TODAY'S TOP STORY: Streaming music firm Guvera has finally ceased all operations, it seems, after the company told investors on Friday night that co-founder Claes Loberg, who had been leading the business of late, has now stepped down as a director. Major financial backer Steve Proch has also quit the board, leaving just the company's other co-founder Darren Herft, who stepped down from his executive role with the digital music business last summer... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Already a well-established name in her native Norway, Hanne Hukkelberg has just returned with her first new single for five years, 'The Whip'. The release of the single marks the beginning of the countdown to her fifth album, the follow-up to 2012's 'Featherbrain', which is due out later this year. [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 Warner Music's new licensing deal with YouTube and the ongoing safe harbours debate, Amazon's latest moves in live music and its all new Echo device, plus an astonishing amount of Fyre Festival legal news. 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 Guvera ceases operations as co-founder exits
LEGAL Eminem's song-theft case against New Zealand's governing party wraps up
Fyre Festival lawsuits now number ten
LABELS & PUBLISHERS LA Reid's Epic departure follows claims of unlawful harassment, says Billboard
Lee Morrison allies with MonoKrome
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify 'direct listing' looking more likely
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU@TGE Top Ten Questions: Will it be streams that kill the radio star?
ARTIST NEWS PWR BTTM lose management and record deals in wake of sexual assault accusations
ONE LINERS Queen + Adam Lambert, DNCE, Zara Larsson, more
AND FINALLY... Portugal wins Eurovision for the first time, as the UK comes in fifteenth
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Guvera ceases operations as co-founder exits
Streaming music firm Guvera has finally ceased all operations, it seems, after the company told investors on Friday night that co-founder Claes Loberg, who had been leading the business of late, has now stepped down as a director. Major financial backer Steve Proch has also quit the board, leaving just the company's other co-founder Darren Herft, who stepped down from his executive role with the digital music business last summer.

As much previously reported, Guvera has been faltering ever since its failed attempt at an IPO on the Australian stock exchange last year. The flotation was blocked by the Australian Securities Exchange, resulting in two Guvera subsidiaries going into administration, and the streaming service bailing on multiple territories, including home country Australia.

The company, which had always more heavily pushed its ambitions in the ad-funded free streaming space, then said it was focusing on some key emerging markets, and was building new tools to better service big brands and ad agencies in those countries. But speculation continued about the firm's ability to continue trading, especially when another Australian subsidiary went into administration last month.

According to the Australian Financial Review, in the note on Friday Herft asked for two volunteers amongst Guvera's remaining investors to join him on the board to help him "rebuild our company". He said that parent firm Guvera Limited held some "valuable IP" and was still owed a sizeable tax refund.

He conceded, however, that there remained liabilities as a result of the agreement reached following the administration of Guvera Australia and Guv Services last year, and noted ongoing litigation in the UK relating to the company's failed bid to launch in the British market via an acquisition of Tesco's Blinkbox Music.


Eminem's song-theft case against New Zealand's governing party wraps up
The court battle between Eminem and New Zealand's governing National Party has concluded, though it could be months before we get a ruling from the judge.

As previously reported, in 2014 the political party used a piece of library music called 'Eminem-esque' in an election campaign ad. The party argued that it had properly licensed the music, which sounded rather like the rapper's hit 'Lose Yourself', via a production music company.

In court, legal reps for Eminem's publishing companies presented email exchanges between the National Party and its campaign reps in which the strong similarities between 'Eminem-esque' and 'Lose Yourself' were noted, with one agent concluding that the political organisation risked being accused by Eminem of having ripped off his music.

This, Slim Shady's lawyers argued, was evidence that the National Party was aware that 'Eminem-esque' was so Eminem-esque it constituted copyright infringement.

A lawyer for the National Party countered that there wasn't all that much originality in the core composition of 'Lose Yourself', and that the creation and use of 'sound-alike' tracks that sound very similar to hit records, but not so similar to a constitute copyright breach, was common practice in the production music business.

The political group had also pointed out that other people had licensed and used 'Eminem-esque' from the same Australian production music agency without any resulting litigation.

However, according to CBS News, the judge hearing the case didn't seem to accept that line of argument, saying during the hearing that "it doesn't make it legitimate because somebody hasn't yet sued - it's a question of whether it is so alike that a sound-alike is crossing the line and becomes copyright infringement".

The judge could now take up to three months to rule on the case.


Fyre Festival lawsuits now number ten
For those keeping count, organisers of the doomed Fyre Festival are now facing at least ten lawsuits. We say "at least" because whenever we report on one of these, another bit of litigation pops up almost as soon as we've published the story.

Financial backers of the failed luxury island party were the latest to join the lawsuit party last week, alongside pissed off ticketholders and suppliers.

According to the New York Post, New Yorker Oleg Itkin says he provided $700,000 to the Fyre company earlier this year after seeing paperwork that showed expected revenues of $932 million by the end of the year. Those somewhat ambitious financial projects were seemingly based on what Team Fyre hoped to bring in from both their festival and the talent booking app it was designed to launch.

Itkin says that Fyre Media co-founder Billy McFarland also showed him a balance sheet that claimed the company had $31 million in assets as of January this year, which included an $8.4 million fee paid by the Bahamian government to promote the islands. The lawsuit alleges that that payment likely didn't exist. Either way, Itkin wants his money back plus $250,000 to cover his legal costs.

Meanwhile, money firm EHL Funding says it loaned McFarland and his co-founder Ja Rule $3 million just eighteen days before the disastrous Fyre Festival faltered. According to TMZ, weekly payments were then due to be made to EHL which stopped on 21 Apr. So now the company is suing for its $3 million back plus interest.

Add to that yet another class action filed by an angry ticketholder, this one in a Manhattan federal court, plus the seven lawsuits we've already reported on, and you have your ten bits of Fyre Festival litigation all lined up ready to go.

Neither McFarland nor Ja Rule have as yet responded to any of the legal action. Though, according to Variety, the former is reportedly in talks with communications firm FTI Consulting about it providing some crisis management and reputation repair services. Yeah, good luck with that.


LA Reid's Epic departure follows claims of unlawful harassment, says Billboard
The abrupt exit of LA Reid from Sony Music's Epic Records division in the US last week followed a claim of "unlawful harassment" made by a female assistant, according to sources cited by Billboard.

The record industry veteran's departure from the top job at Epic US was sudden, while the official statement made by the major regarding Reid's exit was unusually blunt, it stating simply that "LA Reid will be leaving the company".

According to Billboard, the harassment claims include "alleged inappropriate remarks about [the assistant's] appearance and clothing and alleged propositions that caused her embarrassment and distress, making it impossible for her to continue working at the label".

The claims were formally made in a legal letter threatening litigation if a settlement could not be reached. Billboard says that Sony instigated its own investigation after receiving the letter, though it is not known what that investigation concluded. However, at least one source has disputed some of the claims in the original complaint letter.

Neither Sony nor Reid have as yet commented on the harassment allegations.


Lee Morrison allies with MonoKrome
The former GM of Believe Digital, Lee Morrison, has joined forces with MonoKrome, the new artist and label services business launched earlier this year by former Head Of Operations at Beggars Group, Kristian Davis-Downs.

As previously reported, when launching MonoKrome earlier this year, Davis-Downs said the firm would work with both artists and labels, and seek to "tie together the disparate aspects of manufacturing, distribution, publishing, data asset management and financial advice".

Confirming his involvement in the new business last week, Morrison said that he was attracted by the idea of a company that wasn't tied to specific platforms, but which would help clients identify what tools were best for them. "I have spent the last twelve months looking at what is really needed in our industry and what I should do next" he said. "With so many amazing tools and solutions in the market it was difficult to see where the gap was when all the time it was staring me in the face: there is too much available in the market".

He continued: "A mutual lawyer friend introduced Kristian and I and it was clear from the beginning that by working together we can create something very special as we both share a lot of the same values but differing experience. Our aim is to help our clients to understand what's on offer and use the best for their business. This can change artist-by-artist and release-by-release, so having a partner to help work through this is invaluable".

Adding that MonoKrome would seek to offer a real personal touch, while ensuring clients were able to access and utilise all the data available to them, Morrison concluded: "We will also connect to a client's current partners and build on existing relationships to enhance the route to market. This will not be a one size fits all company and we will be working diligently to help our clients grow".


Spotify 'direct listing' looking more likely
It's looking more likely that Spotify will opt for a 'direct listing' on the New York Stock Exchange, rather than going the traditional cash-raising route of a classic initial public offering.

As previously reported, a direct listing would enable existing Spotify shareholders - including the major record companies - to start selling their shares in the company on the investment market, but no new shares would be issued at the point of the public listing and therefore no new mega-bucks finance would be raised.

Although the direct listing approach is unusual - Reuters says Spotify will be the first major company to carry out a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange - it does have some advantages for companies which want a public listing but which don't actually need to raise a big new pile of cash.

A direct listing doesn't dilute the shareholdings of or put limitations on existing investors, and removes some of the costs and risks associated with a traditional IPO. Though it does land Spotify with the extra scrutiny of being a publically listed company without providing a nice big cash boost at the outset.

Reuters cites two sources familiar with the situation as saying that the streaming firm is now plotting a direct listing later this year or in early 2018. Spotify is under pressure to become a publicly listed company because of debt financing it raised last year, which becomes more expensive to service the longer it remains in private ownership.

The newswire says that Spotify is working with investment banks Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co on plotting its direct listing.

The streaming firm has been busy trying to secure new multi-year deals with all the key music rights owners before marching to Wall Street. Universal Music and indie-label-repping Merlin have now signed up to new multi-year arrangements, with new contracts with Sony Music and Warner Music expected to follow.


CMU@TGE Top Ten Questions: Will it be streams that kill the radio star?
In the run up to this year's CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conference, we are going through the top ten questions we will be answering during this year's programme. Today: Will it be streams that kill the radio star?

There has been lots of chatter of late about Spotify in particular, and streaming services in general, morphing into the record companies of the future, utilising their data and marketing channels to sign up and promote artists, controlling those acts' recordings in the process, and reducing the costs of licensing in the hits from the traditional music rights owners.

Though - while some cite chatter with streaming firm execs as confirming those ambitions - actual product developments at the likes of Spotify suggest that the streaming platforms are much more likely to become the radio stations of the future, more likely securing exclusive interviews and sessions with artists, or commissioning them to make original radio-style programming, rather than buying the exclusive rights to album releases.

Either way, as streaming becomes more mainstream - and as the internet properly reaches the kitchen, the bathroom and the car - it does feel like traditional radio stations are going to face a whole new level of competition from the streamers for both audience and advertisers.

Radio stations have always stressed their USPs over emerging online music services. Human curation. On-air personalities. The power of storytelling. An understanding of what the more mainstream consumer is looking for.

All of which are valid to a point, depending on which radio station you're talking about. But the streaming services are already treading onto some of that territory, and the next generation of digital music platforms could tick all those boxes and more.

Even if the simplicity, wide availability and - generally - free access of radio gives the medium a long-term advantage over the streaming platforms with the 25+ age group, what about younger consumers? There is an argument that radio has already lost a generation who, unlike previous generations, are not conditioned to switch on their radio set whenever they want background noise that requires no effort. This is the generation who are more likely to fire up a Spotify playlist or a tap a YouTube channel for effortless entertainment.

So, could it be streams that kill the radio star? Or will more traditional radio services - which have been wrongly written off before - retain their relevance? Or morph themselves to become the more mainstream streaming platforms?

This is the topic for conversation in the middle of Thursday's Media Conference. Joining the debate are 7digital's Deputy CEO Pete Downton, BBC Radio 1 Producer Kate Holder, Folder Media's Creative Director Matt Deegan and Nats Spada from Brighton's own youth radio venture Platform B.


Approved: Hanne Hukkelberg
Already a well-established name in her native Norway, Hanne Hukkelberg has just returned with her first new single for five years, 'The Whip'. The release of the single marks the beginning of the countdown to her fifth album, the follow-up to 2012's 'Featherbrain', which is due out later this year.

"'The Whip' is a combination of personal experience and a wider observation of society and how I feel people are living their lives, striving for this unrealistic idea of perfection", says Hukkelberg. "I wanted to write about how nice - and necessary - it is to need someone. To be vulnerable in a society that encourages us to look like someone that has everything, all of the time, and doesn't actually need anything".

We can get into all that further down the line. What's going to hit you first is the impressive, totally blindsiding vocal gymnastics that make this song utterly vital in the space of ten seconds.

Listen to 'The Whip' here.

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

PWR BTTM lose management and record deals in wake of sexual assault accusations
PWR BTTM have been dropped by their management and their record labels in the US and UK, after sexual assault allegations against the duo's Ben Hopkins emerged last week.

The accusations initially appeared in a closed Facebook group, a screengrab of which was then circulated around social media. Jezebel then spoke to a woman who said that she had been assaulted by Hopkins on more than one occasion.

The band responded with a statement, saying that "the alleged behaviour is not representative of who Ben is and the manner in which [the duo] try to conduct themselves". They then invited anyone with allegations against Hopkins to contact the band through a newly set up email address - adding that they were seeking a mediator to have sole access to this account.

Following this, two members of PWR BTTM's touring line-up, Cameron West and Nicholas Cummins, as well as support acts at the outfit's upcoming US gigs - Tancred, T-Rextasy and Nnamdi Ogbonnay - all dropped out of the tour.

"I was shocked to discover that sexual assault allegations were levied against Ben Hopkins", said West on Facebook. "From my understanding, these accusations were in fact levied via email months ago, but were left unshared with other members of the band, including myself. In order to provide the highest possible respect to everyone who has come forward, I am hereby ending my tenure with the band as an arranger and touring musician".

Salty Artist Management also dropped the band from its roster on Friday, saying in a statement: "In light of the allegations involving members of PWR BTTM, Salty Artist Management will no longer be working with the band. We do not take these kind of allegations lightly and our thoughts are with victims and survivors of abuse who have been affected by this".

This was followed on Saturday by the band's US label Poly Vinyl, which said in a statement: "Throughout our 20 years, Polyvinyl has purposefully operated on the core principle that everyone deserves to be treated with fairness and respect. There is absolutely no place in the world for hate, violence, abuse, discrimination or predatory behaviour of any kind. In keeping with this philosophy, we want to let everyone know that we are ceasing to sell and distribute PWR BTTM's music".

The label is offering full refunds to anyone who has purchased PWR BTTM releases on Poly Vinyl, and will be making donations to sexual violence prevention charity RAINN and LGBTQ violence prevention charity AVP.

Yesterday, the band's UK label, Big Scary Monsters, also followed suit, saying: "The last few days have been extremely difficult for all involved but we believe that music should be a safe space and want to do all we can to protect those who are part of our community, especially the fans. It's for that reason we will not be working with PWR BTTM moving forward".

The company added: "It is important that victims and survivors of abuse know they have a support system in place whenever and however they need it. We will therefore be making a donation to Switchboard, an LGBT+ information, support and referral service, and our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected".

PWR BTTM's new album, 'Pageant', was released on Friday and currently remains available on retail and streaming services.


Queen + Adam Lambert, DNCE, Zara Larsson, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Queen and Adam Lambert have made Twickets their official ticket resale partner for their upcoming UK tour. "Working together, we can ensure that Queen + Adam Lambert's fans are given a safe place to buy secondary tickets at face value, whilst also setting a precedent for other legendary bands to follow", says Twickets' Richard Davies.

• Digital distribution provider CI now offers its labels the ability to deliver tracks to services in MQA's hi-res audio format. "We couldn't be more excited to be connecting the independent sector to one of the key innovations that will enable widespread adoption of high quality audio over the next few years", says CI's Kieron Faller.

• The Featured Artists Coalition has announced Lucie Caswell as its new CEO, taking over from Paul Pacifico, who is now heading up the Association Of Independent Music. Imogen Heap, who has been the organisation's interim CEO, will become Artist In Residence.

• DNCE have released the video for 'Kissing Strangers', their new song with Nicki Minaj.

• Zara Larsson has released the video for 'Don't Let Me Be Yours', her co-write with Ed Sheeran.

• Fleet Foxes have released the video for 'Fool's Errand'. The song is taken from the band's new album, 'Crack-Up', which is out on 16 Jun.

• Mew have released another video for a song their new album, 'Visuals'. This one is for 'In A Better Place'.

• The Melvins have released a new single, 'Christ Hammer'. Their new album, 'A Walk With Life And Death', is out on 17 Oct.

• Joy Crookes has released a new single, 'Bad Feeling'.

• Wovoka Gentle have released new single 'Branscombe'. The band will be on tour in the UK from next week.

• Aimee Mann will be in the UK and Ireland for three shows in London, Dublin and Glasgow in October. Tickets are on sale now.


Portugal wins Eurovision for the first time, as the UK comes in fifteenth
Salvador Sobral became Portugal's first ever Eurovision winner on Saturday night, with a song written for him by his sister Luisa, called 'Amar Pelos Dois'. The UK, meanwhile, came fifteenth, which is bullshit mate.

The winning song and Sobral stood out among this year's entrants for a variety of reasons. Not least because Portugal was the only country not to attempt to fill the massive main stage at the event, opting for an intimate performance on a smaller stage surrounded by the audience. With Sobral also presenting himself off stage as deadpan and unenthusiastic, the decision to go small where everyone else went big ultimately paid off. Also, the song was good.

"People listen to songs because they're thrown at you", he said at a press conference after his win. "You have to like this because we're going to play it sixteen times a day and force you to like it. [But 'Amar Pelos Dois'] is music with content, an emotional song with a beautiful lyrical message and harmony - things people are not used to listening to these days. If I can help to bring some change to music I would be really joyful. And I hope it will encourage people to bring different things and all sorts of music to future editions of this contest".

The UK entry was another song that stood out at this year's competition - not least because we put forward something good for the first time in a very long time. Lucie Jones' 'I Will Never Give Up On You' was one of the stand out songs and performances of the night, but still ended up in fifteenth place. Good compared to recent UK performances at Eurovision, but still disappointing. It had been top ten following the jury votes, but was dragged down once the public votes were added.

Speaking to The Sun, Jones said that the UK's decision to leave the European Union had probably scuppered her chances, remarking: "I had no idea how Brexit was going to affect the vote until I was there. I did notice lots of Brexit comments. I mean the Aussies were the only ones to give us twelve points out of everyone - now that was pretty awkward".

Even more awkward was the response from Conservative councillor Nick Harrington, when Ireland failed to award the UK twelve points. "Thanks Ireland", he tweeted. "You can keep your f'king gypsies. Hard border coming folks!"

He has now been suspended by the political party, pending an investigation. So his weekend didn't go as well as he'd hoped, I imagine. Still, at least he isn't now facing five years in a Ukrainian prison, unlike 'prankster Vitalii Sediuk. He got up on stage draped in an Australian flag and mooned the audience during a performance by last year's winner Jamala. This did not go down well.

Sediuk's previous pranks apparently include attempting to accept a Grammy Award meant for Adele and attacking other celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid and Brad Pitt. On this occasion though, his japes ended up in his arrest. According to reports, he now faces a fine or a jail sentence of up to five years on charges of aggravated battery.

On the whole though, the event went pretty well. And accusations of political voting aside, the UK did get low level points from a lot of countries, suggesting that we're not entirely hated. We also came below some yodelling and a guy duetting with himself, which seems in the spirit of Eurovision, so we shouldn't feel too bad about it.


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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