The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s “Report Into Live Music” is a “wake-up call for everyone who wants to safeguard live music,” says UK Music CEO Michael Dugher.
Representatives of the British music industry have thrown their support behind a “landmark” report into the country’s live music scene and described it as a “wake-up call” for the sector.
Key findings in the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee’s “Report Into Live Music,” published Tuesday (Mar. 19), include a warning to the public not to buy or sell tickets through secondary ticketing site Viagogo, as well as evidence of discrimination against rap and hip-hop acts because of “unfounded” fears over licensing and safety.
“While the image of music being a glamorous industry might be true for a minority of artists, the experiences of those working at the grassroots level tell a different story entirely,” says the report, which details instances of local authorities shutting down gigs by British rappers at short notice.
Rapper ShaoDow told the committee — made up of a cross-party selection of members of Parliament (MPs) — that he had a London venue pull his show on the same day he was due to perform. “I was booked for a performance in a club and called them ahead of time to say, “I am on my way”, and they said, “Oh, by the way, we were just listening to your music. You make Hip Hop”. I said, “Yes”, and he said, “Oh, we cannot do that here, we will lose our licence,” the report quotes the artist saying.
In 2017, London’s Metropolitan Police abolished its controversial “Form 696 Risk Assessment,” which required promoters in the British capital to provide the name, address, date of birth and phone number for each artist performing. Critics argued that the practice was unfairly targeting grime, garage, hip-hop and R&B artists, but despite Form 696 being scrapped two years ago “institutionalised racism” continued to exist against certain artists, said Jane Beese, head of music at London venue the Roundhouse.
Urban music “is not being supported by local councils, by licensees,” Beese told the committee, warning that prejudice against grime or hip-hop acts is “hindering that scene rather than allowing it to flourish.”
In response, the committee called upon the government to develop guidance for licensing authorities, the police and music venues on how to manage risks that ensures “urban music acts are not unfairly targeted.”
In the world of secondary ticketing, Viagogo was, once again, subject to strong criticism with the report’s authors slamming the Switzerland-based company as an untrustworthy operator with a long “history of resisting compliance, court orders and parliamentary scrutiny, and flouting consumer law.”
Referencing Viagogo’s repeated failure to comply with British laws around selling tickets, the committee urged the Competition and Markets Authority — which is currently preparing legal action against Viagogo — to act “promptly and decisively” to bring the site in line with regulations. Until that happens, MPs advised music fans not to buy or sell tickets on the platform.
The report also recommends giving secondary ticket buyers a quicker and easier process to resolve disputes and questions the effectiveness of legislation passed last year banning the use of bots to harvest tickets. It additionally criticizes Google for placing Viagogo at the top of its search results for concert tickets.
“It is time for companies such as Google to take more responsibility and act against such advertising, or else be considered to be knowingly making money out of fraudulent selling,” notes the comprehensive 55-page report.
Other recommendations include the establishment of a task force to support grassroots talent, following a raft of small venue closures across the U.K.
Between 2007 and 2016, rising costs and declining revenues saw 35 percent of music venues in the U.K. close their doors, according to Music Venue Trust figures, with London’s Marquee, 12 Bar Club and Madame Jojos among the most high-profile losses.
Examining the reasons behind those closures, the report says the government had “not acted promptly enough to stem the tide” and said that without enough small and grassroots venues for artists to hone their craft the U.K. music scene will suffer. Preventative measures cited include a review of business tax rates for music venues and an increase in tax relief schemes for venues that stage live music.
The report also found that jobs in the U.K. live sector may be under threat after Britain leaves the European Union and that Brexit could potentially restrict British musicians’ ability to tour.
Another area the committee looked into was the dominance of big global companies like Live Nation in the live music industry. Citing research by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which states Live Nation controls 20 percent of U.K. festivals over 5,000-capacity, the report highlights the competitive advantage that it has over smaller promoters or venues when booking artists.
“The complaint we hear privately from a growing number of AIF members is about the collateral damage caused by the imposition of hugely restrictive exclusivity deals,” says a written submission by AIF. “By their nature, these deals are anti-competitive, restraining when and where even the smallest artist can perform and significantly diminishing the pool of talent that non-Live Nation promoters can draw upon.”
Meanwhile, Tom Gray, singer with British band Gomez, said the fact that the major labels also own the major publishing companies had a detrimental impact on musicians’ negotiating power when striking deals.
In response to those concerns, the committee asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to consider conducting a review of the music business “to assess whether competition in the market is working effectively for both consumers and those working in the industry.”
AIF CEO Paul Reed said he hoped to see the committee’s recommendation acted upon swiftly by the CMA and backed the MPs’ findings.
UK Music CEO Michael Dugher also welcomed what he called a “landmark” report and backed the committee’s recommendations to tackle discrimination against urban acts, provide more support for grassroots venues and take tougher measures against Viagogo.
“They have really listened to the live music industry, which contributes around £1 billion a year to the U.K. economy, and their report is a real wake-up call for everyone who wants to safeguard live music,” said Dugher.
“We urgently need help to nurture the music industry’s talent pipeline if we are to continue producing world-leading superstars like Adele and Ed Sheeran,” he added.
Those sentiments were echoed by FanFair Alliance’s Adam Webb, who called for the government to take immediate action against Viagogo.
“Despite the huge consumer harm caused by Viagogo’s practices, and despite the best efforts of the Competition & Markets Authority and other regulators, the site has continued to operate in clear disregard of the law,” he stated, arguing for Viagogo to be temporarily blocked in the U.K. and for Google to cut off its advertising while the CMA pursues its current legal action.
Responding to the DCMS Committee report, Viagogo said it provides “an invaluable service to U.K. consumers by giving them access to events in the U.K. and all over the world.”
A spokesperson for the company went on to say that only 1 percent of its ticket sales per year result in any issue for its customers and in those cases, “the overwhelming majority of cases are due to the unfair and potentially illegal restrictions” from event organizers.
Janelle Monáe Leads The Revolution In Stirring ‘Turntables’ Video
YouTube “We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.” That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic…
“We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.”
That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic refrain with clear gospel influences. It’s Monáe’s take on a contemporary protest song, a call for a political sea change, in the vein of, say, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
Courtesy of Atlantic RecordsAnd on Tuesday (September), Monáe released a moving music video — or, as she calls it, an emotion picture — that solidified that message. The visual opens and closes with the singer walking along the beach in a beige trench coat and military cap. At times, she can be seen singing into a retro microphone before an American flag; in others, she moves through staged breakfast scenes, with a family reading through newspaper headlines as they mouth her lyrics. The visual flashes through archival and contemporary footage depicting inspirational figures past and present: Where one scene shows the model and activist Jillian Mercado at a photo shoot, another depicts a conversation with lifelong activist Angela Davis.
What rings true without is a hopeful cry for change and for equality, and a recognition of those who have been leading that fight for decades. Monáe wrote “Turntables” for the new Amazon Studios documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, that shines a light on voter suppression, particularly through the lens of Stacey Abrams’s failed bid for the Georgia governorship. “Right now, I am focused on turning the election in our favor,” Monáe told Entertainment Weekly, “and I hope this song can inspire those who are on the ground doing the work.”
Joe Keery’s Reinvention, Mxmtoon’s Carly Rae Jepsen Collab, And More Songs We Love
Getty Images/April Blum The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new? Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by…
Getty Images/April Blum
The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new?
Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by genre and can include anything — it’s a snapshot of what’s on our minds and what sounds good. We’ll keep it fresh with the latest music, but expect a few oldies (but goodies) every once in a while, too. Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
St. Vincent ft. Yoshiki: “New York”
St. Vincent, the intuitive musical goddess that she is, must have sensed our collective need for another quarantine ballad. Enter “New York [Feat. Yoshiki],” a classical arrangement of the standout single from 2017’s Masseduction. An added string section courtesy of Yoshiki, a Japanese multi-instrumentalist, beautifully complements the song’s original piano instrumentals. What more can I say? “New York isn’t New York / Without you, love” just hits different in the middle of a pandemic. —Sam Manzella
Djo: “Keep Your Head Up”
Last year, Joe Keery (of Stranger Things fame) released a glossy solo album under the moniker Djo. It was titled Twenty Twenty, and its sparkling arrangements ended up being quite far removed from the overall vibe of 2020 the year, but who could fault him for his optimism? Keery has also long been a contributing member of Chicago psych band Post Animal, but Djo is simply Joe — and latest “Keep Your Head Up” feels like several Joes ripping open a vortex in the funk-time continuum. This is a groove, peppered with buzzy synths and icy falsetto and an honest-to-god sax part. It’s akin to Todd Terje doing Tame Impala, a lightheaded cocktail rush that feels both clubby and bedroom ambitious. Positively galactic. —Patrick Hosken
Mxmtoon ft. Carly Rae Jepsen: “OK On Your Own”
When Mxmtoon’s Maia said she recorded “OK On Your Own” for the girls and the gays, she wasn’t kidding. The mellow bedroom-pop bop soundtracks a journey of self-reflection after a breakup, complete with the soft ukulele instrumentals that put the 19-year-old singer-songwriter on the map. Is it revelatory? No, but with pop icon Carly Rae Jepsen lending her sugary-sweet vocals to the second verse, it doesn’t have to be. Now I’m just waiting for “Party for Two.” —Sam Manzella
Video Age: “Aerostar”
Pleasure Line, the third album from emerging indie pop quartet Video Age, delivers perfectly escapist ’80s new wave vibes for when you need to get outta 2020 for just a moment. “Aerostar” is its punchy center, a hip-twisting, shoulder-shuffling groove that delivers quirky robot dance commands (“Slide to the left, now! Shimmy to the right!”) over hoppin’ funk synths and a kickin’ drum machine. It all harkens to a simpler time, one where dance floors were actually a real thing. Oh, the ’80s! —Terron Moore
Ruel: “As Long As You Care”
About a year ago, Australian middle-part heartthrob Ruel told MTV News that for him, “songwriting is exaggerating to an extent.” On his latest, the technicolor, soulful “As Long As You Care,” his exaggeration is so seamless, you’d be forgiven for believing the 17-year-old is actually a time traveler. The neo-soul groove he rides propels everything upward, even as the sound cheekily looks backward. “As Long As You Care” has one amazing hook, coupled with sonic candy that makes his upcoming third EP, Bright Lights, Red Eyes (out October 23) one to watch. —Patrick Hosken
Alycia Bella ft. Boogie: “Cue the Sun”
Something magical happens two-and-a-half minutes into “Cue the Sun,” the exploratory new collab between striking R&B voice Alycia Bella and rapper Boogie. After piping in the aural equivalent of stage smoke via jazzy piano and gorgeous vocalizations — “It feel like being lost in the right direction” — Bella’s song enters a more sparkly realm for Boogie’s recitations. By the end, you’re lighter, like your mind’s been cleared of all the cobwebs. Cue the sun. —Patrick Hosken
Carly Rae Jepsen
Who Are You Most Excited to See Perform at the 2020 ACM Awards? Vote!
The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will welcome back Taylor Swift and present a new collaboration from the evening’s host Keith Urban and P!nk on Wednesday, Sept. 16. But which one of the highly anticipated performances are you counting down the hours to? Nine-time ACM Award winner Swift, whose latest studio album Folklore has topped the Billboard 200 for six…
The 55th Academy of Country Music Awards will welcome back Taylor Swift and present a new collaboration from the evening’s host Keith Urban and P!nk on Wednesday, Sept. 16. But which one of the highly anticipated performances are you counting down the hours to?
Nine-time ACM Award winner Swift, whose latest studio album Folklore has topped the Billboard 200 for six weeks, will come back for the first time in seven years to perform the country-leaning fan-favorite track “Betty.” Meanwhile, 15-time ACM Award winner Urban and Pink will come together for the world television premiere of their brand new collaboration “One Too Many,” which is from the country star’s forthcoming album, The Speed of Now, Part 1.
Billboard broke the news Monday (Sept. 14) that all five nominees for entertainer of the year — Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett — will take the stage to perform a medley of their greatest hits. Additionally, ACM’s freshly crowned new male and female artist of the year winners Riley Green and Tenille Townes, respectively, will also perform.
For the first time in the awards show’s history, the ACMs will be broadcast live from Nashville, with socially distanced performances from the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe.
The 55th ACM Awards will air live Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. ET (delayed for the West Coast) on CBS and CBS All Access. (The event is produced by dick clark productions, which shares a parent company with Billboard.)
So which of the performances can’t you wait to see? Vote below!