MONDAY 28 MARCH 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins has died while on tour with the band in South America. He was 50... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins dies
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LEGAL EU's Digital Markets Act will allow app-makers to circumvent Apple and Google's payment systems
BTS seek court order stopping bootleg merch sales alongside upcoming Vegas shows

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump requests co-liaison role in Astroworld litigation to address diversity concerns

Florida court says hosting company can't be liable for copyright infringement via VPN it hosts

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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify to shut down service in Russia due to censorship laws
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MEDIA Former Key 103 DJs sign up to present on new Manchester radio station
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AND FINALLY... Connecticut community festival Floatchella rebrands after AEG cease-and-desist
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Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins dies
Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins has died while on tour with the band in South America. He was 50.

In a statement, Foo Fighters said: "The Foo Fighters family is devastated by the tragic and untimely loss of our beloved Taylor Hawkins. His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever. Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family, and we ask that their privacy be treated with the utmost respect in this unimaginably difficult time".

The band had been due to headline the Estereo Picnic festival in Bogota, Colombia. During what would have been the band's set time, a candlelit vigil was held on stage in Hawkins' memory.

Hawkins reportedly complained of chest pains on Friday night and when paramedics arrived at his hotel room he was found unresponsive. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was declared dead at the scene.

The office of Colombia's Attorney General said in a statement on Saturday that an autopsy had found traces of ten different drugs in the drummer's urine, including opioids, marijuana and antidepressants.

Subsequently over the weekend Colombian news magazine Semana reported that investigators had confirmed that Hawkins had died from cardiovascular collapse following an overdose of heroin mixed with antidepressants and benzodiazepines.

An autopsy is said to have found that his heart weighed twice what you would expect for a man his age, which can be a sign of several cardiac diseases.

Hawkins previously survived a heroin overdose in 2001 which left him in a coma for two weeks. He later said: "I was partying a lot. I wasn't like a junkie per se, but I was partying. There was a year where the partying just got a little too heavy. Thank God on some level this guy gave me the wrong line with the wrong thing one night and I woke up going, 'What the fuck happened?' That was a real changing point for me".

Born in Texas in 1972, Hawkins joined Foo Fighters in 1997, following the acrimonious departure of the band's original drummer William Goldsmith. Hawkins had first come to prominence as Alanis Morissette's touring drummer, joining her as she promoted her debut album 'Jagged Little Pill'.

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl called Hawkins to see if he could recommend anyone who might be interested in joining the band - assuming Hawkins himself wouldn't be interested, as Morissette was the bigger act at the time. However, Hawkins volunteered himself, saying that he wanted to be in a band rather than supporting a solo artist.

He then joined Foo Fighters for the tour that accompanied their 1997 album 'The Colour And The Shape', which had largely featured Grohl on drums. The first of the band's albums on which Hawkins appeared was 1999's 'There Is Nothing Left To Lose'. He was also credited as a co-writer on all eleven tracks on that record.

In addition to playing drums, Hawkins also sang lead vocals on a number of Foo Fighters recordings and at live shows, including one of his own songs, 'Cold Day In The Sun', from 2005 album 'In Your Honour', which was released as a double A-side single with 'No Way Back'. Last year, he also began singing lead vocals on a cover of Queen's 'Somebody To Love' at Foo Fighters shows, including at what turned out to be his final performance with the band at Lollapalooza Argentina on 20 Mar.

The most recent Foo Fighters album, 'Medicine At Midnight', was released in February last year, and last month they released a comedy horror film, 'Studio 666', in which all six members of the band starred.

As well as performing with Foo Fighters, Hawkins had a number of side projects, including his band Taylor Hawkins And the Coattail Riders, with whom he recorded three albums - most recently 'Get The Money', which came out in 2019.

Most recently, he had formed supergroup NHC with Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and bassist Chris Chaney (the latter also his former bandmate in Alanis Morisette's band). That band recorded their debut album last year, which is yet to be released.

Writing on Instagram, Chaney said: "My heart has never felt this heavy. My life is forever changed. I could write a book about what a special person T was and how much he affected my life. For 27 years we had made music together and been a rhythm section. My wife called him 'The Other Wife', and he was! My life will never be the same and I'm grateful for every moment we shared".

Numerous other musicians, including many collaborators and friends, paid tribute to Hawkins over the weekend, including Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Miley Cyrus, Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello, Liam Gallagher, Ringo Starr, Guns N Roses' Axl Rose and Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Travis Barker, Limp Bizkit's Wes Borland, Gene Simmons, Nile Rodgers and The Prodigy.

Hawkins is survived by his wife Alison and their three children, Oliver, Annabelle and Everleigh.

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EU's Digital Markets Act will allow app-makers to circumvent Apple and Google's payment systems
Negotiators for the European Parliament and EU Council last week provisionally agreed a final wording of the European Union's Digital Markets Act - or DMA - which, among other things, should result in app-makers being able to use alternative systems for in-app payments on iOS and Android devices.

The DMA is a major piece of EU legislation that sits alongside the Digital Services Act. The latter is about increasing the responsibilities of digital companies when it comes to the sale and distribution of harmful content and services on their platforms, while the former is more about stopping the largest internet businesses from unfairly exploiting their market dominance.

The European Commission published its first draft of the DMA in December 2020. It was then scrutinised, debated and amended by both the European Parliament and the EU Council, the latter involving relevant ministers from each EU member state.

In the final stage all three EU institutions - Commission, Parliament and Council - come together to seek agreement on a final text, which is what happened last week. Though final approval from both Parliament and Council is still required before this all becomes law.

By definition, the DMA exists to regulate the biggest digital platforms, most of which are American, although the final definition of what platforms are covered by the new rules - what the act calls 'gatekeepers' - means that some non-US companies will be subject to new regulation as well.

To be covered by the act a digital business must have an EU turnover in excess of 7.5 billion euros or a market valuation in excess of 75 billion euros, plus at least 45 million monthly users and at least 10,000 business users within the EU.

The Council published a bullet point list of the key new rules contained in the act. Gatekeeper platforms will have to "ensure that users have the right to unsubscribe from core platform services under similar conditions to subscription; for the the most important software (eg web browsers), not require this software by default upon installation of the operating system; and ensure the interoperability of their instant messaging services' basic functionalities".

The latter was pushed for by the Parliament and means users of WhatsApp would be able to send messages to users on smaller rival messaging apps.

Affected platforms will also have to ensure that app developers have "fair access to the supplementary functionalities of smartphones (eg NFC chip); give sellers access to their marketing or advertising performance data on the platform; and inform the European Commission of their acquisitions and mergers".

Meanwhile, in terms of the don'ts under the new rules, gatekeeper platforms will no longer be able to "rank their own products or services higher than those of others; reuse private data collected during a service for the purposes of another service; establish unfair conditions for business users; pre-install certain software applications; or require app developers to use certain services (eg payment systems or identity providers) in order to be listed in app stores".

The latter is particularly important for the music industry, of course, given Spotify et al have long complained that Apple and Google force app-makers to use their proprietary commission charging transaction systems for in-app payments.

And it's not just the big streaming services affected by those app store rules. With the direct-to-fan side of each artist's business becoming increasingly about selling fans premium digital content and experiences, the fact doing so via an app requires paying a 30% commission to Apple or Google is becoming ever more problematic for the music industry.

The DMA also provides tough sanctions for any companies that break the new rules, with fines of up to 10% of annual worldwide turnover - or even 20% for repeat infringements - which would equate to billions of dollars for the big US tech firms.

Commenting on the text published last week, MEP Andreas Schwab - from the European Parliament's Internal Market And Consumer Protection Committee - said: "The agreement ushers in a new era of tech regulation worldwide. The DMA puts an end to the ever-increasing dominance of big tech companies. From now on, they must show that they also allow for fair competition on the internet. The new rules will help enforce that basic principle. Europe is thus ensuring more competition, more innovation and more choice for users".

Meanwhile, France's digital minister Cédric O added: "The European Union has had to impose record fines over the past ten years for certain harmful business practices by very large digital players. The DMA will directly ban these practices and create a fairer and more competitive economic space for new players and European businesses".

"These rules are key to stimulating and unlocking digital markets", he went on, "enhancing consumer choice, enabling better value sharing in the digital economy and boosting innovation. The European Union is the first to take such decisive action in this regard and I hope that others will join us soon".

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the big tech firms aren't impressed with the final version of the DMA, which arguably goes further in some domains than said companies expected, or at least hoped.

Apple said it was concerned the new rules "will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users" and "prohibit us from charging for intellectual property in which we invest a great deal".

Meanwhile, Google told reporters: "While we support many of the DMA's ambitions around consumer choice and interoperability, we remain concerned that some of the rules could reduce innovation and the choice available to Europeans".

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BTS seek court order stopping bootleg merch sales alongside upcoming Vegas shows
Reps for BTS last week made a filing with the courts in Nevada seeking to stop the sale of unofficial merchandise alongside an upcoming run of shows at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The filing was made by the company behind the K-pop outfit - HYBE - and targets all and any people or companies who are planning to sell unofficial BTS tat while the group are in Vegas, with defendants simply listed as John Doe, Jane Doe and XYZ Companies.

"Plaintiffs bring this action to prevent the sale of counterfeit and infringing 'bootleg' tour merchandise in connection with BTS's concert performances at Allegiant Stadium, both at the concert venue itself and at official vending sites that will be operated nearby", the lawsuit states. "If such counterfeit and infringing activities were permitted to continue, it would cause substantial harm to plaintiffs, their licensees, and BTS".

"BTS has used its inherently distinctive name and trademark to identify officially authorised goods and services and to distinguish it from other musical performing groups", the legal filing goes on. "BTS has, among other things, prominently displayed the trademark in advertising and promotional material; in and on compact discs, audiotape boxes, and streaming services; and on merchandise, including the tour merchandise".

And just to be clear, "plaintiffs and BTS have realised, and expect to realise, substantial income from the sale of merchandise bearing BTS's trademark (including the tour merchandise), and hundreds of thousands of such items have been sold throughout the United States".

So, there's lots of cash for BTS to make. Unless, of course, the pesky bootleggers get in their way. "Upon information and belief, defendants have engaged, and will continue to engage, in the unauthorised manufacture, distribution and sale of inferior merchandise bearing BTS's trademark in the vicinity of the Vegas shows. Plaintiffs believe that the defendant bootleggers and counterfeiters will sell, or attempt to sell, bootleg merchandise at or near the Vegas Shows".

Not only will the unofficial tat confuse BTS fans, but "the bootleg merchandise is generally of inferior quality", the lawsuit claims. "The sale of such merchandise is likely to injure the reputation of BTS and plaintiffs, which have developed the reputation for high quality associated with the tour merchandise by virtue of BTS's public performances and plaintiffs' sale of officially licensed BTS merchandise in connection with such performances".

With all that in mind - and to stop the infringement of BTS's trademarks and publicity rights, not to mention unfair competition and violation of Nevada's Deceptive Trade Practices Act - HYBE would like the court to issue an injunction banning the sale of unofficial merch and empowering reps of the group and/or local law enforcement to seize any such merch.

It's not the first time BTS has sought injunctions of this kind in the US. Indeed, last week's legal filing cites injunctions previously secured in California and Illinois as justification for why the courts in Nevada should comply with HYBE's request.

Of course, unofficial merch is usually cheaper than the official products, so while BTS and HYBE definitely lose out when the bootleggers show up outside their shows, the fans get a cheaper option, even if it is potentially of "inferior quality".

Though given that fans who can't afford tickets to the shows at Allegiant Stadium in Vegas have the option to buy cheaper tickets to access a live screening of the concert at the nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena, maybe the group could arrange it so that less cash rich fans can watch other fans buy official merch on a screen somewhere.

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Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump requests co-liaison role in Astroworld litigation to address diversity concerns
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump last week asked the judge overseeing the Astroworld litigation to appoint him as a "co-liaison counsel" in relation to all the ongoing cases, stating that - in that role - he could "help speak for the African American victims".

Hundreds of lawsuits were filed following the tragedy that occurred at the Travis Scott founded Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas last November, where ten people died and many more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Scott's headline set.

387 lawsuits have now been consolidated to make it easier to manage the legal action, with judge Kristen Hawkins overseeing the proceedings.

A few weeks ago lawyers working on all those cases gathered for a court hearing to discuss how things will be managed moving forward. Among other things, that requires appointing certain lawyers to a liaison role, who will then liaise between all the other attorneys and the court.

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

The judge confirmed 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".

According to Billboard, Crump reckons that one solution to the diversity problem is to appoint him to a co-liaison role. As a black main, his firm said in a court filing last week, Crump "provides both a strong voice and clear visibility to the community most affected. It cannot be seriously argued that there is anyone better situated or more respected in the eyes of the African American community than Mr Crump".

"Simply put", the legal filing continued, "Mr Crump is the ideal candidate to serve as plaintiffs' co-liaison counsel as he is in the best position to get the proverbial 'pulse' of the Astroworld plaintiffs' community, provide the court with necessary updates, and serve as the spokesperson for - and be the face of - the plaintiffs' litigation team".

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Florida court says hosting company can't be liable for copyright infringement via VPN it hosts
A court in Florida has upheld an earlier ruling that US hosting company Quadranet isn't liable for any copyright infringement undertaken by the users of a VPN that it provides services to, that being LiquidVPN.

The judge ruled that a specific anti-piracy tactic proposed by a group of movie producers which sued LiquidVPN and Quadranet wasn't viable, and therefore the latter's failure to employ that tactic was not grounds for making it liable for the conduct of the former's customers.

Those movie producers - many of which are affiliates of Millennium Media - have targeted a plethora of internet companies with copyright lawsuits.

Their litigation builds on the legal action successfully pursued by the music industry against the American internet service provider Cox Communications, which was found liable for its customers' copyright infringement because its slack repeat infringer policies meant it didn't qualify for protection under the safe harbour contained in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The music industry has filed similar lawsuits against a number of other ISPs, as has this consortium of movie producers. However, they have gone further in also targeting VPNs - or virtual private networks - which, among other things, can be used to circumvent anti-piracy measures put in place by ISPs. And not only that, the film firms have also gone after server hosting companies that provide services to VPNs.

A number of those targeted companies have actually agreed to out of court settlements. Those are confidential, of course, so it's not known what commitments the VPNs and hosting companies have made, although it is known that some have agreed to block certain piracy websites or to initiate other technical measures that make it harder to access or share unlicensed content.

However, when it was named as a defendant on the movie producers' lawsuit against LiquidVPN, Quadranet pushed back. Last December, the court in Florida where the film firms had gone legal dismissed the action against the hosting company on the basis there were no straightforward tactics it could employ to stop any infringing activities happening on its networks.

The movie producers had argued that the hosting company could 'null route' IP addresses linked to infringing activity which would make them unusable and stop the infringement. But, according to Torrentfreak, the court concluded this was an "impermissibly broad measure" because it would interfere in the relationship between the VPN and its customers, and could also negatively impact on other people making legitimate use of the VPN's services.

The movie producers then asked the court to reconsider, citing its past settlements with other internet companies as proof the court was wrong to conclude their proposed anti-piracy tactic would have unintended consequences. They cited a statement from VPN provider TorGuard to the effect that null-routing was a standard practice in the VPN business, and also referenced their settlement with hosting company Sharktech which has agreed to block some piracy traffic.

But, in her latest ruling, judge Beth Bloom said none of this persuaded her to overturn her original decision to dismiss the litigation against Quadranet. "The manner in which Sharktech operates and is willing to implement systems to attempt to block pirating websites is from an unrelated settlement agreement that has no bearing on Quadranet's ability and alleged obligation to implement similar measures", she stated.

Plus, "assuming for the sake of argument that Quadranet could null-route a specific IP address - static or dynamic - without interfering with other end users' legitimate use of the same IP address", she added, "Quadranet's actions would be wholly ineffective as the copyright infringer could get a new IP address to continue infringing plaintiffs' copyrighted works. In other words, null-routing an IP address or an account is not a practical measure to police infringing activity".

So, a definite win for Quadranet. Although with the hosting company now removed from the movie producers' legal action against LiquidVPN, they can now push for a default judgement against the VPN company itself, it having failed to mount a defence in court.

The producers are seeking nearly $15 million in damages. Though the LiquidVPN home page has been offline for a while, so it's not entirely clear what's going on at the VPN business and whether there's anyone left there to pay out.

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Spotify to shut down service in Russia due to censorship laws
Spotify has announced that it is, in fact, shutting down its service in Russia. Although the streaming firm closed its offices in the country following the invasion of Ukraine last month - and subsequently confirmed it was no longer selling advertising or subscriptions in the Russian market - the original plan was for the service to still be available there.

The rationale for that decision was that it was important to continue to allow Russians to access international news and current affairs content from within its podcast library. However, it now says, the recent ramping up of draconian censorship laws in Russia make that ambition unviable.

A spokesperson for the streaming firm explained on Friday: "Spotify has continued to believe that it's critically important to try and keep our service operational in Russia to provide trusted, independent news and information in the region".

But, they went on, "unfortunately recently enacted legislation [in Russia] further restricting access to information, eliminating free expression, and criminalising certain types of news puts the safety of Spotify's employees and possibly even our listeners at risk. After carefully considering our options and the current circumstances, we have come to the difficult decision to fully suspend our service in Russia".

As a result Spotify is likely to be come unavailable in Russia from next week.

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Former Key 103 DJs sign up to present on new Manchester radio station
A new local radio station will launch aimed at South Manchester and Cheshire next week with various DJs who were previously heard on other stations in the region set to be among its line-up.

Happy Radio will initially be available online before arriving on the local DAB network later in the year. It has been co-founded by Darren Proctor who - like several of the new station's DJs - was previously heard on Manchester's former main commercial pop station Piccadilly Key 103, as well as other Bauer-owned stations in the area.

Other former Key 103 DJs joining Happy Radio include Spence MacDonald and Steve Penk. Meanwhile, Chelsea Norris, another former Key 103 presenter who more recently hosted the breakfast show on BBC Manchester, will be part of the weekend line up.

Says Proctor of the new venture: "Looking back over the last 25 years of my career, some of the most fun and rewarding times were when the radio stations focussed on being hyper local, connecting with our audience to not only make the listener feel that they were part of the radio family but also creating huge interest from local businesses wanting to be part of it".

"After everything the world has gone through over the past two years", he goes on, "we need a local radio station which is going to lift our spirits and play great music with well known presenters".

Most local radio stations in the UK have ultimately been swallowed up by one of the national radio networks, of course, mainly those operated by Global and Bauer. In this part of the world, that most recently happened with the acquisition of Stockport-based Imagine Radio last year, which became part of Bauer's Greatest Hits Radio network.

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Setlist: Record revenues for the record industry (if you don't adjust for inflation)
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the latest stats from the IFPI showing that global recorded music revenues grew 18.5% in 2021, plus a whole load more stats from Spotify aiming to fend of criticism about the money artists and songwriters earn from the platform (although possibly not doing that good a job of it).

Listen to this episode of Setlist here
.

Connecticut community festival Floatchella rebrands after AEG cease-and-desist
Time for yet another Chella related legal story, for collectors of such things. Another festival with Chella in its name is rebranding after receiving a cease and desist from the lawyers at AEG, owners of the big old Coachella festival in California. This time it's a not-for-profit event called Floatchella in the town of Mystic in Connecticut that's having to come up with an alternative name thanks to a legal letter from the live giant.

In the last year AEG and its Goldenvoice subsidiary - which actually promotes the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival - has targeted a number of other events in the US that are using similar names to Coachella. There was legal action against the Carchella touring car exhibition that also included some hip hop based entertainment and against the Bookchella series of events that were encouraging young people to do some good old book reading.

Then there's the ongoing dispute over the New Year's event that took place in the Californian city of, well, Coachella and which originally went by the name Coachella Day One 22. In that legal battle AEG went after its rival Live Nation - which was selling tickets to Coachella Day One 22 via its Ticketmaster platform - rather than the promoter of the event, which was a Native American tribe that likely has sovereign immunity from any trademark lawsuit.

Floatchella is basically a community event staged on and around the Mystic river which was originally set up when the COVID pandemic was at its height.

Bruce Flax - President of the Greater Mystic Chamber Of Commerce - told Connecticut newspaper The Day: "The Floatchella started in 2020 out of COVID. We were trying to have a safe event where the chamber could partner with downtown merchants because nobody was going to downtown at the time. We came up with this event that's outdoors and safe".

Local bands and DJs perform at the town's docks with half the audience watching from one of about 300 boats on the river and the other half from the shore. Although a free event, money is raised by selling Floatchella merchandise.

Confirming they'd received a cease-and-desist in relation to the town's mini-festival, Flax continued: "It's a nice community event, so to have the behemoth kind of come after us, they've got to have better things to do than that".

Despite that sentiment - and while reckoning that no one is going to confuse Floatchella with Coachella or assume that the two events are in any way connected - Flax added: "We don't have the money to fight them, and some friends of the chamber looked into it, and they told me AEG does this a lot, and they win a lot, so it was something that, we have such a great year coming up at the chamber, that we don't really have time for this".

The annual event now has a provisional new name of Float Fest, although alternative suggestions are also being welcomed by the Mystic Chamber Of Commerce, providing they aren't likely to result in cease-and-desists from any other big existing festivals. So, nobody should suggest Floatonbury. Or Floatapalooza. Or, errrr, the Floating And Leeds Festivals?

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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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