TODAY'S TOP STORY: A spokesperson for the company that operated Pollen has criticised a new BBC documentary about the collapse of the ticketing and events business last year, in particular disputing claims made in relation to an overcharge that occurred in the months prior to the collapse... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Pollen hits out at overcharge claims made in BBC documentary
LEGAL Man charged with assault after Bebe Rexha injured by thrown phone
LIVE BUSINESS Beyond Wonderland boss issues statement following shooting at festival
BRANDS & MERCH Warner Music confirms new boss for merch business EMP
MEDIA Global to cut back Gold output on AM
RELEASES Corinne Bailey Rae announces new album inspired by Theaster Gates archive
ONE LINERS Gucci Mane, Rick Astley, Fred Again, more
AND FINALLY... AI soundalikes platform WAVs AI scores $20 million investment
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Pollen hits out at overcharge claims made in BBC documentary
A spokesperson for the company that operated Pollen has criticised a new BBC documentary about the collapse of the ticketing and events business last year, in particular disputing claims made in relation to an overcharge that occurred in the months prior to the collapse.

The spokesperson has told CMU that the BBC is "mistaken" about some of the specific claims made in the programme, which was broadcast on BBC Three last night.

Among other things, the new documentary - called 'Crashed: $800m Festival Fail' - covers an incident in May last year when extra unauthorised charges were made to customers who had set up monthly payment plans for tickets to Pollen-managed events or experiences.

A BBC article accompanying the documentary says that the programme's makers have "seen a report into the incident written by former Pollen staff, which has never been shared with other employees. It suggests that the code responsible for taking the double or triple payments from customers was written and manually triggered by a Pollen employee".

That article then cites a rep for Pollen who told the BBC that the code that caused the unauthorised payments to be taken was implemented to fix a bug on the company's platform. The overcharge caused by the code then happened by mistake "due to an error made by a single employee who took responsibility at the time".

The BBC article references an internal document from Pollen that confirms an error was made, after which the Pollen rep is quoted as saying: "No person or company benefited from the mistake" and "all affected customers, other than those who chose to accept a $100 voucher, had their refunds initiated within fourteen days".

However, the BBC then states that it contacted 18,000 former Pollen customers and "of the 259 who responded, only ten said they had been partially or fully refunded for the incident".

It's that statement that Pollen has now specifically criticised, arguing that - when contacting those former customers - the BBC confused refunds due as a result of the overcharge with refunds that were due after the company fell into administration in August. The former went ahead without issue, Pollen insists.

The Pollen parent company was called Streetteam Software Limited. A spokesperson for that business and its associated companies tells CMU: "Regarding the overcharge - BBC Three are mistaken. The company accepts there was an overcharge, which was an error, admitted to at the time by the employee responsible".

"All customers were refunded or got a voucher; at their discretion", they go on. "The refunds being referred to in the BBC Three documentary were not related to the overcharge, but due to the company entering administration".

"When a company is unable to pay its debts, it enters administration", they explain. "However, tens of millions of dollars has been recovered for creditors and impacted customers through the administration process, and more money is still coming in through the sale of company assets".

"95% of customers whose events were due to go ahead post administration", the spokesperson adds, "have either been refunded or the event has taken place".


Man charged with assault after Bebe Rexha injured by thrown phone
A man has been arrested after Bebe Rexha was hit in the face by a mobile phone while performing on stage at The Rooftop in New York on Saturday night.

The incident resulted in Rexha requiring stitches above her left eye. Police have now confirmed that they have charged a man named Nicolas Malvagna from New Jersey on five counts relating to assault and harassment.

There has been a recent trend of audience members throwing their phones on stage at shows, often in the hope that the artist they are watching will take their daily BeReal photo for them. And Rexha is not the first to be hit by a phone while performing.

Of course, it is not always clear exactly why phones are launched out of the crowd, although police say that in this case, when Malvagna was arrested at the scene, he told a police officer: "I was trying to see if I could hit her with the phone at the end of the show because it would be funny".

In an Instagram post yesterday, Rexha shared photos of her injuries, assuring fans that she was "good". Her US tour is set to continue in Philadelphia tonight.


Beyond Wonderland boss issues statement following shooting at festival
Founder and CEO of Insomniac Events, Pasquale Rotella, has issued a statement following a shooting at the company's Beyond Wonderland festival in the US state of Washington at the weekend, which left two dead and three injured.

"This tragedy has affected me deeply", wrote Rotella in an Instagram post. "As the organiser of this event, my intention has always been to bring people together and celebrate our shared love of music and community. I am at a loss to understand how individuals can commit such heinous acts".

The incident took place in one of the camping areas at the dance music festival on Saturday evening, during the first day of the event, which takes place at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Grant County, Washington.

Detailing what happened, Rotella went on: "We know that the shooting took place in the furthest campground from The Gorge Amphitheatre, which is designated for overflow camping and located a half a mile outside the perimeter of the main festival grounds".

"It is our understanding that the incident stemmed from an isolated situation that escalated, leading the assailant to flee the area", he added. "An officer involved-shooting then occurred to neutralise the event".

Although the second day of the festival was cancelled, Rotella noted that "many have questioned why the [first day] continued during and after the incident". He explained that the decision to continue with the event had been made "at the request of law enforcement once it became evident that there was no ongoing threat to the safety of attendees".

"This was also done to ensure the majority of attendees stayed away from the campground area where the incident took place", he continued. "Our staff worked in close coordination with local authorities to secure the area, while also preserving it for investigators to conduct their work in a smaller, isolated section".

"Throughout 30 years of organising events, we have brought together millions of people without any incidents of this nature", he concluded.

"I hold a profound love for our community and deeply value the principles that define our culture. This incident stands in stark contrast to everything we stand for - it goes against the spirit of love, unity and respect we strive to foster within our community".

At a press conference, Kyle Foreman of the Grant County Sheriff's Office said that a person had fired "randomly" into crowds in the campsite before being apprehended. The incident remains under police investigation.


Warner Music confirms new boss for merch business EMP
Warner Music has announced that Jan Fischer has been appointed as CEO of EMP, the Germany-based merchandise and online retail business that the major acquired in 2018.

Fischer - who has been with EMP since 2013, as CFO and more recently also COO - takes over in the top job from Ernst Trapp, who announced he was standing down last month. The new CEO will report into LA-based Karl Walsh, who is Warner's Head Of Global Commerce.

Says Fischer: "It's a great honour for me to lead the remarkable team at EMP. Our sector is continuously changing and we need to ensure that we're adapting with it to operate at the heart of the relationship between creators and fans. We've taken steps to upgrade our systems and reboot our teams so that EMP can remain the market leader in this fast-growing sector".

Walsh adds: "I'm delighted that Jan has agreed to step up and take on the role of CEO. He has a deep understanding of the business and the amazing team at EMP. He's also played a key role in helping evolve the company and shares our strategy for driving future growth".


Global to cut back Gold output on AM
Global Radio has announced that it is turning off some of the AM transmitters used by its oldies station Gold.

The Gold station began life as Capital Gold back in the 1990s when commercial radio stations started broadcasting different services on their AM and FM frequencies.

The station subsequently expanded to other local AM frequencies that were operated by what was then the Capital Radio Group. Rival radio firm GWR was doing something similar with its AM frequencies using the brand Classic Gold. And after Capital and GWR merged, the two golden oldie radio brands became one, known simply as Gold.

The network of Gold stations was subsequently cut back somewhat when a bunch of its frequencies were switched over to Smooth Radio, which - like Gold - by that point was owned by Global Radio. However, the Gold service was then added to the national DAB network in 2019, as well as continuing to operate on a number of local AM and DAB channels.

But, it was confirmed last week, Gold's local AM transmissions in Cambridge, Peterborough, Derby, Nottingham and Northampton will all cease at the end of the month. Meaning it will only be available on the AM dial in Manchester and London.

A statement on Gold's website reads: "From 30 Jun, we'll no longer be available on AM in certain areas of the UK. So to continue listening in your area, you might need to re-tune your radio. You can keep listening to us on DAB digital radio, on Global Player, or by asking your smart speaker to 'Play Gold'".

Although it has taken a lot longer than some anticipated and/or hoped to move UK radio listeners off AM/FM and onto digital channels, a 2021 government report estimated that only 3% of radio listening now takes place on AM.

Given most AM services are also available through other channels, it's no surprise radio companies are keen to get rid of the cost of operating those AM transmissions.

That 2021 report noted: "In recent years, both the BBC and commercial radio have already switched off a number of AM transmitters in areas where AM listening was particularly low or significant investment was required to continue to broadcast AM, making continued transmission uneconomic".

"Given the steady decline in AM listening generally", it added, "further retirement of AM services and decommissioning of AM sites is likely to continue irrespective of any regulatory intervention".


Approved: Hoian
Hoian - aka producer and songwriter Zena Zerai - has just released her third single 'Waves', which builds further on the intriguing sonic pallets of predecessors 'In The Ring' and 'Dancing Bears'.

"I wrote this track when coming out of a difficult time", she says. "The track reflects my experience that our emotions aren't necessarily linear and that you can be great at one moment and suddenly struggle at another. But also knowing that if those feelings return, it will be easier if you lean on others for support".

First becoming a performer in her teens, regularly gigging around Merseyside, that side of Zerai's life went on hold when she moved to London for university and then work. It was when everything else went on hold during the pandemic that the music-making resumed - Zerai returning to songwriting and production during lockdown.

With more singles still to come before the end of the year, Hoian is definitely a project to watch closely.

Listen to 'Waves' here.

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

Corinne Bailey Rae announces new album inspired by Theaster Gates archive
Corinne Bailey Rae will release her first album since 2016 later this year. Several years in the making, 'Black Rainbows' is inspired by items collected by visual artist Theaster Gates at the Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago.

"I knew when I walked through those doors that my life had changed forever", says Bailey Rae. "Engaging with these archives and encountering Theaster Gates and his practice has changed how I think about myself as an artist and what the possibilities of my work can be. This music has come through seeing. Seeing has been like hearing, for me. While I was looking, songs/sounds appeared".

Gates' archive includes Frankie Knuckles' personal vinyl collection, more than 60,000 glass lantern slides, and a collection of books and periodicals donated by the Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines.

Alongside the album, Bailey Rae is also putting out a book titled 'Refraction/Reflection Of The Arts Bank', photographed by Koto Bolofo, plus there will be live performances, lectures, visuals and exhibitions as part of the wider project.

'Black Rainbows' is set for release on 15 Sep. Among the shows, Bailey Rae will play three nights at London's Ladbroke Hall on 25, 26 and 28 Oct. Right now, you can listen to first single 'New York Transit Queen'.



Gucci Mane will release new album 'A Breath Of Fresh Air' on 13 Oct. Out now is new single 'Bluffin', featuring Lil Baby.

Rick Astley has announced that he will release new album 'Are We There Yet?' on 6 Oct. "Now, that phrase has multiple meanings", he says of the title. "Are we there yet in my musical ambitions? Am I done with my career? Have we arrived? Or are we still travelling?" Out now is new single 'Dippin My Feet'. He will also play two nights at the Royal Albert Hall in London in November, followed by UK tour dates in February and March.

K-pop boyband NCT Dream have released new single 'Broken Melodies'. Their new album 'ISTJ' is out on 17 Jul.

((( O ))) will release new album '((( 4 )))' on 27 Aug. Out now is new single 'Sanctuary'. "This song explains the discovery of our ability to harness the power of our menstrual cycles as superpowers through our 'inner seasons'", she says. "It's about tuning into my own inner rhythms as our guide for unravelling the layers of album '((( 4 )))' for the rest of this year - finding solace and harmony, utilising the power of ritual and inner cycles as a portal to deeper connection and understanding".

Slowdive will release new album 'Everything Is Alive' on 1 Sep. Out now is lead single 'Kisses'. The band are set to play what is somehow their first ever Glastonbury performance this Sunday.

Samantha Urbani has released new single 'More Than A Feeling'. "I wrote the vocal to something an ex was playing, just in my head. It became this weird solo conversation, a one-sided collaboration", she says. "It sat on the back burner, but the emotion remained timeless enough to come back to. Years later I was falling in love, which was a cool and safe place to be, finishing a song about the opposite".

Kvelertak have released new single 'Skonggangr', taken from their new album 'Ending', which is out on 8 Sep. "It's a song about Helmut Von Botnlaus, whose life history and written records have inspired many of the lyrics on the album", say the band. "It all takes place in the heathlands and mountain area of the southwest coast of Norway, where Helmut was born. This is where he spent most of his secluded life, living off what the earth can provide him with while fighting anyone trying to destroy the surrounding nature".

Lauren Auder has announced that she will release her long-awaited debut album 'The Infinite Spine' on 21 Jul. Out now are two new tracks from it: 'Hawthorne81' and 'Atoms'.



Fred Again will play four nights at London's Alexandra Palace in September. Tickets go on sale on 27 Jun.

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


AI soundalikes platform WAVs AI scores $20 million investment
Finance firm Regal Investments last week announced it is pumping $20 million into a music AI platform called WAVs AI, which seems to mainly aggregate the kinds of AI-generated tracks that the music industry has been getting rather stressed about of late.

So while the official blurb encourages users to "listen to top songs by AI artists and connect with music lovers from all around the globe", the discovery tab on the WAVs AI site showcases tracks by soundalike AI artists including Draik, WKND, Ariana Granday, Freddie Mercurai and MJai.

And high up the recommendations list is 'Heart On My Sleeve', the AI-generated fake Drake and The Weeknd collaboration that sparked a lot of the recent industry chatter about tracks of this kind.

Given that the music industry is currently keen to crack down on the distribution of tracks created by AI tools that are trained with existing music without licence - and/or which feature vocals designed to sound like human artists without those artists' express permission - it's interesting that Regal is keen to pump so much money into the WAVs AI venture.

Equally interesting is a statement within the official announcement of the Regal investment that says that WAVs AI is "a rising star in the music tech scene making compromises with record labels and artists in the AI music revolution".

What those compromises involve isn't clear, though Regal Investments CEO Roble Regal says: "The music industry is on the cusp of a revolution, driven by advancements in artificial intelligence. I firmly believe that traditional music companies will be dethroned in the coming years by innovative AI-driven platforms".

"At Regal Investments", he goes on, "we are committed to identifying and supporting groundbreaking ventures that disrupt conventional norms. Our investment in WAVs AI reflects our determination to lead the way in this transformative era".

So that sounds like fun. WAVs AI spokesperson Tyler Herrera adds: "We are THRILLED to have Regal Investments as our strategic partner and investor. This significant investment will enable us to propel our mission of revolutionising the way people discover and engage with music".

"With Regal Investments' support", Herrera continues, "we will continue to strike deals with artists and record labels, broaden our user base, and establish WAVs AI as a dominant force in the music streaming industry". Yeah, good luck with that.


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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