TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Competition & Markets Authority has launched an investigation into the recent acquisition by Sony Music of Kobalt's recordings division, which included the latter's neighbouring rights agency and the AWAL label services business. The regulator served an 'initial enforcement order' on Monday... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES UK competition regulator to investigate Sony's AWAL purchase
LEGAL Marilyn Manson sued by former assistant over alleged abuse
DEALS SACEM announces new deal with Spotify
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Vivendi may sell 10% of Universal Music to US investor ahead of stock market listing
LIVE BUSINESS Stockholm's Globe venue becomes the Avicii Arena
Deer Shed Festival confirms streamlined event in place of this year's edition

ONE LINERS Marshmello, Bon Jovi, Duran Duran, more
AND FINALLY... Flo Rida arrives in Rotterdam to join San Marino's Eurovision performance
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Getting songwriters and artists paid when their songs and recordings are played often comes down to whether or not the right data is in the system. But what data? This webinar runs through all the key data points and explains how to get information into the system.
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Artist And Songwriter Rights In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to the rights artists and songwriters enjoy over their music
Music Rights Data In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to music rights data, data standards and databases
Music Industry Basics In Ten Steps
A ten step guide to all the different strands of the modern music industry
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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UK competition regulator to investigate Sony's AWAL purchase
The UK's Competition & Markets Authority has launched an investigation into the recent acquisition by Sony Music of Kobalt's recordings division, which included the latter's neighbouring rights agency and the AWAL label services business. The regulator served an 'initial enforcement order' on Monday.

Sony announced that it was buying AWAL and Kobalt Neighbouring Rights back in February in a deal worth around $430 million. The transaction saw Kobalt refocus its energies on its original song rights administration business, stepping back from music distribution and the management of recording rights.

All three majors have expanded their distribution and services divisions over the years, of course, providing services to other labels and directly to self-releasing artists, alongside their more conventional label operations. But Sony has always been the most prolific in this space via its often acquisitive The Orchard business.

Both The Orchard and AWAL work with both labels and artists, although The Orchard skews to label clients and AWAL to artist clients, so there was a logic to bringing the two businesses under one roof.

Further expanding its distribution business also increases Sony's total market share, which can be important when negotiating with digital platforms - especially new services - and it gives the wider group ever more usage data to crunch, informing marketing campaigns and business development.

That brings us to possible competition law concerns about Sony significantly expanding its distribution and label services business through one transaction.

The pan-European trade group for the indie sector, IMPALA, had already referenced - and expressed concern about - the boost to market share caused by Sony's distribution business when opposing the major's complete buy-out of the old EMI songs catalogue via its music publishing division in 2018.

Though whether those competition law concerns justify any actual regulator intervention on the Sony/AWAL deal remains to be seen. So far the CMA has only announced that it will investigate the deal, providing no other comment on that investigation - even the timeline is to be confirmed.

The competition regulator simply stated: "The CMA is investigating the completed acquisition by Sony Music Entertainment of the AWAL and Kobalt Neighbouring Rights businesses from Kobalt Music Group Limited. On 17 May 2021, the CMA has served an initial enforcement order under section 72(2) of the Enterprise Act 2002 in relation to the completed acquisition".

Responding to the announcement of the CMA investigation, IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith tells CMU: "We welcome the investigation into this acquisition as it leads to further concentration in the music market and is part of an ongoing wider move by Sony to acquire significant independent players in key markets. We expect the investigation to cover both the physical and also digital markets, and the impact on competitors, digital services, artists and fans, who will all lose out".


Marilyn Manson sued by former assistant over alleged abuse
Marilyn Manson has been sued by a former assistant, Ashley Walters, who accuses him of sexual harassment, abuse and battery.

The lawsuit, which names Manson and his record label Marilyn Manson Records as defendants, says that the musician "physically and verbally threatened" Walters during her time working for him from 2010 to 2011. Some attacks, it is alleged, came during "drug induced fits of rage".

As well as numerous claims of abusive behaviour by Manson towards Walters herself, the lawsuit also details incidents of the musician allegedly abusing other women, including his former girlfriends Evan Rachel Wood and Esmé Bianco.

Wood went public with her own allegations against Manson in January, after years of alluding to abuse without naming him. Meanwhile, 'Game Of Thrones' actor Bianco sued Manson last month.

In the lawsuit, Walters says that at various points she snuck food and drinks into a bedroom for both Wood and Bianco, who were afraid to leave the room themselves. She also claims that Manson told her that "he had gotten away with raping women" and that he "wanted to kill women he was involved with".

As for why she is filing a lawsuit a decade after she stopped working with Manson, the legal filing says that she only realised that "what she suffered during employment was not only traumatic, but [also] unlawful" after other women asked her to share her experiences of working with the musician.

Manson has not commented on this lawsuit, but has previously denied the other allegations made against him. Following the allegations made by Wood, as well as several other women, in January, Manson was dropped by his record label Loma Vista Recordings and talent agent CAA.


SACEM announces new deal with Spotify
French collecting society SACEM has announced it has signed a new deal with Spotify which, it says, has been agreed as the rights organisation "addresses challenges related to the platform's launch of new offerings and expansion into new territories".

"Since 2008, when Spotify launched its streaming service and signed its first agreement with the SACEM, it has continued to grow and evolve, turning music streaming into a vital, mainstream mode of consumption", the society added in a statement.

"Bolstered by its expertise in the management of authors' rights in the digital sphere, SACEM has consolidated its position as a leader in collective management by regularly renegotiating its agreement with Spotify over the years in order to guarantee its members the fairest possible remuneration for the use of their works".

One challenge with digital licensing on the songs side is that streaming services usually have global ambitions, but music publishing traditionally operated on a territorial basis, especially when collective licensing is involved.

However, if the old fashioned territorial system is employed with streaming, it introduces inefficiencies into the system, with local collecting societies in each country initially collecting a songwriter's royalties, resulting in extra delays and deductions as the money passes along the royalty chain to the writer. It can also mean less able and efficient societies having a key role in administrating the music rights industry's fastest growing revenue stream in some markets.

To that end many publishers and societies have sought to circumvent the old systems when it comes to digital licensing, directly dealing with streaming services in as many countries as possible without relying on local intermediaries. Although full-on global licensing is yet to be properly achieved.

Nevertheless, societies like SACEM - which has been very proactive in this domain - increasingly license directly their own repertoires on a multi-territory basis. And, in SACEM's case, it negotiates and manages such multi-territory deals on behalf of other societies and music publishers too.

Earlier this year Spotify launched in a plethora of new markets, that being the "expansion into new territories" referenced by SACEM in its statement. The new deal, the society added, "covers all of the European Union countries, as well as Switzerland, Israel, South Africa, the Middle East, India, Russia and 80 other territories around the world".

Concluding, the French society said yesterday: "Streaming has opened up new opportunities for both creators and end users. SACEM is proud to have worked with Spotify for more than ten years. Together, SACEM and Spotify will continue to explore this ever-changing and strategic market for the entire music ecosystem".


Vivendi may sell 10% of Universal Music to US investor ahead of stock market listing
Universal Music owner Vivendi yesterday published more information about its plan to spin the music major off as a standalone business and list it on the Dutch stock exchange.

As part of that announcement, it revealed that it could sell a 10% stake in the Universal Music Group to an American investor before the stock market listing.

Vivendi has been looking to cash in on the streaming-caused music rights boom since 2018, of course, by selling off chunks of Universal, the biggest music rights company in the world. That began with a deal with a consortium of investors led by Chinese web giant Tencent, which ultimately acquired 20% of the UMG business. Then in February 2020 the stock market listing plan was confirmed.

Said plan was then fleshed out somewhat in February this year. The standalone Universal Music Group will be listed on the Euronext stock exchange in the Netherlands, a country that was previously home to Polygram, one of the forerunners of UMG back in the day.

As part of that process, 60% of the stock in the newly standalone Universal will be distributed to Vivendi's current shareholders, who can then sell or hold on to those shares. Which will mean Vivendi itself keeping 20% of UMG, with the aforementioned Tencent consortium owning the other 20%.

However, in yesterday's update Vivendi revealed that it may well sell half of its 20%. "Prior to the distribution of 60% of the UMG shares to Vivendi shareholders, the group is analysing the opportunity of selling 10% of UMG shares to an American investor", it said.

Vivendi specifying that any pre-listing share sale will involve an "American investor" suggests that talks are already underway with a specific US company regarding that deal. Though, if said deal falls through, Vivendi added that it might still sell up to half of its 20% on the stock market.

However, whatever happens, "Vivendi will retain 10% of the UMG share capital for a minimum period of two years in order to remain associated with the development of its subsidiary while benefiting from the protection of EU legislation applicable to parent companies and subsidiaries from different member states".

Vivendi also published information about its plans for the board of the all-new UMG business, which will consist mainly of independent non-executive members. Neither Vivendi nor its biggest shareholder Group Bolloré are seeking board representation at this stage.

With the distribution of 60% of Universal stock to Vivendi shareholders, Group Bolloré - the corporate group of Vincent Bolloré - will become the second biggest shareholder in the standalone music company, controlling 16% of the business, behind the Tencent consortium at 20% - assuming Vivendi does sell some of its 20% of course.

Although, given that Group Bolloré also basically controls Vivendi, it will actually control at least 36% of the music firm's stock.


Stockholm's Globe venue becomes the Avicii Arena
An arena venue in Avicii's home town of Stockholm has been renamed in honour of the late producer, real name Tim Bergling. The globe-like venue, most recently known as the Ericsson Globe, will now be called the Avicii Arena.

It's part of a partnership between the venue's operator ASM Global and the suicide prevention and mental health awareness charity set up by the producer's family, the Tim Bergling Foundation. The renamed arena will host a number of events organised by the Foundation, which focuses on suicide prevention among young people worldwide.

ASM Global says that the idea of the partnerships first came about when an Avicii tribute concert was staged in another Stockholm venue that the company operates.

The company's CEO, Ron Bension, told Billboard: "Hosting the tribute, we knew there was a void left after Tim passed. The people that run our venues around the world are members of those communities. They know what's happening, and it's my job to listen and then throw the weight of ASM Global behind it".

The producer's father, Klas Bergling, added of the tie up with ASM: "They asked if we were open to calling it the Avicii Arena and we were so honoured by just the question. For us, the possibility of taking the Tim Bergling Foundation into the arena for longterm activity is a very unique opportunity".

The partnership between the venue and the charity is also backed by Swedish insurance company Trygg-Hansa and retailer Bauhaus, both of which have their own mental health initiatives.


Deer Shed Festival confirms streamlined event in place of this year's edition
Organisers of the Yorkshire-based Deer Shed Festival yesterday put tickets on sale for a streamlined socially-distanced event they will stage in place of their usual edition this year, called Base Camp Plus.

Deer Shed was one of a number of independent festivals forced to cancel its 2021 edition last month, even though the planned lifting of COVID rules in England next month means that it could probably have gone ahead. However, with the ongoing risk of COVID regulations being extended and the lack of cancellation insurance on the commercial market, organisers Oliver Jones and Kate Webster said they simply couldn't afford to take the risk of ploughing on with plans for a full 2021 show.

It had been hoped, of course, that the UK government might follow the lead of a number of other countries and offer state-backed insurance. But, so far, no such scheme has been launched.

Jones explained last month: "Many things remain uncertain for festivals this summer, but the lack of COVID cancellation insurance is the one hurdle we have been unable to clear. Earlier in the year, we were hopeful a government-backed COVID insurance scheme would be in place, but we now have no reason to believe it will be despite frantic industry lobbying".

"Deer Shed is still a 100% independent family owned and run festival", he added, "and the risks of running without insurance leave Kate and myself financially exposed well beyond our comfort zone".

Despite cancelling the full festival, late last week Jones announced that an alternative smaller event would now take place on what would have been Deer Shed weekend, 30 Jul to 1 Aug.

Called Base Camp Plus, that event will be, Jones said, "a safe camping weekend in Baldersby Park, with plenty of space, loads of camping options including your own loo, park next to your pitch, book next to your mates, bring the dog... Plus live music and comedy performances (at last!), food, drink, partying, campfires, workshops, theatre, well-being, swingballs and anything else we dream up".

Jones and Webster actually staged a camping event for their festival's community last year, after Deer Shed 2020 was cancelled, fully complying with the slightly relaxed COVID rules that were in force last summer, and with entertainment broadcast over the site via a pop-up radio station. This year's camping event will build on that with live entertainment included this time. Having announced those plans last week, tickets for Base Camp Plus went on sale yesterday.

The UK live industry continues to put pressure on the government to offer state-backed insurance to larger scale events, to ensure promoters can continue working on shows and festivals for the months immediately after the lifting of COVID restrictions.

Last week Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Parliament that such a scheme might be launched if cancellation insurance is still not available commercially once most of those COVID restrictions have been removed, which it's currently hoped will happen on 21 Jun in England.

But that means another month of uncertainty for promoters, of course. Although some reckon there could be a bit more clarity on what that government scheme might look like even before the COVID regulations fully lift. We will see.


CMU Insights: Webinars on copyright, deals and streaming
The latest three-part series of CMU's Weekly Webinars kicked off yesterday putting the spotlight on music copyright, licensing and data. Although the first live session has already taken place, you can still book into all three and access a recording of webinar number one.

You can also book into sessions as part of two other upcoming series...

The Evolving Record Industry series on 8, 15 and 22 Jun puts the spotlight on the recorded music business. We look at the latest trends in the record industry from a revenue perspective, and then review how record deals have evolved over the last decade, and the changing role of the music distributor.

The Music Streaming Business Explained series on 29 Jun and 6 and 13 Jul provides a user-friendly guide to the digital market and digital licensing. Find out which digital services generate the most money for the music industry, understand the deals that have been done with Spotify et al, and get to grips with the big debates over how streaming revenues are shared out across the music community.

Click here to find out more and book your places


Kobalt has signed Seeb to a global publishing deal. "The main reasons behind our decision to team up is the great people in the Kobalt system, the flat structure, total transparency in data and the great online system for statements and reporting", say the dance music duo. "We really feel that Kobalt set the standard for how publishing should be dealt with today and going into the future".

Round Hill Music has acquired a bunch of recording rights from Swedish independent label Telegram Studios, including releases by Estelle, Caesars, Serj Tankian, Jamelia, Ziggy Marley And The Melody Makers and Throwing Muses. "It is real rarity to come across such a rich collection of masters that is independently owned", says Round Hill boss Josh Gruss.

Bucks Music Group has signed Ivory Layne to a worldwide publishing deal. "As an up-and-coming artist, I'm used to being valued for potential and what I could be someday", says Layne. "Bucks sees what I'm bringing to the table now and meets it with enthusiasm and insight. I couldn't be happier to be working with this incredible team and look forward to where we'll go together".

Busta Rhymes has signed a new deal with talent agency CAA to represent him in all areas of live activity. He was previously repped by APA.



DIY distributor TuneCore has hired former Vevo exec Becky Seffer as its new CFO. "Becky brings with her a wealth of knowledge and a deep understanding of the technology and music worlds, exactly where TuneCore sits", says COO Matt Barrington. "Her experience speaks for itself and I'm looking forward to her leadership as the company grows".

Edgar 'Edd Grand' Machuca has been named SVP A&R for both Capitol Records and Virgin Music Label & Artist Services at Universal Music in the US. "Edd has an intuitive feel for identifying game-changing artists, songs, and entrepreneurs", says Capitol Music Group CEO Jeff Vaughn. "His ability to build trust and speak the same language with creatives sets him apart as an A&R executive. In Edd's unique joint role at Capitol and Virgin, he will be empowered to do what he does best: impact global culture through music".



Duran Duran have announced that they will release new album 'Future Past' on 22 Oct, featuring collaborations with artists including Lykke Li and Blur's Graham Coxon. Here's new single 'Invisible'.

Jack Antonoff's Bleachers have released new single 'Stop Making This Hurt'. Antonoff says of the song: "'Stop Making This Hurt' started ringing more and more in my head, then the pandemic hit and I got the band in a room and we played like we may never play again. At that point, it took on another meaning. [I] found myself banging at the door of the next phase of my life [but to open it] brings up all the darkness from the past and what's holding you back. I could intellectualise it for days but what I'm truly left with is a voice in my head shouting 'stop making this hurt'".

Simply Red have released new single 'Earth In A Lonely Space'. "The Earth itself is in a lonely place", says Mick Hucknall. "It's the job of any artist to try and capture the moment and right now, a lot of people are isolated and alone".

Satanic Planet - featuring Slayer's Dave Lombardo and The Locust's Justin Pearon - have released new single 'Liturgy'. Their eponymous debut album is out on 28 May.

Charlotte OC has released new single 'Inevitable'. "This was the hardest song I've ever had to write", she says. "I wrote this song about my Dad when I found out he had cancer last year. This song is about the realisation that no matter how much you don't want it - losing someone is inevitable and happens to all of us".

Squid have released the video for recent single 'Pamphlets'.

Snapped Ankles have released new single 'The Evidence'.

Raven Bush has released new single 'Made Of Stars'. "For me, this piece is about remembering that during the process of change we find ourselves in uncomfortable spaces", he says. "And to remember it's these moments where we grow the most, so hold tight".

K-pop group have released new single 'Rub-a-dum'.



Marshmello will headline the opening ceremony of the UEFA Champions League Final in Portugal on 29 May. Here's a little preview.

Bon Jovi will screen a live performance in around 250 UK cinemas on 10 Jun. "With most concert tours still halted, and fans missing live concerts, we are THRILLED that Bon Jovi fans will have an opportunity to come together and share this experience as a community in their local cinemas", says Trafalgar Releasing's Kymberli Frueh. Tickets are on sale here.

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


Flo Rida arrives in Rotterdam to join San Marino's Eurovision performance
Flo Rida has confirmed that he will perform with San Marino's Eurovision entrant Senhit at this Thursday's semi-final of the big Song Contest. The US rapper appears on the recorded version of the song - 'Adrenalina' - but it had been unclear if he would travel to the Netherlands for the show until his arrival in Rotterdam yesterday.

In a statement, Flo Rida says: "What's up Netherlands, it's your man Flo Rida! I'm so excited to see you guys at the Eurovision Song Contest. I'll be hitting the stage with the superstar talented Senhit to perform our new record 'Adrenalina'. It's such a good feeling to be back in Europe after so long. I'm very grateful to be able to perform once again, and on the biggest stage in the world".

The rapper will join Senhit on stage at the semi-final tomorrow and, if the song qualifies, at the grand final on Saturday. If successful, it would only be the third time the country has made it to the final since it first entered the competition in 2008.

This is also Senhit's third time representing San Morino. She first entered with the song 'Stand By' in 2011, but failed to get through to the final. She was then due to perform the song 'Freaky' last year, but the competition was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Not the luckiest of Eurovision performers, she nonetheless chose to take the risk of including American Flo Rida when putting together this year's song, despite not knowing what travel restrictions would still be in place by May, within Europe let alone trans-Atlantic.

Commenting on the rapper's arrival in the Netherlands yesterday, she said: "Actually when I invited him to join me on the Eurovision stage back in March, the decision was made there with joy. It was not easy to predict the traveling restrictions, but there we go... I'm very happy to have him with me to perform 'Adrenalina', not only to Europe but to the whole world! We are ready!"

Having been replaced by a stand-in until now, Flo Rida will join today's rehearsals before Thursday's live broadcast. Tomorrow's show will be the second semi-final, following the first last night. What was clear from that show is that, after a year off, everyone has upped their game. This meant that there were very few duds among last night's hopefuls.

Still, there were a few, and all of them went through, meaning that some better songs and great performers will not be seen by a larger audience at the final on Saturday. North Macedonia were robbed! Favourites Lithuania and Malta did make it through, though. As did Ukraine, whose song is mind-bendingly incredible.

Those hoping for something more comical will still be in luck, though. Norway somehow got through with a very confusing angels and devils theme. Also, Germany - one of the so called 'Big Five' countries that go through to the final automatically due to the financial contributions they make to organiser the European Broadcasting Union - have sent a song and performance that is utterly perplexing.

Anyway, before all that, you can acquaint yourself with Senhit and Flo Rida's 'Adrenalina' here.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column. (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited. (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY. or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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