TODAY'S TOP STORY: More mechanical rights lawsuits involving Spotify? You bet. I mean, you can't have enough mechanical rights lawsuits involving Spotify, can you? Unless, I suppose, you're Spotify. If you're Spotify, you can definitely have enough mechanical rights lawsuits involving Spotify... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: Swedish duo Wy return with their second single of the year, 'What Would I Ever Do'. Certainly their strongest recording to date, the song elevates them from being a good band to being a real stand out act. In particular, vocalist and guitarist Ebba Ågren's voice bristles with emotion that really gives the track an extra edge. [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's 'fake' artist 'scandal', Kylie and Kendall Jenner's legal battle over what constitutes copyright infringement when printing t-shirts, and the Mansfield radio station battling repeated unwanted intrusions by a wanker. The CMU Podcast is sponsored by 7digital. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU TRENDS: Rarely a week goes by in the music business news these days without at least one catalogue acquisition. But who - other than labels and publishers - is buying music rights, and why? Are there opportunities for individual artists and songwriters to do deals with professional investors? And how do you even value music rights? Ahead of a Music 4.5 event exploring all these topics, CMU Trends reviews the music rights market - past, present and future. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Spotify faces two new mega-bucks lawsuits over US mechanicals
DEALS Everything But The Girl reclaim Warner albums, ally with Chrysalis
BMG to make music available for Pro Tools loop packages
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Digital archivists plan to back up SoundCloud
MEDIA BBC planning new prime time music show
New boss appointed at ITV company
ARTIST NEWS 'Despacito' now most streamed track in history
GIGS & FESTIVALS Motörhead Day show to be live streamed
ONE LINERS Sony/ATV, CAA, Nine Inch Nails, more
AND FINALLY... Ed Sheeran on and off and on and off Twitter
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Spotify faces two new mega-bucks lawsuits over US mechanicals
More mechanical rights lawsuits involving Spotify? You bet. I mean, you can't have enough mechanical rights lawsuits involving Spotify, can you?

Unless, I suppose, you're Spotify. If you're Spotify, you can definitely have enough mechanical rights lawsuits involving Spotify. For Spotify, we passed the quota of required mechanical rights lawsuits involving Spotify on the day the first mechanical rights lawsuit involving Spotify was filed in an American court. But that's not stopped the filing of further mechanical rights lawsuits involving Spotify.

It seems like only yesterday that I was last sat here explaining why Spotify has run into legal problems Stateside over mechanical rights. Mainly because it was only yesterday that I was last sat here explaining why Spotify has run into legal problems Stateside over mechanical rights. But in case you weren't paying attention, let's run through it all again very quickly.

A stream exploits both the reproduction and the communication element of the copyright. In music publishing, these two elements of the song copyright - the so called 'mechanical rights' and the so called 'performing rights' - are often licensed separately, sometimes by different entities. Which means in some countries a streaming service needs to do two sets of deals just to get permission to stream songs - one covering the mechanical rights and one covering the performing rights. This is in addition to any deals granting permission to stream recordings - which are separate copyrights controlled by the record companies.

So far so tedious. Though in most countries both the performing rights and the mechanical rights in songs can be licensed via the collective licensing system. And even where publishers license their rights directly with the streaming services, a collecting society usually handles the administration tasks associated with collecting and processing any royalties due.

Because one of the problems for the streaming firms in this domain is that, while they know which labels provided them with which recordings and therefore who to pay when those tracks are streamed, they don't know what songs are contained within those recordings, nor who owns those compositions.

In most countries the collecting societies do the leg-work to overcome this problem, by processing track-based usage data provided by the streaming platforms and then telling the digital service providers what songs have been used and who needs to be paid.

But in the US, while there are collecting societies licensing the performing rights and administrating the royalties associated with them, on the mechanicals rights side there is no industry-wide collecting society to help.

On the up side, there is a compulsory licence covering mechanicals, so songwriters and publishers are obliged to license those rights at rates set by statute. But on the down side, the compulsory licence requires the streaming service to notify and pay rights owners in a timely fashion, which brings us back to the problem of streaming services not really knowing what songs are being streamed.

Spotify uses a company called the Harry Fox Agency to process mechanical royalties. Previously owned by the National Music Publishers Association, HFA is the closest the US has to a mechanical rights society like the UK's MCPS.

But HFA doesn't have every writer and publisher on its system, which means not everyone has been getting notified and paid. And if you don't comply with the formalities of the compulsory licence, the compulsory licence doesn't apply. Which means any subsequent streaming of songs where rights owners have not been notified constitutes copyright infringement.

There have been an assortment of lawsuits in relation to unpaid mechanicals in the streaming domain pursued by various writers and publishers against various streaming services. The highest profile to date were the class actions launched by musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick, which were ultimately merged into one.

As those cases got underway in early 2016, the National Music Publishers Association announced a settlement with Spotify over unpaid mechanicals which indie publishers were encouraged to sign up to. Meanwhile the Lowery/Ferrick class action was ultimately settled back in May this year. Both settlements included payment of unpaid royalties, some form of compensation, and vague commitments about how mechanicals will be paid in an efficient fashion moving forward.

But if Spotify thought that, via those two costly settlements, it had put the mechanicals dispute to bed - and just in time for its listing on the New York Stock Exchange as well! - it was being overly optimistic. Two new lawsuits have now been filed in Nashville on this very issue. The plaintiffs are publisher Bluewater Music Services and Bob Gaudio, the latter both a music publisher and the primary songwriter for Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons.

Both are represented by notable entertainment industry lawyer Richard Busch, these days probably best known for repping the Marvin Gaye family in the 'Blurred Lines' case.

He is quoted by The Tennessean of saying about the new cases: "As we say in the complaint, songwriters and publishers should not have to work this hard to get paid, or have their life work properly licensed, and companies should not be allowed to build businesses on the concept of infringe now and ask questions later. We look forward to litigating these cases".

Meanwhile the Bluewater lawsuit specifically references the NMPA settlement on this issue, reckoning it was unsatisfactory. Among other comments, the legal papers state: "The NMPA settlement did nothing to resolve the outstanding issues with the Spotify licensing and royalty payment system as the settlement allowed Spotify to continue to not pay accurately and did not require it to build any systems moving forward".

While everyone agrees that songwriters should get paid whenever their songs are streamed, the music community is somewhat divided on who is really to blame here. Some argue that the well financed streaming firms should have put in place a system to identify what songs are being streamed and make payments accordingly, or at least alerted the US Copyright Office of all the songs that could not be identified, as the compulsory licence requires.

Though others are more sympathetic to the streaming firms, arguing that the real problem here is the failure of the US music publishing sector to ever put in place a proper industry-wide system for collecting mechanical royalties, even though that's arguably one of its primary tasks and a main reason for it existing.

And, of course, if the music industry could just get around to making a publicly available global music rights database - rather than just hosting regular panel debates where everyone agrees one is needed - then monies could start flowing directly to writers and publishers without even relying on collective licensing systems that may or may not be up to the job of processing all that streaming income.

Although, technically, in the eyes of American copyright law the obligations do fall on the users of music here, ie the streaming firms. And under the statutory damages system of US law, writers and publishers whose songs have been streamed without licence even just a few times could still push for $150,000 per infringement. So, fun times hey?


Everything But The Girl reclaim Warner albums, ally with Chrysalis
Chrysalis Records has announced an alliance with Everything But The Girl which will see the indie distribute and promote eight of the duo's albums.

The deal follows the latest off-loading of catalogue by Warner Music via its agreement with indie-label repping IMPALA and Merlin. When Warner acquired most of the EMI assets Universal Music was forced to sell by competition regulators after its purchase of the EMI record company in 2012, the mini-major committed to return a certain value of catalogue to the independent sector in return for IMPALA not opposing its EMI deal in Europe.

There have been a flurry of catalogue sales resulting from that commitment in the last couple of years, including the one a year ago that led to the restoration of Chrysalis Records as an active independent record company. This particular acquisition of Warner catalogue was led by Buzzin Fly - the label of EBTG member Ben Watt - which then allied with Chrysalis to manage the reclaimed recordings.

Says Watt: "The Warner divestment offered Tracey and I a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own the lion's share of our back catalogue. With our prime focus these days on new respective solo projects, Chrysalis is the perfect collaborator to help curate ten years of early joint work we are both still very proud of".

The CCO of the new Chrysalis label is record producer Robin Millar, who worked with EBTG at the start of their career. Welcoming the new deal, he told reporters: "Having produced Ben and Tracey's first two albums, it's so good to be working with them again. They have made so much truly beautiful music and continue to do so".


BMG to make music available for Pro Tools loop packages
BMG in the US has announced a partnership with technology firm Avid which will see recordings from the music company's catalogues appear in packages of loop-based samples available from the Avid Marketplace for use in its Pro Tools software. The first such package utilises music from legendary American house label Strictly Rhythm.

Confirming the new partnership, Avid's Manager of Audio Presales Americas, Greg Chin, said: "Avid is extremely excited to partner with BMG on a really special and unique partnership, which will enable all music creators on the Pro Tools platform to gain access to some of the most sought after loops and samples, curated from the BMG archives, through the Avid Marketplace".

For BMG, the firm's President Of Repertoire & Marketing, Zach Katz, said: "Our new partnership with Avid Technology is a modern and innovative way to put our music in the hands of music producers and songwriters. By creating previously untapped opportunities for our artists, we're ensuring that Strictly Rhythm's music will be a part of the foundation for tomorrow's hits".


Digital archivists plan to back up SoundCloud
As we all know, SoundCloud's not going anywhere, oh no. It may have laid off 40% of its staff and financing may only be in place into quarter four, but the company has insisted all is fine in a blog post. In a blog post! So all must be fine.

Though, just in case, a group called Archive Team - self-described as a "loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage" - is planning on backing up the SoundCloud platform. You know, just in case. And work to that effect began yesterday.

The project came as some more avid SoundCloud users started backing up their personal collections of audio from the website - you know, just in case - while one Reddit user claimed to have already done a complete download of the entire streaming site.

Though the Archive Team's plan isn't actually to grab the entire SoundCloud archive. Confirming the project, it said: "Archive Team considers the SoundCloud service in danger and, as it hosts a lot of original content, finds it important to prepare to save it selectively (a full grab would be too big and would raise concerns of mass copyright infringement)".

But, you know, everything is actually fine and SoundCloud isn't going anywhere. Remember, blog post!


BBC planning new prime time music show
The BBC is plotting a new prime-time music-focused TV show, according to The Sun. It is being made by independent producer Fulwell 73, which has been behind an assortment of music telly specials over the years and has been a producer of America's 'Late Late Show' since James Corden took over as host in 2015.

That latter project also saw Fulwell involved in that whole 'Carpool Karoke' nonsense, which has - in part - seemingly inspired the new BBC music show, which will involve musicians taking part in comedy skits before singing their songs. A big name celebrity will co-host with a regular presenter.

I mean, it sounds awful, but the music industry will welcome any programme format that gives artists the opportunity to perform to a mainstream audience in a prime time telly slot; record labels still annoyed by the demise of 'Top Of The Pops', even though it's more than a decade since the Beeb ran that programme into the ground.

Says one of those pesky sources to The Sun: "The BBC has been desperate for a music show for a modern-day audience. Bosses know they can't simply get away with showing musicians perform their latest tracks, there needs to be a social media element with the scope to create virals, like 'The Late Late Show' and Jimmy Fallon do in the US".

Remember when Channel 4 had 'Popworld'? Ah, they were happy happy days weren't they? Go on, go back and check some of those Simon Amstell interviews on YouTube. A golden age. But hey, "social media elements" - I'm sure that will be marvellous.


New boss appointed at ITV company
After the BBC announced this weekend that it was putting a woman in charge of the TARDIS for the first time, rival broadcaster ITV announced it was putting a woman in charge of the whole company for the first time. Both of which are welcome developments, even if it's depressing that such things are still unusual enough to be noteworthy in 2017. But hey, right direction and everything.

The new CEO at good old Independent Television plc, taking over from the recently departed Adam Crozier, is Carolyn McCall. She joins the telly company from easyJet, but has a bit of media on her CV having previously been CEO of the Guardian Media Group. She will formally take over the top job at the company that operates the numerous ITV channels and accompanying telly show production business at the start of next year.

Confirming the hire, ITV plc's Chairman Peter Bazalgette said: "In a very impressive field of high calibre candidates, Carolyn stood out for her track record in media, experience of an international operation, clear strategic acumen and strong record of delivering value to shareholders. I'm delighted we'll be working together at ITV".

While McCall added: "I'm really pleased to be joining ITV. It is a fantastic company in a dynamic and stimulating sector. I am looking forward to getting to know all of the people at ITV and helping it make the most of the amazing opportunities that it has in the future".


Approved: Wy
Swedish duo Wy return with their second single of the year, 'What Would I Ever Do'. Certainly their strongest recording to date, the song elevates them from being a good band to being a real stand out act. In particular, vocalist and guitarist Ebba Ågren's voice bristles with emotion that really gives the track an extra edge.

"It's about letting go of trying to be something that you are not", says Ågren of the song. "Realising that you've tried to be so many people in your past and none of them felt like yourself, so you just said 'fuck it' and stopped trying so hard".

Watch the video for 'What Would I Ever Do' here.

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

'Despacito' now most streamed track in history
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's 'Despacito' - released at the start of the year - is now officially the most streamed track of all time, according to the Universal Music label that put it out. And it should know.

If you include the remix featuring that Justin Bieber chap, the track has been streamed over 4.6 billion times across all the leading streaming platforms. Think of that, 4.6 billion times! You know what that means? No, me neither. But you like these 'most streamed ever' stats don't you? Admit it, you do. You live for stats like this. So have this one on us. For free. We're so good to you guys.

"Streaming is a connector for audiences worldwide and it has helped my music reach every corner of the planet", declares Fonsi. "It is truly an honour that 'Despacito' is now the most streamed song in history".

But what does Universal Music overlord Lucian Grainge reckon about all this, that's what we all want to know isn't it? Well, we got the knight himself on the phone, direct from his castle, and this is what he boomed forth: "Luis Fonsi already had the undisputed, biggest song of the year - and now he's setting even bigger records".

Good start, good start. Now say something about a song mainly in Spanish breaking this kind of record. "Streaming has opened up the possibility of a song with a different beat, from a different culture and in a different language to become a juggernaut of success around the world", says Grainge. "My congratulations to Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber, as well as everyone at Universal Music Latin Entertainment, Republic Records and Def Jam, on this tremendous accomplishment".

Tremendous indeed.


Motörhead Day show to be live streamed
All things Motörhead will be celebrated at Our Black Heart in Camden tomorrow, marking the anniversary of the band's first gig back in 1975, also in Camden. Motörhead tribute act Motörheadache is set to headline.

The show is sold out, but the 'Motörhead Day' party is going to be live streamed for anyone else who wants to tune in via

Says organiser John Wright: "We have a very deep connection with our global followers and ahead of our ambitions to establish Motörhead Day in other countries around the world, we felt the next best thing was to enable fans to watch the event streamed live via the internet, bringing fans and friends together to celebrate a very special event".

If you are wondering what this Lemmium organisation is, well, it began as a campaign to have the International Union Of Pure And Applied Chemistry name the heavy metal element 115 on the Periodic Table 'Lemmium', after late Motörhead frontman Lemmy, obviously.

It has since expanded its remit to also "bring people together to deliver a legacy fit for Motörhead and Lemmy". So now you know.


Sony/ATV, CAA, Nine Inch Nails, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Sony/ATV has appointed Thomas Krottinger to the newly created LA-based role of Senior Manager, International A&R. He previously had an A&R role at Dr Luke's Prescription Songs and Kemosabe Records.

• Universal Music has headhunted Sony Music exec Adam Granite for the London-based role of EVP Market Development. He will be tasked with maximising commercial opportunities across Europe and in key emerging markets.

• Music distribution and services firm INgrooves has hired David Lessoff - formerly with Capital Records - to be SVP Business & Legal Affairs, and former artist manager Dave Roberge as an SVP of the company's label development team. In an extraordinary turn of events, INgrooves CEO Bob Roback is "THRILLED" about the new appointments.

• Talent agency CAA has appointed Mary Gu Shuhang to be CEO of its new China division, launched back in April via a JV with CMC Capital Partners. She joins the agency from Special Olympics International where she was President and MD for the east Asia region.

• Nine Inch Nails have shared another track from that previously reported new EP 'Add Violence'. Following last week's track 'Less Than', here is 'This Isn't The Place'. The EP will be unleashed on Friday.

• Friends vocalist Samantha Urbani has revealed more info about her debut EP release, which will be available on 18 Aug and is called 'Policies Of Power'. Here is a newly released track that appears on it, 'Hints & Implications'.

• A super deluxe edition of The Smiths' 'The Queen Is Dead' album will be released in October with a second disc of demos and rarities. So that'll be something else for Morrissey to moan about.

• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Ed Sheeran on and off and on and off Twitter
So, Ed Sheeran said he was quitting Twitter because of all the nasty comments on there. Then he clarified that he wasn't quitting Twitter - he'd still be posting - but he wasn't going to look at any of the replies because of all the nasty comments on there.

Then he appeared on 'Game Of Thrones' and a new flood of nasty comments appeared, which presumably he didn't see, because he wasn't going to look at any of the replies to his Twitter account because of all the nasty comments on there.

But then he deleted his Twitter account, and everyone reckoned that was because of all the nasty comments that had appeared on there in the wake of the 'Game Of Thrones' cameo. So, it seemed, Ed Sheeran had quit Twitter. Because of all the nasty comments on there

But then he reactivated his Twitter account. But with a load of past replies deleted. And with a Twitter biog that reads: "I don't use this anymore, please follow me on @teddysphotos on Instagram, lots of love x"

So, fuck it, I don't know, is Ed Sheeran quitting Twitter, reading Twitter, not quitting Twitter, not reading Twitter, doing anything at all in relation to Twitter? I do not know.

Then again, does it matter? No, of course not. Though, given the widely positive response to the major anti-touting regime his team is instigating in relation to his 2018 stadium dates in the UK, he should get back on there pronto and swim in all the love. You know, before the next oil slick of nasty comments flows along.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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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.
Email or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
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