Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Madonna and Music Producer Win 'Vogue' Sampling Lawsuit

A lawsuit claiming that Madonna and producer Robert "Shep" Pettibone illegally sampled a tune on her 1990 international hit "Vogue," has been resolved with a ruling favor of the defendants.

The original lawsuit was filed in July by VMG Salsoul, the copyright owner of a 1976 composition called "Love Break." The plaintiff alleged that it was only through new technology that the "deliberately hidden" sampling had been detected.

But a U.S. District Court judge in California has ruled on summary judgment that sampling of the Horn hit was "trivial," in that in could not be recognized.

"Having listened to the sound recordings of Chicago Bus Stop, Love Break, and Vogue, the Court finds that no reasonable audience would find the sampled portions qualitatively or quantitatively significant in relation to the infringing work, nor would they recognize the appropriation," the ruling reads. "The Court finds that any sampling of the Horn Hit was de minimis or trivial."

The ruling had the potential of addressing a standard set in a 2006 case involving a N.W.A. rap song that sampled a Funkadelic riff. In that Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films case, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals wouldn't tolerate the sampling and looping of a two-second guitar chord. An appeals court wrote at the time, ""Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way."
In the present case, U.S. District Judge Beverly O'Connell somewhat sidestepped the issue of whether a very brief sample could ever amount to copyright infringement, declining to adopt any bright-line rule from a different circuit. The judge added that it wasn't appropriate to apply that case because there wasn't clarity whether there was copying or independent creation or, indeed any sampling at all.

Here's the full ruling.

Says attorney Richard Busch, who represented the defendants: "We are thrilled with the decision, and believe it is absolutely the right result."

'The Voice' : Song Choice Champions and Cripples Top 10

Taking a creative risk this late in the game can pay off for some performers, but the wrong song crippled several singers on Monday night.

The Voice Nov 18 Will Champlin - H 2013

Any alum of The Voice will tell you the same thing: Fight for your song choice. If your coach -- whether it's Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera or Cee Lo Green -- assigns a cover that you're not comfortable with, say something. Don't just hope it all comes together when it's time to tape the live show, because, as tonight showed, such is not always the case.

After kicking off the episode with an ensemble performance of The Mowgli's “Say It, Just Say It,” the top 10 took the stage to try and avoid another double elimination. Here’s how they did:

Shelton asked Austin Jenckes to tackle The Outfield’s “Your Love,” complete with a subtle intro, tricky key change mid-song and a climactic, scream-worthy ending that brought Jenckes to tears, especially with his family in the stands. The other judges praised his range and effective conclusion, but Levine wished that he could just hear Jenckes' “gravelly tone” a bit earlier in the song.

After a joint yoga session, Aguilera assigned Jacquie Lee a more vulnerable version of Zedd’s “Clarity,” free of the constant belting that’s gotten her this far (the same approach Aguilera herself took when she recently debuted a duet with A Great Big World). Initially, Lee was uncomfortable with what Green called the “nakedness” of the rendition, and she struggled with pitch and changes to falsetto. But she regained her footing with the bigger notes later on in the song. Shelton had no problem saying he preferred more powerful song choices and approaches for Lee. “I know we have to show different dimensions of an artist … but gosh dangit, I want to see Jacquie do some Aretha Franklin or something.”

Levine gave returning team member Will Champlin the very recent release from John Newman called “Love Me Again” (a British track that hasn’t yet rocked America). While the song had all the right elements for Champlin – the rhythmic introduction on the piano, plus a chorus with long notes that fit right into the sweet spot of his register – we’re wondering if U.S. viewers will applaud the song choice, like the singer's father, Chicago band member Bill Champlin, did in the audience. “I feel like you came into your own in this performance,” said Aguilera of the performance, while Shelton praised Champlin's vocal accuracy.

Green’s sweet Caroline Pennell used her unique indie pop phrasing on John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and successfully added the bittersweet emotions she was hoping to convey about her experience in the competition. Her coach did critically state that he wants her to vocally open up more in the future, but Levine appreciated the artistic choice to communicate something real to the audience.

Shelton coincidentally assigned Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” to Cole Vosbury, who has loved the song since childhood. Opting for accompaniment on an acoustic guitar over a grand piano -- a “smart move,” said Levine -- Vosbury personalized the track with his gritty tone, soliciting nothing but praise from the judges, as always.

Levine’s Tessanne Chin went for Gladys Knight & The Pips’ “If I Were Your Woman,” full of soulful standout moments and sassy stage presence. “I heard your Jamaican accent come out when you sang for the first time in the beginning, and I loved it!” said Aguilera, who then said she’d love to hear different dynamics from the singer, asking her to pull back during strategic moments in the future (even though that wasn’t best for her contestant, Lee). Still, the performance demonstrated Chin's ability to be a entertaining character as well as a strong vocalist.

Shelton’s Ray Boudreaux suited up for Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing” and played the acoustic guitar while a horn section swayed behind him. “Out of everyone here, I feel like you’ve shown the most growth,” noted Aguilera, who appreciated that he’s championing his blues wheelhouse. Green loved Boudreaux’s authenticity, while Levine, who was just reaching for something critical to say, added that he could be a bit more present and visually entertaining onstage.

Levine challenged James Wolpert to update Harry Nilsson’s “Without You” -- a track with an incredibly demanding chorus. Wolpert sustained each long note so well that we’re okay with the fact that he was too focused on them to emote much onstage (despite performing with a cool microphone that Levine said was a nod to Freddie Mercury). Aguilera called him a clean vocalist with both raspy and pure dimensions, adding that “at the end you went a little astray with the pitch, but you had me the whole time.”

Green’s Kat Robichaud -- who was saved by Twitter’s Instant Save last week -- returned to her glam-rock roots with a theatrical performance of Pat Benatar’s “We Belong.” She opened the song by playing the piano, then navigated her way through a slew of masked backup dancers who later carried her on top of the instrument. Though she occasionally seemed vocally distracted by all the action onstage -- we thought she would champion the anthem as well as her covers over the previous weeks -- Green called the performance “immortal” while Levine said, “This was finally the Kat that we were all waiting to see.”
After his yoga session, Aguilera’s Matthew Schuler thought of his future wife -- whoever she is -- while singing “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth and Emeli Sande. The powerhouse performer effortlessly transitioned from a subdued introduction to a climactic bridge filled with genuine yearning. “Finding that future wife? Not gonna be a problem for you, man!” said Levine. “This was no less than amazing, which is what you always are.”

What did you think of tonight's performances? Which singers deserve to advance, and which should be sent home? Which coach will lose all of his or her singers first? Sound off in the comments below.


Sony Entertainment has hired Bain & Company to look for at least $100 million in cost-savings, the New York Times reported. 
But early speculation about the move is that it will impact Sony Pictures more than Sony Music Entertainment or Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which fall under the Sony Entertainment umbrella.

Miley's Doctor's Orders: Stop Singing Singer says she's on vocal rest after a whirlwind promotional tour for Bangerz.

Miley Cyrus
There isn't much that can slow Miley Cyrus down. The singer has been on a mad tear round the globe promoting Bangerz, with memorable appearances on the 2013 MTV EMA Awards and last week's Bambi Awards.

But early Monday morning (November 18) she informed fans that doctors have forced her to take a break to save her voice." Vocal rest," she wrote in a post that included a series of emojis wearing surgical masks.
Considering how hectic her schedule has been lately, frankly, Cyrus was fine with it. "Happy to get some rest. Time to go be sicky" she told her 15.5 million followers on Sunday.

And though she's been forced to chill for a bit because of her vocal issues, that doesn't mean the promotional train comes to a halt. Over the weekend, Cyrus also posted her smiling cover shot from the December issue of "Cosmopolitan" magazine. The post included a quote from the story in which Cyrus proclaims, "It's almost punk rock to like me. Society wants to shut me down."

The rest comes after Miley seemed to struggle a bit while performing "Wrecking Ball" on the UK version of "X Factor" on Sunday night in London. Wearing a black bejeweled turban and a floor-length gold lame dress, Cyrus began the song sitting a giant hill of sand. She gave it her all, but it was clear that Cyrus was working extra hard to hit the song's booming chorus during the performance, her voice cracking near the end.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rap Genius and Sony/ATV Reveal Licensing Deal

Rap Genius, the online lyric site with financial backing from Silicon Valley heavyweights, has signed its first licensing deal. Billboard has learned the Brooklyn-based startup has a licensing agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. A Rap Genius statement says the deal was finalized "earlier this year."

In a statement, Martin Bandier, chairman & CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, acknowledged Rap Genius's ability to connect songwriters and music fans "in a new and exciting way." Rap Genius isn't the typical lyric site. Self-described as "a hip-hop Wikipedia," Rap Genius allows contributes to create pages for songs, add song lyrics and offer insights and commentary through the site's main feature, annotations.

Other licensing deals could be on the way. In a statement, Rap Genius co-founder Tom Lehman referred the conversations with other music publishers and said site's relationship with artists "will only grow stronger" as more publishers deals are reached.

The site, which has branched out to news and poetry, is among the most popular of unlicensed lyric sites, according to a list released Monday by the National Music Publishers' Association. It's also among the best-funded lyric sites.

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz invested $15 million in Rap Genius in October. Andreessen Horowitz is not a typical investor; its co-founder Marc Andreessen was a co-founder of Netscape Communications Corporation, a pioneer in early web browsers that was acquired by America Online in 1998. The company previously raised $1.8 million from betaworks and graduated from the Y Combinator startup incubator. 

The greater goal is to "to add context to all important texts in people's lives," said Lehman. Rap Genius already has already launched sites for rock, poetry and news. The founders want to move beyond free services and create a paid, enterprise service for business users. For example, enterprise collaboration would provide to companies a crowdsourced editing process that would allow employees to add annotations to any uploaded document.

Rap Genius has caught the attention of music publishers as it has grown in popularity and attracted venture capital. The site is #1 on the NMPA's list of top 50 unlicensed lyric sites. Although a deal has been reached with Sony/ATV -- the world's largest music publisher with roughly 31% of the global market -- Rap Genius does not have licenses in place for the vast majority of songs. Because of the fractured nature of songwriting -- a song can have multiple writers and multiple publishers -- some songs in the Sony/ATV catalog are not yet fully licensed.

Although Rap Genius has been sent takedown notices, NMPA President and CEO David Israelite says the organization wants to facilitate licensing deals, not shut down unlicensed sites. "We simply want those that are making money off lyrics to be business partners with the songwriters who created the content that is the basis of the sites."