MONDAY 15 JUNE 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Night Time Industry Association has welcomed an announcement by the UK government that it is reviewing whether the two metre social distancing rule needs to stay in place when hospitality businesses re-open next month. However, it says that those businesses need as much prior notice as possible on what the rules will be so that they can make the necessary preparations... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Night time businesses cautiously welcome government review of social distancing rules, while Chancellor's comments on support gaps criticised
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LEGAL Soul Singer Lady A criticises Lady Antebellum for adopting her name
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Tencent's Warner Music share purchase confirmed
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MARKETING & PR Byta secures $1.9 million in seed funding
Music PRs co-found communications agency cutting across music, fashion and sport

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RELEASES Kygo releases collection of ambient remixes and reworks through Calm
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ONE LINERS Music Venue Trust, Ted Cockle, T-Pain, more
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AND FINALLY... 6ix9ine urges fans to buy new single four times each, following previous chart conspiracy theory
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Night time businesses cautiously welcome government review of social distancing rules, while Chancellor's comments on support gaps criticised
The Night Time Industry Association has welcomed an announcement by the UK government that it is reviewing whether the two metre social distancing rule needs to stay in place when hospitality businesses re-open next month. However, it says that those businesses need as much prior notice as possible on what the rules will be so that they can make the necessary preparations.

Although the UK government is slowly relaxing the COVID-19 shutdown - with non-essential retailers allowed to open again today in England - people are still currently being urged to stay two metres apart from each other, and high street businesses need to ensure that that is possible on their premises.

However, pubs and restaurants - which should be able to re-open at the start of next month - say that the two metre rule means they will have to reduce capacity to such an extent that their businesses will no longer be viable. Some have argued that, if the rule was changed to one metre - as has been implemented in some other countries - that would make re-opening much more feasible.

Asked about the government's announcement that it was now reviewing the two metre rule - and could as yet reduce it to one metre - Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak told the BBC this weekend that scientists and public health officials would also input on that review process.

He said: "Much as I would like to see it reduced - everyone would like to see that reduced from an economic perspective - we can only do that if it's safe and responsible to do so". That said, he conceded that the final decision would be a political one, because scientists have made clear there is a "different degree of risk at different levels".

The NTIA - which counts bars and restaurants, as well as venues and clubs, among its membership - welcomed the government's announcement.

Its CEO, Michael Kills, said: "One of the key challenges around the re-opening of the night time economy and events sector is the current guide for physical distancing. We welcome the government's announcement with regard to the review of the current measures, and await the outcome with much anticipation".

"However", he added, "the decision needs to be made ahead of the scheduled 4 Jul opening, to allow businesses the ability to prepare for opening if they are able to. The industry maintains it commitment to ensuring that we open at the right time with the correct measures to keep our staff and patrons safe, we must also recognise the importance of our sector to our cultural and civic life".

While Sunak's comments this weekend on social distancing rules were generally welcomed, his answers to questions about the gaps in the financial support the government has offered those negatively impacted by COVID-19 were not.

Many small businesses and freelancers in the music industry - and well beyond - have found that they don't qualify for any of the government's support schemes because of the way they have structured their businesses, or because of a relatively recent change in their circumstances. There have been multiple calls for ministers to deal with these gaps in support, but no action has been taken.

In an interview with Sky News, Sunak said that the scale of the COVID-19 crisis and the speed with which support needed to be provided meant that it wasn't possible to provide everyone with the support they "wanted".

ExcludedUK - a cross sector organisation representing the various groups who have not been able to access government support during the COVID-19 shutdown - was not impressed with those remarks.

It stated: "Whilst we appreciate that the Chancellor had to bring out some measures swiftly, ExcludedUK does not see the rationale nor any fair justification as to why an estimated three million have been excluded either entirely or largely from these support measures".

"It is not about what people 'wanted"", it added, "but, most importantly, what is fair and what they need". And while it maybe true that initial schemes couldn't support everyone, there has been plenty of time to subsequently address the gaps, the campaign group went on.

"ExcludedUK believes there has been ample time since [the initial schemes were announced] to further examine what could be done to help those left without adequate support who were furthering their careers by starting a new job, those who have set up a new business, those who have entrepreneurial spirit and serve their communities as small businesses, those who earn their living through a combination of PAYE and self-employment, those whose parental leave fell at a certain time ... the list goes on".

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Soul Singer Lady A criticises Lady Antebellum for adopting her name
Soul singer Anita White has threatened legal action against Lady Antebellum after their sudden decision to rebrand as Lady A. She has been using that name to perform and release music for more than two decades.

The country band announced last week that they were dropping the word 'antebellum' from their name, due to its association with the slave trade. They said that they were now "regretful and embarrassed" to have ever used it and would instead adopt the nickname used by many of their fans already, Lady A.

White has expressed anger that in this apparent gesture of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter moment, the massively popular band has taken the stage name from a black artist apparently without a moment's thought.

"This is my life", she tells Rolling Stone. "Lady A is my brand, I've used it for over 20 years, and I'm proud of what I've done ... [Changing their name is] an opportunity for them to pretend they're not racist or pretend [the Black Lives Matter movement] means something to them. If it did, they would've done some research. And I'm not happy about that. [Rolling Stone] found me on Spotify easily - why couldn't they?"

"I'm not about to stop using my name", she goes on. "For them to not even reach out is pure privilege. I'm not going to lay down and let this happen to me. But now the burden of proof is on me to prove that my name is in fact mine, and I don't even know how much I'll have to spend to keep it".

A spokesperson for the band said that they were not previously aware of White and now plan to speak to her directly about the clash of names. White, meanwhile, is gearing up for the release of new album, 'Lady A: Live In New Orleans', next month.

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Tencent's Warner Music share purchase confirmed
As expected, Chinese web giant Tencent has bought itself some lovely Warner Music stock, further expanding its interests across the mainstream music industry. Very soon there won't be many of the big music industry pies it doesn't have its fingers in. Those are going to be very sticky fingers. At least hand sanitiser is becoming easy to source again.

There were rumours late last month that Tencent would grab some Warner stock ahead of the mini-major's IPO on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Last week it was confirmed that Tencent had acquired a total of eight million of Warner Music's Class A shares via two transactions, one through its Tencent Music Entertainment subsidiary. That equates to 10.4% of the music firm's Class A shares, or a 1.6% stake once all share types are taken into account (Access Industries controls the company through class B stock with supervoting rights).

Tencent and its TME division are the dominant player in digital music in China, where it operates three streaming services, a standalone karaoke service and some other music ventures, as well as representing the global catalogues of all three majors in the country.

Beyond China it operates the Joox streaming service in other markets, has stakes in Spotify and Indian streaming service Gaana, and last year led a consortium that bought 10% of Universal Music from Vivendi.

That's quite a lot to be getting on with. Although it seems likely that Tencent's management will putting their metaphorical fingers into more of the music industry's metaphorical pies in the year ahead.

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Byta secures $1.9 million in seed funding
Pre-release music sharing platform Byta last week announced a new $1.9 million round of seed funding led by the Canada Media Fund. The new finance will be used to further expand and develop the company that now describes itself as "the platform for music before it's on streaming services", and will also allow further investment in the firm's not-for-profit HowWeListen education programme.

Explaining the rationale for pursuing the funding round now, having launched the company in 2015, Byta's CEO Marc Brown told reporters: "We built Byta from the ground up. It's the same advice I give to artists: Get everything in place yourself first, make sure you are ready, then look for outside help. Byta is ready".

Alongside the Canada Media Fund are a number of private investors, including musician Scott Kannberg, a founder member of both Pavement and Preston School Of Industry.

Explaining his support for the business, he said: "In the old days, I would share my music with others via cassette tape or a CDR. It would take hours and lots of postage! Today, with Byta, I can share my music with bandmates, labels, promoters, writers, DJs and so on in one click. I haven't found anything as easy and digitally sound as Byta, which is why I invested".

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Music PRs co-found communications agency cutting across music, fashion and sport
Music PRs Caroline Dollimore and Louise Mayne have co-launched a new communications agency with Caroline McAteer, whose background is in sports PR. The new company, called Cherry, will look to work on music, fashion and sports projects.

Dollimore was most recently Director Of Publicity at Warner's Atlantic Records, while Mayne has run her own agency - We Care A Lot PR - after previous stints in-house at Sony Music and Universal Music. Writer and editor Paul Flynn is also a founder of the new company, while another journalist - Douglas Greenwood - has been confirmed as a Creative Consultant for the business.

By cutting across music, fashion and sport, the new company says it "marks a new era for representation. Artists, designers, sports stars and beyond have more of an appetite than ever to impact in each other's worlds. Cherry will inter-pollinate them all".

The founders add: "We collectively felt the time was right to create a powerhouse that potently unites [these different areas]. We know we can add commercial and importantly cultural value on a global scale to our clients. From publicity to creative curation, brand partnerships, global representation and crucially, crisis management across all disciplines, Cherry is an exclusive and rewarding partnership, all housed under one roof".

Mayne's We Care A Lot PR - and McAteer's existing agency The Sports PR Company - will both continue to operate under the Cherry banner.

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Setlist: The 'urban' music debate and takedowns on Twitch
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the debate about the use of the word 'urban' to categorise music that has seen Republic Records and the Grammys drop or cut back the use of the term, and Twitch's latest run-in with the music industry. Setlist is sponsored by 7digital.

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Kygo releases collection of ambient remixes and reworks through Calm
Kygo has become the latest artist to release a collection of ambient music through meditation app Calm. The 60 minute mix - which follows the release of his new album 'Golden Hour' - features reworked tracks from his back catalogue, including a piano instrumental version of recent single 'I'll Wait'.

"I hope these remixes can help people who are stressed or anxious", says the producer. "It's a really calm playlist, with a lot of piano songs, so hopefully it can help you unwind and stress down".

Kygo joins Sam Smith, Five Seconds Of Summer, Above & Beyond, Sigur Rós, Moby, Tom Middleton, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and more in releasing music and mixes through Calm. All of which is locked behind the app's premium paywall (although - top tip - the Apple TV version of the app doesn't have that paywall for some reason).

Last year, the company reported that it had signed-up "well over" one million paying users, so that's a pretty significant potential audience for musicians. Equally, increasingly becoming an ambient streaming service as well as a meditation app, differentiates Calm from its competitors.

Meanwhile, here's the video for Kygo's non-ambient collaboration with OneRepublic, 'Lose Somebody'.

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COVID-19 SUPPORT INITIATIVES

The Music Venue Trust has announced a virtual festival to raise money for venues in Scotland facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 shutdown. #SaveOurScottishVenues will take place this Friday, opening with a free to view performance by Travis's Fran Healy. Tickets are available to watch live for £5. Or, for an extra £3, you'll be able to catch up with performances across three stages over the weekend too. More details here.

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LABELS & PUBLISHERS

Universal Music UK has announced that Ted Cockle has stepped down as President of its Virgin EMI label. The division will be run by its senior management team until a replacement President is appointed.

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RELEASES

T-Pain has released new track 'Get Up', which samples Malcolm X. Originally intended for release in March, the track was held back. "It's very ironic because it all has so much more meaning to it now with everything going on in the world", says the rapper. Proceeds from the track will be donated to the Crime Survivors For Safety And Justice charity.

Michael Stipe has released a new track with Aaron Desner's Big Red Machine, 'No Time For Love Like Now' - a demo version of which was shared back in March.

Fred Again... has released new track 'Adam (Act Like)'. "I made this tune from sampling an Amine freestyle I saw on Insta", he says. "At one point he goes 'and we act like, it's alright, when it's not' and it was so direct it like cut through the whole verse to me. So I made a song around it and sang some verses".

Orbital's Paul Hartnoll and poet Murray Lachlan Young have released a new single together, titled 'I'm Going Shopping'. Hartnoll explains that the track "leads us on a 'new normal' shopping trip from beginning to end". Proceeds from the track will be donated to NHS Charities Together.

Naïka has released new single 'African Sun', released to coincide with Haitian Heritage Month.

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

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6ix9ine urges fans to buy new single four times each, following previous chart conspiracy theory
Having accused Ariana Grande of cheating her way to number one last month, 6ix9ine has seemingly taken on board her (and collaborator Justin Bieber's) explanation of how they beat him to the top of the US singles chart. Certainly, he's now encouraging fans to buy multiple digital and physical copies of his new single with Nicki Minaj, 'Trollz'. But not so many that they're not eligible for the Billboard Hot 100.

In May - prior to the publication of the US singles chart that included first week sales for his first release while under house arrest, 'Gooba' - 6ix9ine posted an angry video to Instagram, claiming that the chart had been rigged to stop him getting to number one. He made various claims, including that millions of his streams had been unfairly discounted, and that Grande and Bieber had fraudulently submitted thousands of sales of their joint charity single at the last minute to beat him in the chart race.

Billboard responded by denying any such fraud or collusion with other artists, noting various reasons why streaming and sales numbers in the final chart might be different from an unofficial spreadsheet the rapper was taking his information from. Not least, being a US chart, it only counts streams that it can verify happened in the US.

Grande and Bieber also responded, saying that the last minute sales that bumped up their chart position were from a limited edition signed CD single sold through their respective direct-to-fan channels. The CDs were made available only in the US for 24 hours and limited to four per customer, all of which was designed to boost the single's US chart position. "That's called strategy", Bieber noted in his response.

And it was a strategy that worked. It's also one that 6ix9ine should have been aware of. He'd also released a CD single of 'Gooba' 24 hours before the chart sales cut off. Although he hadn't offered to sign them or limited sales to four per customer. Perhaps his downfall.

This time he's taking no chances though.

In a new Instagram video yesterday, he told fans: "This is very important. If you can, go purchase 'Trollz' on iTunes up to four times. You can purchase, legally, up to four times. If you can. There's also merch at the 6ix9ine store. But most importantly, you have CDs, vinyl, cassettes etc. You can buy up to four times. That's the legal amount, up to four times. Again, we are winning by far, but, there is always some bullshit with these people. So, run it up".

It's worth noting, for anyone panicking about a cache of 'Gooba' CDs they might be sitting on, it is not actually illegal to buy a single more than four times. But Billboard will discount those sales as suspicious. Because who could possibly need to own more than four copies of the same single for any legitimate reason? Four is fine though. One for every CD player in the house.

Also, noting the influence TikTok has on what music is popular these days, 6ix9ine announced a competition for the best video on the social media platform using 'Trollz'. First prize in this contest is $10,000, so it's probably worth having a little hop around to it, if you're so inclined.

Whether all those enthused TikTok-ers will then get busy buying downloads and CDs of his new single, remains to be seen.

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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
 
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