|MONDAY 27 JULY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Wiley has been widely condemned - by the music community and well beyond - after a lengthy string of antisemitic posts on Twitter and Instagram over the weekend. The rant saw him dropped by his management and distribution partner, and investigated by police. It also prompted calls for a change in what the law says about hate speech after the social media platforms were deemed to have acted too slowly in reacting to and removing the rapper's more incendiary posts... [READ MORE]|
Wiley condemned over antisemitic social media outburst
Wiley embarked on his lengthy and not entirely coherent outburst on Friday evening, the whole thing seemingly beginning with some common griping about the structure of record deals. He posted more than 250 times before Twitter temporarily banned him from its platform. He then returned on Saturday morning, picking up where he left off, before the social media firm instigated a longer seven day ban.
The posts saw Wiley share various antisemitic conspiracy theories, and on a number of occasions he referenced his manager John Wolff, who is Jewish. On Friday night, Wolff - like many others - expressed concern for the rapper's mental health, saying: "I cannot support what he has written today [but] as someone who has known him for twelve years I know he does not truly feel this way".
However, just before 1am on Saturday morning, Wolff tweeted: "Following Wiley's antisemitic tweets today we at [A-List Management] have cut all ties with him. There is no place in society for antisemitism". Responding to that in a video post on Instagram, Wiley dismissed Wolff's statement, saying: "I cut ties with you, you fool. That's why we're here".
A number of other music companies that work with - or have worked with - the rapper also issued statements in the wake of the posts. Ninja Tune subsidiary Big Dada, which has worked with Wiley a number of times, also condemned his comments, saying that it would donate its share of royalties earned on the albums it released with him to charity. The label said a statement: "We released some records by Wiley between 2007 and 2014. We fully condemn Wiley's comments and royalties from those records will be donated to campaigns that fight antisemitism".
Wiley's most recent albums have been self-released, with distribution handled by the Warner Music-owned label services business ADA. Over the weekend it announced it was ending that partnership, stating: "We oppose antisemitism and any form of discrimination and racism. While Wiley controls and releases his music through his own label, he has a digital distribution agreement with ADA and we are terminating that agreement".
As Wiley's ranting continued, and especially after he posted tweets apparently inciting violence against Jewish people, many called on police to investigate - something Wiley then responded to by goading his critics while claiming to have done nothing wrong. However, the Metropolitan Police later confirmed that it was investigating the social media posts. Wiley also claimed in a number of Instagram videos that twelve police officers had come to his home.
There were also calls by critics and campaign groups for Twitter to delete the rapper's account entirely, rather than simply removing the most problematic tweets and instigating the temporary ban. Many have criticised the platform, arguing that it was too slow to act, especially after groups that seek to combat antisemitism had explicitly notified the company of what Wiley had written.
Twitter insisted that it had enforced its abuse and harassment policies in response to Wiley's tweets, but many reckon that simply wasn't enough. Further tweets were subsequently removed, but much of what he had posted was still available online for most of yesterday. Meanwhile, on Instagram - which has also imposed a seven day ban on Wiley's account - all of his posts currently remain online.
As criticism of the way Twitter and Instagram had responded grew, some also called for new legislation regarding how social media companies respond in such circumstances. So called platform responsibility, which includes things like this, is currently on the political agenda in Westminster.
And yesterday Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a tweet: "The antisemitic posts from Wiley are abhorrent. They should not have been able to remain on Twitter and Instagram for so long and I have asked them for a full explanation. Social media companies must act much faster to remove such appalling hatred from their platforms".
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also wrote a letter to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri and Twitter's UK Managing Director Dara Nasr, saying: "When material which is clearly racist is shared on your platform, the response - its removal and the banning of those responsible - should be immediate".
"You have invested in the technology and the people to make this possible", he added, "and there should be no excuses. It takes minutes for content shared on your platform to reach an audience of millions. When someone influential shares hate speech, in that time it may have an impact on the views of many who look up to them".
"Racism is not a grey area and there is no room for interpretation in the kind of statements made by Wiley", he went on. "It is particularly disheartening that, at a time when social media has been playing such a positive role in amplifying the vital voices of the Black Lives Matter movement, we see again how it can be used to spread hatred and division".
Beyond the debate around the role social media could and should play in regulating offensive and racist content online, some also speculated whether this weekend's outburst would mark the end of Wiley's music career. He released what he said would be his final album, 'The Godfather 3', in June - although he followed it with another, 'Boasty Gang - The Album', a couple of weeks later. He was also due to take part in Live Nation's Drive-In concert tour, which was cancelled earlier this month.
Def Jam Africa extends into three new markets
Part of the global music industry's increased interest in the African market, Universal launched its Def Jam brand on the continent back in May with offices in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria. The new expansion sees the label push into French speaking African countries, seeking to work with hip hop talent based in those places. It already has a signing in each of the new countries: Suspect 95 from Côte d'Ivoire, Omzo Dollar from Senegal and Tenor from Cameroon.
Universal Music Africa's Franck Kacou, who will oversee the new offices, says: "There is a wealth of domestic hip hop talent here and in the surrounding countries that has the potential to transcend language and geographical boundaries to appeal to audiences throughout Africa, France and beyond. I look forward to working alongside [my UMG colleagues] to expand our community of artists across the continent, and to help elevate hip-hop from Africa to new heights".
Back in the US, Jeff Harleston, the interim CEO of Def Jam Recordings, adds: "The reaction to the recent launch of Def Jam Africa showed the weight and respect that the Def Jam name and brand carries globally. We are excited to welcome these new markets to the Def Jam family. It provides an important opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip hop artists emerging throughout the [African] continent".
Music venues to be the first beneficiaries of the government's £1.57 billion in cultural COVID support
Ministers committed earlier this month to spend £1.57 billion to help cultural and heritage businesses that are facing closure after being in shutdown for months because of COVID-19. Music venues were among those specifically listed as beneficiaries of that money when the fund was first announced and on Saturday it was confirmed that £2.25 million will be made available imminently to help save around 150 grassroots venues.
Confirming that spend, which will be administered by Arts Council England, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Without our grassroots music venues, we wouldn't have The Beatles, Adele or Elton John. Nearly all of our globally successful music stars started out at UK clubs and live music venues - and we must make sure those organisations weather the COVID storm. The first £2.25 million of our unprecedented cultural rescue package is targeted at their survival".
The specific funding commitment has been welcomed by the Music Venue Trust, which has been lobbying hard for such support ever since the impact of COVID-19 first became apparent. As the months have gone by, MVT has stressed on numerous occasions that grassroots music venues - which often operate on incredibly tight profit margins even in the good times - were in need of urgent financial support in order to avoid a flurry of closures.
MVT's Beverley Whitrick said on Saturday: "Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes this essential funding for desperate grassroots music venues facing urgent, short term challenges. Without this help, the sector would be facing a wave of permanent closures. Throughout this crisis we have worked closely with [Dowden's department] and are delighted that the urgent need for this intervention has been recognised and responded to".
Established artists encouraged to support COVID-hit grassroots venues by playing them
The initiative has been created by Sally Cook from Manchester venue Band On The Wall and music manager Stephen Budd, who has previously led a number of other event programmes under the 'Passport' banner in aid of War Child. The aim is to match each participating artist with a venue that played an important role in their career. Tickets for the shows will be distributed via a prize draw which people can enter by making a minimum donation of £5.
Of the money raised, 80% will go to the host venues and the Music Venue Trust's Crisis Fund, while 20% will go to Inner City Music, the not-for-profit organisation that operates Band On The Wall, and which will run the 'Passport: Back To Out Roots' programme.
Announcing the initiative, Cook said: "It's incredibly exciting to see artists supporting the grassroots venues that form the foundation of the UK's live music industry, acknowledging their importance and celebrating the unrivalled experience of watching your favourite bands up close and personal, surrounded by friends and united in appreciation for live music in all its loud and sweaty glory".
Budd adds: "There is nothing like seeing your favourite artist in a venue that is close to their heart. These shows will be awe-inspiring for those fans who are lucky enough to win the prize draw and also a joy for the artists who participate knowing they are helping keep live grassroots venues alive".
For more information on how to get involved check www.passportbacktoourroots.org
Former NME journalist Dan Martin dies
Having first started writing about music and entertainment while a student in Manchester, including for the city's listing magazine City Life, Martin began freelancing for the NME before joining the music title full-time in 2003.
He spent a decade at the music weekly, entertaining readers with his eclectic genre passions and adventures in music, which - as Alex Needham noted in The Guardian yesterday - included gate-crashing the finale sing-song at the Live 8 show in 2005 and standing in for Bez when the Happy Mondays played Coachella the following year.
In 2013 he left the NME to join Buzzfeed UK as Entertainment Editor. He also subsequently wrote for The Guardian, including about another of his passions, 'Doctor Who'.
Among those paying tribute this weekend was former NME Deputy Editor Eve Barlow, who tweeted: "I don't know that there was a kinder, lovelier, funnier heart in music journalism. I loved hearing him effuse about Biffy Clyro and Kylie Minogue, often at the same time. I'll remember him lifting up bands at NME and in turn being lifted by them".
Meanwhile one of the bands who Martin covered extensively while at the NME, Manic Street Preachers, posted on Twitter: "Terrible news. Dan was so sweet, funny and talented - we spent a lot of time with him on the road in the UK and USA and at our studio in Cardiff. Always a pleasure to be with".
Peter Green dies
The band's drummer and fellow co-founder Mick Fleetwood said in a statement: "For me, and every past and present member of Fleetwood Mac, losing Peter Green is monumental. No one has ever stepped into the ranks of Fleetwood Mac without a reverence for Peter Green and his talent, and to the fact that music should shine bright and always be delivered with uncompromising passion".
"Peter, I will miss you, but rest easy your music lives on", he continued. "I thank you for asking me to be your drummer all those years ago. We did good, and trail blazed one hell of a musical road for so many to enjoy. God speed to you, my dearest friend".
Green founded Fleetwood Mac in 1967 with Fleetwood, guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Spencer, and bassist Bob Brunning – the latter being replaced by John McVie a few months later.
Naming the band after a song Green, Fleetwood and McVie had recorded with their previous group the Bluesbreakers, they released their eponymous debut album the following year, going to number four in the album charts. Later the same year they released standalone instrumental single 'Albatross', which was the band's first and still only number one single.
The band continued to find success, but in 1970, during the tour for their third album, Green quit as a result of heavy use of LSD and declining mental health. He later received a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
He made a handful of recordings with other acts over the next few years, but by 1973 had faded from public life - in part due to time spent in psychiatric hospitals. However, by the end of the decade he began a solo career, releasing a number of solo albums through the early 80s, and also making an uncredited performance on Fleetwood's Mac's 'Tusk' album. In the late 90s, he then had another resurgence with the Peter Green Splinter Group, with whom he recorded nine albums between 1997 and 2003.
Most of Green's work with Fleetwood Mac is now repped by Warner Music, and yesterday the company's global President of catalogue, Kevin Gore, said in a statement: "The Warner Music family is incredibly saddened to hear the news of Peter Green's passing. The influential guitar virtuoso, gifted singer-songwriter and co-founder of Fleetwood Mac made an indelible contribution to the evolution of rock music ... We offer his family, bandmates, and fans our deepest condolences in this difficult time. Rest in peace, Peter".
McFly announce new single and album
Of the new single, Tom Fletcher says: "This song was always the clear choice to come back with - as soon as we wrote 'Happiness', it kind of defined where the rest of the album went".
Danny Jones adds: "There's that hands-in-the-air feeling about it, like when you're drunk or you're having a barbecue. You can put it on and your kids will dance to it, your wife will dance to it, your granddad, everybody, even the lads!"
No! Not the lads! It must be quite a song. Jones adds that the band's extended break has been rejuvenating, saying: "I think the break we had from one another made all this fresh again - it made it really exciting".
"There was a new vibe and open-mindedness to it all", he concludes, "and recording near our homes gave us so much freedom - it didn't matter if someone had to leave for the day, which meant we didn't overthink anything too much. Recording just became part of our lives".
'Happiness' will be out this Thursday, with 'Young Dumb Thrills' set to follow on 13 Nov.
Taylor Swift sells lots of records shocker
Actually, technically no, he's Eastern Orthodox. Because the official title of the Pope you're thinking of isn't actually 'Pope'. Don't you just love a bit of pedantry on a Monday? Especially popery pedantry. But don't worry. Bears definitely do shit in the woods. And the deserts, and the forests, and the tundra, depending on the bears. And when Taylor Swift surprise releases, totally out of the blue, a really rather good new album, it sells and streams shitloads.
Here's an update her label posted on Saturday. "In under 24 hours, Taylor Swift's five star album 'Folklore' sold over 1.3 million copies around the world. It also shattered 'the global record for first-day album streams on Spotify by a female artist', with 80.6 million streams, and delivered 'the most-streamed album on Apple Music in 24 hours' with 35.47 million streams. Additionally, 'Folklore' set the US and worldwide Amazon Music indie/alternative streaming record".
So, well done Swifty. Quite the achievement. Not quite big enough, however, for us to ignore the CMU style guide and allow you the lowercase 'f' on 'Folklore'. You have to do really well for us to ignore the CMU style guide and adopt any grammatical idiosyncrasies you've employed in your album title. But you were nearly there, Taylor. Very nearly.
In related news, Swift's main collaborator on the new record, Aaron Dessner of The National, has told Zane Lowe that he had to lie to his eight year old daughter in order to help ensure the surprise release remained a surprise. In an interview with Apple Music's Beats 1, he said: "I was so glad that we kept it [a surprise] because I didn't want to be the one that spilled the beans".
"I have a eight year old daughter, and one day she asked me, 'Daddy, do you know Taylor Swift?'", he went on. "It was the morning after we'd written one of these songs. And every time we would write a song, it was like a weird lightning bolt, getting this struck by lightning or something, just exhilarated with electricity. I just looked her straight in the eye and said, 'No'. I honoured my confidentiality".
Look at that, Taylor Swift forcing a parent to lie to his child. Now I'm definitely glad we didn't budge on the lowercase 'f' thing. Though, you know, the surprise was kind of nice, wasn't it? Even if surprise releases from superstar artists tend to fuck up the marketing plans of everyone else. But hey, we all like a good surprise, don't we? And the surprise release worked. Did I mention 'Folklore' has enjoyed sales and streams by the shitload?