Thursday, 31 January 2013

Brazilian nightclub owner 'wishes he had never been born'

The owner of the Kiss nightclub in southern Brazil where more than 230 people died in a fire last weekend has said he wishes he had never been born, and has deflected blame to architects, safety inspectors and “the whole country”. His lawyer,  Jader Marques, said his client, Elissandro Spohr (28), "regretted having ever been born" because of his grief over the fire, but still blamed Sunday's tragedy on "a succession of errors made by the whole country." Spohr and co-owner Mauro Hoffman have been arrested along with  Gurizada Fandangueira member Marcelo Santos who was arrested at the wake of band member Danilo Jacques who died in the fire.

As the toll of those injured continued to grow as some 22 of those who escaped returned to hospital with respiratory complications, police investigating the blaze have confirmed it is likely to have started when the band Gurizada Fandangueira lit an allegedly cheap outdoor flare, which ignited soundproofing foam on the ceiling. That initial error was compounded by the near-total lack of emergency infrastructure such as a fire alarms or sprinkler systems. It also seems that the club also had only one working door, one or more faulty and sub-standard fire extinguishers and has not been inspected in the last twelve months.  A number of details are disputed by the local Fire Department.

Marques denied reports that the club was overcrowded, insisting there were only 600 to 700 people in the club at any one time – below the 700 capacity. One performer told media that the space was packed with an estimated 1,200 to 1,300 people and local Police have given the same estimate but Marques insisted that any higher tallies of people at the club that night were due to club-goers cycling in and out

As Brazil looks forward to hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, lawmakers in the lower house in Brasilia have already begun working on a proposal that would require federal safety minimum standards across Brazil rather than state regulations.  Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who met with the bereaved relatives, has called for a stricter safety rules across the country. The newspaper O Globo reported that the mayor's office in Santa Maria has ordered all nightclubs closed for 30 days while inspections are carried out and The BBC reported that mayors from at least eight major Brazilian cities, including seven of the 12 World Cup host cities, have thus far announced new measures aimed at preventing similar tragedies.

More here and here 

Sonicbids acquired by Backstage

Sonicbids, the privately held, Boston-based platform that allows bands to connect with promoters and market themselves online, has been acquired by Backstage, a provider of casting, auditions and entertainment-industry opportunities. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Founded in 2001, Sonicbids has exclusive partnerships with events that include South By Southwest and CMJ Music Marathon.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Brazil the latest scene for another nightclub disaster

News reports are coming in that at least 231 people have died in a fire in a Brazilian nightclub, with fears that the death toll could rise further. The blaze, at the Kiss nightclub in the city of Santa Maria, in the south of Brazil, apparently began when a band lit a flare or fireworks which ignited sound proofing foam on the ceiling. Guitarist Rodrigo Martins, whose band Gurizada Fandangueira was playing at the time of the fire told Radio Gaucha: "We had played around five songs when I looked up and noticed the roof was burning. It might have happened because of the Sputnik, the machine we use to create a luminous effect with sparks. When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher, and our singer tried to use it but it wasn't working". Reports suggest that as furniture and fittings in the club started to burn, toxic fumes spread, adding to the death toll.

Eyewitnesses also say that fire extinguishers in the venue didn't work, and that the evacuation of the building was hindered because security guards - not realising what was happening inside - wouldn't let people leave the club before they had settled their tabs, the venue seemingly operating a special card-payment system. Around 200 people have been injured and television pictures showed fire fighters trying to break down walls with sledgehammers and axes to get people out of the club. Reports say that the venue was 1,000 people over capacity when the blaze started in the University town. and it seems that there was no emergency exit available and people rushed to the only way out of the building in panic, local officials said. Some people died of asphyxiation, others from being trampled, they added, most aged between 18 and 20.

It's grim reading and what has anyone learned? Back in 2003 the Great White disaster in the USA left 100 dead when the band's fireworks ignited sound proofing at the Station nightclub in Rhode Island. A tragic venue fire in a club in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2004 left 174 dead. The disaster at the Santika Nightclub in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2008 left 61 dead, and the fire at the Lame Horse nightclub in Perm, Russia, killed 112 in 2009, and again caused by fireworks igniting the venue's plastic ceiling. In Scotland, tragedy was narrowly averted at the Luna nightclub in Edinburgh when indoor fireworks, predictably, ignited plastic netting across the venue's roof in 2009. And it happens AGAIN?

Police in Brazil have now made four arrests. It is thought that the four men arrested include two co-owners of the venue destroyed in the fire, the venue’s security chief and one member of Gurizada Fandangueira, the band playing when the fire occurred. Police stressed that the arrests so far were for "investigative purposes". One of the owners of the club is reported to have confirmed that they were in the process of renewing its licence to operate, and that its fire safety certificate had expired last year.
Photo from Facebook/1santamariense and shots  from amateur videos here and here

G-A-Y founder regains company from HMV

The founder of the G-A-Y franchise, Jeremy Joseph, has revealed that he has put his own home on the line to regain control of his business, which includes the original clubbing brand, the G-A-Y labelled bars and London venue Heaven. HMV was a major shareholder in the G-A-Y company as a result of its 2010 acquisition of the MAMA Group and HMV’s administration last week meant that Joseph needed to get a deal done quickly to buy back his profitable company - Joseph says he was forced to withdraw money from his own bank account to keep G-A-Y operating last weekend. Joseph now has a loan from Metro Bank secured on his own home and other business interests.

Islamic extremists drive Mali's music away

Rokia Traore

In a telling interview in the Times, Mali singer Khaira Arby, the 'Nighingale of the North', has said that Islamic extremists have threatened to 'out out my tongue' if they capture her. Khaira has been driven from her home in Northern Mali by fundamentalist thugs, and members of the al-Qaeda linked Ansar Din are looking to impose a strict and conservative version of Sharia law accross North Africa - which would ban music. Khaira's musical instruments and recording equipment were destroyed by religious police when she fled her home in Timbuktu. The world famous Festival of The Desert has relocated to Burkina Faso and renamed the 'Caravan For Peace'. The Glastonbury Festival has already announced Malian singer Rokia Traore as one of a number of Malian artists to be booked at the festival this year  in an act of solidarity with musicians in Mali.

You can see Africa Express's co-founder Ian Birrell's thoughts in an interesting piece in the Observer that  says that music is vital to political struggle across Africa – not just in Mali and says that banning music in Mali is outrageous, not least because it's crucial to the country's wellbeing. More from Ian here

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Power Behind Festivals - new edition launched

The Green Festival Alliance have produced a new revised version of the Power Behind Festivals Guide  - with more detail and new case studies in the most comprehensive and accurate guide to sustainable power at outdoor events. This Guide won’t tell you how to run your festival or why you should care about climate change. What it will do is give you sector-specific knowledge, ideas and tips you need to save fuel and increase your energy management skills, reducing your carbon footprint and cutting the unnecessary costs as a result. You can download the Guide here

Friday, 25 January 2013

AEG announce their London summer time

AEG Live have outlined their plan's for  live events in London's Hyde Park in 2013, spear headed by a brand new event, the Barclaycard-backed British Summer Time. The new event will comprise two weekends of live music plus an intervening programme of film, theatre, literature and sport, and the Park will be divided into four "themed zones" -  "specially designed installations and entertainment, high quality restaurants, bespoke salons, pubs, cocktail bars, cafes, bistros and independent food stalls".  Bon Jovi have been confirmed as the  first headliner at the new event.  AEG Live Event Director Jim King said: "After a great deal of planning and hard work, we are so proud to announce what will no doubt be an incredible event for London. We literally started with a blank canvas and in Barclaycard British Summer Time, we have created what we believe to be the ultimate in summer events".

Gangnam Style chalks up $8 million

As well as revealing that Google generated revenues of $50 billion last year, a financial update from the web giant yesterday also says that that Psy's 'Gangnam Style' has generated over $8 million in ad revenues via YouTube since going online last summer - although it's not clear how much of the $8 million went to the artist and his business partners. The video has been viewed 1.23 billion times to date.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Did Beyoncé lip synch on Barak's big day?

It seems Beyoncé  may have mimed her rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner at President Barack Obama's inauguration - the story leaked after a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps Band told The Times in a "last minute" decision, Beyoncé had opted to perform to a pre-recorded backing track and confirmed that the band itself was not playing live. Thousands in a live audience were joined by millions of people who tuned in to watch the president be sworn in for his second term in office. The ceremony was punctuated by performances from James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson, as well as Beyoncé  who sang the national anthem. You can make your own mind up here

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

93 Feet East to close

East London nightclub and gig venue 93 Feet East is to close after Tower Hamlets council revoked its alcohol and entertainment licences following a police raid last month where ten arrests were made, mostly in relation to the possession and supply of drugs, including a member of the venue's management team.  Tower Hamlets Council launched a review of 93 Feet East's licence on 12 December based on information provided by the Metropolitan Police. Earlier this month the decision was made to revoke the venue’s licence, forcing its closure.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Wireless and Hard Rock head East

Live Nation will move its central London festivals Wireless and Hard Rock Calling to the Olympic Park in East London, after ending its relationship with the Royal Parks. AEG now has the rights to stage events at Hyde Park. Live Nation will move Wireless and Hard Rock Calling, and possibly other concerts, under a new partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation to use the Olympic Stadium ahead of a full opening of the complex to the public, under the name Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, in 2014.

AEG sale taking longer than expected

Tim Leiweke, CEO of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, has said that the much reported sale of the live entertainment major is well under way, but told Billboard that talks are taking longer than expected because of the number of parties interested in bidding for the firm. Last September the Anschutz Company announced its intent to sell its entertainment business, which owns and operates a network of venues worldwide, including London's O2 dome, as well as having extensive interests in sport (especially in the US) and owning  AEG Live with tours by Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi and Kenny Chesney already under way alongside festivals such as  Jazzfest, Coachella and StageCoach. 

HMV administrators to reinstate gift vouchers

After appalling negative publicity, Deloitte, the administrators at HMV,  have said that the stores will now accept their own gift vouchers, which were being sold right up to the point the retail chain went into administration. All money raised by HMV for various charities, including through sales of the Justice Collective single, will also be paid over in full. However promotional vouchers and loyalty cards are still not being accepted in stores, and are unlikely to be during the administration.

Ebay moves ticketing to StubHub

eBay is phasing out its ticket resale service in the UK in a bid to push users over to the British version of StubHub, the eBay-owned secondary ticketing service that launched over in the UK last March.

Friday, 18 January 2013

MMF and FAC call for more action on term extension

The Music Managers Forum (MMF)  and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) have called for an artist-centric approach to copyright term extension when it's implementation is considered in the United Kingdom. The two trade bodies, representing managers and artists respectively, said that while labels will benefit hugely from the upcoming extension of the sound recording copyright term from 50 to 70 years, and session musicians will receive tangible benefits too, the longer copyright term offers a "mixed bag" to featured artists, many of whom are in long term contractual relationships paying poor royalties - and are sometimes unrecouped despite significant sales. The  MMF and FAC had hoped that when the UK Intellectual Property Office considered requirements in the European Directive for some artist-centric rules to be included as part of term extension, they might propose giving artists the right to renegotiate record contracts at 50 years. That is not part of the IPO's current consultation on term extension, though a 'use it or lose it' clause and 'clean slate' provision are, both of which MMF/FAC welcomed. Though they also called for a standard minimum artist royalty to be introduced at the 50 year point.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Jaton takes over at Montreux

Mathieu Jaton has been named the new head of the Montreaux Jazz Festival, taking over from founder Claude Nobs, who last week following a skiing accident over the Christmas period. Jaton, who has been with the festival since in 1999, took over management responsibilities for the festival after Nobs' accident and will head up the festival for its July 5th - 20th outing in 2013.

A tribute concert for Nobs will take place at the Stravinsky Auditorium in Montreaux on the 8th February, following by another event in New York this spring. In addition an event at the Royal Opera House in London, which Nobs was working on prior to is death, is scheduled to go ahead on 26-27 July.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

MySpace relaunches

The new MySpace officially launched to the public today, unveiling a revamped site focused on music. Co-owner Justin Timberlake's presence is immediate as upon joining (which can be done using Facebook or Twitter logins or through a separate sign-in process) users are offered a free stream his new single featuring Jay Z, "Suit & Tie". We would have written it off, but with Facebook’s recent gaffs, maybe the new service will claw back users - although you can't actually even look at the new service without 'joining' which strikes me as daft. Doomed anyway?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

HMV perapres to go into administration

The UK's last remaining music retail chain, HMV,  is about to into administration, with the future of the 240 strong chain and 4,300 jobs at risk. 

Previous CEO Simon Fox had spearheaded a failed attempt to move into live music, and recent reports said that it was only credit lines from the major record labels which were keeping the ailing retailer alive. In the run-up to Christmas HMV's boss Trevor Moore warned the entertainment group was in trouble as he revealed the chain was in talks with banks over its future following worse-than-expected trading over the festive period. HMV joins camera and photography group Jessops and electrical retail chain Comet in the growing number of UK retail casualties, 

Friday, 11 January 2013

Henning Toegel and Claude Nobs

Henning Töegel, managing director and founder of the German concert agency, Moderne Welt, has died. He suffered a heart attack on January 9th at the age of just 58. 

And Claude Nobs, founder  of the Montreux Jazz Festival, has died after sustaining injuries in a skiing accident at Christmas. He was 76. Born in Montreux, Nobs grew the festival year-on-year to become an important fixture in the jazz world's calendar and, as the music policy of the programme expanded somewhat, in the wider European festival circuit. And the event continues to enjoy much success today, attracting an eclectic mix of artists, and gaining particular attention for its annual awards.

Both will be much missed.

Henning Toegel

Claude Nobs

What fans want - green events - and their favourite band!!

A new survey from Buckinghamshire New University and music industry campaign group A Greener Festival of nearly 2,300 festival fans from around the World shows that the public is increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of events – but – when it came down to it, would prioritise getting to see their favourite band over environmental issues. The research asked festival fans fifteen questions on green issues. Fans responded from 32 countries worldwide and the survey was supported by festivals including Glastonbury, Open Air St Gallen in Switzerland, Melt! Festival in Germany, The Cambridge Folk Festival, Illosaarirock in Finland and the Oya Festival in Norway. 

When asked the question: Where do you think festival’s have a negative environmental impact? fans identified noise (76.5%), waste (87.4%), CO2 emissions (56.1%), water wastage  (55.3%), traffic  (81.4%) and land damage (65.5%) as major issues - but most felt that it was the festival organiser  who should be responsible for reducing the impact of the event (90.0% of fans), compared to 30.3% who thought local authorities should be responsible and 79.7% who thought festival goers themselves should be.
86.6% fans said they would support recycling initiatives although Claire O’Neill from A Greener Festival said “whilst 86.6% of fans say they will recycle – we know that a substantial minority – probably one in five – leave tents and other camping gear behind at festivals which causes a huge headache for organisers – and the environment. A whopping 86% supported the composting of food waste. The results give ammunition to event organisers, on-site catering teams, bars and stall holders to implement environmentally friendly practices, which a large majority of the audience actually want
28.1% of festival fans said they did consider a festival’s environmental impact when choosing to go to an event (up from 21.8% in a similar survey 2008) but the majority of did not with 25.4% not sure. When asked if they would go to an event if their favourite band was playing – even of the event had no green policies – 86.5% of fans said that they would still go.
Photo: Denis O'Regan (c) 2011 Glastonbury Festivals Ltd

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Wilko Johnson diagnosed with terminal cancer

Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson has been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas, his manager Robert Hoy announced yesterday. He has opted not to receive chemotherapy.

European Festival Awards - the winners!

With outstanding live performances from Jake BuggC2C and Bernhoft, the 2013 European Festival Awards, held at the De Oosterpoort at the EuroSonic conference and festival in Groningen in the Netherlands, were a sell out success last night (January 9th). And, as host Ben Challis said just thirteen times to events, organisers and artistes from across Europe as the Awards were handed out, the winners are:

BEST NEW FESTIVAL  WINNER: Electro Magnetic (Germany)

BEST INDOOR FESTIVAL  WINNER: Sensation (Netherlands)

FESTIVAL ANTHEM  WINNER: Lykke Ly  I Follow Rivers


BEST EUROPEAN FESTIVAL LINE-UP  WINNER: Rock am Ring / Rock im Park (Germany)




PROMOTER OF THE YEA   WINNER: Pukkelpop (Belgium)

BEST SMALL FESTIVAL   WINNER: Tauron New Music Festival (Poland)

BEST MEDIUM-SIZED FESTIVAL   WINNER: Heineken Balaton Sound (Hungary)

BEST MAJOR FESTIVAL  WINNER: Tomorrowland (Belgium)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD   WINNER: Herman Schueremans (Live Nation Belgium)

The Awards were organised by Festival Awards Limited, Yourope and EuroSonic Noorderslag and sponsored by Planet Festival, Intelligent Venue Solutions and ID&C.

The European Border Breakers Awards were also handed out at the preceding show in the Grote Zaal hosted by Jools Holland, and the international winners are
  • Nabiha (Denmark)
  • Ewert and The Two Dragons (Estonia)
  • French Films (Finland)
  • C2C (France)  winners of the overall Public Choice Award
  • Emeli Sandé (Great Britain)
  • Of Monsters and Men (Iceland)
  • Dope D.O.D. (Netherlands)
  • Amor Electro (Portugal)
  • Juan Zelada (Spain)
  • Niki and the Dove (Sweden)
 More on the EBBAs on the Eurosonic-noorderslag website

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

SESAC sold, Sony and Syco profits up

Investment firm Rizvi Traverse Management, which has various existing interests in the entertainment industry (including co-ownership of the Playboy empire), has acquired a 75% majority stake in the smaller of the American publishing rights collecting organisations, SESAC, which (unlike ASCAP and BMI) is a commercial entity rather than a not-for-profit organisation.

Sony Music have filed accounts in the UK which show that in the financial year that ended during 2012, Sony's UK record company saw revenues fall 2.4% year-on-year to £191 million, but pre-tax profits nevertheless grew 128%, from £6.6 million to £15.2 million. In the 
financial year ended 31 Mar 2012, Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment (in which Sony has a 50% stake) saw turnover nearly double, shifting from £28.1 million to £54.7 million, with profits up from £3.2 million to £22.9 million. Much of the boost came from the growth of Syco's US interests, in particular the launch of 'X-Factor' in America, with US operations now accounting for nearly 42% of total turnover.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Bowie Back

Veteran music star David Bowie has broken years of silence and speculation to release his first single and album in a decade. The glam-rock singer, who has not performed live since 2006,  has released Where Are We Now? on iTunes to coincide with his 66th birthday. A follow-up album called The Next Day is set to be released in March. The new track has been produced by long-term collaborator Tony Visconti, and the video for it can be seen here

The end of the iPod?

There is an interesting Washington Post article by Caitlin Dewey looking at te results of a recent Accenture report on consumer demand for a range of devices. Dewey questions whether changes in technology and consumer demand will signal an end of the iPod, the digital camera and the DVD player with Dewey saying “Techies predictably love their smartphones, tablets, computers and HDTVs, those multitasking devices that can screen the latest episode of Downton Abbey and tell you the weather. But demand for cameras, music players, DVD players and other single-use products has plummeted" adding that according to the report in 2012 nearly a third fewer people owned DVD players than did a mere three years befor

Monday, 7 January 2013

Max Hole is Universal's worldwide number one

Max Hole, currently COO of Universal Music Group International, has been promoted to the role of Chairman and CEO of Universal's worldwide division, which incorporates all of the major's non-US operations.

And in other record label news, it seems BMG and Sony will be making a joint bid for EMI's Parlophone label.  The two companies are one of around twelve parties still thought to be bidding for the label Universal Music is being forced to sell by European regulators as part of the deal struck to secure approval of the Universal/EMI label merger last year. BMG has already successfully bid for the Mute catalogue in the same process.

Virgin Retail shut up shop in France

The Virgin France entertainment retail company is facing insolvency, with the record shop owner already terminating the lease on its Paris store and expected to meet with unions later today to discuss the fate of the firm's 1000 employees. And Spotify has confirmed it will stop selling downloads in Europe with the latest upgrade of the streaming service's player. The move, while interesting, is unlikely to have a major impact on the European downloads market, given that Spotify's sell-through MP3s service was always very low key, so much so many users wouldn't have even noticed it was there.

Claude Nobs in Coma after skiing accident

We have just learned that Claude Nobs, the legendary figure behind the Montreux Jazz Festival, is in a coma following a skiing accident during the Christmas holidays. According toLe Matin, he fell while skiing alone on December 24th and, although he was able to return home after the accident, his condition later worsened and he was unconscious when emergency services took him to hospital. Our thoughts are with Claude.

Friday, 4 January 2013

UMG on the hook for HMV?

The Telegraph has reported that Universal Music has ended up with EMI’s liability for the leases on 40 HMV stores, something that could become a £150 million problem if the entertainment retailer was to go under in the new year. EMI committed to guarantee about 40 HMV leases when the retail firm, previously a division of the music major, was spun off as an independent business in 1998. 

Haim top BBC poll

Universal signed Haim have been announced as winners of the BBC Sound Of 2013. The sisterly LA trio steadily grew in popularity over the course of 2012, and were one of the most talked about acts at last year’s Great Escape festival in May.  AlunaGeorge, came in as runner up  in the poll, followed by Angel Haze, Laura Mvula and Chvrches. The full longlist also featured BRITs Critics Choice winner Tom Odell, as well as  Little Green Cars, King Krule, Peace, Savages and The Weeknd, amongst others.

UK Sonisphere cancels again

Another UK festival has announced it is cancelling its 2013 edition and will not return until 2014. Metal fest Sonisphere - which cancelled in 2012 - was expected to return in 2013 and at the recent UK Festivals Conference, the boss of the festival's promotor, Kilimajaro Live's Stuart Galbraith, said plans were well underway for Sonisphere UK to return next summer, calling the 2012 cancellation a "hiccup" .

Azoff quits Live Nation

Irving Azoff has announced that he is parting ways with Live Nation, the company he led after creating Front Line, the world’s largest artist management company, which in turn was sold  to Ticketmaster and then merged with Live Nation. According to The Wrap, Azoff said: “Life at a public company ain’t for me. The board pays you what your worth, then you get reamed for your compensation. They don’t like the way you elect directors, you should be giving options. It’s horses… You can’t be an entrepreneur and work in a public company anymore.”  Azoff has confirmed that he will setting up a new company with management clients including The Eagles, Christina Aguilera, Van Halen, Steely Dan and Jennifer Hudson.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Lostprophets frontman remanded in custody on child sex allegations

Ian Watkins, the 35 year old singer with the Lostprophets, has been remanded in custody until the 13th March over charges of conspiracy to rape a child and five other child abuse charges. Two females aged 20 and 24 from Doncaster and Bedford have been charged as co-defendants, and all three appeared by video link at Cardiff Crown Court on the New Year's Eve.