TODAY'S TOP STORY: The bank that is administrating the Prince estate - Comercia - has recommended to the court overseeing the late musician's affairs that it rescind the deal done with Universal Music in relation to Prince's recordings catalogue... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Since emerging with her debut mixtape in late 2015, Sampa The Great has been building a fine reputation that now seems set to reach a wider audience. Following the release of new EP - 'HERoes Act 2' - and having completed a UK tour, including two shows at The Great Escape, hers is a name I've started hearing more often. But it might not have happened at all. [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 Prince estate recommends rescinding Universal's $30 million recordings deal
LEGAL Feds investigation Fyre Festival
DEALS Downtown to rep Niall Horan's songwriting
Manners McDade signs Balmorhea
LABELS & PUBLISHERS BPI responds to Conservative and Labour election manifestos
LIVE BUSINESS Canada's Pemberton Music Festival goes into bankruptcy
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Vevo enhances its Apple TV app
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU@TGE 2017: The top five visa mistakes made by musicians
AWARDS Drake dominates at Billboard Music Awards
AND FINALLY... Danny DeVito comes out in support of Jeremy Corbyn. And grime
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8 Jun 2017 CMU's Chris Cooke moderates a safe harbours session at MIDEM
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Prince estate recommends rescinding Universal's $30 million recordings deal
The bank that is administrating the Prince estate - Comercia - has recommended to the court overseeing the late musician's affairs that it rescind the deal done with Universal Music in relation to Prince's recordings catalogue.

As previously reported, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that execs at Universal - which secured the rights to represent Prince's recording, publishing and merch rights in three separate multi-million dollar deals - had been having second thoughts about the former of those arrangements now that they had had time to dig into the details of the agreement.

At issue is what rights Warner Music had already secured in relation to Prince's earlier hits in a deal it did with the musician in 2014, and what limitations that arrangement puts on the recordings catalogue Universal paid $30 million+ to represent moving forward. It was also rumoured that Universal was accusing former Prince estate advisor L Londell McMillan of misrepresenting what was available to the mega-major via the new deal.

A recent filing by Comercia, which took over the administration of the Prince estate after the three Universal deals had been done, confirmed that allegations of misrepresentation had indeed been made against McMillan. And now the bank has formally recommended that the deal between Universal and the estate in relation to Prince's recordings be rescinded.

According to Billboard, in the new court filing the bank says that Warner Music has claimed that previous estate administrator The Bremer Trust "sold rights to [Universal] that [Warner] already holds". Comercia adds that it "cannot unequivocally assure [Universal] or the court that no overlap exists".

A court hearing has now been set for 31 May to consider what should be done about the big recordings deal. If Universal's arrangement is set aside and its $30 million refunded, presumably the estate will open up a new set of negotiations with anyone interested in representing those Prince recordings that are definitely outside Warner's existing deal. Both Sony and Warner itself may well bid, plus Universal could enter a lower offer based on what it will actually get to distribute.

Either way, it seems likely that the new deal around Prince's non-Warner recordings will bring in less than $30 million. It remains to be seen if the mess around the original deal comes back to haunt either McMillan or the Bremer Trust, though the former has already denied any wrongdoing, and the latter said last week that it is "confident that it acted at all times in the best interests of the Nelson Estate".

Elsewhere in Prince news, the court finally confirmed last week that the musician's six siblings are all lawful heirs to the estate. So we can stop calling them 'presumed heirs' at last.


Feds investigation Fyre Festival
Bored of all the civil litigation that has been amassing around the disastrous Fyre Festival? Well, how about the potential of some criminal action in relation to the big luxury non-event? Yeah, that sounds like fun, doesn't it?

According to the New York Times, Fyre Festival is now under criminal investigation by the Southern District Of New York and the FBI. The newspaper cites one source as saying that the company behind the festival was being investigated over allegations of possible mail, wire and securities fraud. The investigation is being conducted by the US Attorney's Office and is being led by a prosecutor assigned to the complex frauds and cybercrime unit.

As previously reported, in a leaked conference call between the Fyre Festival founders, Ja Rule and Billy McFarland, and their staff - in which McFarland announced that no one was going to get paid - one employee noted rumours that at least one of her colleagues had been contacted by the FBI. "Should we be concerned about the FBI, Billy?" she asked her boss, who replied: "That's really more of an individual thing".

Ja Rule and McFarland are now on the receiving end of a flurry of lawsuits in relation to the cancelled festival, from both disappointed ticket holders and unpaid suppliers. And the New York Times report into the whole Fyre debacle name-checks a number of other aggrieved individuals who may as yet file their own litigation. Though whether Team Fyre will actually need to defend criminal charges too remains to seen.


Downtown to rep Niall Horan's songwriting
US music publisher Downtown is "THRILLED" to have that one-time 1Der Niall Horan on its roster. And who wouldn't be? Me. I wouldn't be. But I'm happy to accept that I'm the odd one here.

Downtown confirmed it was now repping Horan's music publishing assets last week, noting that the now solo 1D boy's "debut single as a solo artist, 'This Town', was the first track to ever debut at number one on Billboard's Social 50 Chart and recently earned Niall a Platinum Award for songwriting from the National Music Publishers Association".

"As a member of One Direction, whose songs are also administered by Downtown, Niall co-wrote tracks on every one of the group's five albums" the publisher added, for all you cynics out there going "yeah right, Niall Horan's a songwriter is he?" Writing songs is what he does, OK, and you should all be "THRILLED" about that fact.


Manners McDade signs Balmorhea
London-based music publisher Manners McDade has signed Texas-based Balmorhea, the instrumental outfit founded in 2006 by Rob Lowe and Michael Muller who have now put out a total of six studio albums.

Says the publisher's Catherine Manners: "Balmorhea bring a unique and very American flavour to our roster of instrumental artists and we're absolutely delighted to be able to represent their catalogue on a worldwide basis. We're looking forward to working with a US-based band with such an extensive and exciting back catalogue. And we just can't wait for their new album release!"

Confirming the signing from their side, Lowe and Muller said in near-perfect unison: "We couldn't be more excited to be joining forces with Manners McDade for our music publishing. Their reputation precedes them and we are THRILLED to be in the company of some of the best instrumental artists making music today. We are confident that this partnership will help represent our music to a global audience and allow us to continue expanding the world of Balmorhea".


BPI responds to Conservative and Labour election manifestos
So, now The Great Escape is over, I guess I need to actually pay attention to all this electioneering that is going on; remember that #GE means 'general election' not 'great escape'; remind any Brits going to MIDEM that it clashes with the #GE so you need to sort out a postal vote; and finally maybe read some of the manifesto gubbins that have now been published in one form or another.

On the latter front, UK record industry trade body the BPI is one step ahead of me, and has already digested the manifesto commitments made by both Team Corbyn and Team Mayhem, saying that it "welcomes the commitment in both the Conservative and Labour manifestos to ensure sustainable business models and a level playing field for the creative industries".

The BPI spokesperson added: "The 'value gap' - certain online platforms exploiting a lack of clarity in copyright law to avoid paying fairly for content - has acted as a significant brake on the growth of the digital music business. Action is required at both EU and UK level to correct this distortion and to allow creators to share fairly in all the opportunities of digital connectivity".

Concluding, the spokesperson added: "We also strongly support the commitment in the Conservative manifesto to a new regulatory framework for digital companies, social media platforms and content providers, to ensure that they behave with the same responsibility that is expected from businesses in the offline environment and protect consumers from illegal and harmful content".

Yeah, good look with that Team Mayhem. Strong and stable, strong and stable.


Canada's Pemberton Music Festival goes into bankruptcy
Canada's Pemberton Music Festival, due to take place in July, has gone under, with poor ticket sales and currency fluctuations being partly blamed. Ticketholders are being told that they will have to join the queue of unsecured creditors if they want to try to get a refund.

A statement on the festival's website states that "the 2017 Pemberton Music Festival scheduled for July 13-16, 2017 is cancelled and will not proceed as scheduled. The trustee will issue formal notice of the bankruptcy proceeding to all known creditors of PMF within five days of its appointment".

The 'trustee' in the bankruptcy is Ernst & Young Inc. The statement continues with a message for those who had bought tickets for this year's event, saying that: "Unfortunately there are no automatic refunds from PMF. As PMF is now in bankruptcy, it has no ability to provide refunds for tickets purchased. However ticketholders may file a proof of claim form as an unsecured creditor with EYI in accordance with the claims process".

The trustees add that ticketholders may have some protection from their bank or credit card companies that would then provide a refund, though in Canada that depends on the policies of the individual finance firms. "Refunds may be available to ticketholders from third parties if tickets were purchased using a credit card", it says. "As each bank and credit card issuer have their own specific policies, ticketholders are to contact their bank or credit card issuer directly to determine whether a refund can be obtained".

Pandora's Ticketfly handled ticketing for the event. It said in a post on Facebook: "We have just been informed that Pemberton Music Festival has been cancelled. We are in communication with the event organisers and the bankruptcy trustee. We understand that ticket buyers want to see this issue resolved as soon as possible. We will report back when we have more information".

The Pemberton Music Festival has been promoted by US-based Huka Entertainment since 2014, the event in part inspired by the one-off Pemberton Festival staged by Live Nation in the same location in 2008. However, Huka Entertainment itself is still in business, the festival having actually been owned by the owner of the site where it took place, who was seemingly behind the decision to put the operation into bankruptcy.

Huka Entertainment said in a statement: "For the past four years Huka Entertainment has worked to create a one-of-a-kind experience in the most beautiful place on earth. We are heartbroken to see the 2017 Pemberton Music Festival cancelled. As a contract producer, Huka did not make the decision to cancel the Festival. That decision was made by the Pemberton Music Festival, LP. We are extremely disappointed for our fans, artists and all of our partners who have supported the festival over the years".


Vevo enhances its Apple TV app
Vevo last week unveiled the latest upgrade to its Apple TV app, which, says the music video provider, "has a redesigned user interface that blends simplified navigation and improved personalisation to get users to the content they love quickly and easily".

Launching the new app for users of Apple's TV system, Vevo boss Erik Huggers said: "Music videos became a cultural phenomenon through the power and reach of television over the last thirty years. In recent years, this platform has lacked the rich and immersive experience that a new generation of viewers demand from their connected devices".

He went on: "With Vevo for tvOS, we've created an environment that allows the music video to shine once again on the big screen, with an intuitive user interface and new levels of personalisation and control".

Lovely stuff. Features include a new design and layout that gets playlists in front of the user faster, the ability to browse while listening to a playlist, and lots of personalised curation gubbins. The new app went live in Apple's app store on Friday.


CMU@TGE 2017: The top five visa mistakes made by musicians
Look out for reports on all the key sessions at the CMU Insights conferences at The Great Escape over the next few weeks. Plus, from next Monday, we'll be publishing a series of CMU Trends reports providing more in depth versions of the insight presentations CMU Insights delivered during TGE this year - go premium to access CMU Trends. Today, visa tips from our Export Conference.

As part of the BPI-supported CMU Insights Export Conference at this year's Great Escape, the founder of entertainment industry visa and immigration services company Viva La Visa, Andy Corrigan, presented a session on the top five visa mistakes commonly made by musicians before heading out to perform internationally.

Visas for musicians have been in the news a lot this year of course, after numerous artists found themselves turned away from the US border as they travelled into the country to perform at SXSW, amid confusion over what kind of American visa you actually need to play at the big showcasing event.

Though artists getting stuck at international borders facing visa issues is nothing new. Here are Corrigan's top five tips to greatly reduce the chances of that happening to your artists as they go global.

1. Don't leave it too late
The most common problem we encounter is artists simply not allowing sufficient time to properly process all the visas they need.

It's difficult, we know, because while the bigger artists plan their tours a long time in advance, for smaller artists offers can come in late in the day. But one of the major problems we have to tackle is a lack of planning on the artist's side.

Sometimes artists will look online and see information about different visas that says this element of the process takes this many days, this element this many days, and then they add that together and assume that's all the time they need.

But that doesn't take into account the delays which can often occur. And people routinely underestimate the time needed at the top end, before anything is submitted, getting all the information and documentation together for a visa. Things take longer than you expect, and rush jobs end up costing more.

2. Don't get the wrong visa
This was the issue that caused problems around SXSW this year. There used to be an opinion, in part communicated by SXSW itself, that people coming from overseas to only play official showcases didn't require a work visa, and could travel into the US on either an ESTA or a visitor's visa.

This had mainly worked for the last four years. SXSW produced a letter that said, "this person has been invited to perform at this private showcase - allow them to enter", and the authorities usually did. But this year that didn't always work, and we saw people's ESTAs being revoked, sometimes mid-flight, or before they travelled.

This raises the question, what visa do you need for the US? Our conclusion at the moment is that you should always get a work visa to be on the safe side. That applies to whatever type of performances you're doing. Remember, the previous system was based on an opinion rather than an edict from the American government, and it doesn't seem to work now.

The ultimate decision over whether or not you are allowed into the country to play is down to the official you meet on the border. If they think you're coming in to work and you're on a visitor's visa, they will Google you and see if you have any dates booked. If they refuse you entry, you get turned around and sent home, plus you'll find it more difficult in the future to get a visa. And you won't be able to travel on an ESTA again.

Other territories have different categories of visa as well.

China does, and these are slightly grey areas. The norm is to go in on business visas, rather than work visas, because things are still in a state of flux in China. But you still have to know what your visa entitles you to do, in case you're questioned. In India, if you apply for a media visa - or anything that's perceived to be a media visa - it will get held up an extra two weeks, so often people travel to India on business visas.

Basically, you need to be really clear on what you're going to be doing when you are in any one country and what your visa allows you to do.

3. Don't lie on the form
This mainly applies to America as well. In American immigration law, they set great store by misrepresentation.

If you're ineligible to enter the US for some reason - say, because of a criminal record - it can be a grey area, because it depends on whether the crime that you've committed is sufficiently serious. However, misrepresentation - lying - is a very clear cut offence. And so they can say, if you misrepresent anything on any visa application, then you're inadmissible. It's really simple. And it happens a lot.

We know from practical experience that when people are questioned at the border, they're much more likely to be looked kindly upon if they answer truthfully and appear to be open. And we always advise applicants that when they go for their visa interview at the US embassy to be as open and straightforward and honest as they possibly can be, and appear to be so too.

If you have any criminal convictions, there's a process you need to go through, by which you get a UK police certificate which outlines your convictions. You take that with you to the visa interview. They'll say you're inadmissible because of the criminal record, but in US visa law there's what's known as a waiver.

So, for every conviction there's a direct waiver to counter it, to say that you can be admitted. That process takes longer - typically six months for the State Department to adjudicate - though once you've done it the first time, in theory subsequent visa applications should be quicker.

4. Don't forget that rules can change
Rules change, and one of our jobs as a visa company is to keep up to date with all the changes in both the rules and any interpretations of those rules. And it's not easy, because the relevant authorities don't necessarily have PR departments - they don't always tell you everything.

For instance, there has been a change for UK passport holders travelling to Canada, in that they've now introduced an ESTA-type system - an electronic visa. You fill in a form online, and one of the questions on the form is 'have you committed any offences?', so you have the same situation as America.

If you put 'no' and they find out that you have, then you'll be thrown out. If you put 'yes', then you'll be inadmissible to Canada and you'll require a waiver, which takes several weeks. That potentially puts people who haven't had problems playing in Canada in the past into a situation where now they will.

5. Don't forget to budget for visa costs
You can do most visa processing by yourself, but generally people find it helpful to use an expert. In terms of budgeting, I think it's good to speak to a visa company early on, and a good one should give you an idea of how to budget for your entire immigration costs.

Typically, we'll have clients who come to us for a whole world tour. At the moment we're doing Ed Sheeran, and they came to us before the start of the tour to talk about immigration and visas for the next two years. We had a meeting and talked through figures, in the same way they would for their sound supplier, and lighting, staging... all the other tour supplies. It's a cost, like every other tour cost.

It can be made cheaper if you allow more time. But to be honest, American work visas are expensive for a new emerging act. It's going to be at least £3000 or £4000 by the time you get to the US, and that's a significant amount of money. But that's the way it is. The UK music industry is lobbying to try to change it - the Musicians' Union and ourselves and other organisations are trying to get it more cost effective - but at the moment we're stuck with it, and it's not a very high priority for the US government.

An artist's touring contract might state that all immigration costs are borne by the promoter. Particularly if you're going to, say, South Korea, that would probably be the case, or Australia for something one-off. But America, not so much, because trips to the US tend to be longer and you tend to be contracting with more than one promoter, and probably many. So sometimes it works to put immigration costs in the promoter contract, sometimes it doesn't, but it is definitely worth considering.

Check out all the reports and resources CMU has published around this year's CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conferences here. Find out more about Viva La Visa here.


Approved: Sampa The Great
Since emerging with her debut mixtape in late 2015, Sampa The Great has been building a fine reputation that now seems set to reach a wider audience.

Following the release of new EP - 'HERoes Act 2' - and having completed a UK tour, including two shows at The Great Escape, hers is a name I've started hearing more often. But it might not have happened at all.

"At a point in time when I didn't want to continue creating music, and was basically at the brink of giving up before I could even really start, I went through a period of finding inspiration", she says. "I was able to express this in the form of a three track EP".

She's now en route to Australia for tour dates there, so catch her live at those shows if you can. Otherwise, here is the new EP.

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

Drake dominates at Billboard Music Awards
It was the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas last night, in which Billboard presented some awards to people who make music. What a winning formula! Talking of winners, here are the acts who took the headline prizes. For the full list of winners click here - though here’s the tl;dr: Drake won most of them.

Top Male Artist: Drake
Top Female Artist: Beyonce
Top Duo/Group: Twenty One Pilots
Icon Award: Cher

Top Billboard 200 Artist: Drake
Top Hot 100 Artist: Drake
Top Song Sales Artist: Drake
Top Touring Artist: Beyonce

Top Hot 100 Song: The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, Closer
Top Selling Song: Justin Timberlake, Can’t Stop The Feeling!


Danny DeVito comes out in support of Jeremy Corbyn. And grime
Life is weird. Particularly at the moment. The UK delayed the start of negotiations to leave the European Union - which were already set to take place in an impossibly short space of time - in order to have an election we were promised wouldn't take place. And now very much American Danny DeVito has joined British grime artists in supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in that election.

"UK, you've got the guy", tweeted DeVito at the end of last week. "Register by May 22nd. Vote for Jeremy Corbyn - show us how it's done! #grime4corbyn".

Obviously it's that hashtag that makes this music news - if tenuously so. The grime scene's support for Corbyn and the Labour Party has been growing in recent weeks. As has the use of the #grime4corbyn hashtag. Does this mean DeVito is a closet grime fan? Maybe he could be the next person to chat politics with JME.

Although if there are to be any political collaborations with DeVito, a queue will have to form. Following an earlier DeVito endorsement last year, Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "I feel a 'Twins' sequel coming on".

Elsewhere, Corbyn opened for The Libertines at Wirral Live this weekend, and MIA has said that she's registered to vote for the "first and only time" in this election.

Anyway, you only have until midnight tonight to register to vote, or you'll just be left watching from the sidelines. Don't disappoint Danny DeVito.


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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