TODAY'S TOP STORY: The boss of fuck-you-all ticket touting platform Viagogo has admitted that saying fuck you to the British Parliament was one fuck you too far. But, he says, the decision not to participate in a 2017 discussion on ticketing being run by Parliament's culture select committee was the result of his company still being "naive" and "immature". The business was eleven years old at the time... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Viagogo boss admits Parliament no-show was a mistake
LEGAL Australian judge rules stream-ripping sites are involved in "industrial scale copyright infringement"
DEALS Reservoir signs RuthAnne
LIVE BUSINESS Live Nation acquires Polish promoter Go Ahead
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Apple confirms it is retiring iTunes
RELEASES Bill Ryder-Jones announces 'yawny' version of 'Yawn' album
ONE LINERS Balcony, Pixies, Cult Of Luna, more
AND FINALLY... Liam Gallagher thinks David Cameron should have "his bollocks fucking electrocuted" as punishment for Brexit
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Viagogo boss admits Parliament no-show was a mistake
The boss of fuck-you-all ticket touting platform Viagogo has admitted that saying fuck you to the British Parliament was one fuck you too far. But, he says, the decision not to participate in a 2017 discussion on ticketing being run by Parliament's culture select committee was the result of his company still being "naive" and "immature". The business was eleven years old at the time.

In a new rare interview with ITV News, Miller has now admitted that his company's parliamentary no-show in 2017 was "clearly a mistake", but he insists that it was legal issues that stopped him from participating in another select committee hearing last year.

Viagogo, of course, has long been the most controversial of the websites that facilitate the unofficial resale of tickets. It has been accused in multiple countries of deliberately misleading customers into thinking that they are buying tickets from official sources. And of ignoring those customers when something goes wrong with their unofficial tickets, despite constantly banging on about its money-back guarantee.

In the early days, Viagogo and its founder Eric Baker were always chatting about trends in the ticketing market, but as the backlash against online touting gained pace the company put up a wall of silence, refusing to respond to any of its critics for years. Which is why, when the culture select committee called for a representative of the company to answer its questions in 2017, there was at first lots of interest as to what they might say, and then little surprise when they failed to show up.

By the time the select committee staged another hearing on ticketing last year - and again called on Viagogo to participate - the controversial firm had started responding to its critics once again, usually through brief tweets. Those tweeted statements were usually used to insist that the Viagogo website complied with UK law (despite all the evidence to the contrary), to opine that promoters cancelling touted tickets were breaking the law (even though they weren't) and, on occasion, to slag off Ed Sheeran.

But would the MD of Viagogo, Cris Miller, show up to Parliament to tell MPs that his website complied with the law, promoters cancelling touted tickets were breaking the law and that Ed Sheehan is a dick? No, of course not. Though the ticket resale outfit did send an apology second time, citing ongoing legal action as a reason for why it could participate in any discussion.

The chair of the select committee, Damian Collins, was not impressed. "Consumers deserve answers to the huge volume of concerns about secondary ticketing abuse", he said at the time. "It is hard not to view this eleventh hour withdrawal cynically. Viagogo's non-attendance is a gross discourtesy, the more so given the company's failure to attend last year".

On the 2017 hearing, Miller now tells ITV: "At the time, quite frankly, we were simply naive and immature and got that wrong. We didn't really understand and appreciate the importance of what that [select committee] inquiry was all about. Looking back on it, it was clearly a mistake and we apologise for it".

"The second time I was here, in London, ready to go", he adds. "However, there were some legal preclusions for me to be able to attend, unfortunately, and I had to listen to our lawyers".

Despite regretting his company's decision regarding the 2017 select committee session, Miller insists he regrets nothing else about the way the secondary ticketing firm operates, despite all the criticism and allegations of illegal conduct. "If someone buys a ticket they have the right to resell it", he says, before defending the hiked-up prices touting creates with the customary "it is a market place, we run a platform and the market dictates the prices".

Having run through standard ticket-tout-site-excuses one and two, Miller then throws in number three before the interview ends - the one about companies like Viagogo being needed to stop touts and fans from using dodgy Russian sites to buy and sell unofficial tickets.

Before Viagogo launched in 2006, he argues, fans were going to "fake websites" to buy touted tickets, "sending their money to some crook, based in Russia or wherever it might be, and then ultimately not getting any of the tickets at all. We step in and clean the market up, and do a lot better job than people give us credit for, to make sure that customers actually get the tickets that they purchase".

Though, of course, the argument that your site is better than some dodgy Russian site because you will protect consumers is a little stronger if you actually comply with consumer protection law. Something I'm sure members of the UK Parliament would point out. If Miller ever showed up to talk to them.


Australian judge rules stream-ripping sites are involved in "industrial scale copyright infringement"
The Australian judge who issued a web-blocking order against stream-ripping sites Convert2mp3, Flv2mp3, Flvto and 2conv has concluded that the now blocked websites were "responsible for [the] piracy of music from music videos on an industrial scale".

It emerged last month that the Australian music industry had successfully secured web-block injunctions - which order internet service providers to block their customers from accessing certain websites - against the four stream-ripping operations. Streaming-ripping, of course, has been the music industry's top piracy gripe for sometime, though most web-blocks to date have tended to focus on other kinds of online infringement, especially file-sharing.

The actual judgement that orders the web-blocks against Convert2mp3, Flv2mp3, Flvto and 2conv has now been published. In it the judge writes "a quick inspection of the websites shows self-evidently that the online locations are specifically intended to facilitate the copying of soundtracks by members of the public from YouTube. It is likely that this is indeed their exclusive purpose and effect, and they do so flagrantly".

The operators of stream-ripping platforms usually argue that their websites are not liable for copyright infringement - even if they are used to make infringing copies - because they have legitimate and illegitimate uses. The judge notes how, in its FAQs, convert2mp3.net insists it is legal, presumably based on this argument.

But, the judge then adds, "the terms and conditions of use for the websites include a warranty by each user that they have permission from the owner of the copyright to copy the soundtrack". Few will read the terms, of course, so claiming to be legal in the FAQs without drawing the user's attention to their copyright obligations in the terms "merely serves to underscore the dishonesty of the website operators".

Concluding, the judge wrote: "It is plain that these websites are involved in industrial scale copyright infringement. The case for an injunction is overwhelming".


Reservoir signs RuthAnne
Music rights firm Reservoir has signed pop songwriter RuthAnne to a new worldwide publishing deal, covering her existing and future catalogue. Artists she has written for include One Direction and Britney Spears.

"I'm excited to welcome RuthAnne to the Reservoir family of extraordinary songwriters", says the company's EVP of Creative Donna Caseine. "From the hits that she's written with and for other artists to her own music, RuthAnne's songs will be played for years to come. We are honoured to be her creative partner during this exciting time in her career".

RuthAnne herself adds: "I am beyond happy to sign a publishing deal with Reservoir and join their amazing roster. I have been a fan of what Donna and the entire Reservoir team have been doing in the industry for some time now, and I'm excited for all the amazing things to come from working together".

As well as writing for others, RuthAnne is a performer herself, and is set to release her debut album later this year. Here's latest single 'Superman'.


Live Nation acquires Polish promoter Go Ahead
Live Nation has announced the opening of a new regional office in Western Poland - in addition to its existing base in Warsaw. This follows the acquisition of promoter Go Ahead, which also operates Polish showcase festival and music conference Spring Break.

"We are excited to welcome Łukasz [Minta, Go Ahead co-founder] and his team to Live Nation", says the live giant's MD for Central & Eastern Europe, Steven Todd. "Go Ahead has brought many international artists to Poland over the years and we are confident about what we can achieve together in this new era for us".

Minta himself adds: "We have enjoyed many successes over the last few years. I'm particularly proud of Spring Break which has become a real platform for local artists and a key date in the musical diary for Poland. We look forward to being a part of Live Nation, and hope that the combination of our team and the Live Nation infrastructure will keep the Polish audiences entertained for years to come".

Go Ahead is based in Poznań, where Live Nation Poland will open its new office.


Apple confirms it is retiring iTunes
As expected, Apple yesterday confirmed that it is canning iTunes, in among a flurry of announcements at the tech giant's Worldwide Developers Conference. Though, of course, that's the iTunes software, not the digital music store where you old timers can still download yourself the occasional digital music file on our wind-up clockwork dust-filled retro old-school MP3 playing device of choice. You know, like it's 2011 or something.

iTunes, of course, began life as a software package on Macs for organising and playing digital audio files, then for ripping tracks off CDs, then for buying digital music, then for buying TV shows, then for buying movies, then for downloading podcasts, then for storing e-books, then for syncing phones to laptops, then for accessing apps, and then and then and then, yeah, that's rather a lot for one bit of software to be doing. Plus, excuse me, what are all those non-tunes doing in iTunes? Get your own software package non-tune-makers!

On its mobile operating system, Apple has long since operated different apps for different content types, and a similar move on the firm's Mac OS - that runs on its desktop and laptop computers - has been frequently predicted. That that development was now imminent seemed likely when Apple launched its new TV+ video streaming service in March and confirmed that a standalone TV app would be added to Mac OS.

In a statement yesterday, Apple stated that the next version of Mac OS - dubbed Catalina - "replaces iTunes with three all-new apps that greatly simplify and improve the way Mac users discover and enjoy their favourite music, TV shows, movies and podcasts". It then added: "The new Music app for Mac is lightning fast, fun and easy to use".

Confirming the new musical app will incorporate Apple's streaming service as well as each user's own digital music collection and the iTunes download store, the statement went on: "Apple Music will help users discover great new music with over 50 million songs, playlists and music videos. And users will have access to their entire music library, whether they downloaded the songs, purchased them or ripped them from a CD. For those who like to own their music, the iTunes Music Store is just a click away".

A click away for now at least. There has been speculation at various points in recent years that Apple will shut down its download store at some point, given download sales have been in steep decline for some time and the tech giant has successfully got itself involved in the streaming boom. Though downloads were still 12% of the global recorded music market last year, so there's still some more cash to be squeezed out of that whole thing for now, I guess.


Approved: Empara Mi
Having released a string of singles over the last couple of years, Chloe Curran - aka Empara Mi - has developed a sound that increasingly mixes pop with R&B and rap influences to dramatic effect. A bold visual style to her work further holds her in your memory, as she flourishes into an impressive emerging artist.

Following on from recent single 'Crying', new track 'Blood In The Water' is filled with drama and tension, which feeds into the accompanying video.

"The video is the journey of the break-up", she explains. "It begins in a dreamlike state where everything feels safe, but suddenly you can't control the involuntary warnings flooding your brain. Slowly the walls begin to crack and the other person's colours start to show".

"I feel like everyone acts out the end of a relationship in their heads before it happens", she continues. "Maybe as a coping mechanism; to prepare ourselves for the worst and to see how we will take it. This video was meant to capture that mental snapshot, the beginning of the end and all the fighting and anxieties that come with it".

Watch the video for 'Blood In The Water' here.

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

Bill Ryder-Jones announces 'yawny' version of 'Yawn' album
Bill Ryder-Jones has announced that he will release a solo piano version of his 2018 album 'Yawn', titled 'Yawny Yawn', next month. He will also head out on a piano-only tour later this year.

"I can't remember why I thought it was a good idea to make a piano version of 'Yawn'", says Ryder-Jones. "I presume at some point I felt that the original had too much pep. [It] was actually quite fun to make, although I've since developed a dislike for the way my hands look".

The new album will be out on 26 Jul. Following festival dates through the summer, he will then head out on a 'Yawny Yawn' tour in September. Here are the dates:

24 Sep: Isle Of Man, Bar 1886
26 Sep: Reading, South Streets Art Centre
27 Sep: Margate, Tom Thumb Theatre
29 Sep: Exeter, The Phoenix
30 Sep: Southampton, The Joiners
2 Oct: London, St Mattias
4 Oct: Sheffield, Upper Chapel
5 Oct: Kendal, The Brewery
6 Oct: Manchester, Band On The Wall



TaP Music has signed Balcony to a publishing deal. The agreement comes not long after the band signed to Warner's Parlophone label for recordings. "We've loved Balcony's songwriting since we first heard their music and look forward to working with them on developing their enormous potential", says TaP.

Kilimanjaro Live owner DEAG has acquired a majority stake in German promoter C2 Concerts, a company it has previously collaborated with. "The even closer co-operation with C2 Concerts in the future will give us the opportunity to continue growing profitably with an extended value-added chain", says DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow.



Pixies have announced that they will release new album, 'Beneath The Eyrie', on 13 Sep. They will also tour the UK and Ireland the same month, including a show at London's Alexandra Palace on 20 Sep. Here's new single 'On Graveyard Hill'.

There are now two new Bon Iver songs out in the world, 'Hey, Ma' and 'U (Man Like)'.

Mark Lanegan has released new Mark Lanegan Band single 'Playing Nero'. New album, 'Someone's Knocking', is out on 2 Oct.

Dinosaur Pile-Up have released new single 'Round The Bend'. Their new album, 'Celebrity Mansions', is out this Friday.

Haiku Salut have released a new double A-side single featuring the songs 'Loves' and 'Going Back'. Both tracks appear on the band's new soundtrack to 1926 Buster Keaton film 'The General, which is set for release on 2 Aug.



Cult Of Luna have announced two UK shows in November. They will play Stylus in Leeds on 28 Nov, followed by Electric Ballroom in London on 29 Nov.

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets have announced UK tour dates in October, including a show at the Electric Ballroom in London on 22 Oct. Their new album, 'And Now For The Whatchamacallit', came out last week.

Japanese black metal/pop crossover band Necronomidol have announced a number of UK shows next month, including at The Underworld in Camden on 16 Jul. The band recently released their third album 'Voidhymn'.

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


Liam Gallagher thinks David Cameron should have "his bollocks fucking electrocuted" as punishment for Brexit
An incoming new Liam Gallagher album means incoming new Liam Gallagher quotes, and he's got things rolling already with an assessment of Brexit. Echoing the sentiments of Danny Dyer, he reckons former UK Prime Minister David Cameron should have "his bollocks fucking electrocuted" for getting us into this mess.

"I don't know what Brexit is", he tells Q. "Does anyone, really? All I do know is that David Cameron wants his bollocks fucking electrocuted for bringing it on in the first place. I like going to Europe! I like that freedom. I get that everyone is struggling, especially outside of London. But is that to do with Brexit? I don't know, man. Seems like a load of fucking bollocks to me".

He wants to watch out, he might get his Glastonbury slot cancelled with talk like that.


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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