Business News Week In Five

The music business week in five – 27 Apr 2012

By | Published on Friday 27 April 2012

Chris Cooke

So, I spent a big chunk of this week putting The Great Escape convention programme to press, and yesterday as I signed off the pages I had the first chance to go through the entire line-up in one sitting. And it is, though I say so myself, a pretty awesome programme this year, with our content partners presenting incredibly strong sessions, plus many other great speakers, interviewees, topics and parties. Next week we’ll be putting the full programme live online, so do watch this space closely. Meanwhile, let’s look back at the week just gone.

01: Warner Music scaled back its Roadrunner operations. It’s still not entirely clear how far the cutbacks will go, though the metal label’s founder Cees Wessels has departed, and in the region of 36 other staffers have also been made redundant. Most back office operations will now be handled by parent company Warner, though Roadrunner specific A&R, marketing and promotions teams seem likely to remain, despite rumours the label would be totally wound down everywhere but the US. CMU reportBillboard report

02: Sony Music announced new chiefs for Columbia Records, after the somewhat sudden departure of the UK division’s MD Mike Smith. He will be replaced by two new Co-Presidents, existing Columbia A&R Director Alison Donald and Mark Terry, formerly at Warner’s Atlantic Records and before that EMI. Both will report into Sony Music UK chief Nick Gatfield, Terry having previously worked alongside his new boss at EMI. CMU reportBillboard report

03: The European Commission sent out a new questionnaire over Universal’s EMI bid, as its competition regulators work their way through a full three-month investigation into the proposed deal. Most of the questions asked were predictable, though some were possibly more revealing. A few showed that a big concern is the dominance a combined Universal EMI will have in the classical and jazz genres. Others are trying to work out what influence the majors have over how music is presented within digital platforms. All interested parties now have a chance to respond. Meanwhile, Reuters reckons we now won’t get a resolution on this in Europe until September (originally we thought August). CMU reportReuters report

04: GEMA won in court against YouTube in its long running legal battle over licensing. This actually happened last Friday, in Hamburg, where a court ruled that the video site does have an obligation to ensure any songs owned by members of German publishing rights collecting society GEMA do not appear on its site if the necessary licences are not in place. YouTube generally operates under the American copyright system, whereby providing it removes unlicensed songs if and when rights owners complain, the digital operator isn’t liable for infringement, even if the site hosts unlicensed content for a time. The ruling possibly means that YouTube in Germany would have to automatically block all GEMA represented songs, unless specific publisher/songwriter permission has been obtained. Of course it would be easier for the Google-owned video site to finally agree licensing terms with GEMA, which is what the collecting society probably wants. It has been asking for higher rates thant YouTube is willing to pay. CMU reportNew York Times report

05: The Three-strikes launch was pushed back to 2014. Well, a rep from the government’s Department Of Culture Media & Sport said that that was now the target date at a conference in London. The so called graduated response system for combating file-sharing in the UK was set out in the Digital Economy Act in 2010, but is yet to go live, due to various technical issues and legal challenges. According to The Register, the DCMS’s Paul Kirkman said strike one – the enforced sending out of letters by ISPs to suspected file-sharers – is now unlikely to begin before 2014. It’s not clear whether strike two will then take another four years to organise. CMU report | The Register report

And that’s your lot, until the podcast goes live this weekend. Providing we remember to record it at some point today.

Chris Cooke
Business Editor, CMU