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NEAR TRUTHS: SECRETS AND BUYS
We'll miss those smoke-filled rooms. (5/10a)
JUST CALL HIM ACE
Some guys have all the luck. (5/10a)
SONY GETS TOP BMI HONOR
Big ups for the mogul previously known as Big Jon (5/10a)
RAY OF HOPE
Our resident redhead praises girl in red. (5/10a)
'IT'S THE REAL SCHOOL'
Alan Jackson brings back hard country. (5/10a)
RHYTHM, BLUES AND THE FUTURE
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
WHO'S NEXT?
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
JUST THE VAX, MA'AM
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
Blighty Beat
COLDPLAY TO OPEN THE BRITS
5/4/21

Coldplay are set to open the BRIT Awards ceremony on 5/11, performing on a pontoon on the Thames near O2 Arena. It will be their first TV performance in more than a year; they join Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, P!nk and Rag'n'Bone Man on the bill.

The appearance follows the release of their single, "Higher Power" (Parlophone), which lands on Friday. It's the first new music from their upcoming ninth studio album. Others set to perform on the night include BRITs Rising Star winner Griff, Headie One and Arlo Parks.

…Read more

SONY U.K.'S FIRST DIVERSITY DIRECTOR 
5/4/21

Sony Music U.K. has appointed Charlotte Edgeworth as its first Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Social Impact.

Chairman and CEO Jason Iley said she will reinforce the label's efforts "to ensure our company truly reflects the diversity of our employees and artists. … Her expertise will continue to drive us forward in our commitment to diversity, inclusion and social impact.”

In her new role, Edgeworth will spearhead company strategies to continue fostering an equitable workplace, working closely with HR and Tiffany R. Warren, EVP, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Sony Music Group. She has played a key role in helping to establish the label's Social Justice Fund and will now collaborate with the U.K. Social Justice board and Sony Music Group’s EVP of Philanthropy and Social Impact, Towalame Austin.

With more than 20 years of experience championing diversity and promoting responsible business practices across a number of industries, for the past five years she has led and managed a corporate social responsibility business, where she specialized in strategic grantmaking.

U.K. CHARTS: TOM TRIUMPHS
4/30/21

At nearly 81 years old, Sir Tom Jones becomes the oldest male to claim a #1 album on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart, and the oldest artist ever to do so with an album of new material.

Jones’ Surrounded By Time (EMI) overtakes Bob Dylan, who was 79 when Rough And Rowdy Ways (Columbia) debuted at #1 in June. The late Vera Lynn’s greatest hits collection, We’ll Meet Again–The Very Best Of, hit #1 in 2009 when she was 92.

Surrounded By Time is Jones’ fourth #1 album and his first since 1999’s Reload. It is the only new title in the Top 10 this week.

Three reissues debut in the Top 30: The  50th anniversary edition of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band (Apple Corps.) enters at #11; The Who’s 1966 set The Who Sell Out (Polydor) lands at #15; and Selecter’s 1980 album Too Much Pressure (Chrysalis) is #24 and the week’s best selling album on vinyl.

At Singles, Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” (RCA) logs a fifth consecutive week at #1. Picking up 7.4m streams over the past seven days, the track held off competition from Justin Bieber f/Daniel Caesar & Giveon’s “Peaches” (Def Jam) and “BED” by Joel Corry, Raye & David Guetta (Asylum) who hang on at #2 and #3, respectively.

Tion Wayne & Russ Millions’s “Body” (Atlantic) rises 10 slots to #4 following the release of a mega remix featuring seven additional rappers. Doja Cat f/SZA’sKiss Me More” (Ministry of Sound) climbs three slots to a new peak at #6. “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals is up to #19.

U.K. MIDWEEKS: ROCKERS ROLL
4/26/21

Tom Jones is heading for his first U.K. Official Albums #1 album in two decades as Surrounded By Time (EMI) leads the race at the midweek stage. Lil Nas X looks set for another week on top at singles.

Jones’ 41st album takes the lead today with the most CD and download sales over the weekend. John Lennon is a new entry at #2 with the 50th anniversary edition of his first solo album, Plastic Ono Band (Apple Corps).

An expanded edition of The Who’s third studio album, The Who Sell Out (Polydor), is also new at #4. Dinosaur Jr. are in pursuit of their first Top 10 album in 28 years with Sweep It Into Space (Jagjaguwar) at #9, while Scouting For Girls could earn a fifth Top 10 with Easy Cover (Near Wild Heaven) at #10.

…Read more

PRS COLLECTIONS DOWN IN 2020
4/26/21

U.K. PRO PRS for Music collected £654.3m for its members in 2020, down 19.4% or £157.5m year-on-year. The decline is thanks in part to a 61.2% dip in public performance royalties due to the lack of live music during the pandemic.

Distributions (the majority of which were made up of income collected before the first lockdown, stretching back into 2019) reached £699.4m, a 2% rise on 2019. Net distributable revenue was £575.3m, down 20.2% YoY, and the org's cost to income ratio rose by just under 1% to 12.1%. 

Public performance income made up just 13.3% of collected royalty revenue last year after declining to £86.2m from £222.2m—in 2019, that revenue stream counted for 34% of collections. International revenue also declined by 10.8% to £248.6m and broadcast royalties dipped 2.6% to £127.4m. Online rose 5.1% to £188.3m. Further adverse impact on collections is expected through 2021. 

Andrea Czapary Martin, CEO of PRS for Music, said: “The increase [in distributions] driven by growth in online revenues, cannot alone negate the immense loss of income and harm on the whole music industry, and the livelihoods of those within it, in 2020. This year will be similarly challenging, as the dramatic fall in revenues during the last year will be reflected in declining distributions throughout 2021.” 

Martin added that the reopening of the live sector must be a priority going forward, “while the repercussions of Brexit will become clearer through new limitations on touring outside of the U.K.”

COVID CERTIFICATES BACKED
4/26/21

British trade body UK Music and Festival Republic owner Melvin Benn have signed a letter to U.K. Government backing the use of COVID certificates to help bring back the live industry. Signatories also include many in the theater world.

The letter backs the use of COVID status certification that would confirm those attending events have either been vaccinated, have a negative COVID test or an antibody test. “We are clear that this approach must not rely only on proof of vaccination, and also that it must only be a temporary measure, only used for as long as necessary,” it continues.

The letter adds that the approach “must not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria,” concluding: “If all this holds true, then we are very much supportive of the continued exploration of this possibility to bring life back to normal as soon as possible.”

Other signees include Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Simon Rattle, conductor and Music Director at the London Symphony Orchestra.

The use of COVID passports or certificates has stirred some controversy in the U.K., with critics from the entertainment and hospitality sector saying the idea could be discriminatory and infringe on freedom.

 

U.K. CHARTS: CALIFORNIAN GOLD
4/23/21

London Grammar’s Californian Soil (Ministry of Sound) digs in at #1 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart on 31k sales. Over on singles, Lil Nas X scores a fourth week at the top.

Californian Soil is the fastest-selling album of 2021 so far by a British act and outperformed the rest of the Top 5 combined. It’s London Grammar’s second #1.

AJ Tracey’s Flu Game (Revenge Records) is the most-streamed album of the week at #2 today, followed by The Offspring’s Let The Bad Times Roll (Concord) at #3.

Imelda May’s 11 Past The Hour (Decca) enters at #6, followed by Greta Van Fleet’s The Battle at Garden’s Gate (Republic) at #8.

…Read more

LIVE AUDIENCE OK'D FOR BRITS
4/21/21

Given the restrictions that are still in place in the U.K., we’ve been wondering how the BRIT Awards ceremony will look this year. Now we know — it’s taking part in the Government’s science-led Events Research Programme, which means 4k people can attend the show at The O2 Arena on 5/11.

The BRITs will be the first major indoor music event in the U.K. to welcome back a live audience and will be subject to enhanced testing approaches to examine how events can take place without the need for social distancing. In recognition of their efforts during the pandemic, more than half of the tickets — 2.5k — will be gifted to key workers (and a guest of their choice) from the Greater London area who’ll be able to enter a ballot to gain free entry.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the BPI & BRIT Awards, said he hopes the show will “provide a path for the return of live music that fans and artists have so sorely missed.”

“We’re buzzing about the show and working closely with Government, The O2 and all our partners to ensure all safety measures and guidelines are adhered to.”

Audience members will not need to socially distance or be required to wear face coverings in the arena, but they will need to follow existing Government guidance when travelling to the venue and adhere to rules set out by the event organizers.

Attendees must have proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter and will also be asked to take a test after the event to gather further evidence on the safety of indoor settings, reduced social distancing and the removal of non-pharmaceutical interventions like face coverings.

In addition, they will have to provide contact details for NHS Test and Trace to ensure everyone can be traced in the event of an audience member receiving a positive test after the event.