New music from an unexpected source, a problem with tickets to a Black Keys show, and technology bringing us a mobile karaoke feature and the return of high-fidelity to streaming services were some of the highlights of the week.
We also saw yet another superstar depart the big stage, as Ric Ocasek of The Cars died in his Manhattan home, leaving behind an impressive legacy.
This week in music:
HOW OLD WAS RIC? Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and the mastermind behind The Cars died last Sunday. Ric Ocasek leaves behind a considerable catalog of great music and one mysterious question – how old was he? Some obits said age 70, others 75. There’s considerable differences of opinion among various media, but extensive research by the New York Times finally pegged him as 75 years old at the time of death.
MUSIC CENTER PROBLEMS: It was not a good month at the Music Center. The L.A. Opera’s Placido Domingo was accused of sexual harassment. Now Simon Woods, the L.A. Philharmonic director, has resigned after two years. “After a great deal of reflection, I have concluded that my hopes and aspirations lie elsewhere,” said Woods.
AMAZON PLANS HIGHER FIDELITY: Amazon Music is the No. 3 streaming service, but it is planning to leapfrog rivals Spotify and Apple by offering a higher quality, high-resolution streaming service for 50 million songs, promising a sound quality similar to CDs. Price for the service will be $12.99 a month for Prime members and $14.99 a month for non-members. per The Wall Street Journal. A Financial Times report in July claimed 32 million subscribers to Amazon Music. The new service started this week in the US, UK, Germany and Japan.
SAG-AFTRA AGREES ON MUSIC VIDEOS: Major record labels and SAG-AFTRA have a new three-year contract on music videos. Details on what’s purported to be financial and safety gains will be released after the new deal is reviewed at the National Board’s October meeting.
NEW LEONARD COHEN MUSIC: Previously unheard material from the late songwriter Leonard Cohen will be released as Thanks For The Dance, an album of new songs. Cohen’s son, Adam was asked to complete the work before his death in October 2016. Contributors include Javier Mas, who was part of Cohen’s band for his last eight years of touring, and music stars Beck, Bryce Dessner of the National, Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire, Damien Rice and Leslie Feist.Thanks for the Dance will feature further contributions from composer Dustin O’Halloran, producers Daniel Lanois and Patrick Watson, the Stargaze orchestra, Berlin-based choir Cantus Domus and the Shaar Hashomayim choir who performed on You Want It Darker. Former Cohen collaborators Jennifer Warnes and Michael Chaves will also appear.
KARAOKE FEATURE IN YOUR PHONE: The Apple Ios13 Music feature will offer time-synched lyrics that animate along with the music. The feature also lets you skip to a part of a song simply by tapping on the lyric. An Android version and one for Apple TV are also anticipated to arrive soon.
BLACK KEYS TICKET PROBLEMS: Some ticket holders for the Black Keys received a surprise when they came to the group’s Wiltern Theatre appearance – tickets they purchased from legitimate third-party vendors were not being honored. Several hundred fans who bought tickets from StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats were turned away at the band’s request. Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the concert organizers, claimed “bad actors” sold invalid tickets.
“The presenters of the concert directed that these tickets be made available only to fans and that they be strictly non-transferable,” Ticketmaster said in a statement. “This was messaged from the beginning with the announcement of the performance and throughout the sales process. Unfortunately, bad actors took advantage of this situation and posted screen shots of tickets that were not valid for entry onto the secondary market. We always recommend purchasing tickets from the official source.”
The Black Keys themselves said they made the call to turn people away. “Last night’s concert tickets were $25 and geared toward the fan club,” said a band email. “This was our first show in over four years and the kickoff of the Let’s Rock Tour. Because we were playing a venue far smaller than the rest of the venues on the tour as a warmup show, we turned off ticket transferability to ensure that our fans got in the door at the low ticket prices we set for them.” Vendors from Stub Hub, Seat Geek et. al are offering refunds.