Music News: Music streams decline during pandemic sheltering


Defying expectations, streaming numbers are down; Lady Gaga is curating a major online music festival celebrating healthcare workers; and a lawsuit against Universal over a devastating 2008 fire has been dismissed, while StubHub is facing a $5 million class action suit. (MPR Video)

For reasons that music insiders don't entirely understand, music streaming is continuing to drop as more and more listeners go on lockdown. A few genres have seen boosts — among them children's music, classical music, and older catalog releases — but the streams that drive the Top 40 are falling, along with record sales as stores close for safety. The Weeknd's new album After Hours remains atop the Billboard 200 album chart, but its numbers don't look like typical spring season numbers, they look more like numbers in the week between Christmas and New Year's, when everyone's busting out their Bing Crosby CDs. (New York Times)

In this strange situation, Rolling Stone talked to Tom Corson, chairman of Warner Records. That label's earned positive buzz for pushing ahead with big releases by Dua Lipa and PartyNextDoor. Corson says the fact that other labels are pulling a lot of their planned releases has created an opportunity for an album like Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia, which was heavily celebrated by services like Spotify and Apple Music that are starved for new content. Corson also says this is a time when the music industry badly needs hope, and the ecosystem is so changed, it's wrong to assume that it will be business as usual for releases that get pushed back to the fall season.

Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney, Lizzo and more to play "Live Aid-style" online fest

Lady Gaga is curating an online music festival described as "Live Aid-style" by NPR. The concert, which will be streamed on Saturday, April 18, is "designed to celebrate healthcare workers around the globe and to support the U.N. Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund." Confirmed performers include Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Paul McCartney, and Stevie Wonder.

Legal news: Universal masters fire suit dismissed, StubHub hit with $5 million suit over coronavirus refund policy

In a huge win for Universal Music, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing the label of negligence in protecting irreplaceable master recordings that were lost in a 2008 fire. Soundgarden, Hole, Steve Earle, the estate of Tupac Shakur, and an ex-wife of Tom Petty were among the plaintiffs who filed suit against the label, but all except Petty's ex had dropped out before yesterday's ruling, which ran to 28 pages but most significantly noted that in a traditional record contract, the label, not the artist, owns master recordings — so while Universal may have been sloppy about its storage, ultimately it only lost its own property. (New York Times)

Meanwhile, a Wisconsin man named Matthew McMillan has filed a class action lawsuit against StubHub, seeking $5 million in damages over what he says was a massive failure by the ticket reseller to honor its own "FanProtect guarantee." Supposedly any StubHub ticket purchase will be refunded if an event is cancelled, but when basically everything was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, StubHub couldn't cover the refunds and instead offered credit towards future purchases, arguing that events like the Minnesota Wild hockey game McMillan was hoping to see weren't actually cancelled, just postponed. McMillan says StubHub was irresponsible in paying ticket sellers right away, instead of hanging onto that money until the events actually occurred. (Billboard)

It's "just another manic Monday" in Bangles-Green Day distanced duet

Two music stars recording a duet at a distance? That's what "just another manic Monday" looks like in this time of forced isolation. In the latest edition of Billie Joe Armstrong's "No Fun Mondays" online performance series, the Green Day frontman was joined by Susanna Hoffs for a performance of a song written by Prince and given to Hoffs's group the Bangles for a Top Five hit in 1986. (Rolling Stone)

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