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OFFICE SPACE AVAILABLE IN SHOREDITCH
The Shoreditch Arch is a beautifully renovated railway arch situated behind Cargo night club on Rivington Street EC2A. It was unused until 2003 when it was transformed into stunning open plan office space and became home to the friendliest creatives in the whole of Shoreditch. [email protected] for more information.
AS ITS MERGER INVESTIGATION HEADS INTO PHASE TWO, EC OUTLINES SOME OF ITS SPECIFIC CONCERNS WITH UNIVERSAL'S EMI BID
The Commission told reporters: "[The] initial market investigation indicated that the proposed transaction may raise competition concerns in the wholesale of physical and digital recorded music in numerous Member States as well as in the European Economic Area as a whole, particularly in light of the merged entity's high market shares and increased market power".
Meanwhile the Commission's VP in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, added: "The proposed acquisition could reduce competition in the recorded music market to the detriment of European consumers. The Commission needs to make sure that consumers continue to have access to a wide variety of music in different physical and digital formats at competitive conditions".
Noting that the opening of the second phase of an investigation does not in itself "prejudge" the final result the EC will reach, the Commission confirmed the new phase will run for 90 days, meaning a decision should be made by 8 Aug.
Though, while not wanting to prejudge the phase two investigation, the EC did then outline some of its specific concerns about Universal's EMI bid, in particular the mega-major's "increased market power vis-à-vis its direct customers", adding in a statement: "At this stage of the investigation, the new entity, which would be almost twice the size of the next largest player in the EEA, would not appear to be sufficiently constrained by the remaining competitors on the market, by its customers' buyer power, and/or by the threat of illegal music consumption (so-called 'piracy')".
Needless to say, those who oppose the bid welcomed both the second phase investigation and the specific concerns raised by the EC in its statement.
Helen Smith, Executive Chair of pan-European independent labels trade body IMPALA told CMU: "We agree with the Commission's findings so far that Universal's increased power cannot be constrained by competitors, customers or piracy. This matches the experience of our members on the ground. Competition problems exist in the physical as well as the digital market, as the Commission recognised. We welcome the robust confirmation that the EC will 'make sure consumers continue to have access to a wide variety of music in different physical and digital formats at competitive conditions'".
Universal issued a simple statement on Friday confirming it had expected a two phase investigation in Europe, telling reporters: "Phase 2 was always expected; we recognise that the Commission needs time to fully review this transaction. We will continue to co-operate fully with them and look forward to a successful resolution of the process".
HMV RELOCATES MAIL-ORDER OPERATIONS FROM GUERNSEY TO BIRMINGHAM
As much previously reported, independent retailers who could never afford to set up mail-order ventures based offshore have long complained about the unfair advantage the so called Low Value Consignment Relief system gives the online-only start ups and bigger retail firms who can afford to exploit the tax dodge. Many feel the prolific use of the offshore tax break by some contributed to the collapse of many independent retail firms in the UK, and it hasn't helped the flagging HMV much either.
Because while HMV decided to join the LVCR party in 2005 - insisting it did so reluctantly just to compete - arguably by that point it had already lost out in terms of the online CD sales market to the likes of Play.com. And despite also being able to capitalise on the tax break in recent years, HMV has struggled to compete with its newer upstart competitors in mail-order, while its high street stores suffered big time from the plethora of cheaper stock available via the web.
As previously reported, earlier this month the governments of Jersey and Guernsey unsuccessfully tried to block the UK from removing LVCR from the Channel Islands on the grounds doing so was discriminatory.
They argued that because other non-EU countries would still benefit from LVCR, mail-order firms currently based in the English Channel would move to other tax efficient locations such as Switzerland, so the UK would not be better off, while Jersey and Guernsey would see unemployment rates shoot up. This was a concern also recently expressed by HMV boss Simon Fox, though his company will now relocate all its mail-order operations to a facility in Birmingham, with a statement noting the efficiencies that can be achieved by having all the firm's distribution operations in one place.
Those who have campaigned against the Channel Islands tax dodge argue that no other non-EU country is so logistically convenient for mail-order sales into the UK as Jersey and Guernsey, and that anyway, if all the mail-order firms move en masse to, say, Switzerland, there'll be an obligation on the UK government to end the relief system there too.
Of course all the mail-order companies and big retailers now expected to depart the Channel Islands do so after years of insisting they based themselves in the English Channel for reasons other than the tax breaks. HMV themselves insisted in 2005 that the VAT benefits were "just one aspect" of their decision to relocate their mail-order operations into the Channel, resulting in many redundancies back on the mainland, and that "the support businesses get in Guernsey is equally important".
EMI SETTLE WITH CASH MONEY RECORDS
As previously reported, earlier this month EMI filed court papers saying Cash Money owed it $491,000 in royalties relating to samples of music owned by the London-based major used on releases from the hip hop imprint. It now seems that claim related to an earlier legal squabble over samples that appeared on Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter III' album.
Anyway, the filing of court papers seems to have done the trick in what is definitely a long running dispute over sample royalty fees, with both parties issuing a joint statement to Billboard late last week that reads: "Cash Money Records and EMI Music Publishing have amicably settled EMI's recent lawsuit and their financial disputes on various record releases. The companies look forward to working together on future projects".
4AD SIGN SPACEGHOSTPURRP FOR NEW LP
4AD are tendering album track 'No Evidence' as proof of the deal, so download it for free here: widgets.beggarspromo.com/noevidence
KIWANUKA, GOTYE ON COMMUNION RECORDS COMPILATION
Michael Kiwanuka - Tell Me A Tale
DANNY BROWN LP GIVEN VINYL RELEASE FOR RECORD STORE DAY
Fools Gold, who oversaw the LP's original release, will distribute 1000 double 12-inch copies, with an extra 7-inch single version of the rapper's new track 'Grown Up' also available at selected outlets.
Though vinyl haters can already download the MP3 of that track for free here.
Meanwhile, go check this video of Brown talking with crazed Canadian muso Nardwuar at this month's SxSW festival.
MARILYN MANSON DETAILS JOHNNY DEPP-FEATURING LP
Mind duly boggled. But I'm still beholden to mention that 'Born Villain' is out on 30 Apr, and will carry this tracklisting:
Hey, Cruel World
And NB: Manson was last week seen mingling with a certain 'Video Games' singer-songwriter at Germany's Echo Music Awards, thus prompting this unprecedented assemblage of 'music personalities'.
SCARLET SOHO ANNOUNCE NEW EP
The band will also play two UK dates ahead of the release, taking in The Railway in Winchester on 11 May and London's Underbelly on 15 May.
HATCHAM SOCIAL TO PLAY FIERCE PANDA'S EIGHTEENTH BIRTHDAY PARTY
The party will also serve as the official post-release launch of Hatcham Social's second album 'About Girls', which is out 2 Apr.
SLAM DUNK FESTIVALS TO GO ON TOUR
The other live dates for Hit The Lights et al are as follows (and look Cardiff, you will get this line up a few days after Slam Dunk Wales - bonus!):
23 May: Newcastle, Trillians
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
PLAY FEST, Eccles Hall, Quidenham, Norfolk, 1-3 Jun: Scroobius Pip, Roots Manuva, Natty, Toddla T and Shy FX are new to proceedings at this year's Play Fest, with Little Comets, Zinc and Jaymo & Andy George also just joining previously announced Ash, Reverend and The Makers, The Pigeon Detectives, The Big Pink, The Correspondents and Spector. www.playfest.co.uk
V-DUB ISLAND, County Showground, Northwood, Isle of Wight, 2-5 Aug: Rob Da Bank stands atop V-Dub's 'Caribbean Christmas'-themed festival roster, as also features Dub Pistols, Ben Goddard, The Ohmz, Born In A Barn and Cooly Haste. www.v-dubisland.com
SONY PARTNER WITH RAW POWER ON NEW ROCK LABEL
Confirming the new label venture and Sony partnership, Raw Power CEO Craig Jennings told reporters last week: "Having grown up listening to so many great Sony artists, it's a great privilege to be starting a joint venture with [Sony UK chief] Nick Gatfield and his team that I look forward to lasting for many years to come. Some of my favourite artists and releases have been with Sony, including the Clash and Iggy And The Stooges, from whom we have borrowed the Search And Destroy moniker, it being the opening song on the classic 'Raw Power' album".
Gatfield added: "Craig Jennings is widely acknowledged as the industry's leading rock management and artist development expert - no one understands the artists, music and global marketing of the genre better. The creation of the Search & Destroy label is the natural extension and outlet for his knowledge and expertise and will undoubtedly be the leading rock label in the market. I'm delighted Craig has chosen Sony to partner with on the venture and I look forward to global success with him in the near future".
COACHELLA PROMOTER BUYS MORE OF THE FESTIVAL'S SITE
The promoter already has a long term lease on the neighbouring 280 acre Empire Polo Club, and the new acquisition means it now controls the whole site of the festival, which this year is taking place over two weekends.
Goldenvoice's Paul Tollett told Billboard that the land purchase will "help us put in some infrastructure so we don't have to keep coming back and doing the same things each year".
SPOTIFY BEGINS NEW FUNDING ROUND, COULD RESULT IN $3.5 BILLION VALUATION
Though, that said, according to Business Insider, some possible investors have balked at that valuation, especially given Spotify is so dependent on content it doesn't own and over which it has no exclusivity, and therefore declined on the offer to invest. But that's not to say there isn't some interest, even at that valuation, so the venture capital subsidy, received via Spotify, that is proving so useful to the major record companies just now could well continue for sometime yet.
BGT AHEAD OF THE VOICE IN LAUNCH NIGHT RATINGS
But according to the official stats, the first edition of 'BGT' for 2012, which sees Cowell himself return as a judge, was seen by 9.3 million viewers during its eighty minute time slot, while 'The Voice' pulled in 8.4 million viewers.
Though when the two shows went directly head to head for twenty minutes, 'The Voice' had more viewers than 'BGT', presumably because the BBC show aired first and was reaching its peak while the ITV programme was going through the customary introductory palaver.
As previously reported, when the schedules for this weekend's TV output were being put together it looked like 'The Voice' and 'BGT' could overlap by up to 45 minutes, but in the end the Beeb went a bit earlier than planned and ITV a bit later, thus reducing the actual crossover.
Both sides will probably be pleased with the first night performance of their Springtime talent contests, though whether that will stop the sniping between reps of the two rival programmes remains to be seen.
Cowell has thrown a few shots over at 'The Voice' camp in recent weeks, in the main questioning whether it's right for the BBC to spend over £20 million buying in an existing international TV format to take on his shows over on ITV.
Meanwhile, 'The Voice' judge Will.i.am, who previously appeared on the 'X-Factor' and now manages one time 'X' queen Cheryl Cole, this weekend dissed Cowell's record for supporting the acts that come through his telly talent show ventures, in particular criticising Team Syco for their work on the career of 2010 'X' finalist Cher Lloyd, who the Black Eyed Pea reckons should have had much more success since exiting the ITV show and signing to Cowell's label.
Perhaps she'd have got more out of the experience if she'd entered the competition with management in place, who could have coordinated things before, during and after her appearance on the ITV show.
Of course that's not previously been allowed under 'X-Factor' rules, partly to ensure an amateurs-only ethos, partly because acts with professional representation might be at an advantage when it comes hype building ahead of big viewer votes, and partly because the 'X' show's business partners want first dibs on any management contracts worth having amongst the contest's finalists.
But producers have revealed that from this year acts with managers already in place will be able to compete, which in theory could mean more established artists whose careers have waned, or which never really took off in the way they hoped, could appear. Which would certainly add to the freak show style curiosity shop element of the programme, especially during the earlier heats.
WILL RIHANNA AND CHRIS BROWN NOW REUNITE ON STAGE?
According to Australian news site NewsAU, management for the two artists have been considering another professional collaboration for the one time power couple of American pop, and feel that a duet at a festival outside the US might be the best option.
Both artists are seemingly set to appear at the Brisbane date of Supafest in their own right, Brown as a headliner, which has possibly caused the onstage reunion rumours. However, NewsAU cites sources as saying some kind of on stage reunion is a "definite possibility", though that any such collaboration "won't be decided until the last minute".
Of course there are many who are annoyed at the speed with which Brown has been rehabilitated by the American pop machine, which has been handing over awards and headline slots like they are going out of fashion, even though the star is still on probation for beating Rihanna unconscious in the street during the Grammy Weekend of 2009.
And while it's obviously great that Rihanna has been able to get her life back together after the assault, those critics fear that her helping her violent ex with that speedy rehabilitation sends out a bad message to other victims of domestic abuse around the world. Any on stage reunion is likely to push that debate to fever pitch.