TODAY'S TOP STORY: After American independent label trade body A2IM said it was "struggling to understand why rights holders would authorise their content" for the new Apple Music streaming service based on the deal currently being offered by the tech giant, the UK's Association Of Independent Music now says Apple's proposal "does not meet a standard of commercial fairness that we can endorse"... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Miguel is due to release 'Wildheart' - the follow-up to his 2012 album 'Kaleidoscope Dream' - on 29 Jun, but being a keen sort he's already released six tracks from it. And sounding pretty great as a six track EP, the full album is lining up to be one of this year's highlights. On the new music, Miguel comes across a more confident songwriter and performer, more sure of... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES AIM won't endorse Apple Music deal that has "serious short-term consequences" for labels
LEGAL Monster ordered to pay Beastie Boys another $668,000
LABELS & PUBLISHERS PRS/STIM/GEMA joint venture gets the go ahead
ENTERTAINMENT RETAIL Cassette Store Day is back
LIVE BUSINESS Brixton nightclub Plan B closes ahead of relaunch under Columbo Group management
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES 7digital promotes Jamie Priestley to US GM
ARTIST NEWS Neil Young tries to trump Trump from trumpeting with his song
AWARDS PRS For Music launches development prize in memory of Lynsey de Paul
ONE LINERS Rob Wiesenthal leaves Warner Music, Blanck Mass scores a film, Zayn Malik covers a rapper, and more
AND FINALLY... Imminent music festival seeks new headliner, GSOH, no broken legs
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AIM won't endorse Apple Music deal that has "serious short-term consequences" for labels
After American independent label trade body A2IM said it was "struggling to understand why rights holders would authorise their content" for the new Apple Music streaming service based on the deal currently being offered by the tech giant, the UK's Association Of Independent Music now says Apple's proposal "does not meet a standard of commercial fairness that we can endorse".

As previously reported, since Apple unveiled its all new music platform, due to go live on 30 Jun, there has been much debate about the deal it is offering the record labels. A major sticking point is that the tech giant doesn't want to pay any royalties at all while users are on a three month free trial. Apple argues that the labels have as much to gain as it does from users trying out the streaming service and then signing up at $10 a month.

Unlike Spotify, Apple Music will not offer a full ongoing freemium option. Spotify pays much lower royalties on freemium streams and Apple argues that, by having only premium users beyond the trial periods, it will pay in more to the industry overall. The firm's Robert Kondrk has added that Apple Music will also pay 2-3% more of its revenues to the music industry anyway, meaning even more cash for labels, publishers, artists and songwriters. Long term.

Which may or may not be true, it mainly depends on whether Apple can actually persuade more casual music fans to sign up at $10 a month. But either way, in the short term subsidising the three month free trial could be costly for the labels, if it results in a sharp fall in either downloads or Spotify streams, especially in July, August and September when all Apple Music users will be on the free option.

Unlike the streaming start-ups, Apple isn't negotiating with Merlin to secure one central licence that covers 20,000+ independent labels and distributors, because the indies' original iTunes deals pre-date the creation of the Merlin organisation. This means Apple is dealing with the labels individually, which arguably reduces their negotiating power on sticking points like this.

Which is why A2IM and now AIM have issued guidance to their members, while acknowledging that every label must do what it thinks is best. The boss of the latter, Alison Wenham, who has experience in leading indie label crusades against Apple dating back to the very early days of iTunes, says she feels uneasy about the Apple Music deal negotiations.

In a letter to her members she notes the huge potential Apple's new music service offers the record industry as a new significant revenue stream, but adds: "The speed at which Apple has introduced their plans and its lack of consultation with the independent music sector over deal terms (despite what [Apple Music overseer] Jimmy Iovine might claim) has left us with the uneasy feeling that independents are being railroaded into an agreement that could have serious short-term consequences for our members' interests".

On the royalty free trial period, Wenham adds: "This is a major problem for any label that relies on new releases rather than deep catalogue as the potential for this free trial to cannabalise not only download sales, which remain a very important revenue stream, but also streaming income from other services, is enormous. As a whole the independent sector is a powerful voice in the music industry but its individual parts, the smaller labels particularly, cannot withstand such a potentially catastrophic drop in revenue".

She concludes: "Each individual member of AIM must, of course, make their own decision whether or not to sign this agreement, but many members have already expressed very real concerns about the consequences of doing so, hence our communication to the whole membership. It is AIM's view therefore that, in its present form, this agreement sadly does not meet a standard of commercial fairness that we can endorse".

Whether Apple is willing to budge on this remains to seen. We know this was a sticking point with the majors too, but don't know how the matter was resolved. Given the tech giant is clearly keen to reduce its liabilities, a lump sum deal would be the easiest solution, though that won't be so easy to organise when dealing with every indie label separately.

Unlike with last year's indie label stand off with YouTube, the independents do arguably have an alternative if Apple won't budge, in that they could hold off licensing the streaming service until October, when at least some Apple Music users will be on premium. Though that could still have a negative impact on other income, in that users on the Apple Music free trial might just make do with the major label content that is there, and therefore still download or Spotify-stream less indie label repertoire.

Read Wenham's full letter here.

Monster ordered to pay Beastie Boys another $668,000
A New York judge has told the makers of the Monster energy drink to pay the Beastie Boys another $668,000 towards the legal costs the rap group ran up during their legal dispute with the drinks brand.

As previously reported, a jury last year awarded the Beastie Boys $1.7 million after Monster used their music in a promotional video without permission. The drinks brand admitted that it had infringed the rappers' copyrights, but disputed the high levels of damages the rappers sought.

For their part, the Beastie Boys argued that they never allowed their music to be used in adverts, and so would never have granted permission had they been asked. They also felt that Monster was capitalising on the then recent death of their bandmate Adam Yauch.

With Monster having failed to successfully appeal that ruling, the Beastie Boys decided to add insult to injury by requesting the drinks firm pay their massive $2.4 million legal bill.

While the judge hearing the case was sympathetic in principle to the rap outfit's request for legal costs to be paid, he was quick to note that $2.4 million was huge sum of money for a case of this kind, adding that the claimants had chosen to go the 'Cadillac Escalade' litigation route, rather than taking the 'Honda Civic' option.

To that end he didn't feel Monster could be expected to meet the rappers' legal costs in their entirety, though nevertheless awarded them $668,000, still significantly more than you'd expect.

All in all, it's makes that one promo video, pulled from the net as soon as the copyright infringement claim was made, an incredible expense for Monster. As previously reported, evidence presented in the original court case showed that the drinks brand did very little due diligence in clearing the rights to use the Beastie Boys tracks, assuming that the DJ who mixed the video's soundtrack calling the final edit "DOPE" constituted permission.

PRS/STIM/GEMA joint venture gets the go ahead
The European Commission has given the all clear for European collecting societies PRS, STIM and GEMA - which represent publishers and songwriters in, respectively, the UK, Sweden and Germany - to form a central hub to license and process royalties from multi-territory digital services.

The three societies announced the joint venture back in 2013. It will mean that digital services seeking multi-territory licences - which is most digital services - will now be able to licence the PRS, STIM and GEMA song repertoires for Europe through one licence, rather than three.

And while it's worth noting that the bigger publishers now licence most digital services directly (albeit via joint ventures with the societies), meaning that PRS, STIM and GEMA are no longer licensing their entire repertoires to digital, the number of songs collectively represented by the three organisations is still significant.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the new scheme means that royalties due to the three societies from the digital services will be calculated and invoiced together, utilising a combined database of copyright ownership information built on the PRS and STIM's existing data alliance, aka the International Copyright Enterprise or ICE.

The aim is to make it easier for pan-European digital services to licence song rights and to make the processing of streaming usage-data and monies more efficient, which seems like a fine idea in principle, not least because legislators in Europe are always telling the music rights sector to make licensing simpler.

But competition regulators in Europe nevertheless raised concerns about the joint venture, because PRS, STIM and GEMA collaborating means less competition, and less choice in the market for both licensees and creators/rights owners (sort of, but not really). And while it's true that the growth of direct licensing of digital in the publishing sector is reducing the dominance of the collecting societies to a point, they are still partners in that direct licensing system.

As previously reported, the EC announced in January that it was opening an 'in-depth investigation' into the competition implications of the PRS/STIM/GEMA joint venture because preliminary conversations had suggested the collaboration could "result in higher prices and worsened commercial conditions for digital service providers in the European Economic Area".

But yesterday the EC announced that, having done that in-depth investigating, it was giving the joint venture the green light, subject to some commitments, mainly to ensure publishers have some flexibility over what administration services they choose to use.

The Commission said in a statement: "The approval is conditional upon the proposed joint venture implementing commitments that will enable other players to compete with the joint venture in the provision of copyright administration services. The Commission had concerns that the creation of the joint venture would make it more difficult for other collecting societies to offer copyright administration services by raising the barriers to entry and growth in this market. The commitments submitted by the companies address these concerns".

Needless to say, the three societies welcomed the decision, as you will see from the quotes fest below. We now wait to find out the timescales involved in shifting multi-territory digital licensing and royalty processing from the individual societies to the new hub.

Meanwhile, quotes...

PRS For Music CEO Robert Ashcroft: "This is a very significant day for online music licensing as our new joint venture is uniquely positioned to deal with the rapidly transforming online music market. What this clearance means is that we are now able to work even more effectively on behalf of songwriters, composers and their music publishers, while at the same time helping to develop the Digital Single Market across Europe".

STIM CEO Karsten Dyhrberg Nielsen: "Today's competition clearance announcement is testament to the incredible work that has gone into the design of this new offering, which will provide a seamless service for both music rights holders and pan-European digital service providers. It's the result of years of productive collaboration between STIM, GEMA and PRS For Music to deliver a solution that will help the digital market grow".

GEMA CEO Dr Harald Heker: "Our hub enables fluidity, agility and speed in the multi-territory market, facilitates the licensing process for digital service providers and improves the quality of rights administration for the benefit of rights holders and users. The JV constitutes an important new chapter for the whole rights management industry and a huge step forward towards the development of an EU-wide Digital Single Market for music".

Cassette Store Day is back
"But 'cassette stores' aren't even a thing", approximately seven people in your Twitter feed are currently complaining.

Yeah? Well tough, that won't stop Cassette Store Day returning for its third year this October. Because while the cassette revival may be a lot smaller than the actually-pretty-modest-in-itself vinyl revival, it's still a thing that is happening. And the fact that this annoys you all so much amuses me greatly. More tapes, I say!

And more tapes there will be this year, as CSD expands into more countries around the world, with labels in Australia, New Zealand and Germany coming on board for the first time.

Co-founder of the event Jen Long says: "Cassette tapes aren't just a format, they're a culture, and cassette culture is as much about collaboration as doing it yourself. This year we've gone even further to try and include as many tape fans around the world. We want as many people as possible to be able to get involved and put out a tape, put on a gig or event, or get hold of that release they really want".

Co-ordinator of US proceedings Burger Records added: "The snowball that is Cassette Store Day rolls into 2015 bigger, better and badder than ever before! When we're done spreading the good word of our fave format no one will ever ask 'Why cassettes?' again! BURGER BELIEVE THAT!"

Yes indeed. And applications for events, labels and record shops which want join in will open on 11 Jul. More details on that via shortly.

Cassette Store Day itself will take place on 22 Oct.

7digital promotes Jamie Priestley to US GM
7digital has announced the promotion of its VP of Business Development James Priestley to the role of General Manager of the digital music provider's North American operations.

Announcing the news, 7digital CEO Simon Cole said: "James has been an extremely valuable part of the 7digital team for close to a decade, during which he helped launch countless partners that have really accelerated our growth. His insight and experience in digital media, marketing and business development provides the exact type of leadership we need to further expand our presence and client base in North America. While we are impressed by the growing reach of interest in our service globally, North America is particularly active across all sectors. James is an integral part of us strengthening our team on the ground in the US".

Priestley added: "It's an honour to be chosen to lead the North American arm of 7digital's vast global presence. We already have a number of major partners in the US but know there is a gigantic opportunity for growth in North America, as well as Latin America. Both our existing clients, and the exciting roster of companies we are in discussions with, show that there is a huge appetite for innovative and scalable music platforms. We are extremely busy and I couldn't be more excited to get started".

Currently based in the company's London HQ, Priestley will oversee operations in the US, Canada and Latin America from its San Francisco office.

Brixton nightclub Plan B closes ahead of relaunch under Columbo Group management
Plan B in Brixton has been closed down ahead of a relaunch by The Columbo Croup, which has taken over the club venue. The closure happened earlier this week, before news of the buy out was broken by Brixton Buzz yesterday.

The Columbo Group operates a number of music venues and pubs in London, including XOYO, The Nest and The Old Queens Head. Speaking to Resident Advisor, the company's Andy Peyton said: "We have very specific plans for the venue. It'll reopen in September under a different name, with a different layout".

"All of the musical programming will be done ourselves", he added. "This isn't another story about London's nightlife taking a hit, about another club losing its license. We've had long-standing plans for the venue. We're really excited about it. We think it'll be a great addition to London's club scene".

To Mixmag, he added: "We really want that space and we think we can make it a great nightclub... It's going to be unrecognisable".

A proper announcement on plans for the club is expected in the next two weeks.

  Approved: Miguel
Miguel is due to release 'Wildheart' - the follow-up to his 2012 album 'Kaleidoscope Dream' - on 29 Jun, but being a keen sort he's already released six tracks from it. And sounding pretty great as a six track EP, the full album is lining up to be one of this year's highlights.

On the new music, Miguel comes across a more confident songwriter and performer, more sure of himself as an artist. Great care has clearly been taken over the album's sound, which is a dense blend of electronic and live instruments.

Clearly after three years, in which time he featured on the best track on a Janelle Monáe album, he was never going to just toss out a collection of quickly written R&B tracks, but this feels like a definite attempt to stand out on his own.

Watch the newly released video for 'Coffee' here.
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Neil Young tries to trump Trump from trumpeting with his song
The US presidential race has barely even got going and already a musician is complaining about their music being used by a politician without their permission. Actually, this relates to Donald Trump, who I'm not sure you can really call a politician, no matter what he claims.

The billionaire businessman, golfer and hair tamer Trump yesterday announced his intention to stand to be the next president of the United States Of America. Because if Boris Johnson can be mayor of London and Arnold Schwarzenegger can be governor of California, Trump running a whole country is the next ridiculous step in the downfall of mankind.

Anyway, before announcing his plans to bring the American Dream back from the dead, Trump played 'Rockin In The Free World' by Neil Young. And, hey, it turns out that Neil Young isn't a fan of Donald Trump. Who could have guessed?

In a statement, Young's management company Lookout Management said this morning: "Donald Trump was not authorised to use 'Rockin In The Free World' in his presidential candidacy announcement. Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America".

Sadly for Young, Trump doesn't need specific authorisation to use music at his rallies providing the venue has the right public performance licences from the US collecting societies. However, given how sensitive artists are when their music is used by politicians, it would have been polite to at least ask. Though presumably even the chronically deluded Trump is aware that there aren't many credible musicians out there who would support him with a tune.

PRS For Music Foundation launches development prize in memory of Lynsey de Paul
The PRS For Music Foundation has announced the launch of a new award in memory of singer-songwriter Lynsey de Paul, who died last October. The Lynsey de Paul Prize will offer funding and mentoring to emerging female singer-songwriters.

"I'm delighted to be collaborating with the PRS For Music Members Benevolent Fund on this new prize which will help young female singer-songwriters to work on new material and develop their career with the support of a mentor", said the Foundation's Executive Director Vanessa Reed. "Lynsey was determined to make her voice heard both as an artist and as PRS board member for the last eight years of her life. I'm sure she would have been proud of this prize and its encouragement of the next generation".

Friend of de Paul, Esther Rantzen added: "Lynsey was a pioneer, the first woman to win an Ivor Novello award. She was an artist in every sense, she could paint, compose music, write words, sing and play - and she was the most loyal, kind and entertaining friend. We who had the privilege of knowing her still miss her every day. But we are thrilled that thanks to her colleagues at PRS and its associated charities Lynsey's legacy will be an inspiration for other artists who can follow in her footsteps".

The overall winner of the first Lynsey de Paul Prize will be announced in London on 10 Sep, winning a £2,000 development bursary and mentorship. Two runners up will each be awarded a £500 bursary.

The deadline for applications is 29 Jul, further details here.

Rob Wiesenthal leaves Warner Music, Blanck Mass scores a film, Zayn Malik covers a rapper, and more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

Warner Music Group COO Rob Wiesenthal is leaving the major - and the music industry - to focus on a start-up called Blade, "the first crowdsourced short distance aviation company". His now ex-boss wrote a memo about the move. Click here if you like memos.

• Will Young has pumped out the video for his new single, 'Thank You'. That's OK, Will.

• As they prepare to kick off their latest UK tour with a show at Village Underground in Shoreditch tonight, The Go! Team have shared three new videos all at once.

• Mac DeMarco has released the video for 'Another One', the title track of his new mini-album. It's a bit odd.

• Blanck Mass will provide a new live score for Italian horror film 'The Strange Colour Of Your Body's Tears' as part of the East End Film Festival on 10 Jul.

• Gabrielle Aplin will be touring the UK in September and October, in the weeks following the release of her new album. The tour will feature a performance at London's Village Underground on 30 Sep.

• Frank Turner will tour the UK this November, following the 7 Aug release of his new album 'Positive Songs For Negative People'. The tour will come to a close with a show at London's Alexandra Palace on 26 Nov.

• Continuing to be reformed, Ride have announced UK shows in October.

• Girls Names will play the 100 Club in London on 19 Oct.

• Liturgy have announced a whole load of European dates, which include shows in the UK and Ireland.

• A recording of Zayn Malik covering Rae Sremmurd's 'No Type' has been leaked. Thankfully, it keeps getting taken down. Listen to the original instead.

Imminent music festival seeks new headliner, GSOH, no broken legs
So, Dave Grohl's broken leg has had to pull out of the Glastonbury Festival, and where Dave Grohl's leg goes, the rest of the Foo Fighters follow. Dave Grohl's leg is basically the Bagpuss of the band. And that leaves Glasto with a hole at the top of its Friday night Pyramid Stage line-up. But worry not, work is already underway to fill that hole. Here are the options currently being considered behind the scenes...

1. Upgrade Florence And The Machine from second on the bill.
2. Book in Taylor Swift or The Strokes who are both in the UK this month. Hell, have them both.
3. Just assume Damon Albarn is on call again.
4. Swallow all pride and fly in McBusted.
5. Book Four Fighters "The UK's Definitive Foo Fighters Tribute Band".
6. Ask Kanye West to do an alternative 'ITV Set' (with no sound)
7. Find out what Hanson are up to.
8. Stage a 'who can break their leg worse that Dave' contest hosted by a heavily pregnant Fearne Cotton.
9. See if my Uncle Phil's skiffle band is available.
10. Just go with a medley of songs from 'Frozen'. It's what you all really want anyway.

ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletin and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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