TODAY'S TOP STORY: Sony Corp has held preliminary talks to acquire the rest of EMI Music Publishing, according to sources that have spoken to Bloomberg. One of the other shareholders in the songs business is reportedly seeking a valuation for the company nearly double what the Sony-led consortium it was part of originally paid for it. Which would be about $4 billion... [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 Spotify finally lists on the New York Stock Exchange, CMU Trends reviews Spotify's business to date, considers what its SEC filing might tell us about its current direction, and speculates what a Spotify of the future might look like. [READ MORE]
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: music education, AI and the Chinese music market. [READ MORE]
Midem recently published 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. CMU Trends presents some highlights. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Sony Corp in talks to buy rest of EMI Music Publishing
LEGAL Fyre Festival founder told to pay back $26 million to defrauded investors
Nun who battled Katy Perry's convent purchase dies in court
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner joins the Facebook licensing party
New music licensing platform seeks to legitimise music usage in sport
RELEASES Zayn Malik releases leaked August Alsina remix as free download
Grouper announces new album, Grid Of Points
ONE LINERS Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Tool, more
AND FINALLY... Rage Against The Machine call out "pissweasel" Nigel Farage
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Sony Corp in talks to buy rest of EMI Music Publishing
Sony Corp has held preliminary talks to acquire the rest of EMI Music Publishing, according to sources that have spoken to Bloomberg. One of the other shareholders in the songs business is reportedly seeking a valuation for the company nearly double what the Sony-led consortium it was part of originally paid for it. Which would be about $4 billion.

The acquisition of the EMI publishing company was led by Sony back in 2012, after the bankers at Citigroup repossessed the old EMI Group and split it into two - recordings and publishing - to sell on to the other major music corporations.

Joining Sony in its $2.2 billion acquisition of the publishing side were its then partners in its own songs business Sony/ATV - the Michael Jackson estate - along with finance firms Mubadala Development, Jynwel Capital and Blackstone Group, and music industry veteran David Geffen.

Since the purchase, Sony/ATV has administrated the EMI Music Publishing catalogue, meaning Sony/ATV/EMI has basically been run as one company, even though technically they remain two distinct entities.

Chatter about Sony Corp possibly seeking to buy out its partners in EMI began last year, with Variety noting that the administration deal between Sony/ATV and EMI expired in 2018 and that that would be the logical moment to rejig things. A source at one of the finance firms involved in the 2012 acquisition also told Variety last year that it would be quite happy to be bought out if a suitably large cheque was on offer.

That may well have been Mubadala Development. Bloomberg says that the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund is now actively talking to Sony Corp about selling its share in EMI, while also sounding out other possible bidders. Sources say that the investment outfit could force a sale of the entire EMI Music Publishing business if Sony can't reach a buy-out deal with its partners in the 2012 acquisition.

It's also seemingly Mubadala that is seeking a valuation of at least $4 billion for the EMI business, hoping to capitalise on the renewed interest in owning music rights partly fuelled by the streaming boom. The EMI catalogue boasts many valuable works, and with older songs the publisher likely has control of them for life of copyright, subject to the reach of the songwriter's 'termination right' under American copyright law, which is still being worked out.

If Sony did take complete ownership of EMI Music Publishing, having already bought out the Jackson estate from its Sony/ATV venture, it would make the entertainment conglom the undisputed major player in song copyrights. Meanwhile, once fully in control of Sony/ATV/EMI, Sony Corp might be able to more closely align its global recordings and music publishing businesses, which have operated pretty autonomously to date.


Fyre Festival founder told to pay back $26 million to defrauded investors
The founder of the failed Fyre Festival has been ordered to pay back $26 million to his former investors after pleading guilty to fraud charges last week.

Fyre Festival, of course, was the music event due to take place on an island in the Bahamas in April and May last year. Marketed as a super luxurious experience, the festival collapsed just as people were arriving, as it became clear management hadn't put in place the infrastructure for even a basic event, let alone the luxury set-up that had been promised.

A plethora of lawsuits followed the event's collapse, while Billy McFarland - who created the event with Ja Rule - was arrested over allegations of fraud. He finally pleaded guilty to those charges last week via a plea deal with prosecutors. That deal will include jail time, likely to be between eight and ten years, with sentencing due to take place in June.

In the meantime a New York court has ordered McFarland to pay back the $26 million he defrauded from various people who invested in the companies behind the Fyre Festival and an accompanying talent booking app. Though, given that he claimed to be broke when arrested last summer, and with that decade of prison time pencilled into the diary, it's not entirely clear how he'll settle those debts.


Nun who battled Katy Perry's convent purchase dies in court
As the legal battle over Katy Perry's attempt to buy a former convent in Los Angeles continues, one of the nuns leading the case against the musician collapsed and died in court on Friday. The 89 year old Sister Catherine Rose Holzman was at the Los Angeles county court for the latest hearing in the case.

The long-running dispute centres on who has the authority to sell the property. The nuns argue that they acquired the building in the 1970s from its former owner Daniel Donoghue. They agreed to sell it to local restaurateur Dana Hollister, who wants to turn it into a hotel. However, the Archdiocese Of Los Angeles argues that only it has the authority to approve a sale, and it wants it to go to Perry.

The pop star agreed a deal with the Archdiocese back in 2015 to purchase the property for $14.5 million. But, shortly afterwards, Hollister agreed a separate deal for $15.5 million with Holzman and another former resident Sister Rita Callanan.

This led to two years of arguments between the Archdiocese, the nuns, Hollister and Perry as to who had the right to sell the property, and who had actually bought it. A judge ruled in 2016 that the sale to Hollister was invalid, but the case has still rumbled on.

The latest squabble centres on allegations by the Archdiocese and Perry that Hollister knowingly interfered in their property deal by misleading the nuns, thus forcing them to participate in two years of unnecessary and expensive legal back and forth. In December last year, Perry and the Archdiocese were awarded $15 million punitive damages from Hollister. Hollister subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

It is seemingly the bankruptcy proceedings that saw the case back in court last week. Holzman and Callaghan said they were appearing in support for Hollister. Callaghan explained to Fox News ahead of the hearing: "We're trying to get out to the public to say what is being done to Dana Hollister is absolutely wrong, the judge was wrong, the jury was wrong. They even admitted it afterwards because they didn't get both sides of the story".

Addressing Perry directly, Holzman added: "Katy Perry, please stop. It's not doing anyone any good except hurting a lot of people".

The exact cause of Holzman's death has not been made public as yet. She had been a nun since 1947, signing up as soon as she graduated from high school. The final decision on the sale of the former convent where she previously lived is still due to be made by the Vatican.


Warner joins the Facebook licensing party
Warner Music has announced a "holistic partnership" with Facebook. I can't work it out. Is that more or less exciting than the "dynamic new model" Universal Music announced that it had agreed with Facebook back in December? Sony/ATV's deal with Facebook was "groundbreaking". And when collecting society hub ICE announced its Facebook alliance, that was a "landmark" deal. What do you reckon? Which one wins?

For those labels, publishers and collecting societies still to announce their deals with the late-to-licensing-but-wow-what-an-advance-cheque social media firm, here are some other options for describing your suck-it-and-see user-generated-content Facebook deals:

1. "We are really pleased to announce a fully-integrated immersive licensing construct with our new friends at Facebook".

2. "This is a leading-edge, game-changing, innovative deal with Facebook that will enhance the way fans engage with our artists and songwriters".

3. "We are THRILLED to form a mutually-beneficial fraternal alliance with our trusted allies at Facebook that will result in the realisation of new visions and new ambitions for music online".

4. "Today we enter into a creative collaborative co-operative with Facebook to capitalise on the curational capital and connected community of our combined crowd and crew".

5. "Fuck it, it's a big fuck-off advance cheque, and when it fucking turns out in two fucking year's time that we've been royally fucked over, we'll get our fucking trade bodies to bang on about the fucking 'value gap' some more".

But for now back to this "holistic partnership" between Warner and Facebook, which covers both the mini-major's labels and those Warner/Chappell publishing catalogues that are licensed via direct deals rather than society-negotiated arrangements. "The deal paves the way for fans to create, upload and share videos with licensed music from their favourite artists and songwriters", says Warner, and not just on Facebook, as the deal covers Messenger, Instagram and all that Oculus VR nonsense.

And now for some actual quotes...

Ole Obermann, Chief Digital Officer at Warner Music Group: "Our partnership with Facebook will help expand the universe of music streaming and create supplementary revenue for artists. Fan-created video is one of the most personal, social and often viral ways that music is enjoyed, but its commercial potential is largely untapped. This collaboration will lead to new possibilities for our artists, while enhancing the user experience across Facebook, Instagram and Oculus, and enabling people to communicate and express themselves using the music they love."

Eric Mackay, EVP, Global Digital Strategy at Warner/Chappell: "The team at Facebook is creating a truly innovative product and is showing real commitment to its participation in the growth of the music business. We've taken our time to arrive at the best possible deal, one that recognises the value that music creates on social networks, while empowering our songwriters to reach audiences around the world, in a way that will spark creativity and conversation among their fans. Our incredible catalogue of songs will be represented throughout Facebook's platforms and we're excited to work together to create new opportunities for both our songwriters and Facebook's users".

Tamara Hrivnak, Head Of Music Business Development And Partnerships at Facebook: "When Facebook and music come together, we have the power to bring people closer together. Music brings to life the happy, the sad, the throwback and the funny in all the moments and messages we share with friends. We are delighted to partner with Warner, its artists and songwriters, and welcome them to our platforms".

Yeah, mine were better.


New music licensing platform seeks to legitimise music usage in sport
A London-based start-up seeking to unlock new revenues for labels and publishers when music is used in sports competitions has officially launched. Having been in beta since last summer, Clickamix seeks to be a connection between music rights owners and those creating music for use in cheerleading or sports like gymnastics, figure skating and synchronised swimming.

The company reckons that many event organisers in these industries are currently using unlicensed or incorrectly licensed music. Cheerleading and sports of this kind usually edit and mix tracks to suit their needs, which is why bespoke licences are often required.

Clickamix says it plans to educate relevant sports of their obligations under copyright law, while helping music companies capitalise on the opportunities in this space by making it easier to license their music for such use.

The company's founder, Chantal Epp, says: "We are fast building a growing catalogue of pre-cleared music available to producers who wish to quickly and easily license music for use in sports competitions".

Noting that she is already working with "some of the most prominent rightsholders in the industry", Epp adds that she hopes the music business will help her educate governing bodies in relevant sports - "which is a huge challenge considering the misinformation and lack of awareness" - while Clickamix rolls out its "micro-licensing solution to more and more sports that use music in a similar way".

Some in the music industry, especially in the US, have already taken some action over uncleared music being used this domain. Back in 2014, Sony Music filed litigation against four companies Stateside over special mix albums being sold to the organisers of cheerleading competitions. Recordings owned or repped by the major in the US, including tracks from Christina Aguilera, Beyonce and Adele, had all appeared without permission on the special cheerleading releases. The compilations were being sold for up to $1000 per mix.


Record Tokens return
The Entertainment Retailers Association last week confirmed that it is bringing back good old fashioned record tokens. Your gran will be pleased come Christmas. I know she's been panicking about what to get you.

Back in the 90s, the Christmas gran market made record tokens a multi-million pound business. But as physical music products became less of a thing that The Kids wanted, the demand for them dried up. Which is why your gran now gives you handkerchiefs every year, which can't be traded for anything.

From May though, the tokens will be back and accepted in independent record shops across the land. It's all being administered by the company behind National Book Tokens, which are apparently still a thing. You should have told you gran about those. But now there's no need. Don't run the risk of having to own a stinky book, when you can have a new piece of fragrant vinyl in your hands.

It's the 'vinyl revival' that's apparently prompted all of this. ERA reckons enough people are now buying physical records that it's worth having a multi-retailer token-based gift system in place once again.

"There has never been a better time to bring back record tokens", says ERA boss Kim Bayley. "We predict they will be much coveted gifts this year for music fans of all ages. The unstoppable growth in vinyl sales, and year on year increase in independent record shop openings, show that the UK's love affair with vinyl is here to stay".

The tokens will be available on 14 May online and from participating indie stores. Email your gran with a link to the record tokens website by early November to avoid disappointment.


Approved: Jess Williamson
Jess Williamson returns with 'Cosmic Wink' on 11 May. It's her first album for new label Mexican Summer, she having self-released previous efforts 'Native State' in 2016 and 'Heart Song' in 2014. Accompanying the news of the new album is a first single, the record's opening track 'I See The White'.

"This song is a love song and it's also kind of me throwing a tantrum", says Williamson of it. "It's begging for answers and making a few demands too. I get it, life is short but our souls live on, right? So, I'm gonna need my sweetheart to come too, okay? And maybe my dog. Is that so much to ask?"

The single's psychedelic country is a conscious attempt by Williamson to shift her sound away from the quietness of the earlier releases. "You're asking a lot if you expect an audience to be completely silent during your set and listen to every word", she says.

"I started thinking about performing as something that could be fun", she goes on. "I want my mom and her friends to like this album as much as someone with super obscure taste - and I don't think they're mutually exclusive".

Watch the video for 'I See The White' here.

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Zayn Malik releases leaked August Alsina remix as free download
Zayn Malik has released a remix of August Alsina's 'Don't Matter', featuring vocals from the former One Direction member, as a free download. Although he hadn't planned to release it at all, but did so following an "unprofessional" leak.

"This was not a song I intended to put out, but due to unprofessionalism [it] has been leaked by someone", he tweeted yesterday morning. "My fans mean more to me than a stupid leak, so here it is free for you to enjoy".

In a slightly over-enthusiastic response, Alsina said: "Zayn, I'm sending an abundance of love to you! You are my brother, I am yours. I don't know how this happened but way to make lemons into lemonade (and a great batch, might I add). We do great work together".

Zayn wrote back to that: "Turn any negative to a positive! Couldn't agree more with ya, we sound sick together brother".

So much love, maybe there'll be a collaboration between the two at some point which Malik doesn't have to only reluctantly put out. Download the one he didn't want you to hear here.


Grouper announces new album, Grid Of Points
Liz Harris, aka Grouper, has announced her first album since 2014's 'Ruins'. Her eleventh solo LP, 'Grid Of Points' is set for release on 27 Apr.

"'Grid Of Points' is a set of songs for piano and voice", says Harris. "I wrote these songs over a week and a half; they stopped abruptly when I was interrupted by a high fever. Though brief, it is complete. The intimacy and abbreviation of this music allude to an essence that the songs lyrics speak more directly of. The space left after matter has departed, a stage after the characters have gone, the hollow of some central column, missing".

Listen to the first track released from the record, 'Parkling Lot', here.


Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Tool, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Everything Taylor Swift does now makes me think about how shit 'Look What You Made Me Do' is. That song's just so shit, isn't it? Astoundingly awful. Here's the video for 'Delicate'.

• Cardi B's debut album proper will be out next week. Accepting her Best New Artist prize at the iHeartRadio Awards last night, she blurted, "New album in April - stay tuned motherfuckers".

The studio is a place where Tool are.

• The Manic Street Preachers have released new single, 'Dylan & Caitlyn'. Here's an acoustic version, featuring The Anchoress.

• A Perfect Circle have released the video for 'Disillusionment', taken from their new album 'Eat The Elephant', which is out next month.

• Ceephax has announced that he will release new album, 'Camelot's Arcade', on 2 Apr. From it, this is 'Life Started Tomorrow'.

• Flasher have released new single 'Skim Milk', marking their recent signing to Domino. Should be 'skimmed', but whatever.

• The Rolling Stones have added two more dates to their upcoming UK tour. They'll play Southampton's St Mary's Stadium on 29 May and Coventry's Ricoh Stadium on 2 Jun.

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


Rage Against The Machine call out "pissweasel" Nigel Farage
Rage Against The Machine's semi-official Twitter account has called out Nigel Farage for naming his new podcast, for UK radio station LBC, 'Farage Against The Machine'.

"Failed right-wing British politician Nigel Farage has called his podcast 'Farage Against The Machine", tweeted the account over the weekend. "This pissweasel IS the machine - peddling the sort of inane, blame-heavy bullshit that the guys in [Rage Against The Machine] have been raging against since day one..."

I'm not sure if we're supposed to pronounce the title of the podcast 'FaRAYGE Against The Machine', or if Farage thinks the band are called Raj Against The Machine. It may be that it's just a shit attempt at a pun that doesn't even really work.

This isn't the first time the band have had run-in with Farage. Back in 2012, guitarist Tom Morello tweeted angrily after learning that the UK Independence Party - then under Farage's leadership - had been inexplicably using RATM's Christmas song 'Killing In The Name' at political events.

"Hey UKIP & Nigel Farage: Stop using 'Killing In The Name' for your racist/rightwing rallies", he wrote. "We are against everything you stand for. STOP. IT".

Anyway, now you know that Nigel Farage has a new podcast. Sorry about that. I'd tell you that we have a podcast too, but I don't want the two shows linked in your head. Stop thinking about either of them. Stop. It.


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
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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