TODAY'S TOP STORY: Ah, the European Union. Remember that? What a crazy idea that was. Anyway, competition regulators in Europe could decide by 1 Aug whether or not to green light Sony Corp's plan to take complete ownership of its Sony/ATV music publishing powerhouse. Both Warner Music and indie-label repping IMPALA have seemingly raised objections to the deal... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Lola Colt are set to release their second album, 'Twist Through The Fire', on 1 Jul, and yesterday put out the video for new single 'Moonlight Mixing'. A step away from the rolling psych of previous single release 'Gold', the song sees the band put their spin on 60s pop. It's also very much a track with two different sonic stories to tell. The version now publicly available... [READ MORE]
CMU TRENDS: Premium subscribers can now access CMU Trends reports for each of the presentations we presented at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape last month - looking at building a more skilled music business, the industry's relationship with YouTube, tracking digital dollars and the transparency problem, and the physical market in 2016. CLICK HERE to read them, and CLICK HERE to go premium for £5 a month.
CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review the week in music and the music business, including lots of letters about the value gap and what it might mean for artists, the closure of ATP's live events company and cancellation of ATP Iceland, Guvera’s IPO being blocked, and the recruitment of an all new Take That. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES European Commission set to rule on the Sony/ATV deal in August
LEGAL Eleven people claim to be heirs of Prince at court hearing
Judge approves Happy Birthday settlement, basically making the song public domain in US
Decapitated ask fans to buy t-shirts to fund legal action
DEALS Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner announces debut solo album, signature guitar
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES LyricFind announces deal with Google
Uber announces a Pandora tie up
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU@TGE: Who the hell is buying all these CDs?
GIGS & FESTIVALS 65daysofstatic announce tour dates
ONE LINERS Rihanna, Mike Posner, Lethal Wilson, more
AND FINALLY... Stars of Kanye's Famous video not especially happy
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European Commission set to rule on the Sony/ATV deal in August
Ah, the European Union. Remember that? What a crazy idea that was. Anyway, competition regulators in Europe could decide by 1 Aug whether or not to green light Sony Corp's plan to take complete ownership of its Sony/ATV music publishing powerhouse. Both Warner Music and indie-label repping IMPALA have seemingly raised objections to the deal.

As previously reported, Sony/ATV was a long-term joint venture between Sony and Michael Jackson, or more recently the Michael Jackson Estate. Back in March, Sony Corp confirmed it had reached a deal to buy the Jackson Estate out of the publishing company which - because it also controls and administrates EMI Music Publishing - is the biggest music publishing business in the world.

With Sony Corp already owning the world's second biggest record company, it's not surprising rivals lodged protests about the entertainment conglom further expanding its interests in the songs business. The EC's competition regulator has now confirmed its initial investigation is underway, with 1 Aug set as a provisional deadline for ruling on the deal.

The Commission could in theory block the whole thing on competition law grounds - ie it makes Sony too dominant in the market - but it is more likely to call for concessions, which usually means forcing the acquiring company to sell some of its prize European assets to rivals.

Shortly after Sony announced its intention to take complete ownership of Sony/ATV, IMPALA's Helen Smith told Bloomberg: "It's difficult to imagine how the Sony/ATV deal could get any kind of green light from the European Commission. Just three years ago the EC effectively set a limit when it already said Sony was too big and had to divest assets".

Smith was referring there to the Commission's decision when it investigated the Sony-led acquisition of the EMI music publishing company in 2012.

Back then, Universal's purchase of the EMI record company seemed to get more scrutiny, possibly because there were other investors involved in Sony's bid for the publishing business, and maybe because in Europe - on the publishing side - the power of the collecting societies reduces the power of the publishers to an extent. Though nevertheless, Sony still offered to sell off a couple of catalogues to get that deal green lighted.

It remains to be seen whether any such concessions will be required this time round. If the deals goes through, the Jackson Estate will pocket $750 million, some of which will be used to pay off the late king of pop's lingering debts. The Estate will retain its stake in EMI Music Publishing as well as Mijac Music, which controls Jackson's personal songwriting assets.

Eleven people claim to be heirs of Prince at court hearing
Representatives for eleven potential heirs of Prince took their seats in a Minnesota courtroom yesterday at a hearing designed to finalise the process for confirming each claimant's case for being a blood relation of the late popstar.

According to Billboard, the eleven claimants include the musician's sister Tyka Nelson and the five step-siblings she identified in her initial probate filing. She and four of those step-siblings were personally in attendance yesterday.

Other claimants include two other people who say they are step-sisters of Prince, two women whom claim to be the musician's niece and grand-niece, and a man who claims to be his son. The latter was represented at yesterday's hearing despite an Associated Press report that his DNA test had already shown there was not, in fact, a family link.

Those who are deemed rightful heirs of Prince will get a share of his fortune - valued at somewhere between $100 million and $300 million - as well as a say over how his catalogue - both released and unreleased - and legacy is managed moving forward. Legal reps for Nelson and the originally listed step-siblings urged the judge to reach a speedy conclusion on which of the eleven were legit heirs, stressing that decisions needed to be made about the Prince estate sooner rather than later, as well as adding "the family needs some closure".

There is still some legal wrangling to be done. Nelson et al back a proposed plan by the trust overseeing the estate for working out who is a legitimate heir, firstly through paperwork and, if necessary, through genetic testing. But the lawyers repping other claimants raised issues not so much with that process, but with the trust's interpretation of Minnesota probate and parentage law. Things are not quite as straight forward as the trust is saying, said some of the lawyers in the room.

Aware of the demand for speed from some claimants, but also the need to get this right first time, the judge said that there would now be a two week period for evaluating all the competing arguments.

As previously reported, Prince left no will when he died in April. A legal rep for the trust overseeing the estate confirmed administrators had searched thousands of boxes in four separate locations looking for a will and found nothing. "There's no indication that a will exists", said the lawyer. "We have basically now looked under every box lid".


Judge approves Happy Birthday settlement, basically making the song public domain in US
'Happy Birthday' is now very close to being a public domain work in the US, after a judge approved the previously reported settlement between Warner's music publishing business and previous licensees of the famous song.

As previously reported, it was believed the lyrics to 'Happy Birthday' were still in copyright in the US, where songs from the early 20th century are subject to legacy copyright terms rather than the now more common life-of-the-creator-plus-seventy-years rule.

However, a film-maker who produced a documentary about the song came up with various arguments as to why 'Happy Birthday' was actually out of copyright Stateside, resulting in litigation with its publisher, Warner/Chappell, which had acquired ownership of the song in the 1980s.

Many of the arguments were never fully tested, however a court did rule that the two sisters who wrote the song never actually assigned the rights in the specific 'Happy Birthday' lyrics to the publishing company Warner bought.

Following that ruling, Warner announced a settlement in which it will accept the song is public domain in the US and set aside $14 million to refund people who had paid to use the song in America. But that settlement needed court approval.

Yesterday it got it, with judge George H King saying the settlement seemed reasonable and there was no reason it should not proceed. Though there is still a little legal wrangling to be done regarding the attorney fees to be paid by the publisher, with Warner's lawyers due to respond to a proposal on that front by 12 Jul.

Technically things aren't totally official until that last matter is resolved, but nevertheless, that's basically 'Happy Birthday' now public domain in the US. Let's all have a sing song. Well, you Americans can, there's a few months still to go over here where the 70 year rule still applies.


Decapitated ask fans to buy t-shirts to fund legal action
We've written and talked a great deal about the rise of direct-to-fan as a way for artists to build a more sustainable income. Using it to crowdfund legal action though, that's a new one. Polish death metal band Decapitated have asked fans to buy a limited edition t-shirt in order to help fund a lawsuit against their former label, Earache.

The band claim that they have not received any royalties from the label since fulfilling their record contract in 2006. The following year their tour bus was involved in an accident, which resulted in the death of drummer Witold 'Vitek' Kiełtyka and left vocalist Adrian 'Covan' Kowanek in a coma. Initially disbanding, the band reformed in 2009, and released their fifth album, 'Carnival Is Forever', through a new deal with Nuclear Blast in 2011.

The band say that the need to pursue legal action now is down to "ongoing disputes with the label regarding these unpaid royalties and contested breaches of contract".

In a video addressing fans, guitarist Waclaw 'Vogg' Kiettyka says: "We have, as a band, fulfilled all of the requirements on the contract. We recorded four albums, promoted them, played shows etc. However, [Earache] haven't paid a penny in royalties since the deal ended ten years ago. For that reason, we have decided to begin legal action against the label. In order to raise the funds for the legal proceedings, the lawyers and so forth, we're issuing a limited edition t-shirt".

Watch Kiettyka'a video here.

Earcahe has not yet commented on the threat of legal action.

Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner announces debut solo album, signature guitar
Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner has signed two new deals - one with Partisan Records for her debut solo album under the name Flock Of Dimes, the other with Reverend Guitars for her own signature guitar.

In a blog post to accompany the announcement of the guitar, Wasner writes that her relationship with the instrument has actually been a strange one. As Wye Oak began to get more popular, she noticed more people commenting on the fact that she could play guitar quite well.

"Sounds fine on the surface, I guess", she writes. "Imagine, though, that you're on tour, and every single night you play with a different group of dudes who are truly  -  objectively!  - equally or more capable at the instrument than you are. And no one draws any additional attention to them  - it is taken in stride. Meanwhile, time and time again, you are fawned over like a child who's just taken her first steps".

This ingrained sexism towards female guitar players caused her to begin to move away from her chosen instrument, which is partly why she was initially unsure about accepting the offer made by Reverend.

"At first, I balked", she writes. "I think this is because, to me, the 'signature guitar' was the realm of the soulless shredder  - impressive, sure, but you're missing the point. It represented the elevation of pure chops over invention, emotion, innovation, and truth. It was in direct opposition to everything I stood for! It wasn't until my partner pointed out that perhaps this association is in part because so few women have been given the opportunity to do this sort of thing that I realised I couldn't say no".

The guitar was designed with April Camlin, who has also worked on the visual side of Wasner's Flock Of Dimes project. The album is due out later this year. Watch a very brief teaser video for the project here.

LyricFind announces deal with Google
LyricFind has announced a new deal to provide licensed lyrics within Google Search and Google Play Music.

"We're happy to expand the depth and quality of lyrics available on Google's services", says LyricFind CEO Darryl Ballantyne. "We're working together to make lyrics available to a larger audience in a faster and more efficient way".

The company represents over 4000 publishers for online lyric licensing, including all three majors and Kobalt, and has deals in place with companies including Deezer and Shazam. And earlier this month LyricFind announced an expansion into Brazil via a partnership with independent distributor Tratore.


Uber announces a Pandora tie up
Pandora has followed Spotify in announcing an alliance with those Uber types. It means Uber drivers in the US will be able to get themselves a personalised Pandora stream from within their driver app - and for six months with no ads and unlimited skips for free. After six months they'll either have to start paying or tolerate some advertising.

As with Spotify's tie up with Uber, announced in 2014, eventually punters will be able to get in on the act, so that they will be able to force their Pandora streams into their driver's ears via his or her car speakers. Good times.

Says Bob Cowherd, Uber's Senior Product Manager For Music And Media, which is an actual job at a company that runs a taxi market place: "It can be challenging to find high quality music that both drivers and riders love - without radio ads and interruptions to the music. This integration will make it easier for drivers and riders to listen to the music they love".

CMU@TGE: Who the hell is buying all these CDs?
Look out for insights, advice and viewpoints dished out at this year's CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conference here in the CMU Daily throughout June and into July. This week, some of the takeaways from the physical products strand.

In our first dive down into the 'CDs! Vinyl! T-shirts! Who the hell is buying this stuff?' strand, we look at the discussion that followed CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke's presentation on the physical market - as covered in this CMU Trends article here. Speaking to representatives of both music retail and the labels, we asked why the CD market has remained stronger than expected in the UK and what the future holds.

Part of the public perception that the CD is dead has been driven by the media, reckoned BPI boss Geoff Taylor. "[The media is] only interested in what's new, and therefore there's such a strong narrative of digital taking over and the CD disappearing that it forgot a lot of the great characteristics of the CD. It's not a fluke that the CD's been around for 30 years or more".

Although he conceded that the record industry itself should take some blame for leading people to believe that the CD was a product with no future. "The industry was criticised so badly from the early 2000s onwards for being resistant to technology and for not embracing the internet that I think our own narrative became obsessed with being seen to be progressive", he said. "BPI were probably as guilty of that as anybody. You know, showing that the industry was preparing itself for its future. I think that was really important, but we stopped talking about physical and how great physical is".

Of course, the narrative now is that vinyl is the be all and end all when it comes to physical product, but again this misses the core of what is actually happening in the physical market, says founder of Brighton independent record shop Resident, Natasha Youngs.

"For a lot of people, vinyl is prohibitively expensive", she said. "People have spent years building up their collections, and by nature we are creatures of habit. I know the industry is constantly looking for new, new, new all the time, but people have collections already that they just want to add to. They're casual buyers and they don't want to start a whole new collection again with vinyl. We see a lot of people who are just dipping into buying and want something that they feel familiar with at a price that is really comfortable for them. You can still buy brand new CDs for £10. It's an easy price point for people to manage".

"A lot of music fans in this country are quite casual music fans", agreed Taylor. "Some of them may be ready to make the leap over into £120 a year Spotify subscriptions, but not all of them. One of the advantages of physical that people tend to forget about is that you only spend money when you really want to spend money on something, and the rest of the time you don't spend any money. There are lots of consumers who want to behave like that".

"I don't think there's ever been a time when the simple sound of music was enough for people", added HMV's John Hirst, on physical's continued appeal. "There's always been an element of joining in, or buying a stake in an artist you love or a label you love, and digital quite simply comes up short on that front. For a lot of people, and particularly young people, that's still very important".

"It's a process of building up an identity for young people", continued Proper Music Distribution's Vangel Viaski, on the same point. "We forget the psychological element of projecting outwards your personality, what you like, what you dislike, and belonging to a tribe as well. It's identity-forming, and I think the physical element of it is quite crucial".

Viaski also added: "I think as an industry we should stop the divide in the perception of digital music and physical music. We're always talking about how physical is fighting digital in terms of percentage and market share and all that, but I think it's one big landscape that's very symbiotic".

While people maybe building physical collections alongside digital consumption, there's still the matter of what drives CD sales. Taylor and Hirst both suggested that this Christmas could be a big one for music, as the rise of film and TV services like Netflix has had a more profound effect on DVD sales than music streaming has had on CDs and vinyl.

"A huge part of the industry is people buying CDs for other people", said Hirst. "Q4 is such a huge part of the industry and people aren't buying CDs for themselves there, so when Little Mix sell 200,000 CDs in six weeks, the majority of those aren't self purchases. It's as much about what people think their kids want, as much as what kids want themselves. If kids were disappointed [by this], it would have stopped by now, after ten years of kids being disappointed people would have learned not to give their kids CDs".

"I think it's an opportunity for people to be part of the fans' campaign, where they physically hold something in their hand", said Youngs. "If they download the album they don't feel that they are physically part of that band. I still see masses of it, people coming in on the day of release or over the weekend, and they are so excited that they can be part of the release of that album, and they can do that through a CD".

Changes to how retailers operate - both on the high street and in independent stores - has also had a profound effect on the market. HMV's administration triggered something that should have happened long previously, said Hirst: shutting down stores that weren't pulled their weight. Had rivals also seen this, they might also be around today too.

"The big change for HMV [since administration] is the attitude that we will manage our estate in line with the performance of the market, and I think that's something that the industry didn't really do", he said. "The impact of those shops going, particularly Virgin, I think accelerated the decline of the physical market massively, and I think a lot of people forget about that. For those last few years, to be perfectly honest, we weren't carrying any catalogue because we didn't have the money to buy it. It's only since we came out of administration that we've been able to carry a full range again. I don't think it's any coincidence that the market stabilised at the same time as that".

He conceded that this couldn't be put entirely down to HMV though, saying that independent shops are now far better than they used to be: "Going into an independent record shop is a much more pleasant, exciting experience than it used to be. Record shops used to be staffed by arseholes - you can't afford to be an arsehole anymore".

"A lot of independent record shops were kind of operated almost by hobbyists", said Youngs, somewhat more diplomatically. "It was a thing you could do just for love really. The way that the industry's changed now, you have to sit in front of a spreadsheet a lot of your day. That's what running a record shop is these days. A lot of things that go with running a business now just didn't suit a lot of independent record shops. That's why a lot of them went. It wasn't just to do with the industry, the change in product. It was to do with a lot of things. Including rent, which never gets mentioned. What we're left with now is a lot of people running them as businesses and working bloody hard to do so".

While UK music retail does seem to have stabilised in recent years somewhat, there is now a new digital competitor other than downloads and streams: the rise of direct-to-fan, with artists and labels selling CDs and vinyl direct to fans via their websites.

"Quite often it'll be that we build the band up through singles and their first album, and then the second album is made available direct to fans online", said Youngs. "It's a constant battle, someone will come in and say, 'I heard there was a blue vinyl version of this', and I'll have to say, 'Well, there is, but unfortunately you'll have to buy it from the band's website'. We're constantly all fighting for the same sales".

Though this is not always the case, she said, holding up the release campaign for Radiohead's new album in particular. "It was all inclusive, everyone got something", she said.

Defending the labels, Taylor added: "Labels don't see themselves as retailers, and they do want to do things in partnership, and they realise they need the expertise of the retailers. It's really complicated. There are debates around exclusives and windowing. The labels are trying to work out what's even the right order to release things. Two years ago, the labels were really pushing digital, but now they really understand the multi-channel nature of the market".

  Approved: Lola Colt
Lola Colt are set to release their second album, 'Twist Through The Fire', on 1 Jul, and yesterday put out the video for new single 'Moonlight Mixing'. A step away from the rolling psych of previous single release 'Gold', the song sees the band put their spin on 60s pop.

It's also very much a track with two different sonic stories to tell. The version now publicly available is a blast of powerful pop that clocks in at less than three minutes. The still under wraps album version, meanwhile, stretches itself out to more than seven minutes, manoeuvring through different themes and sounds before a final explosion of guitar and drums.

The band will be touring the UK in July too - full dates to be found here - and you can ready yourself for the full attack of their sound with the short version of 'Moonlight Mixing' 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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65daysofstatic announce tour dates
65daysofstatic have announced that they will be heading out on tour later this year. They've also announced that the release of their previously reported soundtrack album for videogame 'No Man's Sky' has been pushed back to 5 Aug.

Announcing the European shows, while also having a little comment about the results of last week's EU referendum in the UK, the band's Paul Wolinski says: "'No Man's Sky' is a project about a borderless universe of infinite possibility. It's certainly a brighter future to imagine than the one our little country just thrust upon Europe".

He goes on: "We are always excited to be able to come and play shows in mainland Europe, now more than ever. Let's get some anti-fascist international solidarity going on and not let the demagoguery drag us down to the oblivion it has planned for us. See you on the road. Unless our passports are no good anymore".

Yeah, now our editorial policy of only publishing UK tour dates looks really small-minded. Thanks Paul. You can find all the dates here, but these are the ones in the UK:

14 Nov: London, Islington Assembly Hall
15 Nov: Bristol, Marble Factory
16 Nov: Sheffield, Plug
17 Nov: Newcastle University
18 Nov: Glasgow Art School

Here's a new track from 'No Man's Sky', 'Red Parallax'.

Rihanna, Mike Posner, Lethal Wilson, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Slipknot's Sid Wilson and DJ Lethal, formerly House Of Pain and Limp Bizkit DJs, have teamed up to form Lethal Wilson. No music yet, but they have a Facebook page.

• Rihanna's released a new song called 'Sledgehammer', written for her by Sia and taken from the soundtrack of 'Star Trek Beyond'. Listen on Spotify here.

• Mike Posner has a new single out, 'Be As You Are (Jordan XL Remix)'. This is its video.

• Lowell will release new EP 'Part 1: Paris YK' on 26 Aug. From it, this is 'High Enough'.

Stars of Kanye's Famous video not especially happy
Hey, so that Kanye video's gone down well then. Everyone represented in it is dead chuffed that the rapper would consider them for his big budget version of 'photoshopping heads onto naked bodies'.

Let's start with Taylor Swift, with whom West had already fallen out over lyrics in the song suggesting that she might have sex with him because he "made that bitch famous". A source now tells HollywoodLife that she feels "livid", "horrified" and "betrayed" over her 'appearance' in the video, lying naked next to Kanye himself.

A source told the same website that Rihanna wasn't best pleased either, saying: "Ri doesn't appreciate laying in the same bed as George Bush or Donald Trump. She'd rather lay next to the devil while drink boiling hot water in hell than to share sheets with either of those two".

You'd think she might also be angry about her waxwork being placed next to a lookalike of Chris Brown. The former boyfriend convicted for beating Rihanna up and leaving her unconscious in the street merely commented that West is "talented, but crazy".

Ray J, who 'appears' in the video lying next to West's wife Kim Kardashian was apparently worried about the effect the video would have on his engagement to be married. "My fiancée tripping", he told Entertainment Tonight. "It's all bad in my world, and that ain't cool. Don't put me part of nothing that's weird, that don't make no sense".

In case you forgot who he was, there is a sextape online featuring Ray J and Kardashian. And you might think this pop video might be slightly less of a problem than that. His manager Wack 100 certainly thinks so, telling TMZ: "If they didn't show Ray J with his dick in Kim Kardashian's mouth, then tell Kanye to go back and reshoot that shit".

He sounds like a nice guy, doesn't he? And this seems like an appropriate time to bring in comedian Lena Dunham, who does not appear in the video but is a friend of Swift's. She described the video yesterday as "one of the more disturbing 'artistic' efforts in recent memory".

"Make a statement on fame and privacy and the Illuminati or whatever is on your mind", she said, addressing West. "But I can't watch it, don't want to watch it, if it feels informed and inspired by the aspects of our culture that make women feel unsafe even in their own beds, in their own bodies".

Finally, a rep for George W Bush reportedly said: "In case there was any doubt, that is not President Bush [in the video]. He is in much better shape".

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.
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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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