WARNER MUSIC ANNOUNCES RESTRUCTURE IN US
Under the new structure, Warner in the US will have three divisions, frontline recorded music, publishing and catalogue, and label and artist services. The first division will consist of Warner's record labels, principally Atlantic, Warner Bros and Warner Nashville, and will handle current talent and new releases. The second division will replace the Warner/Chappell publishing company, and also include catalogue marketing and the major's catalogue label Rhino. The third division will bring together distribution operations and those Warner units working outside records and publishing.
The second of the new divisions is the most interesting, with the major allying the marketing of its sound recording catalogue with its music publishing operations.
This possibly recognises that there are many opportunities for a record label's catalogue that are being missed by the old fashioned major label approach of marketing archive in much the same way as new releases, focused on compilations and album re-releases, rather than looking for more tactical opportunities to licence catalogue tracks and boost sales and listening on the digital space. As labels increasingly become licensing companies rather than album sellers when it comes to catalogue, it makes sense to tap into the licensing expertise that exists in the music publishing domain.
In terms of executives, the rejig results in a promotion for Warner/Chappell boss Cameron Strang, who will now also oversee Rhino Entertainment, whose boss Kevin Gore will report into Strang. On the frontline recordings side, the bosses of Atlantic, Warner Bros and Warner Nashville will report directly into overall Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper, rather than a replacement for Cohen. Matt Signore will head up label and artist services.
In a memo to staff published by Billboard, Cooper said of the rejig: "Among the numerous benefits in aligning Rhino and Warner/Chappell will be enriched collaboration in the US among our recorded music and music publishing teams with respect to catalogue exploitation, sync efforts and rights acquisition".
It's not thought that the changes Stateside will have any immediate impact on Warner Music businesses elsewhere, including the UK, though if the rejig is successful you'd expect other territories to be brought inline at some point.
Elsewhere in Warner Music news, the major has completed its previously reported refinancing, with new loan facilities that Billboard reckons could save the company up to $43 million in interest payments annually.
QUESTIONS ASKED ABOUT MADRID ARENA AFTER FOURTH PERSON DIES AS A RESULT OF HALLOWEEN SHOW CROWD SURGE
The ban comes as big questions are being asked about the number of tickets sold for the Thriller Music Park show, the quality of security on the night, whether required permits had been acquired, and whether the arena was ever fit to host such a large event.
Three gig-goers died at the scene after a crowd surge in a key corridor that led to the main venue in the arena, while a fourth died from her injuries over the weekend and a fifth remains in a critical condition. The latest victim was seventeen years old, which puts even more pressure on the event's promoters and security operation, given it was an eighteen and over show.
It now also seems certain that the setting off of a pyrotechnic by an audience member contributed to the fatal crush. Although overcrowding in the key corridor had begun before the explosion, most agree the loud bang created the panic that made the overcrowding fatal. Questions, therefore, are also being asked as to how an audience member was able to take pyrotechnics into the venue.
As previously reported, promoters of the show insist that the event, which had a licence for 10,600 gig goers in a venue with a 12,000 capacity, had not actually sold out, and that in the region of 9600 people were admitted.
But many who attended the show are convinced there were vastly more people in the building on the night, some estimates exceeding 20,000, either because the promoters sold more tickets than they said, or because there was a proliferation of fake tickets, or because people were getting in without tickets due to slack security, or a combination of the three. Some have also suggested that the high numbers of people trying to gain access to the event in part contributed to problem, with security abandoning ID checks, bag searches and the tearing of tickets in order to deal with crowds outside the arena.
Even if the number of people admitted to the venue overall was not so vastly over capacity as some have suggested, it does seem certain that another big problem was that ticketholders could drift between the three floors of the venue. This meant that access corridors were particularly busy, and that the main ground floor area closest to the stage was definitely over-capacity, maybe two-fold.
According to Spin, some are also claiming that the venue should never have been used for an event on the scale of Thriller Music Park, and the only reason is could was because, as a city-owned building, certain permit obligations that would exist for privately-owned operations did not apply, or were not enforced.
Local press have found an official report from 2010 criticising the arena's security, ventilation, fire-suppression systems, storage of flammable materials and insufficient passageways leading from each level to the exterior of the building. The latter issue, of course, was responsible for last week's deaths. Meanwhile a police report from as far back as 2006 has surfaced that questioned why the venue was being able to host such major events without a full and proper licence from city authorities.
Police are now reviewing 1350 hours of video footage to get a better idea of what went wrong. Some fear that, in a bid to divert attention from the numerous alleged failings by local authorities in running and regulating the city's arena, political leaders may claim that large-scale dance music events are simply more dangerous than other forms of live entertainment, which could hinder the staging of such events in the future, even though a number of pre-emptive measures - many obvious requirements to experienced venue owners and festival promoters - could have prevented last week's tragedy.
JERMAINE JACKSON TO CHANGE NAME, SLIGHTLY
According to papers filed with the LA County Superior Court, the one-time Jackson Five frontman wants to alter his legal last name to Jacksun, apparently for "artistic reasons".
The change needs to be approved by a judge to be recognised in law, and under LA rules the proposed alteration will have to be announced publicly a few times before approval can be given.
BIEBER FURIOUS OVER SEX DOLL
As previously reported, the 'love doll', made by Pipedream Products and selling for $26, carries the product description "the barely legal boy-toy who's waited eighteen long years to stick his lil dicky in something sticky" and "he turns straight men gay faster than you can peel his skinny jeans off!"
Pipedream has released numerous unofficial celebrity-themed sex dolls in the past, though mainly based on female stars. Needless to say, very few consider being recreated as a sex toy an honour, and a source has told The Sun: "Justin is absolutely incensed with this monstrosity. He's already set his lawyer on these sickos".
As already noted, the Just-In Beaver doll was soon listed as 'out-of-stock' on the Pipedream website, though it's not clear if that's because of high demand for the sex toy, or the result of some sort of cease and desist from Team Bieber. On the sex toy company, The Sun's source added: "They are running scared of Justin's legal team".
Actually the entire Pipedream website seemed to be having problems overnight, though the company is still proudly posting links to media coverage of Just-In Beaver on its Facebook page.
ISLAND CONFIRMS WILL YOUNG SIGNING
Confirming the new deal today, Island Records Co-President Darcus Beese told CMU: "We are absolutely delighted and enormously excited that Will, without question, one of the most consistently successful and best-loved UK male artists of the last decade, has decided to join the Island family in what we trust will be the defining phase of his career. A multi-platinum selling artist, an acclaimed actor and one of the nicest guys you'll meet in this business, there really isn't anyone else out there doing what Will does, anywhere near as well as he does it. We can't wait to get started".
Young himself added: "After almost eleven happy fulfilling years at Sony Music I have decided to move on now to Island Records. Growing up Island records was known to me as the bastion of real, exciting music. Music that was varied but always shared a common theme of soulful honesty whoever the artist was. It is with a huge sense of pride and excitement that I start the next stage of my pop career with Island Records under the flag of Universal. To go from winning a talent competition to signing with the legendary Island a decade on is truly the stuff that dreams are made of and I thank everyone who has helped me along the way".
NINJA TUNE SIGNS ILLUM SPHERE
With his debut album expected to be release via the label next year, Ninja Tune is currently giving away a free download of new track 'Fat Ballet'. Grab your copy here.
BMG SIGNS POP PRODUCER FUEGO
Announcing the deal, BMG's VP Creative for North America, Zach Katz, told CMU: "I am thrilled to be working with Fuego. His sound is next level and he is definitely one of the leaders of the new school of music".
While Fuego himself added: "I am happy to be an official part of the BMG family, and looking forward to working with such a creative, professional team with a strong focus on the global market".
JOSH HOMME ON QOTSA: CASTILLO OUT, DAVE GROHL IN
Grohl, who also featured on QOTSA's 2001 disc 'Songs For The Deaf', will do so again in place of drummer Joey Castillo, he apparently having quit the band. So far, no one's said anything about Grohl joining Josh Homme et al when they headline Download in 2013, but considering Foo Fighters are 'on a break' at the moment, it's not all that ridiculous a prospect.
Talking about all of the above in a convo with Radio 1's Zane Lowe, Homme, who also collaborated with Grohl in Them Crooked Vultures, said: "[Grohl] and I have this wonderful musical relationship which we don't have with other people. It's a very cool and comfortable position".
Since that's not a very satisfactory quote as far as proving that Dave Grohl is in Queens Of The Stone Age again, perhaps this official Facebook photo will do.
NEW MY BLOODY VALENTINE LP IS GO
Choosing to share the news with NME, Shields says: "I think with this record, people who like us will immediately connect with something. Based on the very, very few people who've heard [the new] stuff - some engineers, the band, and that's about it - some people think it's stranger than 'Loveless' [MBV's 1991 LP, and the band's last studio record]. I don't. I feel like it really frees us up, and in the bigger picture it's 100% necessary".
MBV have also just announced a headlining set at May 2013's Tokyo Rocks festival, which is nice if you can afford to go to Tokyo/live in Tokyo.
MARIAH CAREY RELEASES OBAMA VICTORY SONG
The song was originally performed by the singer at a campaign event earlier this year, according to Billboard, but the recorded version was premiered via producer Jermaine Dupri's Global14 website yesterday. "She wrote this for Obama", confirmed Dupri before posting a stream of the track.
Entitled 'Bring It On Home', you can listen to the song here.
WILEY, SKEPTA, JME TO TOUR
18 Apr: Norwich, UEA
THE CIVIL WARS AT CIVIL WAR; CANCEL TOUR DATES CITING "IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES"
The band, who played at London's Roundhouse on Tuesday evening, and were meant to appear last night at the Brighton Dome, wrote to fans post-the London show via Facebook, saying: "We sincerely apologise for the cancelling of all of our tour dates. It is something we deeply regret. However, due to internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition we are unable to continue as a touring entity at this time. Our sincere hope is to have new music for you in 2013".
Tickets for the cancelled dates are refundable as normal, but Williams and White also ask that anyone who incurred extra costs (service charges, travel reservations and the like) email details and receipts to firstname.lastname@example.org for reimbursement. They may regret saying that, but it's a very noble gesture all the same.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Walton-On-Trent, South Derbyshire, 8-11 Aug 2013: Lamb Of God, Amorphis, Dark Funeral. www.bloodstock.uk.com
BRAZIL COMPETITION REGULATOR LIMITS UNIVERSAL AND SONY'S EMI ACQUISITIONS
In the main, regulators in most territories have green lighted the two acquisitions without demanding any remedies, the big exception, of course, being the European Union, where officials demanded that Sony commit to sell a small number of EMI's European publishing catalogues, and Universal over half of the EMI Music business in Europe.
But, according to Bloomberg, regulators in Brazil are now also making demands, basically banning Universal and Sony/ATV from actually merging their respective units in the country with the EMI label and publishing businesses based there. For the time being at least.
The specifics aren't totally clear, though it doesn't seem that either Sony or Universal are being forced to sell their respective EMI acquisitions in the country, but the ruling will likely limit the consolidation the two majors will be able to instigate. Certainly in the short term.
EMI Music Publishing will technically speaking remain a separate entity anyway, because other investors were involved in its purchase alongside Sony/ATV, itself a joint venture between Sony Corp and the Michael Jackson estate. Though in practical terms, in most other territories, the Sony/ATV and EMI businesses are being combined. Universal, meanwhile, will fully integrate its EMI acquisitions into its own business in all other markets.
It remains to be seen how Universal and Sony react to the ruling by the Brazil competition authority, known as Cade, and whether it will result in either looking to sell the EMI Brasil entities they have bought. Though for the time being, it's thought both hope that the mergers will be fully green lighted down the line.
SONY JAPAN FINALLY EMBRACES ITUNES, AS SONY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK CHIEF STEPS DOWN
While the global Sony Music company gave iTunes permission to sell its sound recordings years ago, Sony Music Japan, which operates autonomously from the US-headquartered Sony Music Entertainment, has generally seen Apple's move into the music space as a threat. Partly because Sony's entertainment units are more closely aligned to the Sony electronics businesses in the conglom's domestic market, and partly because the Japanese music industry has held on to the CD as a preferred format longer than any of its global counterparts.
The arrival of the Sony catalogue on iTunes in Japan, documented by media and on the social networks but so far not officially announced, is pretty significant therefore, even if the major's music will be priced somewhat higher on the download store than in other markets. Reports also say that Sony tracks will be available via iTunes Japan without digital rights management attached; and while the dropping of DRM on music downloads is pretty standard in most territories now, it remains another area that still bothers Japanese record label execs.
As previously reported, Sony Music Japan did make a move in Apple's direction earlier this year by launching an app that made it possible to access some of its music via the IT giant's devices, while Sony Network Entertainment launched its Music Unlimited streaming platform in the Japanese market in July as well, albeit on Sony, Android and Windows, but not iOS, gadgets.
Talking of which, the Sony exec who has led the Sony Entertainment Network - the online content platform that incorporates the PlayStation Network, Music UnLimited and a video-on-demand set-up - will step down at the end of the year, it has been announced.
Tim Schaaff was headhunted from Apple in 2005 to build Sony's online content business. According to Reuters, he will stay on as an external director of the conglom, but not have an executive role. Sony's gaming division chief Andrew House will oversee the Sony Entertainment Network in the interim.
NEW ABBEY ROAD SESSIONS SERIES TO AIR ON CHANNEL 4
The series will kick off next week, 14 Nov, with an extended edition featuring just Paul Weller, while future programmes will run for 30 minutes and feature two acts each, as follows...
Episode two: The Maccabees / Django Django
MERCURY VIEWING FIGURES DOWN AFTER SWITCH TO CHANNEL 4, SAYS BBC MAN
According to Paterson, Channel 4's Mercury programme, aired the night after the actual awards show, pulled in 196,300 viewers, while BBC Two's broadcast the previous year got 680,100. Though there was also thirty minutes of live footage on music channel 4Music on Thursday night, plus the winner announcement was briefly aired live on Channel 4 too. And a spokesperson for the Mercury Prize says that the live announcement of Alt-J as the winners of the prize was watched by 975,000 people.
Said rep told Music Week: "We are very pleased that it has been possible to develop a whole season of Barclaycard Mercury Prize programming on Channel 4 in 2012, including extended coverage of the Awards Show. As well as continuing to have a 30 minute live programme broadcast on the night of the event, which aired on 4Music this year - there was also a simulcast of the winner announcement on Channel 4, which attracted 975,000 viewers".
NEW YORK RADIO STATION WFMU ON THE BRINK AFTER HURRICANE
Running since 1958, WFMU is a multi-award winning station popular with music fans in the New York and New Jersey areas where it broadcasts on two FM frequencies, and in recent years further afield through its online presence. Operating on an annual budget of $1.8 million, most of its income comes during a yearly two-week fundraising exercise, of which the record fair forms a part.
Read more at www.wfmu.org/marathon/
PSY ADDRESSES OXFORD UNION
Speaking about the sudden burst of interest in the song and its video, the Independent reports that Psy said: "Suddenly I thought what is going on? There were English comments, and Asian people were fighting over my nationality. Is he Chinese? Is he Korean? Is he Japanese? Then BBC, CNN are making reports of me. And I receive phone call from Justin Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun. I told him, 'If you're Justin Bieber's manager, I'm Justin Bieber'. I made him email me pictures to prove who he was. I had to apologise!"
As previously reported, Braun then flew to South Korea to sign Psy to his Schoolboy Records label, helping the performer reach number two in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, Psy has been performing in South Korea for over a decade, even though acceptance of his distinct style did not come quite so quickly.
"My only interest when I was young was to be attractive to the girls", he said. "I know I'm not that good looking, so I had to try other things. Silly voice, silly dancing. Laughing and joking can be handsome ... Korea is very strict, but I am not moral. Artists on the stage, their job is to be a clown. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them happy. Make them sad. I think that's all it is. But this philosophy is not suitable for a Korean artist. I have got into a lot of bad situations. People in Korea don't have a high expectation of Psy's morals. [But] I've had to be forgiven many times".
Of course, the biggest question of the day was about the origins of the 'horse dance' demonstrated in the 'Gangnam Style' video. On this, he said: "I stayed up for 30 nights to find that horse riding dance. I tried not just horse. I tried every creature. Elephant, monkey, kangaroo, snake, falling leaves, sun and moon. In Korea, my last five dance moves, they were so famous. This was number six. There was a lot of pressure".