TODAY'S TOP STORY: Warner Music has now sold off all of its Spotify equity realising $504 million in the process. The mini-major previously confirmed it had offloaded 75% of the shares it held in Spotify within a month of the streaming firm listing on the New York Stock Exchange back in April. In an earnings call yesterday Warner confirmed it had now sold off the rest of its Spotify stock... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Warner Music is no longer a Spotify shareholder
LIVE BUSINESS UTA says new investors will allow further growth
Eventim takes complete ownership of Scandinavian ticketing firm
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Apple Music launches new automated playlist based on friend listening
MEDIA Capital FM to launch in Brighton next month
GIGS & FESTIVALS BBC Proms to launch VR version of Anna Meredith's 'Five Telegrams' project
AWARDS AIM Awards nominations announced
AND FINALLY... Steel Panther plough on with their Pussy Melter guitar pedal despite protests
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Warner Music is no longer a Spotify shareholder
Warner Music has now sold off all of its Spotify equity realising $504 million in the process. The mini-major previously confirmed it had offloaded 75% of the shares it held in Spotify within a month of the streaming firm listing on the New York Stock Exchange back in April. In an earnings call yesterday Warner confirmed it had now sold off the rest of its Spotify stock.

With all this share-sale loot now flowing into the music industry, more savvy artist managers are keeping a close eye on upcoming royalty statements to see how different labels make good on their past commitments to share this income with artists. Record companies secured stock as part of their original licensing deals with Spotify. And artists and indies distributed by the majors have long argued that they should share in the profit of any equity sale, given the record companies secured those shares on the back of the value of their recordings.

Although Warner was the first major to commit to share Spotify equity profits with artists - and CEO Stephen Cooper said yesterday that $126 million had been "credited to artist accounts" in the next round of royalty statements - Sony Music has scored some PR wins in the way it is sharing its Spotify loot.

First, Sony has made a wider commitment to share its Spotify stock profits with distributed indie labels, whereas Warner only committed to do this where such an arrangement was "included in [the label's] agreements with us". Second, Sony said artists would receive their Spotify equity boost even where the label was still recouping past investments, which isn't a commitment as yet made by Warner HQ.

But why the urgency in cashing in the stock? When Warner announced its initial offload of Spotify shares back in May it insisted that this wasn't because of any concerns about the long-term future of the currently loss-making market-leading streaming music business. "We're hugely optimistic about the growth of subscription streaming", it said, "[but] we're a music company, and not, by our nature, long-term holders of publicly traded equity".

Yesterday Cooper again talked optimistically about the booming but mainly loss-making (for the services) streaming music sector, also noting the rise of Amazon in this space, YouTube's move into premium music content and Facebook's first proper musical dabblings.

According to Variety, Cooper said: "While Apple and Spotify continue to grow their global subscriber numbers, Amazon and YouTube are both off to a great start with their premium services. This increased competition is good news for our business, and we're happy to see other large tech companies, such as Facebook, begin to recognise the true value that music brings to their platforms".

For those wondering, CMU is still a Spotify shareholder. We're in it for the long-haul. Our single share is now worth $179.52, a whole $24.35 than we paid for it. Party time!


UTA says new investors will allow further growth
Talent agency UTA yesterday announced that two global investment outfits have taken minority stakes in the company, namely Investcorp and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

The agency said that the lovely cash pile generated by the new investments will be used to continue and accelerate recent growth, as well as to "enhance UTA's services, and continue to invest in resources to support its clients and colleagues in a time of change and innovation in content creation and distribution". What fun!

UTA has been growing and diversifying in recent years, principally through acquisition. In 2015 it boosted its music credentials by buying The Agency Group, and then earlier this year it expanded its presence in dance music by acquiring the Circle Talent Agency.

Other deals have expanded its interests in the gaming, e-sports and public speaking domains. It also has a stake in media firm Core, the American Idol-owning business that went through a period of restructuring after filing for bankruptcy in 2016, and which has just rebranded as Industrial Media.

In a joint statement confirming the new investors, UTA's Jeremy Zimmer, David Kramer and Jay Sures said yesterday: "This is a transformative event for UTA. There has never been a greater moment of change and opportunity in our industry for artists, creators and companies like ours".

They went on: "We were deliberate about finding the right investment partners who recognise UTA as a business that puts clients first, exemplifies a collaborative and diverse culture, and is focused long term on capitalising on the unique opportunities that disruption and transformation provide. We found that in Investcorp and PSP Investments".

For their part, PSP says it is "excited" to partner with Team UTA, while Investcorp is, obviously, "THRILLED" by its new adventure in entertainment.


Eventim takes complete ownership of Scandinavian ticketing firm
German ticketing giant CTS Eventim continues to expand its share of the European live and ticketing markets through a new deal in the Nordic region.

Eventim has confirmed it is now the sole owner of Venuepoint, a ticketing business it first bought into back in 2016. It has now bought out the other shareholder in the company, Nordisk Film. The new deal, Eventim says, will result in a "simplified ownership structure" as the business looks to further expand in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Confirming the transaction, Eventim COO Alexander Ruoff said: "The Scandinavian countries are particularly attractive to us, not only because of their spending power but also because of their strong digital affinity. Therefore, we are very much looking forward to actively contributing to Venuepoint's further growth over the long term. At the same time, I sincerely thank our former co-owners at Nordisk Film for our trustful collaboration and all the progress we have achieved over the past two years".

Venuepoint CEO Jens B Arnesen will continue to lead the company. After thanking out going owners Nordisk Film, he said yesterday: "I'm looking forward to further developing our business with the unique expertise of Europe's leading ticketing provider CTS Eventim. I am sure that we will benefit not only from their resources and network, but also from the new and simplified ownership structure".


Apple Music launches new automated playlist based on friend listening
With everyone in such a frenzy to pitch their new tracks to the curators of the big playlists on the streaming platforms, it's easy to forget that in the early days of streaming we were promised super personalised playlists lovingly created by cold-hearted robots.

Of course, all those now-crazy-powerful streaming service playlisters of the human variety do share their office space with a few curator robots, who will probably become ever more important as the streaming market matures. For its part, Apple Music has just added another automated playlist called Friends Mix which will update weekly with 25 songs based on the listening habits of any one subscriber's many friends.

The new playlist builds on existing functionality for friends to share listening information within the Apple Music ecosystem. Not sure what happens when all your friends are on Spotify. Or if you don't have any friends. Maybe they could create a new robot to pretend to be your pal.


Capital FM to launch in Brighton next month
Global's Capital brand is coming to Brighton following the radio firm's acquisition of local radio station Juice 107.2 earlier this year. Capital Brighton will go live on 3 Sep on Juice's 107.2 FM frequency, with brand new breakfast and drive time shows alongside other programming networked in from Capital's London HQ.

Global, of course, rebranded many of its local FM stations under the Capital name back in 2011. It has since further expanded the Capital network through acquisition, including the Liverpool station that also broadcast under the name Juice. The acquisition of the previously independently owned Juice Brighton was announced back in January of this year.

Confirming the Capital brand would now arrive on FM in Brighton, Global boss Ashley Tabor said last week: "We're proud to bring the fresh new sound of Capital to the vibrant area of Brighton and Hove. Across the country, Capital is the UK's number one hit music brand, reaching more than 8.3 million people every week and bringing it to Brighton and including local and national news and entertainment is very exciting. We're looking forward to working with new advertisers and partners in the area and connecting them with hit music fans through Capital".


Approved: Sasha
Singer-songwriter Sasha - not to be confused with the DJ of the same name - returns with the latest in an expanding run of singles released over the last couple of years. 'Waterworks' sees her writing talent hold firm, while she helps it to stand up more with some nice production quirks.

"We wrote the song about getting drunk and telling your friends all your problems - something I have done on multiple occasions", she says of the track. "We wanted the track to be a tongue-and-cheek, self-deprecating 'pull yourself together' moment. It made me excited to explore a new version of myself as an artist, looking at the complexity of adulthood and not taking myself or my music too seriously".

If you fancy seeing her live, you'll have to wait until 9 Oct, when she's scheduled to play The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington. You can't listen to 'Waterworks' right now though.

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

BBC Proms to launch VR version of Anna Meredith's 'Five Telegrams' project
The BBC Proms will later this month present one of those immersive audio-visual experiences to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. It takes the Anna Meredith-composed piece that launched both this year's Proms programme of concerts and the Edinburgh International Festival and then throws a load of new-fangled VR technology into the mix.

'Five Telegrams' is a collaboration between Meredith and 59 Productions. Marking the fact that it is now nearly 100 years since the end of the First World War, the audio-visual piece aims to put the spotlight on some lesser known stories from that conflict.

For the recent performances of the work at the Proms and EIF, Meredith's music was accompanied by an assortment of visuals projected respectively onto the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.

A new version of the project will now take place in London on 21 Aug. Music recorded at last month's Proms performance will be integrated with a VR experience. There will be two versions of the VR iteration of 'Five Telegrams', one featuring the whole piece, and another shorter version utilising one element of Meredith's composition called 'Field Postcard'.

The piece looks at the limited communication that was allowed between those fighting in the war and their families back home. Organisers explain: "Over 300,000 censored letters were sent each day from the frontlines during the height of World War One. During the war, censorship of mail meant that soldiers had few ways to regularly correspond with their loved ones at home".

They go on: "Field postcards, for example, offered soldiers the chance to quickly communicate their status, but at the cost of detail. 'I am quite well', 'I have been admitted into hospital', 'I have received no letter from you' - for many, these stock phrases were their only regular link between families at home and soldiers on the frontline".

People will able to experience the VR iteration of the 'Five Telegrams' project in London on 21 Aug, but also elsewhere later this year. Including in the comfort of their own home, because the shorter version will also be made available via your favourite VR platforms.

Commenting on all this, BBC Proms Director David Pickard said: "The BBC Proms broke new ground on the opening night of the Proms this year when we presented our first ever new commission combining both music and visual projections. 'Five Telegrams' has already been seen by thousands of people at live events in London and Edinburgh, and hundreds of thousands more on television and online. I am delighted that this latest VR incarnation will reach even wider audiences and add a further ground-breaking development to the project".


AIM Awards nominations announced
The nominations for this year's AIM Awards were unveiled yesterday, the next edition of the Independent Music Awards taking place on 4 Sep in London. Are you now expecting me to format and organise all those nominations into neat lists for you to carelessly scan and not really digest? Oh, alright then.

Independent Album Of The Year: Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest, Jorja Smith - Lost & Found, Kamaal Williams - The Return, Kamasi Washington - Heaven And Earth, Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears, Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination, Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger In The Alps, Shame - Songs Of Praise, Sophie - Oil Of Every Pearl's Un-Insides, Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar.

Independent Track Of The Year: Bicep - Glue, Christine And The Queens - Girlfriend, Dave - Question Time, Peggy Gou - It Makes You Forget (Itgehane), Charlotte Gainsbourg - Deadly Valentine, Ghostpoet - Immigrant Boogie, Let's Eat Grandma - Falling Into Me, Phoebe Bridgers - Motion Sickness, Shame - One Rizla, Wolf Alice - Don't Delete The Kisses.

Best Sophomore Release: Fever Ray - Plunge, Gwenno - Le Kov, King Krule - The Ooz, Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears, Nines - Crop Circle.

Best Creative Packaging: Black Sabbath - The Ten Year War, Fela Kuti - Box Set #4 Curated By Erykah Badu, Hüskur Dü - Savage Young Dü, Oneohtrix Point Never - Age Of, Wishbone Ash - The Vintage Years 1970-1991.

UK Breakthrough Of The Year: Aj Tracey, Goat Girl, Idles, Jorja Smith, Sophie.

Independent Video Of The Year: Idles - Colossus, Leon Vynehall - Movements (Chapter III), Moses Sumney - Doomed, Novo Amor - Birthplace, Superorganism - Everybody Want To Be Famous.

Independent Label Of The Year: Brownswood Recordings, Ninja Tune, Transgressive, Dirty Hit, Dead Oceans.

Best Small Label: Black Acre Records, Rocket Recordings, Rock Action Records, On The Corner Records, Houndstooth.

Hardest Working Group Or Artist: Dawn (Dawn Richard), Idles, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Mogwai, Tom Misch.

Most Played New Independent Act: Camelphat & Elderbook, Dave, Hardy Caprio, Jorja Smith, Yxng Bane.

International Breakthrough Of The Year: Cigarettes After Sex, Confidence Man, Moses Sumney, Phoebe Bridgers, Zeal & Ardor.

Best Live Act: Cassia, DMA's, Erasure, Idles, Steps.

Indie Champion Award: Femi Adeyemi - Founder Of NTS Radio


Steel Panther plough on with their Pussy Melter guitar pedal despite protests
Steel Panther have announced that they are going ahead with the launch of their own guitar effects pedal called the Pussy Melter, despite objections to the name resulting in the original partner in the project, audio equipment company TC Electronic, pulling the product.

When TC first unveiled the pedal, it stated that "when we met up with Steel Panther's oh-so-humble guitarist [Russell 'Satchel' Parrish], he had only one condition: that the tone be as wet as the ladies on the front row". But after various protests to the pedal and the way it was being promoted - including from various female guitar players - TC backtracked. They said in a statement: "We recognise that the material was inappropriate [...] We sincerely apologise".

Undeterred, the band have announced that they are still going ahead with the merch item complete with knobs labelled 'dirty', 'sizzle', 'booty' and 'load'. But in a bid to counter the ongoing criticisms that this product is rather sexist, they have declared that the pedal is aimed at all guitar players oblivious of gender. So, that's alright then.

The band said in a statement: "We respect and love the freedom of speech afforded to all citizens in the US. We support the right for all people to express themselves no matter where they are in the world. We welcome all races, genders and sexual orientations at our shows - shows that celebrate everyone's individuality through partying, and of course a love of heavy metal".

They go on: "As clearly stated by Satchel when it was originally developed, the sound being created by the Pussy Melter tone pack was intended to bring pleasure to females who heard it. Steel Panther is happy to announce that we are now offering pleasurable eargasms to everyone".


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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Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
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CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
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