TODAY'S TOP STORY: Music industry trade bodies UK Music and the Incorporated Society Of Musicians have both hit out at a newly published white paper that outlines the UK government's plans for a new immigration policy if and when Britain leaves the European Union. A major crack down on immigration, especially from other EU countries, has - of course - been a top priority for the government in all of its Brexit negotiations to date... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Music industry says UK government's "clueless" post-Brexit immigration policy will be "devasting" for British music
LEGAL Gwen Stefani still faces injured fan lawsuit, but Live Nation is off the hook
New inquest into Radiohead drum tech death to open in March
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify denies accessing Facebook users' private messages
MEDIA Chris Evans' Virgin Radio show secures Sky sponsorship
RELEASES George McFall drops pseudonyms for new album
GIGS & FESTIVALS Kylie Minogue confirmed for Glastonbury 'legends slot'
AND FINALLY... Brian May to serenade NASA spacecraft as it makes historic flyby
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Music industry says UK government's "clueless" post-Brexit immigration policy will be "devasting" for British music
Music industry trade bodies UK Music and the Incorporated Society Of Musicians have both hit out at a newly published white paper that outlines the UK government's plans for a new immigration policy if and when Britain leaves the European Union. A major crack down on immigration, especially from other EU countries, has - of course - been a top priority for the government in all of its Brexit negotiations to date.

The white paper promises a "skills-based" immigration system "which favours experience and talent over nationality". It also proposes that any of those skilled workers coming to the UK to work must earn a minimum of £30,000 a year to qualify for entry, which is a key point both UK Music and the ISM have criticised.

"Requiring musicians, songwriters and producers from the EU to earn salaries of at least £30,000 to work in the UK poses a major threat to the music industry where music creators earn on average £20,504, way below the average for other jobs", says UK Music in a statement.

It then notes that "if the approach of the white paper is agreed, then the UK's cultural industries may suffer retaliation from EU member states. This could mean extra costs and red tape for artists who need to cross borders for their work".

ISM chief exec Deborah Annetts has a similar warning, stating that: "The end of freedom of movement will have a devastating impact on British musicians. The introduction of harsher immigration rules after Brexit will cause declining diversity and creativity in the British music industry. It could also potentially lead to the introduction of reciprocal immigration rules by EU countries".

She continues: "While it is good news that government does not intend to immediately introduce a £30,000 minimum income threshold for new immigrants, we do urge for any future plans [to that effect] to be abandoned. Such a threshold is not compatible with the music profession, where earnings can be less. We look forward to working with the government during the consultation period".

She added that other parts of the policy are "insufficient for musicians and the creative industries" and called on the government to instead "seek to retain existing freedom of movement rights, or failing that establish a two-year multi-entry touring visa for musicians".

UK Music is also calling for the introduction of a "touring passport", which would waive visas for musicians and crews coming to the UK temporarily.

The trade body's CEO, Michael Dugher, firmly lays into the government's proposals in his own statement, saying: "The UK music industry contributes £4.5 billion to the economy, with live music alone contributing around £1 billion. As we've made repeatedly clear, a crude salaries and skills approach to freedom to work post-Brexit just doesn't work for so many artists and musicians. We risk limiting the ability for European musicians to play in our world-leading festivals, venues and studios".

"If this approach is reciprocated by the EU and there is no visa waiver in place, we risk making it very hard, if not impossible, for so many UK artists to tour in EU", he goes on. "This is how they build an audience and frankly make any kind of living from music. It is frustrating in the extreme that there are still some people in government who have their fingers in their ears. This is utterly clueless. It's vital that we don't pull the rug from under Britain's world-leading music industry".

Announcing the white paper yesterday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Today's proposals are the biggest change to our immigration system in a generation. We are taking a skills-based approach to ensure we can attract the brightest and best migrants to the UK".

"These measures will boost our economy and benefit the British people", he concluded, despite pretty much all economic forecasts on the UK's future post-Brexit saying otherwise.


Gwen Stefani still faces injured fan lawsuit, but Live Nation is off the hook
Live Nation has successfully removed itself as a defendant in litigation relating to injuries incurred by a fan at a Gwen Stefani show in North Carolina in 2016. However, the case against Stefani herself will continue.

Concert-goer Lisa Stricklin sued both Stefani and Live Nation last year. She is seeking damages for leg injuries which occurred after Stefani called on audience members to come forward and fill empty seats during the 2016 concert at the outdoor PNC Music Pavilion venue in Charlotte.

Stricklin, who was sitting in reserved seats at the show, says that she was injured after fans responded to Stefani's call to move forward, pushing through barriers and trampling her. The injuries were the result of negligence on the part of the singer and Live Nation, Stricklin argued, while asking for more than $5 million in damages.

Both defendants tried to have the case dismissed earlier this year, but for different reasons. Stefani argued that her call for fans to move forward was protected under free speech rights in America's First Amendment. Meanwhile, Live Nation said that it should never have been included in the lawsuit in the first place because it could not have anticipated that Stefani would tell people to move to the front of the venue.

In her arguments requesting that the case be dismissed, Stefani also claimed that she could not have known that her instruction would place any concertgoers in danger. Her lawyers also cited a previous case against Ozzy Osbourne, in which a couple claimed that his music contributed to the suicide of their son. That case was dismissed after it was ruled that Osbourne could not be held liable for his speech.

Judge Robert Conrad has rejected both those arguments in this case. He states that it was foreseeable that, by initiating a mass movement of people, someone could get hurt. Meanwhile, the Osborne case was not relevant, he said, because it "involved substantive lyrics - not concert directions".

To that end, he concluded, there were no grounds to dismiss the case against the singer by summary judgement, and instead both sides' arguments should go before a jury.

However, the judge did accept Live Nation's reasons for having them removed from the case, concluding that the live music firm "did not owe plaintiff a duty to protect her from the crowd and her resulting injury because Stefani's actions were unforeseeable".

The case - without Live Nation's involvement - is now due to return to court next February.


New inquest into Radiohead drum tech death to open in March
A new inquest into the death six years ago of Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, after staging collapsed ahead of a show in Toronto, is to open next March, it has been announced. This comes after criminal proceedings in relation to the tragedy being halted in September last year, following years of delays.

After the criminal case was abandoned, the Chief Coroner of Canadian province Ontario announced that a new inquest into Johnson's death would be launched. Radiohead, who were highly critical of what happened with the criminal case, welcomed the move, but said it would "not bring those responsible for Scott's death to account, and it provides no justice for Scott and his family".

Johnson was killed and three others injured ahead of a planned Radiohead show at Downsview Park in Toronto in 2012, after a scaffolding structure collapsed onto the open-air stage on which the band were due to perform. The show was promoted by Live Nation, and the live music giant was subsequently charged under Ontario's Occupational Health And Safety Act, alongside provider Optex Staging & Services Inc and an individual engineer working on the show, Domenic Cugliari.

The criminal case reached court in 2015, but quickly started to drag. Then in June last year the judge overseeing the trial was promoted and no longer had jurisdiction. As a result a mistrial was declared and the whole case was set to begin anew. However, the defendants then argued that the entire case should instead be abandoned, citing a relatively new precedent in Canadian law designed to stop criminal cases from dragging on indefinitely.

The new judge considering the proceedings subsequently agreed that, under that new precedent, the charges against Live Nation, Optex and Cugliari should indeed be 'permanently stayed'.

The inquest is set to begin on 25 Mar, and will examine the circumstances leading up to Johnson's death. A jury will then make recommendations on how to prevent similar incidents.


Spotify denies accessing Facebook users' private messages
Spotify has denied accessing Facebook users' private messages, following a New York Times report earlier this week claiming that it was among over 150 companies given such permissions by the social media giant.

The report claims that Spotify - along with Netflix and the Royal Bank Of Canada - was given the rights to read, write and delete users' private messages, and to see all participants on a thread. This was as part of an integration that allowed users to share tracks from Spotify within Facebook Messenger. But a spokesperson for Spotify told the NYT that the company had been unaware that it had even been given such powers by Facebook.

In a subsequent statement, the streaming music firm said: "Spotify's integration with Facebook has always been about sharing and discovering music and podcasts. Spotify cannot read users' private Facebook inbox messages across any of our current integrations. Previously, when users shared music from Spotify, they could add on text that was visible to Spotify. This has since been discontinued. We have no evidence that Spotify ever accessed users' private Facebook messages".

Facebook has, however, admitted that it did give Spotify and others the option to access private data, saying in a blog post: "Did partners get access to messages? Yes. But people had to explicitly sign in to Facebook first to use a partner's messaging feature. Take Spotify, for example. After signing in to your Facebook account in Spotify's desktop app, you could then send and receive messages without ever leaving the app. Our API provided partners with access to the person's messages in order to power this type of feature".

It also said that "most of these features are now gone" but that the company recognises "that we've needed tighter management over how partners and developers can access information using our APIs".

Elsewhere in the NYT article, it is claimed that another streaming music firm, Pandora, was among several companies to enter into agreements allowing them access to data shut off to others as certain features were discontinued.


Chris Evans' Virgin Radio show secures Sky sponsorship
"I wonder how his Radio 2 audience will feel about having to listen to all those adverts", you probably said witheringly upon hearing that Chris Evans was moving from the Beeb back into commercial radio to host the breakfast show on Virgin Radio. That's just the sort of tedious thing you'd say. You're so predictable and boring. I hate you. Anyway, they won't have to, because Virgin Radio's done a "groundbreaking" deal with Sky to ensure that there will be no ad breaks whatsoever on Evan's grand new show.

Though, I suppose, that depends on what you count as an ad break. Presumably Sky isn't throwing a load of money at the show and expecting nothing in return. I'm sure Evans will have to shout out "Sky threw a tonne of money at us so that we don't have to have any stupid adverts, yay Sky!" - or words to that effect - every 30 minutes or so.

And before you think, well, hang on, Virgin Radio is owned by the Wireless Group, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News UK, and doesn't Murdoch also control Sky, so isn't this just shovelling money around the group to placate new hire Evans, you'll be forgetting that US media giant Comcast bought the Sky business earlier this year. So that can't be it. It's almost certain there'll be plenty of "blimey how good is Sky?" references on the new show.

That's not how Evans himself is spinning it. Here's a thing he said: "So much has changed in broadcasting since I was last at Virgin Radio that now, thanks to Sky, we can do the show without ad breaks. I'm even more excited about starting in the new year!"

Joining Evans in trying to make a sponsorship deal seem like the craziest thing anyone's ever thought of, Sky's UK & Ireland CEO Stephen Van Rooyen adds: "The 'Chris Evans Breakfast Show' on Virgin Radio will bring audiences something completely new, bold and fresh - everything we love at Sky. We're excited to create an innovative radio first with Chris and Virgin Radio, and bring Sky customers even more of the entertainment they love when Virgin Radio launches across Sky from 7 Jan".

Oh yeah, did I mention that you'll also be able to listen to Virgin Radio via your Sky set-up (assuming you have one) from 7 Jan? Don't tune in expecting to hear Chris Evans then though, his TOTALLY AD-FREE show doesn't start until 21 Jan. Sponsored by Sky!


On The CMU Stereo 2018 - Autumn
With the year nearly done and dusted and the festive break incoming, this week, we've been running down 40 of our favourite tracks of 2018, ten at a time, loosely grouped into seasons. Today we reveal our final list, as we come up to the present day and our autumn favourites. 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, spring and summer choices now.

This final playlist features two artists we've already included this week, in the form of the Anna remix of Jon Hopkins' 'Singularity'. The original version of the Hopkins track was on our summer list, and Anna's 'Hidden Beauties' appeared in our winter selection. Here they combine to show once again why they have been two of our favourite artists of this year.

These last ten tracks, I now realise, are actually almost all electronic of some kind, and together they show how strong that genre has been in its various forms this year. Worth singling out in particular is Marie Davidson, whose 'Working Class Woman' - a techno concept album about the producer's state of mind during the year after she relocated from Montreal to Berlin - is one of the absolute highlights of 2018.

Here's what's on our autumn playlist:

Bliss Signal - Surge
Amnesia Scanner - AS AWOL
Beak> - Brean Down
Qrion - GAF
Lawfawndah - Joseph
Marie Davidson - Your Biggest Fan
The Prodigy - Light Up The Sky
Jon Hopkins - Singularity (Anna Remix)
Grimes - We Appreciate Power (feat Hana)
Farai - National Gangsters

Listen to all ten tracks here.

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

George McFall drops pseudonyms for new album
George McFall - aka Clean George IV, aka CGIV, aka an excellent music maker whatever name he's using - has announced that he will release a new album, 'XIV:Surrounder', in February next year. And for this record, he'll be known, simply, as George McFall.

The long-awaited follow-up to his debut album (as Clean George IV) 'God Save The Clean', 'XIV:Surrounder' continues the more electronic sound heard on his run of singles as CGIV. Along with the announcement of the album comes a new single, 'Autumn'.

McFall says of the new LP: "It's a document of my attempts at overcoming self absorption, the dropping of masks, the distillation of output, [and] the never ending battle against the traps of consumerism".

Tour dates are set to be announced shortly. In the meantime, here's 'Autumn'.


Kylie Minogue confirmed for Glastonbury 'legends slot'
If you put money on Kylie Minogue finally headlining Glastonbury next year, bad luck. You're an idiot. That ship has sailed. She's a legend now and legends don't headline.

Minogue was due to headline the festival back in 2005, but had to pull out after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She has mentioned a desire to still play the event at various times in interviews over the years since then and she was among the bookies' favourites to headline in 2019. Even more so after Emily Eavis said on Radio 2 that one of the artists already booked was a woman who is "not British".

However, it's now been announced that Minogue will actually play the so-called 'legends slot' on Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury 2019 - ie the slot previously occupied by the likes of Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Barry Gibb and Shirley Bassey. Though in its announcement, Glastonbury actually referred to "the legendary Sunday afternoon slot on the Pyramid Stage", suggesting that the time rather than the artist is the fabled thing.

Confirming her intentions on Twitter, Minogue said: "I'm so THRILLED to announce that I'll be playing the 'legend slot' on Sunday 30 Jun at Glastonbury 2019. It will be fourteen years since I was originally meant to appear there and so much has happened up to now. I can't wait to see you all there to share this special show".

So, currently Stormzy remains the only headliner officially announced for next year. The Spice Girls could still be in there.


Brian May to serenade NASA spacecraft as it makes historic flyby
Queen guitarist and part-time astrophysicist Brian May has announced that he will release a new solo single on New Year's Day. Titled 'New Horizons', May's first solo release for two decades will mark the farthest ever flyby by a man-made spacecraft in history, which is when a space probe passes a planet or such like close enough to record scientific data.

The song will receive its premiere at NASA's control centre at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Greenbelt, Maryland. It is from here that the New Horizons spacecraft has been controlled since its launch in 2006. On 1 Jan, it is due to pass an object in the Kuiper Belt on the edge of our solar system named Ultima Thune.

"This project has energised me in a new way", says May. "For me it's been an exciting challenge to bring two sides of my life together - astronomy and music".

He continues: "It was Alan Stern, the Project Instigator of this amazing NASA mission, who threw down the glove last May. He asked if I could come up with a theme for Ultima Thule which could be played as the NH probe reached this new destination. I was inspired by the idea that this is the furthest that the hand of man has ever reached - it will be by far the most distant object we have ever seen at close quarters, through the images which the spacecraft will beam back to Earth".

"To me it epitomises the human spirit's unceasing desire to understand the universe we inhabit", he goes on. "Everyone who has devoted so much energy to this mission since its launch in January 2006 will be feeling they are actually inside that small but intrepid vehicle - only about the size of a grand piano - as it pulls off another spectacular close encounter. And through the vehicle's 'eyes' we will begin to learn, for the very first time, what a Kuiper Belt Object is made of. And pick up precious clues about how our solar system was born".

'New Horizons' was co-written with lyricist Don Black and also features the voice of Stephen Hawking. You can listen to a snippet of the song here, before the full track is unveiled on New Year's Day.


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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