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COURT BLOCKS TERRA FIRMA'S ATTEMPTS TO OBTAIN DOCUMENTS RELATING TO CITIGROUP'S EMI GRAB
As previously reported, Terra Firma has questioned the decisions made by PWC that enabled Citigroup to repossess EMI, and also thrown doubt on the accountants' valuation of the music business at the time the equity company lost control. Last September Team Terra Firma went to court in a bid to get access to confidential documentation that would throw some light on exactly what happened late last January, and how PWC valued EMI at that point.
According to the Financial Times, legal reps for Terra Firma chief Guy Hands also allege that PWC was not validly appointed as administrator for the EMI holding company, that the way that holding company was wound up was specifically designed to "crystallise a loss by Terra Firma of the entirety of its investment of about £1.85bn", and that there were "serious concerns about the circumstances surrounding the sale [of EMI to Citigroup] by the joint administrators".
It's thought that Hands and his team were as surprised as the rest of us about the speed with which Citigroup swooped to seize control of EMI at start of February last year. Of course, with the hugely indebted (to Citi) EMI needing ever more subsidy, and with Terra Firma's financial backers seemingly losing patience with the music company during 2010, and with Hands having totally fallen out with Citi chiefs making renegotiating EMI's loans impossible, the repossession was probably inevitable. But insiders say that Terra Firma bosses reckon the way Citi took over was underhand, and designed to screw them over.
Legal efforts to see those crucial PWC documents presumably suggest Hands is considering also legal action over the way Citi behaved at the end of his EMI adventure (he having already unsuccessfully sued the bank over the way it behaved when he first acquired the music company in 2007).
But if that is planned, such litigation will have to go ahead without Terra Firma having the PWC paperwork in hand, because judge Nicholas Warren has ruled that there is no case to force the accountancy firm to hand over any documents at this time, partly because there isn't "the slightest suggestion [Citi] effected sales at undervalue" because it wouldn't make commercial sense for them to do so, and partly because he didn't see why PWC handing over documentation would "assist in achieving a fair disposal of the anticipated proceedings".
It remains to be seen what action Terra Firma now takes regarding Citigroup's actions over EMI this time last year. Meanwhile, EMI itself, of course, is due to be split up into its recordings and publishing parts and sold to Universal Music and Sony/ATV respectively, assuming Citigroup's plans to sell the music major in that way gets regulator approval.
NEW RONAN KEATING LP MAY EMBRACE "FOLK FEEL"
He said: "Now I have a new lease of life and I'm ready to write and record ... It's my first studio album in five years and will feature brand new songs. It has a folk feel at the moment but the sound is changing all the time".
Hmm, how very non-committal. I could at this point say something disparaging about Ronan Keating's lack of commitment in general, but it's probably best I say nothing at all.
ANDREW BIRD CONFIRMS NEW LP
ÓLAFUR ARNALDS SCORES HOLLYWOOD FILM
Speaking about how the project came about, Arnalds told CMU: "In mid-December 2010 I was on a holiday in China when I received an email from Sam Levinson about the film. We got on the phone at like four in the morning Beijing time and ended up talking all through the night, instantly connecting. He told me that they had been listening to my music while making the film, so the film was already very influenced by my music. However, it was not until Ellen Barkin - the beautiful force that she is - had pestered the producers for a week, calling them every day about how I am the right one for this film, that they finally gave in. The only catch was that it had to be done two weeks later, in the first week of January. So I ended up scoring non-stop all throughout Christmas, making my mother mad in the process".
You can listen to a track form the score, 'Lynn's Theme', here: soundcloud.com/olafur-arnalds/lynns-theme
The full tracklist for the album is as follows:
The Land Of Nod
MADONNA INSPIRED TO MAKE DIRECTORIAL DEBUT AFTER MOVE TO ENGLAND
Speaking to the Radio Times, Madonna said: "I really didn't have any friends, I didn't know anybody, and I found myself in a strange world, so I decided that I was going to educate myself and find out about the history and culture of this new world that I lived in. So I started studying English history - I started reading about the monarchy, starting with Henry VIII, and then I worked all the way up to the Windsor family".
She continued: "I'd heard about Edward VIII abdicating when I was in school. I knew that he had given up the throne for this American woman from Baltimore and that was it. I researched it more and I was kind of transfixed by the idea that a man would give up such a powerful position for love. I felt that there was something kind of Shakespearean about it".
'WE' hits UK cinemas later this week.
ELTON JOHN TO PUBLISH BOOK ABOUT GLOBAL AIDS FIGHT
It will chronicle his work with AIDS charities, as well as other anecdotes and case studies, such as his memories of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991 AIDS-related pneumonia of course, and the story of Ryan White, a US teenager who took his school to court after it attempted to expel him for being HIV positive.
John said in a statement: "[AIDS] is a disease that must be cured not by a miraculous vaccine, but by changing hearts and minds, and through a collective effort to break down social barriers and to build bridges of compassion. Why are we not doing more? This is a question I have thought deeply about, and wish to answer - and to help change - by writing this book".
The book is due to be published by Hodder & Stoughton in July.
OF MONTREAL ANNOUNCE TOUR
THOMAS TRUAX ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM AND TOUR
As previously reported, the 'Monthly Journal' project saw Truax write a new song for every month of 2011 influenced by each period in some way. As it turned out, there was lots to influence him. Aside from the wider political and social upheaval last year, Truax's personal life proved turbulent, with the death of his father, the break up of a five year relationship and, as the year drew to a close, tightened UK visa rules meaning he had to leave the country and move back to the US.
"Having committed to the monthly songs probably kept me sane", Truax told Mark Radcliffe on 6music recently. "It was like the proverbial firmly-rooted tree I could hang on to, to keep from being completely swept up by the tornado".
Listen to 'Free As Fireflies In May' from the album here: soundcloud.com/thomas-truax/free-as-fireflies-in-may
3 Feb: Southend, Railway Hotel
JAY-Z TO REPLACE DURACELL BUNNY
In a statement, Jay-Z said: "I believe in the future of wireless energy and I believe that Duracell Powermat is the company to bring on the revolution. I'm partnering with Duracell Powermat because they're providing the solutions for the future".
Ran Poliakine, CEO of Powermat Technologies, added dubiously: "Jay-Z is power personified. He inspires millions of people all over the world on a daily basis with his music and his story. There is no better face or voice that can move people to adopt a new paradigm in power delivery".
In other news, Jay-Z has released a new track to celebrate the birth of his daughter Blue Ivy Carter, which as well as announcing his pride and being a father reveals that his wife Beyonce previously suffered a miscarriage and features guest vocals (ie some crying) by the baby herself: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGFAFvV4dpI
US RIGHTS IN SIX BEATLES SONGS CHANGE OWNERSHIP
George Pincus bought the American rights in the six songs, which include 'She Loves You', 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'From Me To You', after the bigger American music publishing firms knocked back approaches from The Beatles' then UK publisher. It's not known what he paid for them, though according to the Financial Times the story goes that he considered selling them on for $200 a year later.
It's also not known what Pincus's sons Leonard and Irwin will have made by selling the six songs now to Round Hill Music and Adage Classics, who bid jointly, though experts told the FT the songs could be worth anything between $10 million and $20 million. It's thought that Sony/ATV, which owns the majority of the Lennon/McCartney catalogue, and already has a minority interest in these six songs, made a bid, though it's not known if Round Hill and Adage beat the major on price or intent.
But Adage Classics CEO Herb Jordan did tell the FT: "It wasn't simply a commercial transaction, we had to convince them we'd bring a level of respect, expertise and creativity".
One of the partners in Round Hill Music, which is basically a music business start-up, called the deal "a dream come true". Richard Rowe is the son of Dick Rowe, the 1960s Decca Records executive who, rock legend has it, turned down an offer to sign the then fledgling The Beatles by declaring "guitar groups are on their way out". Rowe Junior has had first hand experience of managing the Lennon/McCartney oeuvre from his time as President of Sony/ATV, but seems particularly excited to now have a personal stake in six of the early Beatles songs.
SONY AND UNIVERSAL MAKE SENIOR DIGITAL APPOINTMENTS
First up, Sony Music has appointed Dennis Kooker to the role of President, Global Digital Business & US Sales. Kooker basically replaces the major's former digital boss Thomas Hesse who, as previously reported, returned to his former employer and one time Sony Music co-owner Bertelsmann late last year.
Kooker will report direct to Sony Music top dog Doug Morris who told reporters: "Dennis has long been a key contributor to our successful global digital business and US sales operations, and we are excited to have him leading our efforts to further grow and diversify our physical and digital businesses".
Meanwhile over at Universal, they yesterday announced the appointed of Deborah Hyacinth to the London-based role of VP International Digital Marketing.
Hyacinth joins Universal from a digital role at EMI, and will report to the major's President Of Global Marketing Andrew Kronfeld who told CMU: "Digital music marketing in today's highly competitive marketplace demands agility, skill and experience - all qualities which Deborah has in abundance. She takes a key role in our dynamic worldwide marketing team, to make sure we continue to deliver what's best for our artists and repertoire".
JUSTIN VERNON FOUNDS RARITIES LABEL
Chigliak's first project will be a reissue of 'It's All Aquatic' by Amateur Love, as Vernon mentioned to Pitchfork last year.
TWITTER ANNOUNCES ECHO NEST AND GRACENOTE PARTNERSHIPS
Echo Nest will make such tweets available to app developers, while Gracenote will provide it as extra periphery content for digital music services. The first Gracenote customer to make official tweets available as music plays will likely be Omnifone's new streaming platform Rara.com.
Says Echo Nest CEO Jim Lucchese: "Twitter is arguably the most important and immediate artist-to-fan communication medium in the world. Until now, there was no simple way for developers to integrate musicians' tweets directly into their applications".
Says Gracenote President Stephen White: "This partnership means verified Twitter accounts can be distributed into a wide range of products and brands - from smart TVs and automotive infotainment systems to cloud music services and smartphones".
Which is all super. Of course if commercial enterprises start utilising celebrity tweets, it might reignite the debate as to whether big name tweeters should start to earn royalties for their micro-blogged intellectual property.
While Twitter's own commercial operations are pretty low-key, most celebs are happy to view the micro-blogging service as a useful free communication and promotional tool, but if the digital firm or third party partners start to find ways to monetise that content, more savvy artists - or their managers - might start to see tweeting as a potential new revenue stream.
MYSPACE ANNOUNCES RELAUNCH AS 'SECOND SCREEN' SERVICE
The service will launch on the new range of Panasonic internet-connected TVs - although it will also be available through other devices too - and will allow people to see what their friends are watching and discuss shows in real time.
So called 'second screening' has grown in popularity in recent years, as people in their thousands take to Twitter to discuss how rubbish 'X-Factor' is as they watch it, and to do the online version of shouting at the telly during 'Question Time'. MySpace isn't the first company to launch a service dedicated just to discussing TV - BSkyB this week bought a 10% stake in the longer established Zeebox - and they, like other start-ups in this area, will face the challenge of trying to attract people away from the Facebook and Twitter when they want to talk about their favourite shows.
MySpace will attempt to get around this problem by not focusing on live TV shows, and will instead only offer the service for discussing content hosted within its own system. Initially it will be music focussed, using the website's current licensing deals, which give it access to 100,000 music videos and 42 million songs. There are plans to add other types of TV shows and films into the system in the future though. This does, of course, mean that the new MySpace service's competitors aren't really less established brands, such as Zeebox, but more the likes of YouTube and Hulu.
Justin Timberlake thinks it's very exciting though: www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5Tn6qivYyY
LAST.FM LOSSES INCREASE
Of course few digital music platforms which aren't based around conventional a la carte download sales are making any money, in Europe or the US, though The Register has honed in on the CBS-owned Shoreditch-based Last.fm because it was used by David Cameron last year as a demonstration of all the vibrant digital entrepreneurialism going down in East London.
Some are cynical about how much the Coalition government has been hyping up Shoreditch as the home of some kind of digital-based economic revolution, and critical of how much government money is being pumped in to maintain the hype, arguing that many of the digital start-ups operating in the area will probably fail once venture capital runs out.
The Register seemingly sees Last.fm, one of East London's longest established digital start-ups, as an example of a company living on hype alone, noting that its original founders made millions when they sold out to CBS in 2007, but that it's still not clear how the digital service will ever make money long term, however much music fans still love to scrobble.
Read The Register piece here: www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/09/lastfm_accounts/
THIS JUST-IN: BIEBER PLANS TO STAY CLEAN CUT FOREVER
The Biebster says he is set on maintaining his clean cut image even as he becomes an adult, and doesn't see himself becoming a boozy party animal living the rock n roll lifestyle. No, he's aiming for something much more wholesome, you know, like his idol Michael Jackson.
The teen popster told V magazine: "I'm not going to try to conform to what people want me to be or go out there and start partying, have people see me with alcohol... I'm never going to make myself so the kids and the parents don't respect me. I want to be able to do what Michael did. He always sang clean lyrics, [so] little kids loved Michael and grandparents loved Michael. I don't want to start singing about things like sex, drugs and swearing. I'm into love, and maybe I'll get more into making love when I'm older. But I want to be someone who is respected by everybody".
So that's nice. Perhaps he could also follow in the footsteps of his hero and pen a song all about a slightly loony fan accusing him of fathering her child, though where would he find the inspiration for that sort of thing?
Of course, some might question aspiring to be the new Michael Jackson. It would be nice for Justin to be able to sing like MJ did at his peak (yeah, like that's going to happen), but isn't the Biebster worried that following his hero's career path might result in the personal life hardships Jackson suffered? No, says Bieber, cos his early rise to stardom hasn't resulted in a messed up childhood.
Says Bieber: "Michael had a really bad childhood. I was blessed with a great childhood. My mom loved me. My dad loved me. I'm now a teenager and I don't feel like I've missed out on anything in my life. I've gotten to experience everything I possibly could. I don't look back and think: 'Ugh, I wish I would have been able to do that'. Maybe [Jackson] missed out on a lot, so he tried to [re-live] his childhood when he was older. But I've got such good people around me, I'm not worried".