TODAY'S TOP STORY: In among all the subtle and less subtle article thirteen griping that YouTube has been engaging in of late, the Google company's boss Susan Wojcicki wrote an op-ed piece dissing the European copyright reforms in the Financial Times. Now indie label trade group IMPALA has responded via the letters page of the same newspaper... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES IMPALA responds to YouTube's latest article thirteen griping
LIVE BUSINESS Viagogo hits back at Kili boss's awards speech
BRANDS & MERCH Beyonce's Ivy Park buys out Philip Green's Arcadia Group
MEDIA Tiffany Calver to replace Charlie Sloth on Radio 1 Rap Show
Bauer to launch Greatest Hits Radio
RELEASES Myrkur announces new single ahead of UK shows
ONE LINERS One Liners: Elton John, Zayn Malik, Nas, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #430: Threatin v Europe
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IMPALA responds to YouTube's latest article thirteen griping
In among all the subtle and less subtle article thirteen griping that YouTube has been engaging in of late, the Google company's boss Susan Wojcicki wrote an op-ed piece dissing the European copyright reforms in the Financial Times. Now indie label trade group IMPALA has responded via the letters page of the same newspaper.

Article thirteen, of course, seeks to reform the copyright safe harbour, which says that internet companies cannot be held liable when their users use their servers or networks to distribute content without licence.

The music industry argues that companies like YouTube have exploited the safe harbour to force record companies, music publishers and collecting societies into deals that pay much lower royalties. Article thirteen of the European Copyright Directive would increase the liabilities of user-upload sites like YouTube which, music rights owners hope, would force the Google video site to enter into deals more in line with those of Spotify and Apple Music.

Noting how Wojcicki and her colleagues keep claiming to speak for grassroots creators in their more recent Copyright Directive campaigning efforts, IMPALA boss Helen Smith points out that there are plenty of them among her membership.

"We hear from Susan Wojcicki ... that [grassroots creators] should be scared of the proposed EU copyright directive. Far from threatening our ecosystem, however, the directive will make things clearer, fairer and sustainable for all".

Smith then summarises the music industry's key arguments on the whole safe harbour reform debate. Article thirteen, she says, "clarifies that responsibility cannot lie only with the user and the owner of the content, but also with the platforms which give access to the works. That's the clearer part".

It also tackles that 'value gap' the music community likes to talk about, she adds, because with increased liabilities user-upload sites like YouTube "will have to play by the same rules" as the other streaming services they compete with. "No more 'take it or leave it' deals", Smith writes, "same rules for everyone. That's for the fairer part".

YouTube's other favoured line at the moment is that article thirteen will force it to only deal with big content companies, hence negatively impacting on independent and grassroots creators. Not so reckons Smith. "The directive levels the playing field in a way that means we can all negotiate in a normal licensing environment. That's how you make the ecosystem sustainable for all. This is about the artists you haven't heard of yet".

The IMPALA chief then insists that the final versions of article thirteen currently being considered include "a number of safeguards" for platforms like YouTube.

And finally, responding to YouTube's other recent tactic of talking up all the dosh the Google company has handed over to the music industry, both this year and in total, Smith says: "YouTube's recent figures are designed to dazzle, but our members' own revenue results show that for every euro from YouTube, Spotify pays ten euros".

Concluding, the IMPALA letter declares: "This directive has been years in the making - decision makers know what the answers are. We can now move fast and we don't even need to break things. Let's not get distracted. Let's make the online world clearer, fairer and sustainable for all".

We await YouTube's counter arguments to the counter arguments. Maybe snuck into cat video soundtracked by some grassroots music maker.


Viagogo hits back at Kili boss's awards speech
Viagogo has confirmed that its war of words with Kilimanjaro Live boss Stuart Galbraith is still very much ongoing in its response to his acceptance speech at this week's Artist & Manager Awards in London.

The AMAs presented an award to Kili and fellow promoter DHP Family on Wednesday night in recognition of their combined efforts to tackle the touts on the most recent Ed Sheeran UK tour.

Accepting the award, Galbraith said that those efforts had saved fans £800,000 and cost Viagogo nearly £2 million. He also reported that most touts hadn't bothered trying to acquire tickets for Sheeran's next round of shows because they knew Kili would likely cancel them, forcing Viagogo and the tout to refund the buyer.

He then took direct aim at Viagogo, which he dubbed the last "bad actor" in the UK ticketing market. Noting that Viagogo had said it would sue Kili over its anti-touting strategy, he ironically thanked the rogue secondary ticketing company saying: "Thank you for threatening to sue us. Thank you for not following it through".

However, in a response to the speech yesterday, Viagogo said that it intended to go through with its legal action. A spokesperson told CMU: "Ed's promoter, Stuart Galbraith of Kilimanjaro, made grandiose claims that he could cancel any tickets listed on Viagogo but he openly admitted in a BBC interview that he cannot. In fact he is now being sued for these and other fraudulent claims he made during the last Ed Sheeran tour".

Reacting to Galbraith's optimism that fans were learning that tickets bought on Viagogo may not actually get them into a show, the resale site delivered its customary statement, insisting that: "The tickets sold on Viagogo's platform are genuine tickets that have been sold on by the original ticket purchaser in good faith".

It went on: "Event organisers sometimes make claims that they will deny entry to people who have purchased resold tickets. These types of entry restrictions are highly unfair and in our view, unenforceable and illegal. Therefore, as with all tickets on our platform, Viagogo customers should feel confident that they will gain entry to the event, and that is why we back every ticket with the Viagogo guarantee".

Of course the UK Consumer Rights Act explicitly states that promoters can cancel touted tickets providing the accompanying terms and conditions allow such a thing. But who can be bothered reading that?

And so the war of words continues.


Beyonce's Ivy Park buys out Philip Green's Arcadia Group
Beyonce has bought Philip Green out of her Ivy Park sportswear brand, following high profile allegations of sexual harassment being made against the British retail chief. Although her company said that negotiations had been underway for "almost a year".

The pop star launched Ivy Park in 2016 via a joint venture between her Parkwood company and Green's Arcadia Group. The brand was then pushed out through Arcadia's Topshop retail stores and website.

In a statement yesterday, Ivy Park said: "After discussions of almost a year, Parkwood has acquired 100% of the Ivy Park brand. Topshop/Arcadia will fulfil the existing orders".

Although the company says that this deal has been in the works for some time, there has been pressure for Beyonce to cut her ties with Green following the accusations made against him recently.

Politician Peter Hain recently used his parliamentary privilege to name Green as the man behind a court injunction preventing the publication of details of alleged sexual harassment and racial abuse of staff. Green has denied the allegations saying that while there had "from time to time been some banter ... there was never any intent to be offensive".

Neither Beyonce nor Ivy Park have commented directly on the reasons for the decision to cut ties with Green.


Tiffany Calver to replace Charlie Sloth on Radio 1 Rap Show
Tiffany Calver has been announced as the new host of 'The Rap Show' on Radio 1 and 1Xtra.

"I'm honoured to be taking over the slot that has pretty much soundtracked my life", she says. "I look forward to carrying on the legacy of such a prestigious and highly respected show while also having the opportunity to add my own flavour - and sound effects - to it. This is a new beginning in so many ways; dreams really can come true".

Calver will take over the show, previously presented by Charlie Sloth, in January. Sloth, of course, announced his intention to leave the BBC earlier this year, then cut his notice period short following a sweary rant after he failed to win the Best Specialist Show prize at the ARIAs last month.

Another female voice with more airtime on 1Xtra will be Snoochie Shy, who is set to take over the late night slot in April.

"I'm super super gassed to be given this show", she says. "This is honestly the dream show for me! I can't wait to get started and make it my own. The sickest music that I'm feeling and a lot of crazy features. It's gonna be a show like no other; a mad chat/entertainment show meeting a rave in your radio".

On the new appointments, Radio 1 and 1Xtra Controller Ben Cooper adds: "Fantastic to welcome Tiffany - a new presenter, for a new generation of hip hop fans. Tiffany and Snoochie continue our mission to give new young talent the opportunity to grow into the stars of tomorrow".

Shoochie Shy, who has appeared on 1Xtra in its residency slot, was previously announced as getting her own specialist show on Monday nights from 1am-3am from January.


Bauer to launch Greatest Hits Radio
Having launched new pop radio station Hits Radio earlier this year, Bauer Media is now going one step further, launching Greatest Hits Radio in 2019.

While Hits Radio plays current pop hits for a slightly older audience, Greatest Hits Radio is aimed at listeners aged 40-59 who are "loving life more than ever before", but don't want any of that modern rubbish. They'll instead get the biggest tracks from the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Group Managing Director of the Hits Radio Network, Graham Bryce, comments: "This audience are ageless in attitude and seeking a station which connects to them and plays a real variety of upbeat classic hits. We know this network is capable of being one of the biggest in the UK, this presents another fantastic opportunity for the music industry and we are excited to roll it out nationally".

Due to launch on 7 Jan, Greatest Hits Radio will be available nationally on DAB, as well as on FM in the West Midlands and Liverpool. You'll be able to stream it online too, obviously.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Hip Hop Soul at Junction House
Junction House hosts a night of music that you might not find commonly played in London clubs - focused on a niche I don't often tend to tip.

This event promises a night full of hip hop soul, future sounds, electric soul, alternative, soulful hip hop and a splash of R&B too, all courtesy of DJs Awan, Moto and Paolo Large.

It will join the dots - old and new - from the more mainstream to the leftfield of these genres.

Running till 3am it should be a good night in this capacious Dalston bar/club.

Saturday 17 Nov, Junction House, 578 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AH, 10pm-3am, £20. More info here.

Myrkur announces new single ahead of UK shows
Ahead of tour dates next month, Myrkur has announced the release of a new single, 'Juniper'.

Recorded with UK-based producer Jaime Gomez Arellano, the song strays into ballad territory, staying on the less heavy side of her folk and black metal hybrid sound. The b-side 'Bonden Og Kragen', meanwhile, is a version of a traditional Danish folk song from the 1600s.

'Juniper' is available on digital services now, with a vinyl release to follow on 7 Dec. Watch the video here.

Here are the upcoming UK tour dates:

18 Dec: London, The Dome
19 Dec: Bristol, The Fleece
20 Dec: Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
21 Dec: Glasgow, The Great Eastern
22 Dec: Manchester, Gorilla


Elton John, Zayn Malik, Nas, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• The Elton John-starring John fucking Lewis fucking Christmas fucking advert is out. Don't watch it. Don't buy anything from John Lewis. Why can't the UK leave this stupid institution behind instead of the EU?

• Zayn Malik and Nicki Minaj have released a new collaboration, 'No Candle, No Light'.

• Nas has released a new short film, 'Nasir', featuring tracks from his album of the same name, which was released earlier this year.

• Gucci Mane has released new single 'I'm Not Goin', featuring Kevin Gates. The rapper's new album, 'Evil Genius', is out on 12 Dec.

• Ghetts has released the video for 'Preach', from his latest album, 'Ghetto Gospel: The New Testament'.

• Chloe Howl has released new single, '23'. "[It] was written after New Year's Eve last year", she explains. "My childhood friend and I spent the whole night talking about how adult life isn't always what we fantasised it would be. I wrote this song for all those in their early 20s who might be starting to figure it all out".

• HMLTD have released two new tracks, 'Flex', featuring Xvoto Delete, and 'Death Drive'. The band are currently supporting Shame in the UK, before heading off to the US for dates with Nine Inch Nails.

• Lovebites have released new single, 'Rising'. Their new album, 'Clockwork Immortality', is out on 18 Jan.

• Stormzy has been confirmed as the first headliner for next year's Glastonbury. Emily Elvis is "very happy".

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


Beef Of The Week #430: Threatin v Europe
Fake it till you make it, they say. Although I'm pretty sure it's meant as a state of mind. I don't think whoever first said that meant for anyone to spend thousands on an elaborate scheme to make themselves look popular in the hope that their imaginary fanbase might turn into a real one when they triumphantly took to the stage.

Brexit chaos be damned, it's the story of US metal band Threatin's disastrous European tour that's had the music world gripped all week. It has everything: mystery, intrigue, overuse of frowned-upon marketing techniques, and a whole load of stuff that is just plain weird. Even now, having read several books' worth of information on all this, there are so many questions left unanswered.

Threatin looked good on paper, at least to the casual observer. They had 38,000 Facebook fans, YouTube videos with respectable likes and comments, and an apparently established management company, booking agent and label on their side, all set to work on promoting the band's latest album via a slew of European shows.

Even with those stats and that kind of support, getting any new band's tour noticed is a challenge. However, this tour suddenly became a global news story after someone at one of the venues, The Exchange in Bristol, posted a message on the band's Facebook page. They said that they had been "expecting a busy night because the promoter had supposedly sold 180 tickets". Though the poster did concede that it was odd no tickets had been sold through the venue before the night of the show.

"It really seemed weird when the only people to arrive were on the support bands' guestlist", the post went on. With such a bad turnout and therefore no bar take to be taken, "we had to ask Threatin to pay the venue hire [and] staff costs before anyone else played. The singer eventually huffed off and withdrew the money [from a cash machine] so the show could continue and they could play to literally zero people (aside from their tour manager and a couple of guys from one of the support bands, because they felt bad for this guy [and stuck around])".

A similar picture emerged from other shows on the tour. The opening night had been at The Underworld in Camden, but afterwards the venue posted under a Facebook post promoting the show: "What happened to the 291 advance ticket sales your agent said you'd sold? THREE PEOPLE turned up. Please don't lie about ticket sales [and] please don't contact us again for a show".

The Exchange also noted that the tens of thousands of Facebook fans the band had appeared to be fake, and all those YouTube comments appeared to be fake too. And it turned out that all the people who had said they were attending the band's shows on the accompanying Facebook event pages were based in Brazil.

Footage then emerged of the band's performance in Manchester, which took place the night after they'd been in Bristol. It showed two people watching the show and one other stood close to the front of the stage with a video camera directed straight at frontman Jered Threatin. Other venues began reporting similar experiences.

Once the story had blown up, the band by then having played six dates of a ten date tour, attention turned to the next show in Belfast. The city's Empire venue cautiously said that it was "aware of the situation". Then, later, it was announced that Threatin had pulled out, but the show would go ahead with the support bands who had been booked, because the venue hire fee had already been paid.

With so many questions unanswered about this whole venture, it was disappointing that the shutters quickly came down. Threatin's social media accounts closed or sat silent, and various websites related to the band went dark. It was also reported that members of the band had quit, although it was still unclear who those people even were, and how complicit in this whole thing they had been.

Still, breadcrumbs had been dropped, and various people started digging - in particular, metal blog Metal Sucks. What they found uncovered an incredibly intricate web of lies attempting to fool people into believing that this was a popular band on the rise, when in fact they were virtually unknown. And not really a band.

In fact, the music is really the solo project of Jered Threatin - real name Jered Eames - who had not only paid for bots to boost his social media numbers, but had created an entire imaginy industry around him. His booking agent, StageRight, does not exist beyond its website. Nor does management company Aligned Artist Management. Same for his record label, Superlative Recordings, which makes claims about its history and roster that it can't back up.

Not only this, but there are music news websites online - Top Rock Press and Celebrity Music Scene - which pull in content from other music news sites interspersed with articles promoting Threatin, making it look - at first glance - like this band was getting media coverage. Meanwhile, while this whole story may be new to most of us, it turns out that Wikipedia editors have been battling over the validity of Threatin's page on the crowd-sourced encyclopaedia site for months.

All this isn't something that's happened overnight, either. Posts on Threatin's Instagram account run back to 2016, as do news stories on the project's website. Debut album, 'Breaking The World', was released in August last year. Three singles have been released from the album. Two of them, 'Identity' and 'Living Is Dying', have professionally made music videos, which show Eames playing all instruments on the track.

Possibly the biggest of the unanswered questions relating to all is, is how this was all being paid for. Although Eames claimed to have big industry backing, his representatives were all invented, as was his following. So he wasn't receiving industry investment or earning much, if any money, from his music online.

And yet he managed to build this world around him, and then pay for himself and three hired-in band members - plus a tour manager (actually his wife, it has since emerged) - to travel to the UK, stay in hotels, and pay to hire a series of venues in advance.

Those band members are seemingly almost as much in the dark about all this as the rest of us. Drummer Dane Davis spoke to Classic Rock magazine about his experience, while guitarist Joe Prunera spoke to Metal Sucks.

Both say that they were approached by someone claiming to be Threatin's manager and were invited to audition to be part of the touring band. After being hired, they went through rehearsals, dismissing certain things that seemed strange along the way - like the fact that they only met Eames and his wife Kelsey during all of this and never any of the industry professionals they'd previously been in touch with.

Despite the oddities, they were there rehearsing for a tour that seemed to be going ahead, with travel plans already made. Sure, they hadn't heard of the band, but there are lots of bands who are more famous abroad than they are at home.

Prunera said that he'd been told that they would be playing 1000 to 1500 seater venues, rather than the 200 or so capacity (empty) rooms they actually played in. Both musicians expressed disappointment at learning they were only being paid $300 for their work - all the more so when they were told just before leaving that this money was also meant to cover food while they were away. However, as performers trying to get a leg up in the industry, they also saw value in the experience. Especially as they were also told that the shows were close to selling out.

Even once they began the tour, the musicians didn't suspect what was going on. Eames expressed shock to his bandmates after no one turned up to the first show at the Underworld, but blamed his promoter and the venue.

"He was playing it off as something weird going on", recalls Davis. "He mentioned that the promotions company was supposed to promote this, and the venues were supposed to promote this and stuff like that. So we started thinking, 'OK, there's been a problem with the promotion company, this show was [just] improperly promoted'. I looked at it and was, like, 'That's not good, but maybe the next show there's going to be more people. Maybe not hundreds like we were originally told, but maybe 50'.

As the tour continued, with audiences still in single digits, Davis says they were confused, but still had no reason to suspect that Eames had invented his fanbase or lied about ticket sales. "Jered was saying that he usually expects a bunch of people coming up to him, wanting autographs and stuff", he goes on. "Just a large crowd being there. So we were suspicious about why this was occurring, but we just kept thinking, 'The promotion company really just screwed up and someone is going to get fired for this'".

It was only after they got off the ferry to Northern Ireland that things began to unravel. "My phone got signal and we got off the ferry and I got a couple of messages from people saying, 'Sorry to hear about the scam'", says Davis. "Someone sent me an article, saying I should read this. It was shocking. I just thought, 'What do you mean this is a scam?' I had no idea".

The session musicians discussed among themselves what to do, with Davis - who had family nearby to go to - hatching an elaborate escape plan. However, in the end, it was Eames who brought up the emerging controversy with Eames himself.

"He was very adamantly going on and on and on about how he's the victim", says Prunera. "They're making all this up, the record label exists, how could it be fake if The Scorpions are on the label? We told Jered, 'We should not be playing and should not continue on. We don't want to be part of the media backlash until we can get to the bottom of this. There's no reason to continue on'".

Davis and Prunera apparently quit at that point, with bassist Gavin Carney saying that he would see out the rest of the tour. It wasn't until later that they got more insight into what had gone on, with Davis and Prunera both ultimately quite amused to have been involved in this viral news story.

As the week went on, more and more information was dug up about Eames - some delved into his past musical projects, discovering him playing up loose (at best) associations with other bands, while others gleefully reported on personal details that probably should have been left alone. At points, some of the reporting felt like those writing the reports had forgot that there are actual people at the centre of this - it's not all bots.

Still, with Eames still quiet and a rabid curiosity surrounding his story, it's perhaps understandable that people kept on searching to work out how and why this happened. My guess is that Eames - who has a degree in psychology, according to that disputed Wikipedia page - assumed that if he presented an apparently popular act to European audiences, people would turn up just to see what they were missing out on. The problem was, until venues started complaining, no one knew he was here.

Had he hired a genuine PR company to push the dates a bit, it might actually have paid off. It's unlikely that the shows would have sold out, but there could have been some modest audiences.

The other possibility is that it never mattered to Eames himself whether people were there or not. Venues have reported that the band always played as if they were performing to a full room, while his wife filmed him play. Perhaps Eames hoped that he could take evidence of a European tour and videos of his performances back to the US, then use them to get shows closer to home. I mean, that seems an overly elaborate explanation and unlikely, but so does this entire story. Although he's already got presumably faked videos of his live shows, so why come to Europe to fake more?

Or maybe this was all just a prank. Some sort of avant-garde art project, perhaps. A lot of people have likened Eames to maker of 'The Room' Tommy Wiseau this week. And there are similarities. Wiseau pumped huge amounts of money from unknown sources into a film project in which he played the lead. Badly. When audiences laughed at his work, he began telling people that he'd always intended for his film to be funny.

That appears to be the tactic Eames is employing now. He has now put most of his websites back online and returned to social media with a mysterious statement: "What is fake news? I turned an empty room into an international headline. If you are reading this, you are part of the illusion".

So, there you go, it all went exactly as he planned. Although if, as I think is a lot more likely, this was all an incredibly misguided attempt to fast-track himself to fame, the biggest failure of this whole saga is that Eames cancelled the remainder of the tour dates.

At the point his bandmates quit, there were still three dates on the tour, in Belfast, Paris and Bergano in Italy. Had they gone ahead, I think you can bet they'd have pulled in more than two people. Too many people were too curious for no one to show up by this point. Even if he'd just quickly played over his album, they'd have come. Or he could have not played at all. Just told his story. Maybe he could have booked more dates. He could perhaps have - albeit accidentally - built a career for himself after all.

Now, we just have to wait for his next move to see if he can capitalise on all that's happened. Who knows what it'll be? Although I think we can all rest assured that he'll utterly overthink it.


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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