Thursday 9 February 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 9/2/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Sound and fury

It might not have been the most significant part of Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech earlier this week but his comments about ticketing practices are making plenty of noise in the music industry. The US president’s proposal to regulate “junk fees”, the additional administrative costs that websites apply to ticket sales, will resonate with voters, many of whom are Taylor Swift fans (we all know that there are plenty of them).

It’s not the first time that this issue has made the journey from the box office to Washington. Last month a Senate hearing tackled the problem, taking specific aim at Ticketmaster, which has a quasi-monopoly in the US. Senators argue that more competition would raise the service’s quality, avoiding snafus such as the platform’s chaotic handling of Swift’s ticket sales last November. Music producer Jack Antonoff, a frequent collaborator of the popstar, has said that such services should allow artists to opt out of a system designed to inflate prices.

Of course, musicians need to stand up to such practices en masse for this strategy to work. The unwillingness of Bruce Springsteen (pictured) to abandon the costly ticketing model (and the use of so-called dynamic pricing) for his 2023 tour was so poorly received by fans that long-running fanzine Backstreets announced earlier this week that it would cease operations in protest. Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, has declared that an average cost “in the mid-$200 [about €230] range” is “a fair price to see someone universally regarded as among the very greatest artists of his generation”.

It’s a difficult balance to strike. For many artists who make pennies from streaming plays, charging for live performances is one of the few ways of making a living. Ensuring that ticketing platforms don’t put off their audiences is fundamental to their career, so singers up and down the charts should make their point loud and clear.

Chiara Rimella is Monocle’s executive editor.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / Ukraine & UK

Drumbeat of war

“Thank you, Britain,” Volodymyr Zelensky said to lawmakers in parliament on a visit to London yesterday. In his second trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the president met the UK’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak (pictured, on right, with Zelensky), before an audience with King Charles III and a visit to Ukrainian soldiers being trained to use Challenger battle tanks. Zelensky expressed his gratitude to Britain for its support “since the first seconds and minutes of the full-scale war” and renewed his request for combat aircraft – or, as he put it, “wings for freedom”.

The trip sends a clear message: the UK is one of Ukraine’s most loyal backers, with parliamentary support unanimous across party divides. “Britain hasn’t been the largest supplier of equipment but it is always one of the first,” Russia analyst Stephen Dalziel told The Briefing on Monocle 24. “I believe that it won’t be very long before we see Western aircraft being sent to Ukraine.”

To hear more about Zelensky’s trip and the war in Ukraine, tune in to The Briefing on Monocle 24.

Image: Shutterstock

Crime / Japan

Gaming the system

Tokyo district’s public prosecutor’s office has arrested four people alleged to have rigged bids for contracts relating to test events for the Tokyo Olympic Games and violating Japan’s anti-monopoly laws. The seniority of those in custody suggests that the alleged corruption is thought to run deep: one is a former operations executive on the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, while another is a former managing director of the sports department at Japanese advertising agency Dentsu.

Media including the country’s public broadcaster NHK ran breaking-news banners, noting that this is the first time that Dentsu has been linked to one of Japan’s many corruption scandals. The investigation is the latest debacle related to the 2020 Games. After being postponed for a year as a result of the pandemic, the decision to press ahead with the event without spectators proved controversial. Now the country faces what could become a lingering scandal. Tokyo’s authorities will hope to conduct a swift investigation so that it can root out any wrongdoing and avoid further embarrassment.

Image: Getty Images

Fashion / Australia

Lap of luxury

Australia’s fashion industry has experienced a surge in growth in recent months – a development that has confounded the slowdown seen elsewhere in the global industry. Cettire, a publicly listed, Melbourne-based online marketplace, posted a net profit of $8m (€7.4m) this week, a result of several partnerships that have allowed the platform to expand beyond its home market. Cettire has recently joined forces with Chinese marketplace and signed a commercial agreement with Italy-based Zegna to directly integrate its full collections on the platform.

Australia’s fashion labels are gaining international momentum too. With the backing of Italian investment fund Style Capital, Sydney’s Zimmermann recently became the first Australian brand to show at Paris Fashion Week (pictured). This week, popular resort-wear brand Camilla announced a fresh investment round of $28.4m (€26.4m), led by Perth-based fund Tattarang. Camilla’s fundraising is part of a drive to expand overseas hires and a signal that opportunities in the luxury sector still exist if investors look beyond Europe’s well-established fashion hubs.

Image: Mathew Scott

Art / USA

Talent pool

Downtown Los Angeles has had its share of problems in recent years, ranging from a lack of affordable housing to the backsliding of a promising pre-pandemic upswing. But one space in the district that’s doing well is Mohilef Studios. The industrial building’s exterior offers few clues about what’s inside but up a small freight escalator are five levels of buzzing studios, which act as a hub for artists seeking inspiration and opportunities to augment their portfolios.

The opening of a second building, featuring private studios for established artists who are willing to pay more for larger spaces, suggests that co-founder Canyon Castator is doing something right. “People might graduate from this building and go to the other one,” says Castator. Mohilef’s success shows that the city’s art scene has a hunger for community. “We’re this little outpost of artists working extremely hard, alone but together,” says Castator. “There’s a market for that.”

To read the full story and check out our other favourite Places That Work, pick up a copy of Monocle’s February issue, which is on newsstands now.

Image: Alamy

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

Park life

How has the way in which we perceive our parks changed and how have planners adjusted to our current needs? We explore examples of well-considered green space and ponder what’s next for the park.

Monocle Films / Greece

Keeping the faith

In this digital age, do we need more forgiveness and sacrifice in our lives? And where can we look for direction? Monocle Films sits down with Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to find out how the church strives to address contemporary needs and remain relevant.


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