All posts tagged Sony Music

Post Austin News Round Up…

Another SXSW Music week has come and gone, and now you’ve had time to get all those BBQ stains out of your clothes and organize all those new biz cards you got, right? Good, neither have we… Here’s a recap of some recent goings on. Read more…

EMI Sale: Warner Music hires antitrust lobbying firm, UK indies take AIM at deal

The LegalTimes blog reported on Tuesday that Warner Music Group has hired the lobbyist team of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, who filed registration report paperwork with Congress last week indicating it would be lobbying on antitrust matters – Read more…

YouTube & record labels engaged in renewal talks

According to an article by Greg Sandoval Read more…

Relentless Records to Sony Music

Best known as once the label home of Joss Stone, KT Tunstall, Jay Sean and Cage The Elephant, it was announced today that UK label Relentless Records has Read more…

News Bytes: BigChampagne acquired by Live Nation, Rara-who?, Sony & Warner join Grooveshark fray & more

Read more…

Post EMI Auction Round Up

As was expected by many observers,  Read more…

Round Up: Grooveshark bites itself, Spotify announces apps, major label moves & more…

Catching up after a turkey hangover, some of what’s happening around the biz… Read more…

And then there were 3… EMI split, where does it lead?

Universal Music Group and Sony Music continue to dominate the music biz storylines this year with the unpredictable conclusion of the EMI auction, Read more…

Round Up: Dr. Luke Sony Label Deal (Finally) Announced, EMI Auction Drags On & more…

Doug Morris' "new Jimmy"

In a New York Times feature on Doug Morris yesterday, included among the expected platitudes from the new CEO of Sony Music, like describing his plan for the company as simply “to help create the pre-eminent record company in the world,” was the clever and first official disclosure of a new label deal with producer Dr. Luke, which will see the expansion of his current imprint with Sony, Kemosabe Records. The news, which we exclusively revealed back over the summer (with the New York Post picking up the item shortly after), comes with similar overtones as we initially reported, which is Morris is attempting to recreate his successful investment and development of Interscope Records with Jimmy Iovine at Universal Music Group. The new deal, which has been in negotiation for many months, will put the label on equivalent footing as Epic, Columbia and RCA, and also includes exclusivity at Sony for Dr. Luke’s producer services for five years – a component that smacks of Sony’s soon-to-lapse agreement with Rick Rubin, whose production work outside of their label system has been noted by many as part of the arrangements overall failure.  Also central to the Kemosabe deal is the purchase of a significant stake in Dr. Luke’s publishing by Sony/ATV, a move that will give the pubco an interest in what has been Luke’s highly-successful songwriting operation, which includes a stable of of up-and-coming pop composers with numerous chart-topping credits. Observers are drawing similarities to previous high-dollar publishing investments in hitmakers at their pinnacle, like Kara Dioguardi‘s Arthouse Entertainment deal… Meanwhile, Citigroup‘s auction of EMI is dragging on longer than the bank would like, with plenty of spin and speculation surrounding the action for the recorded music division. Last week saw the twist of Warner Music Group owner Len Blavatnik, pulling his bid from the table after Citi wanted him to increase the offer, though many see it simply as a negotiating tactic from the Access Industries owner. In turn, Universal Music Group, who previously was thought to be out of the running, is being touted as potentially back in, with the New York Post reporting the two sides are scheduled to meet today, though UMG’s last offer fell below Blavatnik’s. On the EMI Music Publishing side, the deal is still seen as BMG Rights Management‘s for the taking…  Elsewhere, in related news, David Bowie is reportedly on the verge of leaving EMI, which would end a 15-year relationship that gave the label rights to a large part of his catalog of classic albums. Discussions are said to be taking place with both Universal and Sony… And South African hip-hop enigma Die Antwoord are leaving Interscope Records, seemingly as abruptly as they were signed to the label in early 2010. The group, who has a publishing deal with Sony/ATV, will soon be releasing their second album via their own new label ZEF RECORDZ.

Digital Round Up: New Music Economy, Steve Jobs Bio Reveals iTunes Dealings & more…

swimming upstream

An article on Rollingstone.com has been getting passed around this week, as magazine contributor and author of music biz treatise, Appetite for Self-Destruction, Steve Knopper, took a stab at outlining the “new economy” of music sales. Streaming-music services in particular are a hot topic recently among artists, record labels, music-tech start ups and those who observe and comment on all of their goings-on. Among the choice quotes from the piece includes one from Jeff Price, founder of TuneCore, who commented on the confusing nature of streaming royalty rates, saying “It is beyond complicated. It took me literally three months to understand this thing,” while MOG founder David Hyman chimed in on the record labels distribution of streaming royalties to artists, “Once they get that wad of money, how do they distribute it internally? I have no idea”… The biography of Steve Jobs and its contents has been another widely discussed subject recently, with various story lines that cross into the music industry sector as well, including the Jobs experiences dealing with major labels. A New York Post item today points to Apple‘s iTunes negotiation with former Sony Music boss Andy Lack, as particularly difficult, with Lack asking for royalties on each iPod sold, and Jobs criticizing him for not understanding his own business. Meanwhile, other more obvious iTunes related revelations are made, such as the reason that The Beatles only recently appeared in the digital marketplace was due to ongoing and unresolved contractual issues between the group and EMI… Elsewhere, Twitter has made its first specialized music hiring, in former Disney Music Group marketing manager Tatiana SimonianAOL SVP of business development Jared Grusd is reportedly heading to Spotify… In a surprising move, Coldplay has opted to not make their new album Mylo Xyloto (pronounced “@&*%^$”) available on streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, MOG, Rhapsody and others, in what could be seen as a stance similar to holdout artists whose material still isn’t available on iTunes and other digital retailers… And more clues about Google‘s upcoming launch of a music store comes this week with evidence of an expanded Android mobile landing page for the new Google Music service.

In Through the Out Door: Rick Rubin & American Recordings done at Sony?

Among the many industry plot-lines running through the major record label sector at the moment, is the uncertain future of Rick Rubin as co-chairman of Columbia Records. To many observers it seems he’s had one foot out the door since first taking the post back in 2007, with his lack of presence and producer projects at the label being well-noted along the way. While there has been no official word from Columbia or Rubin as to his future with the label, his contract expires next year, and speculation about his departure has increased following Doug Morris‘ crowning as Sony Music CEO this year and the restructuring that has followed. Evidence of what lays ahead for Rubin and Sony may also be found with the news of changes afoot at his imprint label American Recordings. Word started filtering through at the tail end of last week about staff changes at the storied label, which Rubin brought with him to Sony from Warner Bros. in 2007. No information has been officially released, but insiders are signaling a departure of the imprint’s A&R staff, while for the moment at least, it seems label GM Dino Paredes will be staying on in some capacity. Are the changes a sign that the label – best known in more recent history for signing System of a Down, Johnny Cash, The Jayhawks and The Avett Brothers – is getting out of the new artist business? Speculation is abundant as to whether American will be sold off, shuttered altogether, or will just continue on with the current catalog, however with no A&R department it seems at a minimum there would be a moratorium on signings at the imprint. It’s also worth noting what the label’s uncertain fate might spell for The Avett Brothers – undoubtedly the crown jewel of the current roster, with a healthy sales base, the band would certainly be much sought after if they suddenly became free agents… Stay tuned.

Dueling plot lines continue at Sony & Universal Music; Interscope headed to a crossroads?

Big changes ahead?

The action at Sony Music under new leader Doug Morris has been closely followed and well-publicized, after less than two months under his belt at the top spot, with the recent somewhat brackish news consisting of new appointments and promotions as well as layoffs at the label group. Last week saw reporting that two more senior Jive executives who were thought to be heading to the new Epic label group under L.A. Reid, are instead leaving the building. Now it seems time for the dueling plot lines at Universal Music Group under Lucian Grainge to take the spotlight for a moment, with the CEO giving his first “major” interview to the New York Post (whose music biz coverage has continued to ramp up), appearing over the weekend. Grainge’s comments focused almost entirely on his A&R philosophy and conflict-based management style, saying “I’ve always liked to work in a state of creative conflict. It doesn’t mean you fall out with people in your company or an artist; it’s about discussing a song or direction.” Also emphasizing a “completely global approach,” which coincides with the naming yesterday of Andrew Kronfeld to a newly created position of President, Global Marketing. More new appointments include Karen Kwak to Executve Vice President, Head of A&R at the newly forming Island Def Jam Music Group, a promotion from previous senior A&R positions at the label, while Roc Nation producer No I.D. has been handed EVP A&R stripes at Def Jam Records. However, other comments from Grainge might be a different kind of omen, with word of layoffs in the A&R department at Interscope Records coming at the close of last week. Some insiders are indicating that label chief Jimmy Iovine, whose name could be considered synonymous with the Interscope brand, is losing interest in running the label and becoming more and more interested in outside ventures. Observers are curious what Grainge’s move would be if his resident hit-maker were to depart of his own accord, and who might be in line for his seat? Stay tuned…

Bits & Pieces: More Executive Changes at RCA, EMI-MP3Tunes Ruling, AEG, Ticketmaster & more…

More changes emerged at Sony Music this week under new CEO Doug Morris, who appears to be positioning all operations to fall under four main groups – Epic Records, Columbia Records, RCA Records and the yet-to-be-named Dr. Luke-helmed label. The new executive team under RCA was announced, and includes Joe Riccitelli as the head of pop/rock promotion while Keith Naftaly, Rani Hancock and David Wolter will hold senior A&R posts – more details and names of new promotion and marketing executives can be found here. Along with the good comes the bad for some, as various reports today have layoffs in the double digits coming from within previous Jive/RCA aligned marketing, promotion and A&R departments. Meanwhile, it appears that other executives have left the Sony fold on their own accord recently, with the new direction being taken and company atmosphere cited among reasons…  A judge’s decision this week in the EMI vs. MP3Tunes case left no clear winner and it is being seen as a mixed result for both sides. While MP3Tunes’ protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, was upheld, the ruling claims that the service is responsible for acting on ‘take down’ notices and that users who upload copyrighted material can be held liable, including founder Michael Robertson. CNET has more on what is left up in the air with the ruling… A newly appointed marketing executive at the Specific Media-owned MySpace, talks to AdAge about the site’s new direction and claims that iTunes, Vevo and Spotify will be more appropriate competitors for the network rather than Facebook… Elsewhere, AEG has entered the ticketing arena with the launch of axs.com – a result of a new partnership with Outbox Enterprises – the new service is presided over by former Ticketmaster CEO Fred Rosen… Facebook and Ticketmaster have announced a new partnership that will provide added connectivity via the social network for interactive seating maps, Fast Company has all the details… And the L.A. Times examines the results so far of Arbitron‘s latest research gizmo, the Portable People Meter - (we wear short shorts).

More Executives Named as New Structures Emerge at Universal and Sony Music

This week saw official announcements from Universal Music Group and Sony Music that reveal more of the emerging structure at both music groups under the new leadership of Lucian Grainge and Doug Morris respectively. As expected, Sony announced that A&R veteran Peter Edge would assume the role of CEO at the reshaping RCA Music Group, which will be comprised of RCA, Jive, J and Arista, while Tom Corson will act as COO of the label group. Morris also named Edgar Berger the new head of international at Sony Music, coming to the role from his previous post as CEO of Sony Music in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Berger, who came to Sony from Bertlesmann in the 2004 BMG merger, began overseeing label operations in Germany in 2005, remaining in place after the two split… Meanwhile, Universal Music has tapped Rob Stevenson as Executive Vice President of A&R, a “newly created position” at Universal Republic Records. This sees Stevenson returning to Universal after leaving his senior A&R post at Island Def Jam in 2006, and most recently serving as EMI‘s Virgin Records U.S. prexy until departing last year under the incoming Roger Faxon and Dan McCarroll. Some astute observers are wondering what the appointment of Stevenson means for Uni/Republic’s Tom Mackay, who has served in the same role of EVP of A&R since 2009? Recently overseeing Universal’s partnership with NBC show The Voice, and spearheading the formation of the label’s new JV with World’s End Management, Twenty First Republic, it’s yet to be seen what new role Grainge may have in store for Mackay. Other names being bandied about as expected arrivals within UMG include former Warner Bros. Records CEO Tom Whalley and songwriter and former president of Epic Records, Amanda Ghost… Stay tuned.

Industry Round Up: Free Agency, New Signings, Blind Item & more…

Industry & fans come out in droves to catch one of WU LYF's first U.S. shows @ The Echo

It must be the heat… As summer rolls on it seems that temperatures are rising among a number of notable indie and major label acts, causing them to part ways with their management. One’s loss is another’s potential gain, as many of the newly available artists begin the courting process with prospective new managers. While the scuttlebutt varies, it’s no secret that as the music business continues to wrestle with a new and constantly changing landscape, it’s managers who often times, fairly or unfairly, take the hit over frustrations…The Warner MusicEMI merger storyline continues with the latter’s current auction process underway, and recent reports have the Bunny cutting headcount in anticipation of a possible uniting of the two companies. Though it appears the label is also busy beefing up its A&R department and looking to cherry-pick other senior executives. The term headhunter is not being taken lightly under new Russian owner Len Blavatnik. Some of the names that have been surfacing from the proverbial rumor mill have stirred up quite the reaction among their peers… Meanwhile more recruiting action continues at Sony Music and Universal Music labels, as the newly installed leaders at both groups continue to tap respective past confidants. Is a longtime label-head consigliere advising each side on their new executive placements? Many expect the shuffling going on at both groups to only increase come January, when the no-poaching clause between the two comes to an end, though word on the street is that back room dealings have already started… Expect an official announcement soon of the new Dr. Luke label deal that we recently tipped… Elsewhere, it was a regular A&R brouhaha at The Echo on L.A.’s east-side Tuesday night, as England’s mysterious WU LYF (pronounced “Woo Life”) played to a packed room. The quartet, who has already been the subject of heavy pursuit by labels across the pond as a result of their furtive persona and bizarre imagery, was well received by the mostly male-dominated crowd. At least one observer noted the singer was harder to understand than a drunken Scot… In more new artist updates, SoCal locals Milo Greene have signed with Atlantic Records-aligned Chop Shop Records. The relatively new group quickly garnered attention from both fans and tastemakers alike, including KCRW, who just featured the band on its third installment of this years Also I Like to Rock series, along with Grouplove, who are also under the Atlantic label domain… And Mom + Pop Records have added to their already burgeoning roster, by signing Hard 8-managed SLEEPER/AGENT and SXSW buzz-act alum Neon Indian – both artists have new albums set to be released in September… BLIND ITEM: Which high-level label executive is in hot water with the label’s head honcho for apparently taking too much credit for the company’s current artist success in a recent LA Times piece? Did said label exec’s shameless self-promotion write his own pink slip? Hmmm…

More Exec Shuffling at Sony Music; Gatfield Named Head of U.K. & Rhone Rumored to Revive Portrait

Sylvia Rhone reviving label at Sony?

A number of high-level executive moves at the changing Sony Music structure have shaken out this week, the first on the job for new CEO Doug Morris. We tipped the hotly pursued deal with hit producer/songwriter Dr. Luke for an expanded label mimicking Interscope last week, while this week began with the official naming of Antonio L.A. Reid as CEO and chairman of Epic Records, news that was widely reported in the previous weeks. Assigning of current acts on the Sony roster to Reid’s new domain has already begun, along with new signings underway – it’s also expected that contestants from the X-Factor series will be developed by Epic – Reid is serving as a judge on the American version of the show. On the international front, which is said to be a major focus for Morris, came the revelation yesterday that Nick Gatfield will be taking over Sony’s U.K. operations, replacing outgoing CEO Ged Doherty. Gatfield previously served as head of Universal‘s Island Records U.K. from 2001 to 2008 and held an international A&R executive title at EMI until leaving last year. The move to replace Doherty is being deemed as sudden by some, however it seems more likely that Morris was pulling strings well before officially taking his new title. After departing EMI in 2010 toward the end of the troublesome Guy Hands era, Gatfield was believed to likely end up back in the Universal Music fold, under the incoming CEO Lucian Grainge, whom he worked closely with at Island, however it never came to pass. He was also said to have been in talks with Sony late last summer, but a deal was never reached. Then back in February of this year, Gatfield was hired on at Sony U.K. with the somewhat vague title of President/New Music, reporting to Doherty, who he has now replaced. Richard Sanders, the head of Sony Music Interational based in New York, is also out… According to reports, one of the main functions for Gatfield in his new role, will be to maintain relationships with Simon Cowell and his operations under Syco, which Sony owns a 50% stake in… An abutting storyline to the current UMG and Sony rivalry that has some observers intrigued, is the lawsuit filed this week involving a dispute between American Idol‘s Simon Fuller and Simon Cowell over the new U.S. X-Factor series – the shows are aligned with Universal Music and Sony Music respectively… And the latest rumor according to a story in Page Six this morning, is that departed Universal Motown prexy Sylvia Rhone will be relaunching the Portrait Records label at Sony. According to the report, the label will work closely with L.A. Reid’s Epic, and Cyndi Lauper, who was on Portrait in the 80′s, will be the first artist signed to the revived imprint… Stay tuned.

Exclusive: New Sony Music Boss in Talks to Expand Label with Hitmaker Dr. Luke

A major restructuring of Sony Music among its label groups and executive ranks has begun, with the news already released of Antonio “LA” Reid‘s taking the chairmanship at Epic Records, and the break up of the RCA/Jive label group that has some key executives moving to Epic while others will take up at RCA. But more than a game of musical chairs is needed to compete with Universal Music Group, who holds the top spot in the market and is making aggressive moves of its own under new CEO Lucian Grainge… According to insiders, a top priority for new Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, is completing a substantial label deal with hit producer and songwriter Luke Gottwald (aka Dr. Luke) that will encompass both records and publishing. There’s no word as to whether a deal has been finalized yet (the two sides are said to have been locked in negotiations for months), but from what we’ve learned, it would be a major opening statement from Morris as new label chairman and a key component in the new Sony structure. Luke’s Kemosabe Entertainment label (which Ke$ha is signed to) is already under Sony/RCA, but as it’s understood, the new label (it’s unclear if the name will change), would be put on a similar playing field as Columbia Records, Epic and RCA, including a full staff. Those in the know believe that Morris is positioning to create the next Interscope Records under the Sony umbrella, with arguably the biggest hitmaker in the world right now in a Jimmy Iovine-like role. The most significant component being that Luke comes armed with a entire camp of writers and producers that are developing new talent and already creating chart-topping tracks. Notable emerging producers and writers like Benny Blanco and Bonnie McKee, who are affiliated with Dr. Luke’s publishing companies, have had a number of successful cuts in recent years including tracks with Britney Spears, Katy Perry, 3OH!3 and Wiz Khalifa. Luke himself has been responsible for helping create over 18 No. 1 hits in the last five years, producing and writing for artists like Pink, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Taio Cruz, Ke$ha and many others, since his 2004 Kelly Clarkson breakthrough smash “Since U Been Gone”. All of which makes it a smart move for Sony/ATV Music Publishing to seek a significant stake in Luke’s publishing, as is rumored to be part of the overall Sony deal as well… Will Morris’s bold move prove to be a massive success, pushing Sony past UMG? Or another failure in a recent Sony track record with producer-helmed labels including Rob Stringer‘s blunder at Epic with Amanda Ghost and Rick Rubin‘s ineffectiveness and lack of presence at Columbia? Stay tuned…

EMI Derby: Who Has the Inside Track… Pt. 1

Industry insiders have shared with us recently that they are putting Len Blavatnik‘s Access Industries as the front-runner in the auction of EMI by Citigroup, which is expected to start in the coming weeks – and there’s plenty of good reason to bet that way. It’s been reported that Citi executives have already engaged in talks with the new Warner Music Group owner about a potential acquisition, Edgar Bronfman Jr. has long desired to merge Warner and EMI, and Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons ran Time Warner during a previous bid to merge the two companies. However, those in the know share that Warner isn’t the only suitor with ties to both Citi and EMI. More on that below… Many of the deep-pocketed bidders from the Warner Music auction are expected to enter the EMI derby, for either the recorded music unit, publishing or both, with regulatory issues as the most obvious concern for parties like Universal Music, Sony Music and now Access-owned WMG – all of them would have to shed assets in order to complete a deal. Meanwhile, private equity players would have an easier time making an acquisition, but the Terra Firma debacle may prove too cautionary for some who are interested… With all that, it’s BMG Rights Management that is on the tongues of insiders as one of the most well-positioned contenders, particularly with regard to EMI Music Publishing. The Bertelsmann and KKR-backed joint venture was deep in talks with Terra Firma to buy the publishing unit back in 2009, which would have relieved some of the debt that ultimately forced Guy Hands to turn the company over to Citigroup, and prior to that, KKR was in the running to acquire the entire EMI Music Group, before it ended up in the hands of Terra Firma… With relationships in place, and knowledge of the company before, during and after the Guy Hands era, it’s not hard to envision EMI publishing assets ending up in the already prodigious BMG Rights Management catalog, which would put the JV in position to rival Universal Music Publishing Group for the top spot in market share. This just five years after Bertelsmann sold BMG Music Publishing to Universal. But the story wouldn’t end there… Stay tuned.

Bits & Pieces: EMI Exploring Options, Rick Rubin Surfaces & More…

the dude abides

EMI officially announced on Monday that it will undergo a strategic review process, along with Citigroup, to explore options that include selling the company. The list of potential bidders has been discussed for sometime, with the recent sale of Warner Music only intensifying speculation. The Los Angeles Times reported that Universal Music is planning to make a bid, while other names frequently bandied about include Access Industries (for a WMG merger), BMG Rights Management and other investment players who were in on the Warner bidding. Observers are wondering how much Citi will get for the company – as the WSJ points out, Warner was sold for eight times its 2010 earnings, with some now thinking EMI could fetch as much as 2.5 billion pounds… As Sony Music prepares for the entrance of Doug Morris next month, Rick Rubin has been talking publicly for the first time in awhile, toasting the success of Adele‘s 21 and making it clear he’s always been a ‘creative’ guy and the “voice of reason and positive creativity” – leaving the ‘business’ side of things to the “people at the label.” Where and how the Columbia Records co-chairman will fit into the new Sony regime is unclear, though his comments seem to come at an opportune time… CEO of Hip-Hop Since 1978 management firm, Gee Roberson, has been named chairman of Geffen Records, he will report to Jimmy Iovine… Elsewhere, the social streaming-music site Turntable.fm is attracting a lot of new users and getting increased attention, though some are wondering if that will also mean scrutiny from content owners, as they do not have licenses from any labels.  The company maintains that it falls under the protection of the DMCA, similar to how online radio service Pandora operates without licenses… And Best Buy is reportedly preparing to launch a new service called Music Cloud in the U.S., which as the name implies will be a cloud-music service – the company already operates a similar service in the UK called My Music Anywhere; agreements with all the major labels are said to be in place.

Industry Round Up: More UMG and Sony Changes Emerge, Bands in the Mix & more…

L.A. Reid to take reins at Epic

With much of the industry attention recently on the new ownership of Warner Music Group and the upcoming auction of EMI by Citigroup, the other two major label groups are back in focus in coming weeks with what will be a series of changes coming to fruition under the new leadership at Universal Music Group and Sony Music. The move for L.A. Reid to Sony that was highly rumored after his departure from Island Def Jam, is becoming all but official with multiple reports that he will run a restructured Epic label group that will now include Jive. The move will also see Reid once again working under Doug Morris, who comes in as new Sony boss on July 1st. Observers are wondering who else will take up new roles under Morris, including who will oversee RCA, after former label boss Barry Weiss took Reid’s place atop the IDJ and Motown/Republic labels earlier this year. Did someone say musical chairs? Expect more new executive announcements at both Sony and UMG over the coming weeks including returning A&R veterans, along with additional new labels being launched under each umbrella… Already signed to the new Epic Records is YouTube “sensation” Karmin, who have racked up millions of views for their cover song videos… Elsewhere, another girl-guy duo garnering industry attention is San Diego act Little Hurricane, whose live shows and recent support from 91X have both labels and managers in pursuit… Others names on lips and in the mix include Childish GambinoBand of Skulls, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Electric Guest and Capitol Cities… Meanwhile, Ben Lee and Butch Walker join the Dangerbird Records roster and Barsuk Records has signed New York City’s Yellow Ostrich.

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