|THURSDAY 24 AUGUST 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Lizzo intends to countersue the former members of her dance team who have accused her of inappropriate and unfair conduct, one of the lawyers representing the musician has said... [READ MORE]|
Lizzo plans to countersue her former dancers, says lawyer
The lawsuit filed by three former members of Lizzo's Big Grrrls dance outfit is a "sham", according to attorney Marty Singer, who reckons that photos and videos already in circulation counter many of the claims made in that litigation.
As a result, he adds, he expects the case to be dismissed, after which Lizzo will likely pursue her own legal action in order to protect her reputation.
Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez make a number of allegations in their lawsuit against Lizzo and her Big Grrrl Big Touring company.
Among other things, they claim that their former employer made false allegations of unprofessional behaviour against her dancers and then forced them to go through a "brutal" twelve hour re-auditioning process, while also weight-shaming members of her team in contrast to public statements about body positivity.
Elsewhere, they say that "Lizzo pressured plaintiffs and all her employees to attend outings where nudity and sexuality were a focal point and disregarded any apprehension from plaintiffs".
On one such occasion, at a club in Amsterdam, the lawsuit adds: "Lizzo hounded Davis to touch a performer despite Davis repeatedly expressing she did not want to. This work environment would shock the conscience of anyone as it did for plaintiffs".
However, Singer insists that those latter claims are countered by photos that have surfaced of the three dancers backstage during another team outing at the Crazy Horse club in Paris, which seem to show the plaintiffs "happily carousing" with performers from a topless cabaret show.
According to the Daily Mail, the lawyer says of those photos: "As the old saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. The photos and videos of plaintiffs Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez happily carousing backstage with the performers after the topless cabaret show at the Crazy Horse cabaret in Paris speak volumes".
"In their lawsuit, the three plaintiffs claim that they were forced to go to the show at the Crazy Horse against their will on 5 Mar 2023", he continues. "In fact, after they watched the topless dance show, they went backstage with the other Big Grrrls dancers to meet the performers".
Singer also references a video already in circulation that Davis recorded earlier this year for the second series of Lizzo's 'Watch Out For The Big Grrrls' TV show, in which she said that working with the musician had "been amazing" and "such a beautiful journey".
Davis has already commented to TMZ on that video, stating: "Right up until the last minute I didn't realise how bad it was and how much I was being taken advantage of. I just genuinely wanted to save my job. This video further explains how much I was trying to please Lizzo".
But Singer states: "These irrefutable photos and videos, along with additional substantial evidence, prove the glaring contradictions between what the plaintiffs claim in their bogus lawsuit and what is actually proven by the facts. The lawsuit is a sham. Lizzo intends to sue for malicious prosecution after she prevails and these specious claims are dismissed".
Legal reps for Davis, Williams and Rodriguez have, unsurprisingly, hit back at Singer's remarks. "Our clients aren't afraid of Singer or his empty threats or his victim shaming", states attorney Neama Rahmani. "I've handled thousands of cases, including prosecuting drug cartels, so we have no plans to back down. Let's see if Singer can actually try a case in a courtroom instead of the media".
"We've addressed all these instances where the plaintiffs appear to be happy alongside Lizzo during their time working with her", he goes on. "Of course, they wanted to keep their jobs. They had bills to pay just like everyone else, but they finally had enough of the abuse. We stand by every claim in the lawsuit and look forward to trial".
Meanwhile, his colleague Ron Zambrano adds: "We feel extremely confident in this case and expect to be filing additional lawsuits against Lizzo as more potential plaintiffs come forward sharing similar stories of harassment and abuse".
"We've heard from more than a dozen former employees and are currently reviewing their claims", he continues. "Some of them will most certainly be actionable. Crystal, Noelle and Arianna stepped out of the shadows to share their stories and now others are feeling empowered to do the same".
The latest back and forth between Team Lizzo and legal reps for Davis, Williams and Rodriguez comes as the LA Times reports on an earlier dispute between the musician and her dancers.
It seems that earlier this year a legal settlement was reached with fourteen members of Lizzo's dance team after they complained that footage recorded during a rehearsal for the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards appeared in last year's documentary 'Love Lizzo'.
According to the LA Times, the dancers said that they were not aware that the footage, which saw them "talk candidly about what it means to be a female, plus-size black dance artist", would be made public.
A representative for the dancers sent an email to Boardwalk Pictures, a co-producer of the documentary, which stated: "After seeing all of the videos, I'm sure you realise how sensitive and private the dialogue was for the talent involved".
"This was supposed to be a safe space to express and share with the principal talent", the email went on, "so by sharing this unauthorised footage to the public, without their approval/permissions, has truly exploited these women and violated the emotional safety they had in those moments".
Although a legal rep for Boardwalk Pictures stressed that the dancers were fully aware that they were being filmed during that rehearsal, a deal was subsequently done in February in which the dancers gave their consent for the footage's inclusion in the documentary in retrospect and received a payment.
The legal team working for Davis, Williams and Rodriguez also note the new LA Times report in their response to Singer's latest comments yesterday.
"As seen in the LA Times article today about how Lizzo used intimate footage of her dancers without their approval in the 2022 HBO Max 'Love Lizzo' documentary, we're seeing even more of a pattern of just how much Lizzo thinks of those who work for her", they claim, before adding: "Clearly, not very much".
But for his part, Singer says about the documentary and the inclusion of the rehearsal footage in it: "Lizzo had nothing to do with it and knew nothing about it".
BMI reportedly considering acquisition offer from New Mountain Capital
Sources have told Billboard that the deal would be worth around $1.7 billion, though it's not currently entirely clear how close the deal is to being done.
Most of the music industry's collecting societies are not-for-profit organisations owned by their members, so usually a combination of artists, songwriters, music publishers and/or record labels. However, some are privately owned for-profit businesses.
In the US, ASCAP follows the member-owned model. However BMI is actually owned by a group of broadcasters, it having been established by the US radio sector in the 1930s in order to provide a rival to the already established ASCAP.
However, it nevertheless operated on a not-for-profit basis until last year. The decision to become a for-profit entity followed a review of the society's operations, which also involved approaching possible buyers. It was initially decided not to sell, but the BMI board concluded that going the for-profit route would allow them to secure investment in order to grow the business.
It was then reported by Reuters last month that BMI was again working with Goldman Sachs to sound out potential acquirers. Sources say that talks have since been underway with Apollo Global Management, Brookfield Asset Management and RedBird Capital Partners, as well as New Mountain Capital, the bid from which is now seemingly progressing.
The shift to being a for-profit business and those new rumours about a sale motivated a letter last week from various organisations representing American artists and songwriters which asked BMI boss Mike O'Neill an assortment of questions.
They wanted to know how the introduction of a profit margin is affecting the commissions and fees that BMI charges on the royalties that it processes on behalf of its songwriter and music publisher members. They also wanted to know who would benefit from the profits of any sale and what impact private equity ownership might have on the organisation.
Although yet to respond to the specific questions contained in that letter, O'Neill did send a speedy reply insisting that the changes occurring at BMI are in the interests of the society's members.
Of course, while the majority of the music industry's collecting societies are member-owned not-for-profit organisations, not all of them are, and the two smaller societies representing the performing rights in songs in the US - SESAC and GMR - are both privately owned. And, O'Neill would possibly argue, the writers allied to those privately owned societies seem happy enough.
Plus, of course, if writers really felt that the introduction of a profit margin - or the influence of a new private equity owner - was negatively impacting on the management of their rights or the distribution of royalties, they could always switch allegiances to ASCAP. Which, presumably, provides a strong incentive for BMI's management and any future owner to ensure that any changes and new policies are in the interests of songwriters.
Although, not necessarily all songwriters. One of the concerns expressed in last week's letter is that a privately owned society might be more likely to skew things in favour of the big-earning superstar writers, whereas in the past both BMI and ASCAP - like most collecting societies elsewhere in the world - have traditionally operated with an ethos of "any songwriter is welcome".
"BMI is required to provide a home to any writer who wants to join", the letter noted. "Can BMI confirm that they will not seek to drive writers away from BMI or discourage writers from joining BMI?"
We now await to see if any deal goes through and - if so - how BMI will seek to convince its members that all these changes are definitely in their interest.
ISM again puts the spotlight on the "enormously damaging effect" of Brexit on musicians
The study confirms that Brexit - and the post-Brexit trade deal that the UK government negotiated with the European Union - "have had an enormously damaging effect on musicians' ability to work in Europe, the market on our doorstep".
That deal, of course, did not include any measures to ensure that musicians and other performers - and their crews - could continue to tour and perform in Europe as they had when the UK was a member of the EU. As a result, musicians now face a range of additional administrative and bureaucratic tasks when working in Europe, the exact nature of which vary from country to country.
All of this adds costs to performing or touring. And given that the live sector is facing surging costs already, that makes it harder for British musicians to tour or seek performance opportunities within the EU.
ISM says that, of the musicians it surveyed, almost half have had less work in the EU since Brexit, with over a quarter saying they have had no post-Brexit work at all in any EU member states. A third have had to turn work down and 40% have had projects cancelled on them.
The most cited new expense caused by Brexit is visas and other travel permits, followed by carnets. The requirement to secure such things post-Brexit, along with so called cabotage restrictions, have, says the ISM, "led to UK musicians working in Europe less than before, which has resulted in lost income for both the musician and the UK economy".
"The difficulty and expense now related to touring in the EU for UK musicians impacts the viability of working as a musician", it goes on. "It risks damaging the creative pipeline for the future and undermines the UK's soft power".
Most of these issues have been apparent ever since the UK's post-Brexit deal with the EU was first published. There have been repeated calls for the UK government to do more to address these issues and - while there have been some improvements in some EU countries - across the board most of the problems still remain.
ISM boss Deborah Annetts states: "The government has been asleep on the job. It could have tackled many of the issues facing the music sector by itself and made Brexit work. It chose not to. This report provides a pathway to make Brexit work for music, and most of the recommendations would not require renegotiating the [post-Brexit trade deal]".
"Brexit should never have meant that musicians cannot share their talent freely with our closest neighbours", she goes on. "This damages our country, our soft power and our precious creative talent pipeline. Music is worth £5.8 billion to the UK economy and the wider creative industries are worth £116 billion. We call on the government to take action and make Brexit work for the wellbeing of musicians and our economy".
You can download the new report - which includes a number of specific recommendations for government - from the ISM website here.
Mixmag launches in Ukraine
Says Mixmag's Global Managing Director Nick Stevenson: "As the newest location for the world's biggest dance music and media brand, Mixmag Ukraine will give hope, inspiration, ambition and motivation to Ukraine's DJs, producers, promoters, dancers, clubbers, party people and fans of electronic music".
The launch has been announced on what is Independence Day in Ukraine, which commemorates the country's formal declaration of independence from the Soviet Union back in 1991. And, of course, the arrival of a Ukrainian Mixmag comes as the country continues to fight a war with Russia following its invasion in February 2022.
The new Mixmag Ukraine team reference both these things in their announcement of the launch. They say that they hope the arrival of a Ukrainian version of Mixmag "will be a good motivating stimulus for the local electronic scene, which has been fighting and resisting Russian aggression for more than a year and a half doing numerous charity parties, releasing compilations and supporting the community".
"In recent years, the electronic scene in Ukraine has taken a big step forward", they go on. "Mixmag Ukraine aims to introduce the global audience to numerous new artists, labels and releases from Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odesa and other Ukrainian cities. We will also be happy to provide a platform for authors, journalists and reviewers from Ukraine who want to write about their scenes, heroes, events and stories".
"The launch of Mixmag Ukraine is a joyful and symbolic event for all of us", they conclude. "That is why we launch the website on Independence Day. By doing this, we want to inspire our people to create further, achieve success and keep an unshakable faith in victory".
Round Hill Music has acquired Canadian music company Linus Entertainment, bringing with it a catalogue of over 3000 songs and 20,000 master recordings. "This investment includes some of the most celebrated music and performers to come out of Canada and supports our strategy of investing in and supporting the growth of iconic music", says Round Hill CEO Josh Gruss. "The opportunity Linus Entertainment presented to us was truly a one off and we are very excited to have these incredible Canadian artists included in the Round Hill stable".
Pulse Records and Brent Faiyaz's new ISO Supremacy label have formed an artist development partnership, signing Tommy Richman. Faiyaz already works with Pulse's music publishing company as an artist and Richman is opening for him on his current tour. "In launching my new label ISO Supremacy and partnering with Pulse Records, we've created this platform to give artists like Tommy Richman a creative home with the ability to scale global impact and a team that is accessible who keeps creativity at the forefront", says Faiyaz. "We're going to continue to make history".
Reservoir and PopArabia have jointly acquired the recordings and publishing catalogues of Egyptian music company RE Media and Egyptian rap duo El Sawareekh. "We look forward to the companies' support as we continue to show the world what we can do", say El Sawareekh.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Warner Music Canada and Warner Music India have jointly launched new record label 91 North, with aims to support artists of South Asian heritage. Its first signings are Canada-based Punjabi stars Karan Aujla and Jonita Gandhi. "Punjabi and South Asian music already competes worldwide, and I'm THRILLED to collaborate with emerging talents, showcasing and amplifying what they have to offer", says producer Ikwinder 'Ikky' Singh, who has been named Creative Director of the new label. "This is no experiment; it's the future".
Bombay Bicycle Club have released new single 'I Want To Be Your Only Pet'. "I was just playing around with guitar sounds at soundcheck and started playing this riff", says frontman Jack Steadman. "Jamie [MacColl, guitar] must have heard something in it because he got out his phone and started recording. For the next few months he would constantly text me to ask 'have you written a song around that riff yet?' So finally I did to stop him harassing me. To me it sounds like if 'Abbey Road' era Beatles had a love child with 'Rated R' era Queens Of The Stone Age".
Björk has been announced as the winner of the publicly voted Best Live Performer prize at this year's AIM Independent Music Awards. "We are proud to be able to honour the diversity and talent across the UK's independent labels, artists, entrepreneurs and champions and it's fantastic to see continued public recognition of Björk's trailblazing live shows", says AIM CEO Silvia Montello. The ceremony will take place at the Roundhouse in London on 26 Sep.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Korn guitarist reps local furniture store
Anyway, he turns out to be a surprisingly adept salesman, offering viewers a tour through the vast store and testing out items of furniture on the way. Honestly, he does a great job. There's a lot of furniture in there and at no point does he say anything like, "holy shit this crap is gaudy as fuck".
Of course, it may also be that Welch genuinely likes the furniture on sale at the store, despite all of it being revoltingly tasteless. Kicking off the tour, he announces that a dark wood four poster bed is "built for a king". He later describes a whole section of the store as "pure luxury" and "so beautiful".
Towards the end of the video he finds a sofa that he says "reminds me of Vegas". However, he adds, "Vegas will break the bank but Furniture City will not". So slick.
Enjoy the video yourself on Instagram here.