TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Music Managers Forum in the UK yesterday published the Third Edition of 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar', the book that brings together the five years of research that MMF has undertaken with CMU Insights to help music managers understand the inner workings of the streaming music business... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES MMF launches Third Edition of Dissecting The Digital Dollar
Dissecting The Digital Dollar: Five Years On

LEGAL Quality Control Music boss responds to Migos lawsuit
LIVE BUSINESS Four UK music venues go out of business, with fears that this is the tip of the iceberg
ARTIST NEWS Charli XCX announces lockdown album documentary
RELEASES Shamir announces new album, releases new single
GIGS & FESTIVALS Sophie Ellis-Bextor announces Kitchen Disco Tour
ONE LINERS Sony/ATV, Skin, DJ Khaled & Drake, more
AND FINALLY... Logic announces retirement to focus on parenting
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MMF launches Third Edition of Dissecting The Digital Dollar
The Music Managers Forum in the UK yesterday published the Third Edition of 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar', the book that brings together the five years of research that MMF has undertaken with CMU Insights to help music managers understand the inner workings of the streaming music business.

The new version of the book includes an updated version of the original 'Digital Dollar' report, which not only explains the streaming music business model, but also the copyright law, music industry conventions and collective licensing systems that you need to understand for the model to make sense. Updates take into account all the latest market trends, plus key copyright law reforms like the EU Copyright Directive and the US Music Modernization Act.

It also summarises the series of roundtable debates that the MMF staged as part of the 'Digital Dollar' project involving artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, lawyers, accountants and managers, and subsequent discussions involving the MMF's board and custodians. Again, the book brings the topics discussed bang up to date and includes more on those areas that have become a much bigger talking point of late, such as the user-centric royalty distribution conversation.

In more recent years the 'Digital Dollar' project has put the spotlight on some other specific aspects of the modern digital music industry, including label deals, transparency, fan data and song royalties. The guides that have been published on each of those topics are included as appendices in the book.

Launching the Third Edition yesterday, MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick said: "The devastating impact of COVID-19 has understandably re-focused attention on the streaming business, and means the MMF's 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' project is more pertinent than ever".

"Since we started this work five years ago, streaming income has become increasingly important to artists and it is absolutely crucial that managers have the information to make the right commercial decisions. While we have seen much progress, there are certain orthodoxies in this market that must continue to be challenged. MMF remains committed to advocating for changes and ensuring the system delivers efficiently and effectively for music makers".

Alongside the launch, members of the MMF board and custodians council also explained why they feel the 'Digital Dollar' project has been so important for a management community that is having to navigate a constantly evolved and often complex streaming music business.

"The streaming ecosystem can often feel impenetrable in its complexity", Lisa Ward from Red Light Management noted. "But 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' offers an easy-to-read step-by-step guide to navigate how licensing works and where revenues flow. The book also highlights many of the dysfunctions in this market that are long overdue reform, particularly the often arcane distribution of songwriter royalties".

Meanwhile, Tim Clark from ie:music added: "The MMF's 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' project has been running a full five years and remains the most comprehensive overview of the streaming market and the place of artists and music-makers within it. As well as helping managers be informed to make better deals so their artists can benefit from fair shares of streaming income, it also outlines key areas where reforms are urgently needed. It is my most thumbed work of reference!"

At the start of an online launch event yesterday afternoon, CMU's Chris Cooke - author of the book - set out five key changes and challenges that we have seen in the last five years, or will see in the next five. A summary of that presentation is below.

You can buy the Third Edition of 'Digital Dollar' from Amazon here.


Dissecting The Digital Dollar: Five Years On
Here is a quick summary of the presentation CMU's Chris Cooke gave at the start of the launch of the new 'Dissecting The Digital Dollar' book yesterday, setting our five key changes and challenges that we have seen, or will see, in the world of music streaming.

1. Understanding the streaming business is more important than ever
Streaming now accounts for more than half of all recorded music revenues worldwide, making it more important than ever that artists, songwriters and their managers fully understand how the streaming business works. New kinds of services are also gaining momentum, especially in emerging markets. This means understanding the streaming business is a constant learning experience.

2. A revolution in music distribution means more choice and more competition
Artists now have much more choice when picking partners to distribute and market their recordings. And every music-maker can now access basic distribution, sometimes for free, which is brilliant, but has also resulted in unprecedented amounts of recorded music going live each week. Managers need to understand which approaches work best for each artist, and what kind of marketing activity ensures releases stand out among all the noise.

3. Getting songwriters paid remains a challenge
The streaming business is at its most complex when it comes to songwriter royalties. The Music Modernization Act will hopefully address some US-specific issues in this domain, but there are plenty of other issues to be addressed too. Managers need to understand these complexities, how monies flow down different 'royalty chains', and support those publishers and collecting societies who are genuinely focused on finding solutions.

4. Transparency is still an issue
The lack of transparency in the streaming business has come up again and again throughout the Digital Dollar project. Some progress has been made when it comes to the Spotify-style business model, but new secretive deals with YouTube, Facebook and TikTok have posed a whole load more questions. Managers need to keep identifying the key questions that need to be asked of their clients' business partners – and to keep on asking them!

5. New business models will drive growth in the next five years
In the years ahead it seems likely that alternative streaming business models – user-generated content, livestreaming, karaoke, podcasts, maybe a social-streaming hybrid - are going to become drivers of growth. These create great opportunities, but they also create new challenges. Managers need to be constantly looking to the future and considering how the big issues of today will evolve as the market diversifies and matures.


Quality Control Music boss responds to Migos lawsuit
The boss of Quality Control Music, Pierre 'Pee' Thomas, has responded to the lawsuit filed this week by the flagship act of his label's roster, Migos. The rap trio aren't actually suing Thomas, rather their long-time lawyer Damien Granderson, though a key complaint is his alleged conflict of interest by repping both the group and the label at the same time.

The legal filing made by Migos was pretty forthright. The group had been "robbed" and "cheated" out of millions by their attorney, it said. And Granderson, it went on, was "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".

While on the conflict of interest allegation, it said: "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".

So, although neither Thomas nor his label are defendants in the case, QCM does not come across as great company in the legal complaint. Which is possibly why Thomas felt the need to respond via a since deleted Instagram post.

He began by noting the unfortunate timing of the lawsuit, coming just days after another QCM artist, Lil Marlo, was shot dead in what police believe was a "targeted attack".

Thomas wrote: "It is unfortunate that the same people that we have worked hard for, provided opportunities for, and championed for, are now alleging that we have participated in any kind of immoral or unfair business practices or took advantage of them and their careers, especially while we are dealing with the death of an artist on our label that was dear to us".

Despite how the Migos lawsuit portrays their business relationship with QCM, Thomas insisted: "We have always practiced honest business and complete transparency from the beginning when we started Quality Control Music. We built this business on family values, which has been so hard to do when you are dealing with so much pride and ego".

Calling the claims now being made against him and his company "nonsense", he went on: "I will not stand by and let Quality Control Music's reputation and everything we have built and sacrificed be tarnished by allegations of unfair and unjust business practices".

"I am a student of this game and I have watched several black record label owners get destroyed by the same things that I am facing right now", he continued. "This is why [the] majority of the people in this business end up in financial turmoil and ultimately failing to reach their full potential. It is hard enough to be fighting and battling with corporations and the powers that be, I am not doing it with those who I consider family"

He concluded: "I love my artists and I love my team. Everyone has their own lawyers. I understand in this business that you are not always going to end with the people you started with. I say that to say, I am not forcing anybody to be in business with us that has a problem and cannot communicate and does not want to work as a unit. Everything is negotiable. I wish my whole team more money, more blessings and continued success".

We still await a response from Granderson, the actual defendant in the Migos lawsuit.


Four UK music venues go out of business, with fears that this is the tip of the iceberg
After months of warnings that grassroots music venues needed urgent support to keep them in business through the COVID-19 shutdown, four went under yesterday - the Deaf Institute and Gorilla in Manchester, and The Welly and The Polar Bear in Hull.

The hospitality company that runs the two Manchester music venues, Mission Mars, announced that it had made the decision to shut them down.

"The Deaf Institute and Gorilla have been at the forefront of the music scene in Manchester for many years and it is with great sadness that we announce that [they] will not be re-opening", Mission Mars CEO Roy Ellis told the Manchester Evening News. "This difficult decision has been made against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the enforced closure of all of our sites and with continued restrictions upon opening of live music venues".

"We appreciate that these music destinations are well-loved and have provided an early stage for many acts in the North West and are therefore well known in the world of music", he added. "We would encourage any industry and music entrepreneurs who might be interested in this as an opportunity to please get in touch. We are extremely grateful to our hardworking teams and guests and followers for their loyal support over years".

Meanwhile, the Hull closures come as a result of two of the six businesses owned by venue operator VMS Live - VMS Live (2011) Ltd and VMS Live (Venues) Ltd - going into administration, as a result of lacking "financial buffers capable of resisting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic". As well as the venues, the Hull Box Office ticketing business is also set to close.

VMS Live CEO Bert Van Horck said in a statement: "I am deeply saddened that we had to make this decision, following the completion of the yearly accounts, the announcements of the government and the bank reconciliation, which lead us to be at immediate risk of trading while insolvent".

While it is hoped that all four venues could as yet be saved by other people or companies stepping in to take them over, doing so would be very risky just now. Meanwhile, it is very likely that these four will not be the last music venues to face closure in this way.

The Music Venue Trust warned in June that hundreds of venues would likely close without immediate government support. Of course, earlier this month the government did announce a £1.57 billion support package for the creative and cultural sectors and - in no small part because of prolific campaigning by the likes of the MVT - it was confirmed music venues would be among the beneficiaries of that package.

However, there remain plenty of questions over who exactly will get that money and how quickly. And, even where venues are saved, whether other people and companies in the supply chain on which the venues rely will also get the support they need to stay in business.

Even if the government manages to distribute much-needed funds to struggling venues and related music businesses in time, there is still little clarity on how long venues will have to remain closed.

Open-air events may have been given the go ahead again in England, though social distancing issues and the risk of future localised lockdowns impact on the viability of such shows. Meanwhile, we will see how a number of pilots of indoor shows go. Either way, the longer shutdown runs for, the more likely it is that a second round of financial support would be necessary.

In a statement yesterday, the Music Venue Trust said: "We have been warning for months that the situation faced by grassroots music venues was unsustainable and would result in the closure of spaces that people love and artists need unless there was concerted strategic action. That action must now be accelerated to prevent hundreds of other venues from being lost right across the country".


The Artist:Entrepreneur Day from FAC and CMU:DIY heads online
Tickets are now available for the next edition of the Artist:Entrepreneur Day from the FAC and CMU:DIY. Made possible by support from Help Musicians, this will be a free edition taking place via Zoom on Saturday 1 Aug.

The day will be hosted by artist-entrepreneurs Emma McGann, Kimberly Anne and Roxanne de Bastion, who will each let you inside their individual artist businesses. Along the way they'll each dissect one of their tracks to help explain how music rights work; they'll discuss the platforms they have been using to engage their fanbase online, especially during the COVID-19 shutdown; and they'll talk through the business partners they currently work with.

They will be joined by CMU's Chris Cooke - who will present three A:E Guides, on music rights, direct-to-fan and the music industry - plus a team of music business experts who will provide insights, ideas and lots of practical advice.

It all takes place from 1pm - 5.30pm on Saturday 1 Aug. Click here for more information on the day. And then click here to reserve your free ticket.

Charli XCX announces lockdown album documentary
Charli XCX has announced a documentary film following the creation of her lockdown album 'How I'm Feeling Now', titled '6ft Apart'.

The album, announced in April, was created and released in five weeks, at a point when it felt like that might be about as long as we'd all have to stay isolated. As she worked remotely with collaborators, she shared the process with fans and got feedback on tracks as she wrote them.

"It felt only natural to document myself making this album", she says of the film. "I don't think I've ever made music in such a unique situation: being so logistically far apart from my collaborators, but going through exactly the same thing, writing songs about my relationship with my boyfriend sitting in the next room, and being so connected to my fans in such an intense and creative way, it felt quite overwhelming and heartwarming all at the same time. So I wanted to film it all".

She adds: "Why not add to the pressure of making an extremely personal album within a five week timeline by putting a load of cameras in my face and zooming in on my personality and insecurities too? You know?"

The film - produced by Charli XCX with Snoot Entertainment and Dangerous Baby Productions, and directed by music video directors Bradley&Pablo - is currently in post-production and does not yet have a release date. Why put the pressure of a release date on yourself unnecessarily on top of everything else?


Shamir announces new album, releases new single
Shamir has announced that he will release his seventh album in October - his first LP since, er, March.

Despite being his third album in eighteen months, this one, he reckons, is something of a breakthrough. "I felt like it didn't need a name, cos it's the record that's most me", he says.

Of course, they - by which I mean the powers that be - they make you pick names for these things, otherwise it plays havoc with the databases. So if you look this album up once it's out, it'll be called 'Shamir'. Which means that, yes, that quote and this follow-on paragraph are a slightly long-winded way of saying, this will be an eponymously titled record.

Anyway, he's just released a new single to go with the news of the album, called 'I Wonder'. "The song is about the feeling of love taking over your heart, even when you don't want it to", he says. "It also alludes to climate change and how humans - 'love' - can be the most toxic thing to the planet - 'the heart' - but also the only thing that can fix it".

The album is out on 2 Oct. Listen to 'I Wonder' here.


Sophie Ellis-Bextor announces Kitchen Disco Tour
Sophie Ellis-Bextor has announced an album and tour based on her Instagram Live 'kitchen disco' sessions during lockdown. So everyone can stop asking how you make money off livestreams on Instagram now.

"During lockdown, our family kitchen discos became a precious time where we could all bop about and be a bit silly. It made me feel connected to everyone who joined us and I can honestly say the music was a real tonic which brought sparkly joy to my soul every Friday", she says.

"The discos we shared have inspired me and now I want to see all your faces so I can sing for you", she goes on. "I want to give everyone a night where, just for a little while, we can all lose ourselves under the mirror ball and dance and have fun. Won't that feel magical?! I cannot wait!"

Both the album and the tour will bring together all of Ellis-Bextor's more disco-leaning tracks, as well as other people's songs that featured in her kitchen disco sessions.

The album, 'Songs From The Kitchen Disco', will be out on 23 Oct, with the tour probably taking place in May next year. You know, providing the more doomy and gloomy of the doom and gloomsters are wrong with their "shutdown for years" predictions.

Tickets are on sale now. Here are the dates:

7 May: Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall 
9 May: Birmingham Symphony Hall 
10 May: Southend, Cliff Pavilion 
13 May: London Palladium 
15 May: Bexhill On Sea, De La Warr Pavilion 
17 May: Guildford, G Live 
18 May: Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
19 May: Leeds, Town Hall



Sony/ATV has signed songwriter Claudia Brant, who has worked with artists including Camila Cabello, Luis Fonsi and Ricky Martin. "With over two thousand songs recorded, multiple awards and 30 years of my life dedicated to songwriting, it's clear to me now that Sony/ATV is where I belong", she says.

Sony/ATV has also signed TikTok sensation Ir Sais. "Coming from a small Island in the Dutch Caribbean, Bonaire, he has captured fans with his incredible, authentic sound", says Niels Walboomers, Managing Director of Sony/ATV Benelux. "We are THRILLED to join Ir Sais as he makes his native language, Papiamento, heard all over the globe. Papiamento pal Mundo, Ir Sais for the world!"



Skunk Anansie frontwoman Skin is set to publish her autobiography - titled 'It Takes Blood And Guts' - on 24 Sep.



You know the old cliche, you wait all day for a DJ Khaled track featuring Drake, then two come along at once. This very morning, 'Greece' and 'Popstar' arrived, both being just that. Khaled has also announced that he will release his twelfth studio album, 'Khaled Khaled', this year.

The Killers have announced that their new album, 'Imploding The Mirage', will be out on 21 Aug. Plus, as a little extra treat, here's the 'My Own Soul's Warning' video.

Anne-Marie and Doja Cat have released a track together, 'To Be Young'.

Tinashe has released new track 'Rascal (Superstar)'.

Devendra Banhart has released 'It's Not Always Funny', the third track to be taken from his new EP 'Vast Ovoid', which is out next week.

Matmos have released new track 'The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises In Group Form'. Their new album, 'No Concept', is out on 21 Aug.

Were you wondering recently what happened to Elliphant? Well, I was. And, hey, she's just put a new song out this very morning. It's called 'Uterus' and is her first solo track for four years, with more to come before this year is out.

Benee has released new single 'Night Garden', featuring Kenny Beats and Bakar. "It was awesome working with [Kenny Beats], he was so fast making the beat that it was also probably the fastest I have ever had to write a song", she says. Plus, Bakar "has the coolest voice, so I felt it would be sick to have him on it".

UK drill pioneer Stickz has released new track 'Sarious'.

Dutchavelli has released new track 'Black'.

Awich has released new single 'Shook Shook', the first to be taken from new EP 'Partition', out through Universal on 21 Aug.

Scandal have released new single 'Spice'.

0171 have released new single 'Photograph'. "'Photograph' is inspired by looking at a photo of an ex", says the duo's Joe Bedell-Brill. "A photo that records a moment when everything seemed perfect, but now it's a lie, and it makes you feel strange, like you can't really remember who you were in that photo, when you loved that person. Like a life that never happened".

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


Logic announces retirement to focus on parenting
Rapper Logic has announced that he is retiring in order to focus on parenting full time. Which is both admirable and a novel twist on the 'rappers retiring' trope.

Of course, 'retirement' for a rapper normally means that they have a new record coming out soon. Logic is getting that out of the way now though, announcing that his new album - 'No Pressure' - will be out next Friday. The title is a reference to his debut album 'Under Pressure'. So that rounds things up nicely, ready for his music career to come to an end.

"Officially announcing my retirement with the release of 'No Pressure' executive produced by No ID, 24 Jul", he wrote in a tweet. "It's been a great decade. Now it's time to be a great father".

Logic became a father earlier this year. It's not clear how long he's been planning this farewell. Of course, there comes a point in your parenting career when kids go to school and you suddenly find yourself with a bit more time in your day. So maybe he'll be back at some point.

Who knows, maybe in two or three years he'll crack and we'll get a concept album about how potty training is bullshit. I'd listen to that. Fuck potty training.


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.
[email protected] (except press releases, see below)
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.
[email protected] (except press releases, see below)
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.
[email protected] or call 020 7099 9060
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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