The five biggest stories in the music business this week.
01: Key meeting for Universal's EMI takeover to take place today. Representatives from each of the European Union member states will hear from the European Commission's competition regulators about the latest proposals from Universal Music regarding its bid to buy the EMI record company, and in particular what divestments it proposes to make to allay market dominance fears. It's thought those proposals now include the sale of the Parlophone business and catalogue worldwide, and maybe the same for the Chrysalis Records division, which is the majority of EMI's UK operations. After member state reps let their opinions be known, the EC has until 27 Sep to formally approve, or not, Universal's big EMI bid. CMU report | Billboard report
02: Grooveshark was sued by EMI, again! It's the third time EMI has sued the controversial streaming music service. Its original 2009 lawsuit was settled, and EMI licensed its content to the digital firm. Then in January this year it sued again, citing breach of contract in relation to the 2009 deal. The major subsequently terminated Grooveshark's licence, and is now suing because the streaming platform continues to distribute its content. Of course it's Grooveshark users who upload that content, and the digital company will say it removes unlicensed tracks when asked by rights owners, and therefore complies with US law. EMI hopes to prove that a term in its 2009 contract means that defence cannot be used. CMU report | C-Net report
03: One Direction settled with One Direction. That is to say, the British boy band called One Direction settled with the US band called One Direction over the continued use of that moniker. Unsurprisingly, given the scale of the two group's respective backers, the British boy band have the rights to the name in an out of court settlement. One Direction USA will become Unchartered Waters, though presumably not before cashing a nice big cheque from 1DUK owners Syco. CMU report | Press Association report
04: The Bloc festival organisers issued a statement, giving their side of the story as to what went wrong at their July event, which was shut down half way through its first night because of dangerous overcrowding. The debacle forced the Bloc company into administration, and the venue it was using, London Pleasure Gardens, also shut down in the aftermath. Bloc's official statement admitted that the scanning of e-tickets had stopped at 9.30pm meaning people with fake tickets may have got in, though said the real problem was that the LPG site just wasn't ready to host a festival of that size, with key areas unfinished and sealed off. The statement also confirmed that ticket holders would need to seek refunds from their debit or credit card provider if they haven't already done so. CMU report | Guardian report
05: A Pirate Bay founder was arrested in Cambodia. Gottfrid Svartholm was one of the three TPB founders sentenced to a year in jail in Sweden for his role in setting up the controversial file-sharing website. But he went missing during the appeals process, initially too ill to attend court hearings, and then just AWOL. In his absence the Swedish courts upheld the original ruling against him and withdrew any further right to appeal, though not knowing his whereabouts the authorities there couldn't actually jail him. It has long been assumed Svartholm was still in Cambodia, from where he had last made contact with associates back in Sweden, but his exact whereabouts was not known, until now. Technically Sweden doesn't have an extradition agreement with Cambodia, but some have noted that the former just gave the latter about $60 million in aid, which a cynic might conclude should help smooth over any legalities involved in deporting Svartholm back home. CMU report | TWN report
Meanwhile on CMU this week, we had an interview with Jens Lekman, Editor Andy Malt looked at the story behind the made up 'Bruce Willis to sue iTunes' story, and we reviewed some of the more ridiculous brand endorsement statements that have come out of the mouths of artists recently. Approved, meanwhile, were Picture Book, Julia Holter, Kenton Slash Demon and Sky Ferreira.
EMI SUES GROOVESHARK ... AGAIN
As previously reported, EMI was the first major label to sue Grooveshark which, although akin to Spotify et al, allows users to upload content to its servers, meaning its catalogues always contain large quantities of unlicensed content. Grooveshark claims that it operates a takedown system under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act and therefore is not liable for infringement when its users upload unlicensed tracks to its system.
The majors do not agree, and in 2009 EMI sued. However, it eventually reached a settlement with the digital outfit and licensed its music to Grooveshark meaning that, while the other majors got increasingly angry with the streaming service, EMI was in business with it. Until January this year, when it sued Grooveshark owner Escape Media Group for breach of contract in relation to that 2009 deal. The major terminated Grooveshark's licensing agreement a couple of months later.
The new lawsuit goes over some old ground, as well as accusing Grooveshark of infringement for allowing EMI-owned content to continue to be distributed via its platform. Of course Escape Media will presumably wheel out the customary 'takedown system / DMCA / no infringement' argument, though EMI seem ready to argue that its 2009 agreement included a clause that means that defence cannot be used. Whether that argument would stand up in court, remains to be seen.
As also previously reported, the other three majors - Universal, Sony and Warner - are all also suing Grooveshark, though - nervous the digital firm's DMCA arguments might actually prevail in court (even though the labels morally disagree with them) - they are accusing staff at the digital firm of also uploading unlicensed tracks to the streaming service, which, if true, would constitute straightforward infringement with no DMCA-based get out clauses.
Responding to its latest major label lawsuit, Grooveshark said in a statement: "While we always strive to keep lines of communication open with rights holders, artists and all other interested parties, disagreements inevitably arise, as is true in any business, particularly one that is pushing for innovation and industry change. We remain confident that we will be able to resolve our dispute with EMI".
Elsewhere in Grooveshark news, following its latest ban from Google Play, after a grand total of three days back on the Android app store, Grooveshark has started pushing its HTML5 web app again. Actually, Grooveshark seems to be promoting the app as if it's brand new, even though the company first launched it in January and spruced it up with new functionality in May.
As ever, the web app means that Grooveshark can offer its service via mobile devices without having to have its service approved by the Apple or Google app stores.
Grooveshark boss Sam Tarantino told Mashable: "With Apple and Android blocking us from app stores, we really had no options until this HTML5 release. The only way to block the HTML5 Grooveshark is if the internet goes down ... Grooveshark for mobile users will be initially free. We want to show mobile users what can be done with a web browser. As we grow on the tablet and mobile device ecosystem, at that point we will look at a premium model".
On the company's recent short-lived return to Google's app store, Tarantino added: "We submitted [a request], we got in and then they kicked us out again. It's a bit of a challenge. I'm not quite sure what policies we are violating since we model ourselves on [Google-owned] YouTube".
PUSSY RIOT MEMBERS POST VIDEO IN SUPPORT OF JAILED BANDMATES
In the video, the two Pussy Riot members abseil down a building, set fire to a photo of Putin, and hit out at him and the ruling class in their home country. They then thank the other artists around the world who have spoken out in support of their three jailed bandmates, in particular Madonna, Green Day, Björk and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
As previously reported, jailed Pussy Rioters Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich are all appealing their convictions.
Watch the video here.
ONE DIRECTION DOMINATE VMAS
Video Of The Year: Rihanna - We Found Love
Best Pop Video: One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
Best Art Direction: Katy Perry - Wide Awake
Q AWARDS NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED
Anyway, now to the customary quote from Q Editor Andrew Harrison (about his awards, not the naked Rey and clothed Corden): "It's been the most incredible year for British music. Our bands and our anthems transformed the Olympics into the greatest music event on Earth. And amazing comeback shows from Blur and the Stone Roses showed the enduring appeal of our greatest musicians. All the nominees for this year's Q Awards helped make 2012 an absolutely unforgettable year".
And here are those nominees:
Best New Act: Alabama Shakes, Alt J, Django Django, Lianne La Havas, Frank Ocean
Best Track: Florence + The Machine - Shake It Out, Fun - We Are Young, Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know, Plan B - Ill Manors, Rizzle Kicks - Mama Do The Hump
Best Album: The Black Keys - El Camino, Richard Hawley - Standing At The Sky's Edge, The Maccabees - Given To The Wild, Paul Weller - Sonik Kicks, Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe
Best Live Act: Blur, The Cribs, Radiohead, Bruce Springsteen, The Stone Roses
Best Video: Arctic Monkeys - R U Mine?, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Everybody's On The Run, Keane - Disconnected, The Killers - Runaways, Nicki Minaj - Starships
Best Solo Artist: Adele, Dizzee Rascal, Noel Gallagher, Emeli Sande, Florence Welch
Best Act In The World Today: Blur, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Muse, The Stone Roses
LUPE FIASCO RESIGNS FROM RAP
After tweeting a three-part quote in which he implied he had borne much "malice and vitriol" just for being honest and "speaking peace", the oft-maligned rapper wrote: "[These albums] will probably be my last... it's been a pleasure to have all my fans provide so much love and inspiration for me and my family. But my heart is broken and I see no comfort further along this path only more pain. I cannot participate any longer in this... My first true love was literature so I will return to that... Lupe Fiasco ends here".
Fiasco's somewhat sudden urge to withdraw from hip hop, plus all the martyr-ish talk of "malice and vitriol", is timely considering new threats made toward him by Chicago MC Chief Keef - by all accounts not a nice character - who on Wednesday tweeted: "Lupe Fiasco a hoe ass nigga And wen I see him I'ma smack him like da lil bitch he is".
Perhaps realising that Keef - whose unsympathetic reaction to the murder earlier this week of his eighteen year old rap rival Lil JoJo has drawn criticism (not to mention police suspicion) - was not a man to be quarrelled with, Lupe was nothing if not magnanimous in his reply: "I cant go 4 that @ChiefKeef & I cant let the people I love, including you my nigga, go 4 that either. We kings, not fucking savages and goons".
FUCKED UP HAVE 40 SONGS WRITTEN FOR NEW ALBUM
He said: "We have 40 songs that we have to chop down. They're more loose, more punk-sounding. I think the plan for this record is to make it a little bit different. It could very well just sound like all the other records but I think we're going to experiment more with different instruments".
Meanwhile bassist Sandy Miranda added that the band also working on a new single for their 'Zodiac Series' of twelve-inch releases, saying: "We're really behind on the zodiac calendar [project] but we're working on 'Year Of The Rabbit' next. It's sort of a meandering, psychedelic playground".
ICONA POP SIGN TO WARNER, START WORK ON DEBUT ALBUM
Apparently in unison, they said: "We are so excited [about moving to New York]. We just signed to Atlantic/Big Beat and we feel like now is the right time for us to be here. We've been in New York a lot the past year and we feel very home here ... We have just started, but it's gonna be a hell of a lot more galloping drums and twisted synthesizers!"
Now let's watch the video for 'Nights Like This'.
LADY GAGA RELEASING ARTPOP APP
While it doesn't sound quite as innovative (or considered in terms of its relation to the record) as Björk's 'Biophilia' project, Gaga's 'ARTPOP' application will feature "chats, films for every song, extra music, content, Gaga inspired games, fashion updates, magazines, and more still in the works".
Inciting her Little Monsters to "start asking for iPads for Christmas" in order that they may use the app, Gaga said: "You inspired me to create something that communicated with images, because YOU do, YOU communicate with me and each other with gifs and pictures, and artwork, graphics ALL DAY 24/7 YOU'RE an 'ARTPOP' generation. I'm hoping you will all continue to grow together and stay connected through your creativity. Much love".
And if that particular 'ARTPOP' invention doesn't pique your technological intrigue, what about Gaga's new fibroptic glow-in-the-dark wig, as is presented to you now by Gaga in her 'English Madonna' voice.
GWILYM GOLD SHARES "SELF-RENEWING" DIGITAL LP EARLY
Gold, who engineered the 'Bronze' system over two years with scientists at London's Goldsmiths University, has talked about the project to the BBC, saying: "We felt it makes the music more engaging, similar to a live performance. Every time it's played, it's renewing itself. As a writer, you can listen to the songs a lot more often without them becoming stagnant. That's very much the hope for the listener as well. You could listen to it billions of times and it wouldn't be the same".
GRAHAM COXON, HOT CHIP, TEED TO OPEN OXJAM
Taking place prior to an October of philanthropic music goings-on across the UK, the four Dalston nights will also feature Childhood, Breach, Kyla La Grange and The 2 Bears.
Here are the details:
24 Sep: Graham Coxon, Theme Park
Info on all Oxjam events, plus ways in which you organise your own, is at www.oxfam.org.uk/Oxjam
WILD NOTHING SETS HEADLINE DATES
And the dates are:
28 Nov: London, The Lexington
MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK TO TOUR
See the tour's specifics after a look at the video for new 'GO' single 'True Romance', which required the band's Justin Pierre to "memorise an entire song backwards phonetically" a la 'Twin Peaks'.
5 Sep: Glasgow, King Tut's
TALL SHIPS ADD TO LIVE CALENDAR
Listings as follows:
10 Oct: Cheltenham, Frog & Fiddle
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
BRICK LANE MUSIC FESTIVAL, Brick Lane, London, 15-16 Sep: David Rodigan, Om Unit, Kutmah, Ray Keith, Daddy Nature, Loefah, The Heatwave, Donaeo, Staunch Sundays, The Magic House Experience, Rose Windross, Rattus Rattus, DJ MK, Thristian bPm, Movie, DJ Rags. www.facebook.com/pages/Brick-Lane-Music-Festival/121497144660544
ELEVATE FESTIVAL, Graz, Austria, 24-28 Oct: The Bug curates a stage featuring Daddy Freddy, Miss Red, DJ Rashad & DJ Spin, Ras G, Solo Banton, Disrupt, Le1f, Redshape, French Fries. 2012.elevate.at/en/home/
ETHER, Southbank Centre, London, 5-19 Oct: John Cale, Brandt Bauer Frick Ensemble, Ghostpoet, Soap & Skin, Apparat, Jonathan Harvey, Tyondai Braxton, City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner,London Sinfonietta, Wordless Music Orchestra, Julia Wolfe, Nick Luscombe, Raime, Bass Clef, Ekoclef, Airhead, Danza Preparata, Apartment House, Darragh organ & John Tilbury, Decasia, Gillian Moore, Oliver Coates, New Radiophonic Workshop, Christian Marclay, Chunky Move. ether.southbankcentre.co.uk
FREEZE, Battersea Power Station, London, 26-27 Oct: Beat Medikz, Wolf Music, PBR Streetgang, Sean Brosnan, Dom Chung, Slothboogie, Wookie, Planas & Nightowl, Rattus Rattus. www.relentlessfreeze.com
HMV SHUTS ONE OF ITS BIRMINGHAM STORES, BUT NO MORE
HMV is shuttering one more of its stores, in central Birmingham, where it has had two shops until now (actually, originally three). With the lease on its High Street store in the city up for renewal, the retailer has decided to focus its efforts on its other nearby base in the Bullring shopping centre.
Seemingly the 'nine HMV shops to close' story originated with a West Midlands website, which had presumably heard about the High Street store closure on the grapevine, and then unknowingly stumbled across an old online press release or news report from February 2011, shortly after nine HMV stores were indeed closed. Certainly the HMV spokesman quote the site ran came from that month.
Of course HMV did downsize its store portfolio quite considerably in early 2011 as it battled to reduce debts and placate bankers, though such prolific cut backs have not been seen of late.
IMAGEM TO OPEN LONDON OFFICE FOR R&H BUSINESS
Confirming the expansion, R&H President Ted Chapin told CMU: "I couldn't be more thrilled about this exciting new chapter for R&H. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II always knew the importance of the British and European market, and they both loved London, where they had a production office for many years. Today, as part of a global company, our new London branch will give us the opportunity to reinvigorate our catalogue throughout Britain and across the Continent. This is an important move for us, which is why I am sending my longtime R&H colleague Bert Fink to London to help launch this venture".
SONY APPOINTS NEW GLOBAL MARKETING ADVISOR FOR ONE DIRECTION
First, MTV shunned the boys and gave the Best Female VMA gong to Nicki Minaj, when they were clearly the worthy winners, and to add insult to injury Kanye West was nowhere to be seen to come to their defence. Then they lost in their legal battle to win the right to rebrand as Uncharted Shores. And, of course, main man Styles is no longer the most famous naked British Harry on the internet (perhaps next time he should make sure his naked photos are genuine).
All of which probably explains why the group's label, Sony Music UK, has brought in a new Global Marketing Consultant to lead marketing efforts on behalf of the band who may have to start calling themselves Well Charted Shores. That consultant is former EMI exec Mark Collen, who has most recently been found running his own music consultancy Tideswell Media.
He worked with a plethora of famous and fantastic artists while at EMI, and also signed Starsailor, so, now you know. In his new role he'll work closely with the boss of Sony/Simon Cowell's Syco unit, Sonny Takhar, and the 1D management team at Modest to spearhead a global marketing strategy for the X-alumi-non (hmm, that was my attempt at creating a new word for 'X-Factor alumni phenomenon', but I possibly turned the group into metal in the process - well, that's an idea for Collen to work on).
Collen will report directly into Sony Music UK top dude Nick Gatfield who told CMU: "Mark has managed global release campaigns for some of the biggest artists in the world. His experience and his depth of understanding of the international music market makes him the ideal executive to drive and maximise the potential of the One Direction brand. I'm delighted to welcome him to Sony".
Collen himself added: "One Direction are rapidly becoming a global phenomenon; It's a privilege to be asked to be part of such an exciting story and to work with Sony and Modest on a worldwide basis. I'm relishing the challenge!"
GLASTONBURY ANNOUNCES NEW OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
It was announced earlier this week that tickets for the 2013 festival would cost £205 each. They will go on sale on 7 Oct, with buyers initially only having to put down a deposit of £50, before shelling out the rest next spring.
You can register to be able to buy tickets here.
SCOUTING FOR GIRLS MAN WANTS VOICE GIG
He apparently told the Daily Star: "We've written songs for One Direction and Alexandra Burke but we reckon 'The X Factor' has had its day. There's some good talent on the TV but it just doesn't create real artists. The best music comes from people singing music which means something to them".
He adds: "You have to buy into an artist and get a sense of feeling what they feel, rather than see someone good-looking singing someone else's songs. The BBC's 'The Voice' was more about the music. We'd love to be judges on that show".