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UNIVERSAL PROPOSES RADICAL DIVESTMENTS TO SMOOTH THROUGH EMI DEAL
As previously reported, although it originally insisted that its EMI bid could be approved in Europe without remedies, in recent weeks - after EC regulators provided a 'statement of objections' to the deal - Universal has been busy putting together a list of concessions to allay fears about the power of a combined Universal/EMI, mainly focused on the divestment of certain EMI divisions in some territories.
EC regulators had already indicated that a list of proposed sell-offs informally floated by Universal chiefs earlier this month were not sufficient, leading to a more wide-ranging set of proposals being submitted on Friday. And pretty radical they are too, from a UK perspective.
Confirming it had submitted its formal remedy proposals on Friday afternoon, Universal said in a statement: "Universal Music Group has submitted a package of remedies to the European Commission relating to its proposed acquisition of EMI Recorded Music. We believe the package fully addresses the Commission's concerns and follows our constructive discussions with regulators, independent labels and competitors. We look forward to working further with the Commission and are confident of receiving clearance".
Shortly after that statement was issued, current EMI boss Roger Faxon sent a memo to his staff outlining the divestments proposed in Universal's latest submission. And the memo revealed that, if accepted by European regulators, the proposals could basically result in the end of EMI, the British major music company, in Britain, with substantial chunks of the firm's UK operations up for sale.
In fact, pretty much only the non-classical side of Virgin Records (ironically, given that's the division many expected Universal to sell) and some periphery smaller British labels would remain in Universal's hands, which may well not be enough to justify the mega-major creating a standalone EMI division within its UK business, with remaining rosters and catalogues instead being absorbed by existing Universal units such as Polydor.
In Faxon's words, the full list of proposed divestments is as follows:
1. In the UK, an entity composed of the rosters and catalogues of Parlophone (excluding the Beatles, both as a group and individually), Mute, Chrysalis (excluding the Robbie Williams catalogue) and Ensign would be sold. Included in that disposal would also be the Pink Floyd catalogue and the recently concluded new deal with David Guetta, along with his catalogue. Note that these disposals only relate to exploitation of this repertoire within the European Economic Area.
2. EMI Classics and Virgin Classics would also be divested in the EEA.
3. EMI's share of the 'Now' brand and compilation business in the EEA would also be sold. However Universal would keep its share and participation in the 'Now' compilation venture.
4. The proposal also includes the divestment of a number of EMI's operating businesses in Continental Europe. Those local operating companies are EMI France, EMI Belgium, EMI Czech Republic, EMI Poland, EMI Portugal, EMI Sweden and EMI Norway.
5. Universal is also proposing to divest some its own businesses, principal among which are Sanctuary, Co-Op, and UMG Greece plus several European jazz labels.
6. They would also commit to terminate or not to bid for a number of high-profile European licenses for major Anglo-American and domestic repertoire, namely Disney Records, Hollywood Records, Ministry of Sound, and Restos du Coeur in France.
Of course, if one party was to buy all the UK operations of EMI that Universal is proposing to sell, and then ran that as one standalone entity, then arguably the British major would live on over here as an independent label, even if not using the EMI name. Though only really an existing major music company or private equity would likely be able to afford such a deal and, of course, there had been hopes in the independent music community that existing indie label owners might be able to bid for different EMI units, a route that would lead to what is now EMI UK being totally sliced and diced.
As reported on Friday, the private equity backed music rights business of German media group Bertlesmann, BMG, has expressed an interest in buying Parlophone, a move that would boost the company's sound recording interests - although BMG is in theory an integrated music rights business, the majority of its current catalogue consists of publishing rights in songs. Whether BMG could or would bid for all of EMI's UK interests isn't clear - if they did it would see the Chrysalis recordings catalogue reunited with the Chrysalis publishing business that BMG acquired in 2010.
Faxon admitted in his memo that the list of proposed divestments would pose an awful lot of questions for EMI staffers, especially in the company's London office, but stressed that as of yet nothing was certain, as European regulators would have to feedback on the proposals. While the EC will start discussing the concessions with other interested stakeholders as soon as today, Faxon reckoned we are still looking at September at the earliest for a final ruling from European officials on the deal, adding that the sale of any assets would only then begin, and could take a while to complete. And, of course, the regulatory investigation in the US is also still ongoing.
Faxon concludes: "With a wind behind our backs we could close the sale and EMI could pass to UMG as early as the end of September. However I think it is more realistic to plan for a close at the end of October. In any event it is only at the close of the deal that any of the disposals could be put up for sale. Then of course there will be an extended period before that sale process results in a completed transaction. So as I say, we have some considerable time to get this sorted, and to make plans that take into account the needs of our staff and our artists".
UNDERAGE FESTIVAL CANCELS
The event, which caters to thirteen to eighteen year olds, usually takes place in August, alongside the Field Day and Apple Cart festivals. All three moved this year because of the Olympics. The latter two moved to an earlier slot in the year, while Underage opted for a late August date in an alternative venue, the smaller Shoreditch Park the day before the 1234 Festival. In a statement last week, Underage blamed contractual issues with the new site relating to production standards for the cancellation.
Event organisers wrote: "Due to the Olympics we were forced into moving from our usual date and home in Victoria Park to a later date and new location in Shoreditch Park. Despite a positive start to the site move, and repeated assurances that production levels would be suitable for a festival of this kind, we now find ourselves in a situation where we have no choice but to cancel the event".
They continued: "Unforeseen circumstances with our site hire contract mean we are no longer able to meet production levels and we do not want to risk the safety and smooth running of an event for thirteen to eighteen year olds. After the amount of work we have put in over the last six years to make Underage Festival the successful event it is today, it is incredibly sad that we have to make this decision, and it's one that has not been made lightly".
Full refunds will be available at the point of purchase, and Underage organisers say that they are already planning to return with a full festival in Victoria Park next year on "our own terms once again".
SNOOP DOGG BANNED FROM NORWAY FOR TWO YEARS
Custom officials found eight grams of the drug as the rapper passed through Kjevik Airport on his way to the Hove Festival. He was also carrying more cash with him than is allowed under Norwegian law.
The rapper was fined 52,000 kroner (£5500) as well as being banned from the country after admitting the two offences. A legal rep for Snoop said his client was unlikely to appeal and could "live with the decision".
KATHERINE AND TJ JACKSON REACH AGREEMENT OVER GUARDIANSHIP OF MICHAEL'S CHILDREN - RANDY NOT IMPRESSED
As previously reported, amidst feuding between various factions of the Jackson family, and between certain Jackson siblings and the Michael Jackson estate, a court last week gave Tito Junior Jackson temporary guardianship of his late uncle's children, with a judge ruling that "third parties" were preventing Katherine Jackson from properly fulfilling her guardian role.
The ruling followed claims by Michael's children that they hadn't seen their grandmother for over a week, and that they were worried about her. Though Randy Jackson had already told the media that his mother was having some rest time, but would return to her LA home where Michael's children live in due course.
She did just that on Friday, and was originally expected to fight last week's court ruling, but then her lawyer, Perry Sanders, said that his client had reached an agreement with TJ to share the guardianship of Michael's children, adding that a proposal to that effect would be taken to court next week.
But Randy is not impressed with that deal. He alleged via Twitter: "When TJ asked my mother if he should ask for temporary guardianship, my Mother told TJ NO - twice... In order to obtain temporary guardianship, TJ lied to the court [about other family members interfering with Katherine's guardianship]. Rebbie, Janet, Jermaine and I would never harm our mother and we are doing our best to protect her and the Estate knows that. I want to know why Perry Sanders would consider a negotiation based on lies".
CARIBOU LABEL SIGNS TORO Y MOI DANCE ALIAS
A-side 'Fetch' is still available as a free download as part of a BTS Radio mix Bundick made back in May. So if you're feeling illicit, take a copy here.
As was announced last week, Snaith's label will also release his own new LP, 'JIAOLONG', under his more clubby alternative moniker Daphni on 8 Oct. The Les Sins single doesn't have a release date yet, so stay tuned to toroymoi.blogspot.co.uk for further updates.
OLYMPIC CEREMONY SOUNDTRACK ON SALE
Well, you're in luck, because Universal's Decca has already released said soundtrack, making it available via iTunes just as the big bash in East London was finishing on Friday night. As well as Underworld's new work, on there you will find a bit of Elgar, plus music from Mike Oldfield, Frank Turner, Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal, Emeli Sandé and Paul McCartney.
Introducing his Olympic soundtrack, Underworld's Rick Smith told CMU: "Music is Britain's cultural heartbeat; it's a perpetual act of revolutionary thought. From William Blake to the Beatles via The Clash and The Chemical Brothers, the soundtrack to our lives fizzes and hums all around us like a stray signal from a radio dial that your internal antenna just can't help but tune into".
The full track listing for the opening ceremony soundtrack, split over two discs if you choose to buy it on CD when it goes on sale in that format on Thursday, is as follows...
Disk One: Isles of Wonder
NEW LP OUT "BEFORE SPRING", SAYS MOVIE STAR GAGA
The Lady will also make her big-screen debut alongside Jessica Alba and Charlie Sheen - who's playing the president of the United States - in 'Sin City' director Robert Rodriguez's new movie 'Machete Kills'. The sequel to 2010's 'Machete', the film will feature Gaga as a character called La Chameleon, and it is set to premiere in 2013.
Replying to a tweet by Rodriguez (complete with a photo of Gagz in costume) in which the filmmaker declared she had "kicked SO MUCH ASS" on set, LG said: "Yes it's true, I will be making my debut as an actress in the amazing 'MACHETE KILLS' BY @RODRIGUEZ I'M SO EXCITED!!! AH! Filming was insane".
AH! And that really is it for today's Gaga headlines, for now.
VITALIC TO RELEASE LP
Reading like a who's who of noughties-era electronica, the record's guest list includes Shitdisco's Joe Reeves, Goose's Mickael Karkousse, and Owlle and Rebeka Warrior of electroclash band Sexy Sushi.
Good times. And all that remains to be done now is to download lead 'Rave Age' single 'No More Sleep', and take a look at the LP's tracklisting.
Rave Kids Go
MARSHAL TELLER COMPILES ANNIVERSARY LP
Out on 10 Sep, its eight component tracks - all by different bands - will be divided between two seven-inch vinyl records.
MS HQ explain its premise: "The idea behind this record was to feature four bands that we have released previously over the last two years, and then get them to choose who they would like to share the compilation with".
Copies of the collection are strictly limited to just 300, with all artwork and posters designed and drawn by the bands themselves. Pre-order link here.
And here's Male Bonding/Weird Dreams offshoot Cheatahs' 'Let's Build A Fort', as features first on the LP, to listen to now.
Cheatahs - Let's Build a Fort
KILLING JOKE FRONTMAN CRITICISES THE CULT OVER TOUR DOWNGRADE
Not only that, but KJ frontman Jaz Coleman has blasted touring partners The Cult in a furious Facebook tirade, singling out the punk quartet for extorting fans, lacking all integrity and claiming to be from LA. The Cult are in fact from Bradford, so that last point seems fair.
Initially billed as an arena tour, the outing has since been downgraded to smaller-capacity academies in Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Birmingham and London. So far, so not very good.
Or so thinks Jaz Coleman, who last week addressed this Facebook note (since deleted) to his 'Gatherers': "It gives me great pleasure to announce the cancellation of the upcoming gigs with The Cult and The Mission. Frankly, playing at a gig with The Cult never appealed to me in the first place. The only reason we allowed ourselves to be talked into it was to blow both bands off the stage and to steal their respective audiences".
The statement continues: "As the concert has been downgraded to a venue that we have recently headlined (and sold out) it doesn't make sense. In addition to this Gatherers would only get to listen to a one hour set. Then there would be a problem with the dressing room and witnessing The Cult charge the fans $200 per head for a meet and greet".
And (almost) finally: "Lastly, all their songs suck! They clearly have no integrity (they refer to their hometown as LA).
Anyway. In case you want them, here are the new academy dates, which will in all likelihood still take place with or without (unthinkable as that is) Killing Joke:
10 Sep: Manchester, Apollo
BARDO POND TO TOUR
And those dates are:
1 Aug: Birmingham, Hair & Hounds
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
BEERMAGEDDON, Somercotes, Derbyshire, 24-26 Aug: Allerjen, Illflower. www.beermageddon.co.uk
ITUNES, The Roundhouse, London, 1-30 Sep: Matchbox Twenty. www.itunesfestival.com
IMPALA CRITICISES CHANGES TO PRIVATE COPY LEVY IN SPAIN
In most European countries copyright law allows consumers to make private back-up copies of recordings they buy, but adds a levy to devices and consumables used in the making of such copies, which is paid collectively to the rights owners whose work is being copied.
Traditionally the levy was applied to blank cassettes and CDRs, though in the digital age, where back-up copies are made to PCs, smartphones and digital lockers, countries where the system applies have had to work out where to apply the levy instead. Needless to say, the makers of any devices that levies may be attached to have generally hit out at any plans to do so.
In Spain the levy was initially applied to "media content storage devices", but earlier this year the country's then newish government repealed that measure, and instead said that rights owners would be compensated by the government directly.
More details of how that will work have now been revealed, and the proposals have met with criticism from rights owners, who say that the new approach makes the measure a 'subsidy' rather than a right under copyright, while adding that the sum of money the Spanish government proposes to hand over is far too low. IMPALA and others also say the new system ignores obligations under European Law.
In a statement last week, the various trade bodies wrote: "This change contradicts the aim of developing a creative economy and it also goes against EU law on copyright and the internal market. The Spanish government is now proposing a ridicule subsidy of five million euros per year to compensate for the same economic damage. Meanwhile, the prices of consumer goods used for copying have not been reduced since the levy was abolished".
"The new system in Spain cuts the link between the act of private copying and the payment of fair compensation due to right holders. [But] such a royalty system cannot be assimilated to a tax. Private copying remuneration is not state aid. It is a system developed at international and EU level to encourage and reward artists as the main agents of creative, cultural and entertainment activities. We therefore call on the Spanish government to comply with EU law and to respect artists and the cultural and creative industries, by reinstating the previously existing compensation system for private copying".
As previously reported, in the UK there is no levy system because no private copy right exists under British copyright law (even though everyone makes private copies). The recent Hargreaves Review of copyright laws proposed introducing such a private copy right, but without a levy, something the UK music industry is likely to oppose.
CHERRYTREE MAN COULD STAY WITH UNIVERSAL
Cherrytree had operated as an imprint of Interscope since 2005, but the deal was up for renewal and no terms could be agreed. But, it now seems that, even after Kierszenbaum had announced his departure, talks continued, and a new deal has now been reached, though the specifics of it are not known.
WARNER MERGES ITS LABEL SERVICES DIVISIONS
Orleans told CMU: "ADA's mission is to provide the best possible services to extraordinary indies. It is a mutual choice when we work with a label or an artist, and we build deep, lasting partnerships that help our clients develop long-term careers. Expanding our services means greater resource, broader expertise and more senior level support. This is a clear signal that we intend to stay leaders in our field by investing in our future and the futures of our labels".
While Weagly added: "The combined entity is the best in the business. Two exceptional teams just came together to create an unmatched business partner for our labels and artists".
HMV SEEKS TO CHANGE LSE CATEGORY
Basically it would allow more flexibility for management to sell certain assets without having to go get shareholder approval for every deal. HMV is still investigating how best to sell off the rest of its live music division, having successfully sold the Hammersmith Apollo, in a bid to raise some much needed cash.
The retail company said in a statement: "The board considers that the proposed transfer is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders as a whole. The board believes this transfer will facilitate a more cost efficient and timely strategic review of the live business and reduce administrative costs generally. Furthermore, the board wishes to align its regulatory responsibilities and the associated costs thereof with the company's size".
The company's board would need the approval of 75% of the group's shareholders to make the change. A General Meeting to take the vote is expected to be called anytime now.
ARIEL PINK TALKS DRUGS, GAY MARRIAGE AND "IMMATURE" NEW LP
Speaking in the new episode of Pitchfork Weekly, the appropriately pink-haired auteur says that 'Mature Themes', which is out via 4AD on 21 Aug, is "for mature audiences only, but there's a lot of immaturity in this record".
So that's nice. But hey, what of Ariel's views on gay marriage? "I'm very old fashioned, very traditional in my values. I don't understand what all this gay marriage stuff is about, it really pisses me off. I don't really even support marriage, per se".
Still being all provocative/insane, he later philosophises: "I'm all for being a deviant, all for being a deviant, and being proud. Don't pretend like you're Betty Crocker. I love gays, by the way".
And then: "I love paedophiles too, and I love necrophiliacs [sic], and all these other people. When do they get their marriage and orientation, when do they get to talk about their sexual repression and how society doesn't accept them?"
And on drugs: "What if doing drugs killed you, but it saved other people's lives? That would be a good reason to do them, I'd say, and I definitely believe in taking drugs to alleviate the pain and suffering of this miserable life".
And last of all: "I'm just starting to get sick of myself talking".
Us too, Ariel, us too. You can see the entire interview, plus a shopping trip with slender Brooklynites DIIV, here.