TODAY'S TOP STORY: The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry yesterday confirmed that, thanks to the ongoing streaming boom, the global recorded music market continued to grow last year, despite sync and public performance revenues taking a hit as a result of COVID-19. According to the IFPI's new 'Global Music Report', revenues for the worldwide record industry rose 7.4% year-on-year to $21.6 billion... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Global record industry revenues grow 7.4% to $21.6 billion in COVID year
BPI stats show slowed growth for UK record label revenues in 2020

LABELS & PUBLISHERS Discovery Mode, ER and royalty distribution models in the spotlight as IMPALA publishes ten point plan to "make streaming work"
Ivors Academy calls on labels to #PaySongwriters

RELEASES Inki announces augmented reality book and album project
GIGS & FESTIVALS Initial artists and keynote interviewees confirmed for The Great Escape Online
ONE LINERS Julian Casablancas, Daniel Avery, Laura Marling, more
AND FINALLY... Nile Rodgers sits for "world's first voice-interactive digital portrait"
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Collective Licensing In Ten Steps
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Global record industry revenues grow 7.4% to $21.6 billion in COVID year
The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry yesterday confirmed that, thanks to the ongoing streaming boom, the global recorded music market continued to grow last year, despite sync and public performance revenues taking a hit as a result of COVID-19. According to the IFPI's new 'Global Music Report', revenues for the worldwide record industry rose 7.4% year-on-year to $21.6 billion.

While the live industry was in shutdown for much of 2020, and some music rights revenues were also negatively impacted by the pandemic, premium streaming proved to be a business model that was pretty much COVID-proof. And with premium streaming services already the biggest revenue generator for the record industry, that put the recorded side of the music industry in a strong position to weather the COVID storm, even though shutdown did negatively impact some revenues, and certainly initially forced a rethink of release schedules and marketing campaigns.

The record industry's income from the broadcast and public performance of music - a growth revenue stream for many years now - was down 10.1% in 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic. Sync also took a hit as TV and movie studios paused their productions and ad agencies put campaigns on hold, resulting in a 9.4% decline for labels and artists. Revenues from CD and vinyl sales continued to decline too, down 4.7%, though the rate of decline slowed despite COVID forcing many high street retailers to close at various points. And the vinyl revival continued, with global income from that format up 23.5%.

However, all those declines were compensated for by streaming, with total income from all the different streaming platforms up 19.9% to $13.4 billion. As noted during the launch of the new 'Global Music Report' yesterday, an increasingly diverse range of digital platforms now fall under the steaming category, with user-generated content and video-sharing apps, and gaming, fitness and livestreaming services that make use of music, all contributing to that $13.4 billion. Although, for now, it's still really premium music services like Spotify and Apple Music that bring in the serious cash.

When you break down all the money by revenue stream, streaming at large accounts for 62.1%. Though, if you want a little more detail, ad-supported streams bring in 16.2% of the money, while premium streams generated 46%. Then it goes physical (19.5%), performance rights (10.6%), downloads (5.8%) and sync (2%).

As well bigging up the new kinds of streaming services that are slowly bringing in more income for the record industry, the panel discussion that accompanied the launch also focused heavily on emerging markets. The biggest regions remain US/Canada and Europe, though the significant market growth is found in Asia and Latin America. If you take mature music market Japan out of the maths, the Asian region saw revenues rise by 29.9%, with China and South Korea key in all that. Latin America, meanwhile, saw 15.9% growth.

Another growth region is Africa and the Middle East, markets that have become an increasingly big talking point in recent years, with the majors all investing heavily in that part of the world. In revenue terms, it is still very much early days, and while total revenues were up 8.4%, the Middle East and North Africa accounted for a lot of that growth. Indeed, MENA and South Africa together currently account for 86.7% of revenues from this region. However, everyone seems certain that there is significant growth potential in a number of African markets in the next decade.

As for the lobbying priorities that also appear in the IFPI's annual stats pack, continued safe harbour reform and the expansion of performing rights for sound recordings in those countries where those still don't exist remain priorities for the global trade group.

The 'Global Music Report' also urges lawmakers to keep copyright exceptions to the minimum, those exceptions having become a big part of the safe harbour debate in Germany in particular. There is then a small section dedicated to the still-going-on-but-less-talked-about battle against online piracy, with web-blocking promoted as an anti-piracy tactic of choice.

The report doesn't really get itself involved in the big debate around the economics of streaming that has become much more high profile in the last year as many artists saw their live revenues collapse and started to question why, in many cases, they get only a minority share of the one COVID-proof revenue stream.

That debate only came up during the report's launch once it got to the Q&A. In response, IFPI boss Frances Moore offered what has generally become the standard response from the record industry - and certainly the majors - to all that: basically "look at all the competition!"

First, competition in the talent market place. Artists now have so much choice when picking business partners to work with on their recordings, Moore stressed, meaning each artist could seek and choose whatever they consider to be the best and fairest deal. And secondly, competition on the streaming platforms. Maybe the reason many artists are struggling to make a living from their recorded music, she proposed, is the sheer quantity of tracks being uploaded to the streaming services every single week.

Both of those statements are valid points, of course, though only address some of the issues raised during the big streaming debate that has taken place over the last year. In particular, it ignores the increased value to the record industry of catalogue, and the fact that many of the artists behind that catalogue are stuck in 20th century life of copyright record deals that possibly pay out-dated royalty rates, and provide no opportunity to seek an alternative business approach or business partner.

One of the more interesting lobbying positions in the report does possibly link in to the economics of streaming debate though. It urges lawmakers to respect "the freedom of contract". It states: "In a fair and functioning marketplace, parties should be free to agree the terms of their licensing arrangements".

There are various ways the law could interfere in the deals done within the music industry, all of which the labels would likely oppose. But that might also include interventions that seek to increase the remuneration or transparency rights of artists over their business partners.

"Interference, however well-intentioned, will distort the market, disincentivise investment and undermine the growth of the entire sector", the report adds. "Binding the industry's hands through static regulation – which can never evolve as fast as technology – limits the ability of record labels, artists, and platforms to find the most effective and innovative solutions to respond to an evolving marketplace".

But hey, look at us, honing in on the politics when we're meant to be celebrating the big numbers and rising revenues. Here's Moore with her official statement on all that: "As the world contends with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded of the enduring power of music to console, heal and lift our spirits".

"Some things are timeless, like the power of a great song or the connection between artists and fans", she goes on. "But some things have changed. With so much of the world in lockdown and live music shut down, in nearly every corner of the globe most fans enjoyed music via streaming. Fuelled by record companies' ongoing investment in artists and their careers, along with innovative efforts to help artists bring music to fans in new ways, recorded music revenues grew globally for the sixth consecutive year, driven by subscription streaming".

"As record companies continue to expand their geographical footprint and cultural reach, music has become more globally connected today, than ever before and this growth has spread across all regions around the globe. With many impacted by the pandemic, and concerned with growing social injustices, record companies have worked hard to make a meaningful, lasting contribution to the world we want to live in".


BPI stats show slowed growth for UK record label revenues in 2020
Not wanting the IFPI to take all the glory with its 'Global Music Report', UK record label trade body the BPI has also published its own set of 2020 stats. But for the UK rather than the world, obviously. They are similarly positive though, showing that UK recorded music revenues were up, up, up last year thanks to streaming and despite the pandemic hitting other sources of income.

Total revenues grew by 3.8% in 2020, reaching £1.118 billion. That's the fifth consecutive year of growth and the highest total since 2006 (when revenues were slightly higher, at £1.166 billion).

Still, while everything was up, it was not up as much as in 2019, when growth was 7.3%. And that is all thanks to the bloody pandemic. Streaming revenues grew 15.4% to £736.5 million, but sync was down 26.4% and public performance income 22.4%, both as a result of the COVID effect. And the shutdown of the UK high street at various points in 2020 likely contributed to the continued decline in physical sales, from which revenues dropped by 2.6% to £210.3 million.

That said, the physical product dip could have been greater were it not for the response by independent record shops to the pandemic, not to mention the continued popularity of vinyl, revenues for which were up by 30.5% to £86.5 million. That compares to the 18.5% drop in CD sales.

Of course, with the sale of CDs still bringing in £115 million, the format remains important for plenty of British record labels. However, vinyl revenues are now on course to overtake CD income in the UK for the first time since the late 1980s.

"The lockdowns inevitably affected financial results in 2020 but, unlike other parts of our industry which were hit very hard, the seamless connectivity of streaming and the enduring love of vinyl meant that recorded music was relatively insulated from its worst effects, and was still able to post growth", says BPI boss Geoff Taylor. "The ongoing increase in paid subscription streaming fuelled labels' ability to continue investing in artists".

"The safe and rapid reopening of live venues is the music community's critical first priority", he added, "but the resilience of recorded music demonstrates the important role it plays in people's lives even in the midst of the COVID pandemic".

On the continued importance of physical media, he continued: "Vinyl's exceptional performance despite retail lockdowns confirms its role as a long-term complement to music streaming".

"2021 is likely to be the year in which revenues from LPs overtake those from CDs for the first time in well over three decades – since 1987. In addition to the immediacy and convenience of streaming, fans want to get closer to the artists they love by owning a tangible creation, and more and more of them are discovering how vinyl, or lovingly created CD boxsets, can enhance their experience of music".

Other physical formats, by the way, which includes cassettes, also saw revenues rise by 4.4% to £8.2 million. A total of 150,000 cassettes were sold last year in the UK, the most since 2003. Yeah, go figure.


Discovery Mode, ER and royalty distribution models in the spotlight as IMPALA publishes ten point plan to "make streaming work"
As the UK Parliament's inquiry into the economics of streaming reaches its conclusion, the pan-European trade group for the independent music community, IMPALA, has published a ten point plan to "make streaming work".

Among other things, it criticises moves by Spotify to allow artists and labels to influence its algorithm in return for a royalty discount; opposes the introduction of equitable remuneration on streams but calls for fairer artist royalties across the sector; and proposes a number of alternative approaches to allocating streaming revenue to tracks each month, other than user-centric royalty distribution.

Launching the plan, IMPALA says that it is joining the ongoing streaming debate on behalf of its member organisations and labels as part of a bid to "make streaming fairer and provide a dynamic, compelling and responsible future for creators and for fans".

There's lots to digest in the plan and its accompanying document - which also talks about ongoing safe harbour reform and the implementation of the copyright directive in Europe - though the statements on topics like Spotify's Discovery Mode, Performer ER and user-centric royalty distribution are probably most newsworthy.

Spotify's announcement last year that it was piloting a scheme called Discovery Mode that would allow artists and labels to inform its algorithm in return for accepting a lower royalty on streams that that intervention facilitated received a mixed reception.

Some people welcomed Spotify's new marketing tool, pointing out that the algorithm is generating ever more plays via the streaming service's playlists, and its personalised radio and auto-play functions, and that being able to influence that process was a big help. Yes, it came with a cost, but not an upfront cost, given that artists and labels basically pay by accepting a lower royalty rate.

At its recent Stream On event, Spotify bigged up the successes that it said artists and labels have achieved as a result of its Discovery Mode pilot. It claimed that labels had seen on average a 30% growth in streams when they had used the service, meaning they made more money overall despite the lower royalties paid on those streams. They also referenced one case study involving an independent artist and music company - Odie and Emipre - who, Spotify said, had achieved a 69% audience growth and 75% royalty increase by participating in their Discovery Mode pilot.

However, there have also been plenty of critics of the scheme, with many artists, labels and managers seeing the move as a return to the bad old days when you basically had to pay to get your CDs on the most prominent shelves in the big high street retail chains. Or - even worse - as a digital equivalent to payola, the usually illegal activity of paying radio stations to playlist your music.

IMPALA's members are in the latter group. Although it doesn't specifically namecheck Spotify or Discovery Mode, the organisation's plan states: "We call on the entire music sector to stand with IMPALA to reject any proposals by services that reduce royalties for plays, or privileged treatment, in algorithms or other features. This is payola, and has no legitimate place in improving viability and opportunity for creators".

The IMPALA plan also discusses the proposal - frequently mentioned during the UK Parliament's inquiry - that performer equitable remuneration should be paid on streams. That would mean artists having a statutory right to payment whenever their recordings are streamed - administered via the collective licensing system - as is currently the case when music is broadcast or played in public.

The precise motives and mechanics of ER differ in copyright systems around the world, though a performer's automatic right to payment under law often originates in compulsory licences, scenarios where the music industry is obliged to licence through the collective licensing system at standard rates. Where that applies, both copyright owners and performers lose their right to actually control the use of their music, but get a statutory right to payment for that usage in return.

IMPALA hones in on this in opposing the introduction of ER in the streaming space. "Equitable remuneration sounds fair and has recently received a lot of attention", it states. "But let's be clear, it is not a new right – it is a compensation mechanism for rights when they are stripped away".

It also notes that the radio sector pays much lower royalties to the music industry than the streaming services. This "illustrates the loss of value" an ER approach can create, it goes on, "with radio paying rates per listener that are up to 200 times lower than streaming. It may also allow monopoly market participants to end the industry's freedom to negotiate commercial rates for streaming; and it would not result in greater payouts to artists".

There are various reasons why many in the artist community have called for ER to be paid on streams, though one key reason is to help heritage artists whose catalogues have become newly valuable in the streaming age, but who are often locked into 20th century life-of-copyright record deals that pay much lower royalties. When indie labels were questioned by MPs as part of the parliamentary inquiry, they argued that a better way to deal with that problem is for each label to commit to pay the same streaming royalty rates across its entire catalogue.

MPs were told how Beggars Group pays the same streaming royalty rate - 25% - to all its artists, including those on old contracts that originally provided lower rates that were standard at the time and based on physical product being manufactured. The company also writes off unrecouped balances - advances and other costs that artist are meant to repay - after fifteen years. The label's Rupert Skellet told MPs: "Our chairman, Martin Mills, has tried to persuade the majors over a number of years to adopt at least a minimum royalty rate for all artists".

IMPALA also supports this system for providing heritage artists with a fairer deal. "Record labels must commit to revising all pre-digital royalty rates, and all artists should receive a fair contemporary digital rate", it states. "This benefits all artists, but especially those on older deals where royalties can be as low as 4%".

Similar artist-friendly policies were also included in the Fair Deals Declaration developed by the World Independent Network in 2014, to which many indie labels have now signed up. "Equitable remuneration cuts across innovative initiatives such as the Fair Digital Deals Declaration, introduced by the independents to deal with legacy issues and to facilitate the sharing of revenue previously not covered by contracts", IMPALA also argues. "It transformed the market, and helped thousands of artists share in the benefits accrued to labels when Spotify floated".

As for how streaming services allocate monies to individual tracks each month, IMPALA also discusses the proposal that a user-centric system be introduced. This would mean that rather than monies being shared out based on the percentage of consumption achieved by each track among large groups of subscribers, each individual user's monthly subscription would be divvied up separately.

"User-centric payouts feel more appealing to some who like the idea of their money going to the artists they listen to", it notes. "We are ready to explore this option and scrutinise the pros, cons and unintended consequences of some services choosing the user-centric model. We feel, though, that on its own it won't create the optimal market for artists, just a different set of artists who gain and lose, without growing the market or embracing other dynamics which we feel are needed to achieve change".

In its submission to the parliamentary inquiry, the UK's Association Of Independent Music raised similar concerns about the user-centric approach. But it also proposed a very interesting alternative system for sharing out the money, different to both the current set-up and basic user-centric.

That's called the 'artist growth model' and would mean, AIM explained, that "the first tier of streams would be the most valuable, and that the more streams achieved by an artist, the less valuable each stream would become incrementally". Such a system would benefit newer and more niche artists over the biggest mainstream stars.

IMPALA also proposes that the artist growth model be considered, while presenting some other new approaches too that it reckons should also be explored, stating "we want a more nuanced approach to the distribution of value from streaming platforms".

Some of those other proposals could complement rather than replace the current system - or indeed a user-centric or artist growth system. It includes paying additional royalties on longer tracks - at five, ten and fifteen minutes - to overcome the fact that the current streaming model - where a one-off royalty is paid at 30 seconds - disadvantages those genres like classical where longer tracks are the norm. And also possibly paying a premium where a subscriber specifically seeks out an artist or track, or saves it to their personal library.

Another proposal is that artists and labels be able to generate extra additional revenues via streaming platforms by having the option to provide access to extra premium content, presumably in return for a one-off or recurring extra charge.

You can check IMPALA's full ten step plan here. It also talks about platforms allowing users to navigate catalogues by label and publisher, as well as songwriter, producer and musician; the need for services to better combat activity like stream manipulation; and why streaming firms should be doing more to support local repertoires in smaller markets and to ensure that algorithm developments don't negatively affect diversity, local repertoire and opportunities for artist discovery.

Launching the plan, Mark Kitcatt, Chair of IMPALA's streaming working group and also MD of Spanish indie Everlasting/Popstock, says: "We spoke to members to get a feel for what streaming can and should offer, and how we can get there. We have an array of ideas to deliver greater income and opportunity to creators, and greater value to fans. The safe harbour experiment has failed on both those fronts - it needs to be put away for good. Labels must pay contemporary digital royalty rates to all artists. And then we can put fans and artists at the centre of a plan to unlock the true potential of streaming for this industry".

Meanwhile, IMPALA's Executive Chair Helen Smith adds: "We need to change the streaming status quo. Our conclusion says it all. The independent music community stands with artists, ready to help build better models for creators, consumers, services and the environment to make the most of the promise of streaming. Our proposals will also be useful for EU countries implementing the copyright directive".

And the boss of AIM in the UK, Paul Pacifico, states: "It is vital to explore innovative solutions to streaming. It is also time to look beyond old world mechanics like equitable remuneration and into models that will work for a better streaming future. This paper will be helpful in setting out some of the tools that can really make a difference and achieve a more diverse and healthy music ecosystem".


Ivors Academy calls on labels to #PaySongwriters
MNEK, Amy Wadge, Ross Golan, Jess Glynne, Giorgio Moroder, Dan Bastille and Andrew Lloyd Webber are among various artists and songwriters lending their support to new Ivors Academy campaign #PaySongwriters. It calls on record labels to better compensate songwriters for their work.

In an open letter, co-signed by 300 songwriters as well as US trade groups Songwriters Of North America and The 100 Percenters, the Ivors Academy calls on labels to make two changes to how songwriters are paid.

First, it asks that labels introduce a minimum and non-recoupable daily allowance of £75 or $120 to cover expenses while they work with recording artists. Secondly, it calls for non-performing songwriters to receive four points from the label share on master recordings of any songs they compose.

Coinciding with the publication of the latest global recording industry figures from the IFPI, the letter says: "We can see that the record industry has experienced a huge upturn in revenues whilst songwriter profits have collapsed".

"In the past, songwriters have reaped great rewards for their work, and indeed many learnt their trade when this was still the norm", it says. "Sadly no longer: 100,000 streams of a song will not cover the price of a cup of coffee. A songwriter could have many millions of streams and still be incapable of making rent in the cities where their work is done. Songwriters of the past risked their investment because there was a chance of returns if a song was used or indeed a hit. Without the possibility of those returns where is the incentive? This question should cause us to reflect".

Commenting alongside the letter, artist and songwriter MNEK says: "There are no songs without songwriters, lyricists and wordsmiths. To award ceremonies to the digital platforms even down to the conception of the song, the people behind the lyrics and melody are made to seem secondary. Pay songwriters for our minds and our time".

Songwriter Amy Wadge comments: "It takes a village to launch a successful artist and songwriters are an essential part of the village, and yet they are still at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to income. It's time for a proper conversation and for a new precedent to be set, but it has to be supported by labels and artists too. Songwriters need to be heard for what they are saying as well as what they are writing".

Meanwhile, the letter's lead signatory, Chair of The Ivors Academy's Songwriter Committee Helienne Lindvall, adds: "We know we have to fix streaming so it's fair, transparent and sustains the careers of the people that create the music we love. Structural reform is needed now more than ever, but in the meantime there are a few quick and easy measures which could help songwriters get by until such time as reform is achieved. While labels enjoy record revenues from streaming, songwriters are struggling to pay the rent. The #PaySongwriters campaign provides simple ways for the labels to support songwriters when it's needed most".

"We commend [UK indie record company] The Other Songs and the other labels who have joined them already in paying points to non-performing songwriters, showing that this is a fair way to reward the huge contribution songwriters make to the health of the music industry", she goes on. "As a community of music creators, we call on all labels to support our campaign to #PaySongwriters".

You can read the full letter and add your own signature here.


CMU Insights: Sign up for the free Music Copyright Explained webinar
Don't forget that earlier this week the UK government's Intellectual Property Office and CMU Insights launched a new guide to music rights that helps everyone in the music community better understand the ins and outs of music copyright, music licensing and how music rights make money.

You can download a copy of the guide right 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 runs through the key information contained in the guide. There's still one webinar to go on Friday at 1pm.

You can sign up for that here.

Inki announces augmented reality book and album project
Icelandic composer Inki is set to release a new project titled 'Quite The Situation' next month, comprising an album, a book and some augmented reality visuals.

The project looks at misogyny and the treatment of female sexuality in 1940s Iceland to ask the central question, "How will we see the current conversation about female sexuality 80 years from now?"

Based on articles from and letters to newspapers from between 1940 and 1945, Inki explores what is known in Icelandic history as 'The Situation'. During World War Two, 30,000 British and American soldiers were stationed in the country, more than doubling the population of capital city Reykjavík. Some local women entered into relationships with these soldiers, but were harshly criticised by other members of the public for doing so.

'The Situation' refers more specifically to a period of civilian espionage, which saw members of the public contributing to a police report on 500 women and their relationships (alleged or otherwise) with soldiers. As it continued, due to the pressure of public disapproval, women were forced to give up children for adoption, while others were exiled from their communities and sent to live in purpose built homes in the countryside.

Both the album and the book are written to follow the same structure and flow. They are brought together by augmented reality app Artivive. When the app is pointed (via a mobile device's camera) at the book, it will play the music composed to accompany it, while sentences from the book appear to lift off the page.

"I feel each medium and the technology aspects of this piece add a new perspective", says Inki. "I'm so tuned into being a composer that I think that practice has a lot of effect on how I go about creating. Composing is all about events on a timeline, so even the book work - that usually would be seen as static object - has transformed into something that lives, breathes and interacts with whoever picks it up".

Actually composing music to work in this way proved something of a challenge though, she adds, with recording sessions in 2019 far from the end of the process. "I recorded each of the musicians individually, so I could keep on composing from the material post-recording", she explains. "Puzzling it together was total hell but I believe it has a lot of effect on the final music".

The complete project will be available on 30 Apr, and you can watch a short video about the whole thing here. There are also plans to turn the project into an installation for Reykjavik Arts Festival later in the year, pandemic permitting. Meanwhile, the title track is out now. Listen to that here.


Initial artists and keynote interviewees confirmed for The Great Escape Online
More details have been announced today about the online edition of The Great Escape which will take place this May. That includes more than 60 artists who will appear as part of the online festival, plus the first three interviewees that will lead the keynote in-conversation programme as part of the TGE Online Conference.

Taking place on 13 and 14 May, TGE will once again present the best music talent from across the globe. Among the 60 acts already confirmed are Bess Atwell, Chloe Foy, Reb Fountain, Goya Gumbani, Mass Accord, Chaild, Dulce Y Agraz, Malan, Belako, Bleach Lab, Merk, Olivia Is A Ghost, Sparkling, Chubby And The Gang, Magick Mountain, Yard Act, Geese and Tito Ramirez.

To help the audience navigate all the great music on offer, the programme will be organised around numerous individual showcases curated by TGE industry partners like CD Baby, MCD, Paradigm, Primary Talent, UTA and WME, plus there'll be showcases focused on artists from specific countries, including France, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and many more.

During the day music industry delegates will be able to access a programme of expert briefings, networking sessions, panel discussions and educational workshops. Sitting at the heart of all that is the CMU+TGE programme and a series of keynote in-conversations with leading industry innovators and disruptors.

The first three in-conversations have been confirmed. Taking to the virtual TGE Conference stage will be Merck Mercuriadis, founder and CEO of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund; Nadia Khan, the leading artist manager and label owner, founder of Women In CTRL and Chair of the UK's Association Of Independent Music; and Wendy Ong, President of TaP Management and TaP Records in the US.

Each interviewee will talk through their career to date, their current projects and businesses, and their views and insights on the key opportunities and challenges facing the music industry today.

Alongside the keynote interviews, the CMU+TGE programme will present numerous briefings, panels and case studies organised into three key strands: future music talent, future music strategies and the future music world. Elsewhere in the conference, there will be a series of panels from TGE's industry partners, a number of beginner's guide webinars from TGE Elevate, and numerous networking opportunities within the online conference platform.

Check more information about the artists playing TGE here and get the lowdown on the conference here. And get your delegate passes here.



Concord Music Publishing has signed Julian Casablancas off of The Strokes. The deal covers his work outside his main band, including solo material and side project The Voidz. "We are beyond excited that Julian has joined Concord Music Publishing. Aside from helping to reclaim and redefine rock n roll for a generation, his ability to move between genres as a writer and performer has worked to cement his reputation as a preeminent creative force in music today", say Concord's SVPs of A&R, Tom DeSavia and Jeremy Yohai.

Warner Music has announced the acquisition of Russian indie label Zhara Music, rebranding it at Atlantic Records Russia. Zhara co-founder Emin will no longer be involved in running the label, but will remain signed to it as an artist. Co-founder (and fellow artist) Bahh Tee, who will stay on and head up the label as General Producer, says: "Emin and I have been on an incredible journey since we founded Zhara less than three years ago. Becoming part of the Warner Music family will help take our support for our artists to the next level both here and internationally. It's a landmark day for me and my colleagues – we've really come of age".



Funded by Partisan Records and supported by The Fela Anikulapo-Kuti Estate, jazz trumpeter Alex Polack has been awarded the first Fela Anikulapo-Kuti Scholarship at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music And Dance in London, allowing him to continue studying into his second year at the school. "I'm THRILLED to announce this gift from Partisan Records and The Fela Anikulapo-Kuti Estate", says Trinity Laban Director of Music, Havilland Willshire. "The new scholarship furthers Trinity Laban's commitment to widening access for talented and dedicated students like Alex Polack and honours an incredible musical and political figure who is part of our innovative and creative community".



Daniel Avery provides the soundtrack to new short film 'Void', which has been released in support of mental health charity CALM. "We wanted to represent this feeling of paralysis that had integrated itself into our lives, and were drawn towards the distance we were feeling from the utter alchemy and escapism of the dancefloor", say the film's makers Tom Andrew and Sam Davis. "Now currently stood empty, clubs contain an atmosphere that is searching for the love and togetherness they have held, while also carrying a restrained potential to create the same again. We wanted to capture this, while bringing an honest vision of the present, suspended between these two worlds".

Rag N Bone Man has released new single 'Fall In Love Again', taken from his upcoming new album 'Life By Misadventure', which is out on 7 May. "'Fall in Love Again' is a song Ben Jackson-Cook and I wrote on a boozy afternoon in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee", he says. "He did the melody and I did the lyrics. The song is about sabotage: sabotaging your own relationship for fear of commitment".

The KLF have released new singles compilation 'Solid State Logik 2', which features a previously unreleased Jarvis Cocker collaboration, 'Jarvis Joins The Jams (Trailer)'.

Black Midi have released new single 'John L'. Their new album 'Cavalcade' will be out on 28 May.

Jungle have released new single 'Keep Moving'.

Van Morrison has released new song 'Only A Song', from his upcoming album 'Latest Record Project Vol 1', which is out on 7 May.

Gwenno has released new single 'Meur Ras Dhia Gernow (Thank You From Kernow)'.

Andy Stott will release new album 'Never The Right Time' on 16 Apr. From it, this is 'The Beginning'.

Elkka has released new single 'Burnt Orange'. Her new EP, 'Euphoric Melodies', is out on 21 May. "'Euphoric Melodies' started out as an exploration of what pulls me in, what makes me feel those moments of elation when writing music or listening to it or just when living life. The underlying theme seems to be warmth, euphoria and nostalgia, which is what plays out in this EP in different forms. Little did I know that as the EP came together nostalgia for euphoria would be so prevalent".

Charlotte Spiral have released new single 'Out Of Here'. "There is something about doing things over and over again in a monotonous way that makes a situation feel worse than it is, and I wanted to portray this throughout the song", says vocalist Amy Spencer. The duo's new EP 'New Light' is out on 9 Apr.



Laura Marling has announced UK tour dates in October, finishing up at the Roundhouse in London on 20 Oct. Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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


Nile Rodgers sits for "world's first voice-interactive digital portrait"
Paintings are soooooo seventeenth century. So today, what we are told is the "world's first voice-interactive digital portrait" is being launched, with Nile Rodgers its subject.

Created by The Forever Project in partnership with Universal Music and the National Portrait Gallery, the piece allows you to not only look at Rodgers but also virtually 'meet' him. Filmed using two 8K 3D cameras over two days, the musician's avatar is now primed to answer any of 350 possible questions you may have.

"Who I am as a person is really the essence of most of my songs", says Rodgers. "So I hope this experience will help people understand more about my journey, my life in the music industry, and what I have been trying to say through my music. It gives people I might never get to meet the opportunity to ask me questions and share thoughts in a completely new way. I love this because I believe that at the foundation of music are human connections and a human story that needs to be told".

"I hope people who know my work really well enjoy some special moments, and people who are new to my work can get a peek into a life in music", he adds. "If I can share some hope and optimism along the way, then even better!"

Accessible via, if you want to be able to interview Rodgers fully, then you'll need to stump up £20 for a three month pass to the portrait (5% of which will be donated to the National Portrait Gallery to dust its stupid old school paintings, or whatever). You can also check it out for free, but if you take that option you'll only be able to ask three set questions. Although I just asked him one of those and he refused to answer.

Still, Forever Project CEO Sarah Coward says: "Voice interactive media will completely transform audience experiences across global industries including music, film, sport and education. Forever and its partners are excited to be at the forefront of this new approach to bring remarkable moments to fans and communities".

"Organisations of all types know that delivering truly engaging new media that can build powerful connections with audiences remotely will be essential to future success in a post-Covid world", she adds. "Our voice interactive content creates compelling experiences with authenticity at heart".

Another benefit of this is that, unlike a painting, you can look at it on the internet and truly say you've seen it. So why not head over to now and see if Nile will answer any of your questions?


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
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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