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SONY CONSORTIUM ACQUIRES EMI PUBLISHING AFTER GETTING FTC APPROVAL
Sony and its partners completed their takeover of the EMI music publishing business within hours of the deal getting approval from America's Federal Trade Commission. The European Commission gave the transaction its approval, subject to a number of remedies, back in April. Those remedies mean that, as Sony takes ownership of EMI Publishing, the Virgin and Famous UK song catalogues are now up for sale. BMG, which bid against the Sony consortium for EMI outright, is now expected to lead the bidding for these not insignificant former EMI publishing portfolios.
Confirming the Sony-led purchase had gone through, the newish boss of Sony Corp, Kazuo Hirai, told reporters this weekend: "Music publishing, along with the rest of our entertainment companies, has been a bright spot in our business portfolio, and we expect that trend to continue with this important acquisition".
Meanwhile Marty Bandier, the former EMI Music Publishing chief who now heads up Sony's publishing business, and who will now lead both companies, said: "Today is a truly special day. As I become reunited with the company that has many of the greatest songwriters and songs of all time, I look forward to helping create the best music publishing company in the world, with the extraordinary talent - artists, songwriters and staff - at the combined Sony/ATV and EMI".
Although Bandier refers to a "combined Sony/ATV and EMI", the two publishing companies will technically remain separate entities, because of the slightly complicated nature of the acquisition, ie Sony, which owns 50% of Sony/ATV, will actually be a relatively small shareholder in EMI Publishing overall. As previously reported, that ownership structure was one of the reasons the European Commission approved the deal, believing that the involvement of other investors would ensure Sony itself wouldn't become too dominant.
According to the European Commission's report on the acquisition, published last week, Sony and its partner in Sony/ATV, the Michael Jackson estate, will own their stake in EMI - believed to be about 38% - via one holding company. The consortium's other investors, which includes Mubadala Development Company PJSC, Jynwel Capital Limited, the Blackstone Group's GSO Capital Partners LP and David Geffen, will hold their stakes via another JV holding group. The EMI publishing company will have its own board made up of reps of each investor organisation.
But day-to-day, Bandier will be in charge of EMI Music Publishing as well as Sony/ATV, giving him control of over two million song copyrights. It's thought, partly on the basis of a document leaked earlier this year, that EMI Publishing will continue to have its own A&R divisions, and will continue to sign and work with songwriters directly, though rights administration will be outsourced to Sony/ATV. That arrangement will likely result in substantial redundancies at EMI Publishing, though presumably some will be offered roles at Sony/ATV, which will need to increase its administration resource.
Exactly how all this will work is not yet known - and not even Bandier and his top team will completely know what they are going to do until they get access to and knowledge of all of EMI's inner workings, which will presumably happen this week. Plus, of course, there is the added complication of the big split of the EMI publishing business and EMI record company, and what to do with any group level units which don't directly belong to either. After months and arguably years of uncertainty, some key decisions will now start being made regards the future of the various EMI businesses and the people who work there.
Universal's bid to buy the EMI record company is still ongoing, of course, with EC regulators undertaking a more in depth investigation on that one, and the FTC also still considering the deal. Although there were opponents to Sony's EMI Publishing bid too, opposition to Universal's acquisition has been more vocal, with both Warner Music and the independent label community expressing big concerns.
Sony Music - Universal's main rival in the record industry, in that it is of a similar size - has so far been very quiet about its competitor's bid to jump ahead in market share terms through an EMI acquisition. After all, raising objections to Universal's big EMI record label bid while its own sister company was involved in an even bigger deal over the EMI publishing company would not have been wise. Though Billboard cites sources who speculate that, with Sony/ATV's regulatory approval in the bag, Sony Music might now start publicly objecting to the Universal deal. Which would be cheeky, but interesting.
UNIVERSAL BOSS REASSURES STAFF AFTER PARENT COMPANY CHIEF RESIGNS
As previously reported, Jean-Bernard Levy departed entertainment and communications group Vivendi last week after ten years with the French conglom, he having been one of the executives brought in to fix the company after its previous management took it to the brink at the turn of the century. An official statement said Levy was departing because of a "disagreement regarding strategic direction", most likely with the company's Chairman, Jean-René Fourtou.
It's widely thought that issues around Vivendi's struggling French telecoms company SFR are behind the strategic differences, with persistent if denied rumours that the group may be broken into two possibly also playing their part. However, Universal's bid to buy the EMI record company, despite proving controversial in various quarters, is thought to have been fully backed by both Levy and Fourtou. And that despite the fact commitments made by Universal to Citigroup, to cover any losses the bank makes should the takeover ultimately be blocked by the US or European regulator, could be costly for Vivendi.
Nevertheless, according to the Financial Times, Universal boss Lucian Grainge still moved to reassure his staff on Friday that Levy's departure did not mean there were concerns up in Vivendi HQ about his EMI deal. Fourtou was "committed to Universal Music's strategic ambitions" and "fully supportive" of the proposed EMI purchase, Grainge said. Meanwhile a note from the Chairman himself reassured Universal staffers that Universal was "an integral part of Vivendi's commitment to excellence in the field of creative content".
Having recently presented Universal with its 'statement of objections' to the proposed EMI deal, the European Commission is now expected to begin hearings to discuss the various concerns raised so far on 10 Jul.
EFFORTS TO HAVE MEGAUPLOAD CASE DISMISSED WILL BE CONSIDERED IN COURT
As previously reported, MegaUpload's legal team asked that the case against their clients be dismissed in late May, arguing that the company had no corporate base in the US so it was impossible to serve a criminal summons against it. The American authorities are trying to extradite seven men linked to the running of the MegaUpload company - including founder Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz - accusing the defendants and their company of copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering.
Prosecutors countered that the MegaUpload lawyers' claims had no substance, and that their call for the courts to dismiss the criminal action against the file-transfer company was a waste of time and resources. But Judge Liam O'Grady said last week that he'd hear Team Mega's dismissal claim, and he set a briefing schedule for it.
At the same hearing on Friday, O'Grady refused an application to unfreeze some of the MegaUpload assets to help fund defence costs, but said that he'd reconsider that claim if attempts to have the case dismissed failed.
He also withheld judgement regards the ongoing debate over what should happen to legitimate data stored on MegaUpload's servers, which were switched off without warning when the US authorities swooped on the controversial web operation in January. Prosecutors have not been especially sympathetic to those former MegaUpload customers who lost legitimate (ie non-copyright infringing) data in January, though O'Grady has shown more concern.
As previously reported, one affected former customer, Kyle Goodwin, with support from the Eletronic Frontier Foundation, has been leading on this issue, urging the courts to force the US government to facilitate the return of legitimate files. On Friday O'Grady said he needed more time to consider arguments made on this matter, but that he'd make a ruling "shortly".
Back in New Zealand, where Dotcom lives, both prosecution and defence are still analysing last week's court ruling that confirmed the raid on the MegaUpload founder's home in January was illegal, because police had got the wrong kind of warrant. The New Zealand judge also ruled that US officials should not have been allowed to take copies of hard disks seized in the raid back to America.
It's not clear whether those rulings will have any impact on US efforts to extradite Dotcom, though the MegaUpload man's lawyers are considering seeking compensation over the illegal raid.
LAURYN HILL PLEADS GUILTY TO TAX EVASION
Hill is due to be sentenced in November, when she faces up to three years in prison and a $75,000 fine. At the hearing last week her lawyer, Nathan Hockman, noted this, and accused the authorities of singling his client out and bringing criminal charges against her due to her celebrity status. According to NJ.com, Hockman said: "There are many people in society who fail to file their taxes on time who only face civil liability. They chose Ms Hill [for criminal action] in particular because of who she was".
M83 TO SOUNDTRACK TOM CRUISE MOVIE
The French dream-pop soundsmith has been asked to compose original music for director Joseph Kosinski's new sci fi feature, 'Oblivion', as will star a soon-to-be-single-again Tom Cruise.
Gonzalez has spoken about the task to The Playlist, and says: "I'm not afraid to do my first soundtrack on a big Hollywood movie, with a big budget and a lot of pressure. I like challenges and it excites me more than frightens me. I can't wait to hear my music played by amazing musicians, and an orchestra and brass, and maybe choirs. It's a chance to create something big and I'm ready for it".
He adds: "My vision is really to have a combination of very electronic moments, very M83, and sometimes merge into something more soundtrack-y, but my kind of soundtracks".
And here, in case you are curious, is IMDB's synopsis of 'Oblivion': "A court martial sends a veteran soldier to a distant planet, where he is to destroy the remains of an alien race. The arrival of an unexpected traveller causes him to question what he knows about the planet, his mission, and himself".
WILEY DEBUTS NEW VIDEO
The first fruit of Warner and Wiley's blossoming industry love affair is chart-directed new single 'Heatwave'. Set for release via Warner Bros Records on 30 Jul, the track features guest vocals by Ms D, and has a brand new (and slightly familiar-looking) video.
Well, at least he looks more enthusiastic than he did when posing with his Warner contract.
JAI PAUL'S 'JASMINE' TO HAVE VINYL ISSUE
Packaged with an instrumental version of itself, limited copies of the track can now be purchased online. Meanwhile, hear the track here.
TRIM DISCUSSES JAMES BLAKE REMIX
He told FACT: "At first I felt weirdly about it. I was like 'wow, what's this?', because he's got his own way of scrunching music up and playing it to you. It was strange to me at first. Then I listened back to it and got some good feedback back from it, like: 'You gotta do this, you gotta do more stuff with him, it's mad music man, do it, man!' And I was like, 'Yeah, cool, I'll do it', and I spoke to him. He's another one that works that works really hard and loves music".
Trim also claimed in the interview that Blake has recently been working with Lil Wayne in the States, though the producer has since denied that this is the case.
Trim's own solo debut is out via Rinse Recordings later in the year, while the aforementioned 'Confidence Boost' remix is also being released as part of a Harmonimix single via R&S Records in September. Listen to it now, if you like.
DUM DUM GIRLS RELEASING EP
Singer Dee Dee, aka Kristin Gundred, has shared her thoughts on the record, part of which was made straight after the 'Only In Dreams' sessions with The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner and producer Richard Gottehrer.
She says: "It begins amidst the residual confusion and immobility felt during the writing and recording of its predecessor and ends on a more lucid note: a bloomed lightness. It is a post-traumatic trip that many take, many who've dealt with greater personal Hells than I, but I hope that my version of survival, all washed up in reverb and guitars, leaves a good taste upon the tongue".
With all that in mind, here are she and bandmate Jules Medeiros playing an acoustic version of 'Mine Tonight', as features first on the EP alongside other tracks 'I Got Nothing', 'Lord Knows' and 'Seasons In Hell' and a cover of Strawberry Switchblade's 'Trees And Flowers'.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
ITUNES FESTIVAL, The Roundhouse, London, 1-30 Sep: Rapper Labrinth is the latest A-list pop act to sign up to iTunes' free music fest, as will also feature Jack White, One Direction, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Usher. www.itunesfestival.com
OFF THE TRACKS, Donington Park Farmhouse, Derbyshire, 31 Aug - 2 Sep: Dodgy, The Beat and Banco de Gaia are amongst the first artists announced to appear at this year's Off The Tracks Festival, as will also host Biggles Wartime Band, Rory McLeod & The Familiar Strangers and Edward II. www.offthetracks.co.uk
T IN THE PARK, Balado, Scotland, 5-8 Jul: Special guests The Dryburgh Soul Band, aka Scots indie troupe The View in disguise, are new to proceedings at T 2012, as also features existing bookings Snow Patrol, The Stone Roses and Kasabian. Also confirmed are Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Florence + The Machine, Tinie Tempah, New Order, David Guetta, Bombay Bicycle Club, Nicki Minaj and so very many more besides. www.tinthepark.com
WICKERMAN, East Kirkcarswell Farm, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, 20-21 Jul: Young singer-songwriter Jake Bugg is foremost on a list of new additions to the Wickerman roster, with Xavia, Olympic Swimmers and Washington Irving also joining Scissor Sisters, Texas, Cast, Levellers, Newton Faulkner and Bad Manners on the bill. www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk
HOT CHIP'S JOE GODDARD TO MENTOR JESSIE WARE VIA BACARDI
The spirit brand has asked Goddard, Friendly Fires and Scottish DJ Mylo to each administer advice, wisdom and a £10,000 bursary to three artists less experienced than themselves. The so-called 'Beginnings' scheme is a means of marking Bacardi's 150th birthday. Why the company couldn't just have given out free bottles of rum to people on the street, I'll never know.
Collaborations between mentors and their chosen mentees will apparently take the form of remixes, live shows and other such "compelling" things. Participating artists will also DJ at Bacardi's birthday party at London's Village Underground on 10 Jul.
Says Goddard: "When Bacardi asked me who I'd like to mentor for Bacardi Beginnings I had no hesitation in naming Jessie. She's a real star in the making and I can't wait to get into the studio with her".
KWES PARTNERS WITH PERONI IN LIVE OPERA VENTURE
The Opera di Peroni project, as will be staged live in various cities throughout July and August, will feature Kwes' take on selected arias from Verdi's 'La Traviata' and Puccini's 'La Boheme' and 'La Rondine'.
Says its Creative Director James Hurley: "The team and I have had the creative freedom to produce a completely unique musical-theatrical event which pushes the boundaries of what people may have come to expect from a night at the opera. We encourage everyone to leave their preconceptions at the door!"
You'll find further details and ticket info at www.operadiperoni.com, and the listings just here:
5-7 Jul: London, Triton Square
SENTRIC ANNOUNCES NEW PUBLISHING VENTURE, SIGNS TWO BANDS
Sentric Music CEO Chris Meehan told CMU: "We're delighted to have signed two very strong talents in Tall Ships and Cattle & Cane. The deal with Strictly Confidential allows us to work with these artists on a long-term basis, as well as providing exciting opportunities to the artists on the continent".
Meanwhile Strictly Confidential MD Pierre Mossiat added: "We are very pleased to have begun this collaboration with Sentric Music. These two first signings demonstrate that this partnership will lead us to great professional opportunities and we look forward to doing business with Sentric Music for years to come".
HTC'S BEATS BUYS MOG
Rumours circulated back in March that HTC was considering buying the Spotify competitor, possibly via its Beats Electronics business. Although the Beats company is best known for its range of Dr Dre branded headphones, the firm and its parent HTC have been looking into launching or acquiring a music service that could play on the phone company's devices for some time.
Confirming the deal, Beats President Luke Wood told reporters this weekend: "Beats was created as a response to the complete erosion of the music experience. Our whole reason for starting Beats was to try to bring emotion back into that experience. We believe music services are a vital part of that ecosystem".
Meanwhile MOG founder David Hyman is quoted by USA Today as saying: "Beats is a company as obsessed with sound quality as we are, and we share a common goal of creating a more premium sound experience and emotional connection with music in the digital era. The addition of MOG's music service to the Beats portfolio will provide a truly end-to-end music experience"
GLOBAL WANTS INVESTIGATION INTO ITS GMG RADIO BID FAST-TRACKED
The UK's biggest radio company has already reportedly signed a standard 'hold separate undertaking' with the OFT, and is reportedly - and unsurprisingly - keen for competition regulators to start their investigation asap. Any such investigation could take up to nine months to complete.
As previously reported, Global's competitors Bauer, Absolute and UTV Radio are all likely to raise objections to the proposed acquisition.
UTV has also asked for clarification regards the immediate appointment of a Global executive, on secondment, to run GMG Radio while the regulatory investigation is ongoing, and how its rival would ensure the two companies remain separate entities during that time.
PLANET ROCK HITS BACK AT VIP CLUB CRITICS
A number of listeners to the station have seemingly complained about the new scheme via the Planet Rock website, leading to Malcolm Bluemel, the man who led a consortium to buy the station when then owners GCap threatened to shut it down in 2008, to respond.
In an open letter, he wrote: "For the last four years I have worked my backside off to keep this station going. It has, during that time, cost me personally £1,000 a day (yes, I have spent every penny I've worked all my life for), to get up at 5.45 in the morning and travel to London, to agonise over playlists and deal with all the compliance and contractual issues that go with running a small business these days".
He continued: "I'm told that we have a passionate audience who love the station, but as soon as I try anything to ease the tremendous losses, I get abused by a minority of that said audience. NOBODY HAS TO JOIN THE CLUB, YOU STILL GET PLANET ROCK FREE 24 HOURS A DAY. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? I have invested thousands of pounds in getting you the additional content which you can purchase or not as you choose, there is no obligation".
Concluding he wrote: "I am not a fat cat. If I was I would have kept my money in my pocket, stayed at home with my wife and children and been three million pounds better off. The team at Planet Rock remain dedicated to providing our listeners the highest quality service possible both on and off air and will continue to do so".
ADELE ANNOUNCES PREGNANCY
BIEBER NOT IMPRESSED WITH MOM/HARRY HOOK-UP GAG
Bieber was discussing the British boyband with radio presenter Thomas Carballot last Thursday, amidst ongoing speculation that the two pop phenomena might collaborate on a track. After Bieber had described 1D as being "good kids", Carballot asked: "Do you worry about Harry around your mum, since he likes older women?"
He was alluding, of course, to Styles' high profile romantic tie up with thirty-something 'Xtra Factor' presenter Caroline Flack last year, and more recent confirmation he also had a short fling with 31 year old radio DJ Lucy Horobin.
Bieber reportedly asked the radio DJ to repeat the question, before replying in the negative, adding: "I think you should worry about your mum, though". Carballot then revealed that his mother was no longer alive (making her too old even for Harry), which threw the Biebster somewhat. He hung up and the interview ended.
Reps for the pop teen later confirmed he'd been "a little upset" by the Mom/Harry hook-up question, though Carballot argued that he'd seen Bieber's other half, Selena Gomez, joke on a chat show that, after meeting the 1D boys, "Justin said we need to keep our mums away [from the group], because they're hot and young for Harry". Carballot added: "So Justin made a joke, Selena was recounting that story and that's where [we] got it from".
So there you go. In related news, the husband of the aforementioned Horobin, now a DJ on Heart South Coast, but with Manchester station Key 103 when she had a two night stand with Styles last year, is reportedly "devastated" by his other half's indiscretion, the fact it recently went public, and that whenever he opens a paper or turns on the telly he sees the pop boy's grinning face. Which is understandable I suppose. I don't know whether two pages in the Mirror today revealing this devastation will help though.