TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify has fired its first shot in the big mechanical rights battle over there in the US, with the focus of this round being David Lowery's attempt to make his litigation a class action. As previously reported, musician Lowery - a vocal critic of many a streaming music service - sued Spotify late last year, claiming that the company had infringed his copyright by not properly licensing... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: "We're going to make and finish the record. It may be out this winter, but I am reserving the right to change that", said Doseone of his project with Mike Patton and Tunde Adebimpe in 2009. He also said in the same Pitchfork interview: "One of the things that I've really learned and really want to bring to this group is that there's no rushing the music"... [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 Spotify responds to David Lowery's mechanicals lawsuit
LEGAL Cox hits out at BMG's proposed anti-piracy injunction
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Official Charts Company launches Trending Chart
Imagem Production Music rebrands following Ole acquisition
BRANDS & MERCH Morrissey takes up modelling, decides it's not for him
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Line to close MixRadio
MEDIA Radio still dominates in-car listening, for now at least
Bauer launches Kiss brand in Norway and Finland
ONE LINERS Sony Music, Drake, Gwen Stefani, more
AND FINALLY... The Grammys! It was the Grammys! The Grammys happened!
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Spotify responds to David Lowery's mechanicals lawsuit
Spotify has fired its first shot in the big mechanical rights battle over there in the US, with the focus of this round being David Lowery's attempt to make his litigation a class action.

As previously reported, musician Lowery - a vocal critic of many a streaming music service - sued Spotify late last year, claiming that the company had infringed his copyright by not properly licensing the so called mechanical rights in his songs.

It's no secret that the licensing of mechanicals by digital services in the US is a mess. Mainly because the licensing of mechanicals by record labels for CD and download releases was never great to start with, and when the on-demand streaming services came along needing licences for 30 million+ tracks all at once, the whole system collapsed.

On-demand streaming services exploit both the mechanical and the performing rights in songs, meaning that companies like Spotify need licences for both. The music publishing sector has traditionally licensed the two elements of the copyright separately, but since the rise of digital - and the increased need for combined mechanical/performing right licences - in most countries the publishers have managed to work out a way of offering joined up licences, usually by publishers and different collecting societies collaborating.

In the US, collective licensing rules (in the main) have prevented this from happening, so while a streaming service can cover performing rights via the societies like BMI and ASCAP, mechanical rights need to be licensed separately. This process is complicated because there is no direct counterpart in the US to the UK's mechanical rights society MCPS, so licensees need to locate each and every rights owner separately, though in theory middle-man companies like the Harry Fox Agency, which Spotify engaged, can help with that process.

Spotify doesn't actually need permission from rights owners to exploit the mechanical rights, because in the US a compulsory licence applies. However, the terms of that licence say that the licensee must alert a rights owner of their intent to use their songs, and then pay royalties at a statutory rate.

It is Spotify's failure to provide those alerts and pay those royalties that is at the heart of Lowery's lawsuit. Spotify blames bad data. That is to say, the music industry's bad data, not Spotify's. If only there was a decent database of song ownership, and then another database that told a digital platform what song features in any one track, then it could and would send out alerts left, right and centre, and pay every publisher and every songwriter what they are due. But no one made those databases, so what's a DSP to do?

Lowery's lawyers argue that it is actually quite easy to identify who owns their client's works with an online search, and anyway, the compulsory licence deals with the problem of bad song ownership data, by giving the licensee the option to send the alert and statutory royalties to the US Copyright Office until the owner of any one song copyright can be found. And Spotify did not do this. Boom!

Though, even if we ignore the fact that formalities of the compulsory licence are routinely ignored by the music industry, Spotify would likely counter that, anyway, that provision doesn't overcome the lack of a database that tells it what songs are contained in what recordings. Given song titles aren't always unique, even if it filed alerts with the Copyright Office, how would it know what song the alert should relate to? Could the alert just include the ISRC code associated with the recording?

So rumbles on the data debate at the heart of this legal battle, though Spotify's first legal filing in response to Lowery's lawsuit only really skirts around the issues, because the point of this response, as we said, is the class action status of the original litigation.

Lowery's argument is that because Spotify didn't comply with the terms of the compulsory licence, there is no licence, and that's copyright infringement. So, forget the statutory royalties Spotify has been setting aside all these years, the statutory damages for wilful copyright infringement can go up to $150,000 per track. If this is a class action, so that any affected songwriter could pursue damages if Lowery prevailed, well, that could be expensive.

Which is why it is important for Spotify to try to tackle the class action bit first; because a better worse case scenario is fighting Lowery alone, without the prospect of having to pay damages to hundreds, if not thousands, of songwriters if it loses.

Spotify cites a number of reasons why Lowery's lawsuit should not be granted class action status in its response, not least a precedent set in a 2013 case between the FA and YouTube in which it was said "copyright claims are poor candidates for class action treatment". Spotify's lawyers then argue that Lowery's lawsuit proposes "an improper 'fail-safe' class", that the proposed class "is not ascertainable" and that it "lacks the commonality required".

A big part of that relates to the same old data issues - ie how do we know what songs have been exploited without licence, and therefore who's in the class, without the super database that would have fixed this problem to start with.

As previously noted, opinion is divided in the publishing and songwriter community on this whole squabble, between those who reckon that a company with Spotify's funding should have found a solution to this data problem years ago, and those who reckon the whole matter is rather embarrassing for the music industry itself, and that publishers and on-demand streaming services (because it affects them all) should work together on a solution.

For now, Lowery's lawsuit, and another filed by Melissa Ferrick, will continue to go through the motions. You can link through to Spotify's submission via this critique of the service's arguments on the Music Technology Policy website.

Cox hits out at BMG's proposed anti-piracy injunction
US internet service provider Cox Communications has hit out at proposals put forward by BMG for an injunction that would force the net firm to proactively police piracy on its networks and take action against infringers.

As previously reported, BMG scored a big win against Cox last year in a legal battle over the way the ISP has responded in the past when the music rights firm has alerted it to copyright infringement on its networks.

Unlike most other big internet providers in the US, Cox is not part of the Copyright Alert System initiative, instead having its own processes for dealing with copyright infringement complaints. But BMG argued that that was a deliberately shoddy system, designed to ensure that Cox didn't have to cut off or penalise too many infringing customers.

BMG prevailed it is legal action against Cox, with a judge concluding that the firm could not rely on safe harbour protection - designed to protect net firms from liability for their customers' infringement - because it didn't do enough to aid copyright owners seeking to enforce their rights.

In response to that ruling, BMG is now seeking a permanent injunction that would force Cox to be extra proactive in cracking down on piracy. The music firm's proposals would oblige Cox to monitor traffic on its network looking for copyright infringing activities, and to then terminate the accounts of infringers, as well as handing over their information to the relevant copyright owners or their agents, who could then sue the user.

But, says Cox, these proposals are too wide-ranging, too vague, and possibly illegal. Said the net firm in its response last week: "To the extent the injunction requires either termination or surveillance, it imposes undue hardships on Cox, both because the order is vague and because it imposes disproportionate, intrusive, and punitive measures against households and businesses with no due process".

On the monitoring processes proposed by BMG, it adds: "The evidence at trial showed that Cox cannot use deep packet inspection or other tools to police its users' activities because surveillance to detect the contents of user transmissions is likely illegal. The evidence showed that Cox does not track where users go on the internet; that Cox does not know what content passes over its system, and that Cox cannot identify, much less block, which files a subscriber accesses or shares using BitTorrent".

Concluding, with another dig at BMG's anti-piracy agent Rightscorp - whose tactics have been criticised by some, and especially Cox - the ISP says: "BMG's proposed injunction threatens the public interest. It blindly punishes consumers by terminating their internet access based on mere accusations, invading their privacy, and forcing them into a relationship with known abuser Rightscorp".

Official Charts Company launches Trending Chart
Currently trending in new chart news is the trending news that the Official Charts Company is launching a trendy new Trending Chart to show which trendy tracks are trending in the UK. From today, every week we'll find out which 20 trendy tracks are the 20 trendiest.

Based on the first four days of sales and streaming data for each chart week, the new chart will show which songs are building the biggest buzz. The aim is to highlight future hits as new artists and tracks make their way up the main chart over a longer period of time, thanks to shifting release patterns, and the increased employment by labels (at last) of the so called 'on air, on sale' strategy.

According to the OCC, in the second half of last year the number of number one singles entering at the top of the chart almost halved, and an increasing number of singles that end up being hits are beginning their journey far lower down the chart. 'All My Friends' by Snakehips, for example, entered the chart at 98 and took eight weeks to break the top five. It's tracks like this that the Trending Chart aims to flag up.

"I think for people like us, who are relatively unknown, this makes sense because people don't know us nearly as much as the big artists out there", say the Snakehips. "With 'All My Friends', it took people a while to get to know the track as well as who we are, so to show that it was picking up momentum in that way is great".

Also commenting on the new trendy trends chart is MD of Universal Music UK's commercial division Brian Rose, who added: "Following the success of Global Release Day and the move to 'on air, on sale', the Official Trending Chart adds a new layer of excitement and intel to the changing consumption habits of music fans".

For fans of process, the new chart will rank all climbing tracks that have never been in the top ten, have been released in the last 24 months, and have been on the chart for fewer than 52 weeks. Artists will also be limited to two tracks per chart, so that the whole thing isn't dominated by one superstar with a new album out that's getting lots of streams.

The first Official Trending Chart will be out at lunchtime today.


Imagem Production Music rebrands following Ole acquisition
Imagem Production Music is rebranding as Cavendish Music, following an acquisition by Ole Music. The change sees the company return to its original name from when it was part of the old Boosey & Hawkes publishing company, before B&H became an Imagem subsidiary.

Says Cavendish Music General Manager Gareth Owen: "Cavendish is a renowned brand that has always operated and moved ahead of the times, whilst remaining fiercely independent throughout. The Cavendish name signifies quality and service and we wanted to make a renewed commitment to our clients that we will continue to bring them the best in service and repertoire. It's incredibly exciting to have a chance to evolve and grow Cavendish in new and innovative ways".

So that's nice. And it reduces the opportunities for pronunciation embarrassment.

Morrissey takes up modelling, decides it's not for him
Adverts for fashion brand Supreme featuring that Morrissey began showing up around the world last week. But the normally very amiable and easy to work with singer has distanced himself from the campaign already, claiming that the company breached their contract.

"I apologise enormously for the enfeebled photograph of me issued this week by Supreme", said Morrissey via his True To You website. "The shot was taken in October 2015. I considered the photograph to be fit only for a medical encyclopaedia and I pleaded with Supreme not to use it. This was before I learned that Supreme were sponsored in part by the beef sandwich pharaoh known as White Castle".

That latter point being a problem, of course, because of Morrissey's strict vegetarianism. He added: "Supreme were issued with a legal caution not to use the photograph and [told] their fee would be returned. Evidently Supreme have ignored my lawyer. No safety within the corridors of law. Ugh".

As can usually be expected in these circumstances, the company Morrissey accuses of being completely unreasonable claims that it actually bent over backwards to work with him.

"Morrissey required a substantial fee for his participation in this project which Supreme paid up front and in full", a spokesperson for the firm told Stereogum. "The photo shoot lasted two hours and Morrissey was free to do, and pose as he wished. The agreement prohibits Morrissey from 'unreasonably' withholding approval of the use of photographs taken at the photo shoot".

Contractually bound not to be unreasonable, what do you think Morrissey did next? Supreme explained: "After offering Morrissey several options of images from the shoot, Morrissey rejected them all with no explanation. Instead, Morrissey insisted on using a photo that he had taken of himself wearing a Supreme t-shirt for the campaign".

The company says it then offered three options: to do a complete re-shoot at its expense, for Morrissey to choose another photo from the original shoot, or for him to return his fee and everyone go their separate ways.

"Morrissey repeatedly ignored all three options with no reason given as to why", the Supreme spokesperson continued. "He then proceeded to assert a sudden and ridiculous claim that because Supreme had used the White Castle logo on a group of products in the past, and because he is a known vegetarian, that the agreement was supposedly terminated".

"After many attempts to solve this problem, and left with no other viable options, Supreme proceeded to publish these images as per it's agreement with Morrissey", they concluded.

Luckily for all involved, Morrissey was on hand to clear up all confusion. Writing a new statement, he says: "As a matter of fact, I do not have, do not want, nor do I need, any money from the company called Supreme. If Supreme have sent money in my name then they could track it down and reclaim it - if they had NOT printed that photograph of me for their 2016 campaign. By running prints of the photograph they have derailed their own negotiations. This is why they are angry".

"The photograph is dreadful and will help neither myself nor Supreme", he continues. "Who needs it? Nobody. Supreme were warned by my lawyer and accountant that the photograph should NOT be used. Supreme ignored this advice. Hence this mess".

Why is Morrissey bothering to write all these statement, you may wonder. Does he get some kind of joy from doing so? "I write these statements because there is no one else to write them", he writes, pre-empting you. "The joy I receive from such statements is non-existent".

Ugh indeed.

Line to close MixRadio
Japanese messaging app Line has announced that it is shutting down MixRadio. The company bought the music app in December 2014, after it was spun off from Microsoft and Nokia earlier the same year.

In a statement, Line said: "After a careful assessment of [MixRadio's] overall performance, the financial challenges posed by the music streaming market, and priorities of Line Corporation, Line has determined that future growth would be difficult to ensure and decided to discontinue the MixRadio music streaming service".

The company stressed that it will continue to operate its Line Music streaming service, its joint venture with Japanese major labels Sony Music, Avex and Universal Music Japan which went live in Japan and Thailand last summer. Basically in competition with MixRadio. Which always seemed a bit odd.

Radio still dominates in-car listening, for now at least
While in-car listening surely plays its part in keeping CD sales higher than you might otherwise have expected in 2016, it's even more important when it comes to radio sustaining its audience. Radio seemingly remains a popular listening option for those on the move, with new research published by Radioplayer last week reckoning that 75% of all in-car listening involves tuning into a conventional radio station.

Of course, Radioplayer has a vested interest here, but the organisation was keen to stress that its stats were based on a survey of 1500 drivers in three countries - UK, France and Germany - who had bought a top brand car in the last three years, meaning plenty of its sample group would have access to new-fangled in-car entertainment systems.

The arrival of the internet in the car presents a big opportunity for online audio services, of course, and most streaming platforms have deals in place with one or another car manufacturer to get their system onto the interactive digital dashboard of the future. And if and when such net-connected in-car entertainment systems become mainstream, that's when streaming services could become a big head-on competitor for traditional radio.

However, says the Radioplayer research, for now at least drivers like traditional radio. 69% of those surveyed said that if they could only have one entertainment source in their car it would be radio (73% in the UK), while 84% said that they listen to radio programmes on most journeys, and 82% added that they'd never buy a car which didn't have a radio inbuilt.

If you think this is all old people talking, researchers say there wasn't a huge disparity across different age groups, with 78% of respondents in their 20s also saying they'd never buy a car with no radio installed. Though, you could probably assume those in their 20s are less likely to have a high-end car with a super-duper interactive entertainment system installed, and if and when they get such a thing, and if and when the YouTube music app pops up on said system, their loyalty to conventional radio channels might decrease.

Radio retains its dominance in-car for now though, meaning traditional broadcasters still have an edge to exploit as interactive services start to push themselves to net-connected drivers. Though, it should be added, the fact that radio is free (which fully interactive streaming may not be) is also an attraction. And 90% of respondents said radio should remain free and ad (or otherwise) funded.

But still, some positive stats for radio people, which Radioplayer intends to use to ensure car-makers don't get all carried away with the Spotify/YouTube/Pandora future and forget about good old fashioned Radio 2 and Heart FM when honing their entertainment systems.

"Seatbelt, ignition, radio", said Radioplayer MD Michael Hill last week, possibly under the impression he was recording a new ident for Capital Radio. "That habit's clearly as ingrained today as it was 20 years ago. Now we need to act in partnership across the European radio industry, share this research with the car companies, and work together to build the dashboards of the future".


Bauer launches Kiss brand in Norway and Finland
Bauer Media is bringing some Kiss-style goodness to the Norwegians and the Finnish. By which, I mean, some fresh, urban-infused, dance music radio goodness. Not the band, obviously.

So, yes, Kiss has launched on DAB+ in Norway and FM in Finland. It's the first time one of Bauer's UK radio brands has been taken into new markets, and follows the media firm's acquisition of European radio companies Radio Nova and SBS Radio last year.

Confirming the launch of new local versions of Kiss in the Nordic region, Paul Keenan, CEO of Bauer Media UK, told reporters: "More Kiss is great for listeners across Europe. Outstandingly successful in the UK, I am confident that it will deliver highly valuable audiences in the Nordics".

Meanwhile the boss of Bauer Radio Norway, Lasse Kokvik, noted: "Kiss in the UK has grown to entertain more millennials than any other Bauer Media brand. It's extremely influential for an audience that's difficult to reach. Kiss Norway's ambition is to become the market-leader with this audience".

Leena Puntila at Bauer Radio Finland sneakily added in her own little slogan by noting: "Kiss - 'The Beat Of Finland' - is set to be a fantastic addition to Finland's thriving radio landscape. We'll offer music and programming that will appeal to our countries' millennials with an ambition to grow our share of listening in this market".

  Approved: Nevermen
"We're going to make and finish the record. It may be out this winter, but I am reserving the right to change that", said Doseone of his project with Mike Patton and Tunde Adebimpe in 2009. He also said in the same Pitchfork interview: "One of the things that I've really learned and really want to bring to this group is that there's no rushing the music".

Even then, I'm sure he didn't foresee it taking another six years and six months to release this album. The aim of the Nevermen project is for each of the three Nevermen to have equal weighting within it, with no one standing forth as a leader. Not an easy task when all three, particularly Doseone and Patton, have stood at the front of so many other projects.

The result is pretty balanced, with each familiar voice shining through without anyone crashing anyone else or dominating. Musically, their many influences merge to defy any pigeon-holing, and also serving up occasional sudden changes in direction.

Check out recent single 'Mr Mistake' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column in 2016 by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.
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Sony Music, Drake, Gwen Stefani, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Sony Music has done a deal with South African tel co MTN which seems to be mainly about ring back tones - which are still a thing apparently - but it could result in further music services on the network.

• Drake is bringing out his very own brand of whiskey. "After that legendary moment what else is there to do but celebrate with class?" he asked via Instagram. Well, quite.

• Yes, you can listen to the new Gwen Stefani single 'Make Me Like You' now. How funny you should ask.

• Skepta has released a new track, 'Ladies Hit Squad', featuring A$AP Nast and D Double E.

• Vangoffey, aka Danny Goffey who used to be in Supergrass, will release a single called 'Sucker' on 14 Mar. Wanna listen? Here it is.

• There is a new Julia Holter video. Her last album was really good. As were all of her previous albums. Just so you know.

• Hinds have released a video for their track 'Bamboo'. Look, here it is.

• La Sera have a new single out. It's called 'I Need An Angel' and is taken from their forthcoming new album 'Music For Listening To Music To'.

• Tom Jones is going to do some of those Forest Live shows this summer. He'll play Bedgebury Pinetum, near Tunbridge Wells on 17 Jun and Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury on 19 Jun.

• Now Kanye's saying that 'The Life Of Pablo' will only ever be on Tidal. We'll see how long that lasts.

The Grammys! It was the Grammys! The Grammys happened!
It was the Grammy Awards last night. The Grammys! Everyone's favourite. Kanye West didn't win Album Of The Year - though he was cutting it a bit fine releasing the record and then demanding the prize less than 24 hours before the ceremony. Instead the award went to his nemesis Taylor Swift.

Ed Sheeran picked up a few prizes, Kendrick Lamar scooped every rap trophy, Skrillex and Diplo got the dance ones as Jack Ü, and Amy Winehouse had the best film. I could sit here listing these things all day, but you can read all the winners on the Grammy Awards website, so why bother?

Instead, let's talk about things that happened. Adele's performance of 'All I Ask' sounded weird because a microphone fell onto her piano strings, Rihanna cancelled her performance at the last minute due to bronchitis, and Hollywood Vampires - aka Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum - performed a tribute to Lemmy.

But the tribute everyone was talking about was Lady Gaga's to David Bowie. Along with Nile Rodgers she performed a medley of Bowie's hits. It was very good. And like all the best, most reverential tributes, it was also used as an advert for a major technology company.

Inexplicably, the awards show was then closed by Pitbull with Robin Thicke, Travis Barker and Joe Perry. Though I'm sure it cleared the room, so perhaps it was a logistical move.

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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