TODAY'S TOP STORY: Anti-touting campaign FanFair has published new guidelines for artists and managers who want to help take on what the organisation calls "exploitative secondary ticketing". It includes the advice that artists and managers - and the agents and promoters they work with on shows - should ensure that two clear statements in particular are made upfront whenever they are promoting tickets via official channels and primary ticketing sites... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Anti-touting campaign FanFair launches new guidelines for artists and managers
DEALS Rihanna follows Jon Platt to Sony/ATV
LABELS & PUBLISHERS BMG launches new "strike force" to push UK talent in the US
LIVE BUSINESS AEG partners with Eden Project on its music programme
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING The Macbeth among the first to benefit from new funding for grassroots venues
MEDIA Smooth Radio expands further thanks to OfCom ruling
ARTIST NEWS Public to have no say in UK's 2020 Eurovision contender
AND FINALLY... Have the Stone Roses split up? Yeah
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Anti-touting campaign FanFair launches new guidelines for artists and managers
Anti-touting campaign FanFair has published new guidelines for artists and managers who want to help take on what the organisation calls "exploitative secondary ticketing". It includes the advice that artists and managers - and the agents and promoters they work with on shows - should ensure that two clear statements in particular are made upfront whenever they are promoting tickets via official channels and primary ticketing sites.

FanFair, of course, has led the music community's campaign against rampant online touting where tickets are routinely sold at a significant mark-up. Alongside political and consumer rights campaigners, they have persuaded Parliament and government to better regulate the UK ticket resale market, both by introducing new rules and enforcing existing laws.

Concerns remain about certain tactics employed by ticket touts and the resale platforms they utilise. However, even rogue operator Viagogo is a more transparent operation in the UK than elsewhere in the world. That's due to consumer rights rules and efforts made by the Competition & Markets Authority to enforce them.

That said, alongside its new guidance, FanFair notes a recent YouGov poll where, of the gig-goers surveyed, 79% agreed with the statement that "too many tickets end up on resale sites for inflated prices". And 67% said that "artists should do more to prevent tickets for their gigs being sold at an inflated price by ticket resellers".

As the industry-led part of the anti-touting movement, FanFair has spent as much time trying to educate and support the music community as it has pressuring government and others to enforce the rules.

It's with that remit in mind that the group has now published the new guidelines. Because, while some artists - especially bigger name acts with sell-out shows - may employ full-on anti-touting tactics, there are also simpler things everyone can do.

The two things that FanFair recommends artists clearly state whenever they are promoting shows are that "tickets are for consumers only to purchase" and that "audiences are permitted to resell tickets for the price they paid or less".

Many artists and promoters now facilitate face value resale by allying with a platform that specifically enables such a thing. Many primary ticketing sites can now handle this process directly, and there are standalone sites for the face value reselling of tickets. Assuming the artist and promoter have set up such a thing, that should also be clearly stated, FanFair says.

It adds: "While some artists will continue to employ more comprehensive anti-touting strategies, these cost-free measures aim to empower a wider range of acts to prevent exploitation of their audiences while promoting fairer ticket resale practices".

Of course, as the industry experiments with different approaches to tackling the touts, there are learning curves, and sometimes efforts to protect consumers can also annoy consumers, or at least some of them.

There was some criticism of Ed Sheeran's UK promoter Kilimanjaro recently for not allowing fans who try to resell tickets through endorsed channels to do so at less than face value. That policy meant that, where shows hadn't sold out, fans would usually opt to buy from the primary agent, even though some other fans might have been willing to resell a ticket at below face value in order to recoup some of their outlay.

The promoter, which has been particularly prolific in battling online touting, said: "Whilst we understand the frustration of someone who is unable to resell and wants to drop the price accordingly to give themselves a better chance of recouping some of their money, unfortunately this throws up more questions than answers".

Kilimanjaro's main argument was that it didn't want other Sheeran fans to suddenly see tickets available through official channels at cheaper prices than they originally paid.

Which may be a legitimate concern, though the norm on the face value resale sites is that a reseller can undercut the face value of a ticket to secure a sale - hence the suggested statement from FanFair to that effect.

Those more proactively trying to fight the touts will continue to experiment, no doubt, sometimes with some unintended negative outcomes too. But campaigners agree that whatever tactics are employed, the more transparent everyone can be - and that includes the Viagogos of this world - the better.

Commenting on the new guidelines, FanFair Campaign Manager Adam Webb says: "The message from audiences remains pretty clear and consistent. They're still sick of exploitative online ticket touts, and they expect artists, event organisers and venues to do something about it. And here's the good news: they can".

He goes on: "The UK is now leading the way in the fightback against unscrupulous secondary ticketing practices. Artists have been empowered to take action. There's a number of strategies they can pursue, but the no-cost recommendations in this guidance are open to all. As well as disrupting the practices of dedicated touts, our aim is that they will help promote a fairer and more transparent ticketing market".

The new guidelines are available here.


Rihanna follows Jon Platt to Sony/ATV
Rihanna has followed music publishing exec Jon Platt to his new hang-out, signing a new worldwide publishing deal with Sony/ATV.

She was previously signed to Platt's former employer Warner/Chappell, and before that Platt's former former employer EMI Music Publishing. Platt, of course, became CEO of Sony/ATV earlier this year. That's the Sony/ATV that also now encompasses EMI. Meaning that Platt's former former employer is now basically his employer, while Rihanna's former former publisher is now basically her publisher. That's all fun isn't it?

Confirming the new deal, which covers the music star's catalogue to date and future works, Platt said: "I'm proud to have known Rihanna since the beginning of her career. Music, fashion, philanthropy and a heart of gold have solidified Rihanna's position as one of the biggest icons in the world. It is an honour to be reunited with her at Sony/ATV".

The press release announcing all this then dedicates 269 words to explaining who Rihanna is, just in case there was any doubt. Tl;dr: She's definitely done stuff.


BMG launches new "strike force" to push UK talent in the US
BMG is launching a new international team that will seek to more proactively push UK artists and songwriters in the US market. Dubbed a "strike force" and a "first" for the UK industry, the music rights firm says that the new team "will explicitly address the emerging gap for UK artists in music's biggest market with the switch to streaming consumption".

That statement alludes to record industry data that shows that, in America, British talent is not performing as strongly on the streaming services when compared to more conventional album sales. Stats from record industry trade group BPI show that, while the UK industry had a 12.6% share of US album sales in 2018, its share of the streaming market was 7.6%.

There are various explanations for that trend, in particular the huge popularity of home-grown urban music on the American streaming platforms.

However, according to BMG boss Hartwig Masuch, there are more logistical reasons too. He said yesterday: "The problem for UK artists is that US-based companies naturally tend to favour their local repertoire. Our view is that UK artists and songwriters deserve better than that. We need to ensure we maximise their success in the US".

The new 'strike force' will have bases in London, New York and LA, and will focus in particular on performer-songwriters, seeking opportunities for both songs and recordings in the US. The team will work British acts from across the BMG roster, including new, established and heritage acts.

Heading up this new operation will be Ian Ramage, who previously had a long career within the majors, with stints in both labels and publishing. More recently he has been working in academia while consulting on various music business projects, including for BMG.

Confirming all this, BMG's VP Repertoire & Marketing Alistair Norbury said: "This is a distinctive service which cuts across the traditional dividing lines of music publishing and recordings, which plays to our strength as the only fully-integrated international music company. Ian Ramage is amply qualified to take on this role and we are delighted he has committed to BMG".


AEG partners with Eden Project on its music programme
AEG Presents has announced a new partnership with The Eden Project which will see the live firm get involved in the music programme staged at the Cornish biomes each year, aka the Eden Sessions.

The joint venture will see a new company set up called Eden Sessions Ltd. Although the new business will be able to tap into AEG's global networks, it will be run by Rita Boe, who has headed up the Eden Sessions programme for eight years now. The programme's long-time booker John Empson will also continue to lead on bookings.

Confirming the new partnership, the boss of the Eden Project, Gordon Seabright, said: "In eighteen years, the Sessions have established an excellent reputation in the industry and with concert-goers. Our exciting new venture with AEG Presents teams Eden with the global leader in live music. It will give us more national and international reach and help us spread Eden's mission even further".

Speaking for AEG Presents, its co-CEOs Steve Homer and Toby Leighton-Pope said in a joint statement: "People use the word 'iconic' a lot but the Eden Sessions fully deserves that description. They are innovative and the roll call of artists who have performed at Eden speaks for itself. They stand for quality as do we and we're both dedicated to giving music fans a brilliant gig experience every time. This partnership is a big moment for us and we're sure it will deliver great things".


The Macbeth among the first to benefit from new funding for grassroots venues
London venue The Macbeth has been confirmed as one of the first recipients of a grant under the grassroots venue centric funding scheme launched by Arts Council England at The Great Escape back in May.

That new funding scheme saw ACE ring-fence £1.5 million of the monies available via its National Lottery project grants scheme to support grassroots music venues. It has collaborated with the Music Venue Trust on the programme, which has in turn been offering advice and support to venues wanting to apply for the funds.

Confirming that his venue's application for £15,000 in funding had been successful, The Macbeth's Mark Robinson said: "The last ten years have been incredibly challenging. We know that hundreds of venues across the country were forced out of business and we really struggled to get through very tough times. This turns a corner for us, with a grant that will enable us to support and develop our programme".

"Arts Council England funding really puts us on the map as not just a great night out, but also a culturally important space that really matters to artists and to audiences", he noted. "We would like to thank ACE for the opportunity of this fund and to thank Music Venue Trust for all the support they have given us in the last few years. To all the other venues out there thinking about applying: if The Macbeth can do it, you can too".

ACE's Head Of Music, Claire Mera Nelson, added: "Arts Council England's Supporting Grassroots Live Music Fund was created in response to the needs of small venues across the country just like the Macbeth, and we are delighted that they have been successful in obtaining a grant to support a developing and expanding programme"

Speaking for the Music Venue Trust, Mark Davyd said: "This is another huge step in recognising the cultural value of our grassroots music venues and we are so delighted it is the Macbeth that is leading the way. Mark and his team at the venue have been through every kind of challenge you can imagine, only recently having to engage again with our emergency response team for support on a licensing review. Their success demonstrates that this really is a fund grassroots music venues can apply to and get support from".

The Music Venue Trust's Venues Day event takes place in London next month and further support will be on offer there in relation to the new ACE funding. Davyd adds: "At Venues Day we want to make sure that every venue that wants to make an application has the skills and the opportunity to do so".


Smooth Radio expands further thanks to OfCom ruling
Global Radio's Smooth brand is expanding once again, although this time courtesy of licensing partner Communicorp. The local radio station in Peterborough and Kettering, Connect FM, will merge with Smooth Radio East Midlands next month.

Communicorp acquired Connect FM off Adventure Radio earlier this year. Most of the media firm's UK radio outlets license in brands and programming from Global, meaning it operates Capital, Heart and Smooth stations, including Smooth Radio East Midlands.

Merging Connect FM with the East Midlands outlet of Smooth - which has its own locally made breakfast show, but otherwise takes national Smooth programming from Global in London - required approval from media regulator OfCom.

Mainly because of rules over just how local locally-made programming has to be. Because Connect FM and Smooth Radio East Midlands fell into different OfCom 'approved areas', Communicorp needed the regulator to recognise a new 'approved area' that contained both stations to allow them to share local content.

OfCom confirmed it was doing just that last week, saying: "We have approved format change requests for the Connect FM services ... which will allow them to provide their locally-made programming from anywhere within this new approved area, and to share this programming with ... the East Midlands service. The two Connect FM services will be rebranded as 'Smooth Radio' as a result".


Approved: Paige Kennedy
Since being released earlier this year, Paige Kennedy's most recent single 'Finga' has started a snowball roll, bringing her remarkable songwriting talent to a growing number of new fans.

She combines a wide range of influences from across multiple genres, applying each influence in a way that really services the song, rather than just doing it for experimentation's sake. Its spiky, angular delivery builds to a strong and satisfying crescendo.

What's more pleasing is to discover a well-formed back catalogue of tracks that show off Kennedy's versatility as a writer and performer. Her broad influences bring a wide range of sounds to all of her songs, but each is made distinctly her own. All of which makes it exciting to see what she'll do next.

You can next catch Kennedy live supporting Diving Station at Yes in Manchester on 3 Oct. Right now, listen to 'Finga' here.

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

Public to have no say in UK's 2020 Eurovision contender
Given that we all know what happens when you consult the British people about anything to do with Europe, the BBC has sensibly announced that it will no longer stage a public vote to decide what nonsense the UK sends to the Eurovision Song Contest each year.

Although, the public has been cut out of that decision before and songs chosen by BBC execs didn't fare much better. Which is why the broadcaster has decided to bring a music industry partner into the decision making process from 2020. And what a mighty fine plan that is. Because, now that the pre-eminent team over there at BMG are on board, at least, we know for certain, the BBC will have someone else to blame when it all goes to shit.

"Our commitment to finding the right song has never been higher", reckons BBC Controller of Entertainment Commissioning Kate Phillips, "and this collaboration with BMG, who have access to world class songwriters, is a genuinely exciting prospect and I am certain that together we can find the best song and artist possible for 2020".

The partnership with BMG has been struck up by the BBC's commercial wing BBC Studios, the Creative Director of which, Mel Balac, says: "The Eurovision Song Contest is a huge global event and our collaboration with BMG marks an important turning point for the UK at Eurovision. We very much hope this marks the start of an exciting new chapter".

That new chapter presumably being titled 'The Year When Music Making Powerhouse The United Kingdom Stopped Coming Last At The Eurovision Song Contest'.

Speaking for the BMGs, the music firm's Alistair Norbury adds: "Eurovision is the biggest television showcase for music in the world and it's an honour to be selected to help choose the UK's entry at Rotterdam 2020. Eurovision plays to our strength as the only fully-integrated publishing company and record label. We can't wait to get started working with the BBC to give it the best possible shot we can".

The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest takes place in the Netherlands next May. By which time the queue at the post-Brexit UK border will probably be so long, the BMG selected UK entrant won't get to the show on time. But at least then they can't actually come last.


Have the Stone Roses split up? Yeah
What are The Stone Roses up to these days? It's what everyone's asking, isn't it? Everyone. No one ever shuts up about it. True, Ian Brown off of the Stone Roses basically said on stage two years ago that the band was splitting up again, and they've done nothing since then, but why should that mean nothing's happening?

It could be happening. They could be doing something more. They could be doing loads more. They could be planning the loads more right now. Touring! Records! A VR show! A cruise! Two weeks at Butlins! The possibilities are endless. So, come on now, let's all ask ourselves, have The Stone Roses really split up? "Yeah", says John Squire off of the Stone Roses.

Elsewhere in a new interview with The Guardian, Squire also gives some insight into his famously strained relationship with Brown, saying "no" and also "no" when posed two questions about his former bandmate. It's all very insightful.

It is, of course, more than a decade now since Squire confirmed that he had "no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses" by participating in any kind of reunion. Before then deciding to reform the band after meeting up with Brown at a funeral two years later.

Then, in 2017, Ian Brown finished a Stone Roses show by saying, "Don't be sad it's over, be happy that it happened". And they've done nothing together since. But did that mean they had actually split up again? Probably, but not certainly. Hence The Guardian's question.

To be fair, Squire's monosyllabic answers on all things Stone Roses are part of an interview where he was aiming to talk about his latest art show. In it he notes that, whenever he does the press circuit to promote his art, he's used to journalists asking a one or two general questions about his paintings before trying to figure out what the "scoop is on the band".

If the scoop is that there is no scoop, then I suppose you can see why that would be annoying for Squire. Though if the scoop is that, despite them insisting there is no scoop, there is, in fact, a scoop, you can see why journalists keep asking.

Anyway, you can see Squire's new art show, 'Disinformation', at the Newport Street Gallery in London until 10 Nov. Will The Stone Roses reform to perform in the gallery at some point next month? If you see John, you should definitely ask him.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU InsightsCMU Pathways and CMU:DIY.
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CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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