TODAY'S TOP STORY: Sony Music has started to explain to artists with music in its catalogues and indie labels that it distributes how it intends to share the booty secured from selling half of its Spotify equity... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Sony outlines plans for sharing Spotify share-sale loot with artists and indies
LEGAL Stream-ripping sites PickVideo, Video-download and Easyload cease operations
DJ Khaled sues over trademarks exploiting his infant son's name
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Snapchat partners with Pandora
ARTIST NEWS Robbie Williams gives middle finger to critics (and the rest of the world) during World Cup performance
GIGS & FESTIVALS Song, By Toad announces tenth birthday celebrations
ONE LINERS Spotify, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, Alessia Cara, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #408: Pusha T v A Fox
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Sony outlines plans for sharing Spotify share-sale loot with artists and indies
Sony Music has started to explain to artists with music in its catalogues and indie labels that it distributes how it intends to share the booty secured from selling half of its Spotify equity.

A memo on the topic talks somewhat vaguely about "eligible artists and participants" without really explaining how eligibility is defined, and the paragraph on the major's 'allocation methodology' is quite something. But the official comms and a commitment to start making payments by August will nevertheless be welcomed by managers and indies who have often felt left in the dark about these things. And the Spotify loot payments won't be subject to recoupment, which is welcome news.

All three majors and indie-label repping Merlin secured equity in Spotify as part of their initial licensing deals. Most decided to offload at least some of that equity pretty much as soon as the streaming music firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange back in April. Sony Corp subsequently confirmed it had sold about half of its 5.7% stake.

Artists and their managers questioned for years whether they'd get to share in the profits when the labels sold their Spotify shares. By the time Spotify finally listed, most labels had committed to share that money in some way, which then posed the question: what about those indie labels distributed by the majors and the artists signed to those indies.

For its part, Sony has committed to share its Spotify booty with both artists and distributed labels. Though the devil is always in the detail, and this week's memo aimed to provide some of that detail. Which it did. Sort of.

"Since 3 Apr, Sony Music Entertainment has sold a portion of the Spotify equity we owned", states the memo, which Billboard has published in full, having acquired a copy of the missive sent out by Sony's Canadian division. Sony will now share what it calls 'Spotify Net Proceeds' - what it got from the share sale minus legal and admin costs associated with said sale - "with eligible artists and participants as soon as possible, targeting to make payments before the end of August".

As for how the money will be shared, it goes on: "Sharing will be equally based upon each eligible artist's or participant's percentage of SME's overall revenue and each eligible artist's and participant's SME Spotify revenue during the period when the equity was held by SME".

Expanding on its 'allocation methodology', Sony says: "SME obtained Spotify equity by, in part, balancing the strength of over one hundred years of SME's history and success, both the past and the present. Therefore we are going to use an allocation methodology which equally weighs both SME's overall revenue and SME's Spotify revenue during the period SME held the equity ('The Calculation Period') to share Spotify Net Proceeds with eligible artists and participants". Yeah, that.

"We believe this allocation methodology gives proper recognition to those artists currently on roster and in our catalogue that were the foundation of SME when the Spotify equity was obtained", the major adds. The methodology, it then confirms, will result "in an allocation to nearly 100,000 eligible artists and participants across almost two million unique titles".

Confirming that each artist's share of the loot won't be simply set off against unrecouped advances or label costs - meaning unrecouped artists will actually see some cash in their bank accounts - the memo says: "Given the unprecedented value realised from this equity, payments will be made without recovery of outstanding advances and recording costs, or other recoupable sums - ie, without regard to recoupment - and regardless of whether specifically required by contract".

Sony then says that it hopes this particular policy, which will be popular with artists and managers, is seen "as a gesture of goodwill to our music creators". Isn't that nice? Who doesn't love a bit of goodwill to music creators? Presumably there's a legal reason for including that statement in the memo. A goodwill legal reason, though, I'm sure.

The memo concludes: "The benefit of the Spotify investment presented SME with a unique opportunity to pay additional compensation to all of our eligible artists and participants. As we liquidate this holding in a disciplined manner over time, we will continue to make payments to all of our eligible artists and participants in the same way".


Stream-ripping sites PickVideo, Video-download and Easyload cease operations
Stream-ripping remains a top piracy gripe of the music industry. The anti-piracy brigade sees websites that enable people to easily download permanent copies of content contained in streams, especially YouTube videos, as a top concern. So those brigaders will presumably be pleased to hear that several such sites seem to have ceased operations this week.

Having decided a couple of years ago that stream-ripping was now the piracy problem of the moment, the record industry took aim at one of the biggest stream-ripping sites in the world - - which ultimately shut itself down last year after being sued by the Recording Industry Association Of America.

The stream rippers themselves quickly jumped to rival sites, but the music industry has been busy putting legal pressure on many of those as well. Torrentfreak reports that, as a result, sites like, and have now all ceased operations, citing either general concerns following the YouTube-MP3 action or actual cease and desist letters they have received from copyright owners.

PickVideo's home page now reads: "We're sorry to inform you that all downloading and conversion services have been disabled to comply with a 'cease and desist' request. Thank you to everyone who used PickVideo while it lasted". Meanwhile says it has disabled its stream-ripping operations because of what happened to YouTube-mp3 "which was based in Germany (so are we)".

Of course, there remain plenty more stream-ripping services just a Google search away and it remains to be seen how many of those can be pressured offline with mere threats of legal action. Some sites may feel they are based in a jurisdiction where actual litigation would be hard to pursue or they might fancy having a go at using the popular "but our service has legitimate uses" argument in court.

Ultimately download-based piracy is slowly slipping into decline anyway as consumers shift over to consuming music via streams rather than actual files stored on their devices. Although because free streaming services often don't provide offline listening functionality (that often being the big selling point of premium accounts), some users still want the option to download tracks for when they don't have a net connection or are out of mobile data.


DJ Khaled sues over trademarks exploiting his infant son's name
DJ Khaled has sued an American company over allegations it is trying to exploit his eighteen month old son's name and profile for profit without permission. Khaled's son is called Asahd and boasts 1.9 million followers on his Instagram account, which is currently plugging Khaled Junior's new partnership with Nike's Jordan brand.

In a lawsuit filed this week, Khaled Senior accuses Business Moves Consulting and its boss Curtis Bordenave of brazenly attempting to trade off the back of his son's profile by seeking to register various marks linked to the name Asahd shortly after the boy's birth. The lawsuit also accuses Bordenave of trying to interfere in the Khaled family's brand partnership deal with Nike.

The lawsuit states: "Plaintiffs bring this action to halt the brazen attempt by trademark pirates ... to usurp and trade on the names and trademarks of world-famous entertainer Khaled M Khaled, known popularly as 'DJ Khaled', and his eighteen month old son, Asahd Tuck Khaled".

Noting Bordenave's attempts to register and exploit other trademarks that imply links to celebrities or celebrities' children, the lawsuit wants the court to ban the defendant from registering and using the Asahd-linked marks, and seeks damages and any profits made to date using Asahd's name.

For his part, Bordenave told Law360 that he believes his company researches, registers and exploits trademarks with "good intent" and therefore "we're prepared to fight this to the end".


Snapchat partners with Pandora
Snapchat has announced a new platform for third party developers, called Snap Kit. Among various partners at launch - which also include Tinder and Patreon - it has made its official music streaming partner good old Pandora. You know, Pandora. Woo, Pandora!

Using Snapchat's all new developer tools, Pandora will allow the snapchatting snapchatters of SnapchatVille to share songs through the social network, featuring album artwork on animated backgrounds (imagine!). Recipients will then be able to swipe up to listen to the track on Pandora, if that's the sort of thing they want to do. And who wouldn't? I mean, it all sounds so simple, doesn't it? What a world we live in.

"This will be a powerful and comprehensive social integration with music", says Pandora's Chief Product Officer Chris Phillips. "The Snapchat product experience and user base are primed for sharing, and our collaboration will provide a creative and compelling way to discover and enjoy music in a way that's intuitive to Snapchatters".

Snapchat's VP Product Jacob Andreou adds: "We're always looking for more ways to bring Snapchat into the world and the world into Snapchat. With their vast music library, Pandora's partnership with Snap Kit will help us make it easier and more fun for Snapchatters to share the music they love".

Here's to sharing music being fun again. At last! Of course, it'll only be fun in the US, the one country where Pandora is available. For the rest of us, telling other people about music we love will continue to be a tedious, soulless and dismal experience. Like it's meant to be.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Hacienda Classical at Kenwood House
A somewhat refined tip this week, as we head to the rather spiffing venue of Kenwood House in Hampstead for the latest outing of Hacienda Classical.

Curated by Fac51 gurus Mike Pickering and Graeme Park, Hacienda Classical is the orchestral house mash-up, featuring the Manchester Camarata Orchestra playing classic club tracks from the 1990s.

Also on the bill tonight are Orbital and Leftfield, who will be turning in their own DJ sets. Wowsers!

Friday 15 Jun, Kenwood House, Hampstead Lane, London, NW3 7JR, 5pm-10.30pm, £49.50. More info here.

Robbie Williams gives middle finger to critics (and the rest of the world) during World Cup performance
Robbie Williams responded to critics of his World Cup opening ceremony appearance yesterday. Well, presumably that's who his middle finger was aimed at.

Williams performed at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium ahead of the first game in that big football kicking festival that has now, well, kicked off. He had been heavily criticised for accepting the booking, given the various controversies involving World Cup-hosting Russia at the moment, with Labour MP John Woodcock accusing the pop star of "handing Vladimir Putin a PR coup".

Meanwhile, Bill Browder, who heads up the Global Magnitsky Justice campaign, which was set up in the wake of the death of Russian anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, tweeted a message to Williams declaring: "There's lots of ways to make money, but selling your soul to a dictator shouldn't be one of them. Shame on you".

The show, however, went ahead as planned, critics be damned. Though, while performing 'Rock DJ', Williams changed some of the lyrics to "I did this for free", before staring into the camera and flashing his middle finger.

In the US - where middle fingers and sports don't mix, just ask MIA - the network broadcasting the opening ceremony (and the rest of the World Cup), Fox, quickly issued a statement distancing itself from Williams' digit.

"The 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony was a newsworthy event produced by a third party and carried live on Fox", it said. "As it was broadcast live, we did not know what would happen during Robbie Williams' performance and we apologise".

Russia went on to win the opening match against Saudi Arabia 5-0. It's not yet clear how Twitter bots, hackers and fake news makers - let alone Williams' middle finger - influenced this outcome.


Song, By Toad announces tenth birthday celebrations
Independent label Song, By Toad Records has announced plans for its tenth birthday celebrations. These will kick off with a label showcase at Glasgow's Solas Festival later this month, featuring Siobhan Wilson, Adam Stafford and Jonnie Common.

"Jonnie, Adam and Siobhan represent the real core of the record label as it stands in 2018", says Song, By Toad founder Matthew Young. "We've seen a lot of bands come and go over the years, made tons of friends and worked with dozens of people, but in terms of friendships, working relationships, and a spread of music attributes from experimental to pop, abrasive, poignant and amusing, these three artists pretty much tell you everything you need to know about us as we stand after ten years of work".

Following the Solas appearance next week, there will be a run of birthday shows in the label's hometown of Edinburgh, as well as in London and at Inshriach House in the Cairngorms, through the autumn and winter.

"There have been so many great aspects to the label over the years, I just wanted to celebrate, honestly", Young continues. "Running a record label is always about the next thing you have to do, so I think everyone from the people we work with to the fans who support us could do with a chance to just have a wee pause and say, 'Fuck it, isn't this brilliant, isn't this a wonderful thing which we do between us?' So we have arranged gigs which express separate aspects of the label, from what motivated me to start it, to the various friendships we've created over the years".

The line-ups for the shows are still to be announced, but here are the dates for your diary:

15 Sep: Inshriach House, Inshriach
28 Sep: Leith Depot, Edinburgh
15 Nov: Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh
23 Nov: St John on Bethnal Green, London
15 Dec: Leith Cricket Club, Edinburgh


Spotify, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, Alessia Cara, 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.

• Concord Music COO Glen Barros and Embassy Of Music MD Konrad Von Löhneysen have been appointed to the main board of global record industry trade group IFPI. Barros has already been there for six years, while Von Löhneysen is a newbie, replacing daWorks' Jørn Dalchow. IFPI boss Frances Moore is "delighted" that Barros is sticking around, and "also very pleased" about Von Löhneysen joining the gang.

• Kobalt's AWAL division has hired Warner Bros Records exec Michael Pukownik to be its Senior Vice President, Head Of Artist Marketing, North America. Not the snappiest job title, he should probably just shorten it to 'US Buzz Wizard' on his business cards. "Michael epitomises the music executive of the future", says AWAL's Ron Cerrito of his new cyborg colleague. Pukownik, by the way, is "THRILLED".

• Spotify has confirmed that George Ergatoudis has left the company. The former Radio 1 music chief was one of the streaming firm's higher profile hires. He joined Spotify in 2016 after the company got all serious about playlist control. There is speculation he is now heading to Apple. You know, now it's got all serious about playlist control.

• Talking of high profile Spotify execs leaving the company, the streaming firm has also confirmed the departure of Mark Williamson, who played a key role when the digital music company first started proactively reaching out to the artist and management community.

• Earlier this week, Ariana Grande said that her collaboration with Nicki Minaj, 'Bed', would be released on Thursday. She did not lie.

• Gorillaz have released yet another new song, 'Fire Flies'.

• Alessia Cara is back with new single 'Growing Pains'.

• George Ezra has released the video for 'Shotgun', from his latest album 'Staying At Tamara's'.

• Mura Masa is back with new track 'Move Me'. "It's been some time since I released music and I've been toying a lot with creating stand-alone moments rather than long-form releases", he says. "This is the first instance of letting a track be its own story and free in the world, rather than it becoming overthought or forced into a bigger project".

• Dirty Projectors have released new track, 'That's A Lifestyle'. New album 'Lamp Lit Prose' is out on 13 Jul.

• Yann Tiersen has put out a new two track release, 'The Lost Notebook'. It features two songs that didn't appear on his last album, 'Eusa', because the notebook containing his notes for them was lost until recently.

• Protomartyr have released another track from their new Kelley Deal-produced EP, 'Consolidation'. Here's 'You Always Win'.

• Dorian Concept will release new album, 'The Nature Of Imitation', on 3 Aug. Here's the first track from it, 'Promises'.

• Sumac have announced that they will release new album, 'Love In Shadow', on 21 Sep. Here's a trailer.

• Jet have reformed and will play four UK shows next month - including one at The Forum in London on 17 Jul - to mark the fifteen anniversary of their debut album, 'Get Born'. They'll be playing that album in full at those shows. They've also just released a new live album, 'Get Born - Live At The Forum'. To be clear, that album was not recorded at the Forum show happening next month.

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


Beef Of The Week #408: Pusha T v A Fox
Pusha T's renewed beef with Drake was billed as the rap showdown of the summer. After it all kicked off, Pusha T said he planned to "deal in truths all summer long". Then it all fizzled out disappointingly, and before the clouds had even moved. And it turns out that is not the only confrontation the rapper has walked away from recently, although avoiding a punch up with a fox was possibly a wiser decision.

Discussing recording sessions for his latest album 'Daytona' with GQ, he says that the weirdest thing that happened during said sessions - which took place in Wyoming - was being "chased by a fox".

He doesn't give much detail on this encounter, despite further probing by GQ's interviewer. All he will say is that the fox didn't like him "being in their habitat, invading their habitat". For someone so adept at painting pictures with words, it's frustrating how little insight he provides here. Perhaps he's saving it for a track on his next album.

He was frightened "for sure", he says. "I ran. But it kept coming towards me".

But what was he doing out there in the fox's habitat in the first place?

Earlier in the interview he says that the sessions had "a very rehab type of feel". They were, he goes on, "secluded, away, super laser focused on the music. Clean living. Disconnected from everybody except those who are about the art. I was just focused on health".

Perhaps he was out hiking then, or camping one night, or engaging in some sunrise pilates, when he stumbled into the fox's territory. All three seem unlikely, though, as he also notes that he's "not an outdoors person".

And that's it, people. That's the sum total of information he offers on his foxy encounter. I have so many questions. How far was he chased? What was the terrain like? What was the speed of said chase? How close was he to civilisation at the time?

You know, there's a family of foxes that live in my neighbour's garden. They dig up my lawn, shit in my flower beds and deposit mangled dog toys they've found in other gardens all over the place. I still quite like watching them play together first thing in the morning though, when they think no one's around.

But I suppose the key thing here is that I watch the foxes from inside my house. I've never gone outside and tried to engage with them. Thinking about it, if I did do that, and if I sensed they were turning against me, and that some sort of chase was impending, I'd probably run away too. I'm not suggesting I have many things in common with Pusha T, but we seemingly both share a solid understanding that wild animals are not to be toyed with.

I originally imagined Pusha T's fox confrontation occurring in the wilderness. Deep in a forest somewhere. But given how similar mine and Pusha T's lives clearly are, maybe they hung out right outside his studio, digging up the lawn, shitting in the flower beds and depositing mangled dog toys they'd found in other gardens all over the place. And maybe the chase was just the final in a long line of fox-based encounters. Maybe he is hesitant to properly describe the incident because it has left him highly traumatised.

Now I come to think about it, far from him saving this fox encounter for future lyrics, who's to say that this daily fox-based trauma didn't subconsciously influence the entire writing process on 'Daytona' itself?

"I've been hidin where you can see me, the skybox is right next to RiRi's", he raps on opening track 'If You Know, You Know'. Assumed to be a brag about his wealth and social standing, could it not be that this is a message aimed directly at the fox?

He runs from the fox, but the fox can still see him. Frozen with terror, he fantasises that he is actually in the shelter of a VIP box at a stadium in a more urban setting. In the next box is Rihanna, someone who was once criticised for wearing a fox fur lined dress, so presumably knows a thing or two about showing foxes who's boss. But he's not in that VIP box and Rihanna is nowhere to be seen. He's in a hellhole in Wyoming, being tormented by a still very much living fox.

On 'The Games We Play' he longs to "Play amongst the stars like the roof in the Wraith" - recalling the star-covered ceiling of a Rolls Royce Wraith. This, I now suspect, is both a reference to looking at actual stars in the real night sky, prior to facing down an angry fox, and the expression of a desire to enjoy the comforts of a luxury vehicle. Roll Royces being specifically designed so that wild animals can't open their doors.

Still need convincing? How about this? On 'Come Back Baby' he says "The good die young, all dogs go to heaven". I think that speaks for itself. Foxes aren't technically dogs, of course. But then, hip hop is notoriously inaccurate when it comes to specie allocation.

And what about this on 'Santeria'? "The Lord is my shepherd, I am not sheep, I am just a short stone's throw from the streets". Clearly this refers to an all-round confusion as to why he is being targeted by the fox, when foxes are more commonly known for attacking farm animals like chickens and sheep. Wait, do foxes eat sheep? I guess the line wouldn't work if it involved chickens. This isn't a Eurovision entry.

Whatever, he thinks the fox may have mistaken him for a sheep - which he is not - and although this frightening situation has arisen, he knows that he is not far from a nearby street, where he can ask another non-sheep (aka human) for help. This not only proves a fear of foxes runs throughout this record, it also gives credence to my theory that the fox encounter happened near some kind of human habitation.

I reckon that confirms it. 'Daytona' is an album definitely influenced by a fear of imminent fox attack. Probably not an entire concept album just about an angry fox, but certainly one laced with fox anxiety throughout. I mean, there's so much bravado and bragging in the lyrics, but knowing what we now know, that's clearly all bluff, designed to keep any future foxes thinking of instigating a chase in their place.

Now I'm wondering if Pusha T's entire catalogue is based around a fear of animals and birds of different varieties. Which would, after all, explain the beef with Drake.


ANDY MALT | Editor
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