Cali Opens! Concerts Come Crawling Back
WMG Says Songwriters Aren't "Authors," UMG Resists Reassign Royalties, Pandora Streams Just Got More Money
Yesterday marked the official reopening of California, ending all COVID restriction and ushering in a return to normal—whatever that actually looks like. And while it was tempting to try to cop a ticket to last night’s not-so-secret Foo Fighters show at the Canyon Club in Agora Hills, crossing into the San Fernando Valley on the 405 during rush hour has also returned to its pre-pandemic unpleasantness. So that’s a no go.
So where are all the shows!? A quick search around the LA revealed scant few options, with nothing that would be considered headliner-quality scheduled for our first night of maskless fun and frolic. Shouldn’t concert promoters be ready to start tearing tickets?
Even with restrictions gone, we’re still at least a month away from widespread concerts returning to California—a sign that promoters remain conservative in booking shows. But if the past year has shown us anything, it’s that life comes at you pretty fast. Expect lots of last minute shows in the coming weeks as performers look to knock off the dust of 2020 and prepare to get back in front of full-capacity audiences.
The darker side to this return of concerts is a report by the LA Times of rampant issues of foreclosures, divorces and suicides that have plagued roadies and crew workers, most of whom worked on a contract basis before shutdown and struggled to receive economic help during the past 15 months. Equally upsetting is the news that the Small Business Administration missed its self-imposed June 9th deadline for sending out relief payments under the Small Venue Operator Grant program. So unless you have the backing of a publicly traded entertainment conglomerate, the damage done by COVID might not be so easily reversible.
But if you are a publicly traded entertainment conglomerate, the future is bright. Live Nation president Joe Berchtold and AEG CEO Dan Beckerman used the terms “pent-up” and “unprecedented” respectively to describe demand for concerts. This means you can expect tickets to be tougher than ever acquire. Might be time to cash out some of that crypto you’ve been hlding all year splurge on the secondary market. Because unless the concert giants spent the pandemic devising some as-yet unrevealed system to eliminate scalping, this to truly going to be a hot StubHub summer.
In the meantime, there are at least half-a-dozen tribute bands—a true LA tradition—playing nearby in the coming days. Fan Halen, Queen Nation, Righteous & the Wicked (RHCP), The Long Run (The Eagles) or Led Zepagain? That is the question.
The most salient statements from this week’s news.
1. The Jesus and Mary Chain Sues Warner Music Group for $2.55 Million for Refusing to Return Copyrights
UK artists could be at a disadvantage in reclaiming their copyrights under a U.S. law that reverts rights back to the original authors after 35-years.
Takeaway: Warner Music higher-ups maintained that the plaintiffs “do not have the right to serve a Notice of Termination upon the current grantee (WMG) because the works at issue are subject to only British law, and plaintiffs are not ‘authors’ of the works.
Services like Apple Music 1 and Pandora will have to pay higher rates as part of a Consumer Price Index adjustment by the U.S. Copyright Royalties Board.
Takeaway: It’s a great example of the power of strong bargaining groups including SoundExchange, the unions, indie and major record companies, and a broad cross-section of music users.
Universal Music clarified their recent denials of Letters of Direction, but the relationship between labels and music investors is still complicated.
Takeaway: The reason for the additional oversight as music asset sales boom: These arrangements "Put the label in business with someone it didn't choose to be in business with."
Money from outside of the traditional music industry continues to pour in.
Takeaway: “Artists are forced into this specific cookie cutter mold to succeed. Back in the older days, music was all about collectibility."