Saturday, August 17, 2019

Music Notes

  • Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019
A$AP Rocky found guilty of assault by Swedish court
A man hands out copies of the court verdict on American rapper A$AP Rocky at Stockholm District Court, in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday Aug. 14, 2019. Swedish court on Wednesday found American rapper A$AP Rocky guilty of assault for his role in a June 30 street brawl in Stockholm. (Anders Wiklund / TT via AP)

A Swedish court on Wednesday found American rapper A$AP Rocky guilty of assault for his role in a June 30 street brawl in Stockholm that drew the close attention of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Though the 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, and his two bodyguards were found to have hit and kicked the victim during the brawl, the three defendants did not face the prospect of an immediate prison term and did not have to attend the verdict by the Stockholm District Court.

The court did sentence the three to "conditional sentences," which means they face no prison sentence in Sweden unless they commit a similar offense in the country again.

The three, who were released Aug. 2 pending the verdict and returned to the U.S., have been ordered to a pay a total of 12,500 kronor ($1,310) in compensation to the victim.

The artist had pleaded self-defense and said he had tried to avoid a confrontation with the two men who he claimed were persistently following his entourage. One of them picked a fight with one of Mayers' two bodyguards, the rapper told during the court proceedings.

The court said the defendants "were not in a situation where they were entitled to self-defense."

"In an overall assessment the court finds that the assault has not been of such a serious nature that a prison sentence must be chosen," the court said.

This sort of sentencing is in line with other cases in Sweden.

During the trial, prosecutors played video footage that showed the rapper throwing a young man to the ground.

Though the victim, 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari, was struck in the back of the head with a bottle, presiding judge Per Lennerbrant said it could "not be established by whom" and this inability "affected the assessment of the seriousness of the crime."

Slobodan Jovicic, Mayers' Swedish defense lawyer was "disappointed" by the verdict and said he had been looking for "a complete acquittal."

Mayers had told the court before his release that Jafari and his friend refused to go away despite several appeals, and claimed they appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

Testifying in court, Jafari said his memory of the events was confused because of the blows to his head during the brawl. He had told police earlier that he got angry as his headphones were broken during the initial argument with a bodyguard.

A full-scale brawl ensued shortly afterward and prosecutors allege that Mayers and his bodyguards — David Rispers, Jr. and Bladimir Corniel — beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground. They said Jafari was hit with parts of or a whole bottle.

Jafari claimed the rapper pushed him to the ground. The prosecution played video footage in court showing Mayers throwing a young man to the ground, and photos showed the alleged victim's cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes.

The case drew the attention of American celebrities and Mayers' fellow recording artists, including Sean "Diddy" Combs and Justin Bieber. A social media campaign, #JusticeForRocky, has been pressing for his release.

The issue also became a topic of U.S.-Swedish diplomatic spat.

U.S. President Trump intervened on behalf of the rapper while he was jailed, and called Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, offering to personally guarantee his bail, but the Swedish leader said he couldn't interfere in a legal case.  Trump later cheered the release of Mayers and his bodyguards.

Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019
The Music Playground promotes Deborah Cally to VP of licensing
Deborah Cally

Bicoastal original music and sync licensing company The Music Playground has promoted L.A.-based Deborah Cally to VP of licensing.

Handling creative pitching, deal negotiations, and business development with an array of clients, Cally has been integral to the growth and success of The Music Playground where she’s helped place or create music across thousands of TV shows, advertisements, trailers, promos, films, and other media.

Working with brands and entertainment companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Netflix, NBC, HBO, Showtime, Fox, CBS, and MTV, Cally brings over 20 years of experience in the music industry and has a keen ear for finding the right piece of music to elevate picture. 

Eric Hillebrecht, chief creative officer of The Music Playground, said, “Deborah was brought in six years ago to open up doors for us and instead she broke down walls. I am ecstatic about the growth she has brought to our company and even more proud of her growth with us and to call her our VP of licensing.”

  • Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019
Heard City promotes Stefano Campello to mixer/sound designer
Stefano Campello

Boutique audio postproduction company Heard City has promoted Stefano Campello to mixer/sound designer in its New York City office. 

Campello joined Heard City in 2014 as an assistant mixer/sound designer and has grown into a strong sound designer, bringing a passion for sound, art, and design to projects such as Leon Bridges’ music video “The River,” a feature-length visual album by LNZ,  as well as short films by acclaimed photographer Eric Ogden, Nocturne and Motel. Campello began his career as a graphic designer for women’s apparel company Cosabella, creating marketing materials for advertisements and trade shows. Because of his connection to fashion, he transitioned into creating music mixes for high profile fashion shows during New York, Milan, London and Paris Fashion Weeks, collaborating with brands like Oscar De La Renta to create music mixes that complemented the fashion lines. At Heard City, Campello is working with brand and agency clients including Spotify, Tory Burch, and Geico.

Gloria Pitagorsky, Heard City partner and managing director, said of Campello, “It’s been incredible to see him grow over the past five years and really hone his audio post skills. Stepping into this new role will give him more ownership over projects and client relationships, and will allow him to continue delivering top quality services to clients while training the next generation of audio post leaders on the Heard City team.”

  • Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019
Tom Fleischman to receive Cinema Audio Society Career Achievement Award
Tom Fleischman, CAS (photo by Jeff Thompson)

Multiple CAS and Oscar®-nominated sound mixer Tom Fleischman, CAS  will be honored with the Cinema Audio Society’s highest accolade, the CAS Career Achievement Award, to be presented at the 56th CAS Awards on Saturday, January 25, 2020, at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.

Karol Urban, CAS president, said, “Tom is a world-renowned sound mixer with a portfolio of over 190 films and over 20 television projects. He has won seven CAS awards and garnered another 6 nominations.  His unique and excitingly expansive career has also led him to receive an Oscar as well as multiple Emmys. It is hard to be a fan of the small or large screen without having experienced the work of this talented sound artist. Whether collaborating with Martin Scorsese or mixing rare footage of some of the world’s most renowned musical artists, Tom is a power house professionally as well as a true citizen of his community.  He shares his passion for sound with all around him and generously gives back to his community as a board member and mentor to the next generation of professionals. It is with great pride and enthusiasm that I announce the selection of Tom Fleischman for this honor.”

Fleischman said, “I am thrilled to be receiving this honor. The recognition of my peers is the greatest gift I could ever receive.”

Fleischman was born and raised in New York City, the son of legendary film editor Dede Allen and television documentary writer/producer/director Stephen Fleischman. Although Tom  Fleischman began his career in 1969 as an apprentice film editor, it was not until he went to work for Image Sound Studios in 1971 that he became truly interested in sound. At Image Sound he began by cataloging and creating a sound effects library and recording sound effects and foley.

In 1973 Fleischman joined Trans/Audio Inc. where he worked in the transfer department and was given the opportunity to begin mixing under the tutelage of the well-respected New York re-recording mixer Richard Vorisek. In 1979, Fleischman mixed his first commercial feature film, Jonathan Demme’s Melvin And Howard, and in 1981 he and Dick Vorisek were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound for their work on Warren Beatty’s Reds.

While at Trans/Audio he also first worked for director Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker doing temp dubs on Raging Bull and then joining Dick Vorisek on the mixing of King of Comedy. This began a career-long collaboration with Scorsese which continues to this day. In 1985 Fleischman moved to Sound One where he continued to develop long-term working relationships with many other great directors, including Demme, Spike Lee, John Sayles, David Frankel, Oliver Stone, and Ron Howard, and earned four more Academy Award nominations for Demme’s (1991), Martin Scorsese’s Gangs Of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), and Hugo (2012) for which he also won the Oscar and the British Academy BAFTA Award. For his work in television Fleischman has won Emmy Awards in 2006 for Outstanding Sound Mixing on Scorsese’s documentary, Bob Dylan: No Direction Home, and two Emmys in 2012 for the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire and Alex Gibney’s Showtime documentary History of The Eagles.

Fleischman’s most recent projects include Lee’s BlacKKKlansman, and in-depth documentaries on the life of Elvis Presley, the history of Rolling Stone Magazine, the rock-climbing documentary Free Solo for Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue and Scorsese’s The Irishman.

Fleischman lives in Nyack, NY on the banks of the Hudson River a few miles north of New York City with Priscilla, his bride of 39 years. They have three grown children and four grandchildren. In addition to his professional career in sound Fleischman is a former Captain in the Nyack volunteer fire department of which he is a lifetime member. He is also an instrument rated private pilot (retired), past president of the Westchester Flying Club, plays and collects acoustic guitars, and plays competitive chess.

Fleischman joins an illustrious group of past CAS Career Achievement Honorees that includes: Lee Orloff, Anna Behlmer, John Pritchett, Doc Kane, David MacMillan, Andy Nelson, Chris Newman, Scott Millan, Jeffrey S. Wexler, Randy Thom, Dennis Sands, Ed Greene, Mike Minkler, Willie Burton, Gary Rydstrom, Charles Wilborn, Jim Webb, Richard Portman, Tomlinson Holman, Les Fresholtz, Walter Murch, and Don Rogers.

  • Monday, Aug. 12, 2019
Missy Elliott will receive MTV Video Vanguard Award
This June 13, 2019, file photo shows Missy Elliott speaking at the 50th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame induction and awards ceremony in New York. Elliott will receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP, File)

Missy Elliott, one of the most iconic players in the history of music videos, will receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.

MTV announced Monday that Elliott will also perform on Aug. 26 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Since her debut video for "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" in 1997, where she sported an inflated trash bag with confidence and charisma, Elliott has been a powerhouse on the music video scene with an oddball, eccentric and creative style that's inspired generations after her.

Her upcoming performance on the VMA stage will mark her first since 2003.

Elliott became the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame earlier this year.

  • Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019
Alchemy Post Sound delivers Foley for FX's "Fosse/Verdon"
Michelle Williams (l) as Gwen Verdon and Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse in Fosse/Verdon (photo courtesy of FX Networks)

Alchemy Post Sound created Foley sound for Fosse/Verdon, FX’s critically acclaimed limited series about choreographer Bob Fosse (portrayed by Sam Rockwell) and his collaborator and wife, the singer/dancer Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams). Working under the direction of supervising sound editors Daniel Timmons and Tony Volante, Alchemy Foley artist Leslie Bloome and his team performed and recorded hundreds of custom sound effects to support the show’s sultry dance sequences and add realistic ambience to its historic settings.

For Fosse/Verdon’s many musical scenes, Timmons and Volante were tasked with conjuring intricate sound beds to match the choreography and meld seamlessly with the score. They also created dense soundscapes to back the very distinctive environments of film sets and Broadway stages, as well as a myriad of other exterior and interior locations.

A large portion of the post sound effects were created by Alchemy Post Sound. Most notably, Foley artists meticulously reproduced the footsteps of dancers. Foley tap dancing can be heard throughout the series, not only in musical sequences, but also in certain transitions. “Bob Fosse got his start as a tap dancer, so we used tap sounds as a motif,” explained Timmons.

  • Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019
Sony Pictures Post weaves web of Spidey sound
"Spider-Man: Far From Home" (photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures/Marvel Studios)
CULVER CITY, Calif. -- 

Postproduction sound for this summer’s blockbuster hit from Columbia Pictures, in association with Marvel Studios, Spider-Man: Far From Home, was completed by Sony Pictures Post Production Services. Supervising sound editor and sound designer Steven Ticknor, re-recording mixer and supervising sound editor and sound designer Tony Lamberti and re-recording mixer Kevin O’Connell led a team of veteran sound artists in delivering dynamic soundscapes to match the film’s full throttle action, superhero gadgetry and larger-than-life characters, the latter including a quartet of extra-dimensional creatures with colossal powers known as the Elemental Creatures.

Some of the team’s best sound work was applied to the Elemental Creatures. Each of four creatures required a unique set of signature sounds related to its connection to fire, water, earth and wind. 

Final mixing was completed in the Cary Grant Theater on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, Calif., with O’Connell and Lamberti working natively in Dolby Atmos.  Spider-Man: Far From Home was the first film mixed in the Grant Theater following its recent upgrade to support immersive sound. 

  • Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019
Warren, Rich named to HMMA Board
Diane Warren
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- 

The Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) has named songwriters Diane Warren and Allan Rich to the HMMA Advisory Board and Voting Academy. The acclaimed songsmiths join a group of entertainment professionals that include music artists/producers Verdine White (Earth, Wind & Fire), Dave Mason (Traffic), Nile Rodgers (Chic), Adam Gaynor (Matchbox 20) and film composers John Debney (The Greatest Showman) and Christopher Young (Pet Sematary)

Held in November, the HMMA historically have been over 80% accurate in awarding future recipients of iconic film, TV and videogame awards. For example in film: the 2018 HMMA winners included “Shallow” (A Star is Born) which later won the 2019 Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy. Also winning a 2018 HMMA was Ludwig Goransson for his score to Black Panther, which also garnered the 2019 Oscar and Grammy. 

Warren is a 10-time Oscar nominated, Grammy and Golden Globe winning songwriter. She is the sole owner of her publishing company, Realsongs, and a three-time HMMA winner for “I’ll Fight” (from the RBG documentary), “Stand Up For Something” (from Marshall) and “Till it Happens to You” (The Hunting Ground documentary). 

Rich is a two-time Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe nominated songwriter. He has co-written hit songs for Natalie Cole,  “I Live For Your Love,” James Ingram’s #1 pop hit “I Don’t Have The Heart,” Whitney Houston’s “Run To You” from the 45 million-selling The Bodyguard movie soundtrack and much more.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019
BMG Production Music partners with Wibbitz

Automated video creation company Wibbitz has partnered with BMGPM, the Production Music arm of Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), one of the world’s biggest music publishers. The partnership will make BMGPM’s vast library of premium production music available within Wibbitz’s online video creation platform and video creation API solution, giving customers the assets they need to produce professional quality content.

The Wibbitz platform, which allows users to easily create professional videos without prior video experience, will integrate over 250,000 tracks from the BMG Production Music catalog. The partnership will further expand the platform’s flexibility, enabling content creators at businesses to streamline video production without compromising on quality. BMGPM’s abundant and diverse music collection serves the broad range of industries and video types created by the Wibbitz customer base. Entertainment publishers can choose from BMG’s Production Music labels with pop-infused, high energy tracks to complement their content, while marketers can select an instrumental, beat-forward track for an impactful product demo video.

The partnership will help brands such as BET, Condé Nast and Bloomberg to successfully scale short form video content that meets their brand standards with minimal resources. Music is a key component to producing compelling videos that move, inspire, and engage audiences, but licensing quality soundtracks can be both time consuming and costly. Integrating BMGPM’s music catalog will empower Wibbitz customers with premium quality assets all in one place, from media to soundtracks, to further facilitate video creation.

Zohar Dayan, CEO and co-founder of Wibbitz, said of his company and BMGPM, “We share a common vision - to support the creator community and make quality content production possible and available on a broad scale. The addition of their catalog will undeniably enhance the quality of our users’ videos, all while making the video creation process easier and more enjoyable than ever.”

John Clifford, SVP of global, sales, marketing and repertoire at BMGPM, added, “BMGPM truly believes in the power that production music can deliver and it’s evident that Wibbitz believes the same. Our partnership will continue to champion the hidden hit makers of our catalog, connecting their music with brands and media companies to leverage the reach of Wibbitz videos and further establish the creative prowess of production music.”

  • Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019
China's Tencent in talks to buy 10% of Universal Music Group
In a Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 file photo, Ariana Grande attends the 13th annual Billboard Women in Music event at Pier 36, in New York. Chinese tech giant Tencent is in talks with French media company Vivendi to buy 10% of Universal Music Group, whose artists include Ariana Grande, according to an announcement from Vivendi Tuesday Aug. 6, 2019.(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
PARIS (AP) -- 

Chinese tech giant Tencent is in talks with French media company Vivendi to buy 10% of Universal Music Group, whose artists include Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, U2 and the Rolling Stones.

Vivendi said Tuesday it has started preliminary negotiations that value Universal Music at about 30 billion euros ($33.6 billion).

Tencent would have a one-year option to buy an additional 10% stake, the statement said.

The Chinese and French companies are also considering "areas of strategic commercial cooperation."

Vivendi said that the deal would help it seize new growth opportunities and better promote Universal artists and new talents in new markets.

Tencent is the world's largest gaming company and one of the world's biggest social media businesses.

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