|MONDAY 13 JANUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US Department Of Justice has outlined six ways in which it believes Live Nation breached the consent decree that it entered into with the government department following its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster. The live giant says it "strongly disagrees" with the competition regulator's conclusions regarding those "isolated episodes", but adds that it is now focused on putting its recent settlement with the DoJ into action... [READ MORE]|
US government sets out six times it believes Live Nation breached its consent decree
The 2010 consent decree dealt with competition law concerns raised by the then new merger of the Live Nation venues and concerts business with Ticketmaster. It put in place various measures that sought to stop the combined Live Nation/Ticketmaster from leveraging its concert promotions business to secure competitive advantage for its ticketing business, or vice versa. The agreement was originally due to expire in 2020.
In more recent years there were various claims that Live Nation had breached the terms of that consent decree at various points, allegations the live giant repeatedly denied. However, despite those denials, by the end of 2019 it emerged that the DoJ had investigated the live firm's conduct and was planning legal action in relation to the consent decree.
Then, just before the Christmas break, it was announced that Live Nation and the DoJ had reached a settlement deal that would stop the former from having to face off the regulator in court. Under that settlement deal the consent decree will be extended for another five and half years, with some elements of the agreement amended or clarified.
All of this was confirmed in a filing by the DoJ with the US courts last week. As well as outlining how the Live Nation consent decree is being amended, that legal filing also summarised the DoJ's investigation into the live company's conduct, and presented its arguments as to how Live Nation and Ticketmaster execs had allegedly breached the agreement over the last ten years.
It provides six specific examples of when Live Nation allegedly pulled or threatened to pull concerts from American venues that chose or were considering choosing a ticketing provider other than Ticketmaster. Those threats started occurring soon after the 2010 consent decree was agreed, the DoJ says, and continued until as recently as March 2019.
While the justice department only provides six specific examples from over ten years of Live Nation/Ticketmaster deal-making, it says that: "As a result of this conduct, venues throughout the United States have come to expect that refusing to contract with Ticketmaster will result in the venue receiving fewer Live Nation concerts or none at all".
"Given the paramount importance of live event revenues to a venue's bottom line", the legal filing goes on, "this is a loss that most venues can ill-afford to risk. As a result, many venues are effectively required to contract with Ticketmaster to obtain Live Nation concerts on reasonable terms, limiting the ability of Ticketmaster's competitors to compete in the primary ticketing market and harming venues that would benefit from increased competition".
The DoJ confirms that Live Nation denies all of the allegations of misconduct made against it. That difference of opinion partly comes down to how some elements of the 2010 consent decree are interpreted, with the two sides disagreeing on what certain specific wording within the agreement actually means. Had the dispute gone to court, judges would have had to decide whose interpretation was right. Some reckon it could have gone either way.
It's because of that disagreement over how the consent decree should be interpreted that the Live Nation/DoJ settlement deal will result in the now extended agreement being revised. That includes, the DoJ's filing says, changes that will "strengthen the compliance provisions, including [the] appointment of an independent monitor and imposition of certain monitoring, notice and reporting obligations". There are also new provisions "intended to make future investigation and enforcement of the [consent decree] more effective".
Responding to the legal filing, Live Nation remained adamant that it had not, in fact, breached the terms of the 2010 consent decree, before stressing that - having already reached a deal with the DoJ on the past - it is now focused on the future.
The company said in a statement: "We strongly disagree with the DoJ's allegations in the filing and the conclusions they seek to draw from six isolated episodes among some 5000 ticketing deals negotiated during the life of the consent decree. Nevertheless, in keeping with our decision to settle, our focus is now on bringing this matter to its conclusion and continuing to deliver the best live event experiences to fans everywhere".
R Kelly girlfriend Azriel Clary reunites with family, says she has been a victim of abuse
It appeared last week that Clary's support for Kelly had ended when a live video was posted to Instagram in which she and Kelly's other girlfriend Joycelyn Savage came to blows. During that fight, which resulted in Savage being charged with battery, Clary seemed to make a number of accusations against Kelly.
Clary then accompanied Savage to a court appearance in Chicago on Friday. There she reunited with her parents, Alice and Angelo, and seemingly subsequently decided to return to the family home that she left aged seventeen to move in with Kelly.
Speaking to People on Friday, and confirming that they were now back in touch with their daughter, Alice Clary said: "The battle is won because she's still here, she's still alive, she's still breathing, and though she lost a few years of her life, she's still here to tell her story ... The victory is won because she finally came to her senses. People don't understand she's hurt. This man lied to her for years, and she was doing what she thought a good girlfriend would do because that's what she thought she was".
Tweeting over the weekend, Azriel Clary herself said: "I woke up today happy but torn, I didn't come to Chicago for [R Kelly], only for Joy. He purposely separated us because he knew I'd try to make her go home. Please pray for Joy, this is just tough love so she can come to her own realisation at her own timing".
"I just want people to embrace me, love me and forgive me because I'm young and I just didn't know", she added. "Please do not crucify me for not being knowledgeable. No one ever wakes up and says 'today I'm going to be manipulated, or taken advantage of, or kidnapped'. Those are things you just cannot control. I never thought me and victim would ever be in the same sentence because I was too in denial. But once you realise, you realise".
Savage was released on bail following her court appearance last week, with a further hearing due in the next few weeks. Although it is understood that she returned to Kelly's Chicago home after being released, TMZ reports that she also met with her family while at the court.
Kelly is currently awaiting trial in three US states accused of sexual abuse against women and girls over many years. Since his initial arrest last year, Clary and Savage have been firm supporters of the musician, denying that they had been held against their will or abused. They have also been in attendance at his court appearances and were expected to give evidence in his defence.
In November, a Patreon account was set up in Savage's name making various accusations against Kelly. But the account was subsequently shut down after Patreon was unable to confirm the identity of the person who set it up. Savage later denied that she had been behind it.
BBC to dissect Beethoven's life, work and body to celebrate 250th anniversary
There will, of course, be plenty of live performances of the composer's works, mainly on BBC Radio 3, but also telly channel BBC Four. However, the season will also include programmes exploring Beethoven's life, as well as the work of some of his contemporaries, and newer works inspired by his music.
Among the TV programmes being planned is one with the working title 'Being Beethoven' which will, the broadcaster says, "seek to return Beethoven to the context of his own time and place ... reimagining how he might have experienced day-to-day life".
Over on BBC Radio 3 there will be a new drama called 'Beethoven Can Hear You' that will, according to the official blurb, "endeavour to give audiences the chance to follow Beethoven's journey of hearing loss".
A programme called 'Unseen Vienna' will "shine a light on Beethoven's female contemporaries who have since been largely overlooked by history", while 'Dissecting Beethoven' will "seek to learn more about the composer from the results of the autopsy carried out after his death". So that's fun.
Announcing all this, the BBC's classical music chief Alan Davey says: "This unique celebration will offer audiences an opportunity to explore the achievements of Beethoven afresh and understand his continued relevance today. From the latest research into his life to concerts of excellence, there's something for everyone".
Meanwhile BBC Music TV's Head Of Commissioning Jan Younghusband adds: "I am certain that many of us can relate to the struggles Beethoven faced in his personal life - from tumultuous relationships to his eventual loss of hearing affecting him profoundly both personally and professionally".
"With this in mind", she goes on, "we have taken his anniversary as an opportunity to delve a little more deeply into the man behind the music, with our three-part series 'Being Beethoven' on BBC Four delving into his life story, giving us further insight into his character and experiences that informed his ground-breaking musical compositions and the influence he has on the future of classical music".
Music industry pays tribute to Lyndon Stephens
A statement on the latter's Facebook reads: "Our founder, captain, friend and brother Lyndon Stephens passed away this morning following a long battle with illness. Initially given six months to live in July 2017, Lyndon refused to accept his initial diagnosis and defeated insurmountable odds, all while running Northern Ireland's most successful independent music enterprise".
Through his management company and label, Stephens not only guided and progressed the careers of numerous artists, he also provided invaluable support for the Northern Irish music industry, both on-the-ground in Northern Ireland itself, and as a champion of its output across the globe. He was also an active member of the wider UK independent music community, regularly sharing his insights on the challenges and opportunities of launching and managing artists in the digital age.
The Quiet Arch statement adds: "A visionary who helped guide the international careers of many musicians, Lyndon was a larger-than-life presence for his co-workers, clients, friends and family. A techno head, a soul brother, a teacher and mentor, a life-long companion and a father, Lyndon left an irreplaceable impact on all of our lives, and we are unspeakably injured and heartbroken at his loss".
Among those paying tribute this weekend was journalist and broadcaster Stuart Bailie, who writes on the BBC Across The Line website: "Lyndon Stephens was a magnificent force for good in music. His record label Quiet Arch was based at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast but his reach was international".
"The man had the keenest mind for strategy and new music practice and made sure that his acts were primed to benefit", he goes on. "But the over-arching feeling on the day of his passing is that Lyndon gave out love. At a time when musicians are regarded as content providers - pimping out software and product and worthy of little return - Lyndon treated his people as absolute artists".
Quiet Arch had already announced that its operations would go on hiatus, with a show to celebrate its legacy planned for last Friday night. That gig went ahead, with the label urging people to continue to attend "so that we may witness and celebrate Lyndon's legacy properly".
Its statement concludes: "Lyndon is survived by his loving wife Lisa and his children. We would ask that you respect the privacy of the family at this time. Those wishing to celebrate Lyndon's life are welcome to attend Roselawn Crematorium on Wednesday 15 Jan at 5pm. Family flowers or donations to the Marie Curie hospice are welcomed".
Melt Yourself Down announce new album
"So much has changed in the world since we started writing [for this record] in 2016", says the band's Pete Wareham. "We couldn't ignore any of it and this new music is borne from our feelings of extreme cultural restlessness".
The album is out on 27 Mar. The band will also be touring in support of the record. Here are the dates:
22 Apr: London, Lafayette
BRITs announces awards shortlists with women noticeably absent
So yeah, the nominations for this year's BRIT Awards are out, and this year's controversy is that in the newly announced non-gendered categories Mabel is the only female artist to get a proper look-in. That includes in the Song Of The Year shortlist, which has ten nominees based on sales and streaming stats, from which a final winner will be chosen by the awards' thousand strong panel of industry insiders.
The gender balance is improved very slightly if you include the already announced Rising Star Award - the rebranded Critics' Choice Award - which this year featured an all-female shortlist, ultimately topped by Celeste. If you're not counting that in the main list though, then you're left with very little else to cling onto.
The Group Of The Year and Album Of The Year categories are exclusively male, while Mabel de-penises the New Artist Of The Year category to a factor of one. Her track 'Don't Call Me Up' is the only single up for Song Of The Year by a woman on her own and not in collaboration with a man (Miley Cyrus and Normani appearing on singles by Mark Ronson and Sam Smith).
In many ways, this is a vindication of those who were critical when it was rumoured last year that the ceremony's organisers were planning to ditch gendered categories. Many of those against the idea argued that it would mean women wouldn't be nominated for any prizes at all. Although BRITs organisers subsequently confirmed that they were undertaking a general review of the prize categories, they denied that they had any imminent plans to consolidate the awards currently handed out on gender lines, possibly for that exact reason.
Of course, it's not clear how the solo artist categories - which are split along gender lines - would be affected if they were combined. The British Male Solo Artist category features a strong list of artists with massive commercial success, with Dave, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Michael Kiwanuka and Stormzy. The female category, meanwhile, is perhaps more creatively interesting - with Charli XCX, FKA Twigs, Freya Ridings, Mabel and Mahalia - but could have faced a tough battle against inarguably some of the biggest and most successful names in music of the last year.
In the international categories, however, the balance of power shifts almost entirely in the other direction. Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Lana Del Rey and Lizzo fill the International Female Solo Artist shortlist, with Bruce Springsteen, Burna Boy, Dermot Kennedy, Post Malone and Tyler, The Creator on the male side.
You could argue that such concerns over merging gendered categories are still irrelevant and that everyone should be allowed to compete (if 'compete' is the right word) on a level playing field. After all, having gendered categories perpetuates an outdated idea that there is some difference between the creativity of men and women - as well as blocking out anyone who does not want to be identified along traditional gender lines.
While organisers of the BRITs inevitably find themselves at the receiving end of large amounts of criticism when their shortlists have such a heavy gender imbalance, this turn of events perhaps reflects wider issues in the music industry. Despite efforts to improve the diversity of the BRITs voting academy in recent years - after the booming grime scene failed to receive recognition in 2016 - clearly there are still issues with overall diversity in the voting process.
Does that mean that further work needs to be done to improve the diversity of those voting in the awards? Perhaps. Although with a mainstream awards show impacted to an extent by commercial success, that alone wouldn't necessarily help. After all, with the Song Of The Year longlist, it's the public who ensured that male artists had a stronger showing simply by streaming and buying more of their music.
So is it that the British public are sexist and just don't like listening to women as much as men? Maybe. Although does that begin with the way the music industry selects which artists to sign to the biggest deals and marketing budgets? Of course, there have been years when the most commercially successful British releases have come from female artists, who have then usually appeared in the following year's single and album shortlists at the BRITs. Though often still alongside a higher number of male acts, suggesting there is, nevertheless, a general bias.
Now, the all-female shortlist for the Rising Star Award might be a sign that things are moving in the right direction, possibly thanks to the various initiatives in recent years to encourage and enable more female music-makers to pursue a career as a frontline artist.
However - whether it's down to voting systems, consumer bias or industry practices - nomination lists like those published by the BRITs this weekend are a reminder that there is still plenty more to be done. Because there's a real possibility that there could be just two awards handed to female musicians at this year's BRIT Awards next month, both in categories where men are not allowed.
Whatever though, here are all of this year's embarrassing BRIT Awards nominations:
Group: Bastille, Bring Me The Horizon, Coldplay, D-Block Europe, Foals
Female Solo Artist: Charli XCX, FKA Twigs, Freya Ridings, Mabel, Mahalia
Male Solo Artist: Dave, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Michael Kiwanuka, Stormzy
New Artist: Aitch, Dave, Lewis Capaldi, Mabel, Sam Fender
International Female Solo Artist: Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello, Lana Del Rey, Lizzo
International Male Solo Artist: Bruce Springsteen, Burna Boy, Dermot Kennedy, Post Malone, Tyler The Creator
Song: AJ Tracey - Ladbroke Grove, Calvin Harris and Rag N Bone Man - Giant, Dave feat Burna Boy - Location, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber - I Don't Care, Lewis Capaldi - Someone You Loved, Mabel - Don't Call Me Up, Mark Ronson feat Miley Cyrus - Nothing Breaks Like A Heart, Sam Smith and Normani - Dancing With A Stranger, Stormzy - Vossi Bop, Tom Walker - Just You And I
Album: Dave - Psychodrama, Harry Styles - Fine Line, Lewis Capaldi - Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, Michael Kiwanuka - Kiwanuka, Stormzy - Heavy Is The Head
Wiley is now edging ever closer to an entire Stormzy diss album - or at the very least an EP - having put out his third track laying into the younger rapper on Friday afternoon. Stormzy, meanwhile, was celebrating being number one in the singles and albums charts. Meanwhile, this morning Wiley has dropped another new track, 'Flick In The Air', which doesn't even mention Stormzy once.
St Vincent has remixed Beck's 'Uneventful Days'. "I guess I was listening to a lot of 70s Herbie and War at the time and wondering how much funk was inside me too", she says of the remixing process. "I sent it to Beck and he dug it, but he said 'it should be 3bpm faster'. And what do you know? HE WAS SO RIGHT. It made all the difference in the groove".
Mura Masa has released the video for 'Teenage Headache Dreams', his collaboration with Wolf Alice's Ellie Rowsell.
Megan Thee Stallion and Normani have released new single 'Diamonds'. The track is taken from the soundtrack of upcoming movie 'Birds Of Prey'.
For those still able to listen to his music, Morrissey has released a new single called 'Bobby, Don't You Think They Know?' The song is a collaboration with Motown singer Thelma Houston. His new solo album, 'I Am Not A Dog On A Chain', is set for release on 20 Mar.
Tennis have released new single 'Need Your Love'. Their new album, 'Swimmer', will be out on 14 Feb.
Margate's Social Singing Choir have released a cover of Florence And The Machine's 'Dog Days Are Over'. The track is taken from an EP of choral reworks of tracks from the Moshi Moshi catalogue to celebrate the label's tenth anniversary, due out on 21 Feb. Other artists tackled on the EP include Hot Chip and Friendly Fires.
My Dying Bride have released the video for recent single 'Your Broken Shore'. Their new album, 'The Ghost Of Orion', is out on 6 Mar.
The Lovely Eggs have released new single, 'This Decision'. Their new album 'I Am A Moron' is out on 3 Apr.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Cardi B planning move into politics
"I think I want to be a politician", she tweeted last night. "I really love government even though I don't agree with government".
I'm not sure if, by that, she means she doesn't agree with the policies of the current American government or that she doesn't agree with the process of being governed at all. I guess it's harder to love something you don't think should exist, so let's go with the former.
What of her own policies though? Well, here's her first: "Like, I was watching war documentaries. No matter how many weapons a country [has] you need people! How are you trying to go against a country and possibly start a war when this country lacks patriotism? I barely see people claiming they LOVE being American".
Yeah, OK, it lacks a certain nuance perhaps. But that's fine. She's not yet a politician, so she's free to make claims about a lack of patriotism in a country which, many of those on the outside reckon, tends to border on unfeasibly high levels of patriotism.
Anyway, like I say, she's just starting out, and she recognises that she might need more training - more even than the grounding in politics that you get by watching war documentaries - before she gets into all this properly.
"I do feel like if I go back to school and focus up I can be part of Congress", she tweeted this morning. "I deadass have sooo much ideas that make sense. I just need a couple of years of school and I can shake the table".
Alright, she basically believes she already has all the ideas and that she only needs a minimal education to become completely au fait with the inner workings of government. Still, like I said, better than most celebrities who try to get into politics.