TODAY'S TOP STORY: The YouTuber who was this week ordered to pay Cardi B a neat $4 million in damages after being found liable for defamation has vowed to appeal the ruling. She is now spinning the whole dispute as a big old battle against the sinister Hollywood machine and a full-on mission to protect the free speech rights contained in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Which is a lot of effort to go to just to secure the legal right to spread some lies about a rapper... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES YouTuber ordered to pay Cardi B $4 million in defamation dispute vows to appeal
LEGAL Apple's legal battle with Harold Arlen estate likely to proceed to jury
DEALS Universal announces new Amazon Music and Twitch deals
LABELS & PUBLISHERS DJ Fresh relaunches Breakbeat Kaos with Buushin collaboration
RELEASES Beatles rooftop performance arrives on streaming services
AWARDS Inflo named BRITs British Producer Of The Year
ONE LINERS Charli XCX, Luis Fonsi, Professor Green, more
AND FINALLY... Kanye West announces second Donda album to be released next month
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YouTuber ordered to pay Cardi B $4 million in defamation dispute vows to appeal
The YouTuber who was this week ordered to pay Cardi B a neat $4 million in damages after being found liable for defamation has vowed to appeal the ruling. She is now spinning the whole dispute as a big old battle against the sinister Hollywood machine and a full-on mission to protect the free speech rights contained in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Which is a lot of effort to go to just to secure the legal right to spread some lies about a rapper.

Latasha Kebe was sued by Cardi B - real name Belcalis Almanzar - over various claims that were made about the rapper in her videos on YouTube. That included that Almanzar "was a prostitute ... was a user of cocaine ... had and still has herpes ... had and still has HPV ... engaged in a debasing act with a beer bottle and ... committed infidelity".

During the court case Kebe basically admitted that she didn't fact-check any of the allegations made about Almanzar on her YouTube channel, even when the rapper was actively denying those allegations, and even when they were being made by a guest that she suspected was lying. She also insisted that most of the allegations that featured in her videos were simply "opinions", even though that's not how they were usually framed in the videos themselves.

Almanzar and her legal team, meanwhile, discussed the impact that the various allegations had on the rapper's mental health - a defamation claim needing to show damage as well as untruths. The rapper herself discussed how the widespread public speculation sparked by the rumours that were spread by Kebe made her depressed and suicidal.

The jury considering the case quickly sided with Almanzar and then awarded her $4 million in damages. Following the ruling, Kebe returned to her YouTube channel to deliver a statement in which she vowed to fight that judgement, while constructing and developing her "the Hollywood machine is attacking my First Amendment rights" narrative.

"These last four years fighting this conspiracy case have been extremely challenging", she told her YouTube audience. "And yet I wouldn't change a single thing about any of it. I've learned so much ... the verdict handed down on Monday was no shock to myself, my husband or my legal team, we were prepared for this challenge from the beginning".

"We called bluff against a machine that wanted to bully me for not wavering from my personal beliefs", she continued. "A machine that has corporate interest to protect prostitution, drug use, promiscuity, and to glorify the violence that wreaks havoc on our society and in our neighbourhoods - and to glorify, it's sold to our children as the 'it factor'".

"This machine secured an extremely prejudicial verdict against myself and my company solely off of sympathy and payola", she claimed, "asking me to redact the real reason as to why I was reporting on the issues at hand, and succeeded in making me out to be an angry and malicious woman".

"My platform creates news and sheds light on the issues going on in our society", she then mused, before ramping up the drama somewhat.

"My First Amendment right poses a threat to the machine's sole intention to mislead the public with caricatures built on violence, selling sex, and images of a denounced stereotype. My First Amendment right was painted to the public and courts as a bully, vile and malicious towards a machine that glorifies a lifestyle meant to serve as modern day genocide on our people".

"A machine that clearly influences our children on how to kill, sell their bodies and more", she went on. "You can't bully someone or something that takes pride in painting our children and teaching our children to be degenerates".

"And if you are a public figure that pushes this image and this lifestyle for likes and views and a way to make money in our society, then I and we have the duty to exercise our First Amendment right as traditional media and new age digital media analysts to say 'no, this ain't it'".

"This is not defamation or invasion of privacy when these machines have pushed this lifestyle on us for profit", she insisted. "This ain't about $4 million, this machine never wanted my money, they wanted to shut down my company in order to protect their assets that glorify this reckless and dangerous lifestyle pushed on us and our children".

The case, she added, was "about someone demanding that I respect and give respect to something that has never earned my respect, this is about changing the trajectory of how things have been done in Hollywood for over a century - there are no more gatekeepers, no more red tape, no more waiting to be picked and told what you have to do".

"If we simply believe in ourselves and our God-given right to live our lives purposeful, and don't allow our gifts to die with us, we all hold the key to change".

"This case was meant to drain me financially ... and send a message to anyone who thinks they have the right to challenge a machine that protects their corporate interests", she stated, but - she insisted - despite this week's ruling, that hadn't happened. "I was supposed to be destroyed a long time ago, but it did not happen, I am still here. We are still here".

"This is just the beginning", she then confirmed. "I will spend as many years as I can to protect our right to voice our opinions and facts on these images that are sold and pushed on us".

"My case will set a precedent for all future media and we intend to fight until the truth is out - there was no defamation, no invasion of privacy and suicidal thoughts, and we proved that with sufficient factual evidence ... The appeal process has already started and we intend to expose every conspiracy against me, my company and my family".

So, that's something to look forward to.

It remains to be seen if Kebe's attempts to position herself as a champion for the free speech rights of independent creators against the machine works. It probably won't. Given the starting point of this dispute - and her admissions in court around fact-checking and how she was aware that lies can drive traffic and ad income - she's not really a great frontperson for that fight, even if you believe - in the wider scheme of things - that such a fight is valid.


Apple's legal battle with Harold Arlen estate likely to proceed to jury
The Californian judge overseeing a legal battle between Apple and the estates of Harold Arlen, Ray Henderson and Harry Warren said earlier this week that he's not inclined to grant either side in the dispute the summary judgements they had requested, meaning all elements of the case could go before a jury.

Apple was hoping to persuade the judge to remove the specific claims of wilful copyright infringement that have been made against it, the 'wilful' bit usually significantly increasing any damages that may be awarded down the line.

The tech giant argued that it was at least one step removed from any alleged infringement, and that it was impractical for it to check whether every label and distributor it has deals with in the US has correctly licensed the song rights contained in their recordings.

It also accused the three estates of choosing to go straight to litigation over the alleged copyright infringement because that way there could be decent damages for their lawyers to share in. However, the judge said that he felt there was probably enough factual disputes in this case to require jury deliberations, even on the wilful infringement claim.

This legal action was originally instigated by the estate of Arlen, who wrote 'Over The Rainbow', 'I've Got The World On A String' and 'Get Happy', among many other famous works. His estate argues that an assortment of labels and distributors have uploaded bootleg versions of recordings of those songs to otherwise legitimate download stores and streaming services.

The Arlen estate is suing not as the owner of the recording rights in those tracks, but in relation to the accompanying song rights. Although the mechanical copying of songs is covered by a compulsory licence in the US - via which the Arlen estate would usually get paid its song royalties - that compulsory licence does not apply if a recording is unlicensed. So the digital delivery of such recordings would infringe the song copyrights too.

The estate sued various digital platforms over the alleged infringement, with the estates of Warren and Henderson subsequently joining as co-plaintiffs. The original lawsuit was ultimately dismissed at the request of those various plaintiffs, but new litigation was then promptly filed, including against Apple and its iTunes Store.

According to Law360, at a hearing on the case earlier this week, Apple pointed out that the estates did not send takedown notices to the iTunes Store in relation to the specific tracks they are taking issue with in this lawsuit.

That's because, Apple's lawyers argued, the estates didn't simply want the allegedly infringing tracks removed and any previously unpaid song royalties paid, they were more interested in pursuing millions of dollars in so called statutory damages through the courts.

Apple also noted that, with the iTunes Store in the US, it is not directly involved in the licensing of song rights - unlike with the Apple Music streaming service and the iTunes Store in most other countries.

That means it is the labels and distributors that need to sort out the administration of the aforementioned compulsory licence in relation to any songs contained in the recordings they release. Not being directly involved in that process, Apple added, it's impossible for the tech giant to be proactively aware of any unlicensed songs, meaning it can't possibly be liable for wilful infringement.

However, legal reps for the estates countered, while they may have not sent takedown requests relating to the specific tracks mentioned in this case, they had sent takedown requests in the past relating to other tracks and no action had been taken by the iTunes Store.

"I think the evidence will show Apple ignores takedown notices", attorney Matthew Francis Schwartz told the judge.

The real problem here, Schwartz added, is that Apple does not have effective systems in place to deal with labels and distributors that routinely upload recordings to its system that they do not own or control. Companies which are, in Schwartz's words, "unmitigated, massive pirates".

Those companies - which are distributing recordings that they do not have any right to distribute - are unlikely to comply with their obligations under the compulsory licence on the songs side. And even if they do, that compulsory licence does not apply because of the infringement on the recordings side.

So, plenty of claims from both plaintiffs and defendants, creating the factual disputes which, judge William H Orrick pretty much concluded, need to go before a jury.

As this case proceeds, a separate lawsuit filed against Google on the same issue was seemingly settled last year.


Universal announces new Amazon Music and Twitch deals
Universal Music has announced expanded agreements with Amazon that cover both Amazon Music and the company's livestreaming platform Twitch.

For the Amazon Music streaming service, the new deal secures more music in HD and spatial audio. The two companies will also continue to work together on bundling merch sales into the Amazon Music app for certain artists signed to Universal labels.

The Twitch agreement will result in the livestreaming platform working more closely with Universal, in a deal similar to the one signed with Warner Music last year. Like that, it will see Universal launch a number of channels for its artists and labels on Twitch.

"With the breadth of their music services and products, and their dedicated focus on customers and creators, Amazon Music and Twitch are excellent strategic collaborators, committed to creating the best and most diverse experiences for fans across streaming music, live streaming, artist collaborations, and physical merchandise", says Michael Nash, EVP Digital Strategy at Universal Music.

"With these agreements", he goes on, "we are proud to build on our track record of success in working closely with Amazon, and we're looking forward to delivering even more incredible experiences for our artists and music fans everywhere".

Twitch's Head Of Music, Tracy Chan, adds: "Twitch embodies a creator-first culture, including empowering musicians. Now, more than ever, we're excited to work with UMG in an effort to further broaden the scope of tools available for their artists to engage with fans, while also providing new avenues for their artists to earn meaningful income while streaming on Twitch".

Speaking up for Amazon Music, its Vice President Steve Boom says: "UMG has been a strategic collaborator for us, as we continue to evolve our service and bring our customers even more ways to engage with their favourite artists, and discover new music. With these agreements, we're strengthening and expanding how we can continue to work together to provide unique and exclusive experiences and create even more content for listeners".


DJ Fresh relaunches Breakbeat Kaos with Buushin collaboration
DJ Fresh has relaunched his Breakbeat Kaos label, and today releases new single 'Dancing In The Dark', a collaboration with Buunshin.

Launched in 2003, by merging Fresh's Breakbeat Punk with Adam F's Kaos Recordings, the label released early singles by acts including Pendulum, Chase & Status and Sigma. It stopped releasing music in 2012.

Explaining the decision to relaunch the label now, DJ Fresh tells CMU: "Breakbeat Kaos is an ethos, it's become legendary within the world of drum n bass and breaks after helping launch the careers of people like Pendulum, Chase & Status, Sigma, Brookes Brothers, Camo & Krooked, Nero and myself. But in 2010 declining physical sales put us in a place where we were forced to compromise on the platform we could give the releases".

"We wanted to rival the push that went into records on the majors and give this music a real chance of success in a world where we were going - especially at that time - against the grain", he continues. "After my health recovered [following cancer treatment] I vowed to get back to the source, the place in music I found brought me the most happiness. I realised the landscape had changed and that with the right team this could be the perfect time to pick up where we left off".

"Having been working in AI and in the engineering space I could see opportunities with the tech we use to connect with music fans in new and exciting ways", he adds. "And with a whole new batch of music and some of the original team - and my manager Amanda [Playle] at Decade - I'm super excited about making some new music with new artists I'm connecting with. It's time".

Watch the video for 'Dancing In The Dark' here.


CMU Library: Economics Of Streaming Inquiry Timeline
The UK's Competition & Markets Authority yesterday outlined the scope of its study into the music streaming business. That study was prompted, of course, by the Economics Of Music Streaming report published last year by the UK Parliament's culture select committee.

Don't forget we have gathered together all our coverage of that inquiry, the debates it sparked, and the various initiatives that have begun in its wake on a CMU Timeline.

The timeline brings together all our CMU Daily and Setlist updates on the inquiry, plus other resources in the CMU Library that help explain how music streaming works and what the various streaming debates are all about.

Check out the timeline here.

Beatles rooftop performance arrives on streaming services
As The Beatles' final live performance atop their Apple Corps HQ in London reaches its big 53rd anniversary this Sunday, a newly mixed recording of it has arrived on the streaming services.

Now, here's a thing - and this might shock you - 53rd anniversaries aren't really that big a deal. This obviously all comes off the back of Peter Jackson's recent 'Get Back' documentary.

Have you seen 'Get Back'? Bloody hell. I was quite happy going around telling everyone that it was just another example of Jackson making something overlong that could have been done just as well in less than a third of the time he used. Then it turned out that 'Get Back' is actually fucking incredible and, if anything, a bit short.

Anyway, the 'Get Back' documentary follows the recording of final Beatles album 'Let It Be', and the whole thing leads up to this rooftop concert, which turned out to be the last time the band ever played live together. They performed five songs, some of them multiple times.

Having enjoyed getting to see that performance within the documentary, some fans were disappointed that a 'Let It Be' box set released alongside 'Get Back' did not include the audio from the rooftop gig. But worry not Beatles fans, that audio is now available.

Newly mixed by Giles Martin - son of George - and Sam Okell, the audio version of the rooftop show is now ready to be accessed on various streaming services.

"I always thought the rooftop concert is better to be seen and listened to, rather than just listened to", Martin tells Rolling Stone. However, he says, the response to 'Get Back' changed his mind. "There was such an overwhelming request: 'Why don't we have this?' That's why we did it. I think this is more of a historical document for fans. I've made it so fans can listen to everything I have, really. I cut off a bit at the end, which is basically just wind noise, and that's it. I mixed the whole thing from start to finish in its entirety".

But if you're sitting there thinking that remastered audio is lovely and all, but you would actually quite like to see the pictures along with it - and on a fucking big screen at that - well, there's good news for you too.

This Sunday, which, as you will remember, is the actual 53rd anniversary of the performance, a 60 minute concert film with that new audio mix will be screened at the IMAX cinema on London's Southbank. Book tickets for that here.


Inflo named BRITs British Producer Of The Year
With less than two weeks to go before this year's BRIT Awards, Inflo has been announced as the winner of this year's British Producer Of The Year prize.

Real name Dean Josiah Cover, Inflo has worked with artists including Adele, Little Simz and Michael Kiwuanuka, as well as leading his own project, Sault. Although the best producer trophy has been handed out in some capacity as part of most BRIT Awards ceremonies since 1977 - generally not as part of the main ceremony and for a time in partnership with the Music Producers Guild Awards - he is the first black producer to take away the prize.

"As the first black music producer to ever win a BRIT for Best Producer, I feel honoured to be a part of change", says Inflo. "All the black producers before me, I'm in awe and have studied you. I am you. Thank you for both paving the way and for your integral contribution to British music".

Little Simz, who worked with Inflo on her latest album 'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert' and 2019's 'Grey Area', adds: "Flo is a true creative in every sense of the word. Music is in his DNA. He really loves, lives and breathes this. There is no one more deserving of this award".

Inflo will be presented with his trophy on ITV2's BRITs Red Carpet show directly before the main ceremony on 8 Feb.



HarbourView Equity Partners has acquired the publishing catalogue of Luis Fonsi. "This remarkable acquisition grounds us firmly in our mission to support creators and maximise value for all and is a fantastic addition to our existing portfolio of iconic intellectual property", says founder Sherrese Clarke Soares.

Warner Music has partnered with The Sandbox to build a music-themed world on the gaming platform. "As a first-mover, Warner Music has secured the equivalent of beachfront property in the metaverse", says Oana Ruxandra, Chief Digital Officer at Warner Music. "On the land, we'll develop persistent, immersive social music experiences that defy real-world limitations and allow our artists and their fans to engage like never before". Sure.



Azi Eftekhari and Hannah Neaves have been named co-Presidents of Universal Music's UK catalogue division. "This is a pivotal moment for catalogue", they say in a joint statement. "Music has never felt more alive, more obtainable, or more discoverable, and we are excited to help shape the ongoing cultural impact of this unrivalled repertoire".

As a result of taking on her new role at Universal, Azi Eftekhari has decided to step down as Chair of the Entertainment Retailers Association. After spending eight years in music roles at Google and YouTube, she was running her own agency Remedy Inc when she became ERA Chair. The trade body will elect a replacement at its next board meeting. "Azi has been an excellent Chair of ERA, bringing an enhanced creative and digital perspective", says CEO Kim Bayley. "We are sorry to see her go, and wish her the very best for her exciting new role".



Sony Pictures has confirmed that it will release Foo Fighters movie 'Studio 666' in UK cinemas on 25 Feb. If you were wondering.

Charli XCX has teamed up with Rina Sawayama for new single 'Beg Of You'.

Professor Green has released new single 'Dance Like A Tory'. "Happy belated birthday, Boris", he says.

Betty Boo is back! Her first single since 1993, 'Get To The Weekend' is out now.

Radiohead side-project The Smile have released new single 'The Smoke'. The trio of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and drummer Tom Skinner will play three livestreamed shows this weekend. More info on that here.

Bloc Party have released new single 'The Girls Are Fighting'. Their first album since 2016, 'Alpha Games', is out on 29 Apr.

With her debut solo album 'Prey/VI' out next month, Alice Glass has released new single 'Love Is Violence'.

Confidence Man have released new single 'Feels Like A Different Thing'. "Two lyrics, one riff, no fuss", say the band of it. "It'll get your blood pumping. It'll make your ears bleed - in a good way. It'll steal your car and burn down your house and you'll still say thanks". Their new album, 'Tilt', is out on 1 Apr and they'll be touring the UK and Ireland in May and June.

Yuné Punku has released new single 'Affection'.

Baby Strange have released new single 'Under The Surface'. "It's about paranoia, dark thoughts and the need to get over them", says frontman Johnny Madden. "It's a powerful song for me, writing it was a total release and when we finished it in the studio I felt a weight was lifted from my shoulders".

Australian nu metallers Banks Arcade have released new single 'Smile'.



Kim Gordon has announced UK tour dates in May, kicking off at Koko in London on 23 May. Tickets are on sale now.



The nominations for this year's NME Awards have been announced. They seem to be trying to compete with the Grammys for the most number of awards, so we won't list them. You can find them all here though, if you're interested. The ceremony itself takes place on 2 Mar.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Kanye West announces second Donda album to be released next month
Kanye West's 'Donda' - I think we can all agree - was an overlong, over-worked, pointlessly delayed and largely disappointing album. So you'll be pleased to know that a sequel is coming next month. 'Donda 2' will be released on 22 Feb. Possibly.

It's been rumoured for weeks now that West was busy working on a second 'Donda' album, and last night the rapper confirmed it in an Instagram post. He also confirmed that the project is being executive produced by Future.

The first edition of 'Donda', of course, was released last August. But the two hour, 27 track album had been heavily delayed.

Originally scheduled to come out in 2020, it was announced in July last year that the album would finally be released after a playback event at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium that month. However, although the event went ahead, the album release did not, and it then emerged that West had set up a makeshift studio backstage at the venue in order to continue working on the record.

A second listening event was then scheduled two weeks later with a new promise that a release would happen the following weekend, but again the album did not appear. Finally, a third event took place at Chicago's Soldier Field stadium and the by then frequently updating expected release date on an iTunes pre-order page finally settled on 29 Aug.

When the album came out on that date, West then complained that it had been released without his approval, and made various updates to the record post-release. So, yeah, we'll see if 'Donda 2' arrives next month. I wouldn't get your hopes up.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column. (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited. (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY. or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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