THURSDAY 11 JUN 2015
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Welcome to New Music Friday. No, not today. Not even tomorrow. Tomorrow is CMU Podcast Friday. Though come to think of it, that's a secret, so forget I said anything. But come the tenth day of the month of July the year of our Lord 2015, it'll be New Music Friday. And then it'll be New Music Friday every Friday after that, all the way through to Armageddon (5 May 2019)... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: Mags' debut track 'Etta James' is apparently part one of a trilogy designed to introduce and explain who she is as an artist. Obviously, I only have one third of that to go on at this stage, but I think it's fair to say she leans towards the dramatic. And, no, I don't think she's trying to subliminally suggest that she is the new Etta James. Tense strings and piano set the tone... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES New Music Friday unveiled as prep underway for global release day
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LEGAL BB King's family submit legal papers in ongoing estate dispute
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS EPM opens LA office
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LIVE BUSINESS Glasgow's The Arches closes following licensing restrictions
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES As Spotify passes 20 million paying subscriber milestone, what does that mean for Apple Music?
Line Music streaming service goes live in Japan
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OBITUARIES James Last 1929-2015
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ARTIST NEWS David Guetta to write official song of Euro 2016
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AWARDS Earache founder Digby Pearson to receive AIM's Pioneer Award
Jazz FM Awards presented
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ONE LINERS New Lambchop side-project, Paul McCartney gets a tulip, and more
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AND FINALLY... Pop Tarts pop news
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New Music Friday unveiled as prep underway for global release day
Welcome to New Music Friday. No, not today. Not even tomorrow. Tomorrow is CMU Podcast Friday. Though come to think of it, that's a secret, so forget I said anything. But come the tenth day of the month of July the year of our Lord 2015, it'll be New Music Friday. And then it'll be New Music Friday every Friday after that, all the way through to Armageddon (5 May 2019).

Yes, the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry has branded up the much previously reported Global Release Day. They were going to go with 'GRD', but then they remembered that the music industry hasn't had much success with major projects called GRD. So instead they are going with New Music Friday. Because as of next month new music will come out on Friday wherever you are in the world. Yes, even in Basingstoke.

Pretty much everyone in the record industry and entertainment retail agreed that there should be one day in the week when all new music is unleashed, unlike now when it varies from country to country. Though there was less consensus on what day it should be. More than a few high street retailers weren't so pleased with Friday as the new music day, fearing they'd lose the double spike, ie core music fans shopping early week to get the new releases, everyone else popping in at the weekend for a good old browse. Basically everything what Beggars boss Martin Mills said back in February.

But you know, Sony and Universal spoke and now everyone's getting on with it. And don't worry, a survey by UK label trade group BPI of just over 2000 consumers found that an end-of-week release day was most popular. Actually 37% of those surveyed said Saturday. But that's nearly Friday innit? And 60% said either Friday or Saturday. So job done. Though I suspect beyond those core music fans who created the traditional early-week spike at indie record shops, the average music fan doesn't care what day new music comes out on, and likely doesn't even know.

Anyway, "think Friday, think new music" says IFPI, and whatever you think about the choice of day, unified release dates worldwide makes a whole lot of sense in an age when artists converse with fans as one globally. And no one day was going to please everybody. So well done everybody. Hey, look, they even made a website.

Here's some more words from IFPI: "New Music Fridays are an opportunity for artists and labels to maximise awareness of newly-released music. Whatever country they are in, fans will now know - Friday is not just the start of the weekend - it's the day for new music. This can help create more excitement and a sense of occasion around the release of new albums and singles".

Of course, behind the scenes the shift has required quite a bit of rejigging by labels and especially distributors and retailers, with 34 of the 45 countries shifting to New Music Friday not currently releasing new tracks and albums on that day.

The move will also impact on chart days in many countries, including here in the UK where, of course, the weekly countdown of the most bought and streamed tracks and LPs will start coming out on a Friday, with a Friday afternoon chart show and Monday morning Music Week delivery to complement the move.

The first Friday chart will appear on the first New Music Friday - making that an unusual five-day chart - with the first Friday Top 40 proper being unveiled on 17 Jul, just in time for everyone being on summer holiday and not giving a fuck about the charts. Still, at least that gives everyone a couple of months to iron out any glitches before we get into full on new release season in September.

Now some quotes...

IFPI CEO Frances Moore: "New Music Fridays is the result of tremendous cross-industry collaboration, involving labels, artists, retailers and others. Establishing a global release day for new music means fans across the world can get new music as soon as it is released and we can recreate that sense of excitement that new music used to bring. We hope it will be a case of 'think Fridays... think new music'".

BPI CEO Geoff Taylor: "In a business that is increasingly digital and global, the logic for a global release day is compelling. Fans don't understand why they have to wait to legally access music that has already been released in other countries. Unifying the day of release inevitably means some countries are having to switch days, but it makes sense to consider the time of the week when interest in entertainment, digital activity and physical footfall is building towards its peak. Fans are telling us they would like new music ready for the weekend, so Friday appears the best choice and it is supported by the research we undertook with consumers. We need to do everything we can to serve the fans and build our business around that".

Entertainment Retailers Association CEO Kim Bayley: "Retailers and digital services are the ultimate link in the chain between artists and music fans. Having a single worldwide release day reduces customer confusion about when new music is available and focuses everyone's attention on new releases. Retailers are working hard to implement the change to Fridays and ensure that the advent of New Music Friday is a success".

Official Charts Company CEO Martin Talbot: "Moving to Friday ushers in a new era for the Official Chart this summer. From 10 Jul, every Friday night will be party night for all the artists and their UK fans celebrating their latest chart position. It is going to be a fantastic new beginning for the Official Charts".

BB King's family submit legal papers in ongoing estate dispute
So legal wrangling around BB King's estate continues to unfold ahead of a court hearing tomorrow, with new legal papers filed on behalf of some of the late blues legend's children summarising the allegations they are making against his former business manager and personal assistant, LaVerne Toney and Myron Johnson respectively. They also raise the prospect of a second will separate from the one that names Toney as sole executor of the estate.

The legal filing made by Larissa Drohobyczer, representing at least four of King's children, doesn't specifically repeat the previous allegation that Toney and Johnson poisoned the musician, but does make other claims about the pair. Toney is accused of moving over $1 million from King's bank accounts while denying him proper care in his final weeks and changing the locks on his home so that he died without his friends or family. Johnson is accused of taking cash and jewellery.

Toney's legal rep Brent Bryson had already called the family's claims "spurious and unjustified allegations". The duo are yet to specifically respond to Tuesday's legal filing, though Johnson did tell the Associated Press: "They've been making allegations forever, this is just the next step".

King died last month, seemingly after suffering a number of small strokes linked to his diabetes. An autopsy was carried out prior to King's funeral last week, with toxicology results expected next month. Though, despite the poisoning claims, police have said that there is no active homicide investigation ongoing.

EPM opens LA office
Digital distributor EPM - currently with bases in the UK, Netherlands and Germany - has opened a new office in LA, as the company seeks to grow its distribution, rights management and sync services around the globe.

EPM is best known for its operations in the dance music space, and it's new US office will be seeking to capitalise on the much documented boom in the genre Stateside, with the company's Director Of Creative Services Aaron Monty, who will run the LA office, noting the under tapped opportunities for EDM in publishing and sync especially.

Monty, who has previously worked at both major and indie music companies, with a sync focus of late, told CMU: "As the popularity of dance music reaches fever pitch in the US, its creators are still vastly underserved in the realm of music publishing. I'm excited to bring EPM to America to pave the way for future change. All of us at EPM have a passion for dance music, and our thorough understanding of the genre means we're ideally equipped to represent the unique interests of its creators".

Glasgow's The Arches closes following licensing restrictions
The Arches in Glasgow yesterday announced that it was closing with immediate effect, having placed itself in administration. This follows new licensing restrictions placed on the venue by the local council last month.

As previously reported, management at The Arches recently announced that they were seeking legal advice on the local authority decision to cut its licensed hours. They said that by essentially forcing it to stop running club nights, the council was cutting off 51% of the charity-run arts venue's income.

In a statement, the chairman of the venue's board of directors, Gordon Kennedy, said: "The board has taken professional advice and is left with no other choice than to begin the process of appointing administrators for both The Arches Theatre Ltd and Arches Retail Ltd. This decision has been taken with deep regret as it will have a major impact on our staff, business partners, customers, and on Glasgow's reputation for night time economy".

He added that it was hoped that this was not the end of the company entirely and that "the administrators, working with partners and stakeholders, can salvage some of the activities for which The Arches is renowned".

The decision to restrict The Arches' licence came after a period of monitoring by police following a number of drug and alcohol related incidents linked to the venue. However, management at The Arches expressed surprise at the council's ruling, saying that they had complied with requests for increased safety measures and that incidents of drug misuse were at 0.14% during the period of monitoring.

Reiterating this surprise yesterday, Kennedy said: "We were disappointed and surprised at the outcome of the Licensing Board. The Arches has a zero tolerance approach to drugs and has co-operated with the police over many years. For an unprecedented six years The Arches won gold standard under the Glasgow Community Safety/Strathclyde Police Best Bar None awards - recognition of best practice in maintaining safe and well-run premises. No other venue in Scotland has achieved that".

Executive Director Mark Anderson added that prior to its licensed hours being cut, the venue was already suffering from the restrictions it had voluntarily placed on itself based on police recommendations.

He said: "Changes to club event door policy, recommended by Police Scotland in early 2014, resulted in a major downturn in related income and a significant overall trading deficit for the year. With the Licensing Board decision effectively cutting off our main source of income, and serious uncertainty around the outcome of an appeal hearing, particularly given the clear view of Police Scotland, we have regrettably found ourselves with no ability to continue trading as a going concern".

Commenting on the venue's wider arts remit, Artistic Director Lucy Mason said: "The atmosphere and architecture of The Arches have helped to shape and define a generation of enquiring and vital artists. It's shocking that this building which has inspired such creativity, devotion and ambition, should cease to exist as an arts venue".

"The Arches has developed an international reputation as a producer and programmer of distinctive performance, providing opportunities for artists at all stages of their career to experiment and hone their practice", she continued. "Without The Arches, the radical energy at the heart of Scotland's theatre-making community will be greatly diminished, and the future for many individual artists suddenly feels very uncertain".

The closure of The Arches comes less than a week after the chairman of the recently founded Night Time Industries Association, Alan D Miller, warned of increasing challenges faced by late night venues during a keynote at the Brighton Music Conference.

"If people in Britain want to go out and enjoy themselves after 10pm, there are increasing obstacles", he said. "The latest is the wholly misguided concept of breathalysing citizens outside clubs, football stadiums and even McDonalds in Cambridge. We at The NTIA believe British citizens are decent and on the whole well behaved - as the evidence proves - and visitors to the UK are too. It's time to champion the night time industries and to stop these wrong practices".

The Arches itself was born out of Glasgow's 1990 status as European City Of Culture. Its closure also comes less than a week after a new report from the IFPI and Music Canada on how music can boost a city's wider culture and economy.

As Spotify passes 20 million paying subscriber milestone, what does that mean for Apple Music?
Spotify continues to stomp around assuring its position after Apple's big announcement earlier this week. Having secured a funding round of over half a billion dollars to fuel the next phase of its growth, the streaming service yesterday announced that it now has over 20 million paying subscribers - an increase of ten million since May last year.

And keen to satisfy all fans of big figures, Spotify's latest stats brag also claimed 75 million active users overall (so 55 million on the free level) while noting that it has now paid out over $3 billion in royalties to the music industry since it launched and confirming reports that $300 million of this came from just the first quarter of this year. And if you like graphs, Spotify had those too, showing how it planned to double its payouts in the next year.

Aside from stealing back the headlines from its new Apple shaped rival, there's two other reasons why Spotify's latest figures have an impact on the tech giant's first big play in streaming music: first, it proves Spotify's freemium-to-premium model is working and second, it reminds us just how important a revenue stream it has become.

Apple, of course, has no major freemium element to its streaming service. Quite how far the IT firm went in pressuring the majors into curtailing Spotify's free offer is a matter for federal commissions, European regulators and Attorneys General, but whenever anyone criticises their freemium level, Team Spotify stress that it's great freemium that sells £10 a month premium subscriptions.

You could argue that such rapidly growing user figures prove that. And while it's true that Spotify is also having to carry ever growing numbers of free users as well, the premium to freemium ratio has shifted slightly in the former's favour. Paying subscribers have accounted for 25% of Spotify users for a while now, but that key figure has gone up slightly this year.

Beyond freemium, those premium users are now one hell of a serious revenue stream for the record industry. Which could make the arrival of Apple Music a worry for the labels, if all the hype around the tech giant's new music platform pulls people away from the current market-leader in streaming.

Though not so much because of the rates Apple is paying long term. The revelation on Digital Music News (via a leaked indie label contract) that Apple Music was offering a 58% revenue share to the independents led some to assume the tech giant was on a much better deal than Spotify, which pays out approximately 70% of its income to the music industry.

But Spotify's 70% is to all music rights owners, with the labels usually getting a 55-60% cut while the publishers take 10-15%. So, if the DMN figures are right, Apple's revenue share rate seems pretty standard. There is possibly some confusion because in the US, unlike Europe, the labels sort out the publishing on downloads, rather than the digital services paying the publishers separately. But that's rarely the case with streams, and there's nothing in the contract terms published by DMN to suggest this deal is a special case in this regard.

Anyway, for revenue-lite new streaming services the per-play and per-user minimum guarantees are usually more important than the revenue share arrangements, for a time at least. And of most concern to the labels with Apple Music is the proposal that the three month free trial it will offer new users be royalty payment free for the tech giant. This was known to be a sticking point with the majors too, and continues to be an issue with the indies.

Aside from wondering why profit-margin-tight independent record companies should subsidise the mega-rich Apple's new service, many labels point out that if too many Spotify premium users leap to Apple's three-month freebie, that could have a big if short-term impact on what - for many smaller labels - is now the biggest overall revenue stream, ie Spotify loot.

Beyond the intricacies of the licensing deal, the real gamble, of course, is on whether or not can Apple make good on its promise that its new streaming service won't cannibalise existing Spotify users, but instead pull millions of $30 a year downloaders into a $120 a year subscription system. Such an annual spend leap remains a big ask, but optimists hope that it can, meaning Spotify's impressive regular stat brags can continue to impress while a whole new subscription revenue stream starts to flood in from Apple HQ.

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Line Music streaming service goes live in Japan
Messaging app Line's streaming service has gone live in Japan, a week after the announcement that Universal Music Japan had taken a stake in the spin-off company.

Line Music, announced as a joint venture between Line and Japanese major labels Sony Music and Avex last year, will offer low cost streaming to consumers in Japan - where none of the major streaming services have yet been licensed. It will charge 500 yen (around £2.50) for 20 hours of streaming per month, or 1000 yen for unlimited access to it 1.5 million song catalogue.

Students receive discounted rates, and until August users will be given two months of free access. Although currently only available on mobile phones, a browser-based version of the software is expected next month.

On the whole, record labels have been very reticent to licence digital services in Japan, and have been particularly suspicious of streaming. However, with the previously buoyant CD market now seeing significant decline in the country, there has been some movement to find a solution. On streaming though, the labels reached an impasse, split between those that want to own and control digital services themselves and those that believed the time was right to allow Western services like Spotify into the market.

Universal Music and Warner Music have very much been of the latter position, which made the former's decision to take a financial stake in Line Music last month surprising. One source suggested to CMU that this was a case of 'if you can't beat them, join them', and that the mega-major simply wanted to get some financial return out of the streaming service before it ultimately failed.

However, in the past others have expressed concern that Line Music may ultimately serve to harm Spotify et al when they do arrive in Japan, teaching consumers so far little exposed to the idea of streaming music that it should be far cheaper than the prices the Western companies will want to charge. There is, of course, an argument that cheaper prices are required across the board anyway for streaming music to go mass market anywhere, but in Japan it places more pressure on Line Music to be a success.

In a statement, Line Music president Jun Matsuda said: "In the future, we will expand the amount of music and participating labels available in Line Music. We aim to enliven the music industry and increase interest in music, and to become the number one music distribution service".

Japan is the second territory to be given access to Line Music of course, it having first been launched in Thailand last month. Line also has a digital music presence globally, after buying MixRadio from Nokia last year, bringing it to the Android and iOS operating systems last month.

Elsewhere in Japanese digital music news, there has been speculation this week about whether or not Apple's new streaming service will make it to the country. Apple struggled to launch iTunes in Japan, having to make various concessions to the labels in order to do so and still lacking a considerable amount of local content. However, many noted the appearance of an Apple Music Japan Twitter account following the company's big music announcement on Monday.

Access to Apple's full streaming service in the country seems unlikely, at least for the time being, but updates from the Twitter account do suggest that Japan will be one of the 100 countries to gain access to the Beats 1 radio station at launch.

James Last 1929-2015
Easy listening star James Last has died following a brief period of illness. He was 86.

Born in Germany in 1929, then named Hans Last, he began playing piano and double bass as a child - later going on to be named the country's best jazz bassist three times. He initially began performing with a six-piece group called the Last-Becker Ensemble in 1948, and when they split he became an arranger for Polydor and a number of radio stations before joining the North German Radio Dance Orchestra in 1956.

He formed his own orchestra in 1964, where he began to develop his signature sound, releasing the first in a long series of albums under the banner 'Non Stop Dancing'. These saw Last arrange popular songs of the day in a continuous, easy listening style. This made him a star, and started a career that would see him sell tens of millions of albums. Though it also brought much derision - particularly initially for his decision to rework Beatles songs.

Last also performed live prolifically, and holds the record for the most number of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, with 90 under his belt. The final two came earlier this year as part of a farewell tour.

Last is survived by his second wife Christine, their daughter Caterina, and a son from his first marriage Ronald.

  Approved: Mags
Mags' debut track 'Etta James' is apparently part one of a trilogy designed to introduce and explain who she is as an artist. Obviously, I only have one third of that to go on at this stage, but I think it's fair to say she leans towards the dramatic. And, no, I don't think she's trying to subliminally suggest that she is the new Etta James.

Tense strings and piano set the tone for the song from the off, building an atmosphere on which Mags' voice confidently floats before riding a breaking wave of drums that only arrives a full minute in. The distance travelled in three and a half minutes of music is impressive, and makes the remainder of the trilogy all the more intriguing to see.

Listen to 'Etta James' here.
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David Guetta to write official song of Euro 2016
FIFA might be riddled with corruption, but not our UEFA. No, not a bit of it. David Guetta didn't have to bribe anyone to be allowed to record the official song of the Euro 2016 football tournament. Not that I'm saying Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez had to pay to record the official World Cup 2014 song, but... come on.

Anyway, yeah, that David Guetta chap is going to record the official song of Euro 2016, due to take place in France next year. He'll also perform at the opening ceremony at the Stade de France on 10 Jun. I'm sure it'll go down in history as a thing that happened.

Insisting that Guetta was not asked to hand over any money and that UEFA is genuinely keen for this to happen, the organisation's president Michel Platini said: "We wanted to work with David Guetta because he has proven throughout his career that he can create music which inspires people all around the world. David's music has great energy so we look forward to seeing and hearing him add to the spirit and atmosphere of the tournament".

Guetta added: "It is incredibly exciting to be part of this huge football tournament in my home country. Music and football go hand in hand when it comes to celebration and enjoyment and I want to help to make this Euro the biggest and most memorable yet. We want the fans to be at the very heart of everything that we do".

Warming up for the big event, Guetta will play a free show at the Champ Mars in Paris on 9 Jun 2016 too.

Earache founder Digby Pearson to receive AIM's Pioneer Award
The Association Of Independent Music has announced that Earache Records founder Digby Pearson is to receive the Pioneer Award at this year's Independent Music Awards.

Says Pearson: "It's an honour to be awarded AIM's Pioneer award, cheers to all the voting panel. Great news for all up-and-coming independent rock and metal labels out there. If you're dedicated and tenacious enough, it's pleasing to know that hard work can pay off in terms of respect from industry peers. Lastly big up to the long suffering Earache staffers, especially Dan Tobin and Al Dawson, without whom nothing much would have been achieved".

AIM CEO Alison Wenham added: "The rock and heavy music world is often underrepresented in mainstream media and other industry awards, so our judges selecting Digby Pearson as the Pioneer Award recipient this year is a very exciting moment. Digby and Earache's influence and innovation in the metal world is undeniable, and we so look forward to celebrating his achievements".

The Independent Music Awards will take place at The Brewery in London on 8 Sep.

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Jazz FM Awards presented
So it was the second ever Jazz FM Awards in that there London last night, and what a night it was. There was jazz. There were awards. And plenty of frequency modulation, I'm sure. Though given we've just been told by Victoria Milan - a website that helps married people organise an affair, because that's a thing - that jazz fans are most likely to be cheaters, who knows what happened at the end of the party (metal-heads were least likely to cheat, in case you wondered).

But enough cheating, here are some winners...

UK Jazz Act Of The Year: GoGo Penguin
International Jazz Artist of the Year: Gregory Porter
Breakthrough Act: Bill Laurance

Instrumentalist of the Year: Shabaka Hutchings
Vocalist Of The Year: Zara McFarlane
Blues Artist Of The Year: Dr John
Soul Artist Of The Year: Jarrod Lawson
Jazz Innovation Of The Year: Jason Moran

Album Of The Year: Dianne Reeves - Beautiful Life
Live Experience Of The Year: Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

PPL Lifetime Achievement: Hugh Masekela

New Lambchop side-project, Paul McCartney gets a tulip, and more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Kurt Wagner, Scott Martin and Ryan Norris of Lampchop have announced a new electronic project called Hecta. They will release their debut album, 'The Diet', on 18 Sep. From it, this is 'Til Someone Gets Hurt'.

CMU approved Japanese rap duo Charisma.com have announced that they will release a new mini-album, 'OLest', on 8 Jul. Here's lead single 'Otsubone Rock'.

• Widowspeak have announced that they will release a new album called 'All Yours' on 4 Sep. This is a song from it called 'Girls'.

• The recently approved Lock have released the video for their debut single, 'Click'.

• Paul McCartney has a tulip named after him now. The flower has apparently been in development for 20 years. "Garden", said Jac Uittenbogaard of Remarkable Tulips.

Pop Tarts pop news
Jessie J, Rixton and Jhene Aiko have just put out a record together. They made it for Pop Tarts. They recorded it in the Pop Tarts Studio. It's streaming on the Pop Tarts Tumblr. And they'll sing it at two Pop Tarts concerts this summer. The music industry in 2015. What's not to like?

Says Jessie, while nibbling on a sugary breakfast treat I assume: "I had so much fun recording 'Sorry To Interrupt' at the Pop Tarts Studio with Rixton and Jhene Aiko. I'm excited for all of our fans to listen to the song and check out the making of!"

 
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