TODAY'S TOP STORY: Australian producer and sound engineer Chris 'Tek' O'Ryan has sued Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun and the company JRC Entertainment over allegations promises were broken regarding producer royalties on a number of Bieber tracks that he helped produce... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Bieber producer sues over points dispute
LIVE BUSINESS Cancelled shows and massive debts: artists start to report on the reality of post-Brexit touring
"The Leadmill will not continue" following landlord takeover, says current General Manager
This Is Tomorrow festival cancels 2022 edition citing "an oversaturated market" and "rising costs"
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Deezer adds real-time lyrics translations tool
Spotify adds new functionality to its in-car listening device
MEDIA SoundCloud further expands its content partnership with Sirius
AND FINALLY... Donald Trump opens for Kid Rock
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Bieber producer sues over points dispute
Australian producer and sound engineer Chris 'Tek' O'Ryan has sued Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun and the company JRC Entertainment over allegations promises were broken regarding producer royalties on a number of Bieber tracks that he helped produce.

According to Billboard, O'Ryan's lawsuit says that his work on the Bieber tracks was to "polish and finesse" the vocals, a role that is often played down in the music industry because artists are nervous of being accused of requiring studio tricks to fix their singing.

But this work is "indispensable to modern pop music", the legal filing argues, adding "the level of attention to detail required ... cannot be overstated, often involving timing and pitch shifts measured in mere fractions of a millisecond or semitone, with individual words split into dozens of manipulable pieces before being expertly reassembled".

The dispute relates to an email exchange with Bieber's management team in 2018 when the producer sought to change his payment terms so that he'd get a royalty right in addition to an upfront fee. That royalty right would be a single 'point', so basically one percent of monies generated by the recording.

O'Ryan says that Bieber's reps initially accepted that proposal, after which he worked on the star's 'Justice' album. But Team Bieber then subsequently back-tracked, arguing that the 2018 agreement didn't apply to every track he worked on, and instead he would be awarded a point on certain tracks at the management team's discretion.

Meanwhile, Braun allegedly told O'Ryan that he hadn't got points on some of the 'Justice' tracks because the Bieber team hadn't initially been aware that the producer had worked on them, and by the time that became apparent too many points had already been distributed to other producers who contributed to the recordings.

On that exchange with Bieber's manager, the producer's lawsuit states: "Braun did not deny the terms of the 2018 agreement, but rather admitted he had already allocated Tek's rightful point to someone else".

The producer's lawyers add: "Having now been effectively cast aside by the artist he spent more than a decade helping to build up, Tek has no choice but to turn to the courts to ensure that Bieber's team lives up to the parties' bargain and properly credits and compensates him after years of loyal service".

But a spokesperson for Braun told Billboard that O'Ryan's lawsuit was "deeply unfortunate" and "inaccurate, misleading and deceitful", adding: "His false claims take away from the hard work of album producer and lead engineer/mixer Josh Gudwin and his team".


Cancelled shows and massive debts: artists start to report on the reality of post-Brexit touring
With European touring getting properly going again following the relaxation of COVID restrictions, the UK music industry is now fully dealing with the realities of Brexit and the new bureaucracy touring musicians face. With the specific rules now different for British artists in each EU member state, the whole industry is very much on a learning curve, as new issues and bureaucratic delays regularly come up - often at the border - that need to be dealt with.

White Lies were forced to call off a show in Paris last week after their equipment was delayed by Brexit nonsense. "To our dear fans here in Paris", they wrote on social media on Thursday, "we and our crew have arrived safely this morning to start our European tour. But our equipment has been detained by Brexit legislation leaving England, along with countless other trucks".

"We're devastated to say that without our equipment we do not have a show", they went on, "and tonight's has to be cancelled and rescheduled. It's heartbreaking to be here in this wonderful city, and unable to perform due to such a trivial issue". A subsequent post on Friday confirmed their equipment had finally arrived, but that was no help for the Thursday night gig.

Of course, the UK's post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union did not include any pan-European provisions for visa free touring, meaning artists and their crews face permit, carnet and other bureaucratic requirements as they tour the continent. Music industry trade groups raised these issues as soon as the trade deal was published at the end of 2020, with the government spending much of 2021 insisting it was looking for ways to tackle those issues.

Given COVID was still making touring impossible at that point there was a window of opportunity to mitigate the negative impact of Brexit on touring artists. But, alas, very little was done, and artists are now having to tackle those issues on the ground.

New Pagans posted a write-up of their first post-Brexit touring experience last week, concluding that, while in the past the aim of a European tour for smaller independent bands was a small profit, or at least to break even, with all the new bureaucracy "to come home from a tour having accumulated massive debt is now the reality for many small independent bands in 2022".


"The Leadmill will not continue" following landlord takeover, says current General Manager
The current General Manager of Sheffield venue The Leadmill has spoken to local newspaper The Star as the war of words continues between his team and the building's landlord The Electric Group, following the news the latter is evicting the former. In the interview, Ian Lawlor insists that, while The Electric Group "keep saying The Leadmill will continue ... The Leadmill will not continue".

The current management team at The Leadmill announced last month that they are being evicted from the building that has operated as a venue for more than 40 years. However, The Electric Group - which bought the building in 2017 and runs venues in other UK cities - says that The Leadmill will continue to operate in its current form, just with new management in place.

In his own recent interview with the Star, Electric Group CEO Dominic Madden said: "It shouldn't be a massive surprise given we bought The Leadmill and we've spent our lives acquiring, operating and nurturing grassroots music venues elsewhere, that it would clearly be the intention to take it back at the end of the lease, refurbish it and invest in it and make sure it's ready to serve audiences and artists for the next 30 years".

"The idea that we would take something as culturally significant, important and well-loved as The Leadmill and close it down and turn it into flats is a nonsense", he added, responding to the initial backlash after Lawlor's team went public about the eviction. "We have a track record of investing in music venues and an understanding of the cultural significance of this venue in Sheffield".

But the current Leadmill management team argue that Madden is basically stealing their brand and good reputation in order to get a head start as his company enters the Sheffield live music market.

"They keep saying The Leadmill will continue, that the Leadmill will be safe", Lawlor told The Star. "The Leadmill will not continue - The Leadmill is us, the staff and all the fixtures. We'll take everything with us, because we own it - the fixtures, the equipment, the doors. When we leave it will be a derelict flour mill, and that's what they will be left with. They'll have to start from scratch, it will take them a year to get it up and running".

"There's thousands of empty buildings [in Sheffield that] they could have bought but they chose the Leadmill to bank our our name and good will", he went on. "They're pulling it from under our noses. We've had a long history of landlords over 43 years staying in the background collecting their rent, and we had no reason to think someone would do this to us".

The Electric Group continues to insist that The Leadmill will play the exact same important role in the Sheffield music and entertainment scene even once it is directly managing the venue, adding that its existing operations in London and Bristol - Electric Brixton and SWX respectively - prove that it is capable of running a credible grassroots venue business.

Madden has also said that he'd like the venue to continue operating as The Leadmill, but his company has nevertheless registered the trademark in Electric Sheffield, presumably in case that's not possible for legal reasons.

However, the current Leadmill team seem to be winning the PR battle here, especially within the Sheffield music community. Sam Gregory, Music Editor at Sheffield's Now Then Magazine, told NME last week: "I haven't come across any positive response from anyone in Sheffield".

"I don't know if that's what the landlord expected", he went on, "but now they're public enemy number one. I went to a pub near the venue when it was announced and everyone was talking about it. It's not just a Twitter thing, or [exclusive to] people who remember going there ten or 20 years ago. It's people on the ground who live here now and are angry about it. It's the cultural heart of the city and we don't want that to be ripped out".


This Is Tomorrow festival cancels 2022 edition citing "an oversaturated market" and "rising costs"
Organisers of the Newcastle-based music festival This Is Tomorrow have cancelled this year's edition, stating that an oversaturated marketplace and rising costs have motivated that decision.

The event - due to take place from 3-5 Jun - had been facing some new licensing restrictions after complaints last year from residents living near Exhibition Park, where the annual festival is staged.

In response to those complaints, the local council recently put a limit on the number of events that can take place in the park each year, as well as announcing restrictions on noise levels. A spokesperson for This Is Tomorrow subsequently admitted that those new restrictions were "challenging", but insisted they were "not the reason we are choosing to have a year off".

They added that the timing of the 2021 edition of the event - pushed into September because of COVID - had had an impact on the festival's logistical set up, which contributed to the issues raised by local residents.

With plans to run over the spring bank holiday weekend at the end of May in 2023 - plus with some "noise modelling" that is underway to "minimise any disturbance for residents" - the spokesperson said they were confident they could deliver a successful event in line with the new restrictions.

However, "with an oversaturated market, the ongoing economic crisis and rising costs, 2022 is the wrong year for the festival to expand further following a successful sell-out year in 2021".

The Association Of Independent Festivals has previously warned that festival promoters could face a perfect storm this year, with the operational and infrastructure costs of staging festivals set to increase as much as 30%, and many festival companies still dealing with the impact of COVID-caused cancellations in 2020 and/or 2021.

This Is Tomorrow was originally promoted by Newcastle-based SSD Concerts, although the event was taken over by Kilimanjaro last year, as SSD and its MD Steve Davis faced allegations of bad working practices. SSD subsequently stated that an independent investigation had found "no evidence of racism, misogyny or sexual misconduct" at the company, but that "poor and informal business and employment practices" had caused some issues.


Deezer adds real-time lyrics translations tool
Want to be able to sing along to your favourite pop song in another language? Well, Deezer is here to help. "Users no longer have to compromise the meaning of a song or its lyrics when streaming music in its original language", reckons the streaming firm.

Basically, the Deezer app's in-built time-synced lyrics feature now offers the option to see real-time lyric translations for the most popular English language pop songs, so that you can see the lyrics in French, German, Spanish or Portuguese if you so wish.

For French, German, Spanish and Portuguese speakers, it helps users understand what their favourite artists are actually singing about (generic love, sex and relationships stuff, probably).

Meanwhile, Deezer adds, English speakers can "use the function to improve their language skills or learn a new language through music". Especially if they've always wanted to talk about generic love, sex and relationships stuff in French, German, Spanish or Portuguese. Everyone's a winner!

"Music fans have always been able to immerse themselves in the thoughts and feelings of the artist with our widely popular lyrics function", says Deezer's Alexandra Leloup. "But with our new 'lyrics translation' feature, they can now discover the artist's true meaning behind their favourite tunes, and even sharpen their language skills, or totally learn a new language, in the process".


Spotify adds new functionality to its in-car listening device
Spotify last week announced some updates to Car Thing, its proprietary device for in-car listening that is currently only available in the US.

The streaming firm's first move into hardware began with tests in 2019, before going into pilot mode last year. The device then became properly available for US premium Spotify subscribers back in February.

"Car Thing makes it simpler to play exactly what you want, thanks to the intuitive product interface and the ease of using 'Hey Spotify' to control what you want to listen to", the streaming firm reminded people when announcing the updates last week. "But there's always room to make a great thing even better, which is why Car Thing has some new updates rolling out this week".

Among the new features, Car Thing users can now "answer phone calls seamlessly", "control other media", "queue additional songs and podcasts", and "use voice to get a personalised playlist for any mood".

"Bringing these highly anticipated new features to Car Thing is part of Spotify's ongoing commitment to building a truly frictionless experience for users across devices", the announcement went on, "whether in the car, at home, or on the go".


SoundCloud further expands its content partnership with Sirius
SoundCloud has got itself a full-time hip hop centric channel on the SiriusXM satellite radio network in the US, extending previous content partnerships between SoundCloud and Sirius, which began after the latter took a stake in the former in 2020.

Those partnerships kicked off with 'The Lookout By Soundcloud', a show on Sirius station Hip Hop Nation, while a temporary full-on SoundCloud Radio station ran last September.

Launching the now permanent SoundCloud Radio last week, Sirius described the service as being "specially curated for discovery of both trailblazing tracks and today's genre-defying drops from both the artists who came up on SoundCloud - such as Megan Thee Stallion, Trippie Redd, Doja Cat, Lil Tecca, NLE Choppa and CJ - and the most exciting emerging talent in hip hop today".

Meanwhile SoundCloud's Chief Content And Marketing Officer, Lauren Wirtzer-Seawood, told Billboard that the latest Sirius tie-up would give the satellite broadcaster's listeners "an opportunity to discover what we're discovering every day on the [SoundCloud] platform".

Meanwhile, new artists releasing their music via SoundCloud will get some more traditional airplay, and "for so many young artists, particularly those at the beginning of their career, the idea of being on the radio means something to them".


Setlist: Why not browse the archives?
Setlist is taking a week off this week, but don't forget there are lots of episodes available in the archive to help you navigate and understand the business of music.

Following last week's ruling in the big old 'Shape Of You' song theft litigation, you can check our recent discussion of that legal battle and court case here.

If you're a fan of music industry stats, make sure you don't miss this stats-packed edition from last month.

If you've been following the dispute over how comedians are paid by the streaming services, we explain what's going on there in this recent edition.

And at the start of the year we talked about the five companies likely to find themselves involved in music industry controversies in 2022. Tune in to see what those companies were - we're we right to predict some controversial moments for said businesses?

Meanwhile, there's also various special editions you can still check out - like our 2020 guide to the economics of streaming debate (part one and part two).

A lot's happened since then in terms of that debate, of course, but the ten things people get wrong about streaming discussed in those special editions are, well, still the ten things people get wrong about streaming!

And even deeper in the archive, there are the retrospective special editions from 2018 and 2019 where we tell stories of The Pirate Bay, MegaUpload, Napster, the battle against secondary ticketing, and much more.

Happy listening everybody!

Donald Trump opens for Kid Rock
Kid Rock has booked the likes of Foreigner and Grand Funk Railroad - and a Jason Bonham curated Led Zeppelin nostalgia set - to variously support him on his current US tour, which kicked off last week. Though's he's also booked another heritage act known for milking the nostalgia circuit with a certain Donald Trump popping up to deliver some classic waffle especially for Kid Rock's fans, albeit via a pre-recorded video message at the start of the show.

"Hello, everyone", that Trump message begins. "I love you all. I know you're having a great time at the Kid Rock concert tonight. Quite frankly, he's amazing. All of you in attendance are truly the backbone of our great country. Hard-working, God-fearing rock-and-roll patriots".

Trump, of course, is a big fan of Kid Rock's music. Well, maybe. Possibly. Yeah, probably not. It seems unlikely he's ever actually heard a Kid Rock track, doesn't it? But one thing is for certain, Donald Trump is definitely a big fan of Kid Rock being a big fan of Donald Trump.

"Bob is truly one of the greatest entertainers of our time", Trump waffles on in his video message. "Not the best golfer by any means, his golf game could use a little work, but a great, great entertainer, and that's why you're there. Let's all continue to love one another, fight for our God-given freedoms, and most of all, let's make America rock 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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