TODAY'S TOP STORY: US independent Glassnote Records has sued Childish Gambino - aka Donald Glover - in a dispute over what should happen to royalties that are earned by his recordings but are paid to collecting society SoundExchange... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Glassnote sues Childish Gambino in SoundExchange royalties dispute
DEALS Universal Music extends its partnership with The Rolling Stones
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Tencent confirms it will IPO in the US
Apple Music and Spotify neck-a-neck in the US
Sonos files for IPO
RELEASES Jaden Smith releases new EP on Instagram
GIGS & FESTIVALS Del The Funky Homosapien "doing alright" after Gorillaz stage fall
AND FINALLY... Drake plays surprise headline set at Wireless, after DJ Khaled pulls out
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Glassnote sues Childish Gambino in SoundExchange royalties dispute
US independent Glassnote Records has sued Childish Gambino - aka Donald Glover - in a dispute over what should happen to royalties that are earned by his recordings but are paid to collecting society SoundExchange.

Glover released three albums with Glassnote before announcing earlier this year that he was switching his musical allegiances to Sony Music. The major will release his next album in partnership with his management firm Wolf & Rothstein. The new lawsuit relates to monies earned by Glover's Glassnote-released records via SoundExchange.

Whenever satellite or online radio services - included personalised radio platforms like Pandora or iHeart - make use of the US compulsory licence administered by Sound Exchange, the royalties collected are split 50/50 between copyright owners and performers. SoundExchange pays the artists their 50% direct. Although technically it's 45%, because the other 5% goes to session musicians via their unions.

The artist's statutory right to 45% of the money technically only applies where SoundExchange provides the licence. However, in the main, where labels have done direct deals with services like Pandora and iHeart, they have continued to allow 50% of the money to flow directly to artists via the collecting society.

Royalties paid by such services for using Glover's recordings have seemingly followed that industry standard throughout his alliance with Glassnote. But now, according to the label, he is allegedly claiming that he should have received 95% of his SoundExchange royalties during that time, ie both the copyright owner's share and the performer's share.

To that end, Glover's reps have seemingly demanded that Glassnote hand over $1.5 million to compensate him for the 50% of SoundExchange monies that have gone to the label and which he believes should have been paid to him. Glassnote was given until the end of last week to make that payment under the threat of legal action, but has decided to file its own litigation instead.

The label wants the courts to confirm that, according to both Glover's deal with Glassnote and the rules around the online radio compulsory licence under US copyright law, the artist has received all the SoundExchange royalties he is due. Last week's legal filing reckons that is somewhere around $700,000.

Glassnote's lawsuit also documents its work in launching Glover's music career, the investment it made at the outset and the fact that both label and artist enjoyed "a productive and profitable creative and business relationship" until the end of last year (although there were some tensions along the way).

It also reveals that Glover's deal with Glassnote was a licensing arrangement that provided him with a 50% royalty. That deal, the legal papers then say, has seen Glover receive $8 million in royalties from the label to date - his share of all the other revenue streams - with another $2 million in royalties due to be paid imminently.

Noting that the dispute over SoundExchange income started after the two parties' formal alliance ended last year - and Glover signed up with Sony - the lawsuit states: "Glover, apparently unsatisfied with the approximately $10 million in royalties already paid or due to him by Glassnote and the 45% of the public performance royalties from SoundExchange, took the position that he was entitled to the entirety of Glassnote's 50% share of public performance royalties from SoundExchange - and that Glassnote was not entitled to any such royalty".

It goes on: "Glassnote has repeatedly conveyed to Glover over the past several months that his position is untenable - but Glover has not relented. He has continued to demand from Glassnote payments corresponding to SoundExchange royalties which he is legislatively and contractually precluded from receiving. Most recently, Glover, through his representatives, has demanded the payment of $1.5 million from Glassnote for resolution of the SoundExchange royalty dispute under threat of legal action".

The lawsuit then concluded: "Given Glover's intransigence, Glassnote has no choice but to seek a declaration that it, and not Glover, is entitled to the 50% portion of the SoundExchange monies, and hereby requests such relief".

Glover's reps are yet to respond to Glassnote's legal action. Assuming they do, it will be fascinating to see on what basis they reckon that all SoundExchange income - bar the session musicians' cut - should have gone to their client. Glassnote is adamant that, although it had a licensing deal with Glover, the rights licensed under that deal definitely include those covered by the SoundExchange compulsory licence. Let's see if Team Glover have an alternative reading of that contract.


Universal Music extends its partnership with The Rolling Stones
Universal Music has announced a "multi-faceted partnership" with The Rolling Stones, which is great news, because I hate single-faceted partnerships.

I mean, if you're going to go to all the effort of forming an actual real life full-on partnership, why have only one facet? What a waste of everyone's time and money that is. Pile of the facets, I say. The more facets the better. In fact, if you are ever forming an actual real life full-on partnership, make sure you check down the back of the filing cabinet, just in case there are any facets you forgot about that could be thrown into the deal.

"But what specific facets will make up this multi-faceted partnership?" you are all certainly wondered at this point. Well, the band's "iconic recorded music", obviously. That's a facet you'd be foolish to leave out. But what else?

Well, maybe "audio-visual catalogues". They'd make a very fine facet. And then some "archival support". What a facet! Throw in some "global merchandising" while you're at it, and now you've got a facet pile that's looking damn good. And whatever you do, don't forget the "brand management". A top facet, that is. Providing you've got all those facets in your facet bag, then I think you're ready to do business.

Universal Music, of course, has been working with The Rolling Stones for quite some time already, so what's new about this deal? More facets, obviously!

"After a decade of working in partnership together, we are THRILLED to expand and extend our relationship with The Rolling Stones", states Universal Music's Chief Facets Officer Lucian Grainge. "We look forward to bringing our expertise and passion to bear as we put our global organisation to work on behalf of this iconic band who continue to create music and influence culture around the world".

Speaking for the band, Joyce Smyth, facet manager for the Stones, added: "For many years now we've had a wonderful partnership with Universal Music and look forward to an even more successful future together".

I wonder how many facets would be too many facets? I mean, we all love multi-faceted partnerships, but what if Grainge and Smyth have now put too many facets in the pile and they all fall over? I'm sure it'll be fine. Nothing a bit of gaffer tape can't fix.


Tencent confirms it will IPO in the US
Chinese web giant Tencent has confirmed that it will spin off its music division via an Initial Public Offering in the US. The company confirmed its intentions regarding Tencent Music in a statement issued on the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday.

The main Tencent business is listed in Hong Kong. It's thought that the web firm had originally considered spinning off its music business via an IPO on the same stock exchange, but by earlier this year had decided to list in the States instead.

That was possibly partly influenced by Spotify's decision to list on the New York Stock Exchange and partly by recent regulatory changes in Hong Kong. Spotify and Tencent have an alliance, of course, with the two companies each having equity in the other following a share swap deal late last year.

Tencent's music division operates the market-leading streaming services in China, including QQ Music, as well as owning and distributing music catalogues in the region. Beyond the decision to list in the US, most other information about the Tencent Music IPO is still to be announced. More details will be released "as and when appropriate", it said yesterday.


Apple Music and Spotify neck-a-neck in the US
Apple Music is now within a million subscribers of overtaking Spotify in the US, according to the Financial Times. This contradicts a Digital Music News report last week that said Apple Music had already pulled ahead.

In February this year, the Wall Street Journal predicted that the Apple streaming service would outgrow Spotify in terms of premium users in America at some point this summer. Apple Music's US growth was running at 5%, it said, compared to 2% for Spotify's .

Now the FT says that Apple Music has between 21 million and 21.5 million US subscribers, compared to 22 million and 22.5 million for Spotify. A year ago, the gap between the two services was four million subscribers.

It seems likely that Apple will out perform Spotify Stateside in the very near future, and that gap may grow more significant by the end of the year. While Spotify remains the market leader worldwide by some distance, slipping behind in the US will be of concern. It was in New York that Spotify chose to list on the stock market earlier this year, of course, and therefore US performance is likely to be of particular interest to investors.

You could ask why this didn't happen a long time ago. Launched three years ago with a massive captive market of iPhone users, it could be said that Apple Music should have overtaken Spotify on day one. Although Apple has to an extent focussed on more mainstream music fans, who have perhaps taken longer to convince of the merits of ten dollar a month streaming.

Spotify was also something of a latecomer in the US when compared to its presence in Europe, launching there in 2011 and immediately facing tough competition from established domestic services, in particular the free-to-use personalised radio set-up Pandora.

Now, as the focus remains on Spotify and Apple, Amazon has quietly become the third most popular on-demand streaming service. Use of its music services has been growing rapidly, especially in the US, thanks to the free version being pre-loaded on the company's Alexa-controlled smart speakers.


Sonos files for IPO
As expected, wireless speaker maker Sonos filed for a US Initial Public Offering last week. Planning to list on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, the company is reportedly seeking a valuation of up to $3 billion.

It was reported in April that Sonos was planning to list this summer. The company does so as competition from tech giants Amazon, Google and Apple increases, as they all try to dominate the smart speaker market. The company also listed Bang & Olufsen, Bose and Samsung as significant rivals in its IPO documents.

Sonos has always sold itself on audio quality and continues to do so. Although it has also integrated Amazon's Alexa voice control software into its latest speakers and will support Google Assistant and Apple's AirPlay 2 in the near future.

The company reported losses of $14.2 million last year, reduced by more than 50% on the previous year. Prior to filing to go public, it cut around 6% of its workforce in a bid to reach profitability.

As well as all of those rival products from tech and consumer electronics giants, Sonos also warned potential investors that the looming trade war between the US and China is a threat to be aware of. The company has a base in China and all of its speakers are assembled there, before being shipped to its other bases in the US and Europe.

"If significant tariffs or other restrictions are placed on Chinese imports or any related counter-measures are taken by China, our revenue and results of operations may be materially harmed", the company says in its filing. Current tariffs imposed on China by President Trump do not affect it, it says, but if others are imposed it may force Sonos to raise its prices, potentially resulting in a "loss of customers and harm [to] our reputation and operating performance".


Approved: True Adventures
True Adventures - aka singer-songwriter Sam Leonard - released his debut single, 'North Atlantic Ocean', in 2014. After something of a lull in his release schedule, he's now hitting his stride with two singles out so far this year, including the newly released 'Brasil'.

On 'North Atlantic Ocean' Leonard lamented that "everyone's moving to London". Four years later, people are moving yet further from his Norfolk home, with the subject of his lyrics on 'Brasil' situated in the titular South American country.

The musical horizons of the new single are also broadened out from the simple acoustic guitar of his debut. The layered instrumentation of 'Brasil' nonetheless maintains the unforced sound and feel that lies at the heart of Leonard's songs.

More singles are planned for this year, followed by an EP release early next year. Watch the video for 'Brasil' here.

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

Jaden Smith releases new EP on Instagram
If you've been wondering who the hell would be interested in Instagram's new IGTV video feature, maybe this will swing it for you: Jaden Smith has just released a new EP through it. No? Ah, you people are never happy.

Coinciding with Smith's 20th birthday, the five track release - titled 'Syre: The Electric Album' - is available exclusively on Instagram. It features "electric" versions of five tracks from last year's 'Syre' album, the original version of which had enough tracks to actually be titled an album, even though it wasn't.

Here's one of the new tracks, 'B (Electric)'.

Instagram recently launched IGTV, which allows users to post videos of up to an hour in length, as opposed to the single minute allowed on profiles. I'm not sure who asked for that. Mainly it just seems to add an annoying orange bar to the app that you have to train your brain to ignore.

Still, it seems that not everyone is quite so down on it all. While Smith has put out a full release via the platform, Zayn Malik has also started releasing covers through it. The former One Directioner has just unleashed a cover of Elvis Presley's 'Can't Help Falling In Love', to go with a recent take on Beyonce's 'Me, Myself And I'.


Del The Funky Homosapien "doing alright" after Gorillaz stage fall
Gorillaz abruptly ended their headline set at the Roskilde festival in Denmark on Saturday after rapper Del The Funky Homosapien fell off the stage. He assured fans yesterday that he's "doing alright", although he remains in hospital.

The incident occurred at the start of the final song of the show, 'Clint Eastwood', with the rapper falling off the stage mid-way through the first verse. The band continued playing, but stopped when it became apparent that he was seriously hurt.

"Thank you so much for a beautiful, beautiful night", Damon Albarn said to the audience. "Unfortunately, we've had a... I don't know yet".

In a statement, festival organisers said: "Unfortunately, Del The Funky Homosapien fell from the stage during the last number of Gorillaz's performance. He was seen on site by a doctor and went to the hospital for further investigation. He's conscious and talking to his team. We hope he recovers quickly and wish him a speedy recovery".

The rapper himself posted on Facebook yesterday: "Thank you all for the love! I'm doing alright but will be in the hospital for a bit, the care here is outstanding though. Much love to Gorillaz for having me out and I'll be back soon y'all".


Drake plays surprise headline set at Wireless, after DJ Khaled pulls out
Drake performed a surprise headline set at the Wireless Festival in London last night. He filled a slot intended for DJ Khaled, who pulled out just hours earlier due to "travel issues". No one was quite sure what those "travel issues" were, although the previous day he'd posted a photo of himself in a swimming pool in Mexico.

According to the BBC, the surprise set from Drake had been planned for several months. It just became a more fortuitous booking once it became clear DJ Khaled wasn't playing and therefore a fill-in act was required. Still, not everyone was happy. Some complained that Drake only performed for half an hour, playing just five tracks in full with snippets of others. Presumably this was all he ever intended to do, but the sample set would have worked better as a surprise bonus, rather than a last minute headline show.

Many were also quite keen on seeing DJ Khaled too. The producer was criticised for the last minute cancellation, all the more so because of the swimming pool photo, alongside which he'd noted how he was "still on vacation". A later post included a photo of him on a private jet, so he was definitely able to do some travelling, despite the "travel issues" mentioned in the official Wireless confirmation that the headline slot had been cancelled.

Of course, going swimming and not being able to travel to the UK are not mutually exclusive. I missed a plane once and then went to an aquarium. No one complained about that. Drake didn't even fill in for me. Still, perhaps a more downbeat "I'm stuck on the wrong side of the Atlantic" post would have been better received.

Although it turns out that Khaled might not have thought to post a sadface social media update because he was never actually expecting to perform at Wireless. At around midnight last night, Wireless offered a new statement, explaining the situation further.

"Due to a scheduling conflict related to filming of [TV talent show] 'The Four', DJ Khaled was not able to commit to perform at Wireless Festival", festival organisers said. "Although we have known for a few months and tried to make it work, it wasn't possible. We take responsibility for not telling fans sooner and want all Khaled's fans in UK to know he truly looks forward to coming to UK to perform soon".

So there, it wasn't Khaled's fault. He had to a TV thing to do. Although last time I saw him he was just sitting around reading a book.


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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