TODAY'S TOP STORY: So, we all know something big is happening later today involving apples and music. I wish it was a pie. A big fat musical apple pie. Actually, it needn't be all that musical, I'd just take the pie. Can I have some apple pie? I love apple pie. Can someone send me some apple pie? With ice cream. Not custard. I don't like custard. It would all be ruined if there was custard. Whatever you do... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: More than two years on from their last release - approved and still brilliant single 'Oh Future' - Philco Fiction re-emerged last month with 'Bodies', the first track from their new album. Now slimmed down to a duo and signed to Killing Moon, the sleek pop ballad set the scene for their return, while new single 'June 17' kicks open the door. Actually, it more pushes back and waits before... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Dre debut will be on Apple Music, as AC/DC head to the streaming platforms
DEALS BMG acquires Verse Music Group
Kobalt to administrate Blue Mountain songs catalogue
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Universal Music Publishing promotes its income tracking chief
MARKETING & PR New pre-release content delivery platform launches tomorrow
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Topspin co-founder joins Pandora
MEDIA TeamRock MD Chris Ingham steps down
RELEASES Folk and roots community collaborate on protest song collection
GIGS & FESTIVALS Foo Fighters expected to make it back on stage for US tour
AND FINALLY... East 17 play (unintentionally) intimate set
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Dre debut will be on Apple Music, as AC/DC head to the streaming platforms
So, we all know something big is happening later today involving apples and music. I wish it was a pie. A big fat musical apple pie. Actually, it needn't be all that musical, I'd just take the pie. Can I have some apple pie? I love apple pie. Can someone send me some apple pie? With ice cream. Not custard. I don't like custard. It would all be ruined if there was custard. Whatever you do, don't put custard on my apple pie. In fact, just keep your meddling hands off my apple pie. It's my pie, and it's perfect.

Anyway, moving away from perfection for now, Apple Music launches this afternoon (UK time), you know, streaming, playlists, radio channels, Beats1 gubbins, Connect, integrated iTunes Match with boosted capacity, free three month trial, over 100 countries, a few pennies for the labels here and there, and no Sonos or Android but just be patient because everything comes to those who wait. As Dr Dre fans know only too well. Not that anything actually came for them.

But imagine if Apple Music arrived with Dre's long, long, long awaited third album 'Detox' (or whatever he's calling it now, if he's calling it anything anymore) happily streaming away. Now that would be big news. But in your imagination that eventuality will have to stay. Though the Beats co-founder's debut long player 'The Chronic' will be available, which is sort of news because Dre hasn't let that record be legally streamed on the net to date, he having reaffirmed his control over the digital rights in the album a few years back.

It remains to be seen what other exclusives Apple manages to grab, you know, from people not directly associated with the tech giant. Though, of course, Taylor Swift has given the green light for them to stream her latest album '1989' as well as her back catalogue, on account of them backtracking on all that 'no royalties till autumn' nonsense.

Though it's not just Apple Music adding some classic never-before-streamed content to its catalogue later today. Oh no, as my big apple pie arrives later this afternoon, word has it the AC/DC catalogue will arrive on Spotify for the first time. Though it's also expected to be on Apple Music too, and probably Rdio as well. Basically the famous digital hold-outs are using Apple's big launch to finally embrace the streams, having not signed up to the iTunes download store until 2012.

Anyway, that's enough streaming chatter for now. Though I do really want that apple pie.

BMG acquires Verse Music Group
BMG has acquired the Verse Music Group, which is a bit like acquiring the Verve Music Group, but not as exciting. What a difference one letter can make. And they're so close together on the keyboard too.

No, not really, there's plenty of great tunage amongst the 40,000 odd songs and recordings controlled by the New York-based Verse Music Group, which includes records from the legendary funk label Salsoul Records, works by Nina Simone, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane in the Bethlehem music catalogue, and the output of Golden Records, which, by the way, was the first children's record label in the US with recordings by the likes of Danny Kaye, Roy Rodgers, Bing Crosby and Johnny Cash.

Confirming the acquisition, BMG's Laurent Hubert told reporters: "Verse has assembled an extremely varied and wide-ranging catalogue which touches many of the most influential moments in popular music history. There are considerable synergies with existing BMG catalogues which make this acquisition particularly exciting". He sounds almost thrilled to me.


Kobalt to administrate Blue Mountain songs catalogue
Kobalt has announced a worldwide administration deal with Blue Mountain Music, the music publishing business established in 1962 by Chris Blackwell, whose probably better known as the founder of Island Records and for being an all round British music industry legend.

So much so, Blackwell calling Kobalt the "the future of music publishing" is something else to add to the music rights firm's big fat brag list. Just in case that mad Wired cover ever fades, what with all this sunshine we're having at the moment. The deal will also see Kobalt providing administration and sync services to a pretty impressive catalogue of songs that includes the complete Bob Marley oeuvre and songs from the likes of U2, Free, John Martyn and plenty of newer talent.

Confirming the deal, Kobalt boss man Willard Ahdritz told reporters: "This is a monumental deal for Kobalt and for me personally. We are humbled and excited to partner with Chris Blackwell and Blue Mountain to work with their diverse catalogue of hits and timeless songs, including Bob Marley and U2, both whose influence on music and the world is immeasurable. I've always admired Chris's entrepreneurial spirit, his unique gift for identifying exceptional talent, and of course his great love for jazz!"

Blackwell himself added: "I am thrilled to have Blue Mountain Music partner with Kobalt whom I believe are the future of the music publishing business. Their entrepreneurial leadership, together with their investment in and dedication to technology, is allowing for seamless and transparent collection and is making a huge difference to songwriters around the world".

Universal Music Publishing promotes its income tracking chief
It's all about the royalty data, right? Well, Universal Music Publishing has promoted its VP of Income Tracking, Randi Olsen, to the role of Senior VP Of Income Tracking and Analytics. Which might just look like the addition of two words, but it's all joined up with plans to expand the operations of Olsen's department to provide ever more analytics and insights to songwriters signed to the major.

Confirming the appointment, the Universal music publishing firm's CFO Worldwide Michael J Sammis told reporters: "The importance of 'income tracking' in the music publishing industry cannot be overstated. Randi's commitment to this process provides immeasurable value to Universal Music Publishing and its songwriter partners".

He went in: "She and her staff work closely with all departments, including licensing and creative, to identify issues and secure, protect and maximise our collective economic interests. This is a well-deserved promotion and I look forward to continuing to work closely with Randi and her team."

Longtime Universal exec Olsen added: "It's an exciting time at Universal Music Publishing and it has been a blessing to work with Mike Sammis and the team for the last eighteen years! I'm very grateful for the incredible opportunity to expand our income tracking operations, particularly during this time in our business when this area is even more complex and important to the future of our industry".

New pre-release content delivery platform launches tomorrow
The previously reported new service designed to provide a better way for music companies to share pre-release tracks with media and industry contacts launches tomorrow.

As previously reported, Byta has been founded by music plugger Marc Brown and, he says, hopes to help a music industry that currently relies on the "toxic combination of consumer services such as Dropbox, WeTransfer and private SoundCloud links, or niche and dated 'promo platforms'" to get new content to key industry contacts.

Brown says: "WeTransfer and SoundCloud are beautiful products, but they simply aren't built for those working in music. I can't overstate how bad the problem is, absolute chaos. Everyone has a story to tell and they all feel a loss of control, both as senders and especially as receivers".

Explaining why he thinks his product overcomes the issues users find with other service providers, Brown told CMU: "Byta takes the exchange of digital audio out of email, offering senders and receivers control over their experience. Senders control security and format options, eliminating the need for multiple services. And Byta offers a free account which recipients can use to listen, download and manage received audio instead of searching for links in emails".

You can check out the new service at byta.fm

Topspin co-founder joins Pandora
While Wall Street will be closely watching the Pandora share price later today, wondering what impact the arrival of Apple Music will have on the publicly listed US streaming service, the artist and label community might be instead wondering what to make of the appointment of Shamal Ranasinghe - best known as co-founder of direct-to-fan platform Topspin - to the role of Pandora's VP Of Product Management, Artists And Music Makers.

In his new role Ranasinghe, last seen working on another music tech start up called Fluence, will be charged with developing new products and services to benefit the artist and music community, in addition to Pandora's existing AMP data platform, which we assume is already being further enhanced via the streaming firm's recent acquisition of Next Big Sound.

Pandora has been putting increased efforts into providing services for artists and labels of late, of course, in a bid to improve its relations with the music community as it concurrently tries to bash down the royalties it pays to rights owners, performers and creators.

In the US, Pandora gets to licence recording rights via a compulsory licence with rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board, while so far the publishers have been forced to licence their rights via their collecting societies subject to rate court intervention. Therefore, Pandora doesn't need to negotiate direct deals with anyone, and has generally done what it can to persuade the CRB and rate courts to keep its royalty commitments as low as possible.

Which is why everyone hates Pandora. Apart from the 80 million people who use the mainly ad-funded service of course, which is a truly impressive active-user base given the personalised radio set-up is only available in three markets, and most users are in the US. So Pandora has been trying to use its reach and data to placate artists who are pissed off about the royalty situation.

Ranasinghe will presumably play a key role in those efforts moving forward, maybe also looking to add some direct-to-fan channels into the mix.

Confirming his new job, he wrote in a blog post yesterday: "My career has been committed to building products and services for the creative community, so I'm super excited to join Pandora as a VP Of Product to continue on that mission. I'll be working with some great people on building a better bridge between the music makers and Pandora's massive base of music fans. We have a chance to significantly move the needle to improve the welfare of artists, while strengthening the connection to their fans".

It's thought Ranasinghe will still be involved in the development of Fluence despite his new job. And presumably he'll also find time to chew the fat with at least one former Topsin colleague, that there Ian Rogers. He, of course, has mainly been occupying his time of late on that little venture they call Apple Music, which has proven that one great way to placate artists is to do the one thing Pandora doesn't want to do, offer them more money.

TeamRock MD Chris Ingham steps down
The MD of rock music media firm TeamRock, Chris Ingham, is leaving the company, nearly two decades after first joining one of its flagship titles Metal Hammer.

Ingham first joined the metal mag, then owned by Dennis Publishing, in 1996, and held various commercial and editorial roles over the years, as well as helping launch sister title Classic Rock. After the magazines were acquired by Future, in 2004 he took the role of Publisher for all that company's music titles, and subsequently launched the Prog and Blues magazines and a number of award events. He then became MD of TeamRock when it acquired Future's rock portfolio to run alongside its other online and radio-based operations.

Confirming he was now departing the company, Ingham told reporters: "In every day work most people don't get the chance to let their _imaginations run riot. I've been one of the lucky ones by having the opportunity to do just that over 20 years. There have been some incredible times, some stunning achievements and I've shared moments with the most committed and passionate people in rock music media. But now it's time to move to a fresh canvas. I wish my long time colleagues well in their endeavours".

TeamRock CEO Billy Anderson added: "Chris Ingham has decided to move on to the next phase in his career after a successful and inspiring 20 years, mostly with Future publishing but lately, with ourselves. We wish him well".

  Approved: Philco Fiction - June 17
More than two years on from their last release - approved and still brilliant single 'Oh Future' - Philco Fiction re-emerged last month with 'Bodies', the first track from their new album. Now slimmed down to a duo and signed to Killing Moon, the sleek pop ballad set the scene for their return, while new single 'June 17' kicks open the door.

Actually, it more pushes back and waits before slowly marching through, but then quickly establishes its dominance in the room. Once the horn stabs arrive, there is no question that it is the new leader, a big echoing drum fill rushing up halfway through just to be absolutely certain.

Bow down to your new leader.
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Folk and roots community collaborate on protest song collection
Sixteen folk and roots artists have contributed tracks to a new compilation of contemporary protest songs inspired by the recent General Election. Well, more by the utter despair some (many?) in the music community felt once the results were in.

The record has been organised by Jamie and Stevie Freeman, who run the folk, country and Americana championing Union Music Store, and they explain: "We woke up on May 8th to election results that left tens of millions of people feeling disenfranchised and without a voice. Rather than wait quietly for another five years before we got to have our say, we decided to return to the proud musical tradition of the protest song. Our votes might have counted for nothing, but we could still make our voices heard".

They go on: "We contacted our many friends in the roots music world and asked them to contribute something to a compilation of contemporary protest songs, and the results were an incredibly diverse range of musical, emotional and political styles. 'Land Of Hope & Fury' was born. Sixteen artists in total donated songs with nine of them written specifically for the album. This coming together of people, all acting out of a simple desire to make the world a better place, has been the single most encouraging aspect of this project, It is the proof that Margaret Thatcher's suggestion that 'there's no such thing as society' is as wrong today as ever it was".

The album will go on sale on 10 Jul in aid of political activist group 38 Degrees. More info at the Union Music Store.

And a tracklisting...

1. Luke Jackson - Forgotten Voices
2. Mark Chadwick (Levellers) - No Change
3. Emily Barker - Doing The Best I Can
4. Moulettes - Lullaby
5. Lucy Ward - Bigger Than That
6. The Jamie Freeman Agreement - Homes For Heroes
7. The Self help Group - Funeral Drum
8. The Dreaming Spires - Follow The Money
9. Mountain Firework Company - Filthy Lucre
10. Phil Jones (Hatful Of Rain) - New Homes
11. OHooley & Tidow - The Hum
12. Will Varley - The Sound Of The Markets Crashing
13. Chris TT - A-Z
14. Plumhall - Never Forget My Name
15. Grace Petrie - If There's A Fire In Your Heart
16. Danni Nicholls - A Little Redemption

Foo Fighters expected to make it back on stage for US tour
Despite speculation that Dave Grohl's broken leg might impact on the Foo Fighter's upcoming North American tour, a tweet yesterday implied that won't be the case.

The band were forced to cancel a number of European dates, of course, including their planned Glastonbury slot last weekend, after Grohl fell of stage during a gig in Sweden earlier this month and broke his leg.

The outfit's US tour is due to kick off this weekend in Washington, and despite fears Grohl's injuries might affect those dates too, the band tweeted yesterday: "Can't f***ing wait for the 4th!!! See you at home, DC"

So there you go. Whatever, presumably Grohl will be back in full performing mode by next June, which is why his band are early favourites to headline next year's Glastonbury Festival, amidst rumours they were rebooked as soon as they had to pull out this year.

Coldplay, Blur and Prince are the next favourites for Glasto 2016 headline slots, in terms of the odds you'll get from the bookies. Emily Eavis, of course, has said all three headliners are already booked for next year.

East 17 play (unintentionally) intimate set
Now, no sniggering at the back thank you very much, just because the reformed East 17 played to 30 people at their recent gig at Dublin's 800+ capacity The Academy.

What, you didn't know East 17 were back gigging again? Well, neither Tony Mortimer nor Brian Harvey are involved, so it's debatable whether they really are, but they do have Robbie Craig on board. Yes, Robbie Craig! Who'd have thought it?

Said one fan in attendance at the recent Dublin show to The Sun: "They looked so ridiculous performing to nobody. Tony Mortimer and Brian Harvey, who sang all their big hits, aren't with the band any more. So you just have the guys that did the dancing, John Hendy and Terry Coldwell, with a new singer called Robbie Craig".

Still, as the streaming music market hots up and everyone's clambering for every exclusive they can grab, it's good to know East 17 are back in the game. Who wants an East 17 live exclusive? Rara perhaps?

ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletin and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
Chris provides music business coverage and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business and education programme CMU:DIY, and heads up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
Email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, plus helps manage and deliver the CMU Insights training courses and consultancy services.
Email sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
Email caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
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