Posts Tagged Music industry

What’s The Verdict: Janet Jackson’s announces new album + new label with artist incentives but is it feasible?

What’s The Verdict: Janet Jackson’s announces new album + new label with huge artist incentives but is it feasible?

Here it comes…the moment you have all been waiting for…Janet Jackson’s next studio album since 2008 will be released this fall (potentially end of summer) via BMG as the distributor. The album will mark Jackson’s first venture with her newly formed label Rhythm Nation, which will be offered to both new and established artists, although there is no one signed to it yet (that we know of).

The partnership between BMG and Rhythm Nation is an “artist services deal,” which is different that a traditional record deal in one major way.  It basically allows her and other artists that are signed to the label to retain full ownership and revenue over recordings. The artist services deal is designed to put artists in the driver’s seat, which is arguably a new concept within the music industry.

This gets a bit more interesting after clarifying that BMG is not a record label, but a publishing company.  With that, BMG functions to find licensees and on the flip side of that means that artists are financing their own records and getting them out into the world via distribution deals.

To be clear, the artist services deal is a wonderful concept of putting artists in the driver’s seat and giving them more ownership; however, the artist services deal likely means that Janet is paying for the artists.  This is great, so long as it can be maintained.

In effect, the amount of money used to finance artists may (or may not) be contingent upon the success of her album to be released in fall.  Perhaps, there is enough to financially support Jackson and other artists long-term, but it’s undeniable that the first venture is always important in terms of future predictions.

Do you think the new album  will be a smashing hit? Or perhaps will she be a bit rusty? Can’t wait to get more promo details on the upcoming album. Stay tuned for more updates on What’s The Verdict!


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What’s The Verdict: American Idol May Be Cancelled but Affiliated Record Company is Putting Up a Fight Against Sony!

What’s The Verdict: American Idol May Be Cancelled but Affiliated Record Company is Putting Up a Fight Against Sony!

An American Idol-affiliated record company, representing Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Carrie Underwood, has asked a federal judge to take a dispute over streaming income to an appeals court.  This type of dispute comes as no surprise considering the recent controversy betweens streaming service Spotify and competitor Tidal over the difference in streaming royalties paid out to artists.  [Tidal is paying artists 5x as much as Spotify].

The record company, 19 Recordings, sued media giant Sony Music back in February 2014 claiming that streaming music was being treated as “sales” or “distributions” instead of as “broadcasts” or “transmissions.”  In doing so, Sony was calculating incomes off platforms, including Spotify, and paying out much less than was allegedly due. Who wouldn’t want a bigger piece of the pie though? 19 Recordings is suing Sony Music with claims of breach of contract and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

A New York federal court judge, Ronnie Abrams, has dismissed claims that Sony was working in bad faith; however, breach of contract claim still stands, where damages are said to amount to as much as $3 million! Although the judge dismissed bad faith claims, 19 recordings would like him to reconsider. It can be assumed that Judge Abrams doesn’t want to come off as inconsistent by reversing his original decision.  In the event that he doesn’t reverse, 19 is prepared to request and file an interlocutory appeal.  If Judge Abrams agrees, 19 Recordings would attempt to get to Court of Appeals to give its two cents on whether Sony has “unfettered discretion to choose between two different classifications, and, thus, two different royalty structures without any regard for the actual structure of the exploitation.”

Why is this important? An appellate decision on this matter could be extremely valuable for artists as streaming continues to become the dominant platform that consumers listen to music.

Bad timing? The request from 19 Recordings comes right after a contract between Spotify and Sony was leaked highlighting the $25 million advance Sony got for the first two years under the contract.  This puts into question whether the money is being put into the ‘cookie jar’ for artists or being kept by Sony without sharing.  You gotta keep those hands out of the cookie jar!

What do you think federal judge Ronnie Abrams will do? Will he sacrifice his own reputation by appearing wishy washy? Or will he grant the request to move the case to the appeals court?

Stay tuned on What’s The Verdict for more updates!


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Vimeo Lawsuit One Step Closer to Appellate Face-Off

The colossal copyright infringement lawsuit against Vimeo has moved forward following a new ruling issued by a federal judge in New York last week. Capitol Records among other labels are suing the user-generated video site for distributed seminal sound recordings by major artists including The Beatles, Daft Punk, Radiohead, Beyoncé and more. The majority of the videos at issue are so-called “lip dub” where users have recorded themselves executing elaborate lip-synching numbers to hit songs.

In September 2013, a U.S. District Judge granted summary judgment in favor of Vimeo with regards to 136 out of 199 videos that were reviewed. Of the remaining videos at issue, Judge Ronnie Abrams found in the plaintiffs’ favor on 20 videos and held off on making a judgment on 43 videos. In her ruling, Judge Abrams did note that “lip-dubs” are not necessarily fair use. The judge certified interlocutory appeals allowing Vimeo to ask the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to consider whether a service provider’s viewing of user-generated video containing a copyrighted song gives rise to knowledge of infringement and whether DMCA’s safe harbor provisions are applicable to pre-1972 sound recordings. The case has been stayed pending a determination by the 2nd Circuit. 

What are your thoughts on the fate of Vimeo?

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Kanye West Sued Over Yeezus Track

Kanye West is being sued over the ‘Bound 2’ sample. Old school soul singer Ricky Spicer filed a lawsuit Monday in New York against the superstar rapper for using his voice from the 1971 ‘Bound’ song by the Ponderosa Twins Plus One. Spicer is seeking an injunction and damages for his publicity rights, unjust enrichment and copyright infringement claims. Spicer’s voice is audible yet altered throughout the chorus. 

Do you think Spicer should prevail?

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Weird Al Settles With Sony

Weird Al Yankovic settled a year old $5 million lawsuit against Sony Music. Yankovic claimed he had been cheated on digital income and he had not seen money from the Napster settlement, among other complaints. With regards to digital income, Yankovic alleged Sony improperly treated digital downloads as sales rather than licenses thus he only received 15% of the income instead of 50%. The parties filed in New York federal court this week to dismiss the case with prejudice however no details about the settlement agreement have been released.


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Changes in Music Consumption

Since Billboard introduced a new formula to determine rankings on the Hot 100 singles chart earlier this year, it immediately made an enormous impact in the music business. Regardless of the backlashes this change received from labels, or the approval from other parties, this change has been a positive influence for many artists; particularly new and unknown artists.

Billboard has always been validated as the source to go to for determining top selling music. Their rankings are often where people look at to find out what is popular, and are also how people determine what music to purchase. The formula that generates the rankings, created by Nielsen SounsScan, has traditionally included physical CD sales, digital downloads, radio airplay as well as online radio streaming. But YouTube video streaming data has now been incorporated into this formula, changing the major players that are on top of that list. For instance, for an unknown artists such as Baauer, this updated formula immediately pushed his song “Harlem Shake” to the number one spot due to thousands of YouTube videos generated on this viral song. Similarly, “Gangnam Style” by Korean sensation Psy, which went viral on YouTube with its fascinating dance moves, also jumped to the No. 1 spot on the Rap Songs chart (even though he has not been fully embraced by the American audience as a genuine rapper).

All of this is good news for artists such as Baauer and Psy, who otherwise would not have garnered the amount of attention they needed to top the charts through the traditional platforms. Getting your music on radio and making your name well known often requires a lot of promotional money and marketing efforts from record labels. Billboard charts are therefore often to predict, based on the major labels that are behind the artists on the charts and the type of music they release (generally pop). But this change in the Billboard formula give artists a chance to reach fame even without being backed financially by a record label, or signed to any deal. In addition, it shifts the attention away from mainstream pop and rap, giving other genres, such as indie or country, a chance to climb onto the Billboard chart based on their online audience base. Sure, there are still debates on whether this change in formula really reflects the consumption of music or the money flw in the business. Record labels can possibly manipulate the views on YouTube and generate unauthentic “hits” for their major talents. But the Billboard chart with its with formula is created to reflect what the public is currently listening to on a week-to-week basis, regardless of the actual money it brings in. So if you’re a new artist, pay close attention. Billboard might have just provided a new model for you to break into the industry.

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