TODAY'S TOP STORY: A task force set up by Texas Governor Greg Abbott following last year's Astroworld tragedy has published a nine page report proposing a number of changes for how major events are regulated in the US state. Those changes, it says, will help to ensure that dangerous incidents like that which occurred during the Travis Scott founded festival in Houston last November can never happen again... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Astroworld task force sets out proposals to prevent future festival tragedies
DEALS Warner Music Asia signs Valentina Ploy
EDUCATION & EVENTS Midem to return next year run by the city of Cannes
ARTIST NEWS Pete Doherty announces memoir
RELEASES Orbital announce career retrospective, 30 Something
GIGS & FESTIVALS The Great Escape puts full festival and conference schedule live
ONE LINERS Mike Shinoda, The Smile, Lykke Li, more
AND FINALLY... Tyga's MSCHF trainers prompt legal battle with Vans
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Astroworld task force sets out proposals to prevent future festival tragedies
A task force set up by Texas Governor Greg Abbott following last year's Astroworld tragedy has published a nine page report proposing a number of changes for how major events are regulated in the US state. Those changes, it says, will help to ensure that dangerous incidents like that which occurred during the Travis Scott founded festival in Houston last November can never happen again.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Scott's headline set at his festival on 5 Nov. A number of investigations were launched following the festival, including Houston Police Department's criminal investigation, all seeking to identify if decisions made by the festival's organisers and/or local authorities before or during the event contributed to the tragedy.

Abbott announced that he had recruited a state-level task force to run its own investigation in the week following Astroworld 2021. Launching that task force, he said at the time: "Live music is a source of joy, entertainment, and community for so many Texans - and the last thing concertgoers should have to worry about is their safety and security. To ensure that the tragedy that occurred at the Astroworld festival never happens again in the Lone Star State, I am forming the Texas Task Force On Concert Safety".

A key finding of the task force in its new report is that the processes via which events currently secure licences from local authorities are inconsistent across the state, and that there should be a universal template and checklist that are used by counties throughout Texas when issuing event permits.

There should also be "clearly outlined triggers" that would automatically cause a show to be stopped and a clear chain of command during large events.

A key criticism made in the wake of the Astroworld tragedy was that Scott performed for half an hour after police had declared a "mass-casualty event", and many questions were asked about whose responsibility it was to halt the proceedings once the scale of the crowd surge became apparent.

Elsewhere, the report highlights the need for adequate training of security guards, although it doesn't set out any specific guidelines for what constitutes adequate.

It also advises that promoters work with artists to ensure that fans are actively encouraged the behave in a safe way. Scott, of course, has been criticised for doing the opposite of that in the past, although not specifically at last year's Astroworld event.

The President of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Marty Lancton, who was also a member of Abbott's task force, told the Houston Chronicle that the report sets out "solid solutions for preventing another tragedy", adding that he'll work with the state's government to make sure the proposed rule changes become law in Texas.

"There would have been no lives lost if the policies contained in this report had been in place last fall", he went on, "especially the requirement of a unified command and control for all first responders working the event".

With a number of investigations underway into last year's Astroworld crowd surge - not to mention the flood of litigation filed in relation to the incident - there are likely to be plenty more proposals made in the future for how events in Texas and beyond could be better managed to ensure the safety of all those who attend.


Warner Music Asia signs Valentina Ploy
Warner Music Asia has announced that it has signed Thai artist Valentina Ploy in a deal that will see the major work in partnership with her existing record company, indie label What The Duck.

"I am so happy to be working with Warner Music", says Ploy. "[I'm] very excited and grateful to become part of the family as I feel that they support my vision of developing my artist career beyond limits".

"It's always been a dream of mine to bring my music to the world and Warner Music is perfectly suited to help me reach the widest audience possible", she adds. "With Warner Music and What The Duck, I'll have an amazing set of partners that will help me achieve my vision and goal. Can't wait to release my songs on Warner Music in the weeks and months ahead".

Ploy began releasing music through What The Duck in 2019, and has charted in Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, as well as Thailand.

Jonathan Serbin, Co-President of Warner Music Asia, comments: "We are delighted to announce the signing of Valentina to Warner Music Asia. An extremely talented musician, she represents the new generation of singer-songwriters in Asia. The styles and themes of her music, and the range of languages that she can sing in, allow her to reach an incredibly wide audience with her songs. We look forward to bringing her sound to music lovers across the globe. And it's a great way to launch our partnership with What The Duck, a real pioneer in the Thai music scene".

Samkwan 'Moy' Tonsompong, Managing Director of What the Duck, adds: "We are excited to collaborate with Warner Music Asia on this project. We have worked with Valentina for a number of years, and have seen how she connects with fans. Already, her base in Southeast Asia and Taiwan is quite strong. The partnership with Warner Music will allow her to spread her music even further".

Valentina Ploy's first release under the new deal will be new single 'Bla Bli Blu' on 28 Apr. Her last single, 'Extra Life', came out last December. Watch the video for that here.


Midem to return next year run by the city of Cannes
The Cannes-based music business conference and trade fair Midem will return next year under new ownership, the new owner being the city of Cannes itself.

Midem had been a fixture of the music industry calendar for more than five decades when its previous owner RX France announced in December last year that it would no longer stage the event.

The conference's hey day was arguably in the 1980s and 1990s, with Midem seeing delegate numbers slide in the 2000s as the record industry went through its difficult decade, and Midem's own marketplace became much more crowded as the number of showcase festivals with accompanying conferences surged.

There were various efforts over the years to evolve Midem in a bid to combat that decline and better compete with its increasing number of rivals. Plenty of the changes were well received, though delegate numbers were still significantly down on the 1990s peak.

Then, of course, the pandemic forced the conference to switch to an online format. Though plans were already underway for the return of the live in-person version of Midem in 2022 when RX France announced it was bailing on the event.

That said, when announcing the cancellation of Midem's 2022 edition and confirming it would no longer produce the conference, RX France did say that it was in talks with the city of Cannes about it buying the Midem brand and bringing the whole thing back to life. And that has now happened.

Local media in the south of France actually reported on that development earlier this month, though an official announcement to the music industry is yet to be made, with Music Business Worldwide spotting that the deal had been confirmed within the French city yesterday.

Confirming its plans to relaunch Midem next year, Cannes council said that it had acquired the music business event to support the "economic dynamism" of the city, and that the plan was to further evolve the conference so to appeal to both the recorded music and live sectors, while also acknowledging the history of the 55 year old event.

Cannes mayor David Lisnard added: "Organised since 1967 in Cannes, Midem was the largest annual global event devoted to the music business. In order to retain this event in the Cannes calendar, the city of Cannes is taking over Midem so that it once again becomes the essential meeting place for music professionals from all over the world".


Approved: Gag Salon
Having released their debut single 'Horses' back at the start of the month, art-rock quartet Gag Salon waste no time in following it up with their second offering, 'My Gun'. Both tracks will feature on the band's debut EP, 'Get A Load Of This Guy', which is out in June.

Already the band have displayed a deft knack for story-telling pop songs that take a turn for the weird, and which sit somewhere between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks.

In the case of 'My Gun', the song's chirpiness is counterbalanced by the increasing darkness of the lyrics, before the whole thing falls into a discordant collapse. Frontman Joseph Mumford explains: "It's about a very agitated and isolated young man taking his anger out on the world".

Gag Salon are set to play the Are You Listening? festival on 7 May and then the Shacklewell Arms in London on 4 Jun. The 'Get A Load Of This Guy' EP is out on 16 Jun.

Watch the video for 'My Gun' here.

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

Pete Doherty announces memoir
Pete Doherty has announced that he will publish a memoir, titled 'A Likely Lad', this summer. It promises to tell "Doherty's version of the story" and be "a rock memoir like no other". So you can start pretending you don't want to read that now. Come on, at the very least you must be hoping to finally find out if he really did eat that really big breakfast.

Doherty's "talent as a musician has more often been eclipsed by a Herculean appetite for self-destruction", the synopsis for the book notes, adding that - as a result - his "is the last of the great rock n roll stories".

"As an icon, he is on par with the early Rolling Stones and Sid Vicious - bad boy and public enemy", it insists. "To his devoted fans, he is a cult hero, a modern-day Rimbaud. Musically, there is no doubt he has defined the past 20 years of British rock n roll with his sound, lyrics, lifestyle and aesthetic. Since The Libertines rose to international fame, Doherty has proved endlessly fascinating".

"In 'A Likely Lad'", it goes on, "Doherty explores his darkest moments. With astonishing frankness - and his trademark wit and humour - he takes us inside decadent parties, substance-fuelled nights, prison and his self-destruction".

"Doherty also reflects on the turbulent relationships with various significant people in his life across the years", it adds. "He discusses poetry, Paris, philosophy, politics, the music business and his key influences (from Hancock to Baudelaire). There is humour, warmth, insight, baleful reflection and a defiant sense of triumph".

Hopefully the darkest moments and self destruction are now all in the past. Doherty recently told The Mirror that he has been clean for over two years.

"It was tough", he added. There was no epiphany moment. It was so many years of going to rehabs and trying different ideas, I did everything from projectile vomiting at the Tham Krabok monastery in Thailand to clinics. And people who have been in active addiction would say to me, 'One day you'll just know it's the time to stop'. Somehow the balance has shifted".

'A Likely Lad' will be published by Little Brown on 16 Jun.


Orbital announce career retrospective, 30 Something
Orbital have announced that they will release a new retrospective album called '30 Something', which will contain reworks, remakes, remixes and re-imaginings of tracks from across their career. Its first single is 'Where Is It Going?', a version of their collaboration with Stephen Hawking for the 2012 London Paralympics opening ceremony.

"This is our special Paralympic version of 'Where Is It Going?', featuring the fantastic Stephen Hawking", say the duo of the single. "He's tackling the big question of the unification of physics and the understanding of a theory of everything. We're not there yet, we can't even find a unification socially as a species, but hopefully one day we will find out where we are going".

Contributing to the new album are Joris Voorn, Dusky, Jon Tejada, Yotto, and David Holmes, as well as Orbital themselves.

"What's been amazing for me is looking at our past and thinking of all the people who've come to see us, they are absolutely brilliant, warm and create such an amazing vibe", says Phil Hartnoll of putting the new release together. "They are now bringing their kids to our gigs, they love it".

His brother Paul adds: "Now we're diving into our past and reminding ourselves, blimey, we really did that. And it's still got something to say".

'30 Something' is set for release on 15 Jul. Watch the video for 'Where Is It Going?' here.


The Great Escape puts full festival and conference schedule live
The Great Escape has unveiled its full festival and conference schedule ahead of the event next month, which takes place from 11-14 May.

The full line-up includes more than 500 bands, while the conference features three full-day CMU+TGE strands, a series of keynote in conversations, a stack of panels and parties presented by TGE's industry partners, plus networking sessions and the TGE Elevate Sessions.

Among the new announcements today is that Amazon Music will host the festival's pop-up beach site this year, which will now be known as Amazon Music presents The Beach. Artists performing there will include Goat Girl, Baby Queen, Crawlers, Sinead O'Brien, Priya Ragu, Rachel Chinouriri, and Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn.

As for the CMU+TGE conference strands, they start on the Wednesday of TGE week with the MUSIC+EDUCATION strand on 11 May. MUSIC+DATA will follow on on Thursday 12 May and MUSIC+VIDEO on Friday 13 May, both presented in association with BPI.

With the full schedule for both the festival and conference now out there, you can access the whole lot in the Great Escape smartphone app and start scheduling your time at the event. If you don't yet have your delegate pass, get one here.



Warner Music has hired Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda as Community Innovation Advisor. More for his work in music tech than as a member of Linkin Park. "There's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to Web3; every artist and community is unique", says Shinoda. "Warner has made some strong first steps in this space, and I look forward to playing a role in further exploration - supporting artists in creating new opportunities, and connecting with fans in unimaginable new ways".

Universal Production Music has appointed June Carter as its new President. "Universal Production Music is a successful company with original and creative thinking at its heart", she says. "I'm looking forward to working with our global teams to propel the business into its next phase".



Radiohead offshoot The Smile have announced that they will release their debut album, 'A Light For Attracting Attention', on 13 May. Here's new single 'Free In The Knowledge'.

Lykke Li has released new single 'Highway To Your Heart', from her upcoming new album 'Eyeye', which is out on 20 May.

Editors have released new single 'Heart Attack' - their first new music since 2019 and their first track with Benjamin John Power, aka Blanck Mass, as a full-time member of the band. Watch its AI-generated video here.

Sinead O'Brien is back with new single 'There Are Good Times Coming'. Her debut album, 'Time Bend and Break The Bower', is out on 10 Jun.

Caterina Barbieri will release her third album, 'Spirit Exit', on 8 Jul, for the first time adding strings, guitar and voice to her modular synth sound. The first single is 'Broken Melody', which she describes as "a love song to the end of the world, a form of telepathy".

Sister Cookie has released new single 'It Don't Come Cheap'. "This is a song I wrote to address my own flaws", she says. "It basically says, come closer - at your own peril, but if you truly think you can handle it, don't say you weren't warned".



Kaytranada will play Brixton Academy on 19 Jun. Tickets go on sale tomorrow.

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


Tyga's MSCHF trainers prompt legal battle with Vans
Tyga has joined the exclusive club of rappers who have collaborated with MSCHF on trainers that resulted in legal action. Previously the only lonely occupant of this club was Lil Nas X.

MSCHF and Tyga put their limited edition Wavy Baby trainers - which appear as if they have been digitally warped - on sale on Monday via the MSCHF Sneakers website, reportedly seeing them sell out in just ten minutes.

The same day, MSCHF also filed its formal opposition to a legal request made last week by shoe maker Vans seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the Wavy Baby product, which - it reckons - infringes its trademarks.

In its filing last week, Vans claimed that the MSCHF shoes "blatantly and unmistakably incorporate Vans' iconic trademarks" and that MSCHF "shamelessly marketed the Wavy Baby shoe in a direct effort to confuse consumers".

MSCHF countered all that by claiming that this was a free speech issue, saying its shoes were making a comment about the industry in which Vans operates.

Citing its official description of the product, it said: "By 'smash[ing] the digital and the physical together in an object' [as it describes the shoe on its website], Wavy Baby inverts that retreat, translating virtual shoes back into physical goods, leaving behind a bizarre remnant that questions whether we can re-emerge from our digital lives - on social media, for example, where images and videos of Vans abound - without also being fundamentally warped".

Its shoe, MSCHF goes on, is an "'exaggerated shoe' that is wobbly in shape, unique in appearance, and not practical for everyday wear", while the "distinctive wavy shape" of its sole would make it unlikely that anyone would confuse its design with that of a Vans shoe.

In its spiel about the Wavy Baby shoes on its website, MSCHF said that this latest trainer-based project was specifically making a comment on the rampant design infringement that occurs in the sports shoe industry, explaining: "Sneaker companies are in a constant cycle of riffing on each other, and usually the innovations in form are boring".

"Standard shoe practice is: steal a sole, steal and upper, change a symbol", it went on. "What a boring use of cultural material. Wavy Baby is a complete distortion of an entire object that is itself a symbol".

So, that perhaps makes Vans' legal action a little ironic. Plus, of course, all of this controversy helps to bolster MSCHF's mischievous brand, which is perhaps what it was hoping for all along.

This new legal battle is somewhat reminiscent of that which came off the back of its Satan Shoes collaboration with Lil Nas X last year, which mainly earned both the rapper and MSCHF a lot of free publicity. And, in the case of Lil Nas himself, provided an entire marketing concept for his next single release.

In that case, MSCHF was actually selling pairs of Nike Air Max 97 trainers with a little alteration. Limited to 666 pairs, the air soles of the shoes were filled with red ink and (MSCHF claimed) one drop of human blood. A pentagram was also hung off the laces.

Nike didn't take kindly to this, complaining in a legal filing that the sale of the shoes was likely to cause confusion, and that - by modifying its product - MSCHF was potentially putting wearers at risk of injury. Also, it was worried that people would think that Nike had endorsed the product and was therefore super into Satanism.

In a settlement a month later, MSCHF agreed to recall all of the Satan Shoes and the similar Jesus Shoes it had sold two years earlier, refunding their purchasers. It's unclear if anyone actually sent theirs back, but both sides said they were happy with that deal.

It seems likely that the legal battle with Vans will also end in some sort of - possibly equally toothless - settlement, with the ultimate winners being MSCHF and Tyga. Oh, and the lawyers. Always the lawyers.

You can see Tyga showing off his shoes here.


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. (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited. (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY. or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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