FRIDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: New figures from the Recording Industry Association Of America confirm that - while some recorded music revenues have been hit by the COVID-19 shutdown - because subscription streaming is by far the biggest revenue generator in markets like the US, the record industry at large is much more immune to the commercial impact of the virus... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES RIAA stats show record industry mainly COVID immune thanks to streaming
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LEGAL Music industry groups say a European Commission guidance document could hinder safe harbour reform
US government says court should not and cannot interfere in Bytedance ban based on TikTok employee's complaint

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DEALS Daddy Yankee signs to Universal for music, film and TV projects
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Empire launches publishing division
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RELEASES Bruce Springsteen announces 20th studio album
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ONE LINERS Chrissie Hynde, BMG, David Guetta & Sia, more
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AND FINALLY... Everyone is playing guitar now
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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.
   
RIGHTSAPP - IMPLEMENTATION PROJECT & ACCOUNT MANAGER (LIVERPOOL)
RightsApp - part of the Sentric Music Group - is transforming the traditional models for royalty collection and accounting. This new role will be accountable for the creation and management of a high quality implementation programme for RightsApp as well as supporting clients thereafter.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
ANJUNABEATS - A&R & RECORDINGS MANAGER (LONDON)
Anjunabeats is seeking and A&R and Recordings Manager to work directly with key talent as they develop as artists, with an appreciation of what it takes to be a global act in 2020.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
ANJUNABEATS - DIGITAL DELIVERIES & RIGHTS MANAGER (LONDON)
Anjunabeats is seeking an experienced, meticulous and solutions-oriented individual to bolster our digital supply chain and rights management capabilities.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
EMUBANDS - CONTENT ASSISTANT (GLASGOW)
EmuBands currently has an opportunity for a detail-oriented, focussed individual to join the company as a Content Assistant. You'll perform a wide range of administrative tasks relating to digital music assets and metadata, helping to ensure that releases are delivered quickly and accurately to stores.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
SSB - SOLICITOR (LONDON)
Music and entertainment law firm SSB is is seeking a full-time solicitor admitted in England and Wales with two to five years PQE to join its dynamic team in West London.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
BELIEVE - DIGITAL STRATEGIST CONTENT CREATOR (LONDON)
The Believe-owned Nuclear Blast label is looking for maternity cover for a year, commencing in August 2020. The Digital Strategist's role will focus on all digital aspects of an artist and product release – balancing both creative and commercial objectives through the setting and achieving of campaign-specific objectives and results.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
3TONE RECORDS - PUBLICIST (BRISTOL)
3tone Records is looking for an inhouse publicist to join us, working closely with our Marketing, A&R and Publishing departments to provide inventive and dynamic campaigns spanning online and print media, enhancing and furthering the aims of our artists and the label itself.

For more information and to apply click here.
   
MATERIAL - MARKETING MANAGER (LONDON)
To aid in the expansion of its growing roster of artists and brands, Material is seeking an exceptional, results-focused marketing individual to power the business forward and deliver for its artists.

For more information and to apply click here.

Expand your knowledge about the inner workings of the music business, best practice across the music industry, and all the latest trends and developments, with CMU’s weekly webinars.

Taking place every Tuesday afternoon at 2.30pm London time, these one hour online training sessions are delivered by CMU's Chris Cooke.

Each webinar presents timely and easy-to-understand insights about a different music business topic, with plenty of opportunity to ask questions.

Attendees can also access online resources - including downloadable slides - and a recording of the webinar available for a month after the live session.

BOOK NOW at early bird rates - access to each individual webinar is just £25, plus you can book into four webinars for £75 and all nine for just £150.

THE RIGHTS OF SONGWRITERS AND PERFORMERS
Tuesday 22 Sep | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
Artists and songwriters often assign the copyrights they create to business partners: labels, publishers and collecting societies. But music-makers have rights over their music even when they no longer own the copyright. What are those and how do they work? Find out in this webinar.
DIGITAL MUSIC IN EMERGING MARKETS
Tuesday 29 Sep | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
Markets like China, India, Russia, South Korea and Brazil have played a key role in the revival of the record industry's fortunes, while markets in Africa are set to become increasingly important in the years ahead. Which services and what models dominate in these countries?
STREAMING SERVICE PLAYLISTS
Tuesday 6 Oct | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
We all know playlists drive a lot of plays on the streaming services, with playlister pitching now a key part of any music marketing campaign. But how do streaming service playlists work? And how is the evolution of playlist curation impacting on the future of music marketing?
BUILDING A FANBASE FOR NEW ARTISTS
Tuesday 13 Oct | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
How do artists go about building a fanbase in 2020? In this webinar we'll talk through the fanbase building process, from when artists are working truly DIY, through the involvement of different music industry business partners like management, distributors, labels, promoters and specialist agencies.
UNDERSTANDING BRAND PARTNERSHIPS
Tuesday 20 Oct | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
Brands see the value of music as part of their marketing activity. But how do brand partnerships work? What do brands want from these partnerships and how does that impact who they do the deal with? And what can artists expect in return when they ally with consumer brands?
BUILDING A DIRECT-TO-FAN BUSINESS
Tuesday 27 Oct | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
The biggest impact digital has had on music is the direct-to-fan relationship – but are artists and their business partners truly realising the potential of D2F? This webinar explains how data and digital tools can be used to drive extra revenue for each artist business.
TOP FIVE MUSIC INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENTS IN 2020
Tuesday 3 Nov | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
In a year dominated by the impact of COVID-19, what have been the key developments in the wider music industry in 2020? As the live industry restarts, what will it look like? And what impact will the challenges of 2020 have long-term on all the other strands of the music industry?
TOP FIVE STREAMING DEVELOPMENTS IN 2020
Tuesday 10 Nov | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
While the streaming boom continues, led by Spotify-style services, the digital music market is diversifying again. New streaming products and business models present both challenges and opportunities, while lingering questions about Spotify-style streaming increasingly need to be answered.
TOP FIVE COPYRIGHT DEVELOPMENTS IN 2020
Tuesday 17 Nov | 2.30pm | BOOK TICKETS
The music rights business has been more stable during the COVID-19 crisis, though certain revenue streams have taken a hit. Meanwhile, copyright law and the music industry's licensing systems continue to evolve. Get a speedy update on all the key developments in music rights with this webinar.
Navigate and understand the music business with guides and reports from CMU...
NEW! Music Rights Data In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to music rights data, data standards and databases
Music Industry Basics In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to all the different strands of the modern music industry
Streaming Challenges In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the challenges facing the streaming business in 2020
Collective Licensing In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the collective licensing system
Brand Partnerships In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to artist/brand partnerships
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RIAA stats show record industry mainly COVID immune thanks to streaming
New figures from the Recording Industry Association Of America confirm that - while some recorded music revenues have been hit by the COVID-19 shutdown - because subscription streaming is by far the biggest revenue generator in markets like the US, the record industry at large is much more immune to the commercial impact of the virus.

As a result, total US record industry retail revenues for the first half of 2020 were up 5.6% year-on-year to $5.65 billion. That was thanks to a 13.7% increase in premium streaming revenues, which now account for 67% of total revenues.

The RIAA says that about 72 million Americans are now signed up to a premium streaming service (not including those subscribed to what the trade group calls 'limited tier' services, which come with catalogue or functionality limitations).

Revenues generated by ad-funded streaming services were also up, although the impact of COVID-19 was felt in that domain. With the ad industry wobbling as the COVID shutdown went into effect, the revenues generated by free streaming services grew by 2.7%, which is a much slower growth rate than in previous years.

Physical sales overall continued to decline, with the RIAA reckoning that the latest significant slump in CD sales specifically was COVID-related. That slump was sufficiently significant that vinyl is now generating more revenue than CDs for the first time since the 1980s. Vinyl sales also took a knock as COVID shutdown went into effect, but still grew 3.6% over the full six months. CD sales slumped 47.6%.

Download sales were down, though that's a constant trend these days and not really COVID-related. Sync revenues were affected by the pandemic though, as the TV and movie industry went into shutdown. However, they are a very small part of the recorded music market anyway, so a slight wobble has less of an impact.

The other key revenue streams definitely impacted by COVID - AM/FM radio and public performance income - don't really factor in the US because a limitation in American copyright law means these revenue streams don't exist for artists and labels anyway.

Another thing impacted by COVID is the RIAA's own response to these stats. In recent years official record industry figures have generally been accompanied by a customary quote along the lines of "aren't we doing well, that's all because the labels keep investing and innovating, but you know what, we should be doing better, fucking YouTube, hey politicians, do something about the evil safe harbour will you?"

But with other strands of the music industry really hurting because of COVID - and seeking support for those other strands the really lobbying priority just now - the RIAA knows that a more muted response is required. And that's what we got.

"These are historically difficult times: the live music sector is shut down; studio recording is limited; and millions of Americans are out of work across the broader economy", RIAA boss Mitch Glazier noted.

"While we're pleased that the years of hard work and resources we've invested in streaming are driving growth in paid subscriptions, today's report demonstrates just how much work remains to achieve a sustainably healthy music ecosystem for both music creators and fans".

He concluded: "We must continue working to help sustain live music and venues, support gig workers and session musicians, and ensure fair pay for music on all digital platforms. Despite all the challenges from the pandemic, one thing clearly hasn't changed – fans still love music".

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Music industry groups say a European Commission guidance document could hinder safe harbour reform
Trade groups representing the music and wider copyright industries have expressed concerns over guidance being put together by the European Commission regarding the safe harbour reforms contained in last year's European Copyright Directive.

They are concerned that the guidance, although not binding on anyone, could result in those reforms being implemented by each EU member state differently to the way in which they were originally intended.

In the final draft of the directive, it was article seventeen that reformed the copyright safe harbour across the European Union. For the wider music industry, this was the most important element of the whole directive, it increasing the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube whose users include unlicensed music in their uploads.

The safe harbour, of course, means that internet companies whose users utilise their servers and networks to infringe copyright cannot be held liable for that infringement, providing they have systems in place via which copyright owners can have the infringing content removed.

The music community has long argued that platforms like YouTube have abused that safe harbour - which was originally intended for internet service providers and server hosting companies - in order to force music rights owners into unfavourable licensing deals. Or, in some cases, to operate platforms distributing music with no licences at all.

The music industry hopes that the reforms contained within article seventeen will sufficiently restrict the use of safe harbour by user-upload platforms so that the negotiating hand of record labels, music publishers and the music industry's collecting societies is strengthened in any licensing talks.

YouTube and the tech sector lobbied hard against the reforms, initially behind the scenes and then subsequently with a full-on consumer-facing campaign. Although the final version of article seventeen was very much a compromise, the music industry was much happier with that final outcome than the tech sector.

Among other things, article seventeen says that user-upload platforms will be legally obliged to make "best efforts" to secure licences for content being unofficially uploaded to their servers and/or to block and remove content that copyright owners tell them is not cleared.

The term "best efforts" is, of course, very much open to interpretation. Meanwhile, the tech sector kept bringing up the fact that some user-uploaded content that contains other people's material without permission might actually be covered by a so called copyright exception (eg parody, critical analysis, news reporting) and therefore no licence is required.

Given those complexities, at the end of article seventeen the European Commission was instructed to "organise stakeholder dialogues to discuss best practices for cooperation between online content-sharing service providers and rightsholders". On the back of those dialogues, the Commission needs to "issue guidance on the application of this article".

It's those dialogues that the music and other copyright industries have expressed concerned about. That's based on a consultation paper produced by the Commission which, the trade groups say in an open letter to the EC, "interprets essential aspects of article seventeen of the directive in a manner that is incompatible with the wording and the objective of the article, thus jeopardising the balance of interests achieved by the EU legislature in article seventeen".

Although any guidance ultimately published by the EC is just that - guidance for EU member states as they implement the safe harbour reforms into the own copyright systems - the fear is that if that guidance gets things wrong and is written in a prescriptive way, it could have a tangible impact on how the reforms are implemented. Which means the reforms approved by the EU Council and European Parliament could be sneakily further reformed.

The open letter goes on: "By interpreting article seventeen in a manner that is contrary to the intent of the EU legislature and the EU copyright acquis, the proposed guidance amounts to an attempt to rewrite the directive and amend EU copyright law without due legislative process".

Aside from that being against the European law-making process, it also conflicts - the letter argues - with the Commission's own decision to a make culture "one of Europe's priority ecosystems for recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic".

Because if the Commission screws up safe harbour reform with some dodgy guidance, the cultural industries will not get the negotiating power boost that article seventeen was intended to deliver.

The letter, addressed to the EU's Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, is signed by music industry organisations like IFPI, ECSA, GESAC, ICMP, IMPF and IMPALA, as well as trade bodies representing the movie, TV, book, sport and news industries.

Commenting on it all, IMPALA boss Helen Smith says: "The directive is meant to rebalance the online market by reinforcing the position of creators and citizens in their dealings with platforms. It constitutes a significant step towards a fairer internet. Why rewrite the rules now?"

"The Commission is at risk of overstepping its guidance role by re-opening the directive", she continues, "which is the result of a carefully crafted compromise reached by the co-legislators, the European Parliament and member states".

Concluding, Smith goes on: "The EU has recently flagged that culture is a priority for European recovery and we have asked member states to implement [the copyright directive] urgently as a crisis response. That's going to be tricky if the directive is rewritten. The value gap remains the biggest barrier to growth in the cultural sector today".

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US government says court should not and cannot interfere in Bytedance ban based on TikTok employee's complaint
The US Department Of Justice - aka the legal department of Planet Trump - has hit back at efforts by a TikTok employee to restrict those executive orders issued by the US President against the video-sharing app and its Chinese owner Bytedance.

Donald Trump has now issued two executive orders against TikTok and its owner. The first bans any American from transacting with Bytedance from later this month. The second orders Bytedance to sell off all its US assets by mid-November.

Officially those orders are based on concerns that the Chinese government has access to the global TikTok audience and user-data, and that that creates a security risk. TikTok, of course, says those concerns are unjustified, and that Trump's government keeps ignoring the evidence it has presented to that effect.

Meanwhile, various people have suggested that the orders are more about Trump wanting to appear to be tough on China in the run-up to this year's presidential elections. And/or are because TikTok users helped screw up a Trump rally earlier this year by encouraging people to book tickets with no intention of attending.

Legally speaking, Bytedance argues that the executive orders are illegal and unconstitutional, amounting to a misuse of US national security laws and failing to comply with processes mandated by the US constitution.

Similar claims were made in a separate lawsuit filed by TikTok exec Patrick Ryan, who is concerned that when this month's Bytedance ban goes into effect the company's American employees will no longer be able to be paid.

Having filed his lawsuit last month, Ryan recently requested a preliminary injunction from the court ordering the US Department Of Commerce to ensure that Trump's executive order is not implemented in such a way as to impact on TikTok salaries.

Responding to that injunction request yesterday, the Department Of Justice presented various reasons why the court should not and cannot interfere in Trump's TikTok ban.

Among other things, it argued that Ryan can't prove he'll be harmed by the executive order because it's not yet clear whether it will impact on salaries.

Actually, in his legal filing, Ryan pointed out that that current uncertainty is part of the problem, but for the DoJ it's a reason to reject his injunction request. And anyway, the government department went on, even if the ban does affect Ryan's pay, that alone is not justification for an injunction.

As for the motivation behind the ban and the legitimacy - or not - of the security threat posed by China having - or not having - access to TikTok user-data in the US, that's a political matter, and therefore not something the courts should be getting involved in.

Court intervention in this matter, therefore, is not justified, the DoJ concluded. Though, on the off chance that judges disagree, it added that any injunction should only relate to Ryan personally, not all and any employees of TikTok and Bytedance in the US.

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Daddy Yankee signs to Universal for music, film and TV projects
Universal Music has signed Daddy Yankee up to a new deal that will see him release a new album with the company's Ingrooves label services business, and develop film and TV projects with the major's film and TV division Polygram.

Universal boss Lucian Grainge says: "Daddy Yankee is both an iconic artist and entrepreneur whose extraordinary creativity influences culture on a global scale. We're THRILLED to welcome Daddy Yankee to the UMG family and we're looking forward to working together to maximise the worldwide impact of his amazing talent".

Daddy Yankee himself adds: "I've worked hard to build a career that transcends cultures, borders and languages, and I created new business models that helped bring our music to the world".

"By making one of the biggest commitments to an artist in the history of Latin music", he goes on. "Universal Music and Sir Lucian are partners who value my legacy, my music and my contributions. This new single is just the beginning of the new projects we have planned and I'm excited to get started".

Oh yes, the new single. Getting things rolling right away, Daddy Yankee has today released new track 'Don Don', featuring Anuel AA and Kendo Kaponi.

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Empire launches publishing division
US independent label and label services business Empire has announced the launch of a publishing division, to be overseen by Al McLean and Vinny Kumar.

"Over the past few years, our development team has worked tirelessly to build a proprietary system to bring transparency and accountability to the publishing industry – and to first and foremost protect artists rights", says Empire CEO Ghazi Shami. "With our new technology in place and Al 'Butta' McLean and Vinny Kumar at the helm, we are now ready to shake up the music publishing business".

McLean adds: "Music is magic and what Empire has accomplished over the last ten years for the culture has been magical. I'm grateful for this opportunity to help lead Empire into the realm of publishing and publishing administration".

Meanwhile, Kumar comments: "Over the past few years, Empire has become one of the leading independent labels and distributors by focusing on empowering artists. We are looking forward to expanding the brand into the world of publishing and supporting our writers in the same way".

McLean joins the company from Kobalt, where he was VP Creative. Kumar moves over from Empire's distribution division to become VP Legal & Business Affairs of Empire Publishing.

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CMU Insights Webinar: The Rights Of Songwriters And Performers
Artists and songwriters often assign the copyrights they create to business partners: so record labels, music publishers and collecting societies. But music-makers have rights over their music even when they no longer own the copyright.

For starters, there are contractural rights, put in place at the point an artist or songwriter assigns their work to a label or publisher. But beyond that, there are moral rights under law and - perhaps most importantly - performer rights for anyone who performs on a recording.

But how does that all work? You can find out in the first of a brand new series of webinars from CMU Insights that kicks off on Tuesday 22 Sep at 2.30pm London time. This session covers copyright assignment, common contractual rights, moral rights, performer rights, performer equitable remuneration, and termination rights in the US.

To find out more about this and other upcoming webinars - or to book your place - check out this web page here.
 

Bruce Springsteen announces 20th studio album
Bruce Springsteen has announced a new album with the E Street Band - his 20th studio album overall - called 'Letter To You'.

The album is set to feature nine new songs, plus new recordings of three songs he originally wrote in the 1970s and has recorded a number of times, but never, until now, released - 'Janey Needs a Shooter,' 'If I Was the Priest' and 'Song For Orphans'.

"I love the emotional nature of 'Letter To You'", says Springsteen. "And I love the sound of the E Street Band playing completely live in the studio, in a way we've never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I've ever had".

The album is set for release through Sony/Columbia on 23 Oct. Here's the first single and title track.

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DEALS

Having bought a whole publishing company earlier this week, Hipgnosis has gone back to signing up individual songwriters - this time Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. "I'm proud to say I have been a vegetarian, now vegan, for 35 years thanks to the influence of Chrissie, and as a result I have four grown children that have never had meat pass through them", says Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis. "That's the power of great songs and music when combined with genuine integrity".

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APPOINTMENTS

BMG in the US has promoted Allegra Willis Knerr to SVP Sync Licensing. She was previously VP Film & TV Licensing. "In all her years with BMG, Allegra has emerged as a driving force for our US leadership team and as one of our most valued and highly respected executives internationally", says Chief Of Staff for BMG North America, Stephane Hubert.

Tunecore and Believe have appointed Maria Ho-Burge as Global Communications Director. "We are THRILLED", say Tunecore Chief Marketing Officer Andreea Gleeson and Believe Chief Communications Officer Segolene Moreau. "I am THRILLED", says Ho-Burge.

UK record industry collecting society PPL has three new board members following elections at its AGM yesterday. They are Demon Music Group's Soriya Clayton, VP Records' Joy Ellington and Warner Music's Charlotte Saxe.

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RELEASES

David Guetta and Sia have released new collaboration 'Let's Love'. "During this time of isolation, I've been incredibly inspired to release music that has an uplifting energy", says Guetta. "I love producing club tracks but at the same time, especially now, I feel like creating 'feel-good' music. 'Let's Love' is a message of love, hope and bringing people together and, once again, Sia has outdone herself on the vocals".

Marshmello and Demi Lovato have released a new track together called 'OK Not To Be OK'. The track is released in partnership with suicide prevention charity Hope For The Day.

Alicia Keys has released new single 'Love Looks Better'. "This song has such an energy", she says. "It really talks about how busy we've become, how fast we got used to moving, and now we realise that my love looks better on you. It's time to really be present for each other".

Usher has released new single 'Bad Habits'.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens has released a new version of his song 'Father And Son', which sees him duetting with his younger self. The 50th anniversary re-recording of his 'Tea For The Tillerman' album is out on 18 Sep.

Katie Melua has released new single 'Your Longing Is Gone', from her upcoming eighth album 'Album No 8'. That album is out on 16 Oct.

The National's Matt Berninger has released new solo single 'One More Second'. The track is taken from his Booker T Jones produced album 'Serpentine Prison', which is out on 16 Oct.

Amanda Palmer and Rhiannon Giddens have released a cover of Portishead's 'It's A Fire'. Profits will be donated to the Free Black University Fund. "There is something about this song that speaks to a deeper connection between things happening right now", says Palmer. "Black Lives Mattering, COVID, fear and trust are all colliding with one another... I wanted this cover version to sound more like a dark closet talk between two friends hanging onto each other for dear life whispering 'we're gonna make it out of here'".

Django Django have released new single 'Spirals'.

Mastodon have released the video for recently released single 'Fallen Torches'. Their new rarities compilation, 'Medium Rarities', is out today.

A Certain Ratio have released new single 'Berlin'. The track features vocals from Denise Johnson, recorded before her death in July this year. "Denise will be missed so much by us", says the band's Martin Moscrop. "But her soaring voice will live on forever in our music and we are so blessed to have recorded with her on [upcoming album] 'ACR Loco'". The band have also announced November 2021 tour dates and a virtual album launch show on 25 Sep.

Sylvan Esso have released new single 'Frequency', along with a video directed by Moses Sumney. Their new album, 'Free Love', is out on 25 Sep through Loma Vista.

Haiku Hands have released their eponymous debut album and along with it new single 'Sunrise'. "This song carries a message of hope", they say. "We imagine ourselves on a cloud, riding through a blue sky when we listen to [it]".

Missio have released a new double A-side single featuring the tracks 'Can You Feel The Sun' and 'Don't Forget To Open Your Eyes'. Their new album, 'Can You Feel The Sun', is out on 23 Oct.

Balming Tiger frontman Omega Sapien has released new solo single 'Serenade for Mrs Jeon'. His debut solo album, 'Garlic', is out on 22 Sep.

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

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Everyone is playing guitar now
They said the guitar was dead. They said millennials just weren't interested. They said that no one would ever use a guitar in recorded music ever again. I'm not sure who 'they' are, but boy were they ever wrong. Idiots! Because guess who's having a record year for sales? Only guitar-maker Fender.

"We've broken so many records", Fender CEO Andy Mooney told the New York Times earlier this week. "It will be the biggest year of sales volume in Fender history, record days of double-digit growth, e-commerce sales and beginner gear sales. I never would have thought we would be where we are today if you asked me back in March".

It's generally agreed that the COVID shutdown and everyone being confined to their homes has helped here. But does that mean the boost is all about furloughed workers in their 40s and 50s finally getting around to teaching themselves the guitar?

No, insists Fender. A growing number of young adults and teenagers - a sizeable portion of them women and girls - are picking up the instrument. In part, the firm reckons, this has been aided by Fender's instructional app, which began offering a three month free trial early in lockdown and saw user numbers jump. Although it's not clear how many of those people (like me) signed up and then never played a note.

Capitalising on this alleged renewed interest among young people in playing the guitar, Fender has now partnered with Billie Eilish to produce a signature ukulele. I don't know about you, but we have somewhat mixed feelings about one of our favourite new artists putting her name to the worst instrument ever created.

Alright, maybe it's not the worst instrument ever created. Maybe it's just played by some of the worst people ever created. And maybe Billie Eilish can change that. We'll see. The benefit of the uke, she reckons, is that it's an easy way to start out, before graduating to a full-sized, less awful guitar.

"The ukulele was the first instrument I learned", she says in a statement. "It's where I started writing, and where I found new ways of writing that I had never tried before. It inspires a different kind of writing".

"The rules of the ukulele are simple", she goes on, "and basically, if you know three chords you can play almost any song. I hope my Fender Signature ukulele inspires people to start playing, and start writing - anyone can do it".

Oh god, this is bringing back particularly traumatic memories of a gig where someone brought out a ukulele and wandered among the audience, making painfully sustained eye contact as they played their awful songs.

Anyway, here's a video where Eilish talks about the ukulele and plays one of hers in a way that almost makes it seem OK. And hey, guitars, people playing them, woo!

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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 consultancy unit 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 Insights 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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