TODAY'S TOP STORY: With its inquiry into the economics of streaming already underway, the UK Parliament's culture select committee yesterday announced another music industry related inquiry, this one looking at music festivals and what support they need to successfully return after the COVID shutdown... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Parliament's culture select committee to put the spotlight on music festivals
LEGAL US Congressman proposes full-on reform of America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its safe harbour
LIVE BUSINESS Ticketmaster planning to use app to verify COVID status, in hopes of return to full capacity shows in 2021
AFEM launches code of conduct to tackle sexual harassment in electronic music community

MEDIA Graham Norton to depart BBC Radio 2
RELEASES Tom Vek releases new album, launches crowdfunding campaign for artwork-focussed digital music player
ONE LINERS Round Hill, Eels, Haim, more
AND FINALLY... Radio 1 announces Lockdown Awards
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Parliament's culture select committee to put the spotlight on music festivals
With its inquiry into the economics of streaming already underway, the UK Parliament's culture select committee yesterday announced another music industry related inquiry, this one looking at music festivals and what support they need to successfully return after the COVID shutdown.

The committee noted yesterday that "with the vast majority of festivals cancelled in 2020 owing to COVID-19, the sector's revenues have dropped by 90%. The predominantly freelance workforce and other parts of the festival supply chain have been similarly affected. However, social distancing requirements and public health uncertainty present further risks for festival organisers".

It remains unknown to what extend the COVID-19 pandemic will impact on the 2021 festival season. Some fear that another round of cancellations could occur if there are further surges of the virus or more draconian social distancing rules stay in place making it tricky for major events to operate in a commercially viable way.

For independent festivals, cancelling a single edition of an event basically writes off a whole year's worth of revenues, so even if live music was to resume in a commercially viable way in autumn 2021, that doesn't help much of the festival sector.

However, optimists hope that - especially following this week's news regarding a COVID vaccine - that 2021 editions of most events will be able to proceed. Though extra public health requirements will almost certainly still be in place, possibly reducing capacities, certainly increasing logistical requirements. And if there are still international travel restrictions in force, that too will affect how festivals are both programmed and marketed.

On top of that, you have the insurance dilemma. With cancellation insurance hard to secure, every pound spent on a festival will be a lost pound if a festival does ultimately have to cancel its 2021 edition. That makes festival promoters - even the bigger more corporate promoters - nervous about spending heavily on next year's events. So even if ultimately the 2021 festival season goes ahead almost as normal, there'll be a lot more last minute bookings, logistics and marketing than would be the norm.

The key question for the select committee, though, is how could government help festival promoters meet those challenges. And without such support, what would be the economic, social and cultural cost of having a festival sector on the brink.

The committee has identified seven questions that it plans to consider. Most relate in some way to COVID, though not all. The committee also plans to discuss how the festival market has evolved in recent years, as well what festivals can do to make their events more environmentally sustainable and to more effectively tackle the dangers of drug use at their events.

Announcing the inquiry, Chair of the committee, Julian Knight MP, said: "The collapse of the vibrant music festival sector this year is a real cause for concern. The majority of festivals have been cancelled with the money they generate down by 90% and real risks surrounding their future viability".

"We have so many legendary festivals that have given the UK a worldwide reputation", he went on. "It would be devastating if they were unable to come back with a bang, or if smaller festivals that underpin the talent pipeline disappear entirely. We want to hear from festival staff as they face huge pressures, fans who've missed out, as well as musicians on the contribution that festivals make to our culture and economy".

He concluded: "It's crucial that support to enable music festivals to go ahead in 2021 and beyond is put in place. We'll be assessing what's been done so far and what more needs to be done to safeguard the future of festivals".

The Association Of Independent Festivals said on Twitter yesterday that the inquiry was "hugely welcome", adding "we look forward to contributing".


US Congressman proposes full-on reform of America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its safe harbour
Thom Tillis, the US senator who co-led a series of discussions in Congress earlier this year on America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, has said he believes it's time to reform American copyright law to make it more suitable for the digital age we are now in. To that end, he is seeking input from interested parties on various issues, and especially the copyright safe harbour contained in the DMCA.

In its long-awaited report on the American safe harbour earlier this year, the US Copyright Office said it thought the concept - which protects internet companies from liability when their customers use their networks or servers to infringe copyright - probably needed fine-tuning, to take into account developments since the DMCA was passed more than two decades ago.

However, in a letter to copyright owners and digital companies, Tillis says that: "Rather, than tinker around the edges of existing provisions, I believe Congress should reform copyright law's framework to better encourage the creation of copyrightable works and to protect users and consumers making lawful uses of copyrighted goods and software-enabled products".

The European copyright safe harbour, of course, was revised by last year's European Copyright Directive, increasing the liabilities of any user-upload platforms that are relying on the safe harbour principle. Those reforms are still being implemented by EU members states.

When talking about the American safe harbour during the aforementioned Congressional discussions earlier this year, some argued that the US should wait to see how the EU reforms play out before making any changes Stateside. Though that opinion was most commonly expressed by those who are opposed to any safe harbour reform that primarily benefits copyright owners.

In a lengthy letter outlining the topics he believes Congress should consider - which is published in full by Variety - Tillis spends quite a bit of time running through various elements of the safe harbour debate. In doing so he also considers safe harbour issues that were not really addressed by the EU Copyright Directive.

In particular, he talks about the takedown systems that safe harbour dwelling internet companies are obliged to set up in order to avoid copyright liabilities - ie the systems via which copyright owners can request infringing content be removed from an internet firm's networks or servers.

The DMCA, Tillis notes, currently "places the burden on copyright owners to identify infringing materials and affirmatively ask the [online service provider] to remove the material or disable access to it. This burden appears to strike the correct balance, but the burden that the notice-and-takedown system itself places on copyright owners is too heavy; the system is also woefully inefficient for both copyright owners and service providers".

"I believe US copyright law should move towards some type of a notice-and-stay-down system - in other words, once a copyright owner notifies a service provider that a use of a copyrighted work is infringing, the service provider must, without further prompting, remove subsequent infringing uses absent a statement from the user (whether the copyright owner or not) that they believe the use is licensed or otherwise authorised by law (eg fair use)".

For the music industry, the need for takedown-and-stay-down remains a key safe harbour issue that is yet to be properly addressed. Though internet companies will almost certainly come up with a list of reasons for why such a thing is impractical.

It will be interesting to see how different stakeholder groups respond to Tillis's letter, and whether the Republican Congressman can actually get any of the reforms he discusses onto the agenda in Congress itself.


Ticketmaster planning to use app to verify COVID status, in hopes of return to full capacity shows in 2021
Following news that a COVID-19 vaccine may be imminent, Live Nation's Ticketmaster has published plans for how it will help to enable the return of full capacity concerts in 2021. The company says it will use its smartphone app to verify that ticketholders have been vaccinated, or have had a recent negative COVID test, before being allowed into shows.

The plans are still in development, according to Billboard. However, the company is apparently working with third party public health data services and vaccine providers to design a verification process. Ticketholders would be required to confirm that they have had a vaccination within twelve months of the show date after purchasing tickets. Those who are not vaccinated will have to have a verified negative test within 72 and 24 hours of showtime.

"We're already seeing many third-party health care providers prepare to handle the vetting - whether that is getting a vaccine, taking a test, or other methods of review and approval - which could then be linked via a digital ticket so everyone entering the event is verified", Ticketmaster President Mark Yovich tells Billboard.

"Ticketmaster's goal is to provide enough flexibility and options that venues and fans have multiple paths to return to events", he goes on. "[We are] working to create integrations to our API and leading digital ticketing technology as we will look to tap into the top solutions based on what's green-lit by officials and desired by clients".

These plans are not dissimilar to those put forward by Melvin Benn - head of fellow Live Nation-owned company Festival Republic - earlier this year. Announced and promptly withdrawn in June, Benn's 'Full Capacity Plan' proposed a return to (relatively) normal activity for live music by this month - something that we now know would have been scuppered by the second lockdown anyway.

There are issues with plans of this kind, of course. When it was first published, Benn's proposal was criticised for envisioning a two-tier society, where people are denied access to services due to their health status - or by simply being unable to gain timely access to testing or vaccines.

That said, such a system may prove to be a necessary evil in order to re-open live entertainment and other related industries. It will also, of course, require government approval to override social distancing or lockdown rules. Benn's plans were seemingly put on hold as the UK government's policies towards testing, track and trace, and social distancing kept shifting around.

Even if governments come on board with the newer plans, there are still plenty of uncertainties. While some are placing their hopes on technological solutions of this kind helping speed up a return to something more like a pre-COVID life, technology has not so far proven to be the golden solution many predicted early on in the pandemic. It remains to be seen if Ticketmaster's proposals can be put into the practice both effectively and ethically.


AFEM launches code of conduct to tackle sexual harassment in electronic music community
The Association For Electronic Music has launched a new code of conduct that seeks to tackle sexual harassment and gender discrimination within the electronic and dance music community.

The trade group says that, with the electronic music industry dominated by small to middle-sized businesses that often don't have formal human resource departments and policies, it hopes the new code of conduct can "begin the process of setting professional standards within electronic music for our members and wider industry to adopt".

The publication of the code follows increased debate about sexual harassment and assault within the electronic music world, mainly the result of accusations being made against a number of men working in the industry.

Launching the code of conduct yesterday, AFEM General Manager Greg Marshall said: "We want to bring about an electronic music culture where everyone involved feels safe, respected and free from sexual harassment and risk of assault, to ensure safe environments for fans and professionals and to advocate for a culture of support for victims of harassment and assault to ensure they are encouraged to come forward and feel they will be supported when they do".

Among the numerous organisations supporting the initiative is SheSaid.So, whose founder Andreea Magdalina says: "The code of conduct developed by AFEM is absolutely necessary. Our hope is that this document will dissipate any uncertainties in regards to the type of behaviour that should be encouraged or, conversely, penalised".

"For women and other gender minorities these lines are clearly distinct, although we understand the nuanced scenarios in which they take place and the necessary education required to reinforce them", she went on. "I welcome the code of conduct as a firm guideline that formalises the do's and don'ts of gender-based interaction in the electronic music workplace - whether that's online, in the office, the studio or on the dancefloor".

You can access the code here.


Graham Norton to depart BBC Radio 2
Graham Norton has announced that he is leaving BBC Radio 2, with his final broadcast on that station set to take place next month. He has presented his Saturday morning show there for ten years.

"Obviously I'm sad to be stepping away from my Radio 2 show", says Norton. "I'll miss being a part of the Wogan House family, as well as the listeners and their lives. I'd like to thank my producer Malcolm Prince and all the teams I've worked with for a great decade of radio. Happily with the chat show, Eurovision and 'Drag Race' the BBC continues to be my perfect TV home".

Head Of Radio 2, Helen Thomas, adds: "For the past decade, Graham has made Saturday mornings his own on Radio 2. His sparkling interviews, as well as his brilliant shows from the Eurovision host city each May, have kept millions of listeners entertained each week. On behalf of the Radio 2 listeners, and everyone in Wogan House, we'd like to thank him and wish him the very best of luck for the future".

Wogan House, by the way, is the building Radio 2 broadcasts from. Just in case that's not clear. Also, because I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned it, but please remember: Norton will continue to do loads of TV stuff at the Beeb. It's just radio he's had enough of. No announcement has yet been made about his replacement, but news may come before Norton's final Radio 2 show on 19 Dec.


Approved: Keeya
Having already firmly established herself as an exciting new talent with her 2019 debut single 'Bruk Out', Keeya has now returned with her first EP, 'Paradise', which broadens the view of the skills she has to offer. Working with producer Maestro The Baker she has crafted a collection of infectious and innovative R&B that hints that she still has plenty more to draw out of herself.

The release opens with its joyous title track, which she says is inspired by seeing new opportunities opened up for women in music. "Right now in music, I see women having fun again, and that makes me so happy", she says. "Women should have the space to be upfront about the things they like and the things they desire. As soon as we finished the demo it felt like a party. Everyone was dancing and vibing".

Elsewhere is 'I Got You', which shines with a message of positivity and empowerment in the face of hard times, although without simply falling back on generic platitudes. "It's about striving", she says. "It's about how we take care of each other. If nobody else got us, we got us".

The 'Paradise' EP is out now. New out this morning, you can watch the video for another of the EP's tracks, 'Faded', here.

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

Tom Vek releases new album, launches crowdfunding campaign for artwork-focussed digital music player
Tom Vek has surprise-released his first new album for six years, 'New Symbols'. At the same time, he's launched a crowdfunding campaign for a new kind of digital audio device, which returns album artwork to prominence alongside the music.

As always, the new record is produced and entirely performed by Vek himself. It's also his first self-released album. Aiming to provide a tonic to these times - and in contrast to his previous LP, 'Luck' - the new album offers nothing but positivity. With songs covering getting through hard times, being grateful for what you have and going easy on yourself, say the press release, Vek is "encouraging us to look for new symbols of happiness".

Alongside the album comes Vek's new digital audio player, the physical manifestation of his Sleevenote smartphone app, which aims to rekindle the combination of music and artwork in the album format. A "visual hi-fi", as he describes it.

Featuring a square 7.5 inch high definition screen, it will be compatible with downloaded music and streaming services, displaying a record's artwork as it is played. Priced at £533, the new player requires 1000 backers on Indiegogo to become a reality.

A graphic designer as well as musician, Vek has long spoken about his disappointment of the treatment of artwork in the digital age - prompting him to launch the Sleevenote app several years ago.

"I was designing the packaging for my second album ['Leisure Seizure'] in 2011 and realised that there would be people buying the album digitally who wouldn't be seeing this extra cool stuff I was adding to the experience", he told CMU in 2016. "Packaging was always what made albums real rather than just demos to me".

"I've been pretty shocked how poorly treated the album as a package has been [by digital music services]", he went on. "I think I expected Apple with their tasteful approach to most things to have done it better ... I feel like it's late, but will never be too late to create a compelling digital format that makes something feel more owned, even emotionally more so than literally. I say this freely – the vinyl revival should make digital music feel ashamed of itself. That's our benchmark, it needs to be better than vinyl".

If you agree, then this new audio player could be for you. And you can listen to 'New Symbols' as you put your money into bringing it to life. Find out more about the Sleevenote player and how to back the project here. You have until 11 Dec.

Meanwhile, here's the new album's opening track 'Survive'.



Round Hill Music has said more about its previously announced IPO, which will see Round Hill Music Royalty Fund Ltd list on the London Stock Exchange tomorrow. The music rights firm says it "has successfully raised gross proceeds of $282 million pursuant to the placing and offer for subscription of its ordinary shares". Fun times. CEO Josh Gruss adds: "This marks the next stage in Round Hill's development in London, a market with sophisticated investors that understand music royalties and the potential from this asset class".



If you want people to watch a thing, you should put Jon Hamm in it. I think this old adage is still true. I guess the way to test it out is to see if you click on this link to the new Eels video.

Haim have released new song 'Feel The Thunder', taken from the soundtrack of upcoming movie 'The Croods: A New Age'.

Loyle Carner is back with his first single of 2020, the Madlib-produced 'Yesterday'. "I wrote this almost two years ago, but at first had trouble with clearing the sample and thought it would never see the light of day", says Carner. "It's really just about what it is to be black and white, in a world where you pretty much have to be one or the other. It hurts the way I felt about my race back then is the same way I feel now. Nothing's changed since my last entry, nothing's changed since the last century".

AC/DC have released new single 'Realize'. Their new album, 'Power Up', is out on Friday.

Masego has released new track 'Mystery Lady', featuring Don Toliver. The vocal production on it is incredible, just so you know. His new EP, 'Studying Abroad', is out this Friday.

Alfie Templeman has released new single 'Shady'. "It's about trying to stay true to myself, doing what I wanna do in my life and trying to avoid all the arguments and shady people that come with it", he says. "No more negativity, more making sense of the past and enjoying what the present has to offer".

Keeley Forsyth has released new single 'Glass'. "I was contemplating my own repetitive movements", she says of writing the track. "Trying to break free from numbing routine, and using music as an escape. I needed to find a way to continue moving forwards". Her new EP, 'Photograph', is out on 20 Nov through The Leaf Label.

Chai have released a cover of Mariya Takeuchi's city pop classic 'Plastic Love'.

Baby Queen has released new single 'Online Dating'. She's also released the EP from which it is taken, 'Medicine'. Basically, if you want new Baby Queen music, there is plenty.

Pale Waves have released new single 'Changes'. They've also announced that their second album, 'Who Am I?', is out on 12 Feb 2021.

PG Lost have released new single 'Shelter'. New album 'Oscillate' is out on 20 Nov.

Somebody's Child has released new single 'Top Drawer Romance'. "'Top Drawer Romance' is the song that started this project in my bedroom three years ago", he says. "The top drawer reference is a metaphor to that messy relationship everyone goes to at some point in their life, which reminded me of the state of the top drawer of my bedside table in college at the time".



Lil Nas X is doing a gig in Roblox. Shut up, I shouldn't have to explain this to you. Get with the programme, Granddad. "We're throwing the biggest virtual concert of 2020, and I hope everybody in the world can come check it out,", he says. "I feel very lucky to be the first artist to ever do this on Roblox". Roblox users will be able to watch in the UK on Sunday afternoon, with pre-show stuff starting on Saturday evening.

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


Radio 1 announces Lockdown Awards
You know what they say: if you can think of something, there's an awards ceremony for it. That's a thing they say, isn't it? If you can think of a thing, there's almost certainly a thing 'they' have said about it. Anyway, the BBC has announced the launch of the very first - and hopefully very last - Radio 1 Lockdown Awards.

In a special edition of the Radio 1 breakfast show on 26 Nov, Greg James will look back at some of his favourite moments from 2020, with categories including Favourite Live Performance, Biggest Zoom Fail and Fitness Inspiration Of The Year.

The awards have been launched as a result of the cancellation of this year's Radio 1 Teen Awards, which, says the press release, "for over a decade ... has been the ultimate event at which to celebrate the nation's most-loved music, film, TV and sports stars". While I'm pretty sure that's not true, it does provide some justification for the Lockdown Awards, and I think that's all we're really looking for here, isn't it?

"I know what you're thinking", claims James, "'Oh great, another awards ceremony, just what we all need'. But actually, we've never been more reliant on nonsense to keep us going. It's basically a great opportunity to re-live some of the things that have made us laugh during this pig of a year".

Justification! Head Of Radio 1 Aled Haydn Jones adds: "In what has been an incredibly tough year for us all, many young people around the UK have found themselves facing new and previously unprecedented challenges. Although we always look forward to the Teen Awards, we hope the Radio 1 Lockdown Awards will provide a fitting alternative this year as Greg, with a little help from the listeners, helps us reflect on the past twelve months in true 'Radio 1 Breakfast' style".

I think these awards should get an award. And I should get an award. We should all get awards. Awards all round! Fuck you, 2020.


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.
[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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