TODAY'S TOP STORY: Despite being best known as a veteran artist manager and, from his time co-running Live Nation, a key player in live music, Irving Azoff has fast become a vocal figure in the music publishing domain since launching his new Global Music Rights venture, which is seeking to directly represent the public performance rights of 42 songwriters, from Smokey Robinson to... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: I've had 'Freely', the six-track latest EP by Lovepark's Kamran Khan, aka Fake Laugh, 'on repeat' again and again (so basically, on repeat repeat) since its release via Khan's cassette label Violent Tapes - and Bandcamp - in September. An autumnal fall of wistful, light-stepping guitar music to skim stones and stare through rain-blurred window panes to, it twirls and flutters... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Irving Azoff continues to put pressure on YouTube over song rights
LABELS & PUBLISHERS New Executive Board chair at PRS
BRANDS & MERCH Bob Marley estate seals deal on world's first global cannabis brand
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Billy Bragg accuses Taylor Swift of "corporate power play"
Diplo re-releases debut album through BitTorrent, plus penis news round-up
MEDIA AEG to broadcast its US festivals via its TV partner
EDUCATION & EVENTS Kobalt to support Berklee's Rethink Music initiative
RELEASES Faith Evans hints at collaborative LP with long-dead BIG
GIGS & FESTIVALS Ride reunite, announce 2015 tour
Billy Corgan quits wrestling, Smashing Pumpkins become a supergroup of sorts for Euro shows
ONE LINERS Dr Luke v Kesha, Kate Tempest x Loyle Carner, Jaden Smith and so much more
AND FINALLY... More info about the BBC's bloody music awards
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Irving Azoff continues to put pressure on YouTube over song rights
Despite being best known as a veteran artist manager and, from his time co-running Live Nation, a key player in live music, Irving Azoff has fast become a vocal figure in the music publishing domain since launching his new Global Music Rights venture, which is seeking to directly represent the public performance rights of 42 songwriters, from Smokey Robinson to Pharrell Williams, where previously licencees would likely have relied on licences for collecting societies, or 'performing rights organisations' if you prefer.

As previously reported, as YouTube got busy unveiling its new Music Key service last week, Azoff claimed that - while the Google subsidiary might now have deals in place with most of the record labels to launch its stepped up freemium services and in-beta subscription offer - it did not have the right licences relating to the copyright in the songs (as opposed to the recordings) created by GMR's songwriter clients. Azoff reckons that this affects some 20,000 songs in total.

Legal letters are now being exchanged between Azoff's company and YouTube, resulting in a debate that could test a number of areas of American copyright law.

That would include the reach of licences provided by US collecting societies ASCAP and BMI; the definition of a stream in copyright terms, in particular what elements of the copyright (performance, mechanical copy etc) are being employed when music is streamed; and whether an audio track plus image (which will become more common as YouTube adds album tracks into its system) should be classified as a video or audio stream.

And, perhaps most importantly, the reach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbours in enabling YouTube to run an 'opt out' rather than 'opt in' system at the core of its music service.

According to Billboard, the main flow of conversation between GMR and YouTube so far has been for the latter to claim it does, in fact, have licences covering the song rights the former refers to. But GMR counters that YouTube has not yet made it clear on what grounds it believes it has those licences in place (is it relying on BMI/ASCAP licences, or a licence from a collecting society abroad, or some sort of direct deal with a corporate music rights owner?), and Azoff's company wants some clarification.

GMR's legal rep Howard King is quoted in Billboard thus: "Obviously, if YouTube contends that it has properly licensed any of the songs for public broadcast, a contention we believe to be untrue, demand is hereby made that we be furnished with documentation of such licenses".

If it transpires that YouTube does not have the right licences - or if it's easy for GRM to revoke any agreement via which the video site is accessing the rights to its writer's songs - then the next big debate is how Azoff's company can go about having the songs remove from both the Google firm's new Music Key service and the YouTube platform at large.

As a user-upload set-up, YouTube, of course, has always said that if rights owners don't want their content on the site they need to spot it and issue a takedown notice, as described in the DMCA. The firm's Content ID system is there to help with this process, but ultimately it's the rights owner's job to police its content as it appears on the YouTube platform.

This is a pretty accurate interpretation of the DMCA, though plenty of rights owners have complained about the onus it puts on labels and publishers. And Azoff might yet take YouTube to task on this point, he having remarked that "they hide behind safe harbour, but that doesn't protect a knowing and wilful infringer".

That latter part of that remark is key, because the notion of "wilful infringer" has been debated in some recent US court cases as a possible way of limiting the DMCA safe harbours, albeit with limited success so far. Meanwhile others have noted that, as YouTube starts to pump content into its system itself as part of the album track element of Music Key, it won't necessarily be able to rely on DMCA safe harbours - which cover only user uploads - so may have to go further to ensure it isn't violating the copyrights of song owners, even if the content it self-uploads comes from its label partners.

Azoff says he's not planning on going legal on all this just yet, though the language being employed by GMR and its lawyers might be more threatening in tone than YouTube is used to. Certainly this whole element of the YouTube v music community debate is one to watch.

Though for now YouTube itself is adopting a conciliatory tone, telling Billboard: "We've done deals with labels, publishers, collection societies and more to bring artists' music into YouTube Music Key. To achieve our goal of enabling this service's features on all the music on YouTube, we'll keep working with both the music community and with the music fans invited to our beta phase".

New Executive Board chair at PRS
The UK music publishing sector's collecting society PRS For Music has announced the appointment of Stephen Davidson to chair its Executive Board, and also to lead its licensing and nomination-remuneration committees. Davidson replaces Peter Bamford, who stood down from his external director role at PRS last month after six years with the society.

Confirming the appointment, PRS CEO Robert Ashcroft told reporters: "Stephen's experience at the helm of so many global companies positioned him ideally for the role of Chairman of our Executive Board. The breadth of his knowledge, particularly of media and telecoms, perfectly equips him to help to drive our business forward and I am delighted to welcome him to PRS For Music".

Bob Marley estate seals deal on world's first global cannabis brand
Already a high-earning dead celebrity, with official lines in clothing, coffee and 'earth-friendly headphones' retailing in his name, Bob Marley's name and image will now front 'the world's first global cannabis brand', Marley Natural.

The late reggae star's estate has confirmed a deal with Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm with expertise within the blossoming recreational weed trade, via which it will start shipping various forms of 'the herb' (only to areas where it's legal to sell, of course) towards the end of 2015.

And those forms are, in the main, "heirloom cannabis strains", plus cannabis and hemp-based lotions and balms, and, at long last, official Bob Marley-branded 'accessories' and smoking paraphernalia. One love.

Speaking via The Guardian on his vision for the company in light of the blossoming international trade in legal cannabis (this especially post the passing of pro-weed-legalisation in some American states) Privateer's Chief Executive Brendan Kennedy has said: "We are in a state of rapid transformation, some 70% of Americans now live in a state where cannabis in some form is legal", apparently adding that he imagines Marley Natural potentially one day matching a post-prohibition alcohol brand. Or Starbucks.

He adds: "Partnering with us is a way of protecting his image. We've learned a lot over the past year about Bob's views towards cannabis and how he viewed the herb differently. We are honoured to work with the Marley family to bring his voice to a professional, authentic and modern brand that will be a defining first in the cannabis industry".

Meanwhile, speaking for the Marley family, Marley Sr's daughter Cedella has said: "My dad viewed the herb as something spiritual that could awaken our well-being, deepen our reflection, connect us to nature and liberate our creativity", adding that the creation of Marley Natural is an "authentic way to honour his legacy by adding his voice to the conversation about cannabis and helping end the social harms caused by prohibition".

Billy Bragg accuses Taylor Swift of "corporate power play"
Billy Bragg has accused Taylor Swift's stand against Spotify as being "nothing more than a corporate power play", suggesting that she had in fact been paid by Google to promote its new YouTube Music Key subscription service.

Writing on Facebook yesterday, Bragg said: "What a shame that Taylor Swift's principled stand against those who would give her music away for free has turned out to be nothing more than a corporate power play. On pulling her music from Spotify recently, she made a big issue of the fact that the majority of the streaming service's users listen to her tracks for nothing rather than signing up to the subscription service".

Noting her statements that music should be considered to have value, rather than being accessible for free, he continued: "These worthy sentiments have been somewhat undermined by Swift making her new album and back catalogue available on Google's new Music Key streaming service... which also offers listeners a free service alongside a premium subscription tier".

"She should just be honest with her fans and say, 'Sorry, but Sergey Brin gave me a huge amount of money to be the headline name on the marquee for the launch of YouTube Music Key and so I've sold my soul to Google'", he said.

He added that "YouTube is the greatest threat to any commercially based streaming service", speculating that the launch of Music Key is Google following a "Starbucks strategy" of trying to put its competitors out of business by overwhelming the market. In a final note to Swift, he said: "Please don't try to sell this corporate power play to us as some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers".

Responding to Bragg's post in a statement, a spokesperson for Swift said: "Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google's new music streaming service".

While Swift's catalogue is available on YouTube Music Key - despite also being available fully on-demand for free elsewhere on the platform too - her new album, '1989', will not be playable on the new subscription-based product, as with other licensed streaming services.


Diplo re-releases debut album through BitTorrent, plus penis news round-up
BitTorrent has made its new and previously reported 'bundle' system, which allows artists to release music and charge for it via the file-sharing protocol, available to all. And the first post-launch artist to do so is that Diplo.

Jumping on the zeitgeist, BitTorrent's Chief Content Officer Matt Mason said in a statement: "Taylor Swift sparked debate over the state of music in recent weeks; the value of a stream, the value of a record. The value of art shouldn't be up for debate. It should be up to artists. Our goal with BitTorrent Bundle is to restore control to creators".

Well, he would say that. And though BitTorrent's Bundle does give artists extra controls over how they distribute and value their content, and the technology firm only takes at 10% cut of the loot, all the other existing direct-to-fan platforms offer similar functionality (and more), usually on a similar commission rate. But BitTorrent reckons its D2F system can reach a bigger audience because of all the naughty people using its technology to access music from the file-sharing networks.

The first artist to use Bundle to extract cash from fans was, of course, Tom York from The Radioheads, with his new solo album. The title was something to do with boxes, I think. Anyway, that album. You remember. Diplo is now offering a tenth anniversary edition of his debut album, 'Florida', via Bundle, which features some extra bonus stuff, like a remix and a message from Diplo himself. Lovely.

Says Diplo: "I made 'Florida' between a small apartment in Philadelphia and my mother's house in Florida. I was working late nights and taking a bus through the city every night, smoking weed, putting on headphones and just making things I never heard before and could just imagine. Making this record created an entirely new world for me. Now that I think back it's a very strange beginning and it's crazy it's been ten years since its first release, but really, this record represents my first 23 years of life - what I had inside of me and where I came from so I'm excited to revisit it".

You'd think he would have mentioned BitTorrent there, but no. Well, anyway, you can buy the anniversary package via normal channels next month. Maybe just wait for that. Anyway, enough of this. I know you're only reading this because you're wondering about Diplo's penis. Well, lucky for you, I have two bits of other news related to that. Kind of.

Number one: He and Lorde are friends again, after she accused him of having a small penis. This, of course, came after he suggested that Lorde's buddy Taylor Swift should do something about the size of her "booty". He tweeted Lorde on Monday and asked her to come to the premiere of the new 'Hunger Games' film with him. She declined, but was nice about it. So that's all fine now.

Number two: Diplo has had a child. Well, his ex-girlfriend Kathryn Lockhart has. Though I assume his penis was involved at some point, hence this news featuring here. The child, a boy, has been named (by both parents, contrary to most reports on this) Lazer Lee Louis Pentz.

And that is all the Diplo penis/music news I have right now.

AEG to broadcast its US festivals via its TV partner
AEG has announced some details about the festival coverage that will be aired on the US TV channel in which it has a stake during 2015.

AXS TV, which shares its brand with AEG's ticketing platform, broadcast from the second weekend of Coachella earlier this year, and will do so again next April. Though AXS TV will also be filming content at the Stagecoach, Jazzfest, Rock On The Range and Firefly festivals next year too, amounting to about 70 hours of coverage.

Confirming all of this, AXS TV Founder Mark Cuban said in a statement: "AXS TV is committed to delivering the best in live music, and we're proud to continue that legacy with this groundbreaking line up. Nothing compares to a live music event, and now our audience will get a front-row seat to five incredible festivals, as we bring the ultimate concert experience to our viewers".

Kobalt to support Berklee's Rethink Music initiative
Music rights group Kobalt has announced an alliance with the Berklee College Of Music in Boston, which will see the former provide the latter with a two year grant to fund its Rethink Music initiative to, and I quote, "continue its series of global events and fund a student study in conjunction with Berklee's newly formed Institute For Creative Entrepreneurship". So now your know.

Confirming this, Allen Bargfrede, Executive Director of Rethink Music for Berklee College Of Music, told reporters: "We are extremely excited and grateful to be working with Kobalt, a well known as a leader and forward-thinking company in the music space, and this partnership will allow us to continue to pursue our goal of fostering the new music industry. Through our project work in the coming months on technology and transparency, and via our entrepreneurship events, we expect outputs which will both alter the space and create opportunities for Berklee students".

Meanwhile Kobalt boss Willard Ahdritz said: "We are thrilled to be working together with this prestigious school and their outstanding young students. They are our future! The motives and objectives of Berklee's Rethink initiative align closely with our own at Kobalt, and I'm confident that the work we are doing together will produce direction and solutions that will help shape the music industry of the future".

  Approved: Fake Laugh
I've had 'Freely', the six-track latest EP by Lovepark's Kamran Khan, aka Fake Laugh, 'on repeat' again and again (so basically, on repeat repeat) since its release via Khan's cassette label Violent Tapes - and Bandcamp - in September.

An autumnal fall of wistful, light-stepping guitar music to skim stones and stare through rain-blurred window panes to, it twirls and flutters lightly in a Real Estate-sian vein, all with Khan's butter-kissed call skimming bird-like over the top.

Listen in here.
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Faith Evans hints at collaborative LP with long-dead BIG
American R&B lady Faith Evans is to release an LP featuring verses by her late husband, rapper The Notorious BIG, with the provisional title 'The King And I'.

Interviewed on the project by HipHollywood, she said its tone is inspired by 'Unforgettable... With Love', Natalie Cole's 1991 LP of her late father's classic songs - which featured his voice spliced in next to hers on her version of 'Unforgettable' - and will be made up of "unheard music ... in the presentation of it". Which I think means it'll be tracks fans may've already heard, only re-styled and with bits added and/or taken away.

"It's something I've been thinking about for many, many years, and I finally got all my ducks in a row to try and make it happen", added Hill, who recently released her new BIG-less solo LP, 'Incomparable'.

So that doesn't sound too bad, really. At least, not as bad as Barry Manilow's recently-released LP of 'dream' duets with a variety of all-deceased artists which was... let's say, 'of questionable taste'. Or in short, plain creepy.

Whilst Evans' record is still in its early stages, she anticipates she'll be able to release an initial preview "in the next year or so".

Ride reunite, announce 2015 tour
I don't think there can be a person among us who didn't think, upon hearing the news of Beady Eye's split, 'Well that leaves things clear for a Ride reunion'. That was the reunion you were all thinking of, right? Good.

Anyway, Ride have reformed and they're going on tour. The first hint of an impending announcement came when a picture of the word 'RIDE' emblazoned on the side of a building was posted to the Creation Records Facebook page yesterday. An official announcement then followed on Shaun Keaveny's 6 Music show this morning.

The band's last live performance was at the Benacassim Festival in Spain in 1995, and their last UK show was supporting Oasis at the Brighton Centre in December 1994. Since then guitarist Andy Bell went on to play with Oasis (and Beady Eye), drummer Laurence Colbert performed with various bands, including Supergrass, frontman Mark Gardener went solo, and bassist Steve Queralt retired from music altogether.

And now they're back. Back for good. Or at least until next year's Field Day festival, which they will headline on 7 Jun. Ahead of that, they will play some other shows in the UK, and in Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Toronto and New York. The UK shows are these:

22 May: Glasgow, Barrowlands
23 May: Manchester, Albert Hall
24 May: London, The Roundhouse

Tickets will be on sale this Friday from 9am via


Billy Corgan quits wrestling, Smashing Pumpkins becomes a supergroup of sorts for Euro shows
Billy Corgan has quit professional wrestling. Both officially and unofficially. And not a moment too soon, because he's got plenty of other stuff to be getting on with. Like a London show with a new celeb-heavy Smashing Pumpkins line-up.

Corgan tweeted earlier this week: "For those interested, I've left Resistance Pro Wrestling, officially and unofficially. Details to follow in the coming weeks. And though this is by no means a way to reach them, I'd like to thank the talented wrestlers, managers, and valets I've worked with".

Good work, valets. You can all have a signed copy of the new Smashing Pumpkins album, 'Monuments To An Elegy', which is out on 8 Dec. Just say I said it was OK.

To promote the album, the Smashing Pumpkins will play four shows in Europe. And this won't just be one of those 'Billy Corgan and some people you don't recognise' Smashing Pumpkins shows. No. Joining Corgan and some guy called Jeff Schroeder will be Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk and Mark Stoermer of The Killers on bass.

A London show is going to happen at Koko on 5 Dec. Tickets are on sale now at this link. Here's a song they might play, the latest track to be released from 'Monuments To An Elegy', called 'Tiberius'.

Dr Luke v Kesha, McBusted, Jaden Smith and so much more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Dr Luke has moved to have part of Kesha's lawsuit against him dismissed. His lawyers argued this week that her accusation of rape against him is barred by the statute of limitations. No decision has yet been made.

• The many, many man-boys of McBusted have released an extra 'teaser' track titled 'Hate Your Guts' featuring Blink 182's Mark Hoppus, this pre the 1 Dec release of their first LP as a superband.

• Mercury nominee Kate Tempest and CMU approvee Loyle Carner have teamed up for a new track. Called 'Guts', the track will be released by Speedy Wunderground on 8 Dec. Listen here.

• The long ago CMU approved Nadine Shah is back with a new song, the first track from her second album, which is due early next year. The track is called 'Stealing Cars', which is something you should never do. Take your mind off your thieve-y urges by listening to the song here.

• Palma Violets, Fat White Family, The Amazing Snakeheads and Slaves are all climbing aboard 2015's NME Awards Tour, which is still sponsored by the city of Austin, Texas for whatever reason. The tour starts on 19 Feb 2015 at the Sheffield Leadmill. Early bird tickets are on sale now via NME.

• The Jesus And Mary Chain have added some overflow dates to their Feb 2015 UK anniversary tour for 1985's 'Psychocandy' LP. The extra shows are in Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham, and full listings are here.

• Classical pop band Clean Bandit are headlining a whole lot of shows in March 2015, this in ongoing promo backing of their present LP 'New Eyes'. Catch them first at Belfast's Mandela Hall on 5 Mar.

CMU approved London band Virginia Wing will play a launch party for their dark, swirling whirlpool of a latest LP 'Measures Of Joy' on 13 Dec, at London's Dalston Trinity Hall. Get event details and tickets here, and stream VW's new single 'Meshes' here.

• By now you'll have read the joint interview with Jaden and Willow Smith that ran in the New York Times over the weekend. No? Oh god, go and do it now. And once you're done, you can listen to some music Jaden has made. First, 'Blue Ocean', which is an offcut from his debut album, and a few instrumental tracks he's hoping people will rap over. Or don't. That might be preferable.

More info about the BBC's bloody music awards
The BBC has announced some more information about its first ever BBC Music Awards, which will take place on 11 Dec at Earls Court and about which I'm sure you're all very excited indeed. You excited? Of course you are. Why wouldn't you be? Well, apart from all the obvious reasons.

Anyway, here's all you need to know from the Beeb's latest announcements (actually, a bit of this we already knew)...

1. BBC 1, Radio 1 and Radio 2 will unite for a live simulcast of the event plus pre and post show wobblings.

2. While Chris Evans and Fearne Cotton will host the main proceedings, Jo Whiley and Nick Grimshaw will present programming leading up to the big event.

3. Zane Lowe and Sara Cox will then host a live after party from 10pm.

4. One Direction, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, Clean Bandit and Paloma Faith are all confirmed to play, but there are more star turns to be announced.

5. There will be no less than three awards: British Artist Of The Year, International Artist Of The Year and Song Of The Year Award.

6. Finalists for the Song Of The Year Award will be announced on the Radio 1 and Radio 2 breakfast shows earlier in the day opening up public voting.

7. Radio 1's Greg James will broadcast his show live from the venue, regularly phoning in to Simon Mayo's Radio 2 show for chats.

8. This will all be an utter waste of time and money that could be much better spent on BBC Radio's brilliant specialist shows, while labels and publishers will be forced to shell out on yet another big night out for their staff and artists, just so the same old acts can get yet another big fat pat of the back, only this time thanks to a licence fee payer subsidy.

It's possible not every one of those came from the BBC's official announcement.

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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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 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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