TODAY'S TOP STORY: So, more developments in the big battle for sign-ups in the streaming music space. And we don't mean signing up punters to some £10 a month subscriptions nonsense, no, we're talking about the real battle for sign-ups here: between the NMPA's Spotify mechanicals settlement and David Lowery's Spotify mechanicals class action. As previously reported, Spotify last month... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: With her debut EP 'Libelle' due out on 6 May, Annabel Jones has released the video for latest single 'IOU'. Following on from previous track 'Magnetic', a smart and simple blending of synth lines beneath Jones's relaxed but powerful vocals, 'IOU' steps things up a gear. That relaxed vocal is given a strong drum and bassline behind it this time, which does more to set her up as a prope... [READ MORE]
CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review the week in music and the music business, including the key stats from the IFPI's latest Global Music Report and what they mean, Facebook's new Content ID system, the legal battle to prove that 'We Shall Overcome' is in the public domain, and Gene Simmons' attempts to prove that NWA aren't rock n roll. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital... [LISTEN HERE]
TOP STORIES David Lowery's lawyers demand access to correspondence about Spotify's mechanical settlement
LEGAL Kesha called to give filmed deposition on Dr Luke abuse claims
DEALS BMG allies with Warner's ADA on distribution
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner Bros A&R chief to run label as Miles Leonard focuses on Parlophone
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Crowdmix downsizes slightly in marketing team rejig
ARTIST NEWS "I am not a quitter", says AC/DC's Brian Johnson
Pearl Jam the latest band to boycott North Carolina
AWARDS Ivor Novello Awards nominations announced
ONE LINERS Capitol, AXS, Dice, more
AND FINALLY... Rihanna denies knowledge of publicist who says she's angry about Tidal album launch
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David Lowery's lawyers demand access to correspondence about Spotify's mechanical settlement
So, more developments in the big battle for sign-ups in the streaming music space. And we don't mean signing up punters to some £10 a month subscriptions nonsense, no, we're talking about the real battle for sign-ups here: between the NMPA's Spotify mechanicals settlement and David Lowery's Spotify mechanicals class action.

As previously reported, Spotify last month announced a settlement with the US National Music Publishers Association over the streaming service's failure to pay mechanical royalties to songwriters and publishers according to the terms of the compulsory licence that covers such things Stateside.

Under the deal song rights owners will get any unpaid royalties they are due, a share of a multi-million 'soz fund' and a commitment that the streaming service will sort out all of the data issues that have made the payment of US mechanical royalties a right mess across the streaming music sector to date.

The deal followed the filing of two class actions by American songwriters who claim they are owed mechanical royalties by Spotify, the first being led by David Lowery, a musician who has been vocal about artist rights in recent years.

The lawsuits allege that, by failing to comply with the formalities of the aforementioned compulsory licence, the streaming service is liable for copyright infringement, and therefore could be due to pay damages of up to $150,000 per song streamed without licence, which is significantly more than self-published songwriters could expect to see from the damages being paid under the NMPA settlement.

With the lawsuits hoping for class action status, any songwriter whose songs have been streamed without licence by Spotify could benefit from the litigation. However, a condition of signing up to the NMPA negotiated deal is that you don't then join legal action over this issue, meaning for songwriters it's either the settlement or the class action. There is a three month deadline for signing up to the former, meaning affected songwriters need to decide pretty damn quickly which route they would rather go.

In a new legal filing, Lowery's lawyers seem to be claiming that Spotify isn't playing fair in the race to sign up songwriters. To that end, Team Lowery want to see all the correspondence that has been sent out by the streaming service to potential class members, while asking the court to order that any misleading communications that may or may not have occurred be formally clarified or corrected.

The lawyers go on to say that, in their minds, the core of the Spotify/NMPA settlement is the payment of outstanding mechanicals, which are due to songwriters anyway, even if they don't give up their right to sue down the line. To that end, the Lowery lawyers reckon, Spotify should have to give their class action a little plug when getting in touch with possibly affected songwriters.

Or, in the words of the legal papers: "Neither Spotify, nor any person acting in concert with Spotify, should be encouraging prospective class members to waive their copyright infringement claims and remedies without providing appropriate information about the pending class lawsuit as well, so that the putative class members may make an informed decision".

The lawyers also have a good moan about the three-month opt-in period set by the Spotify/NMPA settlement which, as noted, means songwriters need to decide which way to go pretty quickly and - crucially - before the courts have even decided whether or not to actually grant Lowery's lawsuit class action status.

That fact arguably makes choosing the class action option more risky, as it's not known if that's actually an option on the table yet. Which makes the deadline for opting in clever - or sneaky - on Spotify's part, depending on which side of the table you're sitting on.

Spotify is yet to respond to the latest legal filing. In its initial response to Lowery's lawsuit, the streaming firm put most of its efforts into arguing why class action status should be denied.

Kesha called to give filmed deposition on Dr Luke abuse claims
Kesha has been subpoenaed for a filmed deposition in June to discuss her sexual abuse allegations against Dr Luke, reports The Daily Mail.

As much previously reported, Kesha Sebert accuses her long-time musical collaborator Lukasz Gottwald of plying her with drugs and alcohol and raping her as a teenager. He denies all of those allegations, and has sued both the singer and her mother for defamation, saying that the accusations were invented in a bid to force his hand in a contractual dispute.

Earlier this month, Sebert suffered a setback in the legal battle, after much of her case was dismissed in New York. However, there are multiple strands to this litigation, with lawsuits running across three states. This means that the case is far from over.

Gottwald's legal team have now asked for a filmed deposition, in order to ensure that Sebert's claims are all recorded under oath. Neither side has yet commented on the news.

Meanwhile, The Game has become the latest artist to come out in support of the singer. Speaking about her situation, he told TMZ: "Let her off the label. Let her do her thing. I don't understand music and the slave mentality. If the artist is not happy, you should let the artist do their thing".

When it was pointed out that it has already been ruled in court that she must adhere to her contract with Sony Music, he added: "Fuck that contract. You know what a contract is? A piece of paper that I signed when I was dumb and illiterate to the music business. Then you figure it out, you get smart, you get aware, you realise you signed some bullshit".

Although her career has largely been placed on hold while the Dr Luke legal battle slowly progresses, Kesha did make a public appearance at last weekend's Coachella festival, joining Zedd on stage to perform his song 'True Colors'.

BMG allies with Warner's ADA on distribution
So, can I start spreading those totally unsubstantiated Warner/BMG merger rumours again? To be honest, I forgot about my plan to create a WarnerBMG business through gossip. But I do miss the days of major mergers in the music rights sector.

Ah, do you remember the glory days of the EMI downfall? The mounting debts. The unhappy bankers. The big split of the business. The briefings. The biddings. The bitchings. The threats of libel litigation. They were happy happy days.

Anyway, music rights firm BMG has formed an alliance with Warner Music's label services division ADA, which is mainly a logistics move on the former's part, but a sizable win for the latter's all important services business.

The deal will see ADA handle the distribution of much of BMG's sound recordings, which include the catalogues of seminal indies like Mute, Skint and Sanctuary, as well as the output of frontline labels like Infectious and Vagrant, and any other acts that enter into one of those fashionable artist services deals with the BMG company.

As it has grown its sound recordings interests in recent years, BMG has formed alliances with a variety of distribution partners, some of which will continue to provide services to the firm, including Sony Music, [PIAS], Absolute and GoodToGo. But Warner's ADA will become the exclusive distribution partner for catalogue and a primary partner for new releases, with more and more tunes being punted their way as the months go by.

The deal was confirmed internally at BMG by CFO Max Dressendörfer, who wrote to staff that "as part of our development, naturally we constantly review all third party supply arrangements and I am delighted to be able to tell you of a substantial overhaul of our supply chain which will speed the route to market for hundreds of thousands of recordings and benefit our artist clients".

He went on: "The rapid pace of our growth in the past three years has led to our inheriting or acquiring more than 50 digital and physical distribution relationships around the world. This will now gradually fall to a handful as we consolidate with a small number of suppliers.
The biggest change is that ADA, Warner Music Group's independent artist and label services division, who already represent Rise Records, has signed an exclusive global distribution deal for BMG's catalogue recordings and will be a global partner on frontline releases, with some exceptions".

Bigging up the deal on Warner's side was boss man Stephen Cooper who said in an internal memo republished by Music Business Worldwide: "I am delighted to share the news that WMG and ADA have signed a major agreement with BMG, one of the world's most prominent music companies. ADA Worldwide has entered into an exclusive global distribution deal for BMG's recorded music catalogue. Further, we will be a global partner for BMG on frontline releases, with some limited exceptions".

Cooper's memo concluded: "With BMG's exciting new albums joining our release schedule, and their impressive catalogue creating some fantastic marketing opportunities, this partnership is an important global priority for ADA and WMG. Thank you, all of you, for making WMG the destination of choice for the best labels and artists. And thank you to everyone around the world who I know will be working hard to make this relationship a huge success".

Warner Bros A&R chief to run label as Miles Leonard focuses on Parlophone
Warner Bros Records UK has its own chief once again, its top exec having had dual roles within the wider Warner UK empire in recent years.

The label's UK A&R boss Phil Christie has been promoted to the role of President. He basically takes over from Miles Leonard, who has headed up both Warner Bros and Parlophone since Warner acquired the latter back in 2013. Leonard will now focus full time on the Parlophone division.

If you think that rejig underscores Warner Music's commitment to continually investing in its family of successful frontline labels, well, you have friends in high places. "Christie's appointment underscores the company's commitment to continually investing in its family of successful frontline labels", said the mini-major in a statement yesterday.

"This move marks the first time the Warner Bros Records UK label will have standalone leadership since 2008", it said. "As well as allowing Miles Leonard, who has occupied the dual role of Chairman for both Parlophone and Warner Bros Records UK for almost three years, to focus on the continued resurgence of Parlophone".

But enough of these anonymous statements, I hear you grumble, what does overall Warner Music UK chief Max Lousada have to say for himself? "It has always been our goal to build a family of distinctive, independently-minded frontline labels with their own unique cultures and creative identities", says he. "So I'm delighted that Warner Bros and Parlophone will each return to having sole leadership".

Leonard has "been instrumental in setting the direction for the future of Warner Bros Records here in the UK", he added, while "Phil is a really inspiring executive who, throughout his career, has signed some of the UK's most original acts and who has the energy, ideas and instincts to write the next chapter in the Warner Bros Records story".

What, he's got to write a biography of Warner Bros Records too? Good job they are giving the division is own full time chief then.

Crowdmix downsizes slightly in marketing team rejig
Every time I pop out for lunch on Shoreditch High Street I seem to bump into someone consulting for music-orientated social media whatnot thingy Crowdmix but - according to Business Insider - the digital start-up has just downsized about 8% of its approx 160 full-time staffers ahead of the service's planned launch, which had been tipped for next month.

Though the pre-launch streamlining does seem to be mainly the result of a rejig in the firm's marketing department ahead of the set-up going live, with new marketing and communication chiefs also hired, and a switch in marketing agencies being used by the LA wing of the social media business.

Confirming some of its marketing team had been let go, a spokesperson for the company told Business Insider: "Since Crowdmix's inception there has not been a single month where headcount hasn't moved in both directions. We fully expect this pattern to continue for the foreseeable future, which is in line with a fast growing early stage business".

On the marketing rejigs, the spokesperson continued: "We have invested in senior, more experienced talent which allows us to be more streamlined and effective in getting us to where we need to be, including Ted Mico as CMO who joined us this month from Mirriad. We have another three experienced exec leaders joining which we will be announcing in due course. We are excited about launching our app this summer".

  Approved: Annabel Jones
With her debut EP 'Libelle' due out on 6 May, Annabel Jones has released the video for latest single 'IOU'.

Following on from previous track 'Magnetic', a smart and simple blending of synth lines beneath Jones's relaxed but powerful vocals, 'IOU' steps things up a gear. That relaxed vocal is given a strong drum and bassline behind it this time, which does more to set her up as a proper popstar - particularly when coupled with the catnip-fuelled kitten frenzy video. Though Jones has her own ideas about what a popstar should be.

"You can't keep putting out meaningless noise and expect culture to grow or evolve", she says. "You can't refuse to put yourself out there and say what you think or feel because you won't get that Steve Madden shoe collaboration or a perfume at Macy's. It feels like many popstars have forgotten they carry responsibility. I don't want to make some-one feel empty. I want them to feel full of meaning".

Watch the video for 'IOU' here.

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"I am not a quitter", says AC/DC's Brian Johnson
Last month it was announced that AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson would have to bow out of the band's latest tour for the quite reasonable reason that performing the shows would mean he risked losing his hearing entirely. With Axl Rose now announced as his replacement for the remainder of the tour, Johnson has issued a statement giving further details, insisting that he is "not a quitter".

Saying that he felt previous press releases from the band had not "sufficiently set out" his hearing issues, he explains: "On 7 Mar, after a series of examinations by leading physicians in the field of hearing loss, I was advised that if I continue to perform at large venues, I risked total deafness. While I was horrified at the reality of the news that day, I had for a time become aware that my partial hearing loss was beginning to interfere with my performance on stage".

He continues: "I was having difficulty hearing the guitars on stage and because I was not able to hear the other musicians clearly, I feared the quality of my performance could be compromised. In all honesty this was something I could not in good conscience allow. Our fans deserve my performance to be at the highest level, and if for any reason I can't deliver that level of performance I will not disappoint our fans or embarrass the other members of AC/DC. I am not a quitter and I like to finish what I start, nevertheless, the doctors made it clear to me and my bandmates that I had no choice but to stop performing on stage for the remaining shows and possibly beyond. That was the darkest day of my professional life".

Having had several more consultations with doctors, it has been confirmed to him that, at least for now, "I will be unable to perform on stage at arena and stadium size venues where the sound levels are beyond my current tolerance, without the risk of substantial hearing loss and possibly total deafness". Feeling "personally crushed by this development" he says he "cannot imagine going forward without being part of that, but for now I have no choice".

However, he insists, "I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that. For the moment, my entire focus is to continue medical treatment to improve my hearing. I am hoping that in time my hearing will improve and allow me to return to live concert performances. While the outcome is uncertain, my attitude is optimistic. Only time will tell".

As previously reported, Rose will join the band for European dates starting next month. Then, following his summer tour with the reunited Guns N Roses, he and AC/DC will play the postponed US Shows from earlier this year.


Pearl Jam the latest band to boycott North Carolina
The live industry in North Carolina is faces continued uncertainty, as more performers protest against the state's controversial 'bathroom bill', which was recently passed into law. Earlier this week, Pearl Jam pulled out of a show in Raleigh with the "full support" of promoter Live Nation.

As previously reported, Bruce Springsteen cancelled a show in Greensboro, North Carolina earlier this month as a protest against the state's newly passed Public Facilities Privacy And Security Act, HB2 for short. Also know as the 'bathroom bill', the controversial new law dictates that transgender people must use public toilets associated with their birth gender, rather than that with which they now identify.

Acts such as Ringo Starr, Boston and Cirque du Soleil have also cancelled shows in the state, while Mumford & Sons, Cyndi Lauper and Laura Jane Grace have used performances there to raise money for groups fighting to have the law repealed.

Another artist choosing to go ahead with a planned show, Gregg Allman said in a statement earlier this month: "Although we, as a nation, have made progress in many areas, it's sad and infuriating that some, in 2016, are still working so hard to take the rights away from our brothers and sisters, as in the cases of 'bathroom laws' recently passed in North Carolina, discriminating against the LGBT community".

"I know that North Carolina is a state full of good folks and loyal fans, many of whom are angry about and feel misrepresented by this action", he continued. "My band and I will continue to play our show as scheduled there, and hope that our music unites people in this challenging time. We stand in solidarity with the LGBT community urging Gov McCrory to listen to the people and reverse this wrong".

Although echoing those sentiments, Pearl Jam said in a statement this week that they had decided not to go ahead with tonight's show, saying: "The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens. The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound. We want America to be a place where no one can be turned away from a business because of who they love or fired from their job for who they are".

"It is for this reason that we must take a stand against prejudice", they continued, "along with other artists and businesses, and join those in North Carolina who are working to oppose HB2 and repair what is currently unacceptable".

The band added that they would be donating money to local groups fighting the law, while Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino later tweeted that the band had the "full support" of his company in their decision to cancel the show.

With the short notice of these cancellations, the financial hit to the local live sector will be more significant than a simple boycott of the state at the bookings stage, as outlined in this Billboard piece.

At this point, non-refundable deposits on venues will have been paid, advertising dollars will have been spent by promoters, as well as other operational costs. Technical and venue staff will also lose income, as will the venues themselves and businesses that bank on revenue from passing concert-goers. Whether this holds any sway with North Carolina lawmakers remains to be seen.

Ivor Novello Awards nominations announced
The nominations for this year's Ivor Novello Awards have been announced. And before we go anywhere, I think you should know that Adele's name does not feature. It was decided that some other people wrote better songs. I know, what a snub. It's like she doesn't automatically have a right to be on the list just because she's commercially successful.

On the plus side, after the controversy about diversity at the BRITs this year, the Ivors' Best Contemporary Song category is dominated by rappers, including Skepta and Roots Manuva.

BASCA Chairman Stephen McNeff said of this year's nominees: "The Ivors were created to celebrate the best in British and Irish songwriting and composing. As we move into our 61st year BASCA is delighted that these nominations reflect the health and diversity of UK music and include a raft of first-time nominees alongside past winners. Congratulations to everyone represented here today".

And those nominees are:

Best Song Musically And Lyrically
Ed Sheeran and Rudimental - Bloodstream (Written by Piers Aggett, Kesi Dryden, Amir Izadkhah, Gary Lightbody, Johnny McDaid, Leon Rolle and Ed Sheeran)
Wolf Alice - Bros (Written by Ellen Rowsell)
Jamie Lawson - Wasn't Expecting That (Written by Jamie Lawson)

Best Contemporary Song
Snakehips feat Tinashe & Chance The Rapper - All My Friends (Written by James Carter, Oliver Lee, Cass Lowe and Chance The Rapper)
Roots Manuva - Cargo (Written by Fred and Roots Manuva)
Skepta - Shutdown (Written by Ragz Originale and Skepta)

Most Performed Work
James Bay - Hold Back The River (Written by Iain Archer and James Bay)
Jess Glynne - Hold My Hand (Written by Janée 'Jin Jin' Bennett, Jess Glynne and Jack Patterson)
Years & Years - King (Written by Michael Goldsworthy, Mark Ralph, Oliver Thornton and Emre Turkmen)

Album Award
Villagers - Darling Arithmetic (Written by Conor O'Brien)
Jamie XX - In Colour (Written by Jamie XX)
Gaz Coombes - Matador (Written by Gaz Coombes)

Best Original Film Score
Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury - Ex_Machina
John Powell - Pan
Cat's Eyes - The Duke of Burgundy

Best Television Soundtrack
Stuart Earl - And Then There Were None
Edmund Butt - From Darkness
Keefus Ciancia and David Holmes - London Spy

Some other awards will also be handed out on the day to pad the ceremony out. And that ceremony will take place at Grosvenor House in London on 19 May.

Capitol, AXS, Dice, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Universal's Capitol Music Group in the US has appointed a new Senior Director of A&R in the form of Chris York. He was most recently A&R Director for CMG's IRS Nashville unit.

• AEG's tickets business AXS has appointed ticketing industry veteran Gile Bayliss to the role of Business Development Director within its Europe division. "Relatively", says Bayliss. "Together", says his new boss Rob Byrne.

• Ticketing app Dice has appointed former Uber and Red Bull marketing man Sam Hancox to the role of Marketing Manager to help "expand and deepen Dice's offering as it prepares for UK and global expansion".

• The LA-based Musexpo conference is returning to the UK after a few years without a London edition via a partnership with Music Week. The event will return to the capital's Millennium Hotel from 18-20 Sep.

• Laura Mvula has released her new single 'Phenomenal Woman'. Inspired by a poem of the same name by the remarkable Maya Angelou, Laura says of the song: "I wrote this anthem to raise up our women".

• Róisín Murphy will release her new album, 'Take Her Up To Monto', on 8 Jul. Here's first single 'Mastermind'.

• Just Jack has released a new single called 'Alchemist'. It's taken from new EP 'Life Lessons', which is out on 6 May. Watch the video here.

• Deerhoof has released a new song. The new song is called 'Debut'. It is not their debut, but you should listen to it anyway.

• Joker has announced that he will release a new EP, 'The Phoenix', on 6 May. From it, this is 'No Face'.

• Broods will release their second album, 'Conscious', on 24 Jun. Here's the first single, 'Free'.

• Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor will play a solo show at Koko in London on 8 May.

• The Levellers are heading out on a UK tour in November and December this year to mark the 25th anniversary of their 1991 album, 'Levelling The Land'.

Rihanna denies knowledge of publicist who says she's angry about Tidal album launch
​Rihanna is "upset" about the handling of the release of her latest album 'Anti' through Tidal, said publicist Jonathan Hay last week. "Who is Jonathan Hay?" asks Rihanna this week.

"Tidal is lame", Hay told The Mirror. "It's embarrassing for Jay-Z. And now to see Kanye West do the Tidal album and his record doesn't chart, and then Rihanna's first week, it was a disaster. For Jay-Z to make his artists do this is so bad because this is affecting their legacy".

"Rihanna nor her team do not know this person and have never worked with him", a source told Digital Spy this week, when asked for comment. Though they should probably note that Hay seems to largely base his reputation on making her a success. He claims to have worked as a PR rep on her debut single, inventing a rumour that she was having an affair with Jay-Z to get her in the press.

Still, his latest claims appear to be mainly based on looking at the singer's Twitter account, which doesn't suggest that they are particularly close. "It's really crazy and I know for a fact Rihanna is upset about the Tidal thing and you can see it when you go to her Twitter", he said. "She is a Tidal owner, but on her Twitter to pick up her album, she uses a Google+ app not Tidal. That's her shooting back because Jay-Z is just making a mistake".

While it is the case that official first week sales of 'Anti' were 460 in the US, 1.4 million downloads were given away for free via a deal with Samsung. The album subsequently went to number one on the Billboard chart. Latest single 'Work' also broke Rihanna's personal record for highest number of consecutive weeks at number one in the US, and helped her pass The Beatles for total number of weeks at number one. So, yeah, it's gone dead badly.

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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