Hello, readers. I’ll admit that having already planned to take off last Wednesday, there’s no way I could’ve expected what’s happened over the last couple of weeks. I’m taking a break this week because I’ve consistently participated in protests and as a result stayed up way too late attempting to process all that’s happening. I planned on doing a reader call tonight but that’s also on pause. I updated my Patreon to center a bit more around those calls but again, I’ll need to see when those will return. A lot of ideas for projects I have in mind keep getting held up as we careen from crisis to crisis. I hope to better articulate my thoughts around this moment next week, and thank you for your patience.
Last week, an employee at Gimlet, the podcast company Spotify bought in 2019, made a public plea to Daniel Ek for the company to match donations made by Spotify employees for up to $10 million. The tweet racked up thousands of retweets and likes and a follow-up tweet revealed that the company reversed its position to honor the wishes of its employees. I mentioned it above but this moment, more than anything, continues to reveal the extent to which employees within the music industry can hold the power to enact real change if they hold their employers accountable. I forget to mention that two companies Spotify owns, Gimlet and The Ringer, are both unionized.
A small note since I couldn’t find much additional reporting, but the music distributor Redeye Worldwide put out a statement in support of Black Lives Matter last week on its Instagram page. Allegedly, Redeye hasn’t been a great employer for said black people. The comments in the post list examples of racism and employee mistreatment from former employees of the company. Don Giovanni Records tweeted that they sent a list of demands to the distributor, otherwise they’d remove their catalog. I would certainly love to see more reporting on this, considering I cannot imagine Redeye was the only company last week to claim to care about black lives with little regard for its employees. Perhaps I’ll have more to say on that next week :)
6 Links 2 Read
The Global Music Industry Will Decline in 2020 - Midia Research
Not a shocking headline but worth just looking into how hard a hit live music is going to take in 2020 while streaming continues to chug along.
Layoffs are certain terrible to see, but considering over 110,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States, I cannot be shocked at the rescheduling of Coachella. Either way, after seeing how mutual aid groups are able to supply PPE, snacks, and water for folks going on these protests in New York City, I’ll expect the same level of preparedness of any music festival in 2021.
The only really interesting thing about this trend is that it took till right now for it to really take off. Certainly, Drake was helping pioneer this a few years back with his overly bloated albums but now that “Deluxe Edition” doesn’t mean anything but taking on additional b-sides, why not!
Returning to Normal? - The Next Recession
Michael Roberts’ continued assessment of this moment of crisis is that, unfortunately, we’re likely to be stuck in this gradual decline that is masked by rhetoric of a “reopened economy” and endless rising stock prices. If the world around continues to feel like it's falling apart while those in power tell you it’s great, trust your gut.
Is Len Blavatnik About to Complete the Shrewdest Deal in the History of the Record Business - Music Business Worldwide
Certainly, I can't find any positive value in knowing that Len Blavatnik is only going to become richer off of this deal...yet I appreciate Tim’s rather brief summary of other major record label purchases. Helpful to see that.
I’ve been out protesting in New York City for over a week and this so far is the best articulation of what was happening in the streets. Personally, I’d like to write out my own account of these protests...but let me first catch up on a bit of sleep.