The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 25 June 2019
Fire Damage - A number of prominent musicians are suing the world's largest record label, Universal Music, after learning their music may have been lost in a fire. The case, which seeks damages in excess of $100m (£78m), was filed by the estates of Tom Petty and Tupac Shakur, the bands Hole and Soundgarden, and singer-songwriter Steve Earle. They are seeking class action status, which means other affected artists will be able to join the legal action.
It is the first case to emerge since a New York Times investigation alleged that hundreds of thousands of master recordings, protection copies, unreleased music and other materials had burned in a massive warehouse fire in 2008.
Among the hundreds of artists said to have lost music were Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Sir Elton John, Janet Jackson, Nirvana, Eminem and Guns N' Roses.
The legal papers, filed by three law firms in Los Angeles, accuse Universal Music of negligence by housing the recordings in "a known fire trap", as well as concealing the extent of the destruction from artists.”
Last week, Universal Music's CEO Sir Lucian Grainge instructed his staff to co-operate fully with artists seeking information on the status of their recordings. "We owe our artists transparency. We owe them answers," he wrote, adding that "the loss of even a single piece of archived material is heart-breaking".
Under Scrutiny - The “murky world” of London theatre has come under scrutiny in the House of Lords, with peers raising concerns about accessibility and the rising cost of ticket prices in the West End. At a debate on London theatre, the government was called on to step in and impose regulations on the “excesses of the theatre world”.
Liberal Democrat peer Patrick Boyle started the debate, in which he asked the government what “assessment they have made of the operation of the theatre market in London” and what steps it had taken to “ensure theatre is accessible to as wide an audience as possible”. He used his speech to demand greater transparency from the theatre industry about where money from ticket sales went.
“It is getting more and more difficult for the average theatregoer to afford an evening in the West End,” Boyle said. “Once you start delving into the murky world of London theatre production you find yourself with a hundred different questions that are never satisfactorily answered.
“If you care about the international reputation of London theatre or you are concerned that too much of your precious ticket money is ending up in the hands of the wrong people, you will agree that is is the government’s job to step in and impose regulations on the excesses of the theatre world.”
Phantom News - A new tour of the original production of The Phantom of the Opera has been announced, beginning in Leicester next year. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has been running in the West End for 33 years, and will set out on a new tour of the UK and Ireland from February 2020. It will open at Curve on 24 February, before visiting Manchester Palace Theatre, the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin, Birmingham Hippodrome and Edinburgh Festival Theatre.
(Jim Evans)
25 June 2019

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