All posts tagged Universal Music Group

Outgoing Warner Music Chairman maligns Universal acquiring EMI

Speaking at the Dive Into Media conference yesterday in California, on what was his last day as Chairman of Warner Music Group, Edgar Bronfman Jr. didn’t mince any words when it came to Read more…

Digital Round Up: Grooveshark legal spat takes interesting turns; Will Vevo swap YouTube for Facebook?; Megaupload action & more

If you’ve been following the story of Grooveshark‘s most recent legal fray with major labels, 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…

Digital Round Up: Spotify teases with press event invite ala Apple + Universal Music vs. Grooveshark again

Taking some cues from the Apple playbook, Spotify sent out media invitations yesterday for a global press conference next week in New York on November 30th, with plenty of intrigue including phrases like “major development” and “new direction for the company.” 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.

Quick Bytes: (Give It To Me Baby) Digital Royalties Lawsuit Against Universal Music to Proceed, Tunecore Launches Publishing Admin Service & More…

A federal judge is permitting a class-action lawsuit against Universal Music Group to move forward that involves a group led by Rob Zombie and the estate of Rick James. The issue at hand is digital royalties and the difference between treating downloads purchased at digital retailers like iTunes as a “sale” or a “license” as is relates to the artits’ split. This case follows similar litigation involving UMG and Eminem recordings, which was settled last year… Tunecore has launched a new songwriter publishing administration service that will register copyrights, collect royalties and issue licenses for users. The new service is among other recent entrants to the previously absent sector of expanded publishing admin for independent artists. More info can be found hereSpotify user numbers might be skyrocketing with the new Facebook integration, but it isn’t the only one – monthly users at MOG have quadrupled following the pairing up with the social network… Meanwhile, some are asking where the native Facebook music player app has gone, and what this means (if anything), for future music apps after it disappeared from the site this week… RIM will be launching its new BlackBerry Messenger music service this week… And Apple missed the ‘late October’ launch for its new iTunes Match service that was announced back in June, with no word from the company as to when it can be expected. [UPDATE: It appears that iTunes Match is still in the 'testing' phase.]

Bits & Pieces: Live Nation + UMG, Facebook’s f8 Conference & more…

Monday afternoon saw the official news of a major deal that has been in the works for months that unites Live Nation Entertainment and Universal Music Group in a new pact joining UMG’s management properties, including Sanctuary, Twenty First Artist (and presumably the new producer management arm Twenty First Republic that was formed earlier this year with World’s End) and 5B Artist Management, all under LN’s Front Line Management… Apprehension by banks to finance private-equity firms in buyouts and mergers is growing, according to an WSJ article this week, and that might mean the stable of bidders for EMI is shrinking. It might also mean the likelihood of the music group being sold intact is also lessening… Tomorrow is Facebook‘s big f8 conference, where they will announce many new features and major redesigns, and music fans are looking forward to the expected integration of new streaming services like Spotify, MOG and Rdio. Some are expecting Pandora to be added to that list as well, given the redesigned and relaunched player from the web radio service today, which includes among other things increased sharing capabilities and the removal of the cap on free-listening hours. Exactly how seamless the integration of media services into the social network is unclear, as MediaMemo points out, FB was originally planing on allowing users to access music and video services without ever leaving the site, however now that has changed. Announced speakers and panelists at the conference will include CEO’s from Spotify and Turntable.fm along with Clear Channel Chairman‘s Bob Pittman who has been busy promoting iHeartRadio and manager Troy Carter among many others…  Elsewhere, video site Vimeo has launched a Music Store in a new partnership with Audiosocket, that will help video creators easily find and license music… R.E.M. is calling it quits after three decades… Van Halen is reportedly ending their longtime relationship with Warner Bros. Records and heading to Columbia Records… And Jeremy Summers has been named EVP/Chief Marketing Officer at Interscope Geffen A&M.

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…

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.

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…

Bits & Pieces: Spotify Closing Final Deals for U.S. + New Funding, NMPA Wants Piece of the Cloud & more…

There have been many past reports of Spotify launching in the U.S. “soon,” but is it really happening this time? After recent news that the service signed on Universal Music Group, the company’s European general manager told an audience in London this week that the “remaining deals” (Warner Music Group) are being signed right now. While there still hasn’t been any official or unofficial reports that a WMG is in the bag, those comments as well as a confirmed new funding round of $100 million from DST, Kleiner Perkins and Accel, lead many to believe a launch is really happening, and soon. Whether or not the timing lends credence to previous rumors of the labels stalling Spotify in order to let Apple to get their new iTunes Match service out of the gate, the landscape is now slightly altered after Amazon, Google and Apple have all unleashed new services… President and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, is urging members to create a more streamlined solution for digital music companies to license rights, so as to not miss out on new opportunities. That might come in the form of new agencies which act in the interest of all publishers for sync and mechanical rights – the process of tracking down various writers, composers and publishers that have interests in a tracks, has proved to be time consuming and frustrating to new music services seeking rights… Elsewhere, I.R.S. Records is being relaunched as a frontline label by EMI Music in partnership with Crush Management… After an initial pop for Pandora when shares first started trading earlier this week, the price settled back down, and continues to fall… And congrats to Jon Pikus, who has been named the Creative Director for Imagem Music in the U.S., Pikus comes to Imagem after previous A&R positions at MySpace Records, Columbia Records and Interscope

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.

More Bits & Pieces: BMG sizing up Warner/Chappell deal, Spotify inks Universal Music for U.S., eMusic & HP have sights set on the Cloud & more…

BMG eyeing WMG's pubco

As Citigroup readies EMI for auction, as soon as this month according to reports, KKR-backed BMG Rights Management is already kicking the tires on Warner/Chappell Music according to the New York Post. While a number of suitors are expected to submit bids for all or part of EMI when the music group is taken to auction, if Len Blavatnik‘s Access Industries comes out on top again, most expect that regulatory obstacles would see Warner Music‘s pubco being sold, though some observers have Citi more likely to favor other interested parties due to fear of such regulatory scrutiny… A Digital Music News story this week revealed that digital music retailer eMusic has had little to no subscriber growth since 2007, even with the addition of catalogs from major labels. The service however, can point to an increase in revenue from its current subscribers, who are opting for higher-paying levels of membership. Also apparently on the horizon for eMusic is a cloud-based service – with CEO Adam Klein telling Billboard that they hope to launch it by the fourth quarter of this year… How many more companies will join those already in the cloud like Apple, Amazon and Google? Apparently Hewlett Packard is in the early stage of discussions with content owners, including major labels, for a service similar to iCloud, offering music, movies and TV shows… Meanwhile, MediaMemo reported today that Universal Music Group has signed on with Spotify in America, and while a deal with Warner Music Group is yet to be reached, sources have the two sides close to a deal as well… Elsewhere, Irving Azoff and Liberty Media boss John Malone are said to be considering taking Live Nation private, in an effort to restructure the company… And while News Corp.‘s prospect of completely unloading MySpace don’t look good, according to a new report, the frontrunner among those in talks for a strategic partnership that would leave News Corp. with partial ownership, is an investment group which includes Activision Chairman and CEO Bobby Kotick.

Bits & Pieces: EMI Auction Expected this Month, Universal Music taps INgrooves for NA Digital, the Latest in Signing Derbies & more…

UMG taps INgrooves for digital in North America

According to The Wrap, the auction of EMI Group by Citigroup will begin this month, as the bank has been preparing the offering that has potential bidders, which include private equity firms, billionaires and rival music groups lining up. While recent reports have Warner Music auction winner, Len Blavatnik‘s Access Industries, the likely frontrunner for acquiring EMI in an attempt to merge the two, the article’s sources have Citi officials carefully watching the current shareholder lawsuits contesting the WMG sale… Universal Music Group will be replacing its current North American digital music supply chain with INgroovesONE Division, which will now be responsible for all online and mobile deliveries to retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, AT&T, Verizon and others. UMG first partnered with INgrooves back in 2008, becoming a strategic investor in the digital distribution provider helmed by CEO Robb McDaniels… UK-based fundraising platform PledgeMusic has announced it is launching in the U.S. and Randy Sabiston has been named Managing Director. A veteran of music publishing, Sabiston previously held executives positions at S1 Songs America, Warner/Chappell, Polygram/Island Music Publishing and EMI Music Publishing… Meanwhile, after Sony Music recently landed bidding-derby act Odd Future, signing them to a high seven-figure imprint label deal with Sony/RED, Columbia Records has signed Kreayshawn (who also has OFWGKTA associations). A&R player Mark Williams inked the Oakland-based artist, who has been the subject of a label derby as well, following her song “Gucci Gucci” racking up over a million YouTube views in a matter of weeks. Speaking to MTV about all the recent attention, Kreayshawn, whose real name is Natassia Zolot, said “I’m not a person who just made a song and happened to get it popping off of one song. I think there’s a lot of songs that are going to sound even better and are a different genre,” adding, “Honestly, do you really [think] somebody would sign someone off of one song? Being like, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna take a gamble?’” Incidentally, new debut releases on Columbia from Foster the People, Cults and The Vaccines are out now…

MySpace Records Artists Depart Label as News Corp. Prepares to Unload Site

Meiko completes new album; finding new label home

As the News Corp. sale of MySpace is close at hand (with an announcement expected in the coming weeks), so too is MySpace Records shuttering, for good this time. Early 2010 began the initial dissolving of the label, which was formed in 2005 and aligned with Universal Music Group label Interscope Records via a P&D deal that has now lapsed, and since last year the operation has continued under a skeletal staff and somewhat ambiguous circumstances – a partnership with Downtown Music was announced back in September. However, with the writing on the wall as to MySpace’s future, and a scaling back of many divisions, MSR began to be dismantled, a process which was guided by label GM David Andreone who took the helm just over a year ago. Among many duties, Andreone has also helped the artists signed to MSR find new label homes, and even get master recording rights back – some albums previously released by the label have already been pulled down from digital marketplaces such as iTunes… One former MySpace Records/Interscope artist, and now free agent who is getting a lot of industry attention, Meiko, has just completed a new album produced by Styrofoam and Jimmy Messer, and mixed by Brian Malouf. We hear that labels on both coasts are talking to the songstress, who already has a strong track record with sales, touring and film & TV… And word is that Andreone, a veteran of both the music publishing and record label arenas, is likely to transition to one of a handful of digital music companies in play, after he departs his post at the end June… Stay tuned.

Bits & Pieces: Apple’s Looming Cloud, Amazon Goes Gaga, Facebook Music & more…

Spotify & Facebook Joining Forces?

Last week saw reports that Apple has signed licensing agreements with EMI Music and Sony Music for its imminent cloud-music service, leaving Universal Music Group the sole holdout, though word seems to be that a deal is on the cusp. While many of those watching are predicting an announcement of the new service at Apple’s annual WWDC event in June, the other remaining issue is having deals in place with the major music publishing companies, which right now they don’t appear to have. According to a report on CNET, despite Apple’s previous stepping out with increased iTunes song-sample lengths without the approval of publishers that created a contentious situation, there isn’t much keeping the two sides apart on a cloud-streaming agreement… Most are already hailing Apple as the fait-accompli winner of the cloud music ‘wars’, though Amazon made a big wave this week by offering Lady Gaga‘s new album Born This Way at a deeply discounted price, a move that the WSJ paints as an offensive on the iTunes digital music dominance, though Amazon is still a long way from making a dent in iTunes stranglehold. According to the article’s sources, Born This Way sold between 250,000 – 350,000 across both online marketplaces in its first day… Over the weekend news surfaced that Access Industries and Len Blavatnik‘s offer for Warner Music was not the highest, a group including Sony Corp., Guggenheim Partners and Ron Perelman offered 3% more at $8.50 a share, though the deal would have been contingent on Sony board and partner approval. How this will effect the multiple shareholder lawsuits Warner is currently facing is yet to be seen… Speaking at e-G8 in Paris this week, Sean Parker made comments, as MediaMemo notes, that may explain his interest in the recent bidding on Warner Music, and could also portend future involvement in bidding on recorded music companies, an excerpt: I think that there is a pretty dramatic change in the way music is monetized that is on the cusp of happening. Back catalogues of record labels are going to become extremely valuable…If you believe this transformation is occurring, if you believe the broken distribution systems are on the verge of being fixed, those recordings are dramatically undervalued… And speaking of labels for sale, Forbes has a profile of EMI group CEO Roger Faxon, framing him as the key in the label’s recent turnaround, including major digital breakthroughs with Beatles and Pink Floyd catalogs, though his future at the company may depend solely on who the new owners will be… And is Facebook Music launching soon and on the back of Spotify?

More Bits & Pieces: Apple Inks EMI Deal For Cloud Service; Close to Landing Sony & Universal

Apple reaches agreement with EMI for cloud-music service

The news of Apple inking a cloud-music deal with EMI Music was first reported late yesterday on CNET, and according to the industry sources the report is based on, the company is close to reaching similar agreements with both Sony Music and Universal Music Group – a deal with Warner Music was reported to have been reached last month. By now having licensing agreements with two of the four major label groups, the implications are numerous, but mainly it’s that Apple will likely once again be the driving force behind the latest shift in the digital music arena, and that Amazon and Google jumped too soon by releasing services without label deals in place… While lately the tech and music industries have been hot on the cloud-music future and closely watching developments unfold, it remains to be seen how much consumer demand there is, and on a large scale, what are people willing to pay. A new survey from Nielsen that targeted people with ‘connected devices’ (smartphones, iPads, etc), asked how much they would be willing to pay for a monthly subscription for various types of content (music, TV, movies, news, etc), and the average seems to come in right around $10/month. That falls in line with some current services that are available, and isn’t a bad number, but of course that is all in theory, and an important point to keep in mind is that an overwhelming majority of people still do not use smartphones or other high-priced ‘connected’ devices… Some attention has also turned to Apple’s patent-pending pre-buffering technology that is supposed to make its streaming experience better than other current services, though as Evolver.fm points out, Pandora and Spotify have been using similar technology for some time already… And in related news, which is receiving less excitment than the Apple-EMI deal, is that EMI Music has now also reached an agreement with digital music subscription service eMusic.

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