TODAY'S TOP STORY: There was further outrage in the music community this weekend over the post-Brexit trade deal struck between the UK and EU. With the industry already angered at the effect that deal will have on UK artists touring Europe, it was reported that British ministers actually rejected an EU proposal that would have ensured no new bureaucratic requirements for such artists. However, the UK government continues to insist that it was EU officials who rejected a proposed solution... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Music industry outraged at reports UK ministers knocked back EU proposal for post-Brexit visa-free travel for musicians
LEGAL Nicki Minaj settles Tracy Chapman copyright case with $450,000 payment
DEALS ADA to distribute Disruptive Records
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Ariel Pink dropped by label over pro-Trump protest
Ministry Of Sound label announces promotions
LIVE BUSINESS APPG launches inquiry into the devastating impact of COVID on the night-time economy
BRANDS & MERCH Brian May launches perfume for badger fans
AND FINALLY... Bez challenges Joe Wicks' lockdown fitness crown
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Music industry outraged at reports UK ministers knocked back EU proposal for post-Brexit visa-free travel for musicians
There was further outrage in the music community this weekend over the post-Brexit trade deal struck between the UK and EU. With the industry already angered at the effect that deal will have on UK artists touring Europe, it was reported that British ministers actually rejected an EU proposal that would have ensured no new bureaucratic requirements for such artists. However, the UK government continues to insist that it was EU officials who rejected a proposed solution.

When the last minute UK/EU trade deal was published days before it came into effect at the start of the month, the music industry was quick to note that it didn't include any specific provisions that would ensure visa-free touring for British artists across the EU, and EU artists across the UK.

That was despite music industry reps having repeatedly warned ministers of the negative impact that would occur if artists were faced with the cost and hassle of securing travel permits and equipment carnets when touring Europe post-Brexit. Lots of tours might have to be called off, ministers were told, and those British artists who could still tour might be forced to do so with session musicians and crew members based in other EU countries.

Because there are no specific provisions for performers in the trade deal, the rules for British artists touring Europe now vary from country to country. In some places, there won't be too many new bureaucratic requirements. In others, travel permits and/or carnets may be required. It also means that artists and their teams need to get their heads around a multitude of different rules, any of which could change at any time.

Facing criticism from the music community and MPs shortly after the trade deal was made public, the UK government insisted that the blame for the new bureaucratic barriers that British musicians now face lay with the EU.

A spokesperson said that the UK had "pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travellers", which would have also covered performers. But, the spokesperson added, the EU declined to sign up to said ambitious agreement. Cabinet Office minister Nicholas True then repeated those claims in Parliament last week.

However, in a report this weekend it was alleged that - in fact - it was UK ministers who knocked back an EU proposal to allow performers to tour visa free, because the UK government wasn't willing to offer to European artists wanting to tour the UK the same deal the EU was offering British artists who wanted to tour EU member states.

Because doing so - it seems - would have conflicted with the "fuck all foreigners" policy being pursued by Home Secretary and free-movement-phobe Priti Patel.

According to The Independent, an EU source has said: "It is usually in our agreements with third countries that [work] visas are not required for musicians. We tried to include it, but the UK said no".

Confirming the issue was reciprocity - ie that any agreement would cut both ways - The Independent's source added: "The UK refused to agree because they said they were ending freedom of movement. It is untrue to say they asked for something more ambitious".

In a classic game of he-said-she-said, the UK government is standing its ground, however. Responding to The Independent's report, a government spokesperson told NME: "This story is incorrect and misleading speculation from anonymous EU sources. The UK pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travellers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU".

It is possible that both sides are technically correct in claiming that the other side rejected their proposals regarding visa-free travel for performers across Europe. It seems that the UK government may have proposed some sort of 30 day arrangement while the EU offered a 90 day arrangement. So the dispute was more over the specifics of any arrangement, rather than the principle of ensuring that musicians didn't face a load of new bureaucratic hassles.

But either way, music industry reps this weekend demanded clarity from the UK government as to exactly what was discussed during trade deal negotiations, and why no compromise could be reached on this point. Politicians had previously indicated that a system would be put in place to ensure musicians would not need travel permits and carnets to tour Europe post-Brexit.

The Musicians' Union stated yesterday that is "demanding that the Culture Minister urgently confirms one way or another whether it was the UK government that blocked the deal which would have granted UK musicians easy access to EU states for touring".

Referencing the claims made in The Independent, the union's General Secretary Horace Trubridge added: "With the British music business having been devastated by COVID-19 - and with no end in sight to the black hole of cancelled concerts, tours, festivals and regular gigs that is the very bedrock of our world-class industry - the news, if true, that our own elected representatives chose to turn down such an offer is nigh-on unbelievable".

Echoing that sentiment, Deborah Annetts, CEO of the Incorporated Society Of Musicians, stated: "The ISM and the rest of the music sector are appalled by shocking reports that the UK government rejected an offer from the EU to waive bureaucratic work permits for British touring musicians, in direct contrast to statements made by ministers in Parliament last week".

"If these reports are true then we are looking at a serious breach of trust after the government provided multiple assurances throughout 2020 that they understood the importance of frictionless travel for UK musicians and would be negotiating an ambitious agreement to achieve this objective".

"We join the call with leading UK businesses that trade negotiations with Brussels should restart to address the serious regulatory challenges facing many industries, and a better deal for UK musicians should be included in those talks", she added. "We need complete transparency on what was discussed during the negotiations and an urgent statement in the House Of Commons outlining what steps the government are taking to protect our world-leading performing arts sector".

Speaking for the UK live industry, Greg Parmley, CEO of new trade group LIVE, said: "The live music industry is already facing a catastrophic situation due to the COVID shutdown. LIVE is calling on the government to give urgent clarification as to what was offered by the EU to enable visa-free tours by UK artists and crew. All parties need to work quickly to ensure that once COVID restrictions are lifted UK artists are able to work across the EU with the same freedom that has been secured for people doing other business activity".

Meanwhile Annabella Coldrick of the Music Managers Forum added: "Last February, the Home Secretary stood up in the House Of Commons and claimed that the situation for British musicians touring Europe would be completely unchanged, and that touring routes would operate as they do now. A year on, and such assurances appear to be misplaced and, if recent newspaper reports are true, as a result of intransigence on the part of the UK government".

"This is utter insanity", she added. "Music is at the heart of Britain's national culture, and a sector where we are genuinely world-beating. For the sake of our artists, our musicians, and the tens of thousands of people who work in live music, we need urgent clarity from ministers as to what is going on and an immediate commitment to resolve the situation to avoid a serious impact on our ability to tour the EU post-COVID".


Nicki Minaj settles Tracy Chapman copyright case with $450,000 payment
Nicki Minaj has settled her ongoing copyright legal battle with Tracy Chapman for a neat $450,000. Which is a rather expensive "sorry". And a rather expensive 'Sorry' too.

Chapman sued Minaj in 2018 over an unreleased track called 'Sorry' which was originally meant to appear on the latter's album 'Queen'. The track was dropped from that record at the last minute because it featured a sample of Chapman's 'Baby Can I Hold You', which Minaj's people couldn't get cleared.

However, although being unreleased, the track was played on the radio show of New York-based DJ Funk Flex, aka Aston Taylor, alongside the release of the album. Given that Minaj had been tweeting about trying to get the Chapman sampled cleared, the airing of 'Sorry' was newsworthy, and plenty of fans grabbed a copy of the track from the radio broadcast, some of whom then started sharing it online.

Hence the lawsuit. Chapman accused Minaj of infringing the copyright in 'Baby Can I Hold You' by "creating an illegal derivative work" and "distributing that work", the latter based on the allegation that Minaj herself had sent a copy of 'Sorry' to Taylor and urged him to play it.

Chapman's lawsuit also took issue with Minaj even using an uncleared sample of 'Baby Can I Hold You' in the studio. However, the Minaj side successfully argued that that constituted 'fair use' under US copyright law, as it's pretty standard practice for artists and producers to play around with uncleared samples in the studio, only seeking permission to make use of those samples once they've decided what tracks they want to release.

However, even if Minaj was allowed to use the sample without permission in private, there was still the issue of how the track got to Taylor, given that Chapman had been very clear that the sample would not be cleared and therefore 'Sorry' could not be released to the public.

The Chapman side gathered various social media and text messages that seemed to prove it was definitely Minaj who arranged for Taylor to play her unreleased track.

Though Minaj's lawyers insisted that those messages had been misconstrued, and that their client had no idea how Taylor had got his hands on a copy of 'Sorry'. Taylor himself insisted that an unnamed blogger had sent him the track, despite him actually pre-empting his playing of it at the time by tweeting "Nicki gave me something".

Having ruled that Minaj's use of the uncleared sample in the studio was fair use, the judge hearing the case said that the he-said-she-said claims regarding how a copy of 'Sorry' got to Taylor would have to be argued out in front of a jury. Therefore, the case was set to go to trial.

However, last week the two sides told the court that they had now reached a settlement, which will see Minaj pay Chapman $450,000. A legal filing from the Minaj side stated: "Judgment shall be entered in favour of plaintiff Tracy Chapman and against defendant in the amount of $450,000, inclusive of all costs and attorney fees incurred to date".

Speaking to Law360, a legal rep for Minaj said they had only agreed to settle because "it would have cost us more to go to trial". Meanwhile, Chapman said that she was happy to have settled the matter, insisting that she had only gone legal as a "last resort".


ADA to distribute Disruptive Records
Warner Music's artist and label services division ADA has signed a new distribution agreement with Disruptive Records.

Launched last year, Amsterdam-based Disruptive - and sub-label Andante Piano - focuses on releasing music to populate streaming playlists for specific moods. Its own playlists include 'Sleep Piano', 'Lofi Reading' and 'Chill Tracks'.

"We're very happy to join forces with the ADA Music and Warner Music Benelux team for distribution and to help our artists reach their full potential globally", says label owner Ivo Adelaar.

"It'll be an exciting step forward for Disruptive Records and Andante Piano to be part of a forward-thinking global music company, with its large network and an incredible major infrastructure. With this partnership, we're looking forward to working together and to elevating our catalogue to reach new audiences and levels of success".

Sander Stijnen, Head of ADA Benelux, adds: "I'm delighted that Ivo chose ADA Music as a partner to further develop Disruptive Records. The label has seen impressive growth in its first year and we cannot wait to start collaborating on forthcoming releases!"


Ariel Pink dropped by label over pro-Trump protest
Ariel Pink has been dropped by his record label Mexican Summer. The move comes after it emerged that the musician took part in that pro-Trump march in Washington DC last week - the one which resulted in a violent attack on the US Capitol building.

In a short statement on Twitter, the label said: "Due to recent events, Mexican Summer and its staff have decided to end our working relationship with Ariel Rosenberg, aka Ariel Pink, moving forward".

Pink released his last studio album for the label, 'Dedicated To Bobby Rosen', in 2017. However, Mexican Summer is scheduled to released three rarities compilations by the musician at the end of this month. All three are currently still listed for sale on the label's website.

Confirming that he had attended the Washington protest last week, Pink denied being involved in any violence, saying that he had been "in DC to peacefully show my support for the President".

One musician who was involved in the attack on the Capitol building was Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer. He is now wanted by the FBI after being photographed inside the home of the US Congress after the Trump mob smashed their way in.

In a post on Instagram over the weekend, Iced Earth bassist Luke Appleton, who lives in the UK, issued a statement on behalf of the band, distancing them from Schaffer's actions. "We absolutely DO NOT condone nor do we support riots or the acts of violence that the rioters were involved in on 6 Jan at the US Capitol building", he wrote. "We hope that all those involved that day are brought to justice to be investigated and answer for their actions".


Ministry Of Sound label announces promotions
The Ministry Of Sound record label - part of Sony Music UK - has announced the promotion of Amy Wheatley and Negla Abdela to the roles of Managing Director and General Manager respectively. Wheatley was previously General Manager, while Abdela was Head Of Digital. Both will report in to Ministry Of Sound President Dipesh Parmar in their new jobs.

Confirming the promotions, he said: "I'm absolutely delighted for both Amy and Negla to take key positions within the label. Negla's digital nuance has helped Ministry excel in the world of online engagement and Amy is a leader in every sense. Her drive and passion for both the roster and the team makes her one of the most respected and dynamic executives in the business".

"We all share the same vision for the label and the artists we want to sign", he added. "We've had one of our best years of growth in the business and I'm excited they will help to oversee the label's continued domination, not just in electronic music but in the artist development space".

Confirming her new role, Wheatley said: "It's an incredibly exciting time for the label. We have lots more to achieve and with the driven, creative and passionate team, as well as the amazing artists we work with, this is just the beginning, and I couldn't be prouder to step into this role and help accomplish this".

Abdela added: "I'm really excited to be stepping into 2021 in this role. It's important to see more women in leadership positions, especially black women, as it shows that it is achievable no matter what your background is. This is the best way to top off the amazing year we had and I'm so proud of our whole team".


APPG launches inquiry into the devastating impact of COVID on the night-time economy
The newly formed All Party Parliamentary Group For The Night Time Economy has launched an urgent inquiry into the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on the wider night-time sector. To help, MPs in the group are urging venue, entertainment and hospitality businesses, and employees and freelancers who work in the sector, as well as nightlife consumers, to submit evidence via an online survey.

APPGs are informal groupings within Parliament focused on specific issues or interests. The night-time economy-focused group was launched last month in response to the significant challenges faced by the clubbing, hospitality and live entertainment industries as a result of the ever-extending COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the rollout of the COVID vaccines means there is now light at the end of the tunnel, with the UK back into full-on lockdown a night-time economy already on the brink faces many more uncertainties in the months ahead. And while some night-time businesses have been able to access general and culture-sector-specific COVID support from the government, reps for the sector have repeatedly called on ministers to do more.

Announcing the inquiry, the chair of the APPG, Jeff Smith MP, said: "As we move now into a third national lockdown, there has never been a more important time for government to address the urgent needs of night-time economy businesses, their supply chains and those that rely on them for employment. Despite playing such a vital role in our local communities and UK economy, nightlife businesses have been repeatedly overlooked by the government, and we are determined to ensure that the specific challenges facing the sector are addressed. This inquiry will be a vital first step in our work".

Welcoming the inquiry, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, added: "Since March, we have seen the night-time sector berated, scapegoated and even blamed for rising infections. Our sector has slipped through the cracks of insufficient support packages and borne the brunt of ever-changing and inconsistent restrictions. We urge all those who work in the night-time economy, or simply enjoy a night out, to take part in the APPG survey to help policymakers understand the importance of our vital sector".

People can make submissions to the inquiry here.


Brian May launches perfume for badger fans
Like all celebrities, Brian May has launched his own fragrance. His is called 'Save Me'. Although that's not a cry of help for himself, rather he wants to save British wildlife. Some of the proceeds from the perfume will go to the Queen guitarist's Save Me Trust animal charity.

Created in collaboration with perfume company Xerjoff, the fragrance has been widely reported as smelling of "sandalwood and badger". That's something "pals of the rocker" have claimed, according to The Sun. However, the actual notes for the product say sandalwood and musk, with pink pepper, jasmine, cyclamen and camomile. That could be what badgers smell of though, you don't know.

"I'm excited about this unique collaboration", says May. "My great friend Sergio Momo has, with great generosity, designed a new perfume to benefit wildlife, through the famous company he created - Xerjoff - working with the Save Me Trust. Compassion has never smelled so sweet!"

Momo adds: "Actively participating in the defence of animals rights with [Xerjoff's charitable division] Spray To Help is an honour as well as a duty. Working with Dr Brian May and [Save Me Trust co-founder] Anne Brummer is a privilege, a wonderful experience marked by the sensitivity and love towards animals that we all should have and actively get engaged in".

So, if you fancy heading out for your weekly supermarket trip emitting the sweet smell of badger, you can purchase a bottle of this stuff for the low, low price of just 235 euros. Although if that seems a little stingy, you can also buy a signed one for 500 euros.


Bez challenges Joe Wicks' lockdown fitness crown
As Britain settles into its third lockdown, the stars of the original are returning for another outing. But everyone knows that, to keep things interesting in this third part of our unexpected lockdown trilogy, you need to have a new comedy character to draw people in.

So, while you could continue to do your lockdown morning workout with that Joe Wicks, he now has new competition from Happy Mondays maraca-shaker Bez.

The key difference between Joe Wicks and Bez though - or at least one of them - is that Wicks is already fit. Bez is entering the professional fitness guru domain as a man out of shape.

"I've started this new year seriously unfit, with a fat belly and creaky hips, and I can't stop eating chocolate", he says. "Last lockdown I got unfit, fat, lazy and into some seriously bad eating habits. This year, this lockdown, I need to sort it out sharpish".

Don't worry though, Bez isn't doing this alone. He will be directed by personal trainer Andrew Naylor, and will also visit a psychologist, yoga teacher and hypnotherapist during the online fitness series.

Asked what finally prompted him to want to get fit, Bez tells The Sun: "I have special pants I wear at Christmas. This year they didn't fit for the first time".

You can watch a trailer for 'Get Buzzin With Bez' here.


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 consultancy unit 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 Insights and CMU:DIY. or call 020 7099 9060
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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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