NEWS ROUNDUP: No More Hate…Policy, YouTube Copyright & More

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Prince would’ve turned 60 on 6/7; his estate will release Piano and a Microphone 1983 in September.

No More Hate…Policy, New Releases & More

By Jasmine Williams

Spotify Says “JK!”

In a continuation of last week’s story, Spotify has completely walked back their recently introduced “hateful content and conduct” policy. The streaming giant announced their decision via a blog post stating that they “don’t aim to play judge and jury” and citing “vague” language that created “confusion and concern” as the reason for abandoning the policy. Critics of the policy accused the platform of censorship and racism; the first and only three artists singled out by the rule were R. Kelly, Tay-K, and XXXTentacion – black males, not yet convicted of their accused crimes.

Spotify’s decision to rescind their policy has also been met with criticism. While only a half measure – the “hate conduct” rule seemed like a step in the right direction for many involved in the #MeToo movement. While Spotify cites ethical reasons for cancelling its new rule, the action could also be seen as yet another example of the music industry pandering to money over the fight against misogyny and sexual harassment. Spofity’s decision to reverse the policy came only days after it was reported that Top Dawg Entertainment (Kendrick Lamar’s label) threatened to remove their artists’ music from the app, while Pitchfork’s Jillian Mapes points out that Sony (R. Kelly’s record label) is a Spotify shareholder.

YouTube Vs. Copyright Infringement

In a preliminary ruling with potentially big implications, the Vienna Commercial Court found that YouTube is at least partly liable for copyright infringement in videos uploaded by the streaming platform’s independent users. YouTube says that it does what it can to prevent copyright-infringing videos from remaining on the site, but that as a “neutral platform” it can’t completely control its users or the content they upload. The court disagrees, thanks to that innocuous little “Up Next” sidebar to the right of the main video that suggests additional content based on whatever the viewer happens to be watching, or has watched in the past. Because the courts see this as helping to determine what viewers watch, they say it nullifies YouTube’s neutrality.

What does all of this mean? It means YouTube could be forced to ramp up its monitoring efforts or face strict fines. Though the hearing in question revolved around Austrian TV channel Puls4, this could change what users see (and upload) on the streaming site the world over.

Meanwhile, the infamous “Dancing Baby” case has been settled after eleven years of back-and-forth between Universal Music and a mom who uploaded a video of her toddler getting his groove on while Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” played in their kitchen. With the kid in question about to enter middle school, the Vienna ruling might’ve put blame on the shoulders of YouTube itself.

Oldies but Goodies?

A recent survey in Britain came to the conclusion that most people stop listening to new music after the age of thirty. Music streaming service, Deezer, surveyed 1,000 people and found that more than sixty percent of them mainly listened to music they discovered before the big 3-0.

Break out of the mold and check out brand new music below!

That New New

Shannon and the Clams vocalist and namesake Shannon Shaw released her solo album, Shannon in Nashville, today. She’ll play some solo shows before reconnecting with her band for live shows this summer.

Yesterday Prince would have turned 60. Perhaps in memory of the occasion, his estate announced the upcoming release of Piano & A Microphone 1983, an album of stripped back, previously unheard music.

Lily Allen stays real on her brand new album, No Shame.

Smashing Pumpkins reunited for “Solara,” their first new single in more than fifteen years!

Death Grips shared the newest track from Year of the Snitch and confirmed the release date for the LP (6/22).

End Notes

  • Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s new album, Kids See Ghosts, released last night via another livestream via another app.
  • A 55-year old original John Coltrane recording has been unearthed and will see release by the end of the month.
  • Afropunk announced their full Brooklyn lineup, including “Special Guest TBA”  Kaytranada!
  • Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon launched a new platform and used it to release music from a new project.
  • M. Ward released surprise LP What A Wonderful Industry, putting to song 20-plus years of music industy beef.
  • Queen mother Dolly Parton announced an upcoming Netflix series based on her songs.


NEWS ROUNDUP: Killer Mike’s NRA Interview, New R. Kelly Doc & More

NEWS ROUNDUP: Killer Mike, R. Kelly & More

By Jasmine Williams

Killer Mike ❤’s the NRA

While country musicians are distancing themselves from the National Rifle Association, the pro-gun lobby is getting support from an unlikely ally – Killer Mike. As half of explosive rap duo Run The Jewels the musician has never been known for his subtlety; however, he still managed to catch his fans off-guard earlier this week when he was the featured subject of an NRA interview. The NRATV segment was broadcast on March 22nd, two days before the March for Our Lives. During the 42-minute Q&A, Mike backs up the NRA, criticizes student gun-reform activists and attempts to link civil rights to the right to bear arms.

To be fair, Killer Mike has defended black gun ownership in the past so his arguments weren’t completely new and he did bring up some interesting points about the disparity in the treatment of black versus white activists. However, to choose NRATV to air his opinions was confusing and unacceptable to many; critics pointed out that his partnership with the gun lobbyists undermines some of the core arguments he makes in the interview. In fact, one of the only times that the NRA backed gun reform was in 1967 when it helped get the Mulford Gun Ban Act through. The law banned the open carrying of guns in California. It’s not a coincidence that the act was passed during the same period that the Black Panthers were rising to prominence.

Killer Mike has since apologized for some of his statements and the timing of his interview.

Is R. Kelly the Harvey Weinstein of the music industry?

Compared to the movie industry, the music world has been slow to catch onto the #MeToo movement. Case in point? R. Kelly. For years we’ve known that the R&B hitmaker was a sexual predator. He supposedly married Aaliyah at the ripe old age of fifteen and has since been accused of myriad forms of sexual abuse, starting a cult, and holding women at his home against their will. Recently released BBC documentary, R . Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes has added more disturbing allegations to the musician’s list. The film features interviews with ex-girlfriend Kitti Jones, who describes how she was forced to engage with Kelly and others in a “sex dungeon” and his disturbing practice of “grooming” underaged girls.

Kelly has paid various court settlements to women over the years but has yet to be convicted of any crimes. He is currently on tour.

In other shitty-men-in-the-music-industry news: Charlie Walk is officially out at Republic Group. The record executive is the subject of an ongoing sexual misconduct investigation.

That New New:

Next month the Tribeca Film Festival will screen a new Patti Smith documentary. Horses: Patti Smith and her Band features the final concert of her 2016 tour which honored the 40-year anniversary of her 1975 album. Garbage will also celebrate an impressive milestone with a new-old release. The 20th anniversary of the band’s sophomore album, Version 2.0, will be commemorated with a reissue of the album on June 22nd.

Soul, psych, chill-out queen, Kadhja Bonet released a new track, “Mother Maybe.” It’s the first single off of her upcoming album, Childqueen, out June 8th.

Frankie Cosmos has a new album out this weekend. Vessel is Greta Kline’s third LP.

Phoenix, Real Estate, Nils Frahm, Ty Segall, and Cut Copy have all announced new tour dates.

The festival lineup for the Brooklyn edition of Afropunk is here! Erykah Badu, Miguel, The Internet, Janelle Monae, Ibeyi and many more will play Commodore Barry Park on August 25th and 26th.

A Tribe Called Quest has released their final video. Erykah Badu, Questlove, Common, Janelle Monae and many more guests pop up in “The Space Program,” an eight-minute Afro-futuristic journey that celebrates the seminal hip-hop group’s history while maintaining Tribe’s usual dose of political commentary. Audiofemme faves, Wax Idols, also have a new video out. Watch Mausoleum here and look out for their upcoming album, Happy Ending, out May 16th.

For more new music clips, check out Desdemona Dallas’ new Audiofemme column, Video of the Week.

More Music News:

  • At the beginning of this week, Chance The Rapper put attention on an incredibly racist advertisement for Heineken Light and brought up an interesting point by tweeting “I think some companies are purposely putting out noticeably racist ads so they can get more views.” He might be right – in this age of increasing political correctness and social media sharing, cultural controversies often go viral. Maybe advertisement firms are using this as a strategy; after all, no one has ever touted the industry for its upstanding morality. Heineken has since pulled the commercial but on Thursday, the beer company’s stock was up.
  • On Monday, The Associated Press reported that a toxicology report from Prince’s death reveals that he had an “exceedingly high” concentration of fetanyl in his body. The synthetic painkiller is 50 times more powerful than heroin and is a key facet of the current opioid crisis in the United States. The investigation in to the music legend’s passing remains open.
  • The Bushwick building that hosts soon-to-close venue, Silent Barn, may become the headquarters of Educated Little Monsters. ELM is a “local grassroots youth program and movement dedicated to providing artistic outlets and economic opportunity to native-Brooklyn youth of color.” The organization has launched a fundraiser to raise $50,000 to take over the space. Read ELM’s full statement and donate here.