TODAY'S TOP STORY: Secondary ticketing website Viagogo has gone legal over Ed Sheeran's decision to cancel thousands of touted tickets on his recent tour. That anti-tout strategy meant that many fans who had bought tickets from an unofficial reseller had to buy a new ticket on the night of the show and then claim back what they'd paid for the original touted ticket from their secondary ticketing platform of choice... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Viagogo sues Ed Sheeran promoter over anti-touting efforts
LEGAL Judge allows "smear campaign" statements to be considered at Dr Luke v Kesha trial
LIVE BUSINESS Dice launches in France
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Mastodon manager Nick John diagnosed with cancer
ARTIST NEWS Kele Okereke soundtracks new play to debut in London next year
RELEASES Christine And The Queens documentary to air of Apple Music
AWARDS AIM Awards presented for 2018
Rated Awards presented for 2018
ONE LINERS Atlantic, Phil Selway, Calvin Harris, more
AND FINALLY... Nicki Minaj wanted to punch Travis Scott "in his fucking face" over chart result
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Viagogo sues Ed Sheeran promoter over anti-touting efforts
Having finally complied with the Advertising Standards Authority's demands on how to present pricing information, Viagogo risked going into today's Parliamentary debate on secondary ticketing with one or two less haters in the room. And that would never do for a company that has put so much effort into building a corporate brand that truly stands for the sentiment of "fuck-you-all-you-fucking-fuckers". How best to re-up the hate without risking being kicked off Google search? I know, let's sue Ed Sheeran!

So, yes, secondary ticketing website Viagogo has gone legal over Ed Sheeran's decision to cancel thousands of touted tickets on his recent tour. That anti-tout strategy meant that many fans who had bought tickets from an unofficial reseller had to buy a new ticket on the night of the show and then claim back what they'd paid for the original touted ticket from their secondary ticketing platform of choice.

Given Sheeran's team had persuaded eBay's StubHub and Live Nation companies Seatwave and Get Me In to not list tickets for his shows, the chances are the platform having to process that refund was Viagogo. Sheeran's promoter Kilimanjaro Live - which is actually the entity being sued here - earlier this year confirmed that thousands of tickets had been reissued in this way. At the time Viagogo, employing its usual wall of silence, didn't comment.

However, yesterday it had its dormant-for-years PR department set up a Twitter account to comment on the whole thing in quite some detail and without pulling any punches. It said that Kilimanjaro boss "Stuart Galbraith duped Ed Sheeran fans by confiscating thousands of genuine tickets at the gate, forcing fans to buy new tickets and pocketing millions of pounds in duplicate sales". As a result, it said, it was now suing the promoter "for defrauding thousands of fans out of several million pounds on Ed Sheeran's recent tour".

At the heart of Viagogo's complaint is a question frequently posed in the early days of the online touting debate: what is a ticket? Is it a commodity that, in our lovely free market economy, can be bought and sold for profit without interference from either the state or the original creator of the commodity? Or is it, in fact, a contract between the buyer and the concert promoter, subject to any terms and conditions in said contract?

The live industry is pretty adamant that it's the latter. And if one of the terms of the contract says that the agreement is non-transferable and that any attempt to transfer it to another party will result in the contract being terminated, then the promoter has a legal right to cancel any ticket that has been resold without its permission.

The UK Consumer Rights Act 2015, which includes some regulation of the ticket resale market, specifically allows this to happen providing a term of that kind is included. It says that "an organiser of [an] event must not cancel [a] ticket merely because the seller has re-sold the ticket or offered it for re-sale UNLESS a term of the original contract for the sale of the ticket provided for its cancellation if it was re-sold by the buyer under that contract".

As the anti-touting movement has gained new momentum in recent years, an increasing number of promoters of big name artists have been enforcing this legal right to cancel touted tickets. In order to reduce the negative impact on fans who bought said touted tickets - the identities of whom are unknown to the promoter - usually cancelled tickets aren't resold, but instead put aside. This means that on the night of the show the fan can buy a new ticket at face value and then reclaim what they paid for the original touted ticket - the resale sites usually offering buyers a guaranteed refund if they are refused entry to a show.

Of course, in order to cancel touted tickets, a promoter needs to know which tickets have been resold by a tout, which can be tricky. Except, the aforementioned Consumer Rights Act says that resellers of tickets - when putting a ticket up for sale for a show with numbered seating - must provide the buyer with "the number, letter or other distinguishing mark of the seat" linked to the ticket "before the buyer is bound by the contract for the sale of the ticket". Which basically means including seat number when listing a ticket for resale.

Where resellers and resale sites have complied with that rule, promoters can identify specific touted tickets as they are put on sale online and cancel them before the show. Although not every reseller and resale site has complied with that rule.

Interestingly, in its statement yesterday, Viagogo said it was impossible for Kilimanjaro to cancel touted tickets to the Sheeran shows before the gig, because they were "not able to identify and cancel tickets on the Viagogo platform". Which is seemingly an outright admission that Viagogo and its sellers are in breach of UK consumer rights law.

It's for that reason, the resale firm alleges, that Kilimanjaro set up Victims Of Viagogo booths at Sheeran's shows. This meant it was the fans on the night who were revealing that they were in possession of touted tickets, allowing the promoter to then cancel said tickets. Had fans ignored the Victims Of Viagogo signs - the company claims - their tickets would actually have got them into the venue. Indeed, Viagogo insists that the vast majority of fans in possession of a touted ticket did get into the show without any problems.

A spokesperson for the secondary ticketing company insisted: "All tickets on Viagogo are authentic. Stuart Galbraith set up fake Viagogo booths at venues and conned our customers into believing that their tickets wouldn't work. He confiscated their legitimate tickets and pocketed millions of pounds by forcing fans to buy new ones".

Of course, under the Consumer Rights Act, Kilimanjaro was in its rights to cancel those legitimate tickets and - by definition - as soon as it had done so they would cease to be legitimate. If the cancellation wasn't actually occurring until the moment the fan rocked up at the Victim's Of Viagogo desk, that's because Viagogo and the touts that use its platform were likely in breach of British consumer rights law.

Also, while fans would be inconvenienced on the night (and all the more so while navigating Viagogo's notoriously tricky refunds system), they'd ultimately be financially better off, having been sold a new ticket at face value, compared to the hiked-up price they had almost certainly paid for their touted ticket. The tout would be the biggest loser, having shelled out for the original ticket that was cancelled, while Viagogo would lose its fees on the sale.

It is, however, true that Sheeran and Kilimanjaro would have been paid twice for the ticket. Though the live firm incurred the cost of implementing its anti-touting strategy and manning the Victim Of Viagogo booths.

At the conclusion of its statement yesterday, Viagogo seemed keen to stress that its beef wasn't with Sheeran himself but with Kilimanjaro, one of three companies he worked with on his recent world tour. Actually, throughout its tweeted missive, Viagogo seemed pretty keen to stress that its beef really is with Galbraith personally, him having been a long-time critic of the secondary ticketing market.

"Until recently", Viagogo's statement claimed, "Stuart Galbraith regularly used Viagogo to sell thousands of tickets to a range of his artists' events, presumably without their knowledge given his public stance against ticket resale".

It went on: "Following a dispute over his request for preferred terms he threatened that he would use his artists, such as Ed Sheeran and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to put pressure on Viagogo even if it meant causing huge inconvenience to his artist's fans. We have Stuart on record saying that his artists would 'do whatever he told them to do' and that he would go to any lengths to cause chaos for Viagogo customers".

Concluding, the company noted that: "We can't believe that Ed Sheeran would knowingly permit his promoter to lie and steal and we can only imagine that Galbraith has been acting fraudulent without his artist's knowledge".

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kilimanjaro Live has fiercely hit back at Viagogo's statement and legal action, stating that "the claims made today by Viagogo are ludicrous, laughable and most importantly totally false". It added that "Kilimanjaro will defend against this action vigorously and look forward to doing so in court".

The legal action has been filed in the German courts on the basis that Kilimanjaro's parent company DEAG is based there. Although, as DEAG has pointed out, this is an odd move given that Kilimanjaro wasn't involved in Sheeran's shows in the country.

Viagogo doesn't reference specific shows or countries in its lengthy statement, though seems to be talking about Kilimanjaro's anti-touting strategy in the UK. This would mean that the dispute centres on the specifics of British contract and consumer rights law. You have to think, therefore, that a German court wouldn't have jurisdiction.

Elsewhere in its statement, Kilimanjaro accuses Viagogo of issuing yesterday's proclamation in a bid to "deflect attention away from their upcoming appearance" before the culture select committee in the UK Parliament, as well as "the wide-ranging criticisms, multiple legal prosecutions in many territories (including by the Competitions And Markets Authority in the UK) and condemnation of their business practices".

Viagogo's Head Of Business Development Cristopher Miller is due to appear before Parliament's culture select committee later today in a session discussing live music in general and secondary ticketing in particular. He will defend the ticket resale sector alongside a rep from eBay's StubHub. Speaking against the touts will be a number of music industry reps including, well, Kilimanjaro's Stuart Galbraith.

Assuming he shows up - and however good Galbraith's stint might be - Miller is definitely the headline act, Viagogo having controversially declined to attend the last culture select committee session on touting. And, as Kilimanjaro pointed out, the hearing comes just days after the CMA announced it was taking Viagogo to court over various breaches of UK consumer rights law, including things like it not telling buyers "which seat in the venue they will get". Something the firm basically admitted to in yesterday's statement.

On the upside, Miller will be able to point out that the Advertising Standards Authority has removed its sanctions against the company after it changed the way it declares the prices of touted tickets on its platform. Although critics might point out that Viagogo only seems to comply with rules and regulations whenever failing to do so puts it at risk of losing the right to buy its way to the top of Google search lists for in-demand concerts. Anti-tout campaigners argue that this is how many fans are tricked into buy tickets from touts.

Either way, today's session should make for interesting viewing. They should have sold some tickets to help pay for the renovations of the Palace Of Westminster. Then they could have set up a Victims Of Viagogo booth in Parliament Square and got paid twice!


Judge allows "smear campaign" statements to be considered at Dr Luke v Kesha trial
Dr Luke has scored another win in his defamation case against Kesha. The judge overseeing the litigation has permitted amendments to the lawsuit. This means Kesha will be asked to defend press statements made by her and her representatives after she originally went legal against the producer in 2014.

The decision follows moves last week by Dr Luke's legal team to present the much documented accusations that he drugged and raped Kesha as part of a planned campaign to smear him. As part of that, his legal reps presented newly unsealed emails between Kesha managers Jack Rovner and Ken Levitan, along with music industry veteran Irving Azoff, in which they said that they should "battle this guy in the press" and "take down his business".

Luke's legal team argue that PR firm Sunshine Sachs and Kesha's then lawyer Mark Geragos were brought in to deliver a series of media statements to push the allegations of abuse that had been presented in a 2014 lawsuit filed in California. That was one of several legal actions filed in the long running dispute between the producer and his former collaborator.

The aim of that lawsuit and the accompanying media campaign, Dr Luke has long argued, was to force his hand in a contract dispute - Kesha and her team wishing to get her out of various agreements with Luke's companies.

Kesha dropped Geragos as her legal representative in 2016 and the lawyer himself was sued for defamation by Luke over claims he had made on social media - specifically that the producer had also raped Lady Gaga. This and other statements made by Geragos and others, on TV and in news articles, are among those presented by Luke's team as evidence of a smear campaign.

Most of the lawsuits filed as part of this long-running dispute have been dropped or dismissed, but the defamation action continues to go through the motions.

When Luke's legal reps first moved to beef up that legal action, Kesha's current legal team argued that statements made after their client's original (now dismissed) lawsuit should not be allowed to be presented as evidence. In particular, statements made by lawyers about cases they are working on are generally assumed to have immunity in this regard.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kesha's attorneys said that including these statements in Luke's ongoing defamation action "would chill rape and domestic violence victims from reporting to authorities or filing a complaint out of fear that they will be sued for exercising their litigation right".

However, judge Jennifer Schecter disagreed, saying that the statements were relevant to Luke's key allegation of a smear campaign. She said that it had never been a secret that his legal team planned to present various public statements in their case and therefore "Kesha cannot reasonably claim to have lacked notice that her liability is potentially predicated, in part, on [her team's] conduct".

If and when the case gets to trial, the judge went on, it could possibly be concluded that "the California complaint was a sham maliciously filed solely to defame plaintiffs as part of Kesha's alleged campaign to destroy [Luke] as leverage to renegotiate her contracts".

"The proposed allegations are transactionally related to those in the [amended complaint] and are not palpably insufficient or patently lacking in merit", said the judge, dismissing the motion to strike presented by Kesha's lawyers.

This latest ruling doesn't really move the case any closer to trial, but is a significant win for Team Luke.


Dice launches in France
Mobile-centric ticketing firm Dice has announced its move into the French market where it will be working with a number of promoters and venues in Paris. The UK-based company, which also launched in the US a year ago, says it already has partnerships in place with Parisian venues Le Consulat and Pop-Up Du Label.

The firm's CEO Phil Hutcheon says: "We're so excited about launching in Paris. We've been working on this for a while to make sure it's perfect for Parisians. The live music scene is one of the most exciting in the world and we're so honoured to work with some of the most influential players [there]".

Confirming their tie-up with the ticketing outfit, a spokesperson for Pop Up Du Label added: "The live music scene is nothing without the fans, which is why we've taken another step to make their gig experience as epic as possible. We're delighted to be one of the first [French] venues using Dice's mobile-only tickets - and we're sure there'll be plenty more to follow".


Mastodon manager Nick John diagnosed with cancer
Mastodon have commented publicly for the first time after their manager Nick John was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The band recently cancelled their entire North American tour, just days before it was due to begin, "due to a critical situation of a member of the Mastodon family". That person, it now emerges, is John.

"The most kind and beautiful being is in need of very strong amazing vibes more than ever", wrote guitarist Brent Hinds on Instagram yesterday. "My friend and manager [Nick John], who is mainly responsible for Mastodon's success, has been stricken with pancreatic cancer and has been fighting so hard that he is withering away and taking a little bit of me with him".

Drummer Brann Dailor added in his own post: "Help send all the power and love of the universe to our dear friend and manager Nick John. I don't know where Mastodon would be without him. He is absolutely integral to the success we have achieved as a band not to mention one of the best people you'd ever hope to meet. We all deeply love and care for him. Send your love his way. Thank you".

The cancelled tour, due to start last Saturday, was set to be a co-headline outing with Dinosaur Jr. They quickly announced a new set of dates without Mastodon, which will begin on 10 Sep.

John is an artist manager at Rick Sales Entertainment, which also has bands like Slayer and Ghost on its roster.


Approved: 8B5C3B++
Chris Parmenidis is the founder and chief sound engineer of Unity Mastering in London, where he has worked on albums by artists including Paloma Faith, Joe Strummer and Primal Scream. He's also composed music for film and TV, and is a regular contributor to the Universal Production Music catalogue. But his new project, '8B5C3B++', takes him into new territories.

As an album, '8B5C3B++' is an incredible ambient composition. Sounds appear as characters in an evolving story that you can interpret as you wish, as it moves slowly in numerous directions that keep you engaged across its 45 minute run time.

"'8B5C3B++' is an electronic album unlike anything else I have released before", says Andy Blackhouse of experimental label Focused Silence, which has put out the record. "There are striking juxtapositions in noise and form. Sometimes delicate, sometimes thundering, all the time intriguing".

While all of that is true, there is another level to the project which will not reveal itself on your standard hi-fi set up or headphones. The album is designed to be played through a newly designed immersive speaker set up, which aims to "materialise space and time as physical entities".

This sound system will be heard for the first time in a live performance of '8B5C3B++' at Saint Augustine Church in Kilburn, London on 13 Oct.

Parmenidis explains: "The speaker arrangement in the church will have a real distance between closer and further sounds which creates new dimensions and actual depth into the sound, which are qualities that don't exist in conventional stereo or surround systems".

Tickets for the show are available now. In the meantime, listen to the album here.

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

Kele Okereke soundtracks new play to debut in London next year
Bloc Party's Kele Okereke and composer Matt Jones have written the soundtrack for a new play called 'Leave To Remain'. The show is set to debut at the Lyric Hammersmith theatre early next year.

According to the blurb, the play tells the "remarkable story of a young gay couple suddenly faced with an uncertain future [and] explores the effects of one couple's marriage, and what happens when it begins to fracture both their families".

Of his work on the music for the show, Okereke says: "'Leave To Remain' is the story of what happens when a marriage forces two very different families to come together. For the music for this project I took cues from the records that my parents would play in our house when I was growing up, West African high-life music, and I tried to combine those sounds with the electronic dance music I hear in clubs today. It was important to me to make something that represented the meeting of two very different worlds".

The show will run at the Lyric from 18 Jan to 16 Feb next year. A song from it, 'Not The Drugs Talking', is available to listen to now.


Christine And The Queens documentary to air of Apple Music
With her new album 'Chris' out later this month, Christine And The Queens - real name Héloïse Letissier - is set to release a new documentary on Apple Music explaining the inspiration behind the record.

"Identity is a constant construction, you have to reassess all the time and redefine it", she says. "'Chris' is actually me being comfortable in the mess".

Earlier this year, she explained to The Times: "I invented 'Christine' as a survival technique to deal with many things. I felt it would save me. Then people started to listen to the album, so I thought, 'am I going to be healed?' But it doesn't work like that".

She went on: "I am more armed, but still have the same sadness. When I started to write music, I desperately wanted to relate to people. But when I became famous, I could relate less. I thought, 'oh, am I trapped in my own creation?' I was really lonely".

Following a premiere in Paris on 13 Sep, the film will go live on Apple Music the next day. Watch a trailer here.


AIM Awards presented for 2018
It was only AIM's Independent Music Awards last night, celebrating the best of British independent music and labels by employing the tried and test formula of handing out some gongs to people. But which people? Well, let me tell you...

Independent Album Of The Year: Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination
Independent Track Of The Year: Peggy Gou - It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)
Best Sophomore Release: Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears
Independent Video Of The Year: Novo Amor - Birthplace
Best Creative Packaging: Black Sabbath - The Ten Year War

PPL Award For Most Played New Independent Act: Dave
UK Breakthrough Of The Year: Jorja Smith
International Breakthrough Of The Year: Phoebe Bridgers
Best Live Act: Erasure
Hardest Working Group: Idles

Outstanding Contribution To Music: Tracey Thorn
Pioneer Award: Goldie
Innovator Award: Sophie
Indie Champion Award: Femi Adeyemi, NTS Radio

Independent Label Of The Year: Ninja Tune
Best Small Label: Black Acre Records


Rated Awards presented for 2018
It was only GRM Daily's Rated Awards last night, celebrating the best of British urban music and culture by employing the tried and test formula of handing out some gongs to people. But which people? Well, let me tell you...

Artist Of The Year: Not3s
Producer Of The Year: Steel Banglez
Breakthrough Of The Year: Headie One
Personality Of The Year: Michael Dapaah
Radio DJ Of The Year: Charlie Sloth

Album Of The Year: Nines - Crop Circle
Track Of The Year: AJ Tracey feat Not3s - Butterflies
Video Of The Year: Rapman - Shiro's Story Part 2
Mixtape Of The Year: Fredo - Tables Turn

The KA Get Rated Award: Kenzo
The GRM Legacy Award: D Double E


Atlantic, Phil Selway, Calvin Harris, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Katie White has been appointed General Manager of Atlantic Records in the UK. She was previously Managing Director of Vice Media's i-D.

• Radiohead drummer Philip Selway has composed the soundtrack for a new Radio 3 drama, 'Sea Longing', set to air on the station this autumn.

• Calvin Harris and Sam Smith have released the video for recent single 'Promises'.

• The reunited Culture Club have released the video for new single 'Let Somebody Love You'. Their first album for 20 years, 'Life', is out on 26 Oct.

• Ash have released the video for 'Confessions In The Pool', taken from their latest album, 'Islands'. The band will head out on a tour of the UK later this month.

• Pom Poko have released new single 'Follow The Lights', their first for Bella Union. Their debut album is set for release early next year.

• John Grant has announced a whole load of new UK tour dates for 2019, kicking off at Leeds Academy on 30 Jan.

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


Nicki Minaj wanted to punch Travis Scott "in his fucking face" over chart result
Do you remember how Nicki Minaj got all angry and upset about Travis Scott beating her to the number one spot on the US albums chart, and then she got all angry and upset that people thought she was all angry and upset, because she wasn't angry or upset, not even about people thinking she was angry and upset? Well, now she's clarified things once and for all. She definitely wasn't angry and upset. She just wanted to punch Scott in the face.

Minaj, of course, reckoned that Scott had stolen the number one spot that should have been occupied by her new album 'Queen' instead of his almost new LP 'Astroworld'. We won't bother going back through all of Minaj's rationale for that claim of chart theft. If you're forgotten what she said, you should read this short dissertation we published on the whole thing last month. Go on, read it. Because we're still trying to justify just how long we spent writing an article about a stupid spat between two pop stars and it will help us do that if you all give it another read.

If you can't be bothered doing that, it basically centred on Scott bundling merch and tickets with his records. Hey, here's a quick summary from Minaj herself, who chatted about the spat during an appearance on the 'Ellen' TV show yesterday. She said: "When you have a number two album to someone who's selling shirts, and merch, and passes for a tour that's not even announced yet, it feels like you're being tricked. It feels like you're playing a game and someone is beating you at a game, as opposed to selling music".

And that's what made Minaj angry and upset, Ellen DeGeneres suggested. "Why do people say things like upset or angry?" the rapper replied. She wasn't angry and upset, remember. No. "When someone says how they feel, they're not always upset or angry", she went on. "I felt like I wanted to punch him in his fucking face". Which, you might think, sounds like the sentiment of someone who is either angry or upset. "It's not anger", Minaj insisted, "it's just what's right and what's wrong, and what's fair".

So that's that settled then. In case you wondered, I'm also neither angry nor upset. Now come over here so I can punch you in the face. It only seems fair.


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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