TODAY'S TOP STORY: Taylor Swift has said that the music industry needs to "think about how we handle master recordings", while confirming she plans to veto any sync deals on the song rights side until she has new versions of her old albums to license. This was all said in a wide-ranging interview with Billboard, but you only really care about the ongoing Big Machine beef, right... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Industry needs to rethink master rights conventions, says sync deal blocking Taylor Swift
DEALS Hipgnosis signs Jack Antonoff
MEDIA Lifetime announces dates for two more Surviving R Kelly documentaries
Classic FM gives chart show the boot
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Andy Heath to leave UK Music
RELEASES Boomtown Rats announce first album for 36 years
ONE LINERS Sam Sumser, Stomzy, Chester Bennington, more
AND FINALLY... BBC announces Sound Of 2020 longlist
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Industry needs to rethink master rights conventions, says sync deal blocking Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has said that the music industry needs to "think about how we handle master recordings", while confirming she plans to veto any sync deals on the song rights side until she has new versions of her old albums to license. This was all said in a wide-ranging interview with Billboard, but you only really care about the ongoing Big Machine beef, right?

Swift, of course, has been beefing big time with her former label since it was bought by Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings earlier this year. Big Machine controls the recording rights in all but her most recent album, and she expressed dismay that Braun would now ultimately own those masters, accusing the artist manager of bullying her in the past.

The musician said she'd fought to regain control of the master rights in the albums released under her original Big Machine deal, but without success. Big Machine countered that it had offered her the option to reclaim the masters as part of a second deal with the label, but she had declined and instead jumped ship to Universal. There was then a dispute about what exactly had been discussed when Big Machine was trying to re-sign its biggest star.

Then Swift announced that she was planning to record new versions of her old records as soon as re-record restrictions in her Big Machine contract expire. This, of course, led to subsequent claims that the label was trying to veto Swift's active projects unless she committed to not do any re-records and to stop bad mouthing Braun on social media.
Talking to Billboard after it declared her Woman Of The Decade, Swift was asked about her role in standing up for artist rights.

"We have a long way to go", she replied. "I think that we're working off of an antiquated contractual system. We're galloping toward a new industry but not thinking about recalibrating financial structures and compensation rates, taking care of producers and writers".

Moving the conversation closer to her ongoing Big Machine dispute, she went on: "We need to think about how we handle master recordings, because this isn't it". What she really means by that is who owns the copyrights in an artist's sound recordings, and for how long?

In most countries, when labels sign artists, they take the recording rights in any tracks that are then released under the deal, traditionally for 'life of copyright'. So the label will control the rights in the recordings for as long as the copyright exists (the length of copyright terms varies around the world, and according to the kind of copyright, but for recordings, it is 70 years after release in Europe, and 95 years in the US).

Swift is distinguishing between recording rights and song rights because, with the latter, things work differently. When songwriters sign with publishers, not all elements of the song copyright are always fully assigned to the publisher, and any assignment that does take place will usually be for a fixed number of years, after which the rights will revert to the writer.

Or that's how it works in Anglo-American markets today. Life of copyright assignments used to be common in publishing too, and plenty of writers from the 20th Century are stuck in those deals today. Plus life of copyright deals do still exist in publishing elsewhere in the world, so it's not always the case that things are better with songs than recordings.

And actually, in the record industry, fixed term assignments - where a label takes the rights for a time, and then they revert to the artist - are becoming more common too.

Indie labels led in this domain, seeking to compete with the majors by offering shorter term assignments rather than bigger upfront advances and marketing budgets. The option for artists to self-release and ally with a music distributor has also opened up new options for said artists, which in turn has made some labels much more flexible on record deal terms.

Though life of copyright deals are still signed on the recordings side, especially with new talent, and especially when signing to a major label. Which why it is slightly ironic that, in the world of Swift, it's an indie being portrayed as the anti-artist rights-grabber, while her new label partner Universal is the hero. Though you don't see the mega-major moving to short term assignment deals with new signings or returning the rights it secured from old record contracts. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Swift took to Tumblr to rant about that.

"When I stood up and talked about this, I saw a lot of fans saying, 'Wait, the creators of this work do not own their work, ever?'", she added about her own master rights battle with the Big Machine. "I spent ten years of my life trying rigorously to purchase my masters outright and was then denied that opportunity".

In the past some superstar artists have been able to negotiate back some or all of their master rights as part a second or third deal with the same label. Labels use that option to try to keep their big name acts on the roster. Which is basically what Big Machine tried to do when it was seeking to persuade Swift to sign a new record contract.

"I want to at least raise my hand", Swift went on, "and say, 'This is something that an artist should be able to earn back over the course of their deal - not as a renegotiation ploy'".

And as for third parties who you may or may not approve of buying your catalogue off your former label, "artists should maybe have the first right of refusal to buy", she added. "God, I would have paid so much for them! Anything to own my work that was an actual sale option, but it wasn't given to me".

That's an interesting proposal. Maybe Swift could pen another Tumblr post calling on Universal to offer all of its artists the option to buy back their rights ahead of Vivendi's deal to sell Chinese web giant Tencent a 10% stake in the mega-major!

At least Swifty is making music in a country and an age where song rights usually revert quite quickly. "Thankfully, there's power in writing your music", she told Billboard.

"Every week, we get a dozen sync requests to use 'Shake It Off' in some advertisement or 'Blank Space' in some movie trailer, and we say no to every single one of them", she added. "And the reason I'm re-recording my music next year is because I do want my music to live on. I do want it to be in movies, I do want it to be in commercials. But I only want that if I own it".

So, basically, there'll be no more sync deals involving Swift's music in the short term, because the sync licensee would need permission from both Big Machine on the recordings side and Swift on the songs side. But as soon as those re-records are done, meaning Team Swift can license both, it will be sync-tastic party time, with Big Machine not invited.

Artists re-recording old tracks once record contracts allow for the purposes of sync licensing - rather than commercial release - is more common.

Partly because labels and publishers are generally squeamish about commercially releasing an artist's re-records, not wanting to kickstart a turf war with their competitors, who could go after artists whose old recordings they control. And partly because sync clients often only need the hook, so it doesn't matter if the new recording isn't entirely faithful to the original.

While quite what Swift plans to do with her future re-recordings isn't yet clear, she is definitely looking forward to reworking those old records. "It's going to be fun", she said in the Billboard interview, "because it'll feel like regaining a freedom and taking back what's mine".

"When I created [these songs]", she continued, "I didn't know what they would grow up to be. Going back in and knowing that it meant something to people is actually a really beautiful way to celebrate what the fans have done for my music".

Lovely. But what negative impact will Swift's re-records have on big bad Big Machine? That is, after all, part of the motivation. Well, we don't know. Though the private equity firm that bank-rolled Braun's Big Machine purchase is optimistic it will still see a return on its investment in Swift's original recordings, even if new versions are out there.

The boss of that private equity set up, the Carlyle Group's Kewsong Lee, did a good job of skirting around questions about Big Machine's big Swifty bust up when questioned about it on CNBC this week, stressing that he is not "involved in the day-to-day of all of our portfolio companies". However, he said: "I've got every confidence in the world that it's going to turn out to be a successful investment".

But I guess he would say that, wouldn't he? And whatever you think about the Swift v Big Machine debacle - and whoever's side you take - it will be interesting to see in what way she goes through with her re-records project, and what impact it does indeed have.


Hipgnosis signs Jack Antonoff
The Hipgnosis Songs Fund has, of course - you now this, because it's a daily occurrence - signed another deal to acquire some quality music rights that its investors can hopefully make a neat little return on.

This time it's the songs of Jack Antonoff, who in recent years has built up an impressive list of co-writes with the likes of Taylor Swift, St Vincent, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Zayn Malik, and more. He was also in the band Fun, but don't hold that against him.

"I consider Jack to be amongst the most elite creators of our time", says Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis. "The songs he has co-created with Fun, Taylor Swift, Lorde, St Vincent and Lana Del Ray are sublime and the very best in pop music with integrity. It's a great privilege to welcome Jack into the Hipgnosis Songs family and we are very excited to be working together".

Antonoff and his manager Tyler Childs add in a joint statement: "It's an honour to partner with the Hipgnosis Songs family. Merck and his team have a great reverence for the craft of songwriting and have created a home where artistic integrity is at the forefront. We look forward to this new chapter".

Hipgnosis will not own Antonoff's catalogue outright, because he's retaining a stake for himself, but he will work closely with the investment firm on the management of his songs.


Lifetime announces dates for two more Surviving R Kelly documentaries
US TV network Lifetime has confirmed that next month it will broadcast 'Surviving R Kelly Part II: The Reckoning', following on from last year's headline grabbing documentary series about the many sexual abuse allegations made against the pop star.

Those allegations were hardly new when Lifetime aired the original 'Suriving R Kelly' programmes last January. But the series had a major impact, with many of Kelly's business partners quickly breaking their ties with the star, or publicly announcing they'd stopped working with him already.

Then the criminal investigations began into allegations made by multiple women, both in the programme and elsewhere. Kelly was subsequently arrested and denied bail. He remains in jail awaiting trials in both Chicago and New York, with a further trial in Minnesota also set to take place.

Lifetime will present two more programmes about the controversy on 3 and 4 Jan. The first will look at the immediate impact of the original airing of 'Surviving R Kelly' (something Lifetime actually did in an earlier follow-up programme in May) and document events over the last year.

The second will feature a series of interviews with music industry execs, legal people involved in the case, and some of the women who have accused Kelly of abuse. It will also speak to Jim DeRogatis, the American journalist who wrote for years about the allegations against Kelly and the secret legal settlements with the star's alleged victims.

As well as all that, the broadcaster also adds that new accusations will be made against the singer during the new programmes. Kelly, of course, continues to deny all of the allegations that have been made against him.

Following the announcement of 'Part II', Kelly's ex-wife Drea told TMZ that she plans to sue Lifetime after she was included in the trailer promoting the new programmes. She says it misleads audiences to think that she was involved in them, which she says she was not.

She is not supporting her former husband, but says that she received a negative backlash after the original show aired and is angry that producers did not, as she sees it, offer the correct support for her and other women who took part in the series after it was shown.


Classic FM gives chart show the boot
Classic FM has announced a re-jig of its schedule, which includes new presenters and the end of its weekly chart show. In a real kick in the teeth for weekly sales counts, the chart show is being replaced by David Mellor.

The classical music focussed commercial radio station has had a chart show since it launched in 1992, originally hosted by Paul Gambaccini, then Mark Goodier, and most recently composer John Brunning. The programme currently airs on Sundays from 5-7pm, rounding up all the best-selling classical albums of the week, as compiled by the Official Charts Company.

Andre Rieu is currently number one, if you were wondering. And also number seven and number twelve. And, if you want to go past the top 30 albums that Classic FM runs through, he's at number 34, number 40 and number 42 as well. Ed Sheeran's got nothing on Andre.

Anyway, possibly because the chart is boring and dominated by a handful of big names - Aled Jones & Russell Watson, Andrea Bocelli, Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter and the Kings College Choir all also have multiple entries - the show is being canned.

Brunning - the only presenter to have been on the station since it began broadcasting - will continue to present the weekday drivetime show from 5-7pm and the 7pm edition of 'Smooth Classics' that follows it (Margherita Taylor offering another three hours of smoothness at 10pm). In another change to the Sunday schedule, Charlotte Hawkins will now host a new Sunday edition of 'Smooth Classics At Seven'.

Moving into the hole left by the chart show will be David Mellor, who is shifting forward his current Sunday evening show. Despite what I said earlier, people apparently like David Mellor on Classic FM. Funny old world.

When this and various other schedule changes come into force on 5 Jan, the station will also have a new presenter in the form of news man John Humphrys, who was finally shunted off Radio 4's 'Today' programme earlier this year. Humphrys guest presented Classic FM's breakfast show in October, which seems to have gone well. He's now been invited back to present a new weekly Sunday afternoon show from 3-5pm.

Humphrys says: "How could I resist a music station like Classic FM after a lifetime on the news beat! It's proof positive that there really is a life after politics. And a rather more inspiring one at that".

Adds Sam Jackson, Classic FM's Senior Managing Editor: "As we launch our new Sunday schedule on Classic FM, it is fantastic to welcome John Humphrys to our weekend line-up. We had a hugely positive reaction from our listeners when John guest-presented Classic FM's 'More Music Breakfast' in October, so we are really pleased he has made the UK's most popular classical music station his home".

"With Charlotte Hawkins hosting our new Sunday evening edition of 'Smooth Classics At Seven'", Jackson goes on, "and a new timeslot for the ever-popular David Mellor, we look forward to welcoming more listeners to Classic FM in 2020".

For those still desperate to hear a classical music chart on the radio in some form, Classic FM's new rival Scala Radio runs through the classical singles top 20 every Saturday from 10am. So there's still that. And if you all tune in, that'll be some listeners for Scala! Though, that said, surely it's time to just give all chart shows the boot now, what with the modern music charts being entirely pointless and all that.


Andy Heath to leave UK Music
Just days after the CEO of cross-sector trade group UK Music, Michael Dugher, announced his departure from the organisation, its Chair Andy Heath has followed him.

Music publisher Heath has overseen UK Music since it was created in 2008, it morphing out of an earlier organisation called British Music Rights that brought together songwriters and publishers and their collecting society PRS. UK Music, chaired by Heath and initially run by Feargal Sharkey, expanded that concept by also bringing in trade groups representing labels, musicians and managers. The live sector subsequently joined in too.

"The time is right for me to make way for a successor", says Heath. "Indeed, I intended to step down before Michael Dugher was appointed [in 2017], but felt it was right to support Michael in his, then, new post. I'm THRILLED that I did that as UK Music has risen to new achievements under his leadership. Building on the impressive legacy of [previous CEO] Jo Dipple, UK Music is now a truly respected organisation in Westminster, Whitehall, the media and within the industry itself".

"I'm immensely proud to have been part of the UK Music story, but I have to mention the part that Feargal Sharkey played all those years ago", he continues. "We did it together and it has been a privilege to build what we have today. When we started legislators and commentators generally regarded the music industry in a very confused and not always complimentary light. We did not have the ear of government and were seen as a slightly disreputable industry".

"That has all changed now and it is entirely down to the members of UK Music finding and expressing a common and constructive voice, which is now, not only heard, but sought out for information and opinion", he concludes. "The value to the Treasury is now also universally accepted".

Indeed, the top line stat contained in UK Music's annual report on the value of the music business to the British economy is regularly repeated back to the industry by politicians. And this year that big stat increased sharply, as the organisation re-jigged its methodology to include a broader range of music-related companies.

Heath will actually stand down as UK Music chair next year. The also-not-quite-out-of-the-door-yet Dugher commented on Heath's departure: "Personally, I think he should now be deployed to sort out the Middle East peace process".

As far as we know, Heath has no current plans to do that, and will instead continue in his main role as the chair of Beggars Music.

Replacements for Heath and Dugher are yet to be announced.


On the CMU stereo 2019 - Spring
It's time for part two of our playlist rounding up 40 of our favourite tracks of 2019. Now, in our loose grouping of releases by season, we reach spring. While our winter playlist features a heavy dose of pop, things turn more experimental here.

At the most extreme end of that experimentation is probably Holly Herndon, who built her own singing AI to collaborate with on a record that ends up surprisingly warm and human as a result.

Elsewhere there's Dave, whose psychotherapy-themed concept album is a continuously rewarding record, and a deserving winner of that Mercury prize. For this playlist, we've selected the album's opening track, 'Psycho', which, like all good musicals, sets up the story about to unfold, and as a result has numerous emotional u-turns.

As well as experimentation, this playlist also features some real attention to the craft of songwriting. There are some wildly different examples of writing engaging and exciting music that lives on in the memory long after it's been heard.

Listen to all 20 tracks we've revealed so far in our Spotify playlist here, and take a look at the most recent ten here:

Shhe - Eyes Shut
Dave - Psycho
The Comet Is Coming - Summon The Fire
Lafawndah - Storm Chaser
Night Works - The Weapon
Aldous Harding - Fixture Picture
The Chemical Brothers - The Universe Sent Me (feat Aurora)
Holly Herndon - Frontier
Caterina Barbieri - Fantas
Foals - In Degrees

Boomtown Rats announce first album for 36 years
Next year is the Chinese year of the rat, which the Boomtown Rats have taken as an indication that they should release their first studio album since 1984 (also a year of the rat, as were BR album free 1996 and 2008). The band will also tour, while frontman Bob Geldof will publish a book of lyrics.

Asked if the world really needs another Boomtown Rats record, Geldof says: "I couldn't give a shite. We do, and that's enough. I love this record. It just feels absolutely right".

"That's what bands do", he continues. "They make records. Songwriters write songs. There's so much to respond to in this new and different febrile atmosphere that we live in. People forget we took our name from Woody Guthrie, the great musical activist".

"I think The Boomtown Rats have always shown that rock n roll is a form of musical activism", he adds. "The music has intent and purpose even if that is just the sound, about boy/girl, nothing particularly at all, everything in general, or pointed polemical... whatever".

So, the album, titled 'Citizens Of Boomtown', is out on 13 Mar (as is that book). The first single, 'Trash Glam Bay', will be out on 10 Jan. Tour dates are also scheduled to begin in March. Here they all are:

26 Mar: Brighton, The Dome
27 Mar: Cheltenham, Town Hall
15 Apr: Birmingham, Town Hall
17 Apr: Liverpool, Grand Central Hall
18 Apr: Cardiff, The Great Hall
24 Apr: Cambridge, Corn Exchange
25 Apr: York, Barbican
29 Apr: Manchester, The Ritz
1 May: London, The Palladium
2 May: Gateshead, The Sage

Based on the current pattern, by the way, the next Boomtown Rats album is due out in 2056.



Reservoir has signed Sam Sumser, co-writer of Lizzo's 'Juice', to a worldwide publishing deal. "Sam is such an impressive talent. Not only is he able to work effortlessly across genres with a tremendous amount of success, but his work ethic is unparalleled", says John Ozier, Reservoir's EVP Creative.



Stormzy has released new track 'Audacity' featuring Headie One. His new album, 'Heavy Is The Head', is out tomorrow.

Chester Bennington's first band Grey Daze are planning to release new recordings of some of their old tracks that they had been working on with the Linkin Park frontman prior to his death in 2017. "He was so enthusiastic about doing this, and he was eager to play rock music with messages that he knew would be meaningful to his fans", says his wife Talinda in an Instagram post.

MGMT have released new single 'In The Afternoon'. The track will appear on a limited edition vinyl release with another new song, 'As You Move Through The World', set to go on sale in March.

Ash have flopped out another new video for an old track. This time 'Kung Fu' from 1995. Their 25th anniversary compilation 'Teenage Wildlife' is out on 14 Feb.

Field Music have released new single 'Beyond That Of Courtesy', from their upcoming album 'Making A New World'. That's out on 10 Jan.

Jack Savoretti has released the video for his Christmas single 'Christmas Morning'. "This is a song I've written for my children and I think it's a song that any parent who has to travel a lot for work will relate to", he says of the track.



Slipknot are bringing their Knotfest touring festival to the UK for the first time next year. It will hit the Milton Keynes Bowl on 22 Aug. Tickets go on sale on 19 Dec. The band will be in the UK for more standard touring duties in January.

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


BBC announces Sound Of 2020 longlist
The BBC Sound Of 2020 longlist is out, and my word is it long. So long! I mean, no longer than usual, and, in the grand scheme of things, not actually that long. But you've got to build some drama into these things, haven't you? I'm pretty sure that's my job. Maybe I should have built up some suspense by alluding to the artists who appear on the list. Oh well, I'll get the hang of this one day.

Of the ten acts who made this year's list, all three nominees for the BRITs Rising Star Award appear. And while that makes sense, it's also always a little disappointing.

I suppose the variety comes from having more artists on the BBC list, and also allowing international acts to appear. Although the only non-UK act in the BBC list this time are Inhaler from Ireland. Which either means new music is thriving in the UK, or non-UK new music is rubbish at the moment, or Brexit is making people look ever more inwards.

Or something else, I don't know. Did I mention it's a long list? Though no longer than normal. And not that long in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, the nominees are:

Arlo Parks
Easy Life
Joy Crookes

You know what? That's not a bad list. Even if there is a Bono connection in there. Let's ignore the Bono connection. Let's all just rejoice in the exuberance of youth and the continued turning of the wheels of great new music, created with passion. Music's not a competition, it's a never-ending bringer of joy that we should all be thankful for.

Ha! Just kidding, of course it's a competition. The five finalists will be announced in the new year, starting on 5 Jan, with the overall winner revealed on 9 Jan. Those who don't make the final five will then be forced to leave the music industry in shame, while the four runners up will have their royalty percentages slashed in half for not trying hard enough.

"2020 is shaping up to be such an exciting year for British music", says BBC Head Of Music James Stirling. "BBC Music is proud to play a role in so many of the incredible musical journeys, from Yungblud's first session for BBC Music Introducing in West Yorkshire back in 2017, to debut Glastonbury performances from Arlo Parks, Celeste and Easy Life on the BBC Music Introducing Stage earlier this year. Congratulations to all the longlisted artists and I am really looking forward to seeing what they have in store for 2020".

The BBC's gone and made a whole bloody website for this thing. Have a look at that here. Quickly. Before Boris Johnson wins this fucking election and shuts the BBC down.


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. (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. (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. 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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