TODAY'S TOP STORY: When Sony Music's original American contract with Spotify leaked in May, all eyes fell on the big advances paid by the streaming service to the major. The big upfront payments are recoupable for Spotify, so that per-play royalties are deducted from the advance. If all the per-play royalties due in any one year come to less than the advance already paid, Sony gets to pocket... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Having taken a mini-break from her band The Shapes to write the brilliant, brain-tickling score to Jonathan Glazer's creepy ET film 'Under The Skin', animatronic pop maker Micachu, aka Mica Levi, is this week back in the frame with news of a third Shapes LP. The follow-on to 2012's ace 'Never', 'Good Sad Happy Bad' began as a happy accident, when the band's resident... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Sony Music on Spotify equity issue: no obligation to ensure "greatest yields" for artists
LEGAL Musicians group sues Sony over Michael Jackson film
Phil Rudd given eight months home detention over death threat charge
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Facebook planning audio as well as video-based music service
Online mastering service Landr raises new investment
GIGS & FESTIVALS Marina And The Diamonds announces tour dates
Tove Styrke announces UK tour dates
AWARDS Mercury Prize to return to the BBC
Commercial Radio Awards presented, woo!
ONE LINERS Blur's ice cream on sale, coming to the UK, new Young Thug video, and more
AND FINALLY... Donut licker Ariana Grande apologises for hating America
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Sony Music on Spotify equity issue: no obligation to ensure "greatest yields" for artists
When Sony Music's original American contract with Spotify leaked in May, all eyes fell on the big advances paid by the streaming service to the major.

The big upfront payments are recoupable for Spotify, so that per-play royalties are deducted from the advance. If all the per-play royalties due in any one year come to less than the advance already paid, Sony gets to pocket the difference. But does the record company share that extra cash - often referred to as 'breakage' - with its artists?

Well, that time around Sony, and subsequently Universal, was quick to come to the table in consolatory mood shouting "of course we share breakage with our artists, hey artists, have some breakage, never seen it on your royalty statement, don't worry, we've got your back, here, have some breakage, have all this breakage, we'll put it in a bag for you, eat it, drink it, love it". I mean I'm paraphrasing slightly, but that was the basic gist.

But what about the equity Sony and the other majors received in Spotify, which could be worth big bucks if and when the streaming service is sold? Will they share the profit in that with their artists? And did they agree to lower per-play royalties, which definitely have to be shared with talent, in return for equity and other kickbacks, which arguably do not?

As previously reported, 19 Entertainment, which owns the 'American Idol' format and still reps many of the finalists from the series, recently added the Spotify equity issue to its ongoing dispute with Sony over the various record contracts the major struck up with former American Idols.

19's lawyers, in a recent legal filing, said that the majors had "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".

Sony's response to 19's latest moanings was unsealed yesterday, and this time the major isn't being so consolatory. There's no "don't worry, we've got your back, you'll get your share" this time. Instead it's a rather frank "we don't have to structure our business deals to ensure the best pay out for artists, so you can all fuck off". Again, I'm paraphrasing. But only just.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Sony court submission says that it's not obliged to "structure its affairs in whatever way yields the greatest royalties for 19", and that there is nothing in its contracts with 19-repped artists that stops it from acting "on its own interests in a way that may incidentally lessen the other party's anticipated fruits from the contract".

This response isn't especially surprising. Artist contracts usually state that labels are only due to pay royalties to talent on income that is directly linked to specific recordings on which the artists feature. And it's long been expected that said clauses would be cited if the majors were challenged to share income from selling any equity in a Spotify type company.

A similar argument could, in theory, have been used in the big breakage debate, though perhaps the labels feel that unallocated advances are more closely linked to the usage of specific recordings than lump sums generated by equity sales and other kickbacks.

Sony's new submission also cites legal precedent in the US regarding what happens to big bucks legal settlements with piracy services like LimeWire, which have a parallel to the Spotify equity issue in terms of whether income is shared with artists, and are actually a separate gripe dealt with by 19's lawsuit. Says Sony: "Because no royalty provision required Sony Music Entertainment to share settlement revenue recovered 'on a general or label basis', SME was free 'to retain the full amount of any settlements such suits yield".

As for the allegation Sony accepted less favourable ongoing terms from Spotify in return for upfront benefits, the major says that there is nothing to suggest it ever agreed to below-market rates from any streaming service, before reaffirming that it's standard to negotiate up and down different elements of income from a streaming deal - so this strand goes down because this one goes up - and that the major is free to do so, even if 19 and their clients ultimately lose out because of the way any one deal is structured.

19's latest claims are "futile" the Sony submission concludes, and should not be added to the ongoing litigation. And so the squabble continues.

Musicians group sues Sony over Michael Jackson film
If you're a collector of Sony Music lawsuits, here's another one for the pot. The American Federation Of Musicians is suing the major for allegedly breaking past agreements reached between the record company and the union.

At the heart of the case is the allegation that Sony hired AFM-allied musicians to work on the soundtrack for the posthumous Michael Jackson film 'This Is It', but did so under the record industry's agreement with the union that covers audio recordings, not motion picture soundtracks. The distinction is important because it impacts on the residual income the musicians receive from their work on the project.

AFM International President Ray Hair explains: "A fan may wonder what difference it makes if musicians record music under one contract versus another, but it makes a huge difference to musicians trying to earn a living. Musicians have joined together to create industry standards and it is simply unacceptable for greedy corporations to knowingly violate those standards by denying residuals".

Other disputes are covered in the lawsuit relating to covers and samples of Michael Jackson records, with Hair concluding: "We did not want to go to court, but Sony repeatedly refused to do the right thing and pay the musicians fairly".

Sony Music is yet to respond.


Phil Rudd given eight months home detention over death threat charge
Former (still, I think) AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has been sentenced to eight months home detention after pleading guilty to threatening to kill a man and drug possession. But at least he'll be able to stream his own records via his streaming service of choice while confined to his house in New Zealand.

As previously reported, Rudd was arrested last November and was originally accused of attempting to hire a hitman, before the charges were reduced to simply making threats against another man. The drummer originally pleaded not guilty, but then changed his plea in April, admitting that a dispute over the promotion of Rudd's solo album had got out of hand.

The threatening to kill charge could have resulted in up to seven years in jail, but the judge at Tauranga District Court instead opted for both a significantly less dramatic term and house arrest rather than prison. Though the drummer will also have to stick to a drug and alcohol rehab programme, and could still face jail if he fails to do so.

Rudd's lawyer had pushed for no restrictions to be placed on his client, saying the drummer hoped to rejoin his band, and being limited to his home would prevent this and cost him millions in possible income. But the judge said that was not a convincing argument; anyway there was no sign Rudd's AC/DC bandmates wanted him back on tour; and he wasn't too integral to the band because, after all, "Queen replaced Freddie Mercury".

Which I think means Rudd's sentence is all Adam Lambert's fault.

Facebook planning audio as well as video-based music service
Following the rumours last week that Facebook was busy chatting to the major record companies about launching a music service, sources have now told Music Ally a little more about the social network's musical plans, which previously seemed at best vague.

As expected, Facebook's move into music will initially be based around video, the social media firm having been moving into YouTube's territory for sometime now. It's thought Facebook is looking to match its Google-owned rival on music video content, so to allow both users and rights owners to upload pop promos, with a Content ID style system - probably bought in - to allow labels and publishers to manage and monetise their music.

Facebook is also likely to pitch a royalty system similar to YouTube, though the labels will hope that, once up and running, there might be the option to increase those rates, particularly if the social network's market-leading targeted-advertising system can be used to increase ad rates, in which rights owners share.

Labels might also be hoping that if there's a second music video platform on the same scale as YouTube in terms of reach and marketing value, then that might strengthen their negotiating hand with the Google company too.

Despite indications last week that Facebook's talks with the labels were still at an early stage, Music Ally's sources say the music video offer could actually go live in the next few months. And more than that, the social network sees a move into music vids as just part one of its musical plan, with an audio streaming service to be added within the Facebook ecosystem down the line. So again, following YouTube's lead, though Facebook might actually take its audio service out of beta one day.

Given Facebook's big pockets and past mega-bucks acquisition of tech start ups, this has led to much speculation that the social media firm might simply buy an existing streaming service, with even Spotify being mooted as a possible purchase. Though Music Ally's sources say the current plan is to build something in-house.

That would make sense if the audio streams needed to work within the Facebook site and app, which they probably would, meaning the tech side would need to be built bespoke. Given label licensing deals with streaming services normally have to be renegotiated after a big acquisition, the only other reasons for buying an existing streaming player would be brand or user-base, but Facebook already has both of those very much in place, especially if the focus of the audio set-up was ad-funded freemium.

So, still much to find out. Though at least this means that when Apple Music falls on its arse and turns out to be the most expensive ever launch of an online radio station, the music rights industry can switch to saying "aha, there's still Facebook, it'll be alright in he end, you'll see!"


Online mastering service Landr raises new investment
The company behind online mastering service Landr - previously MixGenius, and now rebranded in line with its main product - has confirmed it has just closed a funding round, bringing in $6.2 million to further grow the service, which has apparently mastered more tracks than all the US music studios put together since launching last year.

Based on machine-learning technology, the company's Justin Evans told CMU last year: "Landr is an online mastering studio that benchmarks extremely well with professional mastering studios at a fraction of the cost; so we make it accessible for people to get really professional sound at a very low cost. You take your stereo output from your recording, and drag and drop it onto our website, which uploads it to our cloud server. Our server then analyses it, understands what the appropriate mastering is for the track, and applies a bunch of processors".

Among those joining the latest funding round are a number of venture capital and private equity outfits, Warner Music, Cirque Du Soleil founders Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier, and QueensBridge Venture Partners, which counts a certain Nas amongst its partners.

Confirming his support for the Landr business, the rapper told reporters: "Technology has allowed for more creators to be birthed. More and more music is being made but certain parts of the process don't have consumer tools to help make fine and crisp finishes. I believe Landr is an affordable groundbreaking technology to help musicians make music that has a quality finish like any major label artist with a budget. I'm excited to help the Landr team take their technology global".

  Approved: Micachu & The Shapes - Oh Baby
Having taken a mini-break from her band The Shapes to write the brilliant, brain-tickling score to Jonathan Glazer's creepy ET film 'Under The Skin', animatronic pop maker Micachu, aka Mica Levi, is this week back in the frame with news of a third Shapes LP.

The follow-on to 2012's ace 'Never', 'Good Sad Happy Bad' began as a happy accident, when the band's resident sneak/rhythm section Marc Bell secretly started taping an improvised Shapes 'jam sesh'. From that base, Mica picked the parts with the most potential to mix into final songs, writing all the lyrics to the LP "non-stop in one avalanche". It catches the band at "the most free we have been", adds Levi.

'Good Sad Happy Bad' is being released via Rough Trade on 11 Sep, a date the band will inch their way to via a stream of live shows nationwide, the first on 15 Jul at Glasgow's own Broadcast.

Meanwhile here is 'GSHB' lead track 'Oh Baby', a scribbly yet sweet love song with hidden teeth, which sounds - in a good way - like it's coming from inside a bin. If that appeals, take a quick listen now.
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Marina And The Diamonds announces tour dates
Marina And The Diamonds has announced a tour in support of her very good third album 'Froot'. Have you listened to that album yet? I hope you have. Go and listen to it now. As I said, it is very good.

The shows will begin in November and come to a close in December with a show at the London Palladium. Fancy!

Here are the dates:

20 Nov: Cambridge, Corn Exchange
21 Nov: Bournemouth, Academy
23 Nov: Manchester, Ritz
24 Nov: Newcastle, Academy
25 Nov: Glasgow, ABC
27 Nov: Birmingham, Institute
28 Nov: Cardiff, Great Hall
1 Dec: Belfast, Limelight
3 Dec: Dublin, Academy
6 Dec: London, Palladium

I know you're already listening to the album now, but here's the video for 'Immortal'.


Tove Styrke announces UK tour dates
Tove Styrke is coming to the UK to play some live shows. Which seems like a pretty good reason to visit these fair isles. A portion of the songs she will play will come from her new album 'Kiddo'. What the ratio between songs from her first and second albums will be I don't know. Probably most from the new one, I'd guess.

Anyway, here are the dates where you will be able to find out:

28 Sep: Manchester, Sound Control
29 Sep: Brighton, Patterns
30 Sep: London, Scala
1 Oct: Bristol, Start The Bus
2 Oct: Birmingham, The Rainbow (The Cellar)

Tickets go on sale tomorrow. And Styrke's new single 'Number One' goes on sale on 14 Aug. But here's the video right now.

Mercury Prize to return to the BBC
The Mercury Prize is heading back to the BBC after a three year stint with Channel 4. Mercury bosses decided that Team C4 smell funny, wear unpleasant trousers and are a little bit racist. Possibly.

Under the new deal the annual album of the year award will be covered via the BBC's radio, TV and digital platforms, so, full marks for multi-media nonsense. Though there'll be no big awards show it seems. Presumably after winning the Beef Of The Week accolade last year, there was nowhere left for the Mercury awards bash to go.

This year the shortlist announcement will be made on BBC Radio 6 Music on 16 Oct, with the overall winner revealed on both the radio station and the BBC Four TV channel on 20 Nov. There will also be a series of studio sessions from shortlisted artists. Oh, and the BPI is getting more involved. And Lauren Laverne is still doing stuff. Did we say that already?

Now, a lot of quotes accompanied this announcement. Here are all five of them. The overall winning quote will be announced at a ceremony next month. To book your table, please send £4000 to CMU and we'll tell you all the details later. We're not backing away from big over-priced award shows. Promise.

Dan Ford, Mercury Prize Managing Director: "The announcement of this extensive BBC partnership and support from the BPI and the wider music community is an exciting first step in the development of a new long-term vision for the Mercury Prize that will help to ensure and extend its relevance to a new generation of music fans for years to come. As the Prize approaches its landmark 25th anniversary, it is increasingly important that we work with broadcast partners and music organisations that share our passion for the award's values in order to help us achieve the broadest possible reach and profile".

Bob Shennan, Director of BBC Music: "From burgeoning new talent to global superstars, BBC Music celebrates and supports British music on every scale and form, so a partnership with the esteemed Mercury Prize is a natural and exciting fit. Our programming will reflect the diversity of the Prize and will feature performances and interviews from the twelve shortlisted acts".

Lauren Laverne: "I have a long history with the Mercury Prize and couldn't be happier to be involved with it in 2015 as it returns to the BBC as a part of BBC Music. It's a fantastic celebration of Britain's vibrant, diverse music scene".

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive: "The Mercury Prize is an important part of our cultural landscape, recognising and celebrating the finest British and Irish albums released every year, regardless of genre, fashion or commercial success - it's the Man Booker or Turner Prize for music. The BPI is passionate about supporting new British music, and having helped to establish the Prize in 1992, we're delighted to be working with the Mercury Prize team alongside BBC Music and the wider music community to help develop its long-term future".

David Wilkinson, Mercury Prize Chairman: "We welcome this opportunity to work with the BBC to broaden engagement with the Prize whilst ensuring that its editorial independence and integrity remains at the heart of its ethos. The eclecticism and excellence the Prize has come to represent is key to its future development as an important platform for British and Irish new music talent".

It's going to be a tough choice for our 'best quotage' judges, I think you'll agree. Though no tougher than the challenge facing the actual Mercury judging panel, who will have to choose from twelve contenders. Speaking of which, today is the day that submissions start being accepted from artists and labels who reckon they have a record that should contend. So if you've got an album you think might be in with a chance, probably enter it, I'd say.


Commercial Radio Awards presented, woo!
It was only the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards last night and do you know what, awards were presented! What a concept. And thank the holy Lord in the sky that little Eddie Sheeran and big Sammy Smith are finally getting some props.

Have a winners list on me...

Presenter Of The Year (under 2m TSA): Trev & Caroline, 106 Jack FM Oxfordshire
Presenter Of The Year (over 2m TSA): Nick Ferrari, LBC
Journalist Of The Year (Ali Booker Memorial Award): Tom Swarbrick, LBC
Programmer Of The Year: Andy Roberts, Kiss
Unsung Hero Of The Year: Pat Broome, Smooth North West

Station Of The Year (under 500,000 TSA): Radio Borders
Station Of The Year (500,000, 2m TSA): Metro Radio
Station Of The Year (2m + TSA): LBC

Breakfast Show Of The Year (under 2m TSA): Big John @ Breakfast, Hallam FM
Breakfast Show Of The Year (over 2m TSA): Sam & Amy, Gem 106
Single Programme or Broadcast Of The Year: The Clarke Carlisle Story, Absolute Radio
Specialist Programme Of The Year: Rock n Roll Football, Absolute Radio
Feature Of The Year: Lady Week, Heart Sussex
News Coverage Of The Year: BOB fm Hertfordshire News Team, BOB fm

Social Action Initiative: Cycle4Life Challenge, Viking FM
Station Imaging Award: Kiss FM UK
Innovation Of The Year: Bin Weevils Partnership, Fun Kids
Marketing Award: Girl Band: The Piccadillys, Key 103

Local Sales Team Of The Year: Radio Clyde
National Sales Award: Go Think Big, Bauer Media
Advertiser Of The Year: IKEA
Media Agency Of The Year: Carat

Breakthrough UK Artist Of The Year: Sam Smith
Most Played UK Artist on Commercial Radio: Ed Sheeran

The Arqiva Gold Award: Christian O'Connell, Absolute Radio
Lifetime Achievement Award: Richard Wheatley & Jazz FM

Blur's ice cream on sale, coming to the UK, new Young Thug video, and more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Blur's limited edition 'Magic Whip' ice cream is now available in Co-operative stores. Purchasers will also be rewarded with a free download of a previously unreleased Blur track, 'Y'All Doomed'. More details here.

• Young Thug has released a video for 'With That' from his 'Barter 6' mixtape.

Approved J-pop group will physically release their second album 'WWDD' through JPU Records in the UK on 7 Aug. They will also perform at the Hyper Japan Festival under the O2 dome on Saturday and Sunday. Here's the video for 'Bari3 Revolution'.

• Metz have announced UK tour dates in October and November, which will include a show at The Scala in London on 1 Nov.

• A Swedish pensions company has recreated The KLF's '3am Eternal' video. FACT does some head-scratching over here.

Donut licker Ariana Grande apologises for hating America
I think Ariana Grande's response to what no one is calling 'The Donut Shop Incident' tells us a lot about what a fucking weird place America is. She feels a necessity to explain a clearly overblown, for-effect claim to "hate America", but not even mention the fact that she licked a donut she had no intention of buying.

If you've not been following this major development in world news, TMZ earlier this week published security camera footage from a donut shop in California. It shows the singer lick a donut on display as she waits with friends to be served. Then, when a member of staff appears with a tray containing yet more donuts, she looks at them and says, 'What the fuck is that?" before announcing, "I hate Americans. I hate America".

The latter part of this, Grande explained in a statement last night, was a comment on the obesity rate in the US. And had she known she was being filmed, she would have made that point more clearly.

"I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I've always made it clear that I love my country", she said in a statement. "What I said in a private moment with my friend Ryann, who was buying the donuts, was taken out of context and I and sorry for not using more discretion in my words".

Did people really take what she said 100% at face value? Did it really upset people that much that she has to explicitly state that she doesn't actually want everyone in the United States to fall into the sea? I know patriotism is a thing in the US, but come on. This seems unnecessary. I mean, she didn't apologise when she (allegedly) wished all of her fans dead, did she?

Having also mentioned that her words were taken out of context, she then felt the need to explain - at length - what she actually meant. "As an advocate for healthy eating, food is very important to me" she wrote. "And I sometimes get upset by how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences that it has on our health and society as a whole".

Yes, though I get more upset at how freely some Americans lick donuts that they don't intend to buy. Anyway, she continues: "The fact that the United States has one of the highest child obesity rates in the world frustrates me. We need to do more to educate our children about the dangers of overeating and the poison that we put into our bodies. We need to demand more from our food industry".

Valid points. Though I would also argue that we need to do more to educate people on when and where it is appropriate to lick food. She concludes: "However, I should have known better in how I expressed myself; and with my new responsibility to others as a public figure I will strive to be better ... Let me once again apologise if I have offended anyone with my poor choice of worlds".

As well as all that, she added that she was forced to miss a show because she needed emergency oral surgery. Ew! You mean you licked a donut with a sick mouth, Ariana? I hate Americans.

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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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, plus helps manage and deliver the CMU Insights training courses and consultancy services.
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Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
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