WEDNESDAY 10 JUNE 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Following last week's Black Out Tuesday initiative, a new organisation has been formed in the UK seeking to ensure that this time round the commitments made by people and companies in the music industry to address prejudice, discrimination and racism - within the industry and beyond - are actually met. To kick things off it has organised an open letter, signed by 32 people working across the industry, setting out five key priorities... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Black Music Coalition sets out five priorities to tackle discrimination in the UK music industry
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LEGAL Musicians' Union boss calls for more financial support and a streaming rethink to help music-makers get through COVID-19
Travis Scott latest artist targeted by song-theft lawsuit
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INDUSTRY PEOPLE Help Musicians calls for donations after huge demand for latest COVID-19 support scheme
AIM evolves and extends its COVID-19 support programme
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RELEASES Contemporary musicians take on Blue Note classics for new album project
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ONE LINERS Apple Music, Bill & Ted, Gorillaz, more
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AND FINALLY... Avicii museum to open in Stockholm
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Black Music Coalition sets out five priorities to tackle discrimination in the UK music industry
Following last week's Black Out Tuesday initiative, a new organisation has been formed in the UK seeking to ensure that this time round the commitments made by people and companies in the music industry to address prejudice, discrimination and racism - within the industry and beyond - are actually met. To kick things off it has organised an open letter, signed by 32 people working across the industry, setting out five key priorities.

The global music industry quickly rallied to last week's Black Out Tuesday initiative after it was first proposed by American music industry execs Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that were staged all over the world in response to the controversial death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

On the day itself, numerous music companies paused their activities for 24 hours so that employees could take time to consider discrimination in their industry and communities, and learn about, consider and discuss how they could help tackle that discrimination. Most of those companies also made public statements supporting the Black Lives Matter protests and pledging to do more to bring about change within their our businesses and the world at large.

Many expressed concerns that the day could end up being a somewhat token gesture, with lots of vague commitments being made that were then not acted upon. Others called on the big corporates of the industry to also make significant financial commitments to support social change.

All three major record companies have now pledged money for the cause, and although those commitments have been led by their respective US-based head offices, it was implied that some of that money would be spent on projects to combat prejudice elsewhere in the world.

At the end of Black Out Tuesday itself, Thomas and Agyemang declared on the social media they had set up for the initiative that "you just witnessed Act One". The new Black Music Coalition has been formed to ensure that is the case in the UK as well as the US.

The new open letter addresses the "Chairmen, CEOs, presidents and leaders" of the UK music industry, and is signed by execs working at all three majors, a number of independents, and in the live sector and artist management. Among other things, it states: "Your public statements of support throughout the recent times were impassioned and we appreciated them, but we now want to drive forward tangible changes, giving power to that show of support".

The letter begins by summarising recent events in the US, including the death of Floyd while being arrested by American police officers. "As the black community mourned, many of us working in this and other industries tried to adopt our usual coping mechanism of suppressing our trauma caused from witnessing the disregard for black life", it says, "but this time was different, we found and find ourselves unable to do so".

It goes on: "For far too long, the global black community have faced racial injustice, inequality and disenfranchisement across all aspects of society, and here in the UK is no different. As black British people, we know of and have seen members of our community over-policed, brutally treated and die at the hands of institutionally racist police forces and recount for example the deaths of Sarah Reed, Rashan Charles, Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg and many more. Simply put, the UK is not innocent".

The letter subsequently turns its attention to the music industry in particular, stating: "The music industry has long profited from the rich and varied culture of black people for many generations but, overall, we feel it has failed to acknowledge the structural and systematic racism affecting the very same black community and so [is], effectively, enjoying the rhythm and ignoring the blues".

"We feel that as an industry, we cannot continue to benefit and profit, whilst continuing to ignore the issues of the community we benefit and profit so much from, issues which affect far too many of our artists in one way or another".

Noting how last week's Black Out Tuesday initiative brought many black people working in the music industry together, the letter reveals: "Coming together and talking about the events outlined herein and our shared experiences caused us to relive the many instances of injustice, racist comments and marginalisation across our lives including in our experiences within this industry".

"It is a widely shared belief that the music industry has long been a microcosm for these injustices and they continue to play out within the companies you lead, companies which we are a part of. As a result of the passionate and thought-provoking conversations over the last week; the consensus is clear – the time for change is NOW".

The letter then sets out five key priorities:

  1. Mandatory anti-racism/unconscious bias training across each respective company for all non-black members of staff, led by black educators in the field, and complimentary counselling and holistic services made available for black members of staff with immediate effect.
  2. For each company to commit a specified annual budget to financially support black organisations, educational projects and charities across the UK, eg The Black Curriculum.
  3. Career development implemented for black staff across all business areas, including long standing consultants, in order to develop the next generation of leaders, [and] to address, challenge and change the lack of black staff at senior management level and [the fact there are] no black female presidents/chairwomen across the industry.
  4. Following statements from major labels and management companies, the term 'urban music' is to be removed from your company verbiage and replaced with 'black music'.
  5. Establish a dedicated internal taskforce to review, and with the remit to drive and challenge, both the equality and diversity aims within your business structure, and the advancement of black executives across your business, including equal pay, mentorship and career progression.

The letter concludes: "We expect that these long overdue steps will be implemented in a comprehensive manner to translate your empathy into a legacy of lasting change and we look forward to working with you to ensure that this happens".

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Musicians' Union boss calls for more financial support and a streaming rethink to help music-makers get through COVID-19
The UK Parliament's Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee yesterday held a virtual meeting to gather evidence about the affect of the COVID-19 shutdown on the creative industries. Speaking for the music industry was General Secretary of the Musicians' Union, Horace Trubridge.

Understandably, Trubridge's evidence primarily focussed on the financial difficulties being faced by musicians. He began by presenting the results of the MU's recent impact survey, explaining that musicians have been hit particularly hard by the shutdown because key income streams - live in particular - were immediately cut off. As a result, he noted, more than 20% of musicians are expecting to have to leave music for a new career as a result of the financial losses they are currently facing, particularly while there is no clear indication of when live music will become viable again.

Asked by Labour MP Kevin Brennan how government support schemes were helping musicians affected by the shutdown, Trubridge explained that as many as 40% did not quality for any sort of financial aid from the government. That's a point that has been pushed by various music industry organisations as the COVID-19 crisis has continued, but has so far not been addressed.

Calling on government to address these gaps, he said: "Music is worth £5.2 billion to the UK economy and the Chancellor needs to bear that in mind. Our industry is the envy of the world, but we won't retain it unless we invest in it during this difficult time. Our sector must have further financial support from the government if it is to survive in any shape or form".

He added that music is not just a source of income for musicians, but has a wider impact on society too, saying: "Our wonderful orchestras do masses of outreach. They are in care homes, schools, prisons, they are in hospitals helping patients. All of that stuff has stopped. That's a great loss to society, not just to the music world".

One suggestion to deal with the current crisis was that the government launch a specific cultural fund, similar to that already implemented in Germany.

In a somewhat loaded question, Brennan also asked why musicians couldn't just rely on income from their recordings while the live sector is out of action. The MU has joined with the Ivors Academy and others, of course, in arguing that the COVID-19 shutdown has exposed inequities in how monies generated by streaming are shared out between artists, songwriters, labels and publishers.

Expanding on that theme, Trubridge said: "At a time when record labels are making record profits it cannot be right that established musicians are left to rely on hardship funds. There needs to be a full review into the streaming model to see where the money is going, because it is not going to the musicians' pockets".

Assuming that any such investigation on streaming monies will not happen quickly, Trubridge also spoke about how live music could return safely as soon as possible. He called for an investigation into whether two metre social distancing was necessary in every situation, and whether it might be possible to reduce it to one metre - as suggested by the World Health Organisation - and still be safe.

It remains to be seen if yesterday's discussions in Parliament have any tangible impact on the decisions made by ministers in government.

Meanwhile, as an aside, MPs involved in select committees are obliged to declare any connections they have to the witnesses that have been called to give evidence. In one of the more unusual of these declarations, Brennan was forced to confirm that Trubridge had played saxophone on a recording by Parliament's own rock band MP4, which is fronted by the MP.

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Travis Scott latest artist targeted by song-theft lawsuit
A trio of producers have sued Travis Scott accusing him of ripping off their guitar melody on his 2019 hit 'Highest In The Room'. They say that melody comes from a song they wrote and which they shared with some of the producers who collaborated on Scott's track.

The plaintiffs in the case are Olivier Bassil, Benjamin Lasnier and Lukas Benjamin Leth and the song they say Scott ripped off is called 'Cartier'. They claim that, after creating their song last year, they posted it on a public discussion group for producers, and also emailed it directly to more than a hundred people in the music community "in the hope that they would like what they heard and license it with the anticipation of future collaborations".

The people emailed included Oz - aka Ozan Yildirim - and Nik D - aka Nik Dejan Frascona - both of whom worked on Scott's record. Meanwhile, it's alleged that Lasnier actually corresponded with another Scott collaborator, Cash Passion aka Jamie Lepr, in a bid to try to persuade him to license some of his beats.

Those communications, it's alleged, meant Scott and his team had access to 'Cartier' before creating 'Highest In The Room'. And, the plaintiffs say, "there is no doubt that defendants' 'Highest In The Room' was modelled after and copied original, prominent and qualitatively and quantitatively important parts of plaintiffs' 'Cartier'".

With that in mind, the lawsuit - which names Scott, his collaborators and their associated labels and publishers as defendants - would like the court to award them some lovely damages and a slice of the copyright in and income generated by 'Highest In The Room', which the plaintiffs reckon has already netted more than $20 million.

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Help Musicians calls for donations after huge demand for latest COVID-19 support scheme
Music charity Help Musicians has put out a call for new donations, after its second programme providing financial support for musicians affected by the COVID-19 shutdown has come close to running out of funds within days of being launched. Applications for the £2.55 million fund opened on Friday and the charity had received over 3500 applications by Monday morning.

Help Musicians launched an initial £5 million fund in March, offering £500 grants to musicians in need, which was exhausted within four weeks - despite donations from other music companies and organisations pushing the total amount available up to more than £8 million.

The second phase of COVID-19 support was announced in May, with a smaller pool of cash and tighter restrictions on who could apply for it. That had a capacity to help 3400 musicians. Which means if the vast majority of the 3500 who have already applied meet eligibility criteria, there will already be a shortfall in funds.

"Whilst lockdown restrictions are slowly starting to lift, musicians will continue to be among some of the hardest hit by COVID-19 in the months to come", says Help Musicians CEO James Ainscough.

"Live music will surely be one of the last sectors to start operating as normal and so many musicians just don't know how they will survive. And as the country sees more and more redundancies, there are fewer opportunities for musicians to take temporary jobs to make ends meet. We therefore decided that urgent action was needed to offer extra financial help - too many musicians are simply falling through the gaps of the support available".

"This is why continued support is more vital than ever", he goes on. "As such, we are asking individuals, corporate organisations and other bodies to donate, no matter how large or small, so that we can continue to help as many musicians as possible and ease the pressure until they can get back to work".

This second phase is targeted at self-employed musicians who do not qualify for the UK government's Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – which is possibly as many as 25% of all self-employed musicians – and other unemployed music-makers who are experiencing significant financial hardship.

For more information on how to donate to the fund, go here.

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AIM evolves and extends its COVID-19 support programme
The Association Of Independent Music has announced that it is opening its COVID-19 Crisis Fund to further applications and will provide financial support for lost income in June and July, as well earlier months when the pandemic was impacting on the music industry.

AIM launched its crisis fund in April seeking to support contractors and freelancers in the independent music community who had lost income as result of the COVID-19 shutdown. Since then nearly 200 beneficiaries have received financial support, including tour managers, live crew, sound engineers, producers, agents, managers, promoters and publicists.

The AIM fund specifically sought to support freelancers in the industry because many of those people have fallen through the cracks of the government's COVID-19 support schemes. While there is a government programme for freelancers, it only applies to those formally registered as sole traders with tax authorities.

The trade body says that, thanks to the generosity of the music companies and organisations that have put money into its scheme, it "is able to evolve the fund and extend the period of lost work covered into June/July, in addition to the initial period of April/May. Applicants can now receive up to £1000 for each two month period. Receiving aid for one time period does not preclude beneficiaries from applying again for the other".

Among those to have put money into the fund are Beggars Group, Believe, Cherry Red Records, Elephant Music, EmuBands, Ninja Tune, PPL, Specific Music and SRVL.

Confirming the extension of the support initiative, AIM CEO Paul Pacifico said: "Due to the generous support of our donors, we are now able to extend support from the Crisis Fund to cover a greater time period, which could prove crucial for many of our members and the emerging artists and freelance workers on their teams as the pandemic evolves".

He added: "Hardship takes many different forms. We want to make sure that we're supporting our community to keep them healthy and safe through this trying time".

Details of who is eligible for support from the fund and how to apply are available here.

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CMU Trends: Brand Partnerships
The latest CMU Trends ten step guide puts the spotlight on all things brand partnerships, and the specifics and complexities of how things work when brands collaborate with artists and the music industry.

It considers the different things that a brand might be looking for out of the music partnerships it pursues, and explains how that will impact on who the brand has to work and what deals need to be done.

With brands not keen on having to navigate the complexities of the music industry and music rights, that provides an opportunity for standalone brand partnership agencies that can sit in the middle and sort everything out.

Although, even when an independent agency is involved, if the brand is looking to reach the fanbase of a specific artist, then that artist's management team have a crucial role to play in pulling everything together.

The guide talks through all this in ten easy steps. Premium CMU subscribers can access and download this guide - and loads of other guides too - via the CMU Library. Click here to read the guide and click here to go premium with CMU for just £5 a month.

Contemporary musicians take on Blue Note classics for new album project
The Universal-owned Decca and Blue Note labels have announced a collaboration, pairing current stars of the jazz, soul and R&B scenes in the UK with classic Blue Note released tracks. Among those set to appear on upcoming album 'Blue Note Re:imagined' are Jorja Smith, Ezra Collective, Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia.

Says Blue Note President Don Was: "The music of Blue Note Records owes its enduring relevance to the fact that, throughout its 81 year history, the artists on the label consistently pushed the envelope of contemporary music. 'Blue Note Re:imagined' continues that tradition by viewing the label's legacy through the lens of the UK scene's most inventive young artists".

Decca Head Of A&R Rachel Holmberg adds: "'Blue Note Re:imagined' celebrates some of this iconic label's finest jazz recordings, through the eyes of some of today's finest jazz artists. Many of the artists involved have grown up listening to the legendary Blue Note catalogue and for many it inspired them to get into music in the first place".

"For Ezra Collective", she goes on, "who have reimagined Wayne Shorter's 'Footprints', this was the first jazz track the band ever learnt to play together, which makes this record all the more important to share with the world".

The album will be out on 25 Sep. First single - Jorja Smith's version of 'Rose Rouge' - is out now.

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APPOINTMENTS

Ryan Newman has been appointed Apple Music's new Head Of Editorial for the UK & Ireland. The previous holder of the role, Austin Daboh, was announced as Atlantic Records UK's new EVP yesterday. "Massive congratulations to Ryan Newman", tweeted Daboh. "Another black brother given a leading position at a global company".

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ARTIST NEWS

Keep your eyes peeled during the first trailer for the upcoming new 'Bill & Ted' movie and you might spot Arcade Fire's Win Butler. The musician confirmed on social media that he plays a member of The Future Council in the film.

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RELEASES

Gorillaz have released the fourth of their 'Song Machine' tracks. This one, 'Friday 13th', is a collaboration with Octavian.

Torres has released an offcut from her recent 'Silver Tongue' album, titled 'Too Big For The Glory Hole'. "I wrote it before I moved in with my girlfriend", she says. "I was living alone in the East Village before and having a hard time of it. This song is what came of the loneliness".

Ane Brun has released new single 'Honey', inspired by a cassette recording of her eighteen year old self talking. "While listening back, I realised that the woman I am today had reconnected with the girl on the tape, and that simple act had made me feel in some way more whole", she says. "I decided to write a love song to my young self that day".

Vessel has released a re-work of 2018 track 'Red Sex', featuring Rakhi Singhi. "Ever since I began working with Rakhi we had talked about how fun it would be to do a version of 'Red Sex' with strings", says Vessel. "The woozy melody seemed to be asking for it. Trapped as we are in a flat in the heat of a London lockdown, preparing to release a load of new original collaborations in the near future and working hard on our new solo records, it seemed like the time to do it".

Park Hye Jin has released the title track of her upcoming EP, 'How Can I'. The EP is out on 26 Jun.

Pozi have released new single 'The Nightmare'. The track is taken from new EP, '176', out 3 Jul through PRAH Recordings.

The Dalai Lama has announced an album of teachings and mantras set to music, to mark his 85th birthday on 6 Jul. "Music has the potential to reach many more people with the message that the real source of happiness is warm-heartedness and a concern for others", he says. Listen to 'Compassion' from the album here.

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

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Avicii museum to open in Stockholm
The Tim Bergling Foundation has announced plans to open a museum in tribute to the late producer - better known as Avicii. The interactive Avicii Experience is set to open in his home city of Stockholm next year.

Announcing the project, the charity set up in Bergling's name by his family said that the museum will be "an immersive interactive exhibition" that will "follow Tim's journey from a reclusive music nerd to a celebrated superstar, from his boyhood room where it all started to the Los Angeles studio where the biggest hits were created".

On display will be various pieces of memorabilia, as well as photos, videos and music - including a number of previously unreleased tracks.

"Avicii left behind a legacy of transforming modern dance music and pioneering a revolution of the EDM scene that spread across multiple genres, leading him to become one of the most influential producers, performers and songwriters of our time," says Per Sundin, CEO of Pophouse Entertainment Group, the company that will run the Avicii Experience, and which also set up a similar Abba museum.

The new exhibition will be housed in Space - a "digital culture centre" developed by Pophouse, which focuses on gaming and content creation as well as music. A portion of the revenues from the Avicii Experience will be donated to the Tim Bergling Foundation, and the charity will seemingly be involved in the wider Space project too, as part of its mental health outreach remit.

In a statement, Bergling's father Klas says: "At Space we will carry out activities focusing on youth, with the aim to have an open and inclusive dialogue in regards to mental health".

Find out more about the Avicii Experience here.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights and CMU Pathways consultancy units and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU InsightsCMU Pathways and CMU:DIY.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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