MONDAY 4 APRIL 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The war of words continues between the current management team and the landlord at Sheffield venue The Leadmill, following the news the latter is evicting the former, but with plans to keep the building running as a venue under new management... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Dispute over the future of Sheffield's The Leadmill rages on
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LEGAL Phoebe Bridgers must participate in deposition as part of defamation legal battle
RIAA subpoenas information about two more stream-ripping sites
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LIVE BUSINESS Night Time Industries Association calls for urgent rethink from government regarding sector support
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MEDIA Sony Music announces launch of new movie podcast with Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo
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RELEASES Cancer Bats post new track and launch accompanying coffee blend
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AWARDS Grammy Awards presented
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AND FINALLY... Annie Mac launches new early doors club night
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Dispute over the future of Sheffield's The Leadmill rages on
The war of words continues between the current management team and the landlord at Sheffield venue The Leadmill, following the news the latter is evicting the former, but with plans to keep the building running as a venue under new management.

The current managers of The Leadmill announced on Thursday that "today we have received some devastating news that in one year's time, our landlord is trying to evict us, forcing us to close".

Initially many in the music community feared that this was another case of a venue's building being repurposed into offices or luxury apartments, depriving yet another city of a crucially important grassroots performance space, but it quickly became clear that this was a slightly different dispute.

The building is owned by a company called Electric Group which already operates venues in London and Bristol, with a third due to open later this year in Newcastle. And its CEO, Dominic Madden, said in a tweet on Friday morning: "We are music people, we spend our lives running independent music venues and The Leadmill will continue to operate as a special music venue. The management may change but the song stays the same".

However, the current management team hit back, arguing that - while the building they currently occupy may continue to be run as a venue after their eviction - that doesn't make said eviction any less devastating. Meanwhile, they then claimed, the Electric Group - which acquired their building in 2017 - is simply hoping to exploit the good reputation of a venue that has been operating for more than 40 years through what is basically a hostile takeover.

"The Leadmill is being exterminated by the landlord, they are destroying our business by evicting us", that management team said in a statement on Friday afternoon. "They intend to profit from the goodwill and reputation built up over ... 40 plus years. It is a cheap, shabby, sly and underhand way of doing business, by forcing companies to cease trading"

They added: "Millions of pounds have been spent by The Leadmill (not the landlord) on the fabric of what was once a derelict building. It is the hard working, dedicated and local family of staff that have put 42 years worth of their blood, sweat and tears into making it the cultural asset it is today. Without The Leadmill, the building we currently occupy would be nothing more than a derelict old flour mill".

But Madden has been hitting back too, insisting that he and his company are well positioned to take over the running of the Sheffield venue, with plans to invest around a million pounds in refurbishing the space while "securing its future" for the next 30 years.

Speaking to the Sheffield Star, he said: "Personally I've spent 30 years operating live music venues, that's what we do. The idea that we would take something as culturally significant, important and well-loved as The Leadmill and close it down and turn it into flats is a nonsense".

"We have a track record of investing in music venues and an understanding of the cultural significance of this venue in Sheffield", he added.

"It shouldn't be a massive surprise given we bought The Leadmill and we've spent our lives acquiring, operating and nurturing grassroots music venues elsewhere, that it would clearly be the intention to take it back at the end of the lease, refurbish it and invest in it and make sure it's ready to serve audiences and artists for the next 30 years".

Presumably aware that his company describes itself as "an independent music company, born and bred in Brixton", and that the Yorkshire music community might not appreciate a London-based company - even a London-based independent music company - swooping in and taking over such an important music venue, Madden was also quite keen to play the trusty "but I'm a Northerner" card.

"I can see there's going to be certain resistance to somebody from London turning up and buying The Leadmill", he went on, "but I'm actually from Newcastle and I think people should look at what we've done elsewhere and judge us on that. If people go and talk to the people we work with they'll find out we're good people and we're music people".

The Electric Group - co-founded by Madden and Jake Lewis, part of the Lewis family that owns the River Island retail chain among other businesses - grew out of the Electric Brixton venue that Madden launched in 2011 in the one time South London cinema that previously housed nightclub The Fridge. The company then extended to Bristol by acquiring SWX in 2017 and is currently refurbishing the old Newcastle Academy which will re-open as NX later this year.

It seems that Madden hopes that The Leadmill will continue to operate under that name in the long-term. Although in their statement on Friday, the current management team said: "The Leadmill brand and name is owned by us and only us, without us there is no Leadmill. Mr Madden, stop using the Leadmill's name to further your miserable mean ambitions". For his part, Madden told The Star he is currently consulting his lawyers regarding the rights to the venue's name.

Whatever the legalities, in PR terms the current Leadmill team do seem to be winning plenty of support from within the music community. Their statement continued: "We have received tens of thousands of supportive messages, and the music community is asking how they can help to stop this appalling development. We are in the process of organising a petition, which we will ask everyone to sign".

However - while insisting he was happy to "speak to anybody" about his company's plans for The Leadmill - Madden doesn't seem in any mood to radically change those plans, telling the Star he is "committed to taking the building back and operating it".

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Phoebe Bridgers must participate in deposition as part of defamation legal battle
A court in California last week said that Phoebe Bridgers must take part in a deposition and answer questions under oath as part of her defamation legal battle with recording engineer Chris Nelson. She had previously said that his request for a deposition was "nothing more than thinly veiled harassment".

Nelson sued Bridgers last year claiming that, in October 2020, the musician posted and promoted various defamatory statements against him on Instagram. In those posts, Bridgers made a number of allegations of abuse and misconduct against Nelson, as well as directing her followers to his ex-girlfriend's account on the social platform where further allegations had been made.

Nelson claims that Bridgers "intentionally used her high-profile public platform on Instagram to publish false and defamatory statements ... in order to destroy his reputation".

But she says that she believes the statements she made were true, insisting that they were based on "my personal knowledge, including statements I personally heard Mr Nelson make, as well as my own observations".

Bridgers is trying to have the defamation lawsuit dismissed by citing anti-SLAPP rules, those being rules designed to stop people limiting the free speech of others through unwarranted litigation.

As the case proceeded into the so called discovery phase, the Nelson side requested that Bridgers be ordered to sit for a deposition. But, as noted, she said that request was "nothing more than thinly veiled harassment" and should therefore be denied.

However, the judge overseeing the dispute last week said that a key question to answer as part of Nelson's defamation claim is whether or not Bridgers acted with malice when she made her statements on Instagram, because - to prevail in his litigation - he would need to "demonstrate that [the] defendant knew or recklessly disregarded that the alleged defamatory statements were false before publication".

And answering that question requires the participation of Bridgers, the judge added, writing in his ruling: "Good cause for discovery prior to resolution of an anti-SLAPP motion is present in a defamation case involving a public figure when the defendant is the primary source of evidence regarding actual malice".

He went on: "Because the subjective belief of defendant is critical, defendant herself is necessarily the primary, if not sole, source of evidence regarding actual malice".

To that end the judge granted Nelson's motion to force the Bridgers deposition, although questioning during that session "shall be limited to the issue of actual malice for the purpose of opposing defendant's special motion to strike".

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RIAA subpoenas information about two more stream-ripping sites
The Recording Industry Association Of America is going after two more stream-ripping sites, having secured a subpoena from the Californian courts last week ordering internet services company Cloudflare to hand over any information it has about the people who operate mp3download.to and 320ytmp3.com.

Stream-ripping - where people can grab permanent downloads of temporary streams - has been the music industry's top piracy gripe for some time, of course, resulting in various lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and web-blocking orders against various entities operating such services.

Actually suing those entities - rather than just getting ISPs to block access to their websites - requires knowing who is running said entities and where they live, which can be tricky. The starting point is usually seeking information from any internet companies that are providing the stream-rippers with services, such as Cloudflare. Though Cloudflare in particular is known to knock back requests for such information unless ordered to do provide it by the courts.

In the case of mp3download.to and 320ytmp3.com, the RIAA has that court order, though that doesn't necessarily mean the record industry trade group will now get the information it needs. Not because Cloudflare won't comply with the order - it almost certainly will - but, as Torrentfreak notes, "sites are known to sign up to the [Cloudflare] service using fake details".

So it remains to be seen whether any actual legal action against mp3download.to and 320ytmp3.com follows. Although web-blocking injunctions in relation to the two sites, in those countries where such things are available, seem likely.

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Night Time Industries Association calls for urgent rethink from government regarding sector support
The Night Time Industries Association has called on the UK Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak to "go back to the drawing board" following his recent spring budget statement, which was widely criticised by the live music and night-time sectors.

Although grassroots venues will benefit from the extension of a business rates discount that was included in Sunak's recent statement, none of the other support measures called for by the live music and night-time sectors were included. In particular, venues and promoters had hoped that a VAT discount on tickets put in place during the COVID pandemic would be extended.

With rising costs across the board, including the controversial surge in energy prices, the NTIA says that a night-time sector that is still very much in recovery mode after two years of COVID-caused disruption is going to struggle to get through the next six months, and further support from government is urgently required.

NTIA CEO Michael Kill states: "The spring budget really epitomises the very clear disengagement and lack of grassroots understanding of our industry by the government. Following two years of lockdowns and restrictions, and now the uncertainty of crisis overseas and the exceptional levels of cost inflation being experienced by operators, surely this government cannot think this spring statement will help anybody, consumer or businesses alike".

"The industry has lost over a third of nightclubs across the UK in the last two years, and with the withdrawal of financial reliefs including VAT, and growing concern over cost inflation, as new contracts are being signed, we are set for many more businesses to be lost with jobs to follow over the next twelve months", he adds.

"Once again our industry is facing a very bleak period, the feedback from members and wider industry is that this is not sustainable, and will lead to unprecedented price increases, in an environment where customers have less disposable income", he concludes. "I would urge the Chancellor to revisit the spring budget, as autumn will be too late for many".

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Sony Music announces launch of new movie podcast with Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo
Sony Music's podcast division has announced a partnership with Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo which will see the launch next month of a new movie-centric podcast basically replacing the duo's movie-centric BBC radio show, the final edition of which aired on Friday.

Kermode and Mayo have provided movie chatter on the BBC since the 1990s, of course, initially on Radio 1 and then Radio 5 Live, and as a podcast since 2005. That chatter originally took place as a segment on Mayo's Radio 1 and Radio 5 Live shows before becoming a programme in its own right on the latter after Mayo's main BBC gig shifted to Radio 2.

The weekly film programme then continued even after Mayo left his main BBC show and subsequently joined commercial broadcaster Bauer on its Scala and then Greatest Hits Radio channels.

Independent audio production company Somethin Else - acquired by Sony Music as it expanded its podcast operations last year - began producing the Kermode and Mayo film programme for the BBC in 2011, so it's perhaps no surprise that the duo are teaming up with Sony and its Somethin Else division to launch this new standalone podcast.

Called Kermode And Mayo's Take, the new podcast programme will be similar to the old BBC show, although it will be published twice a week and will also cover big TV series and franchises as well as films.

Commenting on the new venture, Kermode says: "Simon Mayo is quite simply one of the best broadcasters in the world and I'm THRILLED to be teaming up with him again for this new Sony podcast, which will allow us to bicker about movies and TV - and skiffle, obviously - to our hearts' content".

Meanwhile Mayo adds: "We said it wasn't the end. The sequel is here… this time with sequins".

And for the Sony Music side of the venture, Somethin Else co-founder and the major's EVP and Co‑Head of Global Podcasts, Jez Nelson, chips in: "Kermode and Mayo have made an incredible impact in UK audio for decades. They are radio icons but also pioneers of podcasting. We are THRILLED to welcome them to Sony Music and to now work with them to take their amazing partnership and peerless take on movies to the next level globally".

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Setlist: Did Fortnite rip off a Charlie Puth dance? It's complicated
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the lawsuit launched against Fortnite maker Epic Games by the choreographer behind the dance routine in the video for the Charlie Puth song 'How Long' alleging that an 'emote' available within the gaming platform utilises his choreography without licence, and the US Copyright Royalty Board's rejection of industry proposals on royalty rates for discs and downloads.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here.

Cancer Bats post new track and launch accompanying coffee blend
Cancer Bats posted a new track called 'Pressure Mind' on Friday, the third track to be released from their upcoming seventh studio album 'Psychic Jailbreak', which will be released on 15 Apr.

On it, the band's Liam Cormier says: "Sometimes you just need a release with everything going on in the world, this song is our punk rock way of blowing off some steam. [The] melodic verses and bridge are all about introspection and thinking how we get ourselves in these mindsets time and time again, and then the chorus is all about letting it out!"

The band have also teamed up with Anchored Coffee Roasters to make a special limited edition coffee blend to accompany the release because, well, I don't know, why not I guess. "I drink coffee non-stop and Anchored are some of my fav beans, so I wanted to share that love with all our fans", Cormier explains.

They did announce the limited edition coffee on April Fools Day, but it is definitely for sale on their website described as "a dark roast blend of 75% Guatemalan and 25% Brazilian beans with flavour notes of a nutty chocolatey taste that is great on its own or with a bit of cream", so it seems real. Though, the official announcement says the coffee is only available in the band's home country of Canada, so bad luck non-Canadians.

You can listen to the track here and (Canadians only!) buy the coffee here.

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Grammy Awards presented
The 2022 Grammy Awards show took place last night, postponed from its usual January/February slot in the calendar by pesky COVID. Following last week's headline-grabbing Oscars ceremony, the Grammys show wasn't so eventful. But given the reason the Oscars grabbed so many headlines, that's probably just as well.

Actually, the joke gone wrong at this year's Oscars bash did provide some comedy material for the comedians taking part in the Grammys.

During his opening monologue, host Trevor Noah alluded to the on-stage altercation last week between Will Smith and Chris Rock - and the former's post-slap demand of the latter - declaring that, at the US music industry's big night out: "We're gonna be listening to some music, we're gonna be dancing, we're gonna be singing, we're gonna be keeping people's names out of our mouths".

Meanwhile, prior to the main Grammys show when various non-televised awards were being dished out, actor LeVar Burton introduced comedian Nate Bargatze - there to announce the winner of the Best Spoken Word Album award - by telling the audience: "I want to warn you all that our next presenter is a comedian, if you know what I mean. So, I need to caution everybody, remain in your seats and keep your hands to yourself".

Bargatze then walked on stage wearing a crash helmet, joking: "They said comedians have to wear these now at awards shows during the joke parts [but] it doesn't even cover your face, I think it just focuses where you would hit me!"

In terms of controversies that actually occurred within this year's Grammys proceedings, there has been some backlash to Louis CK taking the prize for Best Comedy Album, given the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him in 2017, which he also discussed in the routine that won him the Grammy, 'Sincerely Louis CK'. Although the comedian was not actually in attendance and that award was not presented during the main televised show, minimising the controversy to an extent.

Within that main show, big name performances and the presentation of the most prestigious Grammy Awards was very much the focus, although there was one section that stepped away from the usual formalities, responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

There was a performance by John Legend accompanied by Ukrainian musicians Mika Newton and Siuzanna Iglidan, and Ukrainian poet Lyuba Yakimchuk, which was preceded by a recorded message from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Noah introduced that message by telling his audience: "Even in the darkest times, music has the power to lift spirits and give you hope for a brighter tomorrow. There's nobody who could use a little hope right now more than the people of Ukraine".

Zelenskiy then stated: "The war. What is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars ... The war doesn't let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence".

"Our musicians wear body armour instead of tuxedos", he went on. "They sing to the wounded in hospitals, even to those who can't hear them. But the music will break through anyway. We defend our freedom. To live. To love. To sound. On our land, we are fighting Russia which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music!"

He then added: "Fill it today to tell our story. Tell the truth about this war on your social networks, on TV, support us in any way you can - any, but not silence. And then peace will come".

As for the actual awards, Jon Batiste took the Album Of The Year prize with 'We Are', Silk Sonic got both Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year for 'Leave The Door Open', while Olivia Rodrigo was named Best New Artist. If you want a full list of winners you'll find it here.

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Annie Mac launches new early doors club night
Annie Mac is launching a new club night called Before Midnight that will take place, well, you know, before midnight, so you can all be fast asleep in bed by 1am at the very very very latest.

And while this was all formally announced on social media in among everyone's April Fool posts on Friday morning, Mac's new venture is no joke, and is based on the almost certainly accurate premise that there are people out there who like clubbing but who don't particularly like the super late nights that many clubbing experiences involve.

Explaining the rationale for Before Midnight, Mac said: "I know there's an appetite for it because I've had so many messages from you who've grown up with me and listened to me on the radio every Friday night, who adore the clubbing experience but don't want to wait until 1am to see me play, who need to be sharp and useful at the weekends and just can't afford sleepless nights".

She added: "Before Midnight is a chance for me to play long DJ sets with all my favourite records, those ones that spark joy, and a chance for you to have all the fun, the euphoria and the wild abandon you need and STILL get a good night's sleep".

The first edition of Before Midnight will take place at London's Islington Assembly Hall on 20 May with Mac on the decks supported by Melle Brown. Tickets go on sale on 9 Apr.

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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 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.
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