|FRIDAY 13 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The biggest live music companies and booking agencies in the world came together yesterday to issue a joint response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, recommending that all large-scale events due to take place this month now be postponed... [READ MORE]|
Biggest live music promoters and agents unite to advise cancellation of large-scale events as COVID-19 crisis grows
The statement from Live Nation, AEG, CAA, WME, Paradigm and UTA came as an increasing number of countries introduced measures to restrict or ban any public gatherings over a certain size in an attempt to limit and delay the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
Some countries that already had such restrictions in place have also reduced the capacity at which said restrictions apply. On top of that, the number of travel bans has increased, not least because of US President Donald Trump's surprise decision to ban travel to the States from within the European Union's Schengen Area.
The number of shows, tours, festivals and conferences choosing to cancel or postpone has increased greatly in the last week, of course, sometimes in response to government instigated restrictions, other times because of the concerns of artists, promoters and ticket-buyers.
However, until yesterday the major global players of the live industry hadn't issued any formal industry-wide statements regarding COVID-19, beyond investor briefings from publicly listed entities like Live Nation.
Yesterday's statement announced that the signatory companies have now formed a united taskforce to "drive strategic support and unified direction ensuring precautionary efforts and ongoing protocol are in the best interest of artists, fans, staff, and the global community".
On that taskforce are Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, AEG CEO Dan Beckerman, AEG Presents CEO Jay Marciano, CAA Managing Partner Rob Light, WME Partner Marc Geiger, Paradigm Chair Sam Gores, Paradigm Head Of Global Music Marty Diamond and UTA Partner David Zedeck.
They then stated that "at this time, we collectively recommend large scale events through the end of March be postponed. We continue to support that small-scale events follow guidance set by their local government officials".
Assuring artists, investors and employees that the signatory companies were able to navigate the current crisis, the task-force's statement continued: "We feel fortunate to have the flexibility to reschedule concerts, festivals, and live events as needed, and look forward to connecting fans with all their favourite artists and live entertainment soon".
Although the taskforce is made up of global companies - hence its self-proclaimed 'global' status - it is, of course, somewhat US-centric and to what extent participating companies will follow their own guidance on a truly global basis remains to be seen.
Obviously the spread and extent of the virus varies greatly around the world, partly depending on when the earliest cases were diagnosed, so some regional and local nuance will definitely be required. And, as the taskforce notes, the approach taken by small-scale events will likely be different to large-scale events.
Although the taskforce's recommendation of postponement currently runs to the end of March, it's thought that policy will likely end up running very much into April - indeed some April events have already been cancelled.
Beyond that, sources say that bosses at the big live music companies currently hope that things will start to get back to normal in May, though there remain so many unknowns about how the disease will now spread it is hard to say how long the crisis will continue.
Here in the UK the government still hasn't called for any large-scale events to be cancelled, insisting that expert advice says such measures are not currently required. Although in Scotland ministers has advised that events over a 500 capacity should be called off to ensure no unnecessary strain is placed on emergency services. UK-wide measures will likely change as the spread of the virus escalates.
Beyond live events, the impact of COVID-19 is being felt across the music industry in other ways too as an increasing number of companies call off face-to-face meetings and encourage - or insist on - more home-working for their employees. Meanwhile, publicly listed music companies - and especially those in the live sector - are having to fire-fight tanking share prices as investment markets go into panic mode.
Though ultimately the biggest impact will be felt by individual artists and the smallest independent music companies who are negatively impacted by all the cancellations in the live music market, and for whom sudden extra expenditure or lost income is a significant challenge. Various trade bodies and other organisations have now issued guidance to support their members. In the UK, that includes the following:
Alan Parsons' lawsuit against former business partner allowed to continue
Having first build his reputation via studio work with the likes of The Beatles and Pink Floyd, Parsons enjoyed success in the 1970s and 1980s through his creative partnership with the late Eric Woolfson. That collaboration used the moniker The Alan Parsons Project.
In more recent times Parsons worked on a solo basis with the American company World Entertainment Associates Of America, which is run by Regna.
Parsons pursued various projects between 2009 and 2018 with the support of Regna and his business. The two men ultimately ended their alliance in part, says Parsons, because of "Regna's erratic and intolerable behaviour".
After they stopped working together, Regna put together a live show featuring session musicians who worked with the Alan Parsons Project back in the day and then started promoting that show using variations of Parsons' brand, most recently "The Project, the original voice, original musicians of The Alan Parsons Project & Friends".
In a lawsuit filed in Florida in January, Parsons claimed that - with that venture - Regna was infringing his trademarks, breaching past contracts and participating in unfair competition in a way that has "caused and is causing Parsons many millions of dollars in actual damages".
The legal filing also insisted that the people involved in Regna's Project project were simply work-for-hire musicians who had no actual claim to the Alan Parsons Project name.
Regna's lawyers are trying to have that lawsuit dismissed. One argument for dismissal is based on jurisdiction grounds. Before he went legal in the US, Parsons sought an injunction through the Spanish courts in a bid to stop a performance of Regna's Project show in Spain.
Regna responded with his own legal action through the UK high court in London. Therefore, his attorneys argued, with this dispute already being fought in the English courts, the courts in Florida should not interfere.
Considering that argument, judge Roy B Dalton Jr at the US District Court in Orlando conceded that "for 'acts of trade-mark infringement ... consummated in a foreign country by a citizen and resident of the United States', courts must consider whether exercising jurisdiction would interfere with the sovereignty of another nation".
However, he went on, "the court is not faced solely with acts consummated internationally", because Regna's Project project has not been confined to Europe.
The judge continued: "Here there are two US defendants (Regna and WEAA) who are allegedly violating US trademarks by: running their business in the US, soliciting former musicians to play in an 'imposter band' in the US, maintaining infringing internet domains in the US, and drafting and sending emails from the US to solicit infringing bookings".
With all that in mind, "while the effects of these violations may be felt abroad, many of the violations occurred here - and unquestionably it is within a district court's jurisdiction to hear a claim between US citizens for alleged violations of federal law occurring within the United States".
So, Regna's bid to have Parsons' lawsuit dismissed has been formally knocked back by Dalton Jr. Or at least this one has. Apparently Team Regna have also raised some other procedural issues that they reckon are grounds for dismissal too. The judge is yet to rule on those.
But, for now, Parson's Stateside litigation continues.
Bo Ningen sign to Alcopop! Records
"As if we've signed Bo Ningen", jokes label boss Jack Clothier. "One of the best live acts we've ever seen ... the music coming up is just unreal", he then confirms. "We're absolutely delighted to be welcoming them to the label, and even more delighted to be sharing 'BC' with you. What a band".
Speaking about the new album, guitarist Kohhei Matsuda adds: "After years of countless bifurcation into sub-genres, music has been cut down to flakes. Music is suffocated. This album is a challenge to bridge between now and the time before the first bifurcation. To alternate the future".
Entertainment retailers welcome business rates relief, but want wider-ranging support
Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that high street businesses with a rateable value under £51,000 would benefit from a 100% discount in the year ahead as part of various measures to help companies deal with the negative impact of the coronavirus crisis.
For the venue sector, with an increasing number of shows and tours now being cancelled, the negative impact of COVID-19 is very apparent. But as fear of contracting the virus spreads - and as more people are urged to self-isolate as a result of having symptoms linked to COVID-19 - the high street at large is starting to see a downturn in customer numbers.
Therefore the tax break Sunak announced this week is important to independent retailers too, including those selling music, video and gaming products. The Entertainment Retailer Association reckons the move could save the average indie record shop between £15,000 and £22,000 per year.
To that end, ERA boss Kim Bayley said: "ERA welcomes this move by the Chancellor to help smaller stores. Rates are a particular burden on physical retailers, increasing their costs and making it harder to compete with internet-based businesses. This has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak".
Venues and retailers with rateable values over £51,000 are also facing the same challenges, of course. Not least because 'rateable value' is based on a property's estimated open market rental value, not the scale of the business based at that property. Which means businesses of similar sizes can fall above and below the £51,000 cut off simply based on the location of their premises.
Meanwhile, some would argue, the widely documented challenges of trading on the high street in 2020 mean that even bigger retail firms - including the national chains - are less equipped to deal with a sudden downturn in business caused by something like the public's response to COVID-19.
Bayley added: "While [this week's announced rates relief] will undoubtedly help smaller stores, it does nothing for the bigger high street chains who also face multiple business challenges. We will continue to lobby government to broaden the scope of this measure to support the diversity of our high streets".
Ride to release classical rework of This Is Not A Safe Space album
The idea to create a classical rework was conceived while Ride were still in the studio recording their 2019 album. Discussions with Pêtr Aleksänder - aka Tom Hobden of Noah & The Whale and producer Eliot James - developed into a plan to create a different version of the record using only the vocal tracks from the original as a guide.
"Pêtr Aleksänder took our album's vocal tracks and formed an entirely new album around them, and the results are inspired, often really beautiful, and at times, totally mental", says Ride's Andy Bell. "They have crafted a delicate web of string and synthesiser arrangements which draws you into a whole other world than our version of the album. I love what they've created".
Pêtr Aleksänder add: 'Reimagining Ride's album was a treat. We took a rather unusual approach: although fans of Ride in the first instance, we nevertheless resisted listening to anything other than each track's main vocal before setting to work, beginning exclusively with string and piano arrangements inspired by the main vocal".
"Focusing on the sentiment of the vocal and re-interpreting it with our own arrangements resulted in combinations of melody, harmony and emotion that would have been very hard to achieve via a more conventional songwriting/composing approach", they continue. "We even waited until the band had released the album before choosing to listen to the songs in their original state - a strange experience for us given that we knew our versions of the same songs so well by that point!"
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith announces new album exploring "appreciation for electricity"
"I guess, in one sentence, this album is my expression of love and appreciation for electricity", says Smith. While writing and recording the album, she explains, she drew inspiration from a routine of daily physical movement which resulted in her discovering what she calls "a visual language ... as a reference for how frequencies can be visualised".
"The inspiration came to me in a sudden bubble of joy", she goes on. "It was accompanied by a multitude of shapes that were moving seamlessly from one into the other. My movement practice has been a constant transformation piece by piece. I made this album in the same way. Every day I would transform what I did yesterday into something else. This album has gone through about twelve different versions of itself".
'The Mosaic Of Transformation' is out on 15 May. Listen to 'Expanding Electricity' here.
Primary Wave Music Publishing has signed a new "long-term strategic partnership" with Burt Bacharach. The company will administer his songwriting catalogue and provide marketing services for his name and likeness. The deal also gives Primary Wave an option to acquire a partnership interest in his works.
Talent agency UTA has hired Sophie Roberts from 13 Artists as an agent in its music division. "I'm THRILLED to have Sophie join our ever-evolving team here at UTA", says the agency's Head Of Global Touring Neil Warnock. "She is a consummate agent, not only working on global clients but equally at home developing new talent from the ground up".
Universal-owned distribution and label services business Ingrooves has named Daniel Tivemark at its new Country Manager for Sweden, expanding its presence in the country. "We are excited to add an exceptional talent in Stockholm to our expanding operations in the Nordic region", says Ingrooves CEO Bob Roback.
Southend's Cool Thing Records has launched a new fortnightly show on Soho Radio, each edition featuring a different guest involved in the creative arts discussing their creative process, routes into employment, the music industry and more. The first show will air on 18 Mar at 1pm with film maker Dean Chalkley. More info here.
The Killers have announced that they will release new album 'Imploding The Mirage' on 29 May. The album features guest appearances from artists including Lindsey Buckingham, kd lang, Weyes Blood, War On Drugs' Adam Granduciel, Blake Mills and Lucius. Here's first single 'Caution'.
Coldplay have released the video for 'Trouble In Town', from their 'Everyday Life' album.
Ava Max as released her new single 'Kings & Queens'. Her debut album is set for release later this year.
Kehlani has released new single 'Toxic'.
Sasami has released new single 'Mess'. The track, she explains, reflects on a year spent promoting her debut album. "'Mess' is where I'm at now", she says. "I wanted to end the year of my first album campaign with one last sentence before I crack into the stone slab of my next album. This time I didn't want to provide any visual counterparts. I just want people to listen".
Mxmtoon has released new single 'Quiet Motions'. Written about spending time in solitude, she says: "The 'quiet motions' of pouring yourself a cup of tea, turning on the TV, or lighting a candle, can all be pieces of a puzzle that help you to maintain calmness throughout the chaos of the world. 'Quiet Motions' is about just that, the comfort in the alone moments".
Girlpool have released new single 'Like I'm Winning It'. The duo's Avery Tucker says the track "is about power and lust: how can the weight of someone's attention feel so heavy just because of its scarcity? This is a song about playing with that line - the line between the electricity in receiving attention and what's unattainable".
Sabiyha has released new single 'Choorile'. The song is written about her mother, she explains: "She was quite strong willed when she was young, and whilst she didn't let me act out growing up, she encouraged me to speak up and have my own opinions. She'd ask me 'are you a leader or are you a follower?' She was quite hard about that - she didn't want me to just go along with what people were saying, and that's what has shaped the way I am".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
The internet means Live Aid could never happen again, says Bob Geldof
"To change economics, you must engage with the agents of change, which, like it or not, [means] you've got to talk to the politicians", he says in a new interview with CBC. "We had a huge lobby [in 1985]: 1.2 billion people, 95% of the television sets on Earth watched that concert. Politics is just numbers. They can't ignore it".
He adds that this Live Aid-instigated change did not come over night, rather it was 20 years later when politicians who had watched the benefit concert when they were younger came to power. But now, he says, "that instrument of change is no longer plausible".
"Rock and roll was the central spine of our culture for 50 years", he goes on. "The web has broken down the world into individualism and that's easy for authoritarians to use ... We've reduced ourselves. The 21st century is reductionist and it's using the great tool of reductionism, the internet".
The future might not be entirely bleak though, he adds: "Something like Live Aid can't happen now, but that doesn't stop you raging against the dying of the light. That doesn't stop you acknowledging that all generations fail and some fail more spectacularly than others".
"It doesn't mean that you can't be Greta Thunberg and stand in front of your school silently and just say 'no'", he goes on. "That's still there. The possibility to steer your world in the direction you need to live in, that's there, but it ain't this cyber wanking into the digital void".
So, hey, well done you for reading about all this in a niche publication on the internet. Of course other things have changed since 1985 which may also have had an effect on people's view of events like Live Aid. Not least a greater awareness of different world events, meaning it's hard to know which terrible thing to get a load of millionaires to entertain you in aid of.
Even Geldof recognised that in 2005 when the 20th anniversary edition of Live Aid - Live 8 - was staged to coincide with the G8 political conference. That time the event aimed to put the spotlight on the much bigger issue of global poverty, rather than raising money for and building awareness about one specific terrible event, ie the 1983-1985 famine in Ethiopia.
Then there's the fact that - if you were thinking of staging awareness or money raising events in multiple locations around the world in 2020 - well, the big things in the news at the moment are climate change and coronavirus. And neither of them really lend themselves to the idea of getting loads of people together in one place and then sending Phil Collins over the Atlantic on Concorde so he can play at more than one show in one country in one day. I mean, Concorde doesn't even fly anymore.