TODAY'S TOP STORY: YouTube continues to pile on the pressure over article thirteen of the European Copyright Directive as the final phase of negotiations regarding the copyright reforms continues in Brussels. This time the Google firm's top music man, ex-label exec Lyor Cohen, has intervened, telling labels to think about all the fun-time covers and parodies that could be lost if new European copyright laws increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like his... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES YouTube does yet more article thirteen dissing
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify share price dips even as premium subscriber count grows by four million
MEDIA Apple a possible partner or investor for flagging radio firm iHeart
RELEASES David Gray announces new album and tour dates
GIGS & FESTIVALS Underworld announce weekly releases, plus Village Underground residency
The Black Madonna announces London show
ONE LINERS Carly Rae Jepsen, Professor Green & Rag N Bone Man, Vince Staples, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #428: 'Avril Lavigne' v Avril Lavigne
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YouTube does yet more article thirteen dissing
YouTube continues to pile on the pressure over article thirteen of the European Copyright Directive as the final phase of negotiations regarding the copyright reforms continues in Brussels. This time the Google firm's top music man, ex-label exec Lyor Cohen, has intervened, telling labels to think about all the fun-time covers and parodies that could be lost if new European copyright laws increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like his.

Article thirteen, of course, seeks to reform the copyright safe harbour to address the big bad 'value gap' that the music industry has been banging on about so much in recent years. The music community reckons that sites like YouTube have abused a safe harbour intended for internet service providers and server hosting companies in order to launch streaming services without paying going rate royalties. It is hoped that article thirteen will force those sites to negotiate licensing deals more in line with the ones done by Spotify et al.

However, YouTube and its tech sector best buds argue that article thirteen, as currently drafted, will increase their liabilities too much and impact on what kind of content can be shared on their platforms, and what kind of creators can get involved in that sharing.

Despite some proactive and at times controversial lobbying in Brussels and Strasbourg (and, arguably, because of it), the European Parliament nevertheless voted through the music industry's preferred wording of article thirteen in September. The Parliament is now negotiating with the European Commission and the EU Council on the final drafting of the whole directive, including the safe harbour reforms.

Which is why YouTube, having lost the most recent battle in Parliament, is still speaking out about article thirteen whenever an opportunity arises. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently had a good old moan about it all in the middle of a blog post updating her creators on the latest stats and technical developments on the Google video site.

Cohen snuck his article thirteen griping into a blog post about building and engaging a fanbase on YouTube, which took the form of an interview with John Shahidi from the company Shots Studios, which manages and works with various acts who have successfully built a business around their YouTube content. Shots Studios is the firm that recently allied with Universal Music with one of their YouTuber clients, Lele Pons.

Cohen noted how most of the people Shots work with encourage fans to get involved on YouTube by creating and uploading covers, parodies and collaborations. And it's true that activity of that kind is important if you are actually looking to use YouTube to grow your fanbase, rather than just as a repository for your tunes.

But guess what that reminded Cohen of? "This reminded me why it is so important that the industry understands article thirteen", he mused in his blog post, "which is part of the new EU copyright directive currently being finalised. Because all of this great content, this unique way to build deep connections with fans, is at risk of being blocked and removed from open platforms (such as YouTube, Facebook, Reddit)".

Possibly then remembering that one of the reasons he was hired by YouTube was to build bridges with his old mates in the traditional music industry, Cohen quickly added, "Let me be clear: we understand and support the intent of article thirteen. We need effective ways for copyright holders to protect their content".

But there's always a but. "But we believe", he went on, "that the current proposal will create severe unintended consequences for the whole industry. We still have a couple of weeks to work together towards a better final version of the law. The music industry should really pay attention to these unintended consequences - the system that largely contributes to their success is at risk of major change in the European Union".

Cohen then shared various words of wisdom from Shahidi on YouTube-style fan engagement, but remembered to bring the conversation back to article thirteen two more times. "I'd like to wrap up", he ultimately concluded, "and stress again that the success of the music industry and the creative environment that has benefited so many artists are threatened by article thirteen, as written. I encourage everyone making a living in this industry to learn more about it and join us to propose a better version together".

Lovely stuff. I wonder what else YouTube execs could sneak some article thirteen moaning into. A blog post on the most successful YouTubers of all time and how article thirteen would have killed their careers? Ten top tips on how to make compelling videos and why you shouldn't bother because the bloody European Union is going to stop you? A philosophical piece for Thanksgiving, maybe, on how we should all be thankful that we've got this far without tackling the value gap? And then a Christmas message noting how much Jesus loved a safe harbour and would never have endorsed anything numbered thirteen?

We look forward to them all.


Spotify share price dips even as premium subscriber count grows by four million
Spotify's share price - which has been slowly declining for a month now - took another dip early yesterday as the streaming business published its third quarterly report since becoming a publicly listed company.

This was despite the firm reporting perfectly decent premium subscriber growth- it now has 87 million paying users worldwide - and lower than expected operating losses. However, Spotify HQ did also reduce its anticipated year end premium subscriber figure and admitted that losses were mainly down due to delays in hiring new talent and, as a result, less being spent on research and development to further evolve the company's product.

Spotify's overall userbase, when you include everyone on its free tier, is now up to 191 million, though premium subscribers continue to bring in the vast majority of the cash. Total revenues for the last quarter were up both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter to $1.54 billion. Though - of course - it remains a loss-making business overall. Total operating losses for the third quarter were $6.8 million.

Away from the stats and the figures, Spotify's quarterly report also bigged up the direct-upload tool it is developing for DIY artists, so that they can directly pump their music into the system without a distributor, and the company's ongoing dabblings in creating original podcast and spoken word content.

Both of those developments seek to reduce, to an extent, Spotify's dependence on the record labels. And said initiatives were presumably name-checked because of concerns among some investors that that ongoing dependency on the record companies, and especially the three majors, could hinder the digital firm's long-term bid for profitability.

Although, at the same time, other investors fear that the direct-upload tool and Spotify's move to do direct licensing deals with established artists in control of their recordings will damage its relationship with the majors just as the next round of licensing deal negotiations begin. With that in mind, boss man Daniel Ek again insisted yesterday that "we don't view our strategy to be in opposition to any of our partners".


Apple a possible partner or investor for flagging radio firm iHeart
Apple is among the potential investors being courted by flagging American media firm iHeart, according to sources who have spoken to the Financial Times. Because when you're sitting on as much cash as Apple, you need to find something to waste it on from time to time.

iHeart Media filed for chapter eleven bankruptcy protection back in March. The move was a long time coming. The broadcaster has been battling a massive debt load for some time, much of which stemmed from a so called 'leveraged buyout' of the company by its current owners back in 2008.

Various new backers and partners have been approached as iHeart and its creditors sort out a reorganisation plan that is due to be filed with the bankruptcy courts later this month. Apple is reportedly interested in a possible alliance to further promote its music services Stateside.

That alliance might involve a minority investment - even though that's not something Apple usually likes to do - or could take the form of multi-million dollar marketing partnership. Either way, the deal would likely result in Apple's own radio station - the Apple Music promoting Beats One - being syndicated by iHeart, the biggest radio broadcaster in the US, greatly increasing its reach.

Doing so would provide new opportunities to promote Apple Music to a wider audience and also strengthen the marketing value the tech firm can deliver to artists and labels.

iHeart, of course, is also in the streaming music game, mainly with its free-to-access iHeartRadio personalised radio platform, though it also offers on-demand streaming for paying subscribers. Quite how the two firm's respective streaming products would interact under any partnership isn't clear, though sources say talks are still at a preliminary stage, so chances are they aren't that sure either as yet.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Marcus Intalex Music Foundation launch at The White Hotel
A new charity launches in memory of late DJ and producer Marcus Intalex - who died last year - with a night at Manchester's White Hotel this weekend. The Marcus Intalex Music Foundation aims to be a "platform to support and nurture talent in many aspects of music development and the culture that surrounds it".

Raising funds for the organisation ahead of its initial programme of workshops, seminars and events next year, a host of top names will DJ tonight. Martyn tops the bill, with Scuba, Synkro, Blasha & Allatt and Roberto also in attendance.

Should be a great night and an opportunity to pay tribute to a sadly missed force of the Manchester scene.

Friday 2 Nov, The White Hotel, Unit 3, Dickinson Street, Salford, M3 7LW, 12-6am, £12. More info here.

David Gray announces new album and tour dates
David Gray has announced that he will return with his first album for four years - 'Gold In A Brass Age' - along with some super tour dates next year.

"With this album, my default position was to do everything differently", says Gray. "I didn't think 'this would be a good hook' or 'these lyrics could work for a chorus'. I was keen to get away from narrative. Instead of writing melodies, I looked for phrases with a natural cadence, so that the rhythm began with the words. I reimagined where a song might spring from and what form it could take".

The first single is 'The Sapling', which you can listen to here. The album is set for release on 8 Mar. Tour dates will follow soon after. Here's when and where they'll be:

15 Mar: Cardiff, St David's Hall
16 Mar: Cambridge, Corn Exchange
17 Mar: London, Royal Festival Hall
19 Mar: Brighton, Dome
20 Mar: Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
22 Mar: Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
23 Mar: Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall
24 Mar: Gateshead, Gateshead
26 Mar: Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall
27 Mar: Bournemouth, Pavilion Theatre
29 Mar: Birmingham, Symphony Hall
30 Mar: York, Barbican
31 Mar: Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall
2 Apr: Belfast, Waterfront
4 Apr: Castlebar, Royal Theatre
5 Apr: Dublin, Bord Gais Theatre
6 Apr: Dublin, Bord Gais Theatre


Underworld announce weekly releases, plus Village Underground residency
Underworld have announced a new project called 'Drift', which will see them release new material in a variety of forms on a weekly basis. And they get things going with new track 'Another Silent Way'.

They've also announced a three night run at Village Underground in London starting at the end of this month. "In 2017 we reconnected with a personal joy of performing in small venues when Karl and I took our show to the Zepp club in Osaka prior to headlining Ultra festival in Tokyo", says the duo's Rick Smith. "The whole experience was so deeply inspiring we just had to do it again".

The shows will run from 30 Nov to 2 Dec. Tickets will go on general sale next Friday.


The Black Madonna announces London show
The Black Madonna has announced a twelve hour party in London as part of her 'Love Is The Answer' European tour.

Explaining the ethos of that tour, the producer says: "At previous shows we've had various messages printed out on wristbands for people to wear, messages that might spur inspiration or invoke certain feelings within the crowd".

"One of these", she goes on, "was 'Love Is The Message', which is a simply perfect disco track by MFSB and exudes an ethos that I think is so important now. In really troubling times, one of the most vital things that dance music can do is impart a sense of love, family and kinship and I want to focus on bringing that energy wherever we go".

The London event will take place at Walthamstow Assembly Hall on 23 Feb. Tickets go on general sale next Thursday.


Carly Rae Jepsen, Busted, Professor Green & Rag N Bone Man, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Carly Rae Jepsen has released new single 'Party For One'. Here are some words she said: "To me 'Party For One' is an anthem of what it is to celebrate time with yourself, which is a hard thing for people to really enjoy sometimes, and it's something I'm learning to do more and more. This song represents a lot of what this album is about for me which is romantic love but self-love too".

• Busted have released new single, '90s'. Their new album, 'Half Way There', will be out on 8 Feb. “This was the first song we wrote that ended up on the album”, says Charlie Simpson. “And from then on, it was like a domino effect – everything else came pretty easily after that. It’s great that it’s going to be the first thing that fans hear because it’s an important part of the journey".

• Professor Green and Rag N Bone Man have released a new single together called 'Photographs'. "Photographs conjure up so many different emotions", says Green. "The ones I miss the most are the ones I never took. They are for me, in many ways, the memories I don't have - especially the ones from my childhood. I wish I had more".

• Vince Staples has released new album 'FM!'. Just like that.

• Skepta has released the video for his track 'Pure Water'.

• Rudimental have released the video for new single 'Walk Alone'. It features singer-songwriter Tom Walker, so that's nice.

• Ian Brown has released the video for his quite not good new solo single 'First World Problems'.

• Alice In Chains have released the video for new single 'Never Fade'.

• Lacuna Coil are set to publish a book, titled 'Nothing Stands In Our Way', on 28 Nov, to mark their 20th anniversary.

• Suzi Wu has announced that she will release a new EP, titled 'Error 404', in January. Right now, this very second, you can watch the video for new track 'Grim Reaper'.

• They have released new single 'Broken', featuring Jessie Reyez, from their upcoming new EP 'Fireside'.

• Sarah P has released 'Mneme', the first single from her new EP 'Maenads', which will be out on 14 Dec.

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


Beef Of The Week #428: 'Avril Lavigne' v Avril Lavigne
The principle of Occam's razor states that, given two explanations for any situation, the simplest is the most likely to be true.

The more assumptions you have to make for something to work, the less likely it is to have occurred. But Occam was alive in the fourteenth century, before complicated things really existed, so I'm not sure he's in a position to have an opinion.

I mean, just look at the interview on Australian radio station KIIS 1065 this week, where the fake Avril Lavigne claimed not to be fake: "Some people think that I'm not the real me, which is so weird", she said. "Like, why would they even think that?"

Sure Avril, if that is your real name. Which it isn't.

In case you're not aware of the back story here, the claim that Lavigne was replaced by a doppelganger after the release of her 2002 debut album first emerged in 2011, on a Brazilian blog specifically set up to present the conspiracy theory.

In a nutshell, the story goes that, being just a teenager when she first found success, Lavigne struggled with fame to the point that a lookalike, real name Melissa, had to be used for some public appearances. But when the real Lavigne died shortly after beginning work on her second album, Melissa became Lavigne full time, because she was too lucrative a star for her label to simply allow her career to end after one record.

The wealth of evidence is compelling. In photographs taken at different times, there are slight changes in Lavigne's appearance. The sound, style and lyrical content of her second album were not identical to her first. And she has contradicted things she previously said in interviews. Like, she once said that she wasn't just some pop star who performs with dancers, but subsequently she has performed with dancers.

However, the biggest giveaway of all is the hints Melissa herself has dropped into her lyrics. While writing what would be credited as Lavigne's second album, she kept including clues as to what had really happened. On the surface you might think those lyrics simply featured generic references to anxiety, loss and self-doubt. But, in fact, you'd be wrong. Those lyrics were definitely Melissa giving the game away.

Of course, this is not the only time a conspiracy theory has been concocted about a pop star. The claims about Lavigne are actually very similar to the long-running conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash in 1966 and replaced by the winner of a lookalike competition called William Campbell.

There's also that long-running theory that Andrew WK doesn't exist, while everyone from Jim Morrison, to Kurt Cobain, to Elvis, has had theories concocted on their behalf to the effect that they faked their own deaths for one reason or another. Just last month, Suge Knight's son claimed that Tupac Shakur is alive and well and living in Malaysia.

Now, if we believe this Occam guy, Lavigne and McCartney have always been the same person, Andrew WK is real, and all the people who appeared to die really did die. After all, secretly switching a pop star in the spotlight with a lookalike, making up a musician that doesn't really exist, and then faking the deaths of various very famous people is a whole lot more complicated than just not doing any of those things.

Or could it be that - given that there are now so many of these theories - that the most simple explanation is that they are in fact true? After all, going to the effort of making up these pointless conspiracy theories and then endlessly sharing them via the internet is pretty time-consuming too.

Anyway, the Lavigne conspiracy theory has resurfaced because she has recently returned to music following two years of recovery from Lyme disease.

That recovery was the subject of her comeback single, 'Head Above Water', of which she said: "One night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. 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, the songwriting 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".

For a lot of people, seemingly, their first thought on hearing that wasn't "wow, that sounds like a really horrible situation to find yourself in", but rather, "wait, didn't she already die?" And so the conspiracy theory got a whole new lease of life. Some even speculated that 'Head Above Water' contained yet more clues about the whole thing from Melissa.

But if the fake Lavigne was so keen for everyone to know the truth, why would she then be so dismissive of the rumours when asked about them on KIIS 1065? "Some people think that I'm not the real me, which is so weird", she laughed.

It is weird, isn't it? But she didn't actually deny it, did she? She instead went on: "Why would they even think that?" Why indeed? Maybe because of all the evidence already listed above. Maybe because of all the clues she keeps dropping into her songs. Maybe because she keeps saying ambiguous things like "which is so weird" and "why would they even think that?" Which, OK, aren't really that ambiguous, but reading something into those few remarks on Australian radio isn't any less flimsy than all the other things cited by the conspiracy fans.

Though, if you've been waiting for something more watertight, how about this blog post from KIIS 1065 about their recent interview. "What was incredibly strange and creepy was that as soon as [the interviewer] asked this question, the phone line turned really weird", it reports. "Avril went a bit robotic, cut out and times, and even accidentally started pressing random buttons making a beep sound! Is it just a coincidence that things started going haywire with the line as soon as we asked about the Melissa theories? Or was someone doing it... DELIBERATELY!"

I'll leave it up to you.


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
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