TUESDAY 18 JULY 2017 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: While I think it's fair to say that opinion has been somewhat divided about the merits of Ed Sheeran's cameo in the season premiere of 'Game Of Thrones', few are denying that the musician is currently sitting in the throne within the anti-touting game, after promoters of his next UK stadium tour announced that they were cancelling up to 10,000 touted tickets and putting them back onto the primary market... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Newly signed to Lucky Number, Suzi Wu has released her debut single, 'Teenage Witch'. The song is taken from an EP of the same name, due out on 8 Sep, co-produced by Wu and biLLLy. Overflowing with personality, it sets her up as someone impossible to ignore. "'Teenage Witch' was inspired by the art works of comic book artist Simon Hanslemann", says Wu. [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 Spotify's 'fake' artist 'scandal', Kylie and Kendall Jenner's legal battle over what constitutes copyright infringement when printing t-shirts, and the Mansfield radio station battling repeated unwanted intrusions by a wanker. 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 Ed Sheeran leads charge against ticket touting, cancels 10,000 touted tickets
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LEGAL Tensions reportedly increase between Spotify and the US music publishers
Travis Scott accuses former management of violating California's Talent Agencies Act
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Believe boss plays down Sony acquisition reports
New GM at Ministry Of Sound record label
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LIVE BUSINESS Family festival Just So wins Gold Award for accessibility
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MEDIA Former TeamRock execs successfully crowd fund new radio venture
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ARTIST NEWS Queen biopic nearly in production - finally
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ONE LINERS Bravado, FastForward, The Horrors
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AND FINALLY... Now Taylor Swift's being carted around in a box
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Ed Sheeran leads charge against ticket touting, cancels 10,000 touted tickets
While I think it's fair to say that opinion has been somewhat divided about the merits of Ed Sheeran's cameo in the season premiere of 'Game Of Thrones', few are denying that the musician is currently sitting in the throne within the anti-touting game, after promoters of his next UK stadium tour announced that they were cancelling up to 10,000 touted tickets and putting them back onto the primary market.

Live firms Kilimanjaro, DHP Family and AEG Presents yesterday put out a joint statement confirming that they were going through with their pledge to cancel any touted tickets to Sheeran's highly in demand 2018 stadium shows. They also told fans to only buy tickets from primary sellers or their approved secondary site - face value only resale platform Twickets - before singling out edsheerantickets2018.com, ticket-selection.com and good old Viagogo as total no-go zones if you're planning on actually seeing Sheeran perform.

Of the big four UK secondary ticketing sites, only super shady Viagogo are still allowing the resale of Sheeran tickets, after eBay's StubHub and Live Nation's Seatwave and Get Me In! agreed to the musician's request to block any touts attempting to sell on tickets to his shows for profit. Which was nice of them. Though, given most secondary sites commit to refund any ticket purchases that don't actually get a customer access to a show, it makes sense for platforms to block resales where an artist or promoter is committed to cancelling any ticket that they reckon has been touted.

The live firms said yesterday: "[We] and Ed Sheeran's team worked closely together in advance of the on-sale date to put in place measures designed to protect fans from profiteering companies". Noting that "most profiteering companies heeded the promoters' warnings not to trade and resell tickets that would instantly be cancelled", the statement added: "This has resulted in 90% of tickets being delivered directly into fans' hands at the face value".

Taking aim at the one major secondary ticketing platform who chose not to heed those warnings, the statement continued: "Despite these efforts, it has become clear that one company, Viagogo, have ignored the promoters' requests, and there is an increasing number of customers who are realising they have been duped by Viagogo's false advertising and have unfortunately become victims of massive hidden overcharging for tickets".

The claim of 'false advertising' mainly relates to the sneaky secondary site's use of the word "official" in its prominent Google ads, something raised by the anti-tout FanFair Alliance last week and now being investigated by the advertising regulator in Ireland.

Talking tough, while bigging up both the FanFair initiative and the specific work of anti-tout campaigner Claire Turnham, the three live companies said that they "urge any customers who are concerned that they may have been defrauded by Viagogo to consult the FanFair Alliance website, where they will find a step-by-step guide on how to seek a refund".

"This advice was written in partnership with Claire Turnham" they added, "campaigner and founder of the Facebook group Victims Of Viagogo, after she was herself a victim of their practices. It is intended not only for Ed Sheeran fans who have been mis-sold tickets on Viagogo, but for all those seeking redress from any of the dominant secondary ticketing companies".

Confirming the ongoing efforts to cancel tickets they believe have been bought by touts for resale, the promoters said they "have been monitoring the sales transactions in close conjunction with the National Trading Standards Cyber Crime team and have identified many multiple purchases which are in contravention of the terms and conditions for the sale of the Ed Sheeran tickets, and as a result up to 10,000 tickets have now been cancelled and are being returned back into the market place for individual fans to purchase at face value".

Finally, the live firms said that they would be reporting any touts who they believed had broken the various rules covering ticket resales in the UK Consumer Rights Act. They said: "All ticket resales that have been identified as breaking the newly updated Consumer Rights Act have been reported to the Competition And Markets Authority to aid their ongoing investigation into companies such as Viagogo".

As previously reported, Sheeran's management team became particularly vocal supporters of the campaign against secondary ticketing after touts started reselling tickets at hiked up prices for the musician's recent charity show in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

That prompted Sheeran's manager Stuart Camp to speak at a select committee hearing on secondary ticketing in Parliament, and to tell the BBC: "That's a charity show, we put that show on to raise funds and people are just taking advantage, and it's something that needs to be controlled. We're looking for the enforcement of laws that already exist but we need to have greater transparency. At the moment [the touts] can hide behind certain things and it's not great and that's why there's some confusion and anger".

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Tensions reportedly increase between Spotify and the US music publishers
While America's National Music Publishers Association initially played peace keeper when a group of independent songwriters started shouting loudly about Spotify not paying all the mechanical royalties that were due on its streams Stateside, according to the New York Post there are now increasing tensions between the trade group and the streaming firm.

As much previously reported, it is generally agreed that a stream exploits both the reproduction and the communication elements of the copyright. Which is important when it comes to streaming services licensing the rights to exploit the songs controlled by songwriters and music publishers, because in some countries the reproduction bit of the song copyright - aka the 'mechanical rights' - and the communication bit - aka the 'performing rights' - are licensed separately by different organisations.

But in most countries both mechanical and performing rights can be licensed via the collective licensing system - and even where some publishers license their rights directly, the collecting societies help administrate the collection of any royalties due, telling the streaming services what monies are owing and passing the money onto the relevant writers and publishers. The exception is the US, where collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP only represent the performing rights in songs.

There is a compulsory licence covering mechanical rights Stateside, so in theory a streaming service doesn't need to ask for permission to exploit that side of the song copyright, but it does need to alert all and any relevant copyright owners that their songs are going to be utilised, and then pay those rights owners at a royalty rate set by statute.

Spotify hired a company called The Harry Fox Agency - previously owned by the NMPA - to handle that process, but HFA, while the closest the US has to a mechanical rights society, doesn't have every songwriter or music publisher on its system.

Which meant a bunch of independent songwriters and music publishers went unpaid, resulting in class action litigation led by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick. As that legal battle was getting underway in early 2016, the NMPA announced it had agreed a settlement deal with Spotify over previously unpaid mechanicals, and it encouraged writers and publishers to sign up to its deal rather than joining Lowery or Ferrick's class actions. Those class actions were then subsequently settled back in May this year.

Which means the NMPA and Spotify were friends in the face of the Lowery and Ferrick litigation. But, according to The Post, that friendship has now soured.

Sources tell the paper that the NMPA has been pushing for new commitments from the streaming firm, partly based on the expectation that Spotify will list on the New York Stock Exchange at some point in the next year. It's seemingly been pointed out that while the major music groups and, via Merlin, many of the indie labels have equity in the Spotify company, that is not the case for the independent publishers.

The trade group has also apparently been disputing Spotify's long-held - and not entirely without substance - excuse for not paying all the mechanical royalties due on the songs it streams in the US: ie the lack of a central database telling it which songs are contained within which recordings, and who controls the rights in those songs.

But, the Post says, the NMPA has stated in a recent letter that it knows of examples where mechanical royalties went unpaid on songs where the ownership information for said works was clearly listed at the US Copyright Office. Though that doesn't really deal with the issue of knowing which song is contained within which recording, given track title alone doesn't confirm that with 100% certainty.

The Post then says that Spotify has been pushing back on the NMPA's recent requests and criticisms. It writes that: "Spotify's General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, ripped into the publisher group in a June 14 letter, accusing the NMPA of trying to grab more than what the [2016] settlement called for".

There was chatter in May to the effect that some of the indie publishers who signed up to the NMPA settlement last year were annoyed that the subsequent settlement of the Lowery/Ferrick class actions arguably offered those writers and publishers who joined the litigation party a better deal. Which may or may not have added to the increased tensions in the NMPA's relationship with Spotify.

To date the back and forth between the trade group and the streaming firm has been limited to stern letters, though the Post's sources are talking about possible legal action from the publishers' side of the table. Which would be fun just as Spotify is prepping to go public on Wall Street. Fun fun fun.

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Travis Scott accuses former management of violating California's Talent Agencies Act
Travis Scott has accused an artist management company owned by music industry veteran Lyor Cohen - currently the top music man at YouTube, of course - of violating California's sometimes controversial Talent Agencies Act.

LCAR Management sued Scott earlier this year claiming that the rapper, who was previously represented by the company, owed the firm $2 million. Now, according to Billboard, Scott has responded by accusing LCAR of violating the aforementioned Talent Agencies Act by allegedly booking shows for him without the approval of his actual talent agent, and therefore acting as if a talent agency in itself. Which is an issue in California, because talent agents need a licence to trade from the state's Labor Commissioner.

There are other complaints in Scott's new legal filing, including that LCAR allegedly used him to promote Cohen's other music company 300, even though he had no affiliation with that business.

The rapper is hoping to void his contract with LCAR on the basis of the alleged violations of Californian law. That would remove any liabilities he may or may not have to the management firm, plus he is seeking to get monies back that LCAR collected in relation to the two parties' business dealings.

LCAR is yet to respond to Scott's claims.

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Believe boss plays down Sony acquisition reports
The boss of digital distribution and label services firm Believe has played down reports that the company is about to be acquired by Sony Music.

As previously reported, those reports originated in Japanese business newspaper Nikkei, which said that Sony was about to take a majority stake in the music distribution company. Sony has been busy growing the distribution side of its business of late, which is now primarily focused around its wholly owned subsidiary The Orchard.

But Believe chief Denis Ladegaillerie told Billboard that any reports that "we have concluded a deal with Sony to sell Believe are absolutely not true". However, he confirmed that his company has been exploring various new financing options, in part to fund its own acquisition ambitions, and that has included having conversations with both private equity firms and other possible investors, which may or may not include Sony Music.

He added: "In parallel to that process we are having selected strategic discussions with players that have approached us about strategic investments or full acquisition along the way. Our focus is on how do we grow and build the business. In that regard, we are having discussions with a handful of strategic players that understand the changing dynamics in the artist and label services market, share our business philosophy, and where we see a strong strategic fit to better serve artists and labels".

Ladegaillerie is keeping his options very much open, saying that all serious offers and proposals will be considered by the company's current shareholders, though he concluded: "Are we now in a short term future, pure sale process? No".

Sony Music has made strategic investments in independent distribution firms before that ultimately led to it taking full ownership, though usually years later. Indeed, that's how it came to own The Orchard. Whether Sony will be a strategic investor in Believe's latest funding round and - if so - quite what stake it will take in the business, remains to be seen.

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New GM at Ministry Of Sound record label
Ministry Of Sound Recordings, now a Sony Music UK label of course, has a new General Manager in the form of Amy Wheatley, who was previously Head Of UK Marketing at management firm Three Six Zero. Wheatley - who worked in various roles at Sony earlier in her career - will report into MOSR MD Dipesh Parmar and MOSR/RCA President David Dollimore in the new role.

Confirming the hire, Parmar said: "Amy has established herself as one of the industry's rising stars. She is ambitious, strategic and smart. She is the driving force that Ministry needs and I am delighted to have her leading the way for us".

Meanwhile Wheatley herself commented: "I have always respected what Ministry Of Sound Recordings has achieved. The team here is second to none and being able to learn and develop under Dipesh and David is a true honour. It's great to be back in the Sony fold. Ministry's independent success has been impressive, but now, being under the Sony umbrella, we have even more opportunities. This is an amazing opportunity and I'm ready to embrace it".

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Family festival Just So wins Gold Award for accessibility
Accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything has awarded the family orientated Just So Festival its Gold Award, meaning it is now among a premiere league of the most accessible outdoor events in the UK. The Glastonbury, Greenbelt and Liberty festivals have all previously been handed a Gold Award by Attitude Is Everything.

The charity, which encourages the live industry to make its venues and events more accessible to disabled and deaf music fans, says that the new Gold Award "recognises the ways in which Just So has gone beyond best practice recommendations and demonstrated to the wider events industry what is possible when creativity and audience-engagement combine".

Of particular note are pre-event information initiatives, including an audio guide and 360 degree virtual tour of the Just So site. Attitude Is Everything has been increasingly vocal of late about the role pre-event information about a venue, site and programme play in making music events accessible to all.

Attitude Is Everything chief Suzanne Bull says: "I'm absolutely delighted to see Just So Festival, such an innovative and creative family event, gain the Gold Award via our Charter Of Best Practice. The organisers are a fantastic example of how access does not need to be treated as a niche, bolt-on addition to a festival. They demonstrate how access can be at the core of creative event-planning, and how this can benefit the experience of all attendees. Exciting things can emerge from consulting with disabled customers and striving to make the festival experience better each year. We can't wait to see what the festival does next".

Meanwhile Just So Festival Director Sarah Bird adds: "We are delighted to have achieved this prestigious Gold Award on Attitude Is Everything's Charter Of Best Practice. Since first encountering AIE four years ago, their guidance and advice has really helped us to think differently about what our deaf and disabled audiences need. From the outset they encouraged us to think of access as a conversation with our audience and it's turned out to be a really inspiring and exciting conversation to have started. We look forward to continuing to work with them to help shape a more holistic approach to accessibility across all areas of Just So Festival".

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Former TeamRock execs successfully crowd fund new radio venture
Primordial Radio, the new rock radio venture set up by some of the people made redundant when TeamRock went under late last year, has raised £20,000 more than its target of £130,000 via a crowd-funding campaign, and is now working on launching the new service.

The new radio outfit's CEO, Hugh 'Moose' Evans, says of the project: "Traditionally, media companies garner support from industry and advertisers, build a radio station, and then search for its audience. We simply decided to first find the audience, ask them what they wanted, and build from there. We now have a loyal and dedicated community, have begun building the service, and are ready to introduce Primordial to the rest of the world".

Primordial plans to generate revenue through memberships, merch, events and sponsorship, rather than the traditional radio route of selling advertising.

Evans continues: "The commercial radio choices for the rock and metal community have been so limited throughout the years and there have been several false dawns and let-downs. With Primordial the community owns the station and will be collectively responsible for it on every level".

The Primordial chief concludes: "This community, like many other niche genres, has been marginalised and dismissed. Our modest success to date is testament to the passion and loyalty of the rock and metal community and proves people will support a good quality rock and metal station".

With the initial monies raised, the team behind the project say they will now "develop service technology and membership platforms".

As previously reported, the TeamRock company - which published Metal Hammer and Classic Rock as well as running an online rock radio station - went into administration just before Christmas last year. Future Publishing - the former owner of TeamRock's key titles - bought them back, and last month also revived the TeamRock Radio service.

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Approved: Suzi Wu
Newly signed to Lucky Number, Suzi Wu has released her debut single, 'Teenage Witch'. The song is taken from an EP of the same name, due out on 8 Sep, co-produced by Wu and biLLLy. Overflowing with personality, it sets her up as someone impossible to ignore.

"'Teenage Witch' was inspired by the art works of comic book artist Simon Hanslemann", says Wu. "I was getting up at 10pm at night, I'd quit sixth form, my life was nocturnal and bizarre. A drive thru life, there is a poetry in that I think".

The EP will be made available via a limited run of 300 vinyl records, in addition to being abundantly accessible in digital form. Listen to 'Teenage Witch' (on repeat, I reckon) here.

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

Queen biopic nearly in production - finally
The long mooted Queen biopic - now titled 'Bohemian Rhapsody' - is finally about to go into production, according to the band's website.

The site also confirms previous reports that Bryan Singer of 'The Usual Suspects' and 'X-Men' movie fame will direct, while Rami Malek, star of US TV series 'Mr Robot', will play Freddie Mercury.

As previously reported, Sacha Baron Cohen was originally set to play the Queen frontman in the film, but parted ways with the production way back in 2013. Ben Whishaw was later lined up for the role, but also pulled out, as did director Dexter Fletcher.

Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor, who are exec music producers on the film, said of the casting of Malek in the title role: "Rami has great presence and he's utterly dedicated to the project. He's completely living and breathing Freddie already, which is wonderful".

Queen Online says it can "confirm that the film is now 'as-close-as-that' to start of shooting. Pre-production begins next week in the UK to prepare for start of principal photography in around London as soon as mid-September".

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Bravado, FastForward, The Horrors

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• The US wing of Universal Music's merch business Bravado has appointed Christine Calip Victor as its SVP Business Development & Legal Affairs. She moves over from the mega-major's East Coast Labels division.

• The FastForward: London conference, taking place on 15 Sep, has added a bunch more speakers, including Warner Music's SVP Partnerships Bob Workman, !K7's International Sales & Marketing exec Síofra McComb, Vevo's Creative Content & Programming Director Claudia de Wolff and Spotify's Head Of Content Insights Samantha Mandel-Dallal. More at fastforward.xyz

• The Horrors have released the video for new single 'Machine'.

• Avenged Sevenfold have released new song 'Dose', an offcut from latest album 'The Stage'. The band teamed up with videogame maker Gameloft to premiere the track in a special level of new game 'Dungeon Hunter 5'.

• Dave has released new single 'Tequila'.

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

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Now Taylor Swift's being carted around in a box
Presumably inspired by Adele being wheeled to the stage in a flight case on her recent world tour, Taylor Swift has now apparently been transported from her house to a waiting car in a rather large suitcase.

Whereas Adele-in-a-box was used to ensure the singer could have a surprise arrival on stage, Swift-in-a-box was presumably employed to prevent any pesky paps from snapping the singer. Instead they snapped the suitcase and posted it onto the internet.

Well, possibly. This is all based on a posting to a website called Splash News with a photo showing two men carrying a large black suitcase. The poster of said snap claimed that Swift was inside the box.

The caption under the photo, which spelt Swift's name correctly at least twice and only include one unnecessary apostrophe, reads: "Taylor Swift being transported in a huge suitcase from her Tribecca apartment into her truck, in the trunk".

It went on: "A fleet of cars including two large cadillacs and three suv's arrive at Tailor Swift's apartment in Tribecca to move a large suitcase from apartment to truck. Almost a dozen of Taylor Swift security guards were present to move this package carefully as Taylor Swift remains to be unseen for a long time".

Spin 1308 has the posting – photo and caption – so you can make of all this whatever you wish. This is the And Finally slot, remember – so we get a free pass if it turns out this story is utter nonsense.

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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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