Melvin Van Peebles Collaborates with Madlib, Sues ASCAP for $20 Million, Prompts Reassessment of Relative Baadasssssness of Litigation
According to Variety's blog The Set List, Blaxploitation renaissance man Melvin Van Peebles (TMT Feature) recently filed a $20 million lawsuit with the New York State Supreme Court against ASCAP, a major organization that collects licensing fees and distributes royalties to musicians, songwriters, composers, and publishers.
Van Peebles is perhaps best known for directing, starring in, and composing the score for 1971's Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, but he's also the writer and director of many other films, the writer and composer of the Broadway show Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, and the musical mastermind behind 10 full-length albums (many of them soundtracks).
Van Peebles' concern stems from ASCAP's failure to list all of his 157 registered compositions in their newfangled electronic database, which includes only 24 of them. He alleges that the disappearance occurred between 1992 and 2005. This oversight, he alleges, prevents him from charging appropriate licensing fees to those performing or using his songs. The Set List, on some detective shit, reports that "allmusic.com lists only one of his tunes being covered by an artist not associated with one of films, Grace Jones, who recorded ‘The Apple Stretcher.’"
However, as astute Set List commenter "dave" notes, Van Peebles has long been a source of hip-hop samples. Indeed, according to sampling database the-breaks.com, more than a dozen hip-hop tracks have used pieces of Van Peebles' recordings. ASCAP's sampling policy puts the organization in a position to negotiate fees for sample usage, further legitimating Van Peebles' complaint about his missing compositions.
Interestingly, Van Peebles' future projects include a collaboration with Madlib, whose Quasimoto alias is one of the heaviest users of Van Peebles samples. According to Madlib's label, Stones Throw Records, Van Peebles' next release will be a double album encompassing one disc called Brer Soul Meets Quasimoto as well as an album-length "Madlib Invazion remix." Van Peebles also recently completed his eighth feature film as director, entitled Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus ItchyFooted Mutha. The film was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in late April.
You’ve probably never heard of Esperanza Spalding. It's understandable. A friend of mine thought she was a type of Spanish basketball, so I try not to talk music with him anymore.
Esperanza Spalding is quickly becoming one of jazz music’s leading double-bass players, vocalists, and composers. Her innovative, intricate style, along with her sultry voice, is causing mass amounts of people to turn their heads and silently mouth: “Who’s that?” Spalding's first effort, 2006’s Junjo, was a soulful and fresh exploration of creativity that had both jazz fans and music critics craving for more. Spalding happily obliged with 2008’s Esperanza, her sonic statement to the rest of the music world that she is a force to be reckoned with. The album depicts Spalding’s youthful and charismatic style, while showcasing her seemingly infinite creativity and ability.
So, now you’re thinking how good can she really be, right? I was too, at one point. Then I found out that Esperanza Spalding is the youngest professor in history at the Berklee School of Music, at age 24. Most people I know, myself included, are hoping they still don’t live with their parents at 24.
Spalding recently made appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Show with David Letterman last month, but you can catch her on tour, as she is currently on a non-stop world tour through October. Or you can catch one of the insanely tight videos of her ripping up the stage on YouTube. Either way, you’re going to see Esperanza Spalding very, very soon. Capitalize on her music now, so later on you’ll have your chance to be hip and say "Oh, I liked Esperanza Spalding stuff before she was big."
* opening for Carlos Santana
Ah, Guy Hands! That lovably ludicrous EMI chairman/specter (who seems to haunt at LEAST one TMT news story a week these days) has such an absurdly captain-goes-down-with-ship job title and equally ludicrous name that he could probably so much as go to the damn BATHROOM and we satirically-bent music writers would still probably hit the keys all 8-fingers-blazing to writeup a cheeky news piece about it as fast as we could... all (or at least, largely) for the joy of riddling that comic-book name of his with (hardly) revolutionary bullets of music-proletariat sarcasm.
I can see it now: "Hands Uses Rest Room, Fails to Wash Hands." Or maybe: "Guy Hands to Neighboring Stall: ‘Hands’ Off My Toilet Paper!" Maybe good for a yuk in that postmodern, "look how tired this reads!" kind of way, but generally not the kind of stuff we'd stake our dorky college-newspaper-editor reputations on. Frankly, we pun writers could probably use a break from Mr. Guy Hands. And fortunately (read: not a minute too soon) for all us cheapshotters, it seems as though we're about to get one.
Yup. Hands has promised to step back from day-to-day management of music industry mega-giant EMI, after appointing Elio Leoni-Sceti as chief executive of the company's "recorded music division" this week. Leoni-Sceti himself had this to say (or, more likely, to read carefully):
This is a hugely exciting time for the music business and for EMI. EMI is the world’s longest established music company operating in over 40 markets globally with a roster of some of the most successful artists in the world. They range from long established names such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen and The Beach Boys to contemporary singers such as Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen and Norah Jones. Its current successes include Coldplay and Katy Perry topping both the UK and US charts. The potential that can be realised in this industry is massive, music consumption is growing more than ever across the world and I cannot wait to get started and to working with EMI’s artists and employees.
Ol' Guy "All" Hands (sorry, I'm an addict), meanwhile, has claimed he will take the roll of "non-executive chairman," leaving the company to return to its traditional bi-tyrannical structure of having separate chief executives for both its recorded music and music publishing divisions (the long-serving and less-comically-named Roger Faxon currently heads the publishing division).
So where did Mr. "Busy" Hands (last time, I promise) dig up EMI's newest chief executive? Well, you'll all be happy to know that Mr. Leoni-Sceti, a seasoned marketer, has absolutely no background in the industry whatsoever, having spent the past 16 years as executive vice president (and a bang-up vice president, to be sure) with Reckitt Benckiser, a European FTSE30 "consumer brand" company. Oh, yeah, and in case you were wondering, kids, this is the company that makes Clearasil acne cream, among other things, and, as we all know, music and teen skin-care issues have been going hand-in-hand at least since "The Limbo Rock" charted.
Citing his belief that EMI needs to focus on selling music more effectively (read: NOT going broke via cajoling the Jonas Brothers to stay a little longer and releasing more Radiohead best-ofs to the Starbucks generation), Handsy (shove it) sez that the pesky little matter of signing those whiny "new" artists is to be handled by Nick Gatfield, a former executive with Universal, who is joining up with Team Stayafloat to run its labels worldwide. So, you know, this should probably fix everything, right? Oh well. At least it might put a cap on some of those puns.
It's official: Jim James can do anything he wants.
Not only is he touring the hell out of his divisive Evil Urges (TMT Review) with his band My Morning Jacket, but according to a story in the latest Rolling Stone, he's teaming up with fellow Midwesterner Conor Oberst and good friend M. Ward for a record. Additionally, Mr. James plans on adopting "Sec Walkin'" (a tune from MMJ's latest record) as a stage name/alter ego for another album.
According to Rolling Stone:
...he's recording an album with Conor Oberst and M. Ward; and, bizarrely, he's dead serious about making music as an alter ego he describes as an Asian country star named Sec Walkin (after the Evil Urges tune about walking). "It's such a great country name, like Trace Adkins," he says. "Look for us at the top of the charts."
While I don't really see this making it to the top of the charts, I would suggest catching My Morning Jacket while they're touring until New Year's Eve. Nice sarcasm, Jim.
Maybe Sec Walkin' will make an appearance during tour:
# solo show
$ "An Evening With My Morning Jacket"
Which of These Things Is Not Like the Other?: I Grew Rainbow Bangs! Shudder to Think Reunion Tour! Gas is $1.99 a Gallon!
The sly dogs of Shudder to Think have stopped dangling the idea of a reunion tour over our heads like an obscure, limited-edition on Japan vinyl wrapped in bacon. Stop drooling, nerds. Come August, Shudder to Think will kick off a North American tour in Baltimore at the Virgin Mobile Fest, their first proper jaunt since 1998. With the exception of the cock-tease that was their New York City Mercury Lounge show last fall and Baracking out in February, we've been relegated to our stereos to get a piece of this band for the better part of ten years. The lineup is a bit different, sans original bassist Stuart Hill, but we will be seeing Adam Wade for the West Coast portion, who was on drum duty for 1994's Pony Express Record. Additional shakeups include Time of Orchids' Jesse Krakow on bass and Gosling's Mark Watrous on guitar. And yes, original members represent: vocalist/guitarist Craig Wedren, guitarist Nathan Larson, and late-era drummer Kevin March for the East Coast tour.
To what do we owe this great honor, O Great Shudder to Think? Is it the booze? The strippers? The backstage massages? "Our music is continuing to seep out, like syrup from a tree or the remains of a sweet, sticky picnic," says frontman Craig Wedren. "Every day, new people -- many too young to have caught us during the first go-round -- are contacting us after ‘discovering’ our music. I'm constantly meeting people who feel the same way about our music that we do, and it makes me feel indescribably good. This tour is our way of saying ‘thank you.’"
Nuh uh, guys. Thank you. Especially since this will ruin my mid-year resolution: "Stop spending all of your money on concert tickets and booze." Lamest resolution ever.
It's gonna be a Hot One!:
Secret Machines to Go Public, Public Machines to Self-Release 3rd LP Through World’s Fair Label Group
An excerpt from my recent gchat with TMT Editor-in-Chief Mr P:
Nobodadz83: I just don't really have a whole lot of leads for TMT news stories this week, man. I don't know what it is. Slow week or something I guess.
Nobodadz83: Nothing really seems, you know, "newsworthy" around here.
PoonMan69: Really? What about that Secret Machines business that just went down?
Nobodadz83: What ‘Secret Machines Business’?
PoonMan69: Well, they officially announced the other day that they were going to be breaking with their major label and working with the World's Fair Label Group instead to self-release their newest full-length sometime this fall.
Nobodadz83: Huh... really? Hey wait, what's the World's Fair Label Group? Sounds like just another record label to me! That's not news!
PoonMan69: Dude, chill. I know. But World's Fair Label Group is technically a "full-service, worldwide record label administration company," not a record label.
Nobodadz83: blahhhh... go on...
PoonMan69: They've actually been in operation since 2004, and their thing is providing complete administration services to independent
labels... and directly to artists for self-releases. They're based in New York and Oklahoma and have a team of 11 full-time staff providing
press, radio promotions, online marketing, video promotions, sales,
manufacturing, design, and finance services. They've actually done stuff like this before with Midlike, Dandy Whahols, British Sea Power, 1990's... umm...
Nobodadz83: Wow, P, that's a lot of extraneous information you've got there.
PoonMan69: Hey, that's my job, bro.
PoonMan69: But what do you say? Do you want to write about that?
Nobodadz83: What's the "story" there? That vague Secret Machines "self-release" part?
PoonMan69: Yeah. That definitely counts as "news."
Nobodadz83: Wait a minute, P. Is it going to be FREE?
PoonMan69: Umm, no, I don't think so...
Nobodadz83: Is there a WEBSITE where fans can download it from?!
Nobodadz83: Will we be able to at least PAY WHAT WE WANT for it or download a FREE COMPANION EP though their website or get a free concert ticket with the CD or something?!?!
PoonMan69: Uh... probably not??
Nobodadz83: Ha!! That's what i thought, P...
PoonMan69: Sooooo... not interested, then, I take it?
Nobodadz83: Yeah, I’ll pass...
* Stone Temple Pilots
^ Coheed and Cambria and Russian Circles
EMI's latest stroke of genius has been to sue Hi5, a social networking site. Ever heard of it? Me neither. That's because the website is virtually unknown in Europe and North America, where the market is dominated by other little sites called Facebook and MySpace. Hi5 is most popular in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and members can upload homemade videos to the site to share with other users. EMI is alleging that the site is engaging in copyright infringement by hosting videos containing music from the label's artists. Um. Hey. Hey, EMI. There's this site that kind of only does this video sharing thing... you might want to check it out... it's called um, YouTu-- oh, never mind.
There's also the matter of Radiohead: The Best Of, with which I personally take umbrage because ending a phrase with a preposition just ain't right. Oh yeah, and there's also the awkward matter of Radiohead declining to renew their contract with EMI and signing with XL (for the physical release). "Awkward" doesn't really seem to be in EMI's company manual, in that it seems to be totally fine with shadily releasing albums and singles despite artists' wishes.
Thom Yorke added his own scathing commentary, saying:
The packaging is awful. There are three really bad photos. They're not going to make any money from it because they'll spend so much on TV advertising. Another thing is that greatest hits don't sell in America. I don't understand why they're doing it. And you know what it's done? It's ensured that we are never, ever, ever re-signing to EMI while there's a Guy Hands involvement. Who knows what could happen in the future. We could say, ‘EMI is great, we miss it and we could go back there.’ But this has ensured we'll never re-sign while he's involved
For Thom Yorke to even suggest the possibility of returning to EMI seems unbelievably generous in the first place, but guess what? Any chance for the label to soon regain one of its most profitable artists was fucked up good and proper with a release of Radiohead's "greatest hits." Another goose egg for EMI. Oh, look... I have a copy of the company manual after all: "Consistency is key."
Illegal Art Plans To Release All Albums Through Girl Talk’s “Tip Jar” Model; Thom Yorke Thinks They’re All A Bunch Of Copycats
By now, I’m sure everyone with a computer is aware of the “tip jar” model that Gregg Gillis (a.k.a. Girl Talk) instituted with the download of his new album, Feed The Animals (TMT Review, TMT News). This week, however, the Los Angeles Times reported that Girl Talk’s record label Illegal Art aims to make all of its future releases available via the tip-jar model. Specifically, this means that each of Illegal Art’s 12 bands will be using the “pay what you want” model by the end of the month, including past records that have been previously released on CD.
According to Illegal Art owner Philo T. Farnsworth, Steinski will be the first among this batch to utilize the model. “With older material, we have nothing to lose,” Farnsworth said. While that may be true, it will certainly be interesting to see how some of Illegal Art’s relatively unknown bands fare with this new system.
Bardo Pond, Les Savy Fav, Others Added to ATP New York Lineup; Absurd Ticket Price Decimally More Worth It
As part of a new effort to make buyers happier about spending a gajillion dollars on a three-day pass, the organizers of All Tomorrow’s Parties New York have added nine new artists to the September festival’s lineup. These new acquisitions mean tickets are more cost-effective and will perhaps make patrons feel less like yuppie douchebags.
Bardo Pond, slated to play 1997’s Lapsed in its entirety, will join in on the Wellsian spectacle of Friday night’s Don’t Look Back show, while ATP has added Les Savy Fav, Alexander Tucker, and Apse to the Saturday lineup. Last but not least, curators My Bloody Valentine have handpicked Bob Mould, Sonic Boom, Le Volume, Courbe, Gemma Hayes, and Wounded Knees to play alongside the previously confirmed artists and, duh, MBV themselves.
The new lineup raises the band count from 22 to 31, and reduces price-per-performance from $10.23 to $7.26. This perceived discount could inspire festivalgoers to splurge on hotel accommodations for an extra $450. Or maybe it’ll just make those of us who plan on sleeping in cars feel slightly more justified for overdrawing from our bankcards.
- Day 1 (Friday, September 19 – Don’t Look Back): Thurston Moore performing Psychic Hearts, Tortoise performing Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Meat Puppets performing Meat Puppets II, Built to Spill performing Perfect From Now On, Bardo Pond performing Lapsed
- Day 2 (Saturday, September 20 – Chosen by ATP): Fuck Buttons, Low, Growing, Edan with guest Dagha, Shellac, Thee Silver Mount Zion Orchestra, The Drones, Polvo, Wooden Shjips, Harmonia, Om, Autolux, Apse, Alexander Tucker, Les Savy Fav
- Day 3 (Sunday, September 21 – Chosen by My Bloody Valentine): My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., Lilys, Yo La Tengo, Mercury Rev, Mogwai, Le Volume Courbe, Bob Mould, Sonic Boom, Gemma Hayes, The Wounded Knee
Argentinean singer, songwriter, and sound-manipulator Juana Molina will release her fifth album, Un Dia, October 7. The album, her fourth on Domino Records, promises more of the untaggable, folky electronics which have characterized her musical output since her 2003 sophomore record Segundo.
Molina describes the record as more rhythmically adventurous than her earlier output, noting that "some people didn't feel there was any kind of rhythm at all" to her previous releases. "All that was insinuated in the past is now more tangible, hearable," she continues.
Molina, raised in Buenos Aires and partially in Parisian exile by an actress mother and a tango singer father, had been an Argentinean sitcom star until she jettisoned her acting career to release her 1996 debut Rara. Her musical career has garnered her success outside of her native country, with her 2006 album Son (TMT Review) landing on a handful of best-of-06 lists, including #5 on TMT's Favorite Albums of 2006.
Juana Molina is currently supporting Feist on the remainder of her summer tour
07.11.08 - Ravinia Festival - Highland Park, IL*
07.12.08 - Memorial Park Festival - Omaha, NE*
07.13.08 - Starlight Theatre - Kansas City, MO*
08.14.08 - Santa Monica Pier Santa Monica, CA*