TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK’s Featured Artists Coalition has launched a new initiative to identify and champion the music venues that do not charge any commissions on merchandise sales. It follows an online debate about those commissions last month sparked by a tweet from Tim Burgess of The Charlatans... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES FAC launches campaign against venue merch commissions, urges '100% Venues' to sign up to new directory
LEGAL New York court dismisses former Universal exec's lawsuit against his ex-lawyer
LIVE BUSINESS FEAT launches new anti-touting guide for promoters
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify still the clear market leader in premium streaming, although its market share is slipping
RELEASES Jenny Hval announces new album, Classic Objects
Max Cooper announces new album, Unspoken Words

ONE LINERS 'Weird Al' Yankovic, Ibibio Sound Machine, Crawlers, more
AND FINALLY... U2 are embarrassing and have a shit name, says Bono
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FAC launches campaign against venue merch commissions, urges '100% Venues' to sign up to new directory
The UK's Featured Artists Coalition has launched a new initiative to identify and champion the music venues that do not charge any commissions on merchandise sales. It follows an online debate about those commissions last month sparked by a tweet from Tim Burgess of The Charlatans.

In his tweet Burgess said: "Big respect to those venues that don't take a percentage of a band's merch sales. This isn't about The Charlatans, it's about those bands who need merch income to survive. Some places take 25% – a quarter of the full selling price. Vinyl doesn't even have that mark up to begin with".

It's generally larger venues that expect to charge a commission on merchandise sales that take place on their premises alongside an artist's gig. Many of those venues actually enter into deals with merchandising companies, and its those third parties which then expect a cut of each artist's merch money.

Merch commissions of this kind have been a bugbear for touring artists for years, especially those acts who are big enough to be playing the venues where such commissions are common, but for whom merch income is still crucial for ensuring that a tour is profitable.

Some of the third party merch companies that have deals with venues do provide a staff member to oversee the merch sales on which they are taking a commission. Though many artists argue that they'd rather have a member of their own team doing that work, as they are often better at engaging with fans and upselling other products.

Among the artists to follow up on the Burgess tweet on merch commissions was Peter Hook, who ran through the other costs of making and selling merch, arguing that any venue commission can basically wipe away the profit margin. "I have been arguing with venues (mainly larger ones) about this for years", he said on Twitter. "Charging the band 25% commission on the gross of anything sold makes having merchandise for most bands a total vanity project".

The FAC is now putting together a directory of all the UK venues that do not charge any commissions on merchandise sales, and is encouraging those venues to add themselves to said directory via its website. Once the directory is fully populated, both artists and fans will then be able to see which venues operate an artist-friendly policy when it comes to merch sales.

"The relationship between artists and venues in the music ecosystem is essential and inseparable", says the FAC. "One of the key revenue sources for touring artists is the sale of merchandise at gigs. Often, that revenue represents the difference between a gig breaking even or losing money".

Noting that it previously raised the issue of merch commissions via the gigging kitemark scheme it launched with the Association Of Independent Promoters last year, the FAC restates its opposition to "the imposition of punitive fees for selling merchandise, where those fees are not directly related to the cost of doing so", adding: "When fans buy merchandise from artists that they love, they want and expect that their money will go to supporting that artist".

Commenting on the new initiative, called the 100% Venues Directory, FAC CEO David Martin says: "These 100% Venues are leading the way, enabling artists to take home 100% of merchandise revenue. This makes selling merchandise at gigs worthwhile for artists, creating a fairer and more sustainable touring circuit, particularly for grassroots and emerging talent".

The new scheme is also supported by the aforementioned Hook, who adds: "You're treated like gods in the dressing room and then robbed blind on the merchandise stall. I fully support this campaign and have been very vocal about this injustice to artists and fans for years".

Venues can add themselves to the new directory here.


New York court dismisses former Universal exec's lawsuit against his ex-lawyer
A New York court yesterday dismissed a lawsuit filed last year by former Universal Music exec Charlie Walk against the lawyer who represented him when he exited the major in 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment.

Universal announced that Walk was stepping down as President of its Republic label in the US in March 2018, after various allegations of sexual harassment were made against him as the #MeToo movement gained momentum. He has always denied all of those allegations, but after an investigation by the major he nevertheless signed a settlement agreement that saw him leave the music company.

While negotiating that settlement agreement Walk was advised by the lawyer Marc Kasowitz. In March last year, Walk filed a lawsuit alleging that Kasowitz had "botched" the negotiations with his former employer, pressuring him to sign up to a "one-sided agreement" that ultimately left his life "in tatters".

Elsewhere in the lawsuit Walk accused Universal of exploiting "a fifteen year old canard" and "a facially incredible story" in order to push him out of the business while ensuring he wouldn't be snapped up by a rival record company.

Kasowitz quickly hit back at Walk's allegations regarding his work negotiating with Universal in 2018. The litigation, he told reporters last March, was "a false and defamatory piece of work which Mr Walk and his attorneys should be ashamed of and will regret".

Arguing that Walk's lawsuit should be dismissed yesterday, Kasowitz's legal rep Gavin Schryver argued that paperwork proved that Walk had received the advice he now claims was lacking during the 2018 negotiations.

Among other things, Walk says that Kasowitz failed to point out two issues that could have been raised had he taken his dispute with Universal to arbitration. That includes claims that his employment contract with Universal was terminated "without cause" and that the major had breached a confidentiality clause in that contract by publicly commenting on its investigation into the allegations that had been made against him.

But, according to Law360, Schryver argued that emails from 2018 between Walk and his legal team, and between Kasowitz and Universal, show that these issues were discussed at the time. Walk nevertheless decided to settle rather than push for arbitration, Schryver said, because "every one of those arguments is weak at best - and frankly a loser".

Walk's current legal rep, Jeffrey Eilender, countered that the documents referenced by the defence were "generic" and that there wasn't enough evidence available to dismiss his client's claims against Kasowitz at this stage. But judge Andrew Borrok did not concur, repeatedly stating that the evidence contradicted Eilender's arguments.

Borrok also mused that the claim regarding the confidentiality clause in Walk's employment contract was particularly weak, given that clause would almost certainly not apply once allegations against Walk were being made in the public domain.

"When something's already in the public forum", the judge said, "when it comes to one of your senior people being accused of sexual harassment and assault, the company has an obligation under the circumstance to make a public statement".

With all that in mind, Borrok granted Kasowitz's motion for dismissal, adding that "this whole thing is a false narrative", and that it was "absolutely outrageous" Kasowitz's law firm's reputation "has been sullied under these facts".

Needless to say, the Kasowitz side welcomed yesterday's ruling, while the Walk side pledged an appeal. Bryan Feedman from the law firm repping the former Universal exec told Law360: "In 30 years of practicing law, I have never seen a ruling that has more of a basis to be appealed - it is clear this ruling should and will be overturned".

Meanwhile, speaking for Kasowitz, Schryver said: "This false and defamatory case amounted to nothing more than an egregious attempt by Charlie Walk, an accused serial sexual harasser, to resuscitate his tarnished reputation by attacking ours".


FEAT launches new anti-touting guide for promoters
The Face-Value European Alliance For Ticketing - or FEAT if you prefer - has published a new guide for European promoters on how to deal with suspected touted tickets.

'How To Find And Remove Scalped Tickets' offers step-by-step advice on developing and implementing an anti-touting policy, guiding fans to primary ticketing platforms, and spotting signs that tickets are being bought up by touts. It also gives advice on cancelling tickets sold via secondary ticketing sites in "a fan-friendly way".

Coinciding with the launch of the guide, FEAT will today run a session at the Eurosonic conference titled 'F@ck Ticket Scalpers', with speakers including's Nicole Jacobsen, Claire Turnham of the Victims Of Viagogo campaign, and FEAT Director Sam Shemtob.

"With the live business looking to get back on the front foot in 2022, the timing is perfect for promoters to take steps proven to reduce touting", says Shemtob. "We hope this guide will be beneficial to all those who work in the sector".

The guide is available on request only. To grab your copy, email


Spotify still the clear market leader in premium streaming, although its market share is slipping
Spotify is still by far the biggest premium music streaming service, although its lead has slipped slightly over the last two years. That's according to the latest report on the music streaming market from entertainment industry consultancy MIDiA, which was published last month and key figures from which have now been shared in a blog post on the company's website.

The new report estimates that there were 523.9 million people paying to access music streaming services across the world by the end of Q2 2021, an impressive 26.4% increase on Q2 2020.

In terms of specific services, MIDiA calculates that Spotify accounts for 31% of those premium streamers. That's down from 33% at the same point in 2020, and 34% in 2019.

However, it is still by far the biggest player, accounting for more of the market than its closest two competitors - Apple and Amazon - combined. MIDiA says that they respectively boast 15% and 13% market share in terms of subscriber numbers.

When it comes to subscriber growth rates, Amazon is out-performing Spotify, as it pushes out its music services to more mainstream consumers and owners of its Alexa-powered devices. Although, among the global platforms, YouTube Music has seen the most impressive growth of late, scoring 50% growth between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021, resulting in it increasing its overall market share.

Also scoring impressive growth are some of the regional services that dominate in certain emerging markets, including the Tencent and NetEase services in China, and Yandex's music service in Russia.

Most of the regional services have generally had much bigger userbases for their free services to date, but Tencent, NetEase and Yandex are all now doing a decent job of upselling their premium packages. According to MIDiA's maths, the Tencent services now account for 13% of global subscribers, with NetEase at 6% and Yandex at 2%.

As MIDiA's Mark Mulligan points out in the new blog post on the report, market growth in terms of subscriber numbers doesn't directly correlate to market growth in terms of revenue, because the former is often boosted by bundling, family plans and emerging market sign-ups, all of which reduce the average revenue per user on a global basis.

However, the music industry's strategy for years has been to convert as many consumers as possible to premium packages, and these stats show that is still being achieved, despite growth inevitably slowing in some of the more mature markets, where most of the people who are going to sign up for a standard music streaming package have already done so.

And, of course, in revenue terms, the digital music market is evolving, with ad-funded services - and in particular user-generated content and video-sharing platforms - starting to account for a more significant percentage of the industry's overall digital income.

You can buy the new MIDiA report here and read Mulligan's blog post here.


CMU Insights: Then and now - digital challenges and opportunities for the music industry
Ten years ago this week two major events happened in relation to the music industry's long running battle against online piracy and copyright infringement.

First Wikipedia blacked out its English language edition for 24 hours in protest at web-blocking proposals then being considered in US Congress. And then the American authorities suddenly shut down MegaUpload, a controversial file-transfer and video-sharing service that claimed it was protected from liability for any infringement on its platform by the copyright safe harbour.

As CMU's Chris Cooke discusses in this new blog post, in the decade since those dramatic events, web-blocking and safe harbour reform have dominated the music industry's battle with online piracy and copyright infringement. Although the prominence of that battle has waned somewhat. The recorded music business was at its lowest ebb in 2012, but as the streaming boom gained momentum and the sector went back into growth, the industry's priorities understandably shifted.

But where are we at today when it comes to music copyright, online piracy and streaming? Well, all of those things will be covered in the next series of CMU Webinars taking place next month - which together put the spotlight on all the latest music business trends, including the continuing streaming boom and the surging value of music copyright, and where the ongoing reform of copyright law and the never-ending battle against online piracy fits in to it all.

Find out more about the webinars - and book your place - here.

Jenny Hval announces new album, Classic Objects
Having signed to 4AD last year, Jenny Hval has now announced that she will release her first album for the label, 'Classic Objects', in March.

"In 2020, like everyone else, I was just a private person", she says of the beginnings of the album. "No artists were allowed to perform. I was reduced to 'just me'. This made me want to write simple stories. My problem was that I found that the music component in the writing process made the words stray from their path and even jump into the absurd".

"I think it is just bound to happen when there is music involved", she adds. "After all, a song isn't just words, it has a melody, and the reason we have melodies is to step into the dark and jump off cliffs".

For new single 'Year Of Love', the cliff edge was the memory of seeing a marriage proposal happening in the audience while she was performing a number of years ago.

"For me, this experience was very troubling", she says. "It confronted me with the fact that I am also married. What does that detail from my private life say about me as an artist? 'Year Of Love' asks, who am I as an artist? Do my private actions betray my work and voice?"

'Classic Objects' is out on 11 Mar. Listen to 'Year Of Love' here.


Max Cooper announces new album, Unspoken Words
Max Cooper has announced that he will release his new album, 'Unspoken Words', in March, and has also shared new single 'Everything'.

"I've always struggled with words", he says of the inspiration for the album. "Trying to communicate anything meaningful about my internal state, in any way which seems to do it justice, has always been beyond me. But music bypasses language. It is my means of expression, which is why I make a lot of it - I'm compelled to create".

"I find existing inside my mind to be a sometimes beautiful, sometimes intense, sometimes abrasive, messy, baffling, relentless experience", he adds. "I've tried to put as much of that feeling and form as I could into the album".

The album's first single, 'Everything', he explains, is inspired by the idealism of 80s and 90s popular culture.

"I love feeling that anything is possible", he explains. "It feels like I'm bursting and need to find some expression. The synths seemed to carry the hope of everything I could imagine, condensed into the simple chord progression, improvised pads and layers of distortion. It was a lot of fun to work with, and spending time in that creative mindset generated lots of ideas which could be shot down later under less manic conditions".

'Unspoken Words' is out on 25 Mar. Listen to 'Everything' here.



Universal Music's Polydor has signed Crawlers to a new record deal. "It's been incredibly exciting watching them grow over the past year", says co-President Tom March. "From selling out tours to their first releases connecting to audiences in a big way, and this is just the beginning for them".



Sound Diplomacy, the consultancy focused on the music, night-time and wider creative sectors, has announced the appointment of Rob Hain - a former client and existing advisor to the company - as Global CEO. Founder and current CEO Shain Shapiro will move to the position of Chair. Hain "knows what makes us tick", says Shaprio, while the executive rejig "allows me to spend more time with the recently established non-profit think tank, The Center For Music Ecosystems".

Sentric Music has hired songwriter and producer Simon Perry as President and Head of A&R for North America. "I am very excited to be welcoming Simon to the team as he is the perfect candidate to start building on the foundations of our US operations which represents an important step in the next stage of our international growth", says CEO Chris Meehan.

Priscilla Kotey has been promoted to the new role of SVP at Warner Music Ireland. "I'm so pleased to be asked to step up and lead the Warner Music team in Dublin", she says. "Ireland is an exciting and dynamic market where many of our international artists are excited to perform".

Lanre Gaba has been promoted to Co-President of Black Music at Warner's Atlantic Records in the US. "Atlantic was built on black music and a continued legacy of artist development", she says. "We have the most exceptional artists on our roster, whose music moves the culture".

Utopia Music has hired Rosa Martinez as Director for Spain. "Her strong background, reputation, and work ethic will surely help us unlock the true value of music in the region", says COO Roberto Neri. "Plus, her vast experience and knowledge of the British music industry will help us bridge the gap between both territories and open new doors to the global dominance of Spanish music".



Daniel Radcliff is set to play 'Weird Al' Yankovic in a new biopic, titled 'Weird: The 'Weird Al' Yankovic Story' and written by Yankovic himself. "When my last movie 'UHF' came out in 1989, I made a solemn vow to my fans that I would release a major motion picture every 33 years, like clockwork", says Yankovic. "I'm very happy to say we're on schedule. And I am absolutely THRILLED that Daniel Radcliffe will be portraying me in the film. I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the role future generations will remember him for".



Ibibio Sound Machine are back with new single 'All That You Want'. Their Hot Chip-produced new album, 'Electricity', is out on 25 Mar. UK tour dates start at the end of March and run into April, finishing at the Electric Ballroom in London on 14 Apr.

Will Joseph Cook is back with new single '4am'. "Conceptually '4am' is this really overly poetic voicemail for someone you love", he says. "A rush of emotions you want to share but there's no one up to hear them". Cook also have UK tour dates scheduled for March.

Boris have released 'Beyond Good And Evil', the latest single from their new album 'W', which is out this Friday. The song is about the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. "There is a vast magnitude in a huge mushroom cloud and in decaying ruins", says vocalist Wata, who is from Hiroshima. "We feel both the sadness and beauty of these things at the same time; that is who we are".

Quinquis has released new single 'Setu', and announced that she will release her debut album, 'Seim', on 20 May.

King Hannah will release their debut album, 'I'm Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me', on 25 Feb. New single 'Big Big Baby' is out now. The duo will also be playing UK dates in April.

Piglet has released new single 'Oan'. It's "about trying to work out where yourself and the people around you sit on various spectrums", he says. The release comes ahead of dates supporting Porridge Radio next week.

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


U2 are embarrassing and have a shit name, says Bono
U2 are embarrassing and have a shit name. Not my words, people. Not this time, anyway. These are the words of U2 frontman Bono Vox. In fact, he says he finds his band's music so grating that he turns the radio off if any of it comes on.

The band's name, of course, is shared with an American spy plane. Although the band apparently just picked it off a list of possible names provided to them by a friend, rather than them giving it a huge amount of thought.

"I still don't [like the name]", Bono tells The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast. "I really don't. But I was late into some kind of dyslexia. I didn't realise that The Beatles was a bad pun either. In our head it was like the spy plane, U-boat, it was futuristic - as it turned out to imply this kind of acquiescence, no I don't like that name. I still don't really like the name".

"Paul McGuinness, our first manager, did say, 'Look, it's a great name, it's going to look good on a t-shirt, a letter and a number'", he adds. And he probably wasn't wrong. After a while a name just becomes a noise anyway, doesn't it? I mean, no one ever really thinks that much about how Take That are called Take That anymore, do they?

Speaking of things that are just noises, Bono says what really puts him off his band's music is his own voice. He thinks "the band sound incredible" but feels that he "only became a singer recently".

"The one [song] that I can listen to the most is 'Miss Sarajevo' with Luciano Pavarotti", he says. "Genuinely, most of the other ones make me cringe a little bit. Although 'Vertigo' probably is the one I'm proudest of. It's the way it connects with the crowd".

But, he also admits, "I've been in the car when one of our songs has come on the radio and I've been the colour of, as we say in Dublin, scarlet. I'm just so embarrassed".

"I do think U2 pushes out the boat on embarrassment quite a lot", he adds. "Maybe that's the place to be as an artist, you know, right at the edge of your level of embarrassment".


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column. (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited. (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY. or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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