Roc Nation Wins $12M Insurance Claim Over Maroon 5 Manager’s Death

Roc Nation has won a $12 million lawsuit against Texas-based insurance provider Houston Casualty Company (HCC) for failing to pay out a “key man insurance policy” on Maroon 5’s late manager Jordan Feldstein.

Feldstein, older brother of actors Jonah Hill and Beanie Feldstein, was the co-founder and CEO of Career Artist Management (CAM) where he principally managed Maroon 5 and Adam Levine, his childhood friend. He died unexpectedly of natural causes at the age of 40 on Dec. 22, 2017, a day after Roc Nation paid the premium on his insurance policy with HCC.

Roc Nation obtained the policy on Feldstein as part of its 2016 purchase of a 49% ownership interest in CAM. Because of Feldstein’s importance to CAM, he and Roc Nation agreed in their purchase contract to obtain insurance protecting Roc Nation’s investment should Feldstein die or become disabled, according to court papers. Roc Nation purchased the “key man insurance policy” from HCC in 2016 and renewed the policy on Dec. 21, 2017, making it effective from Dec. 15, 2017, onward.

Feldstein died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism, with the Los Angeles Medical Examiner declaring his cause of death as natural. But HCC denied paying out Roc Nation’s claim and Roc Nation responded by suing in U.S. District Court Southern District of New York on Jan. 18, 2019, for wrongfully denying insurance coverage.

HCC argued in court papers that Roc Nation was precluded from any recovery because the company failed to cooperate with HCC’s investigation of the claim — a contention that Roc Nation denied. HCC also argued that the policy language required the insurance payment be reduced by all future profits that could have been traceable to Feldstein’s services. To this, Roc Nation’s legal team argued that the policy’s plain language outlines that it was entitled to recoup from HCC its full investment in CAM, minus any dividends it had received from CAM by the time Feldstein died.

Both sides debated over whether the meaning of “and/or,” writing “insured” rather than “insured person,” and whether misplaced words such as stating “Direct Ascertained Net Loss” rather than “Direct Net Ascertained loss” created other contractual meanings. HCC attorneys tried to convince the judge that term “generated” in the policy referred to revenue that Feldstein meant to set forth “to bring into existence.”

Ultimately, in a 52-page ruling issued Wednesday in U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, Judge Paul Engelmayer sided with Roc Nation finding it “complied with the overwhelming majority of HCC’s requests, and offered reasonable justifications when it failed to do so.” Engelmayer said he found Roc Nation submitted extensive information in response to HCC’s “unreasonably broad” requests and had “only drawn the line when the requests [were] overtly irrelevant or not reasonably-tailored. He also said that term “generated” referred to revenue that was generated and was not a “forward looking” meaning.

Engelmayer ruled that HCC must pay Roc Nation a $12,529,222 policy amount, minus any money generated by Feldstein while he was alive and performing services through December 22, 2017. Engelmayer, however, denied that any post-death revenue from artists formerly associated with Feldstein or CAM needed to taken into account.

“Cases against insurance companies are complex and fact intensive,” says Scott Zolke, a partner at Loeb & Loeb, not affiliated with the case. “It is incumbent upon the insurance company to say precisely what they’re covering, as opposed to using terms that can be interpreted a couple of different ways. And this was an instance where when you look at these terms that I want to say were conflicting, it clearly created an ambiguity, and that ambiguity is going to every time be interpreted against the insurance company and in favor of the insured.”

“It is of paramount importance to specifically and clearly say what you’re insuring…. It underscores the importance of actually reading what you’re signing. A typo leaves us with ambiguity and ambiguity leads to litigation…. If you don’t define precisely what you are insuring, then you’re leaving yourself subject to a differing view.”

Attorneys for Roc Nation and HCC did not respond to request for comment.

Diddy’s REVOLT Promotes Detavio Samuels, Colin McIntosh

Sean “Diddy” Combs’ REVOLT has unveiled key promotions to reshape the top management at the hip-hop cable network after the departure of Roma Khanna as CEO last year.

Detavio Samuels, hired as chief operating officer in 2020, is promoted to CEO, while Colin McIntosh adds the COO title to his chief financial officer duties at the Black-owned media company. Samuels and McIntosh started sharing the leadership at REVOLT as co-heads when former MGM and NBCU exec Khanna stepped down as CEO in July 2020.

And longtime digital strategist Deon Graham has been upped to chief brand officer at Combs Enterprises, Combs’ portfolio of businesses and investments, where he will work closely with Samuels and McIntosh.

“With Black creativity driving the global economy and Hip Hop driving global culture, REVOLT is primed to be the leading Black-owned global media power. Our focus is growing rapidly, expanding digitally, positioning Hip Hop to dominate the video space, and transforming the global media landscape,” Samuels said in a statement.

Launched in 2013 as a music channel on Comcast after its merger with NBCUniversal, the hip hop network plans to create talent-driven channels and forge strategic partnerships with leading brands and media platforms. REVOLT said it has added two million new subscribers from Comcast in the last year to an active viewership in over 60 million homes, and crossed one million YouTube subscribers organically.

The company is also set to release a new REVOLT digital mobile app in the second quarter of 2021 to offer 24-hour original content to viewers worldwide.

“My vision for REVOLT was always to build the world’s largest Black-owned media company powered by the smartest young executives from the culture. As we reimagine the future of the brand, it’s important that we stay true to that mission and position real game-changers to lead the way,” Combs added in his own statement.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

Bhaskar Menon, Legendary EMI and Capitol Records Head, Dies at 86

Bhaskar Menon, the founding chairman and CEO at EMI Music Worldwide who is widely credited for breaking Pink Floyd in the U.S. and presiding over one of Capitol Records’ most successful eras, died on Mar. 4, 2021, at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 86.

“Determined to achieve excellence, Bhaskar Menon built EMI into a music powerhouse and one of our most iconic, global institutions,” said Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge in a statement. “Music and the world have lost a special one. Our hearts go out to his loved ones.”

Over the course of a 34-year tenure at EMI, Menon would work with a slew of boldfaced artists — the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, David Bowie and Tina Turner among them — but it would be his time as president and CEO of Capitol Records that would bring him his greatest renown. Asked in 1971 to lead the Los Angeles-based label, in which EMI held a majority interest, Menon would go on to orchestrate a massive, company-wide campaign around the release of Pink Floyd’s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon despite the band’s failure to break through to U.S. audiences over the preceding years. The gambit paid off: The Dark Side of the Moon soon rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, minted the band as major stars in America and has since been certified 15-times platinum by the RIAA. In the process, he reversed the fortunes of the label — which had experienced a major hit to its bottom line after the breakup of its top act the Beatles in 1970 — virtually overnight.

In the 2003 documentary The Making of the Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason acknowledged Menon’s outsized influence on the album’s success. “The story in America was a disaster, in that we really hadn’t sold records,” he said at the time. “And so they brought in a man called Bhaskar Menon who was absolutely terrific. He decided he was going to make this work, and make the American company sell [Dark Side of the Moon]. And he did.”

Born Vijaya Bhaskar Menon in Thiruvanthapuram, India, on May 29, 1934, to father KRK — a notable civil servant who would go on to serve as India’s first Finance Minister — and mother Saraswathi, Menon would form a love of music via the Indian ragas his mother played in their home growing up.

After earning his master’s degree from Christ Church, Oxford, Menon kicked off what would become a 34-year run at EMI in 1956 after being recruited to the company directly from the university. In 1957, he moved to EMI’s Indian subsidiary, Gramophone Company of India, where he rose through the ranks before eventually being elevated to chairman in 1969. One notable example of Menon’s zeal for his work came in 1968, when he hand-delivered a recording device to the Bombay studio where George Harrison was recording his debut solo album Wonderwall. “Mr. Bhaskar Menon brought a two-track machine all the way from Calcutta on the train for me,” Harrison recalled later, “because all they had in Bombay at the time was a mono machine, the same kind we used in Abbey Road to do the ‘Paperback writer writer’ echo.”

Later in 1969, Menon’s career received another boost when the 35-year-old executive was named managing director of EMI International, holding direct operating responsibility for companies in 25 countries.

The most notable chapter in Menon’s career began in 1971, when he relocated to Los Angeles in 1971 to take the helm at Capitol, where he allegedly laid down the following motto for employees: “’Uncompromising excellence in what you do goes without saying. We expect more than that.”

Menon would live up to his own words by helping successfully steer the company  into the new decade. In addition to the monster success of The Dark Side of the Moon, which would remain on the Billboard 200 for 14 years, Menon would preside over successful releases from acts including Grand Funk Railroad, Linda Ronstadt, Helen Reddy, Wings, Natalie Cole, Bob Seger and The Steve Miller Band.

Menon’s tenure at Capitol came to an end in 1978, when he was named chairman and CEO of EMI Music Worldwide, a position he held for the next 12 years (along with the dual role of chairman of EMI Films & TV for North America). In 1990, he would be awarded the IFPI Medal of Honour for services to the global music industry after serving for many years as IFPI’s chairman and president. That same year, he was appointed to the rank of Chevalier De L’Ordre Des Arts et Des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture for his service to the music and film industries.

After leaving the music business in the early 1990s, Menon remained in Los Angeles and founded the company International Media Investments in 1995, through which he invested in and provided consultation services for a variety of entertainment and media businesses, including Indian broadcaster NDTV, where he held a seat on the board.

Menon is survived by Sumitra, his wife of 49 years, sons Siddhartha and Vishnu and sister Vasantha Menon.

Music’s First Blockchain Ticketer Big Neon Has Run Out of Money

Big Neon was billed as music’s first blockchain ticketing company when it launched at the end of 2018 and announced plans top become a token-based system by 2020 and the eventual “spiritual successor” to Ticketfly. But 27 months after launching, the mobile-based ticketing system has run out of money and is now shutting its doors, co-founders Dan Teree and Ryan O’Connor confirm to Billboard.

Earlier this week, Teree and O’Connor sent to a note to venue clients like the Midway and Bimbo’s 365 in San Francisco, the Gas Monkey in Dallas and The Exit/In in Nashville announcing Big Neon’s plans to close effective March 30.

“It is with great regret that Big Neon has decided to cease operations,” the letter read. “This was an extremely difficult decision for the Big Neon team. Our goal was to build a new type of ticketing company based on a mobile-centric approach. Unfortunately, growing an early stage company in the current COVID environment was untenable.”

Big Neon was billed as a blockchain ticketing company when it was launched in December 2018, with plans to utilize the Tari blockchain protocol, which Teree developed with cryptocurrency pioneer Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni and entrepreneur Naveen Jain. But those plans never materialized and instead Big Neon operated like a traditional software based system for the past two years. With backgrounds at Ticketfly — Teree was a co-founder, while O’Connor previously served as business development director — the men generated considerable buzz around their plans for tech-focused ticketing company similar to the Ticketfly system, which parent company Eventbrite shut down in 2019 following a 2017 purchase.

But Big Neon never made the planned 2020 shift to the Tori protocol and struggled with liquidity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic as the live events business ground to a halt, leaving Teree and O’Connor without any revenue.

“The opportunity to build Big Neon was a gift,” O’Connor says. “That said, the ongoing uncertainty of COVID combined with the need to raise substantial sums of capital to play in the live music space made for tough headwinds. This is ultimately the best move for all.”

Teree co-founder Andrew Dreskin left Eventbrite in 2019 and is now working on a technology project called Fly Machine.

“I think many of the priorities we were committed to will show up in other ticketing platforms in the not-so-distant future, particularly in the form of mobile-only tickets and building a memorable app-based experience for consumers,” Teree says. “We are technology builders and it sucks when you don’t get to build cool things. I guess it’s not that different than what countless artists and bands are going through right now!”

In their letter to clients, Teree and O’Connor released their clients from their contracts and laid out plans for any tickets to future events remaining on the Big Neon to either be paid out or refunded. Several clients contacted by Billboard said they had been approached by new ticketing companies offering their services.

Coronavirus

Kelly Clarkson Wraps You With ‘These Arms of Mine’ for Her Otis Redding Cover

Kelly Clarkson embraced an old-school classic by covering Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine” for Friday’s (March 5) Kellyoke segment on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

A single spotlight illuminated Clarkson’s silhouette as she walked up to the mic on the blacked-out stage before yellow and purple lights lit up the talk show host.

“These arms of mine/ They are burning/ Burning from wanting you/ These arms of mine/ They are wanting/ Wanting to hold you,” she crooned the chorus with her own soulful spin.

“These Arms of Mine” was Redding’s first-ever single that he released with Stax Records in 1962 and was featured on his 1964 debut album Pain in My Heart. The song peaked at No. 22 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.

This isn’t Clarkson’s first time singing the song: She covered “These Arms of Mine” back in 2016 while teasing a big announcement on her Facebook Live with help from her longtime musical director Jason Halbert, who was at his usual post by the piano five years later for this latest cover.

Watch her latest Kellyoke cover of “These Arms of Mine” below.

Adam Levine Says There Are No Bands Anymore & Hayley Williams Has Questions

Adam Levine got Twitter abuzz thanks to a new interview in which he lamented a lack of bands in the pop music landscape. As it turns out, a couple of current bands had some thoughts.

In an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, promoting Maroon 5’s latest single “Beautiful Mistakes” with Megan Thee Stallion, Levine talked about how things look a lot different now than they did when his band dropped their debut album, Songs About Jane, almost 20 years ago.

“When the first Maroon 5 album came out, there were still other bands,” the frontman said. “I feel like there aren’t any bands anymore, you know? That’s the thing that makes me kind of sad, is that there were just bands. There’s no bands anymore, and I feel like they’re a dying breed.”

One of the people who took issue with his statement was Hayley Williams, who has fronted the band Paramore since their first album in 2005 — not too long after Maroon 5’s breakthrough.

“adam levine thinks paramore broke up :(,” Williams tweeted.

To be fair, some fans thought the same, given that Williams has released two solo albums in the last two years, including last month’s Flowers for Vases/Descansos. But she reassured worried fans on New Year’s Day, replying to a fan’s message of “Omg I thought paramore was breaking up,” tweeting, “lol y’all been worried about that too long. aint happening.”

A band that predates Maroon 5 had something to say about Levine’s comment too, with Garbage tweeting in response: “What are we Adam Levine? CATS?!?!?” Garbage formed in 1993 and found much of their commercial success that decade, but their most recent album, Strange Little Birds, was released in 2016.

Levine did hedge his comment to Lowe a bit, adding, “I mean, there still are plenty of bands, and maybe they’re not in the limelight quite as much, or in the pop limelight, but I wish there could be more of those around.”

Maroon 5 released their last album, Red Pill Blues, in 2017. Since then, the band released a remix of one of the album’s tracks, “Girls Like You,” with Cardi B in May 2018, which logged seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and they headlined the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show. In the Apple Music interview, Levine teased that the band’s next album is “not far off.”

Grimes Signs to Columbia Records: Exclusive

Grimes has signed with Columbia Records, a source tells Billboard. This marks her first foray into the major label system, having released albums only on independent labels previously.

After releasing two albums in 2010 on Canadian indie Arbutus Records, Grimes’ last three albums were released on 4AD — Visions (2012), Art Angels (2015) and Miss Anthropocene (2020). Collectively these projects have earned 736,000 album consumption units, of which 307,000 are in album sales and 554 million on-demand song streams in the U.S., according to MRC Data.

Reps for Grimes and Columbia Records declined to comment.

Although Grimes’ popularity has grown both as an artist and celebrity figure (she shares a child with Elon Musk), her music has not yet broken through to the mainstream in a demonstrable way. Visions in 2012 entered the all-genre Billboard 200 chart at No. 98 and the Top Alternative Albums chart at No. 17. Art Angeles in 2015 landed at No. 36 on the Billboard 200 and topped the Top Alternative Albums chart. And Miss Anthropocene in 2020 hit No. 32 on the Billboard 200 chart, topped the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart and reached No. 4 on the Top Alternative Albums chart.

On Feb. 28, Grimes made a splash as one of the highest profile artists to enter the growing NFT (non-fungible tokens) marketplace. She sold 10 digital art pieces — including a one-of-a-kind video involving a cross, sword and flying cherubs and set to an original Grimes song for nearly $389,000 — for a total of $5.8 million.

News of Grimes’ deal follows news that Columbia recently signed Miley Cyrus on Thursday. Billboard also reported on Wednesday that Swedish House Mafia and the label had amicably parted ways. The Sony Music-owned label, led by CEO Ron Perry, also has artists Adele, AC/DC, Beyoncé, Blink-182, Calvin Harris, Harry Styles and 24kGoldn on its roster.