|TUESDAY 8 AUGUST 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Promoters of the Malaysian festival that was forced to cancel after Matty Healy from The 1975 criticised the country's anti-LGBTQ+ laws from the stage have formally threatened to sue the band over the incident... [READ MORE]|
The 1975 facing legal action from Good Vibes Festival following on-stage protest
Future Sound Asia, promoter of the Good Vibes Festival in Kuala Lumpur, has confirmed it has now sent a letter to The 1975 demanding that they acknowledge liability and compensate the live music company for the cancellation that occurred following their set on the first day of the event. If they refuse to do so, FSA says it will pursue legal action through the English courts.
Addressing Malaysia's anti-LGBTQ+ laws during his set at the festival, Healy told his 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".
He then kissed bassist Ross MacDonald on the mouth and added: "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".
Those comments caused the band's set to be cut short. And the next day FSA announced that the country's Ministry Of Communications And Digital had responded to Healy's on-stage comments by issuing a cancellation directive, meaning the festival's Saturday and Sunday programmes could not go ahead.
The abrupt cancellation meant that domestic artists - who, unlike international acts, are not usually paid their full fee upfront - and people who had paid to operate food and drink stands at the event were all likely to lose out financially.
Shortly after the cancellation had been announced, a Malaysia-based law firm said it would represent affected artists and vendors on a pro-bono basis if they wanted to mount a class action lawsuit against The 1975 in relation to the incident. The law firm then said that it had five artists and five vendors signed up to participate in its proposed legal action.
At the time, FSA said it was not likely to get involved in that class action, but that it was considering its own legal options. The promoter had already stressed that The 1975 were definitely aware of the rules that apply to performers in Malaysia and that they had specifically committed to abide by them. And that includes not openly criticising the country's laws and lawmakers.
As the promoter prepares to go formally legal, it has reportedly stated that Healy "intentionally contravened" his band's agreement with the festival, and that his actions have "tarnished" the reputation of the event. It remains to be seen if the band voluntarily accept any liabilities in relation to the festival's cancellation. And, if not, what legal action will follow.
In addition to any legal consequences, there has been much debate over whether or not Healy was right to say what he said on stage, even among those who agree with his criticism of Malaysia's anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Some have welcomed the fact he has put the global spotlight on those homophobic laws, but others have argued that the way he delivered his message could have done more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community in Malaysia.
Dancers suing Lizzo comment more on their litigation
They accuse the musician of trying to "gaslight" them in the statement she issued last week, and say that they have been approached by a number of dancers who have recounted their own bad experiences working with both Lizzo and other big name artists.
Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez filed a lawsuit with the courts in California last week accusing Lizzo and her dance team captain Shirlene Quigley of inappropriate and unfair conduct. That included making false allegations of unprofessional behaviour against the dancers and then forcing them to go through a "brutal" twelve hour re-auditioning process.
In a post on social media, Lizzo hit back at the allegations, which she said were "sensationalised stories ... coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behaviour on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional".
In a new interview with Sky News, Williams and Rodriguez commented on Lizzo's response. Williams said: "Her statement is just confirming the pattern of every time somebody speaks up or advocates for themselves, like we're doing now, we get victim-blamed, we get gaslighted. And she likes to point the finger instead of addressing the issues that are being brought up".
She added that dancers are badly treated on an "everyday basis" when they work with big name artists, confirming that - since she and her former colleagues went legal - they have been approached by other dancers who have worked with Lizzo, as well as those that are "just in the entertainment industry in general".
Those people now feel "brave enough to share their experiences", she went on. "Before people were just silent about it, they didn't feel comfortable enough. They didn't feel protected enough to call these artists out, to call these management teams out, and let them know, hey, what you're doing is wrong".
Noting that some of the claims in their lawsuit seem outrageous or outlandish, Rodriguez said: "Unfortunately, this treatment by management, artists, you know, it's normal in the entertainment industry, but it sounds so outrageous because I feel this is the first time something like this has been brought to light so publicly. So, yes, it's outrageous. Yes, all of these claims seem outlandish. But these are our experiences and this really happened to us".
"So to just kind of deny and victim blame and not even take accountability", she went on, referring back to Lizzo's statement, "it's just so insensitive and kind of invalidates our experience as a whole. We have proof of these things happening to us time and time again. So everything has been documented over time".
Live Nation investor sues over allegations of anti-competitive behaviour
The legal action relates to the ongoing allegations that Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary abuse their market dominance. And more specifically the impact that media reports on and political scrutiny of those allegations has had on the Live Nation company's share price. And, crucially, whether Live Nation has made misleading statements to its investors regarding how the different divisions of Live Nation interact.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been accused of acting in an anti-competitive way ever since the two companies merged back in 2010. In order to get regulator approval of that merger in the US, Live Nation made a number of commitments regarding how the Live Nation touring and venue businesses would interact with Ticketmaster via a ten year consent decree agreed with the American government's Department Of Justice.
As that consent decree was getting close to expiring, Live Nation was accused of violating some of its terms. Having looked into the allegations, the DoJ began planning legal action. But a deal was done that stopped the matter from getting to court, and also extended the consent decree for another five years. Since then further allegations of misconduct have been made by Live Nation's competitors and critics. And more recently it emerged that a new DoJ investigation was under way.
In an article last month, Politico reported that that new investigation could result in new legal action being instigated by the DoJ against Live Nation later this year. A Live Nation spokesperson said that didn't seem likely, given its ongoing conversations with the government department. But Politico's sources said that - while no decision had been made one way or another - "the DoJ is moving quickly and its litigation team is involved".
Concurrent to all that, ticketing in general and Ticketmaster in particular have become big talking points in US political circles again, ever since the meltdown that occurred last year when tickets went on sale for Taylor Swift's US tour via Ticketmaster.
For its part, Live Nation continues to insist that it does not operate in an anti-competitive way and that it is fully compliant with its consent decree. But things like the Politico report do cause Live Nation's share price to wobble.
In his lawsuit, Live Nation investor Brian Donley documents various times that allegations of anti-competitive behaviour against Live Nation have hit the share price since February 2022. And he considers statements made by Live Nation in investor reports during that time.
His legal filing with the courts in California states: "Defendants failed to disclose to investors that Live Nation engaged in anticompetitive conduct, including charging high fees and extended contracts with talent, and retaliated against venues".
Nor that, "as a result, Live Nation was reasonably likely to incur regulatory scrutiny and face fines, penalties, and reputational harm; and that, as a result of the foregoing, defendants' positive statements about the company's business, operations and prospects were materially misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis".
"As a result of defendants' wrongful acts and omissions, and the precipitous decline in the market value of the company's securities", the lawsuit then claims, "plaintiff [has] suffered significant losses and damages".
As noted, Live Nation has always denied that it engages in any kind of anticompetitive behaviour. Meanwhile, it might argue, it is pretty common knowledge that its competitors and critics regularly accuse it of such behaviour and, as a result, the company is subject to considerable scrutiny by the DoJ and in Congress. And on that basis, it might conclude that Donley doesn't have a very strong case here.
For his part, Donley wants class action status for his lawsuit and it remains to be seen if any other investors opt to join him as a named lead plaintiff in the litigation. They may also feel the case here isn't very strong. Though, should any DoJ investigation conclude that there is, in fact, anti-competitive conduct within the Live Nation empire, then the number of investors considering legal action might increase.
Round Hill announces new deal with Big Loud Shirt
Says Round Hill CEO Josh Gruss: "Craig Wiseman and his publishing company Big Loud Shirt have produced some of the highest profile, most recognisable and enduring country music hits of the last three decades. We have a terrific working relationship with Craig, who we have known for many years, and are deeply familiar with these songs".
"This investment not only enables us to further increase Round Hill Music's exposure to the fast growing country music genre", he goes on, "but also provides an exciting opportunity for us to leverage our in-house platform to manage these incredible songs, maximising their income streams and further growing their value".
Wiseman adds: "I have known and been working with Round Hill for a decade and I'm THRILLED to be expanding our relationship by sharing these incredible pieces of art with them. I know they will manage these songs carefully and effectively, identifying creative opportunities to bring them to new audiences worldwide".
A third of UK nightclubs have closed in three years, says NTIA
After all the challenges of the COVID lockdowns, clubs - like all venues - have been battling surging running costs and the impact of the cost of living crisis. That creates problems for independent venues in particular, with NTIA reporting that over 100 independent nightclubs have been forced to close in the past year.
Commenting on its latest figures, the NTIA says: "The vibrant and culturally significant world of nightclubs has been an essential part of our society, providing spaces for artistic expression, community engagement and celebration. Unfortunately, the persistent escalation of operational costs has placed a substantial burden on these establishments, endangering their survival and ultimately leaving a void in our cultural landscape".
"Rising expenses - including but not limited to rent, utilities, labour and maintenance - have contributed to the distressing decline of nightclubs across the nation", it adds. "These challenges have been further compounded by the ongoing global economic uncertainties brought about by the pandemic".
With all that in mind, the NTIA again calls on the UK government to provide more support for the sector. "The NTIA urge governments to consider tailored financial relief, regulatory flexibility and other supportive measures that can help mitigate the pressures faced by the nightclub industry", the trade body states.
"By doing so", it adds, "these spaces that have enriched our lives and contributed to the vitality of our communities can be safeguarded. As advocates for the vibrant and diverse world of nightlife, the NTIA stand united in our commitment to address the challenges faced by nightclubs and ensure that their lights continue to shine brightly, illuminating our nights with music, camaraderie and unforgettable experiences".
Commenting on the latest stats, NTIA boss Michael Kill says the figures are "extremely alarming and, if taken back to 2019, show an even more dramatic picture for these businesses, with losses nearer 40%. These businesses are facing some critical challenges, with many not knowing whether they will survive over the coming months".
"We have constantly highlighted to the government the concerns around these businesses, particularly independent venues", he continues. "Without further support we may lose many more of these businesses before the end of the year".
Heartstopper could afford a Taylor Swift sync because she thought the scene was "beautiful"
That information came via a response to a tweet, posted shortly after the second series of 'Heartstopper' became available on Netflix, which mused that the show must have a pretty big music budget if it's able to afford to sync in a Swift track.
"'Heartstopper' got Taylor Swift, they got big bucks", a fan of the show tweeted. But not so, music supervisor Matt Biffa responded, adding: "She just thought the scene was beautiful and we were then able to make it work".
The scene, Pink News explains, sees the characters of Darcy and Tara "say, for the first time, that they love each other, after the former bared all about her turbulent relationship with her mother. Swift's soothing 'Seven', taken from her critically acclaimed album 'Folklore', plays softly in the background".
Having seen Biffa's response, another fan of the show tweeted: "So you mean [with] this 'Heartstopper' scene ... that highlights sapphic love and absolute queer joy, she was willing to get less money because she thought it was beautiful and her song would be perfect for it?"
To which Biffa responded: "Sometimes art is more important than $$$".
Which is all kinds of lovely isn't it? Unless this is Biffa's coded way of telling the sync licensing teams of the music industry "our budgets aren't that mega, OK?" You know, with a third series of 'Heartstopper' now going into production.