NEW MYSPACE BUSINESS PLAN POSSIBLY TOO AMBITIOUS
The MySpace investor pitch summarises Specific Media's web advertising credentials, which are relatively strong, and which are crucial given that the all-new version of the one-time uber-social-network will still rely heavily on ad revenues, despite plans down the line to plug in artist-based merchandise and ticketing services. But while those credentials are undeniable, some have raised concerns about Specific's ambitious projections regarding future growth in user-base, revenues and especially profits.
MySpace wishes to distance itself from newer more successful social media platforms by being about music, while at the same time distancing itself from other music platforms by being more social. But while elements of the slick new MySpace platform look good, Specific is operating in a very competitive market on both the social and music side of things. And even if the new MySpace is successful in terms of attracting users, with streaming music still very much part of the mix, that doesn't necessarily mean an immediately profitable business, given the costs involved with providing music streams.
On one slide in Specific's presentation, the MySpace owner boasts about its advantages in the music space over other streaming music platforms. It also notes that its core music offer pays the lower 'interactive-radio' royalty rate to rights owners akin to Pandora, rather than the higher 'on-demand' royalty rate paid out by Spotify.
Though that ignores the fact that Pandora is constantly moaning that its rates are too high, that neither Pandora nor Spotify have managed to make an ad-funded service on its own add up, and that MySpace is due to renew its licensing deals with the majors, which were originally secured by giving the record companies an equity stake in a spin-off MySpace Music business, and it's not entirely clear if rates moving forward have been completely agreed.
Specific also boasts that, unlike its competitors, its music library includes all the tracks uploaded by unsigned bands over the years, on which it doesn't pay any royalties, claiming that over 50% of listening on the current MySpace is of these royalty-free tracks.
Which it may well be, though that's mainly because the MySpace Music streaming service never really took off in its own right (it being technically inferior to so many newer competitors), and therefore the music players on the profiles of individual artists have always remained a key part of the MySpace mix. But if MySpace really took off as a music destination site, and took music listening away from Spotify, Pandora and YouTube, the signed-to-unsigned ratio would almost certainly tip significantly in the former's direction.
Plus the value of MySpace's unsigned catalogue is falling all the time, given that many bands haven't been using the site for sometime now, meaning a lot of the unsigned music on there dates from a few years back, and a lot of it will be from now defunct bands (it would also be interesting to know how many of the bands featured in MySpace's unsigned catalogue have since signed with a label, meaning that the previously uploaded music still being provided for free should technically have been removed).
Of course if MySpace can again become the site where all bands build a virtual home, and unsigned acts again start uploading new material, that unsigned catalogue may be reinvigorated. And a quick browse of SoundCloud will show you that new bands are still willing to give away their content, certainly as a stream, in order to build audience. Though given that all the services which now enable unsigned bands to get their music into Spotify et al which do pay a royalty (even if it's tiny), perhaps new bands will become less willing to make their songs available totally for free. Especially if MySpace is basically going around telling investors "we'll make you rich by exploiting unsigned artists".
All that said, the new look MySpace remains a surprisingly interesting venture, given that eighteen months ago many people had written off the digital set-up completely, predicting its eventual ascendancy to the big Geocities neighbourhood in the sky. But while the new MySpace technology feels like an ambitious reboot that might just work, the new MySpace business plan feels like an ambitious venture that might just fail.
MCFLY CLOSE TO SIGNING NEW US DEAL
The band's Tom Fletcher told The Daily Star: "They were the first American live shows we'd done in nine years, and all four sold out straight away. But we don't have a record deal there. We wanted to get people down to watch us so they can see how McFly are in their mid-20s. We got a lot of interest from labels. They are waiting to hear the new stuff. It's weird because we don't know how we might fit in over there now. Are we more Maroon 5 or One Direction these days?"
IMAGEM SIGNS MARK RONSON
Confirming the deal, and name checking Imagem's UK MD Kim Frankiewicz and A&R man Michael Morley, Ronson told CMU: "Kim and Michael are two people that I've respected for a long time and they get where I would like to go with my career as a writer and an artist - be it pop, soul, ballet or scoring".
Frankiewicz added: "Mark Ronson is an absolute superstar in every meaning of the word. As an artist he perfectly complements the Imagem ethos - creativity, diversity and above all being a pioneer. Mark's work is seminal and genre busting - from his work with Amy Winehouse, to his solo material, with a ballet along the way. As the home of such an eclectic roster of artists and catalogues, from pop to classical, the Great American Songbook to the musicals, we look forward to giving Mark a blank canvas to support every aspect of his creativity".
CHER LP HALF FINISHED
Tweets the busy 'Believe' chanteuse, a demo version of whose new single 'Womans World' appeared online last month: "Finished about an hour ago! Can't wait to hear mixes! We finished four songs! Have three and a half to go then.... Yeah FINISHED! Bonus tracks too!".
STORNOWAY NAME NEW LP
Rather than share a track from it, Stornoway have instead set themselves a sizeable British tour, whose 25 dates are thus:
8 Feb: Hebden, Bridge Trades Club
COURTNEY LOVE NO LONGER INVOLVED IN COBAIN FILM
Said Morgen: "Back in 2007, I had a meeting in LA with Courtney Love to discuss my possible involvement in a Kurt Cobain documentary. She had seen my film, 'The Kid Stays In The Picture', and thought that I had the right vision and passion to bring Kurt's story to life. Since that time, I have been speaking exclusively with Kurt Cobain's estate, who have given me their full cooperation in order to make the film. Courtney isn't currently involved with the project in any capacity. The estate and I will be releasing more information about our plans in the coming weeks. Production on the film will begin in the coming months and we are aiming for a 2014 release".
MUSE PLAYING STADIUMS
Anyway, if you'd like to go, you have a choice of four dates:
22 May: Coventry, Ricoh Arena
ALICIA KEYS SETS SPRINGTIME DATES
This is what she has to say about it: "I'm so excited to be touring again and it's great to be back in the UK. I'm looking forward to performing and feeling the energy of the crowd - there's nothing like it".
Keys will begin on 18 May at Liverpool's Echo Arena, moving on to other cities as follows:
19 May: Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena
PAUL WELLER TO TOUR FORESTS
This will be the father-of-mod's third time doing the Commission's Forest Tour, he having headlined past concerts in 2004 and 2009.
Recognising this, he says: "It will be good for me to be back in the woods. I really enjoy the unique atmosphere of these gigs, as do the fans".
Tickets and information at www.forestry.gov.uk/music
PETER GABRIEL TO PLAY SO LIVE
As Kate Bush appears on one of the album's singles, 'Don't Give Up', I'd say it's about time to start some Olympics-style speculation about the chances of her turning up to perform her vocals. She might, you know. She really might. She really, really, really... oh who are we kidding?
For diversity's sake, the four 'Back To Front' shows will also feature other favourites from across the PG catalogue.
And those shows are:
21 Oct: London, O2 Arena
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
NOVA ROCK, Pannonia Fields II, Nickelsdorf, Austria, 14-16 Jun: Kings Of Leon, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Bullett For My Valentine, Deichkind, A Day To Remember, Amon Amarth, Five Finger Death Punch, Johnossi. www.novarock.at
MUSIC MATTERS LAUNCHES IN US
It turned out that there was a really simple way for the major labels to convince the wider public that the record industry wasn't staffed by a bunch of money-wasting fat cats who deserved to be ripped off by the file-sharing public - waste a load more money on some pretty but ultimately pointless videos. Including that one about how Blind Willie Johnson died in poverty despite providing the record industry with some of its most important recordings.
And then there was the Music Matters kite-mark to help consumers identify legitimate digital music services, which has been a huge success, even if no one knows what it means, and market leaders iTunes and Spotify don't use it, rendering the whole thing pretty pointless.
Yeah, the Music Matters campaign. OK, so it's unfair to expect one initiative to single-handedly kill, or even significantly wound, the beast that is piracy. And it's good for the music industry to reach out to the public on copyright issues. And education is key in persuading young people to become music consumers when they are surrounded by so much free content. But the Music Matters campaign just never seemed to quite work - perhaps too obviously the result of a major label-led brainstorming session.
But hey, that's not stopped the spread of the initiative around the world. Having been expanded into Australia and New Zealand, Music Matters has now arrived in America. Lucky America. The war against piracy will now surely be won, and we'll be home by Christmas. Good times.
Launching Music Matters in the US, Cary Sherman, the boss of the Recording Industry Association Of America, which is backing the initiative, told reporters: "The music community has transformed how it does business, and the launch of the Why Music Matters site is another great milestone in that evolution. For the first time, in 2011 digital music revenues surpassed those generated from physical sales and that marker was reached because of a breathtaking array of services and platforms embraced by music companies".
He added: "We understand that with so many options for accessing music online, users are eager for more information about which services are legitimate and what kinds of functionality they offer. That's why we're excited to be partnering with NARM and digitalmusic.org to launch whymusicmatters.com, which will hopefully make it easier for fans to access and discover sites that offer their favourite music. We're grateful to our colleagues at [UK record industry trade body] BPI for creating Music Matters in 2010, followed by versions in Australia and New Zealand. We're pleased to be able to expand the brand to the United States".
INGROOVES LAUNCHES MARKETING SERVICES UNIT IN US
The new LA-based unit will be led by Bryan Mead, who was Senior VP Of Marketing at Fontana when it was a Universal division. As previously reported, Fontana was acquired by INgrooves, in which Universal has a stake, back in March.
Confirming the new unit, INgrooves Fontana boss Dave Zierler told reporters: "As more artists release music independently and independent labels look to become more efficient, we see an opportunity to provide our clients with the centralised resources to more effectively develop their projects given the new realities of the marketplace".
COHEN COULD LAUNCH MANAGEMENT FIRM WITH KANYE ON BOARD
According to Hits Daily Double, it's thought that West's current manager Izvor 'Izzy' Zivkovic may be part of Cohen's new venture, and would bring the management of his most famous client with him.
There have been reports that Cohen would launch a talent management and brand partnerships agency ever since his sudden departure from Warner Music in September.
BPI APPOINTS NEW INDIES CHIEF
Confirming the appointment, BPI boss Geoff Taylor told CMU: "This is a pivotal role for the BPI and we are pleased to announce the appointment of Chris, who brings many years of in-depth commercial experience working for and with independent labels. Chris's strong background assisting indie labels with physical and digital distribution will significantly strengthen the services BPI provides to all our independent members".
Tams himself added: "I'm delighted to be joining the BPI, especially at this crucial period in the evolution of the industry. Using my experience of eighteen years working in the indie sector I hope to further increase the voice for independent labels within the industry both in the UK and further afield".
NEW ASIAN MUSIC PUBLISHER ANNOUNCES BUCKS ALLIANCE
AMP MD Mardi told CMU: "We are focused on creating a fair and sustainable eco-system for writers and composers of Asian music around the world. Our number one goal is to generate license and royalty income streams for our writers, creators and copyright owners, including record labels who administer or control music copyrights. We see AMP as a ground-breaking music publisher, helping to redefine the landscape of the Asian music industry".
On the Bucks deal, Mardi continued: "Our relationship with the Bucks Music Group - with wholly-owned offices with direct society memberships in twelve major territories - is part of our strategy to enfranchise and empower Asian artists who struggle to earn their due from the exploitation of their works around the world. AMP is proud to provide a truly global publishing solution for makers and copyright holders of Asian music".
Bucks Music Group MD Simon Platz added: "With changes in Indian copyright law, the partnership between Terry Mardi and his team and the Bucks Music Group, gives South Asian composers the perfect home for their rights. With Bucks's proven administration skills and AMP's hunger for exploitation opportunities, composers will have a service second to none".
AC/DC ARRIVE ON ITUNES... AT LAST
All tracks have also been remastered specifically, hoping to ensure the best possible reproduction of the original recordings in compressed download form.
HEART LONDON LOSES TWO DAYTIME DJS
Confirming the departures, Global's Director Of Broadcasting Richard Park is quoted by Radio Today as saying: "Ten years hosting one of London's biggest breakfast shows is a massive achievement and we'd like to thank Harriet for all her hard work, loyalty and sense of fun. We will miss her enormously at Heart, but we wish her every happiness with her family - not to mention a well earned lie-in! We would also like to thank Neil for his passion and hard work during his time with us and we wish him every success in 2013".
PRESS HYSTERIA ABOARD RIHANNA'S 777 FLIGHT
This video, shot mid-flight as Rihanna's costly 777 express moved between Berlin and London on Sunday night, features a key moment in what's being billed as a 'Lord Of The Flies'-style 'press revolt', with dissatisfied journalists and film crews rebelling against a repetitive itinerary, fatigue and Rihanna's apparent non-presence on the junket.
Defining the general mood on the plane as one of "mild depression-cum-hysteria", Rolling Stone's Jeff Rosenthall writes, "We haven't seen Rihanna off stage since the first day, unless you count her popping up at baggage claim for a few moments on the morning of the second".
Also noting the lack of pop star in the bit of the plane where the journalists are hanging out, MTV News' Joel Hannek suggested to Billboard that "she's building a blanket fort up there", while Robbie Daw - of US pop site Idolator - proposed: "'We should cut her out from the 'Unapologetic' poster and carry her around like Flat Stanley".
Meanwhile, writing for Popjustice, Michael Cragg takes a more balanced approach, summing up the trip yesterday thus: "If Rihanna doesn't want to do something then she won't. If she wants to show up on stage in Stockholm or Berlin two hours late then there's not a lot anyone can do about it ... There are moments of course when you wish someone in her management team or record label would just tell her she has to do something - one of the promised press conferences, perhaps - but at the same time this whole '777 tour turns into anarchy' thing fits perfectly with her rude girl popstar persona. The footage of various members of the media turning feral during last night's flight from Berlin slots into Rihanna's confusing, complicated and sometimes infuriating 'brand values'".