TODAY'S TOP STORY: Lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit against Live Nation, demanding that the company refund ticket monies to everyone who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last year. The closing night of the event saw the deadliest mass shooting in US history occur, when a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others when he opened fire from a nearby hotel... [READ MORE]
Available to premium subscribers, CMU Trends digs deeper into the inner workings of the music business, explaining how things work and reviewing all the recent trends.
As CMU Insights publishes agendas for each of the conferences that it will present at The Great Escape later this year, CMU Trends outlines the background to each theme being explored: the future of music education in the UK, the AI technologies most likely to kick-start a revolution in music, and challenges and opportunities in the Chinese music market. [READ MORE]
Music business conference Midem this week publishes a brand new white paper from our consultancy unit CMU Insights reviewing the potential impact various AI technologies will have on the music industry in the next decade. As a preview, CMU Trends presents some highlights. [READ MORE]
It's been a while since we've put the spotlight on challenges in the streaming sector. CMU Insights presented a new speed briefing on that very topic at the Output conference in Belfast this week. Based on that, here is a CMU Trends overview of the top five streaming challenges. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Class action launches demanding Route 91 Harvest refunds from Live Nation
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify to livestream investor pitch
ARTIST NEWS Craig David doesn't think the Spice Girls reunion will be "authentic"
RELEASES The Kills release Saul Williams cover
Iceage announce new album, release Sky Ferreira collaboration
Esther Joy announces new EP, The Acid Caves
GIGS & FESTIVALS Stealing Sheep announce suffrage centenary performance
AWARDS Catherine Marks wins UK Producer Of The Year at MPG Awards
ONE LINERS Big Tobz, Jack White, Pendulum, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #393: Mount Eerie v Autographs
Check out all the latest job opportunities with CMU Jobs. To advertise your job opportunities here email or call 020 7099 0906.
To support our growth, including recent venue acquisitions, MJR Group is looking for a Marketing Manager to develop, manage and deliver complete, strategic marketing campaigns for our venues.

For more information and to apply click here.
This role is a new position within UEA(SU) for a manager to join our Commercial Sales & Marketing team, comprising our box office function and internal and external marketing and partnerships.

For more information and to apply click here.
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a talented and experienced marketing executive to work in-house at AEI Group across our variety of global music brands and artists.

For more information and to apply click here.
Sunday Best is seeking an enthusiastic and creative member of staff to join a small team at a with minimum one year marketing experience in a record label.

For more information and to apply click here.
Believe Sync is looking for a self-motivated individual looking for a unique opportunity in the world of sync.

For more information and to apply click here.
London based independent management company seeks assistant manager for roster of artists, writers and producers.

For more information and to apply click here.
Brownswood is looking for a driven and highly organised social media manager with great design and copywriting skills plus an instinctive understanding of the label's brand.

For more information and to apply click here.
The Music Publishers Association is seeking a highly organised, pro-active, efficient and positive team player to work as its Music Publishing and Sync Co-ordinator Executive.

For more information and to apply click here.
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Business Affairs Manager to join the fast-growing master rights division of Kobalt’s Business Affairs team in London.

For more information and to apply click here.
The O2 Apollo Manchester is seeking a Box Office Manager to co-ordinate all venue box office and ticketing activities.

For more information and to apply click here.
Involved Group is looking for an experienced Royalty & Accounts Assistant Manager to join its busy and growing Finance Team.

For more information and to apply click here.
Academy Music Group is recruiting for an Assistant General Manager to assist in all aspects of the Operation of the building in relation to events staged at O2 Forum Kentish Town.

For more information and to apply click here.
Kobalt Music Recordings is looking for a flexible, confident and highly organised International Label & Product Manager, based out of our London office.

For more information and to apply click here.
Concord Music Publishing's Royalty Tracking Manager role will focus on maximising client royalties through the tracking of missing revenue. A good understanding of UK, and potentially European, music collection societies and royalty processes is essential.

For more information and to apply click here.
Listen Up is currently recruiting for a highly motivated Senior Press Manager with a passion for electronic music and industry relevant experience to join our rapidly growing team.

For more information and to apply click here.
House of Bestival, the brand activation and creative prop house division of the Bestival group, is recruiting a New Business Project Manager with solid production expertise to bring innovative ideas to life in green fields and beyond.

For more information and to apply click here.
Kobalt Music Recordings (KMR) is looking for a detail-oriented and organised individual to assist with our royalty and accounting responsibilities within our Artist and Label Services department, incorporating the AWAL distribution business.

For more information and to apply click here.
The Orchard is looking for a savvy, seasoned International Artist & Label Marketing Co-ordinator to promote The Orchard’s artists and labels in Europe and beyond.

For more information and to apply click here.
The Orchard has an immediate opening for a label manager in our London office. Managing key relationships you will be the first point of contact for a number of labels, artists and managers.

For more information and to apply click here.
Fire Records is seeking a Production And Distribution Administrator, experienced in all areas of record production and manufacturing.

For more information and to apply click here.
Shogun Audio Group is looking to hire an experienced, highly motivated, passionate Product and Distribution Manager to join our growing team.

For more information and to apply click here.
Academy Events is seeking a Tour Marketing Co-ordinator to co-ordinate the sales and marketing function for tours, liaising with promoters, agencies, marketing depts and PR, seeking creative marketing opportunities, maximising ticket sales and other such revenues by developing and managing key marketing campaigns.

For more information and to apply click here.
Finance Manager for a successful artist management company based in Parsons Green. Accounting for artists, in particular touring for multiple active acts. This is a part time role, three days a week, for a nine month maternity cover contract commencing April 2018.

For more information and to apply click here.
The Music Royalty Company provides financial and administrative services to many record labels, distributors, publishers and recording artists. We require a dedicated Royalties Assistant eager to progress their career alongside other talented people.

For more information and to apply click here.
CMU Insights provides training and consultancy to music companies and companies working with music. Find out about our seminars, masterclasses and primers here...
Mondays 5, 12 Mar 2018 at 6.30pm in London
These CMU Insights seminars together provide an overview of how to build a fanbase for new artists and new music. They also look at how artists can use these channels to build a direct-fo-fan business. Places are just £49.99. CLICK HERE FOR INFO.

These are courses we can run in-house at your company
As we head into 2018, CMU Insights is now offering music companies a special two-hour primer session reviewing five key areas of the music business, summarising important developments from the last twelve months and looking at the challenges that lie ahead in the next year. Including: the streaming business, piracy, safe harbour, ticketing and data. CLICK HERE FOR INFO.

Class action launches demanding Route 91 Harvest refunds from Live Nation
Lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit against Live Nation, demanding that the company refund ticket monies to everyone who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last year. The closing night of the event saw the deadliest mass shooting in US history occur, when a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others when he opened fire from a nearby hotel.

The case was filed in Orange County, California earlier this week. The legal team involved argues that some people who privately requested a refund received them, but there have been no moves to automatically pay back all those who bought tickets.

The lawyer who filed the class action, Mark Robinson, who was already representing a couple who were seeking a refund, told Fox News: "We didn't think it was fair that some who privately asked for refunds got them, when really everybody who bought a ticket deserves a full refund".

Another lawyer working on the case, Craig Eiland, elaborated further: "As we were interviewing several hundred of our clients, we realised some had received refunds and some had not. It didn't matter if they were family members of deceased, gunshot victims or traumatised because of the shooting and their escape. The only factor was that those that heard about a refund through Facebook or friends and demanded a refund, got it. So we decided to make one demand on behalf of everyone".

If refunds across the board were achieved, that would create an interesting challenge for anyone who bought a ticket on the secondary market, in that the refund would presumably go to the reseller not the person who actually attended the show.

Even if that issue could be addressed somehow, not everyone who attended the event has welcomed the news of the new litigation. Some have said that getting a refund is perhaps not the thing that people should be focussing on in the continuing aftermath of the shooting.

While all this is going on, new financial support has become available to victims of the attack, and those affected by it. A number of funds have already been set up, but this week a new organisation, Route 91 Strong, made its first payments.

Co-founded by one of the survivors of the attack, Brian Claypool, he tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the aim of the group is to help those who do not meet the criteria of the other funds currently in operation. "We're trying to help people who have fallen through the cracks", he says.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's state government said this week that it believes residents of the state who attended the festival may be eligible to apply for support from the Nevada Crime Victim Compensation scheme. It said that it was aware of 40 people who had bought Route 91 Harvest tickets within Tennessee, as well as more who attended as musicians or in other roles at the event.

The LA Times also reports that lawyers are still trying to ascertain the value of the gunman's estate. A number of those affected by the attack have already made legal moves to claim a portion of this money. Some estimates have been as high as $5 million, although the court overseeing the estate heard this week that it may actually be less than $1 million. A final figure is scheduled to be reported back to the court on 31 May.


Spotify to livestream investor pitch
Spotify has announced another unusual side to its move to publicly list on the stock market. Perhaps fittingly, it plans to livestream its investor pitch later this month.

The streaming service filed documents setting its long-awaited plans to float in motion. Now some people are trying to work out if Spotify's SEC filing this week tells us anything of value about whether or not the firm's bold attempt to reinvent the music industry is going to have a happy ending. Meanwhile, another group is trying to work out if the company's bold attempt to reinvent the way tech companies go public will prove to likewise end on a happy or sad note.

Spotify, of course, will arrive on the New York Stock Exchange via an unusual direct listing rather than the customary Initial Public Offering. It quite radically changes the way the company formally launches itself to the Wall Street massive.

To that end, rather than closed doors briefings for investor types, Spotify will livestream a pre-listing pitch on 15 Mar. According to the FT, the streaming business hopes that doing an investor presentation that way will "democratise information". Which it probably will. Before people start navigating all that investor info via playlists and everything somehow skews back to the major players. Or something like that.

Elsewhere in Spotify news, the curator behind one of the streaming service's most popular playlist brands, that'll be RapCaviar, has left the company. Tuma Basa joined the digital firm in 2015 having previously worked for MTV. The hip hop centric RapCaviar playlist has nearly nine million followers and is being developed by Spotify as a wider content brand.


Vigsy's Club Tip: The Hydra at Printworks
London's massive Printworks venue opens for its third season tomorrow night, with The Hydra overseeing the first party - an all-dayer until 11pm.

There are some big names on the bill alright. Big hitter Kerri Chandler jets over from the States to headline. He'll be joined by John Talabot, Prins Thomas, Eastern Electrics head honcho Dolan Bergin, Lindstrom with a live set, and more.

Founders of The Hydra, Ajay Jayaram and Dolan Bergin, have this to say: "Having access to Printworks is an absolute privilege and has allowed us to scale things up in a way that had hitherto rarely been seen for a lot of the music and artists where our main focus lies".

They go on: "The aim is to continue to evolve what we are able to do in tandem with developments at the venue itself - the whole team behind it share our appetite for adventure and that inspires us to keep pushing and to collectively provide new experiences for all that enter Printworks".

Saturday 3 Mar, Printworks, 1 Surrey Quays Road, London, SE16 7PJ, 12pm-11pm, £22.50. More info here.

Craig David doesn't think the Spice Girls reunion will be "authentic"
Craig David's not into the Spice Girls reunion, because he thinks it's not "authentic". He's basing this on plans he's drawn up for the group's future activities in his head. David says he thinks it would be weird for them all to dress like 20 year olds and try to appeal to teenage girls now.

"It's a funny one", he tells Metro. "The Spice Girls as a group embodied female empowerment. But they've all grown into women. Victoria's doing her own thing, Melanie C, Melanie B, Emma... Geri was very vocal when it came to politics. But to come back and pretend that they can put on those little dresses and vibe, it's not really authentic".

When Mel B originally spoke to the Mirror about the reunion, she made no mention of putting on little dresses and vibing. She actually said: "We feel really positive about the Spice Girls legacy right now, because all the fans are women now. Some are parents, running their own businesses. Young girls are rediscovering the Spice Girls and it just feels like a really positive time, we need the girl power message more now than ever".

So perhaps there is a plan to try to engage younger girls and women, but the focus does mainly seem to be on the original fanbase. But David thinks they should take a leaf out of his book and aim not to win over any new fans at all.

"I can't talk about doing what young people do, I'm 36 years old", he says. "There's certain things that have a time and place. But I think the fans would love to have a reunion".

In other news, he's also happy that gender diversity is becoming a more widely discussed topic, saying: "I'm so happy we're in this time. It's been so male dominant for such a long time. 'We can't put it under the rug anymore. Let's have a debate, let's talk about this".

Just not a debate led by the Spice Girls.


The Kills release Saul Williams cover
The Kills are back with a cover of Saul Williams' 'List of Demands (Reparations)'. Out today digitally, and as a limited edition seven-inch, the track comes backed with a version of Peter Tosh's 'Steppin Razor'"

"It's a song of strength and empowerment, rooted in the idea of rising above", says the duo's Alison Mosshart of 'List of Demands'. "It was one of those songs you're almost scared to cover, because it carries so much respect. It wasn't a straight up love song or a drug song. It was defined, serious, and perfect already. With certain songs, you feel like an intruder trying to sing them, but this one felt like my own".

Luckily for her, Williams agrees, giving the Kills' version his seal of approval. He says: "I always felt envious of the way the 60s generation shared songs and ideologies. Jimi singing Dylan. Rotary Connection singing Otis Redding. The Stones singing the blues. This is all part of the beauty and power of music and it reverberates deeply in me. All this to say, I'm honoured. I liked The Kills before they chose to cover 'LOD'. If they can feel themselves in that song, it's because they are as much a part of it as I am".

Watch the video for The Kills' version of 'List Of Demands' here.

The Kills will support the Foo Fighters live in the UK at London's Olympic Stadium on 23 Jun.


Iceage announce new album, release Sky Ferreira collaboration
Iceage have announced that they will release their fourth album, 'Beyondless', on 4 May. They've also released new single 'Pain Killer', featuring Sky Ferreira. The song is the band's first to ever feature a guest vocalist.

As well as Ferreira's input, like all the best albums, 'Beyondless' comes accompanied by an essay from Richard Hell. You can read that right here:

by Richard Hell

I can totally imagine myself as a kid lying in my closed-door room in the dark, listening to this band and getting what I need, the way a band can make a person feel seen and bring confidence, sometimes even represent an ideal. Or maybe I'm already all defiant and self-certain, and I identify with Iceage because they are too, and they're who I want to represent me in music. It's a weird combination of qualities that a rock and roll band and their recordings presents to their young crowd, imparts to them. The music being pure emotion, the strong emotions of youth - anger, sadness, contempt, longing - as well as energy and sex, and the band's demonstration that it gracefully owns and provides those things, consoling their followers in all the confusion.

What is it that Iceage in particular brings? A large number of extraordinary things. (Poetry! But more about that later). The band members were childhood friends, which is always good news. They're like a small urban gang, faithful to each other, suspicious of outsiders (of which music journalists like me are the most suspect examples). At the same time, they seem mature and competent, which is almost too much to hope for. They not only play and compose well, but the production of their records, from the very beginning, and at the music's most chaotic, is impeccable. Their presentation is as hardcore anarchic as any, but much better played, mixed, and recorded than most.

And then there's the poetry and the intelligence. The members of Iceage are not only smart but hyper literate. Interviews with E. Rønnenfelt, the lead singer and lyricist of the band, find him mentioning Carson McCullers, 'The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter'; Georges Bataille, 'Story Of The Eye'; Peter Shaffer's 'Equus'; Mishima, 'The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea'; Genet's 'Thief's Journal' and 'Miracle Of The Rose'; 'The Torture Garden' by Octave Mirbeau; 'Henry Miller On Writing'; and James Agee's 'A Death In The Family', and that's in a total of four interviews. It's not that he flaunts it; he's simply honest and naturally acknowledges it.

The lyrics of Iceage songs have the most sophisticated vocabulary I can remember finding in rock music. Here's a favourite example, from 'Pain Killer' on the new album:

Praying at the altar of your legs and feet
Your saliva is a drug so bittersweet
I'll arrogate what's there to take
In an evanescent embrace

..."Arrogate"??? I half know the word, but I had to look it up to be certain. It means "to claim or seize without justification". It's funny because its Latin root also underlies the word "arrogant", which one might be tempted to apply to Rønnenfelt for the contempt he shows for people who try to understand him. But I sympathise.

It is extremely annoying to be characterised by other people. And the shading of meaning of the word "arrogate" brings a subtlety to those lyrics of his that "take" or "seize" or "claim" wouldn't. Frankly, though, what I really like about those lines is the concept of praying to his lover's feet. That's good. It makes me think of a similar instance in another poet, Charles Baudelaire, who wrote in his 'Hymn To Beauty':

Who cares if you come from paradise or hell,
appalling Beauty, artless and monstrous scourge,
if only your eyes, your smile or your foot reveal
the infinite I love and have never known?


Esther Joy announces new EP, The Acid Caves
Esther Joy has announced that she will release a new EP, 'The Acid Caves Vol 1', on 27 Apr. Each track on the release serves as a chapter in a story, following Silipur, an alien who illegally departs her home planet for Earth.

"'The Acid Caves' is based in a universe in which all planets are connected by an energy system called 'The Chaos'", explains the musician. "The Chaos is the energy that sustains all planets and all life forms. It's the emotional, the spiritual and the supernatural".

She continues: "Over the last millennium, all lifebloods (non-humans) developed the ability to physically see and manipulate this energy, leading to huge advancements in better mental health and supernatural power. For humans, however, their overpowered ego and transfixion with technology significantly stunted their natural evolution and are now the only life form unable to see or understand The Chaos".

"This story will follow Silipur, a lonely, cynical lifeblood who chooses to abandon her planet illegally for Earth", she goes on. "She is one of many who will try to break through the temporary gate in hope of tasting Earth's purest energy".

The first track to be released from the EP is 'Day 1 (Silipur Leaves Home)'. Listen here.


Stealing Sheep announce suffrage centenary performance
Stealing Sheep have announced plans to mark the 100th anniversary of some women in the UK being allowed to vote. As part of their upcoming creative residency in Liverpool, they are seeking fifteen female drummers to join them for a performance of new piece, 'Suffragette Tribute'.

The group's five day residency at Liverpool's The Invisible Wind Factory is part of Both Sides Now - a three year programme to support women in music across the north of England. Beginning on 30 Apr, they will develop 'Suffragette Tribute', ahead of its debut performance at the Liverpool Sound City festival on 5 May. The piece will also be performed at Festival No 9 and End of The Road over the summer.

Putting the call out to drummers and percussionists to collaborate with them, the band say: "We want to work with women from different ages, backgrounds and a mix of musical influences and styles, with a shared vision for celebrating women and suffrage. This incredible anniversary has inspired us to create a new piece of music that will come alive during this residency. We want to make a bold statement, bring women together and get loud!"

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Representation Of The People Act 1918, which allowed women over the age of 30 to vote in UK elections. It was ten years later, in 1928, that the voting ages for women was dropped to 21, in line with men.

Find out more about the Stealing Sheep residency, and how to get involved, here.


Catherine Marks wins UK Producer Of The Year at MPG Awards
It was the Music Producers Guild's awards ceremony last night, handing out prizes to key players in the music production and recording studio industry. Unusually for a field general seen as a boys' club, almost a third of the awards were taken home by women.

Taking home the big prize of the night was Catherine Marks, who was named UK Producer Of The Year. The award recognised her recent work with acts including The Amazons, Manchester Orchestra and The Big Moon.

Other women to be given trophies were Manon Grandjean for Recording Engineer Of The Year, Marta Salogni for Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year, and [PIAS] Global Chief Creative Officer Jane Third, who took away the A&R Award. Musician and producer Imogen Heap, meanwhile, was given the Inspiration award.

"We are delighted to be celebrating ten years of MPG Awards", says MPG Awards boss Tony Platt of the event. "It is especially encouraging to see the emergence of so much fresh new talent alongside the success of earlier breakthrough winners. I think we have every right to be proud of the milestone this represents - long may it continue!"

Here's the full list of winners:

UK Producer Of The Year: Catherine Marks
International Producer Of The Year: Garret 'Jacknife' Lee
Self-Producing Artist Of The Year: Dave Bayley (Glass Animals)

Recording Engineer Of The Year: Manon Grandjean
Mix Engineer Of The Year: Mark 'Spike' Stent
Mastering Engineer Of The Year: Matt Colton
Remixer Of The Year: UNKLE

Breakthrough Producer Of The Year: Jolyon Thomas
Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year: Marta Salogni

UK Album Of The Year: Glass Animals - How To Be A Human
UK Single Song Release Of The Year: Royal Blood - Lights Out

Studio Of The Year: Abbey Road
A&R Award: Jane Third

Special Recognition Award: Colin Sanders
Outstanding Contribution To UK Music: Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley
Inspiration Award: Imogen Heap

The Music Producers Guild is also involved in selecting the BRIT Award for Best British Producer, which this year went to Steve Mac.


Big Tobz, Jack White, Pendulum, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Universal Music's Polydor has signed Big Tobz to a new record deal. "I'm a big fan of Polydor and what they do and this partnership could have only been a win-win situation for us both", says the rapper. Here's new track 'No Stress', featuring Don-E.

• Jack White has released new single, 'Over And Over And Over'.

• Pendulum's new album, 'The Reworks', will be a remix album, they have now confirmed. Remixers include Skrillex, Matrix & Futurebound, Noisia and Devin Townsend.

• Rae Sremmurd's upcoming new album, 'Sr3mm', will also include the respective debut solo albums from the duo's Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi. In the interest of fairness, they've just released a track from each - 'Powerglide' by Rae Sremmurd, 'Hurt To Look' by Swae Lee, and 'Brxnks Truck' by Slim Jxmmi. Why not set up a Twitter poll asking people to vote for their favourite?

• Run The Jewels have released a remix of Lorde's 'Supercut' as they head out on a tour of the US together.

• MNEK is back with new single, 'Tongue'.

• Little Simz has released two - count em - new songs and videos, 'Doorways + Trust Issues' and 'Low Tides'. Her 'Welcome To Wonderland: The Experience II' festival is on at the Roundhouse this Sunday.

• Liima have released the video for their song, 'Jonathan, I Can't Tell You', from last year's '1982' album.

• Will Haven have released another new track from their upcoming album 'Muerte'. Here's 'Winds Of Change'.

• Teitur has released his first single for five years, 'Sara'. His new album, 'I Want To Be Kind', is due out later this year.

• Eera has released the lyric video for her song 'Watching You'. She's also announced that she will play a London show at The Lexington on 21 Mar.

• Susanne Sundfør has won this year's Nordic Music Prize. "The jury wanted to reward an album that is both a bold departure for her but confirms a fantastic talent", say the jury in a statement.

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


Beef Of The Week #393: Mount Eerie v Autographs
Taylor Swift once wrote, "I haven't been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento 'kids these days' want is a selfie".

I often think about this. My head is full of dumb stuff it calls up randomly for no obvious reason. Here's a thing - when I think about this, I don't visualise Taylor Swift, I see in my minds eye that old Vodafone advert where David Beckham gets asked for a selfie in a supermarket. See? It's just wall-to-wall nonsense up there in my brain.

And don't think I am just saying all this to pad out the Beef Of The Week column. Don't be thinking "yeah, he doesn't really think about Taylor Swift's remarks on autographs at least a few times a year". Because I really do. One of the reasons I think Swift's comment keeps coming back to me is because it doesn't ring true.

For all the technological advances of the last decade or so, people still like having other people's names written on stuff. I can't see that changing. Also, if you Google 'Taylor Swift signing autographs', you'll see that the internet is full of pictures of Taylor Swift signing autographs. Doing so also serves as a reminder that Taylor Swift doesn't know how to hold a pen properly.

The strange currency of autographs, and meeting and greeting celebrities in any kind of formal way, is something that also enters my mind from time to time. The idea of asking someone to write down their name in order to prove that you were once momentarily side by side has always seemed odd. Even weirder is buying the autographs of people you weren't ever even close to. In either of those scenarios, what ultimate purpose does it serve?

Anyway, as you can see, I have overthought this subject to quite some degree. But, holy shit, this is nothing compared to Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum.

Elverum this week took part in a Reddit AMA, and in preparing to do so took the maverick decision to look up what people were already saying about him online. It turned out that a common theme was that he often left people feeling unsatisfied when they asked him for an autograph.

As a response to this, he posted the text of a pamphlet he now apparently hands to people when they ask him to sign something. It contains 2733 words on why he doesn't like doing so. I'm not sure this would necessarily leave people feeling any less weird about having their autograph request rebuffed, but it at least gives him time to run away while they read it. Or maybe he stays and waits for them to finish. Either way, I'm still not sure it's helping.

However, despite the enormous length of this "no", he does make some very good and interesting points in the document about how it feels to ask for an autograph, how it feels to be asked for an autograph, and the nature of people's relationships with others they admire.

He starts by recounting a story from his childhood. At around ten years old, he sent his apparently quite large collection of trading cards featuring American football player Walter Payton to the man himself. Against all the odds, Payton signed them all and sent them back.

"I treasured them and they are still in my parents' attic today", writes Elverum. "These little pieces of cardboard were important to me mostly because the boundary had been crossed and erased between this god-like football man from TV and me, a kid from the forest outside a small town in Washington".

When I was about ten, I paid a pound to have my photo taken with Formula 1 driver Martin Brundell at some sort of fete, which he then signed. This was weird for a number of reasons. He'd just got of a helicopter. That was one. Also, I have no idea what the pound was for. I assume charity. Or maybe he was hoping to recoup his costs. Helicopters are quite expensive to run.

I haven't seen that photo for years, but in my memory it is of a man who looks like he's just arrived in a field slightly unsure of why he's there, and a small boy confused about what's happening. I had my picture taken with an owl around the same time, which I definitely remember more fondly. I don't remember how much money I had to give the owl. Though it didn't then sign the photo, so probably didn't deserve payment.

Anyway, Elverum continues, things changed for him when Nirvana suddenly became the biggest band in the world in the early 90s. "I saw Kurt Cobain on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and recognised a regular person", he says. "A peer of any of the older scrubby young men that worked with my dad doing cement work in the bad weather and played in bands at night. Hearing Nirvana on the radio station barely coming in from Seattle breached the boundaries of fame and accessibility and made me realise that people, humans, make this music (obviously) and that the door was theoretically open to me or anyone".

He later discovered that a record store where he and his friends bought CDs was run by Bret Lunsford of Beat Happening - a band cited as influential by many of the grunge bands they were now getting into.

"I remember when my friends bought the new Beat Happening album on release day", he writes. "All three of us had ordered a copy. Jeremy and Brandon took the shrink wrap off the jewel case right there in the store and asked Bret if he would sign it. I felt embarrassment wash over me".

He explains: "We'd been hanging out at the store for months, becoming more comfortable, acting cool (we thought), and earning trust and respect. Not gawking too much, letting the weirdness of that celebrity perception wash away and blur into a mutually respectful young person/old person relationship. When my friends asked for Bret's autograph (and I didn't) I felt embarrassed for them, and to be with them. I wanted it to be known that I didn't care if Bret signed my CD".

One of the things I get asked when people find out that I'm a journalist is whether I get to meet lots of famous people. The answer is no. Not least, because I'm not the sort of journalist who gets to meet famous people. But also because I try to avoid any situation where I might. Sometimes I get asked if I'd like to meet the band after a show. But if you do that, it usually ends up being weird because the balance of power is immediately off centre. This is mainly because I can never really think of anything to say except, "I enjoyed the show", and where do you go from there?

What you really want to do is to meet someone in a neutral situation and speak on a level playing field. Make some kind of connection that doesn't feel contrived, or strained, or just without substance. Something that Elverum and his friends seemingly had up to the point autographs were sought.

He continues: "I could sense a slight awkwardness on Bret's part when they asked, which now I know in hindsight was just gentle bemusement at these quaint small town teens, nothing very bad or truly uncomfortable. He obliged. I remember clearly that he opened the jewel case and with a dull black sharpie wrote 'BRET' on the disc, almost like one would do if they were labelling their property".

I actually signed an autograph once. It was weird. I was backstage at a very small festival with a band I was working with at the time. A little kid came and asked us all to sign his programme, assuming that anyone he found backstage was famous. He was wrong on all counts. Particularly with me. I signed my name anyway, because it was easier than explaining all this to a seven year old. Something it seems at least some people actually of note also do when asked to sign a photo or programme.

"There's a pattern", Elverum says of what happens when he mans the merch table at his shows and does comply with fans' autograph requests. "The evening starts out with people looking at the records, buying them, not talking very much, just occasional chit chat. Nice mellow compliments, human interactions".

He goes on: "Then at some point someone buys a record and is like 'I don't mean to be weird or anything but would it be at all possible for you to sign this?', and then I swallow all of my turmoil and say 'yes sure' and write my name. When they see that I've merely written my name I can usually sense, and it's possible I'm projecting this, I can sense a slight embarrassment and disappointment on their face when I hand the record back".

He goes on: "It's possible they detect my resistance to the act - that me writing 'PHIL ELVERUM', often on the back of the record or on the inside, because I actually worked really hard designing the artwork without my name written on it and I prefer it without the defacement, that me writing my name in that direct caps lock way - conveys an attitude of mockery and derision toward them for asking in the first place. The already fraught imbalance in status that we were operating in then quickly crumbles and I become the asshole who signed his fan's record in a snarky sarcastic way".

I have a record like this. At one of the first Independent Label Markets I bought an album by an artist I was enjoying at the time. I went to pay and the guy running that label's stall said, "Oh, I can give you a signed one of those for the same price". Not wanting to seem rude, even though I really didn't want a signed copy, I let the copy I was already holding be replaced in my hands.

Across the front, spoiling the artwork, was the artist's stage name written in all caps in slightly smudged silver marker. It looks like someone did it by mistake. It's made all the more weird by the fact that I wasn't even there when the artist did this. I have never played that record. I should have just said I didn't want it, but interacting with people is weird, isn't it?

As for his own reasons for being uncomfortable with autographs, Elverum says: "I believe in equality and I don't believe in god. That shift that happened for me when Nirvana got popular, the opening up of possibilities and the recalibration of my ideas about access, that has stayed with me. I believe that successful and well-known people are regular people, of course, and I am made uncomfortable by our tendency as humans to elevate some people while not elevating others. What is the deal with royalty? Why do we do that?"

"Of course some people become more well-known than others", he concedes. "Of course the ground is not flat. But the adulation behaviour that comes so easily to most people seems dangerous and bad to me. It's not that I don't have long rich fantasies of the conversations and interactions I'd like to have with my favourite artists, writers, thinkers. I do. I want to personally know these brilliant people, and I enjoy hearing about their secret unglamorous regular life moments, the mechanics of their normalcy. I enjoy the reminders of my sameness with them because it reinforces the possibilities that lay open for me, always. An autograph is detrimental to all of this door-opening".

As well as Martin Brundell, I have had my photo taken with one other celebrity. It was more recently. I just checked - it was 2014. I'd normally avoid any such situation nowadays, but it was someone it seemed slightly weird to see near my house who I thought it would be fun to stand next to. Also, I had been drinking.

In the picture, we both look delighted to be together. He's got a big American smile and he's sticking his thumb up. I am raising my drink towards the camera, toasting the fact that we have - as it appears to depict - just been spotted together. But that photo is a lie.

In many ways, I think I prefer the awkwardness of the Martin Brundell photo. This more recent photo doesn't look awkward, but it is probably more so. I don't think I said anything more than "hello" before the picture was taken. I was one in a line of people having their pictures taken with a guy who, I think, was just minding his own business. It makes me feel a bit sad to think that for a short period of that day, the interactions that guy had with people were mostly silent because all they wanted from him was a picture of his face.

On reflection, the owl picture is still my favourite. And I didn't talk to the owl much either. That said, the owl didn't attempt to engage me in conversation. Nor did the celebrity, for that matter. Either would have probably felt weird though, so I should probably carry on feeling bad about it.

Back to Elverum's experiences of signing autographs, he says: "I die inside while doing it. My skin crawls. I hate it so much. The embarrassment of being placed on a stupid and absurd pedestal, of performing this pointless and ugly act, writing my name on a thing that shouldn't have my name on it so a person can feel superficially connected to me, the shame of sitting there signing everyone's thing without being able to speak up about it feels horrible".

He also notes that, as an independent artist, he gets "intimately physical ... with pretty much every single copy of every record" he makes. After "stuffing, folding, packing, lifting, dropping" them, "these things have my literal hairs and cells in them, fingerprints, body parts, fluids. Way more significant than a written name".

I guess that is part of the appeal though. It's one thing for an artist to have possibly sneezed on a record, but people want proof that the person who made it actually touched it. What better proof than a signature? If it's good enough for a bank, then it's good enough for anyone else. And I guess that's why some people even like the autographs that were written down when they weren't there. So that they can feel some connection to musical history. They can say, "Elton John once clasped this onion". Or whatever.

Realising this, and that therefore an autograph request isn't really that unreasonable, Elverum concedes: "I even owe you an autograph". He adds: "I am not being sarcastic when I say I am your servant and employee. Essentially, I should shut up and sing. I should suck it up and do the relatively easy things requested of me. If I am rambling about equality and rebalancing the unhealthy celebrity power dynamic, yeah, I should let go of asserting my views and whims".

But that doesn't change his feelings though. So he concludes: "I am opposed to autographs and it hurts my soul to sign them. Please don't ask me to do it. And please don't be embarrassed when you do ask and I hand you this pamphlet and say no. It is the only way I could think of to release us both".

So, there you go. You know what? I'd pay good money for a signed copy of that pamphlet.


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 (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 (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 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.
CMU supports the music community by providing news, business intelligence, training and education.

CMU Daily covers all the latest news and developments direct by email.

Setlist is a weekly podcast dissecting the biggest music business stories.

CMU Premium gives you access to the weekly CMU Digest and CMU Trends.

CMU Insights provides training and consultancy for music companies.

CMU:DIY provides workshops and resources for future music talent.

© UnLimited Media, a division of 3CM Enterprises Ltd

UnLimited Media, Kemp House, 152 City Road, London EC1V 2NX
t: 020 7099 9050 (editorial) 020 7099 9060 (sales)

Send press releases to

Email advertising queries to

Email training and consultancy queries to |