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UNIVERSAL FILES ITS EMI BID WITH EUROPEAN REGULATORS
The major remains confident it can win approval from European regulators, despite EC officials having previously expressed concerns about the further consolidation of the music industry, and amidst strong opposition to the latest merger deal from both the independent sector and rival Warner Music, which will be dwarfed by a combined Universal EMI.
Universal will argue that the music industry has moved on hugely since the last time the EC considered the sector with the mergers of the Sony and BMG record companies and Universal and BMG publishing catalogues in 2004 and 2007 respectively; and that in the increasingly crucial digital domain pricing is basically controlled by the market leader download stores (Apple and Amazon), the indies have proven their ability to compete via Merlin, and Universal has a good record of licensing new digital ventures (albeit at a price).
Officially Universal expects both US and European regulators to pass its EMI deal without remedies, though most outsiders reckon that the EC, if only to be seen to do something, will demand the combined EMI/Universal offloads some of its assets in order to win deal approval, maybe a sizable chunk of catalogue (such as the Virgin divisions) and perhaps the VEVO business, through which Universal arguably controls an important route to market for content owners. A few in the indie sector, meanwhile, remain optimistic the deal may be blocked outright.
Sony/ATV is expected to submit its papers to EU regulators regarding its bid for EMI Music Publishing any day now too. In theory the two EMI deals can be considered separately, and many think Sony's acquisition might get approved faster, because the entertainment conglom only owns half of Sony/ATV, which in turn will not own EMI Music Publishing outright (the company is leading a consortium). That said, collecting societies, and to what extent European societies should compete, remains a hot topic for some EC officials, and such people are generally only concerned with the publishing sector's collecting agencies, and if the Sony/ATV deal gets caught up in all that, months could be added to the regulatory process.
So much so, it seems unlikely either of these deals are going to speed over the regulatory hurdles, however optimistic Universal, Sony and EMI's current owners Citigroup are that ultimately their proposals will get the nods they require. Meanwhile the US Federal Trade Commission is already underway with its investigation into the two EMI deals, and according to the FT officials there have just sent out a second call to the various parties for further information.
Whatever the outcome, expect some interesting exchanges between Universal, Sony, Warner and the indies in the coming months.
HOUSTON FUNERAL AND BURIAL TAKE PLACE
Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Roberta Flack and Chaka Khan were among the mourners at the service, which was presided over by Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick. R Kelly, Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder all sang, while Kevin Costner and record industry veteran Clive Davies were among those to deliver eulogies. A planned performance from Aretha Franklin did not go ahead, however, because the soul legend, and Houston's godmother, was unable to attend due to ill health.
Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown was not officially part of the proceedings, and indeed didn't even stick around to watch them. Despite reports he had been asked to stay away from the funeral, Brown did arrive, but left before the service began in a dispute over seating arrangements. It's thought there were disagreements about the seating of Brown's nine-man entourage, and the singer's demands to sit near his and Whitney's daughter Bobbi Kristina.
Yesterday, at a much more modest gathering, the singer was buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey, alongside her father John. As previously reported, Houston was found dead in a bath tub in an LA hotel room ahead of last weekend's Grammy Awards. The exact cause of her death is currently unknown, pending the result of toxicology tests.
US PROSECUTORS MAKE MORE MEGA ALLEGATIONS
According to Digital Music News, the latest court filings also make a number of claims about the Mega operations. First that the Mega service had 66.6 million registered users rather than the 180 million Team Mega claimed, and that 90% of those with accounts only used them to download content, not upload, suggesting that the vast majority of Mega users were using the service to access unlicensed music and movie files, and not to store, distribute or share their own content.
Some of the remaining 10%, meanwhile, only uploaded, suggesting they might have been part of the network of users rumoured to be incentivised by the Mega company to upload unlicensed files up to both the Mega video and file-transfer platforms, ensuring a steady supply of content for the 90% who only used the service to access free entertainment. Prosecutors also claim that not only were Team Mega downloading official music videos and TV shows from YouTube and uploading them to MegaVideo to bolster their content catalogues, they also nabbed user generated content from the Google-owned video service, so to give the impression Mega users were using the site to post their own UGC too.
Mega's lawyers are yet to respond to the latest allegations against the company's management. Four key execs, of course, are awaiting an extradition hearing in New Zealand. One more Mega operative has been arrested in Europe, while two other wanted former execs are still evading the authorities.
JACKSON ESTATE SUES KING OF POP'S FORMER MANAGER
The estate is suing Thome R Thome, the business advisor who was Jackson's quasi-manager in the last eighteen months of his life. Thome reckons he is owed fees from work he did for the pop star prior to his untimely demise in June 2009, and that he might be due a cut of money generated by the estate since the singer's death too. He last surfaced in 2010 demanding access to confidential contracts entered into by the estate, so he could work out whether he was due any commissions.
The estate seemingly concedes that Jackson did enter into various agreements with Thome in the last year of his life, in relation to the advisor's role in refinancing the then under threat Neverland ranch and negotiating the deal for the ill-fated 'This Is It' residency in London. But, the estate's executors argue, those contracts were "self-serving and unconscionable".
The estate's lawsuit wants those agreements declared void, Thome's claims to a share of estate revenues dismissed, and the return of various items belonging to the singer which the estate claims the former advisor is hanging on to.
Thome is yet to respond to the estate's claims, though it is thought he is already busying preparing his own lawsuit after over a year of negotiations with Jackson's executors failed to reach a conclusion, and the estate's own litigation is something of a pre-emptive strike.
NICK CANNON RESIGNS FROM RADIO SHOW, CITING ILL HEALTH
Cannon tweeted this last Friday: "A bitter sweet morning. I have to stop my radio show. Doctors' orders. The doctors said if I don't slow down and stop working so hard, then it's a wrap!"
He also issued this on-air statement during his final show: "I have been asked to put my health first and cut back on some of my professional commitments in order to allow my body to get the rest that it needs to keep up with the demands of a multi-tasking schedule. Even Superman has to sleep".
Cannon was hospitalised last month with mild kidney failure, having fallen ill whilst over the Christmas period. He subsequently underwent an operation in LA, and was released to recuperate at home. It's thought he may also be forced to quit his other high-profile post as compere of 'America's Got Talent', though the 31 year old insists he'll continue to present CBS syndicate 'Cannon's Countdown' each weekend.
MC5'S MICHAEL DAVIS 1943-2012
Davis joined MC5 in Detroit in the mid-60s when they were still developing their sound, and played on the band's three albums, 'Kick Out The Jams', 'Back In The USA' and 'High Time', released in 1969, 1970 and 1971 respectively.
He was forced out of the group in 1972 as he struggled with heroin addiction, though the band quickly fell apart after his departure anyway. Aside from a time in jail for drug offences, Davies pursued a number of other musical and visual art projects over the years, playing with both Destroy All Monsters and Blood Orange for a time, before reuniting with the surviving MC5 members for a reunion in 2003/4.
In 2006 Davis suffered injuries in a serious motorcycle crash, and after that was inspired to form a non-profit organisation with his wife Angela called The Music Is Revolution Foundation which supported music education programmes in schools, especially for those students who struggle in the school system.
He died at the Enloe Medical Center in California on Friday after receiving a month of treatment for liver disease. He is survived by his wife, their three sons, and a daughter from a previous marriage.
LANA DEL REY HAS "THREE CDS' WORTH OF SONGS WRITTEN", SAYS POLYDOR MAN
Describing Del Rey as "a really talented writer and a remarkable lyricist", Hamilton has told MTV: "She had three CDs' worth of songs written, with loads of brilliant tracks. Enough for us to do the album and a deluxe edition and still have stuff left for later records".
Del Rey, however, has previously said she's not keen on making a sequel to 'Born To Die', despite the LP becoming the fastest selling album of the year upon its release earlier this month. "I don't think I'll write another record. What would I say?" she asks of Vogue. "I feel like everything I wanted to say, I've said already".
DRY THE RIVER ANNOUNCE SHEPHERDS BUSH BOOKING
NIKI AND THE DOVE DETAIL DEBUT ALBUM, TOUR
Now for a screening of the animated video for 'The Fox', which is out now as a single and also features on 'Insight'. You'll find it underneath these Niki And The Dove dates:
27 Apr: Sheffield, Bungalow & Bears
KEANE KEEN TO TOUR FORTHCOMING LP
It's thought the band will use said run as an opportunity to debut songs from the as-yet unnamed successor to their 2008 album 'Perfect Symmetry'. And if they don't do that, I'll eat my hat.
23 May: Newcastle, Academy
CAMDEN CRAWL LAUNCHES SISTER EVENT IN DUBLIN
Yes, a new spin-off from the North London multi-venue festival will launch in Dublin this May, taking place in fifteen venues between the city's Camden Street and Temple Bar on 11 and 12 May. The new festival will be sponsored by phone firm Meteor, whose name will be included in the title. Bands already confirmed to play include Alarmist, Becoming Real, Clock Opera, Dutch Uncles, D/R/U/G/S, Hands Up Who Wants To Die, Jogging, LaFaro and Laura Sheeran.
Says Meteor's Retail Marketing Manager John Anslow: "Meteor is a brand with a long standing association with music and Irish music in particular. Supporting emerging talent is key for us and this partnership will bring with it the opportunity to showcase some of our country's best musicians whilst creating an affordable live music event".
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MIAMI DANCE FEST GOES GLOBAL
The Miami edition in March is set to include performances from Kraftwerk, New Order, Justice, Tiësto, Fatboy Slim, Avicii, David Guetta, M83, Flux Pavilion, Kaskade, Bassnectar, Chase & Status, SBTRKT and Flying Lotus.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
2000TREES, Upcote Farm, Withington, Gloucestershire, 12-14 Jul: Friday headliners 65daysofstatic stand foremost in a horde of brand new bookings, with Pulled Apart By Horses, The Xcerts, Rolo Tomassi, Brontide and Johnny Foreigner also amongst those newly set to join longer-standing line-up fixtures like Imperial Leisure, Tall Ships, Tellison and Straight Lines. www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk
BEVERLEY FESTIVAL, Beverley, Hull, Yorkshire, 15-17 Jun: Festival bosses give a boost to early bird ticket sales with the announcement that Beverley's premier acoustic roots roster will be headlined by none other than Peatbog Faeries, folk-rock icons Steeleye Span, and Joe Brown, with sets from Chumbawumba, Furnace Mountain and tipped Americana band Ahab also on the cards. www.beverleyfestival.com
INDIETRACKS, Butterley Station, Derbyshire, 6-8 Jul: Tender Trap, Veronica Falls and Britpop legends Dodgy lead the first acts confirmed for this intimate outdoor happening, which will also see performances from Allo Darlin, Tigercats, The June Brides, Language Of Flowers and Evans The Death. www.indietracks.co.uk
JUBILEE FAMILY FESTIVAL, Hyde Park, London, 2-3 Jun: Taking place, quite fittingly it seems, over HRH's forthcoming Diamond Jubilee weekend, this Sainsburys-sponsored bash will host a family-focused concert that climaxes with some sort of Disney spectacular. More artists are due to be announced in the coming weeks. www.sainsburys.co.uk/jubilee
NEW SERIES OF CMU TRAINING COURSES BEGINS, PLUS SURVEY
Five new programmes are being considered, and the team would like the industry's input on them - and to that end a very short questionnaire has been posted here, which should take no more then 60 seconds to complete: www.thecmuwebsite.com/trainingsurvey
Says CMU Publisher and Business Editor Chris Cooke: "Most music business professionals learn on the job, and while that real world experience is invaluable, sometimes it's good to step back and think about our industry in a more structured way, and to focus on those parts of the business that are less familiar. This is particularly true when shifts in the sector mean that everyone now needs a better understanding of how the various different parts of the industry, not to mention all the new digital platforms, work. Our training courses have already enabled hundreds of music people to do just that, and the new courses we are developing will help even more".
Each of the existing CMU courses has an upcoming date, with one-day courses covering music rights (29 Feb), revenue streams, investment models and artist deals (14 Mar) and music PR and social media promotions (28 Mar). These one-day courses (11am-6pm) take place in Shoreditch and are just £95 plus VAT. Information and bookings at www.thecmuwebsite.com/training/
ABBEY ROAD SEMINARS TO CHART STUDIO'S HISTORY
While gaining insight into Abbey Road's eighty year history through rarely seen photographs, instruments, studio equipment and archive tapes, visitors will also imbibe two hour's worth of wisdom courtesy of Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, both experts on EMI heritage and authors of 'Recording The Beatles'.
Limited tickets for the talks, which take place at Abbey Road's between 9-11 Mar and 23-25 Mar, are priced at £75 per person and available to purchase here: www.seetickets.com/Tour/ABBEY-ROAD-STUDIOS
Further information on the content of the talk can be found here: www.abbeyroad.com/News/Article/228/80-Years-of-Recording-at-Abbey-Road-Studios
DOMINO RETURNS TO EMUSIC IN THE US
Confirming Domino was now back on board, eMusic chief Adam Klein told Billboard: "We're excited to have Domino as a US label partner. Domino has performed consistently well on eMusic over the past few weeks. Their artists, like Real Estate, The Kills, and Laura Marling, are all artists that our members love".
Meanwhile Music Week reports that Klein now hopes to strike up new deals with Beggars and Merge, the other indies which left eMusic in 2010.
SUN ON SUNDAY TO LAUNCH NEXT WEEKEND
And while News International bosses presumably thought last August - a logical time to launch a Sunday Sun as the new football season always results in a sales spike for the weekend tabloids - was slightly too soon to go live with the new title, given the political sensitivities around the events that led to the closure of the NOTW, seemingly seven months is sufficient for us all to forgive and forget. Oh well, at least it means the new Sun On Sunday will be able to cover Charlotte Church's phone hacking lawsuit when it reaches court in the next few weeks.
News International, of course, registered a handful of relevant internet domains for the Sun On Sunday within 48 hours of announcing the News Of The World would close when the phone hacking scandal went nuclear last summer (it can't use the name Sunday Sun because there already is a newspaper using that name the North East of England). And while for some time News International insisted no actual plans for a Sunday edition of The Sun were being actively considered, rumours that said plans were now very much underway escalated in recent weeks.
Then Rupert Murdoch told his staff on Friday that a Sun On Sunday launch was imminent, and that was translated into "we launch next weekend" late last night, with The Sun splashing the news it would now have a Sunday edition as its front page story today, rather amusingly billed as "another Sun exclusive".
There's an interesting back story to all this, in that the prospect of News International launching a Sunday edition of The Sun was on the agenda a long time before the phone hacking scandal caused the NOTW to close.
With print edition sales plummeting, ad revenues wobbling, and websites generating traffic but not serious income, all newspaper groups are looking for major savings at the moment, and ending the luxury of having separate editorial teams for daily and Sunday editions of the same title is a logical way to go, even if a Sunday newspaper arguably has a different feel and role to a daily, which is possible mainly because it is produced by a team working on a seven day rather than 24 hour production cycle.
As a result, all newspaper owners have been slowly integrating elements of the teams who produce their respective daily and Sunday editions. Doing so, though, is plagued with internal politics, and is all the more tricky for those papers whose Sunday titles have a totally different brand name (so The Sun/News Of The World and The Guardian/The Observer). Former News International chief Rebekah Brooks - axed for her role overseeing the phone hackers during her time editing NOTW - had been busy grappling with how to merge her company's two tabloids before the Hackgate scandal exploded, taking the Sunday paper and her CEO job with it.
Although closing the News Of The World in the way News International did last July was both expensive and embarrassing, and arguably didn't diffuse the hacking scandal in the way the newspaper company clearly hoped it would, there is a big up side. It has enabled the creation of a seven-day-a-week tabloid, allowing News International to try to claw back a share of the Sunday newspaper market, but without the cost of operating two stand-alone titles - and without going through the time consuming and costly process of merging the two paper's teams in an organic way.
Ironically, Murdoch presented the launch of a Sunday edition of The Sun as a positive to the paper's staff on Friday, a vote of confidence to boost morale after a number of arrests of key Sun journalists over allegations they paid police officers for stories; arrests enabled by the assistance of a new standards unit at NI, which has a brief to help uncover and expose past dodgy activities at the newspaper firm in a bid to repair the reputation of News Corp's UK division.
It's a clever move - assuming any Sun journalists buy it - because by all rights Murdoch should be apologising to his staff for forcing them to produce an extra edition every week, without the full resources and budget that were previously made available to the NOTW. But instead the launch of the Sun On Sunday has been spun as something journalists there should be celebrating, because it shows the news mogul's "unwavering support" for the title.
Quite what form the Sun On Sunday will take remains to be seen, though Murdoch himself is expected to stay in London this week to oversee its launch, and Fabulous magazine - the former NOTW supplement that has been included with the Saturday Sun since that paper's demise - is expected to return to the Sunday slot.
If the Sun On Sunday can woo those former News Of The World readers who didn't immediately switch to a rival title (which is the majority of them, the Mirror and Daily Star Sunday did see a post-NOTW circulation uplift, but many of the 2.7 million people who bought the former Sunday were unaccounted for), it will be good news for those in consumer and entertainment PR whose clients, while never too keen to be on the receiving end of NOTW hate, recognised the influence the tabloid had on a large audience, making it a useful tool when it was being positive about your products or people.
JAZZ STATION ACCIDENTALLY AIRS FIVE MINUTES OF PORN
What was apparently the soundtrack of an adult movie, and not some rather inappropriate studio activities (for 7.15pm, certainly), aired in the background as music played on the jazz station on Saturday evening, but high enough in the mix for everyone listening to notice, with many taking to Twitter to air bemusement, amusement or disgust.
Jazz FM quickly issued an apology, saying in a statement: "Unfortunately we had an unauthorised access to the live feed this evening which resulted in a highly regrettable incident. Please accept our profound and sincere apologies for any offence that may have been caused".
Meanwhile 'Funky Sensation' host Mike Vitti was quoted by Radio Today as saying: "There was unauthorised activity and behaviour in the studio which we take very seriously and we will be taking the appropriate disciplinary action against the individual concerned. In addition I will apologise to the Jazz FM audience at the beginning of next week's programme".
Needless to say, the Radiofail website can be relied upon to show us what quality jazz-based radio with added porn sounds like: radiofail.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/studio-porn-fail/