TODAY'S TOP STORY: New Zealand's Commerce Commission has told consumers to "seriously consider" whether buying tickets from Viagogo is "worth the risk". The statement follows a flurry of coverage in the New Zealand press about Bruno Mars fans being turned away at the door after buying tickets to his shows through the often controversial secondary ticketing platform... [READ MORE]
Available to premium subscribers, CMU Trends digs deeper into the inner workings of the music business, explaining how things work and reviewing all the recent trends.
As CMU Insights publishes agendas for each of the conferences that it will present at The Great Escape later this year, CMU Trends outlines the background to each theme being explored: the future of music education in the UK, the AI technologies most likely to kick-start a revolution in music, and challenges and opportunities in the Chinese music market. [READ MORE]
Music business conference Midem this week publishes a brand new white paper from our consultancy unit CMU Insights reviewing the potential impact various AI technologies will have on the music industry in the next decade. As a preview, CMU Trends presents some highlights. [READ MORE]
It's been a while since we've put the spotlight on challenges in the streaming sector. CMU Insights presented a new speed briefing on that very topic at the Output conference in Belfast this week. Based on that, here is a CMU Trends overview of the top five streaming challenges. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES New Zealand regulator asks whether buying tickets from Viagogo is "worth the risk"
LEGAL Suge Knight's lawyers charged over misconduct in relation to murder case
Martin Shkreli may have to give up Wu-Tang album as part of fraud conviction
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify cautioning users of hacked apps
MEDIA Loud And Quiet to relaunch print magazine
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Tower Records founder Russ Solomon dies
ARTIST NEWS Rick Ross released from hospital
David Byrne apologises for "ridiculous" failure to work with any women on his new album
ONE LINERS A.Chal, Blair Daly, Wolf Alice, more
AND FINALLY... Here's another inconclusive article about the possibility of a Spice Girls tour
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CMU Insights provides training and consultancy to music companies and companies working with music. Find out about our seminars, masterclasses and primers here...
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As we head into 2018, CMU Insights is now offering music companies a special two-hour primer session reviewing five key areas of the music business, summarising important developments from the last twelve months and looking at the challenges that lie ahead in the next year. Including: the streaming business, piracy, safe harbour, ticketing and data. CLICK HERE FOR INFO.

New Zealand regulator asks whether buying tickets from Viagogo is "worth the risk"
New Zealand's Commerce Commission has told consumers to "seriously consider" whether buying tickets from Viagogo is "worth the risk". The statement follows a flurry of coverage in the New Zealand press about Bruno Mars fans being turned away at the door after buying tickets to his shows through the often controversial secondary ticketing platform.

Writer Tommy Wilson, who was attending a Mars gig with his wife and daughter, was among those who found their Viagogo acquired tickets didn't grant them entry. He told the New Zealand Herald that about 70 people were turned away from the venue that night, all with tickets bought at hiked up prices on the resale site. He had taken all of those people's contact details and planned to complain on their behalf to the Commission.

For its part, the Commission is already investigating Viagogo, the most controversial of all the ticket resale sites. Yesterday it said in a statement: "The Commerce Commission is advising consumers to seriously consider whether buying tickets from ticket reselling website Viagogo is worth the risk after the latest series of complaints".

The Commission, which exists to enforce fair trading and competition laws in New Zealand, says it has now received 228 complaints about Viagogo. Twenty one of those came in this weekend in relation to Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran and Shania Twain shows, and some upcoming sporting events, as well as the aforementioned Bruno Mars concerts.

The regulator is focusing on those complains that centre on alleged "false representations" made by Viagogo or ticket resellers using its services. This includes the secondary site implying that it is an official seller, incorrect information being provided about tickets being sold, and messaging that suggests tickets for a show are running out across the board, when Viagogo only knows about tickets being sold on its platform.

Other complaints relate to fake tickets being sold, the same ticket being sold multiple times, or consumers not receiving tickets they have bought and struggling to get a refund. All the classic Viagogo complaints!

The Commission's Stuart Wallace says: "Our investigation has been focused on alleged false and misleading representations made by Viagogo which could breach the Fair Trading Act. We are currently seeking expert legal advice on whether and how we can enforce New Zealand consumer laws against Viagogo which is based in Switzerland".

He added: "Over the weekend we received a wave of new complaints and there is a wealth of media coverage of consumers feeling ripped off after buying tickets from Viagogo. We are concerned our previous consumer advice via social media and on our website about the risks of ticket resale are not getting through. We strongly advise consumers to have their eyes wide open if they are considering buying tickets from Viagogo".

In line with advice given by anti-touting campaigners, like the FanFair Alliance in the UK, Wallace adds that consumers seeking tickets should start from the artist's official website, and follow the links to primary ticket agents, rather than relying on a Google search, which will often have touted tickets at the top.

Wallace: "We suspect consumers type the name of the artist they want to see into a search engine and then click the first result that appears - which is often Viagogo. We recommend consumers buy from primary ticket sellers. They can do this by visiting the artist or event's official website and following the links from there".

The Commerce Commission also noted that some of its counterparts elsewhere in the world are also investigating Viagogo, including the Australian Competition And Consumer Commission, which has actually begun legal proceedings against the secondary site.

Those investigations come as the anti-touting campaign increases in volume in various countries, and lawmakers seem more willing than in the past to actively regulate - or even outlaw - the resale of tickets for profit online.


Suge Knight's lawyers charged over misconduct in relation to murder case
Confirming once and for all - in case there was any doubt whatsoever - that any legal wrangling involving Suge Knight will always deliver plenty of dramatic twists and turns, two of the one-time hip hop mogul's attorneys have been charged for allegedly conspiring to bribe potential witnesses.

LA County prosecutors confirmed yesterday that one former attorney and one current attorney working on Knight's long-running murder case have been charged on four counts. Matthew Fletcher is accused of paying off witnesses who could provide favourable testimony for his client, while Thaddeus Culpepper is accused of agreeing with one confidential informant that he would provide false testimony.

Knight is facing murder charges in relation to the death in 2015 of a man called Terry Carter, following an incident that occurred near the set of the NWA biopic 'Straight Outta Compton', which was then in production.

Fletcher and Culpepper were both arrested over allegations of misconduct in January, but were initially released without charge. Following his arrest, and confirming that he would nevertheless continue to work on Knight's case, Culpepper told reporters "what they were charging me with is impossible". Meanwhile Knight dubbed the allegations against his lawyer "fake news".

The two attorneys will now return to court on 16 Mar for the charges against them to be officially declared. Neither has as yet commented on the latest development.


Martin Shkreli may have to give up Wu-Tang album as part of fraud conviction
Convicted fraudster and all round jerk Martin Shkreli - who still counts as music news because of him buying that Wu-Tang album - might have to give up that Wu-Tang album in order to pay a $7.36 million fine in relation to his fraud conviction.

Shkreli rose to fame, of course, after buying the rights to a life-saving AIDS drug and massively increasing the price. He then dabbled with some music investments before being charged and later convicted for fraud in relation to some of his business ventures.

His music dabblings included buying the one and only copy made available of Wu-Tang Clan's 2015 album 'Once Upon a Time In Shaolin'. It was a purchase that set him back $2 million and resulted in some light feuding with certain members of the hip hop collective.

Last year Shkreli, then on bail awaiting sentencing in relation to the fraud conviction, put the Wu-Tang album up for sale on eBay. According to the auction site, it sold for $1,025,100.00. But shortly after the supposed sale Shkreli was jailed after making some bizarre posts about Hillary Clinton on social media.

The ownership status of the album then remained unclear. One of the people who had been bidding subsequently told HipHopDX that he had been approached by lawyers working for Shkreli, who were still taking bids even after the eBay auction had closed. That suggested that no deal to sell the one-off record had actually been reached.

Either way, when a judge this week listed assets that a supposedly cash-broke Shkreli may need to hand over to satisfy the $7.36 million fine, it included the Wu-Tang album. Along with equity in Shkreli's drugs company, a Picasso painting, and a copy of Lil Wayne's never released 'The Carter V' album he somehow got his hands on. Oh, and the $5 million in cash sitting in an E-Trade brokerage account that Shkreli previously used to secure bail.

The fine Shkreli must pay to the US government is in addition to "the resolution of any third-party claims" by victims of his fraudulent activity. Though the judge overseeing the case put off actually seizing assets until the conclusion of Shkreli's planned appeal of his fraud conviction.

In addition to wrangling over monies, there is also the matter of Shkreli's prison sentence in relation to that conviction. His lawyers are pushing for twelve to eighteen months. But prosecutors could push for a much longer sentence. Like, a decades long sentence. Which would probably put losing ownership of a Wu-Tang album into perspective. Especially given that chatter last year questioning whether it really was a Wu-Tang album.


Spotify cautioning users of hacked apps
Spotify is seemingly cracking down on people using hacked versions of its app that allow stingy old freemium users to get some of the functionality that is usually reserved for super-tastic premium subscribers.

The free version of Spotify comes with ads and limited functionality, especially on mobile, in a deliberate bid to upsell premium subscriptions, which is where the streaming service and the music industry really makes its money. The idea is that freemium users go "Oh the annoying ads! Oh the limited functionality! Fuck it, have ten pounds, there's this great playlist of top Bulgarian tunes I want to listen to offline without interruption".

But instead some sneaky gits go "Oh the annoying ads! Oh the limited functionality! There's this great playlist of top Bulgarian tunes I want to listen to offline without interruption. I'm going to see if there's a way to get that without paying any money".

To that end, Torrentfreak noticed yesterday, Spotify is now sending messages to people it thinks maybe accessing its service via a hacked app stating that "abnormal activity" has been spotted, and that that could result in a user's account being suspended or terminated. The streaming service has confirmed that it is indeed sending out such messages, though it's not clear how many have gone out so far.

Although Spotify was keen to talk up the potential of its ad-funded free service, which boasts more users, in its SEC filing last week ahead of its listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the vast majority of revenues generated by the streaming business come from paying users. Therefore many in the music industry see free streaming as a necessary evil to sign-up people to the more lucrative premium services.


Loud And Quiet to relaunch print magazine
Loud And Quiet has announced a revamp of its monthly print magazine, launching this week.

The new version will see the title ditch the newsprint format it's had for nearly a decade, taking on a magazine style on a mix of matt and gloss finishes. It will also add 20 extra pages, which in part will accommodate an expanded reviews section.

"The best thing about being an independent publication is that we can change anything we like at any point", says Editor Stuart Stubbs. "We produced some really great issues in our newspaper format, which I'm very proud of, but all of a sudden, at the end of 2017, I felt like we needed a change - to something that was less limiting than newsprint can be".

He continues: "We're lucky that Lee Belcher, who's always designed the magazine - and continues to do so now with his own design company BAM - relishes big projects from out the blue. Together we've been staring at font sizes and paper stocks since the first week of January. I'm glad we can finally show people what's kept us so quiet on the magazine front this year".

The new version of the free magazine will be available in 600 outlets across the UK from this Friday.

You can here more about Loud & Quiet - and other independent music media in the UK - in this special edition of the CMU Podcast from 2016.

Tower Records founder Russ Solomon dies
Tower Records founder Russ Solomon has died, aged 92, his son has confirmed.

Michael Solomon told the Sacramento Bee that his father died of an apparent heart attack while watching the Oscars on Sunday night. "He was giving his opinion of what someone was wearing that he thought was ugly, then asked [his wife] Patti to refill his whiskey", he said. By the time she returned with the drink, Solomon was dead.

Solomon founded Tower Records in Sacramento in 1960, seeing it grow into one of the best known music retailers worldwide - operating almost 200 stores in fifteen countries at its peak. It was also one of the first retailers to begin selling online, launching its website in 1995. However, the growth of internet shopping and online piracy were among the factors blamed for the company's later collapse.

The formula for the stores was large spaces with vast stocks - some stores stocking almost all CD titles on the market at any one time. This business model worked well, particularly during the 90s music retail boom. However, it also made it susceptible to any downturn. Mounting debts and falling sales sent the company into liquidation in 2006.

Although now defunct in the US, the brand lives on in various countries around the world, including Ireland and Japan. For a time its website was also revived, but this has now ceased trading again.

Commenting on Solomon's death, president of the US Music Business Association - formerly the National Association of Recording Merchandisers - James Donio, said: "As the founder and CEO of Tower Records, Russ was one of the primary architects of NARM in its formative years. His and Tower's presence and influence loomed large in our association for many decades. You always felt the love when Tower was in the room".

"Russ was quite outspoken and having a conversation with him about the music business was always a priceless education", he continued. "He never ceased to amaze me with his unique wit and wisdom".

Donio concluded: "I had actually just spoken with Russ a few days ago about a special tribute we're planning for him at our 60th Anniversary Conference in May, and he planned to be there. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Russ' beloved Patti, his family, friends, colleagues, and all of the music fans around the world who have a special memory of what Tower Records meant to them".


Approved: Agar Agar
The story currently goes that before forming Agar Agar, Clara Cappagli and Armand Bultheel started making music together to mark the retirement of the librarian at the art school they were attending. Although they also once claimed that Cappalgli "comes from a family of apes", so I don't know how much we should believe in their biog.

Whatever, they have released a string of excellent singles over the last couple of years - such as 'Prettiest Virgin' and 'That Guy Is Me' - both of which featured on their debut EP 'Cardan'. However, it's on new single 'Fangs Out' that they really come into their own.

Aiming for an "early Warp" vibe, the new single sees them take the techno and pop influenced sound they've developed and spin it on its axis. More than ever, they create an atmosphere with their music and words that transports you somewhere else. Somewhere the track's excellent video tries to reach.

Watch the video for 'Fangs Out' here.

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

Rick Ross released from hospital
Rick Ross has returned home after four days in hospital, according to TMZ. The rapper received medical attention last week for as yet undisclosed reasons.

This entire story has played out on the pages of the TMZ site, with no official statement on the matter. The website first reported that the rapper was taken to hospital after being found unconscious at his home last Thursday. Initially it said that he had pneumonia, but later speculated that he'd had a heart attack.

The website also claimed that Ross was being kept on life support - something that was denied by an unnamed family member and one of his associates, Fat Trel.

Now Ross is reportedly back at home recuperating. TMZ also says that he'd been transferred to a second hospital at some point, due to the severity of his condition. The rapper is still to make any statement on all of this, however. His Twitter account has been silent since the end of last month. His Instagram account did post a photo of a watch yesterday though, so make of that what you will.


David Byrne apologises for "ridiculous" failure to work with any women on his new album
David Byrne has said that he regrets not working with any women on his new solo album, 'American Utopia'. Out this Friday, the record is his first solo LP for fourteen years.

Last week, Byrne shared an image on Instagram showing his collaborators for the new album. Included are artists such as Brian Eno, Sampha, Dev Hynes, Jaakko Eino Kalevi and Jack Penate. The collection of 25 musicians is notably lacking any women, something that had seemingly not occurred to Byrne until people began responding to his post.

"The image in the post clearly reveals this problem in a way that mere words do not", he says in a new post on Instagram. "This lack of representation is something that is problematic and widespread in our industry. I regret not hiring and collaborating with women for this album - it's ridiculous, it's not who I am and it certainly doesn't match how I've worked in the past. It doesn't represent my current live show, which has a slew of diverse creators and collaborators, making this even more negligent on my part".

Byrne has worked with many female musicians in the past, and in 2012 released an album with St Vincent, 'Love This Giant', which gave them equal billing. This makes the omission of any women from 'American Utopia' all the more stark for him, especially as he adds that he's actively tried to ensure greater inclusion in his past work.

"I am happy that we live in a time that this conversation is happening", he continues. "It's hard to realise that no matter how much effort you spend nudging the world in what you hope is the right direction, sometimes you are part of the problem. I never thought of myself as being 'one of those guys', but I guess to some extent I am. Your responses serve as corrective. Thank you".

Last month, Byrne released the second single from 'American Utopia', 'This Is That', which was co-written with Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never.


A.Chal, Blair Daly, Wolf Alice, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Singer-songwriter A.Chal has signed a record deal with Sony Music's Epic label in the US. So says Billboard, anyway. And why would they lie?

• Concord Music has signed songwriter Blair Daly to a worldwide publishing deal. Daly has written for artists including Kelly Clarkson, Tim McGraw, Rascall Flatts and Uncle Kracker. "Unique", says Daily. "Consummate", adds Concord's Brad Kennard.

• Wolf Alice have released the video for 'Sadboy' from their latest album, 'Visions Of A Life'.

• Perfume Genius has just re-emerged with three new songs: 'Jory', 'Lulla', and 'Onscreen'.

• Little Dragon have released 'Best Friends', taken from their upcoming new twelve-inch double A-side release.

• Rich The Kid has released the video for new single 'Plug Walk'.

• The Hold Steady are back with a new single, 'Eureka'.

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


Here's another inconclusive article about the possibility of a Spice Girls tour
Craig David said last week that the Spice Girls have no business speaking to young people these days. But what do young people actually think? Specifically, the children of the Spice Girls.

"I think they have mixed feelings", says Mel C in a new interview with the Mirror. "[But] all of them like the idea ... the children are super proud of their mums".

Does that mean the Spice Girls have now decided what form their reunion is actually going to take? No, it does not. They are still "talking" about what to do next.

"We think it is a very powerful year for women in general and it seems very fitting to get our act together and be a part of that", she says. "We are at a point now where we really respect each other and appreciate each other and it feels like a really good time for us girls. That's why we feel quite positive about moving forwards".

As for a reunion tour, that remains firmly up in the air. Manager Simon Fuller recently seemed to hint that dates might go on without one member of the group. That will not be the case, says Mel C. It's all five or nothing. There she goes again, blocking the way.

Or not. Despite once writing an essay on why the Spice Girls shouldn't reunite, she's not sure why everyone thinks it's her fault whenever they don't get back together.

"I'm always a little bit puzzled why I get the blame", she says. "The thing is, when we spoke a couple of years ago, I was a little bit uncomfortable that it wasn't the full five, and I still feel like that. If we were to go on stage again, I truly believe it has to be all five - five or nothing. I don't think it does the band or the fans justice otherwise".

I hope it ends up that this reunion is just a series of vague interviews like this for a whole year. Compiled into a stocking filler book come Christmas.


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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