|WEDNESDAY 23 NOVEMBER 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Two members of the US Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee On Competition Policy, Antitrust And Consumer Rights have announced a hearing to “examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry”. It follows last week’s issues on the Ticketmaster platform around the sale of tickets for next year’s Taylor Swift tour... [READ MORE]|
US Congressional committee to put the spotlight back on Ticketmaster and the ticketing market
Senator Amy Klobuchar - who chairs that committee - was already a critic of Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary prior to last week's Swift-related dramas. Back in March she and fellow senator Richard Blumenthal called on the US Department Of Justice to investigate the American ticketing market and Ticketmaster's role in it.
Previously, back in 2019, both senators called on the DoJ to investigate the consent decree that regulates how Ticketmaster interacts with the wider Live Nation business.
That consent decree was put in place when Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010 to overcome some of the competition concerns that merger raised. It was originally meant to expire in 2020, but was renewed because on ongoing concerns and criticisms, including those highlighted by Klobuchar and Blumenthal.
Then last week - after Ticketmaster's Verified Fan system struggled to keep up with the demand for Swift tickets, resulting in lots of angry fans and a pretty pissed off Swift - Klobuchar wrote to Live Nation chief Michael Rapino asking questions about his ticketing company's systems and procedures.
It's debatable whether Ticketmaster being part of Live Nation - and the combined Live Nation / Ticketmaster being so dominant in the US live sector - actually caused any of last week's issues around the sale of Swift tickets. Had tickets been available via many different ticketing agents then maybe the unprecedented demand could have been dealt with by multiple platforms. Though that would have likely created a different set of issues for Swift's eager fans.
Maybe if the ticketing business was more competitive Ticketmaster would invest more in its technologies and systems making it better positioned to cope with such unprecedented demand for tickets. Though Ticketmaster has evolved its technology a lot in recent years, partly in response to various ticketing start-ups, partly to better compete with the secondary ticketing market, and partly because of the data and other commercial benefits that mobile ticketing can offer.
Either way, all the online outrage around the sale of tickets for Swift's tour has put the spotlight back on the various existing grievances about the US ticketing market in general and Ticketmaster in particular.
Announcing the new hearing on the ticketing market - alongside fellow subcommittee member Mike Lee - Klobuchar stated: "Last week, the competition problem in ticketing markets was made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster's website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase concert tickets".
"The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster's dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve", she added.
"That's why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike", she went on. "When there is no competition to incentivise better services and fair prices, we all suffer the consequences".
"American consumers deserve the benefit of competition in every market, from grocery chains to concert venues," Lee added. "I look forward to exercising our subcommittee's oversight authority to ensure that anticompetitive mergers and exclusionary conduct are not crippling an entertainment industry already struggling to recover from pandemic lockdowns".
The new scrutiny of Ticketmaster and ticketing in Congress will be welcomed by the coalition of artist, lobbying and consumer rights groups that recently launched a campaign calling on the DoJ to reinvestigate Ticketmaster, and even possibly reverse that big Live Nation/Tickemaster merger from 2010.
Warner Chappell opens songwriting studio in Barcelona
"We're so excited to unveil our new Barcelona studio", says Cabrera Viñas. "We've had huge demand from songwriters wanting to book time to work here, so we already know it's a valued addition to the local scene. Many of our international writers like to visit Barcelona, so it's great that we can provide them with a studio environment, and we also hope it will help us to sign more local writers from Catalonia".
Warner Chappell's President For Southern Europe, Santiago Menéndez-Pidal, adds: "I'm delighted that we've now got a purpose-built home in Barcelona for our songwriters who want to work in this vibrant city. Following the launch of [new creative hub] The Music Station in Madrid earlier this year, our new studio shows that we're committed to investing in world class infrastructure here in Spain to support our songwriters".
The new studio is based in Barcelona's Poblenou district.
New report sets out wider impact of dance music and club culture
The NTIA has been lobbying the government hard throughout the pandemic, and as we have moved into the cost of living crisis, seeking more support for night-time businesses, including clubs and venues. In that work, it has often pointed to the economic value of the wider night-time sector, which accounts for 1.6% of UK GDP - or £36.4 billion - and employs more than 425,000 people across the UK.
However, a new study from NTAI and AFEM - which collates and reviews two decades of academic research on dance music and nightlife culture - stresses that the impact of the clubbing community goes well beyond its economic value.
Among other things, the new report looks at the social and cultural impact of that community; how it brings people together and facilitates 'social bonding'; it's role in individual well-being and 'personal transformation'; and the influence it exerts on fashion and the arts at large.
The two organisations state: "The pandemic has shown that the government does not recognise the importance of the sector, and has limited knowledge of its value, particularly its value outside of simple economics, but electronic music and club culture in the UK also has community and cultural importance as this new report shows".
"Dance music shapes our communities and our culture across the UK", they go on. "Clubs and festivals improve the health, well-being, friendship and happiness of millions, year in year out. They are positive, unifying and inspiring forces in an increasingly divided world".
NTIA boss Michael Kill adds: "Dance music and clubs drive culture to the heart of communities - from the lone teenager listening to beats on a laptop in a bedroom, to groups of kids on an estate spitting lyrics and bars over an electro beat from the 1980s on a mobile phone, to the soul, jazz and funk instrumentals that underpin modern productions".
"Electronic dance music has inspired millions of people and given them a hunger to dig deeper into music heritage to find new sounds, a new rhythm to listen to, create and produce", he goes on. "Reaching people from all walks of life, without prejudice or bias, crossing cultural boundaries and creating pathways for expression".
"Aided by this report", he concludes, "wider society will grow to recognise electronic music and club culture as one of the most important economic and cultural movements of the future".
AFEM CEO Silvia Montello states: "Those of us who live and breathe dance music have always known the incredible community value that club and rave culture has brought to our lives and our global audiences".
"It is great to see the collection of academic evidence of these benefits outlined clearly in a report", she goes on, "which can contribute towards a broader understanding of the importance of our music and scene to millions of people, alongside the clearly defined commercial and economic benefits".
Montello then concludes: "The need to dance, to express, to commune and to build friendships that know no barriers of race, class, gender or creed are fundamental".
Eurovision opens up voting to global audience, removes juries from semi-final voting
To date, only viewers and juries from countries competing in Eurovision have been able to vote in the competition, despite the show building up a significant global audience. In 2023, viewers from anywhere in the world will be able to vote in the semi-finals and grand final.
Not voting in the semi-finals, however, will be competing nations' expert juries. Since 2009, the acts who go through to the grand final have been chosen through a combination of public and jury votes.
However, from next year, only public votes will be taken. This follows voting irregularities from juries in six countries - Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and San Marino - being discovered during this year's contest. Those irregularities happened at the semi-final stage, and jury votes from those countries were not counted in the grand final.
"Following the unprecedented voting irregularities we saw this year, we looked at ways to protect the integrity of the competition", said Eurovision reference group member Sietse Bakker on Twitter. "The problem occurred in the semi-finals, this was the best way to end it. Also, difference of who qualifies in public v public/jury vote is minimal".
Jury votes will still be taken into account in the grand final. Also, recognising that opening up voting more widely to a global audience leaves more room for other irregularities, anyone outside the competing countries will have to verify their vote with a credit card. This obviously makes voting less simple for those people.
"Throughout its 67 year history the Eurovision Song Contest has constantly evolved to remain relevant and exciting", says Eurovision Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl. "These changes acknowledge the immense popularity of the show by giving more power to the audience of the world's largest live music event".
"In 2023 only Eurovision Song Contest viewers will decide which countries make it to the grand final and, reflecting the global impact of the event, everyone watching the show, wherever they live in the world, can cast their votes for their favourite songs", he goes on.
"By also involving juries of music professionals in deciding the final result, all the songs in the grand final can be assessed on the broadest possible criteria", he adds. "We can also maintain the tradition of travelling around Europe and Australia to collect points and ensure a thrilling voting sequence with the winner only revealed at the very end of the show".
Next year's Eurovision Song Contest is set to take place in Liverpool. The semi-finals will go ahead on 9 and 11 May, with the grand final on 13 May.
Morrissey cancels two more shows on US tour
Last night's show in Salt Lake City and tonight's in Denver were pulled yesterday, with a statement on social media reading: "Due to band illness, we are devastated to announce that we cannot proceed with tonight's show ... and tomorrow's".
"Thank you to the fans for the ongoing love and support while we take a moment to restore and recover", it went on. "All being well, M and the band will be back on stage on Friday night. Show refunds are available at your point of purchase".
Earlier this month, Morrissey decided to postpone a show in LA after he'd already been on stage for 30 minutes. No clear reason was given for the decision to cut that performance short, although it was reported that it was due to the singer being too cold.
Also postponed recently was the release of Morrissey's new album, 'Bonfire Of Teenagers'. A statement on his website announced: "'Bonfire of Teenagers' is no longer scheduled for a February release, as stated by this site. Its fate is exclusively in the hands of Capitol Records (Los Angeles)".
It was announced last month that Universal Music's Capitol label would be releasing the album in the US. It's not clear if the delay on that release means the Moz has had another falling out with a Universal label or there is some other issue.
Christine And The Queens to curate Meltdown Festival
"What an honour to be picked by the fantastical teams of the Meltdown festival to be a curator this year", says Christine And The Queens. "It's a tough thing to be a curator. Art-wise, recently, my curating was erratic. Visceral. Sometimes regressive, back to the music I listened to when I was a teenager. A life-savior, music. One song to soothe them all. We expect from art to still save us yet we endanger it so much, everywhere".
"Thinking it should sell and clatter like jewels. Thinking it should be the catchiest shit in less than ten seconds when truly the birth of an emotion takes years in some people. We want it to heal it all but we deprive it of it's true strength, which is eternity, a cancellation of human time. Now it's fast, quick, a lot, and never about eternity. Cause eternity is death, too. It's a cycle of ashes and birth. Over and over again".
"But I digress", he goes on. "Do I? I will actually pick musicians that have some gut-wrenching quality, and I wish for all of us to stroll around in those ten days being rejuvenated by artistic gestures. Discoveries. The time Meltdown takes is quite exquisite, the abundance feels appropriately generous too".
"We need this for ourselves, art in the city, art for the citizen, collective catharsis, a wonderful purge of the soul. I hope you'll enjoy this glorious edition and again, long live poetry that burns and musicians crazy and brave enough to keep going - they are shaping the emotions of the future. Let's thank them all!"
he Southbank Centre's Head Of Contemporary Music, Adem Holness adds: "Chris will be the youngest-ever curator of Meltdown in its 27 year history, an incredible testament to his international pop prowess. We are incredibly excited to be working with such an ambitious artist who, I am sure, will show us all what more Meltdown can be as a festival and a celebration".
Southbank Centre Artistic Director Mark Ball also comments: "Meltdown not only allows us to understand the passions of an artist, but uniquely to see them come to life as a fully-formed festival across the Southbank. And to get inside Chris's imagination - an artist whose ideas and inspiration comes from his politics, his history and identity, his love of theatricality and of transgressive underground culture - will be an incredible musical treat for audiences".
As well as pulling together special performances from other artists, the French musician will perform his latest album, 'Redcar Les Adorables Étoiles', in full. The festival will take place from 9-18 Jun.
Concord Music Publishing has signed a global publishing deal with Australian producer Luude. "I'm really happy to be part of the global Concord Music Publishing family", he says. "Honestly just can't wait to get back in the studio after three months on the road". So, there's more music in it's way. And sooner than that comment might suggest too. A new single featuring Issey Cross and Moby is imminent.
Seun Kuti and Black Thought have announced that they will release new EP, 'African Dreams', on 9 Dec, featuring three hip hop remixes of tracks from Kuti's 'Black Times' album. From it, this is 'Kuku Kee Me (Remix)'.
Leila Moss has released new single 'Ache In The Middle', featuring Jehnny Beth. "I was working with Johnny Hostile on extra instrumentation for this track, when he sent it back with a middle eight vocal section written and sung by his partner Jehnny Beth", she recalls. "He emailed saying she loved the track and hoped I didn't mind her spontaneous contribution? This was a real gift, some unexpected beauty". Moss's new album, 'Internal Working Model', is out on 13 Jan.
Billy Nomates has released new single 'Spite'. Her new album, 'Cacti', is out on 13 Jan and she is on tour now.
Alberta Cross have released new single 'Mercy'. Says frontman Petter Ericson Stakee: "'Mercy' is about just never being able to catch a break and that life can sometimes end up feeling like a broken record. It's also about when we spiral and watch those around us be affected by it".
Dave Okumu And The Seven Generations will release new album 'I Came From Love' on 14 Apr. "The narrative of this record emerged in tandem with the origin of its musical journey, through a rumination on survival, ancestry and heritage", says Okumu. "The account of the young west African girl who was transported to South Carolina in 1756 and sold to the slave owner Elias Ball and the subsequent unearthing and presentation of her story to her descendants became an emblematic framework for these songs, opening doors to many aspects of the diasporic experience". Here's new single 'You Survived So I Might Live'.
GIGS & TOURS
Sparks have announced two shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 29-30 May. "Since we first started playing music, the Royal Albert Hall has been the pinnacle of British music venues for us and a place we've always aspired to play", say the duo. "These shows are a dream come true!" Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
The Damned have announced that they will head out on a UK tour in March and April, finishing up at Alexandra Palace Theatre in London on 20 Apr. Tickets go on general sale tomorrow.
Peach Pit have announced that they will play Brixton Academy in London on 16 Jun - their only UK headline show of 2023. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
Nominations have opened for next year's Music Producers Guild Awards, including the new Dolby Atmos Mix Of The Year category. Put forward candidates here. The deadline is 5 Dec.
Self Esteem has been crowned the winner of this year's Dice Live Music Award. "Thank you fans and thank you Dice", she said when receiving the prize at The Lower Third in London last night. "I can't believe this, I finally feel like Hayley from Paramore. Thank you also to my band who are amazing. This is for all of you guys - I'm genuinely really chuffed".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Human error to blame for Donald Trump's name being inserted into Elton John lyrics in livestream subtitles
Trump's name appeared in the subtitles for the show at least twice during the live broadcast. The lyrics of Levon were shown to be "He shall be Levon / Donald Trump", rather than "He shall be Levon / And he shall be a good man". Later, viewers reported that Trump's name was shown on screen for around a minute before being removed.
There was speculation - including from TMZ - that this was some sort of hack. Bit of a weird hack, sure. Why would someone want to go to the trouble of hacking into the subtitles of a show just to flash Donald Trump's name up on screen without context? I mean, once you're in there, you could put up any political message you wanted. This seems like a waste of effort.
People always assume things are some sort of clever hack though, don't they? If it happens online and it wasn't what you expected, it must be a hack. No one ever thinks, "That was weird, I imagine it was some sort of easily explainable human error". But that's what it was, sorry to disappoint you.
While Disney+ hasn't commented, a source "familiar with the situation" explained to Variety that the subtitles were created by a third party service, which transcribes live events using a combination of speech recognition and human input.
Some words and phrases are triggered with special keyboard commands by that human operator. The company involved regularly provides subtitles to live news events, so has Trump's name in its system, and it was for this reason that the ex-President's name kept appearing by mistake.
Case closed. No one was hacked. Of course, regular users of subtitles will be aware that errors such as this often occur. Sometimes due to human error, such as this case, sometimes due to speech recognition going awry.
My favourite such error - as I'm sure you all want to know - was during some BBC drama years ago, when at the emotional peak of the programme, the leading man got down on one knee, looked lovingly into his girlfriend's eyes, opened a small box containing an engagement ring and announced, "William merry meat".