ON THE RECORD
The fallout from the ‘Blurred Lines’ case is now being felt, with hits in tight supply
One question which is a mainstay of music interviews concerns the acts and records which influenced the interviewee’s new work. Fans are always curious about the music which their favourite musicians dig and which may have inspired them in the studio. Most musicians are fans too, so are happy to wax lyrical about the records they have recently discovered or rediscovered.
But following recent legal shenanigans you can expect some artists with hit records to answer that question in the future with reticence and reluctance. The court case which found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had cogged from Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up when they
wrote Blurred Lines may just be the tip of the iceberg in this regard.
It has now emerged that Mark Ronson had added five new writers to the credits of
Uptown Funk. He and his publishers acknowledged a debt to a Gap Band tune so the
five writers of I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up and Dance
(Oops Up Side Your Head) join the six writers already credited on the runaway blockbuster.
Given the success of that tune, there are probably funk/soul songwriters and publishers scouring Ronson’s interviews from the past 12 months to see if he’s mentioned any other influences in an attempt to get on the Uptown
Funk cash bandwagon. It all leads to a fascinating question about where musicians get the spark to write a song in the first place. Speaking at Banter in Dublin early this week, Matthew E White pointed out that musicians are inspired and influenced by everything they hear in their life long before they go into studio.
Does this mean that songwriters are liable to be penalised if someone spots something from the past that they can now link to the artist’s new tune?
While there is a case to be made for fair compensation in the case of sampling or interpolation, it will be a far different matter if the act of referring to another track is going to end in legal action. The amount of claims which this could lead to is mind-boggling.
Yet it is worth remembering that there’s a large part of the music industry built on the truism that where there’s a hit, there’s a writ. The music publishing sector in particular is full of folks who can sniff out possible credits and pay days a mile away.
There’s no doubt that acts, particularly acts behind those massive hits which attract the most attention, will be more careful in the future – and not just with pesky journalists with their questions about influences.
Trinidad James is one of those credited on Uptown
Funk and his manager Danny Zook spoke to Billboard magazine about what’s to come. “Everyone is being a little more cautious,” Zook believes. “Nobody wants to be involved in a lawsuit. Once a copyright dispute goes to a trial, it is subject to be decided by public opinion and no longer resolved based entirely on copyright law.”
YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS
Saun & Starr Look Closer
(Daptone) Starr Duncan-Lowe and Saundra Williams have got soul. The Bronx duo made their bones in gospel choirs and wedding bands before Sharon Jones brought them into her band as The Dapettes. Their debut album is chock-a-block with fantastic soul tunes full of passion, suss and raw emotion.
Your Old Droog is coming to town. One of the highlights at SXSW 2015, the UkrainianAmerican rapper from New York may have been mistaken for Nas when his first tracks dropped last year, but this lanky dude is very much his own man. He plays his first Irish show at Dublin’s Twisted Pepper on June 6th.
There are probably funk/soul songwriters and publishers scouring Ronson’s interviews to see if he’s mentioned other influences