|WEDNESDAY 5 JUNE 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: An assortment of UK music industry trade bodies and charities have come together in a bid to support artists impacted by the collapse of pre-order and fan-funding platform PledgeMusic. The initiative is launching with a survey designed to assess the scale of that impact... [READ MORE]|
UK industry unites to assess impact of Pledge collapse
Pledge co-founder Benji Rogers announced last month that the company was heading into administration after attempts to sell the business had failed. Rogers left the company in 2017 but returned as a part-time consultant on a voluntary basis once the scale of the firm's financial problems became clear.
Artists who had used Pledge to raise money for projects started to complain about late payments last year. Then in October the company admitted to having financial problems that had resulted in artists being paid late, but it said that changes in the business should overcome the issues.
However, they did not and complaints of late payment continued, until Pledge finally suspended operations in February, saying that it hoped a buyer could be found that would allow all artist monies caught up in the mess to be handed over. That also did not happen, meaning artists owed money from the company are now unlikely to ever be paid.
Some artists owed cash by Pledge are immediately out of pocket because they have already produced whatever products their fans had 'pledged' money to receive, and will not now be able to recoup those costs from the pledged funds. Others artists have fans who have paid money and been promised as yet unproduced products, meaning the artist has to work out how to make good on the commitment they previously made to said fans.
It's not entirely clear how many artists are in this position or how much money the average act is owed, though it's thought that, in total, up to $3 million of unpaid artist monies are potentially tied up in the collapse of the Pledge business.
UK trade bodies UK Music, MMF, AIM, FAC, MPG, BPI, Musician's Union and the Ivors Academy - alongside music industry charities Help Musicians UK, Music Support, the PRS Foundation and the PRS Members' Fund - are now working together to assess the impact of Pledge's collapse, in order to consider how affected artists may be supported. And that all begins with a survey, which is online here.
The various trade bodies and charities said in a statement this morning: "As organisations who want to see the music industry thrive, we are deeply disappointed that PledgeMusic has announced its bankruptcy leaving artists and fans out of pocket and with little communication or advice on how to deal with campaign disruption".
"The failure of PledgeMusic to appropriately ring-fence artist and fan money has the potential to damage artists' careers and their relationships with fans and fellow creators if they can't deliver on stalled campaigns", they go on. "Individually, each of our organisations have been working hard to support our members during this difficult time. However, in order to consider collective action we have launched an industry-wide survey to assess the impact of the PledgeMusic closure".
That survey is supported by Pledge users Jesus Jones, who have been particularly vocal about the company's problems and collapse. They added: "As a band who've been affected by the collapse of PledgeMusic, it's really gratifying to see a strong industry-wide response taking place. As artists, as fans, as people who've come to realise the potential strength of crowdfunding, it's vital that we all stand together, and rebuild confidence - and also seek to ensure that Pledge are held accountable for betraying such a vital bond of trust".
UK Music has already called on the Competition And Markets Authority to investigate the collapse of Pledge, which had bases in both the UK and the US. Meanwhile AIM recently published lengthy guidelines for those affected by the company's bankruptcy.
US judge dismisses lawsuit over the big Ticketfly data hack
The website of US-based ticketing firm Ticketfly went offline around about this time last year following a hacking of its servers the previous month. At the time the company said that "following a series of recent issues with Ticketfly properties, we've determined that Ticketfly has been the target of a cyber incident".
It went on: "Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken all Ticketfly systems temporarily offline as we continue to look into the issue. We are working to bring our systems back online as soon as possible. Please check back later".
It was subsequently confirmed that, while no credit or debit card information was accessed during the big hack, other personal information linked to about 27 million Ticketfly accounts had been taken. Vice's tech site Motherboard also reported that the person behind the hack had claimed to have previously warned the ticketing set-up of a vulnerability on its platform, but that the hacker's warnings had gone unheeded.
The lawsuit followed in October and targeted Eventbrite, which acquired Ticketfly in 2017. The ticketing firm then formally responded in March seeking to have the case dismissed.
It argued that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that they had actually bought tickets from Ticketfly, the rest of the Eventbrite platform being unaffected by the hack. Plus, Eventbrite's lawyers argued, the lawsuit failed to explain why - even if the claimants had been directly impacted by the data grab - that had resulted in tangible harm.
According to Law360, judge Michael T Mullen basically concurred with Eventbrite's criticisms of the class action this week. Dismissing the lawsuit as it currently stands, he said that the plaintiffs need to explain what specific contract they had with the ticketing company that had been breached and how the data hack had caused "concrete injury".
On the latter point, Mullen ruled that the plaintiffs having to monitor their credit cards and bank accounts for any future fraud resulting from the hack was not sufficient. He remarked "you're only talking about potential harm".
It remains to be seen if the plaintiffs can deal with those issues in an amended lawsuit. If they do, Eventbrite already has another come-back prepared, to the effect that the litigation should have been filed in California not Illinois. The judge said he'd consider that argument if and when a second lawsuit is filed.
Downtown's Songtrust announces tie-up with IMRO
The Downtown service already has tie-ups with North American societies BMI, ASCAP and SOCAN, offering direct affiliation to those organisations for Songtrust users not already joined up to a collective management organisation.
However, BMI/ASCAP affiliation is restricted to US users, while Canadian society SOCAN is available to anyone but US users. IMRO is the company's first European partner in this domain and anyone anywhere can utilise the partnership.
Confirming the tie-up, Songtrust's Head Of Society Relations Dewayne Ector said: "We are very excited to partner with IMRO to help make the music publishing industry more accessible. With the industry more global than ever, providing a streamlined, simplified and transparent approach to collecting royalties worldwide is essential to ensuring that all creators are able to continue doing what they do best".
Meanwhile IMRO's boss Victor Finn added: "At IMRO, we are data-driven, and digital to the core, our focus has always been on innovating to drive efficiencies for our members, affiliates and partners. With globally-advanced systems, our services are efficient, effective and secure. We are delighted to announce this new global partnership with Songtrust which will streamline royalty collections for songwriters worldwide, adding to our rapidly growing international membership base".
Akon and Kedar Massenburg launch new label venture
The Akonik label will work with artists from the US and Europe, while Akonda will focus on the Nigeria-born genre afrobeats, Ke Lo Ke on Latin America, and Jamakon on Caribbean artists. All four labels will be distributed globally by BMG.
"This is an idea I wanted to do in 2010", Akon tells Billboard. "But at that time, the music business hadn't matured and diversified the way it [now] has in terms of being open to new genre fusions and not [being] as compartmentalised. We just want to bring a fresh ear and build an artist-driven company where people can be as creative as they wish without someone telling them what they have to do".
"Music is able to reach a global market with a touch of a button [now]", adds Massenburg. "It's 'global idol' now versus American Idol. And the public has become the A&R for labels. We're giving people a chance in other parts of the world that might not be heard. It's an exciting time as the music industry re-invents itself".
Massenberg has previous label experience, having been President and CEO of Motown from 1997 to 2004. The new label venture with Akon is set to start releasing music in the next month.
Proper to manage AWAL's global physical distribution
The London-based company already works with AWAL in the UK and Ireland and will now oversee delivery of physical product to various local partners around the world. It will also work with AWAL's US distribution partner AMPED on importing and exporting stock to and from North America.
AWAL's SVP Operations Silvia Montello says: "Working together, AWAL and Proper are able to offer a competitive, efficient solution that best supports the ever-evolving physical distribution needs of forward-thinking independent labels and artists. We're proud to deliver what remains a key part of the overall music consumption mix and income stream even in today's digital-focused landscape".
Proper MD Drew Hill adds: "We are excited to develop this new global relationship with AWAL and to take a central role in their delivery and accounting process. The deal marks a significant stage in Proper's continuing growth and showcases the company's drive to innovate our role within the music industry".
The Proper deal will also provide a central stock ordering service for AWAL-signed artists who need physical product for tour sales and direct-to-fan stores.
Electric Fields festival goes out of business
In a statement announcing the cancellation, organisers said: "This decision has not come lightly and we have put in our all to try to avoid this outcome, however we have been faced with challenges that we simply cannot overcome. As of today, Electric Fields ceases trading".
The first edition of Electric Fields took place at Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway in 2014. The fifth edition last year saw headline sets from James, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Leftfield.
In April this year, organisers announced that the event would be moving to Glasgow and would no longer allow camping. In a statement at the time, they said: "Due to the rising costs of producing outdoor camping festivals and ongoing logistical and transport challenges we have made the difficult decision to move site to an inner-city location in Glasgow".
Clearly issues still remained - not least that the move to Glasgow put them up against a number of larger events in the city. That includes DF Concerts' TRNSMT, which is set to take place the weekend after Electric Fields' planned dates. TRNSMT, of course, launched in 2017 as a non-camping festival to replace T In The Park, which closed after being forced to move sites and failing to make a new rural location work.
In their farewell statement yesterday, Electric Fields organisers said: "We cannot thank you enough for your support over the years and we are truly sorry that we have not been able to make this work. Never did we think the party we threw in a field in Thornhill for 100 of our friends would turn into a party for 7000 in the grounds of a castle. Especially not in five short years. But it did, and that is thanks to all of you who came along and made it what it was".
Refunds are available at the point of purchase.
Universal Music Publishing has signed Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía. "You know greatness when you see it", says UMPG boss Jody Gerson. "When you watch Rosalía, you know she is an important voice".
Music publisher Peermusic has promoted Rodrigo Domingues to be Managing Director of its Portuguese operation. "Over the years he has worked with us he has proved to be an excellent creative executive", say top execs Ralph Peer II and Mary Megan Peer.
Kesha has released new track 'Rich, White, Straight Men'.
Bastille have released new single, 'Those Nights'. The track is taken from new album, 'Doom Days', which is out next week.
Ty Segall will release new album 'First Taste' on 2 Aug. From it, this is 'Taste'.
(Sandy) Alex G has announced that he will release his new album, 'House Of Sugar', on 13 Sep. Here's first single 'Gretel'.
GIGS & TOURS
Ezra Furman has announced UK tour dates in November, taking in Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol, before winding up at The Forum in London on 14 Nov. Furman's new album, 'Twelve Nudes', is out on 30 Aug.
TR/ST have announced that they will play Heaven in London on 20 Nov. Their new album, 'The Destroyer - 1', is out now, with the second part set to follow in November, just in time for this show.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Teenage Pete Doherty wasn't an Oasis fan, he just wanted to get on the telly
In the clip, Doherty proclaims: "I subscribe to the Umberto Eco view that Noel Gallagher's a poet and Liam's a town crier". He's asked by presenter Eddy Temple-Morris to deliver the line a second time to make sure they've got it on film, and then whether or not he wants to be a TV presenter, to which he eagerly nods. Turns out that's exactly what he wanted.
"I wanna clear this one up", he tells Radio 1 presenter Phil Taggart on his 'Slacker' podcast. "I was working in the Trocadero Centre [in London] demonstrating wind-up frogs and I knew that there was something going on cos there was all these TV cameras and photographers and there was a giant cardboard cut-out of Noel and Liam, so I went down there - I just wanted to get on the telly".
He goes on: "I joined the queue, grabbed the cardboard cut-outs, was doing these stupid 'please photograph me' things, jumping on the back of an open top bus with these cardboard cut-outs and then the next morning running to the newsagents thinking I was gonna be on the front of the newspaper with these cardboard cut-outs."
"I wasn't queuing for an Oasis album", he insists. "My sister was a big Oasis fan, and I later tuned into them and decided they were brilliant, but at the time I was far more interested in getting photographed on the back of a bus with a cardboard cut-out."
Asked about that line he delivered, he said that he didn't recall where it had come from, but added: "Cracking line. Where did that come from? Belter. Go on me!"
Over the years, some have actually taken Doherty's remark at face value and assumed it was indeed a quote from Italian philosopher Umberto Eco. Luckily, prior to his death in 2016, someone got around to actually asking him if that was his view on Noel and Liam.
"No, that's false", said Eco, back in 2015. "I don't even know who these two people are. In the music world, I'm a dinosaur. I'm still stuck on the Beatles!"
Ah well. As far as I know, Eco never said anything about Pete Doherty either, so we'll never know if he had an opinion on how the Libertine's life panned out after that 1997 interview. But at least we know now that Doherty achieved his dream of getting on the telly.