What Music Companies Are Doing for AAPI Heritage Month

With a marked increase in anti-Asian violence amid the coronavirus pandemic and #StopAsianHate rallies and protests making international headlines earlier this year, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month has taken on a heightened significance in 2021. Music companies have taken note, with many announcing a range of initiatives to observe the annual month-long celebration that honors the contributions of the AAPI community in America and around the world.

Below, Billboard has compiled a running list of AAPI-focused initiatives announced by record labels, streaming services and more to commemorate the month.

88rising

The Asian-led music company will host AAPI-focused programming on its SiriusXM channel, 88rising Radio (ch. 305), throughout the month of May. This includes “AAPI A-Z,” a twice-hourly, alphabet-themed spotlight of AAPI artists by 88rising Radio hosts; “88rising Speakers,” an ongoing series of conversations exploring the Asian-American experience with AAPI leaders across industries; weekly takeovers of 88rising shows House of Jade and There There by guest DJs from the AAPI community; and a May 25 conversation between Steve Aoki and 88rising Radio host DJ Sosuperam on Sosupersounds.

Amazon Music

The streaming service is partnering with AEG, Gold House, Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation (PBA) and Transparent Arts on this year’s “Identity 2021″ benefit livestream. Slated to take place on May 15 via Amazon Music’s Twitch channel, the event will feature live performances, panels, PSAs and more with members of the AAPI community, including Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, James Reid, Guapdad 4000, ATEEZ, Kalani Peʻa and Steve Aoki. The livestream will raise money for  PBA’s scholarship programs as well as the AAPI Community Fund.

Amazon Music has also announced plans to release a weekly series of Amazon Originals for in May that will celebrate AAPI artists across a number of genres. Episodes are slated to debut every Friday on its Mixtape Asia playlist, with the first being “Rent Free,” a new Amazon Original track from Dumbfoundead featuring Filipino-American singer, songwriter and record producer Jeff Bernat.

The service will additionally launch several new playlists in commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month including Made in Hawaii (spotlighting Hawaiian musicians), The Collective (new hip-hop from AAPI artists) and [RE]DISCOVER, which will center on the Asian-led collective and record label 88rising. A number of existing playlists showcasing regional scenes across Asia, including Bollywood Tadka and K-Pop Now, will also be highlighted on the platform.

Finally, Amazon Music will release a new short film celebrating API women artists “who break norms and defy stereotypes to redefine culture,” with featured artists to include Audrey Nuna, Deb Never, Joyce Wrice, and Maliibu Miitch. On May 7, the service will also begin debuting new weekly episodes of Amazon Music’s Twitch show Group Thread: IYKYK featuring AAPI artists and creatives.

Apple Music

The streaming service has put together an AAPI Heritage Month hub featuring a variety of content, including celebrity playlists from AAPI artists, producers, DJs and advocates such as Steve Aoki, UMI, Guapdad 4000, H.E.R., Hailee Steinfeld and Common Kings; the playlist Celebrating Asian American Voices, featuring some of the most influential Asian American artists working today; the short film “Unapologetically Asian” directed by Amber Park; and Apple Music radio episodes featuring interviews with artists such as Rina Sawayama, Sophia Chang, UMI and more.

Grammy Museum

The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live in Los Angeles – which is slated to reopen on May 21 – will celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with “archived programs and exhibits featuring AAPI talent.” The programs will highlight Grammy winners and nominees including Daniel Ho, Tak Matsumoto, Anoushka Shankar and Henry Kapono, among others.

These archived public programs will additionally be available on Collection: live, the Grammy Museum’s online streaming service (available for $2.99/month or $29.99/year).

Sony Music

In tandem with other Sony companies in the U.S. this past March, Sony Music made monetary donations to Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).

Going forward, SMG will host a series of AAPI-themed virtual events throughout the month of May via HUE, an employee network group “dedicated to uplifting people of color.” These include mental wellness workshop “Stop AAPI Hate: Compassionate and Radical Healing”; a virtual potluck spotlighting AAPI food, culture and history; an executive roundtable discussing AAPI representation in the media and entertainment industry; a panel discussion with politicians and activists on fostering inter-community solidarity across POC groups; and a series of bystander and intervention and de-escalation sessions presented by AAJC and the anti-harassment organization Hollaback!

Spotify

To commemorate the month, Spotify has created the AAPI content hub, a dedicated space that will house “leading AAPI voices alongside fresh new releases from creatives across the audio landscape.” The streaming service is additionally refreshing several playlists highlighting AAPI and mixed-race artists — including Dope AF, .ORG, Desi Hits and AAPI Pride — with new music. It has also partnered with Audrey Nuna to cover G-Dragon’s “That XX,” a song that pays homage to Nuna’s AAPI heritage.

On the podcasting front, Spotify has unveiled a “dedicated podcast shelf” featuring episodes that address racism and xenophobia. These include new episodes of Asian Enough, featuring U.S. vice president Kamala Harris discussing the rise in anti-Asian violence and how government leaders should address racism in America; Asia In-Depth, where hosts Leesa Lin and Charlie Woo discuss the rise in attacks against Asians during the pandemic; and Dear Asian Girl, whose hosts will discuss their personal experiences with Asian fetishization, the model minority myth and the lack of Asian representation in media.

Elsewhere, Spotify has partnered with illustrator Jocelyn Tsaih to create a special mural in New York City’s Chinatown highlighting the strength of the neighborhood’s residents. It will also launch “Proud to Be AAPI,” a social campaign encouraging AAPI artists, podcasters, influencers and AAPI-identifying Spotify employees to share stories about why they’re proud of their heritage.

Universal Music Group

Throughout the month, UMG and its AAPI employee resource group UTOPIAA ERG will celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with content and virtual programming to “educate, celebrate, and activate” its employees. This includes a special performance by Filipina rapper Ruby Ibarra on May 6; a “fireside chat” with UMG India & South Asia managing director and CEO Devraj Sanyal about the Indian music industry; a screening of the Eddie Huang-directed movie “Boogie” followed by a Q&A with Huang; and a performance by a to-be-named UMG-signed AAPI artist on May 26.

Universal Music has additionally curated the Spotify playlist Inclusion Is Universal, which features AAPI artists signed to the UMG roster.

YouTube

YouTube Music has launched a flagship playlist entitled “Celebrating APAHM” that will feature both emerging and established Asian-American artists including cover star Audrey Nuna, Eric Nam, Raja Kumari and keshi. Other playlists showcasing Asian artists will follow throughout the month.

Over on the YouTube Spotlight channel, the service will showcase AAPI artists and others including Anna Akana, Steve Aoki, Hasan Minhaj and Amanda Lee. The participants will discuss what it was like growing up and living in North America while “juggling multiple cultures, languages and customs” and how those experiences shaped who they became. Additionally, upcoming episodes of the behind-the-scenes video series Released will feature special AAPI programming.

 

Who Do You Think Should Be Nominated for Album of the Year at the 2022 Grammys? Vote!

The March 14 Grammys are barely in our rear-view, but with the eligibility period for the 2022 Grammy Awards starting back in September, we already have a lot of new albums to choose from for next year’s ceremony. So who do you think should be nominated for album of the year at the 2022 awards show?

If you’re a Taylor Swift fan, there are a couple of options from your fave that could be up for the night’s top prize: December’s Evermore and April’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version) — a newly re-recorded edition of Swift’s 2009 album of the year winner. Miley Cyrus could land her first nod in the category with Plastic Hearts, or Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber could score their second nods with Positions and Justice, respectively.

It would be a huge look for Korean pop music if BTS, Blackpink or NCT were recognized, and Bad Bunny and Karol G could make history if their Spanish-language albums were nominated.

There are plenty of other huge albums that could be in consideration — but who do you think should be nominated for album of the year? Vote below.

Coldplay Set to Open 2021 Brit Awards

Coldplay is set to open the 2021 Brit Awards on May 11 performing on a pontoon on the Thames near The O2 arena, where the show is being held. Their performance will follow the release of their new single “Higher Power,” which is being released on Friday.

This will be Coldplay’s third performance at the Brits in five years. They opened the 2016 show with “Hymn for the Weekend.” And they teamed with The Chainsmokers the following year to perform their collab smash “Something Just Like This.”

This will be Coldplay’s first TV performance in more than a year. Likewise, the Brit Awards will be the first live music show at The O2 in more than a year.

Coldplay has won British group at the Brits four times, more often than any other group. They have won British album of the year three times, which puts them in a tie with Arctic Monkeys for the lead. Coldplay has won two other Brit Awards, for a total of nine. Their 28 Brit nominations is the most by any group.

The Brit Awards 2021 with Mastercard – as the show is officially billed – has previously announced performances by Olivia Rodrigo, Arlo Parks, Dua Lipa, Griff (this year’s Rising Star winner), Headie One, and Rag’n’Bone Man & P!nk with the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir.

This year’s Brit Awards, hosted by comedian and actor Jack Whitehall, will be exclusively broadcast on ITV and ITV Hub.

The Brit Awards last month announced that it will be the first major indoor music event to welcome back a live audience. The indoor ceremony and live show will form part of the U.K. government’s scientific Events Research Programme, using enhanced testing approaches to examine how events can take place without the need for social distancing.

Michael Jackson’s Likeness Valued at $4.1 Million in Big Tax Court Win for Estate

More than four years after going head-to-head with the IRS in U.S. Tax Court, Michael Jackson’s estate has emerged largely victorious — with a federal judge finding the artist’s worth at the time of his death to be much closer to its estimate than the government’s and declining to issue any penalties.

The dispute centered on how much Jackson’s image and likeness were worth when he died in 2009, which would determine how much in taxes the estate would owe the IRS. It also includes the worth of Jackson’s interest in New Horizon Trust II, which included his stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and New Horizon Trust III, which included Mijac Music, a publishing catalog that owned the copyrights to compositions Jackson wrote or co-wrote and works by other songwriters. (The estate and IRS generally agreed on the value of the other assets.)

On Monday, after a lengthy deliberation process, U.S. Tax Court Judge Mark Holmes issued a more than 250-page ruling that begins by acknowledging the complexities of the situation.

“From the time he was a child Michael Jackson was famous; and there were times in his life, testified his executor, when he was the most famous person in the world,” writes Holmes. “There were certainly years when he was the most well-known popular-music star, and even after his death there have been years when he was the world’s highest-earning entertainer. But there were also many years when he was more famous for his unusual behavior and not his unusual talent. And there were some years where his fame was turned infamous by serious accusations of the most noisome acts. We make no particular judgment about what Jackson did or is alleged to have done, but we must decide how what he did and is alleged to have done affected the value of what he left behind.”

The IRS valued Jackson’s likeness and image at about $434 million, while the estate said it was only worth about $2,000 at the time he had died. The reason? Jackson struggled to rehabilitate his image amid allegations of child molestation. In fact, one of the estate’s experts estimated that in the final six months of his life Jackson only made $24 in image and likeness-related revenue. (After further expert consultation leading up to the trial the estate would increase its valuation to around $3 million.)

Holmes notes that, in a situation like this, it’s vital to separate what the value was at the time of Jackson’s death from what the value would later become because of the estate’s management of those assets.

Because there’s no seeing the future, the estate’s experts compared Jackson’s posthumous prospects to those of other departed celebrities, specifically Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Bettie Page, Jackie Robinson, Princess Diana and Elvis Presley. It also factored in public perception, balancing respect for his artistic talents against damage to his reputation. Holmes notes that the “stigma is reflected in his lack of endorsements or merchandise agreements unrelated to a musical tour or album from 1993 until his death.”

The IRS, however, gave greater weight to “foreseeable opportunities,” including themed attractions, branded merchandise, a Cirque du Soleil show, a film and a Broadway musical. Again, Presley was used as a bit of a template, as were other celebrities with brand deals (Tony Hawk, Paris Hilton, Regis Philbin, Jennifer Lopez and Tyra Banks). Meanwhile, the Cirque show became a factor because Jackson’s ex-manager Tohme Tohme said negotiations were underway before Jackson’s death.

Holmes found the hypotheticals to be “unreliable and unpersuasive” — and notes that the government’s expert failed to account for any costs of managing the likeness rights and seems to have ignored the hit Jackson’s reputation had taken. He writes, “Any projection that finds a torrent of revenue, and not just a trickle, from such a man’s image and likeness — especially one who in the last two years of his life was so unpopular he did not even have a Q score — is simply not reasonable.” (Then, there’s the whole perjury thing.)

Ultimately, Holmes found Jackson’s likeness to be worth approximately $4.15 million at the time of his death, his interest in New Horizon Trust II (which included the Sony/ATV stake) to be valueless because at the time he died its liabilities exceeded its assets by about $89 million, and his interest in New Horizon Trust III (which included Mijac) to be just more than $107 million.

Holmes doesn’t fault the estate for its valuations and found no penalties are warranted.”

Jackson had outlived the peak of his popularity, but in the decades before his death he kept spending as if he had not,” writes Holmes. “Popular culture always moves on. There will come a time when Captain EO joins Monte Brewster and Terry Forbes as names that without googling sort of sound familiar, but only to people of a certain age or to students of entertainment history. And just as the grave will swallow Jackson’s fame, time will erode the Estate’s income. It resurrected and then sold what became its most valuable asset to Sony before trial. The value of what it has left, no matter how well managed, will now dwindle as Jackson’s copyrights expire and his image and likeness shuffle first into irrelevance and then into the public domain.”

John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of The Estate of Michael Jackson, on Monday issued this statement in response to the decision: “This thoughtful ruling by the U.S. Tax Court is a huge, unambiguous victory for Michael Jackson’s children. For nearly 12 years Michael’s Estate has maintained that the government’s valuation of Michael’s assets on the day he passed away was outrageous and unfair, one that would have saddled his heirs with an oppressive tax liability of more than $700 million. While we disagree with some portions of the decision, we believe it clearly exposes how unreasonable the IRS valuation was and provides a path forward to finally resolve this case in a fair and just manner.”

The estate was represented by attorneys from Hochman Salkin Toscher Perez; Hoffman Sabban & Watenmaker; Freeman Freeman Smiley; and longtime Jackson estate lawyer the late Howard Weitzman of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Selling Song Catalog

It looks like Hipgnosis has won yet another big music publishing acquisition, pocketing the Red Hot Chili Peppers song catalog in a deal ranging from $140 million to $150 million, according to sources.

It’s unclear if the acquisition has closed yet, but sources say the firm has notched the deal, which likely includes the band’s most popular songs, such as “Under The Bridge,” “Dani California,” “Snow (Hey Oh), “Californication,” “Otherside,” “Can’t Stop” and “Give It Away.”

The band members — Anthony Kiedis, Flea, John Frusciante and Chad Smith — collectively write many of their songs, so it appears that a majority of them would have needed to agree to sell their shares of the rights to make this deal happen. According to BMI, the Red Hot Chili Peppers song catalog is administered by Moebetoblame Music, under the guidance of lawyer Eric Greenspan, managing partner of the law firm Myman, Greenspan, Fox, Rosenberg Mobasser, Younger & Light LLP. Sources say Greenspan shopped the deal for the band.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers song catalog generates $5 million to $6 million in net publishers’ share (usually known as gross profit — although in this case its likely to include all revenue from the catalog), sources say, and it traded at a about a 25 times multiple, which calculates to about $125 million to $150 million total. At deadline, Greenspan and Hipgnosis couldn’t be reached for comment.

In order to help finance that deal, Hipgnosis sold 9 million new ordinary shares at £1.195 ($1.66) per share on April 29, bringing in £10.76 million ($14 million). Those shares are expected to be listed on the London Stock Exchange on May 5.

In January, Hipgnosis sold nearly 62 million shares and raised about £75 million ($104 million). In another move, on April 1, Hipgnosis converted from being a Guernsey-based company to becoming an investment trust.

Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon Clothing & Puma to Launch Limited Edition Collection

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It’s been two years since Nipsey Hussle died at age 33 after being shot outside his Marathon Clothing store in LA. Now, Marathon is honoring the late legend by teaming up with Puma for a new collaboration.

The collection, which is out on May 7, will represent the rapper’s spirit through a white co-branded Hussle Way Logo T-Shirt and a fresh take on the classic Puma Suede sneakers.

The shoes ($80) and tee ($45) will be available on puma.com on Friday (May 7), at the Puma NYC Flagship store and at select retailers, including Marathon Clothing.

“What It Feels Like,” Nipsey’s posthumous collaboration with Jay-Z that was featured on the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack, peaked at No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February, earning Hussle his third-highest-charting hit on the tally.

Last month, THE MARATHON Live Visual Album was unveiled by creative design company OkiDoki, Hussle’s family and The Marathon Clothing crew to honor the 10th anniversary of the late star’s pivotal THE MARATHON 2010 mixtape.

 

Dance Producer Pierce Fulton Dies at 28 After ‘Tragic Struggle With Mental Health’

Electronic producer Pierce Fulton has died at age 28.

On Monday (May 3), Fulton’s older brother Griff Fulton released a statement via social media announcing the death. “It breaks my heart to share with you that Pierce passed away on Thursday evening following a tragic struggle with mental health.”

Fulton made his name in the dance scene in the early and mid-2010s via house and progressive house productions released by labels including Armada, Monstercat, Anjunadeep and more. “Waiting for Tomorrow,” his 2018 collaboration with Martin Garrix and Mike Shinoda, hit No. 26 on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, while his solo track “Runaway” hit No. 1 on that same chart in 2014. Fulton also had charting tracks on the Dance Mix/Airplay Show chart. In January 2020, his collaborative project Leaving Laurel was released via Anjunadeep.

The dance music community is mourning Fulton’s death online, with artists including Audien, Louis the Child, Rezz, 3lau, BreatheCarolina, Tommy Sunshine, Manila Killa, Dave Dresden and many more — along with Spinnin’, Proximity, Anjunadeep and more labels and distributors — expressing their condolences.

“He was one of my best friends, and truly like a brother to me,” wrote Audien. “I don’t know what else to say on here.. RIP to someone truly special.”

Fulton is survived by his parents, his brother, his sister and his wife.

“The past year has been a difficult time for everyone,” Griff Fulton continued in his statement. “If you or anyone you know has been struggling, please take your intuition seriously, speak up about your feelings, and reach out for help.”

The statement continues that the family is planning to start an organization in Fulton’s honor. It also encouraged fans and friends to send their condolences, photos, videos and recollections of Fulton to pierce@piercefulton.com.

May is Mental Health Month. If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health or substance abuse disorders, reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national helpline 24/7 at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for confidential treatment referrals and information. For those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and/or distress, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.