What Does ‘Antebellum’ Mean? — A Closer Look at the Controversial Word

Photo Credit: Ron Dauphin

Country group Lady Antebellum is now changing its name to ‘Lady A.’ But what does ‘Antebellum’ mean, and why is it so controversial?

The literal Latin definition of antebellum means ‘before the war,’ though its meaning in America goes far beyond that. In US history, ‘antebellum’ is primarily used to refer to the period leading up to the American Civil War. The first use of the word related to plantation architecture found in the Old South during the 1800s, and eventually assumed a broader reference to other cultural elements of the pre-Civil War South.

Antebellum architecture is the plantation in the header image – a large house and trees draped in Spanish moss is a familiar design. Greek columned estates overlooking plantations and a stately manor is a stereotypical look associated with the antebellum South. It’s an aesthetic that began to define and romanticize this era of Southern history, especially in media like Gone With the Wind. But the problem with romanticizing the South’s antebellum period is that is has marginalized an entire people’s struggle.

Antebellum romanticization often portrays white plantation owners as noble landowners – effectively glorifying a painful period for black Americans. It marginalizes the enslavement of a people for more than 300 years, which was a cornerstone of the region’s economic strength during that period.

It’s especially controversial in the South, where the ‘Cult of the Lost Cause’ has been accused of attempting to rewrite history. According to historians, the Cult of the Lost Cause has its roots in the Southern search for justification and the need to find a substitute for victory in the Civil War.

The theory is that by attempting to deal with defeat, Southerners have created an image of the war as a great heroic epic. Fiction like Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind further solidified this idea among many Southern whites. Glorifying the antebellum period in Southern history helped the defeated paint the Civil War as a clash between two civilizations — one honorable and one greedy.

It paints the North’s struggle as “materialistic, grasping for wealth and power.”  By contrast, the Southern position was one of the tragic heroes, “waging a noble but doomed struggle to preserve their superior civilization.” Effectively, the same people that fought to keep black Americans in chains and disguised it as a battle of state’s rights.

Lady Antebellum chose the name because it sounded Southern – but ended up changing it because it glorifies a painful period in our nation’s history.

The band chose the name after dressing in Civil War clothing as a nod to their Southern heritage. But now they feel that contributing to antebellum romanticization is problematic, to say the least.  Perhaps the difference in experience can be summed-up like this: while white women read Gone With the Wind and wonder what it would be like to be Scarlett O’Hara, black people read it and wonder how awful it would be to be Mammy.

I say all this as a person who grew up in the South and witnessed racism more often than not. It’s discouraging to hear so many Southerners say this ‘dishonors’ their heritage, to remove statues and flags of traitors to the United States. But it also dishonors our black American brothers and sisters to continue to honor the symbols of their oppression.

YouTube and Apple Establish $100 Million Funds to Support the Black Community

Both YouTube and Apple have established $100 million funds to aid the black community in the coming years, as part of a broader plan to bolster support for minority groups.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced her company’s fund today, in a “mid-year update” blog, whereas Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled his brand’s “Racial Equity and Justice Initiative” through a four-minute-long video clip.

YouTube’s $100 million pledge will be “dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of black creators and artists and their stories.” It’s unclear at this time exactly how the funds will be distributed to black creators.

However, the video-sharing platform cited an upcoming YouTube Original fundraiser, entitled Bear Witness, Take Action, as “the type of content we’d like to elevate.”

The livestream will invite activists, creators, artists, and others to participate in a roundtable conversation about race, and a portion of the guests – presumably the artists – will provide live musical performances.

Lastly, YouTube indicated that its “Spotlight” channel will explore contemporary race issues throughout June, besides promoting content that “showcases incredibly important stories about the centuries-long fight for equity.”

Towards the start of his statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Things must change, and Apple is committed to being a force for that change.”

CEO Cook then relayed that the $100 million Initiative will begin with investments in the United States, though a global expansion is being planned presently. Similarly, the fund will support a variety of programs and organizations, with a particular emphasis on education (including historically black universities and community colleges), economic equality, and reforming the criminal justice sphere.

Lisa Jackson, a former EPA administrator who previously directed Apple’s environmental policies, will spearhead the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.

Finally, Cook voiced his intention to form a new developer entrepreneurial camp for black individuals, increase spending with black-owned partners and suppliers, and take steps to enhance diversity on the Apple team.

Lil Nas X Slams Tucker Carlson After Being Accused of ‘Inciting Riots’

Courtesy Photo: Apple

Lil Nas X has issued a firmly worded response to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who stated in a recent segment that the rapper “helped incite” riots by encouraging his Twitter followers to donate to bail groups throughout the United States.

The controversy unfolded after Lil Nas X, like an array of other music industry figures, donated to organizations that specialize in covering bail costs for in-need persons – besides encouraging his followers to do the same.

In the cited segment, Tucker Carlson highlighted some of the celebrities and entertainment industry professionals – including Lil Nas X – who gave to and promoted the organizations, claiming that their donations helped “to get violent rioters out of jail.”

Lil Nas X responded to Carlson’s comments in a tweet, writing: “this man just lied and told millions of people on national television that i was inciting riots. you can’t make this up.”

It’s currently unclear whether Lil Nas X will file a defamation lawsuit against Carlson – which a large number of his Twitter followers suggested that he do. “sue him for defamation of character,” one user said.

At the time of this writing, the call for legal action had garnered more than 340 retweets and had received nearly 15,000 likes. Additionally, neither Tucker Carlson nor Fox News had publicly responded to Lil Nas X’s message.

Earlier this week, the 21-year-old rapper took aim at “Black Out Tuesday,” which was conceived and planned by the music industry (though many entertainment professionals ultimately participated).

Specifically, the “Old Town Road” artist voiced his opinion that abstaining from creating new social media posts was having a counterproductive impact on the many protests taking place, tweeting: “i know y’all mean well but… bro saying stop posting for a day is the worst idea ever.

“i just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever. i don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. we need to spread info and be as loud as ever,” he subsequently elaborated.

Lil Nas X indicated today that he will be participating in protests over the weekend.

More Than 20% of Canadian Music Fans Say They’ll Never Attend a Concert Again

Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo Credit: Alex Shutin

In a recent survey that asked Canadians about their opinions of returning to concerts and music festivals once social distancing measures are lifted, over 20 percent of respondents indicated that they will “probably never” feel comfortable attending festivals, large concerts, or small-venue performances.

Music Canada enlisted Ottawa’s Abacus Data to investigate Canadian music fans’ overall stance on enjoying live music in bars and restaurants, as well as at concerts and festivals, once again.

21 percent of survey participants relayed that they will “probably never” feel comfortable returning to concerts at small venues, even after social-distancing guidelines are safely done away with.

Some 41 percent of respondents signaled that it will take them six or more months to comfortably return to small performances, 23 percent said the process will take three or so months, and just 14 percent stated that they’re ready to enjoy live entertainment in intimate venues presently.

Predictably, large-venue concerts (and their comparatively sizable audiences) didn’t fare as well in the study.

26 percent of participants replied that they will probably never feel comfortable attending, and only 11 percent said they’re prepared to do so now. These figures were nearly identical to those of music festivals.

And tellingly, 50 percent of those who responded said that they will probably never feel comfortable attending a concert in the United States.

The survey’s findings didn’t paint a completely negative picture of live music’s future, however.

Abacus isolated data from self-proclaimed “live music lovers,” the vast majority of whom plan to attend concerts and music festivals at some point down the line. Just three percent of Canadian music fans said that they’ll probably never enjoy a small-venue concert again, compared to seven percent for large venues and music festivals.

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Lastly, 70 percent of participants who’ve watched a concert livestream amid the coronavirus pandemic felt satisfied with the overall experience. That said, 79 percent of these persons were also of the opinion that digital concerts “cannot replace the real thing.”

Suit Up – Now There’s a COVID-19 Protection Suit for Attending Concerts & Festivals

Photo Credit: Production Club

A California design firm is visualizing a COVID-19 protection suit for future live music shows.

Design firm Production Club calls the protective suit a Micrashell suit that is designed for concert attendees. The company’s head of inventions, Miguel Risueno, spoke about the new COVID-19 protection suit.

“Micrashell is a solution for bringing people together safely,” he told reporters. “It’s a half suit that kind of takes your safety and your security in terms of being close to airborne particles or viruses to the next level.”

Risueno says the COVID-19 protection suit is an offshoot of current hazmat suit designs. It features an airtight design, app-controlled speakers, microphone, and an N95 filtration system. A vent on the back of the helmet allows air in, which is then filtered a second time before being expelled.

Its creators say drinking, smoking, and vaping are still possible in the COVID-19 protection suit.

“It’s another thing you don’t need to remove the helmet, for, because if you remove the helmet and the shield, you’re compromised,” Risueno says. Risueno says his design firm is in contact with venues who may be interested in renting the suits to concert attendees.

A protective COVID-19 suit is a good idea, but the US is already having enough trouble getting people to wear masks. Over Memorial Day, beaches and parks across the United States were packed. Live concerts and festivals are not allowed to resume until Phase 2 of re-opening.

Most states with opening guidelines believe live events may not return until 2021. Health experts and officials certainly believe live attendance at musical events will be anemic. A poll conducted among Americans found that less than 10% would be willing to attend a live event in 2020 with no vaccine available.

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Suits like this may provide protection, but renting them out seems like a profoundly bad idea. Venues will be responsible for sanitizing the COVID-19 protection suits between users – and we all know how that will go.

Apple Moves ‘Some’ AirPods Pro Manufacturing to Vietnam from China

Photo Credit: Howard Bouchevereau

Apple appears to have shifted some AirPods Pro production to Vietnam from China.

Eagle-eyed Twitter users are reporting seeing ‘assembled in Vietnam’ on their newly acquired AirPods Pro. The highly popular accessory sold out at the beginning of this year, and Apple has struggled to keep stock during the pandemic.

AirPods Pro earbuds are shipping again, but new models appear to be assembled in Vietnam. Previously, most AirPods Pro production was centered in China, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut those factories down. The ongoing trade war and tariffs between China and the United States also fueled the diversification of Apple’s product supply lines.

Aside from moving AirPods Pro production to Vietnam, Apple also started assembling iPhones in India.

Last year, Japanese financial outlet Nikkei reported Vietnam was a potential source for new manufacturing. It seems Apple will also assemble its upcoming over-the-ear headphones in Vietnam, too.

These new headphones are rumored to be called StudioPods and will be priced around $349. Apple’s move into offering over-ear headphones puts pressure on its own Beats brand. Apple says it has no intention of promoting Beats any less – but I sincerely doubt that.

Don’t get me wrong, Beats will remain a part of Apple’s line-up, but they are a niche product compared to an Apple-branded pair of cans. The AirPods are already Apple’s best-selling accessory, with analysts expecting them to reach $15 billion in revenue for 2020.

Apple’s $349 cans will go up against headphones from Bose, Sony, Microsoft, and Sonos’s rumored over-ear headphones.

And guess what? Apple’s ‘StudioPods‘ will come out on top in sales because people love branded Apple accessories. Prepare to see a lot of Beats owners switch over to the new StudioPods, too.

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Either way, Apple’s diversified supply lines means the launch of StudioPods should go smoothly. Having products made in two different countries helps prevent events like COVID-19 from interrupting the supply chain too badly.

TikTok Taps Former Disney+ Streaming Chief to Become CEO

Photo Credit: Mika Baumeister

TikTok is poaching former Disney streaming executive Kevin Mayer as its new CEO.

TikTok made the announcement late Monday, confirmed by its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance. Mayer led the successful launch of Disney’s new streaming service in November. He was passed over in February when Disney selected a new CEO.

Mayer’s appointment as TikTok CEO will be effective June 1st.

He will also become Chief Operating Officer of ByteDance in addition to the move. TikTok has become wildly popular in the United States as a short-form video app. But it has drawn scrutiny from parents and the U.S. government alike. Parents worry that children are exposed to predators and exploitation on the platform.

The U.S. government worries that its Chinese owner could abuse TikTok’s location features. Both the Army and the Navy have banned the app from being installed on government devices. TikTok’s acquisition of Musical.ly is also the subject of a national security review launched in November. Two senators introduced a bill to ban federal employees from using the app on government devices – following Army recommendations.

TikTok previously told the U.S. Senate that it could not answer questions because its executives were in China.

Republican Josh Hawley says he looks forward to hearing from Mayer. “This new executive lives in the USA,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday. “I look forward to hearing from him under oath.”

TikTok’s efforts to expand its presence in the United States is part of an effort to assuage investigators. ByteDance started separating much of TikTok’s daily operations and has hired several high-profile executives. Last year it poached more than two dozen Facebook employees to found its Los Angeles office.

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TikTok nabbed Erich Andersen as global general counsel in January. Vanessa Pappas joined to run its U.S. operations as a veteran from YouTube. Now, the TikTok CEO hails from Disney.

140 British Music Venues Saved from Bankruptcy Following a Rush of Donations

German electronic music group Moderat performing at a small venue. (photo: Yannis Papanastasopoulos)

Through its #saveourvenues initiative, The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has raised over $1.8 million for British music venues, 140 of which have been removed from the organization’s “critical” list of establishments that may soon be forced to close their doors.

Music Venue Trust officials emailed Digital Music News with the encouraging financial aid benchmark. MVT launched the #saveourvenues campaign three weeks back, and thus far, more than 3,000 fans, artists, and music industry professionals have rallied behind the cause. The fund specifically benefits 556 British music venues that MVT has determined run the risk of imminently going out of business.

Though the groundswell of support has been encouraging, MVT officials emphasized that the 140 venues aren’t out of the woods. “This activity does not mean that any these 140 venues are protected permanently,” the group stated, “and MVT are calling for more music industry donations and governmental intervention to help secure their long-term future.”

Further, 400 or so venues remain on the MVT’s “critical” list, though it’s unclear how long they can stay afloat given today’s trying circumstances. It’s also unclear how many have already been forced out of business.

Signaling urgency when addressing his organization’s fundraising success and impact on British music venues, Music Venue Trust Founder and CEO Mark Davyd said: “Whilst the immediate threat of closure for these venues has been halted they are still under real threat in the coming months as are over 400 others.”

The United Kingdom’s music community, like that of the United States and other nations around the globe, is struggling amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Last week, Digital Music News was first to report that 20 percent of British musicians fear the pandemic will mark the end of their careers.

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To date, UK medical professionals have diagnosed approximately 246,000 COVID-19 cases, and about 35,000 residents have perished as a result of the disease’s complications.

One in Five British Musicians Fear Coronavirus Will End Their Careers

A shot of Buckingham Palace from The Mall in London. (photo: Matt Antonioli)

According to a survey conducted by the Musicians’ Union, 20 percent of British musicians fear that their professional careers will end as a result of the economic strain brought on by the novel coronavirus.

1,459 Musicians’ Union members responded to the survey, which also shed light upon musicians’ access (or lack thereof) to fiscal aid from the government. 38 percent of respondents stated that they don’t qualify for benefits presently; stateside freelance artists are also having trouble securing and qualifying for unemployment assistance, per the New York City-based Freelancers Union.

Additionally, the Musicians’ Union found that a quarter of the UK musicians who qualify for their government’s support program will have difficulty making ends meet until the first payment arrives.

To remedy the situation and alleviate the plight of struggling artists, the Musicians’ Union has recommended that the UK government make several changes to the aid program, including altering its income cap and removing other limitations.

Besides highlighting the perceived shortcomings artists are facing with the UK’s coronavirus-relief support, the Musicians’ Union is calling on Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to investigate music streaming platforms’ artist payments.

At the time of this writing, UK government officials hadn’t publicly responded to the request for relaxed unemployment-assistance requirements or the music streaming reform petition.

During the last two weeks, approximately 6.3 million UK employees have been furloughed, and over one million UK workers have applied for universal credit payments.

The coronavirus and its associated lockdown measures have had a similarly devastating impact in the United States. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett recently stated that the domestic unemployment rate could surpass 20 percent in the coming months.

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To date, medical professionals have diagnosed over 4.2 million worldwide COVID-19 cases, and more than 286,000 individuals have perished as a result of the disease’s complications.

Apple Stores Reopening In the U.S., Germany, and Australia This Week

Photo Credit: Kaiyu Wu

Apple stores around the world will begin re-opening this week with new social distancing measures.

Apple says its stores in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska will re-open this week. “Our new social distance protocol allows for a limited number of visitors in a store at one time, so there may be a delay for walk-in customers. We recommend, where possible, customers buy online for contactless delivery or in-store pickup,” a spokesperson says.

Out of the states named, Apple operates six stores. This is a small-scale opening in states where coronavirus outbreak cases have been limited (for now). Apple operates over 270 stores in the United States and 500 globally. Seventy stores in Asia, Europe, and Australia are now open after closing in February and March. Apple also returned to China quickly after the virus spread became controlled.

According to CEO Tim Cook, only a few Apple stores are planning to re-open in the first half of May.

Retail employees and customers at these stores will be required to undergo temperature checks and to wear face masks. Apple says, for now, its stores will focus mainly on product repairs rather than sales of new products. Many people who had their devices in for repair have had to make do without their phones and laptops.

“Our primary focus will be providing service and support at the Genius Bar,” the statement reads. “We’ll open initially with additional safety procedures, including temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings to ensure customers and employees continue to stay healthy.”

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It seems like these six stores will be the litmus test for whether others can re-open. As more of the United States starts to come out of coronavirus lockdown, more stores will re-open. For now, both New York and California remain under stay-at-home orders as some businesses are beginning to re-open.

Fewer Than 10% of Americans Would Attend a Concert Right Now — Latest Poll

Photo Credit: Mark Pan4ratte

You can open it, but will they come? A new poll reveals fewer than 10% of Americans would attend a concert or live event right now.

The Screen Engine/ASI poll, released today, canvassed tens of thousands of Americans on their opinion. Participants were aged 13-64, and for the week ending May 2nd, over half said they were very concerned about coronavirus. That number is up 100% from when the question was first asked on March 7th at the start of the pandemic.

Only 5% of poll respondents said they would attend live sporting events or a concert. An anemic 7% said they would feel comfortable watching a movie in a theater.

Despite the lack of interest in live events, concerts, or theaters, movie interest hasn’t declined. Respondents report the amount of movies they’ve streamed has risen significantly since the lockdown. 52% of poll respondents said they had increased their streaming habits.

So how do people feel about the United States and its effort to re-open? 51% of respondents said they would need to see the necessary precautions at large gatherings. That includes social distancing and masks worn by those in attendance and staff.

“The implication from this is that movie theaters, stadiums, concert halls, and other venues housing large events have a major messaging campaign to launch once they do begin to re-open,” Screen Engine says. “The relationship between consumer and business has been experiencing a shift because the internet has given the consumer a voice never before available.”

Of respondents to the poll, females were more likely to be concerned about the pandemic and its effects on concert halls and venues.

72% of female respondents compared to 59% of males said they worried about the health of family and friends. 60% of females said they worried about not knowing when it will be safe to be in crowds – compared to 47% of male respondents with the same worry.

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Streaming Accounts for More Than 95% of All Latin Music Recording Revenues

Streaming accounted for 95 percent of Latin music’s 2019 United States earnings, which grew by 28 percent from 2018, to $554 million.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) disclosed the statistics in its newly published U.S. Latin Music Revenues Report, which was shared with Digital Music News.

The U.S. Latin music market grew by 28 percent in 2019, once again, compared to about 13 percent growth for the overall stateside music market. Latin music streaming revenue, for its part, earned $529 million last year, about 65 percent of which derived from paid subscriptions.

Additionally, freemium music-streaming services produced 29 percent more revenue ($121 million) for Latin music in 2019 than in 2018.

On the other side of the coin, Latin music saw its digital-download revenue decrease by a fifth from 2018, to $17 million, whereas physical sales fell by nearly a quarter, to $4.2 million. The latter is particularly noteworthy because, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Institute (IFPI), the United States was one of the few countries to report physical-music sales growth during 2019. Evidently, Latin music fans prioritize the value and convenience of streaming over the perks of having physical copies of records.

Latin music’s sync-licensing revenue held steady in 2019, falling only $100,000 from 2018’s $4.2 million.

Earlier today, Digital Music News was first to report that worldwide music-streaming figures increased dramatically during 2019, per the aforementioned report from the IFPI. Approximately 341 million individuals pay for music-streaming services, which enjoyed a roughly 25 percent hike in revenue last year, compared to 2018.

In total, the global recorded music industry earned $20.2 billion in 2019.

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Despite these encouraging figures, not a few musicians and music-industry professionals are struggling to stay financially afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the latest example of the crisis’s devastating fiscal impact, San Francisco’s famed Hyde Street Studios has launched a GoFundMe campaign in a desperate bid to keep its doors open.

Streaming Accounts for More Than 95% of All Latin Music Recording Revenues

Streaming accounted for 95 percent of Latin music’s 2019 United States earnings, which grew by 28 percent from 2018, to $554 million.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) disclosed the statistics in its newly published U.S. Latin Music Revenues Report, which was shared with Digital Music News.

The U.S. Latin music market grew by 28 percent in 2019, once again, compared to about 13 percent growth for the overall stateside music market. Latin music streaming revenue, for its part, earned $529 million last year, about 65 percent of which derived from paid subscriptions.

Additionally, freemium music-streaming services produced 29 percent more revenue ($121 million) for Latin music in 2019 than in 2018.

On the other side of the coin, Latin music saw its digital-download revenue decrease by a fifth from 2018, to $17 million, whereas physical sales fell by nearly a quarter, to $4.2 million. The latter is particularly noteworthy because, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Institute (IFPI), the United States was one of the few countries to report physical-music sales growth during 2019. Evidently, Latin music fans prioritize the value and convenience of streaming over the perks of having physical copies of records.

Latin music’s sync-licensing revenue held steady in 2019, falling only $100,000 from 2018’s $4.2 million.

Earlier today, Digital Music News was first to report that worldwide music-streaming figures increased dramatically during 2019, per the aforementioned report from the IFPI. Approximately 341 million individuals pay for music-streaming services, which enjoyed a roughly 25 percent hike in revenue last year, compared to 2018.

In total, the global recorded music industry earned $20.2 billion in 2019.

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Despite these encouraging figures, not a few musicians and music-industry professionals are struggling to stay financially afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the latest example of the crisis’s devastating fiscal impact, San Francisco’s famed Hyde Street Studios has launched a GoFundMe campaign in a desperate bid to keep its doors open.

2020 Cancelled: The Eagles Forced to Reschedule ‘Hotel California’ Tour a Second Time

Photo Credit: Steve Alexander / CC by 2.0

The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ Tour has been rescheduled for the second time – it’s now happening in the fall of 2021.

The ‘Hotel California’ tour was supposed to start this spring, but the coronavirus pandemic stopped that. The show was then moved to this fall, but the second postponement moves the tour to next year.

The ‘Hotel California’ tour double postponement is another signal that live events won’t return in 2020. Accordingly, many artists and promoters are looking at the summer and fall of 2021 as safe re-bookings. The Eagles trek will now pick up in Denver starting September 16th, 2021. Representatives for The Eagles told fans to hold their tickets, but that refunds are available.

The tour saw the band playing the Hotel California album with an orchestra and choir. The show first premiered at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in 2019 before going on tour in February. The group was forced to cancel its Houston gigs, however, as the coronavirus shutdown expanded across the United States.

The Eagles postponed the rest of the tour into September and October of this year. But those dates are now out as well, as the Hotel California tour is hoping for better times in 2021.

Earlier, California Governor Gavin Newsom said live events would be the last to return to normalcy in the state. In the state’s recovery plan, events are listed in the fourth and final phase of re-opening. That’s contrary to Missouri, where live events and concerts are re-opening today with social distancing guidelines in place.

Newsom says the fourth phase can only occur when a vaccine or mass immunity is in place. The time table for both of those events pushes fall concerts further back. The new line-up for The Eagles will kick-off in Denver before traveling to Dallas, Phoenix, St. Paul, Los Angeles, and ending in San Francisco.

Suddenly, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber’s 2020 cancellations look wise, while previously-rescheduled events like Coachella now in jeopardy of getting pushed into 2021.

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2020 Cancelled: The Eagles Forced to Reschedule ‘Hotel California’ Tour a Second Time

Photo Credit: Steve Alexander / CC by 2.0

The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ Tour has been rescheduled for the second time – it’s now happening in the fall of 2021.

The ‘Hotel California’ tour was supposed to start this spring, but the coronavirus pandemic stopped that. The show was then moved to this fall, but the second postponement moves the tour to next year.

The ‘Hotel California’ tour double postponement is another signal that live events won’t return in 2020. Accordingly, many artists and promoters are looking at the summer and fall of 2021 as safe re-bookings. The Eagles trek will now pick up in Denver starting September 16th, 2021. Representatives for The Eagles told fans to hold their tickets, but that refunds are available.

The tour saw the band playing the Hotel California album with an orchestra and choir. The show first premiered at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in 2019 before going on tour in February. The group was forced to cancel its Houston gigs, however, as the coronavirus shutdown expanded across the United States.

The Eagles postponed the rest of the tour into September and October of this year. But those dates are now out as well, as the Hotel California tour is hoping for better times in 2021.

Earlier, California Governor Gavin Newsom said live events would be the last to return to normalcy in the state. In the state’s recovery plan, events are listed in the fourth and final phase of re-opening. That’s contrary to Missouri, where live events and concerts are re-opening today with social distancing guidelines in place.

Newsom says the fourth phase can only occur when a vaccine or mass immunity is in place. The time table for both of those events pushes fall concerts further back. The new line-up for The Eagles will kick-off in Denver before traveling to Dallas, Phoenix, St. Paul, Los Angeles, and ending in San Francisco.

Suddenly, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber’s 2020 cancellations look wise, while previously-rescheduled events like Coachella now in jeopardy of getting pushed into 2021.

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TikTok’s Explosive Growth Continues — 2 Billion Downloads and Counting

TikTok downloads have crossed 2 billion last quarter after rapidly expanding its user base in March.

The rapid growth of TikTok continues amid the U.S. investigation into censorship and privacy concerns. Two branches of the U.S. military have banned the use of the app on government-issued devices.

In March, TikTok downloads topped 12 million new users in the U.S. as the coronavirus shutdown began. TikTok joins a handful of apps around the world that have reached 2 billion downloads.

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger (all services owned by Facebook) are the other four apps to achieve that feat. It also disregards Google apps like Gmail and YouTube – which come pre-installed on all Android devices.

The app is also most popular on Android phones, which account for 75.5% of all downloads. That’s not too surprising, though – China and India run on Android, primarily.

The new 2 billion downloads metric comes just five months after TikTok achieved 1.5 billion downloads.

At the end of March, TikTok was downloaded over 315 million times – surpassing any other app. It also topped TikTok’s own previous best downloads of 205.7 million in Q4 2018. WhatsApp is the second-most downloaded app, and it only topped 205 million downloads in the same quarter.

The mass of new users means TikTok’s value as a revenue generator goes up, too. Users have spent about $456.7 million on TikTok – up from $175 million just five months ago. Spending in the United States is around $86.5 million, making the U.S. its second-largest market. About 72.3% of all spending in TikTok still happens in China.

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It’s worth noting that SensorTower has a few caveats about these download stats. The analytics firm notes that TikTok has engaged in “large user acquisition campaigns.” Despite that, the surge in downloads in March was bolstered by the coronavirus lockdown in much of the world.

ICP Cancels the Annual Gathering of the Juggalos Due to Coronavirus

Photo Credit: SullyDC / CC by 2.0

The annual Gathering of the Juggalos is canceled this year due to coronavirus.

The group’s label, Psychopathic Records, announced the news via Twitter. “It is with a heavy heart that we announce due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have no choice but to postpone the Gathering until next year,” the statement reads. “We can’t possibly in good conscience even consider trying to put on a Gathering during these difficult times.”

The annual Gathering of the Juggalos is ICP’s festival celebrating life as a Juggalo. The eccentric group launched the first festival in 2000, attracting Juggalos from all over the country. Over the years, the festival has obtained a reputation for devolving into lawlessness.

The 21st annual Gathering of the Juggalos was to be held August 5-8 in Garrettsville, Ohio.

Garrettsville previously hosted the Gathering from 2003-2005. ICP announced this years’ dates for the festival back in January. Unsurprisingly, the event is off since it regularly attracts 20,000 people from all over the world. Fans routinely describe the festival as “Juggalo Woodstock” and attend multiple years.

The Gathering spans four days and usually includes concerts, wrestling, games, contests, and autograph sessions with ICP. The festival also includes seminars with Juggalo artists promoting their works at the festival. Even though it is an outdoor festival, there’s just too much risk involved.

“We refuse to risk even one Juggalo life by hosting a Gathering during these troubling times,” the statement continues. “We will endure this together as a family, and the Gathering of the Juggalos will return in 2021 stronger, bigger, and better than ever.”

Ouch. It seems like the Juggalos are exercising more restraint than some governors in the United States.

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Whatever your political beliefs, it’s impossible to ignore that over 50,000 Americans have died due to coronavirus. The incredible impact on the economy has been dire – but the death toll continues to rise.

Endeavor Cuts, Furloughs, or Slashes Pay for One-Third Of All Employees

Endeavor is cutting, furloughing, or slashing the pay of one-third of its approximately 7,500 employees in response to economic strains stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Some Endeavor workers have already been laid off, and additional employees are expected to be let go throughout May. The cost-saving measures will impact each of Endeavor’s holdings, including its talent representation division and Miss Universe, excepting the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), according to UFC President Dana White.

It’s unclear at this time exactly which Endeavor employees will be affected by the cuts, and specifically, how many music-related positions will be axed. The majority of Endeavor’s music industry staffers handle touring representation, however.

Endeavor Executive Chairman Patrick Whitesell and CEO Ari Emanuel have foregone their 2020 salaries to help minimize their company’s expenses.

Back in March, Endeavor cut about 250 employees who would be unable to work remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, many other entertainment industry companies are taking steps to remain solvent throughout the current economic downturn.

Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter parent company Valence Media plans to save $10 million via staff reductions, according to The Wrap. Earlier this month, Valence let its IT department go as part of the initiative, and the impacted workers left a unique parting gift.

Paradigm Talent Agency has also shed many positions in the wake of the pandemic, and one of the talent agency’s former employees submitted a firmly worded $2 million lawsuit as a result.

Today, it was reported than an additional 4.4 million Americans had filed for unemployment benefits last week, pushing the past five weeks’ jobless claims total past 26 million. To date, medical professionals have diagnosed more than 2.7 million worldwide COVID-19 cases, about 870,000 of which are attributable to the United States.

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Recent studies suggest that the novel coronavirus is more prevalent than previously believed – and, in turn, far less deadly than initially assumed.

On-Demand Video Streaming Up 100% In March Among 25-54s, Nielsen Says

Photo Credit: Will Porada

Nielsen’s latest report reveals on-demand video streaming is up nearly 100%.

The report reveals the fourth week of March (starting 3/23) saw the most significant rise in streaming. That coincides with the same week that nine states issued statewide stay-at-home orders in the United States. Another 12 had shelter-in-place orders in at least some parts of the state.

Some of the most substantial increases in streaming came from cities that issued orders early. New York, Washington, California, and Illinois lead the way in streaming gains. While the COVID-19 pandemic may be driving growth in streaming, the sector was already booming.

“Organic streaming had been growing over the past few months,” Nielsen’s report notes. That’s primarily driven by the launch of new streaming services like Disney+ and the upcoming HBO Max.

School closings contributed to a large boost to on-demand video streaming among younger demographics. Nielsen reports a more than 60% increase between March 2nd and March 23rd, with the ‘prime-time’ for consumption settling into early afternoon.

 

Nielsen also reported a 50% increase in early afternoon (1 pm – 4 pm) on-demand video streaming.

That number represents a 100% increase in early afternoon consumption compared to 2019. Nielsen still hasn’t released data for any of the weeks in April, but the consumption rates have likely grown. By March 30th, over 30 states had statewide stay-at-home orders in place that have not yet lifted.

It’s not clear how much music streaming has dropped – but that hasn’t stopped subscriber growth. A new report from Counterpoint Research suggests music streaming services could see a 25% increase in 2020.

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The same firm reports global music streaming subscriptions grew 32% YoY to reach 358 million subscribers by December 2019. Spotify is expected to capture most new subscribers thanks to promotions like three-month free trials, price cuts, and its student plan.

iHeartMedia Has $647 Million In the Bank, Plans to Shave $250 Million in Costs This Year

After furloughing staff and foregoing CEO pay, iHeartMedia is looking to shave $250 million from its budget.

The largest operator of radio stations in the United States recently revealed that it has $647 million cash in hand. That includes a $350 million drawdown from its $450 million revolving credit facility.

iHeartMedia’s national, local, and network revenue is declining, but podcasting and digital revenue are up. Podcast listening is at an all-time high in March for iHeartMedia, but sponsorship numbers are also much lower than usual because of canceled live events. Pittman says the company is hoping to offset reduced radio station revenue with podcasting and digital revenues.

Just last week, iHeartMedia cut senior executive pay and furloughed all “non-essential” staff. Now, we know this is part of a $250 million cost-savings goal. CEO Bob Pittman is also foregoing his salary for the 2020 year.

“We moved quickly to respond to the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to mitigate some of the business impacts and to better position ourselves to take advantage of an eventual recovery when normalized demand returns,” Pittman offered in a statement.

Other cost-cutting measures taken by iHeartMedia include suspending new hiring, restricting travel and entertainment expenses, and cutting discretionary expenses. On March 26th, the radio operator revealed that it had tapped into its revolving credit facility to boost its financial health.

The lack of advertising sponsorships is cutting into iHeartMedia revenue – but political ads are remaining consistent. Political advertising revenue for 2020 is “expected to remain consistent” with prior election years, according to Pittman.

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Pittman says that total cost-saving levels are around $200 million for furloughs and $50 million from modernization efforts. 90% of iHeartMedia debt matures in 2026 or later – but that hasn’t stopped the stock from dropping. It is down over 57.3% for the year, performing much worse than the S&P 500 index for the same period.

SOCAN Chief Executive Eric Baptiste Abruptly Resigns After 10 Years

SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste speaking at the Juno Awards, 2018

SOCAN has just revealed that its longtime CEO, Eric Baptiste, is stepping down after a decade-long tenure.

We’re not sure exactly why Baptiste is relinquishing his post after ten years, though SOCAN said it has nothing to do with the current COVID-19 crisis.  “The decision is purely coincidental to the current COVID-19 crisis, and the Board of Directors has
full faith in SOCAN’s executive management team,” SOCAN told DMN.  “The organization continues to operate at full capacity.”

Fair enough, though it should clarified that we never asked if this had anything to do with the COVID-19 crisis. Beyond that, however, SOCAN declined to offer any reason why Baptiste, who seemed to be calmly helming the Canadian rights organization year-after-year, was finally on the out. SOCAN described the departure decision as “mutual,” while noting that “Eric thought it was time to move on.”

“We thank Eric Baptiste for his leadership over the past ten years,” Marc Ouellette, President & Chair of SOCAN’s Board of Directors, offered in a statement. “During this time, SOCAN has seen growth and has maintained its presence as a leader in serving music creators and publishers in Canada and around the world.”

Perhaps tellingly, SOCAN doesn’t have a successor in place, a situation that suggests a less-than-perfectly-mutual goodbye. Jennifer Brown, currently Senior Vice President of Operation & Reproduction Rights, has stepped into the role of Interim CEO while SOCAN tries to find a permanent CEO replacement.

We pressed SOCAN a bit further on the reasons for the leadership change, though the company pointed to a routine decision. “As mentioned in the release, Eric had been with the company for ten years,” SOCAN Chief Communications & Marketing Officer Andrew Berthoff emailed. “The board of directors, to whom the CEO reports, did its normal review and, with the end of the current contract approaching, Eric thought it was time to move on. So, a decision was reached to end his tenure now.”

Regardless of whether Baptiste’s departure is linked to COVID-19 or not, SOCAN certainly has its challenges ahead.

Just last week, ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews offered an extremely dour summary of the performance royalty market in the United States.

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“During this crisis, as we see more and more of our licensees who pay us start to feel the impact of the economic downturn, this translates into less revenue for ASCAP and less money available for distributions for our members,” Matthews stated. “We have already been contacted by numerous licensees who are attempting to pay less, pay late, or not pay at all.”

Of course, shut-down business in both the United States and Canada will dramatically reduce public performance royalty payments in 2020, across all parts of North America. At present, it’s unclear how SOCAN is dealing with the situation, though ASCAP took the drastic step of delaying writer payments for weeks. But the delay, on royalties accrued during the third quarter of 2019, is now raising concerns of a serious cash-crunch at the US-based mega-PRO.

The Toronto-based SOCAN has a membership of 160,000 songwriters, composers, music publishers and visual artists.  It manages royalties from more than 100,000 business and public spaces across Canada.

 

France Officially Bans Music Festivals Until Mid-July

Photo Credit: Soroush Karimi

French President Emmanuel Macron bans festivals and large gatherings through mid-July in new efforts to combat coronavirus spread.

Macron addressed the French people, announcing shelter-in-place efforts are extending through May 11th. In addition, music festivals and large gatherings are forbidden through mid-July. That draws into question whether the Cannes Film Festival will happen this year.

“Bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels, cinemas, theaters, concert halls, and museums will remain closed at this stage,” Macron told the French people.

The event is already postponed, with organizers predicting a late-June or early July re-start. As France bans festivals from taking place, that timeline seems to be out the window. Many are expecting the historic film festival to be canceled outright.

People familiar with the matter say most of Hollywood is operating on the assumption it will be canceled. Several production and sales companies are looking at plans for a virtual market to screen finished films. Organizers still aren’t confirming publicly whether the event will be canceled, though.

French efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus have been in effect for over a month. The lockdown measures were supposed to be lifted on April 15th. France has over 130,000 confirmed cases of the virus, with 14,967 deaths.

Meanwhile, health experts in the United States warn that live events could be the last sector of the economy to re-open. Concerts, festivals, and other large gatherings might not be feasible until the fall of 2021 on the worst-case timeline. That brings into question whether postponed events like Coachella and Bonnaroo will happen this year.

If France bans festivals through mid-July, will that date be extended?

Macron says schools and day-care centers can re-open on May 11th, after lockdown ends. But if things still aren’t under control enough to keep the healthcare system afloat, the date may be extended again. French borders are closed to non-European countries during the pandemic; the border shutdown will continue for an unspecified amount of time.

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Traditional AM/FM Radio Is Growing During COVID-19 Quarantines

photo: Eric Nopanen

With government-issued stay-at-home orders and non-essential business closures continuing to affect schedules across the United States and the world, many are turning from music streaming services to video platforms like Netflix and Hulu. However, a newly-published study found that AM/FM radio, for its part, is growing amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In conducting the study, Triton Digital reviewed data from the over 3,200 radio stations that utilize its Webcast Metrics technology, which records broadcasters’ streaming statistics.

Compared to the prior month’s average listener count, overall streaming of U.S. radio stations hiked by roughly three percent during the week ending on Saturday, March 21st, according to Triton Digital. Equally as noteworthy, smart speaker radio streaming jumped by four percent, while mobile device radio streaming enjoyed a six percent boost, despite a substantial portion of the population remaining at home.

Several weeks back, we first reported that music streaming services were experiencing a significant downturn during the COVID-19 crisis, presumably because of disruptions to work, school, and normal routines.

It’s unclear exactly why traditional radio streaming numbers are increasing simultaneously, but the answer may have something to do with cost (perhaps some are shifting away from subscription-based music services to save cash) and a desire to stay apprised of the latest coronavirus updates. Also, spring means warmer weather throughout the United States, which has produced a slow uptick in outdoor activity. That mobility — lockdowns notwithstanding — could be prompting more fans to enjoy AM/FM streams.

Medical professionals have diagnosed approximately 1.9 million worldwide COVID-19 cases to date, including about 575,000 infections in the United States. However, new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are leveling off in key cities and areas, and government officials are beginning to plan for the gradual reopening of their economies.

President Trump is expected to announce the federal government’s stance on reopening the economy sometime soon. Additionally, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the governors of five other nearby states are developing a preliminary economic recovery strategy presently.

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Burning Man 2020 Officially Cancelled — Event’s Future Is Now In Doubt

photo: Aaron Logan (CC by 2.0)

Despite a late-August start date, Burning Man organizers have opted to cancel the entire event.  At this stage, there’s no guidance on whether things will be able to resume in 2021 or beyond.

Organizers had been considering an all-out cancellation for weeks, though intensifying COVID-19 issues forced the decision earlier today. Earlier this month, Burning Man suspended ticket sales; now, they’re issuing full refunds to everyone, even though all Burning Man tickets are technically non-refundable.

“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” organizers announced earlier today.  “Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too. In 2020 we need human connection and Immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.”

The move is obviously disappointing to tens of thousands of burners and attendees planning to make the desert migration. For many, the off-grid journey into Nevada offers respite, renewal, and a pronounced from the hubbub of daily life and professional pressures. Sadly, the real world won this time, with very urgent COVID-19 concerns killing the Black Rock City escape.

But this is far more serious than a canceled concert, or even a festival.

The construction of Black Rock City requires massive amounts of preparation and a full-time staff. The Burning Man Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in San Francisco, uses annual ticket sales to prepare the otherwise desolate desert patch known as Black Rock Desert, then clean everything up when it’s over. And that’s just one of several year-round burner events.

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Accordingly, organizers are asking attendees to donate their ticket purchases to the Project, if only to keep the 2021 Burning Man alive.

“Providing refunds is the right thing to do for our community members who have put so much trust in us over the years, and who may be experiencing their own financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic,” the announcement continued.  “This is a decision made in the interest of our culture and our community. It is an enormous financial risk, but we have faith that those with the means to do so will help us stay afloat during these challenging times. To that end, we’re going to ask that you consider gifting the value (or a portion of the value) of your purchased ticket back to Burning Man Project as a tax-deductible donation. This need is real.”

As for the future of Burning Man, frankly, the forecast looks pretty bleak.

Organizers pointed to $10 million in cash reserves, a seemingly healthy stash. But that’s only enough to last a few months. “Burning Man Project has approximately $10 million in reserve funds to cover contingencies, but this crisis goes well beyond any normal planning scenarios,” the detailed announcement continued.

“Since we are providing refunds and keeping the ticket money separate in our minds from the operating expenses, we are currently using the reserve to survive. We don’t expect to have a reserve at the end of this year. Truthfully, without major changes, deep cutbacks, and a generous outpouring of donations, we could only stay operational for a few months on our reserve funds.”

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Strangely, Wikipedia is already referring to Burning Man in the past tense: “Burning Man was an event held from 1986 to 2019 in the western United States at Black Rock City, a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada, approximately 100 miles (160 km) north-northeast of Reno and a thriving year-round culture generated by a global community of participants,” the entry reads as of Friday.

That said, there is a virtual, non-physical Burning Man in the works. And a serious effort to keep things going. Stay tuned.

Tokyo Olympics CEO Refuses to Commit to 2021 Postponement Date

Photo Credit: Kyle Dias

As the coronavirus spreads in Japan, Tokyo Olympics 2021 organizers won’t commit to a new date.

Japan is now under restrictions and lockdown to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declaring a state of emergency. Accordingly, the CEO of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, says he’s unsure when a new date can be picked.

“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” the CEO said at a news conference. “We’re certainly not in a position to give you a clear answer.”

The Tokyo Olympics were postponed last month and slated for July of 2021. But Japan’s Prime Minister has received criticism for being slow to adopt lockdown measures. Some political leaders suggest he downplayed the severity of the virus in hopes of not canceling the Tokyo Olympics.

When asked about alternative plans for Tokyo Olympics 2021, Muto said efforts are focused elsewhere.

“Rather than think about alternative plans, we should put in all of our efforts [towards fighting the virus],” Muto told reporters. “Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can develop treatments, medicines, and vaccines.”

Japan has 5,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and around 100 deaths at the time of writing. It is also the country with the world’s oldest population – which presents unique complications. COVID-19 can wreak havoc on older people, as nursing homes in the United States are experiencing.

Reporters also asked Muto about the added costs of postponing the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

Japanese media sources estimate that the cost of postponement may range between $2 billion to $6 billion. Muto says it is too soon to know the full cost of holding back the event – and who would pay for it. He also confirmed that Tokyo 2020 has taken out insurance policies, but it’s unclear if postponement qualifies for coverage.

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Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs to Moderate ‘The State Of Black America & The Coronavirus’ on Revolt TV

Sean “Diddy” Combs’s hip-hop-centered television network, Revolt TV, is set to air a town hall forum that will explore and attempt to explain the disproportionate impact of the novel coronavirus on the African-American community. 

Dubbed The State of Black America and the Coronavirus, the two-hour-long event will feature appearances from rapper Meek Mill, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Reverend Al Sharpton, and many others. Diddy will moderate the program, and guests will answer questions submitted by viewers. 

Interested individuals can catch The State of Black America and the Coronavirus tonight, beginning at 11 PM in the east and eight o’clock in the west. 

Early data suggests that African Americans are experiencing a comparatively higher rate of hospitalization from COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control recently published statistics from the first month of the (stateside) pandemic; these numbers indicated that 33 percent of coronavirus hospital patients in the United States were black, despite African Americans comprising about 13 percent of America’s population. 

Caucasian patients constituted 45 percent of those hospitalized from novel-coronavirus symptoms during the same period (though the demographic includes roughly 76 percent of America’s residents). 

Equally as important, Hispanics, who account for nearly one-fifth of the United States’ 330 million or so residents, represented just eight percent of total COVID-19 hospitalizations through the pandemic’s first 30 days in America. 

And predictably, given these hospitalization figures, preliminary data suggests that a larger portion of African Americans are perishing from the novel coronavirus. However, these statistics are incomplete, as a relatively small number of cities and states are releasing race-based infection and mortality information. 

Scientists and medical professionals are working to better understand why COVID-19 symptoms vary so dramatically from person to person; many believe that the answer lies in DNA

For example, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (who is otherwise healthy) left the intensive-care unit today, having originally been admitted because his coronavirus symptoms became severe. Actor Tom Hanks, for his part, sought out a coronavirus test following mild symptoms (he tested positive and has since recovered). 

And on the other end of the spectrum, The Office star Idris Elba received a COVID-19 test ahead of a new film project and tested positive despite showing no symptoms whatsoever. To be sure, some on social media accused the London native of faking his diagnosis. 

All three of the cited COVID-19 infections were “real,” and the relative severity of each sufferer’s symptoms attests to how much more there is to learn about the disease. Similarly, a number of doctors are now speculating that widespread ventilation treatment for serious coronavirus cases isn’t necessary, and may be doing more harm than good.

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Spotify Stock Downgraded by Raymond James as Quarantine Listening Shrinks

Investment banking company Raymond James has downgraded its rating of Spotify (SPOT) stock, due in large part to music streaming’s popularity decline amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Raymond James analyst Justin Patterson officially lowered the music streaming giant’s stock rating from “Strong Buy” to “Market Perform.” In his report, James indicated that widespread lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and non-essential business closures are negatively affecting music streaming’s prevalence; many music fans had previously streamed tracks at the gym, in the car, and at work, for instance.

Additionally, the Raymond James analyst stated that Spotify music streaming rates have recently dropped by double digits in the United States and other countries, and that podcasts are also receiving less attention than they did prior to the coronavirus crisis. Album and touring delays will not help matters for Spotify, Patterson noted.

Likewise, the report emphasized that some Spotify users could switch to Amazon Music because they’re relying on smart speakers like Amazon Alexa for at-home music streaming.

Spotify’s per-share stock price has fallen (as has the overall market, of course), but most of its pre-coronavirus value has remained intact.

This point is particularly important because the Stockholm-based company’s value surged during the final quarter of 2019, from approximately $113 per share in October to about $155 per share in November. This price dropped considerably in mid-March, but is currently hovering around $127 per share.

Spotify executives are scheduled to deliver a financial report for 2020’s first quarter on the morning of April 29th. During the corresponding earnings call, higher-ups will answer investors’ questions; inquiries can be submitted on Slido using the #SpotifyEarnings code.

While the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite haven’t yet returned to their pre-coronavirus levels, they have posted solid gains in recent days, presumably because of the United States’ $2.2 trillion stimulus package and relatively encouraging signs from the coronavirus battle.

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In terms of the latter, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Robert Redfield stated today, during a radio interview, that widespread compliance with social-distancing recommendations will likely result in far fewer COVID-19 casualties than originally anticipated.

Juice WRLD Copyright Infringement Lawsuit On Hold Until July

Juice WRLD and the members of Yellowcard, who have accused the late rapper of copyright infringement.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, Yellowcard’s copyright-infringement lawsuit against the late Juice WRLD has been delayed until July.

Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding court filing, which emphasized that Juice WRLD’s family must “appoint a personal representative to act on its behalf in this lawsuit.” The search for said representative is being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the document indicated, as are all “non-emergency” legal matters in the locked-down Miami-Dade County.

Besides these local lockdown measures, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis instituted a statewide stay-at-home order last Wednesday, April 1st.

And because the “defendants do not expect this situation [coronavirus-related lockdowns] will change in the near future,” they and their legal team requested a temporary delay. Now, the defendants will issue “a further status update to the Court by no later than July 1, 2020.”

Juice WRLD passed away in the early hours of the morning on December 8th, 2019. Federal agents raided his private plane shortly after it landed in Chicago, and Juice WRLD suffered an overdose while they were conducting their search. Despite receiving on-site treatment (an injection of opioid-overdose medication Naloxone) and being rushed to a local hospital, Juice WRLD perished.

In January, Juice WRLD’s family stated that they intend to release a posthumous album on their loved one’s behalf. Juice reportedly recorded 2,000 unreleased songs, though it’s unclear how many of these works will be officially made available. Eminem’s “Godzilla” marked Juice WRLD’s first musical appearance following his passing.

During the last couple of weeks, the coronavirus crisis has also prompted the delay of Yeasayer’s Black Panther copyright infringement lawsuit against The Weeknd, as well as Cardi B’s long-running “tattoo” case.

At the time of this writing, medical professionals had diagnosed approximately 1.42 million worldwide novel coronavirus cases, nearly 400,000 of which have derived from the United States. Doctors are currently weighing the prospect of implementing widespread plasma treatments, which have helped some critically ill patients to recover.

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ASCAP Delays Writer Distributions for Weeks as Licensing Revenue Tanks

photo: Mustaches Cactus (CC 2.0)

Performance rights giant ASCAP is now delivering some bleak news to member writers and publishers.

Perhaps this was inevitable, but PRO giant ASCAP is now feeling the serious ripple-effects of a shuttered United States. In a letter sent to members earlier this week — and shared with Digital Music News — ASCAP chief executive Elizabeth Matthews bluntly warned that “every category of ASCAP collections will be negatively impacted, including television, cable, radio, airlines, hotels, bars, grills and restaurants,” while seriously delaying a scheduled artist payout date of April 6th.

Of course, closed-down stores and venues aren’t playing any music, which means there aren’t any public licenses due.  But even worse, many of these shuttered stores are now fighting for their lives, and therefore delaying their respective performance rights organization invoices — or skipping them entirely.

“During this crisis, as we see more and more of our licensees who pay us start to feel the impact of the economic downturn, this translates into less revenue for ASCAP and less money available for distributions for our members,” Matthews relayed.  “We have already been contacted by numerous licensees who are attempting to pay less, pay late or not pay at all.”

Suddenly, songwriters and publishers are feeling the hit — starting right now. “We will make key distribution funding decisions later than usual once we have knowable facts of our revenue collections each calendar month and each quarter,” Matthews wrote. “What this means for you as a writer or publisher member is that your distributions may be delayed as compared to last year. For example, the ASCAP writer distribution was previously scheduled for April 6, 2020 and now it will be paid on April 28, 2020.”

Matthews even rang the alarm on the streaming side, where subscriptions could take a hit as Americans cut back.  “While everyone is streaming music and movies at home, not everyone in this country will be able to afford a subscription to entertainment services and that shift will impact revenue,” Matthews wrote.

Here’s the complete letter.

Dear ASCAP Members:

In a parallel universe, last week would have been the week that we held our ASCAP Annual Meeting during the 2020 ASCAP Experience event in Los Angeles. We would have reported that ASCAP had historic high revenues and distributions for 2019 and celebrated all of the amazing accomplishments of our ASCAP songwriter, composer and publisher members.

Instead, we are all facing the devastating consequences of COVID-19, which has hit all of us personally. It is rare to talk to someone who does not know someone suffering with this virus. Many of us have already lost loved ones, friends and colleagues and we have all lost members of our ASCAP community. While health and safety are our first priorities, we also take seriously our duty to ensure that you continue to receive a steady flow of royalties so that you can pay your bills and feed your families.

I have received a number of inquiries about how this crisis will impact ASCAP distributions. While there are many unknowns at this time, I would like to take this opportunity to explain what we can about how the negative economic impact of this virus will impact your ASCAP distributions.

First, it is important to understand that ASCAP distributions are made on a “cash basis” (the money we collect in a quarter is paid out that same quarter, less the costs of operation) as opposed to an “accrual basis” (money collected would be held and paid out two or three quarters later). In other words, we calculate distributions based on current revenues, not past revenues. In normal times, this is a great benefit to ASCAP members as you receive your money faster. During this crisis, as we see more and more of our licensees who pay us start to feel the impact of the economic downturn, this translates into less revenue for ASCAP and less money available for distributions for our members. We have already been contacted by numerous licensees who are attempting to pay less, pay late or not pay at all.

While you will receive your distributions from ASCAP during this health and financial crisis, we can no longer provide you with a date certain in advance of each distribution. The reason for this is that our licensing revenue will become increasingly variable as businesses remain closed, and the advertising market which drives revenues from television, radio and cable continues to be negatively impacted. Every category of ASCAP collections will be negatively impacted, including television, cable, radio, airlines, hotels, bars, grills and restaurants. While everyone is streaming music and movies at home, not everyone in this country will be able to afford a subscription to entertainment services and that shift will impact revenue. Twenty five percent of ASCAP revenues comes from outside the United States and COVID-19 hit many of those territories before it hit the US, so the ASCAP revenue impact will be global.

We will make key distribution funding decisions later than usual once we have knowable facts of our revenue collections each calendar month and each quarter. What this means for you as a writer or publisher member is that your distributions may be delayed as compared to last year. For example, the ASCAP writer distribution was previously scheduled for April 6, 2020 and now it will be paid on April 28, 2020. This is because we had to go through a collection cycle of March 31/April 1 payment due dates to determine accurate cash flow before finalizing the funding pool and processing hundreds of thousands of distribution files for payment processing services. Some of the vendor services we use to process and pay the distributions have also been materially impacted by COVID-19, so there is a domino impact that we are constantly navigating in terms of ensuring business continuity. The good news is that as a result of the delay, the April 28 writer distribution will be fully funded as we had originally anticipated.

I know that much of this is not good news, and you have already been bombarded with bad news every day for weeks, but I think it is important that we are all prepared for the future and we try to limit the number of surprises.

For those of us who work at ASCAP, our duty is to ensure that ASCAP survives to serve the next generation of creators and publishers. While things are tough right now, I remind myself that ASCAP has survived two world wars and several economic crises, so we stand on the shoulders of our predecessors to successfully fight through this pandemic. ASCAP and our ASCAP members are worth fighting for, and on behalf of all ASCAP employees, I promise you that we will do whatever it takes to fight for ASCAP and fight for you.

Thank you for your loyalty and your ASCAP membership.

Best,
Elizabeth Matthews

 

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StubHub Faces Class Action Lawsuit for Refusing to Issue Refunds

(photo: StubHub)

Late last month, Digital Music News was the first to report that ticketing platform StubHub wouldn’t be offering North American customers refunds to events cancelled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Now, a disgruntled buyer has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in an effort to get his money back.

Matthew McMillan and his legal team submitted the complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. Predictably, the lawsuit is straightforward enough. McMillan and his lawyers claim that StubHub has “sought to surreptitiously shift their losses onto their innocent customers, furthering the financial hardship endured by people across the country” by changing their policies and failing to distribute refunds.

The complaint also noted that StubHub originally promised said refunds (under the “FanProtect” guarantee) before replacing them with vouchers for 120 percent of the tickets’ purchase price. This policy shift resulted from StubHub deciding “to pay ticket sellers before the event[s] had occurred,” thereby losing the forwarded money unless the ticket sellers could be contacted and convinced to return the funds.

McMillan resides in Wisconsin, and because the disputed cash “exceeds the sum or value of $5,000,000,” involves individuals from throughout the United States, and pertains to multiple Wisconsin-based events, the matter should be heard in the Western District Court, according to the filing.

To bolster their argument, the plaintiff and his legal team highlighted several other points of significance. That includes the argument that customers “paying substantial prices, often beyond face-value” for tickets constitutes a sizable portion of StubHub’s business.

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Also, the filing reintroduces a (poorly aged) quote that StubHub Vice President and General Counsel Stephanie Burns provided before the House of Representatives in February: “StubHub’s FanProtect guarantee is the hallmark of our business and why we have earned the trust of fans around the globe.”

Despite StubHub’s open statement on the coronavirus pandemic and reiteration of the voucher-only policy, customers are still voicing their frustration via social media. And at the time of this writing, StubHub hadn’t addressed the above reported lawsuit or the continued (and seemingly mounting) complaints of clients.