TUESDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2015
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Albums sold at gigs will soon count towards the UK Official Albums Chart as a result of a new initiative called Lightning Live which will allow venue-based record sales to be chart-returned for the first time. Which is good news for artists employing the "get em while they're on a high, get em while they're drunk" approach to shifting records. Omar Maskatiya, COO at the... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: So, there I was... Just minding my own business. Listening to a bit of new music. I clicked a YouTube link and then moved away to another browser tab, expecting the track to leak down into my headphones. But then, when the song didn't immediately begin, I clicked back, wondering if I'd somehow made a mistake. Now actually watching the video, I quickly... [READ MORE]
 
CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review the week in music and the music business, including what the long-running dancing baby case tells us about takedowns and fair use, Aretha Franklin's film woes, what Nielsen's latest stats tell us about the streaming music sector, and Elton John not chatting to the Russian president. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital... [LISTEN HERE]
TOP STORIES Gig venue record sales to be included in the charts
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LEGAL Kim Dotcom extradition hearing will proceed
Turns out The Pirate Bay's servers weren't seized after all
One investigation into Cliff Richard abuse claims reportedly dropped
Prison warden faces jail over George Michael story selling
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Recent market trends confirmed in latest RIAA stats, but "fair rates" now issue number one
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LIVE BUSINESS Another law firm investigating allegations over Sillerman's aborted SFX buy-back plan
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ARTIST NEWS Snoop Dogg to launch cannabis-focussed website
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RELEASES Sleaford Mods documentary to have cinema screenings in London and Nottingham
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ONE LINERS Aurous, Ryan Adams, The Duke Spirit
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AND FINALLY... Foo Fighters were "kicked off" Emmy Awards
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Domino is hiring a Senior Publicist to join their busy in house promo team in London. The ideal applicant will have at least three years' print and online experience, have excellent writing, communication and organisational skills and an impressive list of contacts.

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THE O2 - PROGRAMMING ADMINISTRATOR (LONDON)
AEG Europe seeks a Programming Administrator to provide business support information to the Arena Programming Director, Programming Manager and members of the Senior Leadership Team, paying particular attention to the analysis of key sales information, the reporting of ticket figures and the production of venue hire contracts.

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LISTEN UP - PRESS OFFICER (LONDON)
We are hiring an experienced Press Officer to join the press team at Listen Up. The candidate will need 2-4 years' experience in a similar role with a thorough knowledge of artist and label campaigns. We are looking for an enthusiastic and articulate individual with strong writing and organisational skills.

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THE O2 - EVENT SALES CO-ORDINATOR (LONDON)
The O2 is on the lookout for a fantastic new Event Sales Co-ordinator selling a diverse range of event spaces under The O2 tent; The O2 arena, Building Six (corporate hire), American Express Invites Lounge, Green Room, The Piazza and The Quadrant.

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DOMINO - INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONS APPRENTICE (LONDON)
Domino Recording Co is seeking an International Promotions Apprentice to join the International Department based in the London office. This is an interesting and varied role that will offer a good introduction to the specific skills needed to work in promotions and international.

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IMPRESSIVE PR - SENIOR MUSIC PUBLICIST (LONDON)
We need an experienced Senior Music Publicist who knows the job, has excellent music media contacts and potential to bring in their own clients. The role is all about personality - organised, friendly, positive, "can do" attitude, great journalist contacts and being able to juggle artists promo schedules, multiple releases and generate high volumes of coverage.

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Gig venue record sales to be included in the charts
Albums sold at gigs will soon count towards the UK Official Albums Chart as a result of a new initiative called Lightning Live which will allow venue-based record sales to be chart-returned for the first time. Which is good news for artists employing the "get em while they're on a high, get em while they're drunk" approach to shifting records.

Omar Maskatiya, COO at the Official Charts Company, says that the company has developed the Lightning Live platform after "approaches from both independent and major labels, who are increasingly using live events as a route to get their products to fans and new audiences". He adds that "we strive constantly to ensure that the Official Charts reflects and responds to consumer behaviour - and this move, following just a few months after the integration of streams, further underlines this strategy".

The move is likely to be welcomed by artists and managers as well as labels, many of whom have been pushing for merch stall record sales to be counted towards the charts for years. Though, if you don't trust the merch stall manager to accurately submit his or her data, worry not, the OCC has it covered, and everything is secure.

"Lightning Live uses a simple password-protected web interface to allow live retailers to submit sales data" the chart compiling firm says, "which is then checked by Official Charts and its nominated research partner Millward Brown".

It goes on: "[Venue-based] retailers are required to submit a pre-event inventory report, along with full details of the concert, summary of capacity, tickets sold, before then submitting details of sales achieved. Millward Brown will cross-reference with existing data reports to ensure sales fall within accepted sales patterns - any suspect data will not be included in the Official Chart survey".

So no running the merch stall yourself, Mr Manager, and mysteriously selling 20,000 units at your pub gig venue on a rainy Tuesday night.

Kim Dotcom extradition hearing will proceed
So, the much delayed extradition hearing of the former management of MegaUpload got underway in New Zealand yesterday, the main development being that it didn't instantly stop. Which it could have done.

As previously reported, lawyers for MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom and his former colleagues at the long defunct file-transfer company have been busy trying to get their clients' extradition case pushed back yet again.

In particular, they argue that, because the funds seized from MegaUpload when it was shut down in 2012, some of which have since been made available to help fund Dotcom et al's defence, cannot be spent outside New Zealand, the defendants cannot hire experts in US copyright and criminal law.

This, the lawyers argue, will deny their clients a fair extradition hearing. But the prosecution argue that the extradition proceedings are a matter of New Zealand law, so the defendant's lawyers should be more than capable of providing decent defence counsel.

Attempts earlier this month to halt the extradition hearing from kicking off this week failed, with judges saying that there wasn't time to consider the lengthy arguments presented by both sides and that, anyway, it would be better to consider those arguments at the same time as the so called 'eligibility hearing', when the case for extraditing Dotcom et al itself is reviewed.

Which meant that, as that hearing got underway yesterday, most court time was focused on the so called stay applications filed by the defence in a bid to further delay the proceedings, and other discussions regarding the order in which different elements of the case should be considered.

Earlier today, judge Nevin Dawson ruled that the case should proceed as planned and that the next scheduled hearing on Thursday will therefore go ahead.

"The interlocutory applications now before the court" said the judge, according to NBR, "are such that they would best be heard and considered by the court during the eligibility hearing as they are largely contextual in nature. The court would be better placed to rule on these applications, having had the benefit of hearing the evidence of the eligibility hearing".

So that's fun. Meanwhile, Dotcom was allowed to bring his own chair into court for "ergonomic reasons" as the proceedings got underway, so that the controversial digital entrepreneur's back is protected even his mind explodes amidst the tedious legal debate that is now expected to unfold as the extradition hearing goes through the motions.

The MegaUpload men are, of course, accused of racketeering, money laundering and rampant copyright infringement by the US authorities in relation to their former business, which was shut down by the feds over three years ago.

Much of the wrangling around the case to date has focused on legal technicalities, though there was some talk of the core copyright infringement allegations on Monday, with a reminder that the Mega men's main defence is 'safe harbours'. Meaning that, while the criminal case against Dotcom et al has moved along at a snail's pace, the legal issue at the heart of the proceedings remain very timely for the music industry.

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Turns out The Pirate Bay's servers weren't seized after all
Remember when The Pirate Bay went offline for two months after Swedish authorities seized the always controversial file-sharing site's servers?

So, turns out that never actually happened. Well, the site did go offline for nearly two months, you didn't dream that. But, say the people currently running the site, only one of their servers was ever seized, and much of the subsequent downtime was precautionary and about refining the service's back-end operations.

This is according to key TPB overseers who have spoken to Torrentfreak. They say that the headline grabbing server raid that preceding the Bay going offline last December didn't actually affect any of their servers, with the authorities - deliberately or by mistake - taking machines hosting another piracy operation called EZTV.

However, a Pirate Bay moderator was arrested at the same time, and one server used by the piracy service was taken by the authorities at another location, which contained a platform through which the file-sharing site's moderators communicated. It was a fear that other moderators could now be targeted by the authorities that led to the whole of The Pirate Bay going offline.

With the authorities themselves issuing relatively little information about the raid and arrest last year, it's hard to know exactly what went down. Though it did seem odd at the time that one server raid could knock the whole Pirate Bay offline, given the people behind the site had made much in the preceding years about how cloud hosting and other refinements in the way the service works had made it "raid proof".

Says Torrentfreak regarding why it then took two months for the Bay to get back online: "The TPB team feared that the locations of the servers could have been compromised as well and prepared to move everything over to new cloud hosting providers. Relocating the site proved to be harder than initially anticipated though. In fact, technical challenges were one of the main reasons for the long downtime".

Those running the piracy site say they have waited this long to explain what went down late last year because they wanted to be certain that their operations hadn't been "compromised" by the authorities' actions.

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One investigation into Cliff Richard abuse claims reportedly dropped
Police have reportedly dropped one of their three investigations into allegations of child abuse against Cliff Richard. A source claims to The Times that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

As previously reported, police searched Richard's Berkshire home in August last year, following accusations of abuse of a boy under the age of sixteen in the 1980s. The singer now lives in Portugal, but returned to the UK to be questioned by police about what he said were "completely false" allegations.

There was also a sideshow to all this of course, when police accused the BBC of acting improperly by turning up with a van full of cameras to film the raid on the singer's home. But Director General Tony Hall said that the broadcaster had "acted appropriately", and later a government select committee agreed that it had reported the event "perfectly properly".

Further allegations were added to the police's investigations in February this year, with Richard saying at the time: "The police have not disclosed details to me. I have never, in my life, assaulted anyone and I remain confident that the truth will prevail. I have co-operated fully with the police, and will, of course, continue to do so".

Speaking to The Times last week, someone claiming to be a friend of Richard's said: "Cliff has given police evidence that he was never on his own on the days when the alleged attacks took place". These apparent alibis have, they added, led to one of the three investigations being dropped. However, police say that they will not "be providing a running commentary on the investigation", adding that inquiries are ongoing.

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Prison warden faces jail over George Michael story selling
A former prison officer has been told that a prison sentence is "inevitable" after she was found guilty of selling information about George Michael's 2010 jail stint to The Sun.

Amanda Watts pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in public office. She sold information to The Sun for which she was paid £2100, and which led to five stories appearing in the tabloid. She was bailed pending sentencing next month.

The BBC reports that judge John Bevan told her: "You should understand the fact I'm bailing you until [16 Oct] to enable you to make appropriate arrangements. A prison sentence is inevitable. I'm sure you understand".

As previously reported, Michael spent four weeks in jail in 2010 after crashing his car into a branch of Snappy Snaps while high on cannabis. Initially sent to Pentonville Prison, he was later moved to Highpoint Prison, which is where Watts was then working.

He claimed at the time that tabloid stories published as a result, it turns out, of the prison officer's information, were "bollocks".

Recent market trends confirmed in latest RIAA stats, but "fair rates" now issue number one
With record industry trade bodies seemingly more stat happy than ever, putting out figures here, there and everywhere, there is little doubt that - with just a few regional exceptions - the key trend in recorded music remains: CDs down a little, downloads down a lot, streaming income booming. Oh, and let's have a little bit of vinyl revival thrown in there for good measure.

The latest figures from the US record industry back all that up. Summarising the latest stats from the Recording Industry Association Of America, the boss of America's Music Business Association of music sellers, James Donio, noted yesterday: "​It is extremely encouraging to see that overall wholesale revenues are on the upswing, with an increase of 0.8% in the first half of 2015. Streaming revenue has offset losses in digital download revenue by growing 23% to $1.03 billion, topping that milestone for the first time and accounting for about a third of all industry revenue".

Donio also notes that vinyl, up another 52% in the US so far this year, now accounts for 30% of physical shipments Stateside, though that possibly tells you more about how much CDs have slumped in this market. But "look at how we've diversified" remains a key message from the record industry, with the MBA chief adding: "RIAA's findings perfectly illustrate an industry that is now able to successfully generate revenue from a plethora of sources, both digital and physical, that cater to the broad spectrum of music fans".

Meanwhile, over at the RIAA itself, boss man Cary Sherman told reporters: "The data continues to reflect the story of a business undergoing an enormous transition. There are many positive signs: continuing the trend from 2014, wholesale revenues for the first half of 2015 increased. And revenues from streaming music services continue to grow at a healthy double digit rate. The product of music and the extraordinary roster of artists represented by today's music labels remains in high demand. That is the bedrock of a successful future".

Perhaps the most interesting element of the various packs of stats being pumped out by the music industry these days is that the sign-off statement has now changed. A few years ago the standard line from the record industry's trade groups was "we're doing fine thanks, except piracy, oh piracy, we're all going to be killed by piracy, hey Mr Government, get off your fat arse and do something about fucking piracy".

However, yesterday Sherman rounded off his group's latest figures with the industry's new standard sign-off line. "Intense demand and billions of streams does not always equal fair market rates or a fair playing field. Addressing that is an essential element of fulfilling the enormous promise of today's digital marketplace".

The problem now, see, isn't all the illegal sites, but those legal or legal-status-to-be-defined services which, for one reason or another, are getting preferential rates. Globally that means YouTube and SoundCloud, and their exploitation of those bloody safe harbours.

In the US it also means Pandora, which gets access to recordings under a compulsory licence with rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board, rates the hugely popular US personalised radio service is always trying to push down.

Yesterday, as the RIAA pushed out its latest stats, Pandora got the all clear to present the direct deal it made with indie labels digital agency Merlin in the current Copyright Royalty Board review of the rates it pays under the compulsory licence.

Pandora is expected to use the Merlin deal in its argument for lower royalty payments across the board, even though that arrangement was more complex than that, providing marketing kickbacks that would be redundant if applied across the board. What the CRB does later this year when considering this latest review remains to be seen, though give the firm's share price bounced up yesterday, investors seem hopeful Pandora could get what it wants.

Meanwhile, the record industry will continue to lobby, in the US and beyond, for more control over the rates it receives from those services that have gained considerable competitive advantage by utilising elements of copyright law that provide, one way or another, a preferential deal.

Another law firm investigating allegations over Sillerman's aborted SFX buy-back plan
An LA legal firm says it is investigating whether SFX violated federal securities law when the EDM powerhouse's founder Robert FX Sillerman aborted plans to take the company back into private ownership. This follows the news that a New York-based legal firm is plotting a class action lawsuit against the company based on similar allegations.

Glancy Prongay & Murray LLP says it is looking into claims made against SFX on behalf of some of the EDM company's investors. It is assessing allegations that "the company made materially false and misleading statements in connection with the proposed acquisition of SFX by Robert FX Sillerman, SFX's CEO and largest shareholder, for all of the outstanding common stock he did not already own".

As previously reported, last month Sillerman admitted that he couldn't raise the finance to buy back all the SFX shares he doesn't currently control, the firm's slumping share price having made his original offer to other investors somewhat unrealistic.

Carefully adding in the word "allegedly" several times while announcing its investigation, the law firm says it will consider claims that "Sillerman failed to disclose that he allegedly did not have any financing in place at the time he made his proposal and knew, or recklessly disregarded, that he could not obtain the financing to complete the transaction".

"Mr Sillerman's proposal was allegedly a sham offer to increase the value of the company's shares, in the fact of the company's increasing debt and decreasing margins", it goes on. "Following the news that Mr Sillerman would no longer consider purchasing the company, shares of SFX have declined sharply in value".

If any of these allegations were true, investors who bought into the festival promoter and Beatport owner after Sillerman's buy-back plans were announced would likely have the strongest case against the firm and its founder. Whether any serious investors will take full-on legal action remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, as previously reported, SFX has secured $90 million in new financing, which it hopes will provide short term security while the company's board considers future options re ownership, including an anticipated new proposal from Sillerman himself.

  Approved: Fort Lean - Cut To The Chase
So, there I was... Just minding my own business. Listening to a bit of new music. I clicked a YouTube link and then moved away to another browser tab, expecting the track to leak down into my headphones. But then, when the song didn't immediately begin, I clicked back, wondering if I'd somehow made a mistake.

Now actually watching the video, I quickly picked up on the concept. "That's quite a nice concept for a music video", I thought. Then there was a nice switch from live to pre-recorded sound. "This is a nice little video this band have got here", I noted quietly to myself. "And I quite like the song that has just properly kicked in, too", I mused on.

I glanced away again, but had cause to look back a few seconds later. Something had happened. Exactly what, I'm still not entirely sure, but it made this one of the more memorable music videos I've seen in some time.

But before I direct you to all that, I should also tell you that Fort Lean have just released a new EP called 'New Hobbies' and it's a very enjoyable four track collection of upbeat guitar pop. You'll hear a bit of one of the tracks on it - 'Cut To The Chase' - on the video.

PS: If you're one of those Americans they have now, you can watch part two of this story here.
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Snoop Dogg to launch cannabis-focussed website
Snoop Dogg has announced that he will launch a "premier media platform at the intersection of cannabis and pop culture" next month. I know, at last.

Actually, the company, called Merry Jane, seems to have quite a serious intent, extolling the virtues of cannabis for both medical and recreational use. In a video published on the platform's YouTube channel earlier this month, Snoop talked up the positive effects of legalised cannabis in Colorado, including job creation, reduced crime and increased tax revenues.

Now speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, the Guardian reports, the rapper said: "After watching where the cannabis industry is headed, I wanted to create a platform that will take this movement further by creating a destination where people could find fresh content. Merry Jane is a game-changing platform for pop culture. It's a new frontier y'all!"

The actual website is not yet live, but has published a video from what will become a regular feature. Titled 'Deflowered', the series looks at innovations in cannabis culture. The first interviews two former soldiers who explain how medical marijuana helped them after returning home from active service.

Watch the video here.

Sleaford Mods documentary to have cinema screenings in London and Nottingham
Sleaford Mods documentary 'Invisible Britain' will be premiered at London's Doc N Roll film festival on 3 Oct. A second cinema screening will then take place in the band's hometown of Nottingham the following week.

Directed by Nathan Hannawin and Paul Sng, the film combines standard band documentary elements - live footage and interviews with the band and their fans - with an examination of the effect government austerity is having on individuals and communities in Britain, and how people are fighting back.

You can catch the film at the Picturehouse Central in London on 3 Oct, and at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham on 10 Oct. There will be Q&As after both screenings, with Sleaford Mods frontman Jason Williamson appearing at the Nottingham event.

Watch a trailer for the film here.

Aurous, Ryan Adams, The Duke Spirit

Other notable announcements and developments today...

In-development BitTorrent-powered streaming service Aurous has cancelled its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo after it gained some "unwanted attention". The launch of the desktop software will apparently go ahead as planned, without the mobile version the company was raising money for.

• Ryan Adams has released his re-recording of Taylor Swift's '1989' album. Ironically, it is available on both YouTube and Spotify.

• Having released one new track earlier this month, The Duke Spirit have now announced the first single proper from their fourth album, 'Kin', which is due for release next year. Listen to 'Blue & Yellow Light' here.

Foo Fighters were "kicked off" Emmy Awards
A Foo Fighters performance at Sunday night's Emmy Awards was pulled, after a dispute with broadcaster Fox, the band say. As a result, they did not attend the event, despite the band being nominated for two awards for their documentary series 'Sonic Highways'.

Speaking to TMZ, Dave Grohl said: "We were supposed to play on the Emmys, and we were gonna play on the Emmys, and then they kicked us off. I can't tell you [why], do your research, but they did".

TMZ didn't accept the challenge to get researching, but Rolling Stone did. Though the magazine's website did its research by, er, speaking to Dave Grohl. Well, speaking to a spokesperson for the Foo Fighters, anyway. It's possible Dave Grohl does his own PR under an assumed name. Look, let's just all agree that this segue hasn't really worked and look at the statement instead.

"The band and the [award organisers] were extremely happy and excited to have Foo Fighters play as the first ever rock band on the Emmys", someone or other told Rolling Stone. "Fox then refused to allow the band to play a full song from the Emmy-winning 'Sonic Highways'. That is why the band decided not to perform".

Clever use of "Emmy-winning 'Sonic Highways'" there. The show didn't actually win in either of the two categories for which it was nominated. But, noted Grohl while speaking to TMZ, "We won two Emmys last [time] ... so we've got two of them".

Asked if he'd consider playing the awards ceremony next year, despite the falling out with Fox, he said: "I'll do anything". Something to bear in mind there, if you need someone to play your village fete at short notice.

 
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.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
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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.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
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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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