TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US record industry enjoyed another year of double-digit growth in 2017, new figures from the Recording Industry Association Of America confirmed yesterday. Though the boom could be booming so much more if it wasn't for the boom-hindering value gap. Boo to the boom-hindering value gap and its boo-inducing boom-bashing of the otherwise booming boom, say I. Well, says the R-I-AA. [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 US record industry revenues up to $8.72 billion thanks to all your (mainly premium) streams
LEGAL Australian movie boss wants web-blocking extended to Google
DEALS LA Reid's new company Hitco signs Outkast's Big Boi
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Three Japanese music trade bodies form internationally focussed coalition
LIVE BUSINESS Ultra Music Festival acquires the Winter Music Conference
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES YouTube confirms that it only plans to "frustrate" some people with adverts
PledgeMusic allies with NME Emerging
ARTIST NEWS D'arcy Wretzky's Smashing Pumpkins bridges burned "forever", says Billy Corgan
ONE LINERS Steve Angello, Shawn Mendes, Snow Patrol, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #397: Dua Lipa v Richard Wilkins
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US record industry revenues up to $8.72 billion thanks to all your (mainly premium) streams
The US record industry enjoyed another year of double-digit growth in 2017, new figures from the Recording Industry Association Of America confirmed yesterday. Though the boom could be booming so much more if it wasn't for the boom-hindering value gap. Boo to the boom-hindering value gap and its boo-inducing boom-bashing of the otherwise booming boom, say I. Well, says the R-I-AA. Sort of.

All this continued growth is all the result of streaming, of course. Not only is the US now well and truly a digital market, it is well and truly a streaming market. Overall consumer spending on recorded music in 2017 was up 16.5% to $8.72 billion. The streaming market, meanwhile, was up 43% and accounted for $5.66 billion of that overall consumer spending, which is nearly two-thirds of American record industry revenues.

Of the streaming monies, $4.1 billion came from premium on-demand streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, with the balance coming from free on-demand streaming platforms and personalised radio set-ups like Pandora and iHeartRadio.

YouTube monies are all included in the free streaming income bracket. And, of course - despite Lyor Cohen's best efforts and the new deal with Universal - the wider record industry remains critical of safe harbour dwelling platforms like the Google video site, which pay much lower royalties across the board than the paid-for streaming services.

The music community wants the copyright safe harbour exploited by YouTube reformed, hence the customary "the boom's cool, but a more booming boom would be cooler" aside from RIAA boss Cary Sherman alongside yesterday's stat brags.

"Growth is of course welcome, for many reasons, but especially because it will result in more investment in artists and music", he wrote on Medium. "However, we continue to operate in a distorted marketplace, replete with indefensible gaps in core rights, inhibiting investment in music and depriving recording artists and songwriters of the royalties they deserve".

Although for the US record industry there are other copyright issues, like AM/FM radio continuing to pay no royalties at all to artists and labels, the 'value gap' campaign for safe harbour reform being pursued globally is also a priority for the RIAA.

Sherman continued: "The playing field remains unfairly tilted at the expense of creators and digital music services, resulting in a 'value gap', the gulf between the amount of music being consumed and the compensation that platforms return to music creators for exploiting the music. The economic consequences are real and increasingly documented by leading academics".

So to conclude: "woo" for the boom, "phew" for the continued growth, but "boo" for the boom not being a more booming boom. Oh yeah, and fuck YouTube. Obviously.


Australian movie boss wants web-blocking extended to Google
Rights owners in Australia are calling for web-blocking rules there to be boosted so that search engines are obliged to de-list any sites blocked on copyright grounds.

Web-blocking, of course, has become an anti-piracy tactic of choice for the entertainment industry in any country where such blockades are available. Rights owners go to court to seek injunctions forcing internet service providers to block their customers from accessing copyright infringing sites.

The main weakness with web-blocking, though, is that it is relatively easy to circumvent the blockades with a simple Google search. Once a site has been officially blocked people set up proxies that help users get round the blocks, and search engines make it relatively easy for people to find those services.

Additional injunctions can be secured against each proxy, but that quickly becomes a game of whack-a-mole as new proxies are set up to replace the blocked ones. To that end there has much discussion in countries where web-blocking is an option about search engines playing a more proactive role in helping enforce the blockades.

Australia's web-blocking regime is up for review, and submissions from movie company Village Roadshow and TV broadcaster Foxtel both hone in on the role Google could and should play in helping stop consumers from accessing illegal sources of content. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given he recently accused Google of "facilitating crime", the submission from Village Roadshow boss Graham Burke is particularly forthright.

In his letter, published in full by Gizmodo, Burke confirms that his company both supports and has utilised Australia's current web-blocking system before adding that he now "strongly supports strengthening it".

He states: "With all major pirate sites blocked in Australia, the front door of the department store is shut. However, pirates, facilitated by Google and other search engines, are circumventing Australian laws and courts and opening a huge back door ... Australia needs the power to require Google and other search engines to take reasonable steps to stop facilitating searches which lead to pirate sites".

Expanding on his department store metaphor, he goes on: "The analogy for Google is a Westfield Shopping Centre knowing they are getting big traffic to the centre from a store that is using stolen goods to lure people and then robbing them!"

In terms of the specific review of web-blocking rules, Burke calls for Australia's web-blocking provision to be widened so that injunctions can be secured against search engines, social media and "other types of internet intermediaries".

Adopting the kind of dramatic pose you might expect from a movie mogul, Burke then goes on: "With a population of only 25 million, if piracy is not more strongly addressed there will be no Australian film industry, with the loss of jobs, taxation and the very real and bleak prospects of being a remote Los Angeles or Beijing suburb".

Piling on the drama, he later says: "Easy access facilitated by Google means kids are crossing to the dark side and getting lured into bad habits and taken to criminal neighbourhoods that proliferate with prostitution, pornography, drug selling and illegal gambling".

As for how Australian lawmakers can help, he concludes: "With the minor modification we recommend to the law, we can improve the effectiveness of site blocking and continue to make progress on dealing with the scourge of piracy which continues to threaten the livelihood of thousands of Australians engaged in creative endeavours seeking to continue to tell great Australian stories through the medium of film".


LA Reid's new company Hitco signs Outkast's Big Boi
LA Reid's new company Hitco Entertainment has made its first signing, Outkast's Big Boi. Reid left his role as CEO of Sony's Epic Records in the US last May, following allegations of "unlawful harassment".

The veteran label exec has been known to be working on his new independent company for some months. It's effectively a re-launch of a company Reid first set up in 1996 - Hitco Publishing Group - and will act as a label and publisher. This time around he's gone into business with Charles Goldstuck, co-founder of J Records, as well as a former exec at BMG, Sony Music and others.

According to Variety, Reid and Goldstuck have raised over $100 million to launch the company, and will have offices in New York, LA and Atlanta. Big Boi's signing continues a long association between Outkast and Reid, who signed the hip hop duo to his Arista label in 1992 while they were still in high school.

The copyright for Big Boi's latest album, 'Boomiverse', is already listed as being owned by Hitco on digital services, having originally been released by Epic last year. Distribution is reportedly being handled by Empire, which also reps Top Dawg Entertainment, among others.


Three Japanese music trade bodies form internationally focussed coalition
Three Japanese independent music trade bodies have formed a new globally-focused coalition. The Independent Music Coalition Of Japan aims to support independent musicians in the country in order to boost sales of their music internationally.

Formed by the Independent Records And Musicians Association, Independent Label Council Japan and Japan Net Creators Association, the new organisation will be overseen by Takashi Kamide, himself an independent musician.

Kamide tells Billboard: "Despite being the second largest recorded music market in the world, during my decades-long career in the music business I have heard two simple messages from the foreign music community: 'Japanese music market is too difficult to understand' and 'there is too little voice from Japan'. It is my initial intention to communicate the collective voices from Japan to the global community and vice versa".

IMCJ launches as a member of both global digital rights body Merlin and the World Independent Network. The latter's CEO Alison Wenham says: "In a rapidly globalising market, we are truly excited by the opportunity to work closely with IMCJ, to support their work in developing the Pan-Asian region, to help in the creation of new trade associations, and to advance knowledge and understanding of the markets for all independent companies in the world".

The Japanese music industry has traditionally been very inward looking - partly because success at home meant that there was no pressing need, at least for larger acts, to go global. But in recent years, as the previously strong Japanese CD market has begun to collapse and digital services have seen growth, artists and labels have increasingly looked to other countries to boost revenues.

While acting as one on international activities, ILCJ, IRMA, JNCA will each continue to operate independently of each other domestically.


Ultra Music Festival acquires the Winter Music Conference
The Ultra Music Festival has acquired the dance music focused Winter Music Conference, the two events having sat side-by-side in Miami for nearly two decades now, in more recent years as key components of Miami Music Week. The announcement was made on the second day of this year's WMC, which until very recently was not expected to go ahead at all.

Speaking at a press conference, UMF's Albert Berdellans said: "Winter Music Conference will represent a place for the music industry to develop professionally. [It] will allow veterans and newcomers alike to develop themselves and their organisations to become competitive players in the industry".

He added that the deal is "a significant victory for Miami in general as well", saying that they are "very excited to contribute to the vision of Miami as a hub of entertainment, culture and business". WMC co-founder Bill Kelly will stay on to oversee the running of the conference.

Launched in 1985, WMC aimed to attract dance music's big players down to Miami's warmer weather during the winter months. Then in 1999 the Ultra festival launched, initially as a one-day event, the day after WMC, aiming to capitalise on all the DJing talent already in town. The two events then happily co-existed side-by-side for a decade, Ultra growing to become a major three day event.

However, in 2010 there was a falling out, when WMC shifted its dates and Ultra did not follow suit. In part, it seemed that there was anger that Ultra was forcing DJs to sign exclusivity contracts, which prohibited them from performing at the numerous club nights linked to WMC.

Earlier this year, people began questioning why no WMC had been announced for 2018. As recently as the beginning of this month, journalists were pronouncing it dead. But then, with less than ten days to go, it was announced that the normally week long event would occupy the three days preceding this year's Ultra - which starts today.

Commenting on the decision to sell up, Kelly said: "A couple years ago, we revisited the idea of coming together [with Ultra]. At that point the Amsterdam Dance Event and International Music Summit in Ibiza had formed over the course of the last five years or so ... Over the years, the significance of WMC slightly diminished because of those. So to bring [attention] back to Miami, this acquisition was necessary".

At the same time, Ultra - which has launched all sorts of sister editions around the world over the last decade - also announced a new festival in China, Ultra Beijing, which will take place in June.


YouTube confirms that it only plans to "frustrate" some people with adverts
Responding to various reports this week about its future plans, YouTube has said that it will not be increasing the number of adverts most people see on the platform.

The ad-increase chatter originated in an interview with YouTube's Global Head Of Music Lyor Cohen at SXSW. He said that users of the video platform who play large amounts of music would be served more adverts. This would be an attempt to "frustrate and seduce" them into signing up for the new paid subscription music service YouTube is plotting.

But the key thing there, YouTube now highights, is that this new policy will only apply to those using the platform as if it was a music service, not those who dip in to watch the odd Katy Perry video and then another of a cat falling off a hedge.

"Our top priority at YouTube is to deliver a great user experience and that includes ensuring users do not encounter excessive ad loads", says a YouTube spokesperson. "We do not seek to specifically increase ad loads across YouTube". However, "for a specific subset of users who use YouTube like a paid music service today - and would benefit most from additional features - we may show more ads or promotional prompts to upsell to our paid service".

So, for those using the platform mainly for free music, it does seem that YouTube is planning to follow the lead of other freemium-to-sell-premium music services, principally Spotify, in hoping that the annoying ads will persuade people to ultimately pay to stream. Which is to say, that users will eventually throw their arms up in exasperation and pay a monthly fee to avoid hearing what all these companies have to say.

There is a problem with this approach though, and especially being so upfront about it. True, premium streaming is way more lucrative than free streaming, so it makes sense to upsell the former wherever possible. However, there is sizable part of the market who will never pay to stream, and with that audience the aim is to simply persuade more brands to get on board. Cohen himself has said that the potential of ad income has yet to be fully realised, and in its recent SEC filing Spotify talked up further growing the ad sales side of its business.

Openly employing ads to try to annoy free subscribers to become paying subscribers makes for an interesting pitch to ad agencies. Adverts are annoying, it's true. And all companies who place adverts are evil and should be shut down. But it doesn't seem particularly helpful to go around saying that when your business relies, even in part, on that income. If you're a CMU advertiser, please disregard this last paragraph.


PledgeMusic allies with NME Emerging
PledgeMusic has this week been bigging up its new alliance with the now exclusively online NME, with the direct-to-fan and pre-order platform allying with NME Emerging, the service launched by the music magazine last year to support grassroots talent.

As a result of the tie-up, NME Emerging artists will be encouraged to build their own campaigns with Pledge, and promote themselves to its community, while artists already utilising PledgeMusic will be able to push their projects to the NME audience.

Says NME Digital Director Keith Walker: "Working with PledgeMusic is a natural fit for the NME. It benefits fans and artists by introducing a new way to bring them together on NME Emerging".

Meanwhile PledgeMusic's Malcolm Dunbar adds: "NME has a rich history of supporting unsigned and independent talent and the PledgeMusic model of rights-free funding is perfectly aligned with that. All of us at PledgeMusic very much look forward to working with the NME team on the project".


Vigsy's Club Tip: James Taylor Quartet at Ronnie Scott's
For a bit of a change, tonight the Club Tip heads down to Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho to enjoy the James Taylor Quartet.

For over 25 years The Quartet have cut a path that has carried the acid jazz movement onward and upward. Over three shows at Scotts', the first of which was last night. Yvonne Yanney is on vocal duty and Nick Smart on horns, which I reckon ensures a great show.

Support comes from the Rory Ingram Quartet. Ingram is a rising star - a trombonist making big waves, picking up a British Jazz award last year.

Friday 23 Mar & Saturday 24 Mar, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, 47 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4HT, £25-£50. More info here.

D'arcy Wretzky's Smashing Pumpkins bridges burned "forever", says Billy Corgan
Billy Corgan has said that D'arcy Wretzky's recent complaints about not being involved in the Smashing Pumpkins reunion highlight why he had to cut her out.

Ahead of the official announcement of the band's reunion tour last month, Wretzky discussed it and her lack of involvement with music websites BlastEcho and Alternative Nation. Although Corgan had contacted her about it, she said, his communication had become flaky and he'd gradually reduced any role she might have had to a simple guest spot on a few songs, and eventually to nothing at all.

Corgan subsequently said that now was "not the time" to discuss what had gone on, but apparently now it is. A bit.

In a new interview with the New York Times, he says: "I think what she did demonstrates why she couldn't be involved. I was vulnerable and shared things and trusted that there was a reason to give it a chance, despite plenty of empirical evidence that that was not a wise decision".

Fans hoping that things might yet change will be disappointed to know that Wretzky's bridge has now been burned "forever".

Elsewhere in the interview, Corgan notes that he's always presented himself as a villain, second in rock n roll to Lou Reed "who's the king". And this worked well for him and the band in the first stage of their career, he added. Regular "controversy" kept them in the public consciousness, while they toured the world multiple times and released a string of successful albums. "So how dysfunctional were we, really?" he asks.

"To my discredit, I didn't realise that that formula only works if you're winning commercially", he concedes. Once you're not? "Well, then you're just a jerk with a bad message".

Still, he says, you usually see him how he wants you to see him. "I would say 80% of the things that I get held up and mocked for, I'm doing intentionally. It's sort of funny to me that they actually think I'm that stupid. It's, like, yeah, I work in wrestling - I'm running you".

So maybe that whole thing about Wretzky and the burned bridges was a piece of clever manipulation. Or maybe they really do hate each other. Choose one.


Thirty Seconds To Mars, Steve Angello, Christine And The Queens, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

•  Thirty Seconds To Mars have announced that they will release new album, 'America', on 6 Apr. And here's new single, 'One Track Mind', featuring A$AP Rocky.

• Steve Angello will release his new album, 'Human', on 27 Apr. Here's new single 'Nothing Scares Me Anymore'.

• Shawn Mendes has released new single, 'In My Blood'.

• Snow Patrol have released new single, 'Don't Give In'.

• Gaz Coombes has released new single, 'Walk The Walk'. His new album, 'World's Strongest Man', is out on 4 May.

• Daniel Avery has released another new track from his upcoming 'Song For Alpha' album. Here's 'Projector'.

• Yizzy is back with new single 'BAP'. The track is taken from forthcoming EP 'SOS'. He'll support Ski Mask The Slump God at The Forum in London on 29 Mar.

• Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has released new track, 'Abstractions'. It's the first release on her new Touchtheplants label.

• Sabiyha has released new track, 'Wolf'.

• Christine And The Queens will play the Hammersmith Apollo on 20 Nov.

• Dream Wife have announced that they will headline Koko in London on 31 Oct. Tickets on sale now.

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


Beef Of The Week #397: Dua Lipa v Richard Wilkins
Dua Lipa was back on stage on Tuesday night supporting Bruno Mars in Sydney. Less than a week earlier, she'd been bed-bound, forced to cancel several performances because she had required emergency surgery to have her wisdom teeth removed.

Or had she? On Monday night she was on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' roaring through her hits 'IDGAF' and 'New Rules' with no sign of any mouth issues whatsoever. And that's a bit suspicious, isn't it?

Australian TV journalist Richard Wilkins certainly thought so. "Well get this", he mugged on Channel 9 News, where he is Entertainment Editor. "She was supposed to be in Australia opening up for Bruno Mars at his 24 Karat world tour, and had to cancel due to having her wisdom teeth out. But here she is on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'"

"We were told that was live to air", he added, seemingly suggesting that Lipa had posted x-rays of her teeth and videos of her swollen face online simply in order to throw people off the scent. In fact, rather than being in pain, she'd cancelled her Aussie performances because she wanted to get on a flight to perform for that Kimmel chap.

I suppose she could have had the teeth out and recovered in time for the Kimmel stint. Apparently it takes between three and seven days to recover from wisdom tooth surgery. I had to look that up, because I was sufficiently sensible to grow a mouth large enough to fit my wisdom teeth in it and therefore have no personal first hand knowledge of the extraction process. Take note, kids. It's not too late for you.

So, yeah, she could have had the teeth out on Wednesday, recovered Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at some point during this time flown to the US, recorded a performance as part of the 'Jimmy Kimmel Live Concert Series' on Monday, and then flown back to Sydney to be on stage on Tuesday.

I would think that anyone who's ever undergone surgery and/or travelled on a longhaul flight would agree that this sounds entirely reasonable. And she did tweet on Monday that she'd woken up to find the swelling gone and that she had now finished her antibiotics, so there's that.

But from Wilkins tone, I don't think he was suggesting that this had been the sequence of events. But me? I wouldn't like to assume anything. Actually, Dua Lipa's already filled in the gaps in this story, so no assumptions are required.

Not pleased with Wilkins' coverage of her televised performance, she tweeted a picture of her swollen face to him, saying: "If you were a good journalist you would've done proper research instead of talking out of your ass. Jimmy Kimmel was shot in Feb in LA and aired yesterday. I've been in Australia on bed rest and wouldn't've cancelled my Bruno shows if I didn't have to".

So, that's him put in his place. Though he did say he'd "been told" that her Kimmel performance was live to air. Maybe it wasn't all his fault. That sounds like he did do at least a little bit of research.

Even if he didn't call Kimmel's production team, he might have just read one of the numerous articles written by reputable media outlets which said that the show had been live. Billboard went so far as to explain that she'd flown to the US for the performance, and would afterwards be returning to Australia to rejoin the Mars tour on 26 Mar.

But it may also be that he'd plucked this information right out of thin air. As I say, I don't assume things. Not like that Richard Wilkins. Because, in responding to Lipa, he went from saying he'd "been told" the Kimmel set was live to stating he'd "assumed" it to be so.

"Sincere apologies, Dua Lipa", he tweeted. "Didn't mean to misinform. Assumed you were live with Jimmy K. Your fans and my son have severely castigated me!"

His son, Christian Wilkins, then confirmed this to be the case: "Left him unsupervised for five mins and he gone done try come for Dua" he tweeted.

True, that tweet appears to be a mostly random collection of words, but it's possible it would mean something to young people. Possibly that Wilkins Junior had indeed castigated Wilkins Senior. But as you know, I don't like to assume anything.

And I am so very, very old now that basically anything anyone under the age of 30 says seems like nonsense to me. Given my dislike for assuming, you might suggest that I run that tweet by a young person to double check its meaning (or lack thereof). But, alongside my "never assume" rule, I have always lived by the mantra that "some things just aren't worth researching properly".

What sort of things, Andy? Well, how about whether or not Dua Lipa's TV performances are pre-recorded or not? Because if people started going around doing research all the time, clarifying that kind of thing, we'd all miss out on the TV GOLD that followed Wilkins' gaff.

Apologising on his next news bulletin, he explained: "When we saw her on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live', we assumed she'd headed to the States. However, as she pointed out yesterday, she's been on bed rest here in Australia and the Jimmy Kimmel performance was, in fact, recorded last month".

"Now, she told me I was talking out of my backside, this one right here", he continued, before standing to show that he'd taped a piece of card with "SORRY" written on it to his bum. "So sorry Dua, we love having you here, we love your music".

See? TV GOLD? I'm pretty sure my written description will have got that fully across to you all. Though I wouldn't want to assume. But I can assure you that his three co-hosts were all weeping with laughter at seeing the word "sorry" written on someone's arse. They were under no allusions about how funny it was. It was very funny indeed. Assume of that what you will, but don't go doing any research.


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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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.
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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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