12 SEP 2013

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Sky Larkin are due to release their third album, 'Motto', through Wichita on 17 Sep. Recorded in Seattle with producer John Goodmanson, the record was largely written by frontwoman Katie Harkin while touring the world as part of Wild Beasts' live line-up. Now back in the UK and preparing for the album release and tour dates to coincide with it, we asked Katie to put together a playlist for us. She selected tracks which, she tells, us were on "heavy rotation' during the writing of 'Motto' more>>
On the first single from Wrongtom's Rongorock label (an imprint of his also fairly new Rongorongo label), MC Mark Professor provides a reggae tribute to one of London's finer assets, something long overlooked in song, the Oyster Card. Going head to head with hip hop bragging about cars and opulence, Mark takes it low key and talks up the benefits of his cashless payment card for the capital's busses and trains (and the merits of public transport itself) more>>

- Majors join battle with Sirius XM over pre-1972 recordings
- OfCom publishes piracy report
- Gaga's PA case to proceed to court
- Mercury Prize 2013 nominations announced
- Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize shortlist out
- New Britney Spears single released next week
- Robbie Williams to swing with Lily, Bublé and Murs
- Diplo, Best Coast releasing (separate) new EPs
- Vivendi confirms split plan under consideration
- ADA partners with PRMD music
- MusicTank announces launch of funding report
- Pandora appoints new chief
- switches off user upload feature to cut costs
- Kylie joins The Voice
- Miley Cyrus is Love approved
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Union Square Music, one of the UK's most successful reissue and compilation specialists, is looking for an experienced in-house designer. Working collaboratively with the marketing team you will primarily be responsible for the concept, development and design of CD and digital covers, as well as the design of marketing and PR campaign materials, promotional materials, on-line advertising and the USM website.

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CSV is an established London based project management company providing, manufacturing and print/packaging solutions for the music industry and beyond. CSV is seeking maternity cover within its production department, with the potential to expand the role beyond the period of cover. Ideally, you will have previous production experience and have a good understanding of printing processes, however importantly you will be an excellent communicator and be able to work under pressure from time to time.

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We are recruiting for a two year fixed term contract to manage and implement a major licence simplification programme which will in turn lead to increased revenue, simplified ways of working, and transparency for licensees and reduced costs. This is a pivotal role within our Public Performance Sales (PPS) business unit and the role holder will play a large role in contributing towards our five-year plan.

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Full Time Hobby is a London-based independent music company looking for a project manager to work directly on our Full Time Hobby label releases. The ideal candidate should be passionate about music, very organised and ideally have some experience of working as a project manager within a record label, though experience within other areas of the music industry will be considered.

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The legal battle against US satellite radio firm Sirius XM is hotting up, as all three majors file litigation against the media company over its use of pre-1972 catalogue.

As previously reported, Sirius utilises a bit of American copyright law that obligates labels to licence their recordings to satellite radio services, collecting their royalties as set by a statutory body via collecting agency SoundExchange. However, say the labels, that is a bit of federal law, and copyrights in works released prior to 1972 are protected by state law, so the compulsory licence doesn't apply.

Flo & Eddie, aka Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, aka the two vocalists with American rock band The Turtles, a band whose heyday predates 1972, have now filed three lawsuits in the state courts on this issue, in California, Florida and New York. But the majors - Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music - are now following their lead, taking their case to the California Superior Court.

As also previously reported, SoundExchange is also suing Sirius, because it says the satellite radio service has been deducting royalties from what it pays the rights agency based on the percentage of its musical output that predates 1972 (about 10-15%). So even if the compulsory licence did apply to all copyright recordings and not just those directly protected by federal law, Sirius hasn't been paying for them.

It remains to be seen how Sirius responds to all this. Though AM/FM radio stations in the US - in contrast to Europe - pay nothing to the labels, so the media firm may as yet argue that that principle should apply to catalogue not directly covered by federal copyright law.

Meanwhile in a statement supplied by the Recording Industry Association Of America, Steve Cropper, guitarist with Booker T & The MGs, who as the house band of Stax Records appeared on countless sixties recordings, said: "It's an outrage that SiriusXM, a multi-billion [dollar] company making a big profit based partly on the popularity of its oldies channels is refusing to pay any artists like me one penny. That's not right and that needs to be changed".

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Media regulator OfCom has published a report on online piracy based on research by Kantar Media that took place in four stages over the last year (interim results of initial stages were shared earlier this year). In total 21,474 respondents completed surveys over the twelve months.

The report confirms that, in the main, a relatively small number of web users account for a large amount of online piracy, it estimating that just 2% of net-users account for nearly three quarters of the content illegally accessed and distributed online.

The report also backs the theory, posited many times over the years, that the most prolific pirates are also prolific customers of the content industries. Those who admitted accessing unlicensed content sources also spent on average £26 per quarter on legit online content, versus an average spend of £16 amongst non-infringers.

Of those surveyed, 58% accessed music, movie or TV content online, while 17% accessed illegal content sources, which means about a third of digital content consumers are downloading or streaming unlicensed music or video.

Interestingly over the four stages of the survey, the ratio of legal content consumption to illegal content consumption changed, with the amount of legal content consumption increasing and illegal falling. This may confirm a trend that, as legit music and TV streaming services grow, the relative extent of piracy is declining, or it could simply reflect seasonal variations.

About a fifth of the pirates said a letter from their internet service provider revealing that their infringement had been spotted might make them stop accessing pirated content, while about a quarter said the threat of legal action would.

The survey comes as record industry execs meet with David Cameron to discuss stepping up anti-piracy measures, including getting the never-enacted measures contained in the 2010 Digital Economy Act up and running.

Meanwhile Google has also published a report on piracy, it focused on all the ways the web giant is helping copyright owners, and again pushing its viewpoint that the content industries should be focusing their anti-piracy efforts on trying to shut down the relatively small number of piracy operations that are majorly profiting via ad sales, subscriptions or donations (rather than bothering themselves about Google search results containing links to illegal content files).

Read an exec summary of the OfCom report here

And the Google paper here

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The legal battle between Lady Gaga and her one time personal assistant will proceed to court, a judge has ruled, giving Jennifer O'Neill the opportunity to present her claims against the popstar before a jury.

As previously reported, O'Neill claims that when she worked as Gaga's assistant in 2010 she was expected to work 24/7 for the singer, but wasn't paid overtime. On that basis she reckons she is due 7168 hours of overtime pay, or $380,000.

In a deposition published by the New York Post earlier this year Gaga called the case "bullshit", saying that O'Neill was paid well, wasn't great at her job, and exploited her association with the star during her year of employment. The singer added that while O'Neill was pretty much on call 24/7, her actual working hours overall weren't unreasonable.

But either way, O'Neill's allegations will now be aired in court, with a hearing set to kick off on 4 Nov. And however the court battle ends up, there are likely to be revelations about Gaga behind the scenes that the popstress would rather not be shared in public.

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The shortlist for the 2013 Mercury Prize was announced yesterday afternoon by Lauren Laverne over at the Hospital Club in London's Covent Garden. The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony at The Roundhouse in London on 30 Oct.

Chair of the judging panel Simon Frith said of this year's twelve nominees: "This year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist celebrates a fascinating year for British and Irish music, marked by a wonderful range of musical voices - urgent, reflective, upbeat and tender, acoustic and electronic, and all with something intriguing to say".

Though interestingly, this year the folk and jazz genres have lost their token-gesture nomination status and been shunned completely. Welcome to metal's world - bearded music fans unite.

David Bowie and Arctic Monkeys are currently joint favourites to win at 4/1, according to William Hill - Bowie having been the lone favourite prior to the shortlist announcement. Jon Hopkins, Savages and Villagers all come bottom of the betting rankings at 10/1, which is a surprise because we reckon Savages at the very least are in with a good shot.

William Hill spokesperson Rupert Adams told CMU: "Bowie was back with a bang earlier this year and he was always going to be towards the top of the betting but with a wide variety of artists on the shortlist it is by no means his title".

And the artists and their albums nominated for this year's Mercury are:

Arctic Monkeys - AM
David Bowie - Next Day
Disclosure - Settle
Foals - Holy Fire
Jake Bugg - Jake Bugg
James Blake - Overgrown
Jon Hopkins - Immunity
Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle
Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon
Rudimental - Home
Savages - Silence Yourself
Villagers - Awayland

See how this compares with the list of 20 contenders we published last week.

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As is customary, the shortlist for the Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize was also announced last night, shortly after that big Mercury announcement.

This one celebrates the best pop singles of the year and the shortlist is as follows ('DNA' by Little Mix gets our vote)...

CHVRCHES - The Mother We Share
Disclosure feat AlunaGeorge - 'White Noise
Duke Dumont feat A*M*E - Need U (100%)
Girls Aloud - Something New
Little Mix - DNA
Mutya Keisha Siobhan - Flatline
Olly Murs - Dear Darlin
One Direction - Kiss You
Petula Clark - Cut Copy Me
Robbie Williams - Candy
The Saturdays - Gentleman
VV Brown - The Apple

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Britney Jean Spears is releasing a single next week, the lead track to her still TBA eighth LP, and its name is 'Work Bitch'. Hashtag what a title.

"'Work Bitch' is going to premiere WORLDWIDE this Monday, Sept 16th at 6pm ET. You can listen on iHeartRadio or your local radio station", tweeted Brit recently, revealing all the relevant details.

And here she is being revealing.

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Robbie Williams has done another 'swing' compilation because, well, he wanted to do another 'swing' compilation, and why not? A combo of original songs and 'homages' to OC Smith and King Louis off 'The Jungle Book', 'Swings Both Ways' will feature duets with Lily Allen, Kelly Clarkson, Michael Bublé and Rufus Wainwright. And Olly Murs. And a track titled 'No One Likes A Fat Pop Star'. Baffling.

Says Rob: "First of all, I wanted to do a 'swing' album because I wanted to do a 'swing' album. I always knew I'd do another and I think now is the perfect time to do it. I'm enjoying showbiz and I'm enjoying my life and my understanding of where I am now is that there needs to be an event every time I bring out a record. The album this time is a definite ode and a loving glance towards a period on the planet that I was never invited to coz I wasn't there... I wanted to be, which I feel still very strongly linked to".

Wainwright, who co-wrote and co-sings the LP's title song, says: "Working with Robbie is a dream come true. I'm once again the envy of both sexes. Robbie is the real deal, full package, a total mensch and if I could come up with any more paired descriptive sayings I would use them as well".

If only. 'Swings Both Ways' will swing into retailers on 18 Nov.

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So, as intimated in that headline; Diplo and Best Coast both have unrelated (except by the fact that they're EPs) EPs to release.

I bet they'll really appreciate being jammed into the same article, especially Diplo, who earlier this week revealed the game-plan to his extended player, 'Biggie Bounce'. Carrying six tracks featuring shady characters like RiFF RAFF, Mike Posner and Action Bronson, it'll be available via Diplo's Mad Decent label on 8 Oct. Preview it via its Angger Dimas and Travis Porter-assisted title track.

Next; Best Coast and their seven-track 'mini-LP' (which I still say is an EP), 'Fade Away'. The first significant release by Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno since 2012's 'The Only Place' will go on sale 21 Oct, this via Consentino's new vanity label, Jewel City.

Adding a 'Fade Away' forward, Consentino writes: "Everything in this band has worked out so organically that sometimes it scares me that something bad is going to happen. I don't even understand why this is happening. I made some songs, I put them up on the internet, and here I am now. I feel like the luckiest person in the world. If I wasn't doing this, I don't know what I would be doing".

'Fade Away' will also carry a pair of tracks Best Coast released earlier this year as a special Record Store Day single. Hear one of them, 'Who Have I Become', here.

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The board of Universal Music owner Vivendi yesterday confirmed that they were now studying a plan to split the group into two companies, one consisting of flagging French telecoms business SFR, the other it's two remaining entertainment assets, the Universal music empire and French TV firm Canal+.

There has been talk of Vivendi offloading SFR for some time, though yesterday's announcement confirms a plan for realising that aim is now being formally developed. Having recently sold its controlling stake in gaming giant Activision, the cutting off of SFR would leave Vivendi with only two main businesses, though a new series of acquisitions would likely follow.

The other big announcement yesterday was that Vincent Bolloré had been appointed Vice-Chairman of the company. As previously reported, Bolloré is a key shareholder in the company (with a 5% stake) and a board member, and has clashed of late with the firm's Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou over the appointment of a new CEO to replace Jean-Bernard Levy, who left over a year ago.

It is thought that Bolloré, previously tipped to succeed Fourtou as Chairman, has actually put himself forward for the CEO job. Whether or not that will happen, his appointment as Vice-Chair means that Bolloré will definitely play a key role in deciding the future direction of the company.

Though yesterday he denied any animosity between him and Fourtou, despite disagreements about the CEO appointment. He told the Financial Times: "He is a friend, I have a lot of admiration for him. We can work together. People shouldn't expect a fight [between us]. They should expect success".

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Warner Music's label services business the Alternative Distribution Alliance yesterday announced a new partnership with PRMD Music, the label founded earlier this year by Avicii manager Ash Pournouri. ADA will handle physical and digital distribution, as well as providing marketing services, to the label in the US.

ADA's SVP, A&R and Label Services Kenny Weagly told CMU: "As an artist manager, Ash has already accomplished so much, and we're thrilled about his new venture, PRMD. Between Ash's credentials and his roster's incredible talent, this young label is well-poised for great success, and ADA is very happy to be providing early support to help PRMD and its artists achieve their goals".

Pournouri added: "ADA is the perfect partner to help PRMD make a big splash right out of the gate. Our artists expect the highest level of service and we're confident that this deal will reinforce our ability to do that".

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MusicTank has confirmed a publication date for its latest industry report, called 'Easy Money? The definitive UK guide to funding music projects', which was first unveiled via an interview with its author, Remi Harris, as The Great Escape back in May. The report will look at the various funding options available to artists and musical entrepreneurs, including grants, crowdfunding, loans, investment and sponsorship.

Commenting on the report, Harris told CMU: "The aim with 'Easy Money?' is to demystify funding for people working in music, and show exactly how it works. Access to finance is possibly the biggest problem for the majority of people operating in the UK music industry - that layer of artists, festival promoters, indie labels and others trying to get small businesses and projects off the ground. There is money around to fund your tour, finish your EP, produce your festival, but you may not know where it is, how much is available and how to get your hands on it. This book is designed to change that".

Meanwhile MusicTank Chairman Keith Harris added: "We are extremely proud to be working with one of the UK's leading authorities on music project funding, and Remi has more than delivered with this 'Easy Money?' It is MusicTank's prime directive to educate people about the issues of the day, and access to finance for grassroots music projects is perhaps the most important for the long-term health of the UK industry. It's not all doom and gloom - there IS money around, and Remi is one of the first to plant a massive signpost in the ground that clearly says to musicians and music business people: IT'S OVER THERE!"

The report will be published on 26 Sep, followed by the previously reported 'Easy Money' conference in London on 22 Oct. An audience of invited industry types will also be briefed on the report at an event on 24 Sep.

There are more details about the report here, and about the conference here.

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Pandora has announced the appointment of a former Microsoft exec to the role of President and CEO, replacing Joe Kennedy, who announced he was stepping down in March.

Brian McAndrews is likely to be a popular hire with investors, as he previously ran digital advertising company aQuantive, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2007, resulting in McAndrews spending a year as an SVP at the IT giant. He has since been leading a venture capital outfit investing in tech start-ups.

For investment types it is the advertising side of Pandora's business that needs the most attention, because ad sales haven't grown in line with the increase of users at the streaming music firm. With Apple entering the market as a direct competitor, for advertisers as well as users, Wall Street was hoping for a new chief who understands the online ads market.

Confirming his new job, McAndrews told Reuters: "What brought me here is the opportunity. We mostly want to focus on customers and what they want and innovate for them".

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TURNTABLE.FM SWITCHES OFF USER UPLOAD FEATURE TO CUT COSTS co-founder Billy Chasen has emailed users of the service, after changes to how it operates were met with displeasure by some.

As previously reported, launched in 2011 and allows users to congregate in virtual 'rooms' and play or listen to others play songs. Originally launched globally, the site was made US-only due to licensing issues, caused in part because users could upload music files from their own computers to play in their virtual rooms (meaning both a copy and a public performance of the track took place).

This week, however, the user upload feature was switched off even in the US. Instead users are advised to upload content not already in the service's catalogue to SoundCloud, from where can access it. It was also announced that sister service, mobile app, was being closed down completely, as "it just didn't have the traction that we were hoping for".

On all this, Chasen wrote: "The change we made yesterday, removing the ability to upload music directly, will reduce our monthly bill by roughly $20,000. That's a huge saving that we need and we thought validated adding an extra step to uploading (upload it on SoundCloud and search for it on Turntable)".

Chasen added that was already ignoring the actual user-uploaded file if a track was already in its catalogue, and was playing its pre-existing version instead.

He went on: "There have been a couple incorrect pieces of information floating around, so let me take a moment to clear those up. Every song uploaded to Turntable would get fingerprinted using the same method that SoundCloud uses (and possibly same service, called Audible Magic). This process tries to match the song to known copyrighted content. If it finds a match and we're allowed to play the song, we use our catalogue version of the song (so the correct people can get paid). If it finds a match and it's flagged, we reject the upload".

Responding to claims that the changes would "kill", Chasen said: "We aren't trying to kill it, you are watching us fight for it".

It remains to be seen if it's a fight the company can win, but Chasen also hinted at further changes in the future, including one that will "involve artists and have a very live element to it".

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Kylie Minogue has - quite valiantly, I think - decided to take a spare swivel-chair on the BBC's 'The Voice'. Time will tell if she's replacing Jessie J or Danny O'Donoghue on the show's panel, they both having declined to sign up for its third series earlier this year. Time, and whether or not she elects to yell in a wig or sit quietly in a quiff.

Claiming to be "excited" ahead of 2014's season, Minogue said: "I love the concept of the show and have been an avid viewer of both series. The search for new talent is such an important aspect of the music industry and 'The Voice UK' gives us all a part to play in that. Will I be competitive? Probably more than even I imagine! Watch this space!"

Ms Minogue will join Mr (Tom) Jones, Mr (Will) and a 'mystery' coach on TV in early spring, when she'll likely be...

In other Voice-related news, Ed Sheeran is going to go and help out Christina Aguilera on the US version of the show.

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Everyone else in the world may have had their say about Miley Cyrus's VMAs routine, but really we've all just been waiting to know what Courtney Love thought of the ex-Disney star's controversial twerking. Well, this just in, Ms Love approves.

According to the New York Post, Love said at a New York Fashion Week event: "I liked Miley, frankly. I'm gonna be honest, Katy Perry bores the shit out of me. She's a nice girl, [but] she just really bores me. You know, that hillbilly Miley Cyrus is sort of punk in a weird sex way". While specifically on the VMAs performance, Love said the show "was at least kind of punk rock. It was openly sexual... like dark and hillbilly and fucked up".

But Love is less impressed by Cyrus's VMAs co-star, rape publicist Robin Thicke, aged 36. Referencing his acting dad Alan she exclaimed: "Can someone inform me who Alan Thicke's son is? Like what? Wasn't [he on the sitcom] 'Charles In Charge'? That's like Jared Leto trying to convince me he's a rockstar".

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CMU Editor Andy Malt and CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke are both available to comment on music and music business stories. Together they have provided comment and contributions to BBC News, BBC World, BBC Radios 1, 4, 5, 6music and Scotland, Sky News, CNN, Wired and the Associated Press. Email or

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