TODAY'S TOP STORY: A steady stream of artists and other creators continue to join the Spotify boycott over the Joe Rogan podcast, although the streaming service's boss Daniel Ek has told investors that it's too soon to say to what extent that boycott is having a negative impact on subscriber numbers... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Spotify boycott grows as Young v Rogan fallout continues
LEGAL Opulous says Lil Yachty lawsuit is "meritless"
DEALS Little Mix's Leigh-Anne Pinnock signs solo deal with Warner Records
Twitch announces Merlin deal

LABELS & PUBLISHERS Tiffany Calver launches label in partnership with Polydor
MEDIA Sony music and film businesses in India launch new media talent venture
ONE LINERS Korn, Arlo Parks, Dagny, more
AND FINALLY... Rudy Giuliani Masked Singer unmasking prompts judges to walk out
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Spotify boycott grows as Young v Rogan fallout continues
A steady stream of artists and other creators continue to join the Spotify boycott over the Joe Rogan podcast, although the streaming service's boss Daniel Ek has told investors that it's too soon to say to what extent that boycott is having a negative impact on subscriber numbers.

The boycott was instigated by Neil Young, of course, who in turn was responding to a letter signed by 250+ scientists and medics which accused the Spotify exclusive podcast the Joe Rogan Experience of "a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic".

After Young's label confirmed it was removing the musician's music from Spotify - and other artists piled onto social media pledging support and, in some cases, announcing that they were joining the boycott - both Ek and Rogan issued statements on Sunday evening, hoping to quell the rebellion.

Ek said that Spotify actually had solid policies for dealing with any misinformation that appears in podcasts uploaded to the platform, but that it needed to be more transparent about those policies.

He also committed to signpost COVID information approved by the scientific consensus alongside any podcast which, although adhering to Spotify's misinformation policies, nevertheless contain controversial opinions about the pandemic. And that signposting would also apply to the platform's biggest podcast - ie the Joe Rogan Experience.

Rogan defended his decision to book guests with controversial opinions - including known COVID vaccine critic Dr Robert Malone, whose appearance prompted that letter from the scientists - but admitted he needed to do more research when interviewing those people, so that he could better challenge their controversial opinions.

He also said that, moving forward, he will try to ensure that experts who counter-balance the controversial opinions are booked so that they directly follow and respond to said opinions, rather than appearing weeks later.

The two statements did little to placate those who had already been vocal about the Joe Rogan Experience following Young's initial open letter on the topic, many pointing out that Ek's commitment to deal with misinformation was no different to the commitments made by other social media and user-upload platforms.

But, with the Joe Rogan Experience, Spotify basically produces the show, so has much more control than when random third parties upload content to a digital service.

That said, it is possible that Sunday's statements reduced the number of new artists and creators speaking out and joining the boycott. Although it certainly didn't stop that from happening entirely. Throughout the week a number of other artists have announced they are removing their music - or have requested the removal of their music - from Spotify, while creators from elsewhere on the platform, including podcasters and comedians, have made similar statements.

Notably, yesterday former Young collaborators David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash all joined the boycott. A statement announced that the other three members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young "have requested that their labels remove their collective recordings from Spotify".

It added: "In solidarity with their bandmate, Neil Young, and in support of stopping harmful misinformation about COVID, they have decided to remove their records from the streaming platform including the recordings of CSNY, CSN, and CN, as well as Crosby's and Stills' solo projects. Nash has already begun the process to take down his solo recordings".

In a joint statement, Crosby, Stills and Nash themselves said: "We support Neil and we agree with him that there is dangerous disinformation being aired on Spotify's Joe Rogan podcast".

"While we always value alternate points of view, knowingly spreading disinformation during this global pandemic has deadly consequences", they went on. "Until real action is taken to show that a concern for humanity must be balanced with commerce, we don't want our music - or the music we made together - to be on the same platform".

Of course, whether an artist has the unilateral right to remove their music from Spotify depends on what deals they have done over the years with any record labels or music distributors they work with, or any investment funds they just took a mega-cheque from. Young himself noted last week that he didn't have that unilateral right under his deal with Warner Music, but the major complied with his request to take his music down from Spotify anyway.

When initially asked on Twitter last weekend if he'd follow Young's lead in boycotting Spotify, Crosby stated: "I no longer control [my music] or I would in support of Neil". Presumably he now hopes those in control of his catalogue will follow Warner's lead and comply with his removal request.

He's probably right. For starters, the CSNY catalogue is also controlled by Warner. And secondly, it seems likely no label wants to be pulled into the whole Rogan COVID misinformation hoo haa at the moment by refusing to take down any one artist's music, even if commercially speaking they'd prefer any boycott be kept to the minimum.

Beyond music, some other podcasters on Spotify have also joined the boycott. Earlier this week the producer of the Spotify-owned science podcast Science Vs said she'd only be making new editions that debunk misinformation elsewhere on the streaming service. Meanwhile, some third party podcasters are removing their content from Spotify entirely.

That includes Mary Trump, the niece and vocal critic of former US President Donald Trump, who has a podcast called The Mary Trump Show. She stated on Twitter yesterday: "I'm removing my podcast from Spotify. I know it's not a big deal but hope it will be part of a growing avalanche".

Noting some of the other musicians who have joined the boycott, she added, "thank you to Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Nils Lofgren for your courage in leading the way".

Comedians have content on Spotify too, of course, and from that community Stewart Lee is among those coming out in support of Young and the boycott.

He stated: "I am fully aware this will make no financial difference to Spotify whatsoever, but for too long internet platforms have been able to spread lies with impunity, free from the checks and balances that govern traditional publishers and broadcasters, and their efforts to correct this still do not go for enough. Perhaps artists big and small can band together to do something to change this where the money men won't".

With this story continuing to develop - and the boycott continuing to build - it was no surprise that investors were keen to chat about the big Young v Rogan bust up as Spotify published its latest quarterly financial report yesterday.

According to Variety, Ek said on an investor call: "Obviously, it's been a few notable days here at Spotify. When we entered into the podcast space in 2019 with the intent to help modernise and grow the space for all types of creators, we assumed they will test and challenge our teams in new ways. And there's no doubt that the last several weeks have presented a number of learning opportunities".

Signposting his Sunday statement, Ek then added: "There's still work to be done, but I'm pleased that Spotify is already implementing several first of its kind measures to help combat misinformation and provide greater transparency. We believe we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users, and we will continue to partner with experts".

Later responding to a specific question on the Rogan controversy, he said: "I think the important part here is that we don't change our policies based on one creator, nor do we change it based on any media cycle or call from anyone else. Our policies have been carefully written with the input from numbers of internal and external experts in this space. And I do believe they're right for our platform".

"And while Joe has a massive audience", he went on, "and is actually the number one podcast in more than 90 markets, he also has to abide by those policies. So I think when you think about that and you think about the ad business, I have a tremendous amount of confidence".

As for how the creator boycott - and the resulting social media storm - is impacting on subscriber numbers, which is to say how many subscription cancellations it has caused, Ek said it was "too early" to say. The impact over past controversies has been seen over "months not days", he added.

Spotify's share price slipped 13% in after hours trading following yesterday's investor update, despite the key stats for the final quarter of 2021 being generally positive, with premium subscribers up to 180 million. The slip was likely mainly due to the growth projections Spotify shared for the current quarter, although the ongoing Young v Rogan debacle obviously doesn't help.


Opulous says Lil Yachty lawsuit is "meritless"
Music NFTs start-up Opulous has responded to a lawsuit filed by Lil Yachty, insisting that the claims in that legal filing are "meritless" and that the company will defend itself "vigorously".

Opulous is a music-centric fin-tech and NFTs platform launched by the founders of Ditto Music. Specifically in the NFTs space, it has launched a fan-funding product that allows investors and fans to pledge money to an artist linked to an upcoming track and to then share in any royalties said track subsequently generates. That royalty right is logged on the blockchain as an NFT and then administered by Ditto, which distributes the music.

The service properly launched last year with an NFT drop involving Lil Pump and Soulja Boy. However, prior to that in pre-launch communications the start-up identified Lil Yachty as an artist set to be involved in the venture.

In his lawsuit, the rapper claimed that he had not, in fact, agreed to work with Opulous. He and his management team had had a couple of meetings with the firm's founder Lee Parsons and Chief Marketing Officer Fernando Cruz, but those were basically introductory meetings and did not result in Lil Yachty making any commitments to the company.

Therefore, by mentioning him in its formal communications, the NFTs start-up was "falsely representing that plaintiff, Lil Yachty, was affiliated, connected and associated with the Opulous platform".

Not so, says Opulous. In a short statement responding to last week's lawsuit the firm says: "Contrary to the assertions in the complaint filed by Lil Yachty, Opulous's uses of Lil Yachty's name and likeness were all authorised by Lil Yachty and his representatives. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these meritless claims".

We look forward to seeing that vigorous defence in full.


Little Mix's Leigh-Anne Pinnock signs solo deal with Warner Records
Warner Records UK has signed Little Mix's Leigh-Anne Pinnock to a solo record deal. This follows the group's announcement that they are "taking a break" in December.

Pinnock's first solo material emerged just before Little Mix announced their hiatus, as part of the film 'Boxing Day', in which she played a pop star. Although singing songs in a film where you're playing someone who sings for a living doesn't seem too unusual, that project only added fuel to the rumours that Pinnock was planning to launch a full-blown solo career.

Few details about said full-blown solo career have been made available yet. Warner Records announced the deal in a tweet yesterday, saying that it is "delighted to welcome Leigh-Anne Pinnock to the Warner Records family", before pushing fans to sign up to her mailing list for more info. The word (aka, what someone who spoke to The Sun said) is that she's been in the studio recording solo tracks for the last few months.

Pinnock's Little Mix bandmate Jade Thirlwall is also set to launch a solo career, with rumours late last year that she was in talks with another Warner label, Atlantic. Meanwhile, Jesy Nelson, who left the group in 2020, is reportedly preparing to return with new music, in an effort to salvage the disastrous launch of her own solo career last October.


Twitch announces Merlin deal
The Twitch deals are now all falling into place, with Merlin the latest to announce a "dynamic new agreement" with the Amazon owned livestreaming platform.

The indie label repping digital rights agency says that its new deal with Twitch "recognises the power of independent artists and their impact in the Twitch community, creates revenue earning opportunities for Merlin members and their artists, and leans into Twitch's increased focus on music-centric programming".

"We're THRILLED to collaborate with Twitch for this groundbreaking deal", Merlin chief Jeremy Sirota adds. "We've been engaged in conversations with Twitch since the day I started at Merlin, and I'm pleased that our team found a path for Merlin members and their artists to better engage fan communities across the Twitch ecosystem, whether in music, gaming or beyond. Merlin members are excited to lean into this opportunity on behalf of their artists".

Meanwhile Twitch music boss Tracy Chan says: "It really is an exciting time to be an independent artist. The relationship between fan and artist has been transformed, and we're proud to offer a new pathway to success for so many artists. Our partnership with Merlin affords their members' independent artists an on-ramp to our devoted and engaged Twitch community. We are grateful for the collaborative work of our colleagues at Merlin and know that, together, we can achieve great things for a sector of the music community that has never been more influential".

Of course, Twitch found itself towards the top of the music industry's diss list for a while after it started proactively courting creators beyond its original community of gamers, including musicians, despite not having many music licences in place beyond deals with the US song right collecting societies.

However, some indie distributors announced partnerships, while talks were going on behind the scenes with the bigger licensing entities, including the majors and Merlin. Both Warner Music and Universal Music have also announced their own Twitchy deals in recent months.

Specifics of these partnerships aren't especially clear, though - among other things - they facilitate the creation of label and artist channels on the Twitch platform, as well as making it easier for rights owners to get unapproved use of their music by creators on the service taken down.


Tiffany Calver launches label in partnership with Polydor
Host of BBC Radio 1Xtra's 'Rap Show' Tiffany Calver has announced she is launching a new label in partnership with Universal Music's Polydor Records. And there are artists already on the roster in the form of Bandokay and M'Way.

The label is called No Requests, and Calver says of the venture: "It's about supporting what I believe in, the people I'm a fan of. I'm more of a specialist, I'm not a party DJ. I'm picky, I'm selective, I'm credible".

On the Polydor partnership, she adds: "It's a real privilege to take a leap into this new chapter by partnering with a force like Polydor - a label that has a proven track record for developing successful artists and careers, and that understands the power of combining their years of expertise with fresh ears".

Meanwhile, Polydor's co-President Ben Mortimer says: "In recent years, Tiffany has established herself as one of the UK's most important tastemakers. She already has a great track record in identifying exciting talent, and a unique approach in how to support them. We feel very lucky that she has decided to partner with Polydor for No Requests".


Sony music and film businesses in India launch new media talent venture
Sony Music and Sony Pictures are getting together in India to launch a new venture called Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India which will be, well, getting involved in some entertainment talent ventures, in India.

And what will the media talent that join up with SETVI for some fun time ventures be getting? Well, "investment opportunities, partnerships, metaverse solutions and more". And, with two Sony businesses already involved here, these future ventures might also involve tie ups with Sony PlayStation or Sony Electronics. Hurrah for joined up gubbins!

"SETVI will leverage our expertise, deep local relationships and global reach to give talent the potential to scale, become household brands and fully realise their creative and commercial potential", says Shridhar Subramaniam, President of Corporate Strategy And Market Development for Sony Music in Asia and the Middle East.

"The digital revolution and India's unique start-up culture bring huge opportunities", he adds, "and SETVI's role will be to partner with talent to build and serve their fans in exciting new ways".

Meanwhile, Sanford Panitch, President of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, chips in: "Sony Group's ecosystem in India offers far-reaching and unique opportunities for talent to build their brands in an authentic way".

The new business will be led by CEO Vijay Singh, with both Subramaniam and Panitch - plus CEO of Sony Pictures Networks India NP Singh - on the board.

Says Vijay Singh: "Our ambition is to work as advisors to talent to build their wealth and legacy and unlock the best monetisation opportunities for them in India and the world. It's exciting to be spearheading this new venture and I look forward to working with talent to fulfil their ambitions in the coming years".


Approved: Lozeak
With a head start for the launch of her pop career thanks to an already sizeable TikTok following, Lozeak arrived with her debut single, 'Word Vomit', late last year. Her brash sound and personal lyrics pack an immediate punch. Now she's back to get you again with new single 'Hate Me Too'.

"I wrote 'Hate Me Too' about a friend throwing away a friendship because of a stupid reason - where you have been made out to be a shitty person when you're not", she says. "When I started going to London at sixteen to work on my music I felt like I lost a lot of friends from Norwich because I was so busy and didn't go home often".

"I found it frustrating when nobody understood at the time but writing angry songs like 'Hate Me Too' made me feel better about it", she goes on. "The tone is quite sarcastic - joking that I would 'Hate Me Too' if I was my mate, when in reality I wouldn't".

Watch the video for 'Hate Me Too' here.

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


Sony Music Publishing has signed Dagny to a worldwide publishing deal. "I'm super excited to be joining the wonderful Sony Music Publishing family", she says. "I'm especially happy they share my vision of continuing to develop my artist career as well as helping me progress as a songwriter for other artists".

CCS Rights Management has signed a sub-publishing agreement covering its home country of Canada with Irish publisher Bardis Music Company. "I'm very pleased to represent Bardis Music in Canada", says CCS President Jodie Ferneyhough. "The legendary company is synonymous with Irish music, and we are truly privileged to be selected as their sub-publisher".



The global grouping for the indie music community, the Worldwide Independent Network, has appointed its board for 2022, with Maria Amato, CEO of the Australian Independent Record Labels Association, as Chair. "Today's news marks the first time that WIN has been chaired both by a woman and by someone from outside Europe and the Americas", says former WIN Chair and Beggars boss Martin Mills. "Combined with the just-announced formation of the new Turkish trade association, this speaks volumes about the progress of the independent movement worldwide".

Kobalt has promoted Emily Bines to VP Creative. "To me, there is no better home for creators who value transparency and teamwork than Kobalt", she says. "I am THRILLED to continue to grow alongside an impeccable global team of music lovers who, at our core, strive to always put our songwriters first".

Carl Smith has been named the new Editor of The Official Charts Company's website, He joins from Bauer Media's Heat. "It's an honour to join the Official Charts team at such an exciting time for the brand", he says. "We have some huge plans to celebrate 70 years of the iconic Official Singles Chart, while looking to the future and recruiting a whole new generation of Official Charts followers".

Josh Remsberg has joined Warner Records as SVP Commercial Revenue. He moves over from Universal Music, where he has spent the last two decades. "I'm incredibly excited to be joining the Warner family", he says. "The industry is evolving rapidly, and I'm looking forward to helping this great label seize every opportunity to do world-class work in support of our talent".

Downtown Music has announced two promotions in its legal and business affairs team. Previously Head Of Corporate Legal Affairs at Downtown's FUGA subsidiary, Claire Jacobs has been named Downtown's VP Of International Legal & Business Affairs, and Amber Charania, previously Legal Counsel for Downtown, has been promoted to the role of Director Of Legal & Business Affairs.



The second stage of the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Music's inquiry into the barriers facing UK artists touring the EU post-Brexit is set to take place on Monday, with veteran promoter Harvey Goldsmith, Association Of British Orchestras CEO Mark Pemberton, LIVE Touring Group Chair Craig Stanley, and PEARLE's Director Anita Debaere and Head Of Public Affairs Silke Lalvani set to give evidence. Sign up to watch live here.



With their new album, 'Requiem', out this Friday, Korn have released new single 'Lost In The Grandeur'. The band are playing a launch show at the Hollywood United Methodist Church tomorrow. If you can't get there, the good news is that they're livestreaming it on YouTube. If you're in the UK, the bad news is that it starts at 4am.

Arlo Parks has released new single 'Softly'. "The song is about how it feels to brace yourself before the blow of a break up and reminisce about the days where it all felt luminous", she says.

There's a new Illuminati Hotties single everyone. It is called 'Sandwich Sharer'.

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


Rudy Giuliani Masked Singer unmasking prompts judges to walk out
Two judges on the US version of 'The Masked Singer' - Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong - reportedly walked off set in protest during a recent recording of the show after one of the contestants was revealed to be Rudy Giuliani.

According to Deadline, the episode of the show in question was filmed last week and is set to air on the Fox network next month. Donald Trump's disgraced former attorney - who was instrumental in pushing the false claim that the 2020 US presidential election had been rigged - did not receive the welcome he might have expected on the light-hearted show.

Jeong and Thicke reportedly walked off stage upon seeing Giuliani, while the show's two other judges, Jenny McCarthy and Nicole Scherzinger, remained and chatted with him.

It's not clear if the final edit of the show will make the walk-out apparent. But, hey, who would have thought Robin Thicke would ever be taking the moral high ground?

Giuliani might seem like a strange booking for the show - though it is a show that thrives on strange bookings. And it's not the first time a controversial political figure has been included in the line-up. In 2020, the show faced criticism for booking Sarah Palin. She left the show after failing to impress judges with a performance of 'Baby Got Back' by Sir Mix-a-Lot. No, really.

What song caused Giuliani to be unmasked has not been revealed, but there's a long list of other indiscretions for you to sift through while you wait for that information.


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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