|WEDNESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Vivendi has now sold 10% of the Universal Music Group to investment entities led by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, which was always the plan, but that plan had a good old wobble for a short time... [READ MORE]|
Additional $1.1 billion deal means Bill Ackman-led entities will control 10% of Universal Music after all
Vivendi, of course, is getting ready to spin off its music company as a standalone entity that will be listed on the Dutch stock exchange. As that happens, 60% of the shares in the Universal Music Group will be distributed to Vivendi's current shareholders. 20% will continue to be controlled by a consortium led by Tencent and Vivendi will keep hold of 10%. Which, maths fans all over the world will surely observe, leaves 10% of UMG stock unaccounted for.
An Ackman-led special purpose acquisition company called Pershing Square Tontine Holdings was originally announced as the buyer for that 10% back in June.
Which was odd, because so called special purpose acquisition companies are entities with no current operations that raise money on a stock exchange with the aim of using the cash to buy a private business outright, basically giving that business a back-door stock market listing. SPACs don't usually buy 10% of an already publicly listed company.
Sufficiently odd was this arrangement, in fact, that it all fell through.
After some of the investors in Pershing Square Tontine Holdings responded to Ackman's UMG deal with a collective "erm?" - while US regulator the SEC delivered a concerning "what?" - Ackman abandoned the SPAC purchase of Universal stock. Though that didn't stop one of PSTH's investors from suing, alleging that the entity was in fact a more conventional investment fund masquerading as a SPAC to avoid some regulation. Though that's something Ackman strongly denies, we should add.
Meanwhile, as he called off the PSTH/UMG deal, Ackman announced that he still planned to buy into the music major, which was a shit hot investment opportunity even if the smelly investors back at PSTH didn't agree. I'm paraphrasing slightly there. With that in mind, Ackman said, he would still acquire up to 10% via other investment entities that he controlled.
Then last month Pershing Square Holdings - which must never be confused with Pershing Square Tontine Holdings - announced it had agreed to buy 7.1% of UMG stock "through an affiliated entity". Which was lovely.
But what about that other 2.9%? What the hell was going to happen to that? Gift it to all the legacy artists whose increasingly valuable catalogue has helped fuel all this renewed investor interest in UMG, despite many of those legacy artists being stuck in shitty old deals that pay rubbish royalties?
Fuck no. Ackman has had a good rummage around the back of his sofa and found another $1.149 billion allowing him - or, specifically, another entity known by the snappy name of PS VII Master LP - to buy up the remaining shares, meaning the wider Pershing Square empire is back where it intended to be in June, owning a tenth of the Universal music company.
"Vivendi is pleased to announce that Pershing Square has committed to acquire an additional 2.9% of the UMG capital for a price of $1.149 billion based on an enterprise value of €35 billion for 100% of UMG’s share capital", said Universal's current owner yesterday. "In line with what was communicated on 10 Aug 2021 and considering the 7.1% already acquired, Pershing Square will now own 10% of the UMG share capital".
"Pershing Square Holdings today announced that PS VII Master LP - an affiliated co-investment vehicle - has notified Vivendi SE that it intends to exercise its option to acquire 52,769,098 ordinary shares of Universal Music Group, representing 2.9% of the company, for approximately $21.78 per share (or €18.40 per share at today’s exchange rate)", bounced back Ackman's company.
Britney Spears calls on father to resign from conservatorship immediately
After the conservatorship that has controlled Britney's personal and financial affairs for thirteen years came under increased criticism earlier this year, Jamie agreed in August to step down from his role as conservator of his daughter's estate "when the time is right".
But that couldn't happen immediately, he added, because an "orderly transition" was required. However Jamie is now acting with self-interest alone, Rosengart argues, worsening the situation for Britney, who has repeatedly demanded that her father leave his position within her conservatorship.
"The thrust of his response is that although he expressly recognises that a 'public battle' regarding his departure would not be in Ms Spears's best interests and for that reason, he even intends to support 'an orderly transition', his idea of 'orderly' is to hang on until someone first brands him 'father of the year' and awards him a gold star for his 'service'", writes Rosengart in a new court filing.
"In other words", the filing adds, "although Mr Spears has, at last, been forced to recognise that it is best for his daughter if he departs now, he claims the right to drag his feet because it is best for him to cling to this conservatorship until he feels sufficiently-vindicated".
As well as wanting to stay on until his reputation is improved, Jamie is also trying to ensure -Rosengart claims - that around $2 million in outstanding payments are put through the estate's accounts, including fees to his own attorneys.
If Jamie will not step down, Rosengart is calling on the court to suspend him, saying: "A 'transition' can just as easily occur while Mr Spears is suspended, as opposed to while he lingers as conservator waiting for his inevitable removal. The only difference is that the former is in his daughter's best interests, while the latter severely undermines those interests".
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Rosengart adds: "Britney Spears will not be bullied or extorted by her father. Nor does Mr Spears have the right to try to hold his daughter hostage by setting the terms of his removal".
"This is not about him, it is about the best interests of his daughter, which as a matter of law, mandate his removal. Even putting aside the legal issues requiring his prompt removal, if he loves his daughter, Mr Spears should resign now, today, before he is suspended. It would be the correct and decent thing to do".
A court hearing to consider the petition to suspend Jamie Spears is set for 29 Sep.
R Kelly trial hears from three more accusers
The former assistant is Suzette Mayweather, who worked for Kelly from 2015 to 2017. She recalled various incidents that back up previous claims made by Kelly's accusers regarding the strict rules the musician enforced on his girlfriends, and the punishments that resulted if he thought those rules had been broken.
Among other things, Mayweather recalled how, one night, she had been woken by one of Kelly's girlfriends who had just been slapped and spanked by the star. She then saw the bruises the punishment had created, she added. On another occasion she herself was admonished by Kelly for having a personal conversation with another of his girlfriends.
"It was the first time that I had ever seen Rob really upset", she told the court of Kelly's response to discovering that she'd spoken to the girlfriend about her aspirations to become a writer and her relationship with the musician. "It wasn't the tone - it was the look in his eyes", she said, adding that she feared about the repercussions the girlfriend might face.
On yet another occasion, she discovered that Kelly had kept a girlfriend confined to a back room at his music studio for more than a day. The court saw a text message exchange between Mayweather and a sibling, who also worked for Kelly, which asked: “So he’s had her in there all day? Has she come out to use the bathroom or eat? Why is he holding her there?”
In one final example of Kelly's rules in action, Mayweather recalled how she once heard "laughing, screaming and thumping" coming from another room at his studio. She subsequently discovered that Kelly had forced his girlfriends to fight each other because he disapproved about how they had been "twerking for cake" at a birthday party.
If Mayweather herself broke or questioned any of Kelly's rules during her time working for the star, she was often fined $500 or forced to write an apology to her employer.
The latest of Kelly's alleged victims to testify, who also spoke in court yesterday, described how Kelly had a "compassionate side", but could flip and go from "extremely calm" to "super sexually hyper". Echoing statements from other victims, she said that Kelly never used protection during sex, and never told her that he had herpes.
On Monday, the court heard from two other accusers. Their allegations are not directly linked to the charges Kelly faces in the New York case, however their testimonies are part of an attempt by the prosecution to show that the musician headed up a long-established and well organised criminal enterprise that existed to facilitate his abuse of women. That claim is key to the prosecution's wider case.
Those testifying on Monday included a man referred to as Louis. He was seventeen when he met Kelly and he hoped that the star might help him pursue a career in music. In an early encounter, Kelly asked Louis what he was "willing to do" to kickstart that career and whether he'd "ever fantasised about having sex with men". Kelly then proceeded to give Louis oral sex, he said, even though "I wasn't into it".
Recalling a later meeting with the star, Louis told the jury how Kelly had "snapped his fingers three times" to summon a naked girl, who had been hiding in the room, and who subsequently performed oral sex on both Kelly and the witness.
Kelly, of course, denies all the charges he faces. The trial continues.
John Lydon responds to loss in court over Sex Pistols band agreement
The big court bust up between Lydon and his former bandmates centred on whether or not any one member of the Sex Pistols can veto a sync deal. If so, Lydon could block the band's music from being used in 'Pistol', which would - presumably - have quite a negative impact on a programme all about the Sex Pistols.
Jones, backed by fellow bandmate Paul Cook, said that an old band agreement meant that sync deals could be issued if a majority of band members agreed. Lydon argued that the band had always operated on the assumption that unanimous consent was required for such deals. However, the high court confirmed the old band agreement was nevertheless still in force, depriving Lydon of any veto right.
In the new statement on his website, Lydon gives his side of the story, running through the events that ran up to the legal battle, and then repeating the arguments he and his team presented in court.
"In January this year", the statement says, "days before a worldwide press announcement, John Lydon was told of the proposed use of Sex Pistols recordings in a six part television series based upon a book written by Steve Jones. The project had been years in the making. Despite this, John Lydon was given just a few hours’ notice of what was to be announced".
This meant, the statement goes on, that his band's music would be used "to lend credibility" to 'Pistol', a Danny Boyle directed series being made for the Disney-owned US TV channel FX. "Understandably", it adds, "John, as the creative force of the Sex Pistols, wanted to know how he was going to be portrayed ... despite asking for details of the script or screenplay, John still does not know these details".
Moving onto the legal battle, the statement continues: "John Lydon did not ask for the recent proceedings. He was asked to allow the Sex Pistols works to be used without any prior consultation or involvement in the project. He took a stand on principle for what he sees as the integrity of the Sex Pistols legacy and fought for what he believed and continues to believe was right".
"For more than 23 years the Sex Pistols have operated on the basis of unanimous decision making", it adds. "The Disney production is the first time that the unanimous approach has been ignored. It is disappointing that a high court judge has decided that John Lydon is bound by an undated agreement signed in 1998, which imposes on the Sex Pistols a majority rule arrangement in place of the unanimous decision making process that has been followed for 23 years".
On the potential bigger impact of the ruling, the statement concludes: "Looking forward, there is great uncertainty about what the majority rule approach might do to water down and distort the true history and legacy of the Sex Pistols. Time will tell. Whatever Disney does, it is doing it without John's involvement or creative approval. John is powerless to prevent any distortion of the true history of the Sex Pistols and whatever results will be at the wish of the majority only".
Lydon himself states: "I am the lead singer and songwriter, frontman, image, the lot, you name it. I put it there. How is that not relevant? It is dumbfounding to me. It is so destructive to what the band is and so I fear that the whole project might be extremely negative".
"How can anyone think that this can proceed without consulting me, and deal with my personal life in this, and my issues in this, without any meaningful contact with me before the project is announced to the world?", he goes on. "I don't think there are even words that I can put forward to explain quite how disingenuous this is. As I said in the lyrics of 'The Order Of Death', 'This is what you want, this is what you get'".
If anyone has any further questions for Lydon on any of this, his statement also points out that he's about to embark on a Q&A tour of UK theatres, and you're welcome to ask them there.
Secret Garden Party to return after five years to mark 20th anniversary
The event began teasing its return on social media in July. Yesterday, it was confirmed that the returning festival will take place next year on 21-24 Jul, with a website now open to accept registrations to purchase tickets when they go one sale.
Announcing the end of the event in 2017, founder Freddie Fellowes said: "We have never compromised our principles and we never will. SGP has always been a beacon of what you can do within those terms and, as imitation - being the sincerest form of flattery - proves, it has set the bar for everyone else going forward. But it is exactly because of those principles, and the love of those who have made the Garden Party what it is, that we are committing this senseless act of beauty".
He continued: "What better way to honour the love that has been given to this project and wholly demonstrate this principle than finishing now? This isn’t some principled self-immolation: this is opening it up for the future. So this summer will be the almighty send-off that the Garden Party deserves and whilst that is going to cause some tears to be shed, think of it more as 'Dylan goes electric' than our Altamont. Because after all you can't be avant-garde from within an institution and lest we forget: the frontier always moves".
No comment has yet been made on the decision to resurrect the event, aside from a line on the new website noting that "all good things must come to an end, and so, we're back".
Those who successfully apply to attend will be notified on 25 Sep and given 24 hours to purchase their ticket. Go to secretgardenparty.com to register your interest.
Warner Music has signed a licensing deal with China-based short-form video platform Kuaishou. "We're excited to bring our diverse music catalogue to Kuaishou's passionate and creative global community", says Warner's Chief Digital Officer & EVP Of Business Development, Oana Ruxandra. "As WMG's universe of social partners grows, so too does our artists' reach and impact".
UK collecting society PPL has partnered with music preservation and archiving company VEVA Sound's new file and data-sharing platform VEVA Collect. The joint initiative aims to make it easier for performers to be properly credited on recordings and to receive royalties. "PPL has for many years pioneered the management of sound recording data for the music industry and this new platform is an important tool in helping creators manage their metadata and get paid", says PPL CEO Peter Leathem.
This year's Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee has been cancelled less than 48 hours before it was due to begin, after poor weather made the site unsafe. "We have done everything in our power to try to keep the show moving forward, but Mother Nature has dealt us a tremendous amount of rain over the past 24 hours, and we have run out of options to try to make the event happen", said organisers in a series of tweets.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Music creation platform BandLab has announced that it is now offering distribution and artist-to-fan subscription services. "We already offered creators a 'tip jar' feature, to let fans reward creators they loved, and 'albums', which let artists sell tracks directly to their fans, but these are one-time opportunities", says CEO Meng Ru Kuok. "Now we're building out a sustainable way to guarantee regular revenue streams and thus support a stronger creator economy".
Jpegmafia has released new single 'Trust!', taken from his upcoming fourth album, which is due out later this year. He's also announced tour dates in the UK and Ireland in March next year.
Diane Warren has released the video for 'Seaside', featuring Rita Ora, Sofía Reyes and Reik. The track is taken from Warren's debut album, 'The Cave Sessions Vol 1'.
Former Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt will release his debut album, 'Country Yutes', this Friday. Here's new single 'It's A Party'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kanye West built replica of childhood home at Soldier Field after being refused permission to move actual building
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, West had to change his original plan after the Chicago Buildings Department refused to grant the necessary permits required to uproot a building and move it somewhere else.
"Moving a home in Chicago is a very technical process that requires structural engineer reports and multiple city permits", says a local government spokesperson. "The request to move the house at 7815 S. South Shore Dr was denied last week because no permit application had been received to excavate and move the vacant property which is also in Demolition Court".
At the event, West appeared on the porch of the replica house with controversial musicians DaBaby and Marilyn Manson to unveil 'Jail 2', a track on the album featuring them both.
'Jail 2' is an alternate version of 'Jail' - which features Jay-Z - and the rework was initially left off the 'Donda' tracklist when it hit streaming services on Sunday. West initially blamed Universal for blocking 'Jail 2' - which was subsequently included on the album - before claiming that the delay was actually because DaBaby's management had failed to clear the track.