|FRIDAY 5 JULY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Competition & Markets Authority has announced that it is beginning contempt of court proceedings against Viagogo over the ticket resale site's alleged failure to comply with an injunction issued last November... [READ MORE]|
Regulator begins contempt of court proceedings against Viagogo
Last year's court order came about because, unlike its competitors in the secondary ticketing market, Viagogo failed to voluntarily commit to meet various demands made by the CMA. The ticket resale firm was given until January to meet those demands, which aimed to ensure that the company fully complied with British consumer rights law.
At various points since then Viagogo has variously stated that it is now compliant with the injunction, that it continues to work with the CMA to address its concerns, and that it hopes to fall in line with UK law "as soon as possible". The recently chatty Viagogo exec Cris Miller has also started spinning a new line that his company is a young disruptor still learning to adapt, even though the company has been operating since 2006.
In a statement yesterday, the CMA said that - while Viagogo has made various improvements to its site over the last six months - concerns remain. In particular regarding misleading or unclear messaging around ticket availability, seat numbers, seller identity and the fact that a promoter may be allowed to cancel a touted ticket, depending on the terms and conditions of the original sale via a primary ticketing platform.
In its statement, the CMA said that it "has now completed further checks and considered the findings of an independent review of Viagogo's compliance with the order". Despite the aforementioned improvements, and the payment of over £400,000 in refunds to people whose claims had previously been wrongly rejected, "these are not enough, in the CMA's view, to comply fully with the court order. Therefore, the CMA has today notified Viagogo that it will be asking a court to find it in contempt of court".
The regulator's CEO Andrea Coscelli added: "It is simply not good enough that Viagogo is continuing to drag its heels by not complying in full with this important court order. We secured the order on behalf of people who use these resale websites and deserve to know the facts before parting with their hard-earned money".
Having "repeatedly raised concerns" with Viagogo itself, while also instigating an independent review of the site's changes, he said, "we are very concerned that it still hasn't done what it was ordered to do. We are now taking the next step in legal action to ask a court to find Viagogo in contempt".
For its part, Viagogo said in a statement that it was "surprised at the announcement from the CMA today, which we learnt of through their press release, and we deny the allegations that we are in breach of compliance with their regulations".
It went on: "We have recently completed a third party review which has given us approval that we are reaching compliance with the requirements. We will continue to work closely with the CMA, as we have been for the past year, to ensure we are offering the best possible consumer experience and protections in the UK".
But the CMA's announcement regarding contempt proceedings was welcomed by Sharon Hodgson MP, a long-time campaigner against online ticket touting.
"Viagogo have had four years to comply with consumer rights legislation but have always failed to do so", she said yesterday. "In the process they have ripped off thousands of genuine fans who have been left disappointed, frustrated and out of pocket. It is therefore welcome news that the CMA are now taking Viagogo to court for contempt".
"I hope that this action will show Viagogo that their parasitical business model will be tolerated no longer", she added. "Once again, I urge consumers to do their research before they buy from the secondary ticket market and above all: do not buy from Viagogo".
Michael Jackson fans sue the late star's accusers in French courts
Robson and Safechuck both knew Jackson when they were children. Since the pop star's death a decade ago, they have alleged that Jackson abused them during that time. Their allegations came to much wider attention earlier this year when they featured in the 'Leaving Neverland' documentary that was aired by HBO in the US and Channel 4 in the UK.
The Jackson family and estate, and the late musician's fans, have been repeatedly critical of the programme, its director, and its subjects. They point out that both Robson and Safechuck defended Jackson while the star was still alive. Though the documentary does actually deal with why the two men made their claims somewhat late in the day.
The airing of 'Leaving Neverland' and the resulting renewed media interest in the various abuse allegations made against Jackson has certainly tarnished the pop star's legacy somewhat. Which possibly also impacted on plans to mark the recent ten year anniversary of Jackson's premature death back in 2009.
Jackson's supporters claim that Robson and Safechuck are lying, seeking either fame or fortune by making these allegations since Jackson's passing. But the Jackson estate's legal options are limited because, in most countries, defamation laws don't normally apply to the deceased. It did go legal against HBO, but mainly by citing a 1992 contract between the broadcaster and the musician which had a non-disparagement clause.
However, defamation laws in France work differently. The lawyer representing the Michael Jackson Community, MJ Street and On The Line fan groups - Emmanuel Ludot - is quoted by Reuters as saying: "In France you cannot sully the image of the dead. There's moral and emotional suffering. And when there's suffering, there's compensation. It's very simple".
The fans are seeking symbolic damages of one euro from each of Jackson's accusers. The estate is not involved in the proceedings but, according to the Associated Press, has sent a letter of support to the three fan groups.
Back in 2014, five Michael Jackson fans successfully sued Conrad Murray - the doctor convicted of causing Jackson's death - for "emotional damage" through the French courts. Also represented by Ludot, they were each awarded damages of one euro.
A judgement on this new case is expected on 4 Oct.
Warner buys Slovakian music firm, acquires catalogue of old Czechoslovakian state-run label
The deal also covers the catalogue of OPUS, which was previously a state-run label in what was then Czechoslovakia. OPUS was behind the vast majority of record releases in what is now Slovakia between the 1960s and the 1990s. Following its purchase of Forza, Warner plans to relaunch the OPUS brand as a frontline label run by Julius Kincek, one of Slovakia's best-known record producers.
Warner's MD in the Czech Republic, Vladimir Kočandrle, confirmed the deal, saying: "I'm delighted that we're able to bring Forza Music into the Warner family and relaunch the legendary OPUS brand. It's fantastic that the hugely respected Julius Kincek will lead OPUS as we write the next chapter of the label's story".
For his part, Kincek adds: "I'm very excited about this opportunity to work with one of the world's biggest music companies. It's the first time I've been involved in such a deal and I'm full of expectations about what we can achieve together".
Warner's EVP for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Alfonso Perez-Soto, says the new deal cements his company's link with Slovakia, and is "just the latest step in our strategy of expanding Warner Music's footprint in emerging markets around the world".
New Head Of A&R at Insanity Records
Kinross moves over from Sony's music publishing company Sony/ATV. He has more than ten years experience in creative and A&R roles on the publishing side of the business, both at Sony/ATV and prior to that BMG.
Confirming the new appointment, Insanity Records President Andy Varley says: "I am delighted to welcome Alastair to Insanity Records. He is a strategic creative with a proven track record, and he is perfectly placed to drive our artist development forward".
Kinross himself said he was "THRILLED to be joining Insanity Records. This is a really exciting time in the development of the label and I look forward to working with the team to take it to the next stage".
Louise returns with Clean Bandit collaboration
Actually, technically she announced her big return back in March, again by releasing a single. But I don't think we'll count that as an official announcement, because said release was what a more cruel person than me might call 'a flop'. Though only because it failed to chart. Which hardly seems like a fair way to judge something's success. It got playlisted on Radio 2 after all and, I am assured, was very well reviewed.
Actually, the month before that non-flop single, she also announced new record and publishing deals. Which, again, might be considered an official announcement of her return.
Although if you're going to start counting things like that as official announcements of her return, then you might as well count all the times since 2017 that she's said she's recording new music. Or released new performance videos on her YouTube channel. Or performed a live show. But, you know, that's going to result in an awful lot of counting.
Anyway, until now none of these Louise things have involved Clean Bandit. But has that now changed, you wonder? You bet your fucking face it has. Because her new single, 'Lead Me On', was co-written and produced by Clean Bandit. You know, Clean Bandit. Like, the famous Clean Bandit off of pop music and all that. Yes, them! They did it!
What a way to announce your big return after nearly two decades of silence! It's lucky nobody remembers any of the other previous announcements of the big return, because that could slightly tarnish this one, and this one is a real big bang of an announcement.
"Clean Bandit were at the top of my wish list to work with on this album and I am so excited about the outcome and sharing this track", says Louise. "The lyrical concept of the song is something I am sure everyone has related to at some point in time".
Lousie will release her fourth solo album - her first for eighteen flipping years - on 18 Oct. 'Heavy Love', it's called. I read somewhere that there's collaboration with Clean Bandit on it. That's big news if it's true! I await the official announcement with intrigue.
Liz Lawrence announces new solo album, Pity Party
Between albums - her first, 'Bedroom Hero', was released in 2012 - Lawrence formed Cash + David and toured with Bombay Bicycle Club. But now she has gone solo once again. She started with a series of standalone singles last year and is now readying a larger collection with a plea for everyone to cheer up. Or not. One of the two.
"I think almost every generation is scared that their generation is going to be the last one", she says. "But it's quite hard to deny that it feels as if we're hurtling towards disaster".
'Pity Party' is out on 25 Oct and you can watch the video for 'Navigator' here. She will also play Huw Stephens' night at The Social in London on 13 Aug.
Ed Sheeran - you know Ed Sheeran, right? - has released two new songs from his collaborations album. Two! He just can't help himself. He's got to get these songs to you right now! Here's 'Blow' featuring Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars. And here's 'Best Part Of Me' featuring Yebba. Two!
Post Malone has released new single 'Goodbyes', featuring Young Thug. Goodbye.
Big Narstie and Donae'o have released the video for their recent single 'It's Yours'. "When I heard Donae'o lay the hook I knew that it was fire and I just started spraying", says Big Narstie (he means rapping, old people. He's not a cat). "Making this track happened so quickly once the process started and we both knew [we] were onto something big".
Wiley has released new single, 'My One', featuring Tory Lanez, Kranium and Dappy. Dappy!
Ava Max has teamed up with K-pop group NCT 127 for new single, 'So Am I'.
Mahalia has released new single, 'Simmer', featuring Burna Boy. She'll be touring the UK in November, including a date at the Roundhouse in London on 25 Nov. So that's nice.
Whoa! Lethal Bizzle has released new single, 'Whoa!'
CupcakKe has released new single, 'Ayesha'.
Thrash metallers Acid Reign have announced their first album since 1990. 'The Age Of Entitlement' is set for release on 27 Sep. Having split in 1991, the band re-emerged in 2014, with frontman Howard 'H' Smith the only original member.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Joss Stone denied entry to Iran as total world tour reaches completion
She posted to Instagram from Kish Island, off the southern coast of Iran, saying that officials there weren't convinced that she was only planning a private performance in the country, and therefore they asked her to leave.
"We were aware there couldn't be a public concert as I am a woman and that is illegal in this country", she wrote. "However, it seems the authorities don't believe we wouldn't be playing a public show so they have popped us on what they call the 'black list', as we found out when we turned up to the immigration hall".
"After long discussions with the most friendly charming and welcoming immigration people", she went on, "the decision was made to detain us for the night and to deport us in the morning. Of course I was gutted. So close yet so far, this moment broke a little piece of my heart".
But, she stressed several times, officials at the Kish Island airport were incredibly apologetic and encouraged her to visit the Iranian embassy back in the UK to "sort it all out", so she could return to the country to complete her 'sing everywhere' mission.
A police statement cited by Iran's state broadcaster confirmed that Stone had been denied entry to the country because she didn't have the required paperwork.
There have been increased political tensions between some Western countries and Iran of late of course, principally the US, but also the UK. Though Stone's world trip has already taken in plenty of other places where the political situation is tricky and, in some cases, military conflict is ongoing. That includes recent visits to both Yemen and Libya.