An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Friday 15 November 2013

TODAY'S TOP STORY: Lyric website-slash-online-community Rap Genius has signed a licensing deal with the world's biggest music publisher Sony/ATV. The news is timed well, coming shortly after the US National Music Publishers' Association named the site the "worst offender" for publishing lyrics without permission. Though it also seems to go against co-founder Ilan Zechory's apparent claim earlier this week... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Not the headline act for Saturday night at Fabric, but a major draw as far as I'm concerned, techno producer Luke Slater will be performing live as his alter ego Planetary Assault Systems. Absolutely not to be missed. He'll be in Room Two as part of the launch party for the latest release in Fabric compilation series (number 73!), which was mixed by Ben Sims. In the main room, you'll find Craig Richards... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Rap Genius signs licensing deal with Sony/ATV
DEALS Virgin EMI signs Porter Robinson
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Erased Tapes launches publishing business
New Merlin board appointed
LIVE BUSINESS Sankeys Manchester to re-open
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify UK's 2012 accounts published, Imagine Dragons discuss royalties
Deezer reportedly now planning US launch
Sonicbids founder steps down
MEDIA Pitchfork launches weekly tablet magazine
ARTIST NEWS Don Cheadle shopping Miles Davis biopic
RELEASES Death Grips release free LP
Release round-up: Africa Express, Three Trapped Tigers, Angel Olsen, Little Mix
GIGS & FESTIVALS Festival line-up update: Eurosonic, Sweden Rock Festival, Desertfest and more
AWARDS Classic Rock unrolls the honours
Art Vinyl Award shortlist announced
AND FINALLY... Michael Eavis pictured nude
CMU Beef Of The Week #182: Lily Allen v (Insert your own perception here)
Click JUMP to skip direct to a section of this email or ONLINE to read and share stories on the CMU website (JUMP option may not work in all email readers). For regular updates from Team CMU follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr.
This in-depth half-day course provides an overview of how music rights work, with a beginners guide to copyright law, what enjoys copyright and how ownership works. It looks at how music rights are monetised, why both direct and collective licensing exists, and how the collective licensing system works in the UK.

For more information and to book click here.
Full time paid internship for a period of six months (can be flexible) with potential to result in permanent position within the company. Fire Records are looking for an enthusiastic person to assist the Head of Press and to coordinate key USA and European publications and radio stations for a range of releases on the label.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
Music Concierge, the award-winning music consultancy for boutique hotels and luxury brands, is looking for a Music Consultant to join our small but expanding creative team. You will have an encyclopaedic music knowledge across a multitude of genres, including jazz, classical, pop, world music, and all forms of electronic music.

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The successful candidate would ideally have previous product/label management experience; knowledge and passion for dance music; the desire to learn quickly about all aspects of label management and a forward thinking social media and online mindset.

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Your Army Promotions & Management require the above to implement the accounts function across four small companies in the same media group based in West London. The ideal candidate would also have some office management experience.

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London-based music promotions company Listen Up is recruiting for a highly experienced senior press officer to join the expanding company. The ideal candidate should have at least three years experience in a similar role with a thorough knowledge of online and print portals across music, culture and lifestyle with a contact list to reflect that.

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MAMA & Company are looking for dynamic, experienced General Business Managers, Assistant General Managers & Bar Managers with a proven track record within a live music operation. This is a fantastic opportunity to work and grow with an exciting company at some of London’s most established venues.

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The Social Media & Digital Executive works within the marketing team reporting to the Head of Marketing, and is responsible for implementing and assisting with the development of the company's social media strategy. This role coordinates with the rest of the marketing and PR team to support the respective event marketing strategy, ensuring consistency in voice and cultivating a social media network, that not only develops brand awareness and loyalty but that builds a communication platform which drives forward the maximum number of ticket sales for the relevant events and festivals.

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Union Square Music, one of the UK's most successful reissue and compilation specialists, is looking for an experienced Label Manager to join their team. This is an exciting opportunity to manage a specialist label which particularly focuses on classic album re-issues, unique compilations and definitive artist and label deluxe box sets, aimed at the knowledgeable music fan and collector in the UK and internationally.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
CMU Jobs is a proven way to recruit the best music business talent for roles across the industry at all levels, from graduate to senior management. To book an ad contact Sam on 020 7099 9060 or email

Rap Genius signs licensing deal with Sony/ATV
Lyric website-slash-online-community Rap Genius has signed a licensing deal with the world's biggest music publisher Sony/ATV.

The news is timed well, coming shortly after the US National Music Publishers' Association named the site the "worst offender" for publishing lyrics without permission. Though it also seems to go against co-founder Ilan Zechory's apparent claim earlier this week that his company was basically doing just fine without licenses.

I suppose he did also say he was looking forward to talking to the angry music publishers. But that too was misleading, because it seems Zechory was already in cahoots with some of the publishing sector. In fact, according to Billboard, this deal was done "earlier this year" and the site is now looking to do more deals with publishers that will allow it to post lyrics without the threat of takedown notices.

Presumably the $15 million in funding it picked up last year will help with paying for that.

Virgin EMI signs Porter Robinson
Alternative electronic artist (as they say) Porter Robinson has only gone and signed one of those worldwide record deals with Universal divisions Astralwerks and Virgin EMI, who will now release the producer's "eclectic collection of original, transformative, and immersive songs". Well, I say now, actually it'll be sometime next year. They're still adding the immersity.

Confirming the deal, Astralwerks GM Glenn Mendlinger told CMU: "Porter is ushering in a new generation of electronic music that will evolve the genre into uncharted places. He crafts songs with exquisite precision, creating music that is both intimate and infinite. Further, his ideas for integration of music, artwork, visuals and live representation illuminate the breadth of his artistic vision".

Meanwhile, and noting the Virgin record label's recent 40th anniversary festivities, Virgin EMI UK A&R man Jason Ellis added: "In its 40 year history Virgin has had a long association with seminal electronic artists. We're proud to continue that tradition with the signing of Porter, without a doubt one of the most talented producers of his generation. We look forward to helping him realise the many diverse creative concepts he has in store; his debut album will both surprise and inspire".

Erased Tapes launches publishing business
To those of you wondering whether the Erased Tapes record label had just launched a new music publishing division called Erased Tapes Music, well, yes, it has. Actually, Erased Tapes has been dabbling in publishing for two years already, so launches its new venture with a roster that already includes Greg Haines, Peter Broderick, UK film composer Michael Price and Ukrainian music pioneer Lubomyr Melnyk.

Says Erased Tapes founder Robert Raths: "For us a publishing company in the 21st century is not just about acquiring sync deals, but to facilitate the individual needs and interests of each composer - whether in orchestral work, film music, sound design, contemporary dance, music sheets or a poetry book. We're very excited to support and encourage our artists in their musical vision that reaches far beyond releasing records".

He goes on: "We work with a new generation of composers whose music calls for a new type of publisher, just like it did on the label side. And we're very proud being able to represent every single one of them in a way that is tailored to their unique character and passion".


New Merlin board appointed
Merlin, the organisation that represents a big bunch of independent labels worldwide when negotiating deals with digital services, has just elected a new board. Beggars boss man Martin Mills was re-elected and will stay on as Chairman of the group. Meanwhile Essential Music USA's Erik Gilbert and Evolution Music Hong Kong's Ashley Whitfield join the board for the first time.

Merlin's board includes specific reps for Europe, North America and the rest of the world, along with non-voting observers and the boss of the UK's Association Of Independent Music Alison Wenham, albeit in her guise as Chair of the World Independents Network, speaking for any countries not directly represented on the committee.

Commenting on his board post the election, Merlin CEO Charles Caldas told CMU: "That this election attracted such strong candidate numbers, representing some of the world's most important music companies, is testament to Merlin's standing within the independent community. We were founded as a truly global operation, a fact reflected in the make-up and construct of our board, and I am honoured to lead an organisation that draws together such experience and expertise".

The Merlin board following this latest election looks very like this...

Europe: Erik Brataas - Phonofile (Norway), Michel Lambot - PIAS Group (Belgium), Martin Mills - Beggars Group (UK), Florian von Hoyer - Altafonte (Spain), Horst Weidenmueller - K7 (Germany)

Plus non-voting observers for Europe: Emmanuel de Buretel - Because Music (France), Oke Goettlich - Finetunes (Germany).

North America: Glenn Dicker - Redeye Distribution and Yep Roc Records - (USA), Erik Gilbert - Essential Music and Marketing (USA), Dave Hansen - Epitaph Records (USA), Geoff Kulawick - IDLA (Canada), Tom Silverman - Tommy Boy (USA)

Plus non-voting observers for North America: Kris Gillespie - Domino Recording Co (USA), Darius Van Arman - Dead Oceans/Jagjaguwar/Numero Group/Secretly Canadian (USA)

Rest Of World: Colin Daniels - Inertia (Australia), Hilton Roth - African Dope - (South Africa), Luciana Pegorer - Delira Musica (Brazil), Ashley Whitfield - Evolution Music (Hong Kong), Alison Wenham (WIN)

Sankeys Manchester to re-open
Good news everyone (except, of course, young Justin Bieber), Mancs clubbing institution Sankeys is to re-open in 2014. Look, here it is being confirmed on the internet.

As previously reported, Sankeys owner David Vincent closed the venue "indefinitely" earlier this year, citing a wish to focus on his firm's other site in Ibiza, saying at the time: "Who knows when we will be back in Manchester, or if we ever will be back, or what comes next in this great city I love".

I'll tell you who knows; we do.

Spotify UK's 2012 accounts published, Imagine Dragons discuss royalties
Spotify's UK company has published its accounts for 2012, showing revenues of £92.6 million, a 4.1% drop year-on-year.

However, before everyone starts shouting "I told you so", Music Ally notes that the company has a pretty good explanation for this. Until May 2011, all Spotify's worldwide subscriptions were handled by the UK subsidiary. Since then, payments have been managed by the relevant local offices, meaning the UK branch now only accounts for British subscriptions.

In which case, only registering a 4.1% drop in revenues looks pretty good - even though Music Ally reckons that Spotify UK accounted for over 25% of the company's worldwide revenues last year.

Of course, the majority of those revenues were paid out to record companies and music publishers in royalties, though is the streaming service yet paying the rights owners and content creators enough? Well, as we know, some artists reckon not, and those artists have generally been the most vocal on this topic of late. Though another pro-Spotify singer has been speaking this week, to even things up a bit.

Speaking to Music Week, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds said of Spotify: "Have I seen [significant] money from it? No. I'm sure something's coming in, and that [long-term royalty build-up] takes time... but I don't think any artist out there feels like they're even making tonnes of money from iTunes or record sales. All sales of [recorded] music have gone down the drain. That's not where an artist is making their money. An artist is making their money at the live shows. And live shows mean everything to us - that's what we put all our time and our money back into. They're why we got into music in the first place".

He added: "It's a changing industry. I'm not saying I know for a fact that [streaming] will be the future of the industry, but I wouldn't say I'm adamantly against it ... These [platforms] - YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, whatever - are all mediums to bring people out to your show. Your music is something to give to someone like you would an invitation to come to your art studio. Does this interest you? Great, then come out to a live show and see what we're really about".


Deezer reportedly now planning US launch
Deezer will launch in the US next year, despite resisting entry into the biggest music market to date. Or at least that's what Digital Music News reckons in a post about the streaming service, and other gossipers are saying something similar, though there is some disagreement over whether this will happen in early, mid or late 2014.

I'm going for 17 Apr. Though if I'm being honest, I don't really care. DMN also reckons there have been talks between the streaming company and Microsoft about the IT giant possibly acquiring the digital music firm. Which I admit, would be quite interesting if it were to occur. However, it's thought any talks to date have been highly speculative.


Sonicbids founder steps down
The founder of Sonicbids, the website that provides both live opportunities and plenty of annoyance to bands everywhere, has stepped down from the company, following its previously reported acquisition at the start of the year by entertainment industry trade mag and casting site Backstage, now part of the Billboard Group.

Says Sonic man Panos Panay: "I'm proud of what we achieved at Sonicbids and very grateful to have worked with a team who shared my vision and passion to fundamentally transform the way new music is promoted around the world".

He goes on: "From a company that I started in my apartment, Sonicbids has grown into the industry standard for connecting bands and music promoters, contributing to the booking of nearly one million shows. It has democratised the process of musicians gaining access to diverse audiences, enabling people from over 100 countries to cross borders and touch audiences from different cultures to which they never would have had access otherwise. I feel like one of the lucky ones to have accomplished my dream with this company".

After confirming that Panay was departing the company, but would continue to advise in a consultancy capacity, Backstage boss John Amato said: "The success of Sonicbids is a tribute to the drive and entrepreneurial spirit of Panos. He has left us with a great foundation on which to continue to build. I look forward to continuing our relationship with Panos as an invaluable advisor".

Pitchfork launches weekly tablet magazine
Pitchfork has launched a new weekly site round-up for iOS devices, with an Android version to follow early next year. It arrives as a standalone app, rather than as part of Apple's Newstand store and app.

The magazine will round-up the week's best editorial content from the Pitchfork website, along with exclusive video content and podcasts. The idea is that it'll provide those who don't have time to sit refreshing the website every two minutes with easy access to what they're otherwise missing.

Download it from the Apple App Store here.

  Vigsy's Club Tip: Planetary Assault Systems at Fabric
Not the headline act for Saturday night at Fabric, but a major draw as far as I'm concerned, techno producer Luke Slater will be performing live as his alter ego Planetary Assault Systems. Absolutely not to be missed. He'll be in Room Two as part of the launch party for the latest release in the Fabric compilation series (number 73!), which was mixed by Ben Sims.

In the main room, you'll find Craig Richards going strong, having been headlining the Saturday residency since its inception, joined by Margaret Dygas, Nicolas Lultz and a live set from Brant Brauer Frick. And if you miss Nicolas Lutz there, you can catch him again headlining Toi Toi Musik's takeover of Room Three.

Fabric, 77a Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M 6HJ, 11pm-8am, £10-£24, more info here.
CLICK HERE to read and share online

Don Cheadle shopping Miles Davis biopic
Here's one for the biopic list, a Miles Davis film directed by and starring Don Cheadle of bad British accent fame. Set to begin filming in summer 2014, 'Kill The Trumpet Player' will also feature acting by Ewan McGregor and Zoe Saldana (as Davis' first wife Frances) and a script co-written by first-time director Cheadle and Steven Baigelman.

Speaking at the American Film Market recently, Cheadle revealed (via the Hollywood Reporter) that the film wasn't going to be a strictly 'realist' biopic, adding: "Let's kill that term, OK? I hope with this film we can kill the biopic. This film won't try to give a broad overview of Davis' life and give short shrift to this man's story".

Of the ending of his of the "silent period" in Davis' life the film is to focus on, ie the time he returned to recording following a stretch of self-imposed solitude, around 1979, Cheadle adds: "For us as creative people, the time of his life that was most interesting was the five years when he wasn't playing, when he was silent. What was going on in his mind? And how did he come out of it and return to music?"

Death Grips release free LP
Surprise! Rap rebel set Death Grips likely delighted their new-ish label, Universal's Capitol/Harvest, yesterday by releasing a free LP on the sly, on the internet. Its title is 'Government Plates', and all its eleven featured tracks are available, entirely free as a bird, via this link.

And this is one of those tracks, 'You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For It's Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat'. And, breathe.


Release round-up: Africa Express, Three Trapped Tigers, Angel Olsen, Little Mix
Well-travelled ensemble Africa Express will, on 9 Dec, present their first LP 'Maison Des Jeunes', a multinational mix which credits the likes of Nick Zinner, Damon Albarn, Two Inch Punch and Ghostpoet. Young singer Kankou Kouyaté, Tumbuktu group Songhoy Blues and Bamako-based talking drum band Doucoura all guest on the collection, which was recorded over the course of a week in Mali. Whilst it'll initially be released digitally, a tangible edition will follow via Transgressive in early 2014.

Marking its coming out, Songhoy Blues and Kankou Kouyaté will play live at a party on 9 Dec at London's Oval Space, where there'll also be DJ sets by Ghostpoet, Olugbenga and David Maclean. Click here to get tickets, here for more info on the project, and look here to see a clip documenting the Mali trip.

Next, Three Trapped Tigers have released a new EP to help save their namesake wild beasts (which hopefully are not trapped, and number more than three). Carrying three tracks, all dating back to the band's 2011 LP 'Route One Or Die', and all live-taped in a session at BeatCast Studio, it's available right this minute, with all pay-what-you-like donations going to WWF UK's Adopt A Tiger charity.

So go on, give the EP a good home by downloading it now.

And look, folk singer Angel Olsen has gone all 'rawk' and isn't sorry about it, as proven in 'Forgiven/Forgotten', the first song to come from her scorchio new LP, 'Burn Your Fire For No Witness'. Pending the John Congleton-produced latter's release via Jagjaguwar on 17 Feb 2014, hear 'Forgiven/Forgotten' here.

And finally, Little Mix have dipped into their grab bag of chart hits and picked up the instructive new video for their single 'Move'. Have a go at learning the 'Move' dance or, alternatively, don't, by hitting 'play' on this.

Festival line-up update: Eurosonic, Sweden Rock Festival, Desertfest and more
Hi festival-likers, here - getting straight to the point - is a delicious rundown of line-up additions recently made to Bugged Out Weekender, Desertfest, Eurosonic Noorderslag, FolkEast, Off The Tracks and Sweden Rock Festival.

Bon appétit:

BUGGED OUT WEEKENDER, Pontins, Southport, 7-9 Mar 2014: Ben Pearce, Carl Craig, Claude Von Stroke, Seth Troxler.

DESERTFEST, various venues, Camden, London, 25-27 Apr 2014: Black Rainbows, The Machine, Monkey 3, Grandloom, War Wolf.

EUROSONIC NOORDERSLAG, Groningen, Netherlands, 15-18 Jan 2014: Wild Beasts, MONEY, NoNoNo, The Limiñanas, Mariam The Believer, Alice Boman, Attwenger, Baby In Vain, Berndsen, Black Lizard, C+C=Maxigross, Charity Children, Circa Waves, Compact Disk Dummies, Dans Dans, Den Sorte Skole, Drenge, Electric Eye, Farao, Flying Horseman, Headbirds, Hermigervill, His Electro Blue Voice, Hozier, Hudson Taylor, Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Jungle, Kat Frankie, Larry Gus, Lowing, M+A, Madensuyu, Delago Handmade, Mighty Oaks, N'toko, Okta Logue, Owlle, Pablo Nouvelle, Pional, The Black Heart Rebellion, The Charm The Fury, The Wands, Tiger Bell, Train of Thoughts, Trippy Turtle.

FOLKEAST, Glenham Hall, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 15-17 Aug 2014: Bellowhead.

OFF THE TRACKS, Donington Park, Derbyshire, 23-25 May 2014: Jesus Jones, The Neville Staple Band.

SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL, Norje, Solvesborg, Sweden, 4-7 Jun 2014: Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, W.A.S.P., Emperor, Powerwolf, Robin Beck, Arch Enemy, Cloven Hoof, Y&T, Jaguar, Magnum, Uriah Heep, Phenomena, The Men They Couldn't Hang, Crowbar, Q5, Paul Dianno v Blaze Bayley, Electric Banana Band, Annihilator, Transatlantic, Monster Magnet, Sodom, Therion, Asphyx, The Rods, Thundermother, Dust Bowl Jokies, Five Horse Johnson, The Night Flight Orchestra, Eddie Meduza Lever.

Classic Rock unrolls the honours
So, Classic Rock did the award dishing out thing in London last night, and what a mighty fine time was had by all.

Well, I'm assuming so. I was watching old episodes of 'Torchwood' on Netflix last night and am now writing up this report on a commuter train from a press release. But hell, it was the Classic Rock Roll Of Honour Awards, of course everyone had a mighty fine time.

Someone is now looking at me in a "why is that guy using his laptop on a busy train at 6am in the morning" kind of way, so I'm going to throw to Classic Rock Editor In Chief Scott Rowley for a quote before unleashing the list of winners.

Rowley: "This year's winners are a who's-who of British pioneers, from Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, the Stones and Fleetwood Mac winning the popular vote to John Mayall, Mott The Hoople and Wilko Johnson honoured in our special awards. And with the Temperance Movement and Virginmarys coming through there's still hope for the future of British rock too".

Album Of The Year: Black Sabbath - 13
Reissue Of The Year: Fleetwood Mac - Rumours 35th Anniversary Edition
Band Of The Year: The Rolling Stones
Best New Band: The Temperance Movement
Breakthrough Award: Virginmarys
Event Of The Year: Black Sabbath go to number one
Film Of The Year: Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day

Classic Album: John Mayall - Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton
Outstanding Contribution: Mott the Hoople
The Living Legend Award: Black Sabbath
The Musicians' Union Maestro: James Dean Bradfield
Tommy Vance Inspiration Award: Rory Gallagher
VIP Award: Shep Gordon
Metal Guru: Zakk Wylde
Spirit Of Prog: Alex Lifeson
The Showmen: The Darkness
Innovator: Wilko Johnson


Art Vinyl Award shortlist announced
Covers on discs by Daft Punk, Sweet Baboo, Paul McCartney and Babyshambles have all been shortlisted for this year's Best Vinyl Art prize, which will be awarded on 3 Jan. The 50 chosen sleeves - listed here - are open to a people's vote, and include pieces by artist Damien Hurst, designer/photog Hedi Slimane, and DIY visuals by acts like These New Puritans, Goldfrapp and Edwyn Collins.

Summing up the award's significance, Best Art Vinyl boss Andrew Heeps says: "For the past eight years we have celebrated the artistic value of record covers through the award, enabling us to get a snapshot of public opinion on record sleeve art. It's a unique opportunity to discover new artists in the broadest sense and reflect on new work by some of the now great masters of the art world".

2012's winner was the image on The Temper Trap's eponymous LP, whilst previous prizes have been given to Muse's 'The 2nd Law', Keane's 'Strangeland' and Tom Yorke's The Eraser'.

Michael Eavis pictured nude
For charity. It's all for charity. 'It' being this picture of a naked Glastonbury chief Michael Eavis, who is 'Mr June' in Macmillan Cancer Support's new 'Legends Of Somerset 2014' calendar. And don't worry, he's holding some shorts over his erm... green field site.

Chatting to eFestivals, photographer Jason Bryant says: "The photo was taken two weeks ago, he said yes straight away. The shoot took five minutes because he was such a great model. It was shot in the stone circle in autumn sunshine, and we both laughed throughout the whole shoot - it was good fun! A good model always makes a good pic, and this is the best pic ever!"

'Legends Of Somerset 2014' is on sale at various places in the city of Wells.


CMU Beef Of The Week #182: Lily Allen v (Insert your own perception here)
Lily Allen is back. And she has returned with what we now come to expect of her: an easy to digest critique of modern pop culture in the form of a pop song. So, hooray for that. Or not, depending on which side of the massively polarised internet you sit.

Actually, Allen has done something quite impressive and managed to have two big comebacks in the space of a week. First she provided the soundtrack for the Christmas advert of a department store, which for some reason everyone has decided is now a thing (the Mirror even live-blogged online reaction to the advert as it debuted on ITV, this is the world we live in now).

I've not seen the advert, because I'm not about to start seeking out adverts on purpose. And I've not heard the song Lily provided for it either, because I can't see how anyone could possibly turn that Keane song into something I would enjoy listening to. Especially if it's on cheesy a Christmas advert. Also, the mere mention of Keane makes me think of David Cameron, but that's a whole other thing.

So, while you might think I've missed to pop culture moment of the year, I'm quite happy to live a life where I don't get excited about adverts or Keane songs (except that one they did that I liked).

Anyway, the pop culture event of 2013 has actually been the ongoing advancement of misogyny in pop and the battle to beat it back with endlessly repetitive opinion pieces (or 'open letters' as now all articles and blog posts expressing an opinion are known). This has not passed Lily Allen by, despite the fact that she's been working hard in the studio in between nipping down the bank to pay in cheques from major high street shops.

And so it is that her proper 'comeback' came in the form of 'Hard Out Here', the first single from her new album. The accompanying video opens with Lily undergoing liposuction, as her manager and the surgeon discuss how she's 'let herself go'. She then explains through the medium of song that she won't be singing about her cars, chains, or her sex life, and she definitely won't be shaking her arse, despite the pressure put upon women in music to do so, which all makes it "hard out here for a bitch".

It's not subtle, but Lily Allen rarely is, and she makes valid points all round about the way women are often portrayed in the world of pop. The song also lampoons the use of Autotune. Well I think so, anyway. I can't think of any other reason for it being so liberally and badly applied to the song's already quite weak pre-chorus.

As the video for the track continues, Lily and six dancers gyrate around a car, waggle chains, endorse e-cigarettes and Beats speakers, pour champagne on arses, and generally show up all the tropes of a modern music video. Sometimes in a way that seems like parody, sometimes in a way that just seems like, well, a modern music video. There's also the announcement via the medium of balloons (mimicking a similar scene in Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' video) that "Lily Allen has a baggy pussy".

I don't doubt that Allen and video director Chris Sweeney's intentions for the video were admirable - particularly as, for the most part, it comes across a bit like a French & Saunders sketch. But then again, when taking against something, you get onto shaky ground when it's not always clear exactly where the parody is in your parody. It does, at times, feel like the video is saying, "Close-ups of twerking arse cheeks are bad and objectify women. I mean, just look at this close-up of some twerking arse cheeks. In slow motion. For a while... Hey, I wonder what they'd look like with champagne pouring on them!"

Nonetheless, the track and its video were met, at least initially, mostly positively. Lily Allen was back, which is a thing people wanted. And here was a popstar taking a stand against the pressures placed on women by her own industry, which is a thing people wanted, and wanted of Lily Allen. It was only later that the dissenting voices grew louder, in particular those suggesting that the video might just be a bit racist.

One blogger, BlackinAsia, noted that while Miley Cyrus is routinely called out for co-opting black culture and objectifying black women in her videos, Allen seemed to have got a free pass with hers because it's a 'parody' - the dancers in her video being mostly, though not exclusively, black.

While arguably this element of the video is also intended as parody, hence its inclusion, there's also all that slow-mo and champagne I mentioned. And you could also question why it is that only 'urban' music videos are taken to task in Allen's political piss take, when plenty of other music videos sidestep cars and twerking and still manage to ramp up the misogyny.

BlackinAsia writes: "The video is meant to be a critique and satire of popular culture and manages some deserved jabs at Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' videos among others, but in the end it just reduces itself down to elevating Lily Allen's white female body and objectifying and utterly denigrating those of the black female dancers she deliberately surrounds herself with from start to finish".

In conclusion, he says: "There is an incredibly valid critique to be made about hip hop culture and music videos which consistently demean black women, but to ignore her enormous privilege as a white woman and engage in exactly the same racist, degrading objectifying fuckery as Miley Cyrus is disgusting to say the least. I keep asking myself when will white people learn, when will they stop degrading my sisters under the auspices of being 'progressive', and when will they stop lauding shit like this as 'saving pop music', but the depths and depravity of racism don't make any sense, especially in the context of the racialised anti-black misogyny that black women face every single day".

In response, Allen said via a post on TwitLonger: "If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they're wrong. If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of the colour of their skin, they're wrong. The message is clear. Whilst I don't want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all".

Director Chris Sweeney also denied any claims of racism in an interview with Noisey, saying: "We just chose the best dancers. Suzette who choreographed it is an amazing dancer herself, she does the Major Lazer tour and things, and we said we want twerking dancers and so we got the six best. Four of the girls are black, two of them weren't and I felt that was a good balance in the sense that I didn't want to comment on race, but it was just who was good".

He added: "There are hundreds of girls who are in those [type of] videos and they come to the castings without getting told what they're doing beforehand, they just have to walk in on the day and shake their arse. With this video we spoke to the girls in the casting, we talked about what we were doing and they all thought it was really funny ... They all stuck around after we'd finished and hung out and became really good mates with Lily and stuff. The whole thing from the beginning was that it was sisterly. If you notice the manager in the video is never talking only to Lily, he's always addressing the girls and Lily as one. It's not her standing at the front saying 'look what these girls have to do'. It's her saying 'look what WE all have to do' and I think that was really important".

Which is all well and good, though that does sound rather similar to the defence of the 'Blurred Lines' video given by its director Diane Martel, who claimed the women in her pop promo were "subtly ridiculing" (the fully clothed) Thicke, Pharell and TI with their nudity. So does that mean that the 'Hard Out Here' video is actually a parody of a parody? Who knows. But what we do know is that a lot of people watched them both, and then some people wrote lengthy opinion pieces about them. So, perhaps music and journalism at large are the real winners here. Or perhaps not.

You have to wonder what would happen if the video for 'Windowlicker' by Aphex Twin came out today, it having done pretty much exactly what Lily Allen has just done nearly fifteen years ago.

ANDY MALT | Editor
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