|FRIDAY 4 AUGUST 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Lizzo yesterday responded to the allegations made by three former members of her dance team who accuse the musician and her touring company of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. These "false allegations", Lizzo said in a social media post, "are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous not to be addressed"... [READ MORE]|
Lizzo hits back at harassment and toxic work place allegations made by former dancers
But the three dancers and their legal representatives are standing by the claims made in a recent lawsuit, with one attorney telling reporters that additional witnesses have come forward in recent days to back up the allegations that his clients have made. "Given Lizzo is denying that any of this happened", that lawyer added, "let's take it to trial".
Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez filed a lawsuit with the courts in California earlier this week targeting Lizzo - real name Melissa Jefferson - and her dance team captain Shirlene Quigley, as well as the Big Grrrl Big Touring company.
Quigley is accused of constantly pushing her Christian beliefs in the workplace and criticising those who had premarital sex, but at the same time simulating oral sex, sharing lewd sexual fantasies and discussing one performer's virginity.
Jefferson, meanwhile, is accused of acting inappropriately at social events that her employees were strongly encouraged to attend. That included clubs where "nudity and sexuality were a focal point". On once occasion, it's alleged, Jefferson "hounded Davis to touch a performer despite Davis repeatedly expressing she did not want to".
Meanwhile, back in the work place, Jefferson is accused of falsely accusing her dancers of unprofessional behaviour and then forcing them to go through a "brutal" twelve hour re-auditioning process. And it's also alleged that the musician, despite being an advocate for body positivity and self-love, openly criticised a dancer's recent weight gain.
In her social media post yesterday, Jefferson confirmed that, following the filing of the lawsuit, "these last few days have been gut wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing. My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticised".
While she doesn't usually response to false allegations, she then stated, these claims "are too outrageous not to be addressed. These sensationalised stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional".
"With passion comes hard work and high standards", she went on. "Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it's never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren't valued as an important part of the team".
"I am not here to be looked at as a victim", she continued, "but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days. I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not".
On the specific allegation she criticised a dancer's weight gain, she also added: "There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world. I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolute never criticise or terminate an employee because of their weight".
As Jefferson took to social media to respond to this week's lawsuit, her accusers gave some media interviews about the dispute. On Channel 4 News they were asked about Jefferson's statement.
According to NME, Williams said: "It was very disheartening to read ... especially when she stands for what she stands for in regards to women's empowerment – being an advocate for mental health, being an advocate for body positivity – and to just further prove that that's not [really] the case ... nothing was acknowledged in that statement".
The lawyer that responded to Jefferson's social media post by declaring "let's take it to trial" was Neama Rahmani, President at West Coast Employment Lawyers. He added: "More witnesses are coming forward every day corroborating the plaintiffs' allegations, so we're looking forward to facing Lizzo and her team in court".
Jason Derulo sued by former collaborator of 'Savage Love'
In a lawsuit filed with the courts in California, producer/songwriter Matthew Spatola claims that: "On 23 Apr 2020, Derulo and Spatola collaborated to create the instrumental composition and recording of what would later become 'Savage Love' in Derulo's Los Angeles home studio. Derulo and Spatola went back to the studio again on 27 Apr 2020 whereon they completed 'Savage Love'".
Following that collaboration, the lawsuit then alleges, "Derulo unilaterally released 'Savage Love', without providing any credit whatsoever to Spatola for the work they jointly created together. This lawsuit is filed to right that wrong, and to ensure that Spatola is properly credited as a co-writer of 'Savage Love' and compensated for his contributions thereto".
There was a rights dispute in relation to 'Savage Love' even before it was released, because it sampled the earlier track 'Laxed - Siren Beat' by New Zealand producer Jawsh 685, initially without permission. There was a bit of a backlash when Derulo teased the track without referencing Jawsh 685. But ultimately a deal was done and the track, renamed 'Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)', was released by Sony Music's Columbia label.
On that part of the story, the new lawsuit states: "'Savage Love' started by sampling a song that gained widespread fame on TikTok called 'Laxed (Siren - Beat)', which was authored by a New Zealand teenager named Joshua Stylah, professionally known as Jawsh 685. When Derulo and Spatola went into the studio to create 'Savage Love', Derulo started the session by loading the sample into Pro Tools, and from which Spatola then wrote and recorded new instrumental contributions, to create the instrumental version of 'Savage Love'".
"When Derulo thereafter completed 'Savage Love' and posted it on his personal TikTok account, he completely failed to credit Jawsh, while also failing to credit Spatola in any way", it goes on. "A month later, after what were likely significant negotiations between Sony, Jawsh and Derulo, permission was obtained to release 'Savage Love', contemporaneously with Jawsh being signed to Derulo's label Columbia Records, but without involving Spatola in any way".
Regarding his credit, Spatola says that Derulo originally agreed to instigate the necessary formalities, but then failed to follow up. Then when Spatola started prepping legal action in April this year, Derulo and Sony committed to negotiate an out of court settlement.
But no such negotiations took place, with Sony subsequently claiming that it had a previous agreement Spatola had signed with Derulo which set out the terms of their relationship. However, Spatola says, the major is yet to provide a copy of that alleged agreement.
Hence the lawsuit. Spatola wants to the court to confirm he is a co-writer of 'Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)' and is therefore due lots of lovely royalties.
A third Astroworld lawsuit has been settled, Rolling Stone confirms
Ten people died and hundreds more were injured when a crowd surge occurred during Scott's headline set at the 2021 edition of the Houston-based festival he founded, which was promoted by Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary. Hundreds of lawsuits were filed in the wake of the tragedy, including by the families of all of those who died. All that litigation was then consolidated in early 2022 and it has been working its way through the system ever since.
A criminal investigation was also undertaken by the Houston Police Department. That was completed in June this year with a 1266 page report being produced. However, a grand jury concluded that, based on that investigation, there were no grounds for pursuing criminal proceedings against Scott or a number of other people involved in planning and producing the festival.
In terms of the lawsuits, last October a lawyer working for the family of one of the victims who died, Axel Acosta, confirmed that his client had settled their lawsuit. It was also reported at the time, and subsequently confirmed via court records, that the family of another festival-goer who died, sixteen year old Brianna Rodriguez, had likewise settled.
Rolling Stone reported yesterday that the family of John Hilgert have also settled their legal action. It transpires they actually filed papers with the court confirming that a settlement had been reached back in February. Terms of the three settlements negotiated so far are not known.
The HPD made its report into the Astroworld tragedy public at the end of last week. Since then, representatives for Scott have criticised the timing of that report's publication, it coinciding with the release of the rapper's first new album since the tragedy.
And they have also hit back at some of the commentary about the report's contents, stressing the grand jury's decision that there are no grounds for criminal action against Scott and his team.
Those remarks from Scott's representatives have in turn been criticised by lawyers still working on Astroworld litigation.
Earlier this week attorney Bob Hilliard, working for the family of the youngest festival-goer to die during the crowd surge, ten year old Ezra Blount, told TMZ: "Of course they would only focus on how the report's release date hurts their album sales instead of the facts contained inside of the report".
Reckoning that the HPB report includes "damning" information about how Astroworld was planned and run, he added: "For Mr Scott to allow his lawyers and spokespeople to make the reckless and untrue statement that just because he was not indicted means he's blame-free is arrogant and insulting to the memory of ten year old Ezra as well as the other victims of this terrible night".
Those comments have been echoed by lawyer Philip Corboy, who is working for the families of victims Franco Patino and Jacob Jurinek. He is quoted by Rolling Stone as saying: "My clients are concerned with their civil case, they're not concerned one iota about Travis Scott and the problems he may have with an album release".
Asked about the contents of the HPD report, he said he felt it shows that the Astroworld crowd surge was "a tragedy just waiting to happen. There are so many different folks who were culpable, if they only stood up and did the right thing at the right time before the show started. It's disappointing that everyone dropped the ball in this case".
BMG announces partnership with Extra Mile Music
That company, called Extra Mile Music, says it plans to "focus on established songwriters with proven catalogues", offering those writers "a personalised service and opportunities to work their catalogues beyond traditional avenues". BMG will provide global administrative and financial resources.
De Vries explains: "Fran and I established Extra Mile Music to work exclusively with clients we admire and can assist. Our goal is to intimately know every track in our catalogue and maintain a select roster of clients with whom we enjoy working. With the unwavering support of BMG, we are able to offer our clients competitive royalty rates without compromising on service quality".
BMG's President Repertoire & Marketing UK, Alistair Norbury, adds: "We are delighted to announce our partnership with Extra Mile Music. Michelle and Fran's expertise in the industry perfectly aligns with BMG's commitment to artist and rights development. We look forward to working together to enhance opportunities for established writers".
Extra Mile's first signings are Henry Priestman - who wrote with the band The Christians, as well as releasing two solo albums and composing for many film and TV projects - and Blur drummer Dave Rowntree. Extra Mile will represent Rowntree's share of the Blur back catalogue as well as his solo album and film/TV work.
Initial sale of Yeezy stock by Adidas following collapse of Kanye West partnership generated €400 million
The sportswear company announced in October last year that it was terminating its long-running and very profitable alliance with West after his increasingly controversial racist and anti-Semitic statements made the partnership untenable.
The sudden axing of the deal around West's Yeezy fashion brand cut off a lucrative revenue stream for Adidas, and left the company with an awful lot of unsold stock.
In May this year it announced it would start selling some of the Yeezy products sitting in its warehouses via its website and app.
Keen to counter any criticism of it profiting from it's former alliance with the still pretty controversial West, the sportswear firm said that it would donate some of the proceeds from the sale of the products to charities, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Philonise & Keeta Floyd Institute For Social Change.
At the time Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden said: "After careful consideration, we have decided to begin releasing some of the remaining Adidas Yeezy products. Selling and donating was the preferred option among all the organisations and stakeholders we spoke to".
Confirming the those sales had gone well in an update to investors, Gulden confirmed the company will "continue to carefully sell off more of the existing Yeezy inventory", insisting that that approach is "much better than destroying and writing off the inventory".
A second round of Yeezy product sales is already underway with retail partners involved this time as well as Adidas's own digital channels.
The continued demand for the Yeezy trainers will help the company mitigate the commercial impact of terminating its partnership with West. Though it also needs to put in place plans for how it will continue selling products that appeal to the Yeezy-buying audience once the current stock is all sold off.
In terms of the charitable donations, Reuters reports that Adidas donated €10 million to its selected charities in the second quarter of this year and has set aside another €100 million to donate to those organisations down the line.
Amazon Music announces merch tie-up with Bandsintown
The integration means that artists using Amazon's merch services will be able to promote and sell said merch via their profile on the Bandsintown platform, alongside all their upcoming gig listings. The Artist Merch Shop is already similarly integrated with Amazon's own music streaming service.
On the Bandsintown tie-up, Amazon Music's Director Of Artist Services, Sean McMullan, says: "Amazon Music and Bandsintown are coming together to make it even easier for fans to find merch from their favourite artists. Merchandise and touring are uniquely intertwined, and we're making it easier than ever for artists and fans to connect".
And Bandsintown co-founder Fabrice Sergent adds: "Merch is an opportunity to demonstrate fandom and a critical source of revenue at times when touring costs are rising. We're proud to come together with Amazon Music to further our mutual goals of helping artists and their fans".
Las Vegas police say no charges will be filed over Cardi B on-stage altercation
Cardi B threw a microphone at an audience member during a gig at Drai's Beachclub in Vegas on Saturday. Though it was a retaliatory move prompted by said audience member throwing a drink at the rapper as she performed on stage.
Although video footage of the incident seemed to show the audience member apologising as they were escorted out of the venue by security, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department subsequently confirmed that someone had filed a formal complaint after being "struck by an item that was thrown from the stage" at the show.
It wasn't clear if that complaint had been made by whoever threw the drink or whether someone else had been hit by the mic that Cardi B tossed into the audience.
But either way, a statement from the LVMPD said: "On 30 Jul 2023, an individual came into an LVMPD police station to report a battery. According to the victim, she was attending an event on 29 Jul 2023, at a property located in the 3500 block of Las Vegas Boulevard. During a concert, she was struck by an item that was thrown from the stage".
However, police have now confirmed that, having looked into the complaint further, no charges will be pursued. In a new statement to Variety, they said: "After a thorough review of this case, and with the consultation from the Clark County District Attorney's Office, this case has been closed as having insufficient evidence. No charges will be filed in relation to this case".
Alex James says his Britpop sparkling wine is "perfect for the good times"
"Britpop sparkling wine - perfect for the good times", he says in a short video posted to Instagram yesterday. "Great at lunchtime, great at dinner time, great at breakfast time, great in the Great British summertime".
The latter claim is a slightly tongue in cheek nod to the fact it's pouring down with rain behind him as he records the promo. "Lovely straight-up or you can try pouring it over ice if it's sunny", he goes on, "'en piscine' as they say in France - in the swimming pool - I'll drink to that. Cheers".
Lovely stuff. James has actually owned the trademark in the name 'Britpop' in relation to booze and other beverages since 2014 and he started selling a Britpop cider back in 2021. But he still uses his own name for the cheese.