|FRIDAY 24 MARCH 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: SoundCloud has secured another $70 million in debt finance according to documents filed with Companies House that were spotted by Business Insider. So, that'll keep the sounds in the cloud streaming for a little while longer. There has been quite a bit of chatter of late about the digital firm's financial situation, mainly because of a statement in its official accounts for 2015... [READ MORE]|
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SoundCloud secures $70 million in debt finance
There has been quite a bit of chatter of late about the digital firm's financial situation, mainly because of a statement in its official accounts for 2015 which said that, while directors believed the business had sufficient funds to see it through 2017, "the risks and uncertainties may cause the company to run out of cash earlier than that date".
It has been widely rumoured that SoundCloud has been both speaking to potential buyers and seeking to raise new finance in recent months. One anonymous source speaking to the FT characterised the latest stint of finance raising as passing round the begging bowl, while Recode reported that the company's owners were now considering bids for the business far below its one time valuation of $700 million.
For its part, SoundCloud has repeatedly played down any suggestion that it is falling on hard times. Having diversified its revenue streams beyond just charging content owners hosting fees, the company is now focused on trying to get properly into the subscription streaming business with its £5.99 and £9.99 packages, which offer users more functionality and more content respectively.
While rebutting the various doom and gloom rumours, SoundCloud always insists that it is optimistic about its subscriptions business, and that it will help the company ultimately achieve profitability. Though some question whether it can really take on Spotify and Apple Music in the competitive and costly subscription streaming game, even with its large free user-base to which it can try and upsell premium.
The new round of finance comes from Kreos Capital, Ares Capital and Davidson Technology. It's not the first injection of debt finance the company has taken - it having received $35 million from Tennenbaum Capital Partners at the start of last year before another round of equity financing.
Confirming the latest cash boost, SoundCloud said yesterday: "We are pleased to have secured a flexible $70 million credit line from Ares Capital, Kreos Capital and Davidson Technology that is ideally structured for a company with our strong credit rating and in our stage of growth. This new funding will enable SoundCloud to strategically grow our technology and personnel resources to fuel our expected 2.5 times year-over-year growth in 2017, while building a financially sustainable platform on which our connected community of creators, listeners and curators can thrive for years to come".
PRS For Music and PPL pilot linked database search tool
The data initiative comes as PRS and PPL prepare to launch their joint venture providing those seeking licences for the public performance of sound recordings in the UK with a one-stop-shop licence. The new joint data platform lets users identify both track and song information, including label, publisher, writers and performers. So far, about 2.5 million recordings have been linked to about 1.2 million compositions.
At this stage the data link tool is more a proof of concept, aimed at instigating discussions with other music rights organisations. There are already plenty of data-sharing initiatives between collecting societies around the world, but they tend to focus on either recordings data or songs data, rather than linking the two key sets of music data together.
"One of the biggest challenges we all face is how we create industry-wide access to authoritative data", says PRS Director Of Operations Paul Dilorito. "Effective linking of works to recordings is the first step and this prototype has enabled us to deliver a successful proof of concept that we are delighted to have brought to fruition in partnership with PPL. Collaboration is key to the successful resolution of the data challenge across the industry, and as industry-leading authoritative sources of metadata we are both very well placed to facilitate a solution".
Geffen Records to be ramped up again
Founded by David Geffen in the 1980s, Geffen Records enjoyed considerable success in the subsequent two decades, first with pop, then with harder rock, and then with some key alternative rock acts. It allied with Universal in 1990, with Geffen himself remaining involved until 1995. At the end of the 1990s, Geffen Records was absorbed by the Interscope label, though at various points since then it has been pushed forward as a frontline label brand, albeit usually mainly managed by Interscope staff.
Jacobson will still report into Interscope chief John Janick in his new role, who said yesterday: "Geffen Records has always represented the true entrepreneurial spirit of the music business. Neil's commitment to artistry, his drive, and his ability to see and create new opportunities for our business make him the perfect choice to take the helm at Geffen, a label that is such an important part of the collective legacy of our company".
Name-checking both the label's founder and some of its most famous signings back in the day, Jacobson told Billboard: "I've been telling people for fifteen years that one day I wanted to run Geffen. I always thought Geffen is a special label and David Geffen is a special person. And with Nirvana and Guns N Roses you're talking about my favourite artists of all time".
Gorillaz announce new album, Humanz
Announcing the new record, the band yesterday unveiled a video, which features new track 'Saturnz Barz', featuring Popcaan, in full, plus clips of three others, 'Ascension' featuring Vince Staples, 'Andromeda' featuring DRAM and 'We Got The Power' featuring Savages' Jehnny Beth - all of which are also separately available in full on YouTube.
Speaking on Radio X last night, Damon Albarn revealed that his 'arch nemesis' Noel Gallagher sang backing vocals on 'We Got The Power'.
Now that I've told you that, I have to do a bit of housekeeping. As per the demands of Radio X owner Global Radio, I am obliged to inform you of some stuff, but I will weave it into my reporting so seamlessly that you won't even notice. Gorillaz' Damon Albarn was speaking on the 'Radio X Evening Show' with Gordon Smart, weekdays 7pm-10pm on Radio X. Tune in to 'Smart On Sunday' with Gordon Smart this Sunday from 2pm on Radio X to hear more from Damon Albarn.
Right, where were we? Oh yeah, Gorillaz. As well as announcing the album, they've also revealed that they will play a show at a secret location in London tonight. You won't get into that though, so just get tickets for their festival in Margate in June, because that will be better anyway.
Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, that tracklist that appeared on PPL's database last week does match up with the one just published officially. But what you wouldn't have known from the PPL listings is that five of those songs will appear on the deluxe edition of the album only. Also, the various interludes will be narrated by actor Ben Mendelsohn.
Zayn releases new single
The album is yet to be properly announced, though it is expected to be released in the summer.
Malik told The Sunday Times last weekend: "They always say the second album is difficult, but so far I'm really happy with this one. There are real signs of growth and development. Hopefully, as a human being, I'm growing too, in my knowledge and perception".
Ride announce new album, Weather Diaries
The band have already released two tracks from the album, 'Charm Assault' and 'Home Is Feeling'. "When we started writing together again we tried to imagine we'd kept on making music all this time", said frontman Andy Bell of the new material earlier this year.
They'll be pumping out some of that new material, no doubt, when they play Glasgow's Barrowland as part of the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival tonight.
Chris T-T announces 20th anniversary best of compilation
"From the very start it's been an absolute pleasure to work with Chris both in a business and social sense", says Xtra Mile MD Charlie Caplowe. "We're really proud to have been along for the ride for at least half of his amazing 20 year career. Here's to another 20!"
What good would an anniversary-marking best of be without an anniversary and best of release-marking tour though? No good at all, I tell you. So it's lucky that these dates have been booked:
28 Apr: Trowbridge, Town Hall Arts
But is there a new lyric video for an old song that appears on the compilation? What, you thought he'd forget? Well don't you look silly, because here's one for 'The English Earth', off 2009 album 'The 253'.
Weezer announce UK tour
Anyway, here are the dates:
23 Oct: Leeds, Academy
Now's probably a good time to listen to the episode of 'Song Exploder' in which Rivers Cuomo explains how he writes songs with spreadsheets. Marvel at the intricacy of it all, and then wonder if you might have hit upon the reason for the downturn in the quality of the band's songs.
Speaking of which, here's the video for new single 'Feels Like Summer'.
Tool, Kendrick Lamar, Iggy Azalea, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Tool are reportedly planning to end their policy of holding their music off streaming services when they eventually release their new album.
• Kendrick Lamar has released a new track, 'The Heart Part 4', which is part four of his 'The Heart' series (in case you hadn't already guessed). On it, he references 7 Apr, which may or may not be a significant date for Lamar fans hoping for a new album.
• Iggy Azalea's got a new single out, 'Mo Bounce'.
• Michael Kiwanuka's put out the video for 'Cold Little Heart'.
• Migos have released the video for 'What The Price'.
• Goldfrapp have released a new song, 'Moon In Your Mouth'.
• Rina Sawayama has released a new single, 'Cyber Stockholm Syndrome'. "'Cyber Stockholm Syndrome' is happy and sad, honest and autobiographical, and I feel like I've truly written from the heart from the first time", she says of the song.
Beef Of The Week #348: Russia v Ukraine
The case of Voronenkov quickly reached something of a deadlock, with Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, claiming that the killing was an act of "state terrorism" on Russia's part, while Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied that the country had any involvement. Meanwhile, Eurovision organisers continue with their futile attempts to avoid this year's competition becoming political.
If anything, it's becoming more and more apparent that everything that involves the two countries (allegedly or otherwise) is political. As Skunk Anansie once sang, "Yes, it's fucking political". Maybe we should scrap our current Eurovision entry and put that forward instead, just to make a point. It would double up as a good Brexit reference too.
In the event you've missed all this, let's have a recap. When Ukraine won Eurovision last year, Russia threatened to boycott this year's event. The Russians were already angry about the song Ukraine had put forward in 2016, which they argued broke Eurovision's 'no politics' rule. Organisers disagreed, despite the song being about Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which has been occupied by Russian forces since 2014.
It looked increasingly like Russia might go through with that boycott, but then earlier this month - with just a day to go before the deadline for entries - it was announced that Julia Samoilova would represent the country with the song 'Flame Is Burning'.
Already well known in Russia and beyond, Samoilova was the runner up in the 2013 series of the country's version of 'X-Factor', and she sang at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics. A perfect Eurovision entrant, you might say.
However, there was a snag. Ukraine holds a blacklist of artists who have performed in Crimea since it was annexed. Samoilova was not on that list, but it quickly emerged that she had played there in 2015. Ukraine security forces then said that they were considering banning her from entering the country, or they would let her in but then arrest her. Neither of which are good options for someone just hoping to come and sing a song.
After some deliberation, it was announced that Samoilova would be banned from entering Ukraine for three years. The Eurovision Song Contest is due to take place in May, so that's really not going to work with her diary. On the plus side, she's avoided jail time. So that's a silver lining. It was also unclear whether Ukraine intended to actually enforce the ban.
Russian officials immediately spoke out against the ban though. One put forward the slightly peculiar defence that "practically everyone has been to Crimea". They demanded that Eurovision overseer the European Broadcast Union do something about the situation, threatening that Russia would not only boycott this year's competition, but as many future competitions as it took for it to calm down. Broadcaster Channel One Russia also said that it would not show the competition if Samoilova was not in it.
A cynic might suggest that this is exactly what Russia wanted. And many cynics have. It can't have escaped Russia's notice that Ukraine has been blocking musicians who perform in Crimea. Presumably someone would have checked it Samoilova had done so before putting her forward. Some particularly cynical cynics have also suggested that she was selected because she is a wheelchair user, because then any backlash against her in Ukraine could be spun as disablist, though this doesn't seem to have been the case so far.
Yesterday, the EBU put out a statement to say that it was working hard to ensure that this extremely political situation does not become political. It had, it said, come up with a solution that should work for everyone.
It said: "Taking into consideration that this ban might be upheld by the Ukrainian authorities, and in order to maintain the non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU has been working hard to find a solution to this situation and has taken the unprecedented move to offer Channel One Russia the opportunity for Julia to still participate in this year's Contest by performing live in the second semi final via satellite".
"Should the Russian entry qualify for the Grand Final the same solution would apply", it continued. "This is something that has never been done before in the Contest's 60 year history but, in the spirit of Eurovision's values of inclusivity, and this year's theme of 'Celebrate Diversity', the decision has been taken to ensure that all 43 entrants are given the opportunity to participate".
Emphasising how non-political all of this was, Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, added: "We are continuing our dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the ambition to have all artists present to perform in host city, Kiev, which is, of course, our preferred option. It is imperative that the Eurovision Song Contest remains free from politics and as such, due to the circumstances surrounding Julia's travel ban, we have felt it important to propose a solution that transcends such issues".
Well, it's lucky the EBU is still talking to Ukraine to try to ensure that Samoilova is allowed to appear in the country in person, because - guess what! - Russia's not really down with the contingency plan.
In a statement last night, Channel One said that it just wasn't into the idea. "We find the offer of remote participation odd and refuse it", it said firmly. "It is going absolutely against the very essence of the event, one of the rules of which reads that the song should be performed live on the stage".
Yeah, you wouldn't want to go breaking any of the Eurovision rules. Imagine if that happened.
For her part, Samoilova has remained calm and dignified, while at the centre of a bizarre international incident. She has said that she is "not upset" about Ukraine's decision, but can't quite see why they would see "some kind of threat in a little girl like me".
She also remains confident that some kind of resolution will be found. "I will keep going", she has said. "I somehow think that everything will change".
Of course, her being all nice and totally unthreatening might be part of a strategy to make Ukraine look bad. That's probably what you cynics think. Although, it does also seem like she is genuinely nice and unthreatening, as I think you would generally expect a singer in the Eurovision Song Contest to be. It being both nice and unthreatening.
Samoilova is currently scheduled to perform in the second semi-final of the event on 11 May, and then in the final if she gets through. Though really, who knows what will happen in the next seven weeks leading up to event? If this turns out to be World War Three's 'Archduke Ferdinand moment', I think that would be very embarrassing for all of us.