TODAY'S TOP STORY: The US government has published its annual review of online and physical marketplaces that are "notorious" for facilitating and encouraging intellectual property theft. Amazon is no longer on the list after its controversial inclusion in 2020 and 2021. However, online services and marketplaces run by various Chinese tech giants continue to be criticised... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Amazon removed but Chinese web giants remain on US government's big piracy list
LEGAL R Kelly's lawyer argues for acquittal or retrial in New York sex abuse case
DEALS Avex USA partners with Sony Music Publishing
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Eat Your Own Years launches record label
Alcopop Records launches film distribution arm
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Brian Epstein statue to be erected in Liverpool
ONE LINERS Kanye West, Joe Rogan, Lizzo, more
AND FINALLY... Ed Sheeran's collaboration with Cradle Of Filth still on
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Amazon removed but Chinese web giants remain on US government's big piracy list
The US government has published its annual review of online and physical marketplaces that are "notorious" for facilitating and encouraging intellectual property theft. Amazon is no longer on the list after its controversial inclusion in 2020 and 2021. However, online services and marketplaces run by various Chinese tech giants continue to be criticised.

The annual Notorious Markets report lists operations outside of the US which pose a threat to IP-owning businesses in the States by offering pirated and counterfeit material. It's designed as a guide for the office of the US Trade Representative so that it can put pressure on foreign governments to act against IP-infringing websites and companies based in their respective countries.

The list of online operations that facilitate copyright infringement include many of the usual suspects. The Pirate Bay is always in there every year. "As one of the first BitTorrent indexing websites and one of the most vocal in openly promoting piracy, The Pirate Bay reportedly remains the most frequently visited BitTorrent index site in the world", the latest report notes.

"Authorities in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom have issued orders blocking access to this site", it goes on. "Right holders report that this site does not respond to any notice-and-takedown requests".

Alongside the file-sharing platforms in the notorious markets list are the stream-rippers, including FLVTO, which the US record industry has been busy fighting in the courts of late. "FLVTO is highlighted again this year as an example of the stream-ripping phenomenon that continues to threaten legitimate streaming audio and video services, music performers, and composers", the report states.

"This site allows users to download converted YouTube videos as digital audio files, but right holders claim it does not appear to have permission from YouTube or from right holders for a wide variety of copyrighted music", it goes on.

But perhaps more interesting in the report than the out-right piracy operations are the services operated by ultimately legitimate web companies that are nevertheless accused by American IP owners of facilitating some kind of infringement.

Amazon's inclusion in the reports published in 2020 and 2021 was particularly noteworthy. That inclusion was based on complaints that third party sellers were using Amazon sites in Europe to sell counterfeit goods. Amazon, the report said, should be doing more to counter that.

Though for its part, Amazon argued that its inclusion in the report was political and linked to the ongoing feud between its boss man Jeff Bezos and then US President Donald Trump. Which may or may not have been true. Certainly now that the compilers of the Notorious Markets list are reporting into Joe Biden, Amazon does not appear.

But web giants based in other countries do still get a listing. That includes Russian social network VK. It long ago placated the music industry by launched a licensed music service in Russia, but other copyright industries still have issues with the social media firm.

"VK reportedly facilitates the distribution of copyright-infringing files, with thousands of infringing videos and e-books identified by the US motion picture and publishing industries each month", the report says. "Right holders acknowledge that VK has a notice-and-takedown system, but note that it lacks an effective repeat infringer policy and other processes to effectively reduce the volume of infringing content posted by its subscribers".

Among the Chinese web giants to get a mention are Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. With Baidu, it's the company's cyber-locker Baidu Wangpan that gets criticised, it hosting lots of copyright infringing material that is then linked to by its file-sharing users.

"According to right holders, infringers widely share links to pirated movies, TV shows, and books stored on Baidu Wangpan", the report says. "While right holders report some cooperation from Baidu in recent years and Baidu provides some tools for taking down unauthorised motion picture and television content, takedown times are reportedly lengthy, and right holders often have to follow-up with Baidu to ensure that pirated content does not reappear on the platform".

With Alibaba and Tencent, its platforms that are used to sell counterfeit goods that are criticised. That includes Alibaba's AliExpress and Taobao platforms, and the e-commerce tools within Tencent's WeChat ecosystem.

Tencent - an important partner of the music industry in China, of course - is not happy that its WeChat platform is included on the big US list of IP infringers, telling the BBC that it has "invested significant resources" into protecting intellectual property rights on its platforms.

Its spokesperson added: "We strongly disagree with the decision made by the United States Trade Representative and are committed to working collaboratively to resolve this matter".

You can check out this year's report here.


R Kelly's lawyer argues for acquittal or retrial in New York sex abuse case
R Kelly's new lawyer filed legal papers with the courts in New York yesterday seeking to have the musician acquitted or retried in relation to his conviction last year on charges of racketeering and sexual exploitation. Among the reasons given for acquittal or retrial are the failings of Kelly's former legal team.

At trial last September, Kelly was found guilty of building and running a criminal enterprise that allowed him to prolifically groom and abuse young people, often teenagers. He was convicted of all the charges against him and faces ten years to life in prison.

The musician has now hired the services of Jennifer Bonjean, who was behind Bill Cosby's successful appeal of his own sexual assault conviction. She filed papers yesterday setting out arguments for why her client should have a retrial - or simply be acquitted.

According to Rolling Stone, in arguing for a retrial, Bonjean claims that Kelly was denied his rights under the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution in the original trial, in particular in relation to the impartiality of the jury.

This was caused by the weakness of his previous legal team, Bonjean says, who did not effectively assess potential jurors and challenge unqualified jurors. For example, she argues, some jurors had seen the docuseries 'Surviving R Kelly' or knew about the past allegations of sexual abuse against teenagers that had been made against Kelly, resulting in a jury that "was neither fair nor impartial".

Though finding twelve Americans completely oblivious of at least some of the allegations that had been made against Kelly over the years would probably had been a major task.

Bonjean also brings up a conflict of interest claim that was made in relation to one of Kelly's former lawyers, Nicole Blank Becker. That was based on an allegations that Becker had previously given legal advice to one of Kelly's girlfriends, who subsequently split from the musician and later began cooperating with the prosecution.

That potential conflict was brought up before Kelly's trial, with Becker denying she ever gave formal legal advice to the woman in question. Kelly said the potential conflict didn't bother him at the time, but Bonjean now says that it was, in fact, an "unwaivable conflict" and the failure to address said conflict at the time is another reason for a retrial.

As for the arguments in favour of acquittal, Bonjean reckons that the prosecution never actually proved her client established a criminal enterprise to groom and abuse young people, and therefore the charges of racketeering were not proven, and likewise there was insufficient evidence to back up the other crimes he was accused of.

It remains to be seen how the judge in New York responds. Meanwhile, there's the matter of the separate trial Kelly is facing in Chicago, also in relation to allegations of sexual abuse against young people, although without any racketeering charges.

Kelly has now appointed Bonjean to lead on that case too. Until recently his legal reps in Chicago were still Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard. They were also originally key members of Kelly's defence team in New York, but stopped working on that case before his trial, seemingly because of disagreements with other members of the musician's legal team, including Becker.

According to the Chicago Tribune, during a call with the court on Wednesday, Kelly was asked by the judge overseeing the Chicago case if he was parting ways with Greenberg and Leonard in favour of Bonjean. He told the judge, simply, "that's correct, your honour".


Avex USA partners with Sony Music Publishing
Sony Music Publishing has signed a global administration deal covering the publishing catalogue of the US division of Japanese major label Avex.

"We were so impressed by the culture of Sony's A&R team, they are incredibly creative and professional, and really understand both the artistry and business side of music", says Naoki Osada, President of Avex USA. "This partnership enables us to offer our artists an expansive network of support and opportunities for their songs worldwide, while maintaining Avex USA's boutique, familial approach to working".

Sony Music Publishing's SVP Creative Amanda Hill and VP Creative Nick Bral add in a joint statement: "We are THRILLED to welcome Avex USA to the SMP team. They continue to build and nurture an incredible roster of talent and we look forward to working together as they continue to grow".

At one time Japan's largest label, in recent years Avex has seen its domestic market share fall behind Universal and Sony. This has prompted a downsizing at its Tokyo HQ and efforts to grow its international operations, including moving into the live music business via a partnership with AEG.

Avex USA launched its publishing division a year ago and has stakes in hits including 'Peaches' by Justin Bieber and 'WAP' by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. It also represents songwriters including Bernard 'Harv' Harvey, Cxdy of Internet Money, and King Kosa.


Eat Your Own Years launches record label
Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, promoter Eat Your Own Ears has announced that it is launching its own record label. They are calling it Eat Your Own Ears Recordings, you know, to avoid confusion.

The label will be run by EYOE co-founder Tom Baker and promoter Lucy Pitkethly in partnership with Universal's Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, and its first announced release is a compilation of unreleased tracks by artists that EYOE has championed over the last two decades, including Four Tet, Metronomy, Neneh Cherry and Caribou.

"I've always had an interest in starting a label but just never managed to find the time or head space to actually work out how to go about it", says Baker. "After a chance meeting with an artist manager friend while running along the canal in Hackney Marshes, I was introduced to the legendary Jim Chancellor, MD of Virgin Music and also Fiction Records, [and] after a fair few lockdown Zooms, Eat Your Own Ears Recordings was born".

On that compilation, he goes on: "It's important to us that we continue to celebrate our musical eclecticism that we hope to bring to Eat Your Own Ears Recordings, and [the compilation] is very much in keeping with the diverse roster of artists we promote and have promoted over the years. It will be a mix of exclusive new tracks, unreleased tracks, and tracks from artists on the EYOE roster past, present, and future".

Pitkethly adds: "Having worked in live music at Eat Your Own Ears for the last twelve years, the recording side of the industry was always something that I wanted to explore. So when Tom asked if I'd like to be involved in setting up a label for EYOE I jumped at the chance. Discovering new music has always been a big passion of mine, whether it's brand new acts or forgotten gems, so I'm really looking forward to working with Tom to release some exciting music".

The aforementioned Jim Chancellor also says: "Virgin Music are delighted to have the esteemed promoter Eat Your Own Ears join our ranks. Tom, Lucy and the team have always had exceptional taste, and now they have an outlet for recorded music".

They sure do. Beyond the compilation, more news about the company's first full on signing, Bloodmoon, is set to arrive next week.


Alcopop Records launches film distribution arm
Alcopop Records has announced that it is launching a new film distribution division. The first film on its books will be the latest documentary from 'Anyone Can Play Guitar' director Jon Spira, 'Hollywood Bulldogs: The Rise And Falls Of The Great British Stuntman'.

"For a label that's always prioritised creativity and aesthetic wonderment over the pursuit of financial gain, it's important to us that we develop", says Alcopop boss Jack Clothier. "With the arts feeling so under threat at the moment, I personally have been feeling more and more excited by a richer tapestry of culture beyond music, feeling more connected to artists, film-makers and writers as well; inspired by what they're doing and creating".

"When my friend and director Jon Spira came to us with this smashing film, 'Hollywood Bulldogs', it felt ridiculous to not get on board", he goes on. "It's stuffed with charm; a historic movement of genuinely heartfelt stories from a community that have a hell of a lot of narrative to share. Plus it's narrated by bloody Ray Winstone. What's not to like!"

What indeed? I can't think of anything. Spira is the director of two other feature length documentaries, the aforementioned 'Anyone Can Play Guitar' - about the Oxford music scene - and 'Elstree 1976' - which caught up with various extras from the original 'Star Wars' movie.

Both are excellent. Spira has also directed a new documentary series, 'Reel Britannia', about the history of British cinema, for 'BritBox'.

'Hollywood Bulldogs' - which, as its full title explains, is about British stuntmen - is set to hit streaming services in the UK on 4 Apr, with a Blu-ray release to follow later this year. A launch party is set to take place at the Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford on 24 Mar.


Brian Epstein statue to be erected in Liverpool
Liverpool City Council has granted planning permission for the construction of a statue of The Beatles' late manager Brian Epstein. It'll be good to finally have something Beatles-related up in the city.

Paul McCartney is apparently "delighted" by the news of the statue, which will be erected in the Whitechapel area of Liverpool, where Epstein's family once ran a record shop.

One of the statue's sculptors Jane Robbins - who also happens to be McCartney's cousin - told the BBC about the moment she showed the former Beatle photos of the planned memorial, saying: "He said a few rude words, but we were at a family party and I had the photos of the final clay on my phone. I showed him the photograph and he said 'bleep, bleep, bleep Janie, that's dead good like'. He spent several minutes looking at it and he was delighted".

"I don't know if there was an actual a tear in his eye but he was very moved to see the clay and that, I think, speaks volumes", she added. "When you get a likeness, people do often cry because that person isn't around anymore".

Epstein discovered The Beatles when he saw them play at The Cavern Club in Liverpool in 1961. Instrumental in the band's subsequent massive success, he died from an accidental overdose in 1967. His death is generally seen as the catalyst for the band's eventual split three years later.

No date for the statue's unveiling has yet been announced.


CMU+TGE Update: Professional development programme TGE Elevate returns
This year's Great Escape Conference in Brighton in May will again feature the TGE Elevate professional development programme, enabled by kind support from Arts Council England and delivered in partnership with CMU.

There are two key strands to TGE Elevate.

First, 30 early-career music business executives and entrepreneurs - and aspiring music-makers - will attend The Great Escape as super-delegates, getting free access to the whole of the TGE festival and conference, as well as bespoke webinars, networking opportunities and Q&A sessions with leading industry executives, both before and during TGE itself.

This year's team of super-delegates will include managers and promoters, venue and label professionals, self-managed artists, and entrepreneurs developing innovative music businesses, and will be recruited from nominations put forward by a number of music industry organisations, including AIM, The Association Of Independent Promoters, Attitude Is Everything, FAC, MMF, Moving The Needle, Music Venues Trust, She Said So, The Route Co, Thirty Pound Gentleman, Women In CTRL and Young Guns Network.

Second, the final day of the TGE Conference on Saturday 14 May will consist of the TGE Elevate Sessions, a packed programme of panels, talks and debates aimed at those early on in their music business careers, whether on-stage or behind the scenes. CMU:DIY will also present a number of concise seminars, providing beginner guides to music rights, streaming, touring, fanbase building and direct-to-fan.

All TGE delegates get access to the Elevate Sessions, although free passes will also be distributed through a number of TGE's industry partners, including various further education colleges in the South East.

Click here to get the lowdown on all things TGE Elevate.


Aerosmith have signed a deal with Universal Music's merch-tastic Epic Rights for global brand management. "We are THRILLED to have Aerosmith, one of the all-time greatest rock icons, on the Epic Rights roster", says the company's SVP Global Licensing Lisa Streff. "In anticipation of the upcoming 50th anniversary activities, we're excited to be developing a global licensing programme that will celebrate and illustrate the band's career at retail". Exciting times indeed.

Accept have signed a new deal with Napalm Records. "I am really looking forward to working with a renowned, independent and strong label like Napalm Records", says guitarist and last remaining original member of the band, Wolf Hoffmann. "There are hard-working metallers at work here - that suits us. We are convinced that together we will reach the next level".

Physical music distribution companies, UK-based Proper Music Group and Netherlands-based Bertus, have agreed a new sales and distribution deal with the aim of simplifying the movement of releases across Europe. The first label to use the new system will be Nettwerk.



Sony Music Publishing has appointed Walter Jones as Head of A&R in the US, joining from Universal Music Publishing, where he had to share the same title. "I'm so excited to join the team in this new chapter at Sony Music Publishing, where I first became a publisher", he says. "This is the right time, and Sony is the right place. I look forward to working closely with our A&R team to continue serving our songwriter community".

Universal's Island Records has appointed Jhared 'Jae' Brown as VP A&R in the US. He joins from indie label Rostrum Records, where he held the same title. "I'm extremely excited to be joining the Island family", he says. "I look forward to working within their A&R and marketing systems, and making my contribution to the future of such a legendary label".

Music PR agency Listen Up has promoted James Jackson to Managing Director of radio, club and streaming promotions. He joined the agency all the way back in 2010, having previously been Promotions Manager at Defected Records. "After twelve years of helping build our business and the excellent reputation he has developed, this position is nothing but deserved", says company founder Luke Neville.



According to the New York Times, Spotify's deal with Joe Rogan was worth at least $200 million, double what was previously reported. So if you're already majorly pissed off that the streaming firm has been splashing the cash on n-word using COVID misinformation spreading podcasting jerks while simultaneously telling American songwriters to make fucking do with some digital fucking bread crumbs, you are now mathematically obliged to be twice as pissed off. Or at least, I think that's how it works.



Lizzo's new TV show, 'Watch Out For The Big Grrrls', which will see her selecting a new crew of dancers for her upcoming world tour, is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on 25 Mar. The first trailer for it has just dropped.

New Olivia Rodrigo performance film 'Driving Home 2 U (A Sour Film)' will hit Disney+ on 25 Mar. "This is a unique film experience where for the first-time fans will understand how her album came to be and why it was such a personal journey for Olivia", says Ayo Davis, President of Disney Branded Television. "This is not a concert film per se, but really, an opportunity to experience first-hand how Olivia Rodrigo became one of the biggest music stars of the day - and a chance to see her perform the songs from [her debut album] 'Sour' like never before".

Megan Thee Stallion has been cast in new musical move 'Fucking Identical Twins'. The film apparently sees two business rivals realise that they're long lost identical twins and switch places to get their divorced parents back together. I think that premise is supposed to sound stupid. Based on a stage show, it's been described as a "subversive" take on 'The Parent Trap'.



The Green Events & Innovations Conference has announced the first speakers for its 2022 edition. They include Wembley Arena GM John Drury, the Royal Albert Hall's Lucy Noble, Chiara Badiali of Julie's Bicycle, and Yourope's Holger Jan Schmidt. The event will take place on 29 Apr, as part of the International Live Music Conference.

Speaking of ILMC, it has just announced a new partnership with ASM Global to expand its Alia Dann Swift Bursary Scheme, which promotes and encourages the next generation of young executive talent. The scheme will see 30 young executives given a place at this year's ILMC, which takes place in London from 26-29 Apr.



Kanye West has said that his new album 'Donda 2' will only be available on the Stem Player device he launched last year. So, if you want to hear it, it's going to set you back $200. For everyone else, you are no longer obliged to listen to it and have an opinion. This is Ye's gift to you.

Years & Years and Regard have teamed up for new single 'Hallucination'. "I wrote 'Hallucination' with Joel Little back in 2019. I was inspired to write it when an ex-lover attempted to re-enter my life", says Olly Alexander. "I could never find the right home for the song though, so when I heard Regard was into it and down to work on it I was so happy! I love the new sexy trippy life he's brought to the track".

That thrash metal single wasn't a one-off, Dave Grohl is planning to put out a full album as fictional band Dream Widow from Foo Fighters' 'Studio 666' movie. The album should be out alongside the movie next week, despite the fact he hasn't actually recorded it yet. "It will be the lost album", Grohl tells Rolling Stone. "It'll be the album they were making before he fucking killed the entire band. I mean, I work fast, but fuck, this deadline is going to kill me. Yes, I'll get it out for the movie. By 25 Feb, there will be a Dream Widow record".

Slipknot have released the video for their sort of recent single 'The Chapeltown Rag'. The band have a new album on the way this year, so you can probably expect more of this sort of thing quite soon.

Troye Sivan has released new single 'Trouble', featuring Jay Som. It's taken from the soundtrack of new film 'Three Months', which also stars Sivan.

RZA and DJ Scratch have released new track 'Fate Of The World'. Their new album together, 'Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater', is out on 4 Mar.

Amon Amarth are back with new single 'Put Your Back Into The Oar'.

Andy And The Oddsocks have released new single 'Planet Rock', featuring Brian May.

Fyfe & Iskra Strings have released new single 'Deletia', featuring Mysie. Their new album, 'Interiority', it out on 3 Jun.

Yumi Zouma have released new single 'Where The Light Used To Lay'. Their new album, 'Present Tense', is out on 18 Mar.

Snapped Ankles have released new standalone single 'Barbecue In Brazil'. The band start UK tour dates next week.

Frontperson - aka The New Pornographers' Kathryn Calder and Woodpigeon's Mark Andrew Hamilton - will release new album, 'Parade', on 29 Apr. Here's the title track.

Guerilla Toss have released new single 'Famously Alive', the title track of their new album, out on Sub Pop on 25 Mar.



Lil Wayne has been announced as the Sunday headliner of this year's Strawberries & Creem festival in Cambridge. It'll be his first UK live performance for fourteen years and his only show in Europe this year. The festival takes place from 17-19 Jun, with Ella Mai headlining Friday and Mabel topping the bill on Saturday. Tickets go on general sale on Tuesday.

Ed Sheeran has announced warm up shows for his upcoming stadium tour, with a run of shows at Electric Ballroom and Alexandra Palace Theatre in London and Concorde 2 in Brighton. Tickets are sold out already, obviously, but I thought you'd still like to know.

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


Ed Sheeran's collaboration with Cradle Of Filth still on
When Ed Sheeran and Bring Me The Horizon opened the BRIT Awards last week with a metal version of 'Bad Habits' I think everyone watching - every single one - immediately screamed, "What about Cradle Of Filth?!"

After all, the extreme metal band were the first to talk about working on a heavy collaboration with Sheeran and it looked a little like they'd been sidelined for some more chart-friendly metallers. It's alright though, Ed Sheeran can manage more than one riff partnership. Things are still at the discussion stage regarding the Cradle Of Filth collaboration though.

"Ed's expressed a desire to be part of a song, and we're currently looking at some options, and that's about as far as it's got", the band's frontman Dani Filth tells Heavy Consequence.

"The thing that interests me [is] the juxtaposition between what we do and what he does", he adds. "I think it's a bit of a challenge to undertake".

"I've really favoured that of late", he goes on. "I've done a guest spot with Bring Me The Horizon, The 69 Eyes and, more recently, Twiztid, as well. And, on each of those occasions, I've had people whispering in my ear, 'That's not going to work. That's going to be really weird. You shouldn't do that. That's gonna be detrimental'. And people saying that means I'll just do the opposite".

Filth revealed last summer that he had been in contact with Sheeran, after the pop star said that he'd been a fan of Cradle Of Filth in his teens and "would not be opposed" to recording a bit of metal one day.

"I think it'd be great if we did it for charity, because at least it would bring a bit of credibility to it", he told Kerrang Radio at the time. "Because obviously to his public, it'd be like, 'Oh my god, he's got this weird comical guy', and to my public it'd be like, 'Oh my god, this is a bit weird, isn't it?' But I think that sort of thing nowadays works".

In the new Heavy Consequence interview Filth also says that Sheeran told him that the band are partly responsible for him pursuing a career in music. Sort of. After a work experience job at their studio fell through when he was a teenager, he took a position at the local council instead, and that convinced him that he never wanted to get a proper job.

As the Cradle Of Filth frontman notes, he has also previously worked with Bring Me The Horizon, appearing on their 2018 single 'Wonderful Life'.

While we wait to hear what Sheeran and Cradle Of Filth might come up with, the studio version of his and Bring Me The Horizon's new version of 'Bad Habits' is out now.


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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