TODAY'S TOP STORY: An all-new Music Modernization Act was unveiled in US Congress yesterday, which is something of a greatest hits featuring most - though not all - of the music-related legislative proposals that have been circulating around Washington of late. Including, in case you wondered, the Music Modernization Act. Together this legislative mash up constitutes "the most significant update to music copyright law in a generation". Says someone... [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 All-new Music Modernization Act glues together American music proposals
LEGAL Music publishers win Wolfgang's Vault copyright action
DEALS Ringo Starr signs publishing deal with BMG
LABELS & PUBLISHERS UK record industry saw 10.6% growth last year, woo!
MEDIA Radio 1 introduces three day weekend
EDUCATION & EVENTS Chvrches sponsor Girls Rock Glasgow summer school
RELEASES Gang Gang Dance return after seven year hiatus
Tindersticks' Stuart A Staples announces new solo album
ONE LINERS Songwriter Fonts, Janelle Monáe, Suerorganism, more
AND FINALLY... Zooey Deschanel thought Prince's offer to cameo in New Girl was a "prank"
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Friday 18 May | Dukes at Komedia, Brighton
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All-new Music Modernization Act glues together American music proposals
An all-new Music Modernization Act was unveiled in US Congress yesterday, which is something of a greatest hits featuring most - though not all - of the music-related legislative proposals that have been circulating around Washington of late. Including, in case you wondered, the Music Modernization Act. Together this legislative mash up constitutes "the most significant update to music copyright law in a generation". Says someone.

The original Music Modernization Act sought to fix the way streaming services license song rights Stateside, the current system being - to use the legal jargon - "fucked up".

Streaming services need to exploit both the performing right and the mechanical right elements of songs. In most countries there is a collecting society or collecting societies that can provide said services blanket licences covering both elements.

This means that where a service doesn't have a direct deal in place with a music publisher, it can usually still legally stream a song under its collecting society licence or licences. It's then the job of the society or societies to work out who the hell needs paying when any one song is streamed and to then pass the royalties on to that person or company.

Those blanket licences are hugely valuable to streaming services, because they don't know who controls the rights in any one song, many of which have multiple owners. They often don't even know what song is contained in any recording beyond what the track title tells them. With no central publically accessible music rights database to hand, blanket licences enable streaming services to pass on the problem of working out who to pay to a society.

However, in the US, while blanket licences can be secured for performing rights via the collective licensing system, no such licence exists for mechanical rights. US copyright law obliges rights owners to provide a mechanical rights licence at a set rate, but the service still needs to work out who to pay that set rate to. Most services have been struggling with that task, leaving songwriters unpaid, and digital services sued over those missed payments.

The MMA will introduce both a collecting society and a blanket licence for mechanical rights in the US for the first time. Which will be great for the streaming services. As a quid pro quo for music publishers and songwriters, the way rates are set whenever song rights are licensed via a compulsory or collecting society licence will be reformed to better reflect market realities. Which should mean better rates for the music industry.

The all-new MMA still includes all that gubbins. But it also incorporates elements of three other bits of music legislation that have been presented in Congress of late. That includes the CLASSICS Act, which seeks to ensure recordings released before 1972 are paid royalties by online and satellite radio services. For technical reasons, at the moment there's an argument that that royalty obligation in the US only applies to recordings released since 1972.

The other elements of the new MMA include provisions to benefit record producers and sound engineers, originally contained in the AMP Act, and a few lines applying the tweaks to how compulsory licence royalty rates are set to sound recordings as well as songs, something originally contained in the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.

Earlier this year various music industry groups gathered to speak out in support of the plethora of music copyright proposals on the table in Washington, including those not directly relevant to their specific members. The hope is that by combining all those proposals into one big act the process of making them law can be simplified, improving the chances of the new legislation being passed in the not too distant future.

Although there is a lot of support across the wider music industry for the MMA - and most digital services are also backing it all, them being eager to get that blanket licence for mechanicals - there remain critics of the proposals. Some songwriter groups remain concerned about the governance of the new mechanical rights collecting society. And some music users reckon the MMA will simply result in an increased royalty bill.

It's interesting that the core element of the aforementioned Fair Play Fair Pay Act - forcing AM/FM radio stations in the US to pay royalties to artists and labels, like radio stations do in much of the rest of the world - is not part of the all-new MMA.

The radio business has lots of friends in Washington, and the decision to not include those provisions in this big music copyright overhaul suggests the music industry's lobbyists feared that including AM/FM radio royalties in the proposals would just scupper the entire bill as it went through Congress.

Safe harbour reform, which has also been a big talking point in the music community in the US, as elsewhere, also isn't part of the overhaul, very possibly for the same reason.

The new MMA was introduced in the House Of Representatives yesterday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, among others.

"Our nation's copyright laws, and the exclusive rights they grant to artists and creators, have made the US the world leader in creativity", he said. "However, there is little doubt that our copyright system faces new challenges today. One of the top priorities of my chairmanship has been to conduct a wide review of our nation's copyright laws to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age".

He went on: "I am pleased that after extensive discussions between members and interested stakeholders we have produced a legislative package that will make important and long overdue updates to our copyright laws to ensure American music creators are properly recognised and rewarded for their works. The Music Modernization Act, which is the first major update to our music licensing laws in decades, is vital to promoting American creativity and innovation in the digital age".

A plethora of organisations within the music and streaming sectors have already issued statements in support of the all-new MMA. We've selected you a top five. Hey, I wonder who it was who dubbed these reworked proposals "the most significant update to music copyright law in a generation". Let's find out shall we?

Straight in at number five is the latest quote from ASCAP chief Elizabeth Matthews who reckons that "today's reintroduction of the Music Modernization Act signals we are one step closer to reforming our outdated music licensing system and providing songwriters a better future. We thank [Goodlatte et al] for their leadership and keeping America's songwriters a priority".

Meanwhile sitting at number four is the Association Of Independent Music Publishers, which had its execs Michael Eames, John Ozier and Alisa Coleman deliver a statement as one in perfect unison: "For too long, songwriters and publishers have been forced to deal with an outdated music licensing system that doesn't work in today's online world. Now for the first time, the music and technology industry, as well as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, have come together to address these issues and give rightsholders more control over the licensing and collection of their works. We strongly urge Congress to pass this measure".

Who's this at number three in the quotage charts? It's only the Content Creators Coalition: "The Music Modernization Act is the most important legislation for musicians and songwriters in 20 years. It is nothing short of a major victory for artists - for performers, songwriters, and music creators of all stripes. While we have proposed ways that the legislation can be improved, and it doesn't include some necessary pro-artist reforms - those that would empower artists to fight back against platform monopoly abuses by updating the DMCA or level the playing field with an AM/FM performance right - neither our enthusiasm in support of this legislation nor our fight for those reforms will diminish".

Just missing a place at the top spot in our quotes chart is the all-important streaming sector, which had its trade group the Digital Media Association say: "We support the Music Modernization Act because it brings greater transparency and creates a blanket license, which is critical to a modern licensing system. Streaming services have literally saved the music industry, delivering better experiences at a better value, and growing revenue for creators. We are glad to see Congress is looking to the streaming future, and moving away from the music mess of the past".

Which is all well and good, but not good enough to win a place at the top of the quotage list. That accolade goes to David Israelite, boss of the National Music Publishers Association. And not just because he called the MMA "the most significant update to music copyright law in a generation". Though he did do that.

"The Music Modernization Act is the most significant update to music copyright law in a generation", says he, "and represents unprecedented compromise among songwriter, music publisher, artist, record label, and digital music groups. The Music Modernization Act will help ensure a healthy digital music ecosystem, most importantly for the songwriters who create the music that makes such an ecosystem even possible. It was not easy to achieve a consensus package, but we are grateful for music champions [in Congress] who have worked to foster agreement and we are eager for them to move this bill forward".

Good times. We now look forward to quotes from all the MMA haters so we can publish the contrary top five.


Music publishers win Wolfgang's Vault copyright action
US music publishers have welcomed a ruling in their ongoing legal battle with Wolfgang's Vault in which the concert streaming service has been found liable for wilful copyright infringement.

Launched in 2003, Wolfgang's Vault began life as an archive of concert recordings previously owned by promoter Bill Graham, though it later expanded its content sources. As that happened, and the channels through which the firm disseminated and monetised the live recordings expanded too, the company became somewhat controversial in music circles.

Various legal challenges were made, with the National Music Publishers Association pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of various publishers, including all the majors, back in 2015. It accused the firm of not having the right licences in place to cover the songs contained within its concert videos.

The judge hearing the case ruled in favour of the publishers last month via a decision made public this week. The judgement considers various arguments but forward by the defence as to why Wolfgang's Vault was not, in fact, infringing anyone's copyrights. But the judge rejected all of those arguments, which means the digital music set-up is liable for infringing a plethora of song rights. Damages are still to be set.

NMPA boss David Israelite yesterday declared that the ruling "is a dramatic vindication for our members Sony/ATV & EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music, and Imagem Music, whose works have been wilfully infringed by Wolfgang's Vault for years. NMPA is pleased to fully support its members in bringing their case and we look forward to the next phase where damages will be determined".

He went on: "We wholeheartedly encourage fans being able to access the footage they want to watch, however the provider of that footage must obtain proper licenses and pay those who created and own it. We will continue to support this effort to ensure that copyright holders and songwriters' rights are upheld".


Ringo Starr signs publishing deal with BMG
Ringo Starr has signed a new worldwide publishing deal with that there BMG, covering his solo catalogue and the songs he wrote for The Beatles. Whoever they are.

"I love making music and the song writing process - and putting new music out there to play alongside the old", says Starr. "How great to be working with BMG who are excited to have my entire catalogue. When I was thirteen, I only wanted to be a drummer".

Well, that's good to know, isn't it? BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch adds: "Ringo Starr is a contemporary artist with an incredible history, and BMG is exceptionally proud that he has chosen us to represent his past and future songs".

Providing more substance than you'd expect from one of these deal brag quotes, BMG US President, Repertoire & Marketing Zach Katz then chips in: "From New York, Nashville and Los Angeles to our offices around the world, we are all in, globally committed, and eager to show [Starr] what a multimedia music company can do, across the board, when you have the right creative tools to put your music to work".

Which reminds me, I need to have my annual look at Ringo Starr's Microsoft Paint art.


UK record industry saw 10.6% growth last year, woo!
UK record industry trade group BPI has published its annual stats pack full of figures relating to recorded music revenues in 2017. And hey, who'd have thought it, but things were peachy - with revenues up, up, up thanks to that streaming boom. But, you know, YouTube, value gap, safe harbour, here's what you could have won.

"The changes labels have made to their business models and their investment in new talent have borne fruit with rapid revenue growth in 2017", states BPI boss Geoff Taylor. "We are likely to see a continuing rise in 2018, with increasing awareness among consumers about the benefits of music streaming, and new developments that are likely to encourage the uptake of subscriptions, such as the launch of YouTube's premium music service and the growing popularity of smart speakers in the home".

But there is always a 'but'. Just sitting there in the corner ready to pounce. But "while these are reasons for optimism", says Taylor, "music still has a long way to go to recover fully and achieve long-term sustainable growth. In particular, government action is needed to remedy the continuing 'value gap', so that all digital platforms pay fairly for their use of music".

British record company trade income rose by 10.6% last year to £839.4 million, which "represents the fastest rate of growth since the height of Britpop in 1995". Ah, 1995. Do you remember 1995? No? Don't worry. It was shit. Nothing good happened in 1995. At all. Apart from all that record industry growth I suppose.

We're here to talk about 2017 though. Stop talking about 1995. We're not interested in 1995. Nothing good happened in 1995. I mean streaming revenues grew by 41% in 2017, with subscription service income jumping by 45% to £346.9 million. And do you now how much streaming revenue growth there was in 1995? None. See. Not so good after all.

"With the transition period following Brexit now agreed, it is vital that British musicians can tour freely in the EU once we leave", added Taylor, citing another challenge faced by the growing British record industry. Ah, yeah, Brexit. I take it back, 1995 was much better than 2017. It was a magical moment of glory and hope. Let's all pretend it's 1995 again.


Radio 1 introduces three day weekend
BBC Radio 1 has announced a major overhaul of its schedule, expanding the weekend to three days. I think that means we all get Friday off too. I haven't confirmed this for sure, but I reckon it'll be fine to just not turn up to work when this all takes effect in June.

The changes mean that Nick Grimshaw, Clara Amfo and Greg James will only present four shows per week. Alice Levine and Dev will present an extra Weekend Breakfast Show on Friday mornings. After them, each Friday, Maya Jama will present new show 'Radio 1's Greatest Hits', Matt Edmondson and The Saturdays' Mollie King will fill the post-lunch lull, and Scott Mills will handle the Official Chart Show.

"The weekend will start here at Radio 1 on a Friday morning giving our young audience that feel good factor a day early", says Radio 1 Controller Ben Cooper. "It's our job at Radio 1 to re-invent the way young people listen to the radio, to disrupt traditional thinking and to look for new ways in which to grow audiences".

Since when do young people listen to Radio 1?


Chvrches sponsor Girls Rock Glasgow summer school
Chvrches have stepped in to sponsor this year's Girls Rock Glasgow, after funding for the summer school music programme for girls fell through.

Launched in 2015, the programme offers girls aged between eight and sixteen the opportunity to take up instruments and learn to make music together. It had been thought that the programme would not go ahead this year, after it failed to secure funding from Creative Scotland.

Announcing that they would support the project instead, Chvrches' Lauren Mayberry said on Facebook: "We are excited to be supporting Rock N Roll Summer School For Girls Glasgow, a really valuable community project that will be teaching local girls how to rock out at their camp this summer".

"Growing up, I didn't know many other girls playing in bands", she continued. "If I hadn't seen awesome and inspiring women in bands that I loved - Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Garbage, Sleater-Kinney - then it would never have occurred to me that maybe one day I could do that. I have hardly ever seen a female sound engineer in a venue, locally or internationally, and you hardly ever see women headlining festivals. Let's change that by helping Girls Rock Glasgow teach young women that they can be anything they want to be".

Organisers of the project added: "This is so kind and supportive and means we can offer more sponsored places than ever before, so that girls who may have missed out on music education can go for it".

This year's event will take place from 14-22 Jul. Find out more here.


Approved: Bryde
Following a series of EPs, alt-rock singer-songwriter Bryde is set to release her debut album, 'Like An Island', this Friday. A steadily increasing drip of singles since the end of last year forms a picture of the quality of songwriting that fills this record.

Tracks like 'Desire' and 'To Be Brave' show a dynamic range and an ability to use different levels of volume to their own limits of power. Latest single 'Peace' puts both to work, with a chorus that tears its way out of the relatively sedate verse.

"'Peace' is about the warm glow of two drinks and a real connection with another person", says Bryde. "It's about the end of anger and the settling calm after a storm. Being able to be entirely yourself and still be liked".

As the quote suggests, she has quite a way with words too. You can catch Bryde on tour from tonight at Monroe's in Galway, before she heads off around Ireland and the UK. She'll finish up at Omeara in London on 1 May. Listen to 'Peace' here.

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

Gang Gang Dance return after seven year hiatus
Gang Gang Dance have announced that they will return with a new album, 'Kazuashita', this summer.

Their first record since 2011, the record was produced by the band's Brian DeGraw and saw them work with drummer Ryan Sawyer, who has previously worked with acts including TV On The Radio, At The Drive-In, Cass McCombs, The Fiery Furnaces and more.

Along with the album announcement, the band also released the first single from it, 'Lotus', which you can listen to here.

Tour dates are expected to be revealed shortly. A launch show at Brooklyn's Elsewhere on the album's release date - 22 Jun - has already been confirmed.


Tindersticks' Stuart A Staples announces new solo album
Tindersticks frontman Stuart A Staples has announced his first solo album for thirteen years, 'Arrhythmia'.

Recorded over the course of last year, Staples says he felt "a growing need for each song to take a turn, to lead them into strange places, keeping the feeling or effect of the song, but only as a memory".

Recorded with musicians including Tindersticks members Dan Boulter and Neil Fraser, and prolific jazz drummer Seb Rochford, the album is set for release on 15 Jun. First single 'Memories Of Love' is out now, listen here.


Songwriter Fonts, Janelle Monáe, Suerorganism, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• You can now get a daily CMU news summary via our Messenger bot. Click here to get started.

• The handwriting of David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg and John Lennon have been turned into fonts that you can download and use on your next big report.

• Janelle Monáe has released another new track off what will almost certainly be the album of the year, 'Dirty Computer'. This one, called 'Pynk', has Grimes on it and is described as "a brash celebration of creation, self love, sexuality and pussy power".

• Superorganism have released the video for 'Night Time' from their recently released debut album. They're just announced October tour dates too. Super.

You know how it is, you're sitting there and then Kero Kero Bonito put out a new single.

• Ishan Sound is set to release a new twelve-inch featuring collaborations with Hodge and Muttley on 27 Apr. Here's the track with Hodge, 'C5'.

• Korn's Jonathan Davis has announced that he will play two headline solo UK shows before appearing at this year's Download festival on 8 Jun. Catch him at Manchester Club Academy on 6 Jun and London's Islington Academy on 7 Jun.

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


Zooey Deschanel thought Prince's offer to cameo in New Girl was a "prank"
Hey, you remember when Prince was in an episode of 'New Girl' five years ago and everyone was like, "Huh, that was weird". Turns out it was quite weird, as the show's star Zooey Deschanel has now confirmed.

Appearing on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' to promote the seventh and final season of the show, Deschanel said of working with Prince: "I was actually the first person to get an email about him wanting to be on the show. I got a cold email from his manager, and it was like the most on-brand Prince email - like too on-brand. It was like, 'Hello, I am manager to legendary artist Prince. He is loving the show 'New Girl'. He would like 2 B' - you know, like, 2 B - 'on the show'. And I'm like, 'This has to be a prank. There's no way!'"

"I had several people check it out [and] it turned out it was his manager", she goes on. "You know, you never know. When you put stuff out there, you're in the entertainment business, you never know who might just be flipping channels and find your show. And randomly, Prince found the show, and he was watching it every week with his band, and they'd watch it on tour, and it was like he couldn't miss it, and they were really invested in the Nick and Jess relationship. It was just one of those really surreal moments".

Still, even though it was confirmed not to be a prank and everything was formally booked, she said that "to the very last second, we were not sure if he was going to come to set".

"We had no back-up plan", she added. "[But] he showed up. He was awesome. He was such a pro. [He was] a good actor and very kind of chill all the time. Such a cool guy".


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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