TODAY'S TOP STORY: The former boss of EMI UK and former Chair of record industry trade group BPI, Tony Wadsworth, has criticised the copyright reforms set out in Kevin Brennan MP's Copyright (Rights And Remuneration Of Musicians etc) Bill, arguing that - although "well-intentioned" - those reforms will greatly impact on the ability of labels to invest in new talent... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Former EMI boss says Kevin Brennan MP's proposed copyright reforms will "obliterate" the label investment model
LEGAL Apple v Epic alternative payment links dispute now in the Ninth Circuit appeals court
Appeals court upholds earlier ruling in You Raise Me Up case
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Alison Wenham joins Chrysalis as COO
RELEASES Wet Leg announce debut album and UK tour dates
AWARDS Bree Runway, Holly Humberstone and Lola Young named BRITs Rising Stars
ONE LINERS Steps, Believe, Dave Grohl & Greg Kurstin, more
AND FINALLY... Rihanna name National Hero of Barbados as country declares independence
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Former EMI boss says Kevin Brennan MP's proposed copyright reforms will "obliterate" the label investment model
The former boss of EMI UK and former Chair of record industry trade group BPI, Tony Wadsworth, has criticised the copyright reforms set out in Kevin Brennan MP's Copyright (Rights And Remuneration Of Musicians etc) Bill, arguing that - although "well-intentioned" - those reforms will greatly impact on the ability of labels to invest in new talent.

Brennan's private member's bill follows on from Parliament's inquiry into the economics of streaming, and seeks to alter the artist/label relationship through copyright law reforms, both in terms of rights ownership and how revenues stemming from an artist's recordings are shared out.

It follows repeated criticism from artists and their representatives during the Parliamentary inquiry that many labels take too big a cut of streaming income, which means artists aren't benefiting from the streaming boom. And they also couldn't rely on digital music revenues to get them through the pandemic, even though subscription streaming was the one music revenue stream not negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Actually how streaming monies are split between an artist and the label or distributor they work with on their recordings is entirely dependent on each individual record or distribution deal. The artist could receive anything from a few percent to 100% of the money, depending on what level of investment and services the label or distributor provides, and when the deal was signed.

Most controversial are those record deals negotiated and signed in the pre-digital age which make no specific provisions for the sharing of streaming income. Because under a conventional record deal the label owns the copyright in the recordings it releases for life of copyright - currently 70 years in Europe - lots of legacy artists are still receiving royalties from deals negotiated in the 20th century. And some labels are applying royalty rates and other contract terms that were designed for physical releases to streaming income, which hardly seems fair.

That fact is all the more annoying for heritage artists when you consider that the record industry's catalogue is more valuable today than ever before, because with streaming many of the logistical and transactional barriers that used to have to be navigated in order to exploit catalogue have been removed. So catalogue is accounting for ever more consumption on the streaming platforms, but the labels are often paying out the lowest artist royalties on those older recordings.

Brennan's bill seeks to help aggrieved artists out in three ways.

First, performer equitable remuneration would be applied to streams, so that artists would be due a minimum share of streaming income at industry standard rates, oblivious of record contract, paid via the collective licensing system.

Secondly, artists would have a legal right to force labels to renegotiate old deals that seem unfair in the context of modern music consumption trends, aka a contract adjustment right.

Thirdly - and potentially most dramatically - artists would be able revoke any rights they previously assigned to a label after 20 years. Quite how that would work is debatable, though it could ultimately result in any sound recording copyrights owned by a label being transferred over to the artist after two decades, oblivious of what any old record deals say.

Although groups representing artists, songwriters and managers welcomed Brennan's bill when it was published last week - ahead of another reading in Parliament this coming Friday - the label community has been unsurprisingly critical of the proposals. From a label perspective, there are at least three criticisms regarding what the bill proposes, or at least of the fact that these proposals are being presented to Parliament at this time.

First, introducing an ER system on streams would result in winners and losers within the artist community - it isn't simply a case that all artists win while all labels lose. That said, Brennan's bill tries to deal with that.

The artists most likely to be negatively hit by ER on streams would be those who run their own labels, self-release their own recordings and work with a distributor on very favourable terms. However, under Brennan's proposals those artists would continue to receive their streaming royalties under the current system, circumventing any new admin costs or delays that would result from an ER system.

Though there remain plenty of questions regarding exactly how ER on streams would work in general - and how that exclusion for self-releasing artists would work specifically. Which leads to the second criticism.

Labels argue that the potential impact of the ER plan - and the contract adjustment and revocation rights - needs much more consideration. And, with all three having also been recommended by the Parliamentary inquiry, the government's Intellectual Property Office has already commissioned research on each of these three reforms. That research should be completed before actual changes to copyright law are seriously discussed, many in the label community argue.

And that research not only needs to consider the potential impact on artists, although that's obviously very important. But it also needs to consider the impact those reforms would have on the ability of labels to invest in new talent. Which, in turn, leads to the third criticism.

When it works, the traditional label model is sound. A label invests in a bunch of new artists, releases their records and builds a catalogue of recordings. Some - probably a minority - of that catalogue is super successful and therefore super profitable. And it's those profits that allow labels to then invest in the next round of new artists, and so the process repeats again and again.

It is true that labels - especially bigger labels - tend to make their investments in new artists a little later in said artists' careers than they used to. And some would argue that the label's upfront risks have declined with the shift from discs to digital, because no physical product now needs to be produced and distributed. And some also would question the figures the record industry at large presents regarding the actual scale of those new talent investments.

But when the label model works, it really works. Artists get access to investment, studios, collaborators, marketing, distribution and industry decision makers - plus, these days, the all important data, analytics and insights, not to mention marketing content and influencer networks - all of which not only drives streams of the music, but also grows the fanbase. And in doing so that boosts all of the artist's revenue streams - so not just recordings, but publishing, live, merchandise, brand partnerships, direct-to-fan and so on. And chances are, the label isn't actually involved in most of those other revenue streams (in fact, it might not be involved in any of them).

The big question is: if all or any of Brennan's proposals became law, what impact would they have on the ability of labels to offer all that support to new artists? How big a catalogue and how big a cut of the digital pie do labels need to retain their position as key investors in new artist businesses?

It's on this latter point that Wadsworth's critique of Brennan's bill in The Times yesterday focuses. So, what impact does the former EMI boss and BPI chair reckon Brennan's proposals would have on the entire label system? It would "obliterate it".

Having summarised the record industry's steep decline in the first decade of digital music, and its subsequent streaming-led revival, Wadsworth writes: "Just as the UK industry is returning to health ... it faces another threat. This time from a set of legislative proposals that, although surely well-intentioned, would harm the very model that has underpinned the industry's renaissance".

The proposed copyright reforms, he says, "would cripple the amount of investment labels are able to make in new artists, especially at smaller independent companies. In an era that demands instant gratification and success, labels are the only players still set up to play the long game. Thanks to our successful artists, labels continue to reinvest huge amounts each year in emerging talent through A&R, our equivalent of research and development".

"When I was CEO of EMI Music in the UK", he goes on, "I could see the returns from the hit acts of the 1980s funding the investment into new artists in the 1990s, which in turn funded the investment into the young artists of the 2000s. Artists such as Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, Radiohead, Blur, Robbie Williams, Coldplay and many others were supported by this music ecosystem, and continue to enjoy global success".

Of course, he acknowledges, there are new players in the modern recorded music business that have a key role to play too, not least the streaming services and the user-generated content platforms. However, he reckons, "it's still the labels which are set up to nurture and bring through the next generation of talent".

"A draft backbench bill is now suggesting that the growing music streaming economy be abruptly turned on its head with proposals which would obliterate labels' ability to invest in new talent", he states. "The bill proposes as yet unquantified 'additional right' payments, the unprecedented potential for agreements already negotiated between willing parties to be pulled apart and the spectre of copyright assignment being retrospectively slashed from 70 years to 20 years".

"If adopted, these proposals would create huge uncertainty, a mountain of red tape and make the UK a terrible place for investment in music", he argues. "The unintended consequence of these proposals would be to break the link between success and investment forever, and new British artists would suffer".

He then concludes: "The prosperity of the UK music community should not be undermined by these misinformed proposals just as it has got back on its feet. Those who will suffer most are independent labels and the next generation of British talent waiting to be discovered".

The biggest supporters of Brennan's proposals would obviously dispute Wadsworth's claims, probably noting that if Universal Music can afford to hand a £123 million bonus to its CEO, it can probably afford to take a smaller share of the streaming monies generated by its catalogue and still invest in new artists.

However - despite plenty of people trying to write off labels over the last 20 years, arguing that various digital innovations would render the label model redundant - most artists continue to rely on labels, or at least companies that look a lot like labels, to help them grow their audiences and their individual artist businesses, so to boost all their various revenue streams and achieve long-term success.

And, as noted, when it works, the label model really works. Of course there are undeniable issues and inequities - and the majors in particular have repeatedly failed to deal with those issues and inequities in a timely fashion, which is how we got to this point, and why many would argue that copyright law now needs to intervene.

But, it would be nice if we could address those issues and inequities without blowing up all the good stuff. So, I guess the big question is this: quite how big a bomb is Brennan's big bill?

The debate, of course, continues! That too could prove to be quite explosive.


Apple v Epic alternative payment links dispute now in the Ninth Circuit appeals court
The battle over whether or not Apple will have to allow all app makers on the iOS platform to sign-post alternative payment options from later this month is now before the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court in the US.

This is part of the ongoing dispute between Apple and Fortnite make Epic Games over the former's App Store rules, which the latter claims are anti-competitive. Although when Epic took its competition law arguments against Apple to a court in California most of them failed, that court nevertheless issued an injunction very much in the gaming firm's favour.

This relates to the App Store rule that says that, on many iOS apps, in-app payments must be taken via Apple's own commission-charging transactions platform. Not only that, but an app maker can't include links in the app that take users to web pages elsewhere on the internet where other payment platforms can be accessed.

This has long been a top gripe of many app makers, including Spotify. Although - as part of a deal with a regulator in Japan - Apple will next year start allowing the makers of so called reader apps, which includes Spotify, to start including links to alternative payment platforms within their iOS apps.

But that doesn't help Epic. However, the injunction it secured in the Californian courts forces Apple to start allowing all app makers to include such alternative payment option links, within the US at least. That injunction is due to go into force on 9 Dec.

Needless to say, Apple opposes the injunction, mainly arguing that - because the rest of its legal dispute with Epic is subject to appeal - the court order regarding alternative payment links should be paused pending that appeals process.

However, the judge who oversaw the original case declined to pause her injunction. She stated earlier this month that Apple's motion to have the injunction postponed "is based on a selective reading of this court's findings and ignores all of the findings which supported the injunction, namely incipient antitrust conduct including super-competitive commission rates resulting in extraordinarily high operating margins and which have not been correlated to the value of its intellectual property".

Having failed to get the injunction paused in the lower court, Apple took the matter to the Ninth Circuit appeals court, arguing that enforcing said injunction at this time would "harm customers, developers, and Apple itself".

Needless to say, Epic does not agree. Filing a motion with the Ninth Circuit last week urging the appeals court to uphold the injunction, it argued that Apple will not suffer "irreparable injury" as a result of the injunction, that delaying - or 'staying' - the lower court's order would harm Epic, and that "the public interest favours denial of stay".

On the latter point, it went on: "The [lower] court's injunction increases consumer choice on a platform where Apple had 'actively denied' it for more than a decade. As the court wrote: 'this measured remedy will increase competition, increase transparency, increase consumer choice and information'. The court expressly found the injunction will further 'the public interest in uncloaking the veil hiding pricing information on mobile devices and bringing transparency to the marketplace'".

It then added: "Apple will not voluntarily provide any relief to consumers and developers absent a court order. The public interest thus heavily favours denial of Apple’s motion".

We now await to see how the appeals court responds.


Appeals court upholds earlier ruling in You Raise Me Up case
The Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US has agreed with a lower court decision that the song 'You Raise Me Up' did not steal from an earlier work called 'Söknuður'.

A panel of three judges agreed that "'Söknuður' and 'You Raise Me Up' are not substantially similar and most of their similarities are attributable to prior art". That prior art includes the Irish folk song 'Londonderry Air' - best known for being incorporated into 'Danny Boy' - both of which are very much in the public domain.

The Norwegian songwriter behind 'You Raise Me Up' – Rolf Løvland – was accused of ripping off 1977 song 'Söknuður', written by Icelandic singer-songwriter Johann Helgason. When the lawsuit was filed in 2018, it was reported that Helgason and Icelandic collecting society STEF had analysed the two works and concluded they were "97% alike".

Hegason then hired musicologist Judith Finell who is perhaps best known for her testimony on behalf of the Marvin Gaye estate in the big ‘Blurred Lines’ trial, where a jury concluded that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had infringed Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’ when writing their hit.

However, the original judge overseeing this lawsuit wasn't especially impressed with Finell's reports that set out why 'You Raise Me Up' is so similar to 'Söknuður'. The judge wrote that "the Finell reports fail to describe reliable principles and methodology, fail to apply such principles and methodology to the facts, and fail to properly apply the extrinsic test, rendering the reports unreliable, unhelpful, and inadmissible".

The judge then agreed with the defence, that - when similarities between both songs and 'Londonderry Air' were removed - then there wasn't much similarity left at all. And that is now also the conclusion of the appeals court.

'You Raise Me Up', of course, has been a big hit worldwide over the years, thanks to a series of high profile covers. Originally recorded by 1995 Eurovision winners Secret Garden - of which Rolf Løvland is a member - in 2002, it was then covered by Josh Groban the following year and Westlife in 2005. Various other artists have also released versions of the song, although none have been bigger hits than those two.

A lawyer representing Helgason and his Johannsongs company, Michael Machat, tells Law360 that the latest ruling may not signal the end of the dispute. He says that they are currently "contemplating" filing a request for a judicial review of the case.


Alison Wenham joins Chrysalis as COO
Chrysalis Records has announced former Association Of Independent Music boss Alison Wenham as its new Chief Operating Officer.

"I was fortunate enough to work closely with Alison when I served on the board of AIM", says the label’s CEO Jeremy Lascelles. "She is one of the smartest people I have ever met in the music business and a true champion for independent music. I have always wanted to find an opportunity for us to work together again, so am particularly delighted that the time is now. I know she will be a fantastic and transformative addition to the team as we continue the growth and expansion of the company".

Chrysalis was originally founded in 1968, later being acquired by EMI in 1991 and eventually phased out as a frontline label in the 2000s. A former chief of the Chrysalis music publishing business - which had not been part of the EMI deal - Lascelles then bought the Chrysalis Records catalogue and brand through his joint venture with Robin Millar, Blue Raincoat, in 2018.

The latest incarnation of Chrysalis Records was then acquired by Reservoir in 2019, as part of an alliance with Blue Raincoat. It then relaunched as a frontline label in February last year, naming Laura Marling as its first signing, in partnership with Partisan Records.

Wenham founded AIM in 1999 and remained its CEO until stepping down in 2016. She continued to head up the Worldwide Independent Network - the global network for the indie label community - until 2018. Since then she has worked with and advised various music companies, including Funnel Music and the Music Credit Fund.

Confirming her new role, Wenham adds: "I'm very happy to be joining Jeremy, Robin and the team at Chrysalis/Blue Raincoat. My heartland is the independent sector, and this company is one of its leaders. With impressive plans for the future, I'm joining at a hugely exciting time for the company".


Approved: Speed Training
Featuring former members of Great Dad - Charlie Loane (aka Piglet) and Caitlin Power - Speed Training are emerging as a sharp new force in lo-fi pop. Already developing a sound definably their own, the pair take a strong step forward from their previous project, becoming more accessible without compromising on their vision.

Following on from their debut single, 'Hot Wheels (On The Race Track)', they have just released new track 'High Treason'. With a slow creeping musical backing, the duo deliver lyrics that highlight "the normalisation of housing evictions and the inherent violence of late capitalism".

The delivery of the song's opening line - "They emptied the building this morning... early" - draws you quickly into its story, immediately making you feel like a co-conspirator. It's a songwriting skill many would kill for, and one of many reasons to be excited about Speed Training.

To mark the new release, they will play a launch show at The Waiting Room in London on 1 Dec, with support from No Name and a Goat Girl DJ set.

Watch the video for 'High Treason' here.

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

Wet Leg announce debut album and UK tour dates
Alright, first bit of news, Wet Leg have released two new songs and remain very good. Second bit of news, they're going to release their debut album in April. And finally, they've got UK tour dates coming up in January, February and mostly April. Have a little lie down on a chaise longue while you take all of that in.

Speaking about the sort of stuff you'll find on that album they've got coming out, the duo's Rhian Teasdale says: "I wanted to write fun songs, I didn't want to indulge sad feelings too much, I wanted to write stuff that's fun to listen to and fun to play. But then, the sad seeps through as well".

"Wet Leg is sad music for party people, and party music for sad people", she goes on. "It is cathartic and joyful and punk and scuzzy and above all, it's fun. Wet Leg was originally just supposed to be funny. As a woman, there's so much put on you, in that your only value is how pretty or cool you look. But we want to be goofy and a little bit rude. We want to write songs that people can dance to. And we want people to have a good time, even if that might not possible all of the time".

The album, also called 'Wet Leg', is set for release on 8 Apr. Those two new tracks are 'Too Late Now' - "about sleepwalking into adulthood" - and 'Oh No' - "an 80s sci-fi film distilled into two minutes and 29 seconds".

Oh and here are all those tour dates:

16 Jan: London, Brixton Academy (supporting Idles)
28 Jan: Manchester, Yes
29 Jan: Bristol, The Louisiana
30 Jan: Southampton, The Joiners
1 Feb: Margate, Elsewhere
2 Feb: London, 100 Club
16 Apr: Newcastle University
17 Apr: Edinburgh, The Mash House
19 Apr: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
20 Apr: Manchester, Gorilla
21 Apr: Bristol, Trinity Centre
23 Apr: Birmingham, Institute
24 Apr: Norwich Arts Centre
26 Apr: London, Koko
27 Apr: Portsmouth, The Wedgewood Rooms


Bree Runway, Holly Humberstone and Lola Young named BRITs Rising Stars
The nominees for this year's BRITs Rising Star award have been announced. And they certainly are Bree Runway, Holly Humberstone and Lola Young.

"I feel so honoured to be recognised by the BRITs in this way", says Bree Runway. "It's all so exciting, especially as previous nominees have gone on to do such amazing things, I hope I'm struck by that same luck. Attending the BRITs alone has been something I've wanted to do for years, but attending as a Rising Star nominee is a dream".

And she was once told that she should continue to pursue music by Michelle Obama, so her benchmark for receiving praise is alright quite high. The pop musician was also longlisted in the BBC's Sound Of 2021 poll. She released her debut mixtape '2000and4eva' last year, which featured Missy Elliott and Rico Nasty. And earlier this year she put out her most recent single 'Hot Hot'.

Holly Humberstone has never met Michelle Obama as far as I know, but she has been gaining a lot of attention recently. In fact, she came second in the Sound Of 2021 poll and 'Falling Asleep At The Wheel', from her 2020 debut EP of the same name, has almost 40 million plays on Spotify. Earlier this month she released new EP ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin', which includes her collaboration with the 1975's Matt Heafy, 'Please Don’t Leave Just Yet'.

"Music has always been my entire life, and being nominated for such a prestigious award really means everything to me", says Humberstone. "Recognition from the BRITs is something I am struggling to comprehend at the moment! It's truly an honour to be nominated for the BRITs Rising Star award alongside two other incredibly inspiring female artists".

And that brings us to Lola Young, who has had radio support from the likes of Annie Mac, Clara Amfo, Jo Whiley, Giles Peterson and MistaJam. Not bad going. The BRIT School graduate also debuted her latest single, 'Fake', on 'The Late Late Show with James Corden' at the personal request of Corden himself. Oh, and she did the song on this year's John Lewis Christmas advert, a cover of 'Together In Electric Dreams'. So it's going alright for her too.

"I can't believe I've been nominated for this award", says Young. "It feels surreal and completely unexpected. I actually have to pinch myself looking at the other artists that have been nominated previously. It is such a big step for me and I feel very excited to have been nominated".

So well done to all of them, and well done to Universal Music for signing all of these rising stars that have already done quite a lot of rising. The overall winner will be announced on 10 Dec.



Steps have halted their UK tour following an outbreak of COVID-19. The group's Faye Tozer recently returned to the tour after isolating, following a positive test. Then at the weekend, Lee Latchford-Evans tested positive. Now, the group says in a statement, "further positive COVID-19 cases in our touring party ... have made continuing with the ... tour impossible". The remaining shows on the tour will be rescheduled.



Believe has acquired Indian record label Think Music. "We are very excited to extend our relationship with Believe", says Think Music founder Swaroop Reddy. "Believe's wide array of innovative, digital first solutions combined with Think Music's relentless focus on providing the best platform to film, non-film and independent artists soundtracks, will create significant value for all stakeholders".



Venue operator ASM Global has hired Tom Saunders as Programming Manager and Katie Morgan as Programming Assistant. "I'm delighted that Tom and Katie have joined our team, bringing expertise, insight and energy to the company, as our venues return to doing what they do best", says Programming Director Jame Harrison.

Warner Music has appointed Phebe Hunnicutt to the newly created role of SVP Warner Recorded Music. She joins from US video streaming service Hayu. "It's an exciting time to join Warner Music as it works with partners to tap into opportunities in rapidly developing new markets, as well as to drive innovation and offer fans new ways of enjoying music", she says. "I've navigated similar change in the media sector and want to bring my experience from that to bear in this new role".

AWAL has promoted Charlotte Birch and Nathan Liddle-Hulme to become joint Heads Of UK Marketing. "Charlotte and Nathan have proved themselves to be entrepreneurial, forward-thinking marketers, epitomising AWAL's core values of building global marketing campaigns with artists at the centre", says General Manager Paul Trueman. "Their individual marketing skills, approach and experience complement each other perfectly and together they will form a formidable force and continue to drive AWAL's marketing team forward".



Dave Grohl and Greg Kurstin have revived their Hanukkah Sessions project, which sees them cover songs by Jewish artists. First up are a metal version of Lisa Loeb's 'Stay (I Missed You)' and their take on The Ramones' 'Blitzkrieg Bop'.

FKA Twigs and Central Cee have released the video for recent single 'Measure Of A Man', recorded for upcoming film 'The King's Man'.

St Etienne have released new Christmas single 'Her Winter Coat'. The band's Bob Stanley says: "We love Christmas, as you probably know, and it feels like it's been a while since our last really Christmassy Christmas record. But I think Pete [Wiggs] has done a properly beautiful, icy, frosted, festive job on 'Her Winter Coat'".



The Libertines have announced UK tour dates in July and August next year to mark the 20th anniversary of their debut album, 'Up The Bracket'. Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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


Rihanna name National Hero of Barbados as country declares independence
Rihanna has been named a National Hero of Barbados as part of the country's celebrations as it declares itself a republic. Her official title is now The Right Excellent Robyn Rihanna Fenty. And don't you forget it.

After 396 years under British rule (albeit as an independent state within the Commonwealth since 1966), at midnight last night the Caribbean island of Barbados declared itself a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. President-elect Sandra Mason is now set to take the country on what she called "her maiden voyage" in the capital of Bridgetown.

Also in attendance at the ceremony was famous Bajan Rihanna, who received her honorary title from Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

"May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation by your words, by your actions, and to give credit wherever you shall do it", said Mottley, as the musician came to the stage.

Now, Your Right Excellence, how about that bloody new album, eh?


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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