|THURSDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The company that provided trained medical staff for the Asake show at the Brixton Academy last December - where two people died when a crowd crush incident occurred - has confirmed that it had five people on site for the concert, even though certain industry guidelines recommend ten people with relevant medical training for an event of that size... [READ MORE]|
New BBC report says medical team understaffed at Asake crowd crush show
That's according to a new report from the BBC, which previously spoke to two whistleblowers who regularly work for Collingwood Services, the provider of medical staff for the Asake show. Although those two people were not working at the Brixton Academy on the night of the crowd crush, one said they had spoken to colleagues who were.
The whistleblowers claim that the Asake show was understaffed, adding that the same had happened at previous events too, and that "very often they would just tell you the extra staff were running late but they would never turn up".
One of the whistleblowers also sent the BBC photos of seemingly out of date medical supplies used by Collingwood at the Islington Academy which, like the Brixton Academy, is also operated by the Academy Music Group.
Collingwood has now told the BBC that there were five trained medical staff in attendance at the Asake show. That included two student paramedics, two "first responders" and one "EMT".
The BBC notes that "first responder" and "EMT" are somewhat vague terms that don't really indicate the qualifications of the personnel Collingwood sent to the show.
The company declined to provide further details regarding the specific qualifications of its people, except to say that "all staff present were qualified to carry out the scope of practice they were contracted to perform".
It added that - following an internal investigation into last December's crowd crush incident - it was was fully confident that its team had "responded speedily, efficiently and with best practice. We believe strongly that the swift action and skill of medical staff, emergency services and others who assisted ... were instrumental in avoiding further serious injuries or loss of life".
The claim that there should have been double the number of trained medical staff at the Asake show is based on the BBC's review of event industry guidelines. In particular it cites The Purple Guide, which is mainly focused on outdoor events, but - says the BBC - "is now also used as a benchmark for indoor ones too".
It is based on those guidelines that the BBC reckons a sell out show at the Brixton Academy, with a capacity of just under 5000, should possibly have had on site eight first aiders, plus a paramedic or emergency care practitioner, and a nurse or emergency nurse practitioner.
The BBC's new report on the medical staff employed at last December's Asake show follows its earlier programme that made allegations about security personnel at the concert.
That included claims that the security team on site that night was also under-staffed, and that some stewards on the doors were colluding in the sale of fake tickets, allowing extra people into the venue for what was already a sold out show.
The Brixton Academy is currently closed after its licence was temporarily suspended as London police continue with their investigation into the crowd crush.
ICE announces deal with metaverse music platform Styngr
"Styngr's innovative new service brings new uses of music to gaming and gaming metaverses", says an official announcement of this deal. "When utilising Styngr, game developers are supported with Styngr's 'software development kit' and can deploy in-game monetisation options. ICE Core members will begin to receive royalties from these new applications, expanding over time as the Styngr service is utilised by more and more games".
Says Styngr co-founder Alex Tarrand: "Licensing such a massive and unique aggregation of musical repertoire as that represented by the ICE Core societies and publishers is a great opportunity and we're delighted to get this deal in place. Styngr is a bridge for game developers, allowing them to easily incorporate music into all of their experiences. Being able to cover so many important works on a broad multi-territory basis is a boost for our service".
Meanwhile, ICE VP Licensing Tim Rawlinson adds: "As the next generation of web applications start to be realised, we're constantly assessing new services, understanding their models, and supporting innovation with deals that also reflect the value of songwriting. We're pleased to be able to work with Styngr to provide songwriters with new, incremental sources of income as new opportunities for people to experience music emerge".
Hybe boss sets out vision for SM alliance
That's despite recent statements from the management at SM that Hybe is mounting a hostile takeover of its rival which will disadvantage SM's artists and create competition concerns within the South Korean music market. Not only that, they said, it will also hinder plans by SM management to reinvigorate their company, in part via a partnership with Korean internet firm Kakao, and by implementing a strategy they call SM 3.0.
Hybe is buying its shares in SM from the latter's founder Lee Soo-man, who doesn't get on with the management team at the company he founded, and who has been trying to block the Kakao partnership through the courts. In addition to the 14.8% of SM it has already bought, Hybe has let it be known that it is interested in buying more shares in its rival in order to get itself a 40% controlling stake in the business.
Confirming that its initial SM share purchase is now completed, Hybe CEO Park Ji-won said in an open letter yesterday that it had "resolved the governance issue between former Chief Producer Lee and SM during the course of the share acquisition. SM will be moving to become a company with a transparent governance structure that prioritises shareholder value".
He then set out to explain why the Hybe/SM alliance is all super fine. "As leaders and pioneers of the K-pop industry, both Hybe and SM have been triumphing on the global stage. Hybe's vision to become a leading global entertainment lifestyle platform company under its mission 'we believe in music' is closely interconnected with the goal of SM 3.0 to 'leap forward as a fan- and shareholder-centered global entertainment company'".
Hybe has always allowed the different labels within its group to operate autonomously, he then insisted, and that will be the same for SM. "Leveraging our expertise and global network, Hybe will actively support SM artists' endeavours in making a presence in the global music industry. Both companies will work together towards establishing the global ground where our artists can introduce their music".
"We can share our experiences that have ultimately led us to our leading position in the global K-pop scene", he added, "including the United States, South America and India. Hybe will also be able to benefit from SM's wealth of experience from their artists' success in China, Japan and Southeast Asia. With our collaborative effort, we can become the most innovative game changer in the global music industry".
Acknowledging the concerns of SM employees and artists created by all the rumours and speculation that has circulated since Hybe's bid to control its rival became public knowledge, Park insisted that claims by SM management that the company's artists would be disadvantaged by all this are simply not true.
"We respect SM's artists as much as we do our artists at Hybe", he wrote. "Leveraging the expertise we have accumulated, we will do our best to create a brighter future for all artists under SM".
And the direct-to-fan operations of both Hybe and SM can complement each other too, while also competing, Park reckoned. "Two leading fandom platforms, Hybe's Weverse and SM's Bubble, will expand beyond Korea and compete in the global arena".
Hybe and SM should now work together so that they can "stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world's major record labels", he concluded, before adding: "I hope the management can come to a wise and reasonable conclusion to ensure that our shared visions and business directions are on the right track".
Sony Music appoints new Presidents at RCA UK
Music marketeer Tang moved over from Sony's Columbia label to RCA in 2021, while Aikins joined Sony Music in 2018 as Co-President of its Since 93 imprint, which operates in partnership with RCA.
In their new roles they will report into Sony Music UK boss Jason Iley, who says: "Stacey and Glyn are two exceptionally creative and forward-thinking executives. They are both champions of music, are passionate about nurturing a new generation of artists, and know how to bring out the best in their teams and the artists they work with".
Tang adds of her new job: "I feel privileged to lead the next chapter of RCA's story alongside Glyn and the most passionate and dedicated team of music fans in the business. We will channel our creative energies into delivering further successes for our artists and have fun whilst doing it. Thank you to Jason for his support and trusting Glyn and I to be custodians of such an iconic label".
And Aikins says: "I'm very excited to lead RCA into the future, alongside Stacey, and build a truly supportive and nurturing culture, which develops the careers of creative talent over the long term to global success. This philosophy of artist development will be at the centre of everything we believe in, coupled with delivering brilliant artists and music. Big thanks to Jason for giving Stacey and I this fantastic opportunity".
Commenting on his departure from RCA, Dollimore says: "In my seven year tenure at RCA UK, I am very proud to have built, led and mentored an incredible label group and worked with brilliant partners, management teams, writers and producers I will be collaborating with again in the future".
"I have had the privilege of working with some of the most talented artists in the UK, including Biig Piig, Jade Thirlwall and Cat Burns, who all have huge careers ahead of them", he continues. "It has been a fantastic journey from building the Ministry Of Sound label from scratch to becoming part of the Sony family and I wish Stacey, Glyn and RCA UK all the best for the future".
The rejig at the top of RCA follows the appointment late last year of Dipesh Parmar and Amy Wheatley as President and Managing Director of Columbia, following the departure of the label's previous President Ferdy Unger-Hamilton.
Bluesfest organiser comments as artists pull out of Australian festival over Sticky Fingers booking
Sticky Fingers frontman Dylan Frost has been at the centre of a number of controversies in recent years, with accusations of racism, misogyny, transphobia and violence made against him a number of times between 2016 and 2018. Frost has denied some of the allegations, and put others down to alcohol abuse and mental health issues.
In a statement to ticketholders yesterday, the festival's organiser Peter Noble wrote: "I hoped it didn't need to be said, but unfortunately, it does. We at Bluesfest stand for something: inclusivity. We want to support artists who are achieving greatness, which often involves overcoming incredible hurdles. Please take the time to educate yourself with the facts regarding Sticky Fingers".
"They aren't monsters", he went on. "They are a seriously great Australian band whose singer has had to overcome barriers that would have sidelined all but the most determined to continue to perform. Yes, he has transgressed in the past, but not for many years. I question why there is such an ongoing witch-hunt toward a man with a mental health disorder. A man who is attempting to grow and function in society".
"Shouldn't we forgive and provide a path to redemption for artists who have taken ownership of their situation and have proven for many years now that they have found a way to function responsibly? Is Australia the only place in the world where a minority attempts to ban one of Australia's great bands over something that happened so many years ago?"
"I want to thank the vast majority of the music industry for supporting inclusivity", he concluded. "Make us proud, Dylan; you are doing great!"
In 2016, Sticky Fingers announced that they were going on hiatus due to "internal issues". The following day, it was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Frost had been accused of physically threatening fellow musician Thelma Plum. There were also allegations of racism made against him earlier the same year.
In his own statement at the time, Frost said that he had been struggling with alcohol and mental health issues, apologising to those he had hurt but denying racism. He also said that he would be attending rehab and therapy.
The band returned in 2018, although shortly afterwards Frost was ejected from a Sydney pub after he was accused of harassing a transgender woman.
A spokesperson for the band at the time did not deny that Frost had been thrown out of the pub, but insisted that he had not instigated the incident or threatened violence, saying that it was actually him who was being harassed.
The new controversy over Sticky Fingers being booked to play Bluesfest started to build earlier this week when King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard announced their decision to pull out because of that booking.
They said: "As a band and as human beings, we stand against misogyny, racism, transphobia and violence. [We are] surprised and saddened to see Bluesfest commit to presenting content that is in complete opposition to these values".
"Given this decision by the festival, we have decided to cancel our appearance at Bluesfest", they went on. "We are deeply disappointed to be in this position but sometimes you need to be willing to make sacrifices to stand up for your values. This is, unfortunately, one of those moments".
Then yesterday a spokesperson for Sampa The Great told Double J that she had actually requested that her name be removed from the Bluesfest line-up earlier this month, saying: "We started contact with Bluesfest to inform them of our standpoint within half an hour of receiving the embargoed press release and seeing the remainder of the line-up".
"We then delivered final confirmation to Bluesfest at 7:36pm AEDT on Tuesday 14 Feb that Sampa was coming off the line-up, in the hopes they would remove her from all materials before they announced the following day", they added.
Sticky Fingers have not yet commented on this particular controversy. The band completed a sold out UK and Ireland tour earlier this week, which included a show at Alexandra Palace in London.
IFPI announces Taylor Swift as Global Recording Artist Of The Year
"It is a great pleasure to award the IFPI Global Recording Artist Award to Taylor Swift for an unprecedented third time", says IFPI chief exec Frances Moore. "Taylor is a truly magnificent international star, who continues to grow and evolve as an artist whilst maintaining an incredibly strong connection with her fans around the world".
The prize is handed to the artist who has the highest number of worldwide streams and sales of their music each year. As well as revealing Swift as the overall winner, the IFPI also revealed the top 20 most successful acts in 2022, which includes BTS, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran, Juice Wrld and young upstarts The Beatles.
"It is exciting to see this year's Global Recording Artist Chart reflect the increasingly diverse spectrum of music available to music fans today, with superstars from Latin America, Taiwan and South Korea as well as the US, UK and Canada represented", says Moore. "Record companies continue to work diligently in every corner of the globe to find and develop global stars and build their successful careers for the long-term".
Here's the full top 20:
Country star Brad Paisley has left Sony Music's Arista Nashville label, where he has been for nearly 25 years, and moved over to Universal Music's EMI Nashville. The move sees him reunited with former Arista execs Mike Dungan and Cindy Mabe. "There were two people that should get the credit that you even know my name - Mike Dungan and Cindy Mabe", says Paisley. "It's an amazing thing to work with Mike and Cindy again. It's great to know they believe in this music as much as I do".
Reservoir has acquired the recording and song catalogues of jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. "I'm happy that Reservoir will be helping to maintain my musical legacy, which was created in concert with so many great musicians I'm proud to be associated with", he says.
Warner Music's ADA Worldwide has appointed Cathy Bauer as Head Of Physical Sales & Marketing. She joins from ABKCO. "With this move, we're doubling down on our efforts to get physical product from independent artists to fans in an efficient and plentiful way", says President Cat Kreidich. "And when we say physical product, it's not just CDs or vinyl - it's anything tangible that strengthens the artist-to-fan connection. The possibilities are endless, and Cathy will play a huge role in helping us innovate, building out what our future in the direct-to-consumer space looks like".
Range Media Partners has appointed Joel Zimmerman as a partner in its music division. "I believe the best and most forward-thinking cultural platform for music talent is at Range", he says. "The team's ability to mobilise with very high-level resources, combined with a truly amazing company culture, makes for the best breeding ground to turn the biggest dreams into reality. I am so excited to be building at Range and to make a positive impact on the continuously evolving industry".
Nathan Fake will release new album 'Crystal Vision' on 7 Apr. Out now is new track 'The Grass', featuring Wizard Apprentice. "I fell in love with Wizard Apprentice's 'I Am Invisible' and felt our musical styles were similar", says Fake. "Their vocals are smooth and clear and sharp at the same time. They're like a calm within the storm".
Paul Simonon and Galen Ayers have launched new project Galen & Paul with the single 'Lonely Town'. Their debut album 'Can We Do Tomorrow Another Day?' will be out on 19 May.
Overmono have released new single 'Calling Out'. "We've had these chords written for quite a while now and could never find quite the right context for them", say the duo. "One night we were procrastinating in the studio, mostly just drinking and slamming some Casisdead and Slowthai tracks. Then we had a bit of a eureka moment and realised it might have been the type of sound we were looking to go with alongside that chord progression, so we stayed up all night and finally got it done". Their debut album 'Good Lies' is out on 12 May.
Fake Names - featuring members of Minor Threat, Refused and Girls Versus Boys - have released new single 'Can't Take It'. Their second album 'Expendables' is out on 3 Mar.
Sprints have released new single 'Literary Mind', their first since signing to City Slang. "It was a pen spilling on to paper moment and a very honest account of forming a new and long lasting relationship", says the band's Karla Chubb of the song. "It's a real deep dive and exploration into the feeling of falling in love, particularly queer love".
Softcult have shared new single 'Love Song'. "This is an anxious love song", says the duo's Mercedes Arn-Horn. "It's about loving someone so intensely that you find yourself in constant fear of losing them. These gnawing thoughts can get in the way of us allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, or enjoying our relationships for fear that they won't last". New EP 'See You In The Dark' is out on 23 Mar and they will be touring the UK in April.
Creams has released new single 'Need To Talk'. "This song is like a journey through my feelings and the chaos in my head", she says. "This is a raw and honest look at the fight against my inner demons. Are you here alone or with your support system?"
Sorry Girls have put out new single 'Prettier Things' and announced that they will release new album 'Bravo' on 2 Jun. "This song is about the power of honesty, especially being honest with yourself", say the duo. "On the one hand it's kind of criticising the idea of hiding behind prettier truths and pretending you're okay when you're not, on the other hand it's also saying it's okay to move on to better things and that only you can know and decide".
GIGS & TOURS
JLS have announced UK and Ireland arena tour dates in October and November this year, including two nights at the O2 Arena in London on 9-10 Nov. "We couldn't be more excited to announce another UK and Ireland arena tour", say the group. "Last time out [in 2021] was totally surreal and we've been eagerly awaiting the right time to do it all over again. Playing live and seeing our amazing fans is definitely the best part of being JLS!" Tickets go on general sale on 3 Mar.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Spotify unveils an AI DJ to provide automated commentary about the tracks
Introducing Spotify's AI DJ, which is currently being made available to the service's premium users in the US and Canada.
"The DJ is a personalised AI guide that knows you and your music taste so well that it can choose what to play for you", says an official blurb. "This feature, first rolling out in beta, will deliver a curated line up of music alongside commentary around the tracks and artists we think you'll like in a stunningly realistic voice".
In terms of the music curation element, the AI DJ will "sort through the latest music and look back at some of your old favourites - maybe even resurfacing that song you haven't listened to for years. It will then review what you might enjoy and deliver a stream of songs picked just for you".
Which is basically just the Spotify algorithm doing its algorithmic thing, we know about that. Tell us about the talking!
Well, some new fangled AI is being employed to "scale" the knowledge of Spotify's editorial teams, providing automated commentary to accompany the music. And then an AI voice system that came to Spotify via its acquisition of Sonantic "brings to life stunningly realistic voices from text". What fun.
"To create the voice model for the DJ", Spotify explains, "we partnered with our own Head Of Cultural Partnerships, Xavier 'X' Jernigan".
"Previously, X served as one of the hosts on Spotify's first - and personalised - morning show 'The Get Up'. His personality and voice resonated with our listeners and resulted in a loyal following for the podcast. His voice is the first model for the DJ, and we'll continue to iterate and innovate, as we do with all our products".
So there you go. After spending years and billions of dollars courting the podcasters of the world, Spotify is now employing AI to render them all redundant.
Throw in the music-making AI that is becoming ever more sophisticated and then all we'll need is an AI tool that can listen to all this content, removing the need for tedious human subscribers.
And then maybe a listening AI that gets angry about what the talking AI said in between the AI-created tracks, which can subsequently launch a campaign urging all the other AIs to boycott the service. This is the future, people!
Though, in the shorter term, an AI that could just tell artists and labels how the Spotify algorithm works would be useful. Given that the humans haven't proven to be so good at that in the past