|WEDNESDAY 26 OCTOBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: As expected, Adidas yesterday formally cut its ties with Kanye West, announcing it was ending production of all the Yeezy branded products it has made via its partnership with the rapper... [READ MORE]|
Adidas confirms it is terminating its Kanye West partnership with immediate effect
West's relationships with some of his business partners in the fashion domain were already deteriorating before his recent spate of controversial and anti-semitic statements.
Adidas, which has been working with West since 2013 - with the first trainers under the Adidas Yeezy brand being launched in 2015 - announced it was reviewing its long-standing partnership with the rapper earlier this month.
The sportswear firm's current deal with West was reportedly due to run through to 2026, but yesterday it confirmed it was terminating the partnership with immediate effect. This follows West's recent claim in a controversial Drink Champs interview that "I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can't drop me".
"Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech", the company said in a statement. "Ye's recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company's values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness".
"After a thorough review", it went on, "the company has taken the decision to terminate the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. Adidas will stop the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect".
The Adidas Yeezy venture was very profitable for both the sportswear brand and the rapper, and as a result the decision to abruptly end the partnership will have a sizeable impact on Adidas, in the short term at least.
Its statement concluded yesterday: "This [decision] is expected to have a short-term negative impact of up to 250 million euros on the company's net income in 2022 given the high seasonality of the fourth quarter. Adidas is the sole owner of all design rights to existing products as well as previous and new colorways under the partnership. More information will be given as part of the company's upcoming quarterly earnings announcement on 9 Nov".
The end of the Adidas Yeezy alliance will also be costly for West as well, of course. Indeed, according to Forbes, which likes to monitor these things, it will lose the rapper his status as a billionaire. Meanwhile, with so many corporates keen to distance themselves from West at the moment, his rumoured ambitions to launch his own fashion retail chain might be hard to achieve.
Back in the music industry, both Universal Music and Sony Music have been keen to play down their respective connections with West, stressing that they are no longer working with the rapper on new music projects, their previous deals having ended in the last year or so.
West previously worked with Universal's Def Jam division on his own music and his Good Music label, and also had a tie up with the major's merchandise business Bravado. However, Def Jam was not involved in the release of West's most recent album 'Donda 2'.
A spokesperson for Universal Music told Billboard: "Def Jam's relationship with Ye as a recording artist, Def Jam's partnership with the Good Music label venture and Ye's merchandise agreement with Bravado all ended in 2021. There is no place for antisemitism in our society. We are deeply committed to combating antisemitism and every other form of prejudice".
Meanwhile, Sony Music Publishing has stressed internally that its most recent deal with West expired earlier this year. It does still administer the songs published under that deal though and - according to the terms of the deal - will continue to do so for a certain time period.
However, it's been confirmed that Sony is only the administrator and not the owner of those copyrights, which means it was possibly West himself who was recently trying to sell his songs catalogue, despite his denial of those rumours.
According to Billboard, in an internal memo to employees, Sony stated: "At Sony Music Group, commitment to tolerance, inclusion and equality for all are at the heart of who we are as a company. Consistent with these values, we denounce antisemitism. Through our partnership with the UJA Federation, we work to combat prejudice against the Jewish community".
Of course, music released and published by Universal and Sony continues to earn money for both the rapper and his former business partners - and, so far, the various West controversies don't seem to have had much of a negative impact on how much his tracks are streamed.
Despite most music companies being keen to distance themselves from West and his recent remarks at the moment, many in the music industry would likely see any proposal that the rapper's musical output be taken offline as a step too far. Instead, leave it to the fans to decide whether West's controversial statements are grounds for not listening to his music any more.
Any active censorship or consumer-led slump in listening of West's music would also obviously impact on the many other artists and producers who have collaborated with the rapper over the years. Though one long-time collaborator of West's - audio and mixing engineer Andrew Dawson - has announced that he plans to make donations from his royalties to organisations that support the groups and communities that the rapper has targeted in his recent statements.
Although not specifically mentioning the West controversies, Dawson wrote on Instagram: "I have a resumé I am proud of that represents decades of supporting the voices, visions, and creativity of talented artists. However, recent events compel me to be a supporter of more important voices at this time".
He added: "To support those voices, I will be making donations from my royalties to the ADL, NAACP, as well as Jewish and civil rights organisations. Two donations have already been made".
Music Venue Trust unveils music industry supporters of Own Our Venues initiative
Launched back in May, that initiative is attempting to raise £3.5 million to buy up nine music venues around the UK. The MVT says that currently 93% of British music venues rent their premises, and that this "underpins almost every other challenge" currently being faced by those businesses - including rising costs, licensing issues, and problems resulting from the gentrification of areas where grassroots venues are often based.
Via this initiative, ownership of the buildings that house the nine venues would go to a charitable community benefit society called Music Venue Properties, safeguarding the long-term future of those performance spaces. It's that entity that is actually raising the cash by selling community shares through ethical investment specialists Ethex and a crowdfunding campaign.
Ed Sheeran recently pledged his support for the Own Our Venues scheme, and today a number of music companies have confirmed their backing, including Sony Music, Warner Music, Ticketmaster and TVG Hospitality, alongside music industry organisations like Help Musicians, MMF, PPL and LIVE.
Sony Music UK CEO Jason Iley says: "Everyone can remember where they were and who they were with when they saw their favourite artist for the first time".
"These venues are where it all starts and are the jumping off point for artists who go from local venues to headlining festivals and having long and successful careers", he continues. "Sony Music is delighted to back the Own Our Venues campaign to help provide local music venues with more stability so that they can thrive - for the good of artists, fans and local communities".
Meanwhile, Warner Music UK CEO Tony Harlow adds: "Britain's grassroots music venues are an essential part of our musical history and future. Warner Music UK is pleased to be partnering with the Music Venue Trust to help fund this project. We hope it'll make a real difference to artists, fans and communities across the UK".
Confirming the mounting industry support for Own Our Venues, MVT CEO Mark Davyd says: "I don't want to keep walking in and out of people's offices for the next decade begging for short term cash because this or that beloved venue is under threat of closure".
"With our Own Our Venues initiative Music Venue Trust has created a real, long term, deliverable solution to the challenges facing grassroots music venues, and we are delighted that its value is being recognised by leading voices in our industry across every sector", he goes on. "We have a thriving music industry that has survived and is thriving despite a major pandemic, and our job is to ensure the grassroots music venue sector isn't left behind".
DEAG acquires Irish ticketing platform
The deal was done through DEAG's UK subsidiary MyTicket Services and will see Tickets.ie operate alongside DEAG's existing ticketing sites, MyTicket and Gigantic.com.
"Ticketing is DEAG's fastest growing business area and an important earnings driver", says the firm's CEO Peter Schwenkow. "Especially after the corona pandemic has subsided, we are experiencing a massive increase in demand for tickets for physical events".
"We already have a strong international market position with our own platforms and are now expanding our position further", he goes on. "The ticketing market in Ireland is also showing strong growth rates. With MyTicket.ie, we have a strong independent third-party content platform here that is an excellent complement to our ticketing portfolio".
Founder and MD of Oshi Software, John O'Neill, adds: "We see this deal with DEAG, [its UK promoter] Kilimanjaro and [its Irish promoter] Singular Artists as bringing our relationship to the next level, of partnership and collaboration. That, to us, is very appealing and exhilarating as we'll be working closely with them to ensure that all their great artists reach the maximum audience possible".
O'Neill remains a minority shareholder in Oshi Software and will continue to manage the company long-term.
Spotify boss says subscription price rises in US are being considered
Apple announced earlier this week that it is increasing the monthly subscription price for its Apple Music service in key markets, so that the headline price will increase from 9.99 to 10.99. Spotify has already instigated some price increases in some markets, although more commonly around things like the family plan rather than the headline subscription price.
Many in the music industry have been calling for price increases across the streaming sector for some time. In most markets the headline price hasn't changed since the launch of services like Spotify in the 2000s, which means - once inflation is taken into account - prices have been falling each year.
And, for the music industry, streaming is ultimately a revenue share game, so lower prices mean the music community at large earns less money.
Of course, price increases also benefit the services, as their cut of the digital pie goes up too, so investors in the streaming firms are generally pro higher subscription fees as well. Though the services have nevertheless been nervous about price hikes to date.
That's partly because all the music streaming set-ups basically have the same catalogue, so there is a risk some consumers will immediately switch to a rival platform where they can get the same music at a lower price. Plus many of the services - and especially Spotify - continue to prioritise subscriber base growth over everything else, and discounting and bundling have been key tactics for achieving that growth.
Ek spoke about price increases yesterday, Spotify putting out its latest financial report for investors the day after Apple's price increases were announced. YouTube has also instigated a price increase for its main premium service, though in most markets only on family plans.
"When our competitors are raising their prices, that is really good for us", Ek told investors, while also noting that Spotify has raised some of its subscription prices in recent years. He added that an increase of the headline price in a market like the US "is one of the things we would like to do and it's something we will [review] with our label partners. I feel good about this upcoming year, and what it means about pricing for our service".
Elsewhere in Spotify's latest quarterly report, it was confirmed that premium subscriber numbers are up to 195 million, while the platform's total userbase, including all the freeloaders, is now at 456 million. Revenues for the last quarter were above expectations, though the company's gross margin was lower than expected while its losses were higher than anticipated. So a mixed bag then.
But what does Ek make of all the recent Kanye West controversies? That's what people really wanted to know, right? Will he be removing West's music from the Spotify platform? No. He will not. Not unless the rapper's label removes it. If West's recent "awful comments" were in his lyrics, that might be another matter, Ek said, as that would likely violate Spotify's content policies.
However, they are not in his lyrics. So, according to Reuters, Ek concluded: "His music doesn't violate our policy. It's up to his label if they want to take action or not".
Annie Nightingale to again put the spotlight on three rising DJ talents
The three chosen DJs will appear on a special edition of Nightingale's Radio 1 show on Saturday 5 Nov, and they are Jessica Audiffred from Mexico, VTSS from Poland, and UK-based Kyrist.
Commenting on the initiative, called the Annie Nightingale Presents Scholarship, Nightingale says: "I really admire females who don't give up no matter what. DJs need musical knowledge, technical ability, and resilience. It may sound glamorous but it can be extremely gruelling at times and women still experience sexism within the industry. I am proud to bring these talented, resilient and gutsy women to the forefront and give them a national platform to showcase their talents".
Meanwhile, Head Of Radio 1 Aled Haydn Jones adds: "I'm THRILLED to be celebrating the second year of this incredibly important initiative that uplifts and supports new DJing talent. I can't wait to hear what this year's recipients bring to the show".
Craig David pens love song to the planet (and trains)
The track - called 'Better Days (I Came By Train)' - is part of a partnership between David and Trainline to push the rail ticketing app's I Came By Train campaign. That initiative is trying to convince people to take journeys by train rather than car more frequently, in a bid to cut their carbon emissions. And, presumably, also book their tickets via Trainline.
"Writing this was a real passion project for me as I want to help raise awareness of the impact our choices can have on the environment", says David. "Even swapping just one journey from car or plane to train can make a significant difference - it's a no-brainer if you want to do your bit to help towards a better future! Even the smallest things can make a beautiful change".
Written as a love song to the planet, David sings about the need to make "meaningful change" and that he's "happy that I came by train".
He's set to play Wembley Arena this week, by the way, so look out for him on a train heading there on Friday. Here's the video for the new song.
Exceleration Music has appointed former Warner Music and Amazon Music exec David Gorman as its Creative Director. "I was instantly drawn to Exceleration's mission, passion, values, and independent, entrepreneurial spirit, all of which have been on full display since we first started talking", he says. "They crafted a role that allows me to work creatively across disciplines, across our label partners, and across the organisation, making this position a combination and culmination of everything I've done up to this point. That I'm already obsessed with so much of the music entrusted to us doesn't hurt, either".
Audiovisual and entertainment technology firm Solotech has hired ex-Live Nation exec John Probyn as European Head Of Business Development in its live productions division. "I've worked with Solotech UK brands Capital Sound, Wigwam and SSE Audio for many years and they have always been an important part of what I have achieved", he says. "Their global vision for the future in terms of growth and development excites me and I relish the challenge of helping them to achieve their ambitions".
Unknown Mortal Orchestra have released new single 'I Killed Captain Cook' - the first track from a new double album due out next year. The band have also announced UK tour dates in May and June, including a show at Brixton Academy in London on 31 May.
Anna Of The North has released new single 'I Do You', ahead of the release of her new album 'Crazy Life' next week.
Andrew Bird has enlisted Phoebe Bridgers for a musical version of Emily Dickinson 1861 poem 'I Felt A Funeral In My Brain'. "I came across this Emily Dickinson poem and found it to be the most vivid description of an inner world I've ever encountered", he says. "It became an inspiration for the songs on [recent album] 'Inside Problems'. Who better to sing it with than Phoebe Bridgers? I sent her a demo and so, here we are".
Quicksand have released new single 'Feliz'. "This one came together pretty easily, from what I recall coming off of tour we wanted to write something more aggressive for the set", says frontman Walter Schreifels. "Listening now reminds me of something we might have written earlier in our career but still feels right at home with where we're at currently. The lyrics speak to the fleeting nature of happiness which paradoxically is what makes feeling happy such a desirable thing".
Ski Mask The Slump God has released new single 'Ooga Booga'.
There's a new US Girls track out. Here's 'Bless This Mess'.
GIGS & TOURS
Robbie Williams will play two shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 6-7 Nov, which will be filmed for the upcoming film about the singer's life, 'Better Man'. Tickets go on general sale on Thursday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
5 Seconds Of Summer discuss being voted Worst Band at NME Awards three times
"Y'all called us the worst band and that affects a guy", says drummer Ashton Irwin. "That guy at 28 doesn't give a fuck and I actually think it's awesome. But when you're seventeen and eighteen you go, 'I'm in the worst band? What?' And it's like what do you mean? What does that mean to me? What did I do wrong?"
"That's just a relative example of how things can be said about the character of the band [that] really do affect the stability of the whole thing", he adds.
Yeah, I mean, you might not like 5SOS much, but calling them the worst band in the whole world in any given year seems a bit much. Three times, as well! It's almost insulting to bands who are worse than them.
The NME has now stopped giving out the Worst Band prize at its annual awards - 5SOS being the last band to win it in 2017. So I guess they now hold the title in perpetuity. The other 'worst' categories at the music magazine's annual awards bash - Worst Album and Worst Dressed (latterly Least Stylish) - had already been phased out by then.
The prizes were hangovers from when the NME Awards was attempting to be an anti-BRITs event - a response to the more mainstream and corporate UK music awards show. But the worst this and that prizes seemed increasingly stupid as the NME Awards itself became bigger and glitzier. And they always went to easy targets anyway, so weren't even that fun.
There was one more negative prize in the proceedings, that being Villain Of The Year. That was also dropped in 2020, making the whole NME Awards shebang a big, positive love-in. Although that particular category did then return in 2022, going to Victorian ghost Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Back in 2019, James Blunt complained that he'd never actually been sent his 2006 Worst Album trophy, saying in an interview - again with the NME: "It's just really mean to get an award and not [be sent] it. I'd put it in pride of place, right above my bed so I could look up at it and see it every day. That would be the best award in the world to have".