It’s the start of the major part of the touring season, with the Rolling Stones, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Paul McCartney, and more on the road. Meanwhile, the summer has begun and everyone’s looking for the defining song of the season, and musicologists are still worried about the catalog losses incurred from the devastating fire at Universal Studios.
A recap of some of the top stories in music this week:
UNIVERSAL DAMAGE: The big story of the week was the further revelation by New York Times reporter Jody Rosen that 100,000 masters and 500k song titles were lost in the fire that attacked the Universal Music Group archives. The latest update quoted Bryan Adams, who was seeking materials to celebrate an anniversary and couldn’t get a straight answer on where his recordings were located. Now, in legal documents, UMG asserted that “a huge musical heritage” went up in smoke, including recordings from Decca, Chess, Impulse, ABC, MCA, Geffen, Interscope and A&M. Are they lost forever? It’s likely some copies can be found out in the world. But it’s also likely that this is one of the great intellectual property disasters of all-time. UMG already faces a lawsuit from an artist collective. More will undoubtedly follow
AMOEBA MUSIC MOVING – BUT WHERE? – With few record retailers remaining in the US, the loss of any of them is devastating. But when it’s a Mecca like L.A.’s Amoeba Music, the pain is more severe. The LA City Council voted this week to approve a zoning change that will allow a 26-story complex to go up on the current Amoeba site on Sunset Boulevard. While owners insist that Amoeba will relocate, where the new store will be is still up in the air. If and when it does surface, owners say it will include a cannabis dispensary.
NASHVILLE’S MUSIC ROW VIBE THREATENED: The city’s Metro Planning Commission has adopted a controversial plan for development along Music Row, the one-time center of country music. In May, Music Row was named one of the country’s most threatened landmarks by the National Trust for Historic Preservation because of the area’s extensive development. The new plan establishes new rules for buildings in the 16th Avenue-18th Avenue area, allowing high-rise development, but only in the Northern end toward Broadway. Retail and restaurants would be encouraged as well, developments that previously were discouraged in the area.
NIELSEN MUSIC REPORT SEES DOWNLOADS DIMINISHED: The mid-year report on recorded music consumption by the data firm showed growth in streaming from Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube, and the continued demise of hard copies and downloads. In the first half of the year, listeners streamed 507 billion on-demand audio and video streams, a 13% increase over the last measurement period. On-demand listening is up almost 28% since June 2018, with rap and R&B the top genres.
HIP-HOP CENSORSHIP BID: New York City Councilwoman Inez Barron has introduced a proposal that would limit profane or “indecent” music being played on radio between 6 AM and 10 PM. “According to the [FCC] website airing indecent programming at any time is a violation of federal law,” Barron said in a report. Her efforts are backed by radio veteran Bob Law, who said violent and sexualized lyrics could be heard by children. “The radio stations that market these kind of ideas refuse to play music by artists whose message is more life-giving, so that you have to be a killer rapper in order to get into heavy rotation,” Law said. The proposal is part of the “Respect Us” campaign, an initiative by the National Congress of Black Women started in 2018.
NO MORE OZZY FOR TRUMP: Donald Trump’s use of Ozzy Osbourne’s song “Crazy Train” in a joking meme this week didn’t leave his management laughing. Sharon Osbourne, the singer’s wife and manager, said that the use of Ozzy’s music was unauthorized and requested no further use. Trump has yet to respond.