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NZ’s top artists speak out about sexual harassment

A slate of New Zealand’s top female artists including Lorde and Bic Runga have co-signed an open letter urging professionals across the music industry to assess their own behaviour.

The letter – penned by musician Anna Coddington and co-signed by the likes of Bic Runga, Lorde, Anika Moa, Tami Neilson, Hollie Smith and Mel Parsons – arrives after a report by Stuff detailed allegations of sexual harassment and exploitation experienced by women and non-binary artists in New Zealand’s music industry.

The investigation prompted an admission of guilty and an apology from former Lorde manager Scott Maclachlan who told Stuff: “I do accept the harmful impact of my past behaviour and I try every day to repair the damage and prevent it happening again.”

Maclachlan confirmed he lost his position as SVP at Warner Australasia and was banned from Warner Music’s Australian offices and gigs, after the company commissioned a sexual harassment investigation in 2018.

“The onus for change can’t sit with those of us who don’t hold that power”

Benee manager Paul McKessar was the second big name in New Zealand’s music industry to step down after he admitted “crossing professional boundaries” with artists he represented.

McKessar, who was last year awarded Manager of the Year at the Aotearoa Music Awards, resigned as a director at CRS Music following his implication in the exposé.

The group’s letter, also signed by Tami Neilson, Mel Parsons and Hollie Smith, says: “Men in the music industry have been operating in a safety-in-numbers scenario since forever. Young women, LGBTQ+ people, and other minorities stepping fresh into the music industry do not have that safety.

“We don’t want to be writing open letters about inappropriate behaviour. We want to be working on our music”

“We need better behaviour from those who hold power now, but ultimately we need more diversity in those positions of power so that the music industry as a whole can thrive and reap the benefits of different perspectives.

“The onus for change can’t sit with those of us who don’t hold that power. Everyone should want a better, safer, more productive industry. Artists are not here to help you make these changes. We don’t want to be writing open letters and talking to the media about the inappropriate behaviour of others. We want to be working on our music.”

The letter makes a number of suggestions such as “learn about boundaries and consent”, “diversify your workplace” and “do not accept the transgression of those boundaries from anyone you work with”.

Read the full letter here.

 


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$17k fine for Lorde Israel boycott organisers

Two New Zealand women who allegedly influenced Lorde to cancel a planned show in Tel Aviv have been ordered to pay ₪45,000 (US$12,400) in damages by an Israeli court.

Nadia Abu-Shanab, a Palestinian Arab, and Justine Sachs, a Jew – both members of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – were sued by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli NGO, in January under Israel’s 2011 anti-boycott law, which makes it a civil offence to call for an economic, cultural or academic boycott against a person or entity because of any perceived affiliation to Israel.

Abu-Shanab and Sachs wrote an open letter to Lorde saying that if the New Zealand singer played the June show it “would be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation”. Lorde later axed the gig, saying she “had a lot of discussions with people holding many views, and I think the right decision at this time is to cancel the show.”

On Wednesday (10 October), Jerusalem magistrate’s court judge Mirit Fohrer ruled that Sachs and Abu-Shanab must pay ₪15,000 to each of the three young Lorde fans named, who had bought tickets to the planned concert. The suit claims the trio’s “artistic welfare” was harmed by the cancellation, as was their leisure time “and, above all, damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“This is a precedent-setting ruling according to the boycott law,” says Shurat HaDin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said Thursday. “This decision makes it clear that anyone who calls for a boycott against the state of Israel could find themselves liable for damages and need to pay compensation to those hurt by the boycott call, if they’re in Israel or outside it.”

“This decision makes it clear that anyone who calls for a boycott against the state of Israel could find themselves liable for damages”

Abu-Shanab and Sachs were also ordered to pay ₪11,000 (US$3,000) in legal fees.

Although Israel and New Zealand have legal agreements that will allow the court of pursue the damages, the defendants have said they will refuse to pay.

Writing on the Spinoff blog, they say: “Our advice from New Zealand legal experts has been clear: Israel has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world. They also continue to believe that this is a stunt of which the sole intention is to intimidate Israel’s critics. We agree but are heartened by their advice.

“We’ve contacted the relevant people in our government in the hope they can make it clear that New Zealand will not stand by and allow Israel to attempt to bully its citizens.”

Darshan-Leitner, however, is confident that won’t be the case. “We will enforce this ruling in New Zealand, and go after their bank accounts until it has been fully realised,” she says.

 


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FL rep demands axing of Lorde shows amid Israel row

Randy Fine, a state representative in Florida, has demanded venues in Tampa and Miami cancel their upcoming Lorde shows in order to comply with the state’s anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) legislation.

Lorde’s Melodrama world tour is due to visit Amalie Arena (21,500-cap.) on 11 April and American Airlines Arena (20,021-cap.) on 12 April. However, both venues are publicly owned – the former by Hillsborough County and the latter by Miami-Dade County – and, under a law introduced in February 2016, no Florida state or local government is permitted to conduct business exceeding US$1 million with any organisation engaged in a boycott of Israel.

New Zealand singer Lorde in December cancelled a planned show in Tel Aviv under pressure from the anti-Israel BDS movement, which campaigns against what it calls Israeli “oppression” of Palestinian Arabs.

“Florida has no tolerance for antisemitism and boycotts intended to destroy the state of Israel,” says Fine (pictured). “That’s why Florida passed groundbreaking anti-BDS legislation several years ago and why, along with senator Jeff Brandes, I have proposed strengthening that legislation this year. Current statutes are clear: local governments cannot do business with companies that participate in antisemitic boycotts of Israel.

“The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and antisemitism”

“When Lorde joined the boycott in December, she and her companies became subject to that statute.

“The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and antisemitism, and I look forward to [venue owners] the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Tampa Sports Authority complying with the law and cancelling these concerts.”

Tampa Sports Authority and the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority declined to comment.

Randy Fine is the state representative from Florida’s district 53, centred on Brevard County.

 


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Israeli civil rights group sues over Lorde cancellation

An Israeli NGO is suing two New Zealanders for allegedly influencing Lorde to cancel a planned show in Tel Aviv in June, in what is believed to be first lawsuit filed under Israel’s new anti-boycott law.

Shurat HaDin is representing three teenagers who had bought tickets to the concert, which was called off in December under pressure from the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The two defendants, Palestinian Arab Nadia Abu-Shanab and Jew Justine Sachs, both BDS activists, wrote an open letter to Lorde (pictured) prior to the cancellation saying that if the New Zealand singer played the show it “would be seen as giving support to the policies of the Israeli government, even if you make no comment on the political situation”.

Israeli’s anti-boycott law (in full, the Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott), introduced in 2011, makes it a civil offence to call for an economic, cultural or academic boycott against a person or entity because of any perceived affiliation to Israel, and is intended to apply to anyone, regardless of nationality.

“This lawsuit is an effort to give real consequences to those who selectively target Israel”

The three plaintiffs are seeking ₪15,000 (US$4,400) each in damages.

Shurat HaDin head Nitsana Darshan-Leitner tells the Associated Press: “This lawsuit is an effort to give real consequences to those who selectively target Israel and seek to impose an unjust and illegal boycott against the Jewish state.

“They must be held to compensate Israeli citizens for the moral and emotional injury and the indignity caused by their discriminatory actions.”

After being made aware of the lawsuit, Sachs declined to comment, but did later tweet: “Israel [is] the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East where New Zealanders get sued for exercising their freedom of speech… in New Zealand.”

 


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Snap debuts AI-powered Crowd Surf at Outside Lands

Snapchat developer Snap Inc. used last weekend’s Outside Lands festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, as the debut for a new feature for the app: Crowd Surf, which stitches together audience ‘snaps’ to create a multi-angle video account of a concert or live event.

Snap deployed Crowd Surf during Lorde’s performance on Sunday 13 August, synchronising the audio using artificial intelligence from multiple fans filming the New Zealand singer to create an interactive Snapchat ‘story’ in which viewers can cycle between different crowd perspectives using a button on their smartphone screen.

Tech site Mashable has a video demonstrating Crowd Surf during Lorde’s song ‘Green Light’, showing multiple angles, including crowd selfies and the view from stage left.

A Snap spokesperson says Crowd Surf will be available at select events in future.

According to Mashable, with Crowd Surf Snap “hope[s] to bolster its Stories feature so that users submit to them more and also spend more time watching them. That’s good for Snap Inc. The more time users spend with Stories, the more likely they’ll be served an ad, which contributes to the majority of Snap’s revenue.” Snap Inc. posted disappointing financial results in Q2 2017 with a loss of US$443 million, below Wall Street forecasts.

Both Live Nation and AEG Live/Presents have agreed commercial partnerships around their festivals with Snap, with advertisers and sponsors using Snapchat to target festivalgoers. The former has, since last September, also sold tickets on the platform.

 


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Storms force Lollapalooza to cut short first night

Headline sets by Lorde, Muse and others were cut short as a storm forced the early closure of the first day of Lollapalooza.

Promoter C3 Presents and Chicago city officials evacuated the Grant Park site an hour before it was due to close, telling people via Twitter: “Grant Park is being evacuated due to weather. Please make your way to the nearest exit,” and “Tonight’s performances will not resume. Please make your way toward shelter, away from Grant Park”. Announcements were also made over loudspeakers and by stewards.

“We are disappointed to have to end today’s performances early, however our first priority is the safety of our fans, staff and artists,” said C3 Presents spokesperson Sandee Fenton.

It’s not the first time the event has been affected by the weather. In 2015 the final day of the festival was cut short by a nearby storm, and in 2012 the site was evacuated for similar reasons.

Very sad Chicago City & police evacuated Grant Park early on in our show tonight due to lightning strikes nearby. We will be back as soon as we can. Thanks to all those that were rocking in the storm. Amazing fans as always.

A post shared by MUSE (@muse) on Aug 3, 2017 at 8:11pm PDT

The 100,000-capacity festival runs from 3-6 August. Artists include The Killers, Arcade Fire, The xx, Alt-J, Chance the Rapper and Blink-182.

 


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107,000 for wet but “euphoric” OpenAir 2017

A total of 107,000 people attended last weekend’s OpenAir St Gallen, with organisers praising the festival’s “euphoric and peaceful experience” in spite of the challenges posed by wet weather.

Festivalgoers took the muddy conditions in their stride – the hashtag #schlammgallen (#mudgallen) was trending through the weekend – with 20,000 people visiting the Swiss festival on Thursday 29 June and 29,000 each day on Friday, Saturday and Saturday.

It is the first year since 2011 OpenAir has failed to reach capacity, although Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten attributes the slight drop in attendance (there were reportedly about 1,000 tickets unsold) to rumours the festival was already sold out.

Festival promoter Christof Huber says he “takes off [his] hat to our incredible audience, who made the festival a real highlight despite the rain and cold temperatures”.

Despite cold and rainy weather conditions, the event was an euphoric but peaceful experience”

New for 2017 was the Campfire stage – which, true to its name, hosted local artists including Silas Kutschmann, Emanuel Reiter and Turtur in a small (~150-cap.) campfire setting – an expanded Plaza area featuring “food, design and street culture” and several new other food and drink options.

For the second year running, the festival also partnered with Zurich-based nonprofit myclimate to minimise the environmental impact of its food offering. Other eco-friendly achievements included 91% of reusable cups being recycled and 89% of tents taken home, underlining what OpenAir calls its “[well] known efforts in sustainability”.

Headliners were Biffy Clyro, Bastille, Justice, alt-J and German punks Die Toten Hosen, with other performers including Lorde, Glass Animals, Cage the Elephant and Confidence Man.

OpenAir St Gallen will return on 28 June–1 July 2018.

 


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