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WATERMAN AND GAMBACCINI CRITICISE UNIVERSAL'S EMI BID
Pete Waterman and Paul Gambaccini are the latest music industry old-timers to speak out about the proposal to merge the EMI record companies with the Universal Music empire, ultimately putting the iconic British music major in the hands of French conglom Vivendi. Pop maker Waterman and music pundit Gambaccini join legendary record producer George Martin in lamenting the proposed deal.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Waterman said: "Losing another British company is a tragedy, but even looking at this from a dispassionate point of view something has gone wrong. Universal has near total dominance of the music industry and we've reached a situation that is totally uncompetitive".
Meanwhile Gambo, taking a break from mourning the dead on BBC television, has said he "reacted in horror" when it was first announced last year that the EMI labels could become part of Universal Music. Though, according to the Mail, he seems to accept the good intent of the current management at Universal, but worries what might happen to EMI if and when there's a change of leadership or ownership at the world biggest music company.
For its part, Universal said it would happily explain to Waterman why its proposals are good news for EMI if he'd only call them. A spokesman told the tabloid: "If he [called] we would explain why his concerns are misplaced given the strong competitive environment in today's music market. It [EMI] will fare much better with us than with non-music owners, who would only asset-strip the business".
As much previously reported, Universal's bid to buy the EMI labels is currently being reviewed by various competition regulators around the world, but most notably the European Commission and America's Federal Trade Commission. Meanwhile, the Sony-led bid to buy the EMI Music Publishing business has been green lighted in Europe, but still awaits approval Stateside.
Back at EMI, where staffers await the big split if and when the two takeover deals are approved later this year, there is some apprehension about the future, but some optimism too, and a real sense of the importance of getting on with things in the meantime. Or at least that's what Amsterdam-based Bart Cools says. An Exec VP For Marketing on the labels side of the EMI business, he's been speaking to Australian based The Music.
He told the magazine: "It would be stupid to say that we never think of it [what will happen after the acquisition]. But after the initial shock that this was going to happen, there was the realisation that we've been in this position for years now - Terra Firma, Citibank, Warners, not Warners, maybe Warners, now it's Universal. And I think there's also a realisation from everybody in this company that there's no point in thinking about it 24 hours a day, because there's really nothing we can do about it at the moment but try and do our job as good as possible and be the best possible company we can be by the time that it actually happens, and make our point, if you like".
And while some, mainly outside EMI, have predicted significant workforce and roster culls post any acquisition (which is possibly overly pessimistic, though not without precedent in terms of past major label mergers), Cools notes: "I think [EMI] is a healthy company, in most territories making quite a bit of money. Universal didn't buy this to destroy it, obviously. There is a sort of worry, but not too much".
Of course there may be more worries on the publishing side of EMI because, while Universal has revealed very little about its plans for the labels post-merger, there was that leaked report from Sony last month indicating that up to half of EMI Music Publishing's workforce could be ultimately axed once big chunks of the firm's rights administration is handed over to Sony/ATV. Sony's publishing chief Marty Bandier did try to allay fears at EMI Publishing, though not without implying that there would indeed be quite a bit of downsizing if the Sony-led bid to buy the company goes through.
DAPPY APPEARS IN COURT OVER FILLING STATION FRACAS
As previously reported, when Dappy and three other men were first arrested in connection with the incident, a spokeswoman for Surrey Police told reporters: "Two girls and three men were outside the garage at 3.30am. They were interrupted by two suspects who had turned up in a car and asked the girls to go with them. The invitation was refused and one of the suspects then spat at one of the girls. As a result an altercation ensued involving the first two suspects and a further group of up to six black and white men who arrived in two further vehicles. The trio of men were assaulted and received serious facial injuries in the attack".
Speaking only to confirm his name at this week's court hearing, Dappy and his co-defendants all deny the charges against them. The magistrate ordered all four to return to court on 19 Jul, and ruled that their unconditional bail would stay in place in the meantime. If found guilty of the charges against him, Dappy could face a fine of up to £5000 and up to six months in jail.
RESPIRATORY INFECTION FORCES ELTON JOHN TO CANCEL VEGAS SHOWS
John said in a statement: "It feels strange not to be able to perform these 'Million Dollar Piano' concerts at The Colosseum [in Las Vegas]. I love performing this show and will be thrilled when we return to The Colosseum in October to complete the eleven concerts soon to be scheduled".
ROC NATION SIGNS MANAGEMENT DEAL WITH MIA
Indeed, Rihanna was one of the first to go public about the deal, tweeting: "Welcome home MIA". Meanwhile Roc Nation's official Twitter feed announced that "the nation just keeps on growing" witha link to MIA's Twitter page and a slightly blurry photo of the occasionally controversial MC.
MIA's fourth long player 'Matangi' is due out via Universal's Interscope label in September.
BEST FIT RECORDINGS SIGNS FAYE
A former member of pop group Play and having previously gone by the name of Fanny, Faye is due to release her first single through Best Fit, 'Water Against The Rocks', on 25 Jun. An album will follow later in the year.
Says Faye: "The most important thing is that I do it myself and no one is making decisions for me... I want to use my vocals in a different way, and it's a wonderful feeling for me to be able to make my own sound. It's important for me to do this my own way".
You can catch Faye live at Hoxton Bar And Kitchen in London on 27 Jun, and hear 'Water Against The Rocks' here: soundcloud.com/best-fit-recordings/faye-water-against-the-rocks
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE MAKING MUSIC... FOR THE MOVIES
Actually, it's not all bad news for those pining for some original Timberlake tune-age. As well as selecting other people's songs for his missus's movie, the part-time MySpace exec and (very) occasional pop star has apparently also promised to write some new music for the film himself.
The movie, by the way, is entitled 'The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea'. This is IMDB's synopsis of it: "Unable to reconcile the grief from recently losing his wife, an introverted architect befriends a wisecracking young girl and agrees to help her build a raft to cross the Atlantic".
Yes, really. Shooting on 'The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea' is due to begin in autumn, so we shouldn't expect to hear anything of Timberlake's soundtrack until 2013 presumably.
EMINEM "GETTING INTO" NEW SOLO RECORD
So that's all very non-committal, but a promising sign as far as a new Marshall Mathers solo LP is concerned. Speaking on-air yesterday with US station Hot 97, the MC also discussed his role as executive producer of 'Welcome To: Our House' the new LP from hip hop quartet Slaughterhouse.
Comprising Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I and Eminem's Bad Meets Evil collaborator Royce Da 5'9, the group will issue the disc via Mathers' label Shady Records on 11 Jun.
"I really feel like hip hop needs this, man", he told host Peter Rosenberg of the latter, adding: "And I think people will see [that] when this album comes out".
FLORRIE DECIDES TO GO MAJOR
However, last year she published a manifesto of sorts that sternly prohibited signing to a major for the time being. Which was possibly an odd thing to declare. Or not. Though with that in mind, it was a bit odd when Florrie popped up again this week to say: "I have decided that I am going to sign to a major record label".
Filling in the gaps between the 'no major label deal' moment and the 'major label deal' moment, she went on to explain: "It's been an incredible year and I've worked so hard, and it's given me so much experience. I've learned a lot about how the business works too. Over the last nine months I've been writing lots then singing lots, then writing lots then singing LOTS, both for this new EP and for my future releases. AND I think I've found a new part of my voice that I never knew I had before. It's two or three times more powerful than anything I've been able to catch on record up to now and it's also a bit lower and, well, different in a good way! My album will be a combination of the voice you know, and the voice you don't - yet!"
She goes on to say that she's written two songs she reckons are good enough to launch her career with properly, adding that: "I cannot do them justice by putting them out there on my own. I don't have the resources. At the end of February, I played these songs to a couple of people in London, and a couple of people in Los Angeles, who agreed with me that I should launch my career around these two songs. Which means that... after all this time... I have decided that I am going to sign to a major record label!"
More news on that in the near future, I guess. But for now, Florrie's final independently released EP, 'Late', is due to be unleashed on 31 May.
NATHAN FAKE DEBUTS NEW SINGLE
"I just felt like the whole track had a total Celtic tribal campfire vibe to it!", he contextualises, adding that the track's tune was designed to be "memorable in the way a lot of ancient folk music is".
Listen to 'Iceni Strings' here: soundcloud.com/border-community/icenistrings/
METRIC DETAIL NEW LP
Metric play the first of three promotional dates on 2 Jul at London's Shepherds Bush Empire. And now, that 'Synthetica' tracklisting you've all been waiting for:
GRUFF RHYS BOOKS CONCERT AT ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL
Appearing as part of Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel's BrynFest revelries, Gruff will be joined on-stage by surf-pop troupe Y Niwl, with singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon also present on the line-up.
Tickets available here: ticketing.southbankcentre.co.uk/find/music/gigs-contemporary/tickets/gruff-rhys-66406
REN HARVIEU ANNOUNCES HEADLINE TOUR
7 Oct: Glasgow, Oran Mor
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
HULTSFRED FESTIVAL, Gothenburg, Sweden, 14-16 Jun: Hultsfred HQ closes artist submissions to the festival's 2012 line-up with the final addition of Tribes, who join The Cure, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Justice, Kasabian, Slash, Garbage, Mumford & Sons, The XX and Noah & The Whale. www.hultsfredsfestivalen.se
KENDAL CALLING, Lowther Deer Park, Hackthorpe, Lake District, 27-29 Jul: Craig Charles, Dreadzone, Benjamin Frances Leftwich, Hidden Orchestra and Lazy Habits are amongst those acts just summoned to appear in Kendal Calling's Kaylied Area, and align with Dizzee Rascal, Maximo Park, Feeder, Spector, Inspirational Carpets and Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip on the line-up at large. www.kendalcalling.com
MELTDOWN, Southbank Centre, London, 1-12 Aug: This year's 'future feminism'-themed Meltdown programme will now include a rare on-stage cameo by Lou Reed, who joins Diamanda Galás, Laurie Anderson, Elizabeth Fraser, CocoRosie, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joey Arias, Marc Almond and festival curator Antony Hegarty on the line-up as it looks at the moment. www.southbankcentre.co.uk
MYSTERYLAND, Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands, 24 Aug: Pop producer du jour (still, I think) Calvin Harris finds space on Mysteryland's well-populated one-day roster, which also includes the previously announced Avicii, Fedde Le Grand, A-Trak, Simian Mobile Disco, Goldie, Tiga, Fake Blood and Seth Troxler. www.mysteryland.com
WARRIOR'S DANCE, Kalemegdan Fortress, Belgrade, Serbia, 15 Sep: Live sets by Chase & Status, Zane Lowe, MC Rage, Caspa and Feed Me form the latest-revealed features of this Serbian rave happening, as has hitherto hosted dance champs The Prodigy and 'frat-step' wunderkind Skrillex. www.warriorsdancefestival.com
TWO MORE FESTIVALS CANCEL
Organisers of Cloud 9, now in its third year, said in a statement confirming the cancellation: "The festival environment this year has been incredibly difficult for many small, independent festivals and has proved to be too challenging for us to overcome. We would in no way want to continue when there is a chance the quality of your experience would suffer and we wave goodbye knowing last year was absolutely incredible".
Meanwhile, with just twenty days to go till lift off, organisers of Golden Down announced: "It is with much regret that we announce the cancellation of Golden Down festival for this year. Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances beyond our control, we have come to the realisation that we are unable to stage the festival that we had originally conceived; one that would meet the high expectations of both artists and audience. We would like to express our sincere regrets to the artists, and to everyone who has been working hard trying to bring Golden Down to fruition".
Cloud 9 ticket holders will all get refunds, while those with tickets for Golden Down can opt to take a refund or swap their ticket for access to this year's Glade Festival.
Of course even in good years it's not uncommon for a handful of boutique festivals to hit the wall, so tight are the margins on such events, though of course this year has seen some of the bigger fests have to throw in the towel too, like The Big Chill and Sonisphere, while some other festivals followed Glastonbury's lead and decided to stand down for 2012 before announcing any dates, most blaming the Olympics, though presumably with an eye on the flagging economy too.
RDIO CONSIDERING INCENTIVISING ARTISTS TO SIGN UP NEW USERS
Quite how the system would work isn't clear, but presumably signed up acts would be incentivised to encourage their fans to listen to their music via Rdio, which is only available via a subscription after a six day free trial. One manager told Billboard artists could be paid about $10 per new subscriber, which would eat up each new customer's first month or two months of expenditure (depending on which package they opt for).
Some reckon many artists would react positively to the scheme, given that many acts and managers feel they are not profiting enough from the recent boom in streaming platforms, either because labels have agreed to too low a royalty or because they aren't passing enough of the royalties onto artists, or both. By cutting out labels, publishers and collecting societies, this way artists could also profit from the rise in streaming.
That said, such an arrangement would likely be short lived, and bigger artists would possibly see it as an endorsement deal, for which upfront fees would usually be expected. And while many smaller and middle-sized bands might still sign up, some wonder whether the artist-introduction scheme would sufficiently deliver for Rdio without some big names involved too.
Rdio, of course, is in an increasingly competitive market place as Deezer and Spotify also pursue rapid expansion plans around the world, competing with more established home-grown services in some territories. Whether incentivised artist tie-ups could be a clever way to gain some ground on the competition remains to be seen - it will also be interesting to see if any labels claim their artist contracts prevent acts from entering into these sorts of deals without cutting the record company in, given it's the label-owned content that is really attracting the customer.
RIAA NOT GOING AFTER LIMEWIRE FOR MORE MONEY
For slightly mysterious reasons, a year old story from Computerworld.com started doing the rounds of the social networks earlier this week. The report, from early 2011, focused on how the US record industry, having won in court against LimeWire after a very long copyright infringement legal battle, was rumoured to be preparing a damages claim of $72 trillion. Whether or not there was ever any truth in the story, the RIAA settled with Team Lime more or less exactly one year ago for a much more modest $105 million.
But, presumably noticing a new round of RIAA-bashing going on the social networks, the NME mistakenly reported on the $72 trillion rumours as if they were new, and, according to Billboard, the story was then picked up by at least five other news sites, none of which noticed the March 2011 date stamp at the top of the original Computer World story.
Rest assured, you can file these new reports with the "majors will stop releasing CDs next spring" story that circulated late last year, and was also picked up by the NME, and which was also bollocks.
1XTRA ANNOUNCES SCHEDULE REJIG - WESTWOOD OUT
Most other changes will apply to the weekend schedule, where the new daytime line-up will consist of newcomer Yasmin Evans, plus Nick Brighton and DJ Target, and nighttime will see some specialist shows will move into earlier time slots.
Confirming the revamp, Ben Cooper, the newish boss of Radio 1 and 1Xtra, told CMU: "As 1Xtra nears its tenth birthday it's great to be welcoming a new generation of presenters to the station who will take on the baton of championing the best in urban music for a young audience".
Meanwhile Sloth added: "I'm very excited about being given the opportunity to speak to the nation for five days a week and for the faith put in me by the Radio 1Xtra team".
On Westwood's departure from daytime on 1Xtra (he'll still appear on both Radio 1 and 1Xtra at the weekend), Cooper added: "Tim has proved to be one of the most influential figures in UK hip hop and I'm delighted that he will continue to bring his wealth of knowledge and unique style to Radio 1 and 1Xtra across the weekends".
In the official BBC press release Westwood cheerfully remarked that his time on 1Xtra daytime had been "a lot of fun and a great experience", though he confirmed the pending schedule rejig on his own Twitter feed by announcing to his followers: "I've been sacked from 1Xtra Mon-Fri 4-7pm from Sept #westwoodyourfired", before retweeting various tweets that were criticising the decision.
Which makes this as good a time as any to remember all the great times we had with Westwood on daytime BBC radio, and in particular this rather honest evaluation of his own listening figures: radiofail.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/tim-westwoods-famously-honest-rajar-fail/
ORION TO REBRAND GOLD STATIONS AS FREE RADIO 80S
Orion, of course, originally came into being when Global Radio was forced by the Competition Commission to sell a number of its stations in the Midlands after acquiring the GCap group.
Although Orion, then a new company, took over the licences and frequencies GCap had in the region, two GCap/Global brands were maintained - Heart and Gold - with the new licence owners franchising the Global brands and programming formats, and airing a lot of Global-produced programmes. Heart was then replaced with Orion's own GEM station in late 2010, and now Global's Gold will be withdrawn from the region too.
Free Radio is the brand Orion has recently rolled out across its other FM stations in the region (which were formerly called Mercia, Wyvern, Beacon and BRMB), so the new name for the former Gold frequencies, all on AM, will make it much more obvious that the FM and AM networks are sister stations. Obviously the output will also be different, given Gold plays oldies from the 60s, 70s and 80s, rather than having an exclusively eighties based playlist.
Confirming the change, Orion chief Phil Riley told reporters: "We currently have 120,000 listeners across our AM/DAB network in the West Midlands. Our goal is to grow this audience by developing a music radio station that naturally sits closer to our FM brand".
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #111: ALEX REID V YOUTUBE
Recently Reid's official website announced the imminent release of his debut single, 'Stardust', described as "an up-tempo summer anthem that'll make you all feel good". It sounds brilliant, if you ask me. But unfortunately, I've not been able to hear it in full.
The track went live on YouTube on Tuesday and immediately fans flocked to hear what Reid had come up with. The fans (I'm sure they were all fans) were not impressed. Numerous negative comments were made and around 125 people had clicked the 'dislike' button within ten minutes, at which point the video was taken offline.
Some would take this as a failure. Not Reid though. He told Mark Meets: "We've had a misconception, but I guess it's because of who I am. At least everyone is talking about it - 'Alex Reid - bloody hell, that guy can't sing, what a joke'. The funny thing is that's kinda good, I quite like being the underdog because I'm very proud of what we've produced".
He added: "At the moment it's a mixed bag and that's good - I think that's great. That's a bit of controversy and at least it's an opinion. [The song] could go Top 40 - it sounds just as good as any of the other songs out there, in my mind. If it's gonna be a load of crap I'm not gonna bother, I think it's pretty bloody good. So yeah, to me it sounds just as good as any other songs and tunes I listen to. This song is close to my heart, I think it'll do well. It'll be a success".
That's the sort of nonsense professional fighters tend to come out with before being beaten to a pulp. Maybe being a cagefighter is good practice for a career in pop after all. Have a listen to 23 seconds of 'Stardust' here: audioboo.fm/boos/814828-alex-reid-s-debut-single-stardust