TODAY'S TOP STORY: Pandora CEO Tim Westergren yesterday confirmed rumours that he was about to step down from the top role at the US streaming company. By stepping down. He is also resigning his board position at the digital music firm... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Sega Bodega signed to Crazylegs earlier this year, quickly releasing new EP 'Ess B'. Six tracks of heavy, jacknifing beats and featuring the single 'CC' - a collaboration with Shygirl - it is a rush of catharsis that sets him on a new path heading away from the sound of earlier releases. And now he's back with new single 'Nivea', continuing that shift. [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 Apple Music reportedly looking to reduce the royalties it pays the labels, US band The Slants getting American trademark law rewritten, and Morrissey's silly spat with HMV. 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 Tim Westergren steps down as Pandora CEO
LEGAL Lawyers investigating possible class actions against Guvera
Cox Communications reckons Supreme Court ruling on social media rights impacts on its BMG copyright case
DEALS Downtown secures deal with Anthony Newley estate
LIVE BUSINESS Attitude Is Everything wins increased Arts Council funding
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU@TGE 2017: Where's My Fucking Money? The Transparency Problem
ARTIST NEWS Mariah Carey quizzed on political corruption in Israel
GIGS & FESTIVALS Spotify takes RapCaviar playlist on the road
ONE LINERS MUSO, Songtradr, The Smiths, more
AND FINALLY... Britney hits back at miming accusations
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For more information and to apply click here.
Once Upon A Time Music (OUAT Music) works with major and independent record labels, artist management companies and artists directly to create vinyl, CDs and award winning boxsets. The Production Planner will be responsible for overseeing the production process of all musical formats from start to finish for a wide variety of music industry clients.

For more information and to apply click here.
As DHP Family's Concerts Promotions Co-ordinator in London, you will be creative, fast working, forward thinking, with the ability to work under pressure, both alone and as part of a team. As well as a strong marketing knowledge, you will ideally have a good grasp of the music/ents industry in London.

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New Citizens is an established leading events company within the music, food and drink sector, based in the North of England. You’ll be responsible for driving and increasing ticket sales, brand awareness and positive association for the projects/events you’ll be working on.

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For more information and to apply click here.
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For more information and to apply click here.
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MelodyVR's Artist Research Assistant is responsible for the compilation and distribution of all live opportunities and research on exciting new artists around the world. You will be knowledgeable and excited when it comes to the live music landscape globally, with an eye on live touring, festival/event line-ups and emerging talent.

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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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28 Jun 2017 CMU's Chris Cooke moderates Collaborate panel on future of streaming
6 Jul 2017 CMU's Chris Cooke moderates Music 4.5 panel on value of music
10 Jul 2017 CMU's Chris Cooke will discuss the streaming market at MMB Romania
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

Tim Westergren steps down as Pandora CEO
Pandora CEO Tim Westergren yesterday confirmed rumours that he was about to step down from the top role at the US streaming company. By stepping down. He is also resigning his board position at the digital music firm.

Westergren's departure is part of a not insignificant executive overhaul at Pandora, following the news earlier this month that Sirius XM had bought nearly a fifth of the business. As well as Westergren, President Mike Herring and Chief Marketing Officer Nick Bartle are also leaving the company.

Stepping in to Westergren's role as CEO will be CFO Naveen Chopra - who joined Pandora in February this year - but only on an interim basis while a full-time replacement is found. Meanwhile in the boardroom, former Myspace and MTV exec Jason Hirschhorn is taking a seat around the table.

Westergren co-founded Pandora in 2000, and over the years held various executive positions at the firm including that of CEO. He returned to the CEO position last year following the departure of Brian McAndrew. That development was not welcomed by all of Pandora's shareholders at the time, some of whom questioned his strategy for taking the company into profit, and his willingness to seek a new buyer, a move some investors were promoting.

"I am incredibly proud of the company we have built", said Westergren in a statement yesterday. "We invented a whole new way of enjoying and discovering music and in doing so, forever changed the listening experience for millions. I came back to the CEO role last year to drive transformation across the business. We accomplished far more than we anticipated".

He continued: "We rebuilt Pandora's relationships with the music industry; launched a fantastic premium on-demand service, and brought a host of tech innovations to our advertising business. With these in place, plus a strengthened balance sheet, I believe Pandora is perfectly poised for its next chapter".

Since launching a strategic review, Pandora has sold a 19% stake in the company to SiriusXM and also sold off its ticketing company, Ticketfly. With almost $700 million in the bank as a result of those deals, Pandora has bought more time for itself, but shareholders are obviously keen to see the loss-making business finally become properly profitable.

Commenting on the executive changes, former EMI boss Roger Faxon, who sits on the Pandora board, said: "Over the past several weeks, the board has taken a number of steps to refocus and reinforce Pandora. As listeners continue to move from traditional terrestrial radio to more dynamic and flexible offerings, it is the board's belief that this transition continues to present a massive opportunity, and that Pandora is in an ideal position to capture an increasing share of this audience".

Also noting the recent expansion of Pandora's premium services, alongside its core ad-funded personalised radio set-up, he went on: "With 'digital radio' at the core of our business, and both 'Plus' and 'Premium' as new, integral parts of our arsenal, Pandora now has all of the tools necessary to capitalise on this opportunity. With our comprehensive suite of offerings and a refortified balance sheet, we will be able to more effectively recruit listeners, and we will be able to provide them with more of the content they want and the services they desire in order to better retain them".

Presumably Faxon et al, and the shareholders they represent, hope that a new management team can take all these lovely opportunities and the big pile of cash created by the Sirius and Ticketfly deals, and get on with building that nice profitable business on the back of it all. Yeah, good luck with that everybody!


Lawyers investigating possible class actions against Guvera
Lawyers in Australia are considering filing class actions against Guvera and possibly the private equity outfit that raised money for the failed streaming music firm, according to Brisbane newspaper The Courier-Mail.

This follows those reports that the Australian Securities And Investments Commission is investigating whether Amma Private Equity offered kickbacks to accountants who recommended to their clients that they invest in Guvera, and whether the streaming firm breached sections of the country's Corporations Act, which are specifically designed to protect inexperienced investors, in the way they marketed their investment opportunities.

Darren Herft, who is the link between both Guvera and Amma, insists that everything was above board. He is quoted by the newspaper as saying "we have followed the Corporations Act and had legal advice to support [our actions] at all times". Herft denied that the ASIC was formally investigating his companies' fundraising activities, while adding that Guvera had audited accounts that showed how the $180 million the firm raised was spent.

Though a spokesperson for the ASIC confirmed to The Courier-Mail that it was taking a "close and active interest in the fundraising associated with Guvera and related matters", while the paper says that is understands a number of Australian law firms are now doing preliminary work to assess the potential for class-actions involving people who invested in the streaming business via Amma.

It remains to be seen if any legal action now follows. Guvera, of course, has been sued by former employees in the UK following the company's brief adventure in the British market via its acquisition of Blinkbox. Meanwhile Herft is still trying to see if there is anything he can do with the intellectual property the company built up before finally ceasing its operations last month.


Cox Communications reckons Supreme Court ruling on social media rights impacts on its BMG copyright case
US internet service provider Cox Communications has submitted new paperwork in its appeal against the landmark ruling in 2015 when it was held liable for the copyright infringement of its customers for failing to properly deal with repeat infringers.

As previously reported, the legal battle between music firm BMG and Cox was an important test of the safe harbour rules in America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the responsibilities of safe harbour dwellers to respond to complaints from copyright owners about their customers distributing content without licence.

In the case, emails between Cox employees showed that although in theory the ISP had a policy to tackle repeat infringers, ultimately suspending or cancelling their accounts, it often didn't apply that policy so as not to lose customers.

By losing its legal battle with BMG, Cox was ordered to pay the music rights firm $25 million in damages. The ruling also arguably set an important precedent regarding the procedures internet companies must employ to enjoy safe harbour protection. Though that precedent is appeal pending, of course.

Cox's new filing cites a recent Supreme Court ruling in the US that said that convicted sex offenders cannot be banned from social media, because doing so would violate their free speech rights under the First Amendment of the American Constitution.

In the case, which overturned a law in North Carolina that had been applied against a man called Lester Packingham, judge Anthony Kennedy wrote: "To foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights".

Cox reckons that if the courts can't ban convicted sex offenders from social media, it shouldn't have to disconnect its customers' internet access based on unproven claims of copyright infringement. The ISP states in its new filing: "[The] Packingham [case] is directly relevant to what constitute 'appropriate circumstances' to terminate internet access to Cox's customers. The decision emphatically establishes the centrality of internet access to protected First Amendment activity".

The ISP's submission goes on: "If it offends the Constitution to cut off a portion of internet access to convicted criminals, then the district court's erroneous interpretation of Section 512(i) of the DMCA - which effectively invokes the state's coercive power to require ISPs to terminate all internet access to merely accused infringers - cannot stand".

It remains to be seen whether the court decides that the Packingham ruling does indeed alter the obligations of safe harbour dwellers. Rights owners who saw Cox as a step in the right direction - having argued in the past that some previous court rulings had set the bar too low for the takedown obligations of internet firms - will be hoping not.


Downtown secures deal with Anthony Newley estate
Downtown Music Publishing yesterday announced a new worldwide administration deal with the estate of artist, actor and songwriter Anthony Newley.

The US-based publisher says the deal covers "several notable works" from Newley's catalogue of songs and compositions, including the original score for the 1971 film 'Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory'.

Confirming the deal, Downtown's Exec VP Creative Services, Jedd Katrancha, said: "Newley was able to write songs that perfectly married grounded human sentiment with whimsical other-worldly flourishes, and we're honoured to look after his beautiful catalogue of works. Furthermore, in his family we have found engaged and creative partners and together we look forward to sharing these songs that have meant so much to so many people".

Speaking for the estate, Newley's daughter Tara Newley said: "The entire family and I are very excited to partner with a forward-thinking publisher like Downtown. From our initial meeting with Downtown, we felt confident that we had found a caring and creative home for our father's songs".


Attitude Is Everything wins increased Arts Council funding
Music charity Attitude Is Everything has been awarded £998,000 from Arts Council England over the next four years.

The 20% increase in funding has been awarded in order for the organisation to create a new development programme for deaf and disabled artists and promoters. That programme is due to kick off in April next year. In addition to this, the charity will continue to provide resources, training and consultancy to the live music industry for improving access for deaf and disabled music fans.

"In these times of increasing competition for funding in arts and culture, I am delighted that the Arts Council England has recognised the importance of our influence in improving access to the live music over the past seventeen years", says Attitude Is Everything CEO Suzanne Bull. "Their commitment ensures that we can further raise our profile; ensuring that we can support even more music venues, festivals and events to meet the requirements of disabled and deaf people".

"I am also excited that we can now support disabled artists and promoters to develop under our new development programme", she continues. "I look forward to sharing our new strategic plan in the future and supporting Arts Council England to deliver their vision of great art and culture for everyone".


CMU@TGE 2017: Where's My Fucking Money? The Transparency Problem
We still have more reports to come on key sessions that took place at the CMU Insights conferences at The Great Escape last month. Today, the big transparency debate that took place as part of The Royalties Conference.

The need for more transparency in the streaming business has been a hot topic at music conferences for a few years now. Labels, distributors, publishers and collecting societies initially agreed that there needed to be more transparency for artists, songwriters and their managers, and then started insisting that they were now becoming more transparent. Which in some ways some are, though - from an artist perspective - there is still much more to be done.

As was discussed at the CMU Insights Royalties Conference by artists Dave Rowntree, Crispin Hunt and Suzanne Combo, respectively representing the UK's Featured Artist Coalition, the British Academy Of Songwriters Composes & Authors and the International Artists Organisation. Annabella Coldrick from the Music Managers Forum provided a management perspective.

'Transparency' is a wide-ranging term, which can in itself be a problem. Tackling issues around transparency requires music creatives and their managers to be much more specific about what streaming information they feel they need and should have access to. At a basic level, it's useful to distinguish between usage data, royalty data and deal information.

It's usage data where most progress has been made to date, by both majors and independents. Hunt noted that he had explored the portals both Sony Music and Universal Music have developed to share usage stats from the streaming platforms with their artists, and that they both provide "a great deal of really useful information", particularly when it comes to geographical data - where people are streaming your music - which can inform an artist's live activity.

But even with usage data, it is still early days. Advances are being made all the time in this domain, Hunt accepted, "but I think there's a lot more that could be done with this kind of data and how it is passed through to artists".

The panel agreed that the digital platforms themselves had an important role to play here as well, in that they needed to further refine what data they provide to the labels, distributors, publishers and societies. And then the music companies need to further refine how they compile that data and share it with their artists and writers.

"We know Spotify provides a lot of good data", Coldrick said, noting that it also provided artists and managers with some of that information direct via its Spotify For Artists platform. "I think Apple Music provides quite a bit of usage data too, but not necessarily so much detail, to the same level of granularity. With some of the other digital services, the data coming through is even more difficult to analyse".

Of course both labels and artists want access to the best possible data from the digital platforms - which is to say enough detail to be able to see trends and inform marketing and business decisions, but not so much detail it's impossible to navigate. So, where the weaknesses are actually with the platforms, if labels and artists could agree on how they would like to see usage data provision evolve, they could together put pressure on the streaming services to improve things their side.

Artist and managers could also put pressure on the streaming platforms to develop services akin to Spotify For Artists, so that they aren't reliant on their labels and distributors to pass the data through. Though, at the same time, it's useful to be able to see data from all the digital platforms side by side, which is where the good label and distributor data portals come into their own.

However, most managers will inevitably have artists working with different labels and distributors, meaning they are having to use multiple portals, in addition to any of the data channels provided by the streaming services themselves. And one of the problems is that there are no real data standards yet.

"The general problem here is that this is the Wild West at the moment", reckoned Rowntree. "We're in the very early days of all of this and so everybody is reporting different things in different ways. There's no standardisation. It's very hard to create useful tools without standards that are going to work on platforms across the board".

"That will happen", he added. "History shows us that the individual organisations will resist standards tooth and nail because they have a better idea, but it will be forced on everybody sooner or later". Though, stressing once again that it was still early days for the streaming business, he reckoned that could be a decade away.

While Rowntree agreed that the way labels and distributors are presenting usage data is improving, he felt that some business partners are still holding some key data back. But not necessarily because 'data is power', possibly more for paternal reasons.

"You have an ongoing tug of war", he said. "From artists and managers saying 'it's our data as much as it's yours, tell us', and the business partners going 'no, I must protect you from all of this data; you won't be able to understand it; you'll be deluged'. But they forget, with the younger artists and managers, they're 20 years old and know exactly how to deal with large amounts of data, and they are kind of laughing at this idea that they need to be protected from it".

Nevertheless, with usage data there does seem to be a general willingness among labels, distributors, publishers and societies to share the information with their artists and songwriters. The question is whether they are able to share that data in a thorough but usable way. Which comes down to what the streaming services are doing, what resources the business partners have to build their own portals, and the need for some standards across the industry. Though artists could and should be involved more in these conversations, rather than just suddenly being presented with a finished portal.

But while usage data is great, what about the money? What about royalty reporting? Again, portals are being built and some progress is being made, though standards vary hugely across the industry, and even the best could be better.

Says Combo: "Often you are told what you have earned from a service, but you don't see the basis of the label's calculation. You have no idea if any deductions have been applied, and if so, why they have been applied. You need to see everything that has happened at the label to the money it was paid by the streaming service".

The complexities of record contracts - and especially older record contracts - make royalty reporting more confusing. If an artist is on a straight 18% royalty, then the label's financial reporting portal could simply state what it received from a streaming service in one column, and then what the artist is receiving - ie 18% of the original figure - in the next column. And some labels do just that.

However, with some record contracts, and especially older record contracts, there are other complications which aren't always clearly set out in royalty statements. Hunt explained: "I signed a deal in the 1990s. It was quite a good deal for the time, paying a 17% royalty. But then there are deductions. There is a TV advertising deduction, which can be applied forever because we were once briefly advertised on the television. That takes my royalty down to 8.5%".

"Then there's an international deduction. It's not clear how that applies on streaming. But there's a rumour that it applies because the servers of Spotify are based in Sweden. I've asked my label about that and they say 'oh, we'll have to have a look into that'. There was also a 25% packaging deduction in the contract. Does that apply? I worked out that, with all the deductions, in the end I'd be on about a 1.7% royalty. Which is only 0.7% better than Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker".

"In their defence, the record company has said 'no no no, we don't apply those kind of deductions to even legacy contracts on digital'", Hunt went on. "But it's really hard to find out exactly what's going on, because it's not clearly shown in the royalty reporting". Which is to say, the label isn't showing all of its workings out.

Though even where business partners are clearer on how they have worked out what an artist is due - or an artist has a simpler contract where the headline royalty is always applied - there remains the third transparency issue: artists don't know how the streaming services worked out what to pay the label, distributor, publisher or society, because they don't know the revenue share and minimum guarantee arrangements between their business partners and the streaming firms. Nor if the label is seeing any other kickbacks like equity, advances, fees or marketing support.

"If somebody is profiting off the exploitation of my music, it seems to me equitable and just that I should share in that", stated Rowntree. "That's a fundamental red line for me. If somebody's being offered equity in exchange for my music being licensed to their service, I want my share of that. And if somebody's being paid an advance on the royalties that are due to me, I want my share of that advance".

The labels, distributors, publishers and societies often claim that they can't share deal information with artists and songwriters because of non-disclosure agreements in their contracts with the streaming services. Rowntree: "It just seems to me that this idea that all this information is hidden behind NDAs, which I'm not allowed to penetrate, is deliberately obstructing my ability to check that what I'm being paid is correct. I don't see that there's any other industry on earth that would put up with this".

One justification for the NDAs is that if the rates received by the labels et al were public domain, it would limit the ability of an artist's business partners to get the best possible deal. Hunt conceded that this was a valid point, citing the example of two PRS streaming deals he had knowledge of as a board member of the society.

Still, the industry needs to bring artists and songwriters into the NDAs, Hunt added. "We've got to work out some way that the artists - or the people who have an interest in their work - can have some kind of penetration into the streaming deals; but we might have to sign NDAs at the same time. There has to be some way of doing that".

Combo agreed: "We need to know that we are part of the investment. We deserve better treatment and better confidence from the labels, and from the collecting societies. We need to reconsider our relationships - we, the artists, are business partners of the music companies. And we are able to keep secrets if necessary".

"These structures are already in place", Rowntree reckoned. "When you send a representative into audit your major label company - to audit the royalties you have been paid - they already sign an NDA, so this already happens. These people should be able to then see and check the streaming deals. I don't actually want to know the percentages, I don't want the data myself. I just want to be satisfied that the accountancy firm that works for me is happy that things are going OK".

Though Coldrick expressed one concern with artists - or auditors working for artists - signing NDAs with the labels. It's usually bigger name artists who can afford to audit their business partners. If they find a problem with the streaming royalties they are receiving, the label often does a deal with the artist on the condition they don't speak about the issue publicly. But the issue might be affecting all artists.

Coldrick: "If what you find is a big structural problem at the label, how do we fix that problem? Because what they'll do, is they'll do a deal with you, you'll get paid, then you're quiet. But what if the problem is affecting every single other artist on that label - the problem is, you don't know. If you can't expose or share those problems with the wider artist community, then you can't fix the long term structural problems".

While with usage data, there seems to be a general willingness across the industry to share information - the issues are ability, resource and standards - with royalty data and deal information it's less clear cut. On the latter point, the majors in particular remain resistant to becoming truly transparent. So much so that the MMF, FAC and BASCA - along with the Musicians' Union and Music Producers Guild - earlier this year called on the government to intervene.

"I don't think anyone initially wants to leap to politicians to find a solution", Coldrick stated. "Often that's the very last resort, having to go into Parliament and say 'actually there's a really big problem here, it's structural'. But we've tried, all our industry organisations have spent at least a year and a half - nearly two years - trying to negotiate a voluntary code of conduct by which all these issues would be resolved".

"If you're trading in an artist's catalogue then you should have to be open and transparent about how you're trading", she went on. "You shouldn't do deals that are against the interests of those that are creating the music that you're exploiting. After a year and a half, we haven't been able to find a voluntary solution to these issues that every label and publisher can sign up to, which is why we reached out to government".

Hunt added: "There's a big conversation that goes on within the music industry about 'oh we don't want interference, we don't want regulatory interference with contracts between individuals'. But the truth of this is that it's not contracts between individuals, it's often a contract between four or five nineteen year old kids and a huge global corporation, and they can only rely on their lawyer, who has to do loads of deals with Universal. That's not a contract between individuals".

"We should not forget, and neither should the copyright industries forget, that copyright is itself a regulation", Hunt went on. "Intellectual property is a regulation and it requires government to keep an eye on it. It's a government's duty to keep an eye on their regulations and how their regulations are employed. I think it's utterly necessary for government to step in".

This has already happened in France. Combo, who is also involved in the French version of the FAC, explained that a French government review of copyright law put the idea of a compulsory licence for streaming on the table, which could in turn secure artists both transparency and a better split.

A compulsory licence is the last thing labels and publishers want. "That's why we succeeded in getting every stakeholder around the table to negotiate a voluntary code of practice", Combo said. "Without this legal threat, it would have been impossible. We then negotiated long and hard, and signed a code two years ago".

Many would argue that a compulsory licence would ultimately push the royalties paid by streaming services down, which isn't in the interests of artists either, though the prospect of such an arrangement got talks going on a more proactive basis. Work relating to that code - on transparency and remuneration - is still very much ongoing, so in practical terms it is still to be seen if the French scheme delivers the goods.

Beyond the UK and France, transparency is also on the agenda in the wider European Union, with an article of the draft European Copyright Directive attempting to provide artists and songwriters with new rights to find out how their music is being exploited. It's a good start, though Coldrick expressed concerns that the current draft provides too many get outs. And, of course, in the UK it's still not clear whether the new European Copyright Directive will be implemented here.

Plus, Coldrick said, better transparency is just step one. "It would be great if we could get some decent transparency, but what if - as a result of that - an artist finds out they are being ripped off. Or - more importantly - they aren't technically being ripped off, legally speaking, but they are being paid on very unfair terms, maybe with deductions from the physical era still being applied to streams. It's all very well being able to see that better, but it's then what can you actually do about it?"

The aforementioned copyright directive tries to deal with that too via a thing called the 'contract adjustment mechanism'. Coldrick said: "Again, we don't think the EU contract adjustment mechanism does what we would like it to do, but we would like to see some way to have the right for artists to review their old deals - to say are these terms modern and fair? So if those deductions are being applied, there's a formal system to say 'hang on a minute, this is outdated, it's not right', and to fix it".

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


Approved: Sega Bodega
Sega Bodega signed to Crazylegs earlier this year, quickly releasing new EP 'Ess B'. Six tracks of heavy, jacknifing beats and featuring the single 'CC' - a collaboration with Shygirl - it is a rush of catharsis that sets him on a new path heading away from the sound of earlier releases. And now he's back with new single 'Nivea', continuing that shift.

Opening with pained squeals of synth, 'Nivea' juxtaposes slow marching beats with frantic, lyrical bleeps that demand to be cranked up in the speakers. B-side 'Bacardi', meanwhile, attempts to give you a bit more space to breath, before a burst of energy eventually breaks out and takes the track into the realms of controlled chaos.

Watch the video for 'Nivea' here.

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

Mariah Carey quizzed on political corruption in Israel
It's not uncommon for trips made by musicians to Israel to be controversial. However, Mariah Carey's journey to Tel Aviv this week to launch a face cream has been a little different. Interviews have quickly turned to the whereabouts of her former fiancé James Packer, who is wanted for questioning by police in the country. And she's quite annoyed about it.

Israeli police are investigating accusations of corruption against Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Among a number of allegations, it is claimed that he received expensive gifts from various business people, despite rules banning elected officials from accepting such things, one of whom is Packer.

A number of people have already been questioned in the investigation, but police want to speak to the Australian media mogul in particular because he is a close friend of Netanyahu. When he and then partner Carey visited Israel in 2015, they dined privately with the Prime Minister and his wife, Sara.

The investigation was sparked by a report by Israel's Channel 10 last year, in which it was specifically claimed that Packer had paid for Netanyahu's son Yair to go on several luxury holidays, and leant him his private jet to travel to them. It's also claimed that Packer gave Sara Netanyahu and the head of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, Yossi Cohen, free tickets to see Carey perform live in August 2015.

Carey and Packer ended their relationship in October last year, and she has now returned to the country alone to promote her new partnership with skincare brand Premier Dead Sea Cosmetics. Although she quickly lost her grasp on that as the focus.

Asked at a press conference about the potential controversy of doing business in Israel, she said she was unconcerned, according to The Times Of Israel: "I'm not a political person. I don't care what other people say about different political things that don't pertain to my life. I don't think it's my place to act like a political figure. That's not who I am".

Asked then about the significance of her dinner with the Netanyahus, she replied: "What, I can't eat anymore?"

Carey brushing off any suggestion that she might have political opinions did not deter other journalists though, as questions turned specifically to Packer. In an interview for Israel's Channel 2 News, she was asked directly about her ex's whereabouts.

"I don't know where the motherfucker is", she responded. "How am I supposed to know? I don't know, for real. I really have no idea about the political stuff that goes on, I don't pay attention to it".

The singer's media tour went downhill from there. An interview on TV show 'Erev Tov' was shut down by her PR team after Packer was again raised. Although not before Carey had said: "Oh, now they want to blame me? Someone wants to blame me for something now? What did I do? I didn't do anything".

A further public engagement last night was cancelled, and Carey is now reportedly cutting her planned week-long trip short - returning to the US as soon as all contractual obligations are fulfilled, including a photocall at the Dead Sea with her twin sons.

The latest reports suggest Packer has now agreed to be interviewed by Israeli police. So perhaps Carey will stop being dogged by questions about him if she does stay in the country.


Spotify takes RapCaviar playlist on the road
Spotify is taking one of its biggest in-house playlists, 'RapCaviar', on the road. Through a partnership with Live Nation, the streaming service will host six 'RapCaviar Live' hip hop shows around North America this year.

The first show will take place in Atlanta on 12 Aug, headlined by Gucci Maine, with support from Mike Will Made It plus others TBC.

"Proud to partner with Gucci Mane on this incarnation of the RapCaviar vibe", says Spotify's Head Of Hip Hop, Tuma Basa. "Gucci was an early believer in what we are doing and it's gonna be beautiful to see it manifest live. Taking 'RapCaviar' on the road was just a dream for us a few years ago. This is an important milestone for Spotify, for 'RapCaviar', and for hip hop in the streaming age".

Other shows will take place in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Toronto, with dates and line-ups to be announced.


MUSO, Songtradr, The Smiths, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Anti-piracy tool provider MUSO has raised $3.2 million from Harwell Capital to fund further expansion and, says the company, "more quickly take advantage of market opportunity".

• Music rights market place Songtradr, which in particular links newer acts to the grassroots and commercial sync space, has announced a long-term partnership with Milamber Ventures PLC to specifically grow its operations in the UK.

• UK trade bodies BPI and ERA yesterday published a new research report by MiDiA called 'Generation Z: Meet The Young Millennials'. And you can meet them by downloading the report from here.

• 7digital has announced a partnership with sound recognition company SoundHound, best known for its Shazam-competing mobile app. Together, the companies will develop new digital music solutions using SoundHound's AI voice recognition tools. "Voice and AI are set to be the catalysts for re-imagining music streaming in the home and car, where there is huge potential for growth over the next few years", says 7digital's deputy CEO Pete Downton.

• The Smiths' 'The Queen Is Dead' vinyl re-issue has gone to number one on the seven-inch singles chart, the twelve-inch singles chart and the overall vinyl singles chart. Looks like your dastardly plan was foiled, HMV.

The video for Calvin Harris's new single, 'Feels', featuring Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Big Sean, is now out.

• Clams Casino has released his fourth instrumentals mixtape, 'Instrumental Mixtape 4', as a free download. Get it here, or just listen to one track, 'Wavey', here.

• Singer-songwriter Tyni has released new song 'Late Spring', a co-write with Angel Haze.


Britney hits back at miming accusations
Britney Spears has routinely faced accusations throughout her career that she mimes when performing live. And she can't even blame it on an effects pedal. Although she does note that it's quite hard to dance and sing at the same time, so, like many artists, she uses some pre-recorded vocals to pick up the slack.

In an interview with Israeli media to promote an upcoming show in Tel Aviv, she was asked about the claims that she lip syncs. She seems to have found this question rather annoying, as you might well do when someone basically seems to be asking, why should we bother coming to see you perform?

"I'm glad you're addressing this question because it's really funny", she said. "A lot of people think that I don't sing live. Usually, because I'm dancing so much, I do have a little bit of playback, but there's a mixture of my voice and the playback".

"It really pisses me off", she added. "I am busting my ass out there and singing at the same time and nobody ever really gives me credit for it, you know?"

Well, here we are giving Britney some credit. Five CMU Credits to Britney, please. Everyone else, sit and think about what sort of show you actually want from different types of performers. Please lip sync your answers to me by the end of the day.


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
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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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