TODAY'S TOP STORY: Ahead of its big announcement tomorrow, Spotify today confirmed an alliance with Starbucks in the US - set to extend to the UK and Canada - which will result in a "first-of-its-kind music ecosystem". That may or may not incorporate some well fit video goodness, depending on what tomorrow's big Spotify announcement turns out to be. Imagine if it's all about tea. Anyway... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: A lot of people wanted to know the name of the song that played in the video that separated the sessions at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape last week. Well this is it, people. This is it. 'Maxwell's Waves' by AK/DK. Aside from this allowing me to crowbar in another mention for our wonderful conference, the fact that video played so frequently during CMU@TGE... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Spotify announces Starbucks alliance
LEGAL The Pirate Bay helps Sweden's profile worldwide, says Swedish Institute
DEALS Communion announced US alliance with Universal's Capitol Music Group
BMG buys Rise Records
Kobalt announces alliance with new Lava publishing company
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Note this Proper rejig
ENTERTAINMENT RETAIL HMV to return to mail-order
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Lorde reportedly splits from manager
MARKETING & PR The music marketing plan of the future is longer term and more collaborative
OBITUARIES BB King 1925-2015
AND FINALLY... Lee Ryan files for bankruptcy
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Spotify announces Starbucks alliance
Ahead of its big announcement tomorrow, Spotify today confirmed an alliance with Starbucks in the US - set to extend to the UK and Canada - which will result in a "first-of-its-kind music ecosystem". That may or may not incorporate some well fit video goodness, depending on what tomorrow's big Spotify announcement turns out to be. Imagine if it's all about tea.

Anyway, back to today's news, and what will this "first-of-its-kind music ecosystem" involve? Mainly Starbucks-branded playlists on Spotify and the chance for Starbucks loyalty card holders to influence the music being played in the coffee seller's stores. But with lots of froth and not much tax being paid, I'd imagine.

Spotify Premium will be promoted in-store at Starbucks as part of the deal, I know that much. Possibly using the slogan, "You're all paying how much on some shitty coffee? For fucks sake, why not pay for your music too?" Printed in bold type on t-shirts. And coffee cups. And unused tax returns.

Starbucks, of course, had its own label for a while, and continued to sell CDs in many of its stores until relatively recently, so it does have some legitimacy in claiming to have a long association with music. And boy do they run with that in their big quote.

"For over 40 years, music has played a vital role in Starbucks third place experience", says the firm's CEO Howard Schultz, 'third place experience' being something Starbucks execs like to say, apparently. "It [music] has inspired our partners and customers in unexpected ways that have helped to shape the global pop culture".

I think that's possibly a roundabout way to say 'people like music', but I don't have time to stop and think about it now, because he's still talking.

"So we are delighted and honoured to bring Spotify directly to our customers", Schultz goes on. "Throughout its history, Starbucks has worked closely with the music industry, offering a variety of artists a platform for their work. By connecting Spotify's world-class streaming platform into our world-class store and digital ecosystem, we are reinventing the way our millions of global customers discover music".

The Pirate Bay helps Sweden's profile worldwide, says Swedish Institute
It's been noted before that it's a little ironic that The Pirate Bay, one of the music sector's greatest foes in its battle against piracy, and Spotify, one of the industry's greatest allies in turning former pirates into consumers, both hark from Sweden.

And while the Swedish authorities have at times led the legal battle against it's more infamous digital progeny, the Swedish Institute has admitted that both The Pirate Bay and Spotify have helped put Sweden on the map worldwide.

According to Torrentfreak, both digital platforms were included amongst a list presented by the institute of brands that have helped Sweden boost its profile across the globe, alongside more traditional players like IKEA and Volvo.

And while conceding that housing The Pirate Bay has at times strained relations between Sweden and other countries when it comes to copyright debates, Torrentfreak reckons that "what cannot be denied is how the site has raised global interest in Sweden and ensured that when it comes to discussion and progression in the digital age - especially concerning entertainment distribution - this small Scandinavian country remains at the cutting edge".

Some also note that services like Spotify possibly needed a vibrant file-sharing community from which to emerge. Partly because its business model - especially freemium - was a direct response to the impact of rampant piracy in a market where legit downloading never really took off. And partly because knowledge gained through developing file-sharing technologies informed the development of legit content services.

Communion announces US alliance with Universal's Capitol Music Group
The US wing of Communion Records, launched in New York in 2011, has announced an alliance with Universal Music's Capitol Music Group, which will see the major work with some of the indie's artists Stateside.

The first partnership under the new deal will see Virgin Records US providing development and marketing support to Communion-signed geezers Catfish And The Bottlemen, who already work with a Universal label in the UK - Island Records - who in turn have a long-term relationship with Communion chief Ben Lovett via his hobby project, aka Mumford & Sons. It's all one big indie-major love in, basically.

And getting all loved up were CMG Exec VPs Michelle Jubelirer and Scott Greer who spoke as one when announcing their communion with Communion yesterday, telling reporters: "We are so excited to be welcoming Communion and its artists to the CMG family. Communion has such great taste and maintains a curator's approach to its signings that has been integral to the development of Communion into an important cultural brand. Their passion is infectious and we can't wait to get started".

The aforementioned Lovett added: "In a transitional and unpredictable time for the music industry, commitment to a high quality level of artists who are true musicians, full of integrity, has helped us build solid foundations. CMG is a company made up of rock stars who believe in breaking artists when the signs are telling them otherwise. This is the quality I value highest in them and this will only lead to greater things for the future of the artists we go on to work with".


BMG buys Rise Records
Hey indie record label types, hold on tight, BMG is back in acquisition mode. Dare to blink, just for a moment, and you might find yourself acquired by the German music rights firm. Though what would be wrong with that? Being part of the BMG party, that'd be swell. I might set up an indie label this morning, just to be in with a chance of getting an invite.

Or perhaps the bosses at BMG might consider acquiring a top music business news service and consultancy business. I mean, we all know that's where all the really exciting stuff is happening. You can own the recorded output of metalcore-heads Of Mice & Men and The Devil Wears Prada if you want, but imagine getting your hands on a catalogue full of piracy ponderings, freemium thoughts, Google bashing and 703 stories involving Justin Bieber walking into glass doors. Come on BMG, it's the future.

Anyway, BMG has bought metal label Rise Records, in a crazy bid to own the recorded output of metalcore-heads Of Mice & Men and The Devil Wears Prada, amongst others. Rise Records, in case you wondered, was founded by Craig Ericson in 1991 and "using digital media it has become the centre of a growing underground community". Yeah, but not one news report on Justin Bieber walking into a glass door. Amateurs.

Rise will continue to be run out of Portland, Oregon under Ericson's leadership, but with BMG handling back office dib dabs, and providing an international network. Ericson, unsurprisingly, is "thrilled" with this arrangement, while BMG Chrysalis US's Laurent Hubert says: "Rise Records is more than a record label, it is a cultural phenomenon which has harnessed digital media to create a genuine community".

Hey Hubert, if you're looking for a real cultural phenomenon, click on this link.


Kobalt announces alliance with new Lava publishing company
Team Kobalt took a few minutes off from saving the entire music industry with their big-fat-data-machine yesterday to complete a deal with the all new publishing side of Lava, the music company of one-time major label exec Jason Flom.

And guess how Flom feels about having Kobalt provide worldwide administration, sync and licensing services for his company. Can you guess? See if you can guess. I'll give you to the end of this quote from Kobalt's Richard Sanders to have a good old guess.

Sanders: "I have long admired Jason's unparalleled talent for discovering hits and developing superstar talent. After first working together nearly 25 years ago, it is a pleasure to work with Jason again on his new publishing venture".

OK, who had £2 on Flom being "thrilled" by this deal? Hey, well done you. Help yourself to some free lava. "I'm thrilled to be in business with the fantastic team at Kobalt", says Flom. "And I look forward to super-serving great artists and songwriters as we build Lava Music Publishing into a major force in the business".

Note this Proper rejig
Proper Music Distribution has announced that its previously standalone business Proper Note, which specialises in the distribution of classical and jazz recordings, will be integrated into the wider Proper distribution business.

Proper Note had been a standalone entity ever since the Proper group acquired the specialist unit's forerunner, New Note. The rejig will see the Proper Note team now work more closely with the rest of the Proper company, and in particular Ginny Cooper, who became Classical Label Manager there earlier this year, coming to the business from New Arts International, with which Proper has had an alliance in the UK since 2013.

Following the rejig, Proper Note GMs Eddie Wilkinson and Graham Griffiths will become Proper Music Distribution's Classical & Jazz Sales Manager and Commercial Manager respectively.

Confirming all this, PMD MD Drew Hill said: "Proper is now positioned as the go-to company in the classical and jazz genres. I'm extremely proud of the knowledge and experience we have within the team; we are in a better position than ever to be able to offer a tailored, high-level service to our clients and this move further solidifies the power of our proposition".

HMV to return to mail-order
HMV is set to return to the world of online CD selling according to the Telegraph, which is pretty much the PR office for the all-new HMV, so I'm assuming this is definitely happening.

While retail restructuring expert Hilco helped to keep HMV operational on the high street after the entertainment retailer crashed into administration in 2013, the new HMV company has never had a UK mail-order side to its business.

Rather, the HMV website has been more of a marketing channel with editorial content focused on the artists the retailer is championing in-store. A lacklustre 7digital-powered download store did follow in October 2013, and more recently the retailer launched HMV Tickets with Vivendi's See Tickets, but to date, no mail-order set-up.

With Kantar Worldwide having recently confirmed HMV's claims that it is now the biggest seller of physical music products in the UK once again - a title it lost to Amazon in the 'gloom times' - the retailer is seemingly ready to now take on the web giant anew on the latter's home turf, ie online CD sales.

Pre-administration, HMV often struggled to compete with Amazon on price when it came to mail-order, despite basing its online operation on the Channel Islands to benefit from a since closed VAT loophole. It remains to be seen if the new HMV can replicate its various high street successes online.

Lorde reportedly splits from manager
Lorde has reportedly parted company with her manager Scott Maclachlan. According to the New Zealand Herald, the singer stopped working with the man who helped kick-star her career last month for reasons unknown.

Although neither side has, as yet, commented on the reports, Billboard notes that Maclachlan's company Saiko Management has taken Lorde of its website, which is the professional equivalent of changing your relationship status on Facebook.

The music marketing plan of the future is longer term and more collaborative
Following his keynote speech at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape on Friday, Spotify's Will Hope sat down with a panel of label and PR representatives to further discuss the impact the shift to streaming is having on the way the music industry markets its artists and releases.

Hope started by discussing the challenge of convincing the music industry to switch its mindset when it comes to marketing music. "One of the biggest legacies, I guess, is that the music industry always wants to think of different services as different things", he said. "So, radio's for discovery and the store is for buying, and so on. But streaming brings all of those things together".

"Playlisting is really key", he went on. "But because more and more of it's on mobile there's less space for people to take over, and that is something we struggle with". Often, he said, industry people still want something big, like a frontpage banner for their artist, and are less impressed when they are simply placed at the top of a popular playlist.

"This is something I like to refer as the 'cycle of bullshit'", Hope continued. "The priority becomes having something impressive looking that you can copy and paste into an email and send to your boss, or to management, so you can say, 'Look, I'm doing a good job'. But no one considers whether that banner is actually doing anything. [The problem is that] you can't visualise 60 million people listening to a track on a playlist, but that's where the real kickback will come from".

Beyond recognising that a simple listing, rather than a big advert, is what will drive listening, and therefore revenue, another challenge in the streaming space is convincing everyone - labels, artists, managers - to take a more long-term approach, both in terms of activity and results.

Asked by CMU's Sam Taylor whether it was a struggle to convince artists and managers of the need for a new approach in the streaming age, Cooking Vinyl's Head Of Digital Sammy Andrews explained: "It really varies depending on who it is. At Cooking Vinyl, Billy Bragg and The Prodigy have really embraced streaming, and get that they need to create different content beyond a traditional release plan. But some people don't".

"I've spent months sitting in meetings with artists and managers who just don't get it, and who sometimes bluntly refuse to engage with the streaming platforms", she continued. "But it's trying to explain to people that longevity that is where streaming comes into its own. We can't just go for those first week sales. We've built this hits-based industry, but that doesn't work for streaming - if you only focus on first week, you get fuck all money. But more and more now, people want to do it and they're starting to get it".

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some heritage and catalogue artists have been particularly slow to come on board with streaming, but Hope said that as they see their music being discovered by a new generation of fans as a result of online playlisting, more are seeing the benefits.

"You've got a generation of people who wouldn't find that music otherwise. That's why we've had a lot of catalogue wins recently, like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Rammstein out of Germany. At first heritage acts may be a little begrudging of having to engage, but once we start working together, they find out a lot about their fanbase, they find out who's listening and where".

From a PR perspective, Division Promotions' Joe Parry added: "Streaming has completely changed things. We can't see things in the same way as before. It's a lot more about profile building in the early stages, and then finding ways to keep pushing the music".

"It's not the traditional idea of setting a record up three or four months in advance, throwing it all at the wall and seeing what sticks", added Absolute Label Service's Adam Cardew. "What we need to do now is look at each project individually, and understand it".

Picking up on this point Warp's Head Of PR Leah Ellis added: "In the past, we'd have all the assets in up front and it would be a straightforward three month campaign. Now it's thinking about what can come after the album, say a video in six months time, and directing people to streaming services. A lot of our artists are not radio friendly, so it's about what we can do online to get the whole album across, whether that be album samplers to launch a campaign, or an album stream that's interactive".

She added that a problem with this new model was that the traditional media were still focused on album release dates, even when artists and labels were staging more long-running campaigns. "Traditional media always want to pinpoint around an album or a re-issue and I think that model really does need to change, especially in the print press".

Parry agreed, saying: "Gone are the days when you say, 'this is what we're going to do at this time, and this is what we're going to do at this time', it has to be a lot more fluid. But that doesn't really play to the model of three or four month lead times at some magazines. I think there are a lot more changes that need to happen with print publications. And that's significant when you look at the dwindling sales of those publications, it's obvious that things aren't quite gelling properly".

As things become more fluid, communication between each of the different stakeholders involved in a release campaign is more important than ever too, added Parry: "PR is just a cog in a bigger machine, and you've got to communicate with everybody in that machine in order for it to work properly. It's the project managers at the labels that have the hardest job, communicating with everybody and making sure they're all on the same track. If I don't get a radio report in three weeks, I don't know what's going on there, and it doesn't help me to go to journalists to give them the bigger picture".

On the data that streaming services provide, Andrews said: "The data is amazing. One of the things that the digital revolution has done for our industry, that people didn't necessarily get early on, is that we can look between streaming data and live stuff, and see how it all feeds in. We can see when a band goes on tour that we get streams in, we can really see where the fanbase is from a digital marketing perspective. We've never had such amazing data. Obviously, you don't want to be completely data-led, but it's really interesting to see who your fans are, and for us to be able to take that and have a pretty good idea if these people like this".

Cardew added: "The data really does help, particularly with getting artists on board who may not be so enthusiastic initially. Because we can help inform those artist's wider activity. A good example would be a single release we did with Lethal Bizzle last year. He was going out on tour, and we said, 'Have you seen that you've got a load of streams coming from Coventry? You're not doing a date in Coventry'. So he set up a date and sold it out. And that wouldn't have happened without the data from streaming services".

However, added Andrews, the different services could be doing more on this front: "It would be nice for some of the streaming services to give us a little more access to the fanbases that we're pushing their way. It's the same with all the social networks. We're fuelling all of these services, whether it be Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or Spotify. We have great relationships with all of them, but it would be lovely if we could contact users a little bit easier. It would be lovely to be able to drop an email into someone's inbox, who's listened to my album directly".

But wouldn't that just be spam, asked Taylor. "Not if they're engaged", insisted Cardew. "Spotify could say, 'These are your engaged listeners', and you could drop some sort of push notification".

"I'd love to be able to email people that have listened to the album 20 times and tell them that the artist has got something else going on", added Andrews.

"I guess on the one hand users wouldn't be thrilled and there's data protection stuff that means you couldn't do that", countered Hope. "But it's just beginning, there's loads more to do. That ability to talk to people and know better and better who they are, we're at the beginning of that process".

We'll look more at how companies are finding new ways to engage listeners and promote music via the streaming services in the coming days as we continue to cover this year's CMU Insights @ The Great Escape. Keep an eye on our microsite for all the updates.

BB King 1925-2015
Blues musician BB King died last week, after suffering a stoke in his sleep at the hospice where he had recently taken up residence. He was 89.

Born Riley B King in 1925 (the B seemingly his full middle name), he picked up the moniker he was more commonly known under while working as a DJ on Memphis radio station WDIA. Originally billed as The Beale Street Blues Boy, this was shortened to the less unwieldy Blues Boy, and then eventually just BB. While working at the station, he met blues guitarist T-Bone Walker and was inspired to take up the instrument himself.

King began recording in 1949, and had his first hit in 1952 with 'Three O'Clock Blues', which went to number one in Billboard's R&B chart. Over the course of the 1950s, he enjoyed many more hits, became an in demand live performer, and launched his own record label, Blues Boys Kingdom.

As the 60s rolled on, he was introduced to a new audience thanks to his influence on upcoming bands like The Yardbirds and The Rolling Stones, the latter of whom took him out as the support act on their 1969 US tour. In 1988, he also had a top ten hit in the UK appearing on U2's 'When Love Comes To Town'.

King cut back his touring schedule in 1990, after being diagnosed with diabetes, but continued to perform live up to 2014 (despite a farewell tour in 2005). A bout of ill health took him out of the live circuit, and after being twice hospitalised earlier this month, he was placed in a hospice, where he died shortly afterwards.

BB King is survived by eleven children from various relationships.

  Approved: AK/DK - Maxwell's Waves
A lot of people wanted to know the name of the song that played in the video that separated the sessions at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape last week. Well this is it, people. This is it. 'Maxwell's Waves' by AK/DK.

Aside from this allowing me to crowbar in another mention for our wonderful conference, the fact that video played so frequently during CMU@TGE means I've already answered the often problematic question that hounds anyone writing about new music - will I still like this once I've heard it more than the average number of times? And yes. I still like it. It is good.

The Brighton-based duo released their debut album, 'Synth + Drums + Noise + Space', a year ago, from which 'Maxwell's Waves' is taken. The track captures their synth and drum driven sound (that album title's not just there for its health) at its most accessible. Which is not to say the rest of the album is not accessible.

In fact, it's clear that AK/DK are really a live band (as the rapturous reception to their TGE show last week would suggest) and that their whole output is designed very much to draw you into a world of their own creation.

So start that journey here with the video for 'Maxwell's Waves'.
CLICK HERE to read and share online

Lee Ryan files for bankruptcy
For a while it seemed like Lee Ryan might escape the curse of Blue (well, one of the curses of Blue, anyway). It looked like, against all the odds, he would be the Blue boy who would ride the wave and come out on the other side without ever going bankrupt. But no, like his three bandmates before him, he's had to admit defeat too.

The band's Antony Costa was the first to go, way back in 2004. And for almost a decade he held the dubious title of 'The One From Blue Who Went Bankrupt'. But nothing lasts forever, and last year the script was flipped when Simon Webbe and Duncan James filed for bankruptcy within weeks of each other. Meaning that, for a time, in a development even more unlikely than his claim to be friends with Dave Grohl, Lee Ryan was the most financially savvy member of the group.

But no more. A rep for the singer has told The Guardian: "Lee has tried to manage his financial commitments from over the years to the best of his abilities but ultimately concedes that bankruptcy is the best way forward in order for him to provide the best future for his children".

So, despite being too successful to join the 'Big Reunion' tour, despite being so successful they had their own TV show on ITV2, and despite being - let's not forget - very successful and not at all funny, not one of the Blue Boys has managed to make it out of this whole shebang with a clean financial record. Leaving everyone feeling a bit blue. Well, I'm sure the Blue guys' creditors are feeling a bit blue. It's possible no one else cares.

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 | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
Email chris@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
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
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.

For details of the training and consultancy services offered by CMU Insights click here - Andy and Chris are also available to provide music business comment, just email them direct.

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