TODAY'S TOP STORY: An appeals court in New York has upheld a summary judgement that favoured Dr Luke in his ongoing defamation legal battle with Kesha. In particular, judges confirmed that Luke - despite being a very successful and well known record producer and label owner - is not a "public figure", which has a significant impact on cases of this kind... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES New York appeals court confirms Dr Luke is not a "public figure" in Kesha defamation case
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Relentless launches new dance imprint 21NHG
Skream announces new label IFEEL
LIVE BUSINESS LIVE appoints Chris Carey as Chief Economist
MEDIA Radio 1 launches relaxation channel in BBC Sounds app
ARTIST NEWS Bay City Rollers' Les McKeown dies
ONE LINERS Driift, The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, Saweetie, more
AND FINALLY... BTS become ambassadors for Louis Vuitton
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New York appeals court confirms Dr Luke is not a "public figure" in Kesha defamation case
An appeals court in New York has upheld a summary judgement that favoured Dr Luke in his ongoing defamation legal battle with Kesha. In particular, judges confirmed that Luke - despite being a very successful and well known record producer and label owner - is not a "public figure", which has a significant impact on cases of this kind.

This defamation action is all that remains of a long-running, multi-layered and quite complicated legal battle between Luke and Kesha. That entire legal battle centred on Kesha's allegation of rape against her long-time producer and collaborator. He denies that allegation, and alleges that she only made that claim in a bid to force his hand in contract negotiations. Hence the claim of defamation and the one lawsuit in this legal battle that is still going through the motions.

In February 2020 the judge overseeing the case considered requests from both sides for summary judgements. Although not ruling on the central rape allegation, which the judge said must go before a jury, a summary judgement was made on some of the side issues, all in Luke's favour.

That judgement included the decision that Luke is not a public figure. This is important because under the relevant laws in this case, a public figure must prove that a person accused of defamation showed actual malice when they made their damaging untrue statement, whereas a private figure only needs to prove negligence. That's a lower burden of proof that would make it easier for Luke to win his case.

Kesha's side appealed that ruling. But the majority opinion in the appeals court backed up the decision made in the lower court. There are actually two categories of public figure to consider here: a general-purpose public figure who is generally considered to be famous, and a limited-purpose public figure who - although not technically famous - has prominence in a particular field relevant to the case, or who voluntarily got involved in a controversy that is relevant to the case.

The appeal judges concluded that Luke is not a "household name" and therefore not a general-purpose public figure.

To be considered a "limited-purpose public figure", they then state stated, Luke "must have: (1) successfully invited public attention to his views in an effort to influence others prior to the incident in question, (2) voluntarily injected himself into a public controversy related to the subject of the current litigation, (3) assumed a position of prominence in the public controversy, and (4) maintained a regular and continuing access to the media to influence the outcome of the public controversy".

However, Luke "cannot be found to be a limited-purpose public figure because he has not done any of these things. Although [the producer] has sought publicity for his label, his music and his artists - none of which are subject of the defamation here - he never injected himself into the public debate about sexual assault or abuse of artists in the entertainment industry. [He] has only spoken out once regarding this litigation, on Twitter in 2016, and has limited his involvement to what was necessary to defend himself".

The decision is a setback for the Kesha side in the ongoing defamation action, but also a cause for concern with the US news industry. A number of news organisations filed a so called amicus brief in support of Kesha's arguments regarding Luke's public figure status, concerned about the precedent being set here on future defamation proceedings.

It's worth noting that there was a dissenting minority opinion in the appeals court, with judge Saliann Scarpulla reckoning that Luke actually qualifies for both general-purpose and limited-purpose public figure status.

"The majority acknowledges that Dr Luke is an acclaimed music producer but posits that he is not a general-purpose public figure because he is not a 'household name'", Scarpulla wrote. "Dr Luke, however, has achieved a level of fame and notoriety sufficient to be considered a general-purpose public figure. He is a household name to those that matter. For this reason, he should be considered a general-purpose public figure in connection with analysing the alleged defamatory statements at issue".

Even if you disagree, Scarpulla added, there is a case for making Luke a limited-purpose public figure too. "Dr Luke argues, and the majority accepts, that Dr Luke is not a limited-purpose public figure because he never sought out publicity or spoke publicity about Kesha's allegations of sexual assault or on the issue of sexual assault", she stated.

"That Dr Luke has not spoken publicly about Kesha's allegations of sexual assault is not surprising, is not relevant, and does not preclude a finding that he is a limited-purpose public figure. The definition of [a] limited-purpose public figure is not so cramped as to only include individuals and entities that purposefully speak about the specific, narrow topic (in this case a protege's sexual assault) upon which the defamation claim is based".

"The public controversy at issue here is a self-promoting, powerful music industry person's use of his financial leverage over a person whose career he controls to allegedly commit an unpunished sexual assault. Dr Luke is a limited purpose public figure because he has purposefully and continuously publicised and promoted his business relationships with young, female music artists, like Kesha, to continue to attract publicity for himself and new talent for his label".

She concluded: "The allegedly defamatory statements at issue - that Dr Luke drugged and sexually assaulted Kesha when she was a teenage artist, who was signed to an exclusive contract with his record label - directly relate to Dr Luke's self-publicised professional and personal relationships with his clients, his integrity in business practices, and in attracting new talent".

Although this ruling is another setback for the Kesha side, her lawyers have already employed another possible tactic that could still require the Luke side to have to show actual malice to hold her liable for defamation.

That involves employing new anti-SLAPP laws recently introduced in New York state. Such laws seek to stop parties from using litigation of one kind or another to primarily silence the defendants in those lawsuits, a practice that can breach free speech rights under the First Amendment of the US constitution.

Under the new anti-SLAPP laws, the requirement to prove actual malice in a defamation case can actually be applied to a non-public figure if the allegedly defamatory statement relates to issues of public concern.

It remains to be seen if Kesha's lawyers can successfully use those new laws to increase the burden of proof faced by Luke when this long-running litigation finally gets before a jury later this year.


Relentless launches new dance imprint 21NHG
The Sony-allied Relentless Records has announced the launch of a new dance music-centric imprint called 21NHG which has a first release already on the streaming services - 'Deeper' by Leftwing:Kody, featuring Darla Jane - and two other signings confirmed: Ejeca and Higgo.

The new venture will see Relentless collaborate with the London venue co-owned by the label's founder, Shabs Jobanputra, that being the Notting Hill Arts Club, which you will find at 21 Notting Hill Gate (or 21NHG if you're short on time).

They say of the new imprint: "The teams behind Relentless and Notting Hill Arts Club will use their extensive background of supporting artists, with a strong focus on amplifying the next generation of UK and global talent in the dance and electronic genre".

Relentless Records MD Ben Coates adds: "21NHG is a natural progression, building on what has already been a very successful few years for the label. Our aim is simple - to sign and develop the best dance and electronic talent and release fantastic records. The journey begins today with Leftwing:Kody, and our new signings Ejeca and Higgo in the coming weeks".

Commenting on working with 21NHG, Leftwing:Kody say: "It was great working on this record with Darla, the song came together really naturally, and we are excited to get this released with the 21NHG team for their debut release".


Skream announces new label IFEEL
Skream has launched a new label called IFEEL, in partnership with Sony Music's The Orchard.

The producer says he plans to put out an eclectic mix of his own music through the label, involving a wide range of collaborators. The first release will be new a track called 'Chesters Groove', which will come backed by two remixes from Berghain resident Norman Nodge. Digital artist INSA will also be overseeing the label's artwork and its overall visual identity.

"I wanted to create a label solely for my own productions, in any genre I feel like", he says. "I want to bring in musical artists from across all genres that I really admire. I am especially proud that INSA is part of IFEEL and that Norman is joining me on the debut release".

'Chesters Groove' will be out on 21 May.


LIVE appoints Chris Carey as Chief Economist
The newish trade group for the wider UK live music sector, LIVE, has announced the appointment of Chris Carey as its Chief Economist. He will also continue in his existing position as Head Of International Marketing at TicketSwap.

"Data and research has underpinned much of LIVE's conversations with government – and its successes – to date, so the board is THRILLED that Chris will be continuing this vital work in a more formal capacity", says LIVE CEO Greg Parmley.

Carey adds: "I'm very proud to be joining the LIVE team at this critical time. I have always been passionate about the UK live music sector and about the people who work all hours to make gigs and festivals happen. As the live music industry moves from crisis to reopening, I'll be working closely with members to make sure there is a strong analytical foundation to help underpin a speedy, sustainable recovery".

Last year, Carey co-authored two reports for LIVE, including 'UK Live Music: At A Cliff Edge', which warned that nearly 170,000 jobs in the live industry were at risk of being lost without further government support.

As well as running his own consultancy business, Media Insight Consulting, for a number of years, Carey has previously held roles at EMI, Universal Music and PRS For Music.

Alongside Carey's appointment, LIVE yesterday also announced the launch of some new sub-committees, LIVE Touring, LIVE Venues and LIVE Green, to focus on specific issues facing the industry. A fourth sub-committee - focussed on equality, diversity and inclusivity - is set to launch next month.


Radio 1 launches relaxation channel in BBC Sounds app
Following the launch of the Radio 1 Dance stream on the BBC Sounds app last year, the BBC station has now launched Radio 1 Relax. As the name suggests, this new stream aims to help listeners to chill the fuck out.

Like Radio 1 Dance, Radio 1 Relax pulls together existing content rather than creating anything new, and will simulcast some shows with the main Radio 1 station.

That includes programmes that simple curate relaxing music, plus wellbeing-centred editorial, such as the 'Motivate Me Mix', where celebs offer advice and techniques on "how to build and maintain mental fitness to weather difficult times". Some of this content, while not new, has only previously been available as on-demand programmes, not as part of a linear stream.

By pulling all of this together in one place, listeners can get motivated first thing in the morning, stay calm and focussed throughout the day, wind down in the evening, and then be soothed to sleep come bedtime. That's the theory, anyway.

"The challenges of the last year have meant more young people than ever are seeking out content centred around wellbeing and relaxation", says Head Of Radio 1, Aled Haydn Jones. "The titles we've launched during the past twelve months with that in mind have proved incredibly popular, so I'm pleased we're able to put it all into one stream on BBC Sounds, making it as easy as possible for our audience to find and enjoy".

Deirdre Kehoe, Director Of Training And Services at mental health charity YoungMinds, adds: "The past year has been incredibly challenging for lots of young people. Many have told us that they've struggled to cope with the changes and loss of coping mechanisms brought on by the pandemic, and have experienced social isolation, anxiety, and fears around their future".

"We welcome Radio 1's focus on creating content that supports young people's mental health and helps them unwind", she goes on. "Advice about how to look after yourself during difficult times, as well as tips on mindfulness and meditation, can be helpful for some young people when they feel overwhelmed or anxious, and we hope that this is of benefit to them at this time".

When Radio 1 Dance was announced last year, Tory MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Commercial Radio, Andy Carter, kicked up a fuss. He complained to media regulator OfCom that he didn't see how the new dance channel served any public service remit and that he was concerned the BBC was using the little scrutinised BBC Sounds app to increasingly compete head-on with commercial radio services.

However, OfCom said that it did not believe that Radio 1 Dance posed a threat to commercial radio, in part because it simply repurposed existing content. That said, it did say that it planned to investigate the market position of the BBC Sounds app, its development, and its affect on commercial operations.

Whether any objections will be raised to the new relaxation channel remains to be seen, although it will be harder to argue that this one isn't fulfilling the BBC's public service remit.


CMU+TGE 2021: Thursday's Keynote In Conversations
The Great Escape Online is taking place on 13 and 14 May, with a packed conference programme of interviews, webinars, briefings and debates, both on-demand and live, as well as networking opportunities galore within a bespoke online conference platform.

As well as curating three strands of briefings and panel discussions, CMU is also presenting a number of keynote in conversations this year. These are in-depth 25 minute interviews with industry leaders, talking through their respective careers to date, getting the lowdown on their current roles and projects, and discussing some of the key challenges and opportunities in music and media in 2021.

There will be three keynote in conversations on the first day of TGE Online, Thursday 13 May.

At midday, we'll be joined by Wendy Ong and her colleague Anna Neville from TaP Music. Ong oversees TaP's US-related activities for a diverse roster of artists, including Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding and Hailee Steinfeld. Prior to joining the label and management company, she previously held senior marketing roles at major labels like Interscope and Arista, and well as having a stint as CMO at Roc Nation.

At 12.30pm we'll be talking to the BBC's Controller Of Pop, Lorna Clarke. She will discuss her 30 year career in radio and her current role overseeing the broadcaster's five pop music radio networks as well as pop music output across BBC TV and online.

And finally, at 5pm we will be in conversation with Merck Mercuriadis, veteran artist manager and founder and CEO of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund. Through Hipgnosis, Merck has single-handedly changed the narrative of the global music rights industry, of course, having signed numerous headline-grabbing deals with artists and songwriters like Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, The Chainsmokers, Timbaland, Dave Stewart, Fraser T Smith, Johnny McDaid and Mark Ronson.

To access all the In Conversation sessions, all the CMU+TGE panels, and all the other content and events happening as part of TGE Online this year, get yourself a delegate pass here.


Bay City Rollers' Les McKeown dies
Les McKeown, vocalist of the Bay City Rollers, has died. He was 65.

In a statement, his family said: "It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown. Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday 20 Apr 2021. We are currently making arrangements for his funeral and ask for privacy after the shock of our profound loss".

McKeown replaced original Bay City Rollers singer Gordon Clark in 1973. The band had already had a couple of hits, but enjoyed their most successful period with McKeown out front. With him they released singles including 'Shang-a-Lang', 'Summerlove Sensation', 'Give A Little Love' and their cover of The Sensations' 'Bye Bye Baby'.

The band enjoyed success in the US as well as the UK, but by the end of the 70s their popularity had begun to wane and McKeown left the band. They changed their musical direction and began performing as The Rollers, releasing three unsuccessful albums. McKeown rejoined for 1985 reunion record 'Breakout', though that didn't chart either and became the band's final album.

McKeown subsequently rejoined the band for reunion shows a number of times, and continued to perform as Les McKeown's Bay City Rollers - a tour with whom was planned for later this year. And alongside his stints with the band, he released nine solo albums, including his final record, 2016's 'The Lost Songs', which was made up of new recordings of previously unreleased songs that he had written in the 1970s.

He was also involved in a long-running legal dispute with Sony Music over royalties, which resulted in an out-of-court settlement in 2016.



Livestreaming company Driift has hired Sasha Duncan as Head Of Production. Her previous credits include managing production teams for the BBC at events including Glastonbury Festival, Reading Festival and the Mercury Prize. "Sasha's track record speaks for itself", says CEO Ric Salmon. "She is one of the most respected figures in music TV, with vast experience of translating excitement from the biggest live shows and festivals into hugely successful broadcast events".



The Weeknd has released a new remix of 'Save Your Tears', featuring Ariana Grande.

Saweetie has released a remix of her Doja Cat collaboration 'Best Friend', featuring K-pop singer Jamie and Japanese rapper Chanmina. This follows a version with British MC Stefflon Don and another with rappers JessB and Okenyo from New Zealand and Australia.

Rich The Kid has released new track 'Richard Mille Patek'.

The Chemical Brothers have released new track 'The Darkness That You Fear'. The duo's Tom Rowlands describes it as "a hopeful piece of music", adding: "When we found the combination of the different voices worked set to the flow of the music, it made us feel optimistic - like it was something we wanted to share".

Pharrell Williams features on new Moneybagg Yo track 'Certified Neptune'.

RZA will return in his Bobby Digital guise with new album 'Digital Potions' later this year - his first album under the name since 2008. Here's new single 'Pugilism'.

Sparks and Todd Rundgren have released new track 'Your Fandango'. It's the first time they've worked together since 1971, when Rundgren produced Sparks' debut album 'Halfnelson'.

John Grant has released new single 'Rhetorical Figure'. "This is a song about my love of language and rhetorical figures and what a turn-on it is when someone wields language in a very capable manner", he says. He's also announced UK tour dates in September.

Wiki and NAH have announced a new collaborative album, 'Telephonebooth', which is out on 7 May. Here's new single 'Hip Hop'.

Iceage have released new single 'Gold City'. They've also announced a livestream on 22 May to mark the release of new album 'Seek Shelter', and actual physical shows in the UK in March next year.

Elkka has released new single 'Alexandra', from her new EP 'Euphoric Melodies', which is out on 21 Apr.

Church & AP have released new single 'ON!ON!ON!', taken from their new album 'At Thy Feet', which is out on 7 May.

Sophia Kennedy has released new single 'I'm Looking Up'. "The song is an attempt to somehow describe the heavy feeling of loss and grief", she says. "When you lose someone you are suddenly exposed to a new form of reality, it comes crashing in your life without a warning and makes you question your own existence". Her new album, 'Monsters', is out on 7 May.

Latanya Alberto has released new single 'Get It Right'. "How many people are truly unapologetically themselves?" she asks. "This means being honest with yourself, being confident in your decisions, being prepared to walk away to remain in a position of dignity. The song emphasises the journey back to that stage".

Omega Sapien has released new single 'ChromeHeartsRing', featuring Lil Cherry.

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


BTS become ambassadors for Louis Vuitton
BTS have announced their second brand partnership of the week. Yes, very soon, fans of the K-pop group will surely be stuffing their Louis Vuitton bags full of McDonald's french fries. Because those are the two brands with which partnerships have been struck. Yes, that's right, BTS are now Louis Vuitton ambassadors.

Artistic Director at the luxury brand, Virgil Abloh, says of the news: "I am delighted BTS are joining Louis Vuitton. I am looking forward to this wonderful partnership which adds a modern chapter to the house, merging luxury and contemporary culture. I can't wait to share all the very exciting projects we are working on".

Yeah, they're already working on projects. BTS won't just be wandering around, casually mentioning how much they like Louis Vuitton stuff. They'll apparently also be inputting their own ideas for products, and wearing outfits styled for them by Abloh himself.

In fact, you may already have seen some of Abloh's work with the band. They all turned up to the Grammy Awards in Louis Vuitton suits last month. Turns out that wasn't just a weird coincidence.

For their part, BTS say of the deal: "Becoming global brand ambassadors for Louis Vuitton is a truly exciting moment for us".

You might think that's a bit of a brief statement, but remember they didn't actually say anything at all about their new McDonald's meal. Although their label did insist that the band all have "great memories with McDonald's". No word on their memories of Louis Vuitton as yet.


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. (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. (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. 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.
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