TODAY'S TOP STORY: Ed Sheeran has successfully defeated a lawsuit that accused him of ripping off Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' when he wrote his 2014 song 'Thinking Out Loud'. And if you think we're reporting on this two weeks too late you're forgetting that there were multiple lawsuits making that claim... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Ed Sheeran defeats second song-theft claim over Thinking Out Loud
DEALS Armani White signs to Reservoir
Peermusic announces agreement with Chinese collecting society CAVCA
LIVE BUSINESS More than 20,000 representations submitted in support of Brixton Academy ahead of licence review
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING President of Johnny & Associates issues apology amid allegations of abuse against late founder
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Apple adds live music features to its Maps and Music apps
ONE LINERS Corey Taylor, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Anohni And The Johnsons, more
AND FINALLY... Spotify's AI DJ arrives in the UK
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Ed Sheeran defeats second song-theft claim over Thinking Out Loud
Ed Sheeran has successfully defeated a lawsuit that accused him of ripping off Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' when he wrote his 2014 song 'Thinking Out Loud'. And if you think we're reporting on this two weeks too late you're forgetting that there were multiple lawsuits making that claim.

The first lawsuit to allege that 'Thinking Out Loud' infringed the copyright in 'Let's Get It On' was the one filed by the estate of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the Gaye classic. That litigation went to trial and, earlier this month, a jury sided with Sheeran.

He and his team argued throughout that the two songs sound similar because they use the same musical building blocks, as do many other pop songs. But the individual segments that appear in both 'Let's Get It On' and 'Thinking Out Loud' are not protected by copyright in isolation. And the jury concurred.

Two years after the Townsend estate filed its lawsuit in 2016, a company called Structured Asset Sales also filed a lawsuit, because it has a stake in the 'Let's Get It On' copyright. And it made pretty much the same claims as the Townsend estate.

Although, SAS actually sued twice. That was because of a technicality in US copyright law whereby, in song theft cases like this, a court can only consider how similar the newer song is to the version of the older song that was filed with the US Copyright Office.

Until the 1970s, the Copyright Office would only accept sheet music when a song copyright was being registered. This means only the sheet music version of the song can be considered, which can be a limitation if the similarities between the two songs are more obvious in the recordings.

Worried that restriction would negatively impact on its case - and because songs can now be registered with the Copyright Office via a recording - SAS refiled 'Let's Get It On' with the Copyright Office and then sued again, hoping it could use the recorded version of the Gaye song if and when the second lawsuit got to court.

Meanwhile, the Sheeran side urged the judge overseeing the original SAS lawsuit - Louis Stanton - to dismiss the case by summary judgement using the same arguments as in the legal battle with the Townsend estate, ie that the two songs simply share common musical building blocks that are not protected by copyright in isolation.

However, last September Stanton declined to dismiss the SAS litigation, stating: "The law does not support Sheeran's contention that the combination of 'Let's Get It On's chord progression and harmonic rhythm is insufficiently original to warrant it copyrightable".

"There is no bright-line rule that the combination of two unprotectable elements is insufficiently numerous to constitute an original work", he added. "Moreover, where, as here, the parties' experts disagree as to whether a particular musical element is original, summary judgment is inappropriate".

But Sheeran's lawyers requested that Stanton reconsider their motion for dismissal. And he's now done just that. And changed his mind.

His original decision to deny the motion for dismissal, he writes in a new ruling published yesterday, was in part influenced by the fact that a motion for dismissal had also been denied in the case then still being pursued by the Townsend estate.

Though, he now concedes, the motion for dismissal was denied in the estate's case before the big ruling in the US Ninth Circuit Appeals Court in relation to the song theft allegations made against Led Zeppelin over 'Stairway To Heaven'. And that ruling "is one of the clearest articulations of how copyright law applies to musical compositions".

Stanton had already factored in one element of the 'Stairway To Heaven' ruling when considering the SAS v Sheeran case, in relation to that limitation that only the version of a song filed with the Copyright Office can be considered in song-theft legal battles.

However, in his new ruling, he states that the judgement also makes other relevant points about how American courts should assess song-theft claims.

And while Stanton's court in New York does not sit under the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, a similar position has been taken in copyright cases on his side of the country too, including in the recent song-theft case against Childish Gambino over his 2018 hit 'This Is America', which was dismissed.

With all that in mind, Stanton concludes: "To prevent manifest injustice, defendants' motion for reconsideration is granted. There is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendants infringed the protected elements of 'Let's Get It On'. The answer is that they did not. Accordingly, their motion for summary judgment is granted. The complaint is dismissed with prejudice".

So look at that, Sheeran has won twice in relation to the same song-theft allegation within a fortnight. Good times. Though, we should note, SAS has already indicated that it will appeal this judgement and will continue to pursue its second lawsuit.


Armani White signs to Reservoir
Reservoir has signed rapper Armani White to a new publishing deal covering his full catalogue, including his biggest hit, 'Billie Eilish'.

"Music has helped me through so much, and this is an exciting moment to bring that to a new level", says White. "I know the Reservoir team can help me get there. I can't wait to share more music with my fans and keep building the world of Armani White with them".

Reservoir's EVP A&R And Catalogue Development Faith Newman adds: "As a fellow Philly native, it is really special to work with Armani, whose music pays homage to the history of Philly hip hop and brings in a modern flare to create his self-described 'happy hood' niche within the genre".

"He also has a remarkable work ethic", she notes, "and the Reservoir team is eager to help Armani continue to release hit songs that drive the genre forward".

White released 90 second song 'Billie Eilish' last year, going viral on TikTok, as well as wracking up millions of plays on the streaming services. All of which helped him to secure a record deal with Universal Music's Def Jam label.

Earlier this month, he released his latest single 'Proud Of Me', featuring Fridayy.


Peermusic announces agreement with Chinese collecting society CAVCA
The neighbouring rights division of Peermusic has announced a new agreement with the Chinese collecting society CAVCA. The agreement will enable its clients to more easily collect royalties when their recordings are publicly performed within China, thereby benefiting from a relatively recent change to Chinese copyright law.

Previously, the Chinese copyright system did not include performing rights - or neighbouring rights, if you prefer - as part of the sound recording copyright. This meant that revenues from public performances were not available to artists and labels. However, that changed with an amendment to the country's copyright rules that came into effect in 2021.

CAVCA already existed before that change to the law, primarily collecting royalties due from the copying of music into videos, particularly in the karaoke sector. However, its remit has expanded following the expansion of the sound recording copyright and it now also handles the collection of the new royalties that are due.

Of course, each country has its own collecting societies, which issue licenses to, and collect royalties from, licensees in their home market. Those societies then have reciprocal agreements with their counterparts around the world, so that each society can license something nearing a global repertoire within its home country.

To access royalties due from the performance or broadcast of their music abroad, music-makers and music companies can rely on their local societies and those reciprocal deals, or they can join every single society directly.

Alternatively, for recorded music, artists and labels can ally with a neighbouring rights agency. These agencies have direct relationships with most societies worldwide, enabling them to directly access and manage any monies due. That's what Peermusic Neighbouring Rights does, and now it will be able to directly collect for its clients in China as well.

Says CEO Mary Megan Peer: "We are honoured to conclude this deal with CAVCA and look forward to getting these royalties from these new rights flowing back to our Peermusic Neighbouring Rights clients".

"The Asian region remains an important focus for Peermusic's global operations and an important part of Peermusic's plans for investment and growth into the future", she goes on. "Over the past eight years we have enjoyed a 62% compound annual growth in receipts for the territory".

Peermusic's Asia Pacific President Spencer Lee adds: "Since the copyright law amendment came into effect on 1 Jun 2021, this is a time of great transformation in the region. We have an enormous opportunity to advocate on behalf of our clients, and this deal with CAVCA marks another milestone in harnessing the region's potential for Peermusic Neighbouring Rights record labels and performer clients".


More than 20,000 representations submitted in support of Brixton Academy ahead of licence review
More than 20,000 people have now made representations to Lambeth Council in support of the Brixton Academy, according to the organisers of a campaign to save the south London venue.

London's Metropolitan Police have asked the council to review the licence of current venue operators the Academy Music Group following the crowd crush incident that occurred during an Asake show there last year in which two people died.

The venue has been closed ever since that incident. The Live Nation allied AMG says that it has provided Lambeth Council and the Metropolitan Police with "detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely".

However, the police argue that AMG's analysis of what went wrong at the Asake show last year is "far too narrow", as it primarily focuses on crowd management issues that occurred outside the venue. In fact, the Met has stated that it has "lost confidence in the premises licence holder" and believes that AMG's licence should be revoked.

As part of the council's review of Brixton Academy's operations and licence, the public was invited to make representations. The deadline for such submissions passed earlier this week.

Last week, the Night Time Industries Association teamed up with the Save Our Scene campaign and the Brixton BID collective of local businesses to urge music fans and the music community to communicate their support for the Brixton Academy to the local authority.

The three organisations offered suggested text that highlighted the venue's importance to both the London and UK music scenes, as well as supporting AMG itself, including the statement: "For decades the Brixton Academy under Academy Music Group management has been a safe and inclusive space for people to enjoy a wide range of cultural activities".

With the deadline for formally submitting support now passed, the NTIA has revealed that more than 20,000 representations were made. The trade group's CEO Michael Kill says: "We have been overwhelmed with the level of response to this campaign, with over 20,000 representations made by music fans to Lambeth Council with support from The Prodigy, Muse, Defected, NME, Mixmag, Music Week, Skunk Anansie and many more".

Meanwhile, Save Our Scene CEO George Fleming adds: "The response to this campaign has been immense and further highlights the public's desire for Brixton Academy to have a future as a live music venue. Lambeth Council must do everything they can to preserve Brixton Academy. Displacing a community would be a dangerous move which could result in a lot more work for themselves and the Met Police".

And Brixton BID MD Gianluca Rizzo says: "The huge support for the Brixton Academy with 20,000 letters submitted to Lambeth and thousands of messages across all social media show the importance of this venue. However, we cannot forget that a delayed decision has a negative impact on Brixton businesses, in fact since its closure, over half a million pounds per week is being lost in visitors spending. Let's turn the lights back on for Brixton".


President of Johnny & Associates issues apology amid allegations of abuse against late founder
The President of the prominent Japanese talent agency, Johnny & Associates, has issued an apology concerning the numerous allegations that the company's late founder, Johnny Kitagawa, abused boys signed to his company.

"I offer my deepest apologies to those who have come forward with the experiences they suffered", said Julie Fujishima - who is also Kitagawa's niece - in a statement published on Sunday. "Obviously, we do not believe there was no problem. As a business and as an individual, I absolutely do not tolerate these acts".

Allegations against Kitagawa were common knowledge in the Japanese music industry for decades, but they generally went unreported by the country's media - in part due to fears at the media companies that reporting on any of the allegations would result in them losing access to the steady stream of popular boybands that Johnny's delivered.

Many of those now making allegations against Kitagawa also say they knew at the time that speaking out about the abuse would end the pop careers they were seeking to pursue.

Despite those pressures, in 1999 Shukan Bunshun magazine did publish various accusations against Kitagawa. He successfully sued for libel, although the judgement was partially overturned on appeal. There were other allegations made beyond those published by Shukan Bunshun, but the music boss was never charged with any crime.

Kitagawa died in 2019, aged 87. The allegations of abuse against him came back into the spotlight again in March this year with the broadcast of the BBC documentary 'Predator: The Secret Scandal Of J-Pop', which included interviews with former Johnny's-signed artists.

While Fujishima issued a blanket apology to those who were abused, she maintained that it would now be impossible to verify which allegations were actually true. She also insisted that she was unaware of Kitagawa's misconduct while it was occurring.

"It is not easy for us to simply declare by ourselves whether individual allegations can be recognised as facts or not, when we cannot confirm with the individual directly concerned, Johnny Kitagawa", she said, before adding: "This is not the kind of occasion where you can be forgiven by saying 'I did not know', but the truth is that I did not".

Fans of groups signed to the agency have rejected Fujishima's denials of any knowledge of the abuse allegations, especially considering she was working for the company when the Shukan Bushun article was published. They are now calling for a full investigation.


Apple adds live music features to its Maps and Music apps
Apple has launched two new editorial features focused on live music, one in Apple Maps and one in Apple Music, and both tapping into the 'concert discovery module' that was added to Apple-owned Shazam last spring.

Within Apple Maps, the tech giant's music team have produced a series of guides to live music in various big cities around the world. So, for London there are guides to clubbing, classical venues, grassroots venues, the "alternative scene" and "where to see acoustic music".

These guides, Apple says, "also allow fans to browse venues' upcoming shows directly from Maps through Shazam's concert discovery module - part of a suite of features that Shazam introduced last spring - leveraging concert information from the world-renowned event recommendation and artist discovery platform Bandsintown".

Meanwhile, in the Apple Music app a new Set Lists space "shines a light on a selection of major tours, letting fans listen to setlists and read about the productions" and "for the first time on the app, fans will also be able to browse artists' upcoming shows in their area by launching Shazam's concert discovery module". Lovely stuff.


CMU at Athens Music Week
Later this month CMU's Chris Cooke will be at Athens Music Week to take part in three sessions on Tuesday 30 May, as follows...

Data & Copyright Ownership In The Dawn Of AI
With generative AI very much in the spotlight today, join us for a discussion about the key questions and challenges posed by AI tools and technologies that can create and produce songs, recordings and other kinds of content. Should AI-created music enjoy copyright protection? What licences are required when an AI tool crunches data connected to existing music? And will the rapid evolution of these technologies empower or threaten the music industry? Come and join the debate.

Do Music Conferences And Showcase Festivals Drive Today's Music Industry?
Let's talk about the importance, the impact and the future of music conferences and music showcase festivals. Music experts share their experiences about what is actually happening around the world at the moment, how grassroots talents and music professionals can get connected, create networks, meet new people, understand and be involved in the latest music trends, and how they survive the delegates' touring madness.

Music Publishing Trends 2023
In this speed briefing Chris will provide an overview of the latest developments and debates in the music publishing business. He'll review how songs and songwriters make money today, the challenges and controversies around streaming, the evolving role of the music publisher, and the changing nature of collective licensing. Get to grips with the business of songs and future trends in music publishing.

Click here to find out more about all things Athens Music Week.


Universal Music's label services division Virgin Music has announced three promotions in the US. Leslie Cooper is now SVP Artist Development & Special Projects, Marisa Di Frisco becomes VP National Promotion, and Lauren Holman moves up to VP Streaming Marketing.

Warner Chappell has promoted Amber Davis to the role of Senior Vice President. "I'm honoured to be stepping into this wider role at Warner Chappell Music", she says. "We have an incredible team here and a roster of world-class songwriters that I'm extremely privileged to work with. I'm excited to carry on discovering the best UK talent whilst also working with our senior leadership team to drive the company forward".



Corey Taylor has released 'Beyond', the first track of his upcoming second solo album 'CMF2'.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens has shared new single 'All Nights, All Days'. His new album 'King Of A Land' is out on 16 Jun.

Anohni And The Johnsons have announced that they will return with new album 'My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross' on 7 Jul. "I've been thinking a lot about Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'. That was a really important touchstone in my mind [for this album]", says Anohni. "Some of these songs respond from the present day to global and environmental concerns first voiced in popular music over 50 years ago". Out now is new single 'It Must Change'.

Ane Brun has released new single 'Hand In The Fire', taken from new compilation 'Songs 2013-23.

Spoon have released new single 'Sugar Babies', taken from new EP 'Memory Dust', which will be out on 13 Jun.

Girl Ray have released new single 'Up'. "Written at the beginning of my current relationship, 'Up' deals with all the emotions of a fledgling romance: adoration, self-doubt and everything in between", says the band's Poppy Hankin. "Musically we wanted to pay homage to the sparseness of Queen's 'Cool Cat' and the groove of Bowie's 'Fame'". New album 'Prestige' is out on 4 Aug.

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard have announced that they will release their 24th studio album 'PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn Of Eternal Night: An Annihilation Of Planet Earth And The Beginning Of Merciless Damnation' on 16 Jun. Out now is new single 'Gila Monster'.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Spotify's AI DJ arrives in the UK
Spotify's AI DJ has only gone and arrived in the UK. He slipped in yesterday. Right past Home Secretary Suella Braverman who was too busy banging on about immigrants to notice that the machines are taking over.

Yes, that's right, human radio DJs of Great Britain. We thank for your service. Your musical selections. Your time checks. Your dedications. Your travel reports. Your giveaways and your competitions. Your witty observations. Your pressing of a button that plays a record that someone else selected. Your constant inane chatter. We loved it. We loved you. But you can stand down now. The machines have it covered. Maybe.

"In February we unveiled DJ, a personalised AI guide that understands you and your music taste so well that it does the choosing for you", says Spotify. "Now we're excited to start rolling out DJ in beta to premium users across the UK and Ireland".

"When users in the UK and Ireland tune in they will be greeted by a stunningly realistic AI voice, modelled after Spotify's own Head Of Cultural Partnerships, Xavier 'X' Jernigan", the official blurb rambles on. "Plus, they'll be served songs and context geared towards them".

"For example", it explains, "users who tune in right around launch may hear about how Arlo Parks is releasing her newest album, 'My Soft Machine', at the end of May alongside her collab, 'Phoenix', with friend and longtime role model Phoebe Bridgers. And when it comes to an engaging listening experience, these moments of relevant context are winning DJ users over".

I'm sure they are. Why wouldn't they? "We've found that when DJ listeners hear commentary alongside personal music recommendations, they're more willing to try something new", Spotify then claims. "On days when users tune in, fans spend 25% of their listening time with DJ - and they keep coming back. More than half of first-time listeners come back to listen to DJ the very next day".

"And DJ has especially resonated with Gen Z and Millennials, who make up 87% of DJ users", it adds. "But this is just the beginning. DJ is still in beta, and we'll continue to iterate and innovate to evolve the experience over time".

Thanks for that Spotify. You couldn't develop an AI Home Secretary for us while you're at it, could you? I mean, maybe a machine can pick me some music and provide some background context as well as a human being, I don't know. But when it comes to running the country, the AI wouldn't need to do much to constitute a significant improvement.


ANDY MALT heads up our editorial operations, overseeing the CMU Dailywebsite and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE is co-Founder and MD of CMU - he continues to write key business news stories, and runs training, research and event projects for the CMU Insights consultancy unit and CMU:DIY future talent programme.
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SAM TAYLOR leads on the commerical side of CMU, overseeing sales, sponsorship and business development, as well as heading up training, research and event projects at our consultancy unit CMU Insights.
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CARO MOSES is Editor of CMU's sister media ThisWeek Culture and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh. Having previously also written and edited articles for CMU, she continues to advise and support our operations.
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