|THURSDAY 23 MAY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Woodstock 50 saga continues, with organisers of the festival returning to court in a bid to force their former financial backer to return $17.8 million to the event's bank account... [READ MORE]|
Woodstock 50's ex-backer told to put disputed monies in escrow
The Woodstock company was initially working with a division of marketing group Dentsu in order to stage an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock festival. But then last month Dentsu bailed on the project and duly announced that the festival was therefore cancelled.
That then resulted in legal action from the Woodstock company, which said that its financial backer had no right to unilaterally cancel the festival, which is due to take place in August. And last week a New York judge agreed that, while the contract between Woodstock and Dentsu included provisions for the latter to either cancel the partnership or take more active control of the event, it didn't allow the marketing firm to cancel the whole show.
Team Woodstock declared that court ruling a victory and insisted that Woodstock 50 would now go ahead in August as planned. However, to make that happen they still need to fill the hole in their budget that was left by Dentsu's departure from the project, something the bankers at Oppenheimer & Co were brought on to do last week.
One thing that would help with that budget hole filling task is if Dentsu was forced to return nearly $18 million that was sitting in the event's bank account at the point it pulled out of the project. The marketing group took those funds out of the account as it announced the (non) cancellation of the festival, but Woodstock argues that it didn't have the right to do that and should be forced to return the cash.
In last week's ruling, the judge overseeing the Woodstock/Dentsu dispute declined to order the latter to return that money at this time. Said judge concluded that the Woodstock company had failed to meet "the high burden entitling it to a mandatory injunction forcing [Dentsu] to provide W50 with access to the $17.8 million W50 is not contractually entitled to control".
On Tuesday, Woodstock's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, filed an appeal with the court over that element of last week's judgement, again seeking an immediate injunction forcing the return of that money. The court has not, as yet, provided any such injunction, but has told Dentsu that it must put the disputed cash (and a little bit extra) into an escrow bank account, pending further court consideration on what should ultimately happen to those funds.
Welcoming that development, Kasowitz told reporters yesterday: "Today, in an important step, Justice David Friedman of the Appellate Division, First Department, issued an order requiring that Dentsu and Dentsu Aegis deposit into escrow by Friday at 5pm the [money] that Dentsu swept from a Woodstock 50 Festival account. Justice Friedman issued this order pending the decision of a five judge panel on Woodstock 50's motion to return the funds to the Woodstock 50 festival account".
And so, the dispute goes on as the clock continues to tick towards Woodstock 50's 16 Aug showtime.
CD Baby offers automated track mastering
"A large segment of the indie artist community is drastically changing how they release music", says Kevin Breuner, VP of Marketing at CD Baby. "There is definitely a shift to releasing songs as soon as they are finished instead of the traditional album release. As artists release more and more singles, this [new partnership] gives them mastering options that fit within their budget and workflow. CloudBounce ensures these artists' master recordings have the final touches needed to sound totally pro".
Mastering will cost $4.90 per track and is generally complete a few minutes after a recording has been uploaded to CloudBounce's system - with the option for musicians to tinker further with the final file before signing it off.
The very idea of mastering without any human interaction possibly still sends shudders down many of your spines, even though systems like this have been around for a while. But if you are one of the spine shudderers, well, that's because services like this just aren't aimed at you. Or so reckons CloudBounce.
"Mastering engineers can do amazing work, but aren't always accessible to all artists or right for all projects", says CloudBounce CEO Anssi Uimonen. "Automated mastering is a perfect solution for self-managed and emerging artists. A mastered recording simply sounds more professional, giving it that polish that makes it far more likely to get onto a high-trafficked playlist. It should be the standard for all artists".
Elsewhere in CD Baby news, the DIY distributor this week mocked the improvements Sony Music has made to its royalty reporting platform, noting that it has offered the same (actually slightly better) reporting and payment options since 1998. They made a cake and everything.
IMS report on the dance music sector puts a spotlight on clubbing industry challenges
The report, presented at IMS by its author Kevin Watson, confirmed that the decline in nightclub venues is accelerating in multiple markets. The UK has seen particularly steep decline, with the report noting that "the number of nightclubs in Great Britain fell by 21% in the twelve months to December 2018, compared to a 1% decline per year between 2013 and 2017".
Clubs face many of the same challenges as gig venues, including licensing issues, and rising rents and business rates. Though, in a debate at the end of yesterday's IMS proceedings, a number of club promoters said that one of the biggest challenges in recent years has been the four-to-five-fold increase in the fees demanded by middle-level DJs.
This has forced up the costs of promoting nights, some of which has to be passed on to the consumer in the ticket price, which has the knock-on effect of clubbers taking less risks on new talent when choosing a night out. Agents often justify the higher fees by citing a DJ's social stats but, the promoters insist, a big social media audience doesn't necessarily translate into any ticket sales.
Of course, middle level DJs in part began pushing up their fees when they saw headliners in the clubbing domain starting to command - and get - silly money for every show, a trend escalated by the boom in dance music festivals a decade ago and the ultimately short-lived "SFX effect" that followed.
The IMS report points out that, according to Forbes, fees earned by the super-star DJs have now peaked and were down year-on-year in 2018. Though the promoters and club owners taking part in the IMS debate yesterday generally seemed willing to accept headliner fees as these are the DJs that do genuinely sell out a night.
Of course, every club promoter's ultimate ambition is to build a brand that doesn't rely on super-star bookings to bring in a crowd. There was a feeling that, with middle level DJs now overpriced, more clubs will start to rely on local DJ talent to fill the support slots, which could in turn create a local scene, that could make each club's promoters less reliant on securing the big name acts.
Beyond the nightclub challenges, the IMS report notes the continued resurgence of the recorded music business and how the dance music sector is a beneficiary of this, albeit in some markets more than others.
And there are other opportunities to be capitalised on as well. For example, the report notes, "the global videogames industry is worth seven times more than the music industry and represents a huge opportunity for electronic DJs and artists, as shown by recent collaborations between 'Grand Theft Auto' and Dixon, 'Fortnite' and Marshmello and 'Secret Lab' and Deadmau5".
Despite the opportunities, IMS reckons that the value of the overall electronic music industry dipped by 1% in the last year to $7.2 billion, mainly because of those challenges in the clubbing sector and the decline in super-star DJ fees. Nevertheless, the report concluded that "the global industry continues to mature and stabilise".
Youth Music calls on government to allow children to study music they actually like
The charity, which earlier this year said that music educators needed a much wider definition of music making, has now published a report with Birmingham City University. The university's researchers monitored the progress of Youth Music's Exchanging Notes programme, which saw the organisation invest in ten partnerships between community music organisations and school music departments.
The research found that children's experience of music at school is "often disconnected from their musical lives" outside the lessons. In a large part this is because they are taught in a way that does not connect with the music they're actually interested in. The projects supported as part of the Exchanging Notes programme gave students the autonomy to decide the type of music they would study.
Off the back of this, Youth Music CEO Matt Griffiths has now written an open letter to Education Minister Nick Gibb, and also the panel who are putting together a new (optional) model curriculum for teaching music, calling for changes to the current curriculum.
"Through effective partnership working between the schools and charities, young people participated in a music curriculum which reflected their diverse interests and existing lives in music", writes Griffiths. "This contributed to their personal development and emotional well-being as a result of regular music-making. An important factor was that the type of music explored in the curriculum wasn't imposed on them - it was instead decided and delivered with them. We urge you and the panel to take these research findings into consideration as you put together a model music curriculum".
He goes on: "Exchanging Notes tells us that this 'model' has at its core a creative, participatory and social approach to music that gives young people the opportunity to shape their own curriculum - driven by the music they are passionate about. By re-imagining the music curriculum in this way and scaling up the findings of Exchanging Notes across the country, music in schools has the potential to re-engage young people in education across all subjects, develop their confidence, resilience and self-belief, and create a more positive attitude to learning".
Marika Hackman announces new album, tour dates
"This whole record is me diving into myself and peeling back the skin further and further, exposing myself in quite a big way", says Hackman. "It can be quite sexual. It's blunt, but not offensive. It's mischievous. We all have this lightness and darkness in us".
She goes on: "After all is said and done, what it's saying is, you're alright, it's going to be fine. The album is very much about us all accepting each other's differences, the idea that we all want to be made of stone and be the same but in fact we're golden".
'Any Human Friend' is out on 9 Aug. Watch the video for 'I'm Not Where You Are' here. And here are the tour dates:
Slowthai announces £5 tour
Actually, last time it was only a select number of tickets that were available for less than a quid and this time all of them are a fiver. So it's equal opportunities this time round. Until the tickets go up on the secondary sites, I guess.
Tickets for the 'Bet Ya A £5er' tour will go on sale this Friday. Here are the dates:
13 Oct: Newcastle University
Nils Frahm, Roc Nation, Sofar Sounds, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Manners McDade has renewed its worldwide publishing deal with composer Nils Frahm. "We're extremely pleased to have signed another long-term worldwide publishing deal with Nils Frahm", says the company's Caroline Manners. "Such loyalty is rare in this business and it reflects the mutual respect and admiration that exists between us".
• Jay-Z's Roc Nation has fired several members of its executive team, including SVP Promotion Azim Rashid, SVP A&R Orlando McGhee, EVP Marketing Gita Williams and Senior Director of Publicity Fairley McCaskill. The company has not commented on the decision.
• Sofar Sounds has raised $25 million of new funding to further expand its business which, of course, organises secret intimate live music performances in unusual places. The company plans to improve opportunities for artists to monetise their performances and to secure more sponsored shows.
• ILMC's IQ website has spoken to a number of festivals, identifying economic uncertainty, homogenisation and difficulty booking talent as factors behind the slower than expected ticket sales at this year's UK festivals.
• Hopes that the HMV Hong Kong business (long separate from HMV UK) could be saved have been dashed after two potential buyers walked away from negotiations. Wong Sun-Keung of accounting firm Vision AS, which is overseeing the company's liquidation, told the South China Morning Post that the buyers pulled out after it became apparent that they would not be able to continue using the HMV name after the sale.
• Bilbao music conference BIME Pro has announced its first speakers for 2019, including Beyonce's father and former manager Mathew Knowles, founder of The Orchard Scott Cohen and music supervisor Joe Rudge. More information here.
• Diplo has released the video for Octavian collaboration 'New Shapes'.
• Mustard has announced that he will release new album, 'Perfect Ten', on 28 Jun.
• FKA Twigs has released a solo piano performance of her latest single, 'Cellophane', filmed at The Wallace Collection in London.
• Oh Land has released the video for the title track of her latest album 'Family Tree', directed by Helena Christensen.
• Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes have released the video for new single 'Kitty Sucker'.
• Yumi Zouma have released new single 'Bruise'. "We started writing the instrumental after our great friend Sam told us he was leaving the band and moving to Serbia. We were all distraught until Josh said, 'Cheer me up guys - let's write a song for Nelly Furtado'. Nelly never replied but we came up with a smash".
• The Golden Filter have announced that they will release new album, 'Autonomy', on 5 Jul. Here's the title track. They're also set to support Pantha Du Prince at London's Jazz Café on 13 Jun.
• The Raincoats have announced three UK shows to mark the 40th anniversary of their debut album. They will play EartH in London on 10 Nov, Komedia in Brighton on 13 Nov, and The White Hotel in Salford on 15 Nov.
• Brian Eno is set to receive the Stephen Hawking Medal at this year's Starmus Festival in recognition his contribution to "science communication". Not sure exactly what he's done, but Elon Musk is getting one too, so I assume he called someone a paedophile.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
The UK actually came even more last in Eurovision
But, you see, the final scores for this year's Eurovision have been recalculated. Why? Because the jury from Belarus wasn't allowed to vote in Saturday's grand final after it emerged that they had published their votes from the first semi-final, which is apparently a big no-no in Eurovision land. To compensate for that missing jury vote, organisers decided to add a substitute 'aggregated score' that was calculated based on the jury votes in other countries with similar voting records to Belarus.
That all sounds unnecessarily complicated. Which is possibly why whoever was charged with the task of calculating that substitute score screwed it up. Eurovision organiser the European Broadcasting Union explains: "Following standard review practices, we have discovered that due to a human error an incorrect aggregated result was used. This had no impact on the calculation of points derived from televoting across the 41 participating countries and the overall winner and top four songs of the contest remain unchanged".
Yeah, so fixing the error and redoing the sums doesn't change the fact that the Netherlands came first or that the UK came last. But now The Netherlands is more first and the UK is more last. The Netherlands' total score (with jury and public votes combined) goes up from 492 points to 498, while the UK goes down from sixteen to eleven. But hey, it's still not none, so there's that.
Why did the UK come so very, very last though? That's the big question. Brexit, say lots of people. Not least the singer of the UK entry, Michael Rice, who told The Sun: "I always knew I was going to come in this position because of Brexit. Do you know what? If it was Gary Barlow or Elton John, they still probably would have come last too. I've still had so much fun and I've not once doubted my talent or my singing".
If he was always quite so certain that he was going to lose, it makes you wonder why he even bothered. Also, I'm not sure it's very becoming to suggest that two of our biggest pop stars couldn't sell a song to Europe. After all, British music is still selling pretty well across the continent, despite all that Brexit stuff. Plus the UK was already doing pretty badly in Eurovision every year before Brexit was even a thing.
Of course, if you do exclude the Brexit backlash excuse, that mainly just leaves the song itself to blame for the last place position. And, while it was our most credible entry for some time, said song was simply not as good or performed as impressively as almost every other one in the competition this year. Other than Slovenia. What the fuck, Slovenia?
Of course, if you don't want to exclude the Brexit backlash excuse and you are still bothered about how we might look to other Europeans after three years of being a total dick, you could all use today's European elections to send a message to Europe that says we're all cool and friendly and want to be part of the gang again. Then maybe we could all sing a song about it at next year's Eurovision and steal the show! Except Eurovision is non-political, so that won't work. The voting thing might though.