Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Glastonbury and Festival Republic to split

Festival Republic have confirmed that their partnership with the Glastonbury Festival has come to an end, meaning that Melvin Benn, who first worked for the iconic Festival in the 80s and then returned prior to the 2002 Festival which featured the new 'superfence' as Licensee, will pass over the reigns as Operations Director in due course. Festival Republic were shareholders in the event. Benn will now focus on Festival Republic's other festivals including Reading, Leeds, Latitude, Hove, Berlin and Electric Picnic.  A statement from Festival Republic said:
"Time moves on and now is the time for Michael and the Glastonbury team to pick up the reins again and build for the future. This will then allow Melvin and the Festival Republic team to focus on growing new Festival Republic events and the existing FR owned festivals here in the UK as well as internationally in Ireland, Germany and Norway as well as the time required of Melvin as Chairman of Wembley Stadium."
"The separation has been mutual and cordial and Melvin will oversee the change and the selection of the new Operations Director (yet to be appointed). The Festival Republic interest in GFL 2011 (the operational company of Glastonbury Festival) will be passed on to LNG, Festival Republic's parent company, in a long term arrangement that genuinely secures the future of the Festival. (The Workers Beer Company interest in the same company remains unaffected)."

Sale of Guardian's radio stations to be investigated

Three of Global Radio's rivals have called on the UK's competition regulator to block the UK radio major's bid to expand further by acquiring The Guardian's radio company, which operates the Real and Smooth radio brands, for a sum thought to be in the region of £70 million. The purchase gives Global control of more than 50% of the radio advertising market in the UK and more than 50% of listening in key markets like London and Manchester. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

IOW faces review after weather chaos

Isle of Wight MP Stuart Love is calling for a review of the way the Isle of Wight Festival is organised and licensed after the chaos caused by the previous week's weather. The Isle of Wight event wasn't the only one hit by the bad weather this weekend: The second day of festivities at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, due to be headlined by Paul Weller, had to be cancelled over health and safety concerns, in Cumbria the outdoor stages at Cockermouth Live! were cancelled after nearly 10cm of rain fell on Friday, while in Liverpool the Africa Oyé event was called off, though a smaller in-door event featuring many of the festival's line-up was staged.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Placebo CD cover a bitter pill to swallow

An unemployed chef whose boyish face featured on Placebo's eponymous 1996 debut album is bringing a self funded action against the band claiming the image was used without his consent or permission. The photograph, of David Fox who was then aged twelve, shows the youth in a large red fleece pulling hos own cheeks down. It was taken by Mr Fox's cousin who was a professional photographer. Fox says that once the album was released and became a chart success, he was bullied at school and questioned by teachers. Eventually his mother had to drive him home from school because of the bullying and Fox said he went from being popular to a situation where "Nobody wanted me on their side or anything like that". He left school before his GCSEs. Now aged 28 was made redundant recently due to the recession. Riverman Management, the band's managers, said any action should be directed against the band's label Virgin, who released the album. 

Former model Robert Christoff initially won a lengthy legal case against Nestle, owner of tasters Choice coffee, having been initially paid  $250 back in 1986 for the photo of the model “posed gazing at a cup of coffee, as if he enjoyed the aroma. There were contract provisions for further payment but these were not made but despite this the photo was used on eight different Taster’s Choice labels in 18 countries from 1997 to 2003. The trial court applied a two-year statute of limitations and instructed the jury to determine under the discovery rule whether Christoff knew or should have known earlier that Nestlé had used his image (this point was appealed to the Californian Supreme Court in 2009). The jury found that Christoff did not know, and should not reasonably have suspected prior to seeing the jar, that his image was being used without his consent and awarded him more than $15 million in damages.

Other child album cover stars include Spencer Elden, the naked baby swimming on Nirvana's Nevermind is now 20 and studying fine art in California and Keithroy Yearwood, now an 18 year old Hugh School student, who was identified as the 'afro baby' on the Nororious B.I.G's Ready to Die: He was paid $150 for the shoot. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Tax scandal avoidance reaches Take That

TAKE THAT became the latest celebrities caught up in the UK's tax avoidance scandal after PM David Cameron said yesterday he would look into a £480million investment scheme used by some band members. The Prime Minister also lashed out at comedian Jimmy Carr, branding his tax avoidance “morally wrong”. Carr has subsequently apologised for investing in the contentious scheme known as K2 after it was revealed that he had paid £3.3million a year into a Jersey-based fund which cut his tax bill to just 1per cent by loaning him money back.
Now an investigation has found that Take That stars Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager Jonathan Wild ploughed £26 million into a music investment partnership run by Icebreaker Management which enables them to cut their tax liability dramatically. Over 1000 people contributed £480m to 62 music industry partnerships that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) claim act as tax shelters. Some commentators have called for Gary Barlow to be stripped of his recently awarded OBE if the claims are true. Lily Allen reportedly said "how are tax avoiders the moral equivalent of benefit cheats? Surely they're a hundred times worse"

Congress get to hear about UMG about EMI

Universal's proposed takeover of EMI's recorded music division has had a congressional hearing next week with a public airing of the arguments for and against the acquisition in the USA - with music industry veterans Lucian Grainge, Roger Faxon and Irving Azoff speaking up for the UMG-EMI tie up and, Edgar Bronfman Jr and Martin Mills against along with Gigi Sohn from American lobby group Public Knowledge. The congressional session took place on Thursday, 21st June and Grainge insisted that everyone would be a winner if and when the Universal and EMI labels unite, saying, according to the Financial Times: "Our coming together will benefit consumers, artists and all those committed to a diverse and healthy music business". But Mills countered that the only people who would actually benefit would be Universal's owners and management, who were, he claimed "monopolists" seeking market power. Edgar Bronfman Jr said that a combined Universal EMI would be "one innovation-stifling dominant player".

Pirate sails off in search iof human rights

One time The Pirate Bay  (TPB) spokesman Peter Sunde has joined fellow TPB founder Fredrik Neij in appealing to the European Court Of Human Rights in a last ditch attempt to avoid custody  for his role in setting up the controversial file-sharing website after being found guilty on copyright infringements charges in Sweden resulting in damages and terms if imprisonment being imposed. In their filing with the human rights court, both men will now rely on the European Convention right to freedom of expression and the right to "receive and impart information" and will argue that by operating The Pirate Bay they were merely exercising that right as well as re-arguing that TPB was just a technology provider which did not get involved in the copying of unlicensed materials, and the technology provided has legitimate uses.

Radiohead cancel more shows after tragedy

Radiohead have cancelled seven planned concerts following last weekend's stage collapse tragedy that occurred ahead of show in Toronto and which killed the band's drum tech Scott Johnson. In a statement on the Radiohead website, the band say they need a couple of weeks to recover from the trauma of having lost a crew member, while the show's production team also need time to reconstruct the light show that accompanies their current tour, with much of the required kit having been damaged when the roof of the temporary staging in Toronto fell to the ground.

UK weather causes more problems

Flooding caused chaos for people heading to the Isle of Wight Festival this weekend after heavy rain led to access problems at Seaclose Park, Newport.  The Festival is being headlined by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Pearl Jam, Biffy Clyro, The Vaccines, Elbow and Bruce Springsteen, There has been traffic gridlock on the island with people forced to sleep in their cars overnight. The BBC reported that Police have been escorting motorists stuck in traffic to Newport Football Club where shelter and refreshments are being provided. About 65,000 festival-goers are expected to attend the three-day event. Traffic on many of the island's roads has been at a standstill throughout Thursday and into Friday and hundreds of motorists have been queuing for up to ten hours to access the site and have been left stranded in their vehicles. 

in London it looks like the big BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekender (with 100,000 people attending over the weekend) with the likes of Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kasabian, Lana Del Ray, Jack White, Florence & The Machine, Ed Sheeran and Professor Green on Saturday and Sunday might escape the worst of the weather as forecasts for the weekend show that London may just escape the heavier rains. Both the Isle of Wight and the BBC plumped for what would have been the 'Glastonbury' weekend which became free as Michael Eavis decided to take one of his regular breaks to rest his land at Worthy Farm. Parts of Scotland and Northern England can expect up to 100mm of rain and there are now nine  flood alerts across the UK including the South West  in the wettest June since record began 230 years ago. The Met Office forecast a fourth wet weekend on the spin, warning of 'showers and longer periods of rain will affect many places,' with blustery winds as well,  forecasting showers followed by a band of rain on Saturday and a washout on Sunday on the North and South coasts, with the Midlands overcast.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Brian Hibbard dies

Brian, third from left

Singer and actor Brian Hibbard, who was frontman with the Flying Pickets, has died at the age of 65. San Francisco-based drummer and producer Tim Mooney has also died. Mooney was drummer for a number of bands during the 1970s and 1980s, including Sleepers, Negative Trend and American Music Club. 

Radiohead stage collapse investigation begins

Officials from the Ontario Labour Ministry are now leading the investigation into the stage collapse that occurred ahead of a planned Radiohead concert in Toronto which left the band's British drum tech Scott Johnson dead and three others injured. The investigation, under Canada's Occupational Health And Safety Act, will initially investigate what roles various subcontractors played in the building of the stage and the role of promoter Live Nation. The promoter has been ordered to provide drawings of the roof of the stage construction.

Samsung launches tickeless technology at Knebworth

Samsung Electronics UK has today announced its involvement in the first roll out of ticketless technology at live music events in the UK. As part of an association with Kilimanjaro Live and Intellitix, Samsung will bring RFID technology to festival goers for the first time this summer promising secure access to the gigs and virtually no queues. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ upcoming gig at Knebworth on 23rd June will mark the first time the technology has been used by an artist anywhere in Europe. This will be followed by music and wakeboarding festival Wakestock, which is set to become Europe's most technologically advanced festival after deploying the technology.  

Special RFID wristbands are being issued which will be read on arrival to validate visitors’ entry. At the wearer’s discretion, the bands can be linked to their social media profiles or used to enter competitions associated with both events. The promoter of both events, Stuart Galbraith from Kilimanjaro Live, commented: "We’ve been waiting for the opportunity to use RFID technology for a while as it’s a great way to enhance and grow the customer experience for concerts and festivals of the future. We are very excited to be working with Samsung and Intellitix in being one of the first UK promoters to embrace this new technology and look forward to developing adaptations across many events."

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

UK Voice tour cancelled

The planned tour of eight of the finalists on the BBC's talent show the Voice which features Will.I.am, Jessie J, Sir Tom Jones and the Script's Danny O'Donoghue as judges has been cancelled after poor ticket sales. The TV show has faced falling ratings. The Live Nation promoted live shows, were due to kick of on September 12th at the Bournemouth International Centre included dates at the O2 London, Manchester, Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Brighton, Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool and Glasgow.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Sound Exchange reaches $1 billion milestone

SoundExchange, the US non-profit organisation that collects royalties for the use of sound recordings from satellite radio firms, Internet radio services and cable music channels, said on Monday it has now paid $1 billion in digital royalty payments to recording artists and record labels since its inception. Originally a division of the RIAA, the organization became independent in 2003 and also revealed that it paid out $108.6 million during the first quarter, marking the first time it has surpassed the $100 million mark in a quarter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SoundExchange 

IOC to "investigate" 2012 Olympic tickets scandal

In a perhaps an all too predictable story, a ticketing scandal involving more than a quarter of the 204 countries represented at the Olympics looks set to hang over the London Games, after it emerged that an internal investigation is unlikely to be completed before the opening ceremony.

The International Olympic Committee has promised to investigate allegations that 27 agents representing 54 countries were prepared to offer thousands of unauthorised tickets at prices of up to £6,000 to undercover Sunday Times reporters posing as Middle Eastern buyers.
After an emergency board meeting, the IOC said it took the allegations very seriously and referred the matter to its ethics commission. "Should any irregularities be proven, the organisation will deal with those involved in an appropriate manner. The NOCs [national Olympic committees] are autonomous organisations, but if any of the cases are confirmed the IOC will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions," it said in a statement. Re-selling Olympic tickets is a specific summary offence in the United Kingdom, punishable by a fine of up to £20,000.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

MP3s have pushed audio quality to rock bottom

Ken Ishiwata, a 30 year veteran onf the CD and hi-fi world, has confirmed what many suspected - that at the start of every new technology boom - particularly with CDs and then MP3s, quality is sacrificed for convenience, adding that its only recently that the quality of CDs have matched the quality of older technologies such as analogue vinyl. 

MP3s have further educed quality as music was compressed  to keep costs down although modern advances in file storage means this is no longer necessary. Ishiwata, a master tuner at Marantz, says of market leader Apple's iTunes that their music is "not sold for the quality its sold for the sexiness and the convenience" although he thinks that both iTunes and digital streaming platforms such as Spotify will improve quality over the next five years.

Radiohead stage collapse kills stage hand

One stage hand was killed and three injured when a stage roof collapsed just an hour before doors opened for a 40,000 capacity Radiohead concert in Toronto, Canada. Radiohead tweeted that the performance had been cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances". Emergency crews went to the scene and the area was evacuated after the stage collapsed at 16:00 local time with the concert due to start at 19:30. The dead man was confirmed as Scott Johnson, the band's 33 year old British drum technician and the band's drummer Phil Selway said: "We have all been shattered by the loss of Scott Johnson, our friend and colleague. He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew. We will miss him very much. Our thoughts and love are with Scott's family and all those close to him".

Friday, 15 June 2012

Sonisphere rocks 250,000

90,000 people partied into the early hours over the two days at Sonisphere Madrid on 25th and 26th May. Having already seen an attendance of 50,000 in Warsaw, Poland, the 4th edition of the Spanish leg was the second stop on this year’s Sonisphere festival tour. Metal legends Metallica headlined both Warsaw and Madrid (along with Soundgarden) and then went on to close the show at Sonisphere in Yverdon, Switzerland to a 35,000 capacity crowd, before moving on to Helsinki, Finland where the festival sold out a capacity of 47,000 in advance.  Faith No More and Evanescence take over the headline duties at the final Sonisphere festival of the season at Snowhall Park, D’amneville, France on 7-8 July.  The fourth edition of the touring Sonisphere festival will play to over 250,000 people this year.

Quebec's new law targets touts

Quebec's much discussed "Bill 25" officially went into effect Thursday, June 7th, changing the face of ticket resale within the Canadian province. Under the terms of the new law, ticket brokers will be barred from reselling tickets at prices above face value without first obtaining the permission of the ticket's original vendor. Additionally, brokers will be required to inform consumers that the tickets are being resold, provide the name of the ticket's original vendor and inform customers of the ticket's original face value price. Those found to be in violation of the new law will be subject to fines of $1,000 to $2,000 for a first offence and as much as $200,000 for repeated violations according to Ticketnews.com 

UMG-EMI merger heads to Congress

Universal's proposed takeover of EMI's recorded music division will get a congressional hearing next week with a public airing of the arguments for and against the acquisition in the USA - with five music industry veterans booked to speak - Lucian Grainge, Roger Faxon and Irving Azoff expected to speak for the UMG-EMI tie up and , Edgar Bronfman Jr and Martin Mills agains,t along with  Gigi Sohn from American lobby group Public Knowledge. The congressional session will now take place next Thursday, 21 Jun.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Dotcom rush - .tickets and .music in play

Five groups have applied to control the .tickets domain and eight, including Amazon and Google, have applied to ICANN for the .music domain. Similarly to Steve Machin's dot ticket group,  one organisation bidding for .music is called .MUSIC and has industry support from a number of independent digital music firms and says that it would ensure .music domains were distributed in a fair and transparent way. The group's founder Constantine Roussos told CMU Daily: ".MUSIC's priority is to make the .music domain widely available to the global music community while balancing the needs for inclusiveness and security. We're committed to running a neutral, transparent community-based [top level domain] that serves all music stakeholders, prevents abuses and gives music entities a validated industry standard that internet users can trust. The .MUSIC [top level domain] will provide a safe haven for legal music consumption and ensure monies flow to the music community - not to pirates or unlicensed websites".

Westlife star made bankrupt

Westlife star Shane Filan has been made bankrupt after his property empire went bust. The singer set up Shafin Developments Limited with his brother Finbarr in 2004 at the height of the Irish property boom. The company was taken into receivership earlier this year and Filan himself was declared bankrupt at Kingston County Court. The singer says he will now "focus on the remaining date" of the current Westlife tour which ends in Dublin on June 23rd. 

Publishers start to ask about a VEVO royalty

The Beastie Boys iconic 'Sabotage' promo

David Israelite, CEO of US's National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), has called for a number of changes to the way the US music publishing business runs, both in the way publishers licence digital rights, and in the way American copyright law applies to digital licensing and the way collecting organisations operate. In particular the NMPA boss was critical of American record labels who are utilising contract clauses to avoid giving publishers their share when they are paid by online video sites, in particular VEVO, which includes major labels Sony and UMG amongst shareholders. 

In February we blogged about comments from indie publisher Matt Pincus, who had said his company was receiving no income from the booming music video service, because in the US VEVO had deals with the record companies (including Sony and UMG) that put the obligation to pay publishing royalties onto the labels, rather than paying royalties direct to the publishers - and the labels used contract clauses relating to promotional videos to say that the payment of song writing royalties could be avoided. An unhappy Israelite took this a stage further saying  "Today you have VEVO talking about reaching $150 million in revenue and wanting to grow to $1 billion, and a large amount of the music videos being played are not getting licensed [by our members] and publishers are not being paid. NMPA is going to put an end to that".

PPL collections up!

The UK's sound recording collecting agency PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) has announced its 2011 financials at the annual London AGM. The revenue generated by broadcast and online royalties was up 7% to £66.2 million, public performance income was up 10% to £55.0 million, and international monies grew 2% to £32.4 million. Overall £153.5 million was collected, of which £130.8million, or 85.21%  was distributed to the society's label and performer members.

PPL also announced the most played pop songs of 2011 which were 

1. Adele - Rolling In The Dee
2. Maroon 5 feat Christina Aguilera - Moves Like Jagger
3. Adele - Set Fire To The Rain
4. Jessie J feat BoB - Price Tag
5. Adele - Someone Like You
6. Ed Sheeran - The A Team
7. Lady Gaga - The Edge Of Glory
8. Bruno Mars - Grenade
9. Rihanna - Only Girl In The World
10. Forget You - Cee Lo Green

and the most Played Classical Pieces Of 2011
1. Ludovico Einaudi - Primavera
2. Ludovico Einaudi - Nightbook
3. Ludovico Einaudi - The Tower
4. City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra with Paul Bateman - On The Beautiful Blue Danube (by Johann Strauss II)
5. Philharmonic Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy - Fanfare For The Common Man (by Aaron Copland)
6. Philip Glass - Metamorphosis One
7. Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with Ludovico Einaudi - Divenire
8. Cleveland Orchestra with Lorin Maazel - Romeo And Juliet (by Sergei Prokofiev)
9. The Labèques & Philharmonia Orchestra with Semyon Bychkov - Concerto for Two Pianos in E major (by Felix Mendelssohn)
10. Dawn Upshaw & London Sinfonietta with David Zinman - Symphony No 3 (by Henryk Gorecki)

Elton to headline Peace One Day

Elton John will be headlining the Peace One Day concert, the final event of the London 2012 Festival and forming the biggest concert Elton will play this year. The event is scheduled for the 21st September, Peace Day and tickets go on sale on Monday 18th June for the Wembley Arena show featuring a headline performance by Elton John & his band. Further artists will be announced over the coming weeks and there will be a contribution at the concert from Peace One Day ambassador Jude law and Peace One Day founder and filmmaker Jeremy Gilley. The event promotes the annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

JB launches Energising Culture report

Energising Culture is the first in a two-part guide on future energy strategies for cultural buildings from Julies Bicycle. It aims to equip arts organisations with an understanding of the core issues around energy demand and supply, and implications for operational and investment decision-making.  Energising Culture makes the case for energy as a business-critical issue.

The guide covers practical and operational interventions, the current range of technological, compliancy and financial incentives, sources of funding and investment models available, and provides examples of innovative and bold responses to the energy challenge showing the potential of the cultural sector to galvanise its inherent creativity and resourcefulness to lead the way in both artistic and public communities.

The report also contains a review of international standards including BS8901 and ISO 20121 (both for sustainable event management systems),  ISO 14001 (environmental management systems)  Yourope's Green n Clean award for green fesgtivals, ISO 50001 for energy management, JB's own IG mark, EMAs (for environmental management systems) and Green Key but rather annoyingly misses out the "The international standard for environmentally efficient music festivals” - the Greener Festival Award - which operate in 5 continents and now assesses over 50 festivals globally each year - and is recognised as the leading environmental award for events and festivals as well as missing the ratings scheme run by the Sustainable Restaurants Association (SRA).

Morrissey settles NME libel claim

Morrissey has settled his defamation claim against the NME and previous editor Conor McNicholas after he accused the music weekly of twisting his words in a 2007 interview to make him appear racist. 

NME has published an apology over the 'misunderstanding'.

New application for .tickets internet domain aims to safeguard fans

The Dot Tickets organisation is spearheading an ambitious attempt to clamp down on the global multi-billion dollar ticket fraud problem by lodging an application with internet domain registry organisation ICANN to create a new tickets domain .TICKETS which would only be available to sites which meet high standards of consumer protection and security. The idea came about at ILMC 24 in March when technology panel co-chairman Steve Machin realised that an auction of internet domain names could provide the legitimate ticketing industry with a readymade answer to combat online fraud and provide secure and fair sites for fans.

As a result, when ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbersannounces the names of the expected 2,000 applicants for new domain words today it will include the .tickets application from Machin’s The Dot Tickets Organisation. The concept would allow legitimate ticketing companies to exclusively use a .tickets website, rather than the numerous .com sites that fraudsters can easily dupe people into using. The idea already has the backing of the Music Managers’ Forum whose CEO Jon Webster, comments, “Stamping out fraud in the ticketing industry is a significant challenge for the live entertainment industry and one that the MMF feels strongly about as it has a direct impact on our clients’ customers – the fans of live music. We believe that The Dot Tickets Organisation application and proposal will create a safe, secure and trusted environment online, making it easier for fans to spot scams online and to visit only trusted websites for ticket sales and information.”

Machin adds that is likely other organisations might apply for the .tickets domain name and he is seeking the support of ILMC members to back up the industry’s application ahead of ICANN’s ruling which is expected in January 2013. Anyone wishing to support the .tickets application should contact Machin via  hello@dotTICKETS.org or for further information visit http://www.dotTICKETS.org or http://www.facebook.com/dotTICKETS.

UPDATE (14th June)

5 groups have applied for .tickets - and 8 have applied for .music including Amazon and Google. 

Festival fun helps Highland cops balance books

This is the headline from the Ross-shire journal reporting that Scottish music festivals in the Highlands have helped the Northern Constabulary save £2 million in the last year. Policing huge outdoor events like this weekend’s RockNess event near Inverness has helped keep the force in the black and save £2 million out a revenue budget of £51.5m for 2011/12 which was underspent. The paper says "Scores of officers are needed to police the thousands of revellers who attend several large music festivals and one-off concerts which are annually held in the region including the three-day RockNess event, Tartan Heart at Belladrum near Beauly and Loopallu in Ullapool" and they are, of course, charged for.  Andy Cowie, the force’s deputy chief constable, did not know how much cash had been raised from the policing of festivals but said "The public purse should not be subsiding private enterprise".

Monday, 11 June 2012

The European Commission's have agreed to provide UMG with a statement of key objections to Universal's bid to buy the EMI record company.  The key concerns have been identified via the Commission's in depth investigation into the acquisition proposals. Although the statement of objections is a routine part of the EC's merger investigation process, it confirms that European regulators want some key issues to be addressed before the deal can be considered for approval. EU Competition Enforcer Joaquín Almunia said on Friday: "A company with a large and popular catalogue can have significant market power over digital platforms, which would have a keen interest to strike a deal with it. Ultimately, we will need to make sure that the company that would emerge from the deal would not be in a position to shape the future landscape in the digital music market to the detriment of users and artists". Welcoming the concerns expressed so far by the Commission, Helen Smith of IMPALA, the pan-European trade body for the indie label sector and one of the most vocal opponents to the deal, said"We welcome this news and expect to see a strong statement of objections confirming the Commission's earlier findings that Universal is a danger in the physical and digital market because it cannot be adequately constrained by competitors, customers or piracy". The Commission hopes to make a ruling on the Universal/EMI deal by the 6th Sep. The Federal Trade Commission in the US is concurrently reviewing the merger, while the transaction is also due to be debated in US Congress by the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee on the 21st June.

'Legal High' death at Rockness

Scottish police are investigating whether a teenager who died at a Rockness took a “legal high” drug used by two of his friends, who have been hospitalised. Alex Heriot, 19, from the Portobello area of Edinburgh, died on Saturday night after collapsing next to the main stage at RockNess, near Inverness. Two friends aged 19 and 20 who were in the same group as Mr Heriot – and had taken the drug Benzo Fury - became ill and were taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. RockNess event commander Superintendent Stevie Mackay said: “Early indications are that the man may have consumed drugs and this is one of the lines of inquiry at this stage. A post-mortem will be carried out to determine the cause of death.”  In a completely separate road incident two other people died when a coach ferrying festival goers to the event collided with a van on the A9 near Ralia in the Highlands. The deceased were named as Mark McFarlane and Barry Murray, both from the Glasgow area.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

48 hours in the USA and three rappers dead

Well known rapper, Lil Phat (real name  Melvin Vernell III, 19) had been shot dead. Lil Phat, a member of Trill Entertainment whose roster includes Lil Boosie and Webbie, was shot and killed on Thursday night outside an Atlanta hospital. The same night Kamakazi-Mazi (22-year-old Marshawn Stephanie) and another 26 year old male were shot dead outside a party in  Chicago. Three other males were shot in the incident, and one remains in a critcal condition. And Stockton rapper Real Saul was shot after performing at a 80s and 90s throwback party at Club TX in Lathrop, CA. He  died in the arms of his brother. Two other people were injured in the shooting.

Photo: Webbie (L) and Lil' Phat (R)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

New conference on copyright and live music in the UK

10th July: "The UK music industry - copyright, business models and the next steps for the Live Music Act" chaired by Lord Tim Clement Jones and Mike Weatherly MP and featuring, amongst others, Richard Hooper (Digital Rights Exchange), Geoff Taylor (BPI), Rob Hallet (AEG Live), Brian Message (Music Managers Forum), Will Page (PRS), Sandie Shaw (Featured Artists Coalition) and Alison Wenham (AIM). Morning only, Tuesday 10th July. £190 and some concessions apply. Organisers say that they will try to accommodate you even If you find the charge for tickets a barrier to attending. Book online here.

Friday, 8 June 2012

American musicians complain about film work

American musicians have complained that the music featured in the Avengers Assemble movie is distinctly unpatriotic - with British musicians hired to perform and record the sound track. Members of the American Federation of Musicians demonstrated outside Marvel Studios saying that whilst the film had benefited from $30 million in tax breaks, producers 'ran overseas and exported US jobs' when it came to the music. The UK's Musicians Union responded by pointing out that many film scores were recorded at studios such as Abbey Road and Air Studios in London, and cheaper recordings could be achieved in Eastern Europe. A similar protest took place in  January in protest at the music for The Hunger Game being recorded in Britain, where it is estimated 90% of Hollywood films scores are produced.

Hill tax blues

Lauryn Hill has been charged with failing to file income tax returns in the USA. Prosecutors say that the rapper failed to file returns for $1.6 million of income in the three years from 2005 - 2007. Hill, 37, an eight time Grammy winner, is due in the New Jersey District court on June 29th. If convicted, the 37-year-old mother of six faces a maximum of one year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine on each count. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Wowfest joins the cancelled list

Wowfest, the new festival which was planned for  17-19 August on the Isle of Wight and featuring UB40, Alabama 3, Echo & The Bunnymen and Paul Okenfold amongst others, has been cancelled, adding to a growing list of UK events that have been pulled this year. The event had caused some concern after local traders, residents and press complained that two directors of the organising company, Wow Festivals Ltd, Philip Snellen and Geri Ward, had previously been involved in the Isle of Wight Jazz Festivals in 2007 and 2008 and the Island’s Folk and Blues & Festival which reportedly left a trail of debts owed to suppliers and musicians.  Previous line up announcements for the Festival had  included Annie Lennox, Robert Plant, Paulo Nutini and Elbow.

Wow Festivals Limited issued a statement saying

“Following consultations and full consideration, it is with heavy hearts and much regret that we have been forced to announce the postponement of WOWfest 2012.

Putting the festival together, in what is proving to be a very challenging year and with damage inflicted by anti-festival lobbyists, was more difficult than we anticipated. We have spent the last year fighting hard to establish and keep WOWfest in the calendar. 
Unfortunately circumstances have dictated that this is no longer possible to achieve in 2012.

Although great confidence had initially been shown by the Isle of Wight Council to grant a Premises License for 18,000 rising to 22,000 capacity over a three year period and to further grant permission to run an event of that size under the Isle of Wight Act there are many forces trying to prevent the event happening. There is no doubt of the WOWfest team operational capabilities to deliver such an event.

However, the Isle of Wight Act conditions imposed by the council on the 18th May required a lump sum payment of over £140,000 for Council and Emergency Services to be brought forward to the 31st May. The conditions also stipulated the need for a financial bond of an unspecified and potentially unlimited amount to be made to the Isle of Wight Council.”

The Local Authority imposed some 100 new conditions on May 18th as well as the £142,215 payment for police, fire and council costs saying that the issue of making organisers pay costs in advance was because Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary had said in a written submission presented to the meeting that "The rationale for this request is due to the amount of information we have received in relation to the financial standing of the promoters and their previous history with payments of monies owed.”

Organisers say that a plan to downsize to a smaller 5,000 capacity event also met with resistance from the Police. The Police said the move, to exclude the event from the Isle of Wight Act, still meant that they had “grounds for believing the promoters of Wowfest do not have the financial capacity to ensure that this public event can be provided safely and without causing undue disruption to the community.

Wow Festivals Limited say full ticket refunds will be made.

Tennessee to investigate ticket bots

The Fan Freedom Project has announced that it has requested that Tennessee Attorney General to look into the use of ticketing bots in the sale of tickets to a recent concert from rising country singer Eric Church. Following on from an investigative work by NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, it was discovered that many tickets to a recent sold out concert from Church were purchased by a suspiciously large number of ticket resale outfits located throughout the US

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Beatles museum to close

Hamburg's Beatles museum, which houses more that 1,000 artefacts about the Fab Four (actually the fab five when they were in Hamburg), is set to close at the end of June after losses of E3 million.

Folkert Koopmanns, boss of German promoters and festival organisers FKP Scorpio said that the local authority has failed to support the venture, and the museum was "condemned to fail" without public money to top up income from an average 50,000 visitors each year.

Czar boss guilty of dug trafficking

James (Jimmy Henchman) Rosemond, boss of Czar Entertainment and manager of the Game, Akon and Shyne, has been convicted of drug trafficking and money laundering charges, likely sending him to prison for the rest of his life. Hip hop mogul Rosemond, 47, slumped in his seat as the Brooklyn jury forewoman pronounced him guilty of every charge on the verdict sheet. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lan Nguyen had called the defendant a drug "kingpin" who used the music business as a front for his cross-country cocaine distribution ring.

Image: Harlem World 

Diamond Jubilee concert reaches 17 million

Coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert in front of Buckingham Palace on BBC1 TV topped 14.7 million as people tuned into the three hour plus concert, with a peak audience of 17 million viewers in the UK.

The show, put together by Take That's Gary Barlow featured Elton John, Alfie Boe, JLS, Grace Jones, Jools Holland, Annie Lennox, Madness, Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams and Paul McCartney. Tens of thousands of people watched the show live.

This is our favourite Jubilee clip - Grip the Dog playing live in Keswick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lakkwXiFo40

Friday, 1 June 2012

AEG snap up Apollo

HMV have confirmed that AEG will be buying the Hammersmith Apollo from HMV’s live division, MAMA. The venue is being brought by Stage C, a joint venture between AEG Live subsidiary Ansco Music Club and CTS Eventim's getgo Consulting for £32 million (E38 million).