TODAY'S TOP STORY: The live music and night-time sectors have criticised the new three-tier COVID restrictions for England announced by Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson yesterday, which come into force next week. Of particular concern is a restriction on alcohol sales in tier two... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Live and night-time industries criticise latest COVID rules for England
LEGAL Pirate Monitor hits back against YouTube in Content ID dispute
No one would confuse Reels with Reelz, says Instagram

DEALS Brazil-based Rocking Gorillas joins IMPEL
LIVE BUSINESS Ed Sheeran agent Jon Ollier unveils his new business
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING Circulate founders launch new management company Spike
ONE LINERS Unknown P, Marina, Gary Barlow, more
AND FINALLY... Does US government's annual anti-piracy report just promote piracy?
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Live and night-time industries criticise latest COVID rules for England
The live music and night-time sectors have criticised the new three-tier COVID restrictions for England announced by Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson yesterday, which come into force next week. Of particular concern is a restriction on alcohol sales in tier two.

The current country-wide COVID lockdown in England ends next week and will be replaced by another three tier system, so that rules differ around the country depending on infection rates in each region. Although we don't yet know what tiers will apply where, it is thought more of the country could be in tiers two and three than before the current full-on lockdown went into force.

In tiers one and two, pubs, restaurants and venues will be able to re-open, albeit with social distancing rules still in place, reducing the available capacity for shows. As expected, the unpopular 10pm curfew is being axed, although last orders will still have to be taken at 10pm, with hospitality businesses actually closing an hour later. The Night Time Industries Association had already criticised the forced last orders rule before it was confirmed by Johnson yesterday.

However, the real controversy relates to additional alcohol restrictions in tier two. At that level businesses will only be able to sell alcohol for consumption on their premises providing it is accompanying by a "substantial meal". That, of course, is a big problem for those pubs where food sales are a small part of the business. But it's an even bigger problem for venues, where customers are much less likely to be seeking a "substantial meal", and most venues couldn't provide one even if they were.

Given that for many venues, especially smaller venues, alcohol sales are vital to make shows commercially viable - and, indeed, attractive to many ticket-buyers - that limitation is a major problem. It basically means venues based in tier two areas will be back in the frustrating position where they can technically stage socially distanced shows, but realistically cannot.

With that in mind, reps for the industry are calling for ticketed shows to be excluded from the tier two alcohol restrictions, so that basically buying a ticket is equated with buying a meal.

The Music Venue Trust said yesterday: "[We have] repeatedly detailed to the government that income within the grassroots [venues] sector derives 65% from wet sales and 35% from ticket sales. It is therefore not possible to deliver an economically viable event in this sector without the financial support provided by alcohol sales. In addition, 92% of grassroots music venues do not have the necessary facilities to provide substantial food".

"We applaud the government's intention to allow live music to resume where it can be safely delivered", it went on, and "we believe that this ambition can be delivered within the guidelines by identifying the purchase of a ticket as having equivalent intention by the consumer to the purchase of a meal. The consumption of food and the consumption of culture as the main purpose of an individual's behaviour could, and should, be treated equally".

"Failure to reach equivalency between food and culture on this issue results in a distorted market", the trade group added, "where an individual can choose to attend a restaurant, consuming as much alcohol as they wish prior to a gig, but upon arrival at the event cannot consume any alcohol at all. We believe therefore that common sense within the restrictions is the most likely route by which the public will understand and comply with them".

Those calls were echoed by Greg Parmley, CEO of the new live-sector wide trade group for the UK, LIVE. He told reporters: "It is hugely disappointing that the new tier system could lead to the closure of hundreds of small music venues up and down the country".

"More than 90% of small music venues cannot serve substantial meals", he went on, "and will be classed as being the same as a 'wet pub' and closed under tier two of the new system, despite people primarily being there to enjoy the music. We call on the government to make an exemption from those restrictions for ticketed artistic and cultural events in music venues in order to save them from closure at this crucial time".

Speaking for the wider night-time sector, NTIA boss Micheal Kill said the new COVID rules "show a complete lack of consideration and understanding of our sector" and "will have a catastrophic impact on thousands of businesses and jobs across the sector by the end of the year".

He went on: "For many business owners this is beyond ignorance. This is tantamount to systematically culling our industry with intent. The government has simply got this wrong. It is an appalling misjudgment. Our sector has worked incredibly hard alongside government departments to ensure that our businesses are 'COVID safe', only to be hit again with unworkable restrictions that have no evidence base".

While acknowledging the ongoing financial support available to help cover the wages of those employees unable to work because of COVID restrictions, Kill added: "Sadly many of these businesses will not survive to retain their staff and will suffer from a continuation of current extreme problems around cash fluidity, commercial rent debt and exit strategy. We can't help but feel that our industry is being sacrificed for other sectors to open during the festive period".


Pirate Monitor hits back against YouTube in Content ID dispute
Rights management company Pirate Monitor has hit back at YouTube, which accused the firm of dodgy dealing as part of an ongoing dispute over who should have access to the Google video site's Content ID platform.

Pirate Monitor teamed up with musician Maria Schneider earlier this year to sue YouTube over its systems for removing copyright-infringing content that is uploaded to the video site. YouTube, of course, has to have a takedown system in place via which copyright owners can get infringing content removed in order to qualify for safe harbour protection, so that it can't be held liable itself for the copyright infringement of its users.

As takedown systems go, YouTube's Content ID is pretty good. But not everyone has access to it. Which was the point of Pirate Monitor and Schneider's lawsuit. They argued that while Content ID goes beyond YouTube's legal obligations when it comes to takedowns, because only bigger rights-owners and aggregators have access to it, for smaller operators that's no help. And, they argued, the alternative system for manually issuing takedown requests against YouTube is not good enough.

In its response to that lawsuit, YouTube argued that Content ID is a powerful tool that allows users to block and monetise other people's videos, and therefore it has to be very careful who has access to it. Independent creators, it then said, could still access the platform by allying with a distributor or aggregator. Which, it added, Schneider has done, with her agent having generated revenues for the musician via the Content ID system.

As for Pirate Monitor, YouTube said, it was proof of why the Google company had to be careful of who had Content ID access. Because, it alleged, Pirate Monitor had been involved in some dodgy activities, which demonstrated why it couldn't be trusted to use Content ID responsibility.

That was all based on claims that, in a bid to prove it was a big enough concern to have Content ID access, Pirate Monitor had got third parties to set up various anonymous accounts on YouTube via which it uploaded snippets of films controlled by its own clients. It would then issue takedown requests against that content.

Given that when you upload content to YouTube you agree to terms covering copyright, that scheme, YouTube argued, meant Pirate Monitor and its agents were either "fraudulently claiming to have the rights to upload video clips to the anonymous channels, or falsely claiming that those clips infringed copyright and should be taken down".

But Pirate Monitor has denied those claims in new court papers, arguing that YouTube has failed to provide any evidence linking the rights management company to the anonymous channels where content it represents was uploaded.

"Under any pleading standard ... all of defendants' counterclaims fail because defendants have failed to adequately allege the relationship between Pirate Monitor and the unidentified individuals under rudimentary principles of agency", it says in its new legal filing.

"Defendants do not offer a single well-pleaded fact showing that any of the unidentified individuals were agents of Pirate Monitor acting in the course of and within the scope of their authority when they engaged in any of the actions alleged in defendants' counterclaims", it then adds.

With that in mind, Pirate Monitor wants the court to dismiss YouTube's counterclaim in this dispute entirely.


No one would confuse Reels with Reelz, says Instagram
Although the brands Reels and Reelz are "arguably similar", Facebook concedes, no one would ever confuse Instagram's newish music syncing tool Reelz and the US cable TV channel Reels. Ah fuck, I just confused them! Sorry! I mean, no one would ever confuse Instagram's newish music syncing tool Reels and the US cable TV channel Reelz.

The owner of the Reelz TV channel sued Instagram owner Facebook in August, shortly after the TikTok-esque music syncing service Reels was rolled out on the Instagram app after a pilot in Brazil. The Hubbard Media Group said that Instagram's use of the Reels brand is "likely to confuse consumers" and "will completely swamp the distinctive brand identity that plaintiffs have built up for their own, pre-existing 'Reelz' media services".

Not so, said Facebook in a legal filing last week. After all, Facebook itself wouldn't want anyone to confuse its "fun, creative and social-connection oriented" Instagram Reels feature with all the tawdry "celebrity-scandal shows and documentary-style murder/crime shows" aired by Reelz. But no one will. So that's not a problem.

"The fun, creative, and social-connection oriented focus of the Instagram Reels feature", the social media giant said in its court papers, "is the antithesis of the dark, celebrity-scandal, and true-crime oriented focus of Reelz channel's television programming. Instagram therefore has no reason to invite confusion between the two services, and indeed, no confusion has occurred".

To prove its point, Facebook surveyed some real world people, and none of them were confused, it claimed. "People using the Instagram app on their phones who encounter a feature within the app called Reels for creating and editing videos will not think that it is associated with plaintiffs' television channel", the legal filing went on.

And, "consumers watching television through their subscription cable or satellite provider who encounter the Reelz channel network will not think it is associated with Instagram's social networking app".

With all that I mind, concluded Facebook, Hubbard Media's bid for a preliminary induction in its favour should definitely be denied, because "Instagram's survey evidence alone demonstrates that plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail on their claims".

We now await a response from Reels. Sorry, I mean Reelz. Nothing confusing going on here.


Brazil-based Rocking Gorillas joins IMPEL
Another company has allied with IMPEL, the organisation that negotiates direct deals in the digital domain on behalf of an assortment of independent music publishers. This time it's Brazil-based Rocking Gorillas, the most recent venture from music industry veteran John Telfer.

Having had a long career in artist management, recordings and publishing based out of both London and New York, Telfer set up his first company in Brazil in 2005, which he subsequently sold to BMG, resulting in a year spent as MD of BMG Brazil.

He then launched Rocking Gorillas in 2018, acting as a sub-publisher for various US and UK companies in the market as well as signing songwriting talent directly.

Confirming that company was allying with IMPEL on its digital licensing, Telfer says he was initially intrigued about the indie licensing consortium because "many of its founders - the likes of Annette Barrett and Mike Box at Reservoir, Simon Platz at Bucks and Andy Heath at Beggars Music – are all my contemporaries, and are people I like and respect".

The "deciding factor", for joining, he adds, "was meeting CEO Sarah Williams, who has a deep knowledge and understanding of our evolving world - along with genuine likeability! We are very happy about becoming part of IMPEL and intend to be a very active member".

The there mentioned Williams says: "It's great news for IMPEL that our membership network is now reaching into Brazil. This adds breadth to our licensed repertoire and brings another highly-experienced publisher into the IMPEL fold. I know John's perspective will be extremely valuable to us, and we look forward to working with him and his team to drive up income for Rocking Gorillas and their writers".


Ed Sheeran agent Jon Ollier unveils his new business
Booking agent Jon Ollier, whose roster includes Ed Sheeran, has unveiled more details about the new independent agency he is launching, which will be called One Fiinix Live.

Ollier announced last month that he was departing CAA, the talent agency where he'd been based for nearly six years. He will be joined at One Fiinix Live by his CAA colleague Emma Davis, and will launch with his existing roster of artists, which also includes Anne-Marie, Lauv, 2Cellos and JC Stewart.

Formally launching his new business, Ollier said: "After almost six years at CAA, where I learned a huge amount from some inspirational colleagues, I felt it was time to launch my own venture and realise the vision I had for a forward-thinking, innovative agency that could empower artists and help them reach new audiences".

Booking and talent agencies have faced huge challenges this year, of course, because of the COVID shutdown. And one long-term outcome of the pandemic, when it comes to this strand of the music industry, will be an increasingly competitive marketplace.

After years of market consolidation, where many independent agencies merged with the big US talent firms, a number of new independent businesses have launched in recent months, some by agents made redundant by the big agencies, and others by agents who see all the shifts currently occurring in the live sector as, ultimately, an opportunity

The latter group includes Ollier. "It may seem counter-intuitive", he added when announcing One Fiinix Live, "but I think this is uniquely good time to launch a new business as we enter the next phase for live music. There will be huge opportunities as we create new ways of thinking and I believe One Fiinix Live is poised to play a leading role in that positive disruption".

"We are keen to turn the current challenges we are all facing into possibilities", he concluded, "and I encourage anyone who feels they have the same kind of mindset to reach out; now is the time to embrace the change".


Circulate founders launch new management company Spike
Irish artist managers David De Valera and Marcus O'Sullivan have announced the launch of a new management company and music consultancy called Spike, which will work right alongside the Dublin-based digital marketing agency the duo already run called Circulate.

The link between Spike and Circulate is key as De Valera and O'Sullivan say their new management business will embrace the ever-evolving and expanding role of the artist manager, in particular when it comes to things like digital strategy, digital marketing and content creation.

Those things are now services managers might need to offer as artists seek more control over their recordings - changing the artist/label relationship - and with the increasing need to create engaging marketing content on a constant basis, rather than just around album releases.

De Valera says: "The game has changed and artists now want - and deserve - much closer control of their music and how it's released. With Spike we're giving our artists the tools to maintain that control and to flourish. The time from music creation to music release is minimal, because we provide everything the artist needs in house".

"We see this as a unique approach to artist development", he adds. "From digital strategy to web development and content creation, we're removing the barriers so our artists can move faster".

The new company will have bases in Dublin, London and Amsterdam.


Approved: Albertine Sarges
An ode to true friendship and acceptance, Albertine Sarges' latest single 'The Girls' carries on where its excellent predecessor 'Free Today' left off.

Carried along by its rolling guitar riff and lifted to a triumphant finish with a well-placed flute solo, it leaves little doubt that her debut album, 'The Sticky Fingers', is going to be very special.

"My friend Harriet Rabe stood all night at the highest point of Helsinki and sent messages in Morse to the sea", she says. "She worked symbolic performances in the frame of art school"

"In that time we both got in touch for the first time with queer feminist circles and started to explore new ways of being ourselves", she goes on, "We spent midsummer in Finland. The eagerness, the picnics, butterflies at night. 'The Girls' is the soundtrack to those moments when you really trust someone. It is also an expression of curiosity. What if we sank in deeper - into the wide apricot sky?"

'The Sticky Fingers' is set for release through Moshi Moshi on 29 Jan 2021. Watch the video for 'The Girls' here.

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


Comedian Munya Chawawa has signed a deal with Warner's Atlantic Records to release music as his "posh drill rapper" alter-ego Unknown P. "Two years of sketches, one 'Fire In The Booth' and a few middle class bars later, and here we are", he says. "I'm so grateful and deffo cracking open a Shloer tonight".

Concord Music Publishing has announced a new joint venture with award-winning songwriter Hillary Lindsey called Hang Your Hat Music, which will seek to sign and work with new songwriting talent. The Nashville-based joint venture will be run by Jake Gear - who previously worked with Lindsey while at BMG - and its first signing is Chris La Corte.

Booking agency K2 has added Bullet For My Valentine to its roster. "I have admired Bullet for many years and I am honoured to be chosen to represent such an iconic British band", says agency founder John Jackson.

Frauds have announced that they have signed to Alcopop! Records for the release of their second album 'Long Spoons' next year. Here's new single, 'Copenhagen'.



Sony/ATV UK has promoted Sarah Lockhart to the role of Heart Of A&R. Lockhart is "a born leader, a passionate A&R and one the hardest workers I know", says her boss David Ventura.

Independent music company West One Music has announced the appointment of Dej Mahoney as the firm's Non-Executive Chairman. CEO Edwin Cox says Mahoney's "formidable experience adds significant support to the board and will help guide us, with healthy objectivity and appropriate distance from day-to-day operations".

The Official Charts Company has promoted Chris Austin to the role of Operations Director. "Since joining us almost ten years ago, Chris has become a key player for the Official Charts Company - he is a natural team player, a highly skilled executive and instinctive leader", says OCC boss Martin Talbot.



Marina has announced that each of her upcoming single releases will be accompanied by a physical zine, featuring "essays, artwork, photography, poetry" and more.

Gary Barlow has released the video for 'Invincible'. His new solo album, 'Music Make By Humans', is out this week.

King Princess is back with new single 'Pain'.

Perfume Genius has released the video for 'Some Dream', from his 'Set My Heart On Fire Immediately' album.

Soho Rezanejad has released new single 'Sleepless Solitude'. Her new album 'Perform And Surrender' is out on 4 Dec.

FEMM have released the video for 'Peach' from their '404 Not Found' EP.

Sen Morimoto has released the video for 'Daytime But Darker' from his eponymous debt album.



Courtney Barnett has announced a livestream performance, set to take place on 17 Dec. Tickets go on sale on Thursday here.

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


Does US government's annual anti-piracy report just promote piracy?
A former criminal defence practitioner in the US has written to the US Trade Representative regarding its annual notorious markets report arguing that said report is actually counter-productive, in that it mainly provides a useful directory of all the piracy websites people might want to check out.

There are actually two elements to the annual intellectual property report put together by the office of the US Trade Representative. The first outlines which countries have work to do regarding the protection of intellectual property rights, and the second lists those piracy websites (or similar) that are causing most concerns to the IP-owing companies of America.

The idea is that it allows the US government to put pressure on foreign governments to crack down on piracy in general and certain piracy sites specifically. And to that end, trade groups repping copyright industries, like the music industry, make submissions about their current top piracy gripes as the annual report is put together.

However, Las Vegas-based Daniel Lee - who says he is mainly writing to the USTR as a "concerned taxpayer" - reckons that all the work that goes into compiling the notorious markets report is not a good use of government time or taxpayer money. Nor does it help American copyright owners, because it actually provides free promotion for the piracy sites that get listed in it.

Each year, Lee writes in his letter, published by Torrentfreak, the list of top piracy sites published by the USTR gets media attention, giving all the sites contained in that list more exposure.

Given how few of the listed sites actually get shut down - and when they are, it's usually because of legal action by rights owners in other countries, not because it appeared in the USTR report - "at best these lists have had little to no effect for taxpayer money ... and at worst they have actually promoted the very sites they purport to attempt to take down".

"At a time when COVID and years of trade war have decimated the American economy", he adds, "it seems particularly absurd for the American taxpayer to take up such frivolous expenditures particularly when [IP owners] can easily submit legally compliant requests overseas instead".

It's unlikely Lee's complaint will result in the USTR abandoning its notorious markets reports. But at least, by us reporting on his letter, we've helped promote the fact that said report doubles up as annual directory of piracy services to anyone who hadn't worked that out yet. So that's fun.


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.
[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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