TODAY'S TOP STORY: Founder of the Parklife festival Sacha Lord and the Night Time Industries Association have hit out at the UK government's continued insistence that it hasn't changed its position on drug testing at music festivals. It follows a new letter from the Home Office stating that its "consistent position" has been that such testing requires a specific controlled drugs licence from the government department... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Parklife founder and NTIA boss hit out at Home Office's "demonstrably untrue" statement on festival drug testing policy
DEALS Sentric signs Sean Silverman
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Jo Twist formally joins BPI as new CEO
LIVE BUSINESS French billionaire in talks to buy majority stake in CAA
MEDIA 1Xtra to have second daytime show broadcast from Birmingham
INDUSTRY PEOPLE Latest round of Power Up participants announced
ARTIST NEWS Jane Birkin dies
AND FINALLY... Vogue editor Anna Wintour makes an unflattering digital cameo in Drake's new show
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Parklife founder and NTIA boss hit out at Home Office's "demonstrably untrue" statement on festival drug testing policy
Founder of the Parklife festival Sacha Lord and the Night Time Industries Association have hit out at the UK government's continued insistence that it hasn't changed its position on drug testing at music festivals. It follows a new letter from the Home Office stating that its "consistent position" has been that such testing requires a specific controlled drugs licence from the government department.

Responding to a letter from Lord and the NTIA which called on the government to change what they consider to be a new policy, the Home Office wrote: "Our consistent position has been that anyone wishing to lawfully undertake activities that include the possession, supply or production of controlled drugs - including in the course of drug testing services - to whom an exemption does not apply, should apply for a controlled drugs licence".

But that response, says Lord, is "frankly laughable and wholly disingenuous", while NTIA CEO Michael Kill states: "There seems to be an unwillingness by the Home Office to acknowledge that testing has happened for the last ten years under a memorandum of understanding, and much of our dialogue and engagement has been met with the same bureaucratically scripted response".

A number of festivals have, for many years now, tested drugs on-site to assess whether there are any substances in circulation that could pose a heightened risk to those consuming them. In some cases, the drugs are provided for testing by festival-goers, sometimes anonymously, or - more commonly at UK festivals - the experts analyse drugs that have been confiscated by police and security.

Either way, any information about substances that could pose a heightened risk is pushed out through social media, and provided to police and on-site medical personnel. That work can prevent harm and save lives by ensuring any heightened risk is known.

Manchester's Parklife festival has previously undertaken work of that kind in partnership with drug testing charity The Loop and in liaison with the city's police force. However, this year it was told that a licence was also required directly from the Home Office. Given that getting that licence can take up to three months, the event wasn't able to carry out any drug testing this year.

The news that such a licence was now required also meant that a number of other UK festivals which planned to have drug testing in place this summer had to rethink. Even if they were taking place later in the year and, in theory, there was time to apply for a licence, doing so increases the costs of undertaking testing and arguably adds logistical requirements that not all festivals are able to meet.

After Lord, and others, criticised what seemed to be a new rule being enforced by the Home Office, the government insisted that there had always been a requirement to get a controlled drugs licence to do drug testing at events, and therefore its position was unchanged.

But in a letter at the end of last month, in which the NTIA threatened to take the matter to judicial review, the trade body stressed that central government was very much aware that festivals were undertaking drug testing by agreeing memorandums of understanding with local police forces and other local authorities.

That fact had been discussed at sessions in Parliament which involved relevant ministers, and the idea that a licence from the Home Office was also required was never raised at those sessions.

With the Home Office again insisting in its new letter, sent on Friday, that it hasn't changed its position on drug testing at festivals - and that a licence has always been required - Lord has again stated that that position is "demonstrably untrue".

In a statement issued this morning, he says: "Our existing testing arrangements have been a vital feature of festivals up and down the country for many years, but now the Home Office wants us to believe they were unaware this was taking place. It's something that would frankly be negligent were it not demonstrably untrue. The only explanation is that this is a policy reversal".

"We call on the Home Office to put an end to this reckless disregard for the safety of festival-goers and reinstate the existing memorandum of understanding with immediate effect", he goes on. "The industry works tirelessly to ensure we do everything possible to safeguard the public and frankly this summer the Home Office has looked to score political points by putting lives at risk".

NTIA boss Kill adds: "With no acknowledgement from the Home Office of previous back of house drug testing practices or engagement, and a rigidity in the current policy and dialogue, we have been left at an impasse. Although the Home Offices position is evidently contradicted in practice and at multiple communication points, we have had no choice but to bring this to the public domain".

"Even under this new policy regime", he then says, "there is a clear lack of clarity on elements of the drug testing licence requirements, which left to individual interpretation has the potential to exclude a considerable number of festivals from operating this facility".

In its new letter, the Home Office also confirms that it has so far received no applications for a licence to run drug testing at a major music festival this summer. This is despite the fact, the NTIA notes in its statement, that "many of the summer's biggest festivals operated their usual testing facilities, electing to prioritise customer safety".

Lord concludes: "It's a small wonder the Home Office has received no applications given it is clear that were festival organisers to apply they would be forced to shut down the vital testing facilities they had relied upon for many years to save lives".

We discuss this story in more detail on this week's edition of the Setlist podcast.


Sentric signs Sean Silverman
Sentric Music has signed LA-based songwriter and producer Sean Silverman to one of those exclusive administration agreements.

Silverman is a member of the pop-rock band Beach Weather, but has also written and produced music for the likes of Burna Boy, Lil Nas X, Tropkillaz, The Maine, Chloe Lilac, Windser, BEL and The Technicolors.

Says Sentric's President and Head Of A&R for North America, Simon Perry: "This is a dream signing for us in the USA. Sean is a creative juggernaut and we're excited to bring Sentric's best in class capabilities to support his stellar trajectory".

Silverman, meanwhile, is "THRILLED" about the deal. "I am THRILLED to embark on this journey with Sentric", says he.

He adds: "They have a true understanding of the creative needs of today's songwriters and producers. Their commitment to empowering artists made them a clear choice and I can't wait to see what we do together".


Jo Twist formally joins BPI as new CEO
The new boss of UK record industry trade group BPI, whose appointment was announced in February, formally starts in the CEO role today.

Jo Twist joins from games and interactive entertainment trade organisation UKIE and replaces Geoff Taylor, who stood down as CEO of the BPI at the end of last year. Since Taylor's departure, the trade group's Chief Strategy Officer Sophie Jones has been filling in as interim CEO.

As she takes on her new job, Twist said this morning: "I can't wait to finally take up the role and meet all the team, the BPI's extensive membership and its industry partners, stakeholders and media".

"There are so many exciting opportunities that lie ahead for British music and for the wider creative industries", she added, "as well as complex and profound challenges, of course".

"I am looking forward to leading the strong team at the BPI and working closely with our members to understand how we can best navigate these in the most effective way possible to support the continued growth and success of British recorded music by creating an environment at home and around the world in which it can thrive, and its potential and that of its talented artists can be fully realised".

"On a more personal note", she went on, "I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Sophie Jones for the brilliant job she has done as interim CEO, and all the team, which will no doubt help me come into the BPI and hit the ground running".

As well as supporting the UK record industry - and running the BRIT Awards and owning half of the Official Charts Company - the BPI also plays a key lobbying role, of course. And a top lobbying priority at the moment is AI, and all the copyright and other legal challenges that have been posed by generative AI tools becoming ever more sophisticated.

Although within the music industry the economics of streaming debate also continues, with the ongoing UK government-led work that seeks to address some of the issues raised by the 2021 Parliamentary inquiry into the digital music business. And that work is now set to move onto the trickiest of the topics raised by the inquiry, which is how streaming monies are shared out between stakeholders in the music community each month.

With big differences of opinion in that domain between the music-makers and the labels - and especially the major labels - the next phase of the economics of streaming conversation is going to be very interesting to follow.


French billionaire in talks to buy majority stake in CAA
French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire a majority stake in the Creative Artists Agency.

According to sources who have spoken to Bloomberg, under the deal the Hollywood talent agency would have a valuation of at least $7 billion. CAA currently represents thousands of actors, directors, screenwriters, authors and athletes, as well as being very active in the music space, of course, coordinating the live and touring activities of a big roster of artists.

Pinault is CEO of the luxury fashion group Kering and President of Groupe Artémis, which has a 40.9% stake in the fashion firm. Among other things, Kering owns the Gucci and Saint Laurent brands, while Groupe Artémis also has a stake in Puma, and owns things like the Christies auction house, French news magazine Le Point and cruise ship operator Ponant. Its tech investments division has also invested in the likes of Bytedance and Deezer.

Bloomberg's sources did note that the talks between CAA and Pinault, while at an advanced stage, may as yet not result in an actual deal.

The talks are proceeding as Hollywood basically goes into shutdown because of strike action by actors union SAG-AFTRA. The actors last week joined members of the Writers Guild Of America in going on strike in a dispute over how streaming monies are shared out and how the Hollywood studios plan to capitalise on the opportunities created by generative AI. So, pretty familiar concerns to anyone in the music community.

That strike action will obviously impact relevant divisions at agencies like CAA.


1Xtra to have second daytime show broadcast from Birmingham
The BBC has announced that a second daily show on its 1Xtra station will be broadcast from Birmingham from the start of next year.

Since April, Kaylee Golding has hosted a daily early afternoon show on the station from a studio in Birmingham. It's the first daily show on the station to be broadcast from a studio outside of London.

Last week, the BBC revealed that the current hosts of the 1Xtra morning show - which is DJ Ace from Monday to Thursday, and Nick Bright on Friday - will stand down from that programme in January next year. Their replacement, still to be announced, will then broadcast from Birmingham, just like Golding.

Says the Beeb: "These moves are part of the BBC's Across The UK plan, moving shows, talent, teams and content away from London to allow the BBC to better reflect, represent and serve all audiences. The BBC adds over £305m to the economic value of the West Midlands each year and is continuing to invest heavily in the region".

Head Of 1Xtra Faron McKenzie adds: "BBC 1Xtra [is] committed to increasing investment and supporting broadcasting talent across the UK and I'm so proud to be delivering on that promise and expanding the 1Xtra family in such a creative and diverse city like Birmingham".

Ace will continue to present the weekly 'R&B Show' for 1Xtra, while Bright will still appear in the station's weekend schedule.

"It's the end of an era for one of our award-winning broadcasters, DJ Ace", McKenzie continues. "He has kept the 1Xtra daytime listeners entertained with his big bold energy and fearless broadcasting. Ace has dedicated his career to championing R&B music and will continue to do just that as the host of the legendary '1Xtra R&B Show' every Saturday night".

And, the 1Xtra boss goes on, "I know Nick will also continue to bring his quick-witted high energy and experienced broadcasting skills to his Saturday morning show".


Latest round of Power Up participants announced
The Power Up initiative - launched by the PRS Foundation and Ben Wynter back in 2021 - has announced the music-makers and industry professionals that will take part in the third year of its Power Up Participant Programme.

That programme, Power Up explains, "elevates pioneering black talent and is a key feature of the long-term initiative launched to address anti-black racism and racial disparities in the music sector".

Participants get access to financial support as well as masterclasses and mentoring, in a bid to support "the development of their careers and practice, to break through glass ceilings and accelerate change across the industry".

The year before the launch of Power Up, many in the music industry made commitments to address ongoing discrimination in the sector following the Black Out Tuesday protest. Staged in response to the murder by US police officers of George Floyd, that protest saw many in the music industry pause their operations for 24 hours, most posting a black square to social media.

In the wake of the protest, a number of practical initiatives were launched and supported within the music business, including in the UK, Power Up among them. However, there has been criticism of late about the extent to which some major players in the industry have made good on those past commitments.

Stressing that there is still much more work to be done to address discrimination in the sector - and that the industry needs to continue proactively supporting schemes like Power Up - Wynter says: "Three years after the black square movement, many promises and statements appear to have been forgotten".

"Despite initial pledges for change, we are witnessing the resurgence of injustices, lack of equity, and inequality as things revert to 'normal'", he goes on. "Power Up demonstrates that empowering black talent to shatter the glass ceiling leads to success. As we enter our third year and our network grows to 120, it's evident that this programme remains a vital lifeline for powering up black talent".

Discussing Power Up's work beyond the Participant Programme, he continues: "We've worked behind the scenes to guide companies in correcting missteps and actively participated in Intellectual Property Office roundtable discussions on streaming, advocating for diverse voices to be included. Power Up is driving tangible change, staying true to its original purpose. In these uncertain times, we urge industry leaders to move beyond symbolic gestures and take concrete action to support this initiative and honour the promises they made in 2020".

The music-maker participants in the third year of Power Up are: Agaama, Aleighcia Scott, Ayrtn, Ashaine White, Azekel, Blasio Kavuma, Cay Caleb, Cherise, Daudi Matsiko, Joel Culpepper, Josh Daniel, Kadeem Tyrell, Lemfreck, Rebekah Reid, Santino Browne, Shao Dow, Uninvited and Yung Fume.

The industry professional participants are: Ade Edu, Alanna Henry, Albert Doku (Ras Kwame), Basil Reynolds, Cils Williams, Corey Johnson, Dane Bradshaw, Eddie Smith, Elise Brown, Esther Oram, James Ayo, Kima Otung, Kwabena Amponsa, Lesley-Anne O'Brien, Mark Tremaine Okata Agbi, Mike Cave, Neicee Oakley, Reggie Kerr, Shakira Walters, Smooth Fuego, Wale Kalejaiye and Wizdom Layn.


Setlist: FAC steps up its campaign against music venue merch commissions
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the stepping up of the Featured Artists Coalition's 100% Venues campaign, which encourages music venues to allow artists to sell merchandise at their shows without being charged any commission on sales, and the new legal challenge to the UK government's festival drug testing policy.

Listen to this edisode of Setlist here.

Jane Birkin dies
British singer and actor Jane Birkin, best known for her work with Serge Gainsbourg, has died at her home in France. She was 76.

Born in London in 1946, Birkin originally began her career as an actor in the UK, appearing in films such as Michelangelo Antonioni's 'Blowup' in 1966. She met Gainsbourg when they co-starred in the French film 'Slogan' in 1968, marking the beginning of a more than decade-long personal and working relationship.

They released their debut album together, 'Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg', in 1969. In 1976, Birkin starred in the Gainsbourg-directed film 'Je T'aime Moi Non Plus', for which they recorded a song of the same name. Their most famous work, it also proved controversial, due to the sexually explicit French lyrics - leading to broadcasters in Italy, Spain and the UK banning it.

Despite this, the song was a success, and in the UK it made chart history when the record appeared in two different positions in the singles chart at the same time.

This was because the label that originally released it, Fontana, pulled the record due to the controversy surrounding it. It was then quickly re-released by Major Minor, but with the Fontana release still also on the shelves, both versions made the chart - the Major Minor release reaching number three and the Fontana one coming in at number sixteen. The record eventually went to number one.

Birkin and Gainsbourg separated in 1980, after which she continued to have a successful career as both a singer and an actor. She released numerous solo albums, most recently 'Oh! Pardon Tu Dormais' in 2020. However, in 2021, she was forced to cancel a string of live performances after having a stroke.

Mainly living and working in France from the 1960s onwards, she was awarded an OBE in 2001 for services to acting and British-French cultural relations.

Paying tribute yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "Because she embodied freedom, because she sang the most beautiful words of our language, Jane Birkin was a French icon. A complete artist, her voice was as sweet as her engagements were fiery. She bequeaths us tunes and images that will never leave us".


Vogue editor Anna Wintour makes an unflattering digital cameo in Drake's new show
Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour seemingly makes a cameo appearance - albeit in digital form - during the show Drake and 21 Savage recently started touring around the US. And given the recent legal battle between the musicians and the fashion magazine, it's perhaps unsurprising to know that Wintour's digital representation is not particularly flattering.

Drake and 21 Savage were sued by publisher Condé Nast after they distributed and promoted a fake edition of Vogue - with the musicians as cover stars - as part of the marketing for their joint album 'Her Loss'. The magazine owner accused the musicians and their marketing agency of trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising. The lawsuit was ultimately settled back in February.

According to TMZ, a face that seems very much designed to look like Wintour pops up on screens while Drake and 21 Savage perform 'Jimmy Crooks' on their current 'It's All A Blur' tour. And that Wintour-esque character then "opens her mouth to reveal some pretty gnarly teeth".

Neither Drake nor 21 Savage have commented on the somewhat petty addition to the visuals for their new show, though Drake did apparently share a photo of it on Instagram last week. Fun times.


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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