THURSDAY 18 JUN 2015
TODAY'S TOP STORY: So, the official Apple Music 'diss line' is getting rather long isn't it? Spotify should walk down the queue handing out refreshments. After all, anger in the indie community over Apple's proposed streaming music deal has conveniently distracted everyone from the real controversy in digital music this month: Spotify's Greengate scandal. But yes, following statements from both the... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: While The Orb's line-up has morphed over the last three decades - Alex Paterson remaining the constant, these days working solely with long term collaborator Thomas Fehlmann - new album 'Moonbuilding 2703AD' sees them return to past glories. Back with Kompakt, this thoughtful new offering leans to the Orb of yesteryear, taking a decent sonic voyage through psychedelia, dub... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Beggars goes public on Apple Music deal
German trade group publishes open letter to Apple chiefs
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LEGAL Cox Communications customers pulled into safe habour dispute
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Michael Nash returns to Warner Music, following Rob Wiesenthal's exit
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MEDIA Rolling Stone owner Wenner Media makes more staffing cuts
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INDUSTRY PEOPLE Jesse Norman named new chair of Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee
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ARTIST NEWS Kid Koala to perform 'satellite concerts', designs effects pedal for the occasion
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AWARDS Kathryn Joseph wins Scottish Album Of The Year Award
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ONE LINERS Spotify appoints new CFO, Madonna video goes live (ish), Simon Cowell to receive award, and more
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AND FINALLY... Taylor Swift is not on the new Frank Turner album
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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.

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Beggars goes public on Apple Music deal
So, the official Apple Music 'diss line' is getting rather long isn't it? Spotify should walk down the queue handing out refreshments. After all, anger in the indie community over Apple's proposed streaming music deal has conveniently distracted everyone from the real controversy in digital music this month: Spotify's Greengate scandal.

But yes, following statements from both the UK and US indie label trade bodies criticising elements of the current Apple Music deal, yesterday one key independent label expressed similar frustrations direct. While again stressing that Apple was a long-term valued business partner, the Beggars Group told its artists and their managers that the deal for the tech giant's new streaming service had been presented without proper consultation and that certain terms were untenable.

Remarking on Apple's move into streaming music, the Beggars memo says: "In many ways the deal structure is very progressive, but unfortunately it was created without reference to us, or as far as we know any independents, and as such unsurprisingly presents problems for us, and for our coming artist releases".

As previously reported, the most contentious of Apple's terms is that it pays no royalties at all while users are on a free trial. Which, while not entirely unprecedented in the streaming market, is problematic because Apple Music will offer users a three month free trial as it tries to hook them into its $10 a month service. And this would mean no royalties at all during July, August and September, when the service first goes live, presumably in the wake of a mega-bucks ad campaign. Indies worry about the impact that summer of free music will have on their download and Spotify income, both key revenue streams.

On that point, the Beggars statement continues: "We are naturally very concerned, especially for artists releasing new albums in the next three months, that all streaming on the new service will be unremunerated until the end of September. Whilst we understand the logic of their proposal and their aim to introduce a subscription-only service, we struggle to see why rights owners and artists should bear this aspect of Apple's customer acquisition costs".

In addition to the free trial issue, the Beggars memo deals with two other topics, the usual concern that the majors might be getting a better deal than the indies, and also that the Artist Connect part of the new service - which encourages artists to engage with fans by uploading extra tracks, videos and photos - is also unmonetised. Why would labels put videos on Apple Music for free, when even the big bad YouTube is paying some royalties?

Say Beggars: "We are also naturally concerned, as ever, as to whether we and you are being treated on a level playing field vis a vis the major labels and their artists. Additionally, we have reservations about both commercial and practical aspects of the Artist Connect area. It is a mistake to treat these rights as royalty free, especially in the light of recent licenses with services like SoundCloud".

Concluding, the statement reads: "At the moment we do not have an agreement with Apple Music that would allow us to participate in the new service. However, we very much hope that the obstacles to agreement can be removed, for us and for independent Merlin-member labels as a whole, and that we will be able to fully support this potentially exciting new service in the coming days".

The there mentioned Merlin, of course, usually negotiates terms with new streaming services on behalf of a significant portion of the indie label community, including Beggars, but is not directly involved here because Apple's deals with the independents pre-date the creation of the digital rights group. The whole point of Merlin is that it enables affiliated indies to make deals as one, strengthening their negotiating hand overall, especially when it comes to matching any of the kickbacks enjoyed by the majors.

The deals between Apple and Sony, Universal and Warner are, of course, secret, though insiders say that they won't be getting royalty payments while users are on the free trial either. Though that doesn't mean there weren't benefits elsewhere in the deal to compensate for that fact.

Indeed, Apple has already said it is offering 2-3% more than some of its competitors on the revenue share part of the streaming deal, in part to make up for the upfront commitments the labels are making in support of the free trial promotion. For the majors, where short-term cashflow is less of an issue, such a value exchange may have been enough to overcome the free trial concerns, even though artists signed to the majors with big releases out during this royalty-lite summer might disagree.

Back in the indie community, where short-term cash flow is often a much bigger concern, even those who agree that, ultimately, Apple's higher-rev-share-for-three-month-free exchange is a fair deal, may be nervous about the impact three months of freebies on Apple Music will have on download and Spotify income.

Though, some more conciliatory indies have conceded that - unlike the initial YouTube proposition that caused so much anger last summer - Apple's deal isn't "all in or all out", in that they can continue to sell music in the iTunes download store without being in the new streaming service.

And they can opt to have catalogue in the streaming service, but new releases only available for download for the time being. Or just allow for streaming the new content that is already posted to SoundCloud, many labels being used to having freebie streaming going on over here in a bid to drive downloads or paid-for streaming over there. At least some indie label distributors are expected to enter into an agreement with Apple Music this month so that their clients can pump content into the streaming service as and when they wish to.

If Apple doesn't budge before the end of the month, and it may well not, it will be interesting to see how many labels reluctantly accept a suck-it-and-see approach, and how many stand their ground and boycott the streaming element of the all new Apple Music as it goes into hype overdrive.

So, plenty more wrangling to come. Meanwhile, Digital Music News has published the contract that is causing all the hoo haa, if you're a fan of long tedious documents.

--------------------------------------------------

German trade group publishes open letter to Apple chiefs
Elsewhere in the Apple Music debate, it's not just the UK and US indie label trade bodies that have spoken out about the tech giant's streaming music deal.

Yesterday the Aussie indie music trade organisation AIR backed those comments made by the UK's Association Of Independent Music earlier this week, while this morning the boss of the German indie music community's trade group VUT published an open letter to Apple execs Tim Cook and Eddy Cue.

In it Jörg Heidemann writes: "We always believed that Apple aims at reaching fair deals with all players and not just with the three remaining major labels. The terms of the contracts sent to independent labels unfortunately tell a different story".

He goes on: "You want to make Apple Music THE platform for music lovers worldwide by bringing them 'more music than ever with access to millions of songs'. In our opinion - and as other cases like MySpace have proven in the past - you won't succeed if you don't take the independent music companies on board".

"Your plan not to compensate independent labels during the three month trial period leads to the assumption that you don't respect the music of independent artists or the work their partners do. It is obvious that this will reduce the overall income for independent artists and labels significantly at a time when many depend on every cent for survival".

Expressing the sentiment of many labels, that this is particularly galling because of Apple's well known wealth, he goes on: "Your company is not a start-up, your company is the 'first US company to cross the $700 billion valuation mark' and the biggest digital music retailer, so we'd assume you're definitively able to pay the independents and their artists. Independents shouldn't be the ones paying for your customer acquisition and the risk of the launch of your service".

Concluding, he says: "Apple Music can definitely become a great place for music but you should try to reach that aim WITH the independent artists and labels. To get the independents on board, offering a fair deal, fair compensation and a seat at the table is the basis. Therefore, we'd really appreciate an explanation for Apple's behaviour towards independent music companies and hope that Apple will rethink its contract terms. We're ready to talk, so are many independents worldwide".

Cox Communications customers pulled into safe habour dispute
250 customers of Cox Communications have been pulled into a legal battle between the American ISP and music companies BMG and Round Hill Music.

As previously reported, the two music rights businesses sued the net firm last year, claiming that the failure of Cox Communications to forward warning letters to suspected file-sharers amongst its customer base meant it should no longer benefit from the safe harbours that mean that ISPs cannot be held liable for the copyright infringing activity of their customers. Cox is the biggest of the US ISPs not to take part in the country's Copyright Alert System, via which other net providers do forward letters to suspected file-sharers.

According to Torrentfreak, as part of the ongoing case BMG and Round Hill requested information about the repeat infringers it had identified on Cox's networks. Although there were 150,000 suspected file-sharers in total, the court said Cox must hand over information relating to the 250 most prolific alleged copyright infringers.

The ISP then wrote to those customers to tell them their names and addresses would have to be shared with BMG and Round Hill, and that each customer should seek legal advice on what that meant. Customers were given the option to object to their data being shared, but only 32 did. Cox is now waiting for court guidance on what to do about those 32 people.

Some of the affected customers have criticised Cox for handing over so much information in one go, while noting that some weren't even customers of the ISP at the time of the alleged file-sharing. Though the net firm has put the blame on the courts and, by association, BMG and Round Hill, telling customers: "We regret being placed in the position of sending this letter, but want you to have every opportunity to protect your interests. We are not permitted to give you legal advice and encourage you to consult an attorney immediately".

It remains to be seen if the two rights owners now begin separate legal proceedings against the 218 suspected file-sharers it has identified - the usual tactic is to write to these people offering a one-off settlement deal to avoid legal action if they agree to never file-share again. Though BMG and Round Hill are really interested in the liabilities of Cox here, so they may use this contact information for something quite different, in order to build their case against the net firm. Time will tell.

Michael Nash returns to Warner Music, following Rob Wiesenthal's exit
Warner Music has announced that former exec Michael Nash is returning to the company, following the departure of COO Rob Wiesenthal earlier this week.

Nash worked in digital strategy and business development for the mini-major from 2000 to 2011, before leaving to become a freelance digital media consultant. A memo from Warner CEO Stephen Cooper describes Nash's new role as being an "Advisor", which suggests his return may be temporary.

"I wanted to follow up on yesterday's announcement about Rob Wiesenthal deciding to leave WMG and let you know that I've asked Michael Nash to join us as Advisor to the CEO", said Cooper in a memo published by Re/code. "In this capacity, Michael will oversee WMG's business development activities, and lead our business development team. He will report to me".

Talking up his new hire, Cooper continued: "Michael has been at the forefront of media and technology convergence for over two decades ... During his time here, he helped WMG establish its reputation as a trailblazer, while growing our digital revenues dramatically. Since leaving WMG, his experience as a strategic thinker and creative deal-maker has continued to expand, including by working to build a wide range of successful start-ups in the social media, gaming, video and music spaces. At this key point in our digital transformation, Michael will be a valuable resource, helping us find new ways of growing our existing business and boldly experimenting with new business models".

Nash will official take up his new role next week.

Rolling Stone owner Wenner Media makes more staffing cuts
American magazine publisher Wenner Media has made a number of staffing cuts across its Rolling Stone, Us Weekly and Men's Journal titles, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Among the cuts, Rolling Stone's David Fricke has apparently been taken off contract and will now contribute on a freelance basis. However, Managing Editor Will Dana was keen to stress that Fricke is not leaving the magazine, tweeting last night: "To be clear: David Fricke isn't leaving Rolling Stone. He's still a Senior Writer and he'll be in the magazine and on the site as much as ever".

Other cuts affect both editorial and commercial roles across the group, says THR.

Jesse Norman named new chair of Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee
Conservative MP Jesse Norman has been named the new chairman of Parliament's Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee, replacing John Whittingdale, who will now be on the receiving end of the committee's questioning in his new role as the government's Culture Secretary.

Norman is a musician himself, playing trumpet with a number of bands, and is also a director of the Hay Festival and a trustee of the Roundhouse in Camden, which was founded in its current incarnation by The Norman Trust, operated by his father Torquil Norman, in 1996.

In his submission to be considered for the role as chair of the select committee, Norman said that key areas for consideration in the culture, media and sport domain were the BBC Charter and licence fee, local media, press freedom, football from grassroots up to FIFA, broadband rollout, mobile services, tourism, the creative industries, and the social power of the arts. He also said that it was "important to look at the case for fairer local arts and broadcast media funding". So there you go.

  Approved: The Orb - Moonbuilding 2703AD
While The Orb's line-up has morphed over the last three decades - Alex Paterson remaining the constant, these days working solely with long term collaborator Thomas Fehlmann - new album 'Moonbuilding 2703AD' sees them return to past glories.

Back with Kompakt, this thoughtful new offering leans to the Orb of yesteryear, taking a decent sonic voyage through psychedelia, dub, beats and peculiar samples, with the right amount of ambient focus.

Possibly more beats driven than, say, 'Ultraworld' or 'UFOrb', there may be just four tracks on the new record, but they are all worthy in their own right, as well as working as a whole, from the beatsy 'Moonscapes' to the trip hop functionality of the title track to the more trippy 'Lunar Caves'.

Never bland, never overly obtuse, and without too much navel gazing, it looks like The Orb are back on form in 2015. Listen to 'Moonbuilding 2703AD' here.
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Kid Koala to perform 'satellite concerts', designs effects pedal for the occasion
Kid Koala has announced that he will play two 'satellite concerts' at the Luminato Festival in Toronto later this month.

The shows will see each member of the audience given a turntable, a crate of coloured vinyl and an effects pedal. They will then be cued to play along with the producer - who will be performing a number of specially written tracks - via a series of coloured lighting changes to correspond with the vinyl.

Those effects pedals I mentioned there are specially created for the show to Kid Koala's own specifications. Named the 'Interstellar Orbiter', the pedal is "a dual resonant analogue filter controlled by a single LFO that sweeps each filter in opposite directions".

If you understood that, you might be interested to know that, as well as being available at the two shows, a limited number of the handmade pedals will be available for sale via Kid Koala's website shortly.

Kathryn Joseph wins Scottish Album Of The Year Award
Kathryn Joseph's 'Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I've Spilled' has been named the Scottish Album Of The Year. The musician takes home the award's £20,000 top prize.

Stewart Henderson, chair of the Scottish Music Industry Association, said: "It's been a flagship year for The SAY Award, our biggest yet, so I'm absolutely delighted for Kathryn. 'Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I've Spilled' is a beautiful, very special album. I'm just incredibly proud of all the music our artists have released over the last fifteen months - and for The SAY Award to recognise a talent like Kathryn, well, we must be doing something right. It's shaping up well for The SAY's fifth anniversary next year".

Joseph was up against Belle and Sebastian, Errors, Happy Meals, Honeyblood, Paolo Nutini, Paws, Slam, The Amazing Snakeheads and last year's winners Young Fathers.

Each nominee also receives £1000 and a one of a kind quilt from Glasgow School of Art graduate Vanessa Hindshaw.

Spotify appoints new CFO, Madonna video goes live (ish), Simon Cowell to receive award, and more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Spotify has announced former Netflix exec Barry McCarthy as its new CFO. He will step down from the music streaming service's board, upon which he has sat since February 2014, to take up the hands-on role.

• Evian Christ has signed to Warp Records. His first collaboration with the label will be an installation at the ICA in London on 23-26 Jul, created with David Rudnick, looking at the European Trance War (1998 to present).

• You can watch the video for Madonna's 'Bitch, I'm Madonna' now if you're a Tidal subscriber (unlikely).

• Icona Pop have released the video for their new single, 'Emergency', which is out on 6 Jul.

• Pavement will release 'The Secret History Vol. 1', the first of five rarities compilations, through Domino on 14 Aug.

• Ghostpoet has released the video for new single 'Sorry My Love, It's You Not Me', out on 31 Jul.

• Simon Cowell will be honoured at the 2015 Music Industry Trusts Award in November, an event held in aid of Nordoff Robbins remember, so hold that thought.

• At long last, Nile Rodgers is getting a bit of recognition. He'll receive this year's BMI Icon Award in LA on 28 Aug. "Thrilled", said BMI Vice President Catherine Brewton.

• Hudson Mohawke will headline the Roundhouse on 10 Dec. Tickets go on sale tomorrow.

• Florence & The Machine will take over from Foo Fighters as Friday headliners at Glastonbury. We know you all already know this, but they announced it minutes after yesterday's CMU Daily landed. And, as you all know, it's not 'canon' unless we report on it. So this one liner is to stop future squabbles between fans.

Taylor Swift is not on the new Frank Turner album
Frank Turner had the opportunity to have Taylor Swift on his new album, 'Positive Songs For Negative People', and he turned it down.

Swift was suggested by Turner's label Universal/Polydor to appear on 'Silent Key', a song about Christa McAuliffe, the primary school teacher who died on the Challenger space shuttle when it exploded shortly after take off in 1986.

"I wanted the end [of the song] to be sung by an American woman [pretending] to be Christa", explained Turner to the NME. "The record label were suggesting some of the more famous people that [producer] Butch [Walker] has worked with, like, fucking Taylor Swift. No contact was ever made but they were like, 'Let's ask Taylor'. I was like, 'That's a fucking rubbish idea'".

Rubbish? Or awesome? Anyway, in the end singer-songwriter Esmé Patterson did it.

 
ANDY MALT | Editor
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