AS IFPI RELEASES ITS 'INVESTING IN MUSIC' REPORT, WHAT ROLE DO RECORD LABELS PLAY IN 2012?
OK, so sometimes it might feel like the major record companies are all run by aging luddites in ill-fitting suits who type with two fingers.
And we all know how labels used to promise every new signing the world, lavishing them in stretched limos, private jets and copious amounts of coke, despite knowing full well most artists failed, and all that lavishness simply meant that even moderately successful bands would never ever recoup.
And we all know a few artists who were led to believe by their labels that everything was going swimmingly, only to be dropped without warning, because an anonymous figure on high ordered some random roster culling so that his spreadsheet would have fewer red cells in it at his monthly shareholders meeting.
And we all know the artist who made a brilliant record at a label's expense, only for it to be released to just seven record shops worldwide with zero marketing, because the one A&R guy who "got the band" was headhunted by a rival label, but the current record company wouldn't let the band follow him, despite deleting the album from their active catalogue six weeks after release.
And we all know the older artists whose records are still shifting OK units, but whose quarterly royalties statement still has a minus figure at its base, because of loads of cost lines they don't understand, and no one can explain, possibly because of legitimate expenses incurred by the label, possibly because the label's business affairs team are secretly incentivised to pay out as little as possible to talent, but either way the artist can't afford the services of the kind of lawyer or accountant who could work it all out, because of the aforementioned minus figure at the bottom of their royalties report.
Phew, that was a long sentence, wasn't it? What was I saying again?
Oh yes, record labels are brilliant. No, really. Fucking brilliant.
Well, that was the message delivered by the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry yesterday which, as the global trade body for record companies, probably shouldn't be relied on too much as an unbiased source.
But the organisation's 'Investing In Music' report still contains plenty of interesting facts and figures, and you don't need to rely on the IFPI to tell you this basic fact, because I'll tell you it myself: new artists will always need investment to succeed, and while the emerging pre-order/fan funding model remains interesting, in the vast majority of cases for new talent, it is a record company which will provide the funding that unlocks the revenue potential of an artist and their songs, recordings, live performance and fan relationship.
After all, if the record label is redundant in the internet age, as so many people have said in the last ten years, why are artists still constantly signing to labels? And why do 71% of unsigned bands surveyed by the UK's Unsigned Guide still want a record deal? And why do 80% of unsigned bands surveyed by the German record industry say the same? (And the experience of the CMU Insights team running workshops for new bands backs up those stats).
So, for all their sins, record labels remain the key investor in new music talent, for the time being at least. And while labels are generally more risk adverse than before, and may be doing fewer deals overall, the record industry at large continues to pump a lot of money into developing and marketing talent.
According to the IFPI report, the global record industry at large spends $2.7 billion on "A&R" each year, which includes artist advances, the costs of developing and recording new albums, and accompanying videos and tour support. And an additional $1.8 billion is then spent marketing those new releases.
The labels body adds that overall A&R spending by the global record industry in 2011 is only slightly down from 2008, (when it was $2.8 billion), despite the trade value of recorded music worldwide declining 16% in that time. This means that the percentage of revenues reinvested by record labels into A&R activity has increased, from 15% to 16%, in that time.
And if A&R spend is equated to the research and development undertaken by other sectors, that means the record industry spends substantially more on R&D than most other industries, with even the pharmaceutical and biotech sector only investing 15.3% of its overall turnover into research.
Elsewhere, the report reckons that the cost of breaking a new artist in a major market in 2012 can run up to $1.4 million (of course that depends greatly on the kind of the artist and label); it notes that despite reports of the increased importance of live, the live sector has not become a prolific investor in developing and launching new talent; and also confirms that brand partnerships and sync income have become ever more important revenue streams for record companies.
Of course none of this is to say that record labels are perfect, but it's definitely not true that record companies are becoming irrelevant in the internet age. Some of the things said at the top of this article are true of some record companies some of the time. The trick, I suppose, is doing the right deal with the right label and, as artists and managers are more aware now than ever before, that doesn't necessarily mean the deal with the most cash attached to it. Labels in 2013 are open to (and indeed many are insisting on) new ways of dealing with talent, which is bother liberating and frightening.
Though perhaps the internet's greatest gift to new artists isn't social media, D2C, fan funding and all that jazz, but access to knowledge. So much information and advice now sits online, and it's so much easier to network with other artists, to learn from their experiences, successes and failures. Of course a label will hype up a deal to an artist it is desperate to sign, and of course no record company can truly assure any act success or even constant support, but even new artists and managers without expensive lawyers and business advisors can now make more informed decisions before "doing the deal". And, I suppose, if it does all go wrong, if you can get 200,000 Twitter followers at the record label's expense, there's always the Amanda Palmer option down the line.
IFPI chief Frances Moore: "'Investing In Music' highlights a simple truth - that behind the highly visible world of artists who touch people's lives there is a less visible industry of enormous diversity, creativity and economic value. This report shows the role record companies, major and independent, play around the world in discovering, nurturing and promoting artistic talent".
Alison Wenham, chief of the Association Of Independent Music, in her guise as chair of the World Independents Network, which partnered on the report: "Today, the relationship between the artists performing music and the investors supporting them has subtly changed and is continuing to evolve. The traditional model of significant advances and marketing support from larger record companies to artists remains widely in place, but there is now a greater emphasis on partnership, shared skills and shared revenues".
BRAGG HITS OUT AT MUSIC EDUCATION PLANS, URGES RADIO TO DO MORE TO SUPPORT NEW TALENT
Warning that the government's current meddling with the GCSE-level examination system, and its ambition to launch an English baccalaureate, would result in the arts being downgraded in the classroom, Bragg told his audience, reports The Guardian: "At a time of cuts to the education budget, the pressure on schools to dump subjects like music and drama in favour of those that offer high marks in performances tables will only grow. [There's an] insistence that knowledge is more important than creativity. [But] as Albert Einstein said, imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while imagination embraces the whole world".
And a move away from teaching creative subjects in secondary schools wouldn't only be unfair to those children who are creatively gifted, it would have wider social implications, Bragg reckons. He continued: "Evidence shows that pupils from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to go on to higher education. Young people do better in English and maths subjects if they study the arts. They are more easily employable, more likely to vote, to volunteer and to get a degree. You might add to that they will be more likely to get into the charts too".
And children from higher-income families will increasingly dominate the creative industries, Bragg added, because private schools will continue to pump money into arts education. "A decent education in the arts will only be available to those able to pay for it", he said. "Now, I realise that private education is something that no one really wants to talk about in the UK. Politicians would rather lay the blame for inequality at the door of the underfunded state system than discuss the excessive influence of the privately educated. But the fact is that, for the first time since the 1960s, our society is dominated by the 10% of the population who go to private school".
"The prime minister went to Eton", he continued, "the archbishop of Canterbury went to Eton; the mayor of London went to Eton: even the man they tell me is the new Billy Bragg - Frank Turner - went to Eton. Now you may be thinking here he goes - middle-aged Clash fan railing against the state of modern music. I don't have anything against those who were sent to private schools by their parents - Peel himself went to Shrewsbury public school and Joe Strummer went to Westminster. And my only real criterion when it comes to music is whether or not a song moves me. This issue here is not one of social class, but of access".
The radio industry itself could help ensure more access to creativity for all, Bragg said, by taking more risks in the music it plays, and operating more proactively at a local level, so that new talent with limited means would see options open to them other than Simon Cowell's telly talent show franchises. Jake Bugg, he noted, benefited from early support from BBC Radio Nottingham. Bugg's local commercial station had also been an early champion via its "unsigned" initiative, but that programme was axed when owner Global rebranded local station Trent FM as another outpost for national brand Capital FM.
He concluded: "I can't believe that there aren't plenty of articulate teenagers out there with an ear for a good tune and a chip on their shoulder who have something to say. Given the crucial role that radio played in bringing Jake Bugg to the attention of the music industry, and the good work that is being done to introduce new talent to the airwaves, why aren't there more kids from his kind of background in the charts?"
Listen to the lecture in full here.
JACKSONS NOT BEHIND AEG EMAILS LEAK, SAYS JUDGE
As previously reported, the Jacksons want AEG held liable for the death of Michael Jackson as employers of Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of causing the late king of pop's death through negligent treatment. AEG contends that Jackson himself hired and managed the medic.
In September a batch of emails between AEG execs were leaked to the LA Times. They were embarrassing because private statements about Jackson's physical and mental well-being while preparations for 'This Is It' were underway differed from public statements at the time.
In legal terms, the emails were arguably more damaging to AEG's since settled lawsuit against 'This Is It' insurer Lloyds Of London, which was refusing to pay out on the cancelled Jackson shows over allegations the live firm misrepresented the singer's health when taking out its insurance.
But either way, AEG accused the Jackson family, which had confidential access to the leaked emails as part of prep for its legal dispute with the live firm, of being behind the LA Times exposé. The live firm asked the judge hearing its case to ban the emails from any court hearings relating to the two parties' dispute, and to fine the Jackson family.
But legal reps for the Jacksons denied that the family were behind the leaks, arguing that they had no interest in making public emails that portrayed Michael in a negative light, nor which damaged their own legal fight with Lloyds.
And last week LA Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos agreed with the Jackson family, ruling that AEG had failed to prove that the Jacksons were behind the link, or to demonstrate why the emails being made public would have a detrimental impact on any court hearings in the Jacksons v AEG case.
That case will now continue as planned.
Anyway, the uncensored winners list:
Best Pop Video: MIA - Bad Girls
Best Pop Video (International): Lana Del Rey - Born To Die
Best Pop Video (Budget): Rent Boys - Shoot The Shot
Best Art Direction & Design: Justice - New Lands
The Innovation Award: ALB - Golden Chains
Best Producer: Lee Groombridge
NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED FOR EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AWARDS
And the nominees are...
Best Major Festival: Exit Festival (Serbia), Heineken Open'er Festival (Poland), Hurricane & Southside (Germany), Optimus Alive (Portugal), Rock Werchter (Belgium), Roskilde Festival (Denmark), Sziget (Hungary), Tomorrowland (Belgium), Wacken Open Air (Germany), Woodstock Festival (Poland),
Best Medium-Sized Festival: Area4 Festival (Germany), Electric Picnic Music & Arts Festival (Ireland), Heineken Balaton Sound (Hungary), Lokerse Feesten (Belgium), Melt! Festival (Germany), Off Festival (Poland), Pohoda Festival (Slovakia), Rock-A-Field (Luxembourg), Smukfest (Denmark), Ursynalia - Warsaw Student Festival (Poland).
Best Small Festival: Absolutely Free Festival (Belgium), Appletree Garden (Germany), Bialystok Pozytywne Wibracje Festival (Poland), Grape Festival (Slovakia), Mini-Rock-Festival (Germany), Plai (Romania), Tauron New Music Festival (Poland), Vestrock (The Netherlands), We Love Green (France), Winterthurer Musikfestwochen (Switzerland).
Best New Festival: Electro Magnetic (Germany), Dimensions Festival (Croatia), Hadra Trance Festival Vi (France), Liss Ard Music Festival (Ireland), Mair1 Festival (Germany), Pestivals (Latvia), Ronquieres Festival (Belgium), Vestrock Junior (The Netherlands), Warriors Dance Festival (Serbia), Xo Live (The Netherlands).
Best Indoor Festival: Blues In Hell (Norway), Dia De La Musica (Spain), Eurosonic Noorderslag (The Netherlands), I Love Techno (Belgium), Le Printemps De Bourges (France), Reeperbahn Festival (Germany), Sensation (Denmark), Sensation (Netherlands), The Rolling Stone Weekender (Germany), Waves Vienna (Austria).
Best European Festival Line-Up: Melt! Festival (Germany), Optimus Alive (Portugal), Primavera (Spain), Pukkelpop (Belgium), Rock Am Ring / Rock Im Park (Germany), Rock Werchter (Belgium), Roskilde Festival (Denmark), Southside / Hurricane (Germany), Tomorrowland (Belgium), Way Out West (Sweden).
Anthem Of The Year: Die Toten Hosen - Tage Wie Dieser, Florence & The Machine - Shake It Out, Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks, Jack White - Seven Nation Army, Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers, M83 - Midnight City, Mumford & Sons - Little Lion Man, Of Monsters And Men - Little Talks, The Black Keys - Lonely Boy, Will And The People - Lion In The Morning Sun.
Headliner Of The Year: Bon Iver, Florence & The Machine, Foo Fighters, Jack White, Mumford & Sons, Pearl Jam, The Black Keys, The Cure, The Killers, The Stones Roses.
Newcomer Of The Year: Alabama Shakes, Alt J, Anna Calvi, Azealia Banks, Dope D.O.D, Dry The River, Ewert And The Two Dragons, Jessie Ware, Kraftklub, Of Monsters And Men.
Artists' Favourite Festival: Openair St Gallen (Switzerland), Optimus Alive (Portugal), Oya Festivalen (Norway), Parades De Coura (Portugal), Primavera Sound (Spain), Pukkelpop (Belgium), Rock Werchter (Belgium), Way Out West (Sweden), Roskilde (Denmark), Woodstock (Poland).
Promoter Of The Year: Everything Is New In Lisbon (Portugal), ID & T (The Nederlands), Live Nation Belgium, Luger (Sweden), Pukkelpop (Belgium).
Green Operations Award: Boom Festival (Portugal), Maifeld Derby (Germany), Open Air St Gallen (Switzerland), Way Out West (Sweden), We Love Green (France).
More at eu.festivalawards.com
BAD RELIGION NAME NEW LP
Guitarist and Epitaph boss Brett Gurewitz has this to say about it: "We went back to our original mission statement of short concise bursts of melody and thought. The intent was to record stripped down punk songs without sacrificing any conceptual density".
Hear a featured track from the album now, the succinctly-titled 'Fuck You', if you so choose.
back to top
LOSERVILLE TO CLOSE EARLY
The West End run of 'Loserville', the previously reported musical co-written by James Bourne and based on his post-Busted band Son Of Dork's one album, 'Welcome To Loserville', is to close two months early. The good news is, despite this, you still have until January to go and see it, and also it may be transferring abroad, so it's not going to die. Look after it foreigners, apparently we can't be trusted with it over here in the UK.
Producers Teresa and Craig Beech told What's On Stage: "We are incredibly proud of 'Loserville'. The creative team worked tirelessly to deliver an imaginative show, full of heart, which is fun for the whole family ... There has been quite a bit of interest expressed in the show from abroad, and we are currently in negotiations for our first overseas production, the first of, what we hope are, many to come".
The show will continue at the Garrick Theatre until 5 Jan, by which time I hope every single CMU reader will have gone to see it. Seriously, how can 'We Will Rock You' run for over a decade and this only get a few months? Apart from the whole Queen songs being part of the national consciousness thus negating any need to worry about anything like writing a decent show thing.
JAGGER COMMENTS OF STONES TICKET PRICING
Yeah, I'm struggling to work out the exact logic of that, but maybe a quote from Mick will clarify. "I don't think there should be a secondary ticket market", he began. "I don't think it should be legal".
Now, you might say that's a strange thing to say in response to the question, "There's been controversy about your ticket pricing for the London and New Jersey shows. What's your take on that?", but that's not all Jagger said, so let's just allow him to continue, shall we?
"To my mind, there has to be a better way of doing it, but we're living, really, with the way the system functions. We can't, in four shows, change the whole ticketing system".
Yes Mick, but why are the cheapest tickets £95? "You might say, 'The tickets are too expensive' - well, it's a very expensive show to put on, just to do four shows, because normally you do a hundred shows and you'd have the same expenses".
Ah, so it's a matter of costs, I see. Why didn't you just say that in the first place instead of banging on about secondary ticketing? Glad we cleared it all up. Oh, what's that, you're not finished?
"So, yes, it's expensive. But most of the tickets go for a higher price than we've sold them for, so you can see the market is there. We don't participate in the profit. If a ticket costs 250 quid, let's imagine, and goes for 1000 quid, I just want to point out that we don't get that difference".
Oh right, I see. What Mick's saying is that if people are willing to pay over the odds for tickets to a show, then they might as well do so at a point where the band actually earn some of that extra cash for themselves, rather than it going to a tout. There's a logic to that. Of course, it's a logic that only really works if you assume that the majority of tickets are resold for a profit after their primary sale, and that Rolling Stones fans are all have limitless amounts of money to spend on entertainment.
Basically what he's saying is that if you're on a moderate to low income, he doesn't want to see you at his show. Not unless you're so desperate to see The Rolling Stones play that you've saved up especially to be able to do so. And, as we've noted before, it's that sort of attitude to ticket prices by top level artists which ensures that people go to fewer live music events and ultimately damages the industry as a whole. Well done, Mick.
GIRLS ALOUD, ONE DIRECTION, PINK TO RING IN JINGLE BELL BALL
Details and tickets - as are on sale now - available via this Capital page.
IL DIVO, KATHERINE JENKINS TO CO-HEADLINE ARENA SHOWS
Tickets are purchasable from 16 Nov at 9.30 am sharp.
4 Apr: Nottingham, Capital FM Arena
EGYPTIAN HIP HOP TOURING ANON
1 Mar: Glasgow, Nice N Sleazy's
Acting as an apt soundtrack to the above, have a Lone remix of EHH's new single 'Yoro Diallo'.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
LE GUESS WHO, Utrecht, Holland, 29 Nov - 2 Dec: Matthew Dear, Foxygen, Dignan Porch, Bersarin Quartett, Allah-Las, AmenRa, Lapalux, Cate le Bon, Fidlar, Mala In Cuba, Dam Mantle, Team Ghost, Chain and the Gang, Old Apparatus, Palmbomen, Night Beds, Chris Cohen, Sinkane, Oathbreaker, Erin Lang & The Foundlings, Land Observations, St. Paul Psycho, Man From The South, Birdt. www.leguesswho.nl
HOT CHIP, ST ETIENNE, NIKI & THE DOVE TO CONTRIBUTE TO NEW VINYL SINGLES CLUB
Each single will also come with extra content, including explanations of the songs by the artists involved, plus mixtapes, video and other online additions. In total, the set will cost £55, including delivery and a box to keep it all in, with subscriptions being handled by Pledge Music.
One of the singles will also feature a track by a new artist selected via a competition. Judged by Rob da Bank, the winner will also receive a day in Beggars Group's in-house studio to record their track.
More information on all of this at www.demandvinyl.com
MEGA V2 TO HAVE NEW ZEALAND DOMAIN
As previously reported, Dotcom, founder of MegaUpload, plans to launch new service Mega in January, a year after the US authorities shut down his original file and video sharing platform amidst allegations of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement. The US is currently trying to extradite Dotcom from New Zealand to face the charges against him and his company in the American courts.
Keen to assure that neither his servers or domains are located in the US, where the American authorities could turn any new Mega operation off, Dotcom has said he will host his new venture in various non-US territories. The original plan was to use the domain me.ga instead of mega.com, but the political overseer of the .ga domain in Gabon overruled that plan (under American influence, says Dotcom).
As previously reported, the American authorities have said that they believe that, by launching the new Mega, Dotcom could be in breach of his bail conditions as he awaits an extradition hearing in the New Zealand courts.
ONE DIRECTION HIT 100 MILLION SPOTIFY STREAMS, LAUNCH APP
Via the new 1D app, available on Spotify in every territory where the streaming gizmo currently operates, you can not only listen to new LP 'Take Me Home' in its entirety, but you can also access playlists compiled by each of the 1D boys - Harry, Niall, Zayn, Truman, Wallace and Miles - plus share your own playlists with the group, who will pick their favourites.
So, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky you.
MINISTRY ALLIES WITH OMNIFONE TO PUT HED KANDI ON SONY STREAMING PLATFORM
Ministry Of Sound's Tom Bulwer told CMU: "Our partnership with Sony and Omnifone allows us to reach a new truly global audience for Hed Kandi's uplifting catalogue. Sony's Music Unlimited service also enables us to introduce the Hed Kandi experience to our fans via a vast range of connected devices and mobile apps from wherever they are around the word. The service's premium model also enables us to deliver our music in a way that is economically viable".
FRANK OCEAN SCORES GOSSIP GIRL
The new episode, titled 'Monstrous Ball', features a number of tracks from Ocean's official debut 'Channel Orange', not least the aptly-titled 'Super Rich Kids'. The commission represents the first time Ocean's music has appeared on a TV programme, and also the first time one artist has wholly scored a single episode of 'Gossip Girl'. Wow.
MCFLY DON'T OFFLOAD SHIT SONGS ONTO ONE DIRECTION, OK?
Fletcher recently spoke to Metro about writing pop songs for other acts, and in particular One Direction, and observed: "It's hard when you're writing for someone else. You obviously always want to do your best work, but sometimes you write and have a song idea and you're like, 'Oh, it's so good I want to keep it for us'".
Fletcher's bandmate Danny Jones, also present at the interview, and who worked with Fletcher penning songs for 1D, then chipped in: "You sent [them] that slightly shitter one, didn't ya?" A jokey aside that led to some claiming that Fletcher kept his good songs for his own band, while selling on the misfires to others.
But, says Fletcher via Twitter, that just ain't true. "So, the stuff in the press today about us giving One Direction our 'shit' songs is obviously completely false" he tweeted. "What Danny said was obviously a joke. We would never, NEVER, give anyone 'shit' songs and as I clearly say in the interview 'You obviously always want to do your best work'. In fact all three songs I've written for 1D are some of my favourites I've EVER written".
He added: "How would that [providing other acts with poorer songs] ever be good for me as a songwriter? And the most important point of all is... I've never written a shit song. Anyway, if you want to hear the song we did for 1D then it's 'I Would', track nine [of new 1D album 'Take Me Home']. Hope you like it".
Well, you heard the man, let's all go and listen right away.