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EC APPROVES SONY/ATV'S EMI DEAL
As much previously reported, Sony is leading a consortium of investors in its bid to buy the EMI publishing firm, including its Sony/ATV partner the Michael Jackson estate, plus various equity funds and David Geffen. Although the EMI songs company will remain an autonomous entity, it will be controlled by Sony/ATV day to day, which will likely take over the administration of the former British major music company's publishing catalogues, leaving a streamlined EMI team to handle A&R and songwriter relations.
The combined Sony/ATV/EMI will have a 30%+ market share, and will be by far the biggest operator in the songs market. Many, including competitor Warner Music and European indie labels trade body IMPALA, reckon such dominance should not be allowed, but Sony has successfully convinced EC competition regulators that those concerns are not justified, partly by committing to sell off a chunk of EMI's UK-based catalogues, the biggest concern being regards the combined publisher's dominance in the UK and Ireland markets.
Confirming the deal had been approved in Europe, the EC's Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia said yesterday: "[The consortium] offered to divest valuable and attractive catalogues containing bestselling titles as well as works of successful and promising authors. I am therefore satisfied that the competitive dynamics in the online music publishing business will be maintained so as to ensure consumer choice and cultural diversity".
Meanwhile the boss of Sony/ATV, Marty Bandier a former EMI Music Publishing chief who is relishing regaining control of his old catalogues, told reporters: "Having spent over seventeen years of my professional life helping to build EMI Music Publishing, today is not only an important milestone on the path to final approval, but a very special day for me, personally".
Needless to say, the deal's critics were not impressed with the relatively speedy EC decision. IMPALA's Executive Chair Helen Smith told CMU: "We need to study the full decision in detail, but this is bad news for Europe's publishers and writers, as well as for collecting societies and any label or online service which needs to be able to rely on fair terms to use music. In the wake of Martin Bandier's confirmation this morning of expected job losses at both EMI and Sony, we are particularly concerned for all Sony and EMI's employees and writers. We remain convinced that the impact of this merger on the livelihood of authors has been underestimated, while the ability of the remedies to secure future competition has been overestimated".
Meanwhile Michel Lambot, co-founder of the PIAS Entertainment Group and Co-President of IMPALA, added: "This decision goes clearly against the official position of the EU to put knowledge and internet at the heart of its development".
The Sony deal is still to be approved in the US, of course, though usually spanners are thrown into the works in big mergers like this by the Europeans not the Americans, so EC approval is significant.
Meanwhile, as also previously reported, Universal Music's bid to buy the EMI record companies is still being considered in both the US and EU, the latter having put that particular proposal to a full three month investigation rather than reaching a speedy decision like in the case of Sony.
While criticising yesterday's announcement from the EC, IMPALA noted that key to the Commission's decision in the Sony case was the fact the entertainment giant does not own Sony/ATV outright, and will have an even smaller stake in EMI Music Publishing. The indie labels body added that it believed the argument that big rights owners are constrained in setting online pricing by the big download firms like iTunes had been rejected, which is important, because the same argument has been used by Universal in its application to competition regulators.
With Universal Music owning both its recordings and publishing businesses outright, and they being owned by one parent company in Vivendi, IMPALA will be hoping the EC giving approval to the Sony deal does not set a precedent that will be employed in the Universal acquisition. Continued Smith: "We understand the Commission has treated the [Sony] case as unique, concluding on the basis of its analysis of Sony's power and the specificities of its corporate structure and rejecting other arguments such as the power of online players, which will send a strong message regarding the Universal/EMI case, now even more crucial".
SPECTOR SUES OVER PROPERTY DAMAGE
According to TMZ, Spector says that the city has commissioned a construction project on the hill where his home stands, and that work has caused damaged to his house. He is suing for unspecified damages and compensation for loss of property value.
Given 72 year old Spector is serving nineteen years for the murder of Clarkson, and he saw his appeal to the US Supreme Court turned down in February, you might wonder why he is so concerned about his former home. But then, to be fair, his wife Rachelle does still live there, so if there really is serious damage, the action does make sense.
BJÖRK CANCELS SHOWS OVER THROAT PROBLEMS
Confirming a residency at the Buenos Aires' Centro de Exposiciones was being curtailed, Björk wrote on her Facebook: "I'm sorry to say that I have a nodule on my vocal chords and therefore cannot complete the Buenos Aires gigs. It is a shame as I really love the city and would have loved to stay longer. I hope I can go back soon".
The singer is reportedly still hopeful she'll be able to meet her festival commitments over the summer.
LEVON HELM 1940 - 2012
Born in Arkansas, Helm had a passion for music from childhood, and shortly after graduating from high school joined the band of rockabilly musician Ronnie Hawkings, The Hawks. Both he and Hawkings relocated to Canada and in 1959, now Toronto-based, signed to Roulette Records. The two men recruited various new Canadian musicians to the band, released some singles and scored some hits, and continued to tour prolifically around bars and clubs in the US and Canada.
In 1963 Hawkings left the band, but the other musicians continued to perform together, using a number of monikers, including Levon And The Hawks, before returning to simply The Hawks.
It was during this period that a certain Bob Dylan, making his famous move from folk to rock, asked the group to be his backing band. Dylan's change in direction, of course, proved controversial amongst his fans, and disheartened by that response Helm dropped out of the band for a full two years, before being asked to return in 1967. By this point the band had become informally known as The Band, and when new contracts were negotiated with manager Albert Grossman and Capitol Records that was the name that was used.
The Band's most famous period then followed, as they performed and recorded both on their own and with Dylan. Although perhaps best known as the band's drummer, all members of The Band were multi-instrumentalists, and Helm also played mandolin and guitar, and provided some vocals. Their debut album as The Band, 'Music From Big Pink' in 1968, elevated the group's own profile, and eight more productive years followed, up until their farewell concert, 'The Last Waltz', in 1976, a show made famous by the fact it was the subject of a documentary film by Martin Scorsese.
Many people's memories of Helm will probably stem from this film, even though he himself was dismissive of it, and many have criticised the documentary for putting far too much focus on one of The Band's members in particular, Robbie Robertson.
After the break up, Helm worked on various solo projects, and collaborated with other artists, before reforming The Band, albeit without Robertson, in 1983. The slightly streamlined outfit continued to tour and record, even after fellow founder member Richard Manuel committed suicide in 1986. The final album from the group came in 1998 in the form of 'Jubilation', which marked the 30th anniversary of their debut release.
Outside of The Band, Helm had a stint in Ringo Star's All-Starr Band, and also pursued other music projects, perhaps most notably in the 2000s a series of musical gatherings at his Woodstock home under the banner The Midnight Ramble. He also collaborated with his daughter Amy Helm, who co-produced his 2007 solo album 'Dirt Farmer'.
Ill-health dogged Helm's life from the late 1990s when he was diagnosed with throat cancer - and some of the Midnight Ramble shows were designed to raise money for medical bills. The tumour was successfully removed, but it had an impact on his voice, so much so he refrained from singing for a time. The cancer ultimately returned and in recent months concerns rose about his health as a number of live performances were cancelled. Speculation rose further at last weekend's Hall Of Fame event in New York when Robbie Robertson sent "love and prayers" to his former bandmate.
Confirming Helm's death yesterday, longtime friend and guitarist Larry Campbell told Rolling Stone: "He passed away peacefully at 1.30 this afternoon surrounded by his friends and bandmates. All his friends were there, and it seemed like Levon was waiting for them. Ten minutes after they left we sat there and he just faded away. He did it with dignity".
MEN AT WORK'S GREG HAM 1953 - 2012
Melbourne-born Ham became friends with Men At Work frontman Colin Hay in the early 1970s, and joined Hay's band, which became Men At Work, more or less at its inception in 1979. He played various instruments for the outfit, including the saxophone, though is probably most notable for contributing the distinctive flute riff to the band's biggest hit 'Down Under' which, of course, later became the subject of a drawn out copyright dispute.
Ham stayed with Men At Work through much of the band's main years of activity, even when other founder members were eased out, and Hay's original collaborator Ron Strykert chose to leave. Ham left the band in 1985, while they were still touring their third album, and the group, with Hay the only original member left in it, wound up the following year.
Hay reunited with Ham ten years later under the Men At Work moniker, undertaking various reunion tours in subsequent years, and performing 'Down Under' at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000. That activity became less frequent in recent years though, with the band more frequently talked about in the context of the copyright lawsuit over the flute riff in 'Down Under'.
Australian courts ruled that the riff had been lifted from the famous Aussie folk song 'Kookaburra' without permission, and that the company which now owned the publishing rights in that song was due a cut of the royalties from Men At Work's biggest hit. After losing an appeal on the dispute, the band criticised 'Kookaburra' publisher Larrikin Music for having demanded such a high cut of the royalties to begin with (60%), saying that had it pushed for something closer to the 5% the courts awarded the company, an out of court settlement could have been reached, saving much hassle and heartache.
Ham himself said the copyright dispute had left him "shattered", telling Fairfax Media: "It will be the way the song is remembered and I hate that. I'm terribly disappointed that that's the way I'm going to be remembered - for copying something".
As well as performing, Ham also did some work in music education, and dabbled in acting occasionally.
DAUGHTER SIGN TO 4AD
The band are now set to begin writing songs for their debut album, but will still emerge for appearances at the Bushstock, Latitude, Green Man and Bestival festivals.
Now, here, listen to 'Home', taken from last year's 'The Wild Youth' EP:
DOLDRUMS SIGNS TO SOUTERRAIN TRANSMISSIONS
Its title track, which is available now as a free download, will have a physical and digital issue alongside b-sides 'Jump Up' and 'Copper Girl' on 4 Jun.
In the mean time, here's main event 'Egypt': soundcloud.com/souterraintransmissions/egypt-1/
PARAMORE SET TO RECORD FOURTH ALBUM
Due to be produced by former Beck and Nine Inch Nails bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen (whose most recent production work was on the latest M83 album), the new record will be the first since the departure of guitarist and drummer Josh and Zac Farro in December 2010 - something Williams alluded to though did not discuss directly in her post.
She wrote: "There's no reason to lie about it, the first few months of writing were ridiculously draining and a lot more of a pain than a pleasure. It was supposed to be fun right? We made it all the way to this point to just struggle some more. So, you can probably imagine that when the flood gates burst this past January and inspiration started filling us up again, we were more than willing to let it take us wherever it wanted. We've written a lot of songs I never thought we would write".
She added that for the first time the band don't have a deadline to work to, so can't say when recording will be finished. Sounds like they're in for the long haul, best not distract them. In fact, I think Paramore fans should all lobby them not to perform at this year's Reading and Leeds festivals. Which is basically a way of telling you that Paramore are due to play their only UK shows of the year at Reading and Leeds. Unless the fans get their way.
INTERPOL'S PAUL BANKS ANNOUNCES SOLO EP
But first to the EP, which features both original and covered tracks, the latter category to include Banks' versions of J Dilla's 'Mythsysizer', Frank Sinatra's 'I'm A Fool To Want You' and composer Harold Faltermeyer's theme to the 1987 film 'Running Man'.
GUIDED BY VOICES ANNOUNCE TWO MORE ALBUMS
Listen to the band's latest single, 'Keep It In Motion', taken from 'Class Clown Spots A UFO', here: soundcloud.com/firerecords/guided-by-voices-keep-it-in
AMY WINEHOUSE DOCUMENTARY TO DEBUT AT EAST END FILM FESTIVAL
The film, which centres on the late singer's admiration for her soul/jazz predecessors - not least Mahalia Jackson, Sarah Vaughan and Ray Charles - features rarely-seen concert and archive footage. It will be screened at St Anne's Church in Limehouse during an evening of live music and "special guests".
More info at www.eastendfilmfestival.com
MEGADETH PLOT ONE-STOP LONDON VISIT
With this year's Download giving over its main stage to the legacy of Jim Marshall, Megadeth's Electric Ballroom show will also be staged in tribute to the late amp mastermind.
Says the band's Dave Mustaine: "It will be great to play for some of our oldest and dearest Londoner friends, but more importantly, I would like to dedicate this show to the memory of my dear friend, Dr Jim Marshall OBE".
THUNDERCAT, FLOATING POINTS, SLUGABED FOR LIVE NINJA TUNE TAKEOVER
Organised in association with FACT Magazine and Tiger Beer, the event takes place on 16 May. Visit its Facebook event page here: www.facebook.com/events/272502549503523/
A WHISPER IN THE NOISE CONFIRM CAFÉ OTO SHOW
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BLISSFIELDS, Woodmancott, Hampshire, 29 Jun - 1 Jul: Thanks to a brand new missive from Blissfields HQ, festival goers now know to anticipate performances from new additions including Guillemots, Clock Opera, Theme Park, Eugene McGuinness, Toy, Citizens! and Dog Is Dead. As aforementioned, Patrick Wolf, The Noisettes, Spector and Toddla T will also appear. www.blissfields.co.uk
ELECTRIC PICNIC, Stradbally Hall Estate, Co Laois, Ireland, 31 Aug - 2 Sep: Patti Smith heads a procession of recent Electric Picnic recruits, as finds Richard Hawley, Crystal Castles, SBTRKT, Grandaddy, Squarepusher, The Maccabees, Van Dyke Parks and Michael Kiwanuka following not far behind. Subjects of prior 2012 notices include The Cure, The Killers, Tindersticks, Sigur Rós, Elbow, Grizzly Bear, Orbital, The Killers, Bat For Lashes, The xx, Metronomy, Azealia Banks and Roots Manuva. www.electricpicnic.ie
HARROWGATE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL, various venues, Harrowgate, 5-28 Jul: This year marking its 47th annual edition, this venerable Harrowgate happening will host The Divine Comedy, Bellowhead and Eliza Carthy, as well as a strong multi-arts programme starring John Wilson Orchestra and the BBC Big Band. www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.co.uk
MAGIC LOUNGEABOUT, Broughton Hall, Skipton, North Yorkshire, 27-29 Jul: With Detroit house oracles Inner City now taking command of Saturday's line-up, Loungeabout coordinaters further broaden their 2012 roster with Smoove & Tarell, plus DJs including Dave Beer, Buckley and Chris Duckenfield. The Charlatans, Chic feat Nile Rodgers, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Jenny O top the festival's existing bookings. www.themagicloungeabout.net
SHAKEDOWN FESTIVAL, Stanmer Park, Brighton, 6 Oct: Bolstering a Shakedown bill that previously comprised lone headliner Dizzee Rascal are acts including Professor Green, Katy B, Stooshe and Clement Marfo & The Frontline, with many more still to be announced. www.shakedown.co.uk
SUMMER SUNDAE WEEKENDER, De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 17-19 Aug: Speech Debelle, Agnes Obel, Loney Dear, Bowerbirds and Clock Opera form an eclectic late supplement to 2012's Summer Sundae stable, which also houses Adam Ant, Billy Bragg, Death In Vegas, Gold Panda, Datarock, Francois And The Atlas Mountains, Friends and Ghostpoet. www.summersundae.com
THE GREAT ESCAPE, various venues, Brighton, 10-12 May: Pond, Willis Earl Beal, We Have Band, Tribes, Ren Harveiu, The Defiled and the illustrious Dan Le Sac crest the fourth wave of acts now rocking the good ship Great Escape, as also bears headliners Maximo Park, The Temper Trap and Africa Express Sound System amongst an internationally-sourced horde. www.escapegreat.com
WICKERMAN, East Kirkcarswell Farm, Dundrennan, Scotland, 20-21 Jul: Wickerman has booked Scissor Sisters and Texas as its 2012 headliners, with performances by Cast, Newton Faulkner, The View, Dog Is Dead, Levellers and a Mike Skinner DJ set also amongst the festival's many on-stage attractions. www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk
WIRELESS, Hyde Park, London, 6-8 Jul: The Roots, Santigold, Afrojack, Kreayshawn, Metric, AlunaGeorge and US rap type Lloyd represent some of the latest acts to claim coveted slots on the well-populated Wireless line-up. With Drake, Rihanna and Deadmau5 confirmed as co-headliners, the Barclaycard-backed bash will also count Jessie J, Calvin Harris, J Cole and Rizzle Kicks amongst its artist roster. www.wirelessfestival.co.uk
WYCHWOOD, Cheltenham Racecourse, 8-10 Jun: Show Of Hands, Simon Friend's Seismic Survey, Jenny Hallam and Mila Falls make up part of the latest portion of acts added to Wychwood's live music listings, which also feature Bellowhead, James, The Saw Doctors, The Cuban Brothers, The Damned, Hawkwind and Dodgy. www.wychwoodfestival.com
PRIMARY WAVE OPENS UK OFFICE
Black, who has run his own music business Blacklist Entertainment since 1997, having originally worked in A&R at both EMI and Warner, confirmed his new involvement in Primary Wave UK yesterday, telling CMU: "I'm excited to join the Primary Wave team and look forward to building a stronger presence, and opening new opportunities for their artists, writers and producers".
Meanwhile the firm's CEO Larry Mestel added: "Now is the perfect time to bring in a European partner to expand resources overseas and Clive is a force in the British music business".
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #107: TYLER, THE CREATOR V THE WANTED V ONE DIRECTION
According to TMZ, and I hope this story is true, at the point in the clearly manufactured feud between The Wanted and One Direction before The Wanted had come out and said it all existed in the imaginations of the British tabloids, 1D were apparently genuinely scared of their rivals. And being young, naïve boys with nice haircuts and fresh faces, One Direction might well be frightened of a band like The Wanted, who look they were plucked for stardom after being discovered in an alleyway kicking a tramp.
So, anyway, One Direction were rehearsing for their appearance on 'Saturday Night Live' at CentreStaging in Burbank, California when their security were alerted to the fact that The Wanted were due to arrive in the same studio complex to rehearse for their performance on 'American Idol'.
Afraid for their lives, One Direction quickly packed up to leave, but before they could grab all their stuff and run out of the door, The Wanted arrived. Quick as a flash, their security guards (yeah, that's right, they were apparently scared of being beaten up even though they had security guards - stop doubting the validity of this story, would you?) went and had a quiet word with The Wanted's security guards.
I imagine the conversation (which definitely happened) went like this:
1D security dude: Hi Dave, how are you?
The Wanted security dude: Oh, I'm good thanks Johnny. How are you? How's the wife?
Johnny: Ah, you know, can't complain. The kids are driving me up the fucking wall though.
Dave: Yeah? Well, they're at that age I guess. I can't imagine what it must be like to have twins that old. Especially when you have to work such long hours.
Johnny: Yeah, and now Sarah's had to take on a part time job too. It's hard, man. Anyway, look, we're looking after these guys called One Direction. I'm not really sure who they are but the girls, they love them. To be fair, they do have really lovely hair. But anyway, they're really fucking scared that your boys are going to come over and fuck them up, so could you make sure that doesn't happen?
Dave: Really? I don't know who the fuck these Wanted guys are, they're just some skinny British guys. They couldn't even kick a tramp to the floor in an alleyway.
Johnny: You haven't seen the ones I've got. Seriously, they cry when they see me, and I'm supposed to be looking after them. Honestly, I don't know why we put up with this shit. It's not worth the hassle. All this fucking dancing and singing all the fucking day. Fuck! Oh well, it's a job I guess. Gotta feed those twins!
Dave: Yeah, you're right there. Well, nice to see you. I'll make sure nothing happens. Ha ha ha! These skinny British kids, they crack me up. But, God, the loneliness I feel in my heart when I go to bed at night. Oh well, see you soon.
Then Dave went back to The Wanted and told him that some guys called One Direction were scared that they were going to beat them up and were trying to run away. The Wanted found this hilarious and Max from the group immediately ran over to his rivals' studio so that he could laugh at them. Laugh at them right in their faces. Except Liam from One Direction, who he apparently hugged instead. Because apparently one of The Wanted and one of One Direction are friends, which kind of makes you wonder why anyone was scared (because remember this story definitely happened).
Anyway, The Wanted were the bigger kids in that situation, but there are always bigger kids out there. The bigger kid in this case is Tyler, The Creator. As a guest host of MTV's prank show 'Punk'd', the Odd Future leader was tasked with making life a misery for The Wanted. Something he seems to have done gleefully.
"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 in a clip that appeared online this week. And fuck it up he did, sending some actors dressed as police to 'arrest' them and generally not be nice to them. "He's about to cry", Tyler chuckles at one point as he watches them in secret from a nearby van.