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UK targets “special summer” with new test events

Upcoming major events such as the Brit Awards and FA Cup final may be run as ‘pilot’ events designed to trial the return of large, non-socially distanced audiences to UK venues, culture minister Oliver Dowden has said.

In an interview published in yesterday’s Sunday Times, Dowden, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said the British government will use a dozen events held in late April and May to test allowing spectators to return to sports venues, theatres and nightclubs without social distancing. Currently, under prime minister Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ out of the UK’s latest lockdown, all restrictions on indoor gatherings are set to be lifted from 21 June.

Among the 12 events observed under the so-called Events Research Programme (ERP), said Dowden, could be the World Snooker Championship final, held at the 980-seat Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on 17 April; football’s FA Cup final, staged at Wembley Stadium (90,000-seat) on 15 May; and the UK music industry’s main annual awards ceremony, the Brits, which are scheduled to return to the O2 (20,000-cap.) in London on 11 May.

According to the BBC, the government hopes up to 20,000 fans could attend the FA Cup match – double the 10,000 people who will be permitted at outdoor events in England from 17 May.

Other ERP events will take place at a nightclub, a comedy club and a conference venue, according to Dowden’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

“These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing”

Brits organiser BPI said last autumn that it is planning for the awards – which traditionally take place in February – to return with a “spectacular event” in May. The 40th Brit Awards took place in February 2021, a month before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of the O2 and other venues. IQ has contacted the Brit Awards for comment on the 2021 event.

According to DCMS, the ERP will use a range of “non-pharmaceutical” methods to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at the events, including pre- and post-event testing, enhanced ventilation, novel venue lay-outs and the monitoring fans’ movements and interactions.

‘These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing. We will be guided by the science and medical experts, but will work flat out to make that happen,” says Dowden. “We want to get the people back to enjoying what they love and ensure some of our most important growth industries get back on their feet.

“These are important steps towards the safe and special summer we all crave, and that I’m fully focused on delivering.”

 


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TikTok displays live potential at 2020 Brits

The 2020 Brit Awards took place on Tuesday night (18 February) at the O2 Arena in London in a special, live-focused ceremony.

Performances on the night came from double award-winner Lewis Capaldi (best new artist, song of the year), album of the year winner Dave, Brits rising star Celeste, Mabel (female solo artist), Lizzo, Sir Rod Stewart and international female solo artist winner Billie Eilish, who debuted the new James Bond theme song at the event.

The Brit Awards changed a few things up for 2020, reducing prize categories from 14 to 9, upping the number of live performances and allowing artists more creative freedom.

Another new addition for this year was the partnership with video-sharing social networking platform TikTok.

The partnership, which is part of a wider programme to showcase TikTok’s potential for the live industry, saw the platform transmit key moments from the Brits directly to digital screens at London’s Piccadilly Circus.

“We see this BRITs partnership as one of the major milestones in a big education push we have for the UK music industry this year”

Via TikTok, Lewis Capaldi became the first artist to perform on the Brits red carpet, later singing a duet backstage with male solo artist winner Stormzy. TikTok users were also encouraged to take part in the #RedCarpetReady hashtag challenge – an interactive competition in which users post videos with a specific hashtag – and use the Brits ‘Jump In’ sticker.

To further elaborate on the platform’s compatibility with live, TikTok’s head of UK music operations Paul Hourican is delivering a workshop at the International Live Music Conference in March, explaining how artists, promoters, agents and festival organisers can capitalise on TikTok’s reach.

“On TikTok, artists can reach listeners at lighting speed and build authentic fanbases – it’s a unique connection between artists and fans that we want even more artists and fans to benefit from – as well as the discovery opportunities TikTok brings for success off-platform,” says Rich Waterworth, general manager of TikTok UK.

“We see this BRITs partnership as one of the major milestones in a big education push we have for the UK music industry this year.”

The full list of Brit 2020 winners can be found below:

Female solo artist: Mabel
Male solo artist: Stormzy
Best group: Foals
Song of the year: Lewis Capaldi – ‘Someone You Loved’
Mastercard album of the year: Dave – Psychodrama
Best new artist: Lewis Capaldi
International female solo artist: Billie Eilish
International male solo artist: Tyler The Creator
Rising star: Celeste

 


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Billie Eilish to debut Bond theme at 2020 Brits

Billie Eilish will perform the official theme song to the new James Bond film live for the first time at the Brit Awards 2020 on Tuesday 18 February.

The Paradigm-repped artist, who recently became the second artist ever to take home all four top awards at the Grammys, is debuting ‘No Time to Die’ with her brother and producer Finneas, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and an orchestral arrangement by Hans Zimmer and Matt Dunkley.

Eilish is nominated for the international female solo artist award at the Brits, along with Ariana Grande, Lana Del Rey, Lizzo and Camila Cabello.

Taking place at London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, other performances at the live-focused event will come from Brits rising star winner Celeste, Dave, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Lizzo, Mabel and Stormzy and will be hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall.

London rapper Dave and scottish singer Lewis Capaldi lead the way with Brit nominations this year, with four apiece for male solo artist, song of the year, album of the year and best new artist.

Billie Eilish will perform the official theme song to the new James Bond film live for the first time at the Brit Awards 2020

Mabel is also nominated for multiple awards, appearing in the female solo artist, song of the year and best new artist nominees. Across the eight categories awarded on the night, the singer is the only woman to receive a nomination outside of the female-only awards, asides from Miley Cyrus’ feature on Mark Ronson’s ‘Nothing Breaks Like a Heart’ in the song of the year category.

Stormzy – who is this year headlining Reading and Leeds, Pohoda and Sziget – is up for male solo artist, song of the year and album of the year.

The Brits is this year partnering with short-form mobile video platform TikTok, which will livestream the arrival of nominees and others on the Brits red carpet, including an exclusive live performance from Lewis Capaldi.

“Our BRITs 2020 partnership is part of a wider UK programme that aims at collaborating with and educating labels, managers and artists to make the most out of the platform, taking advantage of TikTok’s unique creativity to engage with their fans and connect with a new global audience,” comments Paul Hourican, TikTok’s head of music operations, UK.

Hourican will be delivering a workshop on how music industry professionals can make the most of TikTok at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) on 4 March.

The Brit Awards 2020 is taking place on Tuesday 18 February at the O2, broadcast live on ITV from 7.30 p.m.

 


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Live music to take centre stage at the Brits 2020

Organisers of the 2020 Brit Awards have announced changes to the format and content of next year’s ceremony, which will include fewer awards and more live performances to mark the event’s 40th year.

The 2020 Brit Awards, which take place on Tuesday 18 February at London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, will impose no creative limitations on artists performing at the ceremony.

Last year’s Brits saw performances from Hugh Jackman, Calvin Harris, Sam Smith, Dua Lipa, Pink, Jorja Smith, the 1975 and Jess Glynne, among others.

The number of awards handed out on the night will be reduced from 14 to 9, with the removal of the international group, Brits global success, British artist video, best British producer and outstanding contribution to music categories.

All winners will be decided by the 2020 official voting academy, comprised of 1,200 individuals, including artists, promoters, agents, publishers and label representatives. There will be no element of fan vote.

Several categories will also be renamed, with the critics’ choice becoming rising star, best British single restyled as song of the year and British breakthrough act now known as best new artist. All categories will refer to solely British artists, unless otherwise stated.

“We will be putting creativity, British culture and exceptional performances at the heart of the show”

The panel of judges for the new-look critics’ choice category will include live music bookers, songwriters and producers, as well as the traditional music editors, critics and radio station heads.

The recipient of the Rising Star Award will receive a performance slot during the show. The award is open to British artists who have not yet achieved either a recording in the Official Charts UK Top 20 Artist Album Chart, or two recordings in the Top 20 Singles Chart.

“We have had a fresh look at the Brit Awards this year. Most importantly we will be putting creativity, British culture and exceptional performances at the heart of the show to make Brits night a world class celebration,” comments David Joseph, chairman of the Brits Committee for 2020 and chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK.

“The awards should be a global platform for the artists of the year to create moments that live beyond the night itself. We are looking at everything to put on the best possible show.”

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI and Brit Awards Ltd adds that: “The Brits Committee will endeavour to make the 2020 Brits a truly landmark event, highlighting not only another remarkable 12 months in the British music year to a growing global audience, but also paying tribute to many unforgettable Brits moments that are now part of a rich and much loved heritage.”

Winners of last year’s Brit Awards include Little Mix, George Ezra, Jorja Smith, the 1975, Tom Walker, the Carters, Drake, Ariana Grande Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa, Pink and Sam Fender.

 


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