TODAY'S TOP STORY: Simon Cowell has restructured his partnership with Sony Music in a deal that will see him buy the major out of his TV business. However, Sony will retain ownership of the Syco Music catalogue and roster... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Simon Cowell buys Sony out of Syco television business, but major retains music assets
LEGAL Migos accuse their longtime lawyer of betrayal and incompetence, sue for millions
DEALS Mike Will Made-It returns to Warner Chappell
LIVE BUSINESS Live Nation cancels drive-in concert tour, blaming the possibility of local lockdowns
LiveFrom Media launches new app for secure ticketing and delivery of livestreams

RELEASES Tkay Maidza announces new EP on 4AD
ONE LINERS RedOne, The Wombats, Alice Levine, more
AND FINALLY... Kanye West's presidential bid back on - in Oklahoma, at least
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Simon Cowell buys Sony out of Syco television business, but major retains music assets
Simon Cowell has restructured his partnership with Sony Music in a deal that will see him buy the major out of his TV business. However, Sony will retain ownership of the Syco Music catalogue and roster.

Cowell came to Sony Music via the SonyBMG joint venture, he having scored a number of significant successes for the original BMG record company in the previous decade. As he morphed from talent show judge to talent show mogul, his interests in media and TV grew and the Syco business emerged.

Sony first bought Cowell's share of Syco Music and Syco Television in 2005, subsequently forming a joint venture with him in 2009 that encompassed the 'Got Talent' and 'X Factor' franchises, artists who came out of those series, and various other activities.

It turns out that Cowell had a buy-back option relating to the TV assets in his joint venture deal with Sony and that is what has been activated now. He will acquire Sony's rights in 'Got Talent' and 'X Factor', which will transfer to an entity called Syco Entertainment, wholly owned by Cowell. However, Sony will retain the music elements of Syco, including its catalogue of recordings and its current roster of artists, who will remain signed to Sony Music.

Confirming all this, Sony Music Group boss Rob Stringer said yesterday: "At this particular contractual crossroads, it was simply the right thing for Simon to take control of his TV assets and propel his company in a new direction. Sony Music has had incredible global success with so many artists that have been launched through Simon's vision and innovation and we are proud to continue to represent the Syco music catalogue and its artists. On a personal note, it has been an amazing adventure working with him as we have shared so many exciting pop culture moments as friends and partners".

Cowell himself added: "I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Rob and all of the Sony Music executives, artists and partners all over the world. It's been a unique partnership and Sony have always backed and supported me to create television formats. The shows we created have found so many amazing artists over the years and so many of the various Sony labels all over the world have enabled so many of those artists to fulfil their dreams. We have all shared some incredible achievements, and importantly we have had lots of fun".

"I won't say this was an easy decision to make", he went on. "However, sometimes you have to personally support something you are so passionate about. I've always believed it's important to take on new goals in order to drive new ideas and creativity, so I'm very excited to be taking an independent and creatively-led Syco Entertainment into the future".

Although the popularity of the kind of talent shows Syco excelled in has long since peaked, in some markets at least, Syco says that there are currently 76 local versions of the 'Got Talent' franchise, while 'X Factor' shows still air in more than 130 territories.


Migos accuse their longtime lawyer of betrayal and incompetence, sue for millions
Rap trio Migos have sued their longtime lawyer Damien Granderson who they accuse of charging excessive fees, failing to obtain written agreements, and failing to declare a conflict of interest - the latter because he also represents their label Quality Control Music

"This action arises out of that timeless tale about the world famous music group who was robbed out of and cheated out of millions of dollars by those individuals who the group hired to look out for it and its members' best interests", the lawsuit begins.

And if you thought that was a pretty bold opening, the second sentence declares: "Defendant Damien Granderson is the personification of a self-absorbed shyster lawyer who saw his clients as a mechanism to get rich by any means necessary, including at his clients' expense".

As for the conflict of interest allegations, the lawsuit goes on: "With greed on his mind, Granderson saw the trio as easy targets to coax into one-sided deals that benefited Granderson and Granderson's higher-priority client, Quality Control Music. Unbeknownst to Migos, Granderson's representation of QCM created an incurable conflict of interest and Granderson's primary loyalty was QCM, the upstart company that signed Migos to an exclusive recording contract in 2013".

Various other allegations of betrayal, incompetence and negligence then follow. Ultimately the group wants to get out of its ongoing commitments to Granderson and his current law firm, the return of past payments to the tune of millions, and some lovely punitive damages.

Given the bold statements that run throughout the group's legal filing, we await Granderson's response with interest.


Mike Will Made-It returns to Warner Chappell
Producer and songwriter Mike Will Made-It has signed a global publishing deal with Warner Chappell. The deal sees him return to the major after three years with Kobalt. He also has a publishing joint venture with Warner via his own Ear Drummer Entertainment company.

"Mike is one of the most talented and accomplished producer-songwriters of our time, with some of the biggest hip-hop and pop anthems of the past decade under his name", says Warner Chappell's US President Of A&R, Ryan Press. "From the creation of our joint venture with Ear Drummer Entertainment to the development of new talent, Mike's been a long-time business partner and close friend. I can't wait to see what we'll do together in his next chapter at Warner Chappell".

Mike Will adds: "I'm happy to work with Ryan Press and the rest of the Warner Chappell team. I believe that we've built one of the biggest joint ventures of our time, and we're just getting started. I created Ear Drummer by taking risks and treating everyone like family, and I recognise the importance of collaborating with like-minded people".

"Press and I have been in sync since 2012", he goes on. "He's prioritised building a team of music lovers first and foremost, which is so important to me. Warner Chappell understands what it takes to support and realise the dreams and ideas of songwriters and artists, and for these reasons, I'm so proud to combine our powerhouse teams".

As well as the Ear Drummer publishing company with Warner Chappell, Will also runs an Ear Drummer record label as an imprint of Universal's Interscope.


Live Nation cancels drive-in concert tour, blaming the possibility of local lockdowns
If you were looking forward to getting on board with the new new normal new normal normal new normal by checking out one of those drive-in concerts all the kids have been talking about, well bad luck. Live Nation has cancelled the entire drive-in tour it announced just two and a half weeks ago.

You're probably muttering something about how bad ticket sales must have been to yourself right now. Well, stop that. That's not the problem.

"We received huge support from artists, the live music production contractors, our headline sponsor Utilita, along with our other partners, and of course you, the fans", says Live Nation. "However, the latest developments regarding localised lockdowns mean it has become impossible for us to continue with the series with any confidence".

The issue, apparently, is that the UK government, having started to lift the national COVID-19 lockdown, is instead implementing local lockdowns at a moment's notice.

Currently, Leicester is the only city in the UK being quarantined in this way. Other lockdowns are more localised to places like individual farms and hospitals. However, there's a whole list of at-risk places where COVID-19 infections are on the rise and could therefore face a sudden new lockdown, as the government attempts to stave off the inevitable national 'second spike'.

Drive-in concerts have already been taking place in other countries, and some other drive-in style shows had also been announced in the UK, in particular on the comedy side, some of which have gone ahead. Some of these drive-in concerts pump the audio through each car's stereo system - ie in line with the classic drive-in movie experience - though that was not the plan for the Live Nation shows.

The idea there was that you'd pull your car up into an allotted spot in a field, set up a deckchair or two next to it at a safe distance from other people, and then enjoy "a full state of the art sound system, lighting rig and high definition LED screens, creating an arena or stadium concert feel". So that sounds like it would have been almost like a normal concert. Except, of course, that you would have been surrounded by cars and sporadic people sitting in deckchairs.

Each show was expected to accommodate around 300 cars, meaning a maximum of 2100 people could attend. So that was quite a big set-up for a relatively small crowd, and possibly the economics only really works at scale. Therefore the prospect of just a handful of the planned shows having to be cancelled due to local lockdowns possibly made the whole thing unviable.

Artists who had signed up to play these experimental shows included The Streets, Ash, Gary Numan, Skindred, Beverley Knight and Dizzee Rascal.


LiveFrom Media launches new app for secure ticketing and delivery of livestreams
LiveFrom Media - a company that produces, promotes, aggregates and sells tickets for livestreaming events - has launched a new app that will facilitate the ticketing and delivery of livestreamed shows to mobile.

The app allows artists and promoters to sell access to and deliver livestreams, with the in-app ticket becoming the livestream itself once the show beings. It can also sell tickets to real-world events, with the option to add pre-event multimedia content and other messaging within the digital ticket. Secure ticket delivery via the app is powered by technology from FanDragon, another company created by LiveFrom Media's founders.

One of those founders, Steve Machin, says that, as the demand for livestreaming boomed at the start of the COVID-19 shutdown, "we instinctively recognised the live industry was going to quickly need a simple, yet secure, solution for monetising and delivering high quality streams beyond free-to-air channels. We are building a new suite of streaming commerce tools that unlock a whole new category of monetisation that we are calling stream-commerce".

Co-founder Alan Rakov adds that the company believes the recent boom in livestreaming has changed the direct-to-fan relationship for good, and that activity of this kind will remain important even once the COVID-19 shutdown is over.

"We think new content opportunities and formats are emerging, and with them new stream-commerce opportunities", he adds. "The ability to deliver access to a stream and/or an 'in real life' event through the same platform creates a whole new world of fan engagement for artists. We're looking forward to bringing together a diverse group of partnerships and individual talents to fully realise the opportunity ahead of us".


Approved: Sen Morimoto
Sen Morimoto has announced that he will release his eponymous new album - the follow-up to 2018's 'Cannonball!' - this autumn.

"Thematically, the album explores self-examination - the way reality breaks the distortion of subjective experience", says Morimoto. "Focusing on minutia, the album highlights the ways that our learned habits, such as shameful desires and righteous ideals, are inherited by everyday motions of modern American life".

"The grotesque and ignored emerging in dreams, begin to inform a cruel reality", he goes on. "Touring through a world on a wire, my dreams, in harrowing vibrant colour, began to cross the threshold into my waking life. My self-titled album comes as a statement from somewhere in between those two worlds".

The record features a whole load of fellow Chicago indie musicians - Lala Lala, Nnamdï, Kiana, Joseph Chilliams and Qari - as well as US National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson and Japanese electronic musician Aaamyyy.

For first single 'Woof' though, he sets the scene for the album alone. Not just in that it features no guests, the track also muses on loneliness and depression. Lyrics on the genre-jumping track switch between calm and measured and an overwhelming stream of consciousness.

The album is out through Sooper Records on 23 Oct. Watch the video for 'Woof' here.

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

Tkay Maidza announces new EP on 4AD
Tkay Maidza has announced that she will release new EP 'Last Year Was Weird Vol 2' next month - her first for 4AD. As well as announcing the EP, she has also released new single 'Don't Call Again'.

That new track "is the conversation I wish I could have had in my relationships over the past few years - both romantic and non-romantic", she says. "Standing up for yourself can be tough when you're so close to something. When we completed the track, I always felt Kari would be perfect for it because she keeps it so real when she's talking relationships. Glad we got to do a track together mid pandemic".

Oh yes, I should have mentioned that the track features Kari Faux. It follows last year's Jpegmafia collaboration 'Awake', which will also feature on the new EP.

Watch the video for 'Don't Call Again' here.



The good old Hipgnosis Songs Fund has acquired the songs and recordings catalogues of RedOne, who has worked with artists including Lady Gaga, One Direction, Shakira and Nicki Minaj. "We are delighted to welcome RedOne to the Hipgnosis family with these incredible songs that are amongst the most important of the millennium", says Hipgnosis boss Merck Mercuriadis.

Kobalt's AWAL has extended its record deal with The Wombats. "I'm really happy to have AWAL back onboard for album five", says frontman Matthew Murphy. "Their support and passion towards this band over the last three years has been second to none".



Universal Music's Geffen Records in the US has appointed Nicole Bilzerian to the newly-created role of Executive Vice President. She has worked in marketing at the company since 2013. "I look forward to expanding marketing operations at Geffen", she says.



Alice Levine has announced that she is leaving BBC Radio 1 after just shy of a decade. She says she's "had a dead nice time and hopefully said some things that have made you laugh". Her next move has not been announced, but she does already co-host globally successful podcast 'My Dad Wrote A Porno'.



Set to release a new EP later this summer, Troye Sivan has released new single 'Easy'. The EP, 'In A Dream', is due out on 21 Aug. "A story that's still unfolding, this small collection of songs explores an emotional rollercoaster period in my life when the feelings and thoughts were most shockingly fresh", he says.

Aluna has released new single 'Get Paid', featuring Princess Nokia and Jada Kingdom. The song, she says, "is an aspirational celebration about black women and women of colour getting paid, in opposition of the reality that we are consistently undervalued for our work". Her debut solo album, 'Renaissance', is out through Mad Decent on 21 Aug.

Fran Healy has released new single 'Valentine'.

They have had a play fight with Tinashie. Well, they've released a song called 'Play Fight', anyway.

Health and Full Of Hell have come together to release new track 'Full Of Health'.

This Friday, Illuminati Hotties will release new mixtape 'Free IH'. From it, this is the brilliant, if short, 'Will I Get Cancelled If I Write A Song Called, 'If You Were A Man You'd Be So Cancelled'?'

Wuh Oh has released new single 'Softstyle'. He describes it as "the track blasting from the speakers of an underground club in a not-too-distant cyberpunk future".

Izzy Warner has released her debut single 'Brand New', a cover of which features in Will Ferrell's Eurovision movie. "Everyone has been expressing so much love for the song in the movie, so it made sense to put this track out first ahead of my debut EP", she says.

Kiko Bun has released new single 'Bad Boy Tenor'.

LA Witch have released new single 'Gen Z'. The band's Sade Sanchez explains: "'Gen-Z' is inspired by a series of articles mentioning the high rates of suicide amongst the Gen-Z due to the pressures of social media. At the same time I read about several music companies not doing well due to lack of interest in people to learn to play instruments. When I was a kid, music and guitar was my escape. Music was how I fought through my depressions. What will the future do to get through it?'

Amaarae has released new single 'Leave Me Alone'.

Fizzler has released new track 'Relationships'.

Govales has released new single 'Broken System Killer'. Speaking about the track, he says: "Yes I am a black man, but this song is not about race - this song is about class. The war on the 99%".

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


Kanye West's presidential bid back on - in Oklahoma, at least
Kanye West's bid to become US President is back on! After it was reported that he'd given up on plans to stand in this year's presidential election in Florida, he's now on the ballot in Oklahoma. He's paid the fee and everything.

The Oklahoma Board Of Elections has confirmed that West had paid the necessary $35,000 to get his name on the list of candidates just before yesterday's deadline. This follows a report by TMZ yesterday that West had also filed a 'statement of organisation' with the Federal Election Commission, officially registering him as the standing candidate for his Birthday Party.

The rapper's late in the day announcement that he plans to stand in November's election means that he's already missed the deadline to appear on the ballot in several US states. Then earlier this week it was reported that he had ditched efforts to get on the ballot in Florida just a few days after his 4 Jul announcement that he was running.

It remains to be seen if he gets his name on the voting slips in any other states. Even if he does, if voters nationwide are not able to vote for him, he'll not be a serious contender in the race for the White House between Joe Biden and that other guy. Not that it ever looked like he was a serious contender anyway - a poll last week showing that he currently only has the backing of 2% of voters.

Having his name on at least one ballot paper does perhaps legitimise his political goals, however. Maybe it'll make people more accepting of the idea of him running in a more full-on way at the next election in 2024.

Though, if he's only going to run in one state, maybe he should have just gone the more traditional route of pursuing politics within one specific state legislature so to get the experience and credibility to seek leadership at a US-wide level. Although, as we saw in the last election, many Americans aren't really bothered about that sort of thing.

And a bombastic if futile bid for the top job probably sells more records.


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 and CMU Pathways consultancy units 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 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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