|THURSDAY 6 AUGUST 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Live Nation's gloomy financial update yesterday came as no surprise, but did reaffirm just how big an impact the COVID-19 shutdown has had on live entertainment, with the live giant's revenues for quarter two down a massive 98% year-on-year. However, the company's big two messages for investors were that Live Nation has the cash and credit to weather the storm, and that music fans the world over are eager to fill venues and pack out festivals once again in 2021... [READ MORE]|
Live Nation stresses optimism about 2021 as it reports 98% revenue slump during COVID-19 shutdown
But first the gloom. Revenues for the second quarter of 2020 were $74 million, down from $3.2 billion in the same period in 2019. Overall Live Nation reported a net loss of $568 million for the three month period, compared to a $172 million profit the previous year.
So no fun at all really. But Live Nation bosses were keen to bring some optimism to the table with some forward-looking stats. 86% of consumers have kept hold of their tickets for rescheduled shows instead of opting for a refund, while in the festival space - where the outlay for the consumer is usually higher - two thirds have still opted to keep their tickets for 2021 editions. And nineteen million tickets have already been sold for 4000 shows next year.
In a statement to investors, Live Nation boss Michael Rapino said: "We remain confident that fans will return to live events when it is safe to do so. Our strongest indicator of demand is that fans are holding on to their tickets, even when given the option of a refund. Through the end of the second quarter, 86% of concert fans are keeping their tickets for rescheduled shows, demonstrating their continued desire to attend concerts in the future despite the current uncertainty".
Plus, he was keen to add, Live Nation has also been seeking to cash in on the recent lockdown-caused rise in live concert streaming. "Virtual concerts have proven to be in huge demand with fans", he said, "so we established the Live From Home platform to provide a convenient place for fans of all types to find performances from their favourite artists".
And, Rapino added, live streaming finally coming of age during the COVID-19 shutdown could as yet deliver long-term benefits for the company. "Given the tremendous popularity of these shows", he went on, "we are seeing the potential for live streaming to become an additional long-term component of our concert business, allowing fans in other cities, or those who can't attend, to enjoy the concert as well".
Beyond any long-term interest in live-streaming, COVID-19 could well strengthen Live Nation long-term in other less positive ways. In that if a significant number of independent live music companies go out of business as the shutdown extends, once things do get going again Live Nation - already a dominant force - will be even more dominant.
That said, the company's optimism yesterday was very much based on shows and festivals resuming at a decent level in 2021. Which they may well do. Though an increasing number of people are starting to consider that the impact of COVID on live entertainment could be felt for much of next year too. To quite what level - and to what extent that would dampen Live Nation's optimism - remains to be seen.
Of course, while the live industry has been put into full-on shutdown by COVID-19, the content side of the music industry is somewhat more resistant, mainly because the biggest recorded music revenue stream is now premium streaming subscriptions, which have continued to rise.
That said, record labels and music publishers are not entirely immune, as proven by the recent quarterly financial updates from all three majors. Physical sales took a hit as the high street closed down, plus licensing income from ad-funded platforms and media, sync clients and other businesses that use music will all be affected.
That was already apparent in the majors' quarter two financials, plus some of that negative impact will be slightly delayed given the time it can take for monies to flow through the collective licensing system, which is employed in some of those areas.
Migos' Takeoff accused of rape
The lawsuit says that the woman and Takeoff - real name Kirshnik Khari Ball - both attended a house party in June. It then claims that, at some point in the evening, he followed her to a bedroom, where he assaulted her after she said that she did not want to have sex with him.
Hours later, she went to hospital where she was examined and observed to have "physical evidence of forceful rape", and the following day went to the police.
Speaking to The Guardian, Neama Rahmani, an attorney representing the accuser, said that the police's response to these allegations had been frustrating, adding: "I've never seen a case like this. We had to take matters in our own hands and file a civil lawsuit and not wait for the District Attorney's office. We hope this motivates LAPD to move more aggressively with a criminal case".
In a statement to TMZ, Takeoff's attorney Drew Findling strongly denies the accusation of rape, saying: "We have reviewed the allegations and have similarly done our own due diligence. What has become abundantly clear is that the allegations made against Takeoff are patently and provably false. The claims and statements made regarding this lawsuit indicate that the plaintiffs' representatives have not spoken with relevant witnesses or reviewed available evidence".
"Takeoff is renowned for his artistic talent as well as his quiet, reserved and peaceful personality", he continues. "In this instance, those known personality traits have made him a target of an obvious exploitative money grab. As his counsel, we are well aware and well versed on the importance of civil and criminal prosecution of true sexual assaults. This is not one of those situations".
The lawsuit is seeking damages for sexual battery, assault and emotional distress.
musicFirst hits out at NAB as majority of US representatives oppose radio royalty for artists and labels
US copyright law is somewhat unusual in not providing a general performing right for sound recordings. That means that, whereas in most countries AM/FM radio stations need licences covering both songs and recordings, in the US only the former is needed. No permission is required from artists and labels, and no money is paid to the record industry.
Needless to say, said record industry doesn't like this and has been campaigning for decades to bring US copyright law in line with copyright law in much of the rest of the world. So far without success.
The most recent proposals to get a radio royalty for artists and labels are set out in a thing called the Ask Musicians For Music Act. But, obviously keen to avoid having to pay any money to artists and labels, the radio industry came up with its own proposals called The Local Radio Freedom Act, which is basically designed to get US politicians to commit to not support the music industry's proposals.
And, as of last week, 223 members of the House Of Representatives in US Congress had pledged support to the radio industry's proposals, which is sufficient to block the music industry's bid for a change to the law.
The National Association Of Broadcasters was predictably pleased with that development, thanking US politicians for pledging their support to their "hometown radio stations by co-sponsoring the Local Radio Freedom Act".
Its CEO Gordon Smith added: "A performance royalty would inhibit musicians' exposure on free and local radio, hurt stations' ability to serve their communities, and damage the long-standing relationship between broadcasters and the recording industry".
All of which is bullshit of course, because none of those things have happened in all the other countries where radio stations do pay recording royalties, but that's a pretty good summary of the US radio industry's arguments against paying any money to artists and labels. All he forgot to mention is that the record industry should be grateful for all the free promotion the radio stations give its releases.
Oh, look, Smith hadn't finished. "In these difficult times for all businesses, radio broadcasters thank lawmakers for opposing a job-killing performance royalty and look forward to continuing to provide unparalleled promotional value for new and established performing artists".
For its part, musicFIRST, which has long been campaigning for a radio royalty on recordings, noted how much work the NAB had put into securing the support of 223 representatives for their non-act act. It then suggested that all the money spent on that lobbying could have been put to much better use supporting the people that make the music that fills the airwaves of the NAB's member stations.
"Rather than paying music creators for their work, as streaming services and broadcasters overseas do, the NAB has spent more than $15 million on lobbyists to get big radio's interests heard on Capitol Hill", musicFIRST said in a statement. "That's more than twice the amount that small US broadcasters would have to pay in royalties under the small business licensing caps in the bipartisan Ask Musicians For Music Act".
Not only that but, musicFirst added, the NAB's proposals are misleading, not least the use of the term 'local radio' in the title. "While the NAB talks about 'local' radio, American radio is dominated by a handful of billion dollar companies who own and operate a majority of stations across the nation", it said.
"Most 'local' stations are actually owned by large conglomerates, which for years have been homogenising content and cutting costs by firing local talent", it went on. "These large broadcasters also happen to be the NAB's largest members".
Concluding, musicFIRST stated: "Big radio is big business. The NAB has shown that they are willing to spend and to say anything to prevent large broadcasters from having to pay artists for the right to play their recordings on terrestrial radio. By following the money and seeing who the NAB really represents, we're confident that Congress will see through their smokescreen and do right for American music creators".
Of course, while the NAB may now have majority support in the House Of Representatives, elections are looming, so that support is not assured long-term. Which means the record industry's fight for radio royalties will continue.
Liverpool's The Zanzibar Club to permanently close
The venue's Scott Burgess wrote on Facebook: "The Zanzibar Club has been a true survivor over the past 30 years, but with the current climate of uncertainty and the probability of remaining closed for a year, we have had to make the heartbreaking decision to permanently close our venue. [Having] very limited time left on our lease, and too many years of wear and tear on our building structure, puts us in a financially unattainable position to re-open".
He went on: "From all the Zanzibar crew past and present we would like to say a huge thank you to all the performers that have graced the stage at Zanzibar and brought music and joy into many people's lives. Thank you to all gig-goers, friends that have turned into family - you all have made Zanzibar feel like a second home for us. We appreciate everyone for their loyal support over the years and wish you all the best for the future".
Promoters of the city's annual showcase festival Liverpool Sound City - which also recently confirmed its plan postponed 2020 edition could not now go ahead - said they were "absolutely devastated" to hear that The Zanzibar Club would not re-open.
"The Zanzibar has played a massive part in the journey of almost every single musician in the city and beyond too", they said in another Facebook post. "We had the pleasure of hosting great acts in The Zanzibar for several editions of Sound City: Australia's Courtney Barnett and Manchester sweethearts The 1975 to name a few".
It's no secret that venues across the UK are struggling to stay in business as the COVID-19 shutdown extends. Though it's hoped that many will be rescued by the culture-sector specific funding pledged by the UK government, with grassroots venues in particular identified as beneficiaries of that funding from the off.
The Music Venue Trust and other music industry trade groups continue to lobby hard to ensure that funding is delivered as rapidly and effectively as possible. Meanwhile, MVT also continues with its own fundraising activity.
As part of that, it was announced yesterday that The Fightback Brewing Company - the brewer that usually supports the Music Venue Trust by donating a cut of the monies made by selling special beers in grassroots venues - will now be selling said beers online too. You can find out all about that here.
Instagram Reels rolls out around the world
Reels makes it easier for people to create fifteen second videos complete with music and other effects, all within the Instagram app, to then share with friends and/or the world. Which is to say, in official speak, it's "a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram".
Given TikTok's world domination you might think Instagram has left it too late to roll out it's TikTokky style new function, which it began piloting in Brazil last year. But, of course, Facebook is hoping it can capitalise on TikTok's current political woes.
It remains to be seen if politicians the world over stressing about what China-owned TikTok does with its users' data actually results in further bans for the app.
But even if it doesn't, consumer concern about all those data issues and/or worries about impending bans might be enough to persuade a decent number of TikTokkers - both content creators and content consumers - to jump ship to rival services.
Certainly the surge in consumer interest in TikTok rival Triller in recent weeks - which has been topping app download charts in multiple countries - would suggest that's what's happening right now.
From a music perspective, Reels is part of an ongoing trend of video-sharing platforms bringing music libraries and editing tools into their apps.
Which is interesting in copyright terms, because once an app is doing that it can't rely on the pesky copyright safe harbour that may have been previously utilised when users were uploading videos with uncleared background or synchronised music in them.
And it may as yet get to the point where video-sharing platforms simply can't compete without providing such tools, which greatly increases the music industry's negotiating power.
Meanwhile, as we say, Reels is here. Why not get yourself reeling? Adds Instagram: "Reels gives people new ways to express themselves, discover more of what they love on Instagram, and help anyone with the ambition of becoming a creator take centre stage". Yeah, whatever.
Machinedrum announces out of body new album
The 'U' in the title is probably not the abbreviation you think it is, but rather, apparently, "represents the universe or the infinite". The album as a whole is based on out of body experiences.
"I view myself from outside myself with love and admiration, proud of all my achievements as well as the wisdom I've gained from failures", explains the producer. "It is from this out of body place of loving awareness and non-judgement that I am able to objectively look at all my behaviours, thoughts, feelings and emotions".
"The feeling of being out of your body feels infinite. It feels like time has stopped. It feels like the birth of creation", he goes on. "It feels like the impossible becomes possible. It feels unfamiliar and familiar at the same time. It feels scary at first but once you let go of that fear and surrender to the experience it feels incredibly beautiful and life-changing".
"When I am in the creative zone I tend to forget time, who I am and where I am", he concludes. "As I became aware of my OOBE through song creation, choosing what songs should go on an album as well as through my meditation, I realised that this was meant to be the central theme of the album".
Absolute Label Services has formally announced a deal with Earache Records that sees it provide the metal label with distribution, sales and marketing services in the UK. "We're happy to announce that we've been working with Absolute since signing our physical business with them at the start of the year for the UK", says Earache CEO Digby Pearson. "They have a specific understanding of our space and, more importantly, are well in line with our independent, pioneering spirit".
Bon Iver have released new single 'AUATC', which features Jenny Lewis, Jenn Wasner and Bruce Springsteen.
Machine Gun Kelly has released new single 'Concert For Aliens', featuring Travis Barker.
Troy Sivan has released new single 'Rager Teenager!'
Gojira have released new single and video 'Another World'. "Ferdinand Magellan once said 'it is with an iron will that we'll embark on the most daring of all endeavours, to meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown'", says the band's Joe Duplantier. "Is humanity doomed, or will we survive nature's wrath? Take a glimpse into our shadowy future by watching our take on 1968's 'Planet Of The Apes'... 'Another World'!"
Alanis Morissette has released the video for 'Ablaze', from her recently released 'Such Pretty Forks In The Road' album.
Aminé has released new track 'Compensating', featuring Young Thug. His new album 'Limbo' is out on 30 Aug.
Tobacco has released new single 'Babysitter', which features none other than Trent Reznor. "This was new for me, but I wanted to write a song that was everything I am and have been, and then like one notch further", says Tobacco, aka Tom Fec, before adding: "Trent was the notch further". New Tobacco album 'Hot, Wet & Sassy' is out on 30 Oct.
Galya Bisengalieva has released new single 'Kantubek', from her upcoming album 'Aralkum'.
Eartheater has announced that she will release new album 'Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin' on 2 Oct through Pan. Here's its first single, 'How To Fight'.
Zombie-Chang has released the video for 'Snooze', from her just out new album 'Take Me Away From Tokyo'.
So Below has released new track 'Fear'.
GIGS & TOURS
V Festival has announced its return for a one-off virtual event to be broadcast on ITV2. Artists including Olly Murs, Anne Marie and Dizzee Rascal will film performances at the festival's old Chelmsford site, Hylands Park. It should be a vast improvement on the original event, as you won't actually have to be there. It'll all take place on 21-23 Aug, hosted by Maya Jama and Joel Dommett.
Charli XCX will perform her 'How I'm Feeling Now' album live in a virtual performance with Boiler Room on 15 Aug. Tickets cost $5 and are on sale now, with all proceeds going to the LA Alliance For Human Rights.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Stewart Copeland studies father's role as a CIA spy in new podcast
"My childhood wasn't a regular upbringing", he says in a statement announcing the podcast, which is called 'My Dad The Spy'. "We moved around the Middle East ... mixing with so many fascinating people. I shared my father's passion for music, which eventually led to my career in The Police and beyond, and his job shaped me too. In sharing his story, and my family's story, I hope to shed light on what it is truly like to be the son of a CIA agent".
Of course, most sons of CIA agents don't go on to become world famous musicians, which adds a quirk to the story. And it wasn't just Copeland himself that became involved in the music business. While he played drums for The Police, his brothers Miles III and Ian were the band's manager and booking agent respectively.
Given the family's extensive involvement with the outfit, it was possibly unhelpful when - in 1986 - their father suggested in an interview with Rolling Stone that the band were a 'psy-ops' operation. Sting certainly didn't appreciate the suggestion at the time.
"It got old Sting on a bad day", Copeland tells the Guardian. "He knew my father very well, and he regrets it now, but he took adversely the suggestion that he was a CIA pawn".
As for whether his father's role, in part as a result of other comments made in that interview, had an adverse affect on his musical career, Copeland says: "I think behind our backs people did write the Copeland brothers off as rightwing monsters, but I got on pretty well with everybody. Decades later I remember hanging out with Rage Against The Machine and Zack [De La Rocha] was looking at me pretty funny, but the other guys were friendly".
Although, he adds, he thinks De La Rocha's "main problem was that I played polo".