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OFFICE SPACE AVAILABLE IN SHOREDITCH
KEY MAMA DIRECTORS TO DEPART AS HMV SALE GOES THROUGH THE MOTIONS
As much previously reported, HMV announced it was undertaking a 'strategic review' of the MAMA Group late last year, which basically meant the company, acquired by the flagging retailer in 2010, was up for sale. It was no secret that HMV needed to raise further cash to reduce its debt liabilities with increasingly nervous bankers, and a MAMA sale was always on the cards, though it's thought some of the live firm's directors were annoyed at the speed with which the sale was announced - amidst reports of further disappointing pre-Christmas sales figures on the high street - and have become increasingly concerned at the way the bidding process is being handled.
As a result three directors are seemingly departing the company, impacting on two key parts of the MAMA business: sponsorship and artist management. In the former domain, there was chatter online last week that Rory Bett, the founder and MD of MAMA's all important sponsorship business Music & Media Solutions, had tendered his resignation. Meanwhile rumour has it two key players from the company's SuperVision management agency also plan to leave the company later this month, and MAMA's artist management unit is likely to be wound down as a result.
While that still leaves the larger venue and festivals side of the company, if key execs there were also to leave the buyers of MAMA might find themselves in the situation Terra Firma created at EMI - ie without the key people who have provided the personal links to artists and managers (and in MAMA's case agents and festival partners) over the years, it becomes increasingly hard to secure the artistic talent required for success. Sources close to the GAY enterprise, in which MAMA is a shareholder, say management there, led by founder Jeremy Joseph, are already reviewing their options in case their personal contacts within the MAMA empire leave during any sale.
Of course some buyers - including AEG and at least one other London theatre owner thought to be bidding - might only be interested in the MAMA venue real estate, and in particular the Hammersmith Apollo. But for other bidders - possibly including Sony, whose interest likely goes beyond buildings - losing key executives in booking, sponsorship and management, and the impact that could have on partnerships with profitable brands like GAY, could be an issue.
Some other MAMA directors are still expected to make a bid themselves for some or all of the company and, as previously reported, there has been speculation that AEG might bid for the bigger venues, leaving the rest of the group to be sold as a standalone entity, though it's not clear whether such a split sale has been formally proposed by any of the bidders to date. It's thought second stage bids should be filed with HMV later this month.
CORONER REPORTS ON HOUSTON DEATH
An autopsy report published last month revealed Houston died of accidental drowning due to the effects of cocaine and heart disease, and yesterday's statement from the LA coroner's office confirmed both cocaine and marijuana were in the singer's system at the time of her death. The new report also reveals that Houston had a perforated nose, indicating substance abuse, that it was filled with a bloody discharge, and that the water she drowned in was extremely hot - 34 degrees celsius six hours after her death.
Houston was alone at the time of her death, a personal assistant having gone out to a local department store to pick up some items for the singer's planned appearance at a pre-Grammys party that night. The assistant found the singer's naked body face down in the bathtub on her return.
That Houston battled with drug addiction was no secret, of course, and when last month's autopsy report was released, the singer's sister-in-law and manager Patricia Houston told reporters simply: "We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure".
MERLIN SETTLES WITH SIRIUS
The record labels argued that the so called Stiletto device distributed by Sirius was not covered by the radio service's broadcast licences, because it was basically offering an on-demand music platform. XM also had a similar product called Inno. The majors settled with the radio firms between 2007 and 2008, but Merlin pursued its own class action litigation on behalf of both its members and the indie label community at large. The XM Inno dispute was settled last year, and an agreement was reached regards Stiletto earlier this week.
Confirming the settlements, Merlin chief Charles Caldas told CMU: "At a time where market consolidation is swallowing up more independent interests, delivering even more power into the hands of the largest major labels, adding this settlement to the growing list of litigation successes achieved by Merlin on behalf of its members is gratifying. Actions such as this further underline the enormous value that Merlin provides to the ever growing list of independents that have chosen to enhance their business by joining our organisation".
The settlement with Merlin follows news last month that Sirius had filed a complaint with the US courts about both SoundExchange, the digital royalties body that licences sound recordings to online and satellite radio services in America, and the American Association Of Independent Music. The satellite broadcaster says it would rather deal directly with the record companies when negotiating licences, but that the two bodies were "impeding" those efforts and that that, in their view, contravenes anti-trust rules in the US.
THE KING BLUES SPLIT
In a statement, the band said: "We simply feel we have taken things as far as they can go and it would be unfair on you if we were to go through the motions like so many other artists do. We all believe strongly in what The King Blues stands for".
'Long Live The Struggle' is currently scheduled for release in early July.
SETH LAKEMAN SIGNS TO SONY/ATV
Sony/ATV consultant Alan Bambrough, who brokered the deal, told CMU: "I've been a fan of Seth's music for many years, so it's great to be able to bring him here. The new album is superb and his ideas for future collaborations are very exciting".
Rakesh Sanghvi, Sony/ATV's UK MD, added: "I'm delighted to have the chance to work with such a super talented artist. Seth is a fantastic addition to our great team of writers".
Lakeman release his new album 'Tales From The Barrel House' this week. Listen to first single, 'More Than The Money', which was recorded in a 200 foot deep mine, here: soundcloud.com/proper-music-distribution/seth-lakeman-more-than-money-1
He has also just announced tour dates for October, which look like this:
10 Oct: Basingstoke, The Anvil
U2 WORKING WITH ONE DIRECTION SONGWRITER
Falk told The Sun: "There's a long way to go but we are doing something with U2".
As previously reported, producers RedOne and Danger Mouse also contributed to the album, though its release was pushed back to the end of this year and RedOne's work was seemingly ditched last summer after those sessions didn't turn out as hoped. At the time Adam Clayton told Rolling Stone: "We have to focus on what we do best, and the work we did with Danger Mouse came closest to that. We want to be in the clubs and make pop music as well as the thing U2 does, but in the end, the thing we did with RedOne doesn't feel like the right fit".
In other U2 news, Bono and The Edge have invested in file-transfer service Dropbox. The pair apparently met the company's founders when they were developing online music service iLike, which was recently closed down by its eventual owner MySpace.
PETE DOHERTY PREPARING NEW SOLO ALBUM
Doherty said: "I keep getting told that we're under obligation to fulfil the contract with EMI, so we're looking to put a new album together. [The producer's] name is Adem Hilmi and he works at Slaughterhouse Studios in Harlsden. He's taken my hard drive with a view to putting this album together. It'll be twelve songs".
CRADLE OF FILTH HEADING FOR THE STUDIO
Says Filth: "Thus far we have recorded nine demos (with a final two to follow swiftly on their heels in the coming weeks) which all sound fabulously twisted, though it is hard to put into words just exactly how this album is sounding that would not add confusion to general expectations ... it's fast, innovative, melodic, brutal and utterly uncompromising, VERY cinematic, romantic, necromantic, angry and reflective. Fuck me, it's a new Cradle Of Filth album, and a really bloody good one at that, if the demos alone are taken as a foretaste of the thunderstorm to come".
As well as this, the band will release a new "orchestral album", 'Midnight In The Labrinth', for this year's Record Store Day on 21 Apr. "Slightly ironic I know, seeing as no-one buys records these days, let alone ventures, God forbid, into a real life music store", said Filth, kind of missing the point of Record Store Day.
MARILYN MANSON RELEASES NEW VIDEO
The video for the single, which appeared online yesterday, features Victorian imagery, a séance, people vomiting up black stuff and death. Basically everything you want in a music video from any band. Here it is: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOj3wDlr_BM
GAGGLE ANNOUNCE DEBUT ALBUM
Check out a teaser trailer for first single, 'Army Of Birds', here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo3V7l9zQac
ONE DIRECTION TO HEADLINE MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
Last month the 'X-Factor' runners-up became the first British pop group to ever debut on the Billboard albums chart at number one with their debut album 'Up All Night'.
BK AND BLIGE COMMENT ON PULLED CHICKEN AD
As previously reported, the fast food company announced on Tuesday that it had pulled the ad, which seemingly only ever hit the web, and wasn't really meant to be aired in public at all. The premature release online meant that not all music licensing matters had been dealt with (which was the official reason for the video being withdrawn), but also that the segment was seen out of context, which Blige says is why people have responded so negatively it.
Commenting on the Blige promotional clip, which is part of a wider all-star celebrity ad campaign being launched by the firm, Burger King said in a statement yesterday: "Burger King is very proud to have Mary J Blige, Jay Leno, Steven Tyler, David Beckham, Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara as part of its A-list celebrity line-up promoting the launch of the new BK menu items. Unfortunately, the Mary J Blige commercial was released prematurely before all of the licensing and final approvals were obtained. We would like to apologise to Mary J and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon".
Meanwhile Blige herself said in a statement: "I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that's not what was happening in that clip, so I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you're a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw to go out".
LIVE NATION ANNOUNCES AUSTRALIAN ACQUISITION
Confirming the acquisition, Live Nation boss Michael Rapino told reporters: "We have worked with Michael Coppel on a number of tours over the years and are now extremely pleased to be welcoming such a well respected and successful promoter into our international network. Australia is the sixth largest music market in the world and an increasingly important touring market for international artists. It represents a significant part of our opportunity for international growth".
Coppel, meanwhile, added: "I am delighted to be joining Live Nation and look forward to working with Luke, Roger and my current team, together with the touring teams in Los Angeles and London to firmly establish Live Nation as the leading promoter in Australia and New Zealand".
UNIVERSAL LAUNCHES NEW CLASSICAL LABEL, APPOINTS EMERGING MARKETS VP
Confirming the new label, UMG International's COO Max Hole told CMU: "There's no better time to take audiences for classical music beyond their imagination, and there's no one better to deliver on that promise than Alex. We're confident that he will lead Mercury Classics with distinction and flair".
Meanwhile Buhr himself commented: "There has rarely been so much opportunity to find new ways of looking at classical music. There is an audience hungry for new experiences and the boundaries between musical genres are becoming more penetrable. Mercury Classics will be a home for artists who are aware of classical music's great heritage and who are searching for their own way of approaching it and extending the tradition for our time. The aim is to create, nurture and support music of integrity".
Elsewhere in Universal Music news, the major announced the appointment yesterday of existing exec Laurent Hulin to the new role of VP Emerging Markets. He will report into Global Head Of New Business Olivier Robert-Murphy, who told CMU: "The new music landscape in all emerging markets has seen a surge in high-quality content powering the uptake of services, products, access and devices, with major brands relying ever more heavily on music to drive their offerings. In his new role, Laurent will continue his focus on partnering with companies to structure ground-breaking initiatives and to create innovative and sustainable new business models".
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PPL RESPONDS TO ECJ PUBLIC PERFORMANCE RULING
As previously reported, in two separate ECJ rulings on public performance licensing rules that happened to be made at the same time last month, the European courts responded to an Irish case by saying that hotels did need such licences when music was played in a guest's rooms, but in an Italian case that dentists did not need a licence when they played music in their surgeries.
So does that mean the dentists of Britain can tear up their PPL licences? Well, no, says PPL, because of differences between Italian and UK copyright law. Public performance of sound recordings is basically covered by a compulsory licence in Italy, so that while rights owners are due 'equitable remuneration' when their recordings are played, they can't actual stop the playing from taking place. But in the UK record labels have an 'exclusive right' over their recordings, meaning that not only are they due a licence fee when music is played, but they could also veto the playing of their records outright.
And that distinction means the ECJ ruling is not relevant in the UK, the royalty agency says. A spokesman is quoted by Music Week thus: "The main difference is that in Italy the copyright owners only have a right to 'equitable remuneration' (the right to be paid when their recording is played in public); whereas in the UK they have the 'exclusive right', meaning that in the UK copyright owners have the right to prevent recordings being played, not just to be paid when they are".
The statement continued: "The ECJ decided that playing recorded music in a waiting room could not be counted as 'communication to the public' in the context of a remuneration right and therefore the copyright owners had no right to be paid for this use of their music. [But] the ECJ specifically stated that they were not considering an 'exclusive right' in this case so it has no affect on UK law".
So, all you dentists among the CMU readership, take note. And hotel owners planning on circumventing the other ECJ ruling by installing a dentist's chair in every room, check the small print of your country's copyright law, the dental exemption may well not apply.
WARNER MUSIC'S CAZ BEASHEL MOVES TO INSIDE/OUT
As previously reported, Inside/Out was launched in January by former Universal/Polydor PR people Chloe Melick and Adrian Read. The current roster of artists Beashel looks after at Warner will travel with her to her new role (metaphorically, rather than physically).
For more information go to www.insideslashout.com
FORMER DARLING PR PEOPLE ANNOUNCE NEW ROLES
Head Of Digital Naomi Williams has launched her own agency, Totem. She takes with her Florence And The Machine, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Charli XCX, Skrillex, Jakwob, Icona Pop, Magnetic Man, Jacques Lu Cont, New Look and Hot City, plus labels Grizzly, Greco-Roman, and Ed Banger. More information from www.totemlondon.com
Senior Press Manager Leo Walton is offering music supervision as well as PR services on a freelance basis. In the latter role he is looking after Etienne De Crecy, John Talabot, and Photek, plus the International Music Summit and Rocksonic festivals, and !K7 and Permanent Vacation labels. More information at www.leo-walton.com
Meanwhile, Senior PR Manager Laura Coulson and Head Of Radio And TV Leo Greenslade will also go freelance, with further details to be announced soon.
AMG RECRUITS FORMER MANCHESTER ACADEMY MAN
Confirming his appointment, AMG's COO Graham Walters told reporters: "Sean has a wealth of experience and will be looking at our venue portfolio with a view to generate new business and enhance programming. Over the years, Sean has developed and maintained excellent relationships with agents and promoters and he is sure to bring new ideas to the table".
As previously reported, VMS Live announced this week that it was taking over the management of the Manchester Academy complex, the company counting two former AMG execs amongst its number.
SPOTIFY HAS NEARLY 600,000 PREMIUM USERS IN THE US
In some ways that's rather impressive, given Spotify has been live in the US for just nine months, while American market leader (in the subscription music space) Rhapsody has been up and running for over a decade and only has about a million paying users.
And the growth of Spotify's premium user base has seemingly been pretty constant (it wasn't all achieved in spurts after launch and the announcement of its Facebook alliance), meaning there's a chance Spotify could surpass Rhapsody in terms of paying subscribers by the end of the year, arguably vindicating the Swedish company's freemium-drives-premium business model, the free bit of which is still unpopular with some rights owners.
Though, as the Post revealed the Spotify stats yesterday, some in the US saw the figures as a failure rather than success, presumably because of the heights to which the service was hyped when it first launched Stateside. To be fair, not all that hype came from Spotify HQ, which was generally a bit more conservative in its estimates about American growth than many of those outside the company who talked up the service when it first launched. Though, of course, having your most high profile shareholder - a certain Sean Parker - boasting in public how Spotify will outperform iTunes in terms of revenue generation within two years doesn't really help when it comes to managing expectations.
PAUL MCCARTNEY TO FORM NEW BEATLES WITH EX-BANDMATES' SONS?
Speaking to the BBC, McCartney said: "I don't think it's something that Zak wants to do. Maybe Jason would want to do it. I'd be up for it. Sean seemed to be into it, Dhani seemed to be into it. I'd be happy to do it ... I don't know, you'd have to wait and see. The will of God, nature's support, I guess. So yeah, maybe".
This has been in my head throughout writing this story: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwaddpsKdKg
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #105: TORCHE GUITARIST V BAT PISS
Torche are a metal band, so you'd probably assume this is just a hazard of the job, but no. This doesn't happen often. Not even round Mazza Manson's house. Although Elstner was seemingly staying in quite a spooky property at the time the bat piss incident occurred.
In a later update, he added: "For those unaware, this house was built in 1824 and rests on 70+ acres, and my old roomie who still lives here leaves the back door open so his dogs can roam at will ... I switch on the overhead light/ceiling fan combo and what I think at first is a shadow being cast from the spinning fan blades turns out to be a freaking bat. It circles the room a few times at light speed, and on one of the turns, dive bombs my head and squirts a little nervous pee into my eye".
It doesn't sound that bad when put in context. I mean, it still sounds fucking horrific, but at least he's not actually going to get rabies. As he pointed out to concerned followers later, "you can't get it from faeces or urine" and anyway "the percentage of rabies-infected bats in the US is around 1% of the total population".
But the mind runs wild, doesn't it? "Now I'm imagining a crazed, salivating bat and further, imagining that it angrily spat into my eye", he said. And if there's one thing we all know, it's that crazed salivating animals that spread rabies. Oh god, oh god, oh god.
No. Calm yourselves. It's fine. But just to be on the safe side, Elstner contacted the Center For Disease Control for advice. "OK, creepy follow up", he wrote shortly afterwards. "Rabies Control and CDC people are telling me I need shots, specifically for the reason I imagined: it could've been saliva AND I slept in the same house with it - [it] could've bitten me in my sleep! What?! I wish I was making this shit up. My info and story were just now faxed to the CDC in Atlanta".
I think the moral of the story here is that you should never ever go to the countryside. Or be in a metal band. I bet being in a metal band didn't help. That said, Elstner didn't even think to bite the bat's head off. Ozzy must be spinning in his grave. Or he would be had he died from rabies after biting a bat's head off. I bet Ozzy never called the authorities after that little episode. Honestly, metallers today.