Universal Music Group Settles With Rick James’ Estate For Over $11 Million
APR 14, 2015 @ 1:04 PM
After a several year-long court battle, it looks like Universal is finally ready to settle with the estate of Rick James and several other musicians in another in a series of legal cases that sought to redefine how the music industry categorizes digital downloads.
The case looked at the difference between buying a single (as people used to do in physical form) versus downloading one from a service like iTunes. The plaintiffs argued that such an action was not a traditional sale, but rather a licensing transaction, which comes with different royalty rates. Universal argued otherwise, but after several years of the case stretching out, they agreed to settle—though they maintain that they were paying fairly and according to the contracts they had signed with their artists.
The major label has agreed to pay $11.5 million to the plaintiffs, which could possibly number in the thousands. The case was fronted by bigger names like Rick James and Chuck D from Public Enemy, but there were over 14 artists that took part. After attorney’s fees and a certain amount that will be paid to the 14 artists who took pains to see this case through, the remainder of the $11.5 million will be pooled and split amongst all eligible acts.
The number of artists who may be able to take a piece of the settlement is huge, with parties involved estimating it at around 7,500. That number includes every singer, musician, and band that signed a deal with the label before 2004, as all contracts after then specifically stipulate how much every party is paid per digital download.
“For the older contracts and those artists known as ‘legacy’, there is now a clear answer to how much they’ll be compensated for past downloads, and they will now know how much they’ll be paid for them moving forward” said Len Simon, a lawyer that helped represent the plaintiffs.
The idea that digital downloads might actually qualify as licensed products began a decade or so ago when a company that owned much of Eminem’s early catalog sued the label, arguing that the structure under which the label and Eminem were being paid for iTunes sales was not fitting or fair. After losing the case but then winning on appeal, the entire industry took notice, and since then, suits have been brought against Warner and Sony, both of which also settled. Universal is the last of the major labels to close out a legal entanglement like this.
It’s interesting that this settlement comes about now, as digital downloads wane and streaming is quickly becoming king. The music industry seems to change and grow much faster than the American legal system, and often times legislation or court decisions come years after they are needed. The industry is likely gearing up for many years of streaming-related cases, the beginnings of which are just forming now.
Q&A: Record producer Clive Davis talks past, present, future of music industry
BY NICK LAROSA
Posted: April 7, 2015 12:00 am
Record producer Clive Davis, who is credited for launching the careers of musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and Alicia Keys, will be a guest lecturer for Music Industry 110: “Music Business NOW” Wednesday. (Courtesy of Clive Davis)
One of the biggest trends in the music industry over last 49 years is not a sound or style, but a man – Clive Davis. Fondly referred to by his industry peers as “the Man with the Golden Ears,” Davis’ ability to identify top-level talent has cemented him as a titan in his industry. He has won four Grammy Awards, the Grammy Trustees Award, the President’s Merit Award, and, in 2011, the theater inside the Grammy Museum was named the after him. He is also credited with launching the careers of Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston and many more, which earned him an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer.
On Wednesday, Davis will give a lecture for music lecturer Jeffrey Jampol’s Music Industry 110: “Music Business Now” course to share what he has learned over his long and influential career. The lecture will be open to all students, taking place in Schoenberg Hall.
The Daily Bruin’s Nick LaRosa spoke with Davis to discuss his past experiences, current trends and the future of the music industry.
Daily Bruin: You’re coming as a guest lecturer to speak at Jeff Jampol’s “Music Business Now” course. How did you meet Jeff and the rest of his teaching team: Steve Berman, Tom Sturges and Arron Saxe?
Clive Davis: I know Jeff and have worked with him on a few matters, but I’ve mostly been working with Tom (Sturges), and I’ve known Tom for many years. He was head of (Universal Music Publishing Group) and before that … he was head of Chrysalis Music. We met when I was looking for a duet for George Michael and Aretha Franklin. We found “I Know You Were Waiting for Me,” and Tom Sturges came up with that song. That was the early 1980s, so I’ve known Tom for many years.
DB: You often emphasize the importance of education and even founded the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at your alma mater New York University. What does it mean to you to be a true student of the music industry?
CD: It means that music is one of the most important life forces that moves and influences you. If music is in you, it’s not a 9-to-5 job, it’s not something that you look at your watch to stop – it’s something that defines and exhilarates you, something that you want to know everything there is to know about. The reason that I founded the institute in my name is because, growing up, when it comes to contemporary music, there were no real schools that specialized or gave students the opportunity to specialize in music. There were classical or jazz schools and courses, but none that dealt with contemporary music. From my perspective, the best way to give back was to found an institute where, whether you are a performer or a producer or someone who just loves music and wants that as their profession, you would have the opportunity to pursue that in the same way as someone who had been studying classical music or even film.
DB: You wrote in your autobiography, “The Soundtrack of My Life,” that at the time you began working for the legal department of Columbia Records, you wouldn’t have considered music a hobby of yours. How did you go from that state to describing music as “the professional passion of your life”?
CD: This was an accident that I got into music. I was in my 20s when I started at Columbia Records, and, initially, in order to practice law, I wanted to learn everything there was to know about the record industry. I had no clue that I would find out that I had the ears. I had no clue that I was entering into a unique and special phase of my life. So I read everything that I could, I listened to everything that I could and I wanted to know as much about it as I could because I didn’t want to serve as general council or advise executives unless I felt that I knew their business.
DB: While music itself may not be experiencing the degree of revolutionary change that it was when you entered the field, the industry surrounding it certainly is. With means of distribution, exposure and recording changing so rapidly in the last decade, where do you see the music industry in, say, five years?
CD: I do think that there is a growth in streaming, so I do believe that more and more the percentage of music that is consumed that way will continue to grow. The CD itself, the physical CD, is still potent and, for its sound and a variety of other reasons, is staying around. But the trend is certainly towards the continuation of the digital revolution. I think that’s what we are seeing, whether it be through Spotify, Pandora, (Apple Inc.) or Jay Z’s new Tidal company.
DB: What do you do to stay sharp and maintain your knowledge of the industry?
CD: I read as much as I ever did. I certainly read every article published on music and the music industry. I get a compilation daily, so whether an article is in the Los Angeles Times, or Time magazine or a UK paper, I read that daily. I probably get a two-inch thick copy of every article in music everyday. And, then, to keep my ears current because I’m still producing artists, every week or so I bring home the top albums from each genre to see what’s new, because there are subtle changes taking place in radio and, when you stop, that’s when you go over the hill. You don’t leave things to chance; you have to stay an expert.
Compiled by Nick LaRosa, A&E contributor.
Q&A: Lecturer Jeffrey Jampol discusses course, joining music industry
Posted: March 31, 2015 8:13 pm
UCLA music lecturer Jeffrey Jampol has worked in the music industry for more than four decades and has spent 15 years developing and fine-tuning his course, “Music Business Now.”
From watching the Sex Pistols at Winterland in 1978 to founding his own music-oriented JAM, Inc., he gained industry experience and connections which he now seeks to share with his students. His connections include Clive Davis, who will be speaking as a guest lecturer at the class, which will be open to the public on April 8 at 6 p.m. in Schoenberg.
The Daily Bruin’s Nick LaRosa spoke with Jampol to discuss the formation of the course and what it takes to make it in the music industry.
DB: How did you go from managing and producing punk bands to teaching a college course titled “Music Business Now?”
JJ: I do a lot of volunteer work in drug counseling and recovery, and there’s an old saying in that community that goes, “You can’t keep it, unless you give it away.” The thing about the music industry and the record business is that it’s a relationship business. It’s who you know. It’s also about not falling into these potholes and quicksand traps on the side of the road. I’ve already made so many of the near fatal mistakes. I’ve stepped in the potholes and I’ve been buried in the quicksand and I’ve expended blood, sweat and tears forming these relationships. So for me, a big part of me getting into education was wanting to open doors and give students the keys.
DB: So how does your class go about teaching something as amorphous as the music industry? It’s not exactly something that there is textbooks for.
JJ: Through hands-on experience. We spent 15 years using the UCLA Extension as a lab to build the biggest, strongest, most bulletproof, real-time deep experience for the students. The whole class is focused around the final. Around week two we divide the class into what we call marketing pods. They are going to have to work together.
If you work at a record label or marketing company, you work with the people you got, and if something’s not right, then you have to change you, not them. We (assign) them an artist, and their job is to create a plan to take that artist to the next level. For the final, each of these pods has to give an oral presentation in front of the class and guest judges. Then we huddle and give them their final grade right there in front of everybody.
DB: That’s a bit of a crucible.
JJ: Welcome to the music industry.
DB: So there is the potential for the students’ plans to get to the artist?
JJ: I’ll take it one step further. One of the things we do for each pod is to make all the calls and get them connected. We give them real access to the record label, their manager and their agent. The students can take meetings with the managers and people from the label and even sometimes the artists or the band. Many times, the artists actually use some of the students’ ideas. We’ve had Macy Gray come in and explain why she was going to an independent record label and we made her one of the artists for that year, we’ve had The Airborne Toxic Event come in and perform for the kids. And this year we have (Clive Davis.)
DB: In some industries a degree is a prerequisite that you must obtain before you can start working in that field. With music, that is not the case. If someone wants to work in the industry, would you recommend getting started immediately, even if still in college?
JJ: I mean, I don’t want to tell my students how to live their lives, but if you want to work in this industry then you have to let it subsume you. The sooner the better.
Compiled by Nick LaRosa, A&E contributor
Tupac Estate Gets ‘Total Reset’: New Music and More on the Way
By Steve Baltin | March 27, 2015 12:00 PM EDT
As the 20th anniversary of the rapper’s 1996 death approaches, an evocative Powerade ad sets the tone for a reimagination of his legacy.
Tupac Shakur photographed in New York City on April 2, 1994. – Ron Galella Collection/WireImage
Late in February, Powerade premiered a commercial starring Chicago Bulls all-star Derrick Rose and the voice of the late Tupac Shakur reading poetry taken from his song “Mama’s Just a Little Girl.” As a child, representing Rose, rides his bike through an inner-city neighborhood, the voiceover intones, “You wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals.”
The spot marks the beginning of a “total reset of the Shakur estate,” says Jeff Jampol, whose JAM Inc. was brought in by Afeni Shakur early in 2013 to oversee her son’s business. In partnership with Tom Whalley — current head of Loma Vista Records, who signed Shakur to Interscope in 1991 — the company plans to mirror the work it has done managing the legacies of the Doors, Rick James, Janis Joplin, the Ramones and Otis Redding, and consulting the Michael Jackson estate — specifically overseeing licensing, apparel and other media ventures. As the 20th anniversary of the rapper’s September 1996 death approaches, elements in the works include new apparel rolling out later in 2015, collections like a recent Grammy Museum exhibit showcasing Shakur’s writing, and a biography by a “very serious writer” whose deal is being finalized, Jampol says.
But top of the list is the rapper’s creative work — “Almost an embarrassment of riches,” Jampol says, listing “unreleased music, released music, remixes, original demos, writings, scripts, plans, video treatments, poems.” And although multiple posthumous albums have been issued since Shakur’s death (to strong sales and mixed reviews), Jampol and Whalley contend a wealth of still-untapped material remains — the value of which can’t be understated, considering 33.8 million Tupac albums have been sold in the U.S. alone since 1991, according to Nielsen Music.
“Some of [the material] is in bits and pieces, some of it is complete; some of it is good, some of it needs work,” says Whalley, who has explored much of the archive. “But I think the work that is left can be completed, and is worth his fans hearing.”
For proof, look no further than the buzz around “Mortal Man” from Kendrick Lamar’s new LP, To Pimp a Butterfly, which includes a 1994 Shakur interview refashioned into a conversation between the two MCs. “I thought it was a brilliant idea, and they sent me portions of what he was thinking of doing, and I supported it. I think if Tupac was here, he would have tremendous respect for Kendrick Lamar’s work.”
In fact, Lamar’s name came up even before the estate was approached about “Mortal Man,” when Whalley and Jampol were exploring options for the Shakur recordings. One scenario involved having contemporary artists set Shakur’s words to music a la 2014′s Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, which recontextualized unused Bob Dylan lyrics from 1967. Whalley confirms that such an approach is under consideration, and adds, “At some point in time, Kendrick would be brilliant to work with Tupac’s [material]. He’s one of the new great poets.”
The Doors, Radiohead, Joan Baez Added to National Recording Registry
BY DANIEL KREPS March 25, 2015
Radiohead’s OK Computer, the Doors’ self-titled 1967 debut and Joan Baez’ 1960 album Joan Baez are among the 25 recorded works that have been selected for inclusion into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand!, the Righteous Brothers’ 1964 single “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and Ben E. King’s classic “Stand By Me” were also picked for the Library of Congress’ Class of 2014, bringing the total number of inducted recordings to 425, Variety reports.
The list’s choices range from comedic (Steve Martin’s 1978 LP A Wild and Crazy Guy) and historic (radio coverage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral from April 14, 1945) to influential (Blind Lemon Jefferson’s 1928 blues single “Black Snake Moan” and “Match Box Blues”) and educational (a 1995 collection of Sesame Street‘s “all-time platinum hits”).
The earliest recording from the Class of 2014 is a collection of Vernacular Wax Cylinder Recordings from the University of California, Santa Barbara, consisting of “over 600 homemade cylinder recordings made primarily in the 1890s, 1900s and 1910s,” the Library of Congress writes. The most contemporary recording, edging out Radiohead and Hill, is the Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s 1999 performance of Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman. While nearly every decade from the 1890s to the 1990s is represented, nothing from the 1980s was deemed Congress-worthy this time around.
In their explanations of why each recording was selected, the Library of Congress writes of Radiohead’s OK Computer, “On their third album, Radiohead create an information-age dystopia characterized by psychopaths, corrupt politicians, ill-behaved consumers, tyrannical robots, airline disasters, car crashes and failed safety protocols. For the album, the band had mostly stripped away such alt-rock signposts as personalized lyrics, sinus-clearing guitars and thunderous bass and drums. The ghosts of the Pixies and Nirvana have been decisively exorcised. The presence of fin de siècle electronic dance music, jazz, 20th-century classical and dub are all palpable.”
As for why The Doors was picked, “The Doors as a rock group was an unusual assemblage – a jazz keyboardist, a flamenco guitarist, a jazz drummer and a poet vocalist – that somehow coalesced into a band with a sound unlike that of its peers.” Check out the Library of Congress for the full list.
“Congress understood the importance of protecting America’s aural patrimony when it passed the National Recording Preservation Act 15 years ago,” Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a statement. “By preserving these recordings, we safeguard the words, sounds and music that embody who we are as a people and a nation.”