|MONDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The conservatorship that has controlled the personal and professional life of Britney Spears for more than thirteen years has been formally terminated. As a result, the musician is now back in control of her estate and business, and will no longer be required to pay a team of professionals and lawyers to manage her affairs... [READ MORE]|
Britney Spears' conservatorship terminated
LA judge Brenda Penny announced on Friday that: "The conservatorship of the person and of the estate of Britney Jean Spears is hereby terminated". Penny added that the accountant who was appointed as an interim conservator of Britney's estate in September - John Zabel - would continue to work in a limited role for a time handling some admin tasks and overseeing the transfer of assets.
Britney's affairs became subject to the conservatorship in 2008 in the wake of her very public mental breakdown. For most of the following thirteen years, the conservatorship was very much controlled by the musician's father Jamie Spears.
As the years went by, there were rumours that Britney herself was becoming frustrated with the conservatorship and her father's control over her life, and those rumours resulted in the fan-led #FreeBritney campaign.
Things came to a head after Jamie temporarily stood down from his conservatorship role due to ill health. When he sought to return, legal efforts began to reduce his influence over his daughter's affairs. A subsequent legal back and forth led to Britney's headline grabbing testimony in court earlier this year in which she was scathing about the conservatorship in general and her father in particular.
In the wake of that testimony, various people involved in the conservatorship resigned, including her court-appointed attorney. Britney then hired her own legal counsel, Mathew Rosengart, who began calling for the immediate removal of Jamie from any involvement in his daughter's affairs, and for the conservatorship to be terminated entirely.
Ultimately Jamie announced he also supported the termination of the conservatorship, although he hit back at allegations made by Rosengart that he had mismanaged his daughter's finances, and argued there was no need to have him removed as Britney's conservator of the estate in the short term. Nevertheless, he was replaced by Zabel at the end of September, even though by that point it looked like the entire conservatorship would soon be wound up.
Before last week's ruling that formally brought the conservatorship to an end, Rosengart also told the court that a "safety net" had been put in place - by him and others involved in the conservatorship - to ensure a smooth transition as his client resumes control of her finances, career and personal life.
Sharing a video of her fans - and avid #FreeBritney campaigners - celebrating outside the courthouse as Friday's ruling was confirmed, Britney wrote on Twitter: "Good God I love my fans so much it's crazy! I think I'm gonna cry the rest of the day! Best day ever - praise the Lord - can I get an Amen? #FreedBritney".
Also outside the courthouse was Rosengart, who told reporters: "What's next for Britney is up to one person - and this is the first time we can say this in [more than] a decade. It's up to Britney. Britney, as of today, is a free woman. I thank her for her courage and poise and power and for our relationship".
As for whether litigation will now follow against Jamie Spears and others involved the conservatorship in relation to those allegations of mismanagement remains to be seen. Asked about that, Rosengart said that whether any lawsuit will be filed is "up to my client Britney".
Tenth Astroworld victim dies
According to reports, Treston Blount put his son on his shoulders as Scott's headline set began on the evening of Friday 5 Nov at Houston's NRG Park, standing towards the back of the crowd where he thought things would be calmer.
However, he was still caught up in the subsequent crowd surge. Treston lost consciousness resulting in Ezra falling to the ground, where the nine year old was trampled, sustaining significant injuries. Ezra had been on life-support in an induced coma ever since the evening of the Astroworld tragedy.
Confirming that Ezra had now died from his injuries, the legal team representing the Blount family - which includes noted civil rights attorney Ben Crump - said: "The Blount family tonight is grieving the incomprehensible loss of their precious young son".
"This should not have been the outcome of taking their son to a concert, what should have been a joyful celebration", the lawyers added. "Ezra's death is absolutely heartbreaking. We are committed to seeking answers and justice for the Blount family. But tonight we stand in solidarity with the family, in grief, and in prayer".
Crump and his colleagues had already filed litigation on behalf of the Blount family. Indeed, Crump held a press conference outside the Harris County Civil Courthouse in Houston on Friday, announcing that he was filing more than 90 lawsuits on behalf of over 200 people who attended the festival.
Among others, those lawsuits target Scott and his Cactus Jack company, as well as Astroworld promoters Live Nation and Scoremore. The Crump-led litigation joins countless other lawsuits filed in relation to the crowd surge.
Meanwhile, Scott's lawyer, Edwin F McPherson, who previously issued a statement on his client's behalf, gave an interview on 'Good Morning America' on Friday.
In it he discussed why Scott's headline set continued for more than half an hour after police had declared a "mass casualty event" at the festival, and also whether the rapper's past encouragement of dangerous behaviour at his shows contributed to this month's tragedy.
McPherson had previously criticised the Houston Police Department, which initially defended the decision not to call off Scott's performance as soon as a "mass casualty event" had been declared - saying that doing so could have incited a riot - but later sought to shift responsibility for the show continuing onto the rapper and his team.
Asked whether Scott was aware of what was a happening in the crowd during his Astroworld performance, McPherson was adamant that neither the rapper nor his crew knew about the scale of the crowd surge or the "mass casualty event" declaration, adding: "Travis didn't really understand the full effect of everything until the next morning".
He also insisted that Scott couldn't be expected to see or hear the problems as they unfolded, and could therefore only stop the show if told to do so by others working at the event.
The rapper, the lawyer said, "does not have any ability to know what’s going on down below. When he's up on the stage and has flash pots going off around him and he has an ear monitor that has music blasted though it and his own voice - he can't hear anything and he can't see anything".
Beyond what specifically happened at Astroworld 2021, the lawsuits against Scott and Live Nation will also argue that the rapper has a long history of encouraging and celebrating dangerous behaviour at his shows, and that it was therefore inevitable that eventually his performances would lead to some kind of tragedy.
Although not commenting specifically on past charges Scott had faced - not to mention an ongoing lawsuit - all as a result of him allegedly inciting dangerous behaviour during his shows, McPherson argued that the rapper had become more responsible in that domain in recent years.
"Travis as an artist has really grown up a lot", he said. "I have spoken personally to him about this - and he really didn't understand the magnitude of his power up on the stage, I think, as a young performer. He has matured over the years, he does understand that".
McPherson then noted that, during his Astroworld set earlier this month, when the rapper did become aware of issues - first seeing an ambulance as it tried to make its way through the crowd, and later when he saw that a fan had collapsed near the stage - he did pause the show, and urge security and audience members to help.
And when asked about Scott encouraging his fans to "rage" at his concerts, McPherson insisted that, while his client wanted an engaged audience, he also wanted a safe show. "You want your audience to be engaged", McPherson said. "You want them to be standing up, you don't want them to be sitting down - he wanted them to be engaged, he wanted them to have a good time".
We discuss the legal fall out from Astroworld 2021 in more detail in this week's edition of Setlist.
Carter Lang extends deal with Warner Chappell
"Warner Chappell understands my creative flow, and together with EF we've adapted naturally", says Lang. "They've helped me make some invaluable connections, secure deals and navigate the field while I focus on creating and balancing spontaneity with precision".
Meanwhile, Warner Chappell CEO Guy Moot and COO Carianne Marshall say in a joint statement: "Carter is an incredible hitmaker with a range of musical talents, from playing piano and drums to producing beats and writing songs. He's a true master of his craft, and we're so THRILLED to continue on this journey with him".
And let's not forget that this is joint deal. A&R Partner at Electric Feel Entertainment, David Waltzer, adds: "Carter has had an unbelievable year and this deal with Warner Chappell only further continues his upward trajectory. His commitment to music and his amazing ear shows just how talented and versatile he truly is. I look forward to more success in the coming year alongside Carter and Warner Chappell".
JioSaavn founders to step down
The Saavn streaming platform was co-founded by Rishi Malhotra, Vinodh Bhat and Paramdeep Singh - who have continued to work for the company as CEO, President and Executive Vice Chairman respectively.
Saavn merged with Jio Music after Indian conglom Reliance Industries acquired a majority stake in the company in 2018, Reliance also owning India tel co Jio and its spin off services.
According to Billboard's sources, it's a newly appointed VP at Jio Entertainment Services - which oversees JioSaavn and the company's video-on-demand platforms - that has resulted in tensions between the parent company and the Saavn founders.
It reports: "The recent hiring of Khushboo Yadav as VP of Jio Entertainment Services is believed to have triggered the development. According to one person close to the company, Yadav, who has taken over JioSaavn's licensing negotiations with labels, is said to have an 'aggressive' working style that is at odds with the prevailing culture at the streaming service".
Malhotra, Bhat and Singh - who are expected to retain their seats on the JioSaavn board - apparently informed their team that they will be standing down from their day-to-day roles during a meeting last week.
BBC Radio 2 announces celebration of songwriters and songwriting
Other artists and songwriters who will appear across the series - that will air on Radio 2 itself and within the BBC Sounds app - include Ed Sheeran, Cerys Matthews, Gary Barlow, Emeli Sandé, John Legend and Craig David.
Sheeran will present a programme looking at the songwriters of Nashville, while Cerys Matthews will talk to other music-makers about the first and most recent songs they wrote. The series will also put the spotlight back on Barlow's existing 'We Write The Songs' podcast, in which he chats to a whole bunch of super successful songwriters.
Want some quotes from Sheeran, Matthews and Barlow? Oh, go on then. Given you asked so nicely.
Sheeran: "As part of 'Radio 2 Celebrates Songwriting', I'm happy to introduce this special programme on the music of Nashville. It's the best song town on the planet and I've spent a lot of time there myself, with friends like Taylor Swift, Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Eldredge. I hope it'll give you an idea of exactly what it takes to be a successful songwriter in Nashville".
Matthews: "I can't wait to explore the journeys our songwriting guests have been on - from their first ever song, right up to their last. Join me as I discover the twists and turns, the highs and lows, and lessons learnt along the way".
Barlow: "I thoroughly enjoyed hearing these fantastic musicians share insights into their songwriting processes and how they crafted some of the biggest songs ever. As a songwriter, you're constantly looking for inspiration and who better to hear from than the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Sam Smith, Max Martin, Paloma Faith and more. I hope people enjoy listening to this series on BBC Sounds".
Meanwhile, Radio 2 chief Helen Thomas says: "Fabulous music is played on Radio 2 from start to finish every day, so 'Radio 2 Celebrates Songwriting' is our way to pay tribute to the incredible talents and skills of those who start with an empty sheet of paper - the people who help make our station sound so brilliant, superb songwriters from the UK and across the world!"
BandLab restructures media assets into NME Networks
Singapore-based BandLab - which is best known for providing various creator tools and services - bought The Guitar Magazine and MusicTech from UK-based publisher Anthem Publishing in 2018. It then acquired NME and Uncut from another UK publisher, TI Media, the following year. All four of those titles will become part of NME Networks.
Says BandLab: "Under the new structure, the brands within NME Networks will operate with a common purpose to create and curate content that entertains, inspires and informs the world of music. Each legendary media brand continues their same cutting-edge music content alongside other areas of the pop culture sphere, including film and TV, gaming, tech and lifestyle".
UK-based Holly Bishop - who joined BandLab from TI Media as a result of the NME/Uncut acquisition - now becomes Chief Operating & Commercial Officer of NME Networks. Meanwhile, Iliyas Ong becomes Editorial Director of the new business.
Bishop says of her new role: "The launch of NME Networks is a huge step forward in the evolution of our media proposition. The creation of a unified identity connected to the world's most famous music media brand - NME - enables us to realise the synergies between our brands and turn our collective audiences on to a deeper world of pop culture. I am delighted to step into my new role and drive growth for our brands, our partners and our people".
Ong adds: "Music courses through everything we do, and bringing together our world-class media brands under a common banner will only strengthen our position as a global leader in music and entertainment media. I'm THRILLED to be able to have a hand in leading the next stage of our evolution, driving growth in new territories, developing our talent, and engaging with the most important part of the puzzle: the fans. This is just the beginning".
Ed Sheeran says "pop peers actively want me to fail"
Speaking to DJ Chuckie Online on a new episode of the Halfcast Podcast, Sheeran says that many of his "pop peers" not only dislike him but "actively want me to fail", while a small number of artists, including Stormzy and Dave, are very supportive.
"I know lots of people in the industry and I enjoy hanging out with everyone", he says. "But ... I know so many artists who, whenever I win [they roll their eyes] and, actually, actively want me to fail. People that would never say it to my face, but I know, I just know... I hang around with people and I hear things".
Other musicians who do actively support him make up a fairly short list, he goes on. "[Stormzy] is the the most good-hearted successful person that I know that genuinely is overjoyed for my success", he says. "He sent me an email this week about how he felt about the album, which songs he likes. He probably thinks that everyone's doing that, but no one does that".
"Everyone just assumes that everyone's doing that", he goes on. "So no one actually tells me if a project's good ... And so it's him, Fraser T Smith, Dave and Elton John, [who] all sent me emails this week, in depth about the album, what they liked".
"I feel indebted to the [British black music] scene", he concludes. "I feel accepted. I feel like it's the only music community that roots for me. I feel like my own section - that I'm meant to be part of - don't like me. And they don't rate my music. And it's quite telling that Dave and Stormzy are both emailing me saying they like my album but none of my pop peers are".
Spice Girls' hold "secret" world tour talks
All of this was reported yesterday by The Sun On Sunday, which revealed that "very confidential" talks took place last week between the group's members. Or, at least, most of them.
Mel Brown, Emma Bunton and Geri Halliwell all met at the Mandeville Hotel in London, with Mel Chisholm joining them via Zoom. Victoria Beckham did not join in, but apparently it's hoped that she can nevertheless be convinced to join them for at least one show.
This particular meeting reportedly took place after Adele urged Mel B to get the group back together again when the latter appeared as a special guest on the former's 'An Audience With Adele' TV show. That was filmed earlier this month and will air on ITV1 this Sunday at 7.25pm. But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about this Spice Girls tour that's definitely happening.
News of the latest reunion plan comes via "insiders", one of whom is quoted as saying: "The four girls have been discussing a world tour for a while, and this very confidential meeting was put in the diary so they could iron out the final details. The current plan is [that] the tour will begin in Australia and go from there. They are all very excited that the wheels are now in motion, and are hoping to give their fans a 2023 tour bigger and better than 2019".
Referencing that Adele connection, the source said robotically: "One person who will definitely be in the audience is Adele. She is a real superfan, and told Mel seeing the girls in 2019 made her year".
Adele is a superfan indeed. As that "insider" notes, she was at the final show of the last Spice Girls reunion tour in 2019, and wept when the group performed her song 'Someone Like You'. She did also admit to being quite drunk though. So maybe she can relive all that in 2023. If this tour does go ahead.