TODAY'S TOP STORY: Kesha and Dr Luke have settled their long-running defamation legal battle, both posting statements confirming the settlement to Instagram. It means that a court battle due to get properly underway in New York next month will now not happen... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Kesha and Dr Luke settle defamation legal battle over rape allegations
LEGAL RIAA targets AI Hub on Discord
DEALS Warner Music acquires stake in Hungarian label Magneoton
BMG announces deal around Paul Simon's recordings
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Musicians' Union urges music community to get behind Brixton Hill Studios as it faces closure
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING New EU-backed funding scheme aims to "nurture a more diverse and sustainable music sector in Europe"
AND FINALLY... Paul McCartney confirms nothing "artificial" about upcoming AI-assisted Beatles release
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Kesha and Dr Luke settle defamation legal battle over rape allegations
Kesha and Dr Luke have settled their long-running defamation legal battle, both posting statements confirming the settlement to Instagram. It means that a court battle due to get properly underway in New York next month will now not happen.

Luke's defamation lawsuit against Kesha was all that remained of what began as a multi-layered multi-state legal battle between the producer and musician. The other elements of that battle mainly related to past deals entered into by the former collaborators, Kesha having been signed to Luke's label.

The producer sued for defamation over allegations made by Kesha that he had drugged and sexually assaulted the musician. He denied those allegations and argued that Kesha's claims had negatively impacted on his career.

As the defamation action went through the motions, there was much debate as to what Luke's burden of proof should be. Under New York state law, if Luke was considered a public figure, he would have to prove that Kesha made her allegedly defamatory statements with actual malice, increasing his burden in court.

The judge overseeing the case decided that Luke wasn't famous enough outside the music industry to be considered a public figure. But the Kesha side appealed that decision and earlier this month the New York Court Of Appeals ruled that the producer was, in fact, a "limited public figure".

The appeals court also decided that new free speech laws that came into force in the state after Luke first filed his lawsuit should apply in this case, a decision which further favoured the Kesha side.

With the dispute due to get to trial on 26 Jul, both sides confirmed yesterday that a settlement had now been reached. Terms of that settlement are not known. But both Kesha and Luke issued statements, both of which were posted to both Kesha and Luke's Instagram profiles.

Kesha's statement reads: "Only God knows what happened that night. As I have always said, I cannot recount everything that happened. I am looking forward to closing the door on this chapter of my life and beginning a new one. I wish nothing but peace to all parties involved".

Luke's statement reads: "While I appreciate Kesha again acknowledging that she cannot recount what happened that night in 2005, I am absolutely certain that nothing happened. I never drugged or assaulted her and would never do that to anyone. For the sake of my family, I have vigorously fought to clear my name for nearly ten years. It is time for me to put this difficult matter behind me and move on with my life. I wish Kesha well".


RIAA targets AI Hub on Discord
The Recording Industry Association Of America has secured a subpoena from the US courts forcing Discord to identify individuals who have allegedly infringed copyright by sharing music files via a Discord server called the AI Hub.

According to Torrentfreak, the AI Hub on Discord is "a thriving community that opens the door to lots of AI-related content" including "voice models of major musicians such as Bruno Mars, Frank Sinatra, Rihanna and Stevie Wonder".

The RIAA seemingly first raised concerns about content and data being shared via that Discord server back in May. It requested that Discord remove or disable the server, as well as specific files or links that it reckoned infringed its record label members' copyrights.

It also asked Discord to inform the people operating the server and uploading allegedly infringing content to it of "the illegality of their conduct".

Torrentfreak reports that Discord has removed some of the specific links identified by the RIAA, but that the AI Hub server at large continues to operate.

While the labels may well be concerned that the AI Hub is helping facilitate the unlicensed training of music-making AI tools - including those that create tracks imitating the voices of pop stars - the RIAA's specific complaint seemingly relates to the sharing of data-sets via the server which include unlicensed music files.

The AI Hub's own rules actually don't allow such data-sets to be shared via the forum anyway, so its administrators presumably won't mind if the content identified by the RIAA is removed.

As for the subpoena, it demands that Discord identifies the individuals who posted the messages targeted by the RIAA's takedown request.

Although not going into any detail about its legal action in this domain, the RIAA told Torrentfreak: "The creative community supports AI that is ethical, follows the law and respects creators' rights. But when those who seek to profit from AI train their systems on unauthorised content, it undermines the entire music ecosystem - harming creators, fans and responsible developers alike".

"This action", the trade group added, "seeks to help ensure that lawless systems that exploit the life's work of artists without consent cannot and do not become the future of AI".


Warner Music acquires stake in Hungarian label Magneoton
Warner Music has taken a stake in Hungarian record label Magneoton, building on an existing licensing partnership and ramping up the major's presence in the country.

It's not the first time Warner has had an ownership interest in Magneoton, which was originally founded by artist László Pásztor and manager István Joós. The major acquired the indie back in 1993 and for the following decade it operated as Warner Music Hungary.

A management buyout in 2004 resulted in Magneoton becoming an independent record company once again. Though it subsequently formed another alliance with Warner in 2010, after which it represented the major's international catalogue within the Hungarian market.

In more recent years Magneoton has also added management, live and digital divisions to its business. With the latest deal with Warner, it is now working with the major on signing and distributing a new roster of local talent.

Releases under that partnership include the Lotfi Begi and Cecilia Gault collaboration 'Heartbreak', which was released earlier this year, and 'Heaven' by Stadiumx, Sam Martin and Azahriah, which is out today.

Says Warner Music South East Europe General Manager Izabela Ciszek-Podziemska: "This latest phase in our relationship with Magneoton marks a significant return to Hungary by Warner Music. While Magneoton will continue to act as a licensee for our international repertoire, we'll now also be working together to discover great Hungarian artists and take their music to the world".

And Magneoton General Manager Noemi Virag Csontos adds: "Magneoton and Warner Music have a rich history of working together and producing incredible results for our acts. This deal highlights our commitment to breaking Hungarian artists internationally, while giving local fans unparalleled access to music from some of the world's biggest stars".


BMG announces deal around Paul Simon's recordings
BMG has acquired a "substantial stake" in the work of Paul Simon, basically buying his royalty and remuneration rights in relation to the Simon & Garfunkel recordings.

The music rights firm says it has purchased Simon's "royalty income in Simon & Garfunkel recordings as well as his neighbouring rights income". The latter refers to the performer's share of income that stems from the broadcast or public performance of Simon's recordings, which usually flows in through the collective licensing system.

Confirming the deal, BMG's President Of Repertoire & Marketing in LA and New York, Thomas Scherer, says: "In any list of the true greats, Paul Simon stands as one of the pillars of popular music history. We will play our part to ensure his music continues to be honoured and respected".

BMG CEO-designate Thomas Coesfeld adds: "We are delighted to have secured the agreement of Paul Simon for BMG to acquire his royalty interests in Simon & Garfunkel recordings and his neighbouring rights income. This is a significant transaction. Our ability to secure this deal demonstrates once again that BMG provides the best home for the greatest artists".


Musicians' Union urges music community to get behind Brixton Hill Studios as it faces closure
The UK's Musicians' Union has urged artists, musicians and others to formally express their support for the Brixton Hill Studios, which is facing closure due to what has been described as an "astronomical rent rise".

The union suggests that people - and especially anyone that has made use of the facilities at the South London studio complex - write to the local MP for the part of London where the studios are based, Bell Ribeiro-Addy.

In a blog post earlier this month, the team behind Brixton Hill Studios said: "It's with the heaviest of hearts that we write to you confirming that South London's favourite 'playground' for adults is being threatened with closure at the end of the summer".

Noting that the studios have offered a recording and rehearsal space for the South London music community for nearly ten years - and that the facility even managed to survive the various COVID lockdowns - the blog post added: "Unfortunately the one thing we can not compete with is an astronomical rent rise".

The blog post also confirmed that the studios have just four months left to run on their lease. Which means even management can find an alternative location with affordable rent, there will inevitably be some down time. "It's a big old job to dismantle and rebuild somewhere else", the blog post went on. "We only have four months in which to find somewhere suitable that is also within budget and sustainable for the next ten to 20 years".

The MU yesterday stated that: "The closure of the studios would be a significant blow to the artistic community, as access to spaces for cultural enrichment is crucial for the well-being and creative expression of artists in Brixton and the wider capital. The studio has long-served as a thriving hub for musicians, providing a nurturing environment for collaboration, experimentation and talent development".

It added: "Sadly, Brixton Hill Studios is not an isolated case. Similar spaces throughout the capital have either closed their doors or are currently under the threat of closure due to exorbitant rent increases or the looming threat of redevelopment into luxury apartments and living spaces. This trend poses a serious risk to the artistic ecosystem, stifling the growth of emerging talent and limiting the availability of affordable resources for musicians".

A template letter provided by the MU that musicians are urged to sent to Ribeiro-Addy asks the MP to "offer your support and guidance in helping the studios to retain their home until a suitable venue is found for them so they can continue providing a much needed service to the community. With under four months until their lease ends it does not give them very much time in which to relocate and rebuild".

Commenting on the campaign to save the studios, the MU's National Organiser For Live, Theatre And Music Writers, Kelly Wood, says: "We are deeply concerned about the impending closure of Brixton Hill Studios, a renowned and beloved cultural institution that serves as a vital part of the music industry and infrastructure".

"This studio", she adds, "holds immense significance for musicians, providing a supportive ecosystem where many artists forge meaningful connections and cultivate creative collaborations".

"We must proactively safeguard our venues and studios against escalating rent increases", she concludes, "and prioritise the protection of these valuable spaces, which are essential for enabling artistic expression and fostering a vibrant creative community".


New EU-backed funding scheme aims to "nurture a more diverse and sustainable music sector in Europe"
A new pan-European initiative has launched, co-funded by the European Union, which aims to, and I quote, "nurture a more diverse and sustainable music sector in Europe".

Around €4 million of grants will be made available to 90 music companies and organisations, with three areas of focus: music export, music venues and digital engagement.

Organisers of the scheme, which is called LIVEMX, say that the programme is "designed to address very specific needs within the European music ecosystem".

With three rounds of funding planned, music professionals will be encouraged - organisers add - "to take a leading role to respond to immediate challenges of the sector. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges such as cross-border mobility of musicians and sustainability in the industry require a vision that involves all stakeholders".

The initiative is being led by Live DMA, the pan-European organisation for the live music sector; EMEE, which brings together music export offices from across Europe; and consultancy business INOVA+.

They plan to initially undertake some research to inform how the LIVEMX scheme will work, with the first call for funding applications due to begin later this year.


Economics Of Music Streaming interviews and timeline
The UK government's economics of music streaming projects - instigated following Parliament's big inquiry into the workings of the digital music sector - continue. The aim is to address some of the issues raised during that inquiry.

Earlier this month we spoke to representatives from eight of the music industry organisations that have been very much involved in that work.

Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum, told us: "All three areas of work are important - transparency, data and remuneration - but the ultimate focus has to be on the fair remuneration of artists and other music-makers. It's a long journey but we've finally got to the government agreeing to convene a working group on remuneration, which sounds really boring but which is actually a landmark move. This is the UK government overseeing an industry discussion around fair pay to try to reach an agreement". Read the full interview with Coldrick here.

Meanwhile Sophie Jones, Chief Strategy Officer + Interim CEO at BPI, said: "The IPO-led process has provided an opportunity for stakeholders to interrogate the concerns raised during the Select Committee process and create an independent evidence base to inform further discussions. Excellent progress has been made on metadata in terms of codifying good practice that can be actioned now by everyone in the value chain. We are also working with the IPO to finalise a code of practice on transparency, an industry first, and a great collaborative effort from all participants".Read the full interview with Jones here.

You can track all of CMU's coverage of the UK Parliament's streaming inquiry, and the subsequent government-led work and other relevant debates, on this CMU Timeline in the CMU Library.


Paul McCartney confirms nothing "artificial" about upcoming AI-assisted Beatles release
Paul McCartney has clarified what he meant when he said that a final Beatles record has been created "using AI", which will be released later this year.

It was in an interview with the BBC earlier this month that McCartney mentioned that the magic of artificial intelligence was being employed to create one more Beatles track. That resulted in plenty of chatter to the effect that maybe an AI version of John Lennon was going to be recording some new vocals.

That said, it was pretty clear what McCartney meant in that interview. After all, he also talked about how during the production of Peter Jackson's 'Get Back' documentary - about the making of the Beatles' 1970 album 'Let It Be' - Jackson's team had used technology to pull clean vocals off old tapes, separating the voices of each band member from any background noise.

Plenty of production techniques of this kind are now getting bundled under the AI banner. And then, the minute anyone says "AI", we all get to assume that we're talking about dead pop stars recording new vocals via the wonders of artificial intelligence.

Anyway, it seems that it's the kind of "AI" process used by Jackson's team that has helped turn an old Lennon demo track into an upcoming release. So don't be going around suggesting anything otherwise, OK?

"Been great to see such an exciting response to our forthcoming Beatles project", Macca wrote on Twitter yesterday. "No one is more excited than us to be sharing something with you later in the year".

However, he added, "we've seen some confusion and speculation about it. Seems to be a lot of guess work out there. Can't say too much at this stage but to be clear, nothing has been artificially or synthetically created. It's all real and we all play on it. We cleaned up some existing recordings - a process which has gone on for years".

"We hope you love it as much as we do", he concluded, before promising "more news in due course".


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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