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UNIVERSAL TO SELL THREE PUBLISHING CATALOGUES
According to the FT, a catalogue of classical works, another of gospel music, and a third of German schlager music, are all on the block, with Bank Of America Merrill Lynch coordinating the sale. Around twelve bidders have already expressed an interest, including BMG (and possibly Imagem Music - they'd likely bid)
When Universal announced last November that it had reached a deal with EMI owners Citigroup to buy the music major's record companies it said it planned to fund some of the deal by selling off existing periphery assets. That will reduce the burden of the ambitious acquisition on parent company Vivendi, who are very sensitive about losing their cherished triple-B credit rating.
Of course Universal may also be forced to sell off some of its existing assets, or some of EMI's label assets, in order to get regulator approval of its latest takeover bid. As previously reported, the European Commission's investigation into Universal's takeover proposals has just entered a second phase, and regulator enquiries are ongoing in the US too.
So far Universal has resisted the temptation of offering concessions to allay the fears expressed by critics of its EMI deal, believing the acquisition could be approved on both sides of the Atlantic without so called remedies being enforced.
And the sale of three publishing catalogues is clearly about revenue generation rather than placating critics, given competition regulators will focus in the main on the impact a combined Universal/EMI record company will have on the sound recordings marketplace, even though Universal's music publishing business is also a major player - because, of course, that bit of Universal's business will not grow as part of the EMI deal.
Ironically, Universal reducing the size of its publishing assets might be more relevant to the investigation into Sony/ATV's bid to buy EMI Music Publishing, which will create a powerhouse in the music publishing domain.
Universal Music Publishing will remain a formidable competitor to the combined Sony/ATV/EMI - which Sony will surely point out when defending its latest attempt to grow its music assets - though it will be slightly less formidable post this proposed $200 million sale, making Sony/ATV/EMI look even more dangerously dominant, especially in the collecting society world.
Universal has so far not officially commented on the publishing catalogues sale.
GLOBAL RECORD SALES REVENUE DOWN AGAIN, BUT DECLINE SLOWED
So that's nice. Other stats in the latest IFPI report include that physical sales worldwide slumped 8.7%, but an 8% boost in digital income helped limit the impact overall of the continued slow death of the CD. Meanwhile, the often-exaggerated but nevertheless significant revival of vinyl means that it now accounts for about 1% of global record sales.
For the first time the IFPI also published figures for its members' sync revenues, which brought in $342 million globally in 2011 (though the addition of that extra revenue stream was accommodated in the overall decline stat), while the public performance royalties generated by sound recordings worldwide were also up, by 4.9% to $862m.
Commenting on the latest stats, IFPI's Frances Moore told reporters: "Music today is delivered through an unprecedented variety of channels. At the same time, record companies have expanded their operations into new markets and broadened their skill set and the services they offer to artists. More than at any time in its history, diversification is the byword for the recording industry today".
The IFPI stats report also lists the best selling albums of 2011 worldwide, which is unsurprisingly topped by Adele's '21', with Michael Buble's 'Christmas' and Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' following in positions two and three respectively.
And if you prefer countries to appear in your charts, IFPI also revealed the list of biggest music markets, with the US still top (its revenues holding more or less steady after several years of decline as digital income beat physical for the first time - just), Japan second and Germany holding on to third place, having pushed the good old UK into fourth place last year.
BOBBY WOMACK FIGHTING CANCER
Writing on Facebook, Collins confirmed Womack was in hospital fighting pneumonia, later adding: "I just spoke to our friend Bobby Womack. He wanted you all to know that he loves you & thxs for the prayers. Docs says he is in 1st stage of colon cancer, he is very up beat about his future, we laughed & joked before we hung up".
As previously reported, Womack is set to release his first new material since 1994 later this year, with a new album called 'The Bravest Man In The Universe', produced by Damon Albarn and Richard Russell and released via the latter's XL Recordings label.
GIT AWARD SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED
Coming up, the shortlist, as selected by a panel of national and local journalists and music types from 380 entries, but first a quote from Getintothis writer and GIT Award founder Peter Guy, who tells CMU: "The first GIT Award shortlist highlights the wealth of new musical talent within Merseyside. The artists are ambitious and inventive, emotional and passionate, funny and profound. They evoke a sense of time and place, providing a wonderful snapshot of Merseyside's varied sonic landscape proving why Liverpool is still the centre of the music universe".
And the shortlist goes as follows: Bang On, Ex-Easter Island Head, Forest Swords, Loved Ones, Miss Stylie, Mugstar, Outfit, Ninetails, Bill Ryder-Jones, Stealing Sheep, The Tea Street Band and Esco Williams.
SIGUR RÓS READY STUDIO ALBUM
Release-wise it trails last year's 'Inni', a live DVD and album chronicling the two Alexandra Palace dates that formed a finale to the band's last world tour.
Here's a tracklisting for the new record. You can preview a sepia-toned visual for component track 'Ekki Múkk' at sigur-ros.co.uk
MAROON FIVE EXPOSE 'POPPIER' NEW LP
Available as of 26 Jun, the record has seen Team Maroon embrace a "collaborative spirit within the band", working with super-producers Max Martin, Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco, and employing outside songwriters in an attempt to "mix up [their] process".
Oft-topless frontman Adam Levine says this: "We wanted to make something that sounded contemporary with the elements of a lot of early eras of pop music. This is our most 'pop' record ever and we weren't shy about really going for it".
Who knows, with Adam and co's grand pop reinvention to concentrate on, there's a chance the previously reported Levine-Bieber supergroup dream might languish, forever unrealised, in a darkened LA studio... forever. Let's all pray for that chance.
LIARS LP ACQUIRES RELEASE DATE
Part written and recorded in a remote cabin - aka The Bon Iver Method - the self-made LP features additional production from Mute Records founder Daniel Miller.
Still without a title, it's set for release via Mute on 4 Jun, the same week the band play London's Field Day Festival (2 Jun). Liars have also just announced live dates at the London-based XOYO on 12 Jun, and Manchester's Ruby Lounge on 15 Jun.
WEIRD DREAMS STREAM ALBUM
The band, who play a gratifying line in harmonic psych-pop, will play the LP's official launch party on 6 Apr at Stoke Newington's The Others.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BELSONIC, Custom House Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 15-26 Aug: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds are the latest act added to this Belfast festival programme. Also playing concerts beneath the Belsonic banner are Tom Jones, Skrillex, Emeli Sande, David Guetta, Two Door Cinema Club, James Morrison and joint headliners The Darkness and Thin Lizzy. belsonic.co.uk
BLISSFIELDS, Woodmancott, Hampshire, 29 Jun - 1 Jul: With recent additions Noisettes, Patrick Wolf, Spector, Man Like Me, AlunaGeorge and Charli XCX all poised to delight family crowds at Blissfields 2012, this festival's vibrant three-day bill also features Imperial Leisure, Subgiant and Sean McGowan. blissfields.co.uk
BRAINLOVE FESTIVAL, Brixton Windmill, London, 26 May: Discerning London independent Brainlove Records has come up a with a storming initial line-up for its fifth namesake festival. Noteworthy acts amid a bill of "exciting new underground and leftfield music" are the most excellent Bleeding Heart Narrative, Mat Riviere and Female band, with noise duo Crushed Beaks and prolific fuzz-pop soloist Keel Her also set to perform across the festival's twin indoor and outdoor stages. www.facebook.com/events/419356751413261
ELECTRIC ELEPHANT, The Garden Tisno, Petrica Glava, Croatia, 12-16 Jul: Trevor Jackson, Lone, DJ Deep, Marcellus Pittman and Loud-E serve to further swell Electric Elephant's 2012 programme, with Michael Mayer, Andrew Weatherall, Chris Duckenfield, Ewan Pearson, Optimo and Feel My Bicep also booked for this beat-centric Croation bash. www.electricelephant.co.uk
GHOSTFEST, Leeds University Students Union, Leeds, 30 Jun - 1 Jul: The Black Dahlia Murder, The Bridal Procession, Last Witness, No Turning Back and Desolated are new to feature amid Ghostfest's supernaturally strong rock roster, joining the aforementioned Emmure, All Shall Perish, Comeback Kid, Defeater, Prowler, All Teeth, Silent Screams, Departures and Continent. www.impericon.com/uk/ghostfest.html
LARMER TREE, Larmer Tree Gardens, Salisbury, Dorset, 11-15 Jul: An eclectic late list of those destined to play Larmer Tree, as organisers confirm Raghu Dixit, Smerins Anti-Social Club, Morning Rush and The Wishbones for this Dorset-based weekend fest. The established bill also includes Jools Holland, Levellers, Amadour & Mariam and musi-comedy virtuoso Tim Minchin. www.larmertreefestival.co.uk
STOCKTON WEEKENDER, Stockton Riverside Park, 3-5 Aug: The Pogues confirm Stockton as their sole appearance this year, headlining a bill that includes fellow fresh inductees Willy Mason, Hyde & Beast, and old hands We Are Scientists, The Go! Team and Ocean Colour Scene's Simon and Oscar. www.stocktonweekender.co.uk
WAY OUT WEST, Gothenburg, Sweden, 9-11 Aug: Hot Chip prove noteworthy additions to the Way Out West roster at large, sharing sterling line-up space with the previously announced likes of Blur, The Black Keys, Bon Iver, Azealia Banks, Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, St Vincent, Iceage, Mazzy Star, Korallreven and King Krule. www.wayoutwest.se
WIDE DAYS REVEALS FOCUS ON MUSIC TOURISM
Co-organiser Olaf Furniss told CMU: "There are many areas where the music and tourism sectors complement each other and there is huge potential for closer cooperation. We aim to highlight some exciting collaborations and the programme is designed to be of use to everyone from emerging artists seeking new audiences, to state tourism organisations".
In addition to the conference bit, on Thursday their will be a number of showcases featuring six emerging Scottish acts and Norwegian band Honningbarna. For more info check www.widedays.com
CMU TRAINING TEAM OFFER A FEW MORE COPYRIGHT INSIGHTS
Says CMU Publisher Chris Cooke: "Artists might not like to admit it, but the minute they write or record a song they are in the copyright business, and the copyrights they are creating might just be what provides them with a living for the rest of their lives".
He adds: "As a branch of intellectual property law, copyright is quite a dry topic, but as a key revenue generator for artists they and everyone who works with them really ought to understand the basics of how music rights work - preferably before they sign them all away to someone else! The CMU Training tips offer a few helpful insights, and our one-day Music Rights course tells you all the basic information you need to know about managing, monetising and protecting your copyrights".
The latest copyright tips can be accessed via the Tips Library section at www.thecmuwebsite.com/training, while details of the Music Rights course, the next edition of which is on 11 Apr, are available here.
AIR AND JETHRO TULL ADDED TO OPENEMI
As previously reported, OpenEMI is a joint venture between the music major and digital company The Echo Nest, and provides a network of independent app developers with access to a vast array of content which they can play with when developing digital music products. There is then the option to submit new apps to the OpenEMI team, who may be able to help with content licensing and marketing if and when the application is taken to market.
In the latest content additions to OpenEMI, developers will have access to all sorts of catalogue music content plus videos, artwork and photos from both Air and Jethro Tull, the latter also including pre-release audio from new record 'Thick As A Brick 2', a new follow up to their seminal 1972 concept album.
Confirming the new additions, EMI's VP Digital Projects Neil Tinegate told CMU: "We are pleased to be able to offer content from Air and Jethro Tull to developers through our OpenEMI platform today. It demonstrates how OpenEMI can benefit artists from different genres and backgrounds, and we look forward to bringing some highly creative and innovative products to the market".
PIRATE BAY LINKS BLOCKED BY MICROSOFT'S IM
A spokesman for the company told The Register: "We block instant messages if they contain malicious or spam URLs based on intelligence algorithms, third-party sources, and/or user complaints. Pirate Bay URLs were flagged by one or more of these and were consequently blocked".
Although The Register concedes that torrent sharing sites (not that TPB technically shares torrents anymore, but this still applies) do have a not insignificant role in the distribution of so called malware (so viruses and such like), the IT website wonders why the Bay has been specifically targeted by Microsoft's malware blockers, when it's record in this domain isn't really any better or worse that its competitors.
Notes The Register: "In singling out this target, [Microsfot] is opening itself up to claims that it is joining the global jihad against Pirate Bay - certainly its lack of explanation for targeting just that the site and not others indicates this".
WHAT IMPACT IS NEW LOOK FACEBOOK HAVING ON BAND PAGES?
As previously reported, while for normal users the switch from the old Facebook profile format to the new timeline isn't too drastic (after all, for most users few other people are actually interested in looking at their profile page anyway), for those that use a Facebook Page as a key online destination for fans, it's flipping irritating that said fans will now always be presented with the default timeline. Previously artists and brands could dictate that the default landing screen was a plug in over which they had more control in terms of promoting content, products and sign up.
As Facebook starts to make the timeline format compulsory, Digital Music News has been looking at what impact the shift has had on the use, by fans, of artists' apps that are hosted within the social network, and which would previously have been said artists' landing pages. And it makes for gloomy reading for those who were relying on those apps for engaging fans.
Of course you could argue that artists using such apps, and the makers of the technology they employ, are still on a learning curve regards how to maximise the potential of the new look Facebook. Though some pessimists reckon that, even if lessons are learned, the new look Facebook pages will never be as effective as the old design.
RADIO 2 RECRUIT DAVE PEARCE
Says Radio 2 of its new 'Dave Pearce: Dance Years' show, set to air on Saturday nights at 10pm from 14 Apr: "Alongside the latest tracks currently on the UK's dance floors, Dave will play new dance mixes, club classics from the noughties and 90s, and he will also uncover some lesser-known hidden gems from the 70s and 80s. Plus in a disco-tastic flashback, he'll provide a slow jam track to stir up those last dance memories". Fun times.
1D MUM DEALS WITH TWITTER ABUSE
But let's be honest, if there is just one single thing that Facebook and Twitter have unequivocally confirmed, it's that a lot of young pop fans are self-centred, whiney, bitches with no sense of proportion and only a limited grip on reality.
It's the hormones probably. I'm sure the Bieber/Brown/1D fans are no more or less crazy than those teenage girls (and there's plenty of obnoxious guys on the social networks, but most of the crazy teen pop fans are girls) than those who, in days gone by, obsessed over N Sync, New Kids, Bros, Wham, The Bay City Rollers, The Osmonds and/or the early career Beatles.
It's just that former fans of those old groups don't have Facebook timelines to record for eternity all their insane declarations of unrequited love, insistences that their hero's particular Autotuned take on 'Guetta Standard Seven' is some sort of musical genius, and unsavoury insults and death threats against detractors or those closer to their idols.
What fun today's generation of pop fan teens will have in 15 years times, scrolling down their Facebook page or Twitter stream and recalling how they once called Harry Styles' mum a big boobed bitch. Happy days.
Actually, in this case it was a One Direction hater who recently sent some Twitter bile to Style's mother Anne Cox, though the pop haters are often as crazy as the fans (and the hate for one pop act frequently stems from a love for another). In the latest Twitter insult to be sent to a 1D family member or girlfriend, tweeter @1DAreShit told Cox "I hope you'll die because you are a bitch. Harry's mum has big boobs and a big bottom she looks like a bitch".
We only report on this here because we are proposing that Cox's reply becomes the default response to any pop-related Twitter insult - she responded simply "I hope you find inner peace someday". Which isn't as snappy as "oh fuck off", but does the job much better we think.