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UNIVERSAL CONTINUES TO WRANGLE OVER WHAT ASSETS MUST GO TO SECURE EMI DEAL APPROVAL
As previously reported, informal talks are now underway between the European Commission and Universal, and its parent company Vivendi, as to what remedies would enable Europe's competition regulators to allow a merger of the Universal and EMI labels.
It seems a given that EMI's classical and jazz catalogues would be sold off as part of the deal, as would some of EMI's Virgin Records business. Sources say that Universal's starting gambit was to sell Virgin's mainland Europe operations, keeping the more lucrative Virgin UK and Virgin US catalogues. But with EC regulators still looking a little glum at the table, it's believed that Virgin UK has now been offered, though officials are still pushing for a global sale of the division. Whether a commitment to sell EMI's Classics and Virgin catalogues and divisions worldwide would be enough to get the EC go ahead isn't yet clear.
According to Billboard, a report from Barclays speculating about Universal's deal with the Euro-regulators, and any subsequent asset sale, assumes the mega-major may be forced to sell up to half of EMI's catalogue to placate officials. It also reckons that, even if the music major can engineer a bidding war between rivals and equity types over those assets, Universal would likely not earn from the sale what it has committed to pay current EMI owners Citigroup (pro rata to the total price Universal will pay for EMI Music in its entirety), resulting in a loss of up to 200 million euros on the deal.
Universal was due to make its formal proposal regarding divestments today, though it's thought that document might not now be submitted until tomorrow. How quickly the European Commission will then respond isn't clear. Although the EC's deadline for ruling on this deal was extended into September, some now wonder if, actually, a resolution could be reached sooner.
If Virgin Records is put on the block, especially if it includes Virgin UK, it will be interesting to see who bids. It has long been assumed that Warner will bid to buy any EMI assets Universal is forced to sell, especially if it believes it can get a good price. Though a spokesman for Richard Branson confirmed yesterday that the Virgin chief would also consider bidding, as part of a consortium, to buy back the record company he founded in 1972, and sold to EMI in 1992 (and who knows, Universal might throw in Branson's other record label adventure, V2, the UK-side of which it acquired in 2007).
A spokesman for the Virgin chief said yesterday: "Richard Branson and Virgin have been assessing how to get back into recorded music business for many years. The potential disposal of Virgin Records by Universal Music offers a wonderful opportunity to recreate a dynamic independent label in the market". As previously reported, former Virgin France exec Patrick Zelnik, now boss of French independent Naïve, has said he would lead a bid to buy Virgin with Branson if it came up for sale.
MERLIN WILL CONTINUE TO OPPOSE UNIVERSAL/EMI MERGER
As previously reported, Zelnik is co-President of pan-European indie label trade body IMPALA, which has been lobbying hard against the proposed EMI/Universal label merger. And yesterday the Executive Director of that body insisted that her organisation's stand on the EMI deal remained the same, despite some disagreements between its members.
Helen Smith told CMU: "Our board took a clear decision yesterday to continue its opposition to the Universal/EMI merger, rejecting remedies which do not deal with the specific problems set out in the EC's statement of objections. The issue isn't just digital, it's physical and access to media-exposure for new artists, as well as the foreclosure of independents when it comes to signing artists. We all respect Patrick Zelnik's view, but the FT article is the Naïve position, not the IMPALA position".
Meanwhile, the board of the body that represents numerous larger indie labels in the digital domain worldwide, Merlin, also voted to maintain its opposition to the deal and, unlike IMPALA, where there was seemingly dissenters when the matter was put to a vote, the digital rights body says its board was unanimous in agreeing to continue to oppose Universal's big bid.
Merlin CEO Charles Caldas told CMU: "In a market already hampered by Universal's exploitation of its market leading position, this proposed acquisition could only serve to damage the digital ecosystem, not only for our members, but also for potential investors and consumers".
He continued: "The Merlin board's latest decision underlines that we remain committed to our belief that the proposed deal would put even more power in the hands of the company already most likely to try and shape music services to its own advantage and would severely damage the digital music market just as it approaches the crucial tipping point where digital takes over from physical. We trust and believe that the European Union and US regulators reviewing this transaction understand the devastating impact this transaction would have on the digital music market and will act accordingly".
BIEBER SPEED PAP COULD BE PROSECUTED UNDER NEW CALIFORNIAN LAW
As previously reported, ten other motorists reported Bieber for driving at over 80mph down the freeway (some claimed he reached 100mph), and he was ultimately flagged down and given a ticket for speeding. But the Biebster claimed he was driving so fast to escape a persistent pap, and police reckon they saw the car carrying that photographer speeding away from the scene.
Police have now handed over their files to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, and officials there are considering whether to prosecute the unnamed photographer. If they do, according to Reuters, they would rely on a new bit of anti-paparazzi law introduced in California in 2010.
RICK ROSS SUED OVER NAME AND DEPOSIT
Rick Ross the rapper, real name William Roberts, took his stage name from the real Rick Ross, one of America's best known convicted drug traffickers (and in doing so turned down the opportunity to perform as Bill Bob, which would have been much more fun). The real Rick Ross, often known as Freeway Rick Ross, was still in prison when the rapper first emerged on the scene, but once freed he sued the hip hop man in 2010, claiming the rapper had misappropriated his name.
Freeway Ross's first lawsuit in the California federal court in 2010 failed, because the judge ruled that the claimant did not own any trademarks in the name, and couldn't claim such rights on the basis of his infamy. The former drugs man then tried again, through the California state court, claiming, according to Law 360, false advertising, unjust enrichment, unfair business practice, and common-law claims of misappropriation of name, identity and rights of publicity.
The main defendants in that lawsuit were William Roberts himself, and his original label Universal Music. The case failed in March on the basis of statute of limitations, the legal principle that says that litigation relating to a specific action must be taken within a predetermined time after the offending incident. The court ruled that the claimant hadn't acted soon enough, under Californian law, after Roberts and his label starting using the Rick Ross moniker. Ross tried to argue that each new album released by Roberts and Universal constituted a new offence, but the courts did not concur.
But, as previously reported, Warner Music only entered into its business partnership with Roberts to release music using the Rick Ross name in February 2011, meaning, Ross claimed, the statute of limitations did not apply if he sued them. And yesterday a Californian judge agreed, telling the music major it couldn't have the case dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, because of the 2011 agreement. Though the judge added that Ross's lawsuit would need to be amended, because it doesn't currently make specific allegations against the music company. Reps for the claimant said this would now be done.
Ross, who it's thought amassed a fortune of up to $600 million via his drug trafficking network through the 1980s and early 1990s, was given early release from prison due to good behaviour, and says he is now involved in youth projects to help his local community, and wants his name to be associated, not with rap, but with "the struggles Black America has had as a result of the crack cocaine epidemic, and to correctly represent what I went through personally when I was given a federal life sentence".
Welcoming this week's ruling, and confirming he is appealing the March decision, Ross told CMU: "While we are still confident in our case against Universal on appeal, and believe they were filed against in time, and each new CD restarted the statue of limitations too, we take this [new] decision as a good sign".
Elsewhere in Rick Ross the rapper news, he, his sister and his manager are all being sued by a UK company over a planned appearance at a concert in Nigeria in 2011.
London-based Zons PR worked for African beer brand Star Lager on its annual Star Mega Jam event, and booked Ross to headline via his sister, Tawanda Roberts. The promotions firm handed over a deposit of $87,500, but Ross ultimately pulled out of the Nigerian show citing security concerns. But, say Zons PR, he is yet to return the deposit, and has refused to discuss paying back the money or agreeing to an alternative project. Ross's people are yet to respond to the lawsuit.
PETE DOHERTY 'ASKED TO LEAVE' THAI REHAB
The Daily Mail quotes Programme Director Alastair Mordey as saying this of Doherty, who entered The Cabin in Chiang Mai voluntarily for chronic addiction to heroin and crack cocaine: "Pete was discharged today for therapeutic reasons. It is important to maintain the integrity of the treatment programme for the other clients to have a good chance of recovery. Pete understands this and therefore the reasons behind why we have asked him to leave".
He goes on to add: "Although our parting with Pete is amicable, we are of course disappointed to see him leave. We hope some of the things he has learnt here will help him in the future and look forward to the day when Pete decides to consider recovery again".
PASSION PIT CANCEL TOUR DATES
Writing on the band's website, he said: "On behalf of the band and myself, I would like to greatly apologise for the show cancelations. In order for me to ensure that there will be no further disruptions, I am going to take the time to work on improving my mental health. For now, I'd like to thank all of our fans for their understanding. I hope to see all of you very soon in a much different light".
In a recent interview with The Observer, Angelakos said: "I've been suffering from... you know, bipolar, since I was seventeen. But I don't think that has anything to do with the music. Lots of people try to over-glorify it, like it's this thing that's really interesting, and actually it's the most painful thing in the world so I'd rather not talk about it".
Despite his claims that his mental health has nothing to do with the music, he added that seeing the reaction to his songs and their lyrical content at live shows can been unsettling: "[You] see the way they're dancing and smiling and jumping up and down and singing these songs and you're like: 'You have no idea what's going on!' [Passion Pit's debut album] 'Manners', especially, is so bleak. That's a very introverted record. I really did not like myself. But I've always been able to write happy [sounding] music very easily and I don't know why".
For more information on bi-polar disorder and how you can give and receive help for it, read Mind's 'Understanding Bi-polar Disorder' guide.
POLARIS SHORTLIST OUT
Cadence Weapon - Hope In Dirt City
BOB DYLAN ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM
ELBOW RELEASING B-SIDES COMPILATION
Singer Guy Garvey attached this note on the LP: "The band have always loved B-side land and this is a collection of our favourites. None of our B-sides are album rejects. It's a different space, usually just post finishing an album when all the members of Elbow are chiming and feeling very creative. This gives 'Dead In The Boot' a real late night vibe. My sister came up with the title after we released 'Asleep In The Back.' Some of these songs are the favourites we have ever written. It was important to us that this collection be an album in its own right, so for some fans it may seem like there are glaring omissions, but these songs are the ones that hung together perfectly".
THE XX TALK NEW LP
He said: "We were very much alone without anyone. It was easy to do what we wanted. We went into this second album and hardly any of it was premeditated. There weren't many discussions and we didn't go into it with very many limitations. We're still the same band [but] we weren't intentionally trying to sound like us. We had a good time and we were adventurous".
Jamie xx, who has been involved in various extracurricular projects since the band's debut, later told Lowe: "I had to relearn how to work with my two best friends rather than with people I didn't really know or just on my own. That took a bit of time".
'Coexist', by the way, is out on 10 Sep. And this is its tracklisting:
PLAN B TO LIVE-STREAM LONDON DATE
Taking place at the capital's Great Suffolk Street Warehouse, the show is set to be streamed in all its multi-angle, high-def splendour on 23 Jul at youtube.com/lovelivetv, where backstage interviews will also be free to view. Kano, Labrinth and poet John Cooper Clarke will all make appearances as special guests, the latter having appeared as himself in the film.
The event will mark the first in a series of collaborative broadcasts between music content providers LoveLive and YouTube, whose collective aims are to "provide the definitive fan experience", and to "give fans worldwide the ability to tune in and take part".
Plan B has just premiered his 'Ill Manors' Labrinth duet 'Playing With Fire', as is released as part of the LP on 23 Jul. Listen to it here.
KING TUFF TO TOUR
11 Sep: London, Shacklewell Arms
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
BT LONDON LIVE, Hyde Park, London, 28 Jul - 11 Aug: With Aiden Grimshaw, Tynchy Stryder, Dry The River and Noisettes amongst the random array of artists playing its just-announced BT Vision Stage, British Telecom's free-for-all Olympics programme also hosts Tom Jones, McFly, Rebecca Ferguson, Newton Faulkner and Feeder amid its overall listings so far. www.btlondonlive.com
MINT FESTIVAL, Lotherton Hall, Leeds, 29 Sep: With its complete line-up now made public, this year's 10,000 capacity Mint Festival will feature sets from Wolf & Lamb, Soul Clap, Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones and Joker to name but five, with further bookings including Surgeon, Ben Klock and Sandwell District. www.mintfestival.co.uk
ITUNES FESTIVAL, The Roundhouse, London, 1-30 Sep: Frightened Rabbit and headliners Biffy Clyro form the latest additions to the iTunes fest's ever-expanding roster, aligning with the A-list likes of Usher, Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Norah Jones, David Guetta, Plan B and JLS. www.itunesfestival.com
RIHANNA, LANA DEL REY AND... TIESTO TO REPRESENT FASHION BRANDS
First is Rihanna, who'll 'design' (or possibly glance and nod absent-mindedly at) a capsule line for high street retailers River Island for spring 2013. She says: "I've been wanting to design my own collection for some time. River Island is the perfect partner for me to collaborate with and working with a British, family-run business also really appealed to me. I find London really inspiring and River Island loves to have fun with clothes. I'm looking forward to working with them and creating something really special".
Rival singing star Lana Del Rey will front Swedish outfitters H&M's autumn/winter campaign, modelling the new line in a series of promo photos and recording a cover of 1950s classic 'Blue Velvet' for a short promotional film premiering online in September. The brand, which chose Del Rey for her status as a "style icon", apparently, characterises the campaign's theme as "a modern and feminine woman with a soft attitude", with H&M creative director Donald Schneider adding: "The mood is very LA noir".
You can see Lana epitomising those very themes, which apparently translate to pink angora cardigans and earrings the size of a baby's fist, in this image.
And now to international DJ Tiesto; perhaps a less likely fashionista than either Rihanna or Lana, but who nevertheless has partnered with all-American denim specialists Guess to co-brand a limited edition collection. Comprising 22 pieces, a press release states (http://www.guess.com/tiesto/#) it's inspired by Tiesto's personal style ethos and "the growing power of electronic music", things that'll be made tangible in such items as black and electric blue "coated twill jackets", "skinny-fit jeans" and a "multi-functional" timepiece.
In addition to all this, Tiesto will also tour the world (well, certain select cities within it) for a series of Guess-sponsored performances, visiting Ibiza, Paris, Las Vegas, Dubai and Sydney. But not, unfortunately, Oceana in Watford.
Speaking to Billboard, Tiesto says: "I've had Guess clothing in my wardrobe for years. It's a fantastic brand which is really relevant both for me and my audience. Their combination of creativity and ambition was really appealing to me".
BIEBER'S SPOT CREAM ENDORSEMENT MISLEADING, SAYS ASA
The Advertising Standards Authority first started investigating the British ad - which was linked to a US and online marketing campaign in which Bieber asks "want to know why my fans talk about my hair and not my zits, because I don't get zits" - when a complainer pointed out that Proactive is made of different ingredients in the UK than the US. So, the complainer claimed, American celebs endorsing the product hadn't actually used the cream UK consumers could buy.
But not so, said Proactiv, the US stars flogging its product in the UK had all used the British version of the cream at some point, and it had letters from each of them stating so. The ASA conceded this was indeed the case, but noted that the celebs in question had each made use of the spot busting product for short periods between 2008 and 2010. But the 2011 ads, the ASA reckoned, implied continued use of the product by all the celebrity endorsers.
Said the regulator: "We considered the overall impression of the ads was that the celebrities were continued and regular users of Proactiv and noted the same endorsement claims were included on the US Proactiv website".
It continued: "We noted the signed statements, [but] the celebrities had each used the UK formulation of the product for a period of only several weeks, between one and three years before the ads appeared. We noted the ads were targeted at a UK audience and that the UK Proactiv products had a different active ingredient to the US version. In that context, we therefore considered the claims of continued use had not been substantiated. We concluded that the ads were misleading".
BLACK CAB SESSIONS LAUNCHES LABEL
The new label's first singing is London-based singer/producer Wall, who will release a single, 'Magazine', through the label next month, followed by an EP later in the year.
Check out the single below, and read our interview with Black Cab Sessions' Chris Pattinson here.
ARTROCKER LAUNCHES IPAD EDITION
Editor-in-Chief Tom Fawcett told CMU: "Thanks to tablet technology, magazines and books now face the same challenge that the music industry had to adapt to; magazines are now being bought digitally via Newsstand, Kindle etc. But there is a difference between digital music and digital publications".
He continued: "With a digital magazine you still have the thing in your hand via a tablet. The packaging remains and is in fact enhanced, with an iPad edition the magazine positively glows at you. And you can do wonderful interactive stuff with an iPad edition - there's more depth with videos and music all there at the tap of a screen. Unlike the music experience, digital actually makes magazines better, allowing us to do all the things we've, hitherto, only dreamt of".
ADAM LEVINE WOULD PUNCH NARROW-MINDED MUSIC FANS "IN THE FACE"
Asked by The Sun if there would ever be bands as big as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones again, Levine said no, because: "Everything is too splintered now. There's no [single dominant music] scene. At some point there's going to have to be some scene that comes back. But I'm of the belief that, because our culture has changed so much, people don't find that exclusivity very important any more, which I love because I hate it".
He added: "People who tell me they only like one kind of music, I want to punch them in the face. It pisses me off so I'm glad those walls have been broken down".