|MONDAY 27 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The Music Venue Trust has announced a three-pronged campaign to help more than 500 grassroots music venues across the UK survive the ongoing COVID-19 shutdown. Artists, music fans and the industry are all being encouraged to get involved... [READ MORE]|
Music Venue Trust launches #saveourvenues campaign
The organisation says that 556 grassroots venues are currently at risk of permanent closure after being forced to going into temporary shutdown as a result of the measures implemented to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19. And that's even after those venues have tapped all of the government support schemes currently available.
At the heart of MVT's #saveourvenues campaign is a call out to artists to live stream home-based performances in aid of an at-risk venue - maybe a venue that they particularly enjoyed playing at and/or which was a key supporter in the early stages of their career.
This scheme was inspired by Frank Turner, who has already staged four such shows raising thousands of pounds for venues including Nambucca in London, The Joiners in Southampton, the Railway Inn in Winchester and The Forum in Tunbridge Wells.
MVT has now set up a special #saveourvenues website which lists all of the venues which are at risk of closing as a result of COVID-19, and also provides guidelines on how to run a home-based live stream and set up fund-raising tools for each at-risk venue.
Music fans are encouraged to get involved by tuning in to the #saveourvenues shows and donating to their local venue via special crowd-funding pages. Meanwhile the industry at large is urged to support MVT's existing Grassroots Music Venues Crisis Fund - what will now be known as the #saveourvenues Fund.
Over £182,000 has already been raised for that central fund after significant donations were made by Amazon Music, promoter SJM and various artists and fans. But, MVT says, significantly more is still needed to help the 556 venues at risk.
Welcoming the wider initiative encouraging artists to support venues via live streams, Turner said this morning: "The UK live music industry is staring into the abyss right now. I'm not able to save the whole thing on my own, but I decided to do a series of livestream shows to raise money for specific independent venues that I know and love, and that are in serious risk of disappearing right now".
"The success of these shows demonstrated the love that exists between music fans and their favourite grassroots music venues", he added. "So the #saveourvenues campaign is a brilliant way of building on that and hopefully giving artists and music fans a chance to get involved and play a big part in helping them survive".
Meanwhile MVT CEO Mark Davyd added: "Frank Turner's amazing initiative proved that together artists and music fans can go a long way to helping at-risk grassroots music venues get through this period of lockdown. We are building on his good work with the #saveourvenues campaign and are confident that we can help create real momentum that will see artists and venues working together to raise much needed funds".
"We are also calling on the wider music industry to support us too", he added. "We have received some magnificent support so far from music companies, but we need a lot more to step up and help save this essential part of the music eco-system. We cannot stress enough how critical it is that the music industry supports the #saveourvenues campaign as without them over 500 of the UK's grassroots music venues could go out of business, never to return, in the coming months. Please help us".
Danish courts block stream-ripping site Yout.com despite it employing the "but we don't copy anything" defence
Stream-ripping, of course, has been a top piracy gripe of the music industry for several years now. These are the websites and apps that allow people to grab permanent downloads of content that is streaming on websites like YouTube, Facebook and SoundCloud.
In some cases record companies have actually gone legal against the stream-ripping sites - or, at least, threatened to go legal - usually resulting in targeted services going offline. In other cases the music industry simply seeks to have stream-ripping sites blocked by ISPs, albeit only in those countries were web-blocks of that kind are currently available as an anti-piracy tool.
Whenever the music industry seeks web-blocks, it's mainly the labels and the ISPs that are involved in the legal proceedings. Targeted sites will be alerted to those proceedings, where contacts for said sites can be found, but they very rarely respond. This means web-blocks are applied without the blocked sites presenting any case to the court.
However, when Danish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance sought a web-block against Yout.com, its operator - John Nader - decided to fight the blockade in court
While his decision to fight the blockade was unusual, his legal arguments were not. He presented the defence commonly employed in piracy cases, which is that - while his technology facilitates the unlicensed ripping of copyright protected audio or video from a streaming site - his platform doesn't actually get involved in the copying of any files or store any of the copied content.
This argument has been used since the early days of file-sharing. There are two ways copyright owners can counter it. First, by trying to hold the technology provider liable for so called contributory or authorising infringement. Which is where you have an entity which, although not directly involved in the infringing activity, facilitates the infringement process.
Secondly, you can try to argue that while the file-sharing or stream-ripping tool doesn't get involved in the copying of any content, it is nevertheless making that content available and/or communicating that content to the public. And the act of making content available or communicating content to the public is also protected by the copyright.
It was on the latter basis that the Danish courts rejected Nader's defence, ruling his website did indeed infringe copyright and therefore there were grounds to block it.
According to Torrentfreak, the court said in a recent judgement: "The court finds that Yout.com, by means of the method described, in breach of the exclusive rights held by the holder, is making protected works available to a new public by means of a new technical method whereby they are communicated to the public. The court also finds that Yout.com, via its mode of operation, plays an essential role in the communication of protected works".
As part of the case, Google gave testimony in favour of the copyright owners, explaining how ripping content from YouTube violates its terms of service and discussing the technical measures it takes to try and stop it. The judge also cited that testimony in the ruling.
All of which means Yout.com is now blocked in Denmark.
Universal partners with Lego on new toy
Exactly how the major label's recordings will be used with the plastic blocks isn't clear. However, the two companies have said that a new range of toys is set for launch in 2021 that will "encourage and inspire the next generation of musicians, creatives and fans".
"Music plays an integral part in every child's life from the moment they are born and throughout their development" says UMG's Global Head Of New Business, Olivier Robert-Murphy. "Across the decades, children have continued to explore this passion via vinyl, radio, cassette, music videos, CDs and streaming. Now, through the partnership between the Lego Group and UMG, we will provide a new interactive way of inspiring the next generation of fans and creative visionaries".
Lego's CMO, Julia Goldin, adds: "We know music is a huge passion for so many children, it has an incredible ability to engage and unite children and their families, just like the Lego brick. This partnership will see us celebrate the power of merging music and the Lego system in play, providing children with a whole new way to creatively express themselves by bringing to life music in their own world, their own way".
So, as you see, that doesn't really tell us much. But elsewhere in Lego-y music things, last year the toy company announced plans to sell a playable grand piano set, based on an idea submitted by a member of the public.
Warner Chappell signs Dat Boi Squeeze
"The real game changer for me was being able to work with Roddy Ricch", says Dat Boi Squeeze of his career to date. "Now I'm excited to partner with ... the Warner Chappell fam to create more of these opportunities through their network of great artists, producers, and songwriters".
Warner Chappell's US President Of A&R, Ryan Press, adds: "Squeeze is an incredible rising talent with a gift for making unforgettable beats. His work on 'The Box' has paved the way for him to break through this year. This is such an important moment for Squeeze, and I know we're going to accomplish amazing things with him".
The producer is currently working with 30 Roc - his co-producer on 'The Box' - and Future, among others.
Universal releases range of facemasks for charity
Costing £15 each, net profits from sales of the masks in the UK will be donated to Help Musicians. All UMG staff are being offered free masks, and 50,000 will also be donated to people working in the community during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"I'm humbled and grateful to work with artists and partners who are passionate and driven to deliver a programme that supports those that need it most during this unprecedented time", says Bravado CEO Mat Vlasic. "This initiative will continue to grow and evolve thanks to the hard work from everyone here at Bravado and UMG along with our artists across the globe".
However, the merch firm is also keen to stress that facemasks are no panacea when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. A disclaimer on the website for the masks notes: "For the avoidance of doubt, the use of cloth face coverings does not protect you against COVID-19, and is not intended to replace recommended measures to stop the community spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing, washing your hands and refraining from touching your face".
Studies on this sort of thing are fairly contradictory at the moment, though, so why not take a punt? It's for charity, after all. All masks in the range are washable and reusable. Browse and buy here.
Radio 3 to air COVID-influenced Postcards From Composers
Daniel Kidane, Anna Clyne, Kuljit Bhamra, Raymond Yiu, Belle Chen and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood are among those contributing original compositions.
Each piece is being recording by a solo instrumentalist from one of the BBC's orchestras. Those recordings will start to air on the BBC's classical station from today under the banner 'Postcards From Composers', with videos of the performances also available.
The first five pieces to be aired will come from Chen, Yiu, Clyne, Greenwood and Bhamra, performed respectively on the marimba, french horn, cor anglais, cello and tabla.
Confirming the project, Radio 3 boss Alan Davey said: "With 'Postcards From Composers', we are showcasing and supporting the breadth and creativity of the contemporary British composing scene, at the same time giving our audiences a short daily moment of hope, as news comes in and lots of people in lockdown turn to classical music in search of relief".
Charli XCX says she would be "really struggling" without lockdown album project
"I'd be really, really struggling [without the project]", she tells the BBC. "I would just be lost if I wasn't doing this. And there are a lot of other creative people who can't work during this time - so, for me, doing this project is also a way to support some of those people, whether that be video editors, or the painters who are doing my artwork, or 3D designers, or video directors".
"I wanted to do the album in an intense period of time, because I thought it would be more fun for people watching, and also because there's more likely to be some kind of screw-up or error in a short amount of time, which is probably more interesting", she adds.
On how the project might affect her way of working once lockdown measures have been lifted, she says: "Part of me is like, 'I don't know why I haven't made an album like this before'. I'm enjoying not travelling and being still and focusing on my music. That's something I never did before. It was always one million things going on at once, and taking a day here and there to record. So I think that will change, because I love recording like this".
Not that it's all been plain sailing, she adds: "Recording my own vocals [has been the biggest problem]", she says. "I haven't done that since I was fifteen and making demos in my parents' house. I'm so slow and it drives me crazy. I literally want to throw something at myself".
Having launched the project earlier this month, Charli XCX has been posting regular updates on how things are going, discussing ideas with fans on Zoom chats, and has already put out two singles from the album, 'Claws' and 'Forever'. The finished record is set for release on 15 May.
Captain Tom goes to number one following Weeknd intervention - Stay Home Live Lounge on course for top spot this week
Initial chart data at the beginning of last week already had Captain Tom's track on course for the top spot. However, as the week went on, The Weeknd's 'Blinding Lights' overtook him.
With just hours to go, The Weekend tweeted: "Everyone in the UK please support [Captain Tom Moore and Michael Ball's] single so this incredible 99 year old war veteran, walking for the British National Health Service and now raised $35 Million can have a No 1 for his 100th birthday in the UK! We're routing for you".
This seems to have hit home, despite the headache-inducing grammar and length of that sentence. Don't even mention the spelling error at the end. I think the one thing we know from all of this is that Moore knows his way around his garden, no routing assistance needed.
Anyway, who knows if this was really what tipped the balance - the tweet did come very close to the wire - but it makes for a better story if we assume it did. In the end, Moore scored the equivalent of 82,000 single sales to The Weeknd's 69,000. He not only scooped the top spot, but also became the oldest person to ever have a number one single in the UK - beating previous record holder Tom Jones by more than 30 years.
"What wonderful news to receive today, a number one single and a record breaker too", says Moore. "My grandchildren can't believe I am a chart-topper!"
Presumably this was after he explained to them what the charts are. Anyway, he goes on: "I have to thank Michael Ball, the NHS Voices Of Care Choir and everyone behind the scenes, who shared their talents and expertise in order to raise money for the NHS, to whom we owe so much. And, of course, the public for buying the single and donating - we're in this together, and I am forever grateful for your support. And this just proves 'You'll Never Walk Alone'".
Ball adds: "This is the most extraordinary thing, one of the most proudest moments of my career, but it's not about me, it's about Captain Tom. Thank you for giving him a number one on his 100th birthday".
Commenting on all of this, Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot says: "It has been a roller coaster week, starting with a big initial lead for Captain Tom, before The Weeknd closed the gap yesterday to almost nothing - before a massive surge in the final day by Captain Tom. Huge thanks to The Weeknd for lending his support at the eleventh hour. But this is Captain Tom's week - congratulations sir and happy birthday for next week. You are a hero to us all".
Among the many changes we've seen during this health crisis is a real resurgence of the good old fashioned charity single. To that end, it's looking like Captain Tom will be knocked off the number one position this Friday by another one - the BBC's Stay Home Live Lounge recording of Foo Fighter's 'Times Like These'.
That track - featuring an array of stars, including Foo Fighter's Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins - is raising money for Comic Relief and Children In Need in the UK, and the WHO's COVID-19-Solidarity Response Fund for international income.
It managed to hit number five in the current chart, despite only coming out twelve hours before the cut off for Friday's countdown. Initial stats yesterday had the track in the number one spot on this week's upcoming chart, but again The Weeknd is close behind. It remains to be seen if he'll be willing to get his fans to back off for a second week in a row.