TODAY'S TOP STORY: Microsoft has announced that it is no longer in the running to acquire the TikTok business in the US. It's thought that the video-sharing app's Chinese owner Bytedance will instead do a deal with a consortium led by another American technology firm, Oracle, which may or may not placate TikTok's critics in Washington, most importantly of all President Donald Trump... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Microsoft out of the running to buy TikTok US
LEGAL TI fined $75,000 for promoting dodgy ICO for a "Netflix on the blockchain"
MARKETING & PR Byta launches BETA programme
MEDIA TuneIn starts restricting international stations in the UK after major labels' legal win
INDUSTRY PEOPLE UK Music confirms new CEO
ARTIST NEWS Toots Hibbert dies
ONE LINERS Tion Wayne, Motown UK, James Blake, more
AND FINALLY... Sia says some of her songs are "shit", but that's OK
Check out all the latest job opportunities with CMU Jobs. To advertise your job opportunities here email [email protected] or call 020 7099 9060.
RightsApp - part of the Sentric Music Group - is transforming the traditional models for royalty collection and accounting. This new role will be accountable for the creation and management of a high quality implementation programme for RightsApp as well as supporting clients thereafter.

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Anjunabeats is seeking and A&R and Recordings Manager to work directly with key talent as they develop as artists, with an appreciation of what it takes to be a global act in 2020.

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Anjunabeats is seeking an experienced, meticulous and solutions-oriented individual to bolster our digital supply chain and rights management capabilities.

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EmuBands currently has an opportunity for a detail-oriented, focussed individual to join the company as a Content Assistant. You'll perform a wide range of administrative tasks relating to digital music assets and metadata, helping to ensure that releases are delivered quickly and accurately to stores.

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Music and entertainment law firm SSB is is seeking a full-time solicitor admitted in England and Wales with two to five years PQE to join its dynamic team in West London.

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The Believe-owned Nuclear Blast label is looking for maternity cover for a year, commencing in August 2020. The Digital Strategist's role will focus on all digital aspects of an artist and product release - balancing both creative and commercial objectives through the setting and achieving of campaign-specific objectives and results.

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3tone Records is looking for an inhouse publicist to join us, working closely with our Marketing, A&R and Publishing departments to provide inventive and dynamic campaigns spanning online and print media, enhancing and furthering the aims of our artists and the label itself.

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To aid in the expansion of its growing roster of artists and brands, Material is seeking an exceptional, results-focused marketing individual to power the business forward and deliver for its artists.

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Markets like China, India, Russia, South Korea and Brazil have played a key role in the revival of the record industry's fortunes, while markets in Africa are set to become increasingly important in the years ahead. Which services and what models dominate in these countries?
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We all know playlists drive a lot of plays on the streaming services, with playlister pitching now a key part of any music marketing campaign. But how do streaming service playlists work? And how is the evolution of playlist curation impacting on the future of music marketing?
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Microsoft out of the running to buy TikTok US
Microsoft has announced that it is no longer in the running to acquire the TikTok business in the US. It's thought that the video-sharing app's Chinese owner Bytedance will instead do a deal with a consortium led by another American technology firm, Oracle, which may or may not placate TikTok's critics in Washington, most importantly of all President Donald Trump.

According to sources, the Oracle-led consortium will not acquire TikTok US outright, but instead become a technology partner of Bytedance, controlling all the user-data of the app's American users.

It's not clear whether that will be sufficient to allay the concerns expressed by American politicians regarding the access the Chinese government may or may not have to TikTok's global userbase and data. Nor, more importantly, whether it will persuade Trump to cancel the executive order that bans Americans from transacting with Bytedance, in theory from tomorrow.

Microsoft had been linked to a purchase of the TikTok business in the US and elsewhere even before Trump's executive order was issued, as the political controversy over the app and its Chinese owner started to gain momentum in various countries.

Once the executive order was out there and a deadline had been set for something significant to happen regarding TikTok in the US, the recently appointed global boss of the app, former Disney exec Kevin Mayer, announced he was quitting.

The assumption was that moves to placate the American government would result in the TikTok global business being sliced up, so that its America-based chief would no longer be in charge of the app's America-based operations, hence his decision to stand down.

Quite what TikTok US will look like if and when the Oracle deal goes through remains unclear. It was already rumoured that any deal in the US would not include a sale of the algorithm that drives the TikTok experience, a recent change to export rules in China having added extra complications if that key technology was to be sold to a foreign entity.

The Oracle arrangement will likely be more palatable to the Chinese government. However, the big question remains as to whether what is currently being proposed ticks the required boxes in Washington, assuming Bytedance would rather not have to rely too much on its legal action against Trump's executive order.

On one level, the proposed Oracle partnership doesn't seem as radical as what Team Trump implied they would like to see happen. But on another level, Oracle chief Larry Ellison is one of the technology sector's few high profile Trump supporters, which could well be enough to get the required approval from the President.

Confirming it was now out of the running to acquire TikTok US, Microsoft said a statement yesterday: "ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft. We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests".

"To do this", it went on, "we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement. We look forward to seeing how the service evolves in these important areas".

According to Reuters, supermarket giant Walmart, which had ultimately become part of the Microsoft bid for TikTok, is still manoeuvring to get a stake in the app's American business through a separate deal.

The latest dramas in the US come as TikTok announces it now has more than 100 million active monthly users in Europe alone.

That stats brag was accompanied by a statement on how significant the app's on-the-ground presence in Europe itself now is in terms of its workforce and - perhaps most importantly in the context of all the political hoo haa - that it now has a Europe-specific Trust And Safety Hub and data privacy team based in Ireland.


TI fined $75,000 for promoting dodgy ICO for a "Netflix on the blockchain"
Rapper TI was fined $75,000 last week by the US Securities And Exchange Commission for his role in a venture called Flik, finance for which was raised by one of those Initial Coin Offering schemes where so called Flik tokens were sold.

The US regulator said that TI - real name Clifford Harris - broke the law when he promoted and sold the now worthless Flik tokens via his social media accounts. In particular, the rapper falsely claimed to be a co-owner of Flik.

The SEC added that it had pursued action against a total of five people in relation to the rule-breaking that occurred during the Flik ICO, four of whom - including Harris - have now agreed to settle.

Legal action continues against the fifth man, film producer Ryan Felton, who billed Flik as "Netflix on the blockchain", claiming that he was going to launch a platform where people would access streaming media paid for with those pesky Flik tokens.

Some might argue that anyone who invested in a company employing a trendy ICO to raise money for a streaming service to be built on the fucking blockchain possibly deserved to lose all their cash, but regulations designed to protect investors still need to be followed.

A legal rep for Harris insisted that the rapper didn't make any money himself out of his involvement in the Flik project, basically saying that his client had also been duped by Felton. Harris, his lawyer said, “believed [Felton] to be a local entrepreneur trying to make it easier for new artists to enter the music industry".


Byta launches BETA programme
Pre-release music sharing platform Byta last week officially unveiled a new programme called BETA which will see artists, producers, managers, PRs and small labels getting free access to the company's platform in return for providing feedback.

The company says that the BETA programme - or the Byta Experience Testing Account programme if you prefer - will see "participants use Byta's platform as part of their daily routine, providing feedback along the way". Those involved in the programme will also get priority access to new features in return for testing and feeding back on said new tools.

The firm adds that anyone actively involved in creating or working on new music releases is welcome to apply to take part in the programme, adding that its platform "can be used by anyone from bedroom artists to global record companies".

Full info about the programme is here.


TuneIn starts restricting international stations in the UK after major labels' legal win
Radio station aggregator TuneIn started blocking international stations on its app in the UK last week, in response to the legal action pursued by Sony Music and Warner Music.

The UK divisions of the two majors sued TuneIn arguing that when radio stations were accessed via its app a separate music licence was required, even if the radio station itself was properly licensed. Because TuneIn didn't have any music licences itself it was therefore liable for copyright infringement.

TuneIn countered that it was just a sophisticated audio-centric search engine that connected people to a radio station's own stream and therefore it wasn't itself involved in any communication to the public of any music, therefore it didn't need licences.

In something of a mixed bag ruling, the high court said that UK radio stations accessed via the TuneIn app were covered by those stations music licences from record industry collecting society PPL.

However, non-UK based radio stations were not licensed to webcast music within the UK, even if those stations had music licences covering their respective home countries. And therefore both TuneIn and those international stations could be liable for copyright infringement if - by being featuring in the TuneIn UK app - they were specifically targeting UK listeners.

An appeal of that ruling was given the go ahead late last year, but nevertheless late last week TuneIn started blocking most international stations on its UK app.

When users inevitably took to Twitter to complain, the app's social media team responded that "due to licensing issues, we have had to restrict content out of the UK - we apologise for the inconvenience".

Or, in some cases they more specifically referenced the legal battle with the labels, stating: "Due to a court ruling in the United Kingdom, we will be restricting international stations to prohibit their availability in the UK, with limited exceptions. We apologise for the inconvenience".

Last year TuneIn was keen to claim a victory in the Sony/Warner litigation, insisting that its primary UK service was providing access for UK users to UK radio stations, and that the court had said that could continue without any new music licences being required.

However, to what extent that is true remains to be seen. Given not all BBC stations are currently available via TuneIn because of a dispute with the Corporation over user-data, it has to be said that the TuneIn experience in the UK is now much less compelling.


UK Music confirms new CEO
UK Music - the UK music industry's trade body of trade bodies and united voice in Westminster and Whitehall - has appointed a new CEO in the form of Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, a former political advisor allied to the Conservative Party. He will formally join the trade organisation next month taking over from Michael Dugher, the former Labour MP who departed the top job at UK Music at the start of the year.

Since Dugher's departure, another former Labour MP, Tom Watson, was hired as Chair of the organisation. Although welcomed by many in the music industry, that appointment was not without controversy. Mainly because of Watson's involvement in the disastrous Operation Midland investigation into allegations of child abuse against a number of former mainly Conservative politicians. All of which was based on the false claims of a man called Carl Beech, who was subsequently convicted for fraud and child sex offences.

A key complaint of those within the music community who were against Watson's appointment was that he has too many enemies within the ruling Conservative Party to be an effective chief lobbyist for the music business. Hiring for the CEO role a man with close connections to the Tories - who was formally a political advisor to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and at the Department For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport - is a solid response to that criticism.

Of course, it does mean that both the Chair and CEO roles at UK Music are now filled with people from a political rather than music industry background. Though the hope, presumably, is that the organisation's board, made up of ten other music industry trade bodies and collecting societies, can bring the industry knowledge to the table.

Given that - beyond the imminent COVID crisis - one key challenge ahead is a dispute between different strands of the music industry regarding how streaming income is shared out between different stakeholders, having a Chair and CEO with no affiliations to any one strand may be a strength. Whether Njoku-Goodwin can also placate the vocal Watson critics within the music community remains to be seen.

Confirming the new appointment, Watson said: "On behalf of all my colleagues on the UK Music board, I'm delighted to welcome Jamie Njoku-Goodwin to the team. Jamie is a first-class appointment and brings renewed leadership to UK Music at a vital time for the industry".

"His experience of working at the heart of government will be invaluable to the industry as we make the case to ministers that our sector needs further support as we return to being a net contributor to the country's economy", he went on.

"Jamie is well known to our members as he has always been a passionate supporter of music, both in his professional roles in government, particularly whilst at the Department For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport, and also as a musician himself. I'm sure that he will build on all the fantastic work of our former CEO Michael Dugher, and Tom Kiehl who has been our acting CEO since February".

There there mentioned Kiehl, who filled in as UK Music CEO on an interim basis after Dugher's departure, will continue as Deputy CEO and Director Of Public Affairs.

And finally, some words from the new CEO himself, Mr Njoku-Goodwin: "Be it through the £5.2 billion it generates for the economy, the 190,000 jobs it sustains across our country, or the symbol of British exceptionalism it broadcasts around the world, the music industry is one of our most important national assets - and something we should all be hugely proud of".

"UK Music has a vital role in fighting for the interests of the music industry, and I am delighted to be taking the helm of the organisation at such an important time. There are big challenges facing commercial music, like the impact of coronavirus, the importance of copyright, and the need for more action on diversity and inclusion. But for all the challenges, there are also huge opportunities - and I am confident that with the right support, the music industry can be the British success story of the 2020s".

"I would like to thank the previous CEO Michael Dugher and Tom Kiehl for all their great work in making UK Music the force that it is. I look forward to working closely with the government, music-makers and music lovers to support the music industry and capitalise upon the huge potential that it offers to the UK".


Setlist: Music industry numbers - the week in stats
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the increase in US record revenues, the cost of 'Boris' Johnson's 'Operation Moonshot', the boost in users of Fender's guitar tuition app, the settlement reached in the legal battle between Sony Music and the estate of 1950s pop star Ricky Nelson, and the festivals people have most been pining for on Spotify.

Listen to this episode of Setlist here, and sign up to receive new episodes for free automatically each week through any of these services...

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Toots Hibbert dies
Toots Hibbert - frontman of reggae band Toots And The Maytals - has died, aged 77.

In a statement on Saturday, his family said: "It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel 'Toots' Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital Of The West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. The family and his management team would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief".

The cause of death has not been announced, but it is known that he had recently been hospitalised with COVID-19 symptoms and had been placed into a medically induced coma.

Over a long career, Hibbert is known for some of reggae's biggest hits and best known songs, such as 'Pressure Drop' and 'Monkey Man'. He is also credited with naming the then burgeoning genre with his 1968 single 'Do The Reggay'.

Originally signed to Island Records, the band had several hits in the UK, and received a boost again some years later thanks to their popularity among punk and 2-Tone bands - with the likes of The Clash and The Specials recording covers of their songs.

Hibbert continued to front the Maytals with varying line-ups right up to the present day. The band's 24th studio album, 'Got To Be Tough', was released just last month.



Warner's Atlantic Records UK has signed rapper Tion Wayne. "Tion is one of the most exciting new voices in the UK today", says the label's co-President Briony Turner. "Tion and his team have done fantastic work in getting him to this stage and I look forward to working with them as we aim for the top".



Universal Music has launched a new UK division of Motown Records, which will operate as part of its recently revamped EMI division. Rob Pascoe will be the label's Managing Director and Afryea Henry-Fontaine its Marketing Director. "We're looking forward to bringing the music of this culture-defining label and its artists to the widest possible audiences as well as building an energising and inspiring new roster at the label", says EMI Records President Rebecca Allen.

AI-powered music video creation app Rotor Videos has hired Alex Branson and Pj Dulay to head up partnership development and business development respectively. "Bringing in respected music industry executives in Alex and Pj means we can continue to serve, and connect with, more talent and industry partners - enhancing their creative endeavours and promotional efforts with Rotor's accessible, quality, video creation solutions", says CEO Diarmuid Moloney.

The Ivors Academy last week appointed songwriters and composers Jin Jin, Tom Gray and Daniel Kidane to its board. "As an academy we are committed to representing and championing all music creators", says Chair Crispin Hunt. "I'm THRILLED to have such wonderful new colleagues on the board to help us do that".

Warner Chappell UK has promoted Shani Gonzales to the position of Managing Director. She will also be Head Of International A&R for the company's global business. "Shani's such a talented leader who has catapulted so many songwriters to the very top with her tenacious drive to see them succeed", says CEO Guy Moot.



James Blake has officially released his cover of Frank Ocean's 'Godspeed', which has been top of the pops on TikTok recently. "This song has always been special to me, but I wasn't expecting the response it's gotten", says Blake. "Love to everyone who willed the full recording into existence".

Mr Eazi and Major Lazer have released new track 'Oh My Gawd', featuring Nicki Minaj and K4mo.

The Wannadies have released their first new single for eighteen years, 'Can't Kill The Musikk'. The new track will be available as a seven-inch single with vinyl copies of their re-issued 2002 (and most recent) album 'Before & After'.



With full award ceremonies still off the cards, US collecting society ASCAP has announced that it will unveil the winners of its respective Christian, Country and London Music Awards this year on social media in October and November. "These virtual award events give us a much-needed reason to smile, laugh and celebrate together during this difficult time", says ASCAP President Paul Williams. "Our members are the heart and soul of ASCAP, and we look forward to honouring the outstanding contributions of our Christian, Country and London-based songwriters this fall".

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


Sia says some of her songs are "shit", but that's OK
Sia has written a lot of songs. We know this. But does she think every single one of them out there is of a consistently high standard? No, she does not. In fact, she thinks some of them are downright "shit". But you still like them, so that's OK. Her lack of quality control and your lack of taste wins the day.

"For me, writing songs and singing comes easily", she tells Rolling Stone. "I mean, it took me 25 years to get to writing this good and quickly. I'm very good at writing songs because I know some of the songs I write are shit but people like them and I know how to please certain demographics and certain artists".

Sia, of course, writes songs for lots of artists as well as herself. Although the ones she writes for herself arrive less frequently. She does have a solo album's worth of new songs - shit or otherwise - ready to go. However, she's not putting it out right now because it would get swamped by all the songs - shit or otherwise - that she's putting out with other acts.

"I have an album ready to go", she goes on. "I'm only competing with myself if I put shit out, so that's why I don't just drop it all right now. I have to be really smart about when I'm releasing things because I am quite prolific". I think when she says "shit" there, she just means "stuff". Not "shit stuff". That would be "shit shit". But who knows?

And, being honest, who cares? This is all basically an excuse to re-read this great 2014 New York Times profile on Sia, which joins her in the studio as she writes new songs with Greg Kurstin.


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 consultancy unit 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 Insights 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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