much radio play - although 4AD has thought of that too, noting that you can refer to them as CG8 if you prefer. That's definitely something you might like to do in polite company.
Your explanation of the new single might still need some careful wording when playing it to your gran though - it being inspired by Hungarian-Italian pornstar turned politician Ilona Staller. Or Cicciolina as she is better known. As your gran will probably tell you, having seen her regularly on 'Eurotrash' back in the day.
"Cicciolina is an Italian icon, porn star and former politician that was elected to parliament in the 90s", say the band. "She advocated for human rights and the eradication of nuclear weapons. Cicciolina said 'make sex not war' and used her divine power of femininity to troll the status quo while disrupting it from the inside".
"We feel her ideals are foundational to the Cumgirl8 philosophy of subversive change, peace and strength in vulnerability", they add. "We hope she loves our song, we love her very much. Cicciolina is Cumgirl1".
Cumgirl8 also have UK tour dates lined up next month. And here they are:
9 May: London, Moth Club
BMG more closely integrates catalogue and frontline operations
The rejig acknowledges the ever increasing importance of catalogue in the streaming age, with older recordings now accounting for, says BMG, "up to three quarters of revenue". With that in mind, "BMG's recorded catalogue will now report locally as per its country of origin and then globally through EVP Global Repertoire Fred Casimir for all sales outside the owning territory, exactly the same structure used for new so-called 'frontline' recordings".
Explains BMG boss Hartwig Masuch: "Music fans demonstrate on a daily basis that they reject the music industry's outdated privileging of new music over older music. Music is music regardless of its age. Great artists and great music have no expiry date and we believe it is time for the music industry to reflect that".
In a memo to staff, Masuch also notes that the structural change "means that on a local level, our repertoire leaders - Thomas Scherer in LA, Alistair Norbury in London etc - will uniquely in the music industry oversee music publishing and frontline and catalogue recordings in their local territories".
"This makes good on our long-term plan to create the world's first fully integrated music company", the memo states, adding: "It empowers local leaders, it shortens reporting lines and it makes us more responsive for our artist and songwriter clients".
Commenting on his expanded role as a result of this rejig, Casimir says: "There's no great secret to BMG's success. It's about wrapping ourselves around artists' needs and adjusting to the realities of the streaming world. Successful music catalogues deserve the same effort, commitment and passion as newer recordings. I am delighted to take on responsibility for marketing BMG's recorded catalogue".
SM artists heading to Hybe's direct-to-fan platform Weverse
Getting SM artists like EXO, NCT, Girls Generation, Red Velvet and Aespa onto Weverse was part of the consolation prize Hybe negotiated after it failed to seize control of its competitor.
Hybe, of course, recently tried to buy itself a controlling stake in SM, which was part of a bid by SM founder Lee Soo-man to block his company's current management team from forming an alliance with the entertainment division of South Korean internet firm Kakao.
That bid failed and it ended up being Kakao that bought the controlling stake. Though, when Hybe formally announced it was bailing on its plan to control SM, it said that it had nevertheless negotiated a "platform deal" with its rival that would result in some future collaboration.
SM launched its own fan club platform last year called Kwangya Club. But, the company confirmed on Monday "twelve SM artists ... will move from Kwangya Club to Weverse", where they will "communicate with their fans and provide media content", as well as streaming via Weverse Live.
However, those twelve artists will continue to use another direct-to-fan service owned by SM, the artist-to-fan messaging app Bubble. It's not currently clear if that "platform deal" might see some Hybe artists also pop up on there too, with Hybe telling the Korea JoongAng Daily that such a move had not yet been discussed.
Instagram to allow more links in user bios
The Meta-owned social media service has always been rather restrictive when it comes to allowing users to include links in their posts and on their profile, it being keen to keep people within the Instagram ecosystem. The restrictions also mean it can include linking as an added value feature on paid-for posts.
In terms of allowing multiple links alongside a user's bio, Instagram has always presumably assumed, probably correctly, that many people would use that facility to include links to their profiles on all the other rival social media platforms.
But those restrictions created an opportunity for companies like Linktree, of course, with the usual work around being that the user tells their followers to look for the "link in bio", which takes people to a Linktree profile, where a plethora of links can be provided.
Confirming the increase in the number of links allowed per profile, Instagram admitted that more flexibility around posting links has long been a request from its users. TechCruch notes that it may have been motivated to finally add some more flexibility in order to distinguish itself from TikTok, which has even more restrictions on posting links.
People can still have a Linktree link as one of their five links. And if the user is planning on changing their chosen links on a regular basis and is active on multiple social media platforms, having a platform agnostic link service does still kind of make sense. And, of course, in music smart link services like Linkfire and Feature.fm offer extra functionality and analytics.
But it will still be interesting to see what impact the move at Instagram has on Linktree and its competitors.
Nominations for The Ivors announced
Among the nods for Styles and Harpoon are one for Songwriter Of The Year, all for their work on Styles' latest album 'Harry's House'. Sol and Inflo, meanwhile, have their nominations spread across work with Sault and Little Simz.
Team Styles are also nominated for the Most Performed Work prize, up against songs including 'Bad Habits' by Ed Sheeran. That's notable because 'Bad Habits' won the prize last year. This is the first time ever that a song has been up for the Most Performed Work prize two years in a row.
"The music nominated for an Ivor Novello this year is testament to the power and range of British and Irish songwriting and screen composing", says Ivors Academy Chair Tom Gray. "It's a superlative list and on behalf of The Ivors Academy I'm delighted to congratulate every writer nominated for their craft and achievements".
The winners will be revealed at Grosvenor House in London on 18 May. Here are all the nominees:
Best Contemporary Song
Best Original Film Score
Best Original Video Game Score
Best Song Musically And Lyrically
Best Television Soundtrack
Most Performed Work
Rising Star Award
Songwriter Of The Year
Hipgnosis has acquired the writer's share of performing rights income related to the catalogue of songwriter David Foster. "David is recognised globally as one of the greatest songwriters and producers of all time", says CEO Merck Mercuriadis. "He is the songwriters' songwriter and the producers' producer. David is truly special, and we are delighted to be working with his almost 50 years of incredible songs and to welcome him to the Hipgnosis family".
Warner Chappell has promoted Claire McAuley to EVP Global Rights Management. "Our strategy at Warner Chappell Music is to do everything it takes to get our songwriters paid for their music, wherever in the world their songs are used", she says. "We've made considerable investments in our people and our systems over the past few years, and our songwriters are already noticing the benefits of these changes. But there's even more we can do as the music ecosystem continues to evolve".
Web3 media company Public Pressure has launched a new music division, Public Pressure Music. It is headed up by Stephen King, who previously held senior roles at music distributor and services company Believe. "The ambition and vision of Public Pressure is incredible", says King. "They are leading the way in their field and creating new opportunities for music and other creative industries to work together in the exciting new environment of the metaverse. I'm very much looking forward to leading Public Pressure Music and bringing my experience to their global team while helping them build on their excellent work to date".
MARKETING & PR
Marketing agency WMA has launched a new office in Sweden. Global Vice President Crystina Cinti says: "Over the last few years we have been fortunate to work with incredible partners including Universal, Sony and Netflix in the Nordics and we are now excited to announce we are officially launching WMA Sweden. We recognise this opportunity to strengthen our local presence and expertise as part of our European expansion plans and further deepen our global offering".
Everything But The Girl have released new single 'No One Knows We're Dancing'. "The song is a eulogy to the heyday of packed Sunday clubs - the faces, the secret life, the clubs where Ben DJed in the early 2000s", says the duo's Tracey Thorn.
Sufjan Stevens will release new album 'Reflections' on 19 May, a studio recording of his score for the ballet of the same name, performed by pianists Timo Andres and Conor Hanick. From it, this is 'Ekstasis'.
Squid have released new single 'Undergrowth', taken from their new album 'O Monolith', which is out on 9 Jun. "'Undergrowth' was written from the perspective of me being reincarnated as a bedside table in the afterlife, and how the thought of being reincarnated as an inanimate object would be dreadful", says vocalist Ollie Judge. The single has an accompanying video game, which you can play here.
GIGS & TOURS
Mac DeMarco will play three nights at London's Hackney Empire from 30 Jul to 1 Aug, in support of new album 'Five Easy Hot Dogs'. Announcing the shows, he says: "Should be nice, should be different. Hopefully, it will be special". Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Jai Paul will play two nights at Outernet in London on 9 and 10 May. Tickets will be distributed via a ballot. Sign up before 10am on 3 May on Paul's website to be in with a chance.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Idiots rejoice! The cassette revival continues
But nevertheless, record label trade group BPI has reminded us today that cassette sales in the UK increased again last year. 195,000 units were shifted in 2022, 5.2% more than in 2021. And that's the most tapes sold in a twelve month period since 2003 when 'Now That's What I Call Music' editions 54, 55 and 56 were the bestsellers.
So, cassette revival, woo! Of course, Brits bought 11.6 million CDs and 5.5 million vinyl records last year, and when it comes to revenues cassette sales are decidedly nominal compared to other physical product sales let alone the cash cow that is streaming.
Though, the BPI said this morning, "the format is playing a significant role in the sales mix of some brand new album releases. On ten occasions last year, the format accounted for over 10% of the chart sales of the number one album on the weekly Official Albums Chart".
And "some of these chart-topping albums sold more copies on cassette than on vinyl when they debuted at number one, including Florence And The Machine's 'Dance Fever' and '5SOS5' by 5 Seconds Of Summer".
Lovely stuff. So who are these idiots - I mean loyal music fans - picking up the latest releases on good old cassette? Well, who knows.
Though given anecdotal research that says that at least part of the vinyl revival is fuelled by people who don't actually play the records they buy, meaning they basically treat the discs they purchase like pieces of merch, then why not sell that kind of fan a tape instead? If nothing else, they're a lot cheaper to produce.
"For many of us growing up, cassettes were a rite of passage as we listened to our favourite artists", says BPI Chief Strategy Officer and Interim CEO Sophie Jones. "So it's heartening that this once much-loved format is back in vogue, even if still a tiny part of music consumption overall".
"Like vinyl, a number of contemporary artists are warmly embracing the cassette as another way to reach audiences and on occasions it has even helped them to achieve a number one album", she adds. "While streaming is by far the leading format, the renewed popularity of cassettes and vinyl highlights the continuing importance of the physical market and the many ways fans have to consume music".
Why are the BPI bigging up the cassette revival today, given the top line sales stats were actually released at the start of the year?
Well, partly to plug the trade group's recently published 'All About The Music 2023' yearbook. Partly to remind artists and labels that releasing cassette versions of their albums might generate some extra sales from superfans and provide a useful chart boost. And partly so we can take a moment to celebrate the all-important idiots among the music-buying public.
And now the top ten best selling cassette releases in 2022...