TODAY'S TOP STORY: So, the BRIT Awards happened, everybody! Yes, an actual real world awards event. Prizes were presented. Artists performed live. There was an audience. It was almost like it was 2019 all over again. But what were the stand out moments? And did COVID still impact on the proceedings in any way? [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES BRITs goes ahead with audience of keyworkers, but makes Coldplay stay outside
ENTERTAINMENT RETAIL Rough Trade confirms its New York store is moving to the Rockefeller Center
LIVE BUSINESS Dice promotes Russ Tannen to President, brings in some streaming expertise with new hires
BRANDS & MERCH Jim Beam announces Welcome Sessions project championing independent venues
EDUCATION & EVENTS Mind launches new mental health guides for the music sector
ARTIST NEWS Oasis to mark 25th anniversary of Knebworth shows with new documentary
ONE LINERS DMX, The Simpsons, Yaeji, more
AND FINALLY... J Cole joins Rwandan basketball team
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Streaming Challenges In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the challenges facing the streaming business in 2020
Collective Licensing In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the collective licensing system
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BRITs goes ahead with audience of keyworkers, but makes Coldplay stay outside
So, the BRIT Awards happened, everybody! Yes, an actual real world awards event. Prizes were presented. Artists performed live. There was an audience. It was almost like it was 2019 all over again. But what were the stand out moments? And did COVID still impact on the proceedings in any way?

Well, yes and no. As is tradition, the show opened with a strained gag involving Jack Whitehall referencing some pop culture stuff. Pandemic related pop culture stuff, as it happened, in the form of a Zoom call with 'The Line Of Duty', Vicky McClure and Martin Compston. That was actually very authentic, because the dialogue they were forced to deliver was awful. Then Jackie Weaver from that viral parish council meeting video you'd forgotten about came on and made a joke about Coldplay being called Foreplay. Classic BRITs!

Coldplay then performed new single 'Higher Ground' on a barge in front of the O2 Arena, flanked by CGI dancers. All very COVID-safe.

Although, of course, the whole point of this year's BRIT Awards was not to be COVID-safe. Or, at least, to prove it is now possible to be COVID-safe without all the super-strict rules and regulations that have become the norm in the last year or so, like social distancing and pushing entertainment outdoors. Which kind of suggests that everyone just wanted Coldplay to stay outside.

Actually, had Coldplay been allowed in, they would have had to adhere to social distancing rules, as these were still in place for the celebrity audience and those presenting awards. However, proving that you can now be COVID-safe without social distancing, a couple of thousand of keyworkers were crammed into the arena's tiered seating, partly there to enjoy the proceedings, partly as guinea pigs in the UK government's ongoing Events Research Programme, which is investigating how to stage COVID-safe shows.

The ground floor was saved for a smattering of tables for nominated artists. These were set a good two metres apart from each other and, just to be extra safe, about half a mile away from the stage.

Beyond the COVID-safe experiments, there were a few other themes that ran through the night.

There were Jack Whitehall's repeated digs at international artists who hadn't bothered to turn up. Which was weird, you know, in the middle of a pandemic. Though, what was perhaps weirder was that some international artists had bothered to turn up, you know, in the middle of a pandemic.

That most notably included Taylor Swift, who was there to pick up the all-important Global Icon Award. That occasional BRIT prize was revived for the first time in five years because, well, she didn't win the award she was nominated for, and you really have to give her something if she's going to travel all that way to be in attendance in - let's stress again - the middle of a pandemic.

There were also references from Dua Lipa and Little Mix to the improved representation of women at the awards, which was definitely a welcome trend worthy of mention. Although, expressing understandable frustration that that trend is still noteworthy in 2021, Little Mix also lamented being the first girl group to ever win the Best British Group prize.

In a speech, they said: "It's not easy being a female in the UK pop industry. We've seen the white male dominance, misogyny, sexism and lack of diversity. We're proud of how we've stuck together, stood our ground, surrounded ourselves with strong women and are now using our voices more than ever".

"The fact that a girl band has never won this award really does speak volumes", they went on. "This award isn't just for us, it's for The Spice Girls, Sugababes, All Saints, Girls Aloud - all of the incredible, incredible female bands - this one's for you".

Speaking of dedicating awards to other people, that brings us to the big innovation in the prize-giving. This year, everyone was given a smaller trophy alongside their proper one. The idea was that they could give the tiny trophy to someone else. Something almost no one did.

Harry Styles offered his to all of his fans, which wasn't really practical. Later on, in an interview at their table, Whitehall pushed Little Mix to identify who'd get their mini-gong, but they said they were still undecided. Which presumably means they aren't planning on handing it to any of those other groups they'd previously bigged up.

The only artist to actually get into the idea of the second trophy was Dua Lipa. She announced that the tiny trophy that came with her Best Female prize was for nurse Dame Elizabeth Anionwu. She also used her speech to say that there is "a massive disparity between gratitude and respect for key workers", and called on Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson to give NHS staff a "fair pay rise".

When she later won Best British Album, she dedicated the trophy to Joaquin Garcia and Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, who last month jumped into the River Thames to save a woman who had fallen from London Bridge, resulting in Olubunmi-Adewole's death.

Among the night's performances, Years & Years and Elton John performed a new version of the Pet Shop Boys' 'It's A Sin', which was released simultaneously as a single in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation. That was not the only charity single performance of the night. Rag N Bone Man and Pink played a new version of their single 'Anywhere Away From Here' with the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir. Money raised from the single release of that will go to the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust and NHS Charities Together.

Other performances failed to raise any money for charity, but I'll mention some of them anyway. Once the show moved indoors, Dua Lipa was given the task of helping everyone to forget that they'd just seen Coldplay outside on a barge. She did so by recreating a crowded tube train on stage, reminding everyone of something they've been pleased to be rid of in the last year.

Later, joined by AJ Tracey and Young T & Bugsey, Headie One turned in a visually impressive performance, which was pleasing, and not just because he was the first artist to invoke the good old "audio muted" tag on screen (just after Whitehall was hit with it as part of a gag about the "corporate wankers" in the boxes).

Only a couple of slivers of Headie One's performance were lost, in reality. And criticism of the treatment of drill artists and the free school meals scandal made it through loud and clear. However, later on Lewis Capaldi managed to have almost his entire introduction to the Best British Album prize cut. We've no idea what he said, but the swearing came so thick and fast that some of it still made it past the censor, whose finger just wasn't fast enough.

What else? Oh, there was a special BRITs sea shanty. The Weeknd dressed as a deep sea fisherman. Jack Whitehall delivered his annual joke about "making Spotify even richer", which always seems weird at an event basically put on by the major record labels.

Plus, I'm pretty sure some heavy hints were dropped that Taylor Swift is actually in the UK to play Glastonbury's Live At Worthy Farm livestream later this month. But maybe not. Maybe she did just come over so that she could fail to give a small trophy to someone.

And here are all the winners...

British Single: Harry Styles - Watermelon Sugar

British Group: Little Mix

British Female Solo Artist: Dua Lipa

British Male Solo Artist: J Hus

Breakthrough Artist: Arlo Parks

Rising Star: Griff

International Female Solo Artist: Billie Eilish

International Male Solo Artist: The Weeknd

International Group: Haim

Global Icon Award: Taylor Swift

British Album: Dua Lipa


Rough Trade confirms its New York store is moving to the Rockefeller Center
Independent music retailer Rough Trade has confirmed that its New York store is relocating into Manhattan. It will open a new shop at the NYC's Rockefeller Center next month.

Commenting on the move, Rough Trade Retail co-owner Stephen Godfroy says: "Following the impact of COVID-19, Rough Trade's decision to relocate reflects a wider reimagination of cities worldwide. Manhattan has a glorious history of great record stores. Now there's an exciting present as well. The opportunities afforded by the pandemic in the reconfiguration of central city districts have brought us, counter-intuitively, to the heart of New York, an area barren of record stores for years. But Rough Trade's instinct has always been to surprise!”

Meanwhile, EB Kelly at Tishman Speyer, which owns the Rockefeller Center, adds: "It is especially fitting to welcome Rough Trade to their new home at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which originally was known as the RCA Building, where phonographs and records played such an important role in the building's history and are ingrained in its DNA. The Center prides itself on presenting best-in-class experiences and offerings that can only be found here, and Rough Trade is an incredible addition to our campus as New York's leading 21st century expression of music and vinyl culture".

London-based Rough Trade first opened a New York store in 2013 in Williamsburg. The new store in Manhattan will be smaller but, says the retailer, with the move the company is "downsizing on scale but upsizing on ambition and reach".


Dice promotes Russ Tannen to President, brings in some streaming expertise with new hires
Ticketing company Dice has promoted Russ Tannen to the role of President and confirmed that his focus now will be building the firm's presence in the US market. Tannen is re-locating to New York to perform that role.

"We're building our second HQ in New York and investing heavily in North America to bring fans the most amazing events at the best venues with zero hassle", Dice founder and CEO Phil Hutcheon explained when confirming Tannen's promotion. "The world is about to experience the biggest growth in live entertainment in history and Dice is backing the best partners to do so".

Tannen himself added: "New York is a city that knows how to go out and we have always had our sights set on expanding our presence here. It’s awesome to be tasked to lead the effort. There is a tangible energy and excitement for everyone to be out again. We're building an epic team who will make sure that, as it comes back, live music is better for fans, venues, promoters and artists. I'm looking forward to continuing to build Dice's position in the US and around the world".

As well as positioning themselves to capitalise on the live sector's resurgence once the COVID shutdown is finally out of the way, Dice is also looking at pursuing opportunities in the livestreaming space, in the hope that the new interest in livestreamed shows that emerged during the pandemic can be sustained long-term.

A couple of recent hires also announced by Dice confirm that intent, with both new recruits joining the ticketing firm from Spotify. Jordan Gremli becomes Dice's Head Of Artist Development, while Jo McNally joins as Global Head Of Music Licensing.


Jim Beam announces Welcome Sessions project championing independent venues
Jim Beam has "long celebrated the welcoming spirit that brings people together", the whiskey brand proclaimed earlier this week. Spirit, see! Lovely stuff. The spirit here is "welcoming" because Jim Beam has announced a new music sponsorship programme called the Welcome Sessions.

Basically the drinks brand will be "welcoming" various artists at the grassroots and independent venues that were important to said musicians early in their career, recording them performing in those spaces and posting the footage to YouTube. There'll be some behind the scenes chatter too.

Videos set to appear from next month will feature artists like Jack Garrett, Fontaines DC and Jose Gonzalez, and venues including The Lexington and Village Underground in London.

"Each Welcome Session brings to life the spaces that have played host to seminal performances in years gone by - celebrating and creating moments where the power of music helps people feel like they truly belong", says the whiskey company.

Noting the ongoing impact of the bloody COVID pandemic, Jim Beam MD Malini Patel says: "Although the light at the end of the tunnel is coming ever closer, the real world shared experiences we so crave remain few and far between. This sense of place and sense of community with others is something we as a brand have been firm believers in throughout our 226 year history".

"The Jim Beam Welcome Sessions are about creating connections between amazing global acts, the iconic independent venues and the audiences who love their music", she adds. "By launching the global partnership, we hope to create a unique shared experience that fans can relate with, over and over again. An experience that inspires, uplifts and instils a sense of community to being part of something special".


Mind launches new mental health guides for the music sector
Mental health charity Mind is marking Mental Health Awareness Week by launching a new series of resources specifically aimed at people working in music, and in particular the electronic music industry.

Created in partnership with music companies including Ninja Tune, Paradigm, Percolate and POLY, there are specific guides for organisations, managers, employees and freelancers which, together, provide "vital information on how those working within the dance music industry can access support, look after their mental health and support colleagues". The guides also include specific advice for those affected by the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Explaining the motivation for the project, the charity says: "According to research into the mental health and wellbeing of people in the electronic music industry, carried out in 2019 - before the coronavirus pandemic - musicians are more prone to mental health problems than the general population and may be up to three times more likely to suffer from depression, making this a timely and vital resource".

"Anecdotally", it adds, "Mind often hears from those working within the music industry how factors such as insecure income, difficulty achieving a work/life balance, pressure from fans and labels, poor diet, lack of sleep and access to alcohol and drugs can all take their toll on wellbeing and mental health".

Launching the resources, Mind's Emma Mamo says: "We know that working in the music industry can be very rewarding and offers many opportunities. However, it comes with a unique set of challenges, including irregular hours, financial insecurity and high pressure - all of which may have an effect on people's mental health and wellbeing. Coronavirus restrictions, Brexit, and fluctuating income have only made existing problems in the industry worse, so it's important that people across the industry can access vital support if and when needed".

"For too long mental health problems and other related issues like alcohol and substance use within the music industry have been neglected and even normalised", she goes on. "Mind's new resource has been created with contributors from every corner of the music business to make sure the information is as useful and relevant as possible to anyone working within the industry, including artists, DJs, organisers, promoters, creative freelancers and other employees. We're grateful for their support and dedication in helping to make sure no one across the industry faces a mental health problem alone".

Confirming Ninja Tune's involvement in this project, the label's Kyra Santiago adds: "No two days are ever the same in the music industry. With such a huge diversity of roles, responsibilities and relationships, everyone's wellbeing can be affected in so many different ways. This last year has definitely been a challenge to say the least, and we know we're not alone in saying that. As a label, we had to quickly adapt our ways of working when the pandemic hit. We're incredibly grateful to Mind, our partners and everyone who has contributed to the creation of these guides to make them happen and we hope that they provide support to anyone and everyone who needs it".

Alongside the new online resources Mind is also staging a panel discussion on 15 Jun with Joe Hastings from Help Musicians, and Sally Anne Gross and Dr George Musgrave from the University of Westminster, who co-authored the report 'Can Music Make You Sick? Music And Depression'.

You can access the new resources here.


Great Escape Conference - kicks off tomorrow, access the platform now
It's Great Escape week - with the online edition of TGE taking place tomorrow and Friday - although delegates can access the TGE Conference platform right now to plan their schedules and get networking.

Alongside the in-conversations, the webinars and the partner panels taking place as part of the online TGE Conference this year, CMU is presenting three strands of sessions...

FUTURE MUSIC TALENT will look at how music educators and the music industry can better support entrepreneurial early-career music-makers, how COVID has impacted on the fanbase building process for DIY phase artists, and why it's more important than ever to educate the creative community about copyright and data.

Sessions include...
- What The Fanbase Building Process Involves In 2021
- Learning By Doing - Young Guns Artist Campaign Team
- Everything An Aspiring Artist Needs To Know - And How To Teach It
- Continued Professional Development In The Music Business
- Explaining Music Copyright (bonus on-demand panel!)

FUTURE MUSIC STRATEGIES - supported by BPI - will consider the latest trends in streaming, fanbase building and the direct-to-fan relationship, and investigate what the touring and festival markets will look like in the post-COVID, post-Brexit world. What technologies, data, influencers, partnerships and strategies will be essential for success in the years ahead?

Sessions include...
- Maximising The Power Of Fan Data
- The Future Of Festivals, Ticketing And Touring
- Getting Rights Data Right
- Influencing The Influencers
- The Diversifying Digital Market (bonus on-demand panel!)

FUTURE MUSIC WORLD 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.

Sessions include...
- How To Make Diversity Initiatives That Truly Deliver
- Building A Healthier Music Industry
- Has The Digital Revolution Liberated Or Locked Out Music-Makers?
- Cancel Culture - Good, Bad Or Non-Existant?
- Connecting The Music World (bonus on-demand panel!)

When you log into the TGE Conference platform, click on Conference Schedule and then on each of the strand buttons to find out more and to add each session to your personal schedule. Or, to get going straight way, click on the On-Demand button to access the three bonus panels.

If you don't yet have a delegate pass to access all this, you can get one here.

Oasis to mark 25th anniversary of Knebworth shows with new documentary
A new documentary about Oasis's 1996 Knebworth shows will be released in cinemas later this year to mark their 25th anniversary. Directed by Jake Scott - who also helmed the band's 'Morning Glory' video - the film is being put together using archive footage shot at the time.

"It's a story driven entirely by the music, a rock and roll experience, told in the moment, like a visual stream of consciousness that is built around the extensive archive footage from the event", says Scott. "No on-camera interviews or unnecessary celebrity recollections".

Right, so, I don't know if Scott would be happy with any of this, but the next paragraph is full of recollection. Though I'm not a celebrity, so hopefully that's fine.

The two shows at Knebworth in August 1996 saw Oasis perform to 125,000 fans each night - the largest outdoor concerts to ever be staged in the UK at the time. Although they only played two shows, two and a half million people applied for tickets. It represented the absolute peak of the band's powers and, arguably, the beginning of their decline.

Noel and Liam Gallagher are both executive producers on the film. Although, before you get excited, I don't think that hints at a public reunion any more than the fact that they will appear on stage together in the film.



A posthumous DMX album, titled 'Exodus', will be released on 28 May through Def Jam. Producer Swizz Beatz says: "My brother X was one of the most pure and rare souls I've ever met. He lived his life dedicated to his family and music. Most of all, he was generous with his giving and loved his fans beyond measure. [With] this album, X couldn't wait for his fans all around the world to hear and show just how much he valued each and every single person that has supported him unconditionally".

The Simpsons TV show has released Morrissey-inspired track 'Everyone Is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You)', written by Bret McKenzie of Flight Of The Conchords. The song featured in a recent episode of the show, which got Morrissey's back right up.

Yaeji has released new track 'Pac-tive', as part of a campaign of the same name encouraging fans of the Pac-Man video game to be more active. "Pac-Man is a game my parents and I can both remember playing in arcades growing up", she says. "It connects me to my previous generation and possibly to future generations too". Sorry if you were hoping that quote would explain this confusing campaign.

Eartheater has released the video for 'Volcano' from her 'Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin' album.

Jorja Chalmers has announced that she will release new album, 'Midnight Train', on 28 May through Italians Do It Better. From it, this is new single 'Bring Me Down'.

Callum Easter has released new single 'What Do You Think?' His new album 'System' is out on 3 Sep through Moshi Moshi.

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


J Cole joins Rwandan basketball team
J Cole is a professional basketball player now. He has signed a contract with Rwandan team Patriots BBC, and may play his first game against Nigeria's Rivers Hoppers this Sunday.

Rumours that Cole had joined the team began to circulate after he was seen in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, at the weekend. The news was then confirmed by the team's coach, Alan Major.

This weekend sees the launch of the new NBA-backed Basketball Africa League, so having him on board is good promotion for that.

Whether or not Cole will play in Sunday's game isn't yet clear. According to CBS, he is expected to play in three to six games this season. He reportedly arrived in Kigali earlier this month in order to quarantine before all this basketball action gets underway.

Given he made the trip to Rwanda, it would be a shame for him not to play. Especially as this is already a busy month for Cole. Last week, he released documentary 'Applying Pressure: The Off Season', about the making of his new album 'The Off Season'. And this week he releases that album.


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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