The five biggest stories in the music business this week.
01: The European Commission approved Universal's EMI deal, albeit with some significant remedies that could see the mega-major forced to sell up to 60% of its new acquisition's assets in Europe. The Commission said that "the very significant commitments proposed by Universal will ensure that competition in the music industry is preserved and that European consumers continue to enjoy all its benefits". Pan-European indie labels trade body IMPALA did not agree, and said it would consider its options once the EC's full decision was published. CMU report | FT report
02: The Anschutz Company announced it would sell AEG, meaning the music business will have another major sale to concern itself with once Universal's EMI purchase is completed. AEG owns a large network of venues, has interests in various sports clubs and is the second biggest tour promoter in the world. Anschutz wants to sell the group in its entirety to one buyer, and is expected to set the asking price at $7 billion. The deal could take a year to complete, but in the meantime AEG boss Tim Leiweke says it's business as usual. CMU report | Billboard report
03: Musicmetric launched a report this week claiming that over twice as many albums were illegally downloaded via BitTorrent file-sharing networks in the first half of the year than were bought via legit download stores like iTunes - 33 million in total. Some reckoned that stat showed that file-sharing was still a major issue in the UK, though others reckoned the figure was actually quite a lot less than you might expect (after all, twice as many albums were probably illegally taped as sold in the late 1980s); though, of course, BitTorrent is just one kind of file-sharing. Either way, more people were interested in the regional data Musicmetric also published, showing that Louis Armstrong was downloaded the most on the Isle Of Wight, Justin Bieber in the Oxfordshire village of Kidlington and The Smiths in the Scottish Border town of Galashiels. Ed Sheeran's album was the most illegally accessed record nationwide. CMU report | BBC report
04: James Taylor joined the digital royalties litigation party, suing his original label partners Warner Music. The Grammy winning singer-songwriter has various issues over the royalties he receives from the major, though key to his litigation is the good old digital royalties debate - ie should artists get the lower record sale royalty or the higher licensing revenue royalty on downloads. That issue is the subject of numerous lawsuits in the US just now, all citing a precedent arguably set in a legal battle on the same matter between Universal Music and Eminem collaborators FBT Productions. CMU report | Hollywood Reporter
05: The Amazon's digital music locker launched in the UK, France and Germany, complete with the scan-and-match functionality that was added to the etailer's music-based cloud storage platform earlier this summer. It means Amazon users in Europe can now store their MP3 collections on Amazon's servers and access them via any net-connected device for £21.99 a year (or 250 tracks for free). Unlike the original Amazon music locker service, the enhanced version launching here is backed by the music companies. CMU report | C-Net report
On CMU this week, Andy Malt had a long chat with producer and DJ Wrongtom about his new album 'In East London', Eddy TM previewed tonight's DJ Shadow special on Xfm's 'The Remix', and the CMU Insights team offered some tips for scheduling tweets. Approved were Trust, Alice & Michi, Gwilym Gold and Deftones.
UNIVERSAL'S EMI PURCHASE GETS EUROPEAN APPROVAL - UP TO 60% OF EMI'S EUROPEAN ASSETS TO BE SOLD
Among the EMI assets to be sold are the Parlophone, Chrysalis and Mute labels and catalogues (minus The Beatles and Robbie Williams) and the EMI Classics division. On the Universal side, it will sell the Sanctuary catalogue and the Co-Op Music indie label services venture.
The Commission, which has only issued a short statement so far, said that "the very significant commitments proposed by Universal will ensure that competition in the music industry is preserved and that European consumers continue to enjoy all its benefits". It is thought that the divestments could amount to 60% of EMI in Europe, and up to a third of the one-time British major label's assets worldwide.
In a statement welcoming the ruling, Universal Music said: “Universal Music Group is delighted to have received regulatory clearance from the European Commission for its acquisition of EMI Recorded Music. Today’s approval brings to an end an extensive EU regulatory review and the acquisition will benefit the artistic community and music industry. We are delighted Universal Music will retain over two-thirds of EMI on a global basis, contributing to the accretive nature of the deal. With a broad array of EMI artists from Katy Perry, Emeli Sandé, Robbie Williams, Herbert Grönemeyer, Lady Antebellum and Norah Jones, to icons like The Beatles, the Beach Boys, Genesis and Bob Seger, we remain true to our vision: to invest in talent and grow the company to offer consumers more music and more choice, while furthering our support for new digital services and entrepreneurs”.
Although the divestments Universal has had to agree to in Europe go way beyond what even pessimists at the world's biggest music company expected, most experts reckon the mega-major could sell on the EMI units to be divested at pretty much the rate it paid US bank Citigroup for them, so shouldn't lose out in that regard. Though whether it will be able to achieve the planned costs savings across the combined EMI/Universal group, given the combined company will be operating at a lower scale than expected, remains to be seen.
The arrangement in Europe will leave a chunk of EMI, especially in the UK, in limbo for a few more months, while sale negotiations are concluded. It is thought that those bits of EMI in Europe now set to merge with Universal will do so in the relatively short-term, with those bits due to be sold sitting independently until deals are done. Various parties are thought to be interested in some or all of the EMI units due to be sold, though BMG is seen as a lead bidder.
European indie labels group IMPALA, which has opposed the deal from the outset, said this morning that it was pleased that the tough concessions demanded by the EC showed that Universal's initial argument - that its EMI acquisition should not cause any concerns regards market dominance because of new competitors from the digital sector and the threat of piracy - was rejected. However, it said that even with the divestments proposed, the deal was bad news for the European music community.
IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith: "This decision has finally put a freeze on Universal's ability to expand further and sets a benchmark for constraining abusive behaviour across the whole market. Following the approval of the Sony/EMI merger, however, this decision nonetheless reinforces what is already a powerful duopoly. Contrary to the basic principles of competition in cultural markets, artists and consumers will ultimately pay the price. We will consider our options with our lawyers as soon as the full decision is published. In the meantime, it is vital that the divestments process balances the market and maximises competitive forces to the duopoly."
Meanwhile Martin Mills, Chairman of UK independent Beggars Group and a vocal opponent of the Universal/EMI deal, added "It's good to see that the Commission has seen this deal as such a threat to the market that it has demanded and received truly swinging commitments on divestments. However, that should not conceal that fact that Universal's arrogance has paid off for them, that they have destroyed a significant competitor, and that even with these divestments their ability to dominate and control the market has reached even more unacceptable levels. Anyone trying to start a new digital service will be realising that very soon, and we will continue to look to the regulators to monitor ongoing behaviour".
Meanwhile, speaking for the UK indie community, Alison Wenham of the Association Of Independent Music said: “Universal are being forced to sell the crown jewels of EMI following their misjudged attempt to persuade the EC that there would be no competition concerns. We congratulate the EC on a very diligent and thorough investigation, and now urge the Commission to continue to oversee the divestment programme, to ensure that competition is preserved in the music industry for the benefit of artists and consumers, independents and digital companies. We want to see the independent sector strengthened, not weakened by the divestments and will continue to actively campaign to ensure this happens”.
Approval for the deal from US regulator the Federal Trade Commission should follow pretty swiftly too, with no further concessions required other than those enforced by Europe. FTC approval is expected next week, though some are now predicting it could also come today.
SONY INITIATES SALE OF EMI CATALOGUES AGREED WITH REGULATOR
The Sony-led team secured deal approval in Europe with only a one stage investigation partly because it quickly put forward a list of concessions, in particular the sale of the Virgin and Famous Music UK publishing catalogues.
With the merger of the Sony/ATV and EMI publishing companies now well under way, according to Reuters reps for the combined publishing enterprise have now contacted over 20 possible buyers to see if they want to see the non-disclosure agreement that will kick off the bidding process.
Reuters says that the auction will be managed by US investment bank Shot Tower Capital in association with lawyer John Branca, who is also co-executor of the Michael Jackson estate, Sony's business partner in the Sony/ATV venture, and therefore also one of the new owners of EMI Music Publishing.
The various catalogues could fetch in the region of $150 million. Some of the possible bidders for the catalogues will also being weighing up bids for the EMI record labels Universal is planning to sell as part of its EC regulator agreement, though there is generally a bigger market for publishing rather than master recording rights.
FIONA APPLE SPENDS NIGHT IN JAIL FOR DRUG POSSESSION
OLYMPIC CEREMONIES BOOST MUSIC SALES BY £2.2 MILLION
Overall, an extra 250,000 albums were sold, and almost 500,000 individual tracks were downloaded, following the events, according to the figures. And it was the closing ceremony that was found to have the biggest impact overall, with a boost of 267,000 individual track downloads, compared to 225,000 for the opening bash.
However, the opening ceremony's spin-off compilation album, 'Isles Of Wonder', was more successful than the closing ceremony's 'Symphony Of British Music' record.
DEF JAM SIGNS THE SATURDAYS
Without sharing any details of that release (apparently because it's "still undecided"), the band have revealed that they have been in the studio recently with songwriter Dianne Warren and producer-to-Bieber Rodney Jerkins. The girls have also been pitching ideas for a reality show to various American TV execs, adding that such a project is "definitely on the cards".
Speaking to Billboard over afternoon tea (albeit, minus the tea), the pop quintet's Una Healy said: "We've been together a long time now, five years. We're just starting fresh here. That's what it's about. We've always wanted to come out here and go to different territories. We really feel ready now".
GLOBAL SIGNS ELYAR FOX
Fox is expected to release his debut single proper via the Global partnership next spring. Hmm, wonder if they'll managed to secure him any airplay on Capital FM. Though with 70,000+ followers on Twitter already thanks to his YouTube activity, he possibly won't need the help of Global's radio stations.
BRUNO MARS COMPLETES NEW LP
"Over a year workin on it and now I'm finally finished. My 2nd album is complete!!!!! Therefore I'M THE MAN!!!", tweeted the shy and demure popstar, enclosing this Funny Or Die (I choose 'die') video in which he enacts many, many hilarious cinema spoofs in various wigs.
What that has to do with the forthcoming LP, which at present is without a title, release date or any details at all, I don't know. Oh well, watch it now anyway.
ONE DIRECTION BRING FORWARD SINGLE RELEASE AFTER LEAK
In a message to fans, the band said yesterday: "We wanted our fans to see the video and hear the single in the proper way, so we've moved the premiere to tonight. We're really excited about 'LWWY', we've worked really hard on it and we can't wait for everyone to see and hear it!"
The single itself will be released on 30 Sep, with the album it's taken from, 'Take Me Home', out on 12 Nov. And now, here's that video in all its glory (Warning: May contain zorbing and dancing around in a paddling pool).
VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO TRIBUTE TO FEATURE THEE OH SEES, TY SEGALL, WHITE FENCE
Ty Segall, White Fence, The Fresh & Onlys, Kelly Stoltz and Thee Oh Sees - whose principal songwriter John Dwyer also co-owns Castle Face - all feature on the compilation, which will have a limited (1000 copies) 'banana yellow' vinyl release on 6 Nov, complete with original sleeve art by David Shrigley. Alternatively, all tracks will be available for digital download as of 15 Oct.
Pre-order copies of the vinyl record here.
Kelley Stoltz - Sunday Morning
Rather than an actual preview of the 'Castle Face & Friends' collection, which doesn't seem to exist at the moment, why not listen to Thee Oh Sees' 'So Nice', taken from the band's new full-length 'Putrifiers II', if only because it sounds like 'Venus In Furs'.
LAURYN HILL TO RELEASE NEW TRACK
Entitled 'Black Rage', it will consider what a statement on Hill's Tumblr terms the "derivative effects of racial inequity and abuse".
Hill herself, who'll also co-headline a US tour with Nas in October/November, adds this to the despatch: "I use the performance platform as an opportunity to express the energy of that moment, and the intention behind it. I've been a longstanding rebel against the stale, over commoditisation. As artists we have opportunity to help the public evolve, raise consciousness and awareness, teach, heal, enlighten and inspire in ways the democratic process may not be able to touch. So we keep it moving".
SOLANGE KNOWLES DUETS WITH DEV HYNES AND OF MONTREAL'S KEVIN BARNES
Set for digital (2 Oct) and vinyl (6 Nov) release via Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear's label Terrible Records, it'll be backed by a b-side called 'Sleep In The Park', which features Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes. Quite the alt-pop aficionado, that Solange Knowles.
And now, why the heck not view a 'Losing You' trailer, as features part of the track (and the classiest game of suck-and-blow ever played).
DUTCH UNCLES DETAIL SINGLE, LP
Listen to it now
And to go with all that, have an indecipherable tracklisting:
NOISE OF ART ANNOUNCES MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR EXTRAVAGANZA
Made in 1967, 'Magical Mystery Tour' was originally broadcast by the BBC on Boxing Day that year. As well as the film, there will also be a screening of a BBC Arena documentary at the Picturehouse event, which documents the making of the film and the mixed reception it got at the time.
In addition to all that, Noise Of Art is laying on three floors of music and dance from artists including Justin Robertson, Fred Deakin (Lemon Jelly), Ashley Beedle, Ben Osborne, Si Begg, Rupert The Brewer, Overlap, The People Pile, Your Mum, Laura J Martin and more to be announced.
For further details on the event, head over here.
JARVIS COCKER, EVELYN GLENNIE TO IMPROVISE 'SILENT' FILM SCORES
Cocker, Oscar-winning 'Atonement' composer Dario Marianelli and guitar maestro John Etheridge will all perform at the 30 Sep show as special guests of 'Not So Silent' originator (and cello virtuoso) Philip Sheppard, who in the past has also arranged LPs for Pulp and a solo Jarvis.
Says Etheridge: "I love throwing caution to the wind and creating a spontaneous composition, and I have absolute confidence that these musicians can pull it off. There'll be as much slapstick on stage as on screen; we get such a buzz from taking the risk with no safety net - it's the adrenalin that makes it work, and when it's over you can't repeat it - it's a one off!"
While the Jarvis Cocker night is indeed a 'one-off', 'Not So Silent' are also hosting two further such screenings featuring the likes of composer Stephen Warbeck (28 Oct) and percussionists Evelyn Glennie and Talvin Singh (2 Dec).
Details via www.kingsplace.co.uk
AIM ANNOUNCES INDIES MONTH
The gigs, which are grouped under the Labelled With Love Festival banner, are as follows:
22 Sep: Bull & Gate - Fortuna POP! Presents...
26 Sep: Bull & Gate - Killing Moon Limited Presents...
4 Oct: The Scala - Label Fandango Presents
12 Oct: Bull & Gate - Alcopop! Presents...
13 Oct: The Victoria - Tiger Trap vs Smalltown America Presents...
16 Oct: Bull & Gate - Xtra Mile Presents...
19 Oct: Bull & Gate - Too Pure Presents...
22 Oct: Bull & Gate - CRC Presents...
23 Oct: Bull & Gate - Idle Fret Presents...
31 Oct: Dingwalls - Fierce Panda's Halloween Party
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
BUGGED OUT WEEKENDER, Butlins Resort, Bognor Regis, 18-20 Jan 2013: Fake Blood, Julio Bashmore, Redlight, Loefah, MC Chunky. www.buggedoutweekender.net
DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, Leicestershire, 14-16 Jun 2013: Iron Maiden, Rammstein. www.downloadfestival.co.uk
NORWICH SOUND & VISION, various venues, Norwich, 11-13 Oct: Liars, TEED, Eugene McGuinnes, Cold Specks, Errors, Mary Epworth, Luke Abbot, Mayday Parade, Palma Violets, PAWS, Tall Ships, Bwani Junction, Negative Pegasus, Dad Rocks!, Parakeet, Grass House, Dam Mantle, Virals, Honeyslide, Wet Nuns, Franko Fraize, Hey Sholay, Rozi Plain, Deaf Club, Holy Mountain, Public Service Broadcasting, Vuvuvultures, Matthew P Gum Takes Tooth, God Damn, Reckless Love, The Summer Set, Natives, Nately's Whore's Kid Sister, The Nightingales, Ice. Sea. Dead. People, The Soft, The Lost Levels, The Neutrinos, Octagon Court, Giirls In A Thunderbolt, Magic Panda, Common Tongues, George Ezra, Arrows Of Love, Night Engine, Kamilla Lovett, Port Isla, AA, Crystal Bats, Balaclava Kid & Dad, Khan, Steve Finn, Dave Gerard & The Watchmen, Heart Of A Dog, Jessica Alice, Milly Hirst, King Laconic, Tom Pearce, The Way Home, Cate Ferris, The Little Unsaid, Arhai, Secret Sailing Club, Mild Horses, Empire. www.norwichsoundandvision.co.uk
BUSINESS AS USUAL SAYS AEG CHIEF, DESPITE SALE
Following confirmation from the Anschutz Company earlier this week that it was planning to sell AEG in the next year, with a rumoured asking price of $7 billion, Tim Leiweke told the US music industry magazine: "People act like this is going to be some seismic earthquake within our company and it won't be. We won't miss a beat".
Insisting the decision of Anschutz, and its owner Philip Anschutz, was not a surprise, Leiweke added: "We have come to a point where it's important to find the next phase for AEG and the next owner for AEG, because [Anschutz] is 73 years old, and he does want to go through some planning and a different phase of his life, and I completely respect that. We've always operated under the understanding that this was an equity investment, and I'd have to cooperate with him to get an exit strategy. That's all this is".
And in the meantime, its business as usual now, and beyond any ownership change, the CEO reckons, concluding: "The reality is the management team here has been the same management team since we started this. I hired these people, I brought them together, we've had very little change here. I have the same people I've had all along in this process. Everyone's re-upped, everyone's committed long term, And, with all due respect to Mr Anschutz, the people that run this thing day-to-day are not going anywhere, and we're still as committed".
PRS-OWNED RIGHTS MANAGEMENT FIRM APPOINTS NEW CEO
Confirming his new role, Drachmann told CMU: "It's a hugely exciting time to join ICE and I see great potential for the company. We are already providing a high standard of service to our current customers PRS For Music and STIM, and ICE will provide the technology on which the future Global Repertoire Database is based. My focus will be developing ICE into a commercial organisation with a
Commenting on the new appointment, PRS boss Robert Ashcroft added: "Carsten has been appointed as Chief Executive because of his extensive experience in the technology sector and in providing business to business services. He is the right man to lead ICE as it enters an exciting new phase in its development, expanding its service offering to new customers".
BIG MACHINE ANNOUNCES SECOND US RADIO DEAL THAT SECURES AN FM ROYALTY
As previously reported, in the US, unlike in Europe, record labels are not due a royalty for terrestrial radio airplay under copyright law. However, online radio services do need licences from the labels and usually get these via collective rights organisation SoundExchange.
As licensing revenue becomes ever more vital to labels, the American record industry has - albeit so far unsuccessfully - been pushing for a terrestrial radio royalty right to be introduced into US copyright law, similar to that already enjoyed by the owners of music publishing rights. Though there has been considerable resistance from the radio sector.
However, Big Machine chief Scott Borchetta, whose label counts the likes of Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw on its roster, has managed to woo radio chiefs by offering more favourable terms on web licensing than are available via SoundExchange. All the big radio firms in the US recognise that developing successful online music platforms is key to their long term future.
In June Big Machine announced the first such deal had been done with Clear Channel, and this week a second arrangement was confirmed with Entercom.
That firm's CEO, David Field, told reporters: "This agreement represents a bold step forward to align our interests with those of Big Machine and their artists. While the deal comes with some significant costs and risks, we believe that by working with the labels and the artist community to establish a new business model. We will ultimately enhance the opportunities for all parties concerned".
Field noted the input of not only Borchetta, but also Clear Channel bosses Bob Pitman and John Hogan, in crafting the template of this arrangement.
Borchetta himself added: "Among the many choices in the audio entertainment landscape, radio is now portable again thanks to smartphones and soon-to-be ubiquitous internet streaming in the car. David Field and his cutting edge team at Entercom Communications completely understand this vision. I'm honoured that they have joined us as partners in growing digital radio as well as compensating the artists that provide great musical content for their terrestrial stations. They have chosen to lead and everyone in the artist and creative community applauds their bold leadership role".
REID SPEAKS MORE ABOUT DROPPING THE GAGA
Reid admitted letting Gaga out of his grasp in 2006 was a mistake in an interview last year. This time speaking to Ellen DeGeneres, he said that he initially thought Gaga had the potential to "change music", but that he didn't like the demos she provided to his label.
"I said, 'You know what? This is disgusting'. So I dropped her. And I dropped [her A&R guy]! It was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life".