LYOR COHEN ANNOUNCES EXIT FROM WARNER MUSIC
Confirming his somewhat sudden departure, Cohen said in a statement yesterday: "To all the artists and employees who live and die for the music every day, and who personally sacrifice for the good of the creative process: 'keep on keepin on' in the tradition of a company that respects and honours the artistic community".
While Len Blavatnik, whose Access Industries acquired Warner Music last year, said: "I personally want to thank Lyor for his dedication and contributions to Warner Music. He has been both a business partner and personal friend and I wish him only the best".
Meanwhile Stephen Cooper, put in place as overall CEO of the Warner Music company by Access Industries after last year's acquisition, added: "Lyor Cohen has built something very special here. While we understand his desire to move on to his next challenge, the enduring success of our recorded music division will serve as a great testament to the progress we've made during Lyor's time at WMG. We are grateful for Lyor's contributions, and we wish him the best. I'm confident that given the strength of our talented management team in Recorded Music, we'll be able to drive further success".
Needless to say, speculation as to what has led to Cohen's exit from Warner is rife. Rumours of tensions between finance-focused Cooper and music industry veteran Cohen have generally been denied by senior insiders, who argue that the two men complemented each other well. Though it is possible there were differences of opinion regards long-term strategy, Cooper possibly having a much clearer personal vision for Warner Music now he has been in the CEO role for a year.
Other rumours suggest that the major simply couldn't agree new terms with Cohen, whose original pay packet including generous stock options which would need to be revised when Warner went from public to private ownership. Billboard cites sources as saying that Cohen's existing pay package was also rather generous by Access Industries standards, which would have made negotiations tricky, especially if the record industry veteran was seeking even more favourable terms.
There's been speculation also overnight regarding where Cohen may go next, and who might replace him at Warner Music, outgoing EMI chief Roger Faxon being one name linked to the role. Though Faxon's real experience, of course, lies in music publishing rather than recorded music, and at Warner the two sides of the business are still pretty autonomous from each other.
Unless Warner is interested in pursuing the more integrated approach Faxon was trying to install at EMI before the company was put up for sale by its banker owners, though if the soon-to-be-former EMI man was given a cross-company role at Warner, then what would Cooper do? That said, with the bosses of each Warner label division now reporting into Cooper directly, it may be that the major will instigate a bit of a restructure at the top before filling the seat left empty by Cohen.
As for him, wonderers have been wondering whether a return to his former employer Universal Music could be on the cards, perhaps to oversee the newly acquired Capitol division in the US, though Cohen himself might see that as a step backwards.
A Sony Music role has also been mooted, Cohen having apparently overcome past tensions between him and the top guy there, his former boss at Universal Doug Morris, who wasn't best pleased when Cohen jumped ship to Warner in 2004. Though at Sony too, the senior executive lounge is quite crowded, and taking a seat alongside the other division chiefs might seem like a backwards step.
Some new stand-alone venture might be more likely, and maybe even a return to artist management; either way, few expect Cohen to be away from the music business for too long.
TWO MORE ARTISTS SUE SONY OVER DIGITAL ROYALTIES
As much previously reported, most traditional record contracts paid artists a much bigger share of so called licensing revenue than of monies generated by record sales. Since the digital revolution, the majors have treated download income as record sales and paid the lower royalty. But many artists argue that download revenues actually stem from licensing deals with the likes of iTunes, so where download income isn't specifically mentioned in a record contract, it should be considered licensing revenue and the higher artist cut should be paid.
Numerous heritage artists now have lawsuits pending on this issue, some of them class actions. All are relying on a precedent possibly set in a legal dispute between some early Eminem collaborators and Universal Music. FBT Productions convinced a US court that they should be getting the higher licensing royalty on download sales of various Slim Shady tracks in which they have a stake. Universal insists that the ruling in that case does not apply to all pre-digital record contracts, though Rob Zombie, Chuck D, George Clinton, Peter Frampton, Sister Sledge, Kenny Rogers and James Taylor, among others, do not agree.
As also previously reported, Sony Music has actually been battling digital royalty litigation longer than Universal, the Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick having sued the major over the issue in 2006. That lawsuit initially ran out of steam, mainly because of legal technicalities, though negotiations continued behind closed doors and in March this year a deal was announced offering all of Sony's heritage artists still on old record contracts a 3% increase in their download revenue share.
Linked to the Allman Brothers and Cheap Trick's original class action, that deal still needs court approval and, ironically, last week, just as the lawyer representing both REO Speedwagon and Boz Scaggs filed his paperwork, lawyers working on the settlement deal were pushing a judge in New York to reach a decision on the 3% proposal. If that settlement gets court approval, any qualifying heritage Sony act will be able to take the 3% increase, or opt out to pursue their own action against the major.
As those artists already suing the various majors on this issue expect to get a much bigger increase in their digital royalties than 3% if they win, it will be interesting to see if any Sony acts take the carefully negotiated quick-fix settlement should it get court backing. REO Speedwagon and Boz Scaggs, presumably, are hoping for the bigger prize.
FIONA APPLE AND HER JAILER SPEAK ABOUT DRUGS ARREST
Speaking about the incident at a show in Houston on Saturday, Apple said she was basically treated well during her very brief jail stint, but that she had issues with four specific prison guards. The implication of the singer's on-stage ramble - subsequently posted to YouTube, obviously - was that she'd not reveal said guards' misdemeanours providing they didn't try to capitalise on having had a celebrity in their cells for a few moments of fame. Or something like that.
Said Apple: "Now, most of the people were very nice to me. [But] there are four of you out there, and I want you to know that I heard everything you did. I wrote it all down with your names, and everything you did and said stupidly thinking that I couldn't hear or see you. I then ripped the paper up, but not before I encoded it and, I got two lock boxes. We'll call them 'holding cell one' and 'holding cell two'. In 'holding cell one' is the encoded version of the shit that you did that I know was inappropriate and probably illegal. In 'holding cell two' is the decoder".
She continued: "I'm the only one who holds the key, and you and I will be intimate forever because I will hold that secret forever. Unless of course the 'celebrity' that you had so much interest in - but you wanted to accuse me of bringing up, while you laughed at me all night - [well if] you're interested in being a celebrity, I'll make you fucking famous any time you ask and I'll open those boxes. So why don't you stay in your fucking holding cell?"
Perhaps unsurprisingly, staff at the Hudspeth County Sheriff department weren't very impressed with Apple's on-stage threats, and have told reporters that the singer should either file a formal complaint or shut up, adding that staff at the unit weren't in the business of scoring brief moments of fame by publicly bragging about their celebrity inmates.
In an open letter to Apple, the sheriff department's Public Information Office Rusty Fleming wrote: "First, honey, I'm already more famous than you, I don't need your help. However, it would appear that you need mine. Have you ever heard of Snoop [Dogg], Willie [Nelson] or Armand Hammer? Maybe if you would read something besides your own press releases, you would have known BEFORE you got here, that if you come to Texas with dope, the cops will take your DOPE away and put YOU in jail".
She added: "You and I only met briefly in the hallway, [so] I don't [really] know you, but I'm sure you're an awesome and talented young woman. [And] I'm sure that [your fans] would just as soon you get this all behind you and let you go back to what you do best - so my last piece of advice is simple 'just shut-up and sing'. Sincerely, Rusty Fleming".
FEIST WINS POLARIS PRIZE
Asked for a quote for the award's official press release, Feist said: "Polaris is asking me for a quote... I haven't had a second to consider how to talk about this yet, but what I want to say is thank you to the people who really listened to my record. I'm genuinely grateful from one solitary listener to another. Honestly, thanks".
Feist's 'Metals' beat competition from other shortlisted albums by Cadence Weapon, Cold Specks, Drake, Kathleen Edwards, Fucked Up, Grimes, Handsome Furs, Japandroids and Yamantaka/Sonic Titan.
30 OF THE COOLEST BRANDS DO MUSIC
Led by The Centre For Brand Analysis, the Cool Brands survey puts approximately 1250 brands, selected by the Centre from a database of thousands, in front of a panel of 39 cool dudes (including designers, DJs, journalists, creatives and entpreneurs), to test awareness and perceived coolness. 3000 members of the public are then also asked to select which brands they consider to be 'cool' from the big list.
All that rating is then processed, with 571 brands this year getting a score that deemed them to be officially 'CoolBrands'. And in 2012 that list included six festivals, two music venues, six record labels, five music technology brands, five digital music services, one entrainment retailer and five music media.
Meanwhile a Top 20 of the coolest brands overall is also published, with Apple and YouTube topping those proceedings this year, neither of which are included in the music tally above, but both of which arguably earn some of their coolness from an association with music.
JUSTIN VERNON "WINDING DOWN" BON IVER
Asked by US radio station The Current what plans he had for Bon Iver after the band's current touring stint, he said: "Winding it down. I look at it like a faucet. I have to turn it off and walk away from it because so much of how that music comes together is subconscious or discovering. There's so much attention on the band, it can be distracting at times. I really feel the need to walk away from it while I still care about it. And then if I come back to it - if at all - I'll feel better about it and be renewed or something to do that".
So, you'd probably better get yourself tickets for those upcoming tour dates in November just in case.
BISCH BOSH, SCOTT WALKER FINISHES NEW LP
It's so named after Dutch artist Hieronymous Bosch (and not, obviously, the German electronics brand) because - like Bosch's paintings - it apparently can't be "apprehended" all at once, and features both heavenly and hellish themes.
The Wire Contributing Editor Rob Young has written a detailed blurb about it, with quotes from Walker on specific tracks and aspects of the LP, so read that here.
See You Don't Bump His Head
NILS FRAHM SHARES FREE DIGITAL LP
Very selfless, in fact, given that it was recorded under awkward circumstances, Frahm having broken his thumb falling out of his in-studio bunk bed one night. The thumb incapacitated (it was braced by four metal screws, hence the title), all nine tracks on the long player were played by Frahm with his nine intact digits.
Nils explains it all: "Even though my doctor told me not to touch a piano for a while, I just couldn't resist. I started playing a silent song with four fingers on my left and the remaining five on my right hand. I set up one microphone and recorded another tune every other night before falling asleep. The day I got rid of my cast I had recorded nine little tunes. They have helped me feel less annoyed about my accident".
Hear and download 'Screws' in its entirety via SoundCloud.
COLD PUMAS TO RELEASE DEBUT
In advance of its official issue on 5 Nov, have a blast of component track 'Fog Cutter', which is also available to download free.
You can also defer to the band's Tumblr for forthcoming tour dates (the most imminent at London's Old Blue Last on 24 Oct) and additional notes on the LP.
MUMFORD & SONS ANNOUNCE TWO-PART TOUR
You can look at the dates in just a minute, but first please note that 'Babel' is now available to purchase and prize forever. And fuck off anyone who doesn't like it.
21 Nov: Torquay, Princess Theatre
STEPS SET CHRISTMAS CONCERT DATES
The boot-scooting pop quintet will release a Christmas-themed collection titled 'Light Up The World' - their first new studio LP in over a decade - via their Warner Music imprint Steps Recordings on 12 Nov, promoting it via the live dates you're about to have a look at:
30 Nov: Plymouth, Pavilion
JAMES BLAKE SHARES NEW TOUR DATES, HARMONIMIX VIDEO
Blake (as his alternative solo alias Harmonimix) will also officially release two 'Harmonimixes' of tracks by ex Roll Deep rapper Trim aka Trimbal via R&S on 24 Sep, and accordingly has just debuted the video for A-side 'Confidence Boost'. View it now, why don't you.
3 Dec: Bristol, Thekla
THE CHARLATANS, KEEL HER TO PLAY FRED PERRY ANNIVERSARY PARTY
Tickets and further info via this link.
POWER'S FESTIVALS COMPANY CALLS IN THE ADMINISTRATORS
The latest live music venture from one-time Mean Fiddler chief Power only floated last summer, but has struggled in a challenging year for music festivals, with the British Hop Farm event in particular failing to perform, and the company's other main fest, Benicassim in Spain, also having a less good year than hoped.
The company's board admitted last week that it had failed to secure new funding, and confirmed it had asked London's Alternative Investment Market to stop the trading of its shares. In a statement yesterday the firm added: "The board of Music Festivals has resolved to appoint an administrator and once that appointment has been agreed a further announcement will be made in due course".
What this development means for the future of the Hop Farm Festival and Benicassim isn't yet clear.
PROUD2 HAS LICENCE TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED
Despite speculation that the incident could have longer-term implications for the venue's license, owner Alex Proud has told The Stage that he expects the space to re-open following this review, even if some licensing conditions might change.
Proud told the theatre industry publication: "We are confident the club will reopen, but perhaps with some new conditions pertaining to our licence, such as maybe closing the club a couple of hours earlier. I am profoundly upset and disappointed at what we think is the police's heavy-handed approach. Even if we win in a month's time and can reopen, [the temporary closure] will have massively affected the club's viability because a lot of the promoters will have become understandably nervous and moved their nights".
ALL NEW MYSPACE PREVIEWED
The current owners of the one time social networking phenomenon have been promising a radical relaunch ever since they acquired the website off Rupert Murdoch's News Corp in 2011, though, despite some redesigns and a refocus on music, the platform remains very much as before, and as clunky as ever to use.
However, work has been underway for sometime now on a 'designed from scratch' Myspace v2 that would be free of the technical limitations that have dogged the site since it well and truly lost the social networking race to Facebook.
From the speedy video preview posted yesterday, it's not entirely clear what services the new look MySpace will offer, how it will work, or how it will specifically integrate with Facebook and Twitter (though such integration is hinted at), though it certainly looks a lot sleeker than past MySpace incarnations, and music does still seem to be very much part of the equation (as does Creative Director Justin Timberlake).
Obviously MySpace carries a lot of brand baggage as well as the technical baggage that hindered its growth, and many will ask why the former social network is needed in 2012 - what will it offer that Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr don't already provide between them?
Though, with media coverage of Facebook these days almost exclusively concerned with privacy issues and share price gloom (even if both aren't entirely justified), perhaps autumn 2012 is the right time for a MySpace revival. It would be rather remarkable if Timberlake and his business partners at Specific Media could actually pull that off.
See the preview here.
NOEL GALLAGHER APOLOGISES FOR RUINING MUSIC
Speaking to Q, Gallagher said: "One of the best nights I've had out recently was at Coachella. We were up till seven o'clock in the morning, listening to those classic house tunes, going, 'Why did music have to change? Why couldn't it have stayed like this?' Then someone said, 'It's because of you!' And I was, 'Yeah, sorry about that'".