SONY CHIEF INSISTS SALE OF ENTERTAINMENT ASSETS NOT ON THE AGENDA
There has been much speculation about the Japanese conglom being split up in recent years as Sony Corp tackles various financial woes brought on by a slump in the company's consumer electronics business, a persistently strong yen and various natural disasters. Kazuo Hirai took over from former Sony chief Howard Stringer last year with a brief to turn round the group's fortunes.
Although Hirai's own Sony career has been more on the entertainment side, his focus at the moment is on reclaiming market share for the company's consumer electronics divisions, and he was at CES to big up new products in that domain, in particular ever higher definition video products, bringing cinema quality film into the home.
Despite the entertainment industry facing its own challenges, the Sony music and movie businesses, mainly headquartered in the US, have been doing alright of late, and some have speculated that they might be split or sold off from the rest of Sony Corp, to provide a cash boost for the parent company, or to ensure the flagging electronics side of the organisation doesn't hinder the entertainment side.
But Hirai told CES in no uncertain terms "we are not selling" the Sony movie and music businesses. Like his predecessors, Hirai reckons that there is much to be gained by Sony Corp making both the hardware via which consumers access entertainment content, and the content that is consumed, though realising those benefits will require the different Sony businesses to collaborate more, which is something the Sony Corp top guard are always banging on about, though past 'Sony United' initiatives have had only limited success.
Though, still, Sony's strong presence in the movie and music making industries does still arguably give the company's consumer electronics business an edge over many of its recently more buoyant competitors, even though that advantage hasn't been particularly well utilised in recent years.
AMY WINEHOUSE DIED FROM ALCOHOL POISONING, SECOND INQUEST CONFIRMS
As previously reported, a new inquest was ordered after it was discovered that the coroner who had overseen the original hearing was not technically qualified to do so. Suzanne Greenaway had not worked in the UK for the required five years before becoming Deputy Coroner, after moving here from Australia. She resigned in November, followed in December by her husband Andrew Reid, the Senior Coroner for inner North London who had appointed her.
As part of the new inquest, a written statement was submitted by Winehouse's GP, Dr Christina Romete. In it the doctor wrote that she had visited Winehouse the night before her death, and that the singer had "specifically said she did not want to die", but added: "She was genuinely unwilling to follow the advice of doctors, being someone who wanted to do things her own way".
St Pancras Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliff said that on the day of her death Winehouse had been five times over the drink-drive limit, with "alcohol toxicity [at] a level of alcohol commonly associated with fatality".
DAPPY ACCUSED OF STARTING PETROL STATION FIGHT
Prosecution lawyer Brian Stork told Guildford Crown Court yesterday that Dappy and three friends - two of whom, Kieran Vassell and Kalonji Stewart, are also standing trial with him - pulled into the petrol station in the early hours of 28 Feb. Dappy, he said, got out of his car and spoke to two girls who were sitting in a group on the kerb. He then asked them to get into the car with him and, when they refused, he called one ugly and spat at them both.
According to Stork, a man the women were with, David Jenkins, whom they had just met, then stood up to defend them, at which point Dappy also spat at him before throwing a punch. Jenkins then put Dappy into a headlock, at which point the other two defendants allegedly became involved, resulting in a larger fight in which Jenkins lost some teeth.
All three accused men deny their charges. The trial continues today.
LITTLE MIX SIGN TO COLUMBIA US
Talking in-depth to Twist Magazine, Little Mix-ette Jade Thirlwall says: "We want to show everybody what we're about and bring out our first single over here. 'Wings' is the perfect introduction to Little Mix and what we're all about, so we can't wait to show it to everybody in America!"
On inevitable comparisons to the 1D boys, she adds: "That's a massive compliment because of how well they've been doing this past year. We'd love to follow in their footsteps and be as successful as they are!"
1D'S BIG PAY DAY COMES AT END OF THREE YEAR CONTRACT, ACCORDING TO SUN
So while, as everyone seems to reckon, the long-term plan may well be a Robbie Williams-style solo career for Mr Harry Styles (though whose plan exactly - Syco, management, the UN - is rarely revealed), the 1D franchise isn't going anywhere for at least another year, and not even if the One Direction boys all fall out (which, while the group remains the global cash cow it currently is, is the only foreseeable reason for it to all tumble down any sooner).
Says The Sun's source: "It's a really clever contract that the boys have signed up to. It means they have a real incentive to tough it out and stick together. The formal length is for 36 months and an album a year - but the clever part is they get the big pay day after the three years. If one of them walks away before then, then all five miss out on the money. They don't miss out on a few quid either, we are talking millions. They all get on really well, but it would be the kind of deal that would see them through the worst aggro possible".
So that's nice. Talking of 1D, for those keeping count, Styles and Taylor Swift are currently off again, something The Sun decided was front page news yesterday. Though that's not to say 'Styles/Swift reconciliation' won't be the lead story by Friday.
MARK RONSON IS RUNNING OUT OF TALENTED COLLABORATORS
Telling Triple J that he's "just starting to get in the headspace" to begin work on his next long player, Ronson added: "Since my first record, 'Here Comes The Fuzz', I've worked with a different bunch of collaborators each time. I actually think I'm starting to run out of very talented people, so I'm sure I'm going to have to draw from some of these people again. But I won't know until I start making the music".
DEVENDRA BANHART DETAILS NEW LP
Says Banhart: "A lot of early hip hop had been made on the Tascam, and knowing my songs are not hip hop whatsoever, we thought it would be interesting to see how these kinds of songs would sound on equipment that was used to record our favourite rap".
Have an official 'Mala' tracklisting, plus a Pitchfork-facilitated play of featured track 'Für Hildegard von Bingen', right this minute, if you like:
MAJOR LAZER TO TOUR THE UNIVERSE
1 May: Sheffield, Plug
ICEAGE SHARE LIVE DATES, NEW TRACK
They've also just shared new 'You're Nothing' track 'Coalition', so play that now whilst you scan said dates:
25 Feb: Glasgow, Broadcast
TAKEN BY TREES TO PLAY RARE LONDON DATE
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
Elsewhere, Cumbria's Solfest marks its tenth anniversary this year, and as such will be partying in style with just-named main stage acts Afro Celt Sound System and Oysterband, the latter of whom played the festival's first ever edition. So, that's worth noting, as are the facts that Fossil Collective, Chapel Club and Nine Black Alps have joined Stockton Calling, whilst headlining attractions Buzzcocks align with the late Joe Strummer's homage festival, Strummercamp. Take a look:
EASTERN ELECTRICS, Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, 2-4 Aug: Ame, Anja Schneider, Ata, Ben UFO, Blawan, Cassy, Catz N Dogz, Chris Liebing, Claude Von Stroke, Climbers, Clockwork, Damian Lazarus, Dixon, DJ Sneak, Tennis, Droog, Dyed Soundorom, Eats Everything, Ellen Allien, Francesca Lombardo, Gavin Herlihy, Geddes, Guy Gerber, Heidi, Joy Orbison, Justin Martin, krankbrothers, Levon Vincent, Magda, Maurice Fulton, Maxxi Soundsystem, Michael Mayer, No Artificial Colours, Pan-Pot, PBR Streetgang, Prosumer, Richy Ahmed, Roman Flugel, Seth Troxler, Subb-an, Theo Parrish. www.easternelectrics.com
SOLFEST, Tarnside Farm, Cumbria, 23-25 Aug: Afro Celt Sound System, Osyterband. www.solfest.org.uk
STOCKTON CALLING, various venues, Stockton-on-Tees, 30 Mar: Chapel Club, Fossil Collective, Nine Black Alps, The Family Rain, Goy Boy McIlroy, Collectors Club, 12 Dirty Bullets, Jon Windle, Lilliput, Littlemores, Discopolis, Stanley Odd. www.stocktoncalling.co.uk
STRUMMERCAMP, Manchester Rugby Club, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, 24-26 May: The Undertones. www.strummercampfestival.co.uk
AIM ANNOUNCES DETAILS OF 2013 SYNC EVENT
Music supervisors set to share their expertise with the indie label community at the event include Alex Hancock, Sergio Pimentel of Nimrod Productions, Nick Angel of Working Title Films, Will Quiney of Vamanos Music and Sophie Urquhart of Tin Drum Music, while from the rights owner's side, Mute's David McGinnis will be offering advice.
Bella Union chief Simon Raymonde will chair the event, during which ten tracks submitted by audience members will be played, with the panel considering each recording's suitability for sync.
Tickets are £24 for AIM members, £60 for everyone else. More at www.musicindie.com/sync2013.
VIRGIN FRANCE TO DECLARE ITSELF INSOLVENT TODAY
As previously reported, Virgin France has not been part of Richard Branson's Virgin Group since 2001. Equity group Butler Capital now owns 80% of the business, and its representatives have been involved in this week's talks. Speaking for Butler, Laurent Parquet told reporters yesterday: "Virgin has been going through difficult times for a long time. We have invested a lot in this company. We tried to straighten out the company's accounts. Now our concern is to find the best possible solution".
As Virgin France faces closure, the UK record industry remains focused on HMV, which is busy renegotiating the terms of its bank loans after admitting it will fail covenant tests this month. Management at the British retailer have announced a major sale across its stores kicking of this weekend, presumably hoping to give a boost to sales in a traditionally quite time for entertainment retail in a bid to placate bankers.
EMUSIC TO START SELLING STANDALONE DOWNLOADS
The service has always operated a subscription model, where users pay a set fee per month and are then able to download a set number of tracks (with the per track fee usually less that on other download stores as a result).
Originally a subscription got users a certain number of 'credits' to use when downloading tracks, though more recently tracks and albums have been given cash values, which are deducted from the amount paid each month via the subscription fee, making it feel less like a club and more like a pre-pay store.
By selling downloads on a pay-as-you-go basis as well, eMusic will become even more like an iTunes style download platform, though eMusic chief Adam Klein insists the editorial and membership elements of his service will very much remain, adding that he expects that individual-track customers attracted to his revamped service can be upsold the full subscription offer.
According to Billboard, Klein told CES: "While our focus and core audience remains the same, our new business model now opens eMusic up for everyone to enjoy what we bring to the table: insightful editorial that we curate independently from our sales division, and personalised discovery technology that draws upon the diverse tastes of our unique eMusic community".
eMusic has also used CES to announce the launch of a new 'discovery algorithm' called the Engineered Serendipity Project, or ESP (see what they did?), which will make personal recommendations based on past purchases, play data and eMusic reviews.
DAVID RODIGAN JOINS BBC RADIO 1XTRA
Rodigan will launch a new two-hour weekly show on 1Xtra at 7pm on Sunday 17 Feb. It was also revealed yesterday that the DJ would return to BBC Radio 2 with a new thirteen part series of programmes in the summer.
Announcing his new show, Rodigan said: "I am absolutely delighted to be joining BBC Radio 1Xtra where I can share my passion for both new cutting edge reggae and classic cuts, reflecting a genre of music which continues to play a paramount role in urban bass culture music".
Radio 1 and 1Xtra controller Ben Cooper added: "David Rodigan is a legend in broadcasting and it will be great to listen to him on Sunday evenings on BBC Radio 1Xtra. It's fantastic to welcome someone with his unrivalled knowledge and passion for reggae to the BBC".
XFM ANNOUNCES NEW WEEKEND SHOWS
Amongst the new shows, on Sunday evenings 'The Mixtape' will invite musicians and other special guest to choose an hour of music, Jo Good will host a new 'Xfm Review Show', and Maz Tappuni from label and club night Communion will host an hour of new music.
Hattie Pearson, winner of Best Female Presenter at last year's Student Radio Awards, will take over early breakfast at the weekend, while Phil Clifton will return to present the Friday night edition of the station's 'The Weekender' show and from 19 Jan comedian Josh Widdicombe will take over the Saturday morning slot.
JOHN LEGEND THOUGHT CHER WAS DEAD FOR A WHILE
One of the people who initially fell for the joke was US model Christine Teigen, fiancée of musician John Legend. So shocked was she that she woke Legend up to tell him the news. "He got sad but then went back to bed", she explained to her Twitter followers. Though by this time she had realised that she'd fallen foul of a hoax. But did she go and disturb her future husband again in order to put him right? No she did not.
"Kind of hilarious watching John sleep and knowing he thinks Cher is dead", she later tweeted. Though she added: "It's funny only because she's not dead, clearly".
Of course she wouldn't be so cruel to keep up the pretence once Legend was awake. Oh, actually, she would. The next morning she wrote: "Hahahhahahahahaha John still thinks Cher is dead. 'I can't believe it's not even on the news, that's kinda a big deal'".
Unfortunately, updating her Twitter followers about all this meant that the now conscious Legend soon discovered her ruse and the fun was over. The stupid internet ruins everything.