TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Elton John AIDS Foundation announced yesterday that it had received a donation of $1 million to its LGBT Fund from the Chair of live music major AEG, Philip Anschutz. This follows further scrutiny of the billionaire's previous funding of various anti-LGBT groups... [READ MORE]
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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]
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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 AEG's Phillip Anschutz donates $1 million to Elton John's AIDS Foundation, following anti-LGBT controversy
LEGAL Judge refuses to dismiss latest Monster v Beats legal battle
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Doug Morris talking to Warner about distributing his new label
ARTIST NEWS South Korean pop stars to perform in North Korea for first time since 2005
Frank Ocean questions how 'hacked' unofficial Facebook page became verified
Wu-Tang's U-God accuses RZA of failing the group
ONE LINERS Franz Ferdinand, Animal Collective, Blawan, more
AND FINALLY... Ed Sheeran's neighbours angry over plans to build a church in his garden
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AEG's Phillip Anschutz donates $1 million to Elton John's AIDS Foundation, following anti-LGBT controversy
The Elton John AIDS Foundation announced yesterday that it had received a donation of $1 million to its LGBT Fund from the Chair of live music major AEG, Philip Anschutz. This follows further scrutiny of the billionaire's previous funding of various anti-LGBT groups.

"The donation by Phil to EJAF is in keeping with the special connection and consistently supportive, collaborative relationship I have developed with AEG for more than a decade", says John. As suggested, AEG has promoted John's shows for more than ten years now, and it is behind the musician's upcoming three year farewell tour.

John, meanwhile, launched his AIDS Foundation charity in 1992. The $10 million LGBT Fund was first announced in 2015 as a public-private partnership with the US President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, handing out its first grants the following year. Its main aim is to tackle stigma and discrimination in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

"We will put [Anschutz's] donation to work to ensure that vulnerable groups are not left behind in the fight against HIV/AIDS", John continues. "This funding will help our programmes provide life-saving work for LGBT communities around the world, starting with the LGBT Fund in Sub-Saharan Africa".

Anschutz himself added: "We are all proud to support the essential work of Sir Elton's Foundation in the LBGT community. Sir Elton's artistry is unparalleled, he is a leader and a statesman in the artistic community and on the world stage, and his advocacy for the LGBT community and those living with from AIDS and HIV has had a profound influence on all of us at AEG, and countless more around the globe. We are honoured to play a small part in Sir Elton's important humanitarian work and to deepen our long, meaningful collaborative relationship with him and his team".

In recent years, Anschutz has been in the news a number of times over donations made by his Anschutz Foundation to political and other groups that have overtly anti-LGBT policies. Controversy around his donations to right-leaning and conservative organisations has existed since long before he launched his entertainment business in 1999.

However, since last year, such reports have often been linked to AEG's ownership of Coachella - the groups he donates to seen as being at odds with the ethos of the American music festival. As well as financing groups opposed to LGBT rights and equal marriage, the foundation has also given money to climate change sceptics and groups against legalised marijuana.

Last year, following a round of criticism as the line-up for the 2017 Coachella festival was announced, Anschutz said in a statement: "Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news - it is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation".

He added that he had never knowingly supported an anti-LGBT organisation, and that his foundation had pulled support if it became apparent that any recipient of funding did have such views.

In January this year, Pitchfork published an article examining the Anschutz Foundation's 2016 tax return, which did show that funding to groups that had been specifically named in the controversy had been withdrawn. Although it highlighted several other organisations that actively campaign against homosexuality.

In a statement, Anschutz's lawyer reiterated that "The Anschutz Foundation would not knowingly fund any organisation that would support anti-LGBTQ initiatives", and said that it had further dropped funding for organisations whose "activities were inconsistent with our values" over the last year.

The legal rep then noted that weeding out these organisations is an "ongoing process" and that among the 800 or so requests for funding the foundation receives each year, sometimes these activities are missed initially, but funded groups may be investigated further if concerns are raised.

"If we find problematic activities", the lawyer said, "we first look to work with those organisations to effectuate positive change if we perceive they are open to hearing and responding to our feedback. Ultimately, if these efforts prove unsatisfactory, we will withdraw further support from those groups".


Judge refuses to dismiss latest Monster v Beats legal battle
A judge in California has refused to dismiss the latest legal dispute between Beats Electronics and its former business partner Monster LLC. The judge said that the complicated contractual dispute would require proper scrutiny in court.

Talk of Beats and Monster facing off in court will likely create some déjà vu. The now Apple-owned Beats collaborated with Monster when it was first developing its 'stick-a-by-Dre-label-on-the-side-and-hike-up-the-price' headphones business. But the partnership ended in something of a messy divorce in 2012, two years before Apple bought the Beats company in a $3 billion deal in 2014.

Legal action followed the Apple acquisition. Monster and its founder Noel Lee sued Beats over allegations it had misled its former partner about its future plans, leading to Lee selling his stake in the Beats company in 2013 for considerably less money than he would have got had he waited for the big Apple deal a year later. Beats ultimately won that legal battle, and also a subsequent court scuffle over whether or not Monster should pay Beats' legal fees.

The case in court this week is a new lawsuit that was filed last September. This relates to the two companies' 2012 divorce and each side's contractual obligations to the other when they stopped working together. Beats reckons that Monster still owes it $95 million relating to the two firms' old distribution agreement. Monster counters that it is owed $100 million from Beats, partly due to the companies' termination agreement, and partly because of allegations Beats violated the aforementioned distribution agreement.

Part of the dispute centres on an audit undertaken as the two companies stopped working together by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers. It's that audit that concluded Monster owes Beats $95 million. But Monster claims that, while earlier agreements did confirm PWC as the auditor, Beats put pressure on the accountants to rework their calculations so that the outcome favoured them instead of their former business partner.

According to Law360, a legal rep for Beats, seeking to have the case dismissed this week, argued that Monster's claim in relation to the termination agreement couldn't be pursued because of the statute of limitations. They added that its claims over the distribution agreement and PWC's audit were basically just sour grapes, because Monster didn't like the outcome of said audit and is trying to use the courts to force the accountants to do the work anew.

However, Monster's attorney countered that PWC's preliminary audit had found that Monster was owed over $2 million, but that Beats then pressured the auditors to change its legal position, resulting in new maths and the conclusion Beats was owned $95 million.

The complexities of the dispute and the contracts behind it, the judge concluded, meant that he couldn't dismiss the case at this stage. He also knocked back efforts by Beats to have some of Monster's claims declared irrelevant to the case.

All of which means this latest Monster v Beats adventure will continue, with court time now scheduled in for November. Though both sides may pursue mediation in the meantime, which might mean a deal will be reached before that court date comes round.


Doug Morris talking to Warner about distributing his new label
Record industry veteran Doug Morris has run both Universal Music and Sony Music during his long career, so obviously - as he gets ready to launch his own independent music company - he's in talks for a distribution deal with... Warner Music!

Actually, Morris spent time running Warner Music divisions earlier in his career before going on to take the top job at the Universal and then Sony record company, so he's sort of coming full circle.

Gossipers have told Billboard about the distribution deal talks between Warner Music and Morris's new venture, which is called 12 Tone Music. Said gossipers say no deal has as yet been finalised. Maybe Warner is swotting up on the twelve-tone technique first.

It emerged last month that Morris - who stood down from his executive role at Sony Music last year - was planning on launching a new company after spending a year in an advisory Chair role at his former employer.


Approved: Liza Anne
Elizabeth Anne Odachowski - or simply Liza Anne - has just released her new album, 'Fine But Dying', on Arts & Crafts, which follows two self-released records.

Developing the theme of her earlier releases, 'Fine But Dying' sees Odachowski tackle her foibles head on, with a particular focus on depression and anxiety. But this isn't a collection of songs that wallows. Writing these things down comes across as cathartic for Odachowski, and her words present different sides of herself that are easy to relate to - the tone for this set immediately by opening track 'Paranoia'.

"Growing up, people would always say I was too happy to be depressed, or too social to have anxiety", she says. "In their eyes, because I was one thing, I couldn't also be something else. I think we all exist in duality, though. I can be everything and nothing all at once".

She adds: "This is my 'woman at her wildest self' album. It's a place for me to express all of the things about womanhood and the human condition that I was experiencing without fear of feeling like I'm 'too much' or 'not enough'. People used to talk about my music in such sweet terms, but they weren't sweet things that I was going through. With this record, I'm not sugar-coating anything any more".

Watch the newly released video for latest single, 'Small Talks', here.

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

South Korean pop stars to perform in North Korea for first time since 2005
South Korean pop stars are to perform in North Korea for the first time in more than a decade, it has been announced. A selection of artists will embark on the visit later this month, after North Korea sent performers to the recent Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.

In a statement, the South Korean government said that a delegation of around 160 people will travel to the North. Among them will be girl group Red Velvet and veteran singers Sun-Hee Lee and Yong-Pil Cho - the latter being the last South Korean artist to perform in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang back in 2005.

Talks were held between the two countries yesterday, with a delegation from the South led by musician and producer Yoon-Sang Lee. According to Reuters, he said at a press conference: "While we're on the stage, I believe it will be difficult to portray personal feelings towards denuclearisation. Our first task will be to instil the same awe in North Korean audiences as we do our South Korean ones and make sure nothing is awkward".

South Korean officials are due to visit Pyongyang later this week to inspect venues for the visit and ensure that they can accommodate the performers


Frank Ocean questions how 'hacked' unofficial Facebook page became verified
The folks over at Facebook seem to have enough controversy to be getting on with for the time being. Still, reps for Frank Ocean are now asking how an unofficial page related to the singer came to be verified as official.

It was initially reported yesterday that the verified page had been hacked, after a link to a leaks site was posted on it, promising "plenty of new Frank Ocean leaks coming soon". The long dormant page was initially said to be official, until Ocean's mother Katonya Breaux chipped in on Twitter: "Ummm. But he doesn't have an official Facebook page. Or any Facebook page. Hack on".

Reps for the singer have confirmed that the now deleted page was not official and that they are investigating how it came to receive a verified mark from Facebook.

The last post on the page before yesterday had been from August 2013, and read "Prince got me wanting to reactivate". This seems to have been cut and pasted from Ocean's Tumblr blog - that being the only social media he actually uses.

Ocean's actual most recent post about new music came in January, on Tumblr, but - unlike the fake Facebook post - suggested that it was not coming any time soon. In that, he wrote: "Well I made the album before 30. I just ain't put that bitch out!" Ocean turned 30 in October.


Wu-Tang's U-God accuses RZA of failing the group
Wu-Tang Clan rapper U-God has published a new memoir in which he accuses the outfit's producer RZA and his brother Divine - who is CEO of Wu-Tang Productions - of operating the group like a dictatorship. This, he says, has been to the wider collective's detriment over the last 20 years.

In an excerpt from the book, published by Rolling Stone, U-God writes that initially the group was "an unstoppable unit ... one for all and all for one ... at least, that's what we told ourselves". However, as the group's income began to dip, "members who were used to living crazy lifestyles started complaining about everyone's fees being equal".

"Right now, it just looks like the Wu brothers are not on the same page, going at each other's throats, missing shows, and all that", he goes on. "But, to me, it's really years of BS catching up to RZA".

He goes on to say that as RZA gradually took full creative control of Wu-Tang, his brother Divine failed to build a sustainable business for the group as a whole. In no small part, he blames this on a failure to sign the outfit with a large talent agency for their live work.

"In 25 years of being in the business, RZA has never placed the group at an A-list agency", he says. "Instead, Divine has always placed us with these B- or C-list guys ... I mean here we are, the Rolling Stones of hip hop, and we ain't even got proper representation. Meanwhile, RZA's always had A-list agents repping him personally. What the fuck is that all about?"

Read the full excerpt here. Or you can buy the whole book from Amazon here.


Franz Ferdinand, Animal Collective, Blawan, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• After ten years of putting out music, Blawan has finally got around to making his debut album. 'Wet Will Always Dry' will be out through his own Turnesc label on 18 Jun. From it, this is 'North'.

• Preoccupations have released a new track, 'Disarray', taken from their 'New Material' album, which is out this Friday.

• Hinds have released the video for new single, 'The Club'.

• Barbarossa has released new single, 'Broken Beauty'. His new album, 'Lier', is out next week.

• Oklou has released the video for 'They Can't Hear Me', from her new EP, 'The Rite Of May'.

• LCMDF are back with new single, 'Another Sucker'.

• Snapped Ankles have released a new cover of The Fugs' 'CIA Man'. The track is taken from a new covers EP, 'Violations', out on 4 May (with vinyl available early on Record Store Day).

• Franz Ferdinand have added two shows at the Roundhouse in London to their autumn UK tour. They' play the venue on 26 and 27 Sep.

• Animal Collective are getting in on the 'play the songs people actually like' business. They'll perform their 'Tung Songs' album in full at London's Troxy on 12 Jun.

• Marmozets have announced that they will headline The Forum in London on 19 Oct. Here's the video for 'Major System Error', just because fucking hell that song's incredible.

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


Ed Sheeran's neighbours angry over plans to build a church in his garden
Ed Sheeran has sparked anger among his neighbours over plans to build a Saxon-style chapel in the grounds of his Suffolk home.

Neighbours are concerned about the impact the building's nearly fifteen metre high tower will have on views of the surrounding landscape, and also the effect the building work might have on protected newts that nest in nearby ponds. Others have questioned what need there is for a private "non-denominational" church in the village.

Sheeran has made various planning applications for building work on the property since purchasing it in 2015. Many of these have drawn objections, often over the effect on local wildlife.

Commenting on the church, one neighbour said in a submission opposing the latest application: "It would appear that the applicant in his desire to satisfy the needs of the spiritual world continues to overlook his obligations to the living world, particularly that of protected species".

Various new buildings have already been erected on the site by Sheeran, but a church is certainly the most unusual. It has been speculated that the musician and his fiancée Cherry Seaborn are hoping to marry in the venue.

It would certainly help to keep out the paparazzi, although afterwards they would be stuck with a big church in their garden. The application says that it would be used for "spiritual regeneration of both traditional and less traditional types".

Landscape architects The Landscape Trust have advised that a full ecological survey be carried out before any work is approved. The council is expected to make a decision on the application next month.


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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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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