FRIDAY 9 APRIL 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Nike's legal action over Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes has come to an end. And now they've brought Jesus into it too. His shoes, anyway. The creator of the shoes, MSCHF, has agreed to recall all of the Nike trainers it modified to represent Satan and Jesus. Both sides have said that they are "pleased" with the agreement. That's Nike and MSCHF - Satan and Jesus haven't yet commented... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Nike and MSCHF reach settlement over Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes
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LEGAL Viagogo accused of "underhand profiteering" in its home country
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Eliah Seton becomes President of SoundCloud, Cat Kreidich moves up to President of ADA
CTM allies with Outlander on catalogue acquisitions, buys TEN Music's publishing assets
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INDUSTRY PEOPLE Help Musicians to expand Music Minds Matter service as pandemic drives surge in calls
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ARTIST NEWS Official Charts Company announces UK's most popular music of 2021 so far
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ONE LINERS Doja Cat & SZA, Gwen Stefani & Saweetie, Rag N Bone Man & Pink, more
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AND FINALLY... Olly Alexander on going solo with Years & Years: "We didn't fall out, we're all mates"
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Nike and MSCHF reach settlement over Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes
Nike's legal action over Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes has come to an end. And now they've brought Jesus into it too. His shoes, anyway. The creator of the shoes, MSCHF, has agreed to recall all of the Nike trainers it modified to represent Satan and Jesus. Both sides have said that they are "pleased" with the agreement. That's Nike and MSCHF - Satan and Jesus haven't yet commented.

Art collective MSCHF released its Satan Shoes in collaboration with Lil Nas X last month. Limited to 666 pairs, the modified Nike Air Max 97s each had their air soles injected with red ink and (they claim) a single drop of human blood, along with a pentagram hung off their laces. Nike was not best pleased, saying that the shoes - which drew significant public and media attention - were causing "significant confusion and dilution" of its brand in the marketplace.

The issue was that many people assumed that Nike was in on the whole thing, and felt that the brand was promoting Satanism as a result. So many people were upset by the shoes (UPSET BY THE SHOES!) that there were growing calls for a boycott of the brand as a whole.

As well as making it clear that it was not involved with the project, Nike's legal action sought an injunction stopping MSCHF from shipping any trainers it had sold. Unfortunately, the super efficient MSCHF had already sold and shipped 665 pairs before the lawsuit was filed. In the end, Nike only blocked the 666th pair from being given away by Lil Nas X in a competition.

However, in their settlement, MSCHF has agreed that it will recall all the Satan Shoes it sold last month, as well as the similar Jesus Shoes it produced in 2019, and refund their purchasers.

"As part of the settlement, Nike has asked MSCHF, and MSCHF has agreed, to initiate a voluntary recall to buy back any Satan Shoes and Jesus Shoes for their original retail prices, in order to remove them from circulation", says a Nike spokesperson. "If any purchasers were confused, or if they otherwise want to return their shoes, they may do so for a full refund".

"Purchasers who choose not to return their shoes and later encounter a product issue, defect, or health concern should contact MSCHF, not Nike", they added, before concluding: "The parties are pleased to put this dispute behind them".

Quite how many people will return their shoes as a result of the offer they will receive on the back of this settlement is unclear. It's likely to only be a small number, if any at all choose to do so. Although Nike did say in its litigation that there are some consumers who regularly buy up official limited edition Nike trainers, and may have been annoyed to find that the Satan Shoes they spent $1018 buying were not, in fact, an official Nike product.

Either way, regardless of how many returns there now are, Nike is likely "pleased" that its lawsuit prompted widespread media coverage, getting across its message that it had absolutely nothing to do with the Satan Shoes and should not be boycotted over them.

MSCHF is also "pleased" with the outcome. It's unclear what other terms there may be to the settlement - and if any money will be paid to Nike - but the publicity it has received as a result of the sportswear firm's legal action has been incredibly valuable.

In a statement to Law360, MSCHF's attorney David H Bernstein says that his client "was pleased with the settlement", adding that Nike's lawsuit "brought extraordinary publicity to MSCHF and its works of art".

"With these Satan Shoes - which sold out in less than a minute - MSCHF intended to comment on the absurdity of the collaboration culture practised by some brands, and about the perniciousness of intolerance", he goes on. "The 666 shoes - 665 of which were already sold and shipped to collectors before the temporary restraining order hearing last week - were individually-numbered works of art that will continue to represent the ideals of equality and inclusion wherever they are displayed".

Although not a defendant in Nike's lawsuit, Lil Nas X has done well out of all this too. The Satan Shoes were designed to promote his new single 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' - the video for which sees him giving Satan a lapdance. The track went straight to number one in the US last week, aided by the controversy surrounding both the video and the shoes.

This morning on Twitter he joked, "Y'all keep streaming 'Call Me By Your Name' so I can pay for this damn Nike lawsuit".

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Viagogo accused of "underhand profiteering" in its home country
Often controversial secondary ticketing website Viagogo is facing new legal action in the country where it is officially based, that being Switzerland.

The Consumer Protection Foundation in Bern - or the Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz if you prefer - has filed a criminal complaint against the ticket resale site, accusing Viagogo of fraud and unfair business practices.

The Foundation's core allegation is that Viagogo is allowing sellers on its platform to sell tickets for shows that have already been cancelled because of ongoing COVID restrictions.

It says that in January this year it bought tickets for a comedy show in Switzerland itself and a music show in the Netherlands, both of which had already been cancelled at the point the transaction took place.

Subsequent requests for a refund were initially rejected by Viagogo, the Foundation claims, and while it may well ultimately get its money back, that process will likely take several months.

Viagogo, it then claims, is taking advantage of the chaos created by the pandemic - and confusion around different COVID rules in different countries and regions - to sell tickets for events that are not taking place. This, it reckons, is "underhand profiteering that urgently needs to be prohibited".

It's not the first time Viagogo has been targeted with legal action in its home country.

However, when Switzerland's State Secretariat For Economic Affairs went legal over allegations Viagogo was not transparent about its status as a market place for ticket touts, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court dismissed the case. It ruled that Viagogo never claimed to be a primary ticket seller and does not otherwise issue false information about its business model.

Regarding the new allegations from the Consumer Protection Foundation about tickets being sold for already cancelled shows, Viagogo insists that any such sales are a mistake and that affected customers will get a full refund.

However, director of the pan-European campaign against for-profit ticket touting, Sam Shemtob at FEAT, welcomed the move by the Foundation. He told CMU: "It's encouraging to see the Swiss consumer protection body stepping up with a criminal complaint, adding to nearly 60 legal cases and initiatives against secondary ticketing marketplaces that have taken place across Europe in recent years".

Noting that proposed legal reforms in the European Union could further hinder Viagogo's frequently criticised operations in the years ahead, Shemtob added: "While Viagogo does its best to flout national regulations, even closing European offices and 'moving' to Switzerland, regulators are catching up. The proposal for the upcoming Digital Services Act promises to close many of Viagogo's favourite loopholes, including its efforts to evade EU law by being based 'just outside'".

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Eliah Seton becomes President of SoundCloud, Cat Kreidich moves up to President of ADA
Warner Music's President Of Independent Music & Creator Services has exited the major after more than a decade to take up the role of President at SoundCloud. His departure means that Warner's label services division ADA Worldwide needs a new President, and that role will be filled by Cat Kreidich, who is promoted from her current job of EVP.

During his time at Warner, Seton played a key role in the expansion of the major's label and artist services business. SoundCloud, of course, has refocused its efforts on its creator services in recent years, and running and developing that side of its business, including the RePost service, will be a key part of Seton's new job. He will also be involved in content partnerships, business development and possible acquisitions.

Announcing the appointment, Seton's new boss - SoundCloud CEO Michael Weissman - said yesterday: "Eliah's passion for music and his innovative spirit combined with his deep industry experience in delivering world class services to the global music community is exactly the expertise and mindset that will help transform SoundCloud into the leading music entertainment company".

"I couldn't be more excited to work with Eliah", he went on, "an extraordinarily skilled business executive and wonderful person, to forge our company's strategic path, deepen our artist and industry relationships, and create even more opportunities for artists to grow and earn throughout their careers on SoundCloud".

Seton himself added: "I am so excited to partner with Mike and the team in helping to lead the future of this iconic business. SoundCloud has always been on the cutting edge of innovation and is simply the gold standard for independence in music. The possibilities for SoundCloud and for artists, labels and entrepreneurs everywhere are endless, and I am proud to join this extraordinary team and community".

Back at Warner, it was confirmed that Kreidich would become President of the major's ADA business. She only took on her current EVP role at ADA late last year, that appointment being officially announced just last month. She was previously Director of Digital Sales & Marketing at the Warner division from 2007 to 2011, before moving to Sony Music, initially in its label services division The Orchard.

Announcing the promotion, CEO of Warner Recorded Music Max Lousada said: "At Warner, we're strengthening how we serve original artists and entrepreneurs at every stage of career development. As part of that mission, ADA is a beacon of expertise and support for independent artists and independent labels around the world. In the short time since Cat's return to ADA, she's already inspired everyone with her passion and creativity, her deep devotion to the indie community, and her wide-ranging global expertise. She's the ideal choice to lead ADA into the future".

Commenting on Seton's departure, he went on: "I'd also like to say a massive thanks to Eliah for his commitment to the evolution of ADA into the world leader that it is today. Throughout his time at WMG, he's helped guide the company through many transformational moments. He's done an amazing job and he leaves with our deepest gratitude and support".

Kreidich also bigged up Seton when commenting on her new job, saying: "Championing the indie community is in my blood; it's what has guided my career over the last two decades, and I'm honoured to shape the future of this space with a powerhouse like ADA. Building on the great foundation and world-class teams that Eliah has put in place, I'm focused on leaning into our insights to find new and disruptive ways to magnify the visions of music-makers and creators across the globe. I want to thank Max for this great opportunity".

And reciprocating all that praise was Seton, who chipped in one more time to say this of his successor at ADA: "Cat's an absolute superstar. I'm so happy to welcome her into this critical role for WMG's future, and I'll be cheering her on as she takes the company to even greater heights. It's a bittersweet moment as I leave my Warner family, full of gratitude and pride in all that we've accomplished together, but I look forward to what's ahead".

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CTM allies with Outlander on catalogue acquisitions, buys TEN Music's publishing assets
Independent music rights firm CTM has announced a new strategic alliance with Dallas-based investment fund Outlander Capital Management, which will see the two companies buy up song and recording right catalogues via their joint venture CTM Outlander Music.

That new venture intends to invest a neat billion dollars into music rights over the next five years. It will also seek to acquire other rights from the music community that allow "holographic performances and the issuance of non-fungible tokens", both of which are also a focus for Outlander.

CTM Outlander Music's first catalogue acquisition is already in the bag: they have acquired the songs catalogue of Swedish music company the TEN Music Group. That includes songs made famous by the likes of Rihanna, Shakira, Panic! At the Disco, and Zara Larsson.

Commenting on all this, CTM boss André de Raaff says: "We are THRILLED about our relationship with Outlander and its principals' proven investment savvy, and look forward to many profitable acquisitions".

Meanwhile, Outlander's Les Ware adds: "We have been managing intellectual property for the past 30 years and believe that the time has come to bring our expertise to bear on the music industry. Technology is changing the music market very rapidly and we have the deep expertise necessary to navigate and profit from these changes".

On the first deal for CTM Outlander Music, Ware goes on: "The TEN acquisition fits our strategic goals and serves as a robust foundation for our fund's music acquisitions. In cooperation with André we trust that this is the first of many, many purchases".

And TEN Music Group founder Ola Håkansson says: "We are convinced that the new partnership between Outlander and CTM, together with André and CTM's longstanding experience and reputation in music publishing, will provide a great new home for TEN's publishing catalogue".

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Help Musicians to expand Music Minds Matter service as pandemic drives surge in calls
Help Musicians has announced plans to expand its Music Minds Matter mental health support service. The music charity says that it has already seen calls to that service increase by 65% since the start of the year.

A key driver of those calls over the last three months has been financial anxiety and uncertainty about the future. A survey of musicians carried out by the charity also shows that 87% have seen their mental health worsen during the pandemic.

As well as the existing 24/7 Music Minds Matter phoneline launched by Help Musicians in 2017, its plans to expand the service include the launch of a national network of local support groups offering all those working in music the ability to meet together. It will also seek to signpost the best and most relevant advice and support for music-makers and music industry people if and when they need it.

"Music is beneficial to everybody's mental wellbeing, yet those who work in music seem to struggle more than most with their own mental health", says Help Musicians chief exec James Ainscough.

"The pandemic has amplified this paradox", he goes on. "Music Minds Matter will become a collaborative mental wellbeing resource for the entire music industry, to help those who are struggling and to transform the ability of all those working in music to proactively maintain their wellbeing. Working together, spotlighting all that is valuable whoever the provider, the music industry can embed lasting change and become a leader in caring for the mental health of its people".

Record industry collecting society PPL has already offered a three year funding package worth £300,000, to ensure that more musicians accessing the Music Minds Matter service can be referred to one-to-one counselling and therapeutic support. Help Musicians says that it is hoping to open this up more widely to anyone working in music.

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Official Charts Company announces UK's most popular music of 2021 so far
The BPI revealed yesterday that British people have been listening to more music to get them through lockdown. Now the Official Charts Company has revealed the most popular singles and albums of 2021 so far. OK, the BPI research doesn't technically cover that period, but, I don't know if you've noticed, we have been in a pretty much full-on lockdown - more or less - since the beginning of the year, so I think conflating those two things is fine.

Hey, also, before you get all arsey, Dua Lipa's 'Future Nostalgia' is the most popular album, which was the big lockdown release last year, and was the UK's third biggest album of 2020. These are definitely lockdown charts! Yes! Let's all talk about lockdown some more!

Actually, no, maybe you're right. Let's just talk about the music. People don't want to hear about lockdown, they're just interested in the music. They're listening to music to forget about the lockdown, after all (or that's what the BPI research said)! Hey, did you know that there's been a new number one album every week this year so far? That's a whole lot of music to take your mind off lockdown with. Let's talk about it for a while.

After Dua Lipa, Foo Fighter's 'Medicine At Midnight' comes in as the second most popular album of the year so far, with Harry Styles' 'Fine Line' in third and Pop Smoke's 'Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon' in fourth. Which young upstart completes the top five? Why it's Queen, of course, with their classic album, 'Greatest Hits'.

What about singles though? Well, I think it will be of no surprise to anyone at all that Olivia Rodrigo's 'Drivers License' is the UK's most popular track of 2021 so far. But would it shock you to know that the dance remix of sea shanty 'Wellerman' was at number two? No, probably not. Can you guess number three though? Wrong! 'Blinding Lights' by The Weeknd is at number five. Bad luck. Two weeks extra lockdown for you.

"While so much of life feels as it if has ground to a halt during lockdown, it really has been a great start to 2021 for music", says Official Charts Company chief exec Martin Talbot. "The constant flow of new releases has ensured we have seen a new official number one album in every week of the year so far, driven by sales of CD and vinyl, and such a broad range of artists and music types too, from Lana Del Rey and Barry Gibb to Foo Fighters and Slowthai. What a fantastically promising start to the year!"

Right, how about we look at the top tens, eh? I mean, there are whole top 40 lists, but I'm not about to start putting those into a usable format just for you. You can look at all the singles here and albums here, if you want. Or below are the top tens, which you should be both happy with and grateful for.

UK's most popular singles - Q1 2021

  1. Olivia Rodrigo - Drivers License
  2. Nathan Evans - Wellerman (220kid x Billen Ted Remix)
  3. Kid Laroi - Without You
  4. Tiesto - The Business
  5. The Weeknd - Blinding Lights
  6. Anne-Marie - Don't Play (feat KSI and Digital Farm Animals)
  7. Joel Corey - Head & Heart (feat MNEK)
  8. Meduza - Paradise (feat Dermot Kennedy)
  9. Shane Codd - Get Out Of My Head
  10. Little Mix - Sweet Melody

UK's most popular albums - Q1 2021

  1. Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia
  2. Foo Fighters - Medicine At Midnight
  3. Harry Styles - Fine Line
  4. Pop Smoke - Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon
  5. Queen - Greatest Hits
  6. Lewis Capaldi - Divinely Uninspired To Hellish Extent
  7. Taylor Swift - Evermore
  8. Fleetwood Mac - 50 Years - Don't Stop
  9. Ed Sheeran - Divide
  10. Celeste - Not Your Muse

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DEALS

Universal Music Publishing has signed Chi Chi, real name Chidi Osondu, to a global deal. "I've been working hard for a while now and have been able to make great strides", says the producer. "I am excited to get started with my new supportive team at UMPG and create history one record at a time".

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APPOINTMENTS

Production music firm Alibi Music has promoted Paul Ortiz to Music Director. "I've been super lucky to fall in with such a nice bunch of talented, hardworking and supportive people", he says. "Dare I say, it's kept me - mostly - sane, especially this past year. I'm really thankful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing to grow the company alongside its excellent staff".

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RELEASES

Doja Cat and SZA have released a new single together, 'Kiss Me More'.

Gwen Stefani has released a new version of her recent singl Slow Clap', featuring Saweetie.

Rag N Bone Man has released new single, 'Anywhere Away From Here', featuring Pink. "This song is an honest reflection of wanting to disappear from uncomfortable situations - about the vulnerabilities that we all face", he says. "It’'s an honour to have Pink on this record and I'm so glad she is able to be a part of it".

Previously unreleased Prince album 'Welcome 2 America' is set for release on 30 Jul. Here's the title track.

Paul Weller has released 'Shades Of Blue', the first single from his new album 'Fat Pop (Volume 1)'. The song features Weller's daughter Leah, who also co-wrote the track. The album is out on 14 May.

Mooski has released the video for his single 'Track Star'.

Japanese Breakfast has released new single 'Posing In Bondage'.

Ya Tseen has released new single 'Synthetic Gods', featuring Shabazz Palaces and Stas Thee Boss.

Wesley Gonzales has released new single 'Change Your Circumstance'. "The song was written about my friend expecting a baby", he says. "It freaked me out, to be honest. He'd asked me to be godfather and I found it scarily grown up. The verses are more directed at myself and questioning whether I even want any traditional grown-up role in life, or asking how someone could feel mentally stable enough to ever bring a child into a world I felt such resentment for".

Moodoïd has released new single 'Only One Man', featuring Melody's Echo Chamber.

Charlotte Adigéry has released the video for recent single 'Bear With Me (And I'll Stand Bare Before You)'.

MJ Hibbett and Frankie Machine have released new album 'The Swingin Sounds Of 60s Marvel'. As you may have deduced, it's a collection of covers of theme tunes from 60s Marvel cartoons, like Spider-Man, Batman and Mighty Mouse.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Olly Alexander on going solo with Years & Years: "We didn't fall out, we're all mates"
Years and years ago a band formed. They called themselves Years & Years. But then last month they announced that they weren't a band anymore. Was that the end? No. Sit comfortably, dear reader, for this is the story of how Years & Years became an Olly Alexander solo project...

"Yeah, so, I'll tell you kinda the honest truth of what happened ... me, Mikey and Emre met, like, ten years ago, right", Alexander tells Capital FM. "We've been in this band for a decade, and in that time, we've just kinda grown apart musically, right? We kind of stopped making music together, and when we announced that I was going to be Olly Years & Years, it had kind of like been a long time coming, if that makes sense".

"We all got into a new way of living our lives and working together quite separately", he goes on. "Then after the pandemic, I feel like we had all this time to really reflect on what was going on and it made sense that we kind of went our separate ways. I've been writing all the songs for this new album, and Emre's working on other stuff, he's got his family to raise and so it's just an honest thing. We didn't fall out - we're all mates and stuff - so it's definitely different but I'm really excited as well to kind of do my thing this time".

Yes, OK, that all makes sense, but why not just lay Years & Years to rest and simply perform as Olly Alexander? He explains: "Do you know what, I did think about that, and we actually did talk about it too. But, for me, I love Years & Years and these songs that I've written like ten years ago, some of them, I don't want to let them go, I wanna still do it, so ... it just felt right to stay as Years & Years, I think".

So there you have it. It's not a complete split, of course. While Emre Türkmen has left the group entirely, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy will continue to perform at Years & Years live shows. But in terms of recording and fronting the project, Alexander is now definitely going it alone.

Alexander, by the way, was on the God damn radio to promote the first Years & Years single since the announcement of the restructuring of the project, that being 'Starstruck'.

Commenting on the track in a press statement, he says: "[The song] came together one night at a studio in the countryside outside of London. I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen so many stars, you get used to them not being there when you live in the city".

"Since we've all had to stop, all I've wanted to do is go out and dance", he goes on. "So I've been putting all that pent up energy into the music. 'Starstruck' is about the rush you get when you're with somebody you're really into, it's about holding onto a good feeling and not letting it go".

"Like most of us, I've spent the past year at home, and I wanted to create something super positive and fun for people - and myself - to bop along too. Whatever we're doing or wherever we are in life, I think we all deserve three minutes of interstellar ecstasy".

Yeah, you thought he was going to say it was all about looking at the stars and being struck by the scale of the universe, or something, didn't you? Classic red herring there. It's true though, London is shit.

Anyway, listen to 'Starstruck' here.

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN

 
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.
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