TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Mercury shortlist has been announced, with Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen and Everything Everything among those in the running to have their most recent musical efforts declared the best British album of the last year... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Mercury shortlist announced
LABELS & PUBLISHERS SESAC responds to criticism of its last minute Music Modernization Act lobbying
Jane Dyball to depart the Music Publishers Association
LIVE BUSINESS London's night czar responds to criticism following Hackney curfew decision
RELEASES Yoko Ono revisits old work on new album
Jon Spencer sings the hits on debut solo album
ONE LINERS Boyzone, Blood Orange, Idles, more
AND FINALLY... Robbie reckons Oasis should reunite, so that's decided
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Mercury shortlist announced
The Mercury shortlist has been announced, with Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen and Everything Everything among those in the running to have their most recent musical efforts declared the best British album of the last year.

Over 200 of your new British and Irish LPs were submitted for consideration this year, which have now been whittled down to a final twelve. That shortlist of albums was announced at a noble gathering of shortlist of albums fans in London this morning.

The judging panel tasked with making that damn shortlist - and then cutting it down further to just one winner - consists of broadcasters Clara Amfo, Danielle Perry and MistaJam; Radio 2 and 6 Music Head Of Music Jeff Smith and Radio X Head Of Music Mike Walsh; journalists Harriet Gibsone, Phil Alexander and Will Hodgkinson; and musicians Ella Eyre, Jamie Cullum, Lianne La Havas and Marcus Mumford.

This year's ceremony - where that overall winner will be unveiled as everyone else is officially branded a loser - is set to take place at the Hammersmith Apollo in London on 20 Sep. Yeah it's called the Hammersmith Apollo. Look at us getting through this whole story without namechecking either of the two brands that have bought 'naming rights' here.

We're only namechecking Mercury because it no longer exists. Yeah Hyundai and Eventim, come back to us when you're a defunct phone network, then we'll namecheck you.

And the full shortlist is:

Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Everything Everything - A Fever Dream
Everything Is Recorded - Everything Is Recorded
Florence And The Machine - High As Hope
Jorja Smith - Lost & Found
King Krule - The Ooz
Lily Allen - No Shame
Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built The Moon?
Novelist - Novelist Guy
Sons Of Kemet - Your Queen Is A Reptile
Wolf Alice - Visions Of A Life


SESAC responds to criticism of its last minute Music Modernization Act lobbying
US collecting society SESAC has responded to highly vocal criticism by certain American songwriter groups over its parent company's last minute intervention regarding long-in-development music copyright reform that is still working its way through Congress.

The Music Modernization Act will change various aspects of music copyright law in the States. A key element is the creation of a new mechanical rights collecting society to overcome the mess that is song right licensing in the streaming domain in America.

There is no direct equivalent of the UK's MCPS collecting society in the US. Instead labels and digital services exploiting the mechanical rights in songs hire agencies to make sure the right paperwork and payments are sent to the publishers and writers who control the songs they exploit. One such agency is the Harry Fox Agency, which is now a sister business to the performing rights organisation SESAC.

Seemingly concerned about the impact the new mechanical rights collecting society will have on HFA's business, private equity firm Blackstone - which owns both HFA and SESAC - has been seeking to amend the MMA to its advantage as the copyright proposals work their way through US Senate.

Both Nashville Songwriters Association International and the Songwriters Of North America fear Blackstone's proposals could scupper the entire act. An act, they add, which has been carefully negotiated by organisations representing artists, songwriters, labels, publishers and digital services, as well as the bigger American PROs BMI and ASCAP.

Hitting out at the late-in-the-day lobbying by Blackstone, SONA said earlier this week: "The performance rights organisation SESAC ... is actively pushing an amendment in the US Senate that could effectively kill the Music Modernization Act".

Blackstone and SESAC had already responded to that criticism, insisting that they weren't seeking to kill the MMA. However, as NSAI and SONA called on songwriters who are allied with SESAC to take their collecting society and its owner to task over their recent manoeuvrings, the PRO put out a new statement yesterday.

It said: "SESAC is America's second oldest PRO. We have a long history of advocating on behalf of songwriters and providing a premium value for their work unavailable at other PROs in the US since the 1940s. SESAC is a driver of competition that benefits all songwriters".

"SESAC wholeheartedly supports the goals of the Music Modernization Act and wants those goals made law - just like you do", it went on. "We are concerned that a lack of competition might damage not only our business, but songwriters too. We've suggested a simple amendment to improve competition so we can continue to ensure that all songwriter and publisher royalties continue to grow. Any assertion to the contrary is simply dishonest".

NSAI and SONA insist that the most recent draft of Blackstone's amendment will not be backed by other music industry groups, not to mention the streaming services that will fund the new collecting society. It remains to be seen if a last minute compromise can be reached that satisfies Blackstone without alienating the rest of the music community coalition.


Jane Dyball to depart the Music Publishers Association
The boss of the UK's Music Publishers Association - Jane Dyball - yesterday announced that she will step down from the role at the start of next year.

She originally joined the organisation in 2014 to run the trade body's licensing activities, which included mechanical rights collecting society MCPS, sheet music licensing body PMLL and digital licensing scheme IMPEL. She subsequently became CEO of the MPA itself, with the trade body and its business ventures being more closely aligned under the name of the MPA Group Of Companies. IMPEL was then spun off as a separate entity earlier this year.

Noting key developments at the wider MPA group that have occurred under Dyball's leadership, the trade body yesterday listed: "Steering MCPS in its first few years as a standalone business which has paid down more than £16 million [in] debt, revamping the MPA service to its members and developing new licensing schemes at PMLL".

Dyball also led a review of MCPS's relationship with its former business partner PRS, which included a tender process whereby other entities were invited to pitch to manage and administrate the mechanical rights of the society's members. Though in the end much of MCPS's deal with PRS was renewed.

Confirming that she will leave the MPA next year, Dyball said: "It's always hard to know when to leave because there is always more to do, and these companies have a really great future. However, I have either completed or set in motion everything on the 'to do' list that I wrote on my first day and it seemed the right time to move on".

She added of her time with the association: "It has been challenging but rewarding and I have loved working with such a great team - both within the group but also among our members and partners. I'm really grateful to the boards and members who I have tried my best to represent for letting me have this opportunity".

The organisation's Chair, Universal Music Publishing's Jackie Alway, added: "Jane has been a force for good at the MPA for the last four years, driving innovation and positive change. The MPA group of companies has been brought together and rendered streamlined and efficient. The MPA itself is now a dynamic organisation staffed by a talented and hardworking team achieving great things".

"We are sharply focussed on defending publishers' and creators' rights at policy level, and beyond that Jane has been the architect of a great evolution in the services we provide to members", Always continued. "We are so grateful to Jane for her energy, humour and vision. We wish her further success in her next ventures and we look forward to the challenge of finding a new leader for our organisation who can build on these well-laid foundations".


London's night czar responds to criticism following Hackney curfew decision
London's Night Czar Amy Lamé has responded to criticism thrown in her direction in the wake of the news Hackney Council has decided to introduce a new 11pm curfew - midnight at the weekend - on pubs, clubs, bars and venues in the London borough.

The new rule means that night-time businesses wanting to trade beyond 11pm will need to demonstrate that they won't have a negative impact on their local neighbourhood by doing so. The local authority's new restrictions have been widely criticised by those operating bars and venues in the borough, which includes nightspot hubs like Shoreditch and Dalston.

Lamé was appointed by London mayor Sadiq Khan to be a champion and defender of the capital's night-time economy. But her boss often doesn't have direct powers over the key issues hindering night-time businesses, with licensing decisions being made by the local councils in London, rather than City Hall. Nevertheless, many felt Hackney's curfew decision contradicted Lamé and Khan's regular bigging up of the capital's nightlife and wider cultural industries.

Following a particularly scathing opinion piece in NME - titled 'Amy Lamé: what exactly is the point of you?' - she penned a response. In it she runs through the various things she reckons have been achieved since the job of London Night Czar was created, before explaining the limitations of the role. However, she adds, the fact various things have been achieved despite those limitations means she is "optimistic about finding a way forward for Hackney's night life".

Lamé explains: "Licensing policy is, by law, a matter for local authorities. Neither I nor the mayor have the power to tell local authorities what to do or not to do on licensing issues. However, my role is to help get everyone to sit around the table, talking together, to represent the needs of the night-time economy in those conversations, and ultimately to find a solution that works for everyone. I've used this convening power on a number of different issues from Croydon to Waltham Forest, Newham to Kingston - and it really can work".

"Shoreditch and Dalston's night-time economy are the envy of the world", she goes on. "I know both Hackney Council and its businesses and residents want to protect its vibrancy, while making sure it works for those who live in the area. I have been listening to and understand local people and businesses' concerns about the new licensing policy. I share many of them. That's why I have asked Hackney for an urgent meeting to see if it is possible to work out a solution that protects the local community whilst making sure London doesn't go backwards in its progress towards becoming a truly 24 hour city. I'm sure there is a positive way forward".

Concluding, she states: "I'm proud to be a Londoner and be the Night Czar for the most vibrant and diverse city in the world. I will carry on working - both night and day - to make sure ours is a city that thrives at night for everyone".


Approved: Tunde Olaniran
Tunde Olaniran is set to release his second album, 'Stranger', on 5 Oct. The follow-up to 2015's 'Transgressor', his newer songs dial up the pop production and see him throw himself into his songwriting without a safety net. The results - heard on singles like 'Symbol' and the newly released 'I'm Here' - are outstanding.

Discussing the album, and growing up in city now mainly known for its contaminated water supply, he says: "'Stranger' is, in some ways, about anonymity. Being from Flint [in Michigan], you're often anonymous; a curiosity at best and a ghost at worst".

"The experience of becoming an artist in Flint was very disjointed and piecemeal", he continues. "Few people understood what it meant to be an artist and nobody was there to give any real world advice. And this water crisis has engulfed everything in its wake, and it's a challenge to exist as worthy of attention apart from the narrative of your tragedy. I want to stand on my art and performance, not rely on a backstory [like] 'queer artist from Flint'".

Finally, he says: "I'm not sure if I'll ever shake the feeling of being a stranger, being stranger. Even in the burst of queer talent that floods Instagram feeds and streaming services, everyone is thin or slim or muscular and white or lighter or more impossibly beautiful. I made 'Stranger' to write and sing my way out of tragedy and also about being a stranger to everyone, including the people that love you. I'm not sure where I fit, but I know I do deserve to be here".

Listen to new single, 'I'm Here', here.

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

Yoko Ono revisits old work on new album
Yoko Ono has announced that she will release a new album, 'Warzone', later this year. The record sees her revisit thirteen songs from across her career on which she feels the lyrics still relate to the world in 2018.

"The world is so messed up", says Ono. "Things are very difficult for everybody. It's a warzone that we are living in. I like to create things in a new way. Every day things change".

Featuring songs that originate from between 1970 and 2009, 'Warzone' will be released through Chimera Music, the label of Ono's son Sean Lennon, on 5 Oct. A new track from the record will be released every Tuesday in the run up to the release at

Here's the video for the title track. And here's the full tracklist:

Hell In Paradise
Now Or Never
Where Do We Go From Here
Woman Power
It's Gonna Rain
Children Power
I Love All of Me
Teddy Bear
I'm Alive
I Love You Earth


Jon Spencer sings the hits on debut solo album
Jon Spencer (now without his Blues Explosion) has announced details of his debut solo album, 'Spencer Sings The Hits!' It's set for release in November, following UK shows supporting Melvins.

Spencer worked with bassist Sam Coomes and drummer M Sord in Michigan late last year, before completing the recordings on his own this year. "I had to rush back East to be with family [after the initial sessions]", he explains. "But we accomplished enough - got basics down for all songs. I went back to Michigan - solo - in January to overdub and mix".

"In general, throughout the project, I tried not to overthink anything and instead just kept pushing forward, trusting in my instincts", he goes on. "I figured that I had already spent months and years thinking about this record and these songs".

While announcing the album, Spencer also released new single 'Do The Trash Can', which features some unusual percussion. "Nothing like digging the gas tank from an old Chevy out of a Michigan junkyard snow bank in January", says Spencer. "The junkyard owner kept asking me if the metal was for a school project, but as a bluegrass player he could understand the possible use for a recording session".

Watch the video for 'Do The Trash Can' here.


Boyzone, Blood Orange, Idles, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Boyzone have released new single 'Because'. It's co-written by Ed Sheeran. The band will release their final album, 'Thank You And Goodnight', on 16 Nov. Have a listen to the new track here and see if you can work out what song Sheeran has (allegedly) ripped off this time.

• Blood Orange has released new track 'Charcoal Baby'. His new album 'Negro Swan' is out on 24 Aug.

• Idles have released new single 'Samaritans'. "I truly believe that masculinity has gone from an evolution of cultural praxis to a disease", says frontman Joe Talbot. "I wanted to encourage a conversation about gender roles by writing this song".

• Tālā has released new single 'Bedtime'. "When I wrote 'Bedtime' I was going through a lot of personal trauma in my life", she says. "It was very in the moment and very real".

• Pale Waves have announced that they will release their debut album, 'My Mind Makes Noises', on 14 Sep. They're touring the UK and Ireland in September and October too. Here's new single, 'Eighteen'.

• Alexander Tucker has released new track 'Visiting Again'. His new album, 'Don't Look Away', is out on 24 Aug.

• Our Girl have released new song 'In My Head'. "The song explores the claustrophobia of love and regret, and the lyrics toe the line between the reality of a situation, vs the alternate version in your head, of how you wish something could have gone", says the band's Soph Nathan".

• HMS Morris have announced that they will return with their second album, 'Inspirational Talks', on 21 Sep. Here's new single 'Phenomenal Impossible'.

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


Robbie reckons Oasis should reunite, so that's decided
Robbie Williams has said that Liam and Noel Gallagher will have to set aside their differences and reunite Oasis. They just aren't successful enough in their solo careers - what with their recent number one albums - to avoid a bit of reliving the past, he reckons.

"I think there will be [an Oasis reunion]", Williams tells The Sun. "Liam Gallagher has just come back and he's done pretty well. He had a platinum record with his solo album and I think that's what everybody was waiting for. I think the next time he releases an album it won't do as well. Noel's album didn't do too good either. I think it sold like 70,000 copies or something, which for Noel isn't great".

He goes on: "If they're anything like me, which I think they are, they will want to be doing the most successful thing they can do, and the most successful thing they can do is a reunion. I think they'll both need to do it".

Last week, Liam did once again hold out an olive branch of sorts to his brother, tweeting: "Earth to Noel: Listen up rkid, I hear you're doing gigs where people can't drink alcohol now, that's the BeZarist thing you've done yet. I forgive you, now let's get the BIG O back together and stop fucking about. The drinks are on me".

However, Williams also conceded that he "can't see them taking Rob's advice". Indeed, if anything, Williams prophesising an Oasis reunion probably makes it less likely that the Gallagher brothers would reunite, given their history of not liking Robbie Williams very much.

Still, back when Oasis were the biggest British rock band on the planet, no one was throwing fish at Liam. That's all changed now. While performing at the Benicassim festival in Spain at the weekend, someone lobbed a "stinky, smelly fish" onto the stage as he was about to break into Oasis hit 'Cigarettes And Alcohol'.

"So which dickhead threw the fish here then?" Gallagher asked the audience, stopping his band as they were about to start the song. "Fucking stinky, smelly fish, man. Now listen, right, it ain't that fucking bad, right. Don't be throwing fish on stage. I've seen a lot worse than this shit. Alright?"

It's not entirely clear what "shit" he was referring too, whether he meant the festival at large or his own performance in particular. Anyway, he then halted proceedings a second time as the band once again attempted to start the song.

"I can't be singing while there's a fish there, mate", he said. "That's rank".

A roadie then appeared and removed the offending creature, and the show was resumed without further incident.


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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