FRIDAY 23 NOVEMBER 2018 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Pressure continues to pile upon the always controversial secondary ticketing site Viagogo, this time through a court ruling in Hamburg in relation to a Rammstein tour... [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.
   
CMU TRENDS GUIDE TO MUSIC MARKETING
This five part guide provides an overview of how new artists go about building a fanbase and the basics of label-led album marketing campaigns. Keep track of the sections published so far online and look out for additional chapters going live very soon. [READ MORE]
   
CMU TRENDS GUIDE TO MUSIC RIGHTS
This three part CMU Trends guide provides a beginner's guide to music copyright and the music rights business. In it, we cover ownership, controls and licensing, and review key trends in streaming, physical, sync and public performance. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES German court orders Viagogo to stop selling Rammstein tickets
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LEGAL New lawsuit could again test Cloudflare's copyright liabilities
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LIVE BUSINESS Live Nation appeals new restrictions council has placed on Wireless festival
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MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Northern Irish organisations sign up to support PRS Foundation programmes
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ARTIST NEWS Threatin bassist speaks
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Plans for Hi, How Are You Day 2019 announced, as Daniel Johnston releases 35th anniversary vinyl
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ONE LINERS Dave Grohl, The Streets, The Prodigy, more
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AND FINALLY... The Week: Biffy Clyro v Nick Knowles
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CMU Insights is our training and consultancy business providing training courses, conference sessions and research reports for music companies.
   
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN MUSIC RIGHTS MASTERCLASS
Wednesday 12 Dec 2018, 2.00-5.30pm
This half day masterclass provides a concise and user-friendly overview of all the key developments that have occured in music copyright in the last twelve months. [READ MORE]
   
DISSECTING THE DIGITAL DOLLAR MASTERCLASS
Wednesday 16 Jan 2018, 2.00-5.30pm
This half day masterclass provides a comprehensive overview of the streaming business, how digital services are licensed, and the key issues with the current model. [READ MORE]
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 9060.
   
DISPERSION PR - SENIOR PUBLICIST (LONDON)
Dispersion PR provides publicity and marketing services within the electronic music and events fields and is seeking an experienced, full time Senior Publicist based out of our SW London office.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
COOKING VINYL - PRODUCT & MARKETING ASSISTANT (LONDON)
Cooking Vinyl is looking for a Product and Marketing Assistant to join our London office. You will work closely to assist the company’s Product & Marketing Managers as well as the Production Manager to effectively plan releases and implement project roll-out plans, meeting all necessary deadlines.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
SENTRIC MUSIC - SYNCHRONISATION EXECUTIVE (LIVERPOOL)
Sentric Music is looking for a Synchronisation Executive to join its Music Services Team. Based in the creative area of the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool, the Synchronisation Executive will be part of our growing Sync Team consisting of fifteen creatives in the UK and US.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
SJM CONCERTS - VIP ASSISTANT (MANCHESTER)
The successful applicant for the role of VIP Assistant will be an organised, enthusiastic and hard-working individual. Working as an assistant to the VIP Manager within our VIP department you would be responsible for the day to day administration of our exclusive VIP packages, as well as providing general office admin support.

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NINJA TUNE - SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER (LONDON)
Ninja Tune is looking for an experienced product manager working across our main imprints Ninja Tune and Counter Records. You will manage record release campaigns from beginning to end working closely with the A&R, production, marketing, digital, social media and international teams.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
NAME PR - PRESS ASSISTANT (LONDON)
Name PR is hiring for an enthusiastic press assistant. The successful candidate with have six months relevant experience and excellent attention to detail.

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WARP RECORDS - LICENSING CO-ORDINATOR (LONDON)
Warp Records is looking for a Licensing Co-ordinator to join the Sync Licensing team. The full-time position will be a key support role to the licensing team overseeing all aspects of the administration of the department.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
LOCOMOTION ENTERTAINMENT - PAID INTERNSHIP (LONDON)
Locomotion is looking for an intern for our growing management, music publishing company and label based in London and New York. The supporting role forms a key part of our team and would suit a self-motivated, forward thinking and hard-working individual who wants to excel in the music industry.

For more information and to apply click here.

German court orders Viagogo to stop selling Rammstein tickets
Pressure continues to pile upon the always controversial secondary ticketing site Viagogo, this time through a court ruling in Hamburg in relation to a Rammstein tour.

According to IQ, the band have secured an injunction that forbids Viagogo from allowing tickets for their 2019 German tour from being sold on its platform. The court order also bans the resale site from asserting that any tickets sold on the site for the upcoming Rammstein shows are "valid".

Promoters employing proactive anti-touting campaigns around their tours have become increasingly vocal of late about their intent to cancel any tickets that they know have been resold by a tout. The terms and conditions of tickets usually allow promoters to do this. The hope is always that - by getting the word out about this plan - fans will steer clear of the tout sites when seeking tickets for shows.

By implementing policies of this kind, some promoters have managed to persuade eBay's StubHub and - while they were still in business - Live Nation's Seatwave and Get Me In! to block the listing of touted tickets for certain tours. The logic being that, because the resale sites offer a money-back guarantee where tickets don't get a customer into a show, it's in their interest to block listings, otherwise they'll just have to issue a load of refunds.

Needless to say, Viagogo has never agreed to block listings on this basis. Whenever promoters shout loud about their plan to cancel touted tickets, Viagogo insists that all the tickets on its platform are nevertheless "valid", and gets rather annoyed when promoters say otherwise.

Of course, that depends to an extent on your definition of "valid". Viagogo argues that promoters often don't actually cancel very many touted tickets even when they say they will, partly because it can be hard to work out which tickets have actually been resold (although in theory, in the UK at least, consumer rights law should make it easier to spot tickets that have been sold on).

Because some or many touted tickets haven't actually been cancelled, Viagogo argues those tickets are still "valid". Though under the terms and conditions of most tickets, the minute a resale occurs that ticket becomes "invalid" legally speaking, even if it hasn't actually been cancelled and would therefore still get a customer into a show. These differing definitions of "valid" and "invalid" are part of Viagogo's dispute with Ed Sheeran's UK promoter Kilimanjaro Live over its very prolific anti-touting campaign.

Either way, Viagogo won't voluntarily delist tickets from its platform at the request of promoters. Which is why it's interesting that Rammstein and their promoter MCT Agentur have been able to secure an injunction ordering the controversial site to fall in line. Not that it has. Plenty of tickets for Rammstein's 2019 German shows are still on sale on Viagogo.de.

Nevertheless, legal reps for the band have welcomed the ruling, telling reporters that "the court's decision is a warning signal to anyone who thinks they can resell massively overpriced and invalid Rammstein tickets".

Viagogo, of course, is facing legal action in multiple countries over allegations it routinely misleads customers into thinking they are buying tickets from official agents, rather than touted tickets that might be cancelled. In the UK, Australia and New Zealand that legal action is being pursued by government agencies, while in Germany the country's live music trade organisation has been threatening to go legal.

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New lawsuit could again test Cloudflare's copyright liabilities
Internet services company Cloudflare is on the receiving end of another lawsuit accusing it of contributory copyright infringement, which could again test the liabilities of the net firm when it provides services to piracy websites.

The music industry, especially in the US, has been critical of Cloudflare in recent years for providing various services to websites that music rights owners accuse of infringing their copyrights. In one submission to a US government report on piracy, the Recording Industry Association Of America stated that: "[Piracy] sites are increasingly turning to Cloudflare, because routing their site through Cloudflare obfuscates the IP address of the actual hosting provider, masking the location of the site".

For its part, Cloudflare has always insisted that it can't be tasked with policing the internet, and that it can't disconnect customers because of accusations of infringement from any one copyright owner. To that end the internet company's position has generally been that it can only take action against an allegedly infringing customer when a court orders it to do so.

Cloudflare's exact liabilities under US copyright law are of debate. Although the RIAA did have one legal run in with the company over it providing services to the now defunct piracy site MP3Skull, the main case that aimed to test those liabilities was launched by a porn company called ALS Scan. But that case was then settled out of court in June.

The new case testing Cloudflare's liabilities also comes from outside the music industry and involves wedding dresses of all things. Wedding dress makers Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs are suing the net firm for contributory infringement because it allegedly provides services to websites based out of China that sell knock offs of the two companies' bridal wear to customers back in the US.

Now, there is an added complication in this case, in that copyright doesn't generally protect fashion design. There are a handful of exceptions to that general rule in the US, though quite what can and cannot be protected is debatable and complicated. Presumably aware of that fact, the two bridal companies note in some detail that these websites selling knock offs of their dresses have also nicked official promotional photos used by the plaintiffs on their own websites. Photos definitely are protected by copyright.

These photos, by the way, are damn important. "The photographic images of plaintiffs' dress designs are the lifeblood of plaintiff's advertising and marketing of their dress designs to the consuming public", says the lawsuit. Hundreds of thousands are invested each year "in the development of sophisticated marketing campaigns which involve the engagement of models and photographers and the coordination of expensive photoshoots to capture the appropriate 'look' of the campaign for a particular line of dresses".

But we're not really interested in how wedding dress companies go about trying to protect their products under copyright law. The issue here is what liabilities, if any, Cloudflare have for providing services to these knock-off bridal wear websites.

"Cloudflare's service allows counterfeit sites and their hosts to conceal their identity from copyright owners", the lawsuit goes on. "When presented with a notice of infringement, Cloudflare asserts that it is itself unable or unwilling to remove any infringing content, that it is merely a 'pass-through security service' and not a hosting provider, and that the copyright owner must contact its customer to seek removal of the infringing content. In this fashion, Cloudflare shields pirate sites and their hosts from legal recourse by copyright owners".

The plaintiffs add that it is more or less impossible to identify the location of the people actually operating the infringing websites - in no small part because of Cloudflare's so called reverse proxy services - and, anyway, given it seems most are based in China, it would be tricky for the bridal companies to enforce their rights there.

The lawsuit then adds that the plaintiff's agents have issued thousands of takedown notices under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act against Cloudflare and that these have not been responded to. "Cloudflare has ignored these notices and/or failed to take the appropriate action required by law in response to these notices", the lawsuit claims, "[and instead it] has persisted in offering ... services to pirate websites".

There isn't really anything in the new lawsuit that hasn't been argued in past cases, and Cloudflare will almost certainly counter that it can't remove specific content from its clients' websites and that it won't kick any one client off its platform entirely without a court injunction instructing it to do so.

Copyright owners at large still reckon that Cloudflare could and should do more to help hinder infringers. Especially when said infringers are based outside the rights owner's home country, but are making content available or selling products in that country. If any of these cases involving Cloudflare ever get to court, we might get some judicial insight as to what the net firm's liabilities actually are in this domain.

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Live Nation appeals new restrictions council has placed on Wireless festival
You might think that Live Nation would have been pleased to be granted a licence for its Wireless festival to take place in North London's Finsbury Park next summer. After all, some locals were calling for the licence not to be issued at all or for the event's capacity to be significantly cut back. But the live giant says that, while it got its licence for the capacity it wanted, some of the conditions in that licence are unworkable.

There has been opposition to Wireless from some local community groups ever since the Live Nation event - which has morphed into a celebration of urban music in recent years - was relocated into Finsbury Park. The community group Friends Of Finsbury Park have done a good job in organising that opposition and putting pressure on the local council to put new restrictions on the festival.

Among other things, locals have complained about noise levels, general disruption, unruly behaviour by festival-goers on the way to and from the event, local streets being used as toilets and drugs being bought and sold around the park. Although it's Haringey Council that issues the licence, the park also borders onto the Islington and Hackney boroughs, and councillors there have also expressed some concerns.

Despite that opposition, Live Nation last month got its licence from Haringey Council to stage Wireless 2019 in Finsbury Park. However, the new licence came with some new terms. That included the amusing conditions regarding swearing and the exposure of "female breasts" on-stage, but also some more practical new rules regarding noise levels and curfew.

It's the latter that Live Nation now says are unworkable. It has submitted an appeal over the council's decision to Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court. In it, according to the Islington Gazette, the live music company says of the new noise restrictions: "Wireless festival is unlikely to be commercially viable or practically feasible with such bass levels or with such sound levels on the adjoining Seven Sisters Road".

It goes on: "Headline artists will be deterred from appearing and the enjoyment of the audience will be materially diminished, to the extent that extensive audience complaints about low sound levels will be received, there will be an adverse response on social media and the worldwide reputation will be affected".

As for the new 9.30pm closing time the licence forces, Live Nation's appeal goes on: "It will be seriously damaging to the commerciality and attractiveness of the event. Headline artists of international repute will not be interested in finishing their performance at 9.30pm before it is even dark enough for an effective light show as part of the climax the act. The audience will complain about early closing and the reputation of the event and the premises licence holder will suffer".

Needless to say, Friends Of Finsbury Park are critical of Live Nation's appeal, telling the Gazette: "We are dismayed that big business in the form of Live Nation has decided to attempt to overturn the decision of democratically elected councillors who heard evidence from local residents and councillors from three boroughs over the course of two evenings at Haringey Town Hall, and were evidently persuaded that Live Nation has been causing a public nuisance. Haringey Council must now defend the decision by the [licensing sub-committee] to impose new conditions on the licence".

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Northern Irish organisations sign up to support PRS Foundation programmes
The PRS Foundation has announced a new partnership with the Arts Council Of Northern Ireland and Invest NI, both of which will support the music funding organisation's Momentum Music Fund and International Showcase Fund. It means that artists based in Northern Ireland will be eligible to apply to both these initiatives for funding.

The Momentum fund was originally initiated by Arts Council England and run by the PRS Foundation to support development projects for artists who were looking to take their career to the next level. This meant the fund was focused on artists based in England.

Subsequent support from the arts councils in Wales, Scotland and now Northern Ireland have expanded the scheme's reach. ACE is actually no longer involved, though artists across the UK are still eligible thanks to music industry support from PRS, PPL and Spotify.

The International Showcase Fund offers grants of up to £5000 for artists looking to expand globally via international showcase festivals like SXSW, WOMEX, Folk Alliance, Classical:NEXT, Eurosonic, Reeperbahn, JazzAhead and Canadian Music Week.

Confirming its support for the PRS Foundation initiatives, Ciaran Scullion - Head Of Music at Arts Council Of Northern Ireland - said: "The Arts Council Of Northern Ireland is proud to partner with PRS Foundation and Invest NI in these important initiatives which enable our artists to take that all important next step in the development of their professional musical careers".

He went on: "The Arts Council is committed to providing valuable, meaningful opportunities for our artists to develop and these funding programmes offer artists not only the opportunity to connect with the UK-wide industry, but also to showcase the tremendous talent that is inherent to Northern Ireland on an international stage. Both funding programmes have seen huge success in other parts of the UK and we are THRILLED to be able to offer these exciting opportunities now to artists here".

PRS Foundation boss Vanessa Reed added: "We're delighted to announce this new partnership with Arts Council Of Northern Ireland which will extend our vital career development and international showcasing opportunities to the talented music creators in Northern Ireland".

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Vigsy's Club Tip: Purple at 512
Purple is back in East London tomorrow night at 512, with the promise of "an absolute belter of a line-up, immersive decor, performers, live visuals and the loveliest of crowds". Well, I like all of those things, and it's all for charity too, so it easily takes this week's tip slot.

On that line-up, Charge Recording's label boss Mampi Swift will head things up. He's been leading the way in drum n bass over the last few years, so is a great pick for headline. He's joined by producer Lurch, Junyis, Autom, Elementum, Dan de'Lion and Mulligan B.

Should be a good one and don't forget this is a charity night, raising funds for Help Musicians UK.

Saturday 24 Nov, 512 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London, E8 4AE, 10pm-6am, £7. More info here.

Threatin bassist speaks
In all the fallout from the whole Threatin saga last week, there was one voice noticeably absent, that of bassist Gavin Carney. However, he has now issued a statement that provides a different perspective on the story.

The UK tour of American band Threatin recently collapsed, of course, after it emerged that - far from the near sold out shows venues were expecting - the band had actually sold no tickets at all. It turned out that venues had been lied to about the levels of direct-to-fan ticket sales, while the band's online following seemed to be entirely fabricated - as did their management company, record label and promoter.

It emerged that the band was in fact a solo project for musician Jered Eames, and his bandmates were session players hired for the tour. While guitarist Joe Prunera and drummer Dane Davis immediately pulled out of the venture, upon learning the story of why they'd been playing to empty rooms, Carney stayed on.

Now back in the US, the bassist has spoken about his experience. Like his fellow session musicians, he remains somewhat in the dark about what actually happened. However, unlike Prunera and Davis, he actually casts some doubt of the 'fakeness' of the tour and Eames' whole operation. He also reveals that, after the tour was cancelled, he continued to travel with Eames and his wife Kelsey, only returning home ahead of schedule when his family became concerned about his wellbeing.

"Do I feel conned by Jered?" he says in the video. "Not necessarily. I have no reason to believe he's responsible for ticket sales or the amount of audience we get. However, I don't have any evidence to prove he isn't. I never physically met management, or people in charge of marketing or venues and all that. I never met any of those people. Although it always felt like there were people overseeing everything - they made calls to management and stuff, it seemed legit - but I never met any of those people".

"I never felt uncomfortable or anything being around Jered and his wife", he adds later. "There were a few uncomfortable moments when everyone started receiving the news about all this on the internet. And when I told them I was leaving early. But there was a mutual understanding of our situations, it was never too awkward, it was very professional".

"My impression of Jered [is that] he's a very good musician, a very talented person", he goes on. "So I can't imagine why he would need to fake his way through anything. He has the skills and talent not to have to do that, I would think".

Then expressing further doubt the Eames was at fault, he says: "He's also recently had some physical ailments that have made it painful for him to do even basic things. So the fact that he went on tour with that doesn't seem like something someone with a con artist mentality would do".

He finishes by saying that he would "work with [Eames] again, no problem", although if what has been reported about the tour does turn out to be true, he would be "very distraught and disappointed". But even if that does happen, like Prunera and Davis, Carney says that the tour was great experience for him and he was pleased that it allowed him to travel to Europe all expenses paid.

Watch Carney's full statement here.

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Plans for Hi, How Are You Day 2019 announced, as Daniel Johnston releases 35th anniversary vinyl
The Flaming Lips are set to headline an event that celebrates the release back in 1983 of Daniel Johnston's debut album, 'Hi, How Are You'. The performance in Austin, Texas will be part of a series of celebrations around the world in January.

'Hi, How Are You Day' was first staged earlier this year to mark the 35th anniversary of the album. Also held in Austin, it was "a celebration of music, art and mental wellness", and featured live music performances and an art exhibition of work by various artists, including Johnston himself. The second edition of 'Hi, How Are You Day', taking place on 22 Jan next year, aims to feature other events elsewhere in the world, with stuff happening in Limerick in Ireland and Auckland in New Zealand already announced.

Back in Austin, as well as The Flaming Lips, the second edition will also feature Black Angels and Built To Spill who will play lo-fi performances, in keeping with Johnston's own style. Those who cannot attend are invited to share messages and performances in video form through the event's website, which will be shared online.

As well as all this, Johnston has today released a 35th anniversary vinyl set featuring 'Hi, How Are You' and also his 'Yip/Jump Music' album, which was originally released at the same time.

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Dave Grohl, The Streets, The Prodigy, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• The director of documentary 'Salad Days: A Decade Of Punk', about the 1980s punk scene in Washington DC, has shared a track from the soundtrack by Mission Impossible. Recorded in 1985, it features Probot frontman Dave Grohl on the drums.

• Mike Skinner is back with a new Streets single, 'Call Me In The Morning', featuring Chip and Grim Sickers. An album is apparently on the way too, and he's working on a feature film, not to mention the tour dates lined up for January and February.

• The Prodigy have released 'Timebomb Zone' from new album 'No Tourists'. They're also giving away the stems of the track so that you or a friend can remix it.

• Tommy Cash is set to release his Danny L Harle produced debut album, '¥E$', next week. Here's new single 'X-Ray'.

• Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert have released another track from their upcoming Christmas album 'Ghost Stories For Christmas'. Here's sort of title track 'A Ghost Story For Christmas'.

• Kirkis has released the video for 'Dark Room' from his new album, 'Kirkis2'.

• Sega Bodega has announced that he will play Hoxton Hall in London on 7 Feb. Tickets are on sale right now.

• Peter, Bjorn And John will play a few shows over this way in March, following the recent release of new album 'Darker Days'. They'll hit The Garage in London on 5 Mar, Academy 3 in Manchester on 6 Mar and Whelans in Dublin on 7 Mar.

• 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: Biffy Clyro v Nick Knowles
Biffy Clyro have finally spoken publicly about their connection with Nick Knowles. Specifically the story that the TV personality's music career was launched after he jammed with the band on a rooftop in Soho. "He's been a bit fast and loose with the truth there", says the band's drummer James Johnston.

You may remember that this story first emerged while Knowles was promoting his debut album, 'Every Kind Of People', last year. And now it's popped up again because he's been repeating it on 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here', which currently has him camped out in the jungle.

Discussing how he came to land his record deal, he told his fellow contestants: "I was playing on a rooftop bar in Soho with some other bands. Somebody from a record company saw me doing it and I got a phone call saying, 'I'm from Universal, want to do an album?' It's probably best not to say who [the 'other bands'] are because it would be embarrassing for them more than anything else. Actually, they won't mind, they're nice lads: it was Biffy Clyro".

Biffy Clyro then seemingly confirmed both that Knowles's story was true and that they don't mind who knows about it, by tweeting the rather long hashtag #BiffyClyro-NotEmbarrassedTheyJammedWithNickKnowles.

But Twitter is no place for nuance. As we know, the best place for nuance is Greg James's show on Radio 1, which is where the Biffy Clyro drummer found himself this week. Deftly interrogated by James, Johnston gave the band's side of the story.

"He's been a bit fast and loose with the truth there", Johnston said. "It was after an awards ceremony. We came back to this hotel in Soho and we'd been informed that Nick Knowles had bought us a bottle of champagne to celebrate on the roof. He was lovely, we had a drink and we left and there might have been a guitar there".

So, he's not definitely saying that they didn't play a few songs together, but perhaps it wasn't quite the full scale impromptu gig that Knowles has described. "He was a nice guy! I'm not gonna say anything bad about him, Mr Nick Knowles, he was lovely", Johnston went on.

"But I don't think [it was] quite the 'Kum Ba Yah' situation that everyone might have in their heads. I'm really sorry to shatter the illusion that we had a proper heavy jam with Nick Knowles, because that did not happen I'm afraid. It's a half truth. We were in the same rooftop bar at the same time and he was very nice".

"We were in the same rooftop bar at the same time" isn't quite as exciting a story though, is it? Where's the exhilaration? Where's the intrigue? And what's the actual truth? Was the whole "I jammed with some bands" claim basically made up by Knowles for the purposes of entertainment and self-aggrandising? Surely not.

If this column were a court of law - and one day I hope all my lobbying will pay off and it will be - then one of the things the lawyers might do to identify the truth here is compare the different versions of this story that the defendant - that's Knowles in this fictional courtroom - has told over time. Because inconsistencies in those different tellings might suggest guilt.

Luckily for fans of courtroom drama, you may remember that I already said that this wasn't the first time we'd heard this story from the man himself. We actually heard it on two different occasions a year ago and then there's this new telling. Which means we can analyse three version in detail and look for any guilt-suggesting inconsistencies. So let's do that right now.

Here's what Knowles said in a video posted on his YouTube channel on 11 Oct 2017: "Well, the album came about because an A&R man had seen me on a rooftop singing and playing a session with Biffy Clyro one night, until the early hours of the morning".

Now let's replay the new testimony from this week: "I was playing on a rooftop bar in Soho with some other bands. Somebody from a record company saw me doing it and I got a phone call saying, 'I'm from Universal, want to do an album?' It's probably best not to say who [the 'other bands'] are because it would be embarrassing for them more than anything else. Actually, they won't mind, they're nice lads: it was Biffy Clyro".

Right, so, these "other bands" are new, although when you dig deeper, it seems that in the newer telling Knowles is just referring to Biffy Clyro in the plural for some reason. Meanwhile the "A&R man" has become "someone from a record company" - although it's possible that he was just dumbing the story down and removing all the super technical jargon for his non-music industry savvy audience in the jungle.

In an interview with Heart in September 2017, discussing his long love of playing music, Knowles also said: "When I'm away filming with the BBC, lots of the crew play guitars and we sing when we are in hotel rooms. I even found myself on the rooftop of a Soho hotel with Biffy Clyro after the NME Awards and ended up playing songs until five o'clock in the morning".

So there's the rooftop bar and the awards ceremony that Johnston mentioned. And, OK, he starts out "playing songs" in the Heart interview, before describing it as a "session" in the promo video, and then implying it was a full-scale gig on 'I'm A Celebrity'. But he never fully defines what happened in any of the different versions, leaving us to fill in the gaps. Therefore, I don't think we can take these slight inconsistencies as proof he's lying.

Conversely, Johnston admits that he had been drinking when he met Knowles and can't even remember if there was a guitar present or not. So maybe that explains why he remembers the moment a little differently. All in all, it's starting to feel like it's about time Biffy Clyro took full credit for Knowles's entry into the music business. Just as they should with Matt Cardle.

So I think it's "case closed"? Except, what's that? You've found another hole in Knowles's story? You're wondering who the hell this "someone from a record company" might be. Who saw the DIY TV bloke jamming with some rock stars and decided to sign him to a big fat record deal with the biggest record company of them all, Universal Music?

That's a good spot. Because we might have been meant to assume that this record company employee was someone hanging out with Biffy Clyro. Their A&R contact at their label maybe.

Except, if you happen to know a little bit about the music industry, which I'm kind of thinking you probably should, you might be thinking, "Wait a minute! Biffy Clyro are signed to Warner Music imprint 14th Floor. Why would they be hanging out with a Universal A&R man?"

Good question, my astute friend. Very good question. And actually, it's one that I can answer. They weren't. Because I can tell you a bit more about this record company employee. Remember that YouTube video from October 2017? Well, in it, Knowles told us a little more about the A&R man who spotted his musical talents during the impromptu Biffy jam.

"The A&R man", he explains, "who was a friend of mine, had seen [me play] on many occasions and at family parties and said to me, 'Why don't you do an album'?"

Hey, hang on there for a moment. The record company employee already knew Knowles! He was a friend. A close friend. Someone so close to the TV presenter as to be invited to family parties. Someone - I put it to you - much more likely to be attending that rooftop bar in the company of Knowles than Biffy Clyro.

This was no simple case of Knowles's hidden talent being discovered by luck, prompting the offer of a major label record deal. The person who offered him this deal was already aware that Knowles likes to grab a guitar and knock out a few tunes from time to time.

And if you think that's opened up a hole in Knowles's story, brace yourself for an even bigger revelation. Because whilst under interrogation from Greg James, Johnston also let slip that the band's encounter with Knowles was "more like eight years ago". Eight years! That's 2010!

Records show that that was the year the band won the NME Award for Best Music Video for their song 'The Captain', corroborating that they would have been in attendance at the awards ceremony in February that year, after which they might have jammed on a rooftop.

Actually, now I think about it, I was at the NME Awards that year. And I'm pretty sure I didn't meet Nick Knowles on a rooftop. Though, if I'm being honest, I also don't remember seeing Biffy Clyro pick up any award. In fact, I remember very little of that night at all. Except, weirdly, that I did meet Jay from 'The Inbetweeners' at a cashpoint after the show. But I'll admit, my witness testimony isn't very reliable here.

Hang on for a minute though. This detective work throws a few spanners into the works. For one thing, can we really believe that Nick Knowles sat playing guitar in rooftop bar until 5am in the middle of February? His hands would surely be too cold to play guitar, or rendered useless by thick gloves. At the very least, this calls his perception of time strongly into question. And that's not the half of it.

Are we really expected to believe that Nick Knowles met Biffy Clyro and joined them for a jam in February 2010, and based on that drunken strumming he was immediately offered a record deal, and then he spent seven years working on his debut album before its release last November?

Is it not much more likely - I ask the good members of the jury - that this friend of Nick Knowles who works in A&R at Universal saw the unexpected success of Bradley Walsh - whose Sony album 'Chasing Dreams' was the UK's biggest selling debut of 2016 - and thought, 'How can we replicate that?'

Could it not be that, when Knowles then turned in the sub-David Brent nonsense that is 'Every Kind Of People', everyone at the label realised that drastic measures were needed? And at that point the chance, and possibly relatively brief, meeting with Biffy Clyro in a random bar seven years earlier was remembered, and a story was concocted to use this dimly remembered event to cover up Universal's blatant attempt at a telly-turned-pop-star cash in?

I ask you, which is the more likely truth?

Of course, the public did not buy it. By which, I mean, they literally didn't buy it. 'Every Kind Of People' peaked at number 92 in the UK album chart three weeks after its release, and then crashed out again. Nick Knowles is a failed musician, whose music career could not even be saved by a mis-told Biffy Clyro story.

But fear not, things could be about to change for Nick Knowles the wannabe pop star. The reason we're talking about this, as I said, is because he is currently holed up in the jungle on 'I'm A Celebrity'. A lot of people apparently watch that show. Even at least one member of Biffy Clyro, it seems. And this could be the promo push he needs.

Giving this idea some focus, Chris Moyles has now launched a campaign to get Knowles to Christmas number one. He's urging his listeners, and the British public at large, to send Knowles's cover of Bob Dylan's 'Make You Feel My Love' up the charts.

"This is not a 'Chris Moyles Show' campaign", Moyles told his listeners. "This is just a campaign to get Nick Knowles into the Top 40. So it's not just us, everyone can take part. Let's see if we can get Nick Knowles into the chart".

According to the Official Charts Company, sales and streams of the song are already up 500%. Which could frankly mean anything - for example, zero sales and 500 streams instead of one the previous week. We'll find out later today whether that uplift translates into any sort of chart position.

Though, if Knowles does make it to the top of the charts for the Christmas week, I think Biffy Clyro should offer to appear with him as his backing band on the annual festive edition of 'Top Of The Pops'. It's surely the right thing to do. We can then worry about the possible perjury committed in the pop beef courts in the new year.

Meanwhile, if you can stand it, you can watch the video for 'Make You Feel My Love' - the Nick Knowles version - here.

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN

 
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.
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