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CMU is 20!

By | Published on Friday 18 May 2018

Birthday candles on a strawberry shortcake

CMU turns 20 today. Yes, that’s right, we’ve now spent a whole two decades covering music, music people and the music business. And the birthday is happening right in the middle of The Great Escape too! It’s been a very busy day.

Founded by Chris Cooke, Alastair Walker and Fraser Thomson, we officially launched on 18 May 1998, shortly before the arrival of Napster. But I don’t think you can blame us for that.

Our daily music business coverage in the CMU Daily email didn’t arrive until 2002. Originally CMU made its way out into the world as a printed magazine, aiming to bring together the grassroots music community with the mainstream music industry, using the college music network as a way of reaching out around the UK.

The magazine was called College Music Update and it was mailed to key people in the industry, the media, the college music scene and the grass roots music community.

Since then the wider CMU business has grown considerably, though the core aim of keeping the wider music community up to date, and helping them understand the business of music, remains at the heart of it all.

As well as reporting on, explaining and – occasionally – mocking the music industry on a daily basis via the CMU Daily email, the CMU Insights division has become a leading provider of training and consultancy to music companies and companies that work with music. While our CMU:DIY education programme – working with the likes of Urban Development and the FAC – has enabled us to reach the grassroots music community in a whole new way.

This week, of course, CMU Insights has been running a series of conferences at The Great Escape in Brighton, looking at the Chinese music market, the impact of AI on music, and the world of music education. The latter saw us launch a new research project with Urban Development and BIMM seeking to redefine what music eduation can be.

We have also just launched a brand new research project with AIM – ‘Mapping The Digital Supply Chain’ – and we are about to embark on phase four of our ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ work with the Music Managers Forum. It’s events like TGE and major research projects of this kind that keep us passionate about the business of music, now and in the future. That and the daily opportunity to make weak jokes about pop stars and people who are supposed to be our readership.

To mark this quite remarkable milestone, we’ve taken a look back at 20 of the biggest stories we’ve covered over the last two decades – from EMI to the ascension of Justin Bieber – in an article that you can read here. If you’re at The Great Escape, you can also find that article in the CMU Great Escape Special magazine that you’ll find in your delegate bag. That’s right, we’re back in print. Briefly.

Also at TGE, tomorrow (Saturday) at 4.30pm in The Old Courtroom, CMU will once again close the convention for another year with Heroes & Villains, where four industry veterans discuss the highs and lows of their careers to date, and the heroes and villains they met along the way.

This year is a special edition of Heroes & Villains that will celebrate CMU’s big birthday. All the panellists will be people who supported CMU in its earliest days: Pat Carr from Remote Control, Sumit Bothra from ATC Management and broadcaster Edward Adoo. CMU co-founder and MD Chris Cooke will also take part and, as always, journalist and talent scout Stephen Jones will host.

One hero we’ll be remembering will be CMU co-founder Alastair Walker, who sadly is not here to celebrate with us. His premature death, just before his 30th birthday, of a heart attack brought on by undiagnosed diabetes, came just over three years after CMU launched. However, by then he had put in place the musical ethos and editorial attitude that continues at CMU to this day.

For those of you in Brighton this weekend, come and say hello and drop off your homemade birthday cakes. Otherwise, I’m sure we’ll catch up at some point in the next 20 years and beyond.