TODAY'S TOP STORY: Dutch collecting society Buma/Stemra has announced it will phase out most of the discounts it offers concert promoters that secure public performance licences from the rights body. A 5% discount will remain for promoters who stage more than 25 shows a year and pay more than 100,000 euros in annual royalty fees into the society. Discounts or rebates... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Jay Daniel has previously had releases on Theo Parrish's Sound Signature Records and his own label Watusi High, and now his debut album 'Broken Knowz' is coming out through Ninja Tune's Technicolour imprint. This LP apparently involved Daniel heading into his mother's basement to do some music making, taking his output more analogue by recording... [READ MORE]
CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the Culture Select Committee session on ticket touting in Parliament, Duran Duran testing the reach of America's copyright reversion rule, and Prince's label suing Tidal over the streaming of the late star's catalogue. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
CMU TRENDS: We all know that the story of recorded music over the last fifteen years has been the shift from CD to download to streams, and from a sales model to a subscription model. It's easy to think that we are now in the final chapter of that story, though perhaps we're only half way through. We review where we're at as 2017 approaches. CMU Trends articles are available to premium subscribers... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Buma/Stemra to phase out controversial discounts for concert promoters
LEGAL Wantickets sues Eventbrite in dispute over former employees
Tidal hit with discrimination and unfair dismissal lawsuit
LABELS & PUBLISHERS BPI report puts the spotlight on AI in music
CD Baby buys
MEDIA BBC boss wants to build "Netflix of the spoken word"
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd publishes autobiography
ARTIST NEWS Elton John not playing Trump's inauguration party, no matter how confidently you say he is
ONE LINERS Nina Nesbitt, Sweden Rock, Cliff Richard, more
AND FINALLY... Vanilla Ice On Ice on ice
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Buma/Stemra to phase out controversial discounts for concert promoters
Dutch collecting society Buma/Stemra has announced it will phase out most of the discounts it offers concert promoters that secure public performance licences from the rights body. A 5% discount will remain for promoters who stage more than 25 shows a year and pay more than 100,000 euros in annual royalty fees into the society.

Discounts or rebates provided by collecting societies in some European countries to concert promoters have proven controversial of late in parts of the artist management community, partly because of a lack of transparency, especially when monies pass from one society to another through reciprocal agreements before a songwriter is paid.

Promoters of live music need a public performance licence from whoever controls the copyright in the songs which are performed at a show. That licence is normally acquired from the promoter's local song rights collecting society - so PRS in the UK - which will usually charge an industry-standard rate.

The society then passes the money the promoter paid back to relevant songwriters and music publishers, either directly if the rights owners are members of said society, or via another society if not - so, for example, if a Dutch promoter stages a show by a British singer-songwriter, they would get a licence from Buma/Stemra, which would collect the money and pass it over to PRS, which would then pay the songwriter their cut.

Some British managers expressed concern that Buma/Stemra - and others - were offering concert promoters discounts, meaning ultimately their clients would receive less money from PRS, but that discount wasn't declared by the promoter when the artist was discussing budgets and fees for the show. Therefore the artist would agree to terms with the promoter under the impression they'd be getting full rate rather than discounted public performance royalties through their collecting society.

The discounts offered by Buma/Stemra to promoters ranged from 10% to 25% depending on the amount of royalties a live firm was paying into the society. According to IQ, collecting societies in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and France offer similar discount or rebate schemes, arguing that the kickbacks are dependent on certain conditions that make the royalty collecting process more efficient.

However, from next year, the Dutch society will only offer the new 5% discount, which will come with specific payment and reporting requirements. A more weighty discount for festivals will also be offered. Meanwhile, the rates the society charges live events - which vary from 3-7% depending on how much Buma/Stemra-repped repertoire is performed - will remain unchanged.

The society has told IQ that the new arrangement follows consultation with all stakeholders and has been approved by the CvTA, which regulates collective management organisations in the Netherlands. It adds that the new arrangement is "completely transparent, and creates a level playing field for all promoters, venues and festivals".

The discounts offered to promoters by collecting societies in some countries - coupled with confusion over exactly how that is all working, especially when monies move between societies - have led some artists to opt for direct licensing when on tour, a move that has in turn proved controversial in some parts of the live industry.

In that scenario, an artist temporarily removes their live performance rights from their collecting society, and instead enters into a direct deal with a promoter to cover the public performance rights in their songs. That has created challenges for collecting societies where a headline artist performing their own material chooses to license direct, but support acts are still relying on their collecting society to license, or may perform songs they didn't write.

Which is all good fun, isn't it? Premium subscribers should look out for a CMU Trends article explaining how this all works in the new year.

Wantickets sues Eventbrite in dispute over former employees
Ticketing firm has sued rival Eventbrite through the New York courts over the latter's hire of the former's founder and one-time CEO. As previously reported, those hires - Barak Schurr and Diego Carlin - who joined Eventbrite back in July, were themselves sued by their former company in September.

Back then, Wantickets CFO Richard Blakely claimed that his firm had actually been in talks to sell to Eventbrite at one point, but the deal fell through. As another buyer was then found for the company, Blakely alleged, it was discovered that Schurr and Carlin had been working for and promoting Eventbrite, even while still being on the Wantickets payroll. That discovery led to the two execs basically being fired, he said.

Schurr and Carlin denied that version of events, though. The former said that, while there had been conversations with Eventbrite about a possible acquisition, "at no time during this process was I moving business from Wantickets to Eventbrite".

He added that there was no scandal around his and Carlin's departure from Wantickets, with Blakeley telling the two execs that the firm's new owners simply wanted to put their own management team in place. It was only then, Schurr insisted, that he started talking to Eventbrite about taking his dance music expertise there.

It was initially thought that the September legal action targeted Eventbrite itself, though it transpired only Schurr and Carlin were being sued. Until now. Repeating the allegations Blakely made against his former employees, the new lawsuit against Eventbrite then says, according to Amplify: "[Eventbrite] was eager to take advantage of the disloyalty of Mr Schurr and Mr Carlin".

It goes on: "Eventbrite pitched itself to potential clients via the introductions from Mr Schurr and/or Mr Carlin, knowing that Mr Schurr and Mr Carlin were still employees of Wantickets and that Mr Schurr's and Mr Carlin's diversion of business violated their duties to Wantickets. Eventbrite even paid for Mr Schurr to take a business trip to Ibiza, Spain so that he could develop business for Eventbrite".

To that end, Wantickets is suing Eventbrite for "aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and tortuous interference".

For its part, Eventbrite denies any wrongdoing whatsoever, with a spokesperson telling CMU this morning: "It's a competitive industry, and competing fairly is of critical importance and central to our ethics at Eventbrite. We maintain that we have not engaged in any wrongdoing or inappropriate conduct. We dispute Wantickets' allegations and intend to defend our position".


Tidal hit with discrimination and unfair dismissal lawsuit
Streaming firm Tidal has found itself at the wrong end of yet another lawsuit, this time a discrimination and unfair dismissal case, after an employee, who was a new mother, was allegedly denied the use of a private room to use her breast pump.

Lisette Paulson claims that she was denied her rights under the US constitution and New York state law. Initially brought in as a consultant, Paulson's lawsuit says that she was then taken on as a full time employee after her maternity leave.

Upon returning, in September 2015, she discussed a number of matters with COO Deiree Perez, including requiring a private room to use her breast pump. Perez allegedly replied that she should use the toilet. When told that this would not be suitable, Paulson was asked if it was strictly necessary to use the breast pump at all. Despite assurances that it would be worked out, the next day Paulson was fired.

US maternity leave is different from that in most other industrialised nations, in that women are only granted twelve weeks of unpaid leave by law after the birth of their child. Although if you work for Tidal rival Spotify, you do get a somewhat better deal.

Paulson is seeking unspecified damages, as well as legal costs. She is also demanding a jury trial.

BPI report puts the spotlight on AI in music
Artificial intelligence is set to revolutionise the world and enhance the lives of everyone. Either that or it will render humanity entirely redundant and the species will eventually die out. Though given recent world events, perhaps that'll be for the best.

But what about all this bloody AI gubbins and the world of music making? That's what a new report launched last night by record industry trade group BPI, and produced by Music Ally, sets out to explore.

Investigating uses of different kinds of AI technology by established musicians and music companies, and start-ups dabbling in the space, the report considers developments in AI-driven music composition and video creation, the ongoing evolution of machine-driven music recommendation tools, how artists and music firms are employing increasingly sophisticated 'chat bots', and how smart voice assistants like Siri and Alexa are set to become "our de facto musical concierges around the home and in the car".

Launching the report, BPI boss Geoff Taylor said: "Artificial intelligence is no longer the province of science fiction. This fast-emerging technology is beginning to transform how music is created, discovered, shared and enjoyed".

He went on: "AI is enabling the creation of hyper-personalised playlists using contextual data and deep analysis of the relationship between songs, while artists and labels are now using chatbots to engage fan-bases in campaigns. Algorithms are also beginning to influence the composition of music, as artists embrace the technology to enhance their own creativity. This raises profound questions about the nature of music and humans' connection to it".

Bigging up initiatives already being pursued by record companies in this domain, some of which were showcased last night, Taylor concluded: "Music's DNA is closely entwined with technology and record labels are already exploring how AI can help to bring artists and fans closer together".

You can download the new report here.

AI will also be under the spotlight at next week's Music 4.5 event, which will also consider how the music industry is utilising other fast developing technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D audio and content recognition software.

Reps from MelodyVR, BBC, Audio Network, IBM and Sonalytic are among those set to present at the event, tickets for which can be bought here. Premium CMU subscribers will also get an overview of each of those technologies from a music perspective in next week's CMU Trends.


CD Baby buys
Music distribution firm CD Baby has acquired digital music marketing platform As part of the deal, it also plans to reactivate Soundrop, the one-time social listening app that previously worked within the Spotify player.

Similar to acquisitions by rival TuneCore, most recently of social media management set-up JustGo, CD Baby's new purchase is part of a bid to provide a wider range of services to the self-releasing artists whose music it distributes., which provides content sharing and data collection tools for artists and labels, will continue to operate as normal. The marketing platform originally spun off from Soundrop, before the people behind the two services decided to focus on the former after Spotify stopped supporting third party apps on its desktop software.

CD Baby now plans to launch an all-new Soundrop service, which will "become the new springboard for artists looking for an alternative distribution approach, one that favours constant creation and single-first strategies".

Says CD Baby VP Of Marketing Kevin Breuner: "We're excited to continue's powerful marketing tools for musicians. It's another set of tools we can offer to the independent musicians we have worked to support and encourage for years. We see this as another high-calibre way to serve musicians and give them the best of what's out there, [and] for existing customers it will be business as usual".

Meanwhile the former CEO of and Soundrop, Jørn Haanæs, added: "We are very happy to see a new home for and a new future for the Soundrop brand. Soundrop and were both about helping artists connect with their fans. To finally see the last part of our original vision take effect is wonderful. Entering into music distribution was always the dream, as that's the ultimate fan connection, now it's soon to be the reality".

BBC boss wants to build "Netflix of the spoken word"
BBC boss Tony Hall has said that the broadcaster is currently not making the most of its "world class" audio content, and to that end he wants to build a "Netflix of the spoken word" to make new and archive radio content available worldwide, presumably in return for a subscription fee.

Speaking to the Voice Of The Viewer And Listener lobby group, Hall said: "With our world class content, we could use our current output and the richness of our archive to create a Netflix of the spoken word. One of my goals in the years ahead is to strengthen and expand those areas in which we really lead the way globally. News, natural history and drama, yes. But also education, science and the arts. And audio".

"One of the big challenges I have set my teams is just that: to enhance our global audio offer", he continued. "The BBC makes the best radio in the world. It is one of our crown jewels, and we have an extraordinary wealth of audio riches at our disposal. It's one of the things that will help the BBC carry the full weight of Britain's culture and values, knowledge and know-how to the world in the years ahead. And say something really important about modern Britain".

Ah, modern Britain. Wouldn't you like something important said about that? It's not clear if the "Netflix of the spoken word" would contain music between any of the words, something that would add a whole load of extra licensing challenges for getting such a service off the ground.

Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd publishes autobiography
The memoir of Flying Nun Records founder Roger Shepherd, 'In Love With These Times', has been published in the UK by HarperCollins.

Shepherd founded the New Zealand indie label in 1981, putting it at the forefront of what became known as the 'Dunedin sound'. Acts like The Clean and The Chills went on to influence numerous guitar bands around the world, and still have a fervent fanbase. After the indie became wholly owned by Warner Music in 2006, Shepherd and a consortium of investors, including Neil Finn, then bought it back in 2013. The company then partnered with New York indie label Captured Tracks on a series of reissues.

Discussing how the book came about, Shepherd told CMU: "A friend of mine had this documentary idea that was to be based on my personal perspective as the founder and owner operator of Flying Nun Records. But film industry advice was that the success of such an approach was dependent on a strong and interesting central character. Being the shy and introverted type I knew that it wasn't going to work unless I sat down and wrote my story about Flying Nun and my relationship with the bands that I have worked with since 1981".

"Having completely forgotten about the film idea I then spent a considerable amount of time staring out the window desperately trying to remember what had actually happened, but eventually there was self-discovery as I stitched my past together, reconnected with the music and finally made sense of my life", he continues. "It's a story of awkward talent, chance, chaos and madness all made worthwhile by a beautiful soundtrack".

Watch a Q&A about the book with Shepherd and Graeme Hill of former Flying Nun band The Able Tasmans here.

  Approved: Jay Daniel
Jay Daniel has previously had releases on Theo Parrish's Sound Signature Records and his own label Watusi High, and now his debut album 'Broken Knowz' is coming out through Ninja Tune's Technicolour imprint.

This LP apparently involved Daniel heading into his mother's basement to do some music making, taking his output more analogue by recording into a multi-track mixer for the first time, and aiming for a less mechanical touch to his music production.

He says he wanted "to sound more live, more natural, and more human", and I think it's fair to say he's achieved that.

Highlights are the funky multi-beat driven 'Knowledge Of Selfie' and the spiralling tech amid the afro-polyrhythms of 'Squeaky Maya'.

Listen to 'Knowledge Of Selfie' 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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Elton John not playing Trump's inauguration party, no matter how confidently you say he is
Everything's so much easier in post-truth politics, isn't it? You can say anything you like. It doesn't matter if it's true or ever likely to happen, the important thing is that some people thought it was. Who cares if Elton John is actually playing Donald Trump's inauguration as US president? I know I don't.

"Elton John is going to be doing our concert on the Mall for the inauguration", Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci matter-of-factly told BBC News show 'Hardtalk' this week. It was a line thrown in to support another statement that "Donald Trump will be the first president in US history that enters the White House with a pro-gay rights stance".

"Incorrect", a spokesperson for the musician told the New York Times. "He will NOT be performing".

"There is no truth in this at all", added a statement to the BBC.

Scaramucci defended himself on Twitter, saying: "It was an honest impression that I got wrong. It was a fast paced interview and you can see I thought it was true".

Yeah, why would you not think that a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter who previously described Trump as "a barbarian" was playing the inauguration concert?

Oh my god, could this be America's Bpoplive?

Nina Nesbitt, Sweden Rock, Cliff Richard, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Nina Nesbitt has signed a new global artist services deal with Cooking Vinyl, ready for her new album, which is out next spring. "Working with the Cooking Vinyl team feels like a big step in the right direction", says the musician.

• Live Nation has taken a majority stake in Swedish rock festival the Sweden Rock Festival. Live Nation's John Reid is "very excited". Or that's what he told Billboard, anyway.

• Cliff Richard is having a crack at the Christmas number one spot this year - you know, for old time's sake - with a new extra Christmassy version of 'It's Better To Dream', from his new album 'Just... Fabulous Rock N Roll'. The physical CD release will double as a Christmas card from Cliff himself.

• McFly are releasing a new live album recorded on their 'Anthology' tour. A limited edition boxset will feature full live versions of each of their studio albums, plus a bonus disc of nothing but between-song banter, and some other bits and bobs. Here's an over the top video taking a look inside the box.

• Princess Nokia has released a new track, 'Kitana', produced by Atrak and Lex Luger.

• Health have released the video for 'LA Looks', taken from their latest album, 'Death Magic'.

• Three Trapped Tigers drummer Adam Betts has released videos of himself performing his full new album, 'Colossal Squid'. If you want to see him actually live in the same room as you, head down to the Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston on 29 Nov.

• Meilyr Jones has released a new single, a new recording of 'Return To Life' from his debut album '2013'.

• Adele has announced that she will close her '25' world tour with two performances at Wembley Stadium next year. She'll play the venue on 29 Jun and 1 Jul, with tickets on sale on 30 Nov.

Vanilla Ice On Ice on ice
I think we're all breathing a deep sigh of relief that 2016's terrible reign will soon be over. It's still got a few slaps to the face left for us to endure though. Just when you thought you could take no more, possibly the greatest event ever programmed has been cancelled. Vanilla Ice will no longer be performing on ice in London next month.

A concept so simple it's hard to believe that no one had thought of it before, the rapper was set to appear at Alexandra Palace's ice rink for three shows just before Christmas. Fans would have been able to watch the rapper perform hits like 'Ice Ice Baby', that one for 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2', and some other stuff included to fill a reasonable amount of time, all while skating around on the ice.

Announcing the show earlier this year, promoter Peter Taylor of Cuffe And Taylor said: "'Vanilla Ice On Ice' is going to be a truly unique experience giving people the chance to skate during the concert. Vanilla Ice is a firm favourite with people of all ages and since his appearance on 'Dancing On Ice' he clearly has a passion for ice-skating. We're sure that these three nights of concerts are going to be hugely popular and a fabulously fun way to start the festive period".

What has 2016 taught us though? Never be sure of anything. Because we apparently live in a world where Vanilla Ice can't even sell enough tickets to fill an ice rink for three nights. I blame Brexit. And probably Donald Trump. Either way, all three shows have been cancelled.

In a statement this week, Cuffe And Taylor said: "This decision [to cancel 'Vanilla Ice On Ice'] has not been taken lightly but despite much excitement about the show, ticket sales have not been as we anticipated".

On the plus side, the ice rink will still be open, so feel free to skate around rapping your favourite Vanilla Ice hits in his absence.

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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