TODAY'S TOP STORY: An organisation that represents businesses that work on outdoor events - including outdoor concerts and festivals - says that its sector is "on the brink of permanent demise" as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. Half of the companies surveyed by the UK's National Outdoor Events Association say they won't survive to the end of the year without additional government support... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Outdoor events industry on "brink of permanent demise", trade group declares
DEALS Universal Music allies with Lickd
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Universal Music announces new divisions in Morocco and Israel
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Spotify's tax affairs in Australia under the spotlight
BTS claim livestreaming record following Bang Bang Con online show
RELEASES New Order and Jon Hopkins rarites to feature on charity compilation
ONE LINERS Whities, Tidal, UK Music, more
AND FINALLY... Fiona Apple pledges two years of sync income from two songs to charity
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Outdoor events industry on "brink of permanent demise", trade group declares
An organisation that represents businesses that work on outdoor events - including outdoor concerts and festivals - says that its sector is "on the brink of permanent demise" as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. Half of the companies surveyed by the UK's National Outdoor Events Association say they won't survive to the end of the year without additional government support.

NOEA's membership includes the promoters and organisers of all sorts of different kinds of outdoor shows, as well as companies that provide production, technical, security, logistical and other services to such events. All have obviously been majorly impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown that has pretty much led to the cancellation of an entire summer season of activity.

Based on a recent survey of its membership, NOEA says that 84% of those surveyed have seen all the events they were scheduled to work on this summer cancelled. More than half have suffered losses of more than £100,000, with the association estimating that the average loss to event businesses is £539,431.

Needless to say, that puts lots of jobs under threat in a sector that relies heavily on small companies and freelancers. Three quarters of those surveyed have utilised the government's support schemes to furlough staff during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but 65% say that redundancies will still be necessary to weather the ongoing storm.

One challenge for this sector, of course, is how important the summer months are for each business. Even if live events start to return later this year as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, many companies will still struggle having missed out on the most lucrative half of the year. And if the government - as expected - withdraws its support schemes as those restrictions are lifted, that will likely result in widespread redundancies and closures.

The NOEA report says that of those companies surveyed, 65% only have cash reserves in place to keep the business going for six months or less, 41% for no more than three months. And just over half said they won't survive to the end of 2020 without further external support. And while 65% have already applied for government grants, 80% have so far received nothing.

The trade group stated yesterday that "the festival and events industry as we know it is on the brink of permanent demise". It added that "the loss of these businesses could permanently change the shape of the festival and event industry and lead to the closure of some of the most recognised festival, sporting, cultural and event brands in the UK".


Universal Music allies with Lickd
Lickd, the company that aims to make it easier for creators on platforms like YouTube to use commercially released music in their videos, has formally announced its partnership with Universal Music. The deal with the major involves both recordings and publishing, and will make a stack of music available to creators on YouTube.

The Lickd business model seeks to change the relationship between the music industry and the grassroots creators who post videos to platforms like YouTube.

Currently, if a user-generated content or social media platform has licensing deals with the music industry, creators that use commercially released music in their videos maybe covered by those licences. Once the music has been identified, the platform puts advertising alongside the video and shares the ad income with the music rights owners. But it's not a perfect system for either party.

First the music used needs to be identified, then the owners of that music need to claim ownership and finally the platform needs to sell some advertising. For the video-maker, there's always a risk a music copyright owner will block rather than monetise their video, plus they probably want to monetise their content themselves and take a cut of any ad income the platform generates.

From the video-maker's perspective, one solution is to use production or library music rather than commercially released music - preferably from a library like Epidemic Sound that is able to offer a one-stop-shop all-rights-covered licence for a set usage fee or subscription price. That means their video won't be impacted by any one platform's music rights management system.

But that's lost income to record labels and music publishers. To that end Lickd has developed a platform that offers video-makers a production music library style licensing experience, but with commercially released music. Achieving that means navigating all the complexities of music rights, ensuring that all the relevant elements of both the recording and song copyrights are cleared before allowing any video-maker to utilise any one track.

Obviously deals that bring large catalogues of recordings or songs to the table really help with that process. With the Universal partnership, Lickd will be able to start making available recordings from the major's labels where it already has the song rights covered. Meanwhile, Universal Music Publishing including some of its song repertoires in the deal will help with getting all the rights covered for songs well beyond the major's own label catalogues.

Lickd says that by "facilitating a streamlined path through the rights landscape", the Universal partnership "extends creativity for YouTubers and ensures new and established artists reach the highly engaged audiences of some of the world's most active creators".

Lickd CEO Paul Sampson adds: "Partnering with [Universal Music] represents a huge step forward in the creation of a streamlined path for social content creators to access pre-cleared commercial music. This is one of many positive moves helping to craft a more artist, songwriter and creator-friendly world comprising of fair compensation and affordable licensing. This collaborative partnership will undoubtedly deliver new ways for creators and musicians to actively engage with fans globally".

Speaking for the Universal side, the major's SVP Digital Strategy And Business Development, James Healy, says: "We're delighted to enter into a partnership with Lickd at a time when user-generated content is experiencing exponential growth and music remains the number one passion point for many globally. UMG recognises that by embracing and connecting these creative forces, our artists, their fans, who themselves are content creators and today's social content creators, we are enabling an environment of deeper collaboration and discovery, under a scalable model".


Universal Music announces new divisions in Morocco and Israel
Universal Music has announced yet more global expansion with the launch of new divisions in Morocco and Israel. The new divisions, the major says, further reinforce its commitment "to signing and developing domestic and regional talent, while strengthening local music ecosystems and infrastructure". And who are we to argue with that? No one, that's who.

"As part of our global commitment to discover and support music talent around the world, we are excited to launch our new standalone UMG operations within the Middle East and North Africa", says Universal's EVP Market Development Adam Granite. The new launches, he reckons, will "accelerate our ability to support local artistry and talent in Israel, Morocco and surrounding countries".

"Our intention is to provide real support, infrastructure and people on the ground in each country", he goes on, "helping the entire regional music ecosystem grow, and giving local artists the best opportunity to reach new audiences around the world. These offices will help UMG become a vital part of the regional music ecosystem and to help bring these new sounds and artist talent to music fans around the world".

I'm pretty sure he basically said the same thing three times there - kind of what that initial general statement said - but maybe he just really means it.

Universal Music Morocco will operate from Casablanca with a team led by Serena Safieddine that will work closely with the major's existing base in Dubai. Universal Music Israel will work out of Tel Aviv with its MD, Yoram Mokady, reporting directly into Granite.


Spotify's tax affairs in Australia under the spotlight
Spotify's tax affairs in Australia have been put under the spotlight after the Australian Financial Review reported last month that the streaming service's Australian division reported premium revenue in 2019 of just $416,000, compared to $129 million in 2016.

That's despite the significant growth in premium streaming during that time. It's estimated that Spotify's userbase in Australia more than doubled between 2016 and 2019, although exact country-by-country figures are not available for either total userbase or premium subscribers.

The reason for the disparity is that Spotify is no longer running its Australian subscription income through its Australian division, with subscriptions instead handled by its parent company in Luxembourg, where corporation tax rates are much more favourable.

Some speculated that this was a reaction to a change in Australian tax laws that took place in 2016, but a Spotify spokesperson said the shift in the way it reports revenue had been part of a global evolution of its accounting practices and not in response to any specific rule change in Australia.

Spotify's ad income in the country is still reported by its Australian division, but all subscription monies now go straight to the parent company. The $416,000 of subscription income reported in Australia in 2019 related to a legacy tel co deal.

The way tech companies organise their finances on a global basis - and the impact that has on the taxes that they pay - has been a big talking point for years, of course. And unlike the Googles and Facebooks of the world, to date Spotify has only had nominal profits to tax, if that.

But as the business grows and starts to become profitable - especially in more mature markets - it is likely that the streaming firm's tax affairs will be increasingly scrutinised by regulators, law-makers and its critics in the music community.

AFR quotes Peter Wells, a professor in the accounting discipline group at University Of Technology Sydney, who says: "As practices like this become more widespread in a service-based economy, the tax base is going to get eroded. I think it's something we can expect the government to address through more legislation and the Australian Tax Office to address through judicial responses".


BTS claim livestreaming record following Bang Bang Con online show
BTS are claiming a record for the largest ever attendance for a paid-for online performance. At its peak - according to the band's management company Big Hit - more than three quarters of a million people were concurrently tuned in to their livestreamed show, 'Bang Bang Con: The Live', on Sunday.

That show took place during what would have been a gap between the group's North American and European tour dates this year. All of which have been called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously.

Fans who bought tickets for the livestreamed concert were treated to a 100 minute performance, which saw the band move around a virtual house, with five rooms and two stages. Fans were also able to chose from multiple camera views. Over the course of nearly two hours, they performed a setlist of fourteen songs covering their entire career.

Big Hit reckons that the highest number of concurrent viewers was 756,000, spanning 107 countries. The company then says that this is a record for a ticketed online event. And you can try to argue with that if you want, but the Guinness Book Of World Records doesn't currently have anything else to measure that claim against.

The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, has led to an almost complete shutdown of the live music industry, with little certainty as to when things will return to normal. As a result, livestreaming is currently enjoying a boom - from free shows performed in musicians' living rooms on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to larger-scale paid productions like this one.

This show was put together as a consolation for BTS fans because the band were not able to tour in the real world. However, obviously the big talking point is whether what is being done here will become part of the music industry long-term even once conventional tours and shows are back up and running.

Obviously for bands with such a massive international fanbase - like BTS - where you'll never be able to play live for everyone in any one year, there is probably more long-term potential. What is still being tested is what platforms and experiences work best and how much money fans will pay. Issues around music licensing will also need to be tackled.

But for now, BTS's dabbling with performing online seems to have definitely gone down well. Big Hit also reports that the performance prompted around 10,000 new sign-ups to the BTS fanclub.


Approved: Ary
Singer, producer and songwriter Ariadne Loinsworth - or Ary, to use her stage name - released a string of well-received singles in 2016 and 2017. However, while her star seemed to be rising, she was becoming disillusioned with the pop world, seemingly unhappy with how her sound was being shaped by other producers.

Having taken time away to re-focus and work on new music by herself, she returns with her first single entirely produced, written and performed on her own, 'Oh My God'. Her first release under a new record deal with Island, it is her best work to date and starkly different to previous releases. Using multiple contrasting vocal lines to drive the track, she brings in sparse instrumentation to accent the emotional depth of the song.

"'Oh My God' is for me the start of a new era", she says. "For the first time I've started making exactly what I want, without thinking about who's going to hear it or if or where it's going to live post release. 'Oh My God' became a perfect distillation of my emotions at the time, and I honestly can't wait for everyone to hear it".

Watch the video for 'Oh My God' here.

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

New Order and Jon Hopkins rarites to feature on charity compilation
Mon Amie Records has announced a compilation release in aid of US charity the Alzheimer's Association, featuring previously unreleased music by Anna Calvi, Moby, Daniel Avery and more.

Other tracks on the compilation include New Order's extended mix of 'Nothing But A Fool', making it available on vinyl for the first time, and Hayden Thorpe and Jon Hopkins' cover of Q Lazzarus's 'Goodbye Horses', which has been out of print for several years.

The release is set to coincide with the Alzheimer's Association's annual 'The Longest Day' fundraising campaign. Label boss Mona Dehghan's grandmother died of Alzheimer's disease in 1998 and her father was diagnosed with it last year.

The digital version of the record will be available this Friday, with physical releases set to follow in October. More details here.

Here's the full tracklist:

Anna Calvi - Adélaïde
Rituals Of Mine - The Only Way Out Is Through
Daniel Avery - JXJ
Cold Specks - Turn To Stone
TR/ST - Destroyer
Shadowparty - Marigold
Beach Slang - Under the Milky Way
New Order - Nothing But A Fool (Extended Mix 2)
HAAi - Drumting
J Laser - Dreamphone
Sad13 - Who Goes There
Algiers - There Is No Year (Remix)
Astronauts, Etc - The Border
Wolfmanhattan Project - Friday The 13th
Hayden Thorpe & Jon Hopkins - Goodbye Horses
Moby - In Between Violence
Rhys Chatham - For Bob



Maria Egan has joined music creation platform Splice as its first Chief Music Officer. She was previously Head Of Creative at Pulse Music Group. "At Pulse I used Splice as an A&R tool, signing new writers that built their brands on the platform", she says. "I've watched Splice become a key player in this space and believe they're positioned to be a leader in the future of collaboration".



Indie label Whities has announced that it is changing its name to AD 93. Originally a Young Turks imprint, the label's boss Nic Tasker explains: "The name Whities was chosen for its reference to white labels and also it's the phonetic spelling of the YT abbreviation - YT's". However, since taking the label independent in 2017, "the name lost its connection to that initial idea and since it hasn't felt quite right".



Tidal has entered into a new partnership with Best Buy in the US to offer three month free trials to people who buy certain hardware products from the retailer, including speakers, TVs and headphones. People who take up the offer can also get discounted prices on the streaming service's different tiers for the first year.



UK Music has launched the Music Industry Workforce Diversity Survey, aiming to track "progress to boost diversity and inclusion in the UK's music industry". Says the organisation's Diversity Taskforce Chair Ammo Talwar: "Now is not the time for silence! We need major change at pace with impact in the music industry. This survey helps to kickstart the change we all want and deserve".



D-Block Europe have released new single 'Free 22', their second new track of the year after last month's 'Madow Like'.

Rico Nasty has released new track 'Dirty', taken from the soundtrack of HBO TV show 'Insecure'.

Grey Daze have released new track 'B12', featuring Korn guitarists James Shaffer and Brian Welch. The band's new album 'Amends', posthumously featuring vocalist Chester Bennington, is set for release on 26 Jun.

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


Fiona Apple pledges two years of sync income from two songs to charity
Fiona Apple has pledged to charity two years worth of film and TV sync royalties from two songs on her latest album 'Fetch The Bolt Cutters'.

In handwritten notes shared via a fan Tumblr account, Apple wrote that all sync income from 'Shameika' for the next two years will go to The Harlem Children's Zone charity, while income from 'Heavy Balloon' will be donated to Seeding Sovereignty.

Recognising that there is an outside chance that this commitment could result in zero income for these charities, depending on what sync deals do or do not come in, she adds: "I will still give each organisation I mentioned here $50,000, if no one ends up requesting use of these songs".

"But I will be able to give a lot more If I can earn some of that Hollywood cash", she goes on. "So here's hoping, here's trying, and that's that, I guess".

This is not the first time Apple has done something like this. Last year she pledged two years of sync income from her 1996 song 'Criminal' to While They Wait.


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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