The five biggest stories in the music business this week...
01: First round bids were in for the EMI publishing catalogues set for divestment, according to the New York Post. The Sony-led consortium that bought the EMI publishing company earlier this year agreed to sell off the Virgin and Famous US catalogues, worth between $130m and $150m, in order to get European regulator approval for their acquisition. The Post says BMG, Primary Wave, G2 Investment Group, Ole and Because Music have all submitted bids, and that more parties may join the race when a second round of bidding kicks off next week. CMU report | New York Post report
02: The MAMA Group took a stake in All Tomorrows' Parties. The festivals and venue operator, still part of the HMV Group for the time being, bought 50% of the ATP business, which was relaunched by its founders in July after a difficult year for the UK festivals sector forced their original company into administration. The MAMA team will help further develop the ATP brand in the UK and beyond, while the ATP promoters will also get involved in other MAMA ventures including Lovebox and The Great Escape. CMU report | NME report
03: AEG confirmed the roll out of AXS.com in the UK. The live promoter launched its own ticketing platform in the US last year, in response to its existing ticketing provider, Ticketmaster, merging with its main rival Live Nation in 2010. It will arrive in the UK as a primary ticket seller for events at the AEG-operated O2 dome, beginning with two Girls Aloud dates, presumably with plans to become a fully-fledged player in the UK ticketing market. CMU report | Pollstar report
04: It was revealed that the BPI plans to try to block three more file-sharing websites. The record industry trade body has written to all the major UK internet service providers requesting they block access to Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents on copyright grounds. No one expects any ISP to comply, but the letters indicate that legal action to secure injunctions forcing web-blocks against all three sites is on the agenda. The BPI successfully got web blocks put in place against The Pirate Bay earlier this year. Meanwhile in Ireland this week, it looked like the BPI's Irish counterpart had won a similar injunction against the Bay, but then ISP UPC said its customers had temporarily lost access to the controversial file-sharing site because of tests on its network and not because of any injunction. BPI story | UPC story
05: AEG asked that leaked emails be withdrawn from its legal battle with the Jackson family. The live giant accuses people linked to the Jacksons of leaking embarrassing emails between the firm's employees and associates, dating from 2009, to the LA Times, which showed concerns and problems AEG staff had regards Michael Jackson, who at that point was preparing for his ill-fated 'This Is It' residency in London. The concerns in the emails ran contrary to AEG's official statements at the time. The Jacksons are suing AEG, claiming the live firm is jointly liable for the late king of pop's death as employers of the doctor the criminal justice system said caused the singer's demise. AEG says Jackson himself appointed and managed the negligent medic. The leaked emails were seemingly shared with the Jacksons as part of preparation for that legal battle, and AEG says that the family broke the rules by making them public, and therefore the correspondences should not now be submissible as evidence when the case finally gets to court. The Jacksons deny leaking the mails. CMU report | CNN report
On CMU this week, we continued to prepare for the independent sector's big awards show on Monday by chatting to three inspirational indie label leaders, Sam Dyson from Distiller, Chris Goss from Hospital and Simon Morley from Pink Mist and Blood & Biscuits. Approved were Talk Normal, Bleeding Heart Narrative, Chromatics and Feathers.
FIRST ROUND BIDS IN FOR EMI PUBLISHING CATALOGUES ON THE BLOCK
As previously reported, in April this year the European Commission gave its approval to the Sony-led bid to buy the EMI music publishing company subject to the divestment of a small number of EMI's publishing assets, namely the Virgin and Famous UK catalogues, which include songs by Tears For Fears, Culture Club, Bryan Ferry, Devo and Duffy.
Sony's EMI Music Publishing acquisition subsequently went ahead in late June after getting US regulator approval, and conversations with up to twenty possible bidders for the Virgin/Famous catalogues began last month.
According to the Post, BMG, which lost out to Sony in the bidding for the EMI publishing business outright last year, has now submitted an offer for the two catalogues back on the block, as expected. As have US-based music company Primary Wave, which came into being through the acquisition of a stake in the Kurt Cobain catalogue in 2006, and New York-based finance firm G2 Investment Group.
The Post reckons offers have also been submitted by Toronto-based indie publisher Ole and Paris-based Because Music, and that further bidders may enter the race in the second round, which kicks off on Monday, including Saban Capital Group, Guggenheim Partners and Warner Music Group.
Specifics about individual deals are not known, of course, though sources have valued the catalogues between $130 million and $150 million. The sale is being overseen by lawyer John Branca, one of the executors of the Michael Jackson estate, which, of course, owns half of the Sony music publishing business Sony/ATV.
Because the bid for EMI Music Publishing involved other investors in addition to Sony and the Jackson Estate, technically the former EMI division remains a standalone entity, though in terms of day-to-day operations it has been merged with the Sony/ATV business.
CONRAD MURRAY COULD BE OUT OF JAIL BY CHRISTMAS
The former medic is currently serving a four year prison sentence in LA after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The judge who heard Murray's trial was severe in his summing up of the case after the jury delivered its guilty verdict, claiming the doctor had never shown any remorse for his actions and should therefore serve as long a prison sentence as the law allowed.
However, it was speculated from the start that Murray, who still claims he is innocent of the involuntary manslaughter charges, would actually serve the majority of his prison term under house arrest, because of overcrowding in the Californian prison system.
The Sun quotes Valerie Wass, who is now seemingly representing Murray, as saying: "I hope Conrad may be allowed to come home for Christmas. It is ridiculous he has been in there for a year. He is not dangerous, violent or the type you need to take off the streets to punish him. They have already stripped him of his medical license and it is a waste of everybody's time and money to have him in there".
AXL ROSE WOULD VOTE FOR OBAMA IF HE COULD BE BOTHERED
Appearing on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live', the Guns N Roses frontman said: "I'm in California, and it usually leans democratic, and that's usually where I'm leaning anyway. I'm not helping, but I would lean Democrat. I would lean Obama".
Democracy at work there. Come on Axl, if California told you to jump of a cliff would you assume that it was going to do it anyway and not bother? Wait, sorry, I'm not sure that works.
Well, whatever, you can go and watch Axl saying those words here or you can watch a really terrible 'unplugged' version of 'Welcome To The Jungle' that Rose delivered at a recent charity concert. It's hard to choose the worst bit, but I think it's probably when Axl tries to wiggle...
KYLIE MANAGER TO BE HONOURED AT A&M AWARDS
Originally from Melbourne, Blamey has worked with many artists, as both manager and agent, over his four decades in the business, though is best known for having guided Minogue's career for over 25 years.
Confirming the award, MMF CEO Jon Webster told CMU: "We are delighted to give this award to Terry Blamey in recognition of his skills guiding the career of pop icon Kylie Minogue for 25 years. Pop stars often come and go but the few greats transcend time".
The A&M Awards take place on 27 Nov in London, info at www.amawards.org
ELIZABETH TAYLOR TOPS FORBES DEAD RICH POLL
If it helps, just imagine the questions God must be asking of former Pope John Paul II about that papal knighthood that was dished out to Jimmy Savile in 1990. I mean, even by the Catholic Church's standards, here was man you certainly didn't want at your party.
Anyway, Taylor and Jackson. The relatively recently dead Hollywood star has knocked the slightly more dead king of pop off Forbes magazine's annual dead rich poll, her estate having amassed no less than $210 million in the last year, though mainly because of the one-off sale of jewellery, costumes and property.
The former acting star did have a 10% stake in all her movies, so the estate will continue to earn considerable sums long term, though may well not outperform the incredibly lucrative Jackson estate beyond this year, which came in second in the latest dead rich poll by generating $145 million in the last twelve months.
Elvis, once the undisputed king of the deads when it came to posthumous earnings, now has to make do with third place. Though one would hope he and Bob Marley are too busy kicking the shit out Jimmy Savile to notice. See atheists, believing in heaven can be fun.
1. Dame Elizabeth Taylor ($210 million)
SCISSOR SISTERS TAKING INDEFINITE KIKI BREAK
Marking the finale of the glam-pop quartet's British tour at London's Roundhouse this past Wednesday night, Jake Shears said: "This will be the last time we will play in London for quite some time". His fellow bandmates then confirmed the hiatus plans to Gigwise backstage.
Though Shears subsequently tweeted "Thank you London for all your love. And don't worry, we're not going away forever. We'll be back before you know it. With bells on". Which doesn't sound like someone fully committed to an 'indefinite hiatus' to me.
Perhaps he was alluding to solo projects, or very long term plans. Either way, I'm sure they'll still be having a kiki.
BLINK 182 END INTERSCOPE DEAL
The band's Tom Delonge announced this news in not quite so many words via Instagram, captioning a photo of Mel Gibson in 'Braveheart' with the message: "Freedom! Blink as of today, is now an independent artist!"
Keen announcers of things via photographs shared on social networks, bassist Mark Hoppus previously posted a photo of a computer screen showing Logic recording software to his Google+ profile back in August to announce that the band were working on that new album.
CHRISTOPHER OWENS DETAILS POST-GIRLS SOLO DEBUT
Anyway. Stream this montage featuring the record's first two tracks, 'Lysandre's Theme' and 'Here We Go', as an intro to this tracklisting:
ANGEL HAZE GIVES AWAY FREE MIXTAPE
It features six new (and occasionally pretty brutal, 'Cleaning Out My Closet' in particular) takes on tracks by Eminem, Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, Erykah Badu and the like, and is available to download via this Haze-approved Live Mixtapes link.
PEAKING LIGHTS RELEASING RE-DUBBED LUCIFER LP
The band's Aaron Coyes, author of the new dub edits, says: "Before 'Lucifer' even had a song written or a name to it we had the 'light bulb skull rattle' that we had to do a dub for whatever was to come out of the studio sessions".
He continued: "We have always loved the challenge of approaching the music we make from a new angle, and although the dub aspect to the music we make may be there in structure [already], this is the first time we have laid it down by playing as the engineers".
PAUL WELLER, MILES KANE TO PLAY CRISIS CHARITY CONCERT
Weller, who also performed at the event this time last year, says: "I'm looking forward to getting on stage for Crisis again - these are really tough times and we need organisations like Crisis now more than ever".
MENCAP LITTLE NOISE SESSIONS ADD JESSIE WARE, KARIN PARK, OLLY MURS
Murs headlines the first show on 20 Nov, appearing - as will all artists - at St John-at-Hackney Church in London. Details of this and other dates via www.littlenoisesessions.org.uk
MUSICTANK TO FOCUS ON TICKETING
The event will include two panel debates, one looking at innovations in the primary ticketing market, and the other at the continued issues around resale services, both involving artists, managers and promoters, and ticketing experts. Aline Renet of French live industry body PRODISS will keynote the secondary ticketing session, while We Got Tickets founder Dave Newton will lead the innovation panel.
MusicTank Chair Keith Harris will moderate, and he told CMU regards the secondary ticketing element of the event: "Four years ago when MusicTank first took on this issue, the alarm bells were ringing, but the government and the industry hit snooze. Now it's definitely time to wake up and get to work on solving this problem, before it's too late".
This will all take place in London on 5 Dec from 5.30pm-9pm. More at www.musictank.co.uk/events/ticketing
WARNER/CHAPPELL APPOINTS NEW NASHVILLE CHIEF
He joins the Warner publishing enterprise from the EMI publishing business, joining Jon Platt, who himself left EMI earlier this year and joined Warner/Chappell last month. Vaughn will report to Platt in this new job, which is a new role within the Warner publishing unit.
Platt told reporters: "Ben's incredible track record of songwriter development speaks for itself. His A&R vision, leadership skills and business instincts have made him one of Nashville's most dynamic and influential executives. I have worked closely with Ben for years and I've no doubt he is the perfect fit for Warner/Chappell and its mission to be the first-choice home for the world's most extraordinary songwriters".
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LOVELIVE TO BOOST LABEL RELATIONSHIPS WITH NEW APPOINTMENT
LoveLive boss man Richard Cohen told CMU: "The creation of this role is an important part of our strategic growth plan. By working with the labels at the conception stage, we will be more effective and efficient in delivering our full breadth of services and expertise to each project. Ben is well known and respected across the industry and will bring a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm to the role. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the music sector and a reputation for delivering consistently excellent results. We are thrilled to welcome him to the LoveLive team".
While Bleet added: "LoveLive is one of the most exciting and innovative companies in the industry today and its growth over the last few years has been nothing short of phenomenal. The last year alone has seen the company launch its own consumer offer as a trusted partner of YouTube. Having secured one of the unique licenses to live stream, LoveLive have already worked with some fantastic brands and artists. I'm delighted to be joining at such an exciting time in the company's development".
BELIEVE APPOINT NEW US LABEL RELATIONS MAN
In his new role, German will report into Believe's Head Of Sales & New Business Lee Morrison, who told CMU: "Having known Shane for the last couple of years I know his understanding and passion for the independent sector is second to none. He joins Believe as part of the expansion of our services in North America and will be a key member in growing our US offices. I look forward to working with him to secure our place as the world's largest fully independent digital distributor".
HADOPI HAS ITS BUDGET CUT
That said, the unit, which already has responsibilities for helping the music and movie industries protect their copyrights online, will also start working with the gaming sector on piracy issues, meaning in real terms the cutbacks are more than the two million euros that appears in the spreadsheets.
Set up to administer the controversial three-strikes system made law in France in 2009, which hasn't been as draconian in terms of disconnecting file-sharers as was originally planned, Hadopi's position was thrown into doubt earlier this year when the country's new culture minister said the whole trios-strikes initiative was "unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective".
According to a French government report, summarised by Ars Technica, Hadopi's annual budget has been cut to eight million euros, having been 11.4 million euros in 2011.
STILL NO ITUNES 11, BUT REPORTS OF ISTREAM CONTINUE
iTunes 11 was (and still is on the Apple website) billed to launch this month, and many expected it to go live during Apple's product preview press event earlier this week, but in the end it wasn't mentioned. It remains to be seen if the revamped software becomes available in the next week, though you might have thought the company's reps would have been more specific yesterday if that was still the plan.
The earnings call also made no reference of plans for an Apple streaming service, even though rumours of such a thing continue to persist, and more strongly so than with past 'iStream is coming' gossip. Various media now cite US label sources as saying Apple bosses are indeed in the process of negotiating rights for an ad-funded streaming platform, though the labels are hesitant.
Apple is notorious for not wanting to spend its own money on its music ventures beyond the development of technology, and while it may be generous when it comes to sharing ad revenues, the record companies are used to attractive advances when doing these kinds of deals.
Nevertheless, when Bloomberg published a report on those negotiations yesterday, predicting a launch of iStream in the first quarter of 2013, the share price of publicly listed interactive radio service Pandora took another hit, as it did the last time Apple's streaming ambitions were reported by the financial press.
Apple entering the market, even if its service is more of the 'interactive radio' Pandora kind than the fully-on-demand Spotify model, would shake-up the emerging streaming sector for certain. And, of course, they are not the only major player with ambitions in that space, streaming being the key new component of Microsoft's latest music venture, Xbox Music, which will be fully integrated with the new Windows8 operating system launched yesterday.
TAYLOR SWIFT'S ALBUM NOT ON STREAMING SERVICES, BUT IS AVAILABLE WITH PIZZA
Borchetta recently told Billboard: "I personally struggle with that model - and I don't think that it should be free. We've spoken with the services, and spoken with Spotify in particular ... We just haven't hit on the right model that works for us. I don't have thousands and thousands of albums and hundreds and hundreds of artists, I have a finite artist roster and finite number of releases. If you're a big battleship like Sony or Universal and have tens of thousands of masters, that income stream makes sense at a big corporation. It doesn't make sense to a small record company".
Speaking to Rolling Stone about his compromise position, ie making some content available to the streaming platforms, but not new releases, he added "We're not putting the brand new releases on Spotify. Why shouldn't we learn from the movie business? They have theatrical releases, cable releases. There are certain tiers. If we just throw out everything we have, we're done".
Yeah, imagine if people were able to listen to your music when they wanted, what an awful world that would be. Though, of course, Taylor Swift's album is freely available via user-upload streaming services like YouTube and Grooveshark (takedown notices permitting), and the myriad completely unlicensed sharing services online, so anyone who wants the album without visiting iTunes or a CD seller can quite happily go and listen to it right now.
Of course, some people - artists and business folk alike - criticise streaming services with any freemium components on the basis such things "devalue music". Presumably that's not an argument Borchetta's going with though, as he's apparently quite happy for people to buy the new Taylor Swift album as a sundry item when ordering a pizza. Yes indeed, US residents buying a pizza from Papa John's can currently add a CD copy of 'Red' to their order for just $13. Seriously.
Calling Big Machine's policy on streaming short sighted, Rhapsody's Senior Director Of Content Programming Garrett Kamps wrote in a blog post: "We believe the cumulative impact of [repeated streams] over [a number of] years will outweigh and outlast the impact of a single download. We believe that the model of access over ownership provides a level of convenience and accessibility that facilitates an unprecedented degree of music discovery - encouraging you to experience artists and genres you'd never knew to be so amazing, to engage with music you might never have heard of, let alone actually heard, were it not so effortless to do so. Most of all, we believe that more people listening to more music more frequently is better for everyone. We believe that, we want Taylor and artists like her to believe that, and if there's anything standing in the way, then we want to figure out a way to get past it".
Then again, I do really like pizza.
TIMBERLAKE AND BIEL'S WEDDING GUESTS ENTERTAINED WITH VIDEO OF HOMELESS PEOPLE
During the reception, as is tradition, messages from people who were unable to attend were delivered. In this case though, the messages, delivered via a video put together by Timberlake's friend estate agent Justin Huchel, were from random homeless people, buskers and transsexuals back in the couple's home city of LA. Hilarious! What a load of idiots who can't even afford to hire a private jet to go to a wedding they weren't invited to.
The video was uncovered by Gawker, which posted a 20 second snippet of it yesterday, though the site was forced to take it down after Hutchel's lawyer threatened legal action, saying: "Mr Huchel made [the] video to be used and exhibited privately at Justin Timberlake's wedding as a private joke without Mr Timberlake's knowledge".
Well, it's good that everyone still has a sense of humour about it now that the story's out. Otherwise it might look like Huchel and his celebrity friends were aware that the video was a pretty awful thing to do. Hahahahahahaha.