|FRIDAY 29 OCTOBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: As the UN Climate Change Conference - or COP26 if you prefer - kicks off in Glasgow this weekend, the UK live music industry has reaffirmed its aim of reaching net zero emissions across the sector by 2030, while also promoting a number of music-led events taking place around the conference itself. Meanwhile, the independent music community - via IMPALA - has called for the European Union and national governments across Europe to "ensure clear transitional pathways for all European countries, along with a support mechanism for sectors who are leading the way in this area"... [READ MORE]|
Music industry makes commitments and demands ahead of UN Climate Change Conference
Meanwhile, the independent music community - via IMPALA - has called for the European Union and national governments across Europe to "ensure clear transitional pathways for all European countries, along with a support mechanism for sectors who are leading the way in this area".
That basically means providing guidance and support for companies seeking to transition to lower or zero carbon emissions, recognising that the route to go and the challenges to be met are different from sector to sector, and country to country.
The indie music community is urging governments to ensure that small to middle-sized enterprises can access the know-how and tools they need to become more environmentally sustainable, and that businesses that take the lead in this domain get additional support such as grants and tax relief.
IMPALA launched a climate charter in April this year that sets out fifteen commitments it is making to help the organisation itself, and its membership, become more environmentally sustainable. Then, earlier this month, it announced a partnership with sustainability charity Julie's Bicycle to build a bespoke carbon calculator for the independent label sector, to help independent music companies highlight where they can make changes in order to become carbon neutral and, eventually, carbon positive.
The chair of IMPALA's Sustainability Task Force, !K7 Music CEO Horst Weidenmüller, said this morning: "Sustainability is a key area for any company, big or small, in Germany and elsewhere. We are doing our bit in the independent music sector, and we expect governments to step up and make transition pathways as smooth as possible".
Meanwhile, Will Hutton, Head Of Sustainability at Beggars Group and a member of IMPALA's task force, added: "Sector action is indispensable if we are to achieve our targets and we hope that by moving early, we will encourage other sectors to follow. As we look to governments to take a strong stance at COP26, it is essential to create systems to support early sector transition".
Many in the indie music community believe that artists and labels can play a key role in the climate emergency debate in two key ways, both by making their own businesses more sustainable, while also raising awareness among their audiences.
Also commenting this morning, Ninja Tune Chair Peter Quicke, another member of IMPALA's task force, said: "Being able to reach a wide audience, music has the power to carry vital messages on the climate emergency. I will be in Glasgow to support ambitious action, clear targets and systemic support. That's what’s needed to obtain tangible results for the future".
The UK live music industry also sees itself as having a double role in the climate change debate, both in making its own operations more sustainable, and by using its venues and events - and the artists it works with - to raise awareness.
Last month, all thirteen organisations that make up the UK live music industry trade body LIVE ratified the Beyond Zero Declaration, which is "a voluntary commitment to deliver measurable and targeted action on climate change, with the aim of reaching net zero emissions across the sector by 2030".
Ahead of COP26, LIVE has confirmed that next year its sustainability wing, LIVE Green, "will campaign to support the sector’s transition to a regenerative future, including the launch of a free-to-access resource hub and industry-wide measurement of CO2 emissions".
Meanwhile, various artists, companies and organisations from the UK music community will be involved in events running alongside COP26 in Glasgow, including UMA Entertainment, DF Concerts, Julie's Bicycle, Musicians In Exile, and music-makers like Enter Shikari and Brian Eno.
The COO of AEG Europe, and Chair of LIVE Green, John Langford, said this morning: "Music has the power to create change - and the looming climate emergency requires all of our support. It's fantastic to see the live music sector represented in such a positive way at COP26, and this is a great sign of things to come as we build on the progress we have made so far to set out a clear path for to decarbonisation across the sector".
Bad Wolves settle legal dispute with former frontman
Vext sued Bad Wolves manager Allen Kovac and his Better Noise Music company in July, having exited the band back in January. In his lawsuit, Vext claimed that Kovac had forced him out of the band because of political disagreements. In a statement to TMZ as the lawsuit was filed, Vext added: "Allen has forced me out of my own band and is now attempting to slander and cancel me - after several failed attempts to settle amicably, I'm now forced to place this in the hands of the courts".
Among other things, Vext claimed that, after failing to stop the frontman airing his political beliefs on social media, Kovac had used his "pull" in the music industry to stop radio stations and streaming services from playlisting his music. He also alleged racist conduct on Kovac's part, saying that he would use the n-word around the musician, who is African-American, "with impunity" as a way to show his superiority.
Both Kovac and the other members of Bad Wolves hit back at all those allegations immediately, with drummer John Boecklin and guitarist Doc Coyle stating at the time: "In all our dealings with Allen Kovac, he has never used any derogatory racial slurs. Tommy is making all of this up. Period".
Better Noise Music then filed its own litigation against Vext in August, claiming that the musician had become politically radicalised during the COVID lockdowns and was now an ardent QAnon supporter. That resulted in a series of increasingly contentious social media posts that caused tensions within the band, and between Vext and his management and label teams.
At the same time, the lawsuit then alleged: "Vext became unhinged. His ex-girlfriend filed for a domestic violence restraining order, claiming that Vext physically assaulted her numerous times and that she was afraid for her life. These claims were, and are, very serious, and they significantly tarnished Vext's image and reputation".
"This combination of negative press, public outrage and serious domestic violence allegations was bad for Vext, but it also damaged the band and its other members", the lawsuit added. "The perception was that the other members of Bad Wolves shared Vext's views and they were viewed as guilty by association".
Kovac sought to help Vext during this time, the lawsuit said, but the musician ignored his manager's advice. With the tensions reaching breaking point, it was Vext who announced he was leaving the band, initially wishing his former bandmates well. However, then Vext started to lash out at the band and its management and label.
"Motivated by greed and his oversized ego, Vext claimed that he owns Bad Wolves and has a right to block the remaining members from recording and releasing music under the name Bad Wolves", the lawsuit added. "Vext also claimed that plaintiffs had no right to use the name Bad Wolves to market and promote Bad Wolves' prior albums, and upcoming third album, or to otherwise market and promote the band, such as through tour promotions and merchandise sales".
All these statements were incorrect, Better Noise argued, while also accusing Vext of breach of contract and copyright infringement by posting new music to social media and his OnlyFans account and announcing a tour "using the confusingly similar name 'B@D W8LV3S'".
However, despite both sides in the dispute filing lawsuits, out of court discussions clearly continued, and both parties have now agreed to settle. Bad Wolves will continue to release music and tour under that name, while Vext is free to release his future recordings independently or with another label.
In a statement published in Billboard, all parties state: "Bad Wolves and its co-founder John Boecklin, alongside their label Better Noise, manager 10th Street Entertainment and publisher 5-19 have collectively resolved their disputes with Tommy Vext".
"A partnership can sometimes lead to divorce", the statement adds. "Artists have creative differences and argue over songs, credits, and much more. However, if both sides believe in their own talents, they find a path to go their separate ways. This is a settlement with no winners and no losers; it's beneficial to everyone in order to move on and bury the hatchet".
It concludes: "This is a new beginning and a bright future for all those concerned. We're all excited to get back to what's important, and that's the music. Bad Wolves and Tommy wish each other the best going forward, and ask that their fans respect this decision".
Gregg Allman estate moves publishing to Sony
"Gregg Allman is without a doubt one of the greatest rock and roll songwriters of all time", says Sony Music Publishing's Global Chief Marketing Officer Brian Monaco. "On behalf of all of us at Sony Music Publishing, we are honoured to partner with his estate to support his incredible catalogue, and we look forward to creating new opportunities for his songs".
Allman's longtime manager Michael Lehman adds: "I am very pleased to begin this partnership with Brian Monaco and the Sony Music Publishing team to build upon Gregg Allman's legacy. I look forward to bringing his music to new generations of fans and inspiring audiences around the world".
Best known as keyboardist and singer in the Allman Brothers Band, the outfit he co-founded with older brother Duane, Gregg Allman died in 2017 after a period of ill health.
A previous publishing administration deal to manage Allman's catalogue globally was signed with Kobalt in 2019.
Merlin enters into deal with ad-funded streaming app Trebel
Launched in 2018, the app has had most traction to date in Mexico, with plans to expand into a number of other markets next year, Brazil being a priority. Its pitch to the music industry is that the Trebel app attracts those consumers who will never pay to stream, and by increasing engagement with brands it can boost the advertising income in which record labels, music publishers, collecting societies, artists and songwriters can share.
Or, if you want the official pitch verbatim, the company says: "Today, nearly 95% of the world's 6.4 billion smartphone users do not yet pay for music. Trebel was founded as a means to redirect the loss of revenue from digital piracy back into the music industry. As global smartphone usage grows, Trebel believes the next big opportunity within the music industry will come by helping to improve the experience and monetise these music listeners".
As for which labels it is currently working with, Trebel filed papers earlier this year with the US Securities And Exchange Commission as part of plans for on Initial Public Offering, in which it said "we maintain contracts with the major labels - Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group - and with independent labels such as Ingrooves, Cinq Music Group, Symphonic Distribution, Empire Distribution, Tango Multimedia, DashGo, and Colonize Media". The Merlin deal will give Trebel access to many more independent labels and distributors.
Confirming the Merlin deal, Trebel co-founder and Head Of Music Corey Jones says: "As we look toward the next ten years, where global smartphone growth is expected to outpace adoption of paid media models, we want to be the pure-play music provider of choice for billions of under-monetised mobile users for whom music is a necessity. Our Merlin partnership will allow us to maximise exposure to independent music throughout the world and ensure the best music experience possible for our growing global user-base. We could not be more excited".
Meanwhile, Merlin COO Charlie Lexton adds: "We're very pleased to enter into this agreement to make Merlin members' music available to Trebel users, giving them access to a diverse array of independent music, whether they're at home, on the go, online, or unplugged. We're delighted to partner with a company that - like Merlin - respects music rightsholders and values their hard work".
Midnight Oil frontman says Sony Music HQ should "take responsibility for their governance failures" regarding toxic corporate culture at its Australian division
The toxic corporate culture that existed under former long-term Sony Music Australia chief Denis Handlin has been the subject of various media investigations in recent months, following his sudden axing from the top job in June. Although it was initially The Guardian who put the spotlight on the issues at Sony Music in Australia, a report on Australian current affairs show 'Four Corners' earlier this month ramped things up somewhat.
In the wake of the broadcast of that programme, various music industry organisations that had in the past presented honorary awards to Handlin - including Qmusic, ARIA and APRA/AMCOS - revoked those prizes. Meanwhile, pressure continues to build on Sony Music HQ, given that the issues with Handlin's leadership were widely known within the Australian music industry, and formal complaints had been made as far back as the 1990s.
Musician, activist and former Australian politician Peter Garrett has had a long association with Sony. Midnight Oil was signed to the major from 1981 until their initial split in 2002. The company also released his solo album 'A Version Of Now' in 2016 and Midnight Oil's first record following a 2016 reunion, last year's chart topping 'The Makarrata Project'.
Asked about the 'Four Corners' report in a new interview with The Australian, Garrett said he'd never experienced the toxicity at the major first hand, but that the way the company had been run was "inexcusable".
He told the newspaper: "We were never mistreated by anyone at Sony and we didn't see any of that behaviour. It goes without saying that we oppose bullying - any form, anywhere. So for those company staff that have spoken up - and whether they're people that were there before or those [working for the major] at the moment - we would strongly support them".
"We would say pretty clearly that the behaviour was inexcusable", he added, "and that Sony New York needs to step up. They were aware, it turns out, of what was happening. They need to support their staff, but also they need to do something serious. I think they've got some sort of investigation underway, but they need to take responsibility for their governance failures".
Sony Music HQ has issued a handful of statements since Handlin's departure, mainly insisting that the current top guard there were not personally aware of the issues at their Australian business until earlier this year.
Following the 'Four Corners' programme, it told reporters: "We take all allegations of bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviour from our employees very seriously and investigate them vigorously. Only recently did claims surface and we are examining them expeditiously".
As for a previous investigation into Handlin's management style back in the 1990s, it added: "We are not in a position to comment further on allegations concerning matters which occurred over 20 years ago particularly given that the persons involved at that time are no longer at the company. To the extent these matters have been raised, Sony Music has been reviewing them".
Listen Up promotes heads of press to director roles
Wilson joined the agency's UK team as an intern to 2014, later relocating to its LA office in 2018 where she became Head Of Press for North America. Fairweather joined the UK office in an assistant role in 2015, becoming UK Head Of Press in January last year.
Luke Neville - who co-founded Listen Up with James Mack - says: "Myself and James are very happy to announce that we’ve made Dujon and Charlotte directors at Listen Up. Dujon and Charlotte have both been with us for six-plus years and ran their respective departments with great success including navigating the impact of the pandemic on their teams. They are very much part of the Listen Up family and we're excited for the next chapter in their careers".
Kobalt has signed Jazmine Sullivan to a new global publishing deal for her past and future works. "I am THRILLED to continue my partnership with the Kobalt team", she says. "I can only imagine what the future holds for us".
AWAL has signed singer-songwriter CMAT to a worldwide deal. "After two years of riding solo, I literally could not be happier AWAL are hitching themselves to the CMAT wagon", she says.
Jay-Z has shared two new songs, 'Guns Go Bang', featuring Kid Cudi, and 'King Kong Riddim', featuring Jadakiss, Conway The Machine and BackRoad Gee. Both tracks are taken from the soundtrack of upcoming Netflix movie 'The Harder They Fall'.
CL has released the video for 'Let It', from her recently released solo album 'Alpha'.
Kelly Lee Owens has released new track 'Unity', which is the theme for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023. Yes, I said 2023, what of it? "'Unity' is a song that I put everything I had into it - rising arpeggios, rising basslines", she says. "It's led with my voice, but I wanted the sense of community brought in with choirs".
Following her recent cover of N-Trance's 'Set You Free', Kyla La Grange is back with her first original track in five years, 'Neverland'. "I wrote it when I was feeling really shit about myself and questioning a lot of things, and was just so lucky that I had friends who could pull me out of it", she says. "I guess in a way it's a tribute to the ones who keep your blood pumping and hold your hair back, to the fact that for many people their friendships will outlive their romantic relationships".
Blood Red Shoes will release new album 'Ghosts On Tape' on 14 Jan. "Ultimately this album is an invitation", says Steven Ansell. "It's us saying, this is our world, these are our darkest thoughts and feelings - our ghosts - caught on tape. You are welcome to join us. Come and embrace the strange". Join them on new single 'Morbid Fascination'.
Planningtorock has released new EP 'Gay Dreams Do Come True', and released the video for 'Her Home Is My Heart Now' from it. They say that the track "is a true story - after years of dating myself and a relationship that almost broke me I found the most beautiful heart in the world and that heart found me. That beautiful heart has taught me so much about love, kindness, care and passion. A heart that embraces me fully as I continue to glow up and out as a non binary queer femme. I sing this song with the fullest of hearts and, yes, her heart is my home now".
Jessy Lanza will helm the next DJ-Kicks compilation, upon which she is placing a brand new track, 'Seven 55', featuring Loraine James. "I wrote 'Seven 55' about a close friend and his inability to commit", she says. "I fantasised about the women caught in his web and wrote 'Seven 55' from their point of view". The compilation is out on 19 Nov.
Daine has released new single 'Cemetery Dreams', taken from her debut album, which is due out next year.
Lauran Hibberd has released new single 'Charlie's Car'.
Yard Act have only gone and released a new single called 'Land Of The Blind'. Frontman James Smith says: "'Land Of The Blind' is a song about the art of illusion, and how self-confidence can really inspire conviction in a trick". The band's debut album, 'The Overload', is out on 7 Jan.
Hurray For The Riff Raff will release new album 'Life On Earth' - her first for Nonesuch - on 18 Feb. Here's new single 'Rhododendron'.
Denise Chaila has released new single 'Energy', featuring Murli. The track will appear on her new EP, 'It's A Mixtape', which is out on 26 Nov. She'll also be playing her first UK headline show at Olso in Hackney on 12 Nov as part of the Pitchfork London Festival.
M(h)aol have released the video for 'No One Ever Talks To Us'. The track is taken from their new EP, 'Gender Studies', which is out today.
GIGS & TOURS
Ed Sheeran has announced a Christmas show at St John At Hackney church in London on 13 Dec. You have to pre-order his new album from his website if you want to get a ticket or two.
The Eagles will be playing shows in the UK next summer as part of their 50th anniversary tour, including a headline set at the BST Hyde Park festival. Tickets go on sale next Friday.
Bastille have announced UK arena dates in April next year. Tickets go on sale next Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Wu-Tang's RZA says single-copy was in "the wrong hands" with Martin Shkreli
"The idea was to make something that was unique, that had a value of its own", he tells Hot 97 in a new interview. "When we let it go, the quote that came out of my head was like, 'yo - this thing is going to have a life of its own, like a child'".
When Wu-Tang first announced that they were going to make the album and sell just one copy of it, it made headlines, of course. But at the time, it seemed entirely likely that what once the sale was complete, the album would sit on a shelf in some rich person's house and never be heard of again. However, as it turns out, RZA was right, and this single copy album has been on quite an exciting journey.
After controversial hedge fund manager Shkreli purchased the only copy of the Wu-Tang album for $2 million in 2015 it was regularly in the news. It became the centre of a weird feud between Shkreli and Wu-Tang rapper Raekwon, and also a copyright lawsuit. Parts of the record were aired by Shkreli to celebrate Donald Trump becoming US president, while an event to play the whole thing publicly was cancelled over security concerns. Then Shkreli (unsuccessfully) put it up for sale on eBay.
While he was busy doing all of this, Shkreli was also defrauding investors in his hedge fund. He was subsequently found guilty on three fraud charges in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison. And in addition to that jail time, he was also served a forfeiture money judgment, which ordered him to hand over $7.4 million.
Having pulled $5 million from Shkreli’s bank accounts, the US government seized other assets in lieu of the rest of the money, including a Picasso painting, a copy of Lil Wayne's then unreleased 'Tha Carter V' album, and the Wu-Tang record.
"No disrespect to Martin Shkreli because I don't ever knock somebody who, you know, when somebody buys something they buy something", says RZA. "But it was in the wrong hands, in all reality. He made the deal before [much] was revealed of his character, his personality, and all the insidious things he would go on to do. That wasn't the guy I met, but he definitely unfolded into that guy and he had control of this one-of-a-kind piece of art".
The US government auctioned off the album earlier this year, announcing that in doing so Shkreli's debts had been cleared. Last week, it was revealed that the record had been purchased by NFT collectors PleasrDAO for $4 million.
RZA feels happier about its new home, saying: "Everybody's got a right to buy something that's for sale. But now I think it's in the right hands".
He also confirms in the new interview that around the original release and sale of the record there were plans to publicly display the album and hold listening events, but "those ideas were not going to be able to happen with Mr Shkreli".
"Now that PleasrDAO has it, there's an opportunity [to achieve] a lot of these beautiful ideas, and what this art can be, and how it can expand itself in the world and its own life itself", he says. "I think the possibilities are there now".
Exactly what Pleasr's plans for the album are remain to be seen. The collective is best known for buying up NFTs and then selling off smaller shares in them.
"We want this to be us bringing this back to the people", Jamis Johnson, Pleasr's Chief Pleasing Officer recently told Rolling Stone. "We want fans to participate in this album at some level".
So perhaps there is still more of a story to be told about this album. What's to come doesn't sound quite as exciting as the previous chapter though. Hopefully the film being made about its journey will just concentrate on that.