Covid-19 music industry update: Taylor Swift, Live At Leeds moves dates, Forest Live cancelled

Covid-19 music industry update: Taylor Swift, Live At Leeds moves dates, Forest Live cancelled

Music Week is monitoring the impact of the Covid-19 spread around the globe on the biz.

The outbreak has already led to the cancellation of Glastonbury and other upcoming festivals such as All Points East. Industry events have been postponed, cancelled or in some cases become virtual gatherings.

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Taylor Swift x SiriusXM 
Taylor Swift has launched a new Home DJ series on SiriusXM’s top pop channel SiriusXM Hits 1.

Following Swift’s April 3 episode, the Home DJ Series will be followed by other artists taking over SiriusXM Hits 1 from their homes. Hits 1 N Chill will feature Niall Horan, Camila Cabello, Sia, 5SOS, Diplo, Kelsea Ballerini, Charlie Puth, Pete Wentz and more. 

“We love to connect fans with their favourite artists, and our Home DJ series will bring some of the biggest names in music into our homes as people look for ways to be entertained,” said Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer of SiriusXM. "Taylor Swift will lead the way and will be followed by many stars on Hits 1 in the days ahead as they play their favourite music for the channel’s faithful national audience and new listeners too. Our new Stream Free option opens up our channels to anybody who wants some diversion and great music."

The US broadcast will be repeated and available on demand.

Live At Leeds Festival moves date
Live at Leeds Festival has announced it will reschedule the 2020 edition to November 28. The event had been scheduled for May 2. 

“This is the first time in 13 years we’ve had to move Live at Leeds, and doing so brings significant challenges for the festival and the artists alike,” said a statement. “But though this virus has brought unprecedented disruption across all industries and around the world, we are determined that it won’t stop us providing you with the event we all deserve when this is over.   

The majority of acts – including Pale Waves, Easy Life, The Coral and Shame – will play the rescheduled festival. Scheduling conflicts mean that Australian rock act DMA’s will be unable to perform on the November date. A replacement will be confirmed at a later date.

Cannes Lions festival postponed
The Cannes Lions annual Festival Of Creativity will not take place in October as previously planned. The next edition of the Festival, which has become a key event for many in the music business, will run June 21-25, 2021.

Philip Thomas, chairman, Cannes Lions, said: “Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions. We realise that the creative community has other challenges to face, and simply isn’t in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark. The marketing and creative industries, in common with so many others, are currently in turmoil, and it’s clear that we can play our small part by removing all speculation about the festival this year. We have tried to make our decisions as early as possible to give the industry total clarity on the situation, and that is why we are announcing this move today.”

Forest Live 2020 cancelled
Forestry England has cancelled this year's Forest Live concerts. The summer series was set to feature headline performances by the likes of Jack Savoretti, Keane, Madness, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Rag‘N’Bone Man in spectacular woodland locations around the country.

A statement by organisers said: "We are sorry to disappoint the Forest Live fans who were hoping to see bands in the nation’s forests this summer but we have cancelled Forest Live 2020 to keep everyone safe in line with recent government guidance on the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

 "We really hope that everyone’s support to fight Covid-19 means the situation will have improved by the summer however, as well as our valued customers, we work with a large number of volunteers, artists and contractors, to make these concerts happen and have taken this decision in the interest of safety for everyone involved."

The Shows Must Go On!
Andrew Lloyd Webber is to stream one of his musicals on YouTube each week during coronavirus pandemic.

Lloyd Webber’s free YouTube initiative, The Shows Must Go On!, will begin with a production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The musical will be available on YouTube from Friday (April 3) at 7pm for 48 hours.

Craig Kallman’s tribute to Adam Schlesinger
Atlantic Records US CEO Craig Kallman has paid tribute to Fountains Of Wayne co-founder Adam Schlesinger, who has died aged 52 after contracting coronavirus.

Kallman said: “It is with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the passing of Adam Schlesinger, a key figure in Atlantic’s move into the indie pop and alt-rock scene of the ’90s. Adam was simultaneously a member of two Atlantic groups, Ivy and Fountains of Wayne. We released two Ivy albums: 1995’s Realistic and 1997’s Apartment Life, which Billboard called one of that year’s 10 best. At the same time, Adam co-founded Fountains Of Wayne, who recorded two albums for us, their 1996 self-titled debut and 1999’s Utopia Parkway, both of which earned acclaim for their humour, intelligence, and modern take on classic power pop. Hailed as ‘a master of the cleverly catchy’, Adam went on to a remarkably diverse career as an artist, songwriter, and producer, earning three Emmy Awards, a Grammy, and an ASCAP Pop Music Award. We are proud to have been part of his brilliant career, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, his many friends and collaborators, and his devoted fans around the world.”

Liverpool Sound City Guest House
Liverpool Sound City has launched a subscription-based performance series to support rising talent. The first episode features filmed performances by Molly Green, Crawlers, Fever and Bronnie. Subscriptions cost £4.99 and are shared between artists.

“The urgency for Guest House came from the situation forced upon us all by the global outbreak of the coronavirus,” said a statement. “Guest House allows musicians to maintain desperately needed income during this difficult time and it also allows fans to get closer to the artists they love and continue to support them as the normal ways to see them have been cancelled and isolation is in place.”

Gary Salzman dies of Covid-19 complications
Music manager Gary Salzman has died after contracting coronavirus. Big Management announced that Salzman passed away on March 31. He worked with artists including David Guetta, Everything But The Girl and Todd Terry.

"We here at Big Management join Gary’s family, friends, and loved ones in this great loss," said the company in a statement. "For those of you who knew Gary, we ask that you remember and celebrate his smile, hard work ethic, sense of humor, and big heart. We hope that in this tough time you are all able to remember Gary’s passion and love for not only the music industry but for each and every artist he’s worked with throughout his dedicated career."

Weekly rock title Kerrang! has annouced that it is going to temporarily suspend its publication, with a set return date of Wednesday July 8. Its website and digital channels will remain active. An official statement read: 

"Following a period of unprecedented turmoil within the music industry and beyond, we are temporarily suspending the publication of Kerrang! magazine for three months. The magazine will return on Wednesday July 8 and we continue to publish it every week from that point onwards. 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.

The closure of several local newsagents and the decrease of sales at travel points in the last fortnight have both affected what we do, along with the understandable decision taken by supermarkets to prioritise the delivery of groceries. Equally, the idea of telling our audience to visit a shop during a period of high contagion seems irresponsible.

The widespread cancellation and/or postponement of major festivals, tours and album releases also means that we are unable to deliver key pieces of coverage in May and June. That said, we will continue to serve you and to keep you informed on what’s happening in the scene that we all love by delivering the best rock content on the planet through our website, as well as through all of our digital channels.

We also have number of exciting plans that we will unveil in the next week or so that will provide you with further entertainment during these turbulent times.

For those who have subscriptions to the magazine, these will be extended by three months following our return to publication on July 8.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the magazine then. Until that point, thank you for your continued support of Kerrang! – we really appreciate it.

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay clean.

Team Kerrang!"

IMPALA joins trade bodies in calling for EU support
IMPALA has joined almost 40 pan-European music organisations to appeal for support from EU institutions and member states during coronavirus epidemic.

Member States and the European Commission are urged to significantly increase the national and EU budgets dedicated to culture, and within that to music, as well as providing swift access to structural funds.

“Music and culture are essential to offer citizens the renewed social and cultural bond that Europe will sorely need,” said a statement. “As decision makers reflect on how to address the crisis, culture must be recognised as a priority sector.”

Sony’s $100 million relief fund

Sony Corp and Sony Music have revealed how they are helping people affected by Covid-19. Click here for the details.

Glassnote stages Sofa Sets livestream

Aurora, Jade Bird, mxmtoon, Mansionair, Hamilton Leithauser and Taylor Janzen will take part in a live-streamed music festival on Friday (April 3). The goal of the Sofa Sets initiative is to educate audiences about the importance of social distancing and empower them with the real-time data they need to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

Staged by creative, data and technology agency Wunderman Thompson and Glassnote Records, Sofa Sets will use viewers’ location data to create a real-time visualization map illustrating the number of hospital stays prevented, ventilators freed up and lives saved as viewers stay home to watch the musicians perform for fans. The event will be live-streamed via on April 3 between 8pm and 11pm (UK).

Daniel Glass, president and founder of Glassnote Records, said: "We are all, rightfully, afraid to interact with our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers, and even our families. But at the same time, we must connect with one another and strengthen our communities - even when we are physically apart. We hope that through the Sofa Sets performances, communities will bond and music will demonstrate the importance of positivity. I frankly hope that our data visualizations scare you, but I urge everyone to channel that fear and anxiety toward building bridges across the divide. We can get through this, together.”

Help Musicians hardship fund

A £5 million hardship fund set up to offer support to musicians struggling financially due to coronavirus has run out in a matter of days.

The fund – created by Help Musicians and launched on March 25 – is in the process of arranging one-off payments of £500 to 10,000 musicians across the UK in order to help them with household expenses and other living costs.

Help Musicians’ chief executive James Ainscough said: “We are delighted to be able to help out 10,000 musicians during this difficult time, but the reality of the situation is that many more need help, and the funds have run dry. Not only do thousands more need assistance, but the £500 grants we have been able to provide will not last the 2-3 month gap until they receive government support. Not only do we need more donations to help us provide immediate hardship relief, the government must act with urgency if musicians are to have any hope of surviving financially over the next few months.”

Donations can be made to the charity.

“The UK is a nation of music lovers and we are seeing online and from balcony to balcony, how music can connect the isolated and lift the spirits of a nation,” said Ainscough. “As hard as it is for many at this time, we need to ask those who can afford it to help by donating, because the bottom line is that musicians need vital financial assistance.” 

Tributes to Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger

Tributes have been paid to Fountains Of Wayne co-founder and bassist Adam Schlesinger, who has died aged 52 after being diagnosed with coronavirus. A full obituary appears here.

“I knew him best as a mentor, and a friend,” said Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional.

Diane Warren said: “RIP Adam Schlesinger. Love and prayers to his family. Thank U for the songs.”

Singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins said: “I’m heartbroken to hear about Adam Schlesinger’s passing. He was one of the 1st people I ever co-wrote a song with and we went on the road with Fountains of Wayne back in the day. He was really sweet and beyond talented. My heart goes out to his family and band mates.”

Justin Bieber postpones tour

Justin Bieber has postponed his Changes Tour in response to the global health crisis. It was due to launch on May 14 in Washington and continue through to September.

"In light of the current public health crisis, and with the deepest concern for all those being affected, Justin Bieber will be postponing all currently scheduled 2020 dates for The Changes Tour," reads an official statement.

Country Music Association’s $1m donation

The Country Music Association and its philanthropic arm, the CMA Foundation, have announced a $1 million pledge to the Covid-19 Relief fund, which has been established by the RIAA and MusiCares. The funds will be used to provide support to those in the US music industry whose employment has been impacted by the effects of the virus. It will specifically assist in covering mortgage and rent costs to help keep out-of-work industry professionals in their homes.

“We have heard firsthand the many ways the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted not only our CMA members but the music industry at large,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA CEO. “Our goal is to be a resource and support system for those in the music business who are currently struggling, and we’re incredibly grateful for MusiCares’ commitment to serve music industry professionals, especially right now. Our business does not exist without these hardworking individuals who make up the touring industry as well as our artists, songwriters and musicians, and we hope our pledge can provide a bit of comfort during these troubling times.”

Eurovision replacements

Following the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020, the EBU and its Dutch Members NPO, NOS and AVROTROS have confirmed that they are producing a new show, Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light. It will air in place of the final on May 16.

BBC One is screening its own alternative, Eurovision: Come Together. Presented by Graham Norton and produced by BBC Studios, the show will feature classic Eurovision performances, a look at what would have been in 2020 and interviews including this year’s UK entry James Newman. 

Classical quarantine

BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four have unveiled classical music content on radio, TV and online, as part of the cross-arts, cross-platform, BBC Arts festival, Culture in Quarantine. It includes an eight-hour simulcast with the European Broadcasting Union of a performance of Max Richter’s Sleep on April 11.

“We hope to guide audiences through isolation with specially put together classical content be it radio, tv or online. There is something for everyone,” said Alan Davey, controller of classical music.

Edinburgh August Festivals off

The five festivals that transform Edinburgh every August are not going ahead this year due to concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic. Edinburgh Art Festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are not happening as planned in 2020.  

Radio listening up

Radiocentre has reported double-digit increases in online listening for commercial stations during the Covid-19 lockdown. Click here for Guy Garvey’s take on the unique power of the medium.

Global said that there had been a significant increase in connected radio listening, with daily reach up 15% and hours up 9%, between 9-17 March. Figures from a week later (March 16-22) for Bauer also show an average daily reach increase of 15%, and average daily hours up 13% week-on-week. The broadcaster also reported a record daily reach for Bauer Radio streaming on Friday 20 March.

Siobhan Kenny, CEO of Radiocentre, said: “As the UK acclimatises to a new world of working from home and enforced isolation, radio proves its strength as a hugely valuable source of information, reassurance, company and, most importantly, fun. As one of the most trusted and accessible forms of media, it is perhaps no surprise that so many are tuning in right now.” 

CMA Fest cancelled

CMA Fest has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus. The country music event in Nashville had been scheduled for June 4-7.

In a statement, organisers said: “Whether you planned to attend CMA Fest for the first time, or you have attended many times throughout the last 48 years, we know how special this festival is for Country Music fans around the globe and that many will be disappointed by this decision.”

CMA will honour four-day passes purchased for this year’s event for CMA Fest 2021 on June 10-13.

Live Nation Crew Fund 

Live Nation has backed Crew Fund, a charity fund to help workers during the concert shutdown. Click here for details.

Beatport livestream

Digital dance music platform Beatport’s 34-hour livestream raised more than $180,000 to help those affected by Covid-19. Click here for CEO Robb McDaniels discussing the impact of the epidemic on the dance sector.

Rick Astley to perform for NHS staff, emergency services

Rick Astley has announced a free concert for NHS staff, care workers and all blue light staff. He will play a career-spanning set on October 28 at Manchester Arena. Those eligible for tickets will be all frontline NHS workers, primary care workers plus the emergency services across the UK.

“Our NHS and emergency services are amazing,” said Astley. “This concert is a thank you to all those fantastic frontline staff. I promise my band and I will give it everything to give you a great night out.” 

Gods Of Rap II tour cancelled

This year’s incarnation of the Gods Of Rap tour – featuring Nas, DMX, The Lox, plus Gang Starr – has been cancelled. An official statement read: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Gods of Rap II tour is regrettably cancelled.Customers can obtain a refund from their point of purchase."

The Shires

UK country act The Shires have rescheduled their planned April/May tour. A recent tweet stated: "Sadly, due to the current situation our tour dates have been re-scheduled for later this year. We're so sorry to disappoint anyone but we must put everyone’s safety first! We advise to keep hold of your tickets as they all remain valid for the new respective dates!"

Sam Smith renames album, pushes back release

Sam Smith has confirmed that the upcoming To Die For album will be renamed and be released at a later date in 2020, as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. Capitol had been due to drop the singer’s third album on May 1.

“I have done a lot of thinking the last few weeks and feel that the title of my album and imminent release doesn’t feel right, so I have come to the decision to continue working on the album and make some important changes and additions,” said Smith.

MPA ‘working tirelessly’ for members

The MPA has issued a statement to underline its support for members during the current economic disruption.

Paul Clements, MPA Group CEO said: “The MPA Group is working tirelessly to give all of our publisher and direct MCPS songwriter/composer members, all the support, information and sense of community we possibly can. We are focused on making sure that government support is for all and that no-one is left behind at this time of need. All the while we are forecasting what changes in market conditions may mean to our members over the coming months. This will become ever more important information the longer this unprecedented situation goes on. For the time being, I am pleased to confirm that our MCPS April distribution will be delivered to members, as scheduled.

“Investment, care and support for our industry’s creative talent is at the heart of everything we do in our sector and its continued focus will help us all through this crisis together. The MPA will endeavour to ensure that music publishing is supported and protected throughout this difficult time, which will in turn protect our creative community for decades to come.”

Roberto Neri, MPA chair, added: "The music publishing community are currently focused on making sure that songwriters are safe, whilst continuing to present them with ongoing creative opportunities. They also continue to collect from over 20,000 pay sources, as they navigate the minefield of this unprecedented time and provide a full service offering to songwriters. It is appreciated that PRS and other CMOs around the world are looking at ways of helping publishers and songwriters at this moment. This will provide a lifeline for publishers and songwriters suffering hardship at this time. 

“It is important to work cross industry now too and I feel fortunate as MPA chair to be a current board director at UK Music. 72% of the UK Music Industry are self-employed and we are continuing to lobby Government to ensure they are not left behind. The Chancellor’s statement last week was welcome, but our musicians and sound engineers require more immediate support now. We welcome Tom Watson as our new chair at UK Music and we (The MPA) look forward to working with him to help support our industry through this crisis."

Charli XCX reveals self-isolation schedule

Following on from a week of digital events produced in quarantine due to the outbreak of Covid-19, Charli XCX has announced a renewed schedule of Instagram livestreams to provide entertainment for those in self-isolation.

This week’s online events includ a vocal coaching session with Tove Lo, a life drawinbg class with artist Lucas David and yoga practice with Ashnikko. Head to Charli XCX’s Instagram for the full schedule.

Universal Music response to Covid-19

Universal Music Group has outlined its response to the Covid-19 epidemic. Measures include protecting workers’ pay and enhanced benefits, as well as launching the UMG All Together Now Foundations to support employees with extraordinary needs.

UMG companies are offering various forms of assistance to qualifying artists, songwriters and independent labels, including interest-free royalty advances and fee waivers. UMG is also providing artists with tools and platforms to reach fans and generate income when touring is not possible. The major is also backing artist initiatives.

All Together Now: Stay Connected, will provide direct financial support from UMG to organisations such as MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund and Help Musicians UK.

In addition to the support given to staff, the UK business has expedited payments to all smaller suppliers, including video producers, photographers, and stylists). Universal Music UK is providing targeted support to freelance musicians and crew whose tours and recording sessions have been cancelled.

Payments will be made to for work that had been scheduled in the next three months, including musicians and crew; musicians who were booked for studio sessions with UMG artists; and freelance engineers who had been booked to work on sessions for Universal Music artists and projects at Abbey Road Studios.

The UK major has extended payment terms for key indie retail partners. Signed artists who are suffering hardship can request royalty payments.

Streaming services on changing habits

DSPs have reported on how users are changing their habits on the platforms. Spotify said there has been an increase in collaborative playlists as well as sharing via social media. Live streams on other platforms are also driving consumption on Spotify –  recent livestreaming artists including James Blake, Indigo Girls, Ben Gibbard and Jewel have seen spikes.

Deezer said that instead of the usual 7am weekday peak for streaming, the world has shifted to 9-10am. On the weekend, people are streaming constantly in the afternoon. While Fridays previously had the highest stream volume of the week, this changed after social activities stopped. Now consumption is even across the week. 

Adjusting to this new way of living has meant a bigger demand for content driven by mood. In the week following the launch of Deezer’s Stay At Home channel, playlists like Mellow Days increased streams by 335%. The Feel Good playlist is the second most streamed in the channel worldwide. Happy Hits also saw a lift of 53% globally. 

Apple Music has launched Come Together, a special space on the platform to help provide comfort, motivation and focus. New playlists span multiple genres and include Isolation Icebreakers, Work From Home Hustle and Virtual Hugs.

MIDEM 2020 cancelled

MIDEM’s 2020 edition in June has been cancelled. The full story is here.

Living Room Concert

YouTube is now streaming the benefit special Fox Presents The iHeart Living Room Concert For America, until Wednesday night (April 2) on iHeartRadio’s YouTube Channel. The one-hour event was created to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Hosted by Elton John, the special features performances by Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish, Backstreet Boys, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Dave Grohl, Camila Cabello, HER, Mariah Carey, Sam Smith, Tim McGraw and more, from their own homes, filmed with their personal phones, cameras and audio equipment.

SACEM emergency fund

SACEM has launched a €6 million rescue fund for members who are most in distress and can no longer meet their own basic needs. Grants will amount to €1500, €3000 or €5000, depending on the situation. The operational arrangements for the emergency fund will be active by April 2.

The collection society will also implement exceptional royalty advances, which could reach €36 million.

The existing aid programme run by SACEM’s cultural action team and earmarked for music publishers will get additional funding of €1 million. It will broaden its criteria in an effort to see them through the crisis period and support their recovery.

Record Store Day campaign

A daily campaign to highlight the UK's independent record shops during the Covid-19 outbreak has been launched. The social media driven #recordstoreoftheday initiative, created by music distributors, will shine the spotlight on a different outlet each day, beginning with Kingston's Banquet Records (March 30). Click here for the full story.

Twitch Stream Aid 2020

Dozens of artists took part in a livestream via Twitch to raise money for the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO powered by the United Nations Foundation.

The 24-hour event on the Amazon-owned platform was kicked off by Lauv and Ellie Goulding. Twitch Stream Aid 2020 also featured performances, appearances and messages from Garth Brooks, Barry Gibb, Ashley McBryde, Biffy Clyro, Sigrid, Luke Combs, Rita Ora and John Legend.

Amazon Music supported the event and featured playlists from participating artists.

OCC, ERA add indie retail home delivery sales to chart

The Official Charts Company (OCC) and the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) are working to increase the number of independent retailers who can report home delivery sales for the chart.

With many indie stores responding to the closure of non-essential shops caused by the Covid-19 outbreak by switching to a home delivery/mail order model, the charts' research contractor Kantar, together with ERA, have moved to count their home delivery sales. Click here for the full story.

ASCAP welcomes CARES Act

ASCAP has welcomed the US Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion emergency relief bill that provides economic assistance for businesses and individuals affected by the Covid-19 crisis. It includes provisions that may help music creators who are self-employed, independent contractors and those who own or work for small businesses.

ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams said: “We are reminded in difficult times like these how music unites us, and we are thankful that all sides have joined in solidarity to help everyone affected by this crisis, particularly our community of songwriters and composers who bring so much joy to the world. ASCAP will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that American music creators can weather this storm and continue sharing their incredible talents with the world."

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews said: “We are grateful that support is coming for millions of American songwriters and music creators whose lives and livelihoods have been upended by this crisis. In particular, music creators who are self-employed and those who own or work for small businesses will now receive emergency assistance, thanks to the music community rallying together to draw attention to their needs. As the entire music industry faces an uncertain future, ASCAP stands ready to do our part to help music creators endure these difficult times.”

Joe Diffie (1958-2020)

GRAMMY-winning country artist Joe Diffie has died from complications of coronavirus. The 61-year-old passed away on Sunday (March 29). 

His songs have been performed by Jason Aldean and Chris Young. He also penned hits for Tim McGraw, Conway Twitty and Jo Dee Messina. 

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