HMV SELLS MAMA GROUP
The live music and management company became a division of HMV in 2010 as part of the flagging retailer's then strategy of diversifying its brand away from high street retail. However, as the wider HMV Group began to run into financial problems, that strategy ran aground, and the retailer never seemed to capitalise on its new interests in the artist management and live sectors. Instead, in late 2011 the retail firm let it be known it had begun a 'strategic review' of its live division, which basically meant it was planning a sale.
MAMA's biggest single asset, the Hammersmith Apollo, was sold to a joint venture between AEG and Eventim in May. Since then it's seemed most likely that the rest of the business - incorporating a network of smaller venues, a number of festivals, the Mean Fiddler tour promotion business and some other music and media assets - would be bought by a consortium led by MAMA's existing CEO Dean James.
He confirmed that LDC was his backer yesterday morning, shortly after HMV confirmed it had sold most of the rest of its live division to an LDC-owned company called Juno Newco Ltd (MAMA's interests in the GAY and Heaven ventures will be sold off separately). Saying he was pleased that his company had finally "untangled" itself from HMV, James pledged to initiate a new period of growth at the firm, particularly beyond the UK, and to rebuild the MAMA artist management division, which was wound down earlier this year when the managers affiliated to the company departed as a result of the insecurity created by HMV's "strategic review".
James told CMU: "To say I am pleased that MAMA has been able to partner with LDC seems inadequate. MAMA has for some time been one of the leading live music companies in the UK and with LDC we will develop our venue and festival business to consolidate our position in this market, and will look to expand into Asia and America. We will build on our recent additions to the promotions team and will also re-establish MAMA's artist services business - MAMA's distribution assets, The Fly, venue estate, festivals and our tech platform, make it the perfect partner for any artist wishing to build and engage with its fanbase".
He added: "Over the past three years we have been able to open venues as well loved as The Ritz in Manchester, create festivals as wonderful as Wilderness with our partners Secret Garden Party, establish The Fly as the number one music magazine in the UK and make our brand partnership business one of the best in the market. With LDC's help and support we will build on all these existing achievements to establish MAMA as the best live music business in the world. Untangling ourselves from HMV has been a long and difficult process but one that has been handled with extraordinary grace and patience by all involved. I would like to thank Simon Fox and all at HMV, Tim Farazmand, Alistair Pendleton and Richard Barley from LDC for their skill in negotiating this deal and last but not least the extraordinary management team, employees and business partners of MAMA for their loyalty and support over the past eighteen months, this would not have happened without you".
Confirming his backing for MAMA, LDC's Investment Director Alistair Pendleton told CMU: "Live music is a growing and increasingly important sector of the UK economy and in supporting the MBO of MAMA Group we believe we are backing the best management team and the most recognised, successful brand in the business. MAMA Group is renowned for its iconic venues, where some of the world's most successful music artists have performed, and hugely popular music festivals, both in the UK and overseas, which have attracted strong followings and showcased some excellent new artists. Management have an exciting buy-and-build strategy and LDC has the resources, skills and track record to help them accelerate their plans and develop the Group into a globally-recognised business and brand".
James's bid to re-expand the MAMA business has already begun, of course, with the announcement in October that the business had taken a stake in the All Tomorrow's Parties company, while last month it was confirmed MAMA was involved in the relaunch of Liverpool's The Masque venue.
The end of HMV Live means the struggling entertainment retailer's future is now pretty much exclusively based around the HMV store network and mail-order website (and a stake in 7Digital). While HMV management remain confident that the sale of gadgets in its high street stores can ensure a long-term future for the company as CD, DVD and physical game sales decline to nothing, the general doom and gloom that hangs over high street retail at large makes many commentators less optimistic now the 'expand-the-brand' experiment is over.
PIRATE BAY BLOCKS KNOCK OUT NEW LEGIT SISTER SITE THE PROMO BAY
The Promo Bay is a new spin-off site that takes a promotion originally launched by The Pirate Bay earlier this year and makes it into its own platform. Under the original scheme independent artists, film-makers and creators were encouraged to submit their work, with the best being featured on the home page of the controversial file-sharing platform, giving those creators exposure to the site's large daily audience.
The Promo Bay, as a standalone site, will expand the opportunities available to promote the work of participating artists, though presumably reduce the number of people exposed to their work somewhat, the majority of TPB users looking for content by mainstream rather than new acts, so unlikely to go digging for the new stuff.
But, either way, unlike The Pirate Bay, which was deemed liable for copyright infringement in the English courts earlier this year because the majority of the content files it links to are unlicensed, The Promo Bay, by definition, hosts content with the blessing of whoever owns the copyright in it, the copyright owner having originally submitted it.
But Virgin Media, one of the ISPs blocking the new promo site, told Tech Radar that The Promo Bay URLs were included in the court injunction that forces it to block The Pirate Bay, an injunction based on legal proceedings pursued by record label trade body the BPI. This has led some of those who oppose the concept of web-blocking on copyright grounds to say this proves the problem with the URL block system, that it might be misused by rights owners - deliberately or otherwise - to stop consumers from accessing websites which are, in fact, operating legitimately.
Loz Kaye of the UK Pirate Party told Tech Radar: "This is exactly what we warned would happen. We hope it's a mistake, and we hope it will be rectified as soon as possible, but it really illustrates the dangers of web-blocking. This censorship [ie the original web-blocks] was justified by protecting artists and preventing copyright infringement, and it is now being used in ways that are directly harmful to independent artists. It's time to put a stop to this. We cannot have private companies in charge of censoring the internet for their own ends".
Meanwhile Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group added: "Blocking of legitimate websites is unacceptable. The wide blocking order that the courts granted against The Pirate Bay made it likely that this could happen".
To be fair, the promobay.org and promobay.com domains were registered in January when The Pirate Bay first launched its new talent promotion, and it's highly likely that - when the BPI pursued its web-block litigation earlier this year - that those URLs were pointing to the main TPB site, hence their inclusion on the block list.
It seems likely that, once aware that those domains are now being used for a legitimate service, that those ISPs blocking The Promo Bay will remove the blockades (indeed, there were reports that O2's Be Broadband was blocking the promo site at the weekend, and as of this morning it is not). Though whether, technically, the web-block injunction will also need to be amended in court isn't clear.
If so, that perhaps backs the opposite argument to that of Kaye and Killock, that a more formal web-blocking system should have been put in place by the Digital Economy Act, providing a more flexible framework (albeit one with a judicial element) for deciding when there is a case for blocking a website on copyright grounds, and to react if and when circumstances change.
A web-blocking framework was including in a late draft of the DEA (and technically is still in there, but with a 'wait-and-see-before-we-do-this' clause rendering it redundant), but parliament decided to prioritise yet-to-launch three-strikes instead, meaning the BPI's TPB blocking injunction was achieved under existing copyright law through the courts.
RIGHTS INDUSTRIES PRE-EMPT FAIR USE REPORT WITH 'LICENSING UK'
Much of the review of copyright led by Ian Hargreaves focused on so called fair use provisions (or fair dealing to use the English law term), ie statutory exemptions that allow users, in certain circumstances, to copy or perform a copyright work without the permission of the rights owner.
The UK copyright system has less such provisions than in many other jurisdictions, and Hargreaves recommended introducing more fair use exemptions into British copyright law. A consultation on those proposals took place earlier this year, and the Intellectual Property Office is expected to publish a report on the matter later this month, which will likely lead to legislation altering copyright law.
Pre-empting that report, the rights industries are making their own alternative proposals under the title 'Licensing UK', which will likely suggest that rather than creating new exemptions when the public can use copyright works without permission (and therefore without paying any royalty), the rights industries could set up a quick, simple and cost effective licensing framework, which would likewise make it easier for people to make use of works in certain scenarios, while still giving the rights owner an element of control, and certainly a right to recompense.
More information about the proposals, which are being shared with the IPO and the Secretary Of State For Business, Innovation & Skills, Vince Cable, today, will be posted online by PRS For Music at www.prsformusic.com/licensingUK
UK FESTIVAL AWARDS PRESENTED
Best Major Festival: Bestival
The Greener Festival Award: Croissant Neuf Summer Party
Agency Of The Year: William Morris
Headline Performance Of The Year: New Order at Festival No 6
Lifetime Achievement Award: John Probyn
DAS RACIST SPLIT, MONEYMAKING SCHEME FOILED
The group had been booked to play the On3 festival in Germany, but only one member, Heems, arrived for the performance. Organisers were told that the other two members, Kool AD and Dapwell, had missed their flights, but when he took to the stage, Heems told the audience: "You guys wanna know the secret? OK, so, I'm gonna do some Das Racist songs, but Das Racist is breaking up and we're not a band any more".
Kool AD then tweeted: "For the record, I quit Das Racist two months ago and was asked by our manager not to announce it yet. Apparently [Heems] wanted to do it though".
Dapwell, meanwhile, spoke to Spin, expressing frustration at his group splitting so soon, because being in Das Racist was an easy way to make cash, and he'd thought the plan was to make a little more money from it all before properly calling it a day. He said: "I was bummed when we actually broke up, mostly because it [the group] was a way to make money really easily. Now, I probably won't be able to make money that easily ever again. We had a plan to break up around [next] May. We had just signed this record deal and we were going to put out one proper album and then go on a farewell tour, release a proper breaking up statement that could have been really funny, maybe a weird, stupid video. Now, all of that has gone to shit".
Explaining what led to the split, he rambled on: "When we started in 2009, 2010, there wasn't a New York rap scene. All that shit wasn't around. And now there is all of this stuff that, when I see it, I'm like, 'Man, that looks like more fun than what I'm doing'. But we kinda checked out and it was just about money, which some people can do, but apparently, we're not good at doing things we don't want to do any more. It made everyone go crazy and get angry in such typical band fashion: guys arguing and then drinking. It's just stupid. Because in the beginning, it was just us. We'd all hang out all the time, we all lived in this apartment together. Not that we were super friends, but sort of, you know? Really, it's a huge opportunity squandered".
4AD RE-IMAGINING GRIMES' VISIONS AS TWO DISC LP
Available over Christmas-time only, Rough Trade's bonus disc will feature the 'Visions'-era tracks 'Ambrosia' and 'Christmas Song', Majikal Cloudz duet 'Song For Ric' and remixes of original LP tracks 'Be A Body' and 'Genesis'. Resident, meanwhile, will sell a special edition featuring 'Angel', 'Life After Death' and remixes of 'Oblivion' and 'Be A Body'.
Details via this 4AD info page.
MAYA JANE COLES TO SELF-RELEASE EP VIA NEW LABEL
Hear 'Easier To Hide' now on Fact.
REBEKAH DELGADO ANNOUNCES DEBUT ALBUM
Preceding it is the 'Ménage À Moi' EP, which was released in October, featuring a title track written with Rob Davis (co-writer of Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head').
MARVIN GAYE'S SON CALLS NEW BIOPIC "SHAMEFUL"
Gaye Snr's former wife Janis Hunter has already said that she is "very sceptical" about the film, which will focus on a problematic and non-prolific time in Gaye's life, and subsequent fatal shooting by his own father. His son, however, seems more angry about the movie venture.
Gaye III told TMZ: "The producers and directors of this film are very wrong and shameful ... [They're] trying to do a film about a low period in his life. They don't even know the whole story".
He added that he and Kravitz went to school together and remain friends, adding: "I would hope he doesn't [currently] have any idea that we are against this film being done".
SUEDE TO PLAY AT ALLY PALLY, RELEASE NEW LP
Essentially, the band will play a singular date at London's Alexandra Palace on 30 Mar, after which - aka in spring 2013 - they'll release the LP they first alluded to back in September.
As of 7 Dec, tickets to the Ally Pally show will be advance-bookable via www.suede.com
MYLENE KLASS, GUY GARVEY ADDED TO SAVE THE CHILDREN'S CHRISTMAS TREE SESSIONS
It's all going on at London's Union Chapel on 14 Dec, so RSVP now.
BLONDIE, THE SCRIPT TO TOUR FORESTS
The Blondie dates, all of which will also feature The Lightning Seeds, are:
4 Jun: Nottinghamshire, Sherwood Pines
ORA TO TOUR-A
28 Jan: Manchester, Academy
FESTIVAL LINE-UP ADDITIONS
Also new in the realm of artist additions to festivals are the likes of Blondie, The Maccabees, Bloc Party, Ellie Goulding and Jake Bugg, who'll all be playing at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 2013. The Berlin-based CTM, meanwhile, makes its presence felt via new consignments Dean Blunt, Simian Mobile Disco, Pantha du Prince, Holly Herndon and Skream. Oh, and American nu-metallers Coal Chamber are going to be at Download, so that's nice.
And now, if you like, look at an extended version of everything I just said:
CTM, various venues, Berlin, Germany, 28 Jan - 3 Feb 2013: ︻╦╤─ ƱZ ─╤╦︻, Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory, Material Object, AtomTM & Marc Behrens, Simian Mobile Disco, Skream feat Sgt Pokes, Xiu Xiu & Eugene S Robinson, Dean Blunt, Terre Thaemlitz, Demdike Stare, d'Eon, Holly Herndon, Forest Swords, Set Mosaic, Ghédalia Tazartès, Pete Swanson, People Like Us, Boris Hegenbart, Gatekeeper, EAN, Necro Deathmort, Sun Worship, xorzyzt, BlackBlackGold, Tom Ass, reliq, Wife, Lucas Abela. www.ctm-festival.de
DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, Leicestershire, 14-16 Jun 2013: Coal Chamber. www.downloadfestival.co.uk
ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle Of Wight, 13-16 Jun 2013: Blondie, Bloc Party, The Maccabees, Ellie Goulding, Fun., The Script, Paloma Faith, Republica, Bonnie Raitt, Jake Bugg, The Farm, Imperial Teen. www.isleofwightfestival.com
T IN THE PARK, Balado, Kinross-shire, Scotland, 12-14 Jul 2013: Rihanna, Mumford & Sons, The Script, Alt-J, Paloma Faith, Jake Bugg, Of Monsters And Men. www.tinthepark.com
MURDOCH SHUTS IPAD-ONLY NEWSPAPER
Rupert Murdoch's iPad-based The Daily launched in the US in February 2011, and became available via Apple's App Store in the UK the following September. Having lost in the region of $30 million a year, and having signed up only about 100,000 subscribers in that time, Murdoch said this week: "From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation. Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term. [But] we will take the very best of what we have learned at The Daily and apply it to all our properties".
The shutdown of the iPad magazine comes as Murdoch reorganises his media empire, with the newspaper and book publishing business spinning-off from the more lucrative film and TV entity. The former will keep the News Corporation name, while the latter will be renamed under the Fox brand.
PAUL MCCARTNEY TO APPEAR IN FINAL PRINT EDITION OF THE DANDY
He wrote in his letter: "I feel a little sadness that I see its final issue is appearing in December. In 1963, in the NME, when asked what my personal ambition was, I replied: 'To have my picture in The Dandy!' I hope it's not too late!"
Seemingly it was not, the print edition's editor Craig Graham saying: "When the decision was taken to stop printing The Dandy and take it online earlier this year, it really was a case of now or never. Sir Paul wrote a lovely letter to us, wishing The Dandy well and hoping it wasn't too late to make an appearance. How could we refuse?"
And so, it shall come to pass that McCartney will not only appear in the publication shaking hands with Desperate Dan, but he'll also lead the magazine's cast of characters in a 'singalong' of 'Hey Jude', which should ensure that a) children reading the final Dandy comic will be confused, and b) it'll be about 132 pages longer than usual.