KGOU

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.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

Gord Downie, singer of The Tragically Hip, died of complications from brain cancer Tuesday night at the age of 53. His death was announced in a statement from his family.

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.

In 2011, the Justice Department classified Juggalos — fans of the Michigan-born rap duo Insane Clown Posse — as gang members, writing: "Crimes committed by Juggalos are sporadic, disorganized, individualistic, and often involve simple assault, personal drug use and possession, petty theft, and vandalism."

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.

Spotify and other streaming services have begun removing white supremacist content from their platforms, as websites and musicians alike scramble to distance themselves from the white nationalist movement.

In a statement on Wednesday, Spotify blamed the labels and distributors that supply music to its database but said "material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us. Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention."

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.

"Despacito," the Spanish-language summer smash by Puerto Rican stars Luis Fonsi and "king of reggaetón" Daddy Yankee, is now the most-streamed song in history.

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."

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