PledgeMusic to be wound up amid inquiry calls
Crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic is to be liquidated, as UK Music urges government action to prevent a repeat of the “scandal” that has left hundreds of artists out of pocket.
As reported in the London Gazette and first spotted by Music Technology Policy, a Royal Courts of Justice judge today (31 July) granted an order to wind up the beleaguered company, which has failed to pay artists that raised funds through its platform. The artist-to-fan marketplace suspended operations months ago following financial difficulties.
Following the order, UK Music deputy chief executive Tom Kiehl has called on the government to take action to prevent such a situation occurring again. Kiehl states the winding up of PledgeMusic is “entirely unsatisfactory” for fans and artists.
“Many musicians across the UK relied on crowdfunding website PledgeMusic to deliver payments from patrons, to pay for album recordings and other costs,” writes Kiehl in a letter to business minister Kelly Tolhurst.
“I would like to ask for a meeting to consider further possible government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again”
Following on from UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher’s suggestion in May, Kiehl once again urges a referral to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, “to investigate what went wrong”.
Kiehl also asks the minster to consider taking up the case with the Financial Conduct Authority, a body responsible for regulating crowdfunding activities, to investigate any possible regulatory breaches.
“Furthermore, I would like to ask for a meeting with you to consider further possible government interventions to ensure the issues which have arisen from PledgeMusic can never happen again,” concludes Kiehl.
Industry organisations including Music Managers’ Forum (MMF), PRS Foundation, the Musicians’ Union and the Association of Independent Musicians’ (AIM) last month set up a survey to assess the damage PledgeMusic’s demise caused for artists.
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Superfly makes moves in experiential space
New York production company Superfly has delved further into the immersive experience side of live entertainment, following the buy-out of its stake in Bonnaroo by Live Nation.
Superfly, the company that co-founded Tennessee-based Bonnaroo in 2002, last week announced the launch of The Seinfeld Experience, a year-long, immersive activation based on hit TV show Seinfeld.
“We’re thrilled to bring The Seinfeld Experience to life in an innovative way, combining nostalgia with immersive entertainment,” says Superfly co-founder Jonathan Mayers.
The production company also recently acquired a majority stake in sensory experience specialist Listen. Founded in 2012, Listen has collaborated with artists including Childish Gambino and Brian Eno, as well as carrying out experiential marketing for brands such as Microsoft, Paypal and Virgin.
“We’re thrilled to bring the Seinfeld Experience to life in an innovative way, combining nostalgia with immersive entertainment”
Superfly has created activations for San Francisco comedy festival Clusterfest, which it co-produces with television channel Comedy Central, since its inauguration in 2017. Installations include replications of sets from TV programmes The Office, Atlanta and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Superfly’s festival portfolio includes Bonnaroo, which it produced for a final time this year in a sell-out edition, and San Francisco’s Outside Lands. The company was the original production partner of Woodstock 50, pulling out after the festival lost its financial backing.
The Seinfeld Experience will open in autumn. Tickets will go on sale in the coming months.
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Fuji Rock to move dates after successful 2019
Smash Corp.’s Fuji Rock, Japan’s largest outdoor music festival, will next year move to August from its traditional last-weekend-of-July dates, to accomodate the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympic games (24 July–9 August 2020).
The 2019 edition of Fuji Rock – with Creativeman’s Summer Sonic one of Japan’s two marquee rock festivals – took place from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 July, welcoming a total of 130,000 people (5,000 more than last year) for its 23rd event, held at the Naeba ski resort in Yuzawa, in central Japan.
Despite more challenging conditions – for the second year in a row, programming was disrupted by a tropical storm (dubbed, with typical Japanese understatement, ‘Typhoon #6’) – Fuji Rock “finished all three days with cooperation and understanding from the audience”, according to organisers.
Some 15,000 people attended Thursday night’s free opening party, with capacity crowds of 40,000 on Friday and Saturday, and 35,000 on Sunday. Headliners were the Cure, the Chemical Brothers and Sia, with other performers including Thom Yorke, James Blake, Janelle Monáe and Martin Garrix.
Fuji Rock 2020 will be held on Friday 21, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 August, after the Olympics. Summer Sonic 2020, which would have taken place in Tokyo and Osaka, has been cancelled altogether.
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Anne-Marie, promoter at odds over Korea festival cancellation
British singer Anne-Marie put on a free concert for fans in South Korea, after the festival stage she was scheduled to perform on was dismissed as “structurally unsafe”.
The singer was due to perform on Sunday 28 July at Holiday Land festival in the Korean city of Incheon. James Blake, HER and Vince Staples also featured on the two-day festival line-up.
In a social media post, Anne-Marie apologised to fans, stating she was “not allowed” to perform due to safety issues. The singer stressed that the decision to cancel was not hers.
However, a spokesperson for Holiday Land organiser Fake Virgin tells IQ that the decision to cancel was made by the artists.
“The reason that Anne-Marie and Daniel Caesar [the artist billed to perform immediately before] cancelled their performance was [due to] ‘safety issues with the stage'”, says the spokesperson. “The issue did not affect any other artists during the whole event.”
앤마리 종이비행기 이벤트ㅠㅠㅠ pic.twitter.com/ch8q8tQmzW
— Ya (@oriariana) July 28, 2019
Anne-Marie later announced she would be performing at a local hotel instead, telling fans to “be there, it’s free” and stating that “no-one will stop the show”.
The concert, which took place at the Rubik Lounge at the Paradise City hotel, was streamed live for those who were unable to attend.
The festival had been affected by adverse weather conditions. The Holiday Land event page was updated earlier on Sunday, stating that rainfall was ”below the cancellation standard”.
The statement announced the cancellation of a set by DJ Light, the first act scheduled on the festival’s Holiday Square stage. No mention was made to other sets, or to the Sunset stage, on which Anne-Marie was due to appear.
Fake Virgin say an investigation into the situation “between the production company and artists” is ongoing.
Anne-Marie was nominated for four awards at the 2019 Brit Awards in London, including for best British female solo artist and British album of the year.
Snarky Puppy to record debut Royal Albert Hall show
Snarky Puppy will record their debut Royal Albert Hall show on 14 November, the three-time Grammy Award winners becoming the latest in a long line of acts to cut a live album at the historic London venue.
The album will be produced by live recording specialist Live Here Now – formerly the live arm of Abbey Road Studios – whose previous Royal Albert Hall releases include Depeche Mode, Bring Me the Horizon, Nick Cave, Damon Albarn and Deep Purple’s Jon Lord. The full multi-channel recording will be mixed live in an outside broadcast truck, with limited-edition double CD available to fans as they leave the venue.
A wider range of formats are available for pre-order from Live Here Now’s online shop, including the double CD along with deluxe triple coloured vinyl, A3 art print and an A5 hardback photobook.
“We’re delighted to announce what will inevitably become another enduring Live at the Royal Albert Hall recording”
Lucy Noble, the 5,544-cap. venue’s artist director, comments: “We’re delighted to announce what will inevitably become another enduring Live at the Royal Albert Hall recording, marking the hall debut of one of the most innovative jazz groups of recent decades, the untouchable Snarky Puppy.”
The Royal Albert Hall, which once again picked up the venue award at the 25th Arthur Awards in March, has proven a popular venue for live recordings throughout its nearly 150-year history. Films of note include Peter Whitehead’s recording of Led Zeppelin in 1970 (eventually released on the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD) and Adele’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2011), while live albums have included the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, the Who, the Killers, Suede and the Cream reunion.
The Royal Albert Hall had its busiest year to date in 2018, hosting a record 401 shows in its main auditorium alone and cementing its status as the “world’s busiest venue”.
The Green Arena: How Spark went completely waste-free
Choose life. Choose a plant (preferably the waste product of agriculture); upcycle it into something we need (food and drink packaging); make our customers happy by serving their needs and delighting them with our attention to detail (quality products, ease of use); make it impossible for customers to stuff it up (take back control – sorry, you Brits!); make sure it gets composted (I said, make sure!); then send it back to the farms (or kiwi fruit orchards).
While deposit-scheme reusable cups and drink-bottle culture is on the rise in greenfield sites, in arenas we operate a different model in which hard objects are simply unacceptable. This has given rise to the proliferation of nasty plastic products, including polystyrene and laminated cartons, at indoor events, as well as the usual PET cups, polystyrene and soft plastic wrapping around foodstuffs.
Anyone remember Wall-E? Prophetic, huh?! The waste mountain is beginning to smother the Earth, and we need to do something. Now.
The good news is, the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle actually works. Here at Spark Arena we have been composting EVERYTHING since last August: that’s a million PLA cups, lids and straws, plus countless thousands of bagasse/bamboo/paper food cartons, cutlery, napkins, etc.
Cross-contamination was a huge problem, so rather than try to solve it, we completely removed it. No matter how hard we tried, however beautiful and well-labelled the bins, however persuasive our social media campaigns, the fact is that punters are distracted, unobservant, disinterested and ultimately just there for the gig. Meaning they will always do the mindless thing: either dropping stuff on the floor or in the totally wrong bin. We have stood there and watched them do it: chips in the paper recycling, ice cream in the plastics…
So rather than add more bins, more sorting, we flipped the problem on its head and went with just the one bin. For everything. And with just one final destination: the Earth.
Taking a systems approach rather than a piecemeal one to procurement, catering, cleaning and waste management, we have created a waste-free environment for all concerts at Spark Arena. System design means taking full responsibility for inventory, how it is handled and where it ends up, and it can only be done if the venue is in control and has absolute clarity.
Taking a systems approach … we have created a waste-free environment for all concerts at Spark Arena
Getting it right is called the circular economy, which is an oft-misused phrase. Circular means plant back to plant. Cradle to cradle, not cradle to grave. The system design took into account:
- Deliberate or unwitting use of packaging made from problematic materials
- Cross-contamination of waste types by staff and customers
- Lack of transparency and control in the procure-use-collect-dispose chain
- An understanding of our local commercial composting facilities
We have to stop kidding ourselves that recycling is good, when it is only very slightly less bad. According to National Geographic, only 9% of plastics globally are actually recycled. The rest ends up in landfill, gets burned or ends up in the ocean. While the figures may be better where you are, the reality is truly appalling. We can’t allow ourselves to be satisfied with a product that calls itself “recyclable”. And don’t even get me started on the disingenuous use of the word “biodegradable”…
Our local compost facility regard us as a trusted supplier, having monitored our compostable waste and found it to be below the contamination threshold they can accept. The resulting compost is top-grade stuff, and in high demand. There is always the chance of contamination, so we do have some landfill bins for rogue items that get into the building, but we have managed to source ice creams and crisps in compostable packets now, too, and we have bulk-bought sweet items and repackage them in-house, so we have barely anything to send to landfill these days.
We even have straws. They are not the devil. They go in the compost.
We rolled out this system following my master’s of design in 2016, and my next step will be to use an action research methodology to test its efficacy in different scenarios and locations as part of my future PhD study into sustainability design for music events.
If you want to be part of the study or would like more details, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BookMyShow expands esports arm as share sale looms
India’s leading ticketing platform BookMyShow is making moves in the esports sector, as the company’s valuation looks set to surpass $1 billion.
The Indian ticketing company has recently made hires within its new esports category.
BookMyShow’s foray into the fast-growing esports market began in December, when the company provided ticketing for the Mumbai edition of international esports festival Dream Hack.
The ticketer joins a long list of music industry businesses to dip their toes into the esports sector.
Companies that have invested in, or partnered with, major esports competitions and teams in recent years include DEAG, AEG, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), TEG in Australia and Madison Square Garden Company (MSG).
The ticketer joins a long list of music industry businesses to dip their toes into the esports sector
The development comes as BookMyShow prepares to sell a stake which will see its valuation surpass the US$1 billion mark.
The 10 to 12% stake is being eyed up by investors including private equity firm General Atlantic, investment bank Goldman Sachs and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek, which owns a stake in CAA.
BookMyShow has raised over $220m in funding since 2007, most recently receiving $100m in a round led by CAA majority owner, TPG.
The ticketing giant has established a presence outside India in recent months, signing a five-year partnership with Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena in May.
BookMyShow is also looking to move into cashless event payments, following an April investment in payment technology firm AtomX.
Legendary jazz promoter Walter Homburger passes
Walter Homburger, the German-born promoter whose International Artists Concert Agency (IACA) brought jazz and classical music greats including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Luciano Pavarotti to Canada, has died aged 95.
Born in Karlsruhe in 1924, Homburger, a Jew, emigrated to Canada in 1940 and became a citizen (British subject) two years later. After a spell working on a pig farm in Aurora, Ontario, Homburger made his first foray into concert promotion, which, according to FYIMusicNews’s Nick Krewen, was “a disaster”.
“He borrowed money to guarantee soprano Lotte Lehman a $3,750 haul for three German leider recitals at Toronto’s Eaton Auditorium in 1947, and lost $1k,” Krewen writes. “But his backers felt he had a future and covered his deficit. Their trust was rewarded when three months later Homburger recouped his losses with a sell-out by Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz.”
In addition to working as a promoter, Homburger was a successful manager, guiding Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould to global success.
In 1957, Gould became the first Western artist to play the USSR after the second world war. Homburger told Gould biographer Colin Eatock: “I felt it would give Glenn some good publicity. […] But it was the McCarthy era, and I was very concerned about Glenn not being able to get into the United States after visiting Russia. So I had some correspondence with the Canadian government – with [future PM] Lester Pearson, who was at that time our external affairs minister.
“This is a huge loss for … all those fortunate enough to have worked with him”
“The government was behind the idea, and they helped me with contacts in Russia. I asked them to please let their colleagues in the USA know that they are in favour of Glenn going to Russia so that he wouldn’t be banned from the United States.”
Gould performed in Moscow and St Petersburg (then Leningrad), and also gave lectures during the tour, which made him a household name in Russia.
As Homburger’s relationship with Gould ended, in 1962 he became managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a position he would keep until his retirement in 1987. When he retired, the orchestra held a benefit concert, the Great Gathering, which made more than C$2.3m for the orchestra’s charitable foundation.
For his work with the Toronto Symphony, Homburger was made a member of the order of Canada. He was also awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.
“Walter represented a rare mix in one man: He was a brilliant impresario, a strategic leader and a kind inspiration to all who knew him,” says Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) CEO Matthew Loden. “This is a huge loss for the TSO family and for all those fortunate enough to have worked with him, but we are comforted in knowing Walter’s legacy survives in our collective memories and in the music we make every day.”
Homburger is survived by Emmy, his wife of 58 years, his son Michael, daughter Lisa and four grandchildren.
EU festivals rank as fastest growing worldwide
European festivals including Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), Glastonbury Festival, Boomtown and Mad Cool are among the fastest-growing events in recent years, according to new research by StubHub.
The research shows the capacity increases of 50 festivals worldwide, ranking the fastest-growing in terms of percentage growth. Out of the music festivals examined, leading electronic festival and business conference ADE came out as the most rapidly growing event overall.
The multi-venue festival, which this year takes place from 16 to 20 October, has grown to more than 230 times its original size, from just 300 in 1995 to 70,000 in latest editions. Last year, ADE welcomed a record-breaking 400,000 visitors across five days.
Increasing capacity from 1,500 to 135,000 (210,000 including all staff), Glastonbury Festival has the strongest growth of any participating event in terms of raw numbers. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival also showed impressive growth, up to 60,000 capacity from its original 350 in 1970.
Adding more than 11,000 fans per year, Madrid’s Mad Cool festival has expanded rapidly in its four years of activity
Adding more than 11,000 fans per year, Madrid’s Mad Cool festival has expanded rapidly in its four years of activity. The festival, which this year was headlined by Bon Iver and the Cure, has increased capacity by almost 80% since its inaugural edition, from 45,000 to 80,000.
Founded in 2009, the UK’s Boomtown Fair has undergone the biggest growth of the past decade. The event, which started out with just one stage and 1,000 guests, has increased capacity by 65,000 people in its lifetime.
India’s Magnetic Fields festival, founded in 2013, recorded the second fastest growth of the decade, expanding 500% to a capacity of 3,000.
European festivals made up 13 of the top 20 fastest growing events on the list. US festival South by Southwest, Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas) and Ultra Music Festival in Miami also showed strong growth.
Lake of Stars festival in Malawi – the only African festival to appear in the research –also makes it into the top 20, although remaining relatively small. The boutique festival now accommodates 5,000 attendees, up from 700 in its first year.
A full list of results can be found here.
From Liverpool to Seoul: Sound City’s Asian adventure
Independent festival and conference Sound City has its roots firmly in the northwest of the UK but has recently begun to set its sights much further afield, tapping into the rapidly growing South Korean music industry.
Here, IQ talks to Sound City chief executive David Pichilingi about new ventures overseas, the appetite for new music in Asia and why Sound City is much more than “just” a music festival…
IQ: What are the origins of Sound City?
DS: We launched Sound City in 2008, because it felt at that time that Liverpool was looking backwards. Liverpool is a city with such an important musical history and a strong tradition of shaping popular culture, but it felt like it had got to the point where everything was focused on reflecting on the past rather than trying to define the future.
Sound City was the model needed to enable Liverpool and the wider region to begin looking forward and begin trying to reinvent itself for a modern audience. The ethos was always to put Liverpool and the region on the map, and we aimed to do that through musical showcases linked to a world class conference schedule.
By showcasing what we felt was the best of creative talent on offer, we have grown into presenting over 350 bands from 22 different countries. This year we had over 7,500 bands applying to play at Sound City. There’s also the business conference, which has been present from day one right in the heart of festival. It has grown from 50 speakers in year one and a couple hundred of delegates, to this year over 1,500 delegates and speakers. To date, Sound City has helped to secure around £30 million in new deals for UK artists and music-based businesses, equating to around £3m per year.
Sound City was the model needed to enable Liverpool and the wider region to begin looking forward and begin trying to reinvent itself for a modern audience
How did Sound City Korea come about?
Like most things in life it was a happy accident. Our mission has always been to support the development of artists and industry talents in any shape or form. We started getting inquiries from organisations based in Korea, China, Australia and parts of central Europe, wanting to showcase musical talent and bring business representatives.
Through this, we cultivated contacts with a wide range of people, including a very close relationship with Dalse, who runs Zandari Festival (South Korea’s largest showcase event) in Seoul. He wanted to grow the festival and shared our ethos of supporting young artists. We started by helping to book speakers and by taking agents and labels over, then that grew into us taking British bands over and putting on a British stage. Four years on, we have our own version of Sound City in Seoul. There was no strategic plan just kindred spirits and like-minded people coming together to create something inspiring.
Have you expanded into other parts of Asia?
Absolutely, the reputation and credibility of Zandari Festival has grown substantially because of our association with it and because of what we’ve done there, we have been asked to do similar things elsewhere. We are looking to build on that and a key priority over the next three to five years is to create a version of Sound City in China as go to event for Asia.
Modern Sky, the largest independent Chinese record label and festival promoter, is our conduit into that marketplace. Through our partnership with them, we have the ability to connect with audiences and businesses in China and the wider Asian region, giving us an opportunity that few others have.
With Modern Sky, we are aiming to create a flagship event in China. The idea is to create more opportunities as opposed to fewer, and we are by no means aiming to take away from Zandari with this. We want to coordinate it so artists can come from doing one or two shows at Zandari, to then performing in China. So rather than getting people to fly out for four days, they can come for ten and attend two conferences and showcase festivals instead of one.
A key priority over the next three to five years is to create a version of Sound City in China as go to event for Asia
It’s important to note that this is all about two-way traffic. We are also helping Asian artists to make it in the UK and Europe, as well as showcasing our own talents and creating our own connections in Asia.
Why is the Asian market important?
Via globalisation and social platforms it is possible for anybody to be known overseas now and the days of trying to be only king of your own backyard is over for artists.
In the Asian region, Korea is seen as a very important marketplace, even though it’s not that big – much in the same way that the UK music market is influential but relatively small – and a lot of artists use it to get a foothold elsewhere.
The level of opportunity in Asia in general is huge, especially in China where audience consumption of popular music is estimated at 550 million people. It is also still a relatively untapped marketplace. In China and the rest of Asia, there is a very savvy young audience now with a strong connection with the west and western culture. In terms of the music and subcultures, there is a lot of opportunity for independent record labels and emerging artists. It is much more of a level playing field over there.
What else is Sound City up to?
The Sound City festival comes as both a blessing and a curse – people think that’s all we are but we do so many different things.
We have a lot going on abroad but are doing many other great things at home too. In July this year we launched a new version of Sound City at Manchester International Festival, as a part of Distractions (a three-day summit on future of entertainment). We are now aiming to turn that into an annual event, so we have two meaningful events for business delegations and artists in two of the strongest music cities in the UK.
In China and the rest of Asia, there is a very savvy young audience now with a strong connection with the west and western culture
Our event Off the Record, which we do in conjunction with festival promoter From the Fields, is coming into its fourth year. This is a very grassroots festival, for artists and young people on the first rung of the ladder still trying to make sense of it all. We have sold out for the past three years and are looking to do the same for the fourth year too.
We also run music entrepreneurship training, offering early stage talent development for young people, featuring music-making, training, mentoring and work placement opportunities, with a focus on areas of deprivation in Liverpool and the northwest.
In terms of our wider strategic partnerships, we are the lead UK partner in the Keychange initiative (led by PRS Foundation and supported by the Creative Europe programme) which encourages festivals and music organisations to achieve a 50:50 gender balance by 2022.
This has also led to us being part of the INES network which is a EU cooperation project led by a network of eight international showcase festivals to create a united, strong European music market.
When we started Sound City over 14 years ago our mantra was always to have an international footprint. Over these years we have now built a strong and credible brand that is respected globally. We are still proud to call Liverpool, Manchester and the North our home from where everything else radiates.
The inaugural Sound City Ipswich, a one-day conference and multi-venue festival, is taking place on 4 October in partnership with Out Loud Music and local venue the Smokehouse.