FRIDAY 10 JUNE 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: 300 Entertainment CEO Kevin Liles and Atlantic Records US COO Julie Greenwald are urging the American music community to sign a petition calling for states across the US to consider legal reforms like the ‘Rap On Trial’ bill currently being considered in New York State. The call comes as 300-allied artists Young Thug and Gunna face criminal charges in Georgia where prosecutors are relying on the rappers' creative output as evidence... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES 300 and Atlantic chiefs call for wider Rap On Trial legal reforms
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LEGAL Movie companies in US web-block case hit out at Cloudflare
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LIVE BUSINESS UK artists will no longer need a visa when touring in Greece
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ARTIST NEWS Tom Walker partners with Mind on mental health awareness events
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RELEASES Nina Nesbitt announces new album, tour dates
Kuedo announces new album

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ONE LINERS Kid Cudi, Kelly Clarkson, Pixies, more
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AND FINALLY... Grammys add five new awards categories, just like you wanted
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300 and Atlantic chiefs call for wider Rap On Trial legal reforms
300 Entertainment CEO Kevin Liles and Atlantic Records US COO Julie Greenwald are urging the American music community to sign a petition calling for states across the US to consider legal reforms like the 'Rap On Trial' bill currently being considered in New York State. The call comes as 300-allied artists Young Thug and Gunna face criminal charges in Georgia where prosecutors are relying on the rappers' creative output as evidence.

The legal reforms in New York are contained in Senate Bill S7527 and aim to ensure that where defendants in a criminal case also make music - and especially rap music - there are restrictions on presenting those defendants' lyrics as evidence. It was recently passed by the New York Senate and has now proceeded to the New York Assembly for consideration.

The bill itself describes its mission as follows: "The purpose of this legislation is to protect freedom of speech and artistic expression in New York State. This bill effectuates the enhanced free speech protections provided by the New York State Constitution, ensuring that criminal defendants are tried based upon evidence of criminal conduct, not the provocative nature of their artistic works and tastes".

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, Young Thug and Gunna were among 28 people arrested last month accused of involvement in a gang that allegedly committed murders, shootings and carjackings. Among other things, the accused face charges under the Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organisations Act, which seeks to fight organised crime across the US. Past lyrics from both rappers are included in the evidence produced against them by the prosecution.

Young Thug formed his label Young Stoner Life Records in partnership with 300 Entertainment and its distributor Atlantic Records back in 2016, with Gunna its first signing. In a letter to their contacts in the music community, Liles and Greenwald raise specific concerns about the prosecutions in Georgia and the use of lyrics by prosecutors, before adding that this is part of a wider problem of black creativity and artistry "being criminalised".

The letter begins: "Those of you who know us well know that we have a hard time seeing wrong done in front of our eyes and not doing something about it. That's why we've created a petition we would ask you to sign and share to help us protect black art".

Honing in on the Young Thug and Gunna arrests, they go on: "As you may know, currently in Georgia, multiple artists belonging to Young Stoner Life Records - including celebrated artists like Young Thug and Gunna - are facing more than 50 allegations, including RICO charges which claim the record label is a criminal gang. The allegations heavily rely on the artists' lyrics that prosecutors claim are 'overt evidence of conspiracy'".

"Weaponising creative expression against artists is obviously wrong", they add. "But what gets us so upset is what's happening to Young Thug, Gunna and YSL is just the most high-profile case. In courtrooms across America, black creativity and artistry is being criminalised. With increasing and troubling frequency, prosecutors are attempting to use rap lyrics as confessions, just like they're doing in this case".

"This practice isn't just a violation of First Amendment protections for speech and creative expression", they argue, "it punishes already marginalised communities and silences their stories of family, struggle, survival and triumph. It is a racially targeted attack, and this shameful and un-American practice must end".

Citing the proposed legal reforms in New York, they explain: "Others like our friends Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Reform Alliance and many more have been working on this issue for some time, and there's a bill recently passed by the New York State Senate - S.7527, better known as the 'Rap Music On Trial' Bill - that's now up for vote in the New York State Assembly. We need to step up, support these efforts, and get this bill across the finish line".

"We need to urge the prompt adoption of legislation at the federal and state level that would limit how prosecutors can use creative and artistic expression as evidence against defendants in criminal trials", they continue. "It's our hope that this legislation and similar bills will become law across America to end this attack on our First Amendment freedoms that disproportionately harms black and other minority artists".

Those who support Liles and Greenwald in this domain are encouraged to sign this petition.

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Movie companies in US web-block case hit out at Cloudflare
The group of Israeli movie and media companies that recently secured an injunction in the US ordering internet companies to block and/or cut off piracy sites Israel-tv.com, Israel.tv and Sdarot.tv have returned to court claiming that Cloudflare is not complying with that order.

The legal battle against Israel-tv.com, Israel.tv and Sdarot.tv was particularly interesting because - as well as finding those sites liable for copyright infringement - the judge overseeing the case also issued a very wide injunction seeking to block and cut off the three sites.

That included ordering internet service providers in the US to block their customers from accessing the three piracy services. Web-blocking orders of that kind on copyright grounds are now quite routine in some countries, but not the US, where the principle of web-blocking has proven controversial in the past.

So much so, the ruling in this case seemed to set something of a precedent in US law, suggesting web-blocking was now an anti-piracy tactic available to music, movie and media companies Stateside. Although, also interestingly, the movie and media companies in this case have so far not sought to enforce that part of the ruling, even asking the judge to stay the web-blocking order.

However, they are enforcing the elements of the ruling that ordered various internet companies to stop providing services to the three sites. And that includes Cloudflare, and entirely legitimate internet services business that has been frequently criticised by copyright owners for not doing enough to deal with copyright infringers among its customer base.

Although, in the main, while Cloudflare resists cutting off or penalising its customers on the say so of copyright owners, it does usually comply with any court orders secured by music, movie or media companies against copyright infringers that use its services.

However, claim these Israeli movie and media companies, that's not happening here. In a new legal filing this week, they say that a user linked to Israel.tv has had a Cloudflare account since 2016 and that account is still active despite the court order. The plaintiffs add that, since securing the injunction, they have sent emails to various Cloudflare email addresses that are meant to deal with abuse claims, all advising the internet firm of that injunction. But so far there has been no response.

Not only that, but "as recently as 22 May 2022, five additional domains associated with the infringing website were created and opened accounts with Cloudflare. Thus, despite being served with the order over a month ago, Cloudflare failed to comply therewith. Cloudflare is still providing services that enable defendants' infringing website to operate and permitted a user (or users) to establish at least five new accounts that configured the website to use Cloudflare's services through new domains".

With all that in mind, the plaintiffs want the court to hold Cloudflare in contempt, to direct it to comply with the order, and to to award the movie and media companies "attorneys' fees and costs of this motion in an amount to be determined" and "such other relief as the court deems just and reasonable".

We await to see how Cloudflare now responds.

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UK artists will no longer need a visa when touring in Greece
UK artists playing shows in Greece will no longer need to secure visas following an announcement from the country's government yesterday. It means one less bit of post-Brexit bureaucracy for British performers and crews to deal with when touring Europe, although plenty more paperwork still remains, of course.

The UK's post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union did not include any EU-wide provision ensuring visa free touring for British performers. As a result, touring artists and their crews now need to negotiate different rules in each EU country when it comes to visas and permits, as well as additional rules around carnets and so called cabotage.

When it comes to visas and permits, in many countries national rules mean there isn't actually any new paperwork to fill out if artists are just playing a few shows, but that isn't true everywhere. And Greece was one of the countries where visas were required once the UK was no longer in the EU. But Greek Deputy Minister Of Foreign Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, has announced that that will no longer be the case from next week.

The change to the rules - which is subject to review at the end of the year - comes after much liaison between Greek ministers and representatives of both the Greek and UK live industries, including members of the UK live sector trade group LIVE, like James Wright from United Talent Agency, Craig Stanley from Marshall Arts and Paul Fenn from The Entertainment Agents' Association.

LIVE CEO Jon Collins welcomed the announcement, although noted that other bureaucratic challenges remain for British artists touring Europe. He told reporters: "This is a huge victory for both artists and fans, representing a further step towards the frictionless touring ecosystem needed by the live music sector".

"The prohibitive costs and bureaucracy posed by visa regimes threaten the export and growth of budding talent from across the UK", he added, "and while issues such as cabotage and carnets remain, we will continue to work on behalf of the sector to resolve these alongside our international counterparts".

Meanwhile, Paul Fenn from The Entertainment Agents' Association added: "We're pleased to see that the diligent work of the LIVE Touring Group team coupled with the promoters in Greece quickly identified the problem that arose and managed to effectively target the lobbying in Athens to achieve a quick resolution".

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Playlist: Brand New On CMU
Every Friday we round up all the new music we've covered over the preceding week into a Spotify playlist. And this week has proven to be a bumper edition, with fresh tracks galore.

Among the artists with brand new music to check out his week are Nina Nesbitt, Kuedo, Kid Cudi, Pixies, Jimmy Eat World, Princess Nokia, Kind Princess, Inhaler, Flohio, Zara Larsson, Editors, Robbie Williams, William Orbit, Regina Spektor, Tim Burgess, Swae Lee & Diplo, James Bourne, Shygirl, Sinead O'Brien, George Ezra, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more.

Check out the whole playlist on Spotify here.

Tom Walker partners with Mind on mental health awareness events
Tom Walker has announced a new collaboration with mental health charity Mind to help raise awareness of the ongoing mental health crisis and direct people to support. The musician will host a number of events around the UK in the coming months.

An offshoot of Mind's 'Talking Benches' project, which will appear at various UK festivals this summer, the centrepiece of the Walker-hosted events will be a bench emblazoned with lyrics from his recent single 'Serotonin' - "can't wake up happy every day, can't have the sun without the rain".

Walker will perform some of his music on the bench and also record episodes of his 'Memories That Made Us' podcast with a range of guests. The bench will also feature a QR code that will direct people to Mind's information pages and its mental health support phoneline.

"It's an honour to collaborate with Mind and help support their vital work around mental health", says Walker. "I would encourage anyone who is struggling with a mental health problem to reach out to Mind. They are working to make sure that nobody has to face their problems alone. Getting the right support is crucial in the fight for mental health".

Jennifer Walter, Associate Director of External Relations at Mind, adds: "It's brilliant that Tom is joining forces with Mind and really getting behind our campaign. By using the power of music to highlight mental health, he is really opening the conversation and helping lots and lots of people in the process.

"The nation is facing a mental health crisis", she continues. "The number of young people with mental health problems has risen dramatically from one in nine to one in six; 1.6 million adults are on the waiting list for mental health treatment and a further eight million can't even get onto the waiting list. At Mind we're really determined to change the way people think and speak about mental health problems. We're encouraging as many people as possible to reach out for help and support".

The first events involving Walker will take place during the week commencing 20 Jun, with locations still to be announced.

Watch the video for 'Serotonin' here.

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Nina Nesbitt announces new album, tour dates
Nina Nesbitt will release her new album 'Älaskar' later this year, she has announced. New single 'Pressure Makes Diamonds' is out now, and she's got tour dates coming up too.

"Making this album was a completely different experience to anything I've made before", she says. "Although a lot of the music was created remotely, I feel that I've processed so much and learnt a lot about the relationships in my life during the last few years. I wanted to capture all types of love in their raw forms, whether it be romantic, heartbreak, friendship, coming of age, familial or self love".

"I wrote 'Pressure Makes Diamonds' about trying to navigate my way through the societal pressures I started to feel as a woman in my mid-20s", she adds.

The album is set for release on 2 Sep. Meanwhile, those tour dates will happen in November. These are them:

13 Nov: Leeds, Stylus
14 Nov: Brighton, Chalk
15 Nov: London, Electric Brixton
17 Nov: Bristol, Trinity Centre
18 Nov: Birmingham, Institute 2
20 Nov: Manchester, Ritz

Watch the video for 'Pressure Makes Diamonds' here.

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Kuedo announces new album
Kuedo will release new album 'Infinite Window' next month, with first single 'Sliding Through Our Fingers' out now.

"I'm split between thinking about what makes spacey synth driven music production work, what makes rap and UK jungle work, and what makes pop and R&B work", says the producer.

"I found myself turning more to what I just enjoy listening to, or to what's really endured through history, even if it's new to me. I realised that old music can speak to the current moment as well or better than new music. Particularly in terms of ecological, planetary anxieties, and hopes too".

"Almost a third of the album comes from rough sketches I had written for a previous Kuedo album that never was", he continues. "Turning these into finished tracks and assembling them into a unified album, into something that moved as one body… that was a complex experience. It felt like negotiating with previous versions of myself, down corridors of time".

"It was a little odd hearing a much younger me trying to get better at playing keys, and then having the me now playing alongside that. It felt like time-travelling. In that process, I probably made some peace with that earlier version of myself too, for not having the confidence to finish it at the time".

"I didn't have a conceptual conceit when I made the tracks or sequenced the album", he adds. "But whenever I needed an image to anchor or aim toward, the images that came were something about the world after all this, if we almost lost everything".

"Hot, dry landscapes, remnants of this time, the wonder of this current green world, our relation to future generations, the waves of time. When I was mixing it, I imagined it feeling weathered by time, or out of place in time, like something crash landed, or excavated, half buried in the sand".

Of the new single, he goes on: "The music gives me a feeling of how time slides past us, how we try to hold it. I thought of sand sliding through open fingers. And how time is such a blurry moving stream, like we dream of our future lives, that open horizon turns into memories, how the current time keeps recalling the past to us. How we just sail through time, no matter how we feel about that".

Listen to 'Sliding Through Our Fingers' here.

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DEALS

Warner Chappell and comedian Kevin Hart's media company Hartbeat have signed a deal that will see the former administer the latter's music publishing rights. "Hartbeat is THRILLED to partner with leading global publisher Warner Chappell Music to develop and build out a first-of-its-kind Hartbeat music library", says the media firm's President Jeff Clanagan. "This partnership marks a pivotal moment for Hartbeat as the company looks to build out its own music publishing arm as a part of our larger brand IP".

Photo Finish Records has signed singer-songwriter Billy Lockett to a new record deal, ahead of the release of his debut album. "I'm so proud to have signed a new record deal with a team of people who genuinely understand me and my music", says Lockett. "I remember when we first met on Zoom. We were chatting about the new album and through the whole conversation my gut was screaming 'SIGN WITH PHOTO FINISH! THEY'RE THE ONES!' So it became one of the easiest decisions I've ever made".

Warner Chappell has signed a global publishing deal with Spanish singer Quevedo. "Signing with the Warner Chappell team is massive because I know they'll be able to help take my work to the global stage", he says. "I can't wait to get working alongside the best songwriters in the world and make big waves across the Spanish and Latin America scene".

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APPOINTMENTS

The UK wing of booking agency Wasserman Music has promoted Laura Brown, Cecilia Chan, Suzie Melki, Lucy Putman and Holly Rowland up to the role of agent. "We are THRILLED to announce the promotions of Laura, Suzie, Cecilia, Holly and Lucy", says the company's James Whitting. "They have all been with us for a number of years and worked across the likes of Slowthai, Easy Life, Kaytranada, Louis Tomlinson and Billie Eilish, and we couldn't be happier for them for this next stage in their careers".

Pulse Music Group has promoted Ashley Calhoun to President. "I want to thank [co-CEOs Scott Cutler and Josh Abraham] for giving me the opportunity to lead the Pulse A&R team in the years ahead. It's an incredible honour to work with the best of the best".

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RELEASES

Kid Cudi has released new single 'Do What I Want'. The track is taken from the rapper's upcoming Netflix project 'Entergalactic'.

Kelly Clarkson has released new covers EP 'Kellyoke'. Here's her version of Whitney Houston's 'Queen Of The Night'.

Pixies will release new album 'Doggerel' on 30 Sep. "This time around we have grown", says guitarist Joey Santiago of the album. "We no longer have under two-minute songs. We have little breaks, more conventional arrangements but still our twists in there". Here's first single 'There's A Moon On'.

Jimmy Eat World have released something loud. Actually, it's not that loud, but it is called 'Something Loud'. Here it is. The band have also announced a headline show at Brixton Academy in London on 8 Jul.

Five Finger Death Punch have released new single 'Welcome to The Circus'. Their new album 'Afterlife' is out on 19 Aug.

Princess Nokia is back with new single 'Diva'.

King Princess has released two new songs, 'Too Bad' and 'Cursed'. Her second album, 'Hold On Baby', will be out on 29 Jul.

Inhaler have released new single 'These Are The Days'.

Metric have released another new track, 'What Feels Like Eternity'. Their new album, 'Formentera', is out on 8 Jul.

Jesca Hoop has released new single 'Hatred Has A Mother'. Her new album, 'Order Of Romance', is out on 16 Sep.

Odesza have released new single 'Wide Awake' featuring Charlie Houston. "What we like about 'Wide Awake' is it feels like it encapsulates a lot of things we enjoy into one track", say the duo. "Lots of percussive elements wrapped in emotive chords, with swirling distorted synths and leads, all centred around Charlie's incredible vocal. It's one of our favourites from the record and something we come back to a lot". What record's that? Well, Odesza's new album, 'The Last Goodbye', which is out on 22 Jul.

Soccer Mommy has released new track 'Newdemo', taken from her new album 'Sometimes, Forever', which is out on 24 Jun.

Soulfly have released new single 'Scouring The Vile', featuring John Tardy of Obituary. The band's new album, 'Totem', is out on 5 Aug.

Flohio is back with new single 'Cuddy Buddy'. "Have you ever been at a point where you feel your energy being drained, because that was me", she says. "I was at a stage where I felt my energy being drained and 'Cuddy Buddy' was me expressing how mentally tired I was. We captured the hook on the first day, but the verses I wanted it to be impactful so I kept coming back to it months after".

On Man has released new single 'Worse Than It Seems', featuring Tailor. The track, he says, is "about getting to a certain point in a relationship and assessing everything in the hope that it'll be OK, but sometimes it's even worse than it seems. Which sounds kind of bleak but ultimately the song is about hope - that driving force that can drag you through the hardest of times".

Flying Moon In Space have released new single 'Traum Für Alle'. Their new album, 'Zwei', is out on 24 Jun.

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GIGS & TOURS

Pip Millett has announced UK tour dates in October and November, including Shepherds Bush Empire in London on 8 Nov. Tickets are on sale now.

Cancer Bats will be in the UK for tour dates in September, including two London shows at The Dome and New Cross Inn.

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

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Grammys add five new awards categories, just like you wanted
What's the one thing that the Grammy Awards need more of? That's right... awards. I mean, last year at the US music industry's big back-slapping bash there were only 91 awards presented. That's almost none. We should definitely have five more.

Now, not every one of those awards is handed out at the main Grammy ceremony, because there'd be rioting if everyone had to sit through all that. But the other awards are still there. Because, you know, it's really important that we know what the Best Regional Roots Music Album is each year.

That's not one of the new ones, by the way. That's been around for a decade. The things it's now been decided that there need to be awards for are: Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical; Best Alternative Music Performance; Best Americana Performance; Best Score Soundtrack For Video Games And Other Interactive Media; and Best Spoken Word Poetry Album.

There's one more new award, actually, even though I said there's only five. But this is a so called 'special merit' award, which means it's different and there's no shortlist. And this new gong will go by the name of Best Song For Social Change.

Is that it for the latest Grammy reforms? No. Oh god, no. A category has been renamed too. You've got to keep it fresh and relevant. Otherwise, what's the point? I mean, it's 2022, people. And it will be 2023 by the time the next set of Grammy Awards are actually given out. Are we really still going to presenting an award called Best New Age Album by 2023? Are you ill? Of course not! Obviously it should now be known as the Best New Age, Ambient Or Chant Album.

Some of the criteria for various other awards have also been updated in these latest reforms, but instead of writing about them I'm just going to type the word 'cat' 43 times.

Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat.

There, I think we can all agree that that was absolutely necessary. Anyway, I'm sure Harvey Mason Jr - CEO of Grammy overseer The Recording Academy - has something to say about all of this. Except maybe the cat bit.

"We're so excited to honour these diverse communities of music creators through the newly established awards and amendments, and to continue cultivating an environment that inspires change, progress and collaboration", he says. "The Academy's top priority is to effectively represent the music people that we serve, and each year that entails listening to our members and ensuring our rules and guidelines reflect our ever-evolving industry".

Yep, that's what he had to say about it. Under the revised system, all Recording Academy members get five free entries for the Grammys each year - with fees to pay for any entries beyond that. A big bag of Haribo to anyone who can record an album that allows them to enter all five of the new ones.

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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.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (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.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (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.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk 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.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
CMU helps people to navigate and understand the music business.

We do this through our media, our training and our research, and at a range of music industry events.

CMU Daily covers all the latest news and developments direct by email.

Setlist is a weekly podcast dissecting the biggest music business stories.

CMU Premium gives you access to the CMU Digest and CMU Trends.

CMU Insights is our music business consultancy: supporting the industry.

CMU:DIY is our future talent programme: supporting new music talent.

Pathways Into Music is our foundation supporting music educators.



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