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EC SENDS OUT NEW QUESTIONNAIRE OVER UNIVERSAL'S EMI BID
The EC previously asked all affected parties for their opinions about the proposed takeover in March, and enough concerns were raised to persuade the regulator to proceed with a full three month investigation, rather than just approving the deal after one month, as it did with Sony's bid to buy EMI Music Publishing.
A second questionnaire seeking commercial data from labels then followed, while this new call for information goes into more detail about the power (or not) of the big music companies, and delves further into those areas where most concerns were raised in phase one of the investigation. Most of the topics covered are predictable, though interestingly it seems the EC is particularly concerned about a combined Universal/EMI's dominance in the jazz and classical genres as well as in chart hits.
Questions also look at whether Universal dominates radio and TV's music output (it's official tie up with the 'Voice' franchise has already caused some criticism in the UK tabloids), and whether or not, as the majors clam, the dominance of a small number of digital music providers - particularly Apple and Spotify in Europe - restricts the rights owners' control over online pricing. It also poses other questions about the relationship between the majors and the digital players, including what control they have over the positioning of artists and music within digital stores.
The EC could block or approve Universal's EMI deal outright, or look for a compromise that would force the mega-major to sell off some of its assets to win approval. Universal has so far resisted the temptation to offer such concessions (unlike Sony, which secured approval for its publishing purchase by committing to sell off some catalogues), but many reckon some remedies will be asked for by the regulators. And interest in the questionnaire about jazz and classics might suggest what kind of catalogues Universal would have to sell on to get the green light.
Pan-European indie labels group IMPALA and Universal's rival Warner Music continue to oppose the takeover, of course. It was thought the EC would make a decision in early August, though Reuters is now pointing to early September.
Meanwhile, legendary producer George Martin has criticised the break up and sale of EMI to its two biggest rivals, Universal and Sony, saying it will give the two mega-majors a "virtual monopoly".
Martin, who spent a chunk of his career working for EMI of course, is widely quoted as saying: "I am saddened that great companies have been swallowed up by the giants, and the domination of the recording and music publishing industry by Sony and Universal can only lead to a virtual monopoly in the European market. Is this what the people want? I always thought that democracy ensured a level playing field for our music industry, but I am wrong".
Universal bounced back a quick response, saying that under Universal's stewardship EMI will be able to enjoy a renaissance after a decade of uncertainty. According to the Telegraph, a spokesman for the company said: "Sir George has not spoken to anyone at Universal Music about this. If he did, we - as a long-standing music company which invests tens of millions in great British talent - would welcome the opportunity to explain how we will enhance that creative investment in EMI and its digital future. Universal Music is the right home for the company; we are music people. EMI will fare much better with us than with non-music owners, who only asset-strip the business".
BRITISH THREE STRIKES NOW NOT LIKELY TO START UNTIL 2014
A civil servant from the Department Of Culture Media & Sport called Paul Kirkman revealed the new target date at an event called Creative Coalition in London yesterday.
Record labels buoyed by the passing of the DEA two years ago had hoped the first stage of the so called graduated response system for combating file-sharing would have been well underway by now, but various issues around how the enforced letter sending will work (rights owners will identify suspected file-sharers but internet service providers will send the notes) and legal challenges by BT and TalkTalk have seriously slowed things down.
Some now wonder whether British three-strikes will ever happen, despite some research from France and elsewhere showing that stern warning letters can deter a lot of file-sharers, even without the third strike deterrent taking place (which is probably a good thing - we don't even know what that would be in the UK).
JENNIFER HUDSON FACES FAMILY MEMBERS' ALLEGED KILLER
As previously reported, the bodies of Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, and brother, Jason Hudson, were found at the family's Chicago home in October 2008. The singer's seven year old nephew, Julian King, was then discovered to be missing and a reward was offered for his safe return. Sadly, his body was found three days later.
In December the same year police arrested William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson's sister Julia, and charged him with the murders.
It is claimed that Balfour, who at the time was on parole having already served seven years in prison for attempted murder and carjacking, had flown into a jealous rage after seeing balloons outside the Hudson family home, believing them to be from Julia's new boyfriend. Prosecutors say he then went into the house and, using a gun he had stolen from Jason Hudson several months earlier, shot Donerson, went upstairs and shot Jason twice in the head, then drove away in Jason's car with the seven year old Julian King, who he also shot before abandoning the vehicle.
Prosecutors claim that after the couple had become estranged in early 2008, Balfour had made a number of threats towards the Hudson family, telling Julia the day before the murders "I'm going to kill you, but I'm going to kill your family first".
In court, Hudson said that her family had been unhappy with her sister's decision to marry Balfour, which they had done in secret. She said: "None of us wanted her to marry him. We didn't like how he treated her and I did not like how he treated my nephew".
The case continues.
LAWYERS IN LOVE'S LATEST DEFAMATION CASE REQUEST TO WITHDRAW
As previously reported, Love was sued by lawyer Rhonda Holmes and her firm Gordon & Holmes over allegations the Hole frontwoman made on Twitter. Holmes had been working with Love on allegations that money had been stolen from her late husband Kurt Cobain's estate, but the two parted company, and the singer later claimed on Twitter that the lawyer had been "fired" because she had been "bought off" by the people she was meant to be investigating.
Holmes sued for defamation - the second such lawsuit Love faced in relation to comments made on the micro-blogging platform. The singer hired a new law firm, Pryor Cashman, to defend the legal action, but now it is in dispute with her too, claiming that Love has failed to pay associates of the company who have worked on the case, and that she has failed to make a "satisfactory proposal" to settle the debt.
Pryor Cashman needs court approval to withdraw from the case. It remains to be seen if the company then goes legal to get their unpaid fees. If so, Love would be fighting litigation by her lawyers who were helping her fight litigation by her lawyers. Which would be fun.
JACKSONS TOLD TO GIVE AEG MORE INFORMATION IN ONGOING LAWSUIT
Lawyers for the live music giant said that the Jacksons had not provided credible evidence to back up their claim that AEG employed Murray and was therefore liable for his negligence, and that a lot of the information that had been provided arrived late.
Reps for the Jackson family countered that it had taken some time to get the live firm the information it requested, not least because some of the questions asked of the late king of pop's children were harrowing to answer, and that they had now provided extensive responses, including statements from two AEG execs saying Murray had been given the job as Jackson's medic.
The live company, which was behind the 'This Is It' O2 shows abandoned after Jackson's premature death, argues that while it may have paid for Murray, he was selected and hired by the singer himself, and the company had no control over the medic's actions.
After both sides presented their arguments to the court, the Jacksons' reps were asked to provide the information AEG claimed was still lacking, and to see that Katherine Jackson's deposition on the case - which has only been half done so far - was completed.
At the same hearing, Katherine Jackson's lawyer said he might request a "discovery referee" be appointed on the case, who would go through evidence provided by both sides and advise the judge on its competence. One of AEG's attorney's, Jessica Stebbins, said she didn't think such a referee was required, but that her client probably wouldn't object to that move if both sides could agree on who should perform the task.
The case continues.
GRAHAM COXON AND JAMES SIGN TO BMG CHRYSALIS
Elsewhere in BMG news, the publisher has also signed the catalogue of Manchester band James, including all of their 1990s hits like 'Sit Down' and 'She's A Star'. On that deal Bodie said: "This is an outstanding catalogue of songs, and we are delighted that James have entrusted their catalogue to BMG Chrysalis".
ROLO TOMASSI DISCUSS THIRD ALBUM
Keyboardist James Spence told NME: "We've nearly finished writing it. The plan is to go into the studio at the start of June and start recording then. We're 70% of the way there, we've got a few weeks left though, so there's no big rush".
Of the direction their new music is taking he said: "It's a more straight-up, heavy sounding and much more direct. You can get your teeth into it much quicker, people who didn't have patience before with our music before will be into this record. It's still technical, but we're using the mathy bits more sparingly".
NAS LP GAINS RELEASE DATE
The rapper's tenth long player to date (and his first full-length in four years), it will include past singles 'Nasty' and 'The Don', plus forthcoming No ID production, 'Daughters', which so happens to be out next week.
Says Nas of the impending issue: "It's been a long time; it's been years since I released a solo studio album, so this record is everything. This is everything that I've got to say - I guess you've got to live a
AIDEN GRIMSHAW TO RELEASE DEBUT SINGLE
Says Aiden of his time on the telly talent show: "I didn't really know what I wanted from it. I love music, and I knew I could sing, but I didn't think I was 'X-Factor' material. I'd been given this opportunity and I didn't want to waste it. But I had no idea what sort of music was really me. Everyone else had their own ideas, but all I knew was what I didn't want".
He'll release his debut album, 'Misty Eyes', on 13 Aug. For now, you can listen to 'Is This Love' here: soundcloud.com/aidengrimshaw/is-this-love
MODESELEKOR MAKE SEKOND MODESELEKTIONS
Darker and, dare I say, more obscure than its predecessor - which featured Feadz, Bok Bok and SBTRKT - 'Modeselektion Vol 2' will carry this tracklisting:
Egyptrixx - Levitate
PASSION PIT ALBUM ANNOUNCED
It's set for release via Sony/Columbia on 23 Jul, and will comprise twelve as-yet-unspecified tracks.
Since facts on the actual content of the album are so scarce, I'll add that it has been produced by New York-based Chris Zane, who dealt with Passion Pit's debut and has since worked with Holy Ghost!, The Walkmen and Friendly Fires.
ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION TO SCORE LA HAINE SCREENINGS
In London, one aim of the venture is to engage the community at the heart of the 'La Haine'-esque urban violence that broke out during last summer's riots, and as such the chosen site for a free locals-only screening on 2 May is the Broadwater Farm Centre in Tottenham.
Londoners at large will have a second viewing opportunity after the mayoral vote at The Troxy in Limehouse on 4 May, while residents of the film's on-screen setting will have their chance at the live-scored version's Parisian premiere on 5 May.
Find further details and ticket links here: theothercinema.org
OBERHOFER TO TOUR
Taken from that, have a free copy of 'Heart', and/or a glance at the video for new single 'Away Frm U'.
JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ AND TINARIWEN TO SHARE LIVE BILL
The two rarely-seen acts will share a double bill coordinated by promoter SoundCrash Music, who incidentally are also hosting a three hour DJ set by Ninja Tune signing Bonobo on the other side of London just under a month later.
Taking place on 1 Jun at the 2932 East warehouse in Hackney, the latter line-up also co-stars Raffertie and Throwing Snow. Without wishing to steal José's thunder, or anything.
Refer to the SoundCrash site for further details: www.soundcrashmusic.com
CHAZZSTOCK CHANGES VENUE
The event had been due to take place at Stanford Hall in Lutterworth on 9-10 Jun but yesterday organisers announced that they had been forced to cancel this due to licensing issues. Instead, a one day event at Wolverhampton's Civic Hall and Wulfrun Hall will be staged on 9 Jun, with a number of the artists booked for the original event, including The Vaccines, The Horrors and Tribes, still performing.
The first Chazzstock was held at Koko in London just two months after Haddon's death in 2010 and since then the singer's friend Jack Bissell has been working to created a fully fledge festival to raise money for The Prince's Trust.
In a statement, Bissell said: "It's with a heavy heart that we have to pull the festival. It's always a struggle for a brand new festival and as a non-profit event it has been even harder. We have fought hard to make Chazzstock Festival work, as we wanted to get the best possible result for Charles and the charity we are raising money for. [But] due to licensing restrictions and an impending festival date, it seemed a change of venue was the best possible solution".
He continued: "The Vaccines have been very supportive of the venue change and we still want to put on an event that would make Charlie proud! I'd like to thank everyone involved in organising the festival and everyone who has bought a ticket for their support. It really means a lot to us all and we are sorry for any inconvenience caused. I still hope that one day, we can do a proper Chazzstock Festival. Maybe we should go with Charlie's original plan and do it in the field behind his parents' house!"
Tickets for the new event will cost £25, and anyone who bought a ticket for the cancelled festival can either claim a refund or exchange it for a VIP pass to the Wolverhampton show. More info at www.chazzstock.org
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BILBAO BBK, Kobetamendi, Bilbao, Spain, 12-14 Jul: Brand new bookings Keane, The View, James Murphy and Pat Mahoney now co-occupy the Bilbao BBK bill with its established residents, several of those being The Cure, Radiohead, Garbage, The Maccabees, Mumford & Sons and Glasvegas. www.bilbaobbklive.com
CHAZZSTOCK, Wolverhampton Civic Hall/Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, 10 Jun: With organisers forced to cancel the Chazzstock's original Leicester-based edition due to licensing issues (see above), the festival's revised and relocated format will still present The Vaccines, The Horrors, and Tribes in tribute to late Ou Est Le Swimming Pool frontman Charles Haddon. www.chazzstock.org
EXIT FESTIVAL, Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, Serbia, 12-15: Now twinned with the UK's very own Bestival, Serbia's foremost live stronghold now houses the just announced Erykah Badu, Citizens!, Hercules & Love Affair and Skindred. This assorted quartet further reinforce a roster that includes Guns N Roses, Duran Duran, New Order, Plan B, Gossip, Wolfmother and Little Dragon. eng.exitfest.org
FESTIVAL NO 6, Portmeirion, Wales, 14-16 Sep: An intriguing late feature to this year's festival calendar, this bespoke Welsh fest taking place in Portmeirion, the strange setting for 60s TV series 'The Prisoner', is so far prepared to host New Order, Primal Scream and Spiritualized, with mixsmiths Erol Alkan, Mr Scruff, Andrew Weatherall & Sean Johnston, Horse Meat Disco and Don Letts also down to deliver DJ sets. www.festivalnumber6.com
GREEN MAN FESTIVAL, Glanusk Park, Powys, Wales, 17-19 Aug: The Tallest Man On Earth, The Bees and The Staves lead the latest musical horde destined for Green Man glory, joining aforementioned festival guests Van Morrison, Feist, The Walkmen, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Michael Kiwanuka, Friends and Ghostpoet. www.greenman.net
HARD ROCK CALLING, Hyde Park, London, 13-15 Jul: Second Stage supremos The Mars Volta join what's unofficially billed as 'Soundgarden day' at Hard Rock Calling, also sharing Friday's roster with Iggy & The Stooges, Cold Chisel, Blackstone Cherry, Kids In Glass Houses and Skindred. With Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon ruling the roster roosts on alternative dates, the festival will also host Guillemots, Lady Antebellum, Jimmy Cliff and Alison Krauss & Union Station. www.hardrockcalling.co.uk
HEINEKEN OPEN'ER, Gdynia, Poland, 4-7 Jul: Yeasayer and The Ting Tings are notable amid a last minute influx to the 2012 Open'er roster, one that also features Björk, New Order, Justice, Major Lazer, The xx, Mumford & Sons, Janelle Monáe and M83. www.opener.pl
READING/LEEDS FESTIVALS, 24-26 Aug: Latecomers Graham Coxon, Mastodon, Passion Pit, Santigold, The Joy Formidable, Dry The River and The Hives are all just confirmed for Reading and Leeds' NME/Radio 1 stage, and will thus play parallel to main stage attractions Foo Fighters, The Cure, Kasabian et al. www.readingfestival.com / www.leedsfestival.com.
SLAM DUNK, Leeds University/University Of Hertfordshire, 26-27 May: With a similar event being staged in Scotland and Wales, Slam Dunk's English editions share the news that Gallows, Capdown, Random Hand, Sharks and Hildamay will supplement both its northern and southern line-ups. Taking Back Sunday, The Black Out, Funeral For A Friend, Motion City Soundtrack and Architects rule the existing bill. www.slamdunkmusic.com/slam-dunk-festival
SUMMER SERIES AT SOMERSET HOUSE, London, 7-17 Jul: Gracing Somerset House's grand courtyard stage this year are headliners Tim Minchin, Katy B, The Temper Trap, M83, Paloma Faith, The Enemy, Tindersticks and Jill Scott, with an Afrobeat spectacular featuring Fela Kuti disciples Olu Maintain, Cappo Snoop and Atumpan also amongst the festival's diverse initial listings. www.somersethouse.org.uk
V FESTIVAL, Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex/Weston Park, Staffordshire, 18-19 Aug: New V add-ons Wretch 32, Gossip, The Feeling, Newton Faulkner and Childish Gambino cater to broad listening tastes at this dual-day popfest, which counts The Stone Roses, Noel Gallagher, The Killers, Nicki Minaj, David Guetta and more amid its alternating bill. www.vfestival.com
THIS JUST-IN: BIEBER PENS SONG FOR MARIAH
Speaking at a press conference, BBC Newsbeat reports that Bieber told reporters: "[I was inspired by things like] that girl - Mariah Yeater - who said she was going to have my baby. I wrote about that situation. We've recorded like 40 songs. Every song has a piece of me, it's hard to pick. I wrote almost all of them or co-wrote them".
Unlike Yeater, who, it turned out, didn't have a piece of him at all. As previously reported, Bieber tweeted about Yeater last week too. Let it lie, Justin.