|MONDAY 19 JUNE 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A new study by the Association Of Independent Festivals sets out the long-term impact the COVID pandemic has had on major music events in the UK. According to AIF's stats, one in six UK festivals came to an end during the pandemic, either not returning once the COVID lockdowns ended, or attempting a return in 2022 but then finding it too challenging to stage a 2023 edition... [READ MORE]|
One in six UK festivals ended during the COVID period
The trade body for independent festivals says that "there were 600 music festivals held in the UK in 2019, but only 482 will take place in 2023. The 19.7% decline includes festivals that disappeared during the pandemic and those which tried to return in 2022 but either failed in 2022 or took place but have not made it through to 2023".
Backed by those depressing stats, AIF has again called for more government support for festival operators, who are still facing significant challenges as a result of surging production costs, and the cost of living crisis impacting on ticket sales and prices.
AIF CEO John Rostron says: "Whilst the pandemic is behind us, the impact of COVID is still revealing itself. We're understandably shocked by the large number of events that either went down during the pandemic, or tried to get through to 2022 and have subsequently failed".
"Closures have a huge effect on the supply chain of production staff, freelancers and artists, on audiences, and on local economies and communities", he adds. "AIF calls on the UK government to extend support to the festival sector to ensure recovery from the COVID pandemic".
Expanding on what form that support might take, Rostron says the festival sector needs "a small but speedy intervention from the government".
That would "ensure that those festival operators who made it through the pandemic - often thanks to government support from Culture Recovery Fund, furlough and bounce back loans - are able to see through both the unforeseeable challenges of 2023 - energy costs, inflation and the cost of living crisis - and the impact of COVID - supply chain costs and concerns about younger audiences".
The latter concern relates to young people who would have likely attended their first festivals in 2020 and 2021, some of whom would then have become festival regulars, but who missed out on that opportunity because of the lockdowns.
AIF itself has set up a scheme to try and ensure those people do, in fact, get a first festival experience, and is currently raising funds in a bid to make heavily subsidised tickets available to those potential young festival-goers.
Rostron concludes that, with the right government support right now, "existing operators, as well as new start-ups, will begin to rebuild the festival sector to the number of events that were prevalent in 2019".
Campaign groups support appeals court rethink in Epic v Apple case, but for different reasons
However, the former organisation wants the appeals court to re-think the pro-Apple part of its judgement, while the latter reckons it's the pro-Epic bit of the ruling that needs to overturned.
The big Epic v Apple bust-up relates to the latter's App Store rules and especially the rules about in-app payments on iOS devices. Many app makers are obliged to take such payments via Apple's own commission-charged transactions system and can't signpost within their apps alternative payment options online.
Fortnite maker Epic - like lots of app makers, including Spotify - reckons those rules are anti-competitive. But the gaming company failed to convince a Californian court that Apple's App Store rules breach US-wide competition law. It did, however, persuade the judge that that rule banning the sign-posting of other payment options - often referred to as the anti-steering provision - does violate Californian law.
Both Epic and Apple appealed to the Ninth Circuit, each wanting the part of the original judgement that went against its interests overturned. But the appeals court pretty much upheld the lower court's judgement.
Earlier this month, Epic and Apple asked the Ninth Circuit to review its decision, possibly en banc, so that more judges would consider the arguments.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation - with its focus on digital matters and intellectual property law - supports Epic's call for the Ninth Circuit to rethink its conclusions regarding whether or not Apple's rules violate US competition law.
"A central issue in this appeal is whether Apple's desire to be compensated for the use of its 'intellectual property' justifies the anticompetitive restrictions it places on app developers", the EFF's filing with the Ninth Circuit last week says.
By endorsing the lower court's conclusion that Apple's rules are not breaching competition law, the Ninth Circuit made "a significant error", the EFF adds. "It did not account for the limits that Congress and the Constitution have placed on 'intellectual property', ie patents and copyrights".
Meanwhile, the Washington Legal Foundation is concerned that the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court ruling that Apple's anti-steering provisions violate Californian law. Because that means California's "very aggressive approach to unfair competition" is impacting on Apple across the entire US.
Other US states, it writes in its submission to the court, "reject California's approach to unfair competition laws, which is their right. But the nationwide injunction the panel affirmed here allows California to enforce its unfair competition law beyond its borders".
We await to see if the Ninth Circuit agree to do any rethinking.
Bristol festival cancels over "growing challenges" with its venue
In a statement on the festival's website, the organisers say: "It is with heavy hearts and deep regret that we cannot go ahead with this year's Tokyo World Festival at Eastville Park, Bristol. Our entire team is devastated by this and pretty lost for words, but we would like to thank the thousands of you who have supported us this year and in recent years".
They added that they have been working hard to make their event happen with Bristol City Council, which operates the park, and the local police force, stressing that both "have been supportive".
However "we have not been able to find workable solutions to the challenges of this location in order to keep the event safe and secure in the surrounding area and roads. As a team of family people, we feel we need to prioritise your safety as you arrive and leave the event, as well as once inside".
The statement added that the festival may return in 2024 at a new location, but that "there are too many growing challenges with using Eastville Park this year that cannot be overcome".
A spokesperson for the Avon And Somerset Police force told the BBC that "at no point" did it want the event to be cancelled or postponed on safety grounds, adding that plans for a "policing operation were underway" and it had been "committed to working" with the council and organisers to "ensure the event proceeded safely".
Meanwhile, the local council said that it was "disappointed" at the decision made by the Tokyo World promoters, but recognised "the challenges within the sector" and confirmed it "will continue to work with the team to plan for the future".
This year's event had been due to feature performances from the likes of Pendulum, Rudimental and Bad Boy Chiller Crew.
BBC Three documentary puts the spotlight on the collapse of Pollen
Pollen grew out of 'peer-to-peer marketing' companies The Physical Network and We Represent, ultimately specialising in putting together and selling premium travel packages and experiences around shows and festivals, while also working with various partners on specially curated events.
Despite having bigged up $150 million in new investment earlier in the year, the Pollen parent company fell into administration last August. The subsequent administrator's report revealed that the business owed more than £78.6 million at the point it collapsed, including £4.5 million to recruiters and management consultants and £150,000 to a private jet charter firm.
Expanding on some of the allegations that were made about Pollen around the time of the administration, a BBC article about the new documentary states that the events company "took unauthorised transactions worth $3.2 million months before the company went into administration, affecting 15,800 customers".
Basically, extra charges were made to customers who had set up monthly payment plans for tickets to Pollen-managed events or experiences.
The programme's makers, the BBC says, have "seen a report into the incident written by former Pollen staff, which has never been shared with other employees".
"It suggests that the piece of code that was responsible for taking the double or triple payments from customers was written and manually triggered by a Pollen employee. The code for taking the payments was tested on 20 May 2022, and then triggered on 21 May 2022 without the customers' authorisation".
Reps for Pollen have told the BBC that the code that caused the unauthorised payments to be taken was implemented to fix a bug on the company's platform. The overcharge caused by the code then happened by mistake "due to an error made by a single employee who took responsibility at the time".
The BBC article goes on: "The BBC has seen an internal message sent by a senior Pollen team member to only three colleagues in the company two days after the incident in May. In the message, a member of staff says that he was asked by co-founder and CEO Callum [Negus-Fancey] to change the code in order to alter customers' payment plans and take payment for a single event".
"The member of staff says that, by mistake, they altered the payment plans for multiple events at once, taking payments worth $3.2 million".
The Pollen rep says that "no person or company benefited from the mistake" and "all affected customers, other than those who chose to accept a $100 voucher, had their refunds initiated within fourteen days".
Though the BBC claims that it contacted 18,000 customers and "of the 259 who responded, only ten said they had been partially or fully refunded for the incident".
Elsewhere in the BBC Three documentary, the programme claims that, as it dealt with mounting financial challenges, the company sent some suppliers 'proof of payment' screenshots from its online banking portal to reassure them outstanding payments were on their way, when those payments had not actually gone through.
The documentary quotes a former employee who says: "In order to get a vendor to do what was needed to be done, Pollen was communicating that a wire had been sent and a screenshot would be sent to the vendor".
'What was happening is on the accounting team, they were inserting all the information necessary to initiate a wire through the banking site, getting to the final confirmation page, taking a snapshot of that page and sending it to the vendor as a confirmation that the wire had been sent, but in reality, final confirmation button had never been pressed. And that money was never sent to the vendor".
On those allegations, the Pollen rep explains: "Proof of payments were processed in the genuinely held belief that there would be sufficient monies in the company account on the date that the payment was due to go out. There was no intention to represent the payment had actually been sent. Although, unfortunately, there were occasions when there were insufficient funds and the payment was not executed".
The documentary - called 'Crashed: $800m Festival Fail' - will air on BBC Three tonight at 9pm and is already available on the BBC iPlayer.
BBC to launch K-pop sex scandal podcast
The series is named after the Seoul nightclub upon which the scandal centred. Popular with celebrities, an allegation of assault sparked an investigation into the venue, which uncovered claims about women being drugged by staff.
Later, it was discovered that a group of celebrities who had frequented the club had shared secretly filmed sex videos online.
"This is an astounding story we have been working on for years", says presenter Chloe Hadjimatheou. "It's taken a long time to build trust with the main players - women who helped shed light on scandals that very nearly never saw the light of day".
"It's about how in one of the most futuristic and technologically advanced places on earth women are still fighting for their most basic of rights", she goes on, "and it's caused a fault line in South Korean society".
Commissioning Editor Daniel Clarke adds "With K-pop now a global phenomenon, this important series takes us on a really disconcerting but ultimately fascinating journey into how a terrible scandal came to light, exposing some of the world's biggest music stars".
The series will be available via BBC Sounds from 26 Jun. A TV documentary is also in the works.
Rammstein drummer comments on allegations against Till Lindemann
Allegations against Lindemann began to surface at the end of last month when a woman claimed online that she had been drugged after being invited to join pre- and after-show parties at a concert in Vilnius, Lithuania. After she went public, other women came forward with their own allegations.
Both Lindemann and the band have strongly denied these accusations. However, police in Berlin are now investigating Lindemann, and a spokesperson for the band told the BBC that they are conducting their own internal investigation.
Referring to the accusations made against Lindemann in recent weeks, Schneider issued a statement in German on social media this weekend.
"No, I don't think anything criminal - such as the use of knockout drugs - happened", he wrote. "I don't think anything illegal was going on, I've never seen anything like it, nor heard anything like it from any of our crew of 100 people".
"All I heard about Till's parties was that adults were celebrating together", he then added. "And yet things seem to have happened that, although legally OK, I personally don't think are OK".
He went on to say that "certain structures have emerged that went beyond the limits and values of the other band members" and, with that in mind, "it is also important to us that Till's parties are not confused with our official after show parties".
"Till has distanced himself from us in recent years and created his own bubble, with its own people, parties and projects", he said.
"I believe Till when he tells us that he always wanted and still wants to give his guests a good time", he continued. However, he went on: "How exactly these guests had imagined this, however, seems to differ in some cases from his own ideas".
"The wishes and expectations of the women who have now come forward were probably not fulfilled", he wrote. "According to their statements, they felt uncomfortable, on the edge of a situation that they could no longer control".
"We want all of our guests to feel comfortable and safe with us", he confirmed. "This is our standard. So I'm sorry to hear that some didn't feel that way".
"I don't want this whole public dispute about our band to feed the extremes: neither the beast of social media - which has not yet been tamed by our society - nor paternalistic tendencies to deny women in their mid-20s the ability to make self-determined decisions about their sexuality".
However, nor does he was to see any "victim blaming", keen to ensure that people can "continue to talk about it if something happened to them".
"I wish for a calm, level-headed reflection and processing, also in our band", he concluded. "And all together, six of us. We stand together".
The band have continued their European tour, which is scheduled to run through to the beginning of August, although their label Universal Music last week told reporters that "we have suspended marketing and promotional activities for the band's recordings until further notice".
A spokesperson for the major added: "The accusations against Till Lindemann have shocked us and we have the greatest respect for the women who have spoken out so courageously in public in this case".
As the tour continues, a show in Switzerland on Saturday saw protests outside the venue. Their next performance is set for Madrid on Friday.
Ed Sheeran the UK's most played artist again, but won't take it for granted
Because, I mean, we basically ran this exact same story a year ago, except in relation to 2021. A whole year's gone by and the great people of this United Kingdom are still listening to all of Ed Sheeran's fucking pop songs. Oh well.
We know this because UK record industry collecting society PPL has told us. It keeps track of such things as it licenses radio stations, TV channels and other businesses that play recorded music in public, and then compiles two annual Most Played charts that utilise all that lovely data.
"This is Ed Sheeran's sixth Most Played Artists chart-topping appearance in the last eight years", PPL notes. In fact, "only Dua Lipa's success in 2020 has prevented him from a clean sweep of every year since 2017".
With that kind of success, the boy Sheeran is surely going to start taking all this very much for granted. Not so, he claims. "I never take it for granted", says Sheeran of topping the latest PPL Most Played Artists chart. Yeah, right. We believe you, honest.
Sheeran tops the Most Played Artists list, but not the Most Played Song top ten. He does have two tracks in that other chart, but it's that Harry Styles who takes the prize for most played song of 2022. For 'As It Was', obviously.
Says PPL boss Peter Leathem: "I am delighted that this year's Most Played charts recognise two of the country's great musical exports, Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles. Their global success reflects the financial and cultural importance of British music".
"Ed's unparalleled run at the top of our Most Played Artists charts is testament to his enduring popularity, longevity and exceptional talent", he adds. "Many congratulations to him and his team".
"Harry's soaraway success reflects his hard work and consistent ability to write and perform songs that resonate the world over. Well done to all the artists featured in these charts and the music businesses that work so hard to support them".
British acts dominate the two charts which, as PPL observes, "reaffirms the strength of the British music industry's creative output".
Either that or the continued xenophobia and racism of the British music listening public. No, I'm sure it's the strength of the British music industry's creative output. That'll be it. Or maybe both?
Anyway, here are the new PPL charts in full...
Most Played Artists In 2022
Most Played Songs in 2022