TODAY'S TOP STORY: CMU turns 20 today. Yes, that's right, we've now spent a whole two decades covering music, music people and the music business. And the birthday is happening right in the middle of The Great Escape too! It's been a very busy day... [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]
DEALS Backstreet Boys sign to RCA
Tinie Tempah's Disturbing London partners with Parlophone
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Momentum Music Fund celebrates successes as it reaches its fifth birthday
Elton John becomes Auddly ambassador
RELEASES New Christine And The Queens single arrives
GIGS & FESTIVALS Chilly Gonzales announces UK shows
Gwenno announces October shows
ONE LINERS Universal, Kickstarter, Disclosure, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #404: DN v Tidal
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CMU is 20!
CMU turns 20 today. Yes, that's right, we've now spent a whole two decades covering music, music people and the music business. And the birthday is happening right in the middle of The Great Escape too! It's been a very busy day.

Founded by Chris Cooke, Alastair Walker and Fraser Thomson, we officially launched on 18 May 1998, shortly before the arrival of Napster. But I don't think you can blame us for that.

Our daily music business coverage in the CMU Daily email didn't arrive until 2002. Originally CMU made its way out into the world as a printed magazine, aiming to bring together the grass roots music community with the mainstream music industry, using the college music network as a way of reaching out around the UK.

The magazine was called College Music Update and it was mailed to key people in the industry, the media, the college music scene and the grass roots music community.

Since then the wider CMU business has grown considerably, though the core aim of keeping the wider music community up to date, and helping them understand the business of music, remains at the heart of it all.

As well as reporting on, explaining and - occasionally - mocking the music industry on a daily basis via the CMU Daily email, the CMU Insights division has become a leading provider of training and consultancy to music companies and companies that work with music. While our CMU:DIY education programme - working with the likes of Urban Development and the FAC - has enabled us to reach the grass roots music community in a whole new way.

This week, of course, CMU Insights has been running a series of conferences at The Great Escape in Brighton, looking at the Chinese music market, the impact of AI on music, and the world of music education. The latter saw us launch a new research project with Urban Development and BIMM seeking to redefine what music eduation can be.

We have also just launched a brand new research project with AIM - 'Mapping The Digital Supply Chain' - and we are about to embark on phase four of our 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' work with the Music Managers Forum. It's events like TGE and major research projects of this kind that keep us passionate about the business of music, now and in the future. That and the daily opportunity to make weak jokes about pop stars and people who are supposed to be our readership.

To mark this quite remarkable milestone, we've taken a look back at 20 of the biggest stories we've covered over the last two decades - from EMI to the ascension of Justin Bieber - in an article that you can read here. If you're at The Great Escape, you can also find that article in the CMU Great Escape Special magazine that you'll find in your delegate bag. That's right, we're back in print. Briefly.

Also at TGE, tomorrow (Saturday) at 4.30pm in The Old Courtroom, CMU will once again close the convention for another year with Heroes & Villains, where four industry veterans discuss the highs and lows of their careers to date, and the heroes and villains they met along the way.

This year is a special edition of Heroes & Villains that will celebrate CMU's big birthday. All the panellists will be people who supported CMU in its earliest days: Pat Carr from Remote Control, Sumit Bothra from ATC Management and broadcaster Edward Adoo. CMU co-founder and MD Chris Cooke will also take part and, as always, journalist and talent scout Stephen Jones will host.

One hero we'll be remembering will be CMU co-founder Alastair Walker, who sadly is not here to celebrate with us. His premature death, just before his 30th birthday, of a heart attack brought on by undiagnosed diabetes, came just over three years after CMU launched. However, by then he had put in place the musical ethos and editorial attitude that continues at CMU to this day.

For those of you in Brighton this weekend, come and say hello and drop off your homemade birthday cakes. Otherwise, I'm sure we'll catch up at some point in the next 20 years and beyond.


Backstreet Boys sign to RCA
The Backstreet Boys have marked their 25th anniversary by signing a new record deal with Sony's RCA label. Getting straight to work, they've released new single 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart'. It's not an Elton John cover, which you may or may not be pleased to hear.

"The minute we heard this song we knew it was special", says the band's Kevin Richardson of the new track. "I geeked out over the piano and synths. When that groove drops on the second verse, COME ON. Great verse, hook and melodies. Just makes you wanna listen over and over again".

Of the new deal, AJ McLean adds: "We've been working our ass off for 25 years, and with the support of RCA and our contemporaries, we know we'll be performing for fans, both old and new, for a really long time. It feels like we're just getting started".

RCA is also set to release a new Backstreet Boys album - their ninth - later this year. Watch the video for 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' here.


Tinie Tempah's Disturbing London partners with Parlophone
The indie label set up by Tinie Tempah and his manager Dumi Oburota in 2006, Disturbing London, has announced a new partnership with Warner Music's Parlophone label. With the majors new backing, the company aims to sign a greater number of new artists and offer more global opportunities to new and existing acts on its roster.

"Disturbing London has firmly established itself as a visionary for British culture", says Parlophone's co-President Mark Mitchell. "They have a genuine hunger to find and nurture new talent and opportunities, not just from within the UK but throughout the world. Given our existing success with Tinie and Dumi, this partnership is a natural next step for us both. We are hugely excited to be able to amplify Disturbing London's artistic and passion-led focus for influential music that pushes boundaries".

Oburota adds: "We've developed a huge influence in black music with some of the most exciting artists to emerge from grassroots culture in the UK. This deal allows us to keep our indie roots but to be powered to new heights with similar global influence as Def Jam or Bad Boy Records. Mitch and his team at Parlophone totally get that we're here to challenge in an unorthodox way, to keep it exciting for fans. We want to spread our culture further and to offer all our artists a much bigger, global stage".

Artists with releases already scheduled on Disturbing London this year include Yxng Bane, A2, and label boss himself Tinie Tempah.


Momentum Music Fund celebrates successes as it reaches its fifth birthday
Marking the fifth anniversary of its launch at The Great Escape, the Momentum Music Fund has announced that its grants to date have generated £13 million for the British music industry, compared to the £2.5 million it has so far dished out.

Launched by the PRS Foundation and Arts Council England in 2013, the fund offers grants of £5000 to £15,000 to emerging artists in a position to make the next step up in their careers. Beneficiaries to date have included Years & Years, Little Simz, Public Service Broadcasting, Floating Points, Bugzy Malone and Anna Meredith.

Of how the funding aided the then unsigned Years & Years, Martha Kinn of Machine Management explains: "We were at a point where we'd reached the end of the line in terms of what we could do with our own resources. We had a real vision. We had a bit of a fanbase forming; they started to write amazing songs. We wanted to keep going independently. I remember the question [on the Momentum application form] 'Where do you see the band in three years time?' We achieved that and more..."

PRS Foundation CEO Vanessa Reed adds: "This five year partnership with Arts Council England has resulted in one of the most successful programmes PRS Foundation has ever delivered. Combining public funds with industry backing and expertise, it presents a unique investment model for emerging artists as part of an evolving ecosystem for music. I look forward to growing this fund over the next five years with new and existing partners who share our passion for supporting diverse talent and sustainable careers".

As it reaches its fifth year, Spotify has committed to continue supporting the fund until 2020, and PPL has increased its donation significantly.

Read a full report on Momentum's fifth year here.


Elton John becomes Auddly ambassador
Elton John has signed up as an ambassador for song metadata service Auddly. From here on in, a portion of all shouting you hear him doing will be metadata-focussed. And I'm fine with that.

"It's time to realise that we need to manage our metadata more efficiently to overcome the challenges preventing creators from getting paid correctly", shouts John. "I support Auddly in its efforts towards a more sustainable music industry".

Phew, he was quite noisy there, wasn't he? To try to balance things out, company founder Niclas Molinder has agreed to whisper really quietly, so listen carefully. "It's an honour to have Elton John on board as an Auddly ambassador. Thanks to his outstanding experience as a songwriter and artist he is very aware of the metadata issues and his support is valuable for us".

Nope, sorry, didn't get a word of that. Oh well. The point is, Auddly is trying to get songwriters to decide and log who owns what portion of a song at the point they create it. The tradition being to forget to do that and then complain about not being paid three years later. Elton John is now all about the admin, basically.


Vigsy's Club Tip at The Great Escape
Team CMU are down in Brighton for this year's Great Escape festival. There are hundreds of acts playing the event, and if you're looking for something more in line with this column, there are some good options to choose from.

One that jumped out for me was Skream and Dennis Ferrer, who will be DJing at The Arch from 2am tonight, which should be excellent.

Also, and not really Club Tip fodder, but a band I like very much, Teleman will be playing the Paganni Ballroom tomorrow evening at 10.15pm.

Friday 18 May and Saturday 19 May, The Great Escape, Brighton. More info here.

New Christine And The Queens single arrives
There is, right at this very moment, a new Christine And The Queens single out there for you to listen to. So that's exciting, isn't it? It's called 'Girlfriend'. The single, I mean. Obviously.

"I initially set out to smash against macho culture and macho men", says Héloïse Letissier, aka Christine And The Queens. "I became obsessed with this idea of the macho man, and still being a woman. What does it mean if I'm this figure, and I'm a woman? Does it make me an aberration? Is it joyful? I felt I had to address female desire and it's diversity. How sometimes it's blacked out or ignored. It's still something quite suspicious or slightly dirty. I felt like it was important to be more unapologetic about that".

"There are hints of nights spent having sex and coming back covered in sweat", she goes on. "Like a male figure, the young hero who has love stories, and comes back in the morning and his friends are like: 'What happened to you?' I want to be that".

As I say, there's a new Christine And The Queens single. It features Dâm-Funk, and to be honest I'm surprised you're not listening to it already.


Chilly Gonzales announces UK shows
Have you ever seen Chilly Gonzales live? Oh, you must. He's just announced four new UK shows in September, so that's just perfect. He really is very good. I haven't seen him in ages, actually. Do you mind if I tag along with you? I'll buy you a snack.

The shows will see him performing some of his solo piano pieces, before being joined on stage by cellist Stella Le Page and drummer Joe Flory.


7 Sep: London, Cadogan Hall
8 Sep: Leeds, Howard Assembly Room
10 Sep: London, Queen Elizabeth Hall
11 Sep: Manchester, RNCM


Gwenno announces October shows
Gwenno has announced a new set of UK tour dates for this autumn. You should probably go to them. Or one of them. More if you like. A friend of mine used to follow the bands he really liked all around the country. I could never really be bothered. Although I did go to Luton with him once.

Anyway, Gwenno's not playing in Luton. She is playing in these towns and cities of the UK though:

12 Oct: Bristol, Thekla
13 Oct: Manchester, Now Wave
18 Oct: London, Islington Assembly Hall
19 Oct: Southampton, The Loft
20 Oct: Falmouth University
21 Oct: Exeter University

Is she any good live? Well, here she is performing 'Tir Ha Mor' on 'Later' earlier this week to answer that question.


Universal, Kickstarter, Disclosure, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Vivendi had its big meeting about a possible Universal Music IPO yesterday. "Vivendi's supervisory board approved the management board's proposal notably to examine and carry out the necessary preliminary legal operations required for a potential change in the Universal Music Group's shareholder structure", says a statement. So not much to report, other than that a thing that might happen still might happen.

• Perfect Pussy vocalist Meredith Graves has been named the new Head Of Music over at Kickstarter. "I'm so honoured to be joining you here in this emergent world, bursting at the seams with song, with more than enough room left over to accommodate every single one of our dreams", she says.

• Disclosure have issued an ultimatum. Or a song called 'Ultimatum'. It's their first new ultimatum (or song) for two years.

• Nine Inch Nails have released new track 'God Break Down The Door'. It's taken from upcoming EP, 'Bad Witch'.

• Sigrid has released the video for 'High Five', and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

• Modeselektor have released their first new track for three years, 'Kalif Storch'. It's taken from their new 'Modselektion Vol 4' compilation, out on 1 Jun.

• Hot on the heals of his latest album, 'Song For Alpha', Daniel Avery today releases new EP 'Projector', featuring the album track from which it takes its name and three new tracks, including this one, 'Glass'.

• Syrra have released the video for 'Hush', the title track of their debut EP out next week.

• Oh Maddie release new single 'I Don't Like You' today. I still like them.

• "Whatever happened to Glasvegas?", might be a thing that you wonder sometimes. I mean, it's possible. Well, I can tell you that they'll be playing shows this October to mark the tenth anniversary of their debut album.

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


Beef Of The Week #404: DN v Tidal
I assume, like me, you spend 62% of every waking hour of your life thinking about streaming services. That's just normal.

Over the last year, you can't fail to have noticed that an ever decreasing amount of that thinking time is taken up by Tidal. To the point that the only time you thought about Tidal was when you wondered why you didn't think about Tidal anymore. You might even have had to check that Tidal is still going. It is. And I know this, because in the space of a few days it's suddenly started occupying my brain again.

This is largely thanks to Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv, which has suddenly redoubled its efforts to scrutinise the company. Tidal, of course, was originally founded in Norway, before being bought by Jay-Z in 2015, and still maintains its base in the country, hence the continued attention from local media.

Everything actually started kicking off last week, when DN accused Tidal of inflating listening figures for two of its exclusive albums, Kanye West's 'The Life Of Pablo' and Beyonce's 'Lemonade' - the latter of which remains only available for streaming on Tidal.

The paper said that it had got hold of internal Tidal data, which confirmed the massive streaming counts that Tidal had reported shortly after those records were released. However, when it started phoning round some of the most prolific listeners - prolific according to the figures, that is - many said that they hadn't played those albums anything like that much.

With anecdotal evidence that all was not as it seemed, DN handed over the data to academics at the Norwegian University Of Science And Technology. After poking around a bit, the boffins concluded that the data had indeed been tampered with.

Tidal, for its part, denies this all entirely. In fact, it says that the newspaper illegally obtained the data, and then did some manipulating of the figures itself. It accused DN of a "smear campaign", referencing derogatory comments it had previously made about its COO Lior Tibon and owner Jay-Z.

Prior to DN publishing its report, it seems that Tidal's lawyers had already tried to head it off. However, it still went public with its accusations.

They're pretty serious accusations too. These inflated numbers don't just serve to boost egos and present a rosier picture of life at Tidal. Due to the revenue share basis on which streaming services are licensed, if Kanye and Beyonce get more plays, they also get more of the money. If they get a higher proportion of royalties, all other artists get less.

If all those other artists are getting less because two artists had their plays massively inflated - aside from that contradicting Tidal's original pitch that it was the 'artist friendly' streaming service - you are also basically into the realms of accusing a company of fraud.

So you can see why Tidal might want to defend itself quite so forcefully. And so it did. "This is a smear campaign from a publication that once referred to our employee as an 'Israeli intelligence officer' and our owner as a 'crack dealer'", it said. "We expect nothing less from them than this ridiculous story, lies and falsehoods. The information was stolen and manipulated and we will fight these claims vigorously".

Given the severity of the claims, it seemed inevitable that the police would become involved at some point. And this week, Norwegian collecting society Tono filed an official police complaint against Tidal off the back of DN's claims.

According to another Norwegian news provider, the country's version of The Local, Tono says that last week's claims are "strong" and "apparently credible", but also notes Tidal's counter allegation that it was DN journalists who actually manipulated its data. Tono director Cato Strom said in a statement: "We have to protect the interests of the rightsholders for whom we work, but we also believe that a complaint is in the interest of Tidal which says the data has been stolen and manipulated".

Therefore, it has urged the Norwegian National Authority For Investigation And Prosecution Of Economic And Environmental Crime to launch an investigation.

Danish collecting society Koda is also known to be investigating last week's reports, starting with an audit of the data it received from Tidal. It's thought that other European societies or rights owners could follow suit.

Of course, in order to assess if rightsholders are being paid less than their rightful share, there needs to be money to count in the first place. And following last week's accusations, various labels then spoke to DN to complain that rather than just getting a little less than they should, Tidal payments seem to have dried up entirely.

In a new article published this week, DN reported that Tidal was behind with payments to many labels, including all three majors, by as much as six months.

Propeller Recordings boss Frithjof Boye Hungnes said: "We have not been paid since October. The agreement is that we will be paid monthly. People are talking about withdrawing, I think there's a pretty hostile atmosphere".

These new complaints also tie in with another DN article from December last year, in which it claimed that Tidal only had enough money to see it through to this summer. And, well, the sun is out. Though Tidal denied that DN report when it was published too.

Though on the issue of late payments, Tidal has not yet commented. But this morning it did return to firmly refute those accusations of manipulating track play numbers once again. In a new statement, current CEO Richard Saunders attempted to turn attention back to how DN came to gain access to its data.

"We reject and deny the claims that have been made by Dagens Næringsliv", he says. "Although we do not typically comment on stories we believe to be false, we feel it is important to make sure that our artists, employees, and subscribers know that we are not taking the security and integrity of our data lightly, and we will not back down from our commitment to them".

He goes on: "When we learned of a potential data breach we immediately, and aggressively, began pursuing multiple avenues available to uncover what occurred. This included reporting it to proper authorities, pursuing legal action, and proactively taking steps to further strengthen our stringent security measures that are already in place".

"Additionally, we have engaged an independent, third party cyber-security firm to conduct a review of what happened and help us further protect the security and integrity of our data", he concludes. "We are proud of the hard work, devotion to our artist driven mission, and tremendous accomplishments of our over 100 employees in Norway and 50 more in the United States. We look forward to sharing with them, and all of our partners, the results of the review once completed".

So that all sounds pretty firm and action-packed. Although it doesn't answer the now equally important question about Tidal's standing financially. Which is possibly bothering unpaid labels more, however dramatic DN's data claims may have been.

If DN is right that Tidal is about to run out of money, can it be saved? A sale to anyone but another streaming firm seems unlikely at this stage, and the fact that US tel co Sprint owns a 33% stake now complicates any potential deal. The company may have always been a minor player in the streaming market overall, but if it were to shut down entirely, that would be quite a significant moment in the history of streaming.


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 (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.
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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.
Email 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.
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