|WEDNESDAY 15 JANUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: HMV has confirmed that five of its stores that were facing closure will remain open after new deals were reached with the relevant landlords. Efforts to keep shops in Bristol, Worcester and Dudley open have so far been unsuccessful... [READ MORE]|
Five HMV stores saved after deals done on rent
It's nearly twelve months since Canadian firm Sunrise Records bought HMV out of its second administration in six years. Like previous owner Hilco, Sunrise has been working hard to keep the UK retailer's overheads down, looking for the best possible deals on rent and moving stores around where necessary.
As part of that process, it emerged earlier this month that a number of HMV shops were set to close completely. Although for many of them, talks were ongoing with landlords to see if rents could be sufficiently cut to allow the stores to stay open.
HMV branches in Bury St Edmunds and Nuneaton, and an outpost of its Fopp brand in Glasgow, are definitely going. Meanwhile, in Leeds and Birmingham, where HMV launched new stores in 2019, the retailer's old bases in those cities will close their doors later this month.
However, there were eight other shops where closure might be averted if new deals could be agreed with each store's landlord. Such deals have now been reached to save HMV shops in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Reading, Sheffield and Grimsby. As it currently stands, new deals have not been done with the landlords of three other shops in Bristol, Worcester and Dudley.
Confirming that five of the shops previously facing closure would now stay open, HMV said in a statement: "We are delighted to announce that we have been able to secure new agreements on five stores which were previously under threat of closure".
"After previously widespread reports of the closure of these stores", it added, "this is great news for our staff and for our loyal customers in the communities, who can continue to look to HMV to provide the best entertainment offer on the high street and online".
As for Bristol, Worcester and Dudley, the HMV statement went on: "Unfortunately, some previously mentioned stores still remain under threat of closure at the end of this month unless new deals can be agreed".
HMV's new owners recently echoed statements previously made by Hilco when it put the entertainment retailer into administration at the end of 2018, to the effect that "extortionate" business rates charged by local authorities made some stores unviable even where landlords were willing to negotiate to an extent on rent payments.
UK Music says IP and other music matters should be brought together in government department rejig
This is happening because British Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson is planning a significant reorganisation of the UK's departments of government. You know, Brexit is going to be completely sorted by the end of the month, so what else have he and his team got to be getting on with?
The UK's Intellectual Property Office currently sits under the Department For Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, while other music industry issues tend to be addressed by the Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. Music education sits with education ministers, obviously, and the music industry also has relationships with the Department For International Trade on export initiatives.
Being lumped in with the culture brief sometimes works against the music industry, not least because there is often a high turnover of ministers in that domain, many politicians seeing a DCMS job as something you do as a stepping stone towards a role in a "proper" ministry. Some politicians also tend to think of culture as a "nice to have" thing, rather than a serious contributor to the UK economy.
Acknowledging the impending overhaul of UK government departments, outgoing UK Music boss Michael Dugher said yesterday: "It is vital that the forthcoming changes to government departments safeguard the future of our world-leading music industry which makes such an important contribution to our economy at home and our soft power overseas. Whilst we should not underestimate music's role in cultural terms, my fear is that the music industry could get left behind with the museums and art galleries in some kind of emaciated 'heritage' department".
"Music has always been stuck between a rock and a hard place", he went on. "Whilst UK Music has made huge progress, too many in Whitehall still don't appreciate that music is an economic powerhouse on a par, and indeed bigger, than many other great British industries. At the same time, there are still too many arts snobs who don't see music, and in particular popular music, as a 'proper' art. The music business must be at the top table of the government's industrial strategy".
Making a proposal of his own regarding the rejig, Dugher added: "Bringing intellectual property and music together in one department would be a natural fit and simplify policy-making. It would also send a powerful signal about the fundamental importance of IP to our industry".
Dugher then notes that, in his three years as UK Music CEO, he has dealt with four different culture secretaries. Now, of course, that's partly because of the general disarray there's been in UK government since 2016's EU referendum, though - as noted - culture ministers more than most don't usually stick around all that long. And UK Music needs to talk to ministers and advisors in other departments too.
"It is critical that the music industry gets some much-needed continuity from the government", he concluded. "We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with Culture Secretary [Nicky] Morgan, and DCMS Minister Nigel Adams has been a superb minister who has displayed tremendous support for our industry. We need that strong relationship to continue the success story of our industry".
KondZilla partners with The Orchard
KondZilla founder and CEO Konrad Dantas says: "KondZilla represents the baile funk genre and favela lifestyle. With deep roots in the authentic Brazilian culture that has been increasingly growing, I am excited to see the impact our vibrant content has around the world. The Orchard is a comprehensive company with a global reach that coincides exactly with our moment of expansion. We look forward to fostering and expanding even more global partnerships and music video productions around the world".
The Orchard's VP International Erol Cichowski adds: "Konrad is a visionary creative executive and successful entrepreneur who is at the forefront of connecting fans with dynamic entertainment across a variety of platforms. We look forward to working with him and amplifying KondZilla's positive message and passion for Brazilian culture".
Dantas has been credited with bringing an assortment of Brazilian artists to mainstream attention. Last year he signed a deal with Universal Music Publishing to administrate the catalogue of the KondZilla publishing business.
Billie Eilish announced as latest Bond theme performer
The film's producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli say in a statement: "We are excited to announce that Billie and Finneas have written an incredibly powerful and moving song for 'No Time To Die', which has been impeccably crafted to work within the emotional story of the film".
O'Connell goes on: "Writing the theme song for a Bond film is something we've been dreaming about doing our entire lives. There is no more iconic pairing of music and cinema than the likes of 'Goldfinger' and 'Live And Let Die'. We feel so so lucky to play a small role in such a legendary franchise. Long live 007".
At eighteen, Eilish is the youngest ever Bond theme writer and performer. No release date for the track has yet been announced, but the film is set for release in the UK on 2 Apr.
The 1975 announce album delay
Speaking in an Instagram Live video, frontman Matt Healy told fans that he was "sorry to fuck [them] about", but the band had missed their deadline to complete the album, resulting in the delay.
"It takes like three months or something to physically make a record on vinyl so it comes out on the 24th of April, I think", he continued. "Sorry if that's annoying or whatever, [but] for the sake of a couple of months, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really make any difference".
The announcement came shortly after the band's manager Jamie Oborne told the NME that the record was not yet complete. He explained: "We're just in the final stages of it at the moment. I lose track of time a little bit. It's really consumed our lives ... They just keep pushing the boundaries in all directions. The pop bits are poppier, the heavy bits are heavier, the soundscapes are more soaring".
"Ask me [more] in a couple of weeks when it's all formatted, in the correct order and everything's done", he continued. "At the moment it's like everything. It's everything you expect and loads of things that you don't. It's crazy, man. It's their best record. I say that with surprise because they just keep getting better. It's a beautiful thing".
A new track, titled 'Me & You Together Song', will be out later this week.
Sigrid and a load of blokes announced for BRITs Week
Last year this raised over half a million pounds. So, this is definitely a good and worthy thing. And a positive story for the BRITs in a week when it's faced heavy criticism for a distinct lack of women in its award nominations.
Seemingly foreseeing that disparagement, organisers caveated the nominations announcement by pointing out that eligibility for a BRIT award is based in part on chart success. The implication being that it's the fault of music consumers that more women aren't up for awards. They haven't found a similar defence for only managing to include one woman in the twelve acts announced for BRITs Week.
Those acts are: Bastille, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Bombay Bicycle Club, Sigrid (a woman), Yungblud, Tom Walker, Louis Tomlinson, Jack Savoretti, Gang Of Youths, Tom Grennan, Nothing But Thieves and Declan McKenna.
"Looking back at some of the amazing acts that have performed in BRITs Week to raise money for War Child - including Coldplay, Florence And The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Jess Glynne, The 1975, Elbow, Mabel and Mahalia - you realise what an important celebration of the UK's diverse music talent it has become", says BRITs chief exec Geoff Taylor, diverting attention from the distinct lack of diversity in this year's line-up with a more diverse list of acts not performing this year.
"It is a fundamental element of the build up to the BRIT Awards", he goes on. "And with our partners AEG, O2 and War Child we are THRILLED to announce the 2020 edition of BRITs Week, which also marks the 40th BRIT Awards show".
None of which is likely to stop this line-up escalating criticism of the general lack of diversity in BRITs-ville this year. But these shows, let's remember, are for charity. You can enter the prize draw to win tickets to see the gig of your choice here. You have until 3 Feb.
Here are the dates and venues:
8 Feb: Catfish And The Bottlemen, Exhibition London
B Traits has signed with booking agency LittleBig, which will now book in DJ and live sets for her under both her main alias and new jungle-influenced moniker Baby T.
Warner Music has announced new leadership for its London-based Artist Services division, which sits under WEA. Morgan Hughes has been promoted to Head Of Creative and Russell Fogden moves over from Universal's merch business Bravado to become Head Of Commercial. "We're delighted to be taking up this new challenge", they say in a joint statement. "The artist services market has changed so much in the last few years, with new global opportunities opening up at an unprecedented rate".
Universal Music UK has launched a new in-house data and strategy agency called The Square, appointing Jack Fryer as its Managing Director. "We want to be a 21st Century service for a 21st Century music company", says Fryer. "A little town-square bursting with different kinds of brains and different kinds of skills to benefit our labels and artists". Ah, I see, it's a "town-square", hence The Square. It's not because all the squares work in the data department. Of course it's not that. All the cool kids do data shit these days.
Tokimonsta has announced that she will release new album 'Oasis Nocturna' through her own Young Art label on 20 Mar. Here's the video for first single 'Fried For The Night', featuring Earthgang.
Alexisonfire have released new single 'Season Of The Flood'. "I'm very proud of this new song", says the band's George Pettit. "There were some first time attempts for us and we all really came together in the studio to make this song what it is. This was also my first time singing with Dallas [Green, guitarist and vocalist] on a song. I know I've been playing in a band with Dal for almost 20 years, but damn, that guy's voice could melt an angel".
Moby has returned having withdrawn from the public eye last year after Natalie Portman criticised his description of "the very short time that I knew him" in his autobiography as "very disturbing". He's now announced that he will release new album, 'All Visible Objects', on 6 Mar. Profits from the record will be donated to various charities. From the album, this is 'Power Is Taken'.
Rich The Kid has released the video for his new single 'That's Tuff', featuring Quavo.
King Krule will release new album 'Man Alive!' on 21 Feb through Matador. This is new single '(Don't Let The Dragon) Draag On'.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy has released the video for 'This Is Far From Over' from his new album 'I Made A Place'.
Soccer Mommy has announced that she will release her new album, 'Color Theory', through Loma Vista on 28 Feb. This is new single 'Circle The Drain'.
Born Ruffians have announced that they will release their sixth album, 'Juice', on 3 Apr through Yep Roc Records. From it, this is 'I Fall In Love Every Night'. The band will also be touring the UK in June.
Petrol Girls have released the video for 'Monstrous' from their 'Cut & Stitch' album. The band are currently on tour in the UK, playing Brighton's Green Door Store tonight and Oslo in London tomorrow.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Spotify launches playlists and podcasts for pets
This morning, Spotify has launched personalised playlists aimed at pets, as well as a new podcast just for dogs, called 'My Dog's Favourite Podcast'. The show is designed to keep your dog calm when you leave it on its own at home. And if you thought podcasts for humans were getting ever longer, each episode of this one for dogs is five hours long. Think of the advertising opportunities!
Alright, the move into audio for pets isn't actually that big an innovation. There is already more than one radio station aimed at dogs, and back in 2011 it was claimed that Adele was the artist dogs most liked listening to in the car. In 2013, Kerrang Radio even gave a presenter slot to a dog (although the show was temporarily fronted by a horse, while Rockdog went on a training course).
Spotify's own research shows that 74% of pet owners play music for their pets to calm them down a bit, and 80% believe that the animals who live with them enjoy listening to music. Also, 53% of dog owners admit leaving them at home alone for between one and five hours a day. So, however stupid this might all sound, there clearly is a market for animal-focussed streaming audio.
"Dogs are extremely social animals but, in order to fit in with our busy lives, may spend some time by themselves during the day", says pet psychologist Alex Benjamin, who worked on the podcast project.
'My Dog's Favourite Podcast' is, he says, "a bespoke podcast that is designed to encourage your dog to relax through calming gentle praise and story-like speech accompanied by original music and gentle ambient sounds designed to help mask startling sounds of the outside world such as traffic, car doors slamming or the bins being emptied, for example. I hope that the podcast becomes a fun and useful resource for owners to explore with their dogs while they are at home together as well as when their dog is alone for short periods".
'My Dog's Favourite Podcast' is voiced by actors Ralph Ineson and Jessica Raine, with music composed by Daniel Knight. Those personalised playlists, meanwhile, will offer up 30 tracks algorithmically curated based on the musical tastes of the animals. Or the musical tastes that their owners imagine they have.
So, play your cat their favourite gabber tracks and let them discover more here.