TODAY'S TOP STORY: The impasse that threatened to derail the Music Modernization Act in the US is at an end. Songwriter groups the Nashville Songwriters Association International and Songwriters Of North America have reached a compromise with the private equity firm that owns American collecting society SESAC and mechanical rights administrator the Harry Fox Agency... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Compromise reached to let Music Modernization Act march on
DEALS David Guetta allies with Kobalt on publishing
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner buys media firm UPROXX
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Deezer raises new finances, gets a one billion euro valuation
RELEASES Jaakko Eino Kalevi announces new album and London residency
AWARDS Scottish Album Of The Year longlist announced
ONE LINERS Drake, Chvrches, Zayn Malik, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #415: Sheep v Another World Festival
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Compromise reached to let Music Modernization Act march on
The impasse that threatened to derail the Music Modernization Act in the US is at an end. Songwriter groups the Nashville Songwriters Association International and Songwriters Of North America have reached a compromise with the private equity firm that owns American collecting society SESAC and mechanical rights administrator the Harry Fox Agency.

There has been unprecedented collaboration between different music industry groups to try and get the copyright-law-reforming Music Modernization Act through Congress. But last week, as Senate continues to scrutinise the proposals, SESAC and HFA owner Blackstone was accused of some last minute meddling that could cause the coalition of MMA backers, which includes the streaming services, to fall apart.

Among other things, the MMA will set up a new collecting society that will be empowered to provide a blanket licence covering the mechanical rights in songs. This new society will be able to license song rights to streaming services wherever digital firms do not have direct deals with music publishers in place.

HFA is one of the companies that currently administrates mechanical royalties in the US under the pre-existing compulsory licence. Most people agree that the current system is all kinds of flawed, resulting in songwriters going unpaid and streaming services being sued. It's hoped the MMA will go some way to fixing the issues. But HFA and its owner were, perhaps unsurprisingly, concerned that this will negatively impact on its business.

To that end, Blackstone proposed a late in the day amendment that enjoyed some support in Senate. But NSAI and SONA said that the amendment would make the alliance backing the MMA fall apart, causing the whole project to falter. They then encouraged songwriters to call for Blackstone to compromise. And especially those songwriters allied to SESAC, the performing rights organisation also owned by Blackstone.

Negotiations continued alongside all the hoo and the haa last week, and yesterday it was confirmed that a compromise had now been reached so that NSAI and SONA - and SESAC and HFA - could all back the current draft of the amended MMA. The National Music Publishers Association, a key player in driving the MMA forward, is also part of the compromise, which has also been welcomed by the Association Of Independent Music Publishers.

The NMPA, NSAI, SONA and SESAC said in a joint statement yesterday: "At the encouragement of senators deeply involved in the legislation and recognising the importance of the MMA for the future of the music industry, the parties have endorsed a provision under consideration by the Senate to amend the [new collecting society's] administration of voluntary licenses outside the scope of the compulsory license in order to ensure private vendors can continue to participate in the music market, maintaining competition which is beneficial to songwriters and producers".

The four groups said that they had now "enthusiastically agreed" the latest draft, and therefore "respectfully request the Senate pass the MMA". Which is all lovely. And now some quotes...

NMPA CEO David Israelite: "We are THRILLED that we have mutually agreed on a path forward. We are stronger when our music family speaks with one voice and this agreement will allow us to come together to work towards the passage of the MMA. Songwriters need and deserve this bill. We thank the senators involved for their leadership and guidance."

SESAC CEO John Josephson: "SESAC has been fighting for songwriters since 1931 and continues to do so with its enthusiastic support of the MMA. At the encouragement of senators closely involved in this legislation, all parties came together to agree on outstanding items related to the MMA including the reform of the ... compulsory license and other important related matters. We share a collective responsibility to help ensure that the MMA benefits all stakeholders in the industry and look forward to the Senate's consideration of the bill".

Nashville Songwriters Association International: "Reaching consensus within the music industry, on what may be the most important songwriter legislation in history, is a win for American songwriters and the broader music community. We are pleased to have put our differences behind us and support this bill in unanimous harmony. The Nashville Songwriters Association International has been a friend and fan of SESAC's for decades and that is how our relationship will immediately resume."

Songwriters of North America: "We are pleased to have come together with our partners to move forward as a unified music community to support the successful passage and implementation of the much-needed Music Modernization Act. SONA would personally like to thank our partners, the NSAI and songwriter Ross Golan, for their efforts and support in mobilising the songwriter and artist community nationwide."

Association Of Independent Music Publishers: "The AIMP applauds the NMPA and SESAC for coming to the table to move past their issues and confirming their unconditional support of the MMA. We hope that this clears the way for all senators to embrace the MMA and move this forward".


David Guetta allies with Kobalt on publishing
Your good mates Kobalt have taken over all the lovely publishing admin duties on David Guetta's admirable portfolio of musical tosh. And about time too! They'll also provide sync and creative support services to the producer/DJ. Because everyone loves getting some sync and creative support services. I know I do.

Says Kobalt boss man Willard Ahdritz: "David's track record speaks for itself. He's a rare breed - a global superstar who's worked with the world's biggest artists and created hit after hit. David and his business manager, Jean-Charles, have built an amazing collection of great music over the past fifteen years and it will continue to live on for years to come. It's an honour to represent his music as part of the Kobalt family."

By Jean-Charles, he means your old best bud Jean-Charles Carré, who says of the new deal: "We've built and cherished this catalogue over more than fifteen years and I'm delighted to transmit it on to the expert hands of Kobalt".


Warner buys media firm UPROXX
The Warner Music top guard had one of those team away days earlier in the week and decided to spend that time together shopping for "youth culture and video production powerhouses". Like you do. And they only went and got themselves an UPROXX! Good going. That's my very favourite of all the youth culture and video production powerhouses!

"In the always-on, attention economy, it's not enough to simply deliver amazing music to the world. We aim to tell engaging and original stories that influence culture", says Warner Music's Global Recorded Music boss Max Lousada, spinning a pretty engaging and original story all of his own. Consider culture influenced.

"UPROXX brings together pioneering personalities and credible brands in ways that move huge audiences to talk, listen and share", says Lousada of the "youth culture and video production powerhouse" the major has just bought. "They'll be great partners as we redefine what it means to be a dynamic, future-focused music company".

UPROXX founder Jarret Myer previously worked with Lousada at Rawkus Records. Confirming his company was now part of Warner, he said: "It's a true pleasure to be once again working with Max, going back to our time running Rawkus Records together, where we championed unique talent, broke marketing rules, and built a loyal audience".

He added: "UPROXX was founded on those same core principles - with the goal of going beyond music and covering all aspects of what shapes our culture today and tomorrow. Over the past decade we've become trusted by our loyal audience and advertising partners in helping to turn brands into cultural moments. With this acquisition, we grow our significance as a beacon for youth culture and entertainment".

Originally launched in 2008, UPROXX is mainly a website. But also a youth culture and video production powerhouse. Oh, and a beacon for youth culture and entertainment. What an engaging and original story! Consider culture influenced. Again!


Deezer raises new finances, gets a one billion euro valuation
The Deezer geezers have raised some more cash, which is good. If there's one thing streaming services need, it's more cash. The new finance round has raised 160 million euros and involves the digital outfit's existing shareholders - including Warner Music owner Access Industries - plus Saudi Arabia-based investment firm Kingdom Holding and Dubai-based media company Rotana Group.

Both of those companies are headed up by Al-Waleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family who was caught up and for a time detained in a government crackdown on corruption in the country. This is his first big deal since reaching a "confirmed understanding" with Saudi authorities in January which, according to Bloomberg, he said left him free to function normally with "zero guilt" and "zero conditions".

The deal also sees Deezer ally with Rotona on content, with the former signing a deal to distribute the latter's digital output in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Confirming the new deals, which give Deezer a one billion euro valuation, the streaming firm's boss Hans-Holger Albrecht said: "I would like to welcome our new shareholders KHC and Rotana to Deezer, and I'm excited to work with them to take Deezer to the next level".

He went on: "The new funding enables us both to accelerate our expansion in fast growing international music markets and strengthen our positions in key territories. The exclusive long-term distribution agreement also provides us with a unique opportunity to build future market leader positions in exciting markets".

Deezer, of course, is a relatively small player in an increasingly competitive market where, although the market at large is booming, most services are loss-making. The company has continued to rise private finance ever since it abandoned an IPO in 2015.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Flava D Residency
The marvellous Flava D is presenting a series of Friday nights at XOYO with different special guests each week. The enterprise is pitched as 'thirteen weeks, thirteen flavas'.

Tonight's flava is looking pretty damn good, with SPY, Metrik, B-Complex, Logistics and Mollie Collins all on the bill in addition to Flava D herself. It's going to be a hot night for this hot night. And if you can't make this one, the weekly residency runs through to 28 Sep.

Friday 3 Aug, XOYO, 32-37 Cowper Street, London, EC2A 4AP, 9.30pm-4am, info here.

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

Jaakko Eino Kalevi announces new album and London residency
Jaakko Eino Kalevi has announced that he will release his new album, 'Out Of Touch', on 12 Oct. He's also released its first single, 'Emotions In Motion', and announced a string of London shows.

Of the album's title, Kalevi says: "Everyone knows the meaning of 'out of touch' and it usually has negative connotations, such as lacking the latest information". But to be out of touch can be the most ideal state".

To coincide with the album's release, he will play a show at The Moth Club in Hackney on 15 Oct. This month he also has a residency at Lawlow in Notting Hill, playing every Wednesday in August, starting on the 8th.

Watch the video for 'Emotions In Motion' here.


Scottish Album Of The Year longlist announced
The longlist for this year's Scottish Album Of The Year award has been announced. Among the artists contending for the £20,000 main prize are Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai, Catholic Action, Young Fathers and The Spook School.

Journalist Nicola Meighan announced the 20 artists and albums up for the prize at a launch show at Glasgow's King Tut's Wah Wah Hut earlier this week.

General Manager of the Scottish Music Industry Association, Robert Kilpatrick says: "This year's longlist celebrates another 20 incredibly strong, diverse and important contemporary Scottish records. It was great to reveal these tonight at King Tut's in Glasgow to an audience featuring artists, industry and music fans from across the country".

In addition to the main prize, nine runners-up will receive £1000 each, while ten of the artists on the list will go home with nothing but the warm glow of having been on a list.

Here are the 20 hopefuls:

Adam Holmes and The Embers - Midnight Milk
Babe - Kiss & Tell
Best Girl Athlete - Best Girl Athlete
Blue Rose Code - The Water of Leith
Catholic Action - In Memory Of
Chris Stout and Catriona McKay - Bare Knuckle
Elephant Sessions - All We Have Is Now
Franz Ferdinand - Always Ascending
Golden Teacher - No Luscious Life
Happy Meals (now known as Free Love) - Full Ashram Devotional Ceremony (Volumes IV - VI)
Karine Polwart with Pippa Murphy - A Pocket Of Wind Resistance
Kobi Onyame - Gold
Martha Ffion - Sunday Best
Mogwai - Every Country's Sun
Neon Waltz - Strange Hymns
Out Lines - Conflats
Pronto Mama - Any Joy
Siobhan Wilson - There Are No Saints
The Spook School - Could It Be Different
Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar


Drake, Chvrches, Zayn Malik, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Drake has released the video for 'In My Feelings'. It features Phylicia Rashad, La La Anthony, City Girls' Yung Miami and Big Freedia, as well as acknowledging the jumping-out-of-a-moving-car dance challenge that has been sweeping the internet.

• Chvrches have released a new collaboration with Japanese group Wednesday Campanella. "Japan has always been a really special place for Chvrches", says the band's Lauren Mayberry. "[Wednesday Campanella vocalist] Kom_I has such a strong, individual voice in her music and how she conducts herself as a person - something that I really admire".

• Zayn Malik has wafted out a new single, 'Too Much', produced by Timbaland.

• Five Days Of Summer have released the video for 'Youngblood'.

• Paul Weller has released a lyric video for new single 'Movin On'. His new album, 'True Meanings', is out on 14 Sep.

• Deafheaven have released the video for their Chelsea Wolfe collaboration 'Night People'.

• Teleman have released the video for new single 'Song For A Seagull'. The song "explores the idea of doing everything you can to escape on your own to somewhere far away, somewhere better, but then having no one to experience it with", says vocalist Tom Saunders.

• Kojey Radical has released two new singles: '97' and 'Pure'. "Although '97' is about the loss of a close friend I want the song to feel like a celebration", he says. "'Pure' is a conversation I would have with myself regularly. A story of self-doubt and resilience. My story".

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


Beef Of The Week #415: Sheep v Another World Festival
A dance music festival due to take place near Bristol this weekend has been postponed until next year. And in what is almost certainly an original excuse for postponement, the decision to call of this weekend's Another World Festival is being blamed on sheep shit.

Organisers said in a statement earlier this week: "During our final site inspection as we began building the festival our health and safety team informed us of the distressing presence of sheep faeces on all fields ... planned for use for Another World festival, and that in fact there are livestock still present".

It then added: "There is strict [Health & Safety Executive] guidance regarding sheep waste and the responsibility of the farm owner when allowing public to enter their property. Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli are pathogens that can be passed through sheep faeces ... parasites, roundworms and tapeworms are also linked to fresh, faeces that has not degraded".

Adding that "these are very real dangers that cannot be ignored", the organisers then confirmed that they were postponing the whole event until sometime next year.

Needless to say, a flurry of angry ticket-buyers were quickly posting on the social networks, all pissed off at the last minute cancellation and the somewhat vague messaging around refunds. Many were also unconvinced by the shitty excuse. It didn't help that a site manager at the farm due to host the festival disputed the official line.

He told Bristol Live: "Some sheep managed get on the site as they sometimes do and they did leave a few droppings, but we have ten or fifteen other fields here where there are no droppings whatsoever where the festival could have easily taken place instead. In fact, I was even prepared to get a team out there to clear the droppings so it could have gone ahead, that wouldn't have been a problem at all".

He went on: "I called the organisers around half a dozen times to let them know this but they didn't pick up. Then later on I got an email from them letting me know they'd pulled the plug altogether. To be honest I think the main problem for the organisers was the fact DJs were pulling out, not the presence of sheep droppings".

He concluded: "It's hugely frustrating for us and of course for everyone who was planning to go. We have put a lot of time and effort into this and stand to lose a fair bit of money, not to mention we could easily have hosted another event this weekend. I just hope everyone who bought tickets gets refunded".

Said site manager added that only 2500 of the event's 7000 tickets had been sold, suggesting that financial issues might have been behind those reports that some DJs were pulling out. However, in a new post on Facebook yesterday, the festival's promoters insisted the postponement was definitely the result of health and safety concerns.

They said "we strongly refute claims by reports in the media stating that the festival is a scam. The assessment from our operations / health and safety team, confirmed by the farm manager, [was] that the fields planned for use by the festival were not safe for the public. We want to reassure you [that], despite our best efforts, we could not find a safe, workable solution to this".

Organisers added that, despite plans to reschedule, they were "working towards being able to offer refunds for those not wanting to, or able, to join us [at the rescheduled event]". Having elsewhere noted the personal abuse organisers had been receiving online since the postponement had been announced, they concluded "we would like to thank you for your understanding while we look at providing a quick and easy way for refunds to take place".

Whether refunds are forthcoming, and whether Another World can live on another day, remains to be seen. But in the meantime, sheep join osprey in leading the animal kingdom's charge against the inconvenience that is human begins having parties in fields.


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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