Breaking Biz

A new dawn, or just a ray of light

It’s too early to celebrate, but the recorded music industry does appear to be finally climbing out of the darkness. ARIA last week reported the Australian record biz enjoyed growth of 5.5% in 2016, following a gain of 5% in 2015, with the budding streaming sector leading the way.

Total revenue climbed to A$352.2 million with income from streaming products growing by 90% year-on-year to A$135 million, or 38% of the big pie.

But wait, there’s more. Just days later, the RIAA announced recorded music revenue in the U.S., the world’s biggest record market, topped US$7.65 billion in 2016, a rise of 11.4 percent…just the first time double-digit growth had been reported in nearly 20 years. And the big star in all this? Streaming. And what a stellar story it was. Revenue from streaming grew by 68.5 percent to US$3.93 billion and the format is now the leading driver in the market stateside. These are welcome figures for an industry that for so many years was stuck in a downward spiral.  Consider these numbers: in 2000, the IFPI reported the global recorded music biz was worth US$36.9 billion. In 2015, the comparative figure was $15 billion.

Kobalt goes AWAL

Independent music services company Kobalt has unveiled AWAL, a mobile app which promises to “de-mystify” streaming data for its 20,000-odd independent artist and label partners. The app will gather data from Spotify and Apple Music, and will allow users to track sources of streaming, and get a better handle on who is listening to what, and where. Also, the app will show a running tally of what royalties are coming to the artist. The new app is all about putting “the power of data into the hands of independent artists to help them build a sustainable career from streaming,” notes Kobalt founder Willard Ahdritz. Additional services are reportedly in the works.

Barry Manilow the icon

He writes the songs that make the whole world sing. And he’s about to be appointed an Icon. Barry Manilow, the singer, songwriter and entertainer, will be bestowed the Icon Award at the 65th annual BMI Pop Awards, to be held May 9 in Beverly Hills. Manilow will join the ranks of previous honorees including Sting, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon, Carole King, John Fogerty, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson and Dolly Parton.

Snarky Puppy to share secrets

Here’s an opportunity that will get musos sitting up and barking like a dog. Snarky Puppy, the three-time Grammy-winning modern jazz ensemble which melted minds with their viral performance video for ‘Lingus,’ will share the secrets to their special sauce. Michael League, band leader and songwriter, has committed to a one-off masterclass at the Bar Petite in Newcastle on April 11, during which he will cover songwriting, arranging and musicianship. The landing page link for this exclusive session through the National Music Academy is here and the direct ticketing link is here.  Snarky Puppy is in the country for a string of shows, including a set at Bluesfest.

Movers & Shakers

Jack Stephens is now Creator Partnerships Manager at Spotify

He’s expected to work on Fans First campaigns offering pre-sales, merch offers, experiential opportunities and artist performances to fans identified via the streaming giant’s listener data. Stephens, who is based at the firm’s HQ in London, joins from ticketing platform Songkick, where served in Business Development.

Also joining Spotify is Wilbert Mutsaers, who reportedly takes duties as head of shows and editorial for the company’s Netherlands activities. Mutsaers was briefly CEO of Mojo Concerts, but left in November 2015 over a difference of opinion with the Live Nation-owned company.


Ikutaro Kakehashi passes

The music pioneer whose Roland Corporation rolled out a range of drum machines and synthesizers which shaped the sound of so many cutting-edge bands and electronic artists from the ‘70s through to today, has died at 87. Several musicians and fellow engineers paid their respects, including Roland developer Tommy Snyder who declared Kakehashi the “father of the TR-909,TR-808, Godfather of MIDI.” Kakehashi’s instruments have been a staple for generations of bands across the musical spectrum, from Duran Duran to Kraftwerk, Kanye West and Depeche Mode and many more.

The Dotted Line

Maynard James Keenan inks recording deal

While Tool fans eagerly await news of their prog-rock heroes’ next album, frontman Maynard James Keenan has been busy completing a deal for his other band, A Perfect Circle. The rockers have signed a worldwide recording deal with BMG ahead of the release of their first album in 13 years. A Perfect Circle has released three studio albums: Mer de Noms in 2000, 2003’s Thirteenth Step (2003) and 2004’s eMOTIVe.

Lee Brice signs with SESAC

Award-winning country artist and songwriter Lee Brice has signed with SESAC. The Nashville artist earned his first RIAA double-Platinum certification (for two million sales) for his 2014 single ‘I Don’t Dance,’’ which marked his seventh consecutive certification since ‘Love Like Crazy’ certified gold in 2010. Brice’s fourth studio album is expected to drop later in 2017 on Curb Records.

Chart Geek

Sheeran dethroned

Ed Sheeran is still king of the charts in the U.K. and Australia, but he’s been dethroned – as expected — on the U.S. albums chart by Drake’s latest More Life. Take That’s new set Wonderland couldn’t oust Sheeran’s Divide from the summit of the U.K. Albums Chart, where the English singer locks up a fourth winning week. Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ is No. 1 on the market’s singles chart for a 12th week. It’s a similar story in Australia, where Sheeran cracks the chart double for a fourth week.

In the U.S., Drizzy’s More Life started life with 505,000 equivalent album units, the strongest opening week for any LP since his last one, 2016’s Views. Sheeran can’t complain about his U.S. story. ‘Shape of You’ leads the Billboard Hot 100 for its ninth week.

Crossing Borders

Summer Sonic Festival lineup announced

Japan’s Summer Sonic Festival posted a lineup which had something for everyone, but didn’t quite set pulses racing: Calvin Harris, Ke$ha, 5 Seconds of Summer among them. Enter the festival heroes, Foo Fighters, who will headline the Tokyo and Osaka legs on Aug. 19 and 20, respectively. There’s no confirmation if the Foos will set out on a full Asian tour.

The Big Stage

Get ready for the drop

Ultra Music Festival is coming to Australia. With mega touring fests Big Day Out and Future now history and Stereosonic officially on hiatus, the Ultra brand is keen to get the party started Down Under. Damian Pinto, the host of Ultra festivals worldwide, blurted out the news from the mainstage at its flagship Miami event. “We’re moving to Australia. Give it up for our Aussie fans,” he said. Though details haven’t firmed up, it’s been reported the fest will set up Down Under in 2018. Ultra’s Australian leg mark the U.S. brand’s fifth continent and 17th country in its 19 year history.

Live Nation Australasia is flying high

… with a new partnership with Virgin Australia. Through the new arrangement, Virgin becomes the official airline partner for LN’s affiliate in these parts, and the carrier will provide a range of “innovative marketing and brand experiences” at LN’s shows, according to a statement announcing the deal.

Maribelle inks global deal

Singer, songwriter and producer Maribelle has signed a global deal with Universal Music Publishing Australia. The 21-year-old artist caught the attention of radio tastemakers with her ‘Overtake’ EP and caught the ears of Andrew Jenkins, President of Universal Music Publishing AU/NZ and Arwen Curson, Vice President, Creative, who brought her into the UMPG family. “Maribelle is so good,” comments Curson.”There is gifted, and then there’s Maribelle.”

The Final Word

Chainsmokers will hit the road

Those frat bro dudes the Chainsmokers will hit the road in the U.S. in the coming days with a distinctly Aussie touch. The EDM duo has enlisted the services of Brisbane drummer Matt McGuire for their tour after they were blown away by the solo performance clips he posted online. Further proof: if you’ve got a talent, don’t keep it a secret.