TODAY'S TOP STORY: Rdio has announced a tweak of its business model (and a bigger tweak of its platform) this morning, which largely highlights that it's still playing catch up with its more successful competitors. The main changes are the launch of a new ad-funded freemium model and the more proactive pushing of ready-made playlists to users, leaving the fully on-demand service more in the background. The new... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Folk makers Bear's Den have had a very busy year this year indeed. They've just completed a European tour and are about to head off to the US and Canada. In between all of this they've been very nice and made an album called 'Islands', which is due to be released on 20 Oct. You can pre-order it on iTunes here if you want. In the meantime, they've unveiled a new single called 'Above The Clouds... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Rdio pushes free playlists in latest redesign
LEGAL Disney moves to block Deadmau5 trademark application
ReDigi founders will remain as defendants on Capitol's infringement litigation
Weatherley publishes industry feedback to 'search engines and piracy' report
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Universal puts initial song list database live
LIVE BUSINESS London booking agent Nova Music launches artist services company
Busta Rhymes claims London show was booked without his knowledge
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES WiMP to bring high quality streaming service to the UK
ARTIST NEWS Cee Lo returns to Twitter
ONE LINERS Sony/ATV, A2IM, MOBO Awards and more
AND FINALLY... Madonna is definitely working with Apple on something (or possibly not)
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Rdio pushes free playlists in latest redesign
Rdio has announced a tweak of its business model (and a bigger tweak of its platform) this morning, which largely highlights that it's still playing catch up with its more successful competitors. The main changes are the launch of a new ad-funded freemium model and the more proactive pushing of ready-made playlists to users, leaving the fully on-demand service more in the background.

The new version of the software displays various playlists and albums based on each user's musical tastes, when they first log in to both the desktop or mobile versions. Following moves made by most other streaming services now, there is also an element of human curation to those playlists.

Rdio previously offered a six month free trial in some countries, but not a fully fledged freemium version. Until January this year, when a freemium radio option was added in the US. Newish CEO Anthony Bay then admitted that the lack of a proper freemium tier had hindered Rdio's growth in an interview with CNET. He said then such a tier would be key to the company's future, so today's announcement, which will see the ad-funded radio go live in 20 more countries, is not exactly a surprise.

Speaking to the New York Times ahead of today's launch, Bay said: "What we've learned collectively over the last few years is that the most successful models are freemium models".

Meanwhile, on the more proactive pushing of playlists, SVP Product Chris Becherer told Music Ally: "We're restructuring the apps to be stations-first. We don't think any service out there is doing a good job of pairing those lean-back and lean-forward experiences".

Whether Rdio can both do that and convince users that it is the best choice, in the face of stiff competition from Pandora, Spotify and, soon, Apple with Beats (or whatever it turns Beats into), remains to be seen.

Disney moves to block Deadmau5 trademark application
Disney has opposed a trademark application by Deadmau5 to register his 'mau5head' logo. The dispute has been brewing for some time now, but on Tuesday the film company filed a 171 document with the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Although the producer has been using the logo, based on the headgear in which he performs, since 2004, he only made moves to register it in the US last year. However, the Deadmau5 logo is already a registered trademark in 30 other countries, including the UK.

In a statement, Deadmau5's lawyer Dina LaPolt said: "Given that the mau5head and other identifying deadmau5 trademarks have been used in the US and around the world for almost a decade, we wonder why Disney is only now coming after Deadmau5. Our client will not be bullied by Disney and is prepared to fight to protect his rights to his property".

Disney did not respond to a request for comment.


ReDigi founders will remain as defendants on Capitol's infringement litigation
The record industry's legal squabbles with MP3 resale platform ReDigi rumble on, with the labels scoring another win this week in getting the digital start-up's founders listed as co-defendants on the litigation.

As much previously reported, the US record industry has objected to the idea of an MP3 resale service since the off, not convinced by ReDigi's claims that the seller's copy of a digital track is definitely deleted after a sale, and anyway adamant that the terms and conditions on iTunes et al do not allow downloads to be sold on. ReDigi does not concur, insisting that the First Sale Doctrine in US copyright law which allows the resale of CDs should apply to the digital domain too.

But Universal division Capitol, which is leading on the legal fight, scored a victory last year when a judge ruled in its favour on the dispute. ReDigi, however, vowed to appeal, while also arguing that since Capitol had gone legal it had overhauled its technology, so that the judge's ruling didn't apply to the firm's current website, which is still operational.

Whatever you make of that argument, there was a side issue at play here too as Capitol tried to have ReDigi founders and, respectively, CEO and CTO, John Ossenmacher and Larry Rudolph, added to the lawsuit as defendants. The record company argued that the two men came up with the idea of ReDigi, and totally controlled the business, and therefore should be personally liable for any copyright infringement.

It's an important move for Capitol, in that when you go after digital start-ups with copyright litigation, however confident you are of a win in court, there's always the risk you'll run up mega legal bills and then the company you're pursuing will go under with no assets. It's useful, therefore, to have the option of going after the individuals behind the company. For the entrepreneurs targeted it can be costly, just ask MP3tunes founder Michael Robertson who was ordered to pay $41 million in damages to EMI even after his copyright infringing start-up had folded.

So, needless to say, Ossenmacher and Rudolph objected to being added to Capitol's lawsuit in a personal capacity, and asked to have their names removed. But earlier this week a US judge ruled that they could be held liable for any infringement their company is deemed to have undertaken or contributed to.

The judge said in his ruling: "Although [Capitol's lawsuit] could certainly have provided more detail with respect to the individual actions of each defendant, the court finds that it is nevertheless sufficient, if barely so, [for Ossenmacher and Rudolph to be included], since the three defendants are a small start-up and the two corporate officers who directed and controlled essentially all of its activities".


Weatherley publishes industry feedback to 'search engines and piracy' report
David Cameron's IP Advisor Mike Weatherley has submitted an additional document to the PM following on from his previously reported paper on the role of search engines in tackling online piracy.

As much previously reported, the content industries reckon that search engines, and especially Google, should be doing more to downgrade (or preferably remove) copyright infringing websites in their search results. Weatherley published on a paper on this debate back in May with ten main recommendations, outlined here. Since then the MP has been taking submissions from interested stakeholders, and has now published those responses in a new report, submitted to Cameron yesterday. You can download that report here.

The government's culture man Sajid Javid referenced Weatherley's reports at the BPI AGM earlier this week, noting that "I completely agree that the search engines also have to play their part; they must step up and show willing", before adding of Weatherley's work: "You can expect to hear more from me on this in the coming months".

Responding to Javid's support, Weatherley said last night: "I have been really pleased with the positive way in which industry has engaged with me on this issue. Sajid Javid's comments to the BPI underscore the government's commitment to tacking piracy and working with search engines. I look forward to the government's response and know that industry will be following this matter closely".

Universal puts initial song list database live
Universal Music's publishing company has published a chunk of song data on its website, available to all, following a pledge back in June to make it easier for licensees to work out what songs the major controls, in part or in full.

Both licensees and political types have called on the music industry to make it easier to work out who owns and controls the copyrights in lyrics, compositions and sound recordings. And while that call has gone out to both the record industry and music publishing sector, information from the latter is more sought after, partly because it's generally easier to work out what label released a record than it is what publisher published a song, and partly because song copyrights are much more commonly co-owned between multiple entities.

Of course, the publishing sector's collecting societies are generally sitting on that information already, but it's not always easy for the world at large to access that data. The Global Repertoire Database project was aiming to pull all the info into one place and make it available to all, but that fell on its arse earlier this year, probably because of the "too many cooks" idiom.

In the US, where the big publishers are hoping to withdraw from the collective licensing system in the digital domain, there is another urgency to get better at data sharing, because the lack of decent catalogue information is often used by American digital services as a reason why collective licensing should continue.

To that end, both Sony/ATV and Universal Music Publishing, which are leading the 'Let's Not License Digital Collectively (We'll Get More Cash Direct)' campaign, have both pledged to make their song databases available online to all in a user-friendly easily-exportable fashion. And Universal began this process earlier this week by putting it's 'Song List' live on its website

At launch the database only lists songs in the major's catalogue whose writers are members of one of the main three American performing rights organisations, so ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, though the plan is to extend the list moving forward. For songs listed you can find out who wrote each work, what collecting societies they are affiliated to, which writers are signed to Universal, and what percentage of the copyright is controlled by the major.

So, for example, you might like to know that Universal controls 40% of Justin Bieber hit 'Baby', it repping three of the five writers that were required to create some a timeless masterpiece of shit pop music, ie BMI member Christine Flores and ASCAP members Christopher A Stewart and JB himself. Oh, and it's International Standard Musical Work Code is T-904.874.539-7. It sounds nerdy, and it is nerdy, but you might just find yourself getting lost in this data pile. Universal owns half of Mariah's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. Who Knew? (T-070.007.067-2, in case any of you ISMWC fans were wondering).

Confirming the Song List was now live, Universal Music Publishing's EVP Operations told reporters: "As promised, this launch continues our efforts as an industry leader in not only providing transparency but also making the most useful data accessible to all licensees and users. Our plan, going forward, is to continually enhance this Song List until it ultimately includes all UMPG international repertoire".

Busta Rhymes claims London show was booked without his knowledge
Busta Rhymes has accused Metropolis Music of advertising a headline show at The Forum in London this Sunday without actually ever contacting the rapper. Which seems unlikely, but that's what he said.

The Forum itself announced yesterday that the show had been cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances". Rhymes went the less tactful route of sending out a series of caps lock and exclamation mark heavy tweets, attacking Metropolis and specifically one of the company's promoters, Andy Robbins.





Representatives for Metropolis, The Forum and Busta Rhymes did not respond to requests for comment.

Busta Rhymes is also booked in to play Bestival this weekend. Something he is apparently not disputing.


London booking agent Nova Music launches artist services company
West London promoter and booking agent Nova Music has announced a new partnership with digital marketing agency Million Media to launch a new company, Nova Artist Services.

Under the partnership, artists signed to Nova Music for booking will also be able to access artist services covering distribution, publishing and marketing. And while Million founder Neil Cartwright has a label background, having previously worked for Sony Music, it's interesting to see such an offering come from the live side of the music industry.

Nova Music Founder, Sophie McCreddie said in a statement: "This exciting new venture will enable us to further assist artists we already book, promote and generally look after. We're often the first people to discover new talent as we are consistently showcasing new music, acts that have then gone on to be signed by labels and publishers. With this partnership we can now support artists with everything they need to build their career whilst still retaining their individuality and ownership of their creations".

Cartwright added: "Booking agents like Nova specialise in finding and nurturing new talent. This places them in a superb position to fill the vacuum left by the demise of the traditional record label model. We will provide our artists digital distribution using cutting edge technology, publishing via a new highly disruptive global collections model and leading digital marketing to enhance their career and ensure it integrates with their live performances".

He continued: "I've been in digital music since 1997 so witnessed the huge impact technology has had on the music industry first hand. Albums are now dead. Downloads are in terminal decline as people switch to streaming. Aggregators and labels only have a couple of years left before the economics force the traditional model to breaking point. Nova Artist Services is filling the void and offering talented artists the tools and services to provide music the ways their fans want it through combining all aspects of their career".

Whether this bullishness on the future of the record companies holds true remains to be seen, but artist services is indeed a growing area of the music business now.

WiMP to bring high quality streaming service to the UK
Norway-based WiMP has announced that it is bringing its high quality streaming service to the UK and US later this year. Though under the slightly less wimp sounding name, Tidal.

As previously reported, the company launched WiMP HiFi in October last year. The option cost double the price of a standard premium account on the service, but brought CD quality music to streaming for the first time.

On the expansion plans, WiMP CEO Andy Chen said: "Tidal reflects our mission to deliver the highest quality music streaming service. From making sure there's no loss in sound quality to telling the stories behind the creation of the music, we aim to maximise the listening experience. We are catering to people who really appreciate the quality things in life, whether that is music, sound or lifestyle, because quality should not be compromised and because music fans now demand more from their music service".

Tidal will launch with a catalogue of 25 million tracks, all playable at more than twice the bitrate of Spotify's highest quality setting, as well as 75,000 HD music videos. As with WiMP HiFi, it will also offer curated editorial recommendations and playlists.

While other streaming services battle it out to convince mainstream consumers to start spending ten pounds a month on music, a big expenditure increase for most people, Tidal aims to attract more engaged music consumers, many of whom will already be users of other streaming services but who might be turned on by improved sound quality.

Chen continues: "Initially, streaming was all about access to everything, everywhere, which many services now provide. Tidal is not just another one of those providers. From the start, we knew that music streaming is not just about millions of tracks or thousands of playlists. Instead, it is about the ultimate music experience that makes you want to stop and listen. Rather than remaining in the background to some other activity, music deserves to take centre stage with quality at its heart".

It's a shame all those high-audio-quality-fans just spent all that money on pointless Pono players, as this seems like something much more useful to them.

  Approved: Bear's Den
Folk makers Bear's Den have had a very busy year this year indeed. They've just completed a European tour and are about to head off to the US and Canada. In between all of this they've been very nice and made an album called 'Islands', which is due to be released on 20 Oct. You can pre-order it on iTunes here if you want.

In the meantime, they've unveiled a new single called 'Above The Clouds Of Pompeii'. And before you ask, no, it's got nothing to do with Bastille. Apparently it was written in the back of a VW Campervan and you can't get much more folk-y than that. They do, however, list Barry Manilow as one of their main influences on their Facebook page, which is er, not so Folk-y.

Listen to 'Above The Clouds Of Pompeii' here.
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Cee Lo returns to Twitter
Cee Lo Green has returned to Twitter, having deleted his account on the social network following outcry about comments he made about rape earlier this week.

As previously reported, Green last week pleaded no contest to charges of giving the drug ecstasy to a woman without her knowledge. He had previously also been accused of sexually assaulting her, though those specific charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Subsequently, he posted a number of tweets discussing the case. One suggested that women should try to remember if they're raped, and another many took to mean that he believed that it wasn't rape if the woman was unconscious.

Resurrecting his Twitter account yesterday, the singer wrote: "I truly and deeply apologise for the comments attributed to me on Twitter. Those comments were idiotic, untrue and not what I believe".

The phrase "comments attributed to me" is a strange choice, though he does seem to accept that it was he who made the comments.

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Radio 1 music boss man George Ergatoudis will be named International Music Industry Person Of The Year at the MUSEXPO music business conference in LA next April. More at

• Record industry trade bodies AIM and BPI are teaming up with UK Trade & Investment to stage a trade mission to India to coincide with the country's NH7 Weekender festival and the Mix Radio Music Connects conference in November.

• Sony/ATV has promoted Jennifer Knoepfle to Senior Vice President, Creative at its LA office. The change comes among a series of West Coast A&R changes.

• US indie label group A2IM have also made a number of changes. Molly Neuman is now Vice President replacing Jim Mahoney; also in new roles are Jennifer Masset as Senior Director, Fawn Goodman as Industry Relations and Communications and Marcus Assenmacher as Operations Manager. Phew.

• The MOBO Awards are back in London after a five year hiatus. The event will be held at Wembley Arena on 22 Oct.

• Ultra has signed top remix man Kygo. Chris Martin recently asked him to remix Coldplay's track 'Midnight' and he's due to be producing original material to be released later this year.

• Ms Lauren Hill has announced a very special show at Brooklyn Bowl, London, on 28 Sep, after recently selling out two consecutive shows at Brixton Academy.

• The Good Times In The Park Festival has been cancelled due to technical difficulties. The Norman Jay helmed event was due to be held in Wormwood Scrubs on 13-14 Sep. All tickets are refundable though, yay!

• Yeah Yeah Yeah's frontwoman Karen O has released a new track called 'Day Go By', which you can listen to here. She's also playing a couple of intimate shows at London's Bush Hall on the 4-5 Oct, you can try to get your hands on some tickets here.

• Kele's got a new video out for his song 'Doubt' which you can view here. He's got an EP coming out on 13 Oct called 'Trick' too.

• CMU approvee The Bug has announced that his new EP 'Exit' will be released on 6 Oct through Ninja Tune. You can stream insect-themed track 'Black Wasp' here.

• BBC Radio 3 has announced a Christmas carolling competition... starting today. Listeners (who have not previously been professionally published) are challenged to compose under a specially commissioned poem by Susan Hill. Better whip the old violin out then. More details here.

Madonna is definitely working with Apple on something (or possibly not)
Madonna is working with Apple, or so everyone seems to think. This news comes after someone noticed that if you say "unapologetic bitch" to Apple's mobile voice assistant Siri, it brings up the singer's Wikipedia page.

Yeah, yeah, that doesn't sound like they're working together. It sounds more like Apple has some sort of grudge against Madonna. Except that 'Unapologetic Bitch' is rumoured to be the title of her new single. And said new single is rumoured to sample Siri. So now it all makes sense.

Anyway, there's this event to announce the new iPhone next week, and those things often have musical performances. It's also thought that Apple might announce what it's doing with the Beats Music streaming service at the same time. So let's all assume that Madonna is going to premiere 'Unapologetic Bitch' at the event on 9 Sep and then make it available for exclusive streaming on Beats.

Either that or it's just some quirk of how Siri conducts searches. Pick the one you think sounds more fun, I guess.

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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