|TUESDAY 21 JULY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Q magazine will close after one final issue, it has been confirmed. Publisher Bauer Media had hoped to find a buyer, but seemingly no deal could be done to rescue the music magazine... [READ MORE]|
Q magazine to close
It was one of ten titles put up for review by Bauer in May. Last month it was announced that three of those ten would close, including another younger music title, the magazine spin-off of radio station Planet Rock. But Q was among five magazines that the publisher hoped might be bought by another company, with talks about a possible sale seemingly at an "advanced" stage.
Prior to that announcement the team who produce Q were pretty certain closure was incoming and put together the most recent issue as if it was the last. The prospect of surviving under new ownership allowed them to start working on another edition, but yesterday Editor Ted Kessler confirmed closure was now confirmed, making the upcoming issue the grand finale.
Kessler wrote on Twitter: "I have some bad news about Q Magazine. The issue that comes out on July 28 will be our last. The pandemic did for us and there was nothing more to it than that".
The magazine industry was feeling the pressure long before the COVID-19 pandemic, of course. Print circulations have been in decline for years, meanwhile most publishers have struggled to generate significant revenues with online content.
Even where magazines have been prolific on the digital side and built big online audiences, competition from Facebook and Google make it hard to generate decent ad income. And while some business media and broadsheet newspapers have started to have some success with online subscriptions, that hasn't really extended to consumer magazines yet, and certainly not music magazines.
Which means many titles were still mainly relying on their declining print editions for most of their revenues. Then COVID-19 struck, making it harder to get print magazines to market, and causing a slump in the advertising industry. That's been a major challenge across the board, but even more so for titles that counted the live music sector among its advertiser base.
In his final editor's letter, also posted to Twitter yesterday, Kessler writes: "We've been a lean operation for all of my tenure [since 2017], employing a variety of ways to help keep our head above water in an extremely challenging print market. COVID-19 wiped all of those out".
Launched in 1986 by Smash Hits writers Mark Ellen and David Hepworth, Q's circulation peaked in 2001 at over 200,000 copies. Seeing a steady decrease in circulation over the last two decades, pretty much in line with the rest of the industry, by the time Bauer put the magazine under review in May circulation was about 28,000 - most of which came from mail-order subscriptions.
It remained popular with musicians and the music industry though, and many felt that its editorial was particularly strong in the last couple of years of its operations under Kessler's editorship. Many artists and industry people took to social media yesterday to mourn the title's passing.
Meanwhile Kessler himself finished his final editor's letter with some optimism, writing: "Hopefully these final issues will provide inspiration to someone canny enough to fill that huge, Q-shaped hole on the newsstand".
For further discussion on the challenges facing music media at the moment, check out this recent edition of Setlist.
Anti-piracy campaigners propose 'know-your-customer' approach to stopping pirates
This new tactic was proposed at a recent webinar hosted by Italian anti-piracy group FAPAV, according to Torrentfreak. The movie industry-centric organisation said that such a system could really help boost anti-piracy efforts to support an audiovisual sector that has been hugely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Basically 'know-you-customer' would oblige domain registrars and server hosting companies to introduce extra formalities when signing up new clients. The parallel is the financial services sector, where banks - for example - are obliged to undertake certain ID checks when someone opens up an account for the first time, those measures designed to stop things like money laundering and fraud.
Having internet firms similarly check the ID of new customers would make it harder for piracy websites and services to operate anonymously, making the risk of facing legal action for copyright infringement more tangible.
Torrentfreak quotes FAPAV as saying: "This type of approach would allow us to combat anonymity on the web, now a constant of those who work illegally to exploit and earn through the unauthorised use of audiovisual works".
Of course, internet companies have long opposed any proposals that they actively police their customers or the content those customers upload. Internet service providers have generally only reluctantly participated in three-strike or web-blocking type schemes, most often when forced to do so by law-makers or the courts. And many domain registrars and server hosting companies will only act against individual copyright infringing customers when a court order is issued.
The know-your-customer tactic would also have a much bigger impact on internet companies and their customers. Other schemes require net firms to invest in systems to administer things like three-strikes and web-blocking, and annoy customers who are either accused of infringement or who wish to access piracy sites. But know-your-customer would put up hurdles for every single new client to cross, annoying everyone, and potentially costing each internet firm new business.
So, we can expect plenty of opposition if campaigners start calling for know-your-customer requirements to be added to internet businesses at large.
Official Charts Company launches Afrobeats chart
The first edition of the chart will be unveiled in a special show on BBC 1Xtra at 1pm this Sunday, after which it will be revealed on the OCC website and via a Spotify playlist.
"We are delighted to be supporting Afro Nation in the launch of this new Afrobeats Chart", says Official Charts Company chief executive Martin Talbot. "This fast-growing genre is having an increasingly powerful impact on the music landscape right now, both in the UK and further afield, through artists including the likes of NSG, J Hus and Burna Boy. We're THRILLED to be helping cast a spotlight on this success through the development of the genre's own dedicated weekly chart".
To mark the announcement of the new chart, the Official Charts Company has also published a top 20 list of the biggest Afrobeats artists of the last twelve months. It notes the increased appearance of these artists on the main singles chart too, saying that Afrobeats artists collectively spent 86 weeks in the Official Chart Top 40 in the last year, up from 24 weeks in 2017.
Number one in that rundown is J Hus, followed by Burna Boy. See the full yearly top 20 and find out more about the new weekly chart here.
Competition regulator reveals Viagogo offered to sell StubHub's European assets
Viagogo announced it was buying rival StubHub from its previous owner eBay in a $4 billion deal last November. The transaction was completed in February, but by that point the CMA had already confirmed it was looking into the merger.
Then last month the regulator said it would begin a longer phase two investigation unless Viagogo could come up with a "clear cut solution" to the issues it had raised with the deal. The phase two investigation then began - because seemingly no clear cut solution had been found.
That a combined Viagogo/StubHub would totally dominate the UK secondary ticketing market is not denied. But Viagogo has argued that it also competes with the primary ticketing sellers, so there would still be plenty of competition in the market after the merger. But the CMA rejects that argument in the documents published last week.
It wrote: "While the parties [ie Viagogo and StubHub] submitted that primary ticketing platforms are a strong alternative to the secondary ticketing exchange platforms of the parties, the CMA found that such platforms are not considered close alternatives by ticket buyers and resellers".
"In addition", it went on, "the parties' internal documents and third party views did not indicate that primary ticketing platforms pose a significant constraint on the parties. The CMA found that the competitive constraint from other online channels, such as Facebook, and from offline ticket sales was also limited".
The clear distinction between primary and secondary platforms is all the more important for the resellers - or touts if you prefer - because while fans can buy tickets from both primary and secondary ticketing sites, the resellers can only sell on the latter. And those resellers fear that a combined Viagogo/StubHub could use its market dominance to make reselling tickets less lucrative.
Summarising the concerns expressed by the touts, the CMA document notes that "a significant number indicated that the merged entity would have a monopoly over the secondary ticketing market in the UK". And one reseller, it went on, "expressed concern that the merged entity would be able to dictate terms, resulting in worse payment terms and higher fees for resellers and price increases for customers".
Elsewhere the CMA confirmed that Viagogo did in fact propose a possible solution to avoid a phase two investigation: the "divestment to an upfront buyer of StubHub's European and certain other international legal entities".
At first glance, that seems like a pretty big concession on Viagogo's part. Although it's no secret that Viagogo's main interest in StubHub is its US business, America being the major market where Viagogo is not a major player, and where so far there have been fewer attempts to restrict the resale of tickets online through new rules and regulations.
The CMA ultimately concluded that that proposal was not sufficiently "clear cut", mainly because of concerns that a standalone UK StubHub business cut off from its global parent company might struggle to operate, and therefore wouldn't provide decent competition in the British market.
"The CMA ... considers that there is a significant risk that the proposed undertaking would not restore competition to the level that would have prevailed absent the merger", the CMA stated, "and would not fully address the significant competition concerns identified ... without the need for further investigation".
Commenting on last week's CMA documents, Adam Webb from anti-touting campaign FanFair said: "It's fascinating to see a full text of the CMA's decision, and the fact that even Viagogo's main suppliers - ie high-volume ticket touts - are against this merger tells it's own story".
He went on: "The main thrust of Viagogo's arguments, that their acquisition of StubHub would not create a monopoly in the UK, and their business is competing with both primary operators and capped consumer-friendly ticket resale services, is simply not backed up by evidence - least of all from Viagogo's own internal documents. We now look forward to the CMA proceeding with a full phase two investigation".
"Retired" rapper Logic signs new music partnership with Twitch
The partnership will see him stream "a mixture of in-studio sessions, special guests, AMA style formats and gaming" on his Twitch channel on a weekly basis.
Noting that he was doing this already anyway, he tells The Verge: "I think it's a powerful platform that allows me to connect with my fans in the best way possible. And the safest way possible for someone in my position".
"This is the place where if you want to interact with me, you're going to do it here", he says. "I'm not going to be on Twitch having political debates. I'm going to be on Twitch helping people, after they've had a day of protesting or political debates, unwind and laugh and smile. And if you want to know how I feel about the world, you listen to my music".
Logic announced his retirement from music last Friday, stating that his new album, 'No Pressure' - released this Friday - would be his last. "It's been a great decade", he said on Twitter. "Now it's time to be a great father".
Insisting that the Twitch deal isn't backtracking on that announcement, he says: "I announced my retirement from music because it came to a point where I felt forced, like I had to do certain things. And it's not that the label made me feel that way. I was doing it to myself, because I'm such a businessman, and I was pushing myself to the brink of insanity".
"I think if I said, 'yeah, this is a new era' and all this shit, you could put it on the headline and it would, like, make it sound cooler", he adds. "Of course, it's a new era, but I'm not fooling myself. I'm a musician, I'll always be one. I'm still gonna rap on songs that probably won't come out".
In a press release announcing the Twitch tie-up, he also said that he hopes his Twitch channel will become "a place of creation but also collaboration".
Confirming the deal from it's side, Twitch's Head Of Music Mike Olsen noted how Logic's involvement with the live streaming platform had followed its evolution - ie from a place for gamers to live-stream, to hosting a more eclectic mix of creators.
"Logic embodies the evolution of creators that we've seen over the last few years on Twitch", Olsen said. "He came to Twitch as a gamer but understands the value of the Twitch community and how our passionate and engaged audience can also connect with and support his music".
"This type of streaming partnership is new for Twitch but speaks to what is happening on the service with our growth across non-gaming content, and particularly the massive interest we're seeing within music", he added.
You can catch Logic's first Twitch stream as part of the new partnership tonight at 1am UK time.
The Black Madonna changes name
The move follows the launch of a petition against the name last week, although Stamper has long been criticised over her moniker. In the past, she has said that the name relates to the branch of Catholicism that her family follows, and argues that she has therefore been accused of cultural appropriating something that is part of her own culture.
She explained the meaning behind the name again in a statement announcing the name change, saying: "I have always been transparent about my faith because I felt a responsibility to be clear about who I was and who I was not. The name was a reflection of my family's lifelong and profound Catholic devotion to a specific kind of European icon of the Virgin Mary, which is dark in hue. People who shared that devotion loved the name, but in retrospect, I should have listened harder to other perspectives".
"But now I hear loud and clear", she goes on. "My artist name has been a point of controversy, confusion, pain and frustration that distracts from things that are a thousand times more important than any single word in that name. We're living in extraordinary times and this is a very small part of a much bigger conversation, but we all have a responsibility to try and affect positive change in any way we can. I want you to be able to feel confident in the person I am and what I stand for".
The organiser of the petition calling for Stamper to change her stage name, fellow producer Monty Luke, said after her statement was published: "This is a nuanced and somewhat complex issue but I am glad to see that it has been finally resolved. I would urge all those who were in support of this to continue staying aware and educated about this issue and the many others that currently affect our music scene. Most of all, keep talking to one another so that we can gain more understanding".
COVID-19 SUPPORT INTIATIVES
The Daphne Oram Trust is offering six £500 grants for electronic music-makers facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Full details here.
Sony/ATV has signed producer WondaGurl to a worldwide publishing deal. "WondaGurl has been an incredible producer for years while shattering glass ceilings for women in music and entertainment", says Sony/ATV Senior Director Creative Jennifer Drake.
MANAGEMENT & FUNDING
London Music Fund and YouTube Music's Amplify London programme has announced the first five grassroots music projects that it is backing. They are: Newham youth club Ambition Aspire Achieve's new music studio and digital music-making workshops; Haringey-based Collage Voices's Voice Against Hate songwriting competition; summer camps Girls Frock London in Hackney and School Ground Sounds in Brixton; and the Ruff Sqwad Arts Foundation in Tower Hamlets.
Warner's Atlantic Records in the US has named Keith 'Keefa' Parker Vice President of A&R. "Keefa was literally born into LA's rap culture", says Dallas Martin, Atlantic's SVP of A&R. Which is a bit of a disturbing image.
Gerald Ang has been named as the new Managing Director of Warner Music Singapore. He joins from telecomms company Singtel. "I'm delighted to take the helm of Warner Music Singapore at such an exciting time for Warner Music", says Ang. "We're focused on driving business domestically by expanding our Chinese roster and we're gearing up to welcome back our international acts and continue to build their profile in the region".
Chris Atlas has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Urban Music & Marketing for Warner Records in the US. So Warner is still using that increasingly controversial genre term, if you'd been wondering. "I'm very proud of all that we've accomplished to build Warner Records' presence throughout the urban and hip hop communities", says Atlas. "I'm driven by our artists and their music, and blessed to be able to contribute to the culture, because I'm a student of it".
Radio editor Rob Littlejohn is moving to Apple's Beats 1 to produce Charlie Sloth's 'Rap Show' and its long-running 'Fire In The Booth' feature. He leaves the BBC after fifteen years at the broadcaster and will officially take up his new role next month.
Drake has collaborated with UK drill MC Headie One on new release 'Only You Freestyle', with both rappers taking a verse over an M1 On The Beat produced track. "I had to go hard, especially on a track with one of the best drill artists in the world", says Drake. "Scratch that - the best drill artist in the world".
Beyonce has released another trailer for her upcoming 'Black Is King' visual album, which is set to premiere on Disney+ on 31 Jul.
Gorillaz have released their fifth 'Song Machine' track, 'Pac-Man', featuring Schoolboy Q.
Ty Dolla $ign has released the video for recent single 'Ego Death', featuring Kanye West, FKA Twigs and Skrillex.
Jpegmafia has released new track 'Rough 7', featuring Tommy Genesis.
Annie is back with new single 'The Bomb'. Her first album for ten years, 'Dark Hearts', is set for release on 16 Oct.
Duckwrth has released new single 'Coming Closer', featuring GLAM and Julia Romana.
Upsahl has released new single 'People I Don't Like'. "Not gonna lie, I was a little tipsy the day I wrote 'People I Don't Like'", she says. "I had just come from an industry party and started ranting about the stereotypical shitty people that were there. Essentially, people that I don't like. Then I realised that I was at that party too, haha!"
Heads up! The shortlist for this year's Mercury Prize will be announced on Lauren Laverne's BBC Radio 6 Music show this Thursday at 10.30am. "This has been a difficult and challenging year, so we are grateful to all the artists and labels that have supported the 2020 Hyundai Mercury Prize by entering their albums", says Mercury Prize Chair David Wilkinson. "Creatively the past year has been an amazing year for British music – so choosing just twelve albums of the year will be tough for the judging team".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kanye West avoiding deposition over Ultralight Beam copyright case, plaintiffs say
West and his business partners were sued last year over a short spoken word recording that appears at the start of 'Life Of Pablo' track 'Ultralight Beam'. That recording features the voice of a young child in prayer with an adult voice responding. It was sampled from an Instagram video uploaded by the child's mother back in 2016.
West's people did approach the mother, Alice T Johnson, about sampling the audio from her Instagram post. However, in last year's lawsuit the child's adoptive parents – Andrew and Shirley Green – argued that Johnson didn't actually have the authority to allow the girl's voice to be used in the record. And even if she did, paperwork and payment in relation to the sample that were verbally promised to Johnson never materialised.
The legal squabble is continuing to go through the motions, and the Greens want West to attend a deposition so that he can answer questions in relation to the case under oath. But, they say, the rapper has not been complying with that request, instead doing everything he can to dodge the deposition, despite them proposing it take place at his lawyer's LA office.
"Plaintiffs have attempted for seven months to schedule defendant West's deposition", a court filing last week stated. "Defendant West has refused to cooperate", it added, while arguing that excuses West's people have so far provided are not valid. With that in mind "plaintiffs request an order compelling defendant West to attend his deposition".
West, of course, has been very busy in recent weeks with his late-in-the-day decision to stand against one-time friend Donald Trump in this year's US Presidential election, even though he's too late to even appear on the ballot papers in some states.
People still can't quite decide if the whole thing is a very elaborate album launch campaign, or a genuine bid for political power, or something of a mid-life crisis. His official campaign launch last weekend provided no more clarity on that front.