A round up of music and music business events happening in the next seven days...
BRITs nominations. The nominations for this year's BRIT Awards will be announced at The Savoy Hotel in London on Thursday evening. The winners will then be revealed at the annual ceremony on 20 Feb. Except BRIT Critics' Choice winner Tom Odell, of course. He's already been announced. He will receive his award on 20 Feb though. Not like the winner of the UK Producer Of The Year award - Damon Albarn, Paul Epworth or Jake Gosling - who will pick up their Damien Hirst-designed trophy at the MPG Awards on 7 Feb. So impatient, those producers. Elsewhere in BRITs news, BRITs Academy voting for the Best British Single category opens later this week too.
Eurosonic Noorderslag. Most of us are still shaking the new year dust out of our ears, but the music industry conference calendar waits for no one. This Wednesday, the Eurosonic Noorderslag convention and showcase festival will get underway in The Netherlands. A key event for festival bookers in particular, artists from all over Europe will be vying for attention, including seventeen from featured country, Finland.
European Festival Awards. Taking place on the opening night of Eurosonic Noorderslag (that's Wednesday, keep up), the European Festival Awards will hand out gongs to European festivals (the clue's in the name) and artists who played at them.
Metropolis Indie Music Festival. Metropolis Studios in London is giving reduced rate studio time, and access to a team of engineers to independent labels and musicians, for three weeks in January starting today. Artists taking part in the scheme were selected by a team of industry folk based on who it was thought would gain the most benefit from the offer.
New releases. There's not a great deal of new stuff out this week, on the grounds of it being far too early in the year. However, you can get hold of Rolling Stones documentary 'Crossfire Hurricane' (slightly later than originally planned) on Blu-ray and DVD. Also, Warp is releasing the Broadcast-penned soundtrack to 2012 film 'Berberian Sound Studio', a project the band began working on prior to the death of vocalist Trish Keenan in January 2011.
Gigs and tours. You'll not find a whole lot of live music out there this week either, though you will be able to catch a showcase night for the Bigo & Twigetti label at The Vortex in Dalston on Thursday night. Amongst the artists performing on the night are Jim Perkins, Leah Kardos and Upside Down Umbrella.
SONY AND BMG TO CO-BID FOR PARLOPHONE
Sony, of course, merged its recorded music business with the original BMG record company to create SonyBMG in 2004, buying BMG owner Bertelsmann out of the venture four years later, after which the German media firm created the new BMG company. However, this latest alliance between the two music firms will be temporary. Each partner is interested in different aspects of what has been named the Parlophone Label Group since Universal's EMI purchase, so plan to bid together to secure a better price overall, but if successful would then split the company into two, and take half each.
Specifics of the new alliance are not known, and neither Sony nor BMG have as yet commented on the partnership. Just before Christmas, BMG secured ownership of the Mute catalogue owned by EMI, also sold off as part of Universal's regulator agreement.
Although BMG has always been an obvious bidder for most of the EMI assets for sale from the start, the Bertelsmann company has always said it is not interested in owning a conventional record company, and Parlophone's frontline operations are pretty conventional. Therefore, it may well be that Sony Music, now led in the UK by former EMI A&R boss Nick Gatfield, wants the frontline labels while BMG hopes to secure more EMI back catalogue master recordings.
Arguably selling Sony Music even just some of the EMI units for sale would not be in the spirit of the European regulator deal, it being the other mega-major music company, and its sister business Sony/ATV having secured control of the EMI music publishing business. Though Sony would likely argue that allowing it to expand through a Parlophone acquisition would actually be a very effective way to counter the market dominance secured by Universal through its EMI purchase.
Other bidders for Parlophone include the Simon Fuller-led consortium, also backed by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and RIT Capital Partners, as well as Warner Music and investment company MacAndrews & Forbes. All bids are expected to be in within the next two weeks.
LABELS PUSH FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT IN LONG-RUNNING VIMEO CASE
The labels, led by EMI, sued Vimeo in 2009, claiming that the video site infringed their copyrights by allowing users to upload music containing recordings owned by the record companies without licence. But the litigation was delayed pending the outcome of Viacom's lawsuit against YouTube, which would test the copyright obligations of video sharing websites like Vimeo and YouTube under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Vimeo and YouTube, like all sites that allow users to upload content, argue that they operate takedown systems, removing unlicensed content if made aware of it by copyright owners, and thus have 'safe harbour' protections from the DMCA against infringement actions. Many copyright owners, though, argue that web companies have a more general obligation to act if they are aware of widespread infringement on their networks, beyond reacting to takedown requests from copyright owners.
In 2011, the US courts issued a summary judgement in favour of YouTube regards its legal battle with Viacom (which relates to YouTube's management of copyright materials in its early years), thus siding with the web companies over the copyright owners on this issue. But then last June an appeals court revived Viacom v YouTube, and while the lawsuit was passed to a lower court for new consideration, the appeals judges also expressed some opinions regards the obligations of Vimeo-type companies.
And while there is still much debate in legal circles on this topic, the labels' lawyers reckon that comments in the appeal court ruling are sufficient to find Vimeo liable for copyright infringement for the videos it has hosted containing unlicensed music. Though Vimeo, owned by former Ticketmaster owner IAC, has filed its own new motion requesting a summary judgement in its favour.
Unlike YouTube, which did licensing deals with the major music companies (hence why the case against it was led by MTV owners Viacom), Vimeo has no ambitions to become a music video jukebox, instead seeing itself as a service-provider to film-makers. In recent years Vimeo has started pointing video producers in the direction of low-cost music licensing options, which would ensure a user's videos were legit and not subject to takedown requests from record labels and music publishers. But if this lawsuit goes in the labels' favour, the digital firm may have to do much more to ensure unlicensed audio doesn't slip through its systems.
SEAN PAUL SUED OVER ALLEGED DEPORTATION
Filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court, apparently because Paul's record label Warner/Atlantic is based in New York, the main supporting document is a 120 page tell-all book, with the snappy title 'Irie Jamboree: My life in Jamaica as a jet set slave with the enormous secret of a love affair with Jamaica's perhaps most well known dancehall artist'. Featuring illustrations by Persson herself, its cover promises to reveal "the truth about Sean Paul's cocaine dealings, lies, murders and erection problems".
Persson has also submitted a receipt for a flight from Jamaica to Sweden, paid for by Paul's booking agency Headline Entertainment. She claims to have been forced to board that flight by police, just a day after attempting suicide because of the trauma of the pending deportation. Persson: "I had tried to kill myself, losing more than one litre of blood from a cut on my wrist. I had shown the pictures of the cuts to Sean over the internet. I feel he should see what he had caused".
Asked for comment on the allegation that Paul had arranged for Persson to be deported, his lawyer Tom Taveres-Finson told the New York Post: "He would not have the power to do that".
BOBBY WOMACK CONFIRMS ALZHEIMER'S DIAGNOSIS
Currently in the early stages of the disease, the singer wrote: "Thanks to all of my fans for their prayers and well wishes. I truly appreciate and can feel your love. With the support of many good doctors, my family, and all of my wonderful fans, I will continue to write and perform and bring the good music to the people for as long as I can".
XX TOP VINYL CHART FOR 2012
The xx had the best selling vinyl album of the year, while a David Bowie re-release came in second, with Jack White's 'Blunderbuss' in third place. And if you're interested, and surely you all are, Travis still have the best selling vinyl album of the century. Here's some top tens courtesy of the OCC...
Best Selling Vinyl Albums Of 2000-2012
THOM YORKE SIGNS DEAL WITH KOBALT
Regular Radiohead and Yorke producer, and Atoms For Peace member, Nigel Godrich is already represented by Kobalt, as is Radiohead drummer Philip Selway for his solo output.
Confirming the new deal, Kobalt's VP Global Creative Sas Metcalfe told CMU: "Thom is one of the most inspiring and creative musicians to come out of the UK. Aside from his outstanding achievements as part of Radiohead, he continues to push himself musically with his solo work and now with Atoms For Peace".
The publisher's SVP Business Development Nick Robinson added: "Thom is so well-respected by artists across all genres worldwide and the amazing new Atoms For Peace album will only enhance that further. It's another landmark in an incredible catalogue and to have Thom as part of our roster is an absolute honour".
MARR SIGNS TO WARNER FOR SOLO ALBUM RELEASE
TIËSTO SIGNS TO RED LIGHT MANAGEMENT
BRITNEY SPEARS CONFIRMS WILL.I.AM, HIT-BOY COLLABORATIONS
Following an un-revelatory Twitter Q&A with fans in which Spears defined her in-studio mindset as "excited" and "really focused on my music right now" - adding that she was "collaborating with some new inspiring producers" - said rep gave ET confirmation that Hit-Boy and Spears' 'Scream And Shout' partner Will.i.am will, in fact, appear on the tbc heir apparent to 2011's 'Femme Fatale'.
NEW VAMPIRE WEEKEND LP SET FOR SPRING RELEASE
The band's Ezra Koenig, who was last heard talking about the new record last April, says the upcoming album is "darker" and more "organic" than past VW long players - not least their last, 2010's 'Contra' - telling Q: "It really does feel like the third chapter in a book. We created some characters on the first record, some of which are real people, some of which ourselves, so it's not so hard to keep following them and see what their concerns are now and how their lives have changed".
As to the three-year wait since 'Contra' came out, he adds: "You can have a year or two based on being of the moment but beyond that you're only as good as your songs. There's a trade-off between quality control and frequency of releases. Three years feels like a good middle ground".
Watch Eztra et al playing new track 'Unbelievers' - as may or may not feature on the new LP - via this 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' appearance filmed back in November.
EMELI SANDÉ TO RELEASE LIVE DVD
Now look at the CD/DVD content, since it's one and the same thing, arranged in a single tracklisting:
YOUTH LAGOON TALKS SOPHOMORE LP
Muses Powers, who "became fascinated with the human psyche" whilst writing the new tracks: "My mental state is usually pretty sporadic... a lot of this record was influenced by a fear of mortality but embracing it at the same time. Realising that human life is only great because it is temporary. Experimenting with ideas about dimensions. I'm not a gifted speaker, so explaining things is difficult for me. But music always makes sense".
'Wondrous Bughouse' is set for release on 4 Mar, and will bear a tracklisting resembling this one:
Through Mind and Back
MY BLOODY VALENTINE ADD NEW LONDON DATE
Tickets to both Apollo dates still available here.
CHVRCHES TO TOUR
25 Feb: Manchester, Ruby Lounge
ALLEGED POT SMOKER BIEBER TO LAUNCH CASH CARD
But alas, that would be a brand extension too far, it seems. Rather, the Bieber took to Twitter this weekend to post a slightly ambiguous 'I must try harder' message after TMZ's photos of the pop teen smoking circulated online. He wrote: "Everyday growing and learning. Trying to be better. U get knocked down, u get up ... I see all of U. I hear all of U. I never want to let any of you down. I love U. and ... thank U ... like I said... 2013... new challenges. New doubters... I'm ready. We are ready. See u all tomorrow and everyday after that".
But it's fine, apparently, for the Bieber brand to be used to hook America's youth on that very modern drug: debt. Yes, later this month a Bieber branded pre-pay cash card will hit the market in the US. And while it's a pre-pay debit card rather than an actual credit card, and while we're promised some Bieber-starring videos preaching financial responsibility as part of the marketing campaign, the card is being supplied by a company called BillMyParents.com, which doesn't sound very much like a product designed to teach kids to live within their means.
Though with - according to CNN - a four dollar a month membership fee, $1.50 charge for every cash withdrawal, $3 penalty if you don't use your card for three months and $7.95 cost if you lose the card (for a service most banks offer for free on children's accounts), I suppose it will teach the kids about the dangers of letting yourself become too reliant on the shittier players in the financial services industry. And of taking financial advice from pot heads.
MAX HOLE PROMOTED TO CEO ROLE AT UNIVERSAL MUSIC INTERNATIONAL
Confirming Hole's promotion to become CEO of UMG International, Lucian Grainge, CEO of UMG at large, told CMU this morning: "We are strengthening our global management team following the important acquisition of EMI Recorded Music. Max has contributed significantly to the evolution and continued success of our international business. There is no one better to lead our efforts outside the US, where we anticipate significant growth opportunities with the addition of EMI to our existing international portfolio. Max will play an integral role overseeing our future global development".
Commenting on his new expanded role, Hole himself added: "The future for the music industry is looking brighter than it has for some time, and there's no shortage of energy, innovation and creativity in Universal's companies around the world. I'm looking forward to working with new colleagues and artists from EMI, and integrating our two great companies successfully. 2013 will be an exciting year for all of us".
VIRGIN FRANCE TO DECLARE INSOLVENCY
Richard Branson's Virgin Group sold its French record store business to media company Lagardere in 2001, though allowed them to continue using the Virgin brand on the high street (unlike when the UK Virgin Megastore business was sold to its management in 2007, ensuring that it was Zavvi that went under eighteen months later). French investment firm Butler then took an 80% controlling stake in Virgin France in 2007.
Butler will officially declare Virgin France insolvent today, with talks expected to follow to see if the 25 store chain can be saved in any streamlined form. Entertainment retail in France has faced the same challenges as in the UK and elsewhere, possibly more so given the more rapid decline in record sales in the French market. The country's leading entertainment retailer Fnac also announced a cost cutting and downsizing strategy last year.
News of Virgin France's possible demise comes as the UK music industry continues to watch last man standing HMV very closely. Analysts expect that the all-important Christmas trading period was not sufficient to enable the British entertainment retailer to meet covenants attached to its debts, making ongoing talks with its money lenders this month absolutely crucial to ensure the firm's survival.
TICKETSCRIPT TO SIMPLIFY PRICE LISTINGS
Ticketscript UK Commercial Manager Jason Legg told CMU: "This is a change that is regularly requested by existing and new clients. We felt it was important to listen and act to improve the service for the event organiser, and ultimately the ticket buyer".
SPOTIFY REMOVES DOWNLOAD PURCHASING FROM PLATFORM
For all the talk of 2012 being the year streaming music truly took off, in reality the downloads market remains much more significant in terms of revenue.
Some reckon subscription services like Spotify will ultimately replace download stores like iTunes, though others argue that so called 'access' and 'ownership' based digital music businesses satisfy different parts of the market (unlike music industry professionals and tech geeks, mainstream consumers don't want all-you-can-eat), so the two can happily co-exist.
Though is there a crossover - ie consumers who will pay each month to subscribe to a Spotify service, but still want permanent ownership of certain tracks? You'd think those consumers do exist, though various streaming packages that bundled some free MP3s in for keeps with monthly subs never really took off, and clearly if Spotify was selling decent download units it would not be removing the service.
Spotify, which never offered downloads for purchase in the US, said it was removing MP3 sales in Europe "to further streamline the service and pave the way" for new alternative functionality announced last month. Though a spokesman said MP3 sell-through could reappear at some point in the future.
GAYDARRADIO TO CLOSE
Beginning as an online radio station in 2001, GaydarRadio subsequently appeared on DAB, winning both awards and a sizable loyal audience. But Gaydar owner QSoft Consulting says that making an online/digital-only radio station commercially viable is incredibly challenging, and operating the radio service is preventing it from fully investing in its core online dating business.
Gaydio began short-term broadcasts in Manchester in 2006, before becoming a full-time FM set up in 2008, the UK's first FM service aimed at the gay community. Most of the output on its new DAB frequencies will be the same as the Manchester station, though with a few local opt-outs.
Confirming the closure of GaydarRadio, QSoft CEO Trevor Martin told reporters: "Everyone associated with GaydarRadio should be immensely proud of what the station has achieved. The station has devoted an extraordinary amount of time to help social causes within the LGBT community as well as supporting talent within the music industry. The transfer of the DAB licences to Gaydio will ensure that the time and money invested in GaydarRadio will continue to live on and be supported in an appropriate way, with the support of the Gaydio FM licence".
While Toby Whitehouse, Station Director and Co-Founder of Gaydio, added: "This is great news for the UK's LGBT community as this will create a unified and stronger programming opportunity on the FM, DAB and online broadcasting platforms. Gaydio and GaydarRadio have shared many similarities in terms of the programming mix and our dedication to promoting LGBT causes. We are really excited to be the forging the biggest LGBT media outlet in the UK".
REAL RADIO DROPS RYAN SEACREST SHOW
As previously reported, Real Radio, formerly owned by the Guardian Media Group, is in the process of being acquired by Global Radio, and - while technically in limbo as a standalone entity - a lot of downsizing has already occurred. And if the takeover is approved by the UK Competition Commission, many expect Global to wind down Real altogether and to use its frequencies to further expand the Heart and Capital networks. Which would make it foolish to continue paying for the bought-in Seacrest show in the interim.
Real Radio is yet to comment on the change to its late night schedule, but it seems like its evening show will be extended by two hours and its overnight show brought forward an hour to fill the gap left by the axed Seacrest show.
JON HILLCOCK CONFIRMED FOR NEW XFM SCHEDULE
Like Good, Hillcock is a returner to Xfm (and indeed, technically so is Holmes, though his first stint at the station was very short-lived). Given that 6music's schedules are often full of ex-Xfmers presenting shows for the Beeb, it's nice to see the presenter-flow going in the other direction for once.
MACCA'S ANTI-LEATHER RIDER EXPOSED
Amid specifications for Macca's dressing room, aka "inner sanctum", is a "crucial" boycott on "furniture made of animal skin or print" and/or "glass or lacquer". Catering, meanwhile is to be vegetarian-only, with a blanket ban on all and any meat and meat-based by-products.
In that same spirit of killing plants rather than other organisms, Mr McCartney, who's apparently "very fond of flowers", wants to have lots of dead ones in vases about the place ("freesia is a favourite"). "Tree trunks" and "weedy things" are a no-no, mind, since Macca prefers "plants that are just as full on the bottom as the top". Whatever that may mean.
Fond of flowers, loathes meat. That could be the title of Macca's next album. Unless Morrissey gets there first. See the full rider here.