A music venue is to ditch the “toxic” name it shares with a 17th Century slave trader.
Colston Hall bosses had previously maintained that the Bristol attraction was named after the street it is on, rather than Edward Colston.
Much of the Bristol-born MP and merchant’s wealth came from the slave trade.
The change, which will not come into effect until 2020, follows a campaign to urge Colston Hall to alter its name.
Ready for ‘backlash’
Louise Mitchell, chief executive of the Bristol Music Trust charity that runs Colston Hall, said it was the “right thing to do” for artists, the public and the “diverse workforce” at the venue, which recently announced plans for a refurbishment costing nearly £50m.
She said: “The name Colston does not reflect the trust’s values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation.
“We want to look to the future and ensure the whole city is proud of its transformed concert hall and so when we open the new hall, it will be with a new name.”
She acknowledged there would be a “backlash” over the change, but admitted the trust had “needed to resolve” the issue ahead of talks with potential sponsors.
“Effectively, I’ve been selling a toxic brand up to now,” she said.
“We need to move forward on this. It’s not actually about commerce, it’s about doing the right thing.”
Over the years, some of the world’s biggest music stars have performed at Colston Hall, including The Beatles, David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Bob Dylan.
The legendary Bristol band Massive Attack have always refused to play at Colston Hall, and the city’s mayor Marvin Rees has said he is “not a fan” of the name. A petition launched in February calling for a change gathered more than 2,000 signatories.
Edward Colston (1636-1721)
Colston was born into a prosperous Bristol merchant’s family and, although he lived in London for many years, was always closely associated with the city
By 1672, he had his own business in the capital trading in slaves, cloth, wine and sugar. A significant proportion of Colston’s wealth came directly or indirectly from the slave trade
In 1680, he became an official of the Royal African Company, which at the time held the monopoly in Britain on slave trading
He donated to churches and hospitals in Bristol, also founding two almshouses and a school
Colston also lent money to the Bristol corporation and was a city MP for a short time
The bronze statue commemorating Colston in the city of his birth has an inscription on it which reads: “Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city”. There is no mention of his role in the slave trade
Source: BBC History/Nigel Pocock
However, the majority of those who have taken to BBC Radio Bristol’s Facebook page to express their opinions have not welcomed the move.
Chris Goldsworthy said it was “political correctness gone mad”, while Nick Davies said it was a mistake as the “past should not be airbrushed out”.
Kate Gillam said “changing the name won’t change what happened. It’s part of our heritage”.
The music venue is not the only place in Bristol with links to Colston that has come under fire. Bristol Cathedral is reportedly considering removing a large stained-glass window dedicated to the merchant, following criticism from anti-racism campaigners.
As usual, there will be a number of special screenings out of competition. This year, Barack Obama and Donald Trump will be seen in a An Inconvenient Sequel, Al Gore’s follow-up to his 2006 climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
Has Zoe Saldana let slip that the title of the fourth Avengers film is Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet?
Speaking at the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 premiere, the actress, who plays Gamora, talked about the involvement of Guardians stars in the Avengers films.
Asked about the third Avengers film on Monday, she said: “I think the Guardians just shot their part when it comes to Infinity War.
“And we all have to go back for Gauntlet later this year.”
But later on Tuesday, James Gunn, writer and director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, denied Saldana had given the game away.
According to Yahoo Movies journalist Tom Butler, Gunn said Gauntlet was not the title.
The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy are all part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So far they have appeared in separate films, but will join forces in the next two Avengers films. Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel, which we which now know could well be called Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet or perhaps just plain Avengers: Gauntlet.
Until today, we thought Drake’s Views was the best-selling album of 2016, but new music industry figures suggest otherwise.
According to the IFPI’s annual report, both Beyonce’s Lemonade and Adele’s 25 shifted more copies worldwide.
Beyonce topped the chart with 2.4 million sales, while Drake came third, having sold 2.1 million units.
The figures only include CDs, vinyl and downloads – which may explain Drake’s sudden change in fortunes.
Once streaming is counted, he emerges as the most popular artist of 2016; with his inescapable single One Dance the year’s most popular song.
Best-selling albums of 2016 (source: IFPI)
Title and artist
1) Lemonade – Beyonce
2) 25 – Adele
3) Views – Drake
4) Hardwired… To Self-Destruct – Metallica
5) Blackstar – David Bowie
6) Blue & Lonesome – The Rolling Stones
7) 24k Magic – Bruno Mars
8) Blurryface – Twenty One Pilots
9) A Head Full of Dreams – Coldplay
10) A Pentatonix Christmas – Pentatonix
The explosion in streaming services also helped the music industry grow in value for the second year in a row, with revenue up by 5.9% to $15.7bn (£12.35bn).
That’s the fastest rate of growth since the IFPI began tracking the market in 1997; and comes after 15 years of downturn, during which time the music industry lost nearly 40% of its revenue.
“We are no longer running up a down escalator,” observed Warner Music CEO Stu Bergen.
Subscription streaming services are largely responsible for the turnaround. Revenue from Spotify, Apple Music and their competitors rose by 60% last year.
By contrast, earnings from CDs and vinyl fell by 7.6%; while the value of downloads – once seen as the saviour of the industry – plummeted by 20.5%.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) launched their annual report at a low-key reception in London on Tuesday morning, soundtracked by a lounge pianist covering John Legend’s All of Me and Coldplay’s Trouble.
All three of the major record labels – Universal, Sony and Warner Music – attended the event; giving their perspective on the figures.
Here are some of the other headlines and revelations from the launch.
More than 110 million people now pay to stream music
By the end of 2016, the number of people subscribing to a subscription service reached 97 million worldwide. With many of the users choosing a “family plan”, where several members of the same household have access to the full catalogue of music, the IFPI estimates that 112 million people use a service like Deezer, Spotify, Tidal or Apple Music.
However, the industry is wary of being complacent. “To raise the mission accomplished banner would be the worst mistake we could make,” said Universal Music’s Michael Nash.
“We’ve got to continue to convince consumers that [music] is still worth paying for, if we’re ultimately going to achieve sustainable growth,” added Dennis Kooker, president of digital services at Sony.
In some countries, people still love CDs
Streaming might dominate the market in the UK and US – but three of the world’s six biggest music markets, Germany, France and Japan, still prefer CDs.
“In this environment, breaking an artist and building a global fanbase isn’t easy,” noted Warner Music’s Stu Bergen. “If you’re going to be successful, you can’t focus on a single format. It takes time, money and people.”
The only thing that’s certain is uncertainty
For the last 15 years, the music industry has been in a constant state of panic – Napster gutted the music market, then downloads began to overtake CD sales, before themselves being replaced by streaming.
“The music industry has received a significant amount of what I would call ‘reality therapy’,” said Michael Nash, head of digital strategy for Universal. “That’s where you wake up and you realise, ‘my old business has gone, I’ve got to get into a new business.'”
However, her added, “very few sectors of the economy have ever recovered from a 40% decline in revenue.”
They hope to build on that turnaround by embracing change, and seeking “new business models to cannibalise old business models”.
Speaking of which…
Voice-controlled speakers could be the next big thing
“One of the really exciting changes is around voice activation on smart speakers like Amazon Echo,” said Mr Nash.
“You find that when you interact directly with your music service, and you have the ability to ask for any song, at any point at time, it alters how you engage with music and how you think about your music preferences.
“It’ll be interesting to see how music changes from being a smartphone-driven experience, to a more communal experience in the home – where you have multiple family members requesting songs, or taking turns being DJ”.
The prospect of integrating voice-activated music services into cars was also “hugely exciting” he said.
The music industry still isn’t happy with YouTube
YouTube said it paid the music industry $1bn (£794m) in royalties last year – but record companies claim it’s not enough.
They reckon Spotify’s 50 million subscribers each contributed $20 per year to the industry’s bank accounts. YouTube, which has more than a billion users, allegedly paid less than a dollar per person.
“We need to fix that,” said IFPI chief Frances Moore. “It’s a massive mismatch”.
The industry has long complained that YouTube and other similar services are slow to police illegal and pirated material uploaded by their users (a claim which YouTube disputes).
In Japan, Ed Sheeran’s new album was marketed by celebrity cats
Even Ed Sheeran can’t be everywhere all the time, so his Japanese record label had to get inventive when it came to promoting his new album.
While the star performed at the Grammys and the Brits for fans in the West, Japanese audiences were treated to videos of “celebrity cats dancing to Shape of You”.
Both approaches seem to have worked – with the album shifting in huge numbers around the world.
Interestingly, despite the music industry’s beef with YouTube, every track on Sheeran’s album, Divide, was uploaded to the video service on the day of release. Stu Bergen said it was a sign of “acceptance that the music will be there whether we put it up or not”, but vowed to continue the fight for fair royalties.
The era of streaming exclusives is basically over
Last year, R&B star Frank Ocean dramatically ended his four-year sabbatical with two back-to-back releases: Endless, a video stream released as the final album under his contract with Universal music; and the 17-track opus Blond, released as an Apple exclusive a day later on Ocean’s own label, Boys Don’t Cry, without Universal’s involvement or knowledge.
Universal chairman Lucian Grainge swiftly emailed the heads of his record labels, outlawing streaming exclusives. Although it’s difficult to establish whether the two events were linked, one thing is certain: Grainge had concluded that streaming exclusives were bad for fans, and bad for the business.
“There were a lot of things that went into our termination,” said Michael Nash, the label’s head of digital strategy. “We had passed a point in time where it made sense to… work on a level of exclusivity with individual platforms.
“Our general position is that our artists and our labels want to have the broadest possible audience for our music.”
Dennis Kooker, president of digital at Sony Music, said exclusives would still be considered for future releases, but it was a “balancing act”; while Universal stressed that they’d generally avoided giving exclusives to one service over another: “It’s not something we engaged extensively in.”
Children of the 1980s, rejoice – the original Bananarama line-up is back together at last. Which got us thinking – lots of 80s bands have reformed over recent years but which ones are we still wishing would reunite?
1. Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Liverpool band Frankie Goes to Hollywood, fronted by Holly Johnson, are still best remembered for their debut single Relax, which was famously banned by the BBC in 1984 due to its sexual lyrics but topped the UK singles chart for five consecutive weeks.
The band went on to become only the second act in the history of the UK charts (after Gerry and the Pacemakers) to reach number one with their first three singles when Two Tribes and The Power of Love also hit the top spot.
But their glory was short-lived. Their second album, Liverpool, released in 1986, failed to live up to expectations and a backstage bust-up between Johnson and bassist Mark O’Toole at their final gig at Wembley Arena sounded the death knell.
While various reincarnations of the band have since reformed, we’re still waiting for the original line-up to hit us “with those laser beams.”
2. The Smiths
Never gonna happen. Yes, we know. But just imagine! Johnny Marr and Steven Morrissey formed the band in 1982 with bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mick Joyce.
They went on to release 17 albums and four studio albums, becoming one of the most influential bands of the 1980s.
Hits included This Charming Man, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, How Soon is Now?, Big Mouth Strikes Again, Panic and Girlfriend in a Coma.
But the dream combo of Marr’s melodies and Morrissey’s musings was broken with the band’s acrimonious split in 1987.
In Marr’s autobiography Set The Boy Free, he revealed that the official version of him walking out on the band wasn’t the full story.
The tipping point, says Marr, was when Morrissey didn’t turn up for the video shoot of the single Shoplifters Of The World Unite, and ordered him to sack their latest manager.
Whatever the truth, Marr also wrote that he and Morrissey discussed the possibility of a reunion back in 2008. We’re still waiting.
3. Curiosity Killed the Cat
Ring a bell? We’ve been wondering whatever happened to the beautiful beret-wearing Ben with the exotic-sounding surname Volpeliere-Pierrot (although Smash Hits preferred to call him Ben Vol-au-vent Parrot), not to mention Julian, Nick and Migi.
The band enjoyed 80s success with soulful pop hits including Down to Earth, Ordinary Day, Name and Number and Misfit.
They split after a last hurrah with a cover of Johnny Bristol’s Hang On In There Baby in 1992. While Ben has joined some 80s tours singing solo the band have never reunited as a four-piece.
It’s 20 years this year since Misfit and Ordinary Day entered the charts, so perhaps now would be a good time to hit the road again?
But what about his later band, Style Council, which he formed with Mick Talbot, formerly of The Merton Parkas and Dexy’s Midnight Runners?
The Style Council had hits such as Walls Come Tumbling Down!, Shout to the Top, You’re the Best Thing and Long, Hot Summer.
The band broke up in 1989. Weller has since said they didn’t get the credit they deserved.
“I thought we were quite misunderstood and misrepresented. Yet, at the end of the day, we made some good records and I wrote some good songs around that time, songs I still stand by, and I think that will last as well.”
5. The Housemartins
Formed in Hull in the 1980s, The Housemartins line-up changed frequently over the years but most of us will remember its most famous members, Paul Heaton and Norman Cook AKA Fatboy Slim.
Caravan of Love and Happy Hour were probably their best known hits and Heaton and Cook went on to further success with The Beautiful South and Beats International/Fatboy Slim.
In 2009, Mojo magazine got The Housemartins’ original members together for a photo-shoot and interview but they said they would not be reforming.
So it looks like we won’t be hearing from “the fourth best band in Hull” – as The Housemartins often described themselves – anytime soon.
6. Bronski Beat/The Communards
While Bronski Beat continued following the departure of vocalist Jimmy Somerville in 1985, they are still best, remembered for the hits they had with him at the helm, including Why?, Smalltown Boy and It Ain’t Necessarily So.
Somerville, of course, went on to form The Communards with Richard Coles, who is now a Church of England priest and Radio 4 presenter.
But will we see either of these bands back together?
Larry Steinbachek, former keyboardist with Bronski Beat, sadly died at the age of 56 in January.
The two are back in touch now but with Coles’ commitments to the Church, a reunion seems unlikely.
7. The Thompson Twins
Yep, it’s our wildcard entry – the band that was named after the two bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson in The Adventures of Tintin.
The band had various line-up changes over the years but they were best known as the mid-80s trio consisting of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway.
Their hits included Hold Me Now, Doctor! Doctor! and You Take Me Up but Leeway left the band in 1986 and Bailey and Currie could never replicate their earlier success (although they did have a dance hit in 1991 called Come Inside).
The pair had two children together and moved to New Zealand. While they did briefly reunite with Leeway on a Channel 4 show in 2001, they have so far resisted the urge to go down the nostalgia road and reform.