WEDNESDAY 20 MAY 2015
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Given the interest in the deals done between major rights owners and the streaming platforms, not to mention the flurry of litigation over how the majors share digital income with artists, it's amazing this hasn't happened before. But yesterday The Verge published the 2011 contract between Sony Music and Spotify. It's a deal that was previously shrouded in secrecy, so the... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: The Big Moon were the talk of the town at The Great Escape this year. Lots of people told me to go and see them ahead their show at The Haunt on Friday night, and lots of people told me how great the show was the next day. Alas I can only review the queue outside, sadly. I had a very nice conversation in it, but it was a bit cold, and I should have taken the... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Sony's 2011 Spotify contract leaks
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LEGAL More legal wrangling in 19 v Sony battle
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DEALS Pandora buys Next Big Sound
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LIVE BUSINESS Glasgow's Arches taking legal advice over licence restriction, London's RichMix launches petition over potential closure
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MARKETING & PR Pitching tracks to playlist owners is the secret to driving streams
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Deezer integrates podcasts into its library
MixRadio arrives on Android and iOS
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RELEASES Rudimental announced new album
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Bullet For My Valentine announce new album and tour
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ONE LINERS Sam Smith's vocal cords, Expedia's Festival Playlister, Let's Wrestle's farewell show, and more
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AND FINALLY... Kanye West argues against "unwarranted censorship" on Billboard performance
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Click JUMP to skip direct to a section of this email or ONLINE to read and share stories on the CMU website (JUMP option may not work in all email readers). For regular updates from Team CMU follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr.
 
 
SUPAPASS - ARTIST/LABEL RELATIONS AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE (LONDON OR NORWICH)
SupaPass is an exciting new digital music platform connecting superfans with their favourite bands. We are seeking an ambitious and driven artist/label relations and business development executive with a deep understanding and strong network across music, entertainment and music-tech. If you have previously applied for this role please DO resend your application, as due to technical issues beyond the control of SupaPass, many applications went astray.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
MAMA & COMPANY - GENERAL MANAGER, LIVERPOOL ARTS CLUB (LIVERPOOL)
This is a fantastic opportunity to work and grow with an exciting company that owns some of the UK’s most established venues. To manage the venue both efficiently and effectively ensuring that the diary is commercially maximised and all statutory duties are discharged. To effectively manage the kitchen and restaurant operation, ensuring GP is maintained and customer satisfaction is the primary focus.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
[PIAS] - SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING STRATEGIST (LONDON)
S[PIAS] is seeking an experienced Social Media Marketing Strategist to provide leadership, strategy and implementation of its in-house digital/social and online global presences. The successful candidate will interact across all [PIAS] repertoire divisions as well as working in close conjunction with the [PIAS] Brand Manager to ensure our presences reflect the values, tone and positioning of the company.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
ELITE MUSIC MANAGEMENT - BOOKING AGENT & ASSISTANT BOOKING AGENT (BRIGHTON)
Since 1999, Brighton based Elite Music Management has represented breakthrough DJs, producers and label parties. We are looking for two dynamic, talented individuals to work as part of a hard-working team. You will be required to promote a roster of acts, and manage their worldwide tour diaries. You will liaise with artists, managers and promoters on a daily basis.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
UNDER THE BRIDGE - ACTING GENERAL MANAGER (LONDON)
We require an Acting General Manager to manage and deliver the content of events at Under the Bridge including corporate events, private events, showcases, public music events and match days. To ensure the smooth operational running of Under The Bridge.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
LISTEN UP - EVENTS PRESS OFFICER (LONDON)
Listen Up provides a bespoke 360 promotional service offering radio, club, online and print campaigns in the UK and worldwide, consistently delivering results to clients in a diverse range of musical genres. We are hiring an experienced Events Press Officer to join the events team at Listen Up. The candidate will need 3-4 years' experience running print and online events campaigns and will be working across Listen Up’s extensive festival and events roster.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
MAMA & COMPANY - E-MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR (LONDON)
MAMA & Company are looking for an experienced E-marketing Co-ordinator. This is a fantastic opportunity to work and grow with an exciting company who own some of London's most established venues. You will need to have experience of managing email marketing campaigns, database management and analysis, as well as holding high levels of computer literacy. Knowledge of HTML, CSS and Java is essential.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
HOUSE OF 27 – SOCIAL MEDIA INTERNSHIP (PAID) (LONDON)
House of 27 is a UK digital PR company representing both development and established artists across unsigned, independent label and major record label setups. We require an intern to support our small, friendly team in our daily work environment. An additional interest in A&R and scouting new bands would be ideal, but passion for new music and enthusiasm for digital is a must.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
DOMINO RECORDING CO - DIGITAL OPERATIONS MANAGER (LONDON)
Domino Recording Co is seeking a high calibre individual to oversee its digital operations processes, based in the London office. This full-time position will be responsible for managing direct global operations relationships across digital music partners (eg iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Millward Brown), and ongoing management of the digital catalogue across the label.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
 
CMU Jobs is a proven way to recruit the best music business talent for roles across the industry at all levels, from graduate to senior management. To book an ad contact Sam on 020 7099 9060 or email ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 

Sony's 2011 Spotify contract leaks
Given the interest in the deals done between major rights owners and the streaming platforms, not to mention the flurry of litigation over how the majors share digital income with artists, it's amazing this hasn't happened before. But yesterday The Verge published the 2011 contract between Sony Music and Spotify. It's a deal that was previously shrouded in secrecy, so the leak unsurprisingly caused quite a stir online.

That said, while specifics of the music industry's various deals with the streaming platforms are secret, the mechanics of the arrangements are widely known, and approximate figures have been doing the rounds for some time too. Indeed we shared all that information last week during the music licensing strand at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape (and a summary will appear in this month's CMU Trends Report), so in the main the Sony contract confirms what we already sort of knew, rather than being full of big new revelations.

Most of the music industry's deals with the streaming services are, at their core, revenue share arrangements, with labels and publishers earning a share of any advertising and subscription income generated by the digital service provider based on what percentage of overall streaming related to tracks or songs owned by each rights owner.

The actual split of revenue varies from rights owner to rights owner, but labels are usually getting somewhere between 55-60% and publishers 10-15%. The Sony contact unsurprisingly puts the world's second biggest record company at the top end of the revenue share bracket, on a 60% split.

But with new streaming services being somewhat revenue-lite at the outset - especially ad-funded freemium set-ups - perhaps more important for the rights owners in their early contracts are the minimum guarantees and upfront advances. Labels and publishers will look for minimum payments per stream, or per subscriber, or per month, to reduce their risks, and will look for a chunk of money upfront, knowing that some digital services do the deals but never actually get off the ground, so even minimum guarantees may not be worth much.

It's perhaps the sections of the Sony contract dealing with minimums and advances that are most interesting. Minimum guarantees on both freemium and premium are set out in the document, the former mainly of note because of the criteria controlling what rate is paid.

Rights owners have often said that they include clauses in their contracts to incentivise DSPs to grow their businesses according to pre-agreed targets, and this is seen in the minimum guarantees on freemium, whereby Spotify must pay $0.00225 per minimum stream, but this rises to $0.0025 per stream if growth targets are missed. Which seems like a tiny distinction, but if multiplied over millions of streams, can make quite a difference overall.

The advances are, of course, significant. Again we knew this already, but seeing the figures set out in black and white grabbed a lot of attention yesterday (plus this is arguably the simplest bit of the contract, which is perhaps why it's the bit many people honed in on). In the Sony deal, Spotify agrees to pay a $25 million advance for the two years of the contract, which works out at $9 million the first year and $16 million the second, with a $17.5 million advance if Sony takes on an option to extend the deal for a third year. The money is paid in instalments every quarter.

The labels' advances are controversial in the artist community of course, and for two main reasons. Some managers say they worry that such big demands on digital start-ups have prevented some from ever getting to market, which results in a market dominated by one or two main payers. But of more concern for artists is what happens to unallocated advance payments.

The advances are recoupable for Spotify, so subsequent payments come off the advance, but if over the year those payments don't exceed the advanced sum, the label keeps the difference. And in most cases that means the label keeping unallocated advance money outright, in that while they have to share any income attributable to specific track usage with the artists, they don't share unallocated advanced cash.

In the main, managers understand the need for advances, but don't like labels keeping all unallocated monies, and worry that record companies might be incentivised to push for bigger advances in return for lower minimum guarantees, because unallocated advance income is most favourable to a record company's bottom line. And this isn't the only way in which labels might take kickbacks that don't have to be shared with artists in return for offering a more preferential rate on those payments where artists do get a cut.

Managers will probably be most interested in the bit of the Sony deal that provides the major with a stack of free advertising on Spotify's freemium platform, which it can then sell on to third parties for profit. Of course, seeing the contract alone can't tell us what impact that freebie had on other parts of the deal, but it confirms there are kickbacks to be had beyond the core elements of any contract.

The final chunk of the Sony deal causing chatter yesterday was the most favoured nation clauses which ensure the major gets a better deal if a competitor negotiates more favourable terms down the line. Again, it's no secret that MFNs are standard in most streaming contracts (though Universal agreed to forego them in Europe as part of its deal with the competition regulator over its EMI acquisition).

Amongst the MFN clauses in Sony's contract is one that locks the major's advances to those of its competitors based on market share. Which is one of the reasons why indie label rep Merlin has always honed in on the importance of market share figures. As previously reported, Merlin has in the past claimed that the majors often insist on using record industry wide market share stats in these scenarios, rather that their specific share of the streaming market, because doing so favours the majors over the indies.

There's plenty to reaffirm the grievances of both artists and the indies in the leaked contract then. So that's good. Sony and Spotify, needless to say, haven't commented on The Verge's scoop, though you can only assume much effort is being made behind the scenes to identify the source of the leak. Though on the up side, "we need more transparency" is the most used phrase in the music rights business today, from all parties, majors included, and the leakers have definitely done their bit to help the industry achieve that objective.

More legal wrangling in 19 v Sony battle
There has been more pre-trial wrangling in what could well be the most interesting of all the music-based legal battles this year: the battle of the Idols (heightened interest in which may or may not have resulted in the aforementioned Sony contract being leaked).

As previously reported, music company 19 is suing it's former business partner Sony Music over the record contracts signed with the major by various 'American Idol' finalists. 19 owns the 'Idol' franchise and managed many of the stars who came out of the show, while Sony was, for a time, the record company with the rights to sign finalists that appeared on the programme.

There are an assortment of gripes in 19's lawsuits on behalf of the former Idols it continues to represent, most of them relating to common areas where artists and labels fall out, including fees the major charges as money moves around the company, what happened to the cash Sony received from its LimeWire settlement, and the biggy, whether digital income should be treated as a 'sale' or a 'licence' when artist royalties are calculated.

Sony failed to have 19's lawsuit dismissed back in March. It then filed its own countersuit that claimed some of the former Idols 19 represents had actually been overpaid by the record company, while also concurrently asking for the judgement on dismissal to be reconsidered.

And in the latter domain it had some success earlier this month, when a judge decided that, actually, 19's claim that Sony had acted in bad faith over digital royalties should not be allowed to proceed, though breach of contract allegations could be given a full court hearing. So a partial win for Sony then.

Which means that 19 is now trying to have the dismissal dismissed, by asking that the matter be handed to the Second Circuit Court Of Appeals, who would be asked to rule on whether the bad faith allegation, as well as the breach of contract allegation, should be allowed to stand in 19's lawsuit. So that's basically an appeal for an appeal of an appeal before this case has even properly reached court. Hurrah for lawyers!

Sony will battle hard to keep as much of this dispute out of the courts as possible, and will then presumably do everything it can to secure one of those depressing (for the rest of us) out of court settlements. But should even half this case get to court it should make for interesting viewing. And especially with any digital royalty debates that occur, given the existing cases on this matter - focused as they are on iTunes income - look ever dated as the industry speeds into a stream-dominated market.

Pandora buys Next Big Sound
So now we know for certain: Integrate your digital music platform with a funky new music data service to inform your playlisting activity and/or help rights owners navigate your usage stats, and it's only a matter of time before said data service gets acquired by a competitor, which then gets access to all the knowledge and intelligence you helped the data crunchers amass. Good times.

Yes, after Spotify bought The Echo Nest and Apple acquired Musicmetric, now Pandora has bought Next Big Sound. And while officially speaking it's 'business as usual' at the music analytics company, you have to think that Next Big Sound client Spotify will respond in much the same way Rdio did when Spotify bought Echo Nest, ie "we're out of here". I mean, it's as if the only way you could ever make money out of a music data start-up is to wait around until one of the big tech firms buys you!

But while this deal may be bad news for Pandora competitors which have made use of Next Big Sound's popular analytics machine, and while the data firm's founders should now prepare themselves for the flood of Pandora-hate they will have to swim in from now on, there's a lot of sense to this acquisition.

Pandora - hated by everyone but the 80 million people who use the service - has been trying to placate a tetchy music community with better data tools, launching its own platform called AMP last year. Next Big Sound will no doubt be used to enhance that service. Plus Pandora will utilise Next Big Sound data to court brands looking to partner with the US streaming platform, and given the vast majority of its users are on freemium, boosting ad sales is a key objective for the digital firm.

Confirming the deal, Pandora boss Brian P McAndrews told reporters that "the combination of Pandora's listening data and Next Big Sound's analytical capabilities will create a vital source of data".

Glasgow's Arches taking legal advice over licence restriction, London's RichMix launches petition over potential closure
The Arches in Glasgow has said it is taking legal advice over the local council's decision to cut its licensed hours. The licence change makes it difficult for The Arches to host club nights, which, says management, will be devastating for the not-for-profit charity-run arts venue, as 51% of its income comes from club activity.

The decision follows a period of police monitoring, following a number of drug and alcohol related offences on the premises earlier this year.

The venue's Executive Director Mark Anderson said in a statement yesterday: "We are still stunned by Friday's decision and at a loss to understand just what more we could have done to provide a safer clubbing environment at The Arches. Over the period under review, we welcomed over 250,000 clubbers through our doors. Of that number, just 0.14% were reported for misuse of drugs incidents".

He added: "What is more worrying is that despite the increased safety measures we adopted on the recommendation of Police Scotland, which had already alienated many of our valued club customers, our successful operation of those policies has resulted in the statistics being used against us".

With 15% of the venue's annual turnover derived from public subsidy, Arches directors will this week meet with funding partners Creative Scotland and Glasgow Life to discuss potential ways forward if the licensing decision cannot be overturned. Currently, all scheduled Arches events are set to go ahead, though a Sasha-headlined club night on Saturday has been moved to the SWG3 venue.

Meanwhile, in London, another charity-run arts venue, Rich Mix, is facing closure due to a long running dispute with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. In 2011, the council issued legal papers demanding the repayment of a 2002 loan, to the amount of £850,000, in one lump payment. The venue argues that, despite operating at a surplus, paying out this amount in one go will bankrupt the business.

The venue also argues that it is actually owed £1.6 million in promised development money that was never paid after being left out of a later contract. In October last year, a judge ruled that this payment was not enforceable due to the uncertain drafting of the agreement.

With a settlement proposed by Rich Mix, based on the payment of both outstanding amounts at the same time, now off the cards, the venue is facing increased uncertainty about its future. As a result, its operators have launched a petition calling on the council to withdraw its court case over the outstanding loan payment and to find ways to support Rich Mix's work instead.

"We are financially healthy, with a small operating surplus each year. Our only public funding is from Arts Council England and is around 11% of our annual turnover", says Rich Mix. "We have had no revenue support from the council taxpayers of LBTH since March 2009. [But] the legal action being taken by Tower Hamlets against Rich Mix has the potential to bankrupt the organisation and cause us to close down and stop providing the services and facilities we offer".

The purpose of the petition, therefore, is to let the council "know how many people value the role played by Rich Mix in the local community and to appreciate what a pivotal role we play in supporting the arts by giving space to emerging artists and groups".

Read more and sign here.

Pitching tracks to playlist owners is the secret to driving streams
In Will Hope from Spotify's keynote and the subsequent 'Re-inventing Music Marketing For The Streaming Age' panel at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape last week, we learned that playlists - both user-generated and service-curated - are increasingly important in promoting new music at all levels, especially in the early stages of a campaign. And during the third session of the CMU@TGE marketing strand - titled 'Who Leads On Artist Marketing?' - the topic of PRing tracks to online playlist owners came up.

"Pitching to playlists is becoming one of the top priorities in our campaigns", said Evil Genius Media CEO Mark Muggeridge. "Almost to the point where the return on investment we're seeing from what is traditionally thought of as 'online media' is dwindling, and we're taking all of that budget out of online and putting it into agencies that pitch to playlists. And we are seeing the needle move from playlist pitching more than almost any other, particularly with new artists".

"It is so important", added Cooking Vinyl's Head Of Digital Sammy Andrews. "Curation is the new king. It can launch a track, if it gets dropped into the right playlist it can propel a track from nowhere, and there are lots of examples of that happening".

Later in the day, the CMU@TGE audience got a more in depth look at how playlist pitching is growing from Aileen Crowley at DigMark, a Nashville-based marketing agency that is already pitching tracks to key user-generated playlists on Spotify, and who discussed that activity with Spintune's Brittney Bean.

The company grew out of the DigSin record label, Crowley explained, after they noticed that streams of a track by one of their artists, Bronze Radio Return, doubled overnight after it was added to a playlist with over 15,000 followers.

"Then we said, 'OK there's something here'", she recalled. "Let's figure out how we replicate this for our own artists, and then figure out how we take that and expand it for other clients that we do marketing for. That was over a year ago, and now we're working with over 75 tracks per week from self-releasing artists, those whose marketing is led by managers, and from major and indie labels, as well as our own releases".

"We started the business a little over a year ago with one part-time person, just seeing what they got from pitching to playlisters", she continued. "Now we have three full time people, and we're looking to hire a fourth. And we're being hired by pretty much everyone. We promote tracks from all different labels from all different countries. We work with artists and labels in Sweden, UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. So we work internationally. It's just been exponential growth over the last year".

Through a variety of means, the company tracks key playlists via a proprietary database it has built. "We're able to monitor every track we're working, as well as over 1500 playlists that we work with - Spotify playlists, users playlists, label playlists. We know how many followers are on each playlist. Earlier today someone said, 'If Spotify would let us know they'd added a song to a playlist that would be great, we had no idea'. Our system takes that out of the equation. We can see exactly what tracks have been added when and when they're been dropped. We do weekly add/drop reporting to all of our clients, so they know what playlists they're on, how many followers there are, and how many plays they're getting".

New playlists are sought out based on both popularity and also genres and 'moods' which are relevant to DigMark clients. Initially contact is made with playlist owners through Spotify's messaging system or Facebook, but now the company has built up a mailing list of curators that it is in weekly contact with.

"We now have a relationship with probably over 400 playlisters worldwide and we have an ongoing email relationship with those folks. So when it comes to pitching our tracks, we're creating a newsletter and emailing them every Monday morning". In terms of how they approach playlist owners, she continued: "It's just talking to them like a music lover. They just have a playlist that they love to curate, it's not their job. You become a trusted source for music".

Muggeridge having already raised the point of return on investment, Bean asked what returns DigMark's clients had been seeing. "In terms of our own label, we've seen from third quarter to fourth quarter last year a 100%+ increase in revenue from Spotify, just from reaching out to playlists", Crowley revealed.

"In terms of a million streams, what does that equal? As a label, from that, we're seeing about $6000 from streams. So that's the equation we use. It's different for everyone, depending on what percentage your distributor takes and if you're the sound recording copyright holder or you're the publisher. But we will pay for ourselves within a couple of months".

Though as this new strand of music PR emerges, Andrews raised a problem in the earlier discussion, saying: "It is amazing. But people are also being dicks about it and asking for money for placement on playlists, meaning payola has already reared its head. So that's an issue that we have to deal with to some degree. But it's a whole new emerging market".

"But for the right playlist, I would happily pay", countered Muggeridge.

"It's a dangerous thing to start though", continued Andrews. "It sets a precedent, if people are used to getting money, then it puts it back in the hands of the majors, if the people that have all the money are the people that get on all the playlists. That's a fact if you're an indie. It's totally where it's going, but I don't think we should be encouraging it. Just because it's there, let's not fuel that fire".

Picking up on this point, an audience member later asked if DigMark had ever paid for placement on a playlist. "Some of them do ask to be paid sometimes, yes", said Crowley, admitting that this was a request her company had agreed to at times. Pushed to put a figure on how much a playlister might be paid, she added: "It's under $100. Way under".

Payola for playlists is likely an issue that will come up again and again as this sector grows - because, as well as ethical concerns, if money rather than quality becomes the marker for a track being added to a playlist, well that's arguably bad for all involved.

As for the future of the rapidly expanding DigMark, Crowley said: "We'll just keep growing. We're primarily working on Spotify right now, but Apple's streaming service will change that. We could be hiring three new people to just work on Apple playlists. It's exciting".

And as for the other streaming services, she added: "It's all an option, it's just how much time do you have in the day and what the platform is. There aren't enough users on some platforms for it to be worth our time"

Deezer integrates podcasts into its library
Presumably trying to get in before Spotify's big announcement later today, but in the end getting squeezed between Spotify's pre-announcement announcement, Pandora's Next Big Sound acquisition and the Sony contract leak, Deezer yesterday had some big news to share, so let's all take a brief moment to listen to what it had to say, shall we? Go on, what have you possibly got to lose? Maybe your dignity, but that's all.

Basically, the streaming service is adding spoken word content into the mix by integrating the catalogue of radio and podcast app Stitcher, which, you'll all remember, because we told you, Deezer acquired last year. It means Deezer users in France, UK and Sweden will now be able to mix content from radio and podcast services like NPR, Slate, the FT and Monocle 24 in with all that pesky music. Perhaps we should relaunch the CMU Podcast and give them that too. What a treat that would be for everyone.

Confirming all this (not the return of the CMU Podcast, we'll confirm that ourselves at some point), Deezer boss man Hans-Holger Albrecht employed these words: "Deezer is pairing the best news and entertainment with the largest music catalogue in the world to become the leading service for on demand music, radio and podcasts. This move signals our commitment to leading innovation, with a vision of becoming a single destination for audio, tailor-made for each listener. We'll continue to roll out new programming in additional regions throughout the year".

So there you go. Actually, as the streaming music market becomes more crowded, and as everyone chases more mainstream consumers, and with services needing to find a voice, this move is probably a bigger deal than it might first seem. If only you hadn't got all distracted by Spotify's cappu-stream-os, Pandora's next big data party and the naughty Sony contract leak. Stop getting distracted, people! Now, what was this story about again?

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MixRadio arrives on Android and iOS
MixRadio - the streaming service that came out of Nokia, spent a short time as part of Microsoft, and is now owned by Japanese messaging service Line - has finally arrived on Android and iOS, so that people can actually use it. Hurrah!

And while the service will still come preloaded on Microsoft's Lumina handset, the streaming music firm - which offers more of a Pandora-style personalised radio experience - now also has a partnership underway with HTC.

While MixRadio is still a little vague on current user numbers - saying simply "millions" - it definitely has reach, being live in 31 countries, and you have to think the move to Android and iOS could help it seriously grow user-base.

Of course, MixRadio is operating in a very competitive marketplace, but if the major labels were to successfully persuade Spotify to cut back on its freemium offer, then that would possibly provide an opportunity for those services that specialise in personalised radio rather than offering a fully on-demand experience, the former service-type being significant in a few markets, most notably the US, but yet to gain any real momentum in Europe.

  Approved: The Big Moon
The Big Moon were the talk of the town at The Great Escape this year. Lots of people told me to go and see them ahead their show at The Haunt on Friday night, and lots of people told me how great the show was the next day. Alas I can only review the queue outside, sadly. I had a very nice conversation in it, but it was a bit cold, and I should have taken the number of people talking about the band earlier in the day as a cue to arrive early. Or at least earlier.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that you can't always get into the shows you want, and sometimes there are really good gigs just around the corner with no queue at all. Also, thanks to the internet, it really is no effort at all for me to confirm that The Big Moon are a very good band indeed. I have been on it and checked and found that, yes, they are.

With currently just one single and therefore two recorded tracks to their name, my internet checking was a pretty brief process, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. So enjoyable that I repeated it several times and decided to write about it (I'm really pulling back the curtain here, huh?). They play guitar pop without being wilfully lo-fi, and both available songs are well-crafted and performed with gusto.

Look, here is one of them. It is called 'Sucker'.
CLICK HERE to read and share online
 

Rudimental announced new album
Rudimental have announced that they will release their second album, 'We The Generation', on 18 Sep. The first single, 'Never Let You Go', which you can listen to here, will be out on 14 Jun.

As well as being released under Warner Music's Asylum imprint, the record will also be badged by Rudimental's own recently launched Major Toms label. As well as signing themselves, the band are also working with singer Anne-Marie, who has been a member of the Rudimental live band since the release of their debut album.

And Anne-Marie is one of the guest vocalists on 'We The Generation', alongside Mahalia, Will Heard, MNEK, Ella Eyre, Foy Vance, Lianne La Havas and Bobby Womack.

Look, here's the tracklist:

I Will For Love (feat Will Heard)
Never Let You Go (feat Foy Vance)
We The Generation (feat Mahalia)
Love Ain't Just A Word
Rumour Mill (feat Anne-Marie & Will Heard)
Common Emotion (feat MNEK)
Go Far (feat Will Heard)
Foreign World (feat Anne-Marie)
Too Cool (feat Ella Eyre)
Bloodstream
All That Love
Needn't Speak (feat Lianne La Havas)
Lay It All On Me
New Day (feat Bobby Womack)

Bullet For My Valentine announce new album and tour
Bullet For My Valentine have announced that they will release their fifth album, 'Venom', through Sony/RCA on 14 Aug.

Says frontman Matt Tuck: "It's pretty hard to sum up an entire record after spending so much time writing and recording it and all the blood, sweat and tears that have come with this one especially. It wasn't easy revisiting some very dark places to come up with lyrical content for this one, but once I knew where it was heading and I was comfortable with letting certain things out - all hell broke loose".

He continued: "It's easily the most aggressive record we've ever done and lyrically it will no doubt touch a nerve with a lot of people that listen to it. I cannot express enough how proud I am of it, and can't wait for everyone out there to hear it too. We've reinvented who we are and are ready to take on the world once more".

The first single from the album is 'No Way Out', the lyric video for which you can see here.

The band will also head out on their biggest tour of the UK and Ireland to date later this year. Here's the full schedule:

28 Sep: Belfast, Ulster Hall
29 Sep: Dublin, Olympia
1 Oct: Bournemouth, Academy
2 Oct: Reading, Hexagon
5 Oct: Aylesbury Theatre
6 Oct: Stoke, Vitoria Hall
7 Oct: Lincoln, Engine Shed
9 Oct: York, Barbican
13 Oct: Middlesbrough, Empire
14 Oct: Carlisle, Sands
16 Oct: Leicester, Academy
17 Oct: Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion
18 Oct: Folkestone, Leas Cliff
20 Oct: Swansea, Brangwyn Hall
21 Oct: Southampton, Guildhall
22 Oct: Ipswich, Regent Corn Exchange

I would wager that a London date is coming to that list too. But you don't need to hang about waiting for one, because the band will be headlining the Camden Rocks festival on 30 May.

Sam Smith's vocal cords, Expedia's Festival Playlister, Let's Wrestle's farewell show, and more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Massachusetts General Hospital has issued a press release to say that Sam Smith's surgery to combat the haemorrhaging of his vocal cords went well and the singer is expected to make a full recovery. Hooray for doctor/patient confidentially.

• Expedia has launched a little tool to serve up Spotify playlists for festivals, based on your tastes for either mainstream or more obscure acts, and featuring tracks from line-ups past and present. Have a look here.

• Taylor Swift's 'Bad Blood' video is out now. You probably know that already.

• Rita Ora will release her new single, 'Poison', on 28 Jun. But you can listen to it here now.

• Gabrielle Aplin has announced that she will release her new album 'Light Up The Dark' on 18 Sep. Here's the title track.

• Prides have announced that they will release their debut album 'The Way Back Up' on 10 Jul.

• The approved Alex Burey has released the title track from his new EP, 'Family Stone'. He'll also headline a show at the London Fields Brewery on 28 May.

• Pop Etc are releasing a new single called 'Bad Break'. Here's the video if you don't believe me.

• Slaves have announced a November UK tour, which will close with a performance at The Forum in London on 27 Nov. Full dates here.

• Girlpool have added a load of new shows to their schedule, including one at The Scala in London on 15 Sep.

• Let's Wrestle have announced that they are splitting up. The band's original line-up will play a farewell show at the 100 Club in London on 10 Jul. Tickets here.

Kanye West argues against "unwarranted censorship" on Billboard performance
Reps for Kanye West have issued a statement expressing disappointment at the previously reported censorship of his performance of 'All Day' at Sunday's Billboard Music Awards; censorship which resulted in him being "seriously misrepresented". Apparently.

Of course, this is the second awards show that has felt TV audiences would be better off only hearing brief snippets of audio from the song, there being a similar incident at the BRIT Awards earlier this year. The editing of the live broadcast was seemingly intended to cut out swearing and uses of 'the n word'. However, the statement suggests that broadcasters were so intent on removing any racially sensitive words that they also dropped mere mentions of the word 'black'.

Published by Pitchfork, the statement reads: "Kanye West was grossly over-censored at the Billboard Music Awards. Non-profane lyrics such as 'with my leather black jeans on' were muted for over 30 second intervals. As a result, his voice and performance were seriously misrepresented. It is ridiculous that in 2015, unwarranted censorship is something that artists still have to fight against".

The losers here are the rapper and the viewers, the statement continues: "Although West was clearly set up to face elements beyond his control during the live broadcast, he would like to apologise to the television audience who were unable to enjoy the performance the way he envisioned".

While the BRITs performance did make it onto YouTube uncensored, it was decided that the muted TV broadcast of the BBMA set was good enough for the world. I mean, who wouldn't want to watch a video with half the audio missing and which mainly only shows smoke and some out of focus pyros?

 
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