TODAY'S TOP STORY: A Japanese internet service provider last week announced that it would voluntarily block its customers from accessing a number of piracy websites. This came after the country's government urged such action while it considers how to formally instigate web-blocking as an anti-piracy measure. However, now said ISP is being sued over allegations that those very web-blocks breach Japanese privacy laws... [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 Voluntary web-blocks in Japan lead to litigation
LEGAL LMFAO v Rick Ross lyric dispute back in court
Sexual assault lawsuit against Russell Simmons is dismissed
LIVE BUSINESS Deer Shed offers discounted tickets following collapse of Beverley Folk Festival
ARTIST NEWS Abba record new music
RELEASES Janelle Monáe releases Dirty Computer film
Suede announce album number eight
AND FINALLY... Poop! Poop! Kanye West releases new music
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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.
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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]

Voluntary web-blocks in Japan lead to litigation
A Japanese internet service provider last week announced that it would voluntarily block its customers from accessing a number of piracy websites. This came after the country's government urged such action while it considers how to formally instigate web-blocking as an anti-piracy measure. However, now said ISP is being sued over allegations that those very web-blocks breach Japanese privacy laws.

Web-blocking, of course, has become an anti-piracy tactic of choice for the entertainment industry in many countries, with ISPs being ordered to block access to sites deemed to undertake or facilitate copyright infringement. In some countries specific web-blocking systems have been put in place, whereas in other jurisdictions - like the UK - the courts just started issuing web-block injunctions under existing copyright rules.

Earlier this month the Japanese government said it also favoured web-blocking as an anti-piracy measure. While ministers work out what legal framework might enable such a thing, internet firms were encouraged to act voluntarily against certain piracy sites, in particular platforms that facilitate the illegal sharing of manga and anime.

Responding to that, ISP NTT last week announced "short-term emergency measures until legal systems on site-blocking are implemented". Those measures have seen sites highlighted by the government blocked.

When the Japanese government announced its web-blocking plans earlier in the month, some questioned whether blockades of that kind might breach privacy and free speech rights contained in the country's constitution.

Now lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa, also an NTT customer, has gone legal accusing the net firm's measures of being in breach of privacy law. In legal papers filed with the Tokyo District Court, Nakazawa says that the blockades in essence require the net firm to spy on their customers' internet activity, which is not allowed under privacy rules.

The lawyer is quoted by Torrentfreak as saying: "NTT's decision was made arbitrarily... without any legal basis. No matter how legitimate the objective of [stopping] copyright infringement is, it is very dangerous". He adds that the "freedom" being threatened is "an important value of the internet", and therefore legal action was appropriate to protect it.

In addition to potentially breaching constitutional rights and the country's telecommunication laws, Nakazawa reckons the web-blocks may also put the ISP in breach of his contract with the company.

The lawyer goes on: "There is an internet connection agreement between me and NTT. There is no provision in the contract between me and NTT to allow arbitrary interruption of communications".

It remains to be seen how NTT responds to the litigation, but it will surely put other ISPs off the idea of acting voluntarily on this, while piling pressure onto lawmakers to provide a clear legal framework regarding web-blocking in the country. Though they too will have to find a way of making such measures compliant with the constitution.


LMFAO v Rick Ross lyric dispute back in court
A four-year old lawsuit filed by Rick Ross against LMFAO as part of a dispute over a three word lyric was back in court last week putting the spotlight on yet another tedious copyright technicality. Four years on, we're yet to get to the key question in this case: ie whether or not borrowing two thirds of a three word lyric can possibly constitute copyright infringement.

Ross sued LMFAO over their 2010 hit 'Party Rock Anthem' and its line "everyday I'm shuffling", which he said ripped off the lyric "everyday I'm hustlin" from his 2006 track 'Hustlin'. Should it ever get properly to court, the judge will have to decide whether LMFAO using the words "everyday I'm" in that context is infringement.

The case was initially kicked out of court on a technicality relating to the registration of 'Hustlin' with the US Copyright Office. Unlike most other countries, copyrights are actually registered in the US, and it turned out there were problems with the registration of Ross's work. The problem not being a lack of registration, but the fact the song had been registered three times by different people.

Given that some of those registrations were by big music publishers, the judge argued, someone involved in the song should have spotted that problems long ago and fixed them. Or, at the very least, Ross's legal team should have sorted out the registration issues before going legal over the LMFAO lyric. To that end the lyric theft lawsuit was dismissed.

Ross's team appealed that ruling and last year the appeals court reinstated the case. That means the whole matter must now go back to the district court for the "can two words be infringement?" debate. Meanwhile, Team Ross have asked the court to force LMFAO to pay their legal costs in relation to the appeal.

Which brings us to the new copyright technicality. LMFAO last week stated in court that they can't be forced to pay Ross's legal fees, because the wider copyright dispute is as yet unresolved. Ross may have prevailed in the appeal hearing regarding the copyright registrations, but he is not yet the 'prevailing party'.

According to Law 360, LMFAO said in court that while copyright law "grants a court the discretion to 'award a reasonable attorney's fee to the prevailing party'", it does not "grant this court the discretion to award reasonable attorney's fees to a party that has prevailed on an intermediate appeal of a copyright infringement case that remands the case to the district court for further proceedings on the merits".

It remains to be seen what the court reckons regarding the fees. Let alone whether "everyday I'm shuffling" really can be said to be an infringement of "everyday I'm hustlin".


Sexual assault lawsuit against Russell Simmons is dismissed
One of the lawsuits filed against Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons over allegations of sexual assault was dismissed last week at the request of both parties.

A number of women made allegations of sexual assault against Simmons late last year as the #MeToo movement gained momentum. Jennifer Jarosik then went legal in January, accusing the music industry veteran of assaulting her at his home in LA after she met him there to discuss a documentary project.

That lawsuit was dismissed last week at the agreement of lawyers working for both Jarosik and Simmons. It's not known if a settlement was reached, but the case was dismissed "with prejudice", meaning no new litigation in relation to the allegations can be filed in the future.

Simmons has denied all the allegations made against him to date. A second lawsuit was filed last month in the LA Country Superior Court in which an unnamed woman also accused Simmons of rape. He has called the claims in that legal filing "a work of pure fiction", while requesting that the lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that it exceeds the so called statute of limitations.


Deer Shed offers discounted tickets following collapse of Beverley Folk Festival
Promoters of Yorkshire-based festival Deer Shed have offered 60% discounts on tickets for their event to those affected by the cancellation of another of festival that was due to take place in the county this summer, the long-established Beverley Folk Festival.

The folk fest was due to take place from 15-17 Jun this year, but last week organisers announced that "it is with immense sadness and regret that we have to announce this year's festival cannot go ahead".

Noting that the festival was run by a not-for-profit organisation, the statement went on: "Unfortunately, we have recently discovered we have lost our primary source of funding, so we simply do not have the money to pay for the infrastructure or the performers".

The cancellation has resulted in the Beverley Folk Festival company going into administration, with no funds available to pay back those who had bought tickets. Which means those ticket-holders will have to seek refunds from their credit or debit card providers.

Team Deer Shed announced the sizable discount on tickets for their event on Facebook on Friday, writing: "We're offering heavy discounts on #DeerShed9 adult tickets to those let down by the sad cancellation of Beverley Folk Festival. If you or anyone you know is struggling to get a refund [for that event], send proof of purchase and we will reply with a discount code [for our festival]".


Approved: Oh Maddie
Following on from their debut single 'Youth', which was released in February, Oh Maddie return with the song from which they take their name. More of a blues-heavy stomper than their debut, it confirms that the duo are off to a very strong start.

Lyrically, vocalist Ben Rowntree draws on his experiences as an orphan adopted from Romania following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 'Oh Maddie' continues a tendency towards pessimism about the modern world. Rowntree explains that that song is about "doubting yourself and everything that's good; doubting whether anything is even worth fighting, striving or bleeding for".

It's the first song taken from the duo's debut EP, which is set for release on 25 May. You can also catch them live at St Pancras Old Church in London on 10 May.

Watch the video for 'Oh Maddie' here.

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Abba record new music
Abba have recorded two new songs together, the first new music they have worked on as a group since they split in 1983.

The new songs have been recorded as the band prepare to tour in hologram form. One of the songs will be premiered during a TV performance to unveil the musicians' virtual selves later this year.

"The decision to go ahead with the exciting Abba avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence", say the group in a statement posted on Instagram. "We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did. And it was like time had stood still and that we only had been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!"

"It resulted in two new songs", they continued. "One of them, 'I Still Have Faith In You', will be performed by our digital selves in a TV special produced by NBC and the BBC aimed for broadcast in December". The statement concludes: "We may have come of age, but the song is new. And it feels good".

There have been many rumours of an Abba reunion over the years, but it was generally thought to be unlikely. Then, in 2016, they performed together (very briefly) for the first time in more than three decades at a party to mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting of songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. It was revealed later the same year that they were working on a new virtual reality project with Simon Fuller.


Janelle Monáe releases Dirty Computer film
With her new album 'Dirty Computer' now out, Janelle Monáe has also unveiled the promised "emotion picture" to go with it. The 45 minute film has been likened to an episode of 'Black Mirror'.

Although the album deviates from the sci-fi themes of her earlier work, the film sticks with them wholeheartedly. Monáe plays Jane 57821, a young woman living in a totalitarian near-future society where citizens are referred to as "computers". Actor Tessa Thompson co-stars, and the film was directed by Andrew Donoho and Chuck Lightning.

As well as the film itself, you can also watch an accompanying Q&A on YouTube now.


Suede announce album number eight
Suede have announced that they will release their eighth studio album, 'The Blue Hour', in September. The record is the follow-up to their 2016 LP, 'Night Thoughts', and their third since reforming in 2010.

The band say in a statement: "The 'blue hour' is the time of day when the light is fading and night is closing in. The songs hint at a narrative but never quite reveal it and never quite explain. But as with any Suede album, it's always about the songwriting. The band, the passion and the noise: 'The Blue Hour'".

Orchestral backing on the album comes from the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, with string arrangements by the band's Neil Codling and composer Craig Armstrong.

'The Blue Hour' is set for release on 21 Sep. Pre-ordering from the band's website will give pre-sale access to upcoming tour dates.


Poop! Poop! Kanye West releases new music
So, this whole thing between Kanye West and Hot 97.1 presenter Ebro Darden is still rumbling on. West has now released a new track trolling his new nemesis.

Last week, Darden said on his show that he'd had a conversation with West, who'd told him that he still loves Donald Trump. West then called in to the show the next day to respond, though simply said "I love you" in response to every question.

Then on Friday evening, the rapper tweeted: "I'm going to drop a song with a verse that will bring Ebro the closure he's been seeking". A new track, 'Lift Yourself', then emerged on his website.

Largely instrumental, West eventually announces, "What they don't really realise, though, this next verse, this next verse, though, these bars..."

He then raps: "Whoopedy-scoop, scoopdiddy-whoop, whoopdy-scoopdy-poop, poopdy-scoopdy scoopdy-whoop, whoopiddy-scoop poop poop, whoopdiddy-whoop-scoop. Poop! Poop! Scoopdiddy whoop, whoopdiddy scoop, whoopdiddy scoop poop".

What could it mean? I don't know, but I played it to a baby and he thought it was hilarious. Ebro tweeted that it was "all fun and games". I don't know if he played it to any babies though.

Later, West released another new song, 'Ye V The People'. The track features more coherent lyrics, with TI countering opinions put forward by West.

Both tracks may or may not appear on a new West album, which may or may not be called 'Love Everyone'. Its cover art may or may not also be a photograph of Jan Adams, the plastic surgeon who operated on the rapper's mother the day before she died.

Tweeting a screengrab of an iMessage conversation with collaborator Wes Lang, West says that he wants to use the image in order to "forgive and stop hating".

Asked for comment by The Blast, Adams reportedly said "it's a MacGuffin", referring to the movie term for an item that is inconsequential in itself but is used as a device to further the plot.


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
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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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