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Femnøise launches map of female and non-binary pros

Femnøise, a digital platform aimed at fighting the gender gap on a global level, has launched a new map feature to help locate and connect women and non-binary professionals in the industry and empower them to monetise their skills.

The map allows users to find other music professionals by filtering geographical area, type of activity and musical genres. Profiles can request to connect to each other, send and receive private messages with other users, and participate in forums and discussion groups.

The platform already boasts 2,000 registered users ranging from tour managers to artists, photographers to designers, conductors to bookers.

“Our idea is to serve as a bridge between different needs, and profiles that fit the demand,” says Natalia San Juan, founder and CEO of Femnøise.

“Our idea is to serve as a bridge between different needs, and profiles that fit the demand”

“For example, if you are preparing your tour and need a guitarist or tour manager; if you want to look for a photographer to renew your book or find a designer for the cover of your next album, you can find her on Femnøise. The connections are as diverse as the profiles that connect.”

Users will also be able to create and monetise small courses using the platform’s nano learning functionality, in turn, helping others on the platform to strengthen their skillsets.

Alongside helping professionals to connect and skillshare, the platform will also give visibility to associations around the world which are promoting women and non-binary professionals in the industry and encourage collaboration to find solutions to diminish the gender gap.

The non-profit has received support from the likes of Keychange, the European Music Manager Alliance, the Spanish Ministry of Culture, and the Barcelona local development agency.

Similar initiatives serving women and non-binary people in the music industry have popped up across Europe, including Helvetiarockt’s one-stop shop for festivals, promoters, bookers, producers, musicians and more in Switzerland and Vick Bain’s F-List directory of UK female and non-binary musicians.


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Virtually Live: ILMC 33 launches with Azoff keynote

The organisers of the International Live Music Conference today (25 November) launched ILMC 33, the 2021 edition of the conference and the first in an all-virtual format.

Without the physical confines of a conference space, the annual event – which typically welcomes 2,000 professionals annually – will programme an expanded schedule of panels, meetings, workshops and keynotes.

Also announced today is ILMC 2021’s first keynote interview, featuring legendary music executive Irving Azoff. Hosted by Ed Bicknell, The (Late) Breakfast Meeting with Irving Azoff sees Azoff join the raconteur and former Dire Straits manager to discuss his remarkable career in music, from managing Eagles and Jon Bon Jovi to running Ticketmaster and being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Given the unprecedented circumstances, next year’s ‘Virtually Live’ ILMC will be opening its doors to non-members for the first time, allowing a wider range of live music professionals to attend.

“It’s important that the whole business is able to come together at such a pivotal time for the industry’s recovery,” explains ILMC head Greg Parmley. “With that in mind, we’ve decided to open up ILMC to the wider live music family for the first time, ensuring as many delegates are possible are able to exchange ideas and benefit from each other’s expertise.”

“It’s important that the whole business is able to come together at such a pivotal time for the industry’s recovery”

ILMC 33 also includes a fully online version of the Arthur Awards, the live music industry’s Oscar equivalents, which feature several new award categories – including Unsung Heroes and Tour of the Decade, which will be voted for live on the night. The ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) and Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) will both precede ILMC on Tuesday 2 March.

Confirmed speakers for ILMC 2021 already include Tim Leiweke (Oak View Group), Bob Lefsetz (Lefsetz Letter), Emma Banks (CAA), Sam Kirby Yoh (UTA), Tony Goldring (WME), Tom Windish (Paradigm) and Phil Bowdery (Live Nation). The first conference sessions will be announced in the coming days.

In addition to three days of conference sessions, the digital ILMC platform will feature hosted networking lounges, speed meetings and virtual exhibition spaces, while a schedule of nighttime events also includes a series of livestream showcases from emerging artists.

Last year’s conference programme included keynotes from Peter Rudge and team Mumford & Sons, and guest speaker slots from executives including David Zedeck (UTA), Phil Rodriguez (Move Concerts), Roberta Medina (Rock in Rio), Ashish Hemrajani (BookMyShow), Detlef Kornett (DEAG), Maria May (CAA), Scott Mantell (ICM Partners) and Jim King (AEG Presents). The full 2021 agenda will be published in January.

Companies supporting ILMC 33 include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, CTS Eventim, Showsec and Tysers.

For more information, visit the new ILMC website, which invites the industry’s top gamers, avatars and cyberpunks to join us in the conference mainframe from 3 to 5 March 2021.


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Beyond solidarity

The Black Lives Matter movement and Black Out Tuesday galvanised many teams to reflect, connect with Black communities, and come together as a global music industry in solidarity against anti-Black racism, bigotry and prejudice. And the momentum for change kept up in the UK through Black History Month celebrations.

It is also great to hear a groundswell of ‘building back better’ discussions to ensure that the industry’s Covid-19 recovery allows the music community to act on systemic injustice, inequitable financial benefit and the many barriers that prevent underrepresented creators and professionals from fulfilling potential and forging long-term successful careers.

We know the pandemic disproportionately impacts underrepresented groups and we must counteract that with a greater sense of urgency. At PRS Foundation, we know we will play a vital role in recovery and in shaping the future of music to build a stronger, connected and sustainable music community.

We have made much progress to address gender inequality, launching Women Make Music in 2011, achieving gender balance across our grants programmes in 2018, and co-founding the global Keychange movement, which has over 370 music companies working together towards achieving gender balance by 2022.

“Goodwill amounts to little more than window-dressing if not followed up by commitments, action and accountability”

And we are building on our strong track-record for inclusivity and industry collaboration to develop a long-term ambitious programme to power-up Black creative and executive talent.

To bring about meaningful and lasting change, public solidarity is not enough. Goodwill amounts to little more than window-dressing if not followed up by commitments, action and accountability.

So, what does action and change look like? And to paraphrase the ever-inspiring Keith Harris, OBE, how do we seize the momentum to avoid this becoming “another false dawn in terms of equality in the industry”?

If you don’t know where to begin, you are not alone. Perhaps you feel that personal action may not be enough. Or that the pandemic means you or your company cannot contribute financially.

Or perhaps you’re one of the hundreds of first-time organisation grantees receiving lifeline support from the Culture Recovery Fund or similar Arts Council funds across the UK. You might not know where to start when it comes to the crucial commitment you have made to increase organisational diversity and the diversity of audiences, visitors and/or participants.

I want to stress that there are already very clear pathways to meaningful change. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can connect with the many who have worked tirelessly for decades on diversity and inclusion, or to brand new collectives and initiatives launched this year. And there has never been a bigger opportunity (and responsibility) to come together to address social injustice.

“You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Connect with the many who have worked tirelessly for decades on diversity and inclusion”

Below are some individuals, initiatives and organisations whose work might inspire you:

Black Music Coalition (BMC) – launched by senior music execs following Black Out Tuesday, the BMC set out five priorities to tackle discrimination in the UK music industry, followed by a must-read manifesto that includes the creation of a resource pack available to music companies.

Nadia Khan – the Women in CTRL network has 800 members and its Seat at the Table report sparked considerable commitments to improve board representation at UK trade bodies.

Ammo Talwar – through the UK Music Diversity Task Force, Ammo has been working tirelessly with colleagues on the 2020 Diversity Report.

Michael Rapino – the Live Nation CEO set global commitments and ambitious targets to build diversity by 2025. Crucially, he is committed to holding himself accountable – something our Keychange pledge has been encouraging for years.

Oslo World – have adapted to the pandemic with an innovative 3D virtual festival and, acting on their ‘Solidarity’ theme, have made all tickets free, with optional donations going to the Beirut music scene.

Creative responses – Native Instruments’ Covid-19 response saw them collaborate with artists to launch a donation-based charity sound pack, benefitting initiatives including Keychange and Heart n Soul. And we’ve had two indie companies donating in-kind support (e.g. residencies/marketing campaigns) to grantees of our Sustaining Creativity Fund.

Personal commitment – countless thousands have been donating to vital causes to support the music ecosystem during the pandemic. Beggars CEO, Paul Redding, swam for 16 hours across the English Channel to raise over £120,000 for a new racial inclusivity programme and for Sweet Relief’s Covid-19 fund in the US.


Joe Frankland is CEO of PRS Foundation.

Keychange expands in Canada with Tegan and Sara

Canadian indie-pop icons Tegan and Sara have been appointed as the country’s ambassadors for gender equality initiative Keychange.

The Creative Europe-funded campaign encourages festivals, conferences, music organisations and institutions to sign a pledge to include at least 50% women and under-represented genders in their programming, staffing and beyond by 2022.

“We encourage members of our industry who have tremendous power to sign, fund, promote, nominate, support, acknowledge, and celebrate the diverse population working in the arts today,” say Tegan and Sara.

“The demographic breakdown of awards nominations and festival lineups reflects the structural confines of our society and industry. We must do better, as it sends an outdated message to the next generation about whose art and voice and message is valuable.”

The appointment is part of Keychange’s gradual expansion in Canada, this year an official country partner in the movement, which now includes two lead festival partners, eight participants and seven new signatories.

Breakout West, the annual conference and music festival, and Mutek, a Montreal-based electronic music festival, are lead festival partners and will host four international Keychange participants each, as well as the Canadian participants in 2021.

“We must do better, as it sends an outdated message to the next generation about whose art and voice and message is valuable”

The Canadian participants include: artist manager and talent buyer Rebecca Szymkow at Birthday Cake Media; music composer Kroy aka Camille Poliquin; Katrina Lopes, president of KL Management; Savannah Wellman, co-founder of Vancouver record label and management company Tiny Kingdom Music and Mar Sellars, an artist manager and radio host with her own company Mar On Music.

Artist participants are former Keychange ambassador Iskwē; Kimmortal, a queer Filipino nonbinary musician from Vancouver and Dana Beeler, frontwoman of Hello Delaware.

The seven new Canadian organisations which have signed the Keychange gender pledge include the Polaris Music Prize, a not-for-profit organisation that annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction and MMF Canada, a non-profit trade association that offers education, networking and advocacy on behalf of its members, their artists, and the wider Canadian music community.

Other new signatories include music festival Folk on the Rocks; association Musique NB (MNB); record label and publisher Birthday Cake Media; Kaneshii Vinyl Press; and radio station n10.as.

Robyn Stewart, Breakout West says: “BreakOut West is committed to highlighting the diverse voices or our artists and industry. Our commitment as Keychange partners is one part of this as we strive to support female and non-binary leaders and the incredible mix of talent in Western Canada.”

Marie-Laure Saidani, Mutek Montreal says: “Gender equality is one of Mutek’s core values. Joining the Keychange movement in 2018 has definitely acted as a catalyst as we have achieved parity in our programming since. We are proud to belong to this international network which advocates positive change in the music industry.”

Keychange recently expanded into Poland, in the midst of clashes over abortion law and LGBTQ+ rights. Read more here.


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UK Music reports progress with diversity in industry

Representation of Black, Asian and ethnic minorities and women has increased at almost every level in the industry since 2016, according to a new report by UK Music.

The trade body revealed the findings of its 2020 Workforce Diversity Survey in its UK Music Diversity Report, as well as a ten-point plan to tackle racism and boost diversity in Britain’s music industry.

The survey’s most notable findings include an increase in minority ethic employees between 16-24, up from 25.9% in 2018 to a record 30.6%.

The number of people from minority ethnic professionals at entry-level has also risen from 23.2% in 2018 to new high of 34.6% in 2020, though representation is worse in senior positions at just 19.9% – one in five posts.

Elsewhere, the proportion of women has increased from 45.3% in 2016 to new high of 49.6% in 2020. However, the number of women in the 45–64 age group has dropped from 38.7% in 2018 to 35% in 2020.

“Against a backdrop of global change the diversity taskforce has been carefully listening, challenging and working behind the scenes to help shape a transformational and game-changing ten-point plan,” says UK Music diversity taskforce chair Ammo Talwar MBE.

“If our music industry is to tell the story of modern-day Britain, then it needs to look like modern-day Britain too”

“This plan is data driven and evidence based with metrics and lived experience. It’s the accumulation of nine months’ work across the whole music industry to support yet hold the industry to account. No tokenistic statements, no short-term wins but a truly collaborative long term plan that reboots the sector and ensures diversity is front and centre of all major decisions.”

UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin says: “As an industry, we are united in our determination to lead the way on improving diversity and inclusion in our sector and across society. This report consists of a frank and candid analysis of the current situation our industry faces, and a bold and ambitious ten-point plan for how to achieve the positive change we all want to see. It’s relevant not just to the music industry, but to organisations everywhere.

“If our music industry is to tell the story of modern-day Britain, then it needs to look like modern-day Britain too. This ground-breaking report is an important step towards achieving that.”

The trade body’s ten-point plan to improve diversity makes a number of commitments including maintaining a database of people responsible for promoting diversity across UK Music; removing the word “urban” to describe music of black origin, using genre-specific terms like R&B or soul instead; and ending the use of the “offensive and outdated” term BAME in official communications.

UK Music has conducted a diversity study every two years since 2016, which collates data from across the music business including studios, management agencies, music publishers, major and independent record labels, music licensing companies and the live music sector.


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Poland joins Keychange’s gender equality movement

As Polish women take to the streets to protest a near-total ban on abortion, Poland’s music industry is leading the charge for gender equality after becoming an official country partner to the Keychange movement for gender equality.

The Creative Europe-funded campaign encourages festivals, conferences, music organisations and institutions to sign a pledge to include at least 50% women and under-represented genders in their programming, staffing and beyond by 2022.

Today, Keychange has announced three new Polish signatories: Ethno Port (festival); Chimes (agency); and record label, music publisher, management and agency Kayax.

Spring Break, an annual showcase festival in Poznań, has also been announced as the lead partner for Keychange in Poland and organisers have committed to gender equality on its lineup.

To celebrate the launch of Keychange in Poland, Chimes (Keychange capacity building lead) and Spring Break will collaborate on a focus week and panel discussion to explore the barriers for women and gender minorities in Poland, and the role of music in activism in the country.

Magdalena Jensen, responsible for planning training for Keychange participants this year, says: “We have witnessed the dangerous politicisation of gender in Poland this year with the president inciting hate speech as part of his re-election campaign.

“Sadly, that makes the Keychange movement even more relevant and important in Poland – it’s so important to take a stance for human rights, build bridges and strong support networks and it’s encouraging to see Keychange leading the way in our music industry.”

“With the dangerous politicisation of gender in Poland this year, Keychange is even more important in Poland”

Izabela Rekowska, Spring Break, says: “Our partnership with Keychange sets a tangible goal to achieve gender balance in our line-up. I truly advocate that more festivals should sign the Pledge and join the movement.”

The panel discussion, Artist on the barricades: Can music be a tool for social change?, will take place tomorrow (29 October) at Klubokawiarnia Tymczasowa (dawniej Meskalina) in Poznań with new ambassadors Avtomat and Karolina Czarnecka, as well as Iwona Skwarek (Rebeka) and Keychange participant Magda Chołyst (Artist in Bloom). The event will start at 6 pm and will be broadcast on Spring Break’s Youtube channel.

Speaking about her new role as ambassador, interdisciplinary artist Karolina Czarnecka says: “I grew up in Poland, a catholic and patriarchal society. It’s in my blood. It’s my heritage. Fortunately, I don’t know how, but there has always been freedom in my mind.

“Freedom is my truth. This is my everyday aim also in art. Everybody deserves it, without exception. Our words and actions have power, I believe we have influence on the world around us, even if it’s only our backyard.”

While, Avtomat, an openly queer composer, producer, DJ and vocalist, says: “I’m thrilled to be an ambassador for Keychange for the same reason I’ve been fighting against injustice in Poland – so that everyone can participate in the scene with equal chances.”

Since launching in 2017, Keychange has enlisted over 40 countries and over 350 organisations to the movement. The most recent slate of signatories includes UK booking agency ATC Live.


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LiveXLive to acquire merch company CPS

Live music media company LiveXLive has agreed to acquire CPS, a leading merchandise personalisation firm, for an estimated US$6 million.

LA-based LiveXLive has seen its core business – livestreamed live music events – grow exponentially this year while concert touring is on hold, having streamed shows by more than 1,400 artists in 2020 alone. In a ‘normal’ year the company also streams content from a roster of partner festivals that includes Rock in Rio, Sziget, Paléo Festival Nyon and Electric Daisy Carnival Last Vegas.

It also owns PodcastOne, a leading podcast network home to more than 300 shows, React Presents, an electronic music promoter formerly part of the SFX network, and a number of other related businesses.

Following the acquisition of CPS, LiveXLive, which trades on the Nasdaq Capital Market, plans to “partner with the music and entertainment industry, as well as stars who have massive social media and marketing reach, to create and distribute unique and limited edition personalized [sic] clothing, jewelry, toys, as well as virtual goods,” according to a market note.

Founded in 2012, Addison, Illinois-based CPS (Custom Personalization Solutions) formerly operated multiple ecommerce businesses, including jewellery company Limoges Jewelry, gift seller Personalized Planet and toy retail business TV’s Toy Box.

“We intend to fulfil super-fans’ dreams with personalised merchandise from their favourite artists”

With over 70 full-time employees, it now focuses on creating an “assortment of personalised merchandise unlike anything in the market”.

“The global licensed merchandise market is expected to reach $400 billion by 2023. This acquisition presents an immense opportunity for LiveXLive to leverage its audience, platform and artist and entertainment-industry relationships to add commerce and specialised consumer product revenues to our music stack and help drive the transaction components of our flywheel business model,” says Robert Ellin, CEO and chairman of LiveXLive.

“By integrating social commerce into our live and original content, we intend to fulfil super-fans’ dreams with personalised merchandise from their favourite artists and shows, directly to the consumer.”

“The worlds of custom merchandise, real-time fulfilment and social commerce driven by celebrity and influencers have collided to create a perfect storm” adds Scott Norman, CEO of CPS. “LiveXLive represents the perfect partner for us to take advantage of this next wave.”


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How royalties can rebalance a fairer music funding model

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has hit the pause button on the ‘live’ global music scene, with many in the industry now turning to new alternative funding streams in keeping their music ambitions and hopes alive. Although musicians and their teams have suffered heavy losses, government-initiated relief funds for artists around the globe has eased the financial burden on the music industry. In the US, for example, close to $20 million has already been raised for struggling artists. Spotify has also collaborated with several organisations to support the global music community, contributing a collective $10 million in donations, as part of the Spotify Covid-19 Music Relief project.

The need for these relief efforts is indicative of the overwhelming dependence artists have on touring and live shows. Yet, there is hope for the music industry with digital music revenues projected to reach one billion US dollars in the UK alone by the end of 2020, while US streaming music revenues grew 12% to $4.8 billion in the first half of 2020. This begs the question: why have artists been slow to reap the benefits of the new digitalisation of music? Despite streaming services proving an important utility to artists, perhaps it is time for musicians to take back more control of their music rights and revenues.

Herein music royalties provide the solution. By opening up music royalties to investors, the music industry can offer up a new sustainable funding revenue model to the benefit of artists, publishers, and record labels alike. For investors and music fans it offers a gateway to a constantly evolving market that is largely immune to geo-political and macro events.

With streaming services under close scrutiny lately, prospective changes to copyright law and royalty negotiations are looming. While the industry may correct itself to remunerate artists more equitably, no one can predict how long this will take. Instead, the funding vacuum ought to be filled by fans, through redirecting the flow of revenue back to artists by investing in their music royalties. With the promise of diversification and returns for investors and much needed liquidity for artists, this could be the next catalyst that lights up a more equitable and sustainable funding model for the music world.

Vanity investments for the new era
Avid music fans will already be well acquainted with vanity investments, where making money isn’t the only primary motive. So in the same way an artist may absorb the full expense of publishing and promoting a particular project, a musical zealot will spend their time and energy supporting their favourite artist purely for the enjoyment in the music and their association with the artist. Record labels have built an important part of their business model on this premise, with the most obvious expenditure for fans being live performances, estimated to constitute approximately 28% of the average musician’s income.

It is time for musicians to take back more control of their music rights and revenues

Merchandise sales are another avenue for vanity investors. With that said, where merchandise can be invaluable for fostering connections between artists and their fans, they represent a paltry 2% of the average artists’ revenue stream. In today’s funding model, support on social media is the only remaining option, which can actually have a significant impact. An article from Pigeons & Planes featured statistics from Indify, which aggregates listener data, social metrics, and online trends to identify emerging musicians.

Outside of streaming and purchasing physical copies of music, there are currently very little alternatives available for music fans to support artists. While committing to a streaming service is a necessary requirement for most musicians in today’s music industry, the uneven distribution of funds and the deferred payments don’t always allow artists to kickstart new projects or make their own career decisions. The artist is ultimately the supplier of the music, so it is about time we  see them have fairer access to funding models.  What if you could dedicate your funds directly to the artist of choice, cutting out the intermediaries and with the promise of a return?

Music royalties unleash new funding alternatives
Music rights have several characteristics that enhance their value as an asset class. Should a song find its way into an advertisement, a film soundtrack, or perhaps repurposed by another artist in a sample, this will boost the generated royalties. Copyright ownership continues seventy years after the last living recipient has passed, making for a substantial long-term investment. Posthumous record sales often boost the value of an artists’ catalogue too. For example, the famous artist behind “Bowie Bonds” had his first #1 album featured on the Billboard top 200 chart following his death in 2016.

Previously, music royalties have been very much a private market between the artists, record labels, catalogue owners  and publishers. Now, with the advent of streaming and the incremental role of smart devices, platforms such as the Hipgnosis Songs Fund are making strides in opening up royalties to the masses. Vanity investors can now convert their funds into royalties investments, underpinning the success of their favourite artists, with the added appeal of returns. Also on our own platform, Anote Music, music fans of all genres have committed their money to acquire music rights, with some of them receiving approximately 8% in returns on their investment within less than three months following the  investment platform’s official launch.

How to fix the flaws in a traditional business model
During the pandemic-induced hiatus, some of the shortcomings of various streaming services were exposed using the #brokenrecord and #fixstreaming twitter campaigns. This is reminiscent of a similar campaign, Sleepify, which saw American funk band, Vulfpeck, receive $20,000 in streaming royalties from an album with nothing on it. Despite Spotify’s recent efforts to support struggling artists, this loophole in Spotify’s royalty calculation model exposed how little control artists have of their own music royalties, not least their future finances.

Enabling fans to redirect their funds towards their favourite artists can offer artists a chance to diversify and manage their revenue streams

On a similar note, while publishers make the world of music go ‘round, artists have on occasion proclaimed their dissatisfaction with the way copyright ownership is managed. Examples include Kanye West’s latest outburst, Prince and his infamous debacle with Warner Bros, and Paul McCartney’s lawsuit against Sony to regain copyright ownership over music by his former band, The Beatles. These intellectual property disputes also reflect unease in the current music industry.  A new funding model that is transparent and unties publishers, artists, and record labels is therefore the ticket to correct the perceived imbalances weighted against artists.

Many new projects driven by the likes of blockchain and other modern technologies  are already embarking on the mission to unite the music industry (publishers, musicians, online streaming services, music fans and catalogues). Some investment platforms offer music royalties of artists through the auctioning of music catalogues, based on the future expected earnings of the music royalties. By offering up music royalties in this way, artists can access a potentially vast  liquidity pool to free up cash, while retaining 100% artistic  control over their music rights.

All these new initiatives are a welcomed sight for a traditional industry which has been struggling to find answers to its current flaws.  In example, there is an estimated $2.5 billion worth of unpaid music royalties tied up globally, either unclaimed or unpaid. Paperchain is circumventing it by turning streaming data from Spotify, YouTube, and others, into digital assets. Correspondingly, opening up music royalties as a viable alternative serves by democratising funding in the music industry, and allowing artists to retain more control over their creative rights. It is a collective effort of the music business and emerging technologies, that so far is proving a unifying force in the music industry. And if you’re doubtful just ask Massimo Benini, CEO of Irma Records, or prominent Polish musician Tomasz Lubert on how they felt about the process.

Time to welcome music royalties as an innovative solution
Until the playing field has been levelled, the funding model of the music industry will continue to cause a divide between right holders, and online streaming services.  An equitable, balanced and fair funding model is long overdue for the industry. An impetus is emerging from this pandemic that will prompt fairer treatment of music artists, in terms of copyright ownership and the problematic funding model. Music royalties as a way of investment for fans just might be the answer to addressing these problems.

The availability of smartphone technology, the ever growing passion for music and the low entry barrier means almost anybody can invest in music royalties. Enabling fans to redirect their funds towards their favourite artists can offer artists a chance to diversify and manage their revenue streams, rather than relying solely on a publisher or record labels. Equally, this could address issues of intellectual property, considering that new revenue streams could produce material detached from a specific publisher. In this way, investing in music royalties could foster a fundamental change to the current funding model of the music industry. It is time the music industry once again became united – with music royalties being the answer.

Marzio Schena is co-founder and CEO of ANote Music, the European marketplace for investing in music royalties.

Gorillaz, Beck perform in Animal Crossing

Gorillaz and Beck played their new song, ‘The Valley of the Pagans’, on the in-game Animal Crossing talk show on Friday (23 October).

The collaboration, which appears on Gorillaz’ new album, Song Machine Season One: Strange Timez, was performed by Gorillaz vocalist 2-D (aka Damon Albarn) and Beck, who appeared on Animal Talking, a talk show within the popular Nintendo Switch game, as virtual avatars.

The performance followed an interview with Gorillaz creators Albarn and Jamie Hewlett earlier in the programme, which is hosted by screenwriter and author Gary Whitta.

The animated band last week announced a short 2021 European tour, visiting Cologne, Berlin, Luxembourg’s Rockhal and the O2 in London next summer.

Animal Crossing is the latest video game to host a ‘concert’, with Gorillaz joining the growing ranks of artists who have performed as virtual versions of themselves. Notable videogame shows this year include Travis Scott and J Balvin in Fortnite, and several festivals in Minecraft, while 2019 saw Marshmello play Fortnite, Korn play AdventureQuest and the Offspring World of Tanks, among others.

IQ revealed recently that more than three quarters of a billion people – each one of them a potential concertgoer once the live business restarts – play video games regularly.


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Tune in to SoundCzech: Inside the Czech music scene

If you could take Czech music back to a more hopeful moment than the present one, it might be worth heading to January 2019, when the nation, alongside its former other half Slovakia, was part of the first-ever dual-country focus at Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS).

In a snapshot of a diverse, ambitious scene, 11 Czech acts travelled to Groningen, including internationally noted pop favourite Lenny, London-raised female rapper Hellwana, shoegazing indie-rockers Manon Meurt, UK/Czech electronic alliance Floex and Tom Hodge and well-travelled Glastonbury and Sziget veterans Mydy Rabycad.

“It was nice, and I think it was good for the scene,” says Márton Náray, director of Czech music export office SoundCzech. “We did that in collaboration with Pohoda festival in Slovakia, and that was fantastic – Michal Kašcák is one of the legends of live music. We got into a situation where we were brainstorming to do more than a simple country focus, and I think we inspired each other.”

The exposure from ESNS and surrounding events was still in the process of bearing fruit when the current crisis struck. But while the touring world has hit pause, the Czech Republic holds a strong hand in terms of talent these days.

Many of the ESNS delegation (which also included one-woman musical sensation Bohemian Cristal Instrument, Baltic party band the Circus Brothers, bagpipe-toting punks Pipes and Pints, acoustic troubadour Thom Artway, the self-descriptive Lazer Viking, and cinematic jazzers Zabelov Group) had begun to make international inroads at club- and festival-level and were demonstrably building momentum.

There is no shortage of homegrown, locally loved talent

“To be honest, my realistic expectation is never to get [a band] to the headline billing, because that’s not realistic for the Czech Republic,” says Náray. “It’s about, in a few years, having a lot of bands that are genuinely going out onto the European club circuit. There are several like that,” he adds, mentioning Mydy Rabycad, the Circus Brothers, Floex and Manon Meurt, as well as the currently resting Pipes and Pints, “but that’s the level we would love to raise [to].”

Talent-wise, the Czech Republic is in a similar position to many non-English-speaking territories. There is no shortage of homegrown, locally loved talent, from long-running funkers Monkey Business to newly reformed ’90s legends Lucie. But to break across borders requires rare luck, as well as a delicate balance of international appeal and something unique.

“It’s the usual problem,” says Paul Elsasser of London-based, European-focused Minimal Surface, whose artists include edgy Czech solo prospect Giudi. “If you want to make it big in a country, you have to sing in their language.”

Numerous Czech bands have taken that advice to heart…


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