TODAY'S TOP STORY: SoundCloud has revamped its premium offering by putting a £5.99 option (or $4.99 in the US) onto the menu. The lower priced version will offer much of the functionality of the £9.99 SoundCloud subscription service, but less music to choose from... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Aadae makes a strong impression with her debut single, 'River Of Tears', mixing pop and Afrobeat into a sound that instantly stands out. "I describe my sound as a pop lover's take on the classic Afrobeat form", she says. "It was always important to me that my music told my story. Whatever I do has to represent my British upbringing as well as my Nigerian heritage". [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU PODCAST: CMU Insights recently presented two sessions at the Output conference in Belfast focused on how artists can get more media coverage and drive more streams. Look out for edited highlights of both sessions in a special edition of the CMU Podcast going online very soon. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU TRENDS: The death of the record company has been predicted many times in the last fifteen years. Yet, in 2017, most artists still work with a record company - or a business that looks rather like a record company - in one way or another. As Music 4.5 considers what 'The Record Label Of The Future' might look like, CMU Trends reviews where we're at. CMU Trends articles are available to premium subscribers. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES SoundCloud launches £5.99 subscription package with less content
LEGAL Virginia lawmakers seek to limit anti-touting measures in the state
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner/Chappell boosts dance music credentials with A&R hire
LIVE BUSINESS Singapore Guns N Roses show promoter admits numerous issues, but refuses refunds
Data driven gig planning platform Stagelink plots US expansion
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Dubset raises $4 million
Sammy Andrews launches Deviate Digital
GIGS & FESTIVALS Michael Kiwanuka announces October tour
ONE LINERS Sony, Warner, Lorde, more
AND FINALLY... Ed Sheeran may have scuppered Future's hopes of a US number one hat-trick
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SoundCloud launches £5.99 subscription package with less content
SoundCloud has revamped its premium offering by putting a £5.99 option (or $4.99 in the US) onto the menu. The lower priced version will offer much of the functionality of the £9.99 SoundCloud subscription service, but less music to choose from.

SoundCloud was relatively late to the subscription party of course, putting its SoundCloud Go option live last year after long drawn out negotiations with the music industry to secure licensing deals.

Both SoundCloud and its label partners hoped that the digital firm might be able to convert some of its massive freebie userbase into paying customers, partly by putting ads on the free service to annoy everyone, and partly by offering premium subscribers access to the millions of tracks that the bigger labels had been endeavouring to keep off the SoundCloud site while it was still an unlicensed set-up.

SoundCloud's shift into advertising and subscriptions - over and above its original business model of charging the content creators a fee to host their tracks on the platform - was partly about placating the music industry which, like with YouTube, recognised the marketing value of SoundCloud, but increasingly saw it as a competitor to the royalty generating streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. But it was also about generating new revenue streams for cash-strapped SoundCloud itself.

While there are no official figures for sign-ups to SoundCloud Go, the general consensus is that it had a relatively lacklustre launch. The introduction of the £5.99 tier, therefore, could be seen as a second attempt to convert those freebie users into paying customers. The hope being that the lower price point makes it more attractive, possibly to those SoundCloud customers who are already Spotify and Apple Music subscribers, who might be persuaded to pay £6 a month for extra functionality, but who don't want to pay the full £9.99 simply to access major label content they get via their existing streaming service.

That said, if that is the target audience, £5.99 might still be too high a price point. Indeed, psychologically speaking, the difference between £5.99 in the UK and $4.99 in the US could be significant, the former somehow seeming much less attractive for what is basically an enhanced functionality package rather than a content offer.

Nonetheless, SoundCloud's introduction of the £5.99 tier - which labels and artists can seemingly opt in or out of as they please - is interesting given the widespread belief that future growth of the streaming market depends on the industry offering some cheaper options for more causal music consumers alongside the existing £10 a month arrangements.

The challenge, of course, is working out what those cheaper subscription offers look like, given the fear that if they are too good all your current £10 a month subscribers will downgrade, so that the streaming market might generate less revenue overall.

Confirming the launch of the lower cost subscription service, SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung said this morning. "By expanding our offering, we not only enhance the experience for listeners on the platform, but also unlock new revenue opportunities to further expand our creator-payout programme".


Virginia lawmakers seek to limit anti-touting measures in the state
While lawmakers in various countries look into new ways to regulate all the ticket touting facilitated by the increasingly dominant secondary ticketing platforms, those mavericks in the state legislature of Virginia are basically attempting the opposite.

Last week the state's House Of Delegates passed the Ticket Resale Rights Act, which prohibits concert promoters from denying someone admission to an event because they have bought their ticket from a tout. The new law also seeks to stop the use of ticketing methods designed to limit touting, such as locking a ticket to the credit card used to buy it.

Defenders of the secondary ticketing market have, in the past, argued that a ticket is simply a product and people should be allowed to buy and resell products if they so wish. But those who oppose touting often counter that, actually, a ticket is a contract between the promoter and the original buyer, and that contract usually includes a term that says the agreement is non-transferrable. Therefore the ticket becomes void if the buyer attempts a transfer, because they are in breach of contract.

This is how promoters can cancel tickets that they know to have been resold on the secondary market. However, under the Ticket Resale Rights Act promoters in Virginia wouldn't be allowed to cancel a touted ticket in that way, whatever the terms and conditions of the ticket may say. Doing so could result in a fine of up to $5000.

The locking of tickets to credit cards - one tactic for trying to restrict touting - has been criticised by some politicians and consumer rights groups before, not because it seeks to limit touting, but because it creates problems for consumers if the credit card holder who bought the tickets can't actually attend the show on the night, or indeed if they bought the tickets for someone else and never intended to be there in person.

The Virginian delegate behind the Ticket Resale Rights Act, Dave Albo, has generally defended his new law on consumer rights grounds of this kind, rather than seeking to defend the rights of industrial-level touts to resell tickets on the free market. Though the measures have been criticised by many in the live community because they also limit the tactics artists and promoters can use to try and stop the industrial touts from buying up tickets to their shows.

Somewhat ironically - given that Live Nation's Ticketmaster has been criticised by many in the artist community over its secondary ticketing services - it is efforts by Ticketmaster's primary ticketing business to restrict the resale of tickets that have come under particular fire by supporters of Albo's new law.

Those supporters include the US lobbying group NetChoice, which counts StubHub owner eBay as a member. Its Executive Director Steve DelBianco wrote in a recent op-ed piece for the Washington Post that: "Virginians deserve to have safe and easy ways to buy, sell and give away their sports and concert tickets. Yet, Ticketmaster is focused on requiring fans to purchase 'credit card entry' tickets which require fans to present the credit card used to buy the ticket plus a government-issued identification card for the person who bought the ticket".

Of course, some of those trying to restrict the touts also recognise that anti-touting solutions still need to let customers who want to transfer tickets to friends to do so. And that there needs to be a way for those who bought tickets to a show genuinely intending to go, but who then can't attend, to sell their tickets on. Having an approved face-value resale platform for each show is one of the ways that promoters can help in that regard.

In many ways, Albo's new act in Virginia is simply trying to ensure that customers have those options under law. But in doing so, it will also make it harder for promoters in the state to limit the industrial touting of tickets, which will mean more tickets for in-demand events going for hiked up prices on the resale sites. Which is hardly good for the consumers the act seeks to defend.


Warner/Chappell boosts dance music credentials with A&R hire
Warner/Chappell has boosted the dance music credentials of its UK A&R team by hiring Anne Wester from Boiler Room TV to be an A&R Manager. Wester brings her media and club promotions background to the Warner music publisher, having also previously worked in a digital role at Universal in Sweden.

Says her new boss, Warner/Chappell UK MD Mike Smith: "It's our mission to provide best-in-class service to our songwriters, and that means having the best people in every genre on our team. Anna's fantastic knowledge and deep experience in the electronic and dance arena make her a tremendous addition to our A&R crew. Great songs are at the heart of the best dance music, and the UK is home to some of the greatest artists working in the field today, so I'm delighted to welcome Anna into the Warner/Chappell family".

Wester herself adds: "Warner/Chappell has a reputation for exceptional devotion to its songwriters and producers, and I'm THRILLED to come on board as the company expands its commitment to the electronic and dance community. I'm looking forward to helping Warner/Chappell provide a great home for the most creative and inspired talent from across the globe. I want to thank Mike for this wonderful opportunity".


Singapore Guns N Roses show promoter admits numerous issues, but refuses refunds
Guns N Roses played their first ever show in Singapore on Saturday, although it did not go entirely to plan. It wasn't Axl Rose's fault this time, though. Promoter LAMC Productions has admitted to a string of errors leading to numerous problems on site, but stopped short of issuing refunds.

Ticketholders complained of long queues for food and drink, and transport on and off the Changi Exhibition Centre site. There were also issues with pre-paid credits on RFID writsbands, which many found themselves unable to use for cashless purchases on site after food and drink in one area ran out.

Admitting the problems, LAMC's Ross Knudson told The Strait Times that "maybe it was too big for us".

Getting into details, he said: "We needed a lot more staff, buses, [food and beverages], and to manage the site better. We needed a lot more help from the police, the Land Transport Authority and SMRT [public transport]. I want to apologise for that. It's a very big endeavour and a very challenging venue to do a show there, but I don't want to make excuses. We're not going to be refunding tickets, but we apologise".

On issues with the RFID wristbands he added that the company is "trying to embrace new technology" but should have "launched the wristband with the ticket at the very beginning instead of trying to force it at the last minute".

Elsewhere, the company that provided hardware for scanning tickets distanced itself from the problems that occurred at the event's entry points, saying that it had made enough scanners available but that there were not enough staff on hand to operate them. "SDP did not feel that six entry queues ... would be adequate for an event of over 30,000 people", said a spokesperson for the company. "However, it is the final decision of the organisers and their team to follow or ignore our recommendations".

Despite all the issues, Knudson said his company remains committed to Changi Exhibition Centre as a music venue - it having only hosted one live music show before, a Metallica concert in 2013 also promoted by LAMC. "It's a very challenging place, but it has tremendous potential to be the best concert venue in the whole region", he said.

The good news is, Guns N Roses did play. Although there were also complaints about the quality of the sound.


Data driven gig planning platform Stagelink plots US expansion
A German firm that calls itself a "fan-powered tour promoter" is opening an office in the US for the first time as it seeks to crack the American market.

Stagelink taps into fan data to help artists, especially those with a large YouTube or online following, to plan and promote live activity. Or, in its own words, it "crowdsources live events for internet stars [by] leveraging millions of online followers to create successful shows and tours for 21st century artists. Artists and managers track fan-driven, real-time demand to plan, pre-finance, and de-risk tours, while reaching highly engaged audiences".

And who wouldn't want to "de-risk" a tour? A new seven figure investment round is enabling the expansion of Stagelink, which will open an office in Santa Monica, California.

Says the firm's CEO Nikolas Schriefer: "Coming to the US is an important step for Stagelink's growth. Our analytics and promotion technology is able to predict ticket sales with an accuracy of 90%. Thus, Stagelink offers content creators a risk-free opportunity to organise unforgettable live events for their fans and generates additional revenue through ticket and merchandise sales".


Dubset raises $4 million
That thing that's aiming to sort out the distribution of unofficial mixes and remixes to the streaming platforms, Dubset, has raised $4 million in funding, via an investment round led by Cue Ball Capital.

"Cue Ball's leadership in this investment round, and strong participation from the music and venture capital community, validates our approach and strong belief that artists deserve to be fairly compensated for the use of their content", said Dubset Media CEO, Stephen White. "DJs are the ultimate curators and hundreds of millions of music fans all over the world are hungry for their mixes and remixes".

"We look forward to being able to make this amazing content available at scale", he continued. "Our investors are a diverse group that share our belief that the music fans who love mix and remix content are a massively underserved audience who will benefit immensely from our work at Dubset".

As previously reported, Dubset has had deals in place to pump content into Spotify and Apple Music since last year.


Sammy Andrews launches Deviate Digital
Former head of digital at Cooking Vinyl Sammy Andrews has announced that she will officially launch a new digital agency, Deviate Digital, tomorrow. She will be joined by former CV colleagues Rose Lawrence and Chris Oygarden, and has backing from Tileyard founder Paul Kempe.

"It's a world class team and to have such an incredible array of talent at our core straight out the doors is a wonderful place to start this new adventure", says Andrews. "We have also started a collective network of some of the world's most dynamic and forward thinking companies to ensure our clients have access the very best technological advancements in all areas, ranging from blockchain to virtual reality/augmented reality and data insights".

She continues: "It'll probably come as no surprise to those who know me that the idea with Deviate is not your standard agency. The clue is in the name really but we feel now is the time to push the limits of innovation and convention with this new venture. Whilst we'll use tried and tested methods that work, what really excites me is the ability to go beyond that, to dare to look past the norm and provide industry leading digital advisory to the entertainment industry and beyond".

The launch of the company will see Andrews step back from her executive role at Entertainment Intelligence, the data and analytics firm she has worked with over the last year. However, she will remain a non-executive member of its board.

More information on Deviate Digital here.


Approved: Aadae
Aadae makes a strong impression with her debut single, 'River Of Tears', mixing pop and Afrobeat into a sound that instantly stands out.

"I describe my sound as a pop lover's take on the classic Afrobeat form", she says. "It was always important to me that my music told my story. Whatever I do has to represent my British upbringing as well as my Nigerian heritage".

She continues: "The song is a declaration that celebrates strength - I guess it's the ultimate pep talk that encourages you to stand defiantly in your own truth - and dance away your fears".

Listen to 'River Of Tears' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column in 2017 by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

Michael Kiwanuka announces October tour
With a sold out tour already set for April and May, Michael Kiwanuka has announced a new run of dates in October, following the continued success of his 2016 album 'Love & Hate'.

His spring tour will conclude with a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 5 May. The new dates are below - tickets on sale on Friday:

16 Oct: Birmingham, Symphony Hall
17 Oct: Salford, The Lowry
18 Oct: Perth, Concert Hall
20 Oct: York, Barbican
21 Oct: Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall
23 Oct: Exeter, Great Dome
24 Oct: Brighton, Dome


Sony, Warner, Lorde, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Sony Music will promote its CFO Kevin Kelleher to the wider role of COO when Rob Stringer takes over as overall CEO of the global Sony record company in April.

• Niko Nordström has been appointed President of Warner Music Australasia. "I'm excited", says WMG's Stu Bergen. "I am THRILLED", adds Nordström.

• Yeah, well there's probably going to be a new Lorde single out this week.

• Spoek Mathambo has announced that he will release his first album for five years, 'Mzansi Beat Code', on 14 Apr. From it, this is 'I Found You'.

• Methyl Ethel's new album 'Everything Is Forgotten' is out this very Friday. Here's new single 'L'Heure des Sorcières'.

• All Them Witches will be heading out on a tour of the UK in September and October, including a show at Koko in London on 5 Oct.


Ed Sheeran may have scuppered Future's hopes of a US number one hat-trick
Future could be planning to release another surprise album this Friday. Although at this stage, it would almost be more of a surprise if he didn't. Maybe this is just how life is now - on Fridays, Future releases a new album and it goes to number one in the US. Although if he's thinking he's guaranteed a number one with each new record, he's forgetting about that Ed Sheeran bloke.

The rapper has released new albums for the last two weeks running, starting with 'Future' on 17 Feb, which went straight to number one in the Billboard 200, and then 'HNDRXX' last week, which is projected to do the same.

Yesterday, 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' put up details for this Thursday's show, in the description noting that Future would guest in order to discuss his attempt "to have three number one albums in a row in three weeks - which will make him the first in history to do that!"

The rapper's manager Anthony Saleh has denied that there is another album coming this week, and the TV show description has been changed to say that he'll be performing a song from 'HNDRXX'. So maybe it's not happening. Or maybe it is. Although he's going to have a tough time gaining that run of number ones if it is happening, as Ed Sheeran's 'Divide' is out this Friday and will almost certainly sell close to a bajillion copies.

Anyway, it was fun to wonder about all that for a while, wasn't it? Here's the new video for 'Everyday' by Ariana Grande featuring Future from her 'Dangerous Woman' album.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
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