|WEDNESDAY 3 JUNE 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Much of the music industry participated in Black Out Tuesday yesterday, a united stand against racism and prejudice in response to the controversial death in Minneapolis last week of George Floyd and the protests that have since erupted across the US and beyond... [READ MORE]|
Black Out Tuesday was just Act One, campaigners insist
Those events have, of course, reignited anger over police killings of black Americans in particular, and more generally put the spotlight back on the impact racism and prejudice continues to have on black and ethnic minority communities all over the world.
Initially instigated late last week by US music industry execs Jamila Thomas at Atlantic Records and Brianna Agyemang at Platoon, people and companies across the entire global music community quickly embraced the Black Out Tuesday initiative. Even if - because of the speed with which the protest came together - there was some confusion as to what the day aimed to achieve.
In their original call to action, Thomas and Agyemang wrote: "The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry that has profited predominantly from black art. Our mission is to hold the industry at large - including major corporations and their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and success of black people - accountable".
"To that end", they added, "it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the black communities that have made them disproportionally wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent".
As the initiative gained momentum and swung into action, some in the music community expressed concerns. Might the day of protest provide a music industry that has too often talked about but failed to tackle its own diversity issues with an easy opportunity to appear to care, to appear to do something, and to then get away with doing nothing at all?
Would the big brands of music - like the big brands of corporate America - get the kudos of opposing racism and discrimination on their social channels without ever putting the spotlight on their own policies and practices, and considering how they facilitate and benefit from the racism and discrimination they claim to oppose?
Would the music industry's big stand even make much of an impact? The live sector is already in the middle of COVID-caused shutdown, and most of the industry's offices, studios and stores are still closed too. Would anyone actually notice when the whole music community stood down for one full day? Especially as the music itself continued to stream away unhindered on the platforms operated by Apple, Amazon, YouTube and Spotify.
And with the kind of events currently unfolding on the streets of America, was now really the time for the artist community and their business partners to fall silent? Or even worse, as those supporting the initiative posted black squares to their social channels - many including the hashtag #blacklivesmatter - would that actually drown out more important messages being published online by those protesting on the ground?
Posting to Instagram themselves, Thomas and Agyemang stressed that the purpose of Black Out Tuesday was "never to mute ourselves", but rather "to disrupt". And their website had already stated: "This is not a 24 hour initiative. We are and will be in this fight for the long haul. A plan of action will be announced".
To what extent the various concerns raised were legitimate depends very much on what each member of the music community actually did with Black Out Tuesday. Or - perhaps more importantly - what they intend to do with Back In Wednesday.
The one thing nobody in the music industry really has much of is lots of spare or excess time. And when all you can do is glance at a TV screen or social feed while your brain is busy balancing the seven urgent projects you have ongoing this week, there isn't much time to listen, to learn, to process, to plan. Or even notice how the events filling your screen and feed are impacting on your colleagues.
That is why many people suggested that Black Out Tuesday should be used to press pause on all those other projects and to instead spend that time reading and listening to those with first hand experiences of racism and discrimination. To those people who have too often felt the impact and harm of prejudice. And who have been battling the systems that tolerate, allow and enable racism and discrimination for years, if not decades.
And also to ask those people what the music community could and should do - today and tomorrow - to better tackle the industry's own diversity problems first, but also to support those leading the charge to reform the political, justice and social systems that make prejudice, in the US and well beyond, too often the norm.
We know there are projects and initiatives and courtesies and practices that have already begun to tackle discrimination within the industry. How can we ensure that a music community that often feels like it has too little time can nevertheless find the hours that are needed to expand, extend, amplify and elevate each of those things? How can we ensure that the budgets that are required are provided by those who can afford it?
Beyond the music industry itself, what role does the music community have in encouraging and facilitating and demanding wider social change? How can it support and empower the artists, creators, entrepreneurs, activists and heroes in the music community who have a key role to play in making all that happen?
To begin that process, a number of people within the music industry used Black Out Tuesday to go public with their own experiences, and to make both short term and long term demands and requests of their colleagues within the industry.
Among them, industry veteran and former chief of UK Music's diversity taskforce Keith Harris. In an open letter to the "captains of the music industry" he recalled his own experiences of prejudice during a long career in the music business.
His letter concluded: "I would like to remind you all that this awareness of racism in the industry should not last for one day, or one week, or one year. This should last forever. I would like to see other young black people in the industry rise to the positions of authority and seniority that their talent merits. We have had many false dawns in terms of equality in the industry, let's make sure that this is not another one".
Sony/ATV chief Jon Platt also published an open letter. Noting that he is the only black CEO of a global major music company, he wrote: "As a music community, we are anchored at the heart of black culture, and our industry has an unrivalled role and responsibility to help lead society out of crisis and onto the path of true justice and equality".
"Music companies have rushed to pledge solidarity with the black community since the atrocity committed against Mr Floyd", he went on. "But I often remind my team of a fact that might seem odd for a music man to point out: 'People see better than they hear'. Timely action must follow the industry's lyrics. Otherwise, words are ultimately empty".
He added: "We must create a platform that provides each and every colleague the encouragement for true self-expression. For people of colour, this means the comfort to connect, mourn and heal in authentic ways that might be unfamiliar to, or uncomfortable for, some colleagues. But I encourage you to lean into that discomfort".
Radio 1's Clara Amfo also delivered a powerful message at the start of her show for the station yesterday, beginning by explaining why she had not been on air the previous day. "Now as you know at Radio One, we talk a lot about mental health, and mine was in a really bad way yesterday", she stated. "In fact, it has been for the past few days in particular in relation to the death of George Floyd".
"I didn't have the mental strength to face you guys yesterday", she added. "To ask, 'hi, how was your weekend?' like I usually do with my happy intention, because I know that my weekend was terrible. I was sat on my sofa crying, angry, confused, and also knowing, stuck at the news of yet another brutalised black body, knowing how the world enjoys blackness and seeing what happened to George, we black people get the feeling that people want our culture but they do not want us. In other words, you want my talent but you don't want me".
"There is a false idea that racism, and in this case anti-blackness, is just name-calling and physical violence when it's so much more insidious than that. One of my favourite thinkers is a woman called Amanda Seales and I feel it deeply when she says this: 'You cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues'. And I say that with my chest".
After highlighting special shows appearing on Radio 1 and 1Xtra yesterday as part of Black Out Tuesday, Amfo concluded: "I want to say to our black listeners that I hope you feel seen and heard today. And to those of you that have already let me know that you are doing the work to be committed to doing better - I see you, so let's do this. Let's all be anti-racist".
Meanwhile, back where Black Out Tuesday began, Thomas and Agyemang wrote: "To our black friends and family: please take the time for you and your mental health. To our allies, the time is now to have difficult conversations with family, friends and colleagues".
Then, last night, keen to ensure that 11.59pm on 2 Jun 2020 was the start rather than the end of the music industry's united stand, they posted on Instagram: "You just witnessed Act One".
Judge upholds much of the record industry's billion dollar win in Cox case, but orders recalculation of damages
Cox is one of a number of American ISPs sued for copyright infringement by the record industry on the basis they did not fulfil their obligations under law to get safe harbour protection from liability for the infringing activities of their customers. BMG set the precedent in this domain when it sued Cox. On the back of that the majors sued Cox, Grande, Charter and RCN, with most of those cases ongoing.
The majors won their lawsuit against Cox last year securing the mega-damages of $1 billion, which equated to statutory damages of $99,830.29 for each of the 10,017 songs and recordings infringed by the ISP's customers that were specifically listed in the major record companies' lawsuit.
Cox unsurprisingly appealed the judgement. In a February legal filing it raised various grievances with the judgement and how the jury reached it, while also calling the billion dollar damages bill "shockingly excessive and unlawfully punitive" and "wholly divorced from any possible injury to plaintiffs, any benefit to Cox, or any conceivable deterrent purpose".
The ISP called on the judge who oversaw last year's case, Liam O'Grady, to amend - as a matter of law - the jury's conclusion, or to slash the damages bills through a process called 'remittitur', or to order a retrial.
In a ruling yesterday, O'Grady rejected both the motions for remittitur and for a retrial. He also rejected many of the arguments Cox had presented as to why the jury ruling should be amended, although he did agree that some new maths should be done regarding damages.
That mainly relates to the question as to whether the song and recording copyrights in each infringed track should be counted separately for the purposes of statutory damages, where the plaintiffs are awarded a set sum per infringement.
And also whether, when an infringed work is actually an adaptation and therefore a derivation of an earlier work, are both the adaptation and the original separately infringed?
Plaintiffs have 60 days to justify to the court how many separate infringements they think they should receive damages for, taking into account O'Grady's discussions on how such calculations should be done in yesterday's ruling.
While the labels do that, Cox will no doubt start pursuing other routes of appeal.
Yeasayer's song-theft lawsuit against Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd dismissed
The band sued Lamar and The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, back in February over the duo's 2018 collaboration 'Pray For Me'. The band claimed that Lamar and Tesfaye had sampled without permission a choral performance that appears on their 2007 track 'Sunrise'.
The original lawsuit also alleged that Tesfaye and the producers who worked on his record messed around with the 'Sunrise' sample in an attempt to conceal the fact they'd used a snippet of the track without permission.
Lawyers for Lamar and Tesfaye hit back at those allegations, insisting that 'Pray For Me' was "created independently from and without knowledge of the allegedly infringed work".
It's not clear what has gone on behind the scenes since then, but in a new legal filing on Monday the two parties stated: "Plaintiffs Yeasayer LLC and We Are Free LLC having confirmed to their satisfaction that no copyright infringement occurred, plaintiffs and defendants Abel Tesfaye, Adam Feeney and UMG Recordings, through their respective attorneys of record, stipulate to the dismissal of this action in its entirety as to all defendants".
Both sides also said that they would cover their respective legal costs.
Aled Haydn Jones named new head of Radio 1
"I'm so proud to be taking the helm of the best youth music station anywhere in the world", he says. "Radio 1 is all about the best new music, the most amazing DJs, and entertaining our young audience, and we have dedicated teams working hard to deliver exactly that. We know Radio 1 will never stand still, and we're going to listen to our audience and give them what they want, how they want it".
The BBC's pop music controller Lorna Clarke adds: "Aled has some exciting and ambitious new directions for Radio 1, and we are looking forward to a fresh approach for the station. As the number one network for young audiences across the country, we want to take some risks and really push ourselves to do more across all platforms".
Last month Helen Thomas had been named the new head of Radio 2. This all follows Clarke's big plan to appoint a similar overseer for each of the BBC's music stations, rather than the inconsistent system of management that had grown up across the radio network previously.
New heads of Radio 1Xtra, 6 Music and Asian Network are still to be announced.
6ix9ine's Gooba briefly removed from YouTube due to copyright claim
Enga initially announced that he had logged a takedown notice with YouTube against 'Gooba' in an Instagram post, writing: "Don't sample my beats. [6ix9ine's] biggest song delete[d] by Magix Enga".
The producer went on to say that 6ix9ine had used, without permission, samples he had posted on his website several years ago. However, he later said that he had now forgiven 6ix9ine and therefore retracted his takedown notice. He subsequently added that he'd received money from 6ix9ine, which he planned to donate to people in need.
After 'Gooba' reappeared on YouTube, Enga wrote on Instagram: "Y'all need to know that he did not sample my beats, he used just one of my sample kits. I have my own sample kits and I uploaded them six years ago. Only producers can understand this. So YouTube had to take that song down, and because I don't want to fight I decided to put that song back on YouTube after receiving some cash and I want to give that money to those who can't afford a meal today".
6ix9ine has not made a public statement about any of this. He has announced that he's started work on a new album though, so he's probably busy with that.
YouTube reinstates Man On Man video, after claiming it breached "sex and nudity policy"
The video for the song 'Daddy' shows the two men wearing white underwear. It was removed by YouTube shortly after being uploaded last week, on the grounds that it had violated the company's "sex and nudity policy".
However, in a statement to Rolling Stone earlier this week, the Google-owned platform said that the video had been taken down in error, adding: "With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it's brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it. We also offer uploaders the ability to appeal removals and we will re-review the content".
Also speaking to Rolling Stone, Bottum and Homan said: "It's clear tech companies are lacking in representation and therefore discriminate against skin colour, age, sex and sexuality. Even if YouTube does value and promote diversity [as it claims], the truth is, the industry is still playing by straight men's rules".
"It's devaluing when we see Google monopolise on our Pride but do so little to actually enhance and protect the LGBTQIA+ digital experience", they added. "We're asking for an equitable playing field".
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Bandcamp has anounced a new annual event on 19 Jun, which will see it donate 100% of profits that day to the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People. The date is the anniversary of the emancipation of the last African American slaves in the US in 1865.
YG has released new track 'FTP' - an acronym for 'fuck the police' - amid ongoing protests following the murder of George Floyd.
Tones & I has released new single 'Ur So Fucking Cool'. "I wrote this song after I went to a party and everyone there thought they were the coolest thing ever and I just thought 'this is shit, I'm leaving'", she says.
K-Trap has released new single 'Private Snap'.
Devin Townsend has released an album of guitar improvisations, offering it up as "background music that hopefully is calming amidst this chaotic period".
Maddox Jones has released new single 'Headspace', the title track from his debut solo EP, which is out next month. "It's a song that kept me company in the dead of night when I was used to sleeping next to somebody and found myself alone", he says. "It can force you to take a proper look at yourself when you only have yourself for company. I wonder if maybe lots of people might be feeling a bit like this right now if they're isolating alone in this pandemic".
Scandal have released new single 'Living In The City', complete with a video shot remotely by the band's members in their homes. "I never once thought when I wrote this song that I would be releasing it in times like these", says bassist Tomomi. "But now we have all been staying home, I feel like people can listen to it through a completely new lens".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
BBC launches comprehensive programme search tool
It makes BBC TV and radio shows all accessible in one place for the first time since the broadcaster pulled radio programming out of the main iPlayer app in 2012.
However, the new service also provides the option to search via keywords and filters - including searching for items available worldwide or in the UK only - making it easier to find programmes on specific topics across the BBC's broadcast output. So, for example, you could find every appearance or mention of Ed Sheeran ever. Or any time anyone has talked about slippers.
"Programme Explorer is a real treasure trove for anyone with a niche passion about virtually anything, and an invaluable informal learning tool", says Executive Editor of the BBC Archive Peter Rippon. "There are over 200,000 programmes available for people to watch or listen, and until now it's been difficult to find exactly what you're looking for".
Or what you're not looking for, maybe. "This tool also makes it easy to find things you didn't know you were looking for", he adds, "sending you down a rabbit hole, following your curiosity through a wide range of brilliant BBC programmes from across the archive".
Explore the Programme Explorer here. See how long you can go before you just start tapping in swear words (there are no results for 'cunt', but 'bollocks' brings up Mark Zuckerberg's testimony to the joint US Senate committee).