|FRIDAY 19 MAY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The current operators of The Leadmill in Sheffield have asked their supporters to formally object to a licence application by their landlords, the Electric Group, which is seeking to directly manage the venue. Meanwhile, the boss of the Electric Group has issued a new statement accusing the venue's current management of deliberately misleading people through their communications around the ongoing dispute between landlord and tenant... [READ MORE]|
War of words continues around Sheffield's Leadmill venue as landlord applies for premises licence
The existing Leadmill team announced in March last year that they had been given a year to vacate the premises by The Electric Group, which acquired the building that houses the venue in 2017. The landlord - which already runs venues in London, Bristol and Newcastle - wants to start directly managing The Leadmill rather than renting the building to the venue's current management team.
That current management team have since done a pretty good job of rallying the support of both artists and the Sheffield music community, calling on the Electric Group to abandon its plan to take direct control of The Leadmill.
However, the Electric Group reckons that - with said campaign - it is often being incorrectly implied that it, as the owner of the building, wants to close down the venue, rather than having it continue to operate but with a new management team in place.
And given the widespread concerns within the music community about the closure of grassroots venues, that possible confusion is winning the current Leadmill team more support.
It's worth noting that the latest statement from the current team begins by saying "as many of you are aware, our landlords have issued The Leadmill with an eviction notice in order to operate from this location themselves", which is a decent summary of what is happening.
Although it doesn't specifically say upfront that The Electric Group plans to operate a music venue in the building, even if that is implied later on.
And the new statement does then say "if they are successful, this would result in The Leadmill ceasing to exist after 43 years". Which is technically true, in that The Leadmill in its current form would definitely cease to operate, and the name may need to be changed once the new management take over - although that's currently the subject of a side dispute. But you can possibly see how people might nevertheless be confused by that messaging.
Anyway, more than a year has now passed since the current management team was given its one year notice to vacate, and that team is currently still running and programming the venue. But The Electric Group is nevertheless still planning on taking over the management of the space and, to that end, has now applied for a premises licence from Sheffield City Council.
It was that licence application that prompted the latest statement from the current Leadmill team earlier this week. It reads: "Our landlords have recently moved forward with their plans to evict The Leadmill by applying for their own premises licence. A premises licence enables a business to be able to provide entertainment and sell alcohol and is regulated locally by Sheffield City Council".
Noting that "without a premises licence, a venue cannot operate", the statement adds: "The general public are able to object to a premises licence application if they are aware of any relevant reasons as to why it should not be granted". It then explains how supporters of the current Leadmill team might go about making such an objection.
An emotional attachment to the current management team is not a "relevant reason" for objecting to a licence application. "An objection must be based on one, or more, of the four licensing objectives", the new statement confirms, those being: "the prevention of crime and disorder; public safety; the prevention of public nuisance; the protection of children from harm".
So any supporters of the current Leadmill team will need to identify objections that meet those criteria. "You can make comments based on your understanding of the landlord's experience and competence", the statement explains. "You may be assisted in your understanding by Googling relevant reviews and press reports about the operation of the landlord's current nightclubs. These are: Electric Brixton, SWX Bristol and NX Newcastle".
In his response to these latest developments, Electric Group boss Dominic Madden insists there are no legitimate reasons to object to his company's licence application in Sheffield.
"We have been running licensed venues since 2003 and have never had any issue or licence review", he says, according to NME. "Our venues in London, Newcastle and Bristol host hundreds of gigs and events every year for thousands of music fans. Our team has many years of experience running venues, producing theatre and promoting gigs".
And as for the ongoing campaign being led by the current Leadmill management team, he reckons: "The current Leadmill campaign is unfortunately misleading people into thinking we want to close the venue with no regard for its history".
"That is not the case. In fact, we want to invest in the future of the space - albeit one which will mark the start of a new chapter for a building which has many generations of history with a variety of different operators since it was first a flour mill".
"When we purchased the freehold for the Leadmill in 2017", he goes on, "it was threatened with redevelopment into flats. We didn't want that to happen, so we stepped in to buy it and save it - something the leaseholder was not prepared to do".
"As we have always maintained, we intend to continue operating the space as a music venue, focussing on a diverse mix of gigs, club nights and comedy events", he insists.
"We're an independent music venue operator which is committed to music and investing in venues. We hope to be a great custodian of the venue for the next generation. We recognise the roots of The Leadmill within the community and we are determined to see it succeed and thrive".
Music industry welcomes US Supreme Court ruling in Prince artwork copyright case
The dispute was between the Andy Warhol Foundation and the photographer Lynn Goldsmith over artworks produced by Warhol in the 1980s that used a photo of Prince as a reference. When Warhol first used Goldsmith's photo of Prince in 1984 to create his distinctive artwork, it was part of a commission from the magazine Vanity Fair, and use of the photo was licensed by publisher Condé Nast, with Goldsmith getting a co-credit when Warhol's artwork was published.
However, Warhol subsequently created a number of different versions of the artwork which are collectively known as the 'Prince Series'. Goldsmith was seemingly unaware of this until 2016 when Condé Nast published a commemorative magazine following Prince's death which featured one of Warhol's artworks - known as 'Orange Prince' - on its cover.
The Andy Warhol Foundation - which administers the late artist's works - licensed the use of that artwork to Condé Nast for the 2016 magazine cover without Goldsmith's consent.
It was at that point that Goldsmith told the Foundation that she believed that Warhol's Prince Series - and the licensing of an artwork from it to Conde Nast without her consent - infringed the copyright in her original photo. It was the Foundation who then went legal in the New York courts in 2017, seeking confirmation that Warhol's artworks constituted fair use under US copyright law and therefore did not infringe Goldsmith's copyright.
All copyright systems identify certain scenarios when copyright protected works can be used without getting permission from the copyright owner, often in order to protect freedom of expression. So things like critical analysis, news reporting, quoting and parody are often covered by specific copyright exceptions.
The US principle of fair use provides many of the same exceptions, though is more ambiguous and generally more wide-ranging. In this case the Warhol Foundation was relying on the argument that so called 'transformative uses' of copyright protected works can be considered fair use.
Guidance on fair use from the US Copyright Office notes that "transformative uses are more likely to be considered fair - transformative uses are those that add something new, with a further purpose or different character, and do not substitute for the original use of the work".
At first instance a judge in the New York courts decided that Warhol's use of Goldsmith's photo qualified as fair use on this basis, and the Foundation did not infringe Goldsmith's copyright by licensing the Warhol artwork to Conde Nast.
But the Second Circuit Appeals court overturned that ruling in 2021. The Foundation then took the matter to the US Supreme Court, arguing that the Second Circuit's interpretation of transformative fair use was wrong, and also conflicted with rulings in the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court on the other side of the country.
Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Goldsmith. Law360 notes that the court "found that Warhol Foundation's licensing of 'Orange Prince' to Conde Nast didn't have a sufficiently different purpose as the photo taken by Goldsmith - both were 'portraits of Prince used in magazines to illustrate stories about Prince'".
Meanwhile judge Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her judgement: "As portraits of Prince used to depict Prince in magazine stories about Prince, the original photograph and Andy Warhol Foundation's copying use of it share substantially the same purpose".
It was a 7-2 ruling in favour of Goldsmith, with the two other judges in the Supreme Court disagreeing strongly with the majority position, and claiming that their colleagues had shown a "lack of appreciation" for the way Warhol's artworks differed from Goldsmith's original photo.
But the majority position argued that too wide a definition of transformative use would "swallow the copyright owner's exclusive right to prepare derivative works".
For most copyright owners - including music companies - any decision that narrows the definition of fair use, or at least stops the concept from being expanded, is a good decision, given copyright owners would always prefer to have control over the exploitation of their works, including in the creation of derivative works.
And that's particularly true in the context of the increasingly urgent conversations around generative AI. The music industry is adamant that anyone who uses data connected to existing songs and recordings to train a music-making AI tool needs a licence from whoever owns the copyright in the original music.
But some argue that fair use might apply in at least some generative AI scenarios. That is still to be tested in the American courts and any widening of the concept of transformative fair use in cases like this could have had an impact on that debate.
So, it's no surprise that the music industry was pleased with the ruling in the Andy Warhol Foundation v Lynn Goldsmith case. The CEO of the Recording Industry Association Of America, Mitch Glazier, said yesterday: "We applaud the Supreme Court's considered and thoughtful decision that claims of 'transformative use' cannot undermine the basic rights given to all creators under the Copyright Act".
"Lower courts have misconstrued fair use for too long and we are grateful the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the core purposes of copyright", he went on. "We hope those who have relied on distorted - and now discredited - claims of 'transformative use', such as those who use copyrighted works to train artificial intelligence systems without authorisation, will revisit their practices in light of this important ruling".
Meanwhile, according to Variety, National Music Publishers Association CEO David Israelite stated: "Today's Warhol Foundation decision is a massive victory for songwriters and music publishers. This is an important win that prevents an expansion of the fair use defence based on claims of transformative use".
"It allows songwriters and music publishers to better protect their works from unauthorised uses, something which will continue to be challenged in unprecedented ways in the AI era".
"Copyright owners should have the right to make or approve decisions about new, reimagined uses of their works", he added. "This decision enhances our ability to protect songwriters from increasingly broad claims from would-be infringers of fair use, strengthening creators' rights to determine how their art is exploited and valued".
That said, Re:Create - an organisation that speaks on copyright issues for tech companies and other users of content - is keen to stress that a key element of the Prince artwork dispute was the licensing of that image to Conde Nast without Goldsmith's consent. And, according to Re:Create Executive Director Joshua Lamel, the precedent set in the new Supreme Court ruling is not necessarily as far reaching as some copyright owners would like.
"All art and innovation build on work that came before - an endless cycle of recreating that pushes society and culture forward, allowing us to reflect on the past and aspire for the future" he said yesterday. "We are encouraged that the Supreme Court continues to recognise that fair use is critical to unlocking free expression for all".
"Specifically", he went on, "the court did not rule on if Andy Warhol's transformative artworks were a fair use. Instead, they found only the specific act of the Foundation then licensing them to a magazine, in direct competition with the magazine photograph the art was based on, was not a fair use. This shows that fair use is alive and thriving and that the Supreme Court takes a very thoughtful fact-based approach to applying it, as intended".
BMI and ASCAP partner on task force to address fraudulent song registrations
It's one of various initiatives aiming to ensure that the music industry has better music rights data, so that there is a more comprehensive and accurate view of who owns and controls each song and recording. There are currently an assortment of issues with that data, some of which are caused by bad actors and fraudulent conduct.
Although BMI and ASCAP compete for songwriter members within the US, they already collaborate on some data initiatives, including the shared data platform Songview.
The new task force, the two societies say, will involve "a cross-functional team of copyright, technical, distribution, legal, business and product experts", who will work together with the aim of "mitigating and preventing fraud or erroneous activities associated with but not limited to the registration of musical works that can result in financial loss or operational inefficiencies".
"The team will focus on maintaining data integrity within the volumes of registration requests and protocols around identity verification and validation, among other areas", an official statement adds. "In addition to raising awareness around suspicious activity and schemes, the task force will work with other partners around the globe to share best practices and information that is not deemed competitively sensitive".
Commenting on this new initiative, ASCAP boss Elizabeth Matthews says: "Fraud is a complex global challenge that all collective management organisations and [streaming services] must confront with increasing frequency".
"Building on the strength of our Songview partnership and leveraging our expertise in building an interconnected data platform", she goes on, "ASCAP and BMI are uniquely positioned to lead this collaborative and proactive approach to enhance the integrity of data in the music industry and to protect the rights and royalties of music creators".
BMI chief Mike O'Neill adds: "The integrity of our data is paramount and something we spend an enormous amount of time and effort to protect. Given the explosion of music being uploaded to digital platforms and the speed in which that information connects to databases around the world, we felt it made sense to join forces with ASCAP to address these concerns".
"Bad actors don't just limit themselves to one company or one territory", he continues, "and the more we can collaborate on this issue, the better it is for everyone involved".
Dan Waite and Steve Kline promoted at Better Noise Music
Of the changes, Kovac says that "Dan and Steve step up" at a time when the company has been the "number one mainstream rock label for five years in a row, is the number one Billboard hard rock imprint and is continuing to grow our international cumulative sales through our global offices".
Waite adds: "In this new role I'll aim to maximise the careers and album consumption of our signed acts … as we grow the label, expanding through new signings, opening up new markets and working closely with the amazing specialists that we have in each department at Better Noise which has kept us [the] number one rock label for the last five years."
And Kline says: "I want to thank Allen for putting his faith in me, as he has over the past nineteen years, in this enhanced role at Better Noise. I am incredibly excited to work with Allen and Dan in leading our amazing global team to future success".
Andy Rourke dies
His death was announced by former bandmate Johnny Marr, who said on Twitter: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer. Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans. We request privacy at this sad time".
A school friend of Marr, Rourke played in a number of bands in his home town of Manchester before joining Marr and Morrissey in their then new band The Smiths in 1982.
In an Instagram post paying tribute to Rourke, Marr recalls their childhood friendship, and how the two friends "spent all our time studying music, having fun, and working on becoming the best musicians we could possibly be".
"Back then Andy was a guitar player and a good one at that, but it was when he picked up the bass that he would find his true calling and his singular talent would flourish", Marr adds.
"Throughout our teens we played in various bands around South Manchester before making our reputations with The Smiths from 1982 to 1987, and it was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player".
"I was present at every one of Andy's bass takes on every Smiths session", he goes on. "Sometimes I was there as the producer and sometimes just as his proud mate and cheerleader. Watching him play those dazzling basslines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold".
After The Smiths split in 1987, Rourke worked with many other artists in subsequent years, including Sinead O'Connor, The Pretenders, Badly Drawn Boy and Ian Brown. He also appeared on a number of Morrissey's solo records and, in the 2000s, teamed up with two other notable Mancunian bassists - Peter Hook and Mani - to form Freebass.
Marr's tribute to Rourke continues: "We maintained our friendship over the years, no matter where we were or what was happening and it is a matter of personal pride as well as sadness that the last time Andy played on stage was with me and my band at Madison Square Garden in September 2022. It was a special moment that we shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca".
"Andy will always be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by everyone who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by people who love music", Marr concludes. "Well done Andy. We'll miss you brother".
New Blur album announced ahead of warm-up show at Colchester Arts Centre
The new record was announced ahead of a series of warm-up shows that the band are playing around the UK this month, kicking off at the Colchester Arts Centre later today.
Those shows, which also include gigs at Eastbourne Winter Gardens, The Halls Wolverhampton and City Hall Newcastle, precede a summer of festival appearances plus the two dates at Wembley Stadium on 8 and 9 Jul.
And now some quotes from the band...
Damon Albarn: "This is an aftershock record, reflection and comment on where we find ourselves now".
Graham Coxon: "The older and madder we get, it becomes more essential that what we play is loaded with the right emotion and intention. Sometimes just a riff doesn't do the job".
Alex James: "For any long term relationship to last with any meaning you have to be able to surprise each other somehow and somehow we all continue to do that".
Dave Rowntree: "It always feels very natural to make music together. With every record we do, the process reveals something new and we develop as a band. We don't take that for granted".
Darren was unavailable for comment. As usual. And to think, they even wrote a ballad about him.
Ivor Novello Awards presented
There were also the customary awards for career-long achievements, with the members of James being presented an Icon Award; Kamille being celebrated for her Outstanding Song Collection; Debbie Harry and Chris Stein getting a Special International Award; and Sting being granted an Academy Fellowship.
"On behalf of The Ivors Academy of songwriters and composers I wholeheartedly congratulate all of our winners", says Academy Chair Tom Gray. "When we choose to reward one of our number, when we recognise and validate their work, we are saying that as an Ivor Novello award winner, you represent the very best of us".
And here is the full list of winners...
Best Contemporary Song: Raye and 070 Shake - Escapism written by 070 Shake, Raye and Mike Sabath published in the UK by Sony Music Publishing and Warner Chappell Music
Best Song Musically And Lyrically: Florence + The Machine - King written by Jack Antonoff and Florence Welch published in the UK by Ducky Donath Music-Sony Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing
Most Performed Work: Harry Styles - As It Was written by Kid Harpoon, Tyler Johnson and Harry Styles published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing and Pulse Songs-Concord Music Publishing
Best Album: Sault - 11 written by Dean 'Inflo' Josiah Cover, Jamar McNaughton, Cleopatra Nikolic and Jack Peñate published in the UK by Copyright Control and Sentric Music
Best Television Soundtrack: The Midwich Cuckoos composed by Hannah Peel published in the UK by SATV Publishing
Best Original Film Score: Don't Worry Darling composed by John Powell published in the UK by Universal Music Publishing
Best Original Video Game Score: Mario + Rabbids Sparks Of Hope composed by Gareth Coker, Grant Kirkhope and Yoko Shimomura
Songwriter Of The Year: Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers
Kylie Minogue has released new single 'Padam, Padam'. Her new album 'Tension' is out on 22 Sep.
Jorja Smith will release her second album 'Falling Or Flying' on 29 Sep. She is set to play four launch shows around the UK close to the release date, including one at Outernet in London on 4 Oct. Tickets are on sale now.
The Japanese House has released new single 'Sunshine Baby', featuring The 1975's Matty Healy. "Sunshine Baby is my nickname for my dog, and my ex, and I always used to lay on the beach together being sunshine babies", she says. "The chorus is kind of a submission to the end of our relationship, but singing it in a positive light. There's a transience in every part of a relationship, and in the circle of everything it comes back around". Her new album 'In The End It Always Does' is out on 30 Jun, and she will be touring the UK in October.
Jelani Blackman has released new single 'Rise', featuring Biig Piig. "Being in love and waking up next to the person you wanna be with and the sun's out is one of the best feelings in the world", he says. "Couldn't have asked anyone better to share this song with; me and Biig Piig met last year at a festival, I think her voice and lyrics bring out all the feeling of that emotion".
Ragz Originale has released new single 'Radio Silence', taken from his debut album 'Bare Sugar', which is set for release on 30 Jun. "Where do I even begin with this song?" he asks. "This is probably my favourite song from the album, in fact it is! It represents everything I stand for in sound design. Late night drive music at its finest, I wanted to create something aliens would dance to whilst creating art!"
King Krule has released new single 'If Only It Was Warmth'. His new album 'Space Heavy' is out on 9 Jun.
Genesis Owusu will release new album 'Struggler' on 18 Aug, from which he has just put out new single 'Leaving The Light'. He's also announced that he will play Heaven in London on 15 Nov.
GIGS & TOURS
Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp have announced a live tour off the back of their Sunday Lunch Rock Club videos, which they started posting in lockdown. The run will include a show at London's Shepherds Bush Empire on 21 Oct. Tickets are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Can Self Esteem drive a bus?
OK, you can stop wondering, because there is video footage of her attempting to drive a double decker bus available on the internet now. Not just any double decker bus though. No, one adorned with imagery from her 'Prioritise Pleasure' album inside and out.
Why though? Well, this is all part of the 'Walk Of Fame' project launched by Sheffield bus company First Bus. Having previously got Jon McClure from Reverend And The Makers in on the act, the company has now done the same for Taylor.
"Who needs a Mercury Prize when you've got a fucking bus", she proclaims while inspecting her vehicle. Indeed, and who needs a driver's licence either? Because, spoiler alert, it turns out that, under strict supervision, Rebecca Lucy Taylor is able to drive a bus. And also crash it in a way that isn't entirely clear.
Nonetheless, she says: "I loved driving the bus today. It's a real personal victory actually. I'm proud of myself, and I found it quite worryingly exciting".
Which other Sheffield musicians are going to get a personalised bus and take it for a spin and when will it be Jarvis Cocker? I think that's what we're all going to have to wonder now that we know the answer to the big Self Esteem question.