TODAY'S TOP STORY: It seems that higher quality audio streaming is no longer a premium product. Both Apple and Amazon have announced that their users will now be able to enjoy some super enhanced audio action via their respective music platforms at no extra cost... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Apple Music and Amazon Music offering higher quality audio at no extra cost
LEGAL US appeals court declines to make Warner streaming royalties dispute a class action
DEALS Sony Music announces new deal with Tencent and direct deal with NetEase in China
Warner Music partners with Diamond Platnumz

INDUSTRY PEOPLE Attitude Is Everything launches new Accessible Employment Guide
RELEASES LoneLady to release first album for six years next month
ONE LINERS Stagehand, Warner Music, Green Day, more
AND FINALLY... Abba's Waterloo named UK's favourite Eurovision song
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Secretly Group seeks a D2C Manager, Marketing & Operations for its London office.

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Apple Music and Amazon Music offering higher quality audio at no extra cost
It seems that higher quality audio streaming is no longer a premium product. Both Apple and Amazon have announced that their users will now be able to enjoy some super enhanced audio action via their respective music platforms at no extra cost.

Apple announced two developments in the higher quality audio domain yesterday. First, that it will start making its Apple Music catalogue available in 'lossless audio' from next month, initially for about 20 million tracks, with the aim to have the full catalogue available in that form by the end of the year.

And secondly, that thousands of tracks will become available in 'spatial audio', a super duper audio format utilising Dolby's Atmos technology. "Spatial Audio gives artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multi-dimensional sound and clarity", the tech giant bragged yesterday.

"Apple Music is making its biggest advancement ever in sound quality", added VP Of Apple Music Oliver Schusser. "Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible. Now we are bringing this truly innovative and immersive experience to our listeners with music from their favourite artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and so many more".

Apple, of course, is not the first streaming service to offer higher quality audio across its catalogue, nor to play around with Dolby Atmos.

However, ever since Tidal predecessor WiMP first started doing the higher quality audio thing, the logic has been that premium audio should come at a premium price. And that offering an HD or HiFi or Lossless variation of a streaming service is a sneaky way of persuading some subscribers to pay a higher monthly fee. Which means more subscription money in the pot for everyone to share.

But, said Apple yesterday, "these new features will be available for Apple Music subscribers starting next month at no additional cost". So lots of lossless audio, but no bigger digital pie as a result.

That's a pain for those Apple competitors, like Tidal, Deezer and Amazon, that already offer higher quality audio at a premium rate. And even more so for Spotify, which is yet to even launch its lossless option, but which nevertheless previewed it earlier this year, the assumption being that it would follow its competitors lead and charge a premium for that new option.

Amazon went big on higher quality audio in September 2019 when it launched Amazon Music HD, also undercutting its competitors already doing the lossless thing by offering HD audio at a £5 premium, compare to the £10 premium that had become industry standard by that point. But there was still a premium to be paid.

Although, no more. As Apple Music announced it was making lossless audio available to its users at no extra charge, Amazon also got out an announcement of its own revealing that its HD service was now available to all subscribers of its main premium streaming music set-up at no extra cost, including those on a family plan or who get a discount as an Amazon Prime member.

"When we first launched Amazon Music HD, our goal was to lead the industry by enabling music fans around the world to stream the best quality recording, the way artists intended their music to be heard", declared VP Of Amazon Music Steve Boom. "We're THRILLED now to make Amazon Music HD available to everyone at no extra cost. All music fans should have access to this quality of music, and now they do!”

It has to be said that premium-priced higher quality audio has always been a relatively niche product, and throughout the history of digital music audio quality has generally improved across the board as the years have gone by. And some artists - while obviously also liking the idea of a bigger digital pie from which everyone can share - would nevertheless like as many fans as possible to hear their recordings in the best audio format possible.

However, if charging a premium for HD is no longer an option, the question is, are there any other add-ons streaming services could introduce to charge subscribers extra money in order to increase the music industry's digital revenues, especially in countries that are near market saturation in terms of new subscriber sign-ups?

Or, actually, would it be better to allow artists to sell add-ons directly through their direct-to-fan channels - capitalising on the rise of D2F donation and subscription tools - and have the industry accept that regular price rises across the board are the way to ensure that the main digital pie at least keeps up with inflation? We will see.


US appeals court declines to make Warner streaming royalties dispute a class action
The Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US has upheld a lower court ruling that declined to make a classic royalties lawsuit being pursed against Warner Music by singer Lenny Williams a class action.

Williams, who fronted R&B group Tower Of Power, sued Warner in 2018 over a common royalty gripe among artists, which is what happens to streaming income as it passes through a major's international subsidiaries.

He claims that Warner allows its different divisions around the world to deduct fees from his streaming income before passing the money to the label to which he is directly signed in the US.

His percentage royalty share is then calculated based on what the US label receives, but – he argues – the maths should be done on the at-source income, ie what the streaming service paid into whatever Warner subsidiary took payment.

Williams sought to make his lawsuit a class action so that a positive outcome could benefit any artists signed to Warner. However, the major argued that there were some specifics about Williams' record contract that meant it wasn't representative of the majority of the deals it signs with artists, making this dispute inappropriate for a class action.

In Williams' original lawsuit he identified three groups of artists who should be part of the class. The first group would have more modern contracts with Warner that mention streaming. The second group would have pre-digital contracts that don’t mention streaming, but which do talk about 'licensing income' (which, artists would argue, should apply to streams). And the third group are artists with record contracts that don't mention streams or licensing.

However, Williams himself falls into the latter group, which – Warner argued in court – makes his claim more complicated. The judge overseeing the case in the lower court concurred with the music company. Unlike potential class members in the first two groups, Williams would need to prove that he is due any streaming royalties at all, which is to say that - in the absence of any talk about streaming in his record contract - a royalty right over digital income was nevertheless implied.

And the Ninth Circuit agrees. In a new ruling it states: "In order to determine whether the artists in [group three] were entitled to streaming royalties, the district court would have needed to determine whether an implied contract to pay such royalties existed between all the members of that subclass and Warner. The district court reasonably concluded that the more challenging question of implied contract, applicable only to contracts for [group three], would overwhelm the straightforward interpretive questions applicable to the contracts for [groups one and two]".

The appeals court also notes that, even if Williams was paid the higher streaming royalty rate, he's unlikely to ever recoup on his old record contract, ie pay off past advances and costs that are recoupable out of his royalties. Which means, in tangible terms, he hasn't suffered any harm as a result of Warner's policies on streaming payments.

The ruling states that Williams and his production company "would not have been eligible to receive any royalty payments of any kind because of the considerable unrecouped balance on their Warner Bros account. Furthermore, it was very unlikely that plaintiffs would recoup that outstanding balance and become eligible to receive royalties before the copyright protection for their musical compositions expired".

"Unlike other putative class members whose accounts were recouped or who would likely become recouped before the expiration of their intellectual property rights", it adds, "plaintiffs have little prospect of any direct harm".

Neither Williams nor Warner have as yet commented on the latest decision in this case.


Sony Music announces new deal with Tencent and direct deal with NetEase in China
Sony Music has announced a new deal with Chinese web giant Tencent covering all of the firm's various music services, but also a direct deal with the other main player in music streaming in China, NetEase.

It's a further step towards ending the unusual situation in the Chinese market whereby many rights owners license their music to one digital music platform, which then also gets exclusive distribution rights for the country. This has meant that other streaming services are forced to secure licensing deals from their competitors to access that label's recordings.

The majors all previously worked with Tencent in that way, although such arrangements have been criticised by Chinese competition regulators in more recent years.

The direct deal with NetEase directly licenses Sony Music's catalogues to the NetEase Cloud Music service, and should also result in other "innovative collaborations" that will "bring elevated music experiences to NetEase Cloud Music's large, unique community of young music lovers in China". That will likely include karaoke services and music video content.

Says VP of NetEase Cloud Music, Ding Bo: "With access to Sony Music's abundant catalogue of top artists across the globe, we're THRILLED to provide more unique and influential music content for our audience's diverse tastes. The partnership will enrich and enliven our already vast and expanding library of quality music and propel China's online music ecosystem forward".

Meanwhile, the major's President Of Global Digital Business, Dennis Kooker, adds: "We are pleased to be partnering with NetEase Cloud Music to further grow the availability of our music in China and increase the level of global investment in our roster of world class artists. China is one of the most dynamic music markets in the world, and we look forward to working with NetEase Cloud Music to develop innovative approaches for our tremendous creative talent to connect with fans locally".

The new multi-year deal with Tencent Music Entertainment covers the firm's three streaming services, QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, as well as its livestreaming and WeSing platforms. Oh, and "TME's online music platforms also will make music content from Sony Music available on certain designated connected devices, such as smart speakers, television, and in-car audio systems, in mainland China".

Says TME's Executive Chairman Cussion Pang: "Extending our cooperation with SME was a natural next-step for us. We look forward to leveraging our strong distribution channels to explore new ways of music marketing and the promotion of new artists, as well as deepening our reach to Japanese pop culture fans in China. With the music industry in China booming and set to become increasingly important on the international music map, we believe alliances such as these enable our users to have the best possible experience at their fingertips".

Kooker adds: "Sony Music is pleased to extend our valued partnership with Tencent Music to maximise the reach of our artists in the vitally important market of China. We look forward to working with TME to develop further growth in the Chinese music marketplace and drive greater levels of local investment in our global roster of amazing talent, which includes many of the world's biggest superstars".

Universal Music announced it was renewing its partnership with Tencent but also entering into a direct partnership with NetEast last August. Though, despite many of Tencent's exclusivity deals coming to an end, the firm's dominance in the digital music market in China is still being scrutinised by regulators there. Recent reports suggested that it might actually be forced to sell two of its music apps, most likely Kugou Music and Kuwo Music which it acquired in 2016.


Warner Music partners with Diamond Platnumz
Warner Music has announced a new partnership with Tanzanian artist Diamond Platnumz and his record label WCB-Wasafi. The deal will see that label incorporated into the existing partnership between Warner Music South Africa and entertainment company Ziiki Media.

"I've built WCB-Wasafi from the ground up and believe that Warner Music and Ziiki are the right partners to help further grow our reach", he says. "I'm also looking forward to plugging into the Warner network myself. We've got some exciting plans and I can't wait to share more music with the world".

Alfonso Perez-Soto, President Of Emerging Markets at Warner Music, adds: "Diamond Platnumz musical talent is undeniable and he’s become one of Africa's most successful artists".

"On top of that, he’s proven to be an incredible businessman, as he's grown WCB-Wasafi into a formidable record label. The East and Central African music scene has exploded over the last few years and we believe by working together, we can help promote Diamond and his artists to more fans around the world, and introduce the Bongo Flava scene to a broader audience".

He goes on: "This 360 partnership establishes a new way to engage with artists in Africa and our ambition to bring African talent to the rest of the world. I'd like to thank Warner Music South Africa and Ziiki Media for their outstanding support in making this deal happen".

As well as Diamond Platnumz himself, WCB-Wasafi works with artists including Lava Lava, Mbosso, Rayvanny, Zuchu and Queen Darleen.


Attitude Is Everything launches new Accessible Employment Guide
Accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything has launched a new 'Accessible Employment Guide' as part of its ongoing work to "improve the inclusion of deaf and disabled workers in the commercial music sector".

Having worked for years to make venues and festivals as accessible as possible for all music fans, in more recent years Attitude Is Everything has also been providing advice on how to make the music industry more accessible to deaf and disabled artists, songwriters and music industry practitioners.

Explaining the need for the new guide, Attitude Is Everything notes that "research suggests that disabled people remain hugely underrepresented at all levels of the UK music industry, despite significant increases in disabled audiences at live music events and the fact that 19% of working adults are considered disabled under the Equality Act".

"More concerningly", it adds, "a study published by UK Music in April 2021 found that one in five disabled people in the music industry have faced discrimination at work".

The new guide, the charity goes on, aims to address and remedy this situation, by providing practical advice for music industry companies and employers, including small and middle-sized businesses that often have no focused HR function and which operate on tight profit margins.

"The free downloadable publication offers simple and straightforward tips on how to attract talented deaf and disabled workers with advice on everything from accessible job interviews and accessible meetings to suggested adjustments to office and work environments", the charity says.

"Demystifying many of the stereotypes surrounding disability, the publication draws on Attitude Is Everything's 21 years of experience in the live music and events industry, as well as new focus group and survey findings".

Commenting on the guide, Attitude Is Everything’s Head Of Volunteering And Skills Development, Paul Hawkins, adds: "Our research shows that deaf and disabled people face barriers applying for jobs in the music industry and that many of those with impairments or health conditions who do work in the industry are concerned about the consequences of identifying themselves as disabled, especially if they are freelance or not in secure employment".

"Over the last year, we've found that there is a lot of desire for a more inclusive and diverse industry but that organisations are not always sure of the steps needed to make that happen", he goes on. "Our 'Accessible Employment Guide' is designed to be clear and concise and to give companies the information they need to start making changes today".

"The events of the last year have turned many conceptions about the workplace on their head and we're keen to support the music industry to build back for all and for the industry to come back a stronger, more effective and more diverse place where everyone can succeed based on their talents. We hope that this guide will help to make that happen".

The guide will be formally launched with a panel discussion this evening featuring Robin Millar from Chrysalis Blue Raincoat Group, Jude McArdle from the Association Of Independent Music, freelance festival accessibility consultant Harry Jones, and Attitude Is Everything's Paul Hawkins.

You can download a copy of the guide here and find out how to sign up to tune in to the panel discussion online here.


Approved: Joviale
Eighteen months on from the release of her debut EP 'Crisis', Joviale is set to put out her second collection of tracks, 'Hurricane Belle', later this month.

Produced again by Bullion, 'Hurricane Belle' is inspired by Peter Shenai's 'Hurricane Bells' exhibition, in which he cast brass bells modelled on the five stages of Hurricane Katrina, allowing those who struck the bells to experience the exact frequency of sound from the stage of the hurricane that they reflect. However, in Joviale's project, rather than representing a physical storm, each track draws the listener into the eye of an emotional storm.

It might sound like you need to steel yourself for a difficult ride, but as first single 'Blow!' shows, this is a storm you'll be happy to be pulled into. Sounding like an alternative future imagined in the 80s, its jerky, programmed percussion nudges the track along as Joviale lays out her thoughts and feelings through constricting and retracting melodies.

'Hurricane Belle' is set for release this Friday. Watch the video for 'Blow!' here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.

LoneLady to release first album for six years next month
LoneLady has announced that she will release her third album, 'Former Things', next month through Warp. Right now, you can listen to new single 'Fear Colours', which she describes as "an electroscape of funk, crunch and vocodered fear".

Of the making of her first album since 2015's 'Hinterland', and events that took place between the two records, she says: "I was hungry for a change of scene. Born and bred in Manchester, my home city is like walking around a giant living diary, an archeology of myself, layered with memories. Following meetings with Somerset House Studios Director Marie McPartlin, in June 2016 I moved from Manchester to London to become a Studio member".

"I set up a new studio in 'The Rifle Range', an 18th century naval shooting gallery", she continues. "In this long, narrow concrete room I set up my studio to be part art installation, part nightclub, where I could turn the volume up loud and project Cabaret Voltaire super-eight videos and Ingmar Bergman films across the stone walls. I was located at the dramatic heart of it all, not far from Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace - quite a change from my previous studios nestled in the crumbling darklands of Manchester's outskirts".

The album is set for release on 25 Jun, and there will be accompanying tour dates in September, October, January and February.

If you want more LoneLady chat, have a little listen to this enlightening edition of Dan Le Sac's 'Falling Forward' podcast here. And you can watch the video for 'Fear Colours' here.



In partnership with Music For Nations, live music charity Stagehand has launched a new crowdfunding campaign raising money for live crew left without income during the pandemic. Called #ILoveMetal, it sees prizes donated by artists and companies including Black Sabbath, Nuclear Blast, My Dying Bride, Laney, Epiphone, Earache, Kerrang, Century Media and Download Festival. Find out more here.



Warner Records UK has promoted Joe Kentish to President. He will officially replace Phil Christie next month. "Joe truly is one of the most talented and instinctively brilliant execs out there, and his track record speaks for itself", says Warner Music UK CEO Tony Harlow. "Not only is he an incredibly talented A&R, but he's someone with a comprehensive understanding of what great artist development takes".



The team behind Welsh promoter Climax Live have launched new company Escape Records, which will be home to a new group of record labels, as well as their existing festivals: Inside Out, Colour Clash, Party At The Park and the Escape festival. "Our mantra is trust and love the process", says Director Mark Hopkins. "This means we’ve had an incredible ride, with many knocks along the way, but we have learnt from them all and improved each time and are now ready to take things to the next level".



Green Day have released new single 'Polyanna'.

J Cole has released the video for 'Amari' from new album 'The Off-Season'.

John Grant has released new single 'Billy'. He says of the track: "'Billy' is a song about how many men destroy themselves trying to live up to stereotypes of masculinity, and how this manifests in countless ways". His new album 'Boy From Michigan' is out on 25 Jun.

Ghetts has released the video for 'Good Hearts', featuring Aida Lae, from his 'Conflict Of Interest' album.

Ashnikko has released the video for 'Slumber Party', featuring Princess Nokia.

Au/Ra has released new single 'Bite Marks'. "[It's] about letting someone into your life knowing they could hurt you - that fear becoming reality, and feeling stupid for letting it happen", she says. "It's about playing the fool, knowingly, and having to grow and live with the bite marks that leaves behind".

Upsahl has released new single 'Douchebag'.

Maddox Jones has released new single 'Can't Wait For The Summer'. "This release is a fun, optimistic guitar driven pop record perfect for now as we all can't wait for this summer and for lockdown to finally be over", he says.

Torgny has released new single 'Together', featuring Maria Due. "'Together' tells the story of romantic love under pressure", he says. "That kind of strange, simmering pressure. Relationship goals, ambivalence, transformation, future angst, I guess all of that and more is in there. I've worked with Maria since my early releases and she perfectly encapsulates the feeling of the song". His new EP of the same name is out on 11 Jun.



Coldplay will play a four song livestreamed set on TikTok on 24 May in aid of Red Nose Day. "Red Nose Day do amazing things around the world to keep children safe, healthy, educated and empowered", says Chris Martin. "We're really happy to be able to support their work with this performance".

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


Abba's Waterloo named UK's favourite Eurovision song
Abba's 'Waterloo' has been named the UK's favourite Eurovision song by Radio 2 listeners. Ironic, given that it won the 1974 edition of the big contest despite the UK not awarding it any points at all. A special show presented by Ken Bruce this week will reveal the UK's top 50 all-time favourite songs from the competition.

If you're wondering, the top five is completed by 'Making Your Mind Up' by Bucks Fizz, 'Love Shine A Light' by Katrina And The Waves, 'Save Your Kisses For Me' by Brotherhood Of Man and 'Puppet On A String' by Sandie Shaw.

All of which suggests this wasn't voted for by proper Eurovision aficionados. I mean, this is more a list of the most famous Eurovision songs. Where's 'Euphoria' by Loreen, or 'Fairytale' by Alexander Rybak, or 'I Feed You My Love' by Margaret Berger, or 'Divine' by Sébastien Tellier? Could we not put Lordi's 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' up there?

Still, you can't really argue with Abba, can you? Who would dare? Commenting on the win, the band's Frida Lyngstad says: "'Waterloo' was our first song under our new name, Abba, which - after we performed it to audiences across Europe thanks to Eurovision - became a huge global hit. The success of 'Waterloo' changed everything for us as a band, so we would like to thank all the Eurovision fans who voted for the song!"

By the way, when recently asked about the UK awarding his Eurovision entry nil points, Abba's Björn Ulvaeus speculated that that might have been tactical voting on the part of the British judging panel, which was entirely in charge of the country's points allocation back then. After all, he told the BBC, "the Brits were the first ones to embrace us after winning".

What tactics were at play? Well, some thought that that year's UK entry, being sung by Olivia Newton-John, was a good contender for the win, and maybe the British judges recognised Abba as the main competitor. Because there's always been a smattering of politics at play at Eurovision.

Of course the UK was hosting the contest that year and had booked The Wombles as the interval entertainment. So maybe everyone else tactically voted for Newton-John's main competitors - ie Abba - to ensure that the Brits wouldn't have host status and interval act booking privileges for a second year running. Not that that was assured. The UK was only hosting in 1974 because 1973 winner Luxembourg didn't want to hassle of staging the show two years running.

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yes, even in Brexit Britain the country's favourite ever Eurovision song was written and sung by some foreigners. Says Ken Bruce: "Well, who'd have thought it? 'Waterloo' comes top - but, as Abba sang, 'I feel like I win when I lose' - a massive eighteen of the Top 50 are UK songs, so well done us!"

Come on now, there is no way that the UK has put forward 36% of the best 50 Eurovision songs of all time. This poll might as well be called 'the top 50 Eurovision songs that British people can remember'.

Anyway, the show will be available on the BBC Sounds app from 8pm tonight, and will be aired on Radio 2 from 1-3pm on 22 May, ahead of this year's grand final.

The first semi-final of this year's contest will also take place tonight, but there's already been plenty of drama. Four delegations we forced to quarantine last week, following positive COVID tests in the Polish and Icelandic teams. The delegations from Malta and Romania were also quarantined, as they were staying in the same hotel.

In subsequent testing, all other members of the four delegations have tested negative. The Malta and Romania delegations were allowed in to rehearsals yesterday, while Iceland and Poland are being held in quarantine until Wednesday as a precaution. If they all test negative again on Wednesday, they will be allowed to join the rehearsals and take part in Thursday's semi-final.


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.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (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.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (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.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk 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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