TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US yesterday upheld the ruling in the high profile 'Blurred Lines' song-theft case, confirming that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke did indeed infringe Marvin Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up' when they wrote their 2013 hit 'Blurred Lines'... [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 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]
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]
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 Appeals court upholds $5.3 million Blurred Lines ruling
LEGAL Music piracy is booming thanks to streaming
LABELS & PUBLISHERS INgrooves up for sale, say sources
LIVE BUSINESS Rainbow Venues abandons appeal over licence revocation
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES YouTube poaches FremantleMedia CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Rumours that Jimmy Iovine is leaving Apple Music abound
RELEASES Let's Eat Grandma announce new album, Heaven show
GIGS & FESTIVALS McFly bassist Dougie Poynter's new band Ink announce tour dates
ONE LINERS Kim Dotcom, Taylor Swift, Jhene Aiko, more
AND FINALLY... "No chance" of a full Take That reunion, says Gary Barlow
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Friday 18 May | Dukes at Komedia, Brighton
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Appeals court upholds $5.3 million Blurred Lines ruling
The Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US yesterday upheld the ruling in the high profile 'Blurred Lines' song-theft case, confirming that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke did indeed infringe Marvin Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up' when they wrote their 2013 hit 'Blurred Lines'.

It's a ruling that lazy journalists everywhere will likely claim "blurs the line" between what constitutes inspiration and what counts as infringement in the songwriting process. And do you know what: I reckon it's a ruling that "blurs the line" between what constitutes inspiration and what counts as infringement in the songwriting process. Maybe.

Although where the line definitely isn't blurred is between the opinion of the two judges who carried yesterday's judgement and the counter opinion of the one judge who dissented. The latter declared that her two colleagues' ruling "strikes a devastating blow to future musicians". They then dismissed that claim as "unfounded hyperbole". I mean, don't beat around the bush guys.

The 'Blurred Lines' litigation is one of the highest profile song-theft cases in recent times. Williams and Thicke were accused of infringement after the latter talked in a magazine interview about how Gaye's music had inspired his big hit. The dynamic duo actually sued first to seek confirmation that their song didn't infringe Gaye's earlier work. The Gaye estate responded with their own litigation and ultimately prevailed in court, winning $5.3 million in damages and half of the 'Blurred Lines' copyright.

The case centred on a couple of copyright complexities.

First, a technicality. It was argued that American copyright law only protects a song as it was documented when logged with the US Copyright Office. In the era of 'Got To Give It Up' only the sheet music could be logged, so the song is technically only protected as represented in that form. Williams and Thicke argued that any similarities between 'Blurred Lines' and 'Got To Give It Up' were in the recorded versions, not the written versions.

The judge hearing the case agreed with this narrow definition of what is actually protected by the song copyright, thus deciding that the recorded versions of the two songs should not be played in court. Though lawyers for Williams and Thicke argued that the judge didn't enforce that rule enough once reps for the Gaye estate were presenting their evidence.

Secondly, Williams and Thicke argued that they didn't directly infringe Gaye's work, rather the two songs shared a "vibe". Copyright doesn't protect a "vibe", they argued, and suggested that it should would set a dangerous precedent that could hinder the creative process for songwriters everywhere.

The majority opinion on appeal yesterday refused to overturn the jury decision in the original case. Arguments from the Williams and Thicke camp that jury instructions, expert testimony and evidence presented by the Gaye side in the original trial had been improper were rejected. The two judges siding with the Gaye camp added that their conclusion was the result of the "settled procedural principles and the limited nature of our appellate review".

However, dissenting judge Jacqueline Nguyen was scathing of her colleagues' judgement, mainly because of the precedent it arguably sets in American copyright law.

After picking holes in the testimony of the Gayes' chosen musicologist at the original trial, who, she said, cherry-picked similar snippets rather than considering the two songs as a whole, Nguyen then wrote: "The majority allows the Gayes to accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style".

She goes on: "'Blurred Lines' and 'Got to Give It Up' are not objectively similar. They differ in melody, harmony and rhythm. Yet by refusing to compare the two works, the majority establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere".

Howver, Nguyen's two colleagues were having none of it. First they argued that Nguyen was over-stepping her remit as an appeals judge. "The dissent's position violates every controlling procedural rule involved in this case", they wrote. "The dissent improperly tries, after a full jury trial has concluded, to act as judge, jury and executioner".

And as for Nguyen's concerns about precedent, well that's all "hyperbole" remember. Though they do slip in a "respectfully" before declaring "these conjectures are unfounded hyperbole". So that's alright then.

What specifically is hyperbolic in Nguyen's dissenting judgement? Well, the prophesies that "our decision will shake the foundations of copyright law, imperil the music industry, and stifle creativity", and the suggestion that "the Gayes' victory will come back to haunt them, as the Gayes' musical compositions may now be found to infringe any number of famous songs preceding them".

"Our decision does not grant license to copyright a musical style or 'groove'", they add. "Nor does it upset the balance Congress struck between the freedom of artistic expression, on the one hand, and copyright protection of the fruits of that expression, on the other hand".

Again citing the limited role of the appellate review in this case, they concluded: "Our decision hinges on settled procedural principles and the limited nature of our appellate review, dictated by the particular posture of this case and controlling copyright law. Far from heralding the end of musical creativity as we know it, our decision, even construed broadly, reads more accurately as a cautionary tale for future trial counsel wishing to maximise their odds of success".

The majority ruling did overturn one element of the 'Blurred Lines' case though, a decision made by the judge rather than the jury in the original trial. This related to the liabilities of TI, the guest rapper on 'Blurred Lines', and Universal's Interscope label, which released the track but didn't publish the song. The judge extended liabilities to both after the jury ruled in the Gaye estate's favour, but the appeals court have now formally let TI and Interscope off the hook.

The appeals court states: "Harris and the Interscope parties contend that the district court erred in overturning the jury's general verdicts finding in their favour. We agree. First, the Gayes waived any challenge to the consistency of the jury's general verdicts. Second, even had the Gayes preserved their challenge, neither Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) nor our decisions in Westinghouse and El-Hakem v. BJY Inc, conferred authority on the district court to upset the jury's verdicts in this case. Third, as to Harris specifically, the district court erred for the additional reason that no evidence showed Harris was vicariously liable".

Many in the American music and legal communities have been watching this case closely, wondering whether the now upheld ruling does indeed set a bad precedent that could hinder future songwriting. One lawyer who has been following the proceedings, J Michael Keyes at law firm Dorsey & Whitney, told CMU last night: "Upholding the jury's verdict - and the ultimate damage award - could very well mean we see a new wave of additional music infringement lawsuits and claims".

He went on: "The Ninth Circuit majority decision was quite explicit in opining that musical works receive broad protection and that 'there is no one magical combination of factors that will automatically substantiate a musical infringement suit'. That standard is rather noteworthy and leaves quite a bit of play in the joints for future litigants to cobble together a music infringement claim. In fact, as the dissenting opinion points out, the majority decision seems to give copyright protection to a 'musical style' as the two works 'differ in melody, harmony and rhythm'".

Keyes also noted that the appeals court implicitly (but not explicitly) upheld the lower court's decision on limiting copyright protection to only the work as logged with the Copyright Office (not that this limitation helped Williams and Thicke, as their lawyers had hoped it would). That limitation also came up in another recent high profile song theft case, that which accused Led Zeppelin of ripping off an earlier work for their song 'Stairway To Heaven'. The plaintiff in that case specifically criticised this limitation when appealing Led Zep's court win.

Keyes continues: "One important but rather technical issue that the court did not decide - and that is directly relevant in the Led Zeppelin 'Stairway To Heaven' appeal pending before the Ninth Circuit - was whether the 'scope' of copyright protection is dictated by the notes on the printed page or whether the sound recording can be considered as defining the scope of protection".

He concludes: "The trial court ruled that the scope of Gaye's copyright protection was limited to the sheet music because that is what was submitted to the Copyright Office and what was ultimately registered. The Ninth Circuit assumed, without deciding the issue, that the trial court made the correct decision. We will need to wait and see how the court deals with this same theme in the 'Stairway To Heaven' case".


Music piracy is booming thanks to streaming
Piracy tracking company MUSO has published its annual report on the current state of people getting stuff off the internet illegitimately. Figures show that, just like on the licensed side of the music industry, streaming and mobile are ensuring renewed growth.

The company logged 300 billion visits to piracy sites in 2017, up 1.6% overall on the previous year. However, music - the second most pirated type of content after TV - saw a 14.7% surge.

Interestingly, the music industry's biggest piracy bugbear of 2017, stream-ripping sites, saw a dramatic drop in usage in the second half of last year. MUSO attributes a 33.9% drop to the shutdown of YouTube-mp3 in September, the result of successful legal action by the record industry, and which was followed by several other smaller sites also going offline.

While everyone stopped to pat themselves on the back though, stream-ripping was nevertheless the third most popular type of music piracy last year, beaten by illegal download sites. In first place, and significantly more popular, were unlicensed streaming sites. For the most part, these were accessed through mobile phones and tablets, with 87.1% of all music piracy carried out on handheld devices.

The leading countries for piracy were the USA and Russia, with 27.9 billion and 20.1 billion visits respectively. The UK came in tenth with nine billion visits, which shows that, despite a rigorous programme of web-blocking, we're still punching above our weight in the piracy stakes compared to countries with bigger populations and no web-blocking whatsoever. Well done us.

"There is a belief that the rise in popularity of on-demand services - such as Netflix and Spotify - have solved piracy, but that theory simply doesn't stack up", says MUSO CEO Andy Chatterley. "Our data suggests that piracy is more popular than ever. With the data showing us that 53% of all piracy happens on unlicensed streaming platforms, it has become clear that streaming is the most popular way for consumers to access content, whether it be via legitimate channels, or illegitimate ones".

He continues: "The piracy audience is huge and yet for the most part, it's an opportunity that's completely ignored. It's important that the content industries embrace the trends emerging from this data, not only in strategic content protection, but also in understanding the profile of the piracy 'consumer' for better business insight and monetising these audiences".

You can purchase the full MUSO report here.

Chatterley previously warned of the boom in illegal streaming sites when he spoke to CMU's Chris Cooke at the Slush Music conference in Finland last year. You can read more about what he said - plus more on the past, present and future of music piracy - in this CMU Trends article.


INgrooves up for sale, say sources
The owners of distribution and music services company INgrooves are actively seeking a possible buyer, or so say sources who have spoken to Billboard. And who doesn't love sources? I love em. Every single one of them. Hello sources, you're all great.

Said sources reckon that the company's majority shareholder Shamrock Capital is seeking a buyer for the company with a possible $100 million price tag. INgrooves has a long association with Universal Music, which is a minority shareholder in and client of the business, and which merged its own distribution unit Fontana with INgrooves back in 2012.

However, Billboard reckons Shamrock is talking to other possible bidders too, which will likely include the other majors. Sony has been busy buying up independent distributors to merge with its The Orchard business, while Warner's ADA might also pursue a takeover to boost its overall market share.

The likes of Concorde, Kobalt and BMG might also be possible bidders, though the latter recently told Music Week that pursuing big acquisitions was no longer a priority.


Rainbow Venues abandons appeal over licence revocation
The people behind the Rainbow Venues complex in Birmingham have announced that they are withdrawing their appeal to a decision last year by the city's council to revoke their licence, because of the "financial and emotional impact" of the licensing issues, and the "difficult and intimidating climate of licensing in Birmingham and across the UK".

Rainbow's various venues were closed in November last year when Birmingham City Council revoked the company's licence. The council's decision came as the result of two drug-related deaths in the main Rainbow warehouse clubbing space. Eighteen year old Dylan Booth died at the venue in 2015, while nineteen year old Michael Trueman died at a Halloween event last year.

The club's operators argued that they had extremely strict anti-drugs and security policies. However, they said that no one can "promise that drugs will not enter licensed premises", while also pointing out that it was the drug users, not the venue, who had broken the law.

The Rainbow team pledged to appeal the City Council's licensing decision, later launching a campaign under the banner of 'Educate Not Revocate', calling for a change to licensing rules and drug policies in the UK.

That campaign echoed much of what was said when London club Fabric likewise lost its licence as a result of drug-related deaths at the venue. Similar calls were then made earlier this week by drug safety charity The Loop as it published its new 'Night Lives' report.

However, the team behind Rainbow Venues, who had already indicated plans to move back into event promotion rather than venue management, have now decided to move on from their former business rather than continue the complex fight against Birmingham City Council. Monies raised to fund the appeal will also be returned.

Founder Lee McDonald said in a statement: "We are resolute in our commitment to calling for a more progressive approach to licensing through the Educate Not Revocate campaign as announced in January 2018, and extend a huge thank you to the fans, artists and industry professionals who have pledged their support to our cause so far".

However, he added, "until the difficult and intimidating climate of licensing in Birmingham and across the UK changes, and the financial and emotional impact that it directly causes on venue owners and licensees is alleviated, we will no longer invest in the city we have previously called home".

Looking ahead to his new ventures, he concluded: "We look forward to taking time out to re-energise, and continue discussions with global brands and potential partners, before returning as promoters of the major international events that The Rainbow has built its reputation around in the past thirteen years".


YouTube poaches FremantleMedia CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz
FremantleMedia CEO Cécile Frot-Coutaz is leaving the company in order to become Google's Head Of YouTube for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

A powerful figure in the TV industry, Frot-Coutaz has worked for Fremantle for two decades, becoming CEO in 2012. The announcement seemingly took the TV industry by surprise. Although she is thought to have a twelve month notice period at her current employer, which gives them all time to get used to the idea.

In a statement, YouTube's Chief Business Offer Robert Kyncl says: "Cécile comes with incredible experience in the media industry. Her leadership, guidance, strong network and deep industry understanding will be invaluable as we continue to strengthen our partnerships and grow our creator base throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa".

Frot-Coutaz adds: "YouTube is the voice of a generation and has become an integral part of the world's cultural conversation. The opportunity to be part of that conversation and to work with Robert, his team and the wider Google community was too good to turn down. I will miss FremantleMedia enormously - it's a global creative powerhouse at the top of its game, and I will continue to watch with pride as a devoted fan".

Her appointment comes as YouTube prepares to roll out its Red subscription service in more markets around the world. It is also attempting to become a destination for traditional TV viewing.

Last week at the SXSW conference, former record industry exec Lyor Cohen, now YouTube's Global Head Of Music, confirmed plans to also launch a music-specific subscription service.

According to Bloomberg, Cohen's big plan to convince people to pay for musical entertainment on his platform is to bombard users who spend long periods listening to music on YouTube for free with more ads. It will be a policy to "frustrate and seduce" consumers into using the paid-for music service. I'm sure advertisers will be keen to hear that they are being used to annoy people into paying to stop seeing their ads.


Rumours that Jimmy Iovine is leaving Apple Music abound
Despite Jimmy Iovine's insistence that he's with Apple Music for the longhaul, rumours that the record industry veteran and Beats co-founder is exiting the tech giant persist. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that he will shift to a "consulting" role in August this year.

At an event earlier this year, Iovine said: "There's still a lot more we'd like to do. I am committed to doing whatever Eddy [Cue], Tim [Cook] and Apple need me to do, to help wherever and however I can, to take this all the way. I am in the band".

Admitting that his current contract with Apple was due to come to an end in August, he added: "The bottom line is I'm loyal to the guys at Apple. I love Apple, and I really love musicians".

According to the WSJ, Iovine will leave his day-to-day role at Apple Music in August, while still being on hand to assist Cue "as needed". Sources told the New York Post that he plans to "spend more time with his family".

Iovine has had a hands on role at Apple Music since the tech firm acquired his Beats Electronics company for $3 billion in 2014. WSJ sources also said that, despite his proud talk of the streaming service's success, shifting from Beats Music's focus on "edgy culture" to Apple Music's mass appeal has been a struggle for him.


Approved: Eckoes
At CMU and the FAC's recent Artist:Entrepreneur Day, Eckoes - real name Dilys Uwagboe - spoke about the compromises you sometimes have to make as an a emerging artist. She was recalling how she scored an opportunity to play the Henley Festival, but that required her to perform an acoustic set. Very much an electronic artist, she nonetheless accepted the gig and pulled together a successful unplugged show.

It was with that anecdote in mind that I pressed play on the new video for recent single, 'SBF'. As a song, it definitely has the strength to be stripped back to its vocals and an acoustic guitar, but given the choice I think I'll go for the full production. On record, the track slowly ripples in fluid movements. Its atmosphere is intoxicating, with individual instruments lightly applied in layers to slowly envelop you.

Eckoes plays The Hospital Club in London on 6 Apr. Put yourself on the guestlist for that here.

Watch the video for 'SBF' here.

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

Let's Eat Grandma announce new album, Heaven show
Let's Eat Grandma have revealed that they will release their second album, 'I'm All Ears', this summer. They've also announced that, as well as playing UK tour dates in April, there will be a standalone show at Heaven in London in September.

With production from David Wrench, Sophie and Faris Badwan, the duo say that the new album sees them pushing themselves to work differently than on their debut, 'I, Gemini'.

"I think it's a much more honest record", says Jenny Hollingworth. "It's very open. It is a lot about youth and young people and the experiences we have".

The album announcement is accompanied by new single 'Falling Into Me', of which Hollingworth says: "It's about communication. Some of the lyrics reference being in control as a woman in a romantic relationship, and being the one to initiate. So you're the person who tells them that you like them, you're taking the initiative. It's the importance of if you feel something, tell them. Because you don't know what's going to happen in life, you might as well just do it".

Listen to 'Falling Into Me' here.

'I'm All Ears' will be released on 29 Jun. Here are the tour dates:

4 Apr: Glasgow, Stereo
5 Apr: Newcastle, The Riverside
7 Apr: Leeds, Belgrave
8 Apr: Sheffield, The Plug
9 Apr: Manchester, The Deaf Institute
11 Apr: Birmingham, The Castle and Falcon
12 Apr: Cardiff, The Globe
13 Apr: Bristol, The Lantern
27 Sep: London, Heaven


McFly bassist Dougie Poynter's new band Ink announce tour dates
McFly bassist Dougie Poynter's new alt-rock band Ink have announced UK tour dates to run throughout May.

The band officially launched themselves last week, releasing their debut EP 'Heaven'. The announcement caused concern among McFly fans. This prompted the band to tweet that, while they are on hiatus, Ink's arrival does not mean that McFly have split.

Tickets for the Ink shows go on sale on Friday morning. Here are those tour dates:

4 May: Brighton, The Haunt
6 May: Plymouth, The Junction
8 May: Exeter, The Cavern
9 May: Bristol, The Exchange
11 May: Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
12 May: Birmingham, The Flapper
13 May: Nottingham, Bodega
14 May: Sheffield, The Corporation
16 May: Manchester, Star & Garter
17 May: Glasgow, Garage Attic
18 May: Edinburgh, The Mash House
19 May: Newcastle, Think Tank
21 May: Leeds, The Key Club
22 May: Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms
23 May: London, Camden Assembly
24 May: Tunbridge Wells, Forum
26 May: Southampton, Joiners
27 May: Northampton, Roadmender Underground
28 May: Coventry, Kasbah
29 May: Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms


Kim Dotcom, Taylor Swift, Jhene Aiko, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• New Zealand's High Court has rejected a request by Kim Dotcom to subpoena Barack Obama. The former US president would have been asked to give evidence in Dotcom's case demanding damages from the US government and Hollywood over the shutdown of his former MegaUpload business on copyright grounds back in 2012.

• Taylor Swift is seeking over $70,000 in legal fees after she shook off that song-theft lawsuit last month.

• Jhene Aiko has released the video for 'Never Call Me' from her 2017 album 'Trip'.

• Underoath have released the video for recent single 'Rapture'. Their new album, 'Erase Me', is out on 6 Apr.

• Gwenno has released the video for 'Eus Keus?' from her new album, 'Le Kov'.

• Alison Wonderland has released new track, 'High', featuring rapper Trippie Red.

• Chad Valley is back with new single, 'Impartial'. His new album, 'Imaginary Music' is out on 25 May.

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


"No chance" of a full Take That reunion, says Gary Barlow
Hopes that all five original members of Take That would get together for a 25th anniversary show have seemingly been dashed. Not least because they missed the big date last year. Gary Barlow now says there's "no chance" of a full reunion.

Speaking to the Mirror, Barlow said: "I wouldn't put money on [a reunion]. Don't waste your money. I would say there's no chance".

The seed that a full reunion might happen was planted last year. In an interview Howard Donald said that they were hoping to put on a show with all five members to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of their debut album, 'Take That And Party'.

The August 2017 deadline for that may have already passed, but that's no need to lose hope. Donald noted that Jason Orange and Robbie Williams might take longer to convince than they had time for, conceding: "It might be the 30th anniversary we end up celebrating".

Now Barlow has seemingly given up on the idea entirely. Although optimist Mark Owen remains hopeful, saying in the new Mirror interview: "I wouldn't say there's no chance, but I've always said that".

The remaining trio performed on the roof of the Theatre Royal Haymarket earlier this week, in an attempt to draw attention to that stupid musical they're involved in. They're also planning a greatest hits compilation and tour later this year.


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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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.
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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.
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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.
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