TODAY'S TOP STORY: Private equity firm Francisco Partners has confirmed it is acquiring a majority stake in Kobalt, though the current management team at the music publishing company will remain in place following the takeover, and they say that the plan is to plough on with their "mission of being a positive transformative force for the benefit of all creators". Lovely stuff... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Francisco Partners acquires majority stake in Kobalt
LEGAL Sam Smith and Normani again call for dismissal of Dancing With A Stranger song-theft lawsuit
DEALS IMPEL outlines partnership in North America with CMRRA and SX Works
LIVE BUSINESS Festicket heading into administration
RELEASES Gold Panda announces new album The Work
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard to release three albums in October

ONE LINERS Nickelback, Wembley Arena, Brian Eno, more
AND FINALLY... Vinyl overtakes Playstation games, DVDs and CDs as UK's second best-selling physical entertainment format
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Francisco Partners acquires majority stake in Kobalt
Private equity firm Francisco Partners has confirmed it is acquiring a majority stake in Kobalt, though the current management team at the music publishing company will remain in place following the takeover, and they say that the plan is to plough on with their "mission of being a positive transformative force for the benefit of all creators". Lovely stuff.

It's thought that Francisco, which is a mainly tech-focused fund, will control around 90% of the Kobalt business once various regulatory hurdles have been crossed. That business has two main strands to it, the core Kobalt song rights administration company and the digital licensing focused collecting society AMRA.

Kobalt previously sold off the song catalogues that had been acquired by its Kobalt Capital investment wing, and also the recordings side of its operation - the AWAL distributor and a neighbouring rights admin agency - both of which were bought by Sony Music.

The remaining 10% of Kobalt will seemingly be split between three investors - first founder Willard Ahdritz; second Dundee Partners, which was also involved in acquiring one of the song catalogues previously sold by Kobalt Capital; and Music, the music investment outfit founded by Matt Pincus.

Pincus is also known in the music industry as the founder of Songs, the one-time independent music publisher that sold its catalogue in 2017 to, oh look, Kobalt Capital. With his new business becoming a minority shareholder in Kobalt he will also get a seat on the board.

Ahdritz, who will remain in place as Chair of the Kobalt company, says of the big deal: "Having known the team at Francisco Partners for two years, I am excited to invite them into the Kobalt family. I look forward to working with them as Kobalt Chairman".

"This backing is a testament to what we've built at Kobalt, and we will continue working to improve the industry for our clients", he goes on. "I would also like to make a special point to thank all those who believed in Kobalt from the start: investors, clients and employees, who all contributed to building this great company, thereby changing the game for creators".

Also staying in place at the company is CEO Laurent Hubert, COO Jeannette Perez, CFO Catrin Drabble and CTO Nuno Guerreiro. Says Hubert: "Kobalt has been an agent of change and innovator for the past 20 years, and as a result, we have built an extraordinary brand and creative destination for the best creators in the world".

"We look forward to working with Francisco Partners to embark on Kobalt's next innovation chapter", he continues. "The combination of FP's expertise in technology and our deep understanding of the music industry will ensure that Kobalt expands its reach and impact as a global music publisher. Our mission of being a positive transformative force for the benefit of all creators continues".


Sam Smith and Normani again call for dismissal of Dancing With A Stranger song-theft lawsuit
Legal reps for Sam Smith and Normani have again called for a song theft lawsuit in relation to their song 'Dancing With A Stranger' to be dismissed. An amended version of that lawsuit, they argue, doesn't address the issues they previously raised about the song-theft claim.

Smith and Normani - and various other parties linked to their hit - were sued earlier this year by artist Jordan Vincent and producer Christopher Miranda who claim that 'Dancing With A Stranger' rips off their 2015 song 'Dancing With Strangers'.

On top of having nearly the same title and a very similar accompanying promo video to the earlier song, Smith and Normani's 'Dancing With A Stranger' - it was alleged - has the same "hook, chorus, lyrics, and musical composition" as 'Dancing With Strangers'.

"It is beyond any real doubt that Smith, Normani and the other defendants copied plaintiff's work", the lawsuit then claimed. "The protected expression in both the infringing song and plaintiff's pre-existing work is nearly identical and is strikingly similar".

The Smith and Normani side were pretty scathing about the litigation when filing a motion to dismiss in July. The lawsuit was "rambling" and "repetitive", they said, plus the plaintiff's own expert report demonstrated why no copyright infringement had occurred.

"Even as transcribed by plaintiff's expert, only the first and sixth notes are the same", the motion to dismiss stated. "Given that an uninterrupted sequence of four notes is not protected by copyright, two non-contiguous notes cannot be protected".

Vincent and Miranda filed an amended lawsuit in August, which the Smith/Normani side have now responded to. According to Rolling Stone, they argue that Vincent and Miranda's amended legal filing does not properly address the issues they raised in the July motion to dismiss.

And the revised lawsuit is also "self-contradictory" and "nonsensical". Among other things, the Smith/Normani team take issue with the fact defendants are accused of both direct infringement and contributory infringement. But you can only be liable for one of those - either you directly infringe someone else's work, or you facilitate another party who directly infringes.

Not only that, but "plaintiff's first amended complaint continues, rather than cures, plaintiff's failure to provide each defendant with fair notice of whose infringement he, she, or it supposedly knew about and how he, she, or it materially contributed to or induced it".

We now await to see if the judge allows this latest song theft dispute to proceed.


IMPEL outlines partnership in North America with CMRRA and SX Works
IMPEL - which helps independent music publishers to license and administrate their digital rights - has announced one of those good old strategic partnerships with CMRRA and SX Works which will provide new support for the organisation's member publishers in North America.

Lots of publishers now license their Anglo-American and possibly other repertories to streaming services directly, as opposed to via the collective licensing system. That approach began in Europe, although has since expanded to plenty of other markets too.

Technically the publishers can only directly license the mechanical rights in the songs they control because the performing rights, which are also exploited when music is streamed, are usually controlled by collecting societies. However, in some countries, publishers are able to include the performing rights in their licences by forming joint ventures with the societies.

The big publishers have done all this on their own, but many smaller indies have gone the direct licensing route by working with IMPEL, which also began with a European focus, but has been expanding its services into the Americas in more recent years.

CMRRA is the Canadian mechanical rights collecting society which, since 2017, has been owned by US recording rights collecting society Sound Exchange. Meanwhile, SX Works is a rights admin agency also owned by Sound Exchange that "provides administration solutions to music publishers and self-published songwriters".

Under this new partnership, IMPEL members will be able to manage their digital rights in Canada via CMRRA and in the US via SX Works. In some cases that means participating in digital licences negotiated by those entities. Or - with audio streaming services in the US, where a compulsory licence exists for mechanical rights - SX Works will manage each publisher's relationship with the society that now administrates said compulsory licence, that being the MLC.

It's also a two way alliance, in that CMRRA's music publisher members will now be able to participate in IMPEL's multi-territory licences with streaming services in Europe and elsewhere.

Confirming the partnership, IMPEL CEO Sarah Williams says: "This is an important step for IMPEL. First and foremost, it is about giving valuable options to independent music publishers that did not previously exist. We believe that this new strategic partnership is just the start of a collaboration that will bring real value to our members and the songwriters they represent. Whether this involves licensing opportunities, problem solving or any other innovation, in our universe co-operation is the key to unlocking opportunity".

And the President of CMRRA and SX Works, Paul Shaver, adds: "CMRRA and SX Works are extremely proud of this partnership with IMPEL as we have a shared vision to ensure rights owners are accurately compensated for usage of their works. CMRRA's long-standing foundational expertise in work-by-work, share-by-share administration will drive positive results for IMPEL members and their writers".


Festicket heading into administration
It looks like ticketing company Festicket is now heading into administration following a brief moratorium during which no legal action could be filed against the firm without court approval.

Festicket - which specialises in selling special packages around festivals and music events - submitted a 'notice of commencement of moratorium' to the UK's Companies House last month. That's a process under UK law designed to give companies that are facing certain financial challenges a little time to address those issues without the threat of litigation.

A new filing with Companies House earlier this week confirmed that the moratorium was brought to an end on 30 Aug because "the company is unable to pay moratorium debts [and] pre-moratorium debts for which the company does not have a payment holiday during the moratorium". Companies are still obliged to pay things like rent and wages during any moratorium period.

When the paperwork initiating the moratorium was submitted last month a source told TheTicketingBusiness that the firm was in talks with a third party, possibly about buying the ticketing platform, while directors were also consulting advisors on ways to restructure the business.

However, a court filing attached to the latest Companies House submission states: "The moratorium is no longer likely to result in the rescue of the company as a going concern. The board resolved on 29 Aug that the company should enter administration proceedings and that a Notice Of Intention To Appoint Administrators be filed".

A number of UK companies reliant in part or whole on the live music sector, and which were therefore hit by the COVID shutdowns, have moved towards administration in recent weeks, despite having just about survived the pandemic itself. That includes that other innovative ticketing outfit Pollen and the merchandise business Awesome.

The latter went though a so called pre-pack administration, with the assets of the insolvent Awesome Merchandise Limited sold to a new company set up by the merch business's founder.


Approved: The Umlauts
The Umlauts say that they're "just your average trans-European, multi-lingual, art school, post-punk, techno-inspired, über-group/circus-troop/diaeresis". So now you know. Originally formed by musicians Alfred Lear and Oliver Offord, the project came to life with the addition of vocalists Annabelle Mödlinger and Maria Vittoria Faldini.

Having gained attention with previous singles 'Non è Ancora' and 'Another Fact', they're now back with the third and final preview of their upcoming debut EP 'Another Fact' in the form of new single 'Sweat'.

The vocals look at summer romances from different perspectives - one positive, one negative - and in different languages - one English, one Italian. They leave no confusion about which is which, explaining: "Singing in English seems to unveil our most pessimistic side. But musically we wanted this song to feel almost like an Italo-pop pastiche. It's good fun, we love it".

With the band set to tour the UK in November, including a show at Peckham Audio in London on 16 Nov, the EP will be out on 14 Oct.

Listen to 'Sweat' here.

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Gold Panda announces new album The Work
Gold Panda has announced that he will release his new album, 'The Work', later this year, with new single 'The Corner' out now.

It samples the Dean Friedman track 'Lydia' which, the producer says, was given to him by a friend a few years ago. On originally hearing the track - and especially the sampled lyric "I'm down here on the corner" - he says: "I had to loop it up and mess with it. I tried to make it into a beat for some rappers but I could never get it right".

"When making this album I found the sample again", he explains, "I had a new way of recording so starting from scratch it all came together".

And now that he's finally made a track with the Friedman sample, maybe some rappers will be inspired to use it. "When I made [2010 album] 'Lucky Shiner' people used to rap over those tracks and stick them on SoundCloud etc", he notes, "so I'm hoping this will inspire people to do it again".

Speaking about the album's title, he says that "'the work' is something that's used in my therapy a lot, and I hear it a lot in self-care and books about mental health - the work on yourself basically. Which I've done with therapy, running, pilates and an osteopath".

"The last few years", he adds, have been about "self-care and trying to put the work in on myself to see where I'm going wrong and why I might be depressed. When my first daughter was born I found that transition really hard from not being the only person to look after - just taking caring of myself, not having time to do anything and managing my time, so I had to work on that too: there are loads of things 'the work' can be about".

"I never thought I'd be happy in my 40s", he goes on. "But I think also becoming 40 helped me be able to realise the things I like doing and am comfortable doing, not doing what other people might expect me to do. I think a lot of the tunes don't go where you expect. There's a lot of changes and a lot of stuff going on".

"I get more comfortable with the music I make as Gold Panda now", he concludes. "I always wanted to do the 'cool' music, but I can only make the music I make, I suppose. I think that's why I find making club music hard - I don't spend enough time in them. I don't know where I fit in, and maybe that's good".

Listen to 'The Corner' here.


King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard to release three albums in October
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard have announced that they will release a slightly excessive three new studio albums next month. Although that will bring them up to a total of 23 in the space of the last ten years, and in that context maybe it's not such an over the top plan.

Rather than turning up to the studio with pre-written songs and demos, the plan for this trilogy was to create music in the moment. And so, over the course of seven days, the band turned up for recording sessions with no plan but to jam, each day picking a different scale and BPM to work on.

"All we had prepared as we walked into the studio were seven song titles", says frontman Stu Mackenzie. "I have a list on my phone of hundreds of possible song titles. I'll never use most of them, but they're words and phrases I feel could be digested into King Gizzard world".

"Naturally, each day's jams had a different flavour, because each day was in a different scale and a different BPM", he goes on. "We'd walk into the studio, set everything up, get a rough tempo going and just jam. No preconceived ideas at all, no concepts, no songs. We'd jam for maybe 45 minutes, and then all swap instruments and start again".

Following those freewheeling recording sessions, things had to get more methodical to cut up those recordings and turn them into actual songs. This included the lyrics, which were penned once the instrumentals were formed. Mackenzie explains: "We had an editable Google Sheet that we were all working on. Most of the guys in the band wrote a lot of the lyrics, and it was my job to arrange it all and piece it together".

And so, from that chaos came these three new albums. The first, 'Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava', will be released on 7 Oct, followed by 'Laminated Denim' on 12 Oct and 'Changes' on 28 Oct.

From 'Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava', this is 'Ice V'.



London's Wembley Arena has been sold by previous owner Quintain to the Intermediate Capital Group for an undisclosed sum. But it will still be operated by ASM Global and sponsored by OVO Energy, so you probably won't notice.

Warner Chappell has signed pop singer-songwriter Lauren Spencer Smith to a global publishing deal. "Lauren is well on her way to becoming the voice of her generation", shouts SVP A&R Katy Wolaver. "Her music is filled with relatable and unfiltered lyrics as well as stunning vocals, and she has this natural star power that all of us at Warner Chappell believe in".



Pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA has announced a new EU-funded climate training and standards initiative for independent music companies, called IMPACTS. "It is great to see that this EU funded call recognised the value of this project by awarding it the highest points among all submitted projects and saw it as a first step in promoting climate literacy and establishing sectorial standards across Europe", says IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith. "We are hoping IMPACTS will serve as a good basis for further climate projects on a more comprehensive scale and with the appropriate support from EU bodies, on the policy-making level and the financial level as well".



Nickelback have announced that they will release their tenth studio album, 'Get Rollin', on 18 Nov. "We've spent the last few years making a record at a pace that gave us the freedom to create and we can't wait for everyone to hear the new music", say the band. "We've missed the fans and look forward to bringing the new songs to life on stage, so let's get rollin!" Right. Well, here's new single, 'San Quentin'.

Brian Eno has released 'We Let It In', on which he trades vocals with his daughter Darla. The track is taken from his upcoming new album 'Foreverandevernomore', which is out on 14 Oct.

The xx's Oliver Sim has released new single 'Run The Credits', ahead of the release of his debut solo album 'Hideous Bastard' tomorrow.

Deerhoof have released new single 'My Lovely Cat', an ode to late internet famous cat Lil Bub. The track is produced by Lil Bub's former owner Mike Bridavsky. "If you were going to compose a song about a cute cat from the internet, and then track down the guy known for their cute cat from the internet to produce it, you would be shrewd indeed", say the band. "This we did not do, because we didn't know about Mike Bridavsky or Lil Bub when we wrote the song. Well, we think about him now: a true collaborator and artist and friend!"

Alela Diane has released new single 'Camelia'. Her new album, 'Looking Glass', is out on 14 Oct and she will play St Matthias Church in London on 20 Oct.

Nnamdi has released new single 'Dedication', the last before the release of his new album 'Please Have A Seat' on 7 Oct. "I wrote this deep into the 2020 pandemic as self-motivation to get me out of the crippling funk, just to get me to wanna do anything", he says. "I would play it to go on a run/exercise before I worked on music and before I responded to people's phone calls. It was really just me hyping myself up to do something to get through the slump and make it through the weeks".

Maja Lena is back with new single 'Through The Wall', taken from her new album 'Pluto', which is out on 2 Dec. "I wrote 'Through The Wall' while we were recording the album", she says. "I wasn't sure if it would make it onto the record, but I couldn't stop playing it and then we ended up tracking it. Lyrically, there are themes of feeling torn between two worlds, themes of feeling not good enough, and themes of feeling lost. It's also about the strange passing of time". She will be touring the UK in January and February.

Loraine James has released new single 'Choose To Be Gay'. Her new album, 'Building Something Beautiful For Me', is out on 7 Oct.

Liraz has released new single 'Bishtar Behand', taken from her new album 'Roya', which is out on 7 Oct.

Girlpuppy has released new single 'The Destroyer'. Her debut album, 'When I'm Alone', is out on 28 Oct.

Marlon Williams has released new single 'Don't Go Back'. "There are a lot of New Romantic influences in 'Don't Go Back'", he says. "I love the songwriting and over-the-topness of bands like Duran Duran. I was too young to have a sense of it the first time around, but at least to the modern ear there's a silliness to the pathos in that music that definitely had an influence on the tone of the record". His new album, 'My Boy', is out this week.

Luci is back with new single 'Gnarly'. "This song is just about being in your bag", she says. "Poppin yo shit and backin it up! My music is about digging deeper inside to find your gold. You don't have to bury or tame anything. You need to be diligent and sure - people love to be struck with striking authenticity". Her debut EP, 'Juvenilia', is out on 23 Sep.

Mörmand has released new single 'We Love We Dive'. She says of the song: "It's primarily hopeful and positive, but it also addresses that a romantic relationship isn't always easy and wonderful", she says. "People and relationships are flawed, but surely we want what's real - including the struggles that come with it - because that's the most fulfilling kind of love, I think". Her debut EP, 'Push Pull', is out on 18 Nov.

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


Vinyl overtakes Playstation games, DVDs and CDs as UK's second best-selling physical entertainment format
Not only are vinyl sales in the UK now comfortably out-performing CD sales, but the sale of vinyl albums is bringing in more revenue than the sale of physical format Playstation 4 and 5 games combined, according to new figures from the UK's Entertainment Retailers Association.

In terms of physical entertainment formats, only Nintendo Switch games have brought in more money than vinyl so far this year. But the revenues generated by Nintendo Switch games are down 12.5% year-on-year while vinyl sales are up 12.2%. So it's all to play for! Although people will need to play more records than games if we want vinyl to take the number one position.

Of course, ERA usually groups all console games together in its figures - Switch and Playstation games not really being different entertainment formats - so perhaps the race isn't quite as exciting as all this suggests. Whatever - vinyl! Woo!

"Vinyl's rise and rise seems unstoppable", says ERA CEO Kim Bayley. "For a 74 year old analogue format to eclipse the digital-age technology of games platforms is quite extraordinary. Ten years into its long climb back to favour, the vinyl revival is most definitely here to stay".

According to ERA, vinyl has brought in £80.9 million so far this year, up from £72.1 million at the same point last year. Playstation 4 and 5 games were also up, but only slightly to £79.6 million from £74.7 million. Nintendo Switch games, meanwhile, saw revenues fall to £88.7 million, compared to £101.3 million for the first 35 weeks of 2021.

In terms of vinyl out-performing CDs, sales of the latter have brought in £68.9 million so far this year, 8.1% less than this time last year, when CD revenues were £74.9 million. It means that vinyl albums have brought in £12 million more in revenue in the UK so far this year than CD albums.

CDs are out-performing physical video formats though. DVD sales - which slightly outperformed CDs for 2021 as a whole - are down 19.9% so far this year, from £83.4 million at this point last to £66.8 million. Though Blu-ray sales are up, from £47.4 million this time last year to £52.1 million for the first 35 weeks of 2022.

Let's get back to music though, and if you're wondering where in the UK vinyl is most popular - which you undoubtedly are - it's been revealed that the city of Glasgow has the most avid vinyl collectors, or at least that's the conclusion of a study into the things people like collecting carried out by The Royal Mint.

In fact, it reckons that 32% of the UK's vinyl collectors live in Glasgow, beating the whole of North East England, which collectively has 25%. We don't really know what that actually means, but well done to all you vinyl collecting Glaswegians.

What are people collecting the most of in other cities and regions? Well, Southampton goes for coins, in London it's trainers, and in the West Midlands as a whole it's wine. Glasgow also takes the crown for the most collectors of rare books. Glasgow is so very sophisticated.


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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