Operators in Australian live music industry warn of further job cuts

With several industries severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, Australia’s live music industry is no exception. Most of the live entertainment operators estimate that the music industry will take until 2025 to recover from the impact of audience restrictions and shutdowns that have hampered it for almost a year.

Based on a survey conducted by Live Performance Australia (LPA), the apex body for live entertainment, on its more than 300 members, around 90% of them have stated that they are still dependent on the jobkeeper wage subsidy for continuing operations or for retaining the staff. One-third of the members who responded to the survey have stated that they will have to lay off the staff once the wage subsidy ends on March 28.

Speaking on the daunting situation, chief executive of LPA, Evelyn Richardson, stated that the pandemic has made a devastating impact on live entertainment. She also added that the industry has faced an estimated economic output loss of $24 billion along with a loss of $11 billion in terms of industry value.

Reportedly, the live performance sector has recorded a loss of around 80,000 jobs over the past 10 months.

Richardson further stated that although, the Australian Taxation Office has claimed that 90% of the 1.3 million jobs that were lost across the country have been restored, this does not reflect in the live performance industry. LPA is gradually getting its shows back, but under high restrictions due to which the business is expected to suffer heavily, she added.

Sources have confirmed that LPA has been in communication with Treasury and the federal arts minister, Paul Fletcher, pressing for targeted financial support until the end of 2021.

Last week, over 3,500 live music professionals had signed an open letter to Fletcher as well as the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, requesting for extending the deadline for jobkeeper beyond March 28 for the members working in the entertainment sector.

Source credit: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2021/feb/22/more-job-losses-ahead-for-australian-live-music-industry-operators-warn

Universal airs global launch of Virgin Music Label & Artist Services

American music corporation, Universal Music Group (UMG), has reportedly launched Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, which is its new international division dedicated to serve independent artists and labels in music field. According to the company, this initiative has been inspired and influenced by the essence of the distinguished Virgin Records label.

Under this initiative, the US based Caroline, UMG-owned Capitol Music Group’s independent services division, as well as Caroline operations in Germany, UK, and France will be retitled as Virgin Music Label & Artist Services.

Moreover, this services division will also be launched in Spain and Mexico along with the launch of Latin operations in the US, across Miami and Los Angeles. UMG has claimed that this will be the world’s first completely integrated label services division for Latin music.

Reportedly, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, is expected to be a separate global operation of Ingrooves, which had been acquired by UMG in 2019, and since then has been focusing on accelerating the global expansion.

Expressing his delight on this new initiative, Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG, stated that this global launch marks an important evolution of its strategy of being a crucial partner and an accelerator for the finest independent artists and entrepreneurs in the music industry.

For the record, in the US, Virgin Label & Artist Services will run under the leadership of Jacqueline Saturn, as the President of the new division, and will report to Michelle Jubelirer, President and COO, Capitol Music Group.

In the UK, the new division will be led by Vanessa Higgins as MD, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services UK, and will report to David Joseph, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK.

In France, the new division will be led by Thomas Lorain in the capacity of MD, Virgin Music Labels & Artist Services France.

In Germany, Tina Adams will be leading the new division as the Label Manager and will report to Frank Briegmann, Chairman & CEO of Deutsche Grammophon and Universal Music Central Europe.

In LATAM & Iberia, Virgin Music will be led by Víctor González, in the position of President, Virgin Music for the region.

Source credit: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/universal-launches-virgin-music-label-artist-services-rebranding-caroline-and-caroline-international/


BioSteel establishes a multi-year partnership with U.S. Soccer Federation

  • The sports drink company will now be the official sponsor of USMNT, USWNT, Youth team and extended national teams
  • The multi-year agreement commences with a premium women’s soccer tournament, SheBelieves Cup, starting February 18, 2021 at the Exploria Stadium in Florida

BioSteel, a sports hydration company, has reportedly signed a multi-year partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation. This makes the company an official sponsor of U.S soccer. This deal initiates with the SheBelieves Cup, considered to be one of the top women’s soccer tournaments,which begins on February 18 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando with the final match scheduled on February 24.

This agreement was executed by Soccer United Marketing, who have been partners of U.S. Soccer for over 15 years. As part of the deal, BioSteel will provide their zero-sugar sports drink packed inside an eco-friendly tetra pak container. These drinks will be available to all national soccer teams of the United States, from USMNT, USWNT to extended national teams.

BioSteel products will be placed on the sidelines during practice sessions and matches, in training camps and in locker rooms as well. This will project the brand message of ‘Clean. Healthy. Hydration.’ across all levels of U.S. Soccer. BioSteel’s logo will be branded on squirt bottles, towels, cups and coolers placed on sidelines.

The company will gain substantial exposure through their in-stadium digital signatures. This will further expand with social and digital integrations, retail activities with brand ambassadors and Team BioSteel athletes.

John Celenza, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of BioSteel, has apparently stated that the company looks forward to making future investments in U.S. Soccer and they appreciate the Soccer Federation for choosing a healthy drink to hydrate their players without compromising the environment.

David Wright, the Chief Commercial Officer of U.S. Soccer Federation, reportedly stated that BioSteel is dynamic as a brand and that they are committed towards bolstering the Federations’ vision for future growth in the sport.

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Hyundai unveils new interior design for its EV platform, IONIQ 5

Motioning towards the idea of offering enhanced passenger comfort, Hyundai Motor Company has recently released images of its BEV model, IONIQ 5’s spacious interior. Sources acquaint with this development state that the IONIQ 5 will debut at Hyundai’s virtual world premiere on February 23rd, 2021.

Built on the Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), IONIQ 5 houses a flat battery base that enables a more spacious and modular interior, offering flexible configurations to comfortably seat both passengers and their luggage.

The E-GMP platform enables integration of a longer wheelbase and flat floor, features that make IONIQ 5 stand out from other midsize crossovers, particularly those with IC (internal combustion) engines and traditional Steer-by-Wire systems.

Thanks to the flat floor design that allows the center console to slide back and forth, driver and passengers in the vehicle can enter and exit the cabin freely from either side when parked.

Expressing his views, SangYup Lee, Senior VP & Head, Hyundai Global Design Center, said that the IONIQ 5 is a statement of design that presents optimistic features that customers are looking for in the EV era.

Apparently, Hyundai believes in an imminent need for eco-conscious mobility solutions that have a lower impact on the environment. With this vision, the company’s designers have focused on using eco-friendly and sustainably sourced materials in the IONIQ 5.

For example, the seats in the IONIQ 5 at cladded in a sustainable, eco-processed leather that is then dyed and treated with plant-based oil extractions squeezed from flaxseed. Similarly, other soft furnishings used in the cabin compose of textiles that are sourced from sustainable fibers like wool, sugar cane bio components, and poly yarns, as well as materials woven from fibers that are made from recycled PET plastic bottles.

Moreover, components such as switches, dashboard, steering wheel and door panels are layered with a polyurethane bio paint made from rape flowers and corn.

Source Credit: https://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/hyundai-reveals-ioniq-5-s-living-space-and-sustainable-interior-ahead-of-virtual-world-premiere-858678338.html

UMG invests in Big Hit’s livestreaming content platform VenewLive

Universal Music Group is reportedly making an investment in VenewLive, the livestreaming content platform owned by K-pop giant, Big Hit Entertainment. The transaction also comprises Blackpink’s record label, YG Entertainment, as an investor.

The new backing will enable Big Hit to exercise the potential of livestreaming technology by extending the reach of its livestream events. Universal and YG will also have the opportunity to develop new avenues for their artists to connect with their fans.

According to the CEO of Big Hit Global, Lenzo Yoon, the company’s dream and objective is to offer the most advanced technology that is presently available so that fans could experience the content of the artists in the best manner plausible under any circumstances. Yoon also added that the company will continue to study how new attempts and technologies in various fields could have a positive impact on strengthening its fan experience and how these technologies could be introduced.

For the uninitiated, the venture behind VenewLive, KBYK Live, was jointly established by Kiswe, a video company based in New Jersey, and Big Hit in May 2020. The concert platform was launched shortly thereafter. As per records, VenewLive has already put on some of the biggest livestreaming concerts. One of these comprises BTS’s MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E, which was streamed in October 2020 and witnessed a peak audience of 993,000.

By making use of Kiswe’s technologies, VenewLive has also developed the capacity of converting every concert experience to fit the attributes of specific artists, allowing fans watching to customize the content in the manner of their choice. The platform’s livestream experience on offer for fans comprises digital interactive features, 4K resolution, as well as multi-view technology.

VenewLive had reportedly hosted Justin Bieber’s Beverly Hilton Hotel concert on New Years’ Eve 2020.

Source credit: https://routenote.com/blog/universal-music-group-joins-forces-with-k-pop-labels-to-invest-in-big-hit-entertainment-livestreaming-platform/

Spotify commences the testing of live lyrics feature in the US

  • The music streaming service provider will now collaborate with Musixmatch for offering this feature
  • Currently under testing, Spotify has declined to reveal additional details regarding the expansion of this test

Swedish media service provider and audio streaming platform Spotify has reportedly confirmed its testing of a live lyrics feature in the United States market. Spotify has been offering this service in over 27 markets, including its latest release in South Korea. However, this feature was not available to American users for several years.

In the U.S., Spotify, in partnership with Genius, offers the “Behind the Lyrics” feature which provides a combination of trivia and lyrics of the song currently played. Spotify has commented that the new feature will be rolled out on an initial testing basis for some users in the United States starting from February 9, 2021.

A spokesperson at Spotify has reportedly stated that the audio streaming company frequently conducts such tests to enhance the user experience. Some of these tests can provide a learning experience whilst others can substantially broaden the user experience.

Although the company declined to provide additional details, they did mention that this new feature for the U.S. market is a collaborative effort with Musixmatch, which already runs this service on Spotify in non-US markets.

This is not Spotify’s first attempt at running a lyric feature in the US. The company worked with Musixmatch for 5 years, starting 2011 to 2016, before they terminated this partnership. Subsequently, Spotify collaborated with Genius and did not get back the lyrics feature in the U.S., despite huge demand from their American users. But in recent times, Spotify has revived its relationship with Musixmatch to test out the new lyrics feature for U.S. customers.

While it is currently in the testing phase, Spotify is yet to confirm the expansion of this test, which is why not all users from the U.S. are able to access this feature on the Spotify app.

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TikTok strikes global licensing deal with Universal Music Group

Chinese video-sharing social networking service- TikTok has reportedly inked a global licensing deal with leading American music corporation- Universal Music Group. Apparently, the ByteDance- owned video app struck a similar agreement with Sony Music in November and Warner Music Group in December.

For the record, the announcement was made few days after Universal pulled its catalog from TikTok’s competitor, Triller, with the company accusing the platform of withholding the payments to its artists.

As per a statement by the company, this new global agreement between TikTok and Universal Music Group offers equitable compensation to recording artists and songwriters and considerably expands and improves the firm’s prevailing relationships.

Notably, the deal covers recorded music by UMG’s artists and songwriters working with the Universal Music Publishing Group. Both TikTok and UMG have pledged to experiment with the new features available on the platform. Following which, TikTok users will be able to download clips for Universal’s wide music catalog.

According to Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music at TikTok, through the agreement, the companies will work towards reaching out to the music fans on the video-sharing social networking platform. Through the partnership with UMG and UMPG, TikTok will help source new talents.

It is worth mentioning that, in the year 2020, TikTok signed deals with Paris-based Believe and Merlin along with Dutch Collecting Society Buma or Stemra and Pan-European licensing hub ICE.

Citing reports, the China-based company published its first US Music report in December, in which it mentioned that more than 70 artists that broke on the platform in the past one year later signed major label deals.

In addition to the above, TikTok also reported that nearly 176 songs crossed 1 billion video views as TikTok sounds in the year 2020.

In July 2020, the ByteDance-owned service inked a deal with many music publishers through an agreement with the National Music Publishers Association in the U.S.

Source Credit: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/tiktok-and-universal-music-group-sign-global-licensing-deal/


Rolls Royce considering shutdown of jet engine plants to curb losses

Rolls Royce, the renowned British engineering firm, is reportedly contemplating plans to close down its civil aircraft jet engine factories for a duration of approximately two weeks in a bid to curb losses.

As per reliable reports, Rolls Royce has suffered a drastic fall in sales during the pandemic with lesser jets in the air that need servicing.

The plans are unconfirmed because the firm aims to discuss an agreement with the unions first. Additionally, it has been clarified that this plan would not affect its energy or defense divisions.

Rolls Royce stated that under the agreement it reached last summer with the union, in principle it agreed to enter negotiations with regards to deliver nearly 10 per cent productivity as well as efficiency improvement in its Civil Aerospace operations across the UK.

The engineering giant added further that it has now started complex and useful discussions with the union on how this could be attained. As of now, no date for the shutdown has been set and Rolls Royce intends to spread the wage hit through 2021.

This would be the very first temporary shutdown for the engineering firm since the 1980s, when the company was re-privatized. Rolls Royce is shying away from complete use of the furlough scheme.

The firm added that it is continuing to utilize the UK Government CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) as well as other such schemes elsewhere across the globe, in Civil Aerospace areas where the workload has substantially decreased mainly because of coronavirus pandemic.

But, claiming temporary furlough unilaterally for all the employees in the UK Civil Aerospace business in a pre-planned way is not in line with the intent, nor is it within the true spirit of the scheme, as the workload is not affected in all parts.

The firm, already dropping billions of pounds in costs, predicts £2 billion of cash to leave the business in the current year, nearly more than double estimates. Furthermore, the new coronavirus strains are also making estimates much harder.

Source credit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55974073

Mondelez to return more of Cadbury Dairy Milk production to Bournville

Cadbury-owner, Mondelez International, has reportedly decided to bring back more of its Cadbury Dairy Milk production to its infamous factory situated in Bournville. According to a Mondelez statement, some part of the production in continental Europe would be returning to the United Kingdom.

The company has announced an investment of £15m at the Birmingham site and has also stated that 125 million additional Dairy Milk bars would be produced there from 2022.

According to the Manufacturing Director of Bournville, Roberto Gambaccini, Bournville is presently much more competitive across the manufacturing network of the company, especially when it comes to the production of high volume products like Cadbury Dairy Milk tablets.

Gambaccini has also stated that it is important that the company continues this journey, adding that this investment will help the company take complete advantage of the efficiencies that upskilling and modernization can create for the purpose of continuing the success and growth of the Bournville site.

Till date, nearly two thirds of Cadbury’s chocolate has been manufactured in Birmingham. However, the new investment would witness the manufacturing of almost all of its products at Bournville. While almost £11m of the new financing will be moved towards a new production line, the rest of the £4m will be spent in the scaling up of the company’s chocolate-making capacity.

As per Louise Stigant, the Managing Director of Mondelez’ UK, Bournville is still looked upon as the ‘heart of Cadbury’ and bringing more of the production back to this place has created a viable opportunity of investing in the plant. While a part of the manufacturing will stay overseas, the investment would not result in the creation of any new jobs, confirmed the company.

In 2020, Bournville produced 35,000 tonnes of Cadbury Dairy Milk tablets, which amounts to nearly 234 million bars. The recent investment will enable the company to make an additional 12,000 tonnes of chocolate, add sources.

Source credit: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-55938419

Ford Motor calls off plans for EV joint venture with China’s Zotye

Global auto manufacturer Ford Motor Company has recently announced its decision to terminate plans for an EV joint venture launch with China-based Zotye Automobile.

The auto giant revealed that its decision was prompted by significant changes in government policies and the electric vehicle industry since the agreements were initially signed with Zotye in 2017 and 2018 for battery-electric vehicle development and smart mobility, respectively. However, Ford declined to specify the exact changes that triggered this move.

Ford had recently stated that its joint venture in China with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co would initiate the production of the Mustang Mach-E all-electric vehicles.

Ford also claimed in a statement that it is planning to pursue a more flexible business model, that would facilitate the utilization of its existing operations in China and other regions, and help construct associated business centers.

Zotye declined to respond to requests for comment.

During a visit by former President of the United States, Donald Trump to China in 2017, Zotye and Ford came to a decision to invest a combined amount of $756 million, aiming for the establishment of a 50-50 JV in China to develop small electric passenger cars.

In 2018, the firms announced the signing of an MoU (memorandum of understanding) for another JV, to manufacture electric vehicles for ride-hailing fleets.

Various EV manufacturers, from home-grown firms like Nio Inc to industry-leading entities like Tesla Inc. have been making tremendous efforts to expand their production capacity in the largest auto industry in the world, where the government is encouraging the use of more sustainable vehicles as a solution for reduction of the chronic air pollution.

According to spokesperson T.R. Reid, the recent development will not affect the commitment of Ford towards producing vehicles for the largest EV market worldwide. Reid commented that if anything, the company’s intentions have become significantly more ambitious and greater than they were before, with efforts being made to find different ways to fulfill them.

Source Credit: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-fordmotor-china-zotye/ford-motor-terminates-electric-vehicle-plans-with-chinas-zotye-idUSKBN2A409A