FRIDAY 4 MARCH 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: A court hearing earlier this week considered how the hundreds of lawsuits filed in relation to last year's Astroworld tragedy will be managed, and also discussed the gagging order recently issued by the judge overseeing the proceedings, and the lack of diversity within the pool of attorneys working on the cases... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Gagging order and diversity issues discussed at Astroworld court hearing
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LEGAL Uncleared sample lawsuit over tracks on Drake's Scorpion album is refiled
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LIVE BUSINESS ASM Global to manage Olympia London
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MEDIA Union Jack Radio owner goes into administration
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INDUSTRY PEOPLE PRS For Music and Classic Album Sundays to celebrate women in music production
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RELEASES Neneh Cherry endorses Robyn's cover of Buffalo Stance
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ONE LINERS Swedish House Mafia & Sting, Dave, Red Hot Chili Peppers, more
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AND FINALLY... Weezer launch their own version of Wordle
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Gagging order and diversity issues discussed at Astroworld court hearing
A court hearing earlier this week considered how the hundreds of lawsuits filed in relation to last year's Astroworld tragedy will be managed, and also discussed the gagging order recently issued by the judge overseeing the proceedings, and the lack of diversity within the pool of attorneys working on the cases.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Travis Scott's headline set on 5 Nov 2021 at the Houston-based festival he founded.

As a criminal investigation got underway to ascertain if decisions made by event organisers before or during the festival contributed to the crowd surge, hundreds of those affected by the incident filed lawsuits, including the families of those who died.

Although various parties are named as defendants in many of those lawsuits, the key defendants are Scott himself and the festival's promoters, Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary.

Last month it was confirmed that 387 lawsuits relating to Astroworld would be consolidated, so to make it easier to manage the legal action. It was then subsequently announced that judge Kristen Hawkins would oversee the proceedings.

According to the Associated Press, at a hearing earlier this week Hawkins set out how she intends for all the consolidated Astroworld litigation to be managed.

She plans to have monthly hearings on the cases and she has requested that, before the next such hearing, all the lawsuits should be organised into four categories, grouping together legal action in relation to deaths, bodily injuries, brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder.

This week's hearing also considered a leadership structure within the lawyers representing both plaintiffs and defendants, and a process to deal with any future disputes over evidence and other matters. Hawkins also spoke more about the gagging order that she issued last month which limits what lawyers working on the Astroworld cases can say in public.

The judge clarified that lawyers could inform their media contacts about factual issues that happen in the courtroom, but she said that she didn't want them presenting their legal arguments through media or social media, as that could influence any jury should one or more of the lawsuits get to full trial. The judge added: "This case should be tried in the courtroom and not on social media or with press releases or other statements to the media".

A final issue raised during this week's hearing related to diversity concerns. One of the lawyers representing some of the Astroworld victims - including the family of the youngest person to die from injuries sustained at the festival, Ezra Blount - is Ben Crump, also known for his civil rights work.

He told the court that most of the victims killed or injured at Astroworld were black, but the majority of the attorneys working on these cases are white. Crump stated: "There seems to be not much representation in the court of those African American voices - we are concerned about them not having a voice".

Hawkins responded that the lack of diversity among the lawyers representing Astroworld victims "has not gone unnoticed by the court [and] I would like that to be considered going forward". However, she added, "I'm not going to choose someone's counsel for them - and I do know we have excellent attorneys in this room and those attorneys come from all aspects of Harris County".

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Uncleared sample lawsuit over tracks on Drake's Scorpion album is refiled
A new lawsuit has been filed in relation to an ongoing dispute over an allegedly uncleared sample that appears on not one but two tracks on Drake's 2018 album 'Scorpion'. The new legal filing makes some extra claims about the co-producer of those tracks and his separate use of the allegedly infringing sample on records by Big Freedia.

Samuel Nicholas III - who performs as Sam Skully - first went legal in 2019. He claims that the beat which appears in Drake tracks 'In My Feelings' and 'Nice For What' was nabbed from his 2000 song 'Roll Call'. That earlier track - and an instrumental version of it - both appear on his 2000 album 'Vockah Redu And Tha Crew Can't Be Stopped'.

Nicholas's lawsuit accuses producer Adam Pigott - aka Blaqnmild - of nabbing his beat for the Drake tracks and other productions he has worked on. Both the 2019 lawsuit - and the new one - cite a 2018 Genius News interview on YouTube in which Pigott talks about how he used what he calls "that beat" in the two Drake tracks, having previously used the same beat when producing for artists like Big Freedia and Magnolia Shorty.

The lawsuits state: "The video interview reproduced an approximately eighteen second sound clip of 'that beat' while displaying an audio spectrum of it, labeled 'blaq _ bouncebeat.wav'. When plaintiff Samuel Nicholas III became aware of that YouTube video months later, he recognised 'that beat' to be an unauthorised copy of his copyrighted work 'Roll Call (Instrumental)'".

The new lawsuit filed with the courts in Louisiana this week is more or less the same as the 2019 lawsuit, although the list of defendants has changed a little, and some extra claims are made about Pigott and Big Freedia, aka Freddie Ross Jr.

In terms of the defendants, most notably Drake's labels - including Universal Music's Republic label - have been removed from the lawsuit, while the production company of the reality TV show that followed a chunk of Ross's career - World Of Wonder Productions - has been added.

That show was mentioned in the original lawsuit, which stated: "Throughout the series there occur scenes of defendants Freddie Ross and Adam J Pigott in a recording studio adding what they call 'that beat' to various songs, and scenes of those songs being performed".

Meanwhile the new lawsuit has some extra detail about that programme, in particular regarding what was said in it about the importance of the distinct beat in tracks made within the hip hop sub-genre known as 'bounce', with which Ross is closely associated.

The new legal filing states: "A major theme of the early seasons of the 'Big Freedia: Queen Of Bounce' reality TV series was the production and performance of 'bounce' music having a distinctive rhythm or 'beat', where the 'beat' was a direct copy of the copyrighted sound recording 'Roll Call (Instrumental)' authored by plaintiff Samuel Nicholas III".

"The copyrighted music was not newly performed and was not otherwise significantly modified or interpreted", it goes on, "but was directly copied to become the featured rhythm track of new 'bounce' works having the distinctive 'bounce' rhythm supplied by the direct copying of the copyrighted sound recording".

Among the other additions to the new version of the lawsuit is the allegation that Pigott is claiming copyright ownership in the disputed beat. The lawsuit states: "Defendant Adam J Pigott claims a copyright in the work he identifies variously as 'Roll Call Instrumental', 'Roll Call Beat Part 2.aiff', 'Roll Call (Instrumental).aiff', and 'that beat'".

Obviously the core dispute here is between Nicolas and Pigott, which might be why Drake's label has been removed from the litigation. Although Ross's labels - Warner Music's Asylum and East West - remain as defendants, as does Drake himself.

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ASM Global to manage Olympia London
ASM Global has been appointed to run operations at Olympia London, the West London conference and events complex that is currently being redeveloped. ASM will specifically take "management responsibility for the exhibitions and events business" at the complex.

"ASM Global and Olympia London's management teams have already been working collectively on a venue enhancement plan for world-class conference and hospitality facilities, with further details to follow in due course", an announcement said yesterday, before adding that existing staff and management at Olympia London will now transfer over to ASM Global.

Name checking Olympia London's owners while confirming the new deal to run the complex's conference and events business, ASM Global CEO Ron Bension said: "We are proud to partner with Olympia London, Yoo Capital and Deutsche Finance International on this amazing and historic venue, positioning it at the forefront of the industry for the next 100 years".

"Our commitment to guest and partner satisfaction aligns with the reputation of Olympia London", he added, "and we look forward to continuing to serve existing and new clients' event schedules at Olympia London and developing the programme with other signature events".

Nigel Nathan, the Managing Director of Olympia London - who will take on the role of Chairman after ASM appoints its own MD to head up the day-to-day running of the venue - added: "This is a truly exciting chapter in the history of Olympia London - a partnership with a global venue management company with far wider business reach and resources than we could have ever imagined".

"The future for Olympia London and the events we host has never been brighter as we benefit from the £1.3 billion investment to create an outstanding destination for London", he went on. "I decided some time ago to transition from Managing Director to Chairman and now is the perfect time to begin that process knowing that the business is in the best position to benefit from the globalisation of events in partnership with ASM Global".

The all new super duper redeveloped Olympia London complex also includes a music venue. AEG Presents has already been appointed to manage that space, it - like ASM Global - being a subsidiary of the wider AEG group.

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Union Jack Radio owner goes into administration
It's been confirmed that the company behind national UK digital radio service Union Jack Radio has gone into administration with all staff employed by the station made redundant. However, that development does not affect the Oxford-based Jack branded stations.

There has been a Jack FM station on air in Oxford since 2007, the company that owns it having licensed the Jack FM brand that is used by various stations in North America. The digital only and nationally available Union Jack Radio was then launched in 2016, with spin-off rock and dance centric services added in 2020.

However, all three of those services disappeared from the DAB digital radio network last week. It was then confirmed that the company that specifically operated the national stations - rather than the Oxfordshire services - has gone into administration with £6.2 million in net liabilities.

But, Radio Today has confirmed, the company that specifically owns Jack FM in Oxford - as well as sister stations Jack 2 Hits and Jack 3 Chill - is not affected, and those local services continue to operate.

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PRS For Music and Classic Album Sundays to celebrate women in music production
UK collecting society PRS For Music and Classic Album Sundays are teaming up for an event on Instagram Live to celebrate women in audio and production, which is set to take place on International Women's Day next week.

Hosted by Classic Album Sundays founder Colleen 'Cosmo' Murphy, the event will feature discussions with producer Sophie Ackroyd, musician Gnarly and songwriter Michelle Escoffery.

The aim is to inspire more women and non-binary people to take up studio roles, to achieve more balance within a strand of the music industry that currently skews disproportionately male.

According to PRS, men make up 81.2% of its songwriter and composer/producer membership. Things have been starting to shift in the right direction, with a 6% year-on-year increase in the number of women joining the organisation in 2021, but there is plenty more to be done.

"International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the achievements of women", says Escoffery, who is also president of the PRS Members' Council. "It also highlights the need for gender parity and equity. PRS For Music is proud to partner with Classic Album Sundays for a discussion that we hope will help prompt conversation and elevate songwriters, composers and producers within our industry".

Murphy adds: "Recently a spotlight has shone on women in under-represented areas of music such as DJing, but there is still much more work to be done, especially in the area of audio production. It is estimated that only 5% of the producers in the UK are women. This series aims to rectify that through celebrating our existing female producers and inspiring the next generation".

The event will take place on Instagram Live via the Classic Album Sundays account on 8 Mar at 3pm.

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CMU+TGE Update: More artists announced for The Great Escape festival
May is now appearing on the horizon, which means this year's Great Escape will be with us very soon. Yesterday 120 more artists were added to the bill, including Alfie Templeman, Blackhaine, Chrissi, MUNA, Spill Tab, STONE, Bru-C, Casisdead, Kid Kapichi, Lido Pimienta and many more. You can check the full line up that has been announced so far here.

Music industry delegates at TGE get priority access to all the showcases, of course, plus access to the TGE Conference, including the CMU+TGE Sessions, three full day strands of insights, briefings, interviews and discussions this year putting the spotlight on education, data and video.

Already confirmed for the CMU+TGE Sessions programme are Ameena Badley from The Ko-Lab, music rights consultant Becky Brook, Colin Barlow from Marv Music, Des Agyekumhene from Soga World, Jenn Egan from Eyeline Music, Jessie Scoullar from Wicksteed Works, Joanna Gregory from Cavendish Music and Kevin Bacon from Family In Music.

Plus Lauren Roth De Wolf from Wolves Management, Marcus O'Dair from UAL, Mark Adams from Blinding Talent, composer Mark Gordon, Max Shand from Serenade, Olivia Hobbs from Blackstar Agency, Paul Sampson from Lickd, Pete Kelly from BT Sport, Philippe Rixhon from Digiciti, Ryan Edwards from Audoo, and Sophie Goossens from Reed Smith.

CMU and TGE are also presenting a series of keynote in conversations during the conference. The first of those to be announced is Tom Gray and Kevin Brennan MP, who will be in conversation with CMU's Chris Cooke.

More speakers will be announced in the coming weeks - keep an eye on the CMU Daily for more updates. Meanwhile, get yourself a delegate pass here.

Neneh Cherry endorses Robyn's cover of Buffalo Stance
Robyn has released a new cover of Neneh Cherry's 'Buffalo Stance', produced by Dev Hynes and featuring rapper Mapei.

Cherry - a longtime friend of Robyn - fully endorses the track. In fact, on streaming services Cherry is billed as one of the track's performers, although she doesn't appear to have had any involvement in the new recording.

Evangelising about Cherry, Robyn says that, as a ten year old in 1989 when Cherry's debut album 'Raw Like Sushi' was released, she and a childhood friend "spent most of our summer playing cards and listening to 'Raw Like Sushi'. Even though I didn't understand all the words I knew that she was on my side. The power in her voice revealed truths about what it is like to be a girl without making excuses and was intensely inspiring to me. Ten year old me would have been completely blown away by this and that's how I still feel now about Neneh Cherry and this powerful song".

Cherry adds: "I love that I could write an essay with all the things I could say about Robyn and I love that she leaves me speechless at the same time. Her talent is soulful because she leads with her heart and spirit, she is absolutely there, ever present with honest intensity in her offerings which leave me blubbering with hairs standing erect on my arms and legs, dancing on my own talking to myself with a feeling that everything is going to be alright".

"The first time I saw Robyn live in Stockholm with my daughter Mabel - then a young struggling teenager - she only said two things that night: 'Hej Stockholm' and - in the middle of a song - shouted out 'MABEL!'", she recalls. "Mabel was so happy I had tears streaming down my cheeks. Robyn gave everything and when she needed a pick-me-up she ate a banana. She stole my heart".

"I've known Robyn for three decades, she is my sister, my friend, my family, a creative inspiration", she goes on. "So to have Robyn doing her version of a new life interpretation of 'Buffalo Stance' is an absolute honour. And with Dev Hynes and Mapei, this is what dreams are made of!"

Listen to Robyn's version of 'Buffalo Stance'.

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APPOINTMENTS

Warner Chappell has promoted David Goldsen to Head Of A&R, Australia and Vice President, Creative. "This is an incredible opportunity to help local songwriters broaden their reach and collaborate with different artists, writers, and producers across borders and genres", he says.

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RELEASES

Swedish House Mafia have teamed up with Sting for new single 'Redlight', which sees the former Police frontman recreating the refrain from 'Roxanne'.

Another light-based song for you now. Dave has released new single 'Starlight'.

Red Hot Chili Peppers have released the second single from their upcoming new album, 'Unlimited Love'. Continuing Anthony Kiedis' weird vocal choices - after the apparent sea shanty influence on 'Black Summer' - on 'Poster Child' he seems to be channelling Ian Dury.

PC Music will release new compilation 'Volume 3' on 15 May - with contributions from AG Cook, Hannah Diamond, Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek and more. The label will also be putting on a night at Koko in London on 15 Jun.

Placebo have released new single 'Happy Birthday In The Sky'. New album, 'Never Let Me Go', is out on 25 Mar.

Meshuggah have released new single 'Light The Shortening Fuse'. The band's new album, 'Immutable', is out on 1 Apr.

Dub War have announced that their first album for more than 25 years, 'Westgate Under Fire', will be out on 5 Aug. Here's first single 'Blackkk Man'.

Many Voices Speak has shared new single 'Within Reach'. Her new album, 'Gestures', is out on 29 Apr.

Julia-Sophie has released new single 'Dial Your Number'. "It's about ending the ending, the last time you're going to speak to someone you love", she says. "You know, even though you don't want something to end but you can't see any other way out. I was trying to use that heavy, almost tribal drum beat to reflect that punch in the gut feeling".

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GIGS & TOURS

LCD Soundsystem have announced three 20th anniversary shows at Brixton Academy in London from 1-3 Jul. Tickets go on sale next Friday.

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

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Weezer launch their own version of Wordle
Have you been playing Wordle? Of course you have. There's not one person who doesn't play Wordle every single day. But once you've spent those few minutes each morning on that particular puzzle, do you wish you didn't have to wait a full day for another one? Are you also a fan of Weezer? Well, have I got news for you. There's now a Weezer-based version of Wordle, called Weezle.

"If you like Wordle and Weezer, you'll probably like Weezle", proclaimed frontman Rivers Cuomo in a tweet yesterday.

Unlike Wordle, each day's five letter answer on Weezle is related to Weezer in some way, which does narrow your options somewhat. I got today's in two goes and have thus exhausted all the Weezer-related five letter words I can think of off the top of my head.

Anyway, whatever, you can play Weezle here.

Once you've played Wordle and Weezle though, what do you do next? You've got yourself a taste for word games that only take up a few minutes of your day now and you need more. OK then, how about the recently launched Taylordle? It is - you have guessed correctly - a version of Wordle featuring only words related to Taylor Swift. Or Wordle (Taylor's Version), if you like.

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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.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (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.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (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.
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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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