Music business

How Britain’s music industry reacted to the death of Queen Elizabeth II – Billboard

LONDON – In the early afternoon of September 8, just hours before the start of the Mercury Prize, one of the UK’s most prestigious music awards shows, Buckingham Palace made an alarming announcement: Queen Elizabeth II was under medical supervision at his Scottish estate of Balmoral, and doctors were “concerned” about the health of the 96-year-old monarch.

Within minutes, British trade body BPI, which manages the Mercury Prize, called an emergency meeting. Held at the Eventim Apollo in London, the ceremony was to be broadcast live on BBC TV and radio with doors opening at 6 p.m. Leg, Joy Crookes and Self love. Harry Styles was the only nominated act not to attend due to United States touring commitments.

Organizers decided to proceed as planned, but to monitor the events closely with a view to rescheduling them if the Queen’s condition deteriorates. They canceled a planned red carpet ahead of the ceremony and were told by BBC executives the network would record but no longer broadcast the event live, industry insiders said. Billboard.

Then, at 6.30pm, the dreaded announcement came from the palace: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had died, triggering a 10-day period of national mourning which culminates on Monday with the sovereign’s state funeral.

Hundreds of guests were already in the Eventim Apollo, and thousands more ticket holders started arriving. A message was relayed on the public address system of the place: in light of the sad news and out of respect for the royal family, the event would no longer take place. Guests and performers began to solemnly exit the building. A social media appeal by Self Esteem led to organizers donating food prepared for guests to feed the homeless.

Discussions are underway to reschedule the Mercury Prize show to later this year. In the week following the Queen’s passing, many other event planners, record company executives and record company employees also quickly rushed to change their plans to respond to unprecedented circumstances – ​the death of the only monarch the British have known for 70 years.

The Queen’s passing had the biggest effect on the UK music scene. Several concerts scheduled before or on the day of the Queen’s funeral are cancelled, despite the absence of official government directives. Canceled events include the annual BBC Radio 2 Live Festival, which was due to take place in Leeds from September 17-18, featuring Robbie Williams, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Tears for Fears, Kaiser Chiefs and George Ezra.

Other disrupted events include the one-day London Overflo festival, scheduled for September 18, which local authorities canceled as police vehicles and ambulances were no longer available as they were needed to support the Queen’s funeral. This weekend’s edition of the Boiler Room London dance music event, headlined by DJ EZwas postponed for the same reason.

Nigerian Afrobeats star Rema has canceled his upcoming UK ‘Rave and Roses’ tour, which was due to visit London’s O2 Brixton Academy on September 18, “in regard to the passing of the Queen”.

The BBC has also pulled the final two shows in its ‘Proms’ classical music concert series, scheduled for September 9 and 10 at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The cancellation of this Saturday’s ‘Last Night of the Proms’ event, which was to be broadcast live on BBC TV and radio, was the first time since World War II that the final concert had not not place.

A Philadelphia Orchestra concert taking place on the same day as the Queen died was canceled 30 minutes before it began. A September 19 concert by the violinist and conductor Maxim Vengerov at the Royal Albert Hall, of which the Queen was patron and which she visited regularly throughout her reign, has been postponed to a later date.

Labels delaying outings due to mourning period

Meanwhile, record labels have reviewed and revised their marketing plans in light of the UK in a time of national mourning. Sony Music Entertainment and the George Michael Estate have pushed back its multi-format reissue of the singer’s 1996 album Olderincluding a luxury box set, from September 16-30 as a “mark of respect” following “the loss of someone who was loved by so many”.

Queen Elizabeth II greets Jessie J and Robbie Williams backstage at the Diamond Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace in London, June 4, 2012.

Dave Thompson/AFP/GI

Major releases scheduled for September 9 included Robbie Williams XXV (Columbia Records), Ozzy Osbourne Patient number 9 (Epic) and John Legend LEGEND (Republic), as well as Lewis Capaldi’s comeback single “Forget Me” – the Scottish singer’s first new material in three years.

These versions all came out this Friday as planned as they had been uploaded to streaming platforms in advance, with some already live in several countries before the news of the Queen’s death was announced. A number of single releases have however been temporarily held back, including Anne-Marie’s song “Psycho” featuring rapper Aitch, released by Warner Music UK.

“Given the sad news regarding Her Majesty The Queen, we have made the decision to delay outings, where possible,” says Linda Walker, SVP, Commercial, UK and Europe for Warner Music. “Psycho” was then made available six days later on September 15.

For artists who released new music in the aftermath of the Queen’s death, they were met with an almost silent retail and entertainment market with nearly all UK promotional activity pulled as TV and radio programs radio would switch to news coverage or tributes to the monarch. BBC music radio stations, as well as commercial music networks, quickly adjusted playlists, reduced chat between songs and removed scheduled guests to reflect the somber national mood.

Capaldi’s scheduled appearances on BBC Radio 2’s ‘The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show’ and a scheduled interview with Legend on ‘Steve Wright in the Afternoon’, also on Radio 2, were among the high profile guest slots drawn (a BBC spokesman says they will be rearranged).

“In light of the situation,” Capaldi tweeted hours after the Queen’s death, “I don’t think this is the right time to overdo the promotion of my new single, but it’s still coming out at midnight wherever you be.

Robbie Williams was due to open the National Television Awards 2022, which will take place on September 15 at the OVO Arena, Wembley and will be broadcast live at prime time on the ITV television channel. The ceremony has been postponed to October 13.

Streaming platforms and UK branches of the three major labels – Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment – ​​suspended active marketing over the weekend and will do the same on the day of the state funeral, which has been designated a public holiday in the United Kingdom.

Sony and Warner closed their London offices on September 9 and will close them again on Monday (Universal Music UK will also close its London office on the day of the funeral). Label executives are continuing to review their UK release schedules for the rest of September to see if any further changes need to be made, sources say. Billboard. All three labels have suspended their corporate social media feeds in the UK since the Queen’s death and will not resume posting until Tuesday at the earliest.

With Monday now a holiday, music retailers will lose a trading day, further impacting first-week artist sales. Big UK releases on Friday include Swedenit is Autofiction and Marcus Mumford’s first solo album (self-titled). Two acoustic shows by Mumford at the Serpentine Pavilion in London on release day were canceled due to the closure of The Royal Parks venue. Suede postponed in-store performances in Liverpool and Manchester on Monday for later in the week.

For music suppliers and distributors, the short notice of the holiday shouldn’t disrupt retailers or release plans, says Drew HillManaging Director of Proper Music Group, the UK’s largest independent physical music distributor.

“We will be closed on Monday, which means operational changes and forces us to reduce more work in fewer days on either side,” Hill said. “But it seems absolutely the right thing to do as a mark of respect for Her Majesty.”