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OFFICE SPACE AVAILABLE IN SHOREDITCH
FOCUS ON DIY CONFIRMED FOR GREAT ESCAPE CONVENTION
And new to the billing today is a series of sessions under the banner 'DIY In The Spotlight', specifically aimed at artists, managers and music entrepreneurs early on in their careers, and those musicians looking to self-release their own work for the first time. Bringing together key innovators from across the independent music community - plus artists, managers and marketers working on self-release campaigns - these sessions will be packed with practical advice, tricks of the trade, and inspiring stories.
Sessions will include a focus on what artists and their managers need to do logistically and legally when setting up their own music enterprise; insights on how new artists can build profile, and the importance of gigging, social media and networking in that process; a discussion about the sorts of team members and partners an artist needs to successfully go it alone and how to find and enthuse those people; and the inside track on what it's like to set up and run an independent record label, from the founders of four of the UK's best independents.
Already confirmed to take part in these sessions are Holy Roar's Alex Fitzpatrick, Chris TT, Good Lizard's David Riley, Create Spark's Debbie Ball, ACUMEN's Josh Little, Sony By Toad's Matthew Young, Memphis Industries' Ollie Jacob, Tru Thoughts' Robert Luis and Sentric Music's Simon Pursehouse.
There will also be the first ever Great Escape Digital Pitch Party, at which representatives from various providers of online promotional and sell-through platforms for artists will get ninety seconds to introduce their service, three minutes to take questions, and then an opportunity to socialise and network with delegates while consuming a drink of their choice. Full details of the platforms set to present will be published next month.
Commenting on the DIY In The Spotlight strand, CMU Publisher and TGE Convention Programmer Chris Cooke says this: "There has been a lot of talk about artists going the 'DIY' route in recent years, especially early on in their career as labels look to sign slightly more developed talent. But what does 'DIY' mean in this context? Not 'do it yourself' for starters, because being successful at this grass roots level means putting together a team, forming partnerships, and capitalising on tools and technologies out there that can help. This programme of sessions will throw the spotlight on everything new artists and their teams need to know, and offer plenty of valuable tips for more established music business professionals too".
The DIY In The Spotlight strand is being enabled by Arts Council England, who have confirmed they are supporting a number of activities at The Great Escape this year. Sally Abbott, Regional Director of Arts Council England, South East, told CMU: "Arts Council England are delighted to support The Great Escape festival in Brighton with £38,000 of Grants For The Arts funding".
She added: "The Great Escape festival attracts music fans, young people and industry specialists from all over the world to Brighton and we are delighted to support it in delivering local collaborations, education and development and to promote international diversity and collaboration between artists''.
The DIY In The Spotlight strand of The Great Escape joins the other previously announced In Conversation events in the convention programme, including Xfm's John Kennedy talking to Jon Hillcock about twenty years of championing new music on air, and The Great Festival Conversation, featuring Glastonbury's Michael Eavis, Bestival's Rob da Bank and three more inspirational British festival promoters.
Full details of many more sessions will be announced in the coming weeks, including those being staged by PRS For Music, who will once again present a whole strand of panels, keynotes and conversations on day one of the convention this May. Meanwhile basic details about over 75% of the convention programme is already online in the convention section at www.escapegreat.com.
All of which means it's probably time to get your delegates pass - and do so before 11 April and it will only cost you a mere £120. Again, www.escapegreat.com is where you need to go for that.
SONISPHERE UK IS CANCELLED
The news was broken yesterday by headliners Queen, who told their fans "it is with very heavy hearts and much regret that we announce the cancellation of Sonisphere Knebworth 2012".
Then this morning promoters Kilimanjaro confirmed the cancellation themselves, saying: "Putting the festival together in what is proving to be a very challenging year was more difficult than we anticipated and we have spent the last few months fighting hard to keep Sonisphere in the calendar. Unfortunately circumstances have dictated that we would be unable to run the festival to a standard that both the artists and Sonisphere's audience would rightly expect".
The continued: "We want to express our deepest regrets to the artists and to thank all the staff, suppliers and contractors who worked so hard with us to try and pull off what has proven to be an impossible task and we know how much they share in our disappointment. We also want to send a huge thanks to the Sonisphere fans who stuck by us and we are so sorry that we can't fulfil what we set out to do. Ticket holders will automatically receive a full refund direct from their ticket agents".
Rumours of the cancellation began to circulate in the agent community earlier this week, with some artist reps mightily pissed off that - having agreed to exclusivity terms with Sonisphere - their clients are now without UK festival dates for 2012.
Meanwhile discussion is rampant as to what caused the presumably poor ticket sales that would lead to a festival of this size being canned. The line up may have been a factor. Having quickly established itself as a fairly credible pan-European heavy rock festival since launching in 2009, I think most people were surprised when it was announced the Saturday headliners at the UK edition this year would be Brian May and Roger Taylor doing Queen songs with former 'Idol' contender Adam Lambert.
Kiss and The Darkness were also surprise bookings for a festival that last year boasted the 'big four of metal' on its bill. Some ridiculed the line up, others criticised it, but some did wonder whether - in an increasingly saturated market for heavy rock events, and with the big metal acts having toured pretty prolifically in recent years - perhaps a more eclectic roster was a good strategy. Though, assuming poor ticket sales did play their part in this week's decision to cancel, perhaps a more generic metal line up - which is what the other Sonisphere dates around Europe are offering this summer - would have been a safer bet.
There'll also likely be some chatter about what this says about the British festival market in 2012, especially given Kilimanjaro's reference to this being "a very challenging year". While the UK live sector held up, in the main, in 2010 when the American live industry had a bad year, some British promoters are admitting that this year is proving particularly tricky, perhaps as the economic turmoil that has prevailed for a few years now really starts to take its toll on the average music fan's bank account.
Kilimanjaro pulling Sonisphere UK follows Festival Republic's decision earlier this year to cancel The Big Chill, and in Ireland MCD's announcement that it was following Glastonbury's lead with its Oxegen event and sitting 2012 out. These are all events led by pretty big players in the festival market (though Kilimanjaro bosses did recently announce they had bought AEG Live out of their business), leading some to worry that some smaller independent events may also hit the wall this summer as slow ticket sales and tight profit margins collide.
Though optimists might hope that the removal of some bigger names from the festival calendar, plus Glastonbury taking its traditional year off, might mean extra punters for the more innovative independent events. Let's hope so.
SONY TRY TO GET TOTO'S DIGITAL ROYALTIES ACTION DISMISSED
As previously reported, many heritage artists with pre-iTunes record contracts are saying that download revenue should be treated as licensing income not record sales money. This is important, because most artists get a significantly bigger share of licensing money versus record sales cash. All four majors now face lawsuits on this issue, most citing the ruling in the recent legal dispute between Universal and Eminem collaborators FBT Productions, where the producers successfully argued the high 'licence' royalty should be paid on iTunes revenue. Universal insist that ruling doesn't set a precedent relevant to all pre-internet artist contracts, but most artists disagree.
Toto pulled Sony into the latest round of digital royalty squabbling last month, though interestingly at the exact same time that particular music major was close to settling a much earlier lawsuit on this issue, which had been led by The Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick. Unlike Universal, Sony has agreed that heritage artists should get a higher cut of download royalties, though only a few per cent more, rather than the figure paid out on traditional licensing deals (often 20-25% more than their record sales share).
Sony's proposed settlement, which includes an upfront compensation payment as well as the 3% increase in royalties moving forward, is currently with the courts for approval (because the Allman Bros lawsuit became a class action). If the judge approves the settlement, any affected artists will have to opt out of the deal, or it will be assumed they accept it.
It remains to be seen how most artists respond to the settlement. It's thought The Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick themselves have a separate more generous agreement with Sony, which might motivate other artists to also push for a higher pay out too, though some might reckon taking the 3% increase now is easier than going to the cost and hassle of pushing for more through the courts.
Either way, word is that Toto aren't especially impressed with the proposed class action settlement, and plan to proceed with their lawsuit - which is why Sony are on the offensive. In a response to the band's initial litigation, Sony says that it has a separate 2002 agreement with Toto which clarifies the situation on download revenues. They also take issue with some of the terms used in Toto's legal papers, a tactic that forced The Allman Brothers' first legal action on the digital royalties issue in 2006 to be dismissed.
It remains to be seen how the court responds to Sony's latest filing on the Toto dispute. Meanwhile, we await judgement on the major's class action settlement proposals, and perhaps most importantly, an up coming court hearing on what kind of settlement the aforementioned FBT Productions should get.
RAPIDSHARE CASE TO GO TO GERMAN SUPREME COURT
As previously reported, different German courts have ruled differently regards the obligations of RapidShare to police the movement of content over its servers. Cases have been brought by the gaming and publishing industries, and in the music space by collecting society GEMA.
A quick scan of the rulings so far suggests RapidShare wins more than it loses in these cases, though some courts have said - and this is the ruling that generally prevails - that the tech firm should do some filtering of copyright material to avoid liability for contributory infringement.
While RapidShare bosses actually reckon they already do enough to combat infringement in order to fulfil that duty, they are nevertheless planning to take their case to Germany's Supreme Court, to get full clarification of their obligations.
They also seem to reckon that, while they are willing to do some filtering of content to help stop the distribution of unlicensed files, some lower courts have overstated their duty to do so under law. Or something like that.
So, while the Americans try to extradite the MegaUpload possee to face criminal charges in the US, do also look out for a less dramatic and colourful but nevertheless pretty significant hearing in the German courts on what, for many content owners, is now the most important aspect of illegal file-sharing: the misuse of file-transfer platforms.
EARL SCRUGGS 1924-2012
Although perhaps best know for his work with guitarist Lester Flatt, including the 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' that appeared in the classic 'Bonnie And Clyde' movie, and 'The Ballad Of Jed Clampett', which was the theme song for sixties American sitcom 'The Beverly Hillbillies', Scruggs had a prolific career, which included developing a very distinct method for playing his banjo, and a role in shaping the "high, lonesome sound" of Bill Monroe, often called the father of bluegrass.
Scruggs, who had played the banjo since childhood, got his first break in Monroe's band in the mid 1940s, appearing on recordings and radio programmes as well as at live shows. But after just over two years with Monroe, he and Flatt left to form their own duo, leading to a famous two decade feud with their former band leader. The feud deepened when Scrugg and Flatt's own subsequent outfit, the Foggy Mountain Boys, started to become more successful that Monroe's own band.
As well as influencing the development of the bluegrass genre, Scrugg's playing was later also influential on the then emerging 1960s folk scene, and he and Flatt started to play the American folk-festival circuit, which subsequently led to collaborations with Bob Dylan and other folk-rockers.
Though Flatt was less keen on the new folk scene that was rapidly gaining popularity, and in which his bandmate was increasingly playing, and the duo went their separate ways as a result. Scruggs went on to launch a new outfit with his sons called the Earl Scruggs Revue, which saw him diversify again and experiment with a more rock sound.
He continued to perform throughout his life, releasing an album as recently as 2001 that included collaborations with the likes of Elton John, Dwight Yoakam, Sting and Melissa Etheridge. His death was confirmed by his son yesterday.
TIME OUT RELEASE BEST LONDON VENUE CHART
1. Union Chapel
Time Out's Tim Arthur says: "The results of our Time Out London poll reveal just how diverse the capital's music scene is. Union Chapel is one of the most beautiful settings to enjoy live music in London and has a totally unique atmosphere. It's great to see Cecil Sharp House scoring so highly too, riding on the wave of the folk music revival currently sweeping the country".
JACK WHITE RELEASES FIRST EVER 3RPM RECORD
Given free to fortunate guests at a recent party held at Third Man's Nashville base, it comprises all the singles released as part of the 'Blue Series', a set of one-off collaborations between White and the likes of Tom Jones, First Aid Kit, Laura Marling and, yes... Insane Clown Posse.
Third Man has explained the workings of the thing, saying: "The world's first 3 RPM record is a study in contradictions - it's cut at the slowest speed yet it plays faster than anything you've ever heard".
The label adds: "It's a compilation of 7-inch records but it's packaged like a 12-inch. But the 12 inch sleeve is made like our 7-inch sleeve (as it is one continues piece of paper folded in half and put into an acetate sleeve). A bit like a snake eating its own tail". No, I don't really know what that means either.
MAXIMO PARK ANNOUNCE ALBUM
Frontman Paul Smith speaks thus of the band's fourth long player, and how it relates to the state of society at large: "The nation is out of control and the record is about taking back control, and being a force for change in your own life. It can't speak for everybody but it has its eyes and ears all around us. Our songs are built on empathy. I would hope it's as vital a music as people would want to hear".
You can hear that rousing speech (or its basic jist, at least) set to music in the album's title track, which is available to listen to here.
And while you're at it, take this tracklist:
THE VIEW DETAIL NEW ALBUM, TOUR
The View are also about to tour quite a lot on the LP's promotional behalf, visiting the dates you're about to see listed:
9 Jun: Inverness, Rockness
SWIM DEEP DEBUT NEW VIDEO
I know all this because I've just seen the video for Swim Deep's debut single 'King City'. The band's lovenote to Warpaint bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg, it's set for delivery via Chess Club Records on 14 May.
You too can experience the video, an oddly compelling log of the lo-fi West Midlands tourist trail, here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATxs0N_DFTw
FOUR TET TO STOCK NOVA DURING IN-STORE PHONICA SET
Priority entry will be offered to those who sign up to the event's Facebook guestlist, as can be done here.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
EUROCULTURED STREET FESTIVAL, various venues, Manchester, 3-4 Jun: Staged across a multitude of car parks, tunnels, streets and subterranean spaces in Manchester City Centre, Eurocultured's excellent value Bank Holiday happening so far houses Death In Vegas, The Japanese Popstars, Caravan Palace, Birdy Nam Nam, The Correspondents and Jim Noir, with many more acts as yet unannounced. www.eurocultured.com
FULHAM FEST, various venues, Fulham, London, 27 Apr: Live West London landmark Under The Bridge celebrates its first birthday with a local contingent of grass roots bands, not least Carlito, Craft, The Lucky, Moscow Drive, Lex Lucian, Albany Down and The Eons, with further 'special' party guests still to be named. www.facebook.com/fulhamfest
LIVE FROM JODRELL BANK, Cheshire, 23-24 Jun: Staged within the cosmic sights of the iconic Lovell telescope, this moonage daydream of a live music fest is now poised to receive Graham Coxon, Baxter Dury and Little Barrie into the ranks of its Paul Weller-headlined Sunday line-up. Elbow top the roster on Saturday, with their supporting acts as yet among the many mysteries of modern science, ie still to be confirmed. www.livefromjodrellbank.com
SLOTTSFJELL, Tønsberg, Norway, 19-21 Jul: New Order, Wild Beasts, Janelle Monae and Team Me are all now poised to play amid the picturesque Norwegian fjords of this idyllic three-day festival, which counts Frank Turner, Gallows, Sodre Lerche, Wolfmother and Noah & The Whale among its existing bookings. www.slottsfjell.no
SONAR, Barcelona, Spain, 14-16 Jun: The Spanish version of this year's Sonar (as it also takes place in Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Capetown) invites the likes of New Order, Die Antwoord, James Murphy, TEED, and 2 Bears to its crowded roster, as also features Lana Del Rey, The Roots, Deadmau5, Friendly Fires, Hot Chip, Modeselektor, James Blake, Fatboy Slim, Richie Hawtin, Amon Tobin, Squarepusher, Nicolas Jaar, Metronomy and John Talabot. www.sonar.es/en/2012/
STANDON CALLING, Standon, Hertfordshire, 3-5 Aug: Standon summons acts including !!! and Willy Mason to its 2012 line-up, which prior to this notice hosted the top-billed Fat Freddy's Drop, Death in Vegas and Beardyman, plus Casiokids, Field Music, Stealing Sheep, Dub Pistols and King Charles. www.standon-calling.com
SUMMER SUNDAE WEEKENDER, De Montford Hall And Gardens, Leicester, 17-19 Aug: Patrick Wolf, Gold Panda, Ghostpoet, Stay+, Team Me and Dog Is Dead prove thrilling new editions to a highly anticipated Summer Sundae roster, joining Katy B, Adam Ant, Friends, Cashier No 9, Tune-Yards, Willy Mason and Billy Bragg, the last of whom will mark Woody Guthrie's historic 100th birthday with a celebratory set. www.summersundae.com
BEYOND OBLIVION FOUNDER BUYS DEFUNCT COMPANY'S ASSETS BACK
And who runs Gee Beyond? Well, none other than former Beyond Oblivion CEO Adam Kidron, blamed by many former execs at the digital non-start-up for running the company into the ground without it ever going live. So that's fun.
A US judge approved Gee Beyond's acquisition of Kidron's former company's assets on Monday. The new firm will pay a reported $4.2 million for the bits and pieces of IP and contracts and such like.
Though, according to Evolver FM, the new company won't get access to digital rights management technology at the heart of Beyond Oblivion's Boinc platform, because its maker, Intertrust, objected to the sale of its agreements with the defunct enterprise to a new company run by the same founder.
Quite what Gee Beyond plans to do with the remains of Boinc remains to be seen.
ABSOLUTE SIGN UP VAUGHAN FOR OLYMPICS SHOWS
Vaughan's initial job for the national station will be to front a series of programmes during the Olympics talking to all sorts of celebs about London's fortnight of sporty nonsense. Absolute, of course, is one of the broadcast partners for the entertainments due to take place in London's parks during the Games.
Confirming Vaughan was on board, Absolute's COO Clive Dickens told reporters: "Johnny is at the top of his game, and is without a doubt one of the best talents in radio. We are very excited about hearing him back on air, as I am sure will his many fans. He will further strengthen our stellar 'Faces For Radio' line-up".
While Vaughan himself added: "For two weeks this summer we're celebrating the two greatest things Great Britain has given the world - sport and music. I'm really looking forward to celebrating both".
BILLBOARD APPOINT NEW EDITOR
Interestingly - given recent rumours Billboard has been looking into making its newsstand title more consumer friendly as industry subscriptions slide - the new editor, Joe Levy, has a background very much in the consumer press, having held senior editorial posts at Maxim and Blender, and contributed to Rolling Stone, Village Voice and Spin.
Confirming the new appointment, Werde told reporters: "I couldn't be more excited to bring Joe Levy to Billboard. Joe is one of the best editors working today when it comes to music and broader entertainment. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture, a brilliant mind for incisive commentary and a deft hand with a story. As we work to ensure Billboard offers the best coverage across all of our platforms, this is a giant step for the magazine".
NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE A BRITISH BOY BAND TRYING TO APPEAL TO MIDDLE AMERICA
Seemingly record company types in America are keen to maintain the group's "clean cut image". Which I wasn't aware they had to start with - indeed, you could argue their US success is in part down to American teens being bored of the tedious clean-cutted-ness of the likes of the Bieber and the Jonas Brothers - though I suppose if you get into bed with Nickelodeon, that means not sharing your bed with anyone else (though, interestingly, the 1D boys have been playing down their commitments to the kids TV channel recently).
The Sun quote one of those sources as saying: "Four of them are single and they've been told to stay that way as it appeals to their American teen fans. Niall Horan is fighting off the women with his Irish accent and good looks so he's having to live like a monk. He's raging about it - all the lads are. They are all young lads and they have urges like anyone else their age. And the worst thing is the American girls are literally throwing themselves at them so there is so much temptation in their way".