TODAY'S TOP STORY: There has been a mixed response from the music and night-time sectors to the introduction of Plan B COVID measures in England. The Night Time Industries Association called the development "devastating news", however others have expressed relief that new COVID Passport requirements will allow venues to grant admission to those who can show a negative COVID test result as well as those with vaccine certificates... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES UK government's Plan B COVID measures for England are "devastating" says night-time sector
LEGAL Apple manages to pause injunction on alternative payment links in iOS apps
DEALS Artist First and Various Artists partner to develop new Italian talent
LIVE BUSINESS Chris Martin admits that eco touring has "a long way to go"
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Review into sexual harm and harassment in the Australian music industry launched
RELEASES Moses Sumney releases self-directed concert film
ONE LINERS Young T & Bugsey, Alice Glass, Girlpool, more
AND FINALLY... Damon Albarn says Tony Blair "terrified" him out of pursuing a career in politics
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UK government's Plan B COVID measures for England are "devastating" says night-time sector
There has been a mixed response from the music and night-time sectors to the introduction of Plan B COVID measures in England. The Night Time Industries Association called the development "devastating news", however others have expressed relief that new COVID Passport requirements will allow venues to grant admission to those who can show a negative COVID test result as well as those with vaccine certificates.

UK Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson confirmed yesterday that the government was introducing Plan B measures in a bid to constrain the spread of the so called omicron variant of COVID-19. People who can should work from home again, face masks will be mandatory in most public places, and clubs and some venues will be obliged to check COVID Passports.

The latter measure - which is the most significant for the night-time and music sectors, of course - is already in force in Scotland, Wales and, as of the start of this month, Northern Ireland.

When COVID Passports were first introduced in Scotland only those who were fully vaccinated could enter venues where such checks were mandatory. However, the rules then changed, with Scotland subsequently moving to the system already introduced in Wales, where proof of a negative COVID test is also acceptable.

That's the system that will apply in England, where COVID Passport plans were previously abandoned - or, technically speaking, relegated to Plan B.

Businesses obliged to check COVID Passports from next Wednesday include all nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people.

Although extra regulations for a live sector that is still very much recovering from nearly eighteen months of shutdown are a major hassle - especially when promoters and venues have already put in place various other COVID safety measures - some reckon a COVID Passport scheme that also accepts negative test results is more workable.

Speaking for the live music sector, Greg Parmley from LIVE said last night: "The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard that allows people to go on all-day pub crawls in crowded bars without having to prove their COVID-19 status, whilst live music venues get hit with certification. Across the country, music venues and events already have tried, tested and workable systems in place to ensure that live events continue to be safe - and these remain effective".

"However", he went on, "after such a prolonged closure throughout the pandemic it is important the industry is able to remain open and that the government have listened to the industry and included the use of lateral flow testing in COVID certification".

That latter point was echoed by the Music Venue Trust, which has been encouraging gig-goers to always take a lateral flow COVID test before attending any shows, even when such things are not being checked at the door.

Its CEO Mark Davyd said of the new regulations: "Whilst this is obviously a blow to the progress in the battle against the virus, we are pleased that the government has listened to the grassroots music venue sector and adopted a COVID Pass policy that recognises testing. MVT's #TakeaTest policy has been extremely successful in limiting infection incidents in grassroots music venues, and we welcome the news that this has been recognised in the new policy".

However, Michael Kill of the Night Time Industries Association was much more scathing of the government's decision to introduce the Plan B measures at this time.

He said: "Today's announcement of Plan B by the government is devastating news for the nightlife sector. Vaccine passports have a damaging impact on night time economy businesses, as we seen in other parts of the UK where they have been implemented like Scotland - where trade is down 30% - and Wales - where it is down 26%".

The announcement that Plan B measures were being introduced came as Johnson and his government dealt with headline-grabbing allegations that the Prime Minister's own team at Ten Downing Street ignored the COVID rules that were in force this time last year so that they could have a Christmas party. Johnson, of course, has been seeking to battle that scandal with the usual torrent of bullshit, though with that strategy not really working this time, some have speculated he is now employing that other favoured political tool, the distraction tactic.

Noting that speculation, Kill added that the government's own research concluded that COVID Passports "wouldn't even have a significant impact on virus transmission - they don't stop the spread of COVID but they do damage trade. You do, therefore, have to question the timing and rationale for this announcement. Is this sound evidence-based public policy making or is this an attempt to move the news agenda on from a damaging story about the Downing Street Christmas party? It feels that nightclubs and bars have been thrown under the bus by the Prime Minister for him to save his own skin".

The PM has obviously denied that the introduction of Plan B measures has anything to do with the latest scandal he is navigating. Though, of course, even if the timing is a coincidence, the two things are still connected, with the scandal potentially impacting on the extent to which people will adhere to the new rules.

Kill concluded that the owners of night-time businesses "who have already sacrificed so much during the pandemic, will be asking - 'why are we being asked to carry more of the burden when it seems that the most senior government officials felt they didn’t need to do their bit?'"


Apple manages to pause injunction on alternative payment links in iOS apps
Apple won't have to allow all app makers to include links to alternative payment options within iOS apps from later today after the Ninth Circuit appeals court in the US granted the tech giant a last minute reprieve, pausing an injunction instigated by a lower court.

That injunction came as part of Apple's legal battle with Fortnite maker Epic Games. Like many app makers, including Spotify, Epic argues that Apple's App Store rules are anti-competitive.

A particular gripe is that all in-app purchases on iOS apps must be taken using Apple's commission charging transactions platform, and alternative payment options elsewhere on the internet cannot be linked to from within the app.

When Epic took the matter to the Californian courts, actually most of its competition law arguments against Apple failed. However the judge there did issue the injunction ordering Apple to allow app makers to sign-post alternative payment options.

The tech giant has already agreed to allow alternative payment links in so called reader apps - which includes Spotify - as part of a settlement with a regulator in Japan. However, it really doesn't want to allow such links across the board and so has been busy trying to get the injunction stayed.

To that end, Apple argued that because both it and Epic are appealing the wider judgement in the Californian case, the injunction should be paused until that appeal is done. Even though that will likely take years. The judge who issued the injunction rejected that argument, so Apple's lawyers took the matter to the Ninth Circuit.

Epic and an assortment of other app makers told the appeals court that the injunction should still apply from 9 Dec as planned, because it was a "vital cure for an extremely harmful and anticompetitive practice". However, with twelve hours to go before said injunction was due to go into force, the Ninth Circuit judges said: "Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court's determination".

That doesn't actually cancel the injunction, of course, but it does delay everything somewhat. Epic hasn't as yet commented on the ruling. The gaming firm has also launched litigation in relation to Apple's App Store rules in other jurisdictions, while regulators are also investigating the rules in multiple countries, including an EU investigation prompted by a complaint from Spotify.


Artist First and Various Artists partner to develop new Italian talent
Italian music company Artist First and UK artist management firm Various Artists have announced a new partnership, which will see them work together to develop Italian acts for the global market.

"Italy is currently enjoying a musical renaissance thanks in no small part to Måneskin's success in this year's Eurovision Song Contest", says Artist First CEO Claudio Ferrante. "We already have a great relationship with David Bianchi and the team at Various Artists Management, and are looking forward to combining the strengths of our two companies to help create more opportunities for Italian artists to reach a global audience".

The there mentioned Various Artists CEO David Bianchi adds: "Artist First is a wonderful success story in Italy and has been at the forefront of innovation in the music industry there for many years. They are incredibly ambitious and eager to build a presence in the international marketplace, so it is an absolute privilege to have formed this alliance with them and to be part of this exciting new chapter in their story. There is some incredible Italian talent, which is deserving of a wider audience and we are joining forces to help that happen".


Chris Martin admits that eco touring has "a long way to go"
Chris Martin has admitted that there is still "a long way to go" to make touring entirely environmentally friendly. However, he says, with the plans Coldplay have put in place for their world tour next year, they have been able to make their live shows more sustainable in ways the band "didn't dream were possible".

Speaking to Ken Bruce on BBC Radio 2, Martin said: "We've been working with some amazing brains to see how we can cut down as much of the environmental impact as possible. We still have quite a long way to go, but we've already come quite a long way. And there are some things that we didn't dream were possible [that] are possible".

Coldplay, of course, announced in 2019 that they would not tour again until doing so could be made "environmentally beneficial". The world then went into an extended period when they couldn't tour anyway, but in October this year they announced plans for 2022 dates, which would employ various pieces of technology and other initiatives in order to reduce the environmental impact of the shows.

For example, the gigs will be powered entirely by renewable energy, including via solar installations at every venue, waste cooking oil, a kinetic stadium floor that will generate energy from fans dancing, and kinetic bikes that fans can ride on to provide power to the show while they wait for it to start.

Audience members will also be encouraged to travel to shows in the most environmentally friendly way possible - with discounts in the venue for those who do - and there will be drinking water freely and readily available at every concert in an effort to cut down on plastic waste. A tree will also be planted for each ticket sold.

While these shows might not actually be "environmentally beneficial" as yet, the tour will test various different ways to lessen the impact of touring, the learnings from which can then be taken on board by other artists. One of the remaining issues, of course, is the air travel between countries, not least because the band have admitted that they will continue to use private jets.


Review into sexual harm and harassment in the Australian music industry launched
A sector wide review of sexual harm, sexual harassment and systematic discrimination within the Australian music industry has been announced. The review has been commissioned by a special working group that convened earlier this year.

That group came together amid mounting allegations of bad working practices and misconduct within the music business. The working practices of the Australian music industry at large - and certain music companies in particular - have become an even bigger talking point since then, following the high profile axing of long-time Sony Music Australia boss Denis Handlin in June, who was accused of overseeing a toxic corporate culture at the major's division in the country.

The Music Industry Review is being supported by Australian collecting societies APRA AMCOS and PPCA, record industry trade group ARIA, and music industry charity Support Act.

It will be led by consultants Alexandra Shehadie and Sam Turner who, organisers say, "bring extensive collective experience and leadership to this review, specifically in relation to safe, inclusive and respectful workplace culture, diversity and inclusion, gender equality, and the prevention of and effective responses to sexual violence, including sexual harassment".

The review will be conducted in the first half of 2022, with a series of focus groups, one-on-one interviews, an online survey, and a confidential online written submission process beginning in February. Based on all that work a report will then be published identifying key issues and themes, and making recommendations for how the industry can improve.

Commenting on the review and the appointment of Shehadie and Turner to lead on it, the aforementioned working group said in a statement that it was important to hear from the "most vulnerable members" of the Australian music community.

"Only through this survivor-centric approach can we understand the problems that allow for systemic abuse and sexual harassment to occur in our industry", they added

"The journey to appoint independent consultants Alex and Sam has been immense, and is a big step in pushing for real change", they said, adding that the initiative now "requires an industry-wide commitment - financially and emotionally". The process is "not about blame" they went on, but about coming together to build the kind of "safe industry we all deserve to work in".


On The CMU Stereo 2021 - Spring
We're on to part two of our 2021 playlist - and a selection of tracks that arrived in the spring to further build up the soundtrack to our year.

We kick things off with Sinead O'Brien's 'Kid Stuff' - the second spoken word contribution to the playlist, after Dry Cleaning in our winter selection.

Spoken word also makes up a portion of the next track, one of the best album openers we've heard in some time, Little Simz's 'Introvert'. Taken from her 'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert' LP, it sets the tone for the record with real grandeur. For this album, it seems, the rapper's budgets finally caught up with her creativity, and she used both to great effect.

Another artist who has been in that situation for a while is St Vincent, who turned in another great addition to her catalogue with 'Daddy's Home' this year. With pandemic restrictions still putting touring out of the picture, she also played one of the year's best livestreams to mark the release too - a journey through songs new and old. That and the album showed an artist still at the top of her game.

Right at the start of their journey, Wet Leg emerged with their debut single 'Chaise Longue' in June and caused quite a stir. Our CMU Approved article on them picked up the most traffic of any in that column this year - maybe any year - by some distance. And, thankfully, subsequent singles have maintained the same level of quality.

Making her second appearance on our playlist is Doja Cat. She opened proceedings featuring on Saweetie's 'Best Friend'. Now she's back in her own right on 'You Right' from her brilliant 'Planet Her' album. That record featured a whole load of big tracks and collaborations. Here she's joined by The Weeknd.

There's plenty more to dig into here besides those tracks, including Chvrches' collaboration with The Cure's Robert Smith, something deeply atmospheric from Jorja Chalmers, and all-out fun from Illuminati Hotties.

Listen to these tracks, plus our winter selections, on our Spotify playlist here, and come back next week for our summer and autumn choices.

Here are the ten tracks on our spring playlist:

Sinead O'Brien - Kid Stuff
Little Simz - Introvert
Illuminati Hotties - MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA
St Vincent - Down
Reb Fountain - Heart
Jorja Chalmers - I'll Be Waiting
Chvrches - How Not To Drown (feat Robert Smith)
Wet Leg - Chaise Longue
Doja Cat - You Right
Kurtis Wells - A Song About The Sun


Moses Sumney releases self-directed concert film
Moses Sumney has released a new live film, called 'Blackalachia', which he directed, and which features performances of songs from his 'Græ' and 'Aromanticism' albums that were staged in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

"Over the course of two days, we filmed fourteen songs, totally live, the trees as our audience, the grasshoppers our background singers", says Sumney. "The film is a wild imagining of what can happen when we seek not just to reclaim nature, but to reintegrate with it".

The film was funded by WeTransfer's WePresent platform. Its Editor-In-Chief and Executive Producer, Holly Fraser, says: "'Blackalachia' was filmed during the pandemic when musicians were unable to perform to live crowds. WePresent was able to support Sumney in bringing this stunning and layered film to life during this difficult time and now we are able to finally share it with the world on our platform".

Last month, WePresent also released a short film made by Little Simz, based on her song 'I Love You, I Hate You'.

Watch 'Blackalachia' here.



Young T & Bugsey have announced new mixtape 'Truth Be Told', which is set for release on 21 Jan. Here's new single 'Roberto C', feat Unknown T.

Alice Glass has released 'Fair Game', another track from her upcoming debut solo album, 'Prey//IV', which is out on 28 Jan.

Girlpool are back with new single 'Faultline'.

Tyondai Braxton has released two new tracks: 'Dia' and 'Phonolydian'. More new music is set for release in 2022.

A Place To Bury Strangers have released new single 'Hold On Tight'. New album, 'See Through You', is out on 4 Feb and they will play Lafayette in London on 2 Apr.

Tennin has released new single 'Set Up'.

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


Damon Albarn says Tony Blair "terrified" him out of pursuing a career in politics
Damon Albarn says that back in the 1990s he was considering a career move into politics, but a meeting with Tony Blair "terrified" him so much he gave up on the idea.

"Politics is such a murky business", Albarn tells Metro. "I would be lying if I said I hadn't considered it when I was younger. I even went and had a strategic meeting with Tony Blair before he became Prime Minister, but that terrified me so much. [I thought] 'I don't know if this is for me at all - I'm not a politician, I am a musician'".

Albarn has previously spoken about this meeting, but didn't reveal that it was with a view to him getting into politics himself. In 2015, he told Channel 4 News that the meeting had left him feeling "terrified about Tony Blair", adding: "I picked up on something kind of odd about him that I didn't understand. I was a bit scared of him, if I'm honest with you".

While he may have been put off getting into politics, Albarn's Blur bandmate Dave Rowntree has been involved at a local level for many years. After several attempts to become elected as a Labour councillor, he became county councillor for the University division in Norwich in 2017.


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)
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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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