- Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is leaving athletic wear giant Nike to partner with Athleta, a women-centric brand she says aligns closely with her values.
- “Using my voice has been very empowering for me and I am grateful to embark on this new journey with Athleta to inspire young girls and women to do the same,” she said in a statement.
- As part of her deal with Athleta, Biles will have her own line of performance wear and Athleta will support the post-Olympics gymnastics tour she plans on starting herself.
- While Biles cited no ill-will towards Nike, the news follows years of criticism the brand has faced over its treatment of female athletes
Simone Biles Partners With Athleta
Olympic gold-medalist Simone Biles confirmed Friday that she is parting ways with Nike to partner with Athleta, a women-centric apparel brand she says aligns closely with her values.
Nike is one of the biggest athletic brands in the world and signs some of the country’s top names in sports. Athleta is owned by GAP Inc., but is much smaller in comparison. Biles’ choice to move to a more compact brand in an effort to center her activism and platform is a notable one.
“Using my voice has been very empowering for me and I am grateful to embark on this new journey with Athleta to inspire young girls and women to do the same,” the gymnast said in a statement. “The opportunity to encourage young girls to reach their full potential and be a force for change is incredibly powerful.”
“Together, I believe we can help girls to confidently and passionately take on the world in their athletic endeavors and beyond.”
As part of her collaboration with the store, Biles will have her own line of performance wear. Athleta will also support the post-Olympics gymnastics tour she plans on starting herself.
When asked by The Wall Street Journal if she felt like she did not have the flexibility to start her own line at Nike, Biles said, “Not necessarily, but I also feel like Athleta is committed to diversity and inclusion, of all women, backgrounds, ages, sizes, abilities and races.”
Behind Biles’ Choice To Leave Nike
Biles also expressed no ill-will towards Nike and said it is a great place for women. Similarly, a Nike spokesperson gave a statement to The Wall Street Journal expressing support for the Olympian.
“Simone Biles is an incredible athlete and we wish her the very best,” the statement said. “We will continue to champion, celebrate and evolve to support our female athletes.”
By moving to Athleta, Biles now gets the chance to use her voice in conversations with women in the company’s community about what it means to be a female in the industry. She also gets to participate in the brand’s Power of She fund, which, according to its website, aims to “advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity” and “enable all girls and women to reach their potential in sports and life.”
“Now that I’m older and kind of in the world a little bit more, I see and I know and I learn and I grow from things,” she told The Journal. “So to partner with Athleta, I think they stand for everything that I stand for…I just thought it was time for a change.”
“I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing,” she continued.
Not the First Woman To Dump Nike for Athleta
While Biles has not participated in these conversations herself, her decision comes after long-running criticism Nike has faced for the way it treats female athletes. In 2019, Olympic runner Allyson Felix penned an op-ed in The New York Times claiming that contract negotiations with Nike became difficult after her choice to start a family. She added that for female athletes, pregnancy can often be treated as a kiss of death.
She said that following her pregnancy, Nike wanted to pay her 70% less.
“I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth,” she wrote. “I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could? Nike declined.”
Nike ended up changing their maternity policy following backlash, but Felix added that her “disappointment is not just with Nike, but with how the sports apparel industry at large treats female athletes.”
Felix ended up moving to Athleta as well, which prides itself on empowering women. Now that it has nabbed two of the country’s top female Olympians, it can further that message.
“Athleta has a long history of building community for women and girls, and we are going to work together to develop programming focused on supporting and lifting up young women and girls,” Jana Henning, Athleta’s Chief Product Officer said to Forbes. “Our mission is to unlock the limitless potential of women and girls.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (Forbes) (ESPN)
“Don’t Worry Darling” Tops the Box Office Amid Bad Press
Audiences are already giving the film higher praise than critics did.
Young Women Flock to “Don’t Worry Darling”
Weeks of controversies and rumors did not prevent “Don’t Worry Darling” from finding victory at the box office, with the Olivia Wilde-directed thriller debuting at number one over the weekend and raking in $19.2 million.
Wilde also acted in the mid-century mystery, which starrs Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan.
Women led ticket sales for the picture, comprising 66% of the audience, according to several reports. At least partially due to the appeal of Styles, crowds also skewed young, with over half under the age of 25.
Overseas, the film made over $10 million, bringing its total for the weekend to $30 million. That number is especially impressive since the R-rated drama had a budget of $35 million.
“Don’t Worry Darling” had been plagued with weeks of rumors about behind-the-scenes drama leading up to its release. Among other bouts of gossip, many online speculated that Pugh and Wilde had riffs on set, leading to Pugh’s refusal to promote the project. One report alleged the two got into a screaming match, but sources on set denied it.
Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, who was originally cast in the picture, also got into a public he-said-she-said about whether he quit the film or was fired.
The drama hit a boiling point during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival when Twitter users circulated a video they claimed showed Styles spiting on Pine, though both parties have denied that allegation.
A Film Riddled With Rumors
Furthering the bad press were the bad reviews. Critics largely panned the film, sticking it with a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. After this first weekend, moviegoers seem to have a more favorable outlook, as it has a 79% audience score as of Monday.
Jeff Goldstein, the distribution chief for Warner Bros., told the Associated Press that “the background noise” caused by these controversies “had a neutral impact” on its box office haul. The studio released a statement saying it was pleased with the movie’s earnings.
Some analysts believe that, if anything, the online gossip and fodder may have aided the film’s box office performance.
In a tweet recapping the weekend’s box office, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, said the “drama sparked a huge wave of interest.”
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Box Office Mojo) (New York Times)
Senators Introduce Legislation Requiring Radios to Pay Royalties to Artists
Sen. Padilla argued the bill is necessary to give artists the “dignity and respect they deserve.”
The American Music Fairness Act
Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act to the Senate on Thursday, a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers and rights holders.
The bill was previously introduced to the House last year. According to a release, the United States is the only democratic country where artists are not compensated for their music’s use on AM or FM radio. While songwriters and publishers receive payment, these stations have never been required to give a slice of the pie to performers and copyright holders.
On streaming and satellite radio, however, both groups receive royalty payments.
In a statement, Padilla said it is time the country starts treating “our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”
“California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene,” he added. “That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important.”
“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark,” Blackburn echoed. “Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming.”
The American Music Fairness Act would require terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to music creators when their songs are played. It would also protect smaller stations that either make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue or who have a parent company that makes less than $10 million in annual revenue by letting them play unlimited music for under $500 a year.
The bill would also require other countries to pay American artists for the use of their work.
Support From Major Music Groups
The legislation is endorsed by a number of groups, including the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians.
If passed, the bill could move a lot of money into the pockets of performers. According to the Recording Academy, when American music gets international airplay, other countries collect royalties for American artists, amounting to around $200 million every year. However, they “never pay those royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right.”
Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, argues that the money belongs to the artists.
“Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now,” Drescher said in a statement. “The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair NOW!”
Last year, Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bill with essentially the opposite agenda. It aims to reserve radio’s royalty-free status. The American Music Fairness Act is being viewed as a counter-response to this bill.
Kanye West Says Catalog Is Potentially Being Sold Without His Permission: “Just Like Taylor Swift”
After Swift lost the rights to her life’s work, she took on the endeavor of re-recording her first six albums.
Kanye’s Catalog Potentially Up For Grabs
Following reports that Kanye West was considering selling his catalog, the artist took to Instagram on Tuesday to claim his work is potentially being sold without his approval.
On Monday, Billboard reported that West had been “quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog.”
While the outlet’s sources did not reveal what price West was aiming for, Billboard estimated that West might be looking at a $175 million valuation for his discography. Some of Billboard’s sources seemingly suggested that West and his team were specifically behind the effort to sell his work, but others claimed the “catalog was never actively shopped” and instead, West had been receiving offers from potential buyers.
Not long after, several news outlets picked the story up and reported that West was gearing up to sell his catalog. West responded by writing on his Instagram story that this was not the case.
“Not For Sale”
“Just like Taylor Swift,” he said, referencing music mogul Scooter Braun purchasing Swift’s masters with Big Machine Records without her approval. “My publishing is being put up for my sale without my knowledge. Not for sale.”
Swift referred to the sale of her masters to Braun as her “worst case scenario.” In order to regain ownership of her work, she is in the process of re-recording her first six albums, all of which she originally made under Big Machine. Two have already been released and proved to be wildly commercially successful.
According to Forbes, it is unclear which of his albums West owns the masters to, if he owns any at all. Because of this, it is unknown what kind of position he would be put in if his catalog, which is currently managed by Sony, was sold.
The status of any potential for his work to be sold became foggier later on Tuesday when West shared screenshots of a text exchange he had. He asked an unidentified person what was happening with the catalog sale, and that person responded by calling it “fake news.”
“Of course every publisher wants to pitch [their] hardest buy, smh,” the text continued.
West did not further indicate if those texts were meant to clarify that his catalog was, in fact, not up for sale, or just further distance himself from any potential acquisition.