Business News Week In Five

The music business week in five – 7 Oct 2011

By | Published on Friday 7 October 2011

Chris Cooke

So that was a week, of that there can be no denial. Seven days have definitely passed since we last found ourselves in the situation of having to review the week’s events. But what happened this week of note?

Well, for those of you adverse to reading, you should get yourself over to later today (or go there now and sign up via iTunes) where Andy and I will talk you though all the key developments while trying to keep our comments on two separate deaths and a manslaughter trial something nearing tasteful. But if you can’t wait for that, or can’t stand the sound of my voice, here’s a quick summary in written words.

01: Steve Jobs died. The former Apple chief lost his fight against cancer, leading to a flood of tributes for the computer guy who had such an impact on the world’s technology, film and music industries. Jobs had stepped down as Apple’s CEO back in August because of ill-health, and his successor Tim Cook took to the stage for his first big product launch as top man just 24 hours before Jobs’ passing. He announced the launch of a new version of the iPhone 4, and that the firm’s digital locker service iCloud would be coming to the UK later this month. CMU obit | Tributes galore | More tributes

02: The deadline for EMI bids passed. Current owners Citigroup had told those interested in buying some or all of the British music major to put in their final bids on Wednesday. Five, maybe six, parties are thought to have done so – Sony, Universal, Warner, BMG, Ronald Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes and, maybe, a consortium led by Ron Burkle. An announcement on the sale – and whether it will result in EMI being split, and/or merged with another music firm – is expected next week. The Daily Mail’s Alex Brummer noted that, assuming a sale goes through now, whoever wins the bidding the company will cease to be British. He wished Citigroup had refloated the company on the London Stock Exchange instead. CMU reportsFT report

03: An interesting copyright ruling was made in Europe. The European Courts Of Justice ruled that the FA couldn’t force British TV viewers to watch Premiere League football on Sky Sports, even though BSkyB has exclusive rights to show the games in the UK. Under European freedom of trade rules UK consumers must be allowed to buy coverage from other satellite broadcasters in Europe, assuming they have the technology to receive the broadcasts. Some wondered what this would mean for territory-specific music licensing, does it mean German music fans – who can’t get Spotify – should be able to access the UK version of the service if they think it’s better than any domestic streaming music options? And if so what does that mean for territory-specific licensing in Europe? CMU report | Guardian report

04: The BPI released some sales stats for the third quarter of 2011. As you’d probably expect, digital sales were up – for both singles and especially albums – though that didn’t compensate for the continued slump in CD sales, so that overall third quarter sales were down 11.4%. Adele has both the best selling album and best selling single so far this year. CMU report | FT report

05: Rhapsody bought Napster. US-based subscription music service Rhapsody, once part of Real Networks, bought Napster from Best Buy. In the US, where Rhapsody is market leader in the subscription service space, it almost certainly means the Napster brand will disappear. Outside the US, where Rhapsody doesn’t currently operate, the Napster name may be retained. Rhapsody, of course, faces lots of new competitors in the newly buoyant subscription and streaming service market-place. MySpace’s new owner also confirmed this week that when he relaunches that site next year it will be 100% music focused with stepped up on-demand streaming. Rhapsody report | MySpace report

And that’s your lot. Til next week…

Chris Cooke
Business Editor, CMU