TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Entertainment Retailer's Association has welcomed the reports that Universal Music top man Lucian Grainge has officially discouraged the major's labels from doing exclusivity deals with specific streaming platforms around individual album releases. As discussed yesterday, the use of album exclusives by the likes of Tidal and Apple Music to build market... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Back in 2012, synth guy Danalogue The Conqueror and drummer Betamax released an album as Soccer96. It was very good. The following year, they formed The Comet Is Coming with saxophonist King Shabaka (also of Melt Yourself Down and Sons Of Kemet), after he appeared on stage during one of their gigs with no prior warning. And earlier this year they... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES ERA welcomes Universal's possible exclusives ban, as speculation about Frank Ocean release strategy continues
LEGAL Specifics of Blurred Lines appeal filed with court
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Believe buys French indie Naïve out of administration
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Chuka Umma becomes ambassador for PRS For Music Foundation
MEDIA SpinMedia is up for sale, if you want it
ARTIST NEWS Prince's Paisley Park to open as museum in October
RELEASES Empire Of The Sun announce third album
Agnes Obel announces new album, Citizen Of Glass
ONE LINERS Bucks Music Management, Sharon Van Etten, DJ Shadow, more
AND FINALLY... Mariah Carey probably didn't throw a laptop out of a window
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ERA welcomes Universal's possible exclusives ban, as speculation about Frank Ocean release strategy continues
The UK's Entertainment Retailer's Association has welcomed the reports that Universal Music top man Lucian Grainge has officially discouraged the major's labels from doing exclusivity deals with specific streaming platforms around individual album releases.

As discussed yesterday, the use of album exclusives by the likes of Tidal and Apple Music to build market share has been controversial in some quarters, even if it's a strategy that does seem to have worked for the DSPs to an extent. Some see the locking of big album releases to single digital platforms as being anti-fan, and of ultimately damaging the wider streaming market, in that it annoys paying subscribers - the record industry's best customers - who happen to have signed up to the wrong streaming service.

Following the rumours that Grainge had instigated an exclusives ban at Universal, ERA CEO Kim Bayley said yesterday: "We have long believed that a level playing field is the key to healthy competition in the entertainment market".

And this means no exclusives, she said. "The premium music streaming sector has grown rapidly with a clear promise to consumers that they can effectively access all the music they might want for a single flat fee per month. [But] the proliferation of exclusives means consumers are effectively forced to take out multiple subscriptions to gain access to all key releases. We believe this is damaging not just to individual services but to the market as a whole".

Bayley concluded: "We welcome reports that Universal is now moving away from exclusives and call on other labels to follow their lead".

Of course, as also noted yesterday, even if the record companies do adopt a 'no exclusives' policy, the sorts of big name artists who the streaming services actually want exclusivity deals with often have the power to force their labels' hand, with a number of the exclusivity arrangements already seen in the streaming domain being as much management as label led.

And, of course, you have big name artists who are free agents. Universal's apparent exclusives ban follows the latest big release exclusive, with Frank Ocean providing two new albums to Apple Music last week. Ocean was signed to Universal, and the first of those releases - the special 'visual album' - was put out by the major, but the second, the main album, was actually a self-release.

There is now much speculation as to how that happened, in that it seems that Ocean may have cleverly fulfilled his contractual obligations to the major with the pre-release release, allowing him to then self-release and fully control his long-awaited and much anticipated second album proper. Some wonder whether his deal with Apple facilitated that process, either by providing funds to allow Ocean to buy himself out of his contract with Universal, and/or by providing assurance that the singer could release the record without the weight of a Universal marketing campaign behind him.

Either way, even if all the labels were to be officially down on streaming exclusives, there would still be some big name artists able to pull off of deal one way or another if a digital service were to make it worth their while. And, indeed, if Apple Music is willing to continue writing exclusivity deal cheques, there may be more big name artists who are free agents, able to make such arrangements without involving a label at all.

Artists may also come to feel that locking their music to one platform short changes their fans, which might make such arrangements less and less attractive, whatever money or marketing an Apple Music offers. If Ocean's manoeuvres result in legal action from Universal, which some reckon they might, then artists in contract with a label may be less willing to take on a record company in order to get their way.

Though, if the Frank Ocean sneaky pre-release release thing does result in litigation, perhaps Apple Music - what with its recent move into documentary making - could try to score the exclusive rights to covering that.

Specifics of Blurred Lines appeal filed with court
And so round two of the 'Blurred Lines' legal battle officially begins. Legal reps for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke have submitted an initial filing to the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals in their bid to overturn last year's ruling that concluded 'Blurred Lines' ripped off Marvin Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up'.

As expected, much of the filing focuses on copyright law technicalities regarding what elements of 'Got To Give It Up' were actually protected. The legal dispute focused on the song, not the recording, and under US law only the core composition of the Gaye work, as filed with the country's Copyright Office, enjoys copyright protection, not extra elements that may have been added in the studio. Lawyers for Thicke and Pharrell always argued that any similarities between 'Blurred Lines' and 'Got To Give It Up' came from these extra elements, not the core composition.

The judge hearing the initial case generally agreed with Thicke and Pharrell on this point, though during the trial itself he arguably wasn't particularly strict in ensuring that legal reps for the Gaye family didn't discuss and present elements of 'Got To Give It Up' not protected by copyright. Certainly that's what the 'Blurred Lines' writers are arguing now in their bid to have the jury's ruling set aside.

Their lawyers note that the judge correctly banned the famous version of 'Got To Give It Up' from being played in court, on the basis not all elements of the song as heard in that recording are protected by copyright, but, they say, "the court erroneously allowed the Gayes' experts to testify about the sound recording anyway, including by playing their own musical excerpts based on the sound recording".

And, the legal filing adds, "the court then instructed the jury that it could consider all this testimony in its substantial-similarity analysis, failing to instruct them to consider only the protectable elements of the copyrighted work and indeed pointing them explicitly to elements omitted from the deposit copy".

Similar limitations regarding what, exactly, had copyright protection applied in the recent 'Stairway To Heaven' plagiarism case, in which it was ultimately decided that the Led Zeppelin song was not sufficiently similar to the work the band were accused of ripping off. The lawyers for Thicke and Pharrell note this, saying that in that trial the judge correctly briefed the jury on the copyright complexities.

Says the legal papers: "The importance of instructions that correctly filter out unprotected elements in popular music cases is illustrated by the jury's non-infringement verdict in the recent case involving Led Zeppelin's song 'Stairway To Heaven'. There, unlike here, the district court identified specific musical elements that were not protected by the plaintiff's copyright and directed the jury to 'disregard' such elements in assessing similarity".

It remains to be seen how the next phase of the 'Blurred Lines' action progresses, with this week's legal filing noting that the matter is of concern to the wider music community, who still wonder what precedent last year's ruling may have set.

Talking of 'Blurred Lines', if you happen to be in Edinburgh, CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke will be discussing the song - but more why he thinks it should have been banned by British radio - at 'Chris Cooke's Free Speech', which he is delivering tomorrow and Saturday morning at 10.30am at the Edinburgh Fringe. Free tickets are available for the event, which is being recorded for future podcast, at

Believe buys French indie Naïve out of administration
Digital distribution firm Believe has acquired the assets of French independent record company Naïve, which fell into administration back in June. The deal, which was approved by the commercial court in Paris yesterday, is thought to be worth about ten million euros, and will see Believe take on the indie's core operations and catalogue, though not its debts.

Believe's bid for Naïve was backed by the label's staff, of which 25 will stay on with the company. Confirming its acquisition yesterday, Believe said that it will rely on this team to make a success of the Naïve roster and catalogue, while the new parent company will "offer its expertise in the digital business, its global presence in 30 countries, its physical and digital distribution network and its investment capacity with full respect to the editorial line that made Naïve successful: musical diversity, nonconformity, artists with global reach, close relationship to the artists and transparency".

Set up by former Virgin France boss Patrick Zelnick in 1997, Naïve was a high profile indie in the French market, with Zelnik both vocal and active in the French and wider European indie label communities. Despite many successes over the years, the company had faced various financial challenges in recent years, downsizing quite a bit before finally going into receivership earlier this summer.

Chuka Umma becomes ambassador for PRS For Music Foundation
Labour MP Chaka Umma has been named as a new ambassador for the music-community-funding PRS For Music Foundation. He'll go around telling everyone that we should support a diverse range of music in the UK and help it to get out into the wider world. Like a dick. Just kidding, that sounds great. I am in favour. Let's hope he can get a seat on the train while he's going around telling everyone that.

Getting a kickstart on all that positive talk, Umma says in a statement: "I'm excited to become an ambassador for the PRS For Music Foundation. Music has been such a big part of my life, and part of the fabric of our community. I went to my first gig at the Electric in Brixton to see Soul II Soul in 1991. Brixton was the birthplace of David Bowie, the inspiration for the Clash's 'Guns Of Brixton' and Eddy Grant's 'Electric Avenue', and a favourite jamming spot for Jimi Hendrix. Today, the bars and cafes along Streatham High Road regularly host new artists who are trying out new material and honing their craft".

Thanks for the history lesson. He goes on: "Our community embraces our rich diversity and heritage to make it a melting pot of musical sounds and cultures from all corners of the globe. I look forward to supporting the excellent work of the PRS For Music Foundation to help support the next generation of musicians breakthrough".

Is the PRS For Music Foundation actually pleased to have him on board though? You bet. Here's exec director Vanessa Reed: "We're very excited to have Chuka as an ambassador for the Foundation. As Chuka is very supportive of the UK's music scene and is always ready to speak out on important issues such as diversity, which are only just beginning to be fully acknowledged across the creative industries".

"Chuka's involvement as an ambassador will resonate with those who know about Chuka's own passion for electronic music whilst helping us to champion both the creative and business impact of the diverse talent we're funding", she adds. "We're grateful for his help and support".

By the way, if Chuka was here right now, I'm sure he'd tell you that the deadline to apply for the next round of funding via the PRS For Music Foundation managed Momentum Fund is 15 Nov. Details here.

SpinMedia is up for sale, if you want it
SpinMedia, the US-based firm that operates an assortment of music and entertainment websites, including the current output of iconic music magazine Spin, which it acquired in 2012, is up for sale, according to the New York Post.

Despite acquiring some established music titles, SpinMedia has seemingly struggled to make its online media empire deliver in terms of revenue, with the Post citing sources as estimating the company could be currently losing about $5 million a year.

Investment bank Petsky Prunier has reportedly been hired to seek potential bidders, who would also be buying up websites like The Friskly, Idolator, Go Fug Yourself, Celebuzz, Buzznet and Death & Taxes.

An existing web or media player would be the most likely contender to buy the firm. It's thought broadcaster Univision had expressed some interest, before it bought up various websites out of the bankruptcy of the Gawker company, though it seemingly decided not to proceed with any formal bid.

  Approved: Soccer96
Back in 2012, synth guy Danalogue The Conqueror and drummer Betamax released an album as Soccer96. It was very good.

The following year, they formed The Comet Is Coming with saxophonist King Shabaka (also of Melt Yourself Down and Sons Of Kemet), after he appeared on stage during one of their gigs with no prior warning. And earlier this year they released their debut album, 'Channel The Spirits', which is also very good and is up for this year's Mercury Prize.

All of which might lead you to believe that Soccer96 is a project left dead and buried in the past. Why am I writing this then? Well, because you are wrong. Dead wrong. On 23 Sep, the second Soccer96 album, 'As Above So Below', will be released. And sticking to a theme, it is very good.

"Our aim was to monitor the effects on the conscious mind when accelerating musical elements at great velocities into high energy collisions", say the duo of their latest creation. "We took specific genre plasm and begun to create sonic compounds with completely alien properties. Avant-garde, hip hop, electronic, pop, prog, jazz and psychedelic particles have been mixed together at an atomic level".

The fuck does something like that sound like? Well, listen to first single 'Megadrive Lamborghini' here to find out.

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Prince's Paisley Park to open as museum in October
Prince's Paisley Park home will be opened to the public as a museum in October, it has been announced. Providing public tours of the 65,000 square foot complex is something the musician was already working on at the time of his death, his estate says.

From 6 Oct, members of the public will be invited into the building to be guided around the studios, private club and concert hall, and will see some of Prince's personal items, which are housed inside.

"Opening Paisley Park is something that Prince always wanted to do and was actively working on", says Prince's sister Tyka Nelson in a statement. "Only a few hundred people had the rare opportunity to tour the estate during his lifetime. Now, fans from around the world will be able to experience Prince's world for the first time as we open the doors to this incredible place".

Fans have been calling for the building to be turned into a museum since the musician's death earlier this year, so they'll be pleased. There were concerns over the future of Paisley Park earlier this month, when it appeared on a list of properties that the trust managing the star's estate were seeking court permission to sell. Though said trust then denied it had any intent on selling this particular site.

Tickets for the museum will go on sale tomorrow at Shortly after it opens its doors for the first time, Prince's family will hold an official tribute concert at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on 13 Oct.

Empire Of The Sun announce third album
Empire Of The Sun will release their third album, 'Two Vines', on 28 Oct. The album features pianist Henry Hey and bassist Tim Lefebvre from David Bowie's 'Blackstar' band, Wendy Melvoin from Prince's Revolution and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham.

Of the inspiration for the new album, the duo's Nick Littlemore says: "There was an image we talked about very early on with this record, before we wrote the title track, 'Two Vines', and that was this image of a modern city overtaken by jungle, almost like mother nature taking back the planet. All the buildings will turn back to sand. All it will be nature again. We wanted to make something that reflected the beauty of that".

His partner Luke Steele adds of their decision to record in Honolulu: "Going to Hawaii to record was the best idea. That was the catalyst for me. I'd spend the morning surfing then roll in and make music into the night".

Well, don't they have a nice life? Here's a track from the album, 'High And Low'.


Agnes Obel announces new album, Citizen Of Glass
Agnes Obel has announced that she will release her new album, 'Citizen Of Glass', through Play It Again Sam on 21 Oct. She'll preview tracks from it at an invite-only show at Hoxton Hall in London on 13 Sep.

"There's an increasing sense in this world that you have to make yourself into a citizen of glass", Obel says of the title. "To be willing to open up, to let everybody see you, to use yourself as material, and not just if you're an artist or a musician. Everything about our lives these days seems to be about revealing the private self, the self in every little detail. It's the new way we're meant to embrace".

"I worked with the title from the very beginning to push myself to do new things", she continues. "I wanted to push the glass theme throughout the songs in different ways - in the lyrics, in the instruments - to do things in a very new way. As an album, it feels bigger to me, a lot bigger".

Here's the video for recent single 'Familiar'.

And if you can't get an invite to that Hoxton show, here are some dates that are open to the general public:

26 Nov: Bristol, Anson Rooms
27 Nov: London, Shepherds Bush Empire
29 Nov: Birmingham, Town Hal
30 Nov: Manchester, Albert Hall

Bucks Music Management, Sharon Van Etten, DJ Shadow, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Bucks Music's newish management unit has signed producer Dan Weller and production duo Artery Music. "Being able to add Dan Weller and Artery Music to the Bucks Music Management roster is a big step forward early on in the company's history", says Anthony Hippsley, who is leading the music publishing firm's move into artist management.

• Sharon Van Etten has released new single 'Not Myself' in tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting earlier this year. Proceeds from the sale of the track on Bandcamp will go to the Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund.

• DJ Shadow and Run The Jewels have released the video for 'Nobody Speak'. It answers the question, 'What if these lyrics were the basis of political debate?'

• Angel Olsen has released the video for 'Sister', taken from her new album 'My Woman', which is out next week.

• Enter Shikari will release a live album on 4 Nov featuring their Alexandra Palace show from earlier this year. From that very show, here's 'Redshift'.

• Thundercat has released a new single, 'Bus In These Streets', billed as "a comedic ode to our dependence on technology".

• Kishi Bashi has released the video for new single 'Hey Big Star'.

• Coinciding nicely with them being in the news this week, Sleigh Bells have announced that they will release their new album, 'Jessica Rabbit', on 11 Nov. From it, this is 'Hyper Dark'.

• Akala will release new album 'Ten Years Akala' on 23 Sep. Here's new single, 'Giants'.

• MJ Hibbett And The Validators have put together a video for new single 'The 1980s How It Was' using the photographs taken by Chris Porsz that inspired it.

• Ela Orleans has announced her seventh album 'Circles Of Upper And Lower Hell'. From it, this is 'You Go Through Me'.

• The Kenneths are releasing a new EP called 'Double N' on 30 Sep. Here they are confirming that news, if you don't believe me.

• The Comet Is Coming will be heading out on tour this winter, including a date at XOYO in London on 15 Nov. Here are all the dates.

• The full line-up of headliners for this year's Apple Music Festival, which will take place at London's Roundhouse next month, has been announced. Performing this year will be Elton John, The 1975, Alicia Keys, OneRepublic, Calvin Harris, Robbie Williams, Bastille, Britney Spears, Michael Buble and Chance The Rapper.

Mariah Carey probably didn't throw a laptop out of a window
In an old job I used to have, I used to joke that the reason we couldn't open the windows in our office was the stop us all from throwing the crappy laptops they gave us out of them*. That's just the sort of wit that makes me a delight to work with. And it's also one of the many ways Mariah Carey and I are similar, in that we both haven't thrown any laptops out of any windows.

But that's not what gossip website The Fix was claiming earlier this week. It wasn't alleging anything regarding me chucking a laptop out of a building - so full marks for accuracy there - but it did say that Carey recently threw fiancé James Packer's laptop out of a window because he played a Beyonce song on it.

"To get her in the mood last month, he turned on 'Crazy In Love', and oh boy, was that a disaster", an anonymous source told the website. "Mariah threw the computer that was playing it via speakers out the window! Seriously, just trashed it. She ran out of the room screaming. So the night was obviously finished for James, and they retreated to separate parts of the house. And she had a few glasses of wine to cool down".

It's not just Beyonce who's music is banned when Carey is in the house, added the source. They went on: "He put on five bars of [Jennifer Lopez's] 'Waiting For Tonight', and Mariah coughed out her courgette at dinner, so James made a beeline for the Spotify and immediately put on Mariah's greatest hits! He has learned never, ever to play another female artist in the house. It's either Mariah, jazz or classical!"

I'll tell you what, it's a real shame this source is anonymous, because they deserve full credit for adding the detail about the courgette there. It was worth making this whole thing up just for that.

Because it is all made up, you know. A spokesperson for the singer told GossipCop that the whole story is "false". It's not clear whether or not Carey and Packer have eaten courgettes together, though. Or whether she has switched from calling them zucchinis out of respect for his Australia heritage. Maybe it's the other way around. Why is no one asking these important questions?

* It was actually to do with ensuring the efficiency of the air condition system, something I understand Mariah Carey is a big fan of.

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 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 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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