|TUESDAY 14 JUNE 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify yesterday announced the launch of a new Safety Advisory Council, the streaming firm's latest attempt to overcome criticism regarding how it handles misleading and offensive content that is available on the platform. The Council of third party experts will, the company says, "help Spotify evolve its policies and products in a safe way while making sure we respect creator expression"... [READ MORE]|
Following the Joe Rogan-caused boycott, Spotify launches Safety Advisory Council
How social media and user-upload platforms handle so called harmful content - which can be content that is offensive, unlawful, abusive or misleading - has been a big talking point for years now, of course, with law-makers actively considering proposals to formally increase the responsibilities of digital platforms in this domain in multiple jurisdictions. The constant challenge is how to protect users from such harmful content while also respecting the free speech rights of creators.
Spotify was generally on the periphery of that debate until recently, it not technically being a social media or user-upload platform, even though pretty much anyone can push music or podcast content into its library. There was a little controversy in 2018 when Spotify introduced new policies regarding music that was considered hateful - or which was made by musicians accused of hateful conduct - but that debate fizzled out quite quickly.
But then, of course, Spotify's policies for dealing with problematic content became front page news in January thanks to Neil Young's big boycott in protest over the 'Joe Rogan Experience' podcast, and specifically various guests who had featured on the programme who expressed controversial views regarding COVID-19 and ongoing efforts to combat the virus, controversial views that went against the scientific consensus but which were rarely challenged by Rogan.
Young's boycott - which saw much of his music removed from Spotify - was prompted by an open letter signed by more than 250 scientists and medics that said that Rogan had "a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic". And, they added, Spotify should be acting to stop the distribution of such misinformation, especially via a podcast to which has the exclusive rights.
With Young's boycott becoming such a big news story, Rogan was forced to apologise for not researching his controversial guests better so that he could challenge their more controversial opinions. Meanwhile Spotify boss Daniel Ek published a blog post insisting that his company did have policies in place to deal with harmful content, but - he conceded - it needed to be much more transparent regarding what those policies were.
To that end Spotify published its platform rules, plus Ek promised to follow the lead of other digital companies in signposting resources that explain the scientific consensus on COVID matters whenever the coronavirus was discussed on podcasts available on the platform.
Although when India Arie joined the Spotify boycott, mainly because of Rogan's past use of racist language, it became clear that some specific measures to deal with COVID misinformation were not going to be enough to address the concerns of the company's critics.
The launch of the Safety Advisory Council is therefore part of ongoing efforts to better deal with harmful content - and, crucially, to be seen to better deal with harmful content. Spotify says that it has consulted many of the third party experts on the Council before, but by creating the Council that expertise will now be accessed more regularly, more formally and more visibly.
Those experts are, Spotify adds, "individuals and organisations around the world with deep expertise in areas that are key to navigating the online safety space. At a high level, the Council's mission is to help Spotify evolve its policies and products in a safe way while making sure we respect creator expression".
Although similar to things like the Facebook Oversight Board, the new Spotify Safety Advisory Council won't be quite as hands-on or powerful, it providing, well, advice rather than oversight.
Spotify goes on: "Our Council members will advise our teams in key areas like policy and safety-feature development as well as guide our approach to equity, impact and academic research. Council members will not make enforcement decisions about specific content or creators. However, their feedback will inform how we shape our high-level policies and the internal processes our teams follow to ensure that policies are applied consistently and at scale around the world".
"While Spotify has been seeking feedback from many of these founding members for years", it continues, "we're excited to further expand and be more transparent about our safety partnerships. As our product continues to grow and evolve, Council membership will grow and evolve along with it. In the months ahead, we will work closely with founding members to expand the Council, with the goal of broadening regional and linguistic representation as well as adding additional experts in the equity and impact space".
Although clearly in part a response to the Rogan controversy, Spotify's Head Of Trust And Safety Sarah Hoyle insisted to Reuters that the Council was not formed in reaction to "any particular creator or situation", but was a recognition of the challenges faced by any digital platform where pretty much anyone can post content.
Meanwhile, the streaming firm's Global Head Of Public Affairs Dustee Jenkins added: "The idea is to bring in these world-renowned experts, many of whom have been in this space for a number of years, to realise a relationship with them. And to ensure that it's not talking to them when we're in the middle of a situation ... instead, we're meeting with them on a pretty regular basis, so that we can be much more proactive about how we're thinking about these issues across the company".
At launch the Council consists of the following people: Professor Danielle Citron, Dr Mary Anne Franks, Alex Holmes, Dr Jonas Kaiser, Dr Ronaldo Lemos, Dr Christer Mattsson, Dr Tanu Mitra, Desmond Upton Patton and Megan Phelps-Roper, plus Professor Susan Benesch and Tonei Glavinic representing the Dangerous Speech Project; Henry Tuck and Milo Comerford representing the Institute For Strategic Dialogue; Mark Little and Áine Kerr representing Kinzen; Emma Llansó representing the Center For Democracy and Technology; and Dr Katherine Pieper and Dr Stacy L Smith representing the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Plus Professor Susan Benesch and Tonei Glavinic representing the Dangerous Speech Project; Henry Tuck and Milo Comerford representing the Institute For Strategic Dialogue; Mark Little and Áine Kerr representing Kinzen; Emma Llansó representing the Center For Democracy And Technology; and Dr Katherine Pieper and Dr Stacy L Smith representing the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Jay-Z and Damon Dash settle dispute over Reasonable Doubt NFT sale
Jay-Z went legal a year ago after rights connected with his 'Reasonable Doubt' album were included in an NFT sale announced by Dash. The lawsuit argued that while Dash was a shareholder in Roc-A-Fella, that didn't mean he could sell all or even a slice of the company's only real remaining asset, that being the 'Reasonable Doubt' recording rights.
The lawsuit stated: "Dash can't sell what he doesn't own. By attempting such a sale, Dash has converted a corporate asset and has breached his fiduciary duties. The court should stop Dash ... and hold him accountable for his brazen theft".
The court did indeed stop Dash from going ahead with the NFT sale by quickly issuing an injunction to that effect, while the wider legal dispute in relation to Jay-Z's attempts to hold his former business partner "accountable for his brazen theft" continued. For his part, Dash countersued accusing Jay-Z of transferring the streaming rights in 'Reasonable Doubt' to his company S Carter Enterprises LLC without the approval of the other Roc-A-Fella shareholders.
So that was all good fun. But no more, because according to papers filed with the courts yesterday, all of this has now been resolved. Both sides have agreed that "Roc-A-Fella Inc owns all rights to the album 'Reasonable Doubt' including its copyright. No shareholder or member of Roc-A-Fella Inc holds a direct ownership interest in 'Reasonable Doubt'".
The deal does also state, however, that while Dash cannot sell some or all of the 'Reasonable Doubt' rights, he can sell his third of the Roc-A-Fella company. So, good to have that all cleared up.
Although given that Dash told TMZ, shortly after Jay-Z's original lawsuit was filed, that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding and that he'd actually been trying to sell his stake in the Roc-A-Fella company as an NFT, not his stake in the 'Reasonable Doubt' rights, I don't know why the clear up has taken a whole year.
Rob Da Bank wins legal battle over Bestival loan
The Bestival company - which promoted both Bestival and its sister event Camp Bestival - went into administration in 2018 after facing various financial challenges in the preceding years.
It was actually forced into administration by a money-lender, which for a short time looked like it might take over the Bestival brand from da Bank - real name Robert Gorham - despite the festival being very closely linked to its co-founders, Gorham and his wife Josie.
However, in the end the Gorhams teamed up with Live Nation and SJM to buy the Bestival brand from that money-lender, albeit in order to continue staging the more family orientated Camp Bestival, rather than Bestival itself.
As it went into administration, the Bestival company also owed money to Ticketline, which had advanced a million pounds to the festival business via two payments between 2016 and 2018. With no company left to go after, the ticketing firm sought to recover the £650,000 it was still owed directly from Gorham and his fellow Bestival director John Hughes.
It did so based on the argument that, aware of the Bestival company's financial problems, when it advanced cash to the festival it did so on the condition that Gorham and Hughes would personally guarantee the loan. But Gorham insisted he had never agreed to personally guarantee any advanced monies. Which is why Ticketline went legal.
In court last month, Ticketline claimed that it was clearly stated when it advanced Bestival its monies between 2016 and 2018 that Gorham and Hughes were personally liable for the debt.
But Gorham argued that he was not hands-on involved in the finances of the Bestival events - being focused on the creative and consumer-facing side of the business - so was not part of the negotiations with the ticketing company. And more importantly, he stressed in court: "I never signed up for a personal loan".
Having heard both side's arguments, the court ruled on Friday that Gorham was right, he hadn't agreed to take on any personal liabilities in relation to monies being advanced to the Bestival company.
Welcoming that ruling, Gorham stated: "Josie and I are so happy and relieved [that] truth and justice have prevailed, and that four years of exhausting legal proceedings are behind us. We are so grateful to our incredibly loyal friends and families for keeping us going - and to our legal team of Russell, Sara and Jonathan, for proving our innocence beyond any doubt".
"We are now looking forward to getting back to what matters most to us", he added, "our kids and families, messing about with mates in fields and festivals, and launching our brand new Camp Bestival festival in August".
Universal announces Songclip deal
Songclip - which previously announced a strategic partnership with Warner Music (it was also multi-year, global and super fun) - aims to help companies making non-music apps that nevertheless use music to access the musical tracks and/or clips they need more easily, without having to go about the major task of directly licensing songs and recordings from the music industry.
This is good for the music industry, because removing all that hassle means more apps making use of more music and paying royalties for the privilege.
And if you don't believe me, here's Songclip co-CEO Andy Blacker saying just that, but in a more confusing way: "Clips are a foundational asset class that drive multiple new revenue streams for artists and their music. We built Songclip to allow for accountable partnerships between apps and the music industry, with a key mission of empowering social consumption and discovery".
Confirming the new deal with Songclip - which covers both recording and song rights - Universal's EVP Digital Strategy Michael Nash says: "As industry leaders in forging digital ecosystem partnerships, we are always looking for innovative ways to engage audiences, creators and services across consumer apps and social platforms. Our ongoing, elevated relationship with Songclip allows us to extend our reach in the digital ecosystem, with proper management and monetisation for the intellectual property of our artists' music".
OfCom says Bauer radio stations breached rules with two fucks
Absolute Radio was criticised by the regulator for airing a pre-recorded edition of Jason Manford's Sunday morning show in January in which he and guest Steve Edge discussed a listener's new year's resolution to swear more. Edge remarked: "I'm not swearing enough. So, next year, I'm really going to fucking go for it".
The fact that the show was pre-recorded arguably makes the rule-breaking inclusion of the f-word even less excusable, although - said Bauer in its response to OfCom after a listener complained - it was also the reason why the mistake was made. Different edits of the programme are produced, with one being broadcast and the other put out as a podcast, and the wrong version was aired by mistake.
But hang on one fucking moment, does that mean it's fine to say "fuck" on a podcast? Fuck no. The podcast version was meant to have the swear word bleeped out while the broadcast version was meant to have the exchange cut entirely. However, the unedited recording was then aired. "We're really fucking sorry", the broadcaster told OfCom. Maybe.
The rule-breaking swear on Greatest Hits Radio came in a live version of the Genesis song 'Invisible Touch' which was broadcast on Boxing Day last year. The fact that the live version contained a "fuck" hadn't been picked up by the station's content checking processes, it explained, because it was "barely audible".
Though clearly audible enough for the complainer. "For fucks sake, who the fuck is listening that closely on Boxing Day?" Bauer definitely did not say in its response to the OfCom swear police.
Lizzo changes offensive line in new single following backlash
Apparently unaware of the negative connotations of the word, Lizzo last night confirmed that she had re-recorded the line in the song that included it and had not intended to "promote derogatory language".
"Hold my bag, bitch, hold my bag / Do you see this shit? I'ma spaz", sang Lizzo in the opening line of the original version of the song, released on Friday. Defending Lizzo, some fans argued that the word no longer has ableist connotations, and rather means "go crazy" or "freak out" - terms that have their own issues.
People with cerebral palsy countered that it's not for non-disabled Lizzo fans to tell them what they should or shouldn't be offended by.
"Hey @lizzo, my disability Cerebral Palsy is literally classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in my legs), your new song makes me pretty angry and sad", wrote disability advocate Hannah Diviney on Twitter. "'Spaz' doesn't mean freaked out or crazy. It's an ableist slur. It's 2022. Do better".
Many other people pointed out at that, as an artist who speaks often about diversity and inclusivity, it's odd that Lizzo would include that word in one of her songs. And also that no one else involved in the process of writing, recording and releasing it picked it up.
In a post on social media last night announcing the lyric change, Lizzo wrote: "It's been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song 'Grrrls'. Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I've had many hurtful words used against me, so l overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally)".
"I'm proud to say there's a new version of 'Grrrls' with a lyric change", she went on. "This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I'm dedicated to being part of the change I've been waiting to see in the world".
The song now begins "Hold my bag, bitch, hold my bag / Do you see this shit? Hold me back" over a sample of 'Girls' by Beastie Boys that runs through the track.
Lizzo is set to release her new album 'Special' on 15 Jul. You can hear 'Grrrls' here.
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
YouTube has added specific resources aimed at songwriters, studio producers and music publishers on its YouTube For Artists website. The new resources were announced in a tweet yesterday that said: "Looking for tips on how to level up your YouTube presence? Check out the newly revamped artists.youtube site and the brand new resources for songwriters and producers available on songwriters.youtube".
EDUCATION & EVENTS
The UK's Music Managers Forum will hold it's AGM at the Curzon Soho Cinema in London next Monday, 20 Jun, with Dre London - best known for managing Post Malone - giving a keynote interview. There will also be a presentation on the trade body's recently published 'Song Royalties Manifesto'.
Mark Owen has released new single 'Are You Looking For Billy?' I am not, but perhaps you are.
Unknown T has released new freestyle 'Who Says Drill's Dead?' I don't know. Was it Billy? Maybe that's why people are looking for him.
Toddla T and Runkus have released big chune 'Big Chune'.
Scorcher has released new track 'Ops', featuring Tion Wayne.
Skripture has released new track 'Who Don't Love Me', from his upcoming EP 'One Accord'.
Dora has released new Pional produced new single 'Te Vas'.
Surfbort have released new single 'Cheap Glue'.
Petrol Girls are back with new single 'Preachers'. "Lyrically, 'Preachers' is my way of kicking back at this preachy, saintly, holier-than-thou vibe you get sometimes in radical left communities", says vocalist Ren Aldridge.
Rachael Dadd has released new single 'Moon Sails'. Her new album, 'Kaleidoscope', is out on 14 Oct.
Moreish Idols have released new single 'Hangar', and announced that they will release new EP 'Float' on 12 Aug.
GIGS & TOURS
Maisie Peters has announced that she will play Brixton Academy on 23 Apr 2023. Bloody ages away. Tickets go on general sale on Friday. Don't buy one and then forget about it.
Sam Ryder has announced a whole 2023 UK tour, set to take place in March and April. It'll include shows at the Manchester Academy and London's Hammersmith Apollo. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Joan As Police Woman has announced UK tour dates over the summer, kicking off with a performance at Alexandra Palace Theatre in London on 15 Jun. Tickets are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Elvis Costello rejects Rod Stewart's feud attempt
It all began when The Mirror reported that Costello had "blasted" the recent concert held to celebrate the Queen's platinum jubilee and "ranted" about Rod Stewart's performance of 'Sweet Caroline' during that show.
In fact, Costello's remarks read more like some jokes he had made on stage at a live show, but you can read them as a rant if you like. "The [jubilee] show was good, wasn't it?", he reportedly asked an audience in Glasgow last week. "Wasn't it? No, it was shite".
"I mean, I know you all love him and he's one of yours and everything, but Rod - what the fuck?" he went on. "I must say, listen, we all have bad nights vocally, but for fuck's sake, 'Sweet fucking Caroline'. Are you fucking kidding me? I mean I've been in showbusiness 45 years so I do know a thing or two. How is it that nobody suggested Rod sing 'You Wear It Well'?"
Stewart did say on stage at the concert that the BBC had forced him to include a rendition of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' as part of his set, it having been picked - for some weird reason - as the song the British public should singalong to during the jubilee festivities, based on listener input on the Radio 2 breakfast show.
The live audience seemed to enjoy Stewart leading them in such a sing song during the jubilee concert, though his performance of the song was widely panned by those watching on TV.
The musician did also reveal on stage that he'd just recovered from COVID too, something he also pointed out when he took Costello to task on Twitter the day after the Mirror article appeared.
"Dear Elvis, yes my voice was rough cos of COVID", he wrote. "I apologise, I thought it better it to make an appearance rather than let everyone down so sorry. By the way where's your hair gone, mate?"
Costello is bald now, see? Anyway, there are no hard feelings. Costello replied, saying: "You know I love you. Think the Queen would have loved 'You Wear It Well' or even 'Hot Legs'. As to gigs, I had a stinker the other night in Liverpool. They come and go, like hair, which I keep sewn in my hat".
Elsewhere, he referred to the article that prompted all this as "typical Mirror shite", saying: "If you read my actual remark, it's about the wrong-headed idea of asking Sir Rod pass up 'You Wear It Well' to lead a fucking singalong".
Stewart hasn't actually responded to Costello's clarifications, but I think we can now consider the matter closed... if we can all just agree that there should never ever be another jubilee concert ever again.