TODAY'S TOP STORY: Music industry reps yesterday met with UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden to discuss the problems facing British musicians touring Europe post-Brexit. The meeting followed the publication of an open letter demanding that the government act on this issue as soon as possible, signed by a plethora of artists, performers and music industry people... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Music industry puts more pressure on government over post-Brexit touring as ministers consider bilateral arrangements with individual EU countries
LEGAL Amazon calls inclusion on Notorious Markets list a "desperate stunt"
Estate for Bob Dylan collaborator sues for cut of $300 million Universal catalogue grab

DEALS Hipgnosis acquires Bob Rock's royalty share on Metallica and Michael Buble albums
MARKETING & PR Hannah Neaves and Azi Eftekhari launch creative agency Remedy Inc
RELEASES Drake delays new album release due to knee surgery
ONE LINERS Fred, Weezer, Barbarossa, more
AND FINALLY... Donald Trump bows out with one final blast of YMCA
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Music industry puts more pressure on government over post-Brexit touring as ministers consider bilateral arrangements with individual EU countries
Music industry reps yesterday met with UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden to discuss the problems facing British musicians touring Europe post-Brexit. The meeting followed the publication of an open letter demanding that the government act on this issue as soon as possible, signed by a plethora of artists, performers and music industry people.

When the last minute post-Brexit UK/EU trade deal was published last month it quickly became apparent that there was no provision ensuring visa-free touring for British artists in the EU or EU artists in the UK. That was despite previous assurances from ministers and officials that, providing a trade deal was agreed, musicians would not face any new bureaucracy when touring Europe once the UK was no longer a member of the EU.

With no provision for visa-free touring in the deal, UK musicians must now comply with the rules of each individual EU country when touring there. In some of those countries, that means musicians and crew will need to get travel permits and/or equipment carnets. It's feared that the cost and hassle of doing so will make some European tours unviable.

Both the UK and the EU have blamed the other side for there not being a provision covering visa-free touring in the trade deal. That seems to be because both sides made their own proposals that would have allowed musicians to tour Europe visa-free, but neither side approved of the other's plan.

In the House Of Commons earlier this week, Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage explained that the EU's proposals were not narrow enough and would therefore have allowed far too many smelly foreigners into the country, which would have gone against her government's all important "fuck all the foreigners" manifesto commitment. I mean, I'm paraphrasing slightly. But only slightly.

That said, Dinenage insisted that the "door is open" for further discussions with EU officials about a narrower arrangement that would remove visa requirements for UK artists in the EU and vice versa.

The government has made similar commitments ever since the music industry and its supporters in Parliament hit out at the lack of a provision for touring musicians when the big trade deal was made public. Though it's not clear that ministers feel quite the same sense of urgency as the music community, which is pushing for a solution to be found before COVID restrictions lift and touring becomes a reality again.

Stressing just how big an impact a failure to find a solution will have on the music community, that open letter in The Times yesterday stated: "British musicians, dancers, actors and their support staff have been shamefully failed by their government. The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be: everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment".

"The extra costs will make many tours unviable", it went on, "especially for young emerging musicians who are already struggling to keep their heads above water owing to the COVID ban on live music. This negotiating failure will tip many performers over the edge".

Among those signing the letter were Simon Rattle, Nicola Benedetti, Ed Sheeran, Elton John, Aitch, Brian Eno, Brian May, Joss Stone, Liam Gallager, Iron Maiden, The 1975, Glass Animals and Fryars. Oh, and a certain Roger Daltrey, who previously dismissed concerns that Brexit would have a negative impact on touring musicians.

It remains to be seen whether any speedy progress can actually be made on this issue. In the meantime, the government does have a Plan B, revealed in the House Of Lords yesterday, which is to agree narrower exemptions for touring musicians with individual EU countries.

Either way, following yesterday's meeting with Dowden, UK Music urged the government to keep this problem high up its agenda. The cross-sector trade group also noted just how much work ministers did to try to score a special a deal for the fishing sector, which is about a quarter the size of the UK music industry.

UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: "The UK music industry has always been a global success story and post-Brexit we should be doing everything we can to help our world-leading musical talent tour abroad and fly the flag for Britain. But the prospect of additional costs and red tape is already deterring many musicians from touring the continent in the future – which is a huge loss both to our country and to Europe".

"As an industry, we aren't interested in playing a blame game", he added. "We just want to reach a solution that enables us to continue delivering the positive benefits for the UK that we always have done. So it was welcome to hear the government's commitment to working to reach a solution, but we will continue to press for action that resolves the challenges our industry is facing from Brexit.

"With the fishing industry", he went on, "the government has shown a willingness to help key national industries adjust to new export requirements. As a £5.8 billion industry that supports 200,000 jobs and generates £2.9 billion in exports, the music industry must also be supported through these challenges".


Amazon calls inclusion on Notorious Markets list a "desperate stunt"
Amazon has issued a statement regarding its recent inclusion in the US Trade Representative's annual Notorious Markets piracy report for a second year running.

Hoping that the arrival of Joe Biden as US president will see it removed from the list of digital operations that pose a threat to US intellectual property owners, Amazon said its inclusion was "nothing more than a desperate stunt in the final days of [the Trump] administration".

The annual Notorious Markets report lists operations outside of the US which pose a threat to IP-owning businesses in the States by offering pirated and counterfeit material. It's designed as a guide for the office of the USTR so that it can put pressure on foreign governments to act against IP-infringing websites and companies based in their respective countries.

Amazon was first included in last year's edition of the report. The company quickly hit back at that inclusion, claiming that it had only been listed as a result of Donald Trump's personal vendetta against Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.

Given that the Notorious Market report is focused on piracy operations outside of the US, it is specifically Amazon's websites in the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy that are listed. That's based on the allegation that Amazon doesn't do enough to stop third parties from selling counterfeit goods via its platform.

The new report states that "right holders [have] expressed concern that the seller information displayed by Amazon is often misleading [and] that Amazon does not sufficiently vet sellers on its platforms". Rightsholders have also complained, it says, that Amazon's counterfeit removal processes can be "lengthy and burdensome, even for right holders that enrol in Amazon's brand protection programmes".

Amazon refutes all this - as it did last year - saying in a new statement issued in the final days of Trump's presidency: "Amazon does more to fight counterfeit [goods] than any other private entity we are aware of".

"We've proactively blocked more than six billion suspected bad listings before they were published", a spokesperson continued, "launched industry-leading brand protection tools that enable rights owners to partner with us in driving counterfeits to zero, and worked with law enforcement by referring confirmed counterfeiters for prosecution and sharing intelligence to more effectively stop counterfeits at the border".

"As a result of these and other efforts", they claim, "99.9% of pages viewed by customers on Amazon have never had a valid report of counterfeit".

The sale of counterfeit CDs on Amazon has been a concern for record companies in recent years - with one report in 2016 claiming that as many as 25% of CDs sold on Amazon could be bootlegs. And in August last year, a man was jailed for eighteen months for running a counterfeit CD operation, selling through Amazon and eBay.

As well as Amazon, various other online operations allegedly (and in some cases clearly) involved in music piracy are included on this year's Notorious Markets list, including stream-ripping sites Flvto, 2conv and MP3juices; file-sharing set-ups NewAlbumReleases, DYTT8, RARBG, Rapidgator and the good old Pirate Bay; and cyberlocker Chomikuj.

VK is also still listed, though these days it's mainly movie companies that have a problem with the Russian social network, it now operating licensed music services.

Take a peek at the full report here.


Estate for Bob Dylan collaborator sues for cut of $300 million Universal catalogue grab
Bob Dylan has been sued by the estate of a former collaborator which argues that it is due a cut of the reported $300 million he received when he sold his songs catalogue to Universal Music Publishing late last year. The major publisher is also a defendant in the lawsuit, accused of inducing Dylan and his companies to breach an old agreement with said collaborator, Jacques Levy.

In its lawsuit, the estate explains how Levy came to collaborate with Dylan back in the 1970s, ultimately co-writing seven of the nine songs that appear on the 1976 album 'Desire'. He also directed Dylan's 1975 'Rolling Thunder Revue' tour, which featured many of those 'Desire' songs.

What was basically a so called work-for-hire agreement was put together as part of that collaboration, which meant that Dylan was hiring Levy as an employee and would therefore own the copyright outright in any works they created together.

However, that agreement nevertheless provided Levy with many of the rights he'd have as actual co-owner of those copyrights. That allowed him to claim a share of performing rights income directly from the collecting societies, gave him vetoes over adaptions of the songs, and a 35% revenue share.

The lawsuit notes that "the agreement's terms make clear that the agreement is highly atypical of a work-for-hire agreement, bestowing on plaintiff's considerable significant material rights and material benefits that are not customarily granted to employees-for-hire and that the label 'work-for-hire' is, in this instance, a misnomer".

As for the 35% revenue share commitment, the lawsuit says that that was a wide-ranging right covering "any and all income earned by the compositions and actually received by [the defendants] from mechanical rights, electrical transcriptions, reproducing rights, motion picture synchronisation and television rights, and all other rights therein".

Therefore, claims the Levy estate, that 35% revenue share should also apply to the sale of the copyrights to Universal Music Publishing. Based on reports that that deal was worth $300 million and covered 600 songs - and a belief that the deal did not specifically allocate bespoke values to each work - the estate reckons that Dylan basically received $500,000 for each song in his catalogue. And it should therefore receive 35% of that $500,000 for each of the songs Levy co-wrote.

The lawsuit also alleges that Universal knew about the Levy agreement when negotiating its Dylan deal and "wrongfully, intentionally and without justification induced the Dylan defendants to breach the agreement with plaintiffs by advising and/or instructing the Dylan defendants not to render any revenue, income and/or payments to plaintiffs in connection with the catalogue sale".

We now await a response from Dylan and his companies. It seems likely that this dispute will get settled, but if not, it could put the spotlight on how these big catalogue acquisition deals that have been numerous of late actually work.


Hipgnosis acquires Bob Rock's royalty share on Metallica and Michael Buble albums
The Hipgnosis Songs Fund has announced its latest deal, acquiring producer Bob Rock's royalty share of Metallica's 'Metallica' album - aka 'The Black Album' - and Michael Buble's 'Call Me Irresponsible', 'Crazy Love', 'Christmas' and 'To Be Loved' albums.

"The breadth of Bob Rock's enormous successes are almost impossible to match by any creator in the history of music", says Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis. "From Metallica's most famous 'Black Album' to Michael Buble's 'Christmas', he has produced some of the biggest albums of all time that continue to be evergreen, year in and year out".

"Everyone who has worked with Bob knows he is a difference maker, which is why the artists he has produced end up making multiple albums with him, which are almost always their biggest successes", he continues. "Bob is very special and, as a fellow Canadian, it is a pleasure to welcome him and his incredible productions to the Hipgnosis family".

Rock adds: "I put my heart and soul into these recordings. I know how much Merck loves music, so it was an easy deal to put together".

This is the latest in a rush of deals for Hipgnosis since the beginning of the year, which has seen the company newly working with Neil Young, Jimmy Iovine and Shakira, and expanding its deal with Lindsey Buckingham.


Hannah Neaves and Azi Eftekhari launch creative agency Remedy Inc
TaP Music's Hannah Neaves and YouTube's Azi Eftekhari have launched a new agency, Remedy Inc, offering a range of creative services to entertainment projects and clients. At launch that includes working on a film about music and fashion for YouTube's Legacy Series, and general management of paid live-streams for Universal Music's new content studio Mercury Studios.

"Azi has long been a pivotal player between the worlds of music and technology and I feel privileged to be starting a business in such esteemed company", says Neaves.

Eftekhari adds: "Hannah's exceptional taste and creativity have been instrumental in shaping so much of the recent popular culture that I love, and I'm incredibly excited to be launching Remedy with her. I can't wait to focus on delivering culture-defining work for our clients in the months and years to come".

Neaves will continue to work for TaP Music alongside her involvement in Remedy Inc, moving into the new role of Creative Director at the management firm. There, she will continue to work on visual creative for artists including Dua Lipa and Ellie Goulding. Eftekhari, meanwhile, has left her role as Head Of Label Relations (EMEA) at YouTube.


Drake delays new album release due to knee surgery
Drake has scrapped plans to release his new album, 'Certified Lover Boy', this month. The record has been delayed indefinitely as he recovers from knee surgery he underwent in October.

"I was planning to release my album this month", he wrote in an Instagram story post. "But between surgery and rehab my energy has been dedicated to recovery. I'm blessed to be back on my feet, feeling great and focused on the album, but 'CLB' won't be dropping in January".

Plans for the album release have been in motion for some time. First (and so far only) single 'Laugh Now Cry Later' was released back in August.

So, fans might be disappointed that a new album is not as imminent as they thought. Still, it possibly won't dent their Drake listening hours much - it was recently reported that he is the first artist to pass 50 billion streams on Spotify.



Kobalt has signed producer Fred to a global neighbouring rights deal. "Fred and I are very excited to build the next phase of his career in partnership with Kobalt", says his manager Alex Gibson.

Metal Blade Records has signed 'deathgaze' band Kardashev. "We couldn't be more excited and grateful to be working with Metal Blade", say the band. "They're the industry leader and life-long dream partnership for us, as we've always looked up to their artists for innovation, direction, and image. Now, we get to be who we looked up to when we were young".

Proper Music Distribution has expanded its deal with music video label Weinerworld. The former will now handle sales and distribution of the latter's audio catalogue, in addition to its DVD and BluRay releases. "This is a fantastic logistical, sales and distribution deal enabling our entire catalogue to benefit from the knowledge and ethos of Proper's outstanding music-dedicated team", says Weinerworld CEO Anthony Broza.



Universal Music has appointed Maxim Vlasov to the position of Managing Director, Universal Music Russia. He was previously Executive Director of the major label's Russian division, before leaving in 2019 to become COO of football team FC Spartak Moscow. "I am delighted to welcome Maxim back to the UMG family", says Universal Music Central Europe CEO Frank Briegmann.



Weezer have released new single 'All My Favourite Songs'. Their surprise new album, 'OK Human', is out on 29 Jan

Barbarossa has released new single 'Awakeners Awaken Us'. "The song is basically about a relationship that I went through when I was just starting out as an adult", he says. "At the time it was all-consuming and I couldn't see how I could recover when it ended. With perspective on it now though I can see how it helped me to know when I found the right person and how the experience taught me so much about when things don't go to plan and that it just means to let go of outcome and trust that things will work out as they are meant to".

Goat Girl have released new single 'Badibaba'. "It touches on how the Earth's existence is controlled by exploitative systems, and the feeling of existential helplessness this induces", says guitarist Clottie Cream.

Art d'Ecco has announced that his new album, 'In Standard Definition', will be released on 23 Apr. Here's new single, 'TV God'. The song is about "what captivates us with celebrity", he says. "When the world is crumbling around us we look to entertainers and load up on celebrity super powers to rock our world and give us hope. It's all very sad, and all too unavoidable in today's day and age. I'm guilty of it, and so are you".

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


Donald Trump bows out with one final blast of YMCA
Donald Trump brought his four year run as the actual president of the actual United States of actual America to an end yesterday with one last blast of the Village People's 1978 single 'YMCA'.

That 'YMCA' has become Trump's sort of official theme tune as president is, I think everyone can agree, by far the most confusing thing that has happened in the last four years. Even if taken at face value and without any cultural context, what in the lyrics could possibly suggest 'YMCA' as a song to define the leader of the free world?

Although, maybe a confusing song choice is appropriate for a confusing presidency. And certainly very little about Trump's big farewell speech yesterday made any sense.

He said he wished "the new administration great luck and great success" and that he believed they "will have great success". Although he was still so angry about losing last year's presidential election that he couldn't bring himself to mention Joe Biden by name. He also skipped any of the usual formalities of the handover of power, including refusing to attend Biden's inauguration.

Trump also warned people to be "very, very careful" of the "horrible" pandemic, despite spending months dismissing it and paying little attention to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died as a result of COVID-19 over the last nine months.

On top of all that there were his actual closing words: "Have a good life. We will see you soon". Which hardly sounds like a sign off that concludes four years as one of the most powerful people in the world. It's a bit more like your uncle stumbling over his words at the end of a Christmas Zoom call. "Have a good life! Er... I mean, be good. Er... bye then! How do I turn this off?"

And then there was the very final scene of this very weird, over-long movie, in which Donald Trump rode off into the sunset to the sound of 'YMCA'.

Which again poses the question, what's that all about? I mean, the lyrics are generally believed to refer to hooking up with other men at the gym - even though lead Village Person Victor Willis once threatened to sue anyone who said that it was. Still, the track's status as a gay anthem is one of the things that makes the song choice especially weird, given the generally assumed prejudices of many of Trump's most enthusiastic fans.

I guess there is the line "you can do whatever you feel", which could be used to define Trump's presidency. Or maybe he likes the idea of there being somewhere that "you can hang out with all the boys", you know, for some of that "locker room talk" he's so keen on. Or maybe, just maybe, he's been warning us all this time that his brand has become so damaged over the last four years that he's now so broke he's going to have to live in a YMCA. Could it have been a cry for help all along?

The only thing we do know is that Trump really, really likes the song. In some cases, when an artist publicly objected to their music being used at a Trump rally - and especially if they threatened to go legal - the president would drop that track from his events. Not so 'YMCA', though.

Previously the aforementioned Willis made it very clear that he wasn't happy with Trump using the track, or another Village People song, 'Macho Man' (which was also weird), but to no avail.

Then, last November, the record label behind the Village People, Scorpio Music, said that it was planning to sue Donald Trump over his use of 'YMCA' in a video he shared on Twitter on election day. Legally speaking, it's easier to take action over a song being used without permission in a video than it is when a song is used without permission at a rally or other event.

Willis also speculated that Trump was actually singing "M-A-G-A" in his head, instead of "Y-M-C-A". Which, I suppose, is as good a theory as any we've come up with.

As for the new President's theme tune, well - as part of his inauguration festivities - Joe Biden persuaded The New Radicals to reunite to play their 1998 hit 'You Get What You Give'. The song was chosen because it was a favourite of Biden's late son Beau. So, probably best not make any jokes about that. Which is a shame, because we had a great one ready to go about Biden misunderstanding calls among Democrat voters to implement a new, radical agenda.

Of course, the big difference there was The New Radicals were happy with Biden's past use of their song, hence agreeing to actually perform it live. With Trump now gone, could Biden be about to usher in a brave new era where politicians only use songs at their events when they have the blessing of the musicians who made them? If so, it's going to make filling our 'and finally' section much harder.


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)
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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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