This Week In Music – 31st January 2019

A weekly update on all things music, advertising and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM


Absolutely floored by this artist’s song “Dead Boys”. With suicide spiking across the UK, Fender tackles the issue with clarity and power. The song reminds me a little of Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia which was about a different, albeit just as deadly a health crisis. One lyric stands out: “Everybody round here just drinks, ‘cos that’s our culture”.

Fender came to the attention of Ben Howard’s manager in 2013 and signed to major label Polydor in the summer of 2018. Sam’s debut single was Play God in March 2017, which was streamed over a million times on Spotify. This was followed by the announcement that the singer-songwriter had won the BRITs Critics’ Choice Award.

Ed note: On average, 84 men take their own lives in the UK every week. CALM’s free, anonymous and confidential helpline and web chat are open every day, 5pm-midnight (GMT)…


Studio Yes, a creative agency, decided to use a different approach to finding new talent. Using Theresa May’s Brexit woes as its backdrop, the film featuring the UK Prime Minister has currently racked up over 40 million organic views.

I love this ad because it is so funny and perfectly connected to the zeitgeist. Wouldn’t it be amazing if she really did that behind closed doors?


The British music industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom, with artists such as Ed Sheeran, Adele, Stormzy, Dua Lipa and Rag’n’Bone Man achieving record-breaking revenues at home and abroad. But with Brexit looming, the industry is alarmed at the lack of any clear plan to continue this success once the UK leaves the EU.

UK-based Beggars Group, which houses Mercury Prize-winning artist Sampha along with indie labels Rough Trade, XL Recordings (home to Radiohead and Adele) and 4AD, issued a warning over the effect Brexit could have on emerging artists – specifically with regards to restrictions on travel for artists, tariff costs, duties and withholding taxes on royalties. “Revenues from the EU are a critical element of the business,” its directors said in a recent statement. “Therefore, it is of some concern that the arrival of Brexit may hold back further growth.”

It’s not just the indie labels who are worried. Major artists such as Rod Stewart have been vocal in their wish to have a second referendum – a people’s vote – on Brexit. “I think the people have been fooled,” he said in a recent interview with The Independent.

Live may also be affected. Industry bodies have been issuing stark warnings for months about the potential effects of a bad Brexit deal on the UK music scene. Live events accounted for £1bn of revenue, thanks to major world tours by the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Sir Paul McCartney – five of the top 10 most successful world tours were from UK acts. The O2 in London was the world’s most popular arena that year. Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), says that a “strong” agreement with the EU is required to ensure Brexit does not negatively impact Britain’s musical imports and exports.

One constantly hears about the manufacturing, farming and service industries being affected by Brexit and it easy to forget that music contributes massively to the UK economy – not just financially, but also in terms of projecting our culture across the globe.


Losses narrowed to 27%

SoundCloud boss Kerry Trainor claimed last year that the streaming company generated more than $100m in 2017 – and it turns out he was good as his word. Berlin-based SoundCloud has just filed its 2017 accounts with UK Companies House.

SoundCloud’s global revenues in the calendar year hit €90.7m ($102m), increasing 80% on the €50.3m it posted in 2016. Within that figure, subscription revenues (covering users paying for a Pro/Pro Unlimited upload account, as well as users paying for a SoundCloud Go/Go+ listening account) nearly doubled, up 89% to €72.6m ($82m) from €38.4m in 2016. Advertising revenues grew 53% year-on-year in 2017, up to €18.1m ($20m). Some 71% of SoundCloud’s total revenues in the year were generated in the United States, compared with 69% in 2016.

This platform continues to defy expectations and looks to become a relevant music platform for the foreseeable future.


Launches two lawsuits against Universal Music Group and EMI Music Publishing.

Little is known about the filings other than their intention: to remove himself from deals with both parties. And, perhaps, to regain control of his catalog.

West was certainly keen to “buy my publishing” from EMP – now fully owned by Sony Corp, and administered by Sony/ATV – in October, because he said as much in a video posted online that month.

“I went to go buy my publishing from Sony/ATV, and they said it was $8 million, $9 million,” he said. “And when I went to buy it, they told me no, I couldn’t buy my publishing… I have the money to buy my publishing, and they told me that I couldn’t buy my publishing.”

Kanye West originally signed to EMI Music Publishing in 2003. Little is known about the filings other than their intention: to remove himself from deals with both parties.


‘7 Rings’ was streamed 16.9m times.

Ariana Grande has broken the UK record for the most streams of a song in a week, attributed to her new single ‘7 Rings’.

The news comes with the track also reaching Number One in the charts (126,000 copies sold). ‘7 Rings’ was streamed a UK record-breaking 16.9m times last week, surpassing Mariah Carey’s 15.3m plays in a week in December 2018 for ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’.


Taking mobile music technology to a whole new level

The wrist-borne keyboard features seven monophonic keys and a palette of 200 sounds to play with, although the company is also working on a chord-playing, polyphonic version. It has in-built wireless connectivity, and works alongside an iOS app with a built-in sequencer that allows you to control, record and tweak the sounds. It’s being developed by Audioweld, an Italian watch-making company with designs on the music industry.

The Audioweld Synthwatch has been in development for two years, and funds are currently being raised on Kickstarter. Backers pledging £425 will get a discounted version if the project reaches its target of £68,356 and goes into production. It charges via USB C, and has a 3.5mm jack and line out for hooking up to an amp or speaker. It’s splash-proof too, for those all-important jam sessions when you’re waiting for a bus in the rain. And yes: it does also tell the time.


Written by Anthony Vanger

Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf

Artwork by Gustav Balderdash

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