TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Competition & Markets Authority confirmed yesterday that it has approved the sale of the StubHub business outside of North America, which means that the competition regulator's investigation into Viagogo's purchase of the wider StubHub company is now at an end... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES UK regulator approves Viagogo's sale of StubHub outside North America
LEGAL Rihanna settles legal battle with her father
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Warner's ADA announces an executive rejig
BRANDS & MERCH Ballantine's launches dance music diversity project
Lego to launch Fender Stratocaster set

MEDIA Shaun Keaveny to host new festival-themed podcast
ONE LINERS Lana Del Rey, Eddie Vedder, TuneCore, more
AND FINALLY... Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Irving Azoff all comment on guitarist's Fleetwood Mac departure
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UK regulator approves Viagogo's sale of StubHub outside North America
The UK's Competition & Markets Authority confirmed yesterday that it has approved the sale of the StubHub business outside of North America, which means that the competition regulator's investigation into Viagogo's purchase of the wider StubHub company is now at an end.

Viagogo announced that it was buying its main rival StubHub from eBay in 2019. But by the time that deal was completed in February 2020, the UK's competition regulator was already investigating the transaction, because a combined Viagogo/StubHub would totally dominate the for-profit ticket resale business in the UK and elsewhere.

Despite arguing that Viagogo and StubHub also compete with the primary ticketing companies - so their merger didn't pose competition concerns - the former nevertheless proposed to sell off StubHub Europe to placate the regulator. Then in November last year it extended that proposal by offering to sell off all of StubHub's operations outside of North America.

That was a significant concession on Viagogo's part, although its $4 billion purchase of StubHub was mainly about securing a dominant position in the North American market where it has always been a small player.

In February this year, the CMA basically accepted that proposal. Although the regulator still had to approve whoever it was that Viagogo found to buy the StubHub business outside of North America. That buyer - now approved by the CMA - is a US investment entity called Digital Fuel Capital.

Viagogo welcomed the approval, obviously. The company's Cris Miller said yesterday: "We are pleased to confirm a buyer for StubHub International has been approved by the UK Competition & Markets Authority. This brings to an end the investigation into the much-anticipated merger of Viagogo and StubHub North America, which is now cleared to proceed".

"We appreciate the CMA's role in bringing the merger to this conclusion", he added, "and we look forward to sharing more details about the integration of the two businesses with our loyal customers and partners very soon".

"As the live events industry emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, robust competition in the ticketing market is needed more than ever and Viagogo will continue to take its' essential role in the live events industry very seriously", he then mused. "Viagogo and StubHub will always remain committed to working with regulators, while providing safe and secure platforms for people to buy and sell tickets to events all over the world".

The secondary ticketing sector has faced all the same challenges as the primary ticketing sector in the last eighteen months, of course. If anything more so, with the resale platforms being one step removed from the promoter when a show is cancelled or postponed. Meanwhile, regulation of online for-profit ticket touting continues to increase around the world, with some countries out-right banning it, while others are pushing for much more transparency about touted tickets and the touts.

Nevertheless, Digital Fuel Capital says it is "THRILLED" to have got itself into the good old touting game. Its President Carson Biederman told reporters: "We are THRILLED to become the new owners of StubHub International. After a long time and process, the teams in London, Madrid, Bilbao and Berlin will now form a new independent company. Together, we look forward to growing StubHub International as an agile and competitive ticket marketplace focused on helping fans access live experiences and transfer tickets securely".

Responding to the news, Adam Webb from the anti-ticket-touting FanFair campaign said: "Good luck to Digital Fuel Capital. For their sake, I hope they didn't pay very much. As well as reviving a distressed brand, what appears to be a team of US investment bankers with a portfolio of coffee and bathroom businesses will now be required to operate StubHub International as a direct competitor to Viagogo - a website with a long and storied history of breaking the law and that's dominated by large-scale touts and non-existent tickets. This has got car crash written all over it".


Rihanna settles legal battle with her father
Rihanna has settled a lawsuit she filed against her father ahead of a scheduled court hearing later this month, seemingly keen to avoid proceeding with the family feud in the public spotlight.

The star sued her father Ronald Fenty in January 2019 in the LA courts, accusing him of exploiting her name and brand to fraudulently generate millions of dollars. He had set up a company in 2017 called Fenty Entertainment LLC which had no formal connections to his daughter but, it was alleged, had nevertheless repeatedly claimed to represent Rihanna's professional interests.

Among the specific allegations in the 2019 lawsuit were that Fenty Senior had negotiated deals with one third-party for Rihanna to perform fifteen shows in Latin America at $1 million a gig and two short spots in LA and Las Vegas for $400,000. He had told the third-party that his daughter "loved the idea" and wanted to sign up for the shows, but in fact he'd not spoken to her about the proposed concerts, nor did he have a formal mandate to have any such conversations in the first place.

Another complaint in the legal filing was that Fenty Senior's company had tried to file an application with the US Patent & Trademark Office for protected use of the Fenty mark in relation to a planned boutique hotel venture. But, Rihanna's people claimed, that was just a ruse to make it look like Fenty Senior's company had some sort of formal affiliation with his daughter's business, she having also used her surname in various business ventures.

Past efforts to get Fenty to stop trading off his daughter's fame had failed, the lawsuit said, and therefore "judicial intervention is necessary because defendants have made clear that they have no intention of ceasing their fraudulent and infringing conduct".

However, it seems, judicial intervention may not be required. According to Radar, Rihanna has now filed papers with the court dismissing her lawsuit after a settlement was seemingly reached. The case had originally been due in court back in June but was postponed to later this month because of COVID and Rihanna being in the UK and unable to travel to LA. But now we won't get any courtroom fun times.


Warner's ADA announces an executive rejig
Warner Music's label services business ADA has, and I quote, "reimagined" its leadership structure. Though it will still be led by human beings with job titles like Head Of US and Head Of International. Which isn't very imaginative. Stick trees into the top jobs with titles like Grand Overseer Of Magnitude & Magnificence, and that would be a reimagining I could get behind.

Anyway, ADA has hired former Mass Appeal Entertainment boss Marcus Siskind as its new Head Of US, while Adriana Sein joins the Warner division from Sony Music to come Head Of International. They will both report into Cat Kreidich, who became overall President of ADA earlier this year.

"The independent music community is a vital part of Warner Music Group's global business, and this move ensures that ADA is set up to continue super-serving our label partners and artists in the long-term", saus Kreidich. "With Marcus and Adriana at the helm, we'll be organised to work even more strategically across the organisation - accelerating our global capabilities and local impact as we push full speed ahead. I am THRILLED to welcome these deeply respected, forward-thinking executives to the ADA family".

Also being welcomed to ADA in this executive rejig is Jeremy Sponder, who joins from Universal Music to become VP Of Catalogue, and Samantha Moore, who moves over from Sony's The Orchard to become Chief Of Staff. Meanwhile, Kyle Aycock has been promoted from VP to SVP of Finance, and a very fine sycamore will be the new Office Administrator.


Ballantine's launches dance music diversity project
Ballantine's Scotch whisky has announced a new initiative to improve diversity and tackle discrimination in nightclubs, both in DJ line-ups and on the dancefloor.

Part of the alcohol brand's ongoing True Music project, this follows a report it commissioned last year, titled 'Resetting The Dancefloor'. That found that one in three clubbers had experienced discrimination in clubs, while 84% had witnessed it. As clubs begin to reopen post-pandemic, it says, now is the perfect time to address this.

As part of its own efforts to make a difference, Ballantine's is launching a new fund to support emerging music collectives, and will hold its own events in partnership with Boiler Room. It has also brought in a team of advisers in the form of DJ Honey Dijon, SBTV founder Jamal Edwards, He.She.They's Sophia Kearney and Steven Braines, DJ collective Chica Gang, art collective Afrobapho, and musicians Dope Saint Jude.

"All of these things we're fighting for - diverse line-ups, diverse dancefloors - this is simply us wanting our humanity and our creativity to be considered as worthy as other people's", says Honey Dijon. "That's an expectation no one should be able to stand in the way of".

Ballantine’s Head Of Music Tom Elton adds: "The past eighteen months have seen the live music industry suffer, as lockdowns have forced fans to stay at home and repress desires to be on the dancefloor. As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, we have the opportunity to press the ‘reset’ button and club together to rebuild a music culture for everyone".

"A commitment to inclusivity is part of Ballantine's DNA - the motto 'a friend to all humankind' has been on the crest of every bottle for over 100 years - and we are committed to putting our pledges in to practice to help drive tangible change", he goes on. "We all have a part to play in the journey to creating a truly inclusive music industry and this is just the start".


Lego to launch Fender Stratocaster set
Lego is set to launch its latest music-related project next month, a 1000 piece replica of a Fender Stratocaster. You can't play it, but you can play with it. And maybe that's enough for you.

The set was designed by Lego fan Tomáš Letenay, who originally submitted his guitar-made-out-of-Lego design via a music-centric competition on the toy company's Lego Ideas website.

"I used to play electric guitar when I was a teenager and I always dreamed of owning a Fender Stratocaster - but I could never afford it", he says. "The competition on Lego Ideas gave me the chance to create it in Lego bricks. The Stratocaster was my gateway into music and I love seeing my Lego design with the stand. I am hoping that other guitar fans get as much joy out of building it as I have".

Federico Begher, VP of Global Marketing at Lego, adds: "The Fender Stratocaster guitar is iconic and has been at the heart of so many incredible songs over the years. We know many of our fans are passionate about music and we hope they enjoy the attention to detail in not only the guitar but also the accessories, such as the strap and the amp".

If this appeals to you - and the £90 price tag doesn't put you off - you can pre-order yours now, before it goes on sale on 1 Oct.


Shaun Keaveny to host new festival-themed podcast
Shaun Keaveny hasn't even left the BBC radio building yet, but he's already announced his second post 6 Music gig. He will be presenting a new podcast where people discuss their music festival memories, while also proposing who would play - and what food and drink would be available - at their dream festival.

The podcast is called 'The Line-Up', and among those set to do the festival nostalgia thing, while compiling their dream festival line-up, are Imagine Dragons, Manic Street Preachers, Tom Grennan, Jodie Whittaker and Shaparak Khorsandi.

Says Keaveny: "'The Line-Up' is a chance for me to essentially play god to all manner of great guests and grant them their ultimate festival wishes. Whatever they do desire - be it Hendrix jamming with Taylor Swift, or a helicopter on site delivering their favourite curry - all I ask for in return, like any god worth their salt, is total eternal devotion!"

Produced by audio company Cup And Nuzzle, the first edition of the new podcast will go live on 15 Sep. Keaveny is also voicing a new comedy show on Absolute Radio called 'Rockanory', written by comedian and broadcaster Jon Holmes.


Approved: Nation Of Language
Nation Of Language released their debut album, 'Introduction, Presence', just as the world was slipping into COVID-19 lockdown. The follow-up - the appropriately-titled 'A Way Forward' - arrives as we (fingers crossed tight) start to emerge out the other side.

The development of the band's heavily 80s-inspired sound had been several years in development before that first album came out, though - a period reflected in new single 'This Fractured Mind'.

Vocalist Ian Devaney explains: "After I dropped out of college I spent a number of years delivering pizzas and waiting tables while I lived at home and tried to get a music career going. One ends up spending a lot of time contending with unrealised dreams and feeling jealousy towards those who have moved on".

"There's an inferiority complex that can set in", he adds, "which if unchecked, can lead down a pretty bitter and self-destructive road. This is a song for driving down that road, as indecision and longing and regret cycle together into mania, until finally, at the end, quiet acceptance and peace wash over".

"As for the recording itself", he continues, "for those later movements, we messed around with tape machines, running things at different speeds and sometimes backwards, talking about William Basinksi's 'Disintegration Loops' and trying to see how we could achieve a similarly somber, ethereal ambiance, but in a comparatively very small space".

He concludes: "This one in particular serves as a good example of how, on the album as a whole, we wanted to find a balance between steady motorik endlessness and more spacious ambient moments".

'A Way Forward' is set for release on 5 Nov. Nation Of Language will then be in the UK for a handful of tour dates in January, finishing up at Lafayette in London on 31 Jan. Watch the video for 'A Fractured Mind' here.

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


DIY distributor TuneCore has promoted Nick Krus to the position of VP Marketing. "I've been blessed to work with extremely talented colleagues who execute with expertise and efficiency at every turn", he says. "I am extremely excited to continue to put artists first in everything we do and thank [CEO] Andreea [Gleeson] for believing in me to take on this mission".

Universal's Capitol Music Group in the US has appointed Ryan Ruden as EVP Experiential Marketing and Business Development. CEO Jeff Vaughn and COO Michelle Jubelirer say in a joint statement: "Ryan is that rare executive who merges his passion for music with innovative ideas and the development of new pathways for artists to connect with fans. He will be a tremendous asset to our company and our artists, and everyone at CMG joins us in welcoming Ryan to the team".



Applications are now open for the 2022 edition of the Music Managers Forums's Accelerator Programme For Music Managers. Successful applicants will receive bursaries of up to £15,000 and professional development training. More info here.



Lana Del Rey has announced her new album 'Blue Banisters'. Getting a bit of de ja vu here. It'll be out on 22 Oct. For real this time. Look, here's new single 'Arcadia' and everything.

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder is back doing his solo thing again on new single 'Long Way'. It's the first song released from his new solo album 'Earthling', which will be out, you know, at some point.

Holly Humberstone has released her "absolute favourite" song from her upcoming 'The Walls Are Way Too Thin' EP, 'Scarlett'. "It's a fuck you to the guy that was going out with my closest friend Scarlett and it was written as they were breaking up", she says. "It's a pretty positive song as it's about her finally letting go, realising his many faults and taking back her life". The EP is out on 5 Nov.

The Darkness have released new single 'Nobody Can See Me Cry'. "It's devastating", says frontman Justin Hawkins. "I yearn to be seen. On this I'll settle for being heard. Listen to this song, it's brilliant. I should know, I sang it". Their new album, 'Motorheart', will be out on 19 Nov.

Tirzah's new single 'Hive Mind' is here. So that's good. Her new album, 'Colourgrade', is out on 1 Oct.

Illuminati Hotties has released new single 'Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism', taken from her upcoming new album 'Let Me Do One More'.

With her latest album 'Iris' due out on 1 Oct, the excellent Reb Fountain has released new single 'Foxbright'.

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


Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Irving Azoff all comment on guitarist's Fleetwood Mac departure
Three years after his latest departure from Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham is still annoyed about how he was ejected from the group. So much so that his comments about it in a new interview have prompted rebuttals from both vocalist Stevie Nicks and the band's manager Irving Azoff.

At this point, you might say something cynical along the lines of, "well, I guess he's got a new album to promote". He's beaten you to it though, admitting in the interview with the LA Times that dredging up all this stuff again will help to gain attention for his new solo album.

But, he's seemingly quite proud of this new LP, and a lot has happened to delay him getting it out into the world in the four years since he recorded it. So perhaps you can forgive him wanting to use whatever means necessary to draw people's attention to it.

Still, marketing plans aside, being kicked out of Fleetwood Mac is clearly something he is yet to get over. Some of the events that preceded that sacking have been revealed before, of course, not least because the whole thing ultimately went legal. Tensions apparently began when he asked the band to delay a tour so that he could promote this solo album.

Then there was an incident where Nicks apparently felt that he mocked her acceptance speech for the MusiCares Person Of The Year award in 2018. Certainly, a week after that event he was out, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell and Neil Finn of Crowded House had been drafted in to replace him.

After that, he sued the band for lost earnings, had a heart attack, had his vocal cords damaged during heart bypass surgery, there was a pandemic and his wife filed for divorce. All of which helped to delay the release of his new solo album until now. It also gave him plenty of time to stew.

That's not quite how he puts it. "Between the Fleetwood Mac stuff and the heart attack, it's all been humbling", he says. "I've never suffered from a lack of confidence, and sometimes could get carried away with that in the process of leading the band. But everything has pulled me in a little bit. I'm not as aggressive a person as I was before, which is probably not a bad thing. It made me look around more - and become less self-involved, hopefully".

Which is all good stuff. Though this statement is then followed by various pronouncements about the shortcomings of his former bandmates, plus criticism about how they failed to stand up for him in behind the scenes disputes. However, he particularly singles out Nicks, and the power she wields as the "figurehead" of the band, and suggests that unrelated feelings about her life have been channeled into animosity towards him.

"You could do a whole analysis on Stevie at this point in her life and what she’s allowed to happen and what she’s allowed to slip away from her", he says. "Her creativity, at least for a while, it seemed like she wasn’t in touch with that. Same with the level of energy she once had onstage. I think that was hard for her, seeing me jump around in an age-inappropriate way. Also, she's lonely. She's alone. She has the people who work for her, and I'm sure she has friends, but you know".

Nicks has previously almost entirely refused to be drawn into remarking on Buckingham's departure from the band, although this time she did give a statement via her publicist, saying: "His version of events is factually inaccurate and while I've never spoken publicly on the matter, certainly it feels the time has come to shine a light on the truth. To be exceedingly clear, I did not have him fired, I did not ask for him to be fired, I did not demand he be fired".

"Frankly, I fired myself", she goes on. "I proactively removed myself from the band and a situation I considered to be toxic to my wellbeing. I was done. If the band went on without me, so be it. And after many lengthy group discussions, Fleetwood Mac, a band whose legacy is rooted in evolution and change, found a new path forward with two hugely talented new members".

At this point - for all of Buckingham's claims to be less "aggressive" and whoever may or may not have been in the wrong - the ongoing sparring does all seem a bit personal and unpleasant. What would really help now is a good old "the music industry is cutthroat and only out for profit" narrative. Luckily, Buckingham also still holds a lot of anger for Fleetwood Mac manager Irving Azoff, who he says "threw me under the bus" when the band were negotiating whether or not he should be fired.

"Irving doesn’t need the money, but he's still driven by the money", claims Buckingham.

Like Nicks, Azoff has avoided any public comment on all this previously. But, also like Nicks, this particular interview has irked him enough to change that.

"I have historically declined comment on artists, but in the case of Lindsey Buckingham, I will make an exception", says Azoff. "In speaking with Stevie, her account of events are factual and truthful. While I understand it's challenging for Lindsey to accept his own role in these matters and far easier to blame a manager, the fact remains that his actions alone are responsible for what transpired".

"Frankly, if I can be accused of anything it's perhaps holding things together longer than I should have", he continues. "After 2018, when Fleetwood Mac evolved with their new line-up, my continued work with the band was due entirely to the fact I've been aligned with Stevie Nicks in thought and purpose from the earliest of days. While financial gain was not a motivator for me, it was a delightful bonus that the band scored their highest grossing tour ever without Lindsey".

So, long story short, Lindsey Buckingham's not rejoining Fleetwood Mac any time soon. But he does have a new solo album coming out.


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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