Eurosonic Noorderslag to go fully digital for 2021
Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) will now go ahead in a digital-only format next January as hopes for a part-virtual, part-physical format have been dashed by the current circumstances.
Organisers say that given the current situation and government guidelines (which ask residents to stay at home under the current lockdown), organising a physical edition is no longer feasible.
The 35th edition of the Groningen-based festival will take place between 13 to 16 January, as originally scheduled, but now on a digital platform.
Robert Meijerink, ESNS head of programme says: “Although we are sad that the acts, audience and music professionals cannot meet each other live in Groningen we think that’s it’s very important in these challenging times, to bring the people of the live music sector, artists, venues and festivals and media together during the digital edition of the ESNS and as the key exchange for emerging European music talent we will work hard to make sure we continue to provide that platform to new artists.”
“It’s very important in these challenging times to bring the people of the live music sector together”
The event’s digital edition will consist of Eurosonic, the showcase festival for emerging European talent; an online edition of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards ceremony; the celebration of native talent, Noorderslag; and this year’s conference, titled Road to Recovery.
“January 2021 is the perfect time to look ahead and discuss strategies around the re-opening of the live music scene as we know it and to evaluate where we are on medication, vaccine, and fast testing. Looking at the impact on mental health within the industry and finding solutions to sustainability will also be a focus as well as lobbying members of the European Parliament for support of the sector.”
Speakers confirmed for the upcoming edition include Paradigm agents Tom Windish and Mike Malak, Warner Music’s Scott Cohen, Raphaella Lima (EA Games) on music in games, and A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neil talking about the importance of sustainability.
Tickets for Eurosonic Noorderslag 2021 are available at a substantial discount of €50, which includes access to the digital environment with live streams, on-demand panels, keynotes, sessions and showcases, access to a networking platform and database.
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‘Change-seeking robot’ Miquela signs with CAA
Miquela, a singer, model, influencer and robot, has become the first-ever virtual client to sign with Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
The CGI-generated avatar, who was previously signed to WME, will be represented by CAA in all areas, including music, TV, film, brand strategy and commercial endorsements.
Created by robotics and artificial intelligence startup, Brud, Miquela was introduced to the world via her Instagram account in 2016. The avatar now has 2.2 million followers on the platform and almost 600,000 on TikTok.
Miquela, or Lil Miquela, as she is also known, has released a number of singles, including a recent collaboration with (human) singer Teyana Taylor called ‘Machine’. Software and pitch-correction tools are used to create Miquela’s vocal performances. It is unknown who provides her voice.
Described as a “change-seeking robot”, Miquela is currently raising money for the MusiCares Covid-19 relief fund on her Instagram page.
“Over the last few years, we’ve watched the team at Brud create a true multi-hyphenate in Miquela”
Non-human artists have appeared in all kinds of forms in recent years. Japanese vocaloid Hatsune Miku, who takes the holographic form of a blue-haired teenager, has performed live in Asia, North America and Europe. The vocaloid was due to play this year’s Coachella festival, which has now been postponed to October due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lil Mayo, an alien-meme-turned-Instagram-influencer, ranked in third place on IQ’s Radar Station chart in January. The alien puppet’s single ‘Be Gone Thot’ has almost 14m streams on Spotify and over 11m on YouTube.
“Over the last few years, we’ve watched the team at Brud create a true multi-hyphenate in Miquela,” says Adam Friedman, CAA global client strategy executive. “We are excited to jump in and help her navigate the world of television and film, and also see a unique opportunity for innovative, forward-thinking brands to align with a culturally relevant, icon-in-the-making.”
Founded in 2014, Brud has raised US$6.1m in funding from investors including Spark Capital, BoxGroup, Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund.
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Countdown to the Arthurs 2020: Andrew Parsons
Individuals and events will be crowned across 11 categories at the Arthur Awards Winners’ Dinner on 5 March, as the music industry’s response to the Oscars returns to the glamorous Sheraton Grand Park Lane hotel.
Last year’s 25th anniversary awards saw success for Britannia Row’s Bryan Grant, FKP Scorpio’s Folkert Koopmans, ICM Partners’ Kevin Jergensen and Live Nation’s Selina Emeny, as well as the teams at the Royal Albert Hall, British Summer Time Hyde Park and Mad Cool Festival, among others.
As the Emma Banks-hosted ceremony draws ever closer, IQ chats to some previous winners to find out what receiving an Arthur meant to them and to discover their biggest hopes and dreams for the future.
Up first is Andrew Parsons, managing director of the UK division of Ticketmaster, four-time recipients of the Arthurs’ Golden Ticket award.
Arthur has been very kind to us over the years. Well, every other year really but who’s counting? (I am). It is always great to receive recognition from within the industry but all the more so from a room full of event partners past, present and future to whom we owe so much. Even if half of them won’t remember who actually won anything come that painful next morning!
Arthur resides on the edge of a desk, where all awards should be kept. He unfortunately took a bit of a battering on the night though from victory laps with team TM. So, Arthur’s head is now somewhat disconnected from his pedestal.
It is always great to receive recognition from within the industry, all the more so from a room full of event partners past, present and future
Emma Banks’ regal-like presenting performance at the Arthurs is always very good value. And Alex Hardee’s stand-up routines are now pretty legendary. Overall though, it is that the awards do not take themselves too seriously that makes them so unique and such a positive experience – nothing that will overly get in the way of a good dinner with friends.
ILMC is a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from other territories. Our Ticketmaster Australia ticketing cousins always live up superbly well to all the stereotypes and are a guaranteed excellent night out every time.
On a serious note to finish, 2019 was the year we brought accessible ticketing online and mobile. All fans should be able to have the same level of access to buying tickets the way they want on any given on sale and we were determined to make that happen. It was also the year that digital tickets exploded onto the scene opening up so many opportunities. We can’t wait to see where 2020 takes us.
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‘A world of opportunity’: TikTok talks music marketing
With an estimated 500 million monthly users – the majority under 30, and many of them teenagers – short-form video app TikTok has quickly established itself as the go-to social platform for many Gen Z-ers.
Along with its predecessor, Musical.ly, TikTok has made stars out of ‘influencers’ like Baby Ariel, Jacob Sartorius, Riyaz Afreen and the Dobre Twins, and its young users helped meme Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ – which went viral on TikTok (as part of the ‘Yeehaw challenge’) before receiving mainstream recognition – to the top of charts worldwide.
IQ caught up with Farhad Zand, head of music partnerships for TikTok Europe, to find out why TikTok works well for music discovery and marketing, the appeal of short-form video, and how concert businesses can reach its growing user base…
IQ: Let’s start with the basics. In layman’s terms, what is TikTok and what does it do?
FZ: TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is the best way to understand what our platform is all about: we want to inspire and enrich people’s lives by offering a home for creative expression and an experience that is genuine, joyful and positive.
For our users, TikTok offers a window to the world with an intelligent discovery process. Video recommendations are personalised to each user based on their preferences, meaning everyone receives a unique and compelling viewing experience.
Our platform empowers creativity through 15- or 60-second videos; we believe short-form videos are an effective way to lower the barrier for content creation. This has empowered our community to create their own internet culture and trends. Fun music-related trends started on TikTok include the Adele gummy-bear challenge and the recent #GitUpChallenge, featuring ‘The Git Up’ by Blanco Brown.
How long has TikTok been around, and how does lip-syncing app Musical.ly fit into the picture?
TikTok launched globally in 2017 and later that year, ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, bought Musical.ly and merged the two apps. We entered the European market in August 2018 and TikTok is currently available in 150 markets and 75 languages.
When people talk about Musical.ly, they often know about how it was used for lip-syncing. Today, however, TikTok is about much more than just lip-syncing. We have a truly global community of authentic creators. Some of the most popular content includes comedy, sports, pets, music and dance.
“Our community enjoys creating and sharing content that is authentic and fun. This opens a world of opportunities to music and festival promoters”
How many users do you have, and what does the average TikToker look like?
I don’t think we have an average user, which is what I love about TikTok. You will find some celebrities on TikTok, you will find our own ‘TikTok stars’ – and you will also find that we have lots of brilliantly creative people using the platform to have fun, from nurses to firefighters to grannies. This represents the essence of the platform: a place where you can be genuine, real and discover other people like you.
While we don’t currently disclose our usage figures, we are growing fast and we’re thrilled with the growth that we have seen so far.
What are some of the ways live music companies can incorporate TikTok into their marketing?
TikTok supports the music industry by offering a unique platform for music to live. Artists can promote their music to a global audience and build a strong and engaged fanbase. We have seen new musical talents discovered due to unprecedented viral trends created on TikTok, such as Lil Nas X or, most recently, DJ Regard.
Over 70% of our videos have music attached to them and their content is often created as a response to the song. The TikTok community loves music and our community enjoys creating and sharing content that is authentic and fun. This opens a world of opportunities to music or festival promoters, and we have a dedicated music team that can support promoters and marketers to achieve their goals.
Every campaign is different; there is no one size fits all. Our music team has the knowledge and expertise to advise promoters and marketers on the best strategy to achieve their results, whether they are big or small players in the market.
“There’s huge potential for the music industry to connect with its global community in a meaningful, engaging and positive way”
How are artists utilising the TikTok platform?
Over the past 12 months, we are proud to have welcomed outstanding British musicians including Ed Sheeran, Mabel, Lewis Capaldi, Four Diamonds, Jax Jones, Little Mix and many more to the TikTok community.
One of the most popular hashtag challenges was launched by Ed Sheeran. With over 300 million views during the first six days, the #BeautifulPeople challenge incentivised our community to share a moment with the most special and beautiful people in their lives.
For any artist considering how best to use TikTok, it’s important to remember that our platform is all about positivity and having fun. It’s why Lewis Capaldi was an immediate success – his content is fun and spontaneous.
For the music industry, what advantages does TikTok have over other social media services?
Unlike other platforms, TikTok is based on a content graph instead of a social graph. What this means in practice is that the quality of the content you see is what’s most important – not who you follow or how many followers you have.
Our community loves content that is authentic, entertaining and which reduces the distance between the fans, artist, band or show. There’s huge potential for the music industry to connect with its global community in a meaningful, engaging and positive way.
Our focus is on building the best product for our users while creating a community that is joyful, positive and safe. We want to continue to be a platform for music to live in its various forms, working closely with artists, labels and other industry players to support them connect with our global and engaged community.
Live royalties growth surpasses radio/TV in 2018
Music collections grew almost 2% in 2018, generating €8.5 billion, with the growth of live/background music royalties surpassing that of frontrunner TV/radio.
The most recent figures released by Cisac, the association that represents global copyright collection societies, show the traditional revenue streams of TV, radio, live and background music – that played in restaurants, bars and clubs – “continue to be the backbone of royalties collections”, despite the “mass migration to digital channels” in recent years.
In Cisac’s Global Collections Report 2019, which documents overall royalties collected in the areas of music, audiovisual, visual arts, drama and literature, the association’s director general, Gadi Oron, puts “comparatively modest” growth down to the “devaluing effect of the exceptionally strong euro”.
Revenue from live and background music combined has grown 0.8% from 2017 to €2.6bn, while TV and radio has seen a decline of 3.1%, generating €3.3bn.
In conjunction with TV/radio’s decline, live/background royalty collections surpass that of broadcast in Italy and Chile. Live and background royalties reach €322 million in Italy (-0.9% year-on-year) and CLP10,960m, or €13.43m, in Chile (+8.4% YOY).
“The large traditional revenue streams continue to be the backbone of royalties collections”
Europe remains the largest region for collections, generating over 50% of global music revenues. According to the report, the live music sector “continues to grow healthily across Europe, with strong demand for concerts and festivals.” Live/background collections lead the way in Europe, rising 1.4% in 2018 to €1.7bn, and by 11% over the past five years.
Live collections are also up in Asia-Pacific by 3.1% to €306m and 2.2% in Canada/USA to €345m. Elsewhere, royalties are down -0.9% in Africa (17m) and 9.5% to €194m in Latin America and the Caribbean, where live music still remains the leading source of collections.
Digital is where Cisac president Jean-Michael Jarre sees the “future”, with increasing subscription revenues driving growth of 185% over the past five years.
“More than ever, societies are working in a landscape of fragmenting income sources,” writes Oron. “This calls for more versatility: protecting the large traditional collections streams of live, background and broadcast, while striking new deals to monetise creators’ works on YouTube, Facebook and other digital platforms. The role of authors’ societies in generating monetary value for millions of creators has never been more vital.”
Forum Melbourne to be first fully digital venue in Oz
Forum Melbourne (2,000-cap.) will be the first venue in Australia to adopt a fully mobile ticketing service, powered by Ticketmaster.
The partnership between Ticketmaster and Marriner Group will allow the venue operator to utilise the latest tool in Ticketmaster’s portfolio, offering fans an easy and secure ticketing system.
“Digital ticketing is the future and our partnership with Marriner Group is another step in our mission to put mobile first,” says Maria O’Connor, managing director of Ticketmaster Australia and New Zealand.
“Getting the technology live across all shows at the iconic Forum Melbourne is a huge milestone in this journey making fans lives easier,” adds O’Connor. “By replacing paper and print-at-home tickets we can speed up venue access, while also protecting venues against fraud and enhancing security overall.”
The launch of mobile ticketing at Forum Melbourne follows a successful roll out of digital tickets for the Harry Potter And The Cursed Child theatre shows at Marriner Group’s Princess Theatre in Melbourne.
“Getting the technology live across all shows at the iconic Forum Melbourne is a huge milestone in this journey making fans lives easier”
Speaking of the experience at Princess Theatre, Marriner Group director Kayely Marriner comments: “The platform is extremely user-friendly and convenient.”
The first events to go on sale at Forum Melbourne with 100% digital tickets will be shows for Maribou State, James Blake and Tycho, promoted by Secret Sounds.
“Innovating is critical to us here at Secret Sounds,” says co-chief executive. Paul Piticco. “A fully digital ticketing system means less scalping, safe and easy transfer to friends, and a better environmental outcome by not printing or producing tickets. We are in!”
As part of its digital ticketing service, Ticketmaster recently launched SafeTix in the United States. SafeTix issues tickets with encrypted, automatically refreshing barcodes, preventing duplication and allowing organisers to identify each attendee at their event.
Superstar UK YouTuber Jacksepticeye signs with WME
William Morris Endeavor (WME) has added to its growing roster of digital stars by signing popular YouTuber Jacksepticeye from its London office.
Irish-born, British-based Jacksepticeye, real name Sean McLoughlin, has more than 21 million YouTube subscribers (50th in the world), along with nearly 6m followers on Instagram and 5m on Twitter. McLoughlin is best known for his ‘Let’s Play’ gaming series and vlogs of his life, and has also embarked on a live career with his How Did We Get Here tour, which played mid-sized venues in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Representation by WME is for all areas, and sees McLoughlin join a digital roster that also includes internet personalities Joe Sugg, Andrea Russett and Jake Paul. He continues to be represented by manager Nicole Graboff and lawyers Ryan Pastorek and Adam Kaller.
All major Hollywood agencies, including WME, CAA, UTA and Paradigm, have rosters that include YouTubers and other digital ‘influencers’, and the trend has in the past few years crossed the Atlantic, thanks to the success of events including Summer in the City and the Meet and Greet Convention.
“The market is definitely getting bigger, and there’s no reason at all why this can’t be an arena-level headline business in the next three to five years,” WME London agent Alex Bewley told IQ in 2017. “Rather than just clicking a ‘like’ button on Facebook or subscribing to a YouTube channel, fans are increasingly buying tickets to see a show by their favourite creators.”
“A setback but not the end”: Rights bodies lament Article 13 defeat
Collecting societies and performance rights organisations across Europe have reacted with disappointment to the rejection of the proposed EU Copyright Directive by MEPs earlier today.
In the run-up to today’s vote, music industry bodies and their counterparts in the tech sector were sharply divided on the merits of the new directive, especially its controversial Article 13: songwriters’ representatives say the legislation would ensure fair remuneration of creators when their works are used online, while internet freedom activists, including the web’s creator, Tim Berners Lee, have said it would transform the internet into a “tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.
The directive’s critics are particularly concerned that Article 13 – which would compel “online content sharing service providers”, such as social networks or video-sharing sites like YouTube, to take “effective and proportionate” measures to combat the sharing of copyrighted works – would require the implementation of automated copyright checking systems, dubbed “censorship machines” or “upload filters”.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted this morning 318–278 in favour of rejecting the bill in its current form, with a further plenary session debating its content set for September. “I regret that a majority of MEPs did not support the position which I and the legal affairs committee have been advocating,” says German MEP Axel Voss. But this is part of the democratic process. We will now return to the matter in September for further consideration and attempt to address people’s concerns while bringing our copyright rules up to date with the modern digital environment.”
Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of the UK’s PRS for Music, says lobbying by big tech companies – if you believe UK Music, €31m from Google alone – influenced the outcome of the vote. “It is perhaps unsurprising, considering the unprecedented level of lobbying and the comprehensive campaign of misinformation which has accompanied this vote, that MEPs want more time to consider the proposals,” says Ashcroft.
“The vote showed that many MEPs across the various European political parties understand the importance of fixing the transfer of value and of a well-functioning market for copyright. We appreciate their support and hope that as we move forward to the plenary debate in September, more MEPs will recognise the unique opportunity to secure the EU’s creative industries.
“We will not be discouraged by today’s decision, and will continue to mobilise the support of musicians and music lovers across the world”
“From the outset, our primary focus of this legislation has been concerned with whether or not the internet functions as a fair and efficient marketplace – and currently, for artists and authors, it doesn’t. They want their creative works to be heard, they embrace technology, but they want to be paid fairly. We will continue to fight for what we believe is their freedom and a fair use of their creative works.”
David El Sayegh, the secretary-general of PRS’s French counterpart, Sacem, comments: “This vote is a setback but it is not the end. Sacem remains dedicated to ensuring that creators are recognised and remunerated for the value of their work. We will not be discouraged by today’s decision and will continue to mobilise the support of musicians and music lovers across the world, in the hopes of reaching a fair agreement with these platforms that will safeguard the future of the music industry.
“We are confident that the European Parliament will eventually support a framework that fully acknowledges the rights of creators in the digital landscape of the 21st century.”
BPI, the association of UK record labels and organiser of the Brit Awards, says in a statement: “We respect the decision by MEPs to have a plenary discussion on the draft Copyright Directive. We will work with MEPs over the next weeks to explain how the proposed directive will benefit not just European creativity, but also internet users and the technology sector.”
Gesac (the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers), which represents 31 collection societies, says the defeat marks a “missed opportunity to fix the current unfairness in the digital market once and for all”.
“The EU parliament has recognised that machine censorship of copyrighted material is not an easy and simple fix”
“This vote was never about censorship or freedom of speech. It was only about updating the copyright rules for the 21st century and ensuring that creators get a fair remuneration when their works are used in the digital space,” says Gesac president Anders Lassen. “[U]nfortunately, manipulative campaigns orchestrated by tech giants, based on scaremongering, prevailed on this occasion. We are confident that the European Parliament will finally approve what is right for the future of the EU’s economy, competitiveness and fundamental values against these global forces”.
While PRS and their allies have sought to paint the ‘no’ vote as a temporary stay on the legislation while MEPs consider their options, the directive’s opponents are, unsurprisingly, claiming victory in what privacy campaigner Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, calls “round one of the robo-copyright wars”.
“The EU parliament has recognised that machine censorship of copyrighted material is not an easy and simple fix. They’ve heard the massive opposition, including internet blackouts and 750,000 people petitioning them against these proposals.
“Everyone across Europe who wants this fixed will have to work hard to make sure that parliament comes up with a sensible way forward by September.”
Meanwhile, Julia Reda, an MEP for Pirate Party Germany, tweeted that anti-Article 13 campaigners’ “protests have worked”:
Great success: Your protests have worked! The European Parliament has sent the copyright law back to the drawing board. All MEPs will get to vote on #uploadfilters and the #linktax September 10–13. Now let's keep up the pressure to make sure we #SaveYourInternet! pic.twitter.com/VwqAgH0Xs5
— Julia Reda (@Senficon) July 5, 2018
The next vote will take place from 10 to 13 September 2018.
This article will be updated.
Music biz, internet on collision course ahead of Article 13 vote
Musicians, songwriters, collection societies and music industry associations are urging European parliamentarians to vote in favour of Article 13 tomorrow, as the gulf widens between supporters and critics who warn the controversial new EU Copyright Directive could “destroy the internet as we know it”.
French collection society/performance rights organisation Sacem today became the latest organisation to come out in favour of the Copyright Directive, saying its Article 13 – which would compel “online content sharing service providers”, such as social networks or video-sharing sites like YouTube, to take “effective and proportionate” measures to combat the sharing of copyrighted works – would end a culture in which digital platforms act as “free riders, pocketing the value of these creative works and failing to pass this value onto its creators”.
“Online content sharing service platforms have become an integral part of the musical ecosystem, acting as the main access point to enjoy and share music. However, these platforms currently benefit from the uploading and sharing of creative works but do not remunerate artists for the value of their work,” says Sacem secretary-general David El Sayegh.
“The value gap this generates is a real threat to the longer term viability of the creative industries worldwide,” he adds.
Sacem’s intervention – which comes the day after the Italian Wikipedia blocked users from viewing any of its pages, in protest at the legislation, which co-founder Jimmy Wales calls “a serious threat to our mission”– serves to illustrate the stark contrast between the rhetoric coming from the music industry and that of tech companies and internet culture more widely.
While artists such as Sir Paul McCartney claim the directive “would address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators”, critics claim Article 13 would transform the internet from an open platform for the sharing of information into “a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.
“It isn’t censorship to allow artists the right to choose to be paid for their work”
Writing last month to European Parliament president Antonio Tajani MEP, more than 70 tech luminaries, including Wales and the creator of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, said the proposals present an “imminent threat to the future of this global network [the internet]”.
Of particular concern is the text of Article 13, whose provision for “effective and proportionate” efforts to remove – and prevent the reappearance of – copyrighted content, say opponents, would require the implementation of automated copyright checking systems, dubbed “censorship machines” by critics.
“We support the consideration of measures that would improve the ability for creators to receive fair remuneration for the use of their works online,” reads the letter. “But we cannot support Article 13, which would mandate internet platforms to embed an automated infrastructure for monitoring and censorship deep into their networks.
“For the sake of the internet’s future, we urge you to vote for the deletion of this proposal.”
Internet freedom activists additionally claim Article 13 would effectively ban memes – the internet fads, often in the form of a humorous picture or video overlaid with text, that spread virally across the web – leading creators to repackage popular memes sans copyrighted material, to highlight what they see as the absurdity of the proposed legislation.
However, writing in MBW last week, Crispin Hunt, chair of the British Association of Composers, Songwriters and Authors, accused Article 13’s critics of “relying wholly on an ability to weave a narrative that has no relationship to fact”.
“Article 13 would mandate internet platforms to embed an automated infrastructure for monitoring and censorship”
“The reality is that Article 13 is hardly revolutionary,” says Hunt. “It is a modest proposal that returns some sense of fairness and responsibility to the manner in which internet platforms operate. We have had almost 20 years of experience under the existing regime, where platforms have almost no accountability to the public, and in which they are rewarded for wilful blindness and inaction.”
He concludes by urging European policymakers to “reject the incoherent anti-Article 13 lobbying” for “the sake of European culture, our democratic political institutions and our economic well-being”.
Umbrella body UK Music, meanwhile, yesterday fired an extraordinary broadside at Google for what it calls a “big-money” lobbying campaign aimed at scuppering Article 13 “because it would force the tech giant to pay much higher fees for the music it streams on YouTube”.
“Google has made vast sums of money behaving like a corporate vulture, feeding off the creators and investors who generate the music content shared by hundreds of millions on YouTube,” says chief executive Michael Dugher. “These EU copyright changes are aimed at ending an injustice that has seen Google’s YouTube and other big tech firms ripping off creators for far too long.”
According to UK Music, Google has spent a combined €31m on lobbying to that end, including through two European Parliament industry forums.
“These new figures expose the fact that Google is acting like a monolithic megacorp, trying to submerge the truth under a tsunami of misinformation and scare stories pedalled by its multi-million propaganda machine,” continues Dugher.
“Google has made vast sums of money behaving like a corporate vulture”
“Instead of mounting a cynical campaign, motivated entirely out of its self-interested desire to protect its huge profits, Google should be making a positive contribution to those who create and invest in the music. MEPs should ignore the big money lobbying from big tech and back fair rewards for creators.”
Unsurprisingly, each side accuses the other of peddling falsehoods: in a blog post yesterday, Robert Ashcroft, CEO of PRS for Music, criticised “the internet giants and the consumer organisations they fund” for “whipp[ing] up a social media storm of misinformation about the proposed changes in order to preserve their current advantage”; respected tech site Techdirt hit back by saying the collection society is spreading “intellectually dishonest bullshit”, with the aim of ensuring “every platform will just buy a licence [from PRS] and only allow uploads from artists it represents”.
“It isn’t censorship to allow artists the right to choose to be paid for their work,” counters Geoff Taylor, CEO of the Brit Awards. “The right to an income provides the basic artistic freedom for musicians to be what they have always been: rebels and revolutionaries, entrepreneurs, counter-cultural campaigners, our conscience and our inspiration.
“Memes will continue to flood our Instagram feeds over an internet that won’t break, any more than the last time the tech lobby cried wolf to oppose creators’ rights. Maybe it is time for the tech companies just to say what they mean: ‘We prefer to make billions of dollars out of music and other content without paying the people who make it.’”
MEPs will vote to fairly reward music creators/destroy the internet (delete as appropriate) at 12 noon UK/central European time tomorrow.
The evolution of the internet for a DIY artist
Working with punk rock and DIY acts over the years has taught me the importance of respecting and cultivating a community.
With technology catapulting our artists’ work on a global scale, allowing them to create their own communities to speak and listen to, we are in a new and exciting era of the music business. DIY artists currently have the ability to create a powerful and, if properly tuned, extremely beneficial digital engine.
Six months ago, two digital agents joined the UTA team here in London, bringing enthusiasm and access to digital strategy, and giving our music agents a new dimension of representation.
I’ve since found myself in conversations advising clients on how to effectively fine-tune their digital engine online, and how to think differently about new technology. Similarly, brand partnerships, if executed correctly, can help finance an artist’s creative pursuit in the digital space. I have witnessed this with clients becoming plugged into a larger team in our North American offices.
When it comes to the essentials of my job as an agent, crafting tours for clients, I too have had to evolve. Being able to make well informed (yet still gut-instinct) decisions with promoters on when and where we tour and how we market to fans is something we still do every day, but exactly how an agent discovers, markets and tours an artist has changed. We no longer rely on traditional indicators like radio and TV stats – now analysing digital stats has become the norm. Tour marketing is vital to our thinking, and knowing how an artist directly communicates with his or her fan base is key to effectively crafting a marketing campaign.
We have created tours from scratch for acts on my roster in this new era. Take for example the Juno award winners for group of the year 2016, Walk Off the Earth. The act first made a name for themselves with unique cover versions on YouTube, including a cover of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ (with all band members playing on one single guitar). Access to YouTube enabled them to create videos gaining a significant amount of online attention (they currently have over 660 million views on their YouTube channel). To harness this fan base and build up their headline touring, we scrapped the traditional tour-marketing model in order to emphasise digital marketing – a tactic that is now our norm. Consequently, Walk Off the Earth sold out London’s Roundhouse without a shred of print advertising.
“Working with punk rock and DIY acts has taught me the importance of respecting and cultivating a community”
When I discovered them through their managers Marc and Jonathan (the MGMT Company), the band was selling out 1,000-cap. venues with no radio or traditional street promotion. They soon sold out venues across North America and Europe, like London’s Brixton Academy, and Paris Olympia, and are booked for festivals such as Lollapalooza Paris, Pinkpop and Mad Cool Festival Madrid.
Another client of ours, Jacob Sartorius, a 14-year-old actor, musician and all-round entertainer, is evolving from online stardom to the mainstream by following a path of his own. Sartorius ignited the Musical.ly movement and is now one of the app’s largest users with 17 million followers. Now, his own music is being consumed in the tens of millions on YouTube, Spotify, etc. His first self-released single, ‘Sweatshirt’, achieved RIAA Gold status in America last year; he self-released his first EP, The Last Text, in January 2017, with an accompanying video gaining over 8 million views on YouTube. The release coincided with a world tour within which his first ever European dates sold over 10,000 tickets.
While crafting that new tour earlier this year, we looked at things in an innovative way – our digital department was able to study a number of online analytics. That intelligence pointed geographically to cities where we could discuss headline shows with promoters. It was then a matter of developing marketing plans to amplify what would be broadcast on Sartorius’s social channels to promote the tour. Sartorius’s fans listen to his music on YouTube, but his footprint on Facebook and Instagram are now substantial enough to invest marketing dollars for touring in those locations that made sense – money well spent.
That said, on one of Sartorius’s shows, we sold a 1,200-cap. room with very little spent on advertising. You don’t always have to spend big, but rather spend wisely.
Digital strategies are being used across our global roster and the ability to amplify creativity grows by the day. However, one thing still hasn’t changed – if artists deliver a good show, fans will always come back, spread the word and support them.