TODAY'S TOP STORY: With three weeks to go until this year's Great Escape, the schedules have now gone live for the three conferences CMU Insights will present as part of the showcase festival's convention programme this year: The Education Conference, The AI Conference and The China Conference... [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 Full schedules published for this year's CMU Insights conferences
LEGAL Spinal Tap relaunch Fairness Rocks as creator rights campaign platform
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Recorded music revenues grew 8.1% last year, despite the value gap
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Kanye West splits from Scooter Braun
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify boosts ad-funded functionality on mobile
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU@TGE Top Questions: How can we enhance and enforce music copyright in China?
RELEASES Wanna hear new Arctic Monkeys songs? Keep waiting
GIGS & FESTIVALS John Grant announces UK tour
ONE LINERS Chvrches, Hilary Woods, Chilly Gonzales, more
AND FINALLY... Nile Rodgers maximises social media #engagement with broken nose
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CMU Insights will present three full-day confernces as part of The Great Escape's convention programme this May. Get your tickets here.
Wednesday 16 May | Dukes at Komedia, Brighton
This full-day conference will put the spotlight on music education, and discuss how business and entrepreneurial skills could and should be integrated into the music curriculum. [READ MORE]
Thursday 17 May | Dukes at Komedia, Brighton
This full-day conference will look at how big data and AI will impact on music, including audio-recognition, fan-messaging, data-driven recommendations and music composition tools. [READ MORE]
Friday 18 May | Dukes at Komedia, Brighton
The full day conference will provide a beginner's guide to the Chinese music market, looking at copyright, streaming services, media and social media, and the touring circuit. [READ MORE]

Full schedules published for this year's CMU Insights conferences
With three weeks to go until this year's Great Escape, the schedules have now gone live for the three conferences CMU Insights will present as part of the showcase festival's convention programme this year: The Education Conference, The AI Conference and The China Conference.

CMU Insights has teamed up with Urban Development and BIMM to present The Education Conference, which will kickstart this year's TGE proceedings, taking place on Wednesday 16 May, the day before the festival gets going. This full-day conference will explore the crisis in music education today, while seeking to join a lot of dots between the many organisations offering opportunities to young people with a passion for music and the music industry.

The Education Conference is also part of the wider Redefining Music Education project recently launched by CMU Insights, Urban Development and BIMM. As part of that project, CMU Insights is currently mapping music education in England, the careers available in music, and the skills required to pursue those careers. The results of all that mapping will be presented during the conference.

Check out the full schedule for The Education Conference here. Standalone tickets are also available for this conference at just £65 - click here for information.

The AI Conference on Thursday 17 May puts future music technologies in the spotlight, with a focus on audio recognition, automated messaging, innovative uses of fan data and machines that make music. Companies showcasing their technology include WARM, POP, Ents24, Instrumental, Jukedeck, MXX Music and Rotor. We'll also be joined by Maggie Boden from Sussex University and Marcus O'Dair from Middlesex University to discuss what exactly AI is.

There will also be two big debates during the AI Conference. The first will discuss which new technologies - both AI and beyond - will really have an impact on the music business in the next decade. Lined up for that discussion are Andrew Parsons from Ticketmaster UK, Dan Fowler from JAAK, Imogen Heap from Mycelia, Manan Vohra from 7digital, Sammy Andrews from Deviate and Stef Pascual from Crown Talent.

Meanwhile at the end of the day we'll ask whether machines are set to become the pop makers of the future, and - if so - where the humans will fit in. Joining that debate will be Cliff Fluet from Lewis Silkin, Helienne Lindvall from Auddly, Scott Cohen from The Orchard and artist Chagall.

Check out the full schedule for The AI Conference here.

The China Conference on Friday 18 May puts the spotlight on this key emerging market, just as the IFPI confirms that China has entered the top ten global recorded music markets for the first time. It will provide a beginners guide to the Chinese music market and China's music industry, with a particular focus on opportunities for UK and Western artists in the country, in terms of streaming, touring and reaching an audience.

Among other things, we'll put the spotlight on the copyright regime in China, at how things have improved in that domain over the last decade, but also where there is still plenty of room for improvement. We'll also ask how the UK music industry can possibly influence copyright law on the other side of the world.

In terms of monetising those music rights, we'll then look at the burgeoning streaming sector in China, getting insights from Mathew Daniel from Chinese streaming service NetEase Cloud Music, as well as Anne Jenniskens from FUGA, Nina Condron from Horus, and Stephen King from Believe.

Check out the full schedule for The China Conference here.

There is a final batch of speakers still to be announced for the CMU Insights conferences, and those will be revealed next week, alongside the schedules for the other strands of the Great Escape's convention programme: the in-conversations, the courtroom sessions and the DIY programme for new talent.

To access all this you need to get yourself at TGE delegate pass or convention-only pass - both of which are available here.


Spinal Tap relaunch Fairness Rocks as creator rights campaign platform
To coincide with tomorrow's World Intellectual Property Day (not long to make the finishing touches to your street party preparations!), Spinal Tap have relaunched their 'Fairness Rocks' website as a campaign aimed at benefitting all creators.

The website was originally set up to promote a 2016 lawsuit brought by the fictional band's Harry Shearer against entertainment conglom Vivendi, its film business StudioCanal and (subsequently) its music company Universal Music. Now also involving Shearer's creative collaborators Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, the lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs have not been paid royalties they are due on the film 'This Is Spinal Tap' and its soundtrack album.

It always seemed as if the 'Fairness Rocks' website was intended to foster some sort of creator rights movement. Now it is explicitly stating that to be the case. Leading the campaign, intellectual property rights expert Amanda Harcourt explains: "The 'Fairness Rocks' campaign was born out of the Spinal Tap creators' knowing that they were not singled out for special treatment. In fact, only a select few highly successful creators actually receive a fair share of the benefits arising from the exploitation of their work".

"Fans and audiences may not realise the economic truth behind the music and film industries", she continues. "If consumers are repelled by t-shirts manufactured by exploited labour in the developing world, it struck us that, when informed of the commercial realities, audiences may similarly disapprove of the lack of fair treatment the talent receives at the hands of corporations exploiting their music and films".

"To make matters worse, the practices of powerful tech companies have devastated the incomes of writers, composers, performers, and filmmakers right across the world", she adds.

"The truth is that both power and financial imbalances, between the talent and corporations, have persisted for too long", she goes on. "Individually, the talent has a weak bargaining position; often creators are required to sign contracts that fly in the face of the fundamental principles of laws designed to protect them".

Explaining the aim of the campaign, she says: "At Fairness Rocks it is our intention to shine a light on some of these unfair practices, to help educate the public, and to inform young creators beginning their careers in music and film. We want to highlight the work of the talent advocacy organisations and to be a place where useful, up-to-date information can be found for media, moviemaker and musician alike".

"Most importantly, we hope that filmmakers, songwriters, musicians and actors of all stripes will join Fairness Rocks and help us give them a unified voice. We want to provide a platform for the talent to speak openly and share their experiences of their industries. Put simply, all the talent should be receiving a fair share of the fruits of their work".

"Sunlight is a great disinfectant", she concludes. "So if the transparency of the Fairness Rocks campaign can help change some deeply-entrenched industry norms, the creative industry's future will look a little bit brighter".

Visit the Fairness Rocks website here.


Recorded music revenues grew 8.1% last year, despite the value gap
The streams are booming. New technologies are creating even more opportunities. Key emerging markets offer much potential for further growth. But fuck me to the highest of all of the fucking heavens, won't someone finally fucking do something about the fucking fucked-up value gap?

You know, just so I don't have to fucking write about it anymore. I actually think that is now the most compelling reason for lawmakers to finally get their fucking arses into gear and collectively tell YouTube et al to fuck off. Go on lawmakers, do it, just so I don't have to write another fucking word about the fucking value gap.

So, yes, the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry yesterday published its annual stats pack. As expected, global record industry revenues were up in 2017 thanks to the streaming boom, by which we mean the premium streaming boom.

However, things could be so much better if it wasn't for safe harbour dwelling websites like YouTube and the so called value gap those services create by exploiting copyright protections designed for internet services companies in order to pay lower royalties. That's what the record companies would like you all to know, anyway.

The global recorded music market was up 8.1% last year, meaning total revenues were $17.3 billion. The streaming boom is behind the growth, of course, with the streaming sector now accounting for 38.4% of total recorded music revenue. Streaming income grew 41.1% last year, offsetting continued declines in the physical and download markets, which respectively slipped 5.4% and 20.5%.

The record industry has now been in growth for three years. The 2000s, of course, were a decade of steep decline for the recorded music sector as it struggled to adjust to the digital world. Revenues were then more or less flat from 2010 to 2015, when the streaming-fuelled growth began.

But the decade of decline means that the record industry has along way to go to return to its 1999 peak, with revenues for 2017 only 68.4% of those generated in that peak year at the end of the 1990s.

Although, of course, those are revenue figures, and digital is generally more profitable than physical. Partly because of the costs of manufacturing and distributing physical product. And partly because royalties paid to songwriters and music publishers come out of the record industry's physical income, whereas streaming services pay those monies directly to the publishing sector.

Still, no one would begrudge the record industry wanting yet more of that lovely growth. And that means persuading more people to sign up to the streaming services. Everyone's hoping Alexa and her voice-activated buddies can help with that. Then the music industry can focus on persuading those people still streaming for free that paid-for streams are way better.

The latter will be a particular challenge in emerging markets where free streaming services still tend to dominate. Some reckon that there is still plenty of potential to generate lots more ad income from those free services in those emerging markets, though the label reps at the launch of the IFPI report yesterday seemed more keen to try and find ways to encourage more take up for premium platforms in those countries.

Then, of course, there is the challenge of closing the value gap - the belief that free streaming services built on top of user-upload websites are skewing the market, and making it harder to persuade consumers to upgrade to paid-for options. YouTube has traditionally been the main target of the music industry's value gap moans, although optimists at the majors hope that the Google site's own planned move into premium streaming might address some of those issues.

Nonetheless, the record industry is still pushing for reform of the safe harbours that provide user-upload sites the kind of protection that copyright owners reckon they should never have benefited from. The focus of that campaigning remains the somehow-still-in-development European copyright directive, though IFPI boss Frances Moore yesterday admitted safe harbour was a global problem.

She said the labels had prioritised those markets where existing copyright reform offered an opportunity to reform safe harbour - such as in the European Union - but was likewise monitoring the situation across the globe, citing the recent safe harbour debate in Australia in particular. She also added that the long-awaited report form the US Copyright Office on safe harbour in America is now expected later this year.

Meanwhile, in a statement on all that campaigning, Moore added: "The industry is on a positive path of recovery but it's very clear that the race is far from won. Record companies are continuing in their efforts to put the industry back onto a stable path and, to that end, we are continuing our campaign to fix the value gap. This is not just essential for music to thrive in today's global market, but to create the right - fair - environment for it to do so in the future".

Of course - a cynic might argue - if the streaming services continue to grow at their current rate (and find profitability in themselves), and if the record industry starts to see its revenues reach anything like that 1990s peak, everyone might ultimately learn to live with the value gap. After all, home taping never killed music. And that assumption may be part of the long game being played by YouTube et al.

I have no fucking time for fucking long games though. So, I repeat, please, someone, somewhere, close the fucking value gap once and for fucking all. Thanks.

In other news, for more discussion on the potential technical impact of safe harbour reform, and plenty of debates around the technologies that will dominate the next decade in music, see you at The AI Conference at The Great Escape on 17 May. And for a comprehensive beginners guide to the most key emerging market - China - now the tenth biggest recorded music market worldwide, check out The China Conference at The Great Escape on 18 May. More info here.


Kanye West splits from Scooter Braun
Kanye West has split from manager Scooter Braun, according to various reports. Sources told Billboard that West made the decision due to a desire to "leave the traditional music business".

Last month, West fired his longtime manager Izzy Zivkovic, who had co-managed the rapper with Braun since 2016. Now having jettisoned both managers, West is completely outside the traditional music industry system. Except for his recording and publishing deals, which seemingly remain in place. But apart from those, the rule book is in pieces.

Not that all ties have been severed though. Braun's SB Projects company will reportedly continue to work with West's Yeezy clothing brand. But that's fashion, isn't it? So that's OK.

Elsewhere, West called in to Hot 97.1's 'Ebro In The Morning' show yesterday, in order to have his right of reply over those claims made on the show that he is still a big Trump supporter. During the brief interview the rapper answered every question by saying that he'd "just called to say, 'I love you'". Although he did suggest that he'd do a fuller interview after having a private conversation with Ebro.


Spotify boosts ad-funded functionality on mobile
Spotify has played a balancing act with its ad-funded version over the years. How much functionality should freeloaders be allowed? Too little and they might run to piracy sites or - worse - YouTube. Too much and they won't see any point paying for the full service. And somewhere in there, rightsholders have to be placated too. Turns out Spotify's current thinking is that the free tier could do with a bit more thrown into it.

At an unnecessary press event in New York yesterday, Spotify announced that it was beefing up the mobile version of its ad-funded tier, which is where functionality has traditionally been most restricted. In recent years, smartphone using freemium subscribers have only been able to listen to albums and playlists on shuffle. But in an update due to roll out in the next few weeks, those non-paying users will be allowed up to 750 on-demand tracks per month, across fifteen of Spotify's playlists.

Restrictions will be lifted on personalised playlists, such as Discover Weekly, Release Radar and Daily Mixes, plus popular editorially-driven collections, including RapCaviar and ¡Viva Latino!, Ultimate Indie and Alternative R&B.

"The better our free experience is, the more chance they'll become premium users", reckons the streaming service's Chief Product Officer Gustav Söderström. "Engagement is the most important indicator of growth".

VP of Product Development Babar Zafar adds: "Our customers always tell us that music discovery and listening is a personal experience, and we are enhancing the free experience with this in mind. This is the beginning of an evolution for Spotify and we will continue to make improvements that mirror our customers' needs".

He goes on: "This is not only about giving users a more customised free experience from the day they sign up, but giving them more control over their listening experience so they can easily find and stream their favourites anytime, from anywhere".

Growth, of course, is what Spotify is still aiming for right now. Really it wants more paying users, they being much more lucrative for both the service and the music industry. But Spotify's logic has always been that a bigger free userbase means more people to sell premium too. Let's just hope a beefed up free offer doesn't result in subscribers going to other way instead, and downgrading from premium to freemium.

Spotify needs to ensure continued growth - especially at its premium level - both if it is to ever reach the scale needed to become a viable business and to placate Wall Street and those people who like investing in loss-making companies on the promise of something great happening one day in the future. It has to be said, Wall Street does seem placated for now, with the company's share price settling around the $155 mark.

Other updates to the mobile app include a new personalised homepage, consolidation of the number of sections in the navigation menu, and a new 'data saver' feature, which Spotify reckons will reduce mobile data usage by up to 75%.


CMU@TGE Top Questions: How can we enhance and enforce music copyright in China?
With The Great Escape getting closer, we are currently considering ten questions that will be answered during the three CMU Insights conferences that are set to take place there this year: The Education Conference (16 May), The AI Conference (17 May) and The China Conference (18 May). Today: how can we enhance and enforce music copyright in China?

The record industry's worldwide trade group IFPI yesterday confirmed that China has entered the top ten global recorded music markets for the first time. And in the trade body's 'Global Music Report', Universal Music's EVP Market Development, Adam Granite, remarks that "it's impossible not to be excited at the opportunity" that the Chinese market offers artists and labels, although challenges remain.

Some of those challenges for Western rights owners in this new and exciting market relate to the country's copyright regime. That means the rights that regime provides creators and their business partners, quite how you go about enforcing those rights, and how local copyright owners connect to global rights owners, especially when it comes to collective licensing.

In its report, IFPI notes that China is "a vastly different landscape compared to ten or even five years ago, having undergone a significant cultural shift in regard to the value and protection of copyright - a process driven by government regulation alongside the effort of record companies and other rights holders".

However, it then confirms, "significant challenges to the continued development of the market remain". In particular, on the sound recordings side, "China is still lacking the performance and broadcast rights which, if given, will significantly contribute towards greater investment in the development of the Chinese music market".

On the songs side, Chinese copyright law does provide performing rights for songwriters and music publishers. However, income from those rights is still very low.

In its annual stats pack last year, CISAC, which represents song right collecting societies worldwide, said that only 105 of more than 2000 radio and TV stations in China currently pay royalties for the music they use. Collections there are currently 23 million euros. But if the entire broadcasting sector was paying in, tens of millions in extra revenue would be unlocked.

Obviously, from a Western perspective, the copyright regimes in many emerging markets still need ramping up. Though with China offering so much potential for the music industry, copyright reform there is of particular interest. But what influence can and does the Western music industry have on that process?

That's one of the topics we'll be exploring at our China Conference, with input from those leading on copyright matters in the UK - Ian Moss from BPI and John Mottram from PRS For Music - as well as IFPI's Regional Director for Asia, Ang Kwee Tiang.

Of course, the copyright system - and how it is employed by the music industry - is hardly perfect in the West, especially when it comes to digital licensing and streaming royalties.

Which poses another interesting question: with the copyright regime in countries like China less evolved, is there an opportunity to specifically develop copyright in those territories in a way that makes more sense in the digital age? That's a question we'll put to some of our other guests, including Sentric Music CEO Chris Meehan and Outdustry MD Ed Peto.

The China Conference takes place on Friday 18 May - more info here. See more questions we'll answer at The Great Escape here.


Approved: Jo Passed
After his last band Sprïng collapsed, Jo Hirabayashi launched Jo Passed as a solo project. Over a number of years, and through a handful of EP releases, the project has formed into the band now found on debut album, 'Their Prime'.

The title of the record has a slightly ironic glint to it, as much of the subject matter of the record deals with Hirabayashi's fears that he's missed his moment.

"It's me owning my worst nightmare", he says. "A lot of the Jo Passed project has been about confronting fears. I was afraid to move away from Vancouver to Montreal on my own. Afraid to leave musical relationships I had. Afraid to bare the full responsibility of a project. I've been putting out records and not ones anyone's necessarily heard. Being open about those fears is a good way of dealing with them".

He goes on: "You end up at this point where you hit 30 and you're like, 'Oh what happened? Am I done? Did I not activate my main creative energy?' It's a ridiculous idea but 30 feels a little like 1000 in rock n roll terms".

The irony then twists back on itself, because the album finds Hirabayashi and his band on a creative high. His dreamy vocals float above guitar parts, which at times sound like he's trying his hardest to break the instrument, only to hear back a succession of wonderfully weird melodies.

With previous singles 'MDM' and 'Millennial Trash Blues' already winning over fans, new track 'Glass' and it's captivatingly odd video show no signs of slowing Jo Passed's surge.

Watch the video for 'Glass' here.

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

Wanna hear new Arctic Monkeys songs? Keep waiting
There's still no new music to share from the upcoming Arctic Monkeys album 'Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino' ahead of its release on 11 May. Nor will there be.

In a world where multiple tracks on SoundCloud, videos on YouTube and full album preview streams ahead of release are commonplace, the band are running the other way. Nothing from the album will be put out ahead of its release date. You'll just have to guess what songs like 'The World's First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip', 'Golden Trunks' and 'The Ultracheese' sound like.

Speaking to Mojo, Alex Turner says: "Jamie [Cook, guitarist] was really keen on that idea, and I guess people at Domino. But it didn't come from me. I understand it, I think".

A rep for the band has now confirmed to Pitchfork that there will be no music from the album released before 11 May, beyond that heard in the brief trailer released earlier this month. And who's to say that 40 second clip was even music from the album? Yes, I know, I've just blown your mind right out of your head. Bad luck.


John Grant announces UK tour
John Grant has announced that he'll be touring the UK once again this autumn, banging out some of his top tunes. By the time those dates roll around, we should be able to listen to his fourth solo album, which he's currently finishing off.

The dates, I can assure you, are as follows:

29 Oct: Brighton, Dome
30 Oct: London, Brixton Academy
31 Oct: Bath, Forum
2 Nov: Sheffield, Octagon
3 Nov: Manchester, Albert Hall


Chvrches, Hilary Woods, Chilly Gonzales, 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.

• Chvrches have released the video for latest single, 'Miracle'.

• Hilary Woods has released her latest single, 'Black Rainbow'. Her debut solo album 'Colt' will be out on 8 Jun.

• Chilly Gonzales will livestream a concert featuring his 'Gonservatory' trainees at 9.30pm GMT on 26 Apr. The seven selected musicians were brought to Paris from all over the world for an eight day performance workshop.

• Steve Van Zandt will be heading to the UK and Ireland with his Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul band this summer. He'll play shows in Dublin and Liverpool in June, followed by a performance at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London on 27 Jul.

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


Nile Rodgers maximises social media #engagement with broken nose
Nile Rodgers broke his nose after tripping on the way into his studio yesterday. It being #2018, we know this because the first thing anyone thought to do was film him bleeding into what looks like an empty sandwich packet in order to post some footage on Instagram.

"Jesus Christ, I guess that's what you call 'a slip and fall injury'", he says in the clip, assessing the blood splattered all over the floorboards. "I think we'd better go to hospital, bro".

"Alright", replies the person filming, somewhat reluctantly. Although they did leave the musician lying there long enough to take a photo for a later Twitter post. Gotta engage those fans!

Describing the scene in his tweet, Rodgers writes: "Here I have a foldable ice pack and have already stopped the bleeding. When I arrived at the hospital the doctor said I 'did everything right'. I'm going to be fine even with the broken nose".

I'm not sure if he told the doctor about the social media posts. From the information provided here, though, we have to assume that in order to do "everything right", all and any injuries should be filmed, photographed and published before any medical treatment is sought. It's quite possible you'll now be asked to do that by the 999 operator before they'll send out an ambulance.


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 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 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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