An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Thursday 22 May 2014

TODAY'S TOP STORY: Reps for the independent label community are currently locked in negotiations with YouTube over the Google platform's audio streaming ambitions, following mounting criticism of the web giant's negotiating tactics. The growing YouTube backlash in the music sector has been palpable in recent months, to the extent that German collecting society GEMA, long-time critics of the video platform... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Around since 2006, Amen Dunes (who's just the one mound of a man, Damon McMahon) has released three LPs to date, 2009's cloistered 'DIA', 2011's farther-reaching 'Through Donkey Jaw', and latterly 'Love', which coasted in on the wind last week. A wide, rangy sprawl of labour, loss and longing, 'Love' has him curling his tongue around the most forlorn, the most worldly, the most faded, lonely... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Indie labels in talks with YouTube after criticism of the web giant's negotiating tactics
Spotify tops ten million paying users
LEGAL NMPA sues two lyric websites
DEALS Transgressive signs Canadian band Alvvays
ENTERTAINMENT RETAIL HMV and WH Smith come bottom in high street retailer survey
BRANDS & MERCH Sony Xperia confirms talent search, giving away a single deal
MARKETING & PR Karen Millar launching Hook & Line PR
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Former PRS man to head up dance sector's trade body
OBITUARIES Good Charlotte's Madden Brothers go solo
RELEASES Brian Eno and Karl Hyde make a virtual reality app
GIGS & FESTIVALS Bez's anti-fracking festival to feature Happy Mondays (and Toyah!)
Festival Line-Up Update: Latitude, Benicassim, Rewire and more
AND FINALLY... Andrew WK to speak to Oxford Union
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Indie labels in talks with YouTube after criticism of the web giant's negotiating tactics
Reps for the independent label community are currently locked in negotiations with YouTube over the Google platform's audio streaming ambitions, following mounting criticism of the web giant's negotiating tactics.

The growing YouTube backlash in the music sector has been palpable in recent months, to the extent that German collecting society GEMA, long-time critics of the video platform, must be feeling uber-smug around about now.

Although the YouTube video platform is a revenue generator for the labels and publishers, with signed-up rights owners getting a cut of ad revenue, the per-play monies paid by the Google platform are tiny compared to most other streaming set-ups.

Which is irritating for the labels in itself, but all the more so as the other streaming services tell the music rights companies that the dominance of a free-to-access YouTube is hindering their ability to sign up subscribers, especially in the youth market.

Though it is that market dominance - YouTube is by far the biggest streaming music service, and an incredibly important marketing platform for the industry - that has put the labels in a tricky position with regards any attempts to negotiate up royalty payments. YouTube definitely needs the music content, but then the labels definitely need YouTube.

Though at the recent MusicTank event on the streaming sector it was noted that YouTube's widely known ambitions to become a fully fledged streaming service, with full-catalogue audio streaming alongside the more haphazardly provided videos, provides an opportunity, in that the balance of power was temporarily tipped in the labels' favour.

Unless, Beggars Group's digital supremo Simon Wheeler noted, the majors did deals favourable to them in the short term, allowing YouTube to try and strong-arm everyone else into the party. And while I'm not saying Wheeler is psychic or anything (I guess he's just seen how the big tech guys do business many times before), you do sense something not altogether unlike that scenario has subsequently occurred.

Certainly the indies are not impressed with the deal that has been put on the table by YouTube for its new streaming platform, nor the 'take it or leave it' approach, nor the implication that failing to sign up could result in holdout labels' content being blocked across the wider YouTube platform. You know, the content that helped Google transform YouTube from the home of cats falling off TVs into the biggest content network in the world.

The indie music community was preparing to go public with its anger and frustration over YouTube's negotiating tactics overnight - with statements actually going live on some news services in Asia and Australia - but the Google platform stepped in at the last minute in a bid to placate the labels. Though withdrawing any talk of labels' existing YouTube content being blocked in retaliation for not signing up to the new service will almost certainly be a prerequisite before any placating can begin.

It's believed talks between YouTube and the indies - which presumably also involves indie label digital rights group Merlin, though it was unable to comment - are now ongoing. It remains to be seen how things progress.


Spotify tops ten million paying users
Spotify had been quiet on its user-figures since March 2013, when it declared 6 million paying customers of its subscription streaming service. The time lag for new figures was generally assumed to be part of a plan to hold off until the big "10 million paying users" announcement could be made, and that turns out to be true.

In that the streaming music company yesterday issued that stat, telling the world it now has over 40 million active users, of which 10 million are signed up to one of its premium subscription packages. That means it has added 4 million paying users since March last year, and doubled its paying customer base since the end of 2012.

Numerous tel co partnerships and other marketing tie ups, such as that with The Times in the UK, will have helped in that jump, and the service's geographical reach has more than doubled over that period too, bringing more early-adopter customers into the fold.

But the latest stats reconfirm Spotify as a leader in the streaming space, certainly on a global basis. Though the streaming market at large remains challenging, with long-term profitability still not assured for any of the major players.

And while Spotify's stats and growth rates are impressive, they are still arguably some way off the size of customer base they need to become a viable business in the long-term. Though for Spotify, for now, the much mooted IPO - that many expect to occur in the next year - is probably a higher priority. And in that domain, these figures will very much help in the courtship of Wall Street.

Meanwhile, Spotify top man Daniel Ek: "We've had an amazing year, growing from 20 markets to 56 as people from around the world embrace streaming music. 10 million subscribers is an important milestone for both Spotify and the entire music industry".

NMPA sues two lyric websites
The US music publishing sector's trade group, the National Music Publishers Association, has confirmed it has begun legal action against two lyric websites which it says continue to prolifically publish lyrics without licence.

Although the online distribution of lyrics online without licences from the music publishers has been an issue for years, the NMPA has ramped up its efforts in this regard of late, targeting in particular those entities that seem to have built pretty good ad-funded businesses around their copyright infringing websites.

Rap Genius was high on the target list last year, but it has subsequently started doing deals with the US publishers, including the NMPA itself. But similar efforts to do deals with some of the other lyric sites have not gone so well, resulting in the litigation against and

Confirming his organisation was now going legal against these two sites, NMPA President David Israelite told reporters: "Litigation is a last step. Our goal is to insure that lyric sites and songwriters become partners through licensing. This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally. We are targeting sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior, which impacts a songwriter's ability to make a living".

Transgressive signs Canadian band Alvvays
Basically, hazy Canadian five-piece Alvvays are "uber happy" to have signed with Transgressive Records, who'll release their very first LP over on this side of the Atlantic sea.

Sharing the same name as the band, 'Alvvays', which was produced by the most high Chad Vangaalen and mixed by the Sonic Youth-collaborating John Agnello and Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh, is coming out on 21 Jul.

Hear its already-released lead single 'Archie, Marry Me', and see it listed amid the LP's tracklisting, here:

Adult Diversion
Archie, Marry Me
Ones Who Love You
Next Of Kin
Party Police
The Agency Group
Atop A Cake
Red Planet

HMV and WH Smith come bottom in high street retailer survey
Oh come on people, what happened to all the HMV love that was unleashed when we all thought the disc seller was heading to the high street in the sky?

The entertainment retailer has come third from bottom in a Which? survey of 12,500 shoppers in which they were asked to rate high street chains on various criteria, including overall satisfaction and how likely they were to recommend a store to friends.

HMV were third from bottom in the list of one hundred stores, ahead of only Homebase and one-time music seller WH Smith. Yep, Smiths came bottom; you'd think that with the hipster-led cassette revival, that 1980s-esque shopping experience WH Smiths offers consumers would be back in fashion. That's probably unfair, I've not been in a Smiths in years - but the Catford branch used to be pretty grim.

Anyway, Smiths itself reckons that the nature of Which?'s survey goes against them. The company said in a statement: "This exercise is very misleading as WH Smith does not fit into any of the survey categories, while products like newspapers and magazines are not those that customers would 'recommend' a retailer for".

It went on: "The 104 customers that [specifically] commented on WH Smith in this survey are not reflective of the 12 million customers that visit our stores each week, where our own independent survey of over a thousand customers continues to rate us highly".

If you're interested in the three highest scoring retailers, they were Lush, Disney Store and Richer Sounds. Last year's overall winner, the Apple Store, slipped to thirteenth place. They need to start selling blank cassettes and walkmans to win back those hipsters.

Sony Xperia confirms talent search, giving away a single deal
Sony Mobile's Xperia line has allied with Talenthouse, a website that aims to enable creative collaboration and all that shizzle, for a new talent search for the 'next big thing' in pop. Oh yes. One of them.

Open to soloists, bands and musicians of a pop and/or "indie, rock, EDM, hip-hop, R&B or singer-songwriter" persuasion, aged 18 and over, the online/on-phone competition's end prize is a "digital single deal" with Sony Music UK, with "options" for an LP release too. So that's nice.

Acts are invited to upload an original track, via this site, by 8 Jul. Tracks will then be deliberated over by the likes of Epic A&R/co-MD Steven Melrose, Columbia Records' Head Of Radio Sam Potts and Syco strategist Genevieve Ampaduh, who'll also advise the overall winner on the various ways to make hits.

A paid-for trip to London, plus promotion and PR for the winning single, are also part of the victory pack. The songs will also be put to a 'social vote' amongst the online Talenthouse community, with the most popular act winning a nice round $2000 (or approx £1184).

Now for some words of advice for budding pop stars from Sony A&R man Melrose, who proposes that: "Being smart and understanding what music you make, understanding the market for your music, understanding where that music sits in the bigger picture, if you can understand where you live in your biosphere as an artist and you can make those expectations, you've got a chance for a career".

Potts, meanwhile, adds this: "Persistence is really key. Sometimes when you start out, not everyone gets your music and often it takes sheer drive and determination over a period of time to make people believe in them. Even the biggest artists have had their fair share of no's early on".

Back on the competition, Head Of Consumer Engagement at Sony Mobile, Derek Allison, says: "There are thousands of music artists and bands out there hungry to have their music heard. If you've ever dreamt of securing a record deal, having your music heard by a big audience, and being part of a family of music artists which include many of the world's best talent, now's your chance".

He went on: "This collaboration is powered by Talenthouse, the world's creative network, which means we are able to discover a high calibre of creatives - in this case music talent - around the world. It gives us a unique opportunity to find a great new music act and give them a record deal with our sister company Sony Music UK as well as offering users of Sony Xperia's Android app Xperia Lounge exclusive new content".

Karen Millar launching Hook & Line PR
PR lady Karen Millar is leaving her present position at Trail Of Press/Full Time Hobby, and starting a company called Hook & Line.

When she exits Trail Of Press within the next few weeks, she'll take existing clients Timber Timbre, Smoke Fairies, Samantha Crain, Pinkunoizu, Cancer, Xenia Rubinos and The John Steel Singers with her, also taking on noise cacophonists Talons, an instrumental band based in Hereford, anew.

And talking of promoting Talons, their latest LP, 'New Topographics', is released on 4 Aug, so hasten to hear its crash-bangish lead single, aptly-titled 'The Wild Places', here.

Former PRS man to head up dance sector's trade body
As the dance music sector's big IMS event kicked off in Ibiza yesterday, the Association For Electronic Music announced the appointment of its first CEO in the form of Mark Lawrence, formerly Director Of Membership at UK collecting society PRS For Music.

As previously reported, the AFEM launched at MIDEM in 2013 bringing together players from across the music business - including labels, agents, managers, promoters and lawyers - who have a dance music focus. The group's new CEO will report into co-founders Ben Turner and Kurosh Nasseri.

Confirming the appointment, Turner - also co-founder of IMS - told CMU: "We have defined the mission of AFEM, our founding board members and ambassadors have demonstrated their support. It is now Mark's responsibility to help us turn AFEM into an effective advocacy body which delivers real benefits to members".

Lawrence, who worked in banking before joining PRS (or technically MCPS) in 2004, and who led the rights body's Amplify campaign designed to better connect the society with the dance music community, added: "I am delighted and honoured to have been selected by Ben and Kurosh to run this organisation. AFEM has the opportunity to be something amazing - a global electronic music organisation representing everyone from labels to DJs to promoters to publishers, small or large, young or old. I am committed to turning that vision into reality".

  Approved: Amen Dunes
Around since 2006, Amen Dunes (who's just the one mound of a man, Damon McMahon) has released three LPs to date, 2009's cloistered 'DIA', 2011's farther-reaching 'Through Donkey Jaw', and latterly 'Love', which coasted in on the wind last week.

A wide, rangy sprawl of labour, loss and longing, 'Love' has him curling his tongue around the most forlorn, the most worldly, the most faded, lonely and lovely songs. Though, rather than weighting you down, it more draws you into its cavernous, canyonous world, a world in which bright-burning torchlight tracks like 'Rocket Flare' and the woebegone 'Lonely Richard' co-exist in easy peace.

And lone wolfish and 'one-man' as 'Love' can sound, McMahon actually made it with a whole bunch of other musicians, from Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck, to Colin Stetson (on sax), and Iceage's Elias Bender Ronnenfelt, whose contributions slip, almost unnoticed, in amongst his own.

Amen Dunes plays live tonight at London's Koko, supporting Mac DeMarco, and comes back to the capital on 3 Jun, to do the same with Wooden Shjips, only at the Electric Ballroom. And he's appearing at Jabberwocky Festival, again in LDN, at ExCel on 15 Aug, and finally at Liverpool Psych Fest, in Liverpool, on 27 Sep.

Listen to all of 'Love' on Spotify now, or just buy it via Sacred Bones, because it's good.

And this is 'Love' song 'Lilac In Hand'.
CLICK HERE to read and share online

Good Charlotte's Madden Brothers go solo
Good Charlotte, aka the band that was always basically the Madden brothers (Benji and Joel) striding about in front of some anonymous backing candy*, are now officially known as The Madden Brothers, the Madden brothers having put GC on hold and gone solo, as a duo.

The Bros Madden have a two-sided 'debut' LP titled 'Greetings From California' in the works, and will go public with it on 6 Oct. Preceded on 21 Sep by lead single 'We Are Done', it's first 'side' will be "upbeat" and mixed by Eric Valentine, whilst the other, a collaboration with White Stripes/Strokes producer Joe Chiccarelli, is going to be all dark and rocky. So really, it has it all.

A reflective Benji Madden says: "The idea was to not hide behind a band name or a genre, but rather to write some songs, and find someone to record them and help us deliver the truest picture of who we are musically".

* Sorry to Paul Thomas, Billy Martin, Dean Butterworth, Aaron Escolopio, Chris Wilson. Thanks for all your hard work. It did not go unnoticed.

Brian Eno and Karl Hyde make a virtual reality app
Ambient highwayman Brian Eno and his pal, Underworld's Karl Hyde, yesterday released a free iOS app in correlation with their newly-released joint LP 'Someday World'.

Hyde and Eno - both experts in the app field already, the latter having developed various digital tie-ins in recent years, the former having done that cool in-car app prototype - were inspired to create this new app's 'augmented reality' by a set of guidelines they'd written whilst making 'Someday World', one of which was "build cities on hills...".

They then teamed with Holodecks boss Lukasz Karluk and design studio Toby And Pete to translate that idea into the app, which links, via the iPhone's camera, to the label on the vinyl edition of the LP (or the digital equivalent of that), and then makes rows of mini building-like shapes - or "outsider architecture metropolises" - rise up in time with 'Someday World' track 'Strip It Down'.

Download the app at no cost via this iTunes link, and preview it via this trailer.

Bez's anti-fracking festival to feature Happy Mondays (and Toyah!)
Bez is going to twist global oil and gas companies' fracking melons right off by hosting an anti-frack festival featuring the Happy Mondays, Alabama 3, Bad Manners, The Troggs, and Toyah Wilcox. Apparently beekeeping isn't giving him the same buzz it once did.

Staged in association with Fleetwood Town FC, LiveWyre - aka Frack-Free Sunday - will take place on 1 Jun at Highbury Stadium, which is clearly in Lancashire.

Bez says: "It's a proud day for me to announce that the first major event I've ever put together is being held in the North West. I'm over the moon that Fleetwood Town FC have come on board to help me organise this event. I couldn't have done it without them. If they do well in the play-offs we'll be having a double celebration on the day!"

He goes on: "It's brilliant that so many people are supporting the anti-fracking message, and I'm personally doing everything I can to support the cause and raise awareness. Come and support us. Let's make some serious noise!"

Step right on and get tickets here.


Festival Line-Up Update: Latitude, Benicassim, Rewire and more
So first off, let it be known that London fest Field Day is striking an official partnership deal with Transgressive Records, in celebration of the latter's tenth anniversary. In short, this will equate to a load of Transgressive signings, not least Mystery Jets, Dry The River, Thumpers and Marika Hackman, DJing all over this year's Metronomy and Pixies-headlined Field Day festival, which takes place in Victoria Park on 7-8 Jun.

Transgressive's Toby L, who formed the label "at a painfully young age" in 2004 with co-founder Tim Dellow, has this to say: "Field Day has created some of Transgressive's favourite ever live music memories, and when we were mapping out parties, festivals and events for our 10th Anniversary this year, it felt like an obvious choice to present something with Tom and the Field Day team. However, we wanted to do something a bit different - so thought we'd turn some of our artists into DJs for the weekend. A few of our crew will also have a go to try and make people dance. We'll all see you there".

Yes, we will. First though, we'll sit back and see named the latest headlining additions to Spain's Benicassim (hint, they are highly "likely" lads), final amendments to good old fashioned rawk n roll all-dayer Camden Rocks, the IDs of the dance-style acts playing the RBMA Backyard Stage at Finland's Flow, the listings for Latitude's inaugural 'late night' line-up, and the first lot of confirmations over at Holland winter event ReWire...

BENICASSIM, Recinto De Conciertos, Benicassim, Spain, 17-20 Jul: The Libertines, Fat White Family, Tycho, Manel, The Academic.

CAMDEN ROCKS, various venues, Camden, London, 31 May: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Slaves, Deadly Circus Fire, The Wild Lies, Whales In Cubicles, Empire, Protafield, Verses, Trampolene, The Vex, Silver Arm, The Peckham Cowboys, Crystal Seagulls, Plastic Barricades, 4th Street Traffic, Kenelis, Eat The Evidence, New Device, Shattered Skies, THePETEBOX, Knights, Paul Hegley Band, Strangefruit, Mavis, The Show, Get Inuit, Beasts, Duchess, David Pear, Chris Catalyst.

FLOW FESTIVAL, Suvilahti, Helsinki, Finland, 8-10 Aug: Peanut Butter Wolf, Evian Christ, I-F, Ron Morelli, Ceephax Acid, Katerina, Young Marco, Fred P, Didier, Trevor Deep Jr, Machinedrum, Mark Ernestus, Tama Sumo, Optimo, Baris K.

LATITUDE, Henham Park Estate, Beccles, Suffolk, 17-20 Jul: Lone, Wookie, MJ Cole, Andrew Ashong, Auntie Flo, BadBadNotGood, *Champion, Dan Shakje, Leon Vynehall, Matt 'Jam' Lamont, Mo Kolours, Voyeur, Goldierocks, Dave Seaman & Friends, Guilty Pleasures, Buttoned Down Disco.

PARKLIFE, Heaton Park, Manchester, 7-8 Jun: Friendly Fires DJs, T Williams, The 2 Bears, Krystal Klear, Krysko/Lord, MistaJam, Shadow Child, Friend Within, Second City, Rich Reason.

REWIRE, various venues, The Hague, Holland, 7-8 Nov: James Holden, Colin Stetson, Herman Kolgen, Nik Bärtsch, Hydras Dream, BLI!NDMAN, Von Nohrfeldt Ensemble, Bohren & Der Club Of Gore.

Andrew WK to speak to Oxford Union
Now, obviously it wont' have any of the prestige or glamour of that time he spoke to the My Little Pony fan convention in 2012, but the main man that is Andrew WK has been booked to speak to the Oxford Union next month.

Which is very exciting indeed. And while you may have just read that last sentence in a sarcastic tone, please note that the sarcasm was inferred and not implied. Oh no. This is WK and his public speaking rocks.

Just look at what this spokesman for the Oxford University Rock Society had to say: "We've seen rock stars, we've seen brilliant public speakers, but rarely are they the same person, and rarely do they have as intriguing and broad a background as Andrew WK".

'Andrew WK and The Philosophy of Partying' at the Oxford Union will take place on 13 Jun.

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 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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