|FRIDAY 10 JULY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Outdoor live entertainment will be allowed to return in England from tomorrow, the government has announced. In the latest relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown rules, music, theatre and other cultural delights will be allowed to resume in the open air, albeit with some social distancing rules still in place... [READ MORE]|
Government gives the go ahead for open-air live shows to resume in England this weekend
There isn't currently any firm timeline for when indoor live entertainment can return, the risks of COVID-19 spreading being much higher indoors. Though the government also stated that it is working with a number of cultural industry organisations to identify some pilot projects to test the logistical challenges of staging socially distanced performances within indoor venues.
Guidance issued for the open-air events that will now be allowed to go ahead says that promoters should: reduce event capacities so that the social distancing of the audience is possible; sell all tickets online and - if possible - use mobile ticketing, making track and trace easier should a COVID-19 spike occur at an event; and ensure the customary floor markings are in place to help audience members keep their distance.
As for what happens on stage, "performers, conductors and musicians must observe social distancing wherever possible", and "singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments in groups or in front of an audience is limited to professionals only".
The latter relates to a specific issue with getting live performance back up and running while the COVID-19 pandemic continues - which is the increased risk of the virus spreading if it's a performer who is infected, thanks to all the spit they emit when projecting their voices or blowing into their instruments. The assumption in the government's latest guidance seems to be that professional performers can be trusted to emit their spit in a more responsible way.
Interestingly, the government is also commissioning some specific research on this issue. That study will consider "the risks associated with singing and brass instruments" in the context of COVID, with Public Health England, the BBC, the Royal Opera House and scientists from Imperial College London and Bristol University all involved. "This will help inform our work on getting the performing arts fully back up and running safely, by testing what can be done safely", the government has declared.
Announcing all this, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "From [Saturday] we can all enjoy performances outdoors with social distancing, and we are working hard to get indoor audiences back as soon as we safely can, following pilots. Our scientific research project will also help speed up this journey. Combined with our £1.57 billion rescue package, this is a comprehensive plan to help our brilliant arts organisations weather the COVID storm and bounce back stronger".
Alongside all that, the government has also reconfirmed that an upcoming relaxation of planning laws in England - part of Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson's strategy to tackle the COVID-caused economic slump by getting lots of buildings built - will not result in cultural venues losing their protection.
The Music Venue Trust had expressed concern that moves to make it easier for builders and property developers to demolish buildings and convert city centre properties into flats could result in venues being evicted or put at risk because of future noise complaints by new residential neighbours. Changes to planning rules in recent years have helped stop that happening, and MVT wanted reassurance that Johnson's 'build, build, build' strategy wouldn't see those changes reversed.
After culture minister Caroline Dinenage told Parliament earlier this week that venues would still be protected despite planning rule changes, the government's Housing & Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said yesterday: "The UK has a leading cultural industry that is the envy of the world. Our theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues are one of the reasons that the country has this reputation and they are essential to our national culture".
"That's why we are protecting them for the enjoyment of future generations", he went on. "Alongside the £1.57 billion investment to protect Britain's cultural, arts and heritage institutions, I am ensuring the buildings that represent these institutions can't be destroyed and are properly protected in the planning system".
It's been a busy week for culture-specific COVID-19 announcements from the UK government, starting with that £1.57 billion of specific funding for COVID-hit cultural businesses, then a VAT cut on tickets, and now the announcement that open-air live performances can resume.
That said, music industry organisations still have a number of concerns. In particular that certain strands of the music industry could be excluded from the £1.57 billion funding programme, especially those strands that don't usually benefit from or even seek government grants.
There are also concerns that the government's general COVID support schemes will wind down before many in the music and creative industries are actually back in operation. Plus, of course, there remain all the freelancers who have fallen through the gaps of the government's COVID schemes and have so far received no support at all.
Whether any of those concerns will be addressed in the next week remains to be seen.
YouTube doesn't have to hand over email and IP addresses of infringers, says EU court
This ruling comes as part of a long-running dispute in the German courts involving movie firm Constantin Film and YouTube owner Google.
While most copyright owners simply issue takedowns against YouTube itself when users upload infringing content – usually via the video site's Content ID system – there is nothing to stop said copyright owners also seeking to sue the users directly for copyright infringement. Which is what Constantin Film considered doing after movies it controlled the German rights to were posted onto YouTube.
The challenge with that approach, though, is knowing who to sue. It's generally agreed that courts in Europe have the power to tell YouTube to hand over contact information relating to infringing users, but the debate in the Constantin Film case was what information precisely. The relevant European Union directive just says "names and addresses". But what kind of addresses?
The German courts bounced the matter up to the EU courts to get clarity on that point. Earlier this year one of the EU court's advocate generals, Saugmandsgaard Øe, published an opinion on that query, concluding that the use of the word 'addresses' in that particular directive only meant a postal address, not anything like an email or IP address.
That was on the basis that, in the absence of specific instructions to do so otherwise, directives should always be interpreted using 'everyday language' definitions of any words. Judges in the EU court have now backed that conclusion.
In a summary of its judgement, the court said: "Where a film is uploaded onto an online video platform without the copyright holder's consent, [the 2004 intellectual property directive] does not oblige the judicial authorities to order the operator of the video platform to provide the email address, IP address or telephone number of the user who uploaded the film concerned".
It went on: "The directive, which provides for disclosure of the 'addresses' of persons who have infringed an intellectual property right, covers only the postal address".
However, it added, while European law doesn't oblige courts in the EU to force websites like YouTube to pass on anything more than a name and postal address to a copyright owner, at the same time it doesn't stop them from doing that if they want to.
The EU court concluded: "Member states have the option to grant holders of intellectual property rights the right to receive fuller information, provided, however, that a fair balance is struck between the various fundamental rights involved and compliance with the other general principles of EU law, such as the principle of proportionality".
So the whole thing will now return to the German courts, where judges will have to decide whether - under German law - YouTube can be ordered to hand over more than just a postal address to Constantin Film.
R Kelly prosecutors request jurors be kept anonymous in New York trial
The request has been made partly in a bid to limit the influence of media reporting on their final decision, but also due to fears that Kelly associates might attempt to tamper with the jury.
Kelly's attorney Steve Greenberg has said he supports the jury being shielded from outside influences - although he said he feared the influence of feminists rather than the media - but he dubbed claims that Kelly might threaten or bribe jury members as "ludicrous".
Despite Greenberg's response over the jury tampering concern, one of the reasons Kelly has been held in custody pending trial - and has had repeated requests to await trial under house arrest denied - is evidence of witness tampering during his previous trial on child abuse charges in 2008.
If the new motion is granted in full, where jurors live and work would be kept secret. They would also eat lunch away from the public, and be escorted in and out of the court by US Marshalls.
"We don't want them, when they enter and leave the building, when they go to lunch or walk outside for fresh air, to be exposed to the influences of the #MeToo movement", Greenberg told CNN, when agreeing with part of the prosecution's proposal.
However, he went on: "The idea that R Kelly is going to do anything while his case is pending to intimidate jurors or threaten jurors like some 1950s mobster is ludicrous".
He also disagreed with keeping all details about jurors private, saying: "I've done cases with anonymous juries. But we, as his lawyers, should certainly know where the jurors are from, what they do for a living. The idea of jury selection is that you have some idea of whom you're selecting".
Kelly's New York trial is set to begin in September, although due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it is not clear if that date is still feasible. Greenberg has repeatedly claimed that it is currently impossible to prepare for the trial, due to COVID restrictions placed on the prison where Kelly is being held.
Furloughed Live Nation exec sues over allegations of discrimination
The lawsuit, filed by Candace Newman with the LA County Superior Court, runs through various grievances from her decade-plus stint working for Live Nation. The case at large, the lawsuit states, "epitomises the issue at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement - systemic racism".
Newman says that she was consistently "scrutinised and criticised far more harshly" than her male and non-black peers, resulting in what she considers to be unfair and unwarranted formal warnings from her immediate managers.
She adds that she submitted a formal complaint of her own in February this year, but was then put on leave the following month as the COVID-19 shutdown began, subsequently being formally furloughed. She was also told an investigation had been launched, but into complaints made against her, rather than her complaints against the company.
Elsewhere in the legal filing, Newman says that in 2015 she created a 'resource group' for women working at Live Nation which attracted more than 300 employees, but that she was then instructed to dismantle it because only VP level staff were allowed to pursue such initiatives. But that policy failed to acknowledge, the lawsuit says, "the lack of representation of employees of colour in those positions".
Newman's legal filing is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and a court order against discriminatory and retaliatory practices.
Live Nation itself has already responded to the litigation, telling Variety that "we were surprised by Ms Newman's claim of wrongful termination, as she is still an employee at Live Nation". Of course Live Nation, like most companies in the live sector, has put a portion of its workforce on leave or furlough as the COVID-19 crisis has run its course. Although Newman's claim is that she was specifically put on leave because of the complaints she had made shortly before shutdown began.
As for Newman's various allegations of discrimination, Live Nation's rep said that, while the company "cannot comment on specifics of the lawsuit while in active litigation", it would nevertheless "like to be clear that any allegations of bias and discrimination in Ms Newman's claims are completely unfounded. Live Nation is fully committed to being an anti-racist and equitable organisation and we continuously strive to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable and empowered".
Fleetwood Mac and Noel Gallagher top best-selling vinyl charts for 2020 so far
Classic albums from Fleetwood Mac, Amy Winehouse and Nirvana dominate the top end of that chart. The biggest selling new release is the still fresh out 'Chromatica' by Lady Gaga. That particular LP has shifted 11,200 copies - enough to give one to every woman over the age of 90 in Kent. You know, just to put it in perspective.
Over in the vinyl singles chart, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds are at number one with 'Blue Moon Rising'. He beat's Blur's 'Girls & Boys', which sits at number five. So maybe that finally answers the Blur v Oasis argument. Glad we can put that one to bed.
I've put the top tens below for you, but you can see the full top 40 charts here.
Best-selling vinyl albums of 2020 so far:
Best-selling vinyl singles of 2020 so far:
Galya Bisengalieva announces debut album inspired by Aral Sea environmental disaster
The album is inspired by the Aral Sea in Central Asia. That was once the fourth largest lake in the world but is now all but gone, after the rivers that fed it were diverted for Soviet irrigation projects in the 1960s - a move dubbed "one of the planet's worst environmental disasters".
The themes of the album are laid out in its first single 'Barsa-Kelmes' and the accompanying video.
"It was important to me that this [video] was made by somebody, who, like myself, grew up with the story of this disaster, as well as visiting the area and experiencing the devastation first hand", says Bisengalieva. "I felt that making a music video was important to convey the horror of the Aral disaster, as it's not well documented in the West".
That person turned out to be director Damir Otegen, who is based in Bisengalieva's hometown of Almaty, Kazakhstan. "This story is about a being who lost everything in life and makes a desperate attempt to return everything to its place", says Otegen. "Something mystical is happening. Whether it is a dream or a parallel reality, we don't know. But one thing is clear: we see death, the death of the sea, and the death of everything connected with it".
Sony/ATV has signed the songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Linus Wiklund to a global publishing deal. He is known for his work with Avicii, Zedd, David Guetta, Rita Ora and more. "We are THRILLED to welcome Linus to Sony/ATV", say the company's Johnny Tennander and Amanda Hill.
Sony/ATV has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Sky Rompiendo, best known for his work with J Balvin. "Sky is one of the foremost producers and songwriters working in music today", reckons Jorge Mejia, CEO of Sony/ATV Latin America and US Latin. "We are honoured to have him join our family and are so looking forward to being part of what's next!"
Warner Music has named Eric Wong as the new Chief Marketing Officer of its recorded music division. He is currently Chief Operating Officer of Universal's Island Records, and will officially make the move to his new role on 17 Aug. "[Wong is] a bold, inventive marketer with a true fan's sensibility, and he's been behind a string of disruptive campaigns that have launched global careers", says CEO of Warner's recordings business Max Lousada.
EDUCATION & EVENTS
Applications for the 2021 edition of Gilles Peterson's artist development scheme Future Bubblers open today and will close on 14 Aug. Next year's focus city will again be Wolverhampton, so that the project can complete planned work there that was disrupted by COVID-19. More info here.
Mariah Carey has announced that she has finished writing her autobiography. "Writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing", she says in a tweet. "My sincere hope is that you are moved to a new understanding, not only about me, but also about the resilience of the human spirit".
FKA Twigs has released new short film 'We Are Womxn'. It follows her appearance at the Afropunk Festival in Atlanta in 2019.
Katy Perry has released new single 'Smile', the title track of her new album out on 14 Aug. "I wrote this song when I was coming through one of the darkest periods of my life", she says. "When I listen to it now, it's a great reminder that I made it through. It's three minutes of energising hopefulness".
Lana Del Rey has announced that she will release her poetry book, 'Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass', on 29 Sep. Before that, on 28 Jul, she will digitally release the audiobook version, on which she reads her poems with musical accompaniment from Jack Antonoff.
Raye has released new single 'Natalie Don't'. "I knew immediately when I wrote this song that it had to be a single", she says. "The track is about that feeling of panic you have when you know you're losing someone. The song is beautifully hopeless because you know Natalie will do what she wants regardless".
Charlie Puth has released new single 'Girlfriend'. "I can't cook and I'm an absolute nerd", says Puth. Good to know.
Sophie has released a live set featuring all new material on YouTube.
D Block Europe have released new single 'Plain Jane'.
Doves have announced that they will release their first album for more than a decade, 'The Universal Want', on 11 Sep. They've also put out another new single 'Prisoners'.
Erland Cooper has released new single 'A Nightingale Sings Outside Our Window', featuring Paul Weller and Galya Bisengalieva.
Jessy Lanza has released new single 'Anyone Around' and announced that she will release new album 'All The Time' through Hyperdub on 24 Jul.
GIGS & TOURS
Wiley has announced a drive-in concert tour, kicking off at the University Of Bolton Stadium on 2 Aug and including two nights at London's Colesdale Farm. The final date will be at The National Bowl in Milton Keynes on 10 Aug.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Bebe Rexha postpones album release until "the world is in a better place"
"I know my fans are super frustrated because they want new music", she said in an Instagram story that she subsequently posted on Twitter. "I promise you my team and I have been working harder than ever. Every day, every single week. We haven't stopped. This is the best project I have ever worked on and the album is my absolute favourite".
"I cannot wait for you to hear it", she adds, before literally saying the opposite of that. "It's just that we don't feel like it's right to release an album during these times. As soon as the world is in a better place we will release it all. We are just waiting for when the time feels right. I promise you it is worth the wait".
She also confirmed in subsequent tweets that the album is completely finished, but "the timing with the world doesn't feel right to me in my gut".
Presumably she is mainly referring to the mounting COVID-19 crisis in the US, where new cases are reaching mind-boggling numbers and still growing.
Although, of course, there is any number of reasons to be down on 2020. And new reasons keep popping up. Like the news this week that the fight for the White House in the US presidential election later this year could end up being between Donald Trump and Kanye West.
Whatever, like I said, Rexha is not clear. However, she does reckon we can turn things around quickly, if we just stop writing this year off.
"I know 2020 sucks", she tweeted yesterday afternoon. "But we gotta start putting some positive energy out there. If we all keep saying 2020 sucks, all our negative vibes are just gonna make this year worse and worse. Let's start saying 2020 is gonna get better. 2020 sucks but it's gonna get better".
If we all do that, maybe it will push the needle and there will be a Bebe Rexha album before you know it. Or perhaps 2020 is a write-off and we'll just have to wait until next year. Or never.