|FRIDAY 7 AUGUST 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Donald Trump last night issued the executive order that could effectively ban the use of TikTok in the United States from next month. Though it's not only TikTok being targeted, with WeChat facing similar sanctions, that being the messaging app owned by a certain Tencent... [READ MORE]|
Donald Trump begins the process that could effectively ban TikTok in the US
The move by Trump's government to ban TikTok is no surprise. American politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have been expressing concern for some time about what the China-owned video-sharing app - and its parent company Bytedance - do with all the user data they collect. And in more recent weeks both Trump himself and some of his closest advisors have indicated that a ban was imminent.
What last night's executive order actually states is that, from 15 Sep, American citizens and companies will be banned from undertaking "any transaction" with "ByteDance Ltd, Beijing, China, or its subsidiaries".
Quite what that means will no doubt be subject to plenty of legal wrangling in the weeks ahead, and obviously it's debatable how enforceable the ban will be, given more web-savvy Americans can always use a VPN in order to circumvent any blockades enforced on the country's internet.
Nevertheless, it's a significant development that greatly adds to TikTok's political woes. And also increases the urgency of the ongoing talks that could see Microsoft - or another American company - acquire the TikTok business in the US, and probably a number of other countries too.
The US government has indicated that such a deal would overcome its concerns. Though Trump recently threw a bit of a spanner in the works in that domain too by suggesting some of the profits of any such deal should be paid to the American government. Another typically unusual demand from the President.
The ongoing uncertainty around the future of TikTok in the US provides more good news for rival app Triller and also Facebook's Instagram, with its newly launched TikTok-esque Reels service. Both will be hoping that the mere prospect of TikTok being banned from next month will persuade its users to try out their competing services.
As for the official reason for the ban, the executive order runs through the much previously discussed concerns about how the Chinese government accesses and exploits data from the TikTok app, and also talks about the Chinese Communist Party using the platform to spread disinformation. Plus, there is a reference to the ban instigated by the Indian government in June.
Opinion is divided over whether or not any of those concerns are justified. Bytedance, of course, insists that it complies with data protection laws within each country in which it operates. And some see the move as more of a pre-election bid by Trump to pander to his nationalistic base by appearing to be tough on China.
Meanwhile, some experts have pointed out that the way Bytedance manages its data and platforms isn't really all that much different to other Chinese companies with operations in the US. So if you ban TikTok, what about the others?
Which brings us to the ban on WeChat, the more surprising of last night's executive orders. For those Americans that use the messaging app - in many cases to communicate with friends, family or colleagues in China - that ban will be much more significant. Not least because their contacts in China are already banned from using WeChat's American rivals. Meanwhile, plenty of American businesses operating in China use WeChat as a communication and payment platform.
And, of course, from a music industry perspective, it's very interesting to the see the US government take on Tencent as well as Bytedance, given that the former is now also a shareholder in Universal Music, Warner Music and Spotify. An all out assault on the Tencent group would also have an impact in the gaming and wider technology sectors in the US.
However, whereas the TikTok ban applies to all things Bytedance, the executive order covering WeChat is very clear that that ban only applies specifically to the messaging app, not to its owner's other businesses. And behind the scenes government reps have also been keen to stress the WeChat ban does not apply to Tencent at large.
That said, that doesn't mean that the Trump government's big crackdown on Chinese tech won't ultimately go beyond TikTok and WeChat.
Ahead of yesterday's executive orders, the US government also made recommendations that Chinese firms listed on US stock markets should be delisted unless they provide regulators with access to their audited accounts. And while the main Tencent company is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, the standalone Tencent Music company is listed in New York.
So, all in all, Trump's pre-election stand against China could, as yet, have some interesting ramifications for the business of music.
Canadian domain registry urges the country's courts to reject web-blocking
Web-blocking, of course, is where courts or government agencies order ISPs to block access to copyright-infringing websites. In some countries, like the UK, securing such web-blocks is a common tactic employed by the music and movie industries to discourage people from accessing unlicensed sources of content. But in other countries, it's still an innovation. And that includes Canada.
When some internet and content companies suggested a couple of years back that Canada's tel-co regulator the CRTC should set up a web-blocking agency, said regulator ultimately decided it didn't have the power to do so. But that didn't stop the Canadian Federal Court last year issuing a web-blocking order against GoldTV.ca, an unlicensed video service.
Some ISPs in Canada are actually pro-web-blocking, while most of the others seemed likely to comply with the order against GoldTV.ca. But one net firm, TekSavvy, is appealing the ruling.
Given the precedent this dispute will set, plenty of parties not directly involved in the case - including the music industry - asked to make official interventions. The CIRA and University Of Ottawa's IP Clinic are also intervening, but very much on the other side of the debate.
In their submission to the court, the two organisations present various arguments against allowing web-blocks to occur. The IP Clinic says that web-blocking goes against the balance Canada's Copyright Act is trying to achieve between the rights of copyright owners and the rights of internet users. While CIRA argues that the country's telecommunication laws constrain the power to order blocking.
The submission also notes that web-blocking has been controversial in other countries. Which is true, although - in the main - only when it is first introduced, and not once it is underway. Nevertheless, it considers web-blocking debates in other places and to what extent that should influence Canada, in particular noting how in Australia web-blocking came about because of specific new laws passed by its parliament and which constrained the web-blocking process to an extent.
The music, movie and wider content industries will be keen to stress why CIRA and the IP Clinic have it wrong, of course, and will also talk up how uncontroversial and - in their minds - effective web-blocking has been in countries like the UK. We await to see who has the most influence over the appeals court judges.
BBC announces new head of 1Xtra
All of the Beeb's pop music stations - so Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 Music and the Asian Network as well as 1Xtra - now have new bosses in place, all reporting in to the Corporation's Head Of Pop Lorna Clarke. McKenzie's appointment completes the Clarke-led rejig of how the BBC's pop music stations are managed.
He has been with the BBC since 2017, previously working on marketing and content partnership projects, commissioning podcasts for BBC Sounds and leading an event called the Creative Diversity Xperience, which took place last month. Prior to joining the broadcaster he worked in youth marketing for the agency Disrupt.
Confirming her final station head is now in place, Clarke says: "Now more than ever, a bold and creative 1Xtra is needed to reflect the culture of black audiences in the UK across all platforms. Having worked across Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network, coupled with his experience of digital and social media, Faron is well equipped to lead the team into the next era".
McKenzie himself adds: "I am delighted to be able to creatively mould and steer the most culturally relevant leading digital youth radio brand at the epicentre of black music and culture, BBC Radio 1Xtra. We are in a thriving time for black entertainment in the UK and overseas powered by a surge of creativity from new and legacy talent who are topping the charts and selling out stadiums".
"We have new audiences with an insatiable appetite for entertaining linear and digital content that is authentic and unapologetic", he goes on. "I am confident in the proven abilities of my new team, with a brand new forthcoming breakfast show, and our world-renowned DJs. We are set and ready to lead a new dawn in digital radio".
Lizzo announces partnership with Amazon to make telly projects
"Lizzo is one of the most exciting, creative, joyful artists in the industry, and it is such a pleasure to announce this new deal with her", says Head Of Amazon Studios, Jennifer Salke. "She has such a unique perspective and we're so excited to hear her ideas for new content that our Prime Video customers are sure to love".
Which kind of makes it sound like this deal's been done before Lizzo has actually come up with any ideas for Prime-style telly shows. I hope those ideas turn out to be good.
It'll be fine, I'm sure. Hopefully. It's going to be fine, right? What do you mean this whole thing's going to be a disaster? Have some faith, people! Maybe she could make an Ellen-style chat show where she makes everyone behind the scenes feel miserable. Sorry, I mean, where she has fun chats with her celebrity friends.
Maybe she could make a drama about a chat show host that makes everyone behind the scenes feel miserable while she has fun chats with her celebrity friends on screen. Hey, it could be about a chat show host that makes her celebrity friends feel miserable while having fun chats with her behind the scenes team.
Look at that, I just came up with three ideas for telly shows. And if I can do it, Lizzo will have it sorted, no problem.
"I'm so excited to partner with the amazing team at Amazon", says she. "Thank you to Jen Salke and the rest of the team for making this dream come true. I can't wait to get started and share my vision with the world".
US version of Eurovision to launch in 2021
Eurovision has been creeping ever more into the American consciousness in recent years - more so now that Will Ferrell has made a movie about it. The great educator has previous of course, also putting ice skating, driving cars really fast and Christmas on the map. The latter is particularly relevant because this new competition is going to be the big event of the festive season next year.
Plans for the American Song Contest were announced last year by the Nordic Entertainment Group - owner of the US rights to the Eurovision format. Now it has laid out details of how the show will work, and confirmed that it will take place in December 2021.
"Imagine if music was an Olympic sport and artists from all over the world came together to compete for the gold", says producer Anders Lenhoff. "That's the Eurovision Song Contest. The American version will be different than anything seen before on US television, marrying the fanfare and excitement of March Madness and the NFL playoffs with the artistry and beauty of world-class performances".
"The American Song Contest", he insists, "is a competition that happens to be televised, rather than a contest created to make a television show. And it's open to all singers with a song, whether they are amateur artists or already signed to a major record label. No one is excluded from the competition".
Eurovision, of course, was originally conceived in the 1950s very much as a TV show, aiming to establish a precedent for a programme to be shared across European broadcasters. Until relatively recently it was a single standalone event, with the semi-finals added in 2004 after the number of competing countries became too large to fit into one show.
So now Eurovision has three shows, including the big grand final that pulls in the highest ratings. The American Song Contest, which, remember, just "happens to be televised" and is not "a contest created to make a television show" will run over a long series of shows for weeks and weeks and weeks.
It will begin with 'American Song Contest Academy', a series of "five to ten televised qualifier competitions, leading to semi-finals and the ultimate primetime grand finale".
Although seemingly stretching things out somewhat, that initial series of heats is arguably a more official version of the various song selection shows that are staged in different European countries in the run up to Eurovision - particularly Sweden's Melodifestivalen.
Commenting on the new competition, Eurovision's Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl says: "The Eurovision Song Contest's unique legacy dates back 65 years and its worldwide popularity is still rising. It's time for America to experience this spectacle, through its sister competition, the American Song Contest".
"Love of music is universal, and celebration of music in different genres and styles can transcend boundaries and unite people", he adds. "We are excited to have found the right partners to offer another series that our fans across the globe can fall in love with and to share this unique competition with the American people".
Jay-Z's Roc Nation to open its first university
A partnership with the Long Island University in Brooklyn, the school will offer undergraduate degrees in music, music technology, entrepreneurship and production, and sports management. Roc Nation says that 25% of its students will be given full scholarships, allowing them to graduate with no debt. And as well as academic study, all students will be placed in "immersive internships" in order to enter the job market with real-world experience.
"Pursuing higher education is an investment in one's future", says Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez. "This partnership, envisioned alongside LIU President Dr Cline, is a true investment in our community and young people in Brooklyn, in New York City and beyond. We're excited that the Roc Nation School Of Music, Sports & Entertainment will provide unique insight, knowledge, and experiences for students and introduce the world to the next generation of unmatched talent".
The there mentioned Dr Kimberly Cline adds: "Our proximity in and around New York City's epicentre of music and sports clearly positions us to offer unparalleled experiential learning and access to professional opportunities that will launch students to success. We look forward to joining with Roc Nation to offer an unprecedented educational resource that opens up the entertainment and sports world to a new and eager generation".
In the announcement, Roc Nation also says that it will consider opening more schools in future. First it needs to get this one up and running though. Applications for entry in September 2021 will open later this year.
Shirley Bassey has signed a new record deal with Universal Music's Decca, with a new album set for release later this year. "My new album is a celebration of 70 years in showbiz", she says. "70 years of support from my fans and 70 years of music! I've trodden the boards of many stages and kicked up many a diamante heel! The songs I have chosen all feel very personal and connected to my life. I hope they will do the same for my fans".
Nick Cave has launched a new online store called Cave Things. It offers "things conceived, sourced, shaped and designed by Nick Cave". So, all sorts of things that you can purchase and then, if you choose, store in a cave.
The Weeknd features on new posthumously released Juice Wrld track 'Smile'.
Cardi B has released new track 'WAP', featuring Megan Thee Stallion.
Blink 182 have released new single 'Quarantine'.
The Prince estate has extracted another previously unreleased track from the musician's vault. This is 'Cosmic Day'.
Yusuf/Cat Stevens has released a new version of 'On The Road To Find Out', from his re-recorded version of his 'Tea For The Tillerman' album. That album, marking the 50th anniversary of the original, is out on 18 Sep.
Kali Uchis is joined by Rico Nasty and Cazzu on new track 'Aquí Yo Mando'.
Ava Max has released new single 'Kings & Queens Pt 2', featuring Lauv and Saweetie. Her debut album, 'Heaven & Hell', is out on 18 Sep.
Bugzy Malone has released new track 'MEN III'.
Flatbush Zombies have released new James Blake-produced track 'Afterlife'.
Metronomy have shared a Kero Kero Bonito remix of their track 'The Light'. "Metronomy are one of the bands that defined our adolescence; we listened to 'Nights Out' on the bus to school and went to their shows as sixteen year olds", say KKB. "Our nocturnal club-pop re-fix of 'The Light' is informed by 2-step, pretty 00s electronica and walking home very late at night".
Midnight Oil have released their first new track for seventeen years 'Gadigal Land'.
Elliphant continues her return to music with new single 'Had Enough'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Lady Gaga "shanked" Ariana Grande while making Rain On Me video
Reading that opening sentence back, I'm not sure it really captures the jovial spirit of this incident. I'm sure you all read between the lines though. Whatever, you can see it all for yourself in some behind-the-scenes footage Gaga has put up on Instagram.
The clip shows the duo and a troupe of dancers rehearsing for the video. At one point, Gaga announces that she "shanked [Grande] with my nail by accident, dancing". It then cuts to Grande rolling on the floor, saying: "Lady Gaga scratched my eye. It's an honour. I hope it scars".
Gaga is having none of it. She pins Grande to the floor in an attempt to administer antiseptic to the wound, saying, "Give me your face". Grande protests, "I want it to stay" and wrestles her way out of Gaga's grip.
As Grande runs screaming from the room, Gaga chases her, shouting: "You have a scratch on your face! You can't get infected before the video!"
So, you see, everything I said up front here was true. Never dance near Lady Gaga, that's the moral of all this. I think that's the main reason for all this social distancing stuff. You never can be too careful.