TODAY'S TOP STORY: The streaming services and the US music publishers have reached a deal over the royalty rate paid by the former to the latter, which means neither side will have to go through the time and expense of a messy and contentious hearing before the US Copyright Royalty Board. This is good news for the services, publishers and songwriters. Less so for those of us who enjoy writing about messy and contentious CRB hearings... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Streaming services and music publishers reach deal on song royalty rates in the US
Australian music industry issues statement of apology and action following report on sexual harm, harassment and discrimination in the workplace

LEGAL R Kelly defence due to start calling witnesses in ongoing trial today
BRANDS & MERCH Casio study further demonstrates value of music therapy for people with dementia
ARTIST NEWS Call for new permanent location for Manchester's Ian Curtis mural
RELEASES Tom Fletcher to release album alongside new children's book
ONE LINERS Gorillaz, Distrokid, Editors, more
AND FINALLY... Dolly Parton launches wigs for dogs (and other things to make your pooch look more like her)
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Streaming services and music publishers reach deal on song royalty rates in the US
The streaming services and the US music publishers have reached a deal over the royalty rate paid by the former to the latter, which means neither side will have to go through the time and expense of a messy and contentious hearing before the US Copyright Royalty Board. This is good news for the services, publishers and songwriters. Less so for those of us who enjoy writing about messy and contentious CRB hearings!

But what is the deal? Well, first the quickest of recaps. Promise. In the US, the mechanical copying of songs is covered by a compulsory licence, meaning publishers are obliged to allow streaming services to reproduce their songs at rates set by a panel of judges, that being the CRB. Those rates are reviewed every five years, with the CRB judges confirming what revenue share should be allocated by the services to the song rights (as opposed to the recording rights).

Streams also exploit the so called performing rights of the song, and the services license that side via the US collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP. However, what is paid to the societies for the performing right is basically deducted from the mechanical rate - so the CRB is deciding the total share of streaming income to be allocated to the songs. And in the mid-2010s that was 10.5%.

But elsewhere in the world, where rates are negotiated on the open market, some publishers and societies had pushed up the share of revenue allocated to the songs closer to 15%. So when the CRB started considering what the US rate should be for the period 2018-2022, the publishers lobbied for an increase too, and they got it, with the judges announcing annual increases over that five year period until the rate reached 15.1%.

However, some of the streaming services appealed that increase. And then, when the CRB started considering what the rate should be for 2023-2027, some of the services pushed for something more like the 2017 rate.

Both the appeal and the proposals for 2023-2027 were very controversial indeed within the US music publishing sector and songwriting community, with the services on the receiving end of a lot of public outrage - Spotify in particular, partly because its main rival in the US, Apple Music, did not participate in the appeal.

That big appeal was mainly unsuccessful, with the CRB upholding the increase to 15.1%. Although some of the technicalities of the compulsory licence that Spotify et al objected too were amended in a way that pleased the services, for example rules regarding 'total content cost', which guarantees publishers a minimum percentage of the total amount a service pays over to the music industry, and 'bundling', which impacts on things like family plans and mobile bundles.

With the rates for 2018-2022 finally confirmed - you know, in July 2022 - the focus fell on the hearing to decide rates for 2023-2027, with the publishers pushing for another sizeable increase towards something like 20%, while some of the services - as noted - were proposing something closer to 10%. Though you sensed that the opening proposals of both sides were ultimately aiming to ensure that the CRB judges ended up opting for something around the current 15%.

Which brings us to the deal that has now been done between the services and the publishers. Which is something around the current 15%. There will be a slight increase over the next five years, from 15.1% to 15.35%, though that's obviously a much more modest rise than occurred between 2018 and 2022. Though in this deal some of the aforementioned technicalities will also be amended to the advantage of publishers and writers.

A statement from the services and publishers last night explained: "The deal also includes a number of changes to other components of the rate, including increases to the per-subscriber minimums and the 'total content cost' calculations which reflect the rates that services pay to record labels".

"As streaming services continue to innovate to deliver songwriters' works to growing numbers of paying fans", it added, "the agreement also modernises the treatment of 'bundles' of products or services that include music streaming and updates how services can offer incentives to attract new subscribers into the music ecosystem".

On the services side, the deal was announced by the Digital Media Association and is backed by its members, including Amazon, Apple, Google, Pandora and Spotify. On the publishing side, the deal is endorsed by the National Music Publishers Association and Nashville Songwriters Association International.

These rates only apply in the US, of course. Though, had there been a bold increase to 20% - like the publishers originally proposed - it would likely have motivated some publishers and especially songwriters elsewhere in the world to push for a bigger slice of the digital pie.

That could still happen - given that the US was originally behind Europe - but a higher rate Stateside would have emboldened those publishers and writers who reckon songs are currently undervalued in streaming.

That said, the US deal might still motivate those publishers and societies not yet at 15% elsewhere in the world to push up to and then slightly beyond that rate.

And it's also worth noting that in the US the services pay for the running of the collecting society that administers the mechanical royalties - the MLC - whereas in Europe most of the admin costs fall to the publishers and societies. So, once that is taken into account as well, US publishers and songwriters are already slightly ahead.

I mean, there are still admin costs occurred on the performing rights side Stateside which is administrated separately for reasons of history and stupidity, but nevertheless, the songs business is now slightly better off in the US than Europe - and, thanks to this deal, without any messy and contentious CRB battling to get there.

Confirming the deal, Digital Media Association CEO Garrett Levin said: "This agreement represents the commitment of the streaming services to bringing the best music experiences to fans and growing the streaming ecosystem to the benefit of all stakeholders, including the creative foundation of songwriting".

"For streaming services", he went on, "this moment presents an opportunity to pursue new collaborations with publishers and songwriters in the context of economic certainty that will support continued innovation. Perhaps more than anything, this agreement demonstrates the potential for industry progress when parties come to the table for good faith discussions".

NMPA boss David Israelite added: "This historic settlement is the result of songwriters making their voices heard. Instead of going to trial and continuing years of conflict, we instead move forward in collaboration with the highest rates ever, guaranteed. We thank the digital services for coming to the table and treating creators as business partners. Critically, since this is a percentage rate, we know that as streaming continues to grow exponentially, we will see unprecedented value of songs".

And NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison chipped in: "This collaborative process will lead to increased songwriter compensation from digital streaming companies and locks in our historic 43.8% increase from the previous CRB proceeding. Along with the upward rate momentum there are also new structures to help ensure minimum payments".


Australian music industry issues statement of apology and action following report on sexual harm, harassment and discrimination in the workplace
A long list of music companies and organisations in Australia have signed a letter of apology and action following the publication of a new report into sexual harm, harassment and discrimination within the country's music industry.

The report was based on a survey of nearly 1300 music industry professionals, of which 55% had experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment or harm during their career - and of the women surveyed, it was 72%. Meanwhile, 76% said they had experienced some kind of workplace bullying.

The new report was commissioned last December by a working group that had formed earlier in 2021 as the spotlight increasingly fell on bad working practices and misconduct within the Australian music industry. The toxic corporate culture at Sony Music's Australian division had been exposed following the sudden departure of its top man Denis Handlin, though it was widely agreed the issues went far beyond one single music company.

The review of working practices in the music sector was led by independent consultants Alexandra Shehadie and Sam Turner. A statement alongside the publication of their report says that they found "high rates of sexual harassment, sexual harm and bullying" within the Australian music industry, and that "women do not thrive to the same extent as men, and young people and people of diverse backgrounds can be at particular risk of harm and poor employment practices".

72% of the women surveyed had experienced sexual harassment or harm during their career in music, as had 39% of men. 33% of those surveyed said they had experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment in the last five years. 74% of perpetrators of sexual harassment were men and 25% were women. The harassment was most likely to occur at gigs that music industry practitioners were attending, although about 21% of the time it happened in the office.

Alongside the very concerning stats, Shehadie and Turner's report sets out seventeen recommendations for reforming the industry, while also noting that the research had "revealed a strong appetite for widespread and sustainable cultural change across the industry and a strong desire for leaders and those with influence to drive this change".

One of those recommendations is that the industry make a 'statement of acknowledgement' of the "harm caused by sexual harm, sexual harassment, bullying and systemic discrimination in the contemporary music industry", while also committing to implement the other recommendations and bring about reform across the sector.

With that in mind, a statement was issued this morning signed by companies and organisations from across the Australian music industry, including major and independent labels and publishers, live music and management firms, and groups representing artists and songwriters.

It reads: "As leaders in the Australian contemporary music industry, we accept the distressing findings of the review. We acknowledge the harm documented by the review, and we are sorry. This review has been a vital process of listening and truth telling. We thank all the participants for their courage in speaking out, in bravely re-living their experiences, and engaging in this critical report. We acknowledge the impact of these behaviours on the lives of victim survivors from our industry".

"Everyone has the right to work in an environment free from bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination", it goes on. "As disturbing and confronting as the findings are, the Australian music industry is committed to change and to rebuilding trust. The music industry should - and will - foster safe, welcoming, respectful, creative, and fun environments. We have been listening and have heard your calls for change. We can and will continue to do better. We all can".

"As leaders and members of the music community", it then states, "we all have a responsibility to model courageous leadership and do our best to bring an end to poor and destructive behaviour. We urge all in the music industry to continue working with us to implement long-term, sustainable change for the better. We all have a personal and professional responsibility to make our culture the best it can be".

It then concludes: "We are committed to working through the recommendations of the report, doing the necessary work and being accountable, to ensure our industry workplaces are safe, inclusive, and respectful. Our work has already started, and it will not stop until we have a culture that is safe for all".

You can access the new report here. Its authors note: "The content of the report may be distressing. We encourage you to consider what support and care might be needed for you and those around you during the coming weeks. It's good practice to seek consent before discussing the report and its recommendations".


R Kelly defence due to start calling witnesses in ongoing trial today
The defence in the current R Kelly trial in Chicago will start calling witnesses to the stand later today, after the prosecution rest their case on Tuesday. Kelly's lawyers haven't confirmed whether or not he will testify, although it seems unlikely. However, his co-defendant and former business manager, Derrel McDavid, will definitely appear on the witness stand.

The trial is the latest to put the spotlight on the many allegations of sexual abuse made against Kelly over the decades. McDavid and another co-defendant - Milton 'June' Brown - are accused of helping Kelly cover up the musician's sexual abuse of young teenagers during an earlier criminal investigation in the 2000s.

The prosecution called 25 witnesses in total, including a number of Kelly's alleged victims, women who say they were abused by the one time pop star, most of them when they were in their early teens. On Tuesday jurors heard from one more of those victims, Nia, who - in 1996 - flew to Minneapolis at Kelly's request when she was just fifteen.

According to the Chicago Tribune, she recalled how she bought a single rose on the way to meet Kelly because "I wanted him to know how I felt about him". However, he sexually abused her in a hotel room and then quickly departed, before she could even give him her gift. Another incident subsequently occurred at a recording studio, and then Kelly stopped returning Nia's phone calls.

Although jurors heard from several women who say they were abused by Kelly as teenagers, one witness that was expected to testify, referred to as Brittany and referenced by another victim, did not take to the witness stand in the end.

No reason was given for her removal from the list of witnesses, but the prosecution don't seem to be dropping the specific charges that relate to Kelly's alleged abuse of Brittany.

As the defence got ready to start calling witnesses they also filed motions requesting that the judge acquit their clients without the matter actually going to jury deliberations. Though that's pretty routine in criminal cases like this and the judge hardly ever grants those motions. The judge hearing this case will rule on said motions later today.

As well as seeking to question the credibility of many of the prosecution's witnesses, the defence will also raise an assortment of technicalities regarding the specific charges being pursued in this trial, and also - certainly in McDavid's case - the statute of limitations.

In terms of McDavid and Brown's efforts to recover leaked tapes that seemingly showed Kelly sexually abusing minors, defence lawyers will likely argue that Kelly et al sought to reclaim those tapes because they were embarrassing, not because they knew that they documented crimes.

During last year's R Kelly trial in New York, the defence's case proved to be decidedly lacklustre. It remains to be seen how the defence put forward by Kelly's new lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, and the legal teams of his co-defendants compares.


Casio study further demonstrates value of music therapy for people with dementia
The study commissioned by Casio Music UK into how music can positively impact people living with dementia has published its results. The research - titled 'Light Up My Life' and produced in partnership with Music For Dementia and charitable care provider MHA - was announced last year.

The people behind the study explain that "Casio provided lighting key keyboards to care homes to use in music therapy and music activity sessions that engaged over 100 residents living with dementia, to improve music participation and ultimately, enhance their quality of life. The sessions that took place were a mix of one-to-one sessions and group sessions, dependent on the structure of the care home".

"The key lighting technology meant that participants were able to simply follow the lights on the keyboard, which would guide them to the correct notes without any prior musical knowledge or previous piano playing experience", they add. "A range of well-known pieces of music were pre-loaded into the keyboards for residents to enjoy".

Based on the experiences of the participating residents in those care homes, as well as the observations of music therapists and care home staff, the study concludes that "residents displayed improved signs of memory recall after playing the keyboard and producing a recognisable song - a statement that was supported by 79% of music therapists and 64% of care home staff".

Meanwhile, "95% of music therapists and 71% of care home staff were in agreement that playing the keyboard increased or enhanced opportunities for social interaction for the residents with staff and relatives".

Commenting on the Casio study, Grace Meadows, Campaign Director at Music for Dementia, says: "The incredible results from the 'Light Up My Life' report really speak for themselves and further cements previous research on the unlimited power that music has to enhance the lives of those living with dementia and beyond".

"It's innovative, creative initiatives such as 'Light Up My Life' which demonstrate how easy it can be for carers to make music a part of good dementia care", she goes on. "We would like to see this programme rolled out nationwide as a way of supporting carers to provide the best possible personalised care for those living with dementia".

Neil Evans, Head of Casio EMI, adds: "We are pleased to announce the results of this important research project and proud to see how our keyboards have played a vital role in providing access to music therapy for care home residents living with dementia".

"We're passionate about the role of music in care", he continues, "and hopeful that the research and learnings we are revealing today can be used as a springboard to accelerate and improve the accessibility of music and music therapy for those living with dementia and those who care for them, across the nation and worldwide. It's clearly evident that the power of music can significantly enrich the quality of life for those living with dementia and their carers".


Approved: Phoebe Go
Having previously fronted the bands Snakadaktal and Two People, Phoebe Cockburn is now stepping out as a solo artist under the name Phoebe Go.

She is set to release her debut EP 'Player' next month and, following previous singles 'We Don't Talk' and 'The Kid', she's now put out a third piece of sun-soaked melancholy with 'Hey'.

"This song's really close to me", she says of the new single. "I lost my youngest cousin really suddenly a few years back and I didn't know how to make sense of it all. And I still don't and I don't think I ever will. But this song is really my way of coming to grips with that".

"Around the time I was writing it I was sort of fixated, trying so hard to understand him, you know, what he was thinking and feeling and living", she continues. "I think my own perspective got so lost in his. Maybe that's what gives this song that windy folk pace".

"I'm really proud of the comfort I found in this song though", she concludes. "Cos life aches, and we've gotta learn how to live with that. So I think in that way it's kind of hinting at hope, that maybe there's life inside loss, somehow".

'Player' is set for release on 28 Oct. Watch the video for 'Hey' here.

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

Call for new permanent location for Manchester's Ian Curtis mural
An appeal has been launched to find a new permanent site in Manchester's Northern Quarter for a mural of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, which was painted over with an advert for Aitch's debut album last month.

Manchester councillor Pat Karney says that a new location for the artwork needs to be found because the owner of the building where it previously appeared now wants to use the walls for advertising. Which would explain the whole it being painted over by an Aitch ad thing.

"It would be silly to put the mural back up there because it could be taken down again quite quickly and we'd go through the same routine", Karney told BBC Radio Manchester yesterday. "We don't want to go through that rigmarole again, we want a permanent site".

And so, he said, "I'm putting out an appeal for a building owner in the Northern Quarter".

There was anger when the Curtis mural - originally painted by artist Akse P19 in 2020 to promote mental health awareness - was covered over with the Aitch advert, which had been commissioned by Amazon Music.

The rapper told the many angry people on Twitter that he had been unaware of the advert until he also learned about it on social media, adding that he would get it "fixed pronto". Amazon Music also said that it had not known that the advert would cover the earlier mural and apologised to everyone who was "justifiably upset".

Karney added that Aitch and his management team have "been brilliant" and are "very, very keen to help us out".

But before anything can happen, they need a wall. Maybe you have one. If so, get in touch with Pat.


Tom Fletcher to release album alongside new children's book
McFly's Tom Fletcher is set to release a new solo album, titled 'Space Band', alongside his new children's book of the same name.

I say solo album - it's produced by McFly's Dougie Poynter and his backing band on the album is made up of Poynter plus Danny Jones and Harry Judd. So, the other members of McFly. The new book is also based on Fletcher's own experiences of being in the band McFly. So this whole project is quite McFly heavy.

'Space Band The Album', which is set for release next month at the same time as the novel, will feature eight songs based on storylines from the book, which promises to be "a hit with McFly fans as well as offering children a unique, multi-dimensional reading experience".

"I am over the moon to be bringing two of my biggest passions together in this joint 'Space Band' release", says Fletcher. "I had a blast bringing the story to life, recording songs from the book with life-long friends and bandmates, McFly".

"'Space Band' is a really personal book for me", he adds, "inspired by my own experiences of being in a band, so this album has brought it even closer to my heart. It's been amazing to share it with Danny, Harry and Dougie and we can't wait to take readers interstellar when we lift off this October".

The first single from the album, 'Nothing Rhymes With Sausage', will hit streaming services tomorrow. Fun times. Bossage?



Talent agency UTA has signed Indian singer, songwriter and producer AP Dhillon. As well as bigging up Dhillon's recent touring activity in a statement confirming the deal, the agency also says it will "help him find new opportunities across brands, film, television and other verticals".

Downtown-owned music distributor FUGA has announced two new partnerships: with Berlin-based artist management and label services agency Odyssey Music Network and Vienna-based label and management company Phat Penguin. FUGA's Head Of Business Development for the Germany, Switzerland and Austria region, Curt Keplin, says: "We're excited to be working with such credible, groundbreaking companies who support and nurture independent German and Austrian artists, providing FUGA's extensive services to create more global opportunities for their roster of talent".



DIY distributor Distrokid has announced a new free tool called the Spotify Canvas Generator, which will help artists create the short looping videos that can be placed alongside tracks on the Spotify platform. "Tracks that have a Canvas improve the listener experience on Spotify and result in increased engagement", reckons Amanda Ferri, VP Marketing at DistroKid. "DistroKid's vast new video library makes it easy for our members to create unlimited unique Canvases for any or all of their tracks".



Gorillaz have announced that they will release new album 'Cracker Island' on 23 Feb. "'Cracker Island' is the sound of change and the chorus of the collective", says guitarist Noodle. Guests on the record include Stevie Nicks, Adeleye Omotayo, Thundercat, Bad Bunny and Beck. Here's new single 'New Gold', featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown.

Editors have released new single 'Vibe'. Frontman Tom Smith says the song "takes up where [2019 single] 'Frankenstein' left off, and is a hymn celebrating the night, and all that thrives in the dark". The band's new album, 'EBM', is out on 23 Sep.

Connie Constance has released new single 'Mood Hoover'. Her new album, 'Miss Power', is set for release on 4 Nov.

Haai has released new single 'Biggest Mood Ever', featuring Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor. "[Haai] and I wanted to make a song together and kept excitedly talking about it", says Taylor. "I expected a techno banger but was so pleased that she sent this transcendental hyperballad. This song may crush you emotionally, if you are open to it". Haai is also set to play EartH in London on 4 Nov.

Cryalot - aka Kero Kero Bonito's Sarah Bonito - has released new single 'Labyrinth'. She says of the song: "'Labyrinth' is a song about hope and our ability to dream even when we are trapped in our own reality. The track draws parallels between the myth of Icarus and the confines of our own emotional landscapes". Her debut EP, 'Icarus', is out this Friday, and she will play Electrowerkz in London on 15 Sep.

Khruangbin and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré have shared new single 'Tongo Barra', taken from their upcoming collaborative album 'Ali', which is out on 23 Sep.

San Soucis has released new single 'All Over This Party'. "This song is a way for me to reclaim my power in an environment that very often misgenders, abuses and stigmatises femme presenting people", they say. "I'm non-binary and my gender identity is fluid. I wanted to celebrate this awareness by literally summoning my friends who have been such an inspiration for me in this journey".

Off! have released new single 'Kill To Be Heard'. The band's new album, 'Free LSD', is out on 30 Sep.



Fujiya & Miyagi have announced UK tour dates next month, winding up at Oslo in London on 21 Oct. Their new album, 'Slight Variations', is out on 30 Sep.

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


Dolly Parton launches wigs for dogs (and other things to make your pooch look more like her)
Dolly Parton has announced her latest business venture, cracking into the dog accessories market. Of course, this is an already busy sector, but she's attempting to corner the 'dress your dog like Dolly Parton' segment of it.

Dress your dog like Dolly Parton? Seriously? Why yes. By purchasing the Doggy Parton range, you can get your pooch - amongst other things - a gingham dress, pink cowboy hat (with tiara), rhinestone body harness, beaded necklace and - most importantly of all - a blonde wig. I can't believe you've been taking your dog out in public without a blonde wig on before now, you monster.

"'Puppy Love' was my very first record and six decades later, my love for pets is stronger than ever", the musician declares while launching all things Doggy Parton.

Just going to stop you there, Dolly. Until today, I was not aware that 'Puppy Love' was about the love of an actual dog. This puts a whole new spin on the lyrics that I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with.

Anyway, she continues: "This inspired me to start my own line of Doggy Parton apparel, accessories, toys and more with a little 'Dolly' flair. Part of the proceeds will support Willa B Farms, a rescue where animals in need find never-ending love. Don't we all need that?"

I guess we do. We all need never-ending love. And blonde wigs for our dogs. Check out the full range here.


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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