TODAY'S TOP STORY: The boss of Taylor Swift label Big Machine, Scott Borchetta, confirmed on Friday that it was Spotify's freemium level that caused the singer to pull her entire catalogue off the streaming platform last week. Allowing people to stream Swift's music for free on-demand anytime anywhere, with the only inconvenience an ad here or there, was an insult to the fans who paid to buy... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: A young South London MC with a lax, plain-speaking style and easily traceable links to King Krule and Jesse 'From SE' James Solomon et al's prolific but non-showy South London crowd, Loyle Carner off-loaded his five-track first 'headline' EP 'A Little Late', a nod to the long wait for its release, back in September. The EP followed profile-raising 'feat' spots on singing-songwriting-... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Brand new week, more frickin Taylor Swift
Rdio gloats over Spotify and Deezer's Swifty situation
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Guvera launches in India
MEDIA Radio Academy axes annual awards and festival
ARTIST NEWS Calvin Harris cancels MTV EMA performance due to "heart problems"
"No foul play" in Wayne Static death
GIGS & FESTIVALS Just Jam confirms 'live at the Barbican' do-over with JME, Omar Souleyman, Big Narstie and more
Mina Tindle talks streaming music's "global transition", ahead of London show this week
AWARDS MTV EMAs presented
ONE LINERS Vision Fortune, Basics Rock N Roll Party, T-Pain and a little bit more
AND FINALLY... Richard Branson's £500 million plan to reform Led Zeppelin scuppered by Robert Plant
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Brand new week, more frickin Taylor Swift
The boss of Taylor Swift label Big Machine, Scott Borchetta, confirmed on Friday that it was Spotify's freemium level that caused the singer to pull her entire catalogue off the streaming platform last week. Allowing people to stream Swift's music for free on-demand anytime anywhere, with the only inconvenience an ad here or there, was an insult to the fans who paid to buy the albums, whether on CD or download, he added.

After a few days of no comment from Swift and Borchetta after the biggest popstar of the moment pulled out of Spotify entirely early last week, both singer and label chief provided comment in separate interviews on Thursday and Friday.

Swift was less specific about the entire catalogue pull in her interview with Yahoo, speaking mostly about her hesitance in sharing new music on the streaming platforms, saying that she'd given it a go with single 'Shake It Off' and that it just didn't feel right. Though she repeated concerns aired in an earlier Wall Street Journal op-ed about music being available on-demand for free, as well as delivering what might be called the killer blow in this debate.

She told Yahoo: "All I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I'm not willing to contribute my life's work to an experiment that I don't feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music".

Borchetta, meanwhile, in an interview on Nikki Sixx's radio show, confirmed what had been assumed, that his and Swift's concerns are about those streaming services that offer fully on-demand functionality for free. So platforms like Beats, with no free option, will still get Swift's music, as will personalised radio services like Pandora where full albums are not available on-demand (though, in the US at least, Swift has no control over the latter, copyright law obliging artists and rights owners to licence via SoundExchange).

And this, of course, is all for the good of the fans. "We never wanted to embarrass a fan", said Borchetta. "If this fan went and purchased the record, CD, iTunes, wherever, and then their friends go, 'Why did you pay for it? It's free on Spotify', we're being completely disrespectful to that superfan who wants to invest".

He went on: "We determined that her fanbase is so in on her, let's pull everything off of Spotify, and any other service that doesn't offer a premium [only] service. Now if you are a premium subscriber to Beats or Rdio or any of the other services [which limit fully on-demand access to premium users only], then you will find her catalogue".

So there you go. But one week on from the Swifty catalogue pull and Spotify's since criticised response via a cheesy 'Come Back, Taylor' playlist, what is the impact on the streaming service? Well, if it's only Swift's catalogue that remains absent, once the chatter dies down the short term impact will likely be limited; after all, some big name heritage artists are already hold-outs in the streaming domain.

Few subscribers will jump based on the absence of one act, the equity-holding major record companies will remain loyal, and hopefully the all important stakeholder as the digital company marches towards its IPO - ie Wall Street - will remain convinced that Spotify is, in fact, the future of music. And therefore pay big when the company floats, ensuring a handsome pay-day for early investors and the majors.

Though what if other big name artists with the contractual power to veto where their music gets played follow Swift's lead? Says Borchetta: "I've had calls from so many other managers and artists. There's a big fist in the air about this. Spotify is a really good service, they just need to be a better partner and there is a lot of support for this".

A wider exodus of big name artists from Spotify would cause problems. Of course, unlike with Swift, whose label is equally dubious about the Spotify business model, major label artists would come under pressure from their record companies not to pull. Because, while Spotify is indeed a "grand experiment", by getting shares in the company the big labels have been assured that they will be rewarded if the experiment works. Artists, however, are not cut into these rewards, and that's been an increasing bone of contention even pre the Swift Exit.

But even if Spotify's major label allies do limit any big artist exodus - maybe with some secret deals to pay bonuses to the biggest acts when those shares are cashed in, or guarantees of marketing support from the streaming platform to ensure more plays and therefore more royalties - all of this does frame a debate that is sure to be unleashed post-Spotify IPO when the majors have less need to stay loyal.

Which is the problem of the streaming service's loss-leading freemium level, a proven way to sign up premium users, but - some artists would argue - at too high a price. As previously noted, the compromise here is to pull the biggest artists out of the freemium level's catalogue, making access to those acts' music for premium users only, a move that would probably see the return of Swift's tunes to Spotify.

Though the challenge is where you draw the line without making the freemium option utterly unattractive, especially as the streaming firms turn their attention to more mainstream consumers for whom Swift et al are important. What is more likely, then, is the Rdio approach of having only a personalised radio option for free users (but with a pretty comprehensive catalogue), with fully on-demand access kicking in once you pay.

It's actually a sensible approach, but would require Spotify taking something quite considerable away from its existing freemium users. Particularly while top artist content is routinely available via user-upload platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud.

Quite how soon such compromises will have to be negotiated remains to be seen. But Spotify and its major label shareholders will be hoping serious debate can be postponed by at least a year or so, and that in the meantime the Swift Exit will remain confined to just Swift.

Look out for more discussion on the evolution of the streaming market, and the challenges of fitting freemium into the mix, in the next edition of the CMU Digest. You can now subscribe to our premium service in the CMU Shop here.


Rdio gloats over Spotify and Deezer's Swifty situation
Following its initial song and dance (ie blog post) about Taylor Swift pulling her catalogue off its service last week, Spotify remained very quiet on the matter as debate over the move rumbled on in tech and music business circles. As did all the other streaming companies, including Deezer, which also lost the singer's music.

But then on Friday, Rdio realised that still having everything Swift's ever released, bar latest album '1989', could be an opportunity to gain some ground. And so Rdio CEO Anthony Bay issued a statement declaring that: "Rdio listeners benefit from our longtime commitment to respecting the choices artists and their labels make about how their songs should be distributed. Let's always remember that artists deserve a say in how their music is shared with their fans".

He was, of course, referring to Spotify's insistence that any music it has in its system is made available to customers at all pricing tiers, from freemium to full premium. Rdio, meanwhile, only allows paying subscribers to access albums in a full on-demand style, while freeloaders have to make do with the "ad-supported internet radio experience". And as Borchetta confirmed this weekend, that limitation is sufficient to overcome his and Swift's concerns over her music being available for free to all, while avid fans are paying.

Most of Spotify's rivals have launched without a freemium level, instead relying on a short free trial offer, though many have subsequently followed their Swedish competitor's lead after seeing how much quicker it signs up new users when it enters a market. Rdio's business model has changed a number of times since its launch, originally having no freemium option, then a time limited one, and now the Pandora-style "ad-supported internet radio experience".

Whether personalised radio can attract enough freemium users to drive sufficient premium upsells is debatable, though it could be that the Rdio approach will become the norm long-term.

Guvera launches in India
Australia-based streaming service Guvera has launched in India, so that's a thing.

Originally launched in Australia and the US as one of those ad-funded download set-ups that never really worked, Guvera morphed into an ad-funded personalised radio service, announcing an alliance with 7digital earlier this year, part of which was linked to plans to go live in the Indian market.

The launch in India last week follows the arrival of the mobile-based service in the past year in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, with Universal, The Orchard and INgrooves providing content in the Asian markets.

Confirming the all important arrival in the Indian market, Founder Claes Loberg told reporters: "We are both proud and excited to be the first-of-its-kind international music streaming offering to enter India; a market that is truly diverse in terms of its taste for music. Guvera provides its users with an unmatched user-friendly experience. We plan to provide our Indian users with the best expert-curated local and international content - all they have to do is hit the 'play' button".

Radio Academy axes annual awards and festival
The Radio Academy last week announced some radical changes that will see the axing of its two key events - the Radio Festival and Radio Academy Awards (aka for most of its history the Sony Awards) - and the axing of its London office and staff of four.

The Academy, perhaps most notable for bringing together the BBC and the commercial radio sector, was always a pretty small operation, but with its big annual awards show and industry conference it punched above its weight, controlling two of the radio industry's biggest annual events in addition to running an online resource and more regular networking and training sessions.

The loss of Sony as a headline sponsor of the annual awards show likely posed some big challenges for the radio industry group, which perhaps made last week's announcements somewhat inevitable, though the cutbacks - which were unanimously backed by the Academy's thirteen trustees after a "strategic review" - nevertheless came as a surprise.

Though in their announcement, the trustees were keen to stress that the Academy was not shutting down, adding that a new annual event would be created to replace the awards and festival, likely taking place in London. Radio 1's Ben Cooper, who is Chair of the Academy, said: "I'm confident and determined that as an industry we can create an exciting and modern event that retains the gravitas of over 30 years of Awards".

The Academy's London office will close at the end of the year. Last week's announcements won't affect this month's Radio Production Awards - staged by the organisation with the Radio Independents Group - the nominations for which were also announced last week.

  Approved: Loyle Carner
A young South London MC with a lax, plain-speaking style and easily traceable links to King Krule and Jesse 'From SE' James Solomon et al's prolific but non-showy South London crowd, Loyle Carner off-loaded his five-track first 'headline' EP 'A Little Late', a nod to the long wait for its release, back in September.

The EP followed profile-raising 'feat' spots on singing-songwriting-violin-playing wonderkid Tom Misch's 'Karma' and Irish rapper Rejjie Snow's '1992', and now, rising off all that, is Carner's strings-trimmed new track 'Baby Grey', created as a Tate-commissioned reaction to the work of Turner Prize-nominated artist Tris Vonna-Michell.

Vonna-Michell makes audio and spoken-word shorts with many-graded "circuitous" narratives and, as I guess is the point of the whole collaboration, 'Baby Grey' does the same, lapping backwards and forwards in time, mixing real stories and imagined nostalgia in a way that, like Vonna-Michell's work, is meant to both inform and to baffle.

Hear 'Baby Grey' here.
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Calvin Harris cancels MTV EMA performance due to "heart problems"
Calvin Harris pulled out of a planned performance at yesterday's MTV European Music Awards due to "heart problems".

A message announcing the cancellation appeared on the MTV EMA Facebook page on Saturday, saying: "We have some really sad news. Calvin Harris has taken ill and will not be able to perform at tomorrow's show. He sends his sincere apologies. Get well soon, Calvin!"

Harris then tweeted: "No EMAs for me this weekend. Got some heart problems. Heading home to see if it can be fixed".

Both updates have since been deleted.


"No foul play" in Wayne Static death
A coroner investigating the death of former Static X frontman Wayne Static has said that "no foul play is suspected", though an exact cause of death is yet to be determined.

In a statement, a spokesperson for San Bernardino Coroner's Office told Blabbermouth: "We can confirm the death of Wayne Dick Static, a 48 year old Landers resident on 1 Nov at his home. While the manner of death is listed as pending, no foul play is suspected. No further details are available at this time".

As previously reported, Static died earlier this month, the day after announcing a UK tour in January. It was initially rumoured that he had died from a drug overdose, though his family and his wife, Tera Wray, have denied that he was using drugs at the time of his death.

Just Jam confirms 'live at the Barbican' do-over w/ JME, Omar Souleyman, Big Narstie and more
Online streaming channel Just Jam is going to give the whole 'live at the Barbican' thing another go, with JJ bosses Tim & Barry having arranged a night at London's Barbican Hall on 13 Dec following the cancellation of a similar event, at considerably late notice, earlier this year.

As previously reported, said cancellation happened on the advice of the City Of London Police, who had shared "public safety concerns" with the Barbican as to the event's management; specifically potential overcrowding and the sale of alcohol. The latter of which didn't make a great deal of sense given it was a sixteen-and-over-only show like all the other sixteen-and-over-only shows with on-site bars.

Apparently not privy to that dialogue until the last minute, Tim & Barry, who'd already staged a number of Just Jam workshops in collaboration with the Barbican, admitted at the time that they were "struggling to understand" what had gone wrong, adding: "We will try to start a dialogue with the police so we can discuss whatever issues they have".

Well, it looks like all those 'issues' are now smoothed over, as a now-safety-proofed 'Just Jam At The Barbican' is going ahead, at the Barbican, featuring sets by Omar Souleyman, JME, Big Narstie, Mumdance, Novelist, Traxman and Litebulba. So basically a near-identical line-up to the one at the cancelled event. Which was and still is: great!

All acts will play sets in typical Just Jam style (only up-scaled onto giant screens for HD viewing), with wobbly camerawork and weird green-screen visuals, which will be specially commissioned by a range of digital artists.

Tickets are available here.


Mina Tindle talks streaming music's "global transition", ahead of London show this week
French singer-songwriter Mina Tindle will be in London this week to promote her recently released second album, 'Parades'.

Discussing the album, Tindle told CMU: "I did not have a clear idea of what I wanted [before I wrote 'Parades'], I never really have. For me, music, and especially work in the studio must remain unpredictable to be magic. What is certain though, is that I have changed between these two records, and I think both reflect who I was, or how I was feeling when I recorded them. I can say when I look back, that 'Parades' is less cerebral and more spontaneous".

She also weighed in on (ie answered a question about) the streaming music debate, in the wake of Taylor Swift's decision to pull all of her music off Spotify and Deezer last week. "It is a complex issue and I think music industry is sick", she said. "Streaming does not help it, it is true. But in a way, this is how it works these days - music and culture are available for 'everyone'. You cannot fight a global transition. Personally, I stream music and buy records and vinyl and go to shows".

Catch Mina Tindle at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen in London on 13 Nov, read her full CMU Q&A here, and watch her performing her latest single, 'The Curse', in session by a lagoon here.

MTV EMAs presented
What a night! What a party! What a show! What an extravaganza of musical magic and magnificence! What a... well, I wasn't there. I don't know. What a cavalcade of pop mediocrity and celebrity nonsense? No, I'm sure the MTV EMAs were a marvel.

I mean, look how excited one-time MTV reality show star Ozzy Osbourne was at being named Global Icon. "I don't know where they got this icon shit from" he declared, "but it's good to be here tonight. God bless you all, thank you for coming". Oh, and One Direction sent in a tape to say thanks for their three gongs. Glorious!

And look, here are the winners, direct from Glasgow. Did I mention Biffy Clyro were there? And Royal Blood. And David Hasselhoff. What a rock n roll frenzy.

Best Song: Ariana Grande feat Iggy Azalea - Problem
Best Song With a Message: Beyonce - Pretty Hurts
Best Video: Katy Perry feat Juicy J - Dark Horse

Best Female: Ariana Grande
Best Male: Justin Bieber
Best Live: One Direction
Best New: Five Seconds Of Summer
Worldwide Act: Bibi Zhou

Best Pop: One Direction
Best Rock: Linkin Park
Best Alternative: 30 Seconds To Mars
Best Hip Hop: Nicki Minaj

Best Look: Katy Perry
Best Push: Five Seconds Of Summer
Best World Stage: Enrique Iglesias
Biggest Fans: One Direction

Global Icon: Ozzy Osbourne

Vision Fortune, Basics Rock N Roll Party, T-Pain and a little bit more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Experimental band Vision Fortune have signed to ATP Recordings, and will release their new LP, 'Country Music', via the label on 9 Feb 2015. Its twelve featured tracks were recorded while VF were doing a two month research residency in Tuscany, as everyone does. Research lead single 'Dry Mouth' here.

• One-time BMI corporate man Richard Conlon is to act as Special Advisor On Performing Rights to Universal Music Publishing Group, having entered into an agreement with UMPG to "counsel the company on matters related to advocating, protecting and maximising the value of performing rights on behalf of UMPG and its songwriters".

• Gotye and his band's pro-'the arts' political party, the Basics Rock N Roll Party, has been given official 'political party' status by the Electoral Commission in their native Victoria, Australia. Whilst Gotye is taking a back seat with it, his colleagues Tim Heath and Kris Schroeder are going forward as candidates in the state elections later this month.

• T-Pain's post-Autotune-phase renaissance has hit a high via 'Stoicville', the title track of his forthcoming LP, for which the rap/singer has so far made 127 potential songs. Stream 'Stoicville' now.

• Ooh la la la; this is a quick aside to reiterate that Azealia Banks went rogue (as only a self-releasing artist can) last week and released her long-time-coming first LP 'Broke With Expensive Taste' on iTunes. Polite applause all round. You're probably all sick of listening to it by now, still if not, like I said, it's on iTunes.

Richard Branson's £500 million plan to reform Led Zeppelin scuppered by Robert Plant
In 2012, you might remember, Gene Simmons claimed to have been given "a few hundred million dollars" to give to Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as payment for a Led Zeppelin reunion. The scheme failed, said Simmons, because "Robert just doesn't want to do it".

Then earlier this year, Page claimed that Plant was "holding up" plans for a reunion of the surviving members of the band by "playing games". Plant responded in The Daily Express by saying: "I feel for [Jimmy]. He knows he's got the headlines if he wants them. But I don't know what he's trying to do. So I feel slightly disappointed and baffled".

So those are some things that people have said. And now The Mirror is saying some things too, bringing those 'hundreds of millions of dollars' back into the equation again. And it's being quite specific as to how and by whom that money would be paid. According to the tabloid, Richard Branson offered Plant, Page and bassist John Paul Jones £190 million each to reform the band for 35 shows, but Plant refused.

An unnamed source told the paper: "Jimmy, John and Jason signed up immediately. It was a no-brainer for them but Robert asked for 48 hours to think about it. When he said no and ripped up the paperwork he had been given, there was an enormous sense of shock. There is no way they can go ahead without him".

Now, at this point you might be wondering how anyone - even Branson - could ever make their money back on that kind of project paying those kind of fees. It's alright, I will tell you. As you may be aware, the Virgin chief owns some aeroplanes. And he had hatched a plan, so the story goes, to put the band on one of those aeroplanes to get them from concert venue to concert venue. The empty seats on said plane would then be filled with wealthy Led Zep fans, all paying £100,000 each for their seats.

It would be a bit like that thing Rihanna did, but on a commercial rather than promotional basis, and perhaps less disastrous. Or maybe more so. I guess we'll never know. And we'll probably never know if these hundreds of million related to Gene Simmons' hundreds of millions. Or, indeed, if there were any hundreds of millions of pounds/dollars being thrown around anywhere at all. Still, it was a fun story, right?

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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