An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Monday 3 March 2014

TODAY'S TOP STORY: There has been chatter in label circles for sometime that Amazon is plotting a streaming service, and last week speculation that the leading online retailer could soon launch a Spotify competitor (or "Spotify killer", as some prefer to call it) widened, though it doesn't seem likely said launch is actually any closer now than it has been for while. Last week Amazon did rebrand its video... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Rising up from the murk of the SWAYs Records label, dripping in 'Twin Peaks'-ish pond slime, it's lo-fi pop flotsam Bernard + Edith, a kind of Manc Hype Williams for our time. The opium-shot title song from the duo's first single 'Poppy', which will drop down on 31 Mar (fixed to B and C-sides 'Eyes On You' and 'Spell On You'), looks and sounds somehow horribly wrong, like something turned inside-out so its... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Speculation widens about Amazon streaming service
Trends report - 'A recovering record industry?'
LEGAL Steely Dan man sues over SoundExchange royalties
Dappy charged with assault
Former Pearl Jam finance man jailed
DEALS BMG acquires Hal David catalogue
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Beady Eye part company with management
MARKETING & PR Drake parts ways with PR firm following Rolling Stone tantrum
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES BRITs reports on YouTube and Facebook action for this year's event
RELEASES Release Round-Up: Lykke Li, Bok Bok feat Kelela, Sky Ferreira and PAWS
GIGS & FESTIVALS Festival Line-Up Update: Bestival, Camp Bestival, Sziget and more
AWARDS GIT Award shortlist announced
Oscar wins for Price, Lopez and Lopez
The Knife take the Nordic Music Prize
AND FINALLY... Length of The Wanted's hiatus may be long or short
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Speculation widens about Amazon streaming service
There has been chatter in label circles for sometime that Amazon is plotting a streaming service, and last week speculation that the leading online retailer could soon launch a Spotify competitor (or "Spotify killer", as some prefer to call it) widened, though it doesn't seem likely said launch is actually any closer now than it has been for while.

Last week Amazon did rebrand its video streaming service in Europe, bringing LoveFilm Instant in line with its US counterpart, so that it's now simply called Instant Video, or technically Amazon Prime Instant Video, because the streaming set up is being bundled in with the retailer's added-value (mainly free next-day delivery) customer club.

All of which would make the addition of an Amazon Prime Instant Music add-on as part of the same package neater from a branding point of view. And according to re/code, talks have been ongoing for a few months now between Amazon and the labels about licensing a streaming music service. Though, unsurprisingly, price is a sticking point.

Like Apple, when it licensed its iTunes Radio service, Amazon isn't so keen on paying the same rates as the heavily-financed loss-making start ups in the streaming audio space. But the labels aren't especially keen on giving Amazon too much of an advantage over Spotify et al, the money coming in from the standalone streaming firms being an increasingly important revenue stream for the record companies.

Amazon has indicated that it's willing to increase the price of its Prime service at it beefs up the customer club offering. Indeed the price in Europe technically went up last week, in that you can no longer get Prime without the streaming video option, and with video added in the annual fee is £30 higher. Meanwhile in the US the retailer has indicated it might increase the Prime subscription there to about $10 a month.

Though, that's still the same as the monthly premium rate for the standalone streaming music platforms (the ones that offer fully on demand functionality), and if Amazon wanted to offer video, music, ebooks and free delivery for Prime users - which it sounds like it might - then it's not going to be able to set aside 70% of the revenue for just the record companies and music publishers, as Spotify et al basically do.

Presumably Amazon will be telling the labels that, because of its existing massive customer reach, not to mention its dabblings in the hardware space, it is equipped to take streaming content mass-market in a way the start-ups cannot. The etailer may also be insisting that its streaming service could result in the upselling of CDs and downloads, though Apple said the same (re downloads anyway) about iTunes Radio, and all indications suggest the track sale up sell there has not been overly impressive.

But, it has to be said, there is a strong argument that the mass market subscription music service everyone aspires to create possibly can't be achieved by just providing audio, ie ultimately we're heading to a place where all the key subscription content platforms offer music, film and TV content on-demand. And if that's right, Amazon is a definite contender to lead that market.


Trends report - 'A recovering record industry?'
Recent figures from record industry trade bodies around Europe suggest that a new found optimism that emerged in the recorded music market about a year ago remains as we move through 2014. And much has been made of late about the role streaming services are playing in the recovery of the recorded music income stream, and the renewed optimism that is creating at the labels.

Though, in a CMU Digest report at the start of the year, Business Editor Chris Cooke noted: "Perhaps the key here is multiple revenue streams. Labels are reviving their fortunes by monetising their content - records and videos - in more ways than ever before, recognising that no one revenue stream is the assured winner, and that revenue types will vary greatly from act to act, and market to market".

You can now read this trends piece from January - 'A Recovering Record Industry?' - on the CMU site at this link. And to receive a monthly overview of key trends in the music business, sign up to the new CMU Digest premium service. Providing a weekly news digest and monthly trends report, a CMU Digest subscription is just £4.99 a month, though the special introductory rate - £29 for the year - is still available for a very limited time. Click here to sign up.

Steely Dan man sues over SoundExchange royalties
A different kind of digital royalties legal squabble for you now, with the news that David Palmer, an early member of Steely Dan, is suing his former bandmates over SoundExchange income.

Palmer only worked with the band for a couple of years, but contributed to their first two albums, providing lead vocals on two tracks on the debut. And he says that, according to a 1972 contract, he is due a sixth of any artist royalties generated by the recordings on which he appears.

But, Palmer seems to allege, his former band may have not been honouring that agreement when it comes to the royalties paid out by the American collective licensing body SoundExchange, which collects monies from Sirius XM and many of the Pandora-style streaming music services in the US, and pays it on to copyright owners and featured artists.

It seems Palmer only discovered he was due payments from SoundExchange last year, and until now the rights body has been paying the whole featured artist royalty on Palmer-featuring Steely Dan tracks to the band's company SDI. But in these scenarios, it seems that SoundExchange would actually rather pay Palmer his cut directly, and that has now been set up for future royalties.

But Palmer is now seeking his cut of past SoundExchange monies. His lawsuit says that SDI has paid him around $8000 relating to 2012/2013 royalties, but he now wants accounts for all the band's SoundExchange income since 2000 so he can claim what he thinks he is still due. He is also suing for breach of contract and breach of implied covenant of good faith.

Steely Dan are yet to respond to the litigation.


Dappy charged with assault
One time N-Dubber Dappy was charged with assault last week after an alleged altercation outside the Chicago's nightclub in Chelmsford. Exotic, no?

Despite tweeting that his appearance at the venue last week was a "great night" and that the "crowd was amazing", later he was charged with assault by beating. Exactly what occurred isn't clear, but the rapper has been bailed pending an initial court hearing date. What is it with N-Dubz members and Chelmsford?

Elsewhere in Dappy news, it appears that the N-Dubz man was, in fact, facing a threat of bankruptcy late last year, but said threat was withdrawn after he paid a £140,000 tax bill.

The rapper denied the bankruptcy rumours on Twitter in December, though given he may already have been in the process of paying off his Inland Revenue debts at that point, the denial was technically true.


Former Pearl Jam finance man jailed
Pearl Jam's former financial officer was jailed for fourteen months last week after admitting in a Seattle court late last year that he embezzled $380,000 of the band's money.

As previously reported, Rickey Goodrich joined Pearl Jam Touring Co in 2005 as accountant and financial manager, a year later moving to the group's management company Curtis Management to oversee all financial matters relating to Pearl Jam's touring activity and fan club. He was fired in September 2010, after the theft of $380,000 from the band's accounts was uncovered by a private investigator hired by the company to look into "cash flow issues" the previous year.

The jail term is at the upper end of what prosecutors had called for, even though Goodrich has started to pay the stolen funds back, though he still owes over half the money he took from the band. The former accounts man was given two weeks to sort out his affairs before starting his jail term.

BMG acquires Hal David catalogue
BMG announced it had acquired the publishing catalogue of pop songwriting legend Hal David on Friday. Although the music rights firm didn't reveal what it had paid for the catalogue, reports suggest the deal was worth $42 million, making it a significant purchase, especially for BMG, which has generally been conservative in its bidding, despite being very acquisitive.

Confirming the acquisition, BMG's Laurent Hubert told CMU: "The music of Hal David is sewn into the fabric of American culture. His timeless songs have the ability to immediately evoke emotion from music fans and will be appreciated for decades to come. David's work has left a lasting impact and will continue to be sampled and covered throughout time. We are honoured to be entrusted with his catalogue and support his legacy going forward".

Meanwhile David's son Jim told reporters: "I am confident BMG is the right home for Hal David's beloved body of work. It is clear the team will work passionately to promote and protect his music while bringing his songs to future generations of new fans".

Beady Eye part company with management
Liam Gallagher's Beady Eye have parted ways with their manager, Quest Management's Scott Rodger. Unlike Noel Gallagher's post-Oasis project, which is managed by the same team as Oasis itself at Ignition, Liam and the rest of Beady Eye worked with new management.

Rodger says that the band have just reached the end of their most recent album cycle, and the completion of his management agreement with the outfit, and that all parties have therefore decided now is a good time for a change.

Speaking to NME, Rodger said: "Beady Eye are one of the last great British rock bands. It has been a pleasure to have worked with them on this album campaign. They are in complete control of their future as a band, with many exciting new projects on the horizon. We've just about reached the end of the 'BE' album cycle and it's the right time for the band to make a change".

He added: "Our paths will cross again in the future, I'm sure. I wish them continued success in everything they do".

Drake parts ways with PR firm following Rolling Stone tantrum
Drake's ill-thought-through outburst over that Rolling Stone cover has resulted in him parting company with his US PR reps ID-PR, or so reports Billboard.

As previously reported, Drake publicly slated the mag for swapping out his planned RS cover story at the last minute, in favour of an article on late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who of course died of a drug overdose last month.

In a series of shortlived tweets since deleted, Drake said: "I'm disgusted with that. RIP to Phillip Seymour Hoffman. All respect due. But the press is evil", later adding: "I'm done doing interviews for magazines. I just want to give my music to the people. That's the only way my message gets across accurately".

Though he did counter that early petulance with a more measured blog post, citing the situation as a chance to "earn and grow", the damage to his 'rep' was pretty well wreaked by that stage. And, it seems, it convinced ID-PR that they should part company from Drizzy.

According to Billboard, it was the publicity company which took the decision to drop the rapper from their books, only a year into their partnership.

Though ID ended the alliance with a positive parting statement, noting: "Drake is an incredibly talented artist and we're proud of our results for 'Nothing Was The Same' and Would You Like A Tour? We wish him the best".

BRITs reports on YouTube and Facebook action for this year's event
TV ratings may have been down for this year's BRIT Awards, but the award bash's official YouTube channel has received 15.7 million views since the launch of the event's 2014 marketing campaign on 28 Nov last year. And that, BRIT owner The BPI say, is 19% up on the 2013 awards, while 76% of the views this time came from outside the UK, part of the BRITs' ambition to become a big fat global brand.

Elsewhere in BRITs online stats, 7,460,658 people have tuned in to official BRITs coverage on YouTube since this year's awards ceremony began, double the audience in 2013, while official BRITs content on Facebook reached over 30 million people this year. How very modern. And none of this online interaction includes the massive Twitter activity that took place on the day of the BRIT Awards as the nation fully embraced the "slag off awards sponsor Mastercard over their demands of journalists" craze.

Commenting on all these digital shenanigans, BRITs Chairman and former Warner Music UK boss Christian Tattersfield told CMU: "We're pleased to have achieved our aim of making this the most interactive BRIT Awards ever and working with fantastic digital partners to increase the worldwide reach of the show. The response from fans across those platforms has been extremely positive and underscores the enduring appeal of the BRITs experience as it continues to evolve with its audience".

Meanwhile BPI boss man Geoff Taylor added: "Our strategic vision is to develop the BRITs into a global entertainment brand that will showcase British music around the world. The partnership with YouTube is a key element in bringing this about, and I am delighted with the viewing numbers and the record level of social interaction that we have seen over the past few days. This is a great platform from which to build next year".

  Approved: Bernard + Edith
Rising up from the murk of the SWAYs Records label, dripping in 'Twin Peaks'-ish pond slime, it's lo-fi pop flotsam Bernard + Edith, a kind of Manc Hype Williams for our time.

The opium-shot title song from the duo's first single 'Poppy', which will drop down on 31 Mar (fixed to B and C-sides 'Eyes On You' and 'Spell On You'), looks and sounds somehow horribly wrong, like something turned inside-out so its stitches show. Building its one trick hook on a silt of strobing synths and grimy gong chimes, it's the muddied English cousin to Chairlift's 'Garbage', which I guess implies it's pretty much the dirtiest thing going.

If you don't care for the thought of what it'd look like if art youth Edith's dressing up box were to blow up all over her, don't click here.
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Release Round-Up: Lykke Li, Bok Bok feat Kelela, Sky Ferreira and PAWS
Hej. And all hail Sweden's finest Lykke Li, who only last week trailed a trailer trailing her new LP, 'I Never Learn', the third curve in a kind of life-narrative that began with 'Youth Novels' and 'Wounded Rhymes'. 'I Never Learn', which, Lykke has said via NME, siphons its ideas from "the guilt and the shame and the hurt and the pride and the confusion" she feels as a woman in her mid-twenties (right girls?), will be released internationally on 5 May. Take what you will from its trailer, which features a mystery track, here.

Speaking of featuring, R&B lady Kelala does that on a new track by Bok Bok, titled 'Melba's Call'. A facet of bass DJ Bok Bok's first solo EP, which is coming soon on his Night Slugs imprint, it'll be released as a single on 31 Mar. Hear 'Melba's Call' here.

Now, to grimy pop waif Sky Ferreira, who last Wednesday gave her blessing to an unreleased track of hers that'd been leaked titled 'Rancid Girl', saying at the time: "Leaks usually bother me but I actually like 'Rancid Girl' so that's... cool?" Yeah, it is cool, and in the same style as Sky's greatly unappreciated 2012 B-side 'Sad Dream'. And no wonder it's so cool, it's a co-write c/o Cass McCombs, Jon Brion and Blake Mills, a holy trinity of pop. Anyway, this is 'Rancid Girl'.

And spoili... sorry, 'diversifying' this all-girl pajama party, it's a trio of BOYS who make sturdy and buoyant pop-rock songs as PAWS. The band have put out 'Tongues' a taster of their forthcoming album 'Youth Culture Forever', which is due on 2 Jun. And you just have to listen to it, because it's good. Do so now.

Festival Line-Up Update: Bestival, Camp Bestival, Sziget and more
Today's main festival scoop (or scoops, rather) involves Bestival and its kid-friendly little sister event, Camp Bestival. The latter has hired De La Soul as its Saturday night headliners, playing beside the likes of Basement Jaxx, James, Johnny Marr and Laura Mvula. Meanwhile Bestival confirmed the line-up for The Port part of its programme, which is always fun.

Details on all that, plus the latest updates to listings at Hungary's Sziget, Devon's Goldcoast OceanFest and the Osborne Summer Concerts, are as written...

BESTIVAL, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight, 4-7 Sep: Sven Vath, Chase & Status DJs, Damian Lazarus, Boys Noize, Eats Everything, Bella Sarris, South London Ordnance, Rob da Bank, Annie Mac, Green Velvet, 1-800 Dinosaur (feat James Blake, Dan Foat, Airhead, and Mr Assister), Route94, Bicep, Richy Ahmed, Krystal Klear, Monki, Andy C, Wilkinson, Loadstar (feat MCs 2 Shy, Adapt, and MC Jakes), Jaguar Skills, Gorgon City, Dusky, Kaytranada, Ame, Dense & Pika.

CAMP BESTIVAL, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, 31 Jul - 3 Aug: De La Soul.

GLASS BUTTER BEACH, Crugan Farm, Llanbedrog, Cardigan Bay, 15-16 Aug: Stylo G, Wilkinson, Norman Jay, Chasing Grace, Marie Naffah, Jefferson Duke.

GOLDCOAST OCEANFEST, Croyde bay, Devon, 20-22 Jun: Hudson Taylor, Wille And The Bandits, King Charles, Cosmo Jarvis, Jack Savoretti.

OSBORNE SUMMER CONCERTS, Osborne House, East Cowes, Isle Of Wight, 26-27 Jul: Tom Jones, Little Mix.

SPORTBEAT, Oxtalls Sports Park, Tewkesbury, 7-8 Jun: Razorlight.

SZIGET, Margit-sziget, Budapest, 11-18 Aug: The Prodigy, Lily Allen, Palma Violets, La Roux, Ska-P, Miles Kane, Bonobo, Kavinsky, Fink, Jagwar Ma.

GIT Award shortlist announced
Organisers of the GIT Award, which celebrates musical talent on Merseyside, have announced the shortlist for this year's prize. And the shortlisted bands are: All We Are, Circa Waves, Dan Croll, Evian Christ, Ex-Easter Island Head, Forest Swords, Mad Brains, Ninetails, Outfit, Bill Ryder-Jones, Tea Street Band and VEYU.

Says GIT Award founder Peter Guy: "The 2014 GIT Award reaffirms my belief that there's no region in the UK that can match the artistic ambition, technical craft and musical innovation that's currently unfolding across Merseyside. Each of the artists on this year's shortlist have garnered international press and radio while entertaining sell out audiences in Tokyo, South Africa, Sydney, New York and almost the entirety of Europe - and yet, most exciting of all, the majority are in their infancy".

The overall winner will be announced on 11 Apr at Liverpool venue The Kazimier.


Oscar wins for Price, Lopez and Lopez
So, who won a musical Oscar last night? By which I mean who won an Academy Award for their musical efforts. The award doesn't play a tune when you lift it up. Though you'd think by 2014 they'd probably do that, wouldn't you?

Anyway, it was the Oscars last night, which are basically the Oscars of the film world, and on the music side songwriting couple Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez took the Best Original Song prize for their tune 'Let It Go' from the Disney flick 'Frozen', while Steven Price got Best Original Score for composing the music to 'Gravity'.

As for the rest of this year's winners at Hollywood's big back-slapping bash, well, that's definitely outside the remit of music news, so I'm not allowed to tell you.


The Knife take the Nordic Music Prize
Elsewhere in prize-giving this weekend was the presentation of the Nordic Music Prize, celebrating the best album to hark from somewhere Nordic, and presented on the final day of the by:Larm festival. And the winner was... The Knife for 'Shaking The Habitual'.

Confirming that, the judging committee said in a statement: "This year's winner of the Nordic Music Prize is radical on so many levels. Lyrically, visually, musically and politically. It's a brave and challenging work".

They went on: "Both dazzlingly contemporary and totally uncompromising, the artists in question have themselves described this record as 'playing with people's time and attention spans - in an era when nobody seems to have any'. 'Shaking The Habitual' is much more than a collection of songs, it's a complete statement".

Length of The Wanted's hiatus may be long or short
The Wanted's looming hiatus will last a long time. Or possibly a short time. But probably a long time. Or maybe only a few minutes.

As previously reported, the boyband announced earlier this year that they would be taking a break in order to pursue solo endeavours after their upcoming tour. Speaking about this, the group's Nathan Sykes told Maximum Pop: "It could be a long break or it could be quite a short one, but it's probably going to be quite a lengthy one if I'm honest. Obviously you never know what's gonna happen in the future. We might go out for a couple of drinks, and in a few minutes' time say 'Well actually, we'd all like to get back in the studio' so you never know what's gonna happen".

His bandmate Max George admitted to The Sun earlier this year that tensions within the band had led to the decision to take time off: "Over the past year there has been a lot of tension. Our personal lives drove us apart. Things started to happen and we were drifting. We used to be such a brotherly pact, but it started to feel like it wasn't The Wanted anymore".

So I guess that means the length of the break will depend on how long it takes to ruin their personal lives.

ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletin 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 | Co-Publisher, Business Editor & Insights Director
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business, and is MD of CMU publisher UnLimited Media.
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ALY BARCHI | Staff Writer
Aly reports on artist news, coordinates the festival, gig and release round up columns, and contributes to the CMU Approved column. She also writes for CMU's sister title ThisWeek London.
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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, plus helps manage and deliver the CMU Insights training courses and consultancy services.
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Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of UnLimited Media 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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