TODAY'S TOP STORY: The family of Avicii - real name Tim Bergling - have issued a new statement suggesting that he took his own life... [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 New family statement suggests that Avicii took his own life
LEGAL IMPALA welcomes EC proposals to close the online 'power gap'
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Distributor ABC Digital launches office in India
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Sonos plotting IPO for early summer
Spotify to test price increase in Norway
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU@TGE Top Questions: How can you capitalise on the imminent "explosive growth" of live music in China?
ARTIST NEWS Halsey signs deal to make movie based on her life
RELEASES Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda releases new solo track
ONE LINERS Universal, Elton John, Muse, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #401: Arctic Monkeys v Marketing
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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]

New family statement suggests that Avicii took his own life
The family of Avicii - real name Tim Bergling - have issued a new statement suggesting that he took his own life.

Bergling was found dead in his hotel room at the Muscat Hills Resort in Oman, where he had been holidaying with friends, last week. Although his family do not specifically state how he died, they say that "he could not go on any longer" and that "he wanted to find peace".

"Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions", they say. "An over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress. When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be happy and be able to do what he loved most - music".

"He really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness", they continue. "He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace. Tim was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight".

Beginning his career as a teenager, Bergling quickly became one of the highest paid live performers in EDM. At his busiest he was playing up to 250 shows a year around the world. He retired from live performance in 2016 due to health concerns, in part caused by excessive drinking.

At the time of his death, aged just 28, he was working on a new album.


IMPALA welcomes EC proposals to close the online 'power gap'
Bored of the 'value gap'? Well, let's talk about the 'power gap' instead. Indie label repping IMPALA has welcomed proposed new rules from the European Commission that seek to "create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment for smaller businesses and traders when using online platforms".

Explaining the rationale for the new rules, the EC's VP for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said yesterday: "Millions of mostly small traders in the EU now depend on online platforms to reach their customers across the 'digital single market'. These new online marketplaces drive growth and innovation in the EU, but we need a set of clear and basic rules to ensure a sustainable and predictable business environment".

This basically means ensuring that the big online platforms - which might include online marketplaces, social networks and search engines - don't abuse their market dominance to the detriment of the smaller businesses who now rely on these platforms to reach their customers.

"Today's proposal brings more transparency to the online economy, gives businesses the predictability they need, and will ultimately benefit European consumers", Ansip added.

Announcing the proposed new rules, the EC cited a Eurobarometer survey that reckoned 42% of small and medium sized companies now use online marketplaces to sell their products and services. Meanwhile, another study reported that nearly 50% of European businesses operating on platforms of this kind say they have experienced problems.

The EC's statement added that that second study "also shows that 38% of problems regarding contractual relations remain unsolved, and 26% are solved but with difficulties". It concluded: "It is estimated that 1.27-2.35 billion euros is lost directly in sales as a result".

Although these new rules are not specific to the cultural or copyright industries, IMPALA says that they would benefit smaller independent music companies operating in Europe, which are also frequently dependent on big online platforms to reach consumers.

The trade group said yesterday: "In the music sector, independents account for 80% of music released today. They are often presented with 'take it or leave it' terms which do not meet acceptable standards. Censorship-style negotiating tactics, such as threats to remove content or block access are also common, as they are in other sectors".

It went on: "Some of IMPALA's smaller members have even experienced unilateral termination of access to essential tools such as partner programmes which allow monetisation of content on user-upload platforms".

Commenting on the EC's new proposals to close what IMPALA calls the 'power gap', the trade group's boss Helen Smith said yesterday: "This is a welcome move, underlining how the EU is taking the lead in making sure online services behave reasonably".

She went on: "To be fully effective, the legislation should also clarify that there is a general obligation upon services to behave in a fair, reasonable, objective and non-discriminatory manner, as well as to provide better access to data".


Distributor ABC Digital launches office in India
ABC Digital - a London-based music distributor that focuses on artists and labels from South Asia and Asian communities in the UK and North America - has launched an office in India, in order to work as "a digital gateway for content owners to and from India".

The company currently distributes music from India, Pakistan, UK, USA and Canada to global digital music services, as well as streaming platforms based in India like Saavn and Gaana.

With its new office, a spokesperson says, "ABC Digital can co-ordinate efforts in India on behalf of numerous content owners and also pass on benefits from economies of scale. The same situation occurs for Indian content owners and co-ordination in the West".

The company's founder and CEO Gautam Puri adds: "ABC Digital's content library boasts over 50,000 songs, which over the past ten years have consistently featured in the top ten world genre charts on platforms like iTunes, Spotify and Saavn. We are also consistently increasing our content portfolio and expanding our services to include publishing and marketing initiatives as well as expanding distribution reach to all leading digital services".

Artists distributed by the company include Diljit Dosanjh, Panjabi MC, Imran Khan, Bilal Saeed, Jaz Dhami and Garry Sandhu.


Sonos plotting IPO for early summer
Sonos has an IPO planned for the summer, everybody! Which is good news. I mean, Spotify arriving on the New York Stock Exchange all seems like a very long time ago now, doesn't it? That single share we bought has increased in value by $1.43, by the way. Yes, $1.43!

But you're bored of meticulously monitoring the Spotify share price every day, aren't you? What you want is another music-related stock market listing to obsess about, and you're too impatient to wait for Tencent Music's IPO later this year, right?

So, hurrah for wireless speaker maker Sonos. It's now confidentially filed for its initial public offering, according to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. Sonos itself hasn't commented on any of this, but Bloomberg reckons the California-based company hopes to go public in June or July with a target market cap value of between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.

Sonos was an early player in what is now a booming market, of course, with Apple, Amazon and Google now also having their own wireless speaker products. That means the early player now has some big competition to deal with.

Sonos still differentiates itself by boasting better sound quality than most of its competitors. Though that's a USP Apple has also played with since launching its HomePod. However, the tech giant's move into the smart speaker space has, to date, been somewhat lacklustre, which is good news for the Sonos business.

It remains to be seen whether that translates into investor confidence when the company lists this summer.


Spotify to test price increase in Norway
How will streaming services ever make money? Pushing down the royalties it pays to the music industry is one thing Spotify is already pursuing. But how about a price increase for subscribers too? The market leader is about to test out that idea as well.

According to Bloomberg, Spotify will implement a 10% price increase for new subscribers in Norway next month, before extending the price rise to existing customers in July. The increase will apply to the company's family plan and discounted student offer, as well as its standard subscription package.

"In order to meet market demands and conditions, while continuing to offer a great personalised service, Spotify will be increasing the price of our premium subscription in Norway", the company said in a statement.

The streaming business model is as yet unproven, with all the key players, including Spotify, still currently loss-making. Spotify's ultimate aim is to keep at least 30% of its revenues, handing over up to 70% to rightsholders. Currently it hands over more like 85% because of minimum guarantee commitments. This, coupled with high overheads and aggressive growth, results in significant losses.

Under their more recent licensing deals, the record labels did agree to slightly lower the royalties they receive, if certain growth targets are reached. However, with music publishers concurrently pushing their royalties up and many premium users on heavily discounted packages or introductory offers, the company arguably needs to pursue other tactics to assure long-term profitability. A slight price increase is one such tactic.

It will now be interesting to see if the price increase affects new sign up numbers in Norway next month. And even more interesting will be the subsequent testing of the loyalty of existing customers, as Spotify's prices rise above those of its competitors.

Norway has reportedly been selected for the test because the majority of users there pay for their subscription.


CMU@TGE Top Questions: How can you capitalise on the imminent "explosive growth" of live music in China?
With The Great Escape getting closer, we have been busy 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 the final question: how can you capitalise on the imminent "explosive growth" of live music in China?

Although many of the global headlines regarding the Chinese music market have focused on recorded music - in particular the deals between the Western record companies and Tencent, NetEase and Alibaba - the country's live music industry is also growing at an incredible rate.

In its Global Entertainment And Media Outlook report last year, PWC reckoned that the Chinese live music industry was worth $217 million in 2016. Which is still relatively modest given the size of the market, but the report also predicted that the recent rapid growth of the sector will only continue, so that it will be worth $301 million in 2021.

The report noted that the Chinese live entertainment market has "until now" been tagged as "a sleeping giant". It went on: "Australia, with a population of just 24 million, currently has a greater music market in terms of total revenue on account of its superior live industry. Not for long: China's music market is sprinting".

Speaking to IQ magazine last year, the founder of one of the many festival franchises that has emerged in China in recent years, Storm festival's Eric Zho, concurred with the stat-compilers over at PWC. Reckoning the Chinese live music market was still "nascent" but maturing by the day as consumers become "more refined" in their musical tastes, he declared: "We're on the cusp of explosive growth".

That explosive growth creates huge opportunities for artists and music entrepreneurs in China, and also for the global music community. China's own live industry is still evolving, though a number key players have already emerged - of which Modern Sky probably has the highest profile outside the country. Though the aforementioned Alibaba has also moved into live as well as recorded music, and the web giant is also now active in ticketing.

For international artists and music companies, capitalising on the live opportunities in China requires understanding quite how live entertainment works in this market, and finding the right partners based in the country. Back in that IQ interview, Zho remarked: "When foreign companies come here they don't know what to do - China is a unique market, and unless you figure out how to localise, to work with local partners, you're never going to win".

The China Conference at The Great Escape is all about getting some insider insight into this unique market, with reps from various businesses based in the country joining the debate across the day, including Outdustry, Fake Music Media, Kanjian Music and the aforementioned Modern Sky. If winning means educating yourself about music in China, let the education begin!

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


Vigsy's Club Tip: Another Sunday Afternoon at Dingwalls
Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge team up for Another Sunday Afternoon at Dingwalls in Camden this (can you guess?) Sunday.

As well as headline sets from the two men behind the enterprise, there'll also be a guest DJ slot from Colin Curtis and live music from Armed KwaLu, featuring Ezra Collective's Joe Armon-Jones.

They'll all get you through the afternoon, on Camden Lock, with an official (although possibly not adhered to) cut off of 7.30pm.

Sunday 29 Apr, Dingwalls, Middle Yard, Camden Town, London, NW1 8AB, 12pm-7.30pm, £24. More info here.

Halsey signs deal to make movie based on her life
Sony Pictures has bought the rights to develop a movie based on the life of Halsey. According to Deadline, the aim is to make something akin to Eminem's '8 Mile', in which Halsey would star.

Exactly how good Halsey would be at playing herself - or a character based on herself - is something you'll be able to judge later this year. The singer appears in a small role, as herself, in the new remake of 'A Star Is Born', starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

Speaking of that film, which is due for release in October, the first trailer was screened for an audience at CinemaCon in Las Vegas earlier this week.

People said it looks good. The studio behind it, Warner Bros, seems confident too. The release date has reportedly been shifted back from May because the company reckons it's a contender for awards.


Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda releases new solo track
Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda has released a new solo track, 'About You', taken from his upcoming debut solo album, 'Post Traumatic'.

Speaking to Zane Lowe on Beats 1, Shinoda explained how the song related to the death of bandmate Chester Bennington, and his attempts to write new songs that moved away from that topic.

"A lot of the early stuff on this album was about what had happened and Chester and all that, and then I started trying to write some songs that weren't about Chester and weren't about that whole thing," he said. "I realised people would still hear them as if they were about him. It was like, 'Man, even when I try to make a song that's not about him, it still feels like it's about him'".

Watch the video for 'About You' here.


Universal, Elton John, Muse, 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.

• Universal Music has appointed Dave Rocco to the newly created position on EVP Creative. Until recently he was Spotify's Global Head Of Artist And Label Marketing. Uncle Luci Grainge is "THRILLED". Rocco himself is only "excited".

• ITV will air an American TV tribute to Elton John on Monday night. 'Elton John: I'm Still Standing - A Grammy Salute' is basically a thing designed to promote John's new 'Revamp' compilation and features performances by artists including Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Chris Martin and Elton himself. That's ITV1 at 10.45pm on Monday. Past my bedtime, and yours too I'm sure.

• Muse will screen a filmed version of their 'Drones' tour in cinemas on 12 Jul. "It's a good thing or a bad thing", says Matt Bellamy.

• Rae Sremmurd have released the video for 'Close', taken from their still to be released new album, 'Sr3mm'.

• Kali Uchis has released the video for 'Get Up', taken from her debut album 'Isolation'.

• The Internet are back with a new single, 'Roll (Burbank Funk)', and it's pretty great.

• Thundercat has released new track 'Final Fight', as part of Adult Swim's singles club.

• I'll tell you right now, Jon Hopkins' new album is absolutely fantastic. Here's a new track from it, 'Everything's Connected'.

• Billie Eilish has released the video for new single 'Lovely', featuring Khalid.

• Junglepussy has announced her third album, 'Trader Joe'. It will be released on 11 May. Here's the title track.

• Dreams can come true, Gabrielle is back. She'll release a new album, 'Under My Skin', on 11 Aug. Here's the first single, 'Show Me'.

• Cellist Oliver Coates has released new single 'Charlev'. He'll be supporting Thom Yorke on tour later this year. He's really flipping good live.

• Sabiyha has released new single 'Letter'.

• Seinabo Sey has released new track 'Breathe'.

• Kier has released new track 'Sadboy'. The song, he says, is a call to "be loving and talk to each other, [and] never be embarrassed for the way you feel".

• Florence And The Machine have announced shows in London, Halifax and Scunthorpe this May. Here's the video for recent single 'Sky Full Of Song'.

• J-pop group Maison Book Girl have announced shows in Birmingham and London around appearances at The Great Escape next month. Here's the video for new single 'Bath Room'.

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


Beef Of The Week #401: Arctic Monkeys v Marketing
Shh. Stop. Do you hear that sound? It's the sound of a new Arctic Monkeys album emerging out of the darkness. What does it sound like? It sounds like nothing. It sounds like something that doesn't want you to know it's coming. But you do know it's coming.

Alex Turner once sang that in order to look good on the dancefloor, one should dance akin to a robot circa 1984. Well, you know what the most famous robot from 1984 is? That's right, The Terminator. I remember the club scene from that film. And while the titular robot may have moved silently up to the point he entered the venue, things sure got loud once he was in there.

Basically, what I'm trying to tell you is that this clip - that club scene - tells you everything you need to know about the new Arctic Monkeys album.

Does this analogy work on every level? Does it work on any level at all? It's very hard to say, but it's the best I've got because there's nothing else for me to share with you about this new Arctic Monkeys record. I've been left floundering without the usual tools of album promotion that are always provided to us journalists by the modern music industry.

With two weeks to go until 'Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino' is released we should be swimming in a sea of music by now. There should have been a non-single release three months ago. Followed by the first single in audio-only form. Then a lyric video. An official video. Maybe even a 'visualiser', although I still haven't quite worked out what that is.

We should have repeated that process at least two more times with additional preview tracks - maybe classified as 'singles', maybe not - and in between all that previewing you'd expect a slew of live sessions to dig into as well. Right now we should be preparing ourselves for the full album stream on NPR.

All-in-all, we should be pretty familiar with where the Arctic Monkeys have headed - musically speaking - on their first album for five years. But we're not. We know basically nothing about it. Because the Arctic Monkeys feel they're above the public and media's need for an endless stream of disposable information.

Instead, I'm sitting here googling '1984 robot' because Turner and co think life would be better if their whole album - and every song, lyric, drum beat and chord progression on it -all arrives at the same time, in one moment, on its allotted release date, and not second before. "Why can't people wait for things anymore?" the band collectively wondered. "We'll instil a little bit of patience back into the music buying public", they added.

Actually, it's not the whole band who wondered that. For his part, Alex Turner seems as confused as the rest of us as to why there haven't been any preview-tastic single releases preceding his band's big new album. "Jamie [Cook, guitarist] was really keen on that idea, and I guess people at Domino", he tells the new issue of Mojo of the pre-release silence. "But it didn't come from me".

Does he approve of this sneaky no-marketing marketing strategy though? "I understand it", he says, before qualifying that answer with an "I think". He thinks he understands it. He thinks! An entire marketing campaign based on silence and he only thinks he understands it.

Personally I'd like a bit more confidence in this dramatic anti-marketing marketing concept. And possibly a longer quote about it too. Something about the planning and the outcomes and the expectations. Anything really, so that I don't end up having to fill column inches with a load of nonsense comparing a record I haven't heard to an old film about a murderous robot. What a film though. And what an album. Maybe. Who knows?

I mean, forcing me into this corner has meant I've also had to build a conceit into this article. Well, more of a barefaced lie really. That being my previous insistence that the Arctic Monkeys haven't released any audio, or any video, at all, related to this new record. Because do you know what? They actually have. Despite shunning nearly all those zany modern tactics of music marketing, Arctic Monkeys have actually embraced one. And it's the very worst of those zany modern tactics of music marketing: the album trailer.

That's right, there's a 40 second trailer for the album. A brief clip that contains a snippet of new music that cuts off before it reaches anything close to a satisfying point.

Look, I understand that, in the age of YouTube, the way to keep eyeballs on you, among a sea of musicians all shouting into the void, is to share as much content as possible. I understand that this is why there are now so many different forms of YouTube video basically sharing the same content over and over again. But whoever came up with the idea of trailers for albums deserves to be hunted down by a robot from the future.

And this Arctic Monkey's trailer is particular unsatisfactory. Trailers are supposed to be things that inform and excite you about an upcoming entertainment product. In what world is it acceptable to expect me to actively press play on a 40 second clip featuring abstract images and a little bit of music that goes nowhere?

I want to be tantalised. I want to be on the edge of my seat. Though not like the trailers they have for movies these days - by the way - where they just show you a heavily edited version of the entire film in sequence and in doing so ruin the finished product. I mean trailers like this one from 1984 (from nineteen eighty fo-werr):

Holy shit! I want to see that film right now. That looks great. Buy me two tickets and a gallon of popcorn at the nearest cineplex immediately. I've got me some movie to watch. But no trailer for any album has ever had this effect, because it's just a daft concept. Music simply doesn't lend itself to the format.

So, to conclude, no previews, no singles, no videos, just one unsatisfactory pointless trailer. Though maybe waiting is a good thing. Maybe patience is a virtue. Maybe this no-marketing anti-marketing marketing campaign is marketing genius, making us anticipate the new record even more. Maybe. Hell, let's assume that it is.

Well done, The Arctic Monkeys. I'm now anticipating your new album like Sarah Connor lying next to a hydraulic press in a factory. This metaphor still isn't working, is it?


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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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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