This Week In Music: Lady Gaga Faces Lawsuit On ‘Shallow’ As Big Biz Changes Are Afoot

Shallow Lady Gaga Bradley Cooper
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It’s the dog days of summer, but there are changes in the wind. The first festival to allow legal cannabis sales takes places this weekend; the biggest music company in the world is contemplating selling off a piece; the two biggest performing rights societies are trying to get the rules under which they are governed changed; and music on FM radio may soon go away, at least according to one prominent analysis.

All that and the biggest song of the last 12 months, Lady Gaga’s Shallow, is being accused in a lawsuit of being derived from another tune.

This week in music:

HOUSE OF THE RISING STAR: Audius, a blockchain music streaming service, is offering up a Laurel Canyon pad for free to select artists and collectives who need space to create, put on a show, podcast or whatever. Forrest Browning, co-founder and CPO of Audius, said Laurel Canyon was chosen because of its history. “Artists from Joni Mitchell and Neil Young to Jim Morrison and Frank Zappa called it home, and now we want to give the next generation of artists a space to create and build community.” If interested, send a note to and they will do the rest. And if you’re a neighbor, don’t worry – the house has been soundproofed.

CHARLES MANSON ON FILM: Before Shirley, there was another Manson on the music scene. Charles Manson is the subject of a new documentary film that’s out on VOD Aug. 13. Manson: Music From An Unsound Mind, explores the cult leader’s music career, the rock legends who supported him, and his Beach Boys collaborations. It also investigates his relationship with record producer Terry Melcher, whom some say was the reason Manson’s gang visited the Sharon Tate house. Incidentally, the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has a Charles Manson song, I’ll Never Say Never To Always.

OUTSIDE THE LINES: The Outside Lands festival this week became the first to legally allow cannabis sales and consumption, thanks to a ruling by San Francisco government to grant a temporary waiver to its use in the fest’s Golden Gate Park site. Cigarette smoking was still banned, though.

FM RECEIVING STATIC FROM STREAMING: Services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music are rapidly eroding music on FM radio, according to Larry Miller, the director of New York University’s music business program and host of the “Musonomics” podcast. He predicts that “we’re in the last decade of influence the way we grew up with radio’s influence on music listenership,” Miller said. He points to falling prices for radio station sales and advertising’s slump on radio as evidence it’s fading.

ADVISE AND CONSENT:  Performing rights organizations ASCAP and BMI are working hard on modifying the consent decrees they operate under. The decrees govern how music is licensed for those organizations, with the goal of protecting competition. Both organizations argue the decrees are outdated. Last year, the Dept. of Justice said it would look at the decrees to see if they need modification. However, this week, 12 free market organizations asked the DOJ to strengthen the consent decrees, saying the music industry has a history of anti-competitive practices and needs regulation.

UNIVERSAL MUSIC CONTEMPLATES TENCENT DEAL: Tencent Holdings Ltd. is reportedly attempting to buy 10% of Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, from Vivendi SA, for about $3.36 billion. The Chinese internet giant would have the option to double its stake and a purchase would tighten its dominance of the music industry in China. Tencent Music operates several popular apps, including QQ Music and an online karaoke platform. The problematic Chinese approach to free speech has not reportedly been raised.

SHALLOW WAS STOLEN, CLAIMS SONGWRITER: Lady Gaga’s song Shallow earned the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter her first Academy Award. But now a virtually unknown singer-songwriter claims she nicked a key part of it from his work, something Gaga vigorously denies. Steve Ronsen claims in a lawsuit that Gaga took a three-note progression from his 2012 song Almost to construct her hit. His claim, in the wake of Katy Perry’s recent court loss regarding infringement on her Dark Horse, has the songwriting and publishing business very nervous, as many songs have similar ideas and progressions.


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