The five biggest stories in the music business this week...
01: HMV went into administration, putting the music business at the very top of the wider news agenda. The flagging retailer's board met on Monday evening and announced that administrators from Deloitte would be called in the next morning. The debt-laden retail firm was set to break covenants on its loans, and had been unable to renegotiate terms with its money-lenders, or persuade suppliers to pump in some investment. Administrators are currently speaking to up to 50 possible bidders for parts of the HMV business, though it seems unlikely that an HMV company anywhere near the size of the current group will emerge from the administration. The firm's UK stores are currently operating as normal (though, controversially, aren't taking HMV vouchers), though in Ireland the receivers have been called in and the sixteen HMV shops there are shut. CMU report | FT report
02: MMF and FAC called for an artist-centric approach to copyright extension. The two trade bodies, representing managers and artists respectively, said that while labels will benefit hugely from the upcoming extension of the sound recording copyright term from 50 to 70 years, and session musicians will receive tangible benefits too, the longer copyright term offers a "mixed bag" to so called featured artists. MMF and FAC had hoped that when the UK Intellectual Property Office considered requirements in the European Directive for some artist-centric rules to be included as part of term extension, they might propose giving artists the right to renegotiate record contracts at 50 years. That is not part of the IPO's current consultation on term extension, though a 'use it or lose it' clause and 'clean slate' provision are, both of which MMF/FAC welcomed. Though they also called for a standard minimum artist royalty to be introduced at the 50 year point. CMU report | MMF/FAC statement
03: Mega got ready to launch. The new file-transfer service from Kim Dotcom will launch on Sunday, a year to the day that the US authorities shut down his original digital venture, MegaUpload, accusing it and him of rampant copyright infringement. The new Mega this week took out ads on radio stations in New Zealand, where both Dotcom and Mega are based, though one of the country's main media firms, MediaWorks, pulled the promo spots from its networks, seemingly because of pressure from the music and movie companies. Meanwhile the legal wranglings relating to MegaUpload continue, in New Zealand, the US and Canada. CMU report | TNW report
04: Speculation rose of an Absolute Radio sale. Current owner TIML Radio reopened talks about selling its UK radio business last year after being approached by John Pearson, who ran Absolute in its earlier incarnation as Virgin Radio. Though he pulled out of takeover talks this week in disagreements about price. But by the TIML Radio was also in talks with Bauer Radio about it buying the main Absolute station and its sister digital services. Meanwhile Absolute's high profile COO Clive Dickens announced he was leaving the company to take up a job in Australia. CMU report | Guardian report
05: Universal was back in court fighting Grooveshark. The mega-major has two legal battles ongoing with the controversial streaming music service, which lets users upload content to its libraries, meaning the digital firm routinely makes available Universal-owned content without having a licensing deal with the music company. Grooveshark claims it isn't liable for copyright infringement though, because it operates a 'takedown system', so gets protection from the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In one lawsuit Universal alleges Grooveshark staff also upload unlicensed material (something the streaming company denies). In the other Universal says that DMCA protection does not apply to pre-1972 recordings, which are governed by state rather than federal law. That latter argument failed in court last year, but late last week Universal's lawyers were back in court trying again, claiming that judges had been wrong to rule that the DMCA was assuming power over state as well as federal copyright law. CMU report
In CMU this week, Editor Andy Malt offered his thoughts on the HMV situation, we chatted to Michael Spearman of Everything Everything on the release of their new album, and we reviewed recent announcements in the world of brand partnerships. Approved were Lapalux, Bleached, Frida Sundemo and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
GAME INTERESTED IN ACQUIRING SOME HMV STORES
According to the Financial Times, management at the streamlined Game company - created when investment firm OpCapita bought about half of the Game store network last April - is now talking to HMV's administrators Deloitte about acquiring up to 45 of the flagging entertainment retailer's outlets. All the stores in which Game has expressed an interest are in towns where the gaming retailer does not currently have a base.
Managers are considering expanding the Game network into former HMV stores, despite it being only a year since the gaming firm itself was on the brink, after the retail company achieved better than expected revenues and profits in 2012.
Insiders say that in the region of 50 parties have expressed an interest in acquiring some of the HMV business, which went into administration on Tuesday. Retail restructuring group Hilco, which already owns HMV Canada, remains the most likely of the bidders to take the HMV name, and to continue running an albeit cut-back network of HMV stores. Though a number of other private equity sets up are also thought to be in talks with Deloitte.
INDIE DISTRIBUTORS HOPEFUL THAT THE IMPACT OF HMV COLLAPSE ON LABELS CAN WILL BE REDUCED BY PRE-EMPTIVE ARRANGEMENTS
There are both short and long-term issues, of course. In the long-term, if the HMV store network was to disappear from the high street completely, or if the HMV chain that emerges from administration is significantly smaller, it will mean the closure of a key channel through which labels have been able to sell to consumers.
And that would likely hit indies, or at least those labels with less mainstream releases, harder, partly because their stock is much less likely to be picked up by the supermarkets, and partly because they can't afford the kind of high profile advertising that can drive consumers to Amazon et al. Though, of course, if a stronger independent record shop network could emerge from the collapse of HMV, that could aid independent and niche artists, who generally receive more support from indie stores.
But of more concern this week will be the short-term impact HMV's fall could have, ie how many labels and distributors will be left out of pocket as a result of unpaid bills or lost stock. Most labels will be bracing themselves to take a financial hit as a result of HMV going into administration, though most distributors insist that the hit will be relatively modest because the flagging retailer's collapse has been such a long-time coming, and suppliers altered their arrangements in the last year to mitigate risk.
In a blog post on the HMV situation yesterday - which also includes some interesting insights into how the retail firm treated smaller labels and distributors in the past and more recently - a rep for indie distributor Kudos said: "I would like to reassure our labels that, although this collapse certainly will have repercussions on the wider music marketplace (especially in terms of removing competition), Kudos will probably walk away reasonably unscathed".
They go on to explain: "We recently moved across to consignment terms with HMV which required that we buy-back our in-store stock, leaving a large credit on their account. Our consignment terms also included swifter payments, so our debt exposure is pretty limited. There is an issue with stock, in that all Kudos stock on HMV's shelves belongs to Kudos and under the terms of our agreement we have the right, now that they are in administration, to receive all that stock back. We are working on this and will keep you posted".
Echoing the Kudos statement, Mike Chadwick, MD of label services business Essential Music & Marketing, also reckons that, because no one was really that surprised by HMV's administration, the knock back on its indie suppliers will be less severe. He told CMU: "Contrary to the doomsayers, this is far from a killer blow for the independent distributors and their distributed labels".
He expanded: "We've obviously been aware that this was a possibility and, whilst it's very sad indeed, we're not as exposed as we might have been. Certain key releases have been supplied on a consignment basis and we've been paid up to the end of November for those sales. So yes, there is a cashflow issue, but it certainly isn't going to significantly affect our business, or the majority of our distributed labels. Hopefully a leaner HMV will emerge from this, one that can trade profitably and once again become an exciting destination for record buyers".
HMV STAFF IN LIMERICK CONTINUE SIT-IN OVER WAGES
As previously reported, while HMV stores in the UK are still open as administrators at Deloitte try to find a buyer for some or all of the failed entertainment retail business, in Ireland the company was put into receivership earlier this week and its sixteen stores were shut with immediate effect.
But staff in the retailer's two stores in Limerick refused to leave their place of work after bosses were unable to assure them that they would be paid the wages they are due, which includes work done over the Christmas break. And as of 10am this morning that sit-in continued, staff having spent two nights sleeping in the two stores.
On Twitter, staff at the HMV in Limerick's Crescent Shopping Centre tweeted yesterday: "We just want what we're owed. The shop is profitable and we've been let down by our UK counterparts", later clarifying "we just want a written guarantee that we will get paid".
According to RTE, Deloitte has said that the receiver appointed to deal with the HMV situation in Ireland would be talking to employees in all the firm's stores, partly to assess the validity of the business, and partly to consider "options to facilitate payments to staff". It's not clear, though, how soon those conversations will take place, nor how soon any proper clarification on the wage situation will be forthcoming.
DAPPY FOUND GUILTY OF ASSAULT AND AFFRAY
As previously reported, Dappy was accused of approaching two nineteen year old women, Grace Cochran and Serena Burton, at the Guildford filling station in the early hours of 28 Feb last year. When they refused a request to get into his car, he became angry and spat at them. Another man, David Jenkins, came to the women's defence and a fight broke out.
Dappy and two of his entourage, Kieran Vassell and Kalonji Stewart, pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, and Dappy's defence was that he had simply been trying to promote his new single when he himself was attacked. But, while a jury found him not guilty of common assault by spitting at the two women, he was found guilty of assault by beating and affray.
The popstar will be sentenced next week, along with Vassell, who was found guilty of affray, and a fourth man, Alfred Miller, who previously pleaded guilty to the charge. Stewart was found not guilty of affray.
PUSSY RIOT APPEAL TO DEFER SENTENCE DENIED
The Guardian reports that the judge ruling on the appeal said that there were "no new circumstances" to deliberate over, and that "the fact that Alyokhina has a young child was taken into account by Moscow's Khamovnichesky court [when she was originally sentenced]".
THOM YORKE "DOESN'T CARE" IF DAVID CAMERON LIKES HIS MUSIC
Speaking to Dazed & Confused, Yorke said: "I can't say I love the idea of a banker liking our music, or David Cameron. But I also equally think, who cares? As long as he doesn't use it for his election campaigns, I don't care. I'd sue the living shit out of him if he did [use our music]".
Of course, while Yorke could sue the Tories if they used his music in a campaign video, under the current system he couldn't stop them from playing Radiohead tunes at political events, as Dave and his mates could licensed such use of Yorke's tunes through the collective licensing system.
Musing further on Cameron's possible liking of his musical output, Yorke added: "I can't believe he'd like [most recent Radiohead album] 'King Of Limbs' much". But maybe Cameron will like Yorke's new band, Atoms For Peace. If you're reading 'Dave', you can listen to a 25 minute mixtape of their stuff here.
RAPPER TY SIGNS TO TRU THOUGHTS
He says: "It's really nice to feel part of a family of people working to push your music and your dreams, I instantly get the right feeling about Tru Thoughts and I am looking forward to being able to just fly musically and be in control of what I wanna share with the world..."
A Mercury Prize nominee in 2004 for his sophomore LP 'Upwards', Chijioke's last studio release was 2010's 'Special Kind Of Fool'. His first release under the new deal will be an EP entitled 'A Kick Snare & An Idea', out in April. Listen to featured track 'Like You Never' now.
SKINDRED SIGN TO COOKING VINYL'S ROCK IMPRINT
Confirming the deal, DoubleCross GM Phil Hopwood told CMU: "Skindred are a genuinely unique band. They sound like no one else, and it's really exciting to be working with them. We feel there is huge potential for Skindred internationally whilst continuing to develop their UK profile".
Meanwhile Skindred's manager, 7PM Management's Seven Webster, added: "I love what Cooking Vinyl have done with acts like The Prodigy globally, and I have known Phil since he was one of the best label managers at Vital. To be working with this combined tour de force is for me the perfect team to help take Skindred to the next level".
U2 IN "FINE FETTLE" MAKING NEW LP, SAYS BONO
Speaking to The Sun, he adds that the band have "at least six" of said 'Reasons', aka tracks, done so far, sharing thus with the tab: "U2 have been back [in the studio] and they're really in fine fettle. They're mad for it at the moment and they really want to make a new record".
Still referring to U2 as if it were a separate entity, rather than the band he's been in since 1976, he adds: "And they don't care if it takes ten years - they don't care if it never happens again, they just want to get it right".
PHOENIX HINT AT NEW RELEASE
Those who aren't prone to epilepsy - in all seriousness - can stare at a flashing version of the above still graphic at www.wearephoenix.com
JANE BIRKIN TO PLAY ARABESQUE ANNIVERSARY SHOW AT BARBICAN
She'll play the record - a set of Arabic rearrangements of classic Gainsbourgian hits - alongside violinist Djamel Benyelles, and Algerian artists Khaled and Cheb Mami. Details and tickets available here.
Birkin also plays a sold out 'Sings Gainsbourg' show at London's Cadogan Hall on 31 Jan.
In the meantime, here are she and Benyelles doing 'Arabesque' track 'Les Clés Du Paradis'.
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
Belphegor's affable guitarist Helmuth Lehner says: "To bomb the UK is always a pleasure for Belphegor. We will celebrate 'Diabolical Death Musick', and visualise it with a special 20 year anniversary show, full of bones, flesh and blood! At the start of August, our new as-yet-untitled album will be released. The troupe can't wait to premiere two of these tracks at Bloodstock. An honour - this horror!"
Erm, OK. And with that, it's over to revelatory roster additions by circus-themed familial folk fete Chagstock, and - on a much larger scale - one of Croatia's many niche alt-EDM events, Outlook, as has just confirmed genre A-listers like Talib Kweli, Andy C, David Rodigan, Jay Electronica, The Pharcyde and new boys Koreless, Loefah and Pariah.
BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR, Catton Hall, Walton-On-Trent, South Derbyshire, 8-11 Aug: Hell, Belphegor. www.bloodstock.uk.com
CHAGSTOCK, Whiddon Down, Dartmoor, Devon, 19-20 Jul: Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Wille & The Bandits, Marc O'Reilly, Brother & Bones, Ferocious Dog, The Aurora Skies, Crazy Arm, New Crisis. www.chagstock.info
OUTLOOK, Pula, Croatia, 29 Aug - 2 Sep: Talib Kweli, Jay Electronica, Alborosie & Shengen Clan, The Pharcyde, Andy C, Mala In Cuba, David Rodigan, Joe Bada$$, Pharoahe Monch, Digital Mystikz, Goldie, Mr Scruff, Shy FX, LTJ Bukem, Todd Edwards, Kode 9, Calyx & TeeBee, DJ EZ, Boddika, Loefah, Taskforce, J Rocc, Benji B, Jackmaster, Iration Steppas, Zed Bias, Newham Generals, Breakage, Punch, High Focus Records, Dorian Concept, Portico Quartet, Channel One, The Heatwave, Topcat, Dbridge, Youngsta, Addison Groove, Vibronics, Alix Perez, Icicle, Break, Phace, Kanka, Distance, Trevino, Kryptic Minds, Machinedrum, Mungo's Hifi, Dj Die, Author, Phaeleh, Dub Phizix, Enei, Lenzman, General Levy & Joe Ariwa, Randall, Pariah, Koreless, Xxyyxx, Joe Nice, Terror Danjah, Cooly G, Logan Sama, Benny Page, OBF, Eglo Live Band Feat. Fatima & Olivier Daysoul, Ikonika, Scratcha Dva, Route 94, Ossie, Earl Gateshead, Stamina Mc, Mc Gq, Amit, Jack Sparrow, B.Traits, Spencer, Redinho, Marcus Visionary, Artificial Intelligence, Kasra, Wilkinson, Alexander Nut, Dubkasm, Vivek/Skeptical, Survival, Jubei, Broke'n'£Nglish, Elijah & Skilliam, Marvellous Cain, Biome, Kahn, Solo Banton, Mr Williamz, Ulterior Motive, Eliphino, Northern Lights, Foreign Concept, Mikal, Radikal Guru & Cian Finn, Sp:Mc, Scrufizzer, Dlr, Hackman, Stand High Patrol Feat Pupa Jim, Arp 101, Killawatt, Mc Drs, Strategy, Maribou State, Royal T, Crazy D, Sticky, Roses Gabor, Mc Ad, Chunky, Zero T, Ant Tc1, Cern, South London Ordnance/Xtrah, Paleman, Throwing Snow, Champion, Lefto, Lx One, Mefjus, Rene Lavice, Chimpo, Wrec, Halogenix, Legal Shot Hifi, Alpha Steppa, Gorgon Sound, Walton, Moxie, Faze Miyake, Moony, Cfsn Djs, Danman, Tonn Piper, Beneath, Mella Dee, Thinking, Sun Of Selah, J. Robinson, Dub Conductor, Dub Smugglers, Toast, Jeanville, Vital Techniques, Decibel, Sammy Dread, Rich Reason, Danny T & Tradesman, Joe Rolet, Jc, Gusto, Onset, Pean, Dj Earthpipe, Eniz, Dbx. www.outlookfestival.com
PRS FOR MUSIC FOUNDATION TO MANAGE NEW ARTS COUNCIL FUND FOR ARTISTS
He continues: "Changes in the financial environment means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for talent to find the right kind of investment at the right time to allow them to get to the stage of making a living from creating and performing music. That's what this fund is all about - I'm passionate about talent that has something to say being able to say it and be heard. This fund is the beginning of something that I hope will grow, and that we will learn from. It's great being able to develop this programme in partnership with PRS For Music Foundation and in a small way to help the music industry in this country - and the talent that drives it - to remain as strong and vibrant as ever".
Meanwhile PRSF CEO Vanessa Reed added: "As the UK's leading funder of new music and the songwriters who create it, we're proud to be delivering and contributing to this crucial talent development fund. Arts Council England has shown a real understanding of the music industry's current challenges by making new investment available to talented solo artists and bands who need financial support to break through to the next level. We're looking forward to using our twelve years of experience as a music industry funder and our extensive network of industry partners, experts, talented songwriters and musicians to ensure that this fund has a tangible and lasting impact".
The new development fund will be formally launched in May.
THE ORCHARD APPOINTS NEW GM FOR EUROPE
Naomi Moran joins The Orchard from World Circuit, having previously also worked for Rykomusic and collecting society MCPS. She will oversee all sales, marketing and distribution efforts in Europe, reporting in to Colleen Theis, who previously led The Orchard's European business, but is now COO for the company at large based in New York.
Confirming the new appointment, Orchard boss Brad Navin told CMU: "Naomi has been an innovator and leader in her previous roles within the industry and we are proud to have her join our team. As a veteran of the European music industry, she will help drive our established teams abroad and complement our existing presence in the EU and UK".
BALDWIN PROMOTED AT IMAGEM
Confirming the appointment, Imagem CEO André de Raaff told CMU: "Tash has already contributed enormously to our organisation in a remarkably short time. She has been able to 'make a difference' in the way we service our music to advertising agencies, TV stations, film companies etc. With a clear understanding of our commitment to a direct and proactive approach, she was able to transform this ethic onto a global scale to serve our Imagem clients worldwide".
He continued: "As Imagem continues to grow, Tash's new role will allow her to oversee all aspects of creative services. At the same time, as a worldwide board member, she will be responsible for creating new marketing initiatives to further exploit our copyrights, to develop our business opportunities in 'new' markets, and to contribute in all other aspects to the global growth and further expansion of Imagem".
Baldwin herself added: "We have to think globally. That's the way our customers think. We have to think across all genres of music and I'm excited to be given the opportunity to shape the creative strategy of the group as we strengthen long term sync, film and brand partnerships, forge global digital deals, and broker new media opportunities for our writers, composers and bands. What is unusual about this new Imagem move is that it's not about admin, but about sales. That's not the way most publishers behave!"
NEW BOSS FOR DECCA US
She will report into Max Hole, who leads Universal's classical operations worldwide in addition to his role heading up Universal International. He told CMU: "I'm delighted to welcome Elizabeth to the Decca Label Group where her passion for music, innovation and creativity make her the ideal choice to develop the Deutsche Grammophon, Decca and Mercury Classics' labels in the US".
Sobol added: "It is difficult to adequately express my excitement about working with Max Hole, the Decca Label Group team and all the great artists at Universal and with them, to build the best and most creative set of music labels in America. I have had a rich and rewarding time at IMG Artists and look forward to continued collaboration in the future".
REDIGI PLANNING EUROPEAN LAUNCH
The digital firm claims that its system checks that MP3s users are selling are legit, and ensures that the user's copy of the track is deleted after sale. However, the labels reckon that the service nevertheless constitutes copyright infringement, and litigation in the US is going through the motions. In America a lot of the legal debate depends on whether the courts will extend the so called First Sale Doctrine, a principle of copyright law that legitimises the resale of CDs, to the digital domain.
In Europe the copyright implications of a ReDigi type service will necessitate a whole new debate. ReDigi will rely on a software resale case in the European courts last summer, though content companies are still likely to cry infringement. The firm's founder, John Ossenmacher, says he plans to launch a specific service in Europe (rather than European users just being able to access the US platform) in the first quarter of this year, initially with a focus on MP3s and eBooks.
Commenting on the ongoing legal complications associated with his service, Ossenmacher told the FT: "Property laws the world over have always been that if you buy something, you have the right to resell it. Companies like EMI [which has led the US litigation against ReDigi to date] are trying to change the status quo by trying to take away people's property rights and their rights to resell their goods just because they happen to be digital".
Some have questioned whether a start-up like ReDigi has the funds to fight a complicated legal battle of this kind, and by launching in Europe the firm would likely have to start battling on two fronts, though Ossenmacher certainly remains bullish regards both his legal arguments and his company's long-term future.
YOUTUBE PLANNING INVESTMENT INTO VEVO
There has been much speculation that VEVO, which has been busy expanding its own online and app-based video platforms, might pull out of its YouTube partnership, which would take a significant amount of both content and revenue away from the Google-owned business. In reality VEVO, which still relies on YouTube for a lot of its traffic, is unlikely to end its partnership with the Google video site at this stage, though an equity relationship would provide longer-term guarantees for YouTube.
Although initially seeing itself very much as a platform and ad sales network, rather than as a commissioner or owner of content, YouTube began pumping its own money into content creation a couple of years back, initially in the US and subsequently beyond, and last year put money into Machinima, a web video network aimed at gamers.
KYLIE TO STAR IN SKY ARTS COMI-DRAMA
Ms Minogue - who, having just parted ways with her manager Terry Blamey, is apparently scaling back her pop obligations in favour of acting - says this of the new Sky show: "When the script was sent to me, I read it and knew instinctively I wanted to be part of this project. In 'Hey Diddly Dee', Marc has created a beautiful and quirky story".
'Hey Diddly Dee' will air on Sky Arts 1 HD in March as part of its 'Playhouse Presents' strand, and also stars Idris Elba, Anna Friel and Julia Davis.
MICK HUCKNALL, STEREOPHONICS AND MORE TO RE-RECORD BEATLES DEBUT
It's all part of the Beeb's celebration of 'The Golden Age Of The Album', which will see a variety of programmes spread across BBC Four and Radio 2, including the previously reported new three part TV show fronted by Danny Baker.
The re-recording of 'Please Please Me' will take place on 11 Feb, with the results (however they turn out) broadcast by Jo Whiley on Radio 2 that evening. A BBC Four documentary, called 'Twelve Hours To Please Me', following the recording session, will be broadcast on 15 Feb.
BBC Four controller Richard Klein told CMU: "I'm thrilled to be celebrating 'The Golden Age Of The Album' across both television and radio. We're taking a look behind the scenes of a really exciting moment in popular music history when some of our most iconic albums were recorded, and trying to discover what are the essential ingredients that make an album great".
Radio 2 and 6music controller Bob Shennan added: "This exciting season is a perfect example of how we can work across the BBC to create unique, 'must watch and listen' moments across radio, TV and online. The recreation of 'Please Please Me' promises to be one of Radio 2's stand out moments of 2013. Hearing those tracks brought to life again with a contemporary twist will have the network buzzing as much as the original did. It's one album that changed the world of pop music and I think the 50th anniversary is a timely moment to remind everyone why".
5IVE PLEA FOR FIFTH MEMBER
Earlier this month the band posted a photo on Facebook with the caption "Five back?" But the astute among you will notice that there are only four people in that photo. Of course, Jason 'J' Brown is missing, possibly because he couldn't get the angles of his beard straight in time.
It's alright though, the band's manager Chris Herbert has apparently got on the case, sending out a plea for a fifth member on Facebook, saying: "Looking for a member to join an established and extremely successful band. If you are male... late 20s early 30s, singer and/or rapper, great looks and swagga, inbox me... THIS COULD BE YOUR CALLING!"
However, a source tells The Sun that this may not be necessary, as the band members themselves are currently arguing over whether or not they should just change their name. Said source claims: "Scott wants to ditch it, saying it's stupid, but Ritchie Neville wants to keep it. And Ritchie sounds like an extra in 'Neighbours' after years of pulling pints over there [ie living in Australia]".
I'm not sure if sounding like an extra in 'Neighbours' gives Ritchie more sway in the argument, but I guess it can't hurt.