WEDNESDAY 7 JULY 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Britney Spears' court-appointed attorney Sam Ingham has become the latest person involved in her affairs to resign. The move comes less than 24 hours after the resignation of the singer's manager, and just days after the financial firm that co-manages the conservatorship that controls Spears' career decisions, finances and personal affairs also asked to withdraw from that arrangement... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Britney Spears' court appointed attorney resigns
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LEGAL Stream-ripper hits back at court order over user-data
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DEALS Roblox signs licensing deal with Sony Music
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LIVE BUSINESS National Lottery and Music Venue Trust partner on £1 million grassroots touring initiative
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MEDIA Capital Dance expands its schedule
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RELEASES Hayden Thorpe announces second solo album
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ONE LINERS Electric Ibiza, Damon Albarn, Anne-Marie, more
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AND FINALLY... Zoe Ball took voluntary £380,000 pay cut when renegotiating her new Radio 2 deal
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Britney Spears' court appointed attorney resigns
Britney Spears' court-appointed attorney Sam Ingham has become the latest person involved in her affairs to resign. The move comes less than 24 hours after the resignation of the singer's manager, and just days after the financial firm that co-manages the conservatorship that controls Spears' career decisions, finances and personal affairs also asked to withdraw from that arrangement.

A document filed with the court overseeing the conservatorship yesterday reads: "Samuel D Ingham III hereby resigns as court-appointed counsel for Britney Jean Spears, conservatee, effective upon the appointment of new court-appointed counsel". In the same document, the law firm with which Ingham works, Loeb & Loeb, also moves to withdraw from having any involvement in the conservatorship.

Ingham's resignation follows both Spears' own comments opposing her long-running legal guardianship, as well as a New Yorker article that accused him of reporting back to her father about his client from pretty much the start of the conservatorship in 2008, while also pointing out that the musician is forced to pay him an annual salary higher than her own living expenses.

When Spears made her public statement to the court last month, she called the system she is held under "abusive" and said that she is unable to live her life as she wants to - claiming that she is even being prohibited from getting married and having a baby by those tasked with her care.

She also said that she had never petitioned the court to end the conservatorship during the thirteen years she has been bound by it because she was unaware that that was something that she could do. The end of her relationship with Ingham may explain why she has still not formally begun that petitioning process, despite saying that she wants the conservatorship to end.

Earlier this week, Spears' longtime manager, Larry Rudolph - who is not directly involved with the conservatorship - resigned after 25 years representing the singer. He said that he has not communicated with her for two and a half years and now understands that she wants to retire completely from her career in music and entertainment.

Meanwhile, last week, the finance firm that jointly manages Spears' estate with her father Jamie - the Bessemer Trust - also requested to resign from the conservatorship. It cited her statements on the arrangement days earlier, saying that it had previously believed that she had consented to said arrangement, but now believed otherwise.

If the resignations of Bessemer, Igham and Loeb & Loeb are granted, those retaining involvement will be Jamie Spears - currently co-conservator of his daughter's estate - and Jodi Montgomery - conservator of Spears' personal affairs.

Though Jamie Spears has also requested a court investigation into Montgomery, deflecting criticisms of his daughter's care onto her - despite Britney targeting him specifically in her statement.

Legal reps for Montgomery, meanwhile, issued a statement yesterday saying that their client "remains committed to steadfastly supporting Ms Spears in every way she can within the scope of her duties as a conservator of the person. Ms Spears as recently as yesterday has asked Ms Montgomery to continue to serve. Ms Montgomery will continue to serve as a conservator for as long as Ms Spears and the court desire her to do so".

It remains to be seen how the judge overseeing the conservatorship now responds to the various requests to resign.

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Stream-ripper hits back at court order over user-data
The Russian operator of stream-ripping sites FLVTO and 2conv has hit back at a court order regarding the storing and sharing of user data which was issued last month as part of his ongoing legal battle with the major record companies in the US.

He argues that the court order will result in him incurring thousands of dollars in new costs, while also putting him at risk of violating data protection laws in some countries and his users at risk of having records of their online activity seized by the Russian government.

Stream-ripping sites – which turn temporary streams, often YouTube streams, into permanent downloads – have been the music industry’s top piracy gripe for years now, of course.

The labels have filed or threatened legal action against may such sites, most of which have gone offline in response. However, the owners of some streams-ripping platforms have stood their ground, including FLVTO and 2conv operator Tofig Kurbanov.

He is currently fighting a lawsuit filed by the American labels with the courts in Virgina. As part of that litigation, the majors recently requested access to logs from FLVTO and 2conv to identify what specific YouTube videos are having their audio ripped via the two websites, and also where the rippers are located. But Kurbanov argued that he didn’t keep any such logs and expecting him to start doing so would be "unduly burdensome".

The labels then disputed that latter claim, arguing that storing the information they wanted access to was a relatively easy task, mainly involving turning on automated server logging tools that Kurbanov had deliberately turned off.

They told the court: "In the ordinary course of operations, defendant's websites necessarily generate server data, including data that identifies: (a) the YouTube videos being stream-ripped; (b) the MP3 audio files being copied and distributed; and (c) the geographic locations of the users downloading the audio files. Respectfully, the court should order defendant to preserve and produce this key evidence".

The court respectfully did just that last month. Responding, Kurbanov has now presented another round of arguments as to why storing all that data will be a major burden, while throwing around some data protection and privacy concerns for good measure.

Not only would Kurbanov have to re-programme his websites to keep the required logs, he argues in a new legal filing, but he'd have to buy new server space to store all that data.

Just logging the YouTube links entered into his stream-rip sites, he claims, "would take up approximately 92.5 gigabytes of storage space each day which translates to about 2.7 terabytes of storage each month". Which seems like an awful lot of data. But then there's probably an awful lot of links. Either way, Kurbanov says, "this would result in thousands of dollars a year in storage charges".

And then there's the fact that 90% of his sites' users are not based in the US, but their data would have to be stored too. "Mr Kurbanov also values the privacy of the websites' users and believes that keeping and storing access logs or storing the records of the URLs that were converted could jeopardise the privacy of the websites users", the new legal filing goes on.

"Storing such information – or providing it to third-parties such as the plaintiffs - could create a host of legal concerns and liabilities in the 200+ countries where the websites are accessed - each of which has its own data privacy laws".

Plus, don't forget, Kurbanov runs his stream-ripping enterprise from Russia. "It is Mr Kurbanov's understanding that since the websites are operated from Russia, the Russian authorities might have the right to seize and inspect the websites' business records, which would include access logs and/or URL records if the websites were to maintain them", the legal filing adds.

"Mr Kurbanov reasonably fears that if any of the websites' users were to have downloaded what Russia considers to be dissident material, or material that the Russian government otherwise finds objectionable, that the Russian government could locate a website user and possibly subject that user to an unfavourable and unfair criminal or civil proceeding".

And if none of that has the count convinced, Kurbanov's lawyers argue that the judge got the law wrong when ordering that data that doesn't already exist be shared with the majors. "Ultimately, though, it is undisputed that the server data plaintiff seeks to have preserved and produced does not now 'exist', nor has it ever 'existed' in a stored form - other than as transitory, ephemeral data".

That violates the Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure, they add. Rule 34 to be precise. "Because Rule 34 does not require the creation of new information for the purpose of discovery, the [recent] order requiring the creation and storage of data is [a] legal error and must be set aside".

We await to see how the labels and the judge respond.

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Roblox signs licensing deal with Sony Music
Video game platform Roblox and good old Sony Music have signed "a strategic partnership that will bring more Sony Music recording artists into the Roblox metaverse". Which is presumably similar to the recent "strategic agreement to bring the vision of BMG to the Roblox metaverse". Look, it's a licensing deal. I don't know why they can't just say that.

Anyway, this latest deal will see the gaming platform and the major "work together to develop innovative music experiences for the Roblox community that offer a range of new commercial opportunities for Sony Music artists to reach new audiences and generate new revenue streams around virtual entertainment".

Opportunities like those already enjoyed by some Sony artists. Artists like Lil Nas X, who last year performed the first ever live virtual concert on Roblox. And artists like Zara Larsson who in May hosted a virtual launch party for her 'Poster Girl' album on the platform.

"Sony Music has been a fantastic partner and I am pleased to deepen and lengthen our relationship", says Jon Vlassopulos, Global Head Of Music at Roblox. "They truly understand the massive opportunity that the metaverse presents for their artists and we are committed to helping them unlock new creative and commercial opportunities on Roblox. We are just scratching the surface of what Roblox can deliver to the music industry and to music fans around the world".

Sony Music's President of Global Digital Business, Dennis Kooker, adds: "Sony Music artists have been at the forefront of engaging the millions of music fans in Roblox's massive user community with forward-looking initiatives like Lil Nas X's industry-first virtual performance on the platform, and Zara Larsson's recent listening party event".

"With this new agreement", he goes on, "we look forward to expanding our successful partnership with the Roblox team to further unlock commercial opportunities at the intersection of music and gaming. Immersive online environments represent a meaningful opportunity for reaching a growing number of fans who want to use virtual communities to enjoy shared music experiences".

So, hooray, everyone in the music industry loves Roblox. Except all of those music publishers who don't, of course. Back in June, the US National Music Publishers Association sued the platform for $200 million on behalf of various publishers, including Universal Music Publishing.

Roblox responded by saying that the litigation "represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Roblox platform operates". NMPA boss David Israelite hit back that "having some deals with some labels and publishers to host music events is in no way legally adequate when you operate a massive platform to which music in integral".

That litigation is ongoing.

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National Lottery and Music Venue Trust partner on £1 million grassroots touring initiative
The National Lottery has partnered with Music Venue Trust on a £1 million initiative to help revive the UK's grassroots live music sector as COVID regulations finally lift. The National Lottery's Revive Live Tour will see artists including Tom Jones, Rag N Bone Man, Mahalia, Sam Fender and Fontaines DC play in small venues around the country.

As part of the project, The National Lottery will underwrite the touring and production costs of over 300 live performances this summer. Around half of the tickets made available for the shows will be given away to players of the lottery and its scratchcards, while the rest will be put on sale.

"Musicians can record in their bedrooms, but they can't learn to perform in public without a place to play", says Tom Jones. "Without that, there is no way you can communicate directly to people. It’ll be tough to hone your skills and you'll never have the thrill of feeling their feedback. Without a grassroots music venue, the neighbourhood won't have a place where people can come together to discover and support a new talent".

"So, support your local pub, club, gym or church or wherever someone has the guts to bring in some entertainment, it makes all the difference both to budding artists and the community", he goes on. "I'm delighted to be able to perform a special show as part of The National Lottery's Revive Live Tour and to be celebrating the return of live music".

Chief Executive of National Lottery operator Camelot, Nigel Railton, adds: "The National Lottery is very excited to be working with Music Venue Trust in what we believe is a truly ground-breaking initiative. The last year has been incredibly challenging for many industries and we hope The National Lottery's Revive Live Tour will help kick start the return of grassroots live music".

"With every ticket having a built in plus-one", he goes on, "we hope The National Lottery can bring friends back together this summer to once again share the experiences we've all missed, while thanking players for the amazing things they make happen just by buying a ticket".

Meanwhile, CEO of Music Venue Trust Mark Dayvd says: "It's so important to get artists and crew back out and working, to get our grassroots music venues back up and running, and to get friends, families and communities back together enjoying live music".

"Grassroots music venues play a crucial role in the development of British music, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and their performance skills", he continues. "These venues also play a vital role in the cultural and economic vibrancy of any village, town or city. The National Lottery's Revive Live Tour is a fantastic initiative which will kickstart the return of great events across the country. We can't wait to get started!"

Tickets for the Revive Live Tour will go on sale on 12 Jul at 8pm. Find out more about the whole initiative here.

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Capital Dance expands its schedule
Global's dance music centric digital radio station Capital Dance - which it launched last October - has added two new shows to its schedule. A new five-days-a-week afternoon show was added this week presented by KG, aka Karen Nyame, while this Sunday a new late afternoon show will be launched fronted by Jess Bays.

Confirming her new gig, Bays says: "I am so excited to be joining Capital Dance, I don't even think the word gassed comes close to describing how I feel. Capital is something I've listened to since I was a kid, so to now be joining the family is just nuts. Being out of clubs for so long has given me a new lease of life to bring music to the dance community and I'm looking forward to bringing 'Sunday Funday' to Capital Dance – Sundays are usually when some people want to wind down, but not on this station! We're going to be bringing the energy, getting ready for the week!"

While KG adds: "I'm just so ecstatic to be joining a growing station and to be part of the Capital brand. It's a big dream of mine to be on national radio, so for it to finally happen after putting in so much work, it's just a dream come true. You can expect high energy, vibes, loads of big tracks, fun and excitement. I can't wait to be a part of our growing Capital Dance community and be on air five days a week!"

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Fanbase Builder Programme: Meet The Artists
CMU's Pathways Into Music Foundation has teamed up with Help Musicians to run a Fanbase Builder Programme in Northern Ireland. Fifteen artists have been selected who are currently attending weekly webinars on how to build a business around their music. Each of them will soon devise and deliver a fanbase building campaign, benefiting from a bursary from Help Musicians.

As part of the programme, each artist has been encouraged to write a 50 word pitch introducing themselves and their current projects, and we'll be featuring those pitches here in the CMU Daily to introduce everyone taking part. Kicking off with Sarah Toner and Search Party.

SARAH TONER (pictured)
Irish singer-songwriter Sarah Toner seamlessly blends unshielded lyrics with her rich and raw vocals creating an indie folk style that isn't pastiche. With her debut single set for release at the end of August, you'll notice that vulnerability and boundary pushing are the centre points of the world Sarah has been secretly creating over the past year. For fans of: Julia Jacklin/Big Thief. Check out more here.

SEARCH PARTY
Search Party hail from the not so sunny land of Belfast. After releasing their debut album 'Too Much Red Tape' in 2019, they embarked on an Irish tour, bringing the energy to venues across the country. Emerging from COVID, they plan to release a new indie-pop EP in late 2021. Check out more here.
 

Hayden Thorpe announces second solo album
Former Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe has announced that he will release his second solo album, 'Moondust For My Diamond', this autumn. Wanna know what he's going for sound-wise this time? Well, he's also released the album's first single, 'The Universe Is Always Right'.

The album, he says, was inspired by "the meeting point between science and religion, the grand struggle for reality that shapes so much of our time. What about nature? What about the cosmos? What about all these things that break through the tyranny of the self? Our sense organs bring the world inside of us after all, I just had to sing it back out. I was enchanted again with the mystery of science and how I might speak from the heart in an age where metric is gospel".

So there you go. The album will be out on 15 Oct, and Thorpe will preview some of his new material at two live shows the same month. He'll play the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal on 9 Oct and Chats Palace in London on 15 Oct. He'll also be supporting Jon Hopkins on tour in November.

Watch the video for 'The Universe Is Always Right' here

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DEALS

Sentric Music's Black Rock division has entered into a co-publishing partnership with Electric Ibiza, the Ibiza-based events and management company that now has a music publishing division. "When the opportunity arose to work with Electric Ibiza, it was a no brainer – they're perfectly positioned in Ibiza with a global reach", says Sentric Music Group's Director Of Electronic Music, Mark Lawrence. "To already see names like Seb Zito, Ninetoes and Sidney Charles coming on board through the partnership really sets the tone of what is to come".

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APPOINTMENTS

US agent Brent Smith, who left WME after two decades, is joining the new Wasserman Music agency. "We have come to know Brent as a smart, genuine, professional team player who always puts clients first and is ready to embrace the Wasserman value system and culture", says CEO Casey Wasserman.

Italian music company Artist First has hired London-based Charlie Rapino as VP International & Communications. The firm is "incredibly ambitious and eager to build a presence in the international marketplace", he says, "so it is an absolute privilege to be taking on this new role and to be part of this exciting new chapter in their story".

Rani Hancock is heading to Sony's Columbia label in the US as EVP and Head Of A&R, after four years at Warner's Sire. According to Variety, she will start the new role officially on 1 Aug.

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RELEASES

Damon Albarn has released new single 'Polaris'. His new solo album, 'The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows', is out on 12 Nov.

Sam Feldt and Sam Fischer have released the video for their single 'Pick Me Up'.

Enter Shikari will release live film 'Live At Vada' on 16 Jul, recorded recently at Vada Studios. Frontman Rou Reynolds will release his new book, 'A Treatise On Possibility', the same day. The band have also announced four intimate shows in Exeter, Northampton, Brighton and Bexhill in November as warm-ups for their December tour dates.

Koreless has released new single 'White Picket Fence'. His debut album, 'Agor', is out this Friday.

Park Hye Jin has announced that she will release her debut album, 'Before I Die', on 10 Sep. Here's new track 'Let's Sing, Let's Dance'.

Dot Allison has released new single 'One Love'. Her new album, 'Heart Sharped Scars', is out on 30 Jul.

The Golden Dregs have released new single 'John'. They've also announced that they will play The Windmill in Brixton on 27 Jul.

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GIGS & TOURS

Anne-Marie will play a livestream show on 7 Aug, following the release of her new album, 'Therapy' later this month. "I cannot wait to [put on] a very special performance of my new album 'Therapy' for you all", she says. "I've missed performing so much and this is the closest thing we are going to get at the moment! I can’t wait". Tickets go on general sale on Friday.

Royal Blood have announced four intimate shows in Bristol, Newcastle, Norwich and Hastings in July and August, as warm-ups for their Tramlines and Victorious Festival sets. Tickets will go on general sale on 9 Jul.

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

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Zoe Ball took voluntary £380,000 pay cut when renegotiating her new Radio 2 deal
Zoe Ball took a voluntary pay cut of £380,000 when agreeing her most recent deal with the BBC as host of the Radio 2 breakfast show, reckoning that her previous pay packet was unjustifiable in the midst of the COVID pandemic. But before you organise a whip-round to help Ball keep food on the table, she's still on £980,000 a year, so I wouldn't worry too much. That makes her the Beeb's second highest paid employee behind Gary Lineker, who's on £1.36 million.

We know this because the BBC, of course, is obliged to publish information on how much of the TV licence fee it spends on its highest paid on-air talent and behind-the-scenes executives. If you're interested, Radio 2's afternoon host Steve Wright is in third place on a mere £465,000.

If you're wondering why two Radio 2 presenters are in the top three, that's partly because it's the most listened to radio station in the UK, boasting many of the British radio sector's biggest shows in audience terms.

Although it's also because the BBC circumvents the rules with its biggest telly programmes, which are produced by its commercial arm and therefore not subject to the transparency rules on what it pays its actors and hosts. Therefore the published list of highest paid on-air talent tends to be made up mainly of people involved in the BBC's news and sport output, and its radio stations.

While Ball's breakfast show is still the most listened to radio show in the UK - with over eight million listeners - she has never quite pulled in the size of audience enjoyed by her predecessor in the job, Chris Evans. Well, that's the assumption. We've not had any new official radio listening figures during COVID. Maybe she now has an audience of eight billion. Or eight.

Unveiling the latest pay packet figures, BBC boss Tim Davie - who himself is on £525,000 a year - was keen to talk up all the new economies he is introducing at the BBC, presumably to placate the broadcaster's always vocal critics within the political community. What with those critics enjoying more influence in the current political climate in the UK.

He told reporters: "The BBC is responding to global competition and pressure on our finances. But, we know we must do much more to ensure licence fee payers across the UK get best value from the BBC, to maintain their trust and provide a service they cannot do without. I am absolutely focussed on making the reforms we need to ensure the BBC is positioned to offer all audiences the best possible service well into the future".

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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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