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Ticketmaster Slammed Over Updated Language in Refund Policy

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  • Ticketmaster updated language in its refund policy to only promise returns for canceled events.
  • The previous language also included refunds for postponed and rescheduled events, so many assumed the change was suspicious given the number of shows effected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Ticketmaster claims that the language update was only intended to clarify that refunds for postponed/rescheduled shows were never up to them, but instead event organizers.
  • StubHub was also slammed for changing its refund policy. Rather than a full refund, StubHub users will get a credit worth 120% of the original cost of their ticket but only if an event is canceled.

Language Change in Refund Policy Causes Outrage

Ticketmaster updated the language in its refund policy amid the coronavirus pandemic, causing confusion and anger from ticketholders hoping to get their money back for canceled events. 

Ticketmaster’s refund policy previously stated that “refunds are available if your event is postponed, rescheduled or canceled.” Now, it’s been cut down to say that “refunds are available if your event is canceled,” leaving postponed and rescheduled shows in limbo. 

As the coronavirus spreads artists like Justin Bieber, BTS, and others have postponed shows left and right, meaning a lot of fans are wondering if a refund will be coming their way. Many have taken their frustrations to Twitter. Some hoped that artists would move to fully canceling tours to aid refunds, while others thought this should motivate artists to move their sales from Ticketmaster to other platforms. 

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) also tweeted about the new policy language, saying the ticket selling giant was in a “competition to provide the worst customer service in any industry.

Ticketmaster Claims Policy is Consistent

Ticketmaster, however, is claiming that there has not actually been a change in their policy. The company gave statements to USA Today and the New York Times claiming their refund policy has remained consistent, and that this was simply a change in wording for clarity.

Ticketmaster put out a blog post in March titled “Information Regarding the Cancellation and Rescheduling of Live Events” to explain its policy moving forward as events were forced to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns.

“As we receive updates from artists, teams and show organizers on their postponed and rescheduled events, as well as their individual refund policies, we will be providing fans with the latest news on their event status via this comprehensive information portal,” the company wrote. 

In that portal, fans can view the status of upcoming events to see if their shows had been canceled. 

“As always, canceled events are automatically refunded,” the post continued. “If an event organizer is offering refunds for postponed or rescheduled events, a refund link will appear on your Ticketmaster account. Otherwise, you are encouraged to periodically check back online to see if the status of their event has changed.”

All of this was essentially to say that refunds could still be offered in the event of a postponed or rescheduled concert, but the responsibility lies with the event’s organizer, not Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster claims that this has always been the case, but fans were still irritated as the initial wording of their refund policy implied guaranteed refunds.

Some have also had trouble getting money refunded to their accounts. One concert goer told the New York Times that of the many shows she had lined up this year that are no longer happening, but she has not seen the money for any. 

“I have about $3,000 tied up in these tickets,” she said. “This is my money that they are holding hostage.”

Some artists have given fans varying information about what will happen to their tickets now that their concerts are put on hold. Former One Direction star Niall Horan, who canceled his 2020 tour, told his fans they will get full refunds, and to visit his website for more information. On the other hand, Justin Bieber, who postponed his tour, told fans to hang tight to their tickets while new dates are being settled. 

Others, like Camila Cabello, are simply telling fans that more information is coming down the pipeline. 

Anger at StubHub

Ticketmaster is not the only ticket vendor causing frustrations with their refund policy. The latest changes to StubHub’s refund policy have also raised eyebrows. If an event is postponed, tickets remain with the buyer until a new date has been selected. If it has been rescheduled, StubHub send the new details but if the buyer cannot make it, no refund will be given. SubHub users will be left to resell the ticket on the site. 

If the event has been cancelled, StubHub will give the buyer a coupon worth 120% of the original order that can be used through the end of 2021 as a credit on their account. In no case was a full cash refund offered.

As a result of this, StubHub is being sued, with some saying they should be legally obligated to give money back for canceled events. Some have also complained that refund credits have not made it to their accounts within the promised timeframes. 

Impact on Concert Industry

Fans are not the only ones who stand to lose from canceled events during this pandemic. According to Pollstar, the concert industry could lose close to $9 billion this year if events remain blacked out. That means that along with ticket sellers and venues, several jobs related to these massive events could be at risk.

“Each tour pays or helps pay the salaries of tens, if not hundreds of thousands who work in venues, production, marketing, concessions, security, box offices, sponsorships and more,” Pollstar notes. “Consider: each parked bus that would have been carrying crew not only includes other passengers who would be earning a living, but every night in every city on the route, hundreds of people would have been involved in making the magic happen at venues that now sit empty.”

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (USA Today) (LoudWire)

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Childish Gambino Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement

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  • Florida rapper Kidd Wes filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York Thursday against Grammy award-winning artist Childish Gambino.
  • Kidd Wes claims Childish Gambino’s 2018 song “This Is America” plagiarized his 2016 song “Made in America,” arguing that the two songs have “nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content.”
  • Kidd Wes’ lawyers said his client is seeking damages from profits for record sales, endorsements, and other income sources. 

Childish Gambino Faces Lawsuit

Grammy award-winning rapper Childish Gambino, AKA Donald Glover, is being sued for alleged copyright infringement by Florida rapper Kidd Wes.

Kidd Wes, whose real name is Emelike Nwosuocha, claims Glover’s 2018 song “This Is America” plagiarized his song “Made in America,” which came out in 2016.

According to Pitchfork, he filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court on Thursday arguing that “the substantial similarities between both songs include, but are not limited to, nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content contained in the chorus—or ‘hook’—sections that are the centerpieces of both songs.”

Pitchfork reported that defendants in the suit include Glover, the song’s co-writer Young Thug, producer Lüdwig Goransson, Kobalt Music, RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Young Stoner Life Publishing LLC, 300 Entertainment, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Roc Nation, Universal Music Publishing Group, and Warner Chappell Music.

“This Is America” and its accompanying music video were praised for providing stark social commentary on America’s history with racism, inequality, and gun violence. In 2019, it won both Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, making it the first rap song to take home the prize in either of those top categories. The song has been streamed over 465 million times on Spotify and the music video has been viewed on YouTube over 773 million times.

Lawyers Argue Similarities Are “Beyond Coincidental”

The music video for “Made in America” has just over 415,000 views on YouTube. Nwosuocha has 12,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. While Nwosuocha may have a smaller platform than Glover, his lawyers claim it is no mistake that the two songs sound alike. 

“The similarities between the two pieces of music are beyond coincidental, and amounts to infringement as alleged in the complaint filed by our client, Emelike Nwosuocha, professionally known as Kidd Wes,” attorneys Imran H. Ansari and La’Shawn N. Thomas told Pitchfork. “Mr. Nwosuocha is confident in his claims, and simply seeks the credit and compensation he deserves for the unauthorized use of his music.” 

Nwosuocha is reportedly seeking damages from profit in roughly 43 instances, including record sales, ringtones, endorsements, and record masters.

Glover has not responded publicly to the lawsuit. This is not the first time he has been accused of plagiarism over the song “This Is America.” Previously, he was accused of taking inspiration from New York rapper Jase Harley’s song “American Pharaoh.” At the time, Harley said he did not want to take legal action. Glover’s manager also denied Glover stole from Harley’s work.

See what others are saying: (Pitchfork) (A.V. Club) (The Guardian)

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MrBeast Accused of Creating Toxic Workplace

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  • YouTuber MrBeast, who is known for his massive giveaways, was accused of fostering a toxic workplace in a Tuesday article by The New York Times. 
  • One former employee claimed he quit after a week because MrBeast had unreasonable demands and “nothing ever worked for him.”
  • Another, named Matt Turner, said he was berated almost every day and was often called a “phrase used to insult people with mental disabilities.” 
  • Turner previously posted several videos about his experience working for MrBeast. In one, he praised the YouTuber and thanked him for a fun experience, but in another, he painted a negative and hostile picture of MrBeast.

MrBeast Accused of Creating Toxic Workplace

YouTuber MrBeast was accused of creating a toxic workplace in a Tuesday article from The New York Times. 

Jimmy Donaldson, who goes by MrBeast online, is known for his massive giveaways and “stunt philanthropy” videos. He has gained a substantial following and as The Times, noted, is a huge influence for many young creators. 

However, former employees said that behind the scenes, Donaldson is a very different person. According to The Times, his corporate entities “have been rife with favoritism and bullying.”

Matt Turner, who was an editor for Donaldson between 2018 and 2019, said that he was berated “almost every day” and that Donaldson often called him by a “phrase used to insult people with mental disabilities,” which would leave him in tears. 

According to the report, Donaldson initially largely hired friends to work for him, but as his empire grew, so did his number of staffers. Turner told The Times that while those friends got to be in videos, he struggled to be acknowledged. 

“I was not to be credited for anything I did,” Turner said. “I’d ask for credit, he’d credit someone else.”

Another former staffer, Nate Anderson, said he worked for Donaldson for a week in 2018 before quitting because of what he described as unreasonable demands.

“Nothing ever worked for him,” he told The Times. “He always wanted it a certain way.”

When Anderson uploaded a video describing his experience, he was met with hateful messages and even death threats from Donaldson’s fans. Turner said the same happened to him when he posted videos and wrote about his experience on social media. 

The Times spoke to, 20-year-old Akash Rathod, a fan who found Donaldson’s silence regarding these complaints and the subsequent death threats from his followers troubling. 

“There needs to be more from Mr. Beast on the issues his fans are causing,” Rathod said. “It’s not enough just to make positive videos.”

Donaldson did not give a comment to The Times for their piece. A representative for him declined to talk about the workplace allegations and only acknowledged a part of the piece that briefly mentioned Donaldson’s past use of slurs and offensive jokes.

“When Jimmy was a teenager and was first starting out, he carelessly used, on more than one occasion, a gay slur,” the representative said. 

They added that he now “knows there is no excuse for homophobic rhetoric” and “has grown up and matured into someone that doesn’t speak like that.”

Former Employee’s Previous Remarks

Rogue Rocket reached out to Donaldson for comment. In response, MrBeast sent a clip that Turner previously posted where he discussed his work experience in a much brighter light. In that video, which has since been deleted but exists in reuploads, Turner referred to the gig as a “dream job” and recommended others work for Donaldson. 

“If you have the opportunity to get this job that I had, totally take it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. It was basically just like a friendship. And going to work was a blast each and every day.” 

Turner then said his decision to part ways from the role was mutual, as the company knew he would not be in the job for the long haul. Turner said he was going to college, wanted to backpack across Asia, and was considering moving to Los Angeles eventually, so they decided to part ways. 

He also claimed that even after he was no longer working there, Donaldson, who had been paying for his rent while he worked for him, continued to pay for him to stay in his apartment and encouraged him to stay as long as he needed. Turner said he even continued to receive paychecks after he left the job for an unspecified period of time. 

“And that is basically funding my trip to backpack across Asia,” he explained. “He’s saying, ‘You don’t have to work for me, but I’ll still pay you. And because of that, I hope that lets you live in L.A., go to college, backpack Asia, whatever you want to do after this, I want to set you up for that.’” 

“If you’re watching this MrBeast, I fucking love you bro,” he continued. 

However, these are not the only remarks Turner has made about his experience working for Donaldson prior to the release of The New York Times report. He previously posted several tweets, which were later taken down, describing a hostile environment where he was “bullied” and “having mental breakdowns day after day.”

He also posted another video, which was deleted but has been partially reuploaded by other channels, where he said that he only posted positive remarks about Donaldson to “clout chase” because he was afraid of what would happen if he spoke ill of the YouTuber. He then painted a much more confrontational picture of Donaldson, telling a story where Donaldson allegedly wiped an entire project and cursed at him after being unhappy with an edit.

Taylor Laurenz, who wrote the article about Donaldson in The New York Times, told Insider that this story is reflective of a larger issue within creator culture. 

“For a large portion of Gen Z that doesn’t want to be creators themselves, working for a creator seems like an absolute dream job,” she said. “But we see time and time again that these creators have basically little to no management experiences and, behind the scenes, can create a really hostile, stressful environment.”

“Working for a 22-year-old YouTube star isn’t going to be the most professional work environment,” she added. “But if you are posturing yourself as a business leader or the next Elon Musk, you should think about the type of work culture you’re creating and what you are rewarding.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Insider) (Dexerto)

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Will Smith To Make Docuseries About Getting Fit After Saying He’s “In The Worst Shape” of His Life

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  • Will Smith announced on Tuesday that he will star in a YouTube Originals series called “Best Shape of My Life,” which will premiere in 2022 and follow the actor on a fitness and weight loss journey.
  • The news comes just a few days after Smith shared that he was in “the worst shape” of his life in an Instagram post that resonated with several people as many across the country struggle with pandemic weight gain.
  • “This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” Smith wrote in his announcement post on Instagram. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better… Hope it works!”

Will Smith to Star in YouTube Originals Docu-series

Just days after sharing that he is in the “worst shape” of his life, actor Will Smith announced on Tuesday that he will be starring in a YouTube Originals series called “Best Shape of My Life.”

His initial Instagram post revealing his weight gain resonated with many who praised him for being honest about his body changing during the pandemic. 

“You’re a real one for this,” YouTuber Casey Neistat wrote. 

“Fucking love it. That’s confidence,” Smith’s Suicide Squad co-star Joel Kinnaman added.

According to the show’s official description, “Best Shape of My Life” will follow “the story of Will Smith, looking up one day to find himself in middle age, rebuilding his body into the best shape of his life and getting his groove back along the way.” In it, he will challenge his physical abilities with the help of pro-athletes, scientists, other experts, and YouTube creators. 

The docuseries will air in six parts in 2022. It marks his second project with YouTube Originals, following his 2018 bungee-jumping stunt that raised money for charity to celebrate his 50th birthday. “Best Shape of My Life” is being produced by Westbrook Media, a company the Fresh Prince star launched with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Series Will Address Pandemic Weight Gain

“This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” Smith wrote on Instagram. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better”

“Imma get in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE,” he continued. “Hope it works!”

Pandemic weight gain has been a common issue for people all over the world. According to Healthline, 61% of Americans said they gained weight as the world shuttered because of COVID-19.

See what others are saying: (Huff Post) (Entertainment Weekly) (Billboard)

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