WEDNESDAY 6 JANUARY 2016
Welcome to the first CMU Daily of 2016 - Happy New Year and all that jazz. This edition includes some of the key stories published on the CMU website over the festive period as well as today's main developments. Once you've read all that, if you're still trying to put off work, why not read our trends article on the industry's key digital challenges, sign up for a masterclass, or be thrilled one more time?
   
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Well, 2015 was a jolly fine year for the UK record industry, apparently, so we'll have no moaning this year at all, OK? It's official. 2016 is going to be the first moan-free year in music since Napster. I mean, even Napster had a good 2015. And not the Napster whose 'good years' meant bad years. New Napster. Which, as one of the oldest legit digital services still operational... [READ MORE]
 
TODAY'S APPROVED: CMU has a general policy that all band reunions should be considered bad. Because they all are. Without exception. Name a good band reunion. You can't. Because there aren't any. But I thought it would be nice to start 2016 on a more positive and less typically cynical note. And so here we are writing about a reunion in the bloody Approved column. Though technically... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES 2015 was a good year for UK music. And not just Adele. Though mainly Adele.
It's 2015's UK best sellers
JUMP | ONLINE
LEGAL David Lowery's lawyer says Spotify's 'bad-data' line is "the worst excuse in the world"
US Copyright Office announces review of safe harbours
Songkick sues Live Nation over anti-trust claims
MegaUpload founder uses 'Christmas address' to summarise his many grievances with the US
Northern Ireland police arrest suspected Adele and Bieber ticket fraudster
JUMP | ONLINE
DEALS Pandora becomes best mates with BMI an ASCAP, new deals announced
JUMP | ONLINE
LABELS & PUBLISHERS German private copy deal results in Apple device price hike
JUMP | ONLINE
LIVE BUSINESS James Barton not heading to SFX, as EDM firm ends Spotify and TMWRK alliances
JUMP | ONLINE
EDUCATION & EVENTS Spotify's mechanical rights problem to be explained at upcoming CMU Insights masterclass
JUMP | ONLINE
AND FINALLY... Original Guns N Roses members reunite
JUMP | ONLINE
 
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.
 
 
SIX07 PRESS - SENIOR PRESS CONSULTANT (LONDON)
Six07 Press is looking for an experienced music PR to join us as a Senior Press Consultant. It is vital that applicants have two to three years’ experience in national UK print PR, as well as online PR campaign management. We are looking for someone who is self-motivated, flexible and has initiative.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
HOSPITAL RECORDS - HEAD OF PUBLISHING (LONDON)
Hospital Records are hiring a Head Of Publishing for their in-house department, Songs In The Key Of Knife. Based in our South London office, we are looking for someone with 12-18 months minimum publishing experience to administrate all aspects of our catalogue worldwide.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
KINC - MUSIC MARKETING COORDINATOR (LONDON)
KINC is a communications agency that specialises in music, sports and entertainment. We have an exciting new role that has become available working across all of our music clients. It is a full time role in Islington, London starting in February 2016.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
NEW CROSS INN - LIVE BOOKINGS MANAGER (LONDON)
As a member of our live events team you will be responsible for the booking, programming and promotion of our live music calendar alongside the current events manager. You will have experience booking and contracting live acts and will have a strong network of contacts to draw on.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
MANNERS MCDADE - COPYRIGHT & ROYALTIES MANAGER (LONDON)
We are an independent music publisher based in Central London, specialising in indie-classical and electronic music. We also manage the rights of the media composers managed by our sister company, Manners McDade Artist Management. Due to expansion we are recruiting an experienced Copyright & Royalties Manager to work with our International catalogue.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
THE COLUMBO GROUP - PRESS OFFICER (LONDON)
We are looking for a highly motivated and creative individual to be the Press Officer for an exciting venue re-launch in London. The ideal candidate will have at least a year's experience in the PR industry, with a passion for nightlife, music and food, and a keen eye for detail. We are looking for someone who has the ability to deliver excellent press coverage, offer fresh ideas for our communications strategies and thrive under a heavy work load.

For more information including a full job description and how to apply click here.
   
 
CMU Jobs is a proven way to recruit the best music business talent for roles across the industry at all levels, from graduate to senior management. To book an ad contact Sam on 020 7099 9060 or email ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
 
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
CLICK FOR INFO
18 Jan 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Making Money From Music
CLICK FOR INFO
20 Jan 2016 CMU:DIY x Urban Development Industry Takeover Seminar
CLICK FOR INFO
25 Jan 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: How Music Rights Work
CLICK FOR INFO
1 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: How Music Licensing Works
CLICK FOR INFO
8 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: The Music Rights Sector
CLICK FOR INFO
10 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Masterclass: Key Developments In Music Rights
CLICK FOR INFO
15 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: The Live Sector, Brand Partnerships & Fan Services
CLICK FOR INFO
22 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fanbase - Social Media Tools
CLICK FOR INFO
29 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fanbase - Music Media
CLICK FOR INFO
6 Mar 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fan-Orientated Business
CLICK FOR INFO
6 May 2016 CMU Insights @ Canadian Music Week 2016
CLICK FOR INFO
19-20 May 2016 CMU Insights @ The Great Escape 2016
CLICK FOR INFO
 

2015 was a good year for UK music. And not just Adele. Though mainly Adele.
Well, 2015 was a jolly fine year for the UK record industry, apparently, so we'll have no moaning this year at all, OK? It's official. 2016 is going to be the first moan-free year in music since Napster.

I mean, even Napster had a good 2015. And not the Napster whose 'good years' meant bad years. New Napster. Which, as one of the oldest legit digital services still operational, is hardly new. But I mean not old Napster. Not dead Napster. I mean Undead Napster.

Anyway, no moaning. Not even about YouTube. OK, you can moan about YouTube. But only if - and probably when - Google's evil lobbyists win the Battle Of Safe Harbours in both the US and Europe.

But anyway, back to the good news. Whether you prefer your year-end stats in terms of revenue or consumption, the record industry's figures were up for 2015, according to data released today by the Official Charts Company, record industry trade group the BPI and the Entertainment Retailers Association.

According to the BPI's maths, music consumption was up nearly 4% in 2015 when compared with 2014, and this despite downloads still being down loads, which is a gag that's still working, so that's a bit of good news right there. The number of albums downloaded was down from 30 million to 26 million, while singles sales - which are almost exclusively digital - were down 15%, from 156 million to 133 million.

But this is all about the good news, right? So here goes. Streaming continued to boom, up 82% in terms of volume, while CD sales slipped a relatively modest 3.9% and the vinyl revival marched on, with the 2.1 million vinyl albums sold - a 21 year high.

For top line revenues, we can look at ERA's figures. It reports that the retail value of physical music products was down just 0.5% overall in 2015 at £514.5 million. And while download revenues fell 13.2% from £338.1 million to £293.4 million, streaming income shot up again, up 49.7% from £167.7 million to £251 million. Overall the retail value of recorded music was up 3.5% to nearly £1.1 billion.

It means that digital revenues are now out-performing physical sales quite significantly in the UK, though CDs and vinyl are still a key revenue stream, even if the profit margin on that revenue is considerably less.

Which is to say, while the recorded music market in the UK is now predominantly digital, plastic disks are still an important part of the mix. And don't you go forgetting it, just because you're utterly confused about who exactly is buying all these CDs (we're going to answer that question at The Great Escape in May, by the way).

In terms of best-sellers, well, duh, it was all about Adele wasn't it? And unlike second and third placed Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, she didn't cheat by releasing her best-selling album in 2014. Although perhaps that was cheating. Is Sheeran and Smith appearing in the year-end top three all the more impressive given that their albums were oldies for much of 2015? I don't know. But hey, didn't they all do well?

Indeed, Adele had the best selling home entertainment product of the year, out-performing top gaming release 'FIFA 16' and best-selling DVD 'Paddington'. In 2014, poor old Eddie Sheeran, with his best-selling LP of the year, languished behind the top DVD and gaming releases in the big end of year list. So well done Adele. But just imagine, if instead of a silly album, XL Recordings had put out a game based on an Adele movie. What a missed opportunity!

Anyway, that's enough stats for now I think. Oh, except that seven of the top ten best selling albums of 2015 in the UK came from homegrown artists. So British music fans are still a bit racist. Which is good news for the domestic industry. So, remember, no moaning. Unless you're foreign. You can moan. But only about YouTube.

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It's 2015's UK best sellers
Charts? For the end of the year? For albums? For vinyl? For streams? For all home entertainment product lines? Well, why the hell not?

Top Ten Albums of 2015 (compiled by Official Charts Company)
1. Adele - 25 (Beggars/XL)
2. Ed Sheeran - X (Warner/Atlantic)
3. Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour (Universal/Capitol)
4. Elvis Presley - If I Can Dream (Sony)
5. Justin Bieber - Purpose (Universal/Def Jam)
6. Taylor Swift - 1989 (Universal/Big Machine)
7. Jess Glynne - I Cry When I Laugh (Warner/Atlantic)
8. James Bay - Chaos And The Calm (Universal/Virgin EMI)
9. Coldplay - A Head Full Of Dreams (Warner/Parlophone)
10. George Ezra - Wanted on Voyage (Sony/Columbia)

Top Ten Vinyl Albums of 2015 (compiled by Official Charts Company)
1. Adele - 25 (Beggars/XL)
2. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black (Universal/Island)
3. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (Sony/Silvertone)
4. Ed Sheeran - X (Warner/Atlantic)
5. Various Artists - Guardians Of The Galaxy Original Soundtrack (Universal/Hollywood)
6. Arctic Monkeys - AM (Domino)
7. Royal Blood - Royal Blood (Warner/Warner Bros)
8. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon (Warner/Rhino)
9. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday (Sour Mash)
10. Nirvana - Unplugged In New York (Universal/Geffen)

Top Ten Singles of 2015 (compiled by Official Charts Company)
1. Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk (Sony/Columbia)
2. OMI - Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix) (Sony/Ultra)
3. Hozier - Take Me To Church (Universal/Island)
4. Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do (Universal/Polydor)
5. Wiz Khalifa feat Charlie Puth - See You Again (Warner/Atlantic)
6. Adele - Hello (Beggars/XL)
7. Major Lazer feat Mo & DJ Snake - Lean On (Because Music)
8. James Bay - Hold Back The River (Universal/Virgin EMI)
9. Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean (Universal/Def Jam)
10. Justin Bieber - Sorry (Universal/Def Jam)

Top Ten Most Streamed Tracks of 2015 (compiled by Official Charts Company)
1. OMI - Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix) (Sony/Ultra)
2. Major Lazer feat Mo & DJ Snake - Lean On (Because Music)
3. Mark Ronson feat Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk (Sony/Columbia)
4. Justin Bieber - What Do You Mean (Universal/Def Jam)
5. Hozier - Take Me To Church (Universal/Island)
6. Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud (Warner/Atlantic)
7. Skrillex & Diplo/Justin Bieber - Where Are U Now (Warner/Mad Decent)
8. Wiz Khalifa feat Charlie Puth - See You Again (Warner/Atlantic)
9. Justin Bieber - Sorry (Universal/Def Jam)
10. James Bay - Hold Back The River (Universal/Virgin EMI)

Top Ten Most Streamed Artists of 2015 (compiled by Official Charts Company)
1. Ed Sheeran
2. Justin Bieber
3. Drake
4. The Weeknd
5. One Direction
6. Sam Smith
7. James Bay
8. Eminem
9. Years & Years
10. Calvin Harris

Top 20 Home Entertainment Releases of 2015 (compiled by the Entertainment Retailer's Association based on OCC and GfK Chart-track data)
1. Adele - 25 (Beggars/XL)
2. FIFA 16 (Electronic Arts)
3. Call Of Duty: Black Ops III (Activision Blizzard)
4. Paddington (Elevation Sales)
5. Fallout 4 (Bethesda Softworks)
6. Jurassic World (Universal Pictures)
7. The Hobbit - Battle Of The Five Armies (Warner Home Video)
8. Star Wars Battlefront (Electronic Arts)
9. Ed Sheeran - X (Warner Music)
10. Grand Theft Auto V (Take 2)

David Lowery's lawyer says Spotify's 'bad-data' line is "the worst excuse in the world"
Opinion seems divided in the music community regarding the news that musician and prominent artist rights campaigner David Lowery is suing Spotify, accusing the streaming music service of failing to pay him and other songwriters millions in mechanical royalties.

Legal representatives for Lowery insist that litigation is necessary to force the hand of Spotify, and other streaming services, when it comes to the way they license mechanical rights in the US, while labelling the digital firm's claim that the real problem is a lack of decent music data "the worst excuse in the world".

Lowery's lawsuit relates to the issue at the heart of that short-lived spat between Spotify and Victory Records last year. An on-demand stream exploits both the 'mechanical' and 'performing' right elements of a copyright. Which is important when it comes to licensing song rights, because the music publishing sector has traditionally licensed these two elements of the copyright separately.

In Europe, most publishers and collecting societies have sought to provide streaming services with licences that cover both mechanical and performing rights, but in the US copyright rules have prevented the performing right organisations from also repping mechanical rights, so the two are generally still handled through separate licences.

It is the mechanical rights where there have been issues. There is a compulsory licence covering mechanicals in the US, so streaming services don't need specific permission from a songwriter or publisher to stream their songs. However, under the compulsory licence the digital service must alert a rights owner that their music is being used, and then pay royalties at rates set by statute. Spotify, and other services, are accused of not complying with that part of the compulsory licence.

Spotify says the problem is data. With no central music copyright database, the company doesn't know who to alert and pay. Spokesman Jonathan Prince said in reaction to Lowery's lawsuit: "We are committed to paying songwriters and publishers every penny. Unfortunately, especially in the United States, the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rightsholders is often missing, wrong, or incomplete. When rightsholders are not immediately clear, we set aside the royalties we owe until we are able to confirm their identities".

Prince's colleague James Duffett-Smith, Spotify's Global Head Of Publisher Relations, announced just before Christmas plans to build a super new database to help overcome these problems. In the meantime, Prince added: "We are working closely with the National Music Publishers Association to find the best way to correctly pay the royalties we have set aside".

However, Sanford Michelman of Michelman & Robinson LLP, which is representing Lowery, is not impressed with Spotify's response. "I think it's the worst excuse in the world", Michelman told CMU. "If you see a car for sale in the street, you can't just break in and take it and then say, 'But I didn't know who was selling it'. It's the same here. Spotify has pursued a 'catch me if you can' approach to licensing, and that's a totally irresponsible business model. Spotify's statement is an admission that they knew they were intentionally violating the copyright laws designed to protect artists".

The basic argument from Lowery's side is that just because it can be hard to identify who owns and controls any one song, that doesn't mean streaming companies can ignore their obligations under the compulsory licence.

Michelman's colleague Mona Hanna told CMU: "Besides, it's just not true that the data Spotify needs simply isn't available. With the songs referenced in this case, a simple search of the USPTO database would have revealed who Spotify needed to notify. And there is a process in law to follow even when you don't have the right information. Spotify has ignored this process".

Explaining more how the compulsory licence process works, Hanna continues: "Where the information regarding the copyright owner is unavailable, or unknown, the compulsory licence can be used to legally obtain the right to distribute the music. [But the law] requires a 'notice of intent' to obtain a compulsory licence be filed with the Copyright Office and then the statutory royalties for that work to be deposited to the Copyright Office until the name of the copyright holder is identified. At which point, the royalties go to the copyright owner or his agent directly".

Sanford adds: "We don't yet know much about Spotify's planned new database, but I'm not sure that will address the problem, which is more about policy than data. From what we have heard, it sounds like the new database is merely a more efficient way to violate the law, rather than to cure the violation of taking artists' works without their permission".

The lawyers concede that Spotify is not the only streaming company with a mechanical rights problem in the US, and they hope this case will set a wider precedent.

"We have focused on Spotify because of its size and scale", says Sanford. "We hope this action will make others comply with the law as well. Our message is that everyone must comply. And if you enter this market anew, you can't build market share simply by ignoring your obligations under copyright law. We cannot, and should not forget, that the underlying issue here is that the artists pour their heart and souls into their work and Spotify is taking it without permission to do so and making money off of it. That's just wrong".

Lowery's lawsuit is a class action, which means, if successful, it would benefit other songwriters who believe Spotify owes them mechanical royalties. "We have artists from all over reaching out to us about this case", Sandford says, "telling us that this has been a key concern of theirs for some time now, and that they are grateful that David Lowery is doing something about it at last. We've had a lot of contact from across the industry and the support is tremendous".

That said, as we noted, the music community is divided on this issue, with even some artists and songwriters siding with Spotify. Those on that side of the fence argue that Spotify has actually done more than any other digital service to try to overcome licensing complexities and database issues to ensure the right labels, publishers, artists and songwriters are paid.

In a blog post about Lowery's litigation, digital music consultant Sammy Andrews - until recently also Head Of Digital at Cooking Vinyl - calls on the music industry, which has long discussed the need for better music data, to finally rise to the challenge in 2016, and work with the streaming sector to produce the publicly accessible global music rights database everyone agrees is needed.

Andrews writes: "It actually saddens me that, of all the digital service providers he could have chosen to go after, he's going after one that actually recognises [the need for a music rights database] and is actively trying to build one. I've seen a lot of people on social networks posting in support of the lawsuit without any comment on why this occurred. Read past the headlines and actually think about why this happens! If Spotify are found to be at fault here, every DSP will be guilty of this without exception. But I believe the fundamental fault here lies with us, the industry, not the service, and we have a collective responsibility to sort this out".

Back at Michelman & Robinson LLP, Hanna agrees to an extent, saying that "in my opinion, the long term solution requires all the parties to come to the table to discuss an equitable arrangement. I'm not necessarily saying what that solution should be, but it must be fair to all parties. And that means artists and songwriters as well as labels, publishers and distributors".

However, she and Sandford insist that, whatever data issues there may have been, and whatever data solutions Spotify or the industry may come up with in the coming year, the core allegation of Lowery's lawsuit still stands: ie the claim that the streaming service has simply not complied with its obligations under the US compulsory licence. And if a service wants to exploit the mechanical rights of songs in America, they add, those obligations must be met.

"We hope Spotify will do the corporately responsible thing and come forward and fix its business model", says Sanford. "We believe that their recent statements are basically an admission of liability. If we can address this matter out of court, it could take less than a year to settle. I do want to stress that this is a watershed moment, so to speak, for Spotify. If they truly care about doing the right thing, then they will resolve this matter and set the standard for the rest of the industry. They have an opportunity to be a good corporate citizen".

But settling the case won't be as simple as speedily handing over any unpaid mechanical royalties. Sanford concludes: "I don't think Spotify can just say, 'Oh, sorry, we forgot to pay you', and then hand over what it unilaterally believes it owes. It has enriched its balance sheet by ignoring its legal obligations, and no company should get away with that. A clear message needs to be sent to new businesses operating in this space, that legal obligations must be met from the off. So yes, we will be pursuing damages for our client in this case, but more importantly, to protect the artists and the industry".

For a guide to how digital services are licensed check this free trends article, or the 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' report produced by CMU Insights for the UK's Music Managers Forum.

Premium CMU subscribers can also check this review of the music industry's data challenges, while Bruno Guez of Revelator discusses the same in this free to access interview here.

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US Copyright Office announces review of safe harbours
At the end of a year in which 'safe harbours' have consistently topped the agenda of the music industry's lobbyists, the US Copyright Office announced a review of 'section 512', which contains the safe harbours in American copyright law.

As much previously reported, the safe harbours provide protection to technology companies whose servers or networks inadvertently assist in the distribution of unlicensed content. Providing that distribution is the result of user or automated activity, and providing there is a 'takedown system' for rights owners, the tech firm cannot be held liable for copyright infringement.

Safe harbours have been a talking point in the music community over the last year because of increased frustration over set-ups like YouTube, which rely on safe harbour protection to operate 'opt-out' rather than 'opt-in' streaming services. This, music rights owners complain, gives the likes of YouTube an unfair advantage at the negotiating table, which means opt-out services get preferential rates resulting in a 'value gap' in the wider digital music market.

The music industry doesn't want to axe safe harbours outright, recognising that such a move would be totally impractical. But record labels and music publishers want safe harbour rules to be revised, so that a service like YouTube could no longer rely on protection, and would therefore need to ensure content was kept off its platform until a rights owner opted-in.

To date, most attention has been put on similar provisions that exist in European law, because the European Commission has been reviewing copyright rules as part of its Digital Single Market initiative all year. But an announcement by the US Copyright Office yesterday means that there will now be an opportunity for the music industry to argue its case on safe harbours in America too.

The office said that its review would cover "the general operation of section 512's safe harbour provisions, the processes for issuing takedown notices and counter notifications, and the legal standards that apply under the statute". The Copyright Office is inviting submissions from interested parties, the deadline for which is 21 Mar, with public meetings then planned to further discuss the issues.

The tech lobby - led by the likes of Google and Facebook - is likely to fight hard against any restriction of the safe harbours, in Europe or the US. Though after a year of shouting about the safe harbour problem with increased volume, the music industry will welcome the opportunity to formally present its arguments in the jurisdiction where many of the web giants exploiting safe harbours are based.

To read more on why the music industry has made 'safe harbours' its top lobbying issue this year, read this free CMU trends article on the topic.

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Songkick sues Live Nation over anti-trust claims
If you are still disappointed that the big PRS v SoundCloud case is now never going to get to court, well, this new legal battle is a fine alternative, even if it is coming from a different strand of the music industry.

Gig recommendation service Songkick is suing Live Nation over allegations that the live music giant has been exploiting its monopoly power to keep competition out of the market place, especially when it comes to the pre-sale of tickets to concerts to an artist's online fanbase.

Live Nation, of course, is a major player concert promoter and venue owner, has a significant artist management business, and through Ticketmaster is a big deal in ticketing, including pre-release, primary and secondary ticket sales.

Although best known for its data and recommendations service, Songkick has been steadily moving into the ticketing game itself, in particular via its merger last year with direct-to-fan platform Crowdsurge, and more recently by overseeing the pre-sales on Adele's upcoming shows, with a focus on stopping those tickets going to the touts.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Songkick's lawsuit alleges that Live Nation has held at least some of the artists it works with to ransom over their allocation of tickets for pre-sale promotions, by adding service charges to those tickets and threatening to withhold the act's entire allocation if they don't agree to pay those extra fees.

This makes it less attractive - or viable, even - for artists to work with the likes of Songkick, rather than Ticketmaster, on pre-sale activity. The lawsuit goes onto allege that Live Nation boss Michael Rapino has specifically told artists not to work with Songkick on pre-sales.

Despite recently securing another $10 million in finance from key backer, Warner Music owner Access Industries, this is a bold bit of litigation for Songkick to pursue, ie to go to battle with a company as well funded and so dominant in the live space as Live Nation. It will need to show that the various Live Nation businesses collude to stop artists from working with rivals in the ticketing space, and that that behaviour breaches US anti-trust laws.

It will be a case watched closely by most of Ticketmaster's rivals, and especially start-ups operating in the ticketing space. Getting access to Live Nation artists and tickets is a key challenge for any new company operating in the ticketing domain, to the extent that you often wonder if the exit strategy for most start-ups is to sell to the live music giant, which has bought up a few businesses innovating in this space.

Songkick is trying something much bolder. If it gets to court, this could be one of the legal battles to watch in 2016.

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MegaUpload founder uses 'Christmas address' to summarise his many grievances with the US
As you got busy opening all your presents on Christmas Day, MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom got busy posting a festive address onto the Torrentfreak site.

It followed a decision in the New Zealand courts last month that Dotcom and his former colleagues can be extradited to the US, where they face criminal charges of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement in relation to their former business. The festive post was a summary of the one time MegaUpload chief's many and various grievances with the US government.

Most of those grievances we already knew. The severity of the raid against him and his former colleagues as the US swooped onto MegaUpload and its management just under four years ago. And the overnight shutdown of his company and the loss of access to - and, in some cases, subsequent deleting of - data that is important to both Dotcom's defence and the former customers whose legit files were lost.

A big chunk of the address then repeats Dotcom's disagreements with the US authorities on points of law - ie whether or not MegaUpload was liable for the rampant infringement of its customers - before calling out prosecutors in America and New Zealand (although he mainly blames the Americans) for, he reckons, dodgy dealings in building and pursuing a case against him.

There's also time to repeat the claim that the US government has been preventing him from getting a fair hearing in court by insisting seized MegaUpload funds that have been returned to pay Dotcom's legal fees cannot be used to hire American legal expertise during the extradition process. Dotcom's reps tried on numerous occasions - unsuccessfully - to halt the extradition proceedings on those grounds.

As for why the US government might be making false claims, employing bad process and relying on non-existent law to drive Dotcom et al out of business, well, it's all Hollywood's fault, apparently. "If you have read all of the above you may wonder why the US government is acting so badly", he concludes. "This case is a political thriller authored and produced by the Motion Picture Association Of America and its 'senator for hire' Chris Dodd. His lobbying, calling in favours and close relationships within the White House made this unprecedented abuse of power possible".

Although it was published on Christmas day, Dotcom clearly penned the piece before last month's extradition ruling, as he ends his address with the resolution of that particular battle pending. Of course, despite last month's judgement, the extradition stage of this long saga continues because Dotcom now intends to appeal. Indeed, just before Christmas he said the judgement against him was so weak, and therefore so easy to appeal, that it was "a Christmas gift in disguise".

It remains to be seen if that confidence is justified. Although MegaUpload, and the piracy it enabled, all seems to have happened so long ago now, if this case ever gets to a US court it will be a key test of the safe harbours in US copyright law that have proven so controversial in music industry circles this last year. But if there is one thing we've learned about the MegaUpload case so far, it's that things are unlikely to happen quickly. Dotcom could well be writing another Christmas address while still sitting in limbo this time next year.

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Northern Ireland police arrest suspected Adele and Bieber ticket fraudster
Police in Northern Ireland last week made an arrest over an alleged online ticketing scam. It's claimed that an unnamed man was selling counterfeit tickets to upcoming Adele and Justin Bieber concerts, the former in Belfast and the latter in Dublin.

It is thought that the fake tickets were being advertised on listings site Gumtree, though it's not currently clear how many were sold. Police in the Northern Irish town of Strabane arrested the suspected fraudster, who was subsequently released on bail pending further enquiries.

Commenting on the investigation, Detective Inspector Lindsey Kitson told reporters: "As part of this ongoing investigation we want to ensure that we identify as many people as possible who may have been victims of this fraud".

The officer added: "We believe tickets for the Justin Bieber and Adele concerts were offered in a group of four from the Gumtree website and a subsequent face to face transaction took place involving the exchange of money for fake tickets. I want to hear from anyone who has bought tickets for these concerts from a man after seeing an offer on Gumtree".

Although more attention has been given of late to the issue of ticket touting, actual fraud also remains a problem in the ticketing domain, especially for in-demand events. The Society Of Ticket Agents & Retailers and Action Fraud recently published a report estimating that £1.3 million was lost to ticket fraud in the UK in the six months up to October last year.

Of course, the secondary ticketing websites often use the fraudsters as an argument against tighter regulation of touting, by arguing that if UK-based ticket resale sites are forced to introduce more rules, touts will switch to non-specialist listing sites, probably outside the UK, where the chances of people paying for fake tickets are higher.

Pandora becomes best mates with BMI an ASCAP, new deals announced
Pandora may be busy doing direct deals with the US music publishers - thus relying less and less on the country's collecting societies to license song rights - but it's nevertheless decided that the time has come to play nice with performing rights organisations BMI and ASCAP too. It's almost as if Pandora has plans to not be the most hated streaming service in the American music community this year.

As previously reported, until recently Pandora licensed its personalised radio service pretty much exclusively through the collective licensing system in the US. It exploited the SoundExchange compulsory licence on the recordings side, and had licences from BMI and ASCAP on the songs side, because the big publishers were told they couldn't pull their digital rights from those societies without abandoning collective licensing across the board.

Pandora got a bad rep in the music community because it invested so much time in playing the collective licensing system in a bid to cut its royalty obligations, lobbying hard the Copyright Royalty Board that sets SoundExchange rates, while fighting BMG and ASCAP in the rate courts which ultimately set fees for the song rights.

More recently Pandora has become more conciliatory, starting to opt to do direct deals with labels and publishers even if that means paying slightly more. There are various reasons for this move. A reform of US collective licensing rules will likely allow the publishers to pull digital rights from BMI and ASCAP and force Pandora into direct deals anyway, so the service is pre-empting the inevitable. But also, the digital firm's plans to launch in new territories, and to move into fully on-demand streaming, will require a more consolatory approach.

It is the latter that is presumably behind Pandora's decision to enter into voluntary agreements with BMI and ASCAP, bringing to an end the firm's 'see you in the rate courts' approach to dealing with the societies. As part of the deal, Pandora specifically agrees to not appeal the rate court ruling that actually went in BMI's favour last May.

Confirming the deals just before Christmas, the societies say that the new arrangements "create business benefits for Pandora, while modernising compensation in the US for ASCAP and BMI songwriters and publishers".

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews added: "This agreement is good news for music fans and music creators, who are the heart and soul of ASCAP, and a sign of progress in our ongoing push for improved streaming payments for songwriters, composers and music publishers that reflect the immense value of our members' creative contributions".

BMI boss Mike O'Neill commented: "We're extremely pleased to reach this deal with Pandora that benefits the songwriters, composers and publishers we are privileged to represent. Not only is our new agreement comparable to the other direct deals in the marketplace, but it also allows us to amicably conclude our lengthy rate court litigation and focus on what drives each of our businesses - the music".

And finally, Pandora chief Brian McAndrews said: "At Pandora we are delivering on our commitment to ensure that music thrives. These collaborative efforts with the leading performance rights organisations, as well as our recent direct deals with several music publishers, demonstrate our progress in working together to grow the music ecosystem".

German private copy deal results in Apple device price hike
The retail price of iPhones and iPads in Germany increased six and seven euros respectively at the start of the year as part of a recent deal over the private copy levy in the country.

As much previously reported, copyright law in many European countries provides a levy for creators and content producers to compensate for the personal private copies consumers make of their work. So, in music, that means when people make copies of CDs they legitimately bought, such private copies being allowed under most copyright systems.

Traditionally the levies were charged on blank cassettes and CD-Rs, but as music consumption has shifted to digital devices a new approach has been required. Applying the charge to portable devices, especially smartphones and tablets that have many uses beyond consuming copied music and video, has been controversial, though such levies have been applied in some countries.

The German tech industry reached a deal on private copy levies with the country's copyright owners late last year. The deal covers back payments back to 2008 on smartphones and 2012 on tablets, and will subsequently run until 2018.

Despite the settlement, most consumer electronics companies continue to oppose device levies, arguing that, as digital entertainment becomes increasingly streaming and subscription-based, fewer consumers will be making private copies of previously bought content anyway.

Apple confirmed to the Associated Press on Sunday that price increases applied to iPhones and iPads in Germany last weekend were a direct result of the private copy levy, with the six-to-seven euro fee passed directly onto the customer.

The private copy right doesn't exist in the UK, of course, even though consumers have long made copies of the CDs they buy. The government attempted to introduce the private copy exception without a levy, but the music industry successfully fought off that proposal in court, on the basis the government's plan did not comply with European copyright law.

In theory the government could have another go at introducing the exception, either with a levy, or by better arguing the case for no levy (so to comply with European rules), though the Intellectual Property Office last year confirmed this was not currently on its agenda.

James Barton not heading to SFX, as EDM firm ends Spotify and TMWRK alliances
With the future of EDM powerhouse SFX still uncertain as 2016 gets underway, the New York Post reckons that Cream founder James Barton has decided not to join the flagging dance music festival operator and Beatport owner.

As previously reported, last month the Post revealed rumours that Barton, who has been Head Of Electronic Music at Live Nation since it bought his clubbing and festival business in 2012, was considering taking a senior role at SFX.

Although it was never clear what that role would have been, it was thought that Barton may have been courted for the top job of CEO, currently occupied by SFX founder Robert FX Sillerman. Investors and money lenders have become increasingly critical of Sillerman's leadership as the company's share price slumped last year.

Sources say that Barton was interested in a new opportunity beyond Live Nation, but ultimately decided that SFX wasn't the place to go. Some sources say the flagging EDM firm couldn't meet his salary demands, while others say he was simply concerned about SFX's financial position and ongoing rumours of its impending bankruptcy.

As also previously reported, some of SFX's money lenders are now hoping that Barton's current employer, Live Nation, might swoop in and buy SFX outright. The live giant is reportedly interested in some of SFX's assets, though it's unclear whether it would consider taking on the whole group. That might depend on the current SFX management's ongoing efforts to restructure the company's debts.

In other SFX news, the company has terminated its alliance with Spotify, which was confirmed back in July last year. The deal was interesting because SFX had recently moved Beatport into the streaming music domain, making it a competitor of Spotify.

It seems that for SFX the attraction of the content partnership, via which Beatport would provide Spotify with exclusive audio and video content, may have been the $10 million advance that was agreed. That money will now be paid back.

Though one final SFX development should see the company receive rather than hand over monies, in that management firm TMWRK - which manages the likes of Diplo and A-Trak amongst others - is seemingly buying itself out of SFX ownership.

The EDM group acquired TMWRK in April 2014, allying the management firm alongside its marketing and ticketing agencies. The TMWRK managers will seemingly take back control of their company in a deal that will net SFX $3.6 million.

Spotify's mechanical rights problem to be explained at upcoming CMU Insights masterclass
The mechanical rights squabble that has kicked off big time in the US over the Christmas break will be among the copyright developments to be fully explained at the next CMU Insights Masterclass - 'Key Developments In Music Rights' - on 10 Feb.

Spotify is now facing legal action over the way it licenses the mechanical rights of the songs it streams in the US. While everyone agrees that the way mechanical royalties are paid on streams in the US is a mess, opinion is divided over whether or not the fault lies with the digital service providers, the music publishers or outdated copyright rules. It's likely a combination of all three.

CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke says: "As with most of the disputes around digital rights and royalties, to understand what is going on here you need to understand a little about how copyright works, about the difference between performing and mechanical rights, and how labels, publishers and their collecting societies have chosen to license different kinds of digital services".

'Key Developments In Music Rights' is a new half-day masterclass designed to bring everyone involved in music copyright up to speed on the very latest developments and disputes. Digital licensing will be a key topic for discussion, with Cooke set to explain what Spotify's mechanical rights dispute is all about, as well as outlining why 'safe harbours', 'making available' and data are the other big talking points in music rights circles.

The session will also look at the expansion of copyright exceptions in the UK, why 1972 is a key year in US copyright law, and at the key music right cases of the last year, including the 'Blurred Lines', 'Happy Birthday' and MegaUpload legal battles.

The masterclass is supported by law firm Lewis Silkin which will host the event on Wednesday 10 Feb from 2-5.30pm. Tickets are just £99 and can be bought here.

Meanwhile, anyone looking for a beginner's guide to music rights can book into three upcoming CMU Insights evening seminars: 'How Music Rights Work' on 25 Jan, 'How Music Licensing Works' on 1 Feb and 'The Music Rights Sector' on 8 Feb. Places on each seminar are just £49.99.

  Approved: LCD Reunionsystem
CMU has a general policy that all band reunions should be considered bad. Because they all are. Without exception. Name a good band reunion. You can't. Because there aren't any. But I thought it would be nice to start 2016 on a more positive and less typically cynical note. And so here we are writing about a reunion in the bloody Approved column. Though technically we are approving the method by which said reunion was decided upon.

"I write songs all the time", wrote Murphy on the band's website. "Only a tiny fraction of these ever become songs; get recorded, feel like something that should be shared".

Realising he had a lot of songs that could be recorded, he called upon former LCD collaborators Pat Mahoney and Nancy Whang for help. "I asked Pat and Nancy to come over to my apartment for coffee and told them: 'I'm going to record some music. Should I make up a band name, or make a 'James Murphy' record, or should it be LCD?' We all thought a good amount about it".

A number of positions were reached, though ultimately they decided to go with the LCD name, not least because James Murphy performing songs from a new solo record live with members of his former band would look "egomaniacal to the point of sociopathic". Though it should be noted that, after thinking about it a good amount, option five on the trio's proposal list was "make music and, like, hide it somewhere", which would generally be my preference for any band considering a reunion. Though on this one occasion we'll approve the not hiding option.

Anyway, having been so thoroughly positive throughout here, let's end on a downer. Here's the first new track from LCD Soundsystem, released on 24 Dec, 'Christmas Will Break Your Heart'.
CLICK HERE to read and share online
 

Original Gun N Roses members reunite
Slash and Duff McKagan are back in Guns N Roses then, meaning that there are now three original members of the group involved. And that's enough to secure a headline slot at this year's Coachella festival.

McKagan has performed live with the band a handful of times since 2010, though guitarist Slash took longer to repair his acrimonious relationship with frontman Axl Rose.

Exactly who else will form the latest incarnation of the band's line-up is unclear, and it's also yet to be announced what other plans the outfit has.

Rose was due to appear on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' this week to discuss those plans but cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances". Though I'm not sure Axl Rose failing to turn up for something can really be classed as "unforeseen".

Also reforming to play Coachella are LCD Soundsystem, though presumably the pre-reunion conversations held between members of GNR were not quite the same.

 
ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
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)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
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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