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News April 24, 2017

Back to Biz: Nick Cave supports anti-suicide app, Neil Young’s new streaming service, and more

Lars Brandle
Back to Biz: Nick Cave supports anti-suicide app, Neil Young’s new streaming service, and more

Breaking Biz

GEMA has joined the billionaire club

The German PRO collected an all-time high €1.02 billion ($1.45 billion) in royalty payments in 2016, up 15% from the previous year. A big chunk of those gains stem from “intensive growth” from streaming sources, or more precisely a settlement the society hammered out with YouTube last November which saw an end to those frustrating content blocks Gema authorised for major-label content streaming on the video platform.

Online music usage more than doubled to nearly €82 million ($116 million) during the reporting period and those royalties were retroactively incorporated into Gema’s annual accounts for the period 2009-2016. Gema represents 70,000 members and rights owners and has been operating for 80 years.
Nick Cave throws support behind suicide prevention app

Nick Cave has thrown his support behind a suicide prevention app for indigenous people of Australia. The Warlpiri community of Lajamanu in the Australian Tanami desert are crowdfunding the app which could provide hope for communities in need.

Aboriginal suicide rates are at epidemic levels with three people taking their own lives each week. Young aboriginal people are said to be four times more likely to take their own life than their non-indigenous peers, a rate that is sadly among the highest in the world.

Since 2005, however, there hasn’t been a single suicide in Lajamanu. The community itself may have the answers and it’s hoped the app can get this important message out.

“With aboriginal people committing suicide on an unprecedented scale, a group of elders are creating an app based on ceremony story and law,” explains Cave. “Join them in fighting for lives of young Aboriginal people and let’s show Aboriginal Australia we believe in them.”

The community-led and community empowering project is the subject of a GoFundMe campaign, with indigenous elders providing all content for the so-called Kurdiji 1.0 app. Read more here.

Samsung partners with Google

Samsung’s Milk Music venue went sour last year but the electronics giant is attempting a bigger splash in digital music through a partnership with Google.  The South Korean conglomerate has joined forces with Google to bring streaming music to its new Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones, where Google Play music will be the default music player and on new Samsung devices and tablets.

Customers who buy one of these handset phones will get a three-month free trial of Google Play Music’s premium tier (which boasts 40 million licensed songs) and they can upload up to 100,000 of their own MP3s to its cloud locker for unlimited streaming. Samsung launched its own web radio service Milk Music back in 2014 but, after failing to get any meaningful traction, started retiring the venture some two years.  Read more about the new partnership here.

Warren Fu is the first international guest speaker at Clipped Music

Former Lucasfilm art director and music video boss Warren Fu is the first international guest speaker at this year’s Clipped Music Video Festival, the country’s main powwow for the music clip space. Fu, who has worked on clips for Daft Punk, The Strokes, and Snoop Dogg Fu and The Weekend’s latest clip for ‘I Feel It Coming’ will also take on judging duties at Clipped, which takes place June 3 at Sydney’s SunStudios and will run in conjunction with Vivid Ideas. Filmmakers and bands are invited to submit their clips which will be judged across a string of categories, including Animation, Cinematography, Directing, and Editing. Attendees at the day-long summit with gain entry to interactive music video exhibition, screenings, awards, workshops and industry keynotes and discussion panels. For more, visit

Movers & Shakers 

Chris Harrison becomes CEO of the Digital Media Association (DiMA)

The U.S.-based peak body that represents online distributors of digital music, film and books, from Amazon to Apple, Pandora and Spotify and others.  Until recently, Harrison was Vice President of Music Business Affairs for Sirius XM Radio and before that served as Vice President of Business Affairs and Assistant General Counsel at Pandora Media. His legal smarts were recognised with his inclusion in Billboard’s “Most Powerful Attorneys” list published in 2015.

UMG’s General Counsel to retire?

Another top legal going places is Universal Music Group’s General Counsel Richard Constant, who is reportedly set to retire.  Constant, one of the key players in his position in the international music biz, will step down this summer, according to MBW. An official announcement is expected in due course.

triple j Unearthed executive producer resigns

In the same week TIO broke the big news of the triple j’s Music Director reshuffle, another key staffer has waves goodbye to Aunty. Unearthed executive producer Stephanie Carrick has resigned from the network. Prior to taking the reins at Unearthed in 2008, Carrick produced cross platform content for ABC Kids, Rage, Arts, documentaries and Q&A in various roles dating back to the late 1990s. We look forward to hearing what she does next. Oh, and in case you missed it, Nick Findlay is now the Music Director at triple j while Richard Kingsmill moves on up to Group Music Director.

Warner/Chappell Production Music operations seek new boss

The HR department has been kept particularly busy at Warner/Chappell, where the music giant’s  Production Music operations are scouting for a new boss. Warner/Chappell Production Music CEO Randy Wachtler leaving the company, according to MBW, with Warner/Chappell CEO and Chairman Jon Platt taking his duties until the new hire is in place.

In other news, Platt has promoted Katie Vinten and Ryan Press to co-heads of U.S. A&R and Ben Vaughn rises to President Warner/Chappell Nashville.

Guy Henderson moves up at Sony/ATV

Sony/ATV Music Publishing has promoted Guy Henderson from executive VP of international to president, International, reporting to Sony/ATV chairman and CEO Martin Bandier. Henderson, who joined Sony/ATV in 2001 as VP of Europe, is based in London and will oversee all of the company’s operations and sub-publishers outside the Americas and U.K. The exec was part of the leadership team that earned regulatory approval for Sony/ATV’s 2012 acquisition of EMI Music Publishing.



Sylvia Moy, the Motown songwriter who collaborated on several hits including Stevie Wonder’s 1969 soul classic “My Cherie Amour” and “I Was Made to Love Her,” and on Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston’s “It Takes Two”, died April 15 at Beaumont (Oakwood) Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan. She was 78. Moy, one of Motown’s first female songwriter/producers, was a six-time Grammy Award nominee and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.


The Dotted Line 

Warner/Chappell Music is bringing some steel to its roster. The music publishing giant has signed in-demand U.K. songwriter, DJ and producer Steel Banglez to a worldwide publishing agreement. Born and raised in East London of sikh heritage, Steel Banglez has worked with some of the bigger names in grime and rap from Wiley, Birdman, Krept & Konan, Mist and D Double E.

His debut single “Money” recently dropped on Polydor Records with guest spots from U.K. MCs MoStack, Mist, Haile and Abra Cadabra. Mike Smith, Managing Director of Warner/Chappell U.K., describes his new signing as “one of the central songwriter/producers to have emerged from the scene.” In other news, Guv, CEO of Catalyst Management, which manages Steel Banglez, has teamed up with Zues, founding partner of Soho club Tape London, to create a new “entertainment venture.” Steel Banglez will be one songwriters invited to the new creative facility in Battersea, south London, which hopes to be a centre of excellence for new and existing artists with global potential.

Chart Geek

Damn, that Kendrick Lamar is doing the business. The Compton hip-hop giant’s latest DAMN. arrives at the summit of the Billboard 200 albums chart after shifting 603,000 equivalent album units, according to Nielsen Music. That’s the biggest opening week for any album Stateside this year. DAMN rings up the hat trick of No. 1s for Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly hit the top in 2015 and Untitled Unmastered reached No. 1 last year.

Lamar, however, couldn’t get over the line in the U.K., where Ed Sheeran’s Divide powers ahead for a seventh week in the lead over the Official Albums Chart. Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ is back at the peak of the Official Singles Chart for a 14th non-consecutive week, while Lamar’s lands five DAMN tracks inside the top 40.


Crossing Borders

OK, so Neil Young’s PonoMusic turned out to be a polished turd (but, alas, still a turd). That hasn’t dulled the Canadian rocker’s entrepreneurial spirit. It appears Young’s high-fidelity Pono service will live on, in some shape.

Young has partnered with Singapore firm Orastream to create “an adaptive streaming service that changes with available bandwidth” for “complete high-resolution playback,” according to a Pono post. And they’re calling it they’re Xstream.

It all sounds like an empire-building statement, which unfortunately builds on Empire; there’s already a fictional service of that name in the popular U.S. hip-hop drama Empire. PonoMusic has had a troubled time of late. Last July, the company announced it would enter “offline” mode, but hasn’t switched back “on.” There hasn’t been a message from the official PonoMusic Twitter account since Jan. 24.

The Big Stage

It’s official: the 2017 National Folk Festival was a resounding success. An aggregate crowd of up to 48,000 soaked up the good vibes and cracking weather at the 51st annual fest, which took place over Easter at Canberra’s Exhibition Park. Among the big highlights:  Jessie Lloyd’s packed out Mission Songs Project which, with a line-up of top Indigenous artists, presented a rare collection of early Australian Indigenous contemporary songs that were performed on missions and settlements.

It was the young women of the festival that led the way when awards were handed out at the Finale Concert, with the likes of Loren Kate (Lis Johnston Award for Vocal Excellence), Charm of Finches (Gill Rees Award), The Drowsy Maggies (Peter J Daly Memorial Award) and Monique Clare (The Folk Alliance of Australia Youth Folk Award) among the big winners. TIO’s sister title The Brag was a presenting partner on this year’s five-day fest.

Organisers have confirmed the 52nd National Folk Festival will be held from 29 March – 2 April 2018. Mark it in the diary.

Final word

The music business has always been a boys’ club, and never has it been more obvious than on the latest U.S. singles chart. No women appeared in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100’s chart, dated April 29. You’ll have to travel back to 1984 for the last time the top tier of the chart was such a blokey place.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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