Ariana Grande has a hit song with “7 Rings”, and the company that owns the rights to the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue is enjoying the sound of her music.
The song “7 Rings” is based largely on “My Favorite Things”, the 1959 song written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the movie “The Sound of Music”. In it, Ms. Grande sings about some of her favourite things. There are no “raindrops on roses” or “whiskers on kittens”, but, rather, “breakfast at Tiffany’s and bottles of bubbles, girls with tattoos who like getting in trouble”. In the song, Ms. Grande laments (or boasts) that her receipts “be lookin’ like phone numbers”. I doubt that Julie Andrew’s character Maria in “The Sound of Music” ever observed that “Whoever said money can’t solve your problems must not have had enough money to solve ‘em”.
The video for the song had 268,264,254 views as of the time of writing.
According to a story in the New York Times, Concord, a music company that owns the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue, is to receive 90% of the song writing royalties. This high percentage is thought to be because of the original song’s iconic status, and the extent to which the new song is based on the original.
Composer Richard Rodgers died in 1979, and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein died in 1960. According to The AM Law Daily, their estates sold Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, which controlled the rights to the complete words of both artists, to Imagem Music Group in 2009 for more than $200 m US.
This is not the first time that modern artists have borrowed from Rodgers and Hammerstein. In 2006, Gwen Stefani sampled from their “Lonely Goatherd” song, also from “The Sound of Music”. There, the song writing duo’s catalogue only received 50% of the royalties.
Have a great weekend.
Frank Sinatra Jr. was the son of Frank Sinatra. Sinatra Jr. was born on January 10, 1944 and he began to study music from the age of 5.
At age 19, Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped from his Nevada hotel room until his father paid his kidnappers a ransom of $240,000.00. His kidnappers even attempted to argue a defense that the whole incident was a publicity stunt, orchestrated by Frank Sinatra to promote his son’s music career.
According to the FBI, the clincher in the case against Sinatra Jr.’s kidnappers was a confession letter left in a safety box.
Four decades after the kidnapping, one of Sinatra Jr.’s kidnappers commenced legal action in California to review the “Son of Sam” law that prevented criminals from profiting from their crimes. After serving his sentence for kidnapping, Barry Keenan told the story of the Sinatra Jr. kidnapping to a writer, who then sold the movie rights to Columbia Pictures for a reported $1.5 million. This led Keenan to commence a lawsuit to strike down the “Son of Sam” law in California on the basis that it violated his First Amendment rights. Ultimately, the California Supreme Court agreed because the law inhibited free speech in an overly inclusive manner. Click here for an interesting article on how California and Massachusetts came to strike down their Son of Sam laws in 2002.
Kidnappings and Son of Sam laws aside, Sinatra Jr. was a musician like his father. He even spent the last seven years of his father’s life as Sinatra’s conductor on tour. Despite his lack of success as an original recording artist, Sinatra Jr. was reported by People Magazine to have made peace with his place in musical history. Sinatra Jr. spent the remaining years of his life touring in a band named Sinatra Sings Sinatra with other members of his father’s band.
Sinatra Jr. died on tour this Wednesday, March 16, 2016.
Thanks for reading this week.
Elvis may left the building in 1977 but a new album will be released in October which will feature his music and that of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This new exciting album will be called “If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra”. The album will even feature a duet with Michael Buble on “Fever”.
Decades after his death, the Elvis Presley Estate is immensely successful and active in developing new projects with Elvis’ brand and music. According to Forbes magazine, the Elvis Presley Estate earned $55 million U.S. dollars last year, second only to the Michael Jackson Estate.
The intellectual property rights associated with Elvis’ music is presently owned by the Authentic Brands Group which is a brand development, licensing and entertainment company. In today’s world of hologram technology, Elvis may be touring in live performances to come as a “virtual King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” that is capable of travelling of world.
For now, Elvis is already back in the building in Graceland in Las Vegas.
Since its Friday morning, click here for “It’s Now or Never” before the weekend begins.
Have a good one!
In the days prior to the evolution of the Internet, planning and administering an estate was relatively simple as the physical belongings of the deceased could be carefully sorted through, packaged, and divided according to the Deceased’s testamentary document or the applicable legislation.
In the days since the Internet has become a common household tool, planning and administering an estate has not been so easy. In a study commissioned by Remember A Charity, The Dying in a Digital Age, it was discovered that four in five people own digital assets, but only nine per cent have considered how these will be distributed upon their death.
According to the study, the nation’s digital music collection is worth an estimated £900 million alone.
Three quarters of those surveyed for the study indicated that their digital music and photo collections had strong sentimental value, while eight out of ten said their digital assets were financially valuable.
Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity said: ”Bank accounts, music and photograph collections are increasingly stored online…meaning families will wave goodbye to a small fortune if details are not passed on.”
There is now an entire cyber existence that both the Deceased and Trustees need to turn their mind to when planning or administering an Estate. For instance, what will become of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and PayPal accounts? One easy solution is to subscribe to a website called Legacy Locker. Legacy Locker was created in 2009 and it maintains a master list of user names and programs for online bank accounts, social networking sites and document repositories.
In the digital era, it is important that we consider and make arrangements for how our digital assets will be distributed, and for estate planners, it may be just as important that you consider including in your questionnaire or checklist, a question that forces a client to turn their mind to consider their digital assets.
Thank you for reading, and have a great weekend.
Rick Bickhram – Click here for more information on Rick Bickhram.
Many people, including myself, paused on learning of Michael Jackson’s death. While I have not searched out his music for several years, his death marks the end of an era.
Michael Jackson’s music is part of my memory of growing up. I attended his concert in October 1984 at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
Of course, in my role as an estate litigator, other thoughts also come to mind. Namely, what issues will arise in untangling Michael Jackson’s estate?
Some of these issues are addressed in a New York Times article. One executive describes the singer’s estate as a "mess". There are clearly valuable assets, including a 50 percent share of Sony/ATV Music Publishing which owns the rights to more than 200 Beatles songs; this asset alone may be worth more than $500 million. Apparently these shares were not owned directly by the pop star, but rather by a trust controlled by his mother. The shares therefore may not fall to Michael Jackson’s estate but they would be part of his legacy.
The estate has debts too: Neverland cost many millions of dollars to operate annually and in recent years there was a $24.5 million debt against the property. Some commentators estimate Michael Jackson’s overall debt to be $400 million.
All of these issues – from copyright and real estate assets to Michael Jackson’s personal and business loans – will take many months, if not years, to sort out.
There were recent plans for a 50-concert comeback in London, England. Apparently fans had paid $90 million which will have to reimbursed and the concert preparations included payments for renovations to the venue as well as advance payments to Michael Jackson.
As the administration of Michael Jackson’s estate unfolds, I suspect there may be more related topics to be covered in our blog.
Of course, for us regular folks, estate issues that we encounter in our own lives will be simple in comparison to the challenges faced by the Jackson family. But there are some lessons: careful management of one’s affairs and good planning will lessen the load on named executors and estate trustees.
Enjoy your Monday.