TODAY'S TOP STORY: Downtown Music has bought DIY distribution firm CD Baby, boosting the range of services the group offers artists and songwriters, especially at the grass roots level, while also expanding the company's interests in recorded music and other digital services... [READ MORE]
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TOP STORIES Downtown Music buys CD Baby
LIVE BUSINESS MSG reveals more about its planned London venue, AEG raises concerns
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Mixcloud further expands subscriptions platform
MEDIA Richard Park stands down as Director Of Broadcasting At Global
BBC hires BBC to make next four series of 'Later... With Jools Holland'
ARTIST NEWS RZA wants in to the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame
RELEASES Decca releases soundtrack to new Attenborough documentary in eco-friendly format
AND FINALLY... Boris Johnson says European Copyright Directive is "classic" and "terrible" EU law
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Downtown Music buys CD Baby
Downtown Music has bought DIY distribution firm CD Baby, boosting the range of services the group offers artists and songwriters, especially at the grass roots level, while also expanding the company's interests in recorded music and other digital services.

Downtown Music Holdings is actually buying the AVL Digital Group, which, as well as CD Baby, includes AdRev, DashGo and Soundrop, that together offer self-releasing artists and smaller labels advertising, marketing and licensing services. The deal doesn't include AVL's physical product companies Disc Makers, BookBaby and Merchly, which will be spun off into a separate company owned by the Disc Makers management team.

Since the Downtown Records label split off to become a separate business in 2013, the focus of Downtown Music has been songs, it becoming a significant independent music publisher in its own right, while also providing administration services to thousands of other publishers and self-published writers through its Songtrust division. Though it does also have a recording studio and offers neighbouring rights services, administrating performing rights income on the recordings side.

But through the acquisition of CD Baby and its associated companies, Downtown becomes a significant player in the distribution of sound recordings as well.

CD Baby was early to market with a business that helped DIY artists distribute their music, its very name confirming that it all began pre-digital. As a US business it has always had a North American skew, though it has started to hire staff elsewhere in the world in recent years, and is still used by plenty of artists in countries where it has no formal base.

Of course, digital distribution is an increasingly competitive business, with some of the streaming services moving into the distribution space, while some distributors are expanding the services they offer and moving more into label territory. But CD Baby remains a key player in the grass roots distribution sector and sits well alongside Downtown's Songtrust on the songs side. Indeed the two companies already had a partnership.

Confirming the deal for AVL, CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux said: "This transaction will allow us to take the services we offer the independent music community to the next level. We are excited to continue to build leading platforms that help artists release, promote and monetise their music all around the world".

Meanwhile Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz added: "Tracy and his team have built a portfolio of music businesses operating at unmatched scale. AVL's technology, diverse offerings and artist-first approach are well-positioned to power some of the fastest growing segments of the industry. Beyond shared values, the acquisition of AVL expands upon our existing portfolio and represents Downtown's strategy of developing and investing in preeminent music businesses serving the full spectrum of music creators".


MSG reveals more about its planned London venue, AEG raises concerns
The Madison Square Garden Company has submitted its planning application for the new London venue it is proposing to build, the American company's first venue complex outside the US.

MSG first unveiled its plans last year to construct a musical bubble in Stratford, East London, with the high-tech performance space set to mirror one it is already building in Las Vegas. Called the MSG Sphere, the plan is for the new complex to have all sorts of VR and AR gubbins in built.

Specifics in this week's planning application include, according to IQ, that the new venue will be built on a site used as a coach park during the London 2012 Olympics and will seat 17,500, with an upper capacity of 21,500 for partially standing shows. A smaller clubby venue, café, restaurant and some nicely sculpted outdoor spaces will also be constructed.

Bigging up the project, MSG's EVP Of Development And Construction, Jayne McGivern, has said: "This is an opportunity to take an inaccessible coach park and use it to support thousands of jobs, and billions of pounds of economic benefit. Our plans make training and local hiring a priority, and would create a premiere destination that serves as a long-term investment in the future of [London borough] Newham, London and the UK".

Of course, by picking Stratford for its first UK project, MSG is proposing to plonk a new venue alongside the existing spaces in London's Olympic Park and just three tube stops down from AEG's O2 dome complex. Some would argue that you can never have too much entertainment on the east side of town. Some would argue that one more bubble is too much.

The latter group includes AEG, which responded to the planning papers by saying that - while obviously it thinks competition is a magnificent thing and therefore it would never oppose the principle of another new music venue in London - it thinks this plan is dog shit.

Well, I'm paraphrasing a little. "There is a question mark", it said yesterday "over whether such a venue should be located so close to existing venues at the Olympic Park - such as the London Stadium and Copper Box - as well as AEG's own nearby venue, The O2 Arena, and we will be scrutinising the application very carefully given concerns as to the detrimental impact of their plans".

The AEG statement went on: "It is imperative that Madison Square Garden's proposals do not add to congestion in the area, especially on the Jubilee Line which is critical for the movement of guests to and from The O2 Arena. AEG always strives to ensure that its guests have the best possible experience when they visit our venues and we will work with local stakeholders to scrutinise the application in detail and ensure MSG's plans do not affect this".


Mixcloud further expands subscriptions platform
Mixcloud has added extra functions and more partners to the subscriptions set-up it launched last year, Mixcloud Select.

The publishing platform for mix makers, radio shows and podcasters launched its subscription service last December. It allows partner content creators to charge listeners a subscription fee, which is then shared between Mixcloud, the content creator and - if music appears on the channel - the music industry.

The company says that since it set the system up in December, those who have subscribed to participating channels are spending on average 35% more time with said channels. This, it reckons, suggests that Mixcloud is becoming "a platform for deep and loyal engagement".

New features include the option to provide subscribers extra premium content while still offering the basic output to all for free. Mixcloud says that creators can use this functionality in different ways, for example: "They can make shows available to subscribers before they go public, offer bonus content that only subscribers can access, or establish a subscribers-only paywall for their archive".

Meanwhile, creators newly participating in Select include Anja Scheiner, Worldwide FM, Dekmantel, J. Rocc, The Pharcyde, DJ City and Mayer Hawthorne.

Says Mixcloud co-founder Nikhil Shah: "We're listening closely to our creator community as we build a model that enables a more sustainable future for audio culture, and this is just the beginning. We're incredibly energised by the excitement we've seen from creators and the wider industry".


Richard Park stands down as Director Of Broadcasting At Global
Global Radio has announced that Richard Park is stepping down as Director Of Broadcasting at the company after a period of ill-health.

According to Radio Today, radio industry veteran Park is on the mend, but has decided to reduce his hands-on involvement in the Global business. However, he will stay on the company's board and will take on the new role of Senior Programming Advisor.

Paying tribute to Park, Global boss Ashley Tabor told Radio Today: "Richard has been my radio mentor since I was fifteen years old. He's taught me so much, most importantly to trust my instincts and the realities of how things work in the real world. Quite simply, Global wouldn't be the company it is today without him".

For his part, Park added: "Global is in great shape and I look forward to continuing my close relationship with Ashley and his top team of highly skilled managing editors. It's a great feeling to still be a part of the biggest company in the radio business where I've had a productive and happy twelve years".


BBC hires BBC to make next four series of 'Later... With Jools Holland'
The BBC has had a long hard think about who should take its long-running music show 'Later... With Jools Holland' onwards and upwards in the coming years and has decided that the organisation probably best equipped to do that is the BBC. It's a bold new world!

The Beeb allowed other telly makes to bid to take on the production of the 'Later' show as part of its so called Compete Or Compare strategy which - the Corporation explains - underlines its "commitment to commission the best programmes for audiences, regardless of who makes them".

To ensure it got the gig to keep making the music programme over the next two years, BBC Studios went into to full-on brainstorming mode and came up with some radical new ideas about how the whole 'Later' franchise could be reinvigorated for the modern age. And fuck me if they didn't crack it. The radical new plan? Guest presenters. So bold!

Says BBC Two boss Patrick Holland: "With its unique curatorial vision and commitment to performance, 'Later... With Jools Holland' is a vital part of the BBC Two schedule. For this tender process, we asked for fresh ideas to evolve this great show and were really excited by the vision and bold thinking of the BBC Studios team. I'm confident that the winning bid will build on the show's famous history and develop it in an exciting direction".

And who doesn't like exciting new directions? No one, that's who.


CMU Insights: Latest TGE Conference updates
Last week we announced a load more information about this year's Great Escape Conference, which takes place in Brighton next May.

More than 20 speakers were added to the CMU+TGE conferences, which this year put the spotlight on music education (Wednesday 8 May), digital dollars (Thursday 9 May) and music marketing (Friday 10 May). Each strand will also include the launch of brand new research from CMU Insights.

Speakers added this week included: Camella Agabalyan, MAMA Festivals; Chloe Johnson, Dot Blockchain Media; Diane Widdison, Musicians Union; Helen Smith, IMPALA; Jason Edwards, Dice; Jane Beese, The Roundhouse; Matt Bolton, IMPEL; Matt Phipps-Taylor, PPL; Paul Dilorito, PRS For Music; and Tomas Ericsson, AMRA.

Get your delegate passes here!

RZA wants in to the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame
RZA reckons the Wu-Tang Clan should be inducted into the US Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame. He's probably right. The Clan's sort of leader spoke about the American music industry institution to Rolling Stone, admitting that he does care about accolades of this kind.

Said the producer: "I think we should [get in] and I do care. It may take some time to get in there. I think it's good for us and I think it's good for rock n roll because hip hop is a form of music that grabs from every genre, but definitely grabs from rock and roll".

If they did get in - and they are eligible, 25 years having passed since their first record - Wu-Tang Clan would not be the first hip hop act to be inducted. Although all things rap and hip hop are still poorly represented among the big list of Hall Of Fame inductees, Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, NWA and Tupac Shakur are all in there.

Continuing on his theme of the affinity between rock n roll and hip hop, he went on: "Rock and roll has a certain spirit; it was the spirit of the sixties and seventies youth. Hip hop is the eighties, nineties, up to now - the youth. It's called hip hop, but it's in the same spirit of rock n roll at the end of the day. Lyrical stories, music, unorthodox, dissonant sometimes, energetic - all the things that rock is and was hip-hop embodies".


Decca releases soundtrack to new Attenborough documentary in eco-friendly format
Universal's Decca Records will release the soundtrack to the upcoming David Attenborough fronted Netflix series 'Our Planet'. And given the programme is all about how human beings are fucking up said planet, the label has made sure that the physical release of the record has been made using super eco-friendly packaging.

The label explains: "The album packaging is an ecological material made from algae and FSC fibres - Shiro Alga Carta - developed as a way to reprocess the damaging algal blooms of the Venice lagoon into a sustainable paper product". So, now you know the science.

As for the music, the soundtrack's composer Steven Price says: "For every moment across the eight films, from scenes of epic scale to those of incredible intimacy, my focus has always been on the emotional connection that the music could provide in support of the remarkable images. My hope is that the music for these films can take the audience on a real journey, helping to inspire the changes we need to care for our home".

Of course you could stream the soundtrack - which will go live on all the streaming platforms as the Netflix series airs - which would be even more eco-friendly. Providing you stream it on a solar-powered device. That you intend to responsibly recycle. And via an internet connection powered by the wind. Actually, come to think of it, maybe just re-read Price's quote and then hum what you think the soundtrack will sound like. That way we can truly save the earth.


Boris Johnson says European Copyright Directive is "classic" and "terrible" EU law
So, when the ultimate Brexit nightmare is finally unleashed in the next few weeks and Boris 'Bullshitter' Johnson somehow becomes the most prime of all the ministers in this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, what the fuck does that mean for the implementation of the European Copyright Directive in this fair land? Because obviously that'll be your first concern once Bullshitter is in charge.

Well, even though the UK government has previously indicated it will implement the new round of EU copyright reforms, even if and when the country is no longer part of the EU, Bullshitter has indicated that that won't happen if he is in charge. "The EU's new copyright law is terrible for the internet", he declared on Twitter yesterday. "It's a classic EU law to help the rich and powerful, and we should not apply it. It is a good example of how we can take back control".

Of course, said internet was quick to point out that the more controversial elements of the copyright reforms - like the safe harbour revamping article thirteen - were passionately campaigned for by the British music community and, in the main, supported by the British government, including when Bullshitter was in the Cabinet. The music industry would also argue that the "rich and powerful" the directive helps are everyday songwriters and musicians, while the losers are the poor little tax-avoiding American mega-congloms like Google, Apple and Facebook.

But still, if Bullshitter does somehow become king, the music industry can still probably get all the copyright reforms it needs implemented in a post-Brexit UK. Just rebrand the copyright directive the Great British Copyright Reform Bill, call article thirteen the British Empire Liability Mechanic, and have all the artists sing 'Land Of Hope And Glory' on an eternal loop. Yes, taking back control is that simple.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
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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.
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