September’s Notable Hirings, Firings, Promotions & Mergers

September 30th, 2012

Lyor Cohen is leaving Warner Music Group after eight years at the company.  The WMG executive’s most recent title was Recorded Music Chairman and CEO.  Cohen released the following statement: ”To all the artists and employees who live and die for the music every day, and who personally sacrifice for the good of the creative process: ‘keep on keepin’ on’ in the tradition of a company that respects and honors the artistic community.”

Big Jon Platt, formerly at EMI Music Publishing,  is now the President of North American Creative at  Warner/Chappell.

Richard Strasser has been named an interim judge for the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB).

Massive entertainment company AEG is now for sale, its assets including Coachella, a partial stake in the Lakers, AEG Live, and over 100 venues.  Offers are starting to come in but no specific price tags have been published.

Dangerbird Records co-founder Jeff Castelaz may be moving to WMG-owned Elektra.

Matt Pincus, founder and CEO of  Songs Music Publishing, has just been added to the ASCAP Board of Directors.

Fox Music president Robert Kraft has stepped down after 18 years with the company.

La-la-lawsuits: A Look at September’s Most Litigious Moments

September 28th, 2012

Kim Kardashian can finally breathe easy- her lawsuit against Old Navy  was settled right before Labor Day weekend.  The settlement terms are confidential, but Kim was suing The Gap, Inc.  for the use of a look-alike in one of their advertising campaigns.  She alleged the use infringed on her right of publicity under California law and also, violated the Lanham Act. Kardashian also sought unspecified damages and an injunction barring Old Navy from using Kardashian look-alikes in any other future ads.

Fashionistas listen up- the beloved red-soled shoes of notable footwear fashion designer, Christian Louboutin, are now protected by trademark law.  In April 2011, Louboutin sued Yves Sant Laurent, for infringing on his widely recognized red-soled shoes when they sold their own line of shoes that had a red bottoms.  The decision made on September 5, reversed the prior conclusion by a New York judge last August that denied Louboutin a preliminary injunction on YSL’s sales of their red-soled shoes.  The appeals court panel decided that “Louboutin’s long-standing use of the red sole was ‘a distinctive symbol that qualifies for trademark protection’.”  However, the protection only applies to shoes where the red sole contrasts with the other color of the shoe.  Therefore, YSL is still legally allowed to sell their shoes that are red on the sole and also, red on the rest of the shoe.  Overall, the decision is a win-win for both fashion dynasties.  For more background on the lawsuit, read one of my previous blog posts here.

The popular UK boy band, One Direction, apparently wasn’t the only one out there.  In April, the American boy band, One Direction, sued the UK band, Sony Music Entertainment, and Syco Entertainment for trademark infringement, asking for $1 million in damages.  On September 5, the two parties settled and the UK band was allowed to go forward and keep the name “One Direction”.  The US band then expressly abandoned their ownership over the mark.  The settlement terms remain confidential at this point.

Indie metal label, Century Media, is suing about 7,500 people who have used illegal file-swapping to share two of their artists’ music, Iced Earth and Lacuna Coll.   The label rep claims that the practice has “killed an entire industry.”  We will have to wait and see if these lawsuits prove effective or if in the end, they unnecessarily destroy the bond between artist and fan.

James Taylor is suing his former record label, Warner Bros. Records, claiming around $2 million in damages from alleged unpaid royalties from digital outlets, like iTunes.   As per usual, in his recording contract, Taylor received a higher royalty rate from licenses compared to sales.  Through many audits, it was found that Warner Bros. had allegedly been underpaying Taylor, especially when it comes to royalties from digital outlets.  This issue is particular relevant now because of the 9th Circuit decision in the Eminem case that concluded that digital downloads constituted licenses, not sales.  It will be interesting to see how this case pans out.

The estate of Frank Sinatra was successful in blocking Bill Loizon’s attempt to trademark the name of his hot dog truck company, Franks Anatra.  Loizon claimed that the name had nothing to do with the late singer.  He stated that the term “Franks” means any frankfurter, hot dog, etc. and that “Anatra” means “duck” in Italian.  The Trademark Office was not convinced by Loizon’s arguments and decided that the connection to Frank Sinatra is too strong and therefore, Loizon cannot use the name “Franks Anatra” for his hot dog business.

In other food news, Ben & Jerry’s, sued Rodax Distributers and Caballero Video for allegedly infringing on the Ben & Jerry trademark in various pornographic movie titles.  A New York judge granted the ice cream company a temporary restraining order that required the porn companies to stop selling, distributing, advertising, and promoting the movies entitled, Hairy Garcia, Boston Cream Thigh, and Peanut Butter D-Cups, to name a few.  Ben & Jerry’s is concerned not only that the porn video titles will dilute their trademark, but that the packaging and artwork on the DVDs are too similar to the ice cream company’s logos.

Beef Products Inc. sued ABC News alleging defamation by several reports that aired earlier this year that reported the South Dakota company’s “beef product was not safe, not healthy and not even meat.”   Beef Products is suing ABC for $1.2 billion and claim they have lost millions of dollars in profit and also about half of their employees as a result of the reports.  To make matters worst for the beef company, ABC has dubbed the product “pink slime” which has, unfortunately, stuck in the minds of many consumers.

Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress in the controversial film, Innocence of Muslims, has sued the producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, alleging he misrepresented what the film was going to made into- apparently a film denigrating Muslims.  In particular Garcia alleges the producers “violated her likeness and participated in fraud and unfair business practices.”  In addition, Garcia is also seeking a permanent injunction against YouTube and Google, demanding they take the film down.  Garcia claims that she has received death threats because of the film and also has been fired from her job and estranged from her family.  Yet, Google still refuses to remove the content from their website.  Furthermore, a Los Angeles judge also ruled against Garcia and decided not to grant her an injunction forcing Google to remove the film from YouTube.  Judge Levin’s reasoning is that Garcia had not proven a likelihood of success on the merits.

Event Tomorrow: The IMSTA FESTA Shocklee Innertainment Panel Series

September 21st, 2012

There’s still time to RSVP for this great *free* event tomorrow at SAE Institute.

The full schedule of panels is as follows:

10:00 AM-11:00 AM
Doors open – Arrive early and join us for a FREE breakfast

11:00 AM – 11:15 AM

Welcome Address

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM
Keynote Presentation by 9th Wonder – Producer/DJ, CEO of It’s a Wonderful World Music Group, Jamla Records

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM
Press Conference and Q&A – Jeff Price Speaks:
The TuneCore founder and former CEO will address his departure from TuneCore in this exclusive in-conversation session also discussing the state of the new industry, publishing, the impact of YouTube and Venture Capital and how it works [or does not work]

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
The Current Climate of Music And Industry

The world of music is moving at lightning speed! During this discussion we’ll examine the current state of things and discuss the best ways you can achieve success with your project with marketing, social media & promotion tactics.

Featuring:
Rigo ‘Riggs’ Morales – VP A&R, Shady Records; Artist Manager
Amaechi Uzoigwe – Head of Content & Business Affairs, Official.fm
Liv Buli – Data Journalist, Next Big Sound
Jeff Price – Founder and former CEO of TuneCore, Co-Founder spinART Records

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
New Developments and Innovation In DJ & Production Technology

With so many cool products and tools being released on the regular, it’s an amazing time for beatmakers and DJ’s to innovate. We’ll talk about some of the coolest things going on.

Featuring:
Young Guru – Mix Engineer, DJ, Producer; Jay-Z, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Drake, T.I., Little Brother, Fabolous, Beyonce, Ghostface Killa, Nelly
Joe Lambert – Mastering Engineer; Dirty Projectors, The Black Crowes, Kanye West, Animal Collective, Holy Ghost, Chromeo, Ursula 1000, Deerhunter
Stephen Fortner – Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine
Roey Shamir – Engineer & Co-Owner of Area 51 Recording & Mastering Studio; Esperanza Spaulding, Jacob Latimore, Run DMC, Information Society, Mantronix,
9th Wonder – Producer/DJ, CEO of It’s a Wonderful World Music Group, Jamla Records; Little Brother, Rapsody, Destiny’s Child, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Drake, MURS

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Digital Distribution and ‘Radio’ Exposure How To Make The Two Ends Meet 

Traditional distribution, direct to fan, terrestrial and web radio, streaming, creative technologies, and artist partnerships are just some of the options available to today’s artists. We’ll talk about ways to maximize your efforts and get your project out to the masses.

Featuring:
Aaron Ford – Interactive Marketing, The Orchard 
Scott Englund – Client Service Manager, FanBridge
Ariel Hyatt – Founder, Ariel Publicity
Andrew Zarick – CEO & Co-Founder, StereoGrid and Digital Dumbo

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Revenue Streams & Legal Issues: It’s All About The Benji’s

From TV to online to games, films, multimedia and venues; music Is everywhere. Our panel will discuss the different ways you can get your music placed and will advise you on the areas to pay attention to when it comes to collecting your music money. We’ll also discuss some of the most important legal topics and issues you should look out for.

Featuring:
Sam Morrill – Sr. Manager of Content + Community, Vimeo
Jumee Park – Director, Film/TV Licensing, Downtown Music
Charlie Davis – Charlie Davis Music Licensing & Music Supervision
Kevin Erickson – Communications Associate, Future of Music Coalition
Brian Durant – Manager, Data Management, The Harry Fox Agency

6:10-7:00
How To Throw A Party Without Losing Your Shirt

So you really want to throw a gig? These NYC event promoters will give you insight on their experiences and tips on things to know before planning and promoting your next event.

Featuring:
Dave Q – Dub War, Twisup
Dave Gee – Methods, Darkroom
Patrick Rood AKA The Captain – Trouble & Bass
Luke McCann – Reconstrvct
Cliff Cho – Direct Drive
Jen Schiffer – Verboten New York

I’m most excited by the panels but I know there will also be a lot of music tech companies present, offering information about their products and services.

Artists – Apply to showcase at SXSW 2013

September 7th, 2012

The popular music conference South by Southwest (SXSW) is now accepting applications for bands that are interested in showcasing at the 2013 conference.

Submission details can be found here, although they’re all going through Sonicbids.  The deadline for applications is November 7 but if you apply by October 5 you get $10 off the application fee ($30 instead of $40).

As a side note – if you don’t get in an ‘official’ SXSW showcase, there are still lots of opportunities to get involved with the festival.  There a tons of day parties sponsored by various entertainment companies that are not considered official SXSW events but still have a great turnout and good possibilities for exposure.  Start asking your contacts now about their plans for SXSW and if they’d consider having you perform at their party.