Tuesday, 31 March 2015

London's Crucifix Lane to close

Another London club bites the dust. South London club Crucifix Lane will close after the Easter Weekend. As with Cable, located close to Crucifix Lane in the London Bridge arches, the closure has been forced by Network Rail’s expansion of London Bridge train station. The venue has existed under different names for over 20 years, hosting shows by the Chemical Brothers as early as 1994 as part of Andrew Weatherall’s Sabresonic weekly. It opened in its present guise at the beginning of 2011,  A press release from the club reads that “the establishment is at it again … Crucifix Lane is the next London nightclub to fall foul of rich redevelopers and callous gentrification. Just around the corner from Cable (a club that suffered the same fate not so long ago) and in the same set of railway arches, Network Rail are coming in to batten down the hatches and take control of the space to make way for London Bridge Station expansion."

More here

Wilco takes a stand against Indiana's "religious freedom" law

Wilco have taken a stand against Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Chicago alternative rock band said they were cancelling their Indianapolis tour date in protest against the recently enacted Indiana law that critics say could allow businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian patrons by refusing service. “We’re canceling our 7th May show in Indianapolis,” the band tweeted adding “’Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination.”  Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law, which he says is intended to keep the government from infringing on a business owner’s religious beliefs. And a new parody of Broadway song ‘Gary, Indiana’ also takes aim at Indiana’s new anti-gay law - recorded by YouTube star Randy Rainbow - the song was originally included as an ode to the state. Rocker John Mellencamp said Indiana's religious objections law was a "stain" on his home state.


Indiana Govenor. Mike Pence has asked lawmakers to send him a clarification of the State's new religious-freedom law later this week - although Arkansas legislators have passed a similar measure, despite criticism that it is a thinly disguised attempt to permit discrimination against gays.  Actor Nick Offerman is unhappy with the Indiana government and  tweeted Tuesday that he and wife Megan Mullally would be canceling the scheduled Indiana stop of their “Summer of 69: No Apostrophe” comedy tour, UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie will not be traveling to the Final Four this week, abiding by a travel ban ordered by Connecticut's governor because of Indiana's new religious-objections law, and the Indianapolis Star is urging Indiana lawmakers in a front-page editorial to respond to widespread criticism of the new law. headlined "FIX THIS NOW" the article covers the newspaper's entire front page. It calls for lawmakers to enact a law that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2015/03/31/3488130/indianapolis-star-calls-for-law.html#storylink=cpy

and here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/30/indiana-anti-gay-law_n_6969286.html

Ticketmaster faces anti-trust law suit from StubHub

In what could prove to be a landmark case in the sports ticket marketplace, Live Nation's Ticketmaster is being sued by eBay-owned StubHub over its official alliance with the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Ticketmaster is the primary ticket seller for the Warriors, and also operates the official season ticket resale platform, where tickets can be officially resold. The basketball team threatens to cancel any tickets it sees being touted on other secondary sites, like StubHub: reselling a ticket is usually a breach of the terms and conditions of the original purchase. The threat has apparently worked. StubHub claims that listings for Warriors tickets, which is currently the hottest ticket in the NBA, are down 80 percent in the past year.

But StubHub has alledged that this amounts to anti-competitive behaviour on Ticketmaster's part. The eBay firm says in its complaint: "If you are a Warriors fan and you want season tickets, you have one choice: buy them through Ticketmaster". The company's General Counsel Michelle Fang then told Bloomberg that her client was suing in the interest of Warriors' fans, adding of Ticketmaster's motives: "Given that they haven't been able to win when we've competed on a level playing field, they're trying to compete unfairly".Ticketmaster responded to the litigation, saying: "We are disappointed that StubHub has filed a baseless lawsuit that asks the courts to help prop up its business against true fan-friendly competition. NBA teams like the Golden State Warriors have implemented ticket exchanges powered by Ticketmaster because they want ticket resale to be a secure experience, not an opportunity for scalping and fraud".


TIDAL relaunches with star studded bore-fest

Beyonce, Nicki Minaj,  Alicia Keys. Jack White, Usher, Arcade Fire, Jason Aldean, J Cole, Kanye West, Madonna,  Daft Punk and Deadmau5 all joined Roc Nation boss Jay-Z for the re-launch of the "artist-friendly" streaming service TIDAL - with  Calvin Harris and Chris Martin skype-ing in.  The FT cites sources who claim that the artists were given their 3% shareholdings gratis alongside a cash sweetener of up to $3 million, in return for agreeing to front the streaming platform - which at $19.99 a month costs twice what other similar services are charging albeit TYIDAL will feature a number of "exclusives", including first-plays of new albums and other exclusive content.  You can see a truly appalling video here

More on Gawker here

Wall Street calls foul over Sillerman's half price SFX bid

Wall Street has "cried foul" over Robert Sillerman's plans to take his electronic dance music empire SFX Entertainmt  private again -  at a price one critic called “an insult to investors.” Sillerman  is looking to take SFX private at $4.75 a share. While the price is a 44 percent premium over SFX’s closing price when the offer was made - it's less than half the price the company listed at - $13 per share in October 2013. Rich Tullo, an analyst with Albert Fried & Co., after calling the offer “an insult,” and encouraged SFX to hire an investment bank to solicit bids from suitors such as AEG, Live Nation and MSG. Sillerman has combined 20 global electronic dance music brands — including Awakenings, Disco Donnie Presents, Electric Zoo and Tomorrowland into a new music powerhouse -  andone with an attractive audience: T-­Mobile recently announced it is sponsoring an SFX Beatport music app. Tullo told the New York Post that he expected revenue to rise from $370 million this year to $400 million-plus next year. Sillerman has asked the SFX board to appoint a committee to consider his proposals.

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Universal Music's President Of Global Digital Business, Rob Wells is leaving the company. UMG chief Lucian Grainge said "I will miss Rob's professionalism, his sense of humour and his commitment to our artists and labels. Rob leaves big shoes to fill and we will be making announcements in the coming days". David Ring, a long-term digital specialist at UMG and most recently Executive VP Of Business Development & Affairs is also departing the major. 

Frank Taubert, the founder and boss of 24-7 Entertainment, a long-standing back-end provider of digital music services, has announced he is leaving the firm to "pursue some new opportunities in the digital media business".

American music rights firm The Bicycle Music Company has confirmed the appointment Jake Wisely as CEO. he was formerly co-President at the company. 

The Agency Group (TAG) booking agent Rob Zifarelli whose acts include Airbourne and the Jezabels has been promoted to Senior Vice President.

ASCAP has announced that Brian Roberts will be the collection society's new COO.

Having lost both their Chairman, Martyn Rose, and Henriette Gotz, the executive director, The English National OPera has appointed Cressida Pollock to be its new interim Chief Executive, reporting to the Board (and not to the ENO's artistic director John Berry). The Arts Council has stripped the ENO of its regular funding and required new structures after concerns over Mr Berry's role. Ms Pollock was previously a management consultant with McKinsey and her clients included the ENO.

AEG Live has named Mark Norman as Senior Vice President of Global Touring and Gary Gersch as President of Global Talent.Global venue managemet giant SMG has appointed Nina Jackson as Regional Director of Marketing for the Midwest USA. She retains her marketing and PR role at NRG Park. 

Twitter's chief music man Bob Moczydlowsky, who joined the social network in 2013 from TopSpin, is leaving the company.

Fearne Cotton is leaving BBC Radio 1. Cotton, who also announced she is expecting her second child last week, told reporters of her decision to quit Radio 1: "After much time and careful thought I have decided to leave Radio 1 after ten amazing years. I have had the most incredible decade broadcasting on Radio 1, meeting wonderful people, helping break artists and watching live music from the world's best". When Cotton leaves in May, her daily 10am-1pm slot will go to newish BBC Radio n1 Sunday night Chart Show host Clara Amfo, who will continue to front the Top 40 countdown programme for the station - although the record industry's move to a Friday global release day may affect this,

Music publisher Sony/ATV have announced the appointment of Rick Krim to the role of Co-President of its US operations.

The London Symphony Orchestra has announced Simon Rattle as its new Music Director, luring him back from Germany, where he has been Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002. rattle recently gained the support of UK Chancellor George Osbourne in his campaign to build a new  world-class concert hall in London. He said the capital was one of only two major world cities to be without a “proper” venue for orchestral music.

Global Radio's recently launched US division, which is expanding the media group's artist management, music publishing and live business, has announced some appointments. With Randy Phillips now leading Global Entertainment,  their new Global management division has appointed Monti Olson, formerly of Universal Music Publishing, to head up Global's publishing operations; Bob Semanovich, who comes from Capitol Records is Global's SVP Marketing; Nicola Carson, formerly of Modest!, becomes VP Artist Management in LA; and back in London, where the Global music business is also expanding, Ben Karter, who joins from James Grant Management to head up GM Recorded Music in the UK. In addition some existing Global Entertainment execs get new roles within the expanded business, with Paul Adam becoming SVP A&R and Rachel Wood VP Artist Management in London.

Jez Bell is returning to PPL as Chief Licensing Officer. Bell had previously been Director Of Broadcast And Online for PRS For Music, though in more recent years he has been working for digital platform provider Omnifone, and its sister company Rara. At PPL, Bell takes over from Tony Clark, the society's Director Of Licensing, who is retiring after fourteen years with the music rights body. 

Music PR man Jon Bills, most recently with Murray Chalmers PR and before that at Parlophone, has announced that he is launching his own business, Bills PR, a "cross-platform music publicity agency".

Former PPL communications chief Jonathan Morrish is to provide PR consultancy to the UK's other big collecting society PRS For Music, following the departure of the organisation's marketing and communication heads, Ben Anderson and Gill Corish, last month.

Kylie Minogue has parted ways with Roc Nation, who she engaged for management services just two years ago having parted company with her long time manager Terry Blamey.

BBC Radio 1 is set to makecuts in its live music output as the BBC pop station seeks to meet budget demands caused by the freezing of the licence fee in 2010. The cuts will affect Radio 1's  commitment to providing live session opportunities within specialist shows and its coverage of an eclectic range of third-party concerts and festivals.

Steve Martin has been made a partner at Agency for the Performing arts (APA) having spent 14 months as vice-president of worldwide music. He joined APA from The Agency Group. 

Gracenote has hired Ethan Kaplan as its new Senior Vice President and General Manager Of Music. He was previously at Live Nation Labs.

Zayn Malik has left One Direction saying "My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I'd like to apologise to the fans if I've let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart" ading "I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22 year old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight", he continued, his decision coming after the latest round of tabloid speculation about his love life. "I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world".

Kanye West has signed with United Talent Agency (UTA) after leaving CAA and longtime agent Cara Lewis. "The decision to change agencies is based on Kanye's continuing desire to diversify and search for new opportunities", a spokesperson said.

Ashley Charles, aka rapper Amplify Dot, has been hired as an A&R consultant by Warner label Parlophone,

The BPI has announced that its Head Of PR, Lynne McDowell, is to leave the organisation at the end of this month in order to launch her own communications company.

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has released the results of its biennial election for the Board of Directors. ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williams announced the twelve writer and twelve publisher members elected to serve on the Board for a two-year term beginning April 1st, 2015. Newly elected writer member in the at-large field is composer/producer Marcus Miller. In addition to Paul Williams, the writer members who were re-elected in the at-large field are: songwriter Marilyn Bergman; composer Richard Bellis; composer Bruce Broughton; songwriter-producer Desmond Child; composer Alf Clausen; composer Dan Foliart; songwriter Valerie Simpson; songwriter Jimmy Webb; and composer Doug Wood. Elected in the Symphonic and Concert field is composer Alex Shapiro. The publisher directors re-elected in the at-large field are: Martin Bandier, Sony/ATV; Caroline Bienstock, Bienstock Publishing; Barry Coburn, Ten Ten Music; Laurent Hubert, BMG Gold Songs; Dean Kay, Lichelle Music; Leeds Levy, Leeds Music; Mary Megan Peer, peermusic; Matt Pincus, SONGS Music Publishing; Irwin Z. Robinson, Cromwell Music; Michael Sammis, Universal Music Publishing Group; and Cameron Strang, Warner Brothers Music. Re-elected in the Symphonic and Concert field is publisher James Kendrick, Schott Music Corporation/European American Music Corporation.

Dermot O'Leary has announced that he is leaving 'X-Factor', after eight years hosting the show.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

BBC Radio 1 reduces live music output - and revamps the chart show

BBC Radio 1 is dropping the number of live music sessions from 250 to 160 and the number of live events that BBC Radio covers will drop from 25 to 10. Expensive outside broadcasting is being cited as one of the reasons for the cull, which will impact on the range of live music events and festivals aired on the Beeb. The Trust has agreed to the cuts to enable savings – it has also agreed to narrow Radio 1’s quota for coverage of major live events and festivals so that it excludes special editions of live sessions, and includes only BBC and third-party major live events.

The BBC Trust's review of BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3, 6 Music and Asian Network found that the stations perform a vital role in the development and promotion of UK music. With specific reference to the BBC’s coverage of live music events, the Report addresses concerns from commercial operators, but said that it found no evidence of disadvantage despite comments from the commercial radio sector that said that while 6 Music is capable of providing exemplary coverage of live music and festivals, such as Glastonbury, its coverage of major events may affect its ability to cover smaller events and that it distorts the market, by preventing commercial operators from gaining a foothold but the Review said "we have seen no evidence that the live market is being unnecessarily distorted by BBC events or coverage.”

And Radio 1's 'Official Chart Show' is moving to Friday. The move follows a global agreement by the music industry to release all new albums and singles on Fridays.
It means the chart will now be compiled on Friday mornings, with Radio 1 the first to reveal the latest number one. From July, the big top 40 countdown will air between 4-6pm on Friday afternoon. Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper confirmed the new show would be an hour shorter than the current incarnation, airing from 16:00 to 18:00 GMT, allowing the Dance Anthems slot to remain on the schedule saying "That means we will not be playing every single record in the Top 40," he said. "We will be a little bit more choosy about the records we play in those two hours."



Music producer and sound engineer Akis Kollaros, 34, has died in a cycling accident after he collided with a tipper truck turning left in Homerton High Street in East London. A graduate of the London College of Music, Mr Kollaros set up his own studio and produced albums by groups at the forefront of the UK’s new heavy metal scene. He also worked as a sound engineer at clubs around the capital including The Nest nightclub in Dalston and the Old Queen’s Head in Islington.

Rock Scully, manager of the Grateful Dead from 1965 - 1985 has died from cancer. He authored the 2001 book "Living With The Dead - Twenty Years on a Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead".

New Romantic pioneer Steve Strange has died of a heart attack in Egypt at the age of 55.The Welsh singer, fashionista and club organiser found fame in the 1980s as frontman for Visage whose best known hit was Fade To GreyMarc Green, label manager at August Day Recordings, said: "We are extremely saddened to announce that Steve Strange died at 11.15 local time on Thursday February 12 in Sharm el-Sheikh International Hospital, Egypt. Strange also managed the Blitz Club in Soho, central London, a focal point for the New Romantic movement. Strange's agent, Pete Bassett, told the Press Association: "He will be remembered as a hard-working, very amusing and lovable individual who always was at the forefront of fashion trends."

Paul "Bomber" Jackson has died. One tribute to the long term Judas Priest team man read "I'll raise a Staropramen tonight to a man who had probably forgotten more about RnR than I will ever know

Lesley Gore, the singer-songwriter probably best known for the hit she scored aged sixteen with the track 'It's My Party', has died aged 68. Discovered by Quincy Jones and signed to Mercury Records in her teens, Gore's other hits included 'Judy's Turn to Cry' and 'You Don't Own Me'.

Daevid Allen – one of the "key psychedelic rangers, a member of Soft Machine and frontman of the sprawling communal psychedelic space rock ensemble Gong has died of cancer aged 77. One of the great psychedelic pioneers and the definition of rock eccentric and "plain brilliant guitar player and our favourite loon" said Louder Than War. Allen, although an Australian by birth, created his own parallel universe in the UK - or perhaps elsewhere - called Planet Gong, populated by 'pothead pixies' and with its own radio station - 'Radio Gnome'. Gong were signed to Virgin Records.

Bill Thompson, manager of Jefferson Airplane and the band's various offshoots and projects, has died aged 70.

Singer-songwriter Gavin Clark has died. Until recently he had been working with UNKLE.

Jackie Trent, the singer songwriter who successfully co-wrote with and married Tony Hatch has died aged 74.  Born in Newcastle under Lyme she left school and headed to the bright lights of London aged just 15. Her hits included "Where Are You Now" and  "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love"  and with Hatch she co-wrote the theme to "Neighbours". She divorced Hatch in 2002 and married Colin Gregory in November 2005, and the couple lived in Spain.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Mancherster's Roadhouse will close

It has been confirmed that Manchester gig venue The Roadhouse will close later this year, with the last show due to take place on 31st May. A series of "memorable send-off gigs and club nights" are now planned between now and then.

More Artist and Manager Awards announced

Ahead of this years Artist And Manager Awards Placebo and agent Paul Fenn have both been added to the winners list.  The awards are a collaboration between the UK’s Music Managers Forum and the Featured Artists Coalition. Placebo will take the Artist's Artist Award and FAC Co-Chair Sandie Shaw said: "Placebo represent all that is great about artists today - twenty years of creativity, control of their own destiny, willingness to take risks, all of which has garnered a worldwide sustained career. They are a role model for young artists and an inspiration to us all". Asgard owner and veteran booking agent Paul Fenn will be presented with the Industry Champion Award in recognition of his long career in the live sector, and his work with both the Agents Association, UK Music and the Concert Promoters Association. MMF boss Jon Webster said: "Paul Fenn's experience has benefited hundreds of artists and managers by making sure legislation about live issues passed by Government has been fit for purpose".

The awards, sponsored by DICE, will also recognise Ed Sheeran and his manager Stuart Camp (Artist and Manager Achievement Award), Jackie Davidson (Writer/Producer Manager award), Jim Beach (Peter Grant Award), Henry Village (Entrepreneur award) and Imogen Heap (Pioneer award). 

The Artist And Manager Awards  www.amawards.org

Sunday, 22 March 2015

T site owners defend festival

The owners of the Strathallan Estate have defended their decision to host T In The Park amidst criticism from some locals and two nature groups. The move is still being considered by Perth And Kinross Council after an initial consultation resulted in 523 submissions, with slightly more against than for the proposal. RSPB Scotland and the Woodland Trust Scotland, while not lodging formal objections, have raised concerns about an event the size of T In The Park coming to the Estate. But the co-owners of the site, Jamie and Debs Roberts, insist T coming to their property will be good for the local area and the local economy, and dispute some of the cobservations made by the RSPB andthe  Woodland Trust. They told the BBC: "Our family has owned Strathallan Estate for more than a century and it is with a deep sense of heritage and responsibility that we steward the land and the buildings we are fortunate to be responsible for".

A second public consultation is being held to consider the festival taking place at Strathallan, with council officials seeking more information from DF about their plans.

Streaming revenues, downloads and physical sales approach parity in US

Figures from the U.S. show the increasing importance of streaming for the recorded music sector as the  shift from physical to digital, and from download to stream continues.  2014 figures from the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) show revenues getting ever closer to being split three ways between physical, downloads and streams:  27% of US recorded music revenues now come from streaming services is in no small part down to SoundExchange whose compulsory licence revenue very nearly equalled revenues from fully on-demand streaming services like Spotify, which are licensed by the labels directly although SoundExchange treats likes of Sirius - a satellite radio service - as streaming revenue. Directly-licensed freemium services brought in about a third of what was made from directly-licensed subscription services last year, despite having many more users, but that doesn't include ad-funded services using SoundExchange licenses, such as Pandora. RIAA figures show download revenues down 8.7% so that they represent 37% of the wider market, while CD sales were down 12.7% meaning that, despite the 'vinyl revival', physical product accounted by 32% of income. 

Hermjo Klein's named cleared in German case

The chairman and CEO of Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG), Peter Schwenkow, says he is delighted a court case has restored a business partner’s integrity, by proving that statements the associate made years ago were true. The Higher Regional Court of Zweibrucken rejected an appeal by Fiba Veranstaltungsservice, owned and run by Andrea and Uwe Fischer, against a judgement in 2013 that they should pay retained ticket sales revenue of €371,000 ($415,400) originally due to Hermjo Klein and his ACT Artist Agency. The non payment caused ACT to go into liquidation according to Schwenkow.

CK expands in South America

Colombia-based CK Concerts has opened a new office in Lima, Peru, as it extends its operations down the length of South America’s Pacific coast. Audience erports that the first show promoted by the new office will be James Blunt at Lima’s Anfiteatro Parque de la Exposicion (cap. 4,000). The company now operates in in Chile, Peru, Columbia and Equador.

CTS Evetim face competition enquiry but anti-trust claims against LNE dismissed

Germany's competition regulator is invetsigating CTS Eventim's dominant position in the market. Eventim has received a request for information from Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office) following the announcement of its recent joint venture with Netherlands-based Stage Entertainment. Eventim is also planning to acquire Arena Management, manager of the 19500 capacity Lanxess Arena in Cologne. CTS Eventim turnover was  E711 in last financial year and it own See Tickets, TicketsOne (Italy) and Ticketcomer (CH) as well as part owning FKP Scorpio which itself promotes numerous European festivals incuding Hurricane, Southside, Deichbrand, Highfield-Festival, Chiemsee Summer und M’era Luna Festival, Elbjazz, A Summer's Tale, die beiden Indoor Festivals, Metal Hammer Paradise und Rolling Stone Weekender in Germany:  NorthSide (Dänemark), Tinderbox (Dänemark), Getaway Rock Festival (Schweden), Bråvalla Festival (Schweden), Where's The Music? (Schweden), Provinssirock (Finl;and), Indian Summer Festival (Niederlande), Best Kept Secret (Niederlande) Greenfield Festival (CH).

In the USA, accusations that Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) violated federal and state anti-trust laws, interfered with contracts and used unfair competition tactics has been thrown out by a federal court in Maryland. The court dismissed all claims in a lawsuit filed in 2009 by promoter Seth Hurwitz’s companies It's My Party (IMP) and It's My Amphitheatre (IMA). 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Arthurs are out!

The International Live Music Awards - or the Arthurs as they are known - have been awarded at a glittering gala dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London. The Arthur awards – which have a voting pool of over 4,000 of the world’s leading concert business professionals – are now in their 19th year. The Awards ceremony, hosted by CAA's Emma Banks, also featured a show from renowned master mentalist Lior Suchard who drew gasps of amazement from a seasoned audience with a series of mind reading, telekinesis and predictions stunts. So who were the live music industry's favourites?

Venue: The Royal Albert Hall

Promoter: Phil Bowdery (Live Nation)

Festival: Rock Werchter

Agent: Geoff Meall (The Agency Group)

Production Services: EPS

Professional Services (the most professional professional)  Martin Goebbels (RTIB)

Assistant: Samantha Henfrey (The Agency Group)

Ticketing: CTS Eventim

Tomorrow's New Boss: Maarten va Vugt (Greenhouse Talent)

The Bottle Award: Marcel Avram (European Concert Agency)

Music Venue Trust Publishes Research Report

In December 2014 the music charity Music Venue Trust organised the first national gathering of small and medium scale music venues from across the UK, Venues Day 2014 (see right). This week sees the publication of the research conducted by the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in the lead up to and during Venues Day.

Understanding Small Music Venues is a discussion document about how these venues operate, the challenges they face and the role they play. It invites the music industry, cultural sector, government and brands to respond strategically and constructively to protect, secure and develop them.

Over 120 venues and 300 delegates took part in the research project, which depicts a culturally rich grassroots sector upon which a diverse range of stakeholders depend for employment, training, social interaction, community engagement and cultural sustenance.  The report highlights significant challenges (regulation, licensing, public perception and the rapidly changing urban environment) which threaten their survival and have combined to have a demoralising impact on venues, artists and audiences.  However, the report also highlights that that there is will, know-how and ingenuity to take positive steps to secure the future of grassroots music venues, and concludes with a call for activism, advocacy, support and above all investment in the network so that artists and audiences can enjoy the world class music venues the UK deserves. 

Responding to the report's conclusions, Music Venue Trust Strategic Director Beverley Whitrick said:

"We see the publication of this report as the key moment when the music industry, cultural sector, government and brands can seize the opportunity to listen to and learn from venues, artists and audiences enabling them to respond constructively and strategically to give them the calibre of venues the UK needs. Today, we're announcing a mechanism by which they can do that: The Grassroots Investor programme.

Grassroots Investor is a two phased strategic intervention into our grassroots music circuit designed in response to what we've learned from the report. Firstly, we want to urgently create one central agency that is able to represent grassroots venues and defend them at a national level. Our crisis management programme will employ a central legal team, acoustics team, a lobbying arm and create a central crisis fund so that collectively we do all we can so that music venue closures are halted, national policy is changed, and this sector's needs, so clearly expressed in the report, are addressed properly by cultural strategy and by licensing, insurance and legislation.

In phase two of Grassroots Investor, our ambition is to put direct investment into grassroots venues so that UK artists and audiences can enjoy the venues they deserve.  A combination of low aspiration and severe under investment means we've ended up content to describe this sector as the "toilet circuit" and accept conditions in them that reflects all that description implies. There are examples from round the world of world class venues at this level, and through Grassroots Investor we aim to work with our partners to match those standards here in the UK".

CEO of the Music Venue Trust, Mark Davyd, added:

"A huge proportion of the music we export, which generates thousands of jobs, develops the artistic careers of our best writers and musicians, and is such an important part of the UK's standing on the international cultural stage, starts in a grassroots venue. This is the research and development department of our major international music industry and we have to face facts; despite the incredible passion, dedication and commitment of the people running these venues, what we're offering at grassroots level doesn't meet the high standards we've set elsewhere in UK  music.

The UK is a music world leader, punching vastly above its weight in terms of the impact our artists and musicians make across the globe and generating a turnover of £1.6 billion.  Our UK music scene is built on a robust ecosystem that starts with a first live concert in front of as few as ten people on a Tuesday night in Guildford and climaxes with 3 nights at Wembley Stadium. This is the training ground and the entry level experience for our artists, new audiences, lighting engineers, sound technicians, and cultural organisers at all levels. It isn't good enough that we are letting small venues close for the sake of good legal representation or letting venues fall into disrepair because of lack of available investment.

We have the people with the skills and passion ready to run them, supported by artists and audiences across the country that are calling out for better facilities. With Grassroots Investor, everybody who has an interest in this sector can work together to maximise impact through strategic, sensible and sustainable investment. Instead of the piecemeal approach of the past it’s time to address the whole grassroots circuit and give their work the respect and value it deserves".

The Music Venue Trust has recently launched its new website at www.musicvenuetrust.com where audiences and artists can add their voices to the call to support Grassroots Investor.

Music Venue Trust has already been appointed to chair panel looking at the future of music venues in the capital. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced the creation of the capital’s first Music Venues Taskforce, which is to look at steps the city can take to protect and secure its vital network of live music venues.

A full copy of Understanding Small Music Venues can be downloaded online: http://musicvenues.org.uk/

Monday, 9 March 2015

Weatherley welcomes review of online copyright sanctions in the UK

Mike Weatherley
Mike Weatherley MP has welcome the UK's Intellectual Property Office's report into criminal penalties for copyright crimes. Weatherley had highlighted the disparity between penalties for offline and online copyright infringement, with copyright crimes leading to up to ten years custody for physical piracy - but a maximum of two years if the crime takes place online. The IPO has confirmed this and has now suggested that UK copyright law should be amended so that serious online copyright infringement is treated in a similar way to offline activities that those activities result in similar levels of harm to copyright owners. Responding to Weatherley, who had previously been Prime Minister David Cameron's advisor on IP, IP Minister Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote: "I am writing to update you on the study commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office into criminal sanctions available for online copyright offences. I know that you have taken a keen interest in this matter and that you have pressed for action to be taken to address what you felt was an anomaly in the level of penalties available for online copyright offences" adding "Given the uncertainty surrounding the potential impact brought by the increase to custodial sentences, the Government agreed to commission an independent review of the issue. In assessing the need to amend legislation, researchers have since analysed a range of a conviction data, consulted with a range of stakeholders, and considered the impact of recent interventions in this area" although she then added "The report points towards there being some logic to increasing custodial sentences for serious online copyright offences. However it does emphasise the need for appropriate safeguards to ensure ordinary members of the public, whose copying is not motivated by criminal intent, are not inadvertently caught by any amended provision".

Welcoming the IPO's report, Weatherley told reporters: "It is encouraging that evidence shows the need for legislation to change in order to harmonise penalties for physical and online offences. Bringing about this change has required significant pressure on Government, but I am pleased that this report once again entrenches the fact that the UK is leading the way on IP enforcement".

Weatherley went on to say: "I hope that the Government after the next election will ensure that the recommendations in the report are adopted and that overdue changes in legislation are on the horizon. Additionally, I believe that the introduction of an IP Director General would hugely benefit the UK and be an important figure for international IP collaboration".

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Live Nation buys into Swedish EDM promoter

Live Nation has made another acquisition by taking a majority stake in Stockholm-based EDM specialists Stureplansgruppen Live (SPG). Confirming the deal, Live Nation's John Reid told reporters: "Since we own and operate a large number of big and successful EDM festivals globally - Electric Daisy Carnival, Hard Fest, Holy Ship! and Creamfields - it is both exciting and natural that we acquire SPG Live, especially given that many of the biggest artists in this segment internationally are from Sweden". Meanwhile SPG Live's Anders Boström said: "We are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished with SPG Live, and at the same time very happy and excited about what's about to come. As part of Live Nation and its organisation around production, marketing, PR, sponsorship and their long experience of big events, we will be able to lift our business another level while retaining what have made our festivals and concerts so great".