|FRIDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Travis Scott yesterday urged the victims of last week's Astroworld tragedy to get in touch by email so that he can "share his condolences and provide aid". The announcement came as another festival-goer died from the injuries she sustained during the fatal crowd surge at Scott's festival, meaning the total number of deaths is now nine. Meanwhile, the number of lawsuits filed in relation to the incident is approaching 60... [READ MORE]|
Travis Scott urges Astroworld victims to get in touch as another festival-goer dies from her injuries
The crowd surge occurred during Scott's headline set at the festival he founded in Houston, Texas. In addition to the nine people who died, hundreds more were injured. A criminal investigation is underway 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.
Scott has now issued four statements following last Friday's events. The first two were initial responses on social media in which the rapper said he was "devastated" about what had happened at his festival and that he was fully supporting the Houston Police Department's investigation.
The third committed financial support for the families of those who had died and announced partnerships with various mental health organisations for festival-goers here were traumatised by the crowd surge and what they witnessed as a result.
Yesterday's statement urged those victims who want support from the musician to get in touch via email. It said: "Over the last week, Travis Scott and his team have been actively exploring routes of connection with each and every family affected by the tragedy through the appropriate liaisons. He is distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid to them as soon as possible, but wants to remain respectful of each family's wishes on how they'd best like to be connected". Those wishing to connect should email AW21information@gmail.com.
The litigation being filed in relation to the Astroworld crowd surge continues to mount up. And while the number of actual lawsuits is getting close to 60, one of the first lawyers to speak publicly about the tragedy - Thomas J Henry - has told CNN that he is now representing about 150 people who attended the festival, and anticipates that number could as yet rise to 200. Two other lawyers actively working on cases - Ben Crump and Alex Hilliard - have announced a press briefing later today to update people on their activity.
Meanwhile, the criminal investigation also continues. There have been multiple calls for an agency other than Houston PD to lead on that investigation, given that the police department was itself involving in policing crowds at the festival, and some off-duty officers from the force were also working for the private security company employed by Astroworld's promoters.
Others have also argued that some senior Houston officials have existing connections with Scott, the city's mayor Sylvester Turner having confirmed that he knows a number of the musician's family members. However, police chief Troy Finner told reporters this week that he'd only met Scott twice, the second time shortly before last Friday's performance.
Asked about possible conflicts of interest in his department leading the investigation, Finner said: "We investigate ourselves all the time". He confirmed that he was liaising with local FBI officials too and added: "I'm not against the independent investigation when it's warranted". However, he went on, such an independent investigation is not currently warranted.
He then concluded: "To be clear, HPD Homicide is investigating this case. We're taking the lead on it ... those who need to be held accountable will be held accountable".
Warner Music launches new label with Matthew Vaughn's Marv Studios
"Music is an essential part of story-telling and film; and something I have always been passionate about", says Vaughn. "This partnership with one of the world's leading record companies, gives us the platform to expand creatively, as well as grow our overall media business".
Marv CEO Zygi Kamasa adds: "This joint venture marks the start of an ambitious musical journey with Warner Music Group and we welcome an experienced music executive like Colin to the Marv family. Alongside our scaled-up production activity launching multiple franchise films, it signals our ambition to work with the best artists to create world-leading music for film and music fans to enjoy for years to come".
Meanwhile, Warner Music CEO For Recorded Music, Max Lousada, comments: "Together, music and film create powerful cultural moments, with songs playing a huge role in propelling a narrative and amplifying its emotional impact. This partnership is a dynamic way for our artists to collaborate with other original storytellers, expand their creative universes, and reach massive new audiences".
Marv Music's first release - put out jointly with Warner's Parlophone label - will be 'Measure Of A Man', a track for upcoming film 'The King's Man', performed by FKA Twigs. That will arrive next week. Another song, 'The Christmas Sweater', performed by Michael Buble - taken from another imminent film, 'Silent Night' - will follow later this month.
As Taylor's version of Red is released, FT reports on how Ithaca Holdings went about selling the rights in the original
Swift announced that she was planning to re-record her old albums after expressing anger and distress at Braun's company buying the Big Machine record company in 2019 and - with it - the recording rights in her first six albums. She accused Braun of having bullied her in the past, and said that having the artist manager and music entrepreneur in control of her catalogue was her "worst case scenario".
Record contracts usually include some restrictions on artists recording new versions of old releases, but those restrictions lift after a number of years. Swift made it clear that she planned to re-record all of her Big Machine records as soon as her past contracts allowed. The first, 'Taylor's Version' of 'Fearless', was released in April this year, supported by the musician's current record company partner Universal Music.
While the six Swift albums were definitely the crown jewels of Braun's Big Machine acquisition, the backlash that followed from Swift and her fanbase proved too much for Ithaca and its financial backer the Carlyle Group. Which is why they decided to offload the recordings. The buyer was equity fund Shamrock, which paid $300 million for the rights.
Given Swift's widely known plan to re-record all those albums - and then encourage her fans to only stream the new versions - some wondered how wise that $300 million deal was on Shamrock's part, even though $50 million of that price tag is subject to the subsequent performance of the recordings.
But, it seems, Ithaca Holdings told potential buyers that Swift might ultimately abandon her re-record plans. Meanwhile, all the controversy around its Big Machine acquisition had just boosted the streaming figures on all those old albums.
In its new report, the FT states: "While shopping the masters around, they told potential acquirers that Swift might not actually follow through on her threats, and the publicity generated by her ire only boosted listening of the old catalogue, according to three people approached to buy the asset".
One of those sources seemingly claims that "the message was: the controversy has been great for us. Every time she lights us up online, people go listen to those songs".
"That pitch sounded reasonable enough", the FT goes on, "after all, what currently charting pop star would bother spending years of their life recreating decades-old work?"
Well, this charting pop star, obviously. The fact that COVID left the always prolific Swift with more time on her hands - with any touring activity off the agenda - definitely increased the chances of her going through with the re-records project. And - it seems - she's actually really enjoyed the creative side of that project now that it's underway.
Of course, while Swift's core fanbase will go out of their way to only listen to the new versions of the records when they become available, plenty of other people will end up streaming the originals, and the marketing around the re-records may well deliver a spike on the original versions too. So, Shamrock's investment isn't necessarily a complete dud.
Although, there is also the issue that certain potential big money exploitations of the records - such as high profile sync deals - will require approval from Swift when it comes to the accompanying song rights. And that allows her to force licensees in those scenarios to use her new versions of the records, even if said licensees would otherwise be happy to risk the wrath of her fanbase by licensing the originals.
Certainly, one of the investment funds that passed on the opportunity to buy the Swift rights recognised the risk of such an acquisition. "To extract maximum value from music assets you absolutely need, if not co-operation from the artist, you at least need them to not be actively angry", they told the FT.
All three security guards involved in Wargasm assault now banned from working at The Scala
In a statement last 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".
On Tuesday, The Scala announced that it had now conducted a "full investigation" into what happened on Friday night and that, as a result, two security guards had been banned from working at the venue. It said: "The two security personnel involved were deployed by Saber Security Ltd to work at the club night. The two rogue individuals who carried out the offence were dismissed from working at Scala with immediate effect".
That statement left some questions unanswered, though. First, why had only two security guards been banned when three were involved in the assault? And second, while they had been banned from working at The Scala, did Saber Security now intend to deploy those men to other London venues?
Wargasm themselves provided an update on Twitter yesterday, confirming that the third man involved in the assault had also now been banned from working at The Scala.
They stated: "After working with Saber Security and Scala, the three bouncers in question have been fired from their positions at Scala. We hope this serves as a reminder to all other security and staff in positions of power that there are rules to be followed for people's safety, and that actions have consequences".
Meanwhile, according to NME, Saber Security has confirmed that it has "suspended the services of the security operatives concerned, pending a full and thorough investigation".
The Scala also posted another update regarding security at the venue yesterday ahead of a sold out performance by Erika De Casier last night, seeking to reassure her fans that lessons had been learned and changes made. After Wargasm went public about the assault against Matlock last weekend, a number of other artists and fans took to social media to discuss their own negative experiences with security personnel at the London venue.
The Scala's statement read: "Having liaised with Erika's team we are looking forward to welcoming Erika De Casier to Scala tonight for her sold out show".
"We would like to take this opportunity to reassure all of her fans and our customers that their enjoyment and safety is paramount to us", it went on. "We have introduced a larger team of female to male ratio of security personnel and will have an increased amount of staff to greet you at the door. We look forward to welcoming you and seeing you this evening".
Global-linked investment vehicle no longer pushing to acquire major stake in iHeartMedia
Earlier this year it emerged that an entity called Global Media & Entertainment Investments was seeking regulator approval in the US to increase its shareholding in iHeartMedia. That investment outfit is incorporated in the Bahamas and headed up by Michael Tabor, who is also a key backer of the main Global media company in the UK, and father of its President Ashley Tabor-King.
In a letter to US media regulator the FCC in March, GMEI confirmed that it had acquired 8.7% of the publicly listed iHeartMedia. Because of US rules regarding the foreign ownership of media companies, iHeart had sought approval from the FCC for Global’s current equity holding, and also for it to increase its stake to 9.99%.
However, in its letter GMEI said it actually wanted FCC approval to increase its iHeart share-holding beyond 9.99%, maybe going as high as 49.99%. It added that it had asked iHeart itself to seek approval for such a larger share-holding, but - as the US media firm had not done so - it was now seeking FCC approval directly.
GMEI increasing its stake in iHeart beyond 9.99% would actually also need approval from the US media firm's board, because of the company's own rules. The fact the board hadn't asked the FCC for prior approval for GMEI to increase its share-holding beyond 9.99% suggested that it wasn't too keen on allowing the investment fund to grow its stake to that extent.
But, in its letter earlier this year, GMEI argued that that shouldn't stop the FCC from pre-approving any future deal it might agree with the iHeart directors.
However, according to the Radio + Television Business Report, GMEI has now called off its bid to get a bigger stake in iHeart. It reported earlier this week that "GMEI wanted a bigger non-controlling stake in iHeart - one that could expand to 49.99%, if it chose to - but, iHeart didn't want this, sparking a transcontinental tiff between the two radio industry giants. On 3 Nov, GMEI, through its US legal counsel, abruptly ceased its fight for a bigger iHeart stake".
GMEI is the second iHeart investor to call off ambitions to significantly increase its stake in the company. At one point Liberty Media was also looking to increase its iHeart stake, maybe to as high as 50%. That also created regulatory concerns, though in Liberty's case for competition law reasons, given it also controls Sirius XM and Pandora, and owns a third of Live Nation.
But last month it emerged that Liberty had now sold all its iHeart shares, formally ending its ambitions in that domain.
The Pirate Bay story to become TV drama
Currently in the early stages, the show - a co-production between SVT and B-Reel Films - is written by Piotr Marciniak and is set to be directed by Jens Sjögren. Filming is currently scheduled to begin in autumn 2022.
SVT's Programme Manager For Drama, Anna Croneman, says in a statement: "SVT Drama's mission is to, together with our most talented writers, shape the story of Sweden. 'The Pirate Bay' is an exciting and completely unique story about the shift when the 'old' analogue world collided head-on with the 'new' digital. This happened in Sweden, and the whole world watched".
Sjögren adds: "As a director, it's like a dream to be able to stage a story, based on real events, that involves both a passionate youth movement like the climate movement today, big movie producers in Hollywood, the White House, and secret agents".
Speaking to TorrentFreak, Sunde said that finding out about the planned show was "flattering, and a bit nerve-racking". He added: "I think it's an important story and, if they get into production, I hope they'll do it justice - and not make me look like too much of a fool".
He also revealed that he is currently developing his own film about The Pirate Bay, saying that, to tell the story properly, "I feel there needs to be a more personal touch into making it: TPB for me is techno, love, drugs, and Foucault. I get that we were great at strategically making the media fall for our pranks and that’s still fun, but the story was so much more".
"I am really hoping that both projects turn out great, and hopefully they'll spark some debate again about the important issue: who owns and controls our internet and our cultural heritage", he concluded.
No date for when the SVT show will air has yet been announced, nor is there any word on whether it will be available outside Sweden.
Universal Music Publishing has signed producer and songwriter Cirkut to a worldwide deal. "I'm THRILLED to be working with such an awesome group of people at UMPG", says Cirkut. "We are so THRILLED to welcome the talented Cirkut to our UMPG family", adds SVP A&R Lillia Parsa.
EDUCATION & EVENTS
UK record industry trade group the BPI has announced that the next edition of its Equality Sessions on 2 Dec will focus on disability and the music industry, in partnership with Attitude Is Everything. The two hour seminar is free to all. Sign up here for access.
Little Mix have released new single, 'No', co-written by Kamille, MNEK and Tre Jean-Marie. "We knew this song had to be a single", says the group's Leigh-Anne Pinnock. "It feels like a classic Little Mix track, but also fresh and new at the same time".
Grimes has launched a new "AI girl group" - a virtual band whose members can be voted in or out of the core group by fans, similar to real life J-pop act AKB48 - called NPC. Their first track, 'A Drug From God', which is a collaboration with Chris Lake, is out now.
Who'd like to hear a new Jack White album in 2022? How about two? Because that's what's happening. Jack White is releasing two albums in 2022. 'Fear Of The Dawn' on 22 Apr and 'Entering Heaven Alive' on 22 Jul. Here's the video for 'Taking Me Back' from 'Fear Of The Dawn'.
Let's Eat Grandma will release their third album, 'Two Ribbons', on 8 Apr. The title track is out now. "'Two Ribbons' is a song I wrote to, and about, two of the closest people in my life, and how my relationships with them shifted over time through loss and life changes", says the duo's Jenny Hollingworth. "It touches on the isolating experience of grieving, our powerlessness in the face of death, and the visceral emotions of grief".
Confidence Man will release their second album, 'Tilt', on 1 Apr. No joke. New single, 'Holiday', is out now. "We've been trying for the most epic, hands up, euphoric anthem for a while and this is the first time we've come close", says the band's Sugar Bones of the track. "Turns out it's pretty difficult, but nothing's too hard for con man". The band will be touring the UK in May next year too.
The latest single from the new Bonobo album is out. 'Otomo' features O'Flynn, and that album, 'Fragments', will be out on 14 Jan.
Berwyn's latest track, 'MIA', is out now. "This song means the absolute universe to me", he says. "It's a dedication to all the missing pieces that aren't here anymore. I titled it 'MIA' because it does what it says on the tin, it's a time to think and to honour the people that aren't with us now … and to acknowledge the fact that there is still a lot of violence outside".
Murakage Dave has released new single 'Awful Things', featuring Caroline Polachek. He's also released another track called 'Don't Move To London It's A Trap'. Caroline Polachek's not on that one. Maybe she heeded his advice.
Daði Freyr has released Christmas single 'Something Magical'. "Making a Christmas song is really freeing in a way because I feel like I can get away with anything", he says. "It's a Christmas song so of course I’m going to say baby fourteen times in a row".
Mellah has released new single 'Yesterday', alongside new EP '333 (Them)'. "'Yesterday' is about small talk", he says. "The niceties we perform to avoid silences or even worse being honest with each other. 'How are you' has always seemed like such a strange question to be asked or to ask. It never invokes a genuine response and is virtually impossible to answer".
Rudi Zygadlo is back with new single 'Athens Love Boat'. "As the general sound of the album began to take shape, becoming more raucous and unapologetic, so too this song", he says of the track, which started out as a piano ballad. "I suppose the question could be asked of this song - what remains of the original? I'm not really sure".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Abba's Anni-Frid "surprised" by claims that new album will be the band's last
Last week, of course, Abba released their first new album for almost 40 years, and next year they will launch a new live show in which the four members of the band will be represented by digital avatars.
So, while it seems unlikely that the real Abba will perform together on stage again any time soon, what are the chances that they might make more new music for those avatars to play? Speaking to Zoe Ball on her BBC Radio 2 breakfast show yesterday, Lyngstad said: "I have learnt to say 'never say never'".
That 'never say never' phrase also came up in an interview with Andersson and Ulvaeus last week on BBC 'Breakfast'. "I never say never", Ulvaeus said when asked if there would be more music from the band. Except, he then added that he thought this new album probably "was our goodbye".
"I don't want to do another Abba album", said Andersson more firmly. "But I'm not alone in this. There are four of us. If they twist my arm, I might change my mind".
In yesterday's interview, Lyngstad said that she was "very surprised that Benny and Björn" had said that 'Voyage' would be Abba's final release and "cannot remember" having a conversation where that was decided.
"We have probably said it must be the last thing we do because, also thinking of our ages, we are not young any longer", she said. "But I would say again, you never know. So don't be too sure".
I don't know about you, but I can't take all this suspense. Let's change the subject. How about Lyngstad's view on Eurovision? Those are surely uncontroversial, since Abba kicked off their career by winning the big old Song Contest in 1974.
"I'm not so interested, because it has changed so much over the years, and it's not what it was at that time", she says. "Now it's more like a show, it's very technical and there are some good songs coming out of it, but I cannot say I'm a fan of Eurovision, maybe I shouldn't say it, but I did it anyway".
Oh. Sorry to any Eurovision contestants who've ever imagined Lyngstad cheering them on as they took to the Contest's grand stage. It just ain't happening.
Though there is some good news for people who sit in the middle of the Abba fan / Eurovision fan Venn diagram. Because another "never say never" from the band involves Eurovision.
While Lyngstad might not be so interested in the Contest anymore, the same is not true for all of her bandmates. Andersson and Ulvaeus did say last week that they wouldn't be averse to writing a song for the next UK entrant. Kind of.
"What's the risk? You can't be worse than last", said Andersson, referencing the UK's terrible performance at this year's event. Ulvaeus - slightly less convinced - said that the performer would need to be "a really good act". They agreed - like I think we all have - that Dua Lipa would be the right person to sing the song.
Though, despite her management team being in charge of choosing next year's entrant, Dua Lipa seemed to rule herself out when that was announced last month. Maybe she'd be more interested if she was going to be performing an Abba song.