TODAY'S TOP STORY: Warner Music yesterday confirmed that it is raising $250 million in debt finance - via a 'bond offering' - to help fund two catalogue acquisitions. The specifics of those deals are not yet known, although one is seemingly completed while the other is at its final stages... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Warner Music raises $250 million in debt finance to fund catalogue acquisitions
LEGAL German record industry welcomes latest court ruling in Cloudflare case
Missy Elliott hits back in ongoing producer legal battle
Sigur Rós - still fighting tax evasion charges - call on Icelandic government to act

DEALS Sony/ATV extends deal with Cass Lowe
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Apple launches music TV channel
ONE LINERS Gruff Rhys, Gary Barlow, Ghetts, more
AND FINALLY... Beastie Boys licence Sabotage for Joe Biden advert
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Warner Music raises $250 million in debt finance to fund catalogue acquisitions
Warner Music yesterday confirmed that it is raising $250 million in debt finance - via a 'bond offering' - to help fund two catalogue acquisitions. The specifics of those deals are not yet known, although one is seemingly completed while the other is at its final stages.

In a statement to investors, the music firm said: "Warner Music Group Corp today announced that, through its wholly-owned subsidiary WMG Acquisition Corp, it has commenced a private offering of $250 million aggregate principal amount of additional 3.000% senior secured notes due 2031". Which sounds like fun.

It then added: "The company intends to use the net proceeds of the offering to fund a portion of the aggregate cash consideration for certain acquisitions".

A subsequent filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission then added: "In early October we completed an acquisition for certain music assets, and we recently came to an agreement in principle regarding a second acquisition regarding certain other music and music-related assets, for aggregate cash consideration of approximately $338 million. We intend to fund such aggregate cash consideration with the proceeds of this offering and approximately $90 million of cash on hand".

Although Warner Music's more buzzy acquisitions in recent years have been of digital and influencer platforms, these two deals seemingly relate to the company's core business of music rights. There is, of course, increased competition in that particular domain at the moment thanks to the likes of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund hyping up interest in music copyright among investment types.


German record industry welcomes latest court ruling in Cloudflare case
The Higher Regional Court in Cologne has confirmed a ruling made in a lower court in the German city earlier this year regarding the liabilities of internet services firm Cloudflare for the copyright infringing ways of some of its customers. The technology company is obliged to cut off services from piracy site DDL-Music, in order to avoid being held liable for the copyright infringement that occurs on that site.

Cloudflare has long resisted efforts by the entertainment industry to make it responsible for policing its clients' activity, with record labels and movie companies reckoning that the firm should look out for copyright infringing sites using its platform, or at the very least take action against those sites when made aware of them by copyright owners. For its part, Cloudflare generally argues that it is only obliged to act against an allegedly infringing client when told to do so by a court.

It was with that in mind that Universal Music in Germany went legal against Cloudflare in relation to its customer DDL-Music, which had been facilitating access to unlicensed tracks by German musician Sarah Connor. Cloudflare, the major argued, allowed DDL-Music to mask its real location. Given that Cloudflare was helping a piracy operation, it should also be held liable for the infringement DDL-Music was facilitating, unless it agreed to stop providing services to the piracy site.

Back in February this year, the Cologne District Court basically concurred with the record company. An injunction followed ordering Cloudflare to block DDL-Music, with the threat of a 250,000 euro fine or jail time for the firm's Managing Director if it didn't comply.

Earlier this month Cologne Higher Regional Court upheld that decision. On a practical level, the higher court ruling isn't so important, because after Cloudflare complied with the original injunction DDL-Music switched service providers. However, representatives for the German record industry say that the higher court ruling strengthens their position to the effect that companies like Cloudflare are obliged to act against copyright infringers among there client bases.

After more details about the judgement were published last week, Florian Drücke of German record industry trade group BVMI said: "The decision of the Cologne Higher Regional Court strengthens the position of rights holders in an important area and provides a clear signal: A service that helps others to evade legal action through anonymisation is also illegal".

The ruling, he went on, was another success for the music industry in its battle against online operations that "cause considerable damage to creators and their business partners, and whose business models are based on generating considerable income with third-party content without acquiring licenses for that content".


Missy Elliott hits back in ongoing producer legal battle
Missy Elliott has filed more legal papers in her ongoing dispute with producer Terry Williams. He is trying to get a lawsuit she has filed against him dismissed.

The dispute is over recordings Elliott made in Williams' studio all the way back in the 1990s. She alleges that, in 2017, the producer tried to sell her those recordings via a representative who implied that, if she didn't do the deal, Williams would shop them somewhere else. Elliott insists that he can't do that because she is the sole copyright owner in those works.

The producer was first to go legal in the dispute, accusing Elliott of breach of contract and unjust enrichment. She then sued through the courts in Florida back in August. He is now trying to get that litigation dismissed, partly on jurisdiction grounds, and partly by arguing he is a co-owner of the copyright in the disputed music.

On the jurisdiction point, Elliott argues that the fact Williams is based in Delaware, not Florida, is not relevant. In her new legal filing, she states: "That [the] defendant's deliberate targeting of a longstanding Florida resident may have been directed from Delaware where he lives is irrelevant".

"Moreover", she goes on, "because defendant, a Delaware resident, does not remotely provide a sufficient explanation as to why litigating in Florida would be especially onerous ... and because Florida has a 'manifest interest' in providing its residents with a convenient forum for redressing injuries inflicted by out-of-state actors, the exercise of jurisdiction also comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice".

The new legal filing also takes issue with the justification Williams has used for why he should be deemed a co-owner of the copyrights in the disputed tracks. "Defendant's subjective belief that because plaintiff and defendant have previously been credited as authors on a publicly-released song defendant can automatically claim joint authorship over each of plaintiff's compositions underlying the unpublished recordings is plainly without merit", it says.

Also, it adds, "defendant misapprehends the requirement that parties must intend to share the rights of authorship to create a joint work".

And so the dispute rolls on.


Sigur Rós - still fighting tax evasion charges - call on Icelandic government to act Members of Sigur Rós have called on the Icelandic government to end the country's so called "double jeopardy tax laws", a system via which people and businesses - including the band - can be pursued twice over the same unpaid taxes.

Various members of Sigur Rós were charged with tax evasion in their home country last year over incorrect tax returns that were filed between 2011 and 2014, and which collectively resulted in 151 million Icelandic Krona (just over £945,000) of taxes going unpaid.

However, the band had already previously reached a deal with Iceland's Directorate Of Tax Investigations, under which they had paid the unpaid taxes and accompanying fines.

The band blame a former accountant for the incorrect tax filings. Throughout they have stressed that they never deliberately intended to evade any tax obligations, while also pointing out that they fully complied with the Icelandic tax directorate's investigation and paid all the monies owed.

Last year's tax evasion charges were initially dismissed in court because of the previous deal with the Directorate Of Tax Investigations, which had also cleared the band of any tax evasion.

To prosecute the band a second time over those charges, it was ruled, would contravene a European human rights law that says that people should not be tried for the same crime twice – what is sometimes known as the double jeopardy principle.

However, a higher court in Reykjavik then overturned that dismissal, meaning the band are still fighting the tax evasions charges.

In a statement yesterday, the band noted that, because of concerns over cases like the one they involved in, "the Icelandic government recently took the decision to pause its pursuit of double jeopardy prosecutions with a view to amending the legislation". However, they said, "over 100 cases, including that of Sigur Rós, remain open are still being aggressively pursued through the courts". That, the band add, doesn't make any sense.

The band's statement went on: "Since we discovered that our financial advisors had seriously misled us over our tax liabilities for the period 2011-2014 we have trusted in the judicial process, which we truly believed would exonerate us of any wilful wrongdoing. We have always provided our full cooperation to all investigations and reached an agreement with the Icelandic tax authorities to pay what we owed plus interest and fines".

"However, in the intervening years, we have become victims of an unjust and draconian prosecution by the Icelandic government who are unfairly seeking to portray us as deliberate tax evaders, something we have always and continue to strongly deny. We have been charged and tried twice for the same offence, our assets have been frozen for years now, we are facing potential financial ruin and as such we are calling on the Icelandic government to revoke these outdated double jeopardy tax laws, which have affected numerous Icelandic businesses".

"The Icelandic government has now paused any further prosecutions as a result of these concerns but is still actively pursuing over 100 open cases, which is contradictory and makes no sense at all. We want to shine a light on systemic failures rather than individuals. We know that the legislation is broken and that the courts have their hands tied at present. This needs to be urgently addressed".

They concluded: "We are fortunate to have a platform in order to speak out about this and we do so not just for ourselves but for the many others who have been caught up in this shameful failure of the Icelandic legal system, which does nothing but embarrass our country".


Sony/ATV extends deal with Cass Lowe
Sony/ATV has extended its deal with songwriter and producer Cass Lowe, whose credits include tracks released by Charli XCX, Chance The Rapper, Labrinth, Clean Bandit, Anne-Marie and Little Mix.

"We have been very fortunate to witness Cass defining his art over the past few years, becoming one of the most in-demand UK songwriters", says Sony/ATV UK President David Ventura. "He is multi-talented – excelling in writing music, toplining and producing - [and] he probably won't say [it], but he is also a great singer. As a publisher, it is a dream to work with an all-rounder like Cass, his impressive track record speaks for itself and the opportunities are infinite".

Lowe adds: "I'm so excited to be continuing the journey with the Sony/ATV family! They are incredibly supportive and passionate about what they do, and over the years together they've helped me learn my craft and grow as a writer. I'm looking forward to making some great music with David Ventura, Jon Platt, Amanda Hill, Jenn Knoepfle and the whole Sony/ATV worldwide team".

He indeed did not say that he's a great singer. He might have been thinking it though. Lowe's most recent release is Jax Jones's 'Miss U', which came out earlier this month.


Apple launches music TV channel
Apple has added a new music channel to its TV app, playing music videos and interviews from its Apple Music 1 radio station 24/7. Currently available in the US only, the channel is free to all users, and not behind the Apple TV+ paywall.

"A great list of sampled artists on a typical day would be Drake, Dua Lipa, BTS, Billie Eilish - a contemporary mix of current hits", says Rachel Newman, Apple Music's Global Head Of Editorial And Content. "It's such a great way for music lovers to see big, contemporary hits in an easy-to-consume, lean-back way and be able to access Apple Music from the TV app at the flick of a switch".

The channel will also be used for special promotions, starting with a 24 hour takeover by Bruce Springsteen this Thursday, promoting his new album 'Letter To You'.

"We have this fantastic ecosystem and we want to serve all kinds of music lovers", says Newman. "It's mostly about creating a great experience that's always on and always easy, and to be able to leverage big moments like with Bruce".

As well as being available in the Apple TV app, the new channel will also be accessible in Apple Music.


Approved: Kučka
Having returned last year with her first solo track for three years - 'Drowning' - Kučka has now released her second track of 2020 - 'Ascension' - following on from July's 'Contemplation'.

Continuing to keep her quality control stringent, she also raises hopes that a follow-up to her 2015 EP 'Unconditional' could be on the horizon.

"'Ascension' is about the continual growth that we are all undertaking at every stage of our life", she says of the new track. "We're constantly faced with new challenges whether we realise it or not and it's important that we don't let our fears get in the way of our enjoyment of the process".

Blending R&B and leftfield electronic production, her airy vocals are folded into the mix as the perfect sweetener. Watch the video for 'Ascension' here.

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


Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys will publish "a selective memoir in the form of graphics, images and mass communications" on 9 Feb 2021, titled 'Resist Phony Encores!' More info here.

Gary Barlow has released the video for his new single 'Elita', featuring Michael Buble and Sebastián Yatra.

Ghetts has released the video for his new single with Skepta, 'IC3'.

Dodie has released new single 'Cool Girl'. It's "a song about misplaced anger", she says. "Stemming from the suppression of communicating your needs in a relationship in order to attempt to be the most chill, cool and loveable. It's bitter, desperate, frustrated, proud, determined and unhealthy". Her debut album, 'Build A Problem', will be out in March 2021.

Samia has released a full band version of her song 'Is There Something In The Movies?' "We've been playing this version of 'Movies' live for a couple years but opted to put a more stripped down version that's centred around the vocals on the record", she says. "Making this video was the first time we got to hang as a band since quarantine started, so it was a special moment for all of us! I love to rock with my band".

Orla Gartland has released new single 'Pretending', the first to be taken from her as-yet-untitled debut album, which is due out next year.



Madness are the latest act added to the 2021 line-up of Forestry England's Forest Live concert series. They have two shows booked in next June. More details here.

Ezra Furman has announced a livestreamed show on 1 Nov, which will be broadcast from the Boston Museum Of Fine Arts. Details and tickets here.

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


Beastie Boys licence Sabotage for Joe Biden advert
Yeah, it's 'politician uses music in their political campaign' time again. But - plot twist! - this politician has permission. Even though the artist involved is one that generally doesn't give permission for their music to be used in any kind of campaign, political or otherwise. Ever.

So, there's a new Joe Biden advert doing the rounds. And that Joe Biden advert has Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage' playing in it. And no one is getting sued. That's surprising for a couple of reasons.

First, I think we'd all forgotten that politicians might know how to ask for permission before making use of someone else's music, after four years of Trump. Secondly, Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch stated in his last will and testament that his music should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be licensed for use in advertising.

Specifically, he stated: "In no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes".

And yet, here we are. The advert features the co-owner of Michigan music venue The Blind Pig, Joe Malcoun. In it, he attacks Donald Trump's response to COVID-19, which has left the business unable to open its doors for months.

"Everywhere I go, people have a story about the Blind Pig", he says. "The Blind Pig has been one of those clubs that attract artists from all genres. For 50 years, The Blind Pig has been open and crowded, but right now, it's an empty room. This is the reality of Trump's COVID response".

"We don't know how much longer we can survive without any revenue", he goes on. "A lot of restaurants and bars that have been mainstays for years will not make it through this. This is Donald Trump's economy: There is no plan and you don't know how to go forward. It makes me so angry. My only hope for my family and for this business and my community is that Joe Biden wins this election".

A number of tracks actually play in the advert, including 'Cannonball' by The Breeders and 'Where Is My Mind?' by Pixies. However, 'Sabotage' brings the video to its crescendo and is drawing the most attention because of the band's usual stance on advertising.

A spokesperson for the Biden campaign tells Variety that the band had "never licensed music for an ad until now", but had agreed "because of the importance of the election".

That's not strictly true. Yes, the election is important, but this is not actually the first time the band have licensed their music - or even this song - for an advert. Although that does depend slightly on your exact definition of advertising.

The band have, in the past, sued companies that made use of their songs without permission in advertising or other promotional videos, pointing out that - not only would they never sanction such use of their music - but it was also Yauch's dying wish that they hold firm on that stance. So using their music to hawk a product is doubly disrespectful.

However, in recent years, 'Sabotage' has cropped up in trailers for the movies 'Star Trek Beyond' and 'Minions: Rise Of The Gru', as well as video game 'Destiny 2'. So seemingly the band don't consider trailers to be adverts. Even though they are.

And I guess this new video - which was aired on TV in the US, during what would definitely be considered ad breaks - could be seen as a preview trailer for the Joe Biden presidency.

But anyway, a politician used some music and no one complained or threatened to sue. How refreshing. Have a little watch of the Joe Biden trailer here.


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 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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