THURSDAY 25 JUN 2015
TODAY'S TOP STORY: While America's real pop idol took on Apple last weekend, the telly-show-made Idols are taking on the major record companies and tackling many of ongoing bones of contention between artists and labels. And if this case ever gets to court, it could be one of the most significant music industry legal battles in years. Forget about Pharrell ripping off other people's pop songs, this... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: Where do you even start with Death Team? The duo apparently met at Spotify's Stockholm HQ while performing with different projects. Although neither has much memory of that initial meeting, they nonetheless ended up trying to work together. Initial attempts at punk floundered, which possibly explains their first single 'Fucking Bitches In The Hood', its.... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES 19 adds the 'Spotify equity issue' to its big Sony Music legal battle
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LEGAL Sound recording copyright term now 70 years in Canada
Diddy responds to arrest for kettleball assault
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DEALS Vessels sign to Just Isn't Music
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DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify buys analytics firm
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MEDIA Resident Advisor launches listings app
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ARTIST NEWS Def Leppard guitarist able to join tour despite cancer treatment
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Brian Wilson cancels UK tour, says 2016 European shows will be his last
Stewart Lee to curate ATP festival
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ONE LINERS Apple Music gubbins, Mogwai rarities, Tom Morello workings and more
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AND FINALLY... Trump responds to Young over track spat
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19 adds the 'Spotify equity issue' to its big Sony Music legal battle
While America's real pop idol took on Apple last weekend, the telly-show-made Idols are taking on the major record companies and tackling many of ongoing bones of contention between artists and labels.

And if this case ever gets to court, it could be one of the most significant music industry legal battles in years. Forget about Pharrell ripping off other people's pop songs, this one could impact on every major label deal in the filing cabinet, in the US and possibly beyond. Which would be fun. Yes, it's the ongoing 19 v Sony case, pulling apart the record deals of various 'American Idol' finalists who were signed to Sony Music but managed by 'Idol' format owners 19.

As previously reported, there are an assortment of gripes in the lawsuits filed by 19 on behalf of the former Idols it still represents, most of them relating to common areas where artists and labels fall out. That includes the fees Sony charges as money moves around the company, what happened to the cash Sony received from its LimeWire settlement, and the big post-iTunes squabble: whether digital income should be treated as a 'sale' or a 'licence', artists usually being due a much higher cut of the loot on the latter than the former.

In the latest development, 19 has amended its lawsuit to cover another tricky topic, the equity stakes Sony - and other labels - have in various streaming music start-ups, but mainly Spotify, as that's the shareholding that could be worth millions if and when the streaming firm floats. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the revised 19 lawsuit expresses the concern of many in the artist and management community, that Sony took the equity stake, which it (arguably) doesn't have to share with its artists, in return for accepting less favourable terms on royalty payments, a cut of which does go to talent.

And 19 isn't just accusing its direct opponent here. Rather: "Each of the major record labels also own an interest in Spotify. On information and belief, those other record labels have engaged in the same self-dealing as Sony with respect to the diversion of payments to them, and the below market streaming royalty rates to artists. Together, and individually, Sony and the other major record labels therefore have significant power to exert control over Spotify in order to not only dictate how revenue will be paid, but wrongfully and in bad faith divert money from royalties that must be shared to other forms of revenue that they can keep for themselves".

The majors are usually cagey about the size of their equity stakes in the likes of Spotify, and about what exactly will happen to the profits when those shares are sold down the line. But behind the scenes some label execs argue that the equity stakes do not have a big impact on the revenue share and minimum guarantee arrangements in their big streaming deals, because the value of that equity is totally unknown at the outset (shares in many start-ups could be ultimately worthless) and it could take years to have any opportunity to cash in.

But 19 argues that once a business like Spotify gains momentum - so that those shares do become valuable - companies like Sony have an interest in continuing to give the firm more favourable royalty rates, so to further boost the streaming firm's growth, in order to maximise valuation at the point of sale. A similar logic would say that the majors wouldn't really mess too much with Spotify's freemium-to-premium business model - despite concerns about the number of free users and the low royalties that element pays - because why would you rock the boat this side of an IPO?

Whatever the rights and wrongs, the revision of 19's lawsuit means yet another of the big talking points in the artist and management community could get discussed in court. And with the same lawyer who won for the Marvin Gaye family in the aforementioned 'Blurred Lines' legal battle with Pharrell Williams batting for the Idols so, yes, good times.

Meanwhile, for an explanation of how those streaming deals are structured, check out this CMU trends piece here.

Sound recording copyright term now 70 years in Canada
So that was quick wasn't it? The sound recording copyright term in Canada is now 70 years after release, like in Europe. As previously reported, the Canadian government's Economic Action Plan published in April announced that Canadian copyright law would be amended to bring the sound recording term in line with Europe. And that new law has now been given royal assent.

Recordings previously had 50 years of copyright protection in Canada, but legislators there have followed the lead of the European Union in pushing that up to 70, despite opposition from various quarters, with some critics arguing that copyright terms are, in the main, too long already and shouldn't get any longer.

Welcoming the development, Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada, said yesterday: "In extending the term of copyright in recorded music, Prime Minister Harper and the government of Canada have demonstrated a real understanding of music's importance to the Canadian economy. Thank you. We are thrilled to see Canada brought in line with the international standard of 70 years".

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Diddy responds to arrest for kettleball assault
A rep for Sean 'Diddy' Combs has commented on his arrest earlier this week after an altercation with a football coach at UCLA. As previously reported, the hip hopper was charged with three counts of assault after a run in with his son's American football coach, Combs being accused of using a kettleball as a weapon.

But speaking for Diddy, Nathalie Moar said reporting of the incident had been "wholly inaccurate", adding: "What we can say now is that any actions taken by Mr Combs were solely defensive in nature to protect himself and his son. We are confident that once the true facts are revealed, the case will be dismissed".

So now you know.

Vessels sign to Just Isn't Music
Longtime CMU favourites Vessels have signed a new publishing deal with Ninja Tune's Just Isn't Music.

Say the band: "We're buzzing to be working with JIM and really looking forward to our future together. Ninja Tune has played such a big part in all of our musical lives for so long that it's a great honour to be working with their publishing house".

Just Isn't Music's David O'Bryan adds: "Just Isn't Music are delighted to sign Vessels. I've been a massive fan of them for years now, since first hearing their always incredible techno cover versions, and have followed them closely as they've released an incredible album and become a live act to be reckoned with. We're all excited to be part of this continuing journey with them and look forward to working closely together".

If you would like to see Vessels' impressive live techno show (you would), they've just announced a new show at XOYO in London on 21 Oct.

Spotify buys analytics firm
"You can never have too much data", that's what Jesus said. I think. So praise be to the Lord that Spotify has bought itself another stats business, bringing a team of twenty number crunchers to the party.

Seed Scientific previously worked for various clients, including the United Nations, and, interestingly, Beats Music, offering "data discovery, collection, science and visualisation services". But following the deal only Spotify will get access to the Seed Scientific team's data skills.

Confirming the acquisition, the data firm said in a statement: "Seed Scientific's team and technology will now become the foundation of a new advanced analytics unit at Spotify that combines cutting-edge math, science, design and engineering to craft insights, models and tools with data. Seed Scientific's founder and CEO, Adam Bly, will head up this new unit, based in New York City".

The there mentioned Bly added: "Seed Scientific was founded to advance 'scientific thinking' in the world using data. Today, our algorithms, insights and applications are beneath the surface of major brands, NGOs and governments. We are thrilled to now be joining forces with Spotify - a pioneer in shaping culture with data - to create the leading advanced analytics organisation in the world".

Speaking for the streamers, Spotify's analytics dude Henrik Landgren added: "Adam and the entire team at Seed Scientific blew us away with their insights around data and analytics, and how to apply those insights to solve real world problems for clients. We are incredibly excited to welcome Seed Scientific to Spotify as we continue to build a world class analytics team that will allow us to accelerate our plan to leverage data and insights throughout the entire organisation".

Resident Advisor launches listings app
Electronic music website Resident Advisor has launched its first app which aims to do what Songkick and Bandsintown do for gigs, but for club nights and dance music events.

Which Songkick and Bandsintown might well argue they sort of do already, but Resident Advisor will be tapping into to its existing database of clubbing and dance music events, and reaching out to its existing community of clubbers and electronic music fans. Or, as RA co-founder Paul Clement says: "No other events app is entirely optimised for electronic music. The RA Guide is specifically built for our world".

Explaining the app project in more detail, the site's other co-founder Nick Sabine explains: "Millions of music fans already come to RA every month to discover new music, artists and events. We wanted to develop a product that enhanced that experience by combining RA's extensive artist tour date data with important user information, like favourite artists and location, to deliver each user an entirely personalised app so they can find the world's best parties".

Go see.

  Approved: Death Team
Where do you even start with Death Team? The duo apparently met at Spotify's Stockholm HQ while performing with different projects. Although neither has much memory of that initial meeting, they nonetheless ended up trying to work together. Initial attempts at punk floundered, which possibly explains their first single 'Fucking Bitches In The Hood', its aggression somewhat diminished by the nursery rhyme delivery and rock n roll piano.

They describe the sound that has been gradually forming over the course of a number of releases as 'Abba meets Eminem', but that doesn't quite do it. I don't think either of those acts would perform a song about being free "like a dolphin". Nor would they turn their websites into a headache-inducing 90s-style compendium of information about dolphins.

Their latest track, 'So Fresh', actually the b-side to 'Dolphin Style, which was released last month, is another strangely infectious piece of music that should by rights just be annoying. "With 'So Fresh' we wanted to make the perfect Death Team summer anthem", they say of the track. "Adding things we love like ice-cream, cruising around in a top down car and listening to hip hop in the sunset. We want to dedicate this song to all our fans and haters: We love you!"

Well, there you go, Death Team fans and haters, this is for you.
CLICK HERE to read and share online
 

Def Leppard guitarist able to join tour despite cancer treatment
A spokesman for Def Leppard has confirmed that guitarist Vivian Campbell will be able to join the band on upcoming gig dates, after finding a treatment programme that won't require him to stand down from live performance commitments.

As previously reported, Campbell was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma back in 2013, and has had various bouts of treatment since then. For a time it looked like the latest round of treatment would force the guitarist to sit out the band's current tour, but an alternative approach was proposed by his doctors.

Campbell wrote on Facebook earlier this week: "So, so happy to report that I've dodged the bullet of radiation. I was due to start a course that would have sidelined me for most of the first leg of the US tour, but my brilliant doctors have steered me towards an alternative course of treatment that will enable me to rejoin the tour".

Brian Wilson cancels UK tour, says 2016 European shows will be his last
Brian Wilson has cancelled his upcoming UK tour dates, and announced that a European tour to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds' will be his last.

A statement on the musician's website does not disclose a reason for the cancellation of the September shows. And although it was described as a postponement, ticketholders are nonetheless advised to seek refunds.

A comment from Wilson himself says: "I'm sorry I won't be able to make these shows this year, but I look forward to seeing all my fans in 2016 to help me celebrate 50 years of 'Pet Sounds'. This will be my final European tour... I'll see you all soon. Best, Brian".

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Stewart Lee to curate ATP festival
Stewart Lee has been announced as the curator of next year's ATP festival, which the comedian says will require attendees to bring "bucket, spade, swimwear and an open mind".

As previously reported, earlier this year ATP announced plans to revive its holiday camp festivals, despite hosting its 'last ever' such shows back in 2013. With a new site at Prestatyn Pontins in North Wales, the first will be a Nightmare Before Christmas weekend at the end of November, with the Lee-curated bash to follow next April.

Commenting on his appointment, Lee said: "Of all the ATPs I've attended, the 2001 weekend, when Tortoise curated it and laid American free jazz, European improv noise, alternative country rock, alienating stand-up comedy, ambient electronica, 80s hardcore, 70s CBGBs nostalgia, smart-arse post punk, Dutch anarcho-jazz and all manner of unexpected cross-currents on curious young people, remains a pivotal point in my musical education. It's a great honour to be allowed to attempt something similar. Bring bucket, spade, swimwear and an open mind".

It's alright, you've still got time to pack. This will all take place on 15-17 Apr next year.

Apple Music gubbins, Mogwai rarities, Tom Morello workings and more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Pharrell Williams will seemingly be the first pop man to have an exclusive track streaming out of Apple's new music service next week, or so this tweeted clip suggests. There's a free year's Apple Music subscription to the first person to work out what pop song he's ripped off this time. Though don't worry, Taylor Swift will still get royalties during the free year. Oh, and look, it's an Apple Music ad. Boom.

• To celebrate their 20th anniversary (aside from the Roundhouse residency) Mogwai are releasing a three CD or 6 LP boxset featuring rarities and career highlights. It'll be called 'Central Belters' and is out on 9 Oct. Here's a new video for old track 'Helicon 1' to mark the announcement.

• Rage Against The Machine and Bruce Springsteen guitarist Tom Morello says he's working on a "big solo rock" album.

• Nick Jonas will play an album launch show at the Islington Academy on 17 Jul. He has an album coming out, you see.

• Petite Noir has announced UK tour dates for September, following the 11 Sep release of his debut album. There'll be a London show at The Lexington on 15 Sep.

• Missy Elliott is headlining the Sunday night at Bestival this year. Exciting.

Trump responds to Young over track spat
So Donald Trump has finally shot back at Neil Young. As you'll remember, the singer hit out at the billionaire businessman when Trump used Young's song 'Rockin In The Free World' while announcing he was entering the race to become the Republican Party candidate in the next presidential election Stateside.

As previously reported, reps for Young quickly put out a statement insisting they hadn't cleared the song for use at the Trump event (it wouldn't need clearing providing the launch venue had a blanket licence from the US collecting societies) and that the singer was a supporter of Bernie Sanders for president of the USA.

Young then wrote himself: "I am glad that so many people with varying beliefs get enjoyment from my music, even if they don't share my beliefs. But had I been asked to allow my music to be used for a candidate - I would have said no. I am Canadian and I don't vote in the United States, but more importantly I don't like the current political system in the USA and some other countries".

Responding, Trump took to the tweets yesterday to call the musician a hypocrite, because "a few months ago Neil Young came to my office looking for $$ on an audio deal and called me last week to go to his concert. Wow ... total hypocrite".

Young had already admitted that he approached Trump about investing in his Pono music service in his aforementioned post. And the photo of the two men together, which Trump posted yesterday to prove to "non-believers" that the meeting had indeed occurred, was already doing the rounds last week.

But whatever, it doesn't really matter because, says Trump, he used various songs at his launch event and, as for 'Rockin In The Free World'... "Didn't love it 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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CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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