Business News Week In Five

The music business week in five – 28 Oct 2011

By | Published on Friday 28 October 2011

Chris Cooke

So welcome back to Friday, and another round up of the big developments in the music world this week. With the ongoing EMI sale, more speculation about Google’s download store, and, outside the industry news zone, the Conrad Murray trial rumbling on, it sort of felt like we were on the verge of some really big news stories this week, none of which actually delivered. Though that’s not to say it’s been a quiet news week in the good old music biz, Thursday being such a busy news day that various stories that would usually lead your Daily got pushed well down the pile. But what were the big five developments of the week? Well…

01: Citigroup didn’t sell EMI, but everyone thinks they’re about to. Although the US bank has been taking its time deciding who to sell its music company to, sources close to the deal making seem certain a sale will happen imminently, that the company will be split for sale, and that Warner will get the record companies (Universal having seemingly fallen out of the race), with BMG or Sony/ATV getting EMI Music Publishing. An announcement, certainly about the former, could now be very imminent indeed, though wrangling about EMI’s pension liabilities does continue. CMU reports | Guardian report

02: Google indicated it’d launch a download store with only two majors in place. This was news that explained how Google insiders were indicating an imminent launch of the company’s new MP3 download store, while some major label sources were saying licensing deals were someway off being signed. Sony and Warner are reportedly the hold outs, the former wanting more action by Google to stop copyright infringing websites from benefiting from the web giant’s search engine and advertising sales network. As anticipation of some sort of imminent launch grew this week, some tech bloggers (in particular News On Droid) noted that the mobile homepage of the Google music locker service temporarily had a button linking people to an Android music store, offering to sell MP3s, and offering access to free tracks too. CMU reports | WSJ report

03: BT was served its Newzbin2 injunction. This stemmed from a legal case earlier this year in which the Motion Picture Association convinced a judge that BT – as the UK’s biggest ISP – should be forced to block its customers from accessing the Newzbin2 website, which provides access to loads of unlicensed movie and music content. The actual injunction was issued this week, and possibly sets the framework for future injunctions that rights owners are now expected to apply for – against other infringing websites and ISPs – in a bid to make it harder for web users to access illegal sources of content. CMU report | ZDnet report

04: Morrissey’s libel case against the NME was allowed to proceed to trial. NME publishers IPC Media tried to have the case – relating to a 2007 interview – dismissed earlier this month, but this week the UK’s most senior libel judge said that, even though the singer had taken four years to sue, the case could proceed. Morrissey claims NME’s editor Conor McNicholas deliberately misrepresented his words to make him sound racist, in order to create controversy and sell more magazines. CMU report | Telegraph report

05: X-Factor’s Rhythmix agreed to change their name. The girl group, manufactured by judges on the talent show, had picked a name already used by an excellent children’s charity which involves disadvantaged young people in music projects. When the charity initially complained that a bid by ‘X-Factor’ to register the name as a trademark in the music space would hinder its work, TV bosses were unrepentant. But after the charity’s CEO put out an open plea to Simon Cowell to step in, ‘X’ chiefs announced the fledgling girl group would find a new name. Hurrah. CMU report | Kent News report

So look at that, a happy ending. For more on these and other stories, but in an audio chat format, don’t forget the CMU Weekly podcast, out later today. Sign up here now to avoid disappointment!

Chris Cooke
Business Editor, CMU