TODAY'S TOP STORY: A Spanish judge has said that there is "sufficient evidence" for Shakira to face trial in the country for alleged tax evasion, meaning the case against the musician being pursued by Spain's tax authorities will proceed... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Shakira can face trial over allegations of tax evasion in Spain, judge confirms
LEGAL Britney Spears' doctors support removal of her father from conservatorship, new court filing claims
Now film companies sue an American ISP over its lacklustre repeat infringer policy
DEALS Management firm allies with Universal's Virgin services division on new label
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Reservoir completes SPAC transaction, now listed on Nasdaq
ARTIST NEWS Stormzy expands Cambridge University scholarship scheme
ONE LINERS Badshah, Skepta, Nas, more
AND FINALLY... Saweetie is the latest musician to share her favourite McDonald's meal
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Shakira can face trial over allegations of tax evasion in Spain, judge confirms
A Spanish judge has said that there is "sufficient evidence" for Shakira to face trial in the country for alleged tax evasion, meaning the case against the musician being pursued by Spain's tax authorities will proceed.

It first emerged that those authorities were investigating Shakira over allegations of tax evasion back in early 2018. The case relates to a dispute over where Shakira was primarily based between 2012 and 2014.

The Colombian pop star, who is married to Barcelona football player Gerard Piqué, became a full resident, and therefore tax payer, of Spain in 2015. However, Spanish authorities believe that she was also a resident of the country between 2012 and 2014 - despite actually registering her residence in the Bahamas - and therefore should have been paying tax on her worldwide earnings in the country during this time too.

Anyone who spends more than six months of a year in Spain is considered liable for tax in the country. It is argued that Shakira spent most of her time in Spain during the years in question, only travelling abroad for brief periods.

The tax authorities formally pressed charges against Shakira in December 2018, however it was confirmed at the time that a judge would have to consider the case to decide whether the musician should actually stand trial. It's that consideration that is now complete.

Shakira's legal reps have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying that the singer's finances have been managed entirely legally and properly. In 2019 the musician herself formally denied the tax evasion charges, with a PR rep adding that she had paid all the monies owed.

If the musician was ultimately found guilty of tax evasion she could face both a fine and even prison time, although the judge could waive the latter if any proposed sentence was less than two years, given it would be her first offence.

Responding to the latest development in the case, Shakira's rep told Reuters that this was the expected next step in the legal process, and that the musician and her legal team "remain confident and fully cooperative with the judiciary and will not comment further".


Britney Spears' doctors support removal of her father from conservatorship, new court filing claims
The conservator of Britney Spears' personal affairs, Jodi Montgomery, has backed moves to have the singer's father removed from his position overseeing his daughter's estate. In a legal filing, Montgomery also claims that Spears' doctors agree that this is the best course of action.

Earlier this week, Britney's new attorney Mathew Rosengart filed a request to remove Jamie Spears from the conservatorship that has run his client's financial and personal affairs since 2008. It is proposed that Spears Senior be replaced by accountant Jason Rubin.

In her new filing, according to The Blast, Montgomery states: "In further support of the removal petition and appointment petition, and in her role as conservator of the person of Ms Spears, Ms Montgomery respectfully notes that Ms Spears's medical team agrees that it is not in the best interest of the conservatee for Mr Spears to be and remain conservator of the estate".

The filing also says that Montgomery believes that Rubin is the right person to take control of the singer's $60 million estate.

Rosengart, of course, recently took over from Sam Ingham, the attorney appointed to Spears by the court at the beginning of the conservatorship in 2008. He quickly moved to have Jamie Spears removed from the arrangement - which is expected to be the first step in the process of ending the conservatorship altogether.

In his filing earlier this week, Rosengart called the thirteen year conservatorship a "Kafkaesque nightmare", saying that "serious questions abound" concerning Jamie Spears' "potential misconduct" while running his daughter's affairs.


Now film companies sue an American ISP over its lacklustre repeat infringer policy
A group of American independent film producers - many of them affiliates of Millennium Media - have filed a lawsuit against US internet service provider Wide Open West - or WOW! if you prefer - accusing the net firm of not properly dealing with repeat infringers among its user base. As a result, the film companies argue, WOW! should be held liable for those users' copyright infringement.

So, basically, it's another American ISP being accused of operating shoddy systems for dealing with infringement and infringers on its networks, sufficiently so that - the plaintiffs argue - it should not be able to rely on safe harbour protection from liability for its users' infringing ways. Since BMG successfully sued Cox Communications on this issue, a plethora of ISPs have been targeted with similar legal action, albeit usually by music rather than movie companies.

There are a couple of other interesting things in the WOW! targeting lawsuit, beyond the novelty of it being pursued by film producers rather than record labels. First in relation to some of the evidence it presents, and second regarding the plaintiffs' demands.

In all the previous label-led lawsuits of this kind the ISPs have argued - mainly unsuccessfully - that they can't trust the takedown notices submitted by copyright owners and their anti-piracy agents. Which means just because a flurry of takedowns have been submitted in relation to one user, that doesn't mean they should automatically sanction or disconnect that user, because a takedown notice is not in itself evidence of infringement.

In the new legal filing, the movie producers actually include an affidavit from the operator of the popular BitTorrent service YTS, who has reached various legal settlements with different film companies in the past. That affidavit confirms that a number of WOW! customers downloaded unlicensed movies via the BitTorrent site.

In terms of the demands made by the film firms, they obviously want WOW! to lose its safe harbour protection and then pay damages to the copyright owners for all the movies that have been specifically identified as being illegally accessed by the ISP's customers.

However, they also have a couple of other demands. Firstly, that WOW! introduce a strict three strikes policy to deal with repeat infringers moving forward. The court, they say, should "order defendant to adopt a policy that provides for the prompt termination of subscribers for which defendant receives more than three unique notices of infringements of copyright protected works within 72 hours".

Not only that, but they'd like some web-blocking too. The court should also, they add, "order defendant to block subscribers from accessing notorious piracy websites of foreign origin that are listed in the annual trade report of Notorious Foreign Markets published by the United States government on all networks under its control to prevent further pirating of plaintiffs' works via the BitTorrent protocol".

While web-blocking has become a common anti-piracy tactic around the world - with record labels and movie studios routinely getting court orders that force ISPs to block access to piracy sites - in the US such web-blocks have not been embraced, because when Congress considered such proposals all the way back in 2011/2012 the tech sector went into lobbying over-drive and got all such plans deleted.

However, the music and movies industries would like to see web-blocking become as common in the US as in countries like the UK, and it will be interesting to see how the judge responds to this particular request in the WOW! case.


Management firm allies with Universal's Virgin services division on new label
US management firm Range Media Partners has announced a partnership with Universal Music's Virgin label services business, which will provide distribution and other services to a new label being launched within the management group called Range Music.

Range Media was launched last year by an assortment of agents working in music, TV and film who had previously been with some of the big talent agencies like CAA, UTA and WME, but who had departed those agencies during the COVID shutdown.

Confirming the launch of a label within the group, Matt Graham - one of the Managing Partners of the firm's music division - said: "Range Media Partners is a home for creators and managers alike. As a collective of experienced managers who came from across the industry's best companies, we benefit from a diversity of ideas, tastes and relationships that help to create a tremendous multiplier effect for our management clients and any artists that we partner with at our new Range Music label. We endeavour to provide a safe harbour for artists and managers to grow and take advantage of our ample resources across the entire entertainment landscape".

Range Media says that the new label - and the Virgin Music Artist & Label Services alliance - will "not only offer new resources and opportunities to Range Media Partners' music clients, but [also] to developing artists that the companies' managers are passionate about helping mentor, as well as offering further synergistic support to the talent across their film and TV departments".

In the US, the Virgin label services business sits within Universal's Capitol Music Group division. Confirming the deal from its side, CMG's CEO and COO, Jeff Vaughn and Michelle Jubelirer, said in a joint statement: "We are excited to be partnering with the great executive talent at Range Media Partners on our new venture, Range Music, that will be devoted to artist development and utilise the best of Virgin and Capitol to achieve our goals".

Range Media's current music roster includes Justin Tranter, Wale, PartyNextDoor, Max, WondaGurl, Jack Harlow, D Smoke and - as of last month - Mariah Carey.


Reservoir completes SPAC transaction, now listed on Nasdaq
Reservoir has completed its merger with the special purpose acquisition company Roth CH Acquisition II Co, which means the independent music firm is now a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York.

It announced yesterday: "Reservoir Media Inc today announced the closing of its previously announced business combination with Roth CH Acquisition II Co (ROCC), a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company formed by Roth Capital Partners and Craig-Hallum Capital Group. Reservoir also announced the closing of its previously announced common stock PIPE of $150 million. The business combination was approved by ROCC’s stockholders at a special meeting of stockholders held on 27 Jul 2021".

The merger with ROCC was first announced back in April. Special purpose acquisition companies - aka SPACs or blank cheque companies - are businesses with no active operations that raise money via a stock exchange with a view to buying another company. Through that acquisition the acquired company gets something of a back door stock market listing.

Reservoir will continue to be led by its founder Golnar Khosrowshahi, who said yesterday: "We are so happy with the result of the stockholder meeting and to close the business combination today. This represents an important milestone for our company as we become the first US-based publicly traded independent music company and the first female founded and led publicly traded music company in the US".

“Over the last fourteen years", she added, "the Reservoir team has excelled at enhancing the value of our copyrights and recordings, while building a diverse and high-quality catalogue and growing our roster. Our tremendous passion and skills have driven Reservoir to hold a regular top ten US market share as reported by Billboard".

"This entry into the public markets is a testament to the growth and bright future that lies ahead within the industry. As we focus on our growth, our listing on Nasdaq provides us the resources to execute on our penetration into emerging markets and continue rapidly with our strategic acquisitions. I look forward to our next chapter as a publicly traded company".

Reservoir has been quite acquisitive itself over the years, of course, and has continued to grow through acquisition in recent times. Last month it bought indie label Tommy Boy and earlier this week it confirmed it had taken a minority stake in Outdustry, the music agency with expertise in emerging markets like China and India.


Playlists: Brand New On CMU and CMU Approved
As well as rounding up all manner of exciting new music every day in the CMU Daily and on our website, we also curate all the music we cover into playlists on Spotify. You can see the full range on offer on our profile page on the streaming service, but here are the two key playlists that we update weekly…

Brand New On CMU
Every Friday, we take all the new music we've covered over the course of that week and put it all in this playlist. Always an eclectic mix, it brings in the latest from a broad range of genres, and is a great way to stay up to date with what’s happening in contemporary music. This week’s playlist includes Skepta, Aluna, Angel Olsen, MØ, The Hidden Cameras, Bleachers, Jungle, The Lottery Winners, Sleigh Bells, St Etienne and more. Listen here.

CMU Approved
Every Tuesday and Thursday we publish our new music column CMU Approved, introducing a new or emerging artist who we think you should know about. In this accompanying playlist, you can keep track of all the latest acts that have been approved - including this week's artists, Foxlee and Rachika Nayar. You can delve way back into the archives too, with the playlist stretching all the way back to 2014. Listen here.

Stormzy expands Cambridge University scholarship scheme
Stormzy has expanded his Cambridge University scholarship scheme by teaming up with HSBC. He will now provide a £20,000 annual scholarship for ten new black and mixed race students a year for the next three years.

"For 30 more black students to have the opportunity to study at Cambridge University - the same year our initial 2018 scholars graduate - feels like an incredible milestone", says the rapper.

Cambridge University's Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Graham Virgo, adds: "Since the Stormzy Scholarships were announced in 2018 we have seen a significant increase in the number of black students applying to study here and being admitted, and we are very proud to see the first two students supported by the scheme graduate this year".

As I think someone might have mentioned, the scholarship was launched in 2018. Initially, supporting four students through their undergraduate study - two a year for two years - Stormzy covered the costs of the programme himself. The scheme will now run as a partnership between the rapper's #Merky Foundation charity and HSBC, with the final intake graduating in 2025.

As also noted by Virgo, the first two students to benefit from the scholarship recently graduated, both with 2:1 degrees. And Cambridge University has also seen an increase in the number of black and ethnic minority students applying since the launch of the programme, which has been dubbed "the Stormzy effect".



Universal Music has signed Indian rapper Badshah. "I am super excited for this new episode in my life", he says. "It's time for Indian music to enter the global soundscape and we are standing at a revolutionary juncture for the entire music scene. Indian culture has music in its blood, from its melodies to its instruments".



Universal Music's Mercury Studios has appointed Steve Condie as SVP of Content. "Steve is a truly exceptional creative leader", says CEO Alice Webb. "His ambition, vision and limitless energy for ingenious storytelling make him the perfect fit for Mercury Studios".

Kobalt has promoted Stephanie Cox to General Manager of its Nashville office and Jesse Willoughby to SVP Business Development of the wider company. "I'm incredibly proud", says Willoughby. "I am THRILLED", says Cox.



ITV has confirmed rumours that the UK version of 'The X Factor' has been cancelled. Actually, the broadcaster said that "there are no current plans for the next series of 'The X Factor' at this stage". The show hasn't been on in its standard format since 2018 though - and some novelty spin-offs in 2019 didn't really go anywhere - so I'm not sure this is a massive surprise.



Skepta has released new EP 'All In'. Here's the video for the J Balvin-featuring track 'Nirvana'.

Nas has announced that he will release new album 'King's Disease II' on 6 Aug through his Mass Appeal label.

Aluna and Punctual have released a single together, titled 'Summer Of Love'. "In the summer of 2020 we wanted to feel like we were gonna change everything", says Aluna. "We also felt crushed at the same time and the first thing we needed was love from the person closest to us or just from ourselves to keep going. The summer of love. 2021 has this feeling of a darkness lifting and I just wanted to capture that".

Angel Olsen has released another track from her upcoming 80s covers EP, this time her version of 'Safety Dance' by Men With Hats. "I felt this song could be reinterpreted to be about this time of quarantine and the fear of being around anyone or having too much fun", she says. "It made me wonder, is it safe to laugh or dance or be free of it all for just a moment?"

has released new single 'Kindness'. "I wrote it at a time when I was feeling, like a lot of people, disconnected from the physical world", she says. "I wrote the first demo in Copenhagen on a beat by my friend Yangze. Ariel Rechtshaid then joined the process and, working online and across time zones, we made this song take shape".

The Hidden Cameras have released their first single for five years, 'Redemption'. "The summer of 2021 will be known as the summer of hope and promise of redemption", says frontman Joel Gibb. "This new one-off single provides the translation of this current collective emotion. Play it loud".

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


Saweetie is the latest musician to share her favourite McDonald's meal
McDonald's has announced its latest celebrity meal, following on from collaborations with Travis Scott, J Balvin and BTS. Next up is Saweetie.

Now, the big question with any brand partnership like this is: are these meals really what these artists eat when they go to McDonald's? I mean, it seemed a bit of a stretch to say that all seven members of BTS have the same favourite McDonald's meal. Though, in the case of Saweetie, this has to be what she personally likes, because not even the sickest marketing exec would make this up.

At first look, it all seems pretty ordinary: a Big Mac, four Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, medium Sprite, Tangy BBQ Sauce and Saweetie N Sour sauce. What's Saweetie N Sour sauce? It's just ordinary Sweet N Sour sauce.

From here it gets complicated. Or not, depending on how you look at it. Apparently once Saweetie's ordered her favourite meal and sat down with it, she doesn't just get on and eat it, and then settle into the crushing disappointment everyone feels after eating at McDonald's. No ,she likes to play with it all for a while.

When Saweetie does this, she probably does so in a fairly absent-minded way. When you do it, however, there are strict rules to follow. Albeit with some options. McDonald's offers four possible ways you might like to "remix" your meal, in order to be like the singer.

First, "fries can be more than a side" - take your fries, dump them on top of your Big Mac. Second, "if it's a dip, it's also a topping" - take one of your dips, dump it on top of your McNuggets. Third, "anything can be a sandwich" - take the bun off your Big Mac and stick your McNuggets in it. Fourth, "seriously, anything" - take your tray, throw it all in the air. Or just eat the food, whatever.

Anyway, the point is, Saweetie likes to try to make a McDonald's meal seem more exciting by changing it around. Maybe that would work for you too. But because you're not a celebrity, you've probably never thought of this, and need help understanding how that might work.

"McDonald's and I run deep - from growing up back in Hayward, California, all through my college days - so I had to bring my icy gang in on my all-time favourites", says Saweetie, referencing her preferred name for her fans. "Depending on the mood I'm in, there are so many ways to enjoy my order. I like to keep things fresh - I know that's right".

McDonald's USA Chief Marketing And Digital Customer Experience Officer, Morgan Flatley, adds: "We're THRILLED to team up with Saweetie, a true brand fan who puts her own spin on everything she touches across music, fashion, beauty and culture. And now she's brought that spark and creativity to her signature McDonald's order by celebrating her love for our food and passion for mixing things up".

I mean, she put some chicken in some bread, I don't think she's about to get a Michelin star. Anyway, if you're in the US, you'll be able to get this meal from 9 Aug.


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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