TODAY'S TOP STORY: Indian streaming service Gaana has gone premium-only, seemingly after talks with Bharti Airtel, a big tel co in India, about a possible acquisition fell through. It's a bold move in a market where the vast majority of consumers use free tier streaming services... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Indian streaming service Gaana goes premium-only after acquisition talks stall
LEGAL Former R Kelly manager's testimony dominates in last phase of the musician's latest sexual abuse trial
Judge declines to issue summary judgement on Kobalt side dispute in Eminem v Spotify copyright case

Another song-theft lawsuit against Chris Brown is settled

LIVE BUSINESS Lyte buys Event Genius assets following Festicket falling into administration
GIGS & FESTIVALS BBC Radio 2 cancels Live In Leeds following Queen's death
Elton John to livestream final US show on farewell tour on Disney+

AND FINALLY... Miley Cyrus the latest artist to be sued over sharing pap photo on social media
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Indian streaming service Gaana goes premium-only after acquisition talks stall
Indian streaming service Gaana has gone premium-only, seemingly after talks with Bharti Airtel, a big tel co in India, about a possible acquisition fell through. It's a bold move in a market where the vast majority of consumers use free tier streaming services.

Gaana, alongside JioSaavn, is a major player in the Indian streaming market, having gained a significant userbase before the arrival of global rivals like Spotify and Apple Music into the market. Originally launched by Indian media conglom Times Group, the Chinese web giant Tencent has also become a financial backer in recent years.

Reports of a possible acquisition of the service by Bharti Airtel began circulating last month, but that deal has seemingly stalled. And an email from Gaana's Head Of Content And Partnerships, Sachin Kamble, sent to the firm's music industry partners last week, seemingly confirmed that that development has caused the shutdown of the platform's free tier.

According to Reuters, that email said that, because Gaana had not been able to "bring in fresh investments ... we are [now at a] crossroads - wind down or find a way to continue ... we have decided to give this another try. Hence, we have closed streaming for free users today and [are] moving to paid-only model. We will need your support on this, else we will have to shut down completely".

Despite that email sounding somewhat pessimistic, a spokesperson for the music streaming firm insisted Kamble's message has been misinterpreted, telling reporters that "these statements are being read out of context - Gaana is a strong business that is increasing its focus on subscription business with an intent to be a lasting company for years to come". Meanwhile, Gaana CEO Sandeep Lodha told Reuters by text message that "we are not shutting down".

For the music industry, premium paid-for streaming has long been the priority, with the free tiers run by various services often seen primarily as upsell platforms, despite efforts by the services to generate decent ad income from their free options. That said, in some markets, and especially emerging markets, the free tiers still dominate in terms of user numbers.

And while there are some in the industry who would like to ultimately see the free tiers much more restricted in terms of functionality - or phased out completely - few would expect such moves to begin in markets like India. So it will be very interesting to see how many of Gaana's millions of free tier subscribers upgrade when they get a message telling them they now need to pay, and how many simply switch to other services still offering a free option.


Former R Kelly manager's testimony dominates in last phase of the musician's latest sexual abuse trial
The ongoing R Kelly trial was dominated last week by the testimony of the star's former business manager Derrel McDavid, who is a co-defendant in the case. He is accused of helping Kelly cover up the star's sexual abuse of minors in the 2000s, but - he repeatedly insisted on the witness stand last week - at the time he genuinely believed that all of the musician's various accusers were lying.

For that claim to be credible, McDavid needed to convince jurors that he had never closely scrutinised the various sex tapes involving Kelly that were leaked and then retrieved during the 2000s, including the one that was at the centre of the musician's 2008 trial. That video allegedly shows Kelly sexually abusing his then fourteen year old goddaughter, referred to as Jane, who declined to testify in 2008 but has been key witness in this trial.

He also needed to be absent from some key meetings that took place in the 2000s, not least when Kelly met with Jane's parents to discuss that tape which showed him sexually abusing their daughter. According to Jane, Kelly confessed to the abuse during that meeting and apologised to her parents. However, she couldn't remember if McDavid was there, and he insisted last week that he'd been waiting in a car outside.

After that meeting, McDavid reminded the court, Jane and her parents denied that it was her in the leaked video. And Jane also denied having ever had a sexual relationship with Kelly. Meanwhile Kelly himself, McDavid said, had responded angrily at the suggestion that he'd been having sex with his fourteen year old goddaughter.

McDavid also insisted that it was reasonable for him to assume that the various people making allegations of sexual abuse against his employer were simply trying to extort money out of the star, because he had seen various former friends and associates of Kelly try to profit as the musician rose to fame.

And - according to the Chicago Tribune - the first woman to sue Kelly over allegations he had had sex with her when she was underage was not a credible accuser, according to McDavid. That was Tiffany Hawkins, who went legal in the late 1990s. But she claimed that Kelly had impregnated her, an allegation she couldn't prove and later dropped. That made McDavid doubt the claims made by Hawkins and other similar accusers that followed.

While, he added, he was initially confused when Kelly settled with Hawkins, given how adamant he was that she was lying - and that that could be proven - he said that the musician's then lawyer Gerald Margolis told him that paying off accusers to make litigation go away was a commonly employed tactic in such scenarios.

This is why he continued to believe Kelly when he said that his accusers were all liars, even after the tape featuring Jane, and then others, leaked.

Seeking to further back up his claim that he had no knowledge of Kelly's alleged crimes at the time - and that he was simply helping his employer and other advisors, like Margolis, deal with what he thought were cases of extortion - he noted that none of the musician's accusers ever went to the police with their allegations.

Although, the prosecution - who were obviously keen to throw doubt on McDavid's claims of ignorance - pointed out that neither Kelly nor Margolis were taking their allegations of extortion to the police either.

Following McDavid's lengthy testimony, the case for the entire defence actually rested on Friday. Efforts by McDavid's team to force a testimony from Jim DeRogatis - the journalist who has long covered the allegations against Kelly - failed. The writer successfully convinced the judge that his testimony was not necessary.

Both prosecution and defence will now begin presenting their closing arguments later today.

McDavid's team will continue with their claims that their client was not aware of his employer's crimes. And Kelly's lawyers will continue to throw doubt on the timelines presented by the prosecution's witnesses, in a bid to suggest that his alleged victims may have been over the age of consent the first time they had sex with the star.

Attorneys for the final co-defendant, Milton 'June' Brown - whose alleged role in Kelly's 2000s cover up hasn't had much attention during the trial - will no doubt stress that there's a good reason why nothing much has come up regarding their client. It's because he didn't really have a role in that cover up, being a low level employee in the Kelly empire.

The case continues.


Judge declines to issue summary judgement on Kobalt side dispute in Eminem v Spotify copyright case
The judge overseeing the copyright dispute between Eminem's publisher Eight Mile Style and Spotify last week declined to issue a summary judgement on a side dispute involving Kobalt.

That was based on the conclusion that some expert testimonies were probably required because, you know, music publishing is fucking complicated, and who the fuck knows what's really going on when a publisher licences a streaming service? I mean, I'm paraphrasing slightly. But that's pretty much what judge Aleta Trauger meant.

Eight Mile Style accuses Spotify of not properly sorting out all the admin before making Eminem's songs available to stream in the US. As a result, it can't rely on the compulsory licence that covers the mechanical copying of songs Stateside, and therefore it is liable for copyright infringement.

Of course, lawsuits of this kind were meant to come to an end with the 2018 Music Modernization Act which changed the way song rights are licensed to streaming services in the US. But, in 2019, Eight Mile Style sued anyway over Spotify's past streaming of Eminem's music, arguing that - for various reasons - the new laws shouldn't stop it from holding the streaming giant liable for its allegedly dodgy rights admin pre-MMA.

Along the way Spotify has tried to shift the blame onto Kobalt, as the administrator of Eight Mile Style's catalogue. It claimed that it was under the impression that it had the Eminem songs covered via its relationship with Kobalt, initially via the compulsory licence paperwork it sent to the music rights firm, and later via a direct mechanical rights licensing deal it negotiated with the company.

Eight Mile Style countered that - while Kobalt did have the rights to administrate its songs and collect any royalties due - it didn't have the right to license the smaller publisher's repertoire.

Meanwhile, for its part, Kobalt said that the streaming firm's legal filings "mischaracterised the substance" of its deals with both Eight Mile Style and Spotify. And it also took issue with the way Spotify and its rights admin provider - the Harry Fox Agency - had dealt with the licensing paperwork and royalty payments in relation to the Eminem songs.

As the dispute between Spotify and Eight Mile Style rumbles on, the former requested a summary judgement on the Kobalt side dispute. It asked the judge to confirm its viewpoint that, under its deal with Kobalt, it's "crystal clear" that the music rights firm is obliged to "indemnify" it in cases like the Eight Mile Style dispute.

But, according to Billboard, Trauger stated last week: "All of the underlying transactions and events at issue occurred against the unique backdrop of the music publishing industry, with its preexisting norms, customs, and terminology, which can be opaque to outsiders unversed in industry practice".

Therefore, "expert testimony is likely to be the clearest, most comprehensive way for a finder of fact to cut through the thicket of highly specialised knowledge that frames this dispute".

With that in mind, she declined to issue a summary judgment, allowing Kobalt to provide expert testimonies that back up its claim that Spotify is misrepresenting those deals. We look forward to finding out what those experts have to say.


Another song-theft lawsuit against Chris Brown is settled
Chris Brown's lawyers had a productive week last week with not one but two song-theft lawsuits settled. Having brought to an end a dispute with music firm Greensleeves in relation to his 2017 track 'Privacy', the Brown legal team also told the courts that a separate lawsuit in relation to 2019's 'No Guidance' was being dropped.

Singer Braindon Cooper and producer Timothy Valentine sued Brown last year claiming that 'No Guidance' rips off their 2016 track 'I Love Your Dress'. In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs said that "in addition to containing similar beat patterns, the melody and lyrics used in the chorus/hook of 'No Guidance' – 'you got it, girl; you got it' – are so strikingly similar to those used in the chorus of 'I Love Your Dress' that they cannot be purely coincidental".

Responding to the litigation earlier this year, Brown's lawyers said that Cooper and Valentine's lawsuit was "premised upon the alleged similarity between the wholly generic lyrical phrase 'you got it' and the alleged similar (and unoriginal) theme of a hard-working, attractive woman".

"No one", the Brown team added, "can own or monopolise the non-copyrightable phrase 'you got it', and it should come as no surprise that this phrase appears in countless other works. Also, lyrical themes are simply unprotectable as a matter of law".

Cooper and Valentine also sued Brown's collaborators on the track, which included Drake and Noah Shebib. However, both of them were subsequently removed as defendants from the litigation. But the legal battle with Brown himself ploughed on.

Until last week. According to Billboard, a new legal filing in relation to the case stated: "The above-captioned action and all claims asserted therein are hereby dismissed with prejudice". No details about any deal between Brown and the plaintiffs have been made public.

Also last week, it was confirmed that Greensleeves had settled a legal battle with Brown over the allegations that 'Privacy' ripped off the 1997 dancehall track 'Tight Up Skirt', which the UK-based music firm publishes.


Lyte buys Event Genius assets following Festicket falling into administration
Lyte - the platform that allows event promoters to manage ticket reservations and resale - has seemingly bought some of the assets of Event Genius, the provider of various ticketing tools that was acquired by Festicket back in 2019.

The deal with Lyte comes as Festicket itself heads into administration, a development which has seemingly resulted in the Event Genius business also being wound up. According to TheTicketingBusiness, it sent an update to its partners on what is happening last week.

That update stated: "We can now tell you that an agreement has been made with Lyte for the sale of certain assets from the business, including the technology platforms and employee contracts. We are on a path to close this transaction on Monday 12 Sep".

"In parallel", it went on, "we are in a process to wind down the existing business, which includes the appointment of an administrator to determine what monies will be on-hand to pay out unsecured creditors and promoter obligations. You will be hearing more on that process from us soon".

It then explained: "Going forward, Lyte will take over the operation and continue providing our end-to-end event management technology - while also offering their platform - to all of our partners. In addition, Lyte is preparing a proposal for new agreements with them which include plans to address what, if any, money you are owed by us".


Setlist: Vinyl is now more popular than Playstation games
CMU’s Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including new figures from the UK’s Entertainment Retailers Association showing that, so far this year, vinyl albums have risen up the ranks to become the second most successful form of physical media in terms of revenues, plus Taylor Swift’s efforts to block two expert witnesses from testifying, and limit the testimony of a third, in the upcoming ‘Shake It Off’ song theft trial.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here.

BBC Radio 2 cancels Live In Leeds following Queen's death
BBC Radio 2 has announced that it has cancelled its upcoming Live In Leeds event, following the death of the Queen. The event was due to take place on Saturday and Sunday this week, including a headline performance from Robbie Williams with the BBC Concert Orchestra.

In a statement, the radio station said: "Following the very sad news of the death of Her Majesty The Queen, as a mark of respect, BBC Radio 2 Live In Leeds will now not take place on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 Sep. Ticketholders will be issued with refunds via the ticketing provider".

Due to take part at Temple Newsam Park in Leeds, other performers booked for the event included Simple Minds, Tears For Fears, Nile Rodgers & Chic, George Ezra, Melanie C, Craig David, Emeli Sandé, Bananarama, Ella Henderson, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Olly Murs and Kaiser Chiefs.

Although the UK government - via the Cabinet Office - has confirmed that there is "no obligation" to cancel or postpone events during the official period of national mourning that will be in place until two days after the state funeral of the Queen next week, numerous music and sporting events have nonetheless been pulled in recent days.

The Mercury Prize ceremony - which was about to start as the announcement of the Queen's death was made on Thursday - was postponed at the last minute, while the BBC also announced that the final shows in this year's Proms programme - which was due to run until 10 Sep - would no longer go ahead.

Elsewhere, the English Premier League and Football League also postponed last weekend's fixtures, and the BBC announced that it would not broadcast any comedy shows for twelve days, during the official mourning period.

It was confirmed last week that the Queen's funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday 19 Sep.


Elton John to livestream final US show on farewell tour on Disney+
Elton John has been on a farewell tour now for approximately the last 653 years (including a break to enjoy the pandemic, of course). If you wanted to see him perform one last time but didn't manage to get tickets for any shows happening in your part of the world, well, worry not, because Disney+ has announced plans to livestream his last ever ever ever ever ever ever live show in the USA later this year.

On 20 Nov, John will conclude a three night run at LA's Dodger Stadium, ending the US leg of the farewell tour, with dates then remaining in Australia, New Zealand and Europe - the UK shows happening in April. But don't worry about any of those, because you'll be able to watch that final American concert live from the comfort of your home via Disney+. So that'll be nice for you.

John, as you might remember, announced plans to head out on one last world tour way back in 2018. Originally, the tour was set to conclude in late 2020, but ill-health and COVID-19 lockdowns messed up those plans. And so it is, nearly four years after he originally announced it, the farewell tour is still ongoing, currently scheduled to finally end next July.

As well as the livestreamed broadcast of the final US concert, there are also plans to film all three shows at Dodger Stadium, which will then be incorporated into a new documentary about the farewell tour. No release date has yet been announced for that, but it will also be available on Disney+, as well as receiving a limited release in cinemas.


Miley Cyrus the latest artist to be sued over sharing pap photo on social media
Miley Cyrus is the latest musician to be hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit by photographer Robert Barbera over photos she posted to Instagram. He has previously sued Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa (twice), all of whom settled out of court.

In this new lawsuit, Barbera says that he took a photo of Cyrus waving as she left a building in February 2020. Shortly afterwards, the photo appeared on Cyrus's Instagram profile without his permission.

"The photograph was copied, stored and displayed without licence or permission, thereby infringing on plaintiff's copyrights", says the legal filing, according to Law360. "The infringement includes a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for a fixed tangible medium of expression that was sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be communicated for a period of more than a transitory duration and therefore constitutes a specific infringement". So now you know.

Although by no means the only photographer to pursue this kind of litigation, Barbera has nonetheless made it something of a sideline to his work as a paparazzo. He launched his first lawsuit of this kind against Justin Bieber in 2019, represented by attorney Richard Liebowitz - who at the time had been recently described by a judge as a "known copyright troll" and ordered to attend a training course on "ethics and professionalism".

More recently, Barbera has been represented by Craig B Saunders, who also specialises in copyright and trademark infringements but - as far as we can tell - has never been accused of being a troll by a judge. Although that doesn't mean he's never been called that by anyone at all (he has).

It remains to be seen how Cyrus responds, and if she will also fork out a settlement rather than challenging the claim in court.


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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