The five biggest stories in the music business this week…
01: About nine proposals were in for Parlophone. According to the FT, the joint venture between XIX Entertainment’s Simon Fuller and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell is amongst those to have submitted “preliminary non-binding proposals” to Universal Music with a view to buying some of the assets the mega-major is being forced to sell by competition regulators as part of its recent acquisition of EMI, in particular the UK-based Parlophone division. Warner Music and MacAndrews & Forbes are also thought to have submitted initial proposals, while BMG has signed a non-disclosure agreement but is yet to provide an actual bid. It was thought Universal would this week open a ‘data room’ where interested parties could gain more information about the assets for sale to help them prepare a fuller bid, though Billboard now says that has been delayed a little. CMU report | FT report
02: The IFPI said that relatively speaking A&R spending is up. In its annual ‘Investing In Music’ report, the global trade body said that collectively record labels around the world were now investing $2.7 billion a year in developing and releasing new music, only slightly down on 2008 despite the trade value of recorded music falling 16% in that time. The IFPI added that, despite much talk about the “demise” of the record label in the digital age, 71% of UK and 80% of German unsigned bands surveyed still wanted to sign a label deal, record companies still being the key investor in artists. The report also confirmed that brand partnerships and sync deals are an increasingly important revenue stream to enable labels to get a return on their A&R investments. CMU report | IFPI report
03: Various digital services expanded. Google Play arrived in various European markets, including the UK, offering downloads and a digital locker service complete with scan-and-match. VEVO, the Sony/Universal-owned music video platform, launched its VEVO.com website and various apps in Spain, France and Italy. And Spotify went live in Ireland and Luxembourg, as well as launching a new braowser-based player in beta. Meanwhile, Norway-based streaming platform WIMP, already available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Holland, is preparing a Polish launch. Google Play report | VEVO/Spotify report
04: AEG was hit with a new lawsuit over its ill-fated Michael Jackson ‘This Is It’ venture. The former PA of the late king of pop, Michael Williams, said that he was an implied beneficiary of the singer’s contract with the live music firm, and therefore had suffered loss from Jackson’s death. As employer of Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of causing the pop star’s death, AEG was liable for the singer’s demise, the PA argued, and therefore the music firm should compensate Williams for his financial losses. AEG called the legal claim “frivolous” and said it was clearly “barred by at least four different legal doctrines”. Meanwhile in the other lawsuit considering AEG’s liability, or not, for Jackson’s death, the one being pursued by Katherine Jackson, the judge hearing the case said she didn’t believe the Jackson family had leaked the confidential emails between AEG execs about the ‘This Is It’ project that appeared in the LA Times in September, and therefore rejected the live firm’s request that said emails be barred as evidence at the Jacksons v AEG trial. PA lawsuit | Jacksons v AEG lawsuit
05: The BBC celebrated 90 years of radio, amidst corporate chaos. The 90th anniversary of the first ever radio broadcasts in the UK were celebrated concurrently on the vast majority of BBC radio stations (though apparently not BBC Radio Cymru) with the simultaneous airing of a sound collage collated by Damon Albarn, featuring Big Ben’s chimes, the BBC pips, some random voxpops from kids about the future, and some nice piano playing from Albarn himself. The landmark came in a week of turmoil at the Beeb following the resignation last weekend of bumbling Director General George Entwistle, after less than two months in the job, over a careless ‘Newsnight’ report that indirectly accused Tory Lord Alistair McAlpine of child abuse. BBC Radio boss Tim Davie stepped in to fill the DG role on a temporary basis, while BBC lawyers agreed to pay the wrongly accused peer £185,000 in damages. Entwistle, meanwhile, walked away with a £450,000 golden goodbye. Happy Birthday. Damon’s soundscape | BBC meltdown report
This week on CMU, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the UK singles chart by chatting to the boss of the Official Charts Company Martin Talbot. We had a playlist curated by Novella and in a guest column Vasilis Panagiotopoulos reported on the recent You Are In Control conference in Reykjavík. We approved of NONONO, Jessica Pratt, Petite Noir and Suuns.