|THURSDAY 5 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The flagship edition of the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, due to take place later this month, has been indefinitely postponed as part of measures designed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. The postponement of the Miami festival, so far only reported by local media, follows the official cancellation of an Abu Dhabi edition of the dance music event - which was due to take place this week - on "health and safety grounds"... [READ MORE]|
Miami's Ultra Music Festival postponed over coronavirus concerns
The global live events industry is following closely the spread of this highly infectious new coronavirus which - while only resulting in cold-like symptoms in the vast majority of cases - can be lethal. Different governments around the world are issuing different guidance to the events business, partly depending on the degree to which the disease has spread in any one country, and partly based on each government's public health policies.
In the UK, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam has told the country's live music industry that there is no need to cancel any upcoming events. However, in some countries governments have put restrictions or outright bans on events over a certain capacity as part of wider measures to limit the spread of the virus.
Some events, especially in the conference domain, have voluntarily cancelled or postponed as a precaution, even when national or local governments haven't insisted on it. Meanwhile some artists are pulling out of tour dates and festival slots that involve international travel, especially in Asia. Others are putting off committing to new gigs and festivals, choosing to wait and see how the spread and impact of the virus pans out.
Many companies - including many of the bigger music companies - have also cancelled internal events and meetings that bring together large numbers of employees or which involve staff members having to travel internationally. Reports also suggest that Warner Music has decided to postpone its planned initial public offering because panic and uncertainty about the spread of the virus has resulted in volatile investment markets.
The Miami edition of Ultra is due to take place on 20-22 Mar at the conclusion of Miami Music Week, which also includes the Winter Music Conference from 16-19 Mar. According to the Miami Herald, the decision to postpone the festival was made during a meeting yesterday between city officials and Ultra representatives.
Although the Herald reports that the event will be postponed rather than cancelled, it does then say that the postponement might be "for a full year", which is - of course - another way of saying the 2020 edition of the annual event has been called off entirely. The paper's sources say that an official statement form the city and the festival's promoters will follow as soon as certain legal technicalities around the postponement are dealt with.
Organisers of the Abu Dhabi edition of Ultra, that was due to kick off today, didn't specifically say that they had decided to cancel because of coronavirus concerns, but its widely believed that that was the main reason for calling the event off.
Elsewhere within the American music industry, there has been much speculation as to what impact the spread of and public concern about the virus will have on the mega showcase festival and music conference that is South By Southwest, certain elements of which are due to get underway on Friday 13 Mar, with the music stuff happening the following week.
Organisers insist everything will proceed as planned, even though some participating speakers and companies - especially on the tech side - have already pulled out.
An official statement on Monday read: "SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, we are proceeding with the 2020 event with the health and safety of our attendees, staff, and volunteers as our top priority".
Back in Europe, another upcoming showcase festival - Estonia's Tallinn Music Week - has also issued a statement noting that "Estonia is not a risk area" and therefore "there is no need for restrictions on events and gatherings". However, organisers added, they have been liaising with their partners and the Health Board Of Estonia to "strengthen hygiene measures" across the festival and Tallinn's network of venues.
The Tallinn Music Week statement also said that organisers "would recommend that visitors who have spent time in risk areas - China, Northern Italy (including Lombardia, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Piemonte), Iran, Japan, Singapore, South-Korea - less than two weeks before the festival consider staying home this time around".
Obviously, for the live music and events industry, a key question is to what extent promoters will be covered by insurance policies if events are cancelled or downsized as a result of coronavirus concerns. Of course, the answer to that question may well be different if an event is forced to cancel under government-led preventative measures.
It also remains to be seen to what extent public concern about the virus will impact on ticket sales for those shows, events, conferences and festivals that do go ahead.
Journey bust up results in $10 million lawsuit
The dispute sees bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith on one side, and guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain on the other. Both Valory and Schon were original members of the band, and all four were part of the line-up for the outfit's biggest record of them all, 1981's 'Escape', which featured their best known song 'Don't Stop Believin'.
In a lawsuit filed in the Californian courts, Schon and Cain accuse Valory and Smith of trying to sneakily grab control of the band's company Nightmare Productions. The latter pair, the former allege, orchestrated a board meeting of said company in February designed to oust Schon and Cain as company secretary and company president respectively, and to add Valory and Smith's allies as new directors of the entity's board.
The takeover, the lawsuit alleges, was all part of a plan by Valory and Smith to take control of the Journey trademark. They wanted that control, Schon and Cain allege, because they have plans to step down from actively touring with the group. If they were in control of the band's brand, they could force their other bandmates to continue giving them a share of touring income even if they weren't actively involved in future shows.
However, say Schon and Cain, not only was the attempted boardroom coup "malicious", it was also "very ill-conceived". Why? Because, they claim, Nightmare Productions doesn't even own the Journey trademarks. The marks belong to a separate entity called Elmo Partners which is controlled by, you guessed it, Schon and Cain.
Elsewhere, the lawsuit bigs up Schon and Cain as being the core of the Journey enterprise. Alongside former frontman Steve Perry, the legal papers say, Schon and Cain "were responsible for the band's rise to prominence in the 1980s". To this day, the two men claim, they are "the key members of Journey, the songwriters and the vital core of the band".
It also notes that, while Valory was a founder member, and Smith was also on board during the 1980s hits era, both have not been consistent members of the outfit throughout. Not least because they were both fired ahead of the recording of 1986 album 'Raised On Radio'. They then returned nearly a decade later for a big band reunion in 1995.
But now they are out again. "Given Smith and Valory's greed, self-dealing and breaches of their fiduciary obligations", the lawsuit states, "Cain and Schon expelled Smith and Valory from Journey. On 3 Mar 2020, Cain and Schon provided written notice that Smith and Valory were no longer part of Journey and would no longer perform or tour with the band".
As for what Cain and Schon want from their litigation, well, first of all, they want court confirmation that their Elmo Partners company controls the band's trademarks and that the decisions made at the February board meeting of Nightmare Productions were invalid.
And, of course, they'd also like some lovely damages from their former bandmates. "Compensatory damages in excess of $10 million" for starters, and some "punitive damages" on top. Which sounds somewhat optimistic. But, I guess, anything is possible, and - whatever you do - don't stop believin.
Tim Minchin signs to BMG for debut studio album
"I've been writing songs for 35 years and have never released a studio album", says Minchin. "Too many distractions. Signing with BMG has given me focus, and the confidence to aim for a record that isn't defined by anyone else's expectations. I'm loving the freedom, loving the process, and loving the team at BMG".
Managing Director of BMG Australia, Heath Johns, adds: "Tim Minchin is the rarest of talents - an incredible pianist, composer, playwright, actor and lyricist, amongst many other things. To have Tim sign his first ever record deal with BMG is a genuine honour for our entire team and a further indication that BMG is the destination for artists with international ambition and a demand to maintain creative control and ownership of their recordings".
He adds: "I know the world will fall in love with this absolute gem of a pop record and we can't wait to help Tim share these songs".
Minchin began his career as a singer-songwriter, as well as composing music for theatre and documentaries and attempting to establish himself as an actor. It was while struggling to find work as an actor or musician that he began performing comedy songs at clubs in Melbourne. He then found success with his first solo comedy show, 'Darkside', in 2005, subsequently gaining huge popularity as a musical comedian and then, back in the theatre space, composing songs for West End musicals 'Matilda' and 'Groundhog Day'.
Although various live albums of his comedy shows have been released, as we've already said, and I'm sure you all noted, he has never released a studio album. It's not yet clear if the BMG release will be a collection of his comedy songs or more 'serious' work. The first single is due out next week, which will give us some indication, I reckon.
Reservoir allies with new Americana publisher One Riot, signs The Secret Sisters
The first such signing is the singer-songwriter duo The Secret Sisters, aka Laura and Lydia Rogers, who have just released their fourth album 'Saturn Return' via Nashville-based label New West Records.
Confirming the deal, the duo say in perfect unison: "We are very excited to have signed our very first publishing deal as songwriters and to be joining the One Riot family. It's been our desire to take our songwriting to the next level and we can't wait to see what this partnership will inspire in us. [We are] grateful for a team of good folks who believe in us!"
Meanwhile One Riot founder Amy Patton says that she has launched her publishing company "to focus on the music that we hold closest to our hearts; music that embodies honesty and authenticity". With that in mind, she goes on, "we couldn't think of a better way to launch than with The Secret Sisters, who embody everything we love about this genre, as the first signing along with Reservoir, who shared our vision right out of the gate".
Over at Reservoir, the firm's EVP Creative John Ozier adds: "Americana music spans a broad spectrum of styles including folk, country, blues, roots, gospel, soul, rock, and more, but one thing it all has in common is that it is song-driven music".
"The genre is often underserved", he goes on, "due to the ambiguity of its definition, but it is our privilege to work alongside One Riot to amplify and celebrate the amazing musicians in this space, starting with The Secret Sisters".
ByteDance's Resso goes properly live in India, but without Universal content
India, of course, is a very crowded marketplace for music streaming, it being a priority market for Spotify, Apple and YouTube, all of which are competing with existing India-based platforms JioSaavn and Gaana. Resso is seeking to distinguish itself by offering more interactive and social features than its rivals, encouraging people to create and share visual content through the app with other users.
For the official Indian launch lots of local and most global music companies have licensing deals in place. Though one very big global player is missing, that being Universal Music.
Some have speculated that that might be linked to Bytedance's Chinese competitor Tencent's recent deal to take a stake in the mega-major. Although there are plenty of other reasons why Universal may not have yet signed on the dotted line - after all, Warner Music has held out on Spotify in India as it seeks better deal terms. Plus, Resso's interactive elements also require some extra rights to be bundled into its licences.
Both free and paid-for options of Resso are available.
Peter Kember to release first Sonic Boom album since 1990
Kember previously released one album under the pseudonym he originally adopted as one half of Spacemen 3 - 'Spectrum' back in 1990. Subsequently he released albums as both Spectrum and EAR, and has also produced records for various other artists, including MGMT, Panda Bear and Beach House.
Work on what became the new Sonic Boom album began in 2015, with friend and somtime collaborator Tim Gane from Stereolab encouraging Kember to release his initial tracks as instrumentals. "I nearly did", he says. "But the vibe in them was so strong that I couldn't resist trying to ice the cake".
That icing didn't happen immediately though. It was only after a more recent move to Portugal that Kember began working on them again, adding vocals for the finished album.
Titled 'All Things Being Equal', the LP will be released on 5 Jun. Watch the video for 'Just Imagine' here.
Warner's Atlantic Records has promoted three US A&R execs. Brandon Davis and Jeff Levin in LA both now hold the title SVP A&R. Meanwhile, Riggs Morales in New York is now SVP A&R & Artist Development.
Because everything is a marketing opportunity, Katy Perry has used the video for new single 'Never Worn White' to reveal that she is pregnant. "So glad I don't have to suck it in anymore", she said in a tweet.
The Dixie Chicks have released their first new song for fourteen years, 'Gaslighter'. Their new Jack Antonoff produced album of the same name will be released later this year.
BTS have released the video for recent single 'Black Swan'.
The Weeknd has released a new short film, titled 'After Hours'. His new album of the same name is out on 20 Mar.
Little Dragon have released new Kali Uchis collaboration 'Are You Feeling Sad?' "We are super excited Kali features on this track", say the band. "All of a sudden at the end of last year, this version appeared in our emails like a beautiful Christmas gift. She put her twist on it and gave the track an amazing energy. Did we mention we also love her?!"
The Rapture's Luke Jenner has announced that he will release his debut solo album, '1', on 15 May. Here's first single 'You're Not Alone'.
Bush have announced that they will release new album 'The Kingdom' in May. First single, 'Flowers On A Grave', is out now. "We are really proud of 'The Kingdom'", says frontman Gavin Rossdale. "It's as if all roads travelled over the last few years have gotten us to this point". The band will also play this year's Download festival in June.
Roisin Murphy has released new single 'Murphy's Law'. It's "our crack at a straight up, straightforward, no-frills, disco standard", she says. "Oh and it's the story of my life".
Myrkur has released new song 'Gudernes Vilje', from her soon to be released 'Folksange' album.
Asking Alexandria have announced that they will release their new album, 'Like A House On Fire', on 15 May. Here's new single 'Antisocialist'.
Soccer96 - aka The Comet Is Coming's Danalogue and Betamax - have released new single 'I Was Gonna Fight Fascism', featuring Alabaster dePlume.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Lady Gaga says coronavirus meeting interruption is "what I make music for"
Council officials livestreamed the event on Facebook on Sunday discussing ongoing actions to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 in the region. There have now been 24 confirmed cases in that region, fourteen of which have required hospitalisation.
About 20 minutes into the meeting a few seconds of Lady Gaga's new single blasted out of someone's phone, before being shut off. There was a brief ripple of amusement from the council members, before they got back to the serious business of explaining how they are trying to limit the spread of the virus.
After a fan posted a clip of the interruption on Twitter, Gaga herself responded yesterday, saying: "And this is why I make music".
But what exactly does Gaga mean by this? That's the big question here. Let's have a look at some of the options, then you can decide for yourself:
1. Lady Gaga makes music in order to make serious looking people smirk for up to two seconds.
It's almost certainly one of those, but please feel free to come up with your own ideas. Send them in to, well, not us, but maybe 'Blue Peter' or something.