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CRUNCH MEETING DUE NEXT WEEK AS EUROPE'S INVESTIGATION INTO UNIVERSAL'S EMI BID REACHES FINAL STAGE
As previously reported, despite initially saying no concessions should be required to get regulator approval for its ambitious EMI acquisition, Universal bosses subsequently proposed to sell off a significant portion of EMI's European assets in order to get European Commission approval for their deal. Those proposals included offloading EMI units in various European countries, and the Parlophone and Chrysalis labels in the UK.
Though opponents to the deal continued to argue that any divestments to secure deal approval should include the sale of global rights in key catalogues, and it's thought the final proposal to be shared with national authorities next week will include the global sale of the all important Parlophone label (sans The Beatles catalogue, obviously).
Since Universal conceded that some substantial sell-offs would be required to win deal approval in Europe, some have speculated that the enforced offloading of catalogues and European units could result in some substantial losses for the mega-major, ie it would have to sell the divested EMI assets at a price lower than that it is committed to pay current EMI owners Citigroup, pro rata.
But one almost guaranteed bidder for some of those EMI assets, the boss of BMG, Hartwig Masuch, had told the Financial Times that he thinks there will be enough interest in most of the EMI catalogues and units up for sale - and Parlophone especially - that Universal should be able to sell those assets on at the price it has paid for them.
Confirming he was "very interested" in acquiring some of EMI's recording catalogues (despite the current incarnation of BMG being primarily in the business of music publishing rather than recording rights), Masuch said he had already entered into non-exclusive negotiations with Universal, and that his company's owners - German media giant Bertelsmann and equity group KKR - were "very supportive" of plans to buy a bit of EMI.
He added that if BMG was to acquire a sizable share of the offloaded EMI units, giving it an interest in sound recordings more on par with its publishing business, it would in essence create a fourth major music company, allaying - perhaps - those concerns that the demise of EMI has created a music rights industry dominated by just three major players (ie Universal, Sony and Warner - the former two of which, of course, were in part elevated to their current uber-size by each acquiring half of the original BMG major music company).
If Universal does get approval for its EMI deal in Europe, all eyes will then fall onto America's Federal Trade Commission, which is considering the proposals in the States, where there has been considerable political interest in the big music deal. Traditionally you'd expect the US competition regulators to be less severe than their European counterparts, though no one seems certain which way this one will go. No formal concessions have been proposed in America yet, though opponents to the deal have called for divestment proposals Stateside to match those in Europe.
Though some are still lobbying the FTC to block the deal outright. That includes the American Antitrust Institute, that raised concerns about the EMI acquisition just this week. Noting that a combined Universal/EMI would have had 51 of the titles in the Billboard Top 100 for 2011, the AAI said in a letter this week: "We urge the Federal Trade Commission to enjoin [prohibit] the transaction and preserve EMI as a fourth major music label in the already concentrated recorded music industry".
As the AAI mainly exists to campaign for more aggressive anti-trust regulation, its opposition to the Universal/EMI deal isn't surprising, of course. Nevertheless, Universal spokesman Peter Lofrumento issued a statement refuting the Institute's claims, telling reporters: "Our acquisition of EMI will create even more opportunities for new and established artists, expand the marketplace with more music and support new digital services. We are working closely with the Federal Trade Commission and remain confident of regulatory approval".
Elsewhere in Universal news, the major reported earnings of 88 million euros for the most recent quarter from revenues of 961 million euros. Revenues were down on the same quarter in 2011, but profits were up.
CHRIS LIGHTY 1968 - 2012
Lighty was born in New York, and first made connections in the city's emerging hip hop scene by helping out the likes of DJ Red Alert and KRS-One, at one time simply carrying records for the former. Once established in the scene, Lighty became manager for several prominent rap groups of the mid-80s, including Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.
His talents were spotted by early hip hop moguls Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen, who recruited him to work for their Rush Management business in 1989. He brought the acts he already represented to the company, while also subsequently working with Public Enemy, Brand Nubian, Big Daddy Kane and Eric B & Rakim, among many others. During this time he also occasionally rapped himself.
He founded his company Violator while still working for Rush, and when the latter closed in the mid-1990s several of its clients moved over to Lighty's agency, which had become the primary project for both him and business partner Mona Scott-Young.
Violator grew into one of US hip hop's most important management firms, with spin-off divisions focusing on brand partnerships, digital projects and record releases. Missy Elliott, Mobb Deep, LL Cool J and, perhaps most notably, 50 Cent joined the roster of acts Violator represented. Meanwhile, through various major label alliances, Lighty also personally held executive roles at the likes of Jive, Def Jam and Loud Records.
Last September, Lighty announced a major new alliance with another big US talent management company, Primary Wave, a deal which created Primary Violator. Light was appointed COO of the new venture, working alongside Primary Wave execs Larry Mestel and Michael 'Blue' Williams. Light said at the time: "I am excited to launch Primary Violator with two of the most talented and respected executives in the industry. The music business is all about innovation and this strategic partnership will create a more diversified company, which will bring forth a wealth of opportunities for our clients".
After Lighty's death was confirmed yesterday, Mestel said in a statement: "We are extremely shocked and saddened by this tragic news. Chris was a friend, business partner and most of all, an icon, role model and true legend of the music and entertainment industry. He will be missed by many, and we send love and support to his family".
The New York Daily News has reported that Lighty died from a seemingly self-inflicted gunshot wound, possibly following an argument with his ex-wife. Various media have noted that recent remarks by the executive on Twitter were philosophical and downhearted, while the Daily News reckons the Violator chief was facing problems over unpaid taxes. Though there has, as yet, been no formal announcement regarding the circumstances around Lighty's death.
WELSH MUSIC PRIZE SHORLIST ANNOUNCED
And here is the shortlist selected by a panel of journalists, DJs and music industry bods...
Bright Light Bright Light - Make Me Believe In Hope
UNIVERSAL PUBLISHING SIGNS ADMIN DEAL WITH BILLY JOEL
Universal Music Publishing top man Zach Horowitz told CMU: "We couldn't be more thrilled that Billy Joel has chosen to bring his songs to Rondor and UMPG. There are few songwriters in the history of music that have created a catalogue of such hits, depth and quality. With Rondor's distinctive focus and care, and UMPG's global scale, administrative infrastructure and network of worldwide sync specialists, we are uniquely positioned to maximise the extraordinary opportunities that exist for Billy's music".
Joel himself, meanwhile, said: "Publishing is a cornerstone of the music business, one of the reasons songs live and thrive around the world years after they've been written or recorded. Rondor and Universal Music Publishing Group understand the complexities of music publishing in general and the nuances of my catalogue in particular. The successful ongoing administration of my songs is in good hands under the stewardship of Rondor and UMPG".
PLACEBO CONFIRM LICENSING DEAL WITH UNIVERSAL
Confirming the deal, Tom Bohne, Senior Vice President of Universal Music Germany, told CMU: "We're thrilled that Brian, Stefan and Steve have chosen to sign with Universal Music Germany for a worldwide deal and we look forward to engaging with their loyal fan base as well as reaching new audiences through the release of their next album and special editions of their back catalogue. We firmly believe that Placebo will continue creating music that pushes the limits artistically and commercially and are happy they entrust us with their art".
Alex Weston from the band's management Riverman added: "Placebo's last album campaign, which we were happy with, had us, as management and label, juggling various licensing deals with independents all over the world. Whilst it allowed us enormous freedom and control and resulted in a continued level of success which we are incredibly proud of, the work load was astronomical and actually made us appreciate what a major label can bring to the party. We were very fortunate to have a lot of interest from some great labels and it was a complex negotiation getting to this point".
He added: "We've been incredibly impressed with the Universal teams we've so far met in London, France and various key territories, and we're delighted to be doing a deal through our German friends who we've known for many years and who have shown enormous enthusiasm for Placebo. Through them, we know the band will get the attention, commitment and worldwide reach we require for the next phase in Placebo's career".
KING CANNIBAL BECOMES HOUSE OF BLACK LANTERNS
The new venture sees Richards move further away from the drum n bass and dubstep realms he's previously inhabited, though he very much retains the distinct dark and foreboding atmosphere which all of his productions are swathed in. The new project will also have a visual element to it.
Says Richards: "House Of Black Lanterns is firstly about suspense, space and depth. More restrained than anything I have worked on before, the threat of violence is buried in deep texture rather than worn of my sleeve. Space is important to this project, both in terms of the space within these productions and the creative space. House Of Black Lanterns will be an evolving experiment bringing in shifting contributors. I'm excited to share the birth of this project, as it has been my primary focus for the last year and is my sole priority".
King Cannibal will remain a going concern as a live act - his next show a performance with the Kronos Quartet at the Sacrum Profanum festival in Poland next month - though Richards says he has no further plans to record under that name. But then, when you've submitted one of the best tracks to Björk's massive 'Biophilia' remix project, you might as well stop there, eh?
The debut House Of Black Lanterns album is planned for release early next year via Jon Convex's Convex Industries record company, while Richards has also launched his own label, Shock & Desire, for other unreleased material. A single through that label is expected later this year.
You can hear a whole load of House Of Black Lanterns material, plus that aforementioned Björk rework in this mix, which Richards has put together for The Quietus. You can also download it to keep forever and ever right here.
BLINK 182 RECORDING AGAIN
When questioned as to what exactly had begun, Hoppus added: "Sorry, not trying to be mysterious. Yes, this is me opening a new file for a Blink 182 song. I had three ideas today, all very different. I wish I knew how to operate Logic better. These guitar tracks sound like Frankenstein's monster singing dubstep".
ONE DIRECTION SHARE LP ARTWORK, RELEASE DATE
The 1D quintet presented said essential details via a very well-rehearsed yet casual video message, confirming that the new record will be available to pre-order from 3 Sep "at midnight". The actual release date, if you'd rather know that, is 12 Nov.
VILLAGERS DEBUT NEW SINGLE
Here he is talking about what inspired him to write it: "I was looking up at the sky on a particularly clear night and it struck me that I had never written a song about those little moments when you feel a fundamental and awesome sense of wonder and a simultaneously humbling recognition of absolute insignificance".
GRASS HOUSE TO RELEASE SINGLE VIA NEW LABEL DANCING COINS
The track, as features backing vocals by Cold Specks' Al Spx, will be the label's inaugural release on 10 Sep. Listen to it now, if you like.
Event details here.
50TH ANNIVERSARY ROLLING STONES FILM TO GET CINEMA SCREENINGS
The film's director Brett Morgen says: "This is not an academic history lesson. 'Crossfire Hurricane' allows the viewer to experience the Stones' journey from a unique vantage point. It's an aural and visual rollercoaster ride".
'Crossfire Hurricane' will also be screened, rock n roll rollercoaster clichés and all, on BBC Two later this year, and will be available on DVD in November.
Meanwhile, speculation is rife that four 50th anniversary concerts will also take place this autumn, with some saying Richard Branson will use the flagship shows to launch a new live music enterprise. As previously reported, all four current members of the Stones were recently working together in a Parisian studio, possibly created bonus material content for an upcoming compilation.
PENDULUM DJING IN LONDON
HAIM TO TOUR
The band apparently also have a new single out 'later this year', which will represent the first fruits of their signing to Polydor in June.
Anyway, the dates:
10 Nov: Leeds, Constellations Festival
SAUNA YOUTH TO PLAY LP LAUNCH PARTY
"EXHAUSTED" AZEALIA BANKS CANCELS FURTHER FESTIVAL SETS
The rapper has opted out of Ireland's Electric Picnic, having already withdrawn from Ibiza Rocks earlier this week. Though to her credit, she did perform at the latter's sister event, Mallorca Rocks, on Tuesday.
Organisers of this year's The Cure-headlined Electric Picnic, which takes place this weekend in County Laois, have issued this statement confirming Banks as a no-show: "Following on from reports earlier announcing that Azealia Banks cancelled her performance at Ibiza Rocks, we can confirm she also has pulled out of Electric Picnic 2012 due to exhaustion. We wish her a speedy recovery!"
Ah that's a nice get well soon message, isn't it? Maybe it'll remind Banks that she's meant to be off work sick at the moment. Because with all the champagne, wine and other "strong drinks" she's been imbibing on her all-expenses-paid Spanish minibreak, she seems to have forgotten.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
GATHERING, various venues, Cowley Road, Oxford, 20 Oct: Liars, Foxes, Clock Opera, Karima Francis, Lucy Rose, Fossil Collective, Swiss Lips, Wall, PAWS, Splashh, Binary, Bruno Charles, Cut Ribbons, Dan Croll, George Ezra, Idea, Indiana, Luke Sital Singh, Ottillia, The Other Tribe, The Staves, YRRS, BBATBC, Black Hats, Fine Union, Adam Stearns & The Glass Animals, King Of Cats, Pixel Fix, Poledo, Wild Swim. gatheringfestival.tumblr.com
1234 FESTIVAL, Shoreditch Park, London, 1 Sep: Gigwise will host a stage featuring The Dissidents, LoveBirds, Official Burnt Toast, The Pukes, Joseph Coward Cripis, Blast, Virginia Wing, The Phantoms, Charles Howl, Zulu, Lets Wrestle, Minny Pops, Arrows Of Love. www.the1234shoreditch.com
WERNER HERZOG TO DIRECT LIVE KILLERS WEBCAST FOR AMEX
The set will be screened live from New York's Paradise Theatre on 18 Sep (via this YouTube link), which is also the day The Killers release their new LP 'Battle Born' in the US. We'll have it a day earlier, of course.
Rolling Stone quotes the band's bassist, Mark Stoermer, as speculating thus: "He [Herzog] has ideas for someone crowd surfing with a camera on. [And] he's gonna put cameras on Ronnie while he's playing drums".
QUEST GET POST-X MANAGEMENT OPTIONS
GUY GARVEY SETTING UP EP LABEL
Though Garvey is interested in bands treating their EPs as a proper piece of work, and then releasing them on good old vinyl, and he's collaborating with Fiction Records boss Jim Chancellor to set up a little label to help artists do just that.
Or at least that's what he's told Radio 4. He said this week: "We don't want disposable songs [on our EPs] - we want a 20 minute record", adding: "Young bands that are perhaps self-financing and have to make money through touring can release three EPs rather than one album. That's three times as much excuse to tour, so it's working commercially".
CMU BEEF OF THE WEEK #125: BRIAN MAY V BADGER HATER DAVID CAMERON
In an opinion piece for the Mail, May said: "In probably less than a month's time, Cameron's government plans to start killing thousands of badgers, a protected species, in 'pilot' culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset. The lucky ones will die quickly. Others, targeted by high-powered rifles on night shoots, will be maimed or wounded to crawl away to a slow, painful death".
He continued: "Badgers matter. They are a key species, an intrinsic element in our delicate ecosystem. Their removal would have as yet poorly understood consequences for other species such as hares, foxes and hedgehogs ... They are also highly intelligent, sentient creatures. So why the cull? It is being pursued on the pretext of 'doing something' about the problem of bovine TB. Yet that 'something' is immoral, demonstrably unjustifiable by science, and will ultimately cost the farmer, and you - the taxpayer - a fortune".
Brian knows his audience, clearly. Animal cruelty might not interest Daily Mail readers, but the possibility of their hard earned taxes going astray will.
The National Farmers Union - an organisation which May says in his article "admits killing badgers on this scale will not solve the problem" - has objected to May's comments. Ian Johnson, spokesman for the NFU in the South West told This Is Cornwall: "This is not political - this is an animal welfare issue and he should not be politicising the problem. Brian May is a well-intentioned, very rich misguided person. If he wants to get involved in animal welfare he should be getting involved with the scourge of TB that affects not just cattle but other species too. His comments do nothing to help a rational debate about the problem ... He's obviously a very intelligent man so I can't understand why he's involving himself with issues he does not understand".
According to Farmers Weekly, the Badgers Trust has been granted the right to appeal against the culls at a hearing next month, which will delay the culls at least until later this year.
Badgers Trust spokeman Jack Reedy said: "The court will look at the evidence and the judge will decide whether to uphold the decision to cull badgers or not. We will abide by whatever they say, but consider the terms [of the decision] if we need to".