Freaky-News Friday!

George MichaelHallo out there,

It’s such a no-news day in the world of music that it’s freaky.

So freakily ‘no news’ that the lead story in music world seems to be about a total nobody (at least in showbiz).  I may get to it right at the end of this post . . .

A few days back, I blogged about musicians’ lawsuits against big, bad record companies, and mentioned one of the protagonists in that saga,  who wanted to win his ‘Freedom’ from Sony.  Well, guess what?  He is now taking on pneumonia in a new song he is composing.  Michael was hospitalized in Vienna ‘Last Christmas’ and his condition was so serious, Reuters reports that he said it was ‘touch and go.’  Reuters, just being a newswire, have probably misquoted George Michael, he surely would have said that it was ‘Touch me before you go-go’.

Now have you ever heard today’s singers invoke God in their songs?  Sure; often.  They do so in a “Taking the Lord’s name in vain” type of manner.  So what happens if you say ‘God’ in song seriously, respectfully?  You get banned from saying the word!  An elementary school’s administrators changed a line “God Bless the USA” to “We love the USA” in a song.  The original line was restored after parents objected and demanded a reversion.  Thank goodness for the right-minded parents, else the word ‘God’ would have been jettisoned from a song it is properly used in.  Does anyone else see the oddest of double standards here?

Some light stuff to close out with.  A few weeks back I blogged about the Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, this year.  Now, next door Uzbekistan is on the music map too: Strongman Islam Karimov’s daughter Gulnara Karimova is releasing a new album.  She’s not exactly a newbie to music, apparently she once duetted with none other European superstar Julio Iglesias.  One track is already out there for those who want to listen to a possible future ‘Strongwoman’ crooning a love-song.

—No, I’m not gonna write anything about that total nobody, a so-called ‘reality TV star’ Kim Ka-sumthing and that rapper chap – the latest in her revolving door of S.O.s . . . because if I did, then I’d have to title this post ‘Freak-Show Friday!’

TGIF,

Shane

Lawsuit! Musician versus recording company

LawsuitHello Music-Lovers,

Our news is a little more serious than usual and truly important to music-lovers, besides – obviously – to musicians themselves.  Three musicians have filed lawsuits against recording companies within the past several days.

Those of you who are old enough will remember the famous lawsuit brought by George Michael against Sony Music.  Brought in England, the lawsuit sought to free Michael from his lengthy contract with Sony.  Michael failed in his bid because, purportedly, recording labels invest heavily in and nurture new talent for several years before the talent pays off for them, thus requiring long contracts.  But George Michael, as one part of the duo Wham!, was already a successful and near-established artiste with a contract with CBS, at the time he signed the contract with Sony after their acquisition of CBS!  Wasn’t the reasoning a joke?

In similar fashion Prince had also sued Warners.  But much before then, as those of you who are older still will remember, there was another famous lawsuite brought by classy, jazz-inflected popular singer Peggy Lee’s against Walt Disney Pictures.  The lawsuit sought to establish and gain her rights and royalties for her musical work for the animated film ‘Lady and the Tramp’ which the Disney company had been denying her.  The American court got it right: Lee won a decisive victory!

After losing his lawsuit, Michael had said: “Effectively, you sign a piece of paper at the beginning of your career and you are expected to live with that decision, good or bad, for the rest of your professional life.”  Countless jazz musicians have had even worse things to say about recording companies and labels.  Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk spoke quite plainly about the daylight robberies they had experienced at the hands of recording labels.

Now, within the space of one week, we have no less than three lawsuits filed by irritated musicians against recording companies.

First to go on 27th March was a regional California band, ‘Tower of Power’; they filed a lawsuit against Warner Music Group – ‘WMG’.  They have alleged that WMG significantly underpaid them on royalties for digital downloads and ringtones.

Next up was ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. His suit against Sony Entertainment claims much the same as that of Tower of Power, but goes further.  Yankovic also alleges that Sony underpaid him on a variety of line-items ranging from publishing and mechanical royalties to physical product sales.

Later that same day, Martha Davis and The Motels filed a class action lawsuit against EMI.  They have alleged the same thing: significant underpayment on digital royalties.  Their lawsuit is a class action style which means that any similarly affected musicians can add themselves as plaintiffis.

Sony, Warners, EMI – they’re all ‘like that’, aren’t they?

Don’t you agree with me that we should support the artiste, the musician, in his/her just cause as opposed to the no-talent corporate fat cats in the recording industry who do nothing of note and pay themselves millions – the revenue generated by the talented artistes they strive to, in George Michael’s words, “enslave”?  If these no-talent paper-pushers pay themselves less, then, guess what?  Artistes will be paid what they deserve and, moreover, music will be much more affordable for us music-lovers!

Don’t just sue the recording companies and labels – I say, sue those goddamn greedy fat cats themselves!

Music-Lovers United,

Shane