TODAY'S TOP STORY: The British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors - BASCA to its best mates - has joined pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA in speaking out against Sony's bid to take complete control of the EMI Music Publishing catalogue. The songwriter group says the proposed deal will create a "major-superpower" in music rights that will "limit creator choice" and "potentially undermine the future autonomy of creator rights"... [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 draft new copyright directive in Europe reaches its final stages, the safe harbour reforms it contains remain 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 BASCA calls for Sony's EMI deals to be blocked
LEGAL Appeals court overturns ruling in 'Stairway To Heaven' song-theft case
DEALS BMG renews deal with Jeff Tweedy
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify testing ways to confirm that Family Plan users are playing by the rules
MEDIA BBC launches music website to aid dementia care
ARTIST NEWS BBC commissions Take That 30th anniversary special
ONE LINERS Marc Anthony, Jess Glynne, DJ Yoda, more
AND FINALLY... Kanye West spends weekend controversially promoting new album, forgets to release album
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Audio Network seeking a Senior A&R Manager (UK & Europe) to work in the A&R team. You will have a primary focus on the implementation of Audio Network’s UK and European A&R and wider music strategy.

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Secretly Distribution seeks a full time Digital Marketing Co-ordinator based in our London office. This individual will work closely with our international and digital teams in a wide reaching role that will focus on sales and marketing in multiple territories outside of the US.

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BASCA calls for Sony's EMI deals to be blocked
The British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers And Authors - BASCA to its best mates - has joined pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA in speaking out against Sony's bid to take complete control of the EMI Music Publishing catalogue. The songwriter group says the proposed deal will create a "major-superpower" in music rights that will "limit creator choice" and "potentially undermine the future autonomy of creator rights".

Sony Corp, of course, led a consortium to buy the old EMI Music Publishing business in 2012, appointing its own music publisher, Sony/ATV, to administrate the EMI rights. Earlier this year it announced its intent to buy out all but one of the other investors involved in the 2012 deal. It then subsequently confirmed that a separate arrangement had been agreed with the Michael Jackson estate, which also had a stake in the EMI catalogue.

Those transactions would therefore make EMI Music Publishing a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Corp, which would presumably properly merge it with Sony/ATV. Once the entertainment conglom's global music publishing business is a combined wholly-owned entity, it could more closely align Sony/ATV with the Sony Music record company. Especially once long-term Sony/ATV boss Marty Bandier has stood down next year.

The deals are subject to regulator approval, and Sony formally filed its paperwork with competition regulators in Europe ten days ago. The European Commission now has a month to consider the proposals after which time it can either approve the transactions or instigate a fuller six-month investigation. After that, it could either green light the deals, block them, or push for remedies to counter competition law concerns.

In a statement this morning, BASCA noted that: "Sony is already the largest music publisher in the world, as well as the second biggest music label. If this sale goes through Sony stand to nearly double their publishing catalogue, growing it from 2.16 million to 4.21 million compositions, securing a potential hegemony of the global music market".

"Combined with Sony's label interests", the BASCA statement continued, "this merger would effectively create a 'major-superpower' with new capability to dominate licensing markets and - via direct online licensing deals - raise serious implications for the autonomy of collective rights management".

Collective licensing is much more common on the songs side of the music business, with the collecting societies - or collective management organisations - often controlling some elements of the song copyrights directly. This reduces the power of the music publishers to an extent, especially in Continental Europe. And the power of the societies may well be used as an argument by Sony/ATV as to why its proposed acquisition of EMI Music Publishing outright doesn't create competition issues.

Though songwriters often argue that the big publishers have too much influence over certain collecting societies. Meanwhile in the digital space the bigger publishers have moved to direct licensing of Anglo-American repertoire, albeit in partnership with the societies which, outside the US, control the performing right element of these works.

Expanding on BASCA's concerns over Sony's proposed EMI deals, the organisation's Chair, Crispin Hunt, referenced the European Parliament's recent backing of safe harbour reforms in the draft new European Copyright Directive. These should increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube. That reform is about ensuring certain web-giants don't distort the digital music market, but there should be similar concerns about music majors becoming so dominant that they can skew things to their advantage, Hunt reckons.

He said: "At a time when the EU is looking to restore a balanced, diverse and competitive online marketplace for music, to allow the concentration of market leverage in this way seems antithetical to that purpose. As yet, there appears little evidence that the unchallengeable dogma of the market-share-music-model will successfully deliver the flourishing musical environment that consumers desire".

"Sony is a great music company", he acknowledges, "indeed they acquired, publish and service much of my catalogue". But, Hunt goes on, "if we are to heed the economic lessons of 'too big to fail', it seems incautious to concede near absolute control of the music market to one player. Setting up the music ecosystem so that it once again runs on competition as opposed to oligopoly is the key to a flourishing market, both online and off".

As for the impact Sony's expansion in the songs business could have on the collective licensing system, Hunt says: "While we recognise the advantage of large music companies in securing value for collective licenses, we also note that large catalogues can exert an asymmetric influence on CMOs. Naturally, such catalogues tend to optimise policies for the convenience of the big guys, which could disadvantage the expanding indie and self-releasing sector. The CMO network provides a critical lifeline for most music creators and indie publishers alike. Gigantic catalogues can be good for business - but a Titanic one?"

Speaking for the BASCA Songwriters Committee, songwriter and journalist Helienne Lindvall, references her own experience of a past merger of two other music publishing majors.

"Creators should expect that their copyrights will be known to the publisher and exploited fully", she says. "They should also expect their publishers to work closely with them on a personal level to develop their careers. The opposite has been found to be true for songwriters and composers - including myself - when their rights are transferred from their original publisher to a corporation such as Sony, in merging vast catalogues".

The organisation concludes by confirming that "BASCA is seeking for the Sony transaction to be blocked in favour of EMI being run as a standalone business or else combined with smaller music companies to guarantee a fair and competitive market for European talent".

IMPALA, which has opposed a number of mergers between major music rights companies over the years, is also calling on EC regulators to block the deal. It said last week: "The only solution is to block the deal now. This is necessary to avoid long term harm for consumers as well as other players in the music sector, from writers to streaming services, independent publishers, collecting societies and record companies".


Appeals court overturns ruling in 'Stairway To Heaven' song-theft case
Anyone with fond memories for what was probably the second biggest song theft lawsuit of recent times - the 'Stairway To Heaven' case - is in for a treat. An American appeals court has overturned Led Zeppelin's win, kickstarting a whole new trial.

As those with weirdly good memories for famous copyright lawsuits will recall, Led Zep were sued by the estate of songwriter Randy Wolfe - aka Randy California - which alleged that 'Stairway To Heaven' ripped off a song written by Wolfe.

The band ultimately defeated the litigation in June 2016. Although the jury reckoned Led Zep's Jimmy Page may have been exposed to Wolfe's song 'Taurus' before writing 'Stairway', it was decided the two songs weren't sufficiently similar to constitute copyright infringement.

The Wolfe estate appealed that ruling in March last year, arguing that the jury had been badly briefed by the judge. They also had a good moan about the principle in American copyright law that says that only the elements of a song filed with the US Copyright Office are actually protected by copyright. Which for older works like 'Taurus' means only what was contained in the sheet music, not any subsequent recording.

That was also an issue in what was the biggest song theft lawsuit of recent times, that being the 'Blurred Lines' case. In that legal battle, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams argued that the judge didn't enforce that principle enough, which is why they lost. But in the 'Stairway' case, the Wolfe estate claimed that their judge put far too much emphasis on the same principle, which is why Led Zeppelin won.

The Ninth Circuit appeal court last week concurred with the Wolfe estate, ruling that the judge in the original trial had indeed made errors when advising the jury, especially over some copyright technicalities that were relevant to the dispute. To that end the judgment in favour of Led Zep has been overturned and the whole matter will return to court.

The Wolfe estate's legal rep told reporters: "Today, we are proud that three esteemed jurists from the Ninth Circuit recognised the battle that we fought and the injustice that we faced. Our belief in our justice system never wavered, even under tremendous odds, and we look forward to the challenge of a fair fight".


BMG renews deal with Jeff Tweedy
The BMGs have renewed their global administration deal with that there Jeff Tweedy. The Wilco frontman first appointed Bug Music to administrate some of his song rights back in 2004. BMG subsequently acquired Bug Music in 2011, and then expanded its deal with Tweedy the following year to cover his entire songwriting catalogue.

Confirming that partnership was now being renewed, Tweedy said last week: "I truly appreciate the loyalty and commitment BMG has shown me for so many years and I love that I will be able to continue working alongside these great people with familiar faces".

Meanwhile BMG's EVP Music Publishing Catalogues, David Hirshland added: "It has been an absolute privilege to work with Jeff over the past fifteen years and we are THRILLED he has entrusted BMG to continue to help build his immense and timeless musical legacy".


Spotify testing ways to confirm that Family Plan users are playing by the rules
Spotify is seemingly making moves to crack down on people signed up to its family plan who don't actually qualify for the package. The company has confirmed that it has been testing a way of identifying the location of all users on a family account through their GPS data.

Some users were reportedly recently sent emails telling them that if they did not confirm their location in this way they "may lose access to the plan". This demand was then reported on in various places last week, with some raising privacy concerns over this approach. Spotify has since told Quartz that this was a test that has now ended.

The family plan allows six people to pay for access to the streaming service together for £14.99 per month - rather than £9.99 a month individually. Each person gets their own premium account with the same features as those paying full price. It's no secret that some people use the family plan option to get cheaper access to Spotify Premium by signing up with friends rather than family members.

One of the main limitations of the group membership option is that all people accessing the service must live in one property, meaning actual family members based in different places don't qualify, despite the package's name. It was presumably this same property rule that the GPS tests were trying to enforce, by identifying whether users all had the same primary base.

Last month, Billboard reported that Spotify execs were concerned about rampant abuse of the family plan system and its impact on overall revenues, and on the average amount earned per subscriber, something that has fallen under the spotlight more since the firm's listing on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year.


BBC launches music website to aid dementia care
The BBC has launched a new website called BBC Music Memories which is designed to help trigger memories in people with dementia.

According to research, music has proven effective in helping people with dementia, reaching parts of a damaged brain that other forms of communication cannot. The new website is organised in order to make it easier to find relevant pieces of music, and invites users to share what they find that works.

"With BBC Music Memories featuring tracks from 1920 to 2017 there's something for everyone", explains the BBC's Peter Rippon. "The site hopes to encourage inter-generational use so people of different ages can use the resource together to listen and talk about their own memorable music and the thoughts it triggers. And through users making and sharing their own playlists we aim to build a shared database to create a unique resource to help others with dementia".

Tim McLachlan of the Alzheimer's Society adds: "It's exciting that the BBC are launching BBC Music Memories. From talking to people with dementia we know the positive effect music can have, helping people at all points on their dementia journey, which is why our many support services include Singing For The Brain groups"

"In latter stages", he goes on, "some people who may no longer be able to communicate much or at all through language can be transformed when they hear a song they recognise - joining in singing and/or dancing along. This is going to be a fantastic online tool to trigger music memories for those with dementia".

The launch of the service is being fronted by Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, whose father's diagnosis of dementia was the inspiration for the song 'Soon'.

Lightbody says: "Music changed my life. It's been my whole life. I started the band when I was eighteen so for my whole adult life music has been both my passion and my job. It is the most powerful international language. It can break you and mend you sometimes in the span of a single song. My dad has dementia and anything that throws a light on the disease and helps in any way to reconnect people with their lost memories is something I want to be involved in".

The website contains 1800 clips of music, including popular songs, TV and radio themes, and the most popular classical pieces from 20 composers. Pop music can also be explored by decade, and users are able to save playlists of the music that proves most effective in triggering memories.

View the Music Memories website here.


Approved: Rrucculla
A prolific producer of strange and interesting electronic music, Rrucculla returns with new single 'Icy Blue Coral'. The track is taken from her new album 'Shoosh', which is due out on 30 Oct.

"This song produces a feeling of dizziness, as if I was dragged by the sea current with a break in the waves every eight bars", she tells The Line Of Best Fit of the new track. "There are human voices that feel like ocean waves".

She goes on: "If you listen to this track with headphones at a loud volume or with bass-heavy speakers, your mind will become full icy blue and you'll be in the ocean having fun with nice multi-coloured fish and being tickled by shiny orange seaweed".

Watch the video for 'Icy Blue Coral' here.

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

BBC commissions Take That 30th anniversary special
The BBC has commissioned a new one-off special to mark the 30th anniversary of Take That. That being something the band are currently celebrating hard, even though at best it's not until next year and really 2020 would make more sense for such celebrations. Whatever, the show's going to be broadcast later this year.

Titled 'Take That And Us', the programme is being put together by independent company Indigo Television. It will combine fan-submitted stories, new interviews with the band, as well as old and new behind-the-scenes footage.

"Has it really been 30 years?" ask the band, even though we already established it hasn't really. "There's only one way to find out we said, as we accepted the offer of taking a closer look at our three decades in music. We've handed over our own personal camcorders from the 90s, we've asked fans to share their stories from over the years and we're bringing the story up to date by sharing some behind the scenes from our lives today as we prepare for the launch of our greatest hits record".

So that sounds like fun, doesn't it? But where are they sourcing all of these fan stories from? Well, I'm glad you asked. There's a website where you can upload videos of yourself recalling your best Take That tales, which might then be used in the show. I'm going to send in one about the time my sister won tickets to see them perform at a festival from a local radio station. Except it wasn't a festival, it was more a truck trade fair. And they weren't really performing. They just chatted incoherently for fifteen minutes and then we went home.


Marc Anthony, Jess Glynne, DJ Yoda, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Marc Anthony has released new track 'Está Rico', featuring the Fresh Prince himself Will Smith, and Bad Bunny.

• Jess Glynne has released new single '123'. Her new album, 'Always In Between', is out on 12 Oct.

• DJ Yoda has released new single 'London Fields', featuring Joel Culpepper. "The moment I heard Joel's voice I knew I wanted to work with him", says the producer. "He just has this quality that could be from any era, which was exactly the vibe I wanted for this song".

• Tommy Genesis has released new single 'Daddy'. "'Daddy' is the last single before my album drops", she says. "My album is self-titled 'Tommy Genesis' because it has elements from both the demon and angel side of me. 'Daddy' exists in the demon realm, aka Tommy realm, but it's still very upbeat".

• Childcare have released new single 'Man Down', the first to be taken from their debut album, which is due out in February. "At the risk of being accused of jumping on the mental health bandwagon, this song is a rallying cry to my fellow man", says frontman Ed Cares. "Be vulnerable, be open, be sensitive and don't be afraid to moisturise your knuckles if they get dry".

• Haiku Sault have released a VR video for 'Occupy', the latest single from their new album 'There Is Nowhere Else'.

• Pheeyownah is back after a two year break with new single 'Silver'. "'Silver' was written out of frustration and is about coming to terms with the fact that life doesn't always turn out the way you want it to", she says. "It's also an anthem for everyone who makes the best out of an impossible situation and refuses to back down despite the obstacles".

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


Kanye West spends weekend controversially promoting new album, forgets to release album
Kanye West spent the weekend doing whatever it is Kanye West is trying to do at the moment. And he did it a lot. He didn't release his new album though, which is what all this random nonsense stuff was supposed to be promoting.

Here are some things that happened: He wore a 'Make America Great Again' hat a lot; he announced that he was changing his name to just Ye; he turned up at The Fader's offices and went on and on and on about stuff; he appeared on 'Saturday Night Live'; and he said that America should amend the Thirteenth Amendment in order to end slavery - the Thirteenth Amendment of the US Constitution being the one that abolished slavery.

It was the 'SNL' appearance that drew the most interest. West was apparently drafted in at the last minute as the musical guest for the first episode of the new series, after Ariana Grande was forced to pull out.

He took to the stage with that 'MAGA' hat again, although he did take it off for a performance of 'I Love It', in which he and Lil Pump bounced around the stage dressed as bottles of water.

At the end of the show, as the cast collected on stage for their final bow, West embarked on a pro-Trump rant, which continued after the programme had gone off air. He said that he had been "bullied" about wearing his 'MAGA' hat backstage, and that the liberal media stifles freedom of speech and expression. There were boos from members of the cast and the audience, although some sporadic clapping as well.

The rant drew praise from Donald Trump himself, who tweeted: "Like many, I don't watch 'Saturday Night Live' (even though I past hosted it) - no longer funny, no talent or charm. It is just a political ad for the Dems. Word is that Kanye West, who put on a 'MAGA' hat after the show (despite being told 'no'), was great. He's leading the charge!"

Conversely, West drew criticism from Lana Del Rey, who responded to an Instagram post from the rapper. In that post he showed his hat and wrote: "This represents good and America becoming whole again. We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the Thirteenth Amendment".

In response, Del Rey wrote: "I can only assume you relate to [Trump's] personality on some level. Delusions of grandeur, extreme issues with narcissism - none of which would be a talking point if we weren't speaking about the man leading our country. If you think it's alright to support someone who believes it's OK to grab a woman by the pussy just because he's famous, then you need an intervention as much as he does - something so many narcissists will never get because there just isn't enough help for the issue".

So that was all a thing. But at least we get a new Kanye West album out of all this. Except we haven't yet. Because despite announcing earlier this month that he would release new album, 'Yandhi', on Saturday, and then confirming it again last week, no such record has been released. I guess when you have a really busy weekend, it's easy to forget one or two details. That does seem like quite a big one to forget though.

Unless, of course, West is subverting the album format and his actions over the weekend are the new album. I mean, it sounds nonsensical, but it also sounds like something Kanye West would definitely do.


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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