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INDUSTRY RESPONDS FOLLOWING DISPATCHES SECONDARY TICKETING EXPOSÉ
As previously reported, the Channel 4 documentary show focused on the ticket resale sector last night, after legal efforts by resale site Viagogo to stop the programme being aired failed. The exposé looked in particular at how certain tour promoters are now working with resale services like Viagogo to put large numbers of tickets directly on to the auction sites as soon as tickets go on sale, cutting the numbers available via primary ticketing agents like Ticketmaster. The tour promoters and resale agents then share any mark up on those tickets.
Although not illegal, some argue that by adopting an 'if you can't beat them join them' approach to the boom in ticket touting that occurred after the rise of eBay and ticket-specific auction websites, these promoters are exasperating the problem, meaning more fans miss out on primary tickets and are forced to pay artificially hiked up prices.
Others object to the secrecy behind the industrial touting that takes place, with most resale sites officially claiming they don't get directly involved in ticket provision, and that they merely provide a platform that enables fans to sell to other fans, but the Channel 4 programme shows that in some and possibly many cases that's simply not true. In terms of the resale sites, Viagogo and Seatwave were the focus of the documentary, while Live Nation and SJM in particular were profiled as the promoters which tout their own tickets.
While, as previously reported, both Viagogo and Seatwave issued individual tatements defending their business models before the Channel 4 exposé aired, the promoters have put out a statement via their trade body the Concert Promoters Association, which claims that its members were forced to participate in the ticket resale game after it became clear government would not move to limit the boom in online touting, and that they see the use of Viagogo type platforms in this way as a form of legitimate 'premium primary ticketing' rather than strictly participating in the 'secondary sale' market.
CPA's statement reads: "[We] warned the Department Of Culture Media And Sport and a committee of MPs that without legislation [against the rise in touting], promoters, artists and managers would, at least in part, operate in the secondary market in order to catch the lost revenue on behalf of the artists and event owners so that this money would at least stay in the industry. If promoters put tickets into the secondary market then the result is that prices are brought down whilst also ensuring that some of the tickets available in the secondary are actually genuine ones".
The trade body continues: "In this respect the secondary market is effectively being used as a premium-price primary market for those fans who wish to use it for convenience. We are sure that those fans who use the secondary market for convenience and are prepared to pay a premium would be happier that the premium went to the artist via the promoter rather than went to a tout".
But, judging by the response to the 'Dispatches' programme on Twitter and the Channel 4 website last night fans are not very happy at all about the promoters using the secondary ticketing platforms in this way, with many sending messages to the bands whose tours the show focused on - Take That in particular - urging them to act on this issue, or find new promoters. Realistically, and assuming there isn't any real will in government to act on touting, it's only action by artists to distance themselves from the resale phenomenon, possibly for PR reasons, that is going to have any tangible impact on the practice.
Though those in the industry who have retained an anti stance to secondary ticketing throughout, and who resisted the temptation to join the party, may also be motivated to become more vocal on this issue once again. A few of those people issued statements this morning, as follows.
Richard Marks, founder of the recently relaunched 'ethical ticket resale site' Scarlet Mist: "What really sticks in our throat is the connivance of the promoters with the scalpers and touts. This is a rotten industry, and one which cries out to be regulated and throttled back. We urge Parliament to support Sharon Hodgson's proposals to stop this cynical deception".
A spokesman for the Association Of Independent Festivals: "The 'Dispatches' exposé on secondary ticketing sites has revealed that the majority of tickets on these sites are purchased and sold by [professional] touts and in-house buyers. AIF launched the Ticket Trust in summer 2011 in partnership with Sandbag as a direct response to these immoral operations. The Ticket Trust is a genuine fan-to-fan ticket exchange, which offers a safe and secure platform for the resale of unwanted tickets at face value. In 2011, tickets were ethically exchanged for End Of The Road, Bestival, Camp Bestival, Kendal Calling, Creamfields and Secret Garden Party, and watch this space as the world's biggest and most conscious artists join the exchange and stand up for the very fans who keep them in business".
Sandbag's Christiaan Munro, a co-founder of The Ticket Trust: "'Dispatches' has made public what many in the music industry have known or suspected for a long time. The wholesale use of the secondary market is not necessarily illegal but is morally abhorrent. We take great pride in having established The Ticket Trust secondary platform with the Association Of Independent Festivals and hope that many more other real music fans can get to sell or buy unwanted tickets at face value in a fair and transparent manner. I guess it is now time for those involved to ask themselves if they are still comfortable biting the hand that feeds them".
And a spokesman for AIF affiliated Kendal Calling: "[Our festival] is built on creating amazing experiences for fans. That includes the ticket buying process and price. We are proud to be supporting the not-for-profit resales and encourage fans to be a part of this too".
And finally, Dave Newton, Director of independent ticketing website WeGotTickets: "'Dispatches' certainly highlighted how certain parts of the live industry have been complicit in these 'legitimised' touting practices - agents, promoters and, in many cases, artists themselves. We need to be careful, however, not to confuse the online and secondary ticketing sectors, thereby tarring the legitimate electronic ticket vendor with the same brush. The water is muddied by companies like Ticketmaster who, as a primary seller, are happy to dance with the secondary ticketing devil with their Get Me In outlet. Also the Concert Promoters Association set up (the quickly defunct) OfficialBoxOffice.com a few years back, which was powered by See Tickets. This was their 'can't beat them then join them' reaction to Viagogo and Seatwave launching in the UK and taking the touting business that they were previously in control of".
He continues: "This is really just a continuation of the promoters-of-old who themselves used to take physical tickets out of the back door of the Box Office and put them in the hands of street touts for cash at a mark-up over face-value. At the end of the day we encourage customers to investigate where they're buying their tickets from, if the company is opaque with their processes and don't account for their fees or where the ticket comes from then questions should be asked. WeGotTickets remains a primary ticketing company with all our tickets sold at face value and supplied directly to us by the event organiser. Every penny of our fees is fully accounted for and our booking fee is also the lowest in the industry - this is a policy of transparency that we have campaigned for years and will continue to adhere to".
The 'Dispatches' programme is now online here:
CHARLOTTE CHURCH SETTLES OVER PHONE HACKING LAWSUIT
As previously reported, Church was the last of the first batch of celebrities who sued the paper over phone hacking (whose legal claim was court ready) not to settle, and it looked like that case might go properly to court, finally throwing a proper judicial spotlight onto the NOTW scandal, much of which is still shadowed in secrecy as the Metropolitan Police's criminal investigation crawls along.
But yesterday Church, who said stories about her personal life which she believes were sourced from her voicemail account caused her and her parents great distress, settled with the newspaper company. Reports suggest she may have got £500,000 in damages, £180,000 of which would cover legal costs.
That means News International can avoid any embarrassing revelations in court just as it re-enters the Sunday tabloid market with NOTWv2, aka the Sun On Sunday. Other more recent celebrity civil lawsuits continue to go through the motions, with more being added all the time, though most if not all will be settled out of court, costing NI millions.
CONVICTED DODGY JUKEBOX OPERATORS ORDERED TO PAY UP
As previously reported, last July Malcolm Wylie, his son Peter Wylie (not the Mighty Wah frontman) and William Ross were all handed custodial sentences for their involvement in the jukebox enterprise, which provided supposedly fully licensed jukeboxes to North East businesses, but then pocketed all the income without paying any money over to the rights owners via PPL. Since then Ross has been ordered to pay £102,000 to BPI/PPL, and earlier this month Wylie Senior and Junior were together ordered to hand over £131,000.
Welcoming the most recent court rulings in this case, BPI Director of Anti Piracy, David Wood, told reporters: "The outcome of [this latest] hearing is recompense for artists who have been deprived of a fair return for their work. The illegal activity has not only harmed the music industry but also those landlords who, in difficult economic times, believed they were paying for a legitimate service when in fact they were being exploited. We would like to thank PPL for their partnership in bringing this case to a successful outcome".
PPL's Head of Dubbing and Tariff Development Richard Stewart added: "This is a great result for both the BPI and PPL. We have worked tirelessly over the past four years to secure justice for our members in regards to the case of Wylie, Wylie and Ross. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the BPI and we will actively pursue any illegal businesses that deprive our members of their rightful revenues or harm the wider music industry".
TINIE TALKS ALBUM TWO
Speaking about the current status of said long player, which succeeds his bestselling debut Disc-Overy', Tinie tells Capital FM: "Hopefully a couple of weeks after it's finished all the singles should start trickling out, but I'm so excited about it. It feels so much better than when I did the first one".
Typical of Tempah tradition, the record will feature contributions from the rapper's ever-reliable 'Disc-Overy' wingman, producer and now 'Earthquake' soloist Labrinth. Tinie has in the past hinted at a number of other potential "cool collaborations", even claiming to have had discussions with Coldplay, Dizzee Rascal and Gary Barlow. Thus far, though, no such collaborations have been confirmed.
TOM JONES AND JACK WHITE SINGLE TO BE SOLD IN ONE STORE ONLY
The shop, which is billed as "the world's oldest record shop", is where a young Jones used to buy his records in the 50s and 60s. For one day on 3 Mar it will be given the exclusive right to sell all 100 copies of the three-colour seven-inch release of the single.
Says the shop's website: "The release will be available for one day only to customers over the shop counter with no pre-orders available. We are under VERY strict instructions!"
JAMES BLAKE, SQUAREPUSHER PLOTTING AGGRESSIVE LPS
He informs Spinner: "A lot of the vocal music I've been doing recently has been quite clubby. But that's mainly because I've had more time to go to clubs, and that normally breeds that kind of influence. I've been doing quite a few DJ sets recently, which have been really fun".
He adds: "I think it's going to be a bit more aggressive, to be honest. It seems that way. In terms of writing more club tracks, I feel like it was all electronically influenced, but now that influence has come to me in a different way".
Meanwhile, stalwart Warp signing Squarepusher has, in his own indecipherable fashion, also shared several details of his own 'aggressive' new LP, which is entitled 'Ulfaum'. His first official solo output since 2009 (not counting his 2010 collaboration with pseudo-real band Shobaleader One), it's set for release on 14 May.
Not much else is known about the record, save that Jenskinson has been "thinking about pure electronic music again. Something very melodic, very aggressive".
And then there's this trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYDlsy8eJmc
ZULU WINTER DETAIL DEBUT ALBUM
Key To My Heart
And here's the video for 'We Should Be Swimming': www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCVGxH5fEo0
JOHN LYDON'S PIL TO SPEND TWO NIGHTS IN HEAVEN
'One Drop' will precede studio LP 'This Is PiL', somewhat of a momentous record in that it's the group's first in over 20 years. That's due out on 28 May, with the Heaven shows happening on 1 and 2 Apr.
Lydon addresses this missive to fans: "Because you deserve better, there is a PiL in Heaven. Get proper emotions".
Emotions, tickets... it's all the same.
BENGA PLOTS HEADLINE TOUR
And, as if anyone needed a reminder of Benga's triumphs to date, The 405 has drawn up this retrospective: thefourohfive.com/news/article/preview-benga-s-first-headline-tour
24 Feb: Brighton, Audio
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
LOVE SAVES THE DAY, Castle Park, Bristol, 3 Jun: With a focus on delivering the best of today's dance acts to the festival-going masses, Love Saves The Day will usher in its inaugural instance with able assistance from Annie Mac, Mr Scruff, Roots Manuva, Babyhead, Amirali, Disclosure, Foreign Beggars, Jessie Ware and TEED. www.lovesavestheday.org
STANDON CALLING, Standon, Hertfordshire, 3-5 Aug: Death In Vegas, Beardyman, Casiokids, Field Music, Fat Freddy's Drop and Dub Pistols are amongst those to have received the Standon summons this festival season, with many more acts yet to be announced. www.standon-calling.com
T IN THE PARK, Balado, Kinross-shire, Scotland, 6-8 Jul: Joint bill-toppers Snow Patrol and Kasabian, plus other acts including Tinie Tempah, David Guetta, Miike Snow, Chase & Status and Rizzle Kicks form but a fraction of those just added to T's sizeable 2012 bill. Previously announced bookings include Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Florence And The Machine, Two Door Cinema Club, The Maccabees and line-up supremos The Stone Roses. www.tinthepark.com
LIVE NATION SEES LOSSES DECLINE, CONFIRMS JAPANESE JV
But compared to losses of $228.4 million on revenues of $5.06 billion in 2010, the latest year end figures, revealed yesterday, were a definite improvement, and fitted in with previous comments by Live Nation chiefs, that after a very wobbly 2010 - especially in the US market - the company turned round its fortunes last year, even though trading conditions remained tough.
Looking ahead, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said 2012 was shaping up to be a good year, especially in the festivals sector, and that big tours by the likes of Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews will provide a boost. Rapino reckoned there should be a "low single digit" percentage increase in overall ticket sales this year, though overall ticket revenues would probably be more or less the same as in 2011.
Live Nation also yesterday confirmed its previously reported alliance with Japanese live firm Creativeman Productions to create Live Nation Japan. Rapino said: "We are very pleased to announce Live Nation's entry into Japan and to have such a credible partner as Creativeman, which has a long and proven track record of promoting major artists as well as developing highly successful festivals. Expanding our presence in Asia reflects our commitment to growing our business internationally in a region that is becoming increasingly important for touring artists".
EMI NASHVILLE CHIEF COULD SWITCH TO UNIVERSAL
Mike Dungan is currently boss of Capitol Records Nashville, which has been doing rather well in recent years, not least thanks to the output of two key artists, Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum. But, according to Billboard, various sources have said the exec will soon move to Universal Nashville to become President there, taking over from Luke Lewis, who will then move to a new position within the mega-major.
Neither EMI nor Universal has so far commented on the move. Of course if it does happen, and if Universal does then get regulator approval for its EMI deals, Dungan could find himself in charge of both country labels. As previously reported, the regulatory investigation into the Universal/EMI merger could take months, with the European Commission having only just received proposal papers from Universal chiefs, even though the US investigation began last year.
WARNER MAKES DIGITAL STRATEGY APPOINTMENTS IN EUROPE
Both will report to Warner's New York-based EVP Digital Strategy & Business Development Stephen Bryan who said: "Europe has been leading the development of several of the most important new growth areas in the industry's digital evolution. These promotions not only solidify our European digital business development team, but also ensure that the expertise we have in the region is informing our broader global strategy".
He added: "Leanne's wide-ranging experience, commercial acumen and impressive track record in negotiating transformational deals, all mean she is well-placed to help shape the next phase of our digital innovation. At the same time, having been instrumental to the development of many of our Scandinavian subscription partnerships and telco 'bundle' deals, Jacob will now be applying his invaluable knowledge and strategic insight to accelerating the growth of those models throughout Europe".
MUSICTANK STREAMING MUSIC DEBATE: MANY SUPPORTERS, SOME DETRACTORS, AND AN AWFUL LOT OF UNREALISED POTENTIAL
Universal Music's digital supremo Rob Wells has led the argument that there is no real evidence making music available via Spotify et al cannibalises download sales, while reps for the other majors speaking at MIDEM last month also spoke positively about the potential of subscription and streaming services, and confirmed their commitment in helping make such things work. But what about the indie sector, given some smaller independent labels have already withdrawn from the streaming services?
Well, while the indie community might not think as one on this issue, at MusicTank's Think Tank on the streaming sector last night, the indie label reps were just as supportive of the Spotifys of this world as their major label counterparts. "The download platforms are still the biggest part of digital of course", Beggars' Simon Wheeler observed. "But the streaming sector is now taking off, and two of our top five digital partners worldwide, in terms of revenue, fall into this domain".
He continued: "And perhaps more importantly, the marketshare for indies on subscription services is generally good, it's a model that benefits our catalogue. Sure, short term royalty payments are low - and you need to be getting millions of plays for it to really work - but remember, this is the gift that keeps on giving, it's not a one-off purchase, if fans love a record, then they will keep on playing it, and you will keep on earning. Take a band like The xx - that album's nearly three years down the line now - and it still performs really well on the subscription platforms, despite initial download sales being impressive also".
While the indie sector reps spoke positively of most of the streaming platforms, the artists and managers represented at MusicTank's Think Tank at the University Of Westminster were much more concerned about it all, perhaps unsurprising given the small but significant group of A-list artists who have held back some or all of their catalogue from Spotify et al, despite their labels being supportive of such platforms. Manager Paul Loasby, whose clients include Jools Holland and Pink Floyd, said that while he recognised the streaming platforms were great products, he just felt the labels had undersold music at large when negotiating their deals with the new digital platforms, and that artists simply weren't receiving the royalties their content deserved.
He was most critical of the ad-funded services, adding that, despite his concerns, Pink Floyd would return their catalogue to Spotify if they could opt to only be available to premium subscribers (which currently they cannot). The labels in the room admitted that the royalties to be got from ad-funded services - whether that be Spotify or YouTube - were negligible, though in Spotify's case they felt the freemium option was justified, as an up-sell platform that benefited everyone.
Kudos Records' Danny Ryan, who is convinced ad-funded platforms alone cannot work, is nevertheless a defender of Spotify's free option. "The free service sells the subscription service", he said. "And the conversion rates they are achieving are impressive, especially in Scandinavia. I think we all have to see that supporting free Spotify is a way of helping them sell subscriptions and that's where, in the long term, we can all enjoy the benefits".
Of course - as analyst Mark Mulligan had confirmed at the start of the Think Tank - the royalties different rights owners receive from the same streaming services can vary dramatically, because when it comes to recording rights most digital platforms negotiate separate deals with each label or distributor. And then, of course, what cut of any royalties the artist receives will depend on their contractual relationship with their label, and quite how that record company chooses to treat different digital revenues.
More transparency on royalties, and the option of licensing more digital platforms collectively with industry standard rates, was touched upon, with Simon Wheeler seeming most open to that latter approach, though only if all rights owners were willing to participate which he reckoned - almost certainly correctly, and with an eye to his major label counterpart down the table - wasn't going to happen anytime soon.
That said, even if everyone was paid the same standard rate via a collecting society and labels found a more transparent way of declaring and paying artists their share, you sense that Loasby's key concern still wouldn't be addressed - he's convinced his artist's music is worth more that the streaming platforms will (and arguably can) pay.
Actually, for artists and managers, the mainly as yet untapped potential of Spotify, YouTube etc to up-sell other music-related products is probably going to be of more interest long-term, as tickets, merchandise and premium content packages are always going to earn more for artists that a share of an already tiny royalty. YouTube is already dabbling in this area, and Spotify's rep at the MusicTank Think Tank touched on that potential too, albeit only briefly, with perhaps the streaming service's recent move into the in-platform app space providing a powerful outlet for such artist-led up-sell services.
Which fits in with the wider cautiously optimistic conclusion of the entire MusicTank event - streaming platforms are growing, the revenues so far are modest and are arguably uncertain long
You can read our interview with Kudos Records' Danny Ryan conducted just before the Think Tank debate here - www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/qa-danny-ryan-kudos-records/ - and download Mark Mulligan's presentation that kicked off the proceedings here: www.musictank.co.uk/MarkMulliganKeynote.pdf
GOOGLE MUSIC UNDER-PERFORMING
Google execs have reportedly told their label contacts that both customer sign up and revenue for the so far US-only Google Music service have been lower than expected, despite all the hype that surrounded the web firm's first big play in the download market.
That said, C-Net points out that Google is yet to fully utilise the marketing power its other platforms are capable of delivering for the fledging music service, plus execs at the web company reckon Google Music will truly take off once it moves into the device space, most likely via its acquisition of Motorola.
Nevertheless, C-Net's sources say, "the numbers are low enough for some in the music sector to be concerned". Some wonder if Google's timing was off, launching a download-based service just when streaming music is the flavour of the month (though, of course, download platforms still dominate in terms of market share), and whether more effort should have been made in integrating the new music offer with YouTube, which is arguably the biggest streaming music service on the web.
Others, though, note that the integration between Google's music service and its Android mobile operating system - a real plus - is yet to be fully realised, partly because the mobile networks and handset makers are all going through another phase of launching their own music offers. Once Google launches properly into the hardware market itself, presumably giving Google Music prime place on its devices, then that's when sizable uptake may be seen.
SPOTIFY ADDS GAPLESS LISTENING AND CROSS-FADING MADNESS
But anyway, no gaps and cross-fading, that's good news isn't it? Well it's cheered up Paul Oakenfold if nothing else. For reasons known to no one he's quoted on the Spotify blog post on the latest player upgrade as saying: "I use Spotify daily. Many of my own releases are mixed so I'm delighted to hear Spotify will now offer gapless playback and crossfade so my fans can experience the mixes on Spotify in the way they normally do in the clubs". Super.
The new player has already begun rolling out to users, though you can update immediately via the links at the bottom of Spotify's blog post about it here: www.spotify.com/uk/blog/archives/2012/02/23/spotify-now-with-gapless-playback-crossfade/
JOHN PEEL CENTRE WILL DOCUMENT DJ'S RECORD COLLECTION ONLINE
The plan is to scan in the artwork of the 25,000 vinyl LPs and 40,000 singles in Peel's record collection, and add the DJ's personal notes and other useful information to each record. Actual recordings won't likely be included for licensing reasons, though it's hoped music from the Peel Session archives will be also made available via the online project, which is backed by Peel's widow Sheila Ravenscroft and funded by the Arts Council. Phase one of the project will aim to put about 2500 albums into the online catalogue between May and October.
Commenting on the venture, John Peel Centre Director Tom Barker told the BBC: "What we're hoping to do is create an online interactive museum which answers the question 'what is in John Peel's record collection?' but also provides the audience with a visualisation of it. We hope that giving them access to a particular band, or their first album, or listening to his show, will inspire people to tell us their stories. This is the first step in the journey of making one of the most important archives in modern music history available completely".
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #99: ADELE V ITV
It was Adele's second award of the night, she having already picked up the Best Female Solo Artist prize earlier on (at which point James Corden called her "one successful tranny" - though no one seemed to notice). Damon Albarn had already messed up the schedule by delivering a very long and tedious acceptance speech for Blur's Outstanding Contribution To Music award, and with the band due to play three songs before the News At Ten began, Adele needed to be stopped. Or so decided ITV.
Corden sidled up to the singer in mid-flow, and apologised as he told her she needed to stop speaking. Adele in response threw her middle finger in the air. Afterwards, she was keen to stress that this gesture was directed at "the suits" at ITV, saying: "It wasn't to my fans. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, it was the suits that offended me".
For his part, James Corden told The Sun that he'd wanted no part in ushering her off stage, but was told he had to. Speaking to The Sun, he said: "I was so upset I didn't even watch Blur. I went straight backstage and spoke to her. I just wanted to say 'I'm so sorry, if I had it my way...' - but unfortunately you can't make those calls. It would have been a wonderful TV moment for Adele to have her moment in the sun and say what she had to say".
He continued: "Just after Adele said thank you, people were saying: 'You have to go on now. You have to do it now'. I said: 'How can we cut her off?' It was such a surreal moment, all you can hear is five people in your ear having an argument and there's one overriding voice saying: 'James you have to'. It's a shame but it's a live show and what can you do? It's one of those things".
Not everyone was convinced it was "just one of those things", though. With Albarn allowed to ramble on at length, and Adele booted off so that he could get back on stage again, Lily Allen tweeted: "That was a joke [but] I can't say I'm surprised. It was like the music industry's attitude to women played out as a metaphor".
ITV also received 170 complaints and issued a statement saying: "The BRITs is a live event. Unfortunately the programme was over-running and we had to move on. We would like to apologise to Adele for the interruption".
A BRITs spokesman also added: "We regret this happened and we send our deepest apologies to Adele that her big moment was cut short this evening due to the live show over-running. We don't want this to undermine her incredible achievement in winning our night's biggest award. It tops off what's been an incredible year for her".