|MONDAY 30 MARCH 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Representatives for artists and managers in the UK last week called on larger companies and organisations in the music business to do more to help those most severely impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown. Such support is essential, they said, to ensure the "longer-term viability of artists and music-makers"... [READ MORE]|
MMF and FAC suggest recoupment holidays to support artists hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdown
The demands came as the Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition were the latest music industry organisations to publish data on the impact of the live music shutdown caused by measures to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19.
A survey of 150+ artists and managers reported on the impact of more than 2100 cancelled shows, which have resulted in lost gross income of £49.3 million, with managers losing £3.1 million in commission. If the live industry shutdown was to extend for six months, £61.4 million in expected income would be lost.
A number of emergency relief funds for artists and songwriters have already been launched in the UK by the likes of PRS, Help Musicians and the Musicians' Union, with the country's arts councils also announcing emergency schemes for the wider creative sector.
Meanwhile, the UK government last week finally announced measures to support the self-employed as well as businesses and those in formal employment. Such support is vital for the music industry, where more than 70% of people work on a freelance basis.
However, MMF and FAC argue, more is needed. For starters, there are still gaps in government support. The grants for the self-employed only apply to those who are registered as sole traders with the tax authorities. Those who are self-employed but run their business affairs through limited companies, via which they pay themselves a salary and dividends, do not qualify. Concerns have been expressed that these people fall in a gap between the business support measures and the self-employed support measures.
Although welcoming industry and government led support schemes, the MMF and FAC noted on Friday that "we are already seeing far more comprehensive support packages in other countries. For instance, GEMA, the German music licensing society has launched a 40 million euro crisis fund for its songwriter members. The Swedish government has announced a cultural response fund of 45 million euro, while the Norwegian government has also earmarked significant new funding of 25 million euro for their cultural sector".
Referencing the results of their survey, the two trade groups said: "Aside from an immediate-term cashflow crisis, the findings raise grave concerns for the commercial music sector's longer-term sustainability. They signal the need for greater assistance from the UK's largest music businesses and organisations - especially as government support measures for the self-employed will not pay out until June, and many will not qualify at all".
The MMF and FAC propose four ways those larger music businesses and organisations could help, including the major players making donations to the various emergency relief funds that have been set up, and collecting societies making advances available to members.
The two groups also back the proposal made by the Ivors Academy last week that unallocated streaming royalties on the songs side - usually distributed around the industry based on market share - be set aside for a special fund for those most in need.
Though the most original proposal to come from the MMF and FAC is that the major and larger record companies and music publishers offer the artists and songwriters they work with a 'recoupment holiday' for a defined shot-term period.
This would mean that artists and songwriters whose monthly streaming royalties are still paying off cash advances previously received or other recoupable costs a label incurred would - for a time - receive those royalties in cash. Labels and publishers would then be able to carry on recouping all other monies once the current COVID-19 crisis is over.
Commenting on the survey and recommendations, MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick says: "Artists and music-makers are faced with a short-term crisis and a longer-term catastrophe. This MMF and FAC survey is only a snapshot, but it highlights that millions of pounds have already been lost through cancelled shows and campaigns. With government support for freelancers not kicking in until June we need the biggest record labels, music publishers and licensing organisations to act. We need them to do more, and we need them to do so now".
Meanwhile, FAC GM David Martin says: "It is evident that the artist and creator community is suffering enormously as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While our survey only demonstrates a proportion of the actual losses, the numbers highlight the acute challenge facing artists and the existential threat that this presents to our wider industry. We need all parts of the global music community to do their bit to support those that are most in need, and those with the greatest resource must do their fair share to provide this support".
Also calling for more support for artists from music industry organisations this morning was IAFAR, which represents companies working in the so called neighbouring rights sector. These are agencies that manage and administer performing right royalties on the recordings side, working for frontline artists, session musicians and independent labels.
Those royalties are usually collected first by the record industry's collecting societies. IAFAR notes that, while on the songs side, a number of societies around the world have already announced significant schemes to financially support those members most in need, the record industry's societies have been slower to respond.
The trade group states: "IAFAR encourages all artist performance rights [societies] to use their black box funds and reserves to mirror the PRS relief efforts and to reassure their members that they are open for business, working on interim solutions for the short-term survival of their members and the timely payment of royalties already due".
The UK record industry's collecting society PPL - which administers royalties for both labels and artists - said on Friday that it was looking into implementing measures that would speed up the payment of royalties in the months ahead, and would also support some of the emergency relief funds already established by UK industry organisations.
US music industry welcomes support for self-employed and the arts provided by Congress's $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief legislation
There are also specific measures for the creative sector, including a $75 million supplemental fund for the National Endowment For The Arts, which will be distributed to state-run and not-for-profit arts organisations affected by the COVID-19 shutdown.
The measures were widely welcomed by the music industry. The interim CEO of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr, said in a statement: "The Recording Academy thanks the congressional leaders who worked with the music community to craft a bill that allows the music to play on. In navigating this unprecedented crisis, all music industry professionals across the US, many of whom rely on multiple gigs for their livelihood, can be grateful that they are included in this extraordinary effort to help Americans".
"We will now turn our attention to helping music-makers and others who make a living in our industry navigate the process of getting the financial assistance they need while anticipating the day when they can return to providing the soundtrack to our nation, which we'll all need when this crisis is over", he added.
Speaking for the record industry, the CEO of the Recording Industry Association Of America, Mitch Glazier, said: "The music community always steps up to help Americans get through trying times and circumstances, and this legislation steps up to help our community face unique circumstances during this national emergency".
"We are grateful that the stimulus package contains emergency access to unemployment insurance for those who cannot work due to a cancelled performance or a production shut down", he went on. "Access to this expanded unemployment insurance will ensure that hundreds of thousands of musicians' families across the country can continue to pay rent, put food on the table, and care for their children during this public health crisis".
Glaizer also added: "We also applaud the provision that provides more funding for the National Endowment Of The Arts to give grants to arts organisations that provide relief to musicians".
On the songs side of the business, Mike O'Neill of collecting society BMI said: "We are extremely pleased that the federal stimulus package will offer relief to America's songwriters and composers, who are, in many cases, our nation's ultimate small businesses".
"Thanks to the CARES Act", he said, "music creators who are independent contractors, sole proprietors or self-employed, will be eligible for small business loans, emergency grants, unemployment insurance, payroll tax deferrals and more, which will all help protect their livelihoods during this challenging time
MegaUpload lawsuits postponed yet again (again)
The major labels and Hollywood studios sued MegaUpload all the way back in 2014, two years after the file-transfer and video-sharing platform was shut down by the American authorities. The music and movie companies want to access some mega damages for all the copyright infringement that MegaUpload allegedly enabled.
However, it was decided early on that it would be better if that litigation occurred after the criminal case against MegaUpload and its former leadership, including founder Kim Dotcom, had gone through the motions.
Ever since 2012, the US authorities have been trying to extradite Dotcom and his former colleagues from their current base in New Zealand so that they can face various criminal charges in relation to their old business.
Navigating the extradition process has proven very time consuming. In the main the New Zealand courts have ruled that there are grounds for extraditing Dotcom et al in this case, but the former MegaUpload team still have further routes of appeal.
At various points over the last six years MegaUpload's lawyers have returned to the courts in Virginia where the civil lawsuits were filed requesting that that litigation remain on hold. Last time the court pushed things back to April 2020. In a new legal filing, the cases will now be on hold until at least October 2020.
So, see you back here in October for when the cases get pushed back yet another six months. I might just set this story to automatically re-publish itself with a couple of dates changed.
Hipgnosis signs Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora
"I'm very privileged to have had the incredible success I have achieved as a songwriter and artist to date", says Sambora. "These songs are very important to me and I feel very strongly that [Hipgnosis boss] Merck [Mercuriadis] is the only person I could have entrusted my babies to. I believe the work he is doing that has transformed the way that the world looks at the power of great songs and the songwriting community is very special. I look forward to working with him and his Hipgnosis team to deliver more success for all of us".
Mercuriadis adds: "In uncertain times such as this you are reminded of the power of great songs and great music, and amongst the greatest set of songs of the last 35 years are the incomparable songs Richie Sambora co-wrote for Bon Jovi and other great artists. He's a musician's musician and a songwriter's songwriter and is one of the very precious few that is an inductee of both the Songwriters Hall Of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I am delighted to welcome Richie to the Hipgnosis family and look forward to working closely with him for many years to come on this elite set of songs".
Hipgnosis, of course, aims to persuade investors to put their money into music rights rather than more traditional investment portfolios. The company reckons that it can provide reliable and significant returns, while bringing in a new source of investment for the music industry. Other catalogues it currently owns include those of Timbaland, The Chainsmokers, Benny Blanco, Kaiser Chiefs, Dave Stewart and Bernard Edwards.
All Points East, Lovebox and Parklife festivals cancel
Lovebox and Parklife both take place over the same weekend in early June as two larger Live Nation festivals - The Isle Of Wight Festival and Download - both of which were cancelled last week.
In a statement, Lovebox said: "We've been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation and it has become clear that it's just not possible for this year's festival to go ahead. The entire Lovebox family was so excited to share with you the best line-up in our history and to extend the Lovebox vibe across three days this year and we send our apologies to everyone who was looking forward to it as much as we were".
Parklife added: "This decision has not been taken lightly and of course we're really disappointed, we really did try to make this work, but ultimately it was unavoidable".
In its statement, All Points East said: "Following the daily escalating developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the difficult decision that All Points East 2020 will be cancelled. The decision was made following a constant review of recent government actions and statements, and after further consultation with key partners and agencies it is clear that we are unable to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of those working at and attending the event".
"Alongside the now enforced period of social isolation, the government has stated that emergency services will not be able to support major events", it went on. "Furthermore, the projected strain that is being placed on the NHS will push this institution and its staff to levels never seen before. It is therefore inconceivable for us to add any distraction to these organisations. We are fortunate to work alongside the emergency services at our events and want to take this opportunity to express our company's heartfelt gratitude and admiration for all their professionalism and dedication in tackling this crisis".
"We have a responsibility to our staff, fans, event workers, suppliers and sponsors and for this reason, we felt compelled to seek answers to all our questions before making this final decision", the statement added. "However, safety always comes first and what is happening across the world clearly takes precedent and there was simply no alternative".
All three festivals are offering refunds to ticketholders and have confirmed that they will return in 2021.
Live Nation appoints new MD for Sweden
According to IQ, Behrer says of his new gig: "I am very happy to lead Live Nation Sweden's amazing team and continue to develop the experience for fans and partners - before, during and after the event".
Seemingly confident that there will still be a live music industry by the time he arrives in August (fingers crossed everybody!), he goes on: "The live music industry is an extremely exciting area with great potential and a very interesting business model that brings together fans, artists and brands and creates experiences to remember for life".
He will report in to Live Nation's President of Europe John Reid, who adds: "We are very pleased to welcome Mattias to the team. With his extensive background in business and with expertise in marketing to young audiences, it is no doubt that he will be a strong addition to Live Nation Sweden".
Michael Stipe performs new Aaron Dessner collaboration in isolation
In a post on Instagram, Dessner writes: "Michael Stipe has been a great hero and friend to me - and The National - and I never in my wildest dreams imagined writing songs together. But here is the demo of one in progress, coming to you from Michael in isolation at home - hope it raises some spirits. The lyrics and sentiment in the music feel tied to this time".
Ed Sheeran's local café has an emergency bottle of ketchup for his use only
He being a friend of the owners of The Dancing Goat Café in Framlington, Suffolk, Sheeran apparently likes to pop in from time to time. The musician's love of Heinz Tomato Ketchup is well-documented, of course, not least on his own arm, where he has the brand's logo tattooed.
Although Sheeran seemingly wants to be treated like a normal customer, he has nevertheless overlooked there being a bottle of ketchup in the café reserved for his use only. It sits in a glass case marked 'In case of Ed Sheeran'.
Quizzed about this by the Sunday Mirror, the owners of the cafe would only say that Sheeran is "a good friend who loves ketchup".
A chattier local told the newspaper: "Ed is a family friend, so the owners of the Dancing Goat are very protective of him. He really likes to be treated like just another customer and often will pop in for a coffee or a milkshake, which he adores. But when he has something to eat, the ketchup is always there for him. It's become a bit of standing joke".
Last year, Sheeran's love of Heinz Ketchup reached its logical conclusion when the brand released a limited edition version of its product renamed 'Tomato Edchup'. He also fronted a pretty rubbish advert for the company of his own devising.
Elsewhere in Ed Sheeran culinary news, he has told staff at the restaurant he owns in London's Notting Hill, Bertie Blossoms, that he will continue to pay them 100% of their wages while it is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also encouraged them to find other work if they can, saying that this would not affect how much they get paid. What a champ.