THURSDAY 3 JUNE 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: YouTube's Global Head Of Music Lyor Cohen yesterday published a stats brag blog post, declaring that the Google division has paid over $4 billion to the music industry over the last year, and that it signed up more premium subscribers in the first quarter this year than in any previous quarter... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES YouTube paid $4 billion to the music industry last year and is still finding new sources of revenue for artists, says Lyor Cohen
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DEALS BMG announces new rights administration deal with Netflix
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS AIM launches its new associate membership programme
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MEDIA Absolute Radio series to put the spotlight on six grassroots venues
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RELEASES Public Service Broadcasting to explore Berlin on new album
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ONE LINERS Billie Eilish, Prince, Rufus Wainwright, more
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AND FINALLY... Robert Smith says he's working on an album of "just noise", as he guests on new Chvrches single
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MEASURE PR - PUBLICIST (LONDON)
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DOUBLE SIX RIGHTS MANAGEMENT - LABEL REPERTOIRE COORDINATOR (LONDON)
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Sentric Music Group is looking for a personable Client Manager with solid industry knowledge to deliver a first-class relationship and reporting service to its key clients.

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Gondwana Records is currently seeking a dynamic and highly organised full time Junior Product Manager to join its expanding team.

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State-of-the-art complex of songwriting and music production studios The Axis is looking for a brilliant self-starter to join our team to support the Directors over the summer of 2021.

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Fourteen Ten Agency is looking for an accomplished content writer or journalist to work with us on content for its music blog Eat Hear and social media management for the Facebook and Instagram pages of a world leading drinks brand.

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Secretly Group seeks a D2C Manager, Marketing & Operations for its London office.

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YouTube paid $4 billion to the music industry last year and is still finding new sources of revenue for artists, says Lyor Cohen
YouTube's Global Head Of Music Lyor Cohen yesterday published a stats brag blog post, declaring that the Google division has paid over $4 billion to the music industry over the last year, and that it signed up more premium subscribers in the first quarter this year than in any previous quarter.

Of course, when record industry veteran Cohen first took on the YouTube role in 2016, blog posts like this were mainly about responding to the latest round of criticism of the Google video platform by the music industry.

But in the last couple of years relations between the music industry and YouTube have generally improved. Indeed, in some quarters that was already happening even when the very public music industry v YouTube war was underway as the safe harbour reforms in the 2019 EU Copyright Directive were being negotiated.

There are various reasons why YouTube's relationships with the music industry have got a lot better. The launch of the stand-alone YouTube Music streaming service, which works more like Spotify and Apple Music, was one key development, allowing Google to argue that all the free music swimming around the main YouTube platform was now directly helping to upsell the kind of premium subscriptions that have long been a priority for the record industry.

However, a surge in ad sales on the main YouTube platform - and a marked increase in the number of ads being served alongside videos on the service - also helped, fuelling an uplift in revenues the music industry receives from free video streams and user-generated content. Other logistical tools behind the scenes making it easier for labels to link together the various strands of YouTube - the music service, music on the main platform, other artist uploads and so on - all helped too.

Cohen has always been keen to big up the revenue potential of ad-funded free content to a music industry more focused on the premium subscriptions business, while also stressing YouTube's concurrent commitment to grow its own paid-for music services.

And, despite the positive shift in YouTube's relationship with the music industry, that's basically still his key message to the wider music community

"I've seen this industry evolve from an audio business, to an audio-visual business, and now – as my friend Chuck D puts it – to a visual-audio business", he writes in the new blog post. "As a visual-audio platform, our goal is to become the leading revenue generator for the music industry and to help artists around the world build a career making music. We are uniquely positioned to achieve this goal because YouTube monetises the end-to-end music experience globally".

He then talks up what he calls "our twin-engine growth". With both ad-supported and subscription tiers, he says, "we give users the choice to pay with their attention or their wallets. YouTube is the world’s largest stage, and advertisers are eager to tap into the deep music engagement that the platform enables. With over two billion users watching music videos monthly, YouTube allows advertisers to reach audiences they can't find anywhere else. In addition, we added more paid members in quarter one of 2021 than in any other quarter in our history".

And, while Spotify could also talk up it's "twin-engine growth" - with both ad-funded and premium tiers - YouTube arguably has "triple-engine growth" because of user-generated content. "Of the more than $4 billion generated for artists, songwriters and rightsholders in the last twelve months, over 30% has come from UGC", Cohen says. "Fan-powered videos have always flourished on YouTube, helping artists grow their audiences and break songs around the world. We're THRILLED it's now also become a meaningful and incremental source of revenue alongside premium music content".

Though maybe YouTube has "quadruple-engine growth". Because in the final section of his blog, Cohen talks about how YouTube is "finding new sources of revenue" for the music industry. That's mainly about direct-to-fan products - which means enabling the upsell of tickets, discs and merchandise, but also channel memberships and digital gifting.

It's always seemed like the music industry hasn't fully capitalising on the potential of the online direct-to-fan relationship, though many artists, managers and labels have become more focused on this opportunity during the COVID shutdown, with the online connection to the fanbase becoming ever more important in the absence of live shows.

Meanwhile, the direct-to-fan side of the music business is itself in flux. Whereas in the past D2F was often mainly about selling physical products through an online artist store - or possibly via a fan-funding or pre-order campaign - increasingly it's about fans paying to access extra and premium online content and experiences.

The fact online influencers beyond music are increasingly moving into that space too is boosting the idea that fans might want to directly support creators through subscriptions, donations or new fangled forms of digital gifting.

Specialist D2F platforms and services like Bandcamp, Patreon and FanCircles all have an important role to play in that domain, of course. But the social media and video-sharing platforms are all busy adding new monetisation tools of this kind too - often linked to their respective livestreaming services - and that includes Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Twitch and - of course - YouTube.

"We're continuing to innovate with direct-to-fan products such as ticketing, merch, memberships, paid digital goods and virtual ticketed events", Cohen's blog adds. "Blackpink's paid virtual concert sold nearly 280,000 channel memberships across 81 countries and helped the group earn 2.7 million new subscribers to their official artist channel".

While ongoing growth in premium streaming subscriptions remains very important to the music industry of course, the further expansion of free services and all the various new direct-to-fan monetisation tools will become increasingly key over the next decade in the digital music market.

That trend is put in the spotlight in the latest One Step Ahead report from IMPALA and CMU Insights, which looks at the different ways music content and the fan relationship are being monetised on social media and video-sharing apps, as well as the potential of other digital platforms and business models, including livestreaming, podcasts, NFTs and all the manifestations of direct-to-fan.

The report also considers what artists and labels need to do now to capitalise on these new opportunities, both in terms of how they interact with individual platforms like YouTube, and in terms of the kinds of of content and experiences that might excite the fanbase. And, as music content is accessed and monetised in increasingly diverse ways, how does that impact on the artist/label relationship?

Members of IMPALA and IMPALA-affiliated national trade bodies can access a free copy of the new report - 'A Diversifying Digital Market: Capitalising On The New Opportunities' - from the IMPALA website. There will also be a webinar on the report next Thursday, 10 Jun.

Meanwhile, back at YouTube, Cohen concludes: "Building the best music experience for fans and empowering all artists to grow their careers are mission-critical for us. I couldn't be more excited about the music industry's future".

Of course no one platform is the going to single-handedly power an artist's business - and that's more true now than ever. But, while there are still plenty of YouTube critics in the music industry, it is also true that the Google business is interesting because the digital music market is diversifying, and YouTube more than any platform cuts across all the different digital revenue streams, both those that are the big bucks generators of today, and those that could be the key money making tools of tomorrow.

You can read Cohen's blog post here.

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BMG announces new rights administration deal with Netflix BMG has announced a new "long-term exclusive agreement" with Netflix via which it will continue to administrate the streaming firm's music publishing rights everywhere around the world except the USA. Because, you know, fuck the USA.

"Netflix has increased its subscriber numbers by two-thirds to over 204 million in more than 190 countries since it struck its first deal with BMG in 2017", reports the music firm, which says it secured its latest deal with the streaming giant "after a competitive pitch against the world's largest music companies".

Of course, as well as signing up all those new subscribers, Netflix has also become an ever more prolific commissioner of original movies and TV shows in recent years with acclaimed programmes like, well, erm, if I'm being honest, I've sort of found myself tuning out of the Netflixes of late and only watching twelve minute videos on the YouTubes.

However the BMG press release name-checks 'The Queen’s Gambit', 'The Crown', 'Extraction', 'Stranger Things' and 'Emily In Paris', and I'm sure they're all great.

Anyway, the key point is, more programmes being made means more music being commissioned and therefore more music publishing rights to administrate. And we all know administrating publishing rights can be a right old mindfuck.

But not when you've got access to BMG's "cloud-based rights management platform, a class-leading security rating and royalty technology that uses artificial intelligence algorithms to optimise matching". And we all love a bit of AI-driven algorithmic optimisation, right? Well, whatever, Netflix does.

The firm's VP Of Music Legal Dominic Houston says: "BMG has been an outstanding partner to us - both a trusted third party and an innovator in the administration of music rights. This deal will allow us to continue to provide exceptional production support to our creators, while bringing the very best music to our members around the world".

Adds BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch: "When the most technologically savvy entertainment company in the world chooses your platform to manage its precious music rights, that's an endorsement. We are delighted to extend our successful collaboration with Netflix".

Lovely stuff. Maybe I should be tuning back into some Netflix action and watching something with a longer run time than twelve minutes. Feel free to recommend some programmes. But only the ones with great original scores. Then I can also enjoy the experience of consuming some of the world's best administrated compositions.

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Warner expands its Chinese hip hop label, signs Bohan Phoenix
Warner Music China is expanding its hip hop label Juuice, extending the division's operations into Taiwan and Hong Kong. The label has also announced the signing of rapper Bohan Phoenix.

Confirming all this, Jonathan Serbin - CEO of Greater China for Warner Music Asia - says: "We are delighted to announce the expansion of Juuice across Greater China. Already a force in the mainland, we are now leveraging the resources of our other affiliates, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to fuel Juuice's ability to promote its roster across a wider network in Asia. Juuice artists will benefit from Warner Music's integrated marketing and promotion efforts across the region, enabling them to accelerate their careers by reaching the widest audience possible".

For his part, Phoenix is super excited to now be part of the label's expansion. In fact he's... well, you know. "I'm THRILLED to join Warner Music China and the Juuice family", he says. "They work with some of the greatest talents in the genre, and I'm so excited to become part of the roster. I can't wait to continue my work building bridges between East and West through music in the months and years to come".

On the latest Juuice signing, Serbin adds: "We are very pleased to welcome Bohan Phoenix to the Warner Music family. He is a true original and boasts one of the most exciting voices of the Chinese diaspora". Referencing the fact the rapper actually grew up in the US, Serbin goes on: "[Bohan] brings to the art his experiences from both the East and the West, capturing the dichotomy of his multi-cultural, bilingual upbringing. It is a great privilege to be able to work with him as he prepares to launch and showcase his music to the world".

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AIM launches its new associate membership programme
The UK's Association Of Independent Music today launches its new associate membership programme, which provides free access to knowledge, insight and resources to any clients of the trade body's distributor members, which includes self-releasing artists, managers and other entrepreneurs.

AIM says that the new programme should see its membership expand from 1000+ labels and associated businesses to 100,000+, bring many more small-scale and independent rights-holders into the community.

First announced last October, the new associate membership scheme formally goes into beta later today as AIM stages its first Future Independents conference, aimed at DIY artists, labels, managers and entrepreneurs.

The trade body says: "Associate members will have access to valuable industry knowledge via the specially-designed Associate Knowledge Base, an AI-driven search engine built on Zendesk's customer service platform. This has been made possible with the trust and commitment of AIM's distributor members, which are dedicated to supporting their clients".

Formally launching the new programme, AIM CEO Paul Pacifico says: "The launch of our associate membership tier is a significant milestone for us at AIM. Opening up access to industry knowledge and networking opportunities is one of the most important steps towards creating much-needed change across the industry and supporting the next generation of artists and entrepreneurs. As we broaden our reach and expand our membership, we hope to strengthen both AIM's member businesses and the UK independent music sector as a whole".

Meanwhile, Simon Wills of Absolute Label Services, who chairs AIM's Distribution Action Group, adds: "AIM's new associate tier is a fantastic addition to the benefits AIM membership delivers to its distributor members and will help us in supporting our clients as they grow their businesses in music".

AIM has also announced the appointment of Char Walsh, who joins the organisation from collecting society PPL. She becomes Community Support Manager, and will implement and manage the associate membership programme.

There is more information about the new programme here.

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Absolute Radio series to put the spotlight on six grassroots venues
Absolute Radio has announced more details about a new documentary series it will be airing that puts the spotlight on six grassroots music venues from around the UK, including London's 100 Club, Glasgow's King Tut's, Manchester's Night & Day, Sheffield's Leadmill, Leeds' Brudenell Social Club and Cardiff's Clwb Ifor Bach.

The series, called 'Tales From The Cloakroom', is presented by Texas frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri and will air on Sunday evenings from 13 Jun, but will also be available in one go on the Absolute Radio app from 11 Jun. Each episode is focused on a different venue.

Says Spiteri: "The UK's independent music venues are the lifeblood of an industry that I've proudly been a part of for over 30 years. To host this special series for Absolute Radio and to bring to life the history and heritage of each location will be a real honour. Grassroots venues have helped shape the music scene that we know and love today, and I can't wait to celebrate them with you".

On the decision to make the whole series available in one go online, Absolute Radio's Content Director Paul Sylvester adds: "We have to realise that audiences want to binge content they love and don't always want to wait a week to hear the next episode of a series that they're enjoying. We've seen this in television and now we're applying the same model to Absolute Radio's latest documentary series which we think will be a compelling listen for people".

Other musicians set to appear in the series include Ricky Wilson, Guy Garvey, KT Tunstall, Blossoms, James Dean Bradfield and Fran Healy.

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Approved: Blood Cultures
Over the course of their career, Blood Cultures has remained anonymous, hiding all aspects of who they are. However, with their latest project 'Luno' - described as a "death and rebirth" - they have chosen to reveal that they are a Pakistani-American.

"What the world needs right now is not an anonymous artist", they say of the decision to reveal this aspect of who they are. "It needs more black and brown voices being heard. I don't want my voice to be hidden. I feel it is my responsibility to come forward and represent the people who look like me, who feel like me".

Influenced by the writings of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, 'Luno' further explores identity and self-acceptance. Musically, it soundtracks this with everything from soft, acoustic songs - like 'Set It On Fire' - to dancefloor-tearing electronic music - like 'When The Night Calls'.

While on paper that might seem like a bit of a bumpy ride, the whole eight track record is constructed to flow in a way that makes total sense. The latest (and final) release from 'Luno' is 'Cabin Fever Freestyle', which also comes with the final in a series of videos that accent the themes of each song.

"The music video explores the feeling of desperation and longing in the face of loss", says Blood Cultures. "This video acts as the finale of the 'Luno' music video series, exemplifying many of the themes from the record while tying in concepts and visual elements from the ongoing story that is told through the videos and our multi-media project".

'Luno' is out now. Watch the video for 'Cabin Fever Freestyle' here.

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

Public Service Broadcasting to explore Berlin on new album
Public Service Broadcasting have announced that they will release their fourth album, 'Bright Magic', this autumn. Having made music about the Space Race and the Welsh coal mining industry on their last two records, this one will focus on Berlin.

"Doing this felt inevitable, somehow", says the band's J Willgoose. "In my head, it was whirring and pulsing away for a long time, even before [2017 album] 'Every Valley' - this fascinating, contrary, seductive place. I knew the album was going to be about the city, and its history and myths, and I was going to move there. So it's quite a personal story. It's become an album about moving to Berlin to write an album about people who move to Berlin to write an album".

The record aims to capture the city's energy, both figuratively and quite literally. For one track on the album, Willgoose used an electromagnetic receiver to record the pulses of street lamps and electrical cables.

"I walked up and down recording electrical currents and interference", he explains. "You can hear a few of these little frequency buzzes, clicks and impulses in 'Im Licht' - a song inspired in part by pioneering lightbulb manufacturers AEG and Siemens. It's what I was trying to do in the wider sense, I suppose – to capture those tiny little pulses you pick up while walking through a city".

'Bright Magic' is set for release through Play It Again Sam on 24 Sep. The first single from the album, 'People, Let's Dance', incorporates the guitar riff from Depeche Mode's 'People Are People' and features vocals from Berlin-based musician Eera.

The band have also announced UK tour dates set to follow the release of the album. And here they all are...

24 Oct: Cardiff University Great Hall
25 Oct: Brighton, Dome
26 Oct: Bristol, Academy
27 Oct: Exeter, The Great Hall
28 Oct: Southampton, Guildhall
30 Oct: Aylesbury, Friars Waterside
31 Oct: Birmingham, Institute
1 Nov: Leeds, Academy
2 Nov: Llandudno, Venue Cymru
4 Nov: Manchester, Apollo                        
5 Nov: Newcastle, City Hall                          
6 Nov: Aberdeen, Music Hall                          
7 Nov: Glasgow, Barrowland                    
9 Nov: Nottingham, Rock City                          
10 Nov: London, Brixton Academy
11 Nov: Cambridge, Corn Exchange

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DEALS

Having left BMG earlier this year, Steve Greenberg has announced that he his relaunching his S-Curve record label in partnership with Disney Music Group. S-Curve will keep A&R and marketing in-house, with other aspects of the business farmed out to Disney. S-Curve had been part of BMG since 2015.

Sentric Music's Black Rock Publishing has signed Anna and Archie Hamilton, and extended its deal with Felix Da Housecat. "We are humbled and proud to welcome Anna and Archie to the Black Rock family and to confirm that Felix, a client since we first started, has deepened his relationship with us to take full advantage of our creative services", says Sentric's Director Of Electronic Music, Mark Lawrence.

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APPOINTMENTS

Spotify's co-Head Of Music Marian Dicus has left the streaming service to take up a new role as VP Marketing at Netflix. "Marian is an exceptional marketer, with a diverse background of experiences from which she brings a unique and intuitive approach to strategic and creative marketing", Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John tells Billboard.

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RELEASES

Billie Eilish has released new single 'Lost Cause'.

Previously unreleased Prince track 'Born 2 Die' is out now. It's taken from upcoming album 'Welcome 2 America', extracted from the late musician's vault and set for release on 30 Jul.

Rufus Wainwright has released a new collaboration with Ampersounds, titled 'Technopera'. They will release an EP on 17 Jul.

Alanis Morissette has released a new collaboration with Willie Nelson, 'On The Road Again'. She will be on the road again in November to mark the 25th anniversary of her debut album, 'Jagged Little Pill'. New UK dates have just been added to that tour, including an extra date at the O2 Arena in London.

Laura Mvula has released the video for recent single 'Got Me'.

With her debut album 'Man Made' out tomorrow, Greentea Peng has released new track 'Free My People', featuring Simmy and Kid Cruise.

Jungle have released new single 'Talk About It'. The duo say: "'Talk About It' is the second single from our third LP 'Loving In Stereo' and it definitely gives listeners another taste of the energy we’ve delivered on this album. The bass riff and drum break were recorded very early on during the process of making this record and it was one of the songs where we really bottled the essence of the idea from very early on and [made sure to] not over-work it". That album is out on 13 Aug.

Throwing Snow has released new single 'Traveller'. His new album, 'Dragons', is out on 25 Jun.

Genesis Owusu has released new single 'Same Thing' - an outtake from his 'Smiling With No Teeth' album. "The songs chosen for the album conveyed a very specific narrative, but we also made a lot of great music that didn't necessarily fit the album's narrative points", he explains.

The Joy Formidable have released new single 'Back To Nothing'. Frontwoman Ritzy Bryan says: "'Back To Nothing' takes a stance on self-compassion, realising your worth and your boundaries and deciding not to give your love to an undeserving other".

Asbjørn has released new single '(Love Like A) Teenager'.

Martha May Skye has released new single 'Found Out'. "The voice is abject; it comes from within the body, it is delivered by the mouth, heard outside our anatomy, taken back in through the ear and felt as a vibration", she says. "The voice can trigger, titillate, stimulate, induce false memories of the past and desires for the future. Bending and melding, this song teases and guides the passenger into an inescapable place of their own creation".

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

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Robert Smith says he's working on an album of "just noise", as he guests on new Chvrches single
Robert Smith has been working on an album of "just noise". Although, you may be pleased to learn, that won't be one of the two albums The Cure are planning to release in the near future. So that's three albums in the works then. And he's also found time to guest on the new single from Chvrches.

"I've always wanted to do an hour's worth of noise", he told Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 yesterday. However, he conceded, releasing such a work as your first album in more than a decade might not be wise. Or at least that was what his bandmates reckoned.

"You wait ten years and then we bring out an album that's just noise... so it was just like, 'no'... That was me doing the rest of the band. That 'no' was a band no. So I've been just having fun with that really".

See? No one wants an hour of noise from The Cure. Apparently. I think that sounds like a good idea myself. It's a big fat "yes" from me. So, that's one vote. But whatever, the band have been working on more conventional new music too, with two albums now close to completion.

Smith told Lowe that there will be an update on the release of both of them in "about six weeks", with mixing the only thing left to do. He added of the two records that "one of them's very, very doom and gloom, and the other one isn't".

Yeah, yeah, whatever, we're not even here to talk about The Cure. Strike all of the above from your memory. Yes, even the album of noise. Robert Smith is on the new single by Chvrches, 'How Not To Drown', that's the real news story today.

The band's Martin Doherty told Lowe: "I wouldn't be in a band if it wasn't for [The Cure's] 'Disintegration' and Pornography' [albums]. So when Robert got back to us and said that he was interested in collaborating ... we never truly thought that it would come to fruition. After it had gone quiet for a little while, we get this demo of the blue - on Halloween, no less - from Robert. With him singing. And it was everything that we hoped it would be and more".

Along with the new single, Chvrches have also announced that they will release new album 'Screen Violence' on 27 Aug. Listen to 'How Not To Drown' here.

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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.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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