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EC TO GREEN LIGHT SONY'S EMI DEAL, AS MARTY MOVES TO ALLAY STAFF FEARS
As previously reported, the Sony-led consortium offered EC competition regulators a number of concessions during the initial stage of the European investigation into the proposed deal, which some say will give Sony/ATV/EMI way too much dominance in the publishing sector, digital licensing and the collecting society system. And seemingly those concessions were enough to overcome opposition and concerns across Europe.
According to the Financial Times, the biggest concern for EC regulators was the dominance Sony/ATV/EMI would have over the Anglo-American catalogue in the UK market. The proposed sale of the Virgin-branded songs catalogue, plus the Famous UK catalogue and some key songs by prominent Anglo-American artists, was designed to specifically deal with those concerns. Seemingly some extra US-owned rights were also thrown in to further placate officials.
Although the Sony/ATV deal still needs approval in the US, and is also being investigated in Australia and Brazil, having secured approval in Europe with just a one-stage investigation is a considerable achievement, not least because it's European regulators who are often hardest to please.
Some did speculate early on that Sony/ATV would have an easier time getting approval for their EMI purchase than Universal, which wants to buy the EMI record companies, mainly because of the ownership structure of both the existing Sony publishing business, and EMI Music Publishing post-acquisition.
The entertainment conglom does not own Sony/ATV outright - the Michael Jackson estate owns the other half - meaning the Sony recording and publishing businesses have never been as closely aligned as at the other major music firms. Meanwhile Sony and the Jackson estate will each be only minority shareholders in EMI Publishing, meaning the new acquisition will remain an autonomous entity, albeit controlled and managed by Sony/ATV day to day. This slightly complicated structure seemingly enabled Sony to persuade EC regulators to be less tough than they were with Universal in 2006 when it bought the original BMG publishing company.
Some wondered if those in the EC who are interested in the collecting society system might question Sony/ATV/EMI's dominance in that space, though seemingly the fact so many publishing rights are licensed through the blanket licensing process went in Sony's favour, it convincing regulators that a 31% market share would not give the publishing powerhouse too unfair an advantage in digital licensing negotiations. The company also added - as Universal has in its bid - that the big digital players, and especially Apple, are so dominant in that space that they, to an extent, dictate pricing.
Needless to say, pan-European indie label trade body IMPALA - which reckons both EMI deals, that together will make the two most dominant players in music even more dominant, are bad - expressed disappointment at last night's reports that an EC all clear for the Sony transaction was incoming. Its Executive Chair Helen Smith told reporters: "It sounds like the worst possible result for European writers and publishers, as well as anyone who needs to rely on fair terms to access music".
Assuming EC approval for the Sony/ATV deal is an indication this acquisition is going ahead, staffers at the EMI publishing house might be brushing up their CVs this weekend. As previously reported, a confidential report for investors leaked earlier this week revealed plans to cut over half the 515 jobs at EMI Music Publishing over two years, as Sony/ATV takes over various aspects of licensing and rights administration for the EMI catalogues, charging a fee to its new sister company for doing so. Such economies of scale could result in savings of $70 million a year.
After those revelations, taken from a report written in January, appeared in the New York Times on Tuesday, the boss of Sony/ATV, Marty Bandier, yesterday sent an email to EMI publishing staffers in a bid to allay fears and panic, though, in confirming job cuts and remaining vague about when and how many, I'm not sure how much allaying the memo actually achieved.
Pointing out that plans for the integration of Sony/ATV and his former employer EMI Music Publishing were changing daily, and couldn't be confirmed anyway until the acquisition has approval from all quarters, he called the claims in the New York Times "premature". However, he said job cuts would be likely at both companies (so, that's panic assured over at Sony/ATV too now), but that "the best and brightest employees" needn't worry because their jobs would definitely be safe. So that's alright then.
The email, published by Billboard, says: "Over the last several months, we have been working with many units of your company to develop a strategic integration plan. This plan changes daily, as we continue to analyse the vast amount of information and meet with the department and regional heads at EMI Music Publishing. Since various governmental agencies around the world are still reviewing the proposed transaction, it was, to us, premature and inappropriate to share our thinking publicly. It is unfortunate that the New York Times received this information while we are still developing this integration plan".
He continued: "While we do not have a completed integration plan to date, I will share with you some of our thoughts as to that process. If the transaction is approved by all the necessary agencies around the world, our current plan is to reduce the total number of employees of the two companies. The exact numbers or percentages are not final. Since our companies remain separate, we continue to learn more about the existing structure of EMI Music Publishing, which is quite different than when I was there, and evaluate the information we receive. Without a doubt, it is our intention to retain the best and brightest employees at both companies. I will keep you apprised as all of these various events move forward".
So there you go. Brussels should confirm its approval for Sony's EMI deal later today. As previously reported, Universal's bid is being considered via a fuller three month investigation, so a ruling in Europe won't be made until August.
AXL APOLOGISES TO CLEVELAND FOR NOT APOLOGISING
On the latter point, he wrote: "I would like to apologise to Cleveland, Ohio for not apologising to them beforehand for not attending [the induction ceremony] in their city. I think they know how much I genuinely love performing there. Cleveland does in fact rock".
So that's that sorted. As for the response to his no-show decision, he said: "It took a lot of focus and soul searching to be sincere and informative while making a genuine effort to be somewhat diplomatic ... I still don't exactly know or understand what the Hall is or how or why it makes money, where the money goes, who chooses the voters and why anyone or this board decides who, out of all the artists in the world that have contributed to this genre, officially 'rock' enough to be in the Hall?"
He continued: "This isn't an attack. These are genuine issues I don't have enough verified information on to have more than rough ideas. Certainly not enough information to make any judgments about".
I'd point out that concerns about the running of the Hall Of Fame weren't what Rose was complaining about last week, but apparently that's just me being out to get him, or something. To the naysayers, Rose said: "Now that the smoke's cleared a little, any desperate, misguided attacks have been just that, a pathetic stab at gossip, some lame vindictiveness, the usual entitlement crap, he's obsessed, crazy, volatile, a hater. I once bought a homeless woman a slice of pizza who yelled at me she wanted soup. We got her the soup. You can get your own".
You can read the letter in full here: gunsnroses.com/news/72701
In other Guns N Roses news, former drummer Matt Sorum has revealed that he is in talks about a possible biopic about the band. He told VH1: "I've talked about doing a screenplay, and that's actually something that I'm in talks about with a couple of pretty big people".
He added: "If you look at rock and roll movies, they've never been done right... If there was a film about Guns N Roses, the thing about Guns N Roses that was different than all the butt rock bands in Hollywood was that it was down and dirty and punk rock and real. As much as anyone wants to say they want to try to lump it in with hair metal, it never was, because it was a different kind of energy. There was a more street, dark undercurrent happening that could be great on film".
COHEN'S FORMER MANAGER JAILED
As previously reported, Cohen fired Kelley Lynch in 2004 amidst allegations she had stolen all of his money, leaving him on the brink of bankruptcy, and forcing him to begin touring again prolifically to raise new funds. Lynch has seemingly been harassing Cohen via regular emails and voicemails, some very lengthy, others threatening, ever since. The legal implications of that harassment became more serious once she began flouting various restraining orders.
Lynch will serve eighteen months in prison as part of a five year sentence, during which time she will have to take part in various alcohol and anger management programmes. At the end of eighteen months she will undergo mental evaluation, and the authorities will then decide next steps.
Cohen issued a statement in which he thanked Lynch for insisted on a jury trial for this case, believing that gave him a more public platform to prove the problems the defendant caused him both before and after her firing. No criminal charges were ever pressed over the allegations Lynch stole from Cohen, so that previous dispute was only ever heard in the civil courts.
Cohen said in his statement: "I want to thank the defendant, Ms Kelley Lynch, for insisting on a jury trial, thus exposing to the light of day her massive depletion of my retirement savings and yearly earnings, and allowing the court to observe her profoundly unwholesome, obscene and relentless strategies to escape the consequences of her wrongdoing".
He continued: "The eight year ordeal of harassment of my family, my friends, my associates, and myself was designed specifically to avoid or postpone the inevitable day of reckoning with the IRS, the day when she will be bound to account for the taxes she has neglected to pay on the stolen monies that she received and failed to report".
"It gives me no pleasure to see my one-time friend shackled to a chair in a court of law, her considerable gifts bent to the service of darkness, deceit and revenge. I fear that her obsessive commitment to these activities as soon as Ms Lynch is released, therefore I will be grateful for whatever respite the court will allow my children, my grandchildren, my friends and associates, and myself".
During the trial, Lynch's defence lawyer argued that, while he conceded his client had been a nuisance, he felt the scale of harassment had been exaggerated, and that this should not really be a matter for the criminal justice system. He also said it was relevant that Cohen had, only late in the day, admitted his relationship with Lynch had, for a time, been romantic as well as professional.
ONE DIRECTION WON'T CHANGE NAME
As previously reported, One Direction USA say they formed in 2009, before Simon Cowell first put together his One Direction group on the UK version of 'X-Factor' in 2010. Certainly they started selling their album 'The Light' on iTunes in February 2011 which, while after the UK group had been created, preceded the release of their debut album 'Up All Night'.
The American band say they were also first to file an application for ownership of the name with the US trademark authorities, and that Syco knew this, because the label was told so by the US Trademark Office when it tried to register the mark for itself (the matter is currently with the trademark appeals panel). As their name lawsuit became global news last week, the American band insisted they wouldn't be intimidated by the mighty Syco machine. Though, of course, they didn't specifically rule out being bought off.
Anyway, 1DUK's Zayn Malik told Australia's Herald Sun newspaper this week: "We don't have any idea [what's going to happen] but we're not changing our name".
He's probably right, but that situation won't be likely to arise without handing over a stack of cash to their lawyers and the US band first. Everyone's a winner.
DICK CLARK 1929-2012
Born in 1929, Clark's career began in 1945 when he became a weatherman and newsreader on WRUN-AM, a radio station owned by his uncle and managed by his father, having joined the company working in the mail room. After stints at various radio stations, he joined WFIL in Pennsylvania, which also had a sister TV station on which Clark became a stand-in presenter on a show called 'Bob Horn's Bandstand'.
When Horn was fired from the show after being arrested for drink driving, Clark took over as presenter full time in 1956. A year later it was syndicated to the ABC network and renamed 'American Bandstand'.
Under Clark's guidance, the show adopted a new format taking advantage of the emerging rock n roll music that was fast growing in popularity. An audience of teenagers were brought into the studio and were encouraged to dance to the latest releases, setting the standard for many a music show to follow. The first edition of the show also featured an interview with Elvis Presley.
'American Bandstand' became known for giving many artists their first national TV exposure, and over the years introduced artists including Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Buddy Holly, Talking Heads and many more.
As a result, Clark is often credited with convincing America's adult population to accept rock n roll as an artform - something used both as positive and negative criticism. Clark himself acknowledged that his presentation was far from edgy, but also that he feared making it more so would be the death of the show.
Clark's easy rapport with his musical guests, as well as the teenagers in the audience, was in part what kept him hosting the show for so many years, and also gained him work on other high profile programmes, including a gameshow, a TV outtakes show, and other variety shows. From 1972 up to last year he presented 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin Eve' on the ABC network, only missing one year in 1999, though he handed over duties as main host of the show to Ryan Seacrest in 2004 after suffering a stroke.
He is survived by his children, Richard, Duane and Cindy, and his third wife Kari Wigton.
AZEALIA BANKS HIRES LADY GAGA'S MANAGER
The first sign that something was happening came on Tuesday, when she told fans via Twitter that her new EP, '1991', would not be released that day as planned. She wrote: "For all you asking, '1991' is getting delayed... AGAIN. I just switched management. Literally like three days ago, and have a whole new set of resources to take advantage of. We're gonna vamp this up and make it official. No more ghetto mixes and closet recording. I have a budget now!"
Then yesterday it was confirmed that she is working with Carter's Atom Factory, which as well as Gaga looks after thirteen year old popster Mindless Behavior and Grayson Chance. Banks' debut album, 'Broke With Expensive Taste', is still scheduled for release via Universal/Interscope in September.
NEW CHERYL COLE LP IS ANNOUNCED
The sequel to the singer's rubbishly titled 2010 long player, 'Messy Little Raindrops', Ms Cole's third solo LP to date will feature guest contributions from Lana Del Rey, Will.i.am and producers Alex Da Kid and Jim Beanz.
Meanwhile the album's Calvin Harris-penned lead single, 'Call My Name', is set to premiere on UK radio tomorrow some time after 8.10am. Miss it, miss out. Or listen to a poor quality YouTube rip at 9am-ish.
METRIC ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM DETAILS
Speaking about the album, Shaw said: "'Synthetica' is the sonic culmination of everything we have done. We've always had a sound in our heads that we hoped to realise. We finally heard it coming out of the speakers this time. It's futuristic and synthesised, yet also organic".
The band will also be in the UK in July to play three shows. The dates are right here:
2 Jul: London, Shepherds Bush Empire
OUTFIT DETAIL DEBUT EP, STREAM NEW TRACK
The band will mark the EP's release (via Double Denim on 14 May), with an in-store appearance at London's Rough Trade East on 25 May, also supporting Chairlift at Scala on the same day.
Sample 'Drakes' here: soundcloud.com/doubledenim/dd012-outfit-drakes-1
Everything All The Time
PIXIES GIVE AWAY LIVE COACHELLA EP
The EP, which features 'U-Mass', 'Monkey Gone To Heaven', 'Hey' and 'Caribou', is free to download here: www.pixiesmusic.com/2012/04/free-coachella-04-download/
HOORAY FOR EARTH ANNOUNCE SINGLE, ALBUM, TOUR
You'll be able to catch the band live in the UK around the album release date when they play the tri-city Dot To Dot festival and a headline show at London's XOYO, dates for which you can read in this handy list here:
2 Jun: Bristol, Dot To Dot
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
CAMP BESTIVAL, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, 26-29 Jul: Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Skinny Lister, Jamie N Commons and Vintage Trouble are new to pitch up at the familial Camp Bestival field, joining a list of previously announced performers that includes Happy Mondays, Kool & The Gang, Chic feat Nile Rodgers, Rizzle Kicks, Rolf Harris, Little Dragon and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. www.campbestival.net
GUILFEST, Stoke Park, Guilford, Surrey, 13-15 Jul: Gary Numan, Nouvelle Vague and none other than Tulisa Contostavlos lead a list of brand new GuilFest acts poised to play live for the delight of parents and youngsters alike, with fresh festival fare Cher Lloyd and The Straits also joining such existing bookings as Tim Minchin, Olly Murs, Jools Holland and Jimmy Cliff. www.guilfest.co.uk
LEEFEST, Highams Hill Farm, Sheepbarn Lane, Warlingham, 29-30 Jun: LeeFest enlists guests including Slow Club, Ghostpoet, Bastille, Man Like Me, Sound Of Guns and Casiokids to its blossoming non-profit cause, as is also backed by Mystery Jets, Summer Camp, The 2 Bears' Raf Daddy and Tom Williams and the Boat. www.leefest.org.uk
LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY, various venues, Liverpool, 17-19 May: Pond, D/R/U/G/S, Eleanor Friedberger, Fossil Collective, Peace, Clock Opera, Wet Nuns and Theme Park make for sterling closing additions to LSC's 2012 line-up, joining the likes of Mystery Jets, Professor Green, Death In Vegas and many more acts at the city-wide Merseyside melee. www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk
LOVEBOX, Victoria Park, London, 15-17 Jun: Norman Jay, Disclosure, Mele, Baio, Jaguar Skills and James Murphy and Pat Mahoney's collaborative project, Special Disco Version, add to a Lovebox line-up that so far houses Grace Jones, Hot Chip, Friendly Fires, Crystal Castles, Magnetic Man, Rusko and Shy FX. www.lovebox.net
SOUTH WEST FOUR, Clapham Common, London, 25-26 Aug: SW4 organisers commence the second phase of their line-up revelations, summoning dance luminaries Roger Sanchez, Pete Tong, Seth Troxler, Maya Jane Coles, Green Velvet and Guy Gerber to the festival's ever-expanding two-day billing. This lot occupy an overall line-up that features Paul van Dyk, 2manydjs, Eric Prydz, Benny Benassi and Erol Alkan. www.southwestfour.com
STRUMMER OF LOVE, secret location, Somerset, 17-19 Aug: The Pogues, Frank Turner, Badly Drawn Boy, Billy Bragg, Roots Manuva and Basement Jaxx are amongst those acts marking the tenth anniversary of Joe Strummer's death at this charitable music fest, proceeds from which will go to the Strummerville foundation. KT Tunstall, Emmy The Great, Slow Club, Man Like Me, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and Bastille are also confirmed. www.strummeroflove.com
YMCAS RETURN TO THE GREAT ESCAPE - NOMINATE NOW!
With The Great Escape taking place towards the end of the city-based showcase festival season, as the music industry prepares to head to the fields for the big summer events, the YMCAs looks back at the year just gone.
Presented at an exclusive ticket-only event as part of the final day of The Great Escape convention, the awards are also a chance for those agents, managers, bookers, business owners and export offices who visit many of these events, not to mention the people who organise them, to come together to eat, drink and be merry, and discuss the highs (and lows!) of the music year.
Nominations are already being accepted in all eleven categories. These can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominees for each category will then be announced and people will be invited to vote in each section.
This year's prestigious categories:
Best Delegate's Bag
So get sending in your nominations - email@example.com. Ticket information for the YMCAs will go online at escapegreat.com next week.
This announcement comes alongside a number of other updates from The Great Escape today, including the addition of 42 new bands to the festival line-up (look out for full planners going live at escapegreat.com soon); confirmation that Red Stripe will be sponsoring this year's programme of street gigs; that Ford will be recording Bands In Transit sessions at the event; that the open air stage on Jubilee Square, The Hub, will be back; and that 20 venues will appear in the Alternative Escape fringe programme this year. So much to digest - basically, it's going to be awesome - get a ticket now!
UNIVERSAL COO TO HEAD UP PUBLISHING
Although Horowitz's position in the major has seemed to be in flux ever since Lucian Grainge took over as top guy at Universal at the start of 2011, Billboard reckons this particular move is a bid to shore up the firm's publishing business ahead of the creation of a formidable new competitor in Sony/ATV/EMI.
Horowitz already oversaw the Universal Music Publishing Group in his COO post, but this shift will see him take a more active role in its day-to-day running. He will still have an input on wider government relations and public policy issues though, and sit on the Universal Music Group and VEVO boards.
Says Grainge: "Zach's appointment to lead UMPG is testament to how important publishing is to my plans for UMG's future. For nearly two decades, he has championed the interests of our publishing company and been the key architect of its growth. Now I want him to concentrate full time on maximising UMPG's true potential in this challenging marketplace".
Says Horowitz: "I take great pride in having helped UMPG become the industry leader. Lucian's mandate is to build on our strong foundation, committing all necessary resources to innovate, acquire, expand and lead. The challenges and opportunities facing songwriters and publishing companies have never been more significant. From initiating new ways to super-serve our writers so the return on their creativity is maximised, to proactively empowering new partners and business models so the full potential of the digital revolution is realised, this is a transformational moment in the history of music publishing".
[PIAS] FORMS NEW ALLIANCE IN SCANDINAVIA
[PIAS] MD Edwin Schroter told CMU: "Following a great year for us in Scandinavia, with a chart dominating album for Agnes Obel in Denmark, and the recent number one album for First Aid Kit in Sweden, it felt like a logical step to start looking at our set-up in the Nordic region more seriously. Digital there is booming and setting the pace for other European territories".
He continued: "We strongly believe that the only way to develop artists and labels across Europe is to provide specialist and local language promotion, marketing and sales services, in every territory. However, with the challenges of the physical market, we needed to find a centralised solution for the Nordic region, whilst keeping that local expertise on the ground, and Border is perfectly set-up to provide this. More importantly though, they have an amazing team of experienced and passionate people. With both of our companies having been in business now for 30 years, it feels like a perfect match, and I actually can't believe it took us so long to figure it out!"
Border Music's GM Pelle Eriksson, and now GM for [PIAS] Nordic, added: "I am very excited to be able to work even closer with [PIAS] and help build a new chapter of what already is a long and proud history for both our companies. The scale of the [PIAS] Group across Europe and our local expertise in the region should provide labels with an unbeatable level of service and security in what is a very challenging, but extremely exciting marketplace for independent artists and labels right now".
MOST BORING PRESS CONFERENCE OF THE MONTH: SPOTIFY DOES COKE
That means our budgets have been slashed, so we're all over-worked and under-resourced, so while we still have a reputation for long boozy lunch breaks and swanning off at two o'clock to stuff our faces with cake and beer at some nonsense press junket, in reality we're all very very very busy these days. Especially now we're not allowed to source all our stories from people's voicemails. So stop staging pointless press conferences that just distract everyone. Thank you.
Actually, to be fair, Spotify's running costs are pretty high, even if it is licensing other people's content rather than creating its own. And I should add that at CMU are budgets were always tiny, so our lives haven't changed much. We've always been very very very busy and not had time for non-story press events. Despite our love of cake and beer. But Spotify is becoming a leader in the staging of non-story press conferences, and it's starting to really show in the coverage it receives.
This is bad news for Coca-Cola, whose partnership with the streaming platform (and not the highly anticipated iPad app) was the subject of yesterday's Spotify non-news-conference. It might be the most exciting brand-music venture since the last one (anyone remember how exciting the MyCokeMusic download store was?), but it just wasn't big enough news to warrant a special gathering in New York. Spotify does deals with brands every day, and Coke does music sponsorship every day too.
All of which is a very long-winded way of explaining why we didn't bother to digest the press release Spotify emailed out as their press junket began yesterday (and it has nothing to do with the fact I'm a Pepsi drinker). They're doing something you probably didn't need to know about. Here are some quotes...
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek: "Coca-Cola is the most recognised and respected brand in the world and we are proud to be their music partner. Spotify and Coca-Cola both believe that music, technology and creativity can connect people around the globe".
Coke's Director of Global Entertainment Marketing Joe Belliotti: "At Coca-Cola we have long recognised the power of music to connect people around the world. As we step up our activation through Coca-Cola Music, we are excited by the innovative music technology platform created by Spotify and the opportunity to create a truly global music network. The potential for this partnership is limitless".
PS: We still think Spotify's among the best of the streaming platforms. We just wish they'd get on with being brilliant, and spend less time making non-announcements. And make an Android app that works. Actually, they've just announced a new one of those, so perhaps they have. Why didn't they announce that yesterday, instead of some run of the mill sales transaction?
TYLER, THE CREATOR HOLDS THE WANTED UNDER FALSE ARREST
We already knew The Wanted - the serious pop group who don't go in for tacky TV promotions - would appear on MTV's prank show. And also that the new series would have guest pranksters. The Tyler/Wanted tie up has been confirmed by a new clip that has emerged online. "They're big in the UK, but this is their first time in America. And I'm about to fuck that up", Tyler tells the 'Punk'd' cameras, later observing of a mystery The Wanted member: "He's about to cry".
Oh dear, I suspected this might end in tears. See a preview of the episode in question, which airs in the UK this summer, here: insidetv.ew.com/2012/04/18/the-wanted-tyler-the-creator-punkd-mtv/