Covid-19 music industry update: ISM open letter to Chancellor, Kodaline livestream and more

Covid-19 music industry update: ISM open letter to Chancellor, Kodaline livestream and more

Music Week is monitoring the impact of the Covid-19 spread around the globe on the biz.

The outbreak has wreaked havoc on the live music sector, leading to widespread festival and tour cancellations and the announcement of the government's £1.57 billion arts emergency fund.

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ISM lead open letter to the Chancellor

The ISM and Equity have organised an open letter signed by over 120 organisations and industry bodies from across the sector to send to the Chancellor, which calls on the UK government to further its financial support for freelancers in the performing arts and entertainment industries until spring 2021.

Those involved warn that cultural venues will not be able to afford to reopen with social distancing and without ‘financial intervention’ for the freelance community.

Chief executive of the ISM, Deborah Annetts, said: “Many of the ISM’s members are in despair. From full time gigging musicians to top flight opera singers, they have had no work since March and are without any prospect of work.

“The reality of socially distanced performances means that most venues simply cannot afford to reopen leaving the vast majority of musicians without work. Musicians are in desperate financial difficulty. Some are leaving the profession while others are working as delivery drivers to make ends meet. This is not the way to look after our talented musician workforce.

“We call on the government to put in place a tailored financial support scheme for the self-employed creative workforce, who are the lifeblood of the performing arts until venues can properly reopen. If the government does not support actors, musicians and technicians until they can work again in those venues, then we are looking at the devastation of the performing arts and an exodus of highly skilled talent.”

Dermot Kennedy livestream becomes biggest seller across US and Europe

Following the success of selling over 30,000 tickets for his pay-per-view concert, Dermot Kennedy’s livestream has now been named the biggest selling concert across the US and Europe.

The concert titled Some Summer Night aired July 30 and enabled fans to watch the singer perform at the Natural History Museum with special guest and Normal People actor Paul Mescal.

Now the singer has released an alternative video to his latest single Giants. The first video was animated due to lockdown restrictions, while the new video is live action having been filmed once lockdown began to ease.

Kodaline announce livestream shows with DICE

Following the release of their brand new album One Day At A Time, Kodaline will be performing a run of livestream shows from August-September.

The gigs will be in association with DICE and will take place twice a day, playing a unique show every week and offering fans the chance of a meet and greet.

Tickets are £10 for one show, or £30 for all four shows, and merchandise will be available on the DICE app.

Brent Cobb live at Omni Studios

Grammy-nominated artist Brent Cobb will be performing live on August 26 to celebrate his new album Keep ‘Em On They Toes.

The singer will be performing songs from the new record as well as a first look for fans to see the new video for Shut Up And Sing.

Tickets are on sale now and the stream will be available to watch via Topeka.

Fatboy Slim plays Ibiza Rocks 

DJ and producer Fatboy Slim played a poolside set at Ibiza Rocks, his first public appearance in six months since lockdown and the very first major headline artist to perform an event in Ibiza this summer.

The Ibiza Rocks venue has been adapted to meet the Covid safety measures and has obtained the ICTE Safe Tourism Certified seal, which is the maximum certification in Covid-19 protocols and health risk provention for the Spanish tourist industry. 

Following his set, Fatboy Slim said: “It was emotional, it really was emotional. I love DJing and I haven’t played outside my living room in six months, so to share with other people and to see them having fun was beautiful for me, my heart was beating and I just felt alive again. It was really nice that it was in a controlled environment. 

“There was a lot of soul searching going on about how to do it but we felt comfortable enough that everyone was having fun but still social distancing, it was safe and we were being responsible.”

Fuji Rock festival to broadcast exclusive livestream

One of the largest outdoor music festivals in Japan, Fuji Rock Festival, has announced it will be broadcasting an exclusive livestream, on YouTube.

From August 21-23, festivalgoers can tune into the stream to catch highlights from the festival's past as it digs through the archive.

The original festival was due to take place the same weekend and featured a line-up of Tame Impala, The Strokes, FKA Twigs and Disclosure.

"We had hoped that the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic would have normalized in time for this year's festival," said Johnnie Moylett of promoter Smash Corp. 

"Unfortunately, we can't welcome fans in person this year but we're excited to be working with YouTube to bring back great memories of past Fuji Rock Festival performances and to support the future of live music in Japan with this special edition Fuji Rock Festival live stream. Everybody needs some happy memories and positivity during these difficult times, and we hope you'll enjoy our live stream this year." 

Fans can expect to see performances from the likes of Beastie Boys, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, FKA Twigs, James Blake, Red Hot Chili Peppers, SIA, The xx, Vince Staples and more.

The event will be hosted entirely on the Fuji Rock Festival YouTube channel, or YouTube Music app.

James Bay x Apple Music

James Bay has announced his collaboration with Apple Music as part of their latest installment of the Apple Music At Home Session series. For the special edition of the series, Bay covers Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis and Trouble by Coldplay.

Bay has also been selected by Music Venue Trust as one of their seven new artist patrons. MVT represent hundreds of grassroots music venues throughout the UK and have created patrons in four major categories.

Metallica Drive-In Show

Metallica will be the first rock band to be featured in the Encore Drive-In Nights series, with a full set showing August 29 at hundreds of drive-in and outdoor cinemas across the United States and Canada.

The show will be shot specially for the Encore Drive-In Nights Series at a location near the band’s Northern California headquarters and will subsequently be edited and mixed by Metallica's production team. The band’s first show in nearly a year will feature material from throughout their near four-decade career.

Every ticket purchase - which admits one carload of up to six people - will include four digital downloads of Metallica’s S&M2, the album documenting the two concerts that reunited the band and San Francisco Symphony for the first time in 20 years.

The Metallica show is part of the Encore Drive-In Nights Series, which is presented by event production company Encore Live. Since June, Encore Live has partnered with drive-in cinemas to provide entertainment in a safe, creative way.

Cultural Recovery Fund

The application portal has opened for the government’s £500 million Culture Recovery Fund grants.

The Arts Council-administered fund is for cultural organisations, including those working in music, affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Round one is open funtil 12pm (midday) Friday, August 21. Round two is open from August 21 until September 4. Click here for details.

Frank Turner to reunite with The Sleeping Souls for livestream performance

On August 9 Frank Turner will host a livestream with his band The Sleeping Souls for an hour-long exclusive performance.

The stream will be broadcasted on Dice and is in support of his touring family.

Sennheiser are teaming up for the event, providing audio, video and lighting support and will mark Turner’s 2,500th show.

“I'm very excited for the show on Sunday, August 9th, for a bunch of reasons,” said Turner.

“Firstly, it's the first time I'll be seeing and playing with my band since lockdown started; having the full range of musicians and instruments will be a nice change from playing solo to my phone.

“Secondly, my crew have put together an amazing production for the show, with help from our friends at Sennheiser; top quality audio, video and lighting. And finally, it'll be my 2,500th show - one for the history books. I can't wait.”

Tickets are available now via the Dice app.

Fightback Brewing Company to support #saveourvenues

With the support of Frank Turner, Fightback Brewing Company have been announced as the Official Beer Partner by Music Venue Trust.

The company will sell Fightback Lager, Fightback Cider, Fightback Berries and Fightback IPA online in order to help support #saveourvenues.

Launched in 2018, the company is stocked in over 60 grassroots music venues across the UK and will donates 5p to Music Venue Trust for every pint sold.

The bottles are available online to enjoy at home now.

Frank Turner said: “The Save Our Venues campaign has been a great success in showing what all of us can achieve when we come together to fight for our corner of culture. The Music Venue Trust Save Our Venues Campaign and everybody who's been involved in it has made great strides in raising money and raising awareness during this difficult time.

“But the fight is far from over, and there is more that we can do. Of course everybody can go to and get involved and donate to the campaign there, but Music Venue Trust have also announced new lines of Fightback Lager, Fightback IPA and Fightback Cider and it's delicious! A donation from the sale of every single pint, bottle and can goes to the Save Our Venues fund. 

“So get involved, get yourself a drink, donate to the campaign and let's save our venues. Together.”

CEO Music Venue Trust, Mark Davyd, said: “Fightback is the only beer brand which donates to Music Venue Trust from every pint, bottle and can sold. With the help of all our friends and supporters we can amplify the message that This Beer Saves Music Venues. Every bottle will make a positive difference to our #saveourvenues campaign.”

AMPED Distribution signs new deals

Multiple new distribution deals have been signed with independent record labels including Better Noise Music, Earache Records, Nuclear Blast, PIAS, Polyvinyl, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and Tommy Boy Music, AMPED has revealed.

Head of AMPED, Dean Tabaac, said: “AMPED just finished another record breaking fiscal year (7/1/19 to 6/30/20) and we are defying and defining what physical sales can do on and offline. We were just about even with prior fiscal on CDs while the industry was down 30% and the industry was up 10.5% for vinyl while AMPED was up over 30%!

“In the new year, we think a critical campaign needs to focus on moving the new release street date back to Tuesday. The Friday street date has proven to be detrimental to maximizing sales across physical and digital platforms. Streaming remains strong and we feel it is actually helping physical sales since there are no longer cultural borders preventing anyone from listening and learning about any genre or artist they want.”

Tomorrowland Around the World

The first edition of digital festival Tomorrowland Around the World aired last weekend reaching over 1 million views, and now fans that have bought tickets can re-watch the action for two more weeks.

From 5pm (CEST) on-demand video platform Relive will feature full sets and performances from the weekend of over 60 artists across the electronic and dance genres.

Workshops and Inspiration Sessions will also be available, and tickets are available now.

Peter Gabriel announces campaign for live events industry

In aid of the live events sector, Peter Gabriel has announced his support for the #WeMakeEvents campaign created by the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA).

The campaign aims to get the voices of the industry heard by the Government and asks for: Grants rather than loans to be made available to businesses in the events supply chain, the furlough scheme to extend until the industry is back to work, and an extension the self-employment scheme.

Gabriel gives his support as a festival co-founder of WOMAD which has also been effected by the impact of Covid-19.

In a statement posted to his website, he said: “The live events sector employs over 600,000 highly skilled people in the UK - event production, audio, lighting, video, logistics, planning, transportation and technology - over 70% of which are freelancers. All of whom have had no work for the past four months with little likelihood of restarting until Spring 2021 at the earliest. 

"Even though, despite our own losses, we and some others are setting up some small funds for retraining, this industry really urgently needs proper support of the like that has been given to many other businesses. Without this immediate support from government, the entire supply chain is at risk of collapse. Financial support needs to be extended to the people and companies in this sector until they can return to work.

"Many of these people are freelancers so don’t fall under furlough schemes, so right now they are feeling the pinch very badly and if we want live events and festivals to stay an important British business then it needs to be supported.”

CMM responds to Cultural Recovery Fund guidance

The UK Council of Music Makes (CMM) has said it “welcomes the guidance for the Cultural Recovery Fund to be distributed by Arts Council England.”

Comprised of FAC, Ivors Academy, MMF, MPG and the MU, the CMM stated, “the primary aim of such unprecedented funding should be to support the broadest cross-section of our industry to facilitate a safe return to economic activity.

“Together these funds – with the new £2m open to crew, stage managers and technicians – should provide the best opportunity to support more workers, including the creators and performers, and all those roles that are dependent upon live music.”

Cockpit Theatre re-opens

The Cockpit Theatre has re-opened for shows, classes, rehearsals, film shoots, broadcasts, pleasure and community activities following its first opera performance post-lockdown.

Cockpit director, Dave Wybrow said: “We have had a lot of really good feedback about Sunday's pilot opera with the audience and I am unsurprised. It was a triumph. Everyone that worked on it made it a real success and it was a pleasure to be there.

“The joy is that some things were better than before!, like people being able to order a drink using Whatsapp from a table out in the street.

CAA announces layoffs

Leading talent agency CAA has confirmed the departure of around 90 agents and executives from across the business. 

The firm said the layoffs were made with "greater visibility into the Covid-19 challenges of fiscal year 2021", while approximately 275 assistants and other workers will be furloughed. 

According to Variety, the cuts will include staff from the firm's London, New York, Los Angeles and Nashville offices.

"CAA began working remotely earlier this year due to the pandemic," read a company statement. "Everyone at the company participated in reducing compensation with the hope that we could keep all employees financially whole through the end of our fiscal year, September 30, 2020.

"We are honuoring that commitment, including for those impacted by today’s announcement.

"But, with greater visibility into the Covid-19 challenges of fiscal year 2021, we have made the difficult decision to implement workforce reductions, in addition to our ongoing cost-saving measures.

"Effective this week, approximately 90 agents and executives from departments across the agency will be leaving.  In addition, we are furloughing approximately 275 assistants and other staff. The company will continue to fully pay the health plan premiums for those being furloughed.

"This is a painful and unprecedented moment, and words are insufficient. Today, we simply say that we extend our sincere appreciation and deepest gratitude to our departing colleagues."

Fellow international agencies WME and Paradigm are among other live music companies to have laid off and furloughed staff since the concert shutdown began in March.

Sound City cancelled, rescheduled for 2021

Organisers of Sound City have cancelled the 2020 event and announced the event will return from April 30 to May 2, 2021.

Originally scheduled for May, Sound City 2020 was postponed until September as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

In the meantime, the Sound City team developed and launched Guest House – a livestreaming platform with weekly programming. The inaugural Stay At Home Festival in May saw livestreamed performances from the likes of Friendly Fires, The Wombats, She Drew The Gun and Ian Skelly. New Guest House shows will air throughout the year, including between September 25-27 when this year’s Sound City was due to take place. 

Sound City MD Rebecca Ayres said: “Cancelling Sound City this year is one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make, however, with all factors taken into account, we feel that by pushing ahead in September we would not be able to guarantee the usual exciting, quality event that our fans and artists deserve. It is for the best that we focus on next year’s Sound City so that we can work to give everyone an unforgettable festival experience with the very best emerging music.

“These difficult times have presented the entire music industry with incredible challenges - but there are so many examples of those challenges being turned into opportunities. We started our Guest House livestreaming platform as a way of helping artists who had a vital revenue source snatched from them, and it has grown into a highly popular part of the Sound City brand.

"We will continue to bring great music and experiences to fans and more opportunities to artists and partners via Guest House and look forward to a spectacular return for the Sound City festival and conference in 2021.”

Ronnie Scott's confirms reopening plans

World famous jazz venue Ronnie Scott’s has announced its first schedule of artists after confirming it will reopen on August 1.

The Soho club will open with a reduced capacity of 50% and with strict social distancing measures in place. It will also provide seated tables outside providing champagne and burgers.

The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, the last act to play before the closure, will open the club on August 1. Other confirmed acts include jazz vocalist Liane Carrol, Sam Smith collaborator Reuben James, ex-Puppuni Sister Emma Smith playing tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and trumpet player Mark Kavuma.

Simon Cooke, MD of Ronnie Scott’s said: "It’s great to be back doing what we do, we have been looking on enviously whilst restaurants have reopened, especially as the club is laid out like a restaurant. We have been planning the relaunch for some time so as soon as we got the green light for live performance we moved into action. 

"Our unique structure of seating lends itself to distancing, some may say the added space is an improvement! Safety of our customers, staff and artists is of paramount importance so there will be protocols for the customers, the staff and the musicians.

“It’s been reported that social distancing measures could be financially ruinous for many other music venues to open, but it would be financially ruinous for us not to!"

Exit Festival unveils first acts for 2021

Exit Festival has unveiled David Guetta, DJ Snake, Tyga, Eric Prydz, Four Tet, Boris Brejcha, Sepultura and Metronomy among its opening line-up for its 2021 event. 

Set for July 8-11 Exit takes place at one of the biggest medieval fortresses in Europe, high on the banks of the river Danube in Novi Sad, Serbia.

The festival is considering options to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a symbolic event this September, which will focus on an online stream.

The Serbian Prime Minister had initially asked Exit not to cancel this year's festival but rather postpone it to mid-August as the number of new daily cases was on a steady sharp decline at that point. However, organisers later decided to cancel following an increase of new daily cases in several municipalities.

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