TODAY'S TOP STORY: The battle for control of South Korea's SM Entertainment has entered a whole new phase, with internet firm Kakao making a new offer to buy shares in the business with the aim of securing 39.9% of the company's stock... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES South Korean internet firm Kakao announces new bid to acquire nearly 40% of SM Entertainment
LIVE BUSINESS Primary Talent becomes an independent agency again
Bluesfest promoter issues statement about second controversy to hit 2023 edition
North London councillor "disappointed" fifth Beyonce show announced at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium without licence in place
RELEASES Anna announces ambient album
GIGS & FESTIVALS Yard Act announce Leeds residency with stand-up supports
ONE LINERS Loyle Carner, Sleaford Mods, Rough Trade Publishing, more
AND FINALLY... Greatest Hits Radio moves Top Ten At Ten to 9am to accommodate big hire Ken Bruce
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South Korean internet firm Kakao announces new bid to acquire nearly 40% of SM Entertainment
The battle for control of South Korea's SM Entertainment has entered a whole new phase, with internet firm Kakao making a new offer to buy shares in the business with the aim of securing 39.9% of the company's stock.

Kakao - which has its own entertainment business and operates the streaming service Melon - previously agreed a deal with the management of SM to buy newly issued shares that would constitute 9% of the company. That deal, SM bosses said, would facilitate ambitious plans to revamp the business, plans they have dubbed SM 3.0.

However, that deal was opposed by SM's founder and until recently biggest shareholder Lee Soo-man. He sought to block the issuing of any new shares through the courts, while also bringing in rival Korean music firm Hybe - best known as the home of BTS - as an alternative partner for SM.

Lee sold most of his SM shares to Hybe, giving the latter a 14.8% stake in the business. It then announced its intent to buy more SM shares in a bid to boost its shareholding to 40%. Hybe also ultimately hit out at the deal with Kakao, claiming that it wasn't in the best interest of SM's other shareholders.

The SM/Kakao deal then collapsed yesterday following a court ruling last week, in which the Eastern District Court in Seoul basically sided with Lee, blocking the issuing and sale of the new shares to Kakao. SM management then confirmed yesterday that its proposed deal with the internet firm had been cancelled.

Shortly after that, Kakao announced that it was now in the market to buy up existing SM shares. It actually already has a 4.9% stake, and is now looking to acquire another 35%, taking its total stake in SM up to 39.9%.

So, Kakao is basically now trying to beat Hybe at its own game, and is offering more money than Hybe to SM's existing shareholders. Some analysts are predicting that Kakao will win, because Hybe won't want to be drawn into a price war over SM shares.

That outcome would be good news for SM's current management team, which Kakao will seemingly back if it becomes the biggest shareholder in the company.

According to Korea JoongAng Daily, the internet firm said yesterday: "Kakao is strongly confident about the competitiveness of SM Entertainment's current board, employees and artists, and respects its new vision of SM 3.0, which is to ultimately get rid of factors that hinder the company's growth".

"Even after Kakao becomes the largest shareholder", it went on, "we plan to respect SM Entertainment's originality and support the company's independence in management. Based on an equal partnership, the two companies will create a powerful synergy to strengthen the competitiveness of K-culture".

Analyst Douglas Kim, who writes for Smartkarma, is quoted by Bloomberg as saying the probability of Hybe increasing its share offer to compete with Kakao is very low.

Instead, he says, he believes Kakao's share-buying bid will be successful, adding: "The minority shareholders of SM Entertainment are cheering on as its share price appreciation will be nearly 96% from end of 2022 to the tender offer price of 150,000 won".


Primary Talent becomes an independent agency again
Booking agency Primary Talent International is an independent business once again following a buyout led by CEO Matt Bates.

Primary Talent was acquired by rival agency ICM Partners in 2020, which was in turn bought by CAA in a deal that was announced in 2021 and completed last year. More recently, Bates worked with former ICM founding partner and COO Rick Levy to move Primary Talent back into independent ownership.

The all-new Primary Talent agency will be run by Bates as CEO and Managing Partner, with Levy continuing to advise the business as a board member.

Veteran agent Ben Winchester will also sit on the board, while other Primary Talent agents Laetitia Descouens, Sally Dunstone, Martje Kremers and Ed Sellers all become Partners of the revamped agency. LA-based Simon Clarkson will also work with the company.

Says Bates: "The pandemic changed the landscape of the music touring business, and we felt it was beneficial to return to our roots as the UK's largest independent music talent agency".

"Adding to the strength and experience of the original Primary agent team", he adds, "we are excited to bring aboard the next generation of talented agents to join as founding partners. In this new incarnation, Primary will be even better positioned to support the evolving careers of our artists and guide them wherever needed".


Bluesfest promoter issues statement about second controversy to hit 2023 edition
The organiser of Australian festival Bluesfest has commented on a second controversy that has popped up in relation to this year's edition of the event, having attempted to kill the first controversy by cancelling the booking of the artist that caused it.

That first controversy related to the inclusion of Sticky Fingers on the line-up for Bluesfest 2023. The Australian band's frontman Dylan Frost has been at the centre of a number of controversies in recent years, with accusations of racism, misogyny, transphobia and violence made against him a number of times between 2016 and 2018. Frost has denied some of the allegations, and put others down to alcohol abuse and mental health issues.

Their booking by Bluesfest caused a bunch of new criticism, including from other artists set to play the festival. So much so, both King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard and Sampa The Great announced that they were pulling out of the event, being unwilling to share the bill with Frost.

Bluesfest promoter Peter Noble initially defended the Sticky Fingers booking, insisting that Frost's bad conduct was in the past and that he deserved a second chance.

"They are a seriously great Australian band whose singer has had to overcome barriers that would have sidelined all but the most determined to continue to perform", Noble said. "Yes, he has transgressed in the past, but not for many years. I question why there is such an ongoing witch-hunt toward a man with a mental health disorder. A man who is attempting to grow and function in society".

Noble basically hasn't changed his position on Frost, even though last week he confirmed Sticky Fingers were not longer on the line-up for Bluesfest 2023.

He said in a statement: "Bluesfest cannot, sadly, continue to support Sticky Fingers by having them play our 2023 edition, and we apologise to those artists, sponsors and any others we involved in this matter through our mistaken belief that forgiveness and redemption are the rock on which our society is built".

"The narrative that they continue to deserve to be cancelled, as well as anyone who publicly supports them, is difficult to accept", he went on, "wherein a portion of society and media passes eternal judgment toward those, in this case, a diagnosed mentally ill person whom we feel doesn't deserve the continued public scrutiny he's being given".

"We thank everyone who has contacted us and advised their support in this matter", he added, "especially those suffering from a mental illness who feel they cannot have their illness supported in a manner whereby they feel included in society".

He then concluded: "Sticky Fingers has done so many good deeds that have never been reported, including building and funding recording studios and music education programmes in disadvantaged regional communities. We will now move on, put this behind us and continue to plan and present our best-ever edition of Bluesfest... proudly".

But don't be thinking that means there are now no ongoing Bluesfest controversies. Because, while still dealing with Sticky Fingers related criticism, Noble last month also found himself under fire from another set of artists that had been booked to play the 2023 edition of his festival.

However, those artists - including The Soul Rebels, GZA, Talib Kweli, and Big Freedia - weren't objecting to other bookings at the festival, but rather that they themselves had disappeared from the Bluesfest line-up, apparently without warning.

And, it transpired, that little group had been expecting to not only play Bluesfest on their trip from the US to Australia, but also some other shows produced by Bluesfest Touring.

"The tour of The Soul Rebels, GZA, Talib Kweli, and Big Freedia was cancelled by Peter Noble and Bluesfest in bad faith and in breach of contract", a management rep for The Soul Rebels told Double J last month. "The artists had fully executed signed contracts with Peter Noble and had already booked travel to Australia and were looking forward to returning to the country to perform for their fans".

Alluding to the other then still ongoing Bluesfest controversy, that spokesperson also added: "These are all black artists and Big Freedia is an LGBTQ icon. It appears the tour may have been replaced by other artists including Sticky Fingers. We are uncertain about who else on Bluesfest may have also been cancelled".

Noble immediately rejected the version of events as described by The Soul Rebels management, while insisting that their removal from his festival's line-up was entirely unrelated to the Sticky Fingers booking and subsequent fallout.

With the Soul Rebels dispute looking like it might be about to go legal, Noble issued a formal statement to Billboard on Friday, stating simply that: "The Soul Rebels contract was terminated because they did not comply with the contractual terms. By that, we mean, Soul Rebels, Big Freedia, GZA and Talib Kweli".

Bluesfest 2023 will take place from 6-10 Apr. We await with interest to see if any more dramas occur between now and then.


North London councillor "disappointed" fifth Beyonce show announced at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium without licence in place
A councillor for the North London borough of Haringey has said that she and her colleagues are "disappointed" that the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium booked in and announced a fifth Beyonce show for this summer, even though that takes the venue above the six concerts a year it is allowed to stage under its licence from Haringey Council.

The football stadium already has shows scheduled in for later this year from Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Wizkid. Two Beyonce shows at the venue were originally announced for May, with two more then added for early June. Then, a month ago, the fifth Beyonce show was announced.

All general admission tickets for the Beyonce shows have now sold out. But, with the stadium's standard licence only allowing six concerts a year, the venue is now having to secure a standalone special licence for the seventh show.

Haringey Councillor Dana Carlin is quoted by the Daily Star as saying about all this: "We value what Tottenham Hotspur bring to the local community and the benefits of having a world class multipurpose stadium in our borough. Welcoming global superstars, like Beyonce, will attract thousands of music fans and benefits our local businesses".

"However", she went on, "there is a planning process that needs to be followed. The stadium already has permission to host six music concerts per year and the impact on local residents has to be balanced against this. We are disappointed that we have got to this stage".

"Tottenham Hotspur have been advised that they must engage with the community, ward councillors and submit a planning application which the council will determine with an open mind", she added. "We will continue to advise and work with the club in order to resolve this issue".


Approved: Bad Dreems
With previous plans curtailed by the pandemic, Bad Dreems returned last year with a revitalised anger and urgency on the singles 'Mansfield 6.0' and 'Jack'. Now they're back with their first track of 2023, the incendiary 'See You Tomorrow', and have announced the release of new album 'Hoo Ha!' this spring.

'See You Tomorrow' is an intense stream of consciousness, which sees frontman Ben Marwe leaping around childhood memories, social observations, Russian history and quoting newsreaders. If the band ever lived up to their name, this is the track that does it.

"We're in this for the long haul, and we don't ever want to start going through the motions", says guitarist Alex Cameron. "Nor do we ever want to stop".

'Hoo Ha!' is set for release on 19 May. Watch the video for 'See You Tomorrow' here.

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

Anna announces ambient album
Anna - best known as a techno producer - has announced that she will release her first ambient electronic album, 'Intentions', this May.

"'Intentions' captures the purest longing for the universal power of love", she says. "It's borne out of a deep well of love that exists inside of me, and an enduring appreciation for all that we call 'life'".

The album will be her first for Mercury KX, with A&R Manager Cerys Weetch saying: "Anna's powerful story stopped us in our tracks. Another pandemic Zoom turned into a transformational experience and we had to work with her. She truly is a world-class composer, producer and musician and we've only scratched the surface of what artistry is yet to come".

The first track to be released from 'Intentions' is 'Receiving', a collaboration with ambient pioneer Laraaji. Watch the video here.


Yard Act announce Leeds residency with stand-up supports
Yard Act have announced a five night residency at the Brudenell Social Club in their hometown of Leeds. The shows in May will see them supported by stand-up comedians, including Harry Hill, Nish Kumar, Rose Matafeo and Lolly Adefope.

"Yard Act is all about entertainment", says frontman James Smith. "To be truly entertained, audiences need variety in their lives. Who needs to see more bands supporting more bands? Boring! Superstar stand-ups started showing up at shows last year. We made some friends. Why not bring them all to Leeds to hang out and create a week we'll never forget? We couldn't believe they all said yes, but they did. Honestly!"

Confirming some of that, Matafeo adds: "Emboldened by mid-Glastonbury courage, I approached James in a crowd waiting to see Little Simz to tell him how much I loved Yard Act. Who knew it would pay off this hard! I'm very excited to share the stage with one of my favourite bands".

Harry Hill also notes: "Yard Act made me cry - but once I'd got over the fee I jumped at the chance!"

Tickets for the shows will go on general sale on 10 Mar - including a gig on 8 May with a "secret special guest". Who could that be? Well, Jethro died, didn't he? So I'm all out of ideas. Book tickets and allow the wonder of anticipation to carry you.

Funny support for the other shows will come from the following…

9 May: Kish Kumar

10 May: Lolly Adefope

11 May: Harry Hill

12 May: Rose Matafeo



Sentric Music has agreed a deal to administer Rough Trade Publishing's catalogue worldwide. "We are immensely proud of the roster of artists and writers that we've built at RTP", says the company's Head Of A&R AJ Tobey. "Bringing Sentric's expertise in administration into the fold only makes us even more confident that we are offering our roster incredible service, across all aspects of publishing".

Ultra International Music Publishing and producer Diamond Pistols have announced a new joint venture that will see them launch new publishing company Hidden Gem. Its first signing is artist and songwriter Jutes. "I've been a fan of Jutes for years, and knew he was going to win the moment we got in the studio together for the first time", says Diamond Pistols. "I'm proud to now call him a friend and partner and couldn't ask for anyone better to start this next adventure with. Big shout out to my fam at Ultra Publishing for being the glue that helped make it all happen".

BDi Music has signed producer Lemonade Shoelace to a worldwide publishing deal. His debut EP 'Do Whatever Makes You Happy' is set for release on 28 Apr. "I am absolutely THRILLED to announce my publishing deal with BDi Music", he says. "To be part of a family run business is amazing for me, and I am in the hands of people that have a genuine appreciation for my music, which is very rewarding for me as an independent artist".



Dance music label and management company Material Music has announced three new appointments. Abi Bunce joins as Marketing Manager, Anna Murawski joins to head up Audience & Retail, and Charlotte De Vega has been promoted to Label Manager.



Sleaford Mods have released new single 'So Trendy', featuring Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. "Perry got in touch and said he wanted to work with us", says Jason Williamson. "He's a really cool guy and his back catalogue clearly speaks for itself, so we jumped at it, and 'So Trendy' grew from there".

Jenny Lewis has released the video for her song 'Puppy And A Truck', which features a little cameo from that Harry Styles. The video also features footage from Lewis's run of dates supporting Styles in the US in 2020.

SBTRKT will release new album 'The Rat Road' on 5 May. New single 'Waiting', featuring Teezo Touchdown, is out now. "This album has been my most sonically ambitious record to create - following my own musical path - which isn't based on others' perceptions of what SBTRKT should be", says the producer.

Felicita has released new single 'Riff Raff', featuring OhEm.



Loyle Carner will livestream the final show of his latest tour from Wembley Arena on 16 Mar. Tickets are on sale here.

Funeral For A Friend will mark the 20th anniversary of their debut album 'Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation' with UK tour dates in October. The run will finish with a show at the Roundhouse in London on 15 Oct. Tickets go on sale on 10 Mar.

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


Greatest Hits Radio moves Top Ten At Ten to 9am to accommodate big hire Ken Bruce
Bauer's Greatest Hits Radio has announced that the Top Ten At Ten that it airs each morning will be shifting to 9am from next month which, I mean, that doesn't really work does it? Top Nine At Nine surely.

GHR currently airs a Top Ten At Ten at 10am and 10pm each day. You're meant to listen and guess what year it comes from. It's not an especially original feature in radio land, but then, when you're a nostalgia station, why would you do anything original?

However, next month that Ken Bruce is joining GHR to entertain everyone who is feeling nostalgic for the way Radio 2 used to be all the way back last week.

His new show will start at 10am and he is bringing his own quiz with him from the Beeb, that being PopMaster which, tradition apparently dictates, has to air at 10.30am. Which means big hire Bruce can't be expected to take on the GHR's existing 10am feature.

So what the fuck to do about the Top Ten At Ten? That's the challenge the bigwigs at GHR had to figure out. I mean, move it to 9am, that's easy. But, The Top Ten At Nine? No, no, no, that simply won't work.

But worry not people, the bigwigs have a solution. The 9am version of the Top Ten At Ten will become the Top Ten Til Ken. "See what we did there?", GHR asked when announcing that change on its website.

Yes, we see what you did there. We're not saying that we like it, or accept it, or approve it, or welcome it, or respect it, or countenance it, or commend it, or condone it, or endorse it, or sanction it, but we have to admit, we see it.


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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