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Client Update - 31st May 2024

The former US President Donald Trump has been convicted on all counts against him in his “hush money” trial, even as he claimed the case was rigged and that “Mother Teresa herself could not beat the charges.” He does not appear to have lost his love of a one liner. Trump is expected to appeal his conviction, and this will likely push any sentencing to after the November election. He will still be in contention for a second shot at the Presidency, however it remains to be seen how this verdict will influence the voters, who up until now had given Trump a lead in the polls.

Back on this side of the Atlantic, electioneering is in full flow as well, with this week’s news focussing on Diane Abbot and whether she should be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate. The Labour deputy leader Angela Raynor has already challenged Sir Kier Starmer’s authority by saying that she didn’t see any reason why Dianne Abbot shouldn’t stand. So much for inter party solidarity. This internal tiff is not the way that Starmer would have wanted his campaign to have started.

Away from politics, which I expect you have already started to get a little tired of, this week I thought we would focus on the continued revolution in the music market. Only a very small portion of our younger generation still rush to HMV with their saved-up pocket money to buy their favourite artist's new album. While music has always been a vital part of our lives, the ways in which we find new artists, listen to their music, and attend their performances have and continue to undergo remarkable transformations.

Over the past seven years, the social media app TikTok has revolutionised how the younger generation consumes content and discovers new music. According to data, 67% of TikTok users explore songs on streaming platforms like Apple Music or Spotify after encountering them on the app first. This is making TikTok a significant force in the music industry, with trends on the app propelling songs up the charts. While this has been beneficial for emerging artists who use the platform to gain global recognition quickly, it has also led to an increase in the number of one-hit wonders, with data from 2020 indicating that 70% of artists who made it into the top 40 did not have a second entry.

With focus on short 15-30 second videos, artists are now tailoring their music to make a lasting impact within this brief window. While in the past, fans would listen to entire albums, appreciating the lyrical cohesion and depth, today, artists aiming to 'go viral' (i.e., achieving millions of views) focus on crafting catchy lyrics or beats without a bridge, which can make the full song feel somewhat repetitive when listened to in its entirety.

TikTok has also breathed new life into classic songs often released more than 20 years ago (before many TikTok users were even born). Business Insider found that in 2021 alone, tracks like Edison Lighthouse's 1970 hit "Love Grows" and Peggy Lee's 1967 classic "Big Spender" dominated the charts for weeks after going viral on the social media platform. This phenomenon, coupled with the surge in young vinyl collectors drawn mainly to 70s and 80s icons like Fleetwood Mac and Queen, has created a gold rush for music legends. Facing retirement and eager to secure their legacies, artists like Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, and Bruce Springsteen have reportedly cashed in, selling their song catalogues for hundreds of millions of dollars.

While the rise of TikTok producing more one hit wonders and the increased interest in classic music trends may fragment fanbases for active artists, the desire for live experiences remains strong, fuelling innovative ideas. A prime example is the ground-breaking ABBA Voyage concert, launched by Pophouse Entertainment, a Swedish investment firm co-founded by ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus.

The show features virtual avatars (dubbed 'ABBAtars') depicting the group as they appeared in 1979, using pre-recorded vocals. Since its London debut in July 2022, it has been a massive success, grossing over $1 million weekly. The concert is showing no signs of stopping with representatives recently hinting at a potential tour. A notion further bolstered by the recent 2024 Eurovision Song Contest in which, the ABBAtars returned to Sweden, 50 years after winning the contest in 1974 to perform their much-loved hit "Waterloo" and proving the virtual magic can travel.

Fuelled by ABBA's avatar success, Rock and Roll legends KISS are jumping on the virtual bandwagon. Having recently sold their music catalogue, name, image, and likeness (including their iconic makeup designs) to Pophouse Entertainment, KISS is set to join the avatar revolution, meaning they can stay "on the road" even in retirement.

It has been suggested that this technology is likely to expand soon, offering super-realistic digital renditions of artists like The Beatles and Elvis Presley. This innovation will allow fans, both those who experienced these bands in person and younger fans who discovered their music on platforms like TikTok, the opportunity to experience music legends long after they can no longer tour. As KISS member Gene Simmons described it, this technology enables artists to remain "forever young and forever iconic". What Donald Trump would give for a bit of that.

Do have a good weekend.

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