|THURSDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Cross sector trade group UK Music has published its annual report on the economic impact of the British music industry. As expected, the stats show that while the music sector started to recover in 2021 after the COVID-caused slump in 2020, it was only a partial recovery, with the live sector in particular still affected by the pandemic throughout last year... [READ MORE]|
UK Music stats show partial recovery for music sector in 2021, but more government support needed
So while the so called gross value added for the UK music industry was up 26% year-on-year in 2021, rising from £3.1 billion to £4 billion, that's still 31% down on the pre-pandemic GVA of £5.8 billion in 2019. Similarly, while the number of people working in music in 2021 was up 14% on 2020, reaching 145,000, that's still down 26% on the pre-COVID workforce of 197,000.
A similar pattern is seen in the value of UK music exports. Those rose in 2021 to £2.5 billion - up 10% on the £2.3 billion figure in 2020 - but still down 15% on the £2.9 billion seen in 2019.
Of course, it's no secret that it was the live side of the industry that suffered the most from the COVID-19 pandemic. The recorded music sector continued to grow throughout on the back of the ongoing streaming boom, and while songwriters and publishers were hit by their songs not being performed during the lockdowns, growing digital revenues reduced the negative impact on the music publishing side to an extent.
But on the live side, while 2021 wasn't as bad as 2020, the pandemic still had a major impact on the sector. Various lockdowns throughout the year meant venues were closed and festivals cancelled for many months, and even once restrictions started to lift around the UK during the summer, things couldn't get properly back to normal.
First, international travel restrictions still applied, making it harder for British artists to tour abroad and for international acts to play in the UK. And shows were regularly cancelled because artists and/or crew members had tested positive for COVID.
Plus many consumers were not ready to return to gigs and events, and by the end of the year, as the omicron variant spiked, the UK government was basically telling people to stay at home even though technically venues could open and shows could go ahead.
Many of those challenges have slowly gone away this year, so you'd expect the economic impact figures for 2022 to show further growth on 2021. Though, of course, new challenges have popped up along the way.
A two year backlog of shows resulted in a super saturated marketplace over the summer, while not all consumers are necessarily attending shows and events at 2019 levels yet, partly because of ongoing COVID concerns, and partly because of the cost of living crisis.
Meanwhile, venues and promoters are facing surging operating costs and often struggling to find enough crew to run the shows, while artists touring in Europe are having to tackle lots of new post-Brexit bureaucracy.
So, from a UK Music perspective, while the 2021 figures are more positive than the stats for 2020 - and the economic impact of the sector this year will certainly be stronger still - the music community still needs additional support from the government. And it's UK Music's job to ask for support, of course.
Says UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin: "The UK music industry is working hard to recover after the catastrophic impact of COVID-19, but there is still some way to go to restore the jobs and growth lost during the pandemic. Our sector still faces a serious threat from the economic storm that could blow our fragile recovery off course without urgent government support".
"It's vital that government acts to protect and support a sector that creates jobs, contributes to the economy and matters to millions of people across our country", he goes on.
With a new Prime Minister in place and an emergency budget statement due from the government on Friday, Njoku-Goodwin has plenty of suggestions regarding what support the sector could and should now receive.
"The new Prime Minister has said she wants to cut taxes to stimulate growth", he notes. "If she is serious about this, then she should use the emergency budget to reduce the tax burden on the music industry, for instance, by extending the hugely successful creative industry tax reliefs to the music industry".
"This would incentivise investment and boost exports of British music, which are at risk due to increasing international competition and issues following the UK's exit from the European Union", he goes on.
In recent months, of course, a top priority for the UK music community in terms of government support was some kind of scheme to mitigate the impact of surging energy costs. Such a scheme has been announced since Liz Truss became PM, with a cap being introduced on energy prices for business customers for the first time, more details of which were published earlier this week.
"We welcome the government's announcement to combat the impact of soaring energy bills, which will give music businesses some urgently needed support", Njoku-Goodwin states.
But, like reps for the night-time and live sectors, while that scheme is welcome, the UK Music boss stresses that it is only currently in place for six months, and that it only tackles one of the financial challenges venues, clubs, studios and other music businesses face.
With that in mind, he adds: "We need clarity about what happens after that support is withdrawn after six months. And we still need to see more assistance to secure our sector's long-term recovery, including a significant cut in VAT from its current rate of 20% - something the government did in the pandemic to support the music sector".
In addition to all that, Njoku-Goodwin also has a copyright request to add to UK Music's polite and punchy wish list - or big bucket of demands if you prefer. And that relates to the recent statement from the UK government regarding copyright reform in relation to the development of artificial intelligence.
"It is also essential that government recognises the importance of copyright to the creative sector and takes steps to protect intellectual property rights", he continues. "Proposals by the previous government to allow AI companies a copyright exception for text and data mining are an existential threat to our sector and must be stopped. These plans constitute a green light to music laundering and the whole industry is united in urging the government to scrap them".
Concluding, Njoku-Goodwin reminds Truss and her new team that pre-pandemic the UK had a leading music industry in global terms, and that the UK government spent quite a lot of money supporting music businesses during the pandemic, which was good. But, he reckons, further support is now essential for the UK music sector to return to its former glory and to ensure a good return on the government's mid-pandemic investments.
"We have a music industry in the UK that is the envy of the world and a talent pipeline that continues to produce global stars and an army of highly skilled professionals", he says. "It is vital that the government works with us to protect and nurture the music industry from the economic turbulence we face so we can pull through and create the jobs and investment to make it even stronger than it was before the pandemic".
You can download UK Music's new report - called 'This Is Music 2022' - right about here.
Robert Kyncl named CEO of Warner Music Group
There had been speculation that Kyncl would take up the WMG CEO role after it emerged last month that he was stepping down as YouTube's Chief Business Officer after twelve years with the Google company. Then last week it was reported that he was indeed in talks with Warner.
"Robert is the right CEO to meet this moment", says Len Blavatnik, Chair of Access Industries, the major's biggest shareholder. "His command of technology to serve creativity will unlock new opportunities at scale for artists, songwriters and their teams. He sees over the horizon to find ways to make world-class entertainment accessible for all".
"It would be difficult to overstate our gratitude to Steve for all his expertise and hard work", he goes on. "He has done an exceptional job driving the company from decline to growth and spearheading its 2020 IPO. He has established a strong management team and culture, and his tenure at WMG will benefit the music ecosystem for years to come".
Kyncl himself adds: "Music is an incredible creative force, with an unmatched ability to bring emotions, build communities and propel change. We're just at the beginning of what's possible in recognising music's true power, value and reach. Thanks to Steve and his team, WMG is very well positioned for a future of serving artists and songwriters, as well as their fans".
Name checking some of his new colleagues at Warner, he goes on: "I'm looking forward to partnering with Max [Lousada], Guy [Moot], Carianne [Marshall] and all of the company's leadership, and I thank WMG's board of directors, Len, and Steve, for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at this iconic company".
Welcoming his replacement, Cooper comments: "Robert is a fantastic choice for CEO. He's a hugely talented executive who'll bring dynamic energy to WMG and the music entertainment business. He'll have world-class partners in WMG's senior management and global team".
"I'm very proud of all we've accomplished together", he adds, "attracting and nurturing amazing artists and songwriters, while leading the industry in the use of new technologies and the expansion into emerging markets. After a smooth handover with Robert is complete, I'm looking forward to becoming a full-time fan of the best team in the business".
That kind of suggests he's only a part-time fan of the company he leads at the moment. He'll have to wait a little bit before he can enjoy going full-time in terms of his WMG fandom, though.
As of 1 Jan 2023, he and Kyncl will become co-CEOs of the company. There will then be a transition period that will stretch all the way - for a whole full month - to 31 Jan. Then, once February comes around, Kyncl will get the CEO desk all to himself. He'll also take up Cooper's seat on the board of directors.
RIAA stats confirm 9% growth in US recorded music market so far this year
Why the good times? Because of the ongoing streaming boom of course! The number of paying subscribers to streaming services in the US is up to 90 million, with revenues at said services up 10% to a nice and neat $5 billion. All the different streaming services together now account for 84% of recorded music revenues. Though vinyl revenues were up 22% in the first half of the year too, ensuring that physical products still account for 10% of the market overall.
Pessimists might point out that a year ago the RIAA was bragging about retail revenue increases of 27% and wholesale revenue increases of 25%. But still, the biggest recorded music market in the world is still in growth and optimists reckon that, with a slowly diversifying digital music market - and new kinds of digital music services and digital services that use music increasing in importance - there is still lots more growth potential, even once subscription streaming starts to reach market saturation.
So, what to make of all this? Well, says RIAA boss Mitch Glazier, these results "reflect the incredible creative and commercial partnerships artists and labels have forged that have powered another extremely successful half year". And "today's report is good news for artists, songwriters, streaming services and fans - everyone with a stake in music's future. We truly are seeing the power of recorded music's rising tide to lift all boats across the music family".
So, that's one way to respond to the latest RIAA stats. But, you know, you should all respond in whatever way you feel is appropriate. To help with that, we've identified ten possible responses you could go with. Feel free to pick any of them! Or maybe mix and match for extra fun.
1. Woo! More growth! More money! What an amazing time to be in the business of recorded music!
2. Oh dear, those growth rates are down aren't they? That's a worry. Basically we're all fucked!
3. And they said the vinyl revival was a short-term bubble! They're idiots! Fucking idiots I tell you!
4. With all that money slushing around the record industry, why are so many artists broke? That's weird isn't it?
5. If you think these stats are impressive, just wait until the Web3 revolution has unfolded! Everyone's gonna be a billionaire, honest!
6. Come on record labels, look at all that cash, can't you ALL start paying modern royalty rates to heritage acts?
7. Sync's still only 2% everybody! Stop exaggerating the value of sync everybody! And it's 'sync' not 'synch'!
8. I know I keep talking about the diversifying digital market and all that - but blimey, it's still all about premium subscriptions at the moment isn't it? 78% of streaming income! And that's not including nonsense like Amazon Prime and Pandora Plus.
9. Yeah, yeah, well done everybody, but we all know the record industry is only doing this well because of the continued undervaluation of the songs. Come on, let's give that digital pie a big old re-slice! Why won't someone - anyone - think of the songwriters?!
10. Whose still buying all these downloads? I mean, it's only 3% of the market, but that's still a lot of downloads!
HMV launches 1921 Records, signs India Arkin
Arkin was apparently spotted when she played an in-store at HMV in Newcastle earlier this year, and is described as a cross between Laura Marling and Billie Eilish. That in-store performance was part of the music retailer's Live & Local programme, which has seen more than 1000 grassroots artists play in HMV shops since the start of the year.
The musician's debut album, 'Home Truths', is set to be released as part of HMV's National Album Day activity on 15 Oct. The theme of this year's event being debut releases, it's all very apt, see?
"I'm THRILLED to be releasing my debut album with 1921 Records, and it's almost unbelievable that gigs in the store in HMV Newcastle would lead to this", says Arkin. "I can't wait to see my record on the shelves and tour the country performing with my band".
HMV boss Doug Putman adds: "India's music is absolutely incredible and we're THRILLED to make her our first 1921 Records signing. She has such passion for her craft, and she's a true musician who writes, plays instruments and performs".
"We're really proud of our HMV Live & Local programme, which sees artists like India given the same platform as the international artists who come to our stores, like Charli XCX and Yungblud", he adds. "India's performances in Newcastle got rave reviews from our staff and led to her being signed today".
"With our new label, we want to do what we can to help debut artists make their mark in a tough industry", he goes on. "Streaming algorithms mean it's hard for new artists to get their voices heard, so we're giving them the chance to get their albums in our stores where music fans can discover them for themselves".
If you thought that this was the last you'd ever hear of this new label by the way, it appears that you're very, very wrong. Putman concludes: "This is just the beginning for 1921 Records - it's our mission to get more fantastic albums by debut artists into the homes of music fans. HMV is leading the way in the vinyl revival, so it makes sense for us to create our own label and promote the music we know our shoppers care about".
Is it? Does it? I don't know. But it's all happening. Who will next be plucked from between the shelves at an HMV store and then have their music placed on the shelves? We just don't know. But there are going to be plenty of opportunities to become the label's next signing. On National Album Day alone there are going to be more than 100 performances in HMV stores. What fun.
Festicket formally falls into administration
This isn't a surprise, given another recent filing which stated that the company's board had "resolved on 29 Aug that the company should enter administration proceedings and that a Notice Of Intention To Appoint Administrators be filed".
Then clients of Event Genius, a provider of various ticketing tools that was acquired by Festicket back in 2019, received an update telling them that talks were underway to sell many of its assets to US-based ticketing tech business Lyte, while the Event Genius company itself was being wound up.
That update added: "We are in a process to wind down the existing business, which includes the appointment of an administrator to determine what monies will be on-hand to pay out unsecured creditors and promoter obligations. You will be hearing more on that process from us soon".
It seems likely that the disruption caused by the COVID pandemic and the resulting shutdown of live music ultimately proved too challenging for the wider Festicket business - which specialised in selling special packages around festivals and music events, and which also operated Ticket Arena, another consumer-facing ticketing service it acquired alongside Event Genius in 2019.
It remains to be seen to what extent Festicket falling into administration impacts on other players in the live sector. Though it could be quite a significant impact, given that a number of venues and events that used the company's services have already expressed concern about monies they are owed, ie the cash that Festicket received by selling tickets to their events which is yet to be handed over.
Bristol club Motion recently wrote on Facebook: "As you may know from purchasing tickets through our website, Festicket and Ticket Arena were our ticketing partners for Motion and have been for the last six years. Our event partners and Motion are owed in excess of £300,000 due to not receiving payments for tickets sold through their platforms".
As for why the collapse of Festicket could result in Motion and its partners losing money, its statement went on: "Once the ticketing company has deducted their booking fees, the remaining ticket money should be held in a client account and therefore not touched. However, despite this, we are now being told that key assets are being sold off and the debt stands to be 'liquidated'".
Speaking to Access All Areas, Ben Street from Wild Paths and the Wild Fields Festival expanded on that latter point, stating: "This company has had a huge impact on the future of a number of independent event organisers and there is currently no resolution in sight".
"Their clients' money should have been held 'in trust' but it appears this was not the case", he added. "Instead, assets have been stripped and sold onto a large American buyer. The debt remains with the gutted shell company - currently in administration - with big question marks over any sort of fair remuneration".
In a more recent post on Facebook, Motion wrote: "The funds we are due, quite simply, should not have been moved from the holding account, as Festicket does not pay VAT on this money due to client account regulations with them acting as a merchant. If the money has been spent they have defrauded us, the customers and they have also defrauded the government".
"We are calling on the government to take charge of the situation", they added, "freeze the sale of any assets and conduct a full investigation under the Companies Act 2006 - before any self-appointed insolvency practitioners take action".
We now await a statement for Festicket's newly appointed administrators.
Later… to hold 30th anniversary party in Hammersmith
"It's unbelievable that this year sees my show reach its 30th birthday", says Holland. "It's a testament to the great power of music that we are still going strong, and are now the longest-running international music show on earth. I'm delighted and honoured that we're going to celebrate this monumental milestone with a special one off event in the fabulous Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, the scene of so many legendary musical moments".
The show's Executive Producer Alison Howe adds: "'Later…' reaching its 30th birthday is testament to Jools, all the incredible musicians who have supported us and our crew, whose love and commitment of showcasing live music for the audience is unmatched. With our upcoming series, this special show and our 30th annual 'Hootenanny', it's going to be an incredible three months of live music".
Don't get distracted by word of another 'Hootenanny'. The 30th anniversary show is something different. There's no word yet on when it will take place, nor when it will be broadcast, but tickets will go on sale this Friday at 10am.
Camila Cabello has left Sony Music's Epic label for a new deal with Universal Music's Interscope, according to Variety.
Emiliana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra have signed to Bella Union to release their new album 'Racing The Storm' next year. From that very album, right here is new single 'Right Here'.
Universal Music owned distributor Ingrooves has promoted Cris Garcia Falcão to Managing Director LATAM and Nina Rabe-Cairns to Managing Director APAC. "Cris and Nina have played pivotal roles in our ongoing investment and successful expansion into important new music markets", says interim CEO Jeff Cuatto. "The expansion of their duties recognises their entrepreneurial drive, knowledge, and deep relationships within the regions they oversee".
EDUCATION & EVENTS
Warner Music and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation will hold a music careers event in Belfast at the city's Oh Yeah Music Centre this Saturday, as part of their ongoing scheme to help young people from working class and minority communities into the music industry. Speakers will include Warner Music UK CEO Tony Harlow, Atlantic Records UK EVP Austin Daboh and BBC presenter Phil Taggart.
The 1975 have released new single 'All I Need To Hear'. Their new album, 'Being Funny In A Foreign Language', is out on 14 Oct.
Broken Bells have released new seven minute power ballad 'Love On The Run'. The duo's first album in eight years, 'Into The Blue', is out on 7 Oct.
Jamie XX has released new single 'Kill Dem'. "I started making it at a time when we weren't sure when we were going to be able to do stuff", he says. "I was looking forward to the day when I could get back to what I love. It was one of those ones that happens quite instantly and that's kind of rare for me these days. It happened within almost a day".
Daniel Avery has released new track 'Wall Of Sleep' featuring Haai. "In many ways 'Wall Of Sleep' defines the aesthetic of the whole album", he says. That album, 'Ultra Truth', is out on 4 Nov.
Alice Glass has released new single 'Lips Apart'.
Floating Points has released new single 'Problems'. He's also announced that he'll play The Warehouse Project in Manchester on 19 Nov, and an open-to-close headline set at Here in London on New Year's Day.
FaltyDL has released two new tracks: 'God Light', featuring Joe Goddard, and 'Berlin'. "'God Light' is about doing the work to better yourself, however difficult it may be, and 'Berlin' is about going on tour, getting high, being Jewish, anxious and transcending your own identity", he says. "It's also about the constant ebb and flow of one's ego. The ability to be your own critic and cheerleader at the same time". His new album, 'A Nurse To My Patience', is out on 11 Nov.
Nilüfer Yanya has released a cover of PJ Harvey's 'Rid Of Me', which is - as you would expect - very good. She's also announced that she will be supporting Roxy Music on the UK leg of their 50th anniversary tour.
Elkka has released new single 'I Just Want To Love You', which samples John Martyn's 'Small Hours'. "At the heart of it, I hope it will be a soundtrack for everyone and anyone to have the freedom to express their love - whether it's romantic, between friends, or a mother and daughter", she says. "Everyone deserves to be loved".
Anna B Savage is back with 'The Ghost', her first new music since last year's 'These Dreams' EP. "Exhausted from years of being haunted by an ex-partner, this song is a plea to let go, or be let go of", she says. "Exploring the particular cruelty of the human brain, that love can be felt so deeply, hurt so essentially and so much, and still feel so present many years later".
GIGS & TOURS
Stealing Sheep have announced UK tour dates in November, finishing up at Oslo in London on 30 Nov.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Doja Cat making rave album. No, R&B. No, jazz. No, rock. Who knows?
It's actually going to be R&B, she explained. Not really, she then added, it's actually "experimental jazz". Then, promising that she was now "being serious", she said that it will actually be "a rock album" filled with "emo jams". She's going to learn to play guitar for it and everything. So that's all cleared up now.
But let's recap how we got here shall we? Getting rumours of the sound of her next LP started, Doja Cat said in a recent interview with CR Fashion Book: "I'm very into this 90s German rave kind of vibe right now and it's really fun".
"I know that's kind of the trend at the moment but I loved that stuff as a kid", she went on, "and now that I can express it - obviously, I couldn't buzz my head and wear a furry bra and have a belly button piercing back then - I'm sort of embracing that. That's kind of a hint to the album. Rave culture, not house".
Having left plenty of time for that quote to travel around the internet several times, she then told fans on Twitter yesterday: "I'm not doing a German rave culture album you guys, I was pranking the outlet that interviewed me about it".
That, of course, contradicts something else she had previously said about the album, having told Elle earlier this year that it would be "predominantly rap".
But forget all that, because it's not going to be an R&B album. "Y'all I was lying", came her next tweet. "I'm doing an experimental jazz album. I thought it would be funny to steer you into believing I was doing R&B cuz I knew it would work but I'm doing experimental jazz now, honest truth".
"Joke, it's R&B", she then clarified. There will be rap, but "there's only gonna be one rap verse on it though and it's gonna be eight bars". That verse, she added, will be on "the 34th song off the deluxe" version.
After a fan then pointed out that the deluxe vinyl would have to be several discs long to fit at least 34 tracks, she added that "there is no side A or side B", insisting that "the album will have eight sides and will come in a cube shape".
Don't spend too long trying to get your head around any of this though. It turned out all that was also part of a joke. Tiring of all this trolling, she then posted a voice note, explaining her real plans for the new album.
"I'm so tired of playing around on Twitter", she said. "I'm being serious now, you guys. We gotta cut the shit. No more hullabaloo. I am putting out an album - and this time I'm being serious, it's not gonna be a cube shape, obviously I was joking about that. This time I'm being serious. I am putting out a rock album".
"It's going to have emo jams", she went on. "The name of the album is "Rock Out Volume 1 - The Abyss 5000'. So, keep on the look out for that".
"I will be dying my hair", she added. Although before you point out that she recently shaved her head, she elucidated: "Whatever I have on my head will be a wig - I'll be dying it various colours and wearing lots of plaid".
"I am entering a rock phase and I hope everyone enjoys [it]", she continued. "I'm gonna get real rocky for everyone. We're gonna rock out and get real rocky on stage. I'm gonna jam, I'm gonna spit flames from my mouth on stage".
"Another thing", she went on, "I'm gonna learn how to play guitar as well. I'm not going to be a phoney poser".
How authentic will her guitar playing be? Well, she added: "I'm going to learn how to play acoustic AND ukulele".
Yeah, you're right, I think she might have pranked us again. Well, the joke's on her, because I would listen hard to any one of those fake albums. So much so that I'm now worried that the real record will be something of a disappointment.