|THURSDAY 21 MARCH 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: We already knew that the UK record industry saw its revenues rise in 2018, obviously. The Entertainment Retailers Association confirmed earlier this month that just over £1.3 billion went through the musical tills of record shops and digital services last year. But now record label trade body BPI has also confirmed that trade revenues were up 3.1% to £865.5 million... [READ MORE]|
UK recorded music revenues up 3.1% in 2018, though, you know, "value gap"
This increase was chiefly thanks to the premium streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, and no fucking thanks at all to YouTube, of course. But that's pretty much a given in the modern music business, right? However, if you want the figures, the subscription side of streaming was up 34.9% in 2018, with said subscriptions now 54% of UK recorded music income. Which in good old fashioned British pounds comes in at £467.6 million.
As for YouTube-type services like, well, YouTube? Says the BPI alongside its brand new stats pack, the record industry's revenue revival could have been "greater still had video streaming platforms, predominantly YouTube, generated a great deal more than just £29.7 million in return for an estimated 30 billion-plus annual plays of music videos in the UK". Yeah YouTube, vinyl brings in nearly double that. And as we all know - for all the vinyl revival hype - only my mate Jen and your uncle Phil actually buy vinyl.
Physical across the board was down, down, down, to £240.7 million, while downloads were again down loads (which is good news for the repeat use of that weak gag) to £81.5 million.
Sync was up though. Good old sync. A whole £25.5 million came in from sync. That's a mega-bucks 2.9% of the market! Thank the Lord for all those music conference panels telling us that sync is the be all and end all of the modern music industry. Though music supervisors of the world, that figure doesn't include telly sync. There's your get out.
And let us never forget, across the board UK record industry revenues were up! To £865.5 million! A 3.1% year-on-year rise! A 21.8% increase since 2015! And all because of "the popularity of diverse British artists and innovative record label marketing" says the BPI. And all the nostalgic hype around that Queen movie. And the fucking 'Greatest Showman'.
"The recorded music industry in the UK is showing consistent growth, driven by investment in new talent, innovative global marketing, and offering music fans outstanding choice, convenience and value", says BPI boss Geoff Taylor.
"The outlook for the future remains positive", he adds, although, this being a record industry stats pack launch, there has to be some gripes. You know, safe harbour, YouTube and the bloody "value gap". Piracy returns to that list too. And the need for more music education funding is on there as well now. Which is an interesting and welcome development.
"Long-term growth", the gripe list begins, "depends on robust government action to tackle the value gap, promote investment, ensure online platforms take responsible action to reduce infringement, and secure the future talent pipeline by giving state school pupils the opportunity to discover and develop their talent".
R Kelly asks court to be allowed to perform in Dubai
The musician says that he has struggled to find work performing in the US since his recent arrest. Shows elsewhere in the world have also been cancelled. However, he now hopes to perform five concerts in Dubai next month, if the Cook County Circuit Court will grant him permission to leave the country.
Few details of the shows are given in a new legal filing, but his attorneys say that they were arranged prior to his arrest. It states that he also plans to meet members of the royal families in the United Arab Emirates.
"[Kelly] cannot work, and consequently cannot make a living if he is confined to Illinois, or even the United States", says the court filing. "[He] needs to generate income".
Kelly's financial problems have been well documented. His attorney recently said that they were due to poor management, although the music star has also found it increasingly difficult to work in recent years, as accusations of abuse re-emerged and escalated.
The $100,000 required to secure his bail was paid by a woman who listed herself as "a friend" in court documents. When he was jailed again this month for failing to pay an outstanding child support bill of more than $160,000, this too was paid off by an anonymous benefactor.
While numerous women have come forward and accused Kelly of abuse in recent years, attention on these claims came to wider attention with the broadcast of documentary series 'Surviving R Kelly' earlier this year. In February, he was arrested and charged with ten counts of sexual assault against four women between 1998 and 2010. Three of the women were underage at the time of the alleged incidents.
Kelly denies all the accusations against him. If found guilty on the current charges he is facing, he could be sentenced to up to 70 years in prison. He is next due in court for a hearing on those charges tomorrow, at which point a ruling on allowing him to travel to the Middle East could be made.
Spirit Music founder formally launches new music business
The new business, in development since 2017, has been set up by Spirit Music founder Mark Fried and former Spirit SVP Peter Shane, along with Alan Wallis, formerly with Ernst & Young. The company formally launches with an acquisition already under its belt, of Nashville-based HoriPro Entertainment Group, which brings with it a catalogue of 15,000 songs, including works from Kiss, REO Speedwagon and George Strait. The deal means Mojo will now have a base in Nashville as well as New York and London.
Commenting on the formal launch of his new business, Fried said: "I'm THRILLED to be launching a new venture with driven, like-minded partners and surrounded by some of the best songs and songwriters on the planet". He added that the new company would not only be "pitching songs and syncs like our lives depended on it", but also "bringing our writers' songs and stories to life across traditional and new media".
Former HoriPro exec and now Mojo Music SVP Butch Baker added: "Mojo and HoriPro are a hand-in-glove fit! Anybody who knows us knows we've always been about our family of songs and songwriters. With Mojo, we now have the resources to super-serve them here in Nashville and take them beyond our borders into cross-genre co-writes, custom syncs and creative projects with TV, film and new media producers all over the world".
The Social raises funds needed to stay open, while Music Venue Trust hits out at landlords of the now closed Cellar
As the venue reached its 20th anniversary, management their announced that the operator of a cocktail and wine bar chain had made an offer to the leaseholders of the building where The Social is situated to take over its space. With the venue already under pressure from rising rents, the crowdfunding campaign was launched in order to buy a controlling stake in the lease, thus securing its future.
Saying that the campaign had received a "genuinely staggering response", the venue's managers told nearly 1500 backers: "The £95,000 was to help take the bar off the market and secure a stake in the lease which would give us a share of the business. Your incredibly generous pledges have stopped any potential sale and given us breathing space".
The funding goal has now been extended to £150,000, with a deadline now set for mid-April. If this new target is reached, say the venue's owners, the extra funds will be used to "do some essential bar improvements and give us time to effectively plan how to finance the next 20 years of The Social".
Outside the online campaign, there will also be a number of fundraising events at the venue, starting with a Fatboy Slim DJ set this Saturday.
Elsewhere in grassroots venue news, the Music Venue Trust has hit out at a statement made by the charity group that owns the building that housed, until last week, The Cellar in Oxford. Going all Theresa May in distancing itself from recent disappointing developments, the St Michael's And All Saints' Charities claimed to have bent over backwards to help the Hopkins family, who operated The Cellar venue for 40 years.
"At the forefront of the minds of the Charities is the music scene in Oxford", it said in a statement to the Oxford Mail. "To this end we have made considerable changes to our plans for the building, at a cost to us and our beneficiaries, to enable the premises to continue to be used as a music venue. On top of that we have offered to pay for the works required to make the premises safe, notwithstanding these were works for which the tenant was responsible. The funds raised through crowdfunding could then have been used for other much needed improvements to the venue".
Insisting that it had made "generous concessions", the charity said that it could not then offer a deal on rent at a cost that the Hopkins family felt was affordable.
"Now that The Cellar has made the decision to close its doors, we are looking to find an alternative and quality tenant to carry on the much loved music scene in Oxford", the landlords went on. "Keen interest has been expressed by other parties wishing to run a music venue and we hope that before long, music will once again return to the Cellar, in safety".
The safety issues referenced in the charity's statement relate to fire officers insisting that a better fire escape was required and that the venue's capacity had to be cut until that was installed. The successful crowdfunding campaign referenced would have paid for the new fire escape.
The capacity cut was one of various challenges the Hopkins family faced in keeping The Cellar open. Although before that, the main problem was attempts by St Michael's And All Saints' Charities to stop the space being used as a music venue entirely. Something noted by the Music Venue Trust in its response to the charity's statement.
"The final outcome of two years of campaigning by local people is, whatever intent the landlord stated they had, that the existing venue - run by a much admired family, powered by a passion and commitment to the local scene - has been lost", says MVT. "The landlords state that they want to be 'champions of live music in the city', but put simply they have lost a tenant who was keenly committed to that cause and are now, apparently, seeking to replace them with another tenant to do the exact same thing".
Doubting the charity's apparent confidence that a new music venue operator could be found quite so easily, the organisation went on: "If the rent was not affordable by Tim and his family, who have given years of their lives and thousands of pounds of their own money to supporting Oxford's music scene, it is not going to be affordable to any other operator who is prepared to take the venue on".
Saying that it will nevertheless "support any one who is able to" keep the property going as a music venue, MVT noted that "two years ago the landlord was happy to close this venue to try to maximise its profit", saying that "the pursuit of maximum profit" still appeared to be its goal.
"Until landlords such as this are made to appreciate that they are part of an entire community and that not every square inch of land can be maximised for profit without destroying the heart and soul of our cities, we are going to go on seeing venues across the land closed down", it concluded. "In this particular case, the landlord is a charity. If even charities are so driven by a profit motive that they are unable to appreciate their duties and obligations to local communities, then we are in a very sad and sorry place".
In its report on the live music industry earlier this week, the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media And Sport Select Committee warned that an "unprecedented" number of grassroots venue closures present a "real threat that without access to spaces to hone their live craft, the next generation of musicians will struggle to maintain the UK's position at the forefront of the industry". Particularly if touring in Europe becomes more difficult for emerging artists if the UK leaves the EU.
The committee advised the government to review how recent business rates increases are affecting small venues, and to also consider offering new tax relief or extend existing programmes.
Mavis Staples announces new album We Get By
"These songs are delivering such a strong message", she says. "We truly need to make a change if we want this world to be better".
That message is particularly prevalent on opening track and new single 'Change', which you can listen to here.
Staples will also be touring in support of the new album, explaining: "I just wanted the world to know that I made it to 80! I am letting my fans know that I'm over the hill but now I'm going over the mountain".
Here are her UK and Ireland dates:
23 Jun: Dublin, Olympia Theatre
Cate Le Bon announces rewarding new album
Although written in isolation, the recording of the album was not so solitary. She spent time in studios around the UK and US, with other performers including Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, H Hawkline and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer.
'Reward' is out on 24 May, and you can listen to first single, 'Daylight Matters', now. Le Bon will also play live at Village Underground in London on 10 Jun.
7digital, Post Malone, Morrissey, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• 7digital has appointed a new Chief Financial Officer in the form of Julia Hubbard. She replaces David Holmwood, who has been acting CFO since last June.
• Post Malone has released the video for 2018 single 'Wow'.
• Morrissey has released his cover of Jobriath's 'Morning Starship', featuring Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste.
• The Bug has announced that he will release an album under his real name, Kevin Richard Martin, titled 'Sirens'. Listen to first single, 'Kangaroo Care', here.
• Lizzo has teamed up with Missy Elliott for new track 'Tempo'. It will feature on Lizzo's new album, 'Cuz I Love You', out on 19 Apr.
• Broken Social Scene have announced that they will release new EP 'Let's Try The After Vol 2' on 12 Apr. You can listen to a track from it, 'Can't Find My Heart', now.
• Rose Elinor Dougall has released new single 'Take What You Can Get'. Her new album, 'A New Illusion', is out on 5 Apr. She'll also play Thousand Islands in London on 26 Mar.
• Lafawndah has released new single, 'Storm Chaser'. Her debut album, 'Ancestor Boy', is out this Friday.
• Sacred Paws have announced that they will release new album, 'Run Around The Sun', on 31 May. Here's new single 'The Conversation'.
• Arlo Parks has released new single 'Romantic Garbage', ahead of her debut EP, which is out on 15 Apr.
• Doomsquad have released the video for new single 'Dorian's Closet'.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Roger Daltrey doesn't understand Brexit pressures on younger g-generation, says MEP
The Who frontman reacted angrily to being asked about Brexit's effect on rock music by Sky News last week. "What's it got to do with the rock business?" he asked, when queried on whether Brexit would be bad for his industry. At the suggestion it might make touring in Europe more difficult, he spat: "Oh dear, as if we didn't tour in Europe before the fucking EU". He then suggested that being an EU member was like being governed by the mafia.
Earlier in the interview, Who guitarist Pete Townshend had already said that things are harder for bands now than when he and Daltrey started out, mainly because there are so many more acts vying for the same work these days. So at least one of them realises that times might be a little bit different for newer artists today.
In a statement to the NME, Labour Party MEP Julie Ward says that there would undoubtedly be greater costs to UK musicians wishing to tour Europe if we leave the EU. However, it wouldn't be the likes of Daltrey who would suffer from this.
"The 60s were filled with music that defined political movements - in many cases responding to the growing cultural and generational divide between the young and the old", she says. "Today, Brexit is driving a wedge between generations once again".
"Despite what Daltrey says, Brexit will impact bands in the form of additional visas and carnets that will fall heavily on touring musicians and technical staff", she goes on. "Perhaps a mega-band like The Who can absorb the additional costs, but it is the up and coming younger artists and the smaller to medium sized venues that will suffer the most from Brexit".
She adds: "As a Labour MEP and a member of the Culture Committee in the European Parliament, I know just how important music is as a cross-cutting issue in respect of economic and social well-being, not to mention the role of music in cultural diplomacy as an effective bridge-builder in foreign affairs".
Yes, although perhaps we should drop The Who off the list of "bridge-builders" for the moment. The good news is, with the Brexit deadline just over a week away, the UK government still has no real clear plan for what it wants or intends to do. Despite Parliament voting that there's at least one thing it doesn't want, that one thing - crashing out of the EU without a deal - is still a very real possibility. In which case, touring anywhere will probably become much less of a priority as we all fight over food and medicine. Good times.