FRIDAY 17 DECEMBER 2021 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: Four Tet was yesterday given permission to amend his lawsuit against Domino to include new allegations that the label is in breach of contract for removing his albums from the streaming services. Although that added complication could see the dispute transfer to the main High Court, and it's unlikely that the musician will be able to afford to pursue the litigation in that forum... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Four Tet allowed to add new legal claims over album takedowns in Domino dispute
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LEGAL Astroworld deaths the result of "compression asphyxia", medical examiner confirms
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DEALS Warner Music acquires 300 Entertainment
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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Independent publishers say that re-slicing the digital pie is the "defining issue" of the moment
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LIVE BUSINESS Rishi Sunak insists government will support businesses affected by latest COVID surge, though without any specifics as yet
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MEDIA Universal's Mercury Studios to partner with BBC on music documentaries
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ONE LINERS LadBaby, The Kunts, Aaliyah, more
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AND FINALLY... Rage Against The Machine named number one Christmas number one
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Check out all the latest job opportunities with CMU Jobs. To advertise your job opportunities here email advertising@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060.
   
BAND ON THE WALL - BOX OFFICE & TICKETING MANAGER (MANCHESTER)
Band On The Wall is recruiting a Box Office and Ticketing Manager to join its growing team, ahead of the venue reopening in spring 2022.

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FOUNDATION.FM - EXECUTIVE PRODUCER (LONDON)
Foundation.fm is the leading platform championing the hottest emerging female, non binary and queer talent in the UK: an online community radio station, talent management agency and record label. The Executive Producer runs the day-to-day operation of the radio station, and is tasked with hitting audience, staffing and output requirements.

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GONDWANA RECORDS - JUNIOR PRODUCT MANAGER (REMOTE)
Gondwana Records is seeking a dynamic, self-motivated and highly organised full time Product Manager. The chosen candidate will assist with the day to day project management of the artist roster and releases and reporting directly to the Label Manager and General Manager.

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Hardwick & Morris is a firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Managers specialising in music and entertainment. It is looking for a manager or senior manager to join our exciting team.

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UD - HEAD ENGINEER (LONDON)
UD Music is looking for an experienced Head Engineer to run its brand new suite of studios at The Talent House.

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NINJA TUNE - DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER (LONDON/REMOTE)
The Digital Marketing Manager is the key bridge between Ninja Tune's Marketing, Streaming and Social Media teams, ensuring all its release marketing plans are at the cutting edge in order to maximise its artists' footprint across ever-changing social media, streaming and creative marketing worlds.

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The Columbo Group is looking for a Marketing Manager to work on The Blues Kitchen and The Old Queens Head, with responsibilities including event promotion, running social media platforms and developing venue marketing strategies.

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The CMU Library is our online educational resource for the music industry, full of guides, briefings and reports from CMU Trends, CMU Insights and CMU:DIY. You can browse the Library and access all the resources by using the links below...
THE MUSIC INDUSTRY MUSIC COPYRIGHT
THE RECORD INDUSTRY THE MUSIC PUBLISHING SECTOR
THE STREAMING BUSINESS THE LIVE MUSIC SECTOR
THE DIRECT-TO-FAN BUSINESS MUSIC MARKETING

Four Tet allowed to add new legal claims over album takedowns in Domino dispute
Four Tet was yesterday given permission to amend his lawsuit against Domino to include new allegations that the label is in breach of contract for removing his albums from the streaming services. Although that added complication could see the dispute transfer to the main High Court, and it's unlikely that the musician will be able to afford to pursue the litigation in that forum.

The legal battle between Four Tet - real name Kieran Hebden - and Domino has been under way for a year now. Hebden argues that under the terms of his 2001 record deal with Domino he should be getting a 50% royalty on all or most of the monies generated by the streaming of the records he made for the label.

It's the latest in a series of lawsuits between artists and labels over how old record deals are interpreted when it comes to new recorded music revenue streams, which is an issue because record contracts often pay artists different royalty rates depending on how the music is being exploited.

Most of the litigation on this issue to date has occurred in the US, though artists have criticised labels over the interpretation of old deals in the digital age in countries all around the world.

Hebden's lawsuit basically says his old record deal has been incorrectly interpreted when it comes to streams. For its part, Domino counters that his claim is an incorrect reading of the 20 year old record contract.

Although Hebden's deal was done before the digital music market had really got started, the Standard Royalty Provisions that accompanied his record contract did have a royalty rate for downloads - which was 18% - and that rate, the label argues, should also apply to streams.

This whole dispute became much more newsworthy last month when Domino removed the Four Tet albums covered by the 2001 record deal from the streaming services, a mere two weeks before the digital royalties earned by artists were set to be discussed in Parliament as the controversial copyright law reforms proposed by Labour MP Kevin Brennan got their second reading in the House Of Commons.

Hebden took to social media to criticise the removal of his old records from the streaming services, writing: "I'm so upset to see that Domino Records have removed the three albums of mine they own from digital and streaming services. This is heartbreaking to me. People are reaching out asking why they can't stream the music and I'm sad to have to say that it's out of my control".

Facing a flood of criticism from music fans and other artists, Domino issued a statement saying it was "just as saddened about this current situation", but that the label had been advised by its lawyers that "temporarily removing the Four Tet albums from digital services" was "a necessary consequence of Kieran's litigation at this time”.

The dispute was due to properly get to court next month. However, it transpired that Domino was seeking a summary judgement in its favour ahead of that hearing, while Hebden's side announced that it wanted to amend its lawsuit to include additional complaints in relation to the takedown of the Four Tet albums.

Both those developments were discussed at an online hearing yesterday.

Domino's legal rep explained that while the label did not agree with Hebden's interpretation of the old deal, it had nevertheless offered to pay him what he would be due had the 50% rate been applied on past streams, and also to cover his legal costs. With the old recordings now removed from the streaming services, that would technically mean there is no active dispute for the court to intervene on.

Of course, that would presumably mean the removal of the three Four Tet albums would be permanent not temporary, meaning neither Domino nor Hebden could earn any future royalties from those records. However, the label would avoid a court battle that might set a precedent that could be applied to the interpretation of other old record deals, both Domino deals and across the record industry.

Heden's side countered at yesterday's hearing that the removal of the Four Tet records - a "deliberate, cynical and outrageous" move, Hebden's lawyer stated - created another dispute, which is why the musician's team wanted the court to allow it to submit an amended complaint.

In fact, Hebden's lawyer argued, the takedown of his client's albums created two disputes. First, another breach of contract dispute, because - under the 2001 deal - Domino was obliged to release any recordings that were made. And secondly, a restraint of trade dispute.

The principle of restraint of trade has come up during disagreements over UK record and music publishing deals at various points over the years, the landmark case - repeatedly cited during yesterday's hearing - being Schroeder v Macaulay from all the way back in 1974. Although restraint of trade disputes involving artists like Holly Johnson, George Michael and The Stone Roses are possibly better known.

In restraint of trade cases, the key question to be answered is whether contract terms that restrict the ability of people to trade with others are reasonable, given that people being free to conduct all and any business is generally good for society at large.

In the context of the music industry, these cases have often focused on record and publishing deals where a label or publisher automatically owns the copyright in any recordings or songs an artist creates, but isn't under any obligation to release or publish the music. Where the label or publisher then fails to exploit the artist's works, said artist is unable to make a living from their new recordings or songwriting.

The Four Tet v Domino dispute is slightly different to most of those other restraint of trade cases, in that the label doesn't have any claim over his new recordings, which he can exploit however he sees fit. So, by Domino removing the albums from the streaming services, Hebden is not prevented from making a living from recordings, just those specific recordings.

Domino's rep also pointed out that Hedben is in control of his song rights, so could record new versions of the old tracks and release them himself.

Artists re-recording old music to cut out an old label has obviously become a much bigger talking point in recent years as a result of Taylor Swift's big bust up with her old label Big Machine, and her subsequent high profile re-records project.

That said, as Hebden's lawyer pointed out during yesterday's hearing, the practicalities and legalities of re-records are arguably different when it comes to the kind of electronic music that his client makes.

Either way, none of that will be relevant as this case proceeds, because - although judge Pat Treacy did give Hebden's team permission to file an amended lawsuit - she said that she would only allow amendments in relation to the new breach of contract claim, not the restraint of trade allegations.

That new breach of contract allegation depends very much on how Domino's contractural obligation to 'release' Hebden's music is interpreted in the context of the streaming age. Which, of course, is basically the same challenge as with the original royalty rate dispute: how do you interpret old contracts in the context of a music world that neither party could have anticipated when the original deal was negotiated?

In a way, this is one of the most important questions of the whole debate around the streaming business and especially how artists get paid. The question often asked is "what is a fair way to share streaming money between artist and label?" But the honest answer to that question is always: "Well, it depends". So, "what's the fair way to interpret old deals when it comes to new revenue streams?" is a much more interesting question.

It's an increasingly important question now that we are in an age where significant new recorded music revenue streams, which employ significantly different business models, come along every few years. And given that - where artists sign life of copyright deals, so that the label will control any recording rights until the copyright expires - artists and labels are basically entering into 100 year+ business partnerships.

All of which makes this specific dispute very relevant to the wider streaming debate. As does one final aspect of yesterday's hearing.

The latest developments mean that this case will no longer get to court next month, and will likely be delayed by several months, and maybe up to a year.

Plus, the case is currently being heard in the specialist Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, which is important for Heden because any potential liabilities to cover the other side's legal costs are capped in this forum.

However, the Domino side argues that the latest developments mean this case is now too complex to be heard in the IP court, which is designed for simpler and speedier disputes. Therefore, they claim, the lawsuit should be transferred to one of the main divisions of the High Court.

Although judge Treacy did not rule on that proposal yesterday, she seemed to share the label's concern that this case may no longer be appropriate for the IP court.

However, Hedben's lawyer was clear, his client cannot afford to take the case to the main High Court, because his potential liabilities to cover the other side's costs would significantly increase. A transfer to the High Court, therefore, would kill the case.

That, of course, would be a major setback for Hebden. Although, in the context of the wider streaming debate, that development could be just as important.

Artists, songwriters and their managers have long argued that a major problem in the music industry is that only the superstars can ever afford to fight labels and publishers on contract disputes. And that's a key argument in favour of a contract adjustment right being enshrined into copyright law, with some sort of fast track tribunal to hear disputes.

If Hebden's case falters because of legal technicalities and a lack of financial resources, groups campaigning for artists will argue that that's a major failing of the system. And, they will add, if politicians actually care about music-makers, they should fix that failing system, most likely by amending copyright law.

Now, for some labels, a contract adjustment right is the least problematic of the copyright reforms proposed by Kevin Brennan MP, not least because some labels have already interpreted old record deals in a much more artist-friendly way.

Though, at the same time, at least some labels seem likely to oppose any copyright reforms in this domain. And, with this reform, they'll likely argue that they renegotiate old record deals all the time, so a formal contract adjustment right isn't necessary.

A decision on whether the Four Tet v Domino case should transfer to the High Court will be made once Heden's amended complaint, and Domino's response to it, have been submitted early next year.

Those filings and subsequent decisions will come as the UK government continues to seek an industry-led voluntary solution to address all the various issues that have been raised in Parliament about how the streaming music business works.

Meaning, however it turns out, Four Tet v Domino is an important dispute that the industry will continue to follow closely.

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Astroworld deaths the result of "compression asphyxia", medical examiner confirms
The deaths of ten people at last month's Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas were accidental, the Harris County Medical Examiner ruled yesterday. Those ten deaths were the result of "compression asphyxia", caused by the crowd surge that occurred during Travis Scott's headline set at the festival he founded.

The ten victims were aged between nine and 27. Only one of the deaths was found to have other contributing factors, cited by officials as the "combined toxic effects of cocaine, methamphetamine and ethanol".

In addition to the ten who died, hundreds more were injured during the crowd surge. A criminal investigation continues into whether decision making by event organisers - including promoters Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary - contributed to the tragedy.

Meanwhile, hundreds of festival-goers have now sued Scott, Live Nation and others, with billions of dollars in damages being sought.

In addition to the specific legalities around Astroworld 2021, some are also calling for new regulations for large-scale events across America to ensure that a tragedy of this kind can never happen again.

And, according to Billboard, Scott himself has got involved in one initiative that is seeking to bring together the music industry, government, healthcare providers and the event management sector to consider new standards and safety measures for festivals that could be applied US-wide.

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Warner Music acquires 300 Entertainment
Warner Music has - as expected - acquired 300 Entertainment, the music company co-founded by Lyor Cohen eight years ago.

The deal will see another of its co-founders, and the company’s current CEO, Kevin Liles, appointed as Chair and CEO of both 300 and the major's Elektra Music Group division. He previously worked at Warner alongside Cohen back in the 2000s.

"At 300, we're all about freedom", says Liles. "The freedom to create, the freedom to be intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs, the freedom to make music that changes the world. Independence is in our DNA and the team at Warner is like family, which makes this a natural evolution for us to do bigger family business".

In addition to Liles having previously worked at Warner, 300 has also had a long distribution partnership with the major. Hence all that "family" nonsense.

"[Warner is] the perfect home for 300 artists and our team, as we invest in our independent vision and grow our global impact", he insists. "They understand the value we place on independence, individuality and creativity. We're going to accomplish amazing things together and take our artists and labels to a whole new global level".

So, there you go. Everything is very much independent, despite 300 now being owned by a major music rights company. Please, everybody, do note that. Done it? Good.

The CEO of that major's recorded music division, Max Lousada, says: "At Warner Music, the independent spirit is part of our story, our DNA, and our vision. We're creating the environment for original artists, entrepreneurs, and labels to pioneer the future of music”.

"The 300 team has built an extraordinary brand, attracted a dynamic community of artists, and led the way for a new generation of labels", he goes on. "We'll bring their artists and team a whole universe of opportunities to ignite passionate fanbases and develop long-term careers. We're very happy to welcome 300 fully into the Warner community of labels, and Kevin to his new role on our senior management team".

Yeah, right, OK. Everyone's independent. It's all one big party where everyone is their own person. What does Lyor Cohen think though? We should know that, even if he's not involved with the company anymore, having departed in 2016 when he joined YouTube.

"Wonderful to see a good idea realised", says Cohen. "300 is a way of life and is in very good hands". Phew, despite his independence, he’s on board.

When Cohen launched 300 in 2013 - having departed his executive position at Warner Music the previous year - the big idea behind the start-up music company was that it would be better suited to the digital age by staying small but working with big budgets. And it has indeed proven very successful with artists such as Megan Thee Stallion and Young Thug.

Now, of course, we all know that everyone is talking up just how very bloody independent 300 is going to remain. But we will see if a company set up to be more versatile than the majors can actually remain so now that it is part of a major.

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Independent publishers say that re-slicing the digital pie is the "defining issue" of the moment
The International Music Publishers Forum has launched a report reviewing the independent music publishing sector in 2020, with the study's key conclusion being that the good old digital pie needs to be re-sliced to the song's advantage.

The report summarises key trends in the songs business last year and the impact of the COVID pandemic on music publishers and songwriters. Most of those trends have been identified in earlier reports, though this one specifically hones in on where independent music publishers fit in.

By the IMPF's maths, independent publishers accounted for about 28% of the music publishing market in 2020, which equates to about 1.68 billion euros in revenue. And of the top 50 most streamed songs on Spotify in various key markets, on average 46.8% were works that involve an indie publisher. The amount is lower in the UK and US (40% and 32% respectively), but higher in France and Japan (52% and 76%).

In terms of trends, obviously the songs side of the business was much harder hit by COVID-19 than the record industry, because the royalties generated by the live and public performance of music are much more important for songwriters and publishers.

And while it was live and public performance that was hardest hit, some broadcast and sync revenue streams also wobbled during the initial COVID lockdowns, and they too are key revenues in the music publishing sector.

Digital income in the main increased, of course, with the streaming boom unaffected by COVID-19, and that helped counter the losses elsewhere to an extent. Except, when it comes to streaming income, a much bigger portion is allocated to recordings than songs.

The split of streaming monies between songs and recordings is one of the key elements of the long running digital pie debate, which has escalated during the pandemic.

Although, of late, in the UK - where the digital pie conversation became a big political debate, of course - more focus has fallen on how the 50-55% of streaming monies allocated to recordings are shared between artists and labels.

In terms of increasing the 10-15% of streaming income allocated to songs, in the context of the UK #fixstreaming campaign, some would argue that the Competition & Markets Authority market study into the dominance of the majors is key.

That's based on the argument that the majors being so dominant in recordings and songs is skewing things. Because with record deals the label generally gets a majority of the money, whereas with publishing deals the writer does. So if you have big catalogues of both recordings and songs, you'd prefer more streaming money to flow down the label side of the business.

The major publishers deny that they are hindered in deal negotiations by their sister record label divisions. And, in the US, where streaming royalties for songs are set in copyright law and decided by the Copyright Royalty Board - and it's the streaming services rather than the labels which are the opponents in any hearings to set the rates - the National Music Publishers Association, of which the majors are key members, is pushing for an increase in the song's share to 20%.

Generally the indie publishers - especially those with no significant interest in recordings - are more vocal on the need to re-slice the digital pie. Although they don't always argue that any increase for the song should come from the recordings allocation, implying that maybe the streaming service's cut should be reduced too.

In its report, IMPF goes big on the digital pie debate, saying it's the "defining issue" for the publishing sector today. Though - while noting that labels are doing much better out of the streaming boom than the publishers - it also suggests that any re-slicing of the pie might involve the streaming services taking a smaller share.

"The issue of streaming rates is the most important and urgent priority for the wider community to address", the report states. "It is, in fact, the defining issue of where we are at and where we are heading".

"Rates for publishers have been low from the outset", it goes on. "While record labels are reporting dramatic increases in revenues from streaming services, the publishing sector - and therefore the songwriters and composers they represent - does not benefit from this growth".

Reviewing the approximate splits of the digital pie - with the song getting the smaller share - it then adds: "This is occurring at a time when the song itself is becoming more valuable as the business moves away from albums towards a track-based model. Simply put, songwriters, [collecting societies] and publishers need to generate a larger share of digital revenue".

"The amount of revenue that streaming services make off the back of the work of creators and the gross disparity and inequality of what they pay out has reached scandalous proportions", it concludes. "Streaming services need to increase their support for the work of composers and authors by paying up and paying fair!"

Of course, some would argue that - while the digital pie may well need re-slicing to the song's advantage - there is another "important and urgent priority" for the music publishing sector today, which is dealing with the ongoing inefficiencies and inaccuracies in the way song rights are licensed and song royalties processed.

Those widely acknowledged inefficiencies all result in overly high admin costs, monies routinely going to the wrong people, and the wider publishing sector struggling to quickly respond to new digital opportunities as they arise.

The solution there, of course, is to address the music rights sector's ongoing, never-ending and truly devastating data problems. But, admittedly, re-slicing pies seems a lot more Christmassy than fixing spreadsheets, so maybe IMPF is right to focus on the former at this time of year. Now I want a mince pie. And songwriters to get paid fairly, that too. But mainly a mince pie. Well, the mince pie first.

Meanwhile, here is the IMPF report.

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Rishi Sunak insists government will support businesses affected by latest COVID surge, though without any specifics as yet
The UK's Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak has insisted that the government will support those businesses negatively impacted by the last surge in COVID-19 cases, although he provided few specifics, and insisted that the current priority is getting as many people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as possible.

Sunak, who has been in California this week, has come under increased pressure to provide new financial support to hospitality and live entertainment businesses as the omicron variant of COVID-19 rapidly spreads across the UK.

Although Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson has insisted he won't instigate a new lockdown in England, at the same time statements issued by ministers and officials are increasingly encouraging people to stay home to restrict the spread of the virus.

This - reps for the hospitality and night-time businesses argue - has created a quasi or pseudo lockdown. Technically clubs, venues, bars and restaurants can open, but their customers are being told to stay at home.

Sunak's absence from recent official COVID briefings was notable as an increasing number of sectors started to call for new financial support for affected business, whether that be grants, loans or further tax breaks. Responding, the Chancellor said yesterday that he and his team had been in talks with representatives of affected sectors.

"This government has done whatever it takes at every stage to support lives and livelihoods throughout this pandemic - and of course we will continue to do so", he stated. "Myself and my wider team met with business representatives earlier today, listened to their concerns and will continue to work with industry leaders over the coming days".

However, in the absence of any specific support schemes, he finished his statement talking up the need for everyone to get fully vaccinated against COVID, including getting that third booster jab. "To keep safeguarding our economic recovery and the lives and livelihoods of the British people”, he added, “our priority is now to make sure everyone has the opportunity to get boosted".

While Johnson continues to resist formal lockdown measures in England, the COVID rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are, of course, set at a country level. And Wales has announced new restrictions that include clubs closing again entirely from 27 Dec, just before the all important New Years Eve festivities get underway.

Responding to that development, the Night Time Industries Association has announced that it is considering legal action against the Welsh government.

NTIA CEO Michael Kill said last night: "We are astounded at the actions of the Welsh government this evening, the consistent targeting of the nightclub and late night economy sector has gone too far. It is very clear that the Welsh government have purposefully placed restrictions on an industry with no supporting evidence".

"Nightclubs and the late night economy have been at the sharpest end of the pandemic, and have upheld the public heath strategy within Wales for over two years, with closures and mounting debts", he added. "We have been placed in an untenable position and will now have no choice but to come out fighting. The sector will be considering it’s legal options following this announcement".

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Universal's Mercury Studios to partner with BBC on music documentaries
BBC Studios and Universal Music's media division Mercury Studios have agreed a new deal to develop "a diverse pipeline of music-driven returnable IP". That's "TV programmes" to you and me. Documentaries specifically.

The deal with see Mercury Studios team up with the BBC Studios Documentary Unit on a range of subjects, all with music or music talent at their centre.

"When you combine two powerhouses - the global reach and musical heritage of BBC Studios with the capabilities and insight of Mercury Studios, it makes for a very formidable partnership", says Mercury Studios CEO Alice Webb. "Collaborating with BBC Studios opens the door for both sides to look beyond the usual artist-focussed documentaries and use music as a lens to create innovative content".

Alan Holland, Head Of Documentary Unit at BBC Studios Production, adds: "This partnership has the potential to deliver something incredibly special for documentary lovers and music fans alike. The sheer breadth of the BBC Studios Docs Unit's genre expertise and our skills in filmmaking means we can tell stories from a fresh perspective and in a range of new and unexpected forms".

Under the partnership, programmes will be developed for UK and international audiences.

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End of year playlists
It's very nearly the end of the year, which is traditionally a time to reflect. Who wants to reflect on 2021 though? None of us, am I right? But you could reflect on all the great music that came out this year. There was absolutely loads. And to jog your memory, we've put together some playlists...

On The CMU Stereo 2021
Our annual round up of 40 of our favourite tracks of the year - ten from each season - is now complete and it is a real classic of the format. So many great tracks across so many different genres and styles of music. Artists in there include Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, St Vincent, Chvrches, Wet Leg, Dave, Halsey, James Blake, The Bug, Los Bitchos, BXKS, Reb Fountain and more. Listen here.

CMU Approved in 2021
Throughout the year, of course, we bring you lots of new music via our CMU Approved column, where we hunt out emerging artists we love. This year's playlist is also a great one, featuring some music you'll now be familiar with (especially if you've already listened to the previous playlist) and more that you might have missed. This includes Wet Leg, Los Bitchos, Pyra, Sinead O'Brien, Meet Me @ The Altar, Alewya, July Jones, Hamish Hawk and more. Listen here.

Brand New On CMU
Not an end of the year playlist, but it is the last of our weekly playlists rounding up the week's new releases of 2021. It's a relatively short one due to the proximity to Christmas, but there's still a decent enough selection featuring Christmas singles, Animal Collective, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Boys Noize, Napalm Death, and more. Listen here.
 

DEALS

Warner Chappell has renewed its publishing deal with the estate of George Michael, covering his entire catalogue, both solo and with Wham! "George Michael is one of the greatest songwriters of all time", say Warner Chappell co-Chairs Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall. "We all still miss his engaging personality, but he's left the most incredible legacy in the form of his songs and performances. We take our responsibility to curate and promote his catalogue incredibly seriously, because even the greatest songs still need energetic champions".

Hey, you know that big Bruce Springsteen deal we mentioned yesterday? Well, Sony's confirmed it now, so we can stop pretending there's a chance it might not have happened. "I am one artist who can truly say that when I signed with Columbia Records in 1972, I came to the right place", says Springo. "During the last 50 years, the men and women of Sony Music have treated me with the greatest respect as an artist and as a person. I'm THRILLED that my legacy will continue to be cared for by the company and people I know and trust".

Reservoir has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Michael League and his band Snarky Puppy. As part of the deal, Reservoir will also represent League’s GroundUP Music label and publishing company. "I couldn't be more excited to open a new door not just for myself, but for all of my friends and fellow writers at GroundUP Music, as we join together with the incredibly hard-working and motivated team at Reservoir", says League. "I have no doubt that this will take our music to new places and fresh ears".

Sentric Music and Nick Halkes have signed songwriter and producer Elaine Mai as part of their ongoing joint venture. "From the first time we were introduced, I got a great feeling about collaborating with Nick and the team at Sentric", she says. "Nick's exceptional industry expertise is coupled with a huge passion for music and helping artists develop and grow their careers. I'm really excited to see where this partnership takes us".

Universal Music Publishing has signed a global publishing and production music agreement with Banijay Brands, which represents TV shows including 'Peaky Blinders' and 'Lego Masters'. "This new partnership with one of the leading, most ambitious and creative new media companies in the world is an extremely important one for UMPG, not only in the UK but globally. We look forward to a mutually successful collaboration", says UMPG UK MD Mike McCormack.

Boutique music publisher Wardlaw Music - founded by Stanley Banks and Julian Lyons in 2004 - has joined digital licensing group IMPEL. "It became very apparent that Wardlaw Music should join our fellow independents as members of IMPEL", says Banks. "Logistically speaking, it was a no brainier. Our combined rights and collective voices mean we are all heard and represented when digital rights are discussed and negotiated with parties that would seek to exploit such rights".

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APPOINTMENTS

Downtown Music has announced a number of new appointments in its global finance and investment teams. Jan Peter Kerstens is to become Downtown's CFO (having previously held the same role at its FUGA division). Making way, current CFO Alan Goodstadt will become Chief Investment Officer. Meanwhile, Director Of Financial Planning & Analysis Becca Klein is switching to VP Financial Planning & Analysis.

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RELEASES

Right, this is it then. The race to Christmas number one starts today. So, this morning, LadBaby have released their sausage roll themed cover of Ed Sheeran and Elton John's 'Merry Christmas Everyone'. Sheeran and John appear on that version too, pretty much guaranteeing them the Christmas number one and number two this year. Which order will the two tracks be in though? Only time will tell.

Also out today is another Christmas cracker hoping to top the festive chart - 'Boris Johnson Is Still A Fucking Cunt' by The Kunts. Last year they got to number five with 'Boris Johnson Is A Fucking Cunt'. Can they do even better this year? FYI, as was the case last year, they have also prepared a sausage roll-themed SFW version. There's also a Cassetteboy version, among various remixes.

The first new Aaliyah single for fifteen years is out, with added vocals from The Weeknd. Listen to 'Poison' here. A new posthumous album from the singer, 'Unstoppable', is scheduled for release next year.

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

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Rage Against The Machine named number one Christmas number one
They've only gone and done it. Rage Against The Machine are Christmas number one again. Well, they're the number one Christmas number one, having topped a poll that set out to identify the UK's favourite Christmas number one of all time.

Launched by the Official Charts Company and Nine Eight Books to promote a thing called the 'The Official Christmas Number One Singles Book', the race to the top was as tight as any festive chart battle. It could have been Al Martino, who had the first Christmas number one in 1952 with 'Here In My Heart', or Benny Hill, who got there with 'Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)' in 1971. But in the end, their online fanbases let them down.

No, it came down to who had the most fans who could be bothered to carpet bomb a nonsense, inconsequential poll. And, probably appropriately, it was the Rage Against The Machine fans what won it - just beating the slightly less fervent Spice Girls fanbase.

Rage Against The Machine, of course, topped the UK's festive chart in 2009, not because of their yuletide credentials, but as a result of a fan-led protest at the perceived hijacking of the Christmas number one race by 'X Factor' winners in the years prior.

Jon and Tracy Morter launched an online campaign to try and get RATM to the festive chart top spot ahead of that year's 'X-Factor' champion, which initially seemed optimistic but then really took flight and ultimately reigned successful.

And now forever more, the highlight of Christmas Day will be waiting to see when 'Killing In The Name' will arrive on any festive playlist you might be listening too.

"I'm humbled to think that a small idea in a kitchen in Essex a few years back has been officially crowned the 'Nation's Favourite Christmas Number One'", says Jon Morter. "It was the people's number one, using the people's song... a song that even the band themselves now claim is owned by all of us, not them, so I'm not surprised it has won considering these challenging times we're living in. Rage on!"

Today, of course, marks the beginning of the race for this year's Christmas number one, with the single that will be atop the chart on Christmas Day announced next Friday.

This year's main contenders are Ed Sheeran and Elton John versus LadBaby (featuring Ed Sheeran and Elton John). Wham!, Adele, Mariah Carey and The Kunts are also in the running. Who will it be? You have until 11.59pm on Thursday 23 Dec to buy and stream the track you want to win.

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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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