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EC TO PROVIDE UNIVERSAL WITH STATEMENT OF OBJECTIONS OVER EMI DEAL
The key concerns have been identified via the Commission's previously reported in depth investigation into the acquisition proposals. Although the statement of objections is a routine part of the EC's merger investigation process, it confirms that European regulators want some key issues to be addressed before the deal can be considered for approval.
According to the Financial Times, Universal bosses - who originally stated that they believed the deal could win European approval without compromise - have already submitted some proposals to remedy the most obvious concerns, but regulators felt those proposals did not go far enough.
Though, now that we are in the much expected compromise stage of the process, you'd expect some backwards and forwards of proposals between parties, the major unlikely to offer too many concessions at first instance. Once it has the statement of objections, the major can either challenge the Commission's findings, request a hearing or sweeten its remedies offer.
As much previously reported, both the independent sector and Warner Music have complained that if the Universal and EMI record labels are combined, the merged company will be far too dominant in the European record industry, giving it an unfair advantage when signing artists, pitching for media space and negotiating with digital service providers. Universal denies that is so, arguing that it now competes with the wider music industry, and other major tech and entertainment firms, as well as against traditional record companies, and that rampant piracy limits its power in the digital domain.
Though the power of a combined Universal/EMI in the digital space is seemingly a key concern for EU regulators, and will probably be the domain where the major will have to make the most concessions, though quite what those concessions might be isn't clear.
According to the FT, EU Competition Enforcer Joaquín Almunia said on Friday: "A company with a large and popular catalogue can have significant market power over digital platforms, which would have a keen interest to strike a deal with it. Ultimately, we will need to make sure that the company that would emerge from the deal would not be in a position to shape the future landscape in the digital music market to the detriment of users and artists".
Welcoming the concerns expressed so far by the Commission, the boss of IMPALA, the pan-European trade body for the indie label sector, Helen Smith, told CMU: "We welcome this news and expect to see a strong statement of objections confirming the Commission's earlier findings that Universal is a danger in the physical and digital market because it cannot be adequately constrained by competitors, customers or piracy".
The Commission hopes to make a ruling on the Universal/EMI deal by 6 Sep. The Federal Trade Commission in the US is concurrently reviewing the merger, while the transaction is also due to be debated in US Congress by the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee on 21 Jun.
MEGAUPLOAD SAYS FBI BROKE LAW IN COPYING DOTCOM'S DATA
As much previously reported, the authorities in New Zealand raided the home of MegaUpload chief Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz in January, as US officials entered the American server facilities where much of the Mega empire was hosted and disconnected the website from the net. MegaUpload, Dotcom and six other execs are accused in America of mass copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering.
Amongst the assets seized from Dotcom's home were seven hard drives. It has now emerged that while it was New Zealand police who seized the computers, the FBI has been given access to them and the American crime agency has taken a copy of all the data stored on the hardware, which has been returned to the US where the authorities continue to put together the criminal case against Dotcom et al.
But, say lawyers working for MegaUpload, an agreement was seemingly in place that any assets taken from the defendants in New Zealand would not be handed over to the US authorities without a court hearing first. The legal men argue that the US feds took a copy of Dotcom's data without the official permission of the New Zealand authorities, which breaches the aforementioned agreement, and therefore constitutes an "illegal act".
For their part, the FBI's counterparts in New Zealand seem to have confirmed that the US authorities had indeed no official permission to take a copy of Dotcom's hard drives, but insist that the agreement regards the transfer of assets from New Zealand soil to the Americans only related to physical goods and not data.
As also previously reported, as MegaUpload's attorneys fight attempts by the US to extradite Dotcom and three of his former colleagues, while also preparing to fight any criminal trial that does eventually take place in America, they have been particularly good at picking up on every possible legal technicality, as well as disputing the American's main charges against their clients.
Previously it transpired that the New Zealand authorities had got the wrong kind of warrant before raiding Dotcom's home in January, while much as been made of the fact that - as it was a Hong Kong based company - it is impossible for the US authorities to formally file criminal charges against the MegaUpload business, and that the charges against individual executives are not, in the defence's opinion, sufficiently serious to fall under the New Zealand/USA extradition treaty.
In a previous squabble in Auckland, Dotcom refused to hand over the passwords to access encrypted data on the computers seized from his home until the New Zealand police agree to give him copies of the files, and to acknowledge some of the data is subject to privacy and legal privilege.
It remains to be seen what happens regards the latest "FBI committed an illegal act" allegations.
LADY GAGA'S "INSANE" NEW RECORD IS GO
But don't take my word for it, rather listen to Gaga, who last week tweeted: "Exciting news little monsters! I've played my new record for my label and will be announcing my new album title in September! X". So you see, it's all true.
The pop provocateur, who began working on the new LP last December, is said to be continuing to write and record even as she tours in promotion of its predecessor, 2011's 'Born This Way'.
The most recent word on the new material came from Gaga's co-manager Vincent Herbert, who last month told That Grape Juice: "[It's] just [an] insane, great record. She's on tour right now, but it's just going to be a great record. Look out for the unexpected when it comes to her. We're doing it on the road right now, so it's a little hard, but it's going to be great".
DEF JAM DEFINITELY RELEASING FRANK OCEAN LP
Acting without explanation or introduction, the OFWGKTA associate and Kan-Z collaborator flagged up the vid - complete with soundtrack about a stripper named Cleopatra - on his Tumblr, closing it with the cryptic tagline "Channel Orange 7.17.12".
Certainly, an official debut from Ocean has been in the offing since he declined to give his 2011 mixtape 'Nostalgia, Ultra' a release via his then new label Def Jam, instead promising to prepare a full-length for issue via the Universal division later this year.
And Def Jam HQ has now confirmed that 'Channel Orange' is indeed Ocean's debut LP proper, and that it'll be released on 17 Jul. So you can all feel safe in that knowledge as you take in the trailer: vimeo.com/43659532
JOHN CALE ANNOUNCES ALBUM
I Wanna Talk 2 U
HOLY OTHER TO RELEASE DEBUT LP
REFUSED SHARE LIVE DATES
And with that news, they enclose this note: "The Queen just had her Jubilee, Download's happened and now we're extremely happy to announce that we will be playing a couple of club shows in the UK in August. London and Manchester be ready. WE ARE NOT FUCKING DEAD".
And the dates are:
12 Aug: London, The Forum
THE ENEMY TO TOUR
Which is why anyone attending any of the band's just-listed UK tour dates, as have been arranged in respect of their new LP 'Streets In The Sky' (which charted at number nine), are unlikely to see... say, pop phenom Carly Rae Jepsen in support. Which I say is a real shame.
Anyway, here are the dates:
28 Sep: Weston Super Mare Pier
MAN DIES AT ROCKNESS
A police spokesman was less committal though, telling reporters: "Early indications are that the man may have consumed drugs and this is one of the lines of inquiry at this stage. A post mortem will be carried out to determine the cause of death".
It was the second tragic incident linked to the Highlands festival, after an accident involving a bus taking people to the event on Friday. Two men travelling in a van that collided with the coach died.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
THE BIG FEASTIVAL, Chipping Norton, 1-2 Sep: Taking place this year on Alex James' farm du fromage, this Jamie Oliver-hosted music and food fest has just booked Noisettes, Guillemots, Sister Sledge, Producers and Sunday night headliners Texas, all of whom side with Paloma Faith, Razorlight, Gaz Coombes and The Cuban Brothers on the overall roster. www.jamieoliver.com
GUILFEST, Guildford, Surrey, 13-15 Jul: The Wonder Stuff, Levi Roots and Postman Pat are all-new characters to the Guilfest stage, with the latter being joined by Jess The Cat in the familial festival's Kidzone area. This just-announced lot accompany Olly Murs, Bryan Ferry, Jools Holland, Tulisa, Jimmy Cliff, Gary Numan, Candi Staton, Cher Lloyd and Tim Minchin on the line-up at large. www.guilfest.co.uk
ITUNES FESTIVAL, The Roundhouse, London, 1-30 Sep: JLS are the latest A-list headliners added to iTunes' 2012 edition, joining Jack White, Usher, Emeli Sande, Norah Jones and One Direction. www.itunesfestival.com
V FESTIVAL, Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex/Weston Park, Staffordshire, 18-19 Aug: Pop star and amateur cineaste Tulisa replaces an absent Lissie on V Festival's dual line-ups, joining The Stone Roses, The Killers, Snow Patrol, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Nicki Minaj, Tinie Tempah, Example and Ed Sheeran. www.vfestival.com
NEW SEASON OF CMU TRAINING COURSES, PLUS SUMMER OFFER
NEIGHBOURING RIGHTS FIRMS ANNOUNCE ALLIANCE
Rights Agency Limited has specialised in the collection of neighbouring right royalties for 25 years, while Fintage House offers neighbouring rights representation alongside a range of other copyright administration services. The new partnership will, the two companies say, offer "unrivalled strength, experience and advanced client servicing" in neighbouring rights, which are "an increasingly more important revenue source to artists as there are new streams opening up from different sources in new territories and outlets constantly".
Rights Agency Limited CEO Damian Pulle told CMU: "I am extremely excited about this venture. It will give continuity and new possibilities to my clients and staff. There are lots of synergies between our companies. We share the same business values and the same desire to service clients with the best solutions in the industry. It is a perfect match for RAL, due to our future vision. Each company has its own uniqueness that, when combined, will make the new venture a force to be reckoned with".
Meanwhile Fintage House co-CEO Niels Teves added: "I have known Damian for almost a decade and have a lot of respect for what he has built. We invested in RAL because we believe together we can achieve more and more for our clients on a global scale. Damian created the neighbouring rights business line and put it on the map for clients. His development of this business along with our 25 years of experience in servicing clients in Film and TV makes this alliance the perfect fit".
DOMINO LAUNCHES DRIP FEED
Though that pesky tradition of artists signing exclusivity deals over each aspect of their career with different and competing music companies is hindered that model's potential to an extent. Nevertheless, the 'McFly model', as I like to call it, could yet prevail.
And perhaps it's not just artists who can benefit from that phenomenon, credible labels having fanbases too. Domino Records is the biggest indie to date to set up its own subscription service via a US-based company called Drip.fm, a direct-to-fan platform set up by American independent Ghostly International.
For ten dollars a month fans of the London-based label will receive two new albums and other digital goodies as both MP3s and WAVs, plus get discounts on physical releases. And new long players from Hot Chip, Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective are set to be part of the deal.
Says the record company: "We're launching Domino Drip, a membership scheme to connect fans of the label directly to the artists we work with by delivering new releases and exclusive material straight to their inbox. Every month we compile a bundle of two of our most exciting albums, plus bonus material for you to download. At least one of these is guaranteed to be a brand new album and from time to time we'll also include a classic from our archive".
Some in the industry may wonder whether such an offer can succeed, when for the same price Spotify and its competitors offer access to millions of tracks, including most of the Domino catalogue. Of course the Drip model offers ownership of rather than access to the tracks, which is still important to some demographics, though if Domino Drip does succeed, it might be less to do with the access v ownership distinction, and more because music fans possibly value having a relationship with certain music makers more than the actual music those makers make.
More at drip.fm/domino
INDUSTRY SOURCES POSITIVE ABOUT NEXT MYSPACE REVAMP
Insiders say that key to the next MySpace revamp will be an overhaul of artist pages, stepping up the ways in which artists can engage with, provide content for and possibly sell to their fans. Late last year there was rumour that MySpace was also looking into moving into the fan club management space, providing the tools via which artists could provide low-cost subscription access to original digital content, though it's not clear if that is part of the revamp certain American record industry types have seemingly seen.
Billboard says that MySpace "wants once again to be music fans' favoured place on the web to discover new music", which I'm not sure it ever really was (it was more the favoured place to go and listen to music from bands you'd heard about elsewhere), but it seems Specific Media remains convinced that the future for its $35 million acquisition remains in music.
So, perhaps we will all have to start updating our artist profiles on MySpace again before the end of the year. Though the big promotion planned for the relaunch is apparently one of those tedious battle of the bands that marketing agencies always come up with when asked to do something with "new music", so I wouldn't be too certain about that just yet.
THIS JUST-IN: HOW MANY BELIEBERS CAN YOU FIT IN A LIFT?
The stuck lift incident happened at Wembley Stadium, where Capital FM was staging its annual Summertime Ball. According to one of The Sun's sources: "The girls couldn't believe their luck to be stuck there with him. They were sweating and nearly fainting with Biebermania before they got out".
Hmm, sweating with Biebermania, what a lovely thought. Still the show must go on, and after 20 minutes locked up in a lift with his scary fans, the Bieber still took to the stage to sing some songs, including a duet with Carly Rae Jepsen. Though when you're used to performing with concussion, performing while recovering from some mild claustrophobia is probably easy.
BANKS SAYS SHE WANTS FEMALE MANAGER, QUITS TWITTER
Banks took to Twitter on Friday after Billboard confirmed that Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter was no longer managing her career. Banks and Carter ended their professional relationship "amicably" (apparently) after just two months. The rising rapper had previously parted company with two other managers in the last year. There were rumours Banks would now be managed by Coldplay manager Dave Holmes, to whom the rapper is romantically linked, though Billboard's sources deny this.
Anyway, Banks seemingly took exception to some of the other rumours circulating regarding possible new managers for her, and told the micro-blogging platform: "I know who you are: yes - you short bald man - I know you planted all these false stories. Guess what? I'm still not going to let you manage me again. I've dealt with enough cyber bullying to see right thru this. I will definitely be working BY MYSELF and saving MY 20% on management commissions while I avoid you sharks in the water".
Though when Banks says she'll be working on her on without management, what she means is she wants a woman to manage her. She continued: "LOL, I just want a really hardcore woman - or a really gay man - as my manager. You other niggas have WAY too much ego shit with y'all. I really want a female manager. Women are just so much smarter. I just need a lady with some really intimidating glasses and crazy shoe game to just stomp all you phonies out!"
So there you go. A later tweet denied speculation the "short bald man" was actually Troy Carter, with Banks adding: "The short bald man I'm referring to is NOT Troy. Troy is not bald. He has a light Caesar". You could have gone and checked all this out for yourself, except on Saturday Banks then deleted her Twitter account, saying she's far too busy to tweet and that she doesn't like the way it makes her "entirely too accessible".
From now on she'll only be entirely too accessible via Tumblr. Though if you do choose to access her there, please refrain from referring to her as a "rising rapper", OK? She, erm, tumbld on Saturday: "I no longer wish to be referred to as a rapper. I never was... and as soon as I started paying attention to bullshit urban media, I started getting myself in trouble. From now on I'm a vocalist, and will not be associating myself with the "rap game"... or whatever the fuck that means".
Yep, Azealia Banks is fast becoming the Courtney Love of rap. I mean, of hip hop vocalists.