TODAY'S TOP STORY: The pressure is building on Spotify to formally abandon a patent it recently secured in the US which covers a speech-recognition technology that would enable the streaming service to recommend music based on a user's environment and emotions. Now a plethora of artists have put their name to a letter calling that proposed technology "dangerous, a violation of privacy and other human rights", adding that it "should not be implemented by Spotify or any other company"... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Artists back campaign against Spotify's emotion tracking patent
LEGAL Italian record industry sues Vimeo
DEALS Warner Chappell acquires 50% stake in Belly's publishing catalogue
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Deezer invests in livestreaming start-up Dreamstage
MEDIA OfCom opens consultation on its view BBC Sounds is not a threat to commercial radio
Bauer launches premium music radio service

ONE LINERS Coldplay, Marina, BRIT Awards, more
AND FINALLY... Megan Thee Stallion to host celebrity pets show on Snapchat
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Artists back campaign against Spotify's emotion tracking patent
The pressure is building on Spotify to formally abandon a patent it recently secured in the US which covers a speech-recognition technology that would enable the streaming service to recommend music based on a user's environment and emotions. Now a plethora of artists have put their name to a letter calling that proposed technology "dangerous, a violation of privacy and other human rights", adding that it "should not be implemented by Spotify or any other company".

The new patent was criticised last month by the US-based campaign group Access Now, which says that it seeks to "defend and extend the digital rights of users at risk around the world". In a letter to the streaming firm, it said the technology protected by the new patent "presents grave privacy and security concerns". It added that "monitoring emotional state, and making recommendations based on it, puts Spotify in a dangerous position of power in relation to a user".

Noting other features of the proposed new tech, the digital rights group’s Isedua Oribhabor added: "There is absolutely no valid reason for Spotify to even attempt to discern how we're feeling, how many people are in a room with us, our gender, age, or any other characteristic the patent claims to detect. The millions of people who use Spotify deserve respect and privacy, not covert manipulation and monitoring".

Spotify's Chief Legal Officer Horacio Gutierrez responded to Access Now's concerns, stating: "Spotify has never implemented the technology described in the patent in any of our products and we have no plans to do so. Our research and development teams are constantly envisioning and developing new technologies as part of our ongoing innovation cycle. Sometimes those innovations end up being implemented in our products and sometimes they don't".

"The decision to patent an invention does not always reflect the company's intent to implement the invention in a product", he added, "but is instead influenced by a number of other considerations, including our responsibilities to our users and to society at large. I can assure you that any products Spotify develops both now and in the future will reflect our commitment to conducting business in a socially responsible manner and comply with applicable law".

But that statement is not enough, according to a new open letter, this time signed by a number of human rights organisations and a load of artists, including Tom Morello, Talib Kweli, Laura Jane Grace, DIIV, Illuminati Hotties, Kimya Dawson and Yoni Wolf.

Addressing Spotify boss Daniel Ek, they state: "We write to you as a group of concerned musicians and human rights organisations from across the globe who are deeply alarmed by Spotify's recently approved speech-recognition patent. Spotify claims that the technology can detect, among other things, 'emotional state, gender, age, or accent' to recommend music. This recommendation technology is dangerous, a violation of privacy and other human rights, and should not be implemented by Spotify or any other company".

The letter then runs through various specific concerns about emotion manipulation, discrimination, privacy violations and data security, and also adds that the proposed new tech could "exacerbate inequality in the music industry", because "using artificial intelligence and surveillance to recommend music will only serve to exacerbate existing disparities in the music industry - music should be made for human connection, not to please a profit-maximising algorithm".

Noting Gutierrez's response to the original letter from Access Now, the new letter concludes: "While we are pleased to hear that Spotify has no current plans to deploy the technology, it begs the question: why are you exploring its use? We call on your company to make a public commitment to never use, license, sell, or monetise the recommendation technology. Even if Spotify doesn’t use it, your company could profit from the surveillance tool if another entity deploys it. Any use of this technology is unacceptable".

It remains to be seen how Spotify now responds.


Italian record industry sues Vimeo
The record industry in Italy is suing Vimeo in the latest legal case testing the obligations of safe harbour dwelling websites and platforms when it comes to removing copyright-infringing content.

There's a saying among the YouTube creator community - especially the reactors who, by definition, need to include other people's content in their videos - and it goes something like this: "If Content ID blocks your upload on copyright grounds, just stick it up on Dailymotion or Vimeo because, fuck it, it'll probably be fine there".

Of course, you have to remember to also put a post on your YouTube channel linking subscribers though to your content on whichever copyright-slack platform you've chosen. But, once you've done that, you're sorted. Simple.

But anyway, yes, the record industry is having another go at suing video-sharing platform Vimeo over its allegedly slack approach to rights management and copyright takedowns. Well, it's better than having a go at suing Dailymotion and its owner - erm, who was that again? - oh yes, Vivendi, the parent company of Universal Music and movie maker StudioCanal.

We should add that both Vimeo and Dailymotion do have systems in place via which copyright owners can request that videos containing their content without permission be removed.

Such a system is required, of course, for those platforms to claim protection under the copyright safe harbour and avoid liability for any infringing materials sitting on their servers. Neither has a rights management system has rigorous as YouTube's Content ID though. But are their systems nevertheless rigorous enough to win them safe harbour protection?

Well that's the question, isn't it? The Italian music industry reckons not, hence the new lawsuit. The country's record industry trade group FIMI and anti-piracy set-up FPM has teamed up with the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry to go legal through the Italian courts.

It's not the first time Vimeo has been sued by the record industry over its takedown systems, though the previous long-running unsuccessful litigation - instigated by the EMI record company prior to its acquisition by Universal - was fought through the US courts. It also kicked off in 2009, and arguably the obligations of safe harbour dwelling platforms have been interpreted somewhat more strictly in more recent years, on both sides of the Atlantic. But we'll see, I guess.

Commenting on the new legal action in Italy, IFPI boss Frances Moore, said: "Vimeo has fallen short of its obligation as an online content sharing service to take effective steps to prevent unlicensed music from being made available on its site. Significant amounts of unlicensed music are being uploaded and re-uploaded to its service. That is why the recording industry has taken action against Vimeo in Italy".

"Record labels invest heavily in discovering, nurturing, and promoting artists", she added. "The making available of unlicensed sound recordings harms their ability to secure a return on their investment which is crucial to their ability to invest in new artists".

The new lawsuit comes at an interesting time for Vimeo. Its parent company IAC is preparing to spin the video platform off as a standalone business and then list it on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York.


Warner Chappell acquires 50% stake in Belly's publishing catalogue
Warner Chappell has extended its existing publishing agreement with Belly. And what does that extension mean? Well, this time it is actually acquiring 50% of the rapper and producer's songwriting catalogue. Good times!

"Belly has some of the best songwriting instincts in the game, and we couldn't be prouder to be on this journey with him", says Warner Chappell's President Of US A&R, Ryan Press. "Along with his natural gift for writing songs, he's an amazing rapper and has spent the last few years crafting his best body of work yet as an artist. We're looking forward to what’s next and the highly anticipated release of his new album".

Belly adds: "Warner Chappell was my first home, a place I was able to build lasting relationships and build myself into the writer I am today. I'm excited to continue this partnership and make more history together".

Last month, Belly released new single 'Money On The Table', featuring Benny The Butcher. The track will be included on his new album 'See You Next Wednesday', which is due out through XO Records this summer.


Deezer invests in livestreaming start-up Dreamstage
Deezer has jumped on the livestreaming bandwagon - and why not, it's a great bandwagon - by investing in a US-based start-up called Dreamstage, which is headed up by former Sony Music exec Thomas Hesse.

Dreamstage doesn't actually stage dreams, in case you wondered. But, presumably, it allows artists to pursue their dreams to livestream from their stages. Oh, and while they're doing so, to sell some merch and VIP experiences, and/or collect some lovely fan donations. If they want to. That's all possible on the Dreamstage platform, see, alongside selling some tickets and sponsorship, obviously.

"Dreamstage's technology has delivered over 50 live shows since launch", says the official announcement of Deezer's investment. "This has brought a rich live music experience into fans' homes, and has provided a wide variety of musicians with the means to generate income during the pandemic".

The new investment from Deezer, it then adds, "will help accelerate the roll-out of Dreamstage's product, expand its range of content and grow market share. The companies will also look at new opportunities for how music fans can benefit from Dreamstage's livestreaming capabilities".

"We believe that Dreamstage is the best live music platform on the market today", says Deezer chief Hans-Holger Albrecht. "It's well placed to become the ultimate online music destination for both fans and artists. Music fans can finally enjoy an authentic concert experience that is more than just a video call".

"Dreamstage and Deezer share a vision of supporting talent across a wide variety of genres", he goes on. "Live shows provide musicians with crucial revenue opportunities during these challenging times. This aligns closely with our mission to connect artists with their fans through our Originals projects, recorded sessions and editorial content".

Hesse, meanwhile, adds: "Dreamstage is rapidly developing as a leading premium player in the thriving streaming concert business, creating unique moments for artists and fans to connect across the globe".

"We are excited to join forces with Deezer who share our vision to innovate and capture this massive new opportunity", he concludes. "Together, we will nurture and propagate the emerging live music video format, and help artists grow and delight virtual audiences everywhere. We are THRILLED and honoured to transform live music for the long term with Deezer as a visionary entrepreneurial partner".


OfCom opens consultation on its view BBC Sounds is not a threat to commercial radio
OfCom has launched a public consultation on the market position and impact of the BBC Sounds service by saying that it doesn't think there's any issue and everyone should shut up. It used more formal language than that, obviously, but that's basically what it said. Shut up.

This consultation follows an OfCom investigation launched last October, which has now been completed with the conclusion that BBC Sounds is shit and no one likes it. Or, at least, that no one's commercial business is being messed up by the BBC's audio app.

"BBC Sounds is a streaming media and audio download service that includes live radio, audio-on-demand, and podcasts", says the UK's media regulator. "The service is now established within the BBC's audio offer, so it is appropriate to take stock of BBC Sounds' market position and impact. We sought evidence and information from its competitors and other interested parties to inform our view".

"Having carefully considered this feedback and our own evidence, we are today setting out our provisional view", it goes on. "This is that there are no reasonable grounds to believe BBC Sounds is currently having a significant adverse impact on fair and effective competition".

See? Shut up. Except don't shut up, because this is a public consultation that is open until the end of June. Because, as you may have noted in that quote, OfCom's current views on BBC Sounds are "provisional". You're welcome to read them and disagree. And even say so, if you want. Though if you are going to insist that the BBC app is screwing over commercial audio apps, please first consider what all the evidence suggests - ie that nobody really likes BBC Sounds, so it's not a threat.

"The evidence suggests that commercial radio has been more successful at attracting online listeners than BBC Sounds", says OfCom. "It also suggests that listeners to BBC Sounds use multiple platforms (more so than listeners to other online platforms), that the UK podcast sector has a wide range of non-BBC content, and that podcast producers are able to generate revenue".

We should note that, even if everyone now agrees with OfCom's provisional view on BBC Sounds, the regulator's not going to just let the Beeb do whatever it likes with its audio app. In fact, it would quite like the broadcaster to be a bit more clear about its future plans for the service.

It says that it is expecting "greater transparency" on future plans and strategy for BBC Sounds, and improvements on how the the Corporation measures its performance.

This is the area where OfCom is particularly encouraging people to not shut up, saying that it would like views on "the information currently provided by the BBC and how that might be improved".

So feel free to talk about that. Just stop saying BBC Sounds is stopping people from listening to your shit commercial radio station or your mate's dreadful podcast, because that's just not true. Evidence, remember!

OfCom first confirmed that it planned to investigate the development of BBC Sounds to date – and plans for its future – following a complaint in September last year over the addition of a dance music strand to the app.

Both commercial radio trade body RadioCentre and the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group For Commercial Radio, Andy Carter MP, raised concerns about the new Radio 1 Dance channel, arguing that it was the BBC using its less scrutinised app to launch more commercial services that are outside its public service remit.

This, they went on, was basically the licence fee-funded BBC exploiting its privileged position to unfairly compete with commercial radio services. You know, like the new Capital Dance radio station that was announced shortly after Radio 1 Dance had been unveiled.

OfCom actually concluded that the BBC's new dance music service was not a problem, because it simply repurposes existing Radio 1 content. However, it conceded at the time that "there have been a number of incremental changes to BBC Sounds, and some stakeholders in the commercial radio sector have concerns about its development". Hence the launch of its big investigation.

Anyone with views on the future of BBC Sounds has until 29 Jun to moan on and on at OfCom.


Bauer launches premium music radio service
Bauer Media has revealed that it is "reinventing radio for music-lovers". How? Well, it's going to let you pay to listen to the radio. Just like you always wanted.

For just £3.99 a month, you'll get access to 20 spin-off channels from the company's existing stations Scala Radio, Jazz FM, Planet Rock and Kerrang! Radio. As well as that, there'll be on-demand access to over 30 shows from each brand, including exclusive documentaries and artist interviews.

All the stations will air without any ad breaks, plus - and I think this is the "reinvention" bit - you'll be able to skip six tracks per hour when listening through the service's apps or web player, even on live radio. Although, if you're listening to a station that plays six tracks per hour that you hate enough to skip, you might want to think about listening to something else anyway.

"Radio offers music, discovery and a live experience which is central to its enduring appeal", says Bauer Media Audio President Paul Keenan. "We have seen how particularly in the last year, listeners turned to radio to stay informed, to escape, be entertained and maintain a connection to the outside world".

"This innovation of premium subscription services responds to insight which identified a desire from music super fans - enormously enthusiastic about their favourite radio brands and broadcast radio - to further explore their music passions", he goes on. "The combination of the live radio experience, the highest quality curated programming on demand, and shows, along with new and unique user control is a highly compelling combination".

The service is available now and offers a seven day free trial. More info here.


CMU+TGE 2021 Panel: How To Make Diversity Initiatives That Truly Deliver
The Great Escape Online is taking place on 13 and 14 May, with a packed conference programme of interviews, webinars, briefings and debates, both on-demand and live, as well as networking opportunities galore within a bespoke online conference platform.

CMU is presenting three strands of panels and briefings this year. That includes Future Music World, which will investigate and celebrate initiatives that are making the music community more diverse, more healthy and more connected, and consider the challenges and opportunities music-makers and other creators face in the globalised digital world we live in today. Look out for this panel as part of the Future Music World strand…

Everyone agrees that a more diverse music industry is a better music industry, and numerous initiatives have been launched in recent years – especially in the last year – to make that a reality. But what are the most effective ways to remove the barriers and hurdles that have hindered diversity to date, and how can the music community's diversity initiatives have an impact beyond the industry?

We put the spotlight on some truly inspiring programmes that are delivering and ask what we can learn from them – with expert insights from Yaw Owusu from The PRS Foundation, Vick Bain from The F-List, Paul Hawkins from Attitude Is Everything and Rosie Turner from InChorus.

To access the CMU strands and all the other content available as part of TGE Online this year get yourself a delegate pass here.


One Media iP has acquired the publishing rights of August Darnell, who you probably know better as Kid Creole. The deal covers more than 250 songs released by Kid Creole And The Coconuts. "I started Kid Creole And The Coconuts in 1979. I had no idea then that I was destined to enjoy success around the world for the next 40 years", says Darnell. "With the team at One Media iP and their Harmony iP initiative I have now ensured my musical legend will continue for another 40 years".



Warner Chappell has hired Michael LoBiondo as Head Of Business Development. "With increased activity around catalogue acquisitions and new digital platform licensing, the company is ideally positioned to further capitalise on opportunities in the market and I'm excited to contribute to the growth of the company", he says.

Exceleration Music, a new venture that is "focused on investing in independent labels and providing personalised solutions to their entrepreneurs and artists", has appointed Britnee Foreman as Head Of Data Strategy And Digital Operations. "I am delighted to be joining a team of industry powerhouses who are truly passionate for the mission at hand", she says. "I'm excited for the innovation and opportunity we can bring into the indie space. It is such an honour to be a part of Exceleration at such a formative time".



Coldplay will premiere their new single, 'Higher Power', via a link up with the International Space Station tonight. Why not, eh? Space is the place. You'll be able to watch it at midnight tonight here.

Marina has released a 'Purge The Poison' remix featuring Pussy Riot.

LUMP - aka Laura Marling and Tunng's Mike Lindsay - will release new album 'Animal' on 30 Jul. Here's the title track.

Mitski has released new track 'The End', written for graphic novel 'This Is Where We Fall'.

The estate of Phife Dawg has posthumously released a track by the rapper, 'French Kiss Deux', featuring Illa J.

Liars will release new album 'The Apple Drop' on 6 Aug. From it, this is new single 'Sekwar'.

Max Cooper will release new EP, 'Maps', on 24 Jun. From it, this is new single 'Weakness Of The Flesh', featuring Samad Khan.

Dot Allison will release new album 'Heart Shaped Scars' on 30 Jul. From it, this is new single 'Long Exposure'.

Tennin has released new single 'Tennizer'.

Lunatraktors have released new single 'Rigs Of The Times'.



The Weeknd will perform at this year's BRIT Awards. So that's quite a vote of confidence for the BRITs.

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


Megan Thee Stallion to host celebrity pets show on Snapchat
Snapchat has announced the launch of a load of new original series, including 'Off Thee Leash', which will see Megan Thee Stallion interview celebrities' pets. I think she'll speak to the celebrities as well, but the pets are the real draw.

Right, you probably want details now, don't you? I've set this whole thing up and now you're ready for all the hot info. Well, this being Snapchat, it's just brief. "In this new series, she'll be joined by celebrity friends and their pets hosted in a way that only Megan can", the social app company says.

That's it. That's everything I know. Is that enough? I think we've covered all the key points. Megan? Check. Celebrities? Check. Pets? Check. All done. And it's going to be hosted in "a way that only Megan can". What could that mean? What presenting skills does Megan Thee Stallion have that no other presenter possesses?

Right, I just Googled "what is unique about Megan Thee Stallion?" and I have learned that she is a 26 year old, five foot ten inch tall rapper from America. So I think that's that question answered. Where's my Pulitzer?

Commenting on all this, Head of Snap Originals, Vanessa Guthrie says: "We are constantly trying to find stories that we think will resonate with our audience, coupled with talent and creators".

And that's why she earns the big bucks.


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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