TODAY'S TOP STORY: The independent music community continues to put pressure on competition regulators in Europe over Sony's plan to take full control of EMI Music Publishing. Earlier today indie label trade group IMPALA published a survey of the European music charts to illustrate just how dominant the wider Sony group would be following the proposed deals... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES IMPALA highlights Sony and EMI Music Publishing dominance in European charts
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING MMF launches new funding and support programme for early-career managers
EDUCATION & EVENTS John Robb to interview 808State's Graham Massey at Artist:Entrepreneur Day in Manchester this weekend
GIGS & FESTIVALS Blossoms announce homecoming stadium show
Friendly Fires announce UK live shows
Ed Harcourt announces instrumental tour
ONE LINERS SACEM, Virgin Fest, NEC Group, more
AND FINALLY... Wilco selling axe (an actual axe, not slang for guitar)
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CRC Records is looking for a Digital Marketing Assistant to join our ever-growing team, working across our record label, management and publishing arms.

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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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IMPALA highlights Sony and EMI Music Publishing dominance in European charts
The independent music community continues to put pressure on competition regulators in Europe over Sony's plan to take full control of EMI Music Publishing. Earlier today indie label trade group IMPALA published a survey of the European music charts to illustrate just how dominant the wider Sony group would be following the proposed deals.

Sony, of course, led a consortium of investors to buy the EMI songs business back in 2012. It then appointed its own publisher, Sony/ATV, to administrate the EMI rights. Six years on it is now looking to buy those other investors out, allowing the Sony/ATV and EMI music publishing companies to properly merge. Those deals are now subject to regulator approval.

IMPALA commissioned a survey to find out how much chart dominance the proposed deals will give Sony because that is one of the factors considered by competition regulators in the European Union.

The survey looked at the official singles chart in the first week of each month in 2017 in seven European countries. It then looked at what percentage of the tracks in each chart were wholly or partly controlled by a Sony music company or EMI Music Publishing.

This might mean that a Sony label released a track, or that its label services division The Orchard distributed a track, or - in the case of Anglo-American repertoire - that either Sony/ATV or EMI has a stake in the accompanying song copyright.

Only Anglo-American repertoire was counted on the songs side because those are the works that Sony licenses to the streaming platforms through direct deals. In other European countries the collecting societies rather than the publishers handle all the digital licensing. That means that while Sony may be a beneficiary of those rights, it doesn't control them.

According to the IMPALA figures, on average Sony had at least some control over more than 68% of tracks in the charts in all seven surveyed countries. Spain was the highest overall on average, at 82%. The average figures - plus the lowest and highest chart control figures - in each country were as follows:

• Spain: average 82%, range 78% to 89%
• Italy: average of 77%, range 69% to 89%
• UK: average 73%, range 62% to 87%
• France: average 73%, range 64% to 81%
• Netherlands: average 72%, range 59% to 87%
• Ireland: average 70%, range 59% to 86%
• Sweden: average 68%, range 60% to 81%

IMPALA believes that these stats support its argument that the European Commission should block the EMI deals.

It's boss Helen Smith, said this morning: "These figures ... reveal what we have been highlighting all along, that Sony would have a near monopoly grip over the charts. That would give it unprecedented market power over playlists, radio and other routes to market. This confirms the real risk of the transaction and the need for the EC to block it outright".

Smith then noted how EC regulators have considered chart dominance when reviewing past music industry mergers. She remarked: "Bearing in mind that the EC has intervened previously where these shares exceeded 50%, to then reduce them to below 45% after divestments, this research underlines the huge risks associated with this transaction".

"Not one of the territories examined so far is within the EC's own parameters for avoiding harm to consumers", she concluded. "These figures drive home the negative impact this takeover would have on cultural diversity and the need to stop this transaction outright".

The EC has until 26 Oct to make a decision about Sony's EMI deals, though may decide to open up a more in depth six month investigation.

IMPALA is joined by songwriter groups like BASCA in the UK and the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance in opposing the deals.

Indeed, the songwriter community - recently rallied by the campaign for safe harbour reform - have been particularly vocal on this transaction. So much so, IMPALA notes that regulators have, for the first time with an investigation of this kind, directly sought the input of the creator community in addition to the customary consultation of Sony's customer and competitors.

We now await to see what those regulators say on 26 Oct.


MMF launches new funding and support programme for early-career managers
The Music Managers Forum has launched a new funding and professional development initiative aimed at early-career artist, songwriter and producer managers. The new Accelerator Programme seeks to support people who are currently managing artists alongside a full or part-time job and who are looking to make the tricky step into full-time music management.

Making that leap is challenging for most new managers. As the businesses of the artists they work with start to gain real momentum, those artist businesses need the full focus of the manager to get them to next level, but are often not yet generating sufficient revenues to provide said manager with a full-time wage. Meanwhile, as opportunities build for the artist, the manager needs access to knowledge and advice, but can find themselves too busy to seek it out.

MMF hopes that the new Accelerator Programme will help managers at this stage in their careers meet this challenge. Set up in partnership with YouTube Music - and supported by an assortment of music companies, development organisations and established managers - the initiative will offer twelve-month grants of up to £15,000 as well as training, advice and mentorship. That includes access to the 'Mechanics Of Music Management' seminars programme that MMF recently launched with CMU Insights.

MMF General Manager Fiona McGugan says: "The role of music management has undoubtedly been elevated across the past decade. It's a challenging profession, and a good manager needs to be across all aspects of their client's business - be they an artist, a songwriter or a producer. However, many managers also face financial uncertainty, particularly in the early stages of their career, and we fear that without proper support the music industry will lose vital talent from across the country".

At launch the programme will be available to early-career artists in England and Scotland, the latter enabled by support from the Scottish Music Industry Association. McGugan continues: "By partnering with YouTube Music, the Accelerator Programme offers a way of addressing this dilemma. The programme is for managers who are already building a track record, and our aim is to encourage applications from across England and Scotland, from all genres and backgrounds, and to leave a lasting legacy that serves a whole generation of artists".

Confirming their support for the initiative, YouTube Music's Azi Eftekhari said: "We believe passionately in the importance of managers in developing the next wave of UK talent. YouTube Music is proud to partner with the Music Managers Forum on the Accelerator Programme which we hope is a game-changer in providing emerging managers the opportunity to hone their skills and focus on their business".

Meanwhile MMF Chair and Biffy Clyro manager Paul Craig adds: "This is a transformative initiative and one that the MMF and YouTube Music should be very proud of. When I started in management, the opportunity to apply to a fund to help me focus on being a full-time manager was only something that I could dream about. The inclusion of the business support, training and mentorship makes it even more remarkable".


John Robb to interview 808State's Graham Massey at Artist:Entrepreneur Day in Manchester this weekend
Artist and producer Graham Massey will be talking through his career in music at the conclusion of the latest edition of the Artist:Entrepreneur Day from the Featured Artists Coalition and CMU:DIY, which takes place this Sunday in Manchester.

Once again, A:E Day will see three artist entrepreneurs - this time Roxanne De Bastion, Lisbee Stainton and Jack Gourlay - open up their respective artist businesses to offer practical tips and advice on making a living from music.

The three host artists are joined by CMU:DIY's Chris Cooke, who presents five A:E Guides, plus a team of industry experts, including representatives from PRS For Music, PPL, Sentric Music, Sparklestreet, Do The Rights Thing, Scruff Of The Neck and Shoosmiths LLP.

Then, at the conclusion of the day, Graham Massey will be in conversation with FAC Artist Advocate John Robb. He will discuss his career in music, from the early days signed to Factory Records, through the rise of 808State, and remixing and producing for the likes of David Bowie, Bjork, Goldfrapp and Primal Scream, to his current music-making projects. With both Massey and Robb being key players in the Manchester music community, they'll also discuss the state of the local scene, and how new artists in the region can better support each other.

Taking place as part of the English Folk Expo, though open to early career artist and future industry talent from all genres, the A:E Day takes place at Home on Tony Wilson Place from 10am to 5pm. Tickets are just £10 and are available here. FAC also has a small number of free guest list spots for young artists and music students - to apply for one of those email with A:E DAY MANCHESTER in the subject line.

For more information about A:E Day and the topics that will be covered click here.


Approved: Sofie Winterson
Sofie Winterson is set to follow-up her 2014 debut album, 'Wires', with new record 'Sophia Electric' on 2 Nov. With a more pared down, lo-fi pop sound than her previous offering, the new album focuses hard on the songwriting and expressing Winterson's inner thoughts.

"'Sophia Electric' has become a very diverse album", she says of the record, which was two years in the making. "Some tracks are arranged with only guitar and some keys, others conceived carefully with layers of drums, synths and guitars. It's lighter, more economical and more dynamic than all of my previous releases. Even though the themes are sometimes big or serious in nature, there is a playful and naive yearning simmering beneath".

Following on from the album's first single, 'Military Man', comes 'Half Asleep', of which she says: "It is about holding back out of fear. When you listen to the lyrics, you'll know what I mean by this. The video is directed and shot by photographer Laura Kampman. We were roommates in LA and she shot this video in and around our house. We became good friends and it was special to shoot this video together, since it's a personal song and it felt natural to let her literally come as close as she does in the video".

Watch that video right here.

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

Blossoms announce homecoming stadium show
Blossoms have announced that they will play a big homecoming show at Stockport County's Edgeley Park Stadium on 22 Jun next year. Joining them for the shindig will be The Coral, Cabbage, The Blinders and Fuzzy Sun.

Noting past (much larger) stadium shows supporting the likes of Stone Roses and Courteeners, the band say: "Having already played Wembley, the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford, we're now particularly pleased to be headlining at the football ground closest to our hearts - and our houses - Stockport County Edgeley Park".

The band are also set to tour the UK in December. Tickets for the Stockport show go on sale on Friday.


Friendly Fires announce UK live shows
Friendly Fires have announced UK tour dates for next month, alongside new single 'Heaven Let Me In', which was co-produced by Disclosure.

The run of shows, which will include an all-nighter at London's Oval Space, will feature guests including Ross From Friends, Space Dimension Controller, Justin Robertson, Paranoid London, Vonica, and Alex Metric & Ten Yen.

"We wanted to make these shows more 'party' than 'gig' as an experience", says the band's Jack Savidge. "We've done that in the past with our Coronet and Brixton late night shows back in the day. Intimate venues, DJs before and after we play, the band fitting into the narrative of the night rather than being the key spectacle".

He goes on: "It speaks to the roots of our live show and is a pure expression of how we see this project of ours. We've always aimed our live shows squarely at the dance floor and steeped ourselves in the music and culture of clubs, and these nights will be a full celebration of that".

Here are the relevant details:

28 Nov: Newcastle, Riverside (with Justin Robertson and Vonica)
29 Nov: London, Oval Space (with Space Dimension Controller and Vonica)
30 Nov: London, Oval Space (with Ross From Friends DJ set, Space Dimension Controller, Alex Metric & Ten Yen)
1 Dec: Bristol, Anson Rooms (with Paranoid London DJ set, secret special guests, Alex Metric & Ten Yen)

Tickets go on general sale on 19 Oct.


Ed Harcourt announces instrumental tour
Ed Harcourt has announced a short run of tour dates in support of upcoming piano instrumental album 'Beyond The End'. The shows will see him perform the album in its entirety.

"The world that we live in, we're exhausted by the internet, social media, the sheer barrage of news and vomit being rained down us on a daily basis", he says of the inspiration for the new album. "You can't avoid it and it's tiring. So this record came from taking a step back - it's something that's trying to be beautiful. My hope is that people might choose to swim amongst this music when it all gets too much".

"I needed a break from singing and lyrics so I began writing instrumental music", he adds, explaining why this record has no vocals. "So, from around February, I'd get up on the cold mornings, have a coffee after the kids had gone to school, then shut the door [and] just play with the snow coming down outside the window. When I found something I thought worked, I'd play it over and over again".

The album is out on 23 Nov, and tour dates will begin a week later. Tickets are on sale now. Here are the dates:

30 Nov: Manchester, The Stoller Hall
1 Dec: Dublin, Unitarian Church
2 Dec: Liverpool, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
3 Dec: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
4 Dec: London, Tabernacle


SACEM, Virgin Fest, NEC Group, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• French collecting society SACEM has announced another deal to represent the Anglo-American repertoire of an independent music publisher in the digital licensing domain. Music Sales joins Wixen, PEN Music Group and the all-new IMPEL grouping of indie publishers in working with SACEM on digital licensing.

• The Orchard has named Tim Pithouse its Global Head Of Artist & Label Services. He will officially start work in the role on 1 Nov. "I look forward to working with the many skilled executives at The Orchard around the world to build a fantastic new artist-focused division that further expands the company's global service offerings", he says in a rather long sentence only made longer by this needless addendum pointing that out.

• Richard Branson has announced a new US festival, called Virgin Fest. "The heart of the Virgin brand has always been music and entertainment", says Branson. "Now I'm THRILLED to share that we are launching Virgin Fest, an innovative music and technology experience that will be unlike any other festival series".

• US private equity firm Blackstone Group has acquired UK venue business NEC Group for a reported £800 million. It purchases the company from Lloyds Banking Group, which bought it from Birmingham City Council for £307 million in 2015. "Blackstone's track record in scaling companies, sector knowledge and unrivalled real estate capabilities make them the ideal new partner for NEC Group to realise the next phase of our ambitious growth strategy", says NEC CEO Paul Thandi.

• Eventim UK has appointed Daniel Brown as its new CEO. He joins from AEG. "I'm thankful", says Brown. At the same time, Dale Ballentine has been promoted to COO.

• Thom Yorke has contributed a track to Greenpeace's 'Protect The Antarctic' campaign. 'Hands Off The Antarctic' follow's Eku Fantasy's 'January Is the Cruelest Month'.

• Arctic Monkeys have released 'Warp Speed Chic', a short film about the making of latest album 'Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino'. They've also confirmed that the album's title track will be released as a single on 30 Nov, featuring a new song on the B-side called 'Anyways'.

• Portugal. The Man have released the video for new single 'Tidal Wave'.

• That band you like for some reason, The 1975, have released the video for recent single 'Love It If We Made It'.

• Public Service Broadcasting have released the video for 'White Star Liner', from their recent EP of the same name.

• Boy Azooga have released the video for 'Do The Standing Still', from their debut album, '1,2, Kung Fu!'

• Lafawndah will present her 'Honey Colony' mixtape live at London's Southbank Centre on 6 Dec. On hand to help will be Mica Levi, Tirzah, Bonnie Banane and more. Here's some more info.

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


Wilco selling axe (an actual axe, not slang for guitar)
In the ongoing competition to have the daftest bit of band merch, Wilco have entered the ring with an axe. Not only will it scare off any challengers, but it is also a Wilco-branded axe, made in collaboration with Outdoors-y company Best Made.

As well as that, the company is also selling a Wilco boxset. It will include all ten of the band's albums on vinyl, signed by main man Jeff Tweedy, as well as a flag and a bandana. They'll come housed in a handmade box, which I guess looks sort of nice. The wood it is made from may or may not have come from a tree chopped down with a Wilco-branded axe.

But how much would you pay for a nifty little wooden box set like this, packed full of Wilco albums? Well, you're going to have to come up with a lot more than that, because the price the box is retailing for is $1198. Recognising the limited appeal of such a package at that price point, they're only making ten of them.

You have a better chance of getting hold of one of those axes. There are fifteen of those and they only cost a mere $448. And the axe also has the added bonus of actually being useful. Like, you could use it to destroy all of your credit cards to stop you buying stupid things like this. We all know it's not the first time.

Don't go thinking there's no connection between Wilco and axes, by the way. The axe is inspired by the cover of the band's 2004 album 'A Ghost Is Born'. You know, the one with an egg on a white background. Makes you think of axes, huh? The handle of the axe has some white dots on it, which I think might be the link.

If that doesn't work for you, how about this? That 2004 album cover was designed by Best Made founder Peter Buchanan-Smith. Yeah. He even jointly won the Grammy for Best Recording Package for his work on it in 2005. So, you see, this axe isn't just another way to make a quick buck off a few of Wilco's wealthier fans. Oh, hang on, it is, isn't it?

By the way, if you want a CMU-branded axe, just give me £150 and enough time to get out B&Q and then find my Tippex.


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 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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