Managers, artists slam proposed UK livestream tariff
The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) have written to PRS for Music, the UK performance rights organisation, to protest a proposed new tariff for livestreamed concerts, which the associations criticise as “unworkable” and punitive to artists.
The MMF/FAC letter, which can be read in full here, is countersigned by more than 50 artist managers, including representatives for Dua Lipa, Biffy Clyro, Liam Gallagher, Bicep, Fontaines DC, Gorillaz and Yungblud, as well as a group of FAC member artists and songwriters.
The proposed tariff for live streams, described by PRS as a “temporary experimental and non-precedential rate structure”, has been devised without any consultation with industry. It would see a fee of up to 17% of gross ticket sales levied on livestreamed events, and would apply retrospectively to events which have already happened.
Even for the smallest events (those grossing under £50,000), the tariff would be 8% – double the 4% generally charged on a physical concert under the existing tariff ‘LP’.
The proposed tariff, particularly at the top royalty rate, compares unfavourably to the rates charged in several other European countries: The Netherlands’ Buma, for example, has a 7% tariff for live streams, while Germany’s Gema licenses live streams under its existing VR-OD 10 tariff, which is charged at a flat rate up to a maximum of €1,200. (By contrast, 17% of £450,000 is £76,500.)
“A starting rate 8%, rising to 17%, will make livestreaming unviable, for [all] artists”
The letter, addressed to PRS for Music chief executive Andrea Martin, says that while the associations accept that songwriters must be compensated fairly for use of their work in live streams, the 8–17% rate will make livestreaming – a format which has “presented artists with one of their few opportunities to perform and connect with their fans” this year – financially “unviable, for both the smallest emerging artists and the biggest superstar acts”.
“The larger, most-successful events involve significant production costs, and have provided a lifeline to crew and other industry workers,” write MMF’s Annabella Coldrick and FAC’s David Martin. “At the other end of the scale, livestreaming has been increasingly important for emerging artists and those operating in niche genres. For the sake of all artists, songwriters and the wider industry, it is crucial that this new format is allowed to grow and thrive.
“Charging artists up to four times the live [LP] rate strangles, rather than nurtures, this innovation. For some of the smaller artists who have just covered their costs livestreaming, it will be impossible to find this additional money retrospectively.”
According to the MMF and FAC, PRS has so far declined to enter into consultation about the proposed tariff, and it’s for this reason the bodies are making their position public. Additionally, they are inviting more managers and artists to add their signatures to the letter to demand a “full and transparent consultation”.
“The proposed online live concert pilot licence scheme is still evolving”
This consultation, the letter concludes, “should also aim to provide certainty that PRS actually holds a mandate to license livestreaming events on a global basis.
“Until that process is concluded, we are working on the basis that the current live tariff is the applicable rate to these ticketed events.”
Responding, a PRS for Music spokesperson says: “PRS For Music members, alongside many others across our sector, have been very badly impacted by the shutdown of live music this year. We welcome the many initiatives to move live concerts online and PRS For Music has designed an online live concert licence, which will allow the necessary rights to be licensed.
“The proposed pilot licence scheme is still evolving. As conversations with our partners are active and ongoing, it would not be right for us to provide further detail or comment at this stage while we await their assessment and feedback.
“Of course, our primary role is to protect our members’ rights and to ensure they are paid fairly for their work, which is more important than ever now. We hope that these conversation will progress quickly.”
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OnePlus to stream show live from ‘Phone Dome’
Smartphone manufacturer OnePlus has announced a unique livestreamed concert, premiering tonight (4 December), filmed using a ‘Phone Dome’ comprising 74 of its devices.
Not to be outdone by rival Samsung and its vertical stage, the Chinese firm has booked Danish singer Mads Langer to perform inside the igloo-like structure, which stands 4m (13’) tall and is constructed out of 80 interconnected stainless steel tubes, with the show captured by eight gimbal-mounted phones.
A further 16 OnePlus smartphones will provide visuals and background lighting, while the remaining 50 are allocated for VIP ticket holders, which will be connected in a virtual ‘meeting room’ inside the dome.
The Phones are secured to the rig with slim-fitting phone holders in stainless steel. According to OnePlus, the structure took a week to design and a further day to build.
The concert will stream live at 18.00 GMT on OnePlus’s Instagram accounts, as well as Langer’s YouTube channel. Langer is no stranger to innovative concert formats, having played some of Europe’s first drive-in shows in early summer.
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Eventbrite acquires marketing platform ToneDen
Eventbrite has acquired ToneDen, a platform for automating social-media marketing and advertising for live events.
In a blog post, Tim Thimmaiah, CEO of ToneDen, reveals the company was acquired by Eventbrite in November following a more than three-year partnership between the two firms. “Joining forces with Eventbrite allows us to continue innovating on the best creator-facing marketing platform in the industry,” says Thimmaiah.
According to Yahoo! Finance, shares in the self-service ticketing specialist spiked nearly 7% on announcement of the news, reaching over US$15. At the time of writing, Eventbrite shares were worth $17.32.
“Looking ahead towards our next stage of growth, we’re excited to help the hundreds of thousands of wonderful event organisers on Eventbrite find, reach, and engage with their attendees without having to be marketing experts,” continues Thimmaiah.
“We’re excited to help event organisers find, reach, and engage with their attendees without having to be marketing experts”
“Now more than ever, event creators need ways to grow, understand, and monetise their audiences.
“With Eventbrite, we plan to bring our technology and expertise to help provide event creators with an all-in-one platform for their entire event lifecycle. As digital transformation accelerates the world around us, we believe ToneDen and Eventbrite will be able to help event organisers, big or small, build their communities and grow their businesses faster than ever before.”
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
“I’m incredibly proud of, and humbled by, what the ToneDen team has accomplished and grateful for the creators, brands and businesses who have been our partners throughout our journey,” adds Thimmaiah. “We can’t wait to join Eventbrite and shape the future of events.”
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Study to examine viewer reactions to streamed gigs
A new research project will examine the physiological reactions of viewers during various streamed concert formats to determine which is closest to the effect of a gig experienced live.
The study proposal states: “In times of the corona pandemic, digital formats are the only way for cultural workers to reach an audience at all and continue to retain them. However, which offers work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplored…How the concert industry can continue to assert itself as a form of culture and a social forum under the rapid pressure of digital change is a topical and essential question for artists, organisers and cultural policy.”
The international study, entitled Digital Concert Experience, will see participants watch an exclusive concert film of Alban Gerhardt & Friends string quintet performing works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Brett Dean and Johannes Brahms in six different streaming variants while experts monitor the effect on the virtual audience.
The six streaming variants include: an on-demand stream; a ‘social event’ stream where audience members can digitally interact during the break and afterwards; a ‘know more’ stream accompanied by a conversation with composer Brett Dean; a virtual reality stream; a ‘digital house concert’, intended to be watched in-person with others; and a stream in the laboratory where researchers will collect physiological data.
“Which [digital formats] work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplored”
The research project is led by Zeppelin University (ZU) in Germany, which previously conducted a similar large-scale study, entitled Experimental Concert Research, measuring the concert experience by conducting preliminary and follow-up surveys, measurements of heart rate and skin conductance, movements and emotional states from participants.
“Earlier studies have already shown that study participants smile significantly more frequently at live concerts and have stronger physiological reactions than during concert recordings – now we want to find out which virtual formats are closest to the effect of the concert experienced live and to what extent streamed concerts become a format of its own,” says professor and doctor Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Germany.
The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics will also be involved in the experiment, alongside the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of York in the UK. The project is in partnership with the German Music Council and is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Aventis Foundation.
The main study will take place on 15 January 2021 and is accepting volunteers now.
Spotify-backed crypto Libra rebrands before launch
The Libra Association, the organisation overseeing the upcoming cryptocurrency of the same name, has rebranded as the Diem Association as part of its preparations for launch.
The digital currency, which is also being renamed diem (≋), was proposed by Facebook last summer and is also supported by several music-related businesses, most notably streaming service Spotify. Other backers include Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek, which has a stake in CAA, Union Square Ventures, which owns part of Sofar Sounds, and Andreessen Horowitz, an investor in song lyric site Genius and music distribution platform UnitedMasters, as well as Uber, Lyft, Shopify and Checkout.com.
Under the new banner, the Diem Association “will continue to pursue a mission of building a safe, secure and compliant payment system that empowers people and businesses around the world”, according to a statement from the organisation.
“The Diem project will provide a simple platform for fintech innovation to thrive and enable consumers and businesses to conduct instantaneous, low-cost, highly secure transactions,” says Stuart Levey, CEO of the Diem Association. “We are committed to doing so in a way that promotes financial inclusion: expanding access to those who need it most, and simultaneously protecting the integrity of the financial system by deterring and detecting illicit conduct. We are excited to introduce Diem – a new name that signals the project’s growing maturity and independence.”
In addition to its stated mission of facilitating low-fee payments around the world, particularly in emerging markets, it has been suggested that concert ticketing companies could take advantage of the the permissionless and open-source nature of Diem.
Alongside the rebrand, the association has made a number of in recent months, including Dahlia Malkhi as chief technology officer, Christy Clark as chief of staff, Steve Bunnell as chief legal officer and Kiran Raj as executive vice-president for growth and innovation and deputy general counsel.
In addition, Diem Networks, the Diem Association subsidiary which serves as operator of the regulated payment system, has announced the appointment of James Emmett as managing director, Sterling Daines as chief compliance officer, Ian Jenkins as chief financial and risk officer and Saumya Bhavsar as general counsel.
With the executive team in place, Diem is now prioritising reading for launch, which will follow regulatory approval from the the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma), which with the association is in “active and productive dialogue”, says Levey. “The evolution of the project results from constructive ongoing engagement with governments, regulators and other key stakeholders,” he comments.
Studio 2054: Backstage at the biggest live stream yet
Last weekend, Dua Lipa became the latest global megastar to dip a roller skate into the livestreaming water with her first ticketed virtual show, Studio 2054.
Described as a ‘“kaleidoscopic, rocket-fuelled journey through time, space, mirror balls, roller discos, bucket hats, belting beats, throbbing basslines and an absolute slam dunk of the best times in global club culture”, Studio 2054 eschewed the computer-generated digital FX seen at previous similar events for a neon extravaganza that strutted its way through multiple physical spaces in a specially constructed set at London’s Printworks.
Featuring guest appearances from the likes of Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus and Sir Elton John, the 28 November show is believed to have attracted the biggest-ever audience for a paid live stream, with over five million people tuning in live, according to a post-event release put out by organisers.
But what turned out to the biggest streaming event to date wasn’t originally an easy sell to the star involved, says Lipa’s manager, Ben Mawson of Tap Music. “Initially, Dua told me, ‘I don’t want to do one,’” recalls Mawson, who originally pitched Lipa the show that became Studio 2054 shortly after another Tap client, Ellie Goulding, wrapped up her debut live stream, The Brightest Blue Experience, in late August. “She said, ‘I’m waiting for live to come back.’
“I told her to think of it like a movie, or a live music video, and that captured her interest. And in the end she really enjoyed the experience, being back performing live.”
“There’s a lot of cost that goes into into explaining to an audience that it’s not just another live stream”
For the artist, meanwhile, preparations for Studio 2054 began in earnest a few weeks before the (non-socially distanced) show, when Lipa formed a ‘bubble’ with her dancers and other live performers, spending two weeks in a “quarantine house” to ensure the event’s Covid safety.
Tap estimates that 5m is a conservative estimate for the total viewers, with over 2m people tuning in in China alone. Another major hotspot was India, where Tap and livestreaming partner LiveNow struck a deal with domestic music streaming platform Gaana to provide the show to its subscribers, of whom 95,000 accessed the stream on Friday night alone, and numbers have grown since.
In China, meanwhile, a deal was done with another local streaming giant, Tencent, with fans able to watch the stream via QQ Music, Kugou, Kuwo and WeSing.
“Unless you count pre-internet events like Live Aid, I think we may well be the most-viewed live stream to date,” says Mawson.
Total ‘hard’ ticket sales for Studio 2054 current stand at around 284,000, although LiveNow is still selling on-demand tickets for the show, so that number will likely go up in the coming days.
The final general-admission tickets for the live event were priced at £13.99/€13.99, while catch-up passes are available for a discounted £7.50 until Sunday (6 December).
Tom Middleditch, chief product officer of LiveNow, says it’s crucial that ticketed streamed events like Studio 2054 go off without a hitch. “When people are paying for tickets, the experience has to be good,” he explains. “Livestreaming can always go wrong, but this was about as seamless as it can get.”
“When people are paying for tickets, the experience has to be good”
“I was terrified of the stream freezing,” adds Mawson. “I’ve tuned into some of the other big live streams and a few had major problems. Dua places huge importance on her fans’ experience, so it was key we didn’t get any complaints from users, and we didn’t.”
Middleditch reveals that, at its peak, the broadcast had viewers in 150 countries, with LiveNow’s platform localised towards fans depending on where they were in the world. “I have a lot of experience in sports, so I’m used to high peaks,” he says, “but when you have so many people [watching simultaneously all across the world] it’s a different challenge.”
For Mawson, it was important that Studio 2045 offered a fan experience beyond that of a basic livestreamed concert, as The Brightest Blue Experience – filmed inside the Edwardian V&A Museum in London – had in August.
“It’s hard because you’ve got to get balance right between the scale of idea and the costs,” explains Mawson. “You can’t just say to people, ‘Your favourite artist is doing a performance online,’ because everyone’s doing it, and they’re free.
“The model now has to almost like a TV special, with creative and marketing behind it – there’s a lot of cost that goes into into educating and explaining to an audience that it is an experience that they’re going to want to see, rather than just another live stream.”
The show’s marketing was helped no end by Lipa herself, Mawson says, who was tireless in her promotional efforts in the run-up to Studio 2054. “She kept putting trailers up, announcing guests… It was a very good marketing roll-out that helped to get the word out there.”
“The most important thing was that we didn’t do a show that’s ‘just’ a live show”
“The most important thing, as a manager, was that we didn’t do a show that’s ‘just’ a live show – it wasn’t just a concert in an arena that you can’t go to because of Covid,” Mawson continues. “The focus was on doing something different, and letting fans know we’re bringing something new to the market.”
Equally key to the show’s success was getting the price point right – something both Mawson and Middleditch believe the Studio 2054 team achieved, and which is borne out by the number of people who tuned in. “I’ve seen other shows priced much higher, and that affected their viewer numbers,” says Mawson. “Dua was the right pricing.”
“No one complained about the price, which is very unusual for this kind of event,” Middleditch adds.
While undoubtedly a successful second effort for the Tap-LiveNow partnership, Mawson says there’s still room for improvement with future live streams, noting that while the show “got massive visibility” in certain territories, there were some that underperformed. “I want to get better at the international thing,” he says, given that “Dua is the number-one star in the world”.
“There’s a lot music can learn from sport” when it comes to realising the full potential of the livestreaming model, adds Middleditch. “[Live streams are] never going to replace live – seeing something live is better than watching it on any device – but these kind of events provide so many opportunities for artists and fans.” Whether it’s instead of, or an addition to, an in-person live show, “people will be able to see artists live that they never could previously,” he concludes.
IQ launches new digital subscription
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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.
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.
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.
Communion launches livestream series Communion Presents
Communion Music, the UK-based promoter and record label, has announced Communion Presents, a new series of livestreamed performances and conversations with artists filmed at London venue Lafayette.
Communion Presents, hosted on livestreaming service LIVENow, will take the form of a weekly-30 minute show featuring two live performances and interviews hosted by Communion promoter Mazin Tappuni. The first episode goes live on Sunday 29 November and features performances by Olivia Dean and Louis Dunford.
Further confirmed guests include Apre, Chartreuse and Zola Courtney. The first series runs up to 27 December.
Each show will be broadcast for free on LIVENow, which is also home to upcoming live streams by Dua Lipa (Studio 2054) and Gorillaz (Song Machine Live) shows.
“We hope this series with our friends at LIVENow helps bring their live shows to your screens”
“Providing a stage for new music has always been at the heart of what we do at Communion,” comments Tappuni. “During this disaster of a year, we wanted to find a way to continue supporting exciting new artists and creating a livestreaming series seemed the right way to do it. There have been some fantastically memorable streamed shows over the past few months; Dermot Kennedy’s set at the Natural History Museum and Nick Cave’s masterclass at Alexandra Palace were among my favourites.
“Lafayette is London’s best new venue, and while you can’t come and see that for yourself yet, we hope these online shows offer up the next best opportunity to see what makes it so special.”
Lafayette, part of Ben Lovett’s Venue Group, opened in March in King’s Cross, London, with a show by Brit Award winner Dave winning artist, but less than a fortnight later was forced to close because of coronavirus. Lovett, a member of Mumford & Sons and co-founder of Communion, spoke about the impending launch of Lafeyette and his passion for grassroots venues at Futures Forum at ILMC 32.
Continues Tappuni: “2020 has undoubtedly been a difficult year for so many new artists, who haven’t had any opportunities to play in front of their new fans, and we hope this series with our friends at LIVENow helps bring their live shows to your screens.”