TODAY'S TOP STORY: As expected, Spotify has finally arrived in Russia after several false starts trying to launch in the country. The streaming service actually announced it was going live in thirteen new markets yesterday, all Eastern European countries and/or former Soviet states... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Spotify finally arrives in Russia
LEGAL Creators call on EU leaders to properly support COVID-hit cultural industries
LIVE BUSINESS Exit and We Are FSTVL cancel postponed 2020 editions
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Talib Kweli looks to Patreon to fund next album
EDUCATION & EVENTS Artist:Entrepreneur Day returns with special online edition
RELEASES Beabadoobee releases first single from debut album
ONE LINERS Bronco, Lianne La Havas, Rejjie Snow, more
AND FINALLY... Kanye West reportedly out of presidential race
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Spotify finally arrives in Russia
As expected, Spotify has finally arrived in Russia after several false starts trying to launch in the country. The streaming service actually announced it was going live in thirteen new markets yesterday, all Eastern European countries and/or former Soviet states.

Russia is currently the seventeenth biggest recorded music market in the world, but its growth rate in 2019 was 58.3%, according to stats from the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry. So it's an increasingly important market for the global record industry.

Apple Music is already live in Russia. However, certainly outside the big urban centres, the music services operated by Russian internet companies Yandex and VK are much more dominant. It will be interesting to see how Spotify fairs, given the local competition.

The other countries Spotify arrived in yesterday are Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine. The latest launches means that Spotify is now available in 92 markets worldwide.

Announcing all this, the digital firm's VP Markets & Subscriber Growth, Gustav Gyllenhammar, said: "Today's launch opens the door for nearly 250 million fans to start discovering new music from around the world on Spotify, and for artists in the region to reach the increasingly connected global audience of fans".

"Launching in these thirteen markets is an important moment in Spotify's journey", he went on, "especially as we welcome fans and artists in growing music markets like Russia, where streaming is being widely adopted and where we see a significant opportunity for Spotify".

If all that talk about music fans and music discovery and music markets makes you nostalgic for the days when Spotify was a super exciting "music" company, rather than cold-hearted "audio" company, don't worry, a podcast announcement was pushed out of Spotify HQ yesterday too. There's no time for nostalgia around here thank you very much.

"Just finished your latest podcast binge and ready to find the next?", asked this particular announcement. "Look no further than Spotify's new Top Podcasts and Trending Podcasts charts". So yes, Spotify has launched some podcast charts.

It will list the most popular podcast programmes on its platform in 26 markets, with more detailed charts based around the different categories of podcasts in Brazil, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Sweden, the UK and the US.


Creators call on EU leaders to properly support COVID-hit cultural industries
As political leaders from across the European Union head to Brussels this Friday to discuss a COVID-19 response plan and a new long-term EU budget, 45 leading cultural figures from across Europe have called for more to be done to support and protect the creative industries. Among those signing an open letter to the political leaders are music-makers like Aga Zaryan, Benny Andersson, Björk, Evelyn Glennie, Jean-Michel Jarre, Maryla Rodowicz and MØ.

Recapping the impact the COVID-19 shutdown has had on the creative and cultural industries across the continent, the letter declares that "European culture is in the midst of a crisis", adding that: "How decision-makers choose to respond now will set the scene for the next decade of cultural and creative life in our union".

It goes on: "Cultural and creative sectors are Europe's third largest employer. Meaning the economic consequences of a stagnant sector have reached far beyond the realm of culture. But, despite such a diminished cultural landscape, it is to culture that we have all turned during this time of great personal and societal adversity".

"It is music that has brought us together on balconies, films and TV series that have entertained us, documentaries, books, performances, pieces of art that have all truly comforted us in our solitude and helped us to escape intellectually and creatively".

Focusing in on the current challenge and future prospects, the letter continues: "Despite strong messages from leaders of the European Union that our sectors would be firmly supported, the current proposals for a recovery plan and a European budget strangely fail to consider the needs of the cultural and creative sectors. As creators and professionals from the sector, we call on the EU leaders to be bold and to invest in culture and the arts, to invest in all our creative futures".

"We need a plan that revives our cultural ecosystem and inspires the next generation of Europeans", it argues. "This means providing the financial resources at a level which will allow art, culture, cultural and creative enterprises, creators and creative workers to continue their work, to survive and thrive into the future. This is an opportunity for the EU to amply demonstrate that it can honour its values. The time is now for Europe to be ambitious and invest in its creative future".

You can read the full letter on IMPALA's website here.


Exit and We Are FSTVL cancel postponed 2020 editions
Although some live music is returning across Europe as COVID-19 measures are relaxed in many countries, there remains much uncertainty as to what gigs and festivals - and what kinds of gigs and festivals - will be able to take place in the months ahead. One of the bigger European festivals that had hoped it could proceed with an albeit postponed 2020 edition - Exit in Serbia - has now confirmed its cancellation.

With Eastern European countries generally seeing lower levels of infection in the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic - possibly because of the quicker introduction of lockdown restrictions by governments in that part of the world - it looked like Exit could be one the few major European festivals to get to go ahead this summer. And the Serbian government even urged organisers to postpone rather than cancel the July event, believing that things would be more or less back to normal by August.

However, many of those countries are now seeing a second spike of the virus, requiring previously lifted restrictions to be put back in place. As that began to happen in Serbia, Exit promoters considered reducing the festival's capacity - at one point a 90% reduction was even being mooted, with most people being invited to tune in via livestreams - but yesterday they confirmed that there was now no viable way to continue.

The festival said in a statement: "As you may know, earlier this spring, the Serbian Prime Minister had asked Exit not to cancel the festival but rather postpone it to mid-August".

"At that time, the number of new daily cases was on a steady sharp decline and even our most cautious health experts believed that zero number of cases would be reached in June, almost two months before the new festival date in August. During this time, the whole of Serbia was also fully re-opened, with no restrictions in an open-air public gathering and all borders were open".

"Unfortunately", it went on, "during the past few weeks, there has been the development of the epidemic with an increase of new daily cases in several municipalities in Serbia that were put under strict restrictions. The Exit team has followed the current situation of the epidemic closely, always keeping in mind the safety and health of all visitors, artists and team members. That is why it was decided first to drastically reduce the festival capacity in order to make sure that everything would be as safe as possible".

"However, since the health situation has not improved yet after the second spike in cases, organisers have made the decision that the 20 year celebration of Exit Festival will not take place from 13-16 Aug this year at Petrovaradin Fortress. It has not been an easy decision to make, but, the health and safety of festival-goers, artists and all our team members is paramount and under the current circumstances, this was the best decision to make".

Organisers added that they now hoped to stage an online event of some kind in September to mark the festival's 20th anniversary.

It remains to be seen how many of the European festivals scheduled to take place in August and September - some events that were pushed back from earlier in the year - are able to go ahead, with the risk of localised second spikes arguably as problematic as the actual localised second spikes.

In the UK, the government last week gave the go ahead for open-air performances to resume, albeit with some social distancing restrictions still in place. But it's not really clear if that will enable the open-air music festivals that had not yet cancelled their 2020 editions to proceed.

Organisers of the East London dance music centric We Are FSTVL have said they are calling off their plans to stage a rescheduled edition of the event in September because current government guidance is "contradictory and unhelpful".

We Are FSTVL organisers have been liaising with two local authorities to the east of London because of plans to move sites. It was while in communication with Barking & Dagenham Council that they said they were no longer going ahead with their planned September 2020 edition, which was a rescheduling of what should have been a May 2020 event.

According to the Barking & Dagenham Post, Simon Taylor - speaking on behalf of promoter Springmerch - told the Council: "The applicant has determined that the time has come where a decision about the event in September has to be made. Therefore yesterday we decided to cancel the event. It will not be taking place in September".

Dubbing current advice on live events from the UK government "contradictory and unhelpful", Taylor added: "Outdoor festivals can proceed but advice is against licensing authorities granting licences to hold such events".


Talib Kweli looks to Patreon to fund next album
Talib Kweli has announced that he is funding his next album through crowdfunding site Patreon. Fans who contribute $5-25 a month through his profile on the site will get a look into his creative process over the next year, and early previews of tracks that will appear on the finished record.

"I am considered an underground rapper", says Kweli. "My lyrics critique the status quo. On paper, I was not supposed to be a successful artist. I succeeded in spite of the odds because I was always able to go around the industry and connect with my fans directly. When the music industry told me 'no', I built an industry around myself".

"Working with Patreon is the next step in this evolution", he continues. "Patreon was created by artists for artists. I am proud to be born who I am, but my chosen tribe consists of artists and people who love art. Sharing my art on Patreon allows me to connect with my tribe in amazing and innovative ways".

Other perks for those who put in money are monthly Q&As with Kweli, signed vinyl and more. See his profile and the incentives on offer here.


Artist:Entrepreneur Day returns with special online edition
The Artist:Entrepreneur Day from the Featured Artists Coalition and CMU:DIY is returning thanks to support from Help Musicians. Taking place online on Saturday 1 Aug, artist entrepreneurs Emma McGann, Kimberly Anne and Roxanne de Bastion will each open up their respective artist businesses, explaining how they have built an audience, generated revenue and entered into business partnerships around their music.

This edition will be split into three sections, looking at how to protect and monetise songs and recordings, how to build and engage a fanbase online, and what role different business partners play in an artist's career. Each section will kick off with a short A:E Guide from CMU's Chris Cooke. The artist entrepreneurs will then talk through their experiences, before being joined by a team of industry experts offering timely insights and practical tips.

The middle section - 'Building And Connecting With A Fanbase' - will also look at the ways each of the host artists has been able to utilise and strengthen their respective direct-to-fan relationships during the COVID-19 lockdown. What platforms have they used, what projects have they pursued, and what did they learn along the way?

Thanks to the support from Help Musicians, tickets for this edition of the Artist:Entrepreneur Day will be free, allowing all early-career artists navigating the extra challenges caused by the COVID-19 shutdown to access ideas and advice aplenty, from their peers in the artist community, and from experts working across the wider music industry.

Details of the other speakers taking part will be announced next week. Meanwhile find out more about this edition of A:E Day and book your tickets here.


CMU Trends: Streaming Challenges
The latest CMU Trends ten step guide sets out the ten biggest challenges facing the streaming music market in 2020.

Coming ahead of the launch tomorrow of the Third Edition of the 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' book from MMF and CMU Insights, this guide offers a very timely summary of the key challenges in the streaming domain. Some are challenges for the platforms, some for record labels and music publishers, and some specifically for artists and songwriters.

Along the way the guide looks at how so few streaming platforms dominate the market, considers issues around price-point and where free services fit in, runs through the ongoing debates about how streaming money is shared out, and reviews how complex royalty chains, music data issues and a general lack of transparency hinders music-makers, and especially songwriters.

The guide talks through all this in ten easy steps. Premium CMU subscribers can access and download this guide - and loads of other guides too - via the CMU Library. Click here to read the guide and click here to go premium with CMU for just £5 a month.

Beabadoobee releases first single from debut album
Beabadoobee has announced that she will release her debut album, 'Fake It Flowers', through Dirty Hit later this year. She's also released its first single, 'Care'.

"This song has end-of-a-90s movie vibes, like you're driving down a highway", she says of the new track. "It is pretty much me being angry at society, or people around me who I just don't think know me and don't care. I don't want you to feel fucking sorry for me. I just want you to understand what I've been through".

"I never expected to be making the first video from my album during a pandemic", she adds. "I was so lucky to be locked down with the bedroom guys, it feels like it turned out as one of the most personal, real videos I've made. I'm so excited to share it".

There's no release date for the album yet, but you can watch the video for 'Care' here.



Warner Chappell has signed a worldwide publishing deal with one of Mexico's most successful groups, Bronco. "We're excited to have a partner like Warner Chappell, who we trust to amplify our music and our voices throughout the region and beyond", say the band. "We're ready to show more people across the world what Bronco and the regional Mexican genre is all about".



African music firm the Gresham Music Group has partnered with US rights organisations SESAC and The Harry Fox Agency, Swiss collecting society SUISA and the existing SESAC/SUISA joint venture Mint to launch Gresham Rights Management. It aims to represent songwriters and publishers in the digital domain in African markets to "unlock as much value for African and international rights holders as possible", says SESAC's Alexander Wolf.



Former major label execs Tasha Demi and Whitney Asomani have announced the launch of new marketing agency Twenty:Two. "My priorities are black music and culture and creating access into the field for less privileged individuals", says Asomani.



Lianne La Havas has shared the video for her cover of Radiohead's 'Weird Fishes'.

Rejjie Snow has teamed up with MF Doom and Cam O'bi for new track 'Cookie Chips'. "I love making music and creating moments", he says. "It feels good to bring out this song in such an unaccustomed time and begin this new chapter in a solid and happy place".

Moses Sumney has released new single 'Monumental'.

Idles have released new single 'A Hymn'. Frontman Joe Talbot says it's "a hymn that rejoices in the sinister flesh-eating virus of the pedestrian. It sings the tune of normal's teeth sinking into your neck as you sleep stood up with your eyes open. Amen".

Eivør has released the video for new single 'Sleep On It'. The song, she says, is "about making choices - it's like a late night flow of consciousness. Sometimes making a wrong choice might be the only way to eventually make the right one". Her new album, 'Segl', is out on 18 Sep.

Ho99o9 has released the video for new track 'Pigs Want Me Dead'.

Elkka has released two new tracks written while on lockdown: 'I. Miss. Raving.' and 'Bleep+'. Record label Local Action will release 10% of its profits from the release to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

Helena Deland is back with new single 'Lylz'. "It follows the promises of two people who share a dissatisfaction with the state of things, and so project themselves into a more interesting future full of adventure and recognition", she says.

Phiz has released new track 'Two Shots'.

Song Sung have released new single 'Take Some Time'.

Snoh Aalegra has released new single 'Dying 4 Your Love'.



Katy Perry has joined the line-up of the Tomorrowland Around The World virtual festival on 25/26 Jul. "I've always wanted to be a part of the fun of Tomorrowland, and have been following the amazing innovation, technology and invention that this festival has always been about for a long time", she says. "I'm so glad to be a part of this version, and I hope my set makes you smile".

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


Kanye West reportedly out of presidential race
Kanye West is out of the race to become President of the United States Of America. Pretty good going, considering it's less than two weeks since he announced that he was in it.

Election specialist Steve Kramer, who had seemingly been hired to fast-track West's campaign in Florida, told New York Magazine "he's out", adding that his company already had over 180 people working on the campaign at the point the plug was pulled.

Although the NY Mag article is newly published, it reveals that this exchange actually took place on 9 Jul, which means West was only actually in the race for five days. So any discussion you've had about it since then has been redundant. You totally wasted your time.

Assuming that it's definitely true that West isn't standing, of course. The same day as the NY Mag article going live, West posted a video on Twitter encouraging followers to register to vote - although not specifically for him.

West's late in the day decision to stand for President meant that he had missed the deadline to get on the ballot in many states. However, Florida's deadline is today. Seemingly that would have been the focus for his campaign.

In a national poll earlier this week, it was shown that only 2% of voters planned to vote for West. Although at the point the poll was published it appears he'd already pulled out anyway.

Back on the social networks, West's more recent tweets have shared a roster for a Kanye-centric streaming service, a song dedicated to his late mother and a chair he really likes. Mainly the chair.


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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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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