TODAY'S TOP STORY: Yard Act have announced that they will be running a pop-up shop selling merch ahead of their show at the Leeds Academy tonight based in a pub near the venue. They say they are aiming to highlight the cut of merch revenues some venues take when bands sell t-shirts and such within their walls... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Yard Act highlight venue merch commissions with Leeds pop-up shop
LABELS & PUBLISHERS BMG restructures Spanish leadership
Insomniac Music Group partners with FUGA

LIVE BUSINESS Leadmill operators have nineteen shows scheduled in beyond March 2023 eviction date
ARTIST NEWS Wilko Johnson dies
AWARDS BRIT Awards reveals Slawn as designer of 2023 trophies
ONE LINERS Stormzy, Machine Gun Kelly, David Essex, more
AND FINALLY... Kanye West asks Donald Trump to be his running mate in 2024 Presidential election
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Yard Act highlight venue merch commissions with Leeds pop-up shop
Yard Act have announced that they will be running a pop-up shop selling merch ahead of their show at the Leeds Academy tonight based in a pub near the venue. They say they are aiming to highlight the cut of merch revenues some venues take when bands sell t-shirts and such within their walls.

The band will also be selling merch at the show as normal, but everything offered at the pop-up will be on sale for 25% less than that sold at the gig, calling attention to the portion of sales that the venue insists on taking.

"We decided to give people who will struggle to get to the pop-up the chance to buy some merch, so there will be a range at the Academy, but wanted to highlight the issue that certain venues are taking big cuts of income that is pretty necessary to keep artists on the road”, the band tweeted.

Their discount merch stand will be set up at The Social bar on Merrion Street in Leeds from 5pm tonight and the band will be there from 6-7pm "having a pint if you want to say hi or get owt signed”. There will also be exclusive items available at The Social which will not be on sale at the Academy. And the shop will be open after the show too.

The band also noted that they are not doing this at the other O2 sponsored venues they are playing on their current tour because they do not take a cut of sales, explaining: "Worth highlighting the merch cut is not an O2 policy, as most assume. The Ritz in Manchester is an O2 and doesn't take a cut to sell there. It's a venue choice”.

The issue of venues taking a cut of merch sales has been hotly debated post-pandemic, as artists attempt to make up for the losses incurred while they were unable to perform during the various lockdowns. Former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook and The Charlatans' Tim Burgess have been particularly vocal about it.

"This isn't about The Charlatans, it's about those bands who need merch income to survive”, Burgess said last year. "Some places take 25% - a quarter of the full selling price. Vinyl doesn't even have that mark up to begin with”.

Hook also told fans: "Charging the band 25% commission on the gross of anything sold makes having merchandise for most bands a total vanity project. Creating the artwork alone can cost £500 to £700, then the printing and transport of most two colour t-shirts normally costs between £6-£8 plus VAT. Another thing that these venues refuse to do is to take the VAT off the gross before they take a commission, which is actually illegal because the VAT belongs to the government”.

In January this year, the Featured Artists Campaign launched its '100% Venues' campaign, highlighting UK venues that do not take any cut of merch sales, encouraging said venues to confirm their no-commission policies by adding themselves to a special online directory. And earlier this week the FAC teamed up with the US-based Union Of Musicians And Allied Workers and rapper Cadence Weapon to launch a similar campaign in North America.


BMG restructures Spanish leadership
BMG has announced a restructure of the leadership at its Spanish operations, with the division now jointly led by Marcos Fairweather - who is overseeing recordings - and Javier Doria - handling music publishing.

"The market in Spain, particularly among established and proven artists, is currently one of the most interesting internationally”, says Maximilian Kolb, BMG's EVP Repertoire & Marketing Continental Europe. "It's also one of the strongest export markets and serves as a musical crossroad to both Latin America and Continental Europe. We believe this agile new structure will allow us to offer those artists and songwriters a degree of priority and global access unavailable elsewhere”.

Fairweather, who joins from Universal Music Publishing, adds: "I'm so excited to join the team in what is a new chapter at BMG for me. The core values of this company resonate with my views on how to best serve artists. A&R for me is first and foremost about artists and about building connections for them to develop their careers to their fullest potential”.

Meanwhile, producer, songwriter and performer Doria - who joined BMG in an A&R role in 2020 - comments: "BMG has built a strong position in the music publishing business since its launch in Spain. Moving forward, we want to develop new creative opportunities in the local market and introduce our songwriters to new audiences using our global network”.

The restructuring follows the departure of former Managing Director Pablo Rodriguez, who left the company in March this year.


Insomniac Music Group partners with FUGA
Downtown-owned distribution company FUGA has announced a new partnership with Insomniac Music Group, which operates electronic music labels, including Insomniac Records, Hard Recs, Factory 93, Basement Leak and Bassrush Records.

"We are excited to start the next chapter of Insomniac Music Group by joining forces with FUGA to enhance the overall reach and success of the records issued across our core imprints”, says Joe Wiseman, Director of the Insomniac Music Group.

"They have been raising the bar within the independent music distribution space”, he continues, "and FUGA's global footprint is the perfect catalyst to help us connect with new fans around the world while continuing to shine a light on the artists and sounds that we believe in”.

FUGA's SVP Americas Sarah Landy adds: "Insomniac is a leading platform for electronic music, standing at the forefront of the genre, and we're excited to be partnering with such a progressive music company. We look forward to working with the label group across our full suite of distribution, marketing and label services, and further expanding Insomniac's audiences globally”.

FUGA will be providing distribution, marketing, sync, audience engagement and other services to several of Insomniac's priority labels.


Leadmill operators have nineteen shows scheduled in beyond March 2023 eviction date
Although the war of words between the operators of the Leadmill venue in Sheffield and their landlord the Electric Group has not been so prolific of late, local newspaper the Sheffield Star has noted that those current operators have announced a number of shows that are due to take place at the venue beyond the date when they are meant to be leaving the building.

The existing Leadmill team announced in March that they had been given a year to vacate the premises by their landlord. That landlord, the aforementioned Electric Group, is a venue operator, and intends to continue running the building currently used by the Leadmill as a venue, but with new management in place.

Nevertheless, the decision to evict the current Leadmill team has proven very controversial within the Sheffield music community, and more widely, with a plethora of musicians and artists coming out in support of that current team.

Many of those musicians and artists have been publicly supporting a campaign launched by the current management seeking to pressure the Electric Group to reverse its decision.

However, to date it has not, and the plan remains that new management will take over at the Sheffield venue next year, which may or may not continue operating under the Leadmill name, depending on what the Electric Group's lawyers advise in that domain.

Whatever it's called if and when the current Leadmill team vacate the premises, there will presumably need to be a period of downtime as the new management take over. Not least because the current team have pointed out that they own all the kit in the building and will take it all with them, basically leaving an empty shell.

Despite all that, a number of shows beyond next March have already been announced. The Star reported yesterday: "Bosses at the famous music venue in Sheffield city centre are continuing to defy their landlord by lining up an array of gigs well past 25 Mar, when their 20 year lease is set to expire”.

"[The venue is currently] advertising a total of nineteen events at the premises on or beyond 25 Mar next year”, it added, "with its latest listings running all the way until 26 Oct 2023, when the comedian Kae Kurd is scheduled to appear".

The newspaper went on: "Neither The Leadmill nor Electric Group would comment when contacted by The Star. The Leadmill said any communication would be made via its official channels and declined to answer when asked if there was a contingency for gigs scheduled after 25 Mar next year should it be kicked out".


Approved: Leland Whitty
BadBadNotGood's Leland Whitty is set to release his debut solo album next month.

Titled 'Anyhow', it features Whitty himself playing the vast majority of the instruments - including saxophone, guitar, synthesiser, woodwinds and strings - although he's also joined by current and former members of BBND, Matthew Tavares, Alex Sowinski and Chester Hansen, as well as his older brother, Lowell Whitty.

New single 'Glass Moon' should get you hankering for that release date to arrive as fast as possible. Disarming you with a slow pace and initially gentle arrangement, the track builds in intensity across its four minutes pulling itself to an epic peak before falling away, leaving you wondering if it was ever really there at all.

'Anyhow' is out on 9 Dec. Watch the video for 'Glass Moon' here.

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

Wilko Johnson dies
Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson has died, aged 75.

A statement posted on the musician's social media accounts yesterday reads: "This is the announcement we never wanted to make, and we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died. He passed away at home on Monday 21 Nov. Thank you for respecting the family's privacy at this very sad time”.

Johnson formed Dr Feelgood in 1971 with singer Lee Brilleaux, bassist John 'The Big Figure' Martin and drummer John 'Sparko' Sparks. Centred on Johnson's distinctive guitar sound, they were best known as a live band, and it was 1976 live album 'Stupidity' that was their most successful recording, reaching number one in the UK.

Shortly afterwards, in March 1977, Johnson left the band to be replaced by John 'Gypie' Mayo. Although their next album, 'Sneakin Suspicion', went to number ten, the band's popularity waned after this. Mayo left the group in 1981, followed in 1982 by Martin and Sparks. Brilleaux continued as the band's only original member with a varying line-up until his death in 1994. And the band continues today with no members of the original line-up.

In 2009, Johnson appeared in 'Oil City Confidental', a Julien Temple-directed documentary about his life growing up on Canvey Island and with Dr Feelgood. After producers of HBO series 'Games Of Thrones' saw him in the film, he was invited to appear in the show, playing the role of mute executioner Ilyn Payne in five episodes over its first and second series. He also published an autobiography, 'Looking Back At Me', in 2012.

Johnson announced in 2013 that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and had been given ten months to live - perhaps up to a year if he had chemotherapy, which he declined. Shortly afterwards, he announced a farewell tour, not expecting to live past October that year.

However, he did survive longer than expected, later learning that he had a rare, slow-growing tumour, which was not as aggressive as doctors had first thought. Doctors also believed that tumour to be inoperable but, in 2014, he underwent an experimental new surgery, which saw doctors remove his entire pancreas, his spleen, and parts of his stomach and intestines.

The operation was a success and in October 2014 he was declared cancer free. "This tumour weighed 3kg”, he said, accepting the Icon Award at that year's Q Awards. "That's the size of a baby. Anyway, they got it all. They cured me”.

He continued to perform live, and in 2018 released his first new album of original material in 30 years, 'Going Back Home'.

"Man, there's nothing like being told you're dying to make you feel alive”, he said at the time. "It's tricky when you get to 70 years old, because what am I supposed to be singing? 'I love you, baby, but you done me wrong?' Come on! That's kind of a problem. But I never thought that I'd be the sort of person to write songs about different sorts of real life experiences until I got sick”.

Commenting on Johnson's passing this week, the surgeon who operated on him in 2014, Emmanuel Huguet, said: "I feel honoured to have known Wilko. He was uplifting and life enhancing for me. Like so many other people, I loved him”.

Johnson was due to play London's 100 Club on 23 Jan, with further dates scheduled through the spring and summer.


BRIT Awards reveals Slawn as designer of 2023 trophies
Organisers of the BRIT Awards have announced that artist Slawn has designed the event's 2023 trophies, which are set to be handed out to winners at the annual ceremony in February. He has created three individual designs, so musicians up for prizes will be competing to complete the whole set.

"I'm overjoyed and honoured to have been chosen”, says Slawn. "It is an incredible privilege to have the opportunity to take part in this celebration of fellow creatives since The BRITs are an iconic, self-named celebration of British creativity, and a genuine testament to the richness of talent-making and producing music both in this nation and throughout the world”.

"The BRIT Awards are a classic celebration of global talent”, he adds, "and a powerful forum to genuinely reflect on the shifting nature of culture and the contribution of people to that culture”.

Traditionally, the BRIT trophies wear a helmet, although Slawn's designs see them holding them instead, revealing three individual faces.

"I wanted to design an award that had a sense of refinement and playfulness at the same time”, he explains. "I am conscious of the narrow line I tread between conventional art and the entertainment industry. I wanted to convey feelings of gratitude and celebration since I know that opportunities such as this don't come along very frequently for individuals like myself”.

"The concept behind the sculpture is 'hats off to you'. My decision to remove the helmet from the award is my way of thanking The BRITs for providing me with this opportunity. I hope that seeing this award inspires not only the British populace, but individuals across the world, including myself, that these feats are achievable”.

"I've created something that I am extremely proud of that I feel represents my past, present and future”, he continues. "The placement of the arms and the decision to have three heads meant that I could create an award that shows a different perspective at every angle”.

"Growing up in Lagos I was surrounded by bronze sculptures, so they have a very nostalgic feel to me. I also wanted to commemorate and incorporate my roots into the design. I hope that in creating this award this is just the start of my journey in providing more opportunity for young people to realise that these achievements are possible with the right support”.

Chair of the 2023 BRIT Awards, Managing Director of Atlantic Records UK, Damian Christian, adds: "Slawn's work is incredible and powerful, and we've been blown away by what he has created - his design is bold, exciting and in the moment, and represents what we're trying to achieve with this year's ceremony”.

"We were very honoured that he accepted our invitation to put his own spin on the iconic statue and continue the BRITs' rich heritage of design innovation”, he adds. "I'm delighted to have him on board and to have his work play such a prominent part of The BRITs 2023”.

The 2023 BRITs ceremony will take place on 11 Feb - the first time they have been held on a Saturday. See the three trophies here.



John Fogarty's New Songs Administration has acquired various copyrights, songwriter royalties and artist royalties from David Essex. "I am THRILLED to be working with David and am looking forward particularly to finding sync and cover opportunities for his wonderful works”, says Fogarty.



Stormzy has announced all the guests who will appear on his new album. There are a lot of them. Here they are: George Moore, Knox Brown, Ayanna, Oxlade, Dion 'Chord Lord' Wardle, Scribz, Riley, KZ, Tempoe, Ms Banks, Owen Cutts, Ayra Starr, Juls, Joel Peter, Calum Landau, Amaarae, Tendai, Storry, Teni, Nao, Grades, Debbie, Elmiene, Jacob Collier, Sampha, Black Sherif, P2J and PRGRSHN. The album, 'This Is What I Mean', is out tomorrow.

Machine Gun Kelly has released 'Taurus', the title track from his new semi-autobiographical film, which is out in the US now.

Rozi Plain has released new single 'Help', taken from her new album 'Prize', which is out on 13 Jan. "I think ['Help' is] my favourite song on the new album”, she says. "A feeling can be a moving target and trying to track it down isn't always possible. Sometimes it's slipped away without you even knowing. Beloved things change and it's okay but can require a lot of deep digging”.

Cruush have released new single 'Sombre By The Weeknd' - their first for new label Hit Or Heist. "[The lyrics] touch upon trying your best to impress a group of friends only to be knocked down or made fun of”, says frontwoman Amber Warren. "It's about being surrounded by much bigger personalities and feeling timid and socially drained after social situations/parties. Feeling like you have to say yes to everything to impress, and toxic friendships which, when you're out the other side of, you realise that they weren't the right people for you”.



Connie Constance has announced a one-off show at The Lower Third in London on 30 Mar. Her new album, 'Miss Power', is out now. She also has other UK shows in Southampton, Brighton and London next week.



Next year's Heavy Music Awards will take place at Wembley Arena in London on 26 May, it has been announced. "We are immensely proud to be taking the Heavy Music Awards to OVO Arena Wembley, unquestionably one of the most prestigious music venues on Earth”, say organisers Dave Bradley and Andy Pritchard. "We have worked tirelessly over the last six years to build the HMAs into a platform befitting a scene bursting with talent and creativity. By moving to OVO Arena Wembley, we're realising our ambition to create an event that will recognise both emerging and established talent in the biggest possible way”.

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


Kanye West asks Donald Trump to be his running mate in 2024 Presidential election
Akon recently claimed that Kanye West's spate of antisemitic comments over the last few months are all an attempt to draw votes away from Donald Trump in the next US presidential election. But what if it was actually an attempt to appeal to Trump himself? West says that, at a meeting with the former President yesterday, he asked Trump to be his running mate in 2024.

West tweeted that he had met Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, adding that he'd turned up late and inappropriately dressed. Still, this seemingly didn't put him off making his big proposal.

"First time at Mar-a-Lago”, he wrote. "Rain and traffic. Can't believe I kept President Trump waiting. And I had on jeans. Yikes. What [do] you guys think his response was when I asked him to be my running mate in 2024?”

The options in the attached poll were 'That's very Ye' and 'That's very nay'. West's followers cast their votes and overwhelmingly concluded that Trump had agreed to partner up with the rapper. Or maybe they just thought that asking the question was a very 'Ye' thing to do. To be honest, the options given in the survey could have been clearer.

It seems unlikely that Trump would want to run alongside West - particularly if that put him in the Vice President position. Trump's not a deferring to a superior kind of guy, is he? Also, he might balk at another addition recently made to West's campaign team.

Last weekend, West told X17 that he had hired former alt-right poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos as his campaign manager, after the two were seen together at the rapper's studio in LA. A one-time ally of Trump, Yiannopoulos has since turned into a vocal critic of the ex-President.

West also gave X17's reporter a preview of his campaign merch and spoke about his plans to unite the divided people of the United States. Not sure how working with Yiannopoulos and Trump is going to help with that.

But either way, that's apparently West's official announcement that he is indeed running for President in 2024. Trump, of course, also recently announced his plan to run for a second term. So unless West's Twitter followers are correct, it seems increasingly likely they'll be going up against each other in the big political contest, in one way or another.


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.
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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.
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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.
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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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