Free Writing Classes @ Gotham Writers’ Workshop

September 14th, 2011

On September 20th and 21st, Gotham Writers’ Workshop is offering 1 hour writing classes for free.  Sign up here soon, as the classes are already filling up.   Classes include songwriting, tv writing, screen writing, creative writing 101, stand up comedy writing, and memoir writing, to name a few.

La-La-Lawsuits: A Look Back on August’s Finest Litigious Moments

September 1st, 2011

Florida rapper J.R. Bricks changed the name of his song ”Waffle House” to “After the Party” after  he received a cease-and-desist letter from Waffle House, Inc.  Despite the title change, the Waffle House reference remains in the chorus.

Lady Gaga is being sued by Rebecca Francescatti who claims the singer and her producing partner stole her song, “Juda,” to create the hit “Judas.” The plaintiff says she introduced her song to her former bass player and a sound engineer who was working with Gaga.  How similar are the two tracks? You be the judge. “Juda” is available here.  Gaga’s “Judas” here.

As I wrote about in a previous post, Spotify was caught using some nasty cookies that track customers even after they’ve tried to delete the cookies. Now, the popular music streaming service that just launched in the U.S., is one of the latest targets of a class action over breaches in privacy laws stemming from their use of the cookies.

The Writers Guild of America filed a claim against Bring It On: The Musical on behalf of Jessica Bendinger, the screenwriter of the 2000 Universal film on which the new musical is based.  The confidential arbitration demand asserts that Beacon Communications Corp. and Beacon Communications, LLC are exploiting Bendinger’s dramatic rights in the cheerleader-themed Bring It On without her consent, in violation of the guild agreement’s “separated rights” provisions. It seeks damages and an injunction against Bring It On: The Musical, which is being coproduced by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Beacon Communications and others.  Bendinger had been working on developing her own stage version of the story for the past six years and found out through the rumor mill that the show was being shopped without her involvement.

Dr. Phil and CBS have settled a lawsuit by Shirley Dieu and Crystal Matchett who alleged they were lured by promises of getting personal counseling from Dr. Phil himself, only to be locked during a 2007 filming of the show in a “mock house” on a sound stage and “forced to be in the same room with a completely naked live man while he exposed his entire naked body, genitals and all.”  Last January a California judge denied CBS’ anti-SLAPP motion and determined that the women showed a likelihood of success.  The details of the settlement have not been released.

Lindsay Lohan has sued rapper Pit Bullfor defamation and exploiting the Logan name in the song “Give Me Everything.”  The lyric at issue: “Hustlers move in silence, so I’m tiptoein’, to keep blowin’. I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan.” Lohan is seeking an injunction and damages.

Maria Menounos has been sued for defamation, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and intentional infliction of emotional distress by her former stylist, Lindsay Albanese, who claims that the ex-Access Hollywood host cost her clients by telling people she’s a thief.

20th Century Fox has won $40,000 in attorney’s fees from writer James Muller who sued the studio in 2009 claiming that the script for Alien vs. Predator infringed upon Muller’s script titled The Lost Continent.  In an order granting Fox’s motion for attorney fees, the judge gave three reasons why Muller’s claims were “frivolous and objectively unreasonable.” The stories were different, the alleged similarities were ill-conceived, and any similarities were not protectable by copyright, like stock themes.

Vampire Weekend  settled a lawsuit with model Kirsten Kennis who accused the popular indie rock band of violating her publicity rights by using an old photo of her on the 2010 Contra album cover. According to the complaint, the band obtained the photograph from the photographer, Todd Brody, who was accused of forging Kennis’s signature on the release form.  The details of the settlement are not disclosed but Kennis was seeking $2 million in damages.

Katherine Stockett, author of The Help, was awarded summary judgment in a lawsuit claiming that Stockett had based a character in the book on Ablene Cooper without her permission.  Cooper sought $75,000 in damages, but the summary judgment was granted in favor of Stockett because the one year statute of limitations had already elapsed when Cooper filed the suit.

The Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West) are facing legal action from R&B singer Syl Johnson for allegedly not clearing a sample from Johnson’s 1967 song “Different Strokes,” which appears on the track “The Joy” on their new album, Watch the Throne.

Miles Davis‘s estate is suing a Manhattan jazz club called Miles’ Cafe for infringing his allegedly trademarked first name.

August’s Notable Hirings, Firings & Promotions

August 31st, 2011

Richard Palmese is leaving his post as EVP of Promotion at RCA Music GroupTom Corson, another longtime executive there, was named the label group’s president and chief operating officer.

David Bohrman, the former chief of CNNs Washington bureau, is now the president of Current TV.

David Foster will soon lead UMG-owned Verve Music Group.  He is expected to focus the label’s roster on adult contemporary music.

Rob Stevenson joins Universal Republic as Executive VP of A&R, reporting into CEO Monte Lipman and COO Avery Lipman.

Peter Edge has been named CEO of RCA Music Group, the umbrella group of RCA, J, Arista, and Jive.

RIAA president Mitch Bainwol has officially stepped down, moving away from the music industry to the position of chief executive at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.  Replacing Bainwol as chairman and chief executive will be Cary Sherman, the organization’s president since 2001.

Pandora named Steven Kritzman as Senior Vice President of Advertising Sales.

The Orchard has taken on former Random House executive Peter McCarthy as SVP of Marketing.

Philip Ginthör is now CEO of Sony Music Entertainment GSA (Germany, Switzerland and Austria).

Edgar Berger has been named President & CEO of International at Sony Music Entertainment.

Don Was is now Chief Creative Officer at EMI-owned Blue Note Records.

Ethiopia Habtemariam, an influential young executive from Universal’s music publishing arm, has been named Motown’s senior vice president.

Stephen White is the new President of Gracenote.

Clear Channel Radio promoted Tom Poleman to President of Clear Channel National Programming Platforms and moved  Michele Laven to EVP of Strategic Partnerships.

Eric Dingman was ousted from his role as leader of Classics at EMIDavid Kassler will become the Chairman of Classics and Amanda Cupples will function as the Chief Operating Officer for the Global Classics business, focusing on strategy development and global coordination.

TAG Strategic has just named Jeff Becker as VP Social Media and Brand Marketing.

Bruno Mars manager Brandon Creed is now an A&R consultant for Universal Republic and Island Def Jam Motown, reporting into group chairman Barry Weiss.

More changes at Island Def Jam with layoffs including Garrett Schaefer (Bon Jovi, M Etheridge, Taio Cruz), Paul Resta (The Killers, Neon Trees, Noel Gallagher, Portishead, Noah and the Whale, Jon McHugh (head of Film/TV), JP Robinson (head of Creative) Sam Dailey (head of Phys Retail) and 30+ staffers.

Shortly following the layoffs at Island Def Jam, Sony Music Entertainment cut an estimated 25 employees, including Larry Kanusher (senior VP of business and legal affairs for global digital business), Tom Glaser (VP of sales and marketing research), and Linda Ury Greenberg (VP of consumer research).

Edgar Bronfman, Jr. is now Chairman of the freshly-acquired Warner Music Group, while Stephen Cooper will take on Bronfman’s former position of CEO.

And some news in lawyer-land…The Directors Guild has moved David Dreyfus from associate general counsel. Tiffanie Baker has been promoted to assistant general counsel to fill his spot. The moves come a few days after the guild’s Russ Hollander, David Korduner and Bryan Unger were promoted to associate national executive directors.

Steve Jobs has resigned as Apple CEO.  He will remain a chairman of the company. Tim Cook is taking over the CEO position.

NARM appointed five new board members.  They are: Christina Calio (Director, Relationships and Strategy, Media and Entertainment Group, Interactive Entertainment Business, Microsoft); Michael Davis (President; Alliance Entertainment Corporation); Adam Klein (President & CEO, eMusic); David Krinsky (Head of Label Relations & Business Development, Rhapsody); and Alyssa Vescio (Senior Buyer/Music & Digital Entertainment; Target).

Universal Music Group named Andrew Kronfeld as its first President of Global Marketing, reporting to Max Hole, COO of Universal Music Group International.

CMT named Leslie Fram Senior Vice President of Music Strategy.

Rightsflow promoted Michael Kauffman to Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Content, and Chris Lydle to Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Termination Rights Explained

August 30th, 2011

The subject of copyright “termination rights” has been a recent focus of the New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and countless other news sources, as artists are beginning to reclaim their copyright interest in sound recordings owned by record labels.  In this post, I’m going to attempt to clearly explain the concept and structure of the Copyright Act’s “termination clause” as well as discuss various issues and arguments that both sides (labels and artists) are making to support or counter the provision.  Even though I mostly discuss the provision as it applies to sound recordings and record labels, as that is the most ambiguous area of this law currently, it is important to realize that the termination rights also apply to other copyright protected works, such as musical compositions (i.e., this will be an issue for music publishing companies too).

§ 203 of the US Copyright Act: The “Termination Clause”

The 1976 US Copyright Act § 203 provides that any license or transfer of copyright or any right under copyright executed by the author after January 1, 1978 may be terminated after 35 years of the date of the license or transfer (or 40 years in certain circumstances) as long as the termination is done within 5 years after the 35 year mark begins.   Authors must also give notice of their intent to terminate the license no less than 2 years and no more than 10 years before they intend to terminate the grant.  There is a provision also built in for grants executed before 1978, but the rules are a different and those terminations won’t come due until 2018 at the earliest date for the first notice, so in the interest of simplicity, I will not get into the details at this point.

If there are more than one authors of a copyrighted work, the termination can be effected if a majority of authors who granted the original license decide to terminate.  Significantly, the termination right does not apply to works made for hire (which I discuss more below).

As an example of how this would work, let’s say the copyright of a sound recording was exclusively transferred to a record label in 1978.  35 years later, in 2013, the author or joint-author of the original work (the artist, most likely, in this case) could terminate this grant and take back the copyright from the label.  Because there is a minimum notice requirement of two years and a maximum of ten years, the author(s) can first give notice to the label in 2003.  There is a five year window within which the grant must be terminated (i.e., 2018 here), so the latest to give notice would be 2016.

Why are there termination rights in the first place?

The Copyright Act has gone through a number of versions, the most recent being the 1976 Act.  The 1909 Copyright Act had completely different term provisions for copyright.  The initial term of copyright protection was 28 years, and this protection could be renewed for an additional 28 year period, making the total 56 years.  An important feature of the renewal term was that even if an author had assigned all of his rights to a publisher or somebody else during the first term, the author would reacquire those rights at the beginning of the renewal term.  This renewal copyright would allow authors to renegotiate terms of licenses so they could better benefit from and get a larger share in the success of their careers.  Even at this stage in copyright law, one exception to this renewal period was for works made for hire.

The 1976 Act got rid of this two-term copyright protection structure, in its place imposing a single term of life of the author plus 50 years (later amended to 70 years in 1998) in most cases (there are exceptions where the term is different).  The amendment did not seek to abandon the ability of authors to regain control of their work after a given time period, so the termination provision was drafted.

The Labels’ Arguments…

As artists are now trying to reclaim their copyright interests in sound recordings, the labels are using two primary arguments to protect their interests in the sound recordings: (1) that the recordings are work for hires created by the artists for the label, and (2) that the artist is not the only author of the recording.

The Work for Hire Issue

Traditional record contracts almost always provide that the recordings made by the artist under the agreements are works made for hire.  Then, because (as I’ll get into below) sound recordings may not as a matter of law be able to be included under the work-for-hire umbrella, the contract provides that in the event the recordings are not deemed to be works made for hire under the copyright act, the artist assigns his or her copyright interest in the recordings to the record label.  It seems like these two sentences accomplish the same thing, but for purpose of the termination clause, the effect of the language makes all of the difference.  If the recordings are in fact works made for hire, the record company owns them and the artist never had a copyright interest to transfer; however, if the recordings were assigned by the artist, this would be a transfer for purposes of the termination clause and the artist could reclaim ownership and control over the copyrights 35 years later.

I think I got a little ahead of myself, so let’s take a step back to the basics of the work made for hire.

§ 201(b) of the Copyright Act provides the following:

Works Made for Hire. — In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright.

I’m sure you can already see the issue starting to unfold.  If a work is made for hire, the author who actually created it has no interest in the copyright or work, the employer or commissioner is considered the author for purposes of copyright.

But what qualifies as works made for hire?

In the definitions portion of the Copyright Act, a “work made for hire” is defined as follows:

(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or

(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, . . . as a compilation, . . . if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. …

Notice a word missing in part (2)?  You’ll see that “sound recording” is nowhere to be found.  Whereas motion picture and other a/v works are included, sound recordings are not expressly stated.  In 1999, the RIAA tried to quietly insert “sound recording” after “other audiovisual work” in the work for hire provision through The Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999.  The addition was not related to the subject matter of the bill and was only added in later drafts.  The amendment was enacted by Congress and President Clinton without discussion or debate.  Once musicians caught wind of this significant change, their disapproval led to a brief hearing which led to Congress retroactively repealing the amendment.  One might think that by Congress removing the “sound recording” language from the Act, it is confirming that sound recordings are not works made for hire.  Not necessarily, the RIAA did get Congress to add language to the Copyright Act stating that no such presumption could be made, that the removal of the language did not express approval or disapproval or any other legal significance.

Even though sound recordings aren’t expressly included in the work made for hire definition, the record labels will likely argue that the recordings were commissioned as a “contribution to a collective work” as a “compilation”, the full album in this case.   The artist would contend that each individual recording is a distinct work protected by copyright and its use as part of an album is incidental.  Unfortunately, some contracts may have this “collective work” language expressly included, further weakening the artist’s argument.  However, the emerging dominance of digital distribution as the primary method for music sales has led to a weakening of the album format.  Single recordings can be (and very often are) purchased independently of the album, a clear sign that the recording does not just exist to serve the collective whole of the album.

A separate argument may exist for the labels as to whether the artist may be considered an employee of the label, acting within the scope of his or her employment when recording the songs.  The law of agency determines whether a person was acting as an “employee” for purposes of the work for hire doctrine.  Some factors to be considered are: (1) control by the employer over the work; (2) control by employer over the employee; and (3) status and conduct of employer (such as providing benefits to the employee or withholding taxes) (CCNV v. Reid).  Applying these factors to the case of artists as employees of the record label, it seems that the artist would not be considered an employee.  In many cases, record companies now simply provide funds at the “front-end,” and distribution at the “back-end,” of a sound recording’s production.  Outside of this involvement, the label itself does not usually take control over the artist or the work (although this may vary in cases), the artist is responsible for engaging musicians and the producer, the artist does not usually record the work at the label’s office, the label does not provide employee benefits for the artist, and in most cases the label does not withhold taxes.  The labels could argue that they do have some control over the creative work, final creative control, and approval rights for the budget; however, the argument could subject them to back  tax liability.

An interesting historical sidenote – one theory for why sound recordings were not expressly excluded as work for hires in earlier copyright acts was because in the 1960′s the labels exerted much more control over the production and recording of the album – from engaging in-house producers and musicians to owning the recordings studios.  Because of the employment relationship developed through these practices, the labels did not initially seek out inclusion of sound recordings in the work for hire definition.

Producer as Author

Another issue that complicates termination rights is that the artist may not be the only author of the recording.  The producer may be an author too.  Producers also sign work for hire agreements with record labels.  Although not true in every case, most producers contribute creatively to the project, making decisions about the sonic characteristics and artistic quality of the sound to be captured in the recording.  And further, what if the session musicians and recording engineers are contributing creatively in the recording process?  If the producer is deemed to be a “joint author” and had transferred his or her rights to the label in a separate document than the artist, the producer would have an independent basis to terminate the grant and regain copyright in the recording.  The label could still exploit the recording as long as at least one of the other joint authors had not terminated their grant of rights to the label.  This could get very messy because if one but not all of the authors chooses to terminate the original grant and then re-license to another company, there would be multiple “versions” of the same sound recording on the market competing with one another.

As a side issue – what about foreign artists who signed recording agreements? Does it make a difference if the agreement was signed abroad, but the recordings are distributed domestically? What about if they were signed here, but relate to international sales or sub-publishing/distribution agreements?

Moving Forward

There is currently a push in Washington from the House Judiciary Committee to amend the Copyright Act in order to clarify the ambiguities as to who can benefit from the termination provision and reclaim their copyrights. “For too long the work of musicians has been used to create enormous profits for record labels, radio stations and others, without fairly distributing these profits to the artists,” said Michigan Representative John Conyers Jr. who was chairman of the Committee until January.  “Copyrights are a tool to be used by creators to earn a living from their work,” so it is important to ensure “a fair marketplace.”  Unfortunately, the amendment process is likely going to be long and complicated.

In the meantime, lawsuits are looming over many record labels as artists are beginning to take action to reclaim their copyright interests.  An anonymous source disclosed to the New York Times his understanding that some of the major labels (he distinguished the indie labels’ approach to this matter) want to take these issues to court, regardless of the time or money spent, while others think that that approach would alienate artists and prevent a more favorable renegotiation of these agreements.

Artists Taking Action

What artists have (allegedly) begun taking action on these termination rights?

  • Victor Willis,  the cop in the Village People is seeking to regain control over a 35-set songlist that includes ‘Y.M.C.A.’ (note – this is for their publishing, the rights in the composition, rather than the master recording).
  • Steven Greenberg, writer of the disco classic “Funkytown.”
  • Bob Dylan
  • Tom Petty
  • Bryan Adams
  • Tom Waits
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Loretta Lynn


In writing this article, I consulted the following resources (among those cited above).  These would make great further reading for anyone interested in the subject. [randomly ordered]


$25 Million Indie Film Scam

July 29th, 2011

And you were told nobody would invest in your indie film…

In mid-June, eighteen people were indicted for a $25 million indie film scam.  The boiler room scam consisted of telemarketers cold calling homes seeking investments in indie films, making false promises of 1,000% returns, movie credits, and uses of the investments.  Some of the “indie films” where never made and those that were often went straight to DVD or were made with a small budget.  For example, Cinamour Entertainment LLC collected $15 million to make “From Mexico With Love” from 450 of the “investors,” but the movie only cost $5 to produce.  The head of Burbank film company Q Media Assets, a former CIA agent, has already plead guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud, and tax charges.  A dozen defendants were named in the 45-count Cinamour indictment; nine defendants were charged in the 33-count Q Media indicment.

Press release form the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

La-La-Lawsuits: A Look Back on July’s Finest Litigious Moments

July 29th, 2011

Composer Jack Urbont is suing Sony Music Entertainment and Ghostface Killah for illegally sampling his “Iron Man Theme,” originally created for the 1960s television show, The Marvel Super Heroes.

A Florida judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by White Wave International Labs that claimed Lindsay Lohan and a business partner stole a formula for a sunless spray tan.

Orlando Magic (and former University of Arizona – go cats!) guard Gilbert Arenas recently followed Chris Bosh‘s and sued his ex-wife and the producers of VH1‘s Basketball Wives.  Here’s the complaint.

A California Superior Court judge  rejected Ticketmaster‘s settlement with a class of plaintiffs who claimed they were misled on “delivery fees” of concert tickets. According to the judge the settlement ”offered virtually no benefit to the class member.”

American Idol creator Simon Fuller  filed a lawsuit against Fox and Simon Cowell for an exective producer credit and a piece of ‘X Factor’ revenues. More details about the case here.

A New York federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by writer Martin Alexander who claimed he came up with a copyrighted sitcom entitled Loony Ben that bore a striking similarity to the Emmy-award winning ABC comedy Modern Family.  Alexander’s list of similarities over a show to be focused on “a non-traditional family” was not enough to meet the New York court’s threshold for “substantial similarity,” so Alexander will not be getting his demanded 50% interest in the copyright.

Glee co-creator Ian Brennan is being sued his friend Michael Novick, who claims he was promised 15% in backend compensation on the hit Fox musical after helping Brennan develop the show.

Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester sued her mother for getting plastic surgery on Meester’s dime.  The actress alleges her mother used money for plastic surgery, botox and hair extensions that Meester had sent for her brother’s care.  A week later, the mother, Constance, filed her own lawsuit against Meester, claiming Constance “sacrificed her own happiness” for her daughter’s career by paying $230,000 for the actress’s acting classes and education.  Constance also claims that Meester agreed to pay her $10,000 a month for her mother’s case, which Meester has never paid out.

A federal court in New York refused to dismiss David LaChapelle’s copyright infringement lawsuit against Rihanna, Def Jam Records and Black Dog Films.  LaChapelle claims that the video for Rihanna’s “S&M” infringes upon a number of his photographs.  The judge found that Rihanna’s team had access to LaChapelles work (they used it as references in their storyboard), that there is “substantial similarity” between the works, and that the fair use defense in this case is “misguided.”  A pre-trial conference is set for August 10.

CBS sued Lucas Reiter, writer of NBC’s new show The Firm, for tortious interference with contract, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.  CBS is claiming that Reiter and Entertainment One developed The Firm for CBS under an exclusive contract (which paid over $250,000) and then took it to NBC without CBS’s permission.  The Firm (show) picks up where Grisham’s novel The Firm leaves off.  It is set to air midseason with Josh Lucas as the star.

T-Pain, the R&B singer and producer widely credited with popularizing auto-tune, is suing Antares Technologies, the inventor of the auto-tune technology.  The singer is seeking an injunction to prevent Antavares from using his name, photograph, likeness, and his voice, claiming that continued implication of an endorsement will confuse and mislead the public and damage sales for his own new technologies, including his own voice-manipulation product “The T-Pain Effect.”

The View star Barbara Walters has been sued over allegations that she lied and defamed a woman in her 2008 autobiography Audition: A Memoir.  Nancy Shay claims to have had a relationship with Walter’s daughter nearly 30 years ago when both were teenagers. Shay says she was expelled from school at Walters’ behest back then, thus ruining her life, and was bullied to remain silent all these years. Now, after being allegedly subject to an unflattering portrayal in Walters’ memoirs, Shay is suing for defamation.

Heavy-metal rocker turned radio host and conservative preacher Bradlee Dean is suing MSNBC and Rachel Maddow for allegedly defaming him in a segment when she quoted a radio show statement he had previous made which stated in part “Muslims are calling for the execution for homosexuals in America… They seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do. Because these people are livid about enforcing their laws, they know homosexuality is an abomination.” The lawsuit claims $50 million in damages and alleges that Maddow twisted Dean’s comments in an effort to undermine Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

Joe Pesci is suing Fiore Films for $3 million and punitive damages after claiming they cut his role and salary in their John Gotti biopic, Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father.  Even though a contract was never signed, Pesci claims he was offered $3 million to play Gotti pal and enforcer Angelo Ruggiero and had already gained 30 pounds for the part.

Event Recap: Marketing Your Music

July 22nd, 2011

Last night I attended a seminar at the Gibson Showroom (former location of The Hit Factory studios) entitled “Marketing Your Music: Opportunities in Films, Television and Other Media.”  Although the topic is similar to a panel I co-organized for Women in Music last month, the seminar was pretty different.  It was not a panel, per se, but rather a presentation conducted by Dave Hnatiuk (pronounced Narek with a rolled r) and David Weiss, co-authors of the book Music Supervision.

In assessing this event, I’m going to be brutally honest.  That said, I completely understand how hard it is to put on an event like this, but today I get to wear the audience hat, rather than the event planner.

The event was set to start at 6 pm.  The coordinator of the event did not show up until around 6:45, so we were all waiting around the lobby aimlessly for almost an hour.  The set up was strange with limited seating.  The refreshments were appreciated, but the wine was so warm it was being referred to as “mulled.” There were technical difficulties; the video projector wasn’t working so we watched video examples on a laptop computer held up by David Weiss (who had a great sense of humor about the glitch, which made the experience much less awkward than it could have been).  The presentation itself (including the question and answer period) was no more than an hour, yet the event was advertised as taking place from 6 – 9 pm.  The seminar portion was seemingly cut short by the need for two performance, which took place following the presentation.  I’m not sure I can speak for others in attendance, but I did not attend this event to see a concert. “Live Music” was nowhere in the title of this seminar, and any mention of live performances I assumed would be as background or entrance music.  Those of us meeting each other outside of the room and exchanging information were constantly shushed and told to reenter the studio to see the performance.  The tickets for the event were $40, in my opinion steep for the hour of information.

The presentation itself was useful.  Dave Hnatiuk knows his way around the music industry.  He is a music supervisor, sound designer, engineer and musician.  He can communicate his experiences and advice thoughtfully and effectively to both industry professionals as well as artists.  He described specific examples of launch campaigns, ads, and shows that he music supervised, detailing the process. A number of online resources were thrown out, and I appreciated his honesty in criticizing many popular resources.  Surprisingly, when asked how he finds music, the first answers were Pandora and iTunes.  These may seem obvious, but with nonexclusive music libraries popping up all over the internet and claiming to be the direct link to music supervisors, I was surprised that supervisors stick to basic music providers.  In discussing these online libraries that license music, Hnatiuk said he doesn’t use them much, only when on a very limited budget.  He did praise them for having “authentic sounds.”

Tips for getting your songs placed?  Hnatiuk mentioned a few that I found particularly useful:

  • Make sure you have stems of your music.  Oftentimes the placement will require remixing or taking out certain parts of the song.
  • A direct pipeline to the music supervisor is great, but don’t stalk them!  Email once a month and if they aren’t writing back, take an honest look at your music and ask if it’s good and/or if it’s appropriate for the placement.
  • Send what the supervisors need; don’t force your music upon them if it’s not right.
  • Be specific in your emails about what you’re sending. Describe the music in the subject line of the email.

I’m sure Hnatiuk had much more wisdom to share, but unfortunately was cut short.

Aside from the presentation itself, the audience was a varied group and engaged in the presentation.  People were eager to network following the presentation but conversations were stopped by the live performances.  Some of us managed, however, and I was able to get to know a number of talented new people.  Overall, I can’t say I would spend another $40 on an event like this, especially when through Women in Music, I get to attend similar ones for free.  I did learn more about the current landscape of music supervision, and would be very interested to see the Daves on another panel again soon.

Event: Media Leaders Networking Event

July 18th, 2011

Join fellow Media Leaders in NYC for an event on July 19th to share ideas and enjoy meeting new friends. There’s no keynote speaker or panel of experts, just socializing and mixing with key influencers that are changing the way the industry operates.

Official RSVP required here:

This event uses these twitter hashtags: #MediaLeaders #NYC

Bring your business cards to take part in a cutting edge junction of leaders in marketing, advertising, PR, and technology while discussing current events and new innovations. We are a group of influencers that come together to exchange ideas and thrive on meeting new people while making lasting connections.

Where: LexBar at St Giles – The Court Hotel
130 E 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
When: Tues. July 19th @ 7-10PM
Who: See who’s attending

June’s Notable Hirings, Firings & Promotions

July 1st, 2011

Maria Pallante has been appointed the new Register of Copyrights and director of the United States Copyright Office.

Spotify head of global business development Faisal Galaria has departed.

Bob Cavallo is now departing as chairman of Disney Music Group.

NBC hired Rome Hartman to be the executive producer of an hour-long prime-time Brian Williams news program, set to air in the fall.

NBC also hired Vivian Schiller, newly (and controversially) departed from her gig as NPR’s chief executive,  as the newly created position of chief digital officer at NBC News.

Randall Roberts will replace Ann Powers as pop music critic at the LA Times, according to an announcement from the paper.

At Pitchfork, former Managing Editor Mark Richardson is now replacing Scott Plagenhoef as Editor-In-Chief.  Richardson started at Pitchfork in 1998.

ABC signed Katie Couric to a multiyear contract to host a new daytime talk show.

Former Clear Channel digital executive Evan Harrison has joined billboard company Van Wagner Communications as Chief Creative Officer.

BMI has just named theater composer, author and actor Patrick Cook as Director of Musical Theatre and Jazz.

RCA Senior Vice President of Pop Promotion Peter Gray is jumping to Warner Music Group to become SVP of Promotion for both Warner Bros. Records and Reprise Records.

The U.S. Senate has approved the nomination of Donald Verrilli Jr. as the nation’s solicitor general.

ArtistData founder Brenden Mulligan is now shifting to an advisory role at acquirer Sonicbids.

The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) has just named Olivier Hinnewinkel as its new Director General.

Music-focused sponsorship marketplace named Katherine Hollinsworth and June Kinoshita to lead global marketing and communications operations.

Facebook hired Joe Lockhart, the White House press secretary during President Clinton’s second term, to be its vice president of communications.

Universal Motown has folded, with most of its roster moving over to its sister label Universal Republic.  Massive layoffs took place and also some promotions.  Promotions include: Steve Gawley promoted to EVP/Business & Legal Affairs; George Marolda now CFO; Matt Voss promoted to SVP/International; Jon Vanhala now SVP/Digital, Brand Integration & New Business; Meredith Oliver now VP/A&R Administration.  Layoffs include: Tommy Nappi, VP/Top 40 Promotion; It Kundu, SVP/Rhythmic Crossover Promotion; Ank Palombi, VP/Field Operations; Kelley Ashtari, SF and PACIFIC N.W. Regional; Mitch Mills, VP/Adult Formats; Stephani Harty, VP/Alternative; L Guasetlla, VP/A&R; Margeaux Rawson SVP/Media Relations; Dina Rizzotto, Nat’l Dir. Top 40; Ricky Plotkin, NY Regional Promotion; Andrew Govatsos, New England Regional Promotion; Lynne Salivaras, Midwest Regional Promotion; Lori Lambert, Strategic Marketing

Alliance Entertainment named former Universal Music Enterprises executive Mike Davis as its new President.

Spin Magazine laid off Doug Brod, the editor in chief, and Malcolm Campbell, its publisher since 2006.

CNN’s senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is moving to network rival Fox News Channel.

Nic Harcourt is leaving KCRW for a full-time music supervisor position at MTV.

Imagem Music USA tapped Jon Pikus, formerly Senior Director of A&R at MySpace Records  as Creative Director, reporting into President Richard Strumpf.

The National Music Publishers’Association (NMPA) announced its latest board: Martin Bandier, Sony/ATV Music Publishing; Caroline Bienstock, Carlin America; Helene Blue, Helene Blue Musique Ltd.; Bob Doyle, Major Bob Music; John Eastman, MPL Communications; Roger Faxon, EMI Music Publishing; Neil Gillis, Round Hill Music; Laurent Hubert, BMG Chrysalis; Dean Kay, Demi Music Corp.; Leeds Levy, Leeds Music; Evan Medow, Secret Sauce Music; Ralph Peer II, peermusic; Matt Pincus, Songs Music Publishing; John Rudolph, Bug Music; Michael Sammis, Universal Music Publishing Group; Cameron Strang, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.; Richard Stumpf, Imagem Music.  Also re-elected is Board Chairman Irwin Robinson, The Richmond Organization.

Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) has named Jake Simon as Associate Director of Writer/Publisher Relations, reporting to Charlie Feldman and Samantha Cox, Vice President and Executive Director, respectively, in the same department.  As a side note, both Charlie and Samantha have been panelists at Women in Music events I’ve recently attended and written about here and here.

La-La-Lawsuits: A Look Back on June’s Finest Litigious Moments

June 30th, 2011

Back in April, Christian Leboutin slapped Yves Saint Laurent with a $1 million + lawsuit for trademark infringement, claiming that a pair of 2011 YSL shoes with a red sole violated Leboutin’s trademarked red soled shoe style and creates a likelihood of confusion in the marketplace.  Most recently, YSL backfired with a claim that Leboutin had fraudulently trademarked the red sole in an attempt to monopolize that style in the shoe industry, a style that dates back to 18th century Europe as well as The Wizard of Oz.  Trademark infringement suits are general fact intensive.  One interesting fact of the case is that the YSL 2011 contained shoes with green soles, blue soles, red soles, etc.  The case will likely be settled, as these high profile situations often are, but it does bring up questions as to what extent fashion designers can use trademark protection to claim exclusive use over a color.

The Black Keys (love them, by the way!) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a bank and advertising agency, claiming the defendants used the song “Tighten Up” without permission.

Dish Network has announced it has obtained a $25 million award and permanent injunction against and affiliates for pirating its satellite television.

Snooki has lost her license and potentially faces a civil lawsuit in Italy for crashing her car into the police.

Gail Dosik, who has run a Greenwich Village bakery called ”One Tough Cookie” since 2005, is suing Scripps Network over the Food Network‘s forthcoming baking reality show, Tough Cookies, arguing that Food Network’s new show is likely to confuse consumers.

A California judge has ruled that celebrities who walk down the red carpet at an Hollywood event imply their consent to the use of their likeness in photographs. The ruling dismisses a class action lawsuit brought by Shirley Jones, star of the TV series The Partridge Family.

A day before scheduled to go to trial, Dr. Dre settled a lawsuit with his former record label  WIDEawake Death Row Records over damages from unauthorized online sales of his album “The Chronic”.

Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, of the 1970s pop-punk group The Runaways,  filed suit seeking to enjoin distribution of a 36-track album, Take It or Leave It, which features contemporary groups like The Donnas, Peaches and Dandy Warhols covering classic Runaways material such as “Cherry Bomb.”  The pair claim that the release violates their right of publicity, using their likenesses to market the album without their permission.  Generally, no permission is needed to record cover songs, as there is a compulsory  mechanical license outlined in the Copyright Act with set royalty rates.

Warner Bros. settled the lawsuit with tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill.  Whitmill designed Mike Tyson’s famous face tattoo, and sued Warner Bros. over a similar version used in The Hangover 2 on Ed Helms face.  Whitmill was denied an injunction to stop the theatrical release of the film, and Warner Bros. had said that if the case did not settle, it would digital modify the tattoo image for the video release of the film.  Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

NBC prevailed in a lawsuit brought by writer Mark Gable, who claimed that the network stole a screenplay to create the hit series My Name is Earl.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a case brought by the heirs of John Steinbeck to regain control of the author’s books by using of the Copyright Act’s termination provisions.

Hip hop artist Lil Wayne has been sued three times in one week over one album, Tha Carter III. In two of the lawsuits, separate producers are seeking unpaid royalties. The other lawsuit involves an illegal sampling claim by Bridgeport Music, the publisher that controls rights to many George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic songs.

Viacom is suing Cablevision over Cablevision’s distribution of its channels including MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon on tablet devices like the iPad, claiming that such streaming constitutes a breach of contract and copyright infringement.

The Winklevoss twins dropped their 9th Circuit (California) lawsuit against Facebook related to the social networking site’s creation, reportedly accepting a settlement that was worth $65 million when they agreed to it in 2008; however, the next they day filed another suit against Facebook in Masachusetts federal court, seeking further discovery to support their claim that Facebook “intentionally or inadvertently suppressed evidence” during the 2008 settlement negotiations over whether  Zuckerberg stole their business idea.

Rapper 50 Cent sued Internet advertising company Traffix Inc. for using his image without permission in the graphic “Shoot the Rapper” ad, which he says promotes violence and threatens his safety.