TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify is close to agreeing a new multi-year licensing deal with Warner Music everybody! And we're not just saying that based on one source familiar with the situation who has spoken to Reuters. Nor two sources familiar with the situation who have spoken to Reuters. Not even three sources familiar with the situation who have spoken to Reuters. No, four sources my friend, four sources! [READ MORE]
TODAY'S CMU APPROVED: New Zealand band French For Rabbits prepare the ground for their long-awaited second album with new single 'It Will Be Okay'. Filled with an atmosphere of dreamy fragility, it's a beautiful piece of writing, drawing you into a vivid world. "'It Will Be Okay' is a personal reminder to keep your chin up because everything will be okay", says vocalist Brooke Singer of the song. [READ MORE]
LATEST CMU PODCAST: CMU's Chris Cooke and guest presenter Becky Brook review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the latest mechanical right lawsuits against Spotify in the US and what they reveal about the complexities of digital licensing, plus the BBC's big pay reveal and its plan for a new prime-time music show. 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 close to new deal with Warner, though key elements still to be agreed
LEGAL GMR hating radio group seeks injunction over its Pennsylvanian problem
LIVE BUSINESS Olly Murs offers free tickets to those out of pocket from cancelled shows
Echo Arena to also stage events in neighbouring exhibition centre
BRANDS & MERCH O2 renews deal to brand the Academy venues
ARTIST NEWS Linkin Park pay tribute to late frontman Chester Bennington
RELEASES Susanne Sundfør and John Grant collaborate on Mountaineers
GIGS & FESTIVALS Justin Bieber cancels remaining tour dates
ONE LINERS Warner Bros, Purity Ring, Vessels, more
AND FINALLY... Kid Rock takes early lead in (slightly dubious) election poll
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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 close to new deal with Warner, though key elements still to be agreed
Spotify is close to agreeing a new multi-year licensing deal with Warner Music everybody! And we're not just saying that based on one source familiar with the situation who has spoken to Reuters. Nor two sources familiar with the situation who have spoken to Reuters. Not even three sources familiar with the situation who have spoken to Reuters. No, four sources my friend, four sources!

The precise revenue share arrangement the mini-major will get and the cash advance Spotify will pay are still to be agreed, those sources say, which are kind of the core of the deal, but whatever. It is thought that the basic principle of the new arrangement - ie that Warner will take a slight cut in revenue share in return for data and marketing kickbacks, growth commitments and a little bit of windowing - are pretty much agreed.

That's the general gist of all the new deals done between the labels and the streaming firm. Spotify, of course, is eager to list on Wall Street, and to do so needs both multi-year licensing agreements in place with the rights owners but also confirmation that its original business plan of keeping at least 30% of its income is still in pace, despite the music publishers, among others, having pushed for a bigger slice of the pie in recent years.

One of the sources told Reuters: "The negotiations are at a crossroads. There are still a number of key points that remain to be agreed. If we manage to come to terms on these points, then it could lead to a very quick transaction. If not, any deal would remain at bay".

Spotify already has new deals in place with Universal Music and Sony Music, and indie-label repping Merlin, so the Warner deal - which should be signed by September, it's said - is the last big one on the recordings side. Though deal making will continue with other distributors and the music publishing sector.

It's thought that Warner is pushing for commitments on guaranteed advances that are not tied to subscriber growth, and that it might also be looking for a commitment that Spotify won't fill its playlists with cheap library music, following all that recent chatter about the streaming firm putting tracks from production music outfit Epidemic onto certain chill out and ambient playlists.

As discussed in this recent CMU Podcast, it seems unlikely that Spotify is actually currently playlisting Epidemic tracks for commercial reasons. Even though music from the company will undoubtedly be cheaper to stream - not least because Epidemic is able to offer all the recording and publishing rights in one package, which is highly unusual, even for production music. But the tracks currently being selected do seem to fill a genuine editorial hole.

That said, the labels having established a streaming business model where some tracks are more expensive to deliver than others, commercial considerations may well ultimately become a factor in the playlist curation process on the streaming platforms. As it does in any other curation situation where variable pricing applies, like sync for example.

Though, by the next time the labels are negotiating multi-year deals with the market leading streaming company, a publicly-listed market-dominating profit-seeking Spotify will likely be looking for every new revenue stream it can get. Don't be surprised if that means key playlist slots going to the highest bidder - a digital version of music retailers charging for prime shelf space - by which point getting all hot and bothered about a bit of library music appearing on a chill-out playlist will seem rather quaint.


GMR hating radio group seeks injunction over its Pennsylvanian problem
The legal battle between Irving Azoff's mini performing rights organisation Global Music Rights and America's Radio Music License Committee is hotting up, and it was already emitting quite a lot of heat. The RMLC now wants an injunction forcing GMR to provide interim licences to radio stations in Pennsylvania.

As previously reported, the RMLC represents the US radio industry in the music licensing domain, while GMR is a boutique performing rights organisation representing the performing rights in the songs of a small group of songwriters who have opted out of the bigger US collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP.

Because BMI and ASCAP both represent such large catalogues of songs, they are regulated by the US Department Of Justice via the infamous consent decrees, which are designed to overcome competition law concerns. It means a rate court can intervene when licensees can't agree royalty terms with either society. The other US PRO - SESAC - although not regulated by consent decree, also allows third party mediation on royalty disputes as a result of settlements in past legal battles with groups of licensees.

The American radio industry wants the much newer GMR to also accept such third party mediation, and began legal action against the organisation last year. The RMLC accuses GMR of exploiting a monopoly, something the rights organisations refutes on the basis it represents a modest catalogue of songs.

That litigation continues to go through the motions. Meanwhile, GMR has started doing licensing deals directly with individual radio stations, rather than via the RMLC.

The music rights group said in a statement earlier this year that it was the RMLC itself, via its legal action, who stated that "going forward, GMR must approach each radio station owner directly and individually to make deals". The PRO added: "GMR did so and we've entered hundreds of licences with radio stations".

However, there was a footnote to that statement. The RMLC's lawsuit against GMR was filed with the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania. What did that mean? Well, GMR said in its statement: "Due to pending litigation with the RMLC ... we cannot negotiate or enter licences with stations owned by companies headquartered or based in Pennsylvania".

That is a bit of a problem for said radio stations, because their existing licences to broadcast songs now controlled by GMR expire on 30 Sep. And without a licence from the PRO they wouldn't be able to play songs written by the likes of Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams, Cathy Dennis, Drake, Don Henley, Ira Gershwin, John Lennon, Prince, Ryan Tedder and Smokey Robinson.

The RMLC claims that GMR is penalising radio stations in Pennsylvania because they have supported its litigation, and also because the performing rights organisation would rather fight its lawsuit in the Californian courts. Hence it's legal filing last week.

The committee said that GMR intended to maintain its position on the granting, or not, of licences to radio stations in Pennsylvania "unless these stations and the RMLC relinquish important legal rights against GMR". The radio grouping added that: "To this end, the RMLC has asked the federal court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to enter a preliminary injunction order preventing GMR from engaging in these overtly coercive actions while the RMLC's lawsuit proceeds".

It went on: "Further, the RMLC's motion requests that the court order GMR to continue to offer interim music performance licences, to those radio stations who elect to take one, on identical terms to those interim licences already in effect for the past several months. That relief would prevent GMR from further inordinate pressure on the radio industry while the federal court resolves the RMLC's antitrust claims against GMR".

Needless to say, GMR is not impressed with the RMLC's latest legal attack. It said in response: "The RMLC's latest motion is yet another waste of the court's time and an attempt to bully songwriters into accepting below-market-rate payments for their music. GMR continues to freely offer interim licenses to radio stations; our attempt to offer licenses to stations based in Pennsylvania was rejected by the RMLC itself prior to the filing of this motion. We are confident the court will see through these baseless allegations".


Olly Murs offers free tickets to those out of pocket from cancelled shows
That fine gent Olly Murs is offering fans who lost out from the collapse of a concert promoter called Stephen C Associates Limited free tickets to his upcoming shows in Swansea and Portsmouth.

As previously reported, Stephen C Associates Limited was promoting Murs shows in Exeter and Bournemouth, but last week announced it had ceased trading and that the concerts would not now go ahead.

With the collapse of the company, ticket buyers would be reliant on their ticket agent or credit card provider to get a refund, Stephen C Associates Limited having no money left to pay for refunds itself.

Yesterday morning Murs announced via Twitter that any fans who had been unable to get a refund would be offered free tickets at the Swansea and Portsmouth shows. Those who had successfully got their money back on tickets for the cancelled gigs are also being offered tickets to the other concerts at a special rate.

Addressing his fans, Murs wrote: "After both of these shows were cancelled when the promoter went into liquidation, I know you were all upset and left out of pocket! We tried to find a way of still doing the shows or rescheduling them but ended up facing too many obstacles, and we couldn't risk letting you down again".

He went on: "So, together with my management, agent and promoters of my other summer shows, we have come up with the most viable solution so I can still hopefully see most of you! Anyone who hasn't been offered a refund from their original ticketing company can get their ticket swapped with a replacement one [for the Swansea or Portsmouth shows]".

After explaining the special offer option for those that did get their money back on the cancelled gigs, he concludes: "I know I'm asking you to travel to new locations, and it's far from ideal, but we've really tried to make something work and I hope I can see loads of you at these other shows".


Echo Arena to also stage events in neighbouring exhibition centre
The operators of the Echo Arena in Liverpool have announced that they will start hosting events in the neighbouring Exhibition Centre Liverpool which is, erm, an exhibition centre in Liverpool, and part of the same complex as the arena venue.

Exhibition Centre Liverpool will continue to host exhibitions and conferences, but will also be used by the Echo Arena for concerts. Such events will operate under the new brand of Space By Echo Arena Liverpool. So now you know.

Ben Williams, Commercial Director of ACC Liverpool, which runs the Merseyside complex, that also includes a convention centre, said: "Space By Echo Arena Liverpool is the latest addition to our suite of live event layouts and complements Echo Arena, EchoTwo and The Auditorium Liverpool. Using the halls either separately or in combination will enable us to host many more visitors all on one level".


O2 renews deal to brand the Academy venues
O2, as everyone knows, is a shit company. A really shit company. I mean, if you've got the time, let me explain. If there was a list of the shittest companies in the world, starting with the moderately shit companies and working all the way to the shittiest of shitty shit companies, O2 wouldn't be on that list. It would have its own list. At the top of that list it would simply say "SHIT". So shit a company is O2 it's not really a company, it's just shit. So I was wrong. Apologies. O2 isn't a shit company. It's just a shit.

So yeah, Team O2 pissed me off big time a few years back when they kindly "upgraded" the internet at CMU HQ, by which I mean they utterly fucked it up, made me sit for several millennia on hold to an utterly useless helpline that, somewhat ironically for a telecommunications company, crackled like fuck, and then washed their hands of the whole debacle because, as I may have mentioned, O2 is a shit company. Sorry, I mean O2 is a shit.

Now, I'm not one to hold a grudge. I'm sure you can see that already. Let bygones be bygones, that's my mantra. OK, yes, I pointlessly boycott any venue with O2 in its name to this day, which might sound a little like a grudge. But don't worry, it's a white middle class boycott where you steadfastly refuse to do business with a company and all and any of its partners until a band you really like is playing the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire and then you make a temporary exception for just one night.

I justify this partly on the basis that no one actually calls the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, because doing so would be insane. And partly because I commit to spend at least some of the evening seething about all the hours I wasted on the O2 no-help-at-all-line. And it turns out, if you seethe long enough the roof falls in.

Anyway, O2 has agreed a new ten year deal with Live Nation and its Academy Music Group business that will see the phone brand pointlessly slapped on the side of nineteen venues around the UK for another ten years, including the Shepherd's Bush Empire of course, because that's the sort of thing marketing directors like spending money on.

O2 also gets other goodies for its customers as part of the deal, of course, like priority access to tickets, fast-track entry and free cloakroom space. All the nonsense you have to offer your customers to keep them on board when you're actual product is shit.

Says O2 CMO Nina Bibby: "We know our customers love live experiences, and O2 Academy venues are a huge part of the UK's live music scene, which is why we're extremely pleased to be continuing our longstanding relationship with both Live Nation and Academy Music Group".

Lovely stuff! Let the boycott continue, I say. And I know what you're all thinking - however shit O2 may be, at least this is better than when Carling sponsored the Academy venues meaning that you couldn't get a decent lager at a gig. But you're forgetting, I don't drink. And I was on that hold to that helpline for a very, very, very long time.


Approved: French For Rabbits
New Zealand band French For Rabbits prepare the ground for their long-awaited second album with new single 'It Will Be Okay'. Filled with an atmosphere of dreamy fragility, it's a beautiful piece of writing, drawing you into a vivid world.

"'It Will Be Okay' is a personal reminder to keep your chin up because everything will be okay", says vocalist Brooke Singer of the song. "It's about determination, breaking bad habits, mental health and the healing nature of going outside - perhaps for a run, or if you're me, for a trip to the seaside when it is very windy".

She continues: "I find it quite satisfying when little things line up, like the way the video for this song was filmed in the same place as another video from our first album - it just fits nicely together in my head. It was partly filmed out on the spit at Aramoana, an isolated windswept place where one could go to be truly alone and let the wind sweep the cobwebs away. The video shows someone struggling with some personal demons, and perhaps building up a bit of courage to break some bad habits. The message in the song is what I would want a person to remember at those moments".

The band will be touring the UK in October, so look out for that. And now, here's that video mentioned above.

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

Linkin Park pay tribute to late frontman Chester Bennington
Linkin Park have paid tribute to the band's frontman Chester Bennington, who died last week by suicide. The rest of band made their tribute via a letter addressed to Bennington posted on the Linkin Park website.

It reads: "Our hearts are broken. The shockwaves of grief and denial are still sweeping through our family as we come to grips with what has happened. You touched so many lives, maybe even more than you realised".

Referencing Bennington's wife Talinda, it goes on: "In the past few days, we've seen an outpouring of love and support, both public and private, from around the world. Talinda and the family appreciate it, and want the world to know that you were the best husband, son, and father; the family will never be whole without you".

The letter continues: "Talking with you about the years ahead together, your excitement was infectious. Your absence leaves a void that can never be filled - a boisterous, funny, ambitious, creative, kind, generous voice in the room is missing".

"We're trying to remind ourselves that the demons who took you away from us were always part of the deal. After all, it was the way you sang about those demons that made everyone fall in love with you in the first place. You fearlessly put them on display, and in doing so, brought us together and taught us to be more human. You had the biggest heart, and managed to wear it on your sleeve".

Concluding, the band write: "Our love for making and performing music is inextinguishable. While we don't know what path our future may take, we know that each of our lives was made better by you. Thank you for that gift. We love you, and miss you so much".

If you are experiencing mental distress or other issues affecting your mental wellbeing, you can contact The Samaritans on 116 123 or music industry focussed helpline Music Support on 0800 030 6789 or at musicsupport.org. The Mind website also offers information and support on a range of mental health issues.


Susanne Sundfør and John Grant collaborate on Mountaineers
I think we can all agree without any controversy whatsoever that Susanne Sundfør is one of the greatest artists of the last decade. Good, I'm glad you concur. And imagine if she collaborated with the also brilliant John Grant. Wouldn't that be great! Yes, it would. Well, I have some great news for you: that is a thing that has happened.

The latest single from Sundfør's upcoming 'Music For People In Trouble' album, due out on 25 Aug, is her collaboration with Grant, 'Mountineers'.

"'Mountaineers' is a song I wrote after spending a week at a retreat with The Dark Mountain Project and Way Of Nature, and is inspired by a poem by the American poet Robinson Jeffers, called 'Rearmament'", says Sundfør. "It's about the importance of seeing the beauty in things in order to find purpose and strength in life".

Of Sundfør, Grant adds: "She blows my mind with her incredible voice".

Here's the song. Here it is.


Justin Bieber cancels remaining tour dates
Justin Bieber has cancelled the last fourteen dates of his world tour, on account of some "unforeseen circumstances".

As well as a handful of dates in the US and Canada - the first in Dallas this Saturday - this means scrapping the entire Asian leg of the tour. That may at least be some solace to Chinese fans, who recently learned that Bieber was banned from the country due to past "bad behaviour", so that the Asian tour couldn't include any shows in China.

A statement posted on Facebook reads: "Due to unforeseen circumstances, Justin Bieber will cancel the remainder of the Purpose World Tour concerts. Justin loves his fans and hates to disappoint them. He thanks his fans for the incredible experience of the Purpose World Tour over last eighteen months".

It goes on: "He is grateful and honoured to have shared that experience with his cast and crew for over 150 successful shows across six continents during this run. However, after careful consideration he has decided he will not be performing any further dates".

Asked by TMZ subsequently why he had pulled the tour, Bieber said: "I'm OK. I've been on tour for two years. Just resting, getting some relaxation. We're gonna ride some bikes. I love [my fans], I think you guys are awesome. Sorry for anybody who feels disappointed or betrayed, it's not in my heart or anything and have a blessed day".

You heard the man. Have yourself a blessed day.


Warner Bros, Purity Ring, Vessels, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Dan McCarroll is leaving Warner Bros Records in the US, the record company has confirmed in an internal memo. He joined the mini-major as President of WBR in 2013.

• The 2017 Festival Congress from the Association Of Independent Festivals will take place in Cardiff on 30-31 Oct with a keynote from Artistic Director and CEO of the Manchester International Festival, John McGrath. Info here.

• Purity Ring have released new track 'Asido'.

• Vessels have released the video for their collaboration with The Flaming Lips, 'Deflect The Light'.

• Cold Specks has released new single, 'Fool's Paradise'. Her new album of the same name is out on 22 Sep.

• Skott has released the video for new single 'Mermaid'. "It all started with 'Mermaid", says the musician. "It was actually one of the first songs I started writing, but it took this long for me to see it to where it is now. It feels incredibly special that I can finally release it into the world".

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


Kid Rock takes early lead in (slightly dubious) election poll
Everyone thinks Kid Rock is going to win when he runs for one of Michigan's seats in the US Senate next year. Everyone. Well, some people. And all this still hangs on him actually running. But there's been a poll and some quotes, so let's continue gawping at this whole sorry charade.

As previously reported, the musician announced his intention to run for office earlier this month. Although he's not officially a contender yet, he insists that this is all genuine and that he will take on Democrat Debbie Stabenow - who has held the position since 2001 - in November next year.

Yesterday, the musician tweeted a link to a poll showing him in the lead in the possible contest. It put him at 54% of the vote, against Stabenow's 46%. Although these figures don't include undecided voters who make up nearly half of those asked.

The poll of 668 Michigan residents by Delphia Analytica, conducted shortly after Kid Rock made his announcement, shows that 44% hadn't decided who to vote for. 30% reckoned they'd go for the popstar, with Stabenow taking up the remaining 26%.

So, not quite as impressive as it initially seemed. And also, it has been widely questioned quite how reliable these numbers are, however you look at them. Delphia Analytica is not a well known polling organisation and seemingly only starting asking small numbers of people about their voting intentions this month.

It's very early days in the campaign, of course. However, there are those who are already confident of the musician's chances. One Republican consultant in Michigan, Dennis Lennox, told Politico: "Presuming Kid Rock doesn't get caught in bed with a little boy, or beat up a woman, between now and August 2018, he's going to win the nomination if he gets in. I think there's no question about that. I think he's the prohibitive favourite if he gets in".

Setting the bar high there. Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, Pennsylvania representative Brendan Boyle told Howard Stern on SiriusXM that Kid Rock "would be a horrible senator". So, real confidence on all sides.


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 andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (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.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
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 sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk 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.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
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