|WEDNESDAY 10 NOVEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A judge has now issued an order that will allow lawyers working for victims of last week's Astroworld crowd surge to inspect and document the festival's site at NRG Park in Houston, Texas. Securing such an order was one of the key reasons for those lawyers rush filing litigation on behalf of those impacted by the tragic events that took place during Travis Scott's headline set last Friday night... [READ MORE]|
Lawyers for Astroworld victims get access to the festival's site, as calls for independent investigation increase
Eight people died and hundreds more were injured as a result of the dangerous crowd surge that occurred during the first night of Scott's Astroworld festival. A criminal investigation is now well underway that is seeking to identify the sequence of events that led to the injuries and deaths, and to what extent poor planning or bad decision making on the ground contributed to the tragedy.
In addition to the criminal investigation, a stack of civil lawsuits on behalf of the families of those who died, and others who were injured or otherwise affected by Friday's events, have now been filed. The number of lawsuits filed or pending topped 35 by last night, with more still expected.
Lawyers working on all that litigation are keen to ensure that any evidence that might help confirm what happened on Friday - or possibly prove the liabilities of different parties involved in the event - is retained and made accessible. Hence the demand that the court issue a temporary injunction ensuring that happens.
According to Billboard, the various defendants named in the lawsuits - in particular Scott himself and the festival's two promoters, Live Nation and Scoremore - agreed to the basic requests being made by the plaintiffs and their legal teams. With that in mind, Harris County District Judge Ravi K Sandill issued the required court order, technically in response to the first lawsuit filed, but it covers all the litigation that has been formally instigated.
As a result of the order, teams working for the plaintiffs were able to access the Astroworld site from yesterday, with access also available today and tomorrow. Sandill noted that while the defendants had not objected to this order, that doesn't stop them from fighting the lawsuits, or seeking to force any legal action to another court.
Back with the criminal investigation, calls are mounting for independent investigators to be brought in to head up that work. That's on the basis that the local police department was involved in the policing of Astroworld, which means it now leading on the criminal investigation into what happened to cause last week's tragedy possibly constitutes a conflict of interest.
A spokesperson for the police department declined to comment on that possible conflict, nor whether police chiefs were considering handing the investigation over to an outside agency.
However, the elected county judge of Harris County, Lina Hidalgo, has indicated that she would like some sort of independent investigation to take place, telling reporters: "These families are grieving and it's so much harder to do so without answers".
Apple can't postpone injunction that's forcing it to allow in-app links to alternative payment options
The injunction was issued in September as part of Apple's ongoing legal battle with Fortnite maker Epic Games, which put the spotlight on the former's App Store rules, which companies like Epic and Spotify claim are anti-competitive.
Epic has gone legal over those App Store rules in multiple countries. With the case in California, judge Rogers actually rejected most of Epic's competition law arguments against Apple. However, she did side with the gaming company when it came to allowing app makers to sign-post other payment options.
A key restriction put on many iOS apps is that in-app payments must be taken via Apple's own commission-charging transactions platform. Not only that, but an app maker can't include links in the app that take users to web pages elsewhere on the internet where other payment platforms can be accessed. That latter rule is dubbed an "anti-steering" policy.
Actually, Apple is in the process of axing that "anti-steering" rule for so called 'reader apps' - which would include Spotify - as a result of a settlement it reached with a Japanese regulator. However, that change to the rules doesn't help Epic. Which is why the injunction issued by Rogers was significant for the gaming company.
Apple has been busy trying to have said injunction postponed on the basis that both it and Epic are appealing the wider judgement in the Californian case. The injunction, it argued, should be paused pending the appeals. But Epic hit back, arguing that the appeals process could take years.
Yesterday Rogers said that Apple's arguments in favour of postponing her injunction were invalid. In a pretty disparaging conclusion, she wrote: "Apple's motion is based on a selective reading of this court’s findings and ignores all of the findings which supported the injunction, namely incipient antitrust conduct including super-competitive commission rates resulting in extraordinarily high operating margins and which have not been correlated to the value of its intellectual property".
"This incipient antitrust conduct", she added, "is the result, in part, of the anti-steering policies which Apple has enforced to harm competition. As a consequence, the motion [to postpone the injunction] is fundamentally flawed".
Apple has until 9 Dec to change its App Store rule on alternative payment links, although in the meantime it plans to appeal yesterday's ruling.
Closing arguments presented in Jay-Z's perfume dispute
Parlux partnered with the rapper to launch a perfume product called Gold Jay-Z back in 2013. However, the company claims, when the product was launched, its celebrity partner failed to promote the fragrance, resulting in millions of dollars in losses.
In an entertaining back and forth between Jay-Z and Parlux's attorney Anthony Viola earlier this month, the rapper basically argued that Gold Jay-Z failed because of the perfume's company's "crappy, lazy" marketing efforts.
According to Law360, during yesterday's summing up, Jay-Z's lawyer Alex Spiro again argued that Parlux wasn't up to the task of marketing a prestigious product like Gold Jay-Z, while also questioning the credibility of some of the perfume company's key witnesses.
He also argued that - wherever the Parlux side had identified specific promotional activity that Jay-Z declined to participate in - there were always good reasons. Sometimes logistical, sometimes because of legitimate concerns about the partners Parlux was working with.
And finally Spiro echoed a statement made by Jay-Z himself during his testimony: he had no reason to deliberately set out to make Gold Jay-Z fail, given it was his name and his brand that was publicly attached to the perfume product.
As for Parlux's closing remarks, the aforementioned Viola told the jury that most of the issues raised by Jay-Z and his team during the court hearing were distractions, because this was ultimately a case that centres on the rapper's contractual obligations to Parlux, and whether or not he honoured the commitments he signed up to in his contract.
Despite those contractural commitments, Jay-Z failed to participate in an assortment of promotional activity, Viola argued. And then - noting Jay-Z's claim during his testimony that he was "on trial for something I didn't do" - Parlux's lawyer was able to get in one last entertaining dig against his sparring partner: "He's right - we have him on trial because he didn't do anything".
This case is discussed further in this week's edition of our Setlist podcast.
Gig clip app TagMix announces partnership with Warner Music
TagMix says that its app has been built "to instantly enhance videos of live events like clubs, gigs and festivals by replacing the audio with a real-time, pro-quality audio stream, straight from the mixing desk". This, it adds, enables "consumers to upgrade their experience with pro-visual assets" and "helps them share the moment in an easy and frictionless way".
Confirming the partnership with Warner, TagMix CEO Andy Dean says: "We are THRILLED that Warner Music Group has come on board at what is a pivotal time for the business. Given that live events have been severely impacted by the recent pandemic, we are very much looking forward to being able to work hand-in-hand with WMG and its artists to both expand our offering in the gig scene and to offer greater value to both musicians and fans".
The Scala bans two "rogue" security guards following Wargasm assault
In a statement at the weekend, Wargasm explained that - while loading out of the venue - "a bouncer was verbally aggressive to our female tour manager, leading to Sam having to step in". Amid the resulting altercation, "three bouncers then dragged Sam into the backstage toilets, where two of them slammed his head against the toilet seat and held his head in the toilet bowl while the third bouncer held the door closed with his foot".
There has been criticism of The Scala's slow response to these claims, which the venue's management noted in their statement yesterday. They said that they had conducted a "full investigation" and spoken to all parties involved, adding: "Unfortunately, this detailed inquiry has taken time and we were not able to respond as quickly as social media would have liked".
"The two security personnel involved were deployed by Saber Security Ltd to work at the club night", the statement continued. "Having completed an extensive investigation, a detailed study of CCTV, and met with the directors of the security company, the two rogue individuals who carried out the offence were dismissed from working at Scala with immediate effect".
The venue's management added that they have "actively encouraged [Wargasm] to report the incident to the police and that we would assist them wholeheartedly".
This statement still leaves several questions unanswered about the incident. For example, two security guards have been barred from working at The Scala, but Wargasm said that three were involved in the assault. It's also not clear if the two "rogue individuals" are still employed by Saber Security and may turn up at other venues in London as a result.
In a statement following that of The Scala, organisers of Face Down - the club night at which Wargasm had performed - said: "We are working with Wargasm's management and have scheduled a face to face meeting with Scala after noting their press release. We believe more can be done".
"We are now in contact with the security company and are waiting for their response", they later added. "Whilst we don't employ them, we feel we needed to speak to them as your safety is such a high priority for us".
Wargasm have not provided further comment since their statement on Saturday.
Twitch announces programme to help music-makers navigate the livestreaming thing
Talking about the scheme to Billboard, Twitch's Head Of Music, Tracy Chan, said: "There's a bunch of things that can make musicians successful on Twitch, but we've heard from a lot of musicians that it can be perceived to be difficult to get started".
"We really wanted to form a programme to help make sure that creators are successful on our service", he added. "We want to help artists learn that livestream playbook for music. This is a new format, we know there are certain behaviours, certain tools, certain software setups that really help musicians be successful".
Twitch has been actively courting music-makers for a while now, of course, as it seeks to expand its community of creators far beyond the gamers that were originally its focus. That has resulted in much sparring between the Amazon business and the record companies and music publishers, which have become much more vocal about all the unlicensed music that appears in streams on the platform.
Some licensing and partnership deals have been secured with music companies, though at the same time Twitch has been reaching out to artists directly, pitching livestreaming on the platform as both a fanbase building tactic and a new direct-to-fan revenue stream that will outlive the COVID-caused spike in livestreamed music that occurred last year.
Some artists have found audiences on the platform and are now monetising their livestreaming activity, though plenty of other music-makers who have dabbled with Twitch have struggled to gain any traction on the service. That's possibly because they just don't have the right kind of fanbase for such activity, or maybe they are just doing it wrong. If it's the latter, Twitch hopes The Collective will help.
The Amazon service is partnering with various DIY distributors to recruit grassroots artists to take part in the programme, including DistroKid, UnitedMasters and TuneCore.
Confirming TuneCore's involvement, its CEO Andreea Gleeson said: "Twitch has built and continues to foster a strong, loyal community, and by turning its attention to independent artists, the service shows limitless possibilities for the music industry. TuneCore is excited to partner with Twitch in launching The Collective, a livestreaming incubator that will provide artists with access to mentors and tools".
"There is so much potential for emerging artists on Twitch", she added, "through livestreaming, they can earn revenue, find new audiences, connect directly with fans in real time, and build community – our hope is that this programme will lead to more TuneCore artists creating their own channels and growing their brands alongside their music in order to move forward in their careers".
Jenny Hval has signed a new record deal with 4AD to release her first solo album since 2019. First single, 'Jupiter', is out now, which she describes as "a post-apocalyptic road trip", saying: "It begins by the art installation Prada Marfa in Texas, but turns into a game of identification and absurd imagery. The song winds its way through a desert-scape where values, genres, representation and relationships are breaking down. It tickles our death drive and throws us into space". She will also play EartH in London on 11 Apr.
Universal Music Publishing in the US has promoted Taylor Testa to VP A&R, based in Santa Monica. "It's been an honour contributing to the growth of this incredible company that always puts songwriters first", she says. "I am grateful to work with such talented songwriters who trust me with their art. I couldn't be more excited for this next chapter".
Jasmine Hsiao has been promoted to the position of Managing Director of Warner Music Taiwan. "I'm excited to take up this opportunity to lead the brilliant team here in Taipei", she says. "In addition to its heritage as a prolific producer of Mandopop for Chinese music fans around the world, Taiwan is also building a reputation in emerging genres such as hip hop and rap. Our team is well-positioned to aggressively expand our roster across all these fast-growing scenes and take a leading position in the market".
Mitski will release her new album, 'Laurel Hell', on 4 Feb. Here's new single 'The Only Heartbreaker', which she says is about "the person always messing up in the relationship, the designated 'bad guy' who gets the blame. It could simply be about that, but I also wanted to depict something sadder beneath the surface, that maybe the reason you're always the one making mistakes is because you’re the only one trying". She has a sold out UK tour set for April next year, finishing with two shows in London at the Roundhouse and Brixton Academy.
Placebo will release their first album for nearly a decade, 'Never Let Me Go', on 25 Mar. From it, this is new single 'Surrounded By Spies'. The band are set to begin a UK and Ireland tour next week.
Shamir has announced that he will release his eighth album, 'Heterosexuality', on 11 Feb. Here's new single 'Cisgender'.
Beach House will release new album 'Once Twice Melody' on 18 Feb. Between now and then, they will release all the tracks from the LP in batches, with the first four out now. They have also announced that they will be in the UK for shows in May.
Blawan has released 'Blika', the latest track from his upcoming 'Woke Up Right Handed' EP.
Blood Red Shoes' Laura-Mary Carter has released new solo single 'Ceremony'. Her album, 'Town Called Nothing', is out on 3 Dec.
Nilüfer Yanya has announced that she will release her new album, 'Painless', on 4 Mar. Here's new single 'Stabilise'.
Spector have released new single 'Country Boy'. Frontman Fred Macpherson describes it as "a mini epic torn between glam and glum".
Poppy Ackroyd has released new single 'Murmurations'. Her new album, 'Pause', is out this week.
GIGS & TOURS
Fat Boy Slim has announced a show at Boxpark in London on 18 Dec, in aid of Martlets Hospice. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Glasgow venue to generate energy from clubbers' body heat
SWG3 has confirmed that it has begun installing the Bodyheat system, developed by Townrock Energy, and expects it to be ready for use in 2022.
The system works by collecting hot air from people on the dancefloor, cooling the venue and using it to recharge a thermal battery. It is estimated that it will save around 70 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year.
David Townsend from Edinburgh-based Townrock tells BBC News: "All this energy is currently left in the club and it gets too hot, or it's dumped into the atmosphere by a more conventional air conditioning system".
Explaining his company's ultimate ambitions - and presumably aware he currently has a worldwide audience of climate-concerned decision makers in his country at the moment - Townsend goes on: "We're really excited to actually take this global".
"We would love for different clubs in different cities to start to compete to be the most green", he adds, "and see off the back of that how they can get more customers, because the clubbing generation right now are very enlightened with regards to climate change and it will make a big difference for clubs to say that they're net zero".
The news follows Coldplay's announcement of plans to make their 2022 world tour more environmentally friendly, including by putting down a kinetic floor that will capture energy from people dancing to help power the show.