TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Spanish government has announced a rule change that will mean British artists and crew touring in the country will no longer need visas. It removes one of the big barriers the UK live community has faced since Brexit... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Spain ends visa requirement for British artists, though post-Brexit touring challenges continue
LEGAL New $750 million lawsuit filed over Astroworld tragedy
LABELS & PUBLISHERS TuneCore launches new service with no upfront costs to get tracks into social music libraries
LIVE BUSINESS No return ticket for Indietracks festival
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES App launched by Abba's Bjorn Ulvaeus receives £1 million grant from Spotify and YouTube
Girl Band drop "misgendered name" to become Gilla Band
ARTIST NEWS Britney Spears calls for change in the "corrupt" US conservatorship system
ONE LINERS Air, Run The Jewels, Bat For Lashes, more
AND FINALLY... BBC pulls new version of The Snowman following composer complaint
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Spain ends visa requirement for British artists, though post-Brexit touring challenges continue
The Spanish government has announced a rule change that will mean British artists and crew touring in the country will no longer need visas. It removes one of the big barriers the UK live community has faced since Brexit.

The post-Brexit trade deal agreed between the UK and the EU did not include any pan-European arrangement to ensure British performers could continue to tour the continent without facing any new visa, permit or carnet requirements. As a result, artists and crew must adhere to different rules in each EU member state. In some countries things can pretty much carry on as normal, but in others there is new bureaucracy to navigate.

Spain - a key touring market for many UK acts - fell into the latter group, meaning artists and crew faced new costs and administration when playing shows in the country. For many artists, those new costs would make gigging in Spain unviable. But after much campaigning, by both the UK and Spanish music communities, the rules have now changed.

A statement issued by trade groups LIVE and the Association For British Orchestras yesterday explained that, prior to this rule change, "visas have been a significant issue for Spain which, despite representing the fifth largest live music market in the world, posed the most costly and complicated visa application process across the bloc for artists looking to travel for short-term work".

"Until now", it went on, "artists and their promoters have had to make applications for short-term visas entirely in Spanish, provide a host of itinerary details before having even been given the green light for the tour to go ahead - including accommodation and flight allocations - and give proof of applicant earnings of up to nearly £1000 before ever having left the country. Costs were also prohibitive, amounting to over £10,000 for an orchestra to visit Spain for up to five days".

As well as LIVE and ABO, organisations like UK Music and the #LetTheMusicMove campaign have also been putting pressure on UK ministers to negotiate a better deal on this point directly with their Spanish counterparts. Meanwhile, in Spain itself organisations like APM Musicales and the Spanish division of Live Nation have been lobbying hard for the rule change.

Welcoming the change, Craig Stanley, Chair of the LIVE Touring Group, said yesterday: "We are delighted that our hard work has paid off and the Spanish government has agreed to lift the restrictive visa process for touring artists, ending the complicated and painful process of expensive visa applications. A whole host of people came together both here and in Spain to fix this situation and this shows what we can achieve as an industry when we work together".

Although, of course, while addressing the visa issue in Spain was a particular priority, there is still new post-Brexit bureaucracy elsewhere in Europe for artists to navigate as they start touring again as COVID restrictions lift. With that in mind, Stanley added: "[This] is still only one small part of a very large problem affecting our ability to tour ... we are calling on the government to follow our lead and urgently work to fix the rules with the remaining member states so that we can continue to tour across the entirety of the European Union".

UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin echoed that sentiment, welcoming this development but stressing much more still needs to be done. "The lifting of visa restrictions by the Spanish government is a hugely welcome move", he said. "It marks a big victory for all our members and reflects all the effort we have put in trying to get rid of these barriers. However, it is important to remember that major issues still remain – particularly cabotage, which makes many tours impossible. We will continue to press the case with the government here and with EU nations to remove all the costly and bureaucratic restrictions that remain when it comes to touring the EU".

Even in Spain, there is still some new bureaucracy to deal with, as the LIVE/ABO statement also explained yesterday. "Although the successful return of visa-free short-term work in Spain represents a positive step towards the return of international touring", it continued, "this is only one part of the picture. Touring artists still face restrictions on touring in Spain: a three-stop limit to UK touring vehicles before they have to return to home and a hugely expensive goods passport - a 'carnet' - including a bond for instruments and equipment".

"Taken together with the visa issue still affecting other areas of the EU", it went on, "the impacts of Brexit continue to cause a logistical nightmare for Europe-wide tours. Live music touring is reliant on low friction barriers to entry and movement, allowing tours to move through countries seamlessly and quickly, and, as the second biggest exporter of music in the world, the sector in the UK is feeling the pinch".

The statement then concluded: "Not only does this affect the ecosystem of live music industry performers, workers, and businesses, but also for the UK economy which risks losing one of its finest exports. LIVE is calling on the government to work with individual EU governments to tackle the problem of visas and permits, focusing on seven member states with the most urgent issues, including Croatia".


New $750 million lawsuit filed over Astroworld tragedy
The lawsuits continue to mount up in relation to the tragedy that occurred at this month's Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas. And yesterday one lawyer filed a new lawsuit on behalf of 125 festival-goers seeking a mega $750 million in damages.

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured after a crowd surge occurred during Travis Scott’s headline set at the latest edition of the Astroworld event that he founded, which was staged at Houston's NRG Park. A criminal investigation is currently underway led by the Houston Police Department seeking to identify what led to the crowd surge, and to what extent poor planning or bad decision making on the ground contributed to the tragedy.

Alongside the criminal investigation, numerous lawsuits have also been filed by victims of the crowd surge, including the families of those who died. Houston-based lawyer Tony Buzbee last week told reporters he was already working for 35 of those victims, including the family of Axel Acosta, who died at the event. That has now increased to 125, who were named as plaintiffs on the new lawsuit yesterday. He's also said that he expects to file additional litigation on behalf of at least a hundred more people.

As expected, that lawsuit targets Scott himself and the promoters of Astroworld, Live Nation and Scoremore. It also names as defendants Scott's label Epic Records; Apple, which livestreamed the festival; and Drake, who appeared on stage with Scott even after a "mass casualty event" had been declared by police.

Commenting on the lawsuit on Instagram, Buzbee wrote: "We filed suit today on behalf of 125 Astroworld concertgoers, to include the family of Axel Acosta. Axel died at the concert. Many of the clients named in this lawsuit suffered broken bones, or twisted knees, or orthopaedic injuries. Many have psychological injury. I expect we will file on behalf of another 100 individuals very soon. I have been in contact with defence counsel for many of the entities sued, [including] Live Nation".

"Our team has toured the site and collected evidence", he added. "We have taken statements from more than 50 witnesses. We have collected hours of video tape from almost every angle. No amount of money will fix what occurred on the night of 5 Nov. However, based on what I know now, to include what I learned during discussions with opposing counsel, it is my firm belief that every individual who attended that concert and who suffered injury will be fairly compensated. I intend to make sure of it".

Beyond the litigation, media and brands that have partnerships with Scott continue to review their relationships with the star. According to Page Six, fashion magazine W is currently trying to recall its next edition, which has Scott and his partner Kylie Jenner as cover stars. The magazine was already printed by the time Astroworld took place, but not actually on sale.

Sources told Page Six: "W editors have cleared any planned coverage of Travis and Kylie from their website, but the magazine was already printed, and now they are trying to stop the delivery trucks. In the light of what happened at Astroworld, the interview and cover lines seem inappropriate, to say the least".

We discuss the legal fall out from the Astroworld tragedy further in this week’s episode of our Setlist podcast.


TuneCore launches new service with no upfront costs to get tracks into social music libraries
DIY distributor TuneCore has announced a new Social Platforms service that will allow artists to get their music into the in-built music libraries on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook with no upfront costs. This will allow artists - TuneCore says - to start building an audience for their music on those platforms, ahead of formally releasing tracks on the Spotify-style streaming services.

Obviously DIY artists can directly upload content to their own pages and profiles on these platforms, but by getting their tracks into the in-built libraries it is easier for other people to use their music in their videos too. Plus the artists are officially in the system and can therefore benefit from any monetisation options.

Under the standard TuneCore model, artists pay an upfront fee to get their music delivered to all the digital platforms and then earn 100% of any royalties subsequently generated. With the Social Platforms service there will be no upfront cost, and instead, "TuneCore will participate in a small share of revenues generated by the tracks on the platforms".

Says TuneCore CEO Andreea Gleeson: "In the past few years, social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook have become the first stage for music discovery, providing a new way for music creators to start building audiences and accelerate discovery and virality".

"With the launch of distribution to Social Platforms", she adds, "TuneCore is offering a one-stop solution for artists to release and monetise their music on key social media platforms with no-upfront fee to provide an easily accessible launchpad for creators".


No return ticket for Indietracks festival
The Derbyshire-based Indietracks festival has announced that it will not return, after cancelling its last two editions because of COVID-19. Organisers say that the event has become "unsustainable, principally due to the ongoing ramifications of the pandemic".

"We're very sad to say that we're bringing the Indietracks festival to a close", they confirm. "We've had over a decade of wonderful memories, and so it's heartbreaking to let you know that 2019's festival was our final event".

Launched in 2007 by steam train restorer Stuart Mackay, Indietracks took place at the Midland heritage railway. Acts who headlined the event over the years included St Etienne, Gruff Rhys, The Go! Team, The Wedding Present, Sea Power, Los Campesinos and Camera Obscura.

Like most British festivals, its 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then announced in February this year that the 2021 edition, set to take place in July, would also not go ahead. At the time, organisers explained that it wasn't clear when the Midland Railway would re-open given the then ongoing COVID restrictions. With the risk of cancellation further down the line pretty high if they did forge ahead, it was decided to take another year off.

Now it has been decided that it will not be possible to bring the event back at all post-COVID, with a new statement saying: "We realise that the festival was very special to many people, and this isn't a decision that we've taken lightly. Thanks so much to everyone who has attended and supported Indietracks. The festival has successfully raised funds for the Midland Railway Trust each year. However, despite significant effort from all concerned the event has sadly proved unsustainable, principally due to the ongoing ramifications of the pandemic".

"We were so excited about our line-up for 2020 and were devastated to have to cancel, and we're especially sorry to all those artists we'd booked and who didn't get the opportunity to play when the pandemic hit", they go on. "We're so grateful to all the artists and bands, workshop organisers, volunteers, merch tent holders and press people who played a part in Indietracks and – most importantly – to all of you who bought tickets, downloaded compilations and came along and enjoyed our events".

Finally, they conclude: "There are so many fantastic artists, festivals, promoters and record labels out there. And we'd encourage you all to get involved, be supportive and create something new! Put on a gig, arrange a festival, form a band, start a label, share something with the world that needs sharing. We'll support you however we can, even if it's just sharing something on social media or offering advice (bearing in mind we made as many mistakes as we got things right!) Just drop us a message and we'll try and help. Otherwise, it's over to you now – go for it!"


App launched by Abba's Bjorn Ulvaeus receives £1 million grant from Spotify and YouTube
Session, the music collaboration and rights data management tool backed by Abba star Bjorn Ulvaeus, has received £1 million of funding from Spotify and YouTube.

The grant, Session says, is "to help support its mission to make sure creators are always fairly credited and rewarded for their work, increasing accuracy for royalty distribution". It's no secret that bad music rights data can stop songwriters from being paid, and often makes the processing of royalties - especially from digital services - inaccurate and inefficient.

The Session app - also co-founded by Max Martin and Niclas Mollinder - aims to make it easier for collaborating music-makers to agree ownership splits and log key data about each song and track with the music industry's databases. The team behind Session are also behind The Music Rights Awareness Foundation and the recently launched Credits Due campaign.

Welcoming Spotify and YouTube's support of Session, Ulvaeus says: "Creators should be allowed to make music together without having to worry about the administration around metadata. But, millions of creators miss out on fair payment and credit for their work due to inaccurate song or recording information".

"The music industry deserves better and I'm convinced that Session's apps can help it become fairer and more transparent", he goes on. "We're delighted that two of the biggest digital service providers are now supporting our mission, and look forward to other DSPs joining this collaboration".


CMU Insights at MIDEM Digital
A digital edition of music business conference MIDEM kicked off yesterday and continues for the rest of the week, with a packed programme of workshops, masterclasses, conversations and keynotes happening online.

On Friday, one of the keynote sessions will see CMU's Chris Cooke in conversation with Cécile Rap-Veber, who was recently appointed CEO of French collecting society SACEM, as well as the organisation's Chief Technology Officer Paul Cohen Scali.

Among other things, the conversation will review the impact of COVID on songwriter and music publisher revenues, and how societies like SACEM responded to the challenges created by the pandemic.

It will also consider how music licensing has significantly changed over the last decade with the rise of streaming, and how SACEM expanded and evolved its services, role and technologies as part of that process. And finally, Rap-Veber and Cohen Scali will discuss the latest developments and future opportunities in the songs business and collective rights management.

The keynote will be available to view from 1.30pm (CET) on Friday. Check out the full MIDEM Digital schedule and sign up for free access to all the sessions on the MIDEM website here.

Britney Spears calls for change in the "corrupt" US conservatorship system
Britney Spears has spoken in more detail about the termination last week of the conservatorship that had controlled her personal and financial affairs for thirteen years.

In a video posted to social media, she says: "I've been in the conservatorship for thirteen years. It's a really a long time to be in a situation you don't want to be in. So I'm just grateful for each day and being able to have the keys to my car, to be able to be independent and feel like a woman. Owning an ATM card, seeing cash for the first time, being able to buy candles. It's the little things ... I'm grateful for that. It's nice, it's really nice".

Suggesting that she would use her new found freedom to support others stuck in the US conservatorship system, she goes on: "I'm not here to be a victim ... I'm here to be an advocate for people with real disabilities and real illnesses. I'm a very strong woman, so I can only imagine what the system has done to those people. So hopefully my story will have an impact and make some changes in the corrupt system".

She also speaks directly to the fan-led #FreeBritney movement, saying: "My voice was muted and threatened for so long, and I wasn't able to speak up and say anything. Because of you guys, and the awareness of kind of knowing what was going on, and delivering that news to the public for so long ... I honestly think you guys saved my life".

Spears has also hinted that she is preparing to give a tell-all interview to Oprah Winfrey. In the caption for her video on Instagram, she adds: "It still blows my mind every day I wake up how my family and the conservatorship were able to do what they did to me. It was demoralising and degrading. I'm not even mentioning all the bad things they did to me which they should all be in jail for - yes, including my church-going mother".

Talking of Britney's mother, according to the New York Post, Lynn Spears flew to LA shortly before the court hearing that ended the conservatorship last week, in order to try to reconcile with her daughter. Spears' mother had called for the legal arrangement to be ended recently, although Britney has claimed that the conservatorship was her mother's idea in the first place.


Girl Band drop "misgendered name" to become Gilla Band
Girl Band are changing their name, and will from now on be known as Gilla Band. The group have put out two albums under their original name, but have faced criticism for it, given that their line-up is all-male.

"We are changing our band name", they say in a statement. "We will no longer be performing or releasing records under the name Girl Band. We apologise for choosing a misgendered name in the first place and to anyone who has been hurt or affected by it".

"When we were starting off [the name Girl Band] was chosen without much thought, from a place of naivety and ignorance", they go on. "We had no grasp of the weight of it at the time and in the past few years have found it impossible to justify or explain this choice".

"Regardless of our intention, the effect of the name has been damaging to individuals", they continue. "To try and negate any unfortunate role we've played in propagating a culture of non-inclusivity in music or otherwise, we have decided to change it".

"Thank you to those who spoke up about it and educated us on this, either directly or indirectly", they conclude. "Moving forward we will be performing and releasing records under the name Gilla Band. Gilla being a given name taken from Old Irish".

The band have also announced that they will play their first shows under the new name over three nights at Whelans in Dublin in January. Tickets go on sale on Thursday.



Downtown Music Services has signed Air to a worldwide admin and services deal around their songs catalogue, which - says the company's Global President Mike Smith - "represents some of the most timeless music ever made. It is a great honour to be given the opportunity to work with this remarkable music and bring its genius to a new generation".

CTM Outlander has acquired the music rights of songwriter Natalie Hemby in a deal covering her past and future compositions. She has written for artists including Lady Gaga, Lady A, Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert. "It is an honour and a privilege to be working with CTM Outlander Music", says Hemby. "They have a worldwide influence and are deeply respected across the globe. I'm excited to represent them within the Nashville circles, as well as expand my songwriting circles. This is a career milestone for me and I'm sincerely grateful for this opportunity".



Warner Chappell has promoted London-based Daniel Lang to VP International Digital Licensing & Society Relations. "I'm excited to be stepping up into this new role", he says. "I look forward to working with the collection societies to further speed up payments to our writers and make the whole ecosystem more transparent and efficient".



Run The Jewels have put out a new video for 'Never Look Back', from their 2020 album 'RTJ4'. It was premiered as part of the Adult Swim Festival.

A new Courtney Barnett documentary, titled 'Anonymous Club', will be released next year, filmed on her 'Tell Me How You Really Feel' tour. Here's a trailer.

Kero Kero Bonito have shared a new single 'The Sneaker Dance', made for a new line of Adidas streetwear designed by Kerwin Frost.

Charlie Simpson has announced that he will release his new solo album, 'Hope Is A Drug', on 11 Mar. There will also be UK tour dates the same month, plus two shows at Lafayette in London in April. Here's new single 'Twice'.

King Hannah have announced that they will release their debut album, 'I'm Sorry, I Was Just Being Me', on 25 Feb. They'll also be touring the UK in April. Oh, and here's new single 'All Being Fine'.



Bat For Lashes will livestream a "performance film" on 17 Dec, featuring old Hollywood sets, costume changes, Christmas covers, special guests, and full string accompaniments to her own songs. Tickets are on sale now. More info here.

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


BBC pulls new version of The Snowman following composer complaint
The BBC has cancelled plans to air a new recording of 'The Snowman' this Christmas, after composer Howard Blake complained that he thought the new version - made using only human voices - would make his composition "sound silly" and "take a great deal of pleasure away from the world".

The new arrangement, which would also include narration by Stephen Fry, was set to be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 this Christmas. Blake had seemingly agreed to license his music for the performance and its broadcast, but has now withdrawn his support.

Speaking to Radio 4's 'PM' programme earlier this week, Blake said: "I care a great deal about 'The Snowman'. It's worldwide. It is absolutely loved by people. What scares me is that if we have an arrangement that mocks it and makes it sound silly, it will take a great deal of pleasure away from the world, and I don't approve of this arrangement. I license pretty well thousands of arrangements, but this particular one, I just actually think is not a good idea".

In a statement, the BBC said: "We were saddened and surprised to hear of Mr Blake's concerns as we sought permission from him and his publishers and he has been consulted and has contributed throughout. A distinguished team has been skilfully developing plans to bring this production to millions of listeners this Christmas, so it's a great shame we have to remove this from our festive schedule, in line with Mr Blake's wishes".

One of Blake's particular concerns seems to be that there are sounds in the original score which he believes cannot be accurately recreated by a human voice - such as the sound of a motorbike. Has he never seen the 'Police Academy' movies?


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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