FRIDAY 13 APRIL 2018 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: A consortium of trade groups representing all the different copyright industries has written to the European Council urging them to push for the somehow-still-in-development new European copyright directive to include some tangible safe harbour reform... [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.
   
SPOTIFY - PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
As Spotify finally lists on the New York Stock Exchange, CMU Trends reviews Spotify's business to date, considers what its SEC filing might tell us about its current direction, and speculates what a Spotify of the future might look like. [READ MORE]
   
CHINA, AI AND MUSIC EDUCATION - SETTING THE AGENDA
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: music education, AI and the Chinese music market. [READ MORE]
   
AI - THE NEXT REVOLUTION IN MUSIC?
Midem recently published 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. CMU Trends presents some highlights. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Music industry urges EU to not water down safe harbour reform
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DEALS Ryan Hemsworth signs to Third Side Music
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS HD vinyl could be on the shelves by summer 2019
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LIVE BUSINESS Harry Styles fans turn O2 into "massive Pride flag"
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify buys mechanical rights platform Loudr
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RELEASES Wilko Johnson announces first album of new material for 30 years
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GIGS & FESTIVALS The xx announce Night + Day Bilbao
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ONE LINERS Iron Maiden, Zayn Malik, Nicki Minaj, more
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AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #399: Elton John v The Kids
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Check out all the latest classified ads with CMU Classifieds. To advertise here email advertising@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 0906.
   
COOKING VINYL - OFFICE SPACE TO RENT (WEST LONDON)
Cooking Vinyl is pleased to offer a newly refurbished office space in Acton, West London. Ideal to share with other likeminded creatives in a hot desk environment, or alternatively to rent the space as a whole, comfortably fitting 30+ desks.

For more information and to apply click here.
Check out all the latest job opportunities with CMU Jobs. To advertise your job opportunities here email advertising@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 0906.
   
MUSIC MANAGERS FORUM - MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY (LONDON)
The MMF is seeking a Membership Secretary to ensure the smooth-running of the MMF office, servicing its 500-strong membership.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
BELIEVE DISTRIBUTION SERVICES - SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER (LONDON)
Believe Distribution Services is looking for a Senior Digital Marketing Manager to join its team.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
BIGFOOT MUSIC MANAGEMENT - DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER (LONDON)
We are recruiting a Digital Marketing Manager to join Bigfoot Music Management, which represents Adam Beyer, Drumcode and many more.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
KOBALT MUSIC GROUP - ASSISTANT ADMIN MANAGER (LONDON)
The Assistant Admin Manager is a completely new role that will support the global team with the operational day-to-day as well with distribution focused tasks.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
KOBALT MUSIC GROUP - COPYRIGHT ASSISTANT (LONDON)
The primary role of the Copyright Assistant will be to support the team with managing our catalogue in the US across all US PROs by ensuring works and agreements are registered correctly.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
DOMINO PUBLISHING - COPYRIGHT & ROYALTIES ASSISTANT (LONDON)
Domino Publishing requires a passionate music person to assist the copyright and royalties staff.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
MAXIMUM BOOST - MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT (LONDON)
As a direct assistant to a lead artist manager within Maximum Boost Management you will be entrusted to support, plan and execute a number of processes on behalf of the manager and their artists.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
RAYMOND GUBBAY - TICKETING AND ADMINISTATION ASSISTANT (LONDON)
RGL is seeking a motivated individual with strong analytical and communication skills to join the ticketing department.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
CREAM - MARKETING EXECUTIVE (LIVERPOOL)
Joining Cream's small and busy marketing and PR team, the candidate will be required to support the planning, delivery and analysis of marketing campaigns immediately, with quick progression to managing smaller campaigns.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
VISION NINE - DIGITAL MARKETING ASSISTANT (SIX WEEKS) (LONDON)
Vision Nine is looking for a bright and enthusiastic Digital Marketing Assistant to help support the Marketing team in the delivery of website and email for its NASS and Boardmasters festivals.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
AGILE AGEING ALLIANCE - EDITOR (LOCATION FLEXIBLE)
We are looking for a part-time Editor to edit and manage the website and social media of the Agile Ageing Alliance, a campaigning social business supported by CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
INTERMUSICA - ADMINISTRATOR, FILM & MULTIMEDIA IN PERFORMANCE (LONDON)
Intermusica is seeking a highly motivated and imaginative individual to support the Film & Multimedia in Performance area of Intermusica and its increasing number of artists and projects.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
NUCLEAR BLAST - PRESS OFFICER (LONDON)
Rock/metal label Nuclear Blast is looking for a dynamic and creative Press Officer to handle PR for its rapidly diversifying roster.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
KOBALT MUSIC GROUP - CLIENT MANAGER (LONDON)
Kobalt's Client Manager will be the first point of call for a roster of high-profile clients and responsible for developing and maintaining client relationships and delivering a first-class experience.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
FABRIC LONDON - SENIOR MARKETING & PROMOTIONS MANAGER (LONDON)
Fabric London is looking for a savvy and experienced marketing person with an expert touch on digital.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
FABRIC LONDON - MARKETING & PROMOTIONS OFFICER (LONDON)
Fabric London is looking for someone to join its marketing team in a supportive role to assist on the implementation of our promotional campaigns.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
BPI - TECHNICAL EXECUTIVE (LONDON)
BPI is creating a new role of Technical Executive to further enhance the technical and forensic capabilities within the BPI Content Protection team.

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BPI - DATA ANALYST & INSIGHTS MANAGER (LONDON)
The BPI is looking for a Data Analyst & Insights Manager to be responsible for monitoring and identifying anti-piracy trends and reporting these back to the company to help inform the team’s wider strategy.

For more information and to apply click here.
CMU Insights will present three full-day confernces as part of The Great Escape's convention programme this May. Get your tickets here.
   
CMU INSIGHTS PRESENTS THE EDUCATION CONFERENCE
Wednesday 16 May | Dukes at Komedia, Brighton
This full-day conference will put the spotlight on music education, and discuss how business and entrepreneurial skills could and should be integrated into the music curriculum. [READ MORE]
   
CMU INSIGHTS PRESENTS THE AI CONFERENCE
Thursday 17 May | Dukes at Komedia, Brighton
This full-day conference will look at how big data and AI will impact on music, including audio-recognition, fan-messaging, data-driven recommendations and music composition tools. [READ MORE]
   
CMU INSIGHTS PRESENTS THE CHINA CONFERENCE
Friday 18 May | Dukes at Komedia, Brighton
The full day conference will provide a beginner's guide to the Chinese music market, looking at copyright, streaming services, media and social media, and the touring circuit. [READ MORE]

Music industry urges EU to not water down safe harbour reform
A consortium of trade groups representing all the different copyright industries has written to the European Council - a committee made up of leaders from each EU country - urging them to push for the somehow-still-in-development new European copyright directive to include some tangible safe harbour reform. The letter responds to "certain specific suggestions" in the latest draft of the directive about which the copyright reps are "significantly concerned".

It's article thirteen of the new copyright directive that seeks to increase the liabilities of user-upload websites like YouTube, which currently argue that they can't be held liable for any copyright infringing material uploaded by their users because of the so called safe harbour. That safe harbour, which stems from an e-commerce directive in Europe, says internet companies can't be held finically liable for their users' infringement providing they offer some sort of takedown system for copyright owners, like YouTube's Content ID.

The copyright industries - led by the music industry - want the safe harbour reformed so that it no longer applies to user-upload sites, which, they argue, were never envisaged to be a beneficiary of the safe harbour when it was first conceived in the 1990s. Doing so, the music community reckons, would close the so called 'value gap', ie the difference between the royalties paid by streaming platforms like Spotify and those paid by safe harbour dwelling services like YouTube.

In the first draft of the new copyright directive, article thirteen goes some way to achieving that. Though in subsequent discussions the copyright industries have been trying to get said article beefed up, while the tech sector wants it sufficiently watered down to be basically pointless.

Yesterday's letter from all those trade bodies - which included top musical trade group acronyms like IFPI, IMPALA, CISAC, GESAC, CIAM, ECSA, ICMP and IMPF - raised concerns over three proposals that are now being considered. These proposals, if implemented, they said, might mean that -"far from ensuring legal certainty" - reform "could be detrimental to our sectors, thereby negating the directive's intention".

First they object to a proposed clause defining which services would see their liabilities increased as a result of article thirteen. That definition, they write, "could leave most [user-upload] platforms outside the scope" of the safe harbour limiting provision, "despite the fact they continue to provide access to copyright protected works and other subject matter".

Next, they oppose the suggestion that the words "in full knowledge" be included in the definition of when a user-upload service is considered to be communicating a copyright work to the public. This, they say, risks narrowing the scope of the 'communication control' element of copyright which, they reckon, would contravene EU jurisprudence. And you wouldn't want to do that, would you?

Thirdly, states the letter: "As currently proposed, the language of article 13.4 and relevant recitals is tantamount to a new 'safe harbour' for the services involved. It conditions copyright liability upon implementation of certain measures by services, and even refers to their subjective efforts. This would seriously undermine fundamental principles of European copyright in terms of the exclusive nature of the communication to the public right".

Not only that, but "such an unwarranted liability privilege risks breaching the EU's obligations under international copyright treaties. We firmly believe it feasible to mitigate the circumstances in which measures are applied, without interfering with copyright liability. We invite member states to work on this basis and reconsider the current drafting in article 13.4".

So that's them told. The directive needs to be passed by both the European Parliament and the EU Council, the latter made up relevant ministers from each member state. Once passed, individual EU countries then need to implement the changes at a national level. It's thought that the UK will do likewise even if the deadline for complying with the directive falls after Brexit Day.

The copyright trade bodies previously wrote to Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov when he took over the Presidency of the aforementioned EU Council in January, urging him to support "an effective solution to the value gap problem for the benefit of Europe".

In the new letter to the separate European Council - which also brings together each member state's government - they conclude: "The proposed [new] law should seek to correct the ongoing unfairness in the marketplace by establishing legal certainty and ensuring effective protection of creators and producers' rights vis-à-vis user-uploaded content services".

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Ryan Hemsworth signs to Third Side Music
Producer Ryan Hemsworth has signed a new worldwide publishing deal with Third Side Music.

"We are THRILLED to welcome Ryan Hemsworth to the TSM family as his material, both past and forthcoming, brings a diversity of sound to our roster that stands out in today's plentiful musical landscape", says Third Side Music's Melissa Woods.

Her colleague Bronte Jane adds: "Ryan's exactly the sort of career artist we're always looking to work with. One who we look forward to exploring more creative and custom opportunities with".

Other artists on the Third Side roster include Sofi Tukker, Courtney Barnett, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Kurt Vile, Blonde Redhead and Badbadnotgood. So he joins a good bunch.

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HD vinyl could be on the shelves by summer 2019
Some people say that one of the attractions of vinyl is all the pops, crackles and imperfections of sound held in its analogue form. Those people are wrong, which is why high definition vinyl has been invented. Now the company behind it, Rebeat Innovation, reckons actually good vinyl could be in the shops as soon as next year.

The company says that as well as better sound quality, HD vinyl will also be louder and play for longer before you have to leap up and flip it over. And best of all, it's that most coveted of things - something many thought was lost to the music industry forever - a new format. Who knows, one day it might even be as ubiquitous as Super Audio CDs and DVD Audio.

According to Pitchfork, Rebeat has received $4.8 million in funding to get this idea off the ground. A chunk of this will be spent on the laser cutting system required to make the discs, which allows for more accurate reproduction of sound recordings on vinyl. The manufacturing process will also do away with the need for the various chemicals involved in standard vinyl production.

The aim, says CEO Günter Loibl, is to work with five pressing plants to create test records. These will then be presented, it is hoped, at the Making Vinyl conference in Detroit this October. "It will take another eight months to do all the fine adjustments", says Loibl. "So by summer 2019 we shall see the first HD vinyls in the stores".

HD vinyl discs will play on existing turntables, so there'll be no need to upgrade your hi-fi right away. Although, given the alarming and upsetting number of people who buy vinyl and then never play it, maybe that's not a concern anyway.

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Harry Styles fans turn O2 into "massive Pride flag"
Two Harry Styles fans have spoken about lighting the O2 Arena up like a rainbow when the former One Directioner played the London venue earlier this week.

As Styles performed his song 'Sweet Creature', different sections of the audience lit up in different colours to create a rainbow effect in the u-shaped auditorium. It was initially assumed that this had been an official part of the show, but the two fans who actually put it together have now spoken to Metro about their months of work to pull it all off.

The light show was created by fans holding up their phones with different pieces of coloured paper held over the lit screens. The plan was announced back in January, with a seating plan showing fans what colour paper to bring with them. But on the night, the two women behind the idea also handed out thousands of pieces of paper and instructions to ensure it came off.

"In October 2017 we suggested we do a project for Harry during the London shows and we came up with an idea of creating a massive pride flag", they tell Metro. "We counted how many seats there are in each row in each block so everyone would get a colour. I have personally done 14,000 of those small instructions with colours. The whole preparation took us three months. Last night our small project team walked around the arena and gave the colours to the audience".

It didn't go off entirely without a hitch though. The pair say that around 5000 pieces of paper they were attempting to hand out where confiscated by security. But that wasn't enough to stop the colourful effect once Styles started singing 'Sweet Creature'.

It's an impressive thing to pull off. Particularly, as the two women claim, they did it entirely without the knowledge of Styles and his team. And unlike Coldplay's glowbands, bits of paper don't cost millions of pounds and then take on a life of their own.

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Spotify buys mechanical rights platform Loudr
Spotify has bought Loudr, a company that has provided various services to DIY artists over the years, but which is of interest to the market-leading streaming platform for what became its primary business, sorting out mechanical licensing. Yeah, that old thing.

In the US, companies providing digital distribution to self-releasing artists have had to worry about mechanical licensing, because when downloads are sold Stateside it's the job of the label to pay any mechanical royalties that are due to songwriters and music publishers.

Whereas in most other places the relevant music publishers and collecting societies have their own deals with the download stores - mainly iTunes - and collect the song right royalties from the digital music platform directly.

As a result DIY distributors in America usually offer their artist clients tools to help with mechanical rights licensing. And in many cases those distributors - including the likes of CD Baby, Distrokid, Zebralution and the new Soundrop - utilise Loudr's mechanical rights licensing platform to do just that.

Spotify, of course, has had its own mechanical right woes. When it comes to streaming, in the US, as elsewhere, it's the digital platform that has to sort out paying mechanical royalties to publishers and songwriters, rather than the label or artist.

Everywhere else there is a collecting society to help with that process, but not in the US, where music publishers forgot to set one up. Hence all the shouting about publishers and songwriters going unpaid by streaming services, and all the multi-million dollar lawsuits.

It's actually hoped that the in development Music Modernization Act will set up a mechanical rights collecting society in the US for the first time, addressing much of this problem. Though Spotify presumably reckons that having extra expertise in house for paying publishers and songwriters can't hurt.

Says Spotify's Global Head Of Publishing: "What Loudr has built is more than just a smart and easy way for artists to obtain mechanical licenses; it's true music industry innovation. The Loudr team perfectly complements Spotify's music publishing operation and, together, we believe we can continue to foster a more open, streamlined, and modern music publishing landscape".

Despite now being part of Spotify and based out of its New York offices, Loudr will still "provide select services to its publishing and aggregator partners", while also contributing to the streaming giant's "continued efforts towards a more transparent and efficient music publishing industry for songwriters and rights holders".

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Music Venue Trust announces regional events
The Music Venue Trust has announced a series of events around the UK aimed at people running grassroots venues, which will precede the organisation's annual Venues Day conference in London.

Announcing the series of regional events, MVT's Beverley Whitrick said: "Opportunities to bring venue reps together are incredibly important to share positive news and discuss challenges and how they can be tackled. All our work is informed by discussion with members of the MVA and not everyone can make it to London for Venues Day".

The events are as follows:

9 May: Night People, Manchester
10 May: Voodoo, Belfast
23 May: Le Public Space, Newport
24 May: Thekla, Bristol
12 Jun: City Hall, London
13 Jun: King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
14 Jun: The Crescent, York

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Vigsy's Club Tip: Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club at Brixton Jamm
This Saturday sees Craig Charles takes his rather good BBC 6 Music show to Brixton with its special blend of funk and soul. It's all happening at the Jamm venue, which seems like a great place to hold this kind if shindig.

As well as a headline DJ set from Charles himself, there'll also be DJing stints from X-Ray Ted, DJ Binge, Sir Funk and DJ Cheeba. As well as that, Uncle Frank will be turning in a live set.

Get in quick, tickets selling fast.

Saturday 14 Apr, Brixton Jamm, 261 Brixton Road, London, SW9 6LH, 10pm-4am, £15.50. More info here.

Wilko Johnson announces first album of new material for 30 years
Wilko Johnson has announced his first album of new material in 30 years, 'Going Back Home'. An impressive feat not least because he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given just months to live back in 2012.

"Man, there's nothing like being told you're dying to make you feel alive", says Johnson, who outlived predictions of his death before undergoing a lifesaving new form of surgery in 2014. "It's tricky when you get to 70 years old, because what am I supposed to be singing? 'I love you, baby, but you done me wrong?' Come on! That's kind of a problem. But I never thought that I'd be the sort of person to write songs about different sorts of real life experiences until I got sick".

The album's producer, Dave Eringa, adds: "I never expected to be making another Wilko Johnson album after [2014 Roger Daltrey collaboration] 'Going Back Home' but what a pleasure and a privilege it was to be able to capture Wilko's first new songs for 30 years! He is one of music's true gentleman - literate, intelligent, and articulate but still rock n roll as fuck!"

'Blow Your Mind' is set for release on 15 Jun.

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The xx announce Night + Day Bilbao
Ahead of their headline set at the BBK Live festival in Bilbao this summer, The xx will present the latest iteration of their Night + Day residency, which will take place around the Spanish city in the week running up to said event. They will curate shows from 6-11 Jul, before performing at the festival on 13 Jul.

Like their 2016 Night + Day event in Brixton, there will be a range of activities, including live performances, after-parties, film screenings and radio collaborations. On 11 Jul, Jamie XX will headline a mini-festival at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which will also feature a range of acts picked by The xx across two stages.

"We are THRILLED to bring Night + Day to Bilbao this summer", say the band. "We are planning a whole week of events and activities around it that we are excited to announce soon. To kick it off we are throwing a party at Museo Guggenheim Bilbao with Jamie and some of our DJs and bands. It is such an incredible museum, we couldn't dream a better location".

More info here.

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Iron Maiden, Zayn Malik, Nicki Minaj, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• You can now get a daily CMU news summary via our Messenger bot. Click here to get started.

• What better time than April to start talking about Halloween? Iron Maiden have announced a new range of masks to wear while you're out trick or treating this year.

• Zayn Malik has released new single 'Let Me', from his forthcoming second album.

• Nicki Minaj has released two new tracks, 'Barbie Tingz' and 'Chun-Li'.

• Nicki Minaj also features on new Young Thug track 'Anybody', which opens his new EP 'Hear No Evil'.

• Florence And The Machine are back with a new single, 'Sky Full Of Song'. The track is being released for Record Store Day next week.

• Kid Cudi has released new track 'The Rage', which samples Smashing Pumpkins' 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'. The track is taken from the soundtrack of new movie 'The Rampage'.

• Five Seconds Of Summer have released the title track of their upcoming new album 'Youngblood'.

• Snow Patrol have released new single 'Life On Earth'.

• Laura Marling and Tunng's Mike Lindsay have announced a new collaboration under the name Lump. They'll release an album on 1 Jun. Before that, they've put out new single 'Curse Of The Contemporary'.

• The magnificent Princess Nokia has released a new mixtape, 'A Girl Cried Red'. Check it out here.

• Alela Diane has released the video for new single 'Moves Us Blind'.

• Cherry Glazerr are back with new single 'Juicy Socks'. The band are currently recording the follow-up to last year's brilliant 'Apocalipstick' album.

• AlaskaAlaska are back with new single 'Maneater'. "I was thinking about how frustrating it is to be categorised or stereotyped", says bandleader Lucinda John-Duarte of the inspiration for the song. "We're always in competition with each other or ourselves, trying to sell ourselves like meat and hiding parts of our being in the process".

• Ghost have released new single 'Rats'. Their new album, 'Prequelle', is due out on 1 Jun.

• 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 #399: Elton John v The Kids
Look, Elton John realises that pop is a young person's game. But he also wishes that pop radio stations would be a little less ageist and play a few of his songs too. Because he still writes proper songs. Unlike all those bloody kids they have scuttling around these days.

Speaking to Nihal Arthanayake on BBC Radio 5 Live's 'Headliners' podcast, John says that - while he recognises that "it's someone else's turn now" - it is nevertheless "frustrating" when radio ignores his new tunes, because "you do want your music to get heard [and] there's not much output" for it anymore.

He then references his 2010 record with the then 68 year old singer-songwriter Leon Russell. Not one pop station played any tracks off it, he says, because pop radio stations are "very ageist". This, he adds, is why he's now got a load of younger artists to record contemporary pop and country versions of his songs for two new compilations.

"One of the reasons we did 'Revamp' and 'Restoration' is to get our songs out there to [younger] people that don't know our songs", he says. "So they might want to go back and investigate the fact that we made a record [in the past]".

If you've heard the first single from 'Revamp' - Q-Tip and Demi Lovato's version of Don't Go Breaking My Heart' - the only thing you're likely to investigate is the inside of the nearest cushion to work out how much of it you can stuff into your ears. It is not a good advert for anyone's back catalogue - John's or their own.

But maybe I'm saying that because I'm too old to understand the nuances of modern music. Or perhaps I'm too young to know a good song when I hear one.

Certainly John doesn't think these young folks are putting out anything of much worth music wise these days. "I just wish people would write better songs", he says. "When you listen to even the cheesiest songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s - they're songs. There are a lot of songs in the charts I can't sing, it's just a beat".

Ah, the old 'it's just a racket and you can't even hum the tune' argument. A position that has delighted young people - and definitely made them want to hear more about the music of older generations - since time began.

One issue, John says, is that modern pop songs have lots of different writers, which means "you lose the soul and also the skill of writing a song".

Those modern songs are still very popular though, so does that argument actually stand up? Plus, I think you can find lots of examples of music from the 50s, 60s and 70s, where, if you strip it right back, there's very little going on underneath.

All this chatter reminds me of an episode of the 'Sound Opinions' podcast from back in 2006 where producer Jon Brion, who's worked with everyone from Fiona Apple to Kanye West, breaks pop throughout history down into "songs" and "performance pieces".

"What most people like are specific performances [because] we've grown up in an era of recordings. Recording has killed people's ability to hear songs just as chord change, melody and lyric. It's a very strange and beautiful artform, because when it's right, boy do you know it".

To illustrate his distinction between songs and performances, he uses the work of Led Zeppelin. "I'm a big fan ... [but] I don't consider most of those [Led Zeppelin recordings] songs. And the way I can prove my point is, have you ever listened to someone else play a Led Zeppelin song and thought, 'Oh, that was a great satisfying experience'?"

He then turns to a piano and plays a familiar melody that is neither great nor satisfying, pointing out that what people like are not Led Zeppelin songs but the sound of Led Zeppelin playing them.

So maybe the trend that John is talking about here is a trend in which pop has increasingly become about "performance pieces" rather than "songs". Though by linking them to Brion's insights I've just given John's moans more credence, which wasn't my plan when sitting down to write this beef. But still, I think about the Jon Brion interview all the time, so it's good to have an excuse to listen to it again.

Anyway, even if there are fewer 'songs' in the charts these days, maybe that doesn't matter. I guess it depends what you consider music to be. At its heart, I'd argue that music is a sound or collection of sounds designed to illicit a response.

For example, here's a piece of music I love and find quite moving, 'Vibrators' by Barbed. What even is it? Same goes for someone like Brian Eno. It took me years to find out the name of 'An Ending (Ascent)', because you can't saying to someone, "What's the tracks that goes 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEeEeeeEEeeeeeeaaaaaaAAaAaAeaaeaeaeaEAAEeeee?"

Breaking away from the idea that music has to be something specifically defined frees the artform up to become more things - to find new ways to trigger different responses in listeners. Yes, songs are quite a good way of doing that. But they are not the only way. And, anyway, the modern pop song is a fairly recent invention in the wider scheme of things too.

Sure, the multi-writer song-camp-constructed pop songs of today can sometimes seem cynical. But surely there's always been a certain cynicism in pop?

I mean, when Max C Freeman wrote 'Rock Around The Clock' at nearly 50 years old, I'm not sure it was because he felt an uncontrollable desire to tell the world about his love of 24 hour rocking. It was designed to get a newly identified market of young consumers out of their seats dancing. Which is exactly what pop music should do. Does it need to do that with a clear melodic progression? Nope.

Right now, we're seeing the continued resurgence of grime, which I'd argue is at its most creatively appealing the further away from traditional song structure it gets.

Elton John would not agree with me, though, preferring Stormzy - say - when a more traditional structure is employed. He goes on: "Someone like Stormzy can actually [write a song] with 'Blinded By Your Grace Part 2' and he sings and it's so beautiful. He's got it all. He's got the ability to do the grime and stuff like that, but he's also got the ability to use his voice and do something really beautiful. That's what I love".

Perhaps I'm being unfair to John, though. Let the old man have a moan about all the songs on the radio. After all, he still has a long history of supporting younger artists, and those artist's own musical approaches. I mean, his company actively worked with Ed Sheeran, who I don't think anyone could argue is known for writing finely constructed songs.

Besides, "it doesn't bother me", John continues about all the rubbish pop music that's around these days, even if you listen to that instead of his new stuff. "In the sense that I've had my time in the sun", he goes on. After "the most amazingly lucky career", it no longer matters if anyone wants to hear what he has to offer. "Time will move on. That's the way music has to be and it's always been like that".

Too right. Elton John, of course, is retiring, so to allow music to move on as it has to be and always has been. Though, not before he heads out on a three year farewell tour. A lengthy trek around major venues worldwide which does somewhat derail the argument that he can't find people who want to listen to his music anymore.

Another thing the farewell tour disproves is that he's happy to pass on the music making baton to a younger generation and slip away quietly. One of the reasons for the length of the tour - other than the sheer number of people around the world who'll want to say goodbye - is to allow lots of data to be gathered in order to create a virtual Elton John.

This is a story that seems to have got slightly lost in the farewell tour news. Elton John the human may be retiring, but it's hoped that a new "post-biological" Elton John can replace him, utilising all that data.

Speaking to Wired earlier this year, the CEO of a company called Spinflex, Ben Casey, revealed plans to use the tour to record John's movements, speech and behaviour on stage, to form part of a data set that will allow John to live on long beyond the 300 shows. Work on this has already begun, capturing elements of his performance, such as finger movements, resulting in an augmented reality 1970s Elton John performing at Kings Cross Station in London in January.

But using this technology to simply create yet another hologram artist to go on tour isn't the main aim. Ultimately, Spinflex hopes that by using artificial intelligence and analysis of his songwriting style, this virtual Elton will also be able to write new songs.

"The cognitive Elton can be part of the creation of new music into the future", says Casey. "From this point onwards there are endless opportunities for Elton to find ways to outthink the limits of time and geography. I want to be able to have a conversation with Elton John at a piano in his physical form".

With a virtual reality, artificially intelligent, still song-writing, still performing eternal Elton John in the pipeline, just think, that means, your great-great-grandchildren might also be able to enjoy the experience of having John lecture them on what pop should sound like.

Though by then machines will be writing all the pop music anyway, so I'm not really sure what the point will be. Except, perhaps, to provide an article's worth of data for the beef writing machine which is due to take over this column in 2021.

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