Business News Week In Five

The music business week in five – 11 Nov 2011

By | Published on Friday 11 November 2011

Chris Cooke

Well, what a busy week that was. If you’d wanted to, you could have spent pretty much the entire seven days sitting in a music-related awards ceremonies, what with that big MTV bash in Belfast last weekend, the Music Industry Trust celebrating all things Jools Holland on Monday, then the Music Video Awards, the Student Radio Awards, the Classic Rock Awards and last night’s inaugural AIM Independent Music Awards. Frankly, with that little lot, if you didn’t get an award this week you weren’t trying.

Aside from all the gong giving, there was a Conrad Murray verdict (guilty, man, guilty), the never-ending EMI sale saga, and loads of music and digital types announcing partnerships, planning takeovers and/or making wild predictions. Good times.

Unfortunately I got a bit distracted from all this on Tuesday while researching a Justin Bieber story for you – somehow I stumbled across an interview the pop teen gave where he bigged up a crazy Asteroids-meets-typing-exam web-game which I’ve been playing ever since. Yes, my life has become dominated by a silly computer game recommended by Justin Bieber. Oh well, at least I wasn’t too distracted to notice this lot happening:

01: EMI wasn’t sold. But talks between current owners Citigroup and Universal regards the EMI record labels resumed and as of last night things were looking promising – the big issue of pension liabilities has seemingly been addressed. An announcement could be imminent, and this morning Sky News went as far as to say that the deal would be announced later today. Though some insiders are still airing caution, possibly aware that Warner’s talks got pretty close to a deal two weeks ago, only to fall through at the last minute. Sony/ATV are currently favourite to get EMI’s publishing business, though BMG are still in the running. Meanwhile indie label body IMPALA confirmed this week that it would lobby against any Universal and/or Sony deal with regards EMI. CMU reports | Sky report

02: LVCR was axed. The government announced it would end the tax relief system that has, for years, allowed mail-order firms based on the Channel Islands, including, The Hut, and the supermarkets, to sell CDs without charging VAT, giving them a 20% advantage over mainland retailers. Independent traders who have campaigned on this issue for years were jubilant. Though the end of LVCR, which will kick in next April, only applies to the Channel Islands, and there are fears most mail-order giants will move to other non-EU countries where the VAT relief on imports will remain, for the time being at least. CMU report | Channel Online explanation

03: Warner announced a big exec rejig. The revamp was led by worldwide recorded music CEO Lyor Cohen, whose control over the Warner Music labels has increased since Access Industries took ownership earlier this year, and overall Warner CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr took the backseat role of Chairman. More global units were created, but the big news was that the European management team was being phased out, with country divisions in Europe reporting directly into the global top team. As part of this, Warner Europe boss John Reid announced he would leave the major. CMU report | MusicWeek report

04: The BPI called on BT to block access to The Pirate Bay. Leading a coalition of content industry trade bodies, the record label organisation asked BT to stop its internet customers from accessing the rogue file-sharing site, citing the recent ruling in the MPA v BT case, in which the tel co was forced to block access to the Newzbin file-sharing service. BPI hopes that BT may put the block in place voluntarily, rather than forcing the content firms to go the injunction route. It might happen, BT is apparently trying to get its own digital music service off the ground, so may be more willing to play ball than before. CMU report | ZDNet report

05: ‘X-Factor’ confirmed it was withdrawing its Rhythmix trademark application. The girl group on the telly talent show named Rhythmix changed their moniker (eventually) after being told that name was already used by a music education charity which feared its fund-raising efforts would be hindered if Team X trademarked the name in the music space. But despite the name change, the Rhythmix charity revealed this week that the ‘X-Factor’ trademark application hadn’t been withdrawn. Though after some more uproar, the telly show’s bosses promised it would be asap. CMU report | Guardian report

And that’s your lot, until podcast time later this afternoon. Meanwhile, enjoy all the ones this day promises to deliver.

Chris Cooke
Business Editor, CMU