|WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: As debates continue as to quite how long the COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on the live entertainment sector, a new poll of American consumers from Reuters and Ipsos shows plenty of concern about attending large-scale events until a vaccine is found for the virus. Less than half of those surveyed said they planned to return to major sporting and entertainment events as soon as government restrictions are lifted... [READ MORE]|
Only 40% of American sport and music fans say they'll rush back to live events once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted
After it became clear that COVID-19 would have a significant effect on live entertainment for months rather than weeks, some started to speculate that maybe we should actually be talking about the consequences of the pandemic in terms of years. Of course, there are so many unknowns in relation to all things COVID-19 it's really hard to know, and all eyes remain on those countries that were hit by the pandemic first where enforced lockdown measures have already started to be lifted.
But even as governments around the world start to relax the rules that were put in place to restrict and delay the spread of COVID-19, will consumers readily return to sporting, music and other live events while there is a risk of the virus returning and still no vaccine available to protect people from contracting it?
That's the question Reuters and Ipsos asked nearly 4500 Americans earlier this month. And while that's a relatively small sample, the research suggests that the live entertainment business may have to deal with an annoyingly slow return to the norm.
Even among those respondents who would, in normal circumstances, routinely go to sporting, music or other live events, only around four in ten said that they planned to start attending such things as soon as government restrictions were lifted. Another 40% said that they were willing to wait for a vaccine to be developed that combats the coronavirus, even if - as expected - it could take more than a year for such a vaccine to be identified and tested.
In its report on the poll, Reuters also quotes an American academic who specialises in the sports business, Victor Matheson, who mused: "Just because people say we can go back, until people feel fully safe ... they aren't going to go back. We go to games for entertainment and you're not going to be very entertained if you're not worrying about who the next player to bat is and are instead worrying about that person who just coughed two rows down".
A number of organisations in the sports sector are considering resuming their competitions but having games and matches go ahead without an audience in the venue, instead relying on broadcast coverage and live streaming to get said events to the fans.
A similar move in music could see artists perform in empty venues with the show livestreamed, on the basis that that would still allow for a better experience than the current living room-based streamed performances, the success of which could be partly put down to novelty value.
Reuters asked the sports fans among its poll respondents about that plan. 59% of those surveyed said that they thought the streaming of crowd-free games and matches was a good idea, while a third disagreed.
Beyond that plan, some have proposed that venues could introduce social-distancing measures at events to allay the fears of audiences. Though that plan poses various questions. How easy would it be to enforce social distancing even at seated events? Are those events commercially viable if they are only able to operate at, say, 25% capacity? And would such measures even reassure those concerned about the chances of contracting the virus?
Of course, the Reuters/Ipsos poll was undertaken in the very epicentre of the pandemic where people are being constantly bombarded with doom and gloom messaging. Maybe once things start to return to something more like normal those who currently express reservations about attending large-scale events again until a vaccine is available may have a change of heart. But - as with all things COVID related - it really remains to be seen.
IMPALA launches proposals for music industry recovery post-COVID
Those proposals rely on specific economic and political support from the EU itself and each member state government.
IMPALA says that its ten-step plan has been "designed to sync with the EU's own recovery planning" with the aim of ensuring the recovery of "one of Europe's key industries, and one of the first and hardest hit by the current crisis: the cultural and creative sectors".
Many of the proposed measures would need to kick in next month, while others would come into effect later in the year.
The ten steps are as follows...
"Coming out of the crisis will be challenging, and at the same time it is an opportunity for growth", she went on. "The key is putting the right financial and non-financial tools in place to promote investment in creativity. Our roadmap is about acting now to build a recovery plan for the next five years and beyond".
Meanwhile IMPALA Chair Francesca Trainini, who has also been heading up IMPALA's specific COVID-19 taskforce, added: "The contribution of music and culture to Europeans' wellbeing is huge, on top of our economic value. This is why we need a long-term strategy and it's time for the EU and member states to put in place ambitious sector specific plans focussed on recovery".
ICE launches new self-service licensing tool for smaller digital music services
The aim is to "simplify life for those developing new music services" and to "increase the speed new services can be brought to market".
ICE is the digital licensing hub owned by collecting societies PRS, STIM and GEMA. It has three main areas of operation: connecting the databases of song right collecting societies; processing digital royalties for societies and publishers each month; and negotiating multi-territory licensing deals with streaming services on behalf of multiple song repertoires.
It's in the latter domain that Licensr sits, with digital services that have under 250,000 euros a year in revenue the target for the new service. The licence provided by Licensr cover songs from what the copyright hub called the ICE Core repertoire, which includes works from participating collecting societies like PRS, STIM, GEMA and IMRO, as well as some of the music publishers that work with ICE on digital licensing.
Launching the new service, ICE's VP Commercial Ben McEwen said: "Licensr is a simple self-service solution to enable new and developing music services to license ICE Core repertoire. It starts to bring greater simplicity and flexibility to those with ideas for new services that utilise music but are daunted by the complexity of licensing and we are keen to collect feedback to further enhance the solution over time".
"In the meantime", he went on, "it immediately adds another income source for creators as we continue to seek to ensure rightsholders in the ICE Core receive fair value for the use of their work".
The first client of the new product is a service called Exit Live which offers fans audio recordings of concerts. Its CEO, Pascal De Mul, added: "Simple licensing is essential to helping services like us innovate and focus on our core proposition, which for Exit Live is helping artists monetise live performances both at the time and historically. Licensr has been by far the easiest rights process we've had".
Universal Music Publishing launches new online hub for film, TV and ad clients
Called UMPG Music Solutions, the publisher describes the new hub as "a single point of access in each local market to [our] worldwide network of songwriters, composers, producers and sync resources - including [our] sync division, production music division and bespoke composition offerings - as well as those of select partners"
"By bringing together the best in music sync services and repertoires", the publisher adds, "UMPG Music Solutions simplifies the music search experience that enables clients to discover and connect with the best music creators for each project's needs".
Launching the new service, UMPG's SVP for Advertising, Film & TV, Tom Eaton, said: "With UMPG Music Solutions we are highlighting the fact that our capabilities extend far beyond commercial music licensing. By harnessing the talents of our world-class roster, as well as our creative partners, UMPG continues to go above and beyond in providing the best results for all of our clients' needs".
Spotify adds playlists to bananas
Spotify has announced a new partnership with banana company Chiquita to put its QR code-like images onto stickers attached to the fruit. Starting in the US this week, you will be able to scan bananas with your Spotify app to launch one of five Chiquita-inspired playlists as well as five new remixes of the company's original 1950s advertising jingle.
In addition to those promotional stickers - which will use Chiquita's usual blue colour - there's also an extra special 'golden banana' sticker, which, when scanned, will give you access to a variety of music-related games and the opportunity to win prizes. Prizes!
Of course, banana stickers being quite small, there's not really space on there to explain any of this, so this whole promotion relies on people knowing what the scannable codes are and how to scan them. All of which seems like a bit of a stretch. But, hey, someone at Chiquita will have got to talk about music for a bit in a marketing meeting and someone more senior will have been impressed. So that's nice for them.
Eventually in these situations, enough senior people are impressed that one of them gets to say something about it publicly. So here's Chiquita President Carlos Lopez Flores: "The Spotify Blue Sticker series is intended to encourage those staying at home to join in a worldwide celebration of cheerful music and connect with playlists designed to get fans up and moving".
"By tapping into Spotify's 248 million active monthly users", he adds, "Chiquita is continuing its mission of highlighting the fun side of healthy living by offering an opportunity to get active and boost fans' moods during a challenging global situation".
Sure. Also, in case you were wondering, the press release for all this does indeed use the phrase "go bananas".
Bauer Media to mark VE Day with Absolute Radio 40s
Yes, Absolute Radio 40s is incoming everybody! Get ready for back-to-back Billie Holliday, Judy Garland, Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Gracie Fields, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, The Andrews Sisters and of course Vera Lynn.
Though don't get too excited. This is actually one of those temporary pop-up radio stations designed to accompany a specific event, in this case the 75th anniversary of VE Day, ie the end of the Second World War in Europe.
That, by the way, is Friday 8 May. Which is worth everyone noting, not least because the UK has shifted the bank holiday you might be expecting on the first Monday of May to that Friday, so that people can stay at home and formally mark the occasion. That decision was made before staying at home was the norm, of course.
Anyway, Absolute Radio 40s! It will air for 24 hours on 8 May - on 1215AM nationwide, on DAB in London and online - mixing 1940s music with special news bulletins charting the events of 8 May 1945.
Says Absolute Radio Content Director Paul Sylvester: "The 75th anniversary of VE Day is a momentous event in our history and it's tragic that celebrations have had to be rightly curtailed because of the coronavirus".
"The incredible music and compelling stories you'll hear on Absolute Radio 40s will bring comfort and entertainment to those older listeners in self-isolation and remind the rest of us of the importance of this day", he goes on. "Taking the Absolute Radio decade strategy and creating this unique pop-up station for 24 hours is the simplest way that we can pay our own very small tribute".
COVID-19 SUPPORT INTIATIVES
Loud And Quiet has released further details about its previously announced subscriptions plan. And the music magazine has made clear that, if there is not enough take up for the £50 a year subscription package, it will close. Read the full statement here.
Devin Townsend has announced that his livestreamed show last weekend raised £65,000 for the NHS. You can watch the show here and buy tickets for upcoming performances in aid of other healthcare workers here.
Collecting society PRS For Music has announced that it has now raised more than £2 million for its Emergency Relief Fund, set up to support members during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far it has paid out over £1 million to around 3000 artists. "Our members are under threat as many parts of the music scene grind to a halt", says CEO Andrea C Martin. "They need to eat, support their families and pay rent - without industry support the future is challenging during this terrible time. Together we can get through this".
Warner Music has hired Chris Gobalakrishna as its new SVP Finance & Operations in Asia. He has previously worked for both BMG and Sony Music, and was most recently CFO at travel company WorldVentures. "I'm delighted to get back into the music industry and join the most exciting music company in Asia", he says, apparently confused about what company he's now working for. Only joking Team Warner! I'm sure the excitement is constant and gleeful.
Indie label digital rights agency Merlin has promoted Chief Commercial Officer Charlie Lexton to Chief Operating Officer. Lexton has worked at Merlin since it was originally founded. "His promotion to COO ensures he remains central to our future", says CEO Jeremy Sirota.
Mykki Blanco has released new single 'You Will Find It'. The track features Devendra Banhart and was produced by FaltyDL. So that's quite a team.
Yungblud has released the video for new single 'Weird!' "Right now, everybody is trapped within four walls trying to figure out what the fuck is going on", he says. "Currently, I'm trapped in LA with my best friends. We made this [video] for $100 and this might be my favourite video we've ever made. I think you can see the happiness from it coming out of the screen".
Hinds have released new single 'Just Like Kids (Miau)'. The song "is a cocktail of all the comments and 'advice' we've had to listen to during all the years in the band", they say. "From random strangers, 'friends', and industry. Oh wait... the guy sitting next to you in the bus probably has an opinion too! If you wondered how does it feel to be a girl in a band, here you go".
Protomartyr have released new single 'Worm In Heaven'. So that's the good news. The bad news is that they've postponed the release of their new album to 17 Jul. Although in July that'll seem like good news, so it's all fine.
The Soft Pink Truth has released the video for recent single 'We'. His new album, 'Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?', is out on 1 May.
Kate NV has released new single 'Marafon 15'. Her new album, 'Room For The Moon', is out on 12 Jun.
Ama has released the video for 'Hour We On' from recent EP 'Pixelheart'.
We've kind of got used to things being cancelled recently, but here's a thing in 2020 that's still happening. The Mercury Prize has announced that it will unveil this year's shortlist on 23 Jul. The overall winner then may or may not be announced at the Hammersmith Apollo on 10 Sep. Right now though, entries are still needed. For more info on submissions email email@example.com
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
US government officially releases 'UFO' videos originally leaked by Tom DeLonge's To The Stars Academy
The three videos were filmed by US Navy pilots in 2004 and 2015, apparently showing other unidentified aircraft seemingly flying in a manner not possible for any known military technology. After it launched in 2017, making these videos public in two batches were two of the earliest actions of the To The Stars Academy.
Following continued questions about the footage, the US Navy confirmed last year that the videos were genuine. And US Department Of Defense HQ the Pentagon has now officially made public all three videos - titled 'FLIR', 'GOFAST', and 'GIMBAL'.
"After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorised release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena", the Pentagon says a statement.
"DOD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos. The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterised as 'unidentified'".
On Twitter, DeLonge said: "With today's events and articles on my and [To The Stars Academy's] efforts to get the US government to start the grand conversation, I want to thank every shareholder at To The Stars for believing in us. Next, we plan on pursuing the technology, finding more answers and telling the stories".
In a further statement, the To The Stars Academy's Director Of Government Programs & Services, Luis Elizondo - who previously headed up the Pentagon's internal UFO research programme - said: "In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that governments speak the truth to their citizens, as it is the most important pillar of a democracy".
"We commend the leadership at the Department Of Defense for sharing the truth and TTSA is optimistic that they will continue to share more information transparently as it becomes publicly available".
"At To The Stars Academy, we do not fear scepticism and will continually work to decrease doubt around the topic of the existence of UAPs", he continues, that being 'Unidentified Aerial Phenomena', in case you wondered. Only losers say UFO.
"We are fuelled by the Pentagon's significant actions and hope this encourages a new wave of credible information to come forward. We acknowledge and stand by those who have the courage to always speak the truth, no matter how difficult or complex the issue is".
So everyone's excited. Although I'm still not sure how anything's different now.