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TODAY'S TOP STORY: A US judge has finally approved the proposed settlement in one of the highest profile of all the lawsuits filed in relation to the mechanical rights mess Stateside: ie Lowery & Ferrick v Spotify. That mess, of course, has resulted in many songwriters and music publishers not receiving all the royalties they are due when their songs are streamed via on-demand streaming platforms... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Judge approves settlement in Lowery/Ferrick mechanical royalties case
LABELS & PUBLISHERS BPI urges government to make piracy part of the internet safety conversation
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Boiler Room to launch "Netflix of the underground"
THE GREAT ESCAPE The Education Conference: In The Classroom
EDUCATION & EVENTS Independent Music Cup charity five-a-side tournament returns
ARTIST NEWS R Kelly says efforts to silence him are 30 years too late
RELEASES Darwin Deez announces new album, reveals the world's best kisser
GIGS & FESTIVALS Lauryn Hill announces Miseducation shows
ONE LINERS Mixcloud, Tyler, The Creator, Abra Cadabra, more
AND FINALLY... Lily Allen turns trolls into marketing assistants
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Judge approves settlement in Lowery/Ferrick mechanical royalties case
A US judge has finally approved the proposed settlement in one of the highest profile of all the lawsuits filed in relation to the mechanical rights mess Stateside: ie Lowery & Ferrick v Spotify. That mess, of course, has resulted in many songwriters and music publishers not receiving all the royalties they are due when their songs are streamed via on-demand streaming platforms.

Most streaming services operating in the US have been on the receiving end of litigation in relation to unpaid mechanical royalties. America is unusual in that it doesn't have a collecting society that can provide a blanket licence covering the so called mechanical rights in songs. Such licences, available in most other countries, mean that streaming services can ensure that they are fully licensed when it comes to song rights, relying on the blanket licence for any works not covered by direct deals with music publishers.

The lack of such a society and blanket licence in the US means that - while American copyright law sets the royalty rate for mechanical rights - each streaming service needs to identify what specific song rights it is exploiting and who controls those rights, and then make sure the relevant paperwork and payments are sent to the copyright owners. With no central publically accessible database of music rights linking recordings to songs and identifying current beneficiaries, that has proven to be a very tricky task.

It also meant that some songwriters and publishers went unpaid, resulting in litigation. Musicians David Lowery and Melissa Ferrick both put their names to class actions against Spotify in relation to unpaid mechanicals. Those two lawsuits were then later combined, with the streaming firm subsequently proposing a settlement deal that includes setting aside a fund worth $43.4 million to compensate songwriters and publishers whose songs it streamed without licence.

The basic terms of that settlement were agreed a year ago, but they needed court approval. Also, other members of the class - ie songwriters and publishers who were likewise unpaid by Spotify and who formally affiliated with this class action - had an opportunity to object to the deal. And some did.

Among those who objected was independent music publisher Wixen, which said that the proposed settlement was "procedurally and substantively unfair" and provided "an unfair dollar amount in light of Spotify's ongoing, wilful copyright infringement of [our writer's] works". Though Wixen subsequently filed its own lawsuit in relation to unpaid mechanicals.

In her ruling this week, judge Alison Nathan overruled all those objections for various different reasons, concluding that the settlement agreement was "fair, reasonable and adequate". She also ruled on legal fees, awarding the lawyers who worked on the case a few million less than they had been pushing for. Though they'll still see $13 million for their efforts, so I wouldn't worry too much about them.

Although other lawsuits in relation to unpaid mechanicals continue to go through the motions, the digital music sector hopes that these ongoing issues will be dealt with by the Music Modernization Act that is currently working its way through US Congress.

That legislation will finally introduce a collecting society and blanket licence for mechanicals in the USA. Which doesn't necessarily mean the right songwriters and publishers will start receiving their royalties, but it will shift the responsibility for working out who needs to be paid away from the streaming services to the new society and the songwriters and publishers it represents.


BPI urges government to make piracy part of the internet safety conversation
Record industry trade body BPI has called on the British government to ensure that intellectual property matters are part of the conversation around "making the UK the safest place in the world to be online".

That "safest place" ambition was confirmed in a statement issued by the Home Office and the Department Of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport last weekend in response to the publication of a green paper called the 'Internet Safety Strategy'.

The government is now planning to produce a white paper that will set out possible legislation that could be introduced to tackle online practices that cause harm. That white paper will also consider the responsibilities of key web platforms like search engines, social media and user-upload sites in stopping harmful practices.

The notion of 'internet safety' covers a lot of things, with the government name-checking cyberbullying and online child sexual exploitation among the issues it seeks to address in its white paper. Though whenever it comes to the obligations of internet companies to monitor the content that moves through their platforms, you will usually also start talking about piracy and copyright infringement.

This is why the BPI sees this new white paper on internet safety as another opportunity to continue pressuring internet firms to become more proactive in policing piracy on their networks. Some of those net firms - principally the search engines - have already made some voluntary commitments in this domain, though as the government itself noted on internet safety issues at large, "while several of the tech giants have taken important and positive steps, the performance of the industry overall has been mixed".

BPI boss Geoff Taylor says: "The BPI welcomes the government's decision to bring forward a bill to address online harm. This is a vital opportunity to protect consumers and boost the UK's music and creative industries. The BPI has long pressed for internet intermediaries and online platforms to take responsibility for the content that they promote to users".

He goes on: "Government should now take the power in legislation to require online giants to take effective, proactive measures to clean illegal content from their sites and services. This will keep fans away from dodgy sites full of harmful content and prevent criminals from undermining creative businesses that create UK jobs".

Specific measures that the BPI is lobbying for include a fast-track system for web-blocking, an obligation to act over repeat infringement and repeat infringers, and the introduction of a new 'duty of care' for online intermediaries and platforms that would require them "to take effective action to ensure their services are not abused by businesses encouraging consumers to access content illegally".


Boiler Room to launch "Netflix of the underground"
Boiler Room - best known for live streaming DJ sets and live performances, of course - has announced that it will next week officially launch a new video service called 4:3 which aims to be "the Netflix of the underground".

Content on the platform will be curated by a series of guests, including Elijah Wood, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Peaches and Jenn Nkiru. Among the videos available will be feature films, shorts and music videos, including some original commissions.

"Boiler Room and our audience is connected to the worlds of music, art, fashion, film and culture", says the company's new Chief Content Officer Stephen Mai. "They desire deeper story telling and real life experiences. For us 4:3 is the evolution of the media brand. Audiences are tired of white noise delivered by publishers who are trying to hack an algorithm through engagement bait content".

4:3 Creative Director Amar Ediriwira adds: "Holding a mirror up to internet culture, 4:3 omnivorously pulls anything from a feature film to a music video to found footage to a meme. The platforms seeks to challenge notions of 'high' and 'low' art, all the while expanding the ways we experience moving image and sound. 4:3 will also be the stage for Boiler Room's original filmmaking and commissions".

Ahead of its full launch on 29 May, you can play around with the beta version of the service here.


The Education Conference: In The Classroom
Over the coming weeks, we will be summarising all the key conversations that occurred during the CMU Insights conferences at The Great Escape this year. We are currently focusing on The Education Conference and today music teaching in schools.

When it comes to music in schools, training for teachers, access to instruments and technology, and the actual definition of music itself are all key, according to the first panel at the CMU Insights Education Conference at The Great Escape. And all three of those factors are interlinked.

Discussing music education in schools were Dan Francis of exam board RSL, Robert Wells from Urban Development and Vanessa Wilson from Value Added Kids, all of whom have a wide-range of experience in music and music education, including in the classroom.

"There is a national curriculum for music", Francis said when asked about what is required of schools - and specifically primary schools - when it comes to teaching music. "It is about two paragraphs long and it covers everything. And you can pretty much sum it up in one sentence: it says children should learn how to appreciate and engage in music".

Quite what that means in real terms, Francis added, depends on "the attitude of the school leadership team, what the head teacher goes for, and the school's relationship with external organisations". The latter is particularly important in primary schools because, Francis noted, "we know that training in music for primary teachers is essentially non-existent, so you are relying on outsourcing".

"There are increasing number of schools who are bring in specialists", Wells said. "And it is really key that those people have the right training". Which means ensuring that people have both teaching and musical skills, of course. But also that, across the different specialists a school employs, that there is an appreciation for and knowledge of the many different kinds of music making.

That variety is important, Wilson concurred. "Primary school kids are hungry and bored. They are running radio stations, they are using Garageband, they are editing, they are using Macs", all of which can be capitalised on when teaching music in schools. Though doing so brings up the issue of access to the right instruments and technology, and sometimes simply spaces where children can use that kit. Which is something Wilson says often requires her to beg and borrow off her contacts in the music industry.

Ensuring diversity in music teaching requires teachers to teach beyond their own passions and experience, and possibly to look for external specialists who can bring in another perspective. "It often feels like there is a bias towards classical music", Francis said of the music taught in schools. "I think that's partly because it's seen as the most difficult one, so therefore there needs to be more focus on it, and it's the one children aren't already engaged with, so people think we need to try and enthuse them in it".

But the curriculum isn't forcing that bias, Francis added, so it's about encouraging teachers to bring more variety into the classroom. And that's true whatever the teacher's own background. "It's just as bad if you're a producer and your trying to get everyone to make only dance music as it is if you're from a classical background and you want everyone to be a virtuoso violinist", Francis reckoned.

"Creating music is creating music", Wilson went on. "It's sad that there is sometimes a 'them and us' culture between the different genres. We need a model that embraces music in all its forms".

Obviously, as a child works their way through the education system from primary to secondary, music teaching will become slightly more formal, especially if they choose to study the subject at GCSE or A-Level. At that point, Francis explained, "the Department of Education decides what should be in the courses and then OfQual oversees them. And then the exam boards put in as much flexibility as they can".

However, all three panellists were keen to stress that while the more formal qualifications - GCSEs, A-Levels and the exam routes also available in specific instruments - remain important for some students, they are just part of the bigger picture.

For those interested in pursuing a career in music other more vocational courses and programmes may be of more value. And there is also a less measurable objective. As Wells put it: "The whole point of what we should be doing is to give people the skills they need to comment and create upon what it means to be a human being and a person in our culture at our time".


Independent Music Cup charity five-a-side tournament returns
The Independent Music Cup five-a-side charity football tournament is set to return for its fourth year in July. This year, it will raise money for London charity the Young Urban Arts Foundation.

"With youth fatalities on the increase every week due to knife crime our programmes are more needed than ever", says YUAF CEO Kerry O'Brien. "As the CEO, it's my responsibility to get as many projects as possible out there to keep the young people off the streets and improving how they feel about themselves and their environments. I am so appreciative of IMC choosing my charity YUAF to support this year and the difference that the funding raised will make. I am equally excited about how much fun it will be on the day!"

This year, 32 mixed-gender teams will compete in the tournament, representing labels, management companies, media, retail and more. Moxie, Anu and Mafalda will DJ on the day, and there will be other associated events before and after the tournament itself.

Find out more here.


Approved: Yasha
Joe Gillick is the co-founder of online radio station Orphan and also one half of experimental pop duo FKL. As Yasha, he steps out as a solo producer, with a debut single inspired by his hometown of London and adopted home in Seattle.

Side A of the release, 'Landing In SW9', is inspired by a return visit to London after two years away. Meanwhile - available to listen to now - side B, 'Landing In 209', comes from the perspective of being a newcomer in Seattle. With shades of UK garage, the track is also influenced by the warehouse techno scene he found in his new environs.

The two tracks will be released on twelve-inch on 1 Jun, with a release party with Equiknoxx, DJ Firmeza and Debit at Seattle's Comedy Underground that night.

Listen to 'Landing In 209' here.

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

R Kelly says efforts to silence him are 30 years too late
R Kelly has been filmed saying that the #MuteRKelly campaign is "too late" to silence him, to the cheers of friends. The comments were seemingly made in a Facebook Live video shared on 17 May, a portion of which was subsequently shared by sports and entertainment lawyer Exavier Pope.

"I got a million motherfuckers hating me, but 40 billion motherfuckers loving me", says Kelly in the video, mildly exaggerating the number of motherfuckers in existence. "I'm gonna take this musical shit, and I'm gonna inject these motherfuckers with this musical, beautiful motherfucking shit. I am handcuffed ... by my destiny".

He goes on: "It's too late, they shoulda did this shit 30 years ago. It's too late. The music has been injected into the world ... I wanna propose a toast to all the strong motherfuckers in here, cos motherfuckers like you is why I still continue to do what I do. I have a basketball mentality. As long as I've got the ball, the world is on defence".

TMZ - which has become something of an R Kelly cheerleader of late, as campaigners have become more vocal against the musician - says it has spoken to sources who insist that the speech was entirely intended to state the strength of the musician's musical legacy. Although, having watched the original broadcast on Facebook, Pope said that it was cut off after someone in the room said "if you're recording this, you've gotta go".

Companies associated with Kelly have been subject to increasing calls to cut ties with him of late, of course. This follows a number of new sexual abuse allegations made against him, which join numerous others made over the course of his career. Spotify recently announced that it would cease to include his music in its in-house playlists.

Earlier this week, a new lawsuit was filed against Kelly in New York by a woman who accuses him of sexual battery, false imprisonment and failure to disclose a sexually transmitted disease.


Darwin Deez announces new album, reveals the world's best kisser
Darwin Deez has gone and announced his fourth album, 'Ten Songs That Happened When You Left Me With My Stupid Heart'. Along with this news, he's put out new single 'The World's Best Kisser'.

Among other things, he says the new album will have lyrics. Proper lyrics, mind, not just some words. "Ever since I bought my first CD - 'Last Splash' by the Breeders - I've been internally railing against the kind of vague nonsensical stuff that passed for lyrics in the 90s", he explains. "It's not that it was objectively bad, but it was so cryptic and over my thirteen year old head that it infuriated me. Everyone is getting a free pass, lyrically".

He goes on: "I've always respected country songwriters because they're some of the last ones standing, lyrically. They're some of the last writers not to be getting away with murder out here. They don't mess around in Nashville."

The new single, he adds, is "a reflection on the mystery of attraction and the attraction of mysteries".

"After writing the song, I learned via Joseph Campbell of Thomas Mann's concept of 'erotic irony'", he says. "[That is the idea] that flaws/imperfections are what make a person identifiable within a piece of devotional art" he goes on. "And so to write a love song that is truly about a specific person is to write something that cuts the person down to size a bit. Which is paradoxical but true - that in order to glorify someone in a love song, you might point out their defects".

Watch the video for 'The World's Best Kisser' here.


Lauryn Hill announces Miseducation shows
Lauryn Hill has announced UK and Ireland tour dates to mark the 20th anniversary of her debut solo album, 'The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill'.

"This album chronicled an intimate piece of my young existence", she says. "It was the summation of most, if not all, of my most hopeful and positive emotions experienced to that date. I loved and believed deeply in my community's ability to both love and heal itself provided it received the right amount of support and encouragement".

She continues: "Our world today, both complex and changing, is in need of the balance between moral fortitude and cathartic expression. I hope the love and energy that permeated this work can continue to inspire change with love and optimism at the helm".

Here are the dates:

23 Nov: Glasgow, Hydro
26 Nov: Manchester Arena
27 Nov: Birmingham Arena
30 Nov: Dublin, 3Arena
3 Dec: O2 Arena


Mixcloud, Tyler, The Creator, Abra Cadabra, 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.

• Song rights hub ICE has announced a new deal with Mixcloud providing the user-upload platform for mixes and radio shows with a multi-territory licence covering the rights of collecting societies PRS, STIM and GEMA.

• Third Side Music has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Lust Under Heaven, aka vocalist Ebony Hoorn and former Wu Lyf frontman Ellery James Roberts. "We're THRILLED", says A&R Director Brontë Jane.

• Tyler, The Creator has released a video for "a random song" called '435', featuring a sample of St Etienne's '4:35 In The Morning'

• Abra Cadabra is back with new single 'Sherry Coco'.

• Confidence Man have released the video for 'Out The Window'. They play Village Underground in London on 30 May.

• Set to release their debut album, 'Endless Scroll', on 6 Jul, Bodega have announced UK tour dates the same month. Among various dates, they'll play The Dome in London on 12 Jul. Here's the video for latest single 'Jack In Titanic'.

• Asbjørn has released new single, 'We & I'. "'We & I' is a fuck you but I love you kind of song", he says. "Writing it was like taking back the power over my own heart".

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


Lily Allen turns trolls into marketing assistants
Trolling celebrities on the internet is a serious artform. The trolls are all like, "You're rubbish!" And the celebs are all like, "I'm gonna block you!" And then the trolls are like, "I won! I have transcended humanity and become God!" Although they have met their match with Lily Allen this week, despite them uncovering the shocking news that she has genitals.

"This photo will be on the internet forever Lils", wrote one plucky Twitter user yesterday, posting a photo of Allen performing live without underwear.

Currently preparing to release her new album, 'No Shame', next month, Allen quickly spied a marketing opportunity, retweeting the message, adding: "LOOK AT MY 2014 NEATLY TRIMMED VAGINA, 3 HUMANS CAME OUT OF THERE. #NoShame June 8th"

Meanwhile, she has been further promoting that new album by talking about how the last one wasn't very good.

"I think that the idea going into 'Sheezus' was really well-intentioned", she tells Stereogum. "I think I was suffering from postnatal depression when I started writing it, and I think I was having an identity crisis, that I did not know I was a new mum. I felt like I needed to be a pop star to pay my bills, and I didn't feel like that, so I did what I thought pop stars should do, and it was very wrong".

It wasn't only her struggling to balance being a pop star and a mother at that time, she reckons. "I think also the record industry doesn't know how to deal with it", she says. "It's like, 'Shit, those tits are for selling records with, not feeding children with', you know? 'What are we meant to do with those?'"

She continues: "I think the record industry is the boys club, and I think the boys club are OK with manipulating young women that don't have any responsibilities. And maybe they feel slightly more guilty behaving that way when a woman's got children, and their life is real, all of a sudden, you know? It's OK to rip off a little crap that's taking drugs and getting fucked up. But it's not really that cool to do that to a young mum".

Read the full Stereogum interview here.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
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Caro 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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