TODAY'S TOP STORY: So, Spotify allowing artists to upload music directly into their platform then. That's certainly got people talking. And while a move in this direction has seemed likely for some time, it is certainly a significant moment. Its impact on record companies and music distributors will likely be nominal at first, but it's the latest in a number of developments that are forcing labels and distributors to think harder about how and where they add value... [READ MORE]
Available to premium subscribers, CMU Trends digs deeper into the inner workings of the music business, explaining how things work and reviewing all the recent trends.
As the European Parliament considers the draft new copyright directive once again, its safe harbour reforms are very much in the spotlight. But what is the safe harbour and why does it need reforming? CMU Trends explains. [READ MORE]
This three part CMU Trends guide provides a beginner's guide to music copyright and the music rights business. In it, we cover ownership, controls and licensing, and review key trends in streaming, physical, sync and public performance. [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Spotify to offer artists direct-upload tools
LEGAL Suge Knight pleads no contest to voluntary manslaughter, gets 28 years
RELEASES Avril Lavigne returns with first new music for five years
GIGS & FESTIVALS Ed Sheeran announces UK shows for summer 2019
Kiss announce plans for farewell world tour
AWARDS Wolf Alice win 2018 Mercury Prize
ONE LINERS ICMP, Mumford & Sons, Lil Peep & XXXTentacion, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #422: Heaven's Gate v Lil Uzi Vert
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These three seminars provide a concise guide to how music copyright works, the ins and outs of music licensing and current trends in the music rights sector. [READ MORE]
CMU's Chris Cooke is at Reeperbahn this week interviewing Live Nation's SVP Marketing International Jackie Wilgar later today. Plus we'll present our digital dollar speed briefing explaining how streaming services are licensed at 11am tomorrow. [READ MORE]
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Fabric is looking for a savvy and experienced marketing person with an expert touch on digital. The successful candidate will work alongside the Booking & Promotions Team and lead the fabric communications requirement.

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Spotify to offer artists direct-upload tools
So, Spotify allowing artists to upload music directly into their platform then. That's certainly got people talking. And while a move in this direction has seemed likely for some time, it is certainly a significant moment. Its impact on record companies and music distributors will likely be nominal at first, but it's the latest in a number of developments that are forcing labels and distributors to think harder about how and where they add value.

Spotify announced the new direct upload feature within its Spotify For Artists platform in a blog post yesterday. It said the new feature was being launched in response to feedback from the artist community. "You've told us time and time again that sharing your work with the world should be easier", the company wrote in its post.

The digital firm has already been testing the new feature with a very small number of acts, and yesterday's post was inviting other artists to apply to participate in further beta testing. It added that feedback from the artists who have used the direct upload tool already "was instrumental in shaping the feature".

Although invite-only for now, the tool will presumably be available to all at some point. Which means all and any artists will be able to upload their music and tweak their metadata on the fly. They will then get reporting back from the service, which will pay any royalties due directly into their bank account. Participating artists will only be licensing their recording rights through the service, with any song royalties still being paid via the publishers and collecting societies.

As an aside, as the music is uploaded, Spotify will seemingly do some sort of check that it's not a copy of someone else's music already on the platform, to stop opportunists from pumping a Taylor Swift or Cardi B track into the system and claiming the royalties they generate. Although if those checks were to fail, presumably Spotify would have to resort to using that 'safe harbour' that the music industry loves so much to avoid any copyright liabilities.

Spotify is by no means the first digital service to allow artists to directly pump their content into their system. Both SoundCloud and YouTube offered this functionality from the start and, indeed, were all about the user-upload long before they'd even really started to think about themselves as being streaming services in the conventional sense.

However, to date, anyone wanting their music on a platform like Spotify needed a label or distributor to facilitate the process. That label or distributor negotiates a licensing deal with the streaming firm and then builds the technology to actually deliver the music. They then charge the artist an upfront fee or take a cut of subsequent royalties for their trouble.

By the time Spotify came along, there were already companies like CD Baby and TuneCore that would offer that kind of service to any artist for a nominal fee or commission, with those firms already working with DIY acts that wanted to sell downloads via iTunes.

The number of companies offering this kind of service has grown over the years. Universal Music has also been active in this space for some time via its Spinnup business and Warner Music quietly put a similar set-up into beta earlier this year called Level Music.

It's DIY distribution services of this kind that could potentially be impacted by Spotify allowing artists to directly push their music into the system without paying any fees or commission, especially if Apple and Amazon were to follow their rival in offering this option down the line. Why pay a distributor fees or a commission when you can have a direct relationship with each service and not have to share income with any third parties?

Of course, artists really need their music to be on every streaming platform with an audience, and don't really want to have to upload new tracks to every service separately. Especially if there are lots and lots of services.

If we end up with a global streaming market totally dominated by three players - say Spotify, Apple and Amazon - then it might be realistic for artists to maintain direct relationships with all of them. But if we end up with a global streaming market with five or more key players, then the convenience of being able to use one distributor to get music into all of them would definitely be worth the relatively low fees distribution outfits of this kind charge.

Most DIY distributors also offer other services to artists, not least data tools that crunch and interpret data from multiple places. Of course, Spotify also offers other services via the Spotify For Artists platform - including the recent tool for pitching new tracks to playlist editors - though again those are limited to just one service.

As for bigger music distributors and the record companies, which take a (sometimes much) bigger cut of any income, because of the rise of the DIY distribution platforms in recent years, for sometime now they have not been able to boast about any sort of gatekeeper status when courting artists. So they already rely on the other services they can provide when seeking to demonstrate the value they deliver for the artists they work with.

That includes cash investments of course. Which actually makes the news earlier this year that Spotify had directly licensed some recordings off a small number of more established artists - and paid those acts advances - a much bigger deal for the other distributors and labels. Though there again, good distributors and labels should still have USPs that set them apart, whether that be the other services they offer, and/or a willingness to make riskier cash investments in newer talent where recoupment of that investment is less assured.

Still, all distributors and labels need to regularly review their range of services and consider new ways that they can support the artists they work with. What may seem like really valuable services today may become free-to-access run-of-the-mill tools tomorrow. Especially if it's a service that can ultimately be automated. Therefore distributors and labels need to constantly identify new ways that they can add value in order to futureproof their business.

The other company Spotify's direct upload tool could ultimately impact on is SoundCloud. As the latter has tried to reinvent itself as a subscription streaming service, it has often bragged about how its catalogue of recordings is so much bigger, because it is so easy for any artist to upload their content into its system. And artists have been doing that for years.

SoundCloud still has an edge as a marketing channel for artists, because it is so easy to embed its player, though Spotify is treading further onto its rival's territory. It's true that the majority of those extra tracks uploaded into SoundCloud and, possibly in the near future, Spotify, are tracks that most people don't particularly want to listen to. But in terms of being able to brag about your community of DIY creators, Spotify's brags could start to mirror SoundCloud's.

So all in all, quite what impact Spotify's announcement yesterday will have remains to be seen. But as lines continue to blur between labels, distributors and services, any company that inserts itself between artist and fan will have to continue to think about and demonstrate how it provides actual value in that relationship.


Suge Knight pleads no contest to voluntary manslaughter, gets 28 years
Suge Knight has pleaded 'no contest' to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in relation to the 2015 incident in which the one time hip hop mogul ran over and killed another man.

The fatal hit and run incident occurred outside a burger bar in LA near where a trailer was being filmed for the NWA biopic 'Straight Outta Compton'. Knight seemingly had an initial run in with one the men he subsequently drove his vehicle into - Cle Sloan - on the film set, after he showed up there reportedly to complain about his portrayal in the movie.

The altercation subsequently moved to the burger bar, with Sloan joined by another man called Terry Carter. It was Carter who was killed when Knight ultimately drove his vehicle into the two men.

Knight faced murder charges, which he has been fighting ever since in a suitably dramatic fashion, working his way through a legion of lawyers as he went. Along the way two of those lawyers were charged over allegations of misconduct.

Those dramas have resulted in various delays in the case, though jury selection was scheduled to begin this month. But before that could happen Knight's people reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

Under that deal, the murder charge - which could have resulted in a life sentence - has been dropped. Instead Knight has pleaded no contest - which is basically a guilty plea - to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Although that will also result in a lengthy prison sentence of 22 years, with another six because of the three-strike rule. He will be formally sentenced on 4 Oct.

Carter's daughter Crystal was in court as Knight delivered his no contest plea. Outside the court she told reporters: "I'm surprised he pleaded out. Normally he likes the cameras to be on him 24/7".


Vigsy's Club Tip: A Night with Jimpster at The Cause
I've been tracking the ever current DJ and top quality producer Jimpster - aka Jamie Odell - and his excellent Freerange Records for quite some time.

Tonight he heads to The Cause in Tottenham to headline at this crowdfunded venue that also supports mental health charities.

He'll be joined by one of his signings to Freerange - Demuja - and the Tunnelvisions duo, who release through Atomnation. Local talent Kozber, Mohson and DJelley are also set to play too.

Should be cracking.

Friday 21 Sep, The Cause, Ashley House Depot, Ashley Road, London, N17 9LZ, 10pm-5am, £16. More info here.

Avril Lavigne returns with first new music for five years
Avril Lavigne has returned with her first new song for five years. Titled 'Head Above Water', it and the album it is taken from are inspired by her recovery from Lyme Disease.

"One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die", she says. "My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed 'God, please help to keep my head above the water'".

"In that moment", she goes on, "the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on".

Through the release, Lavigne will also raise money for her Avril Lavigne Foundation charity, which supports people with Lyme Disease.

Watch the lyric video for 'Head Above Water' here.


Ed Sheeran announces UK shows for summer 2019
Ed Sheeran has announced UK shows for next flippin August. He's so bloody organised, that boy. At least it means Viagogo will have plenty of time to plan its next lawsuit.

He'll have to schlep all the way up to Leeds for the first two gigs, but the other two will be in Ipswich, which is near where he lives. People are calling them 'homecoming shows', but are they really homecoming shows if you still live in the place that you are meant to be homecoming to?

Maybe they just mean that he'll be coming home from Leeds. Which he will. Though he was actually born in Yorkshire, so you could argue they are the homecoming shows. So maybe the Ipswich gigs are the coming home from the homecoming shows.

Anyway, as has been the case with all of his recent concerts, Sheeran is very keen for tickets not to go up on secondary sites, other than officially sanctioned fan-to-fan exchanges where they can be bought and sold at face value or less.

"Once again, Ed and his team have a strict stance against anyone using unethical secondary ticketing sites", says a statement on the matter. "The UK shows on this tour will use 'paperless' ticketing technology, which means that the credit or debit card of the purchaser of the tickets will become their ticket".

"This stops secondary sites and ticket touts being able to resell tickets at inflated prices and ripping off fans", they went on. "Fans who become unable to go to the shows will be able to sell their tickets from 1 Nov to other fans at the price they paid plus a booking fee at their point of purchase".

Singling out one secondary ticketing platform (aka litigant) in particular the statement goes on: "The promoters urge all customers to only use the official ticket sites listed at and are reminded that is not an official ticket vendor for this tour".

Tickets will go on general sale at 10am on 27 Sep. Here are the dates in a list format:

16 Aug: Leeds, Roundhay Park
17 Aug: Leeds, Roundhay Park
23 Aug: Ipswich, Chantry Park
24 Aug: Ipswich, Chantry Park


Kiss announce plans for farewell world tour
Kiss have announced plans to hang up their, um, facepaint and tongues, after one final world tour. And this won't be like their last farewell tour, they really mean it this time. Probably. The band's Paul Stanley announced plans for the farewell jaunt when they appeared on 'America's Got Talent' this week.

They subsequently put out a statement, saying: "All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who've filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years. This will be the ultimate celebration for those who've seen us and a last chance for those who haven't. Kiss Army, we're saying goodbye on our final tour with our biggest show yet and we'll go out the same way we came in... unapologetic and unstoppable".

Kiss Army members last got a chance to see the band perform for the final time in 2001, following a run of shows featuring the original line-up. Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons subsequently decided to keep going, however. Nearly two decades on, it is possible that this really will be their final outing.

No dates have been announced yet. There are no real details at all, to be honest. All we know is that it's happening. I'm sure they'll get around to confirming all the important stuff soon. In the meantime, here they are performing 'Detroit Rock City' on 'AGT'.


Wolf Alice win 2018 Mercury Prize
Wolf Alice took this year's Mercury Prize last night for their album 'Visions Of A Life'. And that's fine.

In one of the least adventurous Mercury contests for some time, Wolf Alice beat Arctic Monkeys, Everything Everything, Everything Is Recorded, Florence And The Machine, Jorja Smith, King Krule, Lily Allen, Nadine Shah, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Novelist, and Sons Of Kemet. In doing so, they take home £25,000 in prize money and a lovely trophy.

Accepting the award, frontwoman Ellie Rowsell - a former judge on the prize herself - said: "Thank you so much, this means so much to pick this up with my three best friends".

Bass player Theo Ellis added: "When we first started as a band, I remember the first label meeting we ever had, we walked into the room and a geezer said, 'What the fuck? You lot don't look like a band at all. What are you? What are you supposed to be? All your songs sound different, you don't look like each other'. We never really figured it out but here we are, so fuck you!"

He went on: "[That label exec] also said he didn't want to work with women who wore make up cos it was 'a bunch of fuss'. But here we are, and do you know what, I actually can't believe it. Noel Gallagher's fucking sat there looking at me, what are you supposed to say? Big up everyone who was nominated. This means the world. Anyone got a Jägerbomb?"

Praising their chosen album, the judging panel said in a joint statement: "From an incredibly broad list of remarkable music, Wolf Alice emerged as the overall winner due to their ability to deliver an album that combines the epic and intimate in equal measure. It is a journey of a record - with euphoric festival anthems and moments of subtle beauty - it is an album articulated with confidence and adventure. For them, the world awaits!"

The world might have to wait a little while they sleep off those Jägerbombs, though.


ICMP, Mumford & Sons, Lil Peep & XXXTentacion, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• The International Confederation Of Music Publishers has announced John Phelan as its new Director General. He will officially replace Coco Carmona on 1 Oct. "John has impressive music industry credentials through his work at IFPI", says ICMP chair Chris Butler. "I have no doubt that he will play a key role in advancing the interests of music publishers across the globe".

• Mumford and his various offspring have released their new single, 'Guiding Light'. It's the first track from their fourth album, 'Delta', which will be released on 16 Nov.

• ILoveMakonnen has released a collaboration recorded with Lil Peep and XXXTentacion prior to both their deaths earlier this year.

• Young Thug has released the video for 'Dirty Shoes', featuring Gunna.

• Self-Esteem - aka Rebecca Lucy Taylor from Slow Club - has released new single 'Rollout'. "In my last relationship I used to joke that I couldn't write about her because we never had any problems", she says of how the song came about. "And then one day she just left, and I was, like, 'shit'. But then I was also so happy in a really sadistic way because I had something to write about".

• Boy George and Culture Club have released another track from their upcoming reunion album. This is 'Life'.

• Georgia is back with new single 'Mellow', featuring Shy Girl.

• Au/Ra has released new single 'Emoji'. "'Emoji' to me, is about an online relationship/friendship where someone is afraid to show the other person who they really are - in fear of disappointing them and ruining the illusion", she says. "Or vice versa, where someone is afraid to find out who the other person is".

• With her new album 'Pastoral' out today, Gazelle Twin has announced a show at Somerset House in London's Lancaster Rooms on 16 Nov. From the album, this is 'Hobby Horse'.

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


Beef Of The Week #422: Heaven's Gate v Lil Uzi Vert
The slow rollout of rapper Lil Uzi Vert's second album 'Eternal Atake' has been interesting for the mystery surrounding it. Although more so because of the repeated legal threats from Heaven's Gate. You know how much we love a bit of copyright litigation around here.

Heaven's Gate is the US-based religious cult that became famous in 1997 when its members took their own lives in a mass suicide. That event occurred as the Hale-Bopp comet passed near the planet. The cult believed that behind the comet was a UFO that would transport them to a new level of existence. Reckoning that the Earth was on the verge of being "recycled", they thought that through killing their human bodies, they would be able to catch a lift with the hidden spacecraft.

All of the group's members being dead would make it difficult for them to subsequently hire lawyers more than 20 years later. Unless they were able to contact Earth-based attorneys from up on that spaceship. But no, while 39 members of the cult did take their lives in 1997, some stayed behind. In a quite admirable piece of forward thinking, two in particular remained in order to maintain the organisation's website, ensuring that their message would still be available until such time that humanity was wiped out, as per their prophecy.

That website remains online to this day, preserved exactly as it was in 1997. There, anyone can access information on Heaven's Gate's beliefs, watch videos warning of the consequences of not joining them in evacuating the planet, download or buy their book, and look at the group's very striking logo.

One person who's taken a particular shine to that logo is Lil Uzi Vert. In July, he revealed the artwork for 'Eternal Atake', which closely mimics the Heaven's Gate image, right down to the tagline beneath it.

In their artwork, Heaven's Gate guarantee: "As was promised - the keys to Heaven's Gate are here again in Ti and Do (The UFO Two) as they were in Jesus and his Father 2000 yrs ago".

Lil Uzi, meanwhile, offers: "As was promised - the keys to Eternal Atake are here again in Luv and Rage (The UFO 2) as Lil Uzi Vert and his Father 2000 yrs ago".

The similarity was noticed by many, not least the surviving members of Heaven's Gate. In a statement, they told Genius: "He is using and adapting our copyrights and trademarks without our permission and the infringement will be taken up with our attorneys. This is not fair use or parody, it is a direct and clear infringement".

Ever since, legal reps for Heaven's Gate have reportedly been attempting to reach a settlement with the rapper. Then on Tuesday, he released the first single from the album, 'New Patek', the artwork for which features a keyhole symbol similar to that of the religious group's logo.

Might this mean that the two parties had come to some sort of agreement? Nope. Of course not. Despite claims by Heaven's Gate to the contrary, the rapper's legal team are adamant that their client's mimicry of the cult's logo is definitely allowed under the fair use provisions of US copyright law.

Asked for comment by the New York Post, a Heaven's Gate spokesperson said: "Our attorneys are working with him on direct and clear infringement of trademarks, copyrights and use of logo".

They continued: "We are also dealing with expressions of 'fair use', which is cited when this kind of image is displayed. The artist has to be careful to not make full use of the spirit and meaning of the group while altering images of it to make it look like he isn't infringing. We will see what can be sorted out. It is in the hands of attorneys".

You'd think that people who'd spent the last two decades or so convinced that all humanity was about to be destroyed would have bigger things to worry about than protecting their intellectual property. But I suppose it's important to have principles, even in the face of imminent Armageddon. I'm sure Taylor Swift will still be trademarking her lyrics in the midst of the rapture.

The rapper and his team have not commented publicly on all this, so we're left to scour his tweets and lyrics for hints about what he's thinking.

Back at the beginning of August, he tweeted: "I never really worry because I will definitely transfer to another body. Please come with me", adding Milky Way and flying saucer emojis. So I guess that means he's aware of Heaven's Gate's work, beyond their logo design skills. Although I think they've been quite clear that the opportunity to transfer has long since passed.

Other than that, I went through the lyrics of 'New Patek' and found this: "And she said 'Lil Uzi so great, how you deal with all that hate?' Shut up, bitch, don't give me migraine".

So I think you could say that my research has been inconclusive.


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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