The five biggest stories in the music business this week...
01: About nine proposals were in for Parlophone. According to the FT, the joint venture between XIX Entertainment's Simon Fuller and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell is amongst those to have submitted "preliminary non-binding proposals" to Universal Music with a view to buying some of the assets the mega-major is being forced to sell by competition regulators as part of its recent acquisition of EMI, in particular the UK-based Parlophone division. Warner Music and MacAndrews & Forbes are also thought to have submitted initial proposals, while BMG has signed a non-disclosure agreement but is yet to provide an actual bid. It was thought Universal would this week open a 'data room' where interested parties could gain more information about the assets for sale to help them prepare a fuller bid, though Billboard now says that has been delayed a little. CMU report | FT report
02: The IFPI said that relatively speaking A&R spending is up. In its annual 'Investing In Music' report, the global trade body said that collectively record labels around the world were now investing $2.7 billion a year in developing and releasing new music, only slightly down on 2008 despite the trade value of recorded music falling 16% in that time. The IFPI added that, despite much talk about the "demise" of the record label in the digital age, 71% of UK and 80% of German unsigned bands surveyed still wanted to sign a label deal, record companies still being the key investor in artists. The report also confirmed that brand partnerships and sync deals are an increasingly important revenue stream to enable labels to get a return on their A&R investments. CMU report | IFPI report
03: Various digital services expanded. Google Play arrived in various European markets, including the UK, offering downloads and a digital locker service complete with scan-and-match. VEVO, the Sony/Universal-owned music video platform, launched its VEVO.com website and various apps in Spain, France and Italy. And Spotify went live in Ireland and Luxembourg, as well as launching a new braowser-based player in beta. Meanwhile, Norway-based streaming platform WIMP, already available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Holland, is preparing a Polish launch. Google Play report | VEVO/Spotify report
04: AEG was hit with a new lawsuit over its ill-fated Michael Jackson 'This Is It' venture. The former PA of the late king of pop, Michael Williams, said that he was an implied beneficiary of the singer's contract with the live music firm, and therefore had suffered loss from Jackson's death. As employer of Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of causing the pop star's death, AEG was liable for the singer's demise, the PA argued, and therefore the music firm should compensate Williams for his financial losses. AEG called the legal claim "frivolous" and said it was clearly "barred by at least four different legal doctrines". Meanwhile in the other lawsuit considering AEG's liability, or not, for Jackson's death, the one being pursued by Katherine Jackson, the judge hearing the case said she didn't believe the Jackson family had leaked the confidential emails between AEG execs about the 'This Is It' project that appeared in the LA Times in September, and therefore rejected the live firm's request that said emails be barred as evidence at the Jacksons v AEG trial. PA lawsuit | Jacksons v AEG lawsuit
05: The BBC celebrated 90 years of radio, amidst corporate chaos. The 90th anniversary of the first ever radio broadcasts in the UK were celebrated concurrently on the vast majority of BBC radio stations (though apparently not BBC Radio Cymru) with the simultaneous airing of a sound collage collated by Damon Albarn, featuring Big Ben's chimes, the BBC pips, some random voxpops from kids about the future, and some nice piano playing from Albarn himself. The landmark came in a week of turmoil at the Beeb following the resignation last weekend of bumbling Director General George Entwistle, after less than two months in the job, over a careless 'Newsnight' report that indirectly accused Tory Lord Alistair McAlpine of child abuse. BBC Radio boss Tim Davie stepped in to fill the DG role on a temporary basis, while BBC lawyers agreed to pay the wrongly accused peer £185,000 in damages. Entwistle, meanwhile, walked away with a £450,000 golden goodbye. Happy Birthday. Damon's soundscape | BBC meltdown report
This week on CMU, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the UK singles chart by chatting to the boss of the Official Charts Company Martin Talbot. We had a playlist curated by Novella and in a guest column Vasilis Panagiotopoulos reported on the recent You Are In Control conference in Reykjavík. We approved of NONONO, Jessica Pratt, Petite Noir and Suuns.
RIAA COMPILES LIST OF 'NOTORIOUS WEBSITES'
The list features the websites that the US record industry trade body reckons are particularly big offenders in the online piracy space, most helping people to identify where they can access unlicensed content stored on other users' computers, some more directly providing access to such files on their own servers. Last year the list also included MegaUpload (shutdown by the US authorities in January), Demonoid (most of which was shutdown by an Interpol-led action in August) and BT Junkie (which voluntarily ceased operating in the wake of the MegaUpload closure).
The list is provided in a letter from the RIAA to the Assistant US Trade Representative for Intellectual Property & Innovation, which has surfaced on scribd.com this week. The letter notes that there has been some success in stopping particularly prolific copyright infringing websites from operating, saying "We want to take a moment to reflect on the fact that thanks in large part to the efforts of the US government in highlighting illicit practices, some of the notorious markets that we identified in last year's submission no longer feature in this filing".
But much more is still to be done, the letter adds. Interestingly the RIAA document admits that many of the websites it lists as being rampant infringers do respond to takedown notices submitted by copyright owners regards specific unlicensed files or links to such content, but because users can and do re-upload any content that is taken down almost immediately, "copyright owners are forced into a endless 'cat and mouse' game, which requires considerable resources to be devoted to chasing infringing content, only for that same infringing content to continually reappear".
The RIAA concludes that "BitTorrent site operators should take proactive measures to stop indexing torrents". Of course said site owners might argue they are actually operating within current American copyright law, because they operate a takedown system as described in the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As previously reported, the RIAA and its counterpart in the movie industry increasingly feel that the requirements of site owners in the DMCA are too weak, allowing BitTorrent and other user-upload sites to operate deliberately shoddy takedown systems, meaning that they have a constant supply of unlicensed content while claiming to be in compliance with American law.
Most recently it announced plans to limit the amount of sharing each user could do each month (in terms of gigabytes), because those who use the platform for legitimate purposes don't generally use as much capacity as those using it to distribute unlicensed songs and movies. Such actions could almost certainly be said to be "proactive measures" to restrict piracy, though to be fair the RIAA letter dates from before Rapidshare's more recent anti-piracy initiative.
DLT QUESTIONED BY POLICE IN RELATION TO SAVILE-GATE
The presenter was arrested early yesterday morning and questioned for five hours. The specifics of why Travis was taken in for questioning are not known, though when allegations against Savile first hit the headlines last month, and as various female broadcasters recalled how chauvinistic British broadcasting was from the 1960s to the 1980s, two women made allegations against the DJ.
Former BBC and Sky News presenter Vivien Creegor says DLT "jiggled her breasts" while she was on air in the 1980s, while an unnamed woman accused the DJ of groping her when she was just seventeen. At the time Travis said he "categorically denied" both allegations, though yesterday both he and his lawyer refused to comment.
BBC4 reportedly pulled a 1977 episode of 'Top Of The Pops' featuring DLT that was due to be shown last night in the wake of the new arrest. A similar decision was made regards 'TOTP' episodes featuring Savile when the scandal around him first erupted. It's not known whether DLT's weekend show on various Magic stations will be affected.
BIEBER PAPARAZZO CHASE CASE DISMISSED
As previously reported, Paul Raef was the first person to be charged under a controversial new Californian law that aims to punish photographers who create dangerous situations in search of profit.
But Superior Court judge Thomas Rubinson ruled that the new law was too broad, and contravenes First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, so dismissed the case in its entirety.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE NOT RECORDING ALBUM
JAMIE LIDELL RELEASING LP
Listen to one of its eleven 100% solo components, as is titled 'What A Shame', now.
STOOSHE POSTPONE LP RELEASE
The Warner Music-signed Stooshe girls, impulsive perfectionists that they are, interpret the wait thus: "We finished the songs for this album a couple of months ago, but we've recently written a couple of new songs which we think are too good to leave off. We'll be going back into the studio soon to record them. We're sorry to everyone who wanted the album in time for Christmas, but we promise that it'll be worth the wait when it comes!"
Speaking of originality, artistic integrity, and the like, this is Stooshe's new single, an imaginative interpretation of TLC's 'Waterfalls'.
VIRALS DETAILS EP
THE KILLERS RESCHEDULE MANCHESTER SHOWS
Both Manchester gigs have now been rescheduled for 17 and 18 Feb, with original tickets still valid. How nice. The band also announced this week that they will play Wembley Stadium on 22 Jun next year.
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RUNRIG TO PLAY 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT
Announcing the show, the band said: "This is an amazing anniversary to have reached. It's such a significant milestone and little did we think as young lads back in 1973 that we would still be performing our music right into the new millennium and beyond. We want to thank the loyal fans who have been with us from the beginning and those who have come on board at various points of the journey. This will be one of the biggest events we will ever have staged".
PATRICK WOLF TO TOUR IN 2013
Says he: "I am so happy to take this ever evolving show into 2013, this feels like an adventure, not a tour!"
But it is a tour, Patrick, and it looks like this:
4 Feb: Oxford, St John Evangelist
DINOSAUR JR SET JANUARY DATES
Dates as follows:
30 Jan: Glasgow, Arches
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Walton-On-Trent, South Derbyshire, 8-11 Aug 2013: DevilDriver, Municipal Waste. www.bloodstock.uk.com
HAMMERFEST, Haven, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, North Wales, 14-16 MAR 2013: Killing Joke, Saint Vitus, Angel Witch, Viza, Hark, Serpent Venom, Undersmile, Dyscarnate, Bloodshot Dawn, Bull Riff Stampede, Monument, Making Monsters, Goddam Electric, The Idol Dead, Arthemis, Attica Rage, Sansara, Deadman Sugar, and Fire in the Empire. www.hammerfest.co.uk
HIDEOUT, Zrce Beach, Pah Croatia, 3-5 Jul 2013: Loco Dice, Chase & Status DJs, Jamie Jones, Modeselektor, Pendulum DJs, Andy C, Ben UFO, Camo & Krooked, Cassy, Claude Von Stroke, Damian Lazarus, David Rodigan, Dixon, Dyed Soundorom, Eats Everything, Erol Alkan, Friction, Heidi, Jackmaster, John Talabot, Joy Orbison, Justin Martin, Mosca, Pearson Sound, Scuba, Shy FX, Subb-an, B Traits, Delta Heavy, Dismantle, Dusky, Huxley, Martin Buttrich, Maxxi Soundsystem, Midland, Miguel Campbell, Loadstar, Monsta , Oneman, Pangaea, Ralph Lawson, Richy Ahmed, Robert James, Toddla T, Adam Shelton, Alexis Raphael, Ben Pearce, Doorly, Francesca Lombardo, Hector, Kill Frenzy, Robert Dietz, Ryan Elliot, Will Saul, Death On The Balcony, Last Magpie, Mak, Matt Long, Mike Jones, North Base, People Get Real, Steppa, The Sonic Emporium. www.hideoutfestival.com
RIVER ISLAND SELLING RIHANNA ALBUM AND T-SHIRTS
It's alright though, they've thought of that. The retailer will be making available an exclusive remix of recent single 'Diamonds' via its website, selling the new album on CD in some of its stores, and has knocked up some Rihanna t-shirts that you'll be able to buy for 20 quid. Awesome.
More info and stuff here.
[PIAS] ANNOUNCES NEW STRUCTURE
Announcing the structural revamp, Schröter told CMU: "Both Peter and Adrian have been tremendously important in building [PIAS] into the great independent music group and all-encompassing home for artists and labels it is today. Peter taking over the reins of our record company in the UK as our recently re-launched Play It Again Sam label enters its fourth decade, has taken a long time to finally happen! Together with his peers and label bosses we are privileged to work with, Pete has played a vital role in the success story of independent music and is the perfect person to lead our record company to new heights".
He added: "Adrian has been instrumental in expanding our range of services and establishing [PIAS] as the premier global digital distribution company. We are very conscious that whilst we are developing our services, systems and network on an increasingly global basis, we also need to keep the focus on building our local territory businesses so we can fulfil the unique needs of our diverse client base and each local market. The new Artist & Label Services division under Adrian's leadership will assure that we consistently provide the best in class Sales & Distribution based services whilst also developing new business models and revenue streams on a global, pan-European and/or territory by territory basis".
FUELED BY RAMEN GM TO HEAD UP ROADRUNNER TOO
It is thought that moving forward Fueled By Ramen and Roadrunner will sit side by side within Warner under Easterlin, who has the job title GM for both labels, though each will have their own A&R and marketing teams. That said, Nachsin's departure was accompanied by nine back office redundancies at Roadrunner, according to Billboard.
As previously reported, Nachsin's departure from Roadrunner follows the exiting earlier this year of founder Cees Wessels and a downsizing of the imprint's non-US operations.
ARTISTS CALL ON PANDORA TO STOP LOBBYING FOR ROYALTY RATE CUTS
As previously reported, while American FM radio stations do not have to pay any royalties to the record labels and recording artists, satellite and internet radio services do, usually via the statutory rights body SoundExchange. But the way sound recording royalty rates are set for satellite and internet services differs, in a way that, most reckon, means satellite broadcasters get a better deal.
Pandora, therefore, has been busy lobbying with the likes of Clear Channel, which now operates online music service iHeartRadio, for a change to the laws that govern US sound recording royalties, via a thing called the Internet Radio Fairness Act, to bring satellite and internet services in line with each other. Such a move should cut Pandora's royalty obligations to the labels.
But, while Pandora claims that it is just looking for a fairer deal compared to its competitors (actually, given FM radio is still currently royalty-free on the recordings side, things are still stacked against the digital firm), many in the label and artist community have hit out at the Internet Radio Fairness Act, arguing that Pandora has built a business worth $1.2 billion (by current market cap) using the music industry's content, and is now trying to share less of its revenue with the music community. Of course you could argue the $1.2 billion valuation is way over the top, though Pandora management themselves cannot say such a thing (though they might confidentially point out that, as it is, the company has lost half its market cap valuation in the last year).
But whatever, in an open letter organised by musicFirst and SoundExchange, and signed by a plethora of artists, music types criticise Pandora's royalty moves. The letter reads: "We are big fans of Pandora. That's why we helped give the company a discount on rates for the past decade. Pandora is now enjoying phenomenal success as a Wall Street company and skyrocketing growth in revenues and users. We celebrate that".
It adds: "At the same time, the music community is just now beginning to gain its footing in the new digital world. Pandora's principal asset is the music. Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That's not fair, and that's not how partners work together. Congress has many pressing issues to consider, but this is not one of them. Let's work this out as partners and continue to bring fans the great musical experience they rightly expect".
The letter doesn't reference Pandora's separate efforts to cut the royalties it has to pay to songwriters and music publishers by suing collecting society ASCAP. The streaming firm, caught between nervous shareholders and increasingly tetchy artists and rights owners, is yet to respond to the letter.
The signatories list in full: Bryan Adams, Alabama, Greg Allman, Steve Angello, Rodney Atkins, Sara Bareilles, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Clint Black, Jack Blades, Blondie, Jonatha Brooke, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett, Oteil Burbridge, The Cab, Colbie Caillat, Camper Van Beethoven, CoCo Carmel, George Clinton, Keyshia Cole, Common, Easton Corbin, Cowboy Mouth, Cracker, Randy Crawford, Robert Cray, David Crosby, Joel Crouse, Sheryl Crow, Drew Davis, Taylor Dayne, Dead Kennedys, Raheem DeVaughn, The Doors, Down, The Dream, Vikter Duplaix, Missy Elliott, Lupe Fiasco, The 5th Dimension, Flyleaf, John Fogerty, Guy Forsyth, The Game, Vince Gill, David Gilmour, Genevieve Goings, Martha Reeves, Rihanna, Eric Roberson, Darius Rucker, Rush, Bobby Rush, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, Skid Row, Michael W Smith, Britney Spears, Dave Stewart, Survivor, T.I., Susan Tedeschi, Robin Thicke, George Thorogood, Toto, Butch Trucks, Derek Trucks, Josh Turner, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio (The 4 Seasons), Dionne Warwick, Roger Waters, Bobby Whitlock, Whodini, Chuck Wicks, Otis Williams (The Temptations), Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart), BrianWilson, BeBeWinans, Zac Brown Band, Andy Grammer, Amy Grant, CeeLo Green, Gyptian, Warren Haynes, Don Henley, Hootie And The Blowfish, Mallary Hope, Bruce Hornsby, Mick Hucknall (Simply Red), The J.Geils Band, Jaimoe, The Jazz Crusaders, Billy Joel, John Paul Jones, Mick Jones (Foreigner), Journey, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill (Simple Minds), KISS, Jana Kramer, Ludacris, Maroon 5, Nick Mason, Duff McKagan, Megadeth, Janelle Monae, Alissa Moreno, Jason Mraz, Nas, Graham Nash, Ne-Yo, Stevie Nicks, Night Ranger, Ted Nugent, Owl City, Christina Perri, Katy Perry, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, John Pointer, The Pointer Sisters, Primus, Marc Quinones, Joel Rafael, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Raitt.
SPOTIFY LAUNCHES BROWSER-BASED PLAYER IN BETA
As such, it's thought that the new browser-based player is intended to provide users with alternative access to the streaming service's catalogue when using a third-party computer, rather than as a complete replacement for the existing bespoke player. However, some consumers don't like having to install software, so it may also serve to increase the company's userbase further.
It is possible to access the new player in some territories now via this link.
NIALL HORAN MOST POPULAR AMONGST ONE DIRECTION DOLL BUYERS
Anyway, Niall Horan is now the 1Der of choice, and we know this with 100% certainty because of the sales on Amazon of the One Direction dolls this year. Whereas the Harry doll was by far the most popular last year, accounting for 35.5% of all 1D doll sales on the etail website, he now comes in third place, accounting for 20.4% of sales, behind Niall with 25.2% and Louis Timlinson with 21.3%. Poor old Liam Payne, though, has had the least well selling doll both this year and last. Perhaps those 1D fans who prefer a bit of Payne are too old to be playing with dolls.
Of course if Styles is feeling stressed about this turn of events, he could try convincing himself that the change has only occurred because the Horan doll is so generic looking, it could also double up as a figurine of Justin Bieber or Cody Simpson or any other youngish blondish male teen star, making it the perfect gift for a fickle teenage pop fan. I mean, all the One Direction dolls are god-awful, but at least the brown splodge on top of the Styles doll makes it at least a bit similar to the famously curly haired 1D boy.