FRIDAY 1 MAY 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify has been accused of ripping off a Canadian company when it developed its Ad Studio platform that first launched in 2017. "This is a case about a big business stealing from a small business", Toronto-based VoxTonePro says in a new lawsuit that claims Spotify has breached American laws related to trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Spotify accused of ripping off self-serve ad platform from Canadian company
READ IN THIS EMAIL | READ ON THE WEBSITE
LIVE BUSINESS COVID-19 grassroots venue fund in London gets £450,000 boost from mayor
READ IN THIS EMAIL | READ ON THE WEBSITE
MEDIA Radio X's X-posure moves to weekend slot
READ IN THIS EMAIL | READ ON THE WEBSITE
ARTIST NEWS Dave Grohl thanks BBC, as Times Like These charity cover battles with The Weeknd for number one
READ IN THIS EMAIL | READ ON THE WEBSITE
RELEASES Aluna signs to Mad Decent, releases solo single
Nils Bech announces new album, Foolish Heart
READ IN THIS EMAIL | READ ON THE WEBSITE
ONE LINERS Polydor, Atlantic, Megan Thee Stallion, more
READ IN THIS EMAIL | READ ON THE WEBSITE
AND FINALLY... Deezer builds robot that eats swear words (or at least identifies them some of the time)
READ IN THIS EMAIL | READ ON THE WEBSITE
Check out all the latest job opportunities with CMU Jobs. To advertise your job opportunities here email advertising@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060.
   
SENTRIC MUSIC - SENIOR CLIENT MANAGER (LONDON OR LIVERPOOL)
Sentric Music Group is looking for a driven and personable Senior Client Manager with solid music industry knowledge to deliver a first class relationship and reporting service across clients of Sentric Music Group, coordinating all operational stakeholders involved in the delivery of service objectives.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
JUNO RECORDS - MUSIC AND REVIEWS EDITOR (LONDON)
Online vinyl and music equipment retailer Juno is looking for an experienced music and reviews editor to manage and develop its expanding online content.

For more information and to apply click here.
CMU Insights presents a special series of webinars for music people during lockdown providing insightful, easy-to-follow, super-timely guides to music rights, music marketing, the digital market, record deals, and much more.

The webinars are presented by CMU's Chris Cooke, who has trained thousands of artists, songwriters and music industry professionals all over the world. They are perfect for anyone working in or with the music industry who wants a solid understanding of the business of music, and where the industry is heading next.

The webinars will take place each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at:
2.30pm UK TIME | 3.30pm CET | 9.30am EDT


We are currently taking bookings for fifteen Lockdown Webinars - full information below. Places are available at the special discounted rate of £20 per webinar - with further discounts for premium subscribers and/or if you book into multiple sessions.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO AND TO BOOK PLACES
COLLECTIVE LICENSING EXPLAINED - GET PLAYED, GET PAID
Tuesday 5 May | BOOK TICKETS
Sometimes the music industry licenses through direct deals, other times it employs the collective licensing approach. Fully understand how collective licensing works - in the UK and around the world - in this user-friendly easy-to-follow webinar.
STREAMING EXPLAINED - HOW MONEY GETS SHARED
Wednesday 6 May | BOOK TICKETS
Streaming is a revenue share game, with digital dollars shared out each month between artists, songwriters, labels and publishers. We explain how the money is currently split up and talk through why some people in the industry believe a different approach is needed.
THE EVOLUTION OF CATALOGUE MARKETING
Thursday 7 May | BOOK TICKETS
In the same way the shift to streams has changed the way labels release and market new music, the way they monetise catalogue recordings has changed too. Probably more so. This webinar puts the spotlight on catalogue marketing and what it involves in 2020.
HOW SYNC LICENSING WORKS
Tuesday 12 May | BOOK TICKETS
How do sync deals work? This easy-to-follow webinar explains the ins, the outs and the complexities of the synchronisation business, outlining how music is licensed when it appears in TV shows, movies, games and ads.
STREAMING EXPLAINED - THE KEY CHALLENGES IN 2020
Wednesday 13 May | BOOK TICKETS
The global record industry continues to grow on the back of the streaming boom, though challenges remain in the streaming business. We outline and explain all the key challenges, and suggest what solutions may be employed by the services and the music industry.
GETTING THE MOST FROM FAN DATA
Thursday 14 May | BOOK TICKETS
What data is being gathered about the fanbases of the artists you work with and who has access to it? This webinar talks through the ten key categories of fan data, how artists can access and utilise it all, and where data protection law fits in.
AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK - WHY AMERICAN COPYRIGHT LAW IS JUST PLAIN WEIRD
Tuesday 19 May | BOOK TICKETS
While there are some basic principles that join up all the copyright systems around the world, there are also some key differences from country to country. And with American copyright law, some things are just plain weird. This webinar gives you an easy-access guide to at least five ways that US copyright is different to the UK and Continental Europe
STREAMING EXPLAINED - MUSIC INDUSTRY VS YOUTUBE (AND WHAT EVEN IS THE VALUE GAP?)
Wednesday 20 May | BOOK TICKETS
The music industry went to war with YouTube over safe harbours and the value gap. What does that even mean? And who is winning the battle? We look at 2019's controversial European Copyright Directive and what impact it will - or will not - have, and whether those reforms can - or will - be adopted by the US. Plot twist: maybe YouTube wasn't even the real problem.
WHY MUSIC MEDIA ISNT DEAD - YET
Thursday 21 May | BOOK TICKETS
It took the music business fifteen years to make digital work - and the process was painful. For the music media that pain is still real. In a world where everyone is an influencer and content is free, we look at how music media make money; what influence really means; how media consumption works for the Spotify generation; and what this means for the music industry.
MAKING MONEY FROM MUSIC COPYRIGHT
Tuesday 26 May | BOOK TICKETS
The music rights business makes money by exploiting the controls that come with the copyrights in songs and recordings. Get to grips with all the basic principles of copyright law and how music copyright makes money in this user-friendly easy-to-follow webinar.
STREAMING EXPLAINED - THE DIGITAL MARKET IN 2020
Wednesday 27 May | BOOK TICKETS
Streaming now accounts for more than half of recorded music revenues worldwide - and in many countries it's much bigger than that. Get fully up to speed on all the key trends and developments in the global streaming music market in this super timely webinar.
THE EVOLUTION OF RECORD DEALS
Thursday 28 May | BOOK TICKETS
The artist/label relationship has evolved a lot in the last fifteen years. Today artists have a much wider range of options when choosing a business partner to work on their recordings. This webinar explains that evolution and runs through the key deal types now available.
MUSIC RIGHTS DATA MADE SIMPLE
Tuesday 2 Jun | BOOK TICKETS
Getting songwriters and artists paid when their songs and recordings are played often comes down to whether or not the right data is in the system. But what data? This webinar runs through all the key data points and explains how to get information into the system.
STREAMING EXPLAINED - HOW DIGITAL LICENSING WORKS
Wednesday 3 Jun | BOOK TICKETS
The streaming business is complex in terms of how services are licensed, and how artists and songwriters get paid. Get to grips with it all via our concise user-friendly guide to digital licensing and streaming royalties - explained in full in just ten steps.
MUSIC MARKETING - TOOLKIT & TACTICS
Thursday 4 Jun | BOOK TICKETS
What are the tools, tactics, channels and platforms utilised by the music industry when promoting artists, releases and events in 2020? This webinar provides a speedy overview of the modern music marketing toolkit and the ten main tools inside.
Navigate and understand the music business with guides and reports from CMU...
NEW! The Evolution Of Record Deals In Ten Steps | CLICK HERE
A ten step guide to changes in the artist/label relationship
Digital Music Market In Ten Steps | CLICK HERE
A ten step guide to the digital music market today
Copyright Jargon In Ten Steps | CLICK HERE
A ten step guide to some key copyright terminology
The Anti-Touting Campaign In Ten Steps | CLICK HERE
A ten step guide to the campaign to regulate online ticket touting
CMU Trends Guide To Music Rights | CLICK HERE
The complete guide to copyright, music licensing and music rights revenues
GET FULL ACCESS TO THE CMU LIBRARY by going premium for just £5 a month

Spotify accused of ripping of self-serve ad platform from Canadian company
Spotify has been accused of ripping off a Canadian company when it developed its Ad Studio platform that first launched in 2017. "This is a case about a big business stealing from a small business", Toronto-based VoxTonePro says in a new lawsuit that claims Spotify has breached American laws related to trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition.

VoxTonePro says in its legal filing that it was an innovator in the audio advertising production business by being the first to build a platform that simplified and automated the process of making radio-style ads. That platform made it much easier and much cheaper to produce audio ads, thus making advertising on audio platforms like Spotify accessible to a much wider range of advertisers.

The company says: "Using conventional recording studios, or even other online voice actor services, a fifteen word ad could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. VoxTonePro, however, offers a 200 character (approximately 50 word) audio ad for $13.99. Additionally, a two-studio company could not scale up for purposes of servicing a global platform like Spotify - the studios would quickly hit capacity. The VoxTonePro platform, however, can accommodate near limitless growth".

First developed by founder Nadeem Mughal in the early 2000s, VoxTonePro launched its platform in 2006. Nearly ten years later, in early 2015, Mughal reached out to Spotify to suggest a partnership, proposing that - by utilising his technology - the streaming firm could offer a simpler 'self-serve' advertising booking system, removing the hassle of making audio ads and therefore selling more advertising overall.

Despite some conversations, Spotify didn't initially pursue a partnership with VoxTonePro. However, the following year Spotify reached out to Mughal to say that it was now looking into launching a self-serve ads system and that it was interested in discussing possibly working with VoxTonePro on making that happen.

This, the lawsuit claims, is when "Spotify began plotting to steal VoxTonePro's trade secrets". And it had plenty of trade secrets to steal. "Over its many years of effort and expense, VoxTonePro has developed, accumulated, maintained, and refined confidential and proprietary know-how, including business practices, innovative order-processing technologies, and methods for implementing such practices".

Mughal and his company basically allege that Spotify pretended to be interested in a partnership so that he would reveal confidential information about how his platform works and give Spotify people access to the backend of his ad-serve system. No partnership materialised and instead Spotify launched its Ad Studio product, which offers its own tools to make it much easier for advertisers to make their ads.

"This is a case about a big business stealing from a small business", the lawsuit says. "Before it had meetings with VoxTonePro, Spotify had no system for self-service voiceover ad creation. But after several meetings with VoxTonePro - during which it learned details of VoxTonePro's platform and led VoxTonePro to believe that a partnership was coming - Spotify scrambled to launch a platform just like VoxTonePro's".

"Having gotten what it wanted from VoxTonePro, Spotify brushed VoxTonePro aside", the legal filing goes on. "These facts give rise to claims for trade secret misappropriation arising under the [US] Defend Trade Secrets Act, and trade secret misappropriation and related claims under New York state trade secret, misappropriation, and unfair competition laws".

Spotify is yet to comment on these allegations.

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN

COVID-19 grassroots venue fund in London get £450,000 boost from mayor
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan yesterday announced a £2.3 million emergency fund to support venues and other creative businesses in the UK capital at risk of going under as result of the COVID-19 lockdown. It includes a £450,000 contribution to the Music Venue Trust's #saveourvenues fund.

Announcing the new funding, which is supported by an investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Khan said: "The coronavirus outbreak is having a significant impact on every aspect of life in London, and that includes our culture, creative industries and night time economy. These industries are so important to the fabric of our city during the day and night, and they will play a key role in helping us to recover from this public health crisis".

In addition to the £450,000 for grassroots music venues, the mayor's scheme will also support LGBTQ+ venues via a partnership with the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum; the tenants of 200 artist studio workspaces via an alliance with the Creative Land Trust; and a number of independent cinemas via a tie-up with the British Film Institute.

The funding will be targeted at those most likely to go out of business as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown and those unable to benefit from UK government support schemes. Though, the mayor added, the government itself should be seeking to fill the gaps that currently exist in its economic response to the pandemic.

Khan went on: "I'm pleased to be working together with the Music Venue Trust, the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum, the Creative Land Trust and the BFI to offer this emergency funding to those areas most at need, but we need the government to step forward and provide the comprehensive support this industry needs to protect its future".

Confirming its support for the initiative, Jemma Read - Global Head Of Corporate Philanthropy at business media firm Bloomberg - said: "The coronavirus pandemic risks the continuity of thousands of London's cultural and creative institutions and with it, the vitality and prosperity of our city. We are proud to be working alongside the mayor of London and many of our long-standing philanthropic partners to protect the future of London's dynamic arts industry".

The £450,000 for music venues will help MVT to significantly ramp up its support efforts in the capital. The organisation's Beverley Whitrick told reporters: "Music Venue Trust works on behalf of grassroots music venues across the whole UK but the greatest concentration of our members is in London. These venues are some of the most impacted by the current crisis because the costs of running a venue in London are so high".

"This funding from the mayor of London", she went on, "means that MVT will be able to increase the support on offer to each and every venue, dedicating invaluable human resources, specialist advice and financial assistance where other measures come up short - everything possible to sustain these venues so they can reopen in the future and host artists and audiences safely and professionally".

Although, while the mayor's scheme is definitely great news for grass roots venues, MVT also pointed out yesterday that there is still much work to be done to ensure hundreds of venues around the UK don't go out of business as the COVID-19 shutdown continues.

"This significant funding is a major boost to the efforts to ensure that venues across the country will be able to return after the end of the crisis", it wrote on Facebook. "But we still need you. There are hundreds of venues right across the country that are facing permanent closure and it's our community that can save them. Artists, music fans, venues working together, we can do this".

Find out more about the #saveourvenues campaign here.

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN

Radio X's X-posure moves to weekend slot
One of the longest-running specialist shows on UK radio is moving to a new weekend slot. John Kennedy's 'X-Posure' on Radio X is shifting from its current weekday 10pm-1am position in the schedule to a 11pm-2am slot on Friday and Saturday nights.

Kennedy has hosted new music focused 'X-Posure' for more than two decades and it was one of the few shows to remain unchanged when what was Xfm morphed into Radio X in 2015.

Credited for being an early champion of many successful bands and artists, especially in the indie and alternative genres, 'X-Posure' is also one of the few specialist shows still airing on a commercial FM station, the BBC and online radio now accounting for the majority of specialist music programmes in the UK.

Announcing the shift yesterday, Kennedy said: "After 20 years of four nights a week it's time for a change. I'm looking forward to taking 'X-Posure' back to its roots on the weekend where it will still be the same show - the first for new talent and the best place for in depth musical exploration and conversation with some of the biggest and most influential names in music".

The weekday late night slot on Radio X will be taken over by former Capital and XS Manchester DJ Adam Brown who, the station's owner Global says, will play "the biggest rock n roll tunes and classic anthems".

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN


CMU Insights: More Lockdown Webinars announced
We are two weeks into the CMU Lockdown Webinar series with more than 500 people tuning in so far. And now we've added three brand new sessions to the calendar covering US copyright quirks; the music industry vs YouTube and the value gap campaign; and how music media is evolving to meet the challenges of a fast-changing digital world.

Lots of people have also asked how they can access the six previous sessions we've already run. We're now scheduling those ones again, so if you missed our webinars covering copyright, the digital market, record deals, music data, digital licensing and the music marketing toolkit, you can book into those sessions now.

All of our webinars are available to watch as a live stream, but if you book a place you also have access to an on-demand stream of the webinar after the live session has taken place. So, if you're not able to attend live because you've got childcare commitments, calls, it's the middle of the night where you live or you just want to get out for some exercise, don't worry - you can watch later on your own schedule.

The three brand new sessions just added are as follows...

AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK - WHY AMERICAN COPYRIGHT LAW IS JUST PLAIN WEIRD
Tuesday 19 May
While there are some basic principles that join up all the copyright systems around the world, there are also some key differences from country to country. And with American copyright law, some things are just plain weird. This webinar gives you an easy-access guide to at least five ways that US copyright is different to the UK and Continental Europe

STREAMING EXPLAINED - MUSIC INDUSTRY VS YOUTUBE (AND WHAT EVEN IS THE VALUE GAP?)
Wednesday 20 May
The music industry went to war with YouTube over safe harbours and the value gap. What does that even mean? And who is winning the battle? We look at 2019's controversial European Copyright Directive and what impact it will - or will not - have, and whether those reforms can - or will - be adopted by the US. Plot twist: maybe YouTube wasn't even the real problem.

WHY MUSIC MEDIA ISNT DEAD - YET
Thursday 21 May
It took the music business fifteen years to make digital work - and the process was painful. For the music media that pain is still real. In a world where everyone is an influencer and content is free, we look at how music media make money; what influence really means; how media consumption works for the Spotify generation; and what this means for the music industry.

Click here for info on all fifteen webinars currently on sale and to book your places at the special rate of £20 per session (with further discounts for bulk bookings).

Dave Grohl thanks BBC, as Times Like These charity cover battles with The Weeknd for number one
Dave Grohl has written to the BBC thanking the broadcaster for using his song 'Times Like These' for its big new charity single. The Foo Fighters frontman says that he "had to fight back tears" when he first learned of the project.

The BBC announced plans for an all-star recording of the Foo Fighters song last month, with artists including Dua Lipa, Chris Martin, AJ Tracey, Bastille, Royal Blood and Dave Grohl himself appearing on the final version, all recording their segments from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.

After being debuted on BBC radio and TV, the finished track was then released last week to raise money for Children In Need and Comic Relief in the UK, and the WHO's COVID-19-Solidarity Response Fund from international sales and streams.

Grohl previously announced that all royalties that come his band's way for the song rights would also be re-directed to the charities the recording is supporting.

In his thank you letter, Grohl writes: "When my manager first called and explained the project to me, I literally had to fight back tears - that's how flattered I was that the BBC would consider one of my songs for such an important cause. To all those amazing artists who took the time to learn and sing the words that I scribbled on a bit of hotel stationery nearly 20 years ago - I am beyond humbled. You have no idea".

"I hope this new version of the song helps lift people's spirits a little, and that the proceeds we're donating to Comic Relief and Children In Need reach as many people affected by COVID-19 as possible", he adds. "Thanks again, for giving me the chance to be a part of something so much bigger. I look forward to the day that we'll all be back in a muddy field again, singing our hearts out together".

The big question now is, where in the UK singles chart will the charity track appear later today? Last week it made the top five, despite having only been out for twelve hours at the cut off point for the calculation of that particular chart. And at the beginning of this week it was on course for number one. However, it's been facing stiff competition from The Weeknd's 'Blinding Lights'.

The same was true for last week's charity single number one, Captain Tom Moore and Michael Ball's version of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. In fact, that was trailing The Weeknd until he tweeted that people should stop listening to his track (which had already had eight weeks at the top, in two sittings) and support Captain Tom instead.

Sadly, this week, The Weeknd has been busy tweeting far too much about his upcoming episode of 'American Dad' to support another charity project. And so, with this particular chart battle, it's too close to call.

"After a mammoth chart battle last week, we have another on our hands this week - The Weeknd vs Radio 1's Live Lounge Allstars looks set to be a photo finish", said Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot last night. "It is fantastic to see that both battles involve a charity record, a fact which demonstrates the British public's continuing passion for a good cause, especially at challenging times like these".

The final chart positions of each track will be announced by Scott Mills on BBC Radio 1's Official Chart Show this afternoon.

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN

Aluna signs to Mad Decent, releases solo single
Aluna of AlunaGeorge has announced plans to release her first solo album, after signing to Diplo's Mad Decent label. First single 'Body Pump' is out now.

"Having enjoyed being the main ingredient to many successful dance records, I started wanting to create the whole dish", she says. "In the past, when performing on the stages of my white male peers, I always felt like a visitor being one of the few black women I could see, so it never fully occurred to me to claim dance music as my music, as an artist, even though it was at the heart of my connection to music".

She continues: "Then I looked at the history of dance music and saw how, for example, Chicago house - known as the invention of house music - was pioneered in the black and Latino LGTBQ+ communities, which gave me inspiration to stake my flag in the ground as a black woman in dance music by taking control of production and songwriting with my own vibe".

On signing her to his label, Diplo says: "I've been a fan of Aluna for years - her voice, her style and her way of putting records together. Having her sign to Mad Decent feels like a family reunion - can't wait to get these records out to everyone".

Listen to 'Body Pump' here.

--------------------------------------------------

Nils Bech announces new album, Foolish Heart
Nils Bech has released new single 'Why', the first track from his upcoming album 'Foolish Heart'. The song is, he says, "about hiding the scars from my past, dealing with them by sealing them, instead of addressing them, and how that affected my relationship".

"This is the first time I've ever used 'him' [when referring to a partner in the lyrics of] a song", he goes on. "I think there's a naive perception that being a gay man or artist is now easy, but there's obviously still a way to go before expressing yourself freely is as commercially viable as conforming".

"Earlier I used to think that I wish that I could be just an artist, and not a gay artist, but I've seen time after time, especially with the toxic climate in some European countries, that if you relax for fifteen minutes, you're back to the start", he continues. "There is still a long way to go, and this is definitely not the time to be quiet".

'Foolish Heart' is out on 29 May. Listen to 'Why' here.

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN

APPOINTMENTS

Universal's Polydor has promoted Lucy Dann and Stephen Hallowes to the role of Marketing Director. Both of them. "They are central to the results we achieve as a label", says co-President Tom March. "We're delighted to have the two best directors of marketing and their promotion is thoroughly deserved!"

Warner's Atlantic Records UK has hired Rich Castillo as A&R Director. He joins from Sony/ATV. "Rich has great ears and a brilliant track record for finding and creating massive pop hits", says co-President Briony Turner. "His experience and energy will make him a welcome addition to the A&R team".

--------------------------------------------------

RELEASES

Megan Thee Stallion has released a new remix of her track 'Savage' featuring none other than Beyonce. Both artists are donating their royalties from the track to COVID-19 relief in their hometown of Houston, Texas.

AJ Tracey has released new single 'Dinner Guest', featuring Mostack. All first week download profits will be donated to NHS Charities.

Arca has released new single 'Nonbinary'. "I'm asking for recognition that we have multiple selves without denying that there's a singular unit", she says. "I want to be seen as an ecosystem of minor self-states without being stripped of the dignity of being a whole. It gives me the feeling of possibility, to not allow for easy categorisation. I wouldn't want to just go pop and I wouldn't want to go full experimentalist. That's where a nonbinary mode of thinking feels really fertile. It opens possibilities rather than collapsing things. Allowing for change without resisting it". Her new album, 'Kick I', is set for release later this year.

Mogwai have released their soundtrack for TV series 'ZeroZeroZero' on Bandcamp. For the first week it will be available on a pay-what-you-want basis, with half of proceeds being donated to NHS Charities and Help Musicians. "By donating half of what we make in the first week, we hope to do something to help those in need", says the band's Stuart Braithwaite. "We're also aware that everyone has been affected financially and because of that we have made the record available on a pay-what-you-can basis".

Groove Armada have released new single 'Get Out On The Dancefloor', featuring Empire Of The Sun's Nick Littlemore. "As I went through the recordings of Nick, I realised there were lots of cool phrases and great deliveries we could use", says the duo's Andy Cato. "It took a very long time to find the right order for them, but once we had that line 'Get out on the dancefloor', it felt vibey. Slotting the music underneath was the easy bit!"

Emika has launched new record label Improvisations X Inspirations with the surprise release of new album, 'Chaos Star'. Be quick though, she's only making it available for 24 hours on Bandcamp. If you miss it, she's also put out new single 'Sleep In The Day', which will have a longer lifetime.

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

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN

Deezer builds robot that eats swear words (or at least identifies them some of the time)
Deezer has revealed the results of research it undertook looking into building an automated system to detect explicit language in songs, using artificial intelligence.

Ahead of the publication of a full academic paper as part of the International Conference On Acoustics, Speech, And Signal Processing next month, Manuel Moussallam gave a summary of the project in a blog post. First question though: What's wrong with the current system for dealing with sweary lyrics in top pop songs?

Marking music as 'explicit' has been going on since the 1980s, of course. Starting with the slapping of stickers on CD cases, in the streaming age it has evolved into the tagging on individual tracks. With varying degrees of control across differing services, tracks with rude words can then be filtered out by anyone who doesn't want filth being piped into their homes.

Currently, the task of tagging each track is carried out by humans. Somewhere in the release process at a record label, it will be someone's job to decide whether or not to apply the explicit tag to a track. At larger companies, there will likely be a set of internal guidelines upon what does or does not count as explicit. Elsewhere, it may be done on gut feeling.

That all sounds fine then. Why get robots involved? Well, says Moussallam, that system is fine, except when it isn't. "When no tag is provided, it can mean that the song is suitable for all audiences", he says. But it might also mean that the label releasing the record just didn't consider the track's explicitness. "There is a substantially large part of our catalogue that falls under this category", he adds.

So, a lack of an explicit tag doesn't necessarily mean that a track is not explicit. Also, deciding whether or not a track needs tagging is not quite as simple as just listening out for whether or not someone says 'fuck'. "Having to decide which track should be tagged as explicit and which shouldn't is a complex task", he goes on. "It requires a high-level understanding of cultural expectations and involves a lot of subjectivity".

If humans are often failing in this, could AI do any better? That's what Deezer wanted to find out. The answer: No, not really. But the process of reaching that conclusion is interesting nonetheless.

Deezer considered two different types of AI. One where it was simply fed a list of explicit words and told to look for them. The other which was trained to look for explicit words in the hope that it would learn itself how to identify explicitness with more accuracy over time. Once it had been taught not just to tag all hip hop tracks as explicit, the latter proved most effective. But it still did not reach the levels of accuracy of a human moderator.

While computers are alright at identifying rude words, the issues of cultural expectations and subjectivity are difficult ones to programme. After all, a song can be offensive without using any words that might feature on a swear list.

So, no super-tastic robot-led decency protector has come out of this project. What a waste of time! Or not. While Deezer's new AI is not going to take over from human filth hawks any time soon, it could assist them in their job, and maybe reduce the frequency with which the 'explicit' box is not ticked when it should have been.

"With our approach, we can not only detect the presence of explicit keywords but also know where they occur in the song", concludes Moussallam. "We could, therefore, highlight some parts of the audio to an annotator to facilitate his task".

Mmm, delicious facilitation. Read the full blog post here.

BACK TO THE TOP OF THE BULLETIN

 
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.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
CMU helps people to navigate and understand the music business.

We do this through our media, our training and our research, and at a range of music industry events.

CMU Daily covers all the latest news and developments direct by email.

Setlist is a weekly podcast dissecting the biggest music business stories.

CMU Premium gives you access to the CMU Digest and CMU Trends.

CMU Insights is our music business consultancy: supporting the industry.

CMU Pathways is our music education consultancy: supporting educators.

CMU:DIY is our future talent programme: supporting new music talent.



© UnLimited Media, a division of 3CM Enterprises Ltd

UnLimited Media, Kemp House, 152 City Road, London EC1V 2NX
t: 020 7099 9050 (editorial) 020 7099 9060 (sales)

Send press releases to musicnews@unlimitedmedia.co.uk

Email advertising queries to ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk

Email training and consultancy queries to insights@unlimitedmedia.co.uk

You can read our Privacy & Data Policy here

publishing@unlimitedmedia.co.uk | complaints@unlimitedmedia.co.uk