TODAY'S TOP STORY: What was meant to be a luxury music festival for the rich and famous staged in the Bahamas and backed by Ja Rule certainly got a lot of attention on the social networks over the weekend. Though for all the wrong reasons, of course... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Experimental classical and electronic label Bigo & Twigetti does a nice line in interesting collaborative releases. This week sees the completion of its latest, which has been building slowly since last year. Each track on the new record is a rework of the one before it - with Leah Kardos's 'Little Phase' used as a starting point. [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 the latest stats from the IFPI that reveal that global record industry revenues grew 5.9% in 2016 (despite flippin YouTube), and how new legislation to combat ticket touting just skated into UK law before Parliament broke up for a pointless election. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU TRENDS: The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry last week published its annual stats report, rounding up the financial performance of the global record industry in 2016. Revenues were up 5.9% worldwide, fuelled by the streaming boom. Reviewing the figures, CMU Trends provides three reasons to be optimistic, and three reasons for pessimism. CMU Trends articles are available to premium subscribers. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Ja Rule's luxury festival collapses into a $100 million lawsuit
LEGAL Eminem's political song-theft case reaches court
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis accused of some thrifty song theft
The Game sues Viacom over sexual assault damages
DEALS Primary Wave takes stake in Rough Trade Publishing
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES vKontakte fully launches streaming service
Musical.ly announces Apple Music integration
ARTIST NEWS Prince family reality show reportedly in the works
GIGS & FESTIVALS Gorillaz announce UK tour dates
AND FINALLY... Union J confirm departure of Casey Johnson
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Ja Rule's luxury festival collapses into a $100 million lawsuit
What was meant to be a luxury music festival for the rich and famous staged in the Bahamas and backed by Ja Rule certainly got a lot of attention on the social networks over the weekend. Though for all the wrong reasons, of course.

As bands, including headliners Blink 182, pulled out and already inadequate infrastructure fell apart, flights to the festival island were put on hold while those already there shared photos of the shambles unfolding as the whole event was called off. The writs and recriminations followed almost immediately.

With tickets priced as high as $12,000, the Fyre Festival promised a luxurious live entertainment experience. It was the brainchild of 25 year old computer programmer Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, who bonded over a common love of technology, hip hop and the ocean. Unfortunately festival management wasn't part of the common bond.

Speaking to Rolling Stone shortly after the whole debacle was formally declared cancelled, McFarland recalled how the duo had "started this website and launched this festival marketing campaign. Our festival became a real thing and took on a life of its own. Our next step was to book the talent and actually make the music festival. We went out excited, and that's when a lot of reality and roadblocks hit".

The biggest reality check was just how ambitious staging a festival on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas really was, given the relatively tight timelines and lack of experience among the top team. Admits McFarland: "There wasn't a great way to get guests in here - we were a little bit ambitious. There wasn't water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on".

Island life can also mean unpredictable weather events. "The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes", McFarland continued. "The weather unfortunately delayed flights and made them run into each other in terms of being close to when a lot of people were arriving. That was unfortunately something we had no control of".

Which isn't to say that you couldn't stage a festival on Great Exuma, the Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism was keen to stress as social media posts from the collapsing event went viral, many of which portrayed the island as a desolate wasteland surrounded by shark infested waters. Not so said the tourism agency's boss Joy Jibrilu, presumably worried about the Bahamas brand.

"Exuma is one of the most beautiful and developed islands in The Bahamas and we in the ministry are so disappointed that there have been false claims surrounding the island", said Jibrilu. "We want to ensure that all stakeholders and guests know of the development and infrastructural capacity of this island".

The point Jibrilu was making was that while staging a festival on Great Exuma was ambitious, doing so would have been entirely possible had the Fyre Festival team known what they were doing. Or maybe just listened to those they hired who did know what they were doing, who - according to this article by one of them - aired their concerns to an uninterested management, before bailing on what was obviously - to them - a doomed enterprise.

McFarland concedes that he underestimated the task of staging a festival, let alone a festival on a small island that was being sold on the luxury it would provide attendees. Not that this has put him off having another go. "We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves", he said. "Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren't experienced enough to keep up".

Yep, next year. And those who found themselves stranded on the festival island this time, or sitting on a chartered airplane going nowhere, are being promised VIP tickets for take two next year. Though McFarland could as yet spend much of the next twelve months swamped in litigation, with celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos already putting together a class action for those who bought tickets to the big non-event.

His first client, Daniel Jung, wants $5 million in damages "for alleged fraud, breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and negligent misrepresentation". According to Variety, another 150 plaintiffs could as yet join the action, possibly all claiming similar amounts. Geragos seems confident that the lawsuit will be seeking $100 million in damages as an absolute minimum.

All of which means that, while the photos streaming out of the Fyre Festival on Friday looked a little like footage from some sort of natural disaster, an accompanying benefit concert may yet be required to pay off the costs of the legal fallout.

Ja Rule can headline the litigation fundraiser, but maybe he should hire some more experienced hands to run the show. After all, the whole Fyre Festival debacle neatly demonstrates what happens when you put a major event in the hands of a some rich kids who are prone to ignore whatever the experts tell them. Good job no one's ever done that with a whole country, hey America?


Eminem's political song-theft case reaches court
When Eminem sued New Zealand's governing National Party in 2014 alleging that it had used one of his songs in an election ad without permission, you probably thought this one would be quietly settled out of court.

We did. Would a political party really want a public spat with a popular rapper in which it was accused of infringing copyright? Well, as it turns out, yes, it would. Though Joel Martin, representing Eminem's music publishing companies, seemed as surprised as anyone yesterday that he was now standing outside the New Zealand court where his firm's copyright dispute with the country's governing political party was being heard.

As previously reported, the National Party has always argued that it properly licensed the music that appeared in its 2014 television ad, a soundtrack that sounded rather like Eminem's 'Lose Yourself'.

From the start the political group said that it had secured a licence from an Australian agency that it turn paid the rights owners via the collective licensing system. This initially seemed unlikely for a sync in an advert - which usually begins with a direct deal between advertiser and rights owner - though it transpires this is basically a production music sound-alike case.

Which is to say, the National Party licensed a piece of music called 'Eminem-Esque' for its ad, which the rapper's people claim is basically a rip off of 'Lose Yourself'. And, say legal reps for Slim Shady's Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated, the politicians were aware of that fact when they decided to use the track after it tested well with focus groups.

Presenting in court yesterday email correspondence between the National Party and an agent for the organisation, lawyer Garry Williams quotes the latter as writing about the 2014 ad: "I guess the question we're asking, if everyone thinks it's Eminem, and it's listed as 'Eminem-Esque', how can we be confident that Eminem doesn't say we're ripping him off?"

That email, Williams argued, made it "utterly clear" that the National Party knew it was using Eminem's music without his permission, even if it was technically licensing the specific track from a third party.

When Eminem sued in 2014, the National Party accused the rapper of playing politics, because he was unhappy being associated with a conservative political group; noting that others had used the same 'Eminem-Esque' track it had licensed in other videos without the rapper going legal.

However, the aforementioned Martin said yesterday this was a straight copyright infringement case, and nothing to do with the politics of the National Party. Indeed, he added, Eminem and his American business associates know little about New Zealand politics, but the rapper would never license his music to a political organisation, whatever their leanings.

Of course, artists getting annoyed when politicians use their music is quite common, and was a regular occurrence during Donald Trump's presidential campaign. When political types use music at rallies and such like there is rarely anything artists can do, because such usage is covered by the blanket licences offered by the collecting societies.

Though if a politician syncs a track to an advert, that's different. Which is the case here of course. Though, as noted, really this is a sound-alike production music case, something more commonly associated with the ad industry than the political world.


Macklemore & Ryan Lewis accused of some thrifty song theft
Macklemore and that there Ryan Lewis are the latest to be hit with a song-theft lawsuit, according to TMZ. The duo are seemingly accused by jazz musician Paul Batiste of nabbing elements of two of his songs for their 2012 track 'Thrift Shop'.

Batiste says that 'Thrift Shop' took beats and horn melodies from his songs 'Hip Jazz' and 'World Of Blues', which date from 1997 and 2000 respectively. He is seeking a share of the profits generated by the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hit, while making similar allegations over another of the duo's tracks from the same album, 'Neon Cathedral'.

The jazz musician is no stranger to litigation of this kind. He sued T-Pain, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, Pitbull and a bunch of labels in 2013 also claiming uncleared sampling and the lifting of elements of his songs by the accused.


The Game sues Viacom over sexual assault damages
Rapper The Game is hoping to pass on to media firm Viacom the cost of the damages he was ordered to pay after losing a sexual assault case last year, because the woman he sexually assaulted was a contestant on a reality show he made for VH1.

As previously reported, the rapper, real name Jayceon Taylor, was accused of conspiring with the producers of VH1's dating show 'She's Got Game' to force one Priscilla Rainey to go on a date with him to a sports bar in Illinois.

Rainey said that she was led to believe that the date was part of the programme, but that during the evening an "intoxicated" and "out of control" Taylor inappropriately touched her buttocks and genital area several times. She was awarded $7.1 million in damages.

According to TMZ, Taylor is now suing VH1 owner Viacom for $20 million, claiming that they should cover the damages due to Rainey and pay the rapper damages too because they cast his victim on his TV show despite a doctor recommending she not participate.

The rapper always denied the sexual assault claims. In the new lawsuit, his legal reps argue that a doctor who vetted contestants on the show wrote that "in moments of jealousy, [Rainey's] normal composure dissolves, leaving her to acting out of control". Producers should not have cast Rainey, Taylor claims, but did so anyway because they thought she'd be good for ratings.

Primary Wave takes stake in Rough Trade Publishing
US-based music firm Primary Wave has announced an alliance with Rough Trade Publishing, which will see the two companies finance new signings together, while the former takes equity in the latter.

As previously reported, the music publishing side of Rough Trade split off from the label in 1991, and has been independent ever since. Last year it merged with American music publisher House Of Hassle, at which point it was announced that the founders of the Rough Trade brand - Geoff Travis and Jeannette Lee, who still run the label - would once again have an A&R role with the revamped publishing business.

Confirming the new alliance with Primary Wave, Rough Trade Publishing's SVP Legal Affairs, Gandhar Savur, said: "We had been looking to partner with another company that is as motivated as we are to sign bands and do exciting deals. We've finally met our match with Primary Wave. We couldn't be more excited for what the future holds".

Meanwhile Justin Shukat over at Primary Wave added: "Rough Trade is a legendary brand in the music business. Their vision and hard working team made Rough Trade Publishing an ideal company for us to do business with".


vKontakte fully launches streaming service
Russian social network vKontakte has fully launched its legit streaming music service, with all three majors, indie label repping Merlin and various local labels on board. With paid and ad-funded tiers on offer, this is quite a turnaround from being considered a piracy service and sued by the majors in recent years.

As previously reported, the last of the three majors to get on board with vKontakte's new music service was Universal. It eventually reached a settlement over the past sharing of unlicensed music via the social network and agreed to supply its content last July.

For a monthly subscription fee of 149 rubles (around £2), users get access to all the usual streaming gubbins - unlimited playback on desktop and mobile, playlists, recommendations and all that - through the social network. In order to take tracks offline on their mobile devices, users will need to download a separate app, called Boom.

In a statement, according to Billboard, vKontakte MD Andrei Rogozov "Music is an important part of life for VKontakte users. VKontakte unites people with different music tastes, giving them the opportunity to communicate, create thematic groups and spread their favourite music without limits".

Despite now falling in line and basically doing things as the music industry wants, last year vKontakte boss Boris Dobrodeyev complained that what was termed as "piracy" on his social network was never such. It was all protected by safe harbours, he said, as all those music files were uploaded by users and taken down if rightsholders complained.

Having persuaded vKontakte to launch and focus on a paid-for subscription streaming service, despite it having pleaded safe harbours in the past, the music industry might be hopeful it can achieve the same with YouTube and Facebook. Good luck with that.


Musical.ly announces Apple Music integration
Musical.ly has introduced Apple Music integration, allowing users signed up to both services to access full songs within the video-based social network's app. There are also a load of Musical.ly curated playlists on the Apple streaming service now too.

Popular mainly with teenagers, and now boasting over 200 million users, Musical.ly provides the tools to make short videos. It's best known for lip-sync videos, but people also post footage of cats and babies too, because it's the internet. The social network also now proclaims itself to be a prime destination for music discovery, last year launching a monthly playlist of songs from new and emerging artists for its users - or 'musers', as they're known - to check out and maybe flap their mouths about to.

The Apple Music integration will allow 'musers' signed up to the streaming service to listen to full songs before chopping out a fifteen second segment for their latest lip sync extravaganza.

"At musical.ly we are focused on providing our passionate community of musers with the best experience possible when it comes to discovering new music", says Musical.ly's North American President Alex Hofmann. "The integration with Apple Music gives musers a new listening experience and further layers into their connection with the music they are already creating content to in musical.ly. We are excited about the possibilities this creates for musers to share and discover new music with their friends".


Approved: Bigo & Twigetti & Moderna Records - Exquisite Corpse
Experimental classical and electronic label Bigo & Twigetti does a nice line in interesting collaborative releases.

Its first, 'Forty Eight', saw an EP created over 48 hours by three of the label's artists, each creating a final track by reworking something already worked on by the other two. Next, they expanded the idea further, with seven artists creating an album over the course of a week, each only getting one chance to add their input to each track before passing it on to the next musician.

This week sees the completion of a slightly different take on the idea, which has been building slowly since last year. Working with artists from Moderna Records, the inspiration for the album is taken from the surrealist game of consequences, 'Exquisite Corpse'. Each track on the new record is a rework of the one before it - with Leah Kardos's 'Little Phase' used as a starting point.

Explains B&T boss Jim Perkins: "The album starts with a re-working of Leah Kardos's 'Little Phase' which is transformed and abstracted as it is passed from one artist to the next, gradually losing all trace of the original as new instrumentation and sounds are introduced and as the musical structure is re-shaped and abstracted in the hands of each new creator".

This also meant that mid-project, Leah Kardos herself was tasked with reworking a rework of a rework of a rework of a rework of one of her own compositions. It's all quite 'Inception'.

With new tracks added to the album roughly every two weeks since November, Tim Linghaus completed the project with his contribution yesterday. Listening through the ten tracks, it's fascinating to hear how each piece of music changes, and what themes prevail, with each development. The finished result is both a cohesive and varied body of work, and a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Listen to 'The Exquisite Corpse' here.

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

Prince family reality show reportedly in the works
Prince's estate is working on a new reality TV show, which will follow various family members and tell the story of how their lives have changed since the musician's death. Also, reckons TMZ, the estate blocked the release of that EP of unreleased Prince music in order to use the songs in the show.

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of logic to that latter argument. It still seems more likely that, having sold access to Prince's massive vault of unreleased music to Universal, the estate just wasn't keen on someone else putting out previously unheard songs independently. But, assuming Universal doesn't cancel that whole deal, maybe the family did fancy having a few tracks for themselves.

As previously reported, the estate got a temporary injunction against producer Ian Boxhill after he announced that he would be releasing an EP of unreleased music to mark the first anniversary of Prince's death. It was argued that Boxhill was contravening an agreement he had with the musician by attempting to release the music they had collaborated on together.

Anyway, this reality show. We don't really know much about it. TMZ reckons it's in the early stages of development, with a production company on board but no TV network signed up to broadcast it. But given that most of the last year has been taken up by bickering and in-fighting among the various presumed Prince heirs and their business associates, it could make for enjoyable viewing.


Gorillaz announce UK tour dates
Gorillaz have announced tour dates for the end of this year, for anyone who didn't manage to get tickets to their one-off Demon Dayz festival in Margate this summer.

The virtual band members will be backed by real-life musicians Damon Albarn, Gabriel Wallace, Mike Smith, Jesse Hackett, Jeff Wootton, Karl Vanden Bossche, and Seye Adelekan. Guests from the band's many collaborations will also step in at various points too.

Here are the UK shows:

27 Nov: Brighton Centre
29 Nov: Glasgow, Hydro Arena
1 Dec: Manchester Arena
2 Dec: Birmingham, Barclaycard Arena
4 Dec: London, O2 Arena


Union J confirm departure of Casey Johnson
Union J continue to struggle to keep hold of any band member whose name does not begin with J. Following the departure of George Shelley last year, his replacement Casey Johnson has now moved on too. Original members Josh, Jaymi and JJ are now giving up and staying as a trio - a union of Js, if you will. A Triple J, even.

"We are sad to announce that Casey is leaving Union J, in order to pursue other opportunities", said the band in a statement on Facebook. "It's been a great year, having him on board, but being in a band is like any other relationship and sometimes it just doesn't work out".

Despite that, they at least seem to be parting on good terms on this occasion - unlike last year's acrimonious split with Shelley.

"Casey is an incredibly lovely, talented guy and a great friend to the band, so please go support him as well in his next venture and we wish him all the very best for the future", they went on. "It feels now that the best way forward is to carry on as we originally started out - as a three piece".

They're probably right. Johnson at least had a J in his name somewhere, and they still couldn't make it work. The next logical step would be to draft in a John, a Jason or a Jeremiah, but why risk it? What if it turned out the concept of everyone having J names wasn't as strong as it appears? Not worth it.

Anyway, the union of Js will release a new single later this year, with an album planned for 2018.


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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