Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Jay Z's Tidal in Hot Water for Streaming Prince's Music


Written by Steve Karnowski, Associated Press — Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by rap mogul Jay Z, tried but failed to get chosen to manage Prince's musical assets in the weeks after the rock superstar's death, according to court documents released Tuesday.

The documents stem from a dispute between Prince's record company and Jay Z's music streaming service Tidal, which is playing out in both state and federal court in Minnesota.

The trust company overseeing Prince's estate says the dispute belongs only in federal court, where PRN Records is suing Roc Nation for copyright infringement for making a large part of Prince's catalog available to its subscribers. A closed hearing is set for Thursday in Carver County probate court.

After Prince Rogers Nelson died of an accidental painkiller overdose in April, the court appointed Bremer Trust to run his estate. The company then solicited requests for proposals for managing his music to generate cash.

The documents show Roc Nation, founded in 2008 by Shawn "Jay Z" Carter, submitted a proposal in May. That proposal, marked "Proprietary and Confidential," pitched Roc Nation as an "artists first" endeavor that would protect his artistic vision. It noted that Prince had already given Tidal rights to stream some of his recent work.

"Mr. Nelson spoke openly with Mr. Carter about the future of his music, and the future of the music industry overall," said the letter, signed by Roc Nation CEO Jay Brown. "Mr. Nelson's point of view on art, protecting rights and advocating for social good were directly aligned with those of Mr. Carter. He confided in and entrusted Mr. Carter and Roc Nation with his most prized possession, his creative expression."

However, Bremer Trust in June instead chose L. Londell McMillan, Prince's longtime attorney, manager and friend, and business executive Charles Koppelman to manage Prince's music.

Since then, a dispute has been brewing between the two sides over how Tidal is streaming Prince's music. Bremer Trust acknowledged that an Aug. 1, 2015, agreement, which remains sealed, gave Tidal the right to stream a new Prince studio album, "Hit n Run Phase One." However, the trust company alleges in court filings, Tidal in June began streaming many Prince albums without permission.

According to an October letter to the judge by Roc Nation attorney Rodney Mason, Prince and NPG "granted Roc Nation the exclusive rights to stream the Artist's vast and historic catalogue of master recordings and musical compositions exclusively on the TIDAL service. It was no secret that the Artist did not like competing streaming services and was publicly vocal in support of granting exclusive rights to TIDAL ... and there are many documents which support the parties' agreement to the same."

Bremer Trust disputes that. In a brief dated Monday, attorney Katherine Moerke wrote that the only agreement it knows of between Prince or his companies with Roc Nation or any of its affiliates covered only "Hit n Run Phase One." Roc Nation has failed to produce any other agreements despite several requests and a subpoena, she wrote. Roc Nation also has not responded to a request for an accounting of any payments, she wrote, suggesting that it still owes the estate royalties.

Moerke and Mason did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment Tuesday. Roc Nation has not formally responded to the copyright lawsuit, which NPG filed last month.

Click here to read more from this article's source.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

UMG posts Biggest Annual revenues yet lose market shares


Written by Tim Ingham — As MBW pointed out the other week, Universal Music Group is on course to post its biggest annual revenues since Vivendi acquired it a decade ago.

That’s obviously great news for Sir Lucian Grainge and his management team, but it doesn’t mean the company’s performance in 2016 entirely escapes scrutiny.

UMG parent Vivendi recently fielded questions from analysts about its music business… with its global market share put under the microscope.

MBW calculated in September that, on a global revenue basis, Universal’s recorded music market share had dipped by around 1% in the first six months of this year – a fall cushioned by Sony’s income suffering from the strong Japanese Yen.

Meanwhile, Hits Daily Double recently reported that UMG lost 3.8% US recordings market share in the first six months of 2016 in terms of all albums (including TEA).

In terms of frontline market share in the same period, concluded Hits, Universal lost 5% share year-on-year.

As you can see below, Sony, Warner and the independent sector all gained share in the same period.





Speaking to Vivendi on November 9, analyst Julien Roch from Barclays Capital suggested that UMG appeared to have lost global market share points in each of its past five quarters.

He asked the French media empire’s top bosses to explain UMG’s “fifth quarter of under-performance in a row”.

Obviously, one reason for UMG ceding ground to its competitors in this period is its release slate: the business has not released albums from many of its big hitting artists in 2016 – including Taylor Swift, Sam Smith and Katy Perry.

In addition, albums from the likes of Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Rihanna have been disrupted by exclusive streaming agreements.

However, Roch pushed Vivendi on the point – noting that UMG’s market share slip “has to be [down] to more than the release schedule”.

Vivendi CFO Herve Philippe responded that the French company monitors the market share of UMG “very closely” every month.

“Specific events not positive for Universal Music in 2016 are both the death of David Bowie and Prince, which benefited, I would say… which benefited other labels,” he commented.

“So we will see what will be the market share in the coming quarter, but this is something we are looking at clearly.”

Obviously, it’s not the deaths of Bowie and Prince per se that Philippe is referring to, but rather the jump in sales of both artists’ catalogues triggered by their passing.

The recorded music catalogue of both artists is managed by Warner Music Group.

The Bowie EMI catalogue formed part of Parlophone Label Group, which was acquired by WMG subsequent to UMG’s historic buyout of EMI in 2012.

The point about Bowie and Prince’s deaths was backed up by Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

“Market share doesn’t always show the whole picture,” he commented. “Quality of the revenue is just as important.

“If you take for instance in the US, UMG has had [the] top four most streamed albums year-to-date, through September with Drake, Rihanna, Justin Bieber [and] Kanye West.

“If you take in the UK, we had seven of the top 10 singles, led by Calum Scott – number two – and, within the UK, UMG had the biggest selling album of the quarter with Drake.”

He added: “It’s clear to say that the market has had an impact from the passing of Prince and David Bowie, which benefited the market share of a competitor.

“But we are tracking the evolution of [UMG’s] market share [and] we don’t see [its decline] as an ongoing trend.

“There are some special kind of reasons why it is what it is… We still are committed to grow market share again to reinforce our position as No.1 in the industry, but to do that in a way that is going to be based on profitable growth.”

De Puyfontaine makes a fair point on profitable growth: MBW calculates that UMG’s profit margin in the first nine months of this year is greater than at any point since Lucian Grainge took over as CEO and Chairman in 2011.

However, it’s perhaps a little unfair – although hardly surprising – that the Vivendi boss failed to mention the commercially significant performance of Universal’s rivals this year.

Sony Music Entertainment standouts have included The Chainsmokers, Solange, Beyonce and Adele (who, outside The Americas, would have also boost the independents’ market share significantly).

Over at Warner Music Group, major 2016 successes have included Twenty One Pilots (pictured), the Hamilton OST, Lukas Graham and Coldplay.

Click here to read more from this article's source.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Atlanta music industry recoils at recording studio ordinance


Written by Doug Richards, WXIA — Some in Atlanta’s music industry are angry about about a proposed ordinance that would restrict music recording studios in the city. But the ordinance’s sponsor say it’s designed to curb incidents of violence that have taken place around a handful of studios in the last few years.

Maze Studios is accustomed to making a racket inside its century-old brick building in Atlanta’s Edgewood neighborhood. But outside, its owner Ben Allen says it is all but invisible to the surrounding neighborhood of single-family homes and apartments.

"It’s not really disruptive to the community at all because nobody knows that we’re here, which is how we like it," Allen told 11Alive's Doug Richards Friday. "Most studios are designed to keep a low profile. We don’t want anyone disturbing us and we don’t want to disturb anyone else."

But a few Atlanta studios have been at the center of some violent disputes that have raised their profile – and drawn the attention of a proposed ordinance. It would require new recording studios to stay 500 feet away from residential areas – and to get special use permits from the city.

"(It's) So that you don’t have a conflict between the studio and the neighborhood," said city councilwoman Felicia Moore, who is sponsoring the ordinance. "This is for both of them, for the recording industry and the community, so that they can both co-exsist and operate."

But Allen, who won a Grammy for producing a Gnarls Barkley record a decade ago, thinks the ordinance would harm Atlanta’s music industry. He thinks the government should encourage, rather than dissuade new studios.

"It may be a legitimate problem, but it’s not a problem here," Allen said. "And it’s not a problem at most of the studios in Atlanta, and I could show you a list of twenty other studios in town that don’t have these kinds of problems."

Moore agrees most studios are problem-free. She says a special use permit would give the city leverage to shut down studios where trouble occurs.

Click here to read more from this article's source.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Have Radiohead and Streaming Services Kissed and Made Up?


2011’s "Supercollider / The Butcher" is on streaming services now

Written by Matthew Strauss — Earlier this year, a great deal of Radiohead’s music vanished from streaming services. The move was part of a streamlining effort when the band’s back catalog was transferred from Parlophone to XL. Slowly, their songs started to reappear–some music appearing on the sites for the first time. A Moon Shaped Pool has been on streaming platforms, and In Rainbows (as well as its bonus disc) later followed. Last week, a pair of 2009 tracks were put on Spotify and Apple Music. Now, the band’s 2011 single “Supercollider / The Butcher” is available to stream; hear the tracks below.

The appearance of any Radiohead music on Spotify, in particular, has been a bit of a revelation, given Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich’s comments about the service. In 2013, they pulled their music from Spotify, which Yorke called "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse."

Click here to read more from this article's source.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

'We Shall Overcome' Copyright Case Pushes On


Written by Eriq Gardner — A group of plaintiffs have overcome the first major hurdle in a lawsuit that aims to establish that the unofficial anthem to the Civil Rights Movement is not really under copyright protection. On Monday, a New York federal judge rejected a publisher's bid to dismiss, ruling that the plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that lyrics in the first verse of "We Shall Overcome" were copied from material in the public domain and that there's been a fraud on the U.S. Copyright Office.

The lawsuit was filed in April by the same legal team that got Warner/Chappell to back off from ownership claims over "Happy Birthday to You." The production company behind Lee Daniels' The Butler later joined the "We Shall Overcome" lawsuit as a co-plaintiff after being told by the publisher that to use the song as it wished in the film would require a $100,000 payment.

The defendants in the lawsuit are The Richmond Organization and Ludlow Music, which have retained commercial control of the song since copyright registrations were made in the early 1960s.

At the time of the registration, according to the plaintiffs, the song had already largely been in circulation as an African-American spiritual used as a protest song by striking tobacco workers. Pete Seeger, the legendary folk singer, had already founded an organization called People Songs, Inc., which had published a periodical that in 1946 included the entire musical composition with authorship credited to the FTA-CIO Workers Highlander Students.

Over the years, the words of the hymn changed and new verses were added. By 1959, the song was distributed on phonographs, and the following year, Ludlow filed for a registration for an "unpublished derivative work," crediting the wife of a member on PSI's advisory committee as well as a couple of other folk singers with authorship. Seeger would later record his own copyrighted version of the song in 1963.

Seeger would explain decades later the reason for seeking a copyright: "In the early '60s, our publishers said to us, 'If you don’t copyright this now, some Hollywood types will have a version out next year like, 'Come on Baby, We shall overcome tonight.'”

In defense of the lawsuit, Ludlow Music and the Richmond Organization asserted that the copyrighted version was sufficiently original to merit protection.

U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote writes in her opinion that the plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged otherwise to survive a motion to dismiss.

"The copyrighted work differs from the 1948 version by only three words: (1) 'we’ll' for 'I’ll'; (2) 'shall' for 'will'; and (3) 'deep' for 'down,'" her opinion states. "The Plaintiffs have also plausibly alleged that the individuals listed on the 1960 copyright registration are not the authors of the changes that were made to the three words in the Song’s first verse. If they are not the authors, the Defendants cannot claim copyright protection. The Plaintiffs allege that the author of the underlying work is unknown, that it is unclear who changed 'will' to 'shall,' and that a Black tobacco worker named Lucille Simmons changed 'I' to 'We.' Simmons is not listed as an author in the application to register the copyright for the Song."

Cote adds, "The Defendants’ arguments to the contrary are unavailing. The Defendants’ argument that the copyright registrations are entitled to a presumption of validity does not compel dismissal of the claims. A certificate of registration does constitute prima facie evidence of the validity of a copyright."

It's also decided that more fact-finding will be required to figure out whether the defendants "deliberately omitted" from the copyright application all antecedents of their allegedly protected song and whether there was a sufficient basis for listing the authors being credited on the registration.

"These allegations of fraud are sufficiently specific, and provide enough information from which to infer the requisite intent, to survive a motion to dismiss," continues Cote, who also rules that even if "We Shall Overcome" was properly copyrighted, plaintiffs have plausibly alleged the song was subsequently published without a copyright notice as required by the 1909 Copyright Act. In other words, the defendants may have divested their rights.

As a result of Monday's decision, The Richmond Organization and Ludlow Music will need to continue to fight for the song in court. Represented by attorney Paul LiCalsi, they've stressed to the public that royalties from the song are earmarked for the Highlander Research and Education Center to support art and research projects in the African-American community as well as the preservation of Civil Rights Movement documents.

Cote's decision wasn't a complete victory for the plaintiffs. The judge deems various asserted state law claims — money had and received, deceptive trade practices, breach of contract, rescission — as preempted by federal copyright law. The rejection of these claims could make it more difficult for the plaintiffs to collect substantial monetary damages outside of a settlement, though the plaintiffs' attorneys at Wolf Haldenstein have proven some deftness in their copyright-freeing pursuits.

Click here to read more from this article's source.

Monday, November 21, 2016

UMG posts Biggest Annual revenues yet lose market shares


Written by Tim Ingham — As MBW pointed out the other week, Universal Music Group is on course to post its biggest annual revenues since Vivendi acquired it a decade ago.

That’s obviously great news for Sir Lucian Grainge and his management team, but it doesn’t mean the company’s performance in 2016 entirely escapes scrutiny.

UMG parent Vivendi recently fielded questions from analysts about its music business… with its global market share put under the microscope.

MBW calculated in September that, on a global revenue basis, Universal’s recorded music market share had dipped by around 1% in the first six months of this year – a fall cushioned by Sony’s income suffering from the strong Japanese Yen.

Meanwhile, Hits Daily Double recently reported that UMG lost 3.8% US recordings market share in the first six months of 2016 in terms of all albums (including TEA).

In terms of frontline market share in the same period, concluded Hits, Universal lost 5% share year-on-year.

As you can see below, Sony, Warner and the independent sector all gained share in the same period.





Speaking to Vivendi on November 9, analyst Julien Roch from Barclays Capital suggested that UMG appeared to have lost global market share points in each of its past five quarters.

He asked the French media empire’s top bosses to explain UMG’s “fifth quarter of under-performance in a row”.

Obviously, one reason for UMG ceding ground to its competitors in this period is its release slate: the business has not released albums from many of its big hitting artists in 2016 – including Taylor Swift, Sam Smith and Katy Perry.

In addition, albums from the likes of Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Rihanna have been disrupted by exclusive streaming agreements.

However, Roch pushed Vivendi on the point – noting that UMG’s market share slip “has to be [down] to more than the release schedule”.

Vivendi CFO Herve Philippe responded that the French company monitors the market share of UMG “very closely” every month.

“Specific events not positive for Universal Music in 2016 are both the death of David Bowie and Prince, which benefited, I would say… which benefited other labels,” he commented.

“So we will see what will be the market share in the coming quarter, but this is something we are looking at clearly.”

Obviously, it’s not the deaths of Bowie and Prince per se that Philippe is referring to, but rather the jump in sales of both artists’ catalogues triggered by their passing.

The recorded music catalogue of both artists is managed by Warner Music Group.

The Bowie EMI catalogue formed part of Parlophone Label Group, which was acquired by WMG subsequent to UMG’s historic buyout of EMI in 2012.

The point about Bowie and Prince’s deaths was backed up by Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

“Market share doesn’t always show the whole picture,” he commented. “Quality of the revenue is just as important.

“If you take for instance in the US, UMG has had [the] top four most streamed albums year-to-date, through September with Drake, Rihanna, Justin Bieber [and] Kanye West.

“If you take in the UK, we had seven of the top 10 singles, led by Calum Scott – number two – and, within the UK, UMG had the biggest selling album of the quarter with Drake.”

He added: “It’s clear to say that the market has had an impact from the passing of Prince and David Bowie, which benefited the market share of a competitor.

“But we are tracking the evolution of [UMG’s] market share [and] we don’t see [its decline] as an ongoing trend.

“There are some special kind of reasons why it is what it is… We still are committed to grow market share again to reinforce our position as No.1 in the industry, but to do that in a way that is going to be based on profitable growth.”

De Puyfontaine makes a fair point on profitable growth: MBW calculates that UMG’s profit margin in the first nine months of this year is greater than at any point since Lucian Grainge took over as CEO and Chairman in 2011.

However, it’s perhaps a little unfair – although hardly surprising – that the Vivendi boss failed to mention the commercially significant performance of Universal’s rivals this year.

Sony Music Entertainment standouts have included The Chainsmokers, Solange, Beyonce and Adele (who, outside The Americas, would have also boost the independents’ market share significantly).

Over at Warner Music Group, major 2016 successes have included Twenty One Pilots (pictured), the Hamilton OST, Lukas Graham and Coldplay.

Click here to read more from this article's source.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why Some Music Biz Insiders Are (Almost) Optimistic About Donald Trump's Presidency


Written by Rob Levine — There may never have been a president more beloved by artists and the media business than Barack Obama, or a candidate who was criticized more vehemently by the same community than Donald Trump. Yet most policy executives believe that Obama was generally tough on the entertainment business -- and that Trump might be good for it.

“Obama was bad for music and copyright because he was very close to Google,” says a Washington, D.C., insider. “The hope is that Trump will be better.”

Few entertainment business lobbyists, who generally tend to be Democrats or moderate Republicans, had much enthusiasm for Trump’s victory, and they spoke cautiously in the days following the election. But several say it presents an unexpected opportunity to regain their influence over the debate about copyright -- the biggest issue by far for music companies -- from such technology firms as Google, owner of YouTube, which favor looser protections. Generally speaking, the Obama administration promoted policies that favored tech at the expense of the media and entertainment sectors, including the Department of Justice’s effort to make ASCAP and BMI engage in 100 percent licensing and the Federal Communication Commission’s push to open the market for cable boxes.

“We hope that a new administration will be more fair to songwriters and will reduce the influence of massive tech companies like Google, who have had a stronghold in Washington,” says National Music Publishers’ Association CEO David Israelite.

At this early stage, not much is certain -- Trump hasn’t taken a position on copyright, let alone many of the specific issues that affect the music business. But there are solid indications that he would support strong intellectual property laws: He criticized China in an August speech for the “rampant theft of intellectual property,” and many of Trump’s businesses involve licensing -- and trumpeting -- his name, which is protected by trademark law for some commercial uses.

And while not a part of his policy toward media companies, Trump’s tax plan ironically would help some of the artists and music executives who loudly protested against his candidacy. The Tax Policy Center has estimated that households in the top 0.1 percent, which have incomes of more than $3.7 million, would pay almost 15 percent less in taxes, while most Americans would get a one or two percent cut.

Oddly for a president so beloved in the music business -- Obama speaks about music eloquently, has released Spotify playlists, and has hosted musicians of all ages and genres, from Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder to Chance the Rapper and Frank Ocean, at the White House -- music lobbyists say they got a cool reception from his administration. This could be due to the president’s unusually close relationship with Silicon Valley: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was a member of Obama’s transition team, Google execs visited the White House more than those from any other company, and several took jobs in the administration. (Media business lobbyists aren’t opposed to this ideologically, of course; they’d like the same relationships.)

If his campaign is any guide, Trump feels very differently. The president-elect has criticized Google as being biased against him (without any real evidence) and said, “Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise” (which is easier to argue, although Trump himself may have done the same). “Trump and technology companies aren’t friendly, so we don’t face the empathy that Obama had for Silicon Valley,” says a copyright lobbyist. “That’s an opening, although we don’t know where it will end up.”

Of course, those technology companies will continue to lobby as well. The transition of the Federal Trade Commission will be led by Joshua Wright, who received funding from Google for some academic papers involving antitrust law. And on Nov. 14, trade group The Internet Association, which represents dozens of companies including Google and Facebook, sent the president-elect an open letter that argued the Internet has flourished partly because limiting the liability of platform companies encourages economic growth and free speech. Such policies allow YouTube to host uploaded content without screening it, and -- music executives argue -- allow it to pay less for music than services like Spotify. The Copyright Office is currently studying the issue, although major changes to the law are unlikely.

Assuming that Trump delegates many policy issues to Republicans, music executives have reasons for optimism. The party’s platform, written with input from Trump’s team, states that patents are property rights -- and thus worthy of strong protection. Although Democrats have become identified with the entertainment business, copyright now gets as much or more support from Republicans. “Some of the politicians we wouldn’t have cocktails with are the people who treat us the best in Washington,” says a music executive. “A lot of Republicans are very strong on intellectual property."

Perhaps most significant, Trump’s transition team includes Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), one of the industry’s strongest champions in D.C. “If there's one thing we know for sure, it's that music is bipartisan and beloved by all,” RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the incoming Administration and members of Congress to help keep music as an integral part of people’s lives.”

Still, it’s too early to tell what will happen with some of the music industry’s major policy priorities, such as the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act, which would obligate terrestrial radio stations to pay for their use of sound recordings. No one knows whether the Justice Department will drop its appeal on the issue of 100 percent licensing, or what might happen to the expected plan from House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) for more comprehensive ­copyright reform. Right now, the music biz, like everyone else in the country, is waiting to see exactly what a Trump administration will look like. As one lobbyist says, “It’s going to be a very interesting four years.”

Click here to read more from this article's source.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Prince's estate sues Jay Z's Tidal over his streaming rights


Written by Pat Pheifer — Prince’s estate is suing rap mogul Jay Z over who has the rights to stream the late superstar’s music.

The ongoing battle has festered for months in Carver County District Court, but on Tuesday, NPG Records Inc., and NPG Music Publishing — Prince’s music entities — escalated it by filing a federal lawsuit alleging copyright infringement against Roc Nation, a multifaceted business started by Shawn C. Carter — Jay Z — which includes Tidal, a music streaming service.

The lawsuit acknowledges that before Prince’s death on April 21, his NPG entered into an agreement with Tidal to stream and sell “the next newly recorded studio LP by the recording artist known as Prince.” The album was “HitNRun: Phase 1.” The letter of intent, dated Aug. 1, 2015, gave Tidal exclusive rights to the material for 90 days, the lawsuit said.

But, the complaint said, Roc Nation, through Tidal, started on June 7, 2016, “exploiting many copyrighted Prince works in addition to the works that comprise the ‘HitNRun: Phase 1’ album.”

The suit said that on Oct. 21, Nov. 7 and Nov. 11, Roc Nation filed documents in Carver County District Court that asserted it had “both oral and written” agreements to exclusively stream Prince’s entire catalog of music on Tidal. But Roc Nation did not provide any documents to support that claim despite numerous written requests to do so, the lawsuit said.

Prince’s estate said Roc Nation continues “to reproduce, distribute and publicly perform” Prince’s music, a copyright infringement.

The lawsuit asks for the issue to be decided by a jury. It also asks that the court order Roc Nation/Tidal to stop streaming and selling Prince’s music other than “HitNRun: Phase 1,” and that Roc Nation be ordered to pay unspecified damages.

Roc Nation did not respond Tuesday to a voicemail message, e-mail or tweet asking for comment.

Prince has recorded more than 35 albums, some of which Tidal was still streaming as of Tuesday.

Billboard.com reported Monday that in July 2015, Prince started pulling all of his music from every streaming service except Tidal, which is known for paying a higher royalty than other services. A month later, he announced that “HitNRun” would be released exclusively on Tidal on Sept. 7.

Then, on Nov. 2, 2016, Universal Music Publishing Group announced it had been named “the exclusive worldwide publishing administrator for Prince’s entire song catalog, released and unreleased, effective immediately.” But in documents filed Friday in Carver County, Tidal said its preexisting contract gave it exclusive streaming distribution rights to Prince’s catalog.

It was not clear Tuesday what would happen to those rights now that a federal lawsuit is in the works.

Click here to read more from this article's source.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Direct from São Paulo, Anderson Soares Shines on his label's debut release!



Written by Urbano Records — Urbano Records is extremely proud to present its debut release from São Paulo's own Anderson Soares, entitled "Rise and Shine."

Click here to listen + buy "Rise and Shine" today!

For Urbano's first release, Anderson delivers a sensationally smooth dance music jam, full of heart and soul! The organ sounds gives this instrumental groove a soulful disco style, but make no mistake about it - it is Anderson's knack for incredible improvisation that shines through with this exquisite release.

Stay tuned for future releases from this brand new label's artists including Anderson, legendary singer/songwriter Joi Cardwell and more to come!

Get into the soulful sounds of Anderson Soares and Urbano Records at: urbanorecords.com

Written and produced by Anderson Soares.
Mixed and mastered by Anderson Soares at Urbano Records Studio in São Paulo, Brazil.
Published by Dueto Edições Musicais (ECAD).

Cover art design by DuxCom.
Executive Producers: Anderson Soares and Adam Cruz.

©2016 Urbano Records, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Distributed by The Cruz Music Group, a Division of Mixtape Sessions Music, LLC.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Exclusive Album Releases raise new concerns in Music Industry


Written by Connor Dziawura, Editor-in-Chief, Puma Press — The music industry has seen a dramatic shift with the advent of the Internet. After decades of fans consuming music through traditional formats like vinyl, CD and cassette, the introduction of the World Wide Web brought the ability to deliver music to listeners in an instant through streaming services.

While some artists and labels may see this as an opportunity, many fans feel it has done more harm than good. As the music industry has shifted to subscription-based consumption, artists and record labels have begun partnering with streaming services to offer their releases exclusively through one service; however, some fans and industry insiders feel that this practice harms listeners and their ability to access the music.

A Push for Exclusives

While Spotify would go on to push streaming into the mainstream and become one of the most popular streaming services in the 2010s, it had a slow rise to prominence. It was initially launched on Oct. 7, 2008, but the US release came later, with Spotify expanding service on July 14, 2011. Offering free and subscription-based packages, Spotify offered listeners access to an extensive database of music. However, the rise of Spotify led to an increase in competitive services such as Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play, YouTube Red and SoundCloud Pro.

While a common complaint about streaming is that the artist is receiving very little money in return, it is actually a more complex issue. Spotify for Artists, a division of Spotify that explains their service, shows it pays rights holders 70 percent of all revenue. While Spotify does not pay at a fixed per play rate, a simplification of their process reveals that artists receive an average of $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream. And with Apple Music reportedly paying a worldwide average of $0.005643 per play, artists and labels may view exclusives as a better option.

Because these services offer much of the same content and functionality, the industry has turned to exclusives as a means of promoting certain services over another. These exclusive albums are generally available on one service for a limited amount of time, with many having lasted one to two weeks.

“In terms of initial money, the exclusives are generally better for labels and, to a certain extent, the artists under those labels,” said Dr. Brett Reed, director of Paradise Valley Community College’s commercial music program.

“They’re getting a chunk of cash upfront. So, for them, short term, that’s much better. They get a chunk of cash, and then, regardless of what happens in terms of the plays, they’ve got some income.”

Artists like Frank Ocean, The Avalanches, Lil Yachty, Drake and Chance the Rapper have already released exclusive albums through Apple Music this year, while the JAY Z-owned Tidal procured exclusive releases from Kanye West, Rihanna and Desiigner.

In 2015, before exclusive albums became a common practice from Apple Music and the like, Tidal began differentiating themselves from the competition by pushing exclusive content from Rihanna, The White Stripes, Daft Punk, et al. One of the first exclusive albums came on July 4, 2015, when Lil Wayne released “Free Weezy Album” exclusively on Tidal.

Displacing An Audience

With the advent of the Internet, torrenting had become commonplace, with listeners favoring illegal downloads over paying for music. However, the rise in streaming has been hailed by some as a potential saving grace for the music industry. A 2015 study by the European Commission showed a decrease in piracy as a result of the easy access to streaming services. But with the recent influx of albums exclusive to one service, reports once again show high piracy rates for albums released as exclusives.

Following Tidal’s exclusive release of Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, the album amassed over 500,000 illegal downloads by Tuesday, Feb. 16, according to TorrentFreak. Another high piracy count came just six months later when Frank Ocean released his sophomore album, “Blonde,” exclusively through iTunes and Apple Music. According to Music Business Worldwide, citing data provided by “content protection, market tracking and audience connection solutions” specialist MUSO, “Blonde” had been illegally downloaded over 750,000 times in less than a week following its Aug. 20 release. While the album was released to other services at later times, MUSO shows over 2.3 million illegal downloads as of Oct. 6.

These increases in piracy are perceived to stem from the lack of availability of certain albums across streaming platforms.

“Like many things that have happened in the change to digital content, there’s this initial period where some users are alienated from the artists that they like because they can’t get them on their particular (service),” said Reed. He added, “I don’t run across a lot of people that subscribe to multiple services, so you end up just getting locked out of content for some period of time.”

While the number of exclusive albums has risen throughout 2015 and 2016, some of the first exclusive releases came before the rise in streaming. In 2012, Ocean released his debut album, “channel ORANGE,” on iTunes a week ahead of its scheduled physical release date, provoking Target to refuse to carry physical copies of the album. Beyoncé also released her self-titled 2013 album as a surprise through iTunes with no prior promotion. In response, Target and Amazon refused to stock physical copies at a later date, a practice which potentially foreshadowed the controversy that would come from locking listeners out of access to an album.

“It’s really about trying to drive each of those services–how to make them different from the others,” explained Reed of the current trend. “And I don’t think as an end user it’s particularly good.”

Now, Spotify is the latest to take a stand against the exclusives its competitors are promoting. In an interview with Billboard, Troy Carter, the new global head of creator services for Spotify, said, “exclusives are bad for artists, bad for consumers and bad for the whole industry.”

A Digital Future

In the midst of all the successes, struggles and controversies surrounding this business model, it will be a difficult task to gauge the path of the exclusive in the future. Despite an initial displacement of listeners, the exclusivity deals generally last for a set time period, with most of Apple Music’s deals having lasted one to two weeks from their initial release.

However, following Apple Music’s exclusive release of Ocean’s “Blonde,” Universal Music Group abandoned all support of streaming exclusives, Billboard reports. This likely stems from the fact that Ocean was initially signed to Def Jam, a subsidiary of UMG. By releasing a “visual album” entitled “Endless,” which contains non-album tracks, he was allowed to fulfill his contract and reap the full benefits of “Blonde” under his own label, Forbes reveals.

In addition to the already established streaming services, Amazon made its own foray into the streaming market with Amazon Music Unlimited on Oct. 12, 2016, CNN reports.

While companies across the world are continuing to sign on to the streaming train, Spotify and UMG’s stand against exclusives poses questions about the future of this business model. But regardless of the means for distribution, Reed feels the active role music plays in society has not changed.

“It certainly hasn’t changed how much we love music, people wanting access to it, how much time we spend listening to music,” said Reed. “None of that has effectively changed.”

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