TODAY'S TOP STORY: The music industry has criticised the UK government's newly published post-Brexit immigration plans, warning that they'll negatively impact on European musicians looking to perform here. Which will increase the likelihood of there being new costs and bureaucracy for British artists looking to perform elsewhere in Europe... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Music industry criticises UK government's new immigration plans
LEGAL Pearl Jam criticise proposed new ticketing laws in the US
IMPALA welcomes proposed competition law review in Europe
DEALS Kobalt allies with Issa Rae's music publishing venture
Mascot signs Davy Knowles
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES JioSaavn owner pumps in new investment
RELEASES Glass Animals have some déjà vu with new track
AND FINALLY... Neil Young publishes another Trump rant
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Music industry criticises UK government's new immigration plans
The music industry has criticised the UK government's newly published post-Brexit immigration plans, warning that they'll negatively impact on European musicians looking to perform here. Which will increase the likelihood of there being new costs and bureaucracy for British artists looking to perform elsewhere in Europe.

For those of you that have been super super busy and therefore missed the last twelve years of reality, here is a quick recap: some billionaires crashed the economy and blamed some foreigners, leading to austerity, Brexit and yesterday's proposed new UK immigration rules. There, now you're all caught up.

Numerous sectors have warned that the Conservative government's plans to restrict and reduce immigration into the UK will have negative consequences, ironically causing most harm to those voters the proposed fuck-the-foreigners legislation is designed to appease. But supporters of the proposals counter that critics in the business world are just worried about losing their supply of cheap foreign labour, and should instead employ and train British works.

Either way, for the music industry the biggest fear is the impact the new rules will have on the ability for musicians to tour.

Responding to the proposals on Twitter, the acting chief of UK Music, Tom Kiehl, wrote: "New plans confirm that from 2021 EU musicians coming to the UK for concerts and festivals will be treated in the same way as those from the rest of the world. This will drag some agents and promoters into the immigration system for the first time and increases the possibility that [EU] member states [will] introduce new bureaucratic hoops for UK musicians to jump through when seeking to perform across the European Union".

On the potential impact beyond tours and festivals, Kiehl added: "It's welcome [that] the government has reduced its salary cap [for immigrants], yet these proposals will still not work for many in the EU who want to work in the UK music industry over a longer period of time, given musicians' average earnings are £23k and a reliance in the [UK government's new] points-based [immigration] system on the need for elite academic qualifications".

Ministers have talked about there being some flexibility for certain categories of workers such as nurses, and the music industry will continue to lobby for musicians to be another such category. Meanwhile, some reckon there will be plenty of u-turns on hardline policies like these once the realities of actual Brexit start to bite in 2021. But either way, there is still plenty of uncertainty ahead.


Pearl Jam criticise proposed new ticketing laws in the US
Pearl Jam have criticised elements of the BOSS Act, the proposed new legislation in the US that would introduce some new regulation of the primary and secondary ticketing markets. Although the band say they do support some of the proposed reforms.

The BOSS Act is the latest attempt by Congressman Bill Pascrell to regulate the ticketing sector. It includes some measures that are mainly relevant to the primary ticketing market and others to regulate ticket touting, or scalping as they call it in the US.

Though, in the latter domain - while the BOSS Act would force more transparency on the secondary ticketing market and seek to stop touts speculatively selling tickets they don't yet have - it would also protect the right of buyers to resell their tickets.

That would mean promoters across the US could not seek to restrict the resale of their tickets. In the UK, of course, the fact promoters can do that - by banning resale in the terms and conditions, and then seeking to cancel any tickets that are subsequently touted - has been key to those artists who have pursued proactive anti-touting strategies.

Which that in mind, Pearl Jam argue that, by depriving US promoters of a similar option, the BOSS Act is pro-tout and anti-fan. In a letter outlining their concerns about Pascrell's proposals, they write: "Consumers need artists to limit scalping and ticket fraud, to use and ensure that tickets go to fans instead of profit seekers; transfer restrictions make that possible".

They also take issue with one of Pascrell's primary ticketing proposals: a rule that would force promoters to publish information on how many tickets they are putting on general sale for any one show. This proposal relates to a concern that is more prevalent in the US - that promoters allocate so many tickets to commercial partners that only a tiny portion ever go on general sale.

But, Pearl Jam say, the proposed obligation to publish ticket allocations would also mainly benefit the pesky touts. They write: "This hurts consumers more than it will help, because consumers don't make purchasing decisions based on how many tickets are available - bulk purchasers like professional resellers do. Many times, in final planning, after tickets have gone on-sale, we are able to create additional ticket opportunities. Artists need to retain this flexibility, for example, to open 'obstructed view' seats after a concert nears sell-out".

Among the elements of the BOSS Act supported by the band are the new rules on transparency, deceptive communications and speculative selling in the secondary ticketing market.

For his part, Pascrell is standing by his wider proposals, which - he says - will tackle "corruption" in both the primary and secondary ticketing domains. For the Congressman, taking on the dominant primary sellers (mainly Live Nation's Ticketmaster) is as important as regulating all those touts.

Responding to the Pearl Jam letter, he said: "Fans have been pinched, gouged, squeezed, soaked, and outright heisted by a seemingly endless litany of hidden fees, add-ons, and gimmicks created by the unregulated ticket monopolies who operate in the dark with impunity".

"My bill would be the first comprehensive overhauling of this corrupt marketplace", he went on. "Music and sports fans have waited long enough for relief. Pearl Jam may know a thing or two about making great music, but they've been led astray about my legislation. I would be happy to speak with the band about why Live Nation-Ticketmaster doesn't care about their fans and wants to preserve a corrupt marketplace".


IMPALA welcomes proposed competition law review in Europe
Pan-European indie labels trade group IMPALA has welcomed the news that the European Commission is planning a review of competition law and how it relates to the digital domain. That plan comes as the EU unveils new proposals to ramp up the regulation of big tech and future tech, especially artificial intelligence technologies.

IMPALA, of course, has played a key role in scrutinising and opposing, within Europe, the consolidation of the music industry over the years. But its interest in competition law matters extends to the tech sector too, especially given the ongoing concern over certain tech giants exploiting their market dominance to the detriment of creators and copyright owners.

Welcoming the EU's latest interventions in the digital world, IMPALA boss Helen Smith said: "The starting point is the EU's acknowledgement that a level playing field is essential and that rules applying offline need to also apply online. This should apply across the board, from competition to copyright, through to taxation. This sounds obvious but the reality is that online platforms too often get a free pass".

"We encourage the Commission to move quickly with its planned review of competition rules", she added. "This is in line with our call for the EU to make sure its competition framework is fit for purpose in the digital age. This means more frequent use of interim measures, being able to review minority shareholdings, and overhauling key concepts such as 'abuse of dominance' and 'essential facilities'. A lot needs to happen in this area to deliver a fair market".

Smith concluded: "We also support exploring new rules to prevent platforms with significant network effects from acting as gatekeepers. This is vital. We also need to build on the platform-to-business regulation to address unfair trading practices and ensure small players are not disadvantaged in today's online markets".


Kobalt allies with Issa Rae's music publishing venture
Kobalt yesterday announced a deal with actress and writer Issa Rae, who is perhaps best known for her YouTube channel and the HBO show 'Insecure'.

Rae launched a record label called Raedio with Warner Music last year. It seeks to work with artists, to lead on fashion and media projects involving music, and to build its own music library. Kobalt will now provide administration and creative services to the music publishing side of that venture.

Confirming the deal, Kobalt's Jeannette Perez said: "As a creator herself, Issa Rae epitomises our creator's first philosophy. She values all facets of the creative process, including the intersection of music and film. Through her experience as a writer, producer and actress, she has embraced music, and the artists and songwriters behind the music, as part of her medium".

"Issa is a true visionary", Perez went on, "and we are THRILLED to partner with Raedio to sign and nurture emerging artists and songwriters, maximise their opportunities in film, television, games and advertising, support the growth of the Raedio music library and provide first class administration services".

But what does Rae herself reckon? Well, she said: "Kobalt is the perfect partner to work for Raedio's publishing division. Their transparency with songwriters, producers and artists will be helpful as we build out our music library and work with emerging talent across all platforms where music exists".


Mascot signs Davy Knowles
Netherlands-based Mascot Label Group has signed British singer-songwriter Davy Knowles through its US division. Knowles will actually sign to the group's Provogue label.

Confirming the signing, Mascot Label Group's Ron Burman said: "We're very excited to be working with Davy. He's a talented young soulful, blues-rock guitar player whose skills far surpass his age! Davy is a welcome addition to our Provogue roster".

Originally part of the blues rock band Back Door Slam, Knowles has released several solo albums to date, most recently '1932' in 2017.

Confirming the deal from his side, Knowles added: "I am excited to join the ranks at Mascot Records, a label I've admired and been a fan of for a long time. I feel honoured to be included in their incredible roster and am excited to knuckle down on making some great music together in 2020".


JioSaavn owner pumps in new investment
With India being the emerging market where all the global players in music streaming are now proactively competing head-on with the regional services, the owner of Mumbai-based JioSaavn - Reliance Industries - has pumped another $19.6 million into its streaming music business. So that's nice. For them.

We know this because of formal filings regarding the new investment which have been seen and reported on by media in India.

JioSaavn was created in 2018 when Reliance merged its Jio Music service with rival Saavn. The latter had previously been backed by a number of international companies, with investors including US-based Liberty Media and German media group Bertelsmann.

JioSaavn currently boasts over 100 million monthly active users. In India it competes with another significant local player, the Times Internet-owned Gaana, as well as the likes of Apple, Amazon, YouTube and Spotify.


Approved: Anna B Savage
Pop songs about masturbation are almost a genre in their own right. Although they generally arrive on a gentle ripple of ambiguity. Newly signed to City Slang, Anna B Savage's first single for the label, 'Chelsea Hotel #3', leaves no doubt.

"'Wank more' was my 2016 new year's resolution", she says. "It was part of my need to battle all the internalised bullshit I had ingested about women. I've spent the last few years actively unlearning things I spent my first twenty years passively being fed. Like how women are sexualised, but never allowed to be sexual, they are the object - sometimes even an object".

"It took me until 21 to start masturbating, even longer to realise that sex was also for me - groundbreaking, I know - and that I had agency and could and should ask for things. It's wildly frustrating and sad. Out of these thoughts came 'Chelsea Hotel #3'".

Referencing Leonard Cohen's 'Chelsea Hotel #2' in its opening lines - just in case you were wondering - the track uses sparse instrumentation, with Savage weaving a story that seems to borrow from trad folk in structure, if not content. It's gripping, enlightening and finishes with a satisfying (pun probably intended) pay-off.

"The song is a groan of boredom for the role of passive, mute, muse women, and a scream for female autonomy and pleasure", she concludes.

Her first release since 2015's excellent duo of EPs - ie 'EP' and 'Live At Café Oto' - 'Chelsea Hotel #3' is an exciting and confident return. Savage will be supporting Destroyer on tour in the UK in May, with more music from her William Doyle-produced debut album also on the way.

Watch the video for 'Chelsea Hotel #3' here.

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

Glass Animals have some déjà vu with new track
Glass Animals have put out a new single called 'Your Love (Déjà vu)', the first offering from an in-the-works third album, which is the follow up to 2016's Mercury Prize-nominated 'How To Be A Human Being'.

Explaining the background to the new song, the band's Dave Bayley says: "I think we've all found ourselves in fucked-up relationships that make us feel sad and helpless. Not necessarily something romantic - maybe it's with a family member or a friend. A relationship that we know on some level is going to keep breaking our hearts".

He goes on: "We let that person back into their lives over and over again, even though it always ends the same. Maybe you don't confront it because you hope it'll change with time. Or because it's easier to let it slide and never set boundaries. Maybe you think you deserve that unhappiness. Or maybe you find some strange comfort in the chaos".

"This song", he says, "is about that ... about being addicted to chaos. About doing or allowing something self-destructive because on some level you get off on the sadness that comes of it. It's about wanting to float around and exist inside of that feeling, because it has always been familiar to you. It's something that a lot of people know from growing up in a tense household ... so it can feel right to create that dynamic, even if you don't realise you're doing it".

You can listen to the new track here.


Neil Young publishes another Trump rant
Neil Young's opinions of Donald Trump are well known, but - having recently gained his American citizenship - the musician has penned on open letter reminding everyone why he thinks the current US President is a "disgrace".

In the letter - published on his Neil Young Archives website - the musician disputes Trump's economic bragging, and criticises the President's "mindless destruction of our shared natural resources, our environment and our relationships with friends around the world".

He also returns to a common grievance among the musical community, Trump's use of songs at his rallies made by artists who strongly object to the President's politics and policies.

"Every time 'Keep On Rocking In The Free World' or one of my songs is played at your rallies", Young says, "I hope you hear my voice. Remember it is the voice of a tax-paying US citizen who does not support you. Me".

Young then expresses support for Bernie Sanders, who - of course - is again seeking to represent the Democrats in the next presidential race.

"One of your opponents has the answers I like", Young says. "He is aiming at preserving our children's future directly. He is not popular with the democratic establishment, because unlike all the other candidates he is not pandering to the industries accelerating Earth's climate disaster, the end of the world as we know it. He is truly fighting for the USA".

He concludes by saying of Sanders "his initials are BS, not his policies", then adding: "We are going to vote you out and Make America Great Again".


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
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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 InsightsCMU Pathways 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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