Business News Week In Five

CMU Digest – 8 Feb 2013

By | Published on Friday 8 February 2013


The five biggest stories in the music business this week…

01: Universal sold Parlophone to Warner, bringing to an end the incredibly long drawn out downfall of EMI (pending any further down-sizing of former EMI units now within Universal and Warner). Warner, of course, bid against Universal for the entire EMI record company in 2011, and then lobbied against its rival’s EMI takeover for much of 2012, which meant the mega-major could have rejected its smaller competitor’s bid for those EMI units it was forced to sell by European regulators (aka the Parlophone Label Group) just to get its own back. Though by selling Parlophone to Warner, Universal satisfies European regulators’ demands that the EMI division go to an existing music business, while placating a little those who opposed the Universal/EMI merger in the indie community, because a bigger Warner reduces a little the duopoly in the music rights space of Universal and Sony. CMU report | CMU Timeline

02: HMV’s administrators announced the closure of 66 stores, which will result in about 930 people losing their jobs. The shops will close following a closing down sale. Many expected more stores to go – up to twice as many in fact – as Deloitte tries to rescue the flagging retailer, which went into administration last month. It’s thought the 66 closed shops were all loss-making, and that other retailers have likely expressed an interest in taking over the leases on the retail units they occupy. Talks are ongoing with restructuring specialists Hilco about them buying the HMV brand and taking a streamlined version of the firm out of administration. It’s not clear whether more store closures may occur before or after then. A number of HMV’s London stores were included in the closure list, though not its flagship Oxford Street base. Though administrators were reportedly still accepting bids for that store this week. CMU report | CMU Timeline

03: Universal Music Publishing withdrew its digital rights from the US collecting societies, or at least confirmed it would do so later this year. It will mean that American streaming services will have to do a deal directly with Universal’s publishing business to include songs owned by the company in their catalogues, rather than securing the rights to stream said songs under blanket licences from BMI and ASCAP. The move follows rival Sony/ATV/EMI’s decision to licence Pandora directly, and is a sign the US publishing industry is moving away from collective licensing in the digital space (adopting a direct deal approach like that used, in the main, by the labels in all matters digital). CMU report | Billboard report

04: The BPI published an upbeat report about digital. Collating all sorts of digital stats, the record label trade body said that a fifth of British music buyers have now “fully transitioned” to digital music, while over a quarter had paid to access digital music in the last year, and nearly a third had accessed a legit online service. That meant that 183.3 million digital singles were sold in 2012, 30.5 million digital albums were downloaded and 3.7 billion tracks streamed. The report also point to the pending boom in tablet devices, in-car net connectivity, smart TVs and net-connected home hi-fi systems as all providing great opportunities for further digital growth in the music space. CMU report | BBC report

05: Stool Pigeon and Bull & Gate announced closure, and on the same day too. In a double blow to the grassroots music community in London, popular free-sheet Stool Pigeon announced that its most recent edition would be its last, with publisher Phil Hebblethwaite saying that “running out 60,000 copies of a free newspaper six times a year and distributing them to 100 cities/towns across the UK has become untenable”; and then promoters Club Fandango announced that the new owners of popular North London pub-venue the Bull & Gate – which they oversee – would be turning the building into a gastro pub, meaning it will cease to host gigs. Bad times. Stool Pigeon report | Bull & Gate report

In CMU this week, Eddy TM launched Tinnitus Awareness Week with an update on his tinnitus-awareness-raising album project, music manager and former Luminaire co-owner Andy Inglis shared some fascinating opinions and tips on the grass roots live sector, and Amateur Best only went and complied us a fab playlist. Plus, we stopped and paused for 39 minutes to review the music business month just gone with another CMU Podcast. Approved were Blanck Mass, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Rebecca & Fiona and Mikal Cronin.

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