TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Music Venue Trust announced on Friday that the board of Music Venue Properties - the entity set up as part of its Own Our Venues initiative - has voted to "move ahead with modelling the purchase of the first set of grassroots music venues"... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Own Our Venues initiative to move onto venue-buying phase, MVT confirms
LABELS & PUBLISHERS SM Entertainment appoints new CEO after Kakao wins battle for control
Mike Smith steps down and Emily Stephenson moves up in Downtown executive rejig
LIVE BUSINESS NTIA accuses UK government of intentionally seeking to "shut down dancefloors"
MSG Entertainment finalises plan to split company into two
MEDIA BBC appoints former ITN boss to oversee review of social media guidance
AND FINALLY... Footballers and musicians to play 'Budweiser bar games' in new YouTube series
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Own Our Venues initiative to move onto venue-buying phase, MVT confirms
The UK's Music Venue Trust announced on Friday that the board of Music Venue Properties - the entity set up as part of its Own Our Venues initiative - has voted to "move ahead with modelling the purchase of the first set of grassroots music venues".

MVT launched the Own Our Venues scheme last year, setting up MVP as a charitable community benefit society and seeking to raise money via that entity to buy the freeholds of buildings currently used by grassroots venues around the UK.

By having venues based in buildings owned by a society of that kind, MVT said at the time, the people and companies running those venues would benefit from lower rents and more long-term security, knowing that they had a landlord that existed to support live music, rather than to simply maximise its profits.

MVT said in a statement on Friday: "We are delighted to let you know that the Music Venue Properties board met today to consider the outcome of the Own Our Venues campaign and voted unanimously to move ahead with modelling the purchase of the first set of grassroots music venues".

"This means that the Own Our Venues campaign has successfully concluded with the creation of a funded and functioning charitable community benefit society", it went on.

"This community owned society will now forge ahead to deliver one of the primary long-term goals of MVT; radical change to the ownership of the UK's grassroots circuit to deliver stable, supported and ethically managed properties that provide long term security for Britain's fantastic venue operators".

As of Thursday, the Own Our Venues campaign had raised £2,318,210 from 1261 individual investors. Although less than the scheme's original target, MVT said: "In the face of extraordinary times for the economy and the political life of the nation, this is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates once again that the music community believes passionately in the importance of these vital spaces for artists and audiences".

Commenting on that announcement, MVT CEO Mark Davyd said: "MVT has a motto: 'People who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of the people doing it'. I am immensely proud of my team for once again proving that the grassroots community are the people who can get it done".

"I would especially like to single out Matt Otridge, who has steered this project through incredibly turbulent times to a fantastic conclusion", he added. "Without Matt's dedicated work across the last ten months this simply would not have been possible".

Artist and MVP board member Rhoda Dhakar added: "Today I'm so happy because we're at the beginning of a beautiful partnership between all of you who love seeing live music in grassroots venues and all of us who play in and run those venues".

"MVP has raised the money to make a start on a new ownership model creating permanent homes for live music, no longer relying on the temporary benevolence of commercial landlords", she went on. "It's a model we want to roll out across the country, stabilising this sector in perpetuity! Let's go!"

MVP says it will now write to all of its investors before 17 Apr with a "clear modelled plan" to start the purchase of venue properties. It then aims to acquire its first venues in the next few months.


SM Entertainment appoints new CEO after Kakao wins battle for control
South Korea's SM Entertainment appointed a new CEO on Friday following the recent battle for control of the K-pop powerhouse.

A new board of directors and new CEO were appointed following confirmation earlier last week that South Korean internet firm Kakao now has a 40% controlling stake in the SM business.

The K-pop company's management team supported an alliance with Kakao, but its founder and until recently largest shareholder Lee Soo-man did not. He tried, ultimately unsuccessfully, to orchestrate an alliance between SM and rival K-pop outfit Hybe instead.

With Kakao now in control of the company and a new board in place, Lee's influence over SM is pretty much over. He hadn't had a formal role there for some time, but still had lots of influence over the business as its biggest shareholder.

He also continued to receive significant production fees until last year. Both his ongoing influence and those production fees became somewhat controversial.

Lee's nephew Lee Sung-soo was co-CEO of SM, although he supported the Kakao partnership. He is now standing down to allow a new era to begin at the company, which will see the full implementation of a new strategy that is dubbed SM 3.0.

The new CEO is Jang Cheol-hyuk, who joined SM as CFO last year. "Having been at the centre of the SM 3.0 transition drive coupled with his track record", an official statement said, "the board found him the right person to effectively respond to the rapidly changing domestic and international market environment and faithfully implement mid- to long-term corporate strategies".

Jang himself added: "I feel a great responsibility to assume the position as a CEO when SM is about to take a big leap forward with SM 3.0. We will establish [a] transparent governance structure and faithfully implement the SM 3.0 strategy, so that SM can become a fan- and shareholder-centered global entertainment leader while continuing to communicate closely with our artists, fans, shareholders and employees".

Although Lee Soo-man sold most of his SM shares to Hybe as part of his bid to stop the Kakao alliance, he still owns around 3% of the company. Hybe also retains an 8.8% stake, despite it trying to offload all of the SM shares it bought to Kakao.


Mike Smith steps down and Emily Stephenson moves up in Downtown executive rejig
Downtown Music Holdings last week announced a rejig within its top team which sees Mike Smith stand down as Global President of Downtown Music Services, and Emily Stephenson promoted to President of the company's music publishing operations.

Confirming his departure, Smith says: "It has been my pleasure and privilege to lead Downtown Music Services through a significant period of restructuring and realignment that has seen it become a global leader in artist services".

That restructuring and realignment included Downtown's decision to sell its more traditional music publishing business in 2021, putting the focus on the company's divisions that provide services to artists, songwriters and other music rights companies.

"I have been very fortunate during my time at the company to work with a team of highly passionate, creative and artist-focused people and with many inspiring artists, labels and music publishers", he goes on.

"After nearly 40 years at the coal face of the UK music industry", he adds, "I have decided to take some time away from the day-to-day business of music to refocus my energies into a number of personal, creative projects and to devote more of my time to the charitable work that is so close to my heart".

In her new role, Stephenson will oversee all of Downtown's publishing activities and businesses, which includes Downtown Music Publishing, Songtrust and Sheer. She will report into Downtown Music President Pieter Van Rijn.

She says: "Thanks to Mike's fantastic leadership over the past three years, Downtown's publishing divisions are in a great position to align our efforts and maximise revenue for our clients, whether they use Downtown Music Publishing, Songtrust or Sheer".

"This unified approach", she continues, "means that Downtown can offer the industry's leading publishing services both at scale and in-depth, working more closely with our current and future clients at every stage".

Commenting on all his, Van Rijn adds: "Emily is a proven leader and Downtown Publishing is excellent hands. Mike stewarded Downtown Music Services through a period of great change and leaves it as a global leader".

"Now, with Downtown's publishing companies aligned", he goes on, "we've created a powerful service offering that will maximise client revenue and present new opportunities to Downtown's client base".


NTIA accuses UK government of intentionally seeking to "shut down dancefloors"
The Night Time Industries Association has accused the UK government of intentionally seeking to "shut down dancefloors and stages across the country".

The trade group's latest criticism of the government was made as an energy relief scheme that was introduced last October came to an end. A replacement initiative offers a much lower level of support for businesses dealing with surging energy prices.

With clubs, venues and other night-time businesses still recovering from the COVID shutdown period and facing other economic challenges, the NTIA and other live music trade groups have been repeatedly calling for additional support from government.

"From today these businesses will be in for the fight of their lives", the NTIA said in a statement on Friday, "with the government energy relief scheme due to end. The national minimum wage is also due to increase from the 1 Apr and, with operating costs estimated to go up by over 100% over the coming months, the trading environment is becoming untenable".

"It is now becoming very clear", the statement continued, "that the government has spent the last three years intentionally trying to close nightclubs and venues, attempting to shut down dancefloors and stages across the country".

Noting the many challenges faced by venues and other night-time businesses, the NTIA went on: "With one nightclub lost every three days, just 870 nightclubs remain in the UK today, down from 1446 in 2019. When you step back and look at the journey and treatment of the industry ... you have to question why they have been treated so harshly by the government at such a critical time, given our considerable contributions to UK plc".

"These businesses contribute billions to HMRC and local authorities in taxation, but have seen very little support from the government in return", the statement continued. They are also playing a key role in the recovery of their respective local economies, it added, and have "a great importance within communities beyond the dancefloor".

NTIA boss Michael Kill said: "Nightclubs are a British institution, and are the bridge for many consumers to counter culture, a platform for artists new and old to perform and access audiences, for people to dance and socialise, supporting their physical, social and mental well-being".

"The current government has never recognised the value of this sector, and will continue to undermine its importance, as it did in the late 80s when the scene came together to fight for the 'freedom to dance'".

"Our European counterparts work hard to recognise the value and importance of clubs and venues and lead the way in support and true collaboration. While the UK sees one of its greatest exports as a burden on policing and local government".

"Over the coming months", he went on, "we will see the impacts of government inaction take hold, and many important night-time economy businesses will be lost".

"Intentionally shutting down our dancefloors, ignoring the immediate issue and accepting the losses is not an acceptable approach, and will have a considerable impact on the future of the sector, but will not be forgotten".

He then concluded: "It is inevitable that we will see a growing anger and frustration amongst the industry and supporters to take direct action, and we will be standing with them".


MSG Entertainment finalises plan to split company into two
US-based Madison Square Garden Entertainment last week finalised its grand plan to split the company into two separate entities.

Under that plan - first revealed last August, but since changed somewhat - there will be a new company called Sphere Entertainment Co which will own the MSG Networks sports broadcasting set-up, the Tao Group hospitality business, and the new fangled Sphere venue that MSG has been building in Las Vegas (and presumably the London version of that venue, if it ever goes ahead).

The second company will continue to be known as Madison Square Garden Entertainment, and will own the rest of the current firm's venues, including Madison Square Garden, and also its entertainment and sports booking business.

MSGE CEO James Dolan says: "With today's announcement, we are one step closer toward our goal of creating two distinct companies, each well positioned to generate long-term value for our shareholders".


BBC appoints former ITN boss to oversee review of social media guidance
The BBC has confirmed that the former CEO of commercial news broadcaster ITN, John Hardie, will lead a review of its official social media guidance for freelance on-air talent involved in programmes outside of news and current affairs.

The review is being undertaken in the wake of all the hoo haa that occurred after BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker criticised the UK government's migrant policies in a tweet, accusing ministers of using language about migrants that was "not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s".

The BBC initially removed Lineker from its 'Match Of The Day' programme on the basis the tweet breached the broadcaster's guidelines on impartiality. However, there was much debate as to whether that was the case, given Lineker - as a freelance sports presenter - is not subject to the same restrictions as someone working directly for the BBC news operation.

With most of the BBC's other sporting presenters coming out in support of their colleague, Lineker quickly returned to the airwaves. BBC boss Tim Davie then admitted there were "grey areas" in social media guidance that the BBC introduced for its freelancers back in 2020. To that end, a review of those guidelines would now take place, Davie added.

Hardie, who had stints at ITV and Disney before joining ITN, and was also chair of the Royal Television Society for more than five years during the 2010s, will now lead that the review. The assumption, presumably, is that he has a solid understanding of the TV and news industries, but - having never worked at the BBC himself - will have a more independent perspective.

"Under the review's terms of reference", the BBC says, Hardie "will look at the BBC's guidance covering 'individual use of social media', first published in October 2020, in relation to those working as on-air freelancers outside of news, current affairs and factual journalism".

"The review will consider how the BBC applies its guidance, considering the BBC's Charter commitments to both impartiality and freedom of expression. Future guidance must be easy to understand, practical and deliverable".

Confirming the appointment of Hardie to oversee the review, Davie adds: "The BBC has important commitments to both impartiality and to freedom of expression. We also have a commitment to those working with us, and for us, to be clear in what we expect from them".

"The social media guidance is crucial to achieving this, particularly in a fast-paced, ever- changing world of digital media", he goes on. "This review will ensure this guidance is clear, proportionate and appropriate - now and in the future."

Hardie himself says: "I am very pleased to have been asked to conduct this review. I approach the task with no preconceptions and an open mind. I look forward to hearing from a wide range of voices, from both inside and outside the BBC, as the work progresses".


CMU at Wide Days 2023
The Wide Days showcase festival and music conference returns to Edinburgh next week, and CMU will be along for the ride once again.

CMU's Chris Cooke will present a super speedy fifteen minute summary of all the key developments in the music business over the last twelve months, and will also pop up alongside Music Managers Forum CEO Annabella Coldrick to discuss the five key changes to the streaming business that the UK's Council Of Music Makers recently called for.

We will also record another live edition of CMU's Setlist podcast, with panellists appearing elsewhere in this year's Wide Days programme discussing the key music business developments during the week of the event.

The CMU sessions sit alongside a packed conference schedule, not to mention the showcases featuring loads of great artists.

Click here to find out more and buy your tickets. Use the special promo code CMU10 to get yourself at 10% discount on regular and platinum passes.

Footballers and musicians to play 'Budweiser bar games' in new YouTube series
OK, one for fans of football, music and beer now. That's a pretty big Venn diagram cross section, right? I mean, its one out of three for me, but I think I'm the weird one there.

The Premier League and Budweiser have announced 'Behind The Game', a series of YouTube videos in which footballers and musicians "partake in Budweiser bar games while discussing their careers and off-pitch interests, as well as the challenges and triumphs they have faced along the way".

And if that hasn't sold it to you, the Premier League and Budweiser both insist that this is an "authentic and engaging entertainment series". Has that hooked you in?

"I'm so excited for you all to see this show", says former footballer and 'Behind The Game' host Ian Wright. "It's been a privilege to get to know these talented footballers and musicians".

"When you've faced the same pressures, criticism, joys and moments of self-doubt as a person, and you find common ground in your experiences, you can get a lot from a conversation. Some of their bar game skills need some work, though!"

But which footballers and which music-makers? Well, the series will see the following sporty/musical pairings occur:

Callum Wilson / Kojey Radical
Alex Iwobi / Ezra Collective
Emiliano Martinez / Oriana Sabatini
Jarrod Bowen / Tinie Tempah
Michail Antonio / Ray Blk

Says Budweiser VP Todd Allen: "The Premier League is a world-class football league; our partnership allows us to further connect with key consumers and football fans across the globe".

"We are THRILLED to extend our partnership in a meaningful way that goes beyond traditional sponsorship", he adds. "This new series builds on our deep experience producing original content that connect our brand with culture, and we are excited to be at the forefront of sharing these stories".

But what does Premier League Chief Commercial Officer Will Brass think about all this? Well: "We are delighted to be working with Budweiser to deliver a new show to fans around the world, bringing footballers and musical icons together to share stories and talk about how they made it to where they are today".

"There is so much crossover between the worlds of football and music", he reckons, "and we are excited to show the stars of these films in a different light, with the conversations brought together perfectly by Ian Wright".

Lovely stuff. It'll all appear on the Premier League YouTube channel from 10 Apr.


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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