|MONDAY 3 JULY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Night Time Industries Association and the founder of Manchester festival Parklife, Sacha Lord, have confirmed that they are seeking a judicial review of the UK government's current position regarding onsite drug testing at music festivals... [READ MORE]|
NTIA seeks judicial review on government's "reckless" festival drug testing policy
Ahead of that, they have called on the government's Home Office to voluntarily reverse that position so that drug testing can go ahead as planned at various festivals this summer.
A number of festivals now test drugs on-site to assess whether there are any substances in circulation that could pose a heightened risk to those consuming them. In some cases, the drugs are provided for testing by festival-goers, sometimes anonymously, or - more commonly at UK festivals - the experts analyse drugs that have been confiscated by police and security.
Either way, any information about substances that could pose a heightened risk is pushed out through social media, and provided to police and on-site medical personnel. That work can prevent harm and save lives by ensuring any heightened risk is known.
Manchester's Parklife festival has previously undertaken work of that kind in partnership with drug testing charity The Loop and in liaison with the city's police force. However, this year it was told that a licence was also required directly from the Home Office. Given that getting that licence can take up to three months, the event wasn't able to carry out any drug testing this year.
In a statement earlier today, the NTIA and Lord - who is also night-time economy advisor for Manchester - stated: "Since 2014 there have been on-site drug testing labs at music festivals in the UK. The service has been provided with the agreement of local police and councils by way of a memorandum of understanding with festival organisers and the drug testing companies".
"Operating on a cross-agency basis means information about dangerous drugs circulating at an event can be passed on to festival-goers, organisers, police and medical services while any harmful substances can be destroyed or passed to the police", they went on.
"On-site testing also enables medical teams to treat anyone who has an adverse reaction quickly and effectively because they will already be aware of the drugs chemical composition".
Lord himself added: "This on-site testing has saved lives and the absence of it puts lives at risk".
The Home Office insists that it hasn't changed its position and that licences have always been required to undertake drug testing at festivals. And therefore it didn't abruptly change the rules days before this year's Parklife, preventing drug testing from taking place at that event and other 2023 festivals.
However, in their letter, the NTIA and Lord point to previous discussions about drug testing at festivals in Parliament, some involving relevant ministers. Those included discussions about local police forces taking the lead in this work. And yet during those discussions, the requirement for licences from the Home Office wasn't stated.
Beyond festivals needing up to three months to even get a licence, that requirement poses other challenges. First, the licence costs thousands of pounds, which is an issue for festivals operating on tight profit margins. Plus it requires that a permanent location for the testing be identified, which clearly doesn't work for testing that will take place on-site at festivals.
Setting out its demands, the letter states: "We request that the Home Office considers resolving this matter by consent, reaching an agreement that on-site drug testing by organisations continues by agreeing a memorandum of understanding".
"Should the Home Office wish to pursue its current stated position that on-site drugs testing requires a Controlled Drugs Licence and a fixed premises", it adds, "then it should undertake a consultation exercise so as to reach a rational decision taking into account relevant considerations and allowing these organisations sufficient time to comply with the government's decision".
It then concludes that "in the absence of any/any satisfactory response we will have no option but to issue proceedings for the judicial review of the Home Office's decision". Which would basically mean the NTIA and Lord asking the courts to intervene.
Says NTIA CEO Michael Kill: "The Home Office must reverse their decision for 2023 and consider the true impact of withdrawing a practice which has been operating safely in some regions for over ten years, with the full knowledge and support of the police and local authorities".
"The festivals and events sector work extremely hard to ensure festival-goers are kept safe", he goes on, "and rely heavily on back-of-house drug testing as a vital part of the overarching harm reduction strategy. Without this facility we are putting people's lives at risk, leaving a considerable void in drug intelligence for police and medical support services on the ground for the rest of the 2023 season".
Lord adds: "The Home Office must put an end to this reckless disregard for the safety of festival-goers and reinstate the existing memorandum of understanding with immediate effect. The industry works tirelessly to ensure we do everything possible to safeguard the public. If the Home Office continues not to support us in this vital work we will be left with no other choice but to call for a full investigation and consultation".
The NTIA and Lord already have some support in Parliament. Last month Sam Tarry MP organised a letter - signed by a number of MPs and musicians - which told the Home Office: "The decision to prevent this testing from going ahead is short-sighted and dangerous. We urge you to reconsider this decision and allow this vital testing to continue".
Night & Day noise abatement notice dispute heads back to court this week
That update begins by providing some background to the legal dispute. "More than eighteen months ago Manchester City Council served a noise abatement notice on us based on a single noise complaint from a resident", it explains.
"N&D has continued to operate in exactly the same manner during this period and exactly the same as it has done previously for over 30 years. The resident who complained moved out several months ago and we've not received any further noise complaints".
Complying with the order would force Night & Day to change its late night operations which could in turn make the venue's business unviable.
Critics of the council point out that the venue had been in operation for decades before the complainant moved into the adjacent property. And, indeed, venues like Night & Day helped to turn a run-down part of Manchester into a vibrant cultural hub where people want to live.
Not only that but, as last week's update says, "N&D maintains that the source of this problem is that no acoustic consideration was given during the planning and development stages of the apartments next to the pre-existing venue N&D. This is confirmed within the apartments planning file held today at MCC Planning Portal".
The dispute initially got to the magistrate's court in Manchester last November. After a pause, the hearing was meant to resume in January, but that was postponed to March to allow talks between the venue and council to continue. At the March hearing the case was again adjourned with the judge ordering that more testing of noise levels at the venue be carried out.
It remains to be seen what now happens as the matter returns to the magistrate's court for a third time. The venue's update from last week concludes: "We head back to court next week for a three day hearing, hopeful that this matter will finally be resolved and enable N&D to continue doing what it does best - putting on bands, nurturing culture and creativity, and putting smiles on the faces of the people that visit the venue".
Tiny Engines relaunches under new management structure
In a series of Tweets, Adult Mom founder Stevie Knipe said there had been issues regarding the reporting and payment of royalties due from recordings released by the label. That had then led to a dispute with label owner Chuck Daley over ownership of the Adult Mom masters. Other artists then made statements expressing similar grievances.
The label is being relaunched under the sole management of Will Miller, who was previously a co-owner with Daley. According to an Instagram post, past financial issues have been addressed and artist deals renegotiated, with most of those deals now seemingly licensing arrangements where the artist rather than the label is the actual copyright owner.
In a statement published by Pitchfork, Miller says: "After leaving the day-to-day operations of Tiny Engines at the beginning of 2020, I was excited to come home last year to revive the label and return to our roots".
"When the opportunity arose for me to acquire sole ownership of Tiny Engines the prospect of restoring the label was something I felt a responsibility to pursue", he goes on. "I am committed to making sure artists and their records are being cared for properly and treated with the required respect".
"I also want to ensure that artists are being paid what they are owed. I have spent the last year plus making sure all of this happens going forward.
"To the artists and fans of the label, I am deeply sorry that it took so long to get to this point but we are finally here. We will work hard to re-establish Tiny Engines and be a positive force moving forward".
"You the fan owe us nothing", he concludes. "We will seek to regain your trust in our actions as a label and in how we treat our artists. If you do not want to support Tiny Engines please continue to support the artists in any way you can".
UK Music backs Counter Terrorism Policing awareness campaign aimed at gig-goers
The Counter Terrorism Policing unit describes its remit as being "at the forefront of the UK's work to confront terrorism, operating around the clock to prevent, disrupt and investigate dangerous extremists - whatever their ideology".
In a statement last week, it confirmed that it is "working with the UK's live music industry this summer and beyond, as live music fans are asked to play their part in keeping people safe".
It added that UK Music - as well as Live Nation's Festival Republic, The O2 venue and others - are "supporting Counter Terrorism Policing's #BeSafeBeSound campaign which highlights the importance of reporting suspicious activity".
Counter Terrorism Policing's Laurence Taylor explains: "The terrorist threat remains a reality. Since 2017 we have disrupted almost 40 late-stage terror attacks alongside our colleagues at MI5. Whilst there is no specific intelligence to indicate an increased threat to live music events, the UK's terrorism threat level remains at substantial".
"Our casework indicates that large events remain potentially attractive targets to terrorists and it's absolutely vital that the public are vigilant this summer", he adds. "We have a brilliant range of partners and organisations on board this year who are helping us make sure live music fans know what to do if they see something that doesn't feel right. Our advice is to always tell security or speak to the police".
"Whilst we are working around the clock to detect new threats and disrupt terrorist activity, the intelligence and information we receive from the public should not be underestimated", he continues. "Around a fifth of the online reports and calls we receive every year are particularly useful to us - turning into arrests, building intelligence pictures or kickstarting new investigations".
The #BeSafeBeSound campaign was first launched in 2021 and, Counter Terrorism Policing says, it "urges music lovers to stay alert to any signs of hostile reconnaissance and follow safety advice or security procedures in place at events and venues. Since its launch, the campaign has reached over ten million people in the UK via social media and other platforms".
Confirming its support for the scheme, UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin says: "We all want live music events to be as safe as possible, so UK Music is delighted to support the #BeSafeBeSound campaign".
"Each of us has a role to play in keeping each other safe at concerts and festivals - whether that is fans staying vigilant and reporting suspicious activity, or event organisers sharing these important security messages with their audiences".
"Whilst the police and other agencies are working hard to protect us", he goes on, "we all have a responsibility to do what we can to help keep each other safe at live events".
Council leader would support Download 2024 cancellation if traffic issues aren't addressed
That confirmation came as the leader of Leicestershire County Council said that changes would need to be implemented in 2024 or he'll push for "the damn thing" to be "cancelled".
Festival-goers arriving for Download 2023 at Leicestershire's Donington Park on 7 and 8 Jun caused long delays on many roads near the site, including the M1, A50 and A453. The congestion affected the festival-goers themselves, but also local residents and people heading to the nearby East Midlands Airport.
According to the BBC, leader of Leicestershire County Council Nick Rushton said: "Hundreds of people emailed me from their cars, phoned me from their cars, people trying to get to the airport. 600 people actually missed flights. It was an absolute disaster".
To further illustrate the point, he said that it had taken his lawyer two and half hours to drive what should have been a ten minute journey.
"Something's got to change for next year otherwise I'll be pressing that the damn thing is cancelled", the councillor added. Although, he did concede that management at Donington "are pretty good operators" and that he was confident the issues could be addressed next year "with a bit of controlling".
A spokesperson for festival promoter Live Nation said last week: "We recognise that the level of traffic congestion was unprecedented and not acceptable due to the effect it had on our customers and the local community".
"As organisers of the festival", they added, "we have committed to a full review of the traffic management plan and information that was provided to ticket holders relating to the route to designated car parks".
This year's Download had an additional day of programming on the Thursday as part of 20th anniversary celebrations. However, the festival's campsite still opened at midday on the Wednesday as usual, which may have contributed to the heightened congestion.
Live Nation have confirmed that the event will return to its usual three day format next year with the campsite opening two days before performances begin, which should help spread out people arriving at Donington Park.
TikTok owner Bytedance unveils Ripple app that turns humming into tracks
Currently available as part of an invite-only beta test in the US, Ripple is potentially a rival to the existing apps and platforms that help with the creation of music. Though it is obviously also seen as a tool that could make it quicker and easier for TikTok creators to make their own soundtracks for their videos.
Of particular note is the functionality that allows users to create songs by simply humming a melody. The user is prompted to hum into their phone's mic and then the app creates instrumentals in differing genres. Currently, the length of the output matches the input and it doesn't do vocals, but it seems likely that such things could be added later if the app proves to be successful.
Of course, with such music-making abilities, the music industry will inevitably shout out the line that is now standard whenever a new app or platforms comes along which can help with the composition and production of music. And that question is as follows: "What data set did you use to train that fucker?"
Because, after all, the music industry is adamant that when any generative AI tool - or similar technology - is trained by crunching data connected to existing songs and recordings, a licence must be sought from whoever controls the copyright in that existing music. Ripple, we are told, has been trained on a combination of licensed music and music that Bytedance actually owns. So, that's alright then.
Fall Out Boy felt COVID was too "on the nose" for their We Didn't Start The Fire cover
Speaking to Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, Wentz said that the idea to update the song had been "brewing for so long", but until recently he had been trying to convince other artists that they should do it.
"I've been trying to get somebody to do it for four years", he explained. "And finally Patrick [Stump, frontman] was like, 'We should just do it'".
With that decided, then came the task of choosing what to include in the verses. Joel's original listed 118 people and events from politics, culture, science and sport that were of note between 1949, the year when Joel was born, and the year of the track's release, 1989. Fall Out Boy's version sets out to namecheck people and events that have been similarly significant since the original's release.
Wentz continued: "I remember listening to the original when I was little and I was like, 'I don't know what half this stuff is'. And it made me look up a bunch of this stuff. So, it was just interesting thinking about the stuff we would include versus [that which we] wouldn't".
"There's some stuff that was in the original that kind of is lost to the sands of time", he added. "So yeah, we just did it. We put it together. It's just a fun, goofy thing. There were things that were in that we kind of bailed on because we thought other things were more important and less important".
Meanwhile, on the decision not to mention COVID, he explained: "It's like, that's all anybody talked [about]. I don't know. It felt like there were a couple of things that [would have been] a little on the nose. And then there were a couple of things [like] Bush v Gore [where] we needed the rhyme".
Rhyming, of course, is an issue when you're putting together a thematic list in song. Especially given that Joel tried to put his list in more or less chronological order, restricting where things can go for the purpose of a rhyme. Though, it's been widely noted that, unlike Joel's version, Fall Out Boy didn't really manage to get their big list in the order that the referenced events happened.
"His is not totally in chronological order, but it's more in chronological order than ours", Wentz admitted. "So it's just a little bit out of order, but it is what it is. Listen, we wanted the internet to still have something to complain about".
Indeed, perhaps the great contribution here is not creating a historical document, but more fuelling the time-honoured (post-1989) tradition of moaning online. And for that, we must thank Fall Out Boy.
If you want a little whine time today, you can listen to Fall Out Boy's version of 'We Didn't Start The Fire' here.