Well, what a sunny Good Friday this is turning out to be, isn’t it? And while Team CMU may be enjoying the sunshine away from our Shoreditch HQ today, I’ve called in just to do a quick week in five summary for you, tracking the big stories in music this week. And look, here it is.
01: Sony was bidding for HMV’s MAMA Group, as key directors at the live firm announced their departure. The music major was tipped as a second stage bidder for the live music business, that HMV put up for sale late last year, by the Independent, with AEG Live and Time Out owner Oakley Capital also thought to be still in the bidding. Meanwhile, reports were circulating that some key directors at MAMA have announced their resignations in anticipation of any upcoming acquisition, unhappy with the way HMV is handling the sale. The departures will likely impact on MAMA’s sponsorship and management divisions, and its artist and festival partnerships, which would be an issue for any potential buyer interested in more than just the HMV company’s venue portfolio. Sony bid report | Director departure report
02: Elsewhere in Sony takeovers, Reuters reported on the concessions the entertainment conglom made to the European Commission last week as it tries to get regulator approval for its purchase of EMI Music Publishing. Sony is leading a consortium to buy EMI’s publishing business, which would report into the Sony/ATV publishing company if the acquisition is approved. Opponents say this would give Sony too much power in the music publishing sector. In a bid to allay fears, Reuters reckons Sony said it would sell the Virgin Music branded publishing catalogues currently owned by EMI, and some strategic hit songs owned by either EMI or Sony/ATV, if that would enable the EC to give its deal approval. The EC will report back on 19 Apr. CMU report | Reuters report
03: EMI terminated its deal with Grooveshark, meaning the controversial streaming service now has no major label partnership. EMI announced it was suing Grooveshark over allegations the digital firm was breaching its 2009 licensing agreement in January. This week it asked for a summary judgement in that case, and confirmed it had terminated Grooveshark’s licence to use its content. The digital company – already facing a separate lawsuit from Universal, Sony Music and Warner – claimed it had ended its partnership with EMI because of increasingly unreasonable royalty demands and concerns over the major’s pending acquisition by Universal and Sony. CMU report | C-Net report
04: Court papers were filed over the legitimate Mega data. A US man supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation who lost access to his own content when the American authorities shut down the rogue file-transfer operation in January asked the courts for help in retrieving his data. There was talk of Mega buying the servers it used to rent – which current owners Carpathia are keen to wipe – and overseeing the return of such data, though the Motion Picture Association Of America said it didn’t trust the digital company to not start illegally distributing its members content again, and anyway the US authorities refused to free up any of Mega’s money to enable a server purchase. The MPAA proposed the American federal government should oversee the return of legitimate data from the old Mega platform, though the US Attorney overseeing the criminal investigation into the company said that data stored on the firm’s old servers wasn’t his problem. CMU timeline | Bloomberg report
05: More artists sued over their digital royalties. This week Weird Al Yankovic filed a wide-ranging royalties lawsuit against Sony Music, including the current favourite claim, that the music major should be paying him a share of download revenue as if that was licensing rather than record sales income (meaning he’d get 25-35% more of the money). Sony has previously proposed a roster-wide settlement on digital royalties, but Yankovic presumably wasn’t impressed with that offer. Meanwhile, a 1980s new wave outfit called The Motels filed a digital royalties dispute against EMI. Yankovic report | The Motels report
The CMU podcast is on a break just now, but you can check back editions here. And while the CMU podcast is joining the schools in taking an Easter holiday, our training operation is now, and we have a great course on music rights next for which a small number of places are still available. Check out info here.
Business Editor, CMU