TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify has announced a new partnership with Samsung, and just as the consumer electronics giant unveils its new smart speaker too! It's like people plan these things. The new partnership will more closely integrate the Spotify app with Samsung's own products, making them slightly easier to set up for existing subscribers, and pushing the streaming service into the faces of Samsung consumers not yet streaming their tunes... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Spotify allies with Samsung as electronics firm launches smart speaker
LEGAL Travis Scott fan sues festival after rapper shows up late for headline set
MEDIA 6 Music announces new daytime schedule
ARTIST NEWS Princess Nokia and Timbaland record song for Erase The Hate
RELEASES Cher to release album of Abba covers
Matthew Dear announces new album, Bunny
ONE LINERS Chase & Status, Dave Grohl, Mount Kimbie, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #416: Tim Cook v streaming music
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Spotify allies with Samsung as electronics firm launches smart speaker
Spotify has announced a new partnership with Samsung, and just as the consumer electronics giant unveils its new smart speaker too! It's like people plan these things. The new partnership will more closely integrate the Spotify app with Samsung's own products, making them slightly easier to set up for existing subscribers, and pushing the streaming service into the faces of Samsung consumers not yet streaming their tunes.

Explaining what the new alliance meant on the company's website yesterday, Spotify main man Daniel Ek said: "This partnership with Samsung reduces the friction for users to get Spotify up and running on multiple Samsung devices once the accounts have been linked. It allows us to create a seamless music listening experience together for the user that would be hard for either of us to build alone". Lovely stuff.

With its Galaxy Home smart speaker, Samsung is now going head-to-head with Apple, Amazon, Google and others in the already rather competitive 'shout-and-play' market. Controlled via its Alexa/Siri rival Bixby, the Samsung device is perhaps most akin to Apple's HomePod, in that higher quality audio is being pushed to the fore over other functionality gimmicks and a competitive price point. Which may or may not be a good idea.

Over the years Samsung has had various goes at launching its own music services. I've not been keeping precise count, but it feels like there were about 4009 of them. None of which worked. So it makes sense for the electronics firm to ally with an existing market-leader as it pushes into the smart speaker space.

Such an alliance makes extra sense for Spotify, whose main competitors in subscription streaming have all gone big in the smart speaker domain. And Apple in particular has made sure its HomePod is very much skewed towards its own Apple Music.

Explaining how it will be (slightly) easier to set up Spotify on Samsung devices moving forward, Ek continued yesterday: "When someone buys a phone, the user can easily discover the Spotify app on Samsung Smart Switch. And soon, Samsung Smart TV users will be able to play Spotify through the SmartThings app. It's a new level of integration that will allow Spotify to be easily accessible and discoverable on Samsung devices. As you move from room to room, your devices will be aware of your location and prompt you to effortlessly transition your listening between them".

And in much the same way Siri favours Apple Music, Bixby will skew to Spotify by default. Ek explains: "When a user asks Bixby for music, Bixby will look to Spotify - even if that user has never used Spotify before - allowing listeners to receive recommendations from Spotify, discover new playlists, and create new musical experiences".

Samsung isn't the first traditional consumer electronics firm to abandon its own attempts at running a music platform in favour of just partnering with Spotify. In 2015, Sony shut down its Music Unlimited set-up and instead started pushing the Spotify service via its PlayStation Network.


Travis Scott fan sues festival after rapper shows up late for headline set
In what seems like a somewhat optimistic lawsuit, a Travis Scott fan is suing the organisers of a Canadian music festival because the rapper showed up 75 minutes late for his set there.

The Osheaga festival takes place in Montreal and Scott was booked to headline the first day of this year's proceedings on 3 Aug. He was scheduled to perform from 9.45pm to 11.00pm, but didn't make it to the stage until after that finish time. Organisers blamed delays at the Canadian border for the late start, which also resulted in him played for just 40 minutes.

Needless to say, there was plenty of frustration being communicated on the social networks as fans awaited Scott's arrival at the festival. There was speculation as to whether the rapper would show up at all and – even if he did – whether he'd be able to perform any of his raps before the inevitable curfew. Others said that they'd only bought tickets to Osheaga to see Scott and should therefore get a refund.

But only one fan decided to immediately go legal to get that refund. According to the Montreal Gazette, student Megan Le Stum is seeking class action status for the lawsuit she filed with a Canadian court earlier this week. In her legal filing, she explains how she gave up waiting for Scott at 10.30pm, presumably doubting he'd perform at all. By that point, she adds, the crowd awaiting the rapper had become "impatient and aggressive".

The lawsuit says that Le Stum, who works part-time, had to save up money to buy a ticket to Osheaga and she only did so in order to see Travis perform. The legal papers then argue that festival promoter Evenko had a responsibility to respect the schedule of its event. Even if Canadian border guards didn't, presumably.

Evenko are yet to comment on those demands or Le Stum's lawsuit.


6 Music announces new daytime schedule
BBC Radio 6 Music has announced a big old re-jig of its schedule, shuffling presenters around left, right and centre. The big news is that Shaun Keaveny is off weekday breakfasts after eleven years, replaced by Lauren Laverne.

Laverne shifts forward out of her current mid-morning slot, although not quite as far as you might expect. Her breakfast show will start half an hour later than Keaveny's. But don't worry, Chris Hawkins' early breakfast show will be extended in order to avoid there being 30 minutes of silence every morning.

Keaveny isn't being put out to pasture, by the way. He's moving over to weekday afternoons. He's replacing Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie, who are moving to the weekend breakfast slot. They push Mary Anne Hobbs over to weekday mid-mornings, thus filling Laverne's former position and completing the circle.

"I'm so excited about our new show and delighted to be part of the next phase of 6 Music's evolution", says Laverne. "Whatever the day brings for our listeners we intend to get them ready for it with a fantastic selection of music and guests who have something worth hearing to say. I can't wait to get started!"

Keaveny adds: "The last eleven years, four months and three days of breakfast radio has allowed me to create an entire world of daftness, aided and abetted by my most wonderful listeners, who I'm chuffed to be able to leave in the care of my relay partner, Lauren Laverne".

"Breakfast radio has reduced me to the kind of person that cries at traffic lights and remonstrates with shopping trolleys", he goes on. "So I give joyful thanks for the opportunity to take my show into the afternoons and sleep past 5.13am".

None of this shuffling about will actually happen until early next year, mind, so you've got plenty of time to get used to the idea. Or to start listening to 6 Music anew, accustom yourself to the current schedule, and then get used to the idea of the revamped line up.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Joey Negro... Up On The Roof & In the Club at POW
This Saturday sees CMU fave Joey Negro playing not one but two sets at the Prince Of Wales down their in Brixton Town. He will be joined by no less than Jeremy Newall, Henry Greenwood and Nick Standen for this thirteen hour bash that runs from 3pm all the way through to 4am.

On top of that little lot, Goneburger will be selling burgers on the roof and rum-based cocktails will be flowing in the Wray & Nephew Rum Shack. Add in deckchairs and some decent views - and assuming yesterday's rain in London was a temporary blip in this marvellous summer we're enjoying - then this should be a near perfect August weekend party.

Saturday 11 Aug, POW, 467-469 Brixton Road, London, SW9 8HH, 3pm-4am, £20 plus booking fee, info here.

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

Princess Nokia and Timbaland record song for Erase The Hate
Princess Nokia and Timbaland have teamed up to write an official song for US anti-discrimination charity Erase The Hate. "I wanted to join this campaign more than anything simply because I have always revolved my life, revolved my music and revolved my passion around dismantling hate", says Nokia.

Erase The hate founder Bonnie Hammer adds: "Silence equals complicity. Hate and bias must be called out wherever and whenever we see it. We all have a part to play - fighting hate means using the positions and platforms we have to make the difference we can. I'm incredibly grateful to Timbaland and Princess Nokia for joining us to deliver Erase The Hate's message of equality".

Watch the video for the track here.

Princess Nokia also has two UK shows coming up later this month. She'll play The Forum in London on 20 Aug and the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds on 21 Aug.


Cher to release album of Abba covers
Cher is capitalising on her appearance in the new 'Mamma Mia' movie sequel by releasing a new album of Abba covers. Titled 'Dancing Queen', the record will be out on 28 Sep, with her version of 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)' available now.

"I've always liked Abba and saw the original 'Mamma Mia' musical on Broadway three times", says Cher. "After filming 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again', I was reminded again of what great and timeless songs they wrote and started thinking, 'why not do an album of their music?' The songs were harder to sing than I imagined but I'm so happy with how the music came out. I'm really excited for people to hear it. It's a perfect time".

Other Abba songs to get the Cher treatment on the record include 'Waterloo', 'SOS', 'Mamma Mia', and of course 'Dancing Queen'.

Listen to her version of 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)' here.


Matthew Dear announces new album, Bunny
Matthew Dear has announced that he will release his first album since 2012 in October. He's released two tracks off it already, 'Bunny's Dream' and 'Echo'.

"Some bands have retired and come back in the amount of time since my last album", says Dear. "Hell, I've even played a part in making two more humans since 'Beams'. But hey old man, why aren't I rested? Why's your boy so damn tired? Where's the music? Did I finally succumb to the burn out you always warned me of? Well, I DJed a lot, put out an Audion album, and submitted a 'DJ-Kicks' mix".

"Throughout it all", he continues, "as has been the case since I was fourteen, I made loads of weirdo music. If it weren't digital, there'd be boxes of tapes and tapes and tapes. See, that's the thing. I'm a tinkerer. I'm a loop obsessed sound hack. The process is what I get out of bed for. So what gives, pops? Where is the music?"

Yes, where? He goes on: "'I make music for people who like my music' is something I recently tweeted. There is something I've come to love about my career. I really can do whatever I want. So long as I feel it's the best use of time, or yields results that translate into good music later. That's where you'll find the music".

But where Matthew? You still haven't really told us. "It's in my head. It's on my hard drives. It's in my car driving the girls to school in the morning. They even asked me how Tegan and Sara snuck in and out of the house without them noticing to make those songs with me. The music is always there. It's just a matter of time before it starts to bubble over and finally get stamped 'property of the people'".

Right. Just in case it wasn't clear, Tegan & Sara guest on two tracks on the album. Expanding beyond their guest spots, he goes on: "I'm calling this one 'Bunny'. As always, it's got a little bit of everything that makes me who I am. Why 'Bunny'?"

Decent question I guess. "Fundamentally", he answers, "I love the way the word looks and sounds. I love the way it rolls off the mind and onto the tongue. It's a funny thing too. Bunnies are cute. Bunnies are weird. They're soft. They're sexy. They're lucky. They wildly procreate. They trick hunters, but get tricked by turtles. They lead you down holes. They adorn the headboards of children's beds, lined up meticulously just as mom did when she was your age. Bunnies are seemingly with us from birth, and probably skitter past on our way out the big door. 'Viste al conejito papá?' 'Sí, fue una buena sopa!' Good one, pops".

I hope we're all on the same page now. The album will be released through Ghostly International on 12 Oct. Here are those new tracks 'Bunny's Dream' and 'Echo'.


Chase & Status, Dave Grohl, Mount Kimbie, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Downtown in the UK has signed one of those publishing deals you all like so much with Chase & Status. And there's not much you can do about that I'm afraid.

• Dave Grohl's new documentary/exercise in lengthy songwriting 'Play' is out now. You can watch it via its own website, YouTube, or even the BBC iPlayer.

• Mount Kimbie will curate the next edition of the 'DJ-Kicks' compilation series, out on 28 Sep. As is the custom, they have inserted a new track of their own. Titled 'Southgate', you can listen to it here now.

• Mitski has released new single 'Two Slow Dancers'. Her new album, 'Be The Cowboy', is out next week.

• Micah P Hinson has announced that he'll release a new album with his band The Musicians Of The Apocalypse, titled 'When I Shoot At You With Arrows, I Will Shoot To Destroy You', on 26 Oct. Here's new single 'Small Spaces'. They'll also play Oslo in London on 4 Dec.

• The Eye Of Time has released new track 'A Need To Survive'. New album, 'Myth II : Need To Survive', is out on 24 Aug.

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


Beef Of The Week #416: Tim Cook v streaming music
Apple CEO Tim Cook has really put the boot in to Spotify. I mean, he hasn't, but that's how it's being reported in a lot of places. And that's good enough for me to dwell on at length, what with a deadline to meet and everything.

What happened was that Fast Company published a profile on Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and also asked Cook for his thoughts on streaming music. His response is framed as if Cook was asked, "Why do you think Spotify is such a piece of shit?" Although there's no real evidence that he was asked directly about his company's main streaming rival at all.

What he's quoted as saying is: "We [at Apple] worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft".

That could be a dig at Spotify. But it could just as easily be hand-ringing about Apple Music's contribution to the ongoing evolution of music consumption. Maybe he's concerned about what his predecessor Steve Jobs did to music with the iTunes store and all that downloading nonsense. It's fun just guessing, isn't it?

There is a little more to go on though. Cook also said this: "I couldn't make it through a workout without music. Music inspires, it motivates. It's also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it's better than any medicine".

If we assume that Cook listens to his music via a streaming service, then we could also assume that he listens to a gym playlist and a sleep playlist for those two activities. When it launched, Apple Music made a big deal about having humans involved its playlists, at least writing editorial content to go alongside the music. Then there's its radio station with its human presenters, Beats 1. And more recently there's been video content like 'Carpool Karaoke' and that new Ed Sheeran documentary. Do those count as humanity?

So, maybe Cook is saying his streaming service is more human, and that's what helps him work out and sleep. Though Spotify has had human playlist curation alongside its automation for quite a while now. Just as Apple Music has automation alongside its human curation. Indeed, just this week Apple launched a new automated playlist featuring music played by your friends on the service. But Spotify has been developing something very similar. And it also has human-fronted video content that nobody really wants to watch.

My point is, aside from it having a radio station that no one listens to, Apple Music seems pretty much equal to its streaming service rivals when it comes to levels of humanity. So maybe Cook isn't having a go at his rivals at all, but at streaming in general. Maybe he's not even streaming the music that plays when he's at the gym. Maybe he's not streaming playlists when he's trying to get to sleep either. Hell, he's running a trillion dollar company, he can probably afford to have a human being personally playing music at him at all times.

Maybe Cook thinks all streaming services are shit. Or maybe he thinks none of them are, as yet, fulfilling their potential. Perhaps he's concerned about all those reports that the art of songwriting is changing as songwriters battle to stop listeners skipping their songs in the first 30 seconds. Damn those streaming services with their bits-and-bytes.

That said, it's humans who are doing the skipping. And providing said humans with the option to skip – rather than having to wait until the machine that powers most radio stations these days moves onto the next track – has possibly increased the humanity in music.

And anyway, like many of the things people complain about in the streaming age, skipping tracks isn't really new, it's just that it's become measurable. I've known plenty of people who would change the radio station every time they heard a few seconds of that song they didn't like. Or which they thought they weren't going to like. Car travel with those people was as awful pre-digital as it is now. Except now they have more songs to skip.

Of course, when a song is played on the radio, everyone still gets paid their royalties even if half the listeners skip four seconds in. And that's not the case with streaming. So maybe the lack of humanity is in the new business model that's changing the way songwriters and performers get paid.

This week Citibank published a report on the flow of revenues in the digital music age. It found that only around 12% of the money that goes into the music ecosystem actually reaches artists. For an explanation of why that is so when it comes to streaming income itself, you should get yourself a copy of the 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' report CMU Insights and the Music Managers Forum first published in 2015.

Though artists only earning 12% of the money isn't really all that new either. And Apple hasn't done a massive amount to change the way music monies get shared out, despite all its many years at the forefront of digital tunes. So maybe Cook wasn't dwelling on business models or revenue shares or any of those other streaming music debates.

Perhaps what he actually meant was that he and other execs occasionally sit around and worry a bit, don't really come up with anything, and then carry on building roughly the same services as everyone else. Then he goes to the gym. And then he goes to sleep.


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
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