TODAY'S TOP STORY: The first of R Kelly's long-awaited trials over allegations of sexual abuse is now formally underway, with the jury selection process beginning yesterday. Though opening statements in the New York case are not expected to actually begin until 18 Aug as a result of the Kelly side needing more time to prepare following the departure of two of his lawyers from his legal team back in June... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Jury selection underway in R Kelly's New York trial
LEGAL Judge declines to bring forward hearing on request to remove Britney Spear's father from conservatorship role
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES NetEase music IPO likely to be paused because of market uncertainty
Townsend Music expands service offering with D2C Plus
MEDIA Bauer further expands radio operations with deals in Slovakia
Global buys local radio company Quidem
AWARDS Ivors nominations announced
AND FINALLY... British Sea Power change name to avoid any confusion with nationalism
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Jury selection underway in R Kelly's New York trial
The first of R Kelly's long-awaited trials over allegations of sexual abuse is now formally underway, with the jury selection process beginning yesterday. Though opening statements in the New York case are not expected to actually begin until 18 Aug as a result of the Kelly side needing more time to prepare following the departure of two of his lawyers from his legal team back in June.

Kelly has been awaiting trial in jail for more than two years. A stack of charges for sexual abuse, including against minors, and other alleged crimes were filed against the musician in July 2019 in multiple US states, following various investigations which were in turn prompted by the 'Surviving R Kelly' documentary series that aired in January that year.

There had been rumours and allegations against Kelly for years which were widely known within the music industry, not least because of the regular coverage of those rumours and allegations by the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. However, at a previous trial in relation to allegations of sexual abuse against a minor in 2008 he was acquitted. But, in the wake of 'Surviving R Kelly', many more alleged victims came forward.

Given Kelly's high profile - and the extensive coverage of the criminal case against him over the last two years - selecting a jury for his trails is in itself quite a task. As that process got underway in New York yesterday, judge Ann Donnelly reminded the court of her previous ruling that jury members in this case will remain anonymous. They will also be accompanied to the courthouse each day by US Marshalls, she added.

According to the Associated Press, Donnelly then questioned potential jurors regarding their ability to keep an open mind given the media coverage of the allegations to date, stressing that they must not allow themselves to influenced by the bad publicity Kelly has received in recent years, and that they must always remember that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. She then asked each potential juror about their hobbies, careers, experiences with law enforcement, and views on same-sex relationships.

Eighteen jurors will be selected for the trial, include six reserve members. Once it is finally underway, the trial itself is expected to run for about four weeks.

Kelly, who was moved from a Chicago prison to a New York jail back in June ahead of the trial, was in court yesterday with his legal team. That included new additions Devereaux Leon Cannick and Calvin Scholar, who have replaced Michael Leonard and Steve Greenberg, both of whom quit the case in June, seemingly because of tensions between the different attorneys on the team.

Last week Cannick gave some indication of the impact the jail time has had on Kelly, telling the judge that his client needed to be measured for new clothing for the trial, because he's gained so much weight while incarcerated. He also asked that court transcripts be provided at no cost because, having been unable to work for two years, Kelly's "funds are depleted".


Judge declines to bring forward hearing on request to remove Britney Spear's father from conservatorship role
A request by Britney Spears' new lawyer to move forward a hearing regarding his client's latest attempt to remove her father from his role as her conservator has been rejected by the court. As a result, that hearing is still currently scheduled for 29 Sep.

Attorney Mathew Rosengart wasted no time at all after being hired by Spears last month in filing the paperwork that requests Jamie Spears no longer be the conservator in charge of his daughter's finances.

The lawyer also told the court that "serious questions abound" concerning Spears Senior's "potential misconduct" while running the conservatorship that has controlled his daughter's personal and financial affairs for thirteen years.

Jamie Spears himself hit back last week, telling the court that Rosengart "does not - and cannot - specify what the wrongdoing is" that justifies having him removed from his conservator role.

But Rosengart insists that Spears Senior should no longer have any formal involvement in his daughter's affairs. And not only that, but that Jamie Spears should be replaced as Britney's conservator of the estate by accountant Jason Rubin as soon as possible.

In his request to the court seeking a hearing on this matter later this month, rather than at the end of next month, Rosengart said that "every day matters".

According to Variety, Rosengart's legal filing last week also stated that Spears Senior is "dissipating" his daughter's multi-million fortune, while adding "a conservatorship should be a last resort, designed to benefit the conservatee rather than a mechanism designed to serve as a tool for the enrichment of third parties".

However, despite all that, the judge overseeing the case has declined to reschedule the hearing regarding the removal of Jamie Spears from the conservatorship, meaning that request will not now be considered until 29 Sep.


NetEase music IPO likely to be paused because of market uncertainty
Plans by Chinese web giant NetEase to spin off its music division as a standalone publicly listed business are likely to be temporarily paused because of current market uncertainty around shares in China's big tech companies.

NetEase - the second biggest player in digital music in China - announced plans to spin off its music division earlier this year, and confirmed at the start of the month that its planned Initial Public Offering of that division had been approved by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

However, according to Reuters, the internet company isn't now rushing to get the IPO done. A planned launch of said IPO this week has been pushed back because - according to sources who spoke to the newswire - of the current uncertainties faced by China's tech companies as a result of the ongoing crackdown by the country's competition regulator.

China's State Administration Of Market Regulation has been busy scrutinising the operations and deals of the country's big tech firms in recent months, instigating various fines against various companies, in particular in relation to past mergers and acquisitions which, is says, did not comply with the relevant laws.

Within music specifically, NetEase could actually be a winner as a result of that crackdown, given that one of the outcomes has been its main rival in music, Tencent, being forced to end most of its exclusivity deals with rights-owners.

However, more generally the crackdown has created uncertainty and therefore caution among investment types when it comes to Chinese tech stock. And reports suggest that the gaming sector could be next in line for SAMR scrutiny, and that's a key area of activity for the main NetEase company.

All of which, it seems, has convinced NetEase management that now is not the best time to proceed with the IPO of its music business, which seems likely to be postponed until there are better market conditions. Though NetEase itself is yet to comment on these reports.


Townsend Music expands service offering with D2C Plus
Direct-to-fan business Townsend Music has announced the launch of a new service called D2C Plus which will see the company get more proactively involved in the release, merchandise and direct-to-fan activities of some of its clients, from concept to delivery.

The company says that, under the D2C Plus banner, it will now offer select artist clients "a wide range of services including finance, creative development, product curation, campaign management, design, manufacturing, digital and physical marketing".

The new service builds on recent projects at the company, including the release of deluxe edition vinyl live albums with artists like Shed Seven, James, Bryan Ferry, Embrace and Supergrass, and the publication of a 'coffee table book' with Suede.

The manager of the new service, Paul Barton, says: "Our aim with D2C Plus is to give artists a new and exciting way to bring products to market. That product could be a studio album, live album, catalogue release, merch line or even a book. Our expertise stretches across all of these product types and the various components needed to release them successfully".

"Combine that with our vast knowledge of D2C and music fan buying habits and we feel we have a strong and helpful offer to artists", he goes on. "Our motto is quality over quantity. There's every chance we'll release more books than studio albums, more live albums than merch, and vice versa - it will all depend on the quality of the project and whether we can bring value on a case-by-case basis".

Townsend Music Sales Director Bruce McKenzie adds: "This is a natural evolution for our company. During lockdown, many of our D2C clients approached us for help with releasing new products to generate revenue when touring was off the table. We successfully took a number of live albums from conception to market, and then found other clients were looking for extra levels of support such as management and business strategy".

"I've always seen Townsend as an A&R driven business", he continues. "With the recent arrival of Paul Barton and Ben James, alongside our Business Development Manager Lucas Barr and Head Of Digital Barney, we're able to help our D2C clients with more aspects of their careers, or sign developing artists to launch their initial releases, bringing in appropriate labels, distributors, managers and publishers along the way".


Bauer further expands radio operations with deals in Slovakia
Bauer Media has further expanded its European radio business with new deals to buy two national radio stations in Slovakia, Rádio Jemné and Europa 2. The company already has a presence in the market via another station it owns, Rádio Expres.

The Bauer company has been busy growing its radio business across Europe through acquisition in recent years, of course. In March it expanded its operations in Finland through the purchase of Mediatakojat, while in February it announced that it was moving into the Irish market for the first time via the acquisition of Communicorp.

On the latest deals, Paul Keenan, President of Bauer Media Audio, said: "Slovakia is an important market for us and is forecasted to grow strongly in the medium term. This transaction presents an ideal opportunity to grow our operations in the country. Radio Jemné and Europa 2 are successful stations with loyal audiences and perfectly complement Rádio Expres".

"The move will enable us to attract new listeners, introduce exciting audio innovations and provide an even stronger offer to advertisers", he added. "We are very much looking forward to working with the talented teams from Rádio Jemné and Europa 2".

Bauer says that its radio division now reaches over 57 million listeners across Europe each week in eight different countries.


Global buys local radio company Quidem
Media firm Global has bought another local radio company in England, though this acquisition is unlikely to be that noticeable on-air given the acquired company was already mainly airing programming produced by its new owner.

Global entered into a licensing deal with Midlands-based Quidem back in 2019. That meant that the frequencies previously used by Quidem-owned local radio stations Touch FM, Banbury Sound and Rugby FM all became new outposts for Global's Capital FM network.

Quidem was still responsible for the commercial and sales side of the stations, but the programming mainly came from Global's London-base, albeit with a localised drive time show.

However, Global will now own and operate those stations out-right. The media firm confirmed the purchase of Quidem to Radio Today, stating: "We can confirm the acquisition and are pleased to be welcoming Quidem to the Global family".

Radio Today notes that, under its licences from media regulator OfCom, Global will not be obliged to continue making a localised drive time show for the former Quidem frequencies, and could instead have a single programme in that time slot across central England. Though it's not yet clear if that will happen.


Ivors nominations announced
The shortlists for this year's Ivors Awards from The Ivors Academy are out. And if you don't believe me, well, you're going to feel like a fool when you scroll down and see all the shortlists I've lovingly collated and formatted for you.

And if you won't believe me, maybe you'll listen to Shaznay Lewis, Chair of the Ivors Awards Committee, who says: "Over the last year we've felt the power of songwriting and the stories told through music. The Ivors are so important because they celebrate where all the music begins - with songwriters and composers".

"The judges have chosen a selection of exceptional music that moves, unites and inspires us", she adds. "Congratulations to all our nominees, and I'm really delighted that the majority are recognised with an Ivor nomination for the first time".

Here are those lists, with the nominated writers and composers included in the brackets...

Best Album
Fontaines DC - A Hero's Death (Grian Chatten, Thomas Coll, Conor Curley, Conor Deegan and Carlos O'Connell)
Lianne La Havas - Lianne La Havas (Matthew Hales and Lianne La Havas)
Pa Salieu - Send Them To Coventry (Felix Joseph, Alastair O'Donnell and Pa Salieu)
Laura Marling - Song For Our Daughter (Laura Marling)
Tom Misch + Yussef Dayes - What Kinda Music (Yussef Dayes, Tom Misch and Rocco Palladino)

Best Contemporary Song
Future Utopia feat Dave & Es Devlin - Children Of The Internet (Dave and Fraser T Smith)
Ashnikko - Daisy (Ashnikko and Slinger)
Pa Salieu feat Mahalia - Energy (Kwes Darko, Felix Joseph, Mahalia, Alastair O'Donnell and Pa Salieu)
Rachel Chinouriri- Give Me A Reason (Rachel Chinouriri and Tom Henry)
For Those I Love - Top Scheme (David Balfe)

Best Song Musically And Lyrically
Arlo Parks - Black Dog (Gianluca Buccellati and Arlo Parks)
Headie One & Fred Again - Gang (Fred Again and Headie One)
Obongjayar - God's Own Children (Barney Lister and Obongjayar)
Marina - Man's World (Marina)
Celeste - Stop This Flame (Celeste and Jamie Hartman)

PRS For Music Most Performed Work
Harry Styles - Adore You (Amy Allen, Tyler Johnson, Kid Harpoon and Harry Styles)
Lewis Capaldi - Before You Go (Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Ben Kohn and Phil Plested)
Joel Corry feat Mnek - Head & Heart (Jonathan Courtidis, Dan Dare and Robert Harvey)
Lewis Capaldi - Someone You Loved (Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Ben Kohn and Sam Roman)
Harry Styles - Watermelon Sugar (Tyler Johnson, Kid Harpoon, Mitchell Rowland and Harry Styles)

Best Original Film Score
Calm With Horses (Blanck Mass)
Four Kids And It (Anne Nikitin)
Saint Maud (Adam Janota Bzowski)
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 (Daniel Pemberton)
Two By Two: Overboard! (Craig Stuart Garfinkle and Eimear Noone)

Best Television Soundtrack
A Suitable Boy (Alex Heffes and Anoushka Shankar)
Devs (Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury and The Insects)
Dracula (David Arnold and Michael Price)
Noughts + Crosses (Matthew Herbert)
Us (Oli Julian)

Best Original Video Game Score
Ghost Of Tsushima (Ilan Eshkeri and Shigeru Umebayashi)
Little Orpheus (Jessica Curry and Jim Fowler)
Ori And The Will Of The Wisps (Gareth Coker)

Songwriter Of The Year
AJ Tracey
Celeste and Jamie Hartman
Kid Harpoon and Harry Styles


British Sea Power change name to avoid any confusion with nationalism
British Sea Power are now simply Sea Power. Which means that sentence should technically have read "Sea Power are no longer called British Sea Power". The band have changed their name alongside the announcement of a new album, explaining that they have become concerned that - when seen in isolation - their former name could be "misapprehended" as being somehow linked to the most recent rise in nationalistic politics, in the UK and elsewhere.

Explaining the original reasons for choosing British Sea Power as their name, the band write in a post on their website that there were two motivations behind the moniker.

"There was, literally, sea power - the elementary power of the oceans", they say. "Alongside this was the historical idea of 'British sea power' - Britannia ruling the waves; the naval power that once allowed Britain to dominate the world. When we came up with the original band name, Britain no longer ruled the seas. The band name was intended with a kind of wry humour. The idea of British sea power in the historical sense was an obsolete thing. It was now just the name of a rock band".

However, they go on, "in recent times there's been a rise in a certain kind of nationalism in this world - an isolationist, antagonistic nationalism that we don't want to run any risk of being confused with. It's become apparent that it's possible to misapprehend the name British Sea Power, particularly if someone isn't familiar with the band or their recordings".

"We've always been internationalist in our mindset, something made clear in songs like 'Waving Flags', an anthem to pan-European idealism. We always wanted to be an internationalist band but maybe having a specific nation state in our name wasn't the cleverest way to demonstrate that. We very much hope the band's audience won't be affronted by this adjustment to the name".

"We'd like to make it clear that removing the word 'British' does NOT indicate any aversion to the British Isles whatsoever", they then clarify. "We all feel immensely fortunate to have grown up in these islands. Several or our songs are filled with love and awe for this place. We do love these lands. We all still live within the British Isles, but we are now just Sea Power".

The band's first album as Sea Power will be 'Everything Was Forever', which is set for release on 11 Feb 2022, and which will include the single 'Two Fingers'.


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.
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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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