Thursday, 31 March 2011

Record sales slump again

CMU Daily reports that global record sales were down by 8.4%, or another $1.45 billion, in 2010 according to new statistics from the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Total global record industry sales were $15.9 billion. Digital sales continued to grow, albeit at a more modest pace than a few years back, and now account for 29% of recorded music sales. The two biggest recorded music markets, the US and Japan, were particularly hard hit again, accounting for 57% of that $1.45 billion decline. The UK, which has been more resilient than most markets in terms of the decline of CD sales, also had a bad year, and as a result lost its position as the third biggest music market to Germany. Only India, Mexico and South Korea saw year-on-year record sales increases. There was also bad news from PRS For Music, who revealed that the total royalties they collected for songwriters and music publishers fell by 1% last year, the first time the total royalties collected by the collecting society has gone down on the previous year.

Friday, 25 March 2011

London 2012 tickets row

Ticket sales for the 2012 London Summer Olympics had a rocky start - within hours of the March 15 launch of LOCOG's (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) official Olympics tickets Web site, fans reported problems with the process. Those whose VISA credit cards expire before August 2011 found that they were prevented from buying tickets at the site - and organisers faced further complainst that limiting sales to JUST Visa (an official sponsor) with no other ways of buying tickets, was counterproductive and unfair to buyers.

WeGotTickets Launch New App

WeGotTickets has unveiled a new app which it is calling EASy which it says will make it easier for venues to check in punters with electronic tickets, speeding up the flow of gig goers into venues as a result. The new service will also let tickets be marked as 'part redeemed' for when groups who paid for their tickets in one booking show up separately, or 'unredeemed' to track people leaving a venue. They will also be able to put notes next to bookings with door staff will be able to see.

Osbourne to look at UK's CD and DVD VAT loophole

The UK Chancellor, George, Osborne has said that the UK government plans to take limited action over the Channel Islands VAT exemption that allows offshore mail-order websites to undercut mainland competitors by 20% on sales of less than £18 (E20). The Channel Islands are in the European customs zone but outside the EU, and UK retailers incuding Tesco, Sainsburys, Amazon, and HMV sell products like CDs and DVDs by mail-order without having to pay a sales tax. Osbourne has pledged to reduce the threshold for the tax relief from £18 to £15 (which will have little effect on the hammering indepdent musc retailers currently suffer!) and Osborne also said he would "explore options" with the European Commission for limiting the scope of the relief, saying that if that if these measures are not effective that the issue will be revisited in a year's time. See

Great Escape Update

The latest batch of announcements about the Great Escape convention inlude news from PRS for Music, host of day one of the convention, who have announced that their Chief Economist Will Page will be joined by Topspin CEO Ian Rogers and digital music expert and Bandcamp advisor Andrew Dubber for his keynote session, which will focus on the rising importance of direct to fan platforms. Page, Rogers and Dubber will together assess the role of such platforms for labels and artists, today and in the future, and evaluate the different approaches taken by rival services, while also considering how best to use direct-to-fan technology to recruit, engage and sell to fans.

The Great Escape will also again be looking at how artists and music companies can "escape" their domestic markets and pursue opportunities in other territories. This topic with be expertly dealt with this year in a panel presented by PPL. Bringing insights from a live, label and management viewpoint on how to meet the challenge of launching and monetising talent abroad, the panel will include ATC Management's Arwen Hunt, Exceptional Records' Bob Fisher and PPL's Director of Performer Affairs Keith Harris. Elsewhere in the panels domain, 7Digital's Ben Drury and Omnifone's Jez Bell will discuss the merits of rival digital business models, while BASCA CEO Patrick Rackow will lead a debate on digital licensing. For those working with newer artists, Radio 2 and 6Music's Jeff Smith, The Guardian's Caspar Llewellyn Smith, and festival and TV booker Ali Anselmo will reveal how they discover new talent, and advise bands on how they can build that all important "buzz".

On the Friday afternoon, delegates will be able to explore the thought processes that go on behind music-based brand partnerships as four managers and promoters pitch their sponsorship ideas to four leading brand managers. In more news, HMV CEO Simon Fox will provide a keynote and take questions on his vision for the UK live sector, discussing HMV's ambitions in this space and how the live industry could better work with other parts of the music business. Wired journalist Duncan Geere will provide an insight session on the state of the digital music market, with some predictions on future trends.

In the series of In Conversation sessions, Frank Turner will be discussing his career with 6music's Matt Everitt. Other sessions include DJ Shadow and BRIT Award winning producer Paul Epworth. There is also a "masterclass" programme, The Great Escape Start Ups Showcase, and the debate on what the future music company will look like, which will include insights from BMG Chrysalis A&R director Alan Pell and Cooking Vinyl chief Martin Goldschmidt.

The Great Escape runs from 12-14 May across Brighton. More at

Bachman and Turner Back

Randy Bachman and Fred Turner, the two giants behand Bachman Turner Overdrive, have finally reunited after more than 20 years. The musicians at the heart of the legendary You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet and Roll On Down The Highway are touring now as Bachman & Turner, represented (ex-USA) by Paradise Artists. Over the course of a four-year run, Bachman-Turner Overdrive sold in excess of 30 million records, earning a staggering 120 platinum, gold and silver discs, and notching up hits in more than 20 countries.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Limewire closure slows illegal downloads, but alternatives take up the slack

Research firm NPD Group have released findings that show that illegal file sharing of songs via peer-to-peer services has dramatically dropped off since Lime Wire was shut down by a US federal court who found the company liable for copyright infringement. The Recording Industry Association of America had file a copyright suit against Lime Wire and CEO Mark Gorton in 2007, claiming the company encouraged the pirating of billions of songs.

NPD said "the percentage of Internet users who download music via peer-to-peer services was at 9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to 16 percent in the same period earlier in 2007" which is clearly a significant drop. NPD also found that the average number of music files downloaded from P2P networks also declined from 35 tracks per person in Q4 2007 to just 18 tracks in Q4 2010, although some downloaded just one or two tracks, while others took hundreds. NPD estimates there were 16 million P2P users downloading music in Q4 2010, down from 28 million in the same period in 2007.

Good news for content owners? Maybe ..... the research also noted that it appears that former LimeWire users are now moving to similar networks. Greg Sandoval, writing on CNet, reports that Frostwire had seen usage double in the final six months of 2010 after Limewire was shuttered in October, and Bittorrent client u-Torrent had a fifty percent uplift.

Read more at:

Farewell to Joe and Smiley

Jazz Drummer and professional drum teacher Joe Morello who made more than 60 recordings with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, has died aged 82, He is survived by his wife Jean. The reggae star Smiley Culture, who had success with the track 'Police Officer' in the 1980s, has died during a police raid on his home. The 48 year old, real name David Emmanuel, apparently stabbed himself with a kitchen knife. He was already facing criminal charges for conspiracy to supply cocaine. In Turkey popular singer Ibrahim Tatlises is critically ill after being shot in the head in what looks like an attempted murder. the 59 year old was attacked as he left a TV studio in Istanbul after filming his weekly chat and music show.

ShowClix raises $1.65 million

ShowClix, the independent online ticketing service, announced that it has raised $1.65 million in its second round of funding. The Pittsburgh-based company says it works with more than 1,800 venues and other clients to provide online ticket sales and marketing tools. The company said that ticket sales on its platform increased 650% in 2010, and recently signed New York's Museum of Modern Art as a client.

Androids top 1 million in UK

Jon Bon Jovi may think that Steve Jobs has single handly destroyed the music industry with the iPlayer, and Microsoft may be ditrching their 'Zunes' brand in face of Apple's dominance in online music - but Apple haven't got it all their own way. With Google seemingly planning a new music service, its interesting to see that the Carphone Warehouse in the UK has sold more than 1 million Android smartphones - a direct rival to the iPhone. The Android phones include the HTC Desire and Wildfire, Samsung Galaxy S and now the Google Nexus S.

Dylan set for Vietnam

Bob Dylan is to perform in Vietnam for the first time and has been booked to play an 8,000 seater stadium in Ho Chi Min City on April 10th. Tickets are priced at E30 (£27) - about a months average wage.

ILMC 2011 Update

It was a new style launch to the ILMC 23 with Greg Parmley chairing a new look opening panel with the great and the good including the Agency's Neil Warnock and Live Nation's Paul Latham, then perhaps more predictably on to ticketing with Stuart Galbraith (no fights this year), and then a whiz through new technology with seven guest speakers including Steve Machin, Intellitix/Ticketpro's Serge Grimaux, AEG's David Jones, and Virtual Festival founder Steve Jenner chaired by Ben Challis (RFID, 3DTV, digital cinema distribution, paperless ticketing, social networks and holograms all on the bill) and an interesting discussion on the difference in global PRS rates (more on this I suspect in the future with the UK's rates under review) with Dick Molenaar, Alexis Grower, Leon Ramakers and representatives from collection societies in France (SACEM), Holland (BUMA-Stemra) and the UK's PRS.

In the Lost World of the ILMC 23 (an Indiana Jones theme throughout) we then had errmm more ticketing (another theme?) - are prices too high, are prices too low (?), the importance of emerging markets (many have 'emerged'!) and new arenas in Eastern Europe, The potential of China and India and just a bit more on dynamic ticketing.

Then on Sunday, Ed Bicknell had a breakfast chat with Blur and Gorillaz manager Chris Morrison, the ever excellent Sunday Supplement was hosted by Allan McGowan and guests included Dave Newton and David Stopps and the afternoon saw a 'solutions panel' headed up by Wayne Forte with some very interesting statistics and economics from the PRS and a stab at finding out how the live sector is evolving (which might have been saying lets not make the same mistakes the record labels did ten years ago) and a bit more on ticketing and oh yes, the bar!

But most importantly the 2011 Arthurs were handed out at the 'Lost Supper' on Saturday night and the winners announced at the Gala Dinner were ...... drum roll please ....

New Boss: Tom Taffe

First Venue to Come Into Your Head: 02 Academy, Brixton

Services Above and Beyond: Beat The Street

Most Professional Professional: Ben Challis

Liggers Favourite Festival: Montreux Jazz Festival

Plumber of the Year: Wob Roberts

Best in Show: Walking With Dinosaurs

Least Painful Tour: Muse

The Peoples Assistant: Prue Almond

Second Least Offensive Agent: Steve Zapp

The Promoters Promoter: Simon Moran

The Bottle Award: Neil Warnock

The Napster is backster

It seems Napster co-founder and now Facebook shareholder Sean Parker is behind one of the rumoured bids for Warner Music. The investor group to which Parker is a party reportedly also includes supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle and Doug Teitelbaum from hedge fund Bay Harbour Management.

Songlines World Music nominations out

Songlines magazine has announced the final nominees of the Songlines Music Awards 2011. The Awards, voted by Songlines readers and the general public, aim to recognise and celebrate the wealth of outstanding musical talent from across the world that has been reviewed in Songlines magazine. The 16 final nominees are:

Ana Moura (for the album Leva me Aos Fados on World Village)
Cheikh Lô (for the album Jamm on World Circuit)
Femi Kuti (for the album Africa for Africa on Wrasse)
Youssou N'Dour (for the album Dakar-Kingston on Universal)

Bellowhead (for the album Hedonism on Navigator)
Hanggai (for the album He Who Travels Far on World Connection)
Lepistö & Lehti (for the album Helsinki on Aito Records)
Terrakota (for the album World Massala on Ojo Musica)

AfroCubism (for the album AfroCubism on World Circuit)
Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal (for the album Chamber Music on No Format)
Kronos Quartet with Alim & Fargana Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi (for the album Rainbow - Music of Central Asia Vol 8 on Smithsonian Folkways)
Vishwa Mohan Bhatt & Matt Malley (for the album Sleepless Nights on World Village)

The Creole Choir of Cuba (for the album Tande-la on Real World)
Raghu Dixit (for the album Raghu Dixit on Vishal & Shekhar Music)
Syriana (for the album Road to Damascus on Real World)
Tamikrest (for the album Adagh on Glitterhouse Records)

A compilation album featuring all 16 final nominees will be released (on CD & download) on March 21 (SPLCD004) distributed by Proper Music Distribution.

StubHub guilty of violating anti-scalping laws report that StubHub has been found to be in violation of North Carolina's former anti-scalping laws for its part in the 2007 sale of high-priced Hannah Montana tickets by a reseller on the company's exchange Judge Ben Tennille ruled that StubHub and Massachusetts reseller Jason Holohan violated the laws when Holohan sold four Hannah Montana tickets to parents Jeffrey and Lisa Hill for a total of $596, plus $59.60 in service fees and $11.95 in shipping costs

Green Events & Innovations conference

Environmental campaign group AGreenerfestival, Bucks New University and music industry climate change initiative Julies Bicycle are launching a new one day conference and training day to be held at Bucks New University in High Wycombe on April 20th. The one day conference will encompass a morning training session including measuring greenhouse gas emissions and waste management and three panels in the afternoon looking at festivals, travel and power solutions. You can find out more at . Registration is £75 or £50 for AIF members and students.

‘Daily nightmare’ of UK Border Agency’s visa rules for foreign artists and performers

The case of an American cellist, Kristin Ostling, who was sent back to Chicago by British immigration officials when she came to the UK to take part in an unpaid recital, has fuelled demands for an overhaul of the visa system for visiting artists and musicians. Ostling, who was due to perform at Leeds University, was subjected to eight hours of questioning before being told she was taking work away from UK musicians and sent home. Her case was highlighted in a recent House of Lords debate as evidence of the difficulties routinely faced by visiting artists and performers since the introduction in 2008 of the tier five "creative and sporting" category of the points-based immigration system. The demands to overhaul the system of artist and cultural visas follow complaints from leading arts figures, including Lady Bakewell, that such cases are no longer isolated incidents but the "daily nightmares" of concert planners and theatre managers across Britain. The London mayor, Boris Johnson, said unnecessary bureaucratic burdens should not be put in the way of artists and performers. "With competition from cities like Berlin, Shanghai or Mumbai, we must not jeopardise London's position as a world creative hub," he said. See more at

Live Nation looks to get analytical reports that Live Nation Ticketmaster is looking to capitalize on its 180 million-name fan database, launching Ticketmaster’s LiveAnalytics. The new venture is aimed at producing "rich data analytics products that provide clients fan insights for their business." The venture will be based on a new partnership between the company and analytics experts Teradata, LiveAnalytics will offer Ticketmaster's clients information on customer preferences, ticketing trends, industry benchmarks and other customized data

US States look to regulate paperless ticketing

Connecticut General Assembly General Law Committee have overwhelmingly approved a proposed bill designed to help consumers by preserving the secondary ticket market and giving buyers the option of purchasing transferable paperless or traditional hard copy tickets. The move comes hot on the heels of similar moves in Minnesota and North Carolina to regulate paperless tickets to protect consumers and the secondary ticket market. Like the other states, North Carolina is looking to formalise assurances that ticket issuers will not use a restrictive form of paperless tickets that are difficult or impossible to transfer.

Isle of Wight increase 20,000 too many? reports that organisers of the Isle of Wight Festival have indicated to the local council that they want to increase the capacity of the Festival to 89,999. The application (unusually in the UK) has top pass a two stage hurdle - The Isle of Wight Act, brought in after the huge number of people attending the 1970 festival, and the a License Act application. The event organisers have submitted the IW Act application to the council. The Blog spoke to Cllr Geoff Lumley who had brought up the matter at the Full Council meeting this week and whose Pan ward is close to the Festival’s site, “At the licensing committee three years ago, when they wanted to increase the numbers to 70,000, which was too many, John Giddings (Festival organiser), as I recall, said he would never need more than 70,000 – and here we are with an application for 90,000" adding “My concerns are that this is 20,000 people too many.” It’s understood that council officers are currently preparing a consultation for the event. The Blog further reports Cllr Lumley saying “We’re not against the Festival at all. We just think that it’s too big now for where it is.”

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