FRIDAY 18 DECEMBER 2015
TODAY'S TOP STORY: In a year when safe harbours were a big topic of discussion in music circles, a US court case that got underway relatively quietly just over twelve months ago could have just set an important precedent regarding the obligations of tech companies - and especially internet service providers - in helping rights owners tackle online piracy. As much previously reported... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: Every day this week in the CMU Approved slot, we've been looking at one of our five favourite artists of 2015. Concluding our list, it's Grimes... When you're waiting for an artist to follow up a critically successful album, there are a few markers that all might not be well in the studio. For example, taking a lot longer than expected, scrapping months' worth... [READ MORE]
 
BEEF OF THE WEEK: Yes, it's that time of year again. We've hit the festive season, where everyone's being so happy and nice to each other that there's no possibility of filling this column with a new story of anger and slurs. Shush, you. That is a fact. No one is angry at Christmas. And so, it just leaves me to spend my last Beef Of The Week column of 2015 looking back at the year of musical disputes... [READ MORE]
 
CMU PODCAST: In the final CMU Podcast of the year, CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review both the week and the year in music and the music business, including the Copyright Royalty Board ruling in the US and Spotify's latest hire, plus the key developments and stories, and artists and releases, from 2015. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [LISTEN HERE]
TOP STORIES BMG awarded $25 million in potentially landmark case on US safe harbours
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LEGAL Rita Ora sues for release from Roc Nation contract
Film pirates jailed in another round of hard sentencing for prolific file-sharers
Wu-Tang single-copy album buyer Martin Shkreli arrested for fraud
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LIVE BUSINESS Songkick secures more finance, seeks to grow anti-tout business
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MARKETING & PR Listen Up appoints two Heads Of Press
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MEDIA Universal Music owner buys online radio technology firm
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ARTIST NEWS New New Order members comment on Old New Order member
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ONE LINERS Tim Hecker, Apple, Channel 4's Future Sounds, more
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AND FINALLY... CMU Beef Of The Week #287: The Year In Beefs
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Click JUMP to skip direct to a section of this email or ONLINE to read and share stories on the CMU website (JUMP option may not work in all email readers). For regular updates from Team CMU follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr.
 
 
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We are looking for a highly motivated and creative individual to be the Press Officer for an exciting venue re-launch in London.
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WARP - HEAD OF RETAIL MARKETING (LONDON)
Warp require an experienced person to lead promotions and marketing at physical retail and distribution, as well as the broad array of digital download and streaming services. This is a senior role in our sales and marketing team and you will be responsible for creating and implementing innovative retail focused sales and marketing campaigns, across new releases and catalogue, both in the UK and internationally.

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CONVERGENCE FESTIVAL - MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR (LONDON)
Taking place at multiple venues over 10-20 March 2016 Convergence is a celebration of music pioneers, visual artists and technologists. This role is required to implement Convergence 2016 marketing plan as set by the festival’s Marketing Director.

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MARKETING MANAGER (MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL) (LONDON)
You will join a small, young and energetic team of events organisers to take over the delivery of the festival marketing strategy. Your skills and expertise will be used to build on our previous success and support the festival growth with increased ticket sales and a strengthening brand profile.

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BASCA - MEMBER EVENTS/MARKETING CO-ORDINATOR (LONDON)
The British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers & Authors is seeking a Member Events And Marketing Co-ordinator.

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ROCKFEEDBACK - HEAD OF MARKETING & EDITORIAL (LONDON)
A crucial role at the RFB, this is a role for an ideally experienced person in the music industry, working with the Head Booker and full team on liaising with Booking Agents, Managers and the wider industry on constructing and actioning marketing plans and creative marketing ideas.

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ROCKFEEDBACK - ASSISTANT BOOKER / EVENTS CO-ORDINATOR (LONDON)
We are hiring for a fantastic entry level position for someone looking to become fully employed in the live music industry. The role will be working directly with the Head Booker on the booking of new talent and bringing new acts into the fold, forging new relationships with industry - agents / managers / artists. Watching a wealth of new acts and looking to work closely with new music.

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The Production Manager role at B-Line Festival Bars is an exciting opportunity for a person with the right experience and career interests to work on a number of major outdoor music festivals and brand activations through primarily the provision of public bars.

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We are looking for a bright, energetic warehouse manager with plenty of enthusiasm to supervise our warehouse operation. The role could suit someone with existing warehouse experience, but also someone with a music retail background.

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A guide to upcoming events from and involving CMU, including seminars, masterclasses and conference sessions from CMU Insights and workshops from CMU:DIY, plus other events where CMU journalists are speaking or moderating.
 
18 Jan 2016 CMU Insights Seminars: How The Music Business Works Programme
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18 Jan 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Making Money From Music
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25 Jan 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: How Music Rights Work
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1 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: How Music Licensing Works
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8 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: The Music Rights Sector
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10 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Masterclass: Key Developments In Music Rights
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15 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: The Live Sector, Brand Partnerships & Fan Services
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22 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fanbase - Social Media Tools
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29 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fanbase - Music Media
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6 Mar 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fan-Orientated Business
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6 May 2016 CMU Insights @ Canadian Music Week 2016
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19-20 May 2016 CMU Insights @ The Great Escape 2016
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BMG awarded $25 million in potentially landmark case on US safe harbours
In a year when safe harbours were a big topic of discussion in music circles, a US court case that got underway relatively quietly just over twelve months ago could have just set an important precedent regarding the obligations of tech companies - and especially internet service providers - in helping rights owners tackle online piracy.

As much previously reported, BMG and Round Hill Music both sued US net firm Cox Communications last December. The music rights companies argued that Cox - which is not part of the Copyright Alert System scheme that involves most other major ISPs Stateside - was failing to deal with correspondence from their anti-piracy agent Rightscorp alerting them to customers on its network who were infringing BMG and Round Hill copyrights. That, the music firms claimed, meant that Cox itself should be held liable for the infringement.

Various legal technicalities were explored as the case went through the motions, with Cox insisting that it was fulfilling all of its obligations under US copyright law, while questioning the tactics and approach of Rightscorp, which the ISP liked to portray as a "copyright troll" that scared suspected file-sharers into paying fines without necessarily having sufficient evidence that any infringement had taken place. The fact that Rightscorp has been criticised for its tactics elsewhere aided this line of argument from Cox.

But last month, as the case was finally getting ready to be properly heard in court, the judge overseeing the proceedings made a significant and slightly surprising pre-trial summary judgement that pretty much blew most of Cox's defence out of the water.

He said that BMG (at this point Round Hill was removed from the litigation) had sufficiently demonstrated that Cox had a deliberately slack approach to dealing with suspected infringers, so that it could keep selling those people internet services. In a subsequent expansion on his summary judgement, judge Liam O'Grady referenced emails sent between Cox employees that backed up that claim.

All of this meant that Cox could not rely on the safe harbours of US copyright law, which say that tech firms cannot be held liable for the infringement of their customers providing they have some measures in place to assist rights owners who identify people using the tech firm's software or services to infringe.

With that summary judgement made, things weren't looking good for Cox as the case went to court earlier this month. Meaning it was no real surprise that the jury hearing the case yesterday ruled that Cox was indeed liable for wilful contributory infringement by deliberately turning a blind eye to its customers accessing and sharing unlicensed content, even when made aware of it by BMG. Cox did manage to fight off claims that it was also liable for vicarious infringement, though it was nevertheless very much the loser in this case.

The jury then awarded BMG $25 million in damages. Given that Rightscorp said it had detected 1.8 million instances of infringement on Cox's network, involving over 150,000 copyright works, and with 1397 specific BMG-controlled works listed as part of the lawsuit, actually those damages are relatively low. The maximum allowed under US law would have topped $200 million. But it is still a significant cost for a company which seemed pretty bullish that it could kick this action out of the court when BMG first went legal.

Cox - which is also in dispute with its insurance firm over who should cover the costs of this legal battle - will likely appeal O'Grady's earlier decision on safe harbours. But even so, this ruling is likely to make net firms and tech companies in the US a little more wary of their obligations under copyright law, with the safe harbours on which they rely having been defined a little more precisely in this case that in past disputes.

Rita Ora sues for release from Roc Nation contract
Rita Ora is suing Roc Nation claiming violation of California's oft cited 'seven year rule' on contract terms. The singer says that her career as a recording artist has been stalled by Jay-Z's company, meaning she has released only one album since signing her record deal in 2008, despite recording several that have never seen the light of day.

She is now seeking a court judgement that her contract is unenforceable due to it passing California's seven year limit on the length of 'personal services contracts'.

"When Rita signed, Roc Nation and its senior executives were very involved with her as an artist", states the complaint, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "As Roc Nation's interests diversified, there were fewer resources available and the company suffered a revolving door of executives. Rita's remaining supporters at the label left or moved on to other activities, to the point where she no longer had a relationship with anyone at the company".

The complaint also says that she has been "hamstrung" as a result of being left with Sony distribution even after Roc Nation moved its formal relationship to Universal, leaving her in "a political quagmire of dysfunction".

In these cases, there is often a dispute over exactly what an artist is contracted for - providing their 'personal services' or the albums that result from them. Generally, labels facing this situation will counter that they are due damages on undelivered albums. However, Ora seems to be arguing that - even if Roc Nation says that - she has delivered enough albums under her deal, but the label has failed to do anything with them.

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Film pirates jailed in another round of hard sentencing for prolific file-sharers
Five men accused of being prolific online pirates, and who between them uploaded thousands of movies onto the net, have been jailed for "putting at risk" over £52 million in revenues for the film sector. Two of those jailed have received sentences over four years, continuing a recent trend of harsher penalties for online pirates.

The five men were identified by an investigation led by the Federation Against Copyright Theft, which accused the defendants of together putting over 9000 movies online without licence, resulting in around five million views of those movies. All five men ultimately pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at the start of the year, a more serious crime than copyright infringement that allows tougher jail terms.

Which is how this week two of the accused were sentenced to over four years in jail; the most prolific of the infringers getting four years six months, while another - who foolishly continued to illegally upload movies even while on bail - getting four years two months. Two of the other accused men got three years six months, while the fifth defendant received a two year suspended sentence.

Welcoming the sentencing, FACT Director General Kieron Sharp told reporters: "Today's sentencing is a great success for FACT as it marks the first time a release group has been criminally prosecuted. [The defendants] were all aware that they were engaging in criminal activity. Their actions have now cost them their liberty. The result of this case sends out a serious message to anyone engaging in online piracy to think twice or face getting caught, prosecuted and sent to prison".

Meanwhile the government's IP Minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe added: "The illegal copying and distribution of films has real consequences for the film industry and consumers. Today's sentencing shows how seriously the courts take this crime and the power of collaboration between industry, government and enforcement agencies".

Whereas most of the early legal attacks against online pirates were civil actions, the music and movie industries have been increasingly pushing for criminal action to be taken by those who run prolific piracy operations, even though those operations may be very lo-fi and not necessarily run for profit.

Rights owners have also sought tougher sentences for the pirates, either by pressing fraud rather than copyright charges, or by lobbying government to make the penalties for online copyright infringement closer to those for CD and DVD bootlegging crimes.

In the music space, the landmark case in the UK to date was the BPI's private prosecution against two men linked to the long defunct music forum Dancing Jesus. Site founder Kane Robinson and prolific uploader Richard Graham together received combined jail sentences of four years five months.

Recently Robinson - who, unlike Graham and the five men jailed this week, was more hands-off in the piracy, in that he operated the site but didn't prolifically file-share himself - spoke to Noisey about his prosecution and jail time, reckoning the record industry picked him as an easy target to set a precedent that online pirates could be sent to prison.

Robinson couldn't afford expert legal representation, and said that figures presented at the last minute by the prosecution with regards the financial impact his site had had on the record industry ensured the custodial sentence, even though a more expert legal rep would likely have disputed those figures.

Robinson's story, and his argument that he was unfairly treated by the record industry and the criminal justice system, is a very interesting read. Though, following his case, and this week's film piracy judgement, the entertainment industry will be hoping that it is now clear that, in the UK, prolific piracy online might not just result in litigation, but also prison.

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Wu-Tang single-copy album buyer Martin Shkreli arrested for fraud
Music's unexpected and largely unwanted new benefactor Martin Shkrei has been arrested for fraud. The drug company CEO is accused of misleading and defrauding investors in his previous role as a hedge fund manager.

As previously reported, Shkreli made headlines in the wider press earlier this year when he bought the rights to AIDS and cancer drug Daraprim and ramped the price up by 5000%. He subsequently made his way into the music press when artists threatened to leave punk and hardcore label Collect Records after it emerged he was bankrolling the company's sudden growth.

Earlier this month it was revealed that he was the buyer of Wu-Tang Clan's single-copy album 'Once Upon A Time In Shaolin', and this week he told HipHopDX that he was planning to pay the $2 million bail required to secure rapper Bobby Shmurda's release from prison, while he awaits trial on weapons and drugs charges.

But that was all put on hold yesterday when Shkreli himself was arrested, accused of defrauding investors in two funds and using stock from his pharmaceutical company Retrophin to hide losses. Shkreli's lawyer, Evan Greebel, has reportedly also been arrested, charged with aiding the fraud.

In a statement, the FBI said: "The charges announced today describe a securities fraud trifecta of lies, deceit, and greed. As charged, Martin Shkreli targeted investors and retained their business by making several misrepresentations and omissions about key facts of the funds he managed. He continued to lie about the success of the investments and used assets from Retrophin to payoff MSMB investors".

It continued: "In the end, Shkreli and Greebel used a series of settlement and sham consulting agreements that resulted in Retrophin and its investors suffering a loss in excess of $11 million. While the charges announced today are significant, they are but one example of what's left to come as the FBI continues this investigation".

Now that he's out on bail, perhaps the "rainy day" that Shkreli said he was saving his unique Wu-Tang album for might be here already. Following the arrest, the FBI (genuinely) confirmed that it had not seized the album.

Songkick secures more finance, seeks to grow anti-tout business
Hot on the heels from its work helping Adele keep tickets for her upcoming shows off the resale sites, Songkick has secured another $10 million in funding from Warner Music owner Access Industries which will help grow the anti-touting side of the start-up's business.

Songkick, of course, is best known for its original business of gig data and recommendations, linking users through to official ticket sellers for listed shows, and taking a commission from those sellers in return. But the firm subsequently moved into ticketing itself, initially on its own, and then in a big way earlier this year when it merged with direct-to-fan platform Crowdsurge.

The Adele project was an innovation. The firm managed pre-sales for the singer's tour, taking registrations before selling any tickets, and going to some effort to remove all the registrants that it suspected were touts looking to grab tickets to resell at a sizable mark-up on the secondary ticketing sites.

Although the venture was not without its issues - some fans reported problems with the ordering system, and that they were seeing other users' booking information - it is thought the scheme had some success in reducing the number of Adele tickets that ended up on the resale platforms. And Media Insight Consulting's Chris Carey estimated that that work could have saved UK Adele fans about £4.2 million by ensuring more tickets were sold at face value rather than with big mark-ups added by the touts.

Discussing the latest investment from Access Industries, an existing backer of CrowdSurge, Songkick founder Ian Hogarth confirmed to Venture Beat that the new finance would in no small part fund the expansion on this new anti-tout offer. "It's going to be about taking that technology and bringing it to market with other artists next year", he said.

Online touting has been a big topic of debate again this year, with some regulation of resale sites introduced in the Consumer Rights Act in the UK, but many artists and promoters want stricter rules to be introduced. Though some question how effective such rules really would be, which means that if Songkick can position itself as the expert for tackling touts through technology and other tactics - rather than the law - it could build a lucrative new revenue stream for its business.

Listen Up appoints two Heads Of Press
Music promotions firm Listen Up has announced the promotion of two of its staff members who will become joint Heads Of Press at the agency's London base, the company having also opened an LA office earlier this year. Erin Mills and Grace McCracken joined the firm in 2012 and 2014 respectively, and have been senior press officers to date.

Confirming the two promotions, Listen Up partner and Director Of Press James Mack said: "We are extremely excited to have Erin and Grace head up our artist and label department in our UK office. Their experience in their field's speaks for themselves through the results achieved for our clients over the years".

Universal Music owner buys online radio technology firm
Universal Music owner Vivendi - which is seeking to expand its interests in media and entertainment having sold of its big tel co assets - has taken a majority stake in online radio platform provider Radionomy, which owns the SHOUTcast streaming system, ad-network TargetSpot and, for fans of olden-days streaming, the Winamp player. The Dutch firm bought SHOUTcast and Winamp off of AOL back in 2014.

Vivendi has taken 64.4% of the company, with the rest of the firm's shares owned by founder Alexandre Saboundjian, its employees and Union Square Ventures. The French conglom says that its investment will help Radionomy to "capitalise on the expected evolution of the digital audio market towards targeted advertising, thanks to its technical tools and its partnerships".

The firm added: "With this investment in digital radio, Vivendi expands its presence in the value chain that flows from talent discovery to content production and distribution. Collaboration between the digital audio platform and the Vivendi businesses will be established and a number of innovative offers will be developed. Radionomy also complements the talent support programme which contributes to the Vivendi Group's sustainable development".

  Approved 2015: Grimes
Every day this week in the CMU Approved slot, we've been looking at one of our five favourite artists of 2015. Concluding our list, it's Grimes...

When you're waiting for an artist to follow up a critically successful album, there are a few markers that all might not be well in the studio. For example, taking a lot longer than expected, scrapping months' worth of work, suddenly gaining access to limitless resources when being lo-fi has always been a key attraction, and seeming attempts to attract a more mainstream audience. All boxes checked by Grimes as she worked on the follow up to 2012's 'Visions'.

It was in January 2014 that she first announced that her fourth album was pencilled in for a 9 Sep release. Then, after that date slipped, she said in an interview that she'd binned all of her work so far because it "sucked". There was also speculation that the trashed music had been more in the vein of 'Go', a song written for and rejected by Rihanna (although she has since said that this was not the case).

Meanwhile, prior to all of this, back in 2013, Grimes had signed a new management deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation, presumably opening up more funds and resources than before. Basically, it was not looking good. Yet, once that new record was finally finished, she still managed to deliver one of 2015's best albums with 'Art Angels'.

Like all of the artists in our Approved 2015 list (I have just realised), the key words for 'Art Angels' are 'experimental' and 'accessible'. It is clearly not an album recorded alone in a bedroom, like her previous efforts, and it's one that more wholeheartedly throws itself into pop. But Grimes maintains the idiosyncrasies that made her interesting in the first place amongst all of this. It's a difficult balance, with the quirks sometimes at risk of derailing the accessibility of the album (and vice versa), but she holds it together in a way that makes the journey all the more exiting.

Listen to 'Flesh Without Blood' and 'Scream'.

Also, you check out a Spotify playlist featuring (almost) all of the tracks featured in the CMU Approved column in 2015 here.
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New New Order members comment on Old New Order member
New Order's newer members Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman have spoken about being caught up in a legal battle with the band's former bassist Peter Hook.

As previously reported, Hook was recently granted permission to proceed with a lawsuit against the band's current incarnation. He claims that he has been done out of at least £2 million in royalties due to the way the band set up their business affairs when regrouping without him in 2011. His former bandmates deny this and noted in a previous statement that Hook's royalties stemming from the band's original songs and recordings catalogue are not affected by the business arrangement he is disputing.

Cunningham, who was a member of the band with Hook for five years, told Loaded: "Peter phoned me a couple of years ago, because I said something in an interview that offended him. He said: 'Look, it's all getting a bit personal, this. It's ridiculous. I've got my thing, you've got yours, and it's cool. Everyone's happy'. But that's obviously not the case. He's not happy. He decided to leave the house, and now he's outside it, chucking bricks through the window".

Hook's direct replacement Chapman added: "He's had plenty to say about me, but I've never actually met him. [If I did] I'd tell him 'I think it'd be good to support young musicians. Maybe you could wish good luck to musicians who've had a break'. I'd also tell him that it's an absolute joy and lots of fun to play in New Order, but I don't think he'd want to hear that".

Speaking about the looming court case, Cunningham said: "It saddened me a few years ago, but he's said such horrible things about Bernard and the rest of the band that it just makes me angry now. They're my friends, so it makes me more angry than sad. Things will have to play out how they play out now. It's so unfortunate".

Tim Hecker, Apple, Channel 4's Future Sounds, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• 4AD has signed Tim Hecker to a new record deal. The label will release a new album from the electronic musician next year. Hecker has also announced a show at St John At Hackney church in London on 5 May.

• Jeff Williams is now Apple's Chief Operating Officer, promoted from the tedious-sounding task of overseeing the company's supply chain. "Jeff", said CEO Tim Cook. Jeff indeed.

• Because everyone now has to have their own list of artists who may or may not be big in the next twelve months, Channel 4 has published its new Future Sounds list. On it are Alessia Cara, Aurora, Barns Courtney, Blossoms, Bonkaz, Izzy Bizu, Loyle Carner, Pretty Vicious, SG Lewis, and Tala.

Here's a new Sia track, 'Cheap Thrills'. It's one that Rihanna didn't want.

• Diplo has a new track with Sleepy Tom out. Click this link and it'll be right there.

There's a new Yann Tiersen track out. Good news, eh? It's taken from a new book of sheet music featuring ten piano pieces. Oh, and he's touring the UK in May.

• Justin Bieber has added a sixth date at the O2 Arena to the end of his 2016 tour on 29 Nov. What a nice guy.

• Lionbabe will headline Koko in London on 1 Jun. Their debut album 'Begin' will be out on 5 Feb.

• Morrissey has commented on his recent Bad Sex Award In Fiction win, telling Uruguayan newspaper El Observador: "I have many enemies who are motivated, as you know, to use my achievements against me. It is best to keep an indifferent distance [to things like this], because there are too many good things in life to allow these repulsive horrors pull you down".

CMU Beef Of The Week #287: The Year In Beefs
Yes, it's that time of year again. We've hit the festive season, where everyone's being so happy and nice to each other that there's no possibility of filling this column with a new story of anger and slurs. Shush, you. That is a fact. No one is angry at Christmas. And so, it just leaves me to spend my last Beef Of The Week column of 2015 looking back at the year of musical disputes just gone.

I think you can tell a lot about a year by the arguments people had throughout it, and this year we had some corkers. It really was a great year for people being comedically upset with each other, and I'm not sure what else we can ask for in life. So, here we go, the review of the year in beefs...

January: UKIP briefly becomes party of the music industry
The year started strong, with our first beef seeing Alcopop! Records going head-to-head with comedy fascists the United Kingdom Independent Party. In a new attempt to take the UK back to the 1950s, UKIP allowed the domain of their official website to lapse just after New Year. And in a moment of quick thinking tomfoolery, Alcopop! boss Jack Clothier bought it for himself. Sadly, plans to turn it into a website for the United Kingdom Indie Parties Party were scuppered when the domain was mysteriously returned to the ownership of the ineffectual racists.

February: Katy Perry and Madonna against nature
I'm still not sure what the Super Bowl is, but people seem to take it very seriously. And this year was considered very important because Katy Perry was going to do a turn in the middle of it. But afterwards, all people would talk about was some shark. Thankfully, this eventually led to what regular CMU readers will know is one of our favourite things: a tedious exchange of legal letters. Also big news this month was Madonna's unsuccessful battle against gravity.

March: Nice brand partnership, shame about the budget
With March comes South By Southwest, once a beacon of independent spirit, now (a bit like the Super Bowl) a shrine to consumerism. This year's big brand in town - after the Dorito's Lady Gaga vomit party the previous year - was McDonald's. The billion dollar flavourless burger pusher wanted some of those cool indie bands to play at its party, but sadly it didn't have any spare cash knocking around to pay them. This policy changed after alt-rock duo Ex Cops called the company out on its no-pay-for-artists policy. Honourable mention this month: Natalia Kills and Willy Moon.

April: The polite beef
The key to relaunching your career when you're several albums deep is to distance yourself from everyone you've ever worked with previously, preferably making them out to be sub-human haters of all decency. And to be fair, Leona Lewis gave it a good go as she launched her first album with Island Records. Her problem was that at heart she's a nice person, so qualified every veiled diss with a reminder that she loves everyone she's ever met.

May: The Zayn saga takes hold, Grooveshark makes way
By May we were getting on for two months from Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction. But it still hurt. Emotions were still running high. And Naughty Boy really wasn't helping anything. But the big beef development in the music industry that month was the major labels' triumphant defeat of the once bullish Grooveshark. Actually, it happened in April, but, fuck it, this column comes out on Fridays and does not respect immediacy.

June: Ferries, ponytails, musicals and taxis
June was a big month for beefs. A big month. And it kicked off with one of 2015's finest: Ariana Grande and her mother pitching themselves as David versus the Goliath of P&O Ferries. Even after that, June played a hard game, with Elton John pushing a security guard to tears, Deadmau5 suing a musical very loosely based on his not actual life, and - in a quite stunning turn of events - Courtney Love becoming involved in the French taxi drivers' big Uber dispute.

July: The ascendance of Taylor Swift
This month saw the first two of a quick succession of beefs involving Taylor Swift, only one of them featuring accusations of racism. She kicked off by forcing live photographers to sign agreements so restrictive that freelancers and entire publications refused to cover her tour. Then Nicki Minaj made a valid point about the MTV Video Music Awards only honouring women who fit a certain mould, and Swift tried to make it about herself. Meanwhile, it was Neil Young's turn to moan about streaming music, and that whole One Direction/Zayn Malik thing was still going on.

August: Taylor hates Apple. Or loves. Yeah, loves
Neil Young had his say, so in August it was Taylor Swift's turn to shout down streaming services. She was continuing to claim that her falling out and almost immediate making up with Apple over royalties (or lack thereof) paid during the trial period on Apple Music was a win for the little guy, rather than mainly her and Apple. Then she spent a bit of time kicking Spotify, because she would apparently prefer it if Apple maintained something close to a monopoly on digital music.

September: Racism, homophobia, lies and erotic fiction
Oh what, Taylor Swift again? Yes, although this time we were back to accusations of racism. She made a video that seemed to depict "a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa". Great work. Then Sam Smith turned out to be a massive liar, some Russian TV presenters tricked Elton John into thinking the country's president might be becoming less homophobic, and Morrissey published his Bad Sex Award winning novel.

October: Of course Mya
In October the Beef Of The Week column delved into something that may or may not now be known as 'factfic' - basically taking a tiny non-story and stretching it out to 1000 words by building it into a short story about those involved. So we had a heated meeting between Adele and Apple, and a nice little adventure with Rita Ora. And Iggy Azalea, And Miley Cyrus. And Charli XCX. And Christina Aguilera. And Lil Kim. And Pink. And Missy Elliott. And, of course, Mya. Of course Mya. Of course.

November: I am done with this industry and its bullshit
There are few certainties in the music industry, but one of them is that you'll never have to write about Sandi Thom. And fuck me, if that wasn't proven to be untrue in November. Because you should never underestimate the power of a "leave Britney alone" style video on YouTube. Also, we saw an increasing trend of Jimmy Iovine saying something completely idiotic. Oh, and Taylor Swift went to a foreign country and offended people. Again.

December: Have the taxi drivers explained themselves yet?
A short month, and one with only two proper Beef Of The Week columns. One proved that even if you can't find an actual beef, it's possible to twist anything roughly into the correct format. The other saw Drake's big 2015 defining single left out of the Grammy Awards because his label forgot about it.

 
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