MUSEXPO day 1 – A&R legends speak
The MUSEXPO conference got under way in Los Angeles yesterday (April 17) – and delegates were treated to not one, but two masterclasses in A&R and music production during the opening day. Conference organiser Sat Bisla of A&R Worldwide introduced the first session by stating that "A&R is the lifeblood of our industry" and his first two keynote speakers, Ron Fair and Seymour Stein, set out to prove it as they traded anecdotes with interviewer Ralph Simon about their careers and the current state of music talent. Fair – an arranger, producer, musician, and label executive at Chrysalis, Island, EMI, Virgin, RCA, Interscope, A&M, Geffen and now at Faircraft Music – has worked with the likes of Black Eyes Peas, The O'Jays, Pat Benatar, score composer Bill Conti (Rocky), Christina Aguilera, Pussycat Dolls, and countless other acts. "To me there is always a formidable difference between music and records,” he said. “Records used music and abused music and the pursuit of a record is very different than pursuing musical excellence. A record needed to do what it had to do to get where it had to go, regardless to loyalty to music. Music for me is a religion and records is my industry." Fair also talked about his friendship with the late, legendary British artist manager Jazz Summers, who he worked with when he signed Snow Patrol in the US. "He was almost the cliché of the strong man manager, he would torture record companies but while he was torturing me, we became good friends,” he said. “Later on, we had some great conversations, and he kept on saying that we believe, we are believers, we believe that this song, this artist, this intangible thing that you cannot point to, but we believe over and over again. When his book Big Life came out, he wrote [on my copy], To Ron, a fellow believer, love, Jazz." Stein, co-founder of Sire Records, and who is still running the label, also came with a bag of anecdotes. Over the years, he signed such acts as The Ramones, Talking Heads, Richard Hell and Madonna, to name but a few. He said that, the first time he saw The Ramones play, they performed 18 songs in 20 minutes, but what really got him was that they had "great songs”. “That's the lowest common denominator,” he said, “That's what it is all about. I am not a musician and it bothered me for a while, but I can recognise a good song." And he said he tried not to get into bidding wars for hyped artists. "In the past, people would sign a band for $1m,” he said. “They don't do that anymore, because the business has shrunk. But I never did it.” MUSEXPO continues today. Stay tuned to musicweek.com and our Twitter feed for further coverage.
Drive Like Jehu-curated ATP cancelled – report
The second ATP 2.0 festival, curated by Drive Like Jehu, has been cancelled, according to the band. As the first ATP 2.0, curated by Stewart Lee, wrapped up, rumours began that the second date, which had been forced to move to Manchester after venue Pontins in Prestatyn claimed it had been cancelled, was not going to take place. This morning, Drive Like Jehu, who had curated the event, seemingly confirmed the rumours. In a Facebook post, they said: “It’s a uniquely cruel hoax to appeal to Drive Like Jehu’s ego and ask us to create a program based on personally inviting the bands and musicians that have inspired us and changed the way we hear music and then subject them and their supporters to this. We really wanted this show to happen more than anything. It had all the makings of a legendary weekend. We were so committed to seeing this through that we remained hopeful (blind in retrospect) amongst the ritualistic turmoil and crisis and trusted their solutions that would ensure that the show would definitely go on and the attendees would be treated fairly and the bands would be respected and celebrated.” The post also states that the “whole mess” of not being an “isolated incident”, with ATP now having a history of event cancellations. Organiser Barry Hogan has allegedly not honoured his agreements with many acts performing, according to the band’s statement, including purchasing flights to enable acts to attend. ATP is also reportedly unable to honour its agreements to find accommodation after moving the event for ticket-buyers who had paid to stay in Pontins. Drive Like Jehu also noted that ATP had offered to postpone the event until November, but the band declined. ATP is yet to respond to the post or rumours of cancellation.
YouTube launches Foundry to develop music talent
YouTube has launched the YouTube Music Foundry initiative to develop music talent and offer artists tools and guidance on growing their (YouTube) audience. Tools include live streaming video production, which has taken off on the likes of Facebook. Foundry content is available for free on YouTube’s main site, as well as the YouTube Music app. There have been two Foundry ‘sessions’ – each lasting two days – so far, in Los Angeles and London last year. A New York-based session will take place on April 25 with BJ the Chicago Kid, Gemaine, The Range, Built By Titan and Miracles Of Modern Science. Bloomberg’s earlier report that YouTube is reaching out to the music industry to discuss further collaborations and exclusive content has also been confirmed, although this initiative doesn’t have a formal name. (Billboard)
Millennials drive radio changes
A study based on a wide panel of radio listeners in the US provided ample evidence that radio listeners' habits are changing, but also that over-the-air radio is still a force to reckon with. Jacobs Media's Techsurvey12 covered 245 stations in the US and was based on 39,000 responses. Fred Jacobs, president of Jacobs Media, said millennials are the ones driving the changes in radio consumption, and are much more engaged than baby boomers. They dominate in categories such as social network, smartphone, connect to car, connected TV, streaming audio, streaming video, use of MP3 players, and video games. Boomers are more into the traditional use of radio and television. When asked why they still listen to radio, respondents said: to hear favourite songs, for the DJs/hosts, because they like to work with radio, "in the habit," "keeps me company," for news, "gets me in better mood," and "to check what's going on locally." Similarly, a majority of listeners said that radio was still the main source for music discovery, ahead of friends or social media. This behaviour shows, according to Jacobs, that radio still has a major role to play if it manages to keep providing what people want to listen radio for. Jacobs added a note of warning: The overflow of advertising is one of the reason listeners, especially millennials, will turn away from radio. Interestingly, this is also a reason given by listeners who walk away from Pandora. "Pandora's momentum is not great," said Jacobs. "While 27% say that they listen more to Pandora, 23% say they were listening less. People who listen to Pandora the most are moving away and they are mostly millennials."
Coachella, Time Warp festivals see deaths over the weekend
An 18-year-old woman has died following a car accident near Coachella on Friday (April 15). The woman, identified as Michala Freeland of Highland, was struck by a vehicle near to where the festival was being held at roughly 8:15pm. Her family confirmed that she was there to attend the festival. Freeland died an hour later at the Eisenhower Medical Centre, according to the Riverside County coroner's office. Police officers said that alcohol or drugs did not appear to be factors in the incident and the driver of the Jeep Cherokee reportedly co-operated with police in their investigation. In Buenos Aires, Argentine health officials have said at least five people have died and five others are critically ill from reported drug use at electronic festival Time Warp. Two people in their 20s died during the festival on Friday, while three more died in an ambulance or at a hospital. Officials have said that most of those still hospitalised are in comas. The city government said on Saturday that it has closed the center where the concert took place. (Billboard)
New issue of Music Week out now.
The new issue of Music Week is out now, featuring a Big Interview with A2IM chief Richard James Burgess, full analysis of Q1 sales figures, and the usual charts. On the front cover this week is YouTube vs. the music biz. Subscribe here.