Newsletter #62 May 2009
Great is overplaying it, but it was certainly a Good Escape. Not only did this year’s event appear to be more of a takeover of Brighton than ever, with local cabbies even getting into the spirit of recommending bands, but the festival finally overtook the Steve McQueen film in the Google rankings…First a short sample of the talks, which admittedly won’t do justice to the three days of programmed panels.
‘21st Century Business Models’, on the face of it, didn’t seem to move the debate much beyond the ‘no silver bullet’ mantra that has become accepted thinking. Then again, apart from PRS’ important change of online licensing rates (which was only announced this week), there’s been little – certainly out in the open – to suggest that a great deal has moved on this year. The three strikes tug of war rumbles on, with the UK Film Council, Federation Against Copyright Theft and Equity recently adding their weight to the rights holders. And while Digital Britain is living up to its name with a funky new twitter feed, we’re still three weeks away from the long-anticipated report, out on June 16th. On PRS, we hope their reduction of per stream minima in exchange for increasing headline rates will prove a boon to music streaming services.
Back to the panel, there was an interesting side discussion into the desire to enable music fans to experiment with their own creativity – mashing up music, submitting their own mixes and making them available to others – exactly the sort of fan involvement that Terry McBride and others have been advocating and experimenting with.
YouTube already allows for payments on mash ups that are uploaded, and some rights holders are now looking to develop more progressive licensing systems that could help legitimise mash-up culture. This could arguably pave the way for a new area of engagement with music; a slightly grandiose comparison cited by Lessig being the way that Kodak took photography beyond the clutches of the professionals and to the masses. How many music fans will make the shift from consumers to producers? Only time will tell.
Spotify founder Daniel Ek’s appearance at the Great Escape has already been reported at length, but somewhat less newsworthy was the considerable focus on live sessions, with panels on gigging in the USA, the infamous Form 696, PRS compliance and new business techniques from data-mining and fan participation to sponsorship and artist promoter deals.
Given Barfly are organising, this was only to be expected, and while the panels lacked the clout of the ILMC, they were nevertheless well executed and informative.
One of the more interesting of the live panels was a discussion of the rationale for a network for promoters, tentatively called we:Live. Collectivisation and community has a long tradition within the music business and independent promoters are as in need of a platform to share experiences as record labels, managers and festival promoters ever were.
With support in areas such as legal and licensing already being requested by an engaged audience, it looks like we:Live certainly has a role to play.
But the charm of the Great Escape isn’t the conference but the gigs. So in a leap from tradition, here’s a look at some of the bands that played.
An emotional and absorbing set by singer songwriter Ian Archer eased us into proceedings, which was just as well, as we were soon to hit the mega-mile queues that TGE has become known for, as we waited to get into the first of the hot ticket gigs – the Maccabees. Queueing is always going to be the curse of any multiple venue event – be it TGE, Camden Crawl or Swn, but to be fair the priority policy for delegates was much better enforced this year. That’s little use though if you’re going as a punter or with non-delegate friends.
And so it was we found ourselves in the Ocean Rooms, where delays played to our favour with the Filthy Dukes demonstrating they’re worth at least a bit of the hype by way of their charisma alone, while Kitsune’s Crystal Fighters playing a truly blistering set – certainly the first time this reviewer has ever seen wooden posts being used as drums.
Techno aficionados meanwhile would have relished the secret gig by the slightly scary and refreshingly energetic duo that is Kap Bambino, a real treat if grunge techno is your sort of thing, just don’t let frontwoman Caroline Martial catch your eye.
Our gig of the weekend was without a doubt the mighty Metric, playing at the Coaltion, an absurdly small venue for a band of this calibre. With only Drowned in Sound’s Sean Adams recommending the gig and barely a mention elsewhere in the programme, it seemed to go largely unnoticed by delegates, some of whom were jaded by an apparently underwhelming debut and hadn’t yet caught on to their new album, Fantasies. Coalition was nevertheless heaving for an absolute gem of a gig, with frontwoman Emily Haines demanding love and receiving sackfuls. They played most of their new album, which is nothing short of excellent.
Seeing a band of this quality playing such a such a small venue is where The Great Escape’s charm truly lies, and reminded me of seeing an unknown Florence and the Machine bring the house down at a secret gig two years ago.
The slight letdown, if only because of the hyperbole, was Japanese synth combo 80kidz. Receiving a considerable write up in the programme for opening for the likes of Hot Chip in Japan, and known on the blogosphere for some great remixes, they were just a little formulaic.
Next up Little Boots and you guessed it, another colossal wait, meaning we got in with ‘Mathematics’ belting out and only about four other songs to go. ‘Mathematics’ is a great piece of synth pop, though a couple of songs she played afterwards sounded like might just be the wrong side of the cheese-pop divide.
Her last track, ‘Stuck on Repeat’, was definitely on the right side of the equation though – a melodic chugging belter, which is surely one of the best synth pop tracks of the last couple of years. Our only grumble is a slight lack of charisma – letting songs peter out towards the end rather than driving them home. Perhaps she should take a lesson or two from Metric’s Emily Haines, or indeed Kap Bambino, but that aside it was definitely thumbs up.
While it isn’t a must attend on conference alone, the very reasonable £150 delegate price makes this a great networking, panel and gigging all-rounder. And with super early bird delegate passes already available for just £80, it seems like the Great Escape aims to keep it that way.
Editorial by Sam Shemtob
OUT & ABOUT: MusicTank events
Please remember all MusicTank events MUST be booked and paid for in advance! Become a member of MusicTank for just £30 per year and enjoy privileged discounts on all MusicTank events…
JUN 03: Real Time Artist Mentoring Session With Terry McBride
MusicTank is pleased to be associated with this event that forms part of the conference programme for Music Matters, Hong Kong – the destination for another artist road-mapping session with MusicTank’s Meet The Millennials author, Terry McBride.
Continuing the spirit of his philosphy, this brainstorming session takes a look outside traditional marketing norms and will focus on road-mapping the emotional branding and monetisation of an artist, whose identity will be unveiled on stage, on the day.
The session will be chaired by Ruuben van den Heuvel, Head of APAC, Digital Music Retail, Nokia.
MusicTank subscribers wishing to attend are eligible for a discount on the delegate pass. 10% discount (US$675 for the IFPI-Members and US$765 for the non-Members) by contacting Amy Laing.
More… mailto:email@example.com or +852 2167 8040
JUN 04: Media Composers – New Rules Of Engagement?
This think tank will compare traditional and evolving commissioning models for composers and producers of music for advertising and television. From production music libraries to media content producers and publishers, this session will examine what’s changing (and why) and consider the impact on music creators in this highly competitive sector.
SPEAKERS: Keynote – Stephen Navin – Chief Executive, Music Publishers Association
Panellists – Phil Bird (Ricall); Jonathan Goldstein (PCAM); Amelia Hartley (Endemol); Richard Kirstein (Leap Music); Chris Smith – (BASCA);
Chairman – Keith Harris – MusicTank/Keith Harris Music Ltd /PPL
DIARY – Date & Time: 04 Jun ’09 | 18.30 – 21.00hrs; Venue: Basement Bar, PRS for Music, Copyright House, Berners Street, London;
Cost: £20 MusicTank Members | £25 Trade Body | £30 Full Price – price includes drinks
Follow the debate on Twitter: #MCdebate
Composers for television, advertisements and music production libraries face a quandary as new business models swing in favour of their commissioners. New companies such as production music library Audio Network have controversially dropped synch fees with the promise of greater PRS returns for its composers. With synch fees typically comprising a significant part of writers’ income, this amounts to a considerable change to the standard music library model that has also foisted downward commercial pressure on rival libraries’ rates.
The impact of this model on the commissioning process itself gives cause for concern, particularly in TV production. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some producers apply the Audio Network pricing model to potential composers pitching for commissions in a ‘take-it-or-lose-it’ scenario that again results in potentially significantly less income for the writer.
Meanwhile, some advertising agencies have taken on the role of music publisher, keen to secure all rights in the music for maximum flexibility of use and argue they are better placed than traditional publishers to report transmission times and are therefore able to ensure quicker and more accurate returns to the writers.
Arguments abound that traditional models are outmoded, inflexible and fail to take account of new and multitudinous distribution channels, with advocates of newer models maintaining that such developments are driven by the realities of the market.
Ultimately, what lies at the heart of this session is this: is there a growing disconnect between content owners – media production companies, ad agencies and brands – and music content creators that undermines the very art of writing music for media?
Full Details & Booking: http://www.musictank.co.uk/events/media-composers-new-rules-of-engagement
INDUSTRY DIARY: Other events
JUN 02: MMF Open Meeting
The Music Managers Forum are holding an open meeting on June 2nd. All members and non members of the Music Managers Forum are welcome. The venue and timings will be released shortly.
If you would like to attend please email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
JUN 02-04: MUSIC MATTERS, HONG KONG – PLUG INTO ASIA
Launched in 2006, Music Matters (http://www.musicmatters.asia) is conducted in the heart of the world’s most dynamic region and is Asia’s annual conference dedicated to the business of music. Music Matters is a 3-day conference with fantastic networking events including Asian music showcases, parties, lunches and sector-themed breakfasts. Music Matters is a great opportunity to meet with executives from the Asian leading entertainment, media and technology companies. Last years event was attended by over 750 decision-makers from the entertainment industry representing 300 companies from over 25 countries.
The programme is bursting with internationally renowned speakers, featuring a keynote address from Kei Ishizaka(CEO & Chairman, Universal Music Japan, Chairman of the RIAJ) and a Japan-focused session led by Sony Publishing Japan President Ken Ohtake (produced exclusively in association with the Music Publishers Association of Japan). Music Matters 2009 is leading the way in showcasing the latest insights from Asia Pacific’s largest music market. Other topics will include China’s social networking phenomenon, mobile entertainment and Bollywood’s global ambitions and advertising.
Music Matters exclusive discounts on Virgin Atlantic flights from London to Hong Kong and special delegate room rates at the Grand Hyatt are available.
JUN 15 & 16: MPA/MMF Professional Development Programme in Music Publishing
The Programme has been designed to deliver detailed insight into all aspects of music publishing, providing an opportunity for those with a basic grounding in the industry to further their knowledge and understanding of specific areas. Experts in the field place all information within the context of the latest industry-wide developments. All modules are stand-alone.
Module 5: Collecting Societies & Global Royalty Streams
- Collecting societies in all key UK catalogue territories;
- Roles, functions and income streams: comparisons and differentials;
- Documentation, processes & politics;
- Royalty tracking, auditing & attributable income;
- Deductions, distribution and collection.
DIARY – Date & Time: 15 & 16 Jun, 18.30-20.30 | Venue: PRS for Music Boardroom, Copyright House, Berners St, London, W1
COST – £75 per module (£55 for members of AIM, APRS, BACS, BPI, IAMA and MPG).
JUN 17: Where Music Really Makes Its Money – Monetising The Act
With income from sales of records declining, bands and their managers have to either find additional ways of making money or focus on areas hitherto they may not have prioritised. Online networking and user generated content sites such as MySpace and YouTube have enabled many musicians and bands to share work with others and promote their music, but how can they turn their virtual popularity into real cash?
This event will discuss ways of building a brand for musicians and bands, what role gigs can play to sell music and merchandise to fans, and how you can use your IP to maximise income. Speakers incl. Richard Antwi (Levels Entertainment); Anthony Hamer-Hodges (Manager); others tbc.
Chairman: Kwaku, founder of the Black Music Congress (BMC).
DIARY – Date & Time: 17.06.09 at 18:30| Venue: Podium Lecture Theatre, London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle, London, SE1 6SB
COST – Free, registration essential.
JUN 29 – JUL 01: Musexpo Europe
This event will once again gather together senior music, media and technology executives from the around the world, and follows the successful launch of MUSEXPO Europe in London autumn 2008.
Taking as its theme “A Time For Change & Innovation,” the daytime conference will this year place a particular emphasis on the people and companies who are successfully finding new ways of doing business at a time of unprecedented change for the entertainment industry. Meanwhile, by night delegates will once again be able to see some of the hottest emerging artists from the UK and abroad perform live at the historic 100 Club and Borderline venues.
Registration also includes complimentary breakfast, lunch and evening drinks receptions.
Speakers incl: Guy Moot (EMI Music Publishing), Jason Flom (Lava/UMG), Steve Schnur (EA Games), Korda Marshall (Infectious) and many more.
DIARY – Date & Time: 29th June – 1st July | Venue: Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch, London W1
COST – Special offer to MusicTank newsletter subscribers: £296 (a 15% saving on the full price of £349). Interested? To take advantage of this special rate, email mailto:email@example.com and quote ‘musictank’.
JUL 07 – 08: MPA Induction Course
The MPA Induction Course acts as an essential overview of the music publishing business, its organisations and their roles. The Course has been slightly expanded for 2009 to incorporate a new session on printed music. Otherwise, it’s the same menu of expert advice and information that has proved so invaluable for newcomers to the business in previous years.
DIARY – Date & Time: Tues 7 July, 09.30 – 17.00pm & Wed 8 July, 09.30 – 13.00 | Venue: MPA Boardroom, British Music House, Berners St, London W1
COST – £130.00 + VAT (£149.50) per deleate for MPA members and MCPS / PRS staff | £210.00 + VAT (£241.50) all others. Tickets incl. lunch on day one and refreshments throughout.
MUSICTANK LOUNGE: New to site
The Licensing Act 2003 Report
Published on 14.05.09, this is the sixth report published since the inception of the Act. Despite the Act being deemed an overall success, the report expresses concerns that the Act may be “hampering live music performances especially by young musicians, who often get their first break through performing live at small venues such as pubs”. It also calls for the scrapping of the controversial Metropolitan Police’s Promotion and Event Assesment Form, Form 696.
DCMS Select Committee Chairman, John Whittingdale, commented: “The licensing requirements are still too bureaucratic and costly, particularly for non-commercial groups such as sports clubs, not-for-profit establishments and organisers of occasional events. Our report calls on the government to relax restrictions in this area, which in some cases are unnecessarily draconian, and in others simply absurd.”
Impacts And Opportunities: Reducing The Carbon Emissions Of CD Packaging
Julie’s Bicycle has brought together the UK music industry in an unprecedented show of strength and commitment to undertake joint initiatives that will significantly reduce our C02 emissions. CD packaging is one of the music industry’s largest sources of direct GHG emissions, accounting for a third of recording and publishing, and at least 10% of the total emissions, from the UK music market. This report collects the combined research, expertise, wisdom and goodwill gathered over noine months and presents us as an industry – but also as a collection of intelligent, concerned and responsible human beings – with a 95% reduction challenge for CD packaging.
MUSICTANK POSTS & TWITTERS
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JOE POX: Britain's Got Talent
It’s the final of Britain’s Got Talent this week and thus we find ourselves at the end of the pier and at the end of our tethers.
Once again, music features heavily, betraying the fact that Simon Cowell is not willing to budge too far from his own “comfort zone”. There are a load of interchangeable dance acts called things like Flawless and Lukewarm (I made that last one up). There are the token ‘hilarious’ singers like DJ Talent and that man who claimed he could impersonate a saxophone but actually sounded like a worm playing a harmonica. Then there was the plainly idiotic such as The Barrow Boys (three farmers with wheelbarrows who do formation dancing and stunts – with wheelbarrows (!)) and Floral Highnotes (mediocre soprano sings and her mate puts flowers in a vase and that is, literally, it).
These are all added for light relief and not even they seriously think they are in with a chance. Which brings us to the ‘serious contenders’ who are being flagged up as being capable of “going all the way”. There is the pizza guy from Wales whose selling point is that “he’s a bit nervous but gets over it when he sings” (AKA ‘Gareth Gates Syndrome’). And then there is ‘YouTube sensation’ Susan Boyle – the plucky (and hairy) spinster who is “giving it her all” and “living her dream” even though she’s not conventionally attractive. How novel. An ‘ugly’ singer. Zzzzzzz. The sad fact remains that BGT has become the place where the singers not good enough for X Factor go. Susan Boyle would not have made it beyond boot camp on X Factor, but in a general variety show – and one that doesn’t know if it’s supposed to be unearthing talent or sneering up its sleeve – she is hailed as a “star”.
Have our expectations really hit rock bottom? More importantly, why do we hate ourselves so much that we have let this happen to us?
That's all for this issue - 'til next time...
If you have any queries regarding any of our events or activities, please call us on +44 (0) 20 8357 7317, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily condoned or shared by MusicTank. MusicTank is a non-profit organisation owned and operated by University of Westminster. University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. Reg Number: 977818, England. Registered Office: 309 Regent Street, London, W1. MusicTank is based at University of Westminster, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3TP
Sections Below:OUT & ABOUT: MusicTank events
INDUSTRY DIARY: Other events
MUSICTANK LOUNGE: New to site
JOE POX: Britain's Got Talent
That's all for this issue - 'til next time...
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