TODAY'S TOP STORY: While Spotify's core business remains selling subscriptions, with the ad industry heading to the Med for its annual Cannes Lions junket next week, the streaming firm yesterday revealed its latest overall user figure, which - of course - includes all those freebie streamers that big brands might like to pay to reach... [READ MORE]
VIGSY'S CLUB TIP: Next Thursday, main man Mark de Clive Lowe will be jetting in from LA to play live at Kamio in Shoreditch. Four Letter Word are hosting the gig, which will also feature support from Wu-Lu. MCdL will be live remixing tracks for the dancefloor with drummer Moses Boyd joining him on stage. [READ MORE]
BEEF OF THE WEEK: I had mixed feelings when Bob Dylan finally turned in his Nobel Prize lecture just days before the deadline earlier this month. On the one hand, it was a nice way to round off the story. On the other, I was a little sad that a story I had been enjoying for months had ended in a less than dramatic manner. Of course, I should have had faith that there would be more still to come. [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 Spotify settling the big mechanical royalties class action lawsuit that has been hanging over its plans to list on the stock market, arguments from both sides of the safe harbours debate in Europe hotting up, and Theresa May's assault on the charts. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU TRENDS: While the challenges faced by the music industry since the mainstream adoption of the internet in the early 2000s have been widely documented, the music media has faced many of the same challenges too. CMU Trends reviews recent developments and trends in the music media business, and the ongoing challenges faced by media owners. CMU Trends articles are available to premium subscribers. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Spotify tops 140 million users, as losses double in 2016
LEGAL YouTuber Austin Jones bailed
US government asks Supreme Court to ignore Kim Dotcom's "fugitive" appeal
LIVE BUSINESS New York City announces plans for Nighttime Ambassador
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU@TGE 2017: The MEGS Guide To Exporting New Talent
RELEASES Queens Of The Stone Age announce Mark Ronson-produced new album
Frankie Rose announces new album
Chelsea Wolfe collaborates with Converge and QOTSA members on new album
ONE LINERS Coldplay, Myrkur, Scottish Album Of The Year, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #359: Bob Dylan v Literature
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Tru Thoughts is looking to hire a new member of the press and radio department, to work in-house at our office in Brighton. The candidate should be confident, outgoing and organised, with a demonstrable passion for the label’s music (and a love of being by the sea).

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Do you eat, sleep and breathe music? New, old, cross genre, artists that should have been, guilty pleasures and everything in between? Kilimanjaro Live is looking for a new promoter to join the team here, working on everything from pub gigs to, who knows, football stadiums.

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An Accounts/Finance Manager is required for busy London-based artist and producer management company Solar Management. The ideal candidate must have the ability to multitask, be able to work on their own initiative and have excellent organisational skills. A knowledge of PRS, PPL, royalty accounting and withholding tax is useful.

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17 Jun 2017 CMU:DIY x TuneCore's Blueprint
20 Jun 2017 CMU:DIY x Urban Development: Where Labels & Publishers Fit In
weekly from 25 Sep 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: The How The Music Business Works Programme
25 Sep 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: Making Money From Music
2 Oct 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: How Music Rights Work
9 Oct 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: How Music Licensing Works
16 Oct 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: The Music Rights Sector
23 Oct 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: Merch, Live & Brands
30 Oct 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fanbase – Social Media Tools
6 Nov 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fanbase – Music Media
13 Nov 2017 CMU Insights Seminar: Building A Fan-Orientated Business

Spotify tops 140 million users, as losses double in 2016
While Spotify's core business remains selling subscriptions, with the ad industry heading to the Med for its annual Cannes Lions junket next week, the streaming firm yesterday revealed its latest overall user figure, which - of course - includes all those freebie streamers that big brands might like to pay to reach.

Spotify now has over 140 million active users worldwide, up from the 100 million figure that was declared a year ago. As of March, 50 million were paying to use the service, and even though that figure will have risen since then, the streaming platform still commands an audience approaching 90 million that are in the reach of brands with ad spend. If only they'd fucking spend it. Go on brands, spend a little why don't you? I mean, think of all the consumer data the streaming service is sitting on.

Or, in the words of Spotify's Global Head Of Sales, Brian Benedik: "Spotify's streaming intelligence provides psychographic and behavioural audience insights which go way beyond traditional demographics. Through billions of hours of on-demand, mobile-first listening on the Spotify platform, we've learned that music reflects people's real-time moods and activities and captures unique understanding of moments in their lives".

"We are just beginning to explore what these amazing insights can do for brands", notes Benedik. "It's an exciting time for our Spotify global advertising business. We launched our free, ad-supported tier on mobile three years ago, and the business is still growing fast with more than 50% year over year growth in 2016".

Speaking directly to the advertising types heading to France, Spotify's top sales man concluded: "This coming week, let's celebrate what Cannes Lions has always been about ... the creativity that fuels and powers this industry at its best. Then, let's move forward with our audience in mind, thinking about how we can surprise, inspire, and engage them in exciting new ways". Go on brands, surprise, inspire and engage, why don't you?

While Spotify is trying hard to build a media business around its free level, the streaming firm's core business remains premium subscriptions, meaning the ultimate end game is to convert as many of those freebie streamers into paying customers as possible.

Loss-making Spotify needs significant scale - in terms of paying users - to become a viable business long term. The latest stats brag came alongside chatter about a financial filing from the streaming business, which revealed that while its revenues grew by 50% in 2016 to 2.9 billion euros, net losses more than doubled to nearly 557 million euros.

The single biggest cost for Spotify, of course, is the royalties it pays to the record companies, music publishers and collecting societies. And while streaming deals are, at heart, revenue share arrangements, the minimum guarantees and advances the music industry demands continues to put pressure on Spotify.

The digital company has managed to negotiate slightly better terms with Universal Music and indie-label repping Merlin via its latest multi-year licensing deals, reducing revenue share commitments to the labels, in part to compensate for the big music publishers pushing their revenue share rates up.

Nevertheless, Spotify has committed to pay over at least 2 billion euros to rights owners over the next two years, the new financial filing confirmed. And to secure those more favourable deals, it had to make commitments on future performance and allow the labels to hold off brand new releases from freemium for two weeks.

Which possibly makes the freebie version of Spotify being pushed so heavily at Cannes Lions a slightly less attractive proposition. Depending on whether the labels can keep their windowed new releases off other free streaming services, in particular user-upload platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube.

Still, Spotify's subscriber growth stats remain impressive, and ultimately the long-term success of the business depends on just how many paying subscribers it can ultimately get signed-up before it peaks, and whether that will be sufficient to make the numbers add up and take the company into profit.

And you never know, Benedik might score some serious brand money in Cannes to help make freemium slightly less of a loss-leader.

Elsewhere in Spotify news, tickets! Having done a deal with Ticketmaster last year on top of its long-running alliance with Songkick, Spotify is now integrating with AEG's ticketing service AXS and self-service ticketing company Eventbrite.

Does that mean people listening to the CMU Podcast on Spotify will be able to buy tickets to CMU Insights training courses via Eventbrite right there in the app? I don't know. But hey, look at my clever subtle plugs.


YouTuber Austin Jones bailed
YouTuber music star Austin Jones has been released on bail, after being arrested for allegedly coercing teenage fans into sending him explicit videos of themselves.

As previously reported, Jones was arrested on Monday evening after landing at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, and was subsequently charged with two felony counts of 'production of child pornography', each of which carry a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years in jail if he is found guilty.

He is accused of engaging in online conversations with two fourteen year old girls in which he encouraged them to send him sexually explicit videos in order to "prove" they were his biggest fan.

Prior to a court hearing yesterday, Jones had been held in custody over fears that he was a flight risk. However, a judge has now allowed him to go free on the condition that he remains at his mother's Chicago home and does not use the internet.


US government asks Supreme Court to ignore Kim Dotcom's "fugitive" appeal
America's Department Of Justice has asked the US Supreme Court to ignore the latest appeal by MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom, who is still trying to get reconnected to the millions that were seized when his sometimes controversial former business was shut down by the feds in 2012.

As much previously reported, the US authorities shutdown MegaUpload on copyright infringement grounds, requesting that Dotcom and a number of his then colleagues in New Zealand, and elsewhere, be arrested, while also seizing most of the company's assets. Efforts to extradite Dotcom to the US to face various charges in a US courtroom are still ongoing, while there have been an assortment of other legal wranglings in relation to MegaUpload in both America and New Zealand.

Among them have been Dotcom's efforts to reclaim some or all of the assets and funds seized back in 2012. Last year the US Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeal backed a lower court ruling saying that Dotcom should not be reconnected to those assets, mainly because they consider the former MegaUpload chief a fugitive. But Dotcom's lawyer hit back at that argument, saying that his client wasn't a 'fugitive', but was exercising his legal right to fight extradition to the US.

To that end, Dotcom's lawyer Ira Rothken announced he'd take the matter to the US Supreme Court. He told Reuters at the time: "This opinion has the effect of eviscerating Kim Dotcom's treaty rights by saying if you lawfully oppose extradition in New Zealand, the US will still call you a fugitive and take all of your assets. We think it's American imperialism at its best, and we're hoping the Supreme Court will see it for what it is, and reverse it".

Dotcom's petition was filed with the Supreme Court in April. Earlier this month the US Department Of Justice lodged its response, arguing that it is, in fact, appropriate to define the former MegaUpload chiefs as "fugitives", and that doing so is in line with both the wishes of Congress when writing the laws that are relevant here, and also past judgements in similar cases in America.

After outlining its arguments in some detail, the US government's filing then had a very short conclusion. That: "The petition for a writ of certiorari should be denied". Which basically means it wants the Supreme Court to tell Dotcom and his legal team to go away. We await the Supreme Court's response.


New York City announces plans for Nighttime Ambassador
New York City is to follow Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and London in having an official to specifically oversee the cultivation of its nightlife. The city's Office Of Media And Entertainment has announced plans to install its first Nighttime Ambassador as part of a new economic plan launched yesterday.

"I am THRILLED that Mayor [Bill] de Blasio has announced the creation of a new function within our agency, a nightlife office, the City's first Nighttime Ambassador", says NYC's Media And Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. "New York City nightlife is second to none and is a major reason why people around the world flock here to live and visit".

Referencing the need for someone to specifically oversee New York's night time economy, and echoing some of the reason's for Amy Lamé's installation in a similar role in London last year, Menin continues: "[Nightlife businesses are] also a vital part of the city's economy generating hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic output. Yet in recent years, over 20% of small music venues in the city have closed. Our office aims to work with various stakeholders to both support the industry and ensure that community concerns are being addressed".

Nightlife brings around $10 billion into the wider New York economy annually, reckons the mayor's office, as well as providing over 300,000 people with employment.


CMU@TGE 2017: The MEGS Guide To Exporting New Talent
Look out for more reports throughout June on key sessions that took place at the CMU Insights conferences at The Great Escape last month. Today, the MEGS Guide To Exporting New Talent.

Funded by the Department For International Trade and administered by the BPI, the Music Export Growth Scheme aims to support independent British artists who have gained momentum in the UK and who are ready extend that success overseas.

Chris Tams from the BPI provided a beginners guide to the scheme as part of the CMU Insights Export Conference - reported on here - while three artist managers also spoke about their respective work with three artists who had received MEGS funding to help them with marketing and touring activity in new markets. Samantha Smith from Fairsound Management spoke about her work with LoneLady, David Manders from Liquid Management about Public Service Broadcasting and Phil Middleton from ATC about The Temperance Movement.

LoneLady received MEGS funding to support international marketing around the release of her second album 'Hinterland' in 2015. It was the second time manager Smith had applied to the funding scheme on behalf of LoneLady, the first application not being successful. "We just had more traction in the UK", Smith said, explaining why she thought the second application received funding. "It's really part of the MEGS approach that there should be traction and success in the UK that the artist can build on abroad", she added.

Public Service Broadcasting manager Manders agreed that this was a key element of the MEGS scheme. "We did very well off the first EP in the UK. We were just approaching Forum-level venues as far as the live shows go, and the band's first proper album, 'Inform Educate Entertain', came out and went into the charts at 21. That was the point when we thought, we have a good business in the UK now, let's start thinking about international and growing things".

Bands need to ultimately think internationally, Manders added, if they are looking to enjoy a long career making music. But taking those first steps into new markets can be tricky and risky - especially for independent artists and labels operating on tight margins - which, of course, is why MEGS was created. The timing of the scheme's launch worked well for Public Service Broadcasting, with Manders noting that "we were actually one of the acts supported by the first round of MEGS funding".

Of course, for artists, international expansion is partly about boosting record sales and streams, but it is also about building greater demand for live shows, so that an artist can be touring for more of the year. Different artists will have different priorities. For The Temperance Movement, manager Middleton always saw the key opportunities as lying within the live sphere.

"The Temperance Movement are a rock n roll band", he said. "They're a live band. They record music yes, and they sell records, yes. But they're a classic 'tickets and t-shirts' band. That's what they do, that's who they are, that's the work ethic that will sustain their career".

Therefore what the band needed MEGS support for most was to expand the reach of their European touring activity, to find a live audience in more places, which would enable the band to play more gigs each year in the long term.

The funding was used for simple practical things. "The additional funding meant the band could afford something like a tour bus", Middleton said. "That tour bus meant we could play not just capital cities - not just four or five shows in total - but we could now make a 35 date tour a realistic prospect, and for a band like The Temperance Movement, that was what they needed".

The strategy seemingly worked, with the band's European audience growing as they toured. "Their tour went from being 150-cap shows to 500 and continues to rise", said Middleton. And there were other benefits too. "They picked up a new German promoter on the tour, who also happens to book the Stones" he added. "Once the band had a working relationship with that promoter, we got support slots at the four Stones shows in Europe. Which was a godsend because of the PRS cheque that came with those performances. The performing right royalties from playing those support slots were in six figures, and that kept the band in business for the next two years".

Finding the right business partners abroad is key to artists enjoying success in new markets, and MEGS funding often allows acts to build those partnerships. For those artists working with independent labels, that might be about allowing those record companies to dedicate more time and resource via their local offices in other markets, or it might be about hiring local suppliers, especially in marketing and PR.

Public Service Broadcasting released their album via their own label, so they had to find those business partners abroad from scratch. Manders said: "It was phone friends, ask people, who do you use in the territory? Get on the phone, speak to them. For years, I've done quite a lot of the music conferences, in various countries, so I've got to meet a fair few internationals over that time. Speak to those people, ask them, get advice. It's a lot of trial and error".

LoneLady is signed to Warp, so Smith could work with the label on securing expertise. The record company had its own people in some places, and even where they decided to hire external PR agencies to boost media exposure, "Warp were able to help us with that", Smith said. "Because they had people they had worked with before".

Though once those local business partners are on board - whether label, promoter or PR/marketing agencies - the manager still needs to stay on top of all the activity, and make sure everyone is working in sync. Another challenge for management and the key business partners is deciding with new markets to prioritise, especially in an era where you tend to release every new record globally on the same day, rather than staggering the release country by country.

Manders: "With this worldwide release thing in the digital age, everything goes live at the same time worldwide. But you can't be in every country at the same time. That can be frustrating. It was actually nice when you could go: 'Right we won't release in Germany yet, we won't release in Australia yet, let's wait until we can get into the market and then there will be more attention on the band'. Because you will definitely make a bigger impact - and likely get much better media support - when you are actually on the ground in each territory".

Smith agreed. If you get media support in a country, or traction on the streaming platforms there, you want to capitalise on that momentum, and the best way to do that is to go there. But at the same time, management and label need to properly weigh up the relative merits of every opportunity. "It's exciting to get offered support slots in Spain and to go and play with a band for four days", she said. "But it might ultimately cost you £5000 and, actually, is it the right thing to be doing at that time? You could stay in the UK and make an amazing video that will have impact everywhere".

Even with the streaming services possibly allowing you to get more traction in more markets more quickly, taking an artist international is still a long-term project. "Definitely when you start to go into international, you really have to be committed long-term, there's no short fix involved in it at all", Manders said. "We never expected 'oh right, we'll get this MEGS funding, we'll be massive in America, it'll all be fine and we won't need anything again'. It's really about trying to develop something over the next ten years. You can't spread yourself too thinly, you have to pick your markets carefully. You have to go there at the right time".

To that end MEGS isn't expecting overnight success, though as Tams explained when outlining the programme during the Export Conference, the scheme is all about return on investment, on ultimately growing the international businesses of UK artists, and in doing so benefiting the British economy.

"This isn't an arts fund, it's a business fund", Manders noted. Return on investment is key, for that artist as well as the funder though. Middleton: "We did a couple of applications that we actually scrapped at the last minute. We've gone through them and thought, 'Jeez, the return on this investment is not worth it. It's the wrong time, wrong place, wrong act, wrong everything. We're not going to do it'. And actually scrapped the activity".

"MEGS is not free money", Manders also noted. "It's there to support you and help with your growth and export. You still have to put 30% in yourself. It's not cheap. You need a good home business as well".

In terms of securing MEGS funding - it's a very competitive scheme - as well as picking the right project for the right artists at the right time, putting some effort into the application is also key. Manders: "Our budgets were very precise, we knew exactly what we were going to be spending on a radio plugger, on a press officer, a little bit of tour support, even bits of advertising, some digital marketing".

He added: "Probably about 80% of the people we were going to work with, we already knew who we were going to use, so we could provide a CV for each of them, so the MEGS panel could say 'yeah, OK, they've got good people in the market that really understand what they've doing. And they've thought it through properly'".

Check out all the reports and resources CMU has published around this year's CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conferences here.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Mark de Clive Lowe at Kamio
Next Thursday, main man Mark de Clive Lowe will be jetting in from LA to play live at Kamio in Shoreditch. Four Letter Word are hosting the gig, which will also feature support from Wu-Lu.

MCdL will be live remixing tracks for the dancefloor with drummer Moses Boyd joining him on stage. With MdCL being something of a musical genius, this is sure to be a cracker.

Thursday 22 Jun, Kamio, Red Gallery, 1 Rivington Street, EC2A 3DT, 8pm-12am, £10. More info here.

Queens Of The Stone Age announce Mark Ronson-produced new album
Queens Of The Stone Age are all set to release a new album called 'Villains' on 25 Aug. Guess the producer. Nope. Nope. Nope. OK, I'll tell you, it's Mark Ronson. As a result, they now sound a bit Mark Ronson-y.

"The most important aspect of making this record was redefining our sound", says the band's Josh Homme of how they came to be a bit Ronson-y. "Asking and answering the question 'what do we sound like now?' If you can't make a great first record, you should just stop - but if you can make a great record but you keep making records and your sound doesn't evolve, you become a parody of that original sound".

On his role in making them sound a bit Ronson-y, Ronson adds: "Queens are and have always been my favourite rock n roll band ever since I walked into Tower on Sunset and bought 'Rated R' in the summer of 2000. So it was incredibly surreal to be welcomed into their secret, pirate clan - or the 'jacuzzi' as Josh likes to call it".

Sticking with this nonsense jargon, he continues: "I also knew that my super fandom alone would not keep me in the jacuzzi. There were moments during the making of the album in which I was aware I was watching my musical heroes craft something that was sure to become one of my favourite moments on any Queens album. And to have some part in that felt like being in a dream - a very heavy, dark, wonderful dream".

Listen to the Ronson-y new QOTSA single, 'The Way You Used To Do', here.

And what new album release - Ronson-y or otherwise - would be complete without a few tour dates? Here are some, tickets for which don't even go on sale until next Wednesday:

19 Nov: Manchester Arena
21 Nov: London, O2 Arena
23 Nov: Edinburgh, Usher Hall
24 Nov: Dublin, 3 Arena


Frankie Rose announces new album
Frankie Rose has announced that she will release a new album, titled 'Cage Tropical', on 11 Aug. About bloody time. There is a single that is out now. It is called 'Trouble'.

"'Trouble' came out of the simple realisation that you can't outrun yourself or your problems", says Rose of the song. "Wherever you go they will follow you unless you address them. I tried. Went to Los Angeles after years in New York and nothing much changed. 3000 miles was a long distance on the map, but it didn't mean anything was going to shift automatically, unless I made the choice to do it internally".

Possibly in-keeping with this theme, the video for the single features a phone number, based in Roswell, which you can call in order to leave voicemail messages of your stories of paranormal activity. Some of those stories will then be aired on the 'Weird Night with Juan & Frankie' podcast. A podcast that doesn't seem to exist outside references to this album announcement.

Anyway, you wanna make a call, you'd better watch this video.

You could also tell Rose your story face to face by shouting it from the audience at one of these shows:

17 Oct: Brighton, The Joker
18 Oct: London, Moth Club
19 Oct: Manchester, Castle
20 Oct: Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete's
21 Oct: Coventry, Kasbah
22 Oct: Nottingham, Bodega
24 Oct: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
25 Oct: Tunbridge Well, The Forum


Chelsea Wolfe collaborates with Converge and QOTSA members on new album
Yes, well, Chelsea Wolfe is going to release a new album. And sooner than you think. Assuming that you think she will release it on or after 23 Sep, because its release date is 22 Sep. It's called 'Hiss Spun'. The album, that is. Not sure what you thought I was talking about. You're weird.

Produced by Converge's Kurt Ballou - and featuring guitar from Queens Of The Stone Age's Troy Van Leeuwen - Wolfe says of the subject matter of the album: "I wanted to write some sort of escapist music; songs that were just about being in your body, and getting free. You're just bombarded with constant bad news, people getting fucked over and killed for shitty reasons or for no reason at all, and it seems like the world has been in tears for months, and then you remember it's been fucked for a long time, it's been fucked since the beginning. It's overwhelming and I have to write about it".

"The album is cyclical, like me and my moods", she continues. "Cycles, obsession, spinning, centrifugal force - all with gut feelings as the centre of the self. I'm at odds with myself - I got tired of trying to disappear. The record became very personal in that way. I wanted to open up more, but also create my own reality".

Here's first single '16 Psyche'.


Coldplay, Myrkur, Scottish Album Of The Year, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Liam Gallagher's best mates Coldplay have released a new song, 'All I Can Think About Is You'. It's taken from their upcoming 'Kaleidoscope', which is out on 14 Jul.

• Myrkur will release her new album, 'Mareridt', on 15 Sep. Brilliant. Here's a trailer.

• Akercocke will release a new album, 'Renaissance In Extremis', on 25 Aug. Here's first single 'Disappear'.

• Methyl Ethel have released the video for new single, 'Drink Wine'. They're about to go on tour with Pond, which is nice.

• Barbarossa has released a live video of himself performing new single 'Griptide', which you should watch now. He'll be touring with This Is The Kit in September.

• This year's Scottish Album Of The Year shortlist has been announced. On it are the following: C Duncan - The Midnight Sun, Ela Orleans - Circles Of Upper And Lower Hell, Honeyblood - Babes Never Die, Konx-om-Pax - Caramel, Meursault - I Will Kill Again, Mogwai - Atomic, Pictish Trail - Future Echoes, Rachel Newton I Here's My Heart Come Take It, RM Hubbert - Telling The Trees, Sacred Paws - Strike A Match.


Beef Of The Week #359: Bob Dylan v Literature
I had mixed feelings when Bob Dylan finally turned in his Nobel Prize lecture just days before the deadline earlier this month. On the one hand, it was a nice way to round off the story. On the other, I was a little sad that a story I had been enjoying for months had ended in a less than dramatic manner. Of course, I should have had faith that there would be more still to come.

As you may remember, in his long delayed speech, Dylan pondered a question asked by many when he had been named winner of last year's Nobel Prize In Literature, wondering if song lyrics can really be thought of as literature. In his pondering of this point, he examined three genuine works of literature that had been an influence on him: 'Moby Dick', 'All Quiet On The Western Front' and 'The Odyssey'.

The day after the speech was published, author Ben Greenman wrote a blog post noting that a quote attributed to 'Moby Dick' by Dylan in his speech doesn't actually feature in the book. He went back and read the book just to make sure. Nope, not there.

"It appears, from all available evidence, that Dylan invented the quote and inserted it into his reading of 'Moby Dick'", wrote Greenman. "Was it on purpose? Was it the result of a faulty memory? Was it an egg, left in the lawn to be discovered in case it's Eastertime too? Answering these questions would be drilling into the American Sphinx, and beside the point anyway. As it stands, it's very much in the spirit of his entire enterprise: to take various American masterworks and absorb and transform them. The mystery of it makes a wonderful lecture even more wonderful".

While Greenman didn't feel this was something worth investigating further, the anomaly also intrigued another author, Andrea Pitzer, who felt differently. She began an investigation that uncovered something truly perplexing. It appeared that Dylan hadn't invented the quote at all. Rather, he'd cut and pasted it from a high school study guide about 'Moby Dick' on a website called SparkNotes and misattributed it to the book itself.

"In Dylan's recounting, a 'Quaker pacifist priest' tells Flask, the third mate, 'Some men who receive injuries are led to God, others are led to bitterness'", she wrote in an article for Slate. "No such line appears anywhere in Herman Melville's novel. However, SparkNotes' character list describes the preacher using similar phrasing, as 'someone whose trials have led him toward God rather than bitterness'".

So, hey, that's weird. But then, Pitzer began to further examine the speech and study guide side by side, discovering that more than a quarter of Dylan's section on 'Moby Dick' appeared to have been lifted, though slightly rewritten, from SparkNotes.

Suddenly this story has taken a new, joyous turn. Perhaps this was indeed, as Greenman suggested, an Easter egg left out in the open to be found later. Or maybe Dylan never expected to be found out. Either way, the irony of a prestigious literary prize being given to a controversial winner, who then, in order to receive almost a million dollars in prize money, submitted a speech that they seemingly cribbed from a website aimed at teenagers is too good.

Actually, Pitzer and others have noted that this is entirely in-keeping with Dylan's manner of working. In the folk tradition, he has always taken the work of others and adapted it into his own style. His songs, paintings, even his autobiography contain content pulled from generally unattributed sources.

"Bob is not authentic at all", Joni Mitchell said of Dylan in an interview with The LA Times in 2010. "He's a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I".

Three years later, having taken a lot of flak for those comments, Mitchell clarified in an interview with CBC: "I like a lot of Bob's songs, though musically he's not very gifted. He's borrowed his voice from old hillbillies. He's got a lot of borrowed things. He's not a great guitar player. He's invented a character to deliver his songs. Sometimes I wish that I could have that character - because you can do things with that character. It's a mask of sorts".

At the end of his speech, Dylan seemed to conclude, in answer to his original question, that songs were not literature. "Our songs are alive in the land of the living", he said. "But songs are unlike literature. They're meant to be sung, not read".

If the apparent SparkNotes lifting is now the conclusion of the story of Dylan's Nobel Prize win - he has certainly offered no comment upon it as yet - then it brings a more suitable air of mystery to its end. Maybe Dylan was just acting as Dylan does, writing a speech as he would write anything. Or perhaps the construction of the speech itself was an examination of what counts as literature and what doesn't. Can one artform be like another? Let's give him another Nobel Prize just to be on the safe side.


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