KRWG

Andrew Flanagan

When it comes to reporting on Spotify and the company's strained relationship with songwriters and publishers, it's beginning to sound like a broken ... system. But a possible fix is in.

Just two days before New Year's Eve, the music publishing company Wixen, which manages the compositions of a wide cross section of artists from Neil Young to Rage Against The Machine, filed a lawsuit against Spotify over its failure to properly license those works before making them available to stream.

What we try to do here at NPR Music isn't that complicated. First and foremost, of course, we like to introduce readers and listeners to artists they may never have heard that will challenge, excite and soothe them. We also enjoy celebrating, reframing, revisiting and enlivening the music everyone already knows and loves, to give it a new life in a changed world.

Rolling Stone's parent company, Wenner Media, has a new corporate boss. Nearly three months to the day since it began accepting bids for the coveted, if diminished, independent media company, Penske Media has been announced as having made a significant "strategic investment" in Jann Wenner's company.

Earlier this year, SoundCloud was said to be in imminent danger of collapsing under the weight of its high overhead, low revenues and poor leadership. SoundCloud first launched in 2008 out of Berlin with a concept so simple — make audio easy to share — that it had to be brilliant. And it was, particularly in the elegance of its execution; clean, easily postable widgets that could be placed anywhere on the web and easy uploads with clever software integrations for artists.

Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, The Moody Blues, The Cars and Dire Straits — along with guitar pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, with an award for early influence — have been named as next year's inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Three deals of acquisitions and investments that were rumored over the past week, and that are all now confirmed, have something in common — none of them involve companies owned by major record labels. All involve technology companies or insurrectionists to entrenched industry leaders. One noted below, Tencent, holds such power in its home country that all three major labels agreed to let it broker their deals in that country.

Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons announced Thursday that he would relinquish his leadership roles in "all the companies I founded," after a second woman accused him of sexual assault.

Steely Dan, the artistic partnership of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (with a revolving cast of players), lasted nearly 50 years before Becker's death in early September. Now, a dispute between Fagen and Becker's estate, which is owned by his widow, Delia Cioffi, has put a bitter spin on the legacy of a warm, winking, coolly funky corner of pop.

Digital lip-syncing aimed at teens is officially a big, big business: Chinese tech company Bytedance has announced it plans to "merge" with — acquire — Musical.ly, a popular lip-synching app launched in China in 2013.

Financial terms of the deal weren't included in today's announcement, but news reports put the deal's value at between $800 million and $1 billion.

Just four days before the release of her newest album, a letter from Taylor Swift's attorney demanding that a website retract and delete an article critical of her has drawn a sharp (but also winking) rebuke from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Joe Hagan knew, before he typed out the first word of Sticky Fingers, his new biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner composed of endless access to Wenner and his extensive archives, and interviews with 240 others, that it would receive little love from its subject upon publication.

Charles Bradley, the "Screaming Eagle of Soul," whose late-blossoming career was built on fiery performances that evoked his idol, James Brown, died in Brooklyn on Saturday, Sept. 23, according to a statement by his publicist. In 2016, Bradley was diagnosed with stomach cancer, which spread to his liver. He was 68 yeas old.

Vevo, the music video platform co-owned by the three major labels along with Google's parent company and the Dubai-based Abu Dhabi Media, was the victim of a hack by the prolific group OurMine in the early hours of Friday. The hack was revealed by OurMine in a blog post.

Among the deals being signed that shape the way the world experiences culture, a new partnership will exert a great influence on the flow of content from the world's three remaining major record labels to an enormous and growing marketplace — as long as everyone plays by China's opaque rules around expression.

A Denver jury found fully in pop singer Taylor Swift's favor Monday, delivering a unanimous verdict in a trial over whether she was groped by a former radio host during a Denver meet-and-greet. Wanting the trial to serve as an "example to other women," the star had sought a single dollar in damages, which she was granted.

Updated 8:20 p.m. ET

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by former radio host David Mueller against singer Taylor Swift, ruling that Mueller hadn't proved that she set out to get him fired.

Mueller's claims against Swift's mother and her radio representative continue. The singer's countersuit accusing Mueller of groping her during a photo op also remains.

The ruling came one week into the trial in Denver. Swift had requested both dismissal and summary judgment. Closing arguments are set for Monday.

SoundCloud and the uploads of its many rappers, producers, noise bands and nascent podcasts are safe, for now. The company announced the "largest financing round in the history of SoundCloud" in a blog post this morning; a source with direct knowledge who requested anonymity in discussing the private business transaction confirmed to NPR Music that the amount was around $170 million.

On Tuesday, two separate lawsuits were filed against Spotify in Nashville's federal court over a single issue. Both Bluewater Music, an independent publisher and copyright administration company, and Robert Gaudio, a founding member of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – and a songwriter behind the enduring hits "Sherry" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" — accuse the streaming service of improperly licensing song compositions.

Yoko Ono will, legalities willing, be added as a songwriter to one of the most famous pop songs in the world — and John Lennon's biggest solo hit — "Imagine."

Judging by the headlines Friday morning, Taylor Swift's music has finally returned to streaming services. But that's not exactly the case.

Spotify has agreed to put $43.45 million on the table (and an additional $5 million for attorneys' fees) in order to settle a class action suit brought against it by songwriters who accused the company of not licensing or paying them for use of their music.

"It's so heartbreaking because so many little ones attend our shows ... I just keep thinking about them," Ariana Grande's drummer wrote on Tuesday.

"The death of the MP3 was announced in a conference room in Erlangen, Germany, in the spring of 1995."

We're just a handful of days removed from the historical dog-earing that marks the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency — "just about the most successful in our country's history," as he put it. It's been three-months-and-change of unprecedented tumult, from the halls of Washington, D.C. to the Sea of Japan.

The cars were piled on top of each other and bleeding onto the curb of the highway as they inched west and north towards the Lake Ann Park parking lot, each blasting their favorite from the windows; families walked down the trail and under the tunnel beneath the highway they'd just come from, holding the strings of the purple balloons floating just behind them; families walking back to their cars had no balloons and little expression. Altars of brown paper lanterns, unlit during the overcast day, peppered the path towards the off-white, square-paneled compound.

John Geils Jr., who played guitar in the J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Massachusetts home, according to the Groton (Mass.) Police Department. He was 71. The police department said in a statement that he likely died of natural causes.

After missing two chances to control the compositions he co-authored while in The Beatles — once in 1969 when he and John Lennon were outbid and again to Michael Jackson, in a duplicitous move by the King of Pop, in the '80s — Paul McCartney is not taking any chances.

One week and a day before thousands will descend on downtown Austin for South By Southwest 2017, what seemed like a standard bit of legalese in contracts given to artists performing at this year's SXSW music festival has, amidst a markedly shifted political climate, erupted into controversy. Musicians have accused the festival of threatening foreign performers with deportation if they appear outside official festival venues.

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