Articles Posted in Music & Technology

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scales of justiceI’m not a judge. And I don’t play one on TV. And despite what I believed was a strong memorandum in support of summary judgment, District Judge Klausner denied the defendants’ motion and set the case for trial.

Recall that defendant’s motion set forth several bases to support the grant of summary judgment. Following is a summary of the Court’s analysis of the motion for summary judgment, and the reasoning applied in denying the motion. Remember that in ruling upon a motion for summary judgment, the Court will construe the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the plaintiff here.

The Court first reviewed the parties’ expert testimony as well as deposition testimony of other witnesses to address defendants’ three principal defenses: (1) abandonment/waiver, (2) laches, and (3) defective deposit copy.

Defendants argued that Randy Wolfe had clearly abandoned/waived any claims to infringement, as evidenced by a magazine interview he gave many years ago. But the court found evidence that Wolfe’s waiver may not have been heartfelt. For example, the journalist who conducted the interview testified that Wolfe never received or reviewed the interview notes before the article was published. Plaintiff also pointed to the tenor of the interview, which indicated that Wolfe felt cheated by Led Zeppelin and was merely trying to save face and made light of a bad situation.

NOTE: HEAVY LEGAL ISSUES AHEAD, INCLUDING SOME (OK, COPIOUS) VERBATIM TRANSCRIPTION OF THE ORDER. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION TO THE JUMP PAGE.

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The music business is in turmoil and no one seems to know what the future holds. Even so, there are some good resources out there to help you get a handle on things.

file1551274811685 editIf you don’t know about Lefsetz Letter, you must check it out. Bob Lefsetz is a brash, highly-opinionated entertainment attorney (what’s new) and industry insider. His daily blog cuts right to the chase, sparing no one. Here’s a bit from his diatribe reacting to Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime extravaganza: “I am saying it’s nowhere for music unless you can own the room, and the only one who’s been able to do this is Prince. And when a smart person witnesses such a triumph, they don’t compete.”

Encore Newsletter is a performance industry magazine that’s e-mailed weekly that “strives to provide timely and accurate information and to create a positive flow of information throughout the entertainment industry. It is our hope not only to inform, but to create business opportunities. We welcome any and all comments and encourage you to report newsworthy items for publishing.”

Pollstar, is another weekly periodical covering the worldwide concert industry. Local bands are free to submit tour dates and Pollstar “may add local or regional acts to our database as time permits but we do not guarantee the entry of any dates submitted. Artist representatives are always welcome to submit itineraries to our data processing department.” Pollstar lets you enter as many touring bands as you want to track and it sends auto-notifications when the act is coming to your city.

Of course there are more specialized publications, depending upon your interests, like Tape Op, about sound recording, Sonic Bids for gig opportunities and the Performing Rights websites for the organizations that collect performance royalties (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC).

I asked a number of music professionals, clients and fans where they get their information about the current state of the music business and to give any observations about same. Their responses cover a wide swath, but there are some common features. Continue reading

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records“There hasn’t been any good music in forty years!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this self-evidently ridiculous assertion, I’d be able to buy a Happy Meal. With a Super-sized Coke Zero. It’s a common sentiment among people of a certain age, and attempts to persuade with opinions to the contrary are inevitably met with skepticism, if not derision. But it looks like the dinosaurs as well as Millennials are putting their money where their mouths are: for the first time, over the course of 2014, online ‘catalog album sales’ (think, classic vinyl, sold via iTunes and other e-services) outpaced online sales of new music.

The Music Business Worldwide article poses some legitimate and worrisome questions for the industry: “are people merely starting to consume their new music on streaming services rather than buying it in album form? Or are they increasingly less impressed with the new album releases that arrive year-in, year-out?” Continue reading

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Jermaine Dupri opened up the 2013 A3C Hip Hop Festival here in Atlanta last week with an A3C x Tech Talk hosted by James Andrews titled “The Overlap: Music and Technology.”  Held in an intimate, studio-feel kind of setting, JD shared some important stuff about giving away free product that both artists and fans need to know.

Naturally, the record labels are indignant that they no longer control the “free” like they once did, but who really does control the free? What’s to gain by giving stuff away, and it is morally right for fans to take advantage of free stuff?  Here’s how JD directed the thinking in the room.  He pointed out that if this were 1992, and we were at this conference, everyone in the room would have a free CD, a free product, in their hand, compliments of the record company.  These days, however, virtually every new important hip-hop record is leaked through the Internet before its release date, giving the world free access to the product and – arguably – diluting potential sales.  And the record companies are p*ssed.

But isn’t leaking the product over the Internet the same as slipping the CD into the conventioneer’s goodie bag, just on a much grander scale?  Here’s what JD had to say:  “If these guys are giving you a free CD from Jermaine Dupri, and you’re gonna tell ten other people, and those ten people are gonna buy it, or they’re gonna tape it for their friends, or whatever – it’s the same situation, it’s just a new way of thinking about it, a new way of seeing it.”   So, did the pre-release leak of Drake’s “Nothing Was The Same” this past September keep Drake from selling a million copies upon release?  “You’re outta your mind if that’s what you really believe,” JD says.  “The Drake leak helped him sell 600,000 records.”

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