August and Everything After
A programming note to start this morning: We’re going fishing. MusicREDEF will be on hiatus for the month of August, meaning today’s newsletter will be the last until right after Labor Day. We’ll continue to share stories on our Twitter feed, as always, and we wish you a happy, peaceful RENAISSANCE summer.
It’s Renaissance Friday
And it’s not starting quite as scripted. On Wednesday, it leaked. On Thursday, KELIS had questions. The Kelis/BEYONCÉ/NEPTUNES dustup over this sub-two-minute song that started on Instagram and had taken over Twitter by Thursday night... No, wait, it started in 1999, the year of Kelis’ fantastic debut album, KALEIDOSCOPE. “All tracks are written by PHARRELL WILLIAMS and CHAD HUGO, except where noted,” Wikipedia tells us. Pharrell “has writing credits on my records, all my singles coincidentally, and he never wrote a song, a lyric, a day in his life,” Kelis told us Thursday. They were friends, close friends... The dustup over the legal and ethical rights to a song that spilled all over the internet Thursday has its roots in a specific contractual dispute between a young artist and her (also young) producers. But it touches, in various ways, on issues that have haunted the music business since the day the words “music” and “business” were joined together and that resonate loudly in an era when songwriters and artists are fighting for every scrap of credit and income they can get.
The consequential, costly dispute over royalty splits that Kelis explains here and the Neptunes’ Chad Hugo absolves himself of here (“I don’t handle that. I usually hire business folks”) is the exact situation CREATIVE INTELL, the deal-negotiating platform I wrote about Thursday, is designed to prevent. And it’s one of the many mini-battles that simmer beneath the gargantuan one that Variety’s JEM ASWAD chronicles in today’s must-read, for which he interviewed some 30 label, publishing and streaming executives, many of them off the record. At stake in the upcoming US government hearings on streaming royalty rates for songwriters and publishers, he writes, “is nothing less than the future of the music business and the livelihood of the American songwriter.” It’s a story of century-old government regulations that date to the days of player pianos, and fundamental disagreements over how royalties should be divided between record companies and publishing companies that are owned by the same parent companies but represent two distinct creative constituencies. It’s the story, one exec told Aswad, of a “deeply dysfunctional symbiotic relationship.” In other words, the music business.
But also, this Friday morning, there’s a new Beyoncé album. Or possibly, intriguingly, the first third of a new Beyoncé album. The Beyoncé dance-music album, with its nods to disco, house, techno, bounce and other corners of the capital-D dance music universe. And its samples and interpolations of ROBIN S., DONNA SUMMER and, well, KELIS. And its upbeat, summery vibe. The discussions have started. But we’ve got the rest of the summer to sort out meanings, intentions, implications and the politics of love. What matters right now is it’s a summer weekend and there’s a new Beyoncé album.
Also today: New music from King Princess, Maggie Rogers, Lil Shordie Scott, Wiz Khalifa, Amanda Shires, Friendship, Florist, Hayley Kiyoko, Twice (released earlier this week), DPR Ian, Perfume, K Camp, Soulja Boy, Doe Boy, Hotboii, Nychelle, $uicideboy$, Ithaca, Chat Pile, Dance Gavin Dance (last album with bassist Tim Feerick, who died in April), Beach Rats, Funeral Chic, Domi & JD Beck, Harish Raghavan, Nate Wooley, Allison Miller & Carmen Staaf, Whiskey Myers, Ronnie Dunn, Brooke Eden, Murder by Death, Wade Sapp, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Andrew Tuttle, Of Montreal, Orbital, Kuedo, Joe Armon-Jones & Mala, Emeka Ogboh, Emily Yacina, Tim Finn & Phil Manzanera, Jamie T, Matt Nathanson, Josh Rouse, Tallies and Deaton Chris Anthony.
Rest in Peace
REGINA BAER, co-founder of the revered Berlin techno club Tresor. “The history of Tresor and, indeed of Berlin's entire nightlife would be different without her,” her co-founder Dimitri Hegemann wrote... “Dr. Who” and “The Wombles” actor BERNARD CRIBBINS, who had a pair of novelty pop hits in Britain in the early 1960s, produced by George Martin... New Zealand country singer JOHN HORE GRENELL.