|WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: UK Music yesterday told the government that the music industry risks being treated like a "forgotten relative" as the economy slowly returns to normal after the COVID-19 shutdown but live music remains without any timeline for re-opening... [READ MORE]|
With relaxed social distancing rules not helping live music, UK live industry again calls for extra government support
The comments came as ministers confirmed they were amending COVID-19 social distancing rules in England in order to allow bars and restaurants to re-open on 4 Jul, albeit with some restrictions still in place. The rule that people should be able to stay at least two metres apart at all times has been amended to one metre, though with the add-on that ideally people should be further apart than that. That's a key change that will allow some - though not all - in the hospitality sector to start trading again in a commercially viable way.
Somewhat bizarrely, the official list of businesses that will be able to re-open next month also included "theatres and concert halls". Though there was an extra restriction for those businesses: no live performances. Which basically means theatres and concert halls cannot re-open on 4 Jul. Meanwhile nightclubs are still on the government's 'can't open' list.
That the live music and clubbing sectors won't be among the businesses able to re-open on 4 Jul is not a surprise, pretty much from the start of the COVID-19 crisis it's been clear that these sectors will be among the last to get back to normal.
However, the music industry - and other similarly affected sectors like theatre - fear that, as the narrative in political circles becomes "things are back to normal", the general COVID-19 financial support packages will wind down while music venues and theatres are still closed.
Of course, no one is suggesting that venues should re-open until it is safe to do so. But it's crucial that ministers and public health officials are working with the relevant sectors to consider every option for getting things back up and running again in a safe way, and keeping everyone in the loop on what might happen when.
And while that is happening, the music and theatre sectors argue, sector-specific financial support will be required to keep venues, promoters, producers and other live event service providers functioning in the extra months it takes for their businesses to resume.
The Music Venue Trust says grassroots venues need a £50 million cash injection to ensure their survival over the summer, and has also proposed a VAT holiday for all live music companies once things do re-open.
The acting CEO of cross sector trade group UK Music, Tom Kiehl, said yesterday: "While it's welcome news that social distancing guidelines are being eased for other sectors, many parts of the music industry are still urgently awaiting clarity from the government".
"Thousands of people who work in the music industry, which generates £5.2 billion a year for the UK economy, are struggling to survive and many businesses will go to the wall unless we get the vital support needed to get the music business back on its feet", he went on. "There is a real risk that music will be left swinging in the wind unless the government moves quickly to agree a detailed plan with the sector to re-open".
"We cannot afford for music - which is so culturally, socially and economically important - to be treated like some kind of forgotten relative while so many other sectors are being given a blueprint for them to emerge from lockdown. With much of the financial support from the government tapering to an end over the next few weeks, the music industry urgently needs to know what financial help will be available to support businesses ... while they remain closed".
Going into specifics, he added: "Live music needs VAT relief on future ticket sales which would amount to a lifeline worth up to £300 million to the sector over a twelve month period".
"If the UK government does not provide swift and well-targeted support to the music sector", he concluded, "we will see venues close for good, thousands of job losses, as well as the loss of irreplaceable musical talent and technical skills - even if the industry is able to return to economic viability. The absence of live music has left a huge hole in the lives of millions of music lovers and temporarily deprived tens of thousands of people of the livelihoods. We need to move towards a place where we can once again let the music play".
The Night Time Industries Association has also called for more clarity and support from government. Although some of its members - ie bars and restaurants - may well be able to re-open on 4 Jul, it criticised the short notice provided by government of the rule changes, while also pointing out that the venues and clubs in its membership, as well as some of those on the hospitality side too, still face major challenges.
CEO Michael Kill said: "Today's announcements are to be welcomed as they will help many businesses start to recover from lockdown. But the ten day build up period to 4 Jul will be costly and hard to meet for many businesses and we need to see the details of the guidance and protocols associated with today's news".
"And it's important to remember", he went on, "that whilst this is the 'green light' for some venues to re-open, many of them will struggle to be profitable even with the social distancing mandate reduced to one metre. [And] for many of our members, including nightclubs, casinos and some pubs, restaurants and bars that can't meet the one metre social distancing obligations, the nightmare of enforced closure goes on".
With that in mind, Kill concluded: "This reinforces our urgent call for the government to commit to further immediate financial support for our sector. These excluded venues play a vital part in the cultural and civic life of our communities the length and breadth of the country. Businesses operating in the nighttime economy have needs distinct from those operating in more general hospitality and it would be unforgivable if those needs are not taken into account by government".
Saban Music partners with Universal Music Publishing
"I am THRILLED about this new venture", says Haim Saban, CEO of the Saban Capital Group, who launched the music venture last year with a $500 million investment. "Innovation requires collaboration, and this partnership amplifies our chances for success on a global scale".
Universal Music Publishing CEO Jody Gerson adds: "We are excited to be partnering with Haim Saban, [SMG CEO] Gustavo Lopez and Saban Music to create opportunities for their artists and songwriters. I am confident that we will have outstanding success together".
The Saban Music Group is already operating in management, touring, publishing and recordings, and already has another Universal alliance in the latter domain. Since launching last summer, the company has begun working with Static & El Ben and Mergui in Israel, Marie Monti in France, Chesca in Puerto Rico, and Raykon in Colobia, among others.
RightsHub announces integration with six music recognition technology firms Rights management platform RightsHub has announced integration with a number of music recognition technology companies to make it easier for artists and labels to log new recordings and accompanying metadata with these firms as quickly as possible.
There are now a number of music recognition technologies in the marketplace. And while YouTube's Content ID and the now Apple-owned Shazam are possibly the best known, a number of other systems play an increasingly important role in the music industry.
Collecting societies in particular are starting to use such systems to monitor and record music usage on air, online and in venues to allow faster and more accurate distribution of the royalties they collect. Others companies variously use them to monitor usage and payments, monetise or block user-generated content, and to simply connect important meta-data to recordings.
With the increased use of such music recognition technologies, RightsHub says that its important that rights owners take responsibility for ensuring each new recording and all the accompanying meta-data is pushed into all the right databases as quickly as possible. It can now help with that process thanks to its integrations with DJ Monitor, Gracenote, BMAT, Soundmouse, Yacast and Jaxsta.
Joel Stoner, the CEO of DJ Monitor, which UK societies PRS and PPL have worked with on putting music recognition technology into club venues, says: "The better the quality of metadata attached, the greater the chance that usages of works/recordings can be identified and matched to the correct rights holders by the [collecting societies]. By submitting content to DJ Monitor through RightsHub, rights holders' content will be registered at a high-trust level. High-trust level data ensures acceptance by [societies], ensuring exploitation is accurately reported and revenues flow correctly".
RightsHub CEO Lee Morrison adds: "It's vital that rights holders take responsibility for registering their rights with music recognition companies in the same way as they do with their distributors and [societies]. With the correct data, revenue can flow to the rightsholder as it should. We have to give the MRT companies the data as early as possible into the promotional cycle so that performance can be identified".
"By offering this service for free to clients we hope rights holders will earn more revenue in the long term", he goes on. "In the past, this has not been possible for rights holders directly, due to them not having the technical capability. With RightsHub, data can be delivered to all B2B partners at the touch of a button, reducing the need for multiple manual data delivery points".
Live Nation backtracks on controversial artist agreement memo
That memo - which focused on festivals - made various proposals for changes to artist agreements once the live industry returns post-COVID, many of which proved controversial once the document leaked. Among said proposals was a 20% cut in fees across the board, and various changes to cancellation policies that would increase the risk of artists, especially if a second spike of COVID-19 caused another round of shows to be called off.
Speaking to US live industry trade magazine Pollstar, Attal - whose Live Nation division runs the various editions of Lollapalooza and other festivals in the US and elsewhere - said that the memo was only meant to be a starting point for discussions. He added that changes had already been made based on the massive amount of negative feedback received.
One of those changes is the removal entirely of a demand that particularly stood out among the cancellations section: that artists would have to pay the promoter 200% of their fee if they cancelled without good reason. "In retrospect, [that] should not have been in there", he conceded.
He also said that, while guarantees may be lower next year, "clawback" clauses in agreements would see artists paid the same as in 2019 if 2021 festivals are successful. Which, he insists, they will be. "All indicators I see are moving in a really strong direction", he reckons, adding that sales of those 2021 festival tickets that are already available are "very strong".
"Live Nation will always be the artist-friendly company", he adds. "First and foremost, our job is to work for the artists, to branch into new territories, bring new business development to up-and-coming acts, and showcases for headliners to perform for huge, diverse audiences and develop new fans. These [festivals] take years to develop, and that's our job. We are here to work for the artist. That's it. We've been doing this for years, and it would be impossible without our great relationships with the artists".
More specifically on that memo, he goes on: "Our relations and negotiations can never be boiled down to one, single one-way document, that's not reality. We've gotten a lot of feedback from the artists. We've heard them loud and clear, we've revised it, we've gotten through it with them, and we're already booking shows, with confirmed acts for 2021".
Listen to more discussion about Live Nation's memo, and what it tells us about the challenges facing the live music industry as it moves beyond the COVID-19 shutdown, here.
Planet Rock magazine to close, Q could survive under new ownership
The media company confirmed last month that it was reviewing the future of ten of the titles in its magazine portfolio. Of those ten, three will close, one will go digital only, one will merge with another title, while the other five are all subject to sale talks.
Making money from magazines has become increasingly challenging over the years of course, with print sales pretty much in decline across the board, and plenty of challenges on the online side where Google and Facebook are major competitors for advertising income. Meanwhile, to date, only really business titles and broadsheet newspapers have made any progress when it comes to online subscriptions.
The impact of COVID-19 on ad sales and the distribution of print titles through the high street has only increased all those challenges in recent months.
Of the two music magazines that were part of Bauer's review, it's the relatively young Planet Rock magazine that will go. It was launched in 2017 as a magazine spin-off of the Bauer-owned radio station of the same name.
Given Planet Rock magazine was newer and less well-known, when Bauer announced its magazine review last month much more attention in the music community was given to the future of Q, it being one of the UK's classic music monthlies. In its statement yesterday Bauer said that it was now "in advanced stages" in talks to sell the title, allowing it to continue to publish under new ownership.
It's not known if that possible buyer is another media group. As an increasing number of music magazines start to look to subscriptions and donations from their core online audience as a primary business model, being in independent ownership becomes a strength, as readers are more assured that any monies they pledge are going to the journalists rather than corporate owners.
Commenting on the outcome of its portfolio review, Bauer's CEO of UK publishing, Chris Duncan, said: "In order to protect the long-term health of our publishing business we have had to make tough decisions about the future of some much-loved titles. While some magazines sadly will close, we remain hopeful that a number will continue to publish under new ownership. We remain fully committed and positive about the strength of our remaining portfolio".
The other Bauer magazines to close are Simply You and Practical Photography. Mother & Baby will become online only and Golf World will merge with another golfing magazine owned by the media firm. The other four titles up for sale are Car Mechanics, Modern Classics, Your Horse and Sea Angler.
Oram Awards opens nominations to the public for the first time
"Our ambition was always to find people outside of the usual channels", says Matthew Herbert, Director of The New Radiophonic Workshop, which presents the awards alongside the PRS Foundation. "I'm excited that we can hopefully help find and support musicians and artists outside of the more conventional structures".
Becci Scotcher, Senior Grants & Programmes Manager of PRS Foundation, ****adds: "We're incredibly excited to be announcing the fourth year of the Oram Awards and, for the very first time, encouraging eligible music creators to apply directly for consideration. We're looking forward to seeing who will apply over the coming weeks and hearing the work of exceptional and innovative music creators pushing the boundaries of music and sound in the UK right now".
The awards are open to women, girls and gender minorities of all ages from eleven upwards in the UK, who are - as noted - innovating in sound, music and associated technologies. Applications are open until 31 Jul and the winners will be announced on 1 Nov.
Two winners will receive bursaries of £1500, while four more will receive £500. Find out more here.
Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner has signed her Flock Of Dimes solo project to Sub Pop. Available right at this very moment is new EP 'Like So Much Desire'.
Former MD of Warner Chappell UK, Mike Smith, has been named Global President of Downtown Music Publishing. He replaces, well, no one. It's a newly-created role, see. "I know under Mike's stewardship our publishing business is in the best of hands", says CEO Justin Kalifowitz.
The Head Of Music at talent agency group WME, Marc Geiger, is negotiating his exit from the company, according to Billboard. Gieger joined what was then the William Morris Agency in 2003. The reasons for his decision to leave are not known, although things are in flux big time at all the main agency groups at the moment as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown.
UK artist management firm QEDG - which manages a whole load of heritage acts - has announced the appointment of Tim Fraser-Harding - previously President of Global Catalogue at Warner Music - to a Commercial Manager role. Artists repped by the company will "benefit from his world class reputation and tactful, calm and fearless negotiating expertise at the top table", says QEDG Management Chair Martin Darvill.
Lafawndah has announced that she will release new album 'The Fifth Season' on 8 Sep through Latency. Here's the first single, 'You, At The End'.
Nadine Shah has released new single 'Club Cougar'. Her new album, 'Kitchen Sink', is out this Friday, which is exciting.
Continuing the run-up to her second album, Noga Erez has released new single 'No News On TV'. It's "a children's song for adults", she says, "because it shows a naive, utopian reflection of reality. I just needed to have a song like that. An escape song. But what was an escape song to me a few months back became an absurd, self-criticism provoking song to me. It now sounds to me more like a frantic search to close myself off and separate myself from the real world. This isn't time for escaping, it's a time for confronting".
Jesu - aka Justin Broadrick - has announced new mini-LP 'Never'. Out on 1 Jul, it's his first non-collaborative record under the name since 2013. From it, this is 'Because Of You'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Brendon Urie and Bruce Springsteen have high hopes for the end of Trump's presidential run
Urie's distaste for the orange autocrat manifested itself in a classic 'stop using my song' tweet, after Trump played PATD's 'High Hopes' at his recent lacklustre rally in Oklahoma. "Dear Trump Campaign", Urie wrote. "Fuck you. You're not invited. Stop playing my song. No thanks, Brendon Urie, Panic! At The Disco and company".
"Dear everyone else", he added. "Donald Trump represents nothing we stand for. The highest hope we have is voting this monster out in November. Please do your part".
Bruce Springsteen, meanwhile, a long-time vocal opponent of Trump, has also voiced concern for the US if Trump wins a second term as president later this year.
"I believe that our current president is a threat to our democracy", Springsteen tells The Atlantic. "He simply makes any kind of reform that much harder. I don't know if our democracy could stand another four years of his custodianship. These are all existential threats to our democracy and our American way of life".
He's positive that change is coming though, he adds: "Our president's numbers appear to be crashing through the basement. That's a good sign".
"I believe we may have finally reached a presidential tipping point with that Lafayette Square walk", he says, referencing Trump's recent teargassing of peaceful protesters outside the White House so that he could pop out to have his photo taken in front of a church. "[That] was so outrageously anti-American, so totally buffoonish and so stupid, and so anti-freedom of speech. And we have a video of it that will live on forever".
Coincidentally, Springsteen, like Urie, has a song called 'High Hopes'. Although, as far as I know, Trump has never played that one at any of his rallies. Actually, it's possibly unlikely the President would use a Springsteen track, because, you see, the dislike is mutual. And Trump is also outspoken about the musician's support for the Democrats.
At a rally last year, he boasted of getting by without the support of big names like Beyonce, Jay-Z and "little Bruce Springsteen", adding that Springsteen's performances at Hillary Clinton rallies ahead of the last election were worth little because he would "do about two songs, then leave... and everyone leaves with him".
While it may be true that Trump came to power without the support of most of the US music industry's biggest stars, his general unpopularity among music-makers always makes it hard to book bands to play any Trump affiliated events. Although in 2016 a Bruce Springsteen tribute act was booked to perform at a Trump inauguration party. Until they pulled out because of, well, of course they did.