TODAY'S TOP STORY: SoundCloud has secured another $70 million in debt finance according to documents filed with Companies House that were spotted by Business Insider. So, that'll keep the sounds in the cloud streaming for a little while longer. There has been quite a bit of chatter of late about the digital firm's financial situation, mainly because of a statement in its official accounts for 2015... [READ MORE]
VIGSY's CLUB TIP: Two tips this week, because I'm celebrating my birthday this weekend and you all have to humour me. First up, Jamie Odell, aka the Jimpster, by which I mean the head honcho of Freerange Records, steps in to give us a three hour house-inspired set alongside Jamma and Max. [READ MORE]
BEEF OF THE WEEK: You'd think Russia and Ukraine would have more important things to be talking about, in the wake of the apparent assassination of former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Kiev yesterday. But still, the growing diplomatic incident of this year's Eurovision Song Contest grabs headlines. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU PODCAST: CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including US customs officials' refusal to allow a number of international acts into the country to perform at SXSW, the launch of Pandora's premium on-demand streaming service and Deadmau5 being sued over the name of his cat. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU TRENDS: UK music creatives and their managers have called on the government to assist in their bid to secure more transparency in the digital music market. What do music creatives want to know, why do they need to know it, and can government really help? We review the transparency debate. CMU Trends articles are available to premium subscribers. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES SoundCloud secures $70 million in debt finance
LABELS & PUBLISHERS PRS For Music and PPL pilot linked database search tool
Geffen Records to be ramped up again
RELEASES Gorillaz announce new album, Humanz
Zayn releases new single
Ride announce new album, Weather Diaries
Chris T-T announces 20th anniversary best of compilation
GIGS & FESTIVALS Weezer announce UK tour
ONE LINERS Tool, Kendrick Lamar, Iggy Azalea, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #348: Russia v Ukraine
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SoundCloud secures $70 million in debt finance
SoundCloud has secured another $70 million in debt finance according to documents filed with Companies House that were spotted by Business Insider. So, that'll keep the sounds in the cloud streaming for a little while longer.

There has been quite a bit of chatter of late about the digital firm's financial situation, mainly because of a statement in its official accounts for 2015 which said that, while directors believed the business had sufficient funds to see it through 2017, "the risks and uncertainties may cause the company to run out of cash earlier than that date".

It has been widely rumoured that SoundCloud has been both speaking to potential buyers and seeking to raise new finance in recent months. One anonymous source speaking to the FT characterised the latest stint of finance raising as passing round the begging bowl, while Recode reported that the company's owners were now considering bids for the business far below its one time valuation of $700 million.

For its part, SoundCloud has repeatedly played down any suggestion that it is falling on hard times. Having diversified its revenue streams beyond just charging content owners hosting fees, the company is now focused on trying to get properly into the subscription streaming business with its £5.99 and £9.99 packages, which offer users more functionality and more content respectively.

While rebutting the various doom and gloom rumours, SoundCloud always insists that it is optimistic about its subscriptions business, and that it will help the company ultimately achieve profitability. Though some question whether it can really take on Spotify and Apple Music in the competitive and costly subscription streaming game, even with its large free user-base to which it can try and upsell premium.

The new round of finance comes from Kreos Capital, Ares Capital and Davidson Technology. It's not the first injection of debt finance the company has taken - it having received $35 million from Tennenbaum Capital Partners at the start of last year before another round of equity financing.

Confirming the latest cash boost, SoundCloud said yesterday: "We are pleased to have secured a flexible $70 million credit line from Ares Capital, Kreos Capital and Davidson Technology that is ideally structured for a company with our strong credit rating and in our stage of growth. This new funding will enable SoundCloud to strategically grow our technology and personnel resources to fuel our expected 2.5 times year-over-year growth in 2017, while building a financially sustainable platform on which our connected community of creators, listeners and curators can thrive for years to come".


PRS For Music and PPL pilot linked database search tool
The UK music industry's two performing rights organisations - PRS For Music on the songs side and PPL on the recordings side - have announced that they are piloting a new system to link their respective databases, a move that will help meet one of the music industry's key data challenges: reliably identifying which song is contained within each recording. The next stage of the project will see Australian collecting society APRA-AMCOS also involved.

The data initiative comes as PRS and PPL prepare to launch their joint venture providing those seeking licences for the public performance of sound recordings in the UK with a one-stop-shop licence. The new joint data platform lets users identify both track and song information, including label, publisher, writers and performers. So far, about 2.5 million recordings have been linked to about 1.2 million compositions.

At this stage the data link tool is more a proof of concept, aimed at instigating discussions with other music rights organisations. There are already plenty of data-sharing initiatives between collecting societies around the world, but they tend to focus on either recordings data or songs data, rather than linking the two key sets of music data together.

"One of the biggest challenges we all face is how we create industry-wide access to authoritative data", says PRS Director Of Operations Paul Dilorito. "Effective linking of works to recordings is the first step and this prototype has enabled us to deliver a successful proof of concept that we are delighted to have brought to fruition in partnership with PPL. Collaboration is key to the successful resolution of the data challenge across the industry, and as industry-leading authoritative sources of metadata we are both very well placed to facilitate a solution".

PPL's CTO Mark Douglas adds: "For an initiative like this to have value to the industry, it has to be based on authoritative data about sound recordings and musical works. PPL invests significant effort and resources into managing its repertoire database and is rightly recognised as a world-leader, making PPL a natural partner to work with PRS For Music. We are excited about extending beyond this pilot to draw in other collective management organisations to progress the initiative even further".

Meanwhile, Alan Balchin, Head Of Business Systems & Development at APRA-AMCOS says: "The need for an authoritative link between a work and its many recordings is a 'no brainer' from our perspective, to ensure rightsholders get acknowledged, recognised and paid in a timely fashion. We look forward to engaging with our colleagues in the UK on this exciting initiative as it develops".


Geffen Records to be ramped up again
Universal Music in the US has had a good old rummage around its box of under-used label brands and has picked out Geffen Records for a full-on spit and polish. Neil Jacobson, a long-term exec with the mega-major, will be the chief spitter and polisher. By which we mean he has been appointed President of the resurrected label.

Founded by David Geffen in the 1980s, Geffen Records enjoyed considerable success in the subsequent two decades, first with pop, then with harder rock, and then with some key alternative rock acts. It allied with Universal in 1990, with Geffen himself remaining involved until 1995. At the end of the 1990s, Geffen Records was absorbed by the Interscope label, though at various points since then it has been pushed forward as a frontline label brand, albeit usually mainly managed by Interscope staff.

Jacobson will still report into Interscope chief John Janick in his new role, who said yesterday: "Geffen Records has always represented the true entrepreneurial spirit of the music business. Neil's commitment to artistry, his drive, and his ability to see and create new opportunities for our business make him the perfect choice to take the helm at Geffen, a label that is such an important part of the collective legacy of our company".

Name-checking both the label's founder and some of its most famous signings back in the day, Jacobson told Billboard: "I've been telling people for fifteen years that one day I wanted to run Geffen. I always thought Geffen is a special label and David Geffen is a special person. And with Nirvana and Guns N Roses you're talking about my favourite artists of all time".


Vigsy's Club Tip: Jimpster at Basing House & The 2 Bears at XOYO
Two tips this week, because I'm celebrating my birthday this weekend and you all have to humour me.

First up, Jamie Odell, aka the Jimpster, by which I mean the head honcho of Freerange Records, steps in to give us a three hour house-inspired set alongside Jamma and Max. He'll be rocking this venue, once known as On The Rocks, to its very core, celebrating nine years of Jamma and Max's Bread And Butter night.

Saturday 25 Mar, Basing House, 25 Kingsland Road, London E2, 9pm-2am, £10. Info here.

Over on the other side of Shoreditch, Raf Rundell and Joe Goddard will be hitting XOYO hard with their double act The 2 Bears taking us to pastures house. Frenchman Marc Cerrone also makes an appearance, with Seven Davis Jr taking us leftfield too. Should be a goodun!

Saturday 11 Mar, XOYO, 32-37 Cowper Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 4AP, 9pm-4am, £20. Info here.

Gorillaz announce new album, Humanz
Gorillaz have announced their new album, 'Humanz', will be out on 28 Apr. The record is their first since 2011's 'The Fall'.

Announcing the new record, the band yesterday unveiled a video, which features new track 'Saturnz Barz', featuring Popcaan, in full, plus clips of three others, 'Ascension' featuring Vince Staples, 'Andromeda' featuring DRAM and 'We Got The Power' featuring Savages' Jehnny Beth - all of which are also separately available in full on YouTube.

But, yeah, here's the 'Saturnz Barz' video, because who has time to listen to four whole songs in this day and age? You can also watch it in a 360° version too, if you want. You probably don't.

Speaking on Radio X last night, Damon Albarn revealed that his 'arch nemesis' Noel Gallagher sang backing vocals on 'We Got The Power'.

Now that I've told you that, I have to do a bit of housekeeping. As per the demands of Radio X owner Global Radio, I am obliged to inform you of some stuff, but I will weave it into my reporting so seamlessly that you won't even notice. Gorillaz' Damon Albarn was speaking on the 'Radio X Evening Show' with Gordon Smart, weekdays 7pm-10pm on Radio X. Tune in to 'Smart On Sunday' with Gordon Smart this Sunday from 2pm on Radio X to hear more from Damon Albarn.

Right, where were we? Oh yeah, Gorillaz. As well as announcing the album, they've also revealed that they will play a show at a secret location in London tonight. You won't get into that though, so just get tickets for their festival in Margate in June, because that will be better anyway.

Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, that tracklist that appeared on PPL's database last week does match up with the one just published officially. But what you wouldn't have known from the PPL listings is that five of those songs will appear on the deluxe edition of the album only. Also, the various interludes will be narrated by actor Ben Mendelsohn.


Zayn releases new single
Zayn Malik has released the first single from his forthcoming second album. 'Still Got Time' features rapper PartyNextDoor and was co-produced by Frank Dukes and Murda Beatz.

The album is yet to be properly announced, though it is expected to be released in the summer.

Malik told The Sunday Times last weekend: "They always say the second album is difficult, but so far I'm really happy with this one. There are real signs of growth and development. Hopefully, as a human being, I'm growing too, in my knowledge and perception".

Check out the video for 'Still Got Time' here.


Ride announce new album, Weather Diaries
Ride have announced details of their first album for more than two decades, coming three years after they reformed in 2014. Titled 'Weather Diaries', it will be released on 16 Jun through Wichita.

The band have already released two tracks from the album, 'Charm Assault' and 'Home Is Feeling'. "When we started writing together again we tried to imagine we'd kept on making music all this time", said frontman Andy Bell of the new material earlier this year.

They'll be pumping out some of that new material, no doubt, when they play Glasgow's Barrowland as part of the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival tonight.

Here's the video for 'Charm Assault'.


Chris T-T announces 20th anniversary best of compilation
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Chris T-T's debut solo single. A lot has happened since then. For one thing, Chris has released a load more music, some of which is included on a new 'best of' compilation. That'll be released on 19 May through Xtra Mile.

"From the very start it's been an absolute pleasure to work with Chris both in a business and social sense", says Xtra Mile MD Charlie Caplowe. "We're really proud to have been along for the ride for at least half of his amazing 20 year career. Here's to another 20!"

What good would an anniversary-marking best of be without an anniversary and best of release-marking tour though? No good at all, I tell you. So it's lucky that these dates have been booked:

28 Apr: Trowbridge, Town Hall Arts
29 Apr: Warwick, Wild Boar
5 May: Leeds, All Hallows Church
6 May: Manchester, The Engine Room
12 May: Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree
19 May: Cambridge, Unitarian Church
20 May: Bristol, Café Kino
23 May: Brighton, Komedia

But is there a new lyric video for an old song that appears on the compilation? What, you thought he'd forget? Well don't you look silly, because here's one for 'The English Earth', off 2009 album 'The 253'.


Weezer announce UK tour
Weezer are going to release a new album soon, which I assume you're not interested in. They haven't said much about it anyway. They're going to be touring the UK though, and I think that's probably still something worth noting. I don't know, it's a good decade since I last saw them live, but they were really good then.

Anyway, here are the dates:

23 Oct: Leeds, Academy
25 Oct: Manchester, Apollo
27 Oct: Birmingham, Academy
28 Oct: London, Wembley Arena

Now's probably a good time to listen to the episode of 'Song Exploder' in which Rivers Cuomo explains how he writes songs with spreadsheets. Marvel at the intricacy of it all, and then wonder if you might have hit upon the reason for the downturn in the quality of the band's songs.

Speaking of which, here's the video for new single 'Feels Like Summer'.


Tool, Kendrick Lamar, Iggy Azalea, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Tool are reportedly planning to end their policy of holding their music off streaming services when they eventually release their new album.

• Kendrick Lamar has released a new track, 'The Heart Part 4', which is part four of his 'The Heart' series (in case you hadn't already guessed). On it, he references 7 Apr, which may or may not be a significant date for Lamar fans hoping for a new album.

• Iggy Azalea's got a new single out, 'Mo Bounce'.

• Michael Kiwanuka's put out the video for 'Cold Little Heart'.

• Migos have released the video for 'What The Price'.

• Goldfrapp have released a new song, 'Moon In Your Mouth'.

Here's the video for Ängie's latest single, 'Spun'.

• Rina Sawayama has released a new single, 'Cyber Stockholm Syndrome'. "'Cyber Stockholm Syndrome' is happy and sad, honest and autobiographical, and I feel like I've truly written from the heart from the first time", she says of the song.


Beef Of The Week #348: Russia v Ukraine
You'd think Russia and Ukraine would have more important things to be talking about, in the wake of the apparent assassination of former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Kiev yesterday. But still, the growing diplomatic incident around this year's Eurovision Song Contest continues to grab headlines.

The case of Voronenkov quickly reached something of a deadlock, with Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, claiming that the killing was an act of "state terrorism" on Russia's part, while Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied that the country had any involvement. Meanwhile, Eurovision organisers continue with their futile attempts to avoid this year's competition becoming political.

If anything, it's becoming more and more apparent that everything that involves the two countries (allegedly or otherwise) is political. As Skunk Anansie once sang, "Yes, it's fucking political". Maybe we should scrap our current Eurovision entry and put that forward instead, just to make a point. It would double up as a good Brexit reference too.

In the event you've missed all this, let's have a recap. When Ukraine won Eurovision last year, Russia threatened to boycott this year's event. The Russians were already angry about the song Ukraine had put forward in 2016, which they argued broke Eurovision's 'no politics' rule. Organisers disagreed, despite the song being about Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which has been occupied by Russian forces since 2014.

It looked increasingly like Russia might go through with that boycott, but then earlier this month - with just a day to go before the deadline for entries - it was announced that Julia Samoilova would represent the country with the song 'Flame Is Burning'.

Already well known in Russia and beyond, Samoilova was the runner up in the 2013 series of the country's version of 'X-Factor', and she sang at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics. A perfect Eurovision entrant, you might say.

However, there was a snag. Ukraine holds a blacklist of artists who have performed in Crimea since it was annexed. Samoilova was not on that list, but it quickly emerged that she had played there in 2015. Ukraine security forces then said that they were considering banning her from entering the country, or they would let her in but then arrest her. Neither of which are good options for someone just hoping to come and sing a song.

After some deliberation, it was announced that Samoilova would be banned from entering Ukraine for three years. The Eurovision Song Contest is due to take place in May, so that's really not going to work with her diary. On the plus side, she's avoided jail time. So that's a silver lining. It was also unclear whether Ukraine intended to actually enforce the ban.

Russian officials immediately spoke out against the ban though. One put forward the slightly peculiar defence that "practically everyone has been to Crimea". They demanded that Eurovision overseer the European Broadcast Union do something about the situation, threatening that Russia would not only boycott this year's competition, but as many future competitions as it took for it to calm down. Broadcaster Channel One Russia also said that it would not show the competition if Samoilova was not in it.

A cynic might suggest that this is exactly what Russia wanted. And many cynics have. It can't have escaped Russia's notice that Ukraine has been blocking musicians who perform in Crimea. Presumably someone would have checked it Samoilova had done so before putting her forward. Some particularly cynical cynics have also suggested that she was selected because she is a wheelchair user, because then any backlash against her in Ukraine could be spun as disablist, though this doesn't seem to have been the case so far.

Yesterday, the EBU put out a statement to say that it was working hard to ensure that this extremely political situation does not become political. It had, it said, come up with a solution that should work for everyone.

It said: "Taking into consideration that this ban might be upheld by the Ukrainian authorities, and in order to maintain the non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU has been working hard to find a solution to this situation and has taken the unprecedented move to offer Channel One Russia the opportunity for Julia to still participate in this year's Contest by performing live in the second semi final via satellite".

"Should the Russian entry qualify for the Grand Final the same solution would apply", it continued. "This is something that has never been done before in the Contest's 60 year history but, in the spirit of Eurovision's values of inclusivity, and this year's theme of 'Celebrate Diversity', the decision has been taken to ensure that all 43 entrants are given the opportunity to participate".

Emphasising how non-political all of this was, Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, added: "We are continuing our dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the ambition to have all artists present to perform in host city, Kiev, which is, of course, our preferred option. It is imperative that the Eurovision Song Contest remains free from politics and as such, due to the circumstances surrounding Julia's travel ban, we have felt it important to propose a solution that transcends such issues".

Well, it's lucky the EBU is still talking to Ukraine to try to ensure that Samoilova is allowed to appear in the country in person, because - guess what! - Russia's not really down with the contingency plan.

In a statement last night, Channel One said that it just wasn't into the idea. "We find the offer of remote participation odd and refuse it", it said firmly. "It is going absolutely against the very essence of the event, one of the rules of which reads that the song should be performed live on the stage".

Yeah, you wouldn't want to go breaking any of the Eurovision rules. Imagine if that happened.

For her part, Samoilova has remained calm and dignified, while at the centre of a bizarre international incident. She has said that she is "not upset" about Ukraine's decision, but can't quite see why they would see "some kind of threat in a little girl like me".

She also remains confident that some kind of resolution will be found. "I will keep going", she has said. "I somehow think that everything will change".

Of course, her being all nice and totally unthreatening might be part of a strategy to make Ukraine look bad. That's probably what you cynics think. Although, it does also seem like she is genuinely nice and unthreatening, as I think you would generally expect a singer in the Eurovision Song Contest to be. It being both nice and unthreatening.

Samoilova is currently scheduled to perform in the second semi-final of the event on 11 May, and then in the final if she gets through. Though really, who knows what will happen in the next seven weeks leading up to event? If this turns out to be World War Three's 'Archduke Ferdinand moment', I think that would be very embarrassing for all of us.


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 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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