THURSDAY 30 JUNE 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: R Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty in the New York courts last year of establishing and running a criminal enterprise in order to sexually and physically abuse women and teenagers... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES R Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison
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LEGAL FCC Commissioner calls on Apple and Google to block TikTok
SoundExchange sues Slacker

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DEALS Ciara signs to Republic
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LIVE BUSINESS SXSW announces inaugural Sydney edition of showcase festival
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RELEASES Sampa The Great announces Zamrock-inspired new album
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ONE LINERS Jason Derulo, Pusha T, Mabel, more
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AND FINALLY... Radio station staff play Rage Against The Machine on a loop for twelve hours
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R Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison
R Kelly has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty in the New York courts last year of establishing and running a criminal enterprise in order to sexually and physically abuse women and teenagers.

The musician continues to deny all the allegations that have been made against him, both during the criminal case in New York and elsewhere. Meanwhile, during the sentencing proceedings, his legal team pushed for a more lenient sentence of no more than ten years, arguing that Kelly had been abused as a child, and that that abuse may have led to his "hypersexuality" as an adult. The defence lawyers also insisted that their client no longer posed a risk to the public.

However, judge Ann Donnelly was not persuaded by those arguments. She said that Kelly had demonstrated an "indifference to human suffering" and that he had taught his numerous victims that "love is enslavement and violence".

Ahead of Kelly's sentencing, the judge heard impact statements from seven of those victims. One, named as Angela, addressed the musician in court, saying: "With every addition of a new victim you grew in wickedness, cockiness, diminishing any form of humanity or self-awareness, which soon became the breeding ground for your God-like complex. You were doing, saying and encouraging despicable things that no one should be doing. We reclaim our names from beneath the shadows of your afflicted trauma".

After Donnelly had confirmed Kelly's three decade sentence, the same victim told reporters: "I started this journey 30 years ago, I was fourteen years old when I encountered Robert Sylvester Kelly. There wasn't a day in my life up until this moment that I actually believed that the judicial system would come through for black and brown girls".

"I stand here very proud of my judicial system, very proud of my fellow survivors and very pleased with the outcome", she added. "Thirty years [is how long] that he did this and 30 years is what he got".

Another of the musician's victims, Lizzette Martinez, said: "Today was a very special but hard day for us. This happened to me a very long time ago, I was seventeen then and I am 45 today. I never thought I'd see him be held accountable, the atrocious things he did to children".

"I don't know what else to say, except that I'm grateful", she went on. "I am grateful that Robert Sylvester Kelly is away and will stay away and will not be able to harm anyone else".

Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District Of New York, and Steve K Francis, Acting Executive Associate Director at Homeland Security Investigations, also issued a statement welcoming the sentencing.

Peace wrote: "R Kelly used his fame, fortune and enablers to prey on the young, the vulnerable and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification, while many turned a blind eye. Through his actions, Kelly exhibited a callous disregard for the devastation his crimes had on his victims and has shown no remorse for his conduct".

"With today's sentence he has finally and appropriately been held accountable for his decades of abuse, exploitation and degradation of teenagers and other vulnerable young people", he added. "We hope that today's sentence brings some measure of comfort and closure to the victims, including those who bravely testified at trial, and serves as long overdue recognition that their voices deserve to be heard and their lives matter".

Meanwhile, Francis stated: "Robert Kelly is a prolific serial predator who utilised his wealth and fame to prey on the young and vulnerable by dangling promises of fame, fortune and stardom for his own sexual gratification. For nearly 30 years, Kelly and his accomplices silenced his victims through bribery, intimidation, blackmail and physical violence, confident they were immune to justice".

"Today's sentence is a victory which belongs to the survivors of Kelly's abuse", he added. "These brave women and men came forward, despite threats to their own personal safety, and were forced to relive the pain of the most traumatic days of their lives to tell the truth and make their voices heard".

Allegations of abuse were made against Kelly for decades, of course, though the first time that led to criminal charges in the 2000s he was acquitted. Things escalated following the airing in 2019 of the programme 'Surviving R Kelly', which resulted in the star being charged in multiple US states. At last year's trial in New York a number of his victims gave harrowing testimonies of the abuse they had suffered while living or touring with the musician.

The musician didn't testify during last year's trial and didn't speaking during yesterday sentencing either. However, his lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said her client was "devastated" by the length of the jail term. He will now appeal the sentence, in addition to appealing last year's guilty verdict.

Because there were charges in multiple states, the legal case against Kelly also continues elsewhere in the US, and he faces a trial in his home city of Chicago in August.

While it's hoped yesterday's sentencing will bring some closure to some of Kelly's victims, with the Chicago trial upcoming and the appeals in New York underway, it seems his crimes will remain in the spotlight for sometime yet.

And arguably a key aspect of this whole saga that has so far not been subject to so much scrutiny is the extent to which those working with Kelly in the music industry were aware of his criminal conduct, and why they continued do work with him until the mid-2010s.

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FCC Commissioner calls on Apple and Google to block TikTok
One of the commissioners at US media regulator the Federal Communications Commission has raised new concerns about the Chinese government having access to user data on the China-owned TikTok platform, calling on Apple and Google to remove the TikTok app from their respective app stores.

Back in 2020, then US President Donald Trump sought to ban the use of TikTok within America, citing the same concerns as those expressed in FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr's new letter.

Although some saw Trump's TikTok ban as simply part of his pre-election anti-China rhetoric, similar concerns had been expressed by both Democrat and Republican politicians. Nevertheless, once elected, Joe Biden called off the ban. However, he insisted that the US government would still investigate all the concerns raised about TikTok "through rigorous, evidence-based analysis" and would "address any unacceptable or undue risk".

Trump's ban had already been subject to legal challenges, with lawyers arguing that the President didn't have to power to instigate such a ban via an executive order. Meanwhile, TikTok owner Bytedance sought to allay the US government's fears by insisting data linked to American users was not stored in China. It also dabbled with selling its US-based business - or at least bringing in US-based co-owners, in particular Oracle, who would provide assurances to concerned politicians.

Carr - who was appointed to the committee of FCC commissioners by Trump in 2017 - was prompted to write to Apple and Google about TikTok following a new report by BuzzFeed which alleges that Bytedance bosses in China do have access to US user data.

Outlining the key allegations in that report, Carr writes in his letter: "Through leaked audio recordings, last week's BuzzFeed News report revealed that ByteDance officials in Beijing have repeatedly accessed the sensitive data that TikTok has collected from Americans after those US users downloaded the app through your app stores. 'Everything is seen in China', a TikTok official said in the recordings, despite the fact that TikTok has repeatedly represented that the data it gathers about Americans is stored in the United States".

Carr also notes but dismisses TikTok's most recent statement regarding the storage of US user data.

"TikTok's recent statement that it is moving US user data to Oracle servers located in the US does not address the concerns raised here", he says. "TikTok has long claimed that its US user data has been stored on servers in the US and yet those representations provided no protection against the data being accessed from Beijing. Indeed, TikTok's statement that '100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle' says nothing about where that data can be accessed from".

The letter also lists various companies and government agencies that have sought to restrict the use of TikTok by their employees over data concerns.

Then ramping up the drama somewhat, Carr says: "TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That's the sheep's clothing. At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data. Indeed, TikTok collects everything from search and browsing histories to keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers, including faceprints - which researchers have said might be used in unrelated facial recognition technology - and voiceprints".

"It collects location data as well as draft messages and metadata, plus it has collected the text, images, and videos that are stored on a device's clipboard", he goes on. "The list of personal and sensitive data it collects goes on from there. This should come as no surprise, however. Within its own borders, the People's Republic Of China has developed some of the most invasive and omnipresent surveillance capabilities in the world to maintain authoritarian control".

Addressing Apple boss Tim Cook and Google chief Sundar Pichai, Carr says: "I am writing the two of you because Apple and Google hold themselves out as operating app stores that are safe and trusted places to discover and download apps ... It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing's apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data ... Therefore, I am requesting that you apply the plain text of your app store policies to TikTok and remove it from your app stores for failure to abide by those terms".

Although it hasn't responded directly to Carr's letter, TikTok has issued a statement regarding the allegations in the BuzzFeed report.

It said: "We will gladly engage with lawmakers to set the record straight regarding BuzzFeed's misleading reporting. Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world. We employ access controls like encryption and security monitoring to secure user data, and the access approval process is overseen by our US-based security team".

"TikTok has consistently maintained that our engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, can be granted access to US user data on an as-needed basis under those strict controls", the firm's spokesperson continued. "Recent reporting by BuzzFeed shows that TikTok is doing exactly what it said it would: addressing concerns around access to US user data by employees outside the US".

"We've been clear and vocal about our work in this area as we seek to address both location and access to data", they concluded. "We're pleased that we now route 100% of US user traffic to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and we are continuing to work on additional safeguards on US data for improved peace of mind for our community".

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SoundExchange sues Slacker
US record industry collecting society SoundExchange has sued personalised radio service Slacker and its parent company LiveOne over allegedly unpaid royalties.

Personalised radio services like those operated by Slacker - so limited functionality streaming - can access recordings in the US via the collective licensing system because of a compulsory licence under American copyright law. SoundExchange administers that licence.

The society says that it's been in dispute with Slacker since 2017, which is the year when the personalised radio set up was acquired by live streaming company LiveXLive Media, which subsequently rebranded as LiveOne.

In a statement outlining the dispute, SoundExchange said: "In 2017, Slacker stopped paying statutory royalties to creators whose recordings it was using. SoundExchange has been in negotiations with Slacker since that time to resolve their outstanding balance, but Slacker has failed to meet the terms to which the parties agreed. SoundExchange is now filing a complaint for breach of contract and underpayment of statutory royalties".

Meanwhile, the society's CEO Michael Huppe added: "By refusing to pay royalties for the use of protected sound recordings, Slacker and LiveOne have directly harmed creators over the years. Today, SoundExchange is taking a stand through necessary legal action to protect the value of music and ensure creators are compensated fairly for their work. We hope Slacker and LiveOne will promptly reverse course and pay what they owe for the use of recordings that drive the value of their service".

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Ciara signs to Republic
Ciara has signed a new record deal with Universal Music's Republic Records and Uptown Records in partnership with her own Beauty Marks Entertainment company.

"I've been a fan of Ciara forever", says Republic Records co-President Wendy Goldstein. "Working with her has been a dream, and she's making some of the most powerful, undeniable and innovative music of her entire career now. This is an incredible creative chapter for her, and we're all excited to be part of it".

"I am THRILLED to partner with Uptown/Republic Records through my own label imprint Beauty Marks Entertainment", Ciara adds. "Wendy and I have been in discussion to work together for some time and the enthusiasm that her and the entire team have expressed over this new project marks an exciting new chapter in my career. I am grateful to be able to continue my mission of making the world dance with a team I admire, who are at the forefront of empowering artists".

Ciara is set to release her first single under the new deal, 'Jump', featuring Coast Contra, on 8 Jul.

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SXSW announces inaugural Sydney edition of showcase festival
South By South West has announced that it is branching out of Texas - and the US entirely - with a new edition of the showcase festival and music conference in Australia.

Set to launch in Sydney next year, the new event is a partnership between SXSW, Australian live music promoter TEG and the New South Wales government's tourism agency Destination NSW.

"We couldn't be more excited and honoured to work with TEG and the New South Wales government via Destination NSW on an event that brings to Australia the professional opportunities and unexpected discoveries that make SXSW unique", says SXSW CEO Roland Swenson. "The purpose of SXSW is to help creative people achieve their goals, and Sydney is the ideal city to serve as a home for the cross-collaboration that exists within the many industries we bring together".

TEG CEO Geoff Jones adds: "SXSW is an event without equal internationally that has launched the careers of so many creative professionals. Through showcasing the creator industries of the Asia Pacific to the world, SXSW Sydney will establish a new SXSW touchpoint, enabling the international and cross-sector connections that deliver the most innovative products and content. I would like to welcome Colin Daniels as the Managing Director of SXSW Sydney and thank the NSW government, Destination NSW, and the team at SXSW for their foresight and support".

Like the US edition, SXSW Sydney will cover film and technology as well as music. However, it will be shorter than the Austin, Texas event, taking place over a week from 15-22 Oct 2023.

It's still more than a year away, but if you're interested you can register your interest in attending now.

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Approved: Luci
Lucianna Ania - just Luci for the purposes of her music - has been developing under the radar for a while now, keeping her work offline and aiming to build her initial following through word of mouth. And that seems to have worked alright, but now with the ink on a new record deal with Don't Sleep dry, she's ready to expand outwards more. And so today is your lucky day, because Luci's debut single, 'Ash & Dust', just hit the internet.

With influences that span Lil Wayne to Bring Me The Horizon, the track is a quick blast of puny aggression over programmed beats. It's here and gone in less than three minutes, but the intensity of her delivery ensures that she leaves a deep impression from the first listen.

"The truth is I have never been anything less than genuine", she says of the inspiration for 'Ash & Dust'. "My great grandmother would always say, 'from dirt we come to dirt we go'. Apparently Adam and Eve rose with human complexes, while being told they were perfect. Well perhaps they were perfect the entire time. I used to think there was something wrong with me, but now I just accept that I am built different. It's not in me to let anything beat me down. Or paint me as I am not".

You can catch Luci performing as part of Boiler Room's upcoming New York event at Avant Gardner on 16 Jul.

For now, watch the video for 'Ash & Dust' here.

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

Sampa The Great announces Zamrock-inspired new album
Sampa The Great will release her second album, 'As Above, So Below', in September this year, she has announced. First single 'Never Forget' is out now.

Having relocated back to Zambia from Australia during the pandemic, 'As Above, So Below' sees her work with collaborators in the Zambian and South African music scenes, and take influence from local sub-genres, such as Zamrock, which inspired the new single.

"'Never Forget' is an ode to Zamrock music, a genre born in the 70s combining traditional Zambian music and psychedelic rock", she says. "In particular, the song focuses on kalindula music. This tribute was inspired by the band Witch and their lead singer Mr Jagari Chanda, who has become one of my musical mentors".

"I discovered Zamrock later in my life and was surprised that this music was known globally, yet not fully celebrated and acknowledged in Zambia today", she continues. "It hit home for me as I felt similarities in my own journey, having had my career take off outside my birth country. I thought it was fitting to pay homage to those who came before me and merge past, present and future through music and imagery; passing the baton from one generation to the next".

'As Above, So Below' is set for release on 9 Sep. The single, which also features Chef 187, Tio Nason and Mwanjé, is out now. Watch the video here.

You can also catch Sampa The Great live in the UK at Gorilla in Manchester on 12 Oct and Koko in London on 15 Oct.

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APPOINTMENTS

Downtown Music has named Scott Williams President of its CD Baby and Soundrop businesses. He was previously Chief Technology Officer. "Leading the skilled and dedicated technology teams at CD Baby and Soundrop for the last decade has been a great honour", he says. "We've been laser focused on serving the more than one million artists that rely on us to get their music out into the universe to be discovered and to generate income. I am so fortunate to be able to grow at the company I love so much to continue my mission of helping the independent artist community".

Better Noise Music has promoted Paul Cormack to General Manager. He was previously Managing Director for Canada. "In this expanded role I look forward to working closely with the global Better Noise team to achieve success for all of the artists and projects on the roster", he says. "This is a busy year with the global release of 'The Retaliators' feature film in September, new releases coming from Five Finger Death Punch, The Hu, Dirty Heads, Nothing More and Bad Wolves, not to mention Eva Under Fire and Classless Act, Better Noise's two developing acts poised to break globally. What a fantastic time to begin in this new role".

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RELEASES

Jason Derulo has enlisted Kodak Black on new single 'Slidin'. It arrives with a whole metaverse experience around it that you may or may not be interested in. "Throughout my career, I've always tried to find new and creative ways to interact with my fans and technology has always been at the centre of that philosophy", says Derulo. "I have been watching and investing in the web3 space for a while now and seeing the impact it's had on fostering communities had my mind racing. That's why I'm incredibly excited for this Decentraland experience to be able to hang out with my fans in real time and experience the music video in a new way. Shout out TerraZero for architecting the space. I'm excited for you all to experience it".

With her second album 'About Last Night' out on 15 Jul, Mabel has released new single 'Let Love Go'.

Dermot Kennedy has revealed that he will release his new album, 'Sonder', on 2 Sep. "The meaning behind [the word] 'sonder' [ie the realisation that everyone around you has a life as complex as yours] has resonated with me so much for years", he says. "I exist in an industry where we're encouraged to constantly only think about ourselves and I find that exhausting and uninspiring. I want to learn about you. Let us share all of our triumphs, all of our troubles. Let this music belong to all of us, to find our own stories and our own solace within it". From the album, this is new single 'Dreamer'.

Yungblud has released new single 'Don't Feel Like Feeling Sad Today'. "I wrote this song on a morning when I didn't even want to get out of bed", he says. "I sat and looked at the ceiling, head full of so much shit, reading what the internet was saying about me that day, and I just didn't feel like feeling sad". His new album, 'Yungblud', is set for release on 2 Sep.

Gryffin has released new single 'Reckless', featuring MØ.

Danger Mouse and The Shins' James Mercer have revived their Broken Bells project to release their first album together since 2014. 'Into The Blue' is set for release later this year, and its first single is 'We're Not In Orbit Yet'.

Anna Of the North is back with new single 'Dandelion'. It is, she says, "a song about lost love. The kind of love that can't stay for obvious reasons… [but] still there is hope that one day it'll work out".

Kuedo has released 'Infinite Window', the title track of his new album, which is out on 29 Jul. "I thought of an infinity inside us, like falling into ourselves, or falling into each other, somehow. Perhaps the intensity of years passing, alone or in long-term relationships, like how you change and change one another", he says. "It's the idea I keep returning to of making something that externally is theatrical or escapist, like a sci-fi illustration, but on the inside is smaller and interpersonal. I think that big-outside, intimate-inside is something a lot of music I love does, perhaps pop production especially".

Featuring members of Katatonia and Paradise Lost vocalist Nick Holmes, death metal supergroup Bloodbath have announced new album, 'Survival Of The Sickest', which is set for release on 9 Sep. "If there was a declaration of goods attached to this album, it would say Florida death metal exported from Sweden", say the band. Here's new single 'Zombie Inferno'.

Sudan Archives is back with new track 'NBPQ (Topless)', taken from her upcoming new album 'Natural Brown Prom Queen'. The song, she says, is "about my insecurities that I have being a brown skin black female in the world and how to navigate through that while facing American beauty standards. It's a song of redemption and freedom".

Dub War have put out new single 'Get Back Up', featuring Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin. "I've always wanted to empower and lift those who are going through a tough time, and in days like this, who isn't", says frontman Benji Webb. "This is what 'Get Back Up' was created for. I called Mike Bordin about him playing on this particular Dub War track. Mike has been a Dub War fan from way back. He eventually called me back and, with passion, said 'I'm in'".

Effy has released her debut EP 'Not What It Seems', featuring two brand new tracks. "This is my debut EP so I have tried to encapsulate all of my sounds in one short project", she says. "Techno, breakbeat, bass and some more softer melodic stuff. This project was mostly inspired by the feelings I had when clubs opened after the pandemic and finding my confidence as a DJ and artist".

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GIGS & TOURS

Pusha T has announced UK and Ireland tour dates in December, hitting Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Dublin. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.

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

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Radio station staff play Rage Against The Machine on a loop for twelve hours
Disgruntled staff at a Canadian radio station took control of the airwaves and played Rage Against The Machine's 'Killing In The Name' on repeat for several hours yesterday. The move was seemingly a protest after management fired a number of presenters.

Morning show hosts on Vancouver's Kiss Radio 104.9FM Kevin Lim and Sonia Sidhu announced their departure on Tuesday, saying in a statement: "Kiss is changing and unfortunately we were informed that we won't be part of this new chapter. Although this comes with mixed emotions, we want to express one overwhelming feeling: gratitude".

Later the same day, afternoon host Tara Jean Stevens also announced that she was leaving the station, saying: "A special announcement! I've officially enjoyed my last show on Kiss Radio".

The following morning, reportedly at 6am, the station began broadcasting the slightly sweary 'Killing In The Name' uncensored on a loop. A man who only gave his name as Apollo occasionally broke up the broadcast by stopping to take song requests from listeners, which were then ignored in favour of hitting play on the Rage Against The Machine track again.

'Apollo' later told The Guardian that the song was already playing on a loop when he arrived at the station yesterday morning, but he acknowledged that, by carrying it on, he might be in trouble with his bosses.

After twelve hours, control was wrestled back and the station began broadcasting its usual playlist. But will that be its 'usual' playlist for long? While many celebrated the big protest, others speculated that it was actually a stunt to announce a shift from pop to alternative rock at the station. If it is, there has been no confirmation of that so far.

'Killing In The Name', of course, was originally written to promote police brutality. In 2009, it was used to protest 'X Factor' winners always getting to Christmas number one. Now it's being used to protest radio presenters being fired, or possibly just for a laugh. So, you could argue that it's lost some of its power over the last 30 years.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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
 
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