Whenever a festival announces its lineup these days, a few things are inevitable. A flurry of people are going to respond by saying “woo hoo, take my money!”. Other people check the line up and go “nope, not for me”. And then you have the latest trend in the dance music world – which is to go through the whole list to see how many women and minorities are in it.
So I thought I’d have a go myself. The festival I’ve decided to look at is Ibiza Spirit, which is due to take place in Cancun, Mexico between February 19th and 26th next year. The first batch of the lineup has been announced. So do they fare any better than the frankly abysmal numbers of Electric Daisy Festival?
Well, 48 acts are listed on this flyer…
Breaking it down, there are 11 women listed – Alisha, Anfisa Letyago, Chloé Caillet, Cincity, Desiree, Francesco Lombardo, Heidi, Julie McKnight, Lauren Lane, Layla Benitez and Nicole Moudaber. Which means 22.91% of the lineup is female.
And as for non-whites? This is obviously subjective, because I don’t know exactly how everyone on the list describes themselves. With that in mind, I counted Black Coffee, Cincity, Desiree, Jesse Calosso, Kings Of Tomorrow, Julie McKnight, The Martinez Brothers, Themba and Todd Terry. A total of 9 out of 48 – or 18.75% of the lineup.
Simon Dunmore, the boss at Defected, gets some stick on this blog. His hypocrisy when condemning others for remixing their archive when his own labels engage in the same practice is but one example where he falls short.
And yet, I also have a certain degree of respect for him. He left the security blanket of the majors to set up the independent Defected at a time when the majors were busily trying to crush Ministry of Sound, which was eating away at their share in the dance market. He’s also taken considerable risks over the years and completely transformed Defected.
So much so that describing Defected as a record label now does them a disservice. They’re more of an events company with a record label attached. Over the years, the company has also selectively invested in different back catalogues – for example, they bought much of MK’s some years ago when the price was low.
Nonetheless, there’s something I find very curious about this building up of back catalogues. It seems like a bit of a lottery to me – pay money and buy lots of things, then hope some of it soon starts making money for you.
Not that Dunmore is worrying. Because he tweeted this last weekend…
Last week, I was looking on Companies House when I discovered a curious notice saying Boiler Room’s accounts were late. Surely some mistake? One email to the press office confirmed accounts had already been filed – Companies House simply hadn’t processed them yet. It was an automatically generated notice on the website.
This blog spoke yesterday – with the dissecting of Hannah Wants’s businesses – about finding out the real impact of the pandemic on dance music’s bank accounts, hence why I was looking for Boiler Room (UK) Limited. Well, those accounts are now online and they go all the way up to October 31st last year.
And they make grim reading. In 2020, Boiler Room made an accumulated loss of £11,877,734. Now, given they got a bailout last year of £791,652 from Arts Council England, the negative figure might not be surprising – and indeed, this is something they reference within the same document.
However, one look at the October 2019 figure – a few months before the pandemic – reveals they made an accumulated loss that year of £10,661,293. And going back through their other financial statements, the company appears not to have made any profit since 2016. They’re all in here if you’d like a look.
So since Boiler Room hasn’t made any money for eight years, why did Dice buy them? Well, either founder Blaise Bellville has charms and powers of persuasion not heard of before, or Boiler Room has something else going for it. Phil Hutcheon of DICE speaks about “The combination of Boiler Room with the distribution and technology of DICE”, but remains vague on detail.
And as for how much Blaise Bellville will be earning out of the deal? A source who’s been involved in a number of business acquisitions in the past says “He’ll be making something out of it, but unless DICE see gargantuan possibilities out of the acquisition, it’s unlikely to be the sort of headline figure your readers suspect it is”…
Nervous are getting a lot of publicity at the moment. The various interviews – and given this is the dance music press we’re talking about, I use the term in the loosest possible sense – pose questions about how did they choose remixers for their bumper 30th anniversary package, a bit about the history of the label and so on.
They even managed to get free publicity courtesy of the BBC – and even though they’re funded by the British public through the licence fee, the questions there were just as supine. Not one media organisation decided, whilst talking to label boss Michael Weiss, to ask him about his record label’s advertising strategy online.
That strategy – and this word is also used very loosely – appears to be to use pictures of ladies wearing next to no clothes and even when they are, the clothes usually have little to no link to the label. Such as this one which appeared on the Nervous Records’ Instagram account yesterday…
I still find it incredibly strange that The Blessed Madonna – normally so outspoken and taking no prisoners – dropped her feminist credentials and refused to question him about it. But one question which remains unanswered at the moment is, who is actually responsible for advertising over at Nervous?
A source in New York reliably informs me that Weiss is not responsible. Other than that, it’s a little unclear at the moment who is. Nervous aren’t saying…
The very first episode of South Park, broadcast in 1997, featured Eric Cartman having an alien probe stuck up his backside. Cartman would spend the entire episode denying its existence, yet he would frequently complain of farting fire whilst the alien probe occasionally made itself known to everyone but the boy himself.
Which broadly describes the position record executives at the three majors are in right now. The Competition and Markets Authority in the UK are thinking of rifling through their business to see whether they’re treating their artists as fairly as they say they are. They don’t like the prospect one little bit – even though they’d publicly have you believe otherwise.
The CMA has now launched what it calls a market study into streaming and the three majors. This is roughly the equivalent of doing a sweep around your house to see where you left your keys – and depending on who’s looking, they might find other things they didn’t plan to in the process.
But be in no doubt, the three men who run Sony, Warner and Universal – Rob Stringer, Stephen Cooper and Lucian Grainge – won’t welcome the prospect. The majors have always prided themselves on their secrecy, usually stretching the definition of “commercially confidential” to breaking point.
And if the regulator finds something it doesn’t like? Things move on to a full probe, much like forensics would carry out at the scene of a crime. Which is something they’ll like even less. But I can’t help but think that this probe into the majors – necessary as it is – only fixes part of the problem.
No one seems to have looked at the other culprits yet – and yes, I’m looking at you, Spotify boss Daniel Ek and all the other streaming platforms. When will their role in this devaluation of music be scrutinised?
It’s safe to say the whole of the Ibiza season this year has been pretty much a write-off. That’s two years now of being unable to operate entirely for much of the time. Heaven only knows I wouldn’t like to be the accountants who have to deliver the news about their finances right now.
Which is why this blog finds itself torn on the reopening of Amnesia in Ibiza. The Spanish authorities relaxed the rules to allow venues to open – subject to some restrictions – as of October 8th. However, this came so late in the season that the majority of clubs decided to sit the rest of the season out.
Only a few have opened – and Amnesia is holding both its opening and closing parties within 24 hours of each other as a result. And the lineup is stuffed full of business techno types – the more I look at this, the more it looks like a naked cash grab.
Normally, I’d be mortified at how shameless it is. But in the highly unusual circumstances they find themselves in, I can’t say I blame them for adopting the slogan “go big or go home”. I just wonder how much money they’ll have left after paying the gargantuan fees some of the names on the lineup normally command…
The beauty of blogging is you never quite know who might be reading it. I know for a fact some of the people whom I’ve written about have been along to read it – and this isn’t something I think twice about. If you’re in the public eye, don’t be surprised when the public occasionally comment on your activities.
Back in April, I published an article about how Fatboy Slim’s forthcoming tour of the UK excluded one of the four countries in it – namely, Northern Ireland. What I didn’t know at the time was a date had, in fact, been scheduled for Belfast. He was meant to appear on October 23rd at the Belfast Telegraph’s old headquarters to help celebrate Shine’s 25th birthday.
However, ongoing lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland – where nightclubs can only reopen from October 31st – mean the date has been pushed back to Friday 17th December. And sorry to disappoint if you’re now hoping to buy tickets to the event, but it sold out a while ago…
And speaking of Fatboy Slim – real name Norman Cook – there was an interesting story in the Belfast-based Sunday Life newspaper yesterday. Apparently, the man himself is due to make a cameo appearance in the next series of Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls. Their insider reveals his scenes are likely to be filmed in December – due to him being in Northern Ireland for the aforementioned gig – but no details have been revealed as to what role he’ll actually play. We shall see…
Over the next few months, the real impact that the pandemic has had on people and their companies is going to become very clear. Companies House – the UK’s official registrar of companies – is a good place to find this information. Those who appear on the list must file regular accounts, with only very limited exceptions in law.
And those accounts for 2020 are starting to appear now. One of those is for Hannah Wants. Earlier this year, she was an extremely vocal supporter of Save Our Scene UK, a movement which held an event in London which she participated in. A number of people at the time speculated money was the reason – a claim Wants denied at the time.
She claimed to have “lost a ton of money” – something which is borne out in the latest accounts for Hannah Wants Ltd to appear on Companies House. As of 31st October 2019, the company had net assets of £624,166. Twelve months later, this had nosedived down to £61,768 – a drop of 90% in just a year.
However, it’s not all bad news. Her other company, Wants Holdings Ltd had assets of £318,100 as of October 2019. At the end of October 2020, this had risen quite substantially – going up to £770,163. This is an increase of 142% on the previous year.
How does this compare against other DJs at a similar position? Well, this blog will be reporting on that over the next few months. Time to see how much the pandemic has really affected big names in the scene in the pocket…