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Picture1Joey is an 11-year-old jazz piano prodigy from Indonesia. His debut album came out Tuesday, and was the number one jazz album on iTunes. This week, he was also featured on the front page of The New York Times and had an interview with the Today Show that aired yesterday morning. The Today Show feature said Joey is “Taking the jazz scene by storm!” and “On his way to becoming the best jazz pianist of our time!”

Well-known musicians and other entertainers often identify opportunities for innovation in their industry and are able to obtain patent protection for such inventions.  Some obtain patent protection for improvements to musical instruments or to new approaches to their craft.  Here we highlight three well known performers who were each granted one or more patents.

On August 6, 2014, the online gaming community and video platform Twitch announced that copyright protected music and audio would be muted in its Video on Demand content.  In a move that is likely related to its recent acquisition by Amazon, Twitch is collaborating with Audible Magic, the provider of automated audio content identification software, to identify and mute copyright-protected content.  In an explanation provided on Twitch’s blog, it notes that it “respect[s] the rights of copyright owners” and is seeking to “help protect both our broadcasters and copyright owners.”

The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC), an organization representing featured recording artists and sound recording copyright owners in the areas of hometaping/private copy royalties and rental/lending royalties, recently filed a federal class action lawsuit against automakers General Motors and Ford, as well as electronics manufacturers Denso and Clarion, seeking to collect royalties allegedly owed to artists, songwriters, record labels and music publishers under the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA).

Billboard reports that music industry leaders are considering a single worldwide weekly release day for new albums.  The International Federation of the Phonograph Industry (IFPI) is proposing a uniform release day of Friday in a move that departs from the existing disjointed jurisdictional variation resulting from each territory’s ability to select its own release day.  As a result, albums are currently released on Friday in Australia and Germany, Monday in the United Kingdom, and Tuesday in the United States. The unification initiative is supported by the Recording Industry Association of America and executives in the major music territories and at the major labels.

YouTube Music Pass, the new Google-owned music service, has indicated that it intends to block content from independent labels that have not signed up for its subscription music service from its current free service.  YouTube Music Pass is a new streaming service that will allow people to download music to their mobile devices and watch and listen to music videos without ads, even when not online.  On June 17th, YouTube’s head of content and business operations, Robert Kyncl, confirmed that independent artists could disappear from YouTube if their labels do not sign up for the new service.

Many unsigned or independent music artists struggle to finance studio time, recording an album, touring the country or even promoting their music locally.  The struggle can push some artists to treat their talents like a hobby or even give up the dream of performing professionally. Others work full- or part-time jobs to raise the money themselves while playing small gigs for little pay. Some industrious artists use crowdfunding websites to raise the capital necessary to fund their talent.

Billboard, the leader in the music industry for charting top artists and music, has partnered with Twitter and unveiled two new charts this week - the Billboard Twitter Trending 140 and the Billboard Twitter Emerging Artists.  Since its inception, Billboard has regularly developed new charts in response to changes in the music industry, specifically in the way that fans interact with and consume music.  According to Mashable, music is the most discussed topic on Twitter, with around one billion music-related tweets in 2013.

Spotify has launched a new commission-free service that permits music artists to make their merchandise and live concert tickets available to fans through the Spotify platform.  Through Spotify’s partnership with direct-to-consumer marketing platform, Topspin Media, artists will now be able to link from their Spotify artist page to a webstore, enabling them to provide fans direct access to CDs, vinyl records, t-shirts, posters, stickers, writstbands, and other merchandise through Spotify.  Participating artists will manage “preview” merchandise images, item titles, and descriptions that will be linked to the applicable webstore.  Spotify will moderate submissions to ensure the authenticity of offered merchandise.  It is anticipated that the merchandise offerings will appear on an artist’s page 24 to 48 hours after submission by the artist.  Currently, the service limits artists to offering a maximum of three merchandise items at a time.

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The Sports, Arts and Entertainment Group at Garvey Schubert Barer provides full service legal representation on sports, entertainment and business matters, including handling transactions related to brand management, licensing, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, technology, the Internet and new media.
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