TODAY'S TOP STORY: Viagogo has said that it is now considering all options following last week's ruling by the Constitutional Council in France that a ticket touting ban in the country conforms with the French constitution. That includes, the controversial secondary ticketing platform adds, includes possibly taking the matter to the European courts... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Viagogo says it could challenge French ticket touting ban in the European courts
DEALS Concord launches new theatre-focused division following Samuel French acquisition
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Marty Bandier trumpets success of EMI deal in final end-of-year memo to Sony/ATV staff
MEDIA Classic FM signs up Moira Stuart
ARTIST NEWS Paul McCartney launches anti-bullying campaign with new single
Damon Albarn backs 'citizen's assembly' to fix Brexit
ONE LINERS Celeste, Courtney Hadwin, Atlantic Records, more
AND FINALLY... Ariana Grande trailing pop newcomer and sausage roll fan for Christmas number one
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!K7 Music is seeking an experienced Artist Manager to join its growing management department. The successful candidate will have at least three years’ experience in artist management, with demonstrated successes from their rosters past or present.

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Viagogo says it could challenge French ticket touting ban in the European courts
Viagogo has said that it is now considering all options following last week's ruling by the Constitutional Council in France that a ticket touting ban in the country conforms with the French constitution. That includes, the controversial secondary ticketing platform adds, includes possibly taking the matter to the European courts.

France was one of the first countries to introduce new regulations as online ticket touting really started to gain momentum at the start of this decade. A new law in 2012 basically outlawed the resale of tickets for profit without the permission of an event's promoter.

In more recent years, an increasing number of countries have been considering regulating the secondary ticketing market. That includes putting a statutory limit on how much resold tickets can be marked up; or forcing resale platforms to be more transparent about who is selling a ticket and the risks associated with buying from unofficial sellers; or - as in France - an out-right ban on resale.

Perhaps even more importantly, existing regulations are starting to be better enforced, either by government agencies, or through legal action by the live sector, which is now underway in France itself. To that end, Viagogo asked the French Constitutional Council to consider whether the country's ticket touting ban was actually in breach of rights protected by the country's constitution.

The secondary ticketing firm argues that the ban "infringes the freedom of trade, challenges the right of ownership which grants everyone the freedom to use their property as they see fit, and consequently grants a de facto monopoly to event organisers".

However, last week the Constitutional Council ruled that the touting ban was in fact compliant with the French constitution, rejecting Viagogo's various arguments.

In a statement, Viagogo says that it "notes" last week's ruling and is now "considering all the options available ... including bringing an action before the European Court Of Justice". The latter would involve arguing that France's tout ban contravened EU law.

Viagogo's statement goes on to say that "France is one of the few countries in the world to have chosen a ban on reselling tickets without the agreement of the organiser of a show or sporting event". Although it opposes such laws, the company then says that it does support measures that will "make resale operations more transparent".

That might include the transparency measures recently forced on the company here in the UK by the Competition & Markets Authority.

Having traditionally been very good at ignoring both regulations and its critics, Viagogo is now having to deal with legal action and potential new anti-touting legislation in multiple countries all at once. It has made some compromises in a bid to placate some regulators and law-makers, though at the same time seems keen to carry on fighting in other cases. It will be interesting to see what its next move is in France.


Concord launches new theatre-focused division following Samuel French acquisition
Concord Music has announced the launch of a new theatre-focused division that will bring together its existing interests in musical theatre and a brand new acquisition, Samuel French, a leading publisher of dramatic works.

US-based independent music firm Concord acquired the catalogue of Marvin Hamlisch, including his numerous stage and film compositions, back in 2011. It then extended its interests in the musical theatre business via an alliance with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Company in 2016 and, the following year, by taking ownership of the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalogue via its acquisition of Imagem. Earlier this year it acquired New York-based musical licensing firm Tams-Witmark.

The acquisition of Samuel French brings more musicals into the fold - including the likes of 'Grease' and 'Chicago' - though the deal also moves Concord into the wider theatre business too. Samuel French also represents thousands of stage plays, including works by the likes of Agatha Christie, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, David Mamet, Caryl Churchill, Tom Stoppard, Sarah Daniels and Edward Bond.

All these various assets will now be part of Concord Theatricals, a new division led by Sean Patrick Flahaven, who for the last two years has been CEO of the aforementioned Lloyd Webber joint venture. He will report into Concord's Chief Publishing Executive Jake Wisely.

Confirming the new division and the latest acquisition, Wisely said yesterday: "Samuel French adds to Concord Theatricals a broad diversity of rights, relationships, experience and executive talent. French also broadens our existing relationships and business synergies, as we now represent all of the musicals of Marvin Hamlisch, both the stage rights and film and TV music rights of Agatha Christie Ltd, as well as various recordings and now the plays of Steve Martin. With Samuel French, Concord is no longer just music".

Meanwhile Nathan Collins, President of Samuel French - and now General Manager of Concord Theatricals - added: "For 188 years, Samuel French has been the iconic name in theatrical licensing and publishing and this merger will enable us to continue to provide our clients with the most innovative products, dynamic marketing and transparent reporting. Under Sean's leadership, we will build upon the great catalogues of the two organisations and create the preferred home for the works of playwrights, composers and lyricists".


Marty Bandier trumpets success of EMI deal in final end-of-year memo to Sony/ATV staff
Marty Mart Bandier has sent his final end-of-year round-up email to staff, before he steps down as head of the world's biggest music publisher - Sony/ATV - in March next year. His twelve years at the top have all been great, he reckons, but this one was the icing on the cake. As I'm sure all the songwriters and indies who tried to block it would agree, "a major highlight" was Sony/ATV finally taking complete control of EMI Music Publishing.

"While I am sad that I will soon be saying goodbye after twelve wonderful years, I am also immensely proud of where the company is now compared to when I started", he says. "Back then we were only the fourth largest music publisher. Now we are the world's number one with a roster of songwriters and a catalogue of songs that are the envy of the industry and a team of executives who are in a class of their own. It has been an amazing experience working with you all and I can say without hesitation that my time at Sony/ATV has been the absolute highlight of my career".

Although it must have caused him some stress at times - as organisations representing songwriters and indie music firms criticised the transaction - Bandier talks up that EMI deal a number of times in the memo. Sony/ATV initially acquired EMI Music Publishing as part of a consortium back in 2012, of course, and subsequently became an administrator of all those EMI rights. But this year, Sony bought those partners out of the joint venture so that EMI Music Publishing could become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sony/ATV business.

The deal was referred to EU competition regulators and then faced opposition from indie music repping IMPALA and songwriter groups like BASCA and ECSA. Critics argued that allowing the biggest music publisher in the world to become even bigger would be detrimental for the music rights market. IMPALA also argued that, by metrics previously employed by EU competition regulators themselves, they should block the deal.

When those regulators subsequently approved the transaction with only a basic investigation, Sony's opponents in the indie community argued that the decision sent a message to other major companies that if they need to get controversial acquisitions past competition regulators, they just needed to instigate a two-stage deal, initially involving other investors. So at stage one you can say the other investors will stop any distortion of the market, and then at stage two you can say "well we've basically been merged for six years already and nothing's been distorted so far".

Bandier doesn't reference any of this in his email, but he does note that getting that deal done made him "particularly proud ... given my long history with EMI where I spent seventeen happy and hugely successful years and oversaw its rise to become the number one music publisher, just as would later happen with Sony/ATV".

Oh yes, the combined Sony/ATV/EMI is now the world's number one publisher. Have we mentioned that already? And, by the way, if you were wondering why the EMI deal was waved through by EU regulators, it had nothing to do with those sneaky two-stage deal tactics the indies were banging on about. Oh no, it was Sony/ATV's shiny new accounting system what won it.

Damn shiny it is. And that shine was dead useful during the regulatory process. "[This] new accounting standard for revenue recognition", he beams, "[provides] extensive financial information and analysis which was used by the European Commission and Sony Corporation in connection with the acquisition of EMI, and ... to consolidate EMI with Sony/ATV". Hurrah for accounting standards for revenue recognition, I say.

Elsewhere, the "historic piece of legislation" that is America's Music Modernization Act gets a special mention, as do many of the artists and songwriters which helped Sony/ATV on its way to achieving another super successful year. Drake, Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran and Queen are particularly singled out. Newer acts Cardi B and Travis Scott also get a nod.

Bandier is set to be succeeded in the Sony/ATV top job by outgoing Warner/Chappell boss Jon Platt next year. Which is something Bandier is said to not be entirely happy about, despite previously mentoring Platt during his time at EMI.


Classic FM signs up Moira Stuart
With Chris Evans jumping on over to Virgin Radio in the new year, leaving his Radio 2 breakfast show behind him, you have all surely been wondering day and night what that might mean for the newsreader on his BBC show, Moira Stuart.

The appointment of Stuart to read the news on Chris Evans' Radio 2 breakfast show was newsworthy back in 2010, because the BBC had previously been criticised over the way it stopped using the presenter on its TV news bulletins. Once ensconced at Radio 2, Stuart also started presenting music-based shows for the station.

Having delivered her final news bulletin for the soon to depart Evans last week, Classic FM has now announced that it has signed up Stuart for future news-reading and show presenting duties. She will present news bulletins each morning on the Global-owned classical music station from next February, and will then start hosting a weekly show as part of Classic FM's Saturday schedule from next July.

Confirming her new gig, Stuart said yesterday: "I couldn't be more excited and delighted to be joining the Classic FM family. It's a wonderful opportunity to take a whole new journey, with people I really like and admire".

Meanwhile the station's Managing Editor Sam Jackson added: "Moira is a broadcasting legend and is known to millions of people on television and radio, so I am THRILLED that she has chosen Classic FM as her new home. Her passion for classical music and decades of experience make her the perfect addition to our 2019 line-up. From her morning news bulletins to her new weekend show - and with another new series to follow - I know that our 5.2 million weekly listeners will join me in welcoming her to Classic FM next year".


On The CMU Stereo 2018 - Spring
With the year nearly done and dusted and the festive break incoming, this week, we're running down 40 of our favourite tracks of 2018, ten at a time, loosely grouped into seasons. Today we hit our spring selection. If you sign up to our 'On The CMU Stereo 2018' playlist on Spotify here, you can listen to all of these tracks and our winter choices now, and the other 20 as they are revealed later in the week.

This collection of tracks takes us off in a more experimental direction, kicking off with vocal artist Hatis Noit. She wowed us with her performance at The Great Escape in May, with her looped vocal lines reverberating around St Mary's Church in Brighton.

Another highlight of TGE for many was Flohio, who has gone on to release a series of fantastic singles, which have in turn earned her a place on the BBC Sound Of long list for 2019. Here's we've included her debut 'Bands'.

Meanwhile, other leftfield entries on the spring list include Aisha Devi, Agar Agar, JFDR's cover of 'White Ferrari' by Frank Ocean, and the always welcome return of Jenny Hval.

Here's what's on our spring playlist:

Hatis Noit - Illogical Lullaby
Aisha Devi - Inner State Of Alchemy
Agar Agar - Fangs Out
Flohio - Bands
JFDR - White Ferrari
Mellah - Paseo
Alison Wonderland - Church
Jenny Hval - Spells
Princess Nokia - For The Night
Aro Vana - XVII

Listen to all ten tracks here.

Check out all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column in 2018 on this Spotify playlist.

Paul McCartney launches anti-bullying campaign with new single
Paul McCartney has used the latest single from his 'Egypt Station' album, 'Who Cares', to launch an anti-bullying campaign. It arrives with a new video starring Emma Stone to highlight the issues raised in the song.

"My hope is that if there are kids being bullied - and there are - maybe by listening to this song and watching this video, they might just think it's not as bad", says McCartney. "That it's the kind of thing you can just stand up to and laugh off and get through".

I'm not sure how many young people are going to be comforted knowing that McCartney has their back, but his heart's in the right place, I suppose.

The video and #WhoCaresIDo campaign have been created in partnership with the Creative Visions charity. Founder of the organisation, Kathy Eldon, says: "Millions of people around the world feel silenced, subjugated - bullied - and believe that no one cares. Our intention with this campaign is to put the power of the song to work and inspire us to show up and care - and let others know that we do care".

The video is available exclusively on Apple Music until later today. Watch it here.


Damon Albarn backs 'citizen's assembly' to fix Brexit
For all the talk in recent times of "the will of the people" and "what the British people voted for", it's still not really clear what anyone actually wants from Brexit. As I'm sure we're all about to find out over Christmas lunch. In? Out? Half out? Half in? Leaving at any cost? Not leaving at all?

It's this utter confusion and uncertainty that's left us with a Brexit deal that no one's happy with and that Parliament won't support, but at the same time with no clear consensus in Parliament as to what a viable alternative might be. With all the politicians out of ideas and soon to be out of time, how much worse could it be if we just let a load of random people off the street try to sort it out?

That's roughly the message of Damon Albarn and a load of other people who've signed an open letter calling for the formation of a 'citizens' assembly' to deal with the Brexit shambles. Because with just over three months to go before the looming Brexit deadline of 29 Mar, apparently there's still time to just start all over again.

"Looking on, we cannot see how a majority can be found for any proposition in Parliament", reads the letter. "Some want to remain, some want no deal, some want Norway, some want to vote again. The same rifts exist across the UK. Anger and resentment are growing, splitting families, communities and our country. Without a new intervention, the toxic culture which has infected public life will irrevocably damage democracy and the future for us all".

The letter goes on to explain that "citizens' assemblies operate around the world to create a neutral forum for evidence-based, participative decision-making". Comprising around 500 randomly chosen members of the public, they take about eight weeks to organise, and then take on board the full range of views within the group before making recommendations to political representatives.

"Brexit has come to test the patience of the British public", it concludes. "To make progress we should instead trust their wisdom and use it to resolve our differences, deepen our democracy and unite us all".

The wisdom of the public on this issue was tested once already of course, and look where that got us. Still, with MPs basically redundant now, maybe this is a viable option.

Albarn's backing of the idea, of course, comes after he reunited The Good, The Bad And The Queen to record a Brexit-themed album. 'Merrie Land' is the band's second LP and their first for more than a decade. Speaking of which, the band have just announced new post-Brexit deadline UK tour dates in April.


Celeste, Courtney Hadwin, Atlantic Records, more

• Soul singer Celeste has signed a global publishing deal with Warner/Chappell. "I'm excited", says Celeste. "I'm delighted", says W/C UK MD Mike Smith.

• Teenage Hartlepool resident Courtney Hadwin - who rose to fame after appearing on 'America's Got Talent' - has signed a record deal with Syco Music in partnership with fellow Sony label Arista Records in the US. Hadwin says it's "a dream come true". Syco boss and 'AGT' judge Simon Cowell says "it's fantastic". Arista President David Massey promises that "you can expect the unexpected".

• Warner's Atlantic Records UK has promoted Callum Caulfield to Marketing Director. "Callum has risen through Atlantic and deservedly so", says Atlantic UK President Ben Cook.

• Singer, songwriter and vocal producer Michelle Escoffery has joined the board of collecting society PRS as a Writer Director, filling a position left vacant after Imogen Heap decided to stand down. "I'm extremely honoured to be given this opportunity and hope that the knowledge I have gained throughout my career will help steer PRS For Music to make the best choices on behalf of its members both on home soil and internationally", she says.

• Kid Koala has released another track from his upcoming new album, 'Music To Draw To: Io'. Here's 'Allotropic'.

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


Ariana Grande trailing pop newcomer and sausage roll fan for Christmas number one
Ariana Grande has two tracks in contention for Christmas number one on Friday, but both are lagging behind current top contenders Ava Max and LadBaby.

According to the Official Charts Company, Grande's 'Thank U, Next' - which was number one in last week's UK singles chart - has been overtaken in the midweeks by both last week's number two track - Ava Max's 'Sweet But Psycho' - and LadBaby's cover of Starship's 1985 monstrosity 'We Built This City' reworked as a tribute to sausage rolls.

Where does that leave Ariana? Well, 'Thank U, Next' is currently at number three, just ahead of her new single, 'Imagine', at number four. Completing the top five is perennial Mariah Carey festive classic 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'.

Someone recently worked out a formula to predict the most likely of these tracks to reach the Christmas top spot on Friday. But - mainly due to that formula being a bunch of nonsense - I can't be bothered to work out all the keys and BPMs of these five records, so to see which is most likely to succeed by that metric.

Let's just talk about the LadBaby track, because that's the novelty one. Apparently LadBaby, real name Mark Hoyle, is a popular dad blogger. He's released his single as a present for his wife Roxanne, although he's going to give any money he earns from it to a food bank charity called The Trussell Trust instead of her.

Hoyle said in a statement: "Yes maaaaate! Who would have thought it? A sausage roll song being sung by a Nottingham lad would be sitting at number two in the official midweek singles chart?! What a fantastic achievement and great START - but let's not stop there! Let's pinch that number one spot from the global megastars, eat our own body weight in sausage rolls AND most importantly raise even more money to support the amazing UK food banks charity Trussell Trust this Christmas!"

I'm vegetarian, but I think I get the sentiment. Maybe I'll just donate some sausage rolls to a food bank instead. Anyway, we'll find out how he fairs against the "global megastars" on Friday afternoon.

If you're wondering which album's most likely to top the Christmas week chart, it's obviously the 'Greatest Showman' soundtrack. I'm not sure why you thought it might be something else.


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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