TODAY'S TOP STORY: The legal dispute over the 2008 fire at Universal Music's Hollywood storage unit reached court yesterday, with a legal rep for the major insisting that artists do not have a right to share in any damages or insurance money that the music company collected as a result of their master tapes being destroyed... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Universal adamant it doesn't have to share 2008 fire insurance pay-out with artists
LEGAL BTS's Jungkook quizzed by police after admitting fault in car crash
DEALS Robbie Williams signs publishing admin deal with Universal
K-pop makers announce partnership with CAA
ARTIST NEWS Pharrell says Blurred Lines ruling is "bad for music"
RELEASES Villagers release new EP, The Sunday Walker
ONE LINERS Sly Stone, Graham Coxon, The Chainsmokers, more
AND FINALLY... Simon Cowell declares war on Little Mix (apparently)
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Universal adamant it doesn't have to share 2008 fire insurance pay-out with artists
The legal dispute over the 2008 fire at Universal Music's Hollywood storage unit reached court yesterday, with a legal rep for the major insisting that artists do not have a right to share in any damages or insurance money that the music company collected as a result of their master tapes being destroyed.

The 2008 fire at a facility owned by the Universal movie company became newsworthy again earlier this year after the New York Times ran a report accusing the Universal music company of covering up the scale of the losses caused by the blaze at the time of the incident. It claimed that hundreds of artists potentially lost master recordings in the fire, most of which had never been told about the losses.

While Universal's PR team went into damage limitation - insisting there were numerous errors in the NYT article while concurrently contacting those artists who were affected by the fire a whole decade ago - lawyers started approaching some of those same affected acts. A class action lawsuit then followed with Soundgarden, Hole, Steve Earle, and the estates of Tupac Shakur and Tom Petty, all listed as plaintiffs.

Universal's lawyers subsequently filed a motion seeking to have the case dismissed, and it was that proposal that was being debated in court yesterday. The major argues that some of the artists involved in the litigation didn't even lose any masters in the fire, and those that did still have access to back-up or digitised versions of the recordings on the lost tapes.

Beyond that, Universal's legal arguments mainly centre on the specifics of record contracts. Under a classic US record deal, the music firm argues, the label not the artist owns any master recordings that are created. And while the artist will have a contractual right to receive royalties whenever their recordings are exploited, that doesn't extend to sharing in insurance pay-outs and damages received in relation to warehouse fires.

According to Courthouse News, lawyer Scott Edelman, speaking for Universal, told the court: "Artists have specified rights to royalties. Everything else doesn't belong to them. Artist don't have an interest in the masters. Period. Full stop".

Edelman added that, because of back-ups, the fire hadn't stopped any of the artists involved in the lawsuit from exploiting their recordings and receiving royalties from that exploitation. But lawyers for the artists insisted that when Universal sued Universal Studios over the fire and claimed on its own insurance policy, it did so on the basis that damage caused by the blaze would have a negative impact on future income.

Moreover, the artist repping lawyers added, while the labels may own the master recordings that were lost, the artists should still share in the insurance money. Because, in addition to the royalties paid on core recorded music revenue streams, most record contracts provide a 50/50 split on any extra income generated by any other uses of any one sound recording. That principle should apply to the insurance pay-out on the lost tapes, they argued.

Alongside all that, there are also some questions around the statute of limitations and the jurisdiction of the Californian courts in relation to this case.

On the latter point, lawyers for the artists said they needed a full list of acts whose recordings were lost in the fire to inform their arguments, but that Universal continued to hamper their discovery requests. The music company has previously argued that lawyers want that list in a bid to find other clients in case it turns out the plaintiffs currently linked to the action have no claim.

The judge hearing all this hasn't as yet given any indication as to when he will rule on Universal's bid to have the whole case dismissed.


BTS's Jungkook quizzed by police after admitting fault in car crash
BTS member Jungkook is under police investigation after admitting responsibility for a car accident in South Korean capital Seoul. Exact details of what happened are unclear, but it is known that the singer crashed into a taxi on Saturday.

In a statement, BTS management company Big Hit Entertainment played down the incident, saying: "Jungkook was driving his car last week when he had a minor collision with another vehicle due to his own mistake. Both the victim and Jungkook did not sustain any major injuries".

It went on: "Jungkook admitted that he violated the Road Traffic Act immediately after the accident. The scene of the accident was resolved and police questioning was completed according to the due process, and an amicable settlement was made with the victim afterwards. We once again apologise to the victim, and we also express apologies for causing concern to fans".

Police have not commented as the investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, BTS were celebrating on Sunday, after winning the Best Tour prize at the MTV European Music Awards. The band are also up for Tour Of The Year at the American Music Awards later this month.


Robbie Williams signs publishing admin deal with Universal
Robbie Williams has signed a new global administration deal for his songs catalogue with Universal Music Publishing. The agreement, covering existing and future works, comes via his own publishing company, Farrell Music.

UMPG UK MD Mike McCormack says: "It's such a pleasure to be reunited with Robbie and his management team at ie: music after so many years. I first signed Robbie as a young, fresh faced member of Take That back in the early 90s when I was at Virgin Music and even then, he was a huge personality and a pleasure to work with. He's gone on to become a global superstar and an incredible songwriter - so it's a privilege to represent all these great songs and the new material he will be writing in the future".

The deal comes as Williams prepares to release a Christmas album titled 'The Christmas Present', only half of which will be made up of original songs. It is a double album though, so that's still plenty of new original songs to be administering. Hooray for songs. Hooray for administration. Hooray for Christmas. And hooray for Christmas songs administration.


K-pop makers announce partnership with CAA
K-pop management company SM Entertainment has announced a new partnership with talent agency CAA which will see the latter represent the former's entire roster.

Seoul-based SM Entertainment manages the likes of NCT 127, EXO, Super Junior, Red Velvet, Girls' Generation and recently created K-pop supergroup SuperM. It has been expanding its global interests of late, including via a partnership with Universal Music in the US. It has also previously worked with CAA on US-based projects, with the agency securing promotional appearances for NCT 127 and putting together a tour for SuperM.

Confirming the fuller partnership with CAA, SM Entertainment's Soo-Man Lee said in a statement: "It is a great pleasure working together with the largest entertainment and sports agency in the US. We believe that SuperM and NCT 127 will expand further to the global market together with CAA". And that is just the start of the partnership, he added, saying he'd work with the agency on launching "new visions" and "more meaningful content".

On the CAA side, the agency's President Richard Lovett said: "Seeing an SM Entertainment show is an amazing experience. Soo-Man Lee and his talented team have an incredible eye for high energy and charismatic talent. We are honoured and excited to be working with the incredible SM team to support the growth of what is already a huge fan base around the world".


Approved: No Swoon
A little over a year on from their debut EP - 'EP 1' - No Swoon return with their first album, 'No Swoon'.

The album is a constant battle between Tasha Abbott's grinding shoegaze guitars, pulling everything towards a dark dystopia, and Zack Nestel-Patt's more hopeful synths. Over the top of this, Abbot has a similar battle with herself in her lyrics - although she seems to side with the guitar more often than not.

"You know when you're talking to someone about how fucked the world is - in many ways - right now and they say 'but it's better than it used to be, we've come so far!'" she says, explaining the inspiration for recent single 'Forward'. "I hate that, 'we've come so far', it's such a cop-out. Sure we've made progress, some things are better than before and some things aren't".

"That's what this song, 'Forward' stems from", she adds. "That cop-out of an idea that things are better and great. Are the clouds really breaking, or merely moving over? Meaning are we really making progress or is whatever problem just shifting, either to someone else, or in a different form".

Abbot's creative mind is represented visually in the video for album opener 'Don't Wake Up, Wake Up', of which she says: "[It] follows two people searching for and finding themselves lost, slipping between a dream and reality. This song started from a dream of mine. Usually my dreams are very darkly lit or at night with muted colours, except there is always one or two objects that are highly saturated in a brighter colour".

If you happen to be in New York tomorrow, you can catch the duo playing an album launch show at Union Pool in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, you can watch the video for 'Don't Wake Up, Wake Up' here.

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

Pharrell says Blurred Lines ruling is "bad for music"
Aside from having to hand over millions of dollars to the Marvin Gaye estate, possibly the most annoying thing for Pharrell Williams about losing the big 'Blurred Lines' copyright case will be having to talk about it for the rest of his life.

Right now though, he's got plenty to say on the subject, and has been discussing the implications of that headline-grabbing ruling for songwriters and music as a whole with producer Rick Rubin in a new interview for GQ.

Having previously said that he's now "embarrassed" by some of the lyrics in his 2013 hit, he admits in this new interview that he did "reverse engineer" Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up' when writing 'Blurred Lines'. However, he still reckons the court ruling was wrong, because all that he took from Gaye's song was "the feeling" and you "can't copyright" that.

Williams explains that when writing music he often tries to "reverse engineer the songs that do something to [me] emotionally" with the aim of "building" something "that doesn't look the same but makes you feel the same way. I did that [with] 'Blurred Lines' and got myself in trouble".

Rubin interjects that the "trouble" he found himself in was "ridiculous" and that the two songs sound "nothing" like each other.

Agreeing, Williams says: "You can't copyright a feeling. All salsa songs sound pretty much the same. It hurt my feelings because I would never take anything from anyone. And that really set me back".

It's not just him it affects though, he says, going on: "It's bad for music because we've had an understanding of what a song is, and now based on that one case, there's a question of what a song is. It's not what it used to be because in the past, it would be the chords, the melody and the words ... It leaves us as music makers in a really uncomfortable place making things because we don't know what you can do".

Watch Williams and Rubin's full conversation here.


Villagers release new EP, The Sunday Walker
Villagers have released a new EP, 'The Sunday Walker', featuring songs left off recent album 'The Art Of Pretending To Swim'. Mmm, off-cuts.

"The tracks that fell through the cracks; it turns out they had their own story to tell", says main man Conor O'Brien. "'The Sunday Walker' EP is a collection of lost songs as much as it is an emotional arc. Songs of loss and songs of realisation. Songs of empathy and isolation".

So, there you are. Available digitally now, the EP will be released on vinyl on 22 Nov. Those physical discs will arrive just before dates in Ireland at Cyprus Avenue in Cork on 10-11 Dec and Vicar Street in Dublin on 13-14 Dec.

Here's a track from the EP, 'Did You Know'.



The Michael Jackson estate's MIJAC Music company has taken a majority stake in the publishing catalogue of Sly Stone. As well as Stone, MIJAC also represents songs by Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, plus everything Jackson himself ever wrote. This is the actual quote Stone supplied as the new deal was announced: "Thank you MIJAC (falettinme be mice elf agin)".

Universal label Geffen has signed Canadian singer-songwriter Ren after one of her tracks was featured on SoundCloud's Artists To Watch playlist. So that worked out well. Her first single for the label (her third overall) will be out next week.

YouTuber KSI has signed a recordings and publishing deal with BMG to release his debut album. "I love that BMG stand for fairness and transparency", says KSI. "This is an exciting new innovative partnership", insists BMG's Thomas Scherer.



The Mute company's music publisher, Mute Song, has joined IMPEL, the coalition of independent publishers that represents its members Anglo-American song rights for digital licensing. "We are very excited to be working with IMPEL", says Mute Song MD David McGinnis. "This is great news for IMPEL", adds IMPEL CEO Sarah Williams. It's nice that everyone's so happy.



Graham Coxon will release his soundtrack for the second series of Netflix and Channel 4 collaboration 'The End Of The Fucking World' on Friday. The show itself is available on Netflix and All4 now (Channel 4 is also airing two episodes a night, if you still watch TV the old fashioned way). From the album, this is 'She Knows'.

FKA Twigs has released new track 'Sad Day', taken from her new album 'Madgalene', which is out this Friday.

Ash have announced that they will release a 25th anniversary compilation, 'Teenage Wildlife: 25 Years Of Ash', on 14 Feb. They'll also be touring the UK to mark the occasion in March, including a show at London's Roundhouse on 27 Mar.

The Raconteurs have released the video for 'Somedays (I Don't Feel like Trying)' from their latest album, 'Help Us Stranger'.

The final album by former Victoria Falls drummer Patrick Doyle's Basic Plumbing project, following his death last year, titled 'Keeping Up Appearances', is set for release on 24 Jan. From it, this is 'Constant Attention'. Profits will be donated to CALM and LA's LGBT Center.

You famously believed Creeper when they said they'd split up last year because you're very gullible - it's all anyone's been talking about. Anyway, they played a show in London on Friday and now they've released a new single, called 'Born Cold'.

Sega Bodega has released new single 'U Suck'. The track is the first to be taken from his upcoming debut album.

The Bigo & Twigetti label has released new compilation 'Scale'. The record features new compositions by seventeen composers, each influenced by their own interpretation of the concept of scale. Listen here.



The Chainsmokers have announced that they will play Brixton Academy in London on 18 Oct next year. Tickets will go on sale on this Friday. You will then double book yourself at some point next July. You will realise you've done this on 14 Oct 2020.



It'll be the 40th BRIT Awards in February, which means... well, it means fuck all really, but the folks behind it are using it as an excuse to try to make the whole thing BETTER. This means fewer awards - although the artist-specific ones will still be gendered, despite those reports - and more performances. Some awards will be renamed - notably, the Critics' Choice will become the Rising Star Award. "We will be putting creativity, British culture and exceptional performances at the heart of the show to make BRITs night a world class celebration", claims Universal UK CEO and 2020 BRITs Committee Chair David Joseph.

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


Simon Cowell declares war on Little Mix (apparently)
Simon Cowell has DECLARED WAR on Little Mix. War! Actual war. Well, TV war. Which is almost worse. He's messing them right up by launching a new TV show that's sort of like theirs. To do that he's cancelled plans for the next series of 'X Factor' to be an 'all-star' version featuring former winners you'd forgotten about. Instead, starting next month on ITV will be 'X Factor The Band', a show that will search for a new girl group and boy band.

This is a DEVASTATING BLOW for Little Mix, who recently announced plans to front new BBC One show 'Little Mix The Search'. On that programme, a load of new pop groups will be formed, who will then fight it out to win the top prize of supporting Little Mix on tour in 2020. Set to air early next year, the show is the first project from the new TV division of Little Mix's management company Modest, which used to collaborate closely with Cowell when it had the deal to manage 'X Factor' finalists and winners.

Cowell is apparently BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS on his latest 'X' venture because he's got a beef with Modest and Little Mix, after they fell out for some reason or other last year. A falling out that apparently happened after Modest came to him and asked him to co-produce the new Little Mix telly programme. Or so he says.

Anyway, he's now going to DESTROY the Little Mix show with his own 'X Factor' pop group search. And he's doing it because he reckons they thought they were going to do the same to him by entering the talent show market and going up against an 'X-Factor' franchise that feels like it's very much on the wane.

"This is what really happened", he tells The Sun, so you know what he says next is going to be 100% accurate. "I was approached to co-produce that show last year by Little Mix's management. I told them the problem was we have a CONFLICT of interest because we are launching 'X Factor: The Band' in 2020".

"We were told their show was going to launch in 2021", he goes on. "Then we had the fall out and we find out Little Mix were bringing their show forward. Was that intentional because we are doing our show? I have no idea. But regardless, it was too much fun not to do [our show] this year. I would rather it was us doing it first. It 100% makes it more exciting there being a BATTLE".

Yeah, so Cowell is excited about the LOOMING SHOWDOWN. Or at least, he's excited about all the press coverage that it might generate, ensuring the shows are super hyped to a public who are possibly somewhat tired about the same old talent show telly formats.

And the hype machine probably needs some extra FIRE POWER. After all, talent shows that create pop groups are hardly new. I mean, there was the Girls Aloud creating 'Popstars'. And then that show that gave us One Direction, JLS and, erm, Little Mix. What was that called again? Oh yes, 'X Factor'.

The BBC and ITV going HEAD-TO-HEAD with crappy talent show formats is hardly new either. So, basically, the real story here is "more of the same from the slowly dying old school telly channels, thank fuck for the glory that is Netflix". But throw in a little "Cowell goes to battle with his former friends Little Mix" and maybe that'll pull in a few million viewers for each show.

While we wait to see if that COMBAT STRATEGY works, let's just spend a minute or so thinking about all the former 'X Factor' winners who thought they might have a second chance at a short-lived failed pop career via the 'all-star' outing of the programme.

Although the Mirror reckons that the real reason that version of the show was TORPEDOED was because Cowell couldn't persuade enough former winners to take part. So maybe we only need to spend a few seconds thinking about them. You know, like when they won 'X Factor' in the first place.


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.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights and CMU Pathways consultancy units and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
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.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
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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