TODAY'S TOP STORY: London clubbing venue Fabric is among a list of cultural businesses that will each receive more than £1 million in grant funding from the Arts Council England Culture Recovery Fund. A total of 35 organisations were among the latest CRF beneficiaries to be confirmed on Saturday, with this round of funding providing each grant recipient between £1 million and £3 million... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Fabric among the venues to receive more than £1 million from the Culture Recovery Fund
DEALS Sony/ATV signs After Midtown
LIVE BUSINESS Harry Styles invests in new Manchester arena Co-op Live
MEDIA UK commercial radio sector calls for more COVID support as new restrictions impact on local advertisers
Bauer secures another FM spot for Greatest Hits Radio in Greater Manchester

ARTIST NEWS Eddie Van Halen's son hits out at band line-up rumours, as Pasadena considers memorial to late guitarist
RELEASES Sigur Rós to release Odin's Raven Magic
AND FINALLY... Billy McFarland placed in solitary confinement by Ohio prison following launch of Fyre Festival podcast
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Fabric among the venues to receive more than £1 million from the Culture Recovery Fund
London clubbing venue Fabric is among a list of cultural businesses that will each receive more than £1 million in grant funding from the Arts Council England Culture Recovery Fund. A total of 35 organisations were among the latest CRF beneficiaries to be confirmed on Saturday, with this round of funding providing each grant recipient between £1 million and £3 million.

The Culture Recovery Fund is distributing a significant portion of the £1.57 billion in sector-specific COVID funding provided by the UK government to the cultural and heritage industries. The monies distributed are meant help recipient companies weather the ongoing COVID storm through to next April.

Previous recipients of CRF grants received no more than a million pounds. This round saw bigger grants, with a number of larger music and theatre venues around England among those getting a slice of the money.

Liverpool's M&S Bank Arena and the Bournemouth International Centre also received million pound plus grants, as did the likes of London theatres Sadlers' Wells, the Old Vic and The Globe, alongside the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Confirming the latest round of CRF grants, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Saturday: "As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, today we're saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million - from Shakespeare's Globe to the Sheffield Crucible. These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are. This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away".

Of course, there remains some controversy over the distribution of the Culture Recovery Fund grants, with some criticising how the money has been awarded, and in particular how some key venues have missed out on funding. A number of prominent dance music venues in London are among those who have missed out, though the dance music community will nevertheless be relieved that Fabric's application has been successful.

The venue says that it will use some of its £1,514,262 grant to pay rent, undertake critical maintenance and invest in the infrastructure that will be required when it re-opens, given the assumption some COVID restrictions will still be in place. Although some of the money will also be used for livestreaming, educational and community outreach projects.

The club said in a statement this weekend: "We're absolutely delighted to announce that we've been successful in our application for the Culture Recovery Fund. We're incredibly relieved to receive this support after what has been a very tense waiting period for everyone at Fabric, and would like to express our gratitude to the Arts Council England team and Department For Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for the faith they've shown in us. We also want to thank Music Venue Trust, NTIA and UKHospitality for their constant support throughout the pandemic".

"Like so many other cultural institutions around the world", they went on, "the last eight months have been some of the most challenging in our lifespan. With our doors closed and no source of income to sustain ourselves, simply paying rent and maintaining a 1500 person venue in central London has placed enormous pressure and financial strain on us as a business. The Culture Recovery Fund will be a vital lifeline for us, particularly as we expect to be unable to open for regular club events for the foreseeable future".

They added: "We're THRILLED that a venue such as ours has been recognised alongside so many of the UK's most prized institutions. Electronic music is culture and we are proud to have represented this scene for the last 21 years. While it's very difficult to look to the future in the midst of so much uncertainty, we sincerely hope that our community will be able to come together and bounce back stronger".


Sony/ATV signs After Midtown
Sony/ATV has announced the signing of country duo After Midtown - aka Adam Ernst and Michael Rotundo - coinciding with the release of their debut single, 'Boys Like Us'.

"Adam and Michael have a way of weaving their broad influences into a country/alternative rock gumbo that results in infectious, sing-a-long choruses with all the heart of what makes country music so special", says Sony/ATV Nashville CEO Rusty Gaston. "On behalf of all of us at Sony/ATV, we are fired up to welcome After Midtown to the team, and we look forward to spreading the gospel music".

After Midtown themselves add: "Finding an atmosphere where our creativity is understood and appreciated was important to us, and we know we found that with Sony/ATV. We feel blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing team all the way around".

Listen to 'Boys Like Us' here.


Harry Styles invests in new Manchester arena Co-op Live
That Harry Styles is investing in that new arena venue that is being built in Manchester because, well, I don't know why. Who the fuck knows! Maybe Styles reckons now is the time to be investing in live music. Maybe he deeply cares about the Manchester music scene. Maybe it's the Azoff connection. Maybe he really is that big a fan of the Co-op supermarket.

US-based Oak View Group got planning permission to build a super-duper new arena venue in Manchester last month. It then announced a partnership with the Co-op that will see the new venue operate as Co-op Live.

That partnership, Oak View boss Tim Leiweke insisted last month, "goes way beyond a normal naming rights agreement", because the customer-owned Co-op has good values, see, and the alliance includes "bold commitments on sustainability and community".

Styles says that as well as investing some of his pop star dosh into the new venue, he'll also play an active role in its development. "I'm incredibly proud and excited to be partnering with OVG on their plans for Co-op Live", he declares. "Manchester is an incredible city, filled with incredible people, and I couldn't be happier being involved in this project".

Confirming the alliance with Styles, Oak View's Francesca Bodie adds: "At OVG our vision is driven by a unique view that puts fans and artists first in every decision we make. There's no artist in the world right now better placed than Harry to advise us on delivering a first-class experience for visitors and artists at Co-op Live. We're focused on building one of the world's best arenas in Manchester and Harry's advice and consultation is going to be invaluable as we work to deliver that".

Yeah, maybe. Oak View was co-founded by US music industry veteran Irving Azoff, whose son Jeffrey manages Styles via their Full Stop Management business. So that's one connection between the pop star and the new Manchester venue. Styles, meanwhile, grew up in Cheshire, to the south of Manchester, so there's almost a local connection too.

And there's even a Co-op connection, apparently, if you're interested. Styles' first job while at school was delivering newspapers for the Co-op, see? Can that be true? I don't know. I do know that Styles' other job while at school was in a bakery just around the corner from and therefore directly competing with a Co-op supermarket.

But I'm sure all of us would have the most fond memories of working for a supermarket chain. Screw local independent businesses, I say. Although, perhaps Styles has equally fond memories for all his pre-pop star jobs, and will invest in another arena when that bakery finally puts its hand in its pocket and starts supporting live music.

On his new venue management role, Styles concludes: "I was drawn to this project on every level, from the opportunities it brings, to the contribution it will make to the city, and most importantly, that it will allow even more live music to thrive in Manchester. It's just another sign that this amazing city continues to grow".


UK commercial radio sector calls for more COVID support as new restrictions impact on local advertisers
The commercial radio sector has called for more financial support from the UK government arguing that the introduction of new COVID restrictions on a regional basis makes the output of local broadcasters all the more important, but puts a new strain on those broadcasters' commercial operations.

Trade group Radiocentre points out that for smaller broadcasters in particular, advertising from local businesses accounts for most of their revenues. As new COVID restrictions go into force - especially so called tier three restrictions which force more businesses to close - there will be another slump in local ad bookings.

On Friday, the boss of Radiocentre, Siobhan Kenny, wrote to John Whittingdale, Minister for Media at the Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

In the letter, she wrote: "Smaller operators, whose revenues derive significantly - up to 90% - from local advertisers have been particularly hard hit. This means that there is an immediate crisis that still needs to be addressed, as high fixed costs and dramatic falls in revenue still beset stations across the country".

Commenting on the letter, Kenny told reporters: "Commercial radio broadcasters continue to provide an essential public service role to listeners through news bulletins and information, which is even more important as regional restrictions are introduced".

"It's imperative that the government understands that while economic recovery is important, many broadcasters are still under significant pressure right now", she went on. "This pressure will only increase as tiered restrictions are introduced as these inevitably hit local revenues that disproportionally impact smaller stations".


Bauer secures another FM spot for Greatest Hits Radio in Greater Manchester
Bauer Media has secured yet another FM outpost for its Greatest Hits Radio brand, this time in Oldham in Greater Manchester.

The new FM frequency has come via an acquisition of independent local radio station Revolution 96.2, which for a time was owned by the DJ Steve Penk.

The station's current owners, Credible Media, also bought local newspaper The Oldham Evening Chronicle in 2017 and say that they are selling their radio station now so that they can focus their efforts on the Chronicle.

Bauer's Greatest Hits Radio is already available across Greater Manchester on AM, using the old AM frequency of the company's now defunct Piccadilly Radio. It also has some FM outposts elsewhere in Greater Manchester, including Wigan and Bolton.

Confirming the latest expansion of the Greatest Hits network, Bauer Radio boss Dee Ford said: "Manchester's diverse culture and rich musical history has always made it the perfect main broadcasting hub for the Hits Radio Brand Network".

"Home to our studios in Castle Quay", she went on, "Greater Manchester also remains a competitive market space, and so we're delighted to be able to take this important step in ensuring our listeners have greater access to this growing brand, as well as creating scale for advertisers".

Commenting on the deal from Credible Media's side, MD Matt Ramsbottom said: "Media is a tricky business at the moment, this deal will help us focus on the Oldham Evening Chronicle brand and its digital development plans for the future. We would like thank Dee and the Bauer team and wish them all the very best with the Hits network".


Setlist: Could Viagogo's StubHub merger be on the verge of collapse?
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including the UK competition regulator's conclusion that a merged Viagogo and StubHub would likely result in a "substantial lessening of competition in the online secondary ticketing market" and proposal that the whole thing be called off, plus the new report that warns that 170,000 live industry jobs are at risk as a result of the UK government's response to COVID-19.

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Eddie Van Halen's son hits out at band line-up rumours, as Pasadena considers memorial to late guitarist
Wolfgang Van Halen has responded angrily to rumours that he is set to take over his recently deceased father's lead guitarist role in Van Halen in a new incarnation of the band. "This is just a shitty lie attempting to capitalise on these awful times", he said on Twitter.

Originating in a Facebook fan group, the rumour was then shared by the website Metal Sludge on Twitter. It claims that Wolfgang Van Halen is set to take over lead guitar duties, with former bassist Michael Anthony returning to his role, vocalist Sammy Hagar replacing David Lee Roth again, and Alex Van Halen remaining on drums. The person who posted the story also claimed that Eddie Van Halen had given his blessing to the new line-up prior to his death.

Responding, Wolfgang Van Halen said: "Anyone peddling this shit is not only hurting the fans, but hurting me and my family".

Meanwhile, something that does seem to be true is that the city of Pasadena - where Eddie and Alex Van Halen grew up - is considering a permanent memorial to the late guitarist. This comes after a section of pavement near their childhood home, into which the brothers carved their names, became a makeshift memorial.

In a report prepared for a city council meeting on the subject later today, Van Halen is described as "a former Pasadena resident who went on to become one of the all-time greatest guitar players in rock n roll history". It goes on to make proposals for renaming a street or alleyway in the city in Van Halen's honour or constructing some other public monument.

It notes that renaming a residential street would probably be a bad idea, due to the likelihood that the renamed road will become a destination for fans and visitors. One possible location suggested is an alleyway currently known as Electric Drive, behind the Raymond Theater. The venue was formerly owned by David Lee Roth's father and was used for early Van Halen rehearsals.

Another alternative, it suggests, would be a plaque placed in a location significant to Eddie Van Halen. Possible locations include the Van Halen family home, Pasadena City College, or Hamilton Park, where the Van Halen brothers performed before forming Van Halen. Although it suggests the best location might be the Pasadena Convention Center and Civic Auditorium, which hosted some early Van Halen performances.

"Both Eddie and Alex Van Halen lived in Pasadena, have strong connections to Pasadena having lived in the city, attended its public schools, delivered newspapers for the Pasadena Star News and entertained local residents both during backyard parties and later on stage and through the radio", says the report.

"Recognising Van Halen the band and/or individual members should be considered", it goes on "With his passing, Eddie Van Halen's international recognition as a musical artist is noted for the significant impact he had on the rock n roll genre and his legacy is a source of hometown pride for the city".


Sigur Rós to release Odin's Raven Magic
Sigur Rós have announced that they will release their 2002 orchestral piece - 'Odin's Raven Magic' - as an album this December.

Based on a piece of medieval literature called 'Hrafnagaldur Óðins' - or 'Odin's Raven Magic', if you prefer - the album was created in collaboration with Icelandic musicians Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Steindór Andersen, while the record also features Icelandic choir Schola Cantorum and Paris-based L'Orchestre Des Laureats Du Conservatoire National.

Hilmarsson explains: "'Hrafnagaldur Óðins' has lots of interpretation and implications that fire up the imagination. It's a very visual poem, with images all about falling down, and a world freezing from north to south. It was an apocalyptic warning. Perhaps the people of the time felt it in their skins. Today, of course, Iceland is involved in environmental issues surrounding hydro-electric power and the destruction of the highlands. We are being warned again".

Originally commissioned for the Reykjavik Arts Festival in 2002, the piece was only performed a few times that same year and snippets of live recordings have long been shared by fans. The album version is taken from one of those 2002 performances, at the Grande Halle De La Villette in Paris.

The album is out on 4 Dec. Listen to the first track released from it, 'Dvergmál', here.


Billy McFarland placed in solitary confinement by Ohio prison following launch of Fyre Festival podcast
Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland has been placed in solitary confinement in an Ohio prison, seemingly as the result of him launching that new podcast aiming to tell his side of the story about the disastrous event.

According to the New York Times, McFarland has been isolated for 23 hours per day since a trailer for the new show, titled 'Dumpster Fyre', was shared online last week.

His attorney, Jason Russo, says that the Federal Bureau Of Prisons is planning to launch an investigation, although has not yet specified into what. However, the lawyer says that it may be due to photos of McFarland in prison, and with other prisoners, being used in that trailer.

"We believe the investigation stems from his participation in the podcast and the photographs that were taken and utilised in the trailer", says Russo. Although, he adds, those photos were all "properly taken - we don't believe he's violated any rule or regulation". Nevertheless, Russo says the issue has to be the podcast and the promotion of it, as "there can't possibly be anything else - he's been a model prisoner there".

Expanding on his point that neither the podcast nor its promotion breaks any rules, Russo explains that prisoners are allowed disposable cameras, and that photographs are screened by prison authorities before they are allowed out. Also, all phone calls made by prisoners are recorded and screened. Given that McFarland gave his interviews for 'Dumpster Fyre' in phone calls from jail, he adds, prison staff "absolutely should have already known" about the show.

Currently two years into a six year sentence for fraud in relation to the Fyre Festival, McFarland was previously placed in solitary confinement in another prison after being discovered with a USB hard drive onto which he was saving files for a "self-reflection book" he was writing. Somewhat ironically, in the first episode of the podcast he says that it was during that time in solitary that he realised the error of his ways and decided to dedicate his life to doing good.


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