TODAY'S TOP STORY: In the latest round of RAJAR listening figures for UK radio, Chris Evans - fresh from announcing his plans to leave BBC Radio 2 - has seen his audience slide by half a million year-on-year. Although, with 8.9 million weekly listeners, the show still remains the UK's most popular breakfast show... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Chris Evans sees his audience dip as Radio 2 tenure comes to an end
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify takes playlist pitching tool out of beta
ARTIST NEWS Justin Timberlake postpones New York show at the last minute
John Williams pulls out of Royal Albert Hall performance
RELEASES The Good, The Bad And The Queen return with Brexit-themed second album
Trevor Horn to release 80s covers album
ONE LINERS White Lies, Liz, Hinds, more
AND FINALLY... Kanye looks to Grammys to certify rock star status
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Chris Evans sees his audience dip as Radio 2 tenure comes to an end
In the latest round of RAJAR listening figures for UK radio, Chris Evans - fresh from announcing his plans to leave BBC Radio 2 - has seen his audience slide by half a million year-on-year. Although, with 8.9 million weekly listeners, the show still remains the UK's most popular breakfast show.

The dip in listeners - down from 9.4 million in the same three month period last year - coincides with an overall drop for Radio 2. Indeed, the station has seen weekly listener numbers drop to their lowest level for six years - falling to 14.6 million, compared to 15.4 million last year. Like Evans, though, it still remains the most popular in the UK.

"I'm proud that BBC Radio 2 remains the most listened to radio station in the UK, with 14.64 million listeners each week", says Head Of Radio 2 Lewis Carnie, pleased to have something to brag about despite the declines.

Most of the period covered by the latest RAJARS - July to September - was over before Evans announced his decision to leave Radio 2 to join Virgin Radio, so the dip can't really be attributed to that. The next two quarters will be closely scrutinised, though, before Evans broadcasts his final show for the BBC station at the end of the year and Zoe Ball takes over the slot in January.

The pressure to maintain that top-of-the-table position will be stronger for Radio 2 and Ball. While Evans is clearly being brought in at Virgin Radio to boost its listener numbers, the station is currently pulling in just above 400,000 (and is also down nearly 150,000 on the same period last year). There will be hopes that he can bring some of those Radio 2 listeners with him, but I don't think anyone is expecting them to shift in their millions.

Over on BBC Radio 1, the breakfast show there pretty much maintained its audience, despite a switch in presenters from Nick Grimshaw to Greg James midway though the quarter. As well as the change in presenter, Radio 1 has also reduced the main breakfast show to Monday to Thursday, extending the weekend schedule into Friday.

Although not challenging either of those stations in terms of overall numbers, various other breakfast shows saw a boost in listeners during the last quarter, including BBC Radio 5 Live, Absolute Radio, and Radio X.


Spotify takes playlist pitching tool out of beta
Spotify yesterday announced that its playlist pitching tool for DIY artists is now out of beta. The streaming firm first added the tool to its Spotify For Artists website back in July.

A post on the Spotify For Artists website declared: "A few months ago, we unveiled a beta feature ... that gives artists, labels, and teams the ability to share new music directly with our editorial team for playlist consideration. Since the feature became available in July more than 67,000 artists and labels have submitted music and now we're excited to announce our playlist submission feature is officially out of beta".

The tool aims to level the playing field a little for grassroots artists who don't have labels or distributors with personal contacts among the teams that curate the Spotify-owned playlists. Those playlists, of course, drive lots of listening and discovery on the Spotify platform.

With thousands of artists and labels pushing new music through the pitching tool, you'd be forgiven for wondering just how many DIY artists could genuinely benefit. However, "since the beta began", the streaming company insists, "over 10,000 artists have been added to Spotify editorial playlists for the first time connecting their music with thousands of new fans". And isn't that swell?

And even for those artists not selected for some playlist love, there's a consolation prize. "While we can't guarantee [a playlist spot] for every artist every time", the blog post explains, "what's especially great about this new tool is, whether your new song is featured in an editorial playlist or not, it'll always show up in all of your followers' Release Radar playlists".

Oh, and there's more! "Plus the additional metadata you provide when you upload it will help us recommend it to potential new fans for years to come".

Super swell. Of course, away from all the swellness, tools like this and the still-in-beta widget for directly uploading music into Spotify's system all contribute to the narrative of the streaming giant reducing the importance of labels and distributors in the digital supply chain.

That is a narrative you may or may not choose to buy into. We're about to launch a tool where you'll be able to pitch arguments for and against the theory.


Approved: Kills Birds
Nina Ljeti and Jacob Loeb began writing songs together because they wanted to vent to each other, rather than anyone else. Actually letting people hear their music was an idea that came later. That feeling of just getting something out comes across powerfully in their debut single 'Worthy Girl'.

"Kills Birds started because Jacob and I wanted an outlet from all the frustrations we were feeling as artists in Los Angeles", says Ljeti. "It was just something we did together organically - we'd meet up at each other's apartments and write these funny songs that felt like little secrets. Getting Bosh [Rothman, drums] and Fielder [Thomas, bass] on board came out of a desire to just hear our music out loud. Everything else came after that".

The band now have an album recorded, put to tape by producer Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Angel Olsen, Kim Gordon) in the space of eight hours. He explains: "The moment I heard their music I was like a magnet to the stage's front. I looked up at Nina mesmerised by her absence. She wasn't with me. She had gone somewhere else outside of herself. I rarely see that anymore - artist's truly losing themselves. It was refreshing ... I knew then I wanted to work with this band".

"I spoke with Nina after the show and we exchanged phone numbers", he goes on. "It felt like I just traded numbers with Kurt Cobain or something. After some thought, I proposed to the band recording a whole LP live in my studio behind my house (one room, no isolation) and added it was the only way I was interested in doing it. A few months later this took place. Drums, bass, guitar and vocals bleeding into each other in one room all together was the only way I felt I could try to recapture what I experienced while seeing them live. For me, it was the only way".

Listen to 'Worthy Girl' here.

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

Justin Timberlake postpones New York show at the last minute
Justin Timberlake cancelled a performance at New York's Madison Square Garden yesterday, just hours before show time. He told fans that he'd been advised not to sing after damaging his vocal chords.

In a post on Instagram, he wrote: "I'm sorry to announce I have to postpone the show at MSG tonight on doctor's orders. My vocal chords are severely bruised. I'm gonna make this up to you and the new show will be on my birthday, 31 Jan ... Again, I'm so sorry to do this, but excited to see you soon".

Timberlake performed at the venue on Monday, with a show that had been postponed from March, when it was pulled due to poor weather conditions. Madison Square Garden has said that tickets for last night's show will be valid at the new January date.


John Williams pulls out of Royal Albert Hall performance
John Williams has pulled out of a concert celebrating his career as a soundtrack composer at the Royal Albert Hall this Friday. The venue cited a "last minute illness" and said that Dirk Brossé would conduct the London Symphony Orchestra for the show instead.

In a statement, Williams' management said: "John is so sorry that an illness prevents him from conducting Friday's concert, and he's grateful to his friend Maestro Dirk Brossé for taking the podium in his place. He so wishes he could be with everyone, and the knowledge that 5000 of his friends will be joining together to celebrate his music is a great comfort to him as he recovers. He wishes everyone a very joyous evening of music".

Williams had also been scheduled to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at two shows in Austria early next month. Those performances have been cancelled entirely.


The Good, The Bad And The Queen return with Brexit-themed second album
The Good, The Bad And The Queen - aka Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon, Tony Allen and Simon Tong - have announced that they will release new album, 'Merrie Land', on 16 Nov.

Coming eleven years after their debut LP, 'Merrie Land' is produced by Tony Visconti and features ten song that muse on Britishness in response to the UK's plans to depart the European Union.

You can listen to the title track here.

The band will also be heading out on a tour of the UK (well, mainly one venue in London) in December. Tickets go on sale tomorrow. Here are the dates:

1 Nov: Blackpool, The North Pier
2 Dec: Glasgow, SWG3
4 Dec: London, Hackney Arts Centre
5 Dec: London, Hackney Arts Centre
6 Dec: London, Hackney Arts Centre


Trevor Horn to release 80s covers album
Trevor Horn has announced that he will release a new album next year, titled 'Trevor Horn Reimagines The 80s'. As you may have already guessed, it features covers of various songs from the 80s. Guest vocalists involved include Robbie Williams, Gabrielle Aplin, Seal and more.

"The best thing about making this album was all the fun and laughter that came from hanging out with musicians and artists that I haven't seen for years", says Horn.

As well as those various other artists, Horn himself provides vocals on a version of A-ha's 'Take On Me'. But Robbie Williams is the big draw here, so here's his version of Tears For Fears' 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World'.

The album is out on 1 Feb. Here's the full tracklist:

Everybody Wants To Rule The World (feat Robbie Williams)
Dancing In The Dark (feat Gabrielle Aplin)
Ashes To Ashes (feat Seal)
Girls On Film (feat Girls Aloud)
The Power Of Love (feat Matt Cardle)
Brothers In Arms (feat Jim Kerr)
Different For Girls (feat Steve Hogarth)
Slave To The Rhythm (feat Rumer)
What's Love Got To Do With It (feat Tony Hadley)
Owner Of A Lonely Heart
Take On Me
Blue Monday (feat Jimmy Wood)


White Lies, Liz, Hinds, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• White Lies have released new single 'Believe It'. Their new album, 'Five', is due out on 1 Feb.

• Liz has released the video for her recent-ish single 'Pandemonium'.

• Hinds have released the video for 'British Minds', from their latest album, 'I Don't Run'.

• TSVI has released the video for new single 'Whirl'. His new album, 'Inner Worlds', is out on 9 Nov.

• David Allred has released another new track from his upcoming debut album, 'The Transition'. Here's Peter Broderick collaboration 'The Mirror Of Time'.

• Eric Clapton has announced that he will play three nights at the Royal Albert Hall in May. Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning.

• Juanita Stein have announced UK tour dates for November, including a show at London's Courtyard Theatre on 23 Nov.

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


Kanye looks to Grammys to certify rock star status
Kanye West has, on more than one occasion, proclaimed himself to be the world's greatest rock star. Now he's going for confirmation. He has reportedly submitted a track in two rock categories for next year's Grammys.

'Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)' is taken from West's album with Kid Cudi, 'Kids See Ghosts'. According to TMZ, it has been submitted for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. It's apparently made it through the initial submissions process, and now just needs to gain enough support to make it onto the shortlists, which will be published in December.

West wouldn't be the first non-traditional rock performer to receive a nomination in the rock categories. In 2017, Beyonce was nominated for Best Rock Performance for her song 'Don't Hurt Yourself'. That featured a bit of singing from Jack White, which probably helped. This year Leonard Cohen won that prize posthumously for 'You Want It Darker', whose status in rock was debated by many.

There are some things going for 'Freeee' too. It is quite rocky in sound and structure. And maybe this is the innovation some feel rock needs to embrace in order to survive. Also, if West was nominated, people would get really angry and upset. It's funny when people get angry about awards, like they hold any significance whatsoever. And for that reason, I hope West wins everything.

Except I don't think he's entered every category, sadly. He has reportedly put himself up for Producer Of The Year though.


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