TODAY'S TOP STORY: Two members of Congress in the US have proposed new laws that would restrict the use of an artist's lyrics as evidence in any criminal cases they may become involved in... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES US Congress members propose new law to stop rap lyrics being used in criminal cases
LEGAL Megan Thee Stallion and Big Sean sued for alleged song-theft
Judge declines to force Britney Spears into deposition in ongoing legal battle with her father

DEALS Stromae's Mosaert company allies with Warner Chappell
Exceleration Music acquires Heroic Music Group catalogue

RELEASES Connie Constance announces new album, Miss Power
ONE LINERS Charli XCX, Bush, Converge, more
AND FINALLY... Spotify kills the Car Thing
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US Congress members propose new law to stop rap lyrics being used in criminal cases
Two members of Congress in the US have proposed new laws that would restrict the use of an artist's lyrics as evidence in any criminal cases they may become involved in.

The proposals are in response to increased concern in the music community - and especially in the hip hop community - about the use of lyrics by prosecutors, with campaigners arguing that using lyrics as evidence rarely adds anything of substance to any criminal proceedings, but can be impactful on juries to the detriment of the defendant, whose freedom of expression is also infringed.

In a statement, the proposers of the Restoring Artistic Protection Act - or RAP Act - Hank Johnson and Jamaal Bowman say that since 2020, prosecutors in over 500 criminal cases across the US have used artists' lyrics as evidence against them in court. The proposed legislation would "add a presumption to the Federal Rules Of Evidence that would limit the admissibility of evidence of an artist's creative or artistic expression against that artist in court".

Johnson added: "Freedom of speech is the constitutional foundation the framers thought necessary to enable a new and free society to craft not only its own destiny through commerce and innovations, but through culture, expression and art".

"It is no longer enough that the bill of rights guarantees that freedom", he went on, "without further Congressional action, the freedom of speech and of artistic expression present in music will continue to be stifled, and that expression will be chilled, until the voices behind that protected speech are silenced".

The use of lyrics and other forms of creative expression as evidence in criminal cases tends to disproportionately affect rappers - and especially black artists - something honed in on by Bowman.

He told reporters: "Evidence shows when juries believe lyrics to be rap lyrics, there's a tendency to presume it's a confession, whereas lyrics for other genres of music are understood to be art, not factual reporting. This act would ensure that our evidentiary standards protect the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. We cannot imprison our talented artists for expressing their experiences nor will we let their creativity be suppressed".

In their announcement of the RAP Act, the two Congress members also cite comments made by a US judge last year when he refused to allow a defendant's lyrics to be used as evidence in court. "Freddy Mercury did not confess to having 'just killed a man' by putting 'a gun against his head' and 'pulling the trigger'", the judge wrote. "Bob Marley did not confess to having shot a sheriff. And Johnny Cash did not confess to shooting 'a man in Reno just to watch him die'".

Of course, no one would ever think of those lyrics as being actual confessions, yet prosecutors have often assumed - and, it seems, jurors are more prone to believe - that a rapper's words are somehow automatically more rooted in reality and real world events.

Johnson and Bowman's proposals to change the rules at a US-wide level regarding the use of lyrics in court cases follows moves to introduce similar rules in New York, which passed in the state's Senate in May. Various campaigners in the music community have called for similar measures across the US, including 300 Entertainment CEO Kevin Liles and Atlantic Records US COO Julie Greenwald, who recently set up a petition on this issue.

They were prompted to do so by the arrest in Georgia of rappers Young Thug and Gunna, with whom the two Warner Music divisions work. The criminal allegations against the two rappers, Liles and Greenwald noted in an open letter, "heavily rely on the artists' lyrics that prosecutors claim are 'overt evidence of conspiracy'. [But] weaponising creative expression against artists is obviously wrong".

Both Liles and Greenwald have welcomed the RAP Act.

Liles said yesterday: "Today, too many artists, almost always hip hop artists, face allegations of wrongdoing which rely heavily on their lyrics as evidence. Beyond the disregard for free speech protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalised communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph. Black creativity and artistry are being criminalised, and this bill will help end that. We must protect black art".

And Greenwald added: "I applaud Reps Johnson and Bowman for introducing this bill to limit the admissibility of an artist's creative or artistic expression as evidence against them in criminal cases. More than any other art form, prosecutors are attempting to use rap lyrics as confessions of criminal wrongdoing. With troubling racial disparities already present in the criminal justice system, this practice only adds to the uneven scales of justice that black men and women face".

The proposals are also supported by a number of music industry organisations, including the Recording Academy. In a joint statement, the Academy's CEO Harvey Mason Jr and the chair of the organisation's Black Music Collective, Rico Love, said: "Today's introduction of the RAP Act in the House Of Representatives is a crucial step forward in the ongoing battle to stop the weaponisation of creative expression as a prosecution tactic".

"The bias against rap music has been present in our judicial system for far too long", they added, "and it's time we put an end to this unconstitutional practice. We extend our gratitude to Representatives Hank Johnson and Jamaal Bowman for their leadership on this issue, and we will continue to work closely with them to advance the protections in this bill that ensure all artists can create freely without fear of their work being criminalised".


Megan Thee Stallion and Big Sean sued for alleged song-theft
Megan Thee Stallion and Big Sean are the latest artists on the receiving end of a good old song-theft lawsuit, they being accused of ripping off an earlier track on their 2020 collaboration 'Go Crazy'.

According to Billboard, Detroit-based rappers Duawn Payne and Harrell James allege that 'Go Crazy' lifts from their 2012 song 'Krazy'. In fact, their lawsuit reckons, even "an average lay observer would recognise the infringing work as having been appropriated from ['Krazy'] because of the striking similarity between the two compositions and the way in which they are performed".

'Go Crazy' appeared on Megan Thee Stallion's album 'Good News' and also featured a guest turn from 2 Chainz, although he's not named as a defendant on the lawsuit.

However, Big Sean - real name Sean Anderson - presumably had to be a co-defendant, because it's via him that Payne and James are able to construct a theory as to how the team behind 'Go Crazy' were previously exposed to 'Krazy', despite it not having a full release.

Payne and James say that their track was distributed and played widely in their home town and that it topped a Detroit chart on the ReverbNation platform. And Anderson is from Detroit.

The lawsuit muses that, when the plaintiffs released their record, both they and Anderson "resided in West Detroit where the copyrighted work was publicly performed by plaintiffs in West Detroit hip hop clubs and bars frequented by Anderson. The sale of thousands of physical copies of CDs featuring the copyrighted work on the streets of West Detroit and the parking lots of hip hop clubs in West Detroit frequented by Anderson provide further access".

So, there you go. We await to see how the defendants respond.


Judge declines to force Britney Spears into deposition in ongoing legal battle with her father
A US court yesterday declined to force Britney Spears to sit for a deposition as part of her ongoing legal dispute with her father over the management of the conservatorship that ran her life for thirteen years.

Although that often controversial conservatorship was brought to an end last year, there remains plenty of legal wrangling in relation to it, including over allegations that Spears' father Jamie, in his role overseeing the conservatorship, mismanaged his daughter's finances and spied on her by monitoring her phone calls and putting a listening device in her bedroom.

As part of the legal proceedings, Jamie has been ordered to take part in a deposition, in which he will have to answer questions posed by his daughter's legal team under oath. In return, Jamie's lawyers wanted Britney to do the same, answering their questions.

However, her lawyer Mathew Rosengart argued that such a deposition would "re-traumatise" his client just as she is she is getting her life back together following last year's termination of the conservatorship.

According to Variety, he told the court: "Whether [Jamie] accepts it or not, his daughter feels traumatised by what she went through at his hands for more than a decade". With that in mind, he added, if Jamie actually loves his daughter, he would drop his motion for the deposition.

Having heard both sides' arguments, judge Brenda Penny concluded that any deposition involving Britney would be unlikely to produce any new information relevant to the ongoing legal case, and therefore she declined to grant Jamie's motion.

His lawyer indicated soon after that he plans to appeal that decision. Spears Senior denies all the allegations of misconduct that have been made against him.


Stromae's Mosaert company allies with Warner Chappell
Belgian artist Stromae has signed a big old deal with Warner Chappell which will now provide music publishing admin services to the company that manages all his projects and rights, Mosaert.

As well as overseeing Stromae's own musical output, Brussels-based Mosaert is also involved in music video production, having worked with the likes of Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa, and even has its own fashion line.

Confirming the deal, Warner Chappell CEO Guy Moot says: "Stromae has consistently been one of the most exciting Francophone artists over the last fifteen years. His innovative approach has always put a stylistic vision at the heart of how he presents himself, and that's helped him influence and shape wider culture. So this is a really important deal for us and we can't wait to get work worldwide promoting his songs".

Meanwhile, the Warner publisher's MD in France, Matthieu Tessier, adds: "Stromae is a complete artist, whose unique creativity is expressed not just musically, but through his image and public appearances, his use of social media, creative video direction and even through his fashion design".

"I'm so excited to start working with such an inspiring talent who has influenced artists and songwriters around the world, and to start collaborating with Mosaert's team", he goes on. "Representing one of the most important modern French language songbooks is a huge privilege for all of us at Warner Chappell Music and our different teams from around the world pulled together to get this deal done".

Stromae himself comments: "Mosaert and I are really THRILLED to be joining Warner Chappell Music. This partnership will amplify our vision and help us to reach new possibilities. I'm looking forward to working together!"


Exceleration Music acquires Heroic Music Group catalogue
Independent music investment firm Exceleration Music has announced its first deal in Europe, acquiring the catalogue of Dutch indie the Heroic Music Group.

The company says that the founders of the Heroic Music Group - which has worked as a label, publisher and artist management firm - are now pursuing new ventures.

Via its deal to acquire the group's catalogue, Exceleration will "work to keep the recordings truly independent and ensure that the musical legacy that Heroic and its artists have created is preserved and enhanced across the global market".

Confirming the deal, one of those founders, Tim van Doorne, says: "We took a year to find the right party to adopt our responsibilities to all the great artists we've worked with this past decade. I'm very happy we were able to reach an agreement with Exceleration who, with their shared independent mindset and incredible team, can continue our legacy with new energy".

Also name-checking Doorne's co-founder Budi Voogt, Exceleration partner - and former boss of the indie label digital licensing network Merlin - Charles Caldas adds: "Budi and Tim have created a great example of the best kind of new-generation, self-sufficient independent music company".

"Since meeting them during my tenure at Merlin", he goes on, "I was deeply impressed with the way they were intent on building their groundbreaking, future-facing company focused on strong values, underpinned by a truly independent spirit, a path we are also trying to forge with Exceleration. It's an honour to be able to be custodians of the great music they have released".


Approved: Clamm
Set to release their second album, 'Care', next month, punk band Clamm have released the third single from the record.

"'Something New' is a song about searching or yearning", says guitarist and lead vocalist Jack Summers of the new track. "It is about impatience and time, and its title refers to the process of facing seemingly new stimuli throughout life".

The track follows 'Bit Much' - about attempting to improve your mental health in the face of everything going on in the world - and 'Monday' - about working in a job you don't enjoy.

'Care' is set for release on 19 Aug, and Clamm will tour the UK in August and September, with shows in Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Bristol and Brighton.

Watch the video for 'Something New' here.

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

Connie Constance announces new album, Miss Power
Connie Constance has announced that she will release her new album, 'Miss Power', later this year, it sharing its name with the single she released in May.

The latest single from the LP is 'Till The World's Awake', of which she says: "The beast, the party, the anthem. Day one of this saturated over stimulating world and everything feels possible".

"For the most part", she adds, "this song for me was just the indie dance single of my dreams, since writing it it has taken on a whole other meaning. It's truly a letter to the universe, to what some people may call God, others Allah, and so on".

"It's a song that says thank you for looking out for me", she continues. "Thank you for the chance of making my dreams a reality, and thank you for the beautiful people that you have kept around me".

"When I think of the minority communities that I live and love within in the UK", she goes on, "it feels like an empowering message that no matter how much the world we live in tries to distract us from our power, make us feel small, or as if we don't fit in… it cannot take away from us the work we have done and who we are when we are together building our own opportunities amongst one another and shaping our own realities".

"We have to work extra hard to be understood, but we will be, and until the worlds awake we have each other and no one can take that from us", she concludes.

The album is set for release on 7 Nov. Constance also has various festival shows coming up over the next few months, and will be supporting Yard Act in the UK in November and December.

Listen to 'Till The World's Awake' here.



UK record industry collecting society PPL has promoted its Chief People Officer Kate Reilly to the expanded role of Chief Membership And People Office. It means that, as well as leading the society's HR and facilities teams, she will also oversee its membership team. "Kate's business acumen, industry knowledge and contact base makes her ideally suited to further develop her role at PPL and to lead the evolution of PPL's service to its membership", says CEO Peter Leathem.



Charli XCX has released new song, 'Hot Girl', taken from the soundtrack of upcoming horror-comedy movie, 'Bodies Bodies Bodies'.

Bush have announced that they will release new album, 'The Art Of Survival', on 7 Oct. Here's new single 'More Than Machines'. "Instead of being mournful or self-piteous, this is about the success stories of humanity's survival against the odds", says frontman Gavin Rossdale of the album. "People just find a way to push through. We've all obviously suffered in varying degrees. I think the nature of life is the art of survival".

Sampa The Great has released new single 'Bona'. Her new album, 'As Above, So Below', is out on 9 Sep.

Rival Consoles will release new album, 'Now Is', on 14 Oct. The title track is out now. "There are some pieces that are influenced quite strongly by the isolation and anxiety of these times", he says of the album. "There are also pieces which are more optimistic and vibrant, which I think is a consistent attitude of my records, as I want art to express many aspects of life".

Punk supergroup Off! have announced their first album in eight years, 'Free LSD'. It's out on 30 Sep. Here's new single 'War Above Los Angeles'.

Efé has released new single 'Loving Girl'. "[The song] is about the juxtaposition between pleasing other people and yourself", she says. "It's about finding a middle ground while wanting to be liked and seen as this 'loving girl'. I started creating the song as a joke, so it was actually like 90% freestyle. I feel like it really captured my headspace at that time - feeling disconnected from people because of miscommunication and trying to figure out how to be loved".



Having been touring their collaborative album with Chelsea Wolfe in recent months, Converge have announced that they will return to the UK on their own later this year. After playing Manchester's Damnation Festival on 5 Nov, they will perform at Electric Brixton in London on 6 Nov. Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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


Spotify kills the Car Thing
Spotify's Car Thing is dead. The streaming service announced in its Q2 earnings report yesterday that it has stopped manufacturing the device that allowed users to stream music in their cars.

It was back in 2019 that Spotify first launched the gadget, initially on an invite-only basis for research purposes - the company saying that it's first proprietary hardware product had mainly been "developed to help us learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts".

However, two years later the thing - still called Car Thing - went on sale to anyone who wanted it in the US. And as recently as April this year, a whole load of new functionality was added to it.

Spotify said in a statement to Engadget that "several factors" had led to the recent decision to discontinue the product. Although a key one seems to be that - despite Spotify saying in 2021 that it was making it more widely available due to "a need from our users" - not that many people actually wanted one.

After all, many newer cars now have access to streaming music built into the dashboard. And for everyone else, rather than using a special smartphone-like device to access Spotify in the car, they could probably just, you know, use their smartphone.

In its earnings report, Spotify admitted that its overall gross margin had been "negatively impacted by our decision to stop manufacturing Car Thing", but this was "partially offset by a positive change in prior period estimates for rightholder liabilities". Lovely stuff.

Despite the failure of the device, Spotify told Engadget that it had nevertheless "unlocked helpful learnings" from Car Thing over the last three years, and that the car remains an "important place" for audio.

For now, Spotify will continue to support existing Car Thing devices, and you can buy yourself one of those remaining in the Spotify warehouse for the knockdown price of $49.99 (previously $89.99) if failed unnecessary gadgets are your thing.

Some did ponder back in 2019 that Car Thing could be Spotify's first step into becoming active in making and selling its own the digital music hardware. But, alas, seemingly no.

The company will just have focus on selling boring old premium subscriptions I guess. Though premium subscriber numbers went up another six million in the last quarter, so at least there's still increasing consumer demand for those. For now at least.


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)
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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
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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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