TODAY'S TOP STORY: Lizzo can keep the $5 million fee she was paid to play the 2020 LA Virgin Fest that never happened because of COVID, a judge has ruled. This is because her agents amended her contract when she was booked fearing that the event might not go ahead even before the pandemic hit... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Lizzo can keep $5 million fee from COVID cancelled Virgin Fest, judge rules
LEGAL LA District Attorney says police investigation into Marilyn Manson is yet to report
Childish Gambino hits back in This Is America song theft legal battle

MEDIA Alan Davey to step down as Controller of Radio 3
Worldwide FM to pause new programmes so to "re-organise and re-evaluate"

GIGS & FESTIVALS Sam Fender cancels tour dates to concentrate on his mental health
ONE LINERS Lewis Capaldi, MMF, Willow, more
AND FINALLY... Metallica's Kirk Hammett publishes first chapter of horror story and accompanying soundtrack
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Lizzo can keep $5 million fee from COVID cancelled Virgin Fest, judge rules
Lizzo can keep the $5 million fee she was paid to play the 2020 LA Virgin Fest that never happened because of COVID, a judge has ruled. This is because her agents amended her contract when she was booked fearing that the event might not go ahead even before the pandemic hit.

The company that was promoting the festival that never happened, VFLA Eventco LLC, sued the touring companies of Lizzo, Ellie Goulding and Kali Uchis - and their booking agency WME - in July 2020.

It argued that - based on the clause in its artist contracts dealing with what would happen in extraordinary circumstances like a pandemic, ie the good old force majeure clause - anyone booked to play should return all and any upfront fees they had received once COVID rules forced cancellation.

The promoter said that other agencies had agreed the festival's force majeure clause applied when it was COVID rules that forced the cancellation and that their artists had therefore returned any monies they had been advanced.

But, it then said, WME was insisting that the clause did not apply - and that its artists therefore didn't need to return any cash - because said artists were "otherwise ready, willing and able to perform", even if the event itself was not going ahead.

It transpires that WME took that different position to the other booking agencies because of amendments its lawyers had made to is client's contracts with VFLA Eventco LLC, due to pre-pandemic concerns regarding whether or not the new festival would go ahead.

According to Billboard, although the Virgin Group was involved in the event - with Richard Branson endorsing and promoting the project - the festival's main backers were actually Marc and Sharon Hagle.

They are a Florida-based couple who made lots of money from the commercial property sector and then started investing into the entertainment world via a partnership with Jason Felts, previously CEO of the Virgin Produced film and TV business, who was also involved in the Kaaboo festival brand, which the Hagles also invested in.

When Felts approached WME about the plan to launch a new Virgin Fest in LA, agents there were seemingly skeptical about the prospects of a new festival launching into a market dominated by Live Nation and AEG's Goldenvoice.

Indeed, legal papers show, WME's then co-Head Of Music Marc Geiger told Felts that launching a new festival into that market was basically 'commercial suicide'. As a result, he added, any WME artists booked to play would expect to be paid upfront.

It seems that Sharon Hagle in particular was keen for Lizzo to be booked as headliner for the debut Virgin Fest LA, which is why an initial declined offer of $1.35 million was subsequently increased to $2.5 million and ultimately to $5 million.

Which was an offer it was going to be hard for Lizzo to turn down. So she didn't, despite her booking agency's concerns regarding whether or not the festival would go ahead.

But because of those concerns, WME had their lawyers look at the contract that came with the mega-bucks booking, with the agency's festivals chief Josh Kurfirst telling the legal people to ensure the contract was "100%" solid for Lizzo and the other WME artists set to play the festival.

Amendments were made to the contracts, with Lizzo getting her entire $5 million fee upfront, while for Goulding and Uchis - being paid $600,000 and $400,000 respectively - they would get 50% upfront and the remaining 50% no later than 90 days prior to the show.

Those deals were done and payments made. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, lockdowns went into force across the world and the Virgin Fest was cancelled.

And the event's promoters - like the promoters of many other events - began seeking the return of upfront payments that had been made to artists, citing the good old force majeure clauses in their respective contracts.

However, WME argued, under the amended force majeure clauses it had negotiated with VFLA Eventco LLC, its artists were not actually under any obligation to return the money. And that included's Lizzo's five million.

In a ruling earlier this month, LA judge Mark Epstein agreed with the agency's position. He wrote in that ruling: "The original force majeure clause was relatively straightforward and favoured the promoter. It stated that in the event of a force majeure, the promoter would be entitled to the money unless the artist had already begun to perform".

But WME's lawyers, he added, had "modified the clause to become more artist-friendly. Rather than limit the artist's recovery to situations where she had already started performing, [Lizzo] could retain the money so long as she was 'otherwise ready, willing and able to perform'. That change, in context, lends support to the artist's position here".

"Rather than require the artist to have started the actual performance", he went on, "so long as she would otherwise have done so she could keep the money".

Anticipating that VFLA Eventco LLC is likely to appeal - Billboard reckons that the cancelled Virgin Fest resulted in losses for the company of $23 million if these artists fees remain unreturned - the judge added: "This would appear to be only the first stop on the parties' journey to resolution. Even so, the court believes that the inference it draws is most consistent with the clause's overall structure and the bargaining history".

So, for now all least, Lizzo gets to keep the five million. Party time over at Lizzo's place, I reckon.


LA District Attorney says police investigation into Marilyn Manson is yet to report
In something of an unusual move, the LA County District Attorney George Gascón has posted a video message to Instagram providing an update on the police investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse that have been made against Marilyn Manson.

The LA County Sheriff's Department first announced that its Special Victims Unit was looking into abuse allegations against Manson - real name Brian Warner - back in February 2021.

The investigation began after actor Evan Rachel Wood confirmed that, when she had previously spoken about an abusive former partner, she was talking about her relationship with the musician. Other women then subsequently came forward also accusing Warner of abuse, some of whom then filed lawsuits in relation to their allegations.

When an earlier allegation of abuse was made against Warner in LA County in 2018 - with the musician accused of having held a woman captive for two days in 2011 - the DA's office decided not to pursue a case against him, stating that the statute of limitations had expired and that there was an "absence of corroboration".

But the reason that the DA's office has not taken any action this time round, Gascón says, is simply because it is still waiting for the LA Country Sheriff's Department to submit any report stemming from its investigation.

In the statement on Instagram, Gascón explains: "The Brian Warner matter is still under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and has not yet been submitted to our office".

"Please be assured that we are requesting regular updates on the status of the investigation", he adds. "The District Attorney is committed to investing in trauma-informed care for all victims of sexual assault, abuse, and intimate partner violence. We understand how difficult it may be to come forward as a victim, especially when the case involves this level of notoriety, and are dedicated to treating all victims with the highest levels of care and respect".

"Once we have received the case", he goes on, "it will be carefully evaluated by an experienced prosecutor to determine if it is appropriate to file charges at this time. We are hopeful that the LASD will present the case to us sometime this month".

Warner continues to deny all the abuse allegations that have been made against him.


Childish Gambino hits back in This Is America song theft legal battle
Childish Gambino has filed legal papers calling for the song-theft lawsuit targeting his 2018 hit 'This Is America' to be dismissed.

He presents the usual responses to such lawsuits - ie that the elements his track and the earlier work he's accused of ripping off share are not protected copyright and that the plaintiff hasn't demonstrated how he had access to the earlier song. Plus he throws in some issues around copyright registration for good measure.

Miami-based rapper Kidd Wes - real name Emelike Nwosuocha - sued Childish Gambino - or Donald Glover if you prefer - last year, claiming that 'This Is America' lifted from his 2016 track 'Made In America'.

"The distinctive flow" heard in Glover's track, the lawsuit stated, "is unmistakably substantially similar, if not practically identical, to the distinct and unique flow that was employed by Nwosuocha in recording his vocal performance of his rapping of the hook to his copyrighted work".

"The lyrical theme, content, and structure of the identically-performed choruses are also glaringly similar", the lawsuit added. "The unmissable substantial similarity of the two flows used in the songs' respective hooks, as augmented by the two hooks' substantially similar structure and lyrical content, is striking to an extent beyond coincidence and is accordingly audible to the average lay person who listens to both songs".

But not so, says Glover in his response. "Plaintiff's claim is based on the supposed lyrical, rhythmic, and thematic 'similarities' between the songs at issue", his new legal filing notes. "However, the alleged 'similarities' are either starkly different (as in the lyrics) and/or consist of nothing more than non-copyrightable material".

Expanding on that argument, Glover's filing says that "a comparison of the lyrics identified by plaintiff shows that the only similarity is the unprotectable word 'America'". Meanwhile, "plaintiff's reliance on allegedly similar cadence, rhythm, 'triplet flow' or vocal 'utterances' performed within '20 beats per minute' of each other is insufficient to allege infringement".

"To the extent plaintiff's claims are based on the vocal style or performance of the chorus, this non-compositional element is outside the scope of any compositional registration", it then adds. "Accordingly, no one can own a 'flow'".

"An 'ordinary observer' can also hear the differences in the rhythm of the respective choruses", it goes on. "Plaintiff's composition begins with a pick-up note on the lyric 'I'm'. The words 'made in America' (in the phrase 'I'm made in America') are rapped starting on beat four [and] the words 'making America' (in the phrase 'Making America great again') are rapped on beat two".

"In contrast", it then argues, "the entirely different lyrics 'this is America' have no pick-up note and are rapped on beat two. The chorus's first and third beat contain a full rest, with no words rapped. But even if the lyrical phrases were rapped identically, the performance technique of 'triplet rhythm' is not protectable, not original to plaintiff, [being] common in trap music, and certainly not owned by plaintiff".

As for how Glover or one of his team might have had access to 'Made In America' when making 'This Is America', Nwosuocha's lawsuit simply talks about his track being available on Spotify and YouTube. But, Glover's filing says, courts have generally concluded that the simple availability of a track on the streaming services is not enough to prove an accused song thief had access to the earlier work.

"Plaintiff does not allege that any defendant had access to his work", it states. "Rather, plaintiff simply speculates that because his work was posted to streaming services, such as Spotify and YouTube (along with tens of millions of other works), that perhaps one of the defendants may have listened to it".

But, "courts have routinely held that the mere availability of a composition on the internet is not sufficient to establish access to a work, and this is plaintiff's sole allegation of access".

On top of all that, Glover's filing argues that, while Nwosuocha's lawsuit said that the plaintiff had registered his work with the US Copyright Office - there being a copyright registration system in the US - that registration actually related to the recording of 'Made In America'.

And this lawsuit accuses Glover of infringing the separate copyright in Nwosuocha's song, which seemingly wasn't registered.

With all that in mind, Glover's legal filing concludes: "Defendants respectfully request that the court dismiss the complaint with prejudice and award such other relief as it deems just and proper".


Alan Davey to step down as Controller of Radio 3
Alan Davey - Controller of BBC Radio 3 and the broadcaster's orchestras, choirs and Proms programme - has announced that he will step down from the role next March after over eight years leading the Beeb's classical music output.

Confirming his decision to leave, Davey says: "There is nothing like the combination of Radio 3, the Proms and the BBC Orchestras and Choirs anywhere else. Choosing when to move on is always tricky, but now is the time for me to hand over the role to someone else. They will inherit, to borrow a phrase, on a bad day the best job in Britain, and on a good day the best job in the world".

"Since Radio 3's first day of broadcasting", he adds, "it has known that the key to securing the future of music is in finding new talent and offering ways in to new audiences, and it's the quality and expertise involved that makes the station so unique. Radio 3 endures because of its audience who live their lives by its rhythms and because of its staff and musicians who are endlessly inventive, committed and fun".

Commenting on Davey's departure, the BBC's Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore adds: "Alan has brought extraordinary vision to Radio 3. Under his watch over the past eight years, Radio 3's editorial ambition has flourished and Alan has skilfully, and with passion, led our classical activities in an ever-changing world - constantly exploring new opportunities to reach the widest possible audience for our classical music output".

"It's been such a pleasure to work with Alan", she goes on "and I wish him all the best in his roles going forward and his continuing academic work".

The BBC will announce who is taking over running its classical output between now and Davey's actual departure next spring.


Worldwide FM to pause new programmes so to "re-organise and re-evaluate"
Worldwide FM, the online radio station founded by Gilles Peterson, has announced that it will greatly reduce its service from the end of October in order to "re-organise and re-evaluate".

Taking its name from Peterson's old Radio 1 show 'Worldwide' - although the actual Worldwide FM name was first used for an in-game station curated by Peterson on 'Grand Theft Auto V' - the online platform champions an eclectic mix of music from around the world, with a self-declared ambition to ensure "marginalised voices, alternative perspectives and shared progressive values are brought to the forefront through music and culture".

In a statement yesterday, the station said: "We are having to make certain changes at Worldwide FM, re-organising and re-evaluating the next phase and financing for the station. This means we will be pausing new broadcasts and shows, operating a much more minimal service from the end of October".

The station's website and presence on Mixcloud will still be online, meaning - it confirmed - people can still access "our amazing archive, great music and content to listen back to and enjoy. In the meantime, we look forward to enjoying these next few weeks celebrating our station and all that we have achieved so far, so stay tuned in".

In his own statement on social media, Peterson said: "With regret I'm having to pause Worldwide FM from the end of October. I'm so proud of what has been achieved in the last six years".

"WWFM was actually born out of the show I made for the Grand Theft Auto in 2013", he noted, "and grew to be a real life music and culture platform helping develop a new generation of broadcasters as well as acting as a first base in the development of many new artists. From the early years hosting a handful of curated shows from different parts of the world to being home to over 150 resident presenters, WWFM has had a positive impact on our community".

"It is with great sadness that I've had to make the decision to put the breaks on whilst I search for a solution to revive it, in the coming year", he went on. "WWFM has had incredible backing from its supporters and listeners. None of it would have been possible without our dedicated staff members and presenters, who have been amazing and created something really special. I want to thank you all for your wonderful support, passion and efforts over these years and all the hard work you have put in".

Peterson also confirmed that the Worldwide FM archives would remain available and that he himself would continue to host radio shows.


Approved: Dilettante
Having previously released music under her own name and performed as a member of other projects - most recently BC Camplight - Francesca Pidgeon is now preparing to release her debut album as Dilettante next month.

A boldly honest record, the album - 'Tantrum' - explores life as a young woman, both in general and as part of the music industry. Part of her manifesto is explained on recent single 'Mouth Shut', which sees her question whether she should embark on this project at all.

"It's loosely about finding a video of Annie Clark [aka St Vincent] back when she was in The Polyphonic Spree and then wondering how she can be such a force but somehow blend into another project so seamlessly", she says of the song. "I think women tend to be better at that anonymity when it's called for, but it did make me question whether I'd be better staying a supporting member of other people's projects".

Thankfully she chose to push forward with Dilettante and her musically ambitious album. Her vocals often play at the intersection of rhythm and melody, while her guitar and brass arrangements feel like someone pushing themselves to fully test their abilities.

Then there are songs that maintain a simplicity, allowing space for classic feeling melodies to come to the fore. It's a great body of work, and feels like the output of someone who has a great deal more to offer in the future.

'Tantrum' is out on 14 Oct. Out now is new single 'Surrogate Love'. Listen to that here.

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

Sam Fender cancels tour dates to concentrate on his mental health
Sam Fender has announced that he is "taking some time off the road" in order to focus on his mental health, telling fans that it has become "exhausting feigning happiness and wellness for the sake of business".

The remainder of his US tour dates will now not go ahead, including a performance at Madison Square Garden in New York supporting Florence And The Machine this Friday.

"It seems completely hypocritical of me to advocate discussion on mental health and write songs about it if I don't take the time to look after my own mental health", he says in a statement. "I've neglected myself for over a year now and haven't dealt with things that have deeply affected me. It's impossible to do this work on myself while on the road, and it's exhausting feigning happiness and wellness for the sake of business".

"My friends and colleagues have been worried about me for a while and it's not going to get better unless I take the time to do so", he goes on. "I am eternally overwhelmed by the love and support of our fans and I hate to let you down, but the state of my wellbeing is starting to affect everything I do, including my performances. I refuse to go out there and not give it my all every time, as you all deserve nothing less".

"As a result, I'm sadly going to have to take some time off the road", he continues. "We are cancelling our three remaining headline shows in the US [and Canada] and pulling out of the shows with Florence And The Machine, as well as [the] Life Is Beautiful Festival [in Las Vegas]. I'm also especially sorry to everyone who's been waiting for news on the rescheduled UK record store dates but the decision has been taken to cancel these shows (hopefully we can work something out for those ticketholders, you'll hear from us soon) so I can come back stronger".

Thanking fans for their understanding, he adds: "I can't express how grateful we are to have such an awesome fanbase. I've met a fair few of you over the years and those encounters have genuinely restored my faith in humanity, you're all sound as fuck. Me and the boys are burnt out and we need this time. Thank you for always sticking by us".

He says that he plans to return to touring in November, with four dates in Australia. His two dates at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne's St James Park in June next year are also unaffected.



Music distributor and artist services firm Believe has promoted Béatrice Dumurgier to the newly created role of Chief Operating Officer. "I am THRILLED to welcome Béatrice amongst our ranks as Believe's new COO as I'm convinced her expertise in digital transformation and scaling up businesses, as well as her leadership, is the perfect fit to accompany Believe in this next phase of growth and ensure our teams are fully equipped to best support our artists and labels in alignment with our values of respect, fairness and transparency", says CEO Denis Ladegaillerie, apparently without stopping for breath.

Spirit Music Group has promoted Frank Rogers to Chief Creative Officer of the group as a whole. He will also continue to be CEO of Spirit Music Nashville. Busy boy. "We are THRILLED to provide Spirit Music Group's global roster of artists, songwriters and producers of every genre the very best in executive talent and a creative executive at the helm who knows how to build business and careers for our writers", says Chair Jon Singer. "What Frank has accomplished with Spirit Music Nashville is a great example of what a music publishing community firing on all cylinders can accomplish and we look forward to seeing him apply his creative strategy throughout our global offices".



The UK's Music Managers Forum has opened up applications for this year's Accelerator Programme For Music Managers. Independent music managers can now apply to receive up to £15,000 in funding and twelve months of training and support. Apply here.



Lewis Capaldi has released the video for new single 'Forget Me' - a shot-for-shot recreation of Wham's 'Club Tropicana' video.

Willow has released new single 'Curious/Furious'. Her new album - '<copingmechanism>' - is out on 23 Sep.

Brooke Candy has released new single 'Flip Phone'.

Dragonette has released new single 'Twennies'. "I have a lot of nostalgia for earlier times, life without the crazy frantic energy of what the digital / social media age has wrought", she says. "But I also have a genuine excitement about current and future knowledge / progress / technical and scientific discoveries. 'Twennies' is the internal collision of those two polarities".

The Comet Is Coming have released new single 'Technicolour'. Their new album, 'Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam', is out on 23 Sep.

Daphni has released new single 'Arrow'. The new album from the Dan Snaith project, 'Cherry', is out on 7 Oct. "'Arrow' is one of those tracks that's happy to sit still - a loop that is content to keep looping and less happy the more fussy the arrangement becomes", he says.

Okay Kaya has released new single 'Jolene From Her Own Perspective'. "It's [Dolly Parton's] 'Jolene' as a queer anthem", she says. "Except it's not a cover, it is a new tune. As the title declares: Jolene from her own perspective. Dolly forever". Her new album, "Sap', is out on 4 Nov.

DJ Yoda has released new single 'Feel Like Home', featuring the House Gospel Choir. "'Feel Like Home' was recorded in the darkest depths of lockdown, when I felt like we all really needed something uplifting", he says. "It felt great to collaborate with the House Gospel Choir, as they're about as positive, energetic, creative and fun a bunch of people as you'll find anywhere. I'm always looking for the next thing to try out, and to dip my toes into the world of soulful gospel music was a heart-warming process". His new album, 'Prom Nite', is out on 7 Nov.

Ela Minus and DJ Python have released new single 'Kiss U', taken from their debut EP together, '♡', which is out this week.

Dorian Concept will release his new album 'What We Do For Others' - his first for four years - on 28 Oct. It has "something of a 'band sound'", he says, because "it's me playing all kinds of different key-instruments, singing and using FX-units to create these freeform compositions". Here's new single 'Let It All Go'.

Billy Nomates will release her second album 'Cacti' on 13 Jan. Here's new single 'Balance Is Gone'.

Lila Drew has released new single 'Bad Juice'. The song, she says, "is really about trying to figure yourself out in a rapidly moving universe and trying to have some fun while doing so. A lot of the songs I wrote up until then were pretty introspective and serious, and I wanted to try something different".



Bonnie 'Prince' Billy has announced that he will play Hackney Church in London on 9 Dec, his first show in the city for over five years. Tickets go on sale on 16 Sep.

Preoccupations have announced UK tour dates for February next year, finishing up at The Scala in London on 16 Feb. Tickets are on sale now.

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


Metallica's Kirk Hammett publishes first chapter of horror story and accompanying soundtrack
Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has entered the world of horror fiction, posting the first chapter of a story he's writing called 'I Have To Get Rid Of This Guitar I Found' onto Reddit, along with some music to soundtrack it on TikTok.

The story opens with a message from fictional character Abigail Forte, who explains: "I recently found a lead that might help in the search for my brother, William 'Wills' Forte".

That lead is "a journal he had written, along with a cassette that was filled with what can only be described as very unusual field recordings. Seeing as the nature of these recordings seemed to push towards an evil energy, I sent the tape to a friend to help me understand the music, who in turn sent it to guitarist Kirk Hammett".

"We have decided that while we cannot allow the actual sounds from the cassette to be released, we can share renditions of the music", it goes on. "Kirk Hammett has agreed to quickly transpose the less complex portions of the cassette while keeping the integrity of the original field recordings intact".

"These you can play or loop alongside the reading of each part, to create the appropriate mood for these journal entries", it then explains, before adding: "We still advise you take precautions before listening to the recordings (such as burning sage, reciting prayers, drawing protective sigils). What you will hear are some phrases and motifs inspired by the cursed melodies recorded on to this mysterious cassette".

The accompanying two minutes of instrumental acoustic guitar - as noted - can be played alongside your reading of the story (once you've worked out how to do that without the TikTok video muting whenever you click away from it).

This is not Hammett's first foray into the world of horror. In 2012, he published a book called 'Too Much Horror Business', which explored his collection of horror memorabilia and discussed his love of the genre.

He also hosted two editions of his own horror and heavy metal festival - Kirk Von Hammett's Fear FestEvil - in 2014 and 2015, and earlier this year moderated a panel at the Midsummer Scream convention, featuring relatives of classic horror actors Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr.

Read Hammett's story on Reddit here and play the accompanying soundtrack on TikTok here.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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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.
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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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