|THURSDAY 14 APRIL 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Lawyers for Live Nation have raised concerns over a documentary about last year's Astroworld tragedy - which premiered at two cinemas in Texas last night - saying that the film could "taint the jury pool" if any of the hundreds of lawsuits filed over the Houston festival reach trial... [READ MORE]|
Live Nation says Astroworld documentary could "taint the jury pool"
A stack of litigation has been filed in relation to the events at last November's Astroworld festival, where ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a deadly crowd surge occurred during the headline set of festival founder Travis Scott. That litigation mainly targets Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary - as the promoters of the festival - as well as Scott himself.
In an effort to make it easier to manage the legal action, the hundreds of lawsuits have now been consolidated, with judge Kristen Hawkins overseeing the proceedings. In February, she issued a wide-ranging gagging order restricting what those involved in the litigation can say in public about the legal action, concluding that such restrictions were required to ensure a fair trial should the lawsuits end in court before a jury.
The new documentary about the Astroworld tragedy is called 'Concert Crush', and is directed by Charlie Minn, who refers to himself as a "victim-driven" documentary filmmaker.
Of his work, he says: "I am here to give people a 'voice' who do not have one anymore. I try to speak for them. It's unbelievable the injustice in our country and in our world. Somebody has to say something. I am here to inform, educate and raise awareness to the highest level for change, and boy do we need change".
The film - which has screenings scheduled in various cinemas around Texas later this month following its premiere yesterday - is co-produced by lawyer Ricardo Ramos, who is working on a number of the Astroworld lawsuits. And other lawyers working on Astroworld cases are seemingly interviewed in the film.
In a recent letter to Hawkins, a legal rep for Live Nation states: "We write to bring the court's attention to the upcoming release of a film concerning the Astroworld concert titled 'Concert Crush'. The film has received recent publicity in the Houston area".
"The film's website indicates it was co-produced by attorney Ricardo Ramos, who represents plaintiffs in 20 cases pending in this multidistrict litigation", it goes on. "The film includes interviews with Ramos, two members of the plaintiffs' executive committee - Brent Coon and Tony Buzbee - and as many as eight Astroworld plaintiffs".
Live Nation's letter then argues: "The involvement of plaintiffs' lawyers in the film, and the publicity the filmmakers and producers are trying to generate for it, raise significant issues about efforts to taint the jury pool".
Referencing the aforementioned gagging order and motions responding to it from parties involved in the litigation and local media, the letter concludes: "Although the parties and intervenor ABC News have agreed they will benefit from additional time to discuss the pending motions regarding the court's 15 Feb publicity order before the court hears argument on them, we believe it is important for the court to be aware of the 'Concert Crush' film and the involvement of some plaintiffs' lawyers in its content, production, and promotion".
Ramos is yet to respond to Live Nation's letter to the court, but another lawyer who is working on Astroworld cases, Robert C Hillard, who did not participate in the documentary, was critical of the live giant's decision to formally complain about the film. And also that it made that complaint via a letter rather than a formal court filing.
According to Rolling Stone, he criticised the Live Nation lawyers' "almost giddy attempts to use the upcoming 'Concert Crush' film to asperse as many of the Astroworld litigation multidistrict litigation plaintiffs' bar as they can ... perhaps hoping to distract this court from their own clients' criminally negligent conduct in the deaths and injuries of so many".
As for how Live Nation's complaint was delivered, he criticised how the live firm's legal team resorted "to such a transparent 'tattle-tale' letter, rather than, as required by the rules, the filing of a motion, which would require them to set out some type of requested relief".
It's not the first time parties involved in the Astroworld litigation have raised concerns about the impact public projects pursued by the other side could have on any future court hearings before a jury. Though previously it was representatives for the plaintiffs who criticised Scott.
That related to the new philanthropic project launched by the rapper in March called Project HEAL – which in part aims to improve safety at live events in the wake of the Astroworld tragedy. Launching the initiative, Scott said: "My team and I created Project HEAL to take much needed action towards supporting real solutions that make all events the safest spaces they can possibly be".
But legal reps for some of the Astroworld plaintiffs said that it was inappropriate for Scott to be publicly debating event safety issues as the litigation in relation to his own event continues to go through the motions. And among those reps was Hillard, who told Hawkins that he felt the launch of Project HEAL "affected and dented" the power of the gagging order the judge had issued.
Though Scott's attorneys hit back at that claim. Charitable projects had "been a constant" in the rapper's life, they argued, and "to suggest somehow that speaking about those charitable initiatives ... runs afoul of the publicity order ... is certainly not something that would withstand scrutiny".
With so much media interest in the Astroworld cases - and Scott seemingly planning to get back to performing and promoting his music in the months ahead - it seems likely plenty more concerns will be raised by both sides in relation to what kind of public statements could break Hawkins' order.
Leadmill management petition for suspension of Section 25 of Landlord And Tenant Act as dispute with landlord continues
That petition, on the UK Parliament website, is not just focused on the venue team's own current situation, instead calling for a section of the Landlord And Tenant Act to be suspended pending a government review of how landlords are currently able to "expropriate" investments made by a tenant in any property that they rent.
It was announced last month that the current management team at The Leadmill will be evicted from their building next year. However, that doesn't mean that that building will cease to be a venue. The property is currently owned by music company The Electric Group, which already manages venues in London and Bristol, and which plans to directly manage The Leadmill too once the current team have vacated the premises.
But supporters of the current management team say that - even though The Electric Group intends to keep a venue operating at its building - its decision to evict the current team is nevertheless unacceptable. Indeed, some have argued, The Electric Group is basically seeking to expand its company by exploiting the investments made in its property over the years by the current Leadmill team, while also utilising the goodwill built up by the existing venue over the last 40 years.
In a previous statement, the current Leadmill team stated: "The Leadmill is being exterminated by the landlord, they are destroying our business by evicting us. 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".
That team also previously confirmed they were organising a petition for their supporters to sign. However, that's not simply a petition calling on The Electric Group to change its mind regarding the management of the Sheffield venue.
Instead the petition set up by the venue's General Manager Ian Lawlor states: "Section 25 of the Landlord And Tenant Act can be exploited by landlords, allowing them to expropriate the investment the tenant has made into the premises, including any goodwill developed over many years".
"The government has said it will review the Landlord And Tenant Act", it adds. "We are calling for a suspension of Section 25 (Grounds C to G), so that tenants cannot be evicted until a government review has been concluded, and any reforms implemented".
In a social media post announcing the petition, the venue explains: "We are calling for a suspension to Section 25 of the Landlord And Tenant Act (Grounds C to G) in order to help save The Leadmill, as well as helping to protect the many other vulnerable businesses across the country, who lease the buildings in which they operate from".
"93% of grassroots music venues do not own the buildings that they operate within and are also at risk", it goes on. "This is an extremely important step in our bid to secure jobs for our workforce and for The Leadmill to remain at the heart of our community, so please do share this petition far and wide to secure our survival".
The petition has already passed 10,000 signatures, which is the point at which the government is obliged to respond. If it reaches 100,000 - currently it is at 14,359 - the issues raised by the petition would be considered for a Parliamentary debate.
Deezer negotiating public listing via merger with French SPAC
According to the Wall Street Journal, the streaming firm is close to agreeing a deal to merge with I2PO, a special-purpose acquisition company with a focus on entertainment and leisure which listed on the Paris stock exchange last July.
SPACs - sometimes known as blank cheque companies - are businesses with no active operations that raise money on the investment markets with the intent of using that cash to buy a privately-owned business outright. Middle East based digital music firm Anghami got itself listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the US by merging with a SPAC, and independent music firm Reservoir likewise got itself a Nasdaq listing via a SPAC deal.
Although active in the subscription streaming market pretty much from the start - and the first to undergo rapid global expansion - Deezer remains a relatively small player in the digital music space. MIDiA estimates that it commands just 2% of the premium subscription market, dwarfed by market leader Spotify, and a long way behind the likes of Apple Music, Amazon Music and YouTube Music, and even the China-only music streaming services of Tencent and NetEase.
Despite that small market share, 2% of the premium subscription market would still equate to over ten million paying subscribers, and when you take free tier users into account, Deezer talks about having an active userbase of sixteen million.
Those sound like relatively big numbers. Although, with the economics of music streaming, where up to 70% of a service's revenue is paid over to the music industry each month, you arguably need significant scale to have a viable long-term business.
Concerns about Deezer's ability to reach that scale were raised the last time it looked into getting itself listed on the Paris stock exchange, that time - in 2015 - via a more conventional Initial Public Offering. That IPO was called off at the last minute, with "market conditions" cited as the reason.
Nevertheless, there remains a decent helping of optimism regarding future growth of the wider digital music market within parts of the investment community.
And while it might be tricky to see Deezer ever really taking on Spotify or Apple in the conventional subscription streaming market-place, some investors may well see an opportunity to build additional digital music products around things like livestreaming, memberships, NFTs and other digital collectibles on top of a platform like Deezer.
Which might be why French entertainment SPAC I2PO sees an opportunity to be seized in the France-based global music streaming firm. WSJ's sources reckon an announcement on that I2PO/Deezer deal could come in the next few days.
Eurovision partners with TikTok
To carry out this important role, TikTok will be putting up all sorts of Eurovision stuff, including Eurovision-themed playlists and behind-the-scenes content. You'll also be able to watch the semi-finals and grand final of the competition in vertical video format through the TikTok app, although I'm not sure why you'd want to do that.
"We're excited to bring the magic and music of Eurovision to our community this year", says TikTok's EU General Manager Rich Waterworth. "TikTok is the home of entertainment and creativity and I know our creators and users across Europe and beyond will embrace this much-loved celebration of music and culture. We'll be bringing fans exclusive content, taking them behind the scenes and placing them at the heart of the show itself. We can't wait to see how our community will be inspired by Eurovision this year!"
Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest Martin Österdahl, adds: "We're delighted to be making TikTok the Official Entertainment Partner of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, working closely to create even more exclusive and engaging content. The TikTok community really embraced the Eurovision Song Contest last year and now we're looking forward to giving them unprecedented access to the world's largest live music event and inspiring a whole new generation of fans".
The grand final of this year's Eurovision Song Contest takes place on 14 May.
BMG reveals more information about its upcoming David Bowie film
It's directed by Brett Morgen who has, and I quote, "synthesised David Bowie's music and art into a sublime kaleidoscopic experiential cinematic odyssey that explores Bowie's creative, spiritual, and philosophical journey".
"With never-before-seen footage, performances, and music", the official pitch goes on, "the film is guided exclusively by Bowie's narration. The motion picture features 47 musical tracks, mixed from their original stems. Bowie's long-time collaborator and friend Tony Visconti is the film's music producer".
BMG also notes that the film draws extensively from Bowie's 1970 to 1977 songs repertoire in which it has a 25% stake - a stake that wasn't affected by the big old deal recently announced between Warner and the Bowie estate in relation to his wider songs catalogue.
Commenting on the film project, BMG EVP Global Repertoire Fred Casimir says: "This has been a five year labour of love to honour one of the greatest song catalogues in music history. BMG is proud to build on our long-term relationship with the David Bowie estate working hand-in-hand with our partners Live Nation Productions to bring Brett Morgen's vision to the big screen".
James Bourne to release new solo album Sugar Beach
Somewhat ironically, as he prepared to release his debut solo record 'Safe Journey Home' in 2020, pandemic travel restrictions meant that he was unable to get back home to LA.
"When I realised I was going to be stranded, all I could do was make the best of the situation", he says. "It was the first time I had been in the Caribbean and suddenly I was going to be staying there for far longer than I expected. In many ways I was lucky: if you're going to be stranded, where would be better? But being so alone I began to think, will I ever make it home?"
These conflicting feelings are captured in the album's first single 'Alone In Paradise', which was released earlier this month. You can watch the video for the song here.
The album is set for release on 1 Jul. And now free of the Caribbean, Bourne will begin a short UK tour next week. Here are the dates:
19 Apr: Glasgow, King Tuts
Will Young has released new single 'Why Does It Hurt', which is set to feature on his new greatest hits compilation marking 20 years since he won 'Pop Idol'. He will also be touring to mark the anniversary in October and November.
Belle And Sebastian have released new single 'Young And Stupid'. Their new album, 'A Bit Of Previous', is out on 6 May.
Pussy Riot and Slayyyter have teamed up for new single 'Hatefuck'. "Audio-visual art piece 'Hatefuck' is the next piece of Pussy Riot's ongoing 2022 cycle 'Patriarchy RIP' that revolves around a super(s)hero character who owns magic superwoman-like qualities and uses these powers to destroy the patriarchy", says Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova.
Dream Theater frontman James LaBrie has released 'Give & Take', the second single from his upcoming solo album 'Beautiful Shade Of Grey', which is out on 20 May. "This track is a take on the coercive manipulation between the corporate elite and the proletariat class", he says. "An atmospheric soundscape with beautiful feel and scope".
MØ has released a new version of her song 'New Moon' featuring Rebecca Black. "'New Moon' is a song about manifesting a new era, a song about regaining control", says MØ. "Rebecca Black fit so perfectly into this energy and I love what she brought to this song. I also just adore her and it was so much fun to collaborate on this!"
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch will release her new album 'Ravage' on 27 May. Here's the title track.
Dub War have released new single 'War Inna Babylon', featuring Ranking Roger. Their new album, 'Westgate Under Fire', is out on 5 Aug.
Phelimuncasi have released new single 'I Don't Feel My Legs'. Their new album, 'Ama Gogela', is out on 13 May, named after a large bee from their native South Africa. "We believe our music is irresistible, you can't sleep or chill while it's playing", they explain. "The same thing happens when that bee hits you hard. Once it stings you, you can't manage it, it's painful. It's like our songs - once you listen, you can't stop".
It had to happen eventually. The Hyundai Mercury Prize has been brought to an end. Filling the gap left will be a brand new award, The Mercury Prize With Free Now. I don't really know what Free Now is, and you'll never use the prize's full name anyway, so we probably shouldn't worry about it. The Mercury Prize has the money it needs to continue though, so that's nice. The shortlist will be out on 28 Jul and the ceremony will take place at the Hammersmith Apollo on 8 Sep. Oh, and the big news is that entries are now open. Submit your albums to firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Absolute listeners vote 2010s as the worst ever decade for music
Around 10,000 votes were cast in the poll organised by Absolute Radio, which - it says in a press statement - "has a station for every decade". Over six weeks, voters had their say on all the decades in which humans created music.
Which decades are those? Well, based on the claim about Absolute having a station for "every decade", that would be the 1960s to the 2020s. Which you may or may not take issue with. But either way, according to Absolute listeners, the last decade was the shittest one music-wise.
While Absolute does have a station for the current decade, it wasn't included in the poll, on account of the fact that there's still plenty of time for the 2020s to get shitter - so voting on it now wouldn't be fair.
"It has been really fun over the last few weeks having the chance to champion a different decade of music, film, TV and people across the station", says Absolute Radio Breakfast host Dave Berry. "It was great to see our listeners get so passionate about their favourite decade, whilst also discovering some hidden facts and music from each era".
Is it fair to say that the 2010s is the worst decade for music ever though? Well, let's look at the evidence. According to the Official Charts Company, the most popular singles of the 2010s in the UK were Ed Sheeran's 'Shape Of You'; Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars's 'Uptown Funk; Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud'; Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber's 'Despacito' remix; and Ed Sheeran's 'Perfect'.
If there was a poll for the most Ed Sheeran singles released in any one decade, the 2010s would be right out in front. That's not what this poll was about though. Or maybe it was. That said, Absolute listeners also reckon that the 1960s was the third worst decade for music ever, and that can't have been because they accidentally assumed that Ed Sheeran had been releasing music then too.
Anyway, in any poll, there has to be a winner as well as a loser, so here - in reverse order - are the results of the worst musical decade ever vote:
Now that the listeners have spoken about the music they hate the most, the main Absolute Radio station will be playing lots of music from the 80s on Good Friday - aka tomorrow.