|MONDAY 15 MAY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Over 10,000 letters have been sent to Lambeth Council in support of the Brixton Academy as the local authority considers a request by London's Metropolitan Police to revoke the licence of current operators Academy Music Group. That request was in response to the crowd crush incident that occurred at an Asake show last year and which resulted in two deaths... [READ MORE]|
More than 10,000 letters of support for Brixton Academy sent to Lambeth Council
The south London venue has been closed ever since the crowd crush incident on 15 Dec. It emerged last month that police - who have been busy investigating the events and decisions that led to the crowd crush - had requested that Lambeth Council, which regulates the Brixton Academy, instigate a full review of its current licence. Moreover, the police force recommended that the current licence should be revoked.
At the time, the Live Nation-allied AMG said that it had had "regular meetings and discussions with the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council at which we have presented detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely". It added that it was awaiting feedback on those proposals and that it "looks forward to hearing from the police as soon as possible in constructive terms".
Lambeth Council subsequently published a document that outlines the concerns of the police. Officers argue that AMG's analysis of what went wrong on 15 Dec last year is "far too narrow", focusing mainly on crowd management issues that occurred in the street outside the venue. The police reckon that "what happened inside is as much a part of the incident as what happened outside, if not more so: the fatalities occurred in the foyer".
There have also been allegations that a ticketing scam being run at the venue may have contributed to the crowd crush. In a BBC report it was alleged that some security personnel at the venue were working in partnership with ticket touts, selling fake tickets to shows at the Brixton Academy and then ensuring that those fake tickets got buyers into the building.
That scam could have resulted in the Academy being at capacity on the night of the sell-out Asake show even though there were still legitimate ticket holders in the crowd outside trying to get in.
While the exact circumstances that led to last year's crowd crush remain unclear - pending the findings of the ongoing police investigation - the music community is nevertheless keen to ensure that the Brixton Academy is still able to operate as a venue in the long term.
With that in mind, the Night Time Industries Association last week teamed up with the Save Our Scene campaign and the Brixton BID collective of local businesses to urge music fans and the music community to communicate their support for the Brixton Academy to Lambeth Council. The deadline to formally respond to the Met Police's request for a licence review is midnight tonight.
Text proposed by the three organisations for people to include in their representations to the council notes that the Brixton Academy attracts over 650,000 people and 150 shows a year, and has "cemented itself as one of the most culturally significant performance spaces in the UK".
"Without this venue in London, we would see a huge void in our cultural economy, a considerable gap in touring capability, loss of jobs and one less platform for headline domestic and international artists to perform, losing out to our international counterparts", it goes on.
"This venue is a huge talent bed for new artists, and for many performing within this space it has been a turning point within their career, with many artists today citing this space as one of their pinnacle career moments".
The proposed text also specifically supports AMG. "For decades the Brixton Academy under Academy Music Group management has been a safe and inclusive space for people to enjoy a wide range of cultural activities, from awards, live and recorded music, comedy to corporate events and filming", it states.
"The venue has a considerable workforce and is one of the key employers of young people within the area, supporting a wide range of businesses and freelancers within the local community and across the UK, making a huge contribution to the local and national economy".
Later on the proposed text adds: "I have not lost sight of the tragic incident that occurred in December, but would respectfully ask you to consider working with AMG and the venue to learn from what has happened and enhance the licence to ensure that this could never happen again".
It was the NTIA which confirmed earlier today that over 10,000 representations have now been made in support of the Brixton Academy. Meanwhile, an online petition calling on the council to ensure that the venue can continue operating has now passed 103,000 signatures.
"The outcry from the music community has been extremely humbling, with over 10,000 responses in just a few days, this level of response really shows the emotional connection that this venue has with music fans across the UK and around the world", says NTIA boss Michael Kill.
"I have had hundreds of conversations with people on this campaign journey, across all walks of life - journalists, bankers, nurses, builders, baristas - some who have been to a show or planned to go to a show in the future or had shared an important life experience within it. The Brixton Academy is a huge part of the social and cultural economy within London and the UK, and is without doubt one of the landmark performance spaces in the world".
"The potential loss of this venue would be catastrophic for the industry", he adds. "Most people who are engaged with this campaign are angered and shocked that this venue could be lost forever. We want to again urge all involved to step forward and engage in productive and meaningful discussions, with an aim to resolve the current challenges and present a unified position on delivering the safe and effective management of this space in the future".
US judge declines to reverse $47 million copyright judgement against ISP Grande Communications
Grande - which rebranded as Astound Broadband last year - was one of the ISPs sued by the American music industry for not doing enough to combat copyright infringement and infringers on its networks.
As with the precedent setting legal battle in this domain - against Cox Communications - the record companies argued that Grande did not do enough to deal with repeat infringers among its customer base to avoid liability for its users' infringement via the copyright safe harbour.
Last year a jury ordered Grande to pay the labels $46.8 million in damages in relation to the 1400 tracks which the music companies said had been distributed across the ISP's networks without licence.
Earlier this year Grande asked the judge overseeing the case to overturn that ruling as a matter of law, on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's decision.
The net firm's lawyers argued that the labels had failed to provide sufficient evidence that the 1400 tracks in question had been infringed on its networks; that Grande was wilfully blind to the direct infringement of their copyrights; that Grande contributed to that infringement; that separate statutory damages were due on each and every track; or that they even owned the copyright in the 1400 recordings.
Surely one of those things was enough to justify overturning the jury's decision or ordering a retrial, the ISP said. But no. None of those arguments have convinced judge David Alan Ezra to intervene.
"Plaintiffs provided sufficient evidence for the jury to find that Grande's users committed direct infringement", the judge wrote in a ruling last week. And "the jury had a legally sufficient basis to find either knowledge or wilful blindness".
Ezra cited the Cox Communications case to back up the contributory infringement point and other case law to conclude that it was fine for the jury to award separate statutory damages on each of the individual tracks that had been accessed or distributed without licence by Grande customers. And on the last of Grande's gripes, "plaintiffs presented unrebutted evidence of ownership".
With all that in mind, Ezra concluded: "Neither Grande's legal nor evidentiary arguments warrant judgment as a matter of law or a new trial". Which likely means that the ISP will now take the case over to the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court.
Judge provides preliminary approval of settlement in the MoFi misleading marketing case
The mastering processes employed by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab – aka MoFi – became a talking point online last summer. It's a company that specialises in pressing up high quality reissues of records for the community of music fans that like such things.
The online chatter was caused by the revelation that the company had started using direct stream digital - or DSD - technology when mastering many of its releases in 2011. However, this had not been reflected in the firm's marketing copy.
As the resulting controversy began to build within the audiophile community, MoFi President Jim Davis posted a statement declaring: "We apologise for using vague language, allowing false narratives to propagate, and for taking for granted the goodwill and trust our customers place in the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab brand".
Legal action then followed, with multiple lawsuits being filed, all seeking class action status so that anyone who bought a MoFi disc that had been misleadingly promoted could benefit.
Earlier this year, it emerged that a settlement deal had been negotiated in one of those lawsuits, which had been filed in the US state of Washington. Worth $25 million, the deal would allow affected customers to return any records they had bought for a full refund, or to keep the records and get a partial refund or a voucher for a future purchase.
That deal was pretty much agreed in January but was pending court approval, with a few technicalities to be sorted out. However, given that deal would benefit all customers affected by MoFi's misleading marketing, the music company argued that all the other class actions - including one in its home state of Illinois - should be paused.
It then transpired that the plaintiffs in the Illinois case were trying to block the deal in the Washington litigation. That was based on the argument that what had been agreed in that case didn't provide adequate relief to the class members and was the result of "a collusive reverse auction".
That's a scenario that can occur when multiple class action lawsuits are filed with US courts in relation to the same dispute. Plaintiffs might then cherry pick one of the lawsuits based on their belief that it is being led by the least capable legal team.
The hope is that those less capable lawyers will then settle for a lower price, especially if the attorneys themselves are assured a decent fee as part of the deal. And once that class action is settled, the plaintiff can call for all the other lawsuits to be dismissed.
However, according to Law360, the judge overseeing the case in Washington has concluded that that didn't happen here. The lawyers repping the plaintiffs in that lawsuit "boast a record of effective class action advocacy" the judge said. Plus MoFi's lawyers prioritised this particular lawsuit simply because it was the first to be filed.
So that seems like good news for MoFi and the plaintiffs in the Washington case. Though final court approval of the deal won't come until later this year.
PRS Foundation unveils report on the impact of its Momentum Music Fund
Originally with primary funding from Arts Council England, and now supported by collecting society PPL - as well as Creative Wales, Arts Council Of Northern Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland and Spotify - the Momentum scheme "provides career-boosting grants of between £5000-£15,000 to acts at a pivotal time in their creative and business development".
Over its first decade in existence, the fund has awarded £5.2 million to 526 artists across the UK, helping support the production of 275 albums - including Mercury Prize shortlisted records - and over 300 tours and 1600 shows.
The stats published last week also demonstrate how the fund seeks to help facilitate more diversity in the music industry.
The Foundation said that 49.5% of Momentum grants have been awarded to artists of black, Asian or other ethnically diverse heritage; 51% of grants have gone to artists based outside London; and 47.9% of grantees identify as women, gender expansive artists or are in mixed gender groups.
Commenting on the new report, PRS Foundation CEO Joe Frankland said: "The PPL Momentum Music Fund reaching ten years is a fantastic milestone and it's clear to see the impact it continues to have on the UK music industry. It's been a vital stepping-stone for so many incredible artists who have gone on to top the charts, sell out shows around the world and scoop multiple music awards".
"I'm proud that this work has changed the funding game", he went on, "helping artists and songwriters to create and perform outstanding new music while developing sustainable careers which has a knock-on impact for their teams and for the wider music industry".
He then concluded: "I'd like to thank PPL, Creative Wales, Arts Council Of Northern Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland, Spotify, PRS For Music as well as Arts Council England and all the partners through the years whose support has enabled this ground-breaking fund to be as impactful as possible".
TikTok launches #NewMusic Hub
The new hub utilises the existing #NewMusic hashtag that is used by artists and labels within the TikTok app to tag the latest releases and which, says TikTok, "has already amassed over nineteen billion views on the platform".
"Whether you're looking for new music from a major artist like Lewis Capaldi's 'Wish You The Best', or emerging artists like D4vd's 'Petals to Thorns' or Astrid S's 'Darkest Hour', TikTok is the ultimate treasure trove for hot new tracks and new discoveries", the official blurb goes on. "The new #NewMusic hub will pull these new releases into one place to make them easier to find and enjoy for new music fans".
To promote the launch of the new hub, TikTok has also announced partnerships with the Jonas Brothers, Miguel and Niall Horan because, well, why not? Who would want launch a new music-centric hub on a sometimes controversial video-sharing app without the involvement of the Jonas Brothers, Miguel and Niall Horan? Not I.
"We are THRILLED to launch the #NewMusic Hub, which celebrates and champions artists of all genres, from up-and-coming talent to international superstars", adds Paul Hourican, TikTok's Global Head Of Music Content & Partnerships.
"TikTok is already a destination for artists who want to preview their newest works and for music fans looking to discover new music", he goes on, "and this new feature will give artists a new way to connect with our global community. It presents an exciting opportunity to inspire artist creativity, spark connections, and foster a diverse musical landscape that embraces the unique talents and passions of artists and fans".
S Club confirm reunion tour will proceed following Paul Cattermole's death
The reunion shows that would have involved all seven members of the pop group were announced back in February, just two months before Cattermole's death.
When confirming on Instagram yesterday that the tour will still go ahead, Tina Barrett, Jon Lee, Bradley McIntosh, Jo O'Meara and Rachel Stevens all paid tribute to their late bandmate.
According to NME, McIntosh said that the group's members were still in "disbelief" about Cattermole's death, adding: "No one could ever replace our Paul, but he lives on inside each and every one of us".
Meanwhile, Stevens said: "He's always going to be with us. He was such a big part of this tour, so involved in everything that we are planning. And we are just going to keep his memory alive and share it with all of you and it's going to make it even more special".
On Spearritt's decision not to take part, Lee explained: "You've probably noticed that there's only five of us here today, and although Hannah will always be part of S Club 7 she won't be joining us on this tour. We wish her all the best for the future. However, the five of us are really excited and geared up".
The tour has been renamed as the Good Times Tour, after the S Club track on which Cattermole sang lead vocals.
Pendulum have signed a new worldwide record deal with Mushroom Group and Universal Music's label services division Virgin Music - the first joint venture signing between the two businesses. "We are pleased to be joining forces with Mushroom [and] Virgin and reuniting with [Mushroom boss] Korda Marshall, a visionary who played a pivotal role in our journey back in 2006", says Pendulum's Rob Swire.
BDi Music has signed multi-instrumentalist, music director, composer, producer and songwriter Ben Lythe to an exclusive worldwide publishing deal. "Ben is a multi-talented individual with a heart of gold", says BDi Music A&R James Paterson. "His ability to turn his hand to multiple facets of music creation is truly rare and awe-inspiring. The songwriters and artists Ben has worked with to shape their sound in the industry will testify to what a talent he is".
Warner Music Middle East has signed Lebanese singer and TV presenter Maya Diab to a record deal, with a new EP set to be released later this year. "Maya is an exceptional artist - she has an amazing voice and a powerful stage performance", says the major's President Of Emerging Markets Alfonso Perez-Soto. "I can't wait for everyone to be able to hear her new EP later this year and for the impact our partnership will bring to her music style and reach".
Garrett Levin, the boss of the US-based Digital Media Association or DiMA - the trade body for streaming services - has announced he is standing down. In a post on LinkedIn he wrote: "This summer, my family and I will be relocating to Geneva, Switzerland because of my wife's job. In conjunction with that relocation, I will be concluding my tenure as President and CEO of The Digital Media Association. I will continue leading DiMA through my departure as the DiMA board conducts a search for a replacement".
Various Artists Management last week announced that Kirsty McDonagh has joined the company as a Senior Manager, a role that will see her working day to day with Tom Grennan, Melanie C, Caseyette, Kingdoms, Rndmbeats and Liv Dawson. She previously worked at Insanity Group. "I'm really happy that Kirsty is joining us at Various Artists", says the management firm's UK MD John Dawkins. "She is an amazing manager who will bring energy and passion to our team and will add real value to our roster of artists".
Warner's Elektra Entertainment in the US last week announced three promotions, with Chris Brown becoming EVP of the division and Co-Head Of Roadrunner Records; Katie Robinson moving up to a Head Of Marketing role, overseeing campaigns for the entire Elektra Entertainment roster; and Johnny Minardi getting three job titles - Head Of Fueled By Ramen, Co-Head of Roadrunner Records and SVP of A&R for the division. "It's been a privilege to watch Chris, Katie, and Johnny grow into their own as leaders - Elektra wouldn't be what it is today without them", says Elektra Entertainment President Gregg Nadel.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Sweden's Loreen wins Eurovision for the second time, UK comes second from last
Speaking at a press conference following the show, Loreen said: "Everything feels surreal. I am seriously overwhelmed. This is so beautiful. One feeling I have in my body that's taken over is just gratitude".
She previously won in 2012 with the (far better) song 'Euphoria' and had been the favourite to take the trophy again throughout the run-up to this year's Eurovision. Taking a strong lead in the jury voting, once the tally from the public vote was added she was 57 points ahead of second place Finland and 221 above Israel in third place.
"In 2012 everything was new for me", she told reporters. "This time it's like coming back to a family. We know each other by now. This experience was more motherly and effortless".
The UK was hosting the event on behalf of last year's winner, Ukraine, which was unable to stage the Contest due to its ongoing conflict with Russia.
Throughout this year's proceedings, Ukraine was celebrated as much as possible without breaking the competition's rules on remaining non-political. And Ukraine itself finished sixth in the grand final.
Overall, it was a slick and entertaining show, showing off the BBC at its best and highlighting why the UK really should make an effort to win Eurovision a bit more often. Even the usually fairly tedious jury voting section was made highly entertaining by the duo of Hannah Waddingham and Graham Norton.
All of which means it's a shame that - after last year's triumph with Sam Ryder achieving second place - the UK was back in the more familiar position of second from bottom.
The UK's result seemed somewhat unfair given the song that was entered, with somewhere around the middle of the table feeling more appropriate. Still, there were a number of reasons why Mae Miller didn't do well when it came to the voting.
It is true that the song itself was a key part of the problem; it simply did not seem to meet the mark. It also didn't really feel like a Eurovision song - where largely lyrics proffering positivity and love win out, yet the UK sent one about getting revenge on an ex. Simple messages also go over well with the highly international audience, and 'I Wrote A Song' was full of lyrics tailored to British ears.
Not that many people would have been able to pick out many of those lyrics, thanks to a lacklustre sound mix for Miller's performance. This was another issue. Plus she also performed last, which tends not to lead to victory, people already having picked favourites by that point, making it especially difficult for Miller as several similar and arguably better songs had already been performed.
And - if you want to get nerdy - the song's tempo was dangerously close to 128bpm, which has historically been less successful at Eurovision.
Hopefully this doesn't send the UK back to its previous position of just not bothering to put the effort in at Eurovision because we're convinced we'll lose anyway.
Sam Ryder's success in 2022 shows that it isn't a given that the UK won't do well. And it really would be nice to see the event take place in the UK again based on an actual win - the last time that happened was in 1998, following Katrina And the Wave's victory the previous year.