|THURSDAY 22 JUNE 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Organisers of the Scottish music festival Doune The Rabbit Hole have cancelled their 2023 edition after the union for production and technical workers in the UK entertainment industry - BECTU - called for a boycott in relation to the collapse of the company that promoted last year's edition... [READ MORE]|
Doune The Rabbit Hole festival cancels after union calls for boycott over 2022 debts
In a statement, organisers said that they "are beyond devastated to announce the cancellation of Doune The Rabbit Hole 2023 and the end of the festival for the foreseeable future as a result of the call for a boycott of the event by BECTU".
The union said that the cancellation of the 2023 festival was "unfortunate", but added that "over the last few years this festival has amassed well over £1 million pounds in unpaid bills to both bands and staff - £800,000 in 2022 alone".
The company that ran Doune The Rabbit Hole 2022 entered liquidation late last year, blaming surging production costs and the impact of cancellations during the COVID pandemic for the collapse of the business. However, it was confirmed that the festival would return in 2023, run by the company that had produced the 2018 and 2019 editions, Festival Beverage And Property Services Ltd.
That company - headed up by Craig Murray, father of Jamie Murray, who ran the collapsed Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival Ltd - said that it would try to repay artists, crew and suppliers who were owed money from the 2022 edition "as soon as possible". It subsequently said that it aimed to use profits from future editions of the festival to settle the outstanding debts.
As work got underway on the 2023 event, BECTU and others became increasingly vocal in their criticism of the festival and its promoter.
Then, earlier this month, the union called for an outright boycott, telling reporters: "We agreed a number of measures with them that we felt would allow us to support the music festival going forward. Sadly they fell down on those commitments, to the extent that we're no longer in a position to support the festival".
In the statement posted to the festival's website yesterday, organisers say: "The team has tried everything in our power to recover from the challenges of 2022 and to produce the event our audience deserves, while making good on our promises to pay creditors from the 2022 event".
"Sadly", they add, "since the start of BECTU's call for a boycott in June, based on a campaign of misinformation, the numbers are just not stacking up and we have no choice other than to cancel the event".
Noting that many festivals are facing extra financial challenges at the moment - resulting in some other events also cancelling - the Doune the Rabbit Hole statement goes on: "Those events have not also had the challenges posed by sustained media and social media campaigns spurred on by BECTU, to try and prevent them from going ahead using conjecture, misinformation and rumour presented in bad faith".
The festival's website also goes into more detail about the impact BECTU's campaign allegedly had on tickets sales, and then shares a legal letter that Festival Beverage And Property Services Ltd has now sent to the union.
Meanwhile, on his blog, Craig Murray urged ticket-buyers to approach their bank or credit card company to get their money back, adding "there is no money left for ticket refunds", because many artists and suppliers were paid upfront for the 2023 edition.
He then wrote that, because of BECTU's "campaign to close the festival, those owed from 2022 will now never be paid".
In a statement issued to The Herald, a BECTU spokesperson said: "BECTU, The Musicians' Union and Equity are of the view that it is unfortunate that the Doune The Rabbit Hole festival due to take place in Stirlingshire on the weekend of 21-23 Jul 2023 is now cancelled".
"However", they went on, "over the last few years this festival has amassed well over £1 million pounds in unpaid bills to both bands and staff - £800,000 in 2022 alone".
"Many people, including the headline bands last year, were paid nothing other than their deposits, in some cases bands are owed tens of thousands of pounds with no hope of getting their final payments, and this years cancellation will impact yet more bands and staff".
"As trade unions we have tried to have a constructive dialogue with the organisers of the festival, but the undertakings which were offered to us were not forthcoming", they added. "The organisers said that they would share sales figures in order to reassure us that they would make enough profit this year to begin to repay the debts owed by the previous festival. They stated their intention to repay those debts over three years".
"They have not provided any such information", they concluded, "and that undertaking to repay those debts is now in jeopardy".
US live industry appeals BMI royalty rate increase
Songwriters and music publishers are due royalties whenever songs they wrote or published are performed in public, and that money is usually paid through the collective licensing system.
Quite how this works differs from country to country. In the US, the two biggest song right collecting societies - BMI and ASCAP - are regulated by things called consent decrees. And they say that, whenever there is a dispute over what any one licensee or group of licensees should pay, the rate courts can intervene.
Back in March the rate court set new rates for what promoters should pay BMI. That saw the rate increase in a move which, the society said at the time, "ends decades of below-market rates for songwriters, composers and publishers in the live concert industry".
"As a result", it went on, "BMI affiliates will receive a rate that is 138% higher than the historical rate. And just as important, [the court] ruled that this new rate will be applied to an expanded revenue base, taking into account the way modern promoters monetise concerts. This includes tickets sold directly onto the secondary market, servicing fees received by the promoters and revenues from box suites and VIP packages".
BMI didn't get everything it wanted in the March ruling, but it was definitely a win for the society. Which makes the decision by the American live sector to appeal the ruling somewhat unsurprising.
Responding to the filing of the notice to appeal by Live Nation, AEG and the NACPA, BMI boss Mike O'Neill says: "Given Live Nation, AEG and NACPA's bizarre position throughout trial that concertgoers attend concerts for the experience of the staging, videos and light shows, as opposed to the actual songs and music being performed, their appeal was not a surprise to BMI".
"For decades", he continues, "the live concert industry has fought to keep rates suppressed. And even now, when they are making more money than ever, in more ways than ever, they are determined to deny songwriters and composers the fair value of their work, despite the fact that without their contributions, a concert wouldn't even be possible".
Concluding, O'Neill adds: "BMI will continue to fight on behalf of our affiliates, the creators of the music that is the very backbone of the live concert industry, to prevent that outcome".
French song rights society SACEM reports 34% increase in collections in 2022
As a result, total collections were up 34% to €1.41 billion, while distributions to songwriters and publishers rose 19% to €1.05 billion.
The society confirmed that "for the second year in a row, the digital sector was the leading source of royalties, surging 38% compared with 2021, to €493 million".
Meanwhile income from the broadcast and performance of songs - both of which dipped during the pandemic, as broadcasters saw their advertising revenues fall and live music went into shutdown - were both in recovery mode.
Broadcast royalties were up 19% to €353.1 million, while what the society categorises as 'general royalties' were up 93% to €327.0 million.
The trends reported by SACEM are similar to those reported by other song right societies around the world, which are also seeing digital becoming an ever more important revenue generator, while COVID-hit revenues are slowly getting back to pre-pandemic levels.
The specifics do differ from country to country depending on the role collecting societies play in the licensing of song rights. For example, societies in Continental Europe - like SACEM - generally take the lead with digital licensing, meaning most streaming revenues flow through the society system.
Whereas with Anglo-American repertoire, some publishers negotiate direct deals with the streaming services in many markets, meaning not all the money flows through the societies. Though - for various reasons - those publishers generally work with collecting societies on that direct licensing, including, in some cases, SACEM.
Commenting on the 2022 figures, SACEM CEO Cécile Rap-Veber says: "Thanks to the resumption of concerts, the explosion of digital, the new agreements signed with the many users of SACEM's repertoire, and the strategic shift undertaken in its transformation plan, SACEM had a record year in terms of both collections and royalties distributed. These results demonstrate, once again, our ability to adapt and strengthen our expertise in a highly competitive and rapidly changing sector".
Arena operator ASM Global announces new support for grassroots venues
MVT has been increasingly vocal of late about the need for the upper end of the live sector to do more to support grassroots venues, where the next generation of music stars, who will play arenas and stadiums in the future, hone their craft and build an initial fanbase.
That has always been part of MVT's agenda, though the need for such support has arguably increased since the pandemic, with the top end of the live music business getting back to normal much quicker than the grassroots and mid-tier.
One specific proposal from MVT is that for every ticket sold to an arena show - and especially for shows at newly constructed arena venues - a donation should be made to the grassroots venue network. Earlier this year Enter Shikari announced they would do just that with the arena shows they are playing around the UK next year.
ASM Global - created in 2019 by the merger of AEG Facilities and SMG - operates a big network of venues around world, including lots of arenas and stadiums. Among the venues it operates in the UK are the AO Arena in Manchester, the First Direct Arena in Leeds, the OVO Hydro in Glasgow, the P&J Arena in Aberdeen, the Sage Arena in Gateshead, the Utility Arena in Newcastle, and the OVO Arena Wembley in London.
It said yesterday that it would now support grassroots venues through a combination of donations, training and marketing. The financial support will include "one-off initiatives", such as the commitment that "OVO Arena Wembley will match Enter Shikari's £1 per ticket sold donation to the Music Venue Trust when they play in February 2024".
"There will also be opportunities for additional fundraising activity for grassroots music venues via tickets for events at ASM Global venues", plus "ASM Global will also make equipment and furniture in need of a new home available to grassroots music venues that need it".
"Training will play a pivotal role in this commitment", the venue operator added. "with ASM Global offering access to training either online or in its venues. As an industry leader, ASM Global has developed extensive, industry leading training that includes health and safety, food safety, hygiene, cybersecurity, as well as wider topics such as mental health, equality and diversity, and social media awareness".
As for the marketing support, ASM Global says that it will seek to help boost the profile of grassroots venues based in the cities where it operates arenas by promoting said venues in its buildings, through its customer emails and on social media.
Commenting on all this, ASM Global's Commercial Director and SVP Europe, Tom Lynch, says: "At ASM Global, we are very aware and concerned about the unprecedented cost pressures facing grassroots music venues, and in turn, the knock-on pressures placed on the pipeline of talent for the rest of the live music industry".
"Grassroots music venues are the lifeblood of our cultural fabric and where much of society truly falls in love with music for the first time", he goes on. "As a team, we have always admired the passion and hard work of Music Venue Trust, in providing a voice to grassroots music venues and creating a framework for vital support to keep the music playing".
MVT CEO Mark Davyd adds: "We want to thank ASM Global for being the first arena operators to respond to our call for support from the live music industry to deal with the crisis engulfing grassroots music venues".
"This is an incredibly important first step", he continues, "towards ensuring that when an artist emerges from the grassroots sector, everyone shares in the success they generate once they reach the very top of the industry. We look forward to developing this important relationship".
New report highlights intersectional bias facing black disabled people in music
Utilising data from research undertaken by Black Lives In Music in 2021, alongside a series of new interviews, the report includes input from 99 music-makers and 50 people working within the industry. Titled 'Unseen Unheard', BLIM says the report highlights "pronounced instances of intersectional bias facing black disabled people in music".
Among other things, it reveals that 74% of the black disabled music-makers surveyed felt there are specific barriers to success in the industry because of their race or ethnicity, compared to 58% of black non-disabled music-makers. Meanwhile, 81% of black disabled music-makers do not feel there is a clear career trajectory or path for them, and only 8% said they had felt supported through each career stage.
Of all the 149 people surveyed, only 38% felt that diversity and inclusion is really a priority for the music industry, and 91% said they felt unsatisfied with how they are supported by the business.
As well as the stats, the report also includes a number of calls to action for talent development organisations, music industry funders, industry support services, education providers and industry employers.
Commenting on the report, BLIM CEO Charisse Beaumont says: "'Unseen Unheard' is another first of its kind report which will aid in reframing the music industry. The report highlights the intersectional barriers black disabled music creators and professionals face daily and what we as members of the music ecosystem can do to address these barriers".
"The landscape feels like it is changing in some ways", she goes on." We have seen a reversal by organisations and the government of the commitments they made in 2020. However, what is encouraging is that we are seeing bold individuals and organisations who are resolute in demonstrating to the world that inclusion and authenticity is the new normal".
Attitude Is Everything founder Suzanne Bull adds: "The report's sobering findings highlight the many ways in which black disabled talent is being held back. This needs to urgently change. We need to see the 'diversity' conversation take place on conference stages, industry forums and boardrooms, not just in the meetings and spaces marked for the 'diversity discussion', but as the integral part of all conversations".
"This is the way", she continues, "that black disabled people will be enabled to speak truth to power, showcase their skills and talent, and pursue ambitions free of the barriers which are artificially created for the benefit of no one within the industry".
Peermusic has acquired the entire songs catalogue of the late bluegrass musician Earl Scruggs and the majority of the songs catalogue of his son Gary Scruggs. It was already involved in managing the Scruggs catalogue, however, via the new deal, "Peermusic acquires the US rights it was previously administering for Earl Scruggs as well as some of the songs that were previously controlled by the Scruggs estate".
Warner Chappell Music in the US has announced the promotions of Wallace Joseph to SVP A&R and Jon Chen to VP A&R. They will continue to report into President Ryan Press, who says: "A&R is all about following your instincts and being deeply ingrained in the culture, areas where both Wallace and Jon excel. They go above and beyond for our team and our songwriters, and they're masters at connecting talent with other music creators - not just here in the US, but all around the world. I'm very proud to see them both continue to grow with us as leaders. Here's to many more number ones to come!"
Ticketing company Dice has announced the appointment of former major label exec and Pharrell Williams manager Caron Veazey to its board of directors. She currently runs management agency and creative consultancy Something In Common. As a director of Dice she will, it says, "support the company's goal of reshaping the live music industry".
Booking agency Wasserman Music in the US has announced the appointment of Jason Roth as its VP Of Communications. He has previously had communication roles at SiriusXM, Pandora, Apple and Capitol Records. Says Wasserman CMO Lori Beth Feldman: "Jason's breadth of communications experience with music-related brands, technology and artists will be invaluable for the strategic development and messaging of Wasserman Music's growth on a global scale".
Katy Perry will release new black vinyl editions of her albums 'One Of The Boys', 'Teenage Dream' and 'PRISM' in October. Meanwhile, all three LPs also feature in an "exquisitely presented, individually numbered, limited edition boxset with coloured vinyl and keepsakes designed with previously unseen images from the albums' photo shoots", which is on pre-sale via her website. Well, I say that, it seems to have sold out already.
Róisín Murphy posted new track 'Fader' earlier this week, which is, and I quote, "the third puzzle piece to be taken from her highly anticipated upcoming album 'Hit Parade'". That's out on Ninja Tune on 8 Sep.
Young Fathers yesterday unveiled a new three track live video filmed in partnership with Amnesty International to raise awareness for Refugee Week. It features performances of 'I Saw', 'Geronimo' and 'Rice'. You can watch the latter on YouTube. Or sign up for a second online screening of the full three track video on Bandcamp here.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
SM Entertainment urges fans to report conduct that "could negatively impact" its artists
Which presumably means there is now a league of K-pop super-fans diligently monitoring the internet for any signs of defamation, copyright infringement or dodgy ticket sales.
Fans who spot any such conduct can now report it via a special website called KWANGYA 119, which has been officially described as "a reporting centre for protecting the rights and interests of SM artists".
According to a social media post, registered fans can access forms on that site to submit 'artist defamation reports', 'copyright infringement reports' or 'correction reports', or to otherwise make suggestions.
It also adds "we are in discussion with show organisers and ticketing sites" about adding a page for reporting illegal ticket sales.
So there you go. In the world of K-pop, you're not longer a super-fan until you've helped bring down at least a few defamers, infringers or dodgy ticket sellers. So, get monitoring everybody.