|TUESDAY 14 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Live Nation yesterday announced a series of measures designed to help the live entertainment giant navigate the ongoing COVID-19 shutdown. In a statement to investors the firm outlined an amendment to its existing credit agreement, the completion of a new revolving credit facility, and a cost reduction and cash management programme... [READ MORE]|
Live Nation reveals measures to protect the business during COVID-19 shutdown
The latter will see CEO Michael Rapino voluntarily forego his salary entirely while other senior execs will take salary reductions of up to 50% for a certain time period. The company will also instigate hiring freezes, reduce its use of contractors, seek to renegotiate rents, and utilise all available government support schemes, especially in relation to salaries.
All of Live Nation's core businesses - including its divisions involved in tours, festivals, venue management and ticketing - have been significantly impacted by the measures implemented to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19. Those measures, of course, mean that the live entertainment industry is currently in full-on shutdown in numerous countries.
It's still unknown how long that shutdown will continue for. Many August festivals are believed to be holding off making any decisions about their 2020 editions until late May, hoping that lockdown will be coming to an end by then in both Europe and North America.
However, some reckon that most events will end up being called off through to September. Some people are even more pessimistic, reckoning that - even when lockdown measures are relaxed - restrictions on large-scale events and international travel could stay in place until the end of the year, or even well into 2021.
Though in many ways that depends on how things go in those countries affected by COVID-19 first, where restrictions are already being lifted.
Either way, Live Nation put a positive spin on things in its investor statement yesterday, alongside the announcement of the short-term measures to secure its business.
It stressed that - while 8000 of its shows had been impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown by the end of March, impacting on fifteen million ticket sales - 7000 of those events, accounting for fourteen million of those tickets, have been postponed rather than cancelled.
And while refunds may also be issued for some postponements in some markets, generally cancellations have a more negative impact. It also noted that in some European countries regulations may be changed to allow the issuing of credits rather than cash even on cancelled events.
Meanwhile, Rapino looked to the long-term future, telling investors: "The live entertainment industry has delivered incredible global growth for over 20 years, which speaks to the great passion and resilience of fan demand".
Referencing the new credit arrangements and cost savings, he went on: "With this additional liquidity, the flexibility in our debt covenants, and cost-cutting efforts, we believe that Live Nation has the financial strength to weather this difficult time. We will be ready to ramp back up quickly and once again connect audiences to artists at the concerts they are looking forward to".
New Wolfgang's Vault case granted class action status
Wolfgang's Vault began life as an archive of concert recordings previously owned by promoter Bill Graham, although it later expanded its content sources. As that happened, and the channels through which the firm disseminated and monetised the live recordings expanded too, the company became somewhat controversial in music circles.
Litigation followed, with the National Music Publishers Association pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of various publishers, including all the majors, back in 2015. The publishers prevailed in that lawsuit in 2018 and last month the companies behind Wolfgang's Vault were ordered to pay $189,500 in damages.
The new lawsuit has been filed by musician Greg Kihn and his publishing company Rye Boy Music. It sought class action status to the benefit of two groups of people: composers whose songs have been distributed without licence and performers who appear in live recordings on the website.
The claim on behalf of the composers pretty much replicates the allegations made by the publishers in their lawsuit, ie that Wolfgang's Vault reproduced songs controlled by any participating composers without securing the required licences.
However, the claim on behalf of the performers is more interesting, because it doesn't say that Kihn et al have any stake in the sound recording copyrights being exploited by Wolfgang's Vault. Rather, the claim is that performer rights were infringed when the recordings were made in the first place.
Most copyright systems provide approval rights for performers so that anyone recording a performance first needs to get permission from everyone performing.
In this domain, US copyright law specifically says that "anyone who, without the consent of the performer or performers involved, fixes the sounds, or sounds and images, of a live musical performance in a copy or phonorecord, or reproduces copies or phonorecords of such a performance from an unauthorised fixation, shall be [liable] to the same extent as an infringer of copyright".
In deciding whether to grant Kihn's lawsuit class action status in relation to performers, the judge considered the ins and outs of enforcing this performer approval requirement - in particular regarding burden of proof.
She concluded that while it's the responsibility of Kihn and any other members of the performer class to prove their performances have been exploited by Wolfgang's Vault, it's then for the defendants to prove that permission was granted when each live recording was originally made.
With class action status now approved, Kihn's lawsuit can proceed.
Record Store Day announces FilltheGap campaign
Basically, music fans are encouraged to commit online this week to buy a key release that is currently missing from their record collection from their local independent record shop, tagging their post #RSDFillTheGap.
Many indie stores are currently focusing on their online operations after COVID-19 forced them to temporarily shut their high street shops. Record Store Day UK's website has a directory of all participating stores, including links to their respective online platforms. Which means fans can fill that gap by buying their chosen record via their chosen's shops website.
Natasha Youngs, who runs one of those stores, Brighton's Resident Music, explains: "Traditionally this would be the time of year when indie record stores celebrate the unique culture of their shops with their customers and community".
"With [Record Store Day] postponed", she goes on, "we'd still like to commemorate the event as an online community, encouraging our customers to engage with their local record shop in order to keep the spirit of the day alive while we wait for the real thing to take place. Identify the glaring omission from your collection, or take a punt on something new or different, and let us help keep you sane whilst you're staying safe".
Meanwhile, the band Big Moon - ambassadors of Record Store Day 2020 - add: "We're all looking forward to getting back out into the world and sharing physical space with our fellow humans again. If music and record stores are a part of your life and you have the means to be spending disposable income right now, please keep supporting them so they can be there for you when all this madness is over and the world starts turning again".
"Massive corporations will be fine", they go on. "Support the shop down the road that you always drop by to chat to the staff and get their recommendations and get a decent cup of coffee. Support that shop you always go to in another city that you found cos the first time you went you were looking for the 'cool bit'. Support all the musicians whose songs you're streaming to get you through these long days inside, by actually spending money on their work so they can continue making music for you! Treat yourself! Buy yourself a new friend! You won't regret it".
In related news, The Official Charts Company has just launched an interactive map allowing you to find your nearest UK record shop offering home delivery during lockdown. So you need not wait for your chosen record to plod its way through the postal system.
Ticketmaster gets approval for deal to buy Rival
Talks between Ticketmaster and Rival's investors have been ongoing since last summer. Rival founder and one-time Ticketmaster boss Nathan Hubbard had hoped to launch a strong competitor to his former employer, but that wasn't to be.
The new company's main client was sports and media firm Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which planned to switch its ticketing allegiances from AEG to Rival, the son of that company's owner Stan Kroenke having a stake in the start-up.
However, when Kroenke's contract with AEG expired in July last year, the sports company instead transitioned to Ticketmaster, and those talks between Rival's owners and the Live Nation ticketing company began.
The acquisition required approval from the US Department Of Justice, which - as of last summer - was already investigating whether Live Nation had breached the consent decree it entered into with the DoJ's competition regulators when it bought Ticketmaster back in 2010.
For a time it looked like that investigation might lead to legal action which could have scuppered the Rival purchase. But Live Nation ultimately did a deal with the DoJ over the consent decree in December. And then, according to Billboard, the DoJ gave its separate approval of the Rival acquisition last month.
As well as the valuable Kroenke contract, Ticketmaster will also acquire Rival's technology and team. But, Billboard reports, not Hubbard, who will now pursue other projects.
Commercial radio stations could close without extra government support
There have been a number of reports in recent weeks showing that radio listening is up as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown, in many cases to the detriment of the streaming services. It's assumed that the human element of radio has become more important to audiences as the pandemic has heightened, plus people are seeking more regular news updates.
Some have speculated that this means the COVID-19 pandemic could ultimately be good news for a radio sector that has lost listeners and listening hours to online services in recent years, especially among younger consumers. The logic goes that radio stations might be able to recruit long-term new listeners via their COVID-19 programming.
However, in the same way that the commercial success of the premium streaming services is linked to subscription sales not consumption levels (mitigating the impact of any short-term listening dip), commercial radio stations are entirely dependent on advertising sales, so that more listeners doesn't necessarily mean more money.
In the short term the advertising market is wobbling as a result of COVID-19, hence the concerns of the APPG On Commercial Radio. In letters to the Treasury, Cabinet Office and Department Of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, it reports that many radio stations have seen ad sales fall significantly since the COVID-19 shutdown began.
Those local radio stations still independently owned have been worse hit, as they are more reliant on ad sales to small local businesses which are either shut entirely at the moment, or facing severe cash flow challenges meaning things like advertising are on hold.
According to Radio Today, the APPG's Chair Andy Carter MP said last week: "The government has taken extraordinary steps to protect businesses, yet there is a risk that without further help that some commercial radio stations could end up being forced off-air".
Specific support the government could provide, the APPG says, includes relief on high fixed transmission costs, an extension of current financial schemes to commercial broadcasters and an increase in spend on radio advertising by government departments.
Noting that the public service role of even the most commercial music radio stations increases during things like the COVID-19 pandemic, Carter added: "The APPG recognises the significant public value provided by broadcasters and so it is right that ministers review ways in which they can support the stations across the country which have millions of listeners relying on them for vital news and information".
BBC Radio 2 reveals UK TV and radio's most played songs of the last decade
But for fuck's sake, why do you always have to put such a negative spin on everything? As Scott Mills - who presented Radio 2's rundown - says, "every single tune [on the list] is an absolute banger that you'll have known and loved then learnt every word to over the past ten years". And isn't that the most important thing? Even if two of those songs are by Maroon 5.
The list was compiled for the BBC by the UK record industry's collecting society PPL, whose CEO Peter Leathem adds: "The top 40 most played songs are the sounds that radio producers and broadcasters have consistently played throughout the last decade and will evoke many memories for all of us. Congratulations and thank you to all those who feature in our Most Played Songs Of The 2010s Chart".
What about some stats though? Who appears the most? Well, that would be Adele, who has three songs in the top 40. Bruno Mars also appears three times, but once with Mark Ronson, which means that placing in the chart only counts for half a point at most according to the official rules I just made up halfway through writing this sentence.
Eighteen of the songs are credited to American artists (or thirteen artists if your remove those with multiple songs in the chart), with British performers trailing at fourteen (dropping to twelve once you take Adele into account). Fourteen of the songs are performed by women, compared to 22 by men (the remaining four feature both men and women).
And 34 of the top 40 songs were released in the last decade, five were released earlier in the 21st century, and just one (Natalie Imbruglia's 'Torn') was released in the olden days.
Most importantly, we can now say that 2011 was definitely the best year for music, it accounting for eight songs in the chart. It is closely followed by 2013, with seven songs, while 2010 scored a handsome six.
However, 2018 and 2019 were officially dogshit, with no good music coming out in either of those years and therefore no songs from either appearing in the chart. Sure, try to argue that this has something to do with accumulation of plays over time, but we all know the truth.
Anyway, here's the top ten:
1. Pharrell Williams - Happy
Kid Cudi has released new single 'Leader Of The Delinquents', his first solo release since 2016.
Gorillaz have released the third track in their 'Song Machine' series. Titled 'Aries', the new song features Peter Hook and Georgia.
Phoebe Bridgers has announced that she will release her second album, 'Punisher', on 19 Jun. New single 'Kyoto' is out now.
Scaffold have released a new version of their 1967 hit 'Thank U Very Much' for modern times, re-titled 'Thank U Very Much For The NHS'. All profits will be donated to NHS charities.
Joy Crookes has released new single 'Anyone But Me'. "When we are dealing with depression and anxiety - we almost become tired of constantly being with ourselves - you want to be with anyone BUT yourself", she says. "This is the position I took when I wrote 'Anyone But Me'".
Saint Saviour has released new single 'Wake Me'. "I think it's possibly the most personal song I've written", she says. "It's about struggling to express what you want to say in words, feeling locked inside yourself, something I've dealt with for as long as I can remember".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
One Direction have exchanged emails about "a number of different things" ahead of tenth anniversary
Speaking to The Sun last week - while he was supposed to be promoting his new collaboration with Alesso - Liam Payne said: "We've got a ten year anniversary coming up so we've all been speaking together a lot over the last few weeks, which has been really nice. To hear a lot of people's voices and seeing old content and different things that we haven't seen for a long time or never seen before, it's very interesting. At the moment I'm not sure what I'm allowed to say".
Say a bit more Liam! Say more! "There's a number of different things that we are all working on to try and make happen and people are forwarding emails around. But more than anything it's just been a real good time for us to connect together again".
The former members of 1D have emailed each other then. That's the news today, people! What exactly they're planning isn't clear though - and the scale of any project probably depends on what date they're counting from. If it's the date that they were forced together on 'The X Factor', then the tenth anniversary is coming up this summer. If it's the release of their first proper single, they have until September 2021.
Of course, right now, all preparations have to be done remotely, thanks to COVID-19 (not to mention the fact that they don't all live in the same country). They all have busy solo careers too, of course. Apart from Zayn. But who knows if he'd want to be involved anyway. And they all seem to have outgrown One Direction so much by this point - despite it only being five years since they last performed together - a reunion might look a bit odd now.
Anyway, the former members of One Direction still use email as a communication tool. That's the big news here.