|THURSDAY 28 APRIL 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The International Music Summit yesterday published its annual report on the dance and electronic music sector as part of its flagship IMS Ibiza event. The top line stat in that report was that on a global level the sector made a significant recovery in 2021 following the major impact of COVID in 2020, although - with a total valuation of $6 billion - the sector is still not back to 2019 levels... [READ MORE]|
IMS report details dance sector's post-COVID revival
The IMS report aggregates data relating to all the various revenue streams of the dance sector - including live and clubbing income - hence why its 2020 figures were so significantly hit by the pandemic. According to IMS's number crunching, in 2020 the dance sector's revenues slumped 54% to $3.4 billion. Last year's recovery equated to a 71% increase, but total revenues were still down on the $7.2 billion that IMS reckons the sector generated in 2019.
That's not especially surprising, of course. Although live and clubbing events did resume last year, there was still a chunk of 2021 where such events couldn't happen, and extra regulations were often still in force even when they could, with rules varying greatly around the world, but often hitting clubbing particularly hard. So although the revival of live and clubbing got underway last year, it certainly wasn't anything like a full revival.
Other revenue streams tracked by the report did see growth in 2021. Obviously we know that recorded music revenues across the board have continued to increase throughout the pandemic. In terms of the dance sector specifically, it obviously benefits from that general growth, although the extent to which it benefits depends on the popularity of electronic music on the streaming platforms.
Assessing that popularity in some of the biggest recorded music markets, IMS reports that electronic music grew its market share in the UK and Germany last year, while retaining its market share in the US and Canada. Where there's growth, in the main dance music is increasing its market share as rap and hip hop sees its share decline a little.
The dance sector is also benefiting from the new digital revenues that are emerging, including livestreaming and digital collectables, and all things NFT and metaverse. And, the IMS report notes, these are particularly important for the many dance acts with smaller but very loyal audiences, who don't usually do so well from Spotify-style streaming, but who can generate good income from these other online activities.
The report notes: "Streaming isn't working for all but a tiny number of artists. So, more than ever, we need to focus on building monetisable relationships with our audiences. In 2008, when Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired, outlined how artists need only 1000 true fans to make a living, it seemed like a tantalising but unachievable goal for many. The pandemic accelerated a number of initiatives that now make this aspiration achievable for many more artists".
NetEase accuses Tencent of infringing its intellectual property
It's generally been more common for digital music platforms in China to have exclusive rights over certain catalogues of music, either by signing exclusivity deals with record companies or by having direct relationships with artists.
The former approach has mainly been phased out after the Chinese competition regulator ordered Tencent - which had the most exclusivity deals with labels, especially in relation to global repertoire - to bring all such arrangements to an end. However, direct relationships between platforms and independent artists continue.
In a long statement published yesterday, NetEase accused Tencent of making music that it controls available without licence, employing sneaky tactics to avoid systems designed to stop such unofficial usage. It also claimed that Tencent - which operates a number of music services like QQ Music, Kuwo Music and Kugou Music - routinely creates 'imposter songs' linked to the tracks it controls, so similar sounding songs with similar or identical titles.
Aside from its grievances around actual music, NetEase also listed various ways in which it believes the different Tencent music apps have ripped off its app when evolving both functionality and look and feel.
NetEase then said that its rival had long pursued anti-competitive tactics of this kind to the detriment of both its music service and the wider digital music sector, but that such tactics had intensified over the last two years, forcing it to go public with its complaints.
It called on Tencent to "immediately stop these infringing acts", including by removing the unlicensed and imposter tracks from its services; to stop engaging in "unscrupulous unfair competition"; and to "immediately investigate violations of laws and regulations in each of its businesses, and suggest business ethics training for its employees".
Tencent is yet to respond.
Spotify reports subscriber growth despite Rogan and Russia, but share price drops to all time low
So, with premium subscriber numbers still in growth mode, why the further dip in a Spotify share price that has been pretty much declining for a year now? Well, those growth rates were lower than originally anticipated within the investment community, and the company's predictions for the next quarter were also down on what was previously expected.
Then there's the Netflix effect, with the video platform's recent confirmation that it actually saw a decline in user figures in the first quarter of the year making certain investors nervous about the premium digital content sector in general.
That nervousness is based on various factors, including the COVID-caused surge in demand for home entertainment coming to an end; the closure of the Russian market to global players; the ongoing increase in competition for consumer attention; and the rising cost of living impacting on what monies those consumers have available for fun times.
Aware of that Netflix effect, Spotify boss Daniel Ek was keen to distinguish his service from that service when talking to investors yesterday.
According to the FT, he remarked: "I think a lot of people are grouping us and Netflix together. Despite both being media companies and primarily subscription revenue companies, that's kind of where the similarities end for me. With Spotify we are a platform, Netflix is not. With Spotify we have a free service, Netflix does not ... it's vastly different businesses".
Ek is definitely right that there are plenty of differences between Spotify and Netflix, including - as he points out - that Spotify has a free tier and Netflix does not, or at least doesn't yet. And - with the exception of some exclusives in the podcast domain - Spotify doesn't really compete with its rivals on content in the way Netflix does with Amazon and Disney et al. Nor is it in direct competition with the companies that it is simultaneously trying to license content from.
Plus there's the active-to-passive consumption ratio - with passive consumption higher on music services than video services. And, arguably, people have more time available for passive consumption than active consumption, and fewer options available to fill that time.
Though that's not to say that Spotify isn't impacted by the factors outlined above. And in his analysis of Spotify and the wider digital content sector, Mark Mulligan from MIDiA notes that generally it's free services where the healthier growth figures are currently being seen. And while Spotify has its free tier, it makes the vast majority of its money from premium subscriptions. And the free tier is susceptible to any big wobbles in the advertising market, which could be incoming.
So make of that what you will. Though if you're still feeling optimistic about the long-term future of Spotify, it's probably a good time to buy some shares!
Tim Westwood leaves Capital Xtra following sexual misconduct allegations
In a statement yesterday, a spokesperson for Capital owner Global said: "Following the claims that have recently come to light, Tim Westwood has stepped down from his show until further notice".
Seven women made allegations against the hip hop DJ earlier this week, as part of a joint investigation by the BBC and The Guardian and in a BBC Three documentary. Three women said that the presenter pressured them into sex after agreeing to meet them to discuss their careers in music, while four others say that he groped them while posing for photos at events.
In a statement, a rep for Westwood said: "Tim Westwood strongly denies all allegations of inappropriate behaviour. In a career that has spanned 40 years, there have never been any complaints made against him officially or unofficially. Tim Westwood strongly rejects all allegations of wrongdoing".
Speaking to The Guardian, BBC boss Tim Davie said that the accusations were "shocking" and "appalling" and urged others to come forward, saying that "every complaint has to be taken seriously".
Davie, who was head of the BBC's radio output while Westwood was still working at the organisation, said that he had "seen no evidence" that any complaints had been made during the presenter's time working at Radio 1 and 1Xtra.
"It is shocking and the testimony of the women is powerful and appalling", said Davie. "I credit the BBC and Guardian teams for going after the story".
"I've seen no evidence of [earlier] complaints [to the BBC]", he went on. "I've asked and we looked at our records and we've seen no evidence. Every complaint has to be taken seriously. If anything comes up we will investigate it fully. If people have evidence where things weren't followed up or they have concern in this area bring it to us … we will follow up anything and we will dig and dig and dig. If people have got evidence of wrongdoing we need to bring it forward".
The seven women who came forward for the BBC and Guardian's existing investigation reportedly did so after Westwood denied accusations made via an anonymous Twitter account in 2020. It remains to be seen if further women will come forward now.
Bob Dylan re-records songs for T Bone Burnett's new hi-def physical audio format
Yes, you read that right, after decades of innovation in digital music, is it not time for a new analogue format? Surely if the vinyl revival tells us anything, it's that music fans want the opportunity to sell all their vinyl and replace it with something else that looks quite similar to vinyl. But definitely sounds better, according to Burnett.
"It is archival quality", he says of the new format. "It is future proof. It is one of one. Not only is an Ionic Original the equivalent of a painting, it is a painting. It is lacquer painted onto an aluminium disc, with a spiral etched into it by music. This painting, however, has the additional quality of containing that music, which can be heard by putting a stylus into the spiral and spinning it".
Confused? Well, get ready to have none of your questions answered. It's "one of one". Does that mean there will only be one copy of each release? It "can be heard by putting a stylus into the spiral and spinning it". Does that mean it will pay on a standard vinyl turntable?
The answer is probably no to both, but there is nothing definitive yet. All we're told is that these are "newly developed discs that advance the art of recorded sound and mark the first breakthrough in analogue sound reproduction in more than 70 years".
As for why the world might want or need this now, Burnett says: "When describing the quality that raises analogue sound above digital sound, the word 'warmth' is often used. Analogue sound has more depth, more harmonic complexity, more resonance, better imaging. Analogue has more feel, more character, more touch. Digital sound is frozen. Analogue sound is alive".
So, right, we know roughly what it is, but not exactly what it is. Similar to these new recordings with Bob Dylan. We know that Dylan has "revisited a personally chosen set of his iconic songs for the first time in decades". How many? Don't know. When will they be released? Don't know. Is it an EP, album or series of albums? You sure do ask a lot of questions, don't you?
Here's what we can be sure of though: T Bone Burnett's done a thing. Bob Dylan's done a thing with him for the thing. And there will be a thing or things to enjoy at some point in the very near, relatively near, or distant future.
Hatis Noit announces debut album Aura
As a live performer, Noit uses looping to build layers of vocal tracks, recreating her songs from scratch each night with immediate feedback from the audience. This is how she feels most comfortable making music, but for two years that option was completely cut off to her.
"During the pandemic, I really struggled", she says. "As a singer, I'm not very good at working on the computer. I much prefer doing live performances in physical spaces. Being with people, sharing the same space with them and feeling the atmosphere and energy of that moment, inspires me every time. To me, art is that - that shared moment".
Despite this reticence to make music in isolation, she eventually found that working on the music that became the album allowed her to process feelings of mortality brought up the pandemic. She explains: "We cannot live forever, do everything or be everywhere. But that makes our lives unique and invaluable. I wanted to be focused on our limitations and show how precious life is".
She tackles her own experience of this in the title track, 'Aura', recalling getting lost in a forest on the island of Hokkaido in Japan, where she was born.
"I felt as if I was close to my death", she says. "I could feel myself dissolving into and becoming a part of nature rather than just being an individual. This sense of awe and peace found there is always the place where I start making music from".
The album was recorded in Berlin, with Noit laying down her vocals in just eight hours. Thrown into lockdown again, the completion of the record was delayed. In that time, producer Robert Raths came up with the idea of playing back the album in a church and recording the sound within that space, bringing the final version closer to Noit's live performances.
"It was almost like a miracle when Robert came up with the idea", she says. "That was the moment that changed everything for the album as the physical space with its organic ambience brought everything to life".
'Aura', the album, is set for release on 24 Jun. You can listen to 'Aura', the single, here.
Music credits database Jaxsta has promoted Beth Appleton to CEO, as founder Jacqui Louez-Schoorl focuses on other activities at the company. "Jacqui and I are magnificent business partners and friends", says Appleton. "This change allows Jacqui to focus on the Jaxsta product and our community relations and I can then drive the management and operation of the company with my experience and connections, so together we can power each other and the success of Jaxsta going forward".
The Wanted have released 'Gold Forever (For Tom)' in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity. The new version of the 2012 song was originally recorded for late band member Tom Parker's memorial service.
Neneh Cherry has announced a new compilation of covers of her songs, called 'The Versions', which will be released on 10 Jun. Following Robyn's recently released cover of 'Buffalo Stance', now a new version of 'Manchild' recorded by Sia has been shared. Other artists on the covers album include Anohni, Greentea Peng, Sudan Archives and Seinabo Sey.
Arcade Fire have released the latest track from their upcoming 'We' album, 'Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)'.
Superorganism have expanded their new single 'Crushed.zip'. "It's a musical journey through the anxieties and isolation that can arise from being an artist, it's ultimately delicious though", says the band's Harry.
Angel Olsen has released 'Big Time', the second single from her upcoming new album of the same name.
James Righton has released new single 'Empty Rooms', featuring none other than Abba's Benny Andersson. "He's never done anything like this before", Righton says of Andersson. "I nervously sent him the track and a couple of days later he sent back this keyboard line which was perfect".
Aluna and Jayda G have teamed up for new single 'Mine O Mine'. "This track was pure inspiration in the moment, myself and Jayda started with nothing and built the production, melody and lyrics from scratch, just following our thoughts and feelings about having pulled through 2021 and looking forward to 2022", says Aluna.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs has shared 'Crosswalk', the second single from his upcoming album 'When the Lights Go', which is out in July.
JWestern has released new single 'More Than Friends'.
GIGS & TOURS
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu will play EartH in London on 25 Nov. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
The Wiggles call Lil Nas X's bluff on tour offer
"Trying really hard to get The Wiggles to co-headline the tour with me", Lil Nas X tweeted yesterday. "I will keep you guys updated".
Now, assuming that you don't have children - or at least not ones who have discovered the delights of Australian kids' TV - then I shall try my best to explain The Wiggles to you.
Formed in 1991, they are a group of four people, each wearing a different coloured jumper, who sing a mixture of nursery rhymes and original songs. They cover subjects such as potatoes, how great they are at music, and the big red car they own.
Field is now the only original member of the group, which has seen a number of line-up changes over the years, as well as one marriage and divorce. Alongside the music, they've also made numerous TV shows, films and have a gruelling tour schedule.
Oh, and they bring in tens of millions of dollars a year. While Lil Nas X is presumably trolling conservative America - again - with the suggestion that he might be seen anywhere near some children's entertainers, touring with them would probably be quite a shrewd move for any artist.
It's not the first time Lil Nas X has joked about working with The Wiggles. Back in 2020, he claimed that the group had remixed his song 'Rodeo'. And, you know what, it's not too late Wiggles.
With or without The Wiggles, Lil Nas X's world tour begins in the US in September, arriving in Europe in November. He'll play a UK show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London on 12 Nov.