|THURSDAY 4 NOVEMBER 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The All Party Parliamentary Group On Music yesterday demanded "urgent action" from the UK government to tackle the crisis facing British musicians and crew planning to tour Europe as a result of the Brexit shambles. The group of cross-party MPs also announced an inquiry into the costly barriers and delays performers now face as they tour Europe, and how that is impacting on the music community, and especially emerging talent... [READ MORE]|
Cross-party group of MPs calls for urgent action on post-Brexit touring bureaucracy
When the UK government published its last-minute post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union at the very end of 2020, it was clear that there were no provisions in place to ensure British musicians and crew could tour Europe without any new visa, permit or carnet requirements, despite the music community having been assured by the Brexiters in government that such provisions would be in there.
This means that as musicians and crew tour the European Union they are subject to different rules in different countries. In some cases that doesn't make a huge difference, but in others there is new bureaucracy to navigate, which results in new delays and costs. For many artists, whose tours operate on tight profit margins, that extra bureaucracy makes touring activity unviable.
The government initially blamed the EU for the lack of touring provisions in the deal. Then ministers started to concede that this was a big problem that needed tackling. Then Prime Minister 'Boris' Johnson told Parliament in March that he was "passionate" about solving this problem, which is when the music community knew it was really fucked.
The PM also said that the government was working "flat out" to negotiate deals with individual EU countries where Brexit had created new bureaucracy for touring artists, and that Brexit negotiator David Frost was leading the charge.
Then, of course, fuck all happened. Well, the government started publishing statements about the EU countries where there wasn't any new post-Brexit bureaucracy to navigate, presenting those as if they were somehow wins.
And Frost basically told Parliament's culture select committee - who he eventually agreed to meet - that it wasn't really his problem. And that signing up to the EU's proposals that would have allowed performers to keep touring Europe hassle free would have been contrary to the fuck-the-foreigners agenda via which Johnson rose to power.
An agenda which was fully and passionately embraced by, well, 26.5% of the UK population in the 2016 EU referendum and 21% of the population in the 2019 general election.
Now it's November and the handy six month buffer created by the COVID-caused shutdown of touring is over. And yet, well, here we are. Everything is still fucked. Hence the letter from the APPG On Music to Johnson.
"At a meeting of the APPG On Music that I chaired last week", writes David Warburton MP, "it was made clear to me that, while clarifications issued by the Department For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport confirming the general principal of visa free working in 20 EU countries were welcome, there are still barriers and not enough clarity for musicians looking to tour the EU, particular emerging artists".
Noting the economic and cultural impact of the UK music industry - and Johnson's commitment to address these problems in March - the letter asks the PM to urgently commit to three things.
First, "practical unilateral steps to improve the situation, like creating a bespoke music export office to support UK artists looking to play abroad". Then to "intensify bilateral negotiations with states like Spain that bar work permit free touring". And finally "look to forge an EU level agreement exempting cultural tours from the red tape designed to cover other areas of activity like haulage and formal immigration".
Commenting on the letter yesterday, Warburton added: "Musicians and crew are facing an enormous and grave problem when it comes to touring the EU that is not going to go away. Our cross-party group has written to the Prime Minister to ask him to take urgent action to clear these visa and travel barriers that threaten the success of the UK music industry, particularly emerging artists. We need the government to ramp up negotiations with nations like Spain where costly visas are still in place and to look for swift solutions to both the visa and transport issues facing musicians and crew".
As part of their inquiry into the impact of the post-Brexit bureaucracy, MPs want to hear from musicians and people across the music industry. Of particular interest is the specific impact of visa, permit and carnet requirements and cabotage rules, plus the effect of all this on the music industry in general and emerging talent in particular. MPs are also interested in hearing about possible solutions.
Another member of the APPG who has spoken out on this issue before is Harriet Harman MP, who welcomed the inquiry, stating: "This is a very important initiative. There is deep recognition from all parties in the House Of Commons of the importance of music to the cultural and economic life of the UK, and of the jeopardy caused by restrictions on UK musicians touring in the EU. Livelihoods and careers are at risk and musicians need action from government now. This inquiry is an opportunity to present government with an ultimatum that they must sort this out".
Also welcoming both the letter and the inquiry was Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, boss of cross-sector lobbying group UK Music. "This is a hugely welcome move by MPs from across the political divide who are as keen as we are to overcome the barriers facing musicians and crew touring the EU", he stated yesterday. "The extra costs and red tape mean some artists are losing work and some tours, particularly those by emerging musicians, are not viable at the moment. We need urgent government action to break down the barriers facing musicians and crew including a transitional support package of financial aid and further steps to encourage exports".
It remains to be seen to what extent the APPG's campaigning and inquiry helps. Though, of course, we all know that if you really want to get any action from Johnson's government the best way is to bung a load of cash to one of the PM's best buds in Westminster. I can't help thinking that might be a quicker solution.
Woman pleads guilty to wire fraud charge over bogus Justin Timberlake booking
Atlanta-based Carissa Scott claimed that she ran a music and booking agency called Canvas Media with her business partner Nancy Jean. They told the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation that they could arrange for Timberlake to play a fundraising show due to take place in late 2019, that the musician's fee would be $500,000, and that a $100,000 advance payment was required to confirm the booking.
Having made that advance payment, the benefit concert's organisers got concerned when Timberlake failed to promote the show on social media. Scott and Jean then said they'd need another $175,000 to be paid for the star to begin promoting the show. They later said that Timberlake's fee had gone up to $800,000, but that they could secure Mars instead for $600,000 if $300,000 of that fee was paid upfront.
Increasingly suspicious about these new demands for payment, the organisers reported Scott and Jean to the FBI. An investigator from the bureau then approached the two women pretending to be a new backer of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation fundraiser who was also interested in using their services to book acts for other events.
They told the investigator that Timberlake and Mars had concerns about the Foundation's show because all but their first request for deposit payments had been ignored. However, they added, they could also secure Drake, Flo Rida or Ed Sheeran for the concert.
By this point the feds had approached managers and agents for Timberlake and Mars, who knew nothing of the proposed Sandy Hook Promise Foundation show. They also discovered that Scott and Jean had spent a chunk of the $100,000 on leasing a Mercedes, going on shopping sprees and making sizeable cash withdrawals. The two women were then arrested in January 2020.
According to Law360, having pled guilty to the one charge of fraud, Scott will now be sentenced on 24 Feb. She has also been ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution. It's not clear what this means for the criminal case against Jean, which is still seemingly going through the motions.
Believe buys into French indie Play Two
As well as a label - which will tap into Believe's distribution network - Play Two also has live and brand partnership operations, which will now work in tandem with the live and brand units at Believe. The alliance, the two firms say, "will reinforce Believe's presence in France and accelerate the digital growth of Play Two". The Play Two business will continue to be led by its founders Sébastien Duclos and Julien Godin.
Confirming the deal, Romain Vivien, General Manager of Believe France, says: "I am delighted to associate Believe with the number one French independent label, founded and run by Sébastien and Julien, two talented entrepreneurs with a long track record of success, and at the same time with the number one French media group TF1, which has enabled Play Two to accelerate its development and become a key player in the market".
"I am confident", he goes on, "that we will work together to accelerate Play Two's digital transition and open up new music segments to digital with our shared expertise and innovation".
Meanwhile, Duclos and Godin add in a joint statement: "This partnership with Believe is another important step in the growth of Play Two. We have known the Believe teams for a long time and share with [Believe CEO] Denis [Ladegaillerie] and Romain the same entrepreneurial culture as well as a common vision of the future of the music and entertainment industry".
"With the TF1 Group", they continue, "which is an exceptional partner in the development of our structure, we now form a new team with Believe, perfectly adapted to the challenges of this rapidly changing market".
Now publicly listed on the Euronext stock exchange in Paris, Believe yesterday also published its financial report for quarter three of 2021. Revenues grew 27% in what was, the company said, a "very dynamic Q3 driven by Believe's attractivity to artists and labels". Which is good news, because, as well all know, success is all about achieving attractivity.
HYBE announces plans diversify offerings to K-pop fans in 2022
At a press conference this morning, the company unveiled various projects. Online animations featuring BTS, TXT and Enhyphen are all set to launch next year, through Korean tech firm Naver's online cartoon platform.
BTS will also star in a new video game, expected to launch in the first half of next year. Details are light, but the group's Suga said that "you'll get to enjoy a game we've put effort in", while his bandmate Jimin added: "I want people to relax by playing this game". So, er, no that doesn't really tell you anything.
Because it's now and the bubble hasn't yet burst on this utter nonsense, HYBE is also planning to get into the NFT game too. It has partnered with fin-tech company Dunamu to start developing a load of old shit in that domain.
Elsewhere, HYBE announced plans to merge its Weverse direct-to-fan platform with the livestreaming set-up of the aforementioned Naver, that being V Live. The fancy new version of Weverse is set to launch in the first half of 2022.
Beyond that, HYBE America is still planning to launch a new girl group in partnership with Universal Music's Geffen label, and HYBE Japan is putting together a new boyband. So there will be plenty more artists to funnel into cartoons, games and NFTs. They might even make some music too.
BBC Radio launches new scheme to support independent audio producers
The scheme will seek to support people making pop and classical music programmes, as well as speech and podcast content, while also contributing to the BBC's wider commitment to boost diversity and regional reach in its productions and commissions.
Announcing the scheme, BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore said: "The independent sector is booming with creative ideas and there are many small to medium sized companies who can help us to deliver more for our audiences. This development fund will support indies with their plans, feeding directly into the BBC’s commitments to champion new talent, increase diversity and be more representative of the UK as a whole".
The fund was welcomed by AudioUK, the trade association for audio production companies in the UK. It's MD Chloe Straw said: "We welcome the launch of this fund which will help independent production companies from all over the UK grow and develop, enabling them to reflect a more diverse range of voices, perspectives, stories and ideas in the BBC's radio output".
Tupac "museum experience" to open in LA
"Part museum, part art installation, part sensory experience, 'Wake Me When I'm Free' will showcase Shakur's music, poetry and never before seen artefacts in a 20,000 square foot curated space akin to a contemporary art museum", says a statement. "Guests will transition through a myriad of surround sound spaces, rich with rarities embedded in technology".
Created in collaboration with the late rapper's estate, the experience has been put together by Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame Chief Curator Nwaka Onwusa and Creative Director Jeremy Hodges, with his firm Project Art Collective.
"It is a privilege to be a part of such a monumental project", says Hodges. "We wanted to create a memorable experience that will inspire you to be better than when you walked in, all while leaving you with the knowledge that [Shakur] was a true revolutionary spirit".
Vice Chair of Universal Music's Interscope Geffen A&M - and an executive producer on the project - Steve Berman, adds: "Tupac Shakur was without a doubt one of the most important artists of his generation, transforming culture through his music and ideas. 'Wake Me When I'm Free' honours Tupac's extraordinary contributions and I know I speak for the entire Interscope and Universal Music Group family that we are so proud to be able to collaborate with our partners to bring this incredible exhibit to life".
Yeah, well, you'll have to wait to find out if it's as good as they reckon. The exhibition will open on 21 Jan next year. Tickets will go on general sale on 12 Nov, but you can sign up for a pre-sale now. More info at wakemewhenimfree.com
Kassner Music has signed Reef to a worldwide publishing deal, covering their back catalogue and upcoming new album. "I'm THRILLED", says Brian Mahoney, Head of A&R at Kassner Music. "They're a great addition to the roster and I'm extremely excited for everyone to hear new Reef music".
Ingrooves in Australia has signed singer-songwriter Ziggy Alberts' Commonfolk Records up to a global distribution deal. "I can't wait to work with the wonderful team at Ingrooves", says Alberts. "I love all the different genres they distribute, and I'm excited to continue innovating and improving how we release music in an ever-changing industry". The first release under the deal will be Alberts' own new single, 'I Believe', which is out tomorrow.
Pepe Deluxé have launched a virtual 3D gallery going behind the scenes of their new album, 'Phantom Cabinet Vol 1'. It was created by Finnish design company Arilyn, whose founder Otso Kähönen says: "It has been extremely inspiring to stretch the limits of our new tools with Pepe Deluxé. This project is a perfect mix of art, music, history and storytelling, exactly what we love to do". Delve in here.
Alt-J have released new single 'Get Better', taken from their new album 'The Dream', which is out on 11 Feb. They've also announced UK tour dates in May next year. Tickets go on general sale on 12 Nov.
James Blake has released the video for 'Famous Last Words' from his' Friends That Break Your Heart' album.
Foxes is back with new single 'Sky Love', which, she says, is about "craving the kind of love that seems unimaginable, drives you crazy and is all consuming. A love that feels otherworldly and like nothing you've felt before". Her new album, 'The Kick', is out on 11 Feb.
Converge and Chelsea Wolfe have released another track from their upcoming collaborative album 'Bloodmoon: I'. This is 'Coil'.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has released the video for the title track of her new album 'Candy Racer'.
Sunn O))) have announced a new live album, recorded at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios, titled 'Metta, Benevolence. BBC 6Music: Live On The Invitation Of Mary Anne Hobbs'. It also features contributions from Anna Von Hauswolff, who was touring with the band at the time of the recording in 2019. Here's an excerpt from one of the tracks on the album, 'Troubled Air'.
Pongo has released a new rework of her first track 'Wegue Wegue', originally released back in 2008 on Buraka Som Sistema's 'Black Diamond' album. The release comes ahead of UK tour dates, which start this Friday in Manchester.
Emika has released 'Professional Loving X', a rework of of one of her early singles (later sampled by The Weeknd), which is taken from her upcoming tenth anniversary release, 'Vega'. "The song is about the illusion of love in a professional world where everything beautiful isn't real and no one can be truly trusted", she says.
Attawalpa has released new single 'Peter Gabriel's Dream', which is accompanied by a Lena Dunham-directed video. "In short, the song came to me in a dream", he says. "The song is about lots of things but mainly the search for creativity and the struggles that can come with that. Whether it be artistic or romantic, the struggle to get out of bed. But like Peter Gabriel in the 80s – once you're outta bed – the world is your oyster!"
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Iron Maiden to publish official colouring book
You may have long since tired of the rock jigsaw fad, but now Iron Maiden join the likes of Alice Cooper, Motorhead, Judas Priest and Megadeth in putting out colouring books. In theirs, you'll be able to while away your evenings plopping felt tip onto the artwork for classic albums such as 'Piece Of Mind', 'Powerslave' and 'The Number Of The Beast', as well as their latest LP, 'Senjutsu'.
Now, look, I know that mindful colouring's a whole thing and people find it very relaxing and beneficial for their mental health. And that's great. But I first encountered these album covers as a small child in the library and I found them terrifying back then.
Those albums seemed very out of place in a library's cassette section, where I was just trying to borrow the latest 'NOW' compilation. The idea that one day these images would be available as a colouring book would never have crossed my mind. Just as it hadn't until roughly ten minutes ago.
Whatever, this has happened now. The new book is available to pre-order ahead of its release next month. That's right, it will be available in time for Christmas. Why not get one for the metal fan in your life? Or slip it into an eight year old's stocking with the latest 'NOW' cassette.