|WEDNESDAY 11 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Estonian showcase festival and music conference Tallinn Music Week yesterday announced it was pushing back its 2020 edition to August as efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 continue to gain pace. Meanwhile in the US, AEG's Goldenvoice confirmed that it was postponing this year's Coachella and Stagecoach festivals to October... [READ MORE]|
Tallinn Music Week and Coachella push back dates over coronavirus concerns
Organisers of Tallinn Music Week - due to take place from 25-29 Mar - had last week said that they were confident their event could go ahead as planned, because "Estonia is not a risk area" and therefore "there is no need for restrictions on events and gatherings". But the festival's director, Helen Sildna, explained yesterday that "while a week ago we believed that by following the recommendations of the Estonian Health Board we could still continue with the festival, the circumstances have now changed".
The event's official statement added: "Although the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading locally in Estonia is not high, organising an international event like TMW entails several risk factors. In addition to considerations concerning the health of artists, festival employees and the public, the decision was also informed by the fact that travel restrictions imposed by states and airline carriers can arise at very short notice, meaning that artists and guests may find it impossible to travel to Tallinn".
The new dates for the event are 26-30 Aug. Organisers say that all of the event's partners and venues are supportive of the shift in dates, while all artists who had been booked to play later this month have been invited to join the festival in August. Where artists are unable to accept that invitation, acts of "similar profile" will be booked in their place.
The number of shows, festivals and conferences being postponed or cancelled worldwide continues to rise as cases of COVID-19 increase and more countries start to be affected. In some places events are being called off at the insistence of national or local government as part of efforts to limit or delay the spread of the virus. In other scenarios event organisers are choosing to postpone.
Back in the US, where the industry is still dealing with the cancellation of this month's South By Southwest in Austin and the Ultra Music Festival/Winder Music Conference in Miami, AEG's Goldenvoice has confirmed rumours that it is pushing its California-based Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, due to take place in April, back to October.
The promoter said yesterday: "At the direction of the County Of Riverside and local health authorities, we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of Coachella and Stagecoach due to COVID-19 concerns. While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously. We urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials".
Goldenvoice's statement added that "purchasers will be notified by Friday on how to obtain a refund if they are unable to attend", confirming that ticket-buyers will be able to cancel their tickets if the October dates don't work for them. However, it's emerged that people with tickets to the cancelled South By Southwest or Ultra festivals won't be able to get refunds, but will be able to transfer their tickets to a future edition.
It seemed likely that that might be the approach taken by the flagship Miami edition of the Ultra Music Festival given that - in its official announcement confirming that this month's event would not go ahead - organisers insisted that the 2020 festival was not being cancelled but postponed, albeit my twelve months.
Given the circumstances of the cancellations, many ticket-buyers may be happy to accept a transfer rather than a refund, and both Ultra and SXSW are allowing people to transfer their tickets to 2022 if they won't be available in March 2021. But there is likely to be some backlash to that policy, and it remains to be seen how far that goes.
Back in the UK, the government's official position remains that events are not obliged to cancel, with the priority currently being that anyone with even mild symptoms that could be linked to coronavirus voluntary self-isolate. But the next week could be key, in that some expect a significant rise in the spread of the virus which could require more severe measures. Needless to say, the live industry continues to monitor the situation closely.
Concord Music Publishing signs Cam Blackwood
The company's EVP Worldwide A&R, Kim Frankiewicz, says: "Cam is songwriting royalty who we are absolutely delighted to welcome to Concord. This is a big year for Cam - we are delighted to be a part of this exciting new chapter!"
So, Kim is double delighted. What about Blackwood himself?
Well, he says: "I am so excited and honoured to be joining the Concord family. Kim, Harri [Davies], Tor [Ree] and the rest of the team are at the top of their game right now and I'm so happy they've invited me along for the ride".
Artists Blackwood has worked with include George Ezra, Tom Walker, Jack Savoretti and Frank Carter. He has also worked on upcoming releases by the likes of RuthAnne and Gabrielle Aplin, and is an active member of the UK's Music Producers Guild.
ASA rules against scary movie ad that aired during lullaby playlist on Spotify
The ASA was responding to a complainant who said that the suitably scary audio trailer for the 'It' movie shouldn't have played during a playlist that was likely to be heard by young children.
Warner Bros Entertainment conceded that the ad was "mildly scary", but added that it "avoided violence, offensive language, gore and elements of the film which might have been considered overly scary". Moreover, it said that when booking ad spots with Spotify it chose the parameters "age is 18-44" and "real time genre is not children" on the streaming service's advertising platform. Which is basically the movie firm saying "this is all Spotify's fault".
For its part, Spotify said that it "believed the parameters used by Warner Bros to target the ad were appropriate and that they did not believe the [classical lullabies] playlist was designed primarily for children".
On that latter point, the ad industry regulator did not agree. It stated: "The ad was heard by the complainant between songs on the Classical Lullabies playlist. Given the name of the playlist - which included the songs 'Children's Music No 1 - Lullaby', '5 English Nursery Tunes' and 'For Children Vol 1' - we considered that the playlist was designed primarily to be played to and therefore likely to be heard by young children".
With that in mind the ASA upheld the complaint against Warner Bros, ruling that the movie studio breached its code of conduct because, despite the studio's efforts to target the ad, it nevertheless "appeared around content that was likely to be heard by young children, who were likely to be distressed by it".
Although the ruling was against Warner Bros, it raises interesting questions for Spotify which needs to be able to ensure its advertisers can adhere to ASA requirements. Issues like this are going to become all the more pressing as lawmakers in both London and Brussels put the spotlight on 'platform responsibility', with protecting children from unsuitable content being high up on that particular political agenda.
Though the question is - while it's reasonable to expect Spotify to ensure unsuitable ads are not played around playlists specifically targeting children - does it need to also look out for general interest playlists which, by the nature of the music being playlisted, are likely to be played to children by their parents. And while the offending playlist in this case was a Spotify-curated one, would that requirement also apply to third party playlists too?
Spotify is already honing its product for younger ears with the kids version of its app that is now available as part of the firm's premium family plan. But it may be it needs to look into providing some of that kid-friendly curation to subscribers and advertisers on its free service too.
Metal Hammer to launch new Japanese edition
"All the staff are excited that Metal Hammer magazine will land in Japan", says the editor of the Japanese edition, Takehide Okami. "In the 1980s to 2000s, heavy metal was a popular music genre in Japan, comparable to domestic J-Pop", he notes, before adding that since then pop and suchlike has taken over somewhat. "Metal Hammer Japan will bring the world's latest metal music to Japanese metal fans in order to create another metal whirlwind in Japan in 2020. The future of Japanese metal is bright!"
Editor of the UK edition, Merlin Alderslade, adds: "Japan is one of the world's most exciting and vibrant markets when it comes to heavy metal, and we couldn't be more delighted to have the latest incarnation of Metal Hammer on the scene. Metal Hammer Japan will serve as the country's first stop for world exclusive interviews with global artists and features on the Japanese metal scene and beyond".
The first edition of the Japanese version of Metal Hammer will be available in the country form 23 Mar, featuring Ozzy Osbourne on the cover.
Pet Shop Boys pay tribute to former manager Tom Watkins
Watkins managed the Pet Shop Boys as they rose to fame in the mid-1980s through his Massive Management company. He later enjoyed further management success leading the careers of pop acts like Bros and East 17.
Alongside management, Watkins also ran a successful graphic design business that created artwork for numerous artists in the 1980s, including Wham, Duran Duran, Kim Wilde and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. He was also a songwriter and producer, among other things co-writing all the tracks on the first Bros album 'Push', including hits like 'When Will I Be Famous' and 'I Owe You Nothing'.
Tennant wrote yesterday: "I first met Tom in 1975 and then a decade later he became our manager. He was a genuine larger-than-life personality - his company was called Massive Management - and we learned a lot together about the music business and had many good times".
Noting that Watkins had a sometimes fractious relationship with some of his management clients, Tennant goes on "after Tom ceased to be our manager, I remained his friend for several years but for various reasons long-term friendship with Tom wasn't possible".
"However", Tennant said, he and fellow Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe "will always be grateful for his efforts on our behalf in the early days of our career and we have many memories of fun times with him back then. Today we sent flowers to his funeral with the message 'thanks for five Massive years'".
A cause of death has not been confirmed, though Watkins had suffered with ill-health in the latter years of his life, requiring a liver transplant and later suffering a stroke. He is survived by his partner Marc.
Sexual harassment allegations against Placido Domingo "credible", says LA Opera report
Law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher carried out the independent investigation, which lasted for six months and involved interviews with 44 people, including Domingo himself. It said that the ten allegations it had received were "deemed ... to be credible, in part because of the similarities in [the accusers'] accounts".
"The level of discomfort reported by the women varied, ranging from some women stating they were not uncomfortable to others who described significant trauma", it went on. "Some individuals stated that they felt discouraged to report misconduct due to Mr Domingo's importance and stature".
However, it added, it had "found no evidence that Mr Domingo ever engaged in a quid pro quo or retaliated against any woman by not casting or otherwise hiring her at LA Opera". Partly this was because hiring at the company involves a team of people.
Debra Katz, an attorney representing a number of Domingo's accusers, expressed disappointment at this part of the investigation. She told the New York Times that at least one of her clients believes she lost opportunities at the LA Opera as a direct result of rejecting Domingo's advances.
The investigation also had some criticism for the LA Opera itself, saying that while its policies and procedures on sexual harassment were sufficient, the way in which they had been implemented were not. In particular, the law firm "found LA Opera's communications regarding sexual harassment to be insufficiently robust and at times lacking".
It added that the company's "approach to addressing sexual harassment was largely reactive until 2018" and the "structure, process, and documentation relating to sexual harassment in earlier years had been too informal and at times inconsistent".
In response, the LA Opera said that it was implementing all recommendations made by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher on improving its systems for reporting sexual harassment.
The company said: "We believe that everyone should be treated respectfully and feel secure within their work environment. We also believe everyone should feel safe and should be encouraged to report any misconduct they encounter".
"As such", it added, "we deeply regret the negative experiences that the people impacted have had at LA Opera and apologise to those affected. We are committed to doing everything we can to foster a professional and collaborative environment where all our employees and artists feel comfortable, valued and respected".
It also thanked the women who had come forward to take part in the investigation, saying that "their openness, perspective and candour will effect real change".
Domingo, who had been involved with the LA Opera since its inception in 1986, stepped down as its General Director last year in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations. He has not yet responded to the publication of the results of the company's investigation.
Last month, it was revealed that another investigation by the American Guild Of Musical Artists had also found evidence of sexual harassment by Domingo. Although this only became public when the report was leaked by a whistleblower.
It emerged that the organisation had been attempting to negotiate a deal with Domingo to keep the report confidential in exchange for a payment of $500,000. This despite the AGMA saying last year that it was launching an investigation because it didn't believe the opera companies Domingo was involved with could be trusted to do the job properly.
When the AGMA report was published, Domingo issued a statement saying that he was "truly sorry for the hurt" caused to the women involved and that he accepted "full responsibility" for his actions. However, later that week he issued a new statement saying: "I know what I haven't done, and I will deny it again. I have never behaved aggressively toward anybody, nor have I ever done anything to obstruct or hurt the career of anybody".
While the allegations have effectively brought Domingo's career to a halt in the US, he has continued to book regular appearances across Europe. However, as these investigations have started to publish their findings a number of those performances have been cancelled too.
London-based booking agency Primary Talent has announced an alliance with LA-based talent agency group ICM Partners. Primary Talent will continue to operate pretty much autonomously, but says the tie-up with ICM will allow it to offer its clients "all the benefits of a major agency". Meanwhile ICM will "greatly enhance its footprint and presence in the international music touring business".
Sony/ATV has signed once of those worldwide publishing deals you guys keep banging on about with songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Ian Fitchuk. He's written and produced music for the likes of James Bay, Kesha, Shania Twain, Shawn Mendes, Amy Grant, Jake Bugg and many more. Sony/ATV say that they are "beyond THRILLED" about the deal. Though I'm not sure where that is. Croydon maybe.
Eminem has released the video for his track 'Godzilla', featuring the late Juice Wrld. The video features cameos from Dr Dre and Mike Tyson.
Ozzy Osbourne has released the video for 'Ordinary Man', the Elton John-featuring title track of his latest album.
Wiley has released the video for his new remix of 2008 track 'Wearing My Rolex', featuring Hypo.
Shabazz Palaces has released the video for latest single 'Fast Learner'. New album 'The Don Of Diamond Dreams' is out through Sub Pop on 17 Apr.
Yaeji has announced that she will release a new mixtape, titled 'What We Drew', through XL on 3 Apr. From it, this is 'Waking Up Down'. She'll also play Heaven in London on 11 Nov.
Oh Wonder have released the video for 'How It Goes', from their latest album 'No One Else Can Wear Your Crown'.
Anna Burch has released the video for new single 'Tell Me What's True', inspired by 1974 Martin Scorsese film 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore'. Her new album, 'If You're Dreaming', is out on 3 Apr.
My Dying Bride have released the video for new single 'To Outlive The Gods', taken from new album 'The Ghost Of Orion', which was released last week.
GIGS & TOURS
Asking Alexandria have announced that they will tour the UK in October this year, playing shows in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Fyre Festival's Andy King books UK speaking tour
I probably didn't even need to mention it, you were almost certainly already thinking about the incredible lengths Andy King was willing to go to in order to keep the show on the road. But does he have any more stories as shocking as that one? Well, now you can find out when he brings his spoken word show 'A Fyre-side Chat' to the UK next month.
Hired as a producer on the ill-fated event, King revealed in 'Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened' that when all the bottled water for the festival was held up at customs, now-jailed boss man Billy McFarland asked him to "suck dick to fix this water problem".
And the most eye-opening part of that story wasn't that McFarland would seriously suggest such a thing as a solution to the event's water problem, but that King set out to meet the customs official who could release the water bottles with every intention of following through with that request.
However, in order to prepare he "went home, took a shower and drank some mouthwash", by which point the necessary papers had been rubber stamped without any blowjobs given to anyone.
Anyway, should you wish to hear more about that - and King's other experiences in trying to make Fyre Festival happen - you can listen to him talk about all of it for an hour without anyone interjecting, followed by a 30 minute Q&A. He'll also discuss how being turned into a meme as a result of that one Fyre story affected his life, and how he's using his new-found fame to promote sustainability in events.
Mensa Akwasi of promoter Native Talks says: "It's so great to be able to bring Andy King over to the UK for the first time as part of a national tour. The man became a meme after the incredible Fyre Festival documentary and we hope to bring the entertaining speaker to the masses later this month. It's also very fitting that the documentary is now one year old and we hope to further expand on Andy's inside knowledge from the best event that never happened".
Tickets for the shows are on sale now. Largely being held at universities, the events are also open to the general public. Here are all the dates:
20 Apr: Norwich, The LCR (UEA)