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Paradigm Extends Deadline for Furloughed Employees Fund Application

Due to COVID-19, Paradigm Talent Agency has had to furlough staff as have most companies or businesses. However, something that Paradigm is doing which others are not, is offering a relief fund for any employees affected. The CEO Sam Gores announced last week that he was setting up a relief fund for affected employees worth $1.1 million resulting in approximately $4,400 set aside for each employee.

More than 200 employees were laid off on March 20th due to the sudden impact of COVID-19. Merely two weeks after this, Sam Gores announced the relief fund for those affected and set a deadline for any applications to be handed in by April 13th. However due to state laws about unemployment, potentially accepting this fund may then put employees in a worse situation were they are not liable to be classed as unemployed and receive those benefits. Due to these issues, Paradigm extended their deadline until April 28th, allowing their employees to do more research and decide what is best for them in these troubling times.

Paradigm are one of few companies to be furloughing staff but still providing them with relief and funding, however people believe they could be doing more. Employees asked for more clarity and information about the laws and regulations but were just sent a list of phone numbers and websites and told to contact their state’s unemployment office. Michael Seville, attorney from Seville Briggs law firm in San Francisco, stated “Giving employees a list of phone numbers to call is not enough. Employers have resources their employees don’t and they need to make the process as easy as possible.”

Paradigm made a statement in which they said “Paradigm has and will continue to consult with outside legal and accounting counsel on this matter. Unfortunately, it was told there is no precedent for what employers are currently experiencing with respect to this pandemic and thus, there no guarantees. Each state has different rules and in some states, the rules vary by each individual’s situation. Paradigm’s HR team will continue to be available to assist employees, as they can.”

Kerrang! Temporarily Suspend Publication

Kerrang! announced on the 3rd of April 2020 that due to the complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they will be suspending publication of their infamous magazine for three months.

On their website they stated that due to the “following a period of unprecedented turmoil within the music industry and beyond”, they would be suspending their magazine publication until Wednesday July 8th. Kerrang! continued to say, “Our decision is based on the fact that during this period of national lockdown it has become virtually impossible to distribute a weekly magazine effectively.”

Following on from that Kerrang! stated that they didn’t want to put their customers at risk by asking them to venture to the shops to buy the magazine and also with most supermarkets prioritizing groceries, it would be irresponsible to continue with their weekly publication.

In light of not publicising their magazine, Kerrang! ensured their customers that they will continue to serve them and keep everyone informed on what’s happening in the industry. On top of this, they announced that they have “a number of exciting plans” that they will unveil in the next week or so and will provide those with further entertainment.

If you’d like to read Kerrang!’s statement in full, feel free to follow this link.

Lady Gaga to curate World Health Organisation benefit concert featuring Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and more

Lady Gaga is coming together with the World Health Organisation to curate One World: Together at Home, a live-streamed and televised benefit concert in support of WHO’s COVID-19 solidarity response fund. The event will also be a celebration of health workers around the world.

The line-up includes Gaga herself, alongside Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, Lizzo, J Balvin, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Billie Joe Armstrong, Alanis Morissette, Burna Boy, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Martin (of Coldplay), Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam), Elton John, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban and Lang Lang.

Three US talk show hosts, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, have been announced as hosts of the event. Broadcast in the US will begin at 8 pm EST on April 18 on the television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, alongside a free live-stream.

Here in the UK, BBC One will air an adapted version of the concert on April 19, including exclusive performances from UK artists and interviews with frontline health workers. Full details of this broadcast are yet to be revealed.

Social action platform Global Citizen and the WHO have partnered to produce the event, the former’s Together at Home series being the basis for the event’s format. Launched last month, Together at Home has featured live-streamed performances from several artists in isolation including Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, Christine and The Queens, and Hozier.

Speaking during a WHO press conference, Gaga said she had helped to raise $35m (£28m) for Global Citizen in the past week. She clarified that the One World event was not a fundraising telethon, but instead would focus on entertainment while philanthropists and business would be urged to donate to the COVID-19 solidarity response fund.

Grassroots Music Venues call for £1 million funding from music industry and successful artists

Grassroots venues in the UK are calling for donations and funding from huge artists and the more successful corners of the music industry to prevent closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking to NME, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd brought forward the suggestion of £1 million in donations in order to avoid “a disaster that will last 10 years”.

Government pledges of millions in loans and grants to grassroots spaces to help them through these unprecedented times will not be enough, MVT claims. Over 550 venues are at risk, along with the permanent loss of over 5,000 jobs and 1 million temporary employment opportunities for gig economy workers.

Davyd said that the MVT has “been surveying all our venues for weeks, done all the maths, and worked out that despite the intentions of the government and the work that everyone else is doing, we have a £13.8 million hole,”

“The government has done a lot and we’re not having a go at them. We realise there’s a huge crisis going on here for everybody and the likelihood of us getting any additional funding from the government to plug that hole is almost zero.”

The £1 million of funding they have asked for from the industry’s most successful companies and artists would be used to financially support the MVT’s emergency response service. Davyd revealed that their emergency response service won 91 of its 96 cases to prevent venues from closure in the last year, with the remaining five still ongoing.

“In this atmosphere, people think that once this is all over people are suddenly going to open grassroots music venues. That isn’t going to happen. Every one we lose is going to be permanently lost. We’re talking about 84% of the sector shutting down.” He added: “If we wake up the morning after this is over and over 80% of our venues have disappeared, we are talking about a disaster that will last 10 years.”

Musicians make over $4 million with Bandcamp

With the world being in difficult times at the moment, we thought we’d bring you some positive news that will hopefully put a smile on your face. On March 20, Bandcamp allowed musicians selling their music to keep 100% of revenue. This resulted in musicians making over $4 million and had all the revenue from sales going straight to the artists for one day only.

The impact of COVID-19 has not just impacted our general lifestyle but nearly every industry especially the music industry. Gigs, tours and festivals all over the world are either being postponed or outright cancelled. With the majority of workers being freelance, it’s extremely difficult, but many companies are trying their best, such as Bandcamp.

Bandcamp makes their money through revenue share on sales from artists using their services. They take 15% for digital sales and 10% for merch however in support of the industry, on March 20th they donated 100% of sales to artists. They released a statement on March 23rd showing the figures and the results were amazing. “On a typical Friday, fans buy about 47,000 items on Bandcamp, but this past Friday, fans bought nearly 800,000, or $4.3 million worth of music and merch.”

They continued their statement by saying that these sales were more than 15 times their normal and at the peak of the day, fans were buying 11 items per second. To finish it off Bandcamp have stated that during these difficult times, they will continue to ensure Bandcamp is a place for both artists and fans to help sustain each other.

The Great Escape Cancels 2020 Festival

Brighton will be without this year’s edition of The Great Escape festival after an announcement yesterday that it will no longer be going ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement posted to TGE’s social media channels read: “We are very sorry to have to say that The Great Escape 2020 will no longer be taking place this year.”

“We’ve not taken this decision lightly. Taking into account that we are only a few weeks out from the event, and the current status of things, this was the best decision for fans, artists, staff and the community. The entire TGE family is so disappointed to have to make this decision and we extend our apologies to everyone who was looking forward to it as much as us” it continued.

The statement confirmed that next year’s edition would take place between 12-15 May 2021, and would act as a belated 15th birthday celebration for the festival.

Aitch was set to headline TGE’s spotlight show, along with Tiffany Calver, Deno and Mae Muller. Other notable acts who were set to perform include Hayley Williams, Jay1 and Fontaines D.C..

The news follows the cancellation of SXSW earlier this month. Both TGE and SXSW are considered by many in the industry to be vital for new music, both serving as huge losses to the industry for the coming year.


Amazon Music for Artists Launches

Amazon has followed Spotify and Apple Music by launching the much anticipated Amazon Music for Artists service in order to help artists fully grasp their services. The service will work like Spotify for Artists and Apple Music for Artists, allowing you to see how your music is performing, understanding your audience and also how you as an artist perform on Amazon’s Alexa devices.

Currently the app is available on both iOS and Android devices however it is still in beta. There is also the option to use this service online on their website, artists.amazonmusic.com, which has plenty of information and useful tips on how to use their new service.

It’s evident that Amazon is trying to compete with Spotify and Apple as they continue to develop their service. Over the last year, Amazon have increased their portfolio of available music, broadened their subscription packages and now have released similar tools to their competitors in order to help artists using the platform for distribution. 

Spotify were the first to launch a ‘For Artists’ tool back in 2017 with Apple following in 2019. Spotify’s justification for this tool was that artists can sometimes struggle getting this data from labels or distributors and wanted to make it easier for artists to develop and progress. With Amazon releasing their own, it allows a wider selection of digital streaming platforms for artists and provides them with more chances to connect to fans and further their career.

SXSW Announces Layoffs Amid 2020 Event Cancellation

The outdoor stage at last year’s SXSW Festival – Photo by David Brendan Hall.

On March 6, it was announced that this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, had been cancelled amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.  Festival organisers initially resisted calls to call off the 2020 edition of the mega-showcase festival, however, Austin city officials ordered that the event not go ahead. This marks the first time in 34 years that the March event will not be taking place, and the ramifications for both musicians and the festival organisers themselves are beginning to come to fruition with SXSW laying off roughly a third of their 175 year-round staff members.

Speaking to local paper, the Austin Statesman, SXSW LLC said that the company “has been rigorously reviewing our operations, and we are in the unimaginable position of reducing our workforce.” This comes after reports that SXSW could be facing losses in the tens of millions in the wake of the cancellation.

In addition to the loss in revenue that SXSW LLC is facing, the company gave a statement to the Austin Chronicle saying their insurance did not cover the cause of cancellation. “We have a lot of insurance (terrorism, injury, property destruction, weather),” the statement begins, “however, bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics are not covered.”

SXSW isn’t the only music event to be cancelled to in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, as the Winter Music Conference in Miami has also been called off as of Monday (9th March). It joins the Miami Ultra Festival as the second music event in the city to be scrapped this month after Florida governor Ron Desantis declared a state of emergency on Monday.

‘Stream Manipulation’ Site Ordered To Shut Down

One of Germany’s biggest ‘fake streaming’ services has been ordered by the Berlin District Court to stop their services and shut down. The site, ‘Followerschmiede.de’, were experts in stream manipulation and helped customers artificially boost streams of music that they own or represent.

Legal action was first taken by global record label trade body IFPI and their German counterpart BVMI. The order by the court follows an announcement in June of 2019, where the three major labels, Sony/ATV, Spotify, Amazon, Deezer and many more industry bodies signed a coalition to tackle stream manipulation. 

The IFPI chief executive Frances Moore stated;

Those who create music must be remunerated fairly and accurately for their work and investment. Stream manipulation undermines this – whether by undermining the accuracy of charts, royalty payments to music creators or otherwise – and cannot be tolerated.”

On top of this, she said that streaming platforms need to find “a robust technical solution” to the problem of stream manipulation. The BVMI CEO issued a warning to other similar services saying that this legal action should be “seen as a signal to other manipulation services” as they are now prepared to take action against them.

Spotify has started to take this more seriously and have kept an eye on illicit streams, most recently with a case involving rapper French Montana. The rapper’s song “Writing on the Wall” was subject to stream manipulation, however French denied any involvement and has no knowledge of who purchased these streams. Spotify were quick to notice as the streams apparently all appeared from a New York IP. 

With this legal case being the first to go through and succeed in the music industry’s favour, it certainly means that more industry bodies such as IFPI will continue pursuing taking down these services as it tarnishes royalties, chart positions and credibility. Hopefully the labels and streaming services can continue working together to take them all down.

If you’d like to read more about this topic, check out these outlets;

CompleteMusicUpdate (CMU)

MusicAlly

Billboard

Non-UK Musicians Will Need VISAs to Perform in UK

The Home Office has announced that any non-UK musicians will have to apply and pay for a Tier 5 visa to enter the country for any creative work. This includes a range of things such as performances, tours, events, talks and any promotion that relates to them as an artist.

The visa in question is called ‘Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting’ visa or also known as Tier 5. When applying, the visa will cost £244 and the artist will need to have £1000 in savings at least 90 days before even applying. The actual price of the visa is reasonable as it lasts for up to 12 months, however £1000 in savings is a large sum of money for any musical talent especially those from lower income backgrounds. This savings clause is extremely unfair for those musicians and can have a massive impact on the amount of talent coming into the country.

This announcement comes after several months of debates over whether musicians can receive special passports or visas that allow multiple entries over a certain time period. The Musicians’ Union started a petition online calling on the UK Government and Parliament to support a musicians’ passport for artists working in the EU/UK post-Brexit. The chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, Deborah Annetts, was quoted saying; “We are deeply disappointed that free movement for musicians and other artists from the EU has been ruled out and we would ask the UK Government to reconsider our call for a two-year, multi-entry visa.”

In this day and age, touring and gigs are the foundation of the industry in which the majority of revenue is generated from live performances. Last year the UK music festival attendance was at its highest level in 4 years with 38% of adults in the UK attending at least one music concert which is up from 2018’s 34%. 

The impact that this visa can have is huge as currently many non-UK musicians come to the UK for touring instead of the US, as the visa’s there are even more complicated with each member of a band needing to pay £1000 for a visa. On top of this, the visas can take months to be approved and can potentially be declined with the artist not being able to do anything. 

As of writing this, it doesn’t look like this proposal from the Home Office will change. With people like Deborah Annetts continuing to fight this battle, we can only hope they win as the effect of this visa would be massive on the UK live scene.

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