TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Musicians' Union and UK Music have expressed concern after it was confirmed that new COVID-19 rules for pubs and other venues where alcohol is served in Northern Ireland include a ban on live music... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Music industry expresses concern about live music ban in Northern Ireland
LEGAL Jay-Z's work diary won't be sealed in perfume dispute, although some information will be redacted
Management firm sues Kelly Clarkson over unpaid commissions

LABELS & PUBLISHERS IMPEL renews its alliance with SACEM
ARTIST NEWS Burton C Bell leaves Fear Factory, citing long-running dispute over band name ownership
AWARDS Music Producers Guild moves 2021 awards ceremony to June
ONE LINERS AIM, Yungblud, Gary Barlow, more
AND FINALLY... Eric Clapton supports Van Morrison's Save Live Music campaign
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Music industry expresses concern about live music ban in Northern Ireland
The Musicians' Union and UK Music have expressed concern after it was confirmed that new COVID-19 rules for pubs and other venues where alcohol is served in Northern Ireland include a ban on live music.

While the music community has an assortment of issues with the UK government's current COVID policies - both those that apply UK-wide and those that are England-only - some other specific issues have also been raised in Northern Ireland and Scotland in those areas where combating the coronavirus is devolved to said country's own executives.

"The MU is deeply concerned about the effective ban on live music in Northern Ireland which was announced in the last few days", says the MU's Regional Organiser for Northern Ireland, Caroline Sewell. "Musicians have suffered acutely throughout this crisis with their livelihoods completely disappearing in the vast majority of cases. We are keen to hear from the [Northern Irish] Executive and to gain an understanding of the evidence that has driven this decision".

New restrictions in Northern Ireland were announced last week, but the full rules, which include the ban on live music and also dancing, have only recently been confirmed. Venue owners and promoters have hit out at politicians, saying that no scientific evidence supporting the ban has been presented and that the industry was not consulted before a decision was made about the new restrictions.

"Six months ago, our members' diaries were wiped clear of work for the remainder of 2020 and beyond", Sewell continues. "As the work disappeared, so did the income of thousands of musicians, and it quickly was clear that very little support would be coming as 33% of our members have not been eligible for government support in the form of the [UK-wide] Job Retention Scheme or the Self Employment Income Support Scheme".

"The sheer quality and vibrancy of the world-renowned Northern Irish music scene consistently punches well above its weight and is intrinsically linked to the cultural identity of Northern Ireland", she continues. "This is hugely important culturally and economically, but also socially as those positive effects reverberate through our communities and in our mental health and wellbeing. This is now all in jeopardy and we are calling on musicians locally to write to their local representatives to be sure their voice is heard".

Acting CEO of UK Music, Tom Kiehl, adds: "Music forms a hugely crucial part of the creative economy in Northern Ireland. As an industry, it contributes almost £70 million in annual gross value added to the local economy, with a further £8 million generated through music-related tourism. One gig has the ability to create a positive ripple effect through the live music ecology which reaches venues, bar staff, lighting engineers, sound engineers and the wider night-time economy in restaurants, bars and hotels".

"The MU's survey of its members in September reported that 37% of musicians are considering abandoning the industry completely due to the acute financial hardship they continue to face as a result of the pandemic", he goes on. "Nearly half of the union's members have been forced to seek work outside of the industry and 70% have been unable to undertake more than a quarter of their usual work".

Meanwhile, pubs and restaurants in Scotland have complained that their efforts to continue operating while COVID-related social distancing rules are still in place are being further hampered by a ban on all background music that has been in place in the country since mid-August.

In a statement earlier this week, Chair of the Night Time Industries Association Scotland, Michael Grieve, said: "The total ban on background music is having a severe effect on many hospitality businesses leading to completely sterile environments which some have likened to visiting a library".

"It seems completely disproportionate relative to other settings", he went on, "and whilst our industry is totally committed to the serious public health imperatives which the Scottish government is focused on, our already damaged sector is in serious danger of being permanently wiped out unless this ban is removed".

Live music venues in Scotland are still not permitted to open in any form, with only socially distanced outdoor shows and drive-in events allowed to take place.

In England, indoor live music events have been allowed again since last month, albeit with social distancing rules in place. Music venues are also not subject to the 10pm curfew that has been imposed on other hospitality businesses in England (and Scotland and Wales for that matter), so long as the show has already started and no alcohol is served after that time.


Jay-Z's work diary won't be sealed in perfume dispute, although some information will be redacted
A New York court has said that Jay-Z can't seal documents relating to his past schedule in an ongoing legal dispute with a perfume company. However, he can redact any personal or contact information in his work diary, such as phone numbers and email addresses.

Fragrance company Parlux sued Jay-Z – real name Shawn Carter – back in 2016, accusing the rapper of failing to meet his commitments to plug Gold Jay-Z, a perfume that it had launched in partnership with him. A lot of the legal dispute to date has involved Carter seeking to protect his privacy.

He initially tried to resist the demand from Parlux that he hand over his work diary, the perfume company wanting to track the rapper's movements during the time when he was meant to be promoting the fragrance. There was also a delay to Carter giving a filmed deposition because of his concern that the recorded testimony could leak.

The latest hearing on the case considered Carter's request that a load of documents relating to the dispute, including his work diary, be sealed and therefore kept from public view. But the judge concluded that that wasn't justified.

According to Law360, the judge said: "I mean, we're not talking about the secret sauce of Coca-Cola here. I think there's good cause to redact the licence plate number, social security numbers, personal information like a phone number or email address, but otherwise, respectfully, I don't think you meet the burden".

We know this because Law360's journalist tuned into the online hearing, although initially their request to listen in on the session was declined, even though such proceedings usually take place in the public domain in New York state. Apparently their request was at first denied because of concerns expressed by Carter's legal team.

The lawyers say that their concern was only because it wasn't initially clear what the session would involve and whether Carter's personal information would be directly discussed. Once it became clear it would not, they withdrew their opposition to a media presence.


Management firm sues Kelly Clarkson over unpaid commissions
Nashville-based management firm Starstruck Management Group has sued Kelly Clarkson in a bid to secure allegedly unpaid commissions and to get court confirmation that the firm is due commissions on the singer and TV host's future projects too.

Although a pretty basic lawsuit over Clarkson's management deal - which, as is quite common in artist management, was an oral agreement rather than formally written down - there is also a personal element to this dispute. Until earlier this year Clarkson was also married to her manager, Brandon Blackstock, who - as well as being part of the team at Starstruck - is the son of the firm's founder Narvel Blackstock.

Starstruck has provided management services to Clarkson ever since 2007. In the firm's new lawsuit, it sets out the basics of the deal between the company and the star, which - as the lawsuit states - is pretty much a standard deal for the US industry with Starstruck providing a bunch of services in return for a 15% share of the income her various projects generate.

As well as the terms of the deal, the fact it was never formalised in a written contract is also pretty common in the music industry. Now that it seeks to enforce the oral agreement it reached with Clarkson thirteen years ago, the lawsuit explains in some detail the conversations that occurred back then between Blackstock Senior and Clarkson, her lawyer and her separate business manager.

Those conversations - not to mention the thirteen years of working together and Starstruck taking its 15% - demonstrate that everyone knew what deal had been agreed, it argues. Although the real dispute seems to be over two things that are always a challenge when negotiating management deals: how does either party end the deal and does the manager continue to earn a commission even once they are no longer actively working with the artist (what is often referred to as the 'sunset clause').

According to the lawsuit, during those 2007 pre-deal conversations it was agreed that the Clarkson side "would be required to continue paying such commissions on commissionable projects as long as Starstruck was ready, willing and able to continue providing the Clarkson defendants with management services".

As it is still "ready, willing and able", Starstruck then argues, Clarkson should carry on paying the firm its cut from her current and future projects. But, it seems, commission payments stopped earlier this year, presumably as the musician's marriage to Blackstock Junior came to an end.

With her stint on the US version of 'The Voice' and her own NBC talk show - among other things - bringing in the cash, the firm reckons Clarkson already owes it $1.4 million in unpaid commissions. And by the end of the year, it could be owed over $5 million.

To that end, Starstruck wants the courts to formalise and then enforce the contract between the company and Clarkson, forcing her to pay over the management outfit's 15%. It will be interesting to see what the Clarkson side says about what was agreed in 2007, and the rights and wrongs of the version the deal described by Starstruck, and to what extent that deal is indeed "industry standard".


IMPEL renews its alliance with SACEM
IMPEL - the organisation that negotiates direct deals in the digital domain on behalf of an assortment of independent music publishers – has renewed its alliance with French collecting society SACEM.

The coalition of publishers has worked with SACEM on licensing and managing its members' repertoire in the streaming market, mainly in Europe, ever since it became a distinct standalone organisation in 2018. Previously, as a subsidiary of the UK's Music Publishers Association, British society PRS did the deal-making and royalty administration on behalf of the group.

Confirming its IMPEL alliance would continue, SACEM said it "could not be more pleased" to continue "contributing to IMPEL's success".

The society's boss Jean-Noël Tronc says: "In a crisis situation like the one we're going through, with creators' revenues dropping, it is vital that they can count on solid, trustworthy partners to authorise the use of works and collect digital royalties. We are proud that IMPEL and its independent publishers have chosen to renew this agreement with SACEM. Together, we will continue to do everything we can to bring greater transparency and value to all its members and to defend a dynamic and eclectic musical repertoire".

Meanwhile, IMPEL chief Sarah Williams adds: "We have built an excellent relationship with SACEM and are very happy with what has been achieved so far. Both IMPEL and SACEM share an ethos of 'how can we do this better?' As a consequence, we are getting great results with our distributions, and are making continual improvements to the way we do business. We anticipate an extremely positive future".

In addition to its alliance with SACEM in Europe and some other markets, earlier this year IMPEL also started working with the LatinAutor copyright hub and its admin partner Backoffice to license and administrate its members' rights in the Latin American region.


CMU Insights Webinar: Streaming Service Playlists
We all know that 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?

Next week's CMU Insights webinar will answer these questions. We'll provide a brief history of streaming service playlists; review the state of play with service-controlled and independent playlists in 2020; talk through the playlist pitching process; and consider the rise of machine-driven playlists and how to play the algorithm. It all takes place next Tuesday, 6 Oct, at 2.30pm.

You can book into this webinar for just £25 or sign up for a number of CMU's upcoming training sessions and get additional discounts. We've just added a brand new webinar on the evolution of music piracy which will take place on 1 Dec - and you can sign up to all nine of the webinars currently on sale for just £150.

Click here to find out more about all the upcoming webinars and to book.

Burton C Bell leaves Fear Factory, citing long-running dispute over band name ownership
Fear Factory frontman Burton C Bell has announced his departure from the band. He cites a long-running legal battle between members of the outfit's classic line-up - himself, guitarist Dino Cazares, bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera - over ownership of the Fear Factory name.

Bell's departure leaves Cazares the only member of that classic line-up still actively in the group. He has now said that he still plans to release a new Fear Factory album next year, which will still feature vocals from Bell.

"The past several years have been profoundly agonising, with these members bleeding my passion with depraved deceit", Bell says of Cazares, Wolbers and Herrera in a statement. "As a direct consequence of their greed, these three have dragged me through the unjust, judicial system, resulting in the legal attrition that has financially crippled me".

"In the end, these three members have taken possession of my principal livelihood", he goes on. "However, they will never take my 30 year legacy as the beating heart of the machine. A legacy that no other member, past or present, can ever claim. So, it is after considerable, contemplative soul searching that I have come to the realisation that I cannot align myself with someone whom I do not trust, nor respect".

Saying that plans for the new album continued despite Bell's departure - his vocals having been recorded in 2017 - Cazares posted on Twitter: "Regardless of him saying he has no respect for me, I'm going to respect him". Though that respect didn't stop Cazares stating that Bell "needs to really tell the truth" about their dispute.

The guitarist also noted that Bell's version of the band continued without him for several years - mainly because for a time there were two bands called Fear Factory, that also being as a result of this long running spat. He wrote: "FF continued without me from 2002 to 2009, they released two records without me and it lasted about seven years before Burton didn't want to play with Ray and Chris anymore. He asked me if I wanted rejoin with him in 2009".

In a subsequent interview with Robb Flynn on the Machine Head frontman's 'No Fuckin Regrets' podcast, Cazares went into more detail about the ongoing wrangling over the Fear Factory name.

He acknowledged that initially the dispute was between himself and Bell against Wolbers and Herrera. However, earlier this year it seems that Cazares bought Bell's portion of the Fear Factory trademark. That makes him the sole owner of the name, he says. It also resulted in the new phase of this dispute, between him and Bell.

"Most people know that we were in a legal battle for the last three-plus years, trying to sort out this Fear Factory name situation", he says. "And [Bell] and I were sued separately, in separate courts. The other two ex-members decided to take us to court, which led to me and Burton going bankrupt in separate states - I was in California; he was out there in Pennsylvania. [A few months ago] Burton's [portion of the Fear Factory] trademark ownership became available, so I ended up purchasing it".

"I don't wanna get into the gory details", he adds. "I don't wanna have to throw anybody under the bus. But if anybody wants to see the truth, they can go and Google the paperwork. Google our names and you'll find it. It's all there. It's all black and white. And you can see what happened and how it all transpired".

Signs that Bell and Cazares's relationship was somewhat strained again were apparent earlier this month, when Bell called a crowdfunding campaign set up purportedly to complete the new album "a scam". He claimed that Cazares was actually raising money to cover his legal bills.

In the interview with Flynn, Cazares says that he hopes Bell will reconsider his decision and rejoin the band in order to promote the new album. Although since then he has been openly discussing on Twitter plans to audition new vocalists, saying that Bell's departure would be "a really big opportunity to give someone else a chance".


Music Producers Guild moves 2021 awards ceremony to June
The Music Producers Guild has announced that it is moving its annual awards ceremony to June for the 2021 edition. Traditionally taking place in February, the move is being made in the hope that it will be safe to hold a physical ceremony by next summer. Although it is likely that the summer date will stay in place for subsequent editions too.

Two new awards will also be added to next year's proceedings - UK Writer-Producer Of The Year and UK Original Score Recording Of The Year - with submissions open now.

"It has never been more important than it is right now that we do everything in our power to support the amazing creative talent we have in our industry", says MPG Awards MD Tony Platt. "We have also always tried to develop our fabulous awards show to keep pace with the innovation and inspiration of those creative people who are at the heart of the UK music business. So we are taking this opportunity to make some exciting changes so we can recognise the widest possible cohort of music professionals. Roll on next summer!"

Rhiannon Mair, Executive Director of the MPG, adds: "We are THRILLED to be hosting another year of the MPG Awards showcasing some of the best talent in professional audio. In an ever-evolving industry, we recognise that the way records are made is evolving, which is why we have introduced two new awards to celebrate that. Looking forward to June 2021!"

Plans are for the ceremony to take place at Grosvenor House in London, with tickets for the event going on sale in February or March. Initial submissions for potential winners of next year's awards can be made here.



AIM's COVID-19 Crisis Fund has received new donations of £300,000, meaning the trade group has reached 80% of its funding scheme's original £1 million target. The new donations include a further £50,000 from collecting society PPL, which already put in £100,000. "From the feedback we've received so far, it's clear that this fund has had a huge impact already, and thanks to our supporters, it can continue to be a lifeline as the pandemic continues", says AIM CEO Paul Pacifico.



Round Hill Music has signed Rob Thomas to a worldwide publishing deal. "I'm so excited to be a part of the Round Hill family", says Thomas. "From the first time I met everyone there I could feel a passion for music and songwriting that is infectious. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together".



Warner Music Australasia has announced that Dan Rosen will become its new President on 1 Feb 2021, replacing Niko Nordström. Rosen has been CEO of Australian record label trade body ARIA for most of the last decade. "This is an exciting and dynamic time for music, with an explosion in opportunities across streaming and social media, especially given the levelling of traditional barriers in genre and geography", he says, before adding: "I am also very aware that the challenges of the pandemic demands that we remain very focussed on protecting creators' rights".

Speaking of Niko Nordström, he's just been named Executive Vice President of Warner Music Nordics and Managing Director of Warner Music Finland. Two jobs! Where will he find the time? Lucky he gave up that other one. "I'm delighted to be returning to the Nordics after my adventures in Australia", he says.

Founder of The Warehouse Project Sacha Lord has joined the board of the Night Time Industries Association. "During the last few months, it has become clear that the nightlife sector needs to work together", he says. "Not only to help the industry pull through these difficult times but to coordinate and shape a way forward so that we can recover, stronger than ever".



That Yungblud is going to host a new podcast on BBC Sounds, via a partnership with BBC Radio 1. Each episode will see him talk to a fan to find out about their lives. "I am so excited to be able to have one-on-one conversations with young people about what is going on in the world right now, and hear it from their perspective", says the musician. "I'm so sick and tired of talking about things from my perspective! I can't wait to hear what they've got to say, and what we've got to say together".



Gary Barlow has announced that he will release a new solo album on 27 Nov. It's called 'Music Played By Humans', which makes him sound like an alien trying to fit in with the rest of us. As well as himself, the album features an array of guests, including Michael Bublé, Chilly Gonzales, Beverley Knight and, ugh, James Corden. "It really is music played by people", says Barlow. Sure, Gary. Sure. Here's first single, 'Elita', featuring Bublé and Sebastián Yatra.

Romy from The xx has released her debut solo single 'Lifetime'. Written during lockdown, the song dreams about the feeling of being reunited with loved ones and "being totally in the moment and celebrating it".

Beabadoobee has released new single 'How Was Your Day?' Her debut album, 'Fake It Flowers', is out on 16 Oct. "'How Was Your Day?' is a track that explores all the relationships I neglected when I was away from home", she says. "I wanted to emphasise the rawness of the lyrics with the song sonically which is why I recorded it on a four-track with all the little mistakes and vocal wobbles included. I wanted the music video to feel nostalgic to me, to include all the people I cared about, it took me back to the time I first started making music".

Purity Ring have released a cover of Alice Deejay's 1998 classic 'Better Off Alone'. "We have wanted to cover this song for years and it felt like it was time", say the duo. "It's been an influence on how we write and feel music since the beginning, and so for all the ways that joy and longing move, the truth is out there".

Anna B Savage has announced that she will release her debut album, 'A Common Tern', on 29 Jan 2021. Here's the title track.



Sam Smith will livestream a performance from Abbey Road Studios on 30 Oct to mark the release of their new album 'Love Goes'. Tickets will go on sale at 9am on 8 Oct. More info here.

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


Eric Clapton supports Van Morrison's Save Live Music campaign
Eric Clapton has lent his support to Van Morrison's Save Live Music campaign - although he's not made it clear if he's completely on board with Morrison's new conspiracy-theory-pushing singles.

Morrison, of course, announced plans to release three new anti-lockdown singles over the course of a month, as part of his campaign to get live music up and running again. The first, 'Born To Be Free', was released last Friday, with two more to come in October. He also performed three shows at the London Palladium last week, although seemingly decided not to perform the new songs, despite previously saying that he would.

"It is deeply upsetting to see how few gigs are going ahead because of the lockdown restrictions", says Clapton. "There are many of us who support Van and his endeavours to save live music, he is an inspiration! We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover".

Clapton is currently scheduled to tour Europe in May and June next year, so is clearly hoping that things can be all sorted - with or without Morrison - by then.

Morrison himself adds: "Thanks to everyone who came to the Palladium shows and who have supported the new single. The gigs were great and proved that live performance can operate safely. Now we need the government to ease restrictions further and instil confidence that venues are safe and enjoyable places to be for everyone".

Morrison is calling for venues to be allowed to open again at full capacity, claiming that this can be done safely despite the ongoing pandemic. Although reading through the lyrics of his new songs, that's not because Morrison is consulting different scientific studies to the government. Rather, he believes that COVID-19 is not, in fact, a dangerous virus, and everything that's happened over the last six months has been a fascist attempt to control the population.

Still, his London Palladium shows adhered to current regulations and were therefore socially distanced affairs - more so than planned as, according to The Guardian, a significant number of ticket holders did not turn up to see him perform, possibly because of the widely reported second surge of COVID.

The concerts did not, therefore, prove that venues can be safely reopened up at full capacity. And with all the empty seats on show, it doesn't seem like Morrison's new songs have convinced all his fans that COVID-19 is nothing to worry about either.


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 consultancy unit 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 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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