TODAY'S TOP STORY: Before attention formally returns to the draft European Copyright Directive next month, the Pirate Party's representative in the European Parliament - Julia Reda - is hoping to get opponents to the more controversial elements of the proposals out onto the streets... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES As Copyright Directive campaigning starts up again, article thirteen opponents plan to take to the streets
LIVE BUSINESS Live Nation buys Denis Desmond's MCD, via its JV with Denis Desmond
Sony Music shuts down its booking agency in Finland
ARTIST NEWS Aretha Franklin dies
Stormzy launches scholarship to support black students at Cambridge University
RELEASES 23 more Prince albums now available to stream following Sony deal
Richard Ashcroft announces new album 'Natural Rebel'
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #417: Sam Smith v Michael Jackson
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As Copyright Directive campaigning starts up again, article thirteen opponents plan to take to the streets
Before attention formally returns to the draft European Copyright Directive next month, the Pirate Party's representative in the European Parliament - Julia Reda - is hoping to get opponents to the more controversial elements of the proposals out onto the streets.

The copyright reforming directive has been in development for years, of course. For the wider music industry, the focus has been article thirteen, which seeks to increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube.

Such platforms currently claim protection under the so called copyright safe harbour, which means they can't be held liable for copyright infringing material uploaded by their users, providing they offer copyright owners some kind of content takedown system. The music industry argues that YouTube has exploited the safe harbour to force record labels, music publishers and collecting societies into signing unfavourable licensing deals.

The music industry's multifarious trade bodies have been lobbying hard for article thirteen, which has proven to be (along with article eleven) the most controversial of all the elements of the new directive. Much ground had been made, first to get article thirteen included at all, and then to revise it in a way that the music industry reckoned would achieve its objectives.

But MEPs like Reda forced the latest draft of the directive to a vote of the full European Parliament last month where it was voted down, 318 against versus 278 in favour. In the run up to that vote the tech lobby went into overdrive to try and convince MEPs to block the directive, mainly because of articles eleven and thirteen.

Since the vote, the music industry has been very critical of tactics employed by the tech lobby, and especially big bad Google, in the weeks prior to the vote. Their campaigning, it's argued, misrepresented what article thirteen is really about. Meanwhile opponents presented themselves as mere concerned internet users - when many were in fact funded by billion dollar tech giants - and used technology to artificially amplify their voice.

David Lowery's The Trichordist website has run a number of articles exploring these tactics, all of which make for very interesting reading. Meanwhile The Times reported earlier this month how "Google is helping to fund a website that encourages people to spam politicians and newspapers with automated messages backing its policy goals".

The newspaper put the spotlight on an organisation called OpenMedia, which counts Google as a platinum supporter, and which was also analysed by The Trichordist.

The Times wrote: "The campaigning site is intended to amplify the extent of public support for policies that benefit Silicon Valley", before confirming that "the tools were recently used to bombard MEPs with phone calls opposing EU proposals to introduce tighter online copyright rules".

Shortly before last month's vote on the copyright directive, UK Music boss Michael Dugher hit out at Google's behaviour amid various reports regarding the scale of the web giant's direct and indirect lobbying efforts in Europe, including a direct 5.5 million euro spend on lobbying activity in the EU.

He stated at the time: "Google has made vast sums of money behaving like a corporate vulture feeding off the creators and investors who generate the music content shared by hundreds of millions on YouTube. These EU copyright changes are aimed at ending an injustice that has seen Google's YouTube and other big tech firms ripping off creators for far too long".

He went on: "These new figures expose the fact that Google is acting like a monolithic mega-corp trying to submerge the truth under a tsunami of misinformation and scare stories pedalled by its multi-million propaganda machine. Instead of mounting a cynical campaign, motivated entirely out of its self-interested desire to protect its huge profits, Google should be making a positive contribution to those who create and invest in the music".

Following last month's vote, the directive is now heading back to the European Parliament for more debate on 12 Sep. Behind the scenes lobbyists on both sides are concurrently seeking a possible compromise while also rallying their troops and launching publicity campaigns in the run up to the next parliamentary session.

With that in mind, those who oppose articles eleven and thirteen - which they usually respectively dub as the 'link tax' and 'upload filter' articles - are planning public protests on 26 Aug in various European cities, including Berlin, Ljubljana, Prague, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw.

While calling on people to join these protests, Reda has also hit out at the claims that automated tools - like those offered by OpenMedia - were used to make it look like opposition to the copyright directive was much more widespread than it really is.

She recently wrote on her blog: "We haven't won yet. After their initial shock at losing the vote in July, the proponents of upload filters and the 'link tax' have come up with a convenient narrative to downplay the massive public opposition they faced. They're claiming the protest was all fake, generated by bots and orchestrated by big internet companies".

She went on: "According to them, Europeans don't actually care about their freedom of expression. We don't actually care about EU lawmaking enough to make our voices heard. We will just stand idly by as our internet is restricted to serve corporate interests. People across Europe are ready to prove them wrong: they're taking the protest to the streets".

It remains to be seen how many real people take to the bot-free streets of Europe later this month. Meanwhile, the music community should expect rally calls from their representatives and lobbyists in the coming weeks ahead of next month's European Parliament debate.


Live Nation buys Denis Desmond's MCD, via its JV with Denis Desmond
Live Nation has acquired Ireland-based concert promoter MCD Productions. Though it has done so through its joint venture with MCD owner Denis Desmond, which means that he will still own a 50% stake in the live music business he co-founded in 1980.

Live music giant Live Nation has had a long-standing partnership with Gaiety, the company owned by Desmond and his wife Caroline Downey. Many of Live Nation's acquisitions in the UK in recent years have actually been via the LN-Gaiety joint venture, and Desmond himself now heads up the live giant's UK and Ireland operations.

MCD had not been part of that JV previously, being wholly owned by Gaiety alongside Dublin venues the Olympia Theatre and the Gaiety Theatre. Following the recent transaction, MCD now sits under LN-Gaiety, meaning it is half owned by Live Nation. According to Irish music magazine Hot Press, the venues are not part of that deal, although Live Nation has had a role in their management since last year.

News of the MCD deal comes as Live Nation UK confirms the departure of one of its longest serving execs, Paul Latham, who has announced his retirement. Latham enjoyed a long career with the company through its various iterations, including as SFX and Clear Channel, taking on various roles in Live Nation's UK and international operations, most recently as COO. He was also active elsewhere in the UK music industry through his work with UK Music and Creative & Cultural Skills.


Sony Music shuts down its booking agency in Finland
Sony Music Finland has closed down the booking agency it has been operating in the country for the last decade. Its operations will be taken over by the Fullsteam Agency, which is owned by German concert promoter FKP Scorpio, which in turn is majority owned by ticketing and live music giant Eventim.

IQ quote Sony Music Finland MD Wemppa Koivumäki as saying: "Fullsteam Agency is the perfect partner to take care of our artist roster, and I believe that this collaboration will create many benefits for our artists".

There have been various dabblings in the live music space by the major record companies in Europe over the last decade, though a number have recently come to an end. For example, Warner Music has sold off live music units in Italy and Germany in the last eighteen months.

All of which is possibly a sign that major label divisions keen to diversify a decade ago when the record industry was at its lowest ebb are now equally keen to refocus their energies back onto recorded music, given the sector is back in growth.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Wookie at Camden Assembly
Wookie is an original back-in-the-day stalwart who surely needs no introduction. His eponymous album in 2000 put his name squarely on the UKG map with tracks such as 'Scrappy' and the anthemic 'Battle'.

He's back in the Club Tip spot once again because tonight he will lead a rewind to the golden days of garage at the Camden Assembly, which is the old Barfly venue of course. It should be a right fine goodun.

Friday 17 Aug, Camden Assembly, 49 Chalk Farm Rd, London, NW1 8AN, 10,00pm - 3am, £5, info here.

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Aretha Franklin dies
Tributes flooded in yesterday after it was announced that queen of soul Aretha Franklin had died, aged 76. Earlier in the week her family had confirmed that the singer was seriously ill. Her death, it has been confirmed, was due to advanced pancreatic cancer.

In a new statement yesterday, the Franklin family said: "In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds".

Tributes came in from across the worlds of music, entertainment, politics and beyond.

Former American President Barack Obama - at whose inauguration Franklin performed - said in a statement: "Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade - our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen Of Soul rest in eternal peace".

Meanwhile the National Association For The Advancement of Colored People noted Franklin's consistent support for the American civil rights movement, and how "her chart-topping hit 'Respect' became the de facto anthem for a nation struggling to break free from the chains of racism, segregation and a staunch patriarchy".

The organisation's Chairman, Leon W Russell, added: "We remember Aretha for the joy and love she brought into our lives and society via her powerful voice. No one can discuss the civil rights movement nor music without paying respect to the Queen Of Soul. We'll miss her dearly".

Countless artists also paid tribute. Paul McCartney wrote "let's all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years". Elton John, meanwhile, declared that "the loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music".

Adele wrote on Instagram that: "I can't remember a day of my life without Aretha Franklin's voice and music filling up my heart with so much joy and sadness. Absolutely heartbroken she's gone, what a woman. Thank you for everything, the melodies and the movements".

Elsewhere on the social networks, Lady Gaga wrote "what beautiful music and vocal artistry you gave to the world - you are a legend and your soul will never be forgotten".

And Alicia Keys noted how Franklin's songs "made us stronger and prouder - she empowered us", before adding: "We get to be inspired by her forever and now I'm going to write more songs in her honour".

It's thought that Franklin's family is planning a public viewing funeral at the Charles H Wright Museum Of African American History in Detroit, while a number of tribute events will certainly be staged in the months ahead.


Stormzy launches scholarship to support black students at Cambridge University
Stormzy has launched a new programme to support four black students studying at Cambridge University. Funded by the rapper himself - though he hopes to secure other backers down the line - the Stormzy Scholarship will cover the tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant for four people studying at the university, two this year, two next.

Announcing the scheme, Stormzy said: "There are so many young black kids all over the country who have the level of academic excellence to study at a university such as Cambridge, however we are still under represented at leading universities".

He went on: "We, as a minority, have so many examples of black students who have excelled at every level of education throughout the years. I hope this scholarship serves as a small reminder that if young black students wish to study at one of the best universities in the world, then the opportunity is yours for the taking - and if funding is one of the barriers, then we can work towards breaking that barrier down".

Confirming his support for the programme, Cambridge University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, said: "Stormzy is an inspiration, not just for his music but for his engagement on social issues and encouragement of young people"

He added: "He has achieved great success in his career, but recognises that this was at the expense of his studies and the option of a place at a top university. He wants to inspire talented young black people who have their sights set on university to follow their dreams. The studentships are a beacon for black students who might otherwise have felt they could not come to Cambridge".

For more details about the programme check


23 more Prince albums now available to stream following Sony deal
Following the recent deal between the Prince estate and Sony Music, which followed the disastrous deal between the Prince estate and Universal Music, 23 Prince albums have just gone online. Some are available via legitimate digital channels for the first time.

The Prince estate, of course, originally did three deals with Universal Music covering the late musician's recordings, songs and merchandise. But the recordings deal fell apart because of confusion over what albums and singles the arrangement actually covered, Prince having entered into a new deal with his original label Warner Music two years before his death.

With Universal's recordings deal abandoned, the estate announced a new partnership with Sony Music in June this year. This is the first project under that deal, with 23 catalogue titles going live on the digital platforms alongside a new 'Prince Anthology: 1995-2010' collection.

All the releases being put out by Sony's Legacy Recordings come from between those dates, what the major had decided was "a crucial epoch in Prince history". It adds: "Many of these albums, long sought-after by fans and collectors, are available for the first time for streaming and download, adding more than 300 essential Prince songs to the artist's online in-print catalogue". Lovely stuff.

"For Prince, 1995-2010 was an unprecedented period of sustained and prolific creativity", the official blurb goes on. "Releasing fresh recordings at a rapid-fire pace through a variety of distribution strategies, including his own online NPG Music Club, Prince was making some of the most provocative, experimental and soulful music of his career".

It then notes that, "freed from major label demands and expectations, Prince was able to write, record and release his own music on his own terms". Though Sony would surely like to remind you that it was the demands and expectations of the bastards at Warner Music that Prince managed to free himself from in the mid-1990s. Sony Music was too busy having high profile run ins with George Michael in the 1990s to be causing any bother to Prince.

The newly available to stream records are as follows:

The Gold Experience (1995)
Chaos and Disorder (1996)
Emancipation (1996)
Crystal Ball (1998)
The Truth (1998)
Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic (1999)
Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic (2001)
The Rainbow Children (2001)
One Nite Alone... (2002)
One Nite Alone...Live! (2002)
One Nite Alone... Live - The Aftershow (2002)
Xpectation (2003)
N.E.W.S. (2003)
C-Note (2004)
Musicology (2004)
The Chocolate Invasion (Trax from the NPG Music Club: Volume 1) (2004)
The Slaughterhouse (Trax from the NPG Music Club: Volume 2) (2004)
3121 (2006)
Planet Earth (2007)
Indigo Nights (2008)
LOtUSFLOW3R (2009)
MPLSoUND (2009)
20Ten (2010)


Richard Ashcroft announces new album 'Natural Rebel'
Richard Ashcroft has announced he will release his fifth solo album in October. The record, called 'Natural Rebel', will come out via his own label RPA with some top support I'm sure from all those BMGers.

Says the man himself: "With experience comes knowledge and for me this is my strongest set of songs to date. All my favourite sounds distilled into something that will hopefully give my fans lasting pleasure. It is for them. Music is power".

If you're thinking that this new record malarkey sounds like a damn good excuse for Ashcroft to tour this United Kingdom of ours, then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Here are some tour dates...

26 Oct: Glasgow Barrowland
28 Oct: Middlesbrough Town Hall
29 Oct: Nottingham Rock City
31 Oct: Manchester Albert Hall
2 Nov: Kentish Town Forum


Beef Of The Week #417: Sam Smith v Michael Jackson
This week, Sam Smith went rogue and claimed not to like Michael Jackson. Yes, I know, unbelievable. Luckily, the cool-headed and always rational people of Twitter set him straight, explaining to him why he was so very, very, very, very wrong.

Smith's comment appeared in a video which was posted by Adam Lambert onto Instagram, apparently by accident. Lambert and friends were travelling around on a boat, having fun. Lambert felt this was something that his followers should be aware of. So, for a brief time, a video of his boating exploits sat on his profile, in which Jackson's 'Human Nature' played in the background. The camera then turned to Smith - who was also there for some reason - and who said, "I don't like Michael Jackson, but this is a good song".

I mean, really. Imagine not liking Michael Jackson. And saying so out loud. In public. On a boat. While smiling. Outrageous!

As the internet responded to this revelation, many online critics argued that this careless statement would almost certainly be the end of Smith's career. Others said that it was impossible for Smith to hold such an opinion because Michael Jackson has sold many millions of records. Others still insisted that Smith should "show some respect" to the late king of pop. Particularly as he's not sold anywhere near as many musical units.

In the interest of balance, some did come to Smith's defence. Sort of. One person on Twitter argued that "you can't just say 'I don't like Michael Jackson', you have to say 'I'm very sorry but Michael Jackson's songs aren't my fave'". That, presumably, would be suitably respectful to Jackson himself, while ensuring that his fans don't have to hear that there are people out there with differing opinions. Because God knows, you don't want to get yourself into an argument with a real life Michael Jackson fan.

Of course, when Smith said "I don't like Michael Jackson" he could have been talking about the man rather than the music, Jackson himself more commonly dividing the room.

But he seemingly did mean the music. And, social media waffle nonsense aside, it is true that in a room full of pop fans - and you have to assume that pop maker Smith is a kind of pop fan - usually most people will concede that there are a number of real pop classics in the Michael Jackson oeuvre. I mean, Lord knows he put out some shit music too, but there were several fine pieces of pop product on the earlier solo albums. And not just 'Human Nature'. And probably not 'Human Nature'.

But hey, you know that Smith, ever the maverick. I bet he's a pop fan that doesn't even like Queen. Try saying that on Adam Lambert's boat, Sammy boy. Not only will you anger the internet, you might be in for rather a long swim.


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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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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