Business News Week In Five

The music business week in five – 23 Mar 2012

By | Published on Friday 23 March 2012

Chris Cooke

Well, here we are then, another Friday, and another round up of the week in music. Deadlines passed, gaming stores headed into administration, and you all had a big party to celebrate One Direction’s undeniable chart achievements (right?). And while 27% of the people coming to this week may have Googled “Tulisa sex tape” first, these are the other less salacious stories our readers were consuming.

01: The EC review of Universal’s EMI bid approached phase two. In theory the European Commission’s competition regulators could green light the mega-major’s bid to buy the EMI record companies today, but everyone is certain that a longer phase two investigation will be announced instead. The FT reported last week that EC insiders had privately expressed “serious doubts” about Universal’s bid, which those who oppose the takeover welcomed, though that is a phrase frequently used in EC circles when justifying fuller investigations, so doesn’t necessarily tell us which way the regulators are currently leaning on this one, other than that they believe a full investigation is required, which we all expected anyway. CMU reportBloomberg report

02: The Intellectual Property Office’s copyright consultation closed. Stemming from last year’s Hargreaves Review, which in turn stemmed from concerns expressed to David Cameron about the British copyright system by the bosses of Google, various interested parties submitted their opinions on copyright reform this week, including a bunch of music industry bodies. Hargreaves advocated an extension of the ‘fair dealing’ provisions in copyright law, some of which has caused concerns among traditional copyright owners, most of whom also question the amount of economic growth such extensions would really deliver (the IPO predicted £7.9 billion). Meanwhile The Register wondered where exactly the “Google couldn’t have launched in the UK because of our copyright rules” story Cameron used to justify the latest IP review actually came from. Collecting societies statement | MU statement | UK Music submissionMMF/FAC submission | MPA submissionRegister report

03: A Sony Corporation Of America executive rejig was rumoured. It’s thought that the entertainment conglom’s Michael Lynton, currently head of Sony Pictures Entertainment, will become CEO of SCA once Kazuo Hirai takes over as top man at parent company Sony Corp. That will mean the two Sony music companies – the Sony Music record labels and Sony/ATV music publishing business – will report into Lynton, though he’s expected to be a pretty hands off boss. Meanwhile Sony/ATV confirmed this week that it had renewed its contract with current chief Marty Bandier. It’s thought he may also soon be directly supported by Rob Wiesenthal, currently COO of SCA, if Sony/ATV’s bid to buy EMI Music Publishing is green lighted by regulators. CMU report | FT report

04: One Direction broke a US chart record. The ‘X-Factor’ created boyband became the first British group ever to have their debut album debut at the top of the Billboard albums chart, proving a prolific few weeks of promo work had paid off. With The Wanted also doing pretty well Stateside, British boybands are doing unusually well in the American market just now, helping maintain the momentum kicked off by the likes of Adele, Sade, Mumford & Sons and Susan Boyle in recent years in terms of UK artist successes in the North American market. CMU report | Guardian report

05: Game went into administration, after suspending trading in its shares earlier this week saying there was “no equity value left in the group”. An administrator is expected to be appointed any day now, who will presumably start talks with the various companies who are thought to be interested in buying some or all of the multi-national entertainment retail firm. Game’s collapse shows the slump in physical entertainment products has affected gaming as much as music and movies. Though if the gaming retailer were to disappear from the high street, that might provide a temporary boost to HMV, whose games sales have also been in decline of late. CMU report | FT report

And that’s your lot, until Andy’s Editor’s Letter lands at the end of the day, and the next CMU podcast (the last edition for a few weeks) magically appears on this weekend. Enjoy.

Chris Cooke
Business Editor, CMU