TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Great Escape continues today, with the festival side of the proceedings going into full effect. Meanwhile, within the conference, CMU is putting the spotlight on music and data, releasing a brand new track and following it on its data journey... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES The Great Escape continues - Asher D in conversation confirmed for Saturday
DEALS Napster acquired for Web3 fun
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Distiller Music Publishing partners with Downtown, hires Claire Bianchi
LIVE BUSINESS Wembley Stadium opens sensory rooms for neurodivergent guests
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Sonos to launch privacy-focussed voice control
ARTIST NEWS Yard Act frontman partners with Mind on mental health awareness project
RELEASES Ezra Furman releases new single, Forever In Sunset
AND FINALLY... Coldplay address criticism of some eco-tour partners
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The Great Escape continues - Asher D in conversation confirmed for Saturday
The Great Escape continues today, with the festival side of the proceedings going into full effect. Meanwhile, within the conference, CMU is putting the spotlight on music and data, releasing a brand new track and following it on its data journey.

Today's CMU+TGE strand is presented in association with the BPI, and will talk through all the ways data now powers the music industry. The first half of the day will be focused on track and rights data, and how getting that data right gets music played and artists paid. In the afternoon attention will move to fan and marketing data, and the blockchain and NFTs.

It's the second of three CMU+TGE Sessions taking place this year, with tomorrow's final CMU+TGE strand - also presented in association with the BPI - digging deep into the world of music and video.

The first part of the Friday strand will put the spotlight on all things sync. CMU's Chris Cooke and Sentric Music's Patrick Cloherty will identify the five biggest trends and five biggest debates in the sync business – and will then discuss those trends and debates with Jenn Egan from Eyeline Music, Joanna Gregory from Cavendish Music, Pete Kelly from BT Sport, and Mark Gordon from Score Draw Music.

We'll then look into two of those debates in more detail. First up, we'll explain and discuss the big buy outs debate with both Mark Gordon and Lucie Caswell, Chief Policy, Rights + Public Affairs Officer at the Music Publishers Association.

And we'll investigate the ins and outs of music licensing when videos are posted by creators, influencers and brands on user-generated content platforms - what is possible under the platforms' own licences and what requires bespoke licensing? Paul Sampson from Lickd and Kelli Slade from TikTok offer expert insights.

Finally, we'll talk to Colin Barlow about Marv Music, the new joint venture between Warner Music and Matthew Vaughn's TV and film production company Marv, which is spearheading wide-ranging partnerships and collaborations between the music, movie and TV industries.

Later, we will be putting the spotlight on all the video content artists now need to create to promote their releases and engage their fans - from the classic music video and well beyond.

What kinds of content work best - and what is the role of the label, management, specialist agencies and artists themselves in creating these videos, and pushing them out across the plethora of digital platforms?

Providing practical tips and advice on making great video content will be Olivia Hobbs from Blackstar Agency and Alex Lee Thomson from Greenhouse Group, plus artist managers Ameena Badley, Bobby Brown and Lauren Roth De Wolf.

We'll then dig a little deeper into how artists are successfully engaging audiences on TikTok. Providing some top tips will be TikTok's Head Of UK Artist Partnerships David Mogendorff, who has also selected two artist case studies to share: Abby Roberts and Rachel Chinouriri.

Both Abby and Rachel will join us on stage to discuss their respective experiences with and on the TikTok platform, alongside Insa Von Der Luehe from Locomotion and Charlie Martin from Parlophone.

You can find out about all the CMU+TGE sessions taking place here.

In addition to all that, there are the keynote in conversations taking place this year. Today that includes the legal team who represented Ed Sheeran in the recent 'Shape Of You' case, plus Tom Gray, Noami Pohl and Kevin Brennan MP. Tomorrow music PR legend Barbara Charone is also in conversation, plus on Saturday - in an extra in conversation just announced! - Asher D will be chatting with legendary hip hop broadcaster DJ Target.

You can browse the full TGE Conference programme - including all the extra panels and parties presented by TGE's industry partners - via the official TGE app.


Napster acquired for Web3 fun
Napster has been bought - again - for the second time in less than two years. It's new owners, Hivemind and Algorand, are planning to adorn it with a load of Web3 stuff. Which, yes, means that the current iterations of Napster and LimeWire are now competitors in the Web3 space. What a strange world we live in.

Emmy Lovell has been appointed the new CEO of Napster. She was brought on last year as Chief Strategy Officer. So I guess we now know what her strategy was.

"Dear friends, we are excited to share that we've taken Napster Group private, and to bring the iconic music brand to web3", wrote Hivemind CEO Matt Zhang on LinkedIn.

"Volatile market and uncertain times often bring exciting opportunities", he went on. "At Hivemind, we believe in developing thesis and building enduring value. Music x Web3 is one of the most exciting spaces we've come across, and we are THRILLED to work with Emmy Lovell and many talents to unlock value for the entire ecosystem and revolutionise how artists and fans enjoy music".

Napster was previously acquired by MelodyVR in August 2020. The plan was to merge the two brands under the Napster name and relaunch as a shiny new music streaming/virtual reality hybrid platform, although that ultimately did not happen.

The latest acquisition of Napster, and the plan to take it into the Web3 realm, follows the recent relaunch of LimeWire as an NFT marketplace. So that's two brands best known for being used by famous piracy services now doing Web3 things in music.

If nothing else, that tells us that the people currently making moves on the burgeoning music Web3 space are probably all of a certain age. You can be as excited about the future as you like, but no one's immune to the magnetic pull of nostalgia, eh?


Distiller Music Publishing partners with Downtown, hires Claire Bianchi
Distiller Music Publishing has announced a new administration agreement with Downtown Music Services. It has also hired Claire Bianchi as Head Of A&R.

The deal comes in the wake of 'In The Dark', by Purple Disco Machine and Sophie And The Giants, which has been a big hit in Europe, and was co-written with Distiller Music Publishing's Dimitri Tikovoi at Distiller's 2021 writing camp. The track follows last year's collaboration between the Purple Disco Machine and Sophie And The Giants, 'Hypnotized', with which Bianchi was involved while in her previous job at Stellar Songs.

"This new agreement with Downtown Music Services is a key move for Distiller Music Publishing, as it allows us to join forces with their incredible team who are immensely experienced and motivated towards getting the most from our roster", says Distiller Music Group CEO Sam Dyson.

"Their advice, support and introduction to a global network will be invaluable as we explore new opportunities for the songwriters and producers we represent. We are also excited to welcome Claire Bianchi who is a brilliant, creative A&R executive bringing expertise and experience to our team".

Mike Smith, Global President of Downtown Music Services, adds: "I am THRILLED to be getting into business with Distiller as they celebrate a massive hit across Europe with 'In The Dark'. Claire is one of the best music creatives out there and alongside Sam with his rich understanding of the music space, they are building an amazing business and we hope to maximise their presence around the world".

Meanwhile, Bianchi comments: "I'm delighted to be working with Distiller Publishing alongside the Downtown team and look forward to helping to continue to grow a fantastic independent publisher. Having a major hit with 'In The Dark' right at the start of our relationship is a great way to start things off!"

As well as Dimitri Tikovoi, other acts signed to Distiller Music Publishing include Danny LaFrombe and Danny Goffey.


Wembley Stadium opens sensory rooms for neurodivergent guests
Wembley Stadium has announced the addition of two multi-purpose sensory rooms for neurodivergent guests, which, it says, makes it the first music venue in the UK to offer such facilities.

The rooms - built in consultation with music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins - will offer traditional sensory equipment as well as new immersive technology, which it says will allow it to offer far greater accessibility, particularly to people who would usually find the experience of being in such a large venue challenging.

"We pride ourselves on being an inclusive stadium, and this further reinforces that commitment", says Wembley Stadium's Customer Engagement Manager Matthew Owen. "On a personal level, having been involved in disability access throughout my career and as an adult with Asperger's Syndrome, I have seen first-hand the benefit these spaces and programmes can bring".

The opening of the two sensory rooms follows the stadium's commitment last year to guarantee British Sign Language at every live concert. There are currently sixteen live music performances lined up over the summer, including from Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles and Coldplay.

The sensory rooms will be made available for the first time at this weekend's FA Cup and Women's FA Cup finals.


Sonos to launch privacy-focussed voice control
Sonos has announced that it will launch its own privacy-focussed voice control for use on its speakers next month.

Users have been able to use voice assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant on newer Sonos speakers for a number of years. Those who wish to will be able to use those assistants concurrently with Sonos's own - the Sonos system itself only being set up for controlling speaker functions, rather than being a fully-fledged voice assistant.

"Sonos is committed to delivering new experiences that effortlessly connect listeners to the content they love", says Sonos' VP Voice Experience Joseph Dureau. "One of the most natural ways to connect to your music is with your voice, but when we speak to our customers, we hear that privacy concerns mean many are choosing not to use voice control".

"Created purely for listening on Sonos and designed with privacy at its core", he adds, "Sonos Voice Control delivers the Sonos app experience using only your voice".

Highlighting the privacy of the new feature, Sonos stresses that all processing will be carried out locally on the device, and that "no audio or transcript is sent to the cloud, stored, listened to or read by anyone".

The voice that speaks back to you may be familiar though, as Sonos has hired actor Giancarlo Esposito - best known for his roles in 'Breaking Bad', 'Better Call Saul' and 'The Mandalorian' - to provide responses to commands.

"With careful recording, advanced processing and mastering, the voice is natural, unobtrusive, yet confident and engaging", says the company. "Sonos' first voice will be joined by others over time as Sonos continues to expand the experience to new people and places".

The launch of Sonos Voice Control comes three years after the company acquired AI voice platform Snips in order to build its own voice control feature. It will initially launch in the US on 1 Jun, followed by France later this year and then other territories, including the UK.


CMU Insights At The Great Escape
The Great Escape Conference is underway in Brighton - and over the next four days CMU will be presenting plenty of insights and leading lots of debate via three CMU+TGE strands and, on Saturday, the TGE Elevate Sessions for early-career music people.

Along the way there will be a number of CMU presentations and seminars about the business of music, plus CMU's Pathways Into Music Foundation has published a new guide to some of its recent research.

The slides and materials we are presenting will be available for delegates to download after the event. To get the link for those materials, just register your email here.

Yard Act frontman partners with Mind on mental health awareness project
Yard Act's James Smith has shared a poem, commissioned by mental health charity Mind to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week this week. The short piece was created in collaboration with a woman named Mel, who lives with bulimia, in order to tell her story.

"I was asked by Mind to collaborate with one of their clients to write a poem for Mental Health Awareness week", he says. "I've worked with Mind in the past here in Leeds fundraising so I was honoured they'd considered me. Mind partnered me with a young woman called Mel, who lives with an eating disorder - more specifically bulimia - and when we first met on Zoom, I instantly clicked with her".

"Myself and Mel talked for an hour or so about her life and the condition she lives with", he goes on. "We shared similar views on a lot of things and I found her to be an incredibly grounded, intelligent and astute young person, who genuinely gave me hope for the future".

"I took great care when writing this to do justice to Mel's story. She had a great 'no holds barred' approach to talking about bulimia and what she has to go through each day living with her eating disorder. Her belief, in her own words was 'if you're going to talk about it, talk about it'".

He added that the version he performs in a new video differs from the original text, saying that he and Mel were asked "to alter several lines deemed too triggering by Mind to be broadcast publicly".

"Whilst myself and Mel were disappointed by the last minute tweaks, I completely understand the complexity and sensitivity around the subject and respect that decision had to be made", he explains, adding that the full original text is available in the description of the video on YouTube.

"When I agreed to do this, I didn't realise I would be performing the poem to camera on a set with a full film crew", he says. "I misread and thought the filming would be more a fly on the wall doc of us meeting and writing the poem".

"Regardless, I powdered up and had some gloss put on my very dry lips. I'm used to playing the fool, so this took a little bit of effort. Seriousness scares me, but here it is. Also, Mel was meant to be in the video with me, but she got bloody COVID when she arrived on set and had to be quarantined".

Watch the video for 'Mel's Story' here.


Ezra Furman releases new single, Forever In Sunset
Ezra Furman has announced her upcoming new album, 'All Of Us Flames', and released new single 'Forever In Sunset'.

"The biggest influence on the lyrics of this song is a conversation I had with a friend of mine", she says. "When COVID was first hitting, she was talking to me a lot about how ready she felt".

"She was like, 'People who have been comfortable in life are freaking out right now. But queer people like me have been in crisis before. I grew up poor and my family kicked me out when I was a teenager. My world has already ended plenty of times before, and we queers know what to do: we take care of each other, we help each other out, we have a network of support for the crises we know will hit us from time to time'".

"And then she lost her job and ended up moving in with me and my family for like three months", she continues. "And she was right, we were okay and we were taking care of each other. That influenced a lot of what the whole record is about".

"But 'Forever In Sunset' is specifically a woman who's been through some shit speaking to a new lover who is becoming attached to them, trying to warn the lover about how she is trouble, about how she has been through crises and they will come again. And that's just how she lives, never settled, never safe, but also never defeated/finished - 'Forever In Sunset'".

"Sometimes it feels like crisis is hitting more and more of the general population", she goes on. "They think the world is ending. But people who have been through a personal apocalypse or two have something to teach them. The world doesn't end, shit just happens and if we don't die we have to take care of each other".

As for the album as a whole she says: "This is a first person plural album. It's a queer album for the stage of life when you start to understand that you are not a lone wolf, but depend on finding your family, your people, how you work as part of a larger whole. I wanted to make songs for use by threatened communities, and particularly the ones I belong to: trans people and Jews".

'All Of Us Flames' is set for release on 26 Aug. Furman will also be in the UK for live shows in November.


Coldplay address criticism of some eco-tour partners
Coldplay have issued a statement following criticism of some of the partners they have chosen to work with in order to reduce the CO2 emissions on their latest world tour.

"When we announced this tour, we said that we would try our best to make it as sustainable and low carbon-impact as possible, but that it would be a work in progress", they said. "That remains true. We don't claim to have got it all right yet".

"We set ourselves a target of reducing our overall CO2 emissions by 50% from the last tour in 2017", they went on. "As part of this, we're trying to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in our show production and land freight. In most cities - but not yet all - we can achieve this by using a mix of sustainable biofuels and renewable energy (solar, kinetic and wind). We're also trying to reduce emissions from air travel with sustainable aviation fuel".

The company with which Coldplay has partnered to provide biofuels is Neste, which bills itself as a producer of sustainable fuel. However, a Friends Of The Earth study in 2020 found that it used a palm oil supplier that was responsible for at least 10,000 hectares of deforestation in 2019 and 2020. Neste does still use palm oil in its fuels, although it says it plans to phase this out.

"The biodiesel and sustainable aviation fuel that we use on our tour is certified as renewable waste only (ie recycled cooking oil and byproducts from wood pulp manufacture)", say the band in their statement. "It contains zero palm oil".

Another part of the tour that has come in for criticism are the batteries used to power the shows, which are enabled by BMW. While the company has made advances in electric vehicle battery technology, it is also lobbying European politicians not to set a deadline of 2035 for all new cars in the EU to be zero emissions.

On this, the band say: "The second component of our efforts is a custom-built, tourable battery system to allow us to use renewable energy wherever we are in the world. We approached various electric car manufacturers to supply the batteries and expertise to create this. BMW were the ones that offered to help. We have no connection to or influence on their corporate policies. We just need their batteries so that we can power our shows with renewable energy".

Concluding, they say: "We are doing our best, and always genuinely welcome suggestions as to how to do it better".

While there have been calls for the band to find other partnerships, all this perhaps shows that there are more hurdles to creating a totally sustainable major tour than initially thought. Whether the band will find new partners remains to be seen - their statement suggests not - but either way, all of this provides useful learning on what (or what not) to do for the wider music industry as it seeks to become more environmentally sustainable.


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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