|FRIDAY 24 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: UK Music Chair Tom Watson has called on the government to work with the music industry on a grand plan to help it weather what's looking like an increasingly prolonged storm as a resulted of COVID-19. He's calling that grand plan the 'Marshall Amp Plan'. But let's all try very hard to ignore that and instead focus on what said plan needs to achieve... [READ MORE]|
UK Music calls on government to help industry plan for the longer-term COVID impact
The former MP and recently appointed Chair of the cross-sector lobbying group summarises the immediate impact the COVID-19 shutdown has had on the music industry in a post on the organisation's website.
He welcomes the various measures introduced by the UK government to help individuals and companies that have lost work and custom as a result of COVID-19. However, he stresses again that some fundamental gaps remain in that support. Especially for the music community's large number of self-employed people.
"As someone who spent almost two decades in Parliament, including the last three years as Shadow Culture Secretary, I realise how slowly the wheels of government can turn", he writes. "Knowing that, the government package of support to combat coronavirus has been extremely welcome. However, too many people in our industry are still falling through the gaps".
He goes on: "Many in the music business are directors of their own small firms. But they are disqualified from the self-employed scheme and cannot furlough themselves as this would stop their firms from operating".
"Hundreds of UK venues face an existential crisis", he then adds. "According to the Music Venue Trust, more than 550 grassroots venues are under immediate threat of closure with the loss of over 5000 jobs, 100,000 gigs and more than a million temporary employment opportunities. Studios are hurting too. The Music Producers Guild found producers and sound engineers have lost an average 70% of their income".
While the music industry itself has been rallying to provide short-term help those most severely affected by the shutdown through a series of hardship funds and other initiatives, he goes on, "the challenges that face us in the months ahead are immense".
"It is becoming clear that the government intends to keep the rules on social distancing for a while yet", he notes. "That means it is likely to be some time before live music - the lifeblood that courses through the veins of our industry - will be back on its feet and once again delivering its £1.1 billion contribution to the UK economy. The same is true of our many brilliant record stores that have suffered a hammer blow while forced to keep their doors shut".
The music industry's trade organisations are also looking into ways they and their members can provide more long-term support beyond the initial hardship funds. But government help will be needed to meet the longer term challenges of COVID-19.
As Watson states (WARNING, WARNING, WARNING - the Marshall Amp Plan pun is incoming): "The fight against coronavirus has been likened to a war and I believe - just as there was the Marshall Plan after the Second World War - we will need a 'Marshall Amp Plan' to help rebuild our industry after this crisis".
"Rightly, the immediate focus of everyone is on the unprecedented public health emergency facing us", he continues. "However, it is vital we start to look forward and think about how we can best emerge from this lockdown and revive the economy and get music people back to doing what they love".
"We are going to need more help from the government, especially if restrictions on large gatherings such as concerts are to remain in place until the end of the year", Watson concludes. "I would urge the government to work with us at UK Music to ensure that our music industry remains the envy of the world".
Spirit Music signs Digital Farm Animals
"There is huge excitement across our entire company in welcoming the super-talented writer/producer Nick Gale to our roster", says Spirit's Global President Rak Sanghvi. "Nick is without doubt a heavyweight talent whose achievements to date have been spectacular - he has a tremendous work ethic, a finely-tuned creative sensibility and impeccable management. I have no doubt that we will enjoy much further success together on a global level".
Gale adds: "I am delighted and incredibly excited to sign to the Spirit team. I really admire Rak and Jordan's vision and their focus on quality and longevity. I can't wait to get going and write some fucking bangers".
It's not often you get swearing in an announcement like this. More swearing in official quotes, I say. Although I am far too polite to swear myself. Also, if I don't swear now it leaves a nagging feeling of something missing from the final line of this story too, doesn't it? I quite like that. Always leave them wanting
Loud And Quiet announces subscriptions to help weather COVID-19 crisis
The independently-owned publication hopes that its readers, used to picking up the magazine for free while out and about, will be convinced to pay £50 a year to have it delivered straight to their homes.
"Like many of us working in independent music and media, we've been knocked for six by coronavirus, but we're determined to adapt for the better", says founding editor Stuart Stubbs. "The truth is that our old model of funding everything we do through advertising was becoming increasingly impossible anyway".
"Although we've always given away our magazine for free, we hope that our readers will understand that we now need their help to survive", he goes on. "It really is up to them. This feels like a reset moment for music and the arts as a whole - for us to reassess what we consider a fair price for the things we love. Underground media and culture can survive COVID-19 if enough of us really want it to".
People who do decide to front £50 each will receive six issues of the magazine straight through their post boxes, plus a brass badge, leather bookmark, a fifteenth anniversary zine (made in the style of the original version of L&Q back in 2005) and more.
You can also access a digital version of each individual issue through the L&Q website for £2.50.
UK Music again defends Tom Watson appointment amidst further criticism
The former MP, shadow culture secretary and Labour Deputy Leader was announced as the new Chair of UK Music last month. He takes over from Beggars Group exec Andy Heath who had chaired the UK Music board since the organisation was set up in 2008.
The appointment was very popular in some quarters of the music industry, but there are some high profile critics too. There may be a little left-wing/right-wing politics split behind that division of opinion. However, the critics cite the controversies that occurred during Watson's parliamentary career, arguing that they mean that the new Chair has too many enemies in the political community to be an effective representative of the music industry.
The biggest of those controversies relates to the major police investigation launched partly because of pressure by Watson into various allegations of sexual abuse made against former British politicians, especially in the Conservative Party. That investigation ultimately failed because it centred on what were later proven to be the false claims of a man called Carl Beech, who was last year found guilty of perverting the course of justice, fraud and child sex offences.
Before that, Watson was also particularly vocal on the phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News UK company, and the other dodgy practices employed by certain British newspapers. On that issue, Watson's concerns were mainly proven to be justified. Though it also means he has plenty of enemies within the newspaper business too which, his critics in the music community now say, also hinders his abilities to be an effective lobbyist.
Although, of course, that fact also helps his critics to get their voices heard in the mainstream press, like the News UK-owned Times. "The British music industry faces a bitter split as representatives of the country's biggest record labels oppose the appointment of Tom Watson as chairman of an influential group", it reported yesterday.
That statement is based on the fact that record industry trade group the BPI was the one UK Music-allied organisation that opposed Watson's appointment during the actual recruitment process.
An open letter criticising the hiring of Watson then began circulating among some preeminent artists, songwriters and managers last week, coming to wider attention when industry veteran Mike Batt posted it on his website.
The Times now quotes Batt - a former Deputy Chair of the BPI - as saying "if Mr Watson remains as chairman [of UK Music] I would urge the BPI to leave".
When Batt published the open letter last week, UK Music hit back, insisting that - despite what that letter said - it had instigated a thorough and entirely transparency recruitment process, and that all of the trade groups that come together to form UK Music had been involved in making the final appointment.
Yesterday, in response to the Times article, it published a lengthier statement. Stressing that the job had been widely advertising across the broadsheet newspapers and trade press, resulting in over 80 applications, it said: "The UK Music board tasked a representative cross-section of all UK Music's member organisations to carry out the selection process. The six-member panel drew up a shortlist of six candidates for interview. Tom Watson was chosen by the panel and his appointment was ratified in March by UK Music board".
Bigging up the former politician's music-related credentials, it went on: "Tom Watson was Shadow Culture Secretary for more than three years before he stood down from Parliament. He was a founder member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Music. During his time in Parliament, he worked on many cross-party campaigns, including support for the reform of live music licensing and fair ticketing".
A spokesperson then reiterated: "All UK Music's member organisations were actively involved in the extensive and widely advertised recruitment process for the new Chair, which culminated in the appointment of Tom Watson. The appointment was ratified by the UK Music Board in March and widely welcomed across the music industry".
Taylor Swift accuses former label of "shameless greed" with new live album release
The musician says that she did not approve the release and that she only became aware of it last night, when fans pointed it out to her.
Swift and her former label have been in an ongoing headling-grabbing battle since last year, of course. This began when high profile artist manager Scooter Braun bought the record company last year, which she described as her "worst case scenario".
At the centre of the dispute is the fact that Big Machine owns the rights in all but her latest album. So angry about this is she, that she has said that she plans to record new versions of all her older albums as soon as re-record restrictions in her original record contract end.
In an Instagram story post last night, Swift said: "I want to thank my fans for making me aware that my former record label is putting out an 'album' of live performances of mine tonight. This recording is from a 2008 radio show performance I did when I was eighteen. Big Machine has listed the date as a 2017 release, but they're actually releasing it tonight at midnight".
"I'm always honest with you guys about this stuff", she went on. "So I just wanted to tell you that this release is not approved by me. It looks to me like Scooter Braun and his financial backers - 23 Capital, Alex Soros and the Soros family, and The Carlyle Group - have seen the latest balance sheets and realised that paying $330 million [for Big Machine] wasn't exactly a wise choice and they need money".
"In my opinion", she concludes, this is "just another case of shameless greed in the time of coronavirus. So tasteless, but very transparent".
Although Swift claims the label has listed the album as a 2017 release, on streaming services it is marked as a 2020 production. However, how streaming services actually display it differs.
For example, Apple Music puts it at the top of the list of her live albums, which appears near the bottom of her profile page. Spotify lumps all studio and live albums together, but correctly lists this release as a 2008 recording, meaning it appears on her profile just above her 2006 debut. Either way, in both cases there's a lot of scrolling to be done before anyone stumbles across it.
The eight-track release only features songs from Swift's first and second albums. So, for the bulk of her fanbase, who joined her after she flipped from country to pop music, it's debatable if the release will be of much interest. However, perhaps by burying it somewhat, the label is testing the water for other such releases of Swift music from its archive.
Foo Fighters donate Stay Home Live Lounge royalties to charity, while BBC's drumming weatherman forms a virtual band
The recording having been announced earlier this week, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins were late additions to the line-up of artists on the single. As the recording was debuted on BBC radio and TV yesterday, the band also announced that they will be donating all the song royalties received from the release to charity.
"I am so honoured to be a part of this incredible recording, and blown away by all the heart and soul these amazing artists have put into our song", says Grohl. "I hope that it helps lift people's spirits, and reminds them that we'll all be back in one of those muddy fields again someday soon, singing our hearts out together".
In a further statement, the band's publishers, Kobalt and BMG, add: "Kobalt and BMG are proud to be part of this historic and benevolent event. It's 'Times Like These' indeed that so many of us turn to music for comfort and solace, and that music can give back even more with acts of generosity like this".
The band's publishing royalties will be donated to the charities already benefiting from the single release - so that's Comic Relief and Children In Need in the UK, and the WHO's COVID-19-Solidarity Response Fund for international income.
Also on the record are Anne-Marie, AJ Tracey, Bastille, Biffy Clyro, Celeste, Chris Martin, Dermont Kennedy, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Five Seconds Of Summer, Grace Carter, Hailee Seinfeld, Jess Glynne, Mabel, Paloma Faith, Rag N Bone Man, Rita Ora, Royal Blood, Sam Fender, Sean Paul, Sigrid, Yungblud and Zara Larsson.
Elsewhere in BBC ensemble recordings, drumming weather presenter Owain Wyn Evans has virtually teamed up with a whole range of housebound musicians for a new version of the BBC News theme tune.
The weather presenter for 'BBC North West Tonight' last week went viral after posting a video of himself playing drums along with the BBC News theme music. The conceit being that, while making his weather reports from home during lockdown, BBC bosses now also expected him to play the music himself too.
"Like so many other people I have been working from home since early March and doing my weather bulletins from my garden or dining room, sometimes with the help of my cat", he said. "I thought it would be a bit of fun to put a bit of a weather forecast in front of a rocked up drum track to the BBC News theme... and it's gone bonkers darlings! I had no idea it would be such a hit".
Following the success of the clip, he appealed for submissions from the public to build Owain's Big House Band. Now he's released a new version of his original video, featuring some of the more than 500 submissions he received.
The composer of the original piece of music, David Lowe, says: "I am totally THRILLED with all the attention it is getting. I have been a BBC fan all my life, so this has been an amazing experience".
The Rolling Stones have released their first original song for eight years, 'Living In A Ghost Town'. And it has a COVID-19 theme too, just to prove it's not some old outtake.
Pearl Jam have released a new visual 'experience' to accompany their new album 'Gigaton'. The 'Gigaton Visual Experience' is available to stream for free on the Apple TV app for seven days, before being made available to rent or buy. Check it out here, if you like.
Charli XCX has released new single 'Claws'. It's now less than three weeks until her lockdown album 'How I'm Feeling Now' is set for release.
Also, Nasty Cherry, the band put together by Charli XCX, have released their first new track of 2020, 'Shoulda Known Better'. It is, the band say, "a song about making dumb decisions despite knowing better". As the title suggests.
Now well into the 700th year of the promotional campaign for their fourth album 'Notes On A Conditional Form', The 1975 have released new single 'If You're Too Shy (Let Me Know)', featuring FKA Twigs. The album is currently set to come out on 22 May.
The Killers have released new single 'Fire In Bone'. They've also announced that they are postponing the release of their new album, 'Imploding The Mirage', "due to delays in finalising" it. A new release date will be set at some point in the near future.
Following the announcement of a new charitable fund in his memory earlier this week, the estate of Juice WRLD has released a posthumous single by the rapper, titled 'Righteous'.
Sigur Rós' Jónsi has released his first new solo song for a decade, 'Exhale'. The track is co-produced by AG Cook.
Jpegmafia has released new single 'Bodyguard!', the latest in his monthly series of singles being released throughout 2020.
Everything Everything are back with new single 'In Birdsong', which, explains frontman Jonathan Higgs, "tries to imagine what it would have been like to have been the first self-aware human".
Octavian has released new single 'Poison', featuring Take A Daytrip, Obongjayar and Santi.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has released new single 'Kamaitachi'.
Earl Sweatshirt has released new single 'Whole World', featuring Maxo.
Katie Von Schleicher has released new single, 'Wheel'. Her new album, 'Consummation', is out on 22 May.
Mr Ben And The Bens have released new single 'Watering Can'. "I took up gardening recently as our band obtained an allotment", says frontman Ben Hall, "and I loved the image of a watering can becoming a metaphor for good intentions". The band's new album, 'Life Drawing', is out on 10 Jul.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Eminem delivers 'mom's spaghetti' to Detroit healthcare workers
"Mom's spaghetti", of course, is what he vomits all over himself in the lyrics of 'Lose Yourself'. There's no indication that these meals have been pre-digested at all though.
News of the donation came after the Henry Ford Hospital tweeted pictures of the pots of spaghetti bolognese. As well as the 'Mom's Spaghetti' label, there is another reading, "Thank you frontline caregivers" stamped with the logo of the rapper's Shady Records label. Meals were also sent to the Detroit Receiving Hospital.
"Our #HealthcareHeroes 'lost themselves' in the delicious Mom's Spaghetti donated by Detroit's very own, Eminem", tweeted the Henry Ford. "Thank you for providing a special meal for our team members!"
Eminem himself has not commented, but his manager Paul Rosenberg has confirmed that the meals came from the rapper, and that more will be delivered in the coming weeks.
It's not the first time Eminem has sold his knowing brand of spaghetti, having previously opened a pop-up shop in Detroit in 2017 and a food stand at Coachella a few months later, when he headlined the festival.