THURSDAY 9 MARCH 2017 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: America's Copyright Royalty Board yesterday got around to thinking about what the country's mechanical royalty rates should be for the next five years. And to confirm that the worldwide music community was watching the process, the International Confederation Of Music Publishers vocalised its support for the US music publishing sector's bid to get the rates up... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Following a string of increasingly well-received singles and EPs, rock five-piece Vukovi release their debut album this Friday. Packed full of great songs, it combines euphoric hooks and riffs with darker lyrics, exploring relationships, depression, drug abuse and suicide. [READ MORE]
 
LATEST CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including SoundCloud's new mid-price streaming option, the music industry's failure to agree on transparency and Parliament's views on the matter, plus Vivendi's stern response to Spinal Tap's $400 million lawsuit. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
 
LATEST CMU TRENDS: UK music creatives and their managers have called on the government to assist in their bid to secure more transparency in the digital music market. What do music creatives want to know, why do they need to know it, and can government really help? We review the transparency debate. CMU Trends articles are available to premium subscribers. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Music publishers worldwide follow mechanical rate proceedings in US
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LEGAL 72% of web users won't be budged by ISP's anti-piracy emails
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DEALS Stargate sign record deal with RCA
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LIVE BUSINESS UK Music cautiously welcomes Chancellor's statement of business rates, though still not entirely clear how music venues will be affected
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BRANDS & MERCH Airbnb decides it's time to do something with music
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INDUSTRY PEOPLE Shesaid.so's Alternative Power 100 list recognises women in the music industry
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RELEASES Afghan Whigs announce new album
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy to release Merle Haggard covers album
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ONE LINERS Ditto Music, Harry Judd, Charli XCX, more
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AND FINALLY... Black Sabbath confirm split
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EVENTIM APOLLO - ASSISTANT TECHNICAL MANAGER (LONDON)
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MELODY VR - PROJECT MANAGER RESEARCH & OUTREACH (LONDON)
MelodyVR is the destination for music in virtual reality. Our Project Manager for Research & Outreach is responsible for identifying and connecting with the right artists, partners and opportunities as we continue to build a world-class content portfolio.

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SOLD OUT - JUNIOR SOCIAL MEDIA EXEC (LONDON)
Sold Out is an independent full service advertising agency, specialising in arts and entertainment for over 25 years. We are looking for two Junior Social Media Execs to support the business through effective implementation of social media campaigns for a variety of clients across the entertainment market.

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KUDOS RECORDS - SALES & LABEL MANAGER (LONDON)
Kudos Records is an independent music distribution company (est 1992). We provide physical and digital distribution services to a hand-picked selection of quality, independent record labels. Due to continued expansion, there now exists an opportunity to join our sales and label management team.

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MELODY VR - HEAD OF DIGITAL (LONDON)
MelodyVR is the destination for music in virtual reality. The Head of Digital (Content) is responsible for driving the strategic content strategy for MelodyVR, working in close collaboration with artists and our label partners to deliver this.

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MPA GROUP - TRAINEE FINANCIAL ACCOUNTANT (LONDON)
The MPA Group of Companies (MPA, MCPS, IMPEL and PMLL) is seeking a trainee financial accountant to assist the Director of Operations with all of the finance functions across the four companies as well as providing assistance with other finance related projects.

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Music publishers worldwide follow mechanical rate proceedings in US
America's Copyright Royalty Board yesterday got around to thinking about what the country's mechanical royalty rates should be for the next five years. And to confirm that the worldwide music community was watching the process, the International Confederation Of Music Publishers vocalised its support for the US music publishing sector's bid to get the rates up.

Mechanical royalties - paid to songwriters when recordings of their songs are copied and distributed - are covered by a compulsory licence Stateside. Which means songwriters and music publishers are obliged to license third parties making and distributing those copies at a statutory rate, so that rate-setting processes like this one are rather important.

Traditionally the main customers of mechanical rights have been record companies, which need a license from the relevant songwriter or music publisher every time they press a CD.
In the US, unlike in Europe, it was the label which paid the mechanical royalties on downloads too, so that iTunes didn't have to worry about making sure the owner of the song copyright was paid their share of any income.

However with streams, where both the mechanical and performing rights of the copyright are exploited, it is the digital platform that is the licensee and which therefore pays the mechanical royalties directly to the writer or publisher (or not as the case may be, as those songwriter lawsuits against various streaming services have demonstrated).

Discs and downloads also remain a decent part of the recorded music business for now of course, but - after a bit of a stand off - the US record industry reached a deal with the music publishers on mechanical royalty rates last year. Which means that the CRB hearing is very much focused on the rates paid by the streaming services, which are, after all, where all the growth is in recorded music these days.

Unsurprisingly, the digital platforms want to keep their royalty obligations down, while the songwriters and publishers want to push things up, or at least secure certain minimum guarantees over and above revenue share arrangements.

The National Music Publishers' Association and Nashville Songwriters Association International are fighting the music community's side in this battle, and earlier this week the former urged songwriters to put their name to an open letter to the tech giants and big streaming platforms; chiefly Apple, Amazon, Google, Spotify and Pandora.

Addressing those firms, the open letter says: "As songwriters, we count on you to deliver our music to the fans who love it. We appreciate the innovative platforms you have developed to do this, however we must voice our outrage at the way you are devaluing our work in the process".

It goes on: "Currently you are fighting to pay us as little as possible in the Copyright Royalty Board proceedings. This is alarming not only because it threatens our livelihoods and ability to continue our craft, but also because it tells us that instead of being our business partners, you choose to be our adversaries".

Arguing that the tech sector's bid to push down songwriter royalties will ultimately mean "that you have nothing left to deliver the fans who subscribe to your services", the letter concludes: "It's not too late to do the right thing. Stop litigating against songwriters and pay them a fair rate for their songs. It is in your best interest to do so instead of making it impossible for us to earn a living. The future of music, and your business, depends on it".

Although very much a battle resulting from the specifics of American copyright law, songwriters and publishers worldwide are taking an interested in the CRB proceedings, because the US is such a key market for recorded music.

To that end the Director General of the globally focused ICMP, Coco Carmona, said yesterday: "As streaming's popularity has grown dramatically in recent years, this rate setting procedure is crucial for rightsholders. Songwriters are up against more obstacles than ever to make a living so fairer royalty rates would make a huge difference to their livelihoods".

The CRB hearing kicked off yesterday, though they have until December to actually determine the mechanical royalty rates that will then be in place for the next five years.

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72% of web users won't be budged by ISP's anti-piracy emails
After UK internet service providers recently started sending out educational emails to pesky bedroom copyright nabbers, net provider comparison website Broadband Genie surveyed just over 2000 consumers to see whether a stern letter would make them stop accessing illegal sources of content. And apparently 72% of respondents said that they wouldn't.

As much previously reported, the educational emails stem from the obligation placed on ISPs in the 2010 Digital Economy Act to pass on warning letters from rights owners to customers suspecting of accessing unlicensed content, or sharing content without permission. Although the proposals that led to that legislation began with the three-strikes anti-piracy system - whereby there is some sanction placed on customers who ignore their warning letters - the resulting scheme is much less draconian.

The entertainment industry hopes that some web users can be shifted onto licensed music and movie platforms simply by being made aware that they are currently infringing copyright in the way they are accessing content online. But the Broadband Genie survey reckons the majority are not going to be educated over to Netflix and Spotify.

Asked what would make them switch to legit services, 22% said the threat of court action, which could in theory be the next step of this process; and the same number identified the threat of losing their internet connection, which was the ultimate sanction originally proposed when the three-strikes system was first being promoted by rights owners.

19% said that cheaper legal alternatives might persuade them to go legit, while 29% reckoned nothing would stop them from accessing and sharing unlicensed content. Which can't be right. I mean, surely a gun to the head would shift some of those people?

Commenting on his survey, Broadband Genie's Head Of Strategy Rob Hilborn said: "The ISP warning letters may stop a few who are unaware they're downloading and sharing illegally, but it's ultimately going to have little impact on those knowingly participating in this activity. The current approach is the bare minimum ISPs have to do to appease the government and avoid legislation forcing them to take tougher measures".

Hilborn noted that the "age old excuse" used by some respondents - that legit options were just too expensive - seems weak in the age of Netflix and Spotify, which are pretty reasonable given what they offer. Though the fact that this excuse still comes up so often possibly backs up the argument that budget streaming services, offering less content or functionality, are required to attract the more mainstream consumer.

Although Hilborn was more sympathetic to those who blame staggered releases around the world - ie when new content is available in some markets before others - for why they tap illegal content platforms. Of course it's mainly the TV and movie sectors who continue to do that, though music possibly also loses out, because once a web user is using an illegal service to access the American TV show they can't get legitimately in their home country, they may be more likely to use those channels for music content too.

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Stargate sign record deal with RCA
Sony's RCA label has announced that it has signed production and songwriting duo Stargate, aka Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen, to a record deal.

The pair will release their debut single, 'Waterfall', featuring Pink and Sia, this Friday. The song was co-written with Sia, Diplo and Jr Blender and snippets of the track have been posted to the Stargate Instagram profile. Look, here's one.

Further details of their plans as artists are scarce, although the announcement of the deal does say that the pair will "feature some of their favourite artists on their forthcoming music", while noting that they have previously worked with Beyonce, Rihanna and Coldplay.

Stargate already work with Sony through a publishing deal over at Sony/ATV.

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UK Music cautiously welcomes Chancellor's statement of business rates, though still not entirely clear how music venues will be affected
So it was the British government's big budget bash yesterday, the parliamentary gig where Theresa Mayhem's best bud Phil Hammond takes to the stage and convinces the nation that Brexit isn't going to spectacularly fuck up the country's finances, thanks to his strategy of sufficiently shafting the NHS so that all the poor people will die off. Good times.

But what about those plans to overhaul business rates which could hike up the bills faced by city centre grassroots music venues already operating on a tiny slither of a profit margin? As previously reported, earlier this week the people behind today's Live Music Census raised concerns about the impact the business rate changes could have on music venues, while cross-sector trade group UK Music wrote to Hammond to air similar concerns last week.

Having listened very carefully to all of Hammond's budget ramblings yesterday, UK Music said that there was a glimmer of hope in the Chancellor Of The Exchequer's speech that grassroots music venues could be protected from too big a negative impact from the business rate reforms, though there remain ambiguities.

Responding to Hammond's statement on business rates, UK Music boss Jo Dipple said: "UK Music welcomes the commitment to wider reform of business rates before the next revaluation and the pledge to establish the discretionary relief fund. But the government must set out the exact formula for this relief and the timeframe for rate reform at the earliest opportunity to give confidence to music businesses affected by rate increases".

Noting one of the relief measures Hammond revealed, Dipple added: "A discount for pubs is potentially good news, but it is unclear as to whether this will apply to music venues too. We seek assurances from the government that this will indeed help out the hardest-hit music venues".

Here ends CMU's budget report. I didn't actually watch the budget speech. I've generally stopped watching the news, it's too depressing. I just listen to the 'Channel 4 News' theme tune three times a day instead.

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Airbnb decides it's time to do something with music
There comes a time in every brand's life when some exec says in a meeting, "it would be great if we could do something with music". Then someone has to work out what that "something" is, picking from the three music sponsorship ideas all marketing people ever have so far come up with. That time in Airbnb's life has come and it has gone with the 'music experiences' option.

So lacking in imagination are the people behind the scheme that they've actually just called it 'Music Experiences'. Although given that it's promoting Airbnb's Trips platform, perhaps the say-what-you-see approach is intentional.

Among the music experiences you can get access to through Music Experiences are attending intimate shows and getting into sold out gigs. The idea is that each music experience - or Music Experience if you prefer - gives you an up close insight into the culture of whatever city you're in. So, for example, in London you can go on some sort of grime walking tour, which is almost certainly the worst combination of words I have ever typed.

For the intimate gigs option, Airbnb is teaming up with Sofar Sounds, which should at least ensure that those are quite good.

"Music is an incredible way to bring people together", weeps Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. "We're launching Music Experiences to give people access to exclusive and immersive music events - from intimate live performances, special pop up gigs, underground music sessions and meeting local artists and performers. Through the platform, we're able to support up and coming and local artists by connecting people to their events and bringing their music to even more fans around the world".

All of this nonsense is now available in London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Barcelona, Nairobi, Cape Town, Detroit, Miami, Paris, Havana, Tokyo, Florence and Seoul.

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Shesaid.so's Alternative Power 100 list recognises women in the music industry
Coinciding with International Womens Day yesterday, Shesaid.so - a global network of women working in the music industry - launched the Alternative Power 100 list.

It's a response to the very white-male-heavy Billboard Power 100 list, the latest edition of which was published last month and featured a grand total of fifteen women.

"The Alternative Power 100 Music List is yet another vehicle with which we continue to raise awareness (yes, we are still at that stage), spark debate and ultimately create change", says Shesaid.so founder Andreea Magdalina. "The Alternative Power 100 Music List is a symbolic gesture. It is by no means an accurate reflection of professional achievements, nor is it a hierarchical index supported by scholastic research and/or a substantial amount of nominations. It is, nevertheless, our attempt at highlighting the work of our members and their extended networks which often gets overlooked due to market saturation".

Acknowledging some limitations in the list, she adds: "It's fascinating, yet not surprising, to learn that the majority of nominations targeted Caucasian women. It's safe to say that out of all underprivileged communities in the music business, white women are the most privileged. We certainly do not think this is OK and, in this case, it's an obvious representation of the industry ecosystem (and perhaps society as a whole) ... While unacceptable, I choose to look these shortfalls as an opportunity to learn and take action. It's easier to win a battle when you know who your enemy is".

See the full list and read Magdalina's full statement here.

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Approved: Vukovi
Following a string of increasingly well-received singles and EPs, rock five-piece Vukovi release their debut album this Friday. Packed full of great songs, it combines euphoric hooks and riffs with darker lyrics, exploring relationships, depression, drug abuse and suicide.

Released as a single earlier this year, opener 'La Di Da' sets a high benchmark for the record and immediately gets across who the band are. "The song portrays an abusive relationship unbeknown to the victim", says vocalist Janine Shilstone.

"There are a lot of emotions throughout the song. There's vulnerability, and there's resistance. It took time to come together, and it had to live on the back burner for a while. But one night I gave in to the niggling that kept demanding I go back to it".

The whole album is streaming on the Kerrang website right now, and you can catch the band on tour in the UK starting this Friday in their hometown of Glasgow.

Watch the video for 'La Di Da' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

Afghan Whigs announce new album
The Afghan Whigs have announced that they will release a new album, 'In Spades', through Sub Pop on 5 May.

"It's a spooky record", says the band's Greg Dulli, who wrote and produced the album. "I like that it's veiled. It's not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me it's about memory - in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together".

The band will also be touring the UK in support of the record. Here are the dates:

26 May: Manchester, Cathedral
27 May: Glasgow, ABC
28 May: Dublin, Academy
30 May: London, Koko

Here's the first single from the record, 'Demon In Profile'.

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Bonnie 'Prince' Billy to release Merle Haggard covers album
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, aka Will Oldham, has announced that he will release a new album of Merle Haggard covers, titled 'Best Troubador', on 5 May. Oldham has often cited Haggard, who died last year, as a major influence on his music.

"Merle Haggard is a channeler who has paid ample tribute to those that came before him", says Oldham. "He has demonstrated explicitly and implicitly his standing on the shoulders of Tommy Duncan/Bob Wills, Jimmie Rodgers, Floyd Tillman, Lefty Frizzell and many others. There are songs in his catalogue that seep solidly into the headspace of Kentuckians who grew up when I did, and beyond through his vast influence on the George Straits, Dwight Yoakams, Alan Jacksons, John Andersons, Toby Keiths, and too many others. He is not the original, but he may be the most significant junction".

Songs on the record span 1967 to 2011, with Oldham choosing sixteen of his personal favourite songs from Haggard's vast catalogue.

Watch the 360° video for 'Mama Said' here.

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Ditto Music, Harry Judd, Charli XCX, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Ditto Music continues its international expansion with a new office in LA. "Our new Los Angeles office will be the heart of our global expansion plans for 2017", says CEO Lee Parsons.

• McFly's Harry Judd will publish a book on beating depression through exercise, called 'Get Fit, Get Happy', via Hodder & Stoughton's Coronet imprint this October. Here's Judd himself announcing this in video form.

• Charli XCX will release a new mixtape, 'Number One Angel', on Friday. She's also announced that she'll perform live at London's Jazz Café on 20 Apr.

• Noga Erez is back with a new track, 'Toy'. "The lyrics while short are meant to show ... how quickly and easily power can corrupt a person", she explains. Erez releases her debut album, 'Off The Radar', on 2 Jun.

• Ahead of the start of their Brixton Academy residency tonight, The xx have released a video for dreadful single 'Say Something Loving'.

• Imagine Dragons have released the video for new single 'Believer'. It's got Dolph Lundgren in it. Fancy that.

• Jorja Smith has released her previously mentioned 'Beautiful Little Fools' video. "I feel as young girls grow up, they're slightly tainted by what the media says is 'beautiful' and I feel like my song can be a little help to them", says the singer.

• Forest Swords, aka producer Matthew Barnes, has released a brand new single, 'The Highest Flood'. "It's a challenge to navigate the world we're living in now", says Barnes "'The Highest Flood' distils some of the frustration and hope that I've been working through over the past eighteen months whilst making new material".

• She Drew The Gun released "a homage to inspirational female artists" in a new song, 'Thank You', to coincide with International Womens Day yesterday.

• Dream Wife have released a new track, 'Somebody', taken from their upcoming debut album.

• Blanco White has released the title track from his upcoming 'Colder Heavens' EP, and announced his last minute addition to Tinariwen's Electric Brixton show tonight.

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Black Sabbath confirm split
Black Sabbath have announced that they have split up once and for all. That's it, folks. Move along, nothing to see here.

The band played the final show of their farewell tour in their hometown of Birmingham over a month ago now, which you might think was confirmation enough. Though it wouldn't be the first time a band has done that and then subsequently reappeared, so I think providing some extra confirmation was a valid move. Especially as guitarist Toni Iommi was only recently suggesting that there might be more albums in the band yet.

Seemingly not, because yesterday an image was posted on the official Black Sabbath Facebook page bearing the words "Black Sabbath 1968-2017", and accompanied by the hashtag #TheEnd. I think it's the hashtag that makes it feel so real.

The band decided to put an end to their touring life due to Iommi's health problems in recent years. And, of course, there's the ongoing dispute with drummer Bill Ward, which already put him out of both of the band's recent tours. So it seems like this time they might really mean it.

Anyway, next year is the band's 50th anniversary, so shall we just pencil something into the diary now? I mean, as the band's one-time frontman Ronnie James Dio will tell you, these days you don't even have to be in the building to play a gig. Or be alive.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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