Welcome to our weekly digest of live music news and events in industry, academia and more.
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This Week’s Blog Post
This post is part of an occasional series originating from ‘The Musicians’ Union: A Social History’ – an AHRC and ESRC funded research project based in the School of Culture and Creative Arts at the University of Glasgow. Here, Martin Cloonan describes the Union’s dispute – up to and including appearances in court – with George Formby’s musical director Bill Main, and how they illustrate the legal and political climate around labour relations of the era.
One To Watch
A study that conducts a comparative life cycle carbon audit to examine the environmental burdens of ticketing options. It adopts a holistic perspective that contributes to understanding relationships between service relationships and exposes significant burdens in individual ticketing options. For comparison each activity involved in the ticketing life cycle – from ticket printing and email creation to delivery and processing – are modelled.
The study was produced for We Got TIckets by En-Count, a sustainability consultancy based in Edinburgh, UK specialising in life cycle assessments and offering impartial carbon and life cycle impacts of products and services.
Live Music News:
AEG bid to run Wembley Arena sent to the Competition Commission: Live music giant AEG’s bid to take over the running of Wembley Arena has been referred to the Competition Commission over fears that its growing dominance of venues in London could lead to higher ticket prices.
AEG Live are also said to have stepped in to promote a North American Rolling Stones tour after a deal with Australian promoter Paul Dainty and Virgin Music fell through. Top price tickets for the tour are expected to be in the region of $500-$600.
This is against the backdrop of the civil trial now taking shape which sees Michael Jackson’s family suing AEG for negligently negligently hiring the doctor later convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer’s death and failing to oversee him. Legal rulings by Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos anticipated a three-month trial that will revisit events preceding the singer’s death from an anesthetic overdose in 2009.
SFX takes 75% of ID&T, announces US Tomorrowland: Robert FX Sillerman’s rapidly expanding EDM business SFX has taken a 75% stake in European dance promoter ID&T, as the two companies confirmed the launch of a US edition of Tomorrowland, the Dutch firm’s flagship event. SXF has also secured funding from communications giant WPP.
Kilimanjaro Live joins Association of Independent Festivals: Kilimanjaro Live CEO Stuart Galbraith has joined the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) as a board member. Galbraith’s appointment adds Wakestock, Sonisphere and Vans Warped Tour to the list of names under the AIF umbrella.
In other festivals news:
Registration for Glastonbury has reopened, with fans given until 20th April to register for tickets, whilst Sonar’s São Paulo edition has been cancelled, citing “instabilities in the Brazilian entertainment market”.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is to be televised for the first time in its forty-three year history: AXS TV will set up in New Orleans during Jazz Fest, broadcasting nightly and offering live performances and event coverage on the festival’s second weekend.
Meanwhile SXSW has presented its inaugural Grulke Prizes, in honour of Brent Grulke, the event’s longtime Creative Director who died last August.
Latitude 2013’s line-up will feature Kraftwerk, Foals and Bloc Party as headliners, whilst Liverpool Sound City has added Bastille and Conor Maynard will headline ‘As One in the Park’ this summer, in what is being billed as “the first credible large-scale gay festival in London for over a decade.
SO Festival labelled waste of money ‘one of the best’: A Lincolnshire arts festival that was labelled a waste of ratepayers’ money is “one of the best in the country”, Arts Council England has said.
Folk singer Michelle Shocked’s tour has fallen apart after ten of the eleven venues where she was due to appear have cancelled following homophobic statements at a concert in San Francisco. The singer has said the she is ‘damn sorry’ for her comments and claimed that she was reporting views that she does not share.
Madonna has joined in with criticism of the US Boy Scout movement’s ban on gay members, following Train and Carly Rae Jepsen’s cancellation of their appearances at the annual Jamboree. Texas Governor, and former Republican Party Presidential hopeful, Rick Perry was critical of Madonna’s stance, calling the singer’s appearance in a Boy Scout Uniform at the GLAAD Media Awards a ‘gratuitous shot’.
Roger Waters Calls for Boycott of Israel: The singer plans to publish an open letter to his peers in the music industry asking them to join him in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
New chair of Arts Council England warns against cuts to culture budgets: Peter Bazalgette to say arts face ‘very big’ problem if councils carry out cuts, and argue Heseltine plan should focus on culture. This comes as the Arts Council England has received further in-year cuts to its budget, following Wednesday’s budget announcement by chancellor George Osborne.
Bazalgette also used his first speech as head of the Arts Council to launch a series of debates and seminars hosted by a new partnership between the RSA and Arts Council England, aimed at exploring “ideas that can shape a new political economy for arts and culture in England.”
Arts Council England funds GCSE arts review in drive to improve cultural education: Arts Council England has commissioned research to review GCSE qualifications in drama, dance, music and art and design. The project will also create a draft new curriculum for each of the four subjects.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council has, meanwhile, announced a two year project to to examine the value of culture beyond economic measures and look at the best ways to provide evidence of that value. The Cultural Value Project will cover a range of academic disciplines, hoping to address the gaps in current research and develop new methods of evaluating how arts and cultural activities bring value to individuals and to society.
Research into donor behaviour published by the New Philanthropy Capital has shown that high income donors are are twice as likely as mainstream donors to give to the arts.
£4.5m made available for music organisations working with young-people: UK charity Youth Music has announced plans to fund new opportunities for children and young people, granting over £4.5m in funding to 108 music organisations that span all genres.
Sheffield’s £1.8m music hub started with concert: A concert has been held to mark the start of a new music hub to enable young people in Sheffield to sing or learn a musical instrument. The Arts Council awarded £1.8m funding earlier this year to set it up.
UK crowdfunding sector creates self regulatory body: Crowdfunding operators will be asked to obey a code of practice as they join newly launched trade body the UK Crowdfunding Association (UKCFA). The code is aimed at protecting the growing number of investors, donors and businesses using the technology and to ensure that all services are operating to a minimum standard.
Creative Scotland begins hunt for new chief executive: Creative Scotland has advertised the post of new chief executive, with with a salary of £110,000 a year – £10,000 a year less than outgoing chief Andrew Dixon, who resigned last December. The nationality of the new chief executive should not be an issue, a cultural summit in Edinburgh has heard following controversial comments last year regarding English appointments.
Alex Beard, deputy director of Tate, to succeed Tony Hall as head of Royal Opera House: Alex Beard, deputy director of the Tate, has been announced as the new chief executive of the Royal Opera House, succeeding Tony Hall who will become director general of the BBC next month.
BECTU and the MU call for action over unpaid internships: The Musicians’ Union and BECTU are to put forward a joint motion at the Trades Union Congress Young Members’ Conference this weekend against unpaid internships, which they say are responsible for increasing youth unemployment.
Campaign to increase family arts events to launch this spring: A campaign designed to support organisations in providing family friendly cultural events will launch later this spring. Led by industry groups including the Society of London Theatre, Dance UK and the Association of British Orchestras, the Family Friendly Arts Campaign will be introduced at its inaugural conference, organised in association with the Independent Theatre Council, in Birmingham on April 15th.
The audit office in Northern Ireland has criticised the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) for allowing multi-million pound building projects to go over budget: Five arts buildings – including the Grand Opera House- an outdoor pursuits centre and the public records office were largely paid for by DCAL.
Drinkers at the Ivy House use law to save their pub: A London pub, which has hosted performances by the likes of Elvis Costello and Joe Strummer has been the first in the country to be saved by the use of the Localism Act which came into force last September and gives residents first refusal on buildings seen as vital to their community.
Bath’s Bell Inn saved by community buyout scheme: A campaign backed by rock stars including Robert Plant and Peter Gabriel to save a Bath music venue has exceeded its target.
Brewhouse Theatre rescue business plan goes on display: The Tone Theatre Association has been set up by Independent councillors Eddie Gaines and Steve Ross to develop the building into a community arts hub.
Stoke-on-Trent heritage commission looks at historic building use: As the council looks at what part its historical buildings can play in regeneration and whether some of them have a future at all The Great Fenton Community Association has decided to make use of buildings in the area, including a former magistrate’s court and town-hall, which is the subject of proposals for a music venue or exhibition hall.
Charity resists Artsdepot eviction notice: A community arts organisation that works with vulnerable people is challenging an eviction notice it has been served from Artsdepot – the north London venue in which it is based – claiming that the move could force it to close.
There has been more trouble at the Bolshoi Ballet, following the acid attack on its artistic director Sergei Filin in January. Former dancer Anastasia Volochkova claimed that female dancers were forced to sleep with wealthy patrons in an interview on a television talk show in Russia.
The Bolshoi’s general manager Anatoly Iksanov has dismissed the claims outright as ‘rubbish and dirt’ but there are further controversies. Russia’s state audit agency is looking into the company. The Audit Chamber said the investigation into the use of public funds had been planned in advance and isn’t linked to the accusations of financial abuse raised by the dancer who was arrested earlier this month on charges of staging the acid attack. A Russian MP has also called for the Bolshoi chief to be elected by secret ballot.
Labour relations in US Orchestras continue to be troublesome as the San Francisco Symphony strike leads to the cancellation of concerts, including at Carnegie Hall, and a war of words in the media and online develops as Nicole Cash, Associate Principal Horn of the Orchestra, posts an appeal to its recently elected president, Sakurako Fisher and other commentators weigh in, often unsympathetically.
The Minnesota dispute rumbles on with concerts cancelled until the end of April as another player leaves to join the Boston Symphony Orchestra amidst warnings of long term damage to the city’s cultural life and there is also trouble in Tennessee as the Nashville Symphony Orchestra looks set default on $102 million in bonds that were used to build Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the state-of-the-art performance hall that opened in 2006.
A strike looms in France as well, as musicians in the Montpellier opera house have demanded the dismissal of their their director general, political appointee Jean-Paul Scarpitta. 90% have now signed the petition and they have also filed notice of intent to strike unless he departs.
Maestro walks out on Philharmonic, blaming ‘despotic’ manager: Alexander Rahbari has quit the Belgrade Philharmonic, saying the atmosphere is ‘filled with fear’ since Ivan Tasovac, a pianist, became its general director.
In developments since the Vienna Philharmonic’s publication of its connections with the Nazi party, its annual concert in memory of Helmut Wobisch, the SS and Gestapo man who was the principal trumpeter and became its business manager after the War has been cancelled.
The Guildford Philharmonic has played its last concert after being closed down due to local funding cuts. Also curtailed are South Florida’s American Opera Series – critically acclaimed but allegedly disliked by ‘well heeled’ local audiences who made their displeasure known – and Sydney Opera House’s dance festival, which was axed for being ‘too expensive and not popular enough’.
Also in Australia, the recently announced arts policy, the first major review of funding since the 1980s, is in jeopardy as Arts Minister Simon Crean is sacked for his role in the recent attempt to unseat Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Sydney comes first, and Tasmania last, in the first ever blind listening test of Australia’s orchestras.
South by Southwest has come to a close once again, as commentators consider how the festival has changed in the years since its inception.
There have been complaints surrounding Aldeburgh Music, a ‘licensed sponsor of the UK Border Agency’ which has asked UK musicians to show the passports before allowing them to perform at the Britten Festivals. Aldeburgh Music apologised but said that following a UKBA it had “been instructed to view and copy passports of all visiting artists”.
Leading music college loses border license: Also encountering problems via the UKBA is the Point Blank Music School in north London which has had its license sponsor non-EU students revoked. Students on diploma courses at the must find a new sponsor for their studies or leave the country.
Sixteen face charges over Brazil nightclub fire: Sixteen people will face criminal charges in connection with a deadly fire at a Brazil nightclub in January.
Also due in court are U2’s Bono and the Edge, director Julie Taymor and the other producers of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark: Taymor, who co-wrote the script and was the musical’s first director, initially filed suit against the show’s producers, plus composers Bono and the Edge, in November 2011 after they fired her from the disastrous, injury-prone show in March. She filed a copyright suit claiming the producers were making money off her ideas and script and that she was owed $1 million. The producers countersued, claiming she had been fired for breach of contract.
Napalm Death gig cancelled over V&A noise damage fears: The Victoria and Albert Museum cancelled the Napalm Death gig due to take place over fears the sound levels could damage the “fabric of the building”. The gig was a one-off collaboration between the grindcore band and artist Keith Harrison and was to feature three ceramic sound systems.
Morrissey ‘cautioned’ to stop touring: Doctors advise singer to retire from live performance after recent health troubles.
Skrillex cancels “near and dear” Canadian train ride: The party train-ride he was meant to be taking (and making noise on) across Canada in July was called off, he claimed, after “we lost the train we had booked, found a new one, and then realised the cost associated with using it would put us at a huge, huge loss”.
Rochester nightclub’s cleavage stunt condemned: A nightclub promotion offering women free entry if they wear low-cut tops has been condemned by MPs.
Are women being denied in top jobs in the arts? With two top jobs at major British cultural institutions – the BBC and Royal Opera House – going to men recently, Vanessa Thorpe asks whether sexism is ingrained in the arts.
Madness perform Television Centre gig: Madness brought the curtain down on BBC Television Centre with a concert outside the iconic building.
George Street will close for Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Part of Edinburgh’s George Street will be closed again for the Festival Fringe this August despite concerns of some traders.
Fisherman’s Friends’ Trevor Grills’ missing grave marker appeal: The wife of a singer killed in an accident at a music venue has appealed for his grave marker to be returned.
Colchester Moot Hall – Lottery grant to restore organ: An Edwardian pipe organ is to be restored in Essex thanks to a £416,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
One Direction Fans Besiege Liam Payne’s Family Home After Competition Goes Wrong: Fans flocked to Liam Payne’s family home after a competition to find hidden tickets to see the band went wrong. A radio station broadcast clues to find two tickets to a sell-out 1D gig in Birmingham, and around 100 listeners misinterpreted the hints – believing they led to Liam’s parents’ garden.
Rihanna arrives 3-and-a-half hours late for school charity gig: Pop star blamed Chicago traffic for keeping students at Barrington High School waiting.
5-year-old piano prodigy gets Carnegie Hall debut: A five-year-old piano prodigy from West Vancouver had his debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall Sunday, playing Variations on a Russian Theme.
Using a sex toy for vocal training: Professor David Ley talks about how his research. Investigating vibrators as a means of helping actors and singers was for him an obvious step. “It’s so simple. It’s like, what do vocal folds do? They vibrate. What is resonance? It’s sympathetic vibration, reciprocal vibration. So using vibration to create vibration shouldn’t be a very big leap.”
And former Brit-pop rivals Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher appear to have buried the hatchet, as they appeared onstage together over the weekend for a charity gig in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Michael Cohl At CMW: Industry pundit Bob Lefsetz on how promoter Michael Cohl, former Live Nation chairman, helped to develop the modes touring network – and the nature of large scale promotion.
Choice, not wealth decides whether you visit the Royal Opera House: Katie Columbus responds in The Stage to debates about elitism in the arts.
Through the looking glass: Bill Eddins, Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, on the US labour disputes, and the lack of understanding displayed by non-musicians.
“We’re so not finished with this”: Renowned opera, theatre and festival director Peter Sellars posing a series of challenges to the worlds of classical music and education in his keynote speech keynote speech at Future Play – a symposium about the future of music education presented by the Barbican Centre and LA Philharmonic.
Serenading the future: The Economist is optimistic about the future of British opera.
Simon Crean’s cultural manifesto is worth a second look: Julian Meyrick, professor of creative arts at Flinders University, on the benefits of a national approach to arts policy.
15 tips for making micro performance: From small scale theatre to site specific opera, The Guardian’s Culture Professionals Network presents a round up of tips and advice.
For Musicians, the Most Prized Violins Are for Borrowing, Not Buying: Corinna Da Fonseca-Wollheim on the cost of instruments in The New York Times.
Learning how to play technology: Anne Midgette, in The Washington Post, examines the place of technology in orchestras.
‘You make a career with the roles you refuse, not the ones you sign’: Pavarotti’s agent on the Slipped Disc blog, in response to the comments made by Sir Antonio Pappano about singer cancellations.
Scots at SXSW – Is it worth the trip to Texas?: Matthew Young on travelling to the massive festival in Austin.
Could this be a new golden age for musicals?: As South Park creators’ show The Book of Mormon opens to warm reviews and breaks the record for the highest one-day box office sale, Deborah Orr suggests the musical theatre flourishes in recessions.
Musicians were maltreated on the Titanic, and after: As disputes arise around the provenance of the violin said to have been played just before the ship sank, Holly Mulcahy, concertmaster with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, introduces her research into the working lives of musicians on board.
Live Music-Related Events:
Pathways to mediation for live music in the community: University of Glasgow, Monday April 15th, 2:00-5:00pm. Free
A one-day mediation session, open to live music practitioners, businesses and anyone affected who is interested in learning more about the surrounding issues and the process. Produced by Live Music Exchange and the University of Glasgow with the Scottish Mediation Network. The event is free but spaces are limited.
- The right to musical expression and enjoyment is a crucial part of our cultural lives. But what happens when it clashes with other rights- a good night’s sleep, clean communal spaces, access to your own street?
- Promoting live music can be at the sharp end of these clashes as well as complex issues of planning and regulation – and it’s not always clear whose side the law is on, still less where the rights and wrongs lie.
- This event will examine the concept of competing rights and introduce participants to a mediation approach- moving towards working out specific issues and problems.
- With members of the Scottish Mediation Network, we offer the chance for a range of stakeholders to air concerns and look at the options available to them that avoid entrenched and potentially costly positions.
Live Music Exchange, London: ‘Sustaining a vibrant live music ecology’: City University London, 14th May 2013
A one-day conference organised by The University of Edinburgh’s Live Music Exchange and City University London’s Department of Creative Practice and Enterprise.
The Small Economies of the ‘New’ Music Industry: Severn Pop Network inaugural conference.
University of Bristol, UK, 25th March 2013.
This is a free event and will be presented by UK Festival Awards’ Steve Jenner, Beach-Break-Live Festival’s Ian Forshew and Eventbrite’s Katie McPhee
Introduction to working in the Community Music Sector : A morning workshop using John Stevens’ ‘Search and Reflect’ approach with afternoon seminar exploring the employment potential and training needs within community music, followed by a panel discussion offering the chance to ask industry professionals questions you get the inside track on working in the community music sector.
Brady Arts & Community Centre, 192-196 Hanbury Street, London, E1 5HU, 28th March 2013, 10am to 4pm.
You’re Hired! : A one-day workshop a designed to give practical advice and support to help you improve how you demonstrate your many skills and abilities to potential clients, through both what you say and how you say it.
Dance City, Temple Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4BR, Thursday 28th March 10:30am-4:30pm
Wide Days: A music industry convention in Edinburgh which is now in its third year. There are panel events throughout the day and gigs to attend in the evening.
Teviot Row House, Edinburgh, 10th and 11th April 2013.
Pathways to mediation for live music in the community: A one-day mediation session, open to live music practitioners, businesses and anyone affected who is interested in learning more about the surrounding issues and the process. Produced by Live Music Exchange and the University of Glasgow with the Scottish Mediation Network. The event is free but spaces are limited.
University of Glasgow, University Main Building, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, Monday April 15th, 2:00pm – 5:00pm. Free (but spaces are limited).
South African Jazz Cultures: Study Day, University of York, Saturday 20th April 2013
The South African Jazz Cultures indaba / discussion day is an interdisciplinary forum structured around five presentations and a round table. Contributions from academics (Eato, Pyper), filmmakers (Kaganof), heritage practitioners (Temple, Huntley), musicians (Abdul-Rahim, Brubeck, Moholo-Moholo), and Hazel Miller of Ogun Records will invite discussion on a range of issues broadly framed by the idea of South African jazz cultures
Cr8net: A one-day conference for the creative industries, bringing together industry practitioners, policy makers and businesses.
Village Underground (in ‘Tech City’) on 24th April 2013.
Focus Wales Cymru 2013: Music Festival & Conference in Wrexham: Three days of live music, 100+ lives acts, multiple venues, and music industry discussions.
Multiple venues, Wrexham, 25th-27th April 2013.
Live Music Exchange, London: ‘Sustaining a vibrant live music ecology’: A one-day conference organised by The University of Edinburgh’s Live Music Exchange and City University London’s Department of Creative Practice and Enterprise, featuring speakers such as Paul Latham (Live Nation), Will Page (Spotify), Simon Frith, and Dave Laing.
Performance Space, College Building, City University, Northampton Square, London, EC1V OHB, Thursday 14th May, 2013, 9.00am – 6.00pm, £10 / £5 (conc).
17th Biennial IASPM Conference: Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Challenging Orthodoxies.
Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura, Gijón, Asturias, Spain, 24-28 June 2013, .
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