TODAY'S TOP STORY: Tencent Music has said that it intends to "vigorously" contest allegations of fraud made against its co-President by an early investor in the company that morphed into the leading Chinese streaming business. However, it admits that the dispute - which has come to a head just as the firm gets ready to list on the New York Stock Exchange - could have "a material adverse effect on our reputation, capital structure, business and financial condition"... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Tencent Music says it will "vigorously" contest fraud allegations by early investor
LEGAL British artists and music execs sign open letter on the Brexit shambles
Fleetwood Mac settle with Lindsey Buckingham
LIVE BUSINESS Neil Young angry at London show sponsorship
MEDIA Netflix unveils first trailer for Gerard Way's Umbrella Academy
RELEASES Lambchop announce lucky new album
ONE LINERS Noonie Bao, Apple, Auddly, more
AND FINALLY... Formula for perfect Christmas number one found
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This half day masterclass provides a comprehensive overview of the streaming business, how digital services are licensed, and the key issues with the current model. [READ MORE]
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The Royal Albert Hall is seeking an experienced and motivated Head Of Programming to strategically develop and produce the diverse range of programming at the Hall.

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Juno is one of the world's largest online music and equipment stores. We are looking for a music buyer and product researcher to develop our vinyl range, and identify new business opportunities.

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Outpost is looking for an exceptional Music PR Account Director with a minimum of three years music PR experience. This role will position you at a senior level at Outpost and give you the opportunity to contribute to the overall business in a significant way.

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Ninja Tune are hiring for a full-time business affairs administration position within the record label and publishing company, based in its London office.

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Kobalt is looking for a Digital Marketing Manager to join its recordings division AWAL and work with its growing roster of emerging and already established talent from all over the world.

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The role of Events Marketing Manager is a pivotal and crucial role to the success of Dreamland Margate. This is a really exciting opportunity for an event marketer to join a growing business.

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Believe has an exciting new opportunity for an eager creative to join as the Digital Content Intern to work across the digital marketing and video team. The candidate will be creating assets to support Believe's artist and label campaigns and also its YouTube channel clients.

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The position of Manager, Digital Accounts at INgrooves is responsible for generating revenue growth at key accounts in the digital music industry outside of the Americas. You will work closely with label representatives, marketing information and various data sources to ensure maximum visibility for our key projects.

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Sentric Music is looking for a Synchronisation Executive to join its Music Services Team. Based in the creative area of the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool, the Synchronisation Executive will be part of our growing Sync Team consisting of fifteen creatives in the UK and US.

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Ninja Tune is looking for an experienced product manager working across our main imprints Ninja Tune and Counter Records. You will manage record release campaigns from beginning to end working closely with the A&R, production, marketing, digital, social media and international teams.

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Tencent Music says it will "vigorously" contest fraud allegations by early investor
Tencent Music has said that it intends to "vigorously" contest allegations of fraud made against its co-President by an early investor in the company that morphed into the leading Chinese streaming business. However, it admits that the dispute - which has come to a head just as the firm gets ready to list on the New York Stock Exchange - could have "a material adverse effect on our reputation, capital structure, business and financial condition".

The music division of Chinese web giant Tencent issued a statement to the US Securities & Exchange Commission yesterday after several days of media reports about the dispute between investor Hanwei Guo and Tencent Music co-President Guomin Xie.

Guo was an early investor in Ocean Music - which also operated as the China Music Corporation - in the early years of this decade, as various companies and entrepreneurs attempted to capitalise on opportunities that were emerging at the time to create legitimate digital music services for the Chinese market.

CMC subsequently merged in 2016 with Tencent's music division, which is now the biggest player in the Chinese streaming market, principally through its QQ Music service. That division, which also has other digital, distribution and label operations, is being spun off as a separate business via the imminent IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

Prior to all that, Guo sold his stake in CMC back to Xie. In new legal filings in both China and the US, Guo argues that he only divested his stake in CMC because of information Xie provided that suggested the company was failing. Moreover, Guo alleges, he was put under considerable pressure by Xie at the time to sell out of the business.

The legal filings then say that new information Guo only received this year have shown that Xie deliberately misrepresented the position and future potential of CMC back in 2013 in order to force the share sale. Therefore, it argues, the deal via which Guo sold back his CMC equity was achieved through misrepresentation and duress on Xie's part.

A legal rep for Guo said in a statement last week: "We believe a review of the circumstances and facts surrounding this matter clearly show that Mr Xie, who is now Tencent Music's co-President, used unlawful intimidation tactics and threats to defraud a respected, honourable investor. It is unfortunate that Mr Xie and other respondents have not righted this wrong prior to Tencent Music's 12 Dec initial public offering in the United States, where shareholders and regulators hold companies and their officers to high standards of conduct".

Guo's legal action in China, via an entity called the China International Economic & Trade Arbitration Commission, is seeking the return of some of his equity stake in what is now Tencent Music as well as compensation for his economic loss. The legal filing in the US courts is seeking information from the various banks involved in the Tencent Music IPO.

Responding to all that, Tencent Music said in its SEC statement yesterday "both we and Mr Xie intend to contest [Guo's] claims vigorously". However, companies listing on a US stock exchange are required to be candid and blunt about any risks to the business, and as a result Tencent added: "There can be no assurance that we will be able to prevail in the arbitration or that we will be able to settle the dispute on terms favourable to us".

It then went on: "If the claims alleged by the claimant are successful, we are currently unable to estimate the possible loss or range of loss, if any, associated with the resolution of the arbitration. Any adverse outcome of the arbitration could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, capital structure (including potential dilution to our shareholders), business and financial condition".

Dealing with the legal process in China will also require "significant resources" and could "divert management's attention", the statement went on, plus "we cannot guarantee that additional legal actions relating to the subject matters in the arbitration would not be threatened or brought against us or our directors and officers in the future".


British artists and music execs sign open letter on the Brexit shambles
As the Brexit debacle goes from a joke to a farce to a very black comedy, a plethora of UK artists, music business executives and music industry organisations have signed an open letter calling on the government to find a better way forward for the UK's future relationship with the European Union.

The letter comes, of course, after Theresa May announced she was postponing a vote in Parliament on the Brexit deal she has negotiated with the EU. The Prime Minister decided to not put her deal before the House Of Commons after it became clear it would be defeated by a significant margin, with both remainers and leavers being equally disparaging of May's proposals for how Brexit might be achieved.

It's really not clear what will happen next, as the rest of the EU has strongly indicated that the deal on the table is as good as gets, given the UK government's refusal to move on certain key points like freedom of movement.

Meanwhile, the campaign for a second referendum - perhaps offering a choice between the current Brexit deal, exiting the EU with no deal in place, or not exiting the EU at all - is gaining considerable momentum, aided by the European courts saying that the UK could cancel the two-year Brexit process at any time before those two years are up on 29 Mar.

The open letter, signed by artists like Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Jamie Cullum, Paloma Faith and David Arnold, and organisations like the MU, AIM, MMF, BASCA and MPG, concludes: "No-one voted for this situation, whether they voted leave or remain. It is critical to find a way out of this mess, and therefore we ask you to examine alternative options to maintain our current influence and freedom to trade".

The letter also reviews the various ways in which Brexit could negatively impact on the UK music industry. Potential issues include duties being charged on the UK industry's physical product as it moves around Europe, future changes to copyright rules in the UK or the EU that negatively impact on British music makers, and - most pressingly of all - any new costs or paperwork that might be introduced for UK acts touring the continent.

On potential issues for touring artists, the letter states: "Live music is at the heart of every artist's business and contributed around £1 billion to the UK economy, and freedom of movement is core to an artist's ability to tour and promote their art".

Meanwhile, on IP issues, the letter references the near-completion new European Copyright Directive, which - it says - "is designed to help protect the value of our industry's output on major technology platforms. The UK music industry could be at a significant disadvantage to our peers in the countries remaining in the EU without these protections".

It goes on: "According to a survey conducted by UK Music on the music industry's views on Brexit, only 2% thought it would have a positive impact on their chances of work. In the post-Brexit UK, there is a clear risk that reaching consumers and fans will be more expensive, and international markets will be harder to access. Live events will run the danger of being delayed or even cancelled, which would undermine the financial and cultural benefits that this vibrant sector brings to UK PLC".

You can read the full letter here.

Deviate Digital CEO Sammy Andrews, who help organise the Music4EU letter, said this morning: "Rarely do so many factions within the music industry unite on any subject, but Music4EU's signatory list so far is a clear indication of the level of concern over the current mess, and how widely it impacts every corner of this sector. Brexit is an unmitigated disaster for Britain's world-leading music industry".

Meanwhile one of that artist signatories, Sam Duckworth, aka Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, added: "It's a connected age, where diminishing rights and barriers to trade should be a thing of the past. We need to make sure we don't isolate ourselves from our wider cultural family. Be it sharing a stage, a marketplace or as part of a team, Brexit is causing mass uncertainty. Music is a big part of the economy and is the front line of the warm British welcome. It is essential that we are given clear guidelines, promises and safeguards for this to continue".


Fleetwood Mac settle with Lindsey Buckingham
Lindsey Buckingham has settled his legal dispute with former band Fleetwood Mac, telling CBS that he is happy with the deal that has been done.

It emerged in April that Buckingham was out of the band, just as a new Fleetwood Mac tour was announced. He then sued his former bandmates in October, in no small part over the monies he'd lost by not being allowed to participate in those new touring activities.

The lawsuit alleged that Buckingham had been fired after requesting time off from the band to undertake a solo tour. Though in an interview with Rolling Stone he subsequently said that tensions between him and former partner Stevie Nicks were the real issue, claiming that she had given the rest of the band a "me or him" ultimatum.

Either way, Buckingham said that the lawsuit had been settled during an interview on 'CBS This Morning Saturday' this weekend. He didn't discuss any details of that settlement, except to say that all the members of the band had now signed off on it and that "I'm happy enough with it".


Neil Young angry at London show sponsorship
Neil Young has responded angrily to the announcement that he and Bob Dylan will co-headline one of next summer's Barclaycard British Summer Time shows in London's Hyde Park. Not because he won't, but because he wasn't ready to announce it.

In a post on his Neil Young Archives website, Young writes to his fans: "You who were taken by surprise waking up to the Bob Dylan/Neil Young Hyde Park concert announcement posted on every outlet except NYA, might wonder why it was not on NYA. And you should. We're sorry. Like you, I had no idea the announcement was coming that day".

He continues: "I was still finessing the art for the poster and trying to make sure that all the details of the show were agreeable to me. Then, suddenly, someone jumped the gun. The tickets were put on sale and the announcement was made, all without my knowledge".

All of the posters for the multi-weekend London concert series feature the same branding, so it's not clear what poster Young was working on. Although the update does seem to confirm he had at least agreed to play the show, even if he wasn't ready to announce it. Whether he will now is seemingly in the balance, due to a number of things.

First, Young says that he's annoyed about the speed with which tickets have gone on sale. He promises fans signed up to the aforementioned Neil Young Archives platform first pre-sale access to all of his shows. However, with this one going on sale without his knowledge, that was not possible. It also seems that, prior to the big announcement, he was unaware that the Barclaycard British Summer Time festival is sponsored by, er, Barclaycard.

"I learned that the show had a sponsor, Barclays Bank, a fossil fuel funding entity", he says, taking issue with investments made by the wider Barclays business. "That doesn't work for me ... At the moment, we are trying to rectify the situation and will soon update you on the status of the Hyde Park show. We have been talking about requiring a different sponsor as one option".

Given that Barclaycard is headline sponsor for the whole season of AEG-promoted Hyde Park shows each summer, that request might be tricky to achieve.

Young's manager Elliot Roberts at Lookout Management subsequently took some of the blame for the mix up. In another post on NYA, he writes: "To say we fell short of our obligations on the announcement and pre-sales for the Hyde Park show is an understatement and we disappointed a lot of people. We lost focus and the entire team at Lookout Management apologises for promises not kept to our subscribers".

"We have tried to rectify this as best we can by making sure that tickets are available for Neil Young Archives subscribers", he continues. "I personally really must apologise for this lapse because working as the custodian of Neil Young Archives is very serious to me. Neil's life's work has been mine as well. We will make every effort to ensure that this doesn't happen again".

Tickets for the show remain on sale, although it's not clear if all issues - particularly that of sponsorship - are resolved. AEG has not returned a request for comment at the time of going to press.


Netflix unveils first trailer for Gerard Way's Umbrella Academy
The first trailer for 'The Umbrella Academy', a new Netflix series based on comic books co-written by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, has been released.

Announced earlier this year, the show follows a family of superheroes as they investigate the mysterious death of their adoptive father and the looming possibility of the apocalypse. It's due to become available on Netflix on 15 Feb next year.

Writing on his website in July, Way told fans: "It's really happening! Gabriel [Ba, co-writer] and I can't wait to dive in and help make this a very memorable series with the team that is forming right now".

He added later in an official statement: "I am THRILLED that 'The Umbrella Academy' has found a home at Netflix. I couldn't think of a better place for the vision Gabriel Ba and myself had when creating the comic, and cannot wait for people to experience that world as a live action show".

Netflix VP Of Originals, Cindy Holland, added: "These aren't the usual superheroes and this series will embrace the singular tone of the graphic novels - dark yet humorous, supernatural yet grounded in reality. We're excited to see this world and introduce these unforgettable heroes to Netflix members around the globe".

The screen adaptation of the books has been a long time coming. It was announced in 2009 that Universal Pictures was turning them into a film, although that never emerged.

Watch the trailer for the Netflix series here.


Approved: Kid Koala & Trixie Whitley
Kid Koala is preparing to release the second in his series of 'Music To Draw To' ambient albums, 'Io'. While the first - 2017's 'Satellite' - saw him work with Emiliana Torrini on several tracks, this time around he collaborates with soul singer Trixie Whitley.

The partnership came about after the producer had already started work on the album, when Whitely sent him a text message telling him how much she enjoyed 'Satellite'. Seizing the moment he asked if she'd like to be involved in the follow up.

"I knew she was more in that soul/R&B tradition, but she did write me and say, 'I've been painting to the 'Satellite' record'", he explains to Billboard. "So I guess she was open-minded. Ambient was something she could get with".

"After the first two songs we recorded in our first session in Montreal, I realised it was going to be alright", he goes on. "She was willing to try a lot of different stuff and different feels and really knocked it out of the park, I thought".

'Io' is out on 25 Jan, with first single, 'All For You', available now. Its astral sound is matched by a Karina Bleau directed video, in which you can bathe in the possibility of the universe. Watch and listen here.

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

Lambchop announce lucky new album
Lampchop have announced their fourteenth album, 'This (Is What I Wanted To Tell You)'. It's actually their thirteenth album, if you're the sort of person who likes counting things in sequence. But if you're superstitious, like Lambchop, then saying it's the fourteenth apparently stops the whole project from being quite so dangerous.

To mark the announcement of the record, which will be released on 22 Mar, the band have put out new single 'The December-ish You', of which main man Kurt Wagner says: "Picture yourself on a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies... This is not that".

The band will also play a UK show at EartH in London on 21 Apr. Listen to 'The December-ish You' here.


Noonie Bao, Apple, Auddly, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Music publisher Sony/ATV has extended its deal with Swedish songwriter Noonie Bao. Good job, she's written songs like 'Stay' by Zedd & Alessia Cara, Camila Cabello's 'Never Be The Same' and Rita Ora's 'Let You Love Me'. "Incredible", says Sony/ATV UK MD Guy Moot. "Incredible", says Sony/ATV Scandinavia MD Johnny Tennander. "Incredible", says Bao's manager Jakob Emtestam.

• Apple has confirmed it has bought London-based artist services company Platoon, which is co-lead by original AWAL founder Denzyl Feigelson, who had a long period working and consulting for Apple in the years after it launched iTunes. The tech giant has confirmed the purchase after it was first reported by MBW last week, allowing wild speculation about what the deal tells us regarding Apple's current ambitions in music to continue.

• Collecting societies PPL and SAMI - which collect royalties for recording artists in the UK and Sweden respectively - have announced an alliance with Auddly, the start-up business that has developed a platform that makes it easier for artists and songwriters to ensure that accurate data is pumped into the system each time they create some new music.

• Radio station Kiss has announced that Tom Green and Daisy Maskell will take over its breakfast show in the new year. They replace Rickie Williams, Melvin Odoom and Charlie Hedges, who are buggering off to Radio 1 to present the late show there.

• Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is now the most streamed song released in the 20th century ever, if that's the sort of thing you're measuring. "We are so proud to represent Queen and are THRILLED to see the song still inspiring new fans around the world more than four decades after its release", says Universal Music boss Lucian Grainge.

• Later this week, Katy Perry will be available to download and play as in mobile game 'Final Fantasy Brave Exvius'. She's done a song too, called 'Immortal Flame'. Perry follows Ariana Grande, who appeared in the game last year.

• Professor Green has released the video for his Rag N Bone Man collaboration 'Photographs'.

• Iris Gold has released the video for new single 'Keep The Light On'.

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


Formula for perfect Christmas number one found
Tech driven record label Ostereo has analysed every Christmas number one from the last 50 years and come up with a formula for the perfect festive chart topper. So, if you get to work now, you could be quids in this time next year.

OK, are you ready? You'll need to write a song that is three minutes and 57 seconds long, in the key of G major, 114 beats per minute, about something other than Christmas, and performed by a 27 year old. Yeah, turns out that the best placed artists to have Christmas songs are also the ones most likely to be recently tragically dead.

Meanwhile, if you can't write songs but fancy a hit, don't worry, Ostereo also notes that most Christmas number ones are covers.

Testing out this hypothesis, Ostereo says the Christmas number one that gets closest to this magical formula is 'Always On My Mind' by the Pet Shop Boys. It's a cover and not about Christmas, so got off to a great start. It's also in G major, although its BPM is 125 and Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe were 33 and 28 respectively when they recorded it.

You can't have everything, I guess. And maybe this means that the biggest and most perfect Christmas hit is still ahead of us.

"I think we're a long way from an algorithmically-generated Christmas number one", says Ostereo founder Howard Murphy. "But certain characteristics do make a song more likely to resonate with audiences at Christmas".

Looking at this year's contenders for Christmas number one, none of them seems to tick more than one or two boxes.

The closest looks like being a group of 40 firefighters, going by the name of The Fire Tones, with a cover of 'Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed The World)'. It doesn't have it all, but it's a cover and gets relatively close elsewhere, being 115BPM and three minutes and 39 seconds long. Plus the song, in various Band Aid forms, has been Christmas number one three times before. Place your bets now.


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.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
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.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and advising on CMU Insights training courses and events.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
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.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
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