TODAY'S TOP STORY: Sony Corp has agreed terms on a deal to buy out most of its partners in the EMI Music Publishing company, further expanding the entertainment conglom's already significant interest in the songs business... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Sony Corp to take majority control of EMI Music Publishing
LEGAL New sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against R Kelly
Pussycat Dolls sue Daily Mail over "prostitution ring" claims
The Script sue James Arthur in latest song-theft case
THE GREAT ESCAPE CMU's Great Escape Special now available to read online
ARTIST NEWS Years & Years make up pretend cryptocurrency to promote new album
ONE LINERS Listen Up, Cardi B, Camila Cabello, more
AND FINALLY... New six track Nine Inch Nails record listed as an LP because Spotify downgrades EPs, says Trent Reznor
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Sony Corp to take majority control of EMI Music Publishing
Sony Corp has agreed terms on a deal to buy out most of its partners in the EMI Music Publishing company, further expanding the entertainment conglom's already significant interest in the songs business.

The old British major music company EMI was put up for sale in 2011 by the bankers at Citigroup, of course, with the EMI record company being ultimately bought by Universal Music and the publishing side by a Sony-led consortium. Since then the EMI Music Publishing catalogue has been administrated by Sony's global music publishing outfit Sony/ATV.

Most of the other investors involved in that publishing transaction were led by an entity called Mubadala Investment Co. Rumours began to circulate last year that the administration agreement between EMI Music Publishing and Sony/ATV was up for renewal in 2018 and that that might be an opportunity for the Mubadala-led side of the EMI-owning consortium to cash in its stake in the business.

Then in March, Bloomberg reported that preliminary talks were underway about Sony buying its partners in EMI Music Publishing out of the venture, with Mubadala seeking a valuation for the EMI catalogue about double what the consortium paid for it back in 2012. That's pretty much in line with the deal that has now been agreed.

Sony expects to pay about $2.3 billion to buy the 60% of EMI Music Publishing controlled by Mubadala-led investors, as well as taking on the company's gross debt, which stands at around $1.36 billion. The transaction - which is subject to regulator approval - would see Sony Corp control about 90% of the EMI songs catalogue, with EMI Music Publishing becoming a "consolidated subsidiary of Sony" as a result.

The remaining 10% is controlled by the Michael Jackson estate. The estate owned half of Sony/ATV at the time of the EMI transaction, Jackson having originally merged his ATV songs business with Sony's music publishing division back in 1995. Sony bought the Jackson estate out of Sony/ATV in 2016, but that deal did not include the estate's concurrent stake in EMI Music Publishing.

It's thought that the Jackson estate may also be interested in offloading its stake in the EMI catalogue, giving Sony complete control of it, and enabling a proper merger with Sony/ATV. However, the indies are sure to object to this latest round of consolidation in the music rights sector, and there being at least one other shareholder in the EMI catalogue could help Sony when its proposed transaction goes before competition regulators, especially in Europe.

The top man at Sony Corp is "THRILLED" to be extending his company's interests in the EMI songs catalogue. Obviously. Who wouldn't be?

Kenichiro Yoshida said yesterday: "We are THRILLED to bring EMI Music Publishing into the Sony family and maintain our number one position in the music publishing industry. The music business has enjoyed a resurgence over the past couple of years, driven largely by the rise of paid subscription-based streaming services. In the entertainment space, we are focusing on building a strong IP portfolio, and I believe this acquisition will be a particularly significant milestone for our long-term growth".

Speaking for Mubadala Capital, it's private equity chief Adib Mattar told reporters: "EMI Music Publishing represents one of the world's largest and most diverse catalogue of copyrights with iconic songs that span every decade over the last one hundred years. The sale of our consortium's interest in EMI Music Publishing represents a milestone for Mubadala and our private equity business".

This week's Setlist podcast - a retrospective edition designed to celebrate CMU's 20th birthday - has suddenly become very timely for anyone interested in the back story to all things EMI Music Publishing. Listen here.


New sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against R Kelly
A new lawsuit has been filed against R Kelly. Papers filed in New York accuse the musician of sexual battery, false imprisonment and failure to disclose a sexually transmitted disease.

Faith Rodgers says that she met Kelly when she was nineteen and began a year long relationship with him - initially over the phone. After a number of months, he arranged for her to fly out to meet him in New York, where he "initiated unwanted sexual contact" in a hotel room. It is here she says she unknowingly contracted herpes from him.

They maintained their relationship for several more months, although Rodgers says that during this time Kelly "routinely engaged in intimidation, mental, verbal and sexual abuse, during and after sexual contact".

Noting the various other similar accusations that have been made against the musician, the lawsuit says: "Unfortunately, the facts and background of this case are not unique. This is a run-of-the-mill R Kelly sexual abuse case".

A lawyer for Rodgers has confirmed that she is in fact the same woman who began legal proceedings against Kelly in Dallas last month.

Accusations of sexual misconduct have followed R Kelly around for more than two decades, of course. Many civil cases have been settled out of court, but the one time he was prosecuted in 2008, he was acquitted. However, recently a number of new claims have come to light, including in articles for Buzzfeed and Rolling Stone, and a BBC documentary.

Elsewhere, Kelly last week lost an entirely unrelated legal case in Georgia, where he was suing a promoter for breach of contract, after two of his attorneys stepped down, citing "ethical obligations". He failed to put forward new representation, or adhere to an order to personally appear in court, so on 15 May the judge ruled against him. In April, another lawyer, a publicist and an assistant all cut their ties with Kelly as well.

Aside from those directly employed by Kelly, the most widely reported recent 'cutting of ties' involved Spotify, of course, and its decision to remove his music from its in-house playlists. In the short-term at least, this move - as part of a new 'hateful content' policy - seems to have backfired. In the week following the announcement, amid plenty of media coverage of the ban, Kelly's plays on the platform actually increased slightly.

However, the other high profile artist cut from the company's playlists under its new rules, XXXTentacion, has reportedly seen a fairly dramatic dip in plays on the platform.

The Spotify policy remains controversial, because neither artist has actually been convicted of any crime as yet. Some have accused Spotify of trying to act as judge and jury, while others have called on the company to drop other artists (of which there are many) who have also been accused of sexual crimes and/or physical abuse against women, some of which have been convicted.

It had been rumoured that high profile Spotify exec Troy Carter had quit the company in protest at the new policy. He denied this last week, although admitted that there had been a disagreement over it.


Pussycat Dolls sue Daily Mail over "prostitution ring" claims
The Pussycat Dolls are suing the Daily Mail over two articles it published last year based on the allegations of a former member of the outfit, Kaya Jones.

Jones initially made a series of allegations against the Pussycat Dolls operation and its founder Robin Antin on Twitter, declaring: "I wasn't in a girl group - I was in a prostitution ring".

She continued: "'How bad was it?' people ask. Bad enough that I walked away from my dreams, bandmates and a $13 million record deal". Calling Antin "the den mother from hell", she alleged that being a "team player" in Pussycat land meant you had to "sleep with whoever they say".

At the time Antin called the allegations "disgusting, ridiculous lies", while a statement from The Pussycat Dolls themselves denied the claims and added: "if Kaya experienced something we are unaware of then we fully encourage her to get the help she needs and are here to support her".

The defamation lawsuit objects to a Daily Mail article based on the tweets and another that included an interview with Jones. The litigation argues that Jones was never a full member of The Pussycat Dolls, and is still disgruntled about that fact, motivating her outburst last year. The Mail, it then argues, should have known to fact-check allegations made by such a biased source.

The Pussycat Dolls and Antin are represented in the legal action by Richard Busch, the lawyer forever associated with the 'Blurred Lines' song-theft case, where he successfully represented the Marvin Gaye family.

Commenting on the new lawsuit, he told reporters: "It's clear Ms Jones was an unreliable and biased source simply looking for her fifteen minutes of fame, and the Daily Mail could have taken their pick of dozens of sources to contact to see if there was an inkling of truth to the statements, but did not do so".

Showing at least some knowledge of the Daily Mail's online business model, the lawyer goes on: "Instead, for pure sensationalism and to grab salacious headlines to sell their product, and without considering what it meant for The Pussycat Dolls, their business or their reputation, the Daily Mail published these defamatory statements with a reckless disregard for the truth. Daily Mail's conduct was malicious and it should be held responsible for the enormous damage The Pussycat Dolls and Robin have suffered as a direct result".


The Script sue James Arthur in latest song-theft case
It's like I always say, one Richard Busch-led lawsuit is just never enough. So, fear not people, I have another. And this one pitches a former 'The Voice' judge against a former 'X-Factor' winner! Yep, it has it all, people. Roll up, roll up.

Danny O'Donoghue and his band The Script are suing James Arthur in a song-theft dispute. The former accuse the latter of ripping of their 2008 song 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved' on his 2016 hit 'Say You Won't Let Go'.

Arthur is being sued alongside his songwriting buddies Neil Ormandy and Steve Solomon, along with their various music industry partners, which include both the Sony Music record company and the Sony/ATV music publishing business. Double win!

The lawsuit alleges that Arthur approached The Script about a possible collaboration in 2014 but was turned down. He then copied the "essence" of 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved' for his 2016 hit, the legal papers continue.

Speaking to Billboard, the very busy Busch notes the various controversies that hampered Arthur's career in the years after 'X-Factor', reckoning that the allegedly plagiarising song subsequently helped to relaunch Arthur as a credible pop act set for global success.

Says the lawyer: "It's widely known Mr Arthur was dropped by his record label for public controversies, which caused a break in his career. It wasn't until the release of 'Say You Won't Let Go' that he achieved worldwide success".


CMU's Great Escape Special now available to read online
20 years after CMU first emerged as a magazine writing about music, music people and the music business, last week we went temporarily back into print with a Great Escape Special inserted in every delegate bag at The Great Escape.

The magazine included articles linked to the three conferences CMU Insights presented as part of this year's TGE Convention, plus summaries of the 20 biggest stories CMU has covered over the last two decades and an overview of the 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' project CMU Insights has undertaken for the Music Managers Forum. You can access the magazine as a PDF here, if that's the sort of thing you like to do.

But many of those articles can now also be accessed on the CMU website. Silvia Gargiulo from BIY People & Talent, who spoke at The Education Conference, provides some top tips for getting a music career started. Each of the start-ups who presented as part of The AI Conference provide the lowdown on their businesses. And we get some top tips from four of the China-based music people who took part in The China Conference. Click here to access all these stories, plus the 'CMU is 20' article and the 'Digital Dollar' update.

And look out for CMU's coverage of this year's three TGE conferences starting in your CMU Daily from tomorrow.


Approved: Flohio
Alongside the great artists and bands you do see at a showcase festival like The Great Escape, you often come back with an even longer list of acts other people have enthused about during your time there. South London rapper Flohio turned in three shows at TGE this year, none of which I was able to see, but word quickly got around about them.

Currently working on a new EP, Flohio has already picked up recognition for her collaborations with God Colony and L-Vis 1990. Over the last couple of months that momentum has rolled on with new singles 'Bands' and 'Watchout', the latter of which was released earlier this month.

Check out 'Bands' here.

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

Years & Years make up pretend cryptocurrency to promote new album
Years & Years have launched their own cryptocurrency as part of the marketing campaign for their new album 'Palo Santo'. While it's really little more than a website promoting the band's music, it's still captured the ethos of actual cryptocurrencies by being basically useless.

The sci-fi themed album is set in a genderless future in which YearCoin is a currency. "Humans are a rare commodity in the android community of Palo Santo", the website for the currency informs visitors. "There is a small human rebellion being coordinated through illegal encrypted online communications [which] is funded by the cryptocurrency, YearCoin".

You can mine YearCoins by doing stuff like spending actual money pre-ordering the album, pre-saving it on Spotify, or watching videos for its singles. Once you've mined over 1000 coins, you can buy an ID card. Yes! You can also hand over credits in order to create coded messages. What fun!

Spending time doing all this is approximately as worthwhile as it was you reading this article. But you did that, didn't you? So what are you waiting for, get mining those YearCoins now!


Listen Up, Cardi B, Camila Cabello, 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.

• Music PR firm Listen Up has promoted both Erin Mills and James Paterson to the position of director. Both originally joined the agency as interns, the former working on the press side, the latter on the radio side.

• Cardi B has released the video for 'Be Careful'.

• Camila Cabello has released new Pharrell collaboration, 'Sangria Wine'.

• Fifth Harmony have bowed out with one last video for 'Don't Say You Love Me', taken from their last album 'Fifth Harmony'.

• Bugzy Malone is back with new track 'Clash Of The Titans'.

• Lykke Li has released the video for her latest single 'Deep End'.

• The Joy Formidable are back with new single 'Dance Of The Lotus'.

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


New six track Nine Inch Nails record listed as an LP because Spotify downgrades EPs, says Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor has weighed into an increasingly angry debate on a Nine Inch Nails fan forum over whether or not his new record is an album or an EP. The six track release, 'Bad Witch', is listed as an album - although it turns out this is more for reasons of streaming service discovery than anything else.

A debate on the Echoing The Sound forum has raged since the new release was announced. Fans have argued over what the official definition of an EP is, and - even if 'Bad Witch' doesn't fit that criteria (it doesn't) - whether it can actually be classed as an album. Anger was fuelled further when a NIN rep asked Pitchfork to amend an article so to call the record an album rather than an EP.

Luckily for everyone, Reznor frequents this particular forum, and on page 29 of the debate he finally chipped in with an explanation: "Want to know why it's being labelled an LP instead of an EP? EPs show up with singles in Spotify and other streaming services [therefore] they get lost easier".

He added: "EPs feel less important in today's music-isn't-as-important-as-it-once-was world. Why make it easier to ignore? We're not charging any more for it, so why get worked up about it?"

Being the jovial sort, he then singled out one forum member in particular, who had suggested that Reznor was struggling for ideas. "Quantum550: suck my entire cock", he concluded his missive.


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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