TUESDAY 22 MARCH 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Megan Thee Stallion's label 1501 Certified Entertainment has formally responded to the rapper's most recent lawsuit over whether or not her album ‘Something For Thee Hotties’ was in fact an album. It was not, 1501 argues in its new legal filing, while also taking issue with how an earlier legal battle was concluded... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Megan Thee Stallion label hits back in legal dispute over whether Something For Thee Hotties was actually an album
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LEGAL Summing up beings in Shape Of You song-theft case
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DEALS Warner acquires Qanawat Music
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LIVE BUSINESS Frontier Touring announces new executive team
FKP Scorpio launches FKP Show Creations

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MEDIA Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello and more to play ITV's Concert For Ukraine
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ONE LINERS Nine Inch Nails, DJ Shadow, Warner Chappell, more
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AND FINALLY... Daniel Radcliffe was "mystified but excited" when asked to play 'Weird Al' Yankovic
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Megan Thee Stallion label hits back in legal dispute over whether Something For Thee Hotties was actually an album
Megan Thee Stallion's label 1501 Certified Entertainment has formally responded to the rapper's most recent lawsuit over whether or not her album 'Something For Thee Hotties' was in fact an album. It was not, 1501 argues in its new legal filing, while also taking issue with how an earlier legal battle was concluded.

The rapper, real name Megan Pete, has spent quite a lot of the last two years griping over the 2018 contract she signed with 1501 - an independent label owned by former baseball player Carl Crawford - which gave the company an interest in her recordings, publishing, merchandise and live activity.

An earlier legal battle centred on various issues Pete raised about that 2018 contract, which she and her lawyers argued was entirely "one sided" in the label's favour and didn't follow "industry standards". More specifically, there was a dispute over allegations that 1501 was stopping the rapper from releasing an EP and later a BTS collaboration. As Pete's lawsuit went through the motions the court hearing the case issued injunctions ordering that the label allow the EP and the BTS collab to be released.

Although the EP was released in 2020 and the BTS tie up last year, that initial lawsuit was only dismissed earlier this year. Just in time for Pete to file a new lawsuit. While the rapper had seemingly renegotiated her original deal with 1501, it still had an option to release additional recordings. And in October last year it confirmed to Pete that it was taking up a 'second option period' which required her to provide another album for it to release.

Shortly after that came 'Something For Thee Hotties', a new record that gathered together some freestyles Pete had performed online and some other recordings from her archive. On Instagram she described that record as "my gift to my hotties - freestyles y'all been asking for plus a few unreleased songs from my archives to hold y'all over for the rest of the year".

Legally speaking, Pete reckons that 'Something For Thee Hotties' constitutes the album she is obliged to deliver under the second option period of her 1501 deal, arguing that the only requirement in that deal is that an album must be 45 minutes long, which that record is, just about. However, 1501 counters that that record does not qualify as the album Pete is obliged to deliver. Hence the second lawsuit, in which Pete is seeking court confirmation that she has met her obligations under the second option period of her record deal.

Pete's lawsuit filed last month stated: "Contrary to 1501's position, 'Something For Thee Hotties' clearly meets the definition of 'album' under the recording agreement because it is not less than 45 minutes in length. There are no other parameters or requirements under the contract for what can be deemed an 'album' other than total run time of the album".

But, unsurprisingly, in its new legal filing 1501 does not concur. For starters, it reckons, 'Something For Thee Hotties' only actually includes 29 minutes of new recordings featuring Pete.

Referring to the rapper as 'MTS', it describes the record thus: "'Something For Thee Hotties' is made up of 21 recordings and includes spoken interlude recordings on which MTS does not appear as well as several previously-released recordings. It was not original material and included freestyles available on YouTube and archival material from as far back as 2019. The result is that the total duration of new recordings featuring MTS is only 29 minutes long".

Plus, it goes on, "MTS knows that each 'album' must include at least twelve new master recordings of her studio performances of previously-unreleased musical compositions. She also knows that 1501 gets to approve the musical compositions to be included on each album. And MTS knows that none of that happened here. MTS also knows that these provisions are common and that they appear in most record contracts for good reason. And MTS's lawyers know that these requirements have been upheld in other lawsuits in the past".

"MTS never sought 1501's approval for 'Something For Thee Hotties'", it adds. "Indeed, 1501 only learned of the release hours before it came out. By letter dated 5 Jan 2022, 1501 advised MTS's lawyers that the most recent release is not an 'album' under her contracts. MTS's lawyers did not respond until 24 Jan 2022. 1501 replied three days later".

"MTS filed her second lawsuit without notice or discussion on 18 Feb 2022", it continues. "MTS's new lawsuit is groundless because, as she knows, 'Something For Thee Hotties' does not meet the requirements of an 'album' under the three contracts that she has signed with 1501".

In addition to the core dispute over the status of 'Something For The Hotties', 1501 also has some remaining gripes from the rapper's first lawsuit. It argues that - although Pete made "outrageous claims that she never was able to prove" in her first legal action - the label nevertheless instigated settlement talks and agreed to amend her record contract.

A settlement deal was reached with both sides also agreeing to file the terms of that settlement with the court while requesting dismissal of the rapper's lawsuit. However, 1501 claims, Pete's side never made those filings with the court. So it filed a motion seeking to enforce the settlement agreement, but before the court could consider that motion the rapper dismissed her litigation.

With all that in mind, not only does 1501 want the court to declare that "'Something For Thee Hotties' plainly does not meet the requirements for an 'album' that satisfies MTS's recording commitment", but it also accuses Pete of "repeatedly breaching her contracts" and therefore "seeks to recover money damages based on those breaches, as well as its attorneys' fees and costs".

We await Pete's response.

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Summing up beings in Shape Of You song-theft case
Summing up has begun in the big old 'Shape Of You' song-theft case, with Ed Sheeran's lawyer declaring that the legal dispute has been "deeply traumatising" for his client, and should never have got as far as the High Court.

Sami Chokri reckons that Sheeran got a copy of his 2015 track 'Oh Why' through mutual friends or industry connections and then, when the star and his songwriting pals got together in late 2016 to write 'Shape Of You', he either consciously or subconsciously utilised a key element of the earlier song within his hit.

But Sheeran and his collaborators deny having ever heard 'Oh Why' before writing 'Shape Of You'. Meanwhile, they argue, the elements that are shared by the two songs are pretty commonplace in pop music, which means it's not entirely unlikely that two separate songwriters would separately write songs that sound similar in that way.

Representing Sheeran and his fellow 'Shape Of You' writers Johnny McDaid and Steven McCutcheon, Ian Mill told court that "this case should never have got to trial - my clients are entitled to be vindicated".

According to the Press Association, both in court and via a written statement, Mill argued that "the contemporaneous documents and evidence overwhelmingly supported" his clients' position, that 'Shape Of You' was created independently of 'Oh Why'.

When it comes to the allegation that Sheeran et al deliberately chose to rip off 'Oh Why', for that to be the case "an awful lot of people" would have told "untruths" when testifying during this trial, making said claim "so strained as to be logically unintelligible".

Meanwhile, the alternative theory that Sheeran heard 'Oh Why' after its release in 2015, unknowingly stored the song's key line in his mind and then subconsciously inserted into 'Shape Of You' is "equally hopeless". Mill added: "There is no credible basis upon which to suggest that Mr Sheeran had ever heard 'Oh Why' in advance of writing 'Shape Of You'".

The other side's case - Mill went on in his written statement - "amounts to a series of tenuous connections and bare assertions contradicted by the contemporaneous documents and the unequivocal evidence of a significant number of relevant witnesses".

Beyond there being no evidence Sheeran et al had ever heard 'Oh Why', he added, the element shared by the two songs is too "generic" and therefore not even protected by copyright in isolation. It comprises, the lawyer wrote, "the use of the first four notes of the minor pentatonic scale combined with the use of octaves and harmonies in a vocal chant. Qualitatively assessed, these elements cannot be characterised as the elements which conferred originality on 'Oh Why' as a musical work".

So there you go. Chokri's legal rep will begin his closing arguments today.

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Warner acquires Qanawat Music
Warner Music has announced a deal to acquire Middle East and North Africa based music distribution company Qanawat Music. CEO Adnan Al-Obthani will remain in his position, while also continuing to work for the distributor's current parent company Qanawat FZ.

"Warner Music has a long-term vision for developing the market here in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as a commitment to connect Arabic artists with a global fanbase", says Al-Obthani. "We've built this business up over 20 years and were determined that we would only partner with a company that we could confidently trust to look after our artists' best interests. This will be a new chapter for Qanawat Music and we couldn't be more excited".

Warner's Alfonso Perez-Soto adds: "With this new deal, we have a massive opportunity to export exciting talent from the Middle East and North Africa - there is an important and growing Arabic diaspora worldwide that we can tap into and which will help amplify the music. We've recently seen huge global success with our artists from Sub-Saharan Africa and we're eager to repeat this achievement by building a proper distribution and upstreaming structure for the best talent from the Arabic world. This acquisition will also see Warner Music expand its footprint in the region, gaining representation in Dubai, Cairo and Casablanca for the first time".

The deal is still subject to regulator approval.

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Frontier Touring announces new executive team
A year on from the death of founder Michael Gudinski, the live music business of Australia's Mushroom Group, Frontier Touring, has announced a new leadership structure, which sees COO Dion Brant promoted to CEO.

In addition, Susan Heymann becomes COO, Reegan Stark moves up to Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and Andrew Spencer is promoted to the role of Chief Commercial Officer.

They will report to the Frontier Touring board which includes executives from AEG Presents, with which Frontier formed a joint venture in 2019. CEO of AEG Presents Asia Pacific, Adam Wilkes, also becomes Chair of Frontier Touring.

In a statement, the company says: "The new structure has been created to ensure the legacy, mission and culture of Frontier is preserved and nurtured following the passing of its founder Michael Gudinski in March of 2021".

Current CEO of parent company the Mushroom Group, Matt Gudinski, adds: "I couldn't be happier announcing our new Frontier executive team. Mushroom Group is built on our great people, which is something we've always valued first and foremost. I'm THRILLED that moving forward Frontier will be led by four incredibly dedicated, experienced, and strong leaders in Dion, Reegan, Susan and Spence, working closely with myself, Adam, and the AEG Presents team".

"Frontier was founded on strong relationships, an artist-first approach and a never-ending passion for music and I know dad's legacy and the future of Frontier is in safe hands", he goes on. "There are exciting times ahead for the company".

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FKP Scorpio launches FKP Show Creations
Live music firm FKP Scorpio has announced the launch of new division FKP Show Creations, which will specialise in musicals, family entertainment and other more theatrical shows. Its first production will be an arena show spin-off of 'The Masked Singer' TV show.

"This long-planned start-up allows us to explore new and exciting avenues", says Jasper Barendregt, who is moving over from the firm's festivals business to lead this new division. "I am very much looking forward to the challenges ahead, even though I will miss the festival business after twelve exciting and fulfilling years".

In addition to 'The Masked Singer', FKP Show Creations is also working on shows including 'Paw Patrol Live' and Dita Von Teese's 'Glamonatrix'.

With Barendregt moving into this new role, he is replaced as Director Of Festival Production at FKP Scorpio by Benjamin Hetzer, who has worked for the company for a decade and says: "I am very excited about my new task and would especially like to thank our team, which has also shown consistency in the past years of the pandemic and does a great job in every situation. I am proud and grateful to work with this team to plan our festivals again in the future".

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Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello and more to play ITV's Concert For Ukraine
Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, Emeli Sandé, Becky Hill, Gregory Porter, Manic Street Preachers and Snow Patrol are among the acts who will perform at next week's Concert For Ukraine fundraiser.

Announced last week, the two hour show will take place at the Resorts World Arena in Birmingham and be broadcast by ITV and STV on 29 Mar. Money raised - including all income from sponsorship and advertising - will be donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee's Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. Tickets are on sale now.

"My heart is breaking for the people of Ukraine", says Cabello. "As refugees from Ukraine join millions of other displaced people around the globe, we all have a responsibility. One of the biggest needs is to get funds to organisations who can serve these communities directly, so we're focusing our efforts on doing that as quickly as we can".

Sandé adds: "I will be singing to try to help every human being forced to flee their home and in solidarity with those being racially discriminated against even within this humanitarian crisis. Nobody should be refused access to relief, aid and the right to cross the border to safety, and I'm pleased for the chance to support the DEC's appeal to help all people whose lives have been affected by the conflict".

Other acts confirmed to perform are Nile Rodgers & Chic, The Kingdom Choir and Tom Odell, while Roman Kemp, Marvin Humes and Emma Bunton are set to host the show.

You can purchase tickets to be at the event itself here. Otherwise, it'll be broadcast live on ITV, STV, ITV Hub and STV Player on 29 Mar.

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Approved: Elaine
South Africa's most streamed female artist, Elaine, now has her sights set on the rest of the world, and she's getting that endeavour off to a very good start with R&B ballad 'Shine'.

"'Shine' is exactly what it feels like to loosen your grip and let go of fear, more particularly the fear of love, in all its forms", she says. "At the time I wrote it from a place of heartbreak - watching someone you love not love themselves or love you the way you love them, but wishing them the best regardless because you see the light in them".

"Making this song was special because I make a lot of sad girl music, but this time I expressed my pain in a different way which was refreshing", she adds. "I can't wait to share the rest of the album with you all. Get ready for sad girl season, it's about to get real emotional".

Currently working on that album, she adds: "I've got a completely different story to tell. I'm a representation of every African girl that doesn't want to be boxed in".

Watch the video for 'Shine' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

APPOINTMENTS

Warner Chappell has hired Peter Rosenthal in the newly created role of EVP Global Head Of Legal And Business Affairs. He joins from Downtown Music Holdings, where he was General Counsel. "I'm very excited to be joining Warner Chappell at such a pivotal time in its evolution and for our industry at large", he says.

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RELEASES

Trent Reznor has reworked Danny Elfman's 'Native Intelligence'.

Coi Leray has engaged the services of Nicki Minaj for new single 'Blick Blick'.

James Blunt and Jason Zhang have teamed up for a new version of Blunt's song 'Adrenaline'.

Are you a friend of King Princess? Well, I have a song for you. Well, she does. She's just put out new single 'For My Friends'. "I thought it would be extra fab to begin releasing this new record with a song about my two best friends from high school", she says. "So thank you my angel horse queens for sticking with me. I love you all and I can't wait to give you this song".

Cradle Of Filth have released the video for 'How Many Tears To Nurture A Rose?', from their 2021 album 'Existence Is Futile'.

Max Cooper has released new single 'Spectrum', ahead of the release of his new album, 'Unspoken Words', this Friday.

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GIGS & TOURS

Nine Inch Nails have announce three more UK shows this summer, in addition to the two they've already scheduled at the Eden Project. They'll play Glasgow Academy on 15 Jun, the Manchester Apollo on 20 Jun and London's Brixton Academy on 21 Jun.

DJ Shadow will play Koko in London on 5 Jun. Tickets go on sale on 23 Jun.

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

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Daniel Radcliffe was "mystified but excited" when asked to play 'Weird Al' Yankovic
Daniel Radcliffe has said that he was "mystified but excited" when he was asked to play 'Weird Al' Yankovic in a new biopic of the comedy musician.

It was announced earlier this year that Radcliffe would star in 'Weird: The Al Yankovic Story', with Yankovic himself saying: "I am absolutely THRILLED that Daniel Radcliffe will be portraying me in the film. I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the role future generations will remember him for".

Appearing on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon', Radcliffe said: "When I talked to Al for the first time, I was like, 'I'm immensely flattered by the idea that you would pick me to play you, but like, why me? I'm mystified but excited'".

He goes on to explain that Yonkovic told him that it all went back to an appearance by Radcliffe on BBC One's 'The Graham Norton Show' nearly fifteen years ago, where the Harry Potter star sang a Tom Lehrer song.

"I sang 'The Elements' next to Colin Farrell and a very bemused Rihanna", Radcliffe recalled. "I think she was like, 'Who is this kid, and why is he singing all of 'The Elements'? And I guess Al saw that and was like, 'This guy maybe gets it'. And so he picked me. So I'm very, very lucky, and now I've gotten to have accordion lessons with Al. I can go to my grave with that".

Commenting on the film itself, he added: "I'm rarely excited to see the stuff that I'm in. I'm very, very excited to see that. It's a fully insane movie. It's one of the most fun things I've ever done".

'Weird: The Al Yankovic Story' has been made for The Roku Channel. No release date has yet been announced.

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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.
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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.
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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 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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