TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK government yesterday formally announced the end of all remaining COVID restrictions in England. That move has been generally welcomed by the live music sector, though with the proviso that further government support for the industry will still be required. Some have also expressed concern that free COVID testing will be phased out from the start of April... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Industry welcomes latest relaxation of COVID rules, but insists further government support is needed
DEALS Warner Music announces partnership with Indian pop star Armaan Malik
ClicknClear announces new deal with Warner Music

LABELS & PUBLISHERS Family In Music unveils more of its songwriter tools
LIVE BUSINESS Bring Me The Horizon reduced emissions by 38% on 2021 arena tour
ARTIST NEWS Britney Spears signs $15 million deal for tell-all book
RELEASES Porridge Radio announce new album, tour dates
AND FINALLY... Dave Grohl: "I'm a rock musician. I'm fucking deaf"
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Mute is looking for a Digital Content & Communications Coordinator. The role will focus on content creation and social media/web marketing across new releases and catalogue campaigns.

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Proper Music Distribution is looking for a driven music lover to help facilitate the growth of its digital department and assist its roster of independent labels and artists in getting the best out of their releases.

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Kilimanjaro Live is looking for a rock music Assistant Promoter with solid live experience to support a senior Promoter in the staging of primarily rock music concerts and events in a variety of venues across the UK.

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Point Blank Music School is looking for a module leader to come onboard to teach and lead its Marketing and Branding module which is part of its Music Production and Sound Engineering and Music Production and DJ Performance degrees.

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As a Campaign Manager at Kilimanjaro Live you will assume responsibility for the creation, implementation and monitoring of all the marketing functions for the shows and tours assigned to you.

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The Motorpoint Arena Cardiff is seeking a Deputy General Manager. This is a senior position within the team, responsible for a variety of duties that contribute to the effective management and smooth running of arena and lead exceptional delivery of our core business objectives and commercial targets.

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Founded by songwriters Björn Ulvaeus, Max Martin and Niclas Molinder, Session aims to combat inadequate creator data collection. As an in-house Senior Marketing Executive for Session, you'll be responsible for reaching the global music creator community to drive user acquisition on the Session Studio app.

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Night Department is looking for an ambitious, driven and dedicated Social Media Manager to join its team who is extremely passionate about the company's roster.

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Night Department is looking for an ambitious, driven and dedicated Marketing Manager to join our team and drive forward the marketing efforts of its roster.

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The Publishing Development Manager (UK) will be responsible for developing and maintaining effective internal partnerships within the Sentric Music Group and through direct ownership of high value and high influence client relationships and industry partnerships.

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Kilimanjaro Live is seeking a Promoter Assistant to assist two Promoters in the music and comedy/spoken word spheres to deliver tours and events and working with new and established artists across a variety of venues in the UK. 

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Industry welcomes latest relaxation of COVID rules, but insists further government support is needed
The UK government yesterday formally announced the end of all remaining COVID restrictions in England. That move has been generally welcomed by the live music sector, though with the proviso that further government support for the industry will still be required. Some have also expressed concern that free COVID testing will be phased out from the start of April.

As expected, the government has confirmed that, from Thursday this week, the requirement for those who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate will simply become guidance, while those who have come into close contact with the virus who are vaccinated will no longer need to take daily COVID tests for the following week.

It's all part of Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson's new "living with COVID" plan which, like most of the PM's strategies, is based on that solid political theory that if everyone can just remain really optimistic, it will probably all turn out fine.

And - of course - if you make it harder for everyone to test whether they have COVID-19, it's much easier to be in denial about the continued presence of the virus in wider society.

Even though with the further relaxation of COVID rules, arguably it's more important than ever for people to do a COVID test when attending crowded events or coming into close contact with anyone who is clinically vulnerable. Those who are clinically vulnerable should still be able to access free tests after 1 Apr, though that's not really the point, is it?

With that in mind, it's been pointed out that - while it's hoped that the further relaxation of COVID rules will help speed up the return to something nearing normal for the live sector - those in the music community who are clinically vulnerable will still likely need to avoid crowded venues and such like.

Indeed, that will become even more important as the official line for the population at large is that it's now fine to be slack about COVID-19. All of which means, those people will still need government support.

Plus, of course, even once festivals, venues and other night-time businesses are back to full operations at full capacity, those companies still face many challenges after two years of lockdowns, cancellations and extra logistics. To that end, the live industry is still calling for extended and extra support schemes from the government.

All of these points were raised by reps of the music industry when responding to the government's confirmation about its "living with COVID" plan yesterday.

The CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, David Martin, said: "The removal of restrictions signals another step towards some normality for the music industry, however we remain concerned about artists and others in the sector who are clinically vulnerable and unable to return to live activity. Government must do more to support those who cannot work by extending access to COVID crisis funding to clinically vulnerable freelancers".

"Our sector has published best practice guidance for making live activity as safe as possible", he added. "It encourages artists, crew and fans to take lateral flow tests, so today's news that access to free tests is to be scrapped is completely counter productive in our efforts to keep live music open. Evidence of a negative test still represents the best method of ensuring events operate safely and we would encourage their use even when not mandated".

Greg Parmley, CEO of live sector trade group LIVE, said: "The end of COVID-19 restrictions represents a huge, welcome relief to the live music sector, which lost billions in revenue throughout the pandemic. But with spiralling costs and thousands of companies struggling with pandemic debt, it's crucial that government does not abandon and set the sector adrift, just as it starts to tread water again".

"We are calling for a reverse to the planned hike in VAT rates and the imminent end to business rates relief in order to avoid further business closures and job losses within our sector", he added.

And Paul Reed, CEO of the Association Of Independent Festivals, said: "While we welcome legal restrictions around COVID-19 coming to an end and the prospect of a full capacity festival season, the effects of the pandemic are still being felt by the independent festival sector and the need for government action remains. With festival organisers facing crippling cost increases of up to 30% across operations and infrastructure, this is not back to business as usual for festivals, and it is not a case of 'job done' for ministers".

"AIF reiterates its call", he added, "for ongoing support from government in the form of continued VAT relief on festival tickets, to maintain the current reduced 12.5% rate on tickets beyond the end of March; and to also explore some form of government-backed loan scheme for suppliers to alleviate some of these pressures and encourage investment in the festival supply chain".

Those calls were also echoed by Greg Marshall, General Manager of the Association For Electronic Music, who said: "AFEM welcomes the end of all legal COVID-19 regulations and the move to guidance announced in the UK today. However, the fragility of the chain of businesses and individuals which make up the electronic music club and events ecosystem needs to be recognised. Ongoing support measures will be required to ensure the recovery of this sector, in parallel with industry action to build consumer confidence and ensure a return of audience numbers to all event types in the long term".

Reps from the Night Time Industries Association and Music Venues Trust had already spoken about the latest changes to COVID rules after they were previewed by ministers over the weekend.


Warner Music announces partnership with Indian pop star Armaan Malik
Warner Music India has announced a partnership with Indian pop star Armaan Malik which will see the major and the musician sign artists via his Always Music Global label. That venture will also release some of Malik's own music, specifically his Hindi non-film music.

The two companies say the partnership will seek to further their "shared vision to fuel the burgeoning music scene of India" and to "release, market and position Hindi pop music across the world".

Says Malik: "I'm humbled and honoured to embark on a new chapter of my career with this unique collaboration between my label Always Music Global and Warner Music India. Showcasing Indian pop music at a global level has been a long-running dream of mine, and I can't wait to work towards fulfilling it".

Meanwhile, the MD of Warner Music India-SAARC, Jay Mehta, adds: "We are absolutely delighted to partner with Armaan Malik. He is undoubtedly one of the nation's favourite musicians, who, at a very young age, has fortified his position at the top. With this collaboration, we re committed to achieving our vision of bringing the Indian sound to a global audience".


ClicknClear announces new deal with Warner Music
ClicknClear - an agency that specialises in licensing music for performance sports - has announced a catalogue wide deal with Warner Music.

The company helps sort out music licences for those sports and sporting activities where music is core to the proceedings, including - according to the agency's official blurb - "cheerleading, jump rope, dance, the marching arts, gymnastics, indoor skydiving and many more".

Needless to say, the licensing of music for such activities can be complex, and often requires a lot more than sports venues and broadcasters simply securing licences from collecting societies. As a result plenty of performance sports have traditionally been unlicensed or under licensed, resulting in lost revenue for the music industry, which is a problem ClicknClear was set up to address.

It already has partnerships in place with many music companies to facilitate the licensing of performance sports, including a deal with Sony Music. The new deal with Warner significantly increases the catalogue of pre-cleared music available to those in the sports sector looking for licensed music to use in their events.

ClicknClear founder and CEO Chantal Epp says: "We are elated to finalise this global deal and partner with Warner Music Group to license the major's entire catalogue to the performance sports industry. It is a major milestone, as it significantly increases the pre-cleared tracks for performance sports".

"It also highlights the credibility and huge potential value of this previously untapped market to the music industry", she adds. "As we continue to do more deals with performance sports and use our technology to support their compliance in music licensing, the revenue stream to our music rights-holders will continue to increase".

Meanwhile, Warner Music's Senior Director of Global Digital Business Development, Tiago Correia, adds: "We are delighted to be working with ClicknClear. Their technology will help us to evolve the market by sharing clear and accurate data and empower the performance sports industry as a whole, all while ensuring our creators are getting appropriately remunerated and credited for their work. We're excited to see what's next and how we can explore and level-up untapped markets and regions".


Family In Music unveils more of its songwriter tools
Family In Music - the company that says it is "building a new music creator network that will revolutionise the way [creators] work and get paid" - has revealed more information about some of the other tools it is developing for creators in that network.

Last month the company unveiled MgNTa, a new data system to make it easier for songwriters - especially early career writers - to identify themselves and their work, with some of that data stored on the good old blockchain.

The other tools now unveiled include a song title checker, to allow writers to check if the song title they've just chosen is already attached to lots of other songs; an airplay revenue tool, to assess the approximate royalties being accrued by the airplay of any one song; and a cover song finder, a music recognition technology that seeks to identify covers of songs within the catalogue of recordings currently available on most of the streaming platforms.

Commenting on the new tools, Family In Music's Chief Innovation Officer Kevin Bacon says: "As a songwriter you want to focus on the creative at all times which is how great songs come to be. Our view is that technology has long been part of making music and now we want to harness it to create modern tools for the modern songwriter to enhance their creative and commercial journey".

Meanwhile, the company's Founder and Executive Chairman Juka Hynynen adds: "I started my music career as a songwriter and these tools are close to my heart. Securing the rights and proof of creation is the basis for everything. Finding the best song title is always an important part of the process and knowing what cover versions are out there is invaluable too. We are very excited to launch [this] toolkit for the amazing songwriting community".

Bacon will be discussing the Family In Music songwriter toolkit as part of the MUSIC+DATA strand curated by CMU at The Great Escape Conference this May - more info here.


Bring Me The Horizon reduced emissions by 38% on 2021 arena tour
Bring Me The Horizon have publish findings of a study about their 2021 arena tour, which show that various changes made to the running of the band's concerts reduced emissions by 38% compared to what would normally be expected.

Taking place in September last year, the weeklong run of dates around the UK was the first arena tour since the start of the pandemic. Among efforts to make the venture more environmentally friendly, the band used renewable fuel for tour vehicles, served only plant-based meals, reduced food waste, used more energy-efficient equipment and imposed a plastic bottle ban.

The report, prepared by A Greener Festival, looked at various ways those efforts affected the environmental impact of the tour, and in particular what it did to the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted, using the 'carbon dioxide equivalent' or CO2e measure. AGF estimates those eco-friendly tactics helped prevent 27.97 tonnes of CO2e being pumped into the atmosphere. The bulk of this - 22 tonnes - was due to switching to HVO Renewable Diesel in tour trucks.

Researchers also found that 3322 plastic bottles were prevented from being used, thanks to the ban in venues and use of water coolers behind the scenes.

"During the pandemic, the touring music industry came together on the important topic of sustainability", says AGF CEO Claire O'Neill. "We're so happy with the results from walking the talk with the first UK arena tour off the mark'".

"The report shows a direct link between well-being, stress, and environmental sustainability", she adds. "Culture change and industry restructuring is essential to achieve a green future for artist touring. There is much still to be done, but these results are undeniable evidence that we can take huge strides to reduce emissions and protect ecosystems immediately. There's no excuse to delay".

Matt Ash of the band's management company Raw Power says: "Working with an artist in BMTH and a tour production team that was fully behind the approach to sustainable touring was something that we absolutely endorsed and are keen to implement on all future touring whenever possible".

Like many acts experimenting with more environmentally friendly touring, the band hope that by publishing the findings of their efforts other artists can follow their lead. The report also notes that key to the band's success in reducing emissions was collaboration between all stakeholders involved in the tour - including management, promoter, venues and the band themselves.


Approved: Tomberline
If you've been sitting waiting for news of new music from singer-songwriter Tomberlin since her 2018 debut album, 'At Weddings', well... first off you missed her 'Projections' EP in 2020, but forget about that for the moment because this is very much the month for you. Honestly, if news about Tomberlin is your thing, then February 2022 is the one you have been waiting for.

A new album's on the way then? Yes, my friend, you are very astute. It's called 'I Don't Know Who Needs To Hear This' and is out on 29 Apr. But if this news is news to you, then you don't know that since the beginning of this month she's released two tracks from the album - the title track and now new single 'Happy Accident', a warmly nostalgic feeling indie epic which features Cass McCombs on guitar and Felix Walworth of Told Slant on drums.

"'Happy Accident' is a song about relational obscurity", she says. "Trying to sort out who you are or who you were to someone. Is this relationship romantic or is it just sex? Do you want to spend time with me or are you just bored? Do I make my own decisions that are good for me or are my decisions predominantly based on what I think you might want or need?"

"I was kind of walking through moments in previous relationships in my life", she adds. "I wanna know why someone wants to get to know me. Do you want to know me or just your idea of me? Do I want to know you or just my idea of you?"

As for the wider context of the album as a whole, she goes on: "The theme of the record is to examine, hold space, make an altar for the feelings".

There's more exciting news too. Tomberlin will be touring the UK and Ireland in support of the next album, kicking off with a show in an eighteen century chalk mine underneath Margate - aka The Margate Caves - on 28 Apr. The tour will continue into May, including a show at St Matthias Church in East London on 5 May.

Watch the video for 'Happy Accident' here.

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

Britney Spears signs $15 million deal for tell-all book
As I think it's fair to say we all expected, Britney Spears has signed a deal to publish a new memoir. That deal is with publishing house Simon & Schuster and is reportedly worth as much as $15 million.

Spears, of course, spent more than thirteen years in a conservatorship that took away her control of her own personal and financial affairs. The arrangement was terminated last year. While arguing that the conservatorship should be ended, and since, Spears was particularly critical of her father - who acted as conservator - as well as her mother and sister.

She has repeatedly said that she will at some point tell her side of the story in detail, and last month posted a photo of a typewriter on Instagram, suggesting that she was about to start writing a book.

According to the New York Post, that book is ostensibly about Spears' life and career, including her family life. Although with a deal that is reported to be one of the biggest ever signed - possibly equal with Bill Clinton's $15 million in 2001 but trailing the Obamas' $60 million in 2017 - Simon & Schuster will clearly be hoping for an inside track on the conservatorship and all the accusations against her family that she has been hinting at in recent months.

Britney's book will follow her sister Jamie Lynn's recent memoir 'Things I Should Have Said', which was published in January. While Jamie Lynn has insisted that the book is not specifically about her sister, the focus of reviews and interviews has been on claims she made in it about Britney and her past mental state. Including that Britney once locked them both in a room while holding a knife - something Britney has fiercely denied ever happened.

Before writing her book, Britney Spears confirmed last week that she received a letter late last year from US Congress members Charlie Crist and Eric Swalwell inviting her to Washington to discuss her experiences under the conservatorship.


Porridge Radio announce new album, tour dates
Porridge Radio have announced the follow-up to their Mercury-nominated second album 'Every Bad'. Titled 'Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky', the new LP will be out in May, with first single, 'Back To The Radio', out now.

"'Back To The Radio' feels like a huge introductory hello or a big ceremonial goodbye", says the band's Dana Margolin. "I wrote it at the end of 2019 when we were gearing up for the release of 'Every Bad' and I felt like a lot of things were coming that I wasn't sure I knew how to handle".

"The song grew out of a feeling of intense loneliness and being unprepared for what everybody was promising me was about to happen - and a strong desire to escape without knowing what I wanted to escape to", she continues. "To me there's a huge feeling of catharsis in this song, of letting go and letting it sweep you away".

The album is due out on 20 May, and to coincide with the release the band will embark on a run of in-store performances around the UK. They've also announced a headline tour in October, tickets for which go on sale tomorrow. Here are all of those dates:

20 May: Manchester, Piccadilly Records
22 May: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club (Crash Records)
24 May: London, Rough Trade East
25 May: Brighton, Resident Records
26 May: Bristol, Rough Trade

20 Oct: Sheffield, Foundry
21 Oct: Southampton, The 1865
22 Oct: Exeter, Phoenix
24 Oct: Nottingham, Metronome
25 Oct: Bristol, Trinity
26 Oct: Cambridge, Junction
28 Oct: Glasgow, St Luke's
29 Oct: Manchester, Academy 2
30 Oct: Leeds, Irish Centre
1 Nov: Brighton, The Old Market
2 Nov: Brighton, The Old Market
3 Nov: London, Shepherds Bush Empire


Dave Grohl: "I'm a rock musician. I'm fucking deaf"
Dave Grohl has said that years of performing live without hearing protection have left him with tinnitus and hearing loss. But if you think he's going to change anything, you've got another thing coming. "I've been reading lips for 20 years", he told Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show, but when it comes to recording music, he insists, "I can hear the minutiae of everything we have done".

Asked why he doesn't use in-ear monitors, to reduce the level of noise hitting his ear drums, Grohl says: "I tried the in-ear monitor thing before, a long time ago, and the problem I have with it is it removes from the natural atmosphere sound. I wanna hear the audience in front of me ... It messes with your spatial understanding of where you are on stage".

He adds that there is some mitigation to his on stage sound, saying: "Even though I'm not using ear monitors, the sound on stage for me is fucking perfect, cos it's been [set up by] the same [monitor sound engineer], Ian Beveridge, for 31 years - since Nirvana. So I'm not up there just getting my ass kicked by some loud stuff. It sounds great".

"We've been playing shows like this for so long, there's not much I want to change", he adds. And "when we go in and we're making a record, and we're mixing an album, I can hear the slightest little things. My ears are still tuned in to certain frequencies, and if I hear something out of tune or a cymbal that's not bright enough or something like that ... in the mix, I can fucking hear the minutiae of everything we had done to that song, I really can".

"That being said", he continues, "if you were sitting next to me at dinner, I wouldn't understand a fucking word you were saying to me the whole fucking time. There's no way. In a crowded restaurant – that's the worst".

"The worst thing about this pandemic shit is people wearing masks", he goes on. "I've been reading lips for, like, 20 years. So when someone comes up to me [speaking with their face covered] I say, 'I'm a rock musician. I'm fucking deaf. I can't hear what you're saying'".

Anyway, ignore him, protect your ears. None of what he just said is a good thing. What possibly is a good thing is the release of Foo Fighter's horror movie 'Studio 666' this Friday. If only because it should drown out my own tinnitus for a little while.


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