|FRIDAY 6 JANUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|Hello and happy new year!
This first edition of the CMU Daily of 2023 rounds up stories from across the Christmas break, with all the big developments that happened over the last couple of weeks. We'll be back to normal service from Monday.
Don't forget, at the end of last year we reviewed the music business year that was 2022 - in both articles and a special edition of Setlist - and ran through our favourite tracks and albums of the last twelve months. If you haven't already, you can check all that out here.And now, let's catch up with everything the music industry was up to while we were away. See you back here again next week!
UK music consumption up again, as British artists fill top ten of 2022
Based on its crunching of Official Charts Company data, the BPI reckons that 159.3 billion audio streams occurred on digital music platforms in the UK last year, up 8.2% on 2021. This means that, in the average week, more than three billion audio streams are being played by British consumers across the various music services. Good times.
If you do the magical (and only slightly mysterious) maths that equates streams to album sales, streaming accounted for 86.1% of recorded music sales last year, in terms of units rather than cash through the till. As for the other 13.9%, that comes from the sale of downloads, CDs, vinyl and cassettes, of course.
Which of those sold the most? Go on, have a guess. That's right. It's the format we all love. The format that gets everyone excited. The nostalgia! The retro sensation! The warm glow as you set the listening experience in motion!
Yes, we're talking about the good old compact disc. Because who doesn't love a CD?! And, perhaps more importantly, we're talking about units here, remember.
Vinyl is now outperforming CD in revenue terms, but when it comes to units shifted, 11.6 million CDs were sold in the UK last year, compared to 5.5 million vinyl records. You can just get away with selling vinyl at a much higher price. There were also 3.7 million album download sales last year (somehow), while somebody somewhere bought 195,000 cassettes.
But what music specifically were British people streaming and buying and playing in 2022? British music, that's what. Good, proper, solid, honest, credible, dependable, reliable, healthy, nutritious, patriotic, dutiful and sensible British music. Just like God intended. The British God mind, not one of those foreign gods.
Because, yes, for the first time since records began every one of the top ten most consumed tracks in the UK last year was by or featured British artists.
Now this might be because the UK music community is on fire at the moment. Or maybe, in post-Brexit Britain, British music fans have now taken back control and kicked all of the foreigners out of their playlists.
Though the non-Brits in the 2021 UK top ten were from the kinds of English-speaking countries Brexiteers tend to like, so that can't be it. Let's all agree that the UK music community is just on fire at the moment. Hope it doesn't all burn down in 2023.
In terms of which British artists occupy the 2022 top ten, there are some current superstars, newer talent and, of course, good old Kate Bush. Here's the list of the ten most consumed tracks in the UK last year…
Commenting on all this British success, music-maker, educator and BPI Chair YolanDa Brown says: "It's wonderful to see so many exciting new artists breaking through to thrive alongside more established UK artists - leading the next wave of British talent to global success thanks to the compelling mix of their creativity and artistry, the ever-expanding opportunities afforded by streaming and the support of their record labels. I congratulate British artists and their teams on another year of brilliant success".
In case you're interested, here are some other year-end music charts for the UK courtesy of the BPI and Official Charts Company…
Albums (All Formats)
77% of British artists with a UK number one album last year come from outside London
Just over three-quarters of the British artists that had a number one album in the UK last year grew up or formed their bands outside of London. And if you split the country up into twelve regions - which people like to do, apparently. These regions in fact - artists from ten of them topped the albums chart last year.
So, hurrah for all that regional diversity. Although, given that London accounts for about 13% of the UK's population, Londoners can still presumably feel pretty smug that about 23% of last year's number one albums were by artists from the capital.
But did a Londoner make the album that had the longest stint at the top of the albums chart last year? Hell no! Because that was 'Harry's House' by Harry Styles, and he grew up in Holmes Chapel in Cheshire in the North West of England.
Other chart toppers from the North West region include The Wombats (from Liverpool); Liam Gallagher (from Manchester); The 1975 (from Wilmslow, Cheshire); and Blossoms (from Stockport, Greater Manchester).
Conrad Murray, who manages those there Blossoms, as well as Paul Heaton - who was also born in the North West, though is more commonly associated with Yorkshire, where he grew up - says: "As a Manchester-based manager, it's been evident for a long time that you don't have to be in the capital to succeed - the artists I represent are testament to that".
"Blossoms started out a decade ago in Stockport, where they grew up, and have now scored three number one albums, including [this year's] 'Ribbon Around The Bomb'. And since the first Housemartins LP back in the 80s, tellingly called 'London 0 Hull 4', Paul Heaton has been living proof of the exceptional music talent that exists across the entire UK. All these years later, alongside his long-time collaborator Jacqui Abbott, he is still making brilliant number one albums".
Though before you Northerners get almost as smug as the Londoners, please note that - of those twelve regions - it was East England that had the most number one albums this year after London, with new releases from Ed Sheeran (Framlingham, Suffolk); Don Broco (Bedford, Bedfordshire); George Ezra (Hertford, Hertfordshire); Charli XCX (Start Hill, Essex); Olly Murs (Witham, Essex); and Sam Ryder (Chelmsford, Essex).
Just departed BPI boss Geoff Taylor says of all this regional gubbins: "Scoring a number one album is high on the list of ultimate career goals for most artists, but one only a relative few fulfil. However, as the class of 2022 makes so clear, no matter where you are from in the UK, with the right music talent and support this is an achievable dream. From Scotland to the Isle Of Wight off the south coast of England, chart-topping artists came this year from almost every region and nation of the UK".
"Backed by the investment and support of record labels, this rich spread of artistic excellence is one of the cornerstones of why the UK has flourished as a music superpower for many decades, but we must not take this for granted", he goes on. "With the global music industry more competitive now than it has ever been and successful artists coming from absolutely everywhere, the talent we are blessed to have needs to be cherished, supported and protected so it can reach its full potential".
Vinyl revival increasingly powered by new releases, says BPI
That's according to the BPI's crunching of Official Charts Company data for 2022 album sales, including some figures relating specifically to the sale of vinyl albums, or 'LPs' if you prefer.
Of the ten biggest selling vinyl albums in the UK over the last twelve months, eight were records released last year. In 2021, only half of the top ten vinyl albums were new releases - and five years ago it was just three. Not particularly rigorous analysis, admittedly, put a nice simple illustration of a definite trend.
Says just departed BPI boss Geoff Taylor: "Vinyl's revival has been one of the most welcome success stories of recent times. While initially this renaissance was built largely on older music fans reconnecting with treasured past albums and on younger generations newly discovering classic releases, increasingly the ongoing rise in LP sales has been driven by brand new releases".
"A diverse and growing number of contemporary artists have recognised the enduring magic of this most beloved format", he adds, "from global superstars such as Taylor Swift and Harry Styles to breakthrough UK talent including Wet Leg and Yard Act. As the LP marks its 75th anniversary in 2023, it's as relevant as ever, highlighting that, in an age of streaming, physical music purchases remain an essential and healthy part of the music market".
In case you wondered (and would rather not scroll up to the top tens section above), the eight new releases that feature in the top ten vinyl albums of the year are - in order of chart ranking - Taylor Swift's 'Midnights', Harry Styles' 'Harry's House', Arctic Monkeys' 'The Car', Liam Gallagher's 'C'mon You Know', Wet Leg's 'Wet Leg', The 1975's 'Being Funny In A Foreign Language', Fontaines DC's 'Skinty Fia' and Muse's 'Will Of The People'.
Arctic Monkeys also have one of the older albums that made it into the vinyl top ten this year, with 2013's 'AM' at number nine, while Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' - from 1977 - is at number six.
Marilyn Manson sexual assault lawsuit dismissed after accuser misses deadline
Smithline claimed in her 2021 legal filing that the musician had violently assaulted her several times between 2010 and 2013 - allegations he denies.
In October, her lawyer was granted permission to step down from the case and the court gave Smithline three months to appoint new representation or officially confirm that she would be representing herself. The case was dismissed by default when that deadline passed yesterday without a response.
This is one of a four lawsuits filed against Manson - real name Brian Warner - in 2021, accusing him of multiple sexual assaults.
Two of these are still working their way through the courts - one from 'Game Of Thrones' actor Esmé Bianco and another from an unnamed woman. A third, filed by Manson's former assistant Ashley Walters, was dismissed last year after a judge ruled that the statute of limitations prevented the litigation from proceeding. Walters is currently appealing that decision.
Manson maintains his innocence, saying that all encounters were either consensual or have been fabricated. He and his legal team insist that the lawsuits have been filed as part of a coordinated plan by his former partner, actor Evan Rachel Wood, who has also publicly made claims about abuse during their relationship.
In a statement, Manson's lawyer Howard King made reference to this, and basically claimed victory in the Smithline case, saying: "We thank and commend Ashley Smithline for dismissing her claims against Brian Warner without seeking or receiving anything in return".
"Ms Smithline has refused to be manipulated by others who are trying to pursue their own agendas against Mr Warner", he added. "We wish her well and will continue to work to assure that a significant price will be paid by those who have tried to abuse our legal system".
As well as the civil lawsuits, there is also a criminal investigation into allegations against Manson ongoing. In September, prosecutors said that while a "partial" report into that investigation had been submitted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, more evidence was required before criminal charges could be considered.
Activist fails to become Warner Music board member in bid to uncover past sexual misconduct at label
If she had been successful, Carvello planned to use her board position to attempt to force the major music company to reveal information about past sexual misconduct within the business.
Carvello nominated herself for a seat on the WMG board last month, following a change to rules made by the US Securities & Exchange Commission last year, which makes it easier for minority shareholders in American companies to put themselves forward to join boards.
Warner said in a statement that "we value the input of all shareholders" but added that "anyone desiring to nominate director candidates must satisfy the standard requirements of WMG's bylaws, including being a registered shareholder".
While Carvello is a shareholder in the Warner Music Group, she bought her shares through online brokerage Robinhood, and it is that company that is named on those shares rather than her. This seems like something of a technicality, though Warner says that it did give her more time to resolve this and other issues, but that she failed to do so in time.
Had she been successful, Carvello would still have had to face a vote on her bid at the music company's next shareholder meeting. Whether she would have received enough votes is far from certain, not least because of the amount of shares owned by Len Blavatnik, who is unlikely to support her, according to the Financial Times.
"While this is an unfortunate attempt by the corporation to block an important mission, she will continue to seek to have her name placed on the ballot next year", a spokesperson for Carvello tells Billboard in a statement.
Carvello has been candid for some time about her experiences working in the record industry, describing them in detail in her memoir 'Anything For A Hit', which is now being adapted into a docuseries. Last year she launched the Face The Music Now Foundation, an organisation that supports survivors of sexual harassment and abuse within the music industry.
As well as Warner, she also owns shares in Sony Music and Universal Music, with a plan to rally other shareholders to pressure the music firms to cancel any NDAs currently in force over current or former employees that relate to harassment. And in September, as a shareholder in Warner Music, she asked it to share any records it has on sexual misconduct allegations - and other claims of bad practice - that have been made within the company.
Most recently, in December, she launched a lawsuit against Atlantic Records, claiming that she was sexually harassed and assaulted by senior management at the label when she worked there from 1987 to 1990, including by the label's co-founder Ahmet Ertegun.
This followed a similar lawsuit filed by talent scout and artist manager Jan Roeg against Atlantic and the Ertegun estate in relation to incidents that allegedly occurred when she worked for and with the Warner label in the 1980s.
Both lawsuits were made possible by a new law in New York state that allows alleged victims of sexual assault whose claims were previously barred by the statute of limitations to file new legal proceedings at any point over the next year. Multiple lawsuits targeting key record industry figures and the companies they worked for are expected as a result of the new law.
In response to both lawsuits, Warner noted that the alleged assaults dated back several decades, and that "many key individuals are deceased or into their 80s and 90s".
It added: "To ensure a safe, equitable, and inclusive working environment, we have a comprehensive code of conduct, and mandatory workplace training, to which all of our employees must adhere. We regularly evaluate how we can evolve our policies to ensure our work environment is free from discrimination and harassment".
While Carvello may not be set to join the Warner Music board this year, it seems that she will continue with other efforts to highlight allegations made against current and past record label employees, by herself and others.
Those efforts continue to draw media attention, which may mean that Warner and the other majors are ultimately forced to act in relation to past harassment and abuse at some point in the future.
De La Soul's early albums finally coming to streaming service in March
The legendary hip hop trio went public in 2019 about their negotiations with Tommy Boy and its founder Tom Silverman regarding getting the De La Soul albums released by the label streaming. They said that they could not accept the terms being offered by Silverman and that they were therefore ending all talks with the label.
This impasse continued, meaning that the group's classic albums remained unavailable digitally. However, in June last year Tommy Boy was acquired by Reservoir, paving the way for negotiations to recommence.
In August, rapper Talib Kweli posted an update saying that he'd been told by De La Soul member Maseo that the group were now in control of their masters, after which Reservoir confirmed that it was working to bring their albums to streaming services.
Since then, things had gone quiet, with no sign of those albums being made available. However, it was confirmed this week that we are now three months away from finally being able to stream them.
"We can't believe this day is finally here", say De La Soul in a statement. "We are excited to be able to share our music with fans, old and new. The Reservoir team have been great partners in this entire process. We're grateful that our relationship with them all has enabled this to happen".
Working with De La Soul's own AOI label, Reservoir's Chrysalis division will distribute the records: 1989's '3 Feet High And Rising', 1991's 'De La Soul Is Dead, 1993's 'Buhloone Mindstate', 1996's 'Stakes Is High', 2000's 'Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump' and 2001's 'AOI: Bionix'. They will be reissued on 3 Mar - the 34th anniversary of the original release of '3 Feet High And Rising'.
"As someone who has devoted my life to hip hop for over 30 years, my relationship with the guys in De La Soul dates back to my early days in the industry, and I can attest to how influential their catalogue is to the genre", says Faith Newman, Reservoir's EVP A&R And Catalogue Development.
"When Reservoir acquired Tommy Boy, the first call we made was to De La Soul. We vowed to bring their music to streaming, and it means the world to our team to make good on that promise and expose a whole new generation of listeners to one of the most important catalogues in hip hop history".
COO Rell Lafargue adds: "Bringing De La Soul's music to streaming services is a big moment for Reservoir, Chrysalis and fans everywhere. We identified this opportunity when we were in the preliminary stages of acquiring Tommy Boy".
"Over the past eighteen months, we have worked tirelessly with De La Soul, maintaining a heightened attention to honouring the group's original musical details, including bringing [producer] Prince Paul and the original team to the studio to prepare the catalogue for streaming", he continues.
"It is a real testament to our team and the group that we are able to execute these plans together. We couldn't be prouder to embrace De La Soul's historic artistry and support them in sharing their music with the world".
As well as the digital releases, all six albums will be re-released in various physical formats throughout 2023 - starting with '3 Feet High And Rising', also on 3 Mar. This month, on 13 Jan, the group will reissue their 1989 single 'The Magic Number' on vinyl, CD, and cassette.
Brixton Academy's licence temporarily suspended following crowd crush at Asake show
It's Lambeth Council's licensing subcommittee that formally suspended the venue's licence pending a more detailed review that will now take place at a meeting on 16 Jan. The Academy's management had already offered to voluntarily close the building until that date, but London's Metropolitan Police argued that a more formal suspension of the venue's licence was appropriate.
The final of three Asake performances at the South London venue was cut short on Thursday 15 Dec after crowd issues began to occur outside. There were reports that problems escalated when some people without tickets tried to force their way into the building, although a number of other allegations about crowd management issues on the night have also been made.
Two people died in the resulting crowd crush, first concert goer Rebecca Ikumelo, and then Gaby Hutchinson, who was working as a security contractor at the show.
According to Sky News, when confirming the licence suspension, the committee's chair - Councillor Fred Cowell - stated: "In the view of the licensing subcommittee, given the severity of events of 15 Dec, the risks to public safety as a consequence of, in particular, serious disorder rising from a lack of crowd control at the front doors of the venue remain high if the venue were able to operate as before".
Several planned shows for early January have been postponed, and a New Year's Eve event was cancelled, as a result of the decision to keep the Academy closed until at least mid-January.
Foo Fighters say they will continue as a band, following death of Taylor Hawkins
In a statement posted on New Year's Eve, the band say: "As we say goodbye to the most difficult and tragic year that our band has ever known, we are reminded of how thankful we are for the people that we love and cherish most, and for the loved ones who are no longer with us".
"Foo Fighters were formed 27 years ago to represent the healing power of music and continuation of life", they continue. "And for the past 27 years our fans have built a worldwide community, a devoted support system that has helped us all get through the darkest of times together. A place to share our joy and our pain, our hopes and fears, and to join in a chorus of life together through music".
"Without Taylor", they go on, "we never would have become the band that were were - and without Taylor we know that we're going to be a different band going forward. We also know that you, the fans, meant as much to Taylor as he meant to you. And we know that when we see you again - and we will soon - he'll be there in spirit with all of us every night".
Other than "soon", no further information is given about when the band might perform or record again. In September last year, the band played two tribute concerts in memory of Hawkins in London and LA, joined by an array of guest musicians.
Music community pays tribute to Maxi Jazz
A statement was published on Maxi Jazz's Instagram profile on Christmas Eve confirming that the musician - real name Maxwell Fraser - died on 23 Dec. The statement was signed by fellow founder and current Faithless members Rollo and Sister Bliss, as well as Fraser's more recent group The E-Type Boys.
It said: "We are heartbroken to say Maxi Jazz died peacefully at his home in South London last night. He was a man who changed our lives in so many ways. He gave proper meaning and message to our music".
"He was also a lovely human being with time for everyone and a wisdom that was both profound and accessible", the statement continued. "It was an honour and, of course, a true pleasure to work with him".
Fraser's fellow music-makers then concluded: "He was a brilliant lyricist, a DJ, a Buddhist, a magnificent stage presence, car lover, endless talker, beautiful person, moral compass and genius".
Sister Bliss also paid tribute to her former bandmate on her own Twitter profile, where she also added: "Sending love to all of you who shared our musical journey - look after each other y'hear".
Meanwhile Dido, who collaborated with Faithless of course, wrote on Twitter: "It was an absolute honour to know you, be inspired by you, listen to you and sing with you. Your voice and words will never leave my head".
Born in Brixton in 1957, Fraser began DJing and then performing via his Soul Food Cafe sound system and band in the 1980s, while also presenting a hip hop show on pirate radio station Reach FM and launching a label to release his group's music.
He then teamed up with Rollo Armstrong, Sister Bliss and Jamie Catto to form the pioneering dance music outfit Faithless in 1995, with their first album - 'Reverence' - released the following year, containing the hit records 'Insomnia' and 'Salva Mea'.
The Mercury nominated follow up album 'Sunday 8pm' was released in 1998, with the band continuing to make new music and tour extensively in the following decade before going on hiatus in 2011.
Fraser rejoined his Faithless bandmates a few years later for shows to promote the 2015 remix album 'Faithless 2.0', although he was not involved in the group's more recent album 'All Blessed'.
Instead, in more recent years he performed with another musical project he had founded, that being Maxi Jazz & The E-Type Boys.
Many artists and DJs from across the dance music community paid tribute to Fraser over the Christmas break.
That included Pete Tong, who described Fraser as "a poet, a gentleman and a true original, who together with Faithless made a handful of tunes that define both club culture and a generation. In a hundred years time if someone asks what all the fuss was about in 1996, just play them 'Insomnia', job done".
DJ Dave Pearce added on Twitter: "Faithless were an iconic force in UK dance music from the mid 90s and touched so many lives. Throughout their meteoric rise to fame Maxi remained a warm, cool, friendly soul - dance music's poet - thoughts with his family and friends RIP".
And Mistajam tweeted: "I only met him IRL once and he was the kindest man with such an aura about him. His words and performances touched so many of us and he'll be sorely missed. Love to Sister Bliss and the whole Faithless family. Rest in power Maxi Jazz".
Flo win BBC Sound Of 2023
"Wow, we did it", say the trio. "To win this accolade not even a year after we released our debut single 'Cardboard Box' is wild. We feel so connected to our British music roots winning BBC Radio 1's Sound Of and admire the artists who have come before us, especially our gal PinkPantheress winning last year!"
"Thank you to everyone who voted for us and put girl groups back on the map", they continue. "To be recognised for our music, and people to believe in our vision, inspires us to go further this year! 2023 we're ready!"
The group were told of their "very worthy" win in a video message from Stormzy, who called them a "breath of fresh air" and added that he believes "we're going to see you guys for the next ten, fifteen, 20 years".
Radio 1 presenter Jack Saunders - who was with Flo as they learned of their win - added in a statement: "This year is one of the strongest long lists we've seen in a while. Full of vibrant, creative and exciting artists that want to push the boundaries. Radio 1 continues to champion the innovators and the stars of the future and this list will prove that. Flo are a revelation to the scene and a worthy winner of the Sound Of list this year".
Signed to Island Records in 2020, Flo were formed after a rigorous auditions process, although the final three members - Jorja Douglas, Stella Quaresma and Renée Downer - already knew each other previously. Downer and Quaresma studied together at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, and had already connected with Douglas - who won CBBC talent show 'Got What It Takes' in 2016 - on social media.
They released their debut single, 'Cardboard Box', in March last year, followed by their first EP, 'The Lead', in July. They performed on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' and 'Later… With Jools Holland' in October, and last month were also named winners of the BRITs Rising Star award.
Here's the final Sound Of 2023 top five:
Morrissey's festive updates: no label, no management, no Miley
At the end of October, it was announced that Morrissey had signed up with Universal Music's Capitol label in the US for the release of his next album 'Bonfire Of Teenagers'. Although, the official announcement of that tie-up was keen to stress, the deal excluded the UK where the often controversial musician is generally considered too controversial these days.
At the time we wondered whether this alliance with a Universal label would end up going the same way as the last one. Morrissey worked with the major's Harvest imprint on his 2014 album 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business', but artist and label fell out shortly after that record was released.
This time round, however, things have gone very differently. In that artist and label have seemingly fallen out before the record has even been made available.
We got a hint of that in November when Morrissey confirmed that the planned February release of 'Bonfire Of Teenagers' was now on hold and the record's fate was "exclusively in the hands of Capitol Records (Los Angeles)".
Then last month he started talking about his work on 'Without Music The World Dies', the follow-up album to the as yet unreleased 'Bonfire Of Teenagers'.
In a quick pre-Christmas update, Morrissey properly confirmed that the alliance with Universal Music is off. "Morrissey has voluntarily withdrawn from any association with Capitol Records (Los Angeles)", the short statement announced.
Though if you were thinking of calling Morrissey's management team to find out who might release either 'Bonfire Of Teenagers' or 'Without Music The World Dies', well, hard luck. "Morrissey has voluntarily parted company with Maverick/Quest management", that statement also noted.
Although we do actually know that Capitol US still has the rights to release 'Bonfire Of Teenagers', providing it first removes at least one of the guest vocalists that appears on it. We got that information from a Christmas Eve statement from Morrissey Central.
"Miley Cyrus now wants to be taken off the song 'I Am Veronica' for which she volunteered backing vocals almost two years ago", declared said statement. "This comes at a time when Morrissey has disassociated himself with Capitol Records (Los Angeles), who control the hidden album 'Bonfire Of Teenagers'".
So, there you go, some festive fun-times at Morrissey HQ.