MONDAY 5 OCTOBER 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The boss of London's Heaven venue, and the G-A-Y bars and club nights, is taking the UK government to court over the 10pm curfew it introduced as part of its latest round of COVID restrictions... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES G-A-Y chief takes UK government to court over 10pm COVID curfew
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LEGAL Music and movie industries' MegaUpload lawsuits postponed yet again
Kanye West settles Ultralight Beam sample dispute

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DEALS Ashley Walters signs to Warner Chappell
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LIVE BUSINESS Music Venue Trust criticises last minute delay on Cultural Recovery Fund decisions
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Amazon Music HD partners with Universal and Warner
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ARTIST NEWS Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares issues statement over departure of frontman Burton C Bell
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AND FINALLY... Logic tells Def Jam to pay his collaborators
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G-A-Y chief takes UK government to court over 10pm COVID curfew
The boss of London's Heaven venue, and the G-A-Y bars and club nights, is taking the UK government to court over the 10pm curfew it introduced as part of its latest round of COVID restrictions.

The live music and night-time sectors argue that the government has been unable to demonstrate why such a curfew helps restrict the spread of COVID-19, and that the enforced early closure has had a major impact on those venues and night-time business that had just about found a way of operating while adhering to other COVID rules.

When instigating the curfew last month, the government insisted that doing so had proven effective in a pilot. However, to date, the industry's demands to see data that backs up and justifies the restriction have not been met.

Many fear that ministers were motivated to introduce the curfew simply so that they could be seen to be doing something, given resistance within government to introduce further restrictions on schools, universities and workplaces, even though virus transmission rates are much, much higher in those places compared to bars and venues.

Industry reps also argue that the curfew could well be directly resulting in increased cases of the virus being transmitted, given that all restaurants, bars and venues are now forced to close at the same time, making cities and public transport systems unnecessarily busy at 10pm.

Also, the restriction will result in more house parties and unlicensed raves taking place, where none of the social distancing rules being adhered to by bars and venues will be properly enforced.

Explaining why he had decided to go legal over the curfew, G-A-Y boss Jeremy Joseph said this morning: "The 10pm curfew, which has now been in place for the last two weeks and has been detrimental to the hospitality sector, including G-A-Y, makes absolutely no sense. It does the opposite of protecting people by pushing them onto the street at the same time. They are going from being safe inside venues with staggered closing times to unsafe on overcrowded streets and overloaded public transport".

"This government has failed to show why the 10pm curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation", he went on. "It seems to direct the blame for this action on the sector, consistently treating the night-time economy as a scapegoat when, in fact, we have years of operational experience of keeping customers safe, and have spent substantial time and effort making sure our venues are COVID secure. Enough is enough".

Targeting the Health Secretary and Prime Minister directly, Joseph added: "Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson have to be made accountable and today we have instructed our legal team with the support of the Night Time Industries Association to serve the government with a pre-action protocol for judicial review to challenge the decision to implement the national curfew of 10pm on the hospitality sector".

Barristers from Kings Chambers will work on the case alongside law firm Simpson Miller. Dan Rosenberg, a partner at the latter, stated: "Our clients are well aware of the need to prioritise the health of the public and are supportive of any measures that help control the virus. Ultimately, their businesses in the long term depend upon the virus being brought under control. However, while they have been supportive of other decisions made by government, including in relation to social distancing and other measures to protect the safety of their patrons, they fail to see the logic behind the arbitrary decision for all venues to close at 10pm".

Confirming its support for Joseph's legal case, Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, added: "The implementation of the 10pm curfew and further restrictions on the sector has had a catastrophic impact on business levels, resulting in thousands of businesses making the difficult decision to close the doors, or make staff redundant. The decision to implement a curfew makes no sense and has no published scientific or medical foundation to reduce transmission rates. If anything, it is counterproductive, with thousands leaving hospitality venues at 10pm, creating mass gatherings on the street and overcrowding public transport".

"Jeremy and his team at G-A-Y have been long-standing members of the NTIA", he continued. "We are fully supportive of the action he has taken to start pre-action protocol to judicially review the decision by government to implement the national curfew of 10pm on all hospitality sector businesses".

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Music and movie industries' MegaUpload lawsuits postponed yet again
Hey everybody, it's time for the twice-yearly confirmation that the civil lawsuits filed by the music and movie industries in the US courts against the long-defunct MegaUpload company have been postponed again for another six months.

The Recording Industry Association Of America and the Motion Picture Association Of America both sued MegaUpload for damages after the criminal case against the old MegaUpload business and its top team, including founder Kim Dotcom, had begun.

Dotcom et al are accused of copyright crimes and face charges in the American courts. However, the US authorities have been trying to extradite Dotcom and his former colleagues, from New Zealand to the US, ever since they shut down MegaUpload all the way back in 2011.

Those extradition proceedings continue to slowly go through the motions. And while the courts have generally ruled that Dotcom can be extradited, not all routes of appeal have as yet been exhausted.

Given that the civil lawsuits filed by the music and movie industries could interfere with the criminal case, it was agreed years ago that the criminal proceedings should happen first and therefore the civil litigation should be paused while that happens. Although it's possible that legal reps for the music and movie companies didn't realise quite how long that pause would last.

Nevertheless, those legal reps have not opposed recent extensions of the big pause, including the most recent decision to keep their lawsuits on hold until at least April next year. So, I guess, see you next April when the courts push everything back another six months.

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Kanye West settles Ultralight Beam sample dispute
In between his political manoeuvrings and those concurrent attempts to rewrite every record contract ever signed, Kanye West has found time to settle a copyright infringement case that has been lingering in the American courts for a while.

West and his business partners were sued last year over a short spoken word recording that appears at the start of 'Life Of Pablo' track 'Ultralight Beam'. That recording features the voice of a young child in prayer with an adult voice responding. It was sampled from an Instagram video uploaded by the child's mother back in 2016.

West's people did approach the mother, Alice T Johnson, about sampling the audio from her Instagram post. However, in last year's lawsuit, the child's adoptive parents – Andrew and Shirley Green – argued that Johnson didn't actually have the authority to allow the girl's voice to be used in the record. And even if she did, paperwork and payment in relation to the sample that were verbally promised to Johnson never materialised.

There were some other side arguments in the case too, most recently involving the Greens hitting out at West over allegations he was doing everything he could to avoid having to provide a deposition in relation to the copyright dispute.

But last week it was confirmed that the litigation was now at an end after an undisclosed settlement agreement was reached. According to Law360, judge Richard M Gergel confirmed on Friday that he had been informed about the settlement. He then ordered both parties in the case to file a petition for court approval of that settlement within 30 days.

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Ashley Walters signs to Warner Chappell
Warner Chappell has signed a new worldwide publishing deal with Ashley Walters - aka Asher D of So Solid Crew. The agreement covers his back catalogue as well as future works.

"I've been working on a lot of new music recently and have some really exciting projects lined up", says Walters. "Now is a great time to partner with Warner Chappell as I look to collaborate with the best writers and producers around".

Amber Davis, Warner Chappell UK's Head Of A&R, adds: "Ashley is a pioneer of the UK music scene. He inspired and influenced a whole generation of artists and writers, some of whom are on our roster, so it's a huge honour to be able to look after these iconic songs".

"I'm also really looking forward to working with Ashley on his new music", she goes on. "He's got some amazing ideas and I can't wait to see them develop".

Walters released his last album, 'Ashley Walters', in 2009. In recent years, he has become better known as an actor, particularly as the star of the TV series 'Top Boy', alongside fellow rapper Kano.

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Music Venue Trust criticises last minute delay on Cultural Recovery Fund decisions
The UK's Music Venue Trust has expressed concern that the first round of decisions on how Arts Council England's Cultural Recovery Fund will be spent has been postponed by one week.

That fund will distribute a significant portion of the sector-specific COVID funding being provided by the UK government for the cultural and heritage industries. With the new general COVID support schemes in the UK not much use for those live entertainment businesses which - because of ongoing COVID restrictions - are still in full-on shutdown or operating at a fraction of their usual capacity, many such companies are now relying entirely on a CRF grant to stay in business.

Those that had applied for the first round of CRF funding expected to find out today if they had been successful. However, on Friday, Arts Council England told applicants that decisions would now not be revealed until next Monday.

In a statement this weekend, MVT said: "A week delay may seem, at first glance, relatively immaterial, but the previously announced hard deadline of 5pm on Mon 5 Oct for decisions on this essential funding - support which is the mainstay of the government's approach to prevent permanent closures - has resulted in time-limited agreements, both verbal and contractual, between venues and their landlords, breweries, suppliers and staff".

Noting "the difficulty and complexity" of processing applications for the fund, MVT conceded that the one week delay "may have been necessary". However, it added, "it is unfortunate that the need to extend was only able to be notified to applicants with just 72 hours remaining to the decision time and date".

The trade group for grassroots venues went on: "The previous Emergency Grassroots Music Venue Fund - a successful £3.36 million intervention by the Department Of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport delivered by Arts Council England that temporarily prevented 135 grassroots music venues from being immediately and permanently lost - was created to enable the larger Cultural Recovery Fund process to take place. It provided critical support to successful applicant venues until 30 Sep. Those venues, already in very precarious financial situations, now face a further seven days of uncertainty".

MVT also confirmed that it is offering guidance and support to those venues that now have to renegotiate past agreements that were based on having confirmation about a CRF grant application today. It added: "If you are landlord, brewery, supplier or any other creditor with a grassroots music venue who is affected by this delay, and you have concerns, please contact us so we can provide you with assurances about this process and its potential to support grassroots music venues".

Last week MVT said that all of the UK's grassroots venues were now on "red alert" and that the future of said venues is entirely reliant upon the decisions made by the CRF.

Plenty of other music companies are in the same position, unable to utilise the new general COVID schemes and depending on a CRF grant to survive the rest of the year. We will now have to wait another week to discover just how many companies and organisations in the music community will benefit from this sector-specific fund.

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Amazon Music HD partners with Universal and Warner
Amazon has convinced Universal Music and Warner Music to remaster thousands of recordings for its Amazon Music HD service.

Launched a year ago, the Amazon Music HD streaming package costs £5 more than the next tier down and offers users the full Amazon Music catalogue in higher quality audio, plus a portion of that catalogue in an 'ultra high definition' format.

Five million songs are already available in high definition and that collection will now be significantly boosted by these new deals. Select songs will also be remixed for the Dolby Atmos and Sony 360RA 3D audio formats.

"We launched Amazon Music HD last year with a promise to always offer our customers the best quality recording available for streaming", says Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. "With this partnership, we are building upon that promise by upgrading existing recordings to make the listening experience even better, and preserving artistic legacy for future generations".

"We are THRILLED to have the support from Universal Music and Warner Music to deliver key recordings from their catalogues, exclusively for Amazon Music customers", he adds. "We'll continue to work with more labels to upgrade the digital quality of even more audio recordings, and provide customers with all of the emotion, power, clarity, and nuance of original recordings across all genres".

"Amazon Music continues to push the boundaries in sound fidelity and innovation, and we're THRILLED to partner with them to accelerate the availability of our catalogue in the highest quality formats possible and to provide new experiences in immersive audio", adds Michael Nash, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy at Universal Music Group.

"Our announcement today" he then says, "is the next big step in an ongoing partnership and music fans on Amazon Music HD can look forward to incredible new ways to experience the latest releases, as well as their favourite songs from Universal Music Group and our labels".

Kevin Gore, President of Global Catalogue, Recorded Music at Warner Music Group, chips in: "We're always excited about new opportunities for fans to experience music in the highest sound quality available, exactly as the artist intended. With Amazon Music HD ... music lovers are now able to immerse themselves in the original recordings at an unprecedented level of fidelity for a price that had previously been out of range".

"Warner Music is proud to partner with Amazon Music on this initiative", he concludes, "and will continue to deliver groundbreaking new music from the world's greatest artists along with iconic albums and songs from our unparalleled catalogue".

Amazon Music HD is currently available in the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada and Japan.

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Setlist: Travis Scott's thumbs get him into trouble
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including Travis Scott being sued by gaming accessory company KontrolFreek over some (allegedly) dodgy thumbsticks that (allegedly) rip off the company's designs, and why John Lennon's former personal assistant is being sued for speaking publicly about his time as John Lennon's personal assistant.

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Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares issues statement over departure of frontman Burton C Bell
The sole remaining original member of Fear Factory, possibly the sole remaining member of the band full stop - guitarist Dino Cazares - has issued a statement following the departure last week of frontman Burton C Bell. If you were hoping for clear answers as to what the hell is going on, well, at the very least I can promise you that the statement is quite long.

In said statement, posted to the band's Facebook page, Cazares wrote that he was "saddened and surprised" by Bell's announcement that he was quitting the band, saying that "it was not discussed with anyone within the Fear Factory camp, as he has not spoken to anyone for well over a year, which has made communication difficult".

That announcement from Bell suggested that - after a lengthy legal battle with former bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera over ownership of the band's name - things had now soured between him and Cazares too. That had actually already been implied when, earlier in the month, Bell had hit out at a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign set up in the band's name which was raising money to complete work on their latest album.

Saying that he had nothing to do with the fundraising campaign, and that the new album had been complete for more than a year, he accused Cazares of shaking down fans in order to pay off his personal legal fees. Cazares denies that in his new statement, and suggests - as he did in an earlier interview - that Bell is simply angry that he recently became the sole owner of the Fear Factory trademark, having acquired Bell's stake in said mark.

"After a long court battle with the two ex-band members, Burton lost his legal rights to own the name Fear Factory", says Cazares. "I had the opportunity to do something right, and I felt that obtaining the name in full was the right thing to do for the both of us, so after nearly four years, we can continue as Fear Factory, to make more records and to tour. That is why it is sad to hear that he decided to quit and, in my opinion, for whatever issues he has, it seems like it could've been worked out".

"One thing that will be made clear though, and I will reiterate one more time, is the GoFundMe campaign is solely being used to complete the album", he adds. "As I type this, the mixing and mastering of the album has started and we cannot wait for you, the fans, to hear it. And yes, even with Burton's decision to quit Fear Factory, all of his vocals will remain on the album".

With plans to release that album next year and then tour to promote it, Cazares is still hoping to reconcile with Bell, but added that he won't hang around indefinitely. "For now, the door remains open for Burton should he wish to return", he says. "But the door won't stay open forever".

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Logic tells Def Jam to pay his collaborators
Logic has hit out at his label Def Jam for disturbing his dinner. Or at least causing his dinner to be disturbed. The disturbance occurred because the label apparently hasn't paid any of his collaborators for their work on his recent (and final) album.

The recently retired rapper posted a screengrab of a conversation he'd had with musician Kevin Randolph to Instagram on Saturday. In the string of messages, Randolph says that he hasn't "seen a penny from the album or the sessions and that's weird bro".

In a lengthy plea to the Universal Music-owned label, Logic says: "Def Jam, can you please pay my friends and musicians that have made my albums great, this is ridiculous at this point! I shouldn't be getting calls from close friends of mine in the middle of dinner with my wife about how YOU haven't paid them from the budget you've given me for this album".

As well as Randolph, he says that producers 6ix and Like, vocalist Lil Keke, and DJ Rhetorik have also gone as yet unpaid.

"These are just the calls I've received", he says. "I don't even know who else of my friendships you're fuckin up! This has got to be the sixth call I've received. You are ruining personal relationships here. This ain't Noah my A&R, this ain't the core homies on the label that help me make my albums great. This is people deep in the company that I've never even met! Pay these people, what is wrong with you?!"

"I pay all my debts", he adds. "This is not my debt to pay. These are friends, but they are hired musicians and I demand you stop fucking up my personal relationships, what is wrong with you? I'm not trying to start a war with my label. But at this point, it is utterly unfair. I mean, to this day, besides an advance I have never seen a single cent in the eight years I've been signed to this label. But I don't care about that money. I just want my homies paid. What's going on here?!"

He adds that the situation makes him "want to un-retire and drop the last album I have under my contract just so I don't have to deal with y'all no more". Maybe that was the label's sneaky plan all along. Who knows? Def Jam hasn't commented.

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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 consultancy unit 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 Insights 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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