TODAY'S TOP STORY: Labour MP Harriet Harman has launched a ten point plan for ensuring that UK musicians continue to be able to tour the EU once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The document is an effort to force the government out of its inaction on the matter, as the window of opportunity provided by the pandemic to address post-Brexit issues before they have a major effect closes... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Labour MP Harriet Harman puts forward ten point plan to secure visa-free EU touring for UK musicians
LEGAL Ariana Grande settles 7 Rings song-theft lawsuit
Senators ask new US Attorney General to prioritise actions under new anti-piracy laws

DEALS Mykki Blanco signs to Trangressive, releases new single
Skindred members sign new record deal in at-risk music venues

MEDIA Investment outfit linked to Global Radio seeks approval to buy up to 49.99% of iHeart Media
ONE LINERS Jesy Nelson, HRVY, Demi Lovato, more
AND FINALLY... Three hour Comic Relief rave to broadcast from Royal Albert Hall this Friday
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Labour MP Harriet Harman puts forward ten point plan to secure visa-free EU touring for UK musicians
Labour MP Harriet Harman has launched a ten point plan for ensuring that UK musicians continue to be able to tour the EU once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The document is an effort to force the government out of its inaction on the matter, as the window of opportunity provided by the pandemic to address post-Brexit issues before they have a major effect closes.

Harman told the Guardian that there is an "unnerving silence" from the government on the need to ensure that artists can continue to easily tour Europe post-Brexit. She blamed a lack of any effort to do so on an "ignorance" of the economic importance of music to the UK.

When the last minute UK/EU post-Brexit trade deal was agreed in December, it was quickly noticed that there were no provisions for bureaucracy-free touring, either for UK artists going to the EU or vice versa. Such provisions would have ensured that performers would not require visas, travel permits or equipment carnets when on tour. They were absent from the final deal despite repeated promises from ministers that this would be a feature of any agreement.

The UK government quickly blamed it all on the EU, claiming to have put forward a plan for visa-free touring that was rejected. The EU said that it was completely the other way around - it put forward a brilliant proposal that the UK slapped out of its hands and kicked under a hedge.

It subsequently turned out that they were both right. Both sides had put forward proposals, neither of which were acceptable to the other side. For the EU, because it went against its fundamental principles. For the UK, because it didn't chime with the government's 'fuck all foreigners' policy that Harman says means ministers have "boxed themselves into a corner".

The lack of an EU-wide arrangement for musicians means that they will have to deal with each European country individually. For some countries, that means very little will change. However, for others, artists may have to secure travel permits for themselves and crew, and carnets for their equipment. This may add hundreds or even thousands of pounds to the cost of a tour, which for many artists will making touring across Europe impossible.

Minister For Digital And Culture, Caroline Dinenage, has said on multiple occasions that the government recognises how great the UK is at cultural stuff and the financial implications of putting up a load of barriers for touring performers. However, government policy on the matter so far has largely been along the lines of, "Well, if the EU wants to sort this out, we're not stopping it".

There has been vague talk of securing specific deals with individual EU member states and of setting up a UK music export office, but in the main very little seems to be actually happening. This despite current COVID restrictions providing a window of opportunity to sort out the problems while no one is able to tour anyway. Failure to capitalise on that opportunity will mean that a music community already on the brink because of COVID will face a new round of challenges once those restrictions lift.

With all that in mind, earlier this month the Musicians' Union and Incorporated Society Of Musicians teamed up to call for more urgency on the matter. A call that has so far gone unheeded. Except by Harriet Harman, of course.

Speaking to the Guardian, she said: "There's the assumption that somehow it's going to be perfectly all right because [musicians] always have been, and they're so successful so they'll be fine. And also partly: oh well, it's just a few middle-class people. Which is completely wrong. The financial necessity of [touring] being part of the business model of UK musical activity is absolutely beyond doubt. But there are also artistic issues because music thrives when there's a cultural interchange and artists are able to collaborate. And that generates even more artistic creativity".

"I don't think the government should be defensive, even if the truth is that they have cocked it up", she added. "The sector just wants to sort it out and to help".

And so, to help the government on its way to doing the right thing, Harman has put together a ten point plan, which is as follows...

  1. Negotiate reciprocal bilateral work permit agreements with countries, prioritising those countries most financially important to UK musicians and those that do not offer cultural exemptions for work permits, such as Spain, Italy, and Portugal.

  2. Negotiate a cultural exemption from 'cabotage rules' for music tours.

  3. Negotiate the exemption of musical instruments and equipment from carnet and CITES requirements.

  4. Publish correspondence and relevant information relating to previous negotiations with the EU on this matter, as it is not possible for the UK music sector to assist in lobbying EU countries without knowing what the UK government has already proposed and why it was rejected.

  5. Guarantee the continuation of at least part of the furlough and self-employed support for the music sector even after COVID restrictions have been lifted until such time as the visa issues have been resolved.

  6. Create a Music Touring Fund to support touring until such time as these issues are resolved.

  7. Extend the VAT reduction for the cultural sector until businesses have fully reopened and sales have restarted and until the visa issue is resolved enabling EU touring to recommence.

  8. Establish within government a Music Export Office (within the Department For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport, the Cabinet Office, the Department For International Trade, or the Department For Business, Energy And Industrial Strategy) to lead on the UK-EU and bilateral negotiations for musicians touring in EU countries and to co-ordinate support to musicians dealing with visa and other obstacles until such time as the visa issues are resolved.

  9. Establish an ad hoc cross-departmental working group to co-ordinate work by officials across government departments on this issue.

  10. Designate a minister to lead on this re-negotiation and lead the cross-departmental work on this issue.

Do all that and everything will be just fine, reckons Harman. Whether the government takes any notice of her plan is another matter. It is unlikely that government ministers are not aware of these options already - particularly as many have been put forward by music industry organisations as they have called for action in recent months. But pressure on the government to do something is mounting, and this only adds to that.

Read Harman's full proposal document here.


Ariana Grande settles 7 Rings song-theft lawsuit
A song-theft lawsuit that accused Ariana Grande of ripping off an earlier song on her 2019 hit '7 Rings' has been settled.

Grande and her many co-writers on the 2019 track were sued last year by Josh Stone. He said Grande's hit lifted elements of his song 'You Need It, I Got It'. The lawsuit stated that "a lay person listening to the 'hook' and chorus of both songs can hear the strikingly similar and, at times, identical beat, rhythm and lyrics of both songs".

In his original legal filing Stone explained how, after recording his track in January 2017, he had various meetings with music industry types, including at Universal Music Publishing. Producer Tommy Brown was invited to attend that meeting, Stone claimed, and subsequently got in touch with him to express specific interest in 'You Need It, I Got It' and suggesting that they might collaborate in the future.

However, no such collaborations between Stone and Brown occurred. Brown did collaborate, however, with Grande on the making of '7 Rings'. "Defendant Brown simply took 'I Got It' to Ariana Grande and the other defendants and later repackaged 'I Got It' into '7 Rings'", the lawsuit alleged.

The dispute had the makings of a classic song-theft court battle, but no such court battle will now occur. The New York court where the litigation was filed has confirmed that a settlement has been reached. Needless to say, no details about the settlement have been revealed.

The court itself stated: "It having been reported to this court that this case has been settled, it is ordered that the above-captioned action be, and hereby is, dismissed without costs and without prejudice to restoring the action to this court's calendar if the application to restore the action is made within 30 days".


Senators ask new US Attorney General to prioritise actions under new anti-piracy laws
The leaders of the intellectual property subcommittee in the American Senate have written to newly appointed US Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to ensure that the country's Department Of Justice gets busy quickly utilising the new powers it has been granted to prosecute illegal streaming services.

Senators Patrick Leahy and Thom Tillis are talking about the powers granted to the DoJ by the new Protecting Lawful Streaming Act. Those new laws were crafted by Tillis and voted through by Congress late last year as part of a mega-spending bill. It basically brings commercial-level online infringement in line with commercial-level physical product infringement by increasing the possible penalties the infringers could face.

In their letter to Garland, the senators state: "Unlawful streaming services cost the US economy an estimated $29 billion per year. This illegal activity impacts growth in the creative industries in particular, which combined employ 2.6 million Americans and contribute $229 billion to the economy per year. In short, unlawful streaming is a threat to our creative industries and the economic security and well-being of millions of Americans".

The PLSA, they then add, "empowers the Department Of Justice to pursue felony charges against criminal commercial piracy enterprises". With that in mind, they wonder, "will you commit to making prosecutions under the PLSA a priority?". And, if so, "what steps will you take during your first one hundred days to demonstrate your commitment to combating copyright piracy?"

Tillis carefully worded his PLSA so that it only targets those running unlicensed streaming services on a commercial basis, to counter concerns that the new laws could result in individuals who stream unlicensed material also facing criminal action. As a result, the PLSA, unlike other copyright matters in that big spending bill, was not opposed by the tech sector and digital rights groups.

The senators stress those limitations in their letter as well, urging the AG to put in place extra guidance to ensure that only the commercial operators of illegal streaming set-ups are targeted by the DoJ.

"What type of guidance do you intend to provide to make clear that prosecutions should only be pursued against commercial piracy services?", they ask in their letter. "Such guidance should make clear that the law does not allow the department to target the ordinary activities of individual streamers, companies pursuing licensing deals in good faith, or internet service providers, and should be reflective of congressional intent as reflected in our official record".

Leahy and Tillis request that Garland respond to their various queries by no later than 12 Apr.


Mykki Blanco signs to Trangressive, releases new single
Mykki Blanco has announced that they have signed to Transgressive Records, with new single 'Free Ride' getting its premiere as Annie Mac's Hottest Record In The World on BBC Radio 1 last night.

Of the new deal, Transgressive Records' co-founder Toby L says: "We have been huge fans of Mykki Blanco since we first saw them slay our sister Visions Festival several years ago in London. Fiercely defiant and effortlessly genre-less, it is an absolute honour to welcome them to the Transgressive roster".

"We have so much incredible music set to drop in the next twelve months across several very important projects", he adds on their plans with Blanco. "An icon and an unmistakable charisma, making some of the most vital music we've heard in years: prepare to be utterly enchanted".

Noting Transgressive's alliance with [PIAS] via its Cooperative network, Blanco's manager, Singular Arts Group's David Swartz, adds: "I have nothing but confidence and enthusiasm in the team over at Transgressive and the wider team at [PIAS] that they are a perfect fit for Mykki. Their recent and ongoing success with acts like Arlo Parks and Beverly Genn-Copeland is a testament to their eclectic tastes and ability to truly empower their artists to thrive on a global level".

"I have been so impressed with Transgressive's passion and commitment to enable Mykki to realise their artistic vision without compromise and to support Mykki in taking their career to the next level", he continues. "This feels like the best label situation that Mykki has been in over their entire career thus far. This new chapter for Mykki has been a long time in the making and I'm just absolutely THRILLED to finally be launching the beginnings of this new era now and to have such loving supportive partners involved with the team we are working with at Transgressive and [PIAS]".

'Free Ride' is co-produced by FaltyDL and Hudson Mohawke. Watch the video here.


Skindred members sign new record deal in at-risk music venues
Skindred have announced that they have signed a new four album deal with Earache Records. Highlighting the precarious situation that many of the UK's grassroots venues find themselves in because of COVID, each member of the band signed the new deal in an at-risk music venue.

"We could not be more THRILLED to be signing Skindred", says Earache Records MD Digby Pearson. "They are such a truly unique and much-loved band. We have all been huge fans of them since day one and have followed [frontman] Benji [Webbe]'s career since the very beginning, so to have Skindred sign to Earache is something that we are all extremely excited by. We are delighted to welcome Benji back to the Earache family along with his bandmates Arya, Mikey and Dan, and look forward to working with them for many albums to come".

Skindred drummer Arya Goggin adds: "We are so excited to announce that we are signing a worldwide deal with Earache Records. I have been a fan of the label since I started listening to heavy music. Their independent attitude and willingness to push the boundaries are something we can identify with in Skindred".

Goggin signed his contract in The Black Heart in Camden, which is currently on the Music Venue Trust's 'red list' of venues most at risk of closure. "It was great to ink the deal at The Black Heart in Camden and shine a light on all the struggling independent music venues too", he says. "The Music Venue Trust is something that we feel passionately about and we want these venues to thrive and be part of the future of British music as well as being part of its history".

With Goggin holing up in The Black Heart, Webbe went to Le Pub in Newport, while Dan Pusley checked in at Louisiana in Bristol and Mikey Demus visited Brighton's Green Door Store.

Commenting, Beverley Whitrick, the Strategic Director of Music Venue Trust, says: "Music Venue Trust is incredibly grateful to our artist patrons who talk publicly about why grassroots music venues are important to them and their career development. When a band like Skindred do or say something to illustrate how much they value these venues, this resonates with their legion of fans and helps highlight the strong relationship between an artist and the venues and their teams".

"When we are still asking for donations to the #SaveOurVenues campaign to help secure the survival of the venues most at risk of imminent closure, this is more welcome than ever", she adds.

MVT is crowdfunding to keep these and other venues in business until pandemic restrictions are lifted. Chip in here.


Investment outfit linked to Global Radio seeks approval to buy up to 49.99% of iHeart Media
An investment vehicle with links to UK broadcaster Global has confirmed it is seeking permission from US media regulator the FCC to acquire up to 49.99% of American radio giant iHeart.

Global Media & Entertainment Investments is incorporated in the Bahamas and headed up by Michael Tabor, who is also a key backer of the main Global media company in the UK, and father of its President Ashley Tabor-King.

In a letter to the FCC, the Global investment outfit confirms it has acquired 8.7% of the publicly listed iHeartMedia. Because of US rules regarding the foreign ownership of media companies, iHeart has sought approval from the FCC for Global's current equity holding, and also for it to increase its stake to 9.99%.

However, in its letter, Global says that it had previously agreed with iHeart management that approval would be sought for it to potentially increase its stake in the US business to 49.99%.

iHeart actually has its own rules that mean an investor needs board approval to take more than 9.99% of the company's stock. But, Global argues in its letter to the FCC, that's irrelevant in terms of the regulator pre-approving any future deal that takes its shareholding up to 49.99%.

With that in mind, Global is directly seeking FCC approval for any future iHeart share purchases that increases its overall stake above 9.99%, anywhere up to 49.99%, reckoning that that request "is fully compliant with the FCC's rules, as well as the Commission's stated policy goals of providing for the free transferability of the publicly traded stock of a company like iHeart and promoting increasing cross-border investment in media companies".

Despite iHeart's very public financial challenges in recent years - and the general consensus that the radio industry at large has plenty of challenges ahead - Global isn't the only outfit interested in acquiring a sizeable slice of the US broadcasting giant. Last year it emerged that Liberty Media had got regulator approval to potentially increase its existing stake in the iHeart business to 50%.

In Liberty's case, the regulator was the US Department Of Justice, the issue there being market dominance rather than foreign ownership, because Liberty already controls Sirius XM and Pandora in the US, as well as being the biggest shareholder in Live Nation.


CMU Insights: Sign up for free Music Copyright Explained webinars
Next week the UK government's Intellectual Property Office and CMU Insights will launch a new guide to music rights that will help everyone in the music community better understand the ins and outs of music copyright, music licensing and how music rights make money.

Called 'Music Copyright Explained', the easy-to-follow guide talks through how copyright gives music-makers control over the songs and recordings they create. It also explains how music-makers and the music industry generate income out of their music rights, and outlines all the key things music-makers and other creators need to know about music copyright and licensing.

You can sign up to receive a free PDF copy of the guide as soon as it is published here.

Alongside the launch, CMU is presenting a free 'Music Copyright Explained' webinar for music-makers, music industry professionals and anyone making use of music rights. Hosted by CMU's Chris Cooke, the one-hour session will run through the key information contained in the guide, plus include a live Q&A answering the attendees' music copyright questions.

You can sign up for the free webinars here.



Former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson has signed with management company YMU for global representation. "I am so excited to join YMU and can't wait to start my next chapter", she says.

HRVY has signed a new worldwide record deal with BMG. "Spelling might not be HRVY's strong point, but he knows how to make great music, and we're excited to have him join us at BMG", says the label's Jamie Nelson. HRVY himself, meanwhile, is "THRLLD".



The UK's Official Charts Company has hired Becca Monahan as its new Commercial Director. She joins from NBC Universal where she was Global Licensing Director. "I am THRILLED to be joining the Official Charts Company and its talented management team, especially at a time when there are many opportunities to drive the business forward", she says. "I can't wait to get started".

New multi-venued entertainment complex Outernet London has appointed Joe Russell as Events Director. "I'm excited to be joining Outernet London at such a pivotal moment, as we prepare for launch and beyond with a roster of great live events to look forward to", he says.

Booking agent Sally Dunstone has moved from X-Ray Touring to Primary Talent, taking her roster of acts, including Rina Sawayama and Kelly Lee Owens, with her. "What Primary have put together over the past year has not gone unnoticed in the concerts world and I am excited to join the team with my talented roster of artists and keep the momentum going", she says.



Music distributor Ditto is launching an NFT exchange via which artists can raise finance by auctioning off shares in upcoming releases. This will be enabled by some NFT wizardry and Ditto's existing blockchain-powered rights ownership and royalty splits platform Bluebox. Rappers Big Zuu and Taylor Bennett will be the first to use the new service.



Tokimonsta has announced a two day livestreamed event featuring talks and performances by women in the music industry, called Every Woman. There will be panels on music production and being a mother in the music industry, among others. Performances will include sets from Aluna, Tinashe and Tokimonsta herself. It all takes place on the LostResortTV Twitch channel on 26-27 Mar.



Demi Lovato has announced that she will release new album 'Dancing With The Devil… The Art Of Starting Over' on 2 Apr. It will serve as a companion piece to her upcoming four-part documentary series 'Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil', which premieres on YouTube on 23 Mar.

Imagine Dragons have released the video for new single 'Follow You', which co-stars Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson of 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia'.

Lambchop will release new album 'Showtunes' on 21 May. Here's new single 'A Chef's Kiss'.

Gilligan Moss have released new single 'Special Thing'. The song, say the duo, "was written as an ode to our French predecessors - robots and monoliths alike".

Delilah Bon has released the video for recent single 'I Don't Listen To You'.

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


Three hour Comic Relief rave to broadcast from Royal Albert Hall this Friday
A three hour rave is taking place at the Royal Albert Hall this Friday and you're all invited! Not really, of course. That's a joke. Not about the rave - that's true - but you can't go to it. Not least because it's already been filmed, ready for broadcast online so that you can enjoy it from home.

It's all in aid of Comic Relief. Hence the joke. The hilarious joke about how we've all been stuck indoors for a year. Ha. Ha. Ha.

The Comic Relief Rave is being hosted by Gok Wan and Glitterbox, and will take place directly after this year's BBC One Red Nose Day telethon in aid of the charity. It'll feature sets from DJs Melvo Baptiste and The Shapeshifters, and singer Teni Tinks. The event is inspired by Wan's own Isolation Nation and Defected offshoot Glitterbox's virtual parties.

"I'm so excited to be hosting the first ever Red Nose Rave after party", says Wan. "I have been a huge supporter of Comic Relief for over ten years now and wanted to do something special for 2021. It's been a difficult year for so many people and despite all the restrictions, we didn't want it stopping us from coming together and having a fantastic time while supporting a great cause. It's an excuse to get dressed up – or down – listen to some good music, and have a good old dance at home, because let's face it, we all need a bit of fun".

"I started these raves in my kitchen during the first lockdown because of the impact it was having on all of us", he says. "I wanted to create a space where we could all have some fun, let our hair down and also create a sense of community. We hope to be able to bring our Isolation Nation sessions on the road as soon as we can, but in the meantime, we can all turn our kitchens, living rooms or bedrooms into the most exclusive nightclubs on the street on 19 Mar".

Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis adds: "It is very exciting that we can all continue our Red Nose Day celebrations long into the night. Gok and Glitterbox, thank you so much for bringing us our first ever virtual rave. What I love most about Gok's kitchen raves is that they have provided a form of escapism that I think we have all needed at times. And a real sense of togetherness. It's a guaranteed night of entertainment with Gok leading the charge, and any donations made will support so many important causes, both here at home and around the world".

The rave will stream for free from 11.30pm on Friday night on the Comic Relief, Defected and Gok Wan Facebook Live and YouTube channels. Access is free, but obviously you're encouraged to donate some money to Comic Relief while you dance. There's more info on what else is on as part of Red Nose Day this year and how to donate 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
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.
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