Monday, July 21, 2014

Kendrick Lamar Crowns NY Rap Moguls...

"They'll Always Be The King Of New York"

by Cyrus Langhorne
Top Dawg Entertainment's Kendrick Lamar finally dishes on his controversial "King of New York" proclamation from last year's "Control" song and revealed who he believes can wear the crown in the new Complex magazine. #kingofny

In K. Dot's opinion, the late Notorious B.I.G. and music icon Jay Z are the true Empire State kings.
On Lamar's earth-shattering verse he called himself the King of New York, a claim he shies away from now: "I feel B.I.G. and Jay will always be the King of New York." More important, Lamar called out nearly every rapper in his generation--from A$AP Rocky to J. Cole and even Big Sean and Jay Electronica--and claimed, "I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you n*ggas." (Complex)
Earlier this year, rapper Maino said both local moguls would give him a pass over his King of New York underground project title.
"Biggie okay with that, man," Maino said in an interview. "Jay Z the king of the world. He ain't thinking about me, man. He don't care about my antics and my ways. He don't give a f*ck. Straight up." (Whoolywood Shuffle)
In 2011, fellow Brooklyn rapper Papoose crowned himself the "King of New York."
"The reason I chose that title is because I am the king of New York," the Brooklyn MC said with confidence to Mixtape Daily. "It feels good to be the king of New York so I just wanted to celebrate myself being the king of New York, so I figured I'd make it a self-titled mixtape...It's just basically breaking down some of the reasons of why I'm the king of New York. The reaction was both-sided, but it was a little bit more to the good side. A lot of my supporters, a lot of my fans reached out. And a lot of my haters reached out who disagree that I'm the king and I just let them know that I intend on proving it." (MTV)
Brooklyn rap veteran Fabolous previously said his "Get Back" record touched on the backlash K. Dot sparked with his now-infamous "Control" verse last summer.
"I want to talk about the 'Get Back.' It's over one of Jay Z's samples and it plays reference to what was going on with the whole Kendrick 'Control' verse thing. At first, it was a big thing to respond back and everybody was hyped off the response. What I loved about it to is that a lot of people responded back to it without really knowing what was going on. They just heard the blatant said, 'King of New York' line and 'The 'Get Back' is taken from, once you say something you also have to live and die by your words. But then now it becomes on other people to get back. It's almost the revenge of what you're saying. Do you relish in it? Do you back away from it? Do you step up to the plate? A lot of times, people don't always think about the backlash or what's going to come back to them." (FUSE TV)

Farrah Franklin Former Destiny's Child Member Arrested

Former Destiny's Child Member Farrah Franklin Arrested

Former Destiny's Child member Farrah Franklin is having another brush with the law.  TMZ says the singer was arrested for disorderly conduct in Conway, South Carolina early Sunday morning. 
The circumstances of the arrest are unknown, but sources tell the site she booked and released on bond Sunday afternoon.  Alcohol was reportedly involved. 

Farrah posted an Instagram photo of herself on the beach hours before the arrest. 

After news of her arrest started making the rounds, she also tagged herself at the Myrtle Beach International Airport along with a photo with the message, "May the Lord turn all your sour moments into sweet lemonade." 
It's her second arrest for disorderly conduct.  She was picked up in Los Angeles on the same charge in 2011.

Farrah was a member of Destiny's Child for just five months in 2000.  She joined the group at the same time as Michelle Williams, to replace another two exiting singers, and was fired shortly after. 

Netflix Passes 50 Million Subscribers

The company reported Monday that it added 1.69 million paying streaming subscribers worldwide in the second quarter.


Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black"
Netflix on Monday reported that it added 1.69 million paying streaming subscribers in the second quarter, enough to put it past 50 million for the first time.

Netflix had guided analysts to expect less than 1.5 million additions during the quarter, which would have kept it under the 50 million threshold. Instead, the company ended the quarter with 50.05 million streaming subscribers worldwide.

The company reported earning $1.15 per share on revenue of $1.34 billion, which were mixed results compared to Wall Street's expectations.

Analysts predicted the streaming-media company to post earnings per share of $1.16 on $1.33 billion in revenue.

Wall Street appeared mildly impressed with the financial results, as shares were trading 1 percent higher after the closing bell. During the regular session, Netflix shares were up 2 percent to $451.96.

At the end of the quarter, Netflix boasted 35.1 million paying subscribers to its domestic streaming service, up from 28.6 million a year ago. Domestic DVD subscribers fell to 6.2 million from 7.4 million last year.
Paid international streamers rose to 12.9 million from 7 million a year ago. Netflix does not offer an international DVD service.

In a letter to shareholders on Monday, CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells noted that Netflix surpassed the 50 million threshold 15 years after its service first launched. Mostly, though, the letter focused on original programming, including its upcoming talk show hosted by Chelsea Handler that is slated to debut in early 2016.

"Fewer people are watching talk shows live and are instead watching stacked episodes on DVR or online in the days and weeks following initial airing," the executives wrote. "Our intent is to produce a show with Handler and her team that reflects this shift to on-demand enjoyment and that will appeal to a global audience."

On a conference call with analysts Monday, chief content officer Ted Sarandos enthused over the second season of Orange is the New Black. He also said that if 21st Century Fox were to acquire Time Warner, as Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch proposes, it would not impact Netflix's ability to acquire content from either conglomerate.

Also on the conference call, Hastings gushed about the adoption of international streaming, saying it's "an enormous moment in history" for Netflix.

New Watermarking Tech Probably Won't Impact Piracy?

Watermarking audio files is nothing new, but a team of international researchers think they've found a way to improve it. 


On June 30, scientists from Sydney's Deakin University and Aizu University in Japan published an article about their new watermarking technology, which they say is better-designed to resist music pirates' attempts to strip audio files of their watermarks. Though the news has been hailed by some as an unprecedented obstacle to piracy, the researchers' discovery raises more questions about watermarking's effectiveness in the global war against piracy. 

The process of watermarking implants an inaudible yet traceable marker within the sound waves of an audio file so that if the song or album in question is found online (say, on a peer-to-peer sharing network) by its distributing record label, like Sony or Universal, that company can then trace it back to the illegal upload source. Once embedded, the identifying signal cannot be removed -- though music pirates can theoretically "scrub" watermarks by cutting out part of the song, changing the pitch, or speeding it up or slowing it down -- without damaging the audio quality.

"It would be quite difficult to remove it and keep the music pristine," explains David Hughes, SVP technology at the Recording Industry Association of America. "You hear the term 'robustness,' or 'survivability,' or 'tamper-proof.'" 

Professor Wanlei Zhou, head of Deakin's School of Technology, told Billboard his team's watermarking technology was robust enough to withstand attempts to remove the watermark. In contrast to the six other methods they tested, which had a detection rate of between 40 and 90 precent, theirs detected the watermark (after testing common attacks like mp3 compression, re-sampling, and adjusting the amplitude) nearly 100 percent of the time. "If the industry is interested in that technology," he says, "it can become a product the whole society can benefit from." 

That's all very well and good, says Hughes, but watermark removal isn't the problem -- marketplace adoption is. When the iTunes store launched in 2003, every song was encrypted with FairPlay, a digital rights management (DRM)-system. Those songs would then only play on select Apple devices, which was the iPod but now includes iPads, iPhones, Apple TVs, etc. Following a series of anti-trust complaints against Apple, the dominant digital retailer at the time, Amazon launched its own DRM-free music store with over 2 million tracks from an assortment of major and indie labels, none of which were traceable back to the initial track uploader; they only tracked where the song was purchased.

The initiative "represents the music industry's clearest repudiation yet of the elaborate copy-protection schemes it once staked its future on," wrote Wired's David Kravets. Since then, the vast majority of watermarks have been only stamped on pre-releases sent within the music industry.

"If [Amazon] is trying to sell 300,000 copies of Justin Timberlake's new single, there's a lot of processing power going on, there's a big database to keep track of, they're putting customer ID numbers in each song... it's a big pain in the ass," adds Hughes. "They probably don't see a lot of value -- because it's not pre-release, it's about the song being widely distributed."

"Most commercial focus and attention has been on that period of time: once [the album] is released, it's almost impossible to control it," says Gunnar Siewert, representative for watermarked music promotion company PromoJukeBox. Though he doesn't know too much about the new Australian study, he doesn't think there's a need for another technology.

"Also, we have very robust watermarking technology," he adds. 
Additionally, statistics on how much piracy negatively impacts sales can be contradictory. Earlier this year, a study found that Sweden's anti-piracy legislation, IPRED, boosted music sales while reducing internet traffic. And yet, in 2013, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre demonstrated that online piracy didn't hurt music sales. Music streaming services have also made piracy less necessary if one wants to listen to a song without purchasing it. 

After Zhou's team publishes their paper in September, they'll start looking for corporate sponsors to fund a wider study of their new technology, which they hope will lead to market adoption. "I've gotten lots of calls from newspapers, radio, TV in the past few days," he says, laughing. "Hopefully after that they'll call one of my team members." 


ASAP Rocky Sued For Allegedly Slapping Female Fan

Lawsuit has been filed, accusing ASAP Rocky of assaulting a female fan at the 2013 Made In America festival.

Last year, it was reported that A$AP Rocky had been charged with assault, stemming from an incident at that year's Made In America festival where he allegedly slapped a female fan. It seemed Rocky was actually able to avoid charges, as the case was put on hold until the plaintiff could supply a "viable address" for the rapper.

Close to a year later, Rocky has finally been hit with a lawsuit. The woman who filed the suit is looking for "compensatory and punitive damages for civil assault and battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence and premises liability".

While no charges came from it, Rocky found himself facing similar accusations last summer, when video surfaced that appeared to show him hitting another woman at a show in Australia. 

The rapper has yet to comment on the suit. Updates to come as information arrives.

Carmelo Announces New Venture Capital Firm

Carmelo Anthony, who recently signed a $124 million contract with the New York Knicks, has announced a new venture capital firm called M7 Tech Partners. Stuart Goldfarb, the former CEO of Bertelsmann will partner up with Melo in the firm, which has already made an initial investment in an interactive children story company called Hullabalu.

Goldfarb was previously the head man at a direct marketing company for movies, music, and books as well as NBC's executive vice president for worldwide business development.

Not exactly the type of business we'd expect Melo to be getting into, but it's certainly refreshing to see an athlete taking steps to invest some money rather than blowing it on toys. Carmelo had this to say regarding his newest venture;
”For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in technology. We are actively looking for ventures with strong leadership that resonate with consumers.”
The office for M7, which stands for 'Melo 7,' will be located in New York City and will focus on “early stage digital media, consumer Internet, and technology ventures,” according to an official statement.

Capitol Music Group and Producer Rodney Jerkins Enter Label Partnership

Grammy winner's Evolve Music Group roster includes Diana Ross’ son Evan Ross.


Capitol Music Group (CMG) and Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer Rodney Jerkins have signed a multi-year, worldwide agreement on behalf of the latter’s Evolve Music Group (EMG). 

Under the new partnership, the companies will develop, market and promote releases overseen by Jerkins.

The current EMG roster includes R&B/pop singer Evan Ross (Diana Ross’ son), soul singer Keta and YouTube discovery Sara Forsberg. The label’s operations will be based at the Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood. Evolve will also house a spiritual music division, Evolve Inspirational. The imprint will be distributed through CMG’s Nashville-based Capitol Christian Music Group. Joy Enriquez and Tim Bowman Jr. are the first artists signed to Evolve Inspirational.

In a statement announcing the new alliance, CMG chairman/CEO Steve Barnett said, “Rodney possesses a keen eye for talent and a great vision for what he wants to accomplish with Evolve.” Added Evolve chairman/CEO Jerkins, “I’m excited for this partnership, confident that Evolve will play a major role in the future of our industry.”

Jerkins’ production credits include songs by BeyoncĂ©, Whitney Houston, Justin Bieber, Destiny’s Child, Toni Braxton, Brandy and Monica.


Remy Ma Will Be Released In 10 Days

Talks prison, Nicki Minaj, and return to the rap game with Angie Martinez.

After serving 6 years at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, Remy Ma will finally be a free woman on July 31st. The Bronx rapper, who’s ten days out from being released, decided to call into Angie Martinez on Power 105.1 on Monday, and despite serving her time, sounds like the same ole Remy.

“I can’t say that I was one of those people that went to prison and I had this dramatic life change and I had this newfound outtake on life,” she said. “In a lot of ways, I’m the same.”

During their phone conversation, Angie and Remy talked about several different topics going on in her life, including her time in prison, marrying rapper Papoose, reconciling with Fat Joe, getting offers from major labels, her thoughts on Nicki Minaj, a reality show, and more.

Remy tells Angie that she’s been fielding offers from various labels (“More than I can count on one hand”) and is working on a reality show as well.

Check out some highlighted excerpts from the phone call below, and take a listen.

On her marriage to Papoose: “After six-and-a-half [years], it’s kinda serious. You gotta respect that. That’s official. … He’s an official dude. Nobody can ever front on that.”

On Fat Joe: “That was one of my epiphanies that I had. I was like, ‘OK, now I see why he wanted to kill me.’ I understand that. … I can never hate him. I’m the type of person that if I ever loved you, even if you make me mad, I’ma love you to death. I’d never be able to stand there and watch somebody do harm to him.”

On signing a new deal: “I didn’t want to sign anything as major as a deal from [prison]. A lot of things have changed since I’ve been gone, so I wanted to come home.”

On female rap: “I’ve always repped for the chicks orwhatever, but I can stand next to the best of the dudes that’s out there. That’s what I intend to do again.”

On Nicki Minaj: “Nick has always been a supporter and vice versa. I like what she does. She’s done wonderful things for females, but I just wish there was more of them. I don’t know what they’re doing letting these guys take over.”

On her reality show: “They’re making me do it. I keep telling them no. It’s too real.”

Copyright Alert System to Launch in U.K., Warning Potential Infringers


People in the U.K. suspected of pirating copyrighted material online will soon be getting a light slap on the wrist as part of a new consumer awareness program between the nation's leading Internet service providers, U.K.-based creative industries, and the government.

The two-tiered campaign will be run by Creative Content U.K., a newly formed partnership between ISPs and rights-holder groups. 

Phase one will launch sometime before Spring 2015, when the group rolls out a multi-media awareness campaign that "aims to create wider appreciation of the value and benefits of entertainment content and copyright," according to a press release

The second phase, which does not have a date attached, will be driven by a new alert system in which ISPs send out warnings to subscribers when it is believed "unlawful filesharing may have taken place" on their Internet connections. Possible abusers will be gently advised -- up to four times per year, according to Gigaom -- on where to find legitimate sources for legal content.

"Education is at the heart of this drive so people understand that piracy isn’t a victimless crime -- but actually causes business to fail, harms the industry and costs jobs," said Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The alerts program does not have a law enforcement component and will not lead to termination of service for suspected freeloaders. In 2010, Parliament passed the Digital Economy Act, which directly addressed digital media and conceivably could have led to website-blocking on grounds of copyright infringement, but much of its implementation has been delayed or repealed.

A similar "Dear Pirate" system of sending alerts to potential infringers was launched in the U.S. in February 2013 by the Center for Copyright Information and their label partners. Dubbed the Copyright Alert System, the service sends a series of notices via ISPs to customers suspected of piracy. Like in Britain, there are no criminal penalties or fines for serious offenders.

In July 2013, France revoked a controversial law that gave authorities the green light to unplug offenders who repeatedly downloaded copyrighted material. The system sent millions of warnings and was unpopular.


Sony Music Fights Lawsuit Alleging Cheating of 'American Idol' Stars

Are artists like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson getting their share of money from Spotify, iTunes and the music industry's fight against piracy?

Carrie Underwood Kelly Clarkson Split - H 2014
AP Images
Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson

Five months after the record company founded by American Idol creator Simon Fuller brought a blockbuster lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment for allegedly cheating artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Carrie Underwood, a New York federal judge is being asked to make an early determination about the claims.

The litigation explores quite a bit of ground in the modern music business, from the way in which a music major like Sony accounts for revenue off of platforms like Spotify and iTunes to how advertising expenditures are treated. One topic that was largely overshadowed when 19 Recordings filed its claims this past February was Sony's alleged duty to share the spoils of its proceeds from big battles on the copyright front. For example, three years ago, Sony was among the record majors that extracted $105 million in settlement from file-sharing LimeWire. Does the money trickle down?

In a motion to dismiss filed late last month, Sony argued that it isn't obligated to credit 19 such money.
Sony says its contracts pertaining to Idol alumni "provides for 19 to share in excess recoveries only from legal proceedings that SME institutes 'in the name of [19] and/or Artist.' It does not apply to proceedings that are brought in SME’s name, including those aimed at stopping broad-based copyright infringement of a substantial portion of Sony’s catalog."

The plaintiff's attorneys responded on Thursday that the contract gives Sony the right to sue in the artists' names and compel cooperation from them. The plain meaning of the contract, it's argued, necessitates that artists be compensated from the proceeds of copyright infringement lawsuits.

"Sony has multiple ways to bring suit," says the plaintiff. "The manner in which Sony brings suit is of no consequence as to 19’s right to receive a portion of any money which is attributable to Artist’s Masters."

Here are some of the other topics in the case:

Streaming Money
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that Sony stiffs musicians by paying the lower of two royalty rates on streaming income. Specifically, Sony treats music exploited on services like Spotify as "sales" or "distributions" rather than "broadcasts" or "transmissions." The effect of doing this, says the plaintiff, is to account for such deliveries as no different than downloads purchased.

"19's claim that all streaming services must be accounted for as a 'broadcast' or 'transmission' simply seeks to rewrite the plain terms to which it agreed over and over, in agreement after agreement," responds Sony.

Sony says artist royalties are "unambiguously" tied to the language used in the music major's licensing deals with third party services. If that wasn't so, Sony argues that there would be no purpose in setting up a contract with two different royalty rates as Sony simply would be obligated to pay the higher rate. The defendant adds that in negotiating the contract, "19 was clearly sensitive to the possibility that it would disagree with the characterization contained in the streaming agreement," and so limitations were made for any streaming service operated by Sony or its affiliates.

In other words, Sony says the limitations would be meaningless if never had the possibility of treating streaming income as distributions.

In opposition, the plaintiff maintains that Sony can't in good faith "mischaracterize" what's happening in streaming. "This robs 19 of the fruits of the Recording Agreements by purposefully avoiding using the correct operative words when Sony knew a 'broadcast' or 'transmission' was precisely what was occurring," states the plaintiff's legal brief.

Royalty Escalators
The lawsuit addresses what happens when consumers go to iTunes and buy individual tracks off an album. Though many of the songs weren't released as "singles" per se, Sony treats them as singles to allegedly avoid having them count towards album sales that would trigger royalty escalators for the recording artists.
Again, Sony points to the "unambiguous language" of the agreements. "If the parties intended multiple separate sales of Records that are not Albums to count as an Album, they would have said so," says the defendant.

The parties have a huge disagreement in math.

Sony says the interpretation that multiple individual tracks sold should be grouped as partial album sales "leads to absurd results," calculating the economic consequences being at most just "two dollars and change" no matter whether millions of records were sold. 19 Recordings, though, says that its audit calculated an underpayment of $960,000 thanks to this practice, and further, "It's easy to see that the labels can come out 20 percent to 40 percent (or even more) ahead if they sell 11 to 13 tracks individually to the same or multiple buyers, rather than the entire album in a single transaction to a single buyer."

The plaintiff is alternatively looking to bring a claim against Sony for breaching its duty of good faith and fair dealing by allowing iTunes and other download providers to permit the "disaggregation of the Album format," allowing individual tracks to be sold for the alleged benefit of Sony and to the detriment of 19 and its artists.
But according to Sony, "19’s assertion that the Agreements did not contemplate the changes to the music industry caused by the rise of individual track downloads is refuted by the fact... that all of the Agreements were executed after individual track downloads became a fixture in the music industry."

There's more! The lawsuit also addresses other topics like how advertising expenditures are deducted in royalty statements. For this, read the full memorandum supporting the motion to dismiss as well the brief opposing dismissal.