The five biggest stories in the music business this week…
01: Martin Mills called for more political support for the rights industries. The Beggars chief spoke as he was presented with an Icon Award by Billboard at MIDEM in Cannes. He said that political decision makers were too often wooed by shiny new tech companies, despite some of those firms having dubious business models and paying nominal taxes, while the creative industries were often unfairly portrayed as “dinosaurs” with an outdated approach. Mills conceded that the music industry had made mistakes when digital platforms first emerged, and that work still needed to be done to simplify cross-border licensing, but added: “I don’t believe that the present day music industry is a reluctant licensor”. He also stressed that he believes the future of the music industry is based around solid partnerships between content makers and tech providers, but added: “We do not need to have control of our rights taken away from us, to be forced to licence that in which we have invested at uneconomic prices, to simply allow huge tech firms to make even huger profits”. CMU report | Full speech
02: The indies hit out at MySpace. Actually meeting at MIDEM to launch a worldwide indie label manifesto, reps from key independent labels hit out at MySpace, for relaunching as a music-centric service but without a deal in place with Merlin, the digital rights body representing the bigger indie labels. “There is an impression, a complacence, and I would suggest an arrogance which is offensive” Alison Wenham of the Association Of Independent Music said of the new MySpace company, while a press release included similar sentiments from various indie label bosses. Neither MySpace, nor its creative advisor Mr Justin Timberlake, have as yet responded. CMU report | MusicAlly report
03: HMV axed 190 back office staff, while talks with possible buyers for the flagging retailer continued. The redundancies represented about a third of the workforce at HMV’s HQ and distribution operation. A spokesman for Deloitte told reporters the cuts were “a necessary step in restructuring the business to enhance the prospects of securing its future as a going concern”. Meanwhile some of those being fired but still with access to the official HMV Twitter feed documented the process, telling the retailer’s customers “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting”. Behind the scenes, Deloitte also negotiated with the music and DVD companies who technically own much of the stock sitting in HMV’s stores, but who arent’t really in any mood to retrieve it. HMV’s administrators have offered to just buy the stock, though there’s been some disagreement on price. CMU report | FT report
04: The Office Of Fair Trading investigated AEG’s Wembley contract. The live music firm quietly won the contract to manage the North London venue off its main rivals Live Nation last year. But AEG already runs London’s other arena venue at The O2, and last year acquired the Hammersmith Apollo, one of the capital’s bigger theatre venues for music and comedy, and some in the live sector have therefore raised concerns about the new contract. To that end the deal is being considered by the OFT, which will be asking if the Wembley contract leads to a “substantial lessening of competition”. If the OFT decides the concerns are valid, it may pass the case onto the Competition Commission for further consideration. CMU report | Guardian report
05: The Music Producers Guild announced a new standard for embedding ISRCs into WAVs. The exact specifics of the initiative are not yet known, but the producer trade body says it has been working with European Broadcasting Union on a standard way of including a sound recording’s unique code in a WAV file, so that that information can be passed through the supply chain to broadcasters and digital services. It’s hoped that if adopted, that system – linked to a database of ISRC data – could ensure the better crediting of individuals who have worked on any one track, and make royalty reporting simpler and more transparent. MPG will reveal more at a launch event tbc. CMU report
On CMU this week, we chatted to Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit, Widowspeak compiled us a playlist, and the CMU Insights team explained how copyrights are monetised. Approved were Kitty Pryde, Milk Music, This Is Head and Veronica Falls.
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