FRIDAY 14 JULY 2017 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: With defunct streaming service Guvera very much in the spotlight in the Australian press at the moment as questions are asked about how the digital music firm raised money from its grassroots investors, Aussie newspaper The Courier-Mail has returned to the British side of the story, having obtained the judgement in the legal case that was pursued by former employees of Blinkbox Music against the Guvera company... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: This week's Movimento night at Club Aquarium sees Colin Dale hit the decks for a Saturday night full of techno, house and deep grooves. Dale is the superb tech DJ who'd you have heard on Kiss FM in the halcyon days of the early 90s, and who used to bring you the best in SOUL - the Sound Of Underground London - back in the day. [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 Kanye West falling out with Tidal just as Jay-Z releases his new album, AEG's very public spat with MSG and Live Nation, and Ed Sheeran quitting Twitter while planning an 8 Mile-style biopic. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
 
LATEST CMU TRENDS: Rarely a week goes by in the music business news these days without at least one catalogue acquisition. But who - other than labels and publishers - is buying music rights, and why? Are there opportunities for individual artists and songwriters to do deals with professional investors? And how do you even value music rights? Ahead of a Music 4.5 event exploring all these topics, CMU Trends reviews the music rights market - past, present and future. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Judgement reveals inside story of Guvera's failed acquisition of Blinkbox Music
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LEGAL Universal's $30million+ recordings deal with Prince estate axed
Judge accepts most of Frank Ocean's affirmative defences in $14.5 million libel dispute with his dad
Belgian privacy regulator to investigate police screening of Tomorrowland ticket buyers
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LIVE BUSINESS T In The Park 2018 "not looking likely"
People agree to a toilet cleaning clause as they tap into venue wifi
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES All-staff meeting heightens speculation SoundCloud will fold
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ARTIST NEWS Labour MP quotes Stormzy in Parliament
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ONE LINERS Universal, Michael Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, more
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AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #363: Blink 182 v Fyre Festival
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THE GREAT ESCAPE - EVENTS MANAGER (LONDON)
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ICE SERVICES - SERVICE DEVELOPMENT MANAGER (LONDON)
ICE Services Ltd is an international company that represents music rights across multiple territories. As the Service Development Manager you will be responsible for the effective coordination and delivery of key developments in our business services that respond to our Customers’ changing needs.

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MELODY VR - COMMUNITY MANAGER (LONDON)
MelodyVR is looking for an exceptional Community Manager to join our team, who is as passionate about music and as excited by technology as we are. We’re looking for a creative person who has a track record of coming up with fun and original content ideas for social media and beyond.

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ONCE UPON A TIME MUSIC - PRODUCTION PLANNER (LONDON)
Once Upon A Time Music (OUAT Music) works with major and independent record labels, artist management companies and artists directly to create vinyl, CDs and award winning boxsets. The Production Planner will be responsible for overseeing the production process of all musical formats from start to finish for a wide variety of music industry clients.

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DHP FAMILY - CONCERTS PROMOTIONS CO-ORDINATOR (LONDON)
As DHP Family's Concerts Promotions Co-ordinator in London, you will be creative, fast working, forward thinking, with the ability to work under pressure, both alone and as part of a team. As well as a strong marketing knowledge, you will ideally have a good grasp of the music/ents industry in London.

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NEW CITIZENS - HEAD OF MARKETING (LEEDS)
New Citizens is an established leading events company within the music, food and drink sector, based in the North of England. You’ll be responsible for driving and increasing ticket sales, brand awareness and positive association for the projects/events you’ll be working on.

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Judgement reveals inside story of Guvera's failed acquisition of Blinkbox Music
With defunct streaming service Guvera very much in the spotlight in the Australian press at the moment as questions are asked about how the digital music firm raised money from its grassroots investors, Aussie newspaper The Courier-Mail has returned to the British side of the story, having obtained the judgement in the legal case that was pursued by former employees of Blinkbox Music against the Guvera company.

As previously reported, in January 2015, with global expansion very much on its agenda, Australia-based Guvera bought the music side of UK digital content platform Blinkbox from of supermarket firm Tesco. Blinkbox Music had begun life as We7 and - like Guvera - had evolved its business from ad-funded downloads to ad-funded streams.

Both companies insisted that, unlike Spotify and Deezer, they were aiming to reach more mainstream consumers, and ad-funded free streams were a key part of the business, rather than just a way to upsell premium subscriptions. In that way, the alliance between Guvera and Blinkbox did make sense, and we expected Blinkbox Music to rebrand as Guvera in due course, giving the Australian firm an immediate userbase in the UK.

But it wasn't to be. In June 2015 Blinkbox Music fell into administration, laid of its staff and ceased operations. And Guvera never did launch in the UK. Blinkbox employees subsequently took legal action against Guvera, with a legal rep declaring at the time that "at the point of the acquisition the employees received a written assurance from Tesco and Guvera UK that they would receive redundancy payments if cut backs were required - this agreement was not honoured".

It's the judgement in that case - which found in favour of the former employees - that The Courier-Mail has now seen, and the court papers reveal the inner turmoil within Guvera over the 2015 Blinkbox purchase. In particular tensions mounted in the wake of the acquisition between Guvera director Michael De Vere - who oversaw the Tesco deal - and the streaming firm's co-founder and CEO Darren Herft.

According to The Courier-Mail, it was De Vere who first made the Guvera board aware that a then flagging Tesco was looking to sell its UK streaming music platform. Herft said he was interested in acquiring Blinkbox Music, though he had concerns over the UK company's overheads - it employed 110 people and had monthly costs topping £1 million. To that end, Herft told De Vere that Guvera couldn't do the deal with Tesco as it was currently written.

However, after further email exchanges between De Vere and Herft, the former did the deal, acquiring the Blinkbox Music business for £300,000, which was a good price at face value, except for the liabilities that Guvera was also taking on. According to the judgement: "When Mr De Vere emailed his colleagues in Australia [with] the news of the purchase, Mr Herft replied that Mr De Vere 'was not authorised to do this'".

In a frank exchange, Herft seemingly told De Vere: "I suspect you have just killed the company Michael - gd job".

Nevertheless, Guvera was publicly confirmed as the new owner of Blinkbox, with the Aussie firm declaring to UK consumers "we're joining the party!"

Behind the scenes tensions continued to grow, with confusion over whether the existing Blinkbox service would rebrand as Guvera, or whether Guvera would launch its existing platform in the UK and utilise Blinkbox's database to sell it to consumers. Meanwhile, in April, Herft wrote to De Vere asking: "Do you have any MONEY to run Blinkbox as you have advised you will (otherwise Blinkbox is going under)". Nevertheless, back in Australia, official Guvera literature started to include Blinkbox users in its subscriber figures.

While all this was going on, Blinkbox had been quietly downsizing its workforce. And by late April, the Guvera parent company sought legal advice about what to do with the Blinkbox company, with Herft subsequently proposing that one option was to allow it to fall into liquidation, and for Guvera to then buy some key Blinkbox assets from the liquidator, giving it the former Tesco subsidiary's userbase without the liabilities.

Soon after De Vere departed Guvera, with the ex-director subsequently becoming embroiled in litigation with his former employer, which insisted he had done the deal to buy Blinkbox Music without board approval, an allegation he rejected. Meanwhile the legal action by former employees went through the motions, ultimately finding in favour of the axed staff, though the Guvera company pledged to appeal the decision.

Guvera ceased operations entirely in May, of course, leaving Herft - who had actually stepped down as CEO after a failed attempt at an IPO last year - as the only director.

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Universal's $30million+ recordings deal with Prince estate axed
Roll up, roll up, who wants the rights to distribute the Prince recordings catalogue? You get access to the vaults! You get all of the late musician's self-released albums! And you get the hits too! Well, those hits that aren't already promised to Warner Music via a 2014 agreement that no one can really get their heads around, meaning you may or may not have access to this record and that record, let alone that record. No one really seems too sure.

A judge has rescinded the $30 million+ deal done between Universal Music and the Prince estate over the popstar's recordings catalogue. Both the mega-major and the bank administrating the estate had requested that the deal be axed, though not all of Prince's heirs were on board with that idea, and the lawyer who negotiated the deal between Universal and the estate in the first place reckoned it should be enforced.

As previously reported, Universal secured the rights to represent Prince's recording, publishing and merchandising rights via three separate multi-million dollar deals. However, the former deal only covered those recordings not already committed to Warner Music via a 2014 agreement the musician signed before his untimely death last year.

After the deals had been done, Universal started to express concern that some of the hit recordings it thought it would get to represent - now or in the near future - were already committed to Warner by the 2014 contract, which it hadn't actually seen. By this point the estate was being run and advised by different bankers and industry experts, and they passed on Universal's concerns to the court overseeing Prince's affairs.

Ultimately Warner was told to share its contract with Universal so that its lawyers could work out whether there was indeed any clash between the two record company's deals. The legal team's conclusion was that the 2014 deal was too confusing to say for sure. But, given the confusion, Universal said that it would now definitely like to cancel its recordings deal and get its $30 million+ back, to avoid years of messy litigation as it, Warner and the estate tried to work out who controls what through the courts.

Yesterday the judge overseeing the Prince estate complied, rescinding the recordings deal. He said that, while he was "reluctant" to grant a recession of the estate's previous agreement with Universal, "the court believes that the other option of long and potentially expensive litigation while tying up the music rights owned by the estate makes the other option more treacherous".

The decision doesn't affect Universal's deals over Prince's publishing and merch rights, but does mean the recordings catalogue - ie the vaults, the later albums, and the earlier hits Warner doesn't control - is now back on the block. Though, given the continued confusion over that 2014 contract, it will be interesting to see if anyone other than Warner Music will want to do the deal. If not, Warner will presumably be able to secure the rights with a much smaller commitment than $30 million.

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Judge accepts most of Frank Ocean's affirmative defences in $14.5 million libel dispute with his dad
The court considering the $14.5 million libel action being pursued against Frank Ocean by his father has allowed most of the 'affirmative defences' submitted by the former in response to the latter's lawsuit to stand. Though the judge also warned Ocean that if he presents defences with "no factual support" he could face sanctions.

As previously reported, in the wake of the attack on Orlando's Pulse nightclub last year, Ocean wrote a post on Tumblr in which he said: "I was six years old when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a faggot as he dragged me out a neighbourhood diner saying we wouldn't be served because she was dirty. That was the last afternoon I saw my father and the first time I heard that word, I think, although it wouldn't shock me if it wasn't".

Ocean's father, Calvin Cooksey, denied that the incident ever took place and sued for libel. Ocean responded by saying his original Tumblr post "speaks for itself". In his legal response he then listed seventeen 'affirmative defences' which, he said, together, demonstrated why his father's libel proceedings should be dismissed.

For his part, Cooksey then responded by arguing that his son's defences lacked "specificity" and were "either factually unsupported or legally insufficient". Far from dismissing his libel action, Cooksey argued, it was Ocean's list of defences that should be dismissed by the court. But the judge overseeing the case has decided that all but one of those 'affirmative defences' should, in fact, stand. Though his ruling also cautioned Ocean about his response to the litigation

In a ruling, published by Pitchfork, the judge wrote that "while the court cannot strike most of the defendant's affirmative defences under the prevailing case law, the defendant is on notice that several of his affirmative defences indeed seem to have been put forward without any sort of factual basis".

He went on: "As the case proceeds, if it becomes clear that the defendant is persisting with arguments with no factual support in order to confuse the plaintiff or hide the truth of the matter, the court would consider sanctions against the defendant or his counsel as a remedy for such conduct".

Concluding, the judge said: "The court notes that both parties have appeared to engage in litigation tactics that are peripheral to the merits or progress of the case, including the present motion. The court discourages both sides from continuing to do so. This is a fairly straightforward case that does not warrant intensive litigation tactics that do not get to the heart of the matter".

So that's them told. The case continues.

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Belgian privacy regulator to investigate police screening of Tomorrowland ticket buyers
The Belgian Privacy Commission is investigating the way the Tomorrowland festival shares ticket buyer data with local law enforcement to screen attendees for security reasons.

According to newspaper De Standaard, 38 ticket-buyers have been excluded from the Belgian festival this year - which takes place in the town of Boom and kicks off next week - on security grounds. Tomorrowland organisers say that they have shared ticket-holder information with federal police for a number of years, and this is seemingly the first time the country's Privacy Commission has taken an interest. That interest is apparently being taken now because some of those denied access to this year's festival have complained to the privacy law regulator.

It is the police rather than the festival who are being investigated over allegations privacy rules may have been violated via the screening process. Though a federal police spokesperson insists that the screening programme is approved by local government officials, who, he says, have the power to approve such practices.

It remains to be seen how the Commission responds.

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T In The Park 2018 "not looking likely"
Those of you looking forward to T In The Park's triumphant return next year - after its 2017 hiatus - may want to lower your expectations a bit. Lower. Bit lower. And again. OK, good, because it's "not looking likely" that it'll happen.

As previously reported, Live Nation allied DF Concerts confirmed in November that T In The Park would be taking a year off in 2017, after two troubled editions following a move to a new site at Strathallan Castle. An alternative, non-camping event, TRNSMT, took place in Glasgow last week, on the weekend T would normally take place.

Speaking to the BBC, DF boss Geoff Ellis said: "We've not formulated any decisions on the future of T In The Park - it's still too early. We want to focus on TRNSMT, the Glasgow Summer Sessions and all the other concerts we've got. As soon as we are ready to make decisions and let people know about the future, we'll tell people. The planning constraints are just so complex and costly at Strathallan that we're just not in a position to say yes we'll continue".

Despite saying that T2018 is "not looking likely", he added that he felt that T In The Park - at least another camping festival - would return in the future. However, its focus would probably shift to an older audience.

"I've always said a major camping festival and something like TRNSMT can co-exist and they definitely can because they are two different types of event", Ellis said. "There are two different needs in the market. There are definitely two tribes now - there's people who like guitar music and people who like EDM music among the under 25s. So when we come back with a camping event it probably won't feature EDM and it'll probably be pitched at an older market".

-------------------------------------

People agree to a toilet cleaning clause as they tap into venue wifi
A company that provides free wifi at numerous bars, shopping centres, hotels, airports, theatres, arena venues and stadiums has revealed that when it added a 'community service clause' into its terms and conditions, nobody really noticed.

Wifi firm Purple added the clause - via which people opting into its internet service committed to "clean portable lavatories at local festivals and events", "manually relieve sewer blockages" and "paint snail shells to brighten up their existence" - for two weeks.

The point of the exercise was to show that people never really read the small print when grabbing free net access, and are therefore unaware of any data they may be giving up to the company who is actually supplying the internet.

The company revealed the 'community service clause' experiment as it announced it was the first wifi provider to be compliant with the new General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, which goes into full effect next May and will put new rules in place with regard to the data net providers gather.

Says Purple CEO Gavin Wheeldon: "Wifi users need to read terms when they sign up to access a network. What are they agreeing to, how much data are they sharing, and what licence are they giving to providers? Our experiment shows it's all too easy to tick a box and consent to something unfair".

He added: "We welcome the strengthening of data protection laws across Europe that GDPR will bring. Not only will it give wifi end users more control over how their personal data is being used by companies, it will also raise the level of trust in the digital economy".

During the 'community service clause' experiment users were actually given the chance to flag the unreasonable condition in return for a prize. But only one person did. Which constitutes 0.000045% of all the people using Purple's wifi networks during the two week period. Well done if you're in the 0.000045%.

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All-staff meeting heightens speculation SoundCloud will fold
Following the axing of 40% of its staff last week, SoundCloud yesterday found itself fighting off new speculation that the company could soon cease operations.

Plenty of people have been predicting SoundCloud's imminent demise following last week's jobs cull, though such doom chatter heightened yesterday amid reports of an all-staff meeting at the firm in which founders said that the downsizing meant the company now had sufficient finance to get through to 'quarter four'. Which isn't very far away at all.

As some fans of the service started downloading their favourite tracks on the platform and looking for alternative similar set-ups, a spokesperson for the flagging streaming business told The Register: "To clarify, SoundCloud is fully funded into the fourth quarter. We continue to be confident the changes made last week put us on our path to profitability and ensure SoundCloud's long-term viability".

Talks are seemingly ongoing with potential investors, though many wonder who would now pump money into the business, with an outright acquisition by a rival streaming firm at a bargain basement price point seeming more realistic.

Meanwhile, internally, unsurprisingly much concern remains among those still working for the company. TechCruch quotes one employee as saying: "It's pretty shitty. I know people who didn't get the axe are actually quitting", while another - who described the all-staff meeting as "a shitshow" - added: "I don't believe that people will stay. The good people at SoundCloud will leave".

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Vigsy's Club Tip: Movimento at Club Aquarium
This week's Movimento night at Club Aquarium sees Colin Dale hit the decks for a Saturday night full of techno, house and deep grooves.

Dale is the superb tech DJ who'd you have heard on Kiss FM in the halcyon days of the early 90s, and who used to bring you the best in SOUL - the Sound Of Underground London - back in the day.

Resident Francesco Poggi will also be on hand, alongside London producer Made By Pete and househead Cassimm.

Saturday 15 Jul, Club Aquarium, 256 Old Street, London, EC1V 9DD, 11pm-7am, £8. More info here.

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

Labour MP quotes Stormzy in Parliament
Labour MP for Croydon Central Sarah Jones, who was newly elected during Theresa May's comedy election last month, gave her maiden speech in Parliament earlier this week. While doing so, she quoted the lyrics of rapper, noted Labour supporter and Croydon boy Stormzy.

"Got about 25 goons in my posse", she told the House of Commons. "They drink Bailey's, I drink Vossy. I get merky, they get worried. If you got a G-A-T, bring it out. Most of the real badboys live in south".

No, not really. But wouldn't that have been fun? She did go for some of his slightly more aggressive lyrics though, and they were aimed at her new colleagues. And herself as well. Commenting on the lessons to be learned from the recent election, she said: "If the election has taught us anything, it's that we cannot take anyone for granted. As Croydon's Stormzy put it so well in one of his songs: 'You're never too big for the boot'".

Yeah, so, politicians quoting pop lyrics is still pretty cringeworthy, but at least this is a long way off that time David Cameron kept getting Smiths lyrics wrong.

Anyway, it's probably no bad thing for MPs to listen to what is being said in the more opinionated forms of modern music. You don't want to throw all those Westminster types right in at the deep end though. So here's an opera singer covering JME's 'Man Don't Care'.

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Universal, Michael Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Jamie Diamond has been named Director Of Communications for Universal Music Publishing Group globally. "I'm appreciative", says Diamond.

• The Gotta Have Rock And Roll auction has responded to the question as to why an album of unreleased Michael Jackson songs was withdrawn from sale. A spokesperson told CMU: "It was withdrawn on the request of the consignor who felt that it would be more respectful of Michael's work to sell to privately, as it was garnering too much media attention. We honoured his wishes".

• Nine Inch Nails will release a new EP, 'Add Violence', next week. From it, this is 'Less Than'.

• Kesha has released another new song, 'Woman'.

• Selena Gomez has released new single 'Fetish', featuring Gucci Mane. US Spotify users can watch a mobile phone optimised vertical video. What fun.

• Shabazz Palaces' two new albums are out today. Here's the new video for 'Welcome To Quazarz'. Oh, and they've announced three UK tour dates in November.

• Alvvays have released the video for 'In Undertow' from forthcoming new album 'Antisocialites'. They've also announced a whole load of UK shows in August and September.

• Holy Fuck are back with a new single, 'Bird Brains'. It's taken from an EP of the same name, which is out on 31 Jul. They've also announced that they'll be touring the UK in August.

• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Beef Of The Week #363: Blink 182 v Fyre Festival
You might think that the Fyre Festival ended in disaster due to poor planning. And bad infrastructure. Poor planning and bad infrastructure. And cost cutting. Poor planning, bad infrastructure and cost cutting. And inept senior management. Poor planning, bad infrastructure, cost cutting and inept senior management. But no. It was witchcraft.

Oh sure, you can protest. Just look at all the evidence that's been amassed of the poor planning, and the bad infrastructure, and the cost cutting, and the incredibly inept senior management. Look at what all those ex-employees have said about how badly the whole Fyre enterprise was run. Look at all the lawsuits and the long list of management failings they contain. Look at co-founder Billy McFarland up in court on fraud charges.

Yes, I see all of that, but might it also have actually been due to witchcraft? Just a little bit of witchcraft? Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba - now also a member of Blink 182, who were due to play the disastrous Bahamas party - certainly thinks so. Why? Because it was he who cast the spell.

"I had a bad feeling about that event", Skiba told the NME. "I consider myself a pagan and a witch. With every inch of my energy I wanted Fyre not to happen. I put all the electricity and energy in my body against that thing happening".

"I've been to the Bahamas before and it's so crass", he went on. "You land in Nassau and the whole island is replete with beauty and culture, but there's a lot of poverty. It is a largely black population, then they build these places like Atlantis and The Cove that are walled off. It's classist and racist and then they decided to park a bunch of yachts with models to show off in front of those poor people, going down there with all your Ferraris and bullshit and yachts".

But didn't Blink 182 pull out of their Fyre Festival set at the last minute because they were "not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give to fans"? Oh sure, you believe what you want.

"We pulled out for technical and logistical issues and the rest of it crumbled to shit because that's what it was", he admitted. However: "It was bullshit. I used my witchy ways and it seemed to work. I'll take responsibility and everyone can blame me. Shazam. I was on my couch feeling somewhat guilty, but very relieved that I wasn't there with people stealing from each other".

With so many lawsuits flying around already, it's maybe not a good idea to start accepting any blame for Fyre's collapse. Witchcraft or not, someone might say that Skiba never had any intention of performing at the event and did somehow contribute to its gloomy end through mystical means or otherwise.

I'm not saying that, because I'm not an idiot. But you might say it. I've never met you. You might be an idiot. And so might some of the people who ended up stranded on the Fyre island, eating disappointing cheese sandwiches. They're probably idiots and might now blame Skiba. Though if you're one of those people, please note that the witchy rocker didn't want that for you.

"I didn't want a bunch of people to be marooned on bullshit island", he said. "I put all my energy into it not happening because for all the tea in China I didn't want to be a part of something like that".

Whatever, if you're booking Blink 182 for an event, it might be wise to put a 'no witchcraft' clause in the contract.

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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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