The five biggest stories in the music business this week…
01: Universal settled with FBT over the digital royalties dispute, meaning that the many heritage artists now also suing for a bigger cut of download revenues will not be able to rely on the landmark case in this area for guidance on damages. Eminem collaborators FBT sued Universal for a bigger share of the download money generated by the Slim Shady recordings in which they have a stake; claiming that download revenue should be treated as ‘licensing income’ rather than ‘record sales’, FBT’s record contract – like many such artist contracts – giving them a much bigger cut of the former than the latter. The producers won the case in 2010, but a dispute remained about how much money they were now due. That was expected to be argued in court next spring, but now a confidential out of court settlement has been reached. Many other artists with pre-iTunes record contracts, which therefore don’t explicitly mention download income, are now suing for a bigger cut of digital money citing the FBT ruling. CMU report | CMU Timeline
02: Google Play announced Warner deal and European expansion. The mini-major Warner Music was not part of Google’s new download store when it launched last year, but has now signed up. It means that the web giant can now roll out enhanced scan-and-match functionality on its music locker service, bringing its music-focused cloud-storage platform inline with those operated by Apple and Amazon. Google also announced that its music service, previously only available in America, will now launch in five European markets, including the UK, on 13 Nov. CMU report | New York Times report
03: Job cuts caused by the Universal/EMI merger began. Actually 60+ jobs were cut at Universal/EMI in the US late last week. Most went via the merger of the Universal and EMI American distribution divisions, though up to fifteen were cut by the consolidation of the two companies’ Nashville offices. Universal Music Group supremo Lucian Grainge has pledged to make £100 million in cost savings by combining the Universal and EMI record company operations, despite having to sell off over half of EMI’s recorded music assets in Europe as a condition of the major label merger’s approval by the European Commission. CMU report | CMU timeline
04: Kim Dotcom unveiled a Mega teaser site, giving a little more information about the replacement for his shutdown MegaUpload service, which he plans to launch in January 2013, a year to the day that the Americans switched off the servers of his original website. The Mega preview site also called for programmers, investors and server owners interested in being involved in the new business. Meanwhile, prosecutors in the US claimed that by launching Mega v2, Dotcom was possibly in breach of his bail terms in New Zealand, where the Mega chief is fighting off extradition attempts by the American authorities. Dotcom’s legal reps disagreed. CMU report | CMU timeline
05: iTunes 11 was officially delayed. Apple had originally pledged to put the all new, super enhanced version of its music and content store live in October, but as the month came to a close no such launch occurred. Then, at the last minute, a rep told reporters “the new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right”. Some wondered if the IT giant hoped to include a streaming service in the upgrade, and delays in getting licences in place were causing the hold up. Others said that, following the Apple Maps debacle, the tech firm is just extra sensitive about getting things right with new software launches. A November unveiling is now seemingly planned. CMU report | Telegraph report
This week on CMU, Andy Malt interviewed former Hacienda DJ Graeme Park, Eddy Temple-Morris previewed the AIM Independent Music Awards with a love letter to indie labels, and we took a look at some examples of recent unlikely quotes from artists when launching brand partnerships. As well as that, we approved of Sharon Van Etten, Roses Gabor, El Perro Del Mar and Faye.