|THURSDAY 1 JULY 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A total of 22 MPs have signed an early day motion in Parliament calling on the UK government to introduce a number of measures to help the music industry get back on its feet as COVID regulations slowly start to lift... [READ MORE]|
|Expand your knowledge about the inner workings of the music business, best practice across the music industry, and all the latest trends and developments, with CMU's weekly webinars.
Taking place every Tuesday afternoon at 2.30pm London time, these one hour online training sessions are delivered by CMU's Chris Cooke.
Each webinar presents timely and easy-to-understand insights about a different music business topic, with plenty of opportunity to ask questions.
Attendees can also access online resources - including downloadable slides - and a recording of the webinar available for a month after the live session.
BOOK NOW at special rates - access to each individual webinar is just £25, plus there are additional discounts if you book into multiple sessions.
22 MPs sign early day motion calling for more support from the UK government for the COVID hit music community
MPs from the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, SNP and other parties have now signed the motion, which begins by noting the recent delay in moving to stage four of the government's COVID roadmap which would allow full-capacity gigs and concerts to return.
It then also notes that "many music businesses and freelance workers have been without work since March 2020 and that, in 2020, 70% of musicians lost over three quarters of their work due to COVID-19 restrictions". It then says that signatories to the motion believe that "the COVID-19 outbreak presents a profound challenge to music businesses and music workers in the UK's world-leading music sector" and "that those workers and businesses are a national asset who will be critical to the [post-COVID] recovery".
With all that in mind the motion makes five demands. That includes that previous COVID support schemes, many of which become less substantial as of today, are extended in line with the further delays in moving to stage four. And also another call for ministers to establish a state-backed cancellation insurance scheme, to allow larger events due to take place later this year to continue with their event planning despite risks COVID restrictions could as yet further extend.
Other demands include that there is parity across the UK when it comes to business rates relief, where English businesses are currently at a disadvantage; that ministers agree to continue the discounted 5% VAT rate on tickets beyond September; and that additional support be made available for freelancers.
Early day motions are rarely debated in Parliament itself, but it's a simple way for MPs to formally support certain proposals and to put further pressure on ministers to act on specific issues.
Welcoming this motion, the boss of cross sector trade group UK Music, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, said this morning: "It's welcome to see support for the UK music industry from MPs right across the political spectrum. Now it's vital that this cross-party support is converted into action by government".
"We are determined to play our part in helping drive the post-pandemic recovery and want to see live music events back as soon as possible", he added. "With the right support from the government, the music industry can get back on its feet and deliver a summer of live music and create thousands of jobs".
Among those signing the motion are Labour MP Kevin Brennan, also a member of Parliament's culture select committee; Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone, also his party's culture spokesperson; and Conservative MP David Warburton, also chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Music.
The latter said: "I'm acutely aware of how challenging this pandemic has been for musicians and the broader music industry – and this situation has only been made worse by the delay to the COVID roadmap. I'm delighted that the government has ... extended the ban on commercial evictions and supported many music venues, but more support is urgently needed to match the extension of restrictions. Our excellent music industry is national asset and it needs our support, now more than ever".
Britney Spears' father remains in charge of her financial affairs, calls for investigation of co-conservator
Spears' attorney Samuel Ingham filed to have Jamie Spears removed as co-conservator several months ago, and it was that motion to which the judge responded yesterday. The primary reason for yesterday's ruling was to confirm the Bessemer Trust as a permanent co-conservator, with Jodi Montgomery directly overseeing Spears' personal affairs. However, the ruling also kept her father in place as solely in charge of his daughter's finances.
The judge cannot actually begin considering Spears' statement that she wants to end her conservatorship because the musician has not yet filed an official petition requesting this.
In a statement at a court hearing last week, Spears said that the conservatorship she has been under since 2008 is "abusive", claiming that it is used to control her in order to make money for others, including her father.
"I just want my life back", she told the court. "It's been thirteen years and it's enough. It's been a long time since I’ve owned my money … It makes no sense whatsoever for the state of California to sit back and literally watch me … make a living for so many people, and pay so many people, trucks and buses on the road with me, and be told I'm not good enough. But I'm great at what I do. And I allow these people to control what I do".
Spears also said that she had never previously petitioned the court to end the conservatorship because she only recently learned that she could do so.
Although Spears has not yet filed any court documents relating to her statement last week, her father has. According to Variety, prior to yesterday's ruling, Jamie Spears filed papers expressing concern for the management of his daughter's personal and medical care.
While Spears was heavily critical of her father in last week's statement, she also made various comments about her medical care and personal restrictions placed upon her - including prohibiting her from having another child. Her father says that this is out of his control, and that currently he is barred from having any contact with his daughter.
"Based on her statements to the court, Mr Spears is concerned that the petition to appoint Jodi Montgomery filed by Ms Spears' court-appointed counsel Samuel D Ingham III does not reflect her wishes", says Jamie Spears' legal filing. "Ms Spears told the court on 23 Jun that she is opposed to being under a conservatorship and revealed her ongoing disputes with Ms Montgomery about her medical treatment and other personal care issues".
"Unlike Ms Montgomery and Mr Ingham, Mr Spears does not speak or meet with Ms Spears medical team, and he is not permitted to nor does he have the opportunity to provide any input into his daughter's current medical treatment, diagnosis, or therapy", it goes on. "Nor does Mr Spears participate in or discuss Ms Spears' personal affairs with her, such as issues related to her self-care, marriage, and reproductive desires ... Mr Spears is simply not involved in any decisions related to Ms Spears' personal care of medical or reproductive issues".
An attorney for Montgomery has issued a statement in response to the filing, saying: "Ms Montgomery is a licensed private professional fiduciary who, unlike family members who serve as conservators, is required to follow a code of ethics ... Private professional fiduciaries often serve in cases as a neutral decision-maker when there are complex family dynamics, as in this case".
"From the very beginning of her appointment in September 2019, Ms Montgomery and the medical team that she assembled have had one primary goal - to assist and encourage Britney in her path to no longer needing a conservatorship of the person", they add.
They also insist that Montgomery is not blocking Spears from marrying or having a baby, saying: "If Britney needs any assistance with either, Ms Montgomery has and will be there to provide any assistance needed to Britney. Britney's choice to marry and to start a family have never been impacted by the conservatorship while Ms Montgomery has been conservator of the person".
It now remains to be seen if and when Britney files to end her conservatorship.
Dr Luke will have to prove actual malice in Kesha defamation legal battle, court rules
Luke's defamation lawsuit against Kesha is all that remains of a long-running, multi-layered and quite complicated legal battle between the two former musical collaborators, which – along the way – has involved litigation in multiple American states.
At the heart of it all is Kesha’s allegation of rape against Luke. He denies that allegation, and in turn alleges that she only made that claim in a bid to force his hand in contract negotiations. This means, as far as he is concerned, Kesha defamed him, hence the defamation lawsuit.
In February last year, the judge overseeing the defamation action in the New York courts made some initial rulings. Not regarding Kesha's core allegation of rape, but on whether the producer was a 'public figure' and also in relation to a text message Kesha sent Lady Gaga in which she also claimed that the producer had raped Katy Perry. Both those rulings favoured Luke's side.
In the first of those two rulings, the judge concluded that Luke was not, in fact, a public figure. This was important because, under New York law, it has an impact on what needs to be proven in a defamation case. If the producer was deemed a public figure, not only would Luke need to prove that Kesha's rape claims were untrue, but also that they had been made "with actual malice". But, as he is not a public figure, he only need prove the former.
Except, Kesha's team then cited new anti-SLAPP laws that were passed in New York State last year. Those new laws seek to stop people from attacking the free speech rights of others through the filing of frivolous litigation. Under the new anti-SLAPP laws, in defamation cases in New York the "actual malice" requirement can also apply when it's a non-public figure pursuing the litigation if the allegedly defamatory statement relates to issues of public concern. The new rules would also mean Kesha could seek damages from Luke if her allegations were proven in court.
Once Kesha's legal team brought up the new anti-SLAPP laws the big question was whether or not said laws should be applied retroactively so that they impact on a case that was originally filed long before the new rules were in force. Would it be fair to put new obligations onto a plaintiff who could not have foreseen such obligations when they first decided to go legal?
According to the New York Post, in a court hearing yesterday Dr Luke's lawyer Christine Lepera argued that the new laws don't explicitly say that they are to be applied retroactively, and therefore they shouldn't be. Doing so, Lepara added, would unfairly increase her client's burden in proving defamation, changing the rules of the game despite his litigation having already been going through the motions for quite some time.
Kesha's lawyer Leah Godesky, meanwhile, said that "this is exactly the type of case that [the New York legislature] had in mind when they decided to immediately correct this statute". Beyond Luke's increased burden, it was important that Kesha could seek damages if her allegations were proven in court. Otherwise, Godesky added, "even if Kesha were to prevail at trial and the jury found that she was telling the truth about her sexual assault - she wouldn’t really win", because of all the costs she has incurred fighting the litigation.
Judge Jennifer Schecter ultimately sided with Kesha's team, ruling that the new laws do apply in this case. Which means Luke will have to prove actual malice when the dispute finally gets the court, while Kesha will also be able to file a counter-claim seeking damages. Although, Schecter noted, that counter-claim can only be properly considered if the jury in the main dispute rules that the musician's rape allegations are sound.
Despite arguing against allowing the new laws to apply in this case, Luke's legal team subsequently played down the significance of Schecter's decision, stating that yesterday's hearing was about a "a technical legal issue".
They added: "At trial, Dr Luke will prove to the jury, as he has always maintained, that Kesha spread a vicious lie to get out of her contracts. Kesha refuses to make any claim against Luke that she would have had the burden of proof on - because she knows she would lose".
Marilyn Manson receives fourth sexual abuse lawsuit
Smithline says that, having met Manson in the summer of 2010, he flew her to Los Angeles later that year, with her understanding being that he would cast her in a remake of 'True Romance'. But the film project never emerged and when she arrived in LA he asked her to move in with him.
It was by flying Smithline from Bangkok, where she was living at the time, to the US under what she now believes to be false pretences that makes Manson allegedly liable for violating human trafficking laws.
"[Manson] knew these offers to be fraudulent", says the lawsuit, according to Rolling Stone. "No effort was made to complete production of the film project and to date nothing from that project has been published. [Manson] merely used the film project as a pretence to lure Ms Smithline to the United States".
Their first meeting was pleasant, she says, and she subsequently consensually entered into a relationship with the musician. However, soon after she began living with him he became physically abusive - including strangling, burning and whipping her, and on one occasion throwing "a Nazi knife at Ms Smithline, only barely missing her face". She also details a number of violent sexual assaults, which she also spoke about in an interview with People earlier this year.
Smithline says that she continued to spend time with Manson, in between modelling jobs in Asia, until January 2013, despite the "severe mental distress" she suffered as a result. She adds that Manson told her that he would "find her" and "kill her if she left him".
A spokesperson for Manson tells Rolling Stone: "We strongly deny Ms Smithline's claims*.* There are so many falsehoods within her claims that we wouldn't know where to begin to answer them. This relationship, to the limited extent it was a relationship, lasted less than a week in 2010. Manson hasn't seen Ms Smithline since then".
Smithline is the fourth woman to sue Manson and is one of more than a dozen to publicly name him as an abuser. 'Game Of Thrones' actor Esmé Bianco, Manson's former personal assistant Ashley Walters, and a third unnamed woman have all launched legal action against him. He has denied all allegations.
Believe, TuneCore and DistroKid formally endorse Spotify's controversial Discovery Mode
That includes artists working with DIY distribution firms DistroKid and TuneCore, as well as the latter's parent company Believe, all of which have formally endorsed the initiative.
Discovery Mode, which began piloting last year, allows artists and labels to inform the ever powerful Spotify algorithm that drives streams via the machine-created playlists, personalised radio options and auto-play functions on the streaming service. However, in return for influencing the algorithm in that way, artist and labels have to accept a lower royalty rate on any streams that are subsequently generated.
For many artists and indie labels, that doesn't seem like a good deal. Although not specifically naming Discovery Mode, the pan-European trade group for the indie sector, IMPALA, earlier this year called on "the entire music sector to stand with IMPALA to reject any proposals by services that reduce royalties for plays, or privileged treatment, in algorithms or other features - this is payola, and has no legitimate place in improving viability and opportunity for creators".
Meanwhile, the Artist Rights Alliance in the US stated in May that "artists must unite to condemn this thinly disguised royalty cut". It then added: "If Spotify genuinely wants to partner with artists and labels on playlists, priorities, and listener recommendations it should start by sharing basic information about the algorithms and data powering those processes. Transparency would allow creators to make informed choices and pursue commercial success on the platform in a straightforward way, rather than the current game of digital blind man’s bluff creators are forced to play".
The concerns raised by the ARA were then taken up by two members of US Congress, who recently wrote to Spotify boss Daniel Ek to express their concerns about the Discovery Mode pilot. Jerry Nadler and Hank Johnson said in their letter to Ek: "At a time when the global pandemic has devastated incomes for musicians and other performers, without a clear path back to pre-pandemic levels, any plan that could ultimately lead to further cut pay for working artists and ultimately potentially less consumer choice raises significant policy issues".
However, there are some music marketeers who reckon Discovery Mode could be a valuable new promo tool, seeing it not so much like the dodgy practice of paying radio stations to play your music (aka payola), and more like offering retailers a discount in return for getting your discs stocked in premium places around the record shop, as happened in the CD era.
At its big Stream On event back in February, Spotify insisted that - despite the lower royalty rate - artists who have participated in the Discovery Mode pilot have seen an overall royalty boost. It claimed that labels had seen on average a 30% growth in streams when they had used the service, meaning they made more money overall despite the lower rates paid on those streams.
They also referenced one case study involving an independent artist and music company – Odie and Empire – who, Spotify said, had achieved a 69% audience growth and 75% royalty increase by participating in their Discovery Mode pilot.
Among the latest round of case studies and testimonials published by Spotify is Believe-allied Natalie Perez who, the streaming service says, was able to use Discovery Mode to grow an audience beyond her home market of Argentina, in particular in North America.
"Perez's team turned Discovery Mode on for 33 tracks over a period of three months and saw fourteen tracks perform exceedingly well", Spotify reports, "which helped Perez grow her daily listening base in the US and Mexico by 57% across Spotify".
Results like this, Spotify goes on, are why Believe is backing Discovery Mode. Its CEO Denis Ladegaillerie is quoted thus: "The democratising power of Discovery Mode will enable a wider community of artists to benefit from boosting their music".
"It's helping artists cross borders, especially ones from territories that historically haven't had equal access to the global music industry stage. And, in these early tests, we're already witnessing how Discovery Mode is helping talented Believe artists from all over the world find their next fans. Spotify is building tools and resources that ensure success is no longer limited to a select few".
Artists working with Believe's DIY distributor TuneCore have also been involved in the pilot, with the company's Co-Head, Andreea Gleeson, stating: "At TuneCore, we believe there's never been a better time for independent artists worldwide. We're seeing a paradigm shift where an artist's success is no longer tied to radio or traditional mainstream media. Discovery Mode maximises the reach of the music, based on the merit of the music - not because a gatekeeper said so. If the music's good, Discovery Mode will help artists find new fans".
Rival DIY distributor DistroKid - in which Spotify invested back in 2018 - is also unsurprisingly involved in and backing the Discovery Mode pilot. Its CEO Philip Kaplan provides this endorsement: "Discovery Mode is a groundbreaking music marketing tool because it doesn't require any upfront budget. Discovery Mode makes it possible for independent artists at every level to reach new fans in a whole new way".
Whether any of this will placate the Discovery Mode critics in the artist community, indie label domain and Congress remains to be seen.
Nick Grimshaw announces Radio 1 departure
Grimshaw joined Radio 1 back in 2007, subsequently taking over the station's breakfast show in 2012. He then moved to his current drivetime show in 2018.
Confirming his departure yesterday he said: "My childhood dream was to work on Radio 1 and I have been lucky enough to make that dream come true. It has been everything I'd imagined and even more. I grew up wanting to connect with people and to feel accepted, and the Radio 1 listeners gave me that and let me be part of their daily life, for which I will be eternally grateful".
"But over the last few months I've been doing a lot of thinking about my future", he went on. "After fourteen years, I've made the decision that it's time for me to move on. I'd like to thank the listeners, as without them none of this could have been possible, and the Radio 1 family, who have been such a huge part of my life".
Existing Radio 1 presenters Hope and North will be paired up to take over the drivetime show from 6 Sep. Hope will also continue to co-present 'Life Hacks' and 'The Official Chart: First Look' on Sundays with Katie Thistleton.
Confirming all this, Radio 1 chief Aled Haydn Jones says: "I am so excited for Vick and Jordan. The audience have taken to both of them over the last year so it's a dream to be able to bring them together to host such an important show in Radio 1's schedule".
"I can't wait for people to hear some of the ideas and projects they've got lined up", he goes on. "They're really pushing the boundaries of what we can do. September is going to be a new sound for Radio 1, from established great broadcasters to bringing through the next generation of talented DJs we will continue to reflect our young audience across the UK and we'll have a lot of fun doing it".
Meanwhile, on Grimshaw's departure, he adds: "Grimmy has given everything to Radio 1 over the past fourteen years and he is loved by all of us who've had the pleasure to work with him. He helped to define Radio 1's young audience, is always supremely entertaining on air, and is an incredible radio talent. We wish him all the best, but most of all - thank you!”
Universal Music Publishing in Nashville has signed country musician Morgan Wade to a worldwide publishing deal. "It feels great to have a songwriting home with so many other artists and writers I admire", she says. "I feel very supported by UMPG. I'm THRILLED to see where we go from here".
Mom+Pop Music has signed Seb to a worldwide record deal. "I'm so excited to be teaming up with a label who sees as far into the future as I do", he says. "Mom+Pop truly embodies everything I value, so I knew I was making the right choice".
Nashville-based River House Artists, in partnership with Sony Music Publishing, has signed country musician Grant Gilbert to a worldwide publishing deal. "I am super excited to sign a publishing deal with River House Artists", he says. "It feels good to know I have a team behind me that is willing to work hard and believe in me as an artist and songwriter. They already feel like family, and I can't wait to get to work!"
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
West One Music Group has announced the opening of a new office in Copenhagen, as part of its ongoing expansion plans. Overseeing that expansion, Nick Leonard says: "The Nordics are at the forefront of trailblazing film and TV content, so I'm incredibly excited to be opening our new office in Copenhagen, home to a pool of super talented creatives".
DVSN and Ty Dolla $ign have released a new track together, featuring late rapper Mac Miller, titled 'I Believed It'. The track will appear on a forthcoming collaborative album.
Yxng Bane has released new single 'Birthday', featuring Stefflon Don.
Five Seconds Of Summer's Luke Hemmings has released his debut solo single, 'Starting Line'. The song, he says, is about "missing various memories". He goes on: "You're reflecting on your youth and all of the madness and craziness. It's like you're forgetting so many pieces of your life - not from vices or anything - but from the sheer volume. A lot of the album deals with the idea time is slipping away from you". That album, by the way, is called 'When Facing The Things We Turn Away From', and is out on 13 Aug.
Matilda Mann has released new single 'Bloom'. It "is about meeting someone too soon", she says. "Sometimes you need a little more time, to figure out what you want and how to be alone, so that you don't give too much of yourself away to someone else". She's also announced that she will play Lafayette in London on 6 Oct.
Denai Moore and Django Django have released new track 'Say Something' - the first to come out of Abbey Road Studios' new Abbey Road Lock-In series. "Having spent the year writing on my own in my home studio, it was really refreshing to write something new with someone else for the first time in a year", says Moore. "Abbey Road has a special presence to it, almost like going to your school prom as a musician. Feels like a rare magical occasion".
The recently CMU Approved Reb Fountain has announced that she will release her new album, 'Iris', on 1 Oct. "Iris is in many ways an unsung hero, known as the goddess of the rainbow, sea and sky, she acts as a bridge between the gods to humanity with little of her own story known", Fountain says. "I wanted and needed to give voice to this essential human spirit; to conjure and hold and commune with the very real, valid and invaluable voices within and around me". Here's new single 'Beastie'.
We Were Promised Jetpacks have announced that they will release their new album, 'Enjoy The View', on 10 Sep. Here's new single 'Fat Chance'. They will also tour the UK in December.
Avawaves will release their second album, 'Chrysalis', on 8 Oct. "In 2020 as we wrote and recorded our album from two different countries, creating this space was more important than ever against the backdrop of isolation and working remotely", they say. "Each of the pieces are made within this chrysalis. The feeling we want is that through the music, people can enter this immersive world and come out in a renewed and altered state, drawing strength from the music, energised by nature's empowering resilience". Here's new single 'Lucid Dreaming'.
Redhino has announced that his new album, 'Finally We're Alone', will be out on 23 Jul. Here's new single 'Studio F'.
Binki has released new single 'Revolve'. The song, he says, is "about magnetism. Opposites attract and all that, but also the opposite is true. For better or worse. What pulls us together and what pushes us apart?"
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Katy Perry takes stake in NFT company, launches NFTs to promote Vegas residency
The NFTs will provide certificates of ownership for various pieces of content from Perry's upcoming 'Play' residency in Las Vegas. Exactly what those pieces of content will be is yet to be announced, but you can be assured that paying to have something stamped into the blockchain saying that you have access to said content will be a complete waste of money.
"I'm both excited and curious to be launching my first ever NFTs later this year with Theta Network", says Perry. "This is a new, unique opportunity to connect with my fans around the world even if they aren't with me in Las Vegas. I can't wait to dive in with the Theta team on all the exciting and memorable creative pieces, so my fans can own a special moment of my residency that's both a digital collectible as well as an IRL experience".
Perry, alongside her talent agency CAA, have taken a minority stake in Theta Network, yet another investment in this utterly stupid craze.
Says Theta co-founder and CEO Mitch Liu: "Working with a global icon like Katy Perry over the next year marks an important inflection point in Theta Network's history and a big step towards global adoption of Theta blockchain. With the help of CAA and Katy's management team, we're charting a course towards reaching well beyond crypto enthusiasts to millions of music, media and entertainment fans around the world. In the end, we see this as an important milestone towards a million daily transactions on the Theta network".
A million transactions a day! Come on now. Surely this bubble will burst before then. Also, that many transactions every day sounds like it would pretty bad for the environment, given the immense amount of energy used by minting and selling NFTs on the blockchain.
Actually, Theta claims that it is more environmentally-friendly than other blockchain networks, using far less energy than rivals to do something that has absolutely no point. It is built on the so called 'proof-of-stake model' that people who incorrectly think NFTs are a thing that should exist often tout as less energy-hungry. In fact, Theta reckons its system is 100 times faster than Ethereum, where most NFT transactions generally take place, while using only a fraction of the electricity.
It also reckons that it has "decentralised NFT storage enabling users to truly own and take custody of their NFTs". So that's just great. Who wouldn't want to truly own something they thought they already owned that isn't really even a thing anyway?