Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

The Many Trials (Literally) of Lil Wayne: An Editorial February 25, 2010

Financially draining, time-consuming, and often, silly lawsuits are nothing new in the numbingly complex music industry.  It runs especially rampant in the world of rap.  Just type in a rap artist or producer’s name along with the term ‘copyright infringement’ to see how common it is.

Lil Wayne

So it comes as no surprise that yet another artist becomes entangled in the intricate webs of lawsuit-dom.  In a February 22nd blurb in Uncut Magazine (online)[1], rap artist Lil Wayne and his label, Cash Money records, are being sued for copyright infringement over the tune “Mrs. Officer”, from his 2008 album Tha Carter III.  According to the $2.5 million dollar lawsuit, producer of the song Darius ‘Deezle’ Harrison and music publisher The Royalty Network[2] claim they own the rights to the song, and rights to any profits from ring tones, music videos or streaming media[3].

Regardless of your level of expertise in the industry, it is not hard to see that there are a lot of people involved in the recording process.  Having a look at the liner notes inside of an album’s booklet shows just a fraction of the people involved in the making of a record.  Being that there are so many factors, it is not surprising that someone at some point would have a problem.  For this particular case, let’s quickly examine the two biggest trouble areas in this case, songwriting and producing.

The task of songwriting is very self-explanatory: they are hired to write and usually arrange a song, tailoring it specifically to fit the hiring artists’ wishes.  In the case of “Mrs. Officer”, reviewing the credits on the album would show that the writing credits are given to not two but three people: Dwayne Carter, Darius Harrison, and Robert Wilson (Lil Wayne, Deezle, and guest artist Bobby Valentino, respectively)[1].  From a publishing standpoint, this would suggest that any money a publishing house collects off of any media use would then be awarded to and divided between the credited writers.

A producer is a bit more involved; they are essentially responsible for the overall recording process.  Their multiple tasks include but are not limited to: finding a studio, determining recording dates, hiring the necessary mixers/engineers/additional musicians, etc.  And if one hires a more hands on producer like a Timbaland, Dr. Dre, or Kanye West, the responsibilities can grow to include: performance, sampling, programming beats, weeding out demos, song arrangements, track list selection, and even personally mixing and engineering the record.  In this area, ‘Deezle’ Harrison is credited as the sole producer of the song.

But does performing either of these difficult tasks mean that ‘Deezle’ has the right to claim ownership over a song that isn’t completely his?  Not necessarily.

Don't get ahead of yourself Deezle

In the process of recording an album, it is fairly normal for both producers and songwriters to be hired on a work for hire basis[2][4]; they are hired independently for that specific task and are paid some type of set fee upfront.  More importantly, this means that unless it is specified otherwise in the contract for the job, being for-hire involves the limiting or giving up of rights to the song and waiving collection of any future publishing money, so long as they are paid for the task and (usually) credited.  Basically, once they complete the task that they have been paid to do, they are absolved from any further involvement with the album, unless stated otherwise.

This doesn’t improve things on the Royalty Network front, as their ability to collect money from profits depends on whether or not the work on the song was a work for hire.  If not, then they are not entitled to anything; if it was a collaboration with any type of specific publishing details being worked out, then it’s time to pony up.

But this still doesn’t address who lays claim to the actual ownership of the song, which seems to be the big deciding factor here.  It would be great to get more in-depth with the rights and laws that are involved within this type of case, but there are only so many hours in a day; only so much a person with a life can devote.  So unfortunately, not much else can be said without conjuring up a migraine of technicalities.

But if you were to ask me, I’d say that it’s just another case of a producer greatly overestimating his importance, mixed with a publishing company’s attempts to milk the current cash-cow that is Lil Wayne on the back of one it its clients.

It’s nice to know that in an attempt to make a living off of creating, there are always money-minded sharks willing to ruin it for everyone.  Shame, shame, shame.

-Mark B.


[1] http://www.uncutmag.net/2010/02/lil-wayne-sued-over-mrs-officer.html
[2]
http://www.roynet.com/
[3]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tha_Carter_III
[4]
http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/wfh.html
[5]
http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf

 

Rolling Blown: The Demise of Rolling Stone as a Definitive Music Journal February 17, 2010

By Alexander Castiglione, aka Stigz

Anybody that has a subscription to Rolling Stone probably knows where I’m going with this.  For those of you that don’t get the music journal in the mail; bear with me.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed something going on with Rolling Stone.  Specifically, who was on the cover.  The particulars are as follows: I have seen, in recent memory, a half-dozen covers which made me stop in my steps.  Especially since this is the same magazine that used to have legends like Jimi and Robert Plant on the cover, and even more obscure up and coming acts which we all know and love.  However, Lil Wayne, like this past week’s cover, is not a person I would say is contributing to rock.
Or music.
Or the planet, for that matter.

In fact, he makes the top five for people we should euthanize, slightly behind Carson Daly and Ryan Stop-Fuckin’-Smiling Seacrest.  Of late, we have also seen beauties like Megan Fox, absolutely delicious.  Or Shakira – who should permanently jack Kit Kat’s catch phrase, “Break me off a piece,” and have it forever floating over her head holographicaly.  Somebody should call Steve Jobs about this.  And it makes a whole lot more sense than the I-Pad.  But I digress.

Even John Mayer, who regardless of your take on him/his music/his fans, is a legit musician.  Mayer uses his Strat to slay a dragon with some serious riffs, and still breaks it down jazz style to have panties dropping from here to Japan.  Say what you will about him, or this new “Sex Object” PR approach his people are spinning, but this dude can wail.  In short, he earned a cover.

Then we have, which to be honest I thought it was the cover of an AARP catalog, the November 29th 2009 issue of Rolling Stone with Bono, Mick Jagger, and Bruce Springsteen on the cover.  Yes, I know it was regarding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Yes, I know it was a big deal.  And yes, now I know that two of the three are well acquainted with the good products from the great people at Pfizer.  But is this what Rolling Stone is about?

This magazine, of which I am a devout reader, has had some of the best pieces in not only music journalism, but journalism in general.  They all were about rock in some capacity.  Movies, music, cars whatever, they all related to the “Rock & Roll lifestyle.”  About this elusive and enchanting counterculture filled with good times, loud tunes, tattoos and smoking hot women, which has rocked this country for the last half century.  Yes, sex symbols make sense.  Yes, geriatric rockers make sense (however un-photogenic).  But Lil’ Wayne?  Come on!

Lil Wayne (whose name in itself makes me want to climb a clock tower) is in my book right under Kanye West.  The title of the book?  Douchebags Who Have Contributed Nothing to Music.

Being an aficionado of all music, whether it’s classic rock, metal, post-hardcore or electronic dance music, I can be safe in saying that Lil Wayne and Kanye (and anybody functioning under their paradigm of sampling and using sound effects to no avail and calling it “original”) are the bane of the music industry, and do not deserve the cover of Rolling Stone.  Vibe, yes.  Jet, Ok.  But Rolling Stone – never.
Ever.
Period.

Rock, which is what Rolling Stone should be about, is about sticking it to the man (yea, I stole the Jack Black line from School Of Rock), about finding your voice and screaming it out to the world, about displaying yourself and breaking it down by lyrically tearing apart this random series of tragedies, accidents, joys, hates, failures, and triumphs we call life.  Not about bling, not about retarded Bentley tattoos, and not about who wins the most Grammy’s, but about who actually earns them.  And even Grammy’s lost their appeal, as they have slowly but surely become the music industries equivalent of a high school popularity poll.

The naysayers of this article will say, “Well, it’s pop culture, and that’s kind of what Rolling Stone reports on. Trends in music and stuff…”  Well fuck that.  And fuck pop culture.  Since when did Rock & Roll, or any music for that matter, become about “what’s popular.”

Music is about what moves you.  Music is about what inspires you.  Music is what soothes your savage beast – or uncages it.  Music is what connects us with everyone, everywhere, for all time.  Music is about vibing with the tonal creations of another human being.  Music, good music, is not pop culture.
Pop culture is the enemy.

PS Rolling Stone, please, please, I beg you, stop harboring the adversaries of musicality.

 

2010 Grammys- Taylor Swift’s Day or Mayday February 5, 2010

By Gregory Swindasz

So the Grammys are all said and done, but the dust storm known as Taylor Swift has not yet settled.  Taking home the most honored award in the music industry has not helped the doe-eyed country phenomena, in fact, it seems to have only hurt her future.  As we all know, after the Kayne West MTV VMA embarrassment, Swift was on top of her game.  Even Obama called West a “jackass”.  We all felt bad for the cute young sacran-sweet blond from Tennessee.  Her teenage ballads remind us of a time when we were young and hopeful for our fairytale ending (“Love Story”) or of the vulnerable times of young lives (“Fifteen”), but no one, at least of those who I have spoken to, thought she deserved what she got – either at the VMAs or the Grammys.

With contenders like “I Am…Sasha Fierce” (Beyoncé) and “The Fame” (Lady Gaga), Swift’s “Fearless” did not seem to compare for Album of the Year.  As cute as the songs are, this was not game changing music that would go down in the anthems of American music history.  Songs like “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” or “Poker Face” had a bigger impact on the music world then “Fifteen”.

This is only one piece of the puzzle.  Her performance at the Grammy Awards (and really at any other live on-air performance) was less than stellar.  So much so it prompted CEO of Big Machine Records, Scott Borchetta, to say to the Associated Press: “This is not `American Idol.’  This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note.  This is about a true artist and writer and communicator.  It’s not about that technically perfect performance.”  When the CEO of your record label has to compare the Grammys to American Idol to defend your seemingly undeserved victory, something is off, and it’s not just her pitch.

There is something off here.  Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Green Day and so many others gave perfect and amazing performances.  Beyoncé whipping her hair around as she bounced up and down on her knees, Gaga singing with Sir Elton John, or even the triumphant claim by Will.i.am at the end of the Black Eyed Peas performance “Welcome to the future” is what the Grammys are all about.  I’m sorry Taylor, if you’re going to win Album of the Year, at least sing on key.

There could have been something else here.  I remember hearing a few months ago that Swift was what the young people wanted, so the music industry was going to give it to them.  If giving Swift this highest of honors was in some way a shot at reclaiming sales lost to piracy, then that truly is the furthest thing from honorable.  Personally, I don’t believe that’s true.  We will all just have to watch and see how things go.  There is something off here, maybe it is just her pitch or maybe we will never know.

 

The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards…Some Thoughts. February 4, 2010

By Tina Teresi

  • First off, I think the Grammy Awards should be offered as a Pay-per-View special or something.  Only the most popular awards get aired on national television while the rest are given out preceding the televised event.  I don’t think the masses even know they give out Grammys for Instrumental, New Age, Jazz, Gospel, Bluegrass, Blues, Folk, Hawaiian, Native American, Latin, Cajun, Reggae, Metal, World, Children, Musicals, Soundtracks and Classical music.  I feel that if you’re winning a Grammy, it should get aired on national television, regardless if it’s trendy or if the recipient is present.  If it was on Pay-per-View at least I’d be able to fast forward the awards/performances I have zero interest in.
  • To the voting members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, please consider airing these categories next year (thank you for adding Best Comedy Album this year [Colbert Christmas, The Best Gift of All], that was cool of you): Best Electronic/Dance Album (The Fame, Lady Gaga), Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance (“Working On A Dream”, Bruce Springsteen), Best Hard Rock Performance (“War Machine”, AC/DC), Best Metal Performance (“Dissident Aggressor”, Judas Priest), Best Reggae Album (Mind Control, acoustic, Stephen Marley) and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package (Neil Young Achieves Vol. 1- 1963-1972).
  • Taylor Swift’s Fearless took home Best Country Album, I have no problems with that.  What I do have a problem with was her acceptance speech.  She thanked her record label for letting her write her own music.  Way to call attention to an ongoing problem with the major labels out there, Swift.  Hear what Dave “The Klone” has to say about it here.
  • I was not thrilled with Beyoncé’s performance, felt like I’ve seen it before.  And why would she cover ‘You Oughta Know’ by Alanis Morissette?  That was a terrible idea.  Beyoncé did not have the right attitude for the song.  If she was smart, she would have had Morissette on stage and performed it as a duet.  Morissette can kick Beyoncé’s musical ass any day of the week.  That’s right, I said it.
  • The Best New Artist award went to the Zac Brown Band this year.  I would have liked to see it go to The Ting Tings or MGMT instead.  Win some, lose some.
  • I loved that this year the Grammy Awards provided a countdown time with the ‘coming up’ announcements right before a commercial break.  There’s nothing worse than blindly waiting for your favorite artist to take the stage or accept an award.  Well done.  I also loved the commercials.  Watching the Grammys for me is like watching the Super Bowl for others.  You root for your favorite artist/team to win, some people have a party around this event, the commercials are great, you know it cost tons of money to produce it and there are performances.  It’s just a coincidence that there is only a week in-between these two events .
  • The Record of the Year award went home with Kings of Leon for Use Somebody. I’m just happy they won because I’d have some serious beef with the NARAS members if it went to Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas or Taylor Swift.  Kudos to Kings of Leon for giving a cool acceptance speech, they told it like it was: “Not going to lie, we’re all a little drunk, but happy drunk”.  They thanked the usual people- their fans, families, God, and their label.  “Whoever else I forgot, I’ll buy you shots afterward”.  I’m still waiting for my shot Nathan Followill.  ;)
  • Worst performance of the evening goes to Jamie Foxx singing “Blame It” with T-Pain, Slash and Doug E. Fresh  I felt like it was a variety show, just too much going on at once.  I hate auto-tune.  It can  instantly turn anyone into a rap star, and I think it’s used too often (Jamie Foxx, did you add T-Pain’s Auto-Tune app on your i-Phone?).  If you need to use auto tone, you probably should not be on a stage.  Then Slash walks on stage and a piece of me died.  They could have used any guitar player, (a line of guitar is the only thing that can save a monstrosity of a song like this), but why Slash?  What do you think?  Did Slash take the gig because, well, a gig’s a gig or do you think he likes this song?  Or maybe Jamie Foxx just likes being surrounded by famous people.  I mean, have you seen the video for “Blame It”?  Ron Howard, Jake Gyllenhall, Samuel L. Jackson?
  • What a monstrosity Taylor Swift’s performance was!  I don’t know what the big deal about Taylor Swift is anyway.  I’ve never liked her voice nor thought she was talented enough to be the country pop star that she is today.  How embarrassing to perform with your so-called “idol” and be singing off-key.  Swift is 20 years old and with this performance, proved that she’s not talented enough or ready for the Grammys.  Never mind Jamie Foxx, Taylor Swift just took the worst performance of the evening from you.
  • It’s hard to believe that Bon Jovi has never performed at the Grammys before; it’s even harder to believe they limited his song selection to three choices so that the fans could vote.  I imagine that if I were in a band as awesome as Bon Jovi and performing at the Grammy Awards for the very first time that I would want to choose my entire set list.  They start with “We Weren’t Born to Follow” then joined by Jennifer Nettles for “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and finish with fan’s choice of “Livin’ on a Prayer”.  I like how no one told Jennifer Nettles to get off stage after her song.  The fans voted on the song, not on her sharing the vocals.
  • Best Rock Album, what a misleading bunch of nominees.  I had no problem with Black Ice by AC/DC, Live From Madison Square Garden by Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood or the winner 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day.  My problem was with someone placing U2′s No Line On The Horizon and Dave Matthews Band’s Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King in the Best ROCK Album category.  I’m not a fan of U2 or DMB and most certainly would not consider them in the same genre of rock as the other nominees.  Congratulations Green Day, let’s hope 21st Century Breakdown really is the Best Rock Album of the year, and you better knock on wood, find a four-leaf clover and rub a rabbit’s foot that your musical isn’t a flop.
  • Honestly, I think the rumor of Taylor Swift winning Album of the Year because of the Kanye West incident at the MTV Music Awards was true.  After her horrific performance with Stevie Nicks, how could anyone believe she deserves this award?  Granted, I’m not a fan of the other nominees this year, but anyone would have been a better choice than Swift.  Deep down, everyone knew she didn’t deserve this award, even her.
 

Could The Kings of Leon be the new Rock Royalty? September 17, 2009

By: Greg Swindasz

With three Grammy nominations and one award, a world tour, and a new album coming next year will the Nashville band-of-brothers be the next legendary rock band?

The Kings of Leon are by no means a new or upcoming band.  Their follow up to Only by the Night, which was the number one album in the UK in 2008, will be their fifth major studio album.  They have a huge international fan base; Kings of Leon also headlined the Glastonbury, which is the UK’s oldest music festival.  With all of this love and their constant playlist on the radio, it is hard not see to a very bright future.  However, they were not winners this weekend in New York.

Their majesties were nominated for Best Rock Video with “Sex on Fire” at MTV’s 2009 Video Music Awards.  “We lost dammit, maybe next year.  At least we got to see the worst haircut since 1984 try to steal the spotlight from lovely Taylor Swift,” Kings of Leon’s Nathan Followill joked to Digital Spy after Kanye West’s actions on stage.

Their next album is expected in the late fall of 2010.  Guitarist Matthew Followill told BBC earlier this year that the next album could be “a little bit grungier.”  Caleb Followill also said about their new album, “We pretty much now can do what we want.  America has to sit back.”  This could be the start of a new sound for the band.  Who knows, their first four albums could be referred to as “the early years” on Wikipedia one day.  If they stay on their current course, rockers in 2050 might just have sex on fire and put it in their heart shaped box.

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 167 other followers