|MONDAY 20 MAY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Woodstock company announced on Friday that it has now allied with the bankers at Oppenheimer & Co as it seeks to secure the remaining finance required to stage its planned 50th anniversary event in August... [READ MORE]|
Woodstock announces new banker alliance, hopes to put tickets on sale soon
The organisers of Woodstock 50 were in court last week, of course, in a dispute with their previous financial backers Amplifi Live, which is a division of marketing group the Dentsu Aegis Network. Dentsu had previously pulled its funding for the event and announced that the festival had therefore been cancelled. But a New York court confirmed last week that the marketing group had no right to unilaterally cancel the event, and a judge banned the company from sending out any future correspondence talking about any cancellation.
In the wake of that ruling, a legal rep for Woodstock criticised comments Dentsu made about the judgement, even though the marketing firm conceded that "pursuant to the court's ruling [we] cannot cancel the festival without Woodstock 50's agreement". Nevertheless, attorney Marc Kasowitz said Woodstock's ex-backer had shown contempt by defending its previous decision to attempt to cancel the festival.
Kasowitz said last week: "In its public statements, Dentsu has shown utter contempt for the court's decision, and continues to show utter contempt for the Woodstock 50 festival. The court unambiguously ruled that Dentsu had no right to try to assert control over the festival in Dentsu's efforts to cancel it".
"Indeed", he went on, "Dentsu and its affiliated companies are explicitly enjoined from suggesting that there has been a cancellation or interfering with any of the festival stakeholders. Nevertheless, Dentsu has decided to disregard the court's clear directive and suggest that it still has the right to kill the festival. Dentsu is dead wrong and Woodstock 50 is proceeding as planned".
Although it is true that the New York court ruled in Woodstock's favour over the question of whether or not Dentsu could cancel the 50th anniversary event, the judge declined to issue an order forcing the marketing group to return $17.8 million of funding that it had removed from the festival's bank account. It's no secret that, even as the dispute with Dentsu was ongoing, the Woodstock company had been sounding out possible new backers that could provide the necessary finance to ensure the August show can go on.
It has been reported that live music giants Live Nation and AEG have both previously declined to get involved, they being the most obvious possible partners to get on board at this relatively late stage. That led to questions being asked over whether or not organisers could realistically get the required finance in place in time. Presumably the Woodstock company hopes that the appointment of Oppenheimer & Co might end such pessimistic chatter.
It said on Friday: "The Woodstock 50 team is pleased to announce that Oppenheimer & Co has signed on as a financial advisor to complete the financing for the festival following a legal victory earlier this week. Event preparations will continue as planned as Oppenheimer joins the list of strong institutions producing the festival".
Meanwhile John Tonelli, Head Of Debt Capital Markets & Syndication at the bank, said: "We are THRILLED to be on board for this incredible weekend of music and social engagement. We believe in Woodstock as an important American cultural icon and look forward to its regeneration in the green fields of Watkins Glen this August with all of the artists on the remarkable line-up".
Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang, who has been something of a frontman for the 50th anniversary celebrations, added: "We've lined up artists who won't just entertain, but will remind the world that music has the power to bring people together, to heal, to move us to action and to tell the stories of a generation".
He then insisted that "words cannot express how appreciative Woodstock 50, the artists, the fans and the community are to Oppenheimer for joining with us to make W50 a reality". Which sounds a little OTT. But I guess it's true that the artists who have been booked to play would appreciate getting paid, and would therefore be appreciative of anyone who can help ensure that will happen.
And for their part, fans would presumably appreciate it if tickets would go on sale sooner rather than later. Following the bank's involvement, Friday's announcement promised news very soon about an on-sale date.
Australian court orders web-blocks against stream-ripping sites
Web-blocking, of course, has become a preferred anti-piracy tactic for the music industry in those countries where injunctions of this kind are available. That includes Australia, where a specific new law passed in 2015 said that courts could order internet service providers to block access to any websites that had a 'primary purpose' of facilitating copyright infringement. That law was then amended last year so that web-blocks could be instigated against sites where infringement was simply the 'primary effect'.
To date, most web-blocks around the world have targeted more conventional file-sharing sets ups like The Pirate Bay, even though stream-ripping sites have been at the top of the music industry's piracy gripe list for a while now. But it emerged back in January that the Aussie music industry was now seeking web-blocks against the stream-rippers.
Most stream-ripping sites would insist that they have legitimate as well as illegitimate uses and therefore shouldn't be on the receiving end of injunctions of this kind. Though similar arguments have always been put forward by most file-sharing platforms, and the music industry would likely argue that the stream-ripping sites have done nothing to try to limit the use of their sites by infringers, and in many cases they implicitly endorse such use.
Computerworld confirmed last week that Music Rights Australia had now successfully secured web-blocks against sites like Convert2mp3, Flv2mp3, Flvto and 2conv.
The latter of those sites have also been on the receiving end of more conventional copyright litigation in the US, where web-blocks are not currently available to rights owners. Though a US court recently dismissed the record industry's lawsuit against the Russian operator of Flvto and 2conv on the grounds it didn't have jurisdiction. A move that will only amplify calls Stateside for some kind of web-blocking system to be launched there too.
For the story so far on all things web-blocks, check out this recent special edition of Setlist: 'How web-blocking became the anti-piracy tool of choice'.
PledgeMusic publishes links for accessing data and downloads
The fan-funding and pre-order platform's founder Benji Rogers confirmed earlier this month that the Pledge company - which he himself stopped working for in 2017 - was now heading into administration. Long-running financial problems at the Pledge business had resulted in many artists who ran campaigns on the site not getting paid the money they had raised on time, or in some cases at all. The site then ceased operations in February.
It was hoped that a buyer could be found for the company which would result in a cash-injection that could be used to pay all out-standing artist debts. But Rogers said that a possible buyer had now decided not to go ahead with any acquisition.
Communications from Pledge itself have been somewhat lacking in recent months. In a short statement on its website, the company's board now say: "As many of you know, PledgeMusic suspended operations a number of months ago. The company continues to work with outside counsel on the most appropriate next steps, and we will update you with those specifics as we get more information".
Links are then provided where artists can download all their fan data from the platform, while consumers who have bought digital music from the site in the past are offered a link where they can access past purchases. Both of which are useful. Though for the artists owed money - and the fans owed products from the artists owed money - some data and some downloads won't be all that much of a consolation.
Spotify to launch in-car listening device, but only for research purposes
Spotify's first hardware gizmo actually goes by the rather understated name of Car Thing. Possibly because the company is trying very hard to play down suggestions that this voice-activated in-car device is Spotify's first big move into hardware.
"While we know there has been some speculation about our future plans", Spotify wrote on Friday, referencing frequent chatter to the effect that it is planning a move into streaming gadgets, "Car Thing was developed to help us learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts". Please note, Spotify then added, that "our focus remains on becoming the world's number one audio platform - not on creating hardware".
Certain Spotify users in the US will be approached about using the Car Thing as part of a test project, in doing so letting the streaming firm learn about their in-car listening habits. In its blog post Spotify also admitted that a Voice Thing and a Home Thing might follow (word has it trademark applications for all these Things have been filed). But it still wants us to know that these gadgets are all about research and development.
For now at least. Because these pilots will only heighten that speculation that Spotify is in fact planning to enter the consumer electronics space at some point in the future. Such speculation, you see, is the Inevitable Thing.
Tyler, The Creator returns to the UK after ban lifted, but has first show back cancelled
The rapper was banned from Britain at the behest of then Home Secretary Theresa May. "The Home Secretary has the power to exclude an individual if she considers that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good or if their exclusion is justified on public policy grounds", said a spokesperson for the UK's Home Office at the time.
Tyler's manager, Christian Clancy, countered that the ban had been put in place due to lyrics he wrote "six or seven years" earlier that no longer represented him as an artist. It was also pointed out that, up until that point, he'd performed in the UK numerous times without issue.
Still, the ban stayed in place. It's not exactly clear when it was lifted, but Tyler posted a video of himself outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday, later announcing that he would be appearing at the Bussey Building in Peckham that afternoon. However, when hundreds of people turned up hoping to get into the impromptu show, the performance was cancelled.
The rapper initially claimed on social media that the "cops cancelled it", but the Metropolitan police said that while officers had been present, it was the venue's decision not to go ahead with the show.
Tyler, The Creator released new album, 'Igor', last week. From it, this is 'Earfquake'.
The Netherlands wins Eurovision, as the UK comes last
For the second year, the public voting scores were added after all the country-by-country jury votes had been announced. This does add an extra level of tension, although you still have to sit there for what seems like about nine years while the jury votes from 41 countries are called in, before you then get to the relatively quick final stage.
Sweden's John Lundvik came in first place at the end of the jury vote with 'Too Late For Love', but when the public points were added he got less than half of what he needed to overtake The Netherlands, ultimately finishing in sixth place.
It was a double lose for Lundvik, who also co-wrote the UK's entry 'Bigger Than Us', performed by Michael Rice. The song came in last, receiving just thirteen points from the jury votes and three from the public vote. To put that in perspective, The Netherlands got 492 in total. We didn't do the worst in each set of voting - hosts Israel got twelve jury points and Germany received nul points from the public vote - but Rice was still very much bottom at the end of it all.
It didn't really seem fair for Rice to do quite so badly; it was the most credible song the UK has entered for a long time. Although there isn't a lot to it beyond a man repeating "it's bigger than us" over and over again with different levels of intensity. And some have suggested that that message didn't come across very well at a time when the UK is trying to break away from Europe and look for bigger things on its own.
So, maybe there was a bit of a Brexit backlash involved in the UK entry doing so badly points-wise. Then again, a good number of people on social media pointed out that it would be funny to vote for the UK to win, so that next year (possibly post-Brexit) we'd have to put on a show that pushes the idea of togetherness and unity across Europe. And, in theory, voting shenanigans of that kind could have cancelled out any anti-Brexit sentiment.
Though, probably not. It does seem likely that the UK being a bit cunty to Europe for the last three years (and the rest) hasn't stood us in particularly good stead. There's also the fact that we're part of 'The Big Five' - those countries that contribute the most money to the show and therefore qualify for the final automatically. Which is something Eurovision fans in those countries that have to go through the rigmarole of the semi-finals possibly resent.
Three of those 'big five' countries - the UK, Germany and Spain - appeared in the bottom five, along with host country Israel, which also went through automatically. France's Balal Hassani fared better, coming in fourteenth with his song 'Roi'. Meanwhile Italy bucked the trend with Mahmood's 'Soldi' finishing second - although the song has already been a massive hit around Europe, so that certainly helped.
Of course, while the public does its voting, the host country has to come up with something to fill the time, which Israel did well. A group of six former finalists - Conchita Wurst, Måns Zelmerlöw, Eleni Foureira, Verka Serduchka and Gali Atari - performed each other's songs. Last year's winner Netta Barzilai performed her new single 'Nana Banana'. And Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel performed his song 'Bo'ee (Come With Me)' with the 26 finalists of this year's competition.
The big draw, however, was Madonna, who was - of course - drafted in to headline the whole affair. Her appearance was beset with problems from the off - organisers had issues with the political content of new song 'Future', and a dispute over the broadcast rights for 'Like A Prayer', which she sang to mark its 30th anniversary, meant her contract was not signed until Thursday. The contract issues meant that at one point she was barred from entering the venue for rehearsals and it seemed possible that she would not actually perform.
Then, of course, there were the widespread protests against her performance. The competition being held in Israel was already controversial and activists who campaign for a cultural boycott of the country quickly turned their attentions to the big star booking. Speaking for this movement on the BBC's 'Newsnight' programme, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie labelled the singer "a total prostitute".
"Madonna would do anything for money, she's a total prostitute", he said. "And I've got nothing against prostitutes. The whole thing is set up to normalise the state of Israel, and its disgraceful treatment of the Palestinian people. Madonna would do anything for money".
Whatever her motivations, and despite the hurdles she had to get over, she did turn up in Tel Aviv and she did sing. So was all the hassle worth it? Hell no.
'Like A Prayer' sounded good for about ten seconds, before she went totally off key. She then maintained this complicated relationship with being in tune for the rest of the song. Not a fitting tribute for the song's big birthday. And on 'Future' - for which she was joined by Migos's Quavo - she did manage to get in her political dig, but then she performed with a layer of effects on her voice that was so heavy that it wasn't really clear if she was singing at all.
It certainly says something about the quality of the event this year that Madonna's performance was the worst in it by a considerable distance. After the 26 finalists' performances, where there were some great voices, some very inventive staging and, hey, even a few good songs, Madonna's efforts were really shown up. Australia's entry sang opera while bouncing around on a big bendy pole. So that's the benchmark now.
Still, Madonna does stand to do the best out of it all financially, so there's that. Whatever, here is what is now officially the best song in Europe, 'Arcade' by Duncan Laurence.
Mark Ronson, The Raconteurs, Morrissey, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Mark Ronson has released new single 'Don't Leave Me Lonely', featuring Yebba.
• The Raconteurs have released new single 'Help Me Stranger'.
• Morrissey has released the video for his cover of 'Lady Willpower', originally by Gary Puckett And The Union Gap.
• The Hives have released new single 'I'm Alive' on Jack White's Third Man label. "'I'm Alive' is a song about crawling up from under a rock and obliterating all resistance that sounds like crawling up from under a rock and obliterating all resistance because it is a band crawling up from under a rock and obliterating all resistance", says frontman Pelle Almqvist. "Use it in your own life to help you obliterate your own resistance!" Alright then.
• Hellyeah have released new single 'Welcome Home', the title track from their new album, which is out on 27 Sep.
• Gaz Coombes has released new single 'Salamander'. He started a UK tour yesterday, so bad luck if you wanted to see him in Oxford.
• Yizzy has released new track 'Deh Suh'.
• Ängie has released new single 'Orgy Of Enemies', featuring Zheani. "The song is [about] a thirteen to fourteen year old little girl in her deepest depression, wanting to kill herself because no one cared, no one listened", she says. "Everyone was bullying her and the song is visualising her everyday panic attacks and her hate of humanity. That little girl was me".
• Haiku Hands have released the video for 'Dare You Not To Dance', and announced a handful of shows, including a performance at London's 100 Club on 2 Aug.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Icelandic canyon remains closed as Bieber fans cause damage to fragile nature
The Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon was once a little known destination, rarely visited by anyone but locals in the know. That was until Bieber was shown running around it in his 2015 video for 'I'll Show You'.
That video currently has almost 445 million views on YouTube. And many of those viewers quite likely thought to themselves, 'wow, that looks lovely'. Because it does. Old JB's there, just wandering alone around this unspoiled patch of nature. Who wouldn't want to visit and experience that?
Indeed, the pop promo seems to have done wonders for tourism in the area, because lots of people travel there wanting to experience the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon just like Bieber did. Although, all those new visitors make finding solitude in an unspoiled landscape that much harder to achieve. In fact, so many people have been travelling there, that in March this year the Icelandic Environment Agency made the decision to close it to the public for two weeks.
The closure came at a time of year when the vegetation in the canyon is particularly fragile, as the ground has not yet thawed as winter turns to spring. However, even once out of that danger zone, the closure was extended to the beginning of June. It's the second time that the canyon has been closed to the public since the Bieber video first aired.
Although Bieber has taken a lot of the flack for the damage done by the massively increased tourism in the area, Gudbrandsson told the Associated Press recently that it's "a bit too simplistic to blame the entire situation on Justin Bieber".
However, he added that celebrities should be more careful when promoting tourist attractions such as this to a large audience. "Rash behaviour by one famous person can dramatically impact an entire area if the mass follows", he said.
Damage done by tourists to picturesque destinations has become a recurring news story in recent years - particularly in places where people travel in large numbers to take selfies for social media. Earlier this year, following a large boom as a holiday destination in the last few years, the Faroe Islands was closed to tourists for one weekend, except those willing to come and carry out maintenance that was required at well-trodden tourist areas. Thousands of people from 25 countries applied for the 100 maintenance roles on offer.
Meanwhile, Bieber fans aren't the first to cause damage to an area while trying to catch sight of somewhere their hero has been. Back in 2013, Japanese boyband Arashi appeared in an advert for airline JAL. In it, they came across five trees in a field - one for each band member. One suggested that they call them 'The Arashi Trees', while another said that they should definitely not do that, because then the trees would no longer be free.
Arashi fans acted quickly, ignoring that last bit and naming the trees 'The Arashi Trees'. Then, basically doing what they'd been told, they started booking plane tickets in order to travel to the small village of Kamifurano to find said trees.
Villagers quickly complained that these travellers dropped litter everywhere and churned up the fields around the village while searching for the now famous vegetation. Not only that, they started cutting off pieces of the trees when they did eventually find them, which is definitely not what the advert was suggesting.
In the end, the farmer who owned the land planted two more trees next to the existing ones, so that fans wouldn't be able to spot five trees standing together. A simple solution. Albeit not one that can easily be applied to the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon problem. Although if the Icelandic tourist board does want to dig two more canyons to throw Bieber fans off the scent, I'm not going to stand in their way.
Tell you what, let's finished with the video for Justin Bieber's utterly, totally and completely fucking awful collaboration with Ed Sheeran, 'I Don't Care', which I don't think is going to make anyone want to do anything.