RECORD COMPANIES AND DVD FIRMS BACKING HMV TO TUNE OF £40 MILLION IN KEY CHRISTMAS QUARTER
HMV, which sold off the rest of its live music division (more or less) to a management buy out backed by Lloyds Development Capital earlier this month, is set to publish interim results and an update on Christmas trading to the City tomorrow.
In September the retail firm, whose business is now very much focused on its high street stores (and a 50% stake in 7Digital), revealed that sales were down almost 12% in the first half of the year, but management said that they hoped a number of major music, DVD and gaming releases, coupled with the usual pre-Christmas rush, would help lessen the woes. To what extent that has happened could become clear tomorrow.
While the gaming sector seems to have accepted that its presence on the high street is already on borrowed time, with key publishers focusing on expanding their online sales, both the record and DVD industries, which rely more on casual customers and impulse purchases on the high street, are doing all they can to ensure that the UK's last big specialist entertainment retailer doesn't go the way of its former rivals Virgin Megastore/Zavvi and Woolworths.
To that end, and under the new supplier agreements struck in January, its thought that HMV has had access to large quantities of stock, including back catalogue, on 'consignment', so on a sale-or-return basis with little upfront cost on the retail firm's part.
It's logical to assume the retailer has made maximum use of this facility in the current pre-Christmas quarter, which is key, of course, both in terms of generating revenue and profit for the debt-laden retail firm, and in keeping money-lenders and investors on side.
While the Telegraph cites industry sources as estimating that the value of the music and movie industry's support for HMV is currently worth £40 million, the retail company itself declined to comment on its supplier relationships.
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE RESPONDS TO LAMB OF GOD MANSLAUGHTER CASE
As previously reported, Blythe stands accused of causing the death of a fan at a show in Prague in 2010. He was arrested when the band returned to the country this summer and held in custody for five weeks. Upon being released on bail, he returned to the US but vowed to go back to the Czech Republic to face trial if and when he was called to do so. The case was formally submitted to court by prosecutors last week.
The US government statement is actually a reaction to a petition, launched while Blythe was still in custody, calling on the Department Of State to help to free him. However, it responds to the ongoing case.
Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael Posner wrote: "Mr Blythe has publicly stated his intention to return to the Czech Republic to face trial for the alleged manslaughter of a Czech man at a concert in 2010. He recently told MTV: "It's the correct thing for me to do ... this poor young man's family deserves some answers. Pending Mr Blythe's trial, we cannot discuss the details of his case, [but] we are closely monitoring the progress of his trial".
He added that the US expects "that the Czech government will make all efforts to ensure a fair, transparent, and timely trial for Mr Blythe, and guarantee full protection of his legal rights under Czech law and his welfare".
LADY GAGA ALSO FALLS FOUL OF ST PETERSBURG 'GAY PROPAGANDA' LAW
Yes, following that lawsuit pursued (albeit ultimately unsuccessfully) against Madonna after she played in the Russian city in August, in which it was claimed that Madge broke a newish St Petersburg law that bans 'gay propaganda' in the presence of children, now Lady Gaga is facing legal action (and possibly criminal prosecution) for allegedly breaking the same rules.
Gaga is being pursued by Vitaly Milonov, a political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and member of the ruling United Russia party in the St Petersburg Assembly. Milonov played a crucial role in creating the law that bans people from speaking sympathetically of gay rights issues in front of minors.
According to Reuters, Milonov has taken issue with remarks made by Gaga at a gig in his city last weekend. He's quoted as saying, "We saw that in addition to music, songs and such, there were direct calls for twelve year old citizens to support the LGBT community". The political man added that he intends to file a complaint with prosecutors over the singer's actions.
According to local media reports, Gaga spoke out in support of the Russian gay community in the context of the ban, telling her audience that her managers had been warned that she could be arrested or fined $50,000 if she spoke out in support of gay rights at the concert.
The civil lawsuit against Madonna, pursued by anti-gay campaigners, was initially allowed to proceed to court at the start of last month, but the case was dismissed a couple of weeks later, mainly because the concert where the singer allegedly broke 'gay propaganda' rules was an 18+ event, meaning that in theory no minors should have been present when Madonna was promoting gay rights.
RAVI SHANKAR 1920-2012
In a statement, his wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka said: "His health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away".
They added: "Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives. His spirit and his legacy will live on forever in our hearts and in his music".
Born Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury in 1920 in the Indian city of Varanasi, Shankar was the first Indian musician to become a household name in the West, when he was embraced by 1960s counterculture. However, his musical career began as a child when, in 1930, his family moved to Paris and he started performing with a group led by his eldest brother Uday.
He later moved back to his home country, studying as a music guru for seven years, and in the mid-1940s, having grown in reputation as a performer and composer, he signed to HMV India as a recording artist. It was in 1955 that he first came to wider international attention, through his soundtrack to the Satyajit Ray directed film 'The Apu Trilogy'.
This led to tours of Europe and the US, and to a record deal in the States to Pacific Jazz Records subsidiary World Pacific Records. While recording in LA, he came to the attention of The Byrds, who were working in the same studio complex, and who incorporated influences from what they heard into their own music. They also introduced Shankar's work to George Harrison, who became a great fan and later a student of the sitar player.
Harrison and Shankar first met in London in 1966, and The Beatle studied sitar with him in India for six weeks, during which time Howard Worth's documentary 'Raga' was also filmed. The association with Harrison boosted Shankar's fame incredibly, leading to performances at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals. However, dismayed at the superficial way Indian culture was often portrayed by the hippy movement, Shankar later distanced himself from it. Nonetheless, he retained a strong international following and worked on several more projects with Harrison in his lifetime.
Shankar continued to write and perform up until his death, despite his declining health. His final show took place in California last month, with his daughter (and regular accompanist) Anoushka.
He is survived by his wife Sukanya and daughter Anoushka, and his other daughter from a previous relationship, the singer-songwriter Norah Jones.
DONNA SUMMER LEADS LATEST HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES LIST
Also due to be inducted this time round are Rush, Public Enemy, Albert King, Heart and Randy Newman, while producer Quincy Jones and impresario Lou Adler will together receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for behind-the-scenes music business talent.
Announcing the final list of 2013 inductees, Joel Peresman, President of the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation, told reporters: "This year's class of inductees again represents the broad, compelling and significant definition of rock and roll".
MPG AWARDS SHORTLISTS ANNOUNCED, GEORGE MARTIN TO RECEIVE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
MPG chairman Steve Levine told CMU: "The Outstanding Contribution Award acknowledges those who have made a significant contribution over a long period of time to the success of the UK music recording industry, so we are thrilled that Sir George Martin has agreed to accept the Music Producers Guild's highest honour. Many record producers around the world owe George a huge debt of gratitude, not just for his inspired production techniques, but also for his efforts to ensure that all producers rightfully receive a royalty for their work".
He added: "An MPG Award is highly sought-after by recording professionals because it represents an endorsement by your peers. Whilst anyone can nominate, only full members of the MPG are allowed to vote for the shortlist and therefore the results are relevant to the creative value of our industry. Those who win an MPG Award are recognised to be at the top of their game as a recording professional".
The awards ceremony will take place at the Café de Paris in London on 7 Feb 2013.
Here are the shortlists in full:
Recording Engineer Of The Year: Haydn Bendall, Guy Massey, Al O'Connell
Breakthrough Producer Of The Year: Charlie Andrew, Bruno Ellingham and Tim Goldsworthy, Jake Gosling
International Producer Of The Year: Danger Mouse (Brian Burton), Max Martin, Jack White
Live Production Of The Year: Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2011, Bon Iver at Air Studios, The Olympics - Opening Ceremony
Studio Of The Year: Black Wookie Studios, RAK Studios, Snap! Studios, Sphere Studios
The A&R Award: Darcus Beese (Universal Island), Korda Marshall (Infectious Music), Richard Russell (XL Recordings)
The Unsung Hero Award: Mark Thompson (Funky Junk/Snap Studios), Sarah Liversedge (The Movement/BDI), Rebecca de la Porta & Paul Walmsley (Polydor/Fiction)
The Outstanding Contribution To UK Music Award: George Martin
DEPECHE MODE SIGN TO SONY/COLUMBIA
As previously reported, EMI kept Depeche Mode's catalogue when Mute Records became independent again in 2010. However, the label seemingly only wanted the band's older material and their contract was not renewed after the release of 2011 remix collection 'Remixes 2' completed their existing commitments to the major. The band forged ahead with recording the new album regardless, and in October premiered some new music alongside the announcement of a 2013 world tour.
The announcement of their deal with Sony comes just a few weeks after Depeche Mode signed with William Morris Endeavor to represent their live activity.
LAURA MVULA ANNOUNCES DEBUT ALBUM
Meanwhile, you can catch her live at the George IV in Chiswick tonight, or it that's a bit of a trek, take a listen to the album's Beach Boys-esque opening track, 'Like The Morning Dew', right now.
The tracklist for the album is as follows:
Like The Morning Dew
MARNIE STERN UNVEILS NEW LP, CHRONICLES OF MARNIA
Speaking to Spin, Stern says: "I usually like to bury everything in a lot of noise and this is much cleaner. The tapping parts, to me, sound muted, the drum parts are subdued, and the voice is so... clear?"
'The Chronicles Of Marnia' isn't set for release until 18 Mar 2013, but in the meantime one of its tracks, 'Year Of The Glad', is free to preview, and so is the CMU playlist Marnie compiled all the way back in 2011.
SUFJAN STEVENS SHARES CHRISTMAS RAP MIX
ICEAGE NAME NEW LP
RICK ROSS ADDRESSES GANG THREAT GIG CANCELLATION CLAIMS
As previously reported, Ross subsequently cancelled all the remaining dates of his current US tour, citing "apparent lack of organisation and communication on the part of the tour promoter". Despite this, those rumours about the gang threats have continued to circulate.
Speaking about the tour in an interview with Miami radio station 99 Jamz, the rapper said that his latest live trek had originally been due to end on 5 Dec, but that extra dates were subsequently added organised by a different promoter. But he had become concerned about that second promoter's abilities, especially after a show in Tuson, Arizona was cancelled just hours before Ross and his entourage were due to arrive at the venue.
He explained: "The other day I woke up and realised two more dates had been cancelled, so I just felt like that was some power that I needed to take away from [the promoter], so I cancelled the rest of the dates that I had arranged with him ... The tour was [originally scheduled] from 2 Nov to 5 Dec ... but [the new promoter] brought another one-point-something worth of [extra] business to the table, so we added those extra dates, [but] once they began to unravel, I shut it down. Never was it due to any threats".
Expanding on the gang threat rumours, he went on to explain, at length, that he was not afraid of any threats made against him on the internet - the key points being that "gangsters move in silence" and that Ross recently played a show in Chicago, where the Gangster Disciples were founded, and rather than being scared, he went on stage wearing an expensive fur coat. Footage of this, he stressed, is available on YouTube. "And if I go to Chicago to handle my business, like I did", he said, "I have no problem going to North Carolina".
So, there you go. You can watch Ross's (lengthy) protestations in full here.
BEACH HOUSE TO TOUR
This is the video for 'Bloom' component 'Wild', by the way.
HURTS SET EXTRA SHOWS
If you'd like to buy tickets for any/all of the above, they'll go on sale 14 Dec.
THE XX CURATING/CATERING MINI-FESTIVALS
Taking place at Lisbon's Jardim da Torres de Belém (5 May), Berlin's Spreepark (18 May) and at the London-adjacent Osterley Park & House (23 Jun), the three events will presumably feature live sets by various artists, all of whom (bar The xx) are still tbc. But there will definitely be food, because food at a festival is essential. More so than music, really.
Say the band: "We searched high and low for unique and beautiful locations to stage these shows and picked the artists that we most respect and admire to join us. The events will run from early afternoon, with some of our favourite music (and food) to take you from day into night".
Click this link for details, and to access a ticket pre-sale starting tomorrow.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
Also new in the realm of artist additions to rock festivals are Stone Sour, who are now part of next year's Download roster, and thus will compete for decibel-exceeding supremacy with the likes of Bullet For My Valentine, QOTSA, Motorhead and, last but not least, headliners Slipknot, Rammstein and Iron Maiden.
Here's all that again, only this time as an unedited list for easy perusal:
BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Walton-On-Trent, South Derbyshire, 8-11 Aug 2013: Slayer. www.bloodstock.uk.com
DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, Leicestershire, 14-16 Jun 2013: Stone Sour. www.downloadfestival.co.uk
ROB SLATER DEPARTS TESCO
Slater, who is active within the Entertainment Retailers Association and Chairman of the Official Charts Company, oversaw Tesco's music operations in a period when supermarkets became ever more important in the world of entertainment retail as various specialist chains disappeared from the high street, including his former employer Woolworths. Though of late many have noted the amount of shelf space given to CDs by the supermarket firm has declined somewhat.
Confirming his departure to Music Week, Slater said that there was "no great drama" precipitating his exit, and that he had no immediate plans but anticipated returning to a new role in the entertainment market in due course.
CHRIS MOYLES UNLIKELY TO RETURN TO CONVENTIONAL RADIO
Many had expected the presenter to launch a late show on the BBC station after exiting its primetime breakfast slot back in September, basically taking over the spot in the schedule previously occupied by his breakfast show replacement Nick Grimshaw. But then last week it was announced Phil Taggart and Radio 1 newcomer Alice Levine would start a new late show on the station early next year.
According to The Sun, Moyles was offered both a late show and a weekend slot on Radio 1 but has turned both down, having seemingly lost his enthusiasm for radio (not to mention, if the gossipers are to be believed, his long-term partner-in-crime 'Comedy' Dave Vitty, who's said to have fallen out with Moyles over his former colleague's friendship with his ex-wife).
Of course with his recent live show and album projects, which seem to have had a decent uptake, not to mention his 'acting' in the arena tour version of 'Jesus Christ Superstar', Moyles isn't short of things to occupy his time. But he does have plans to return to broadcasting, though, the tabs sources say, most likely via some kind of online/mobile venture.
Says the source: "Radio 1 wanted Chris to do that show but he didn't want to. They hoped they could change his mind as they would like to have at least a fraction of the audience of eight million who tuned in to his breakfast show. [But] he's now unlikely to stay with Radio 1 or indeed with BBC Radio. He is a massive geek and his head is full of ideas about how to broadcast to his fans without using traditional means. It's early days, but it's expected to be a digital proposition for the smartphone generation".
MACCA TO PLAY WITH NIRVANA AT CHARITY SHOW, SAYS THE SUN
According to the tab, Macca ended up playing with the two former Nirvana bandmates after suggesting a jam session to Grohl. Now all three, plus Pat Smear, who toured and played with Nirvana in 1993/4, will play at a special New York charity show tonight in aid of a fund to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. The quartet will play a new song plus some Nirvana tracks, apparently.
According to The Sun, Macca says that he didn't really realise the significance when he found himself playing with Grohl, Novoselic and Smear all at the same time, adding: "I didn't really know who they were. They are saying how good it is to be back together. I said 'Whoa? You guys haven't played together for all that time?' And somebody whispered to me 'That's Nirvana. You're Kurt'. I couldn't believe it".
Whether or not a Nirvana reunion with McCartney playing Cobain is genuinely on the cards remains to be seen. A post about the charity show on the former Beatles' Facebook page is considerably less specific about the event. Also, while the Macca quote implies his jam constituted the first time Grohl, Novoselic and Smear had played together since the mid-1990s, Grohl previously revealed he and his former bandmates had got together and played 'Smells Like Teen' with only a studio manager as an audience last year. Though Grohl did stress at the time that their performance had remained vocal-less.
You can tune in to the benefit concert, to find out what happens, via broadcasts through various sources later tonight. Details here.
PETER HOOK DISCUSSES BEING QUESTIONED DURING YORKSHIRE RIPPER HUNT
Speaking to Xfm, Hook explained: "What happened was that every club we played in was run by a dodgy promoter in some dodgy part of town. We managed to play in the red light districts of Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Manchester and probably London as well. The police had asked the public to note down the license plate numbers of any strange cars in the area, so they could investigate them later. Somehow mine and Steve's cars had gone in the system a couple of times and basically we got picked out!"
He continued: "Steve was very very nervous in those days and when the police questioned him, he lost it. He got taken to the police station and his mum had to come and rescue him. It was very frightening - they basically asked you straight out if you were the Ripper".