TODAY'S TOP STORY: AEG-operated London venues The O2 and Wembley Arena have announced a new alliance with the live giant's own ticketing business AXS. It will see the creation of a marketplace where fans can resell tickets they have bought, but only at face value with a maximum 10% admin fee... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES AEG venues ally with new AXS ticket resale site, end StubHub partnership
LABELS & PUBLISHERS CD Baby opens London office
MEDIA 1Xtra strengthens music team with new appointments
ARTIST NEWS Childish Gambino's manager denies This Is America plagiarism claims
GIGS & FESTIVALS Rufus Wainwright announces anniversary shows
Deaf Havana announce one-off London show
Brexit Big Band announces new live dates
ONE LINERS Sheryl Crow & St Vincent, Rick Ross & Future, Guns N Roses, more
AND FINALLY... Adele planning to record some songs and release them
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AEG venues ally with new AXS ticket resale site, end StubHub partnership
AEG-operated London venues The O2 and Wembley Arena have announced a new alliance with the live giant's own ticketing business AXS. It will see the creation of a marketplace where fans can resell tickets they have bought, but only at face value with a maximum 10% admin fee. The new price-capped resale set-up will launch as the two venues end their formal partnership with eBay's secondary ticketing site StubHub.

This is the latest effort by the live industry to counter one of the main excuses used by the big players in the secondary ticketing sector. That being that there need to be websites where fans can sell on tickets because most venues and promoters have a 'no refunds' policy. That policy means that, if a fan buys a ticket genuinely intending to go to a show but then can't, ethically speaking they should be able to sell that ticket on, even if the terms and conditions technically ban resale.

Critics of the secondary ticketing market accuse industrial level touts and the resale platforms they employ of hiding behind these fans who genuinely intended to go to a show. The argument goes that - while there may well be lots of fans in that situation trying to sell on their tickets via sites like StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and Get Me In - most of the money generated in the secondary market, and most of the commissions collected by those websites, come from a small group of commercial ticket touts.

On the flip side, supporters of the secondary market argue that efforts by some in the live sector to crack down on ticket touting may also be hitting genuine fans. For example, where promoters are routinely cancelling tickets known to have been resold, that action may also impact on fans who - while technically not allowed to sell on their tickets - probably should be able to, given the no refunds policy.

With that in mind, various venues and promoters have set up services via which fans who need to sell on tickets - because they can no longer attend - can do so, but only at face value (with a capped admin fee). Many promoters appoint a third party website to do this, like Twickets, while some ticketing firms have set up their own services. These endorsed resale platforms make it easier to transfer the name of the ticket from original buyer to new buyer, which can be important if a promoter is cracking down on the touts.

The AXS Marketplace also does all this, although its system is arguably more sophisticated than what has gone before, should be more user-friendly, and is definitely more open access. Or open AXS maybe.

The ticketing company is certainly very pleased with its technology, which includes what it calls 'Flash Seats' mobile delivery, a set up already used by some AXS clients Stateside. All in all, it reckons the AXS Marketplace is "a unique ticket resale platform ... that incorporates state of the art ticketing technology" so to give venues and promoters "better management over the resale market".

The company brags on: "For the first time ever, tickets for sale using AXS, including primary and secondary, will be visible to consumers at the point of purchase in real time. It will also eliminate confusion and remove fan anxiety as to whether their ticket is actually valid for entry".

The new marketplace will launch with AEG's flagship venues - The O2 and Wembley Arena - on board, with a view to then rolling out the service across Europe. The new marketplace comes as the anti-ticket touting campaign continues to gain momentum in a number of European countries, not least the UK.

Whereas its rival Live Nation is in the secondary ticketing business, owning Seatwave, Get Me In and other resale sites, AEG can try to position itself as the go to business partner for artists who oppose touting. Of course, AEG has worked with StubHub over the years, and continues to do so in the US. But no more at The O2 and Wembley.

A spokesperson for StubHub confirmed to IQ this morning that its partnership with AEG's London arenas was coming to an end. They said: "StubHub and AEG have taken the mutual decision to end their partnership after five years, as AEG moves exclusively to AXS, a ticketing solution owned and operated by AEG. In this time, we have enjoyed a successful partnership with AEG in the UK. As we part ways, we welcome the increased competition which AEG's marketplace will bring to consumers and the industry at large".

Back at AEG HQ, the boss of AEG Europe, Tom Miserendino, reckons that the AXS Marketplace is just what the European live industry (other than Live Nation and its Ticketmaster division, presumably) is calling for.

He told reporters: "There has been a noticeable shift in the industry recently and more of our artists and promoters want a better solution to ensure fans get an authentic ticket at a fair price. Through AXS Marketplace, Flash Seats mobile delivery and capped pricing, we can now deliver this. It is fairer for fans, eliminates counterfeiting, combats touting and allows us to have a complete view of everyone at the event".

Meanwhile the boss of AXS Europe, Robert Byrne, added: "[The Marketplace] will help prevent ticket touting and help combat illegal counterfeiting. We know that fans, artists and their representatives have been looking for a solution to these issues for a long time and we believe AXS Marketplace with Flash Seats mobile delivery will be a real game-changer".

Anti-tout campaigning group FanFair - which has always supported what are sometimes called 'ethical resale sites' - welcomed the launch of the AXS Marketplace.

It told CMU this morning: "FanFair Alliance welcomes today's announcement by AXS. While our campaign has helped deliver significant legislative and regulatory changes, we are now seeing tangible progress in the UK's ticketing market and a seemingly unstoppable trend towards services that offer consumer-friendly resale".

The statement goes on: "AXS Marketplace looks like a significant addition to these, capping resale at 10% of the original ticket price and deploying mobile technology so that artist teams can better protect fans and lock out the touts. Our supporters will look forward to further information from AXS about the platform's rollout and launch".


CD Baby opens London office
DIY music distribution platform CD Baby has opened a new London office - its first outside the Americas - focussed on developing the business in Europe. It will be headed up by Rich Orchard, who joins the US-based company from Absolute Label Services, having also previously worked on the other side of the licensing business at Activision.

"I'm extremely pleased to welcome Rich Orchard to the team", says CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux. "Given his experience in independent music distribution, music licensing and technology development, Rich is one of the most well-rounded candidates we considered for the role. He's a great fit with the team and understands every perspective on how we make the CD Baby platform valuable to our users. I am sure he will prove a valuable resource to the 40,000+ artists we support in the UK and EU".

Orchard adds: "In what is undoubtedly a golden age to be making music and self-releasing, I am THRILLED to be joining a team that embodies the DIY ethos and everything it means to be independent. I am hugely looking forward to our deeper relationship hereon with the UK and European artist community, as we support and empower them through our platform and services to grow their audience, maximise revenue streams, and take their career to the next stage".

As well as Orchard, the UK office will also be staffed by Steve Cusack, who takes on the role of Artist Relations & Promotions Representative. CD Baby's Head Of Creator Services Jon Bahr is "THRILLED to bring Steve on board". Given that the new office is on a boat, he means that quite literally.


1Xtra strengthens music team with new appointments
The fine people - I'm sure they're fine - I don't know them - I've never met them - who knows? - but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt - hence "fine people" - hell, let's go with the VERY fine people at 1Xtra have announced some new appointments to strengthen their music team.

That DJ Target takes on a new role at the station in addition to playing some records and talking in between them, becoming 1Xtra's "talent and music lead". No, I don't know what that means either. But I'm told that he'll now chair the 1Xtra playlist meeting and lead on live event programming. In addition to his evening show.

Meanwhile Sarah Beaumont, currently a producer on the music team, will now lead music programming and editorial. I'm not really sure what that means either. I mean, obviously it means she'll be leading on music programming and editorial. But isn't pretty much all programming and editorial on 1Xtra music-centric? So, what does everyone else do?

Talking of everyone else, here is Chris Price, Head Of Music at both Radio 1 and 1Xtra, with some words: "I'm absolutely delighted to put this team together. Target and Sarah will bring a new energy to 1Xtra at this critical time in its growth, and this new approach to music strategy will only help build on 1Xtra's world-class reputation for bringing the best of black music and culture to young audiences. I'm THRILLED also to congratulate Jade and Mel on their well-deserved promotions".

Oh yes, Jade and Mel's promotions. I forgot to tell you about Jade and Mel's promotions. Jade and Mel have been promoted. And about time too, I say.


Approved: Ebony Bones
Ebony Bones recently announced the release of her third album, 'Nephilim', set for 20 Jul, putting out its title track at the same time. A collaboration with the Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra, that first piece is an audacious return, with dense strings slowly encircling twitching beats. Its equally grand, self-directed video sees drones glide over snow-capped mountains.

We now have another track too. Taking a sonic and tonal shift, new single 'No Black In The Union Jack' is as highly politically charged as the title suggests.

Among various samples on the record is audio lifted from Enoch Powell's infamous 1968 'Rivers Of Blood' speech. "This hate speech was so vile, it has never been broadcast in full", she says. "It is one of the most incendiary racist speeches of modern Britain and this year marks it's 50th anniversary".

In part, she uses the speech to contrast the modern political climate, explaining: "The new album explores themes including the emergence of nationalism in the world post-Brexit and Trump. Xenophobia as well as fear of immigrants and foreigners was strongly associated with support for leaving the EU; post-Trump and Brexit have created a hostile environment for immigrants, fanned by nationalist bile and scapegoating as displayed throughout these songs".

The theme of censorship also runs throughout the album, something that began with her work with the orchestra in Beijing - which features on three other songs in addition to the title track. "Many people asked about recording in Beijing and censorship in China", she says. "While I didn't directly experience any, it got me thinking about all the ways in which censorship manifests itself in our culture".

She goes on: "It takes on covert forms, like who gets to speak and who doesn't get to speak, and all the ways we silence the voices of people we don't want to hear. Beginning with the theme of religious censorship, I made 'Nephilim' conscious of the fact that these were not subjects females usually write about".

Watch the video for 'No Black In The Union Jack' here.

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Childish Gambino's manager denies This Is America plagiarism claims
Childish Gambino's manager has responded to plagiarism accusations against the rapper's latest single, 'This Is America'. Similarities between the song and Jase Harley's 2016 track 'American Pharoah' are purely coincidental, says Fam Rothstein of Wolf + Rothstein. Although he didn't quite put it like that.

"The internet is a place of no consequences", said Rothstein in a now deleted tweet. "I hate that Toronto akademiks/every white blogger can say something as gospel and y'all take it. ['This Is America'] is three years old and we have ProTools files to prove it. But fuck you and your moms, and your future foetuses. Stay blessed".

Meanwhile, in the Reddit debate that sparked all of this, one user posted screengrabs of comments made by Harley on the matter, who said: "All artists get inspired by others. Artists being thirsty for bread is why people don't wanna credit anyone for inspiration. It's all love and support from me, glad if my record influenced his".

So, yeah, there are similarities between the two tracks, but one side denies plagiarism and the other's not bothered either way. This is no way to keep music lawyers in business. Anyway, have a listen to 'This Is America' and 'American Pharoah' to form your own opinion, if you like.


Rufus Wainwright announces anniversary shows
Rufus Wainwright has announced that he will play four UK shows in April next year to mark the 20th anniversary of his eponymous debut album, and the eighteenth of its 2001 follow-up 'Poses'.

"20 years, what can I say?" says Rufus. "In life, one stands the test of time but in music, thankfully, one reaps the rewards. Come savour a very fine vintage of songs, those were some pretty good years!"

Here are the dates:

21 Apr: London, Royal Albert Hall
22 Apr: Birmingham, Symphony Hall
24 Apr: Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
25 Apr: Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall


Deaf Havana announce one-off London show
Deaf Havana have announced that they will play Brixton Academy on 7 Dec, following the release of the band's fifth album, 'Rituals', on 3 Aug.

Of the new record, James Veck-Gilodi, says: "It feels quite self-indulgent. This is the first time I feel like I have made an album that is all for me, written purely for my own enjoyment. I understand that I might alienate some people who might not 'get' the album, but I am so fortunate that the band are behind me all the way. Everyone is super excited to get out on the road and play all these songs live".

Despite that, the Brixton show will be their only UK headline date of 2018. You can also catch them at the Reading and Leeds festivals in August though.


Brexit Big Band announces new live dates
Matthew Herbert's Brexit Big Band have announced a series of shows around the EU - INCLUDING THE UK - over the next few months.

The project was officially launched in March 2017, as the British government triggered Article 50 and started the process of pushing the UK away from the EU. At the same time, the Brexit Big Band began an ever-evolving process of collaboration across the Union. Both the government and the band entered their respective projects without any real idea of what would happen. Things are seemingly working out better for one of them.

"I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks Brexit is going well", says Herbert. Name-checking some notable Brexiters, he adds. "Jacob Rees-Mogg is telling investors to take their money out of the UK. Nigel Lawson is moving to France. Parts of the Leave campaign broke the law and Nigel Farage has floated the idea of a second referendum".

"Furthermore", he continues, referencing recent events in Westminster, "'take back control' apparently doesn't extend to our own parliament, the majority of whom have voted against giving themselves any say over the deal and its consequences".

The second anniversary of the big European referendum having just passed, he continues: "Two years in and there's still no plan from the government and we're only a few months away now [from formally exiting the EU]. It's embarrassing, disheartening and utterly devoid of a positive vision for the kind of place we might want Britain to be. This is where the Brexit Big Band comes in".

He then provides a bullet point list of everything the Brexit Big Band has achieved in recent months:

• We have walked the Northern Ireland border, recording sounds as we go.
• We have dismantled a Ford Fiesta in to its component parts.
• We have someone swimming the Channel for us.
• We're recording in a fish and chip shop in Grimsby.
• We are recording the demolition of a British factory.
• We took part in one of the silent marches for Grenfell.
• We've written a song in German.
• We've made a symphony of endangered animals.
• We're recording inside a World War Two aircraft.
• We recorded a German passport misbehaving in Nigel Farage's local pub.
• We're organising a European kissathon in Trafalgar Square.
• We're trying to organise a concert on a cross channel ferry.
• And finally, we have turned much of the abuse we got last year into lyrics, including tweets from the Secretary General of UKIP.

In the same period, Theresa May's only innovation has been to start repeating long debunked claims made during the referendum campaign.

Anyway, we don't normally publish tour dates outside the UK and Ireland, but on this occasion it seems appropriate to do so. Here's everywhere you can catch the Brexit Big Band from this week onwards:

29 Jun: Spain, Verranos De La Villa
30 Jun: Switzerland, Montreux Jazz Festival
27 Jul: Berin, Wassermusik Festival
18 Aug: London, Live In The Square, London
17 Oct: Leipzig, Jazztage Festival, Leipzig
25 Nov: Rome, Romaeuropa, Rome

And here's the band performing at the Barbican last year.


Sheryl Crow & St Vincent, Rick Ross & Future, Guns N Roses, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

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• Sheryl Crow has released a new collaboration with St Vincent called 'I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You'.

• Rick Ross and Future have released the video for new track 'Green Gucci'.

• Guns N Roses have released a lyric video for 1986 track 'Shadow Of Your Love'.

• Marshmello's new music video features the characters from 'DuckTales'. Watch it and be disappointed that you aren't just listening to the 'DuckTales' theme tune. Awoo-ooo.

• OneRepublic has released the video for 'Start Again', featuring Logic.

• Chief Keef has released the video for new track 'Part Ways'.

• Mura Masa has released the video for new single 'Move Me', featuring Octavian.

• G Flip has released the video for 'Killing My Time'. Anything else? Yes, she'll be in the UK for some shows in October, including one at The Garage in London on 10 Oct.

• Haiku Salut will perform with a robot orchestra in Newcastle on 10 Aug. It's part of a Brighter Sound's Hexagon Project, tickets for which are free (FREE!).

• Mabel has announced UK and Ireland tour dates for November and December, including a show at Brixton Academy on 12 Dec.

• Ghost have announced that they will play the Royal Albert Hall on 9 Sep. Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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


Adele planning to record some songs and release them
We're all saved! Adele is working on her next album. Or so says The Sun.

A "music insider" - was it you? - tells the tabloid: "She's back in the UK and intends to write here. A number of studio musicians have been approached to work with her and she's already penned some of the songs".

Sounds good to me. The album will be Adele's first without the involvement of indie label XL, their contract having expired after the release of 2015's '25'. She was poached by Sony Music for a reported £90 million two years ago. She had already been allied with the major in the US for some time, of course, via a partnership between the indie and the major.

As for titles, depending on the time period she focuses on in her songwriting, this album could be called anything from '26' to '31'. Shall we have a sweepstake? I'll take '29'. Everyone send me a quid and put in your guesses. Of course, she could screw us all over and ditch the whole age-I-was naming convention thing. As a back up, I'll also take 'Adele-ightful Age To Be' as a possible alternative album title.

The record is apparently scheduled for a Q4 2019 release. So when the streaming market inevitably collapses next summer, at least we'll have a new Adele album to look forward to.


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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