TODAY'S TOP STORY: The 1975 have cancelled shows in Indonesia and Taiwan after being banned from Malaysia following a performance there on Friday... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES The 1975 cancel performances in Asia after being banned from Malaysia
LEGAL Young Thug again denied bail as he awaits trial over gang-related charges
Photographer sues over unapproved use of Tupac photo on cannabis website
DEALS GEMA acquires majority stake in SoundAware
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Utopia Music closes R&D units in UK and Finland
LIVE BUSINESS UK music industry groups welcome pausing of US government plan to significantly increase visa fees
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify price increases reportedly imminent
AND FINALLY... Elon Musk undertakes a Twitter rebrand via Twitter - or via X if you prefer
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The 1975 cancel performances in Asia after being banned from Malaysia
The 1975 have cancelled shows in Indonesia and Taiwan after being banned from Malaysia following a performance there on Friday.

While headlining the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur, frontman Matty Healy criticised the country's anti-LGBTQ+ laws and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald. As a result, not only was the band's set cut short but the Malaysian government also cancelled the remainder of the festival.

The event's promoters said in a statement on Saturday: "We deeply regret to announce that the remaining schedule of Good Vibes Festival 2023, planned for today and tomorrow, has been cancelled following the controversial conduct and remarks made by UK artist Matty Healy from the band The 1975".

"This decision adheres to the immediate cancellation directive issued at 1:20pm, 22 Jul 2023, by the Ministry Of Communications And Digital", it went on. "The ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws. We sincerely apologise to all of our ticketholders, vendors, sponsors and partners. We are aware of the time, energy and efforts you have put into making this festival a success, and we value your steadfast support".

Yesterday, The 1975 announced that they were cancelling their next two shows in a statement shared via the We The Fest festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, which they were due to headline last night, saying: "The band never take the decision to cancel a show lightly and had been eagerly looking forward to playing for fans in Jakarta and Taipei but unfortunately, due to current circumstances, it is impossible to proceed with the scheduled shows".

Early on in the band's Good Vibes set on Friday, Healy told the audience: "I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn't looking into it. I don't see the fucking point, right, I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with".

Kissing MacDonald on the mouth, he then said: "I am sorry if that offends you and you're religious and it's part of your fucking government, but your government are a bunch of fucking retards and I don't care anymore. If you push, I am going to push back. I am not in the fucking mood, I'm not in the fucking mood".

Then, just seven songs into the set, he announced that the band had been banned from the country and would have to leave the stage.

Reportedly, The 1975 had originally been denied approval to perform in Malaysia, but this had been reversed after they agreed to abide by local rules for live performances.

"Regrettably", said Good Vibes Festival organisers, "Healy did not honour these assurances, despite our trust in their commitment. Healy's actions took us by complete surprise, and we halted the show as promptly as feasible following the incident".

While many around the world have applauded Healy's actions, he has also come in for strong criticism from others, including from within the Malaysian LGBTQ+ community.

Speaking on the BBC World Service, Malaysian drag queen Carmen Rose said: "I think there is a right place and time to do that and how you deliver the message that he delivered. It was very obvious that he was intoxicated and he wasn't in the right space to do that".

"I think the way he said [what he said was] very performative", she went on. "It's giving [off a sense of] 'white saviour complex' and he wasn't doing it for our community because if he was … he would know what the consequences we would have to go through [would be]. I don't think he cares about us, [just] himself".

Expanding on those consequences, she said: "Right now the state elections [are] just around the corner, and the politicians are going to use this as a scapegoat, or it gives them more ammo to further their homophobic agenda".

Echoing this, Malaysian media personality Joe Lee said on Twitter: "If anything, what Matt Healy and The 1975 have done is discount and disrupted years of work by local activists who have been pushing for change and understanding, and endangering our vulnerable minority communities".

For his part, Healy commented in an Instagram story on Saturday: "OK, well why don't you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks".


Young Thug again denied bail as he awaits trial over gang-related charges
Young Thug was again denied bail last week as he continues to fight charges in the US state of Georgia over his alleged involvement in a criminal gang.

According to ABC News, the judge overseeing the case, Ural Glanville, said that he believes the rapper's release would pose a threat to the community, adding that he remains concerned about possible witness intimidation.

Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, was charged in May last year - alongside fellow rapper Gunna and 26 others - with numerous counts of racketeering. Prosecutors allege that the rapper co-founded a gang that went on to commit murders, shootings and carjackings, which he then bragged about in his music videos.

The latter part of the prosecution's case against Williams has proven particularly controversial, as it's part of a trend in criminal cases in the US where a rapper's creative output is used as evidence against them. Campaigners argue this is unfair, as jurors are more likely to believe - usually wrongly - that rap lyrics are more rooted in reality than the lyrics in other genres of music.

Legal reps for Williams have been trying hard to get their client bail ever since his May 2022 arrest. Attorney Brian Steel insisted in court last week that there is simply no risk that his client will flee or commit crimes if released, meaning there are no grounds for keeping him in jail while he awaits trial. And that jail time, Steel added, is having a negative impact on his client's health.

The number of defendants involved in the upcoming trial has been reduced over the last year for various reasons, including a number of plea bargains being negotiated. Gunna was released from jail last December after he reached a plea bargain deal with prosecutors.


Photographer sues over unapproved use of Tupac photo on cannabis website
A US photographer has sued online cannabis marketplace Leafly for allegedly using a photo he took of Tupac on its website without permission.

According to a lawsuit filed with the courts in New York last week, the Leafly site used T Eric Monroe's Tupac image alongside some copy about blunts, ie hollowed out cigars filled with cannabis. "Blunts are durable, deliver a powerful high and are hard to visually differentiate from tobacco-filled cigars", the website noted.

"That combination makes them more convenient than joints or pipes for smokers in places that heavily criminalise the plant", it went on. "Especially for communities that were impacted by harsher marijuana laws and biased enforcement during the war on drugs".

But why is that relevant to Tupac? Well, it continued, "in 1993, New York native Tupac taught Snoop Dogg how to roll a blunt in California, turning Snoop off of joints forever".

That latter bit of trivia was illustrated with pictures of both Tupac and Snoop Dogg smoking a blunt, the former seemingly taken from Monroe's website without permission. Hence the legal claim for copyright infringement.

"Defendants ... have willfully copied, reproduced, and distributed the subject photography for financial benefit", the lawsuit states, "by, without limitation, reproducing the subject photography online for commercial benefit, including without limitation at, which is owned and operated by Leafly, on a page airing a news report containing Monroe's subject photography".

"Monroe has not in any way authorised defendants ... to copy, reproduce, duplicate, disseminate, distribute, or create derivative works of the subject photography", the lawsuit goes on. "On 12 Jan 2023, Monroe, sent Leafly a copyright infringement notice of the unauthorised use of Monroe's copyrighted work. Leafly has failed to meaningful respond, necessitating this action".


GEMA acquires majority stake in SoundAware
German collecting society GEMA has acquired a majority stake in music recognition company SoundAware. That company, based in the Netherlands, will continue to operate as a standalone business under the GEMA umbrella.

Collecting societies like GEMA have been expanding their use of music recognition technology over the years to monitor what songs and recordings are played on radio and TV, at clubs and events, and via online platforms. Companies that provide that kind of technology include BMAT, DJ Monitor, Soundmouse, Audoo and, of course, SoundAware.

Confirming its new acquisition, GEMA says: "High quality in usage recognition is crucial for correct usage-based licensing and royalty distribution. GEMA already uses music recognition technology in areas such as TV, discotheques, radio and online. With SoundAware's MRT, GEMA will be able to further enhance its licensing and distribution processes and expand its service offering".

The society's CEO Harald Heker adds: "By investing in a music identification pioneer, we are adding an important key competence to our portfolio: digital music identification. The investment in a future-oriented technology is a decisive step for GEMA on the way to becoming a powerful digital collecting society".

Meanwhile, SoundAware founder Harold de Groot adds: "GEMA is a global pioneer in the field of copyright management. With our technology, we want to contribute to extending this lead. We are convinced that the potential of our monitoring technology is far from exhausted. With GEMA as a strong partner, we want to develop new digital services for the music industry based on this technology and distribute them internationally".


Utopia Music closes R&D units in UK and Finland
Utopia Music last week told staff that it is closing research and development units in the UK and Finland, which Billboard reckons will affect about 25 employees.

The latest downsizing at the company followed the news that Absolute Label Services - one of the businesses it bought during a flurry of acquisitions in late 2021 and early 2022 - had been reacquired by its original shareholders.

Confirming the changes, co-founder and CEO Mattias Hjelmstedt said in a memo: "Moving forward, Utopia R&D Stockholm will continue to be our main R&D hub. Through this concentration we will be able to build on the successes delivered through this entity with a leaner and more efficient setup. As part of this consolidation, we will close down two R&D entities, Utopia UK (R&D) Ltd and Utopia R&D Tech Finland Oy".

"Our Finnish and UK R&D offices represent a relatively small footprint in Utopia's overall R&D teams", he added, "and we have a very strong R&D office in Stockholm that will continue developing, maintaining, and improving our core products".

After a period of rapid growth, mainly through acquisition, Utopia started downsizing its core operation, which had been developing music monitoring and royalty management technologies, late last year. It then started selling off some of those earlier acquisitions, selling ROSTR back to its founders and Sentric Music to Believe. Management at Absolute confirmed they had reacquired that business last week.

"2023 has been a year of transformation, optimisation and delivery", Hjelmstedt observed in last week's memo. "We have been shifting focus from hyper-growth to sustainable growth and profitability. We have taken the necessary, and sometimes difficult, decisions to get there".

Noting the latest job losses, he added: "We sadly have to say farewell to some very appreciated colleagues, who have greatly contributed to our mission through their hard work. I want to express my sincere apologies to those affected and would like to thank every one of you for your hard work - you have greatly contributed to our mission".

Looking to the future, and listing Utopia's current range of products, Hjelmstedt continued: "I'm convinced that we are fully equipped to continue delivering superior services to the music industry through our current customer offerings; Distribution, Radio Monitoring, TrackNClaim, Enhance & Discover, HeartBeat, and Accelerate".

"While not taken lightly, consolidating our R&D entities is a necessary step to realise our long-term vision of fair pay for every play", he concluded, "as it will enable us to more efficiently deliver new products and improve our existing services".


UK music industry groups welcome pausing of US government plan to significantly increase visa fees
UK music industry trade groups last week welcomed the recent news that plans by the US Department Of Homeland Security to significantly increase the costs of visas for foreign artists and crew touring in the country have been paused.

The US government department confirmed earlier this month that a final decision on those plans will not now be made until March next year. It is hoped that means government officials are giving serious consideration to the widespread opposition that was communicated after they proposed increasing visas fees by more than 250%.

Music industry groups in the US, UK and elsewhere were very critical of the proposed fee increases, noting that they would make touring in the US commercially unviable for many international artists who are already battling surging production costs when it comes to live activity.

Based on a recent update from the Department Of Homeland Security, the League Of American Orchestras last week noted that the government department "is continuing to consider public feedback submitted in response to the proposal, which included numerous comments from the arts sector opposing proposals that would more than triple the current artist visa filing fee".

"An announcement of final rules in March 2024", it added, will now "set new fee levels that could differ from the proposed fees, confirm any policy changes, and also set a date by which any changes would take effect".

The UK's Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition, which reignited their #LetTheMusicMove initiative earlier this year to campaign against the proposed hike in US visa fees, said that the pausing of a final decision on those fee increases was "a minor victory, but an important one".

They went on: "The MMF and FAC are heartened that concerted global action, particularly in the UK via the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, appears to be making an impact. The support for our campaign has been incredible, particularly from the artist and management communities, and we will continue to make the case for policies that reduce the cost and bureaucracy of international touring and cultural exchange".

The Musicians' Union's Head Of International Dave Webster added: "This is very welcome news, and whilst we do not yet know the full extent of the changes that may follow, it does look as though the original proposal will not go ahead in its proposed form. It's testament to the power of collective advocacy from the arts sector not just in the UK but across the globe, and it's encouraging that the US authorities are taking our concerns seriously".

And Tom Kiehl, Deputy CEO at UK Music, stated: "UK Music is pleased that damaging proposals to severely increase US visa petition fees have been paused. The US is a key market for UK acts and breaking America is as important now to artists' careers as it was in the days of The Beatles. We will continue to work with music industry bodies from both the UK and overseas to ensure touring in the US is affordable for all performers and their crew".


Spotify price increases reportedly imminent
Spotify is expected to finally announce it is increasing its baseline subscription price in the US this week, from $9.99 to $10.99. Similar price rises will then occur in other markets, according to sources who have spoken to the Wall Street Journal.

The music industry has been pushing for price increases in the subscription streaming domain for some time, of course. The baseline price for Spotify in key markets has been 9.99 ever since the service first launched. This means, once inflation is factored in, the cost of a subscription has been declining year-on-year.

That matters to the music community because streaming is ultimately a revenue share business, with the streaming services committing to share a majority of their revenues with the music industry each month.

Though it also matters to Spotify's shareholders, who have also been putting pressure on the market-leading premium streaming service to increase its prices of late.

Spotify has instigated some price increases in some markets already, but mainly in relation to things like the family plan. Meanwhile its main rivals - Apple Music, Amazon Music and, as of last week, YouTube Music - have all started shifting their baseline price from 9.99 to 10.99.

The music industry hopes that, once all the streaming services have instigated the first 9.99 to 10.99 price increase, the monthly subscription price will then keep up with inflation moving forward, meaning semi-regular increases. That has been the norm in the video streaming domain for some time.

There have also been reports recently that Spotify is planning on launching a higher priced subscription tier this summer which will offer higher quality audio plus access to a certain number of audiobooks each month.

Given that audiobooks seem to be a key part of that in-development premium premium tier, it's not clear how much the music industry will benefit from the higher priced package. After all, presumably a portion of the extra money paid in by the subscriber on that tier will have to go to the publishers of the audiobooks the subscriber chooses to access.

When other streaming services first started dabbling with higher priced premium tiers - initially focused mainly on higher quality audio - that very much benefited the music industry by providing more revenue in which it could share.


Setlist: The questions raised by TikTok’s Warner deal
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including TikTok and Warner Music's "first-of-its-kind partnership" - a licensing agreement that involves both the Warner Music record company and music publishing business Warner Chappell and covers various platforms run by TikTok owner Bytedance - and the NME's return to print.

Listen to this edisode of Setlist here.

Elon Musk undertakes a Twitter rebrand via Twitter - or via X if you prefer
I don't know how you spent your weekend, but Elon Musk spent his rebranding Twitter by seemingly crowdsourcing a new logo on, well, Twitter. Or X if you prefer.

"Soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds", he initially tweeted. With the Twitter company now known as X Corp - it having been acquired by Musk last year via an entity called X Holdings - he then confirmed that any new branding for the social media firm would use the letter X. But not the X that features in the logo for his other company, SpaceX. No, a new X was clearly needed.

"If a good enough X logo is posted tonight, we'll make go live worldwide tomorrow", he then tweeted. Or "X-ed", maybe? "If X is closest in style to anything, it should, of course, be art deco", he X-ed on, before later X-ing a stylised 'X' he has seemingly opted for.

Among all that, he also confirmed that now points to Musk was involved in an online bank back in the late 1990s called which later morphed into PayPal. He reacquired the domain name from PayPal a few years ago.

The on-the-fly rebrand is also seemingly linked to Musk's previously stated plans to develop a new everything app akin to Tencent's WeChat.

Amid Musk's rebranding tweets, X Corp CEO Linda Yaccarino tweeted: "X is the future state of unlimited interactivity - centred in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking - creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we're just beginning to imagine".

So that's all fun, isn't it? But will X - centred as it is on "audio" and "video", among other things - get itself those music licences that Twitter Inc never quite got around to securing, despite all the music posted to its platform? That's the question the music industry probably wants to know the answer to.

Oh, that, and should every artist, label, venue and festival website that has button linking to a Twitter feed - and which uses the old Twitter bird logo - now update that button to the stylised X that Musk shared yesterday?

Or is he likely to change his mind about the new logo 'x times' in the next few weeks? I don't know. Probably wise to wait before updating any buttons.


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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