TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify's share price took a hit yesterday as the streaming music firm published its first quarterly financial report as a publicly listed company. Even though most of the figures contained in said report were pretty much in line with expectations, based on statements made by Spotify in the run to the firm's direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange last month. The company's CFO reckons investors just weren't paying attention... [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 Spotify share price dips 9% on back of first quarterly report
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Music rights data start-up confirms pilot with Warner, BMG, Sentric and GMR
BRANDS & MERCH Petition calls on Adidas to cut ties with Kanye West
Miley Cyrus creates glittery clothes for all with Converse
MEDIA Roc Nation launches TV division
Gorillaz launch new podcast with Deezer
ARTIST NEWS George Michael's family ask fans to remove tributes from musician's homes
RELEASES Maribou State return with new single, Turnmills
ONE LINERS Lil Wayne, MelodyVR, BandPage, more
AND FINALLY... Arctic Monkey's Alex Turner says anti-beard petition "amuses" him
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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]

Spotify share price dips 9% on back of first quarterly report
Spotify's share price took a hit yesterday as the streaming music firm published its first quarterly financial report as a publicly listed company. Even though most of the figures contained in said report were pretty much in line with expectations, based on statements made by Spotify in the run to the firm's direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange last month. The company's CFO reckons investors just weren't paying attention.

According to the quarterly report, net sales were up 26% year-on-year for the first quarter of 2017, though they were down slightly on the previous quarter. That was a result of a 22% dip in ad income, which can possibly - in part at least - be explained by the seasonable ups and downs of the ad market: there's always more ad spend in the Christmas quarter.

Ahead of its arrival on the NYSE, Spotify did try to put a positive spin on the revenue-generating potential of its loss-leading really-all-about-the-upsell free service - a service it enhanced last week, of course - which might make investors nervous when they see that side of the business under-perform.

However, the real money in streaming is in premium subscriptions. There were 75 million paying subscribers by the end of the quarter, a 45% increase on the same period a year ago. In terms of subscription revenue, that was up 2% quarter-on-quarter to 1.04 billion euros.

Of course, another reason for concern among investors is that Spotify - like all streaming music companies - is currently loss-making. Although Spotify was clear that that would be the case for a while yet as it continues to grow the business. Streaming is a scale game, and Spotify's aim is to get to the level of scale where the whole thing starts to become profitable.

Nevertheless, among the concerns expressed by Wall Street types are the level of losses, the pace of growth, and the financial value of each subscriber.

Some are concerned that Spotify's pretty impressive premium subscriber growth numbers are being achieved through heavy discounting, reducing the value of each customer. Other more US-centric investors worry about how the service is competing in their home market, where rivals Apple and Amazon are particularly strong and therefore Spotify subscriber growth is generally slower.

All of which might have contributed to an almost 9% drop in Spotify's share price in after-hours trading following the release of yesterday's financial report. Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy told the Financial Times that there were no surprises in said report, and that the share price wobble was likely the result of the market having got slightly ahead of itself when the firm listed. That is quite common with much hyped tech start-ups.

The FT quote McCarthy as saying: "It was a no-surprise quarter that turned into a surprise for the market. I don't know what I would have done differently, except scream in a louder voice: 'We're going to do what we said we would'".

He added that the streaming music firm was pretty much happy with the outcome of its stock market listing. He went on: "We thought there was a risk sellside analysts would ignore the stock. We thought success would be if fifteen analysts followed the stock after three months, and we have 20 analysts covering it already. Volatility has been terrific, liquidity has been good. In hindsight, all of what we hoped to accomplish, happened".

Which is all great Barry, but CMU's single Spotify share is now worth pretty much what we paid for it on the first day of trading. This time yesterday we were up $9.71 on the deal. And I had such big plans for how we were going to spend that $9.71!


Music rights data start-up confirms pilot with Warner, BMG, Sentric and GMR
London-based JAAK - a start-up business seeking to address the music industry's big data problem with a funky blockchain solution - has announced that a pilot project is underway involving a bunch of music rights owners, including Warner, BMG, Sentric and US collecting society Global Music Rights. It will soon be looking to collaborate with other music companies as it further expands the pilot platform.

JAAK is seeking to faciliate the building of the as yet elusive publicly-accessible global database of music rights information that would make it easier to identify who controls the copyright in any one song or recording.

The lack of such a database has created huge issues and inefficiencies in the licensing of streaming services and the processing of digital royalties, meaning monies may go uncollected or be paid to the wrong people. A decent database of this kind would also open up new opportunities in sync and micro-licensing.

JAAK is building its database - using its proprietary technology KORD - on the much discussed and occasionally understood blockchain - the Ethereum blockchain to be precise. Given the many sources of music rights data, often in relation to single songs, it reckons that a blockchain solution - as opposed to a single central database sitting on one entity's server - is a better way of tackling the music industry's big data problem.

Various other organisations - including start-ups, collecting societies and music companies - have also been trying to address these data issues. The challenge for start-ups in this space is accessing initial music rights data to populate their networks. Hence why JAAK securing partnerships with the likes of BMG, Warner, Sentric, GMR and others is so important.

In JAAK's own words, by using KORD "users will be connected to a shared data network where they have the sole authority to insert, update and remove their own information, creating a public record of rights and an immutable audit trail. KORD will include a framework to detect conflicting information in the network, allowing users to resolve conflicts and converge on a global view of intellectual property rights".

JAAK CEO Vaughn McKenzie-Landell says of the pilot project of his KORD system: "We have developed the pilot in collaboration with the music industry to directly address their needs. The goal of KORD is to harness blockchain technology to make the world of IP rights better for everyone, starting with the music industry. We'd like to thank our pilot participants for their continued support and valuable insight".

Both the Warner record company and the Warner/Chappell music publishing business are involved in the pilot. EVP Global Operations of the latter, Steve Clark, said: "Warner/Chappell is committed to ensuring our songwriters are paid as quickly, accurately and transparently as possible. We've invested heavily in our own systems, but we've also worked with pioneering partners, such as JAAK, to help us keep at the cutting edge of technology in this area. The pilot is going well and we look forward to continued collaboration to harness blockchain technology to the service of our songwriters".

Meanwhile BMG's CTO Sebastian Hentzschel added: "Metadata is the lifeblood of today's music business. From studios to streaming sites, a clearer picture of recordings and copyrights could yield untapped benefits for artists and writers - and JAAK is pushing an exciting frontier".

And Sean O'Malley over at collecting society Global Music Rights chipped in: "Regardless of format, Global Music Rights is committed to clear and concise intellectual property metadata, especially the information surrounding licensing and rights ownership. KORD is technology that enables stewards like us to collaborate on the dynamic picture of every song and ensure the correct writers and publishers are accurately and efficiently compensated".


Petition calls on Adidas to cut ties with Kanye West
A petition has been launched calling on Adidas to end its partnership with Kanye West on his Yeezy fashion brand, following the rapper's controversial comments on slavery earlier this week.

During an interview on TMZ Live, West said that the fact African slavery in the US had lasted for 400 years made it sound "like a choice" on the part of the slaves.

West moved his Yeezy brand to Adidas in 2013, but now, the petition suggests, the "company may wish to rethink their lucrative deal with West after his jaw-dropping outburst".

"For most Americans, no matter what colour you are, Kanye's diatribe on slavery was the last straw", says the petition. "As many in the media have pointed out, West's words are not only wrong, they are dangerous".

Noting increased tensions in the US under the presidency of Donald Trump - who West has repeatedly stated his support for in recent weeks - it adds: "While Kanye can live safely in his multi-million dollar castle, the rest of black America is continually marginalised and subject to unjust laws and treatment. Some even die because this behaviour is so ingrained in our society".

So far, around 3500 people have signed the petition. Adidas has not as yet responded.


Miley Cyrus creates glittery clothes for all with Converse
Miley Cyrus has launched a new range of shoes, clothes and accessories with Converse, which the company says are aimed at "all ages and genders". I just had a look with a view to buying some for myself and have decided to dispute that claim.

The company presses on, saying that the items are "all designed for embracing your individuality - with glitter". I'm not sure glitter is actually the definition of individuality, but I guess I'll give it a go if I have to.

Anyway, that's all the corporate copy. Maybe Cyrus herself will make a better job of getting me to part with my money by talking up her fashionable dabblings.

"No age, no gender, no sex - I wanted everyone to feel included", she says. "Converse has no boundaries. It's outspoken. I've always identified with Converse because the brand appeals to and represents so many different cultures and walks of life. And they're accessible. I definitely had my fans in mind and in my heart when I was creating. I put what they love about me and what I love about them into the design".

I think I'm just going to stick to wearing the black and white Converse All-Star shoes that have become my trademark. You know about those being my trademark, yeah? I thought everyone knew. Totally my trademark. That's all I ever wear. And that's nothing to do with me being too lazy to try on other shoes.

Anyway, you can look at and feel included by all of Miley's new stuff here.


Roc Nation launches TV division
Jay-Z's Roc Nation business has announced the launch of a new TV division, building on the firm's existing film and telly projects. It will be headed up by Patrick Reardon, who joins from the troubled Weinstein Company.

Taking the job title EVP Scripted And Unscripted Television (which could surely just be EVP Television?), Reardon will oversee the development of new projects, including a reportedly already in development unscripted series for Amazon.

"Roc Nation is such an influential and dynamic company", says Reardon. "I'm THRILLED to have the opportunity to work with them as they expand their brand into television".

Existing Roc Nation television projects include documentary series 'Time: The Kalief Browder Story' and the recently premiered 'Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story'.


Gorillaz launch new podcast with Deezer
Deezer has announced the launch of a new original podcast in collaboration with Gorillaz, titled 'Things I Like'. The seven part series will be presented by the virtual band's drummer Russel Hobbs, who will speak to a number of the outfit's collaborators.

The first two episodes went live last night. The first sees Hobbs go back in time with De La Soul's Posdnuos to give advice to his younger self. In the second, he plans the perfect dinner in the afterlife with Savages' Jehnny Beth.

"'Things I Like' is a chance to hear the Humanz behind the voices, the shadows behind the thoughts on the record", says Hobbs. "I wanted to connect the dots, to shine a light into those shadows, but also to have dinner with my favourite people. Cos I love eating and people... in that order".

Other episodes will feature Peven Everett, Little Simz, Pauline Black, Cheick Tidiane Seck and Gabriel Wallace.

The show is available in all the places you usually find podcasts, plus the Gorillaz app.


Approved: Tallsaint
Singer-songwriter Louisa Osborn recently made her debut as Tallsaint with the single 'I'm A Woman (After All)'. Whereas her previous projects have been mainly guitar-based, this sees her working with electronic sounds, a shift that she seems to have jumped into like a natural.

"It's basically a dance track", she says. "I've never worked with those sorts of textures and sounds before. I had a poem that I'd been working on around the same time that became the lyrics. Mainly written for a cathartic release, it started out about being fed up of people second-guessing me, not just in music and situations related, but also in domestic environments. If I looked a certain way, perhaps sans make-up, I was getting confused when people would assume the way I was feeling".

Her vocal delivery belies the anger in the lyrics, and the juxtaposition of the two provide a strong pull into her world. She makes her live debut at Live At Leeds this Friday. In the meantime, listen to 'I'm A Woman (After All)' here.

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

George Michael's family ask fans to remove tributes from musician's homes
The family of George Michael have asked fans to stop leaving tributes outside the musician's homes in London and Oxfordshire, and to remove any tributes that have been recently placed there.

Said tributes continue to be placed outside the star's former properties more than a year after his death on Christmas Day 2016. Saying that they were "touched" by the items left by fans, the family added that they "know [George] would not want to disturb or change the quiet neighbourhoods he so loved".

The statement on Michael's official website says: "We've been touched by your many tributes celebrating and remembering [George], reminding us how very much he is missed and loved. However, we feel we cannot expect our Highgate and Goring neighbours to continue to accept as normality the memorials, so personal to you all, to remain as and where they are any longer, although we do appreciate your recent efforts to minimise their impact".

"[George] liked his privacy", they add. "His homes were true havens for him and, ultimately, long term, we know he would not want to disturb or change the quiet neighbourhoods he so loved, for the people in the local area, who honestly, despite reports otherwise, have been gracious and very understanding".

The family ask that items be removed by 27 May. Any left after this date, they add, will be taken away and kept elsewhere. Attempting to dissuade new tributes, they ask that fans donate money to charity instead.


Maribou State return with new single, Turnmills
Maribou State have returned with their first new music since 2015. New single 'Turnmills' is named after the London club that closed ten years ago, and sees them team up with the Night Time Industries Association's #SaveNightlife campaign.

"Turnmills was where we first experienced electronic music in a club setting", says the duo's Liam Ivory. "It's a totally different and transformative listening experience and that communal spirit, atmosphere and feeling has inspired the way we've made music. Clubs are such important hubs for music discovery, especially of songs that you might have overlooked in a different setting. Partly through the feeling in the room and also through the memories attached to the records you hear".

His bandmate Chris Davids continues: "We wrote 'Turnmills' the day after a Dama Dama label party at the East London club Shapes (shut down in 2016). Our studio is housed in the same building actually... Anyway the vibe of the night brought back memories of our formative clubbing experiences and that energy ended up being channelled straight back into the studio the next day".

The duo will perform at one of their favourite clubs, Corsica Studios in London, on 17 May, donating proceeds from tickets to the #Savenightlife campaign. Tickets go on sale through Dice tomorrow.

Listen to 'Turnmills' here.


Lil Wayne, MelodyVR, BandPage, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Get a daily news summary, our latest job ads and more via our Messenger bot. Click here to get started.

• Lil Wayne has signed a new deal with talent agency CAA, according to Billboard.

• Drahla have signed to Captured Tracks. The label will re-package their two singles and EP as one release, titled 'A Compact Cassette', on 18 May.

• Sony/ATV has extended its worldwide deal with songwriter Geoff Warburton, best known for his work with Shawn Mendes. Apparently. "We are very excited", says Sony/ATV US co-president Danny Strick. "We're so happy", says Senior Director A&R Clio Massey. "I'm so THRILLED", says Warburton.

• MelodyVR's virtual reality music platform is now live, in an official sense, in the UK and US. "As an artist you're always trying to break down the barrier between you and your fans", says that Niall Horan, one of the company's early adopters. "MelodyVR takes this to a whole new level".

• The latest round of Music Export Growth Scheme funding has been dished out. A total of 20 British artists have received funding of just under £295,000 between them. They are Blanco White, Dream Wife, Editors, Emma Gatrill, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Gavin James, George Fitzgerald, Heavyball, Jones, Kelly Lee Owens, Let's Eat Grandma, Mic Lowry, Nina Nesbitt, Novo Amor, Otzeki, Paul Draper, Ry X, Shame, The Spitfires and Gemini.

• YouTube will finally shutdown the BandPage service it acquired in 2016 at the end of the month. In a statement, the company said that it had made the decision in order "to fully focus on developing the Official Artist Channel programme".

• Plan B has released new track 'It's A War'. His new album, 'Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose', is out this Friday.

• The Fin have released new track 'Missing'. Their debut album, 'There', is set for release on 8 Jun, and they will play a launch show in London at Thousand Island the same day.

• Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa have released the video for their single 'One Kiss'.

• Troye Sivan is back with new single 'Bloom'.

• Snow Patrol have released new track 'What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get?'

• Peace are back with their new album this week, and with less than 24 hours to go before its release they've put out another single. Here's 'You Don't Walk Away From Love'.

• Braids are back with two new tracks. Two! They are called 'Collarbones' and 'Burdock & Dandelion'. The incorrect ordering of the name of that drink has really ruined my day.

• Blood Orange has announced that he will play the Shepherds Bush Empire in London on 29 Oct. He recently released two new songs, 'Christopher & 6th' and 'June 12th'.

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


Arctic Monkey's Alex Turner says anti-beard petition "amuses" him
A few months ago, it became public knowledge that Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner had grown a bit of a beard. Promptly a petition was launched calling for him to shave it off. So far he has refused. Not least because he was unaware of the protestations.

Almost 3000 people have signed the petition, which states: "The beard is ultimately to Mr Turner's detriment. Visually unappealing, its ginger colour strikes you - and not in a good way - contrasting with his famously deep brown hair and eyes. Genetics gave him many opportunities in this life, an iconic signing voice, facial structure that could cut a man. They did not, however, give him the opportunity to look good with a beard. Or even to properly grow one. But God loves a trier and so he tried, and I'm not too sure if he knows how miserable the visual result is".

German website Intro felt the beard debate to be such a pressing matter that it was the first thing it asked Turner about in an interview this week. Would he be complying with the petition's demands?

"There's a petition? I had no idea", he replied. "That amuses me. It's really crazy that people are so interested in hairstyles and stuff".

So I'd say that's inconclusive. You can keep the pressure up by signing the petition (which I'm sure he's now paying close attention to) here.


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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