|WEDNESDAY 22 JULY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: As pressure builds on venues large and small around the UK, there was some good news yesterday after it was announced that Manchester venues Gorilla and The Deaf Institute should be saved thanks to a deal led by Tokyo Industries. That deal follows several days of talks to try to rescue the two venues, which also involved Tim Burgess from The Charlatans... [READ MORE]|
Deal done to save Manchester venues Gorilla and The Deaf Institute
The Music Venue Trust has repeatedly warned that hundreds of grassroots music venues could go out of business as the COVID-19 shutdown continues.
In recent weeks the UK government has committed money to support those venues and announced that indoor gigs should be allowed again in England from next month. However, lots of uncertainties remain regarding the extent to which that funding will help, and whether ongoing social distancing rules will make most indoor shows unviable, even if they are in theory allowed to go ahead.
The current owners of Gorilla and The Deaf Institute - Mission Mars - announced last week that they would be unable to reopen the two venues because of the challenges created for the business by the pandemic. "This difficult decision has been made against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the enforced closure of all of our sites and with continued restrictions upon opening of live music venues", the company's CEO Roy Ellis added.
Though he also said that his company "would encourage any industry and music entrepreneurs who might be interested in this as an opportunity to please get in touch". That led to talks involving Tokyo Industries, which runs clubs and venues in various UK cities, as well as independent gig promoters SSD and the aforementioned Burgess.
Having reached out to Mission Mars to begin negotiating a deal, Tokyo Industries founder Aaron Mellor told reporters: "It's vital venues like Gorilla and The Deaf Institute are kept alive, the cultural fabric of our city centres depends on venues like these".
"Over the weekend", he added, "we have put together some great ideas with SSD Concerts and Tim Burgess to help save both venues and their existing operating style in a post-COVID world. We're not so keen on this 'new' normal and want to keep the 'old' normal alive for when we all get through this".
According to the Manchester Evening News, the two venues should operate pretty much as before under their new ownership, with a mixture of gigs and club nights. Staff at the two venues will also keep their jobs.
Confirming his company's involvement in the rescue attempt, Steve Davis from SSD Concerts stated: "The music industry is facing some of its toughest times at the moment. Ever since I first promoted a Charlatans acoustic show at The Deaf Institute ten years ago, I have had a real love for the venue, so it will be an honour to work on the next chapter in their stories".
And, he added, "Gorilla is one of my favourite places to watch gigs in the whole of the north west's amazing music scene".
Meanwhile, Mission Mars boss Ellis said of the new deal: "It's really great news for our teams and the music-loving people of Manchester that both venues have found such a perfect new home. The bad news announcement last week regarding the closure plans galvanised an unprecedented level of interest from passionate operators from across the region and even beyond. I'm extremely grateful that we've been able to find a new and appropriate home for these amazing venues and people".
Burger Records shuts down following allegations of predatory behaviour US independent Burger Records has shut down after numerous allegations of predatory behaviour towards young girls were made against both the company's staff and some of the acts signed to the label. Initial plans to bring in new management, put personal conduct obligations into artist contracts and rebrand as BRGR RECS have seemingly been abandoned.
The allegations against the company began circulating last week, many collated by an Instagram page titled 'Lured By Burger Records'. In an initial statement on Saturday, the label said that it had removed two bands from its roster due to accusations they had been "engaging in the grooming of underage girls for sex, relationships built on power imbalance, and the solicitation of pornography from minors".
However, although Burger said in that statement that it had "a long-standing zero-tolerance policy for this sort of behaviour", accusers subsequently stressed that these actions were not limited to a couple of rogue acts, but were, in fact, the outcome of a toxic culture within the company itself.
Yesterday, the label issued a second statement announcing a much bigger round of changes at the company. Co-founder and company president Lee Rickard would step down immediately, his fellow co-founder Sean Bohrman would move into "a transitional role", and Jessa Zapor-Gray would take over as interim president of what would become known as BRGR RECS.
Still hoping to survive the scandal, the label said: "We understand that we will never be able to comprehend the trauma that women have experienced while trying to find a place in the music scene. We are profoundly saddened and sickened by the pain suffered at the hands of a toxic male music culture that does not value women as equals".
It then said that it extended its "deepest apologies to anyone who has suffered irreparable harm from any experience that occurred in the Burger and indie/DIY music scene", adding that the company was "deeply sorry for the role Burger has played in perpetuating a culture of toxic masculinity".
As well as the restructuring and rebranding, the company said it would also launch of a new female-focussed imprint called BRGRRRL, and that it would implement a new standard artist agreement for all acts including "clear statements regarding unlawful and predatory behaviour".
However, last night Zapor-Gray told Pitchfork that, having reviewed everything more closely, "I no longer believe I will be able to achieve my intended goals in assuming the leadership role at Burger in the current climate".
She explained that those goals included salvaging the label, transforming it into something better and then handing it over to new management. However, having decided that's not now possible, she said: "I have decided to step away from the label entirely to focus on my other projects".
When asked by Pitchfork what that now meant for the future of Burger Records, Bohrman stated simply: "We decided to fold the label".
Founded in 2007, Burger Records worked with hundreds of artists over its decade plus in business, including The Black Lips and Ty Segall.
Warner announces the board for its new Social Justice Fund
When launching the $100 million fund last month, Warner Music CEO Steve Cooper said it would "support the extraordinary, dedicated organisations that are on the front lines of the fight against racism and injustice, and that help those in need across the music industry".
The fund will be headed up by a board made up of Warner Music execs and some external people too, including people with experience running schemes that seek to battle prejudice in business, politics and society at large, and to champion civil rights for all.
The external board members include Tanya Coke from the Ford Foundation, Paul Henderson from the San Francisco Department Of Police Accountability and Alencia Johnson from social impact agency 1063 West Broad, plus Shawn Gee from Live Nation and Mona Sutphen from private equity group The Vistria Group.
Warner people involved include Temi Adeniji, Mark Baker, Austin Daboh, Camille Hackney, Riggs Morales, Julian Petty and Ryan Press, plus Michael Lynton, non-executive Chair of the Warner Music Group, who will also Chair the new fund.
Spotify launches video podcast functionality
No one really knows. But the one thing we can all agree on is this: a podcast is audio. Glorious marvellous audio. All hail audio!
Oh look, Spotify has just launched video podcasts. Fuck you, Spotify. "Through these visuals fans can get to know their favourite podcast hosts even better and creators can more deeply connect with their audiences". No they can't, Spotify. Fuck off, Spotify.
Of course plenty of podcasters already post their content to YouTube and some film themselves recording their programmes because, well, you know, YouTube is a video platform and works best when you post video. Well, that's what people always say. I've never consumed a podcast on YouTube that wouldn't have worked just as well with a static image. Because, you know, a podcast is an audio medium. Did I mention that?
And, OK, some people have experimented with video podcasts that are more than just webcam footage of people sitting in front of a microphone. But they've never really taken off.
Partly because, if you're using a podcast app to play a continuous feed of shows you're subscribed to while you're out and about, it's annoying to have to stop and look at a video. Or more likely, skip that video so you can get to the next audio-only podcast as quickly as possible. Because, and I think we all agree on this now, podcasts are an audio medium.
However, with nine million people subscribed to Joe Rogan's YouTube channel, presumably Spotify feels it needs to start offering a load of video nonsense around its podcasts now that it's spent all that money securing the exclusive rights to his tedious-but-popular podcast interviews. And at least they've made it so that you can dip in and out of the video element, so that on your phone you can open up other apps or lock your device without the audio being interrupted. Lovely.
The new feature will be available on select podcasts initially. If it's anything like Spotify's past dabblings with video content, it will soon be buried deep in the app and no one will speak about it ever again. Though brands generally spend more money when video is involved, and assuming Spotify is hoping to recoup at least some of the millions it is currently spending on podcast content via brand deals, maybe it will have an incentive to really push the video element on the podcast side.
So there you go, Spotify, once a "music" company, then an "audio" company, now an "audio with some video nonsense thrown in" company".
But please remember, it's only really a podcast when it's audio. If you're wondering what that's like, here is a proper audio podcast streaming on Spotify.
Women In CTRL puts the spotlight on diversity at the UK music industry's trade groups
The report follows recent statements from companies and organisations across the music industry committing to do more to address diversity issues - especially in relation to ethnic diversity - in the wake of the Black Out Tuesday event and #TheShowMustBePaused initiative. Those events in turn being inspired, of course, by the most recent wave of Black Lives Matter protests.
Launching the stats, Women In CTRL states: "Many [music industry trade organisations] have released statements calling for diversity and change within the industry, however if these companies are not diverse themselves how can they be taking on the task?"
The group's study reviews the boards and executive teams of twelve industry bodies, including label-centric trade groups the BPI and Association Of Independent Music; the Music Publishers Association; the Music Producers Guild; the Music Venue Trust; the Music Managers Forum; songwriter organisation The Ivors Academy; artist and musician groups FAC and ISM; plus collecting societies PPL and PRS; and the trade body of trade bodies UK Music.
In terms of gender diversity, only one of those organisations currently has a female chair (Music Venue Trust), while three have female CEOs (ISM, MMF and PRS). Many of these trade bodies have worked in recent years to increase gender diversity on their boards, with the MMF now having more female board members than male members, while MVT's board is 50/50. Though overall there is still a male bias, and when ethnicity is taken into account, there is much less diversity. Only five of the 185 board members across all twelve organisations are black women.
Explaining her motivation for publishing this report, Women In CTRL founder Nadia Khan says: "As I've progressed through my career in the music industry over the last eighteen years I saw no representation of women or minorities within organisations at the top level and I found it perplexing how white men were making all the decisions as gatekeepers on black music".
"A lot of my work as a manager", she goes on, "has been consumed with fighting against the uphill battle, through every hurdle and finding a way around every door that was closed for black artists in the music industry, in live, TV, radio, record labels and every other sector".
Noting and welcoming the recent commitments across the music industry to address diversity issues, she adds that "statements are not enough. If we really want to eradicate inequality in music then all organisations need to take accountability and take concrete action to increase representation of women in leadership roles, and diversity and inclusion within their organisations for minorities, in particular black women who are severely underrepresented".
On the back of the report, Women In CTRL is urging all music industry organisations to sign up to a diversity pledge, which includes taking accountability for diversity issues, committing to diversify boards and teams, and setting out twelve month targets for achieving tangible change. You can check out the report and the full pledge here.
Dave Lee drops Joey Negro alias
In his statement, he explains how the alias came into being in the first place, when he quickly needed a name for a track release and, to meet the deadline, he simply looked through a pile of records and mashed together the names of Pal Joey and J Walter Negro.
"Back then I never ever imagined the name as a longterm thing that I'd ever DJ under or be addressed as face to face", he goes on. "It was just for the label of a record".
When it was suggested that a subsequent EP sounded like a follow-up to that initial Joey Negro release, he used the name again, and when a track from that EP blew up the alias stuck.
"I then began doing lots of remixes and even when I put Dave Lee on the mix name credits, the record label would change it to Joey Negro", he says. "And, in fairness to them, this was the name the general public was familiar with".
"In truth, I've not felt comfortable with the name Joey Negro for a while, especially as I've got older", he continues. "I've stopped using it a few times but establishing a new name as an artist isn't easy and I've ended up going back to it".
"I understand now, though, that it's not appropriate for me to carry on using the name. I've recently received emails, tweets etc saying that it is unacceptable and people find it out of place in 2020 - and I agree", he goes on. "From now on I'm dropping Joey Negro as a pseudonym, and all those future releases that weren't already in production will carry the name Dave Lee".
"I'm sorry to have caused any offence", he concludes. "My whole life has been about music but particularly black music, I love soul, funk, disco, jazz in a way that's impossible for me to articulate in words and I have tried to champion it with the best intentions".
A number of bands and artists have dropped what are seen as racially insensitive names in recent weeks, of course, in the wake of the most recent round of Black Lives Matter protests, including the acts previously known as The Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum, The Black Madonna and Slaves (the US band, not the UK duo).
Universal Music Publishing in the US has signed an admin deal with Grammy winning singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile and the sibling duo she has long collaborated with, Tim and Phil Hanseroth. UMPG boss Jody Gerson says she's a big fan of Carlile. And Carlile says she's a big fan of Gerson. So let's just hope this deal doesn't sour at any point and damage all that mutual fandom.
Music publisher Sentric has signed a deal with Lanterns On The Lake. The band's Bob Allan is "really excited" about the tie up. Sentric's Simon Pursehouse is "chuffed". And we're "THRILLED" about it. Which is kind of ironic really, isn't it? But that's just the way things go sometimes.
Kanye West has announced that he will release new album 'Donda' this Friday. The rapper released a track from the album last week.
The Rolling Stones have released a previously unavailable 1974 track called 'Scarlet', featuring Jimmy Page. "My recollection is we walked in at the end of a Zeppelin session", says Keith Richards. "They were just leaving, and we were booked in next and I believe that Jimmy decided to stay. We weren't actually cutting it as a track, it was basically for a demo, a demonstration, you know, just to get the feel of it, but it came out well, with a line up like that, you know, we better use it".
Vic Mensa, Aloe Blacc and more feature on new benefit compilation 'Defund The Sheriff', calling for the LA Sheriff Department to be defunded. Mensa, who contributes a track called 'The Largest Prison System On Earth', says: "The prison industrial complex of The Divided States Of America is one of the greatest stains ever to blemish the bloody flag that is America. The sheriff is little more than the militarised arm of this oppressive system; it is our duty as revolutionaries to challenge and dismantle white supremacy to the furthest extent possible within our lifetimes, by any and all means necessary".
Sampa The Great has released the video for 'Time's Up', from her 2019 album 'The Return'. "'Time's up' is a track that was made to reflect a conversation between two young African artists working in the Australian music industry", she says. "An industry that has often been careless in protecting the wellbeing of black artists. The labour put on marginalised people to have to address systemic racism every day means more trauma and pressure on our mental health and emotional state".
The Wombats' Daniel Haggis and Tord Øverland Knudsen have announced new side project Sunship Balloon and released their first single, 'A4 Life'.
Metz have announced that they will release their fourth album, 'Atlas Vending', on 9 Oct. From it, this is first single 'A Boat To Drown In'.
Sylvan Esso have released new single 'Ferris Wheel'. They've also announced that their new album, 'Free Love', will be out on 25 Sep.
Hannah Georgas has released new single 'Just A Phase'. Her album, 'All That Emotion', is out on 4 Sep.
EMMA has released new single 'Gold', the first single from her second album 'Indigo Dream', which is out on 29 Jul.
Jess RM has released new track 'Deathwish'.
Creepa has released the video for recent single 'South Brum'.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kreayshawn asks fans not to stream Gucci Gucci after going viral again
People have been rediscovering it in the last few days. The track began trending on Twitter after it was suggested that it would do well on TikTok if it was released today. Because just talking about TikTok can now make a track go viral.
"Don't buy 'Gucci Gucci' or stream it", she tweeted. "I get 0$ and I'm in debt to Sony for 800k. Stream or buy my new project. Or stream ['Gucci Gucci'] so many times I get out off debt. I guess you can try that too".
Obviously, what Kreayshawn really means is that she's unrecouped on her original record deal with Sony Music, not that the Sony Corporation is a bank now. This is a pretty common thing, of course. In a typical record deal, the label can recoup any cash advance it has paid - and, often, some of its other upfront costs too - out of the artist's share of any revenue generated by any records released under the deal.
Given that, under a traditional major label record contract, the artist's share is unlikely to be any more than 20% (it might be less and other technicalities can result in extra deductions being made), it can take some time for an artist to pay off what is owed. Indeed, unless there are multiple hit singles or a very popular album, an artist may never recoup, depending on how much was spent at the start.
While 'Gucci Gucci' - Kreayshawn's second single - sold enough copies to be certified gold by the RIAA - two subsequent singles failed to chart, and the album all three tracks came from, 'Somethin Bout Kreay', peaked at 112 in the US. Hence she is able to be more than three quarters of a million dollars in debt nearly a decade later.
"If any lawyers are bored and wanna look over my 60 page Sony/Colombia contract I can send [it]", she then joked. "See what an ancient record deal looked like with no mentions of streams and all album talk. There's even a mention of PHONOGRAPHS!"
A music lawyer somewhere could be actually be interested in that. There remains some contention between artists and labels over what royalty rate should be paid on a stream where a record contract doesn't specifically mention streaming. Though most lawsuits on that point to date have ended in out of court settlements that don't set a precedent, or class actions that somehow only ever result in slight royalty rate increases.
While trying to stream her out of that Sony debt is one option on the table, the musician also asked all the people discovering or rediscovering her now to check out her more recent projects, several of which are raising money for more worthy causes than Sony Corp, including projects that support black trans women and the NAACP.