|WEDNESDAY 13 MAY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK's Association Of Independent Festivals has said that as many as 92% of the festival companies in its membership could go out of business as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown without "meaningful action" by government to protect them... [READ MORE]|
As many as 92% of independent festivals could go out of business this summer without government action, says AIF
The economics of festival promotion are tricky at the best of times, of course, and profit margins are usually very tight. Any sudden shock to the system can cause festivals to collapse, and the entire 2020 summer festival season being cancelled - as it looks increasingly likely that it will be - is one hell of a shock to the system.
Predicting that at least 90% of UK festivals will not go ahead this year, the AIF says that the sector at large is facing having to pay out refunds of up to £800 million. Its members, it adds, have - on average - unrecoupable costs of £375,000, with 98.5% not covered for a COVID-19-related cancellation by their insurance. Those festivals that do survive expect to have to make 59% of their staff redundant after September this year.
These challenges are exacerbated by the fact that many festival companies are currently "falling between the cracks" of government financial support schemes.
"While the government has been receptive to AIF's counsel, it has not taken meaningful action to protect our sector", says AIF CEO Paul Reed. "Single event festival companies are seasonal businesses. They need urgent support now and ongoing support after lockdown ends and restrictions are eased".
For his members, he adds, the COVID-19 shutdown "is not a temporary shutdown of business, it is an entire year of income and trade wiped out. If support is not offered throughout the autumn, then the sector will face widespread job losses that will seriously inhibit its ability to deliver events in 2021".
"There is no safety net for independent festivals, many of which have fallen between the cracks of current government support measures such as loans and grants", he goes on. "For example, 0% of AIF members have been able to successfully access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme".
The loss of many - potentially most - independent music festivals would obviously be hugely damaging for the music industry and the UK economy at large.
Reed states: "UK festivals are not only an intrinsic, defining part of British culture but also an economic powerhouse that generates hundreds of millions for the economy - we urge government to recognise them as such".
He concludes: "Next year's festival season will hopefully offer much needed relief after a very difficult time for the country. But, for now, these independent businesses need to survive. Otherwise, every year from now could be a fallow year for independent festivals, for the emerging artists they provide a platform for, and the local economies across the UK that they generate income for".
AIF is calling on the UK government to make a distinction between 'retail' and 'seasonal' businesses in its support schemes. As part of this, it wants the existing furloughing and self-employment support schemes extended for festival businesses until the festival industry can get to the planning and sales stage of 2021 events.
It also calls on government to recommend that local authorities automatically rollover to 2021 any event licences issued this year to festivals that were then cancelled as a result of COVID-19 and to instigate a VAT holiday on ticket sales for eighteen months.
It also wants "clear guidance and timelines" on when large-scale events will be able to operate again, assuming that festivals could be one of the last categories of businesses to no longer be subject to COVID-19 shutdown restrictions.
The UK Live Music Group, of which AIF is a member, has also called for specific government action to support its sector. Citing various stats from the live industry - including some of the AIF stats - it said that thousands of jobs could be lost and £900 million in economic value wiped out if bespoke measures are not put in place by government to support venues and promoters.
Meanwhile UK Music - of which the UK Live Music Group is a member - has requested that the government pull together a specific music industry taskforce to assess the specific challenges faced by music businesses and to consider ways that those businesses can be supported as they navigate the COVID-19 shutdown and the painfully slow return to normal.
Apple sued over Amazing Stories sync
The lawsuit relates to the revival of the US television series 'Amazing Stories' which debuted on Apple's video-on-demand platform earlier this year. Darrell Jackson and his company JED Productions claim that the second episode in that series, called 'The Heat', uses a track owned by his company without permission.
The episode, according to Jackson's lawsuit, "tells a story of young people in Oakland", the Californian city on the east side of San Francisco Bay where JED Productions is based. One scene depicts a sideshow and is soundtracked by a song called, well, 'Side Show'. That track comes from a 1989 album called '41Fivin' by an Oakland-based hip hop outfit called 415, and Jackson claims his company owns both the song and recording rights in it.
In case you don't know, the lawsuit provides a handy definition of what is meant by 'sideshow' in this context, courtesy of Wikipedia: "A sideshow is an informal demonstration of automotive stunts now often held in vacant lots, and public intersections, most often in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, United States. Sideshows first appeared in Oakland, California as informal social gatherings of youth".
'Side Show' the song, the lawsuit notes, "had specific relevance to Oakland and the East Bay's youth scene" at the time it was released back in 1989 and, it adds, "as made clear from defendants' use of the song in 'Amazing Stories', still does".
So how did Apple and the production company behind 'Amazing Stories' - NBC Universal - come to make use of 'Side Show' without getting the required licences? Well, that probably has something to do with Nakamiche Muzic Publishing, also listed as a defendant on the lawsuit.
Jackson states: "Beginning sometime after plaintiff registered the copyrights in 'Side Show' [with the US Copyright Office] and continuing thereafter, the Nakamiche defendants falsely represented and continue to falsely represent that they own the copyright in the composition and the sound recording of 'Side Show', including by ... falsely and publicly registering the composition as their own with [US collecting society] ASCAP".
And that includes falsely representing themselves as the owner of the 'Side Show' copyrights to possible sync clients like, say, NBC Universal and Apple, to whom it "fraudulently licensed" the track, Jackson alleges.
Although the real beef here is with Nakamiche Muzic Publishing, the lawsuit sues that company for contributory copyright infringement but NBC Universal and Apple for direct infringement.
It notes that JED Productions has provided the latter firms with "proof of the registration for 'Side Show' and has demanded that they cease and desist from continuing to infringe plaintiff's copyrights. These defendants, however, continue to use 'Side Show' in 'The Heat'".
That means the legal battle with Apple is no mere, well, sideshow to the legal battle between JED and Nakamiche.
Although the latter does face a bigger list of allegations, Jackson accusing the Nakamiche company of slander of title, intentional interference with prospective economic relations, false designation of origin and defamation, as well as the contributory copyright infringement claim.
We now await responses from all the defendants.
Entertainment law firm confirms hackers have stolen 756GB of emails and contracts
It's thought as much as 756 gigabytes of data was grabbed by hackers from the servers of Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, including personal correspondence with and contracts involving the firm's celebrity clients.
The hackers are now seeking to extort money out of the lawyers under the threat that they will leak all that data if payment is not received. Said hackers were seemingly also behind another recent data-grab extortion scam involving foreign exchange company Travelex.
Amid reports that the FBI is now on the case, PageSix cites one source as saying: "The hackers got into the system while everyone was focused on the coronavirus. We assume, but there is no confirmation, that the hackers are Eastern European. They are demanding a $21 million ransom [but] the firm is not negotiating with them".
Meanwhile, the law firm said in a statement: "We can confirm that we've been victimised by a cyberattack. We have notified our clients and our staff. We have hired the world's experts who specialise in this area and we are working around the clock to address these matters".
According to PageSix, when asked how the firm's clients were responding to the news, a spokesperson pointed to a number of other high profile companies whose servers have been hacked in recent times and then added "clients have expressed overwhelming support as they understand the firm is the latest high-profile victim of this global extortion scheme".
Reading and Leeds the latest festivals to cancel, refunds and ticket transfers offered
Live Nation-owned Festival Republic confirmed yesterday that both the Reading Festival and the Leeds Festival "will no longer be taking place this year".
It added: "We've been closely monitoring this unprecedented situation and we were hopeful we could deliver the ultimate festival to you in August, something to look forward to in these strange and confusing times. However, it has become clear that it's just not possible for this year's festival to go ahead".
"We want to extend our gratitude to our teams, artists and partners who work so hard each year", the statement continued. "And to our fans, we're nothing without you - we thank you for your continued support and understanding".
Festival Republic added that its ticketing providers would be in touch with ticketholders to arrange either a refund or for their ticket to be transferred to 2021 editions. "We're already counting down the days to when we're back in the fields we call home for the August Bank holiday weekend", it said. "We promise you that Reading/Leeds 2021 will be worth the wait".
Helen Thomas named BBC Radio 2's new Head Of Station
"Whilst there were many impressive candidates, Helen demonstrated a fresh and clear vision for taking Radio 2 to the next level", says Clarke. "I'm looking forward to working with her in this new role".
Thomas herself adds: "I'm THRILLED to take on this new role as Radio 2 is the greatest radio station in the world bar none. To be able to seamlessly commemorate VE Day one week and then celebrate Eurovision the next is testament to the skill and talent of our dedicated and passionate presenters as well as our world class production teams - they are the very best in the business".
"The way the audience has responded to their extraordinary efforts over the last few months has proved what a deep connection people right across the UK have with the station", she goes on. "It's an honour and a privilege to lead Radio 2 through its next exciting chapter".
Smith has already held a number of roles at Radio 2 and BBC Radio more widely. She began her career working in news for 5 Live, Radio 4 and Radio 1, before working on music programming for the World Service and then producing Radio 4's 'Front Row'.
She moved to Radio 2 in 2003, where she produced Johnnie Walker's drivetime show, followed by Chris Evans' show in the same slot and then his breakfast show. More recently, she worked as the station's Network Editor and, since 2018, has been its Head Of Content Commissioning.
In March this year, Lorna Clarke announced a rejig of the way the BBC's pop stations are run, creating new Head Of Station roles at Radio 1, Radio 2, 1Xtra, 6 Music and the Asian Network.
That move followed some big departures at the top of the BBC's music stations. Radio 1 and 1Xtra Controller Ben Cooper announced he was leaving last October. Then in February, Radio 2's de-facto chief Lewis Carnie confirmed his departure too.
The rejig means that each of the pop-centric stations will have a similar leadership structure. Various previous revamps at the Beeb meant there were inconsistencies between the stations, with Cooper being more senior than his counterparts at Radio 2 and 6 Music.
The search for new heads of Radio 1, 6 Music, Radio 1Xtra and the Asian Network is ongoing.
Nordoff Robbins cancels 2020 Silver Clef Awards
Launched in 1976, the annual fundraising event for the music therapy charity has taken place every year since then, becoming the key event in the organisation's calendar.
Explaining the difficulty in making the decision to pull the ceremony, Nordoff Robbins CEO Sandra Schembri points out that the awards event is the charity's biggest annual fundraiser and - with the organisation receiving no government funding for its work - such fundraising is vital.
Meanwhile, she adds, "our music therapy [work] has never been needed more and we want to be able to continue supporting those most vulnerable members of our communities now as well as for years to come".
With this and most of its other fundraising activity this year cancelled, the charity expects to see its income fall by 75% in 2020 - a shortfall of £6 million.
Chair of the O2 Silver Clef Awards Committee, CAA's Emma Banks, adds: "The decision not to go ahead with the awards this year, although the right one, has still been tough for all involved. The music industry has long supported Nordoff Robbins because what better charity to get behind than one which uses music to bring so much joy, comfort and hope to people experiencing so many different challenges in life?"
"We're determined to continue to support its fantastic work", she added, "and we'll work hard to continue to support the charity through these tough times".
Kicking off that support, record industry collecting society PPL has donated what would have been its sponsorship fee for this year's event to the charity instead of seeking a refund.
The next edition of the awards ceremony is now scheduled for 2 Jul 2021 at Grosvenor House in London.
Sony/ATV has signed DJ KiD to a worldwide co-publishing agreement. "I'm beyond excited to jump head first into this partnership with Sony/ATV", he says. "I look forward to learning the business behind production and expanding my global reach".
Universal Music Publishing has signed the TikTok-popular duo Surfaces to a worldwide co-publishing deal. "We are excited to work closely and creatively with Colin [Padalecki] and Forrest [Frank] on what will be a long and successful career for Surfaces", says the company's co-head of A&R David Gray. "Their positive outlook, both personally and musically, is a much-needed breath of fresh air for pop music".
The UK's Featured Artist Coalition has announced that it is receiving new support from Johnny Marr and Paloma Faith. It has also announced fifteen new artist ambassadors: Skunk Anansie's Skin, Nova Twins, B Traits, Mr Fingers, Sophia Saze, Esa, Anastasia Kristensen, Pengshui, Anna Meredith, Stiff Little Fingers' Jake Burns, Primal Scream's Simone Marie Butler, The Anchoress, Tawiah, Afrodeutsche and Children Of Zeus. "I'm delighted to welcome these incredible artists to the FAC family", says GM David Martin. "Right now, perhaps more than ever, people are recognising the value of music".
Universal Music Publishing has appointed Joe Fang as its first ever Managing Director for China. "Since I've taken the job, I've seen so much excitement in the eyes of local musicians and songwriters after they really understood what a true music publisher can do for them", says Fang. "China needs UMPG, just as UMPG needs China".
Universal Music has appointed Enzo Valdez as Managing Director of its Philippines division. "My life and career so far has always been built around music and helping artists, so I am delighted to being able to continue doing this on a larger scale", says Valdez. He joins from his own Sindikato Group.
As announced by Amazon's Alexa, Katy Perry will release her new album, 'KP5', on 14 Aug.
Run The Jewels have announced that they will release their new album 'RTJ4' on 5 Jun.
Nicole Atkins has released new single 'Mind Eraser', co-written with My Morning Jacket's Carl Broemel. Her new album, 'Italian Ice', is out on 29 May.
Biig Piig has released new single 'Switch'. The song, she says, is "about the tension, helplessness and pressure that the world is under right now. The beat and lyrics to me represents the fast pace of how the world is falling apart, and the anxious undertone of it all".
Katie Von Schleicher has released new single 'Brutality'. Her new album, 'Consummation', is out on 22 May.
Mr Ben And The Bens have released new track 'On The Beach'. New album 'Life Drawing' is out on 7 Oct.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Sony Music launches online album cover colouring book
The major label has made a variety of album covers from its catalogue - including Foo Fighters' 'In Your Honour', Carole King's 'Tapestry' and Little Mix's 'DNA' - available in a colouring book style. You can download and print them off and then, on a break from home-schooling your children, grab the crayons out of their tiny hands and get to work.
Alternatively, you can do some online colouring, selecting colours from a palette and then using your mouse to fill the gaps as you wish - downloading a PDF of your work when you've finished to stick on the fridge. This way of doing it is incredibly frustrating though - with tiny gaps hard to get to and no undo option when you invariably colour a different area by accident - so I can't imagine they actually intend for anyone to do it this way.
There are all sorts of theories about the positive effect doing a little bit of colouring can have on your mental health and stress levels. So, by giving these templates away for free, Sony is keen to help you stay upbeat during lockdown.
Presumably the company is also hoping that you'll listen to the albums as you colour, thus bumping up its share of streaming revenues (Spotify players have been handily embedded on each template page). But I'm sure that's secondary to you just having a nice time.
"We're lucky to have a selection of some of the most beautiful, striking and creative album artwork of all time at our fingertips", says Heidi Boston-Thompson, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Sony Music UK.
"We wanted to give our artists' audiences the chance to take a moment out, explore their own creativity, drive focus and ultimately aid relaxation" she adds. "By pairing music with the simple exercise of colouring in, we hope to create a mindful environment and a sense of calm for the audience".
See? Nice times all round. Other artists with album covers available for some champion colouring in include Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Jamiroquai, George Ezra and Judas Priest. More are set to be added over time. Check them out here.
Sony has also created a trailer to explain the concept of colouring, if you're unsure what all this is about.