TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify will no longer playlist or actively push R Kelly's music on its platform as part of a new policy relating to what it calls 'hate content' and 'hateful conduct'. The decision comes amid the increasingly proactive #MuteRKelly campaign, which is urging various music industry entities to cut their ties with the musician in response to the plethora of allegations of sexual abuse that have been made against him over the years... [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 to stop playlisting R Kelly as new policy on hate content is published
LEGAL Beefed up Music Modernization Act arrives in US Senate
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Snapper Music changes ownership in management buyout
Modern Sky builds studio complex to entice British producers to China
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU's guide to Thursday at the Great Escape Convention
ARTIST NEWS Body discovered during search for Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchinson
RELEASES Justice announce new live studio album
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #403: Brexit v Eurovision
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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 to stop playlisting R Kelly as new policy on hate content is published
Spotify will no longer playlist or actively push R Kelly's music on its platform as part of a new policy relating to what it calls 'hate content' and 'hateful conduct'. The decision comes amid the increasingly proactive #MuteRKelly campaign, which is urging various music industry entities to cut their ties with the musician in response to the plethora of allegations of sexual abuse that have been made against him over the years.

Spotify unveiled its new policy on hate content and hateful conduct yesterday. At its most basic, the new policy will seek to target music that "expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability".

Where tracks are deemed to breach that policy Spotify will decline to playlist or actively promote the music. In more serious circumstances it might remove the tracks from its platform entirely, albeit - Spotify says - "in consultation with rightsholders".

Of course, policing music in this way can be a tricky business. While some will welcome Spotify making a stand against music that seems to communicate a hateful message, others will express free speech concerns, and may ultimately accuse the streaming platform of censorship. Especially if tracks are removed entirely, rather than just being banned from the service's own playlists.

One challenge is where you draw the line between lyrics that are offensive (to some) and lyrics that are actually hateful. Spotify acknowledged this challenge when launching its new policy yesterday, stating: "It's important to remember that cultural standards and sensitivities vary widely. There will always be content that is acceptable in some circumstances, but is offensive in others, and we will always look at the entire context".

Spotify plans to outsource some of this tricky line drawing and decision making by partnering with various rights advocacy groups to identify hateful content, including The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Anti-Defamation League, Color Of Change, Showing Up For Racial Justice, GLAAD, Muslim Advocates and the International Network Against Cyber Hate. Though free speech activists may still be critical.

Of course, radio stations have had to deal with what to do about hateful and offensive records for decades. Although as most radio stations only tend to play a relatively small selection of music, the problem has only really come up when a controversial track becomes a hit. Spotify is dealing with a much bigger pool of music.

Indeed, with so much music on its platform, and a flood of new tracks being uploaded all the time, one challenge for Spotify is spotting the controversial tracks in the first place. To that end, the company added yesterday: "[We have] also built an internal content monitoring tool, Spotify AudioWatch, which identifies content on our platform that has been flagged as hate content on specific international registers. And we listen to our users - if you think something is hate content, please let us know".

R Kelly falls foul not of the new policy on hate content but of the new policy on hateful conduct. Spotify goes on: "We've also thought long and hard about how to handle content that is not hate content itself, but is principally made by artists or other creators who have demonstrated hateful conduct personally".

It then says: "While we don't believe in censoring content because of an artist's or creator's behavior, we want our editorial decisions - what we choose to programme - to reflect our values. So, in some circumstances, when an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful - for example, violence against children and sexual violence - it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator".

Spotify subsequently confirmed to BBC Newsbeat that as a result of that new policy "we are removing R Kelly's music from all Spotify-owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations, such as Discover Weekly".

Numerous sexual abuse allegations have been made against Kelly over the years, including accusations involving underage girls. He has always denied any wrongdoing though, and - when specifically charged over claims he had filmed the sexual abuse of an underage girl - he was acquitted in 2008.

However, the musician has nevertheless been on the receiving end of many civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse, most of which have been settled out of court. American journalist Jim DeRogatis has been prolific in documenting the various accusations and litigation, most recently in a piece for Buzzfeed last year, while a recent Rolling Stone article and BBC Three documentary also put the spotlight on claims made against the star.

The resulting #MuteRKelly campaign has gained quite a bit of momentum in recent weeks, and was recently backed by the Women Of Color group within Time's Up, the entertainment industry-led initiative that is demanding proactive measures to stop sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace.

When that happened Kelly again denied all the allegations made against him and hit out at his critics. A statement from the musician's camp said: "We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices".

It went on: "Time's Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R Kelly's support, and it has rushed to judgement without the facts. Soon it will become clear Mr Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time".


Beefed up Music Modernization Act arrives in US Senate
The Music Modernization Act that not even one of you is bored of reading about yet has been introduced into the US Senate by Senator Orrin Hatch.

This latest development requires bosses at all the American music industry trade bodies and collecting societies to find yet another way of saying they support these proposals. Given they'll be required to issue another round of quotes if and when Senate approves this bill, I reckon they should all start work on that now, with the aim of each organisation welcoming the new laws in the form of a limerick.

Anyway, the Music Modernization Act, as you all surely remember, having read every single word we've written about it avidly, originally sought to fix the mechanical rights mess that has dogged the streaming music sector in America. It will do this by copying how the so called mechanical rights in songs are managed in every other country in the world. What a bold and innovative move!

That plan is still at the heart of the MMA, but a revamped and beefed up version of the legislation was unveiled last month which also included elements of other music copyright proposals that have been doing the rounds in Washington of late. Perhaps most important of those is the move to fix the pre-1972 technicality in American copyright law which is [a] stupid, [b] short-changed legacy artists in the online radio domain and [c] led to lots of tedious and tiring litigation.

The people behind the MMA have sought to get as much consensus behind the proposals as possible, from across the music industry and also the digital music sector. This has meant ensuring all stakeholders benefit in some way.

It has also meant not including the one big music copyright proposal that has been doing rounds in Washington for years now, ie forcing AM/FM radio stations in America to pay royalties to artists and labels, like their counterparts in other countries do. Presumably the MMA's authors recognised that, with a powerful broadcast lobby in the US, including those proposals would scupper the whole project.

There are still some critics of the MMA in the music community, though groups representing artists, labels, publishers and songwriters have all come out in favour. Coupled with the legislation having cross-party support in Congress, that helped speed the proposals through the House Of Representatives, which passed the bill last month. There could be more scrutiny in Senate, though the MMA's backers are still hoping to get the measures through the law-making process super fast.

Formally introducing the expanded MMA into Senate yesterday, the aforementioned Hatch said: "Today's introduction is an important step toward enacting historic reform for our badly outdated music laws".

He went on: "For far too long, our old-fashioned, disorganised way of collecting and distributing music royalties has resulted in songwriters and other content creators being paid far too little for their work. It's also exposed digital music companies to significant liability and created overall uncertainty in the music marketplace. As a songwriter myself, I know how important these issues are. That's why I'm so pleased we're taking this significant step today to bring fairness and certainty to our music laws".

With the embarrassing and total lack of limericks being issued by the music industry in relation to this latest MMA development, here are some tedious quotes that I've cut and pasted from some press releases so that you can all ignore them. But before you all starting the ignoring, let's acknowledge my champion cutting and pasting efforts. And hey, how good are those limericks going to be? I reckon David Israelite's will be the best.

NMPA CEO David Israelite: "The introduction of the Music Modernization Act package in the Senate is a massive step forward for songwriters. [The senators endorsing the bill] have done music creators a great service by sponsoring a music licensing package which will help not only songwriters and composers but also producers and legacy artists. The bill improves both how and how much songwriters are paid while increasing transparency and enabling digital music platforms to thrive. The MMA represents unprecedented consensus around necessary updates to how music creators are valued, and we look forward to seeing it become law".

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews: "After a unanimous vote to pass the MMA in the House, we are THRILLED to see such ardent, bi-partisan support for music creators in the Senate. This legislation is critical to ensuring songwriters have a pathway to fair compensation so they can sustain their livelihoods and create the next great songs. We applaud the leadership of fellow songwriter Senator Hatch ... for spearheading this effort in the Senate. We look forward to the Senate's vote and eventual passage of the MMA".

musicFIRST Executive Director Chris Israel: "Today's introduction of the Music Modernization Act follows the House's unanimous passage of similar legislation and demonstrates that we are one step closer to enacting once-in-a-generation legislation that will bring old laws into the digital age and treat music creators fairly. The comprehensive approach taken in this bill for updating federal copyright law enjoys broad support in Congress and throughout the entire music industry. We applaud this bipartisan group of Senators for introducing this legislation benefiting music creators, services and fans and look forward to its swift consideration and passage in the coming weeks".

Nashville Songwriters Association International president Steve Bogard: "The Music Modernization Act ... will create the most comprehensive and important copyright reform package the United States Senate has considered in decades. [It] gives songwriters, artists and music producers essential tools to achieve fair marketplace royalty rates in the digital era".

SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe: "On behalf of the 150,000+ music creators represented by SoundExchange, we are grateful to Senator Hatch for building this consensus legislative package that will benefit the entire music ecosystem. Taken together, the elements of this legislation will strengthen and protect the rights and interests of creators - the artists, songwriters and producers whose music enriches our lives - and it will improve engagement between the creative community and the digital services whose businesses rely on their work. We look forward to working with the sponsors and the entire community of stakeholders that built accord on this package to make it law".


Snapper Music changes ownership in management buyout
Independent record company Snapper Music is under new ownership, following a management buyout by Frederick Jude.

Originally founded in 1996, the company was bought out by music publisher Bryan Morrison in 2004, and has been majority owned by his estate since his death in 2008. Jude has been Managing Director of the company since 2005, and will continue to oversee the business as its owner.

"After 21 years at Snapper and MD for the last thirteen years, I'm truly excited and re-energised to have become the majority shareholder of The Snapper Group", says Jude. "At Snapper we're continuing to evolve and move with the differing ways people consume music - building on specialist music genres with the Kscope and Peaceville labels and successfully elevating some of our artists to the top of those genres".

He adds: "We maintain a family feel with our artists, for many of whom we have their entire catalogue or majority recording history. Our heart is firmly in beautiful, physical packages and we're continuing to learn how best to use today's digital marketing tools to encourage fans to become aware and listen to music from our 12,000+ song catalogue. That's not to say it's been easy. Over the years at Snapper, there have been challenging times with a number of major retailers and distributors disappearing".

Upcoming releases from Snapper and its various imprints include albums from The Anchoress, The Pineapple Thief and Bloodbath, as well as a 21st anniversary edition Mansun's 'Attack Of The Grey Lantern'.


Modern Sky builds studio complex to entice British producers to China
Chinese music company Modern Sky Entertainment has set up a new studio complex in Beijing, with the aim of tempting British producers out to use it and work with domestic artists.

Modern Sky already has interests in the UK, starting when it took a stake in Liverpool showcase festival Sound City in 2016. The company's UK office is also headed up by Sound City founder Dave Pichilingi.

The new studio complex features four recording rooms and three control rooms. It also uses the same systems available in Abbey Road, AIR and Capitol Studios, ensuring the experienced producers will already be familiar with the tech on offer.

The get things moving, Modern Sky has partnered with management company Stephen Budd Music to tap into its roster of award-winning producers. They will be assisted by the in-house recording team of Chen Dong, Wang Haichen and Zang Lu.

"We are delighted to be cooperating with an innovative music company like Modern Sky", says Stephen Budd. "They have an important influence in China and the international market. I am looking forward to the next step of my work career".

Pichilingi adds: "The UK has some of the best music producers in the world, and this partnership between Modern Sky and Stephen Budd Music is the latest example of Modern Sky combining its reputation and influence in China with talent from leading western markets. The collaboration, alongside its label branches in the UK and US, bolsters Modern Sky's truly international outlook".

Pragmatic but optimistic, Modern Sky founder Lihui Shen says: "If you look at the studio from a static point, this may not seem like a rational investment. But, looking to the future, we see this as the most fundamental aspect of the modern entertainment industry. As our lives get faster, it's important that we remember to slow down and return to the content itself to ensure its quality".

We'll be discussing the present state of the Chinese music industry and opportunities for British talent and businesses there at CMU Insights' China Conference at The Great Escape next Friday, in association with BPI. Included among the speakers is Modern Sky label manager Sam Caunce, who will discuss the prolific live side of the company's business.


CMU's guide to Thursday at the Great Escape Convention
As The Great Escape comes well and truly into view, the CMU Daily will guide you through the wider convention programme day-by-day. Today: Thursday's activities.

CMU Insights takes over Dukes at Komedia from 10am for another full-day conference on the Thursday of TGE this year, this one being our AI Conference. Over the day we will explore and debate the technologies most likely to impact on the business of music in the year ahead.

Along the way we'll look in on the audio-recognition technology being used online, in clubs and venues, and in the broadcast domain. We'll showcase technology that is helping labels and artists take the fan conversation onto the messaging apps. We'll talk about innovative uses of data being used to power gig recommendations and talent scouting. And we'll consider the machines that are composing music and ask whether they might replace humans as the pop writers of the future.

In addition to the AI Conference, CMU will also host one of the headline in-conversations of the convention at 4.15pm on Thursday with Kobalt founder and CEO Willard Ahdritz, also in Dukes. He will discuss the Kobalt journey to date, and where he sees his business, and the business of music, heading next.

While all this is going on, CMU Editor Andy Malt will be in Dukes 2 doing extra interviews with our panelists that will be podcast by Setlist later in the year. The Setlist interviews take place from midday to 4pm.

In addition to the CMU sessions, lots of other TGE industry partners are hosting panels and events on Thursday. In The Old Courtroom Julie's Bicycle returns with The Green Escape with the focus on making the music industry more environmentally friendly, there are panels from Urban Development and PRS Foundation's Keychange initiative, plus BBC Music presents the first of its in-conversations, with XL boss Richard Russell.

Meanwhile, AIM House opens for business for the very first time at the Queens Hotel with panels and networking sessions galore, and there are plenty of other networking meetings and delegate parties to choose from too.

To access all this you need a TGE delegate or convention pass. Meanwhile, check out guide to Wednesday at the TGE Convention here, and look out for CMU's guide to Friday and Saturday at the TGE Convention early next week.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Detroit Swindle at Phonox
Dutch duo and Heist Recordings head honchos Detroit Swindle are over to headline the second of Phonox's Parallel series of nights running throughout May.

Coming together in 2011, Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets quickly became known as both great producers (with an in-demand schedule for remixes) and proper crate-digging DJs. Never sticking to one genre, a set can quickly move between classic house, obscure disco or African funk, and beyond.

Worldwide FM's Aaron L will also be on the bill for more groove-laden sounds from across the globe.

Phonox, 418 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AY, 9.30pm-4am, £5 adv. More info here.

Body discovered during search for Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchinson
Police searching for missing Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchinson have found a body. Formal identification is yet to take place, but his family have been informed.

Police and Hutchinson's bandmates began appealing for information on his whereabouts on Wednesday. He was last seen leaving the Dakota Hotel in South Queensferry, near Edinburgh, at around 1am that morning, after posting two concerning tweets. "He may be in a fragile state and may not be making the best decisions for himself right now", the band said in a statement.

This morning, police confirmed that a body had been found at Port Edgar near South Queensferry at 8.30pm on Thursday evening. The identity is yet to be confirmed.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, Mind offers information and support on this and other topics relating to mental wellbeing. You can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or music industry-specific helplines Music Support on 0800 030 6789 and Music Minds Matter on 0808 802 8008.


Justice announce new live studio album
Justice have released a live version of their third album 'Woman'. Although mildly confusingly titled 'Woman Worldwide', they've worked to make the live version sound more like a studio album.

Despite their relatively low output of proper studio albums over the last eleven years, Justice have bulked their discography out with a live record corresponding to each.

However, while previous live efforts 'A Cross The Universe' and 'Access All Arenas' were intentionally recorded to sound like bootlegs, for 'Woman Worldwide' they have added more of a sheen to their studio-based live performance. The aim, according to a press released, is to afford them "the polish and precision that live performance doesn't always allow".

News of the album was unveiled yesterday at Google's I/O conference, and followed the release of a video for the new version of 'Woman' track 'Stop' on Monday.

Here's the tracklist for the new record:

Safe and Sound
Canon x Love SOS
Genesis x Phantom
Pleasure x Newjack x Helix x Civilization
Heavy Metal x DVNO
Love SOS
Alakazam! x Fire
Waters Of Nazareth x We Are Your Friends x Phantom 2 x Alakazam!
Audio, Video, Disco
DANCE x Fire x Safe And Sound (bonus track)


Beef Of The Week #403: Brexit v Eurovision
Beyond the bluster, the backbiting and the posturing, we still don't really know much, if anything, about what the UK's big Brexit deal with the European Union will look like. What, if any, European institutions will the UK continue to participate in post-Brexit Day?

Maybe it was this general lack of movement that caused mediocre Boris Johnson-inspired character act Michael Fabricant MP to do an about turn this week on one of his key views about what a post-Brexit Britain should look like. Namely, whether or not a Brexited UK should continue to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Back in October 2016, in the early days of there being no real progress on the Brexit negotiations, Fabricant said that it was "fallacious" for "remoaners" to suggest that leaving the EU would mean that the UK would also have to leave other European institutions not directly linked to the Union. Like, for example, the institution that is Eurovision.

At the time, Attorney-General Jeremy Wright said that he was "unwilling to commit to making the case for the Eurovision Song Contest". Mainly because the debate in Parliament when Fabricant made his remarks was about the kind of international co-operation required to keep the citizens of all European countries safe, and it therefore didn't really seem that relevant. Although that was before the list of banned items for this year's Eurovision shows in Portugal had been published.

This week, Fabricant was slightly more on topic when he raised Eurovision again during a parliamentary debate on the economic contribution of the British music industry. Although his view on the big Song Contest did since seem to have changed somewhat.

He asked Culture Secretary and noted social media entrepreneur Matt Hancock: "Does my right honourable friend share my dismay that Brexit does not mean that we are leaving the Eurovision Song Contest?"

The exact context (that is, motivation) for this new remark isn't entirely clear, except that the first semi-final for this year's competition had been broadcast the night before Fabricant made his plea. He may, therefore, have been aghast at the dullness of the majority of this year's entries - Israel's contribution to the art of clucking like a chicken in songs aside. Although I'm sure, like me, he actually watched them all on YouTube long before we got to the semi-final, so there were no actual surprises in that domain this week.

Somewhat derailed from the issue of protecting small venues, which he had been discussing at that point, Hancock nonetheless came back with a mildly witty answer, saying: "We should apply to the Eurovision Song Contest a principle that I try to apply to my life: whenever something goes wrong, we should try, try and try again, and maybe we will eventually get there".

Getting "there" presumably means winning the damn thing one day. Or at least getting somewhere near the top of the final score board. Like in the olden days.

I'm not sure Hancock's remark answers Fabricant's question though. Or any question, really. Although it does raise the issue of this year's UK entry, which is yet again not up to much. I mean, just before Fabricant put forward his question, Hancock had told fellow Conservative MP David Amess that "Britain's music is our global calling card, so we will keep on supporting it, so that it is rocking all over the world".

Maybe he was still embarrassed that he'd actually said those words out loud, and that's why he failed to address 'Storm' by SuRie. Why are we putting forward such a poor imitation of the sort of pop that is currently overworked in its job of saving face for an otherwise ridiculous-looking country on the international stage?

It's not really good enough to say that "we should try, try and try again, and maybe we will eventually get there". After all, we have music here that consistently out-performs that of other countries. Why does the BBC keep giving us the illusion of choice each year by putting forward six utter clangers to pick from?

I understand that your average performer who has decent management and reckons they might actually have a shot at a long-term career isn't going to want to drink from the poisoned chalice that is Eurovision. But it's about the song, isn't it? Songwriters don't face the same stigma as performers. Actually, if you were the songwriter who wrote a great song that stormed Eurovision, you could probably dine out on that for years.

I suppose there's the argument that putting forward something that was actually good might come across as a bit arrogant, given the existing global success of our pop stars. But I'm sure there's a balance to be struck though, with something that comes across celebratory and in-keeping with the overall vibe of Eurovision.

Plus, Everyone in Europe already thinks we're arrogant regardless. Partly because of that whole Brexit thing. Partly because of everything we've done in an international capacity for the last 600 years or so. Though mainly because a man who once described the citizens of commonwealth countries as "cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies" is our actual Foreign Secretary.

Anyway, that's the sort of important debate I'd like to see going on in Parliament. Not just a man asking an inane question and receiving an inane answer. At the very least, Hancock could have pointed out that Eurovision is an institution that pre-dates the EU (in fact it pre-dates the formation of the European Economy Community, which became the EU, by three whole years).

Not only that, but its reach already stretches well beyond the EU. And Europe for that matter. Several non-EU countries are free to advance the art of clucking like a chicken without any barriers at the big Contest. And they let Australia in, for fuck's sake.

Approximately half a billion people did point this out to Fabricant on Twitter. Responding to one, he said "of course I know that", adding the hashtag #senseofhumourfailure.

Twitter's not a great place for nuance and context at the best of times, but Fabricant seems to be saying that he only asked the question as a joke. Fair enough, I'm all in favour of putting jokes in entirely inappropriate places. Although I do attempt to make them - if not actually funny - at least look like jokes. Maybe he could have added "knock knock" at the start of his question.

Besides, watching the government attempt to actually deliver Brexit is already hilarious enough. Any MPs wanting to generally make light of the situation really need to up their game.

In the meantime, the UK remains a member of both Eurovision and the EU, so let's enjoy both while we can. I suspect we won't be coming out of either any time soon. At least the deadline for discovering our fate in Eurovision is only a day away.


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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