|FRIDAY 27 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The music industry has welcomed the UK government's announcement yesterday about economic support for the self-employed during the COVID-19 crisis, although it has also expressed concern that the support won't be available until June... [READ MORE]|
Music industry welcomes UK government's COVID-19 support for self-employed
Economic measures previously announced by the UK's Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak to help those financially impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown were focused on businesses and those in formal employment. Trade organisations for the music industry had become increasingly vocal about the need for similar support for the self-employed because the majority of people working in music do so on a freelance basis.
Sunak announced a package of benefits for self-employed people yesterday, insisting that it had taken longer to put together these economic measures because the freelance community is a very "diverse population", some of whom earn a great deal.
The scheme announced yesterday will benefit people who are formally registered as self-employed with the UK tax authorities, who make under £50,000 a year, and who earned at least half of their income from freelance work in the 2018-19 tax year.
They will be able to claim a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years up to £2500 a month, which is in line with the subsidy available to those in formal employment. Although, unlike the employee scheme, the self-employed can continue to work as they receive this support, which will initially be available for three months.
Although the devil, as always, is in the detail, yesterday's measures will help many people working in the music industry, including musicians, songwriters and producers, most of whom are self-employed.
However, these grants will not be paid until June, which means those music people who saw their income immediately hit as the live sector went into shutdown - followed by retail, studios and schools - could still face financial hardship in the weeks ahead.
As the interim CEO of cross-sector trade group UK Music, Tom Kiehl, noted last night. Sunak's package of support for freelancers "will be a vital lifeline to thousands in the music industry where 72% of the workforce is self-employed", he said. But "we need immediate and urgent help - people are in desperate need with bills to pay. They need financial support now and cannot wait until June for the scheme to kick in".
He went on: "The Chancellor should outline interim financial help for the self-employed to help them survive until the support scheme kicks in".
Some in the political community have also raised concerns about the delay in getting support to the self-employed. According to the BBC, the Labour Party's John McDonnell said he was worried the grants would come "too late for millions", adding: "People need support in the coming days and fortnight. There is a real risk that without support until June the self-employed will feel they have to keep working, putting their own and others' health at risk".
There are also other issues that will affect a portion of those people in the music industry who are self-employed which UK Music wants the government to comment on. That includes "how this support scheme will affect mothers who have been on maternity leave and could lose out because their earnings will be misrepresented". And "there remains a need for support for those in the music industry that have not been self-employed for very long, including recent graduates, who will not qualify for this grant".
It remains to be seen if and how the government responds to the various issues that could stop some of those freelancers who need support from getting it.
A number of other music industry organisations that had been calling for support for the self-employed have also responded to last night's announcement...
Musicians' Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge: "With over 90% of our 32,000 members being self-employed, today's measures are vital. We understand that implementing this system will be complex, but we now urge the government to work to get it in place as quickly as possible. Any help that the MU can give in this process will be readily offered".
Paul Pacifico, CEO of The Association Of Independent Music: "We applaud the government's speed and willingness in its efforts to support the most vulnerable at this time. Alongside our industry partners, it's great to see that the independent music community's voice has been heard, and made a difference in calling for support for the self-employed. Now we must make sure that these measures are accessible and implemented as rapidly as possible".
Geoff Taylor, CEO of the BPI: "A large number of the creatives and those who work across the music community are self-employed. We applaud the Chancellor for acting swiftly to bring in a safety net of cash grants during this period of crisis. Although the grants will be backdated to cover the three months to May, money will not start to hit bank accounts until June, so we hope that government can help to ensure those who need it have simple access to appropriate overdraft or loan facilities".
R Kelly requests to be let out of prison over COVID-19 fears
According to Page Six, the US Bureau Of Prisons says that only ten inmates in American jails have so far tested positive for COVID-19 and none of them are in Chicago. However, Greenberg says that there are inmates at Chicago MCC with flu-like symptoms who have been quarantined, and that a wider outbreak in the facility seems likely.
Greenberg's legal filing adds that it will be "simply impossible" to implement social distancing measures at the jail. "No matter what steps they take the sanitation will be substandard, [so] the risk of an internal pandemic at the MCC is great", it states "and if one does get sick jail healthcare is notoriously substandard". To that end, forcing Kelly to await his trials in the prison is "tantamount to making [him] drink poison".
If freed, Kelly would stay with his girlfriend Jocelyn Savage at his Chicago apartment. Greenberg says his client would submit to any house arrest conditions required by the court, though adds that - in the current climate - he's unlikely to want to leave his home anyway.
Needless to say, Kelly is by no means the only inmate in the US prison system requesting to be let out because of COVID-19 fears. And he's not the only celebrity prisoner to have made such a request either. Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine - in jail in New York in relation to crimes committed as a member of the Nine Trey Bloods street gang - had his request for early release denied on Wednesday.
Def Jam signs Nasty C
The rapper has been working with Universal in his home country for a few years, it releasing his 2018 album 'Strings And Bling' which, the major brags, was "far and away the most streamed South African and African album on the Apple Music streaming platform in Sub-Saharan Africa".
Confirming the new deal, Def Jam's interim CEO Jeff Harleston said: "Nasty C is a unique and forward-thinking artist who is at the forefront of a new generation of rappers emerging from Africa. Def Jam is a globally recognised brand synonymous with excellence in hip hop, and we are excited to welcome Nasty C - an international star with real vision and talent - into the family".
Nasty C himself added: "It's powerful to be a part of the Def Jam family. It's an iconic record label and has made the careers of many of the artists I look up to".
Concord signs Andrew Patroff
"Coming to Concord feels like coming home", says Petroff, having consulted the Usbourne Big Book Of Press Release Clichés. "The people here feel like family and everyone has a passion for truly great music".
Brad Kennard, SVP A&R at Concord Music Publishing in Nashville, adds: "As a writer, producer and human being, Andrew operates with integrity and authenticity as his guiding light. Anyone who has worked with, or knows, Andrew, loves him. We're proud and humbled to be his publishing partner".
Artists Petroff has worked with include Sheryl Crow, Phillip Larue and Devon Gilfillian. He is also a prolific writer of music for TV, with work heard in shows such as 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'The Black List'.
Live Nation cancels Isle Of Wight and Download festivals
The major live firm has two other festivals due to take place over the same weekend - Lovebox in London and Parklife in Manchester - though no announcement of any cancellation of these has yet been made. Seemingly the larger scale of Isle Of Wight and Download have led to these events being pulled with two and a half months still to go.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, led to the cancellation of countless live events around the world.
In the UK, confirmation that the Glastonbury Festival would not go ahead this year was something of a watershed moment. Organisers of that event said that the long lead time in preparing the festival site made it impossible to proceed with their 50th anniversary edition.
Earlier this week, another Live Nation-owned event, The Great Escape showcase festival and conference in Brighton in May, was also cancelled.
A statement from the Isle Of Wight Festival - which was set to be headlined by Lewis Capaldi, Lionel Richie and the Black Eyed Peas - says: "This decision [to cancel] hasn't been taken lightly and we have tried our hardest to make it work, but it was unavoidable given the current status. The whole team was excited to welcome everyone to the island for another fantastic festival and we extend our sincere apologies to everyone who was looking forward to it as much as we were".
"The safety of our audience, artists, crew and the Isle of Wight community is paramount, and we appreciate your patience whilst we've been working through this unprecedented situation", it went on. "We'll be back stronger than ever in 2021 and we hope to see you all again next year".
Similarly, Download - which had Kiss, System Of A Down and Iron Maiden booked as headliners - said: "We've been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation and it's become clear that it just isn't possible for the 2020 festival to go ahead. This decision hasn't been taken lightly and we're beyond disappointed. We extend our heartfelt apologies to all of you - we really did try to make this work".
It also vowed to be back, saying: "Please rest assured we will be back next year. Now, more than ever, we need the Download spirit to thrive and offer support to those that need it most. We'll do our best to put together an amazing line up for you in 2021 and can't wait to see you all then".
A week ago members of European festival trade body Yourope - including Primavera, Roskilde, Rock In Seine, Exit, Open'er and Melt - put out a joint statement saying that they are collectively monitoring the progress of the pandemic, but that they "all expect to carry through our festivals this summer".
"As festival organisers we take the current situation very seriously", they said. "We are monitoring the situation closely, and we are all, as always, cooperating closely with the authorities and the emergency services to ensure the best and safest environment for the festival community. We share experiences and knowledge with each other. We stand united".
They continued: "Viewed in the light of these facts and with the knowledge that we have, we shall continue monitoring the current global health situation throughout the following weeks, and together we will communicate about any further decisions in this matter".
"Nevertheless, we all expect to carry through our festivals this summer", they then stated. "We will stand united to make it a safe and sound experience for our participants and the outside world. It's about taking responsibility for the events - and it's about taking responsibility for the industry we're part of".
"It's an industry in which we, as major festivals, are the final part of a food chain where the smaller players - the artists, the venues, sound and light production and many more - are already suffering from the serious situation we are in", they went on. "They suffer so much that they may not be able to recover if they are not given the opportunity to be a part of festivals like ours".
"By carrying through our festivals this summer, we can be a crucial part of the survival of this industry", they concluded. "We owe it to the community, the music, the art and the culture to assume responsibility together".
Of course it remains to be seen how long measures to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19 need to be kept in place. In the UK, Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson said earlier this month that he was confident that the UK could "turn the tide" in the pandemic in twelve weeks. Although it remains unclear what he means by that and several experts in the scientific community have indicated measures may need to be in place for longer.
Record producers have lost 70% of their income due to COVID-19 crisis, says MPG
As measures to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19 have increased in recent weeks, studios have been hit in the same way as venues and record shops. Many are now in temporary shutdown, including some of the country's highest profile recording studio complexes like Abbey Road and Air Studios in London, and Parr Street Studios in Liverpool.
According to MPG's survey of its membership, producers and sound engineers have, on average, lost 70% of their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many having to stop work altogether. The average loss of earnings in March was £3300, rising to £4300 in April. More than half of those surveyed say they will default on rent or mortgage payments in three months or less, and many are unable to cover the cost of their studio premises.
It's hoped that many of those negatively impacted within this community in the UK will be able to access the grants announced last night for the self-employed. Though it remains to be seen how many producers qualify for that support, plus - like the rest of the music community - waiting until June for payment will be problematic for many.
Other measures may also be required to ensure the country's studio network can survive the enforced shutdown. The MPG noted that if its members "lose their studios and equipment they will never get back into the industry, and the UK will lose huge swathes of talent".
Music publisher Big Deal has promoted both Ashley Alexander and Amber Packer to the position of Senior Creative Director. "Ashley and Amber are both incredible success stories who've grown along with the company, making a huge difference in our songwriters' careers", says CEO Kenny MacPherson. "They are very deserving of these promotions and I'm looking forward to them continuing to make valuable contributions as we grow this company".
Dua Lipa has released the video for 'Break My Heart', taken from her new album 'Future Nostalgia', which is out today.
PartyNextDoor has released new single 'Believe It', featuring Rihanna. His new album, 'Partymobile', was released last night.
Major Lazer have released new single 'Lay Your Head On Me', featuring Marcus Mumford.
Nine Inch Nails have released two new records in their 'Ghosts' series of instrumental albums. Both are available to download for free from the NIN website. In a tweet announcing the release, Trent Reznor promised "hours and hours of music ... some of it kind of happy, some not so much".
Hailee Steinfeld has released new single 'I Love You's'. "After going through a breakup, I decided I needed time to focus on myself and heal without the distractions of another relationship", she says. "There's something really empowering about deciding what's best for you and putting yourself first. That's what this record is about".
Trivium have released 'What The Dead Men Say', the title track of their new album, which is due out on 24 Apr through Roadrunner. "We always take seriously which song becomes the title track because it represents the album's musical themes and ambition", says bassist Paolo Gregoletto. "'What The Dead Men Say' started off as two separate demos but emerged from the writing session as one epic tune. This is a riff beast!"
Braids have released new single 'Snow Angel'. They've also announced that they are postponing the release of their new album, 'Shadow Offering', to 19 Jun.
Perfume have released the video for 'Challenger', one of the newly recorded tracks that appeared on last year's 'P Cubed' best of compilation.
Teitur has released new single 'Clara'. "I [wrote this song] with [US singer-songwriter] Griffin House in his garage in Nashville, Tennessee", he says. "We were playing guitars and goofing around with songs for our band called Otis Redneck, when Griffin's four year old daughter Clara was riding around on her bike dressed in a SWAT team suit. We skipped what we were working on and described her in a song instead". His new EP, 'Modera Era', is set for release next month.
Bryde has released new single 'Silence'. "It feels strangely timely", she says of the song's release. "Before the eerie stillness of a pandemic took hold I was looking for a way to calm the noise in my mind. 'Silence' is about finding the things that will quiet our noisy minds during this anxious yet unusually quiet time". Her new album, 'The Volume Of Things', is out on Easy Life Records on 29 May.
Rapper Mikano has released the video for 'Fuego' from his debut mixtape 'Melting Balloons'.
Orchards have released the video for 'Magical Thinking' from their debut album 'Lovecore'. Say the band: "Mental health as a conversation topic is more important than ever and this track is our anthem of hope and validation. This track is for anyone who has suffered and who has ever felt lost. You are never alone and asking for help is never shameful. Let the joy in this track bring you a little love and happiness. It's a party song, so dance around your bedroom and release some endorphins".
Ellis has released new single 'Saturn Return' ahead of the release of her debut album 'Born Again' next week. 'Saturn Return', she explains, "is an astrological term for the time in your life where Saturn literally returns to the same place in its orbit that it was the moment you were born. The first one happens in your late 20s, and it's a time of radical transformation. I am in mine now and have been feeling it big time! I wrote this record while reflecting on all the ways my life is changing, reconciling things from the past and making space to move forward".
Visual artist Kesh has turned to music and released her debut single 'Not Gaan Out'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Abbey Road crossing repainted while would-be crossers remain on lockdown
It's not the first time the crossing has been repainted since the Beatles album came out in 1969 - or indeed the Red Hot Chili Peppers' I'm sure equally significant 'Abbey Road' EP in 1988 - neither of which feature the 'look right' text either side of the crossing that was touched up yesterday. Still, opportunities to do such work without having to constantly shout at tourists for stepping in the paint are few and far between.
In 2009, the number of people risking being run down to get themselves a souvenir photo on the crossing led Westminster City Council to consider removing it altogether. Following a campaign by English Heritage, it was instead granted Grade II listed status the following year.
Then Minister For Tourism And Heritage John Penrose said in a statement at the time: "This London zebra crossing is no castle or cathedral but, thanks to the Beatles and a ten minute photoshoot one August morning in 1969, it has just as strong a claim as any to be seen as part of our heritage. And as such it merits the extra protection that Grade II listing provides".
However, with the site now protected by law, the problems of people posing for photos delaying traffic continued, leading to the council suggesting that it might allocate a lollypop person to manage the crossing. That plan was never implemented, possibly because they realised whoever did that job would spend their day having people shout at them to get out of the photos.
Right now, very few - if any - pictures are being taken at the usually busy site as the UK remains on COVID-19 lockdown. So you can't watch the customary dance of humans and traffic on the webcam. You can admire the lovely new paint job though.