TODAY'S TOP STORY: The director of that new documentary putting the spotlight on abuse allegations against Michael Jackson has defended his film. This follows the late pop star's estate dubbing it a "tabloid character assassination" centring on accusers whose claims have "always been about money"... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Director defends Leaving Neverland documentary as Jackson family speaks out
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Nick Burgess to take up co-president role at Parlophone
French society SACEM announces new division to streamline complex royalty process
EDUCATION & EVENTS Inaugural World Metal Congress to take place in London
GIGS & FESTIVALS The Who announce Wembley Stadium show
Madness announce live shows and book to mark 40th anniversary
ONE LINERS Jerry Keller, Rudimental, Jess Glynne, more
AND FINALLY... Jagged Little Pill musical coming to Broadway
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Director defends Leaving Neverland documentary as Jackson family speaks out
The director of that new documentary putting the spotlight on abuse allegations against Michael Jackson has defended his film. This follows the late pop star's estate dubbing it a "tabloid character assassination" centring on accusers whose claims have "always been about money".

The remarks from director Dan Reed also follow a statement from the Jackson family, who - like the estate - have laid into the documentary, its maker and its subjects, as well as the media response to the project.

The family's statement reads: "We are furious that the media who, without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence, chose to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael, many at Neverland, and experienced his legendary kindness and global generosity".

Like the estate, the family hone in on the fact that the two men who make allegations against Jackson in 'Leaving Neverland' - Wade Robson and James Safechuck - both defended the musician when he was still alive. The men now allege that Jackson abused them in the 1990s, but when the star faced criminal charges of child abuse in 2005 they testified in his defence.

The statement from the Jacksons goes on: "The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families. That is not journalism, and it's not fair ­ yet the media are perpetuating these stories".

Both accusers went legal in relation to the alleged abuse they suffered after Jackson's death. However, both cases were dismissed because the men had left it too long to bring civil proceedings to court. Robson says it was only through therapy in later life, after two breakdowns, that he came to accept Jackson had abused him as a child.

Reed has been defending his film in various interviews to promote the work. Speaking to USA Today, he said of the responses from the Jackson family and estate: "It's pretty much what you'd expect them to say. They obviously haven't seen it".

Specifically speaking in defence of the subjects of his documentary, Reed added in a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter: "Wade and James were not paid in any way, directly, indirectly. The family were not enumerated. There was nothing. No compensation in any form whatsoever. I think that's an important thing to establish".

He then said: "The #MeToo era began during the making of the film, and there's been a sea change in how we regard the victims of sexual assault, and I'm hoping that this film will deepen that and widen it to boys and men, victims of child sexual abuse. Also, I'm hoping it will educate people as to how child sexual abuse happens".

Returning to the estate's criticism of his work and their characterisation of the project as "tabloid character assassination", Reed muses: "They have a very precious asset to protect. Every time a song plays, a cash register goes 'ka-ching'. It doesn't surprise me that they've come out fighting in defence of their asset".

For their part, the Jackson family concluded their statement by claiming "the truth is on our side". They then added: "Go do your research about these opportunists. The facts don't lie, people do. Michael Jackson was and always will be 100% innocent of these false allegations".


Nick Burgess to take up co-president role at Parlophone
Nick Burgess is shifting over from his A&R role at Universal Music's Virgin EMI label to a new job at Warner Music, where he will become Co-President of Parlophone. So that's nice. For him. He'll join Mark Mitchell in jointly steering the Parlophone ship, who, through a quirk of the hiring process, has been solo Co-President for the last year.

King of all of Warner Music Group's recorded music fun times, Max Lousada, says of the news: "Parlophone has always provided an environment for independent, unconventional artists that influence and change culture. Nick comes to Warner with an outstanding track record of finding and breaking original British talent, and I've always been impressed by his vision, fearlessness and creative spirit. He's the perfect choice to join Mitch in taking this legendary label into the future. Together, they'll make a dynamic, transformative leadership team that will grow Parlophone's presence on the global stage".

Burgess himself adds: "Parlophone has been making its mark on British culture for as long as I can remember, and I could not be more excited, or more humbled, to have the opportunity to play a part in navigating this iconic label into its next chapter. Both Mitch and I live and breathe the artist-first philosophy and we intend to place that at the heart of every decision we make, ensuring that Parlophone delivers on our vision to be an innovative and progressive label partner for unique, exciting and culturally significant artists who share our global ambition".

His official first day will be 1 Feb. Which is this Friday. Which means he'll have the weekend to catch his breath before getting on with some more progressive cultural significance next week.


French society SACEM announces new division to streamline complex royalty process
French collecting society SACEM has announced a rejig that will see its licensing, international and operational divisions integrated to "create a streamlined end-to-end solution to the identification, collection and distribution of royalties in order to ensure greater levels of transparency and value for its members". The new combined unit will be headed up by Cécile Rap-Veber, previously Director Of Licensing & International.

In addition to representing the rights of the French songwriting community, SACEM has greatly expanded its operations in recent years, in particular licensing and/or administrating a stack of digital rights for a number of the music publishers who now do direct digital deals for their Anglo-American catalogues. SACEM also collaborates with an assortment of other European societies on digital licensing. And Rep-Veber has played a key role in developing and running this new side of the SACEM business.

Confirming the rejig, SACEM CEO Jean-Noël Tronc said: "This new structure will better equip SACEM to provide fair and transparent distribution of royalties and ensure a sustainable future for the creative sector, as the digitalisation of both music and audio-visual content continues to increase".


Inaugural World Metal Congress to take place in London
The heavy metal industry is to get its own conference with the launch of the World Metal Congress in London in March. Well, if dance music types get their own conferences, why not the metallers?

"This is a world-first", says former Metal Hammer Editor Alexander Milas, who is launching the event. "In these troubling times the fact that this music resonates with people of every colour and culture and creed is an incredibly special thing, and we want to shout that from the rooftops. With the WMC we're creating a unique forum to help bring that truly global community together, and we've already had a phenomenal response".

Gaining support from some significant figures from the off, Black Sabbath's Toni Iommi says: "I'm really pleased to hear that the World Metal Congress will be taking place in the UK. The metal community is huge but rarely gets the recognition it deserves".

Meanwhile, Napalm Death's Barney Greenway, who will be among the speakers at the event, adds: "Human rights and universal artistic licence are tightly intertwined. Breaking tired old stereotypes, celebrating free creative expression without borders and confronting and debating challenging ethical band decisions continues to be an absolute must".

The two-day event will take place at Rich Mix in East London on 22-23 Mar. More information here.


Approved: Josefin Öhrn And The Liberation
Bass-heavy psychedelic duo Josefin Öhrn And The Liberation are set to return this April with their third album, 'Sacred Dreams'.

Their first LP since 2016's 'Mirage', 'Sacred Dreams' comes after Öhrn and her songwriting partner Fredrik Joelson relocated from Stockholm to London. There they brought in a new line-up of supporting musicians, including The Go! Team's multi-instrumentalist Angela Won-Yin Mak, Eskimo Chain frontman Patrick Smith and bassist Ben Ellis, who has worked with Iggy Pop and Swervedriver.

The record was produced by Andy Ramsay of Stereolab at his Press Play studios, where he drew out an even more dense, room-filling sound than on the duo's previous records.

"This album comes out of a period of heartbreak, loss and dissolution, but also of deep love, warmth and beauty unveiled in the middle of it", says Öhrn. "A sacred dream, the way we see it, is not necessarily a golden fluffy cloud river, but instead also contains all the shadows that need to be seen and felt in order to drop what has to go in order to truly live".

"The dissonance of such a dream may not be immediately apparent, let alone the meaning of it", she goes on. "In a way all of these tracks seem to emanate from that place where we have almost reached a new shore, or maybe we missed it and are headed somewhere else entirely, but there's no way of telling until afterwards".

The band will be touring the UK in March and April, including a show at the Islington Assembly Hall in London on 26 Apr.

Listen to the first single from the new album, 'Desire', here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

The Who announce Wembley Stadium show
Brexit-rockers The Who have announced that they will play Wembley Stadium this summer, with orchestral backing, as part of a wider world tour. Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Kaiser Chiefs will be among the line-up of support acts for the London show.

"The Who are touring again in 2019", confirms Pete Townshend. "Roger christened this tour 'Moving On!' I love it. It is what both of us want to do. Move on, with new music, classic Who music, all performed in new and exciting ways. Taking risks, nothing to lose. Looking forward to seeing you all. Are you ready?"

I'm not sure that I am, but maybe Roger Daltrey can convince me. "Be aware Who fans", he begins. "Just because it's The Who with an orchestra, in no way will it compromise the way Pete and I deliver our music. This will be full throttle Who with horns and bells on".

I think you need more than horns and bells to classify as an orchestra, don't you? Well, anyway, tickets for this show go on general sale this Friday. The Who are also going to release a new album this year.


Madness announce live shows and book to mark 40th anniversary
Everyone's performing with an orchestra these days. Even Madness are at it. They'll play with strings and that at Kenwood House this June, as part of various 40th anniversary celebrations.

"40 years at the coal face of modern popular culture", muses frontman Suggs. "Man and boy. Dedicated to the purveyance of popular music of quality and distinction to the people. Dedicated in our selfless quest to have the nation singing, dancing and making merry through some of the darkest times of the last four decades. There will be feasts, street parties extraordinary concerts of every shape and size up and down the nation".

He continues: "We saw off eight prime ministers, twelve England managers and a nasty bout of lumbago. But, it's not the endless achievements, not the unforgettable memories, it's the fact we're even still alive! And miraculously in the rudest of health, thanks for asking. Raise your glasses, lower your swords 'arise Sir Madness!' Get stuck in! Here's to the next 40".

With the Kenwood House show set for 15 Jun, the band will follow it by reviving their House Of Common festival on Clapham Common in London on 26 Aug.

As well as that, Suggs et al are preparing to publish an autobiography - 'Before We Was We' - telling the story of how they originally formed. That being a story they already told in the 1981 film 'Take It Or Leave It', in which they acted out (fairly badly) their own story. It'll be interesting to compare how the telling of that story has developed with four decades of distance between them and it. Although I will quit miss the shoddy acting.

The book is out on 26 Sep, by which time some or all of the new album they're currently working on may also have emerged.


Jerry Keller, Rudimental, Jess Glynne, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Publishing firm New Songs Administration recently announced it had acquired the Lynn Hatch Music catalogue from singer-songwriter Jerry Keller. The catalogue includes various works written by Keller, including the 1958 hit he is still perhaps most associated with, 'Here Comes Summer'.

• Rudimental have released the video for new single 'Scared Of Love', featuring Ray BLK and Stefflon Don.

• Jess Glynne has released a new version of 'Thursday', featuring HER.

• Pete Doherty and new band The Puta Madres will release their debut album on 26 Apr. They're also touring next month. Here's new single, 'Who's Been Having You Over'.

• Lizzo has announced that she will release new album, 'Cuz I Love You', on 19 Apr. The news follows the release of new single 'Juice' earlier this month.

• Preoccupations have released the video for 'Compliance', from their 2018 album 'New Material'.

• Ekkah have released the video for new single 'Homesick'.

• Eels have announced three UK shows in August, hitting Nottingham, Southampton and London. Tickets on sale this Friday.

• Devin Townsend has announced UK tour dates in December, in support of his new solo album, 'Empath', which his out on 29 Mar. "My plan is to interpret my back catalogue, as well as the 'Empath' material, in ways that may change nightly", he says of the shows. "Less computers, and less of a rigid structure".

• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Jagged Little Pill musical coming to Broadway
Because nothing can be just one thing anymore, Alanis Morissette's 1995 debut album, 'Jagged Little Pill', is to hit Broadway as a piece of musical theatre later this year.

Directed by Diane Paulus, with a story by 'Juno' writer Diablo Cody, 'Jagged Little Pill' the musical follows a "picture-perfect suburban family" whose life in reality is not quite so great. Chorography has been handled by Sidi Larbi Cherkaou, which is what really suggests this might actually be alright.

Another reason to allow some optimism is the reviews of the initial run of the show in Cambridge, Massachusetts last year, which had critics falling over themselves to say how much they enjoyed it. You'd hope it would be good - there's been a long lead time on this production. Morissette first revealed that she was developing it back in 2017.

Announcing that the show will arrive on Broadway in the autumn, Morissette says: "This process, and what this process has yielded artistically and collaboratively, has been nothing short of a revelation, a balm and an arrival for me. It is a culmination of so much of what my life's work has been oriented toward".

"To work with Diablo Cody, whose heart is as open as her mind is bright and brave, has taken this record - which has meant so much to me - to a whole other level of depth, meaning and natural activism", she continues. "Touching on topics that keep me up at night for how deeply I care about them, Diablo's at once fierce, sensitive and hilarious voice - and her willingness to stay and deepen the course through this journey of creation has been one of the greatest gifts of my life".

More information on the show here.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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