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ROADRUNNER RECORDS FOUNDER DEPARTS, OFFICES STREAMLINED AND STAFFERS LET GO
Warner took complete ownership of Roadrunner nearly eighteen months ago, but the company continued to run pretty autonomously. Under the latest revamp, most of the division's back office operations will be taken over by the Warner group's central teams, while - although Roadrunner's A&R, marketing and promotions team will remain separate - there seems to be some downsizing going on there too.
Yesterday afternoon, as various Roadrunner staffers confirmed via Twitter or personal email lists that they'd been made redundant, there were rumours that only the Roadrunner US office would remain, with releases elsewhere being handled by Warner Music teams. However, sources close to the major have denied the cutbacks will be that extreme, with only original home The Netherlands losing its domestic Roadrunner office completely.
But, said sources added, 36 Roadrunner employees worldwide have been axed alongside Wessels' departure this week, though no official statement has been made to that effect as yet.
PRESSURE GROUPS WANT US SENATE TO CONSIDER UNIVERSAL'S EMI BID
As previously reported, web lobbying group Public Knowledge has already published its submission to the American Federal Trade Commission's review of Universal's EMI bid, airing very similar concerns about the proposal to those expressed by indie labels organisation IMPALA in Europe. But yesterday the group joined with the Consumer Federation Of America in calling for the merger of the Universal and EMI labels to be discussed on Capitol Hill too.
In a letter to Senators Herb Kohl and Michael S Lee, who sit on the relevant subcommittee within the US Congress's Senate, the two groups re-set out most of the criticism about Universal's deal that has been aired in other quarters, in particular that a combined Universal/EMI will command over 40% of the Anglo-American catalogue, and that that will give what is already the largest major music company too much power in digital negotiations, as well as over competitors and independents. Universal has already issued statements countering those claims.
But the letter also raises a new argument, citing the US Justice Department's recent lawsuit against Apple and five major book publishers, who were are accused of colluding to fix prices in the e-book market. The letter asks, if five publishers which together have less than a 50% market share can pose a threat to competition in one market, what could one company with over a 40% market share do in the music space?
Universal was quick to respond to that point as well though, saying that price fixing rules and competition rules are two very different things, and that the ability for companies to collude on pricing has nothing to do with market share. The major told reporters: "CFA's effort to compare this case to the government's e-books case completely misunderstands the law. The e-books case is about an alleged illegal price-fixing conspiracy. Market shares don't matter in a case like that it's just as illegal for two tiny local bookstores to fix prices as it is for giant publishing companies".
It added: "The law governing mergers is totally different, and most mergers, like this one, are ultimately found to be beneficial to competition and consumers".
According to reports, relevant senators are now considering whether they should give time to discussing Universal's grand EMI plan, though, even if they do, the FTC investigation will still seemingly be the important thing, even if any congressional debate on the matter makes for interesting viewing.
GOOGLE SUED OVER ROCK ARTWORK
The estate of the late and legendary rock photographer Jim Marshall (not to be confused with the amp maker of the same name) is suing pop artist Thierry 'Mr Brainwash' Guetta over his use of photographs taken and owned by Marshall in one of his artworks. Guetta often utilises other people's photography in his art, usually without permission, and this isn't the first time he's been sued for copyright infringement as a result.
But this case is particularly interesting because Google seemingly used the Mr Brainwash artwork, featuring Marshall photos of John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix, at its big music launch last year, presumably making a copy of a piece which made a copy of the late photographer's pictures. As a result the web firm is also being sued.
Google is yet to comment on the litigation.
BRITNEY'S FIANCÉ NOW ALSO HER LEGAL GUARDIAN
Spears senior have been his daughter's 'conservator' since 2008, after a much publicised period of mental distress for the singer which resulted in a stay in a psychiatric hospital. She got engaged to Trawick, her former agent, last December, but they are unable to marry without court approval. It's thought that his application to become her joint guardian was part of plans to set a wedding date.
Following the ruling at the LA Superior Court a spokesman for Jamie Spears said that he was "thrilled" to have joint conservatorship of his daughter with Trawick.
MUSIC WEEK AWARDS HANDED OUT
The winners in full are as follows:
High Street Retail Brand: HMV
Live Music Venue: Shepherd's Bush Empire
Radio Station: 6music
Promotions Team: Atlantic
Catalogue Marketing Campaign: Rhino for The Smiths Complete
Publisher Of The Year - Singles: EMI Music Publishing
Independent Record Company: Bella Union
SPOTIFY AND BEGGARS FOUNDERS JUMP ONTO SUNDAY TIMES RICH LIST
Most interesting are the two new entries in the top 50 richest music industry people. Beggars Group founder Martin Mills finds himself at joint 46th with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason with an estimated fortune of £55 million. And nearly 40 years after he opened the original Beggars Banquet record shop in Earls Court, kickstarting a career spent discovering and promoting great music, that seems fair enough. His jump up the charts is aided by Adele, whose endlessly popular '21' album was released by the Beggars-owned XL Recordings.
A fresher face on the scene, and one much higher up, is Spotify founder Daniel Ek. He enters the chart at joint tenth, alongside Mick Jagger and the Beckhams, having accumulated an estimated wealth of £190 million. Who said streaming music doesn't pay? Of course, that isn't actually the money he has in the bank, it's the value of his stake in Spotify, the company being valued at £1.2 billion in total, so basically it's made up money. For all we know Ek doesn't have two CDs to rub together.
Here, for you enjoyment/resentment (delete as applicable) are the top ten music millionaires in Britain and Ireland:
1 Clive Calder (£1,350m)
BLUR AND GORILLAZ NOT OVER, SAYS ALBARN
As previously reported, Albarn recently told The Guardian that he "hoped" Blur's upcoming show for the Olympics would be "how we end it", adding that, due to visuals man Jamie Hewlett thinking he's been sidelined in the project, Gorillaz also seemed to be done with, at least "until a time comes when that knot has been untied".
To be fair, I suppose that latter statement does sound a bit like Albarn thinks Gorillaz will make another album again one day, and this week he confirmed that to Metro, saying: "When Jamie and I have worked out our differences, I'm sure we'll make another record. We've been through too much together for it to be that big of a mountain to climb. We've just fallen out like mates do sometimes. I'm not the only person to fall out with mates and then make up again - everyone does it".
As for his comments about bringing Blur to a close with one more single and one last show this summer, he said: "Some days I feel one way and other days I feel the other. If you don't see something as a career but as an important part of your life, you don't know how you're going to feel about it. We want to put on a great performance, but nothing's been said between us about the beginning or the end".
Balls. Just make up your mind and stick with it, Albarn. Or at least stop talking about it. OK, I know people are going to ask you about it constantly, but for the time being please just say you don't know. If it helps, I think you should all knock Blur on the head and stop embarrassing yourselves, but that's just me.
THE SMITHS IN NOT REFORMING SHOCKER
Still, yesterday music-news.com ran a story claiming that the band had decided to perform together for the first time since 1987 this autumn, and were currently bashing out the details with "a well-known promoter". The news quickly spread around social networks, with even Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr getting in on the action on Twitter, writing: "Hey Everybody!! Amazing news! My amp is fixed!"
Over on Facebook he published a slightly longer statement, saying: "Thanks to those with hearts and smarts. I don't know where this stuff starts. Not from me. I got things to do. The rumour of the Smiths reunion is untrue. It's not happening".
Drummer Mike Joyce also commented on the rumours, saying via his radio show on Beatwolf Radio, according to the Daily Mirror: "When I first heard about it I was... to say [I was] surprised and rather shocked was a bit of an understatement. Obviously I had to keep my emotions in check because there's a lot of people in the office. It's not happening folks, [or] as far as I know. Now, if it was going to happen without me then, yeah - I don't know. Avec me [though], then I would have known about it, wouldn't I?"
As for the possibility of a reunion one day, he continued: "Who knows, in the future [it might happen]. We don't know, do we, really - cos we can never know. I mean, there's quite a few bands who have got back together again who people said it would never happen, and they did. Only time will tell".
Time will tell indeed. Though, now I come to think about it, Johnny Marr did say earlier this year that if the current coalition government stepped down then The Smiths would reform. And the way things are going, the Cameron/Clegg party may well have fallen apart by the Autumn. Oh my God, this is actually happening. The Smiths are definitely getting back together. Definitely. Why else would Johnny Marr be getting his amp fixed?
THE WEEKND IN STUDIO WITH WIZ KHALIFA AND ARAABMUZIK
The latter broke the news in an interview with HipHopWired, telling the site that his forthcoming LP, 'ONIFC', will feature The Weeknd, aka Abel Tesfaye, in a "trippy" guest capacity. Said weed fiend Wiz: "He's a trippy dude. It's really away from the character people know him for, so with me and him, we work really well together".
Meanwhile Abraham Orellana, aka AraabMuzik, who is soon to release a joint mixtape with 'Peso' MC A$AP Rocky, has also shared studio time with Tesfaye, tweeting last week that he was "currently working with my homie The Weeknd".
So, those duets are happening. I vote that The Weeknd should now release something with A$AP Rocky, and close this incestuous rap circle once and for all.
WILL YOUNG AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Set for publication via Little, Brown Book Group, the tome will span standout moments from Young's ten varied years in the media glare; from his 2002 'Pop Idol' victory, to his role as co-producer of Ralph Fiennes' acclaimed 'Coriolanus', to a cameo in an episode of 'Skins'. A varied career, indeed.
Says Young: "Writing this book has been surprisingly more fun and emotional for me than I would ever have thought. It often isn't until you look back on situations in life that you can see the real humanity, humour and madness of what was occurring... In equal measures!"
KERRANG! BOOKS SKINDRED, ARCHITECTS, ARCANE ROOTS FOR AWARDS SHOWS
Skindred and Surrey trio Arcane Roots will headline respectively at London's The Garage and Barfly on 5 Jun, while Architects play at The Garage the following night.
Tickets for all dates go on sale today.
CYPRUS HILL CONFIRM LONDON SHOW
The hip hop group, who will visit the London venue on 5 Jun, are at the moment promoting 'Cypress x Rusko', their collaborative racket with the dubstep producer.
Cypress rapper Sen Dog says this of the EP (which, despite being billed for release this month, doesn't seem to be out yet): "I think dubstep is a natural progression of hip hop. Especially the way that we formulated it with Rusko, there's definitely some roughness to it".
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BEERMAGEDDON, South Winfield, Derbyshire, 24-25 Aug: Organisers make that three more for the Beermageddon road, as Fury, Fell On Black Days and A Fable For The Curious top up an apocalyptic rock line-up featuring Bloodshot Dawn, Imperial Vengeance, Evil Scarecrow, Fallen Fate, The Furious Horde, Sanguine and Diementia. www.beermageddon.co.uk
BELLADRUM TARTAN HEART, Belladrum Estate, Inverness-shire, Scotland, 3-4 Aug: Buzzcocks, Vintage Trouble, Lianne La Havas, Willy Mason and Lanterns On The Lake further bolster a bustling Belladrum bill, joining such previous confirmations as Travis, Slow Club, Beverley Knight, We Are Scientists and Bastille. www.tartanheartfestival.co.uk
GOLDEN DOWN, Black Bush Valley, Matterley Estate, Hampshire, 15-17 Jun: Gilles Peterson, The Correspondents, When Saints Go Machine, Simian Ghost and Being There go to crown a glittering Golden Down billing, thus aligning with Four Tet, Roots Manuva, Lee Scratch Perry, Thundercat, Mount Kimbie, Apparat, and the rest of the festival's guest cast. www.goldendownfestival.co.uk
HEVY, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent, 3-6 Aug: Rawk fest Hevy pulls no punches with its latest line-up declaration, booking party-hardy cult rocker Andrew WK, Glassjaw, Meshuggah, Madball and Norma Jean in a line of UK exclusives. Further add-ons including Lemuria, Bleed From Within, Feed The Rhino and The James Cleaver Quintet also now join the already announced Descendents, Converge, Will Haven, Deaf Havana, Set Your Goals and Rolo Tomassi. www.hevy.co.uk
LAKEFEST, Croft Farm Waterpark, Tewkesbury, 18-19 May: With Athlete replacing Levellers as Lakefest headliners, this independent West Country fest is also to host EMF, 3 Daft Monkeys, Toploader, The Roving Crows and Dodgy. www.lakesfest.co.uk
ONE LOVE FESTIVAL, Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent, 10-12 Aug: Fun Lovin Criminals and Fast & Frank Benbini note high amongst dub/reggae fest One Love's latest 2012 sign-ups, past examples of which include Don Letts, Aba Shanti, Dub Pistols Sound System, Freddie McGregor, Frankie Paul and Kevin Isaacs. www.onelovefestival.co.uk
OUTLOOK, Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia, 30 Aug - 3 Sep: Lee Scratch Perry, Prince Fatty, Rudimental and Plastician are recent entrants to Outlook's dance-centric line-up, sharing space with the likes of Fat Freddy's Drop, Skream, Andy C, Zinc and Gold Panda. www.outlookfestival.com
ROCKNESS, Loch Ness, Scotland, 8-10 Jun: Jeff Mills, Ash, Rob Da Bank, The Pigeon Detectives and Theophilus London represent a segment of RockNess's most recent enlistees, previous ones of which have included Mumford & Sons, Ed Sheeran, Friendly Fires, Biffy Clyro, Justice, Deadmau5 and The Rapture. www.rockness.co.uk
TRUCK, Hill Farm, Steventon, 20-21 Jun: Emmy The Great, This Town Needs Guns, Lucy Rose, Michele Stodart and Kill It Kid represent last minute updates to Truck's now finalised roster, which has hitherto hosted co-headliners Mystery Jets and The Temper Trap, plus Tim Minchin, British Sea Power, The Low Anthem, Guillemots, Three Trapped Tigers, 65daysofstatic and Villagers. www.truckfestival.com
WAY OUT WEST, Gothenburg, Sweden, 9-11 Aug: WOW present the splendid John Maus, Purity Ring, Ane Brun, Mark Lanegan and Frida Hyvönen as the most recent supplement to the Swedish fest's existing roster, as stars Blur, Bon Iver, OFWGKTA, Florence And The Machine, King Krule, The War On Drugs and St Vincent. www.wayoutwest.se/en
INGENIOUS INVEST IN SOUND CITY
The move follows a successful exit for the finance firm from another Merseyside-based music business, the promoter of Creamfields. The new investment will be used to fund the growth of the Sound City brand, both in the UK and abroad. As previously reported, the Sound City team recently staged an event under the name in New York, and has in the past run a convention in Dubai.
Confirming the new alliance, Ingenious Investment Director Paul Bedford told CMU: "We are delighted to be working with the team at Sound City, who have a deep understanding of how the worlds of music and digital can complement each other. The events they develop have a relevance that too many others lack in this day and age. The success of the first New York Sound City also shows that this relevance is not just limited to the UK and we truly believe that Sound City can develop a worldwide brand over the next few years".
Meanwhile Sound City chief David Pichilingi added: "Both the team and I are very excited about the strategic alliance with Ingenious. We have developed a new, exciting and innovative customer experience for music lovers and those in the business of music and digital. Paul and his team share our vision and we will work closely together to develop the Sound City brand in overseas territories as well as strengthen our UK position".
THE BUG LAUNCHES ACID RAGGA LABEL
The label is set to release a series of seven-inches from Martin as The Bug. The first will feature two new tracks, 'Can't Take This No More' featuring Daddy Freddy and 'Rise Up' featuring Inga Copeland of Hype Williams. It will be followed by 'Ganja Baby', another track with vocals from Daddy Freddy.
Other artists Martin is working with on future releases include Death Grips, Gonjasufi, Grouper, Justin Broadrick, The Spaceape, Flowdan and Warrior Queen.
Speaking about the new project, Martin said: "After [2008 The Bug album] 'London Zoo' I wanted to come with something intense and fresh, and the Acid Ragga label is it".
Listen to a clip of 'Can't Take This No More' here: soundcloud.com/ninja-tune/the-bug-cant-take-this-no-more
MPA HIRES SARAH OSBORN FROM SCHOTT
Confirming the appointment, MPA chief exec Stephen Navin told CMU: "Sarah is already a friend of the MPA and we are very much looking forward to her taking up her new role here. Her work as a publisher means that she can immediately start to take up the opportunities and challenges with which we are all currently engaged".
Sarah Osborn herself added: "The work of the MPA remains vital to music publishers and I am delighted to be taking on this role. I look forward to working on behalf of the best interests of the membership in a continually evolving landscape".
AIM AND UKTI ANNOUNCE US DIGITAL TRADE MISSION
Delegates will need to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses, as well as a mission registration fee. The deadline for applications is 30 Apr, and can be submitted via this online form: www.surveymonkey.com/s/AIMUKTIDigitalMusicMissionNY2012
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #108: AEROSMITH V BREASTS
A section of the programme focussed on tensions between Tyler and the rest of the band, in particular guitarist Joe Perry, which, while never a secret, were laid out in front of viewers very clearly. Asked if these tensions had ever led to a full on fight, Perry said: "That would damage the relationship too much; besides he needs his jaw to sing".
When the filmmakers showed Tyler this, along with other footage of his bandmates badmouthing him, in a separate interview, he responded: "I always sleep with one eye open with him", adding: "I think my busting everyone's chops is what got this band to where it is. I get the hits. Yeah, I'm that good".
After the programme was aired, Tyler told Access Hollywood that he and his bandmates regretted being so open about their relationships in the interviews, saying: "We all realise we might have said a little too much. Being Italian, you know, there's some things you don't say. There was stuff we were going through".
True, but this band are always going through something. Two years ago they got through a particularly rough patch by sitting down together with their respective managers and lawyers to argue it out. Although the really big issues were seemingly resolved after that meeting, tensions still emerge from time to time.
But how did '60 Minutes' manage to get the band to speak so candidly about their problems with each other? Was it that everyone was in a bad mood that day and needed to vent? Was it the strain of years of battling to make things work showing through? Was it hard-hitting journalism? No, none of these things. According to bassist Tom Hamilton it boiled down to clever editing and devious clothing choices.
He accused the producers of '60 Minutes' of editing together the worst of everything the band had said about Tyler in order to provoke a strong reaction from the frontman when shown the footage. "It was tough to watch", Hamilton told US radio station 97.5 K-Rock this week. "They took comments we made during very deep conversations and sort of barraged Steven with them. I thought it was a little brutal".
Despite this, he admitted that everything they'd said was true: "It was the truth. It was everybody speaking what they were feeling. We talked about a lot of things involving anger - yet a lot of other things involving brotherhood. So Steven got pissed off and said a couple of things that were demeaning to the rest of us. I cringed a little bit, yet the second it was over I texted him and said, 'You did a great job'".
But the question remains, even if the editing magnified what they'd said, if it was all true, how did '60 Minutes' manage to get them to say things they new would be likely to upset Tyler in the first place? How did the show push them to risk destroying the already tense relationship between five men who have otherwise managed to stick together (for the most part) for more than 40 years? How could Aerosmith have been brought to the very brink of imploding like this?
"Lara Logan, the correspondent, had a very low-cut top on", explained Hamilton.
Oh, right. He adds that it was clear what Logan was up to right from the start, but he was powerless to resist her journalistic, er, clothes. He recalled: "I'm like, 'Okay, this is sort of, get the band nervous with your cleavage and make them say stuff'. And if you watch the interview you won't see that. That's how they do it: they show their boobs and get you to talk about stuff. It works every time".
Now, this is award-winning war correspondent Lara Logan we are talking about, who has reported from warzones and other areas of conflict around the world for the last fifteen years. In February 2011, while covering the Egyptian Revolution, she was attacked, stripped naked and assaulted by a mob in Tahir Square. In May last year she was interviewed on '60 Minutes' herself, speaking about the prevalence of sexual violence against female reporters in Egypt during the revolution.
This explains why, six months later, she was back in US and being embedded with Aerosmith, rather than the US Army as she was more used to, as they toured South America. Having taken a break from war and violence, I'd say getting a bunch of aging rock stars to say some stupid things just by asking them questions wasn't beyond her capabilities. Though being able to do so without having them try to stare down her (actually fairly conservative) top throughout would presumably have been preferable for the reporter, even if their efforts to catch a glimpse did deliver the more controversial admissions.