The five biggest stories in the music business this week...
01: Universal settled with FBT over the digital royalties dispute, meaning that the many heritage artists now also suing for a bigger cut of download revenues will not be able to rely on the landmark case in this area for guidance on damages. Eminem collaborators FBT sued Universal for a bigger share of the download money generated by the Slim Shady recordings in which they have a stake; claiming that download revenue should be treated as 'licensing income' rather than 'record sales', FBT's record contract - like many such artist contracts - giving them a much bigger cut of the former than the latter. The producers won the case in 2010, but a dispute remained about how much money they were now due. That was expected to be argued in court next spring, but now a confidential out of court settlement has been reached. Many other artists with pre-iTunes record contracts, which therefore don't explicitly mention download income, are now suing for a bigger cut of digital money citing the FBT ruling. CMU report | CMU Timeline
02: Google Play announced Warner deal and European expansion. The mini-major Warner Music was not part of Google's new download store when it launched last year, but has now signed up. It means that the web giant can now roll out enhanced scan-and-match functionality on its music locker service, bringing its music-focused cloud-storage platform inline with those operated by Apple and Amazon. Google also announced that its music service, previously only available in America, will now launch in five European markets, including the UK, on 13 Nov. CMU report | New York Times report
03: Job cuts caused by the Universal/EMI merger began. Actually 60+ jobs were cut at Universal/EMI in the US late last week. Most went via the merger of the Universal and EMI American distribution divisions, though up to fifteen were cut by the consolidation of the two companies' Nashville offices. Universal Music Group supremo Lucian Grainge has pledged to make £100 million in cost savings by combining the Universal and EMI record company operations, despite having to sell off over half of EMI's recorded music assets in Europe as a condition of the major label merger's approval by the European Commission. CMU report | CMU timeline
04: Kim Dotcom unveiled a Mega teaser site, giving a little more information about the replacement for his shutdown MegaUpload service, which he plans to launch in January 2013, a year to the day that the Americans switched off the servers of his original website. The Mega preview site also called for programmers, investors and server owners interested in being involved in the new business. Meanwhile, prosecutors in the US claimed that by launching Mega v2, Dotcom was possibly in breach of his bail terms in New Zealand, where the Mega chief is fighting off extradition attempts by the American authorities. Dotcom's legal reps disagreed. CMU report | CMU timeline
05: iTunes 11 was officially delayed. Apple had originally pledged to put the all new, super enhanced version of its music and content store live in October, but as the month came to a close no such launch occurred. Then, at the last minute, a rep told reporters "the new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right". Some wondered if the IT giant hoped to include a streaming service in the upgrade, and delays in getting licences in place were causing the hold up. Others said that, following the Apple Maps debacle, the tech firm is just extra sensitive about getting things right with new software launches. A November unveiling is now seemingly planned. CMU report | Telegraph report
MERCURY AND POPJUSTICE PRIZES PRESENTED
It's their debut album 'An Awesome Wave', released back in May, that gets the Mercury seal of approval and, if past experience is anything to go by (Speech Debelle excluded), that record should now score a not insignificant uplift in sales. Even if the whole Mercury Prize palaver seems to have generated slightly less hype this year, mainly by moving from its traditional "we're just back from summer, LET'S DO THIS" early-September slot into "oh, another fucking awards show" November.
Commenting on the winning record, Mercury panel chair Simon Frith told CMU: "Alt-J's 'An Awesome Wave' combines unexpected shards of sound with mesmerising rhythms, compelling melodies and intriguing songs. A tantalising and delightful album".
Insisting they were ill-prepared to deliver a winners' speech, on stage the band delivered a simple thank you to "everyone in Team Alt-J", and "to our parents... thanks for not making us get jobs!" Meanwhile backstage frontman Joe Newman told the BBC: "The Mercury Awards puts us in the hall of fame for sure, because it's such a well respected award".
While much of the music industry partied at Camden's Roundhouse on Barclaycard's, well, Barclaycard, a slightly smaller gathering of 55 pop pundits elsewhere in London decided the winner of Popjustice's Twenty Quid Music Prize, the annual award presented on Mercurys night by Peter Robinson's popular pop website to what his panel believe has been the best pop song of the last year (or slightly more than the last year this time, given the shift in the Mercurys date). And the winner of that more modest honour was Will Young for his track 'Jealousy'.
The Mercury's awards show will be broadcast tonight on Channel 4 in that prime time slot of 11.35pm, and Will Young's 'Jealousy' will be broadcast right now, here.
THREE DIE IN CROWD SURGE AT MADRID FESTIVAL
The Thriller Music Park event took place at the 12,000 capacity Madrid Arena, though a licence for the show allowed 10,600 tickets to be sold. Promoters insist the venue was not over capacity, and say that the event had actually not quite sold out.
Some audience members have disagreed with that claim on the social networks, one estimating up to 20,000 people were in the building at the time, though there is evidence to suggest that the problem wasn't venue-wide overcrowding, but a bottleneck around one exit from the main arena. Some gig-goers have also claimed not enough exits were open during the event, with some claiming only one was available for much of the night.
Promoters say that they believe the fatal surge was caused when a flare went off within the audience area, though some bystanders have subsequently claimed the flare occured sometime after the crush began. Emergency staff were called to the scene at about 4am and found five people in distress. According to Spin, two were declared dead at the scene after paramedics attempted resuscitation for about thirty minutes, while a third died after being taken to a local hospital. The other two victims remain in a critical condition according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Local police are now investigating the tragedy and its causes. Meanwhile DJ Steve Aoki, who was headlining the show, issued a statement yesterday, writing: "After my performance last night at Thriller Music Park at the Madrid Arena in Spain, I was devastated to hear that three people had died during a crowd rush at one of the exits. The safety of my fans has always been my top priority and had I known that there was any distress putting people in jeopardy within the venue I would have ended my show immediately. My show in Bilbao Spain tonight will be cancelled out of respect for those who lost their lives and those who are injured. I would like to express my deepest condolences and heart felt prayers to the families and loved ones during this difficult time".
As a dance music event in particular, the Thriller Music Park deaths will remind many in the EDM community of the German Love Parade tragedy in 2010, when a crowd surge resulted in the deaths of 21 people, and should lead to further debate regards what promoters, and the local authorities that regulate such events, can be doing to prevent such fatalities in the future.
MEL B WINS RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST PHOTOGRAPHER
The restraining order bars Fawcett from contacting Brown or "loitering" within 50 metres of her, and will stay in place until 22 Nov when the case will return to court.
SUICIDE SILENCE FRONTMAN MITCH LUCKER 1984 - 2012
The band announced the news via Facebook yesterday, telling fans: "There's no easy way to say this. Mitch passed away earlier this morning from injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident. This is completely devastating to all of us and we offer our deepest condolences to his family. He will be forever in our hearts".
Formed in 2002, Suicide Silence released their debut album via Century Media in 2007. Their third, 'The Black Crown', reached number 28 in the Billboard 200, and the band recently signed a new deal with Nuclear Blast Entertainment, a new division of the Nuclear Blast label set up by the company's founder Markus Staiger and Roadrunner's former head of A&R Monte Conner.
Amongst the many tributes made yesterday to the vocalist from other musicians and bands in the metal community (compiled here by Blabbermouth), Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares said: "I am truly shocked to hear the news about Mitch Lucker today. I've watched him grow up [from] when Suicide Silence were just a local band in the LA area. He was so young with a great future ahead of him. He was truly an all around good dude. This really sucks! My condolences go out to his family, friends, band and his fans worldwide. He had so much to live for. RIP".
A candlelit vigil was held for Lucker in Huntington Beach, California last night. He is survived by his daughter Kenadee Isis.
DOMINO SIGNS JULIA HOLTER
It doesn't feature any extras, just the original tracklisting, so those of you who have been into Holter all along will instead have to derive exhilaration from the fact that, according to Domino, a sequel to 'Ekstasis' is anticipated in 2013.
Meanwhile, check out this SoundCloud player bearing LP track 'Goddess Eyes II'.
BMG ANNOUNCES BRYAN FERRY DEAL
The recordings element of the arrangement, which includes the release of Ferry's previously reported reinterpretation of some of his greatest hits in a 1920s jazz style, is the latest deal to be done by BMG using its 'artist partnership' model, which the music rights firm says "gives artists more transparency, greater control and a bigger share of revenues".
Confirming the deal, Ferry told CMU: "I have always liked to be hands-on with every aspect of the release of my records, and the BMG deal offers a new way of doing things".
Meanwhile BMG Chrysalis UK SVP Alexi Cory-Smith told CMU: "Bryan Ferry is a consummate artist with an incredible command of detail and understanding of how he wants his music to be presented to the world. We are delighted that he has chosen to partner with BMG as custodian of his rights".
SLEIGH BELLS TALK "CLEAN" 2013 LP
Meanwhile guitarist Derek E Miller tells us a little more about the sound of the new album, saying: "I wanted to make a metal record with a different context - without being self-serious. I wanted to play guitar again. [Second album] 'Reign Of Terror' comes from a horrible period of my life. I just needed to get it out of my system. Sonically, [the new album's] a lot more clean... it might sound surprising".
DANIEL BEDINGFIELD RETURNS NAKED AND WET
Continuing today's 'ban this sick filth' theme, some YouTube commenters have taken exception to the nudity in the (age-restricted) video, one noting: "There are children on YouTube, you fuck".
Nice. The track itself is a departure from what you may expect from Bedingfield (particularly if you were still waiting for his dancehall project), it taking a dark rock turn. I say it's dark, Heat informs me that it's "quite happy and jolly". Decide who's right by watching the video here, and download yourself a new five track EP in the same vein for free from www.danielbedingfield.com
EMMY THE GREAT AND TIM WHEELER TO RELEASE ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS SINGLE
Emmy and Tim will also be making us all aware of the track's advent via a trio of live shows, particulars of which are as follows:
17 Dec: Glasgow, Oran Mor
TALK NORMAL RECORD GRANTED BRIT RELEASE
So, that's a while to wait, but in the mean time it's still free to play via Spin, so go do that now.
SINEAD O'CONNOR TO UNPLUG AT LONDON DATES
And now, those 'special' dates:
5 Nov: London, St Pancras Church
JA JA JA SHARES THIRD BIRTHDAY DETAILS
For a taster-plate of what it'll all sound like, please have MØ track 'Pilgrim', which is available to hear now.
Party tickets are bookable via this link.
WILD NOTHING ADDS SHOWS
Tatum also has a cool new video to share starring alt-actress Michelle Williams - as matches 'Paradise', the new single from his very likeable new LP 'Nocturne' - so maybe have a look at that after the 2013 tour dates:
18 Mar: Liverpool, Kazimier
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
BEERMAGEDDON, Somercotes, Derbyshire, 24-26 Aug 2013: Bull-Riff Stampede, Old Corpse Road, Iron Knights. www.beermageddon.co.uk
OZZFEST JAPAN, Makuhari Messe, Chiba City, Japan, 11-12 May 2013: Slipknot, Black Sabbath. www.ozzfestjapan.com
REBELLION, Winter Gardens, Blackpool, 8-11 Aug 2013: The Damned, GBH, The Kids, Dragster, Criminal Mind. www.rebellionfestivals.com
ROCK WERCHTER, Rotselaar, Belgium, 4-7 Jul 2013: Kings Of Leon. www.rockwerchter.be
SONY CORP DOING BETTER, BUT NOT AS WELL AS MANY ANALYSTS HOPED
The Sony company overall posted a loss of 15.5 billion yen, compared to 27 billion a year ago. Revenues were up 1.9% to 1.6 trillion yen, and earnings before interest and taxes actually put the group into profit.
As previously reported, slumping sales on the consumer electronics side coupled with a strong yen and some natural disasters hitting operations have been mainly responsible for Sony Corp's bad fortunes in recent years.
On the entertainment side things haven't been so bad and, while the Sony film company saw operating profits slip year on year (though partly because of one big deal in 2011), Sony Music saw a 24.1% increase in operating profit, despite a 4.3% decline in revenue, thanks, presumably, to some quiet streamlining here and there across the music major. I mean, Sony could pretty much fire anyone not working on One Direction at the moment and it not have that big an effect on overall success.
ESSENTIAL ANNOUNCES WALL OF SOUND DEAL
Confirming the new deal, Jones told CMU: "With the end of the world looming, it seemed like the perfect time to relaunch the label. This new set up with Essential enables Wall Of Sound to focus on its musical and creative energies. It's a new dawn... it's a new day... Essential and Wall Of Sound... Let's take it all the way!"
Meanwhile Essential boss Mike Chadwick added: "What have I done?!?! Just kidding, Mark and I go back a long way and it's great to be working with each other again".
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AMAZON REMAINS BIGGEST ENTERTAINMENT RETAILER IN UK
Sainsbury's, the one supermarket that seems to have been stepping up its entertainment strands this year, saw its market share rise from 4.6% to 6.6% year on year, making it the sixth biggest player in the entertainment retail market. Rivals Tesco and Asda are both still ahead, though both also saw their market shares slip, 2.5% and 1.2% respectively.
At the top of the market share chart, according to Kantar, is Amazon, which overtook HMV as the biggest entertainment retailer in the UK during the Christmas shopping quarter last year. Its market share in quarter three was 3.4% up on the previous year to 20.3%, while HMV's was down slightly to 16.1%, despite the Game chain of stores being cut in half in March, giving the high street seller an advantage in the gaming space.
Commenting on the latest stats, Kantar Worldpanel Consumer Insight Director Fiona Keenan said: "Sainsbury's success in the entertainment market is partly down to consumers switching their spend from other retailers, in particular from HMV and Game. However, it has also managed to encourage existing shoppers to spend more - those customers who purchased entertainment products from Sainsbury's in the third quarter of last year spent an extra £4m on videos, games and music in the same quarter this year".
She added: "Sainsbury's will also be benefiting from increased footfall with the number of times shoppers visit its stores growing by 2.6% year-on-year over the same twelve week period. As 51% of the retailer's entertainment sales come from impulse purchases, having shoppers in its stores more often will naturally lead to growth in non-food categories too".
DANNY BAKER HITS OUT AT BBC AS IT AXES HIS LONDON RADIO SHOW
Baker seemed partly pissed off that BBC London bosses had selected his show for the axe, and partly about the way they had communicated the decision to him. The BBC hoped to park Baker's afternoon show at the end of the year, but the DJ announced that yesterday would be his last stint for the London station.
Hitting out at BBC bosses on his own show - at times in a fashion reminiscent of Dave Lee Travis's infamous on-air resignation from Radio 1 in 1993 (in DLT's case, in response to then R1 chief Matthew Bannister's attempts to drag the nation's favourite out of the 1970s) - Baker said: "The show's been cancelled by the BBC. They don't want this any more. It's a dirty rotten shame and a rotten way they did it. Nobody phoned me. Apparently they were planning on getting round to telling me. I don't want to go, I make no bones about it".
BBC London is having to shave 16% off its running costs, while also battling with declining listening figures, though Baker suggested savings could be made by "getting rid of two thirds of the middle management" who are "clinging like limpets to a very great uncreative life". Baker stated that he was paid £300 a show after deductions.
Baker isn't the only on-air victim of the cuts, Gaby Roslin is also departing the station's breakfast show, though the axing of the critically acclaimed, awarding winning afternoon show is likely to be the most controversial element of BBC London's upcoming revamp.
Baker added that the London station was now "sleepwalking to oblivion; one show had to go and it was us - it was just not generic enough". Widely regarded as one of British radio's best presenters, few expect Baker to stay off the air for long, with other stations likely to be keen to snap him up, plus he will continue to present his other show for another BBC station, 5 Live, on Saturday mornings.
GARY BARLOW TO STAR IN EPISODE OF MIRANDA
DEATH GRIPS DROPPED BY SONY/EPIC AFTER PUBLISHING ANGRY EMAIL
Epic Records' Head of Business & Legal Affairs Heath Kudler wrote in the email, dated 1 Oct - the same day as the leak: "Epic is extremely upset and disappointed that the artist decided to release an album without Epic's knowledge or involvement. As you know, the artist has not only blatantly breached a number of provisions in the applicable recording agreement, it also has wilfully infringed Epic's copyright rights with respect to these masters. Equally important, without provocation, the artist has made false and disparaging statements on various websites about Epic. All this, despite the fact that Epic has done nothing except wholeheartedly supported the band, even though the band has made certain decisions that have financially damaged Epic".
He continues: "Given the situation in which Epic finds itself, please immediately pull the album from all websites on which it is currently being distributed. In addition, please promptly provide the masters (which Epic owns) to us. Once we have cleared the track, we intend to quickly put the album up for sale. This album will not count towards the Recording Commitment. As I am sure you understand, Epic will not [be able to] pay for an album that has already been downloaded by thousands of people".
Following this latest private-email-publishing stunt, Epic announced yesterday that it was now in the process of terminating the band's contract, issuing a statement, published by Pitchfork, that reads: "Epic Records is a music first company that breaks new artists. That is our mission and our mandate. Unfortunately, when [third-party orchestrated] marketing and publicity stunts trump the actual music, we must remind ourselves of our core values. To that end, effective immediately, we are working to dissolve our relationship with Death Grips. We wish them well".
Never mind though, 'No Love Deep Web' is still available via the band's website (even though that went down for a time shortly after the original leak) and their SoundCloud page. And we should note that the latter, with censored artwork, is a whole lot safer for work than the former.