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Ditto Music launches artist management arm

Liverpool, UK-based digital distribution and label services company Ditto Music, which works with more than 200,000 artists and record labels globally, has launched artist management division Ditto Management.

The launch of Ditto Management, a standalone artist management division, sees Ditto Music, which has 20 offices worldwide, become the first distributor to also offer management services, according to the company. Ditto Management’s roster includes grime MC Big Zuu, DJ Nathan Dawe, R&B artist Bobii Lewis and singer-songwriter Nathan Brooks.

“While our competitors are investing in A&R bots and algorithms, we are putting our resources into people and building a new, fairer music industry where artists are partners, not employees,” says Lee Parsons, CEO of Ditto Music.

Leading the new company is Matt Dodds, previously of Jem Music Group, where he worked with Big Zuu and helped engineer Craig David’s comeback.

“While our competitors are investing in A&R bots and algorithms, we are putting our resources into people”

“Matt is one of the best managers we have worked with and these four artists in particular are amazingly talented and driven,” continues Parsons. “I count myself very lucky that this calibre of talent has entrusted Ditto with the next phases of their careers.”

Dodds says: “Ditto Management is a really exciting new venture and I’m honoured to be heading up the department. I believe having a management company which also offers the option of distribution is an exciting opportunity for any developing artist. The current roster are all acts that have the potential to do great things and I’m looking forward to building a team who share my same ambitions.”

Founded in 2006, Ditto Music has distributed the music of artists including Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Dave and AJ Tracey. Ditto Music’s roster also includes Chance the Rapper, Yxng Bane and D Block Europe.

 


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UTA signs ‘godfather of grime’ Wiley

United Talent Agency (UTA) in London has signed British grime star Wiley for worldwide representation.

The platinum-selling British rapper, real name Richard Cowie Jnr MBE, will be represented by a team of global agents at UTA, who in addition to touring will “explore opportunities for him across a wide scope of services”, including digital, branding, endorsements and TV.

Agent Billy Wood, who joined UTA from WME last March, says: “We are thrilled to be working with such an iconic tastemaker in music. He has played an integral role in elevating grime globally and still remains close to his roots. We look forward to working with Wiley and his team worldwide.”

Wiley was formerly represented by Wood at WME.

 


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‘This will help London thrive’: Met axes form 696

London’s Metropolitan police is to abolish form 696, the controversial risk-assessment document critics claim discriminates against grime and other predominantly black music, in a move welcomed by mayor Sadiq Khan.

Following a review process, which included consultations with local authorities, venues, the Musicians’ Union, London Promoter Forum and the Institute of Licensing, the Met announced today it is to abolish the form – which it acknowledged was perceived to “disproportionately affect” certain genres of music – in favour of a “new voluntary partnership approach” with venues and promoters in the city.

Form 696, introduced in 2005 in response to a number of shootings at club nights across London, requires potential licensees to list performers’ and promoters’ names, addresses and phone numbers, the style of music to be performed and the event’s target audience. It is the requests for information on genre and audience that are particularly controversial, with critics accusing the police of racial profiling by singling out primarily black musical styles such as grime, garage and bashment.

Ticketmaster’s latest State of Play report, which focuses on grime, revealed more than half the British general public believes the form to be discriminatory.

Half of UK population say form 696 is discriminatory

“It is clear that in recent years the landscape of the night time economy in London has changed, and thankfully we have seen a reduction in serious incidents at promoted music events, particularly those involving firearms,” says Met superintendent Roy Smith. “We have also been working in close partnership with the music industry and others to raise standards of safety in venues and at events.

“We have taken the decision to remove form 696 and instead develop a new voluntary partnership approach for venues and promoters across London. This will provide an excellent opportunity to share information at a local level and work to identify any enhanced risk to ensure the safety of the public.”

“This decision will … ensure the capital is a welcoming place for artists and DJs of all music genres”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan – a notable critic of form 696 – adds: “Developing a night-time economy that works for everyone is a key priority of mine, but it’s also vital that live music events in London take place safely. I called for a review of form 696 earlier this year because of concerns raised by promoters and artists in the capital that this process was unfairly affecting specific communities and music genres. […]

“This decision will help London’s night-time economy thrive, ensure the capital is a welcoming place for artists and DJs of all music genres and that Londoners are able to enjoy live music safely.”

He also praised the work of night czar Amy Lamé in securing the form’s repeal, saying that, “by bringing together the Met and representatives from across the city’s legendary grassroots music industry, we have shown why having a night czar is so important for London”.

“It’s great that mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London’s night czar, Amy Lamé, have listened to the concerns of the music industry”

Industry umbrella group UK Music also welcomed the decision to scrap form 696, with chief executive Michael Dugher commenting: “This is fantastic news. UK Music has campaigned to get rid of this unpopular restriction on our diverse and vibrant music scene.”

“It’s great that mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London’s night czar, Amy Lamé, have listened to the concerns of the music industry.” 

“We thank him for showing leadership on this important issue and ensuring that the London remains a world beater when it comes to our cultural music mix.”

 


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Half of UK population say form 696 is discriminatory

Controversial risk-assessment document form 696 has been thrust into the spotlight once more after a survey revealed almost half the British general public thinks the form is discriminatory against those forced to complete it.

New data released today by Ticketmaster shows 48% of those polled – a “nationally representative” sample of the British population – think the form is discriminatory because it only applies to certain events. Culture minister Matt Hancock and the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, are among those to have called for a review of form 696, which is used by London’s Metropolitan police to determine the potential level of risk involved in events where a DJ or MC is using a backing track.

Critics accuse the form – which asks for a description of the style of music and target audience, and is a requirement for promoters and licensees of events to complete 14 days before the event – of being anti-grime and urban music, as it as it disproportionally affects promoters of those shows.

The findings form part of Ticketmaster’s State of Play: Grime report, which follows similar investigations by the ticketing company into other sectors of the live industry, including theatre, comedy and dance music. The study, produced by Ticketmaster’s LiveAnalytics division in partnership with Disrupt and the University of Westminster’s black music research unit, is described as the “first comprehensive and academic study into public attitudes to grime and its political impact”.

Other findings of the report include:

Ticketmaster UK manager director Andrew Parsons comments: “This year’s State of Play report was especially exciting for us, as here at Ticketmaster we have witnessed firsthand the extraordinary rise of grime music from the increase in ticket sales for grime events. We partnered with Disrupt Creative and University of Westminster and set out to create the first set of granular data around grime and quantify its incredible popularity and influence in culture.”

“Grime is one of the great music genres to come out of London, and with international talent like Skepta as well as rising stars like Nadia Rose bringing grime to the world stage, it is little wonder this grassroots music movement is now becoming a huge part of mainstream culture,” adds London’s night czar, Amy Lamé. “At city hall, we are doing everything we can to safeguard grassroots music, showing the world that London is open to talent and creativity.

“As well as setting out measures to promote busking and protect grassroots music venues, we’ve made it clear that form 696 shouldn’t compromise the capital’s vibrant music industry or unfairly target one community or music genre. That is why we are working with the Met and London’s promoters, venues and artists to make sure London’s legendary music scene is the best and safest in the world.”

 


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London venue in racism row over axed Grenfell benefit

An east London bar and music venue has said it will positively discriminate to increase the diversity of its programming after the organiser of a fundraiser for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire was told its event would attract a “poor-quality demographic”.

Haqiqi Events, the London-based event planner behind the 29 June Cxlture show, postponed the event after being told by Jordan Wells, general manager of the 480-cap. Trapeze Bar (pictured), that the bashment and trap music artists it had booked are “crap”, and that the venue does “not entertain [these genres] as they attract [a] poor-quality demographic and result in problems”.

After posting a screenshot of Wells’s email online, Haqiqi postponed the event, which aimed to raise £1,000, saying it is “not associating with a business like this”. The company also accused Trapeze and owner Miroma Leisure of “racism”.

Haqiqi founder Taireen Hussain says the event will be rescheduled.

The row has echoes of the ongoing controversy over form 696, a risk-assessment form critics say discriminates against primarily black musical styles such as grime, garage and bashment.

“We have spoken with the promoters and offered them another date of their choice and offered to double the money raised on the night for Grenfell”

In a statement, Miroma washed its hands of the “unsolicited opinions from an employee of ours” and offered to double the amount raised by should Haqiqi wish to keep Cxlture at Trapeze.

“The owners of Trapeze apologise for the recent actions and opinions expressed by the Trapeze general manager,” it reads. “Trapeze [is] committed to a policy of welcoming all guests into the venue and does not discriminate in terms of race, age, colour, sex or national origin. The management team of Miroma Leisure, owners of Trapeze, are undertaking a full investigation of the matter and will take affirmative action following the outcome. We have spoken with the promoters and offered them another date of their choice and offered to double the money raised on the night for Grenfell as a gesture of goodwill.

“We plan to assist the promoters to raise awareness of the new date. We will be proud to announce the new date in due course and do everything possible to make the event a resounding success.”

Hussain said he “acknowledges” the apology but suggests the venue should make a “heavy donation” (emphasis his) to the victims of the fire. “Only then can we accept your apology on their behalf, but not before.”

 


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UK minister voices concerns over ‘anti-grime’ 696

Matt Hancock MP, the UK’s minister of state for digital and culture, has written to the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to express his concern that promoters of grime and other “urban music events” are being forced out of the capital by a controversial risk-assessment form.

‘Form 696′, a document issued by the Metropolitan police to those requesting permission to hold an event, requires potential licensees to list performers’ and promoters’ names, addresses and phone numbers, the style of music to be performed and the event’s target audience. It is the requests for information on genre and audience that are particularly controversial, with critics accusing the police of racial profiling by singling out primarily black musical styles such as grime, garage and bashment.

Hancock says form 696 risks hurting London’s embattled small-venue scene, which has only recently recovered after a long period of decline, by “pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events to take them outside London” to cities that don’t use the form.

In his letter, shared with The Independent, Hancock writes: “I am concerned that the form is not only potentially stifling young artists and reducing the diversity of London’s world-renowned musical offering, but is also having a negative impact on London’s night-time economy by pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events to take them outside London. This form is just used in London and not other UK cities.

“British music is successful because it is diverse. It is right that government is stepping in on this issue”

“I appreciate that form 696 is a risk assessment designed to allow the management of licensed premises, promoters of music events, event security and the police to work in partnership to identify and minimise any risk of serious crime happening at a proposed event. But I’m sure you will agree that anything which has the potential to impact negatively on free expression and London’s economy, while denying young people the opportunity to attend and perform at certain events, needs careful consideration.

“Genres of urban music like grime have the same significance for today’s young people as punk did in the 1970s, empowering them, creating a new generation of musical heroes and growing to become a worldwide phenomenon. I strongly believe that we should be encouraging and embracing all musical genres, building on London’s rich musical history as the city that gave us The Kinks, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and Amy Winehouse.

“I would like to understand whether you think form 696 is serving a justified purpose and working well, or whether there is a case for changing the current system.”

Music industry umbrella group UK Music says it welcomes Hancock’s intervention. Chief executive Jo Dipple comments: “UK Music thanks the minister, who has a track record of stepping in to support British musicians. [Hancock was also instrumental in brokering the impending ban on ticket bots.]

“Genres of urban music like grime have the same significance for today’s young people as punk did in the 1970s”

“It is important to make sure form 696 is not being unfairly used against particular musical genres. Discrimination against any musician damages all of us. It reduces the diversity of our output and limits our ability to reach our economic potential.

“We ask that anyone with first-hand experience of misuse of form 696 contacts UK Music. British music is successful because it is diverse. It is right that government is stepping in on this issue and we will work with the minister, the mayor’s office and the Metropolitan police to properly examine and address any misuse of this form.”

She adds, however, that her comments should be not construed as a “criticism of the Met police, who do amazing work in very difficult circumstances”.

 


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Festival Focus: Afropunk, Latitude, Chase Park

Grace Jones has been announced as the new headliner for the first Afropunk Fest London following the festival’s decision to drop MIA for criticising the Black Lives Matter protest movement.

The festival – the inaugural London edition of an event held in Brooklyn since 2005 and Paris since 2015 – said yesterday that “after discussing the situation with the artist and the community, a decision was agreed upon by all involved that MIA will no longer headline Afropunk London”.

In an interview with the Evening Standard in April, MIA (Mathangi Arulpragasam to her mum) called for Black Lives Matter supporters Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to highlight issues facing Syrians as well as black Americans.

Jamaican singer and actress Jones is also playing at Goldenvoice’s FYF Fest in Los Angeles in August.

Joey Purp, acityinthemidwest

Skepta will miss his second US festival of 2016 after once again failing to secure an American visa.

Chicago rapper Joey Purp will take the British grime artist’s place on the Perry’s stage at Lollapalooza next weekend.

Skepta, who has yet to comment, was forced to miss Coachella in April after he was denied entry to the US. (Joey Purp photo by acityinthemidwest.)

Ed Sheeran made a surprise appearance at Latitude for the second year running, joining Northern Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance – signed to Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man label – on Sunday 17 June.

Sheeran played a full had a full 75-minute surprise show at the Festival Republic event’s Sunrise Arena in 2015.

Latitude 2016 was headlined by Maccabees, The National and Joy Division alumni New Order, who closed the festival with signature song ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.

Katie Bermudez and Alex Haynes, the two people who lost their lives at Sunset Music Festival (SMF) in Tampa in May, overdosed on MDMA, it has been confirmed.

Following a postmortem examination, the Hillsborough Medical Examiner ruled the two deaths to be the result of “ecstasy abuse”. A spokesman for Tampa’s St Joseph’s Hospital said at the time the number of admissions of those suffering from adverse effects of drugs at the EDM event was “frightening”.

Jon McClure, Reverend and The Makers, Christophe Losberger

Reverend and the Makers will headline the sixth Chase Park Festival on 6 August. Billed as “Britain’s most inclusive festival”, Chase Park was founded by disabled student Paul Belk and is held in an accessible venue, Chase Park Neuro Centre, in Newcastle in the north-east of England.

Stornoway, Ben Ottewell, The Cornshed SistersBarry Hyde, SoShe, Jake Houlsby, The Sound Beams and Mirrors are also confirmed.

Belk describes the line-up as “our strongest yet”, with a “real mix of established and emerging bands different styles of music”.

The festival was the first outdoor event to be awarded silver status by accessibility charity Attitude is Everything, which earlier this month revealed that the number of deaf and disabled fans attending live music events increased by over a quarter last year(Jon McClure/Reverend and The Makers photo by Christophe Losberger/www.daily-rock.com.)

 

Nero, Ultra 2016, maxxcinema

And New Zealand’s Rhythm and Vines festival has declared it is to do away with bring-your-own (BYO) alcohol for this year on the advice of police and the local council.

The Gisborne festival, now in its 14th year, was  in 2014 was the site of a riot that left 83 injured, although police made just four arrests last year, despite “high levels of drunkenness”.

A line-up announcement is expected next month. Last year’s event was headlined Mac Miller, Nero and Angus and Julia Stone. (Nero photo by maxxcinema on Instagram.)

 


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