|WEDNESDAY 28 JUNE 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Kanye West has formally responded to an unauthorised sample lawsuit filed against him late last year which claimed that his track 'Life Of The Party' sampled Boogie Down Productions track 'South Bronx' without licence. Seeking to get said lawsuit dismissed, West's team cite the Bible's Tenth Commandment before getting down to more routine copyright arguments around fair use and ownership... [READ MORE]|
Kanye West hits back at Life Of The Party sample lawsuit
West and his business partners were sued by a company called Phase One Network last November, which says that it controls the rights in 'South Bronx', the lead single from 'Criminal Minded', the 1987 debut album from the KRS-One-led Boogie Down Productions.
The plaintiff claimed that it had been approached by West's team in July 2021 when the rapper was busy working on his 'Donda' album, on which 'Life Of The Party' sort of appeared. Talks about licensing a 'South Bronx' sample began but were never concluded, meaning that no deal was ever done.
The release of 'Life Of The Party' in the summer of 2021 was somewhat complicated. It was initially cut from 'Donda' at the request of guest artist Andre 3000. The verse he'd contributed was quite sweary, but then West decided he wanted a swear-free album, and Andre 3000 didn't feel his verse would work with the swearing edited out.
The track also featured a Drake-dissing verse by West, because he and Drake were doing the feuding thing at the time. Drake then somehow got hold of a copy of the track and played it on his 'Sound 42' Sirius XM radio show.
After that unofficial airing, the track popped up on the Stem Player device that West was promoting. And after that, it was added to a deluxe edition of 'Donda' and released as a single.
However, West claims in his new legal filing, a different version of the track appeared on 'Donda (Deluxe)', and that version doesn't contain the 'South Bronx' sample.
"'Thou shall not covet' has been an admonition followed since the dawn of civilisation", West's legal filing begins, for some reason. "Unfortunately, in the modern world of business, this admonition is not always followed".
"Indeed", it goes on, "the plaintiff in this action for copyright infringement would have this court believe that coveting is rampant in the music business, and for that reason, its legal conclusion here, should be enforced. The conduct of plaintiff herein, however, violates not only the Tenth Commandment, but also the spirit behind the copyright laws of this country".
The filing then waffles on for a couple of paragraphs about copyright law, which, you know, is at least relevant to the case. And then it confirms that: "Ye defendants will clarify that Ye's released version of 'Life Of The Party' currently appears on his 2021 album 'Donda (Deluxe)' and does not sample 'South Bronx' at all".
And while the earlier version or versions did have the sample, West basically says that neither he nor his companies can be held responsible for the leaking of the original version by Drake on his radio show, or the subsequent use of the now-leaked track on social media posts.
He also reckons that he isn't responsible for the track appearing on the Stem player, even though he was heavily promoting the device at the time.
And yes, he did use the sample, without permission, during the creative process of making 'Life Of The Party'. However, he argues, such usage is fair use under US copyright law, which means no permission was required.
Elsewhere in the legal filing, West's team also questions the ownership status of 'South Bronx', and whether Phase One Network even has the right to sue for infringement.
In that section, the lawyers also cite the 2006 documentary 'The Art Of 16 Bars' in which KRS-One himself says: "I give to all MCs my entire catalogue. You will not get sued if you sample a KRS-One record or do an interpolation of my lyrics, anything. My entire catalogue is open to the public".
Now, whether or not that would constitute a binding legal agreement is debatable, even if it could be shown KRS-One controlled the copyrights in his musical output and was therefore able to make such a pledge. But, you know, that quote is still much more relevant to the case than the Tenth Commandment.
It remains to be seen how the courts now respond. Phase One Network also named West's former label partner Universal Music and the maker of the Stem Player, Kano Computing, as defendants in the litigation.
However they, like most of West's business partners, broke ties with the rapper last year as he started courting ever more controversy through his much-documented series of racist and antisemitic statements.
When the Phase One Network lawsuit was filed in November, Kano Computing told Rolling Stone that: "The Kano and Stem team were assured by Kanye and Yeezy that they would provide music with 'all intellectual property rights, licences and consents'. This was important to us, because Stem is built from the ground up to be a more fair and immersive medium than the current music business".
Pulse Music Group and Concord collaborate on new label
In a joint statement, Pulse co-CEOs Scott Cutler and Josh Abraham say: "We have been looking to grow our Pulse Music Group brand into the records space for a while now. Given our background as producers and songwriters in our own right, we bring a unique perspective to working in the label space - but we knew we had to get our footing right".
"Now with the fifteen year success of our publishing division", they continue, "we are surrounded by the very best in emerging talent and a highly curated roster. With Pulse Records we will continue to set a very high artistic bar. In addition to launching emerging talent, we have plans to work with artists that helped to redefine genres with whom we have created very strong relationships over the years that will soon be coming out of their existing deals".
The new label will operate as part of the Concord Label Group, utilising its distribution partnership with Universal Music. It will be headed up by both Cutler and Abraham along with the firm's Head Of Creative Ashley Calhoun.
Confirming things on the Concord side, its incoming CEO Bob Valentine says: "Scott, Josh, Ashley and the team at Pulse have been a great collaborator with Concord in publishing some of the highest charting songs in the world".
"Globally recognised as one of the leading frontline creative teams and first-class incubators for culturally relevant music", he goes on, "Pulse Music Group is a company that Concord continues to greatly admire, and we couldn't ask for more exceptional business partners as we work to launch Pulse Records".
Viagogo MD defends the ticket resale business again, but admits snubbing MPs was an error
Although he does admit that snubbing the culture select committee in the UK Parliament when it was investigating the secondary ticketing market a few years back was a mistake.
Cris Miller has spoken to both the Daily Telegraph and City AM, perhaps aware that, with the upper end of the live sector - where ticket touting is most common and most controversial - pretty much back to normal post-pandemic, ticket resale is becoming a talking point again.
While the UK government doesn't currently seem in any mood to further regulate secondary ticketing in the short term, campaigners within the music community remain vocal.
And regulation is increasing - or being better enforced - in some other countries. That includes the US, where secondary ticketing has traditionally been less controversial, but where demands for tighter regulation are now becoming more prolific.
Platforms like Viagogo - and especially Viagogo - have long been criticised for facilitating industrial-level ticket touts, who hoover up tickets for in-demand events and then sell them on at a significant markup.
The platforms have also been criticised for their own conduct; for using language that heavily implies people are buying from official sellers; for covering up the high fees until the final stage of a purchase; and for allegedly making it hard to get a refund when a touted ticket doesn't get the buyer entry to a show.
Miller would likely argue that, in terms of Viagogo, a number of those issues have been addressed in more recent years. Which is true. Though usually because the company was forced by regulators to drop the more anti-consumer practices.
In the UK, it was the Competition & Markets Authority that enforced the regulations that were designed to address some of the issues raised by anti-touting campaigners.
In his interview with the Telegraph, Miller says that his company has "engaged" with the CMA a lot over the last five years and, as a result, "it's a much different, more mature, business". For example, he adds, all-in prices are now advertised on the Viagogo platform with no hidden fees that are only declared at the final stage of a purchase.
In both the interviews, Miller relies on two of the defences that the secondary ticketing companies have always employed.
First, that plenty of tickets are sold by touts at below face value in addition to those with massive markups. And secondly, if tickets weren't resold via platforms like Viagogo, they'd be sold on websites and forums with few consumer protections, where outright fraud would become rampant.
"If you look at the UK, prior to us launching the service, it was catastrophic", Miller says. "I mean, there were scams all over the place, and there are bad actors that will take advantage of people". The aim of Viagogo, he insists, was to provide consumers who wanted access to ticket resale with a "good alternative" to buying from potentially risky websites.
Although these arguments have all been made plenty of times over the years, Viagogo famously chose not to make them in front of MPs on the culture select committee when they were investigating issues around secondary ticketing in 2017 and 2018.
"We got that one wrong", Miller says. "When you look back on that, you know, we were pretty naive. [We] didn't really understand it".
"[We were] Americans that came over and started the business", he goes on, "and didn't appreciate the sort of opportunity that it was to be able to explain how the service worked and answer the questions. Looking back on that, we got that one wrong, and we apologise for that".
Dice adds group bookings feature to help friends organise gig-going
Dice explains that "Groups aims to take the hassle out of the planning required to see artists and shows. It's a one-stop shop for fans to discover events, find people to go with by recommending shows directly to friends, and buy tickets as a group. Groups helps facilitate more ticket purchases, creating higher turnouts to support the artists and venues".
The company adds that, in a recent survey of over 1000 music fans, 95% of those who said they were going out less now than before the COVID pandemic confirmed that they would like to attend more shows. 28% stated that one thing stopping that from happening was figuring out who to go with to any one event. Dice hopes the new feature will help address that issue.
Says Dice President Russ Tannen: "We've all made unforgettable shared memories and found our communities at shows - it shouldn't feel like work to arrange your next night out. Dice's mission from day one has been to get people out more. We're proud to constantly innovate with fan-first features like Groups that make it easier than ever to enjoy live shows with your friends".
SiriusXM to close the Stitcher podcast app
An update on the Stitcher website posted yesterday declares that: "SiriusXM, the owner of Stitcher, is focused on incorporating podcasts into its flagship SiriusXM subscription business. Subscribers can listen to podcasts within the SiriusXM app and will see an all-new listening experience later this year".
The same update notes that "all podcasts on Stitcher can also be found anywhere else podcasts are distributed". And, for those users who have put work into organising their podcast subscriptions via the Stitcher platform, there are then instructions for how to export the relevant data into other podcast apps.
Stitcher was originally launched in 2008. It was then acquired by Deezer in 2014, which sold it on to the media firm EW Scripps Co in 2016, which in turn merged it with an ad network that it already owned, Midroll Media. Sirius then bought that combined business, which also included a podcast production division, in 2020.
The advertising and production sides of Stitcher have now been fully integrated with the accompanying divisions of Sirius XM, which means - the company says - the shutdown of the standalone Stitcher app won't result in any job losses.
The Stitcher app also had a premium option which included access to some exclusive programmes. Those are expected to continue to be available, both within Sirius XM and probably elsewhere, though the company says that the hosts and creators of those podcasts will ultimately decide on the future availability of their output, and listeners are advised to follow said hosts on social media.
The latest moves at SiriusXM follow the recent rejig and downsizing of podcasting operations over at Spotify, which has also been seeking to better integrate companies and technologies it previously acquired into its core business and platform.
Lewis Capaldi cancels all tour dates to focus on his health
Earlier this month, Capaldi cancelled several dates in the UK and Europe, saying that he needed time to "rest and recover" in order "to be at my best and ready for Glastonbury". During a well-received performance at the festival on Saturday, the musician nonetheless visibly experienced 'ticks' as a result of his Tourettes syndrome - with which he was diagnosed last year - and later in the set began to lose his voice.
In a statement posted to social media yesterday, he told fans: "The fact that this probably won't come as a surprise doesn't make it any easier to write, but I'm very sorry to let you know I'm going to be taking a break from touring for the foreseeable future".
"I used to be able to enjoy every second of shows like this and I'd hoped three weeks away would sort me out", he continued. "But the truth is I'm still learning to adjust to the impact of my Tourette's and on Saturday it became obvious that I need to spend much more time getting my mental and physical health in order, so I can keep doing everything I love for a long time to come".
He noted that he is "incredibly fortunate to be able to take some time out when others can't", and added: "I'm so incredibly sorry to everyone who had planned to come to a show before the end of the year but I need to feel well to perform at the standard you all deserve. Playing for you every night is all I've ever dreamed of so this has been the most difficult decision of my life. I'll be back as soon as I possibly can".
The cancellations include Capaldi's sets at the Reading and Leeds festivals in August. Organisers of those events said in a statement: "We're gutted that Lewis Capaldi won't be performing at R&L this year, but health comes first and we wish him a speedy recovery".
They added that they are "working hard to book a replacement", telling ticket holders to "stay tuned".
Tribute acts protest Facebook and Instagram policies on impersonators
They were protesting against Facebook and Instagram policies that ban people from impersonating others on the two social media platforms, which have seemingly been having a negative impact on tribute acts of late.
The protestors - which also included Freddie Mercury, George Michael and Shania Twain impersonators - all say that they have had their accounts deleted by Facebook and Instagram, which in turn negatively impacted their ability to earn an income from their acts.
While the protestors argue that Meta's social media platforms are outright "banning" tribute acts, the company insists that is not, in fact, the case.
Instead, some tribute acts have been falling foul of policies and systems that are designed to stop people from maliciously impersonating celebrities and other public figures on the Facebook and Instagram platforms. The implementation of those systems has led to the accounts of some tribute acts being blocked by mistake, Meta admits.
Dolly Parton impersonator Kelly O'Brien told the BBC: "We started a campaign three months ago. We had a little bit of interest from Meta, promising that they would take care of all of our accounts. Some of us got our accounts back, but yet again we've been banned. It just keeps happening over and over and over".
Madeleine Roberts - who performs as Shania Twain - added: "You build up this following and it's all just gone. You can't promote your shows, people can't get in touch with you [who] come to see you".
Responding to the protest, a spokesperson for Meta says: "We've always allowed tribute acts on Facebook and Instagram, and we know our platforms play an important role in helping these communities connect with fans".
"Our technology sometimes makes mistakes and we've reinstated a number of pages and accounts that were wrongly removed for impersonation", they go on. "We understand how frustrating this can be, which is why we encourage tribute acts to make it clear in their bio or profile that they're not the real individual".
As noted there, Meta insists that tribute acts clearly stating that they are not the artist they are impersonating on their Facebook or Instagram profiles should stop any mistaken blocking of their accounts.
And if that doesn't work, maybe they could try employing the technique long used by tribute acts to communicate their impersonation status - the shit pun performing name. I offer you ShaNOa Twain, Fakie Mercury, Taylor Quick, Dolly Part-non, Brit-nay Spears, George Mightnotactuallybehimatall and Adull at no charge.