opinion

Viewpoint: Mark Davyd's alternative Christmas message

After months of non-stop misery, the recent vaccine announcements have provided much-needed reason for positivity in music and the wider world. But in his latest column, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd discusses the hurdles the concert industry still needs ...

Executive stress: Why the modern music biz needs to cope with the social media spotlight

Most modern music executives don’t seek the limelight in the way that, say, Tony Wilson, Alan McGee or Simon Cowell once did. But sometimes the limelight – or more accurately, the harsh spotlight – finds them anyway. Last week was a big week for execs being splashed over social media. Scooter Braun is probably used to it by now – although the more low-profile types at Shamrock Capital might have been less prepared to find themselves the subject of a Taylor Swift social media post. Of course, having exhausted all other avenues in the ongoing saga of ownership of her master recordings, and having now been scandalously cut out of two deals for her own music, Swift has an understandable and absolutely legitimate reason to use her profile to highlight business decisions that have a major impact on her fans and career. But that's not always the case. Morrissey was also at it again last week, claiming “a new BMG executive” had dropped him, although BMG politely notes that, in fact, his contract had merely been completed and wasn’t being renewed. Having stuck by the ex-Smiths frontman throughout his contract, despite regular furores over his comments, presumably BMG would rather focus on Russell Watson's more positive view of its work. Music companies can find themselves the target of pop fandom ire for reasons that aren’t obvious to anyone who doesn’t speak fluent meme and emoji Music Week And it's not just the artists. Increasingly, music companies can find themselves the target of misdirected pop fandom ire for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious to anyone who doesn’t speak fluent meme and emoji. All of this, plus the movies’ obsession with casting the music business as the bad guy in every rock biopic, is giving the industry’s creative contribution a bad rap. In a week when oral evidence to the DCMS Committee investigation into streaming begins, that might matter. Because while it's understandable that artists are finding their voice over the industry's inequities, there are few artists out there who could truthfully claim to have made it without the essential assistance of at least one from the label-manager-publisher triumvirate. That’s why Jon Bon Jovi – a man who knows a thing or two about surviving in the music biz – recently told Music Week he would welcome more intervention from his label, not less. Nowadays, people rightly expect labels to be “artist-friendly” (although no one ever asks Morrissey to be “label-friendly”) and the vast majority are. But part of being a friend is to tell people the truth, and point out where things could be improved. In an age where there is more music than ever, and there’s never been a worse time for an artist to just be “pretty good”, the work of execs to improve an act’s chances of cut-through should be celebrated, not denigrated. Just remember, wherever the spotlight might lead, the music industry’s best work is often done in the shadows. * To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, sign up to our digital edition here.

What will a possible coronavirus vaccine mean for the music biz?

Lord alone knows good news has been in short supply in 2020. And, while there’s still plenty of misery around, the announcement of a possible coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, hot on the heels of a Joe Biden victory in the US, at least suggests there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. There are still many hurdles to overcome before a successful mass vaccination process becomes a reality, of course, but it does at least dangle the prospect of a return to near-normality by the summer, just in time for festival season. That is particularly welcome news for the beleaguered live sector – but it does need to be followed up with clear timelines. In a chat for the new issue of Music Week, available now, new UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin made the point that the live business isn’t one that can just start up again at a moment’s notice. It will take a vaccination of millions to help us back Music Week Shows need to be booked, tickets need to be sold, itineraries need to be routed. And the army of workers needed to put on a show – far too many of whom have been forgotten during this pandemic – need to be engaged, with the realistic hope that, this time, their plans won’t be cancelled. Such a time can still look a long way off from here, deep in the depths of a second lockdown and a full-on economic meltdown. But hope is an important commodity. So now is the time for the music industry to work together, to lobby government for a roadmap back to live shows, and to implement long-term support for the entire industry. Some parts of the business have been harder hit than others and, while the various government funding programmes will help many, it’s in everyone’s interest to make sure as much of the industry infrastructure remains in place as possible. Whenever live shows come back, things will probably not return to the same level immediately. So the industry should start building a long-term recovery plan, to get all parts of the ecosystem in a place to play their role. It will take a vaccination of millions to help us back. But it will also take the efforts of everyone in the music industry. Let’s go to work… * To make sure you can access vital music business information wherever you are, sign up to our digital edition by clicking here.

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