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LIVE NATION DEALS WITH MORE SPRINGSTEEN TICKET ISSUES, WHILE AEG DISCUSSES THE ROLL OUT OF ITS TICKETMASTER RIVAL
In 2009, when the main Ticketmaster site struggled to cope with demand for the sale of Springsteen tickets, it pointed fans in the direction of the firm's own ticket resale service, TicketsNow, which was already selling marked-up secondary tickets for the shows, even though primary tickets were still technically available. Springsteen was not happy when he heard what was happening, and the resulting fallout threw a spotlight onto the whole secondary ticketing thing, and especially Ticketmaster's dabblings in the resale sector, in both the American media and US political circles.
Much of the drama happened in Springsteen's home state of New Jersey, where demand for tickets was highest, though loud criticism of the boom in online ticket touting (or scalping, to use the American term) occurred at a national level, and one New Jersey congressman, Bill Pascrell, proposed new legislation on Capitol Hill which would have forced more transparency on the ticketing industry, and especially on the relationship between primary ticket sellers and those who resell for profit online.
Tickets for a new Springsteen tour went on sale last Friday, and the Ticketmaster site again struggled to cope with demand, with many fans finding frozen screens when they tried to buy. But the scalpers were seemingly getting access to tickets, because they were fast appearing on resale sites like StubHub.
Having learned its lesson in 2009, Ticketmaster is now much more cautious in the way it promotes its ticket resale site via its own primary tickets platform, so can't be accused this time of prematurely directing customers to marked up secondary tickets itself. However, critics of the ticketing giant again wondered why touts were seemingly getting tickets, when genuine fans were not.
Ticketmaster admitted its servers had been particularly busy, adding that this was likely because touts were using software to try to buy up as many tickets as possible, putting a strain on the system. But, the company added, it was doing everything possible to ensure actual fans could get tickets directly, adding that primary tickets were still available.
Said the ticketing firm: "We have been experiencing highly abnormal traffic patterns on our site this morning that have impacted the fan buying experience for some customers. Early indications suggest that much of this traffic came from highly suspicious sources, implying that scalpers were using sophisticated computer programs to assault our systems and secure tickets with the sole intention of selling them in the resale market. We are investigating the source of the problem and are working to resolve it as quickly as possible, but tickets are selling so please stay patient".
While Ticketmaster's own secondary site was not overtly benefiting this time round, Pascrell still told reporters on Friday that he was aware of the problems Springsteen fans had had buying tickets from the primary seller and, assuming that was indeed in part due to scalpers employing bots to grab as many tickets as possible, there was now a case for Congress to give some new consideration to the ticket resales market. The congressman said in a statement: "Whether today's problems are due to honest mistakes or dishonest market manipulation, regular folks who wanted a little entertainment were not able to get what they wanted at a fair price".
The wider music industry, of course, has often dithered on the issue of secondary ticketing, on both sides of the Atlantic. While some key artists, managers and promoters have spoken out against the growth of ticketing touting in the online age - some calling on the political community to introduce new rules to limit the secondary market - it's known some other artists, managers and promoters routinely resell their own ticket allocations for gigs via resale sites to generate some extra revenue, making it tricky for the industry at large to vehemently call for some kind of touting controls.
As Live Nation and Ticketmaster dealt with the grumbling Bruce Springsteen fans again, their main competitor, AEG Live, has been talking up its new ticketing platform, AXS, which had a low key launch in the US last summer, and which is set to grow in 2012. AEG, of course, decided to launch its own ticketing business after rivals Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster in 2010.
And one of the services due to be included in AXS as it rolls out is ticket lottery system, whereby users can pre-register for in-demand events, and tickets will be distributed on a random basis, presumably with efforts to filter obvious touts out of the lottery process. AEG hopes the lottery system, similar to that used by Glastonbury Festival, might overcome the frustrations felt by fans when tickets for big tours sell out in minutes while they struggle to get the relevant webpage to load.
Other AXS features revealed by AEG's ticketing chief Bryan Perez in a briefing yesterday, according to the Wall Street Journal, include the option for friends to book seats in a block, but each pay on their own credit card, and widgets that will make it easier for sponsors and other music services to sell tickets using the AXS system via their own sites. AEG's new business partner, Mark Cuban, was also on hand to discuss the previously reported brand extension, AXS TV, which will appear in place of Cuban's existing US TV network HDNet. He confirmed the new network will air recordings of concerts and other live events, and would also have a regular entertainment magazine show called AXS Live.
MEGA DATA GIVEN TWO WEEK REPRIEVE
As previously reported, MegaUpload was taken offline earlier this month when the US authorities raided server facilities in Virginia that hosted much of the web company's online operations. The shutdown occurred as various execs linked to the company were arrested on charges of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering.
But, while the Mega companies are accused of making millions by providing downloads and streams of unlicensed music, movies and TV shows, the MegaUpload service did have a legitimate element, in that users could distribute and store their own content via the Mega platform. Many now wonder what will happen to the legit content that belongs to Mega's former customers, said users being unable to access their Mega accounts since the service was taken offline.
All that data is stored on the servers of two US companies, Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications, neither of whom are being paid by Mega anymore, the rogue web firm having had all its bank accounts frozen. The American authorities seemed to shirk any responsibility for the legit data stored on the Mega platform last week, saying it was a matter for Carpathia and Cogent, while a court submission from the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said it was under the impression the server companies would begin deleting Mega data this Thursday.
But MegaUpload attorney Ira Rothken, himself keen to ensure the legit content on Mega's servers is not deleted so it can be used as part of his client's defence, told reporters yesterday the server firms had given him more time to negotiate with government officials in a bid to find a way to rescue the at risk data - presumably by freeing up some of Mega's frozen funds to pay Carpathia and Cogent to somehow return legit data to customers.
Rothken told reporters yesterday: "The hosting companies have been gracious enough to provide additional time so we can work out some kind of arrangement with the government".
As also previously reported, while US authorities seem disinterested in the at risk data, some former Mega users in Spain are planning to sue, claiming that by switching off the Mega servers with no notice America breached Spanish laws on "misappropriating personal data".
SURVIVOR MAN SUES US PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL OVER SONG USE
According to TMZ, Rude Music, the company of Survivor guitarist and songwriter Frankie Sullivan, has sued Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, for the former congressman's use of his song 'Eye Of The Tiger' at political rallies. Sullivan co-wrote the track in 1982 as the theme for 'Rocky III'.
Sullivan's lawsuit reportedly accuses Gingrich of violating his copyright by playing the song at his rallies, and is seeking an injunction to stop its use.
Sullivan is by no means the first artist to hit out at a politician for using one of his songs as a campaign tool, with many musicians fearing that the use of their tracks by political types implies some sort of endorsement. Artists in both the US and UK have complained about the use of their songs in this way, though its only really Stateside that said artists threaten legal action.
The problem for Sullivan, though, is that where legal threats have worked in the past the offending politician has used a song in some sort of online content, usually syncing the song to a video. That's a more straightforward case of copyright infringement. But if venues where political rallies take place have public performance licences from the US collecting societies - Sullivan is an ASCAP member - then the presidential wannabes are probably covered copyright-wise if they only use songs at live events.
Though few politicians would enjoy the prospect of facing off a popular musician in court during campaigning season, so it may be that Sullivan's lawyers know a mere threat of action will be enough to persuade Team Gingrich to compile a new soundtrack, even if copyright law is not especially on their side.
NME AWARD NOMS OUT
Whether Geldof plans to be present at the Brixton Academy on 29 Feb isn't clear, but many of the following nominees presumably will be, so maybe one of them could take on the "call Whitehall a cunt" duties. And talking of the noms, and not that we would wish to influence the voting (which is now open at www.nme.com/awardsvote), but would it not be wonderful if Beady Eye were declared Worst Band on the same night Noel Gallagher was declared a Godlike Genius? Or is that just me? Anyway, those noms...
Best British Band: Arctic Monkeys, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Horrors, Kasabian, Muse
Best Album: Artic Monkeys - Suck It and See, The Horrors - Skying, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, PJ Harvey - Let England Shake, The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
Best Re-issue: Manic Street Preachers - National Treasures, Nirvana - Never Mind, Primal Screen - Screamadelica, Rolling Stones - Some Girls, The Smiths - Complete Re-Issues
Hero Of The Year: Alex Turner, Dave Grohl, Matt Bellamy, Noel Fielding, Noel Gallagher
Worst Album: Justin Bieber - Under The Mistletoe, Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto, Lady Gaga - Born This Way, One Direction - Up All Night, Viva Brother - Famous First Words
XFM NEW MUSIC AWARD SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED
Says John Kennedy: "A classic debut album is both the culmination of a lifetime of experience and the launch pad for a future life of musical creativity. It's great that Xfm recognises this and seeks to give it the attention it deserves. 2011 was an amazing year for debuts, to choose one for the Award will be quite a task!"
The winner will be announced on 8 Feb at The Ritz in Manchester.
The shortlist is as follows:
Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding
LIVE NATION BOSS TOPS BILLBOARD'S POWER 100
Five years ago the safe way to play it with one of these lists was to stick at geek in the top spot - usually Steve Jobs - so that all the egos actually within the music industry vying for the number one position could be told "well, you know, it's all about computers these days, innit?" But Billboard hasn't chickened out and gone with Mark Zuckerberg or Daniel Ek at the top, and instead has named Live Nation co-chief and veteran artist manager Irving Azoff the most important man in music.
Putting Live Nation, the biggest live music company in the world, ahead of Universal Music, the biggest music rights company in the world, is interesting for sure. Presumably Universal boss Lucian Grainge will take it on the chin though, partly because Live Nation and Universal became business partners last year, and partly because being officially labelled as only the second most important music company in the world could come in helpful when trying to convince American anti-trust regulators that letting Universal swallow up the EMI record company isn't that big a deal really.
Grainge, though, isn't even second, with Coran Capshaw, boss of artist management power house Red Light Management ahead of the Universal chief at number two. Although Capshaw has successfully dabbled in various music and online ventures over the years, his management agency is his core business. And given that Azoff rose to the top of Live Nation via his Front Line management business, now an important part of the live music conglom, I guess Billboard is really telling us the veteran artist managers have the real power in music at the moment.
Though the major label and publishing chiefs do start to appear as you scan down the list which you can find in full on the Billboard site below. And while most parts of the industry are covered, including music rights, live, management, digital and media, it's not an especially diverse bunch. Certainly, if Billboard is to be believed, old white men are very much still in dominance at the top of the American music business.
WILL.I.AM ADDS BRITNEY AND SHAKIRA TO SOLO ALBUM ROLL CALL
Mick Jagger and Jennifer Lopez appeared on the recently released single 'THE (The Hardest Ever)', and Alicia Keys, Swedish House Mafia, Swizz Beatz, Eva Simons, and LMFAO will also feature on the album. Oh, and Busta Rhymes is on there somewhere, but that's pretty much a given these days, there are few albums he doesn't appear on in some capacity.
Speaking to Capital FM, Will.i.am said: "I have a song with Alicia Keys - me, Alicia and Swedish House Mafia. Me and Shakira have been trying to finish the stuff we started, and me and Britney is really crazy. So we got a song with me, LMFAO and Eva Simons. A song with me and Busta Rhymes and Swizz Beatz. I got a whole other bunch of collaborations".
Discussing the album's social networking-ready title, he explained: "#willpower is just a reminder to myself of staying consistent with the dream - keeping the dream alive. It was all a dream when I was fifteen years old - 20 years later I managed to take the dream from an idea to physicality. So #willpower is uplifting songs, encouragement for those that need it".
Joy. In other Shakira news, the Colombian singer has been made a Chevalier De L'ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres (or Knight Of The Order Of The Arts And Letters) by the French government. So that's nice.
THESE NEW PURITANS WRITING NEW LP
The new record will come out on London-based independent Infectious Music (Local Natives, Temper Trap) rather than via the band's former label Angular Records, a move that has seemingly involved a lot of tedious legal shenanigans.
A TNP tweet reads: "We are making a new album. We spent months with lawyers and are pleased to have moved to Infectious Music for its release".
So, that's that.
JACK WHITE DETAILS SOLO DEBUT, STREAMS NEW TRACK
Says White of his long-awaited lone venture: "This is an album I couldn't have released until now. I've put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colours on my own canvas".
The really rather good 'Love Interruption' is also available as a digital single as of today, backed with non-album cut 'Machine Gun Silhouette'. Meanwhile listen to 'Love Interruption' online here: jackwhiteiii.com
I LIKE TRAINS NAME ALBUM
Meanwhile, it's available for pre-order in both standard and deluxe CD/vinyl format at the ILR web store: store.ilikerecords.com
LIBERTINES DOC DIRECTOR OFFERS EXTRAS VIA PLEDGE PARTNERSHIP
The film is due to be screened at various Academy venues around the UK in March before going on general release in April. Fans can pre-order the DVD version and other related content, including a live EP, artwork, and all sorts of extra stuff via the Pledge website, which is offering a number of different packages in different price ranges. The Pledge initiative has enabled Sargent to delve deeper into his footage and make lots of extra bits and pieces available to fans.
Says PledgeMusic MD Malcolm Dunbar: "The Libertines are a hugely important band and we are extremely pleased to be able to help them connect with their loyal and committed fanbase for this fantastic new project. The fact that we have already reached our original target in such a short space of time demonstrates the appetite out there for this new film and highlights the viability of getting fans involved at an early stage".
NEW ORDER TO TOUR
26 Apr: Manchester, Apollo
FIXERS ANNOUNCE ALBUM, TOUR
The announcement comes matched with news of a set of headlining live dates, upon which Fixers will embark after supporting Kaiser Chiefs on their February tour. You'll find details of the headline shows nestled beneath the 'cereal horror' happenings of the 'Iron Deer Dream' video.
11 May: Southampton, Joiners
CLOCK OPERA PLOT TOUR AROUND DEBUT ALBUM
11 Apr: Newcastle, Academy 2
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BENICASSIM, FIB Heineken, Valencia, Spain, 12-15 Jul: French DJ and all-round decks-pert David Guetta serves to supplement the Benicassim bill, setting a beat for fellow line-up residents The Stone Roses, New Order, Florence And The Machine, Miles Kane and Katy B. www.fiberfib.com
GREEN MAN FESTIVAL, Glanusk Park, Powys, Wales, 17-19 Aug: Feist rides the initial wave of acts to strike this year's Green Man roster; confirmed, as she is, to close the festival with a headline set. Other acts announced include The Walkmen, Yann Tiersen, Junior Boys, Cass McCombs, Slow Club, Ghostpoet, The Wave Pictures and Islet. www.greenman.net
PINKPOP, Landgraaf, Limburg, Netherlands, 26-28 May: Perennially-popular folk troupe Mumford & Sons have been booked as warm-up men to already announced festival headliners Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, who top a triple-barrelled bill alongside Soundgarden and The Cure. www.pinkpop.nl
PRIMAVERA SOUND, Parc Del Forum, Barcelona, Spain, 30 May - 3 Jun: Amongst the latest batch of additions to this year's Primavera programme are the varied but very good likes of Beirut, Girls, Iceage, Atlas Sound, Death Grips, Sharon Van Etten and Erol Alkan. The Rapture, Laura Marling, The War On Drugs, Yann Tiersen, Wavves, Real Estate and Dominant Legs also join co-headliners Björk, The Cure and Franz Ferdinand on a thriving overall bill. www.primaverasound.com
SOUNDWAVE CROATIA, The Garden, Tisno, Croatia, 19-23 Jul: This self-styled boutique happening has amongst its musical cast such beat-smart sorts as Ghospoet, De La Soul, Plaid, Kwes, Fink, DJ Yoda and, of course, Craig Charles. www.soundwavecroatia.com
BEBO OFFLINE, BUT OWNERS BLAME TECHNICAL PROBLEMS
The one time MySpace and Facebook competitor, often dubbed as the kid's social network in the UK, but once particularly big news in Ireland, went offline last night, leading to speculation that the site, offloaded by former owner AOL in 2010, had finally bitten the dust.
We still can't connect to the site this morning, but apparently a spokesperson for Bebo has told Techcrunch that it is simply experiencing technical problems (well, according to Techcrunch the spokesperson said the site was down due to a "technical clusterfuck"), and that normal service will be resumed shortly. Which I'm sure will reassure the service's nine remaining users.
Even Bebo's original founder Michael Birch seemed to think the site had finally died, tweeting as much last night, though he too later announced technical problems were to blame for Bebo.com being offline, saying via Twitter "Hold the press (too late for that), Bebo should be coming back in a matter of hours".
MORE MIDEM ANNOUNCEMENTS: RARA.COM, DEEZER, RICALL, CUESONGS
First, Omnifone's consumer-facing streaming service Rara.com, which launched last month, announced it had secured a pan-European deal with PRS For Music to cover publishing rights. Omnifone's licensing man Jez Bell, himself a former PRS exec, told reporters: "Working closely with rights holders to license a great range of content for the next-generation music services powered by Omnifone is our priority, and alongside PRS For Music, we're striving to redress the damage done to the music industry by online piracy".
Second, GEMA, Germany's publishing rights collecting society, confirmed it has licensed French-based streaming music platform Deezer which, as previously reported, is currently pursuing an ambitious roll out programme around the world. Getting licences from GEMA to operate in Germany has proven tricky for many streaming services, but the society recently published a new set of online tariffs, which the Deezer deal is based on. GEMA CEO Harald Heker told reporters: "We are convinced that signing the contract will send a signal to other online providers. The new rates make it clear it is indeed possible to reach agreements with GEMA that are lucrative for both sides".
And third, both online music licensing platform Ricall and Peter Gabriel announced new ventures to make it easier and cheaper for smaller and grass roots organisations wanting to use music in videos to licence tracks by featured artists. Ricall Express announced deals with both EMI's record labels and publishing company, plus music firms Imagem, Peermusic UK, Music Sales, Concord and others for its simplified grass roots sync licensing service.
Gabriel's company is called CueSongs, and is led by Ed Averdieck, who previously collaborated with Gabriel at early download provider OD2. They also have a stack of both record companies and music publishers on board, including Sony, Peermusic, Cooking Vinyl, New State and Downtown Music. Said Gabriel: "Young and minority interest artists will be able to get their work in front of people all over the world looking to license something interesting and different. Successful artists will find that a lot of their catalogue that is now rarely touched can generate a lot of use, with easy access and the right price".
UNIVERSAL PARTNER ON YET ANOTHER MUSICAL TELLY TALENT SHOW
The press release describes the new show as follows: "Exceptionally talented singers are given the unique opportunity to earn money each week by using their vocal talent. But first they must beat their opponents in a series of die-hard vocal duels". Singers of all ages and types, including professional artists looking for a televised comeback, will be welcome to take part, and there'll be big cash to be won, with a million dollars up for grabs on the final edition.
Yeah, sounds shit doesn't? It'll probably be huge. Universal will then get to work with these "exceptionally talented singers". Says Universal top man Lucian Grainge: "UMG is about breaking and nurturing new artists and their music. Our partnership with John and his team has provided the right combination of innovation, platform and talent to do just that in dynamic new way".
STONE ROSES' MANI DISCOVERS £2M IN BANK ACCOUNT
According to The Sun, Mani told friends in Stockport: "It's madness. I only went out to buy milk and things. I went to the cashpoint and someone has stuck nearly £2 million in while I wasn't looking. The whole world's gone crazy. I could have fallen over backwards when I saw the balance".
That this was a surprise to him suggests he didn't read his contract for the band's upcoming reunion tour very closely, the money being his share of the advance.