|TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Chinese government has kindly provided an extra complication in the ongoing talks to sell the TikTok business in the US and some other markets. On Friday, it updated its list of export restrictions, with the export and cross-border sale of a number of technologies now subject to extra regulation in China, including "interactive interfaces powered by artificial intelligence" and "personalised recommendations and notifications powered by data analysis"... [READ MORE]|
Chinese government announces new rules that will hinder sale of TikTok US
TikTok's Chinese owner Bytedance is busy negotiating with possible bidders about selling the app business within the US and some other markets too, likely to include Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and possibly even India.
The sale, of course, is all about trying to placate politicians in the US, and elsewhere, who have expressed concerns about the super popular app being owned by a China-based business, mainly because of allegations - disputed by Bytedance - that the Chinese government has access to TikTok's global audience and user data.
The need to sell at least the US side of the TikTok business is now pretty urgent because of an executive order from President Donald Trump banning use of the app within America from 15 Sep on national security grounds. Bytedance's lawyers are busy fighting that executive order in the courts, though an easier fix would be to have an American company in control of TikTok's American operations.
There is plenty of interest in buying TikTok's American business, though getting a deal done is still a challenge. Partly because of further meddling by the Trump government; partly because of tricky questions regarding how a global app owned by different companies in different countries would actually work; and partly because Bytedance wants there to be sufficient competition in the bidding process to overcome the risk of Trump's unmovable deadline negatively impacting on price.
The Chinese government's updating of its export restrictions list on Friday adds an extra complication. Given the TikTok app contains some of the technologies that have been newly restricted - and selling the app without those technologies included would be messy - it means any deal with an American buyer will now be subject to extra regulatory measures in Bytedance's home country.
There was plenty of debate over the weekend over why the Chinese government updated its export restrictions list in the way it did and exactly what it means for the sale of TikTok in the US.
Trump's moves against TikTok have been criticised by some in China, as has Bytedance's willingness to sell its American business to placate Western politicians. Therefore last week's new export restrictions could be a political move by Chinese leaders, so that they are seen to be responding to public opinion on the proposed forced sale of TikTok US.
Whether the Chinese government would go so far as to use the new powers to actually block any sale, potentially resulted in a further escalation of the country's trade war with the US, remains to be seen.
Responding to the new regulations, a legal rep for Bytedance, Erich Andersen, told reporters: "We are studying the new regulations that were released Friday. As with any cross-border transaction, we will follow the applicable laws, which in this case include those of the US and China".
Meanwhile, back in the US, late last week it was revealed that TikTok rival Triller was teaming up with London-based Centricus Asset Management in order to enter the bidding to buy its competitor's American business. In fact, according to reports, Triller and Centricus are interested in acquiring TikTok in the US, Australia and New Zealand, as well as India, where politicians have also banned the app.
That puts them into competition with the bid being made by Microsoft and Walmart, and another from a consortium led by technology firm Oracle. Or it does in theory. Yesterday, TikTok itself insisted it was not in talks with Triller about any sale. A spokesperson told CNBC: "We can confirm that we are not and will not be in talks with them. Still, we are flattered by how much they admire TikTok".
Nevertheless, Triller's Executive Chairman Bobby Sarnevesht told CNBC's 'Squawk Box Asia' programme: "We have confirmation that the chairman [Zhang Yiming] and people pretty high up at ByteDance are aware of it and we have correspondence [on]going".
So there go. There's never a dull moment on Planet TikTok.
UK police have a go at cracking down on some COVID-rule-busting illegal raves
These unlicensed music events are, of course, capitalising on the fact that the clubbing sector is still in full-on shutdown as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
With lots of gatherings of that kind expected to take place over the bank holiday weekend, police forces were encouraged to act firmly, in part utilising new powers to issue fixed penalty notices of £10,000 against event organisers.
The effectiveness of that recently announced extra penalty for organising large gatherings that break COVID social distancing rules is debatable. And the extent to which it is a deterrent probably depends on the scale of the event.
Organisers of larger unlicensed events, who are already used to dealing with other legal risks beyond COVID issues, could just include any possible fines in the budget. And once they've done so, they then have an incentive to make their large gathering even larger.
Nevertheless, police forces in London, South Wales and West Yorkshire all confirmed they had issued - or have plans to issue - fixed penalty notices against organisers of an assortment of illegal raves that took place over the weekend in their respective regions. Police in London are investigating at least 58 unlicensed music events that were reported to the authorities.
Ahead of the bank holiday weekend, the boss of the Night-Time Industries Association, Michael Kill, said that the government should more proactively work with the clubbing sector to find safe ways for legit events to resume. Otherwise, he reckoned, the number of illegal events will likely continue to increase, despite the £10,000 fines, especially once students return to the big university cities.
"Small house parties and raves have been bubbling under the surface of society for many years now", he noted. "But lockdown has intensified this with young people searching for alternatives to late-night venues as they struggle to cope with continuing restrictions on their lives due to the pandemic".
"Given the imminent re-introduction of student communities to university cities, and restrictions on the reopening of nightclubs and venues, we are concerned that the freshers period will result in an eruption of illegal house parties and gatherings", he went on. "This will create challenging times for police forces up and down the country".
Kill continued: "As the night-time economy and events sector is unable to re-open to provide safe spaces for young people to express themselves, DIY alternatives are being organised, which are unregulated and may compromise young people's safety. Previous illegal events have resulted in several serious incidents, but have continued to grow in popularity over the last few months".
"Thousands of businesses remain closed and struggle to survive and protect the livelihoods of their staff while unsafe illegal events continue", he concluded. "The government must consider safe options to allow the night-time economy and events sector to re-open to help combat the rise in illegal parties and raves across the country".
Leonard Cohen estate "exploring legal options" over Trump's Hallelujah use
It has now emerged that the Trump campaign requested specific permission to use the song in a live performance at the RNC event, which was denied. Despite this, an operatic version of the song was performed by tenor Christopher Macchio.
In a statement, the Cohen estate's attorney Michelle L Rice said: "We are surprised and dismayed that the RNC would proceed knowing that the Cohen estate had specifically declined the RNC's use request, and their rather brazen attempt to politicise and exploit in such an egregious manner 'Hallelujah', one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue".
She added: "Had the RNC requested another song, 'You Want it Darker', for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song".
Taken from Cohen's posthumous album of the same name, 'You Want It Darker' begins: "If you are the dealer, I'm out of the game / If you are the healer, it means I'm broken and lame / If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame / You want it darker / We kill the flame".
Also confirming that use of 'Hallelujah' had been requested and specifically denied for the political event, Brian J Monaco from the song's publisher Sony/ATV said in a statement: "On the eve of the finale of the convention, representatives from the Republican National Committee contacted us regarding obtaining permission for a live performance of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. We declined their request".
The song was actually used twice during the musical finale to the Republican Party's big bash. As well as Christopher Macchio's performance, the studio recording of Tori Kelly's cover of 'Hallelujah' was played, alongside the more obvious RNC soundtrack choices of George M Cohan's 'She's A Grand Old Flag' and Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless The USA'.
In a subsequently deleted tweet, Kelly said: "Seeing messages about my version of 'Hallelujah' [being used]. All I know is neither myself nor my team received a request".
Hipgnosis announces deal with Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx
"Mötley Crüe were single-handedly responsible for the Los Angeles rock explosion of the 1980s paving the way for everyone that came in their wake and putting rock music back onto Top 40 radio and the pop charts", says Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis, in his typically understated fashion.
"Nikki was the catalyst and architect of all of that", he goes on, "and we are delighted to welcome him to the Hipgnosis family".
Sixx adds: "Merck and his team at Hipgnosis are an artist-friendly, forward-thinking company. Looking to the future, I am grateful that they will treat my music with great care and respect".
Under the deal, Hipgnosis will now receive 100% of the songwriter and performer royalties due to Sixx through the collective licensing system from his 305 song catalogue, which covers Mötley Crüe and his current band Sixx:AM, as well as other projects.
Toddla T departs Radio 1, as new Residency guests confirmed
Posting on Instagram, he wrote: "My family and producky commitments have ramped up recently and I can no longer give the show the strength it deserves. Throughout my eleven years at the Beeb I've had some of the greatest moments of my career and life, thanks to all staff at Radio 1 and 1Xtra for believing in me and sticking with me for so long".
He also gave a little big up to the medium of radio itself, observing: "Streaming is great and changed the 'game' but, as proved more than ever during lockdown, there is nothing like a voice in between records with a couple idents. I love radio and its artform, it's priceless".
Elsewhere in Radio 1 news, the station has announced that a bunch more people will be joining its 'Radio 1 Residency' series this autumn, including Disclosure, Amelie Lens, Joy Orbison and DJ EZ. They will all start appearing on the Sunday night show this month.
The Quietus launches new subscription packages
It's one of a number of music websites shifting over to a subscription model after the COVID-19 shutdown caused a slump in advertising sales. Given that most music magazines were already struggling to generate enough revenues from an advertising market where most digital spend ends up with Google and Facebook, that slump put a lot of music media - online and in print - at risk.
Noting that The Quietus is celebrating its twelfth birthday today, the site's editors, John Doran and Luke Turner, wrote in an editorial piece: "If you had asked us a few months ago we would have told you that we weren't looking forward to this date. To be blunt, most of our birthdays have been overshadowed by the question: 'How the hell are we going to keep this magazine afloat for another year?'"
"The past year, however, has been the most difficult in the history of the site", they went on. "The magazine and website advertising system - which was already in dire shape - has been shoved into outright catastrophic collapse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of this has been felt right across the ecosystem that The Quietus is part of, resulting in the presses being turned off or paused on many brilliant and widely-read print magazines, not to mention a huge scaling back in operations by many digital titles".
"There's every chance The Quietus would have folded too", they admit, "were it not for an Arts Council England grant which has seen us through the past few tough months. Despite the grinding awfulness of the year so far, however, we're actually starting to feel cautiously optimistic about the future. We've spent the summer working round the clock to use this modest but bacon-saving award to come up with the biggest development in the history of the site".
And that big development is the launch of The Quietus subscription service. There are three options available, with the top level offering subscribers music as well as music journalism, with the site set to commission artists to create original tracks. Those commissions will either be "collaborations between two artists who have never worked together before or new music from one of our favourites".
Scala Radio announces show hosted by young classical talent, while Greatest Hits Radio reveals its drive time men
Starting next weekend, the four part series will involve members of the National Youth Orchestra Of Great Britain, the National Open Youth Orchestra Of Great Britain, the National Youth Orchestra Of Scotland and Chineke! Juniors.
Announcing the new show last week, Scala Radio's Programme Manager Jenny Nelson said: "We're so THRILLED to support the next generation of classical musicians with our new 'Sunday Night Scala' series. It's so refreshing to hear from new voices and understand about their passion for classical music from their perspective. We can't wait to welcome our guests and transport our listeners to the concert hall every Sunday evening this September".
Elsewhere in Bauer news, the media group last week announced the men that will front the regional drive time shows of its newly expanded Greatest Hits Radio network. And in a bold move to display the company's commitment to diversity in broadcasting, the nine new regional shows really are all hosted by men.
The Greatest Hits Radio network increased its size significantly yesterday as an assortment of local radio stations across the UK rebranded under that name, the big rebrand being the result of a flurry of local radio acquisitions undertaken by Bauer last year.
The numerous local stations that are now part of that network will mainly take the same programming, though the drive time slot will be different in each region.
The DJs fronting those regional shows are: Rob Chandler (GHR East), Andy Goulding (GHR Midlands), Darren Proctor (GHR North West), Martin Starke (GHR South), Tony Wright (GHR South West), Steve Priestley (GHR Yorkshire), Dave Brooks (GHR South Wales), Chris Wright (GHR South Coast), and Matt Hutchinson (GHR Hull & East Yorkshire).
Confirming that line-up, the Group MD for Bauer's wider Hits Radio Brand Network, Graham Bryce, said: "We are THRILLED about the line-up of talent hosting regional drivetime shows across Greatest Hits Radio. This is a very important part of the radio experience we are offering, alongside the local news and content we know listeners value, and shows from some of the best-loved broadcasters in the UK".
Lady Gaga wins Lady Gaga award for being Lady Gaga at MTV VMAs
Originally scheduled to take place at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the event was shifted to a number of outdoor locations in order to out-fox that pandemic thing. Gaga took home a total of five awards, including Artist Of The Year. Her tally was also boosted when she became the first recipient of the new Tricon Award.
That particular gong has been introduced to recognise an artist who has achieved success in three disciplines - and it was handed to Gaga this year because she makes music, was in a movie once, and has done some fashion stuff.
"I truly never could've imagined that someday I would be given an award like this that honoured me for so many of my passions", said Gaga in her acceptance speech. "I want to share this award with everybody at home tonight. Everybody at home that is their own form of a Tricon".
The Tricon Award seemingly replaces the event's old Vanguard Award, which had the vague criteria of recognising "achievements in music and film, but ... sometimes [being] handed out as a lifetime achievement award".
MTV talked up the new prize as if it will definitely be able to think of an artist who has done three things again next year, but you probably also shouldn't be surprised if the Vanguard quietly returns and the Tricon is never mentioned again.
Elsewhere, in the bit of the show actually celebrating videos, a woman won the Best Direction trophy for the first time. So that's good news for all you female music video directors out there. One day, if you work really hard, you too could have your work recognised at a major televised event.
Although it would help if you were Taylor Swift. For it was she who won the prize for her work on her video for 'The Man'.
Who wants to see a list of all the winners? Let's not even pretend you're here for anything else. Here you go...
Artist Of The Year: Lady Gaga
Song Of The Year: Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande - Rain On Me
Video Of The Year: The Weeknd - Blinding Lights
Best Direction: Taylor Swift - The Man (Taylor Swift)