An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Wednesday 9 Jul 2014

 
TODAY'S TOP STORY: George Michael, Katie Melua and the God-darn Arctic Monkeys have all been linked to the latest tax avoidance scheme to be exposed by The Times. The paper has got its hands on a secret list of people who apparently invested in a tax dodge programme called Liberty between 2005 and 2009. Although legal, the Inland Revenue has been investigating the investment scheme, which generates... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: Nick Nicely, real given name Nickolas Laurien, has had an odd and oscillatory time of things as an artist. There was him having a quick, failed flirtation with EMI in the 1980s (and releasing his closet-iconic 'greatest hit' 'Hilly Fields' in the midst of that); going AWOL for a bit and then reappearing via the 1990s acid rave scene; and finally finding his rightful place as a lo-fi psych superguy in the eyes of... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Michael, Melua and Monkeys linked to tax avoidance scheme
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DEALS London's leading MCNs merge
Concord Music buys Vee-Jay catalogue
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Promotions at Warner as Kevin Gore stands down
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LIVE BUSINESS The Agency Group announces new US Latin and Hispanic division
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES New Zealand ISP's 'global mode' will help users access foreign streaming services
Live Nation hatches dance platform Boomrat
New concert footage archive hits YouTube
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INDUSTRY PEOPLE Mark Mulligan launches new research company
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RELEASES Death From Above 1979 reveal album tracklisting, new single
iamamiwhoami trails Blue LP
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Georgie Ezra sets new headline dates
Full Time Hobby confirms anniversary compilation and shows
5 Seconds Of Summer playing ALL the arenas in May 2015
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AND FINALLY... Robin Thicke sells 530 copies of his new album in the UK, despite his wife not living here
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Michael, Melua and Monkeys linked to tax avoidance scheme
George Michael, Katie Melua and the God-darn Arctic Monkeys have all been linked to the latest tax avoidance scheme to be exposed by The Times. The paper has got its hands on a secret list of people who apparently invested in a tax dodge programme called Liberty between 2005 and 2009.

Although legal, the Inland Revenue has been investigating the investment scheme, which generates huge 'artificial losses' offshore enabling investors to avoid tax on other income, for nearly a decade, and hopes to block the initiative in court next year. Though, thanks to new rules being introducing this week, those who benefited from the scheme may have to pay previously avoided taxes upfront, pending the outcome of any future court hearing.

As with the various tax dodge stories that have circulated in recent years, most starting with The Times, while celebrity tax avoiders generally haven't broken any laws, there's the embarrassment of wealthy stars being seen to avoid paying their fair share into the taxation system. Especially if they are known to have left-leaning politics, or regularly take part in charity appeals, calling on the masses to help support the poor and needy while stashing their own cash offshore out of the reach of the welfare state.

Acclaimed tax avoider and occasional dirge singer Gary Barlow is also linked to the Liberty scheme, while non-music c'lebs said to have invested include Michael Caine and Anne Robinson. Most of those who benefited from the tax dodge have so far declined to comment, though Melua's people say the singer has already paid back avoided tax.

The Times points out that the singer was nominated for Christian Aid's Tax Superhero Award in 2010 after telling reporters she paid "nearly half of what comes to me in taxes". The Georgia-born singer also told a journalist that she was happy paying taxes in the UK because she had "seen what it is like living in a country where people don't pay tax and have poor services in terms of health and education".

But Melua's legal reps say that while she had indeed invested in Liberty at the recommendation of her accountants, she subsequently paid the sheltered tax to HMRC, so hadn't actually avoided any payments to the taxman.

London's leading MCNs merge
Ah, multi-channel networks; sort of the record labels of the YouTube ecosystem, signing up and supporting new video-making talent, or managing video channels for existing brands and celebs, with the aim of getting all involved more viewers, and more ad revenue.

The MCNs have been busy signing up talent for a few years now. If they're the labels of YouTube, I wonder if they have started screwing over and dropping any of that talent yet? Hey, only joking label people, you're all lovely.

Anyway, while the big MCN action has mainly been in the US to date, a deal between two London-based companies has created a major player. Rightster has bought Base79, run by Ashley MacKenzie, son of often controversial former Sun Editor Kelvin, in a £50 million deal.

Base79's client base has included various music players, including Domino Records, Ministry Of Sound, Syco, SBTV and 4Music. As part of the deal, its Chief Content Officer, Patrick Walker, a former YouTube director, will join the Rightster executive team.

In addition to the Base79 acquisition, Rightster also announced yesterday that it was buying video management and licensing firm Viral Spiral, and that YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley was becoming a shareholder.

Commenting on all this, Rightster founder and CEO Charlie Muirhead said: "Acquiring Base79 and Viral Spiral is transformational for Rightster. Importantly, this greater scale and expertise improves the service we will be able to offer creators and publishers, improving our ability to both grow audiences and increase monetisation and positions us as a global leader in the exploding online video market for brands and media agencies".

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Concord Music buys Vee-Jay catalogue
US independent Concord Music Group has acquired the catalogue of R&B and soul label Vee-Jay Records, which brings with it some 5000 master recordings by the likes of John Lee Hooker, The Staple Singers and Little Richard.

Vee-Jay Records was founded in the early 1950s by husband-and-wife team Vivian Carter and James C Bracket, initially a home to R&B but later moving into other genres too including jazz, folk and gospel. The indie was also the first label to release any Beatles recordings Stateside.

Confirming the deal, Concord Music Group CEO Glen Barros told CMU: "The range and richness of Vee-Jay's catalogue is truly remarkable. We're grateful to be its guardian and look forward to broadening this unique musical legacy".

Promotions at Warner as Kevin Gore stands down
That there Warner Music Group has only gone and promoted Tim Fraser-Harding to the role of President of Global Recordings Catalogue and Mark Pinkus to the job of President of US Catalogue & Rhino Entertainment. Blimey.

The promotions come as Kevin Gore, who is currently President of both Global Recordings Catalogue and Rhino, departs the major. Both UK-based Fraser-Harding and US-located Pinkus previously held Senior Vice President roles in the divisions they will now lead.

In his new role, Fraser-Harding will "oversee global strategy and operations for all aspects of the development and marketing of WMG's rich legacy of recorded music", which will apparently include a little bit of "spearheading worldwide campaigns, identifying and implementing innovative product initiatives, and advancing the company's digital catalogue strategy".

He will be supported by also London-based Dirk Ewald, who joined Warner via its Parlophone acquisition, and who is Senior VP for Global Catalogue Management.

Confirming all this, Warner Music CEO Steve Cooper told CMU: "The WMG catalogue is one of the most extraordinary collections in the history of recorded music and home to many of the world's most popular and influential artists. Our ongoing investment in new creative and commercial opportunities for this incredible body of work is a central tenet of our long-term strategy, and we're only just starting to realise the possibilities presented by digital technologies".

He went on: "Tim has done an exceptional job in energising our catalogue business around the globe, driving a fantastic release schedule that has expertly mined our rich legacy, supported by a series of creative, highly successful campaigns. A passionate fan with an encyclopaedic knowledge of music history, Tim's deep experience, operational expertise, and innovative thinking make him ideally suited to take on this expanded global role in an area that is at the heart of WMG. Together, Tim, Mark, and Dirk form a catalogue team of unparalleled talent and vision".

The Agency Group announces new US Latin and Hispanic division
Talent and booking agency The Agency Group has opened a new Miami office, which will focus specifically on the Latin American and US-Hispanic markets. Jeremy Norkin, who takes the role of Director of Latin Operations, will oversee the new base.

TAG's US CEO Natalia Nastaskin says: "Appetites for music among consumers in Latin American and US-Hispanic markets are growing exponentially and, with the addition of Jeremy Norkin to our team, The Agency Group is now ideally positioned to capitalise on opportunities in these territories for our clients. Jeremy's deep understanding of musical styles and tastes in Spanish-language markets and his relationships with artists and presenters there puts him in the unique position of being able to service our English-language clients throughout those regions, as well as being able to sign coveted Latin acts to our roster".

Norkin adds: "I'm thrilled to join The Agency Group, a firm that has its sights set on the world and is committed to Latin America and the US-Hispanic market. It was important for me and for my clients to join a company that continually demonstrates a keen understanding of global markets and stays ahead of the curve. The Agency Group's international presence sets them apart as a dominant force in worldwide music booking, and the opportunities for its vast roster of artists within Spanish language markets are countless".

Having worked for William Morris for a number of years, Norkin was most recently heading up his own talent agency, Norkin Talent. His roster of Latin acts at NTA, including rapper Mala Rodríguez and comedian Andrés López, will join him at TAG.

New Zealand ISP's 'global mode' will help users access foreign streaming services
An internet service provider in New Zealand is helping its customers circumvent geo-blocks installed on popular online content services, meaning that users will be able to access sites and catalogues currently restricted to US and UK consumers, including the American version of Amazon Prime with its streaming music set-up.

Geo-blocks restrict access to websites and other online services to consumers in specific territories based on the IP address of the user. There are various reasons website operators might instigate geo-blocks, but a common one is that they have licensed content from third parties, but only have the rights to distribute that content in specific territories. It's how and why the music available on services like Spotify varies from country to country, and even more so when it comes to film and TV-on-demand platforms.

It's common for smaller online content services to actually operate beyond their home territories, even though often their licenses don't technically allow them to. But as soon as they gain momentum, content owners normally enforce territory restrictions, meaning the geo-blocks are put in place, and those not in the countries where the service is licensed to operate are blocked out. Unless they install the software that fools the site into thinking they are accessing the internet from a different country.

Some are critical of the content industries for licensing on a country-by-country basis, it being a system that came into being because pre-web licensees, ie TV and radio, rarely broadcast in any serious way beyond their home territories. Online, of course, every service has the potential to be global, but content owners aren't always able or willing to provide platforms with worldwide rights. Within the European Union some have argued this breaches internal-market rules.

Circumventing the geo-blocks isn't difficult but needs a little know-how. But for a while now New Zealand ISP Slingshot has offered a 'global mode' to customers who claim that they have someone staying with them from another country who needs to access content services back home. And that, it seems, was a pilot, with the global mode now being rolled out to all customers. The service means that Slingshot customers will appear to come from the UK or US when they need to, but will appear as New Zealand web-users on local sites.

The four services that Slingshot is guaranteeing global mode will open up to New Zealand web-users are US-based Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, plus the BBC's iPlayer. Though the facility may also enable use of other content platforms, including some of the streaming music services not currently available in the country.

Of course, those content platforms that are subscription-based may have limitations in place beyond geo-blocking, in that payments may need to be made with a credit card registered in the country the user is pretending to be from. But there'll be no such problems with free-to-access platforms like the iPlayer, or those where users can register with the New Zealand version of the service, but circumvent the geo-block to access the extra catalogue or services available to US customers.

Slingshot's global mode is likely to be controversial in some quarters, with New Zealand broadcasters who have licensed the rights to US films and programmes for their TV channels or their own online services likely to complain loudest. It remains to be seen if anything can be done to force Slingshot to rethink - The Register notes that another net firm in the country, FYX, tried something similar in 2012 and parked it within days.

Though according to ComputerWorld NZ, the General Manager of Slingshot, Taryn Hamilton, has argued that New Zealanders who want access to content not currently officially available online in the country are likely streaming or downloading it from unauthorised sources, so surely it's better to let them subscribe to legit American platforms rather than nab that content for free? Which is an argument that may or may not work.

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Live Nation hatches dance platform Boomrat
Live Nation's 'Labs' tech start-up division has officially activated Boomrat, a new online discovery platform enabling EDM fans to find the latest dance megahits while they're still 'fresh'.

Boomrat's main function is to compile tracks and mixes from over 300 blogs and streaming sites, thereby reflecting trends within the ever-shifting (and ever-swelling) EDM terrain. In fact, one of its features, in addition to artist, industry and fan-made playlists, is a 'trending chart' linked to SoundCloud's (and soon, YouTube's) API data, which will be updated every 60 minutes.

Acquired by Live Nation last August, Boomrat is now allied with Insomniac - the EDM festival promoter that works closely with the live music conglom - and the London-based Three Six Zero Group, a partner of Live Nation's JV with Jay-Z, Roc Nation.

Boomrat co-founder Andrew Silberstein, who developed the idea in 2012 with his business partner Ariel Lee, told Billboard earlier this week that the Live Nation deal "provided us the opportunity to incubate Boomrat inside the company while developing co-branding opportunities with their dance music partners including Insomniac, HARD and Cream".

His colleague Lee adds: "New blogs and tracks are constantly launching and it's impossible for one person to follow them all. Dance music is constantly evolving while being shared and consumed in a different manner than other genres, and this can make it challenging for fans to keep up".

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New concert footage archive hits YouTube
A new YouTube channel called Music Vault launched yesterday, featuring an archive of more than 13,000 live videos, including both single tracks and full performances, spanning the last 50 years.

Run by the Wolfgang's Vault website, the footage on the channel is drawn from various sources, such as Bill Graham Presents and Daytrotter. It will continue to be updated with video features and playlists over time.

Says Music Vault Content Editor Bill Antonucci: "After two years restoring, transferring, mixing and mastering thousands of tapes from our enormous archive, we're thrilled and extremely proud to share this massive treasure with the YouTube audience".

He goes on: "We believe this content deserves to be seen by the largest audience possible, and our partnership with YouTube allows us to do just that. Younger music fans will now be able to experience what it was like to see these classic bands at the peak of their powers while their parents relive the thrill of seeing shows they actually attended".

Go straight over and have a look around the archive for yourself here, or if you need the concept of concert footage explained to you, here's a handy video.

Mark Mulligan launches new research company
Long-standing music industry analyst Mark Mulligan, previously with Jupiter and then Forrester Research, has announced the formal launch of his new company, MIDiA Research, through which he will provide research and consultancy services at various levels.

Says Mulligan: "We don't provide run-of-the-mill data narrative, instead we provide unique insight into why trends are occurring, where they will go and how you need to respond".

Annual subscriptions are currently being offered at half price and range between £1000 and £4000. Find out more here.

  Approved: Nick Nicely
Nick Nicely, real given name Nickolas Laurien, has had an odd and oscillatory time of things as an artist.

There was him having a quick, failed flirtation with EMI in the 1980s (and releasing his closet-iconic 'greatest hit' 'Hilly Fields' in the midst of that); going AWOL for a bit and then reappearing via the 1990s acid rave scene; and finally finding his rightful place as a lo-fi psych superguy in the eyes of labels like Sanctuary, Grapefruit, Captured Tracks and Burger, who between them released Nicely's brilliant rarities compilation 'Psychotropia', 2011's cassette-only new LP 'Lysergia' and 2011's review of his early days, 'Elegant Daze'.

Now hailed as a kind of 'lost' great grandaddy to acts like Ariel Pink and John Maus (and indeed, the traces of his tracks in theirs are clear to hear), Nicely is now back amid whisperings of an all-new LP titled 'Space Of A Second', releasing via Lo Recordings later this year.

And if Nick Nicely is really "the greatest popstar that never was", his new single 'HeadwindAheadwind' - a neat and beautifully bleary pillbox of fizzling synth-sparks and Nicely's distant long-and-winding voice - is the great psych-pop track that is, and will always be.

Get wise to it, and to Nick Nicely, here.
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Full Time Hobby confirm anniversary compilation and shows
The staff at London independent Full Time Hobby are celebrating the label's tenth anniversary year with a special mix LP aggregating a list of 'greatest hits' by FTH signings like White Denim, School Of Seven Bells, Pinkunoizu and Autolux.

Meanwhile the also Full Time Hobby-affiliated Timber Timbre, Tunny, Erland & The Carnival, The Leisure Society and Smoke Fairies will all headline a series of celebratory live dates later this year. Taking place at the Southbank Centre from 14 and 19 Oct, the shows are dedicated to late School Of Seven Bells singer-songwriter Benjamin Curtis, who died of cancer last year. Find listings and links to get tickets via this link.

Moving back to the compilation, it's over to Nigel Adams, who first made Full Time Hobby his, um, full time hobby in 2004, along with his colleague Wez, to explain why the LP's title, 'What The Hell Are You Doing?', is what it is.

"It's something that has probably been asked of anyone starting an independent label over the last ten years", he says. "Certainly there has never been a less financially rewarding or glamorous time to launch a label as the music industry continues to barrel on into the unknown, but for most of us doing it, running an independent label is still the most rewarding, challenging and enjoyable role we could be in".

World-wise (and slightly world-weary) words there from Nigel.

Check a taster mix of six 'What The Hell?' tracks (and yeah, that's a tailor-made David Shrigley drawing) right now. And, hey, here's a playlist Nigel Adams made for us back in 2010, featuring some of his favourite non-Full Time Hobby music. Have a listen to that too.

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Death From Above 1979 reveal album tracklisting, new single
Recently re-sealed bass-and-beats pairing Death From Above 1979 have revealed each and every relevant 'deet' on their first LP in ten years, 'The Physical World', pre its release on 9 Sep.

There's a tracklisting and, thrillingly, also a track, first single 'Train Wreck'. So find the listing listed below and the track streaming exactly here.

Cheap Talk
Right On, Frankenstein!
Virgins
Always On
Crystal Ball
White Is Red
Trainwreck 1979
Nothin' Left
Government Trash
Gemini
The Physical World

And one last thing. DFA 1979 are crashing into London's Electric Ballroom on 20 Oct to play a show, followed by two extra shows at Manchester's Gorilla (21 Oct) and The Garage in Glasgow (22 Oct).

Visit the band's site this Friday to land tickets.

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iamamiwhoami trails Blue LP
Swedish pop sylph iamamiwhoami, aka audiovisual artist Jonna Lee, is on 10 Nov releasing a new LP entitled 'Blue', having financed it in part via fan donations to her Generate initiative.

It features ten tracks in all and, as with Lee's last long player, 2012's 'Kin', each will be represented by a mini film she and her team have created.

Going back over its inception, Lee writes via her site: "The birth of this project was one drop in the ocean spreading with ripples and becoming rapids with your actions. A venture continuously rushing forward by its own force while ingrained habits of defining, owning and capturing made themselves felt".

Screen the very beautifully-made 'Blue' trailer, which gives an idea of the LP's general aesthetic, here.

Georgie Ezra sets new headline dates
Dream grandkid George Ezra has capped off a fairly significant time in his short life, this following the release of his #3-charting first LP 'Wanted On Voyage', by listing nine headline shows happening later this year.

Sorry, I'll stop patronising him. And I don't think I really have a right to anyway, since G-EZ is playing all this big-time lot:

16 Oct: Leeds Met University
17 Oct: Newcastle University
18 Oct: Glasgow, Queen Margaret Union
20 Oct: Manchester, Ritz
21 Oct: Bristol, Academy,
22 Oct: Portsmouth, Pyramids Centre,
24 Oct: London, Shepherd's Bush Empire,
25 Oct: Birmingham, The Institute,
26 Oct: Cardiff, University Solus

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5 Seconds Of Summer playing ALL the arenas in May 2015
Pop-rock whizzkids 5 Seconds Of Summer have had a bright idea, and it centres on them headlining a series of big springtime arena dates in Britain/Ireland and then lolling all the way to the Australian bank. So in short, the band are doing a tour (banner-titled the 'Rock Out With Your Socks Out Tour') in May next year.

And just in case that hasn't convinced you to book your tickets this week for shows nearly a year away, this cute quote from the 5SOS boys should do it: "This is such a huge thing for us, to be able to come and see you all. We cannot wait to play you the [forthcoming eponymous debut] album and loads more, we love you guys and hope you are as excited as we are. Let's rock, let's rock today".

Here are the dates:

28 May: Dublin, The O2
30 May: Belfast, Odyssey Arena
1 Jun: Glasgow, The SSE Hydro
2 Jun: Newcastle, Newcastle Arena
3 Jun: Leeds, First Direct Arena
4 Jun: Birmingham, NIA Arena
7 Jun: Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena
9 Jun: Manchester, Phones 4U Arena
12 Jun: London, Wembley Arena
13 Jun: London, Wembley Arena

And this is the 'Don't Stop' video!

Robin Thicke sells 530 copies of his new albums in the UK, despite his wife not living here
Robin Thicke only wrote his new album for one person to listen to, his estranged wife Paula Patton. So, you could say that it managing to shift 530 copies in the UK last week is something of a success. I mean, he didn't intend for even one person in this country to listen to it. Not one.

Alternatively, you could perhaps call people who aren't Patton actually buying 'Paula' a failure. In which case, things have gone really badly in the US, where over 25,000 people forked out money for the record on its first week on sale. Especially if Patton isn't one of those people. Maybe Robin posted her a free copy. Though it would seem a bit lacking in foresight to give your planned lone listener a freebie. She should definitely have to pay.

Still, it's hardly surprising he convinced a few people to head out and pick the new record up, given all the fantastic promotion he did for it.

 
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.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
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.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
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.
Email aly@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
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.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
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Send ALL press releases to musicnews@unlimitedmedia.co.uk - this is checked daily by the whole editorial team meaning your release will definitely get to the right person.

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