TODAY'S TOP STORY: The political pressure on TikTok continues to mount with the US state of Montana passing legislation seeking to ban use of the video-sharing app... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Montana law-makers pass TikTok ban
LEGAL Judge seems unconvinced that Youtube Content ID dispute should be granted class action status
LIVE BUSINESS Promoter says UK visa refusals for Ukrainian orchestra resulted in losses of over 100,000 euros
Secret Garden Party confirms social enterprise plan

DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Drake says AI generated Ice Spice cover is "the final straw"
ARTIST NEWS The Script's Mark Sheehan dies
GIGS & FESTIVALS Take That and Katy Perry among first names announced for Coronation Concert
AND FINALLY... Spotify to shut down Heardle
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Montana law-makers pass TikTok ban
The political pressure on TikTok continues to mount with the US state of Montana passing legislation seeking to ban use of the video-sharing app.

Politicians in multiple countries have raised concerns that the Chinese government has access to TikTok user data via its China-based owner Bytedance. TikTok strongly denies that is the case, but a number of governments and a few media organisations around the world have now banned their employees from using the app on official work devices.

Meanwhile, some politicians have been busy calling for much more wide-ranging restrictions on TikTok use, including maybe following India's lead in instigating an out-right ban.

When then US President Donald Trump tried that back in 2020, his proposed ban stalled amid legal challenges in the courts. But there is now cross party support in US Congress for changing the law to clarify current President Joe Biden's powers in this domain.

Meanwhile, law-makers in Montana are seeking to constrain the use of TikTok at a state level. The proposed new law there - which has passed both chambers of the state legislature but needs governor approval - would specifically stop new downloads of the app from the Apple and Android app stores.

Supporters of the new law cite both the usual data security concerns and also TikTok's alleged failure to deal with some harmful content, such as videos encouraging people to take part in "dangerous activities".

Quite how the ban would work in practical terms isn't clear, though it would be app store operators and TikTok that would be fined if the app continued to be downloaded, not individual users.

The plan is for the ban to go into effect at the start of next year, though there will likely be legal challenges before then arguing that the new law is unconstitutional, as happened with the Trump ban in 2020.

TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter says: "The bill's champions have admitted that they have no feasible plan for operationalising this attempt to censor American voices and that the bill's constitutionality will be decided by the courts. We will continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach".


Judge seems unconvinced that Youtube Content ID dispute should be granted class action status
A US judge seemed to indicate last week that he isn't convinced that an ongoing legal battle over who has access to YouTube's Content ID system should be certified as a class action.

This all relates to the lawsuit originally filed by musician Maria Schneider. She, and other independent creators, take issue with the fact that - while bigger copyright owners and content aggregators get access to YouTube's Content ID rights management system - independent creators and smaller rights owners do not.

They either have to ally with a bigger entity that has Content ID access, or manually file takedown notices in relation to any videos uploaded to YouTube that contain music or other copyright protected material without licence. But, Team Schneider argues, YouTube's manual takedown system is cumbersome and impractical.

YouTube, of course, is obliged to remove copyright infringing material from its platform when made aware of it in order to qualify for safe harbour protection from liability for any infringing uploads. The argument goes that, for copyright owners not granted Content ID access, the Google video site isn't doing enough to meet that obligation.

There are other elements to the legal dispute too, including allegations that YouTube removes some key copyright data from files on its platform, such as the ISRC that identifies a recording.

All of this has been rumbling on for some time. Schneider and the other copyright owners now associated with the lawsuit want it to be granted class action status, so that any positive result in court could benefit other creators and rights-owners who do not have Content ID access.

However, according to Law360, at a hearing last week district judge James Donato seemed to think that class action status was not appropriate.

The judge said that issues identifying who owns and controls any one copyright raised in any one complaint, and assessing whether any one video actually infringes copyright, probably needs to be done on a case by case basis, rather than for an entire class of plaintiffs.

Although Donato did not actually make a final judgement on the bid for class action status, he did say: "I just don't see how you're going to prove on a class-wide basis that works were infringed".

We now await a formal decision on this matter.


Promoter says UK visa refusals for Ukrainian orchestra resulted in losses of over 100,000 euros
Ukraine's Khmelnitsky Orchestra were forced to postpone some UK shows earlier this month after some of its members were refused visas to enter the country. Promoter Star Entertainment says that resolving the situation has cost it over 100,000 euros.

The orchestra was due to begin a tour of the UK on 1 Apr with two shows playing music from the 'Harry Potter' and 'Lord Of The Rings' films. However, the day before the first performance, several key members had still not been granted visas, Star has now revealed.

Three days later they were informed that they would have to pay 15,000 euros for emergency visas, which still were not issued in the 24 hour timeframe promised. Star says that it only managed to secure the visas after it asked the British embassy to provide a statement to include in a press release informing the media of the issues.

This situation is particularly irritating, the company says, because the British government had previously promoted the tour on its website as an example of how good British-Ukrainian relations are right now.

"They made a big deal out of supporting the Ukrainians but when it came to giving them visas to play in the UK, they didn't want to know", Star's chief executive Jaka Bizilj tells The Guardian.

"Those responsible for cutting off artists and culture from the UK should be named and held accountable", he adds. "Bands, musicians and orchestras will not come to the UK any more for risk of not being let in".

It also emerged earlier this month that German band Trigger Cut had been turned away at the UK border, after border officials learned that all three members have jobs outside of music.

In a statement, a government spokesperson says: "Musicians and performers are a valued and important part of UK culture with the country attracting world-class entertainers and musicians from around the globe".

"This is why we offer a dedicated immigration route for creative workers. All visa applications are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with the immigration rules".

"Where there are delays in the processing of applications, we will always endeavour to identify how such issues can be avoided in the near future through improvements to our back office function and capability", they add.

In the end, the first night of the Khmelnitsky Orchestra in Portsmouth did go ahead, after temporary musicians were brought in to sight read the parts that would have been played by those members still stuck outside the UK.

This resulted in many audience members demanding refunds, says Star. Two further shows were then postponed.


Secret Garden Party confirms social enterprise plan
Organisers of the Secret Garden Party - which returned last year after a five year hiatus - last week announced that the festival is becoming a social enterprise, with at least 65% of the event's profits set to be donated to projects and causes that help in the "rehabilitation of at risk and disenfranchised individuals via the arts". Artists who play at the festival and people who attend will have a role in picking the charities that are supported.

Says festival founder Freddie Fellowes: "SGP has always been founded on a principle of inclusivity. This is a word that's meaning has evolved and grown up along with us. As a result, we deeply understand how much work and effort is involved in ensuring that a party is truly inclusive. Recently much has been noted regarding how inclusive the music industry is - or isn't - and this set us thinking about how much more we could go with our core principles of being progressive, inclusive, and relevant".

"Rich kids being able to do art for a living may be a reflection of their privilege", he goes on, "but it seems to me like a reflection of the fact that a human that doesn't have to worry about money will often choose art. Everyone is an artist until rent is due. I wish we all had that right".

"It is exciting to continue to show that there is another way to run live events and we know that 'why' things are done is as important to our audience as the 'how'", he continues. "So, making this pledge to play it forward is something I see as vital right now".


Drake says AI generated Ice Spice cover is "the final straw"
Drake has commented on an AI-generated recording of him rapping Ice Spice's track 'Munch (Feelin U)'. Is he impressed and excited about the possibilities presented by this rapidly evolving technology? No, he is not. Posting on Instagram, he said that "this is the final straw".

Being quite popular, Drake has seen his voice used to create AI-generated covers of various songs in recent months. Through the technology, he has unwittingly re-voiced tracks by artists from Cardi B to Justin Bieber.

Given his short response to this latest AI-generated track, it's unclear if Drake is more annoyed about the robots stealing his voice or the fact they made it look like he was covering Ice Spice's record.

He was an early supporter of the relatively new rapper, playing 'Munch' on his Sirius XM show last year. There was then speculation that the two had fallen out after he unfollowed her on Instagram - although he later re-followed her.

His comment comes just days after it emerged that his label, Universal Music, had written to the major streaming platforms urging them to block makers of AI technologies from scraping their catalogues in order to train those tools.

The prevalence of tracks like this AI-made Drake cover of Ice Spice suggests that it might be a bit late for that now.


Setlist: Live from Wide Days 2023
A special edition of the show recorded live at Wide Days in Edinburgh. CMU's Chris Cooke is joined on stage by Clara Cullen from Music Venue Trust, Toni Malyn from EmuBands and Silvia Montello from AIM.

As Setlist returns after a short break, our guests dissect three topics that have been big talking points within the music industry in recent months: the ongoing challenges in the live sector, the debate around making streaming more "artist-centric", and the increasingly urgent discussions about music-making AI.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here.

The Script's Mark Sheehan dies
The Script's guitarist Mark Sheehan has died, aged 46, following a short illness, the band announced over the weekend.

In a statement on social media, the Irish band said: "Much loved husband, father, brother, bandmate and friend Mark Sheehan passed away today in hospital after a brief illness. The family and group ask fans to respect their privacy at this tragic time".

Joining tributes, Irish president Michael D Higgins said: "It was a mark of the originality and excellence that Mark and his bandmates in The Script sought that they saw such success across the world, including six number one albums in the UK and a number three album in the United States - a truly remarkable achievement".

"Through their music, Mark and The Script have played an outstanding part in continuing and promoting this proud tradition of Irish musical success across the world", he added.

Sheehan formed boyband Mytown with vocalist Danny O'Donoghue in 1996, working in LA for a number of years. When the project came to an end, Sheehan and O'Donoghue returned to Ireland and formed The Script with drummer Glen Power.

The band released their eponymous debut album in 2008, topping the charts in Ireland and the UK. They have released six albums - most recently 'Sunsets & Full Moons' in 2019.


Take That and Katy Perry among first names announced for Coronation Concert
After something of a struggle finding big name artists willing to do it, the BBC has announced the initial line-up for the Coronation Concert. The show will take place alongside the official crowning of King Charles III next month.

Set to headline the show are Take That, with other sets performed by Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Andrea Bocelli, Bryn Terfel, Freya Ridings and Alexis Ffrench. Further names are still to be announced.

It will take place on Sunday 7 May in the grounds of Windsor Castle, the day after the actual coronation, and the show will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC Radio 2 - as well as being available via the iPlayer and BBC Sounds.

Watching live will be King Charles and Queen Camilla, as well as 20,000 members of the public and other invited guests.

Says the BBC: "The concert will celebrate a new chapter in the nation's history, with themes of love, respect and optimism, celebrating the four nations, their communities and the Commonwealth".

In the line-up announcement, Take That are being billed as a trio. However, a post on the group's Twitter account last week suggested that a reunion of all five original members could be on the cards.

One of those members, Robbie Williams, is one of the numerous artists who had reportedly turned down playing the show. Others include Ed Sheeran, Adele, Elton John, The Spice Girls, Harry Styles and Kylie Minogue.

Although the excuses given are usually related to scheduling, there has been speculation that many artists are wary of associating themselves with the royals at a time of various controversies.


Spotify to shut down Heardle
And today in Spotify acquisitions being shut down news we have Heardle which, you may have heard(le) is coming to an end next month.

Heardle was originally an independent venture, a 'name that tune' type quiz seeking to build on the late-2021/early-2022 hype surrounding the word game Wordle.

When Spotify acquired the somewhat gimmicky game in July last year, the streaming firm said: "Passion for music runs deep - and so does showing off those skills in musical trivia. Millions do just that with Heardle, a daily music game. And at Spotify, we love all things music - and all things music trivia - which is why we're excited to announce that the beloved interactive music trivia game will be joining Spotify".

Not only that, Spotify insisted that "we see Heardle as more than a trivia game: It's also a tool for musical discovery". Yeah, maybe. Or maybe not. Either way, the streaming firm said last week "after careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to say goodbye to Heardle as we focus our efforts on other features for music discovery".

So, that's that then. Spotify also recently announced it is closing down its standalone live audio app Spotify Live, which was built on the back of another high profile acquisition that was in part motivated by a short-lived internet fad. In that case the acquisition was Clubhouse competitor Locker Room.


ANDY MALT heads up our editorial operations, overseeing the CMU Dailywebsite and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE is co-Founder and MD of CMU - he continues to write key business news stories, and runs training, research and event projects for the CMU Insights consultancy unit and CMU:DIY future talent programme.
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SAM TAYLOR leads on the commerical side of CMU, overseeing sales, sponsorship and business development, as well as heading up training, research and event projects at our consultancy unit CMU Insights.
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CARO MOSES is Editor of CMU's sister media ThisWeek Culture and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh. Having previously also written and edited articles for CMU, she continues to advise and support our operations.
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