CMU Digest

CMU Digest 13.01.19: Sofar Sounds, UK Music, Koko, First Access, Merlin

By | Published on Monday 13 January 2020

Sofar Sounds

The key stories from the last week in the music business…

Sofar Sounds agreed a $460,000 settlement with the New York State Department Of Labor over its past use of unpaid volunteers at its shows. The Sofar Sounds business model came under increased scrutiny in 2019, with some contrasting the modest artist fees it pays and its reliance on volunteers with the millions in investment the company has raised. The firm insists it is evolving its model with more paid staff members at shows. The NYSDL acknowledged this and said the company had quickly addressed key concerns after it began its investigation last year. [READ MORE]

Cross-sector trade group UK Music sent a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the next round of Brexit talks. With the government’s EU withdrawal agreement now expected to get Parliamentary sign-off, new talks will begin next month over the UK’s future relationship with the EU. UK Music stressed that ensuring British artists can continue to tour EU countries without any increased costs or bureaucracy was the most pressing concern for the music community. But it also called on the UK government to implement last year’s European Copyright Directive, even as we cease to be subject to European law. [READ MORE]

60 London firefighters helped bring a blaze at Camden venue Koko under control last Monday night. About a third of the Koko building’s roof was alight when the London Fire Brigade first arrived at the venue, which is currently closed for major refurbishment. It is still not clear quite how much damage was caused and what that will mean for the venue’s planned relaunch later this year. Management thanked the LFB, confirmed “our beloved Koko is still standing”, and said further information about the impact of the fire would be communicated in due course. [READ MORE]

First Access’s response to the lawsuit over the death of rapper Lil Peep fed into the debate over the responsibilities of artist managers. The rapper’s mother Liza Womack accuses his former management team at First Access of negligence, allowing drug taking on his tours despite knowing of his issues with addiction. In a legal response filed just before Christmas, First Access denied many of the allegations in Womack’s lawsuit, while arguing that – even if those allegations were true – the nature of its business partnership with Peep means it would not be legally liable. [READ MORE]

Indie label digital rights agency Merlin announced it had hired a former member of Facebook’s music team as its new CEO. Jeremy Sirota takes over in the top job from Charles Caldas, who led Merlin for more than a decade having overseen its launch in 2007. Before Facebook, Sirota worked for Warner Music, including its indie label distribution division ADA. Merlin also announced the creation of an Executive Chair role which will be filled by former Epitaph Records General Manager Dave Hansen. [READ MORE]

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