NOTE – I removed the paywall on this update since it covers COVID-19. Stay safe!
Hey. It seems like a year has passed since I sent out Wednesday’s Meg Thee Stallion article. I hope everyone’s staying safe out there! This was the best thing I’ve read on COVID-19. It’s also oddly fitting that Jay Electronica, who rapped “trying to find the meaning of life in a Corona” on 2009’s Exhibit C has now finally dropped is debut album as the world is in a coronavirus crisis.
On a serious note, I know a lot of you, like me, are privileged to be able to work from home and still make a living. But I feel for those of you who don’t fall in that camp.
Today’s update is a follow-up on the coronavirus impact on the live performance industry. It also includes articles on Rihanna’s TikTok house, Apple Music’s new deal, and more.
Carl Chery | RapPack
Russ and The Rap Pack break down the chorus to Kanye West’s “Runaway,” discuss why the biggest rappers can always rap and instant gratification versus the long game.
NOTE – This clip starts around the 10-minute mark with a conversation about who will take the reigns from “the trinity”: Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar.
Bianca Betancourt | Harper’s Bazaar
Rihanna doesn’t follow trends, she merely creates them. The all-around cultural mogul did just that when she unveiled the new Fenty Beauty House this week, during a party for the makeup brand’s new mascara product. The house is a hub for creators to make content for TikTok, the rapidly growing social media app for short-form musical and comedic videos.
NOTE – This is a better way for artists to get involved with TikTok than forcing viral challenges.
Anna Nicolaou | Financial Times
Apple has struck fresh deals for songs from the world’s largest record labels, as the technology giant strives to increase its media presence and siphon more people towards iPhones. In recent months, the iPhone maker sealed multiyear licensing deals with Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music, said four people familiar with the matter, allowing for hits from artists spanning Taylor Swift, Lizzo and Adele to continue to be streamed on Apple Music.
Tatiana Cirisano | Billboard
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) awarded a total of $500,000 in grants to local female and female-identifying musicians today (March 12), part of a three-year initiative to address the underrepresentation of women in the arts.
Nellie Andreeva | Deadline
Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment has acquired the rights to Jake Brennan’s music and true-crime podcast Disgraceland for a TV series written by Khouri, Lohmann and Brennan, with Burnett overseeing the music.
Disgraceland, which will be taken to the premium cable and streaming marketplace shortly, is a music and true-crime television show about musicians getting away with murder and behaving very badly.
NOTE – In February I wrote about how higher-brow podcasts can monetize. It’s great to see Disgraceland make moves.
COVID-19’s Impact Continues
The live performance industry has been hit especially hard with the spreading of COVID-19. Both Live Nation and AEG have taken strong and necessary stances.
As concern over the spread of coronavirus spread rapidly this week, the world’s two largest live-entertainment companies, AEG and Live Nation, and several major agencies have announced that they are suspending tours for the rest of March.
“The world’s leading forces in live entertainment have come together to form a global task force to drive strategic support and unified direction ensuring precautionary efforts and ongoing protocol are in the best interest of artists, fans, staff, and the global community…
“At this time, we collectively recommend large scale events through the end of March be postponed. We continue to support that small scale events follow guidance set by their local government officials. We feel fortunate to have the flexibility to reschedule concerts, festivals, and live events as needed, and look forward to connecting fans with all their favorite artists and live entertainment soon.”
To no surprise, Live Nation’s stock price has slid over 52% since its record-high in February. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino just bought $1 million worth of shares. It’s a two-fold move to instill confidence and invest “at a discount” since the industry was otherwise booming.
But unfortunately, the people most impacted aren’t loaded like Rapino. It’s the artists who aren’t big enough to perform at Coachella. It’s those who don’t get covered on Trapital. It’s the employees who work at these venues and rely on this income. It’s those whose lives are also impacted by school closures, potential shutdowns, and other precautionary measures that disrupt life.
In the NBA, we’ve seen selfless measures to lessen the financial hit on arena workers. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban plans to continue paying the hourly workers at the American Airlines Center in Dallas (Cuban also joined Rapino and bought Live Nation stock). Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler has committed to pay workers at the State Farm Arena. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love donated $100,000 to Quicken Loans Arena workers. Similar measures from live performance executives could go a long way.
The other challenge is insurance. Pandemics can make it difficult for these events to come back next season. SXSW was not insured for viral outbreaks and is not refunding sponsors and attendees. No sponsor wants to be treated like a Spirit Airlines customer trying to make changes to their itinerary! This will lead to future challenges. The 35-year festival has already laid off one-third of its staff (50 employees).
Earlier this week, Rolling Stone interviewed a physician who specializes in infectious diseases, Dr. Daniel Griffin. He believes that 35% of people who attend concerts and other large gatherings are likely to get infected. 35%!
That stat that makes clips like this, last night’s Post Malone concert at the Pepsi Center in Denver, hard to watch:
Getting more video from inside @pepsicenter. Thought I was seeing empty seats for @PostMalone in the middle of COVID-19 outbreak. Turns out… it’s packed. So much for social distancing. #9News pic.twitter.com/8uPbHN0lEi
— Ryan Haarer (@RyanHaarer) March 13, 2020
Remember, this concert happened after the NBA and NHL, which use the Pepsi Center, suspending gameplay for safety. It’s irresponsible to push these events, especially for someone as big as Post Malone. The Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche owners can follow Cuban and Ressler’s lead and foot the bill for the fans who were displaced.
These are rare times. I get it. The everyday people behind the live performance industry have taken a huge, huge hit because of it. Cancellations are the right thing to do, but those who can lessen the burden for the workers and musicians impacted will make their lives a whole lot easier.
Stay safe and enjoy your weekend. Please don’t go to any Post Malone concerts.