TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify could start rolling out its long anticipated higher-priced premium package later this year, according to sources who have spoken to Bloomberg. And, it seems, free access to some audiobooks will be one of the perks used to persuade subscribers that they might want to pay more each month... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Spotify higher-priced subscription package could launch this summer
DEALS Universal Music Publishing signs Niall Horan
Bucks and Mushroom team up to sign publishing deal with Joshua Epithet
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Universal Music relaunches Tamla Records
LIVE BUSINESS A Labour government will seek to overcome post-Brexit touring challenges, says Nick Thomas-Symonds MP
GIGS & FESTIVALS Glastonbury cancels screening of Jeremy Corbyn documentary amid conspiracy theory criticism
AND FINALLY... Taylor Swift announces UK dates - let the pre-sale fun times begin!
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Spotify higher-priced subscription package could launch this summer
Spotify could start rolling out its long anticipated higher-priced premium package later this year, according to sources who have spoken to Bloomberg. And, it seems, free access to some audiobooks will be one of the perks used to persuade subscribers that they might want to pay more each month.

For the music industry, of course, a priority of late when it comes to Spotify subscriptions has been trying to persuade the market-leading premium streaming service to increase its baseline price point.

That has been 9.99 ever since the late 2010s, with bundles and emerging market pricing all discounted from there. Because of inflation, that means the actual value of each Spotify subscription has been declining year-on-year.

The streaming firm has increased some of its prices in some markets, mainly around bundles, though - with many of its competitors having now increased the 9.99 baseline to 10.99 - the pressure is really building on Spotify to follow suit. Which it almost certainly will do sometime relatively soon.

But are there other ways that Spotify could be getting more money out of each subscriber each month, other than by just increasing the baseline price?

Spotify has been considering offering a higher priced premium package with extra benefits for some time, the assumption being that that would include access to higher quality audio, something the streaming firm has been actively promising since 2021.

Except, while for a time some of Spotify's competitors had a 'higher-quality-audio-for-more-money' option, Apple then decided that higher quality audio should come as standard. Because, you know, Apple had hardware to sell that needed easy access to better audio quality.

So what else could Spotify bundle in to justify the price of a higher level premium product? Well, given Spotify is busy trying to move itself beyond music and podcasts and into audiobooks - but with its current a la carte audiobook offering somewhat lacklustre - how about including some audiobook goodness in with the new extra premium subscription package?

"To augment its current 'Premium' tier, Spotify will give subscribers expanded access to audiobooks", Bloomberg reports, "either through a specific number of hours free per month or a specific number of titles. There will be an option to purchase more. Currently, the company only sells audiobooks a la carte through its app".

Bloomberg's sources reckon that this new higher priced subscription package will arrive in the US in October, but will go live in other markets earlier than than. The newswire also reports that the new product is being referred to internally at Spotify as 'Supremium', which seems like a good reason for hoping this entire plan doesn't succeed.

For Spotify, getting a higher priced subscription package off the ground would help placate investors who are increasingly looking for more profitability from the streaming business. To what extent it would also boost the revenues in which the music industry shares isn't clear.

When other services simply offered higher quality audio as the benefit of their higher priced subscription packages, that directly benefited the music industry as well as the services, because both had more revenue to share in. Though if audiobooks are a key part of Supremium, then presumably a chunk of the extra subscription money will be allocated to books rather than music. Though, who knows how such things will work behind the scenes?

Responding to Bloomberg's report on all this, a Spotify spokesperson said: "At Spotify, we are constantly iterating and ideating to improve our product offering and offer value to users. But we don't comment on speculation around possible new features and do not have anything new to share at this time".

"Ideating"? I take it back, maybe 'Supremium' isn't that bad after all.


Universal Music Publishing signs Niall Horan
Universal Music Publishing has only gone and signed itself Niall Horan to one of those big fuck off global publishing deals that all the cool kids keep talking about. Endlessly talking about them they are. TikTok is full of cool kids talking about global publishing deals. Maybe not in this reality, but in at least one reality. I know, I checked.

So yes, Horan has signed with Universal's publishing division. And why the hell not? After all, Universal Music Publishing "is recognised globally as a true music publisher and home to the industry's leading songwriters". Says the press release.

Yeah, maybe. I mean, I think we can all agree that Universal Music Publishing is definitely recognised globally as the true music publisher of Niall Horan's songs and home to the industry's leading Niall Horans.

And as for the former 1D-er himself, Horan is, of course, and we all know this, "a lifelong songwriter and self-taught guitarist". Says that press release. Not only that, it adds, he's "sold over 80 million records and toured the globe multiple times".

And yes, a decent chunk of that success may have been with the machine that was One Direction. But you're not forgetting that Horan's third solo album is currently at number one in the UK albums chart are you? Imagine forgetting that!

And now for some quotes. Harry Magee and Richard Griffiths run management firm Modest. Jody Gerson is CEO of Universal Music Publishing. Meaningless bits of music business trivia I agree, but it'll help you fully enjoy the quotes ahead. And for that, you are welcome.

Universal Music Publishing UK Managing Director Mike McCormack says: "I've known Niall for years and he has always shown a deep commitment to the art of songwriting. I'm THRILLED Universal Music Publishing has the privilege to represent his past, present and future solo works and support his artistry alongside Harry and Richard from Modest Management".

"We are especially excited to be celebrating Niall's fantastic new LP", he then muses, "and know he has a bright future ahead".

Horan himself adds: "It's my absolute pleasure to sign with Universal Music Publishing. I have known Mike personally for many years and I'm so happy that I get to work with a man who firstly genuinely cares about artistry and the art of writing a song, and secondly knows the world of publishing like no other".

"To have met the great Jody Gerson", he goes on, "who I've known of throughout my career as being a badass publisher, and when I felt the love from her and Mike, I wasn't going anywhere else to be honest".


Bucks and Mushroom team up to sign publishing deal with Joshua Epithet
Bucks Music in the UK and Mushroom Music in Australia have together signed Joshua Epithet to a publishing deal. The Manchester-based artist/producer is already working with Mushroom's labels on his recordings, including his first single of 2023, 'She Writes Fanfiction'.

Confirming the new deal around Epithet's songs, Bucks' Director Of A&R Sarah Liversedge Platz says: "We are ecstatic to be working with Joshua Epithet. Our Senior A&R, Flash Taylor, came to me with Joshua's music with a glint in his eye, which only ever means one thing: he had fallen in love with a new artist. Joshua is outstanding and has a singular voice and talent. He writes and produces amazing, cutting edge, alternative leaning pop songs".

On the partnership with Mushroom, she adds: "We are delighted to be working across Joshua's songwriting under our first JV with our wonderful friends at Mushroom Music, Mushroom Labels and Liberator in Australia, which for us is the icing on the cake".

Meanwhile Mushroom Music Managing Director Linda Bosidis says: "We are THRILLED to embark on our first JV with our partner and friends at Bucks signing dynamic songwriter/producer Joshua Epithet".

And as for Epithet himself, he says: "I am so excited to be signing with Bucks and Mushroom Music. This is a journey I have been wanting to start for a while now and here we are, in the car, turning the keys. As a kid making music in between school and retail work, it means so much to me that I will be working with Bucks and Mushroom Music, whose legacies speak for themselves".


Universal Music relaunches Tamla Records
Universal Music has dug around in its big bag of brands and pulled out Tamla - the original name of the Berry Gordy founded label that became Motown Records, and which operated as an imprint of Motown for many years.

Gordy sold his Motown business to MCA in the late 1980s, which then sold it to Polygram, which was later merged with MCA to create what we now call Universal Music. Hence why the Tamla brand was sitting in that big of brands at Universal HQ ready to be dug out and revived.

The all new Tamla Records will operate as part of the major's Capitol Music Group - specifically the Capitol Christian Music Group - and will be, says the official announcement, "a mainstream imprint focusing on positive hip hop and R&B music". It will be overseen by EJ Gaines, who is currently SVP Marketing for Capitol CMG.

The new label will also have partnership with Thomas 'Tillie' Mann, who - as the longtime mix engineer for Quality Control Records - collaborated with numerous artists signed to that label. Tamla will now collaborate with Mann and his Encouragement Music company.

Say Capitol CMG Co-Presidents Brad O'Donnell and Hudson Plachy in a joint statement: "We are THRILLED to be re-launching the Tamla imprint. We want to honour the iconic history of the label founded by Mr Gordy, and Tillie Mann and Encouragement Music are exactly the kind of partners that we want to work with. EJ Gaines is a seasoned executive who we know will guide Tamla along with the support of our overall Capitol CMG staff".

Meanwhile the CEO of the wider Capitol Music Group, Michelle Jubelirer, adds: "The relaunch of Tamla broadens our company's commitment to hip hop and R&B music, as well as to the artists, label partners and creative executives who have joined Capitol Music Group over the past eighteen months. The artists EJ and his team will bring to Tamla will complement the incredible talent across our label group and will have everyone's support throughout the wider company".


A Labour government will seek to overcome post-Brexit touring challenges, says Nick Thomas-Symonds
Labour MP Nick Thomas-Symonds - currently Shadow International Trade Secretary - has told the Daily Mirror that, if his party wins the next UK General Election, a Labour government would work hard to overcome the post-Brexit bureaucracy challenges faced by musicians and performers touring Europe.

It's no secret that, since the UK left the European Union, artists touring Europe have faced an assortment of challenges around visas and permits and carnets and such like.

The specific challenges vary from country to country, and depending on the nature of any one artist's activities elsewhere in Europe. But for some artists, the costs associated with those challenges have made touring Europe unviable.

The music industry has repeatedly criticised the UK government for failing to ensure that European touring would be hassle free for British artists post-Brexit via the Trade And Cooperation Agreement it signed with the EU. And also for not doing enough to overcome the various country specific problems that arose as soon as that agreement went into force.

Speaking to the Mirror at the Trade Unlocked conference in Birmingham, Thomas-Symonds said that the bad deal for UK artists was the result of "an ideological choice" made by former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief Brexit negotiator David Frost.

"It just seems to me completely illogical and self-defeating not to make it easier for musicians touring around Europe to be able to do so without the weight of bureaucracy", the MP said. "We have an extraordinarily vibrant, rich, cultural sector here in the UK - it's one of our great avenues of soft power around the world. Why wouldn't we want to see them travelling around Europe showing off their great talents? We should be making it as easy as possible for them to do so".

The Labour Party reckons it can overcome many of the issues caused by Johnson and Frost's Trade And Cooperation Agreement when that deal comes up for review in 2025. If - that is - they are in government by that time. There are lots of different issues to deal with, of course, though Thomas-Symonds seemed keen to stress that the issues specifically affecting the music community would be very much on the agenda.


Economics Of Music Streaming interviews and timeline
The UK government's economics of music streaming projects continue, with a new music metadata code and website recently published, and a music-maker remuneration working group announced.

Don't forget earlier this month we spoke to representatives from eight of the music industry organisations that have been very much involved in that work. You can read those interviews here…

Association Of Independent Music



Featured Artists Coalition

Ivors Academy

Musicians' Union

Music Managers Forum

Music Publishers Association

You can also track all of CMU's coverage of the UK Parliament's streaming inquiry, and the subsequent government-led work and other relevant debates, on this CMU Timeline in the CMU Library.


Glastonbury cancels screening of Jeremy Corbyn documentary amid conspiracy theory criticism
Organisers of Glastonbury have confirmed that a controversial film called 'Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: The Big Lie' will not be screened at the festival this weekend.

The documentary is about the rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the UK Labour Party, with the title alluding to the pro-Corbyn chanting that was a feature of the 2017 Glastonbury Festival, where the politician gave a notable speech.

The official blurb for the film - which is made by self-declared "radical film-maker" Platform Films - notes that, after all the hype surrounding the Labour leader in 2017, "within three years all, it seemed, was lost. What happened and why?"

The documentary, it then says, "explores a dark and murky story of political deceit and outrageous antisemitic smears. It also uncovers the critical role played by current Labour leader Keir Starmer and asks if the movement which backed Corbyn could rise again".

However, the film has been accused of promoting a dangerous conspiracy theory. After it was confirmed that the documentary would be screened in Glastonbury's cinema tent, the Pilton Palais, Marie Van Der Zyl - President of the Board Of Deputies Of British Jews - wrote to Michael and Emily Eavis to express "deep concern".

In her letter, she stated: "This film, we understand, seeks to suggest that organisations such as the Board Of Deputies Of British Jews, of which I am the President, somehow helped to ‘orchestrate' Jeremy Corbyn's downfall as Labour Party leader".

The documentary, she went on, "includes a cast of characters who were suspended or expelled from Labour for their actions around the party's issues with antisemitism, a topic set out starkly in a report by the Equality And Human Rights Commission".

The letter then concluded: "Your festival is one of the most successful festivals in the UK. It seems profoundly sinister for it to be providing a platform to a film which clearly seeks to indoctrinate people into believing a conspiracy theory effectively aimed at Jewish organisations".

Confirming the film will no longer be show in the Pilton Palais this weekend, a statement from the festival reads: "Although we believe that the Pilton Palais booked this film in good faith, in the hope of provoking political debate, it's become clear that it is not appropriate for us to screen it at the festival. Glastonbury is about unity and not division and we stand against all forms of discrimination".

The Board Of Deputies welcomed that decision, saying on Twitter: "We are pleased that in the wake of a letter we sent earlier today, Glastonbury have announced the cancellation of the screening of this film. Hateful conspiracy theories should have no place in our society".


Taylor Swift announces UK dates - let the pre-sale fun times begin!
Taylor Swift has announced a load more dates for her The Eras Tour, including UK shows in June next year, and some extra London dates in August 2024 as well.

"Excuse me, hi, I have something to say", she posted on Twitter yesterday. "I can't wait to see so many of you on The Eras Tour next year at these new international dates!"

In addition to shows in Latin America later this year, Swift will also play Japan, Australia and Singapore in early 2024, before arriving in Europe in May with a couple of dates in Paris.

Fans were urged in the tweet to visit Swift's website for "more information on your registrations, pre-sales and on-sales!" Ah yes, registrations and pre-sales for a Taylor Swift tour, what could possibly go wrong with that? Nothing, nothing can go wrong. Right Ticketmaster?

If you want to see just how much nothing can go wrong, you can register to get access to the initial batch of tickets for Swift's UK shows here, you have until midnight tomorrow to do so.

Links for registering to buy tickets to shows in other countries are available here. For some reason non-Brits seem to have until the end of Friday to get themselves registered.

Beyond the pre-sale fun times, tedious people are already noting that Swift's UK schedule for next June could potentially accommodate a Sunday slot at Glastonbury 2024. But there are no tedious people round here, so please ignore that sentence.

Instead, here are the UK dates...

7 Jun: Edinburgh, Murrayfield Stadium
8 Jun: Edinburgh, Murrayfield Stadium
14 Jun: Liverpool, Anfield Stadium
15 Jun: Liverpool, Anfield Stadium
18 Jun: Cardiff, Principality Stadium
21 Jun: London, Wembley Stadium
22 Jun: London, Wembley Stadium
16 Aug: London, Wembley Stadium
17 Aug: London, Wembley Stadium


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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