|MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Two more US senators have raised concerns about TikTok and its Chinese parent company Bytedance, and what access the Chinese government has to users and user-data on the video sharing platform. Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Jerry Moran have aired their concerns in a new letter to the Committee On Foreign Investment In The United States... [READ MORE]|
Two more US senators hit out at TikTok over data concerns
There has, of course, been lots of concern expressed by politicians in multiple countries regarding claims that the Chinese government has access to TikTok user-data via the app's China-based headquarters.
And in the US, the CFIUS has been among the entities looking into those concerns, its interest in the matter beginning with an investigation into TikTok's 2017 acquisition of rival Musical.ly, another Chinese company but with a base in California.
Blumenthal and Moran's letter cites various media reports about how TikTok's Chinese HQ has accessed user-data relating to its American users.
Back in December, they say, "Bytedance acknowledged that staff based in China and the United States had spied on the private data of journalists and others in order to identify sources behind articles critical of the company, confirming reporting by Forbes".
"While TikTok fired employees connected to the incident, according to Forbes, the spying was done by a formal Internal Audit And Risk Control team that was directed by senior executives, including TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew", they go on.
"At that time, TikTok sought to deflect from these disclosures with false denials and misleading answers - a pattern for Bytedance and TikTok".
"The incident also occurred while TikTok's executives had repeatedly promised that Americans' personal data was secure against such spying, including during testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee On Consumer Protection in October 2021".
"This bombshell disclosure demonstrates that TikTok and Bytedance cannot be trusted by CFIUS or its tens of millions of users in the United States", the senators then state.
"In response to these and other credible media reports, Congressional scrutiny, and investigative research about the threat of Chinese spying and malign influence, TikTok has pursued a campaign of diversion and deflection to distract from these serious risks".
They then reference a Wall Street Journal report that "TikTok's product development and management continues to be based in China, including its opaque and powerful algorithmic recommendation system. These reports also confirm open source research that found numerous examples of engineers working both on TikTok and its Chinese counterpart, Douyin".
And not only that, but "concerns about Bytedance's control over TikTok are further exacerbated by the backgrounds of its staff: one investigation by Forbes found that three hundred current employees at TikTok and Bytedance previously, or in some cases concurrently, worked for Chinese propaganda outlets, such as Xinhua News Agency and China Global Television".
The senators also express concern regarding the data generated by TikTok's digital advertising tools and its systems for filtering content. "TikTok has a troubling past history of censoring videos critical of the Chinese government and other authoritarian regimes", they write.
"It has removed or hidden videos related to Tiananmen Square and Tibetan independence, criticism of Vladimir Putin, the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, among other topics".
With all that in mind, Blumenthal and Moran "urge prompt action by CFIUS to protect consumers and our national security through concluding the investigation underway and imposing strong remedies to separate Bytedance from TikTok's American users".
"At a minimum, CFIUS should ensure that executive decision making about the platform is based in the US and fully free from coercive influence from Beijing", they reckon. "It must also ensure that decisions about, and access to, all personal data, algorithms, and content moderation relating to American users is out of the reach or influence of the Chinese government".
They then conclude: "We cannot rely on paper promises and unenforced half measures from a company that has abused our trust when our national security is at stake. Thank you for your attention to this important matter".
The boss of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, is due to face the questions of US Congress members, albeit in the House Of Representatives, at a session of the House Energy And Commerce Committee next month.
It will be interesting to see if anything he says allays any of the ongoing concerns of US politicians regarding TikTok data and practices.
Lil Peep's mother settles wrongful death lawsuit against First Access Entertainment
Lil Peep, real name Gustav Åhr, died in November 2017 of an accidental drugs overdose, aged 21. His mother, Liza Womack, sued First Access in 2019 accusing the company and its associates of negligence and other breaches of contract that contributed to her son's death.
The management firm, she claimed, "allowed, normalised, and even encouraged and promoted" drug taking on her son's tours, despite being aware of his addiction issues.
First Access strongly denied the allegations of misconduct. It also argued that the negligence and breach of contract claims that were at the heart of Womack's lawsuit failed as a matter of law, and therefore the litigation should be dismissed.
However, the judge overseeing the case declined dismissal and the legal battle was due to arrive in court next month.
Had the dispute actually got to court, it seems likely there would have been a number of headline-grabbing allegations that would have portrayed members of Åhr's artist management and tour management teams in a bad light.
The case would have also put the spotlight on the duty of care owed to artists by their managers, both in legal and ethical terms, which has become more of a talking point in recent years.
Confirming an out of court settlement had been reached, Womack's lawyer Paul Matiasic told Pitchfork: "Liza has been indefatigable in her pursuit of justice for her son. With the conclusion of the litigation, her focus will shift to shepherding his legacy and continuing to release his music for the enjoyment of his fans".
While the terms of the settlement are confidential, it seems that Åhr's family will now be in control of the rapper's recordings, including those that were released in partnership with First Access, alongside AWAL and Sony Music.
Womack has already been re-releasing material that Åhr originally self-released, and it's implied that re-release project can now include the music the rapper put out with his management company.
A post on Åhr's official Instagram profile on Friday read: "Today, Gus's music came home. From this day forward, his music will be in the care of his mother and brother, and no one else".
"It is a solemn moment for us as we reflect on the struggles of the past five plus years", it went on. "We are grateful to all of the fans, friends, professionals and family who stood by us. We were all permanently changed by Gus's death".
"We know he should be here in the world with all of us, creating - making whatever he was inspired to make. But he is not. So, we will protect his music with all of our strength".
It concluded: "We look forward to continuing to release Gus's music. This is a very important day for us".
Drake and 21 Savage settle Vogue's fake cover lawsuit
That campaign involved the creation and distribution of an assortment of fake media coverage, including a faked Vogue cover featuring Drake and 21 Savage, and even a short run of a mocked up edition of the fashion magazine containing that cover and some other spoof content.
Whereas the other spoofed media didn't seem too bothered by the 'Her Loss' promo, Vogue owner Condé Nast was not happy at all.
It quickly sent out some cease and desist letters to the musicians and their communications agency Hiltzik Strategies, and when that didn't result in any ceasing and desisting, the media firm went to court accusing Drake, 21 Savage and Hiltzik of trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, among other things.
That legal action sought a court order - initially a temporary restraining order - that would prohibit any further distribution of the fake Vogue cover, plus - of course - lots of lovely damages.
Quickly granting the temporary restraining order, the judge concluded that "Condé Nast has a likelihood of success on its claims for federal and common law trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition, false endorsement, dilution, false advertising, and violation of [New York General Business Law]".
The musicians and their marketing team confirmed they'd adhere to that order at the time, telling the court: "To avoid unnecessary cost and expense, defendants, pending the outcome of this litigation, but without conceding any liability with respect to the claims asserted by Condé Nast in this action, and without conceding any wrongdoing on their part, consent to the preliminary injunction sought by Condé Nast".
According to Reuters, Condé Nast General Counsel Will Bowes confirmed in a memo to Vogue staff last week that a settlement had now been reached over the wider trademark, unfair competition and false advertising action.
The lawyer wrote "it was clear to us that Drake and 21 Savage leveraged Vogue's reputation for their own commercial purposes and, in the process, confused audiences who trust Vogue as the authoritative voice on fashion and culture".
Although he didn't get into the specifics of the settlement deal, he confirmed that it involved a monetary payment that will "bolster our ongoing creative output, including Vogue editorial". There's also a permanent commitment from Drake et al to never again use the Vogue brand without permission.
Court should dismiss Rockstar song-theft lawsuit against Nickelback, magistrate judge recommends
Kirk Johnston, vocalist with the band Snowblind Revival, went legal in 2020, claiming that Nickelback's 2005 track 'Rockstar' ripped off a song he had written with the same title four years earlier.
Unsurprisingly, the members of Nickelback - who deny having ever heard of the earlier song or Snowblind Revival before Johnston went legal - called for the song-theft lawsuit to be dismissed.
But magistrate judge Susan Hightower, when initially considering the case, said that she wasn't convinced there were grounds for dismissal.
Though, she added at the time, the credibility of Johnston's theory for how Nickelback might have accessed the earlier song was still to be determined. That would depend on what evidence he could provide to back up his claim that his song had likely reached Nickelback via some record label execs he had played it to.
If the evidence backing up that theory was strong, she went on, there were sufficient similarities between the two 'Rockstar' songs for Johnston's claims of copyright infringement to go before a jury.
However, Hightower says in a new written opinion on the case published last week, Johnston has failed to provide good evidence to back up his grand theory. In fact, she writes, "Johnston has presented no probative evidence that defendants had a reasonable opportunity to hear plaintiff's work".
"Viewed in the light most favourable to him, Johnston's evidence at most demonstrates a 'bare possibility of access'", she adds. Regarding the idea that label execs working with Nickelback heard and shared the earlier 'Rockstar' song, "Johnston offers no significantly probative evidence that any of [those] executives actually heard plaintiff's work, much less shared it with Nickelback".
With no real evidence to back up the "they got if via their label" theory, Johnston would need to show that the two 'Rockstar' songs are so similar that those similarities "can only be explained by copying, rather than by coincidence, independent creation or prior common source".
And, Hightower concludes, while there are some similarities between the two songs, those similarities are not that striking. With all that in mind, she recommends that the district court overseeing the dispute grant Nickelback's motion for dismissal.
London's political leaders put event safety in the spotlight following fatal Brixton Academy crowd crush
Two people died during the crowd crush at a sold old Asake show at the Academy on 15 Dec. The venue's licence is currently suspended as police continue with their investigation into what happened on the night.
Reports at the time said that crowd control problems began when some people without tickets tried to force their way into the building.
However, it's since been alleged that other issues could have contributed to the crowd crush, including some security staff knowingly granting admission to people with fake tickets, colluding with the sellers of those fake tickets in return for payment.
A recent session of the elected London Assembly unanimously passed a motion calling on both Lamé and London mayor Sadiq Khan to instigate various measures to ensure that what happened at the Academy in December cannot happen in the capital ever again.
According to a new report on that session in the Evening Standard, the motion was proposed by Conservative Assembly member Shaun Bailey, who said: "London is a 24 hour city and wants to remain that way. The protection of our venues, and how they're administered, is very important".
"Some of you may not know this, but I was a security guard for over ten years, and worked in the most famous venue in probably the whole country - Wembley Stadium and the Arena, and the conference centre as well", he went on. "I've been involved personally in crushes. It is a very scary, very horrible thing to happen".
"As we know", he added, "there's an ongoing police investigation, so we need to be measured in our comments, but the fact that a big part of this investigation is going to look at if security companies, individuals, took bribes or not is very important, because they're the first and last defence of the people, young and old, in that venue. If they're not following the rules, the risk to life is extremely high".
Bailey's motion called on the mayor to work with the local councils of London on a register of night time venues, which should include information on each venue's capacity and licensing conditions.
Assembly members also said that Khan should publish a new edition of his night time economy report 'From Good Night To Great Night' with additional sections on venue safety, and write to the UK government asking for a general review of how licensing and enforcement by councils is ensuring crowd management and public safety.
Lamé, meanwhile, Bailey's motion declared, should meet with police, councils and the biggest security firms to discuss the allegations of security staff colluding in the sale of fake tickets.
And she should also meet with the officials and elected councillors who are responsible for event licensing around London to discuss best practices for preventing overcrowding in venues.
Responding to the Assembly's motion, a spokesperson for Kahn said that the mayor's "thoughts remain with all those affected by the tragic incident at the Brixton Academy on 15 Dec. Serious allegations have been made and they must be properly investigated"
"The mayor and Night Czar support the agreed ongoing suspension of the venue's licence while the Met Police investigation continues and are committed to doing all they can to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again", the spokesperson added.
"That includes continuing to work closely with local authorities, venues, the Security Industry Authority and the police about event safety across the capital".
The Standard's report then adds that "Ms Lamé is understood to be planning a workshop in the coming months with key stakeholders from the events and public safety sectors about event safety in the capital".
Global launches classic rock Radio X spin-off
Accessible via DAB digital radio and online, Radio X Classic Rock is - says Global - "a brand new radio station dedicated to the greatest classic rock music of all time from across the decades, fronted by presenter and music journalist Sunta Templeton".
And if you want a bit more clarity on what that means, well, the artists name-checked in the official launch blurb include Queen, Guns N Roses, Blondie, Thin Lizzy, The Rolling Stones and "the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen".
Says Templeton: "This is an actual dream come true. To quote Joan Jett, I love rock n roll! So I can't wait to blast out the biggest iconic rock anthems on Radio X Classic Rock every day".
Adds Global boss Ashley Tabor-King: "Radio X is going from strength to strength and we're so pleased to launch its natural sister station. Hats off to Matt Deverson and the team for bringing our much appreciated listeners more of what they love".
Matt Deverson, by the way, is Managing Editor of Radio X, who has this to say: "I'm delighted that we can bring our listeners a station dedicated to the A-Z of classic rock - that's from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin!"
"Sunta is the perfect host", he goes on, "a regular festival DJ, Sunta has interviewed some of the biggest rock stars across the world. She knows her stuff and I can't wait for her to guide us through the greatest rock ever. So for those about to rock... we salute you".
The main Radio X channel was launched in 2015, of course, as a revamp of what had been Xfm.
Niall Horan has released new single 'Heaven' and announced that his new solo album 'The Show' will be out on 9 Jun. "There's so much pressure for people to hit certain milestones by a certain age - you get married at this age, buy a house at that age, have kids at some other age", he says of the new track. "But I've never conformed to those ideas, and so I wanted to write about how we all should just focus on enjoying our lives and doing what feels right, instead of worrying about what might be expected of us".
Having released his long-awaited second album 'Quest For Fire' on Friday, Skrillex quickly issued the follow-up on Saturday. Titled 'Don't Get Too Close', the new record features guest appearances from Justin Bieber, PinkPantheress, Kid Cudi, Swae Lee, Trippie Redd, Young Lean and more.
Mimi Webb has released new single 'Roles Reversed'. Her new album 'Amelia' is out on 3 Mar.
Flo Milli has released new single 'Nasty Dancer'.
Having won the latest UK series of 'The Masked Singer' on Saturday, Charlie Simpson has released new EP 'Kifaru'. "I had such a good time on 'The Masked Singer', it was such a crazy ride", he says. "I decided to release some of my favourite songs from the show but in a very stripped-back way, which also captures the ethos of my latest solo record 'Hope Is A Drug', which is my most intimate album yet. I have also added an entirely new version of 'I See You', which was my first release from 'Hope Is A Drug'. I can't wait for people to hear it".
Icona Pop have teamed up with Galantis for new single 'I Want You'. The duo are currently finishing work on a new album.
The Used have announced that they will release their tenth album 'Toxic Positivity' on 19 May and have released new single 'People Are Vomit'.
Eivør has released new single 'The Beloveds', taken from her new album 'The Last Kingdom - Destiny Is All', which is out on 14 Apr.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Musical commissions for the big Coronation confirmed
Among the new music that will be played as the King becomes, well, the King, are six orchestral commissions, five choral commissions and one organ commission. Together, we are told, they encompass "a range of musical styles" and reflect "the King's life-long love and support of music and the arts".
More specifically, there'll be a new Coronation Anthem by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a Coronation March by Patrick Doyle, and a new piece of organ music "embracing musical themes from countries across the Commonwealth" by Iain Farrington
Plus other new works by Sarah Class, Nigel Hess, Paul Mealor, Tarik O'Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley J Thompson, Judith Weir, Roderick Williams and Debbie Wiseman.
Says Lloyd Webber: "I am incredibly honoured to have been asked to compose a new anthem for the Coronation. My anthem includes words slightly adapted from Psalm 98. I have scored it for the Westminster Abbey choir and organ, the ceremonial brass and orchestra. I hope my anthem reflects this joyful occasion". As do we all.
In addition to the music played during the actual Coronation at Westminster Abbey in London on 6 May, there'll be a big old Coronation pop concert at Windsor Castle the following day.
We've been promised a bunch of "musical icons and contemporary stars" as part of that big gig. Maybe that could include another Charlie singing pop hits dressed as a Rhino, you know, just to make sure things are kept classy.
And before all that, there's also that slightly bizarre Coronation playlist that the government's culture department stuck up on Spotify recently.
Minus the Dizzee Rascal track they had to quickly drop from the original tracklist when people starting pointing out it was an odd choice given his conviction for assaulting former fiancée Cassandra Jones was recently upheld in court.