TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Jimi Hendrix estate and Sony Music have filed legal papers with the courts in New York seeking a declaratory judgement that agreements reached with other members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the early 1970s are still in force. The move follows threats in the UK by the estates of those former Experience members - Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell - to sue for supposedly unpaid royalties... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Jimi Hendrix estate goes to court following royalty claim from former Experience collaborators
LEGAL Britney Spears' lawyer accuses her father's lawyer of lying in court, and sister of lying in interviews
DEALS Utopia buys Proper Music
Hipgnosis acquires majority stake in Kenny Chesney recorded music royalties

LIVE BUSINESS COVID Passport requirement for clubs and venues in England to be axed next week
BRANDS & MERCH Sony Music further ramps up merch interests via Ceremony Of Roses investment
RELEASES Boyzlife announce new album
ONE LINERS Harry Styles, Emeli Sandé, Animal Collective, more
AND FINALLY... Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley issues lengthy statement on the band's messy split
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Jimi Hendrix estate goes to court following royalty claim from former Experience collaborators
The Jimi Hendrix estate and Sony Music have filed legal papers with the courts in New York seeking a declaratory judgement that agreements reached with other members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the early 1970s are still in force. The move follows threats in the UK by the estates of those former Experience members - Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell - to sue for supposedly unpaid royalties.

The agreements that the New York courts are being asked to confirm were signed by Redding and Mitchell in 1973 and 1974 respectively, and were the result of negotiations that occurred following Hendrix's death in 1970.

Under those agreements, Redding and Mitchell basically gave up any copyright or royalty claims in relation to recordings made by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in return for "significant monetary consideration". The so called 'release agreements' also included a commitment to never sue the Hendrix estate or its successors.

According to the companies that manage the Hendrix Estate - Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix - neither Redding nor Mitchell ever raised any subsequent issues with those agreements until their deaths in 2003 and 2008 respectively. And, indeed, at various points they actually collaborated with the Hendrix companies on different projects.

However, last month two UK-based limited companies representing the estates of Redding and Mitchell sent a cease-and-desist letter to the London office of Sony Music, the major being the worldwide licensee of the recordings controlled by the Hendrix companies. In the letter the two musicians' estates basically claim rights in relation to the Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings which, they argue, are being infringed by Sony through its exploitation of said music.

In their legal filing with the New York courts, the Hendrix companies and Sony state: "The claim letter ... acknowledges the Mitchell Release and Redding Release, but threatens legal action on the basis, inter alia, that these broad New York general releases and convents not to sue are unenforceable against defendants, noting (among other things) that 'neither [Sony] nor our clients [the companies set up by the two estates] were parties to the release agreements'".

"The claim letter threatens litigation on the basis, inter alia, that they are owed damages estimated in the 'millions of dollars' going back to 1973", the filing continues, before noting that "since 1974, neither defendants nor their estates have ever objected to or made any claims related to any rights in connection with the copyright or other rights or interests in the recordings, or payments in connection with the recordings".

With all that in mind, the Hendrix companies and Sony want the New York courts to declare that the 1970s agreements are "valid and enforceable" and therefore the claims now being made by the Redding and Mitchell estates "are without legal foundation". Such a declaratory judgement, they add, "will provide relief and terminate the insecurity that has been created by the [recent] claims and threats of litigation".

Of course, there are some complications here, given that those threats of litigation are being made in the UK, while the agreements the Hendrix companies want to enforce were signed in the US.

However, the legal filing also says: "To the extent that there may be additional issues which implicate foreign law, it is beyond cavil that United States federal courts have the authority to resolve disputes which require the application of foreign substantive law including but not limited to United Kingdom copyright law". Therefore: "This court can conclusively rule on and affirm rights, duties and obligations of the parties".

We await to see how things progress in the New York court, and whether any legal action will indeed follow on this side of the Atlantic.


Britney Spears' lawyer accuses her father's lawyer of lying in court, and sister of lying in interviews
There was a heated exchange between attorneys for Britney and Jamie Spears yesterday, in the latest court hearing regarding the winding up of the pop star's long running conservatorship. Both lawyers accused each other of lying, and they fought over a request by Jamie to have his daughter continue to pay his $1200 an hour legal fees.

Despite Jamie being removed as his daughter's conservator - and the conservatorship that had managed Britney's personal and financial affairs since 2008 being terminated - the legal arrangement is still to be fully brought to a close. In December, Jamie said that Britney should continue to pay his legal fees - as she did throughout the conservatorship - in order to ensure that it is "wound up quickly and efficiently".

Earlier this week, Britney's attorney Mathew Rosengart filed new court papers in an effort to block that request. He said that his client should not have to cover her father's costs, given that he was removed as conservator prior to the guardianship being terminated.

He also again accused Jamie of numerous acts of financial and other impropriety during his time overseeing his daughter's affairs - including that claim that he paid a security firm $6 million to spy on Britney and others.

These claims were discussed in a heated court hearing yesterday, in which Jamie's attorney Alex Weingarten accused Rosengart of making up stories about his client and feeding them to the press - particularly the surveillance story, which first appeared in the New York Times last year.

"Lies!" shouted Rosengart in response to this, according to Variety. He said that Weingarten had made "nonsensical" and "preposterous" claims against him and "should be admonished", adding: "He has attacked me, he has attacked this court, and it is intolerable".

Weingarten also argued that Jamie's side is "fighting with our hands behind our back", due to Britney's ability to get her version of events out to a wide audience via social media and the press. As well as continuing to request that Jamie's legal fees be covered - a decision on which was not made yesterday - Weingarten also requested that records from the entire case be unsealed in order to reveal the "truth", saying that "public has the right to know".

Rosengarten called that request "offensive" and "highly inappropriate", adding: "We don't think a father who loves his daughter would file to unseal her medical records".

No ruling was made on that request either. The next major hearing on the case will take place in July, while another was set for March to specifically hear Rosengart's objections to a request for Britney to cover the legal fees of her mother, Lynne Spears.

Meanwhile, outside of court, Rosengart has also been battling Britney's younger sister, Jamie Lynn. He has sent a cease-and-desist letter to her, ordering her to stop "referencing Britney derogatorily" while promoting her new book, 'Things I Should Have Said'. Jamie Lynn has made various claims about her experiences with Britney before and during her conservatorship in recent interviews.

Earlier this month, an appearance by Jamie Lynn on 'Good Morning America' sparked an angry back and forth between the two sisters on social media, during which Britney refuted claims made by her sibling, and Jamie Lynn denied that her book was about Britney.

"We write with some hesitation because the last thing Britney wants is to bring more attention to your ill-timed book and its misleading or outrageous claims about her", states the new legal letter, according to Rolling Stone. "Although Britney has not read and does not intend to read your book, she and millions of her fans were shocked to see how you have exploited her for monetary gain".

He goes on to warn: "Publicly airing false or fantastical grievances is wrong, especially when designed to sell books. It is also potentially unlawful and defamatory".

"You recently reportedly stated that the book was 'not about her'", he concludes. "She takes you at your word and we, therefore, demand that you cease and desist from referencing Britney derogatorily during your promotional campaign. If you fail to do so or defame her, Britney will be forced to consider and take all appropriate legal action".


Utopia buys Proper Music
The recently acquisitive Utopia Music continues to be pretty acquisitive, this time pushing itself into the world of music distribution - and physical distribution in particular - with the acquisition of the UK's Proper Music Group.

Although start-up Utopia initially talked primarily about seeking to address the data issues that negatively impact on how artists and especially songwriters get paid when their music is played, through a series of acquisitions the company seems set to become a more wide-ranging service provider to the music industry, covering financing, meta-data, marketing insights and distribution as well as rights and royalties data.

Previous acquisitions have included music industry focused financial services business Lyric Financial, Quincy Jones-backed music metadata set-up Musimap, music industry directory ROSTR and data analytics platform ForTunes.

With the Proper purchase, Utopia says that it is launching a full on distribution and label services side to the company which will, and I quote, "offer partnering labels physical distribution and sales, manufacturing, digital distribution services, marketing for creators and performers, digital retail marketing, reporting and budgeting, real-time analytics, and synchronisation".

The distribution and label services side of the music industry is already a pretty crowded market-place, although with the Proper acquisition Utopia's distribution and label services division will be particularly well equipped when it comes to CD and vinyl distribution.

As CD sales slumped in the 2000s, the physical distribution strand of the music industry went through a period of significant down-sizing, of course.

However, for the small number of distributors that survived - like Proper in the UK - there was a pretty solid business, working for those indie labels still selling decent numbers of physical discs, doing fulfilment for the growing range of direct-to-fan stores, and handling all the heavy lifting for those newer digital distributors that wanted to offer physical distribution as an add-on service.

And although best known for physical distribution, Proper does also offer digital distribution as part of its menu of services, as well as many of the other things that have become part of the label services offering, including marketing, social and PR services, and support registering and administrating neighbouring and publishing rights. All of which will seemingly be part of Utopia's label services offer too.

Confirming Utopia's latest deal, the firm's COO Roberto Neri said yesterday: "We are delighted to announce our acquisition of Proper, which will serve the whole industry and digitise operations and processes when it comes to distribution. This acquisition serves as a building block towards achieving a real Utopia. It will allow us to ensure 'fair pay for every play', and be more efficient by offering better and faster financial services to creators, and servicing both major and independent labels. We are excited to welcome them into our family".

Meanwhile, Proper Music Group MD Drew Hill added: "Proper has a long history in the UK music scene of which we are incredibly proud. That's why when we learned of Utopia's mission we knew we wanted to be a part of it. We believe that together we can help the whole value chain reach new heights, and as such we could not be more excited about this new venture".

Proper's founder and former Chairman Malcolm Mills also commented on the deal, stating: "I am immensely proud of what Proper has achieved since I started the original business in 1988, with the company thriving through the evolution of digital to become one of the UK's leading distributors".

"It is entirely due to the quality of people employed in the company and I am grateful to them for their relentless dedication and commitment to providing the exemplary service that has made Proper unique in this field", he continued. "Utopia has the perfect vision to take the company to exciting new heights and realise its potential on the global stage".


Hipgnosis acquires majority stake in Kenny Chesney recorded music royalties
Hipgnosis has acquired an 80% stake in the recorded music royalties of country artist Kenny Chesney. The deal, which covers Chesney's full catalogue, is the first that Hipgnosis has made since announcing a new partnership with investment firm Blackstone in October last year.

"Kenny Chesney is one of the truly great American artists", says Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis. "He has been bringing joy to music fans all over the world for almost 30 years. His incredible success of more than 30 million records sold including nine number one albums on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart and seventeen number one albums on Billboard's country chart tells you everything you need to know".

"Add in his unparalleled success as a touring artist and the juggernaut that is [Chesney's SiriusXM channel] No Shoes Radio, and you realise Kenny is genuinely a phenomenon", he continues. "It's a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Kenny ... to the Hipgnosis Songs family and we are delighted to launch our new Blackstone backed fund with this landmark acquisition".

Chesney adds: "To know that this music has a home that views the work as a collective body, something that builds on itself and captures the heart of [Chesney's fan community] No Shoes Nation, was important to me. How these songs live going forward is critical, and I believe Merck has the best interests of not just the recordings but the people who love them as his driving interest. For the people who love these songs and albums, this is a scenario that allows the music to grow and reflect who those of us living inside these songs truly are".


COVID Passport requirement for clubs and venues in England to be axed next week
UK Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson yesterday announced an end to the so called Plan B COVID measures in England, one of which was the requirement for clubs and venues to check COVID passports at the door.

The most recent set of COVID-19 regulations in England are being relaxed partly because the number of new coronavirus infections has been declining for two weeks now. And partly because no one wants COVID rules interfering with all the parties that will take place on that glorious day when enough Tory MPs stab Johnson in the back to make the inevitable resignation a reality, forcing the PM to fuck off back to whatever mountain of bullshit he slithered out from at the beginning of the bad times.

As well as removing the obligation on clubs and some other venues to check the vaccination or COVID status of customers from next week, the mandatory wearing of face masks in public spaces will also be axed, because Lord knows the knife wielding Tory MPs Johnson is desperately trying to keep away from his back really hate wearing face masks.

"Because of the extraordinary [vaccine] booster campaign, together with the way the public have responded to the Plan B measures, we can return to Plan A in England and allow Plan B regulations to expire as a result from the start of Thursday next week", Johnson told Parliament yesterday. Yeah, whatever you say.

Official guidance for people to work from home where possible has also been lifted - with that particular rule change happening with immediate effect.

The removal of the COVID Passport requirement for clubs and venues was welcomed by the Night Time Industries Association, which has argued that that requirement has negatively impacted on night-time businesses, both in terms of logistical costs and lost business.

NTIA CEO Michael Kill said yesterday: "We welcome the removal of the restrictions for the night time economy and hospitality sector. Following an extremely difficult two years for the sector, which has been, in every sense, at the sharpest end of the pandemic throughout, we are finally able to plan for the future with some level of certainty and without debilitating restrictions".

Although the latest relaxation of COVID rules was welcomed, Kill stressed that the night time and live entertainment sectors will still need further support from the government. "With the devastating losses over the festive period, and the effects of limited cash flow being felt across the sector, our industry has been placed in an extremely fragile state", he added, "and without question will need further financial relief and support to survive".

Kill concluded: "Experts believe it will take several years for the hospitality and night time economy sectors to recover, [so] it is important that the government don't simply assume the sector will be fine because restrictions have been eased. More support will be needed".

COVID rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are unaffected by Johnson's announcement, although the executives in each of those countries also continue to review what regulations are required.


Sony Music further ramps up merch interests via Ceremony Of Roses investment
Sony Music has further ramped up its involvement in the merchandise side of the music industry by making a "strategic investment" in Ceremony Of Roses, the merch business founded by Brad Scoffern who, among other things, runs Tyler, The Creator's Golf Wang fashion line.

Ceremony Of Roses - whose clients include Adele, Olivia Rodrigo, A$AP Rocky and Rex Orange County - will seemingly become Sony's flagship merch operation, or - according to the official announcement - a "global media, branding, design and events company" within the Sony Music group.

The major's other existing merchandise divisions - including the New York-based Thread Shop - will then sit under the Ceremony Of Roses banner and together "leverage their capabilities to drive new business opportunities around the world". Good times.

Says Sony Music boss Rob Stringer: "Brad and his team at Ceremony Of Roses have proven to be an incredibly creative force in developing futuristic branding and merchandising services for artists. We've been huge fans of his work with Golf Wang and what Ceremony Of Roses has developed for its cutting edge roster of front-line talent. I look forward to joining forces to bring innovative ideas and concepts to our artists as extensions of their music talent".

Meanwhile, Scoffern adds: "I'm beyond excited and truly honoured to be working with Rob Stringer and the entire Sony Music team. I'm delighted to be working with a team that shares our artist-first approach in supporting creative talent. By joining Ceremony Of Roses' expertise in merchandising with Sony Music's global reach, roster and resources, we are set up for an exciting new chapter of growth".

"CoR was founded with the goal of enabling and expanding authentic fan/artist connections beyond a tour tee", he goes on, "and through working with incredible artists and mentors, especially Tyler, The Creator and [his manager] Christian Clancy, I have learned the value of fan engagement and the unique role merchandise and branding plays in this relationship".

"I look forward to helping the artists we work with build on the amazing advancements happening in the space today to deliver incredible experiences and products across all touch points with their fanbases, regardless of where they are or how they buy".


Approved: Grae
Grae is back with her first single of 2021, 'Room In The Desert', and this time it is accompanied by news of a debut album, 'Whiplash', set for release this spring.

Inspired by The Cocteau Twins, 'Room In The Desert' represents something of a shift in Grae's sound and songwriting. Although still firmly within the pop realm, she wanders further into the shadows than on much of her earlier work and finds herself quite comfortable there.

"'Room In The Desert' was written on a day when I was lacking inspiration", she says. "I came into the session with my producer Connor Seidel not knowing what to write about and instead of trying to fight that feeling, I embraced it. I decided to write a song about nothing, from nothing, using some random and interesting words we could find".

"At the time of writing, it had no real meaning, which was the intention, but now I actually find meaning in it, which is interesting", she adds. "I hope those who listen are able to find their own unique meaning too".

'Whiplash' is set for release on 15 Apr. Watch the video for 'Room In the Desert' here.

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Boyzlife announced new album
Boyzlife - that's Keith Duffy from Boyzone and Brian McFadden once of Westlife - have announced that they will release their first album of original material, titled 'Old School', in May.

"Keith and I grew up in the 80s and 90s, the sound of that era is what made us want to be musicians in the first place", says McFadden. "When we first started talking about making this record as Boyzlife's first [original material] album, we naturally talked about those influences a lot and have loved bringing these familiar sounds into our studio sessions and onto this record".

"Working with our producer Jackson has been an extremely creative process, we went into the studio with lyric ideas, worked together to find a melodic sound to go with the lyrics and built the songs from there", he continues. "Some things just fit into place and others get chopped and changed until we all agree we are on the right track. We are very excited about this album and can't wait for people to hear it".

The duo's debut album, 'Strings Attached', was released last year. That saw them re-record Boyzone and Westlife songs with the backing of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and reached number twelve on the UK albums chart.

'Old School' will be released on 6 May.



Gig management platform GigRealm has announced a new partnership with DIY distributor TuneCore. TuneCore artists get access to GigRealm, GigRealm artists get access to discounts and special offers on TuneCore. Everyone's happy.



Talent agency UTA has named Lindsay Wagner as its Chief Diversity Officer. "I am honoured to join UTA and contribute to this purpose-led team focused on building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community and industry now and for generations to come", she says.

Sony Music Publishing in the US has nabbed Ari Gelaw from Universal Music Publishing to become its VP Creative. "Ari's commitment to songwriters and the creative community is nothing less than admirable", says her new boss, SVP Creative Ian Holder.



Emeli Sandé has released new single 'Brighter Days'. "Staying anchored in hope and faith is our victory and defeat only comes when we lose sight of this power", she says. "'Brighter Days' is an affirmation - it's a reminder of our collective power to make a choice and create our reality".

Animal Collective have released new single 'Strung With Everything', from their new album 'Time Skiffs', which is out on 4 Feb. The band have also announced UK live dates in November.

Sevdaliza has released new single 'High Alone'. Her new EP, 'Raving Dhalia', is out on 25 Feb.

Violet Skies has released new single 'The Internet'.

Ferla have released new single 'Too Dark To See'. "Life is ruthless, and at some point one of our ancestors has been the cause of someone else's misery", says vocalist Giuliano Ferla of the inspiration for the song. "And then there's me at the pointy arrow of time enjoying all the benefit".

Deep Tan have released new single 'Beginners' Krav Maga'. The band will be touring the UK in May.



That Harry Styles has announced stadium shows in Glasgow, Manchester, London and Dublin in June. Mitski will support in the UK, while Arlo Parks will handle the Dublin show.



Public voting for the new genre-specific BRIT Awards opens today. That's a thing that's happening. Just call 081 811 8181, yeah? Or vote via the new fangled TikTok voting hub they've built if you must. Which you must.

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


Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley issues lengthy statement on the band's messy split
Every Time I Die vocalist Keith Buckley has posted a lengthy statement giving his side of the story on the band's recent break up. Contrary to the statement released by the other members of the band earlier this week, he says that he repeatedly tried to communicate with them over the last month but was ignored - the public statement confirming the band's split coming after his most recent attempt to speak with his former bandmates.

This all unfolded relatively quickly. On 3 Dec, Buckley announced that he would not play the final three dates on the band's US tour but would return for their annual hometown Christmas shows later in the month - which he did.

When the rest of the band said that they would play the remaining tour shows without Buckley - instead inviting the audience to stand in for him - he released a further statement. In that, he said that the reason he had left the tour was that he had overheard his brother, Jordan Buckley, the band's lead guitarist, telling someone that they were planning to replace him.

The rest of the band have denied that allegation. However, says Keith in his new statement, he attempted to speak to his bandmates several times in order to find some sort of resolution.

The first he heard from them, he says, was a legal letter on 20 Dec informing him that he was no longer a member of the band and ordering him to stop using the name or making negative statements about the group online. He recently posted that letter to his socials, though only after the split had been announced by the other band members.

He says now that he abided by the cease-and-desist request in that letter "even though [it] was not legally binding" while continuing to request a meeting to discuss how the band could move forward. In early January, he adds, he received another letter from the rest of the band, this time saying that they were quitting and offering to give him the rights to the Every Time I Day name in exchange for fees to be paid if and when he used it. This offer, he confirms, he declined.

"The thing is", he says, "being given back the band and/or replacing them was not something I was interested in doing at this point in my life. Also, I do not see ETID as anything other than these specific members. I declined the offer on 6 Jan. If it was done, it was done, but I was still open to figuring out what was best for all of us".

In their statement earlier this week, the other band members said that it was Keith who had refused to communicate with them, and that they had decided to make a public statement announcing the split after they "were informed … of something planned to be released [but] not mutually agreed upon that consists of inaccuracies and controls a narrative to the benefit of one".

In his statement, Keith addresses this, saying that as the month progressed, he became concerned that tickets were still on sale for their 2022 live shows. UK and Ireland dates had already been cancelled due to COVID restrictions, but further US dates were set to run from February to the end of March.

Keith says that the band's manager "unexpectedly quit" on 17 Dec, so it was unclear who was taking responsibility for decisions relating to the tour dates. Still unable to make contact with anyone to discuss this and other matters, he says he sent a proposed statement announcing his departure from the band, telling them that he would post it online 24 hours later if they did not respond with their own input.

That draft statement, he says, read: "In a desire for transparency, I want to let you know that I received a letter from the band's lawyer firing me from Every Time I Die on 20 Dec. There were no band discussions prior or since. While the details are being legally worked out, know that I am in a good place and excited for whatever comes next. I wish everyone well and have no hate in my heart".

He heard nothing until Jordan Buckley and the band's other guitarist Andy Williams posted their statement online, pre-empting his. That statement came via the guitarists' personal accounts, because at the same time all of Every Time I Die's official social media accounts were deactivated.

"That is how I found out that the band I started when I was nineteen years old was publicly over", he writes. "In posting that without prior conversation, without legal consultation, without any personal sense of honour for the band we built, these men took away my ability to say goodbye to 20 years worth of sacrifice. That is one of the hardest things to stomach".

"After half my life in a van, I don't even get access to an Instagram page worth of memories", he goes on. "That, coupled with the incongruous stories that are being told to manipulate and blur the narrative for anyone that might one day look back on this are to me a wailing and gnashing of teeth".

He again states that he believes the reason he was forced out of the band was due to lifestyle changes he made during lockdown - particularly stopping drinking alcohol. "My truth is that the pandemic changed me", he says. "I looked at my life and realised not only was I unhappy, I was exhausted from pretending I wasn't. So I stripped everything back until I found what I loved".

His efforts to protect his mental health were not always welcomed by his bandmates, he claims, and at times were "used as a weapon against me". He adds that other issues leading to the break up date back much further than this though, reckoning that they probably "should have broken up in 2014".

Nonetheless, he says he is "thankful" that he "stuck it out" long enough to make three more albums that are "important records that I feel needed to be made". However, he adds, "the firm spiritual and political stance I took on [2021 album 'Radical'] became an insurmountable point of contention between Jordan and I".

He concludes his statement by saying that he has "no plans to comment further". There is, however, the matter of a series on on-stage interviews that he is due to take part in around the UK, coming up next month, where the topic is sure to arise again.


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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