TODAY'S TOP STORY: Harry Styles has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit with the US courts seeking to stop the sale of unofficial merchandise by various online operators. Among other things he wants the court to order the likes of Amazon and eBay to stop allowing such operators to sell their counterfeit goods via their respective platforms... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Harry Styles goes legal over unofficial merch sellers
DEALS City Slang sign Sprints
LIVE BUSINESS Music Venue Trust hits out at government over new energy support scheme
ASM Global acquires talent-buying agency Madison Entertainment

MEDIA Bob Shennan announces BBC departure
RELEASES Everything But The Girl to release first album for 24 years
ONE LINERS Foo Fighters, M83, BRITs Week, more
AND FINALLY... U2 reimagine 40 of their songs for new companion album to Bono's memoir
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Harry Styles goes legal over unofficial merch sellers
Harry Styles has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit with the US courts seeking to stop the sale of unofficial merchandise by various online operators. Among other things he wants the court to order the likes of Amazon and eBay to stop allowing such operators to sell their counterfeit goods via their respective platforms.

"This action", the lawsuit begins, "has been filed by plaintiff to combat e-commerce store operators who trade upon plaintiff's reputation and goodwill by offering for sale and/or selling unauthorised and unlicensed products, including apparel and other merchandise, using infringing and counterfeit versions of plaintiff's federally registered trademarks".

"Defendants create e-commerce stores operating under one or more seller aliases that are advertising, offering for sale, and selling counterfeit products to unknowing consumers", the legal filing adds.

It's likely that each counterfeit seller is operating under multiple aliases, though it's hard to work out who the actual sellers are because, the lawsuit notes, "defendants attempt to avoid and mitigate liability by operating under one or more seller aliases to conceal both their identities and the full scope and interworking of their counterfeiting operation".

Team Styles reckons that the counterfeit sellers are likely operating out of China or other countries where it is hard to enforce trademark rights, or - at least - that's where they are sourcing their counterfeit goods from.

Obviously that possibly makes securing effective legal remedies through the American courts tricky, even though - Team Styles says - many of the sellers are specifically targeting US-based consumers. That said, if they could get a court order forcing the removal of those goods from key online marketplaces, that would be a good start.

Among other things the lawsuits requests an injunction ordering that "online marketplace platforms such as eBay, AliExpress, Alibaba, Amazon, Wish, Walmart, Etsy, and DHgate shall disable and cease displaying any advertisements used by or associated with defendants in connection with the sale of counterfeit and infringing goods using the Harry Styles trademarks".

The lawsuit concludes: "Plaintiff is forced to file this action to combat defendants' counterfeiting of its registered trademarks, as well as to protect unknowing consumers from purchasing counterfeit products over the internet. Plaintiff has been and continues to be irreparably damaged through consumer confusion, dilution, and tarnishment of its valuable trademarks as a result of defendants' actions and seeks injunctive and monetary relief".

And, in the meantime, Styles would prefer fans to only buy goods containing his name or image from officially endorsed sellers such as his own e-commerce set up.


City Slang sign Sprints
Sprints have signed to City Slang to release their debut album, which is about to be recorded. The Irish band previously released various tracks with Nice Swan Records, who are also their management team.

Confirming the new label deal, the band's Karla Chubb says: "Very excited to be joining the team at City Slang Records. We definitely feel like this is the right next step for us - our ambitions from the outset have always been simple and clear, make music and have fun while doing it".

"The support of City Slang will now afford us the privilege to do that and we could not be more amped", she goes on. "We've been quietly building momentum across the UK and Ireland and are excited to expand, explore and blow the roof off some new territories".

City Slang founder Christof Ellinghaus adds: "We are so THRILLED to welcome Dublin's own Sprints to City Slang! As the first Irish band on our label, we couldn't be more excited to have them on board".

"Karla and her lads have a wonderfully unique sound and energy", he continues, "and we can't wait for the world to hear the incredible debut album they are about to record. We are looking forward to being along for their journey and help them reach new heights".


Music Venue Trust hits out at government over new energy support scheme
The Music Venue Trust has joined other organisations representing the live music and night-time sectors in criticising the UK government's newly announced plans for providing support to businesses that are facing surging energy costs.

A new support programme will get going in April, replacing the existing scheme that was launched last October which introduced a government subsidised energy price cap covering business usage. The new programme offers significantly less support, replacing the price cap with a government subsidised discount for businesses.

There is, however, a version of that new programme which provides what the government calls a "substantially higher level of support" to businesses operating in certain specific sectors

Those are mainly industrial and manufacturing businesses that consume particularly high levels of energy in their operations, although libraries, museums, historical sites, and botanical and zoological gardens are also included. But not venues or hospitality businesses.

Alongside the announcement of the new scheme, Chancellor Of The Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has also written to energy sector regulator Ofgem summarising concerns that have been raised about how the business energy market in the UK operates, specifically mentioning the challenges faced by smaller businesses and hospitality businesses.

Noting that OfGem has already instigated a review of the market and the issues within in, Hunt urges the regulator to undertake that review with some urgency.

In his response to the new support programme, Music Venue Trust boss Mark Davyd expresses considerable frustration that Hunt acknowledges key issues in his letter to Ofgem but has basically ignored those issues in devising the new support scheme.

So, Hunt's letter to Ofgem references the issues that have been raised with the way the business energy market works in the UK - and the specific impact that has on smaller and hospitality businesses - but then at the same time he has excluded smaller hospitality businesses from the higher level of support the government will provide from April.

Davyd writes: "The challenges caused by energy bills to grassroots music venues is understood by Jeremy Hunt and the government to be so bad that he has been compelled to write to Ofgem asking that they take action and do something about it".

"That's good, something does need to be done, because the charges and conditions being forced upon the sector are absurd", Davyd adds. "The average increase in the sector is 278%. Demands are being made for excessive deposits, suppliers don't actually want to supply and frankly, there is no market. There is simply an expensive monopoly with extraordinary prices and conditions".

"However", he goes on, "apparently the same evidence that has caused Jeremy Hunt to send the letter to Ofgem laying out these issues was considered insufficient that it would cause him to include grassroots music venues within the specific support he subsequently announced".

"Venues, alongside the whole of hospitality, have been dumped into a general category of support that is so insufficient that it must inevitably result in permanent closures of venues. And we don't mean that the current venue operator will not be able to survive. We mean that whole buildings currently used for live music will become economically impossible to stage live music in, purely on the basis of the cost of the energy required".

"These two things appear to be in direct conflict", he continues, "creating a 'Schroedinger's Venue' which apparently cannot possibly afford these bills but also doesn't need help with them. We are therefore forced to conclude that whilst Jeremy Hunt fully accepts that these energy bills will close music venues, he is not prepared to do anything concrete about it... except send letters".

"Meanwhile, the package of supported industries includes libraries and museums, who have neither comparatively high energy bills nor a non-functioning energy market and the basis on which he seems to have made the decisions on what would and would not be included in a package of support from 1 Apr are, at best, highly unusual".

Davyd then notes Hunt's request that Ofgem complete its review of the business energy sector as soon as possible - and in time for the government's next budget statement - concluding that "we would strongly urge them to complete that work with sufficient expediency that the Chancellor can revisit the support in that budget and recognise that grassroots music venues should have been included within the exceptional support he has offered to libraries and museums".


ASM Global acquires talent-buying agency Madison Entertainment
Venue operator ASM Global has announced the acquisition of US-based Madison Entertainment, a company that specialises in booking talent for venues, festivals and other events.

Under the deal Madison - led by its founder Roger LeBlanc - will become a wholly owned business unit of ASM Global, continuing to book shows for its existing client base as well "dedicating personnel and resources to booking ASM Global managed arenas, theatres and amphitheaters".

Confirming the deal, ASM Global's EVP Of Arenas, Stadiums And Theatres, Doug Thornton, says: "We are delighted to have Roger and the Madison team join ASM Global. Having a team of talent buyers to assist our in-house bookers and general managers will add a new dimension to our ability to provide live music content within our managed venues while continuing to expand and grow the existing Madison client base".

Meanwhile, LeBlanc adds: "We chose to align with ASM Global because they are the market leader in venue management. We are excited about the opportunity to expand existing live music content throughout the extensive network of ASM Global facilities and look forward to great success exploring these opportunities with our many music industry partners and friends".


Bob Shennan announces BBC departure
Long-time BBC exec Bob Shennan - who previously headed up both music and radio operations at the broadcaster - has announced he is leaving the Corporation.

Shennan first joined the BBC all the way back in 1987 and he held a number of senior roles there over the decades, initially within BBC Sport, and later music and radio.

Along the way he was Controller of 5Live, Asian Network, Radio 2 and 6Music, before taking on the wider Director Of Music role in 2014, which was further expanded to Director Of Radio And Music in 2016. He became the BBC's overall Managing Director in April 2019, and was then appointed as Director Of Audio for BBC Studios last year.

According to Radio Today, BBC Director General Tim Davie informed his senior leadership team of Shennan's planned departure from the Corporation yesterday.

Davie said: "Bob has been an outstanding leader and a highly valued member of my team - I will miss his wise counsel, extensive knowledge and calm, collaborative approach. Please join me in wishing Bob all the best for the future".

Meanwhile Shennan himself said in an email to staff: "It has been a great privilege and enormous fun, but to quote Chris Evans it's time to find a new mountain to climb".

"The BBC has given me so many opportunities", he added. "Over 36 years I have had the privilege to run BBC Sport and Radio 5 Live, Radio 2, 6 Music and the Asian Network, as well as BBC Radio and BBC Music. I even got to sit for three years on the top table of the BBC as the Group Managing Director. I know I have been very lucky".

As for his next move, in a post on LinkedIn Shennan also added: "I'm really looking forward to my next chapter. More on that very shortly. Onwards and upwards..."


CMU Webinars: The Digital Dollar Debates
The CMU webinars return next week with a brand new three part series explaining the ins and outs of the ongoing economics of music streaming conversation. The second session in the series - on Monday 23 Jan - focuses on the all important digital pie debate.

Is the way streaming revenue gets shared out across the music community fair? Many people argue it is not and have proposed alternative approaches to slicing the digital pie, some of which involve changes to copyright law. This webinar explains each of the proposals.

You will learn about...
• How the digital pie is currently sliced.
• Proposed changes to track allocation.
• Proposed changes to revenue share splits.
• Proposed changes to artist remuneration.
• Recent developments – and what's coming next.

To sign up to this webinar or the full series - or to access recordings of last month's Music Business Trends 2022 series - click here.

Everything But The Girl to release first album for 24 years
Everything But The Girl have announced that they will release 'Fuse' - their first new album for nearly a quarter of a century - this spring.

"Ironically the finished sound of the new album was the last thing on our mind when we started in March 2021", says Tracey Thorn. "Of course, we were aware of the pressures of such a long-awaited comeback, so we tried to begin instead in a spirit of open-minded playfulness, uncertain of the direction, receptive to invention".

"It was exciting", adds Ben Watt. "A natural dynamism developed. We spoke in short-hand, and little looks, and co-wrote instinctively. It became more than the sum of our two selves. It just became Everything But The Girl on its own".

'Fuse' is set for release via Watt's Buzzin Fly Records on 21 Apr. Listen to first single 'Nothing Left To Lose' here.



Cindy Mabe has been announced as the new CEO of Universal Music Nashville, following the announcement earlier this week that current CEO Mike Dungan is to retire this spring. She will take up the post on 1 Apr. "Country music has been my life's passion", she says. "It's my childhood and my future. It's the heartbeat that speaks truth to all walks of life in the best and worst of times. It's truly a gift to get to honour, protect and build the next era of country music history with UMGN".

AEG Europe has appointed Sam Booth as Director Of Sustainability. "I am absolutely THRILLED to be joining the AEG Europe team", he says. "As leaders in their field, they understand the importance of taking a proactive role in introducing a sustainability strategy that sits at the heart of the business to drive the industry towards a more sustainable future, which is why I can't wait to get stuck in and be a part of it".

BMG has hired Stefan Lehmkuhl and Parker Tilghman (aka Pansy) to oversee the programming at Berlin's Theater Des Westens, which the music firm has booked out for two years in order to present a series of shows and concerts. "The appointment of Stefan and Pansy shows the extent of our ambition. Stefan is known for his creative booking and for producing events with visual flair and artistic integrity", says BMG Chief Content Officer Dominique Casimir. "With his help we will take the Theater Des Westens to an entirely new level and make it a premiere entertainment destination in Berlin".



M83 will release new album 'Fantasy' on 17 Mar. Here's first single 'Oceans Niagara'. "Listening to that song, I imagine people running, driving fast, or riding spaceships together", he says. "It's this sense of going forward, like a magic potion that you take to discover new worlds. Beyond adventure!"

Young Fathers have released new single 'Rice'. Their new album, 'Heavy Heavy', is out on 23 Feb.

Ezra Collective have released a reinterpretation of Fela Kuti's 'Lady'. The track will be released on seven-inch this Friday to mark the 50th anniversary of Kuti's 'Shakara' album. "From our very first gig we've been playing tribute to his music - to now be able to celebrate his legacy on a vinyl is a dream come true", says band leader Femi Koleoso. "The original remains unbeatable, but I hope this remix makes you dance as well".

Billy Nomates has released new single 'Vertigo', ahead of the release of her second album, 'Cacti', this Friday.

Kid Koala has released new single 'Once Upon A Time In The Northeast'. His new album, 'Creatures From The Late Afternoon' (and accompanying board game) is out on 14 Apr.

M(h)aol have released new single 'Therapy' and announced that they have signed a new deal with Rough Trade Publishing. Their debut album, 'Attachment Styles', is out on 3 Feb.

Holy Popes have released new single 'Jerry', taken from their eponymous debut album, which is out on 27 Jan.



Foo Fighters have announced that they will play the Boston Calling and Sonic Temple festivals in May, followed by Bonnaroo in June. These are the first performances announced since the band confirmed on New Year's Eve that they will continue after the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins.

The 1975 and Sugababes have been added to the line-up for BRITs Week next month, playing Gorilla in Manchester on 1 Feb and The Garage in London on 8 Feb respectively. The prize draw to win tickets is open now, and a limited number will go on general sale on Friday. Proceeds from the shows go to the charity War Child.

Morrissey will headline the Hammersmith Apollo in London on 19 Mar. Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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


U2 reimagine 40 of their songs for new companion album to Bono's memoir
U2 have announced that they are releasing a new album. News that will either fill you with joy or a sense of dread. Ditto the fact that it will have a tracklist of 40 songs. But if you prefer their earlier work, you might be pleased to know that the album will consist of new versions of songs from the band's back catalogue. Equally, you may not.

'Songs Of Surrender' is set to be a companion piece to Bono's memoir 'Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story', which tells his life story with 40 of the band's songs as a jumping off point.

News of the album was shared by guitarist The Edge in a handwritten letter sent to 40 fans, many of whom promptly posted it online without even asking him first.

"When a song becomes well known it's always associated with a particular voice", writes The Edge. "I can't think of 'Tangled Up In Blue' without the reedy timbre of Bob Dylan or 'All The Time In The World' without the unique voice of Louis Armstrong. So what happens when a voice develops and experience and maturity give it additional resonance?"

"U2 have been around long enough to know what that is like", he goes on. "It's true for us all, but it's particularly true for Bono. The fact is that most of our work was written and recorded when we were a bunch of very young men".

"Those songs mean something quite different to us now. Some have grown with us. Some we have outgrown. But we have not lost sight of what propelled us to write those songs in the first place. The essence of those songs is still in us, but how to reconnect with that essence when we have moved on, and grown so much?"

"Music allows you to time travel and so we started to imagine what it would be like to bring these songs back with us to the present day and give them the benefit, or otherwise, of a 21st Century re-imagining", he continues.

"What started as an experiment quickly became a personal obsession as so many early U2 songs yielded to a new interpretation", he writes further. "Intimacy replaced post-punk urgency. New keys. New chords. New tempos and new lyrics arrived".

"It turns out that great song is kind of indestructible. Once we surrendered our reverence for the original version each song started to open up to a new authentic voice of this time, of the people we are, and particularly the singer Bono has become".

"I hope you like our new direction", he concludes, eerily echoing Spinal Tap launching into 'Jazz Odyssey'.

Portions of some of these new versions can be heard in the audiobook version of Bono's memoir, and in the acknowledgements for the book he also noted that the band had been working on re-recording the songs mentioned in said book.

He wrote: "During lockdown we were able to reimagine 40 U2 tracks for the 'Songs Of Surrender' collection, which gave me a chance to live inside those songs again as I wrote this memoir. It also meant I could deal with something that's been nagging me for some time. The lyrics on a few songs that I've always felt were never quite written. They are now (I think)".

'Songs Of Surrender' is set for release on 17 Mar. Listen to a little bit of the new version of 'Beautiful Day' here.


ANDY MALT heads up our editorial operations, overseeing the CMU Dailywebsite and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE is co-Founder and MD of CMU - he continues to write key business news stories, and runs training, research and event projects for the CMU Insights consultancy unit and CMU:DIY future talent programme.
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SAM TAYLOR leads on the commerical side of CMU, overseeing sales, sponsorship and business development, as well as heading up training, research and event projects at our consultancy unit CMU Insights.
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CARO MOSES is Editor of CMU's sister media ThisWeek Culture and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh. Having previously also written and edited articles for CMU, she continues to advise and support our operations.
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