The five biggest stories in the music business this week...
01: The HMV administration continued to go through the motions. While up to 50 parties have reportedly expressed an interest in acquiring HMV assets since the entertainment retailer was put into administration ten days ago, restructuring specialists Hilco is favourite to takeover much of the retail firm. It bought up most of HMV's debts this week, basically giving it control of the business, while the Hilco bid to buy the retailer as a going concern is backed by the major music and DVD companies. Though Hilco is likely to only want about half of HMV's stores, with Game and various fashion chains and supermarkets lining up to take over the remaining HMV shop units. Elsewhere, G-A-Y founder Jeremy Joseph announced he had bought HMV out of his company. The G-A-Y franchise, with its club brand, bars and Heaven venue, was the only bit of the former HMV Live division not sold in 2011. CMU reports
02: Sony bought into US EDM independent Ultra Music. A sign that the corporate end of the American music industry reckons there is still plenty of cash to be made from the recent rise of dance music Stateside, Sony Music invested in New York-based Ultra Music, while the founder of that label, Patrick Moxey, became Sony's global President Of Electronic Music. CMU report | FT report
03: YouTube said 'Gangnam Style' had generated $8 million in ad revenues in six months. Google revealed the figure in a financial briefing this week. Psy's web phenomenon has been watched 1.23 billion times on YouTube since being uploaded last summer. The $8 million in revenues from that many views suggests advertisers started paying a premium to appear alongside the novelty track once it gained global attention. It's not clear how much of that $8 million will be passed to Psy and his label/publisher. Last year it was estimated the Korean singer and his business partners would make about that amount out of the track, though that estimate included download sales and sync deals as well as YouTube revenues. CMU report | Telegraph report
04: Live Nation announced Olympic Parks deal, as Barclaycard was confirmed as sponsor for AEG's Hyde Park activity. Having ended its partnership with the Royal Parks last year, Live Nation will move its London-based festivals, including Wireless and Hard Rock Calling, east to the site of last year's London games, as part of a deal with the London Legacy Development Corporation. Meanwhile AEG Live, which has taken over the Hyde Park franchise, announced that its activity there this summer will be called British Summer Time, will be sponsored by former Wireless backer Barclaycard, and will be headlined by Bon Jovi. Oh, and apparently they've sorted out the noise issues that dogged Live Nation's activity in the park in recent years. Live Nation report | AEG report
05: Mega launched last weekend, though was criticised for its sluggishness and security issues. That said, the new file-transfer service from Kim Dotcom, launched a year after the US authorities shutdown his original business MegaUpload amidst piracy allegations, generated a lot of interest, and signed-up plenty of users. The slow running of the service was due to that large number of sign-ups, Dotcom said. Mega boasts that it automatically encrypts files uploaded to the service, providing security and privacy for users, and arguably protecting the new business from copyright infringement claims. Though tech experts said the auto-encrypted files were easily hackable, while lawyers were divided on whether user's files being locked would reduce Mega's responsibility for stopping infringement on its network. CMU report | Ars Technica report
On CMU this week, we chatted to Ritzy Bryan from The Joy Formidable, Flux Pavilion did us a playlist, and Eddy TM asked for your help. Approved were Seeräuber Jenny, Cult Of Luna, Parquet Courts and Kate Boy.
WH SMITH NOT INTERESTED IN CAPITALISING ON HMV'S DEMISE
Asked whether she saw the likely streamlining and possible collapse of the HMV retail chain as an opportunity to expand her own company's entertainment retail operations, WH Smith CEO Kate Swann gave the Financial Times a resounding "no".
She told the paper: "[Entertainment retail] just isn't profitable. HMV were the last man standing ... pretty much everybody went because nobody could make any money out of it. You can't create a proposition which customers find attractive and make money with the current structure of the market. If there was some way we could change that structure and could create something which is attractive to customers, and you could make some money, yes, that would be our reason to reconsider it. Otherwise no".
WH Smith's own future was in doubt ten years ago, though under Swann's leadership the firm has regained some stability, partly through cost efficiencies, and partly through focusing on more profitable product lines, hence the move away from entertainment. Sales were down at the company's shops in the last quarter, though it is still set to make pre-tax profits in the region of £105 million for the current financial year.
JOSEPH BUYS HMV OUT OF G-A-Y
Joseph originally went into business with Mean Fiddler to grow the G-A-Y business, it then also operating the now gone London Astoria venue, which was the original home of the G-A-Y club night. MAMA's acquisition of Mean Fiddler's non-festivals business in 2007 brought G-A-Y into the MAMA Group fold, resulting in further expansion, before HMV became the parent company three years later.
HMV then announced its intent to sell its live division just over a year ago, subsequently entering into two deals last year, one with AEG and Eventim regarding flagship venue the Hammersmith Apollo, and another with MAMA co-founder Dean James regarding much of the rest of the company. However, G-A-Y was not part of either of those deals.
With the HMV Group now in administration, Joseph needed to get a deal done quickly to buy back his profitable company. After initially pursuing a possible new business partnership, a plan that ran aground for various reasons, the promoter subsequently secured funding from Metro Bank, though with the loan secured on his own home and other business interests. While that deal has seemingly been done just in time, when HMV called in the administrators last week Joseph says he was forced to withdraw money from his own bank account to keep G-A-Y operating last weekend.
Thanking his various business partners to date for helping him expand the G-A-Y business, before charting the various challenges he has faced in the last year in a bid to exercise his contractual right to buy HMV out of his company, Joseph wrote on Facebook yesterday: "As luck would have it, a friend suggested a new bank and after looking at G-A-Y accounts, they gave a yes to lending me personally millions - and I do mean millions - so thanks to Metro Bank, I was given the chance to take the biggest risk of my life and give G-A-Y a new future".
Admitting HMV's administration had added even more pressure, he continued: "In a time of recession and with so many companies going into administration, was this the right time to take the biggest risk of my life, borrow millions of pounds, and put my home and company up as a guarantee? Well on Tuesday I signed my life away, I've taken my biggest risk, going it alone, no more business partners, just me, if this goes wrong, I lose everything. But risks are there to be taken, I have a responsibility to the 200 people that G-A-Y employs, I have a responsibility to the customers who have been loyal to G-A-Y and I have a responsibility to all those people who believe in me and have backed me".
He concluded: "So the announcement is that I have completed the deal in buying HMV's shares in G-A-Y and with the shares I already own, G-A-Y is 100% owned by me: that's the brand, the bars and Heaven. And with the team who work at G-A-Y, this is the beginning of a brand new era".
IMPALA REVEALS INDIE ALBUM OF YEAR SHORTLIST
Afterhours - Padania (Germi)
IMPALA board members now have four weeks to vote for their overall favourite. Meanwhile, IMPALA Exec Chair Helen Smith told CMU: "The shortlist demonstrates the diversity of independent music throughout Europe. The judges, using entirely open criteria, will choose quite simply the album they believe is the most exceptional of the year".
THE MARS VOLTA LIQUEFIED
Not that this is a colossal shock; Rodriguez-Lopez first placed TMV on hiatus back in November after the release of 2012's 'Noctourniquet' LP, saying at the time: "I don't know [if the band will reunite], and I'm not insecure enough to have to ask myself that. It's like, we've done that for ten years, eleven years. Now we're all doing different things, and everything that we're doing informs how we express ourselves, and so if that happens then it happens and if it doesn't it doesn't".
Finalising his and Rodriguez-Lopez's Mars Volta split via a series of tweets, Bixler-Zavala said: "Thank you to all Volta fans you deserved more especially after the way you rooted for us on this album. I tried my hardest to keep it going but [Rodriguez-Lopez's new band] Bosnian Rainbows was what we all got instead. I can't sit here and pretend any more. I no longer am a member of Mars Volta ... For the record I tried my hardest to get a full scale North American tour going for 'Noctourniquet' but Omar did not want to".
He added he was "still in love" with his and Rodriguez-Lopez's original collaboration, At the Drive-In, who after an honorary (and well-paid) live reformation last year, haven't done much else besides declining to make an LP together.
Bixler-Zavala ended the Twit-diatribe with: "To be clear I'm not angry I just wanted to be honest with the people who have allowed me to make a living playing music. What am I suppose to do be some progressive house wife that's cool with watching their partner go fuck other bands? We owe it to [our] fans to tour".
Considering the number of projects Bixler-Zavala is involved with outside The Mars Volta, that last jibe about Rodriguez-Lopez's apparent 'infidelity' doesn't make much sense. Especially since, whilst saying all the above, Bixler-Zavala also happened to note that for his next project he'll be working alone, with a new solo album in the pipeline.
DETAILS OF CHIEF KEEF RECORD DEAL REVEALED IN COURT PAPERS
The financial workings of the rapper's deal with Universal/Interscope have come to light after DNAinfo.com got hold of court papers, presented to a judge to secure approval for the deal - seemingly a requirement because, again, Keef is a minor. Although the album is already out, a final ruling on the contract is due at Cook County chancery court on 16 Apr, according to the website.
The three-year deal covers three albums and a greatest hits compilation, though, of course, Interscope has the right to break the contract if 'Finally Rich' fails to sell 250,000 copies by the end of this year. The rapper was paid an advance of $440,000 - half before and half after the judge approved the deal - all of which is held in a "blocked trust" until his eighteenth birthday in August. A further $300,000 was also paid out to cover the recording costs of the album.
There is also a separate contract relating the formation of Chief Keef's Glory Boyz Entertainment record label, which reportedly sees Interscope pay out yet more to the rapper and his associates. There was another $440,000 advance, $200,000 for "expenses", and $180,000 each for Keef and his manager Rovan Manuel - who each own 40% of the company. Interscope again has a get-out, with a clause allowing it to terminate the three year deal if GBE's losses exceed $4.5 million.
So, in conclusion, Chief Keef does have a lot of money coming his way in just over six months time. And that's a long time to wait, especially if you're still a teenager. Still, Keef has found a way to pass two months of that time, having just earned himself 60 days in a juvenile detention centre for alleged parole violation by pointing a gun at police officers.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE SHARES 20/20 RELEASE DATE, SUIT & TIE PROMO
Said '20/20' release date - which is 19 Mar, by the way (or 18 Mar here in the UK) - was hidden in a subliminal frame of the rather natty new 'lyric video' for 'Suit & Tie', so have a look at that first.
That other thing, the Super Bowl party, aka US station DirectTV's Super Saturday Night, is happening on 2 Feb. In New Orleans, America. Or so says The Hollywood Reporter, who won't stop going on about it.
PRINCE RELEASES SINGLE
'Screwdriver' may be the first sign of a new Prince LP, but then again, it probably isn't, given the man himself seems a bit down on the album format. Billboard cites its new cover article, a Q&A with the 'Purple Rain' star, in which he says: "That kind of album talk always comes up when something leaks. But I don't do albums any more - I don't have a deal. I do songs".
So yeah, probably not.
DEPECHE MODE DETAIL NEW LP
'Delta Machine', as it'll be titled when it's released on 25 Mar, will feature new single 'Heaven', which is being premiered via Vevo on 1 Feb. Remixes of 'Heaven' by Matthew Dear, Blawan, Owlle and Steps To Heaven will be available with deluxe editions of 'Delta Machine', as will four extra tracks ('Long Time Lie', 'Happens All the Time', 'Always' and 'All That's Mine') and a photo-book by long-time Depeche Mode collaborator Anton Cobijn.
Oh, and this standard tracklisting:
Welcome to My World
Of the above, the band's Martin Gore says: "Writing this album was incredibly daunting as I wanted the sound of this collection to be very modern. I want people to feel good about listening to this record, to get some kind of peace. It's just got something magical about it. With this release we've completely shifted our idea of how to create an album. When we hit a wall where we realise the album is beginning to sound too normal, we'll mess it up and really give it that organic Depeche Mode sound. 'Delta Machine' is no different, and I can't wait for all of our fans to hear it".
FLAMING LIPS TO UNLEASH TERROR (VIA NEW LP)
Delving deeper, he adds: "We want, or wanted, to believe that without love we would disappear. That love, somehow, would save us that, yeah, if we have love, give love and know love, we are truly alive and if there is no love, there would be no life. 'The Terror' is, we know now, that even without love, life goes on... we just go on... there is no mercy killing".
The Flaming Lips will play here twice towards promoting 'The Terror', at London's Roundhouse on 20 and 21 May.
MCFLY 'WRITING' SEQUEL TO DINO BOOK
Talking to the BBC at the National Television Awards on Wednesday night, Fletcher said: "There will be another kids' book. We've just finished writing the second in 'The Dinosaur That Pooped' series. So that will be coming out before summer".
"Before summer", hmm. Given that 'The Dinosaur' is prone to pooping public holidays, I'm guessing 'The Dinosaur That Pooped Easter' is a likely title. But really, it might be anything.
And that's not all. Asked if he and Poynter were considering any potential spin-off titles, Fletcher said "We might be, yes, we're just in talks. We have a few ideas. So yes, there could be a few more to come in a different series".
FERGIE TALKS FERGALICIOUS WINE LINE
The Hollywood Reporter, to whom Ferg has been talking about it all, says Ferguson Inc's 2011 syrah and 2011 viognier "reflect a cool, mineral-inflected style; are balanced and structured with an edgy bite and, in the case of the syrah, a peppery finish that hints at the northern Rhone Valley, where syrah thrives".
They also make a "bling wine", by the way, by the same name as Fergie's 2006 solo single 'Fergalicious'. That, says THR, is: "lush and exuberant with a mineral freshness that keeps the raspberry and black cherry flavors right on point".
And now, in remembrance of the days when Fergie's palate preferred candy canes to sugary fruit top-notes, this is 'Fergalicious'.
UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL CEO URGES CLASSICAL INDUSTRY TO BECOME MORE ACCESSIBLE
He went on to say, according to The Telegraph, that the classical music industry was at risk of scaring off a new generation of fans due to "perceived elitism" and "unwritten etiquette", urging performers to show more emotion, encourage applause, dress less formally and "get out of the concert hall and go direct to where people are who wouldn't normally go to the concert hall".
He added: "I am worried that the very traditions and institutions that seek to celebrate, promote and preserve classical music are in danger of causing the genre great harm and hindering its growth. Exclusion from classical music is not just about social and monetary boundaries: it is equally about the physical and the architectural. The very buildings in which you play are often seen as forbidding and not places many people think they'd be comfortable entering".
Using a performance of Beethoven's ninth symphony at last year's BBC Proms as an example, Hole noted the staid atmosphere in the audience, saying: "For me, the second movement is as an uplifting piece of music as The Who's 'Baba O'Riley' or Springsteen's 'Thunder Road'. I wanted to jump on my feet and shout and yell, but even at the Proms, the most wonderful and friendly festival of classical music, there is silence. But actually, not even silence, there is a loud chorus of coughing and spluttering".
Meanwhile, turning on the performers themselves, he said: "Musicians need to think about the way they dress, and to appear more excited and engaged with the audience. There's more to it than just taking a couple of bows at the end of the concert".
DOWNTOWN SPLITS AS FOUNDERS BUY BACK LABEL
Josh Deutsch and Terence Lam will now own and oversee Downtown Records, which has worked with the likes of Gnarls Barkley, Cold War Kids, Duck Sauce, Justice, Major Lazer and Miike Snow over the years. The label's GM Michael Pontecorvo and his team will join Deutsch and Lam at the new stand-alone record company.
Meanwhile Downtown Music Publishing will continue to be led by its president Justin Kalifowitz and his existing top team. Downtown's rights management platform, production music library and studios business will stay with the publishing company.
AMAZON INCREASES LEAD IN ENTERTAINMENT RETAIL
Commenting on the latest market share stats, Kantar's Consumer Insight Director Fiona Keenan told reporters: "Christmas resulted in an all-time record share for Amazon. The retailer posted growth across all categories, with its most notable performance in CD sales - historically HMV's stronghold. However, this doesn't necessarily mean it would benefit the most from possible HMV store closures. HMV shoppers are more likely to shop in physical stores, leaving the likes of Game and the supermarkets in a good position if HMV leaves the high street - particularly if they react quickly".
GLOBAL SONGS DATABASE MOVING FORWARD
The main achievement to date is the completion of a scoping study. The project is now in a 'requirements and design phase', with plans to set up the GRD as a standalone legal entity this year, and to begin IT development. The current aim is to launch the database in 2015.
The various rights owners, collecting societies and digital firms involved in the GRD reaffirmed their commitment to the venture this week, with Andrew Jenkins of the International Confederation Of Music Publishers telling CMU: "ICMP and its music publisher members around the world are committed to the development of the Global Repertoire Database which will benefit all those who have a stake in improved music licensing processes including creators, music publishers, collecting societies, music suppliers and fans of music everywhere. Indeed, it is impossible to argue against the benefits of the GRD for the wider community and all of us involved are working together to deliver something that will be a game-changer for the industry".
IMAGEM PROMOTE PRODUCTION MUSIC GM
Confirming the promotion, Imagem UK CEO John Minch told CMU: "This recognition is long overdue for Alex. Alongside managing Imagem's Media catalogues, which include the 'BBC News' and 'Strictly Come Dancing' themes, he was part of the team that helped to acquire and bed in the 5 Alarm acquisition in the US, helped to launch the Imagem libraries in the Netherlands, and has helped us move our libraries into the digital age of hard drives and search engines. In the UK, it's one of our fastest growing businesses and that is due, entirely, to Alex and his team".
MUSICMETRIC AND SPOTIFY TO PARTNER ON ANALYTICS SERVICE
Spotify Label Relations Director Will Hope said of the deal: "[Spotify's] listener data is invaluable to the music industry. We are confident that by allowing labels and managers to clearly see the links between streaming, sales and online interaction, that we can work even more closely with rightsholders to drive more listeners and increase revenues for artists on the service".
Co-founder of Musicmetric parent company Semetric, Marie-Alicia Chang added: "As the world's leading streaming music site, combining Spotify's data within Musicmetric Pro gives us a significant advantage. Our detailed BitTorrent data sphere already eclipses anything available in the market place, and the addition of legal streaming information will enable our clients to benefit from the most advanced music analytics available anywhere".
She continued: "Our first Digital Music Index showed the prominence of Spotify was on the rise, with a clear correlation between increased legal streaming and decreased file sharing. With such a centric role to play in the future of the digital music industry, it is essential that Spotify data can be easily compared with other important trends, and we very much look forward to building on our relationship over the coming year".
REPORT BIGS UP SAVINGS TO BE MADE BY DDEX STANDARDS
The Microgen-commissioned report, undertaken by Forrester Consulting, focuses on the benefits of the previously reported DDEX Standards, an initiative backed by various rights owners, digital content firms and technology companies, including Microgen, that encourages digital content providers and player makers to adopt standards on data, making everything much more compatible, and reducing the need for content firms to provide data in multiple formats.
The study, that involved in depth interviews with various stakeholders, reckons that the adoption of DDEX standards would result in "a reduction in data feed creation and integration expenses of 66% over five years" and a "reduction in data feed maintenance expenses of 25% as proprietary feeds are replaced with DDEX feeds". Further cost savings would come from a reduction in training requirements and more efficient processing of takedown requests.
Microgen's Martin Redington added: "Microgen firmly believes in the benefits of implementing standards and the Forrester Consulting study clearly outlines the value of adopting the DDEX message formats and choreographies. With the ever increasing volume of digital music and media transactions, the only way for the digital media supply chain to be efficient is to adopt these standards across the ecosystem".
NE-YO SAYS SHUT UP WITH YOUR BEYONCE LIP-SYNCING OPINIONS
Speaking to BBC Newsbeat, the R&B star said: "Whether she got up there and lip-synched or not, did you enjoy the show? That's what's important. It's neither here nor there. People need a reason to talk crazy about somebody. Give it a rest, leave it".
He added: "Everyone knows that Beyonce has an incredible voice and that Beyonce will get on that stage and burn it down. Everybody knows that already".
Yeah, at least she got the words right, America. Isn't that what you want? Beyonce herself is yet to comment. Apparently she'll pre-record a response this weekend, and then mime it to camera next week.