All posts tagged Warner Music Group

Warner Music Group’s Poor Holiday Earnings; CEO Talks Publishing Division

Warner Music Group‘s Q4 earnings call this week revealed more dismal news, with revenue falling 14% to $789 million for the quarter that included the holiday season. Comments from the call published by Music Week, also had CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. avoiding any speculation about whether WMG is intent on selling off Warner/Chappell Music, though he indicated confidence in the value of the publishing arm. “I think it is a very valuable company and I am very optimistic about its future,” also saying, “I am also very pleased with the acquisitions that we have made both production music point of view and an A&R standpoint and I see there is a lot of progress ahead of us as we go forward.” The talk of a Warner/Chappell sale coincides with WMG’s place on the short list to acquire all or part of EMI Music, and comes after the recent appointment of Cameron Strang as CEO of the pubco and the exit of prexy Scott Francis. Bronfman expressed that he “will let the market decide how to value” the bunny’s publishing division, but insiders point to a catalog that consists of a number of very high-earning compositions that are up for reversion within the coming years, a time that has long been spoken of within the building. What effects it will carry in the market’s valuation of the publisher’s holdings remain to be seen, particularly in the wake of a highly-inflated publishing market in recent years… Stay tuned.

Spotify Talk Stupefies

#1 source of label revenue in Sweden & Norway

Contrasting speculation continues around Spotify and when the start up will launch in the U.S. as well as whether or not the income it could create would even mean anything significant for artists or labels. Recent reports have anonymous label executives calling the revenue they create “Microscopic,” “Laughable,” And “Pathetic”, while others proclaim the service is now the “second largest source of revenue in Europe for labels”. For what that’s worth. And questions continue to be raised over how the service pays artists, particularly indie acts… Only an actual launch in the U.S. would tell the full story. Where do things sit with such a launch? Sony Music has signed on, and EMI is supposedly “close” – but they have been for weeks, and there’s larger entanglements there with the state of limbo the label is in under the temporary ownership of Citigroup. Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. has changed his tune slightly, stating on yesterday’s WMG earnings call “We do see Spotify, and services like Spotify, as ever-more meaningful for our results.” Meanwhile Universal Music Group remains the big prize for the start up getting off the ground in the states. If a letter sent to the current few U.S. users of the service and a job opening in an unnamed U.S. location, are any indication, Spotify will soon be landing here. Or maybe not.  As aptly put by @evolverfm “Spotify in the U.S. is the new Beatles on iTunes.”

More Bits & Pieces: Rdio Taps WBR Chief Rob Cavallo, AEG Launching Ticketing Venture & more…

Rdio taps WBR's Cavallo

Music-streaming start up Rdio has raised $17.5million in new funding with a round led by Mangrove Partners. The company, founded by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom of Skype notoriety, also announced the addition of Warner Bros. Records chief Rob Cavallo to its board of directors.  The addition of Cavallo is said to be an effort to “strengthen” relationships with the music industry. Rdio currently offers a two-tiered paid subscription service, which fits in with Warner Music Group ruler Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s stance on services offering free levels of access, as in they “will not be licensed” by WMG… Yesterday’s News Corp. earnings call has led to more reports of an impending sale of MySpace. Company executives are not really saying anything new from what’s already been reported over the previous weeks, this time it is just more official… Anschutz Entertainment Group has announced a new joint venture called Outbox Enterprises, which sees the promoter entering the ticketing arena. As a result of the regulatory judgement in the Live Nation merger with Ticketmaster, AEG is allowed to compete for ticket sales. The new venture will be headed by former Ticketmaster executive Fred Rosen who will act as CEO. The company plans on beginning to sell tickets through Outbox in the next six to twelve months… Elsewhere, checks in the eMusic after last years customer kerfuffle over the addition of more major label catalogues to the once indie-only music service, as well increased prices and the departure of indie stalwart labels Domino, Merge and Beggars Group… And The Fader Fort, a staple of the SXSW music festival for the last decade, has announced a new sponsor this year in Fiat. They’ll also be streaming live performances in conjunction with, err, MySpace Music?

Wednesday Bits & Pieces: Who’s Launching First – Spotify, Google, Apple or None of the Above?

Who will get out of the gate first?

In another 2011 industry horse race, contradictory reports and speculation continue to surface about the launch of digital streaming music services from high profile companies like Google, Spotify and Apple. Sony Music recently inked a deal with Spotify, becoming the first U.S. label to do so. And that was quickly followed by rumors of a U.S. deal with EMI being closed in on, however the effects on such a deal by the label takeover this week by Citigroup are yet to be known, but it’s likely not good for the European start up. Even if an agreement was reached, would it be valid when new ownership takes over? Regardless of an EMI deal, or even Warner Music Group, the biggest target for Spotify to get the service off the ground in America is still Universal Music Group, who boasts the largest market share and a significant stable of current hit artists. What will it take to land the other majors? Lots of cash, and most likely a number of concessions in the area of how much free music it offers… Meanwhile, Google has plenty of cash, and reports continue to indicate that it has no problem plunking it down for labels to launch Google Music. While rumored timelines for a launch continue to contract and expand, a possible major stumbling block for Google, and other services in the same cloud, is music publishers. Matt Rosoff wrote a piece this week citing a source that claims publishers want to be paid for every download. Meaning that the key aspect of the locker-based service would conceivably force users to pay multiple times for the same song when downloading at different locations and on multiple devices. Something consumers will surely scoff at… The end of last year saw plenty of anticipation and predictions about a streaming service from Apple, however the talked has quieted this year as the company remains mum. However recent comments from Spotify executives have accused Apple of putting pressure on labels in an effort to keep the service from launching in the U.S., presumably to give themselves more time to finish working on a yet-to-be confirmed streaming version of iTunes. Not unheard of when considering the continued pressure it puts on artists and labels who do business with Amazon… Stay tuned.

More EMI: Warner and KKR Still Leading the Pack? Could Guy Hands Still Be in the Mix?

Bidding starts at...

The announcement of Citigroup taking over EMI yesterday hasn’t changed the variety of sale scenarios being floated, but has certainly intensified speculation. A myriad of potential regulatory issues remain at the forefront of all conversation, but the smart money continues to be on either Warner Music Group or KKR-backed BMG making bids for either parts or the whole. Other subplots include KKR buying both the recorded music and publishing arms, only to sell off one at a later date. Comments published by Music Week from a former member of EMI senior management indicate that KKR is the frontrunner, who has had an eye on the publishing division for years, adding that the private equity group has “the firepower and it is obvious and clean. Although I think other private equity will obviously be interested.” Who else might be interested? The field could still include other major label groups Sony Music and Universal Music Group, while in the more unlikely column are companies like Apple and Google. Even Guy Hands could still be in the running to take back the music company, though he would likely scratch, as The Guardian points out, the odds are against a bank financing Hands after the first go-around. Meanwhile the New York Post reports that Hands was desperately trying to raise funds up to the last minute from investors including Simon Cowell‘s brother. Others are wondering why the early turnover to Citi? Has the bank already lined up a buyer?

Analysts Comment on Warner Music Options

Weighs In

Fitch Ratings released the following observations today about possible scenarios and options for Warner Music Group… 1) Acquisition of EMI; 2) Sale of WMG Music Publishing; 3) Sale of 50% or more of WMG; or 4) Sale of less than 50% of WMG with an acquisition of EMI… Read the full release here. Meanwhile, further comments from other analysts reported by Reuters lend credence to the speculation that the play by Warner is all about speeding up and putting pressure on an impending EMI auction. “We believe there is a low likelihood of anyone stepping in to buy Warner Music ahead of the EMI auction that is looming later this year,” said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG, while Wells Fargo bond analyst Bishop Cheen adds, ”All roads go through EMI on this one,” … “I suppose KKR could make a move exclusive of EMI but it’s unlikely.”

Monday Scuttlebutt: EMI Countdown, Hands in the Cookie Jar & KKR’s BMG Wants It All

Handing over to Citigroup?

Less than a month ago, reports were indicating that a deal might see EMI change hands from Terra Firma to lender Citigroup before Christmas, a result of negotiations following Guy Hands courtroom defeat – seen by most as a last ditch effort to maintain control of the music company. Still yet to happen, reports over the weekend are indicating that it may only be a matter of weeks before Hands relinquishes control of EMI to Citi, who is rumored to already be lining up potential suitors for both the recorded music and publishing divisions. In what some see as further corroboration is the disclosure of a £12m dividend taken by Hands last year, which is an amount five times the company’s after-tax profits, though also less than a quarter of the personal funds he told the New York court he had put into EMI… Who is the most likely to bid on EMI if Citi takes control? The Guardian reports that just last Friday it was being heavily rumored that the recorded music arm would be quickly sold by Citi to Warner Music Group, while the publishing would be acquired by KKR‘s BMG Rights Management. Though further reports this morning reveal that BMG RM could be interested in both arms of EMI, but not the production or distribution sides.  If so, this could create a scenario that harkens back to talks held by EMI with rivals Sony and Universal last year, exploring the option of raising funds by licensing its catalogue for distribution. Depending on how it goes down, everyone could be in on this, one way or another…

Friday Bits & Pieces: Music Startups Hot at CES, Sony’s Music Unlimited & more…

Music services hot at CES

It’s 2011 and streaming music continues to be a hot topic. Spotify is still getting headlines, but questions now surround not when the service will be launching in the U.S., but if it will ever see life in the states. It appears that labels are continuing to ask for extremely high upfront payments from the startup, due to uncertainty in results from the service’s model. Spotify is betting on a high rate of conversion from free to paid accounts, while content owners remain skeptical. If the company doesn’t go public, is the answer to be acquired, and should Amazon be that buyer?… While the clock ticks on Spotify, not to mention Google Music and a streaming service from Apple, lower profile services that have already launched continue to made progress in the new digital music arena, with a number of key announcements coming out of this weeks Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. MOG will be coming preinstalled on Verizon‘s new 4G LTE phones, as well as being included in Toyota connected cars, along with Pandora… Slacker also announced new changes to its service this week, including a new on-demand subscription tier, that sees a third level of access for users, adding to the non-interactive internet radio service it already provides… Meanwhile Sony took the stage at CES to announced the launch of its new Music Unlimited service in America in the coming months. Already live in the UK, the service will be available to users via Bravia TVs, Blu-ray players, Vaio PCs and PlayStation 3 consoles… Elsewhere, in expected news, Lucian Grainge, who officially assumes his CEO seat at Universal Music Group, announced contract renewals for Universal/Republic rulers Monte and Avery Lipman this week – also re-upped with UMG was SRC Records founder and CEO Steve RifkindS&P Equity Research adds credence to the talk of a likely Warner Music Group acquisition of EMI, as they make their 2011 media predictions, stating [WMG] could finally be poised to make a successful bid for the recorded music operations of EMI Group… And sales data for music in 2010 comes in with news of continued decline for both physical and digital albums, while single tracks all but flatlined. Last year saw a 12.8% decline from the 2009 level in album sales, while single song sales were up by 1%. More stats including 2010 highest sellers are here

Wascally Wabbit: Top Level Changeover at Warner/Chappell Music – What’s Next?

Strang New CEO, Francis Out

Yesterday saw the naming of Cameron Strang as the new CEO of Warner/Chappell Music by Warner Music Group Chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., with the additional role of chairman being assumed by Strang in July of this year, at which time current Chairman and former CEO David Johnson will exit.  A shift that had long been in the works, Strang, a Canadian born industry veteran and entrepreneur who founded New West Records as well as Southside Independent Music Publishing, will bring along Southside to WMG as part of the deal. Meanwhile, Scott Francis who was named President and Chairman/CEO of Warner/Chappell U.S. in 2008, will also be departing. Strang’s impressive pedigree is clear, though this change in leadership is the latest in a series of top-level changes at the bunny’s pubco over the previous five years that has left some observers questioning the moves. Here’s a recap… With the takeover in 2004 of WMG by the investment group headed by Bronfman that also included Thomas H. Lee and Bain Capital, came the exit of longtime Warner/Chappell Chairman and CEO Les Bider and President Rick Shoemaker, who both ran the pubco successfully for over two decades, overseeing massive growth for the division. With Bider’s exit, Richard Blackstone was named as chief, moving from his presidency at Zomba Music Publishing. Following Blackstone’s naming as CEO, W/C Prexy, Rick Shoemaker, exited his post in 2006, leaving a gap that would not be filled for some time. Meanwhile, Blackstone would step down the following year, with David Johnson being named as interim CEO from his previous role as WMG EVP and General Counsel. The position for Johnson became permanent up until yesterday’s announcement. While a new president would not be named for over two years, longtime Sony Soundtrax exec Glen Brunman was brought over in 2007 as head of creative with presidential duties, sans title. It wasn’t until July of 2008 that former BMG Music Publishing prexy Scott Francis was given the newly created presidential/CEO position mentioned above… Back to the present, questions now surround the presumed empty presidency spot left by Francis, as well as the fate of other creative executives among the pubco’s ranks.  How long will the seat remain open this time? Will new management hire from within? Meanwhile, we hear rumblings that a former Warner/Chappell executive could also be courted to return. Stay tuned.

Year In Review: Music Biz Undergoes Big Changes in 2010, Only More to Come

As 2010 winds down, there is plenty of industry action to look back upon and even more still to come with a number of significant changes looming. It all adds up to an end-of-the-year full of more questions than answers, but at least it keeps things interesting…

Home on the Grainge

It was back in the beginning of the year that Lucian Grainge‘s assumption of the CEO position at Universal Music Group in January of 2011 was announced, beginning a year long process of reviewing the company structures on both coasts. The fate of current UMG chief executive Doug Morris remained murky until recently as reports began to fly of his likely jump to a rival music group. But what of the new composition at UMG? Still the largest of the remaining major music groups, in both recorded music and publishing, there are no signs of slowing for the Vivendi-owned company, who is positioning itself to streamline operations with new arrangements that will see labels combining some back-office efforts, or as CFO of the French conglomerate put it recently, “a lot of fat can be taken out without hurting muscle and bones.” Looking at the various labels within Universal, it appears that most current heads will stay within the group, at either their current positions or newly created ones, as will most likely be the case with Island Def Jam ruler Antonio “L.A.” Reid. Rumors began circling back in October of an imminent firing, with many claims being made that the IDJ head was as good as out, however as others predicted, a new label imprint for Reid is now the likely outcome. There is talk of an increased dominion within UMG for Universal/Motown and label prexy Sylvia Rhone as well as Universal/Republic under the leadership of CEO Monte Lipman moving forward. And though a title for Barry Weiss, who just announced his move from RCA/Jive to Universal this past week, has yet to be announced, all signs seem to indicate that he will act as Grainge’s primary lieutenant on the East Coast while the new group chief resides in Los Angeles. What roles David Massey and Steve Bartels will take in the new structure remain unclear. Look forward to more changes to come in the new year, including word to spread of a newly inked deal between Universal and a major management firm who sold the label a significant stake in the operation…

Ghost of Epic '10

With the exit of Rolf Schmidt-Holtz from Sony Music on the horizon, talk of his successor has turned squarely on Doug Morris, with sources claiming that it’s as good as done, and that earlier contender Sony/ATV CEO Marty Bandier is uninterested in taking the position. Much has been made recently of Columbia/Epic chairman Rob Stringer‘s missteps in the artist-executive hiring of Amanda Ghost, who is departing from her presidential post at Epic, and talk coming from within the building continues to forecast a murky future for the label. Will the label fold into Columbia? What will the future hold for current Epic head of A&R Mike Flynn? What is the future for the younger Stringer at Sony, and is it tied to that of Howard Stringer? The elder Stringer has denied recent reports of his interest in the chairmanship of BBC Trust, though rumors of his time coming to an end at Sony Corp continue. And will Charlie Walk find himself back in the Sony fold?… The handling of EMI by Terra Firma boss Guy Hands, has left many mystified, from the initial timing and price of the purchase, the revolving door of outside executive hires, to the recent courtroom debacle with lender Citigroup. While strong releases from Lady Antebellum and Katy Perry along with the Beatles-on-iTunes coup are all positives steps, and many have praised recent promotions in the upping of Roger Faxon to chief executive of the group and Dan McCarroll‘s promotion to oversee the Capitol and Virgin labels, it strikes most as too late. Talk of a takeover of EMI by Citigroup before the year’s end ramped up this week after reports that Terra Firma investors ruled out investing more funds into the company to meet the next debt obligation to Citi.  If the bank does indeed take control of EMI, the common belief is that it will sell off the recorded music and publishing divisions to the highest bidders – the two mentioned most often being Warner Music Group and BMG Rights Management… Shifting to the bunny, the company made industry waves in September with Lyor Cohen initiating some top-down restructuring, which started with naming Rob Cavallo as the new Warner Bros Records chairman and CEO, removing Tom Whalley, a move seen as a long time in the making, as Cohen and Whalley notoriously never saw eye-to-eye. The shake up also resulted in Todd Moscowitz and Liva Tortella being named Co-President/CEO and Co-President/COO, respectively. Following the executive shuffling, WBR departments underwent scrutiny, that led to more departures from creative and promotion executives. Eyes now turn to the possibility of acquiring EMI’s recorded music division, which would considerably boost Warner’s market share as well as narrow the major music group field to just three. If it goes down, it has many wondering what changes would be made to the executive team currently being assembled at EMI under McCarroll… Hartwig Masuch, CEO of BMG Rights Management, the joint venture backed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Bertelsmann made his intentions of being counted among the top four publishers well known, and a year of aggressive acquisitions has carried through that goal. Those in the know share that KKR, a global private equity firm specializing in leverage buyouts, is the driving force behind the quick and expansive activity. High profile purchases of independent publishing companies this year included Stage Three, Evergreen and most recently Chrysalis. If the JV is able to acquire EMI Music Publishing in the event of a sale, it would see the new publishing player competing for not only a place at the table with the other major publishers, but as a contender for the current top spot held by Universal Music Publishing

Meanwhile, onlookers will be waiting to witness what the future holds for MySpace, as the once all-powerful social network continues to slide. Even with a redesign, progress on the mobile front and a new ad deal with Google in place, most believe the writing is on the wall, with more layoffs at the company expected to come down in the new year. And how will this effect MySpace Records? The label was all but shuttered in the first quarter of 2010, only to be resurrected, sort of, over the summer with the hiring of David Andreone and a new ill-defined partnership with Josh Deutsch‘s Downtown Music… And with all the reporting and speculation surrounding new cloud-based services from the likes of Apple and Google in 2010, as well as the entrance of Spotify in the U.S., all will have to go on next year’s wish lists. Google has made its plans to launch a music service well known, with the latest reports indicating that they’re willing to pay labels massive sums to get a service off the ground, while Apple continues to remain mum on any plans for a new streaming service… IN THE MIXSteve MoirSylvia RhoneDavid WolterSandy RobertonJohn RudolphJosh Abraham, Foo FightersAndrew Brightman, Greg Hammer, Nick Gatfield, Jason Flom, AWOLNATIONEd PiersonCool Hand Luke, Dan Petel, Hurley

Closing Out 2010; Change is in the Air…

Industry in Transition

Heading into the final stretch of the year, and further into a major transition period, the industry continues to be abuzz with uncertainty as questions surround the situation at all the music groups… Is the die cast for now at Warner Music Group under new chairman Rob Cavallo and co-prexies Todd Moscowitz and Livia Tortella? Many saw the courtroom defeat of Terra Firma in their lawsuit against Citigroup as the final blow to EMI Music‘s future, is it now only a matter of who and for how much?  Will heavy changeover proceed well into the new year at Sony Music? The recent exposé of Epic Records under Amanda Ghost had tongues wagging, but the real story is at the top. And will Universal Music Group come out relatively clean? The restructuring efforts under Lucian Grainge have already begun, but the market dominance in both recorded music and publishing continues… Stay tuned.

More Bits & Pieces: LimeWire Pirated, Viacom Selling ‘Rock Band’, WMG Acquires Roadrunner & Faxon’s Memo

Viacom dumps Rock Band & maker Harmonix

In a response to the surfacing of pirated LimeWire software online, LimeWire LLC has issued a cease-and-desist notice in an effort to stop the spread of the illegal software. The company was recently handed a permanent injunction, forcing the end of their distribution of the file-sharing software… Viacom has announced that they are selling Harmonix and have classified the Rock Band maker as a “discontinued operation” – the decision comes in response to falling sales for the once hugely popular game… After buying nearly 75% of the label in 2007, Warner Music Group has fully acquired Roadrunner Records. The label is expected to operate as an individual brand within the WMG stable… And Roger Faxon has issued a memo to EMI staff in response to the whirlwind of forecasting and speculation surrounding the label in the wake of the recent losing verdict for Terra Firma in their case against Citigroup. Billboard has the memo in full here

Situation at EMI: Was Exec Shuffling Ahead of Verdict Early Signal of Break Up?

Exec cost cutting ahead of sale?

In the wake of a courtroom defeat for Guy Hands and Terra Firma in the legal action brought against Citigroup, all talk has turned to the fate of EMI. With the likelihood of more investors stumping up funds to keep the company in control of its current owners slim, and a dept-for-equity swap with Citi or even licensing content to another major music group, an avenue that was explored previously, exist in the realm of possibility, almost all signs indicate that one way or another the music company will fall into new hands (no pun intended).  The list of suitors currently being thrown around includes the usual suspects who have had an eye on EMI’s recorded and publishing sectors, such as BMG Rights Management, Warner Music Group and  Sony/ATV. But a look at executive movement within EMI over the past months seems to indicate that a sale or break up of the company may have been a foregone conclusion. Back in June Roger Faxon was named Group Chief Executive, moving him over from his longtime leadership at EMI Music Publishing, and soon after executive house cleaning began with Faxon ultimately tapping Dan McCarroll to take the reigns as prexy of Capitol & Virgin Label Group just last month – McCarroll was also plucked from EMI’s pubco where he was previously EVP of creative. And last week saw the news of Rob Stevenson‘s exit from the label, after being installed as President of Virgin in 2008 under now departed Nick Gatfield. Names of possible replacements being rumored include more execs already planted within the EMI structure. So are all the internal moves simply a reversal in the earlier unsuccessful practice under Hands to bring in outsiders? Or as some are indicating, is it to minimize costs ahead of a sale and reduce the typically high expense of hiring outside for creative executive positions? Stay tuned…

More Bits & Pieces: Spotify Close to U.S. Launch & is the MySpace Redesign Plagiarized?

Spotify Closing in on Labels with Cash in Hand

It seems that everyone agrees that Apple buying Spotify is not going to happen, even Danielle Ek told TechCrunch, who first reported the possible negotiations, that “We don’t want to sell, we are here for the long term”… But more interesting are reports by MediaMemo and CNET that the European startup is getting ever closer to a launch in the states, and the primary reason is cash. The company is reportedly offering large up front advances or guarantees to the major labels who hold the fate of the service in the U.S. in their hands.  Sony is reportedly the closest to making a deal, though Spotify will need at least three of the four major labels onboard to press the button – Warner Music Group would seem like the most obvious holdout if there is one… And MySpace saw a lot of positive reviews of its new design, though users of the early stage and invite-only startup Pinterest are calling foul play, as the site’s new aesthetics are strikingly similar. Apparently a now former technology director at MySpace asked for an invite to Pinterest back in March of this year, shown in an email released on TechCrunch

In Case You Missed It: Vevo – MTV Standoff Continues, Imeem & MOG Founders on Startups & Spotify’s Ballsy Play…

Web TV Means Opportunity for Music

News, commentary and opinions in the tech + music arena were particularly plentiful this week, with many of the current players making headlines… Vevo and MTV are still at an impasse for a deal that would allow the former to sell ads on the latter’s properties and target their viewers, a scenario that MTV is not comfortable with. While publicity battling over who has the #1 spot in views has become common, the heart of the matter is that Vevo continues to capture the majority of the online music video market, with deals in place with all the major labels except Warner Music Group, but its sights are set on bigger targets in the form of deals like the recent Google TV partnership. AdAge has more on the standoff… And television increasing looks likes the next platform to conquer for digital music, with set-top boxes growing in availability and increased features, mainly apps.  As smartphones multiply and the user base for those who get their music delivered via web and mobile apps increases, TV is quickly becoming a big part of the equation. More on why this is at… The founder of the now deceased Imeem, Dalton Caldwell, gave some cautionary words to those looking to enter the music startup world this week, pointing to the difficulty to innovate in the current landscape… Though MOG CEO and founder David Hyman, was quick to share his opposing opinion via TechCrunch, saying, “digital music seems to be a game that every 20-something wants to try and play, and it’s almost as if creating a digital music product is a rite of passage for millions of young buck programmers. It’s unfortunate that because it’s a sexy space, and because there are tons of entrants into the field, all of the noise creates an impression that winning can’t be done. It certainly can”... [Update: Rhapsody weighs in on opportunity for music startups via SAI]… Former young buck behind Napster, Sean Parker, is feeling confident about Spotify in spite of continued roadblocks in the U.S., saying of the company’s model, which is creating most of the hesitation from labels in the states, “You have no choice. We’ve got you by the balls, you’ll have to become a subscriber.” Parker, who was speaking at a DailyBeast event, also claimed a launch of the service in the states will still happen before the year ends … Elsewhere, Google has launched its music service… In India… Viacom has tapped a new big gun lawyer to lead its next round in court against YouTube… The L.A. Times catches up with Tim Westergren on what’s next for Pandora… And Chamillionaire schools tech entrepreneurs and talks to ThisWeekIn

Industry Round Up: McCarroll Upped @ EMI, Lyor’s Hot Seat, The Head & The Heart & more…

Post Shake Up Changes Continue

As was rumored and expected for weeks, it was announced this morning that current EVP NA of creative at EMI Music Publishing, Dan McCarroll, will be taking the top spot overseeing A&R operations for the entire music group in North America. In his tenure at EMI’s pubco, McCarroll signed and oversaw a number of successful artists including John Mellencamp, Cobra Starship, Travie McCoy, Death Cab For Cutie, Butch Walker and Panic At The Disco among others. In his new role, at the newly dubbed Capitol & Virgin Label Group, McCarroll will be tapped with reinvigorating the company’s creative performance in the US, leaving many to wonder the fate of the current creative team on the recorded music side.  In his statement, Roger Faxon also announced that current A&R executives Steven Melrose and Leonard Brooks would be exiting their positions…

Switching gears, with Warner Music Group ruler Lyor Cohen enjoying an indian summer on the West Coast, anecdotes abound, including one involving an A&R assembly where Cohen in true-to-form fashion, put creative execs in the hot seat. As the dust settled, there were more artists than reps to match, leaving a couple acts unaccounted for. So who signed them? When the junior staffer responsible for the act was summoned, his detailed knowledge of every aspect of the artist, and his general chutzpah, led to him being granted a seat in the meeting… And what about all those expected departures from the Bunny in the wake of the regime change? Rumblings seem to indicate they might not be coming as soon as predicted due to financial implications…


Elsewhere, keeping up with the chase, it was a regular industry frenzy on this past rainy Monday night in Los Angeles, as many scrambled to make it out to see Seattle combo The Head and The Heart, who played both an early and late set at Silverlake Lounge and Bardot respectively. The band, who has been wowing audiences in their native Pacific Northwest – drawing large crowds and rave reviews, played to a throng of industry onlookers at both L.A. shows. With representatives from most major label groups present, including Warner Bros., Universal/Republic and RCA (maybe EMI reps were preoccupied – see above), along with some publishers and bigger indies, the currently unmanaged group has succeeded in spawning a double derby, with reps from some of the top management firms present too, including Red Light Management‘s newest comrade Mark DiDia

Speaking of, the recent buzz on a few of the bigger boutique labels with major label ties, is that they’re are making internal moves that would shift them into scaled-down management operations and away from the label business… And are major label imprints in trouble? Jive Records urban imprint Hitz Committee will be shutting its doors, and a pending deal for an established LA-based indie label has been shuttered due to the exit of a recent major label head. Expect more to come… In recent signing updates, it looks like Nashville act Mona has been picked up by Island Records in the UK and Mercury Records stateside, while NZ darlings The Naked and Famous seem to have landed with UMG affiliated Fiction Records - both deals are rumored to have been for massive sums. Meanwhile, some are starting to wonder who will be the last through the gates for these kinds of deals, as insiders share that some label heads are starting to put the kibosh on high-dollar signings for uberly-hyped indie acts. Stay tuned… IN THE MIX: Michael Goldstone, Glenn Delgado, Craig Aaronson and Paul Pontius

Wednesday Bits & Pieces:, Elevation Partners + Pandora & More…

News of‘s bankruptcy filing this week did not come as a shock to those following the start-up, who is now headed down a similar path of other online music services in recent times. Following Chapter 11 filing, which was spun by the company as a “breathing spell” – presumably from litigation (3 of the 4 major label groups had filed lawsuits) –  further reports revealed just how much Playlist owes in royalty costs to its top creditors, who include Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, EMI Music as well as indie label network Merlin and ASCAP. And that “breathing spell” apparently includes funding a restructuring effort with cash from its biggest, and sole secure creditor, UMG, who is not on the same page…  Elsewhere, it appears in talks with television companies, Apple is nearing an agreement with Disney for 99-cent TV show rentals via iTunes… Yesterday it was tipped by TechCrunch that private-equity firm Elevation Partners, who counts Bono among its directors, would be investing in Pandora in the range of  $100 million, though both sides are remaining quiet at the moment… And check out a profile of Jason Hirschhorn on Silicon Alley Insider, where he discusses his time at MTV, MySpace and what’s next…

Wednesday Bits & Pieces: WMG + MTV, eMusic Working on Cloud Service, Pitchfork’s New Blog Collective & More…

Warner Music Group brings in MTV Networks for ad-sales

Warner Music Group announced today its new partnership with MTV Networks, in which MTV will sell ads against the music group’s video content.  The arrangement replaces a previous partnership between Warner and Outrigger, a smaller sales company.  The most interesting part of the new deal is that MTV parent Viacom is still in court with Google, yet YouTube (owned by Google) is likely to account for a majority of the ads-sales by MTV. Make sense?… First week sales of Eminem‘s Recovery came in at 741,000, making it the biggest release yet for 2010 and the biggest first week since 2008′s AC/DC album Black IcePitchfork has announced it’s launching a sister site dubbed Altered Zones that will act as a blog collective of sorts with 14 different music blogs supplying content… The NY Times technology blog, Bits, has an article on cloud music companies to watch (spoiler, Apple and Google aren’t in there), but a surprise inclusion is eMusic. The piece reveals that the once indie-only subscription service that added both Sony and Warner Music catalogs to its service in the last 12 months, will soon also add Universal Music and is working on a cloud music service that could be introduced early next year… Expect a sold-out crowd at L.A.’s The Echo tomorrow night for the double-down and uber-indie bill featuring Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles.  That latter recently recorded their new album with producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence & the Machine, Klaxons) at the famed QOTSA studio Rancho De La Luna (check out “Sleep Forever” from the new album at Stereogum), while Dum Dum Girls, who recently released their debut full-length on Sub Pop, will head out on a North American tour with Vampire Weekend in August followed by a string of MGMT dates in Europe…

In Case You Missed It: Reading Recap

Thom Yorke Shares his Cheery Outlook on the Biz

Apple‘s WWDC announcements on Monday did not include a new cloud-based version of iTunes, as many had expected (or hoped for), but Jobs did reveal the company already has a boatload of iAd commitmentsBuzzmedia is not the only one bolstering its ad network, as startup MOG announces a new deal that will add Sony Music Entertainment online properties into their network, including 117 major artist websites… In a recent BBC Radio 4 documentary, new EMI Music chief Charles Allen discusses the state of his company and the difficulty of spreading the message that they are in “really good shape”… Following Allen’s positive outlook came comments from Radiohead frontman and former EMI artist, Thom Yorke, predicting the collapse of the music industry within “only a matter of months” and going on to advise aspirant musicians to avoid the “sinking ship”… And a report in Reuters today examines Terra Firma boss Guy Hands gift-giving techniques and the “high concentration, high risk strategy” in his current efforts to save EMI… Elsewhere, a look at the business of selling online fans, followers and viewers to artists… New England area coffee shops and other small venues are facing increased pressure from PRO’s… And Complex Magazine discusses free music, almost signing Drake and f*ckin kids in a brief Q&A with Warner Music boss Lyor Cohen

In Case You Missed It: Reading Recap

One Million + Sold

The clock is ticking for Terra Firma to come up with enough funds to keep control of EMI – recent reports indicate Guy Hands has rallied some of the investment firms’ largest backers in an effort to raise the minimum needed by the fast approaching deadline… Apple announced at the start of the week that they have already sold one-million iPads, that’s less than half the time it took to sell the same amount of iPhones… Elsewhere, Warner Music Group reported a 15% rise in digital revenue in its most recent quarter… Tunecore delivered stats from 2009 that included a total of $35-million in download and streaming income for artists… And The Register takes an interesting look at Beggars Group in an interview with indie label-group head Martin Mills

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