A weekly column from City A.M. bringing you all the biggest stories and trends in technology, media and telecoms
** Media Moment of the Week: Sky History gets tattoo regret
** Can the live music sector survive this crisis?
** The tide turns against Google
Media Moment of the Week
This week we turn to Sky History for a masterclass in how not to launch a TV show. The channel has given its new carpentry extravaganza The Chop, erm, the chop, after viewers realised one of the contestants was sporting several neo-Nazi tattoos.
Not only did the incident cast doubts over the channel’s vetting process, it also raised questions over its social media strategy. Sky History initially claimed the tattoos had “no political or ideological meaning whatsoever”, before hastily deleting the tweet and pulling the show.
Live (music) or let die
Trying to identify the industry worst affected by the coronavirus crisis is an exercise as difficult as it is futile. That said, live music, which this week warned that 170,000 jobs could be lost by Christmas, may well have a claim to the unenviable title.
The sector, it’s fair to say, is in tatters. It was among the first to shut down in March and will likely be one of the last to reopen. With no end to the pandemic in sight, industry body LIVE expects revenue to plunge 80 per cent this year.
Rishi Sunak’s extension to the job support scheme, announced yesterday, will go some way to limiting the damage. But one industry insider described it as a “fairly small band aid” and warned that the live music sector will “never be the same again”.
The question now is whether live music — an industry worth £4.5bn to the UK economy — will even still be there when this is all over.
The focus in coverage of this crisis tends to be on recognisable venues, whether it’s the Royal Albert Hall, Ronnie Scott’s or just a local pub. Saving as many of these as possible is, of course, essential.
But the problem goes much deeper. Each gig creates a huge tail of employment that runs through booking agents, ticketing companies, riggers and catering companies, to name but a few. These parts of the live music world are suffering just as much but remain, on the whole, overlooked.
Add to that the issue of talent drain, as out-of-work staff are forced to retrain and the pipeline of new talent dries up, and the entire ecosystem is at risk of evaporating.
Existing support — including the government’s cultural recovery fund — has been vital and the industry itself is adapting, with a huge acceleration in live-streaming helping to keep gigs going.
Nor has demand for live music subsided. In fact, the appetite for gigs will perhaps be greater than ever when normality is finally restored. But without further support for the sector, there’s a real risk that punters will have nowhere to go.
It feels like the net is closing in on Big Tech. Authorities in the US and Brussels are gearing up for a fight over tax and regulation. Even Netflix is piling in (if you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma yet, you should). Now, Google has been hit with the biggest antitrust lawsuit in two decades.
The significance of the case, which accuses Google of a host of anti-competitive practices, can’t be overstated. If successful, it could spark the biggest reshaping of Silicon Valley since the monopoly case brought against Microsoft in 1998 — the same year Google was founded.
Google’s defence appears to rest on the idea that its services are so dominant simply because they are better, and consumers use them out of choice not necessity. It’s a disarmingly simple, but ultimately meretricious, argument. In reality, it’s a chicken and egg situation. Is Google the biggest because it’s the best, or vice versa? That’s what the judge has to decide.
The case will likely run for years, so there’s no point getting too excited just yet. But the lawsuit is another wave in the ever-mounting tide that is turning against tech. Even if Google survives this particular battle, it has a lot of work to do to win back trust.
The algorithm recommends:
- There’s a surprise new frontrunner in the race for the BBC top job. Here’s everything you need to know about him.
- Last week I wrote about the uncertain future for Netflix. Well, the figures are in and the streaming giant fell short of expectations. Winter is coming (or is that on Prime?)
Got a story? Drop me a line at email@example.com or on Twitter