TODAY'S TOP STORY: It's not just Sony Music that has been busy off-loading its Spotify stock. During an earnings call yesterday, Warner Music confirmed it has now sold about 75% of the shares it secured via its original licensing deals with the market-leading streaming service... [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 Warner confirms it has cashed in $400 million of Spotify stock
LEGAL Dr Dre and Ice Cube again deny liability for 'Straight Outta Compton' death
SEC's demands to question Jay-Z turning into a "celebrity hunt"
Content Creators Coalition calls on Congress to question Google bosses
DEALS Marshall Records allies with Eleven Seven
LIVE BUSINESS New festival to launch promoting peace in Korea
ARTIST NEWS Nicki Minaj announces new album, Queen
AND FINALLY... Dr Dre not synonymous with sexual health, rules trademark court
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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]

Warner confirms it has cashed in $400 million of Spotify stock
It's not just Sony Music that has been busy off-loading its Spotify stock. During an earnings call yesterday, Warner Music confirmed it has now sold about 75% of the shares it secured via its original licensing deals with the market-leading streaming service.

All three majors and indie-label repping Merlin got shares in Spotify as part of those initial licensing deals. Spotify's direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange last month meant the record companies could now cash in their stock on said exchange, ensuring a nice little extra pay day from the streaming boom that has already taken their industry back into growth.

Sony sold some of its Spotify shares on the first day of trading, before confirming at the end of last month that it had now sold about half of its stock. In total, it has probably netted about $750 million from selling those shares. Meanwhile Warner has brought in about $400 million by selling nearly three quarters of its Spotify share-holding.

You might be wondering whether all this speedy offloading of Spotify stock suggests a degree of pessimism at the big music companies about the future of the company on which their own futures now rely. But please stop wondering that. Oh go on, please.

Warner Music top man Stephen Cooper said yesterday: "Just so there won't be any misinterpretation about the rationale for our decision to sell, let me be clear: We're a music company, and not, by our nature, long-term holders of publicly traded equity".

He went on: "This sale has nothing to do with our view of Spotify's future. We're hugely optimistic about the growth of subscription streaming, we know it has only just begun to fulfill its potential for global scale. We fully expect Spotify to continue to play a major role in that growth". So that's alright then.

Of course, for the wider music community, the big question around all this Spotify stock off-loading by the record companies is who will share in the profits beyond the labels and their shareholders. Most labels have committed to share the profits with their artists, and have come under pressure to also ensure any indie labels they distribute are cut in too.

Cooper reiterated Warner's commitment to share profits with artists yesterday, while also confirming that indie labels distributed by Warner's ADA services business should profit as well, though with a proviso on the latter commitment.

Added Cooper: "As we said, we'll share these proceeds [with artists] on the same basis as we share revenue from actual streams and so-called digital breakage. In addition, we will be sharing equity proceeds with distributed labels, if included in their agreements with us". Those last seven words are the proviso, by the way.

Having slipped last week following the publication of the firm's first quarterly financial report as a public company, Spotify's share price dropped further yesterday to $150. Which presumably means no labels will be keen to offload stock just at the moment, given the share price topped $170 at one point during Spotify's first month on the NYSE.

The current price also means CMU - proud owner of a single Spotify share - is currently $5.17 down on the deal. To be honest, I've now lost all hope in the streaming business.


Dr Dre and Ice Cube again deny liability for 'Straight Outta Compton' death
Producers of the 'Straight Outta Compton' film were in court again yesterday arguing why they - and Dr Dre and Ice Cube - should not be held liable for the death of Terry Carter in 2015. Carter was killed when one-time hip hop mogul Suge Knight ran him over after an altercation that occurred near the set of the NWA biopic.

Knight is still fighting murder charges in relation to that incident, but in June 2015 Carter's widow also filed civil proceedings against various people involved in the movie, including former NWA members Dre and Ice Cube.

That litigation noted that the altercation that led to the homicide began on the film set where a commercial for 'Straight Outta Compton' was being filmed. The lawsuit then alleged that the man her husband was with at the time of his death, Cle Sloan, had been hired by the film's makers to recruit local gang members to participate in the film shoot, as both extras and security.

Dre and Ice Cube were seemingly at the shoot as well, and it was the former who asked Sloan to remove Knight from the property after he showed up uninvited. It was that removal that subsequently led to the incident outside a burger bar a few miles away in which Carter was killed. The film's makers, and Dre and Ice Cube, should therefore accept some responsibility for Carter's death, the 2015 lawsuit concluded.

The following year Dre and Ice Cube successfully had themselves removed as defendants, arguing that they could not have been expected to foresee that their request that Knight be removed from the film set would "create undue risks for anyone, let alone Carter". The entire lawsuit was then subsequently dismissed.

However, legal reps for Carter's family are appealing that decision, with Dre and Ice Cube again listed as defendants, alongside the likes of Universal (the movie studio, rather than the record company).

According to Law360, when presenting his case to the appeals court, the Carters' lawyer focused on the allegation that it was negligent of the film's producers to involve Sloan in the movie project at all. He was, they said, a "notoriously violent" ex-gang member who had a personal history with Knight. Hiring him, the lawyers argue, created foreseeable danger, of which Carter was a victim.

The lawyer added that the film's producers should have instead done "what a normal business does, and contact the police or have regular, uniformed security".

Legal reps for the film's makers countered that there was simply no evidence that the defendants knew, or could have known, that the meeting between Knight, Sloan and Carter would turn violent. Therefore, they argue, the lower court was right to dismiss the proceedings. It remains to be seen if the appeal judges concur.


SEC's demands to question Jay-Z turning into a "celebrity hunt"
A lawyer working for Jay-Z has questioned whether an investigation by the US Securities & Exchange Commission into one of the rapper's business partners has become something of a "celebrity hunt" as they seek to force a testimony out of his client.

The SEC is investigating allegations that a company called Iconix - which has had an interest in Jay-Z's Rocawear fashion brand since 2007 - may have broken financial reporting rules. It has been trying to subpoena the rapper - aka Shawn Carter, for subpoena purposes - since last November, so to question him about his business partner.

For his part, Carter has been trying to avoid testifying about Iconix, insisting he has no knowledge of the company's finances or reporting practices, and therefore nothing of value to contribute to the SEC's investigation. Last week a US court told Carter that he must testify as to why he shouldn't be forced to testify.

In new legal papers filed yesterday, Carter's legal rep says his client is actually happy to answer the SEC's questions, but the issue is that investigators want unlimited time with the rapper. And he, let's not forget, is a very busy man. Very busy. Busy, busy, busy. For starters, he's got a 45 date world tour coming up.

Attorney Alex Spiro wrote in his court filing that his client has agreed to attend one day of questioning, but "the SEC continues to insist on meeting Mr Carter in person for an unlimited period of time".

Given Carter's limited knowledge of the company being investigated, Spiro continues: "The upshot imposes unreasonable burdens on Mr Carter and raises serious questions about whether this exercise has transcended any investigative purpose and crossed over into a celebrity hunt".

The SEC's top celebrity hunters - I mean legal reps - should respond to Spiro's arguments later today.


Content Creators Coalition calls on Congress to question Google bosses
American lobbying group the Content Creators Coalition, which has been particularly vocal in its criticism of Google and YouTube, has called on US Congress to question senior executives from the web giant, in much the same way they threw questions at Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg last month.

Zuckerberg was called to answer questions in Congress last month in response to the scandal around how Facebook user-date has been used by third parties. Though the fallout of Facebook's data scandal has put renewed pressure on all the social media and web giants over how they police content and data on their platforms. That wider debate commonly covers privacy issues, so called fake news and - of most interest to music industry lobbyists - copyright infringement.

While Facebook swam in the same safe harbours as Google as it grew the video side of its operation - only recently starting to sign licensing deals with the music companies whose songs and recordings appear in many of those videos - Google has generally felt more heat over its policing - or not - of copyright infringing content. And while the music industry's fiery relationship with Google's YouTube has generally got more column inches, concerns remain over Google search's role in helping to facilitate piracy.

Either way, the Content Creators Coalition - or C3 - reckons Google's top execs should have to follow Zuckerberg in answering questions in Congress. It adds that several of the Congressmen who questioning the Facebook boss noted that issues around data and content online were not restricting to his business.

To that end, C3 has launched a video campaign calling on Congress to question some senior Googlers. It said yesterday: "In the wake of Congressional hearings featuring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Content Creators Coalition today launched a digital ad asking Congress to investigate Google, beginning with hearings featuring similarly high-ranking executives".

It went on: "C3 believes that matters concerning members of Congress about Facebook are only more pronounced with regard to Google, and the Coalition has in the past highlighted how Google's abuse of its platform dominance has decimated the creative economy".

C3's video is online here.


Marshall Records allies with Eleven Seven
Marshall Amps has announced a deal with the Eleven Seven Label Group which will provide distribution services to the former's Marshall Records subsidiary worldwide.

"We at Marshall Records and throughout the wider Marshall family have always admired the great success of the Eleven Seven roster of artists", says Steve Tannett, Global Head of Marshall Records. "So this deal represents a great opportunity to join a winning team".

Eleven Seven COO Steve Kline adds: "From radio and licensing, to publicity and marketing, Eleven Seven continues to set the pace for rock and independent music worldwide. As we continue to expand the label group both sonically and operationally in 2018, we are delighted to welcome Marshall Records to the E7 family".

The first releases under the deal are two singles from rock duo Rews, 'Miss You In The Dark' and 'Shake Shake', taken from their 2017 album 'Pyro'.


New festival to launch promoting peace in Korea
A new music festival in South Korea was formally unveiled last week, featuring a variety of Korean and international acts. The DMZ Peace Train Music Festival will be the largest music event ever to be held within view of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

Co-founded by the Governor of Gangwon Province - where the event will take place - and the University Of Seoul, the event aims to promote peace and the uniting power of music. An international advisory board advising the event includes Great Escape co-founder and Glastonbury booker Martin Elbourne, artist manager Stephen Budd, Cooking Vinyl founder Martin Goldschmidt, Music Glue's Mark Meharry and Sound Diplomacy's Shain Shapiro.

Korean acts confirmed to play the two day festival on 23 and 24 Jun include: Jambinai, Crying Nut, Galaxy Express, Billy Carter, Say Sue Me, SsingSsing and Idiotape. International acts include: Vaudou Game form France, Colonel Mustard And The Dijon 5 from Scotland, Mitsume from Japan, No Party For Caodong from Taiwan and Zenobia from Palestine.

In addition to this, Sound Diplomacy will host a conference in Seoul dedicated to the role of music in conflict resolution on 21 Jun. It will be free to all attendees of the festival.

More information at the DM Peace Train website here.


Approved: A Way From Home
It's been a while since we've had a podcast recommendation in this slot. In fact, it's entirely possible that the last one was radio presenter Jon Hillock's previous effort, All Back No Front. Two years on from the last episode of that show, he returns with a new one that puts a new twist on both music recommendation and interview shows, A Way From Home.

As the name suggests, this new show is about getting away from what you know. In part it's about listening to music differently. On each episode, he leaves his own house and heads off to someone else's. There he listens to tracks from their record collection on their stereo, as well as playing them a few recommendations of his own.

The back and forth of this hits on something really interesting. It's not like a radio presenter playing music to you (although, ironically, most of the episodes so far are a radio presenter interviewing a radio presenter). There's something more personal about it, quite likely due to the guests being on such familiar territory.

Conversation flows naturally too. Talk of records being played shifts to hopes, fears and ideas on life, without the usual contrived atmosphere of an interview. It's a genuine conversation, which leads to a higher proportion of 'holy shit, I thought I was the only person who thought that' moments per episode.

This links nicely to CALM, the charity with which the show is associated. The Campaign Against Living Miserably works to reduce male suicide, particularly by encouraging men to speak to people about their feelings.

Guests on A Way From Home so far are radio presenters Tom Ravenscroft and Nick Luscombe, and former Soul Jazz A&R Nicole Mckenzie. You can listen to all three, plus an introductory episode more fully explaining the premise, through your podcast app of choice, or with full tracks on Mixcloud.

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

Nicki Minaj announces new album, Queen
Nicki Minaj has announced that she will release a new album, titled 'Queen', next month. The rapper confirmed the follow-up to 2014's 'The Pinkprint' on the red carpet at yesterday's Met Gala in New York,

"It's a big night for me", she said, according to Rolling Stone. "Because I just let the world know that my album is coming 15 Jun and it's called 'Queen', and I can't wait. I'm dressed like a queen every day, all day".

Last month, Minaj released two new tracks, 'Barbie Tingz' and 'Chun-Li'. A documentary about the making of 'Queen' is also in the works.


Dr Dre not synonymous with sexual health, rules trademark court
Dr Dre has failed to block a trademark application due to his lack of success in the field of gynaecology.

Obstetrician-gynaecologist and media personality Draion M Burch applied to trademark his nickname, Dr Drai, in the US in 2015. He has already published a number of books and videos, as well as running a YouTube channel, under the name. Although the trademark application was specifically aiming to register the moniker in relation to the provision of healthcare and motivational speaking.

Dr Dre quickly objected on the grounds that their two names both look and sound similar. However, trademark law usually allows similar marks to be registered when they are associated with different sectors. The US Trademark Trial & Appeal Board has now ruled in Burch's favour, saying that the fields the two men operate in are too different. I think you can insert your own joke about the similarities between the music industry and the gynaecology profession here.

"Obstetrics and gynaecology are a subject matter which is obviously far removed from music", wrote lead judge Cheryl S Goodman. "Although the similarity of the marks and the strength of the mark favour [Dr Dre], these factors are outweighed by the differences in the goods and services".

That's all well and good, but what if - similar to that trademark dispute between the Wu-Tang Clan and dog walking business the Woof-Tang Clan - Dr Dre is concerned that people might think he's starting up his own gynaecology business once they start hearing about Dr Drai's products and events? Might that be a thing that people might think? No, says the judging panel.

Goodman writes: "Although opposer has established that his name Dr Dre is of sufficient fame or reputation, he has failed to show that a connection would be presumed in the mind of the consuming public when applicant's Dr Drai marks are used in connection with its applied-for goods and services".

Dr Dre still has the option to appeal. If he wants to improve his chances, maybe he should start sticking bananas through his Y-fronts, like Dr Drai.


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.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
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.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
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.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
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.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
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