TODAY'S TOP STORY: Artists and industry execs paid tribute yesterday to up and coming band Viola Beach, after all four members of the group and their manager died in a tragic road accident near Stockholm in the early hours of Saturday morning. The band - Jack Dakin, Kris Leonard, Tomas Lowe and River Reeves - were in Sweden after playing at showcase festival Where's The Music? on Friday... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Jorja Smith's debut track 'Blue Lights' has been picking up a lot of attention since appearing on SoundCloud last month. NME, Pigeons & Planes, various Radio 1 and 1Xtra presenters, as well as Skrillex have been falling over themselves to heap praise on it. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to do so as well, because she well deserves it. Sampling Dizzee Rascal... [READ MORE]
CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review the week in music and the music business, including Warner Music and Sony Music's commitments to share any cash from selling Spotify shares with their artists, Bloc's move out of the festival market, SoundCloud's make or break year, and (for some reason) Martin Shkreli. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital... [LISTEN HERE]
TOP STORIES Artists and industry pay tribute to Viola Beach after tragic road accident
LABELS & PUBLISHERS BPI launches new Label Spotlight initiative with Cherry Red
BRANDS & MERCH Tennent's wins music prize at sponsorship awards
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES YouTube buys BandPage
MEDIA Independent to go online-only as i sold to Johnston Press
BBC chief planning a radical overhaul of Corporation hierarchy
EDUCATION & EVENTS CMU:DIY returns with Urban Development and video focused session this week
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Richard Antwi dies
ONE LINERS Warner Music, Apple Music, Vevo, more
AND FINALLY... Kanye West fends off Martin Shkreli to release new album
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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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.
15 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: The Live Sector, Brand Partnerships & Fan Services
17 Feb 2016 CMU:DIY x Urban Development Industry Takeover Seminar
18 Feb 2016 CMU Insights @ Output 2016
22 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fanbase - Social Media Tools
29 Feb 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fanbase - Music Media
6 Mar 2016 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fan-Orientated Business
16 Mar 2016 CMU:DIY x Urban Development Industry Takeover Seminar
17 Mar 2016 CMU Insights @ Convergence 2016
13 Apr 2016 CMU:DIY x Urban Development Industry Takeover Seminar
14 Apr 2016 CMU Insights @ Music 4.5: Playlists 2
18 Apr 2016 CMU Insights Masterclass: Music Business Explained - For Brands
6 May 2016 CMU Insights @ Canadian Music Week 2016
19-20 May 2016 CMU Insights @ The Great Escape 2016

Artists and industry pay tribute to Viola Beach after tragic road accident
Artists and industry execs paid tribute yesterday to up and coming band Viola Beach, after all four members of the group and their manager died in a tragic road accident near Stockholm in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The band - Jack Dakin, Kris Leonard, Tomas Lowe and River Reeves - were in Sweden after playing at showcase festival Where's The Music? on Friday night. They were reportedly driving to Stockholm Arlanda Airport to return to the UK, for a Saturday night gig in Guildford, when the accident occurred.

The incident happened on a bridge that crosses a canal near the Swedish capital. The centre of the bridge had been raised to allow a boat through. The car carrying all four band-members and their manager Craig Tarry then crashed into a barrier that had come down while the bridge was raised, before plunging into the canal below.

An investigation is underway into why the car didn't stop at the barrier. Local police have told the BBC that there were actually two sets of safety barriers in place, that other cars were parked waiting for the boat to pass through, and that red warning lights were also flashing.

As news broke of the accident in the UK, numerous artists, media and industry people who had met, known or tipped the band expressed their shock at the incident, and sadness at the deaths of the five men. Communion Records, which recently released the group's second single 'Boys That Sing', said the band were "a truly great team of young men ... about to the take on the world together".

The label added: "Viola Beach had only recently come into the Communion family, and had everything going for them - great songs, passion, talent, drive... everything that a band should have. To sit down with the band was to sit down with a group of guys whose band you wanted to be in, and to be in the presence of a band who knew just what it would take to make it".

"This is why the band had been in Sweden", the label went on. "Rather than sit back and wait for it to happen to them, Kris, River, Jack and Tom were determined to go out into the world and play every show they could until the world was singing along with them, and now that dream has been sadly taken away from all of us. Equally, Craig, their manager was possessed by a passion to help the band achieve everything they wanted to, and to speak with Craig about Viola Beach, and music in general, was an absolute pleasure - you knew he was doing it all for the right reasons".

Concluding, the label said: "Everyone here at Communion is in a state of total shock and sorrow, and our thoughts go out to the families and friends of Craig and the band".

Communion co-founder and producer Ian Grimble also issued a statement, saying: "I first became aware of Viola Beach through their single 'Swings & Waterslides' and was very taken by the energy and vibrancy that jumped out of the speakers. Upon meeting them for the first time, along with Craig their manager, I could soon see why, their exuberance and determination to scream out to the world was overwhelming. This combined with undoubted talent and an incredible work ethic for ones so young made every long hour in the studio from then on very rewarding indeed".

"It is with great sadness that we will not be able to see them grow from the spark that they are now, into the raging fire that they so desperately desired to become", he continued. "They were a young band who wrote about what they knew, a legacy for new young bands I hope. 'And she told me that she loves a boy who knows how to sing, so I learned how to sing'. And how they sang. My thoughts are with their friends and family right now".

Mark Bennett from the band's agents, United Talent Agency, also paid tribute yesterday, saying: "From your first gig to your last and many in between I was so lucky to be there and I will be forever grateful for you lightning up my life with your infectious, beautiful and joyful behaviour. Craig Tarry could be seen at every gig, head bobbing and just simply and purely loving the music. I must have called him more than anyone in the last six months, even Thursday we must have spoken eight or nine times. You started as a colleague and you ended as a good mate. I will miss you dearly".

Communion has also confirmed that all proceeds from 'Boys That Sing' will now be donated to the families of the four band members and Tarry.

BPI launches new Label Spotlight initiative with Cherry Red
Record industry trade group the BPI has launched a new initiative called Label Spotlight via which it will champion record companies within its membership through online and social media based activity. And kicking off the proceedings is Cherry Red Records.

That particular spotlight will centre on an interview with label founder Iain McNay, plus there'll be artist profiles, tips for anyone thinking of setting up a label and a good old fashion competition.

Says McNay: "Every label has a story to tell. At the time when Cherry Red Records released its first single in 1978 there was a revolution happening in the British record business. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of new independent labels putting out some really great music. The established record business was being radically shaken up and Cherry Red loved being part of it".

He goes on: "When the label started we joined the BPI because we wanted to participate and be a voice in helping to shape the changing landscape and we felt it was important to get our views heard. I am sure this new series will be successful in capturing the fascinating diversity and originality of so many British independent record labels today".

All this label spotlighting will appear on from today. Watch the interview with Iain McNay here.

Tennent's wins music prize at sponsorship awards
Tennent's won the CMU-supported Live Music Sponsorship gong at the European Sponsorship Association's Excellence Awards in London last week, in recognition of the drink brand's long-term partnership with the T In The Park festival which, despite having a two decade plus history, still felt "new, energised and fresh" to the judges. Barclaycard was also highly commended by the very same judging panel for its sponsorship of British Summer Time in Hyde Park.

There was a double win for Tennent's, which also picked up the award for best Integrated Marketing Campaign. Commenting on both wins, the firm's Head Of Sponsorship, George Kyle, told CMU on Friday: "The European Sponsorship Association Excellence Awards celebrate excellence in the sponsorship industry and attract entries from global brands. So we were delighted to receive three nominations this year, and it was a real honour to take home two awards from last night's ceremony".

On his firm's long-term festival partnership, he added: "We've been the 'T' in T In The Park for 22 years, and this year's campaign success is testament to how a longstanding partnership can continue to engage and excite consumers".

You can read CMU's interview with Kyle about the music activity of Tennent's here, plus find out more about another music partnership shortlisted by the ESA this year, Jägermeister's JägerHaus, here.

YouTube buys BandPage
If streaming services can't afford to pay high enough royalties to satisfy the wider music industry, then why not use those platforms to upsell, upsell, upsell? Let the streaming platforms keep their £10 a month price points, but boost income for the music community by upselling tickets, t-shirts, VIP experiences and other gubbins right there alongside the streaming tunes.

It's a logic that has been expressed multiple times in recent years as the streaming services have gained momentum, and most platforms have tried to incorporate some kind of upsell element to benefit artists, though with mixed success. One issue is that streaming services primarily have relationships with labels and publishers, which do not usually have access to - or an incentive to sell - artists' other products and services.

One company that has endeavoured to provide the missing link in all this is BandPage, which transformed itself from a service that gave artists more control over their Facebook pages into a direct-to-fan platform plugged into streaming services. It has partnerships in place with various streaming firms including, as of 2014, Spotify, which switched to BandPage after previous D2F upsell partner Topspin got bought by rival Beats Music.

Which makes you wonder whether Spotify and all those other streaming services will now need a new D2F upsell partner, with BandPage going to rival YouTube. The Google-owned video platform has talked up its potential as an upsell platform before, but this could be seen as an attempt by YouTube to really boost the services it offers creators in this regard, and not necessarily just music creators either.

Details of the deal and what it means for BandPage are sketchy just now, but the direct-to-fan firm said in a blog post on Friday: "We are very excited to announce that BandPage is joining YouTube, a move which dramatically accelerates our shared goal of helping musicians everywhere thrive. BandPage is dedicated to helping musicians build their careers by growing their fanbases and increasing their revenue on the largest digital music services in the world. By joining forces with the team at YouTube, we can help artists reach their fans in more powerful ways than ever before".

The post went on: "We are extremely excited about this because we believe YouTube truly shares our commitment to musicians. YouTube already offers a global distribution platform for any artist to be discovered and some of the best self-publishing tools for musicians and other creators. The team has a lot of things planned to help musicians succeed on the platform, and more broadly across the BandPage network".

Talk of the wider "BandPage network" suggests that the company hopes to keep its partnerships with other streaming services in place, and the post adds: "Our collective goal remains the same - to grow an open network of digital music services, develop intelligent new tools for managing/distributing artist content and commerce, and create new revenue opportunities for all musicians, on YouTube and beyond". Though whether the YouTube competitors in that open network still share that vision remains to be seen.

Independent to go online-only as i sold to Johnston Press
The publisher of The Independent confirmed on Friday that the broadsheet will become an online-only newspaper as of next month, with the final print edition expected on 26 Mar.

As previously reported, there was rampant speculation about the future of the paper last week after it emerged that Evgeny Lebedev - whose father bought The Independent in 2010 - was close to selling the broadsheet's streamlined sister title i to regional newspaper group Johnston Press. i - which was launched the same year as the Lebedevs' acquisition of The Independent - has been relatively successful in a flagging newspaper market, and was widely assumed to be propping up its sister paper in recent years.

The sale of i to Johnston Press was also confirmed on Friday. The new owner plans to boost the title's staff and reach, launching it into the Northern Irish market for the first time. A standalone i website will also be launched, because The Independent itself will continue to operate the more youthful

i will continue to operate out of the same London offices, which are leased from Daily Mail publisher DMGT, and will also license content from the online Independent and the Lebedevs' other title, the Evening Standard. As previously noted, although more known for its short-form reporting, i was nevertheless able to provide pretty well researched journalism by tapping into and repurposing content from the main Independent paper.

Back at the Indy, it's not clear how many redundancies will follow the shift to online-only. For his part, Evgeny Lebedev was trying his best to give a positive spin to the development, portraying his title as a pioneer by dumping print at this stage.

He told staff: "Today the Independent titles announce an historic transition. At a time when our journalism is read and respected by more people in more places than ever before, we are embracing an exclusively digital future with and its associated sites. We faced a choice: manage the continued decline of print, or convert the digital foundation we've built into a sustainable, profitable future".

In his internal memo, he went on: "In choosing the latter [option], we will create 25 new content roles, launch a new subscription mobile app, enhance the redesigned, thriving, open new editorial bureaux in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and invest further in our New York-based US operation".

Arguably the newspaper industry has been waiting for some time for one title to bite the bullet and go online-only, and to test whether a conventional news media brand can retain its credibility and generate enough revenue without a print outlet.

The Guardian and Financial Times were both possible contenders, because of their relatively low print circulations and decent online operations. Though it did seem more likely a title with daily sales below 100,000 would be the first to drop print, which, in the UK, meant The Independent or one of the regional titles, probably one of the Scottish daily broadsheets.

All eyes will now be on Indy HQ to see whether the Lebedevs' gamble will work. The broadsheet's owner insists its website, which has around 58 million monthly readers, is already profitable, though it's not clear what costs have been previously charged to the digital side of the business. And while cutting print saves plenty on production, print and distribution, there are still significant costs involved in creating good journalism.

Online, if anything, there is even more competition for both readers and advertisers. While the all-new Independent clearly has global ambitions, some English-language titles elsewhere in the world are starting to gain traction here too, in particular the New York Times.

Then there's the existing online-only news media that have a sizable following worldwide, led by BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Vice, plus the online business, tech and political press that have gained momentum in recent years. And, of course, for news in the UK, there's the BBC website, which may have been cut back in recent years, but is still popular and pretty prolific.

As for the all-important advertising pound, online media owners face head-on competition from Google and Facebook, which, without the direct overheads of creating new content every day, do their best to bring the going-rate for web and mobile ads down.

Which means you either need phenomenal traffic to make standard ad income pay - which, in turn, tends to lead to analytics-driven editorial - or you go the branded-content route. Both of which can damage the credibility of conventional news brands, especially broadsheets, which possibly makes the pay-wall option attractive, though that too is a risky business.

So, plenty of challenges ahead beyond the short-term trauma of job insecurity at Independent HQ. Though if Lebedev and his team can make this work, even in a modest fashion, plenty of other titles could follow suit.

CMU Insights will be leading a discussion about the future of the media business, for content creators large and small, as part of London's Convergence festival next month. Click here for more info.


BBC chief planning a radical overhaul of Corporation hierarchy
BBC boss Tony Hall is planning a major revamp of the Beeb's hierarchy, according to the Telegraph, which will see the organisation structured according to content-type rather than channel and medium.

The move would also significantly reduce the layers of management within the Corporation that have often been criticised in the past. This is a process Hall has already begun with some recent reorganisation, though the new plans would be more radical.

For viewers, the Beeb's TV channel and radio brands would remain, for the time being at least, but behind the scenes each outlet would no longer have its own management structure, and the big divide between TV and radio would go.

New divisions being discussed reportedly include BBC Entertain, which would oversee entertainment-based TV output and Radio 2, while BBC Inform would take over news and Radio 5.

An early output of the new approach would be BBC Youth, which would bring Radio 1 and BBC Three under the same management, would make total sense given the latter is going online-only this week, and the former has made no secret of its ambitions in the online video space.

The Telegraph says all of this is still up for debate, though an announcement of Hall's big rejig should come this side of Easter.

CMU:DIY returns with Urban Development and video focused session this week
The first CMU:DIY session of 2016 takes place this week with the latest CMU:DIY x Urban Development Industry Takeover Seminar happening at London's Red Bull Studios on Wednesday night.

This time the topic is 'Making & Monetising Video Content', with spoken-word artist Suli Breaks, filmmaker and activist Akinola Davies, and Hyperfrank founder Laura Brosnan amongst those who will be sharing their expertise.

CMU's Chris Cooke will host as always, and in a pre-event blog post he notes: "Video has been a big part of the music mix for decades now of course, and has been a key marketing tool for the record industry ever since the rise of MTV in the 1980s. Though, arguably, it has never been more important for artists to create good and regular video content than it is in 2016".

He goes on: "Obviously, for self-releasing artists without a label's marketing budget, producing decent videos to accompany each track released can be a challenge. Though it's a lot easier and cheaper to produce good video content today than in the past, and a clever creative concept can easily outperform a more generic video that a major label spent 50 grand filming".

But "there is more to music video than music video", he adds. "Which is to say, artists increasingly need to create video content other than the customary 'pop promo' that accompanies a single release. This is particularly true if an artist wants to use YouTube as a direct-to-fan channel, where you connect with fans on a regular basis and use existing fans to help you reach new people, with the ultimate aim of generating a little revenue through the Google advertising system".

Read the full blog here. Buy tickets to the session here.

Richard Antwi dies
Music lawyer Richard Antwi, who also founded Full & Bless Management and Levels Entertainment, has died. He was 38. In various capacities, Antwi was an early supporter of numerous artists who went on to find success, including Tinie Tempah, Wretch 32, Lethal Bizzle and Mr Hudson.

"I don't think I've cried in a long time", wrote Lethal Bizzle in an Instagram post paying tribute to Antwi. "Thank you for everything you done for me, Richard. You believed in me when no one else did. You was a big part in changing my life around. I dunno where I'd be if Statik didn't introduce us. You're a very special person, the UK music industry is forever in your debt, you'll be truly missed".

Meanwhile Tinie Tempah's manager Dumi Oburota also paid tribute, saying: "Today is a sad, sad day. One of our brightest, hardest, articulate, wise, warm and calm leaders of our culture has left us. Richard, you have always from the jump been someone I looked up to [and] bounced ideas off. Always the one to call and say well done. Like a big brother! There are not many people like you in this world and that's why you are truly going to be missed. My sincere condolences to you and your family. You made us PROUD brother. May your soul rest in perfect peace".

The cause of Antwi's death has not been made public.

  Approved: Jorja Smith
Jorja Smith's debut track 'Blue Lights' has been picking up a lot of attention since appearing on SoundCloud last month. NME, Pigeons & Planes, various Radio 1 and 1Xtra presenters, as well as Skrillex have been falling over themselves to heap praise on it. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to do so as well, because she well deserves it.

Sampling Dizzee Rascal's 'Sirens', the track is balanced between light keys and serious lyrics, the musical backing a disarming route to a story woven over four minutes. The quality of this first release puts a weight of expectation on the second, so fingers crossed she can deliver. I suspect this is not a one-off.

Listen to 'Blue Lights' here.

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Warner Music, Apple Music, Vevo, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Patti Coleman is shifting within the Warner Music business in the US, from Warner Bros Records to become SVP and Head Of Business And Legal Affairs over at catalogue division Rhino. Coleman is "THRILLED" about the move, obviously.

• Apple's Eddy Cue has said the firm's streaming music set-up now has eleven million subscribers, up from the ten million figure reported last month. Cue delivered the latest stats brag on The Talk Show podcast.

• Vevo last week announced new Android and Apple TV apps, part of the music video service's appy bid to deliver "the best cross-platform music video and entertainment experience". And why not, I say.

• Just in case you can't work out for yourself who has the most senior jobs at the biggest music firms, US trade mag Billboard has put together its Power 100 list once again. With it being totally dominated by white men, the list will no doubt rekindle the debate over whether the diversity problem is within the industry itself or in Billboard's view of where the actual power sits. I'd say both.

• Sia has released the lyric video for her new single 'Cheap Thrills'.

• Sarah Blasko has released a video for new single 'I Wanna Be Your Man', tackling gender inequality. It's taken from new album 'Eternal Return', which was released last week.

• Benga has released a second track from his upcoming 'Future Funk' EP. Here's 'Power'.

• Lianne La Havas is releasing a repackaged edition of her last album 'Blood' on 19 Feb. Here's a new track that'll be on it, 'Fairytale'.

• Jagwar Ma have announced some UK tour dates, which is fun. There'll be six shows in May, finishing up at Village Underground in London on 31 May.

Kanye West fends off Martin Shkreli to release new album
Yeah right, so, quite a lot has happened in the world of Kanye West since Friday. I guess the important thing you need to know is that his new album, 'The Life Of Pablo', has been be released. And unreleased. Sort of.

The album went live yesterday, following its premiere at West's fashion show at Madison Square Garden in New York on Thursday. Tidal was given the exclusive stream, while downloads were available at West's own website. This was to be the situation for a week, before the album went on wider release. But being Kanye, things then changed. The album is now entirely a Tidal exclusive.

Perhaps remembering that he is a shareholder in the service, West suddenly tweeted yesterday: "Please for all music lovers. Please subscribe to Tidal!!! I decided not to sell my album for another week. Please subscribe to Tidal".

Whether they did or not, the Tidal app briefly rose up the Apple App Store charts, so that's something.

"Tidal is also funding a lot of my scripted content ideas", West added. "It's a new day people. More 'Ultra Light Dreams' to be realized".

So that's something.

Other things Kanye West tweeted yesterday include:

"Mark Zuckerberg, invest $1 billion into Kanye West ideas after realizing he is the greatest living artist and greatest artist of all time".

"I'm practicing my Grammy speech. I'm not going to the Grammys unless they promise me the Album Of The Year!!!"

"I will have over 100 Grammys before I die".

"I'm this generation's Disney"

But it wasn't just Kanye tweeting outlandish things about himself this weekend. American dream personified Martin Shkreli offered West $10 million last Thursday for the exclusive rights to 'The Life Of Pablo', ie so that the record would never be properly released to the public. He then claimed that the legal obligation to consider a formal offer such as this would delay the album's release by a few days at least. And, hey, we were expecting it on Thursday and it didn't come out until Sunday, so there's your conspiracy theory.

Shkreli said other things too, like claiming to have been in negotiations with Kanye via Twitter direct messages before a limit on the number of message he could send and receive was triggered and their discussion halted. He then upped his bid to $15 million, before claiming that he had sealed the deal and would start working to buy up all major hip hop releases for the next two years.

The album was released though, wasn't it? Yes. At which point Shkreli claimed to have been defrauded of $15 million: "Someone named Daquan said he was Kanye's boy and I signed the deal to buy 'Palbo' and sent the bitcoin. Call the police, this is bullshit".

"Also, idiots", he added. "I've gotten in touch with [Satoshi Nakamoto] (Bitcoin's creator) and he's agreed to help me get my money back. I always win".

Which was where he pushed the joke a little bit too far. But it was fun nonetheless.

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.
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CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
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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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