Music theorist and bass player Adam Neely went on a tour with his jazz band and played - improvised sets. They didn't play any structured songs, it was band practice every night of the tour. People seemed to appreciate it. Neely recorded it, of course.

Carl Palmer, the only living member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer will reunite the trio, possibly late next year using previously unseen footage of the band at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1992, Rolling Stone reports. Palmer is planning to drum live alongside those unearthed split-screen clips of Emerson and Lake. “It will look authentic, it will look real, and it will be in sync. And it’ll be something better than a hologram” - Palmer insists.

An interesting chat in The New Cue with the hit-balladeer James Blunt who talks about his life in pandemic: "I've been on the road for 17 years and I was forced to go home. I discovered all kinds of things. I discovered I had children, I didn't know that… Where the hell did these come from?!?". On life post-pandemic: "I suppose people are just excited to be out and able to socialise with each other. And then I've been playing live shows and that's been amazing too because again, people are thrilled that there’s any live music. I can play them Baa Baa Black Sheep and they’d still probably turn up. They might be expecting some other singer, but they'll take what they can get".

Steve Strange, widely respected live agent and co-founder of X-ray Touring, has died aged 53 after a short illness, Music Business Worldwide reports. A statement from X-ray reads: “His overwhelming love of music lead to a 30 year plus career guiding the touring of an eclectic mix of artists from all genres of music that he adored". Strange’s artist roster down the years has included Eminem, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Queens of the Stone Age, The Charlatans, Jimmy Eat World and many more. Emma Banks of CAA wrote on social media: “Steve Strange – a truly good and loving person without a bad bone in his body. The life and soul of every occasion, a music man to the core and dedicated to his clients, friends and family".

(No) country for (un)vaccinated
August 16, 2021

Essay: Covid caused a rift in country music

“We can’t afford to sit out shows, we have to vaccinate and mask up or everything we’ve worked our entire lives for will be gone. And it’s so upsetting to work so long on a craft and lose opportunities left and right, because people would rather believe vaccine conspiracy theories than at least try these precautions out” - Austin songwriter Cari Hutson says to Guardian about the need to vaccinate. The London paper is exploring differences within country music community about vaccinating - "exposing an age-old political divide".

Much more greener grass across the pond
August 05, 2021

U.K. musicians allowed to tour in 19 EU member states

The U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced that it has negotiated short-term tours for UK musicians and performers without visas and work permits in 19 EU member states, NME reports. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden. Trade bodies and unions representing British musicians say this changes nothing, insist "short term" is undefined, adding that there is still the issue of equipment transportation, Guardian reports. Formal approaches via officials and DCMS Ministers have been made to Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta and Cyprus. The U.K. allows touring performers and support staff to come to the U.K. for up to three months without a visa.

"Many acts are looking a year or more ahead as they lock in itineraries for long-delayed road trips to support albums released even before the pandemic" - Pitchfork writes announcing touring-boom in the US. "Gigs in large cities are the primary goal for most national and international artists, but as open dates quickly fill up, markets [in smaller]towns within easy reach of big cities stand to play a key role in keeping tours on track".

Gig is elsewhere
June 24, 2021

Numerous tours announced

In just the last 72 hours alone, a bevy of major US tours has been announced. Consequence (has a dedicated live music subsite) picks out a few of the biggest ones:

- Elton John has announced the final leg of his farewell tour
- Lorde has announced the first tour dates behind her new album 'Solar Power'
- J Cole has mapped out a tour in support of his latest album 'The Off-Season' - GZA, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah are teaming up for the 'Chambers 3 Tour'
- Violent Femmes and Flogging Molly are teaming up for a co-headlining US tour

"[I was on the road] two months at a time or more. And that was wearing on my marriage and my life. Now you listen what you want to on the radio, and if you feel like pulling over and taking a nap, you pull over and take a nap" - 53-year-old bus driver John Rogan tells in a Billboard piece about the lack of drivers the live music industry is about to face. Apart from the fact that some drivers have found a more comfortable lifestyle in trucking. there's another reason for drivers' departures from the industry: Most tours are requiring vaccines for their entire crews, and plenty of them refuse to get the shots. That's not all - driving frozen food pays almost double the amount drivers get while driving hot music stars.

The live music industry in the UK is facing massive staff shortages as gigs begin to return - industry bodies have written to the UK prime minister Boris Johnson calling for the government to help fill vacant roles, NME reports. They suggest the government "temporarily ease immigration requirements for the large numbers of workers, particularly from the EU, who have returned to their homelands during the lockdowns". A study in 2020 by the UK’s Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence estimated that 1.3 million migrants left the UK between July 2019 and September 2020.

"We know all the economics in the touring business are at 85% of ticket sales. So it's a crapshoot, and you cannot buy insurance against it. So many artists are just wishing for this to end, they need to pay themselves and their crews" - music mogul Irving Azoff says in Hits Daily Double interview. He's not really completely optimistic, but he's hopeful: "We're all in the business of gambling. So if I had to handicap it, I feel 75-25 that we're on the road to prosperity. And when it is 100% open, I think we're going to see unprecedented demand. Oh my God, I can't even imagine what it's going to be like at some of these early first sold-out shows—people are going to go nuts".


An informative yet fun documentary 'Why Am I Doing This? (A Film ABout Touring)', about underground bands playing small clubs. Steve Albini and members of Bottomless Pit, Helms Alee, Wimps, the Bismarck, Nudity, Conan Neutron, Sun 0))), and Melvins talk about what really is there on tour, beyond the 1-hour pleasure they do get every day.

How about an e-bike tour?
April 30, 2021

Can the recovery from Covid-19 be green?

"If the music industry can get its own house in order, maybe it can set the tone for a journey out of the climate crisis" - Guardian argues in an article about the possible transition of the music industry - everything from recorded to live music - from carbon-exhausting to green, and in doing so, set an example for the society as a whole. Some have already started - British independent label Ninja Tune is divesting its funds and pensions from fossil fuels, it is installing renewable energy systems in its London headquarters and it is encouraging the pressing plants that supply its vinyl to switch to green energy. Brian Eno's Earth Percent is aiming to raise $100m (£72m) by 2030 from the industry itself to transition towards sustainability. Beggars Group also announced major new carbon reduction commitments. The dance music scene is taking steps too - Last Night a DJ Took a Flight report argued that tours could be routed more efficiently, local scenes and artists could be better nurtured to reduce the pull of foreign superstars, and exclusivity clauses (where artists can’t play more than one show locally) could be challenged.

Adam Met from the pop trio AJR wrote an outline for eco-friendly touring, including the ways in which everyone - artists, agents, promoters, venues, fans - can participate in technological, agricultural, and psychological solutions. For agents it would mean connecting flydates in ways that permit less travel, encouraging less private plane usage, and choosing the most direct bus routes. Venues could transition to electricity from renewable sources, standardize the requirements for food and drink vendors to use local farms and move away from single-use plastics...

Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl directed a new movie about touring vans and life on the road called 'What Drives Us', featuring interviews with Lars Ulrich, Slash, the Edge, Flea, Steven Tyler, St. Vincent, and many others. “This film is my love letter to every musician that has ever jumped in an old van with their friends and left it all behind for the simple reward of playing music” - Grohl said.

UK artists are already turning down shows and tours in parts of Europe for later this year and early next, as they have become unviable due to increased cost and bureaucracy - CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition David Martin told NME about post-Brexit tours of British acts in the EU. John Robb of Goldblade and The Membranes says now it's "just chaos in a vacuum. If we knew what we were working with then we could either pay, work a way round it or just choose not to go. At the moment, we have no idea what the options will be”. Things might be moving in the right direction, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament that music "is a massively important part of the economy" adding "we must fix it", the "it" being current system of touring rules, NME reports.

Massive Attack‘s Robert Del Naja said he was “pretty livid” over the live music industry not meeting pledges to reduce its carbon footprint, Sky News reports. 3D highlighted Coldplay’s decision to stop touring until they could make it “environmentally friendly as possible”, adding, however, that “one band not touring doesn’t change a thing”. Del Naja also highlighted the possible “different solutions” for transportation like trains and buses. “Now is the time for action, no more pledges” - he told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of its ongoing investigation into the future of UK music festivals.

Same town, different city
February 17, 2021

Todd Rundgren playing 25 different live-streams for 25 cities

American singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren has embarked on a virtual tour of 25 American cities which is broadcast from the same Chicago stage, but geo-targeted to different regional markets, Variety reports. Shows come with visual cues saluting the would-be host towns and multiple shout-outs to the virtually targeted city. The focus is on making each show a unique event, with a virtual perimeter that will restrict viewing of a particular show to audience members who live there. Prior to shows, there’s the sound of murmuring people looking for their seats, and for every city on the video wall behind the band there'll be a picture of the actual proscenium stage. This virtual tour runs February through March. Tickets go for $35.

The island is floating farther away
February 15, 2021

Visa costs for UK musician to play in Spain - £600

British pianist Joseph Middleton describes the hassle he would have to go through to play a recital in Spain: "Even though I would only spend 24 hours there, my agent would be required to work on a raft of extra paperwork, my accountant to furnish me with documents giving proof of income, and my bank would need to provide me with recent certified bank statements (no pesky home printouts here, thank you). My passport would need to be submitted to the Spanish embassy and held there until the visa was processed, causing problems for when I had to travel for other work". And it's an expensive hassle as well - £600 just for visa costs.

Over 280,000 people signed a petition calling for visa-free touring for UK bands through the EU. The campaign was also debated in the parliament, but it all ended in the UK government essentially ignoring the idea and doubling down on the EU being at fault, NME reports. The Conservative Minister for Culture Caroline Dineage did not suggest that negotiating visa-free touring was an option and repeated that “the UK pushed for ambitious arrangements” but that “quite simply the EU rejected this and there was no counter offer”.

"Like Hamburg to the Beatles, Europe was crucial to our growth as a band. It allowed us to see ourselves untethered from our UK roots and to imagine a life in music that could reach audiences everywhere" - Radiohead's Colin Greenwood wrote in Guardian about the big bureaucratic wall now erected between the UK and the EU. Elton John, also in Guardian, is worried about young bands: "I don’t want to live in a world where the only artists who can afford to tour properly are those who have been going for decades and have already sold millions of records".

Brexit means isolation
January 26, 2021

What does Brexit mean for UK and EU touring artists?

DJ Mag breaks down what the current rules post-Brexit mean for the UK-based artists touring in the EU, the EU-based artists touring in the UK, as well as for the roadies and tour-bus owners. There are also changes affecting event promoters.

This country is an island!
January 20, 2021

British musicians: The government has shamefully failed us

Benedetti / Gallagher

"British musicians, dancers, actors and their support staff have been shamefully failed by their government" - the letter signed by over 100 UK musicians sent to their government said, after the official London confirmed it had turned down an EU offer that would have enabled frictionless touring. Sir Elton John, Liam Gallagher, Sir Simon Rattle, Sting, Brian May, Radiohead, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Roger Daltrey, Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis. and Nicola Benedetti are among 110 artists who have signed the open letter. Everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits for many countries they visit and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment, Sky reports.

Porridge Radio / Queen

Emerging artists are facing “massive competition” from classic acts such as Queen and the Beatles on streaming services - the UK MPs from Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee inquiry into the economics of music streaming have been told. Peter Leathem, the CEO of music copyright collective PPL, said that musicians at the start of their careers have “got the last 50 years of the music industry to compete with” on digital platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, BBC reports.

It was the UK government's choice to end visa-free touring for musicians in the EU, officials in Brussels told the BBC. The EU says that it was London who "refused" a plan that would have let musicians tour without visas. "From last March, we made fairly ambitious proposals in terms of mobility, including for specific categories such as journalists, performers, musicians and others" - the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said, but the UK didn't agree on it. Since Brexit, British musicians and crews may need extra work permits to play in certain European countries such as Germany and Spain.

The channel is mora of a gap
January 13, 2021

UK culture secretary: EU turned down a tailored deal for musicians

“We sought a mutually beneficial agreement that would have allowed performers to continue working and perform across the continent without the need for work permits" - the UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden told NME about Brexit negotiations with the EU regarding work permits for musicians. However, Dowden claims "musicians, artists, entertainers and support staff would have been captured through the list of permitted activities for short-term business visitors. This was a straightforward solution for our creative industries which would have benefited all sides. But the EU turned it down, repeatedly. It did not propose and wouldn’t accept a tailored deal for musicians and artists". The Independent got unofficial information from the EU side that it was the UK who didn't agree to a special agreement for musicians.

"Isolation comes from 'insula' which means island..."
January 11, 2021

EU offered visa-free tours, UK refused

The EU offered the UK visa-free tours by British musicians to EU countries, but the UK government refused it, the liberal London paper Independent reports. A “standard” proposal to exempt performers from the huge cost and bureaucracy for 90 days was turned down, because the government is insisting on denying that to EU artists visiting this country.

I love you but I've chosen Brexit
January 07, 2021

European tours of British artists at high risk

Black Midi not going to cross the Channel anytime soon

Under the Brexit deal, British musicians planning to play in Europe will now have to secure work permits for each individual country on a tour and face further red tape when it comes to transporting equipment and crew - Guardian reports about worries of industry figures and artists after the UK has finally divorced from the EU. Work permits were going to be a particular problem when touring with larger classical groups since there could be dozens of musicians needing to get a work permit. UK artists have already been calling for the government to possibly renegotiate a free culture work permit for UK performers in the EU.

The UK government has announced that it had tried to secure better conditions for UK touring musicians during the Brexit negotiations, but the EU rejected its proposals, BBC reports. From 1 January, free movement of people between the UK and the EU will end, which means that touring musicians and their technical crews will face new rules, and could be subject to additional visa costs and paperwork. UK nationals will need a visa for stays of longer than 90 days in a 180-day period, and there will be restrictions on their activities. Spain, Italy and Denmark will require additional work permits.

“The gigging lifestyle - where musicians are freelancing from one independent job to another - I don’t know if that’s going to be around in New York after this. You’ll probably see some 'Mad Max' scenario where the young guys claw their way to survival” - Spike Wilner, the owner of two New York jazz clubs Mezzrow and Smalls, says in a Curbed interview. “Every jazz club that presents music is part of a chain, like a food chain, supplying life force to this community”, Wilner said, adding - “when the environment dries up, less and less animals are allowed to live”.

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