Music News: Event companies pivot from festival stages to virus testing tents


The Current Music News for April 17, 2020 (MPR Video)

With music festivals essentially called off for the summer, some event production companies are putting their skills to work where they're most needed: in healthcare. Billboard talked with sources including Matt Hyman of event production company LNKBOX, who's leading a new initiative to connect cities and hospitals with the workers who would otherwise be busy building giant stages, vending booths, and chill-out tents. Those workers can now build hospital extensions or virus testing tents, says Hyman.

Hyman says, "These people in our industry possess every skill set necessary to build this stuff and build it quickly and build it effectively. [...] These people travel around the country, they get things around, they build them, they run them, they take them down, they go on to the next place and they do it all over again."

Some companies are offering structures like tents and barriers at cost during the pandemic, but they also do need some income since, like so many in the live event industry, they're out of work while America hunkers down at home.

AEG offers ticket refund window as legislators threaten action

As the days pass and ticketbuyers get increasingly impatient with ticketing agencies, a New York state senator has asked the state's attorney general to begin a formal investigation of Ticketmaster, and a spokesman for the attorney general says his office is "looking into the matter." Individual ticketholders, the attorney general's office says, have also been filing complaints over ticket refund delays.

Ticketmaster and other promoters have been refusing many refunds if shows are technically postponed rather than canceled — even if there's no new date announced, and it's unclear when there ever will be. Now, promoter AEG says that for 30 days starting on May 1, ticketholders can request refunds even if their shows are supposedly postponed. (New York Times)

CHVRCHES land lucrative song placement on Netflix show Elite

If there's one great way to make money in the music industry that's still going strong during the coronavirus pandemic, it's landing song placements on streaming TV shows and movies. As Rolling Stone notes, the Scottish electropop group CHVRCHES have landed "the Netflix deal of the music industry's dreams" on the show Elite. In the Spanish-language high school drama, the band's song "Forever" gets played again and again and again.

How much does an artist make for a deal like that? The specific amount hasn't been disclosed, but industry insiders tell Rolling Stone they're probably looking at five figures — plus the big surges the song is already seeing on platforms like Spotify, where the 2018 song is getting literally ten times as many plays as it did before the show came out. Kristen Bushnell Perez of the band's label Glassnote Records says, "I think Netflix has more power now than ever before with influence over artists' careers."

So this new Fiona Apple is pretty good, huh?

Fiona Apple's first new album since 2012 is out today, and people are already kind of obsessed with it. The 13-song album is called Fetch the Bolt Cutters, and Pitchfork rewarded it with an extraordinary ten out of ten. Critic Jenn Pelly writes, "Fiona Apple's fifth record is unbound, a symphony of the everyday, an unyielding masterpiece. No music has ever sounded quite like it."

What does "symphony of the everyday" mean? In part, it refers to the fact that the album is filled with sounds like handclaps, wall-banging, and the barking of five different dogs who are credited as collaborators. Stereogum agrees that the album is extraordinary, but warns that it's a challenging listen: "Apple knows she's inventing new shapes and forms, and that exhilaration always shines through."

Bob Dylan drops another new song

What's Bob Dylan up to? As usual, no one knows. Just a few weeks after releasing his first original song in eight years, the epic "Murder Most Foul," the Nobel laureate is back with another new track. This one's a concise four-and-a-half-minute number called "I Contain Multitudes." Like the last song, it's full of references to history and pop culture. In one verse, Dylan sings, "I'm just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones, and them British bad boys the Rolling Stones." Yep...he contains multitudes. (Star Tribune)

Beyoncé surprises "Family Singalong" viewers with "When You Wish Upon a Star"

On Thursday night, ABC broadcast a show called The Disney Family Singalong, with artists like Ariana Grande and Christina Aguilera singing Disney classics from home. In a surprise appearance, Beyoncé dropped in to thank healthcare workers and encourage food shelf donations. Her song choice? Disney's signature song, of course, the Pinocchio ballad "When You Wish Upon a Star." (Rolling Stone)

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