TUESDAY 9 NOVEMBER 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: At least sixteen lawsuits have now been filed in relation to the tragedy that occurred at Travis Scott's Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas on Friday. Meanwhile, promoters plan to provide full refunds to everyone who had tickets to the festival, and Scott himself has offered to pay for the funerals of the people who died in the tragedy, while also partnering with mental health service BetterHelp to offer counselling to anyone directly affected by last weekend's events... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Astroworld lawsuits mount up, as further statements are issued over festival tragedy
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LEGAL Legal dispute over US unions' performer ER fees close to $8 million settlement
Kanye West's Yeezy brand settles lawsuit over shipping delays in $950,000 deal

Another Cardi B court battle is pushed back into 2022

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MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Fader Label launches management division
Greg Wells joins This Is Music
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ONE LINERS Cardi B, Wargasm, 2 Chainz, more
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AND FINALLY... Foo Fighters to star in horror comedy movie, Studio 666
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Astroworld lawsuits mount up, as further statements are issued over festival tragedy
At least sixteen lawsuits have now been filed in relation to the tragedy that occurred at Travis Scott's Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas on Friday. Meanwhile, promoters plan to provide full refunds to everyone who had tickets to the festival, and Scott himself has offered to pay for the funerals of the people who died in the tragedy, while also partnering with mental health service BetterHelp to offer counselling to anyone directly affected by last weekend's events.

Eight people died and hundreds more were injured after a dangerous crowd surge occurred during Scott's headline set on the first day of Astroworld 2021. A criminal investigation is underway, with the local police department now being assisted by the FBI as it seeks to identify the sequence of events that led to the injuries and deaths, and to what extent poor planning or bad decision making on the ground contributed to the tragedy.

The sixteen lawsuits that had been filed by the end of the day yesterday are obviously seeking to make Scott and the festival's promoters - Scoremore and Live Nation - liable for Fridays events.

Those arguments will be partly based on allegations that Scott has a long history of encouraging his fans to behave recklessly at his shows, both from the stage and on social media - and that three festival-goers were injured after security barriers were pushed over at the 2019 edition of Astroworld - meaning organisers should have put extra safety measures in place.

The litigation will also put the spotlight on exactly what happened on Friday night. In particular, questions still remain about why Scott's show continued for more than 30 minutes after police had already declared a "mass casualty event", during which time Drake also appeared on stage.

Although the criminal investigation will scrutinise all of that, those suing will also want access to any evidence that helps confirm what was happening behind the scenes during Scott's set.

Indeed, a key reason for the rush filing of all the lawsuits in recent days was to secure an injunction ordering Astroworld's organisers to retain all that evidence, including venue NRG Park, which will be keen to clear its site as soon as possible for future events. Lawyers are also reportedly asking that Scott's phone records and social media accounts be retained.

Some of the lawyers representing festival-goers who were injured have issued statements about their litigation, insisting that Friday's events were entirely preventable .

That includes renowned civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who said: "We are hearing horrific accounts of the terror and helplessness people experienced - the horror of a crushing crowd and the awful trauma of watching people die while trying unsuccessfully to save them. We will be pursuing justice for all our clients who were harmed in this tragic and preventable event".

Meanwhile, attorney Thomas J Henry added: "There is no excuse for the events that unfolded at NRG Stadium on Friday night. There is every indication that the performers, organisers and venue were not only aware of the hectic crowd but also that injuries and potential deaths may have occurred. Still, they decided to put profits over their attendees and allowed the deadly show to go on".

More lawsuits are expected, with three groups of plaintiffs likely to file litigation. First will be the families of the eight people who died. Second will be those who suffered physical injuries during the crowd surge. And the third group will be festival-goers who directly witnessed the events and, while not personally injured, nevertheless suffered emotional distress.

Beyond the litigation, further statements were made by Scott, Live Nation and others yesterday.

A representative for the rapper said: "Travis Scott will cover all funeral costs and provide further aid for individuals affected by the 5 Nov tragedy at Astroworld Festival. In addition, Travis has partnered with BetterHelp to supply free one-on-one online therapy, and is working closely with [the National Alliance On Mental Illness and Mental Health America] to direct all those in need to proper mental health services".

The statement continued: "Travis remains in active conversations with the city of Houston, law enforcement and local first responders to respectfully and appropriately connect with the individuals and families of those involved. These are the first of many steps Travis plans on taking as a part of his personal vow to assist those affected throughout their grieving and recovery process".

It was also announced that Scott will no longer appear as a headliner at the Day N Vegas Festival this weekend, with sources confirming that the performer was "too distraught to play". AEG's Goldenvoice, which promotes the Las Vegas festival, has announced that Post Malone will take his place.

Astroworld promoters Scoremore and Live Nation also posted a new statement yesterday, saying: "We wanted to provide an update on the steps that Scoremore, Live Nation and the Astroworld Fest team have been taking. Throughout the weekend, we have been working to provide local authorities with everything they need from us in order to complete their investigation and get everyone the answers they are looking for".

"Our staff has met with local authorities to provide information, and we have also provided them with all footage from our CCTV cameras", they went on. "Load out of the site and equipment is currently paused to give investigators the time they requested to walk and document the grounds".

"Full refunds are being offered for all those who purchased tickets", they then confirmed. "And most importantly we are working on ways to support attendees, the families of victims, and staff, from providing mental health counselling to setting up a health fund to help with costs for medical expenses. Our entire team is mourning alongside the community".

Drake has also issued a statement, he having appeared on stage as Friday's tragedy unfolded, resulting in him being named as a defendant in some of the litigation.

He posted on Instagram: "I've spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy. I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself. My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering. I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can. May God be with you all".

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Legal dispute over US unions' performer ER fees close to $8 million settlement
A dispute over the fees charged by American performer unions AFM and SAG-AFTRA in relation to the payment of equitable remuneration royalties to session musicians in the US is seemingly close to being settled. According to Law360, the judge overseeing the case - Christina A Snyder - gave preliminary approval to a proposed settlement deal yesterday.

This all relates to a lawsuit filed in 2018 by songwriter and record producer Kevin Risto, which formally became a class action last year. Risto took issue with the management of the IP Rights Distribution Fund, an entity set up by AFM and SAG-AFTRA to administer royalties due to performers.

That includes the so called Performer ER royalties that are due to session musicians whenever their music is played on online or satellite radio services in the US. That money is initially collected by the collecting society SoundExchange, which then directly pays on any royalties due to record labels and featured artists. However, the cut of the cash due to session musicians is handed over to the IP Rights Distribution Fund, which then works out which musicians need paying.

Risto's lawsuit took issue with a decision made by the trustees of that fund back in 2013 to start paying both AFM and SAG-AFTRA a 1.5% fee for the services and data they provide to help with the payment of royalties. He argued that the trustees violated their fiduciary duty to the fund’s beneficiaries, ie the session musicians, by allowing regular payments to be made to the unions that set it up.

For their part, the various defendants argued that the fund's governing document gave the trustees wide discretion on how best to run the royalty body and specific permission to pay the two unions for any services or information they provide. Which meant that, although such payments only began in 2013, the right to pay the unions for their input was there from the start.

AFM and SAG-AFTRA unsuccessfully tried to have Risto's litigation dismissed back in 2018. Then, earlier this year, with the case now a class action that could benefit some 30,000 musicians, they asked the judge to grant summary judgement in their favour. However, judge Snyder denied that request, meaning the dispute was set to proceed to a full court hearing.

But not now, given that a settlement has seemingly been reached. Under the proposed settlement deal, a $5.35 million fund will be set up to benefit class members, while a separate $2.6 million administration fund will be established to cover legal costs. Then, moving forward, the two unions would each receive a fixed annual fee of $382,500 for the data and services they provide, rather than a percentage cut.

In a short hearing Snyder granted a motion from Risto's side for preliminary approval of the settlement that has been negotiated, with the judge stating that it seemed like everything was now "well in hand".

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Kanye West's Yeezy brand settles lawsuit over shipping delays in $950,000 deal
Kanye West's clothing brand Yeezy has settled legal action filed by various district attorneys in California in relation to allegations that it has a rather shoddy approach to mailing out goods bought on its website. West's company will hand over $950,000 to end the litigation, and commit to make sure it doesn't make any false statements about when the stuff it sells will be shipped.

Californian law is quite specific when it comes to how quickly online sellers of goods must mail out any products they have sold. The lawsuit filed against Yeezy last month noted that state law "requires that orders for goods or services placed over the internet must be shipped within 30 days, failing which the business in question must either provide a refund, send equivalent or superior replacement goods, or provide the buyer with a written notice regarding the delay".

However, the lawsuit went on, "defendants repeatedly violated [these rules] by failing to ship items within 30 days and failing to provide adequate delay notices to California consumers, or provide an offer of a refund". Plus "defendants also made untrue or misleading statements regarding [their] ability to ship products within a certain timeframe, particularly where customers paid an additional charge for expedited shipping, in violation of Business And Professions Code Section 17500".

Seemingly in no mood to fight this legal action, Yeezy has already settled, although it hasn't actually admitted to any wrongdoing. LA County District Attorney George Gascón confirmed all this yesterday.

His office stated that "Yeezy Apparel LLC and Yeezy LLC will pay $950,000 to settle a civil lawsuit alleging the online sneaker and clothing company engaged in unlawful business practices and false advertising by failing to ship items in a timely manner".

Gascón himself added: "Online consumers are entitled to protection against unwarranted fees and unreasonably long waits for purchases to arrive on their doorsteps. We will enforce state and federal laws governing online shopping in Los Angeles County".

The clothing brand will pay each of the four district attorney offices involved in the case both $200,000 in civil penalties and $25,000 in investigative costs. An additional $50,000 in restitution will also be handed over to the Consumer Protection Prosecution Trust Fund.

The statement from Gascón's office also said that "under the settlement, Yeezy is prohibited from making untrue or misleading representations regarding a shipping timeframe or refund", and it also commits to "adhere to laws relating to the issuance of delay notices; and is required to refund money to consumers who, in the future, purchase products that are not shipped in a timely fashion".

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Another Cardi B court battle is pushed back into 2022
Another Cardi B legal battle has been postponed, this one at the very last minute. Her legal dispute with YouTuber Latasha Kebe was due in court in Atlanta this week, but court proceedings have been pushed back to January next year because of an unspecified family emergency.

Cardi B - real name Belcalis Almanzar - sued Kebe in March 2019 in relation to a number of videos the YouTuber had posted to her unWinewithTashaK channel. In a lawsuit filed with the courts in the US state of Georgia, where Kebe lives, it was claimed that the YouTuber had variously stated, in her videos, that Almanzar "was a prostitute ... was a user of cocaine ... had and still has herpes ... had and still has HPV ... engaged in a debasing act with a beer bottle and ... committed infidelity".

Earlier this year, the judge overseeing the case - William M Ray II - declined to issue a summary judgement in Almanzar's favour, concluding that there was a genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether or not some or all of the claims made by Kebe were in fact "false and defamatory".

That was in no small part because of content submitted to the court by the YouTuber in which Almanzar seems to admit to being a sex worker and using drugs, thus suggesting that at least some of Kebe's statements were not, in fact, false.

With a full court hearing to consider the case due to start today, legal reps for Almanzar requested a last minute postponement because of a "family emergency".

That prompted Kebe's team to call for the litigation to be dismissed entirely on the basis that the rapper wasn't serious about pursuing the case. It was also alleged that Almanzar actually wants to postpone the court hearing so that she can relocate to LA for the American Music Awards that are taking place there later this month, something the rapper's lawyers strongly deny.

Either way, Ray denied Kebe's dismissal motion, and then proposed that the court battle be rescheduled to 5 Jan.

This is the second court battle Cardi B has had postponed in recent months. Last month she was due in court in California to fight litigation filed by model Kevin Brophy over her use of his image on the cover to the 2016 mixtape 'Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1'.

In that case, Almanzar argued that she is trying to keep travel to the minimum, having given birth to her second child in September and with all the ongoing COVID concerns. Fighting the case in California would take her away from her homes in Georgia and New Jersey, and would minimise the time she could spend with her new child.

After the judge agreed to push that court battle back into 2022 as well, Brophy sought to have the rapper sanctioned, arguing that a subsequent trip to Paris Fashion Week proved Almanzar was lying when she said that she was trying not to travel. However, the judge ruled Almanzar had not, in fact, misled the court, accepting the argument that the short trip to France was not the same as relocating to California for a three week trial.

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Fader Label launches management division
New York-based Fader Label has formally announced the launch of a new management division, kicking off with a roster of four artists - Shallou, Mcamp, James Ivy and Del Water Gap.

"Fader Management is a natural evolution of the artist development we offer through all of the services [sister company] Cornerstone and Fader provide", says the company's co-founder Jon Cohen. "Management enables us to use the infrastructure across our companies to play a bigger role in helping artists build and execute the right strategy and develop incredible creative".

General Manager of Fader Label, Carson Oberg, adds: "Fader has been at the forefront of developing stories and artists. Fader Management allows us to tell an artists' story from every avenue of their business. This is just the beginning for Fader Management as we are actively expanding and looking for new managers to partner with to expand our roster".

All four of those launch artists have commented too. Shallou is "really excited"; for Mcamp it is "a special experience"; James Ivy says "it's been a really really helpful experience"; and Del Water Gap states that he has "always respected the space that The Fader holds in music and culture".

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Greg Wells joins This Is Music
London-based management company This Is Music has announced that Greg Wells is joining the firm, bringing with him his current management clients, Sofia Kourtesis and Logic1000.

Wells also works as a plugger via the promotions agency he co-founded with Rebecca Richardson in 2018, Ghost Promo, and he will continue to run radio campaigns for a range of clients through that business.

Confirming Wells is joining its team of managers, This Is Music MD Oli Isaacs says: "At This Is Music we pride ourselves on our emphasis on talent. This applies not only to the artists we have the privilege of managing but also to the managers in our team. By bringing in Greg we add an experienced music industry professional to the team who has brilliant instincts and taste".

"His promotions background will broaden our in-house expertise, but he's also got exceptional ears, so we can be sure he will contribute to our overall A&R process", he goes on. "Greg is a like minded individual who shares our core values. We’re incredibly excited to embark on this new journey together and look forward to building future success with him".

Wells himself adds: "As a manager, I'm always thinking about how I can better serve the artists I work with, so when the opportunity to join This Is Music arose, it was a no brainer! They have an incredible track record of breaking artists without compromising on their artistic vision. I'm excited to continue to learn and grow as a manager and I don’t believe there is a better place to do this than at This Is Music".

Elsewhere in This Is Music news, the Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition have announced that the company and its client Bicep will be presented with the Innovation Award at next week's Artist & Manager Awards.

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Approved: Debby Friday
With an output that spans music, filmmaking, audio production, writing and spoken word, Debby Friday is an endlessly interesting artist who provides numerous rabbit holes to follow, despite being in the relatively early stages of her career.

Releasing her first recordings back in 2018, she has embarked on a seemingly uncompromising journey into her own creativity since then. Earlier this year, she completed a masters degree in Fine Art, submitting an audio play, 'Link Sick', as her thesis project - a 40 minute story which she wrote and soundtracked. A second audio play, titled 'VOW', was then premiered at the Ottawa Art Gallery in September.

Alongside all that, Friday is also working on her debut album, the second single from which - following 'Runnin' earlier this year - is out now. Titled 'Focus', it is a bold representation of her experimental electronic production with spoken word vocals. Accompanying it is an equally striking video, which features specially shot footage of an avalanche.

"I wrote this song in 2019, when I first started thinking about writing an album and the possibility of pursuing my creative passions as my career was making itself known to me", she says. "I kept debating with myself, 'do I want this or do I not want this?' It's a heavy question. The video also speaks to this. The whole process was like undergoing some sort of fire baptism. It was difficult and chaotic and supernatural. I felt like I was the mountain, cracking open and spilling forth".

"Getting the logistics of everything together was the most stressful part", she says of the video. "It's not every day that you have to figure out how to make an avalanche and take fire bullwhip cracking lessons. Thankfully, I had a really supportive crew the whole way through. It took a lot but I feel like this song and video marks a turning point for me that I can't exactly name yet".

Stay tuned for more information on that debut album. For now, watch the video for 'Focus' here.

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

DEALS

Kobalt has signed Peach PRC to a global publishing deal. "Kobalt have been in contact ever since my songs started connecting with people from early last year", she says. "They have been very patient and kind and I'm so grateful that they have faith in me as a writer. I'm really looking forward to collaborating with their other writers and the global team".

Ibiza venue Circoloco's DC-10 has signed a deal with Dice to make the company its exclusive ticketing partner. “It's rare to be able to say that you’re working with a partner that has made such a huge impact on club culture", says Dice President Russ Tannen. "Circoloco's DC-10 is one of those special clubs".

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LIVE BUSINESS

The Scala venue in London yesterday issued a statement in response to allegations that Wargasm's Sam Matlock was assaulted by security staff there backstage last week. "Scala is aware of the allegations that have been made and are conducting a full scale investigation with our security provider, Saber Security", it said. "We will not tolerate this sort of behaviour alleged or otherwise".

In a later update to the same story, the promoters of the club night at which Wargasm had performed, Face Down, said in a new tweet that The Scala has now confirmed to them that the security guards involved in the incident have been sacked.

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APPOINTMENTS

Believe has appointed Denis Gorshkov to the role of Managing Director for Russia and the Commonwealth Independent States. "We are super excited to welcome Denis, who comes with more than eighteen years of experience in international business as well as across Russian media and digital worlds", says Viktoria Siniavskaia, the distribution and label services company's Regional Managing Director for Russia, Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and Africa.

Utopia Music has hired Rachel Kelly as Head Of Australia. "I'm THRILLED to be joining the Utopia family and expanding its vision of ‘fair pay for every play’ to Australasia", she says. "The music industry is in need of innovation so it can grow to its full potential. But more importantly, that innovation must be created with every industry participant in mind so that we can grow together".

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ARTIST NEWS

Universal Music's Mercury Studios and Interscope Films are partnering to produce a new short film created by Yungblud, called 'Mars', inspired by his song of the same name. "This story is an uncensored, unfiltered portrayal of youth", says the musician. "It revels in the fragile beauty of it, flirts with the pain of it, and - most importantly - the undeniable, glimmering hope of it. It presents a generational shift towards acceptance of one's self and others, and ever growing confidence in our own insecurities".

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RELEASES

Halle Berry and Cardi B have curated a compilation of tracks by female rappers as the soundtrack to new movie 'Bruised'. It includes six tracks recorded especially for the film, including one by Cardi B herself. "One of the things I’m most excited about is the title song that HER sang", Berry tells Variety. "She killed it. So I can't wait to share with everyone and am super excited".

2 Chainz has released two new tracks on a new tenth anniversary edition of the first mixtape he released under his current moniker. They are 'Wreck', featuring Big Sean, and 'Sofa', featuring Wiz Khalifa.

Johnny Marr has released two new singles, 'Tenement Time' and 'Sensory Street'. Both are taken from his upcoming new album, 'Fever Dreams Pts 1-4', which is out on 25 Feb.

Nnamdi has announced that he will release new EP 'Are You Happy' this Friday. From it, this is new single 'Backseat'.

Avawaves are back with the video for 'Awakening' from their recently released album 'Chrysalis'.

Loose Fit have released new single 'Exhale' on FatCat Records.

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GIGS & TOURS

Freddie Gibbs will be in the UK for two shows in the spring. He'll play Manchester's Academy 2 on 31 Mar and then The Roundhouse in London on 1 Apr. Tickets on sale on Friday.

Tems has announced two UK shows next summer. She will play Institute in Birmingham on 15 Jun and Koko in London on 22 Jun. Before that, you can catch her playing three nights at Lafayette in London later this month.

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

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Foo Fighters to star in horror comedy movie, Studio 666
At this stage, there aren't a lot of things that the Foo Fighters haven't done. Have they ever starred in their own movie, though? No. Or have they? Yes, actually, they have. You just haven't seen it yet. But, prepare yourselves, because horror comedy 'Studio 666' is set for release in 2022.

"After decades of ridiculous music videos and numerous music documentaries under our collective belts, it was finally time to take it to the next level - a full length feature horror comedy film", says Dave Grohl. "Like most things Foo, 'Studio 666' began with a far fetched idea that blossomed into something bigger than we ever imagined possible".

"Filmed at the same house where we recorded our latest album 'Medicine At Midnight' - told you that place was haunted! - we wanted to recapture the classic magic that all of our favourite rock and roll movies had, but with a twist: hilarious gore that fucking ROCKS".

"And now", he goes on, "with the help of Tom Ortenberg and the team at Open Road Films we can finally let this cat out of the bag after keeping it our best kept secret for two years. Be ready to laugh, scream, and headbang in your popcorn. 'Studio 666' will fuck you up".

Grohl did indeed claim last year that the house in California where the band recorded their most recent record was haunted. Was that all part of a long-game promotional plan? Back then, Grohl said that among the spooky things to happen were guitars going out of tune and things going wrong with ProTools. None of which sounds like a good recipe for cinematic greatness.

He did then claim that, once they'd discovered what was really going on at the property, they'd had to sign a non-disclosure agreement so that no one would find out that the house is haunted. That did reek of bullshit at the time, but now I guess it makes sense. It was all a teaser for a movie we didn't know existed.

As noted by Grohl there, the film is being put out by Open Road Films. It's based on a story by Grohl, with a screenplay by Jeff Buhler and Rebecca Hughes, and was directed by BJ McDonnell, who is best known for his work as a camera operator on films like 'Jack Reacher', 'Zombieland: Double Tap', and 'The Disaster Artist'. He's also directed a number of horror shorts.

Says McDonnell: "'Studio 666' is a perfect combination of all things I love. Rock, horror, and comedy all tied together in a very thrilling motion picture. I am so excited to have teamed up with the Foo Fighters to create an old school 'band' movie".

"It's been years since we’ve seen something like the Beatles' 'Help!', The Monkees' 'Head', or "Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park'", he adds. "Take that 60s/70s old school band film fun, mix it with horror and 'Studio 666' is born! I am so ecstatic for audiences of film and music to come together and enjoy our film".

Yeah, he did just compare this project to some true classics of the band movie genre (and that Kiss one), which is brave. Time will tell if this will be one for the ages, but he's probably right that it's about time someone had another go within this niche genre.

Anyway, the film will be in cinemas in the US on 25 Feb, with release details for the rest of the world still to be announced.

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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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