Business News Week In Five

CMU Digest – 7 Dec 2012

By | Published on Friday 7 December 2012

MAMA Group

The five biggest stories in the music business this week…

01: HMV sold the MAMA Group. The live music and artist services company, bought by the flagging entertainment retailer in 2010, was acquired by a new entity backed by Lloyds Development Capital and led by existing MAMA CEO Dean James. HMV indicated its plan to sell its live division just under a year ago, and sold off MAMA’s biggest venue, Hammersmith Apollo, to AEG and Eventim back in May. The rest of the MAMA Group, with the exception of its interests in the GAY and Heaven ventures, were sold to James’s new company. He now plans a new period of expansion funded by Lloyds, with particular ambitions to branch out overseas. CMU report | FT report

02: The rights industries pre-empted the IPO’s fair use report, by launching an initiative called Licensing UK. Many of the music business’s trade bodies joined with reps from other content industries to submit a proposal to the Intellectual Property Office and Business Minister Vince Cable saying that, rather than introducing new exemptions to the copyright system, so that private users can make use of copyright material without licence in certain circumstances, a more efficient licensing system should be developed, so that in said circumstances it’s still easier for users to utilise copyright works, but rights owners still get a kick back. The government is considering expanding the number of ‘fair dealing’ exemptions in British copyright following last year’s Hargreaves Review. CMU report | Licensing UK outline

03: Spotify announced a revamp that will go live in the coming weeks. Recommendation and discovery are at the heart of the refinements, enabling users to follow friends and favourite artists, based on which Spotify will provide track recommendations, and regular artist updates. It was also confirmed that Metallica, who this week announced they were taking full control of their master recordings catalogue, would now make their music available via the streaming platform; cue a love in between one time foes Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and Napster co-founder/Spotify advisor Sean Parker. Spotify report | Metallica label report

04: Concord Music Group was put up for sale. Management at the US independent, best known for its jazz label, short lived partnership with Starbucks, and management of the Paul McCartney solo catalogue, are looking for a well-funded buyer in a bid to enable growth through acquisition. Current owner Village Roadshow doesn’t really have the cash to be funding a catalogue buying spree. Many noted that combining Concord in the US with the UK EMI labels that Universal is selling would make a mighty fine music rights business, leading to speculation that ‘Idol’ founder Simon Fuller – bidding for EMI’s Parlophone – may also go after Concord, speculation that horrified jazz fans everywhere. But Billboard pointed out that Concord management want private equity owners who will let them get on with running the company. Though if Concord can find a new equity owner soon enough, it might then bid against Fuller et al for the Parolophone business. CMU report | Billboard report

05: iTunes launched in 56 more countries, but iStream still seemed a long way off. The Apple music store added 56 new territories in one day, meaning the download platform is now selling tracks in 119 markets overall. This week’s flurry of launches included the arrival of iTunes in Russia, despite recent speculation that licensing issues might delay a launch of the Apple store there. Though given a technical error (filler URLs of in the platform’s database) resulted in loads of pornographic images appearing in the movie section of the store, I’m not sure the iTunes Russia launch will go down as Apple’s greatest moment. Still, not as bad as Maps. Meanwhile talk of an imminent launch of an Apple streaming music service cooled this week after a C-Net report confirmed that the majors have not been impressed with Apple’s deal proposals to date on that front. iTunes launches report | No iStream report

In CMU land this week, we confirmed that the CMU Insights team will be programming The Great Escape convention again in 2013, Business Editor Chris Cooke provided ten top tips for new bands, Husky Rescue did us a marvellous playlist, and a brand new CMU Podcast went live. Approved of, were Russell Dean Stone, Elliphant, Red Pine and Ducktails.

Also, CMU Editor Andy Malt appeared on Radio 1 documentary ‘Disasterpieces’, about follow-up albums which didn’t live up to expectations, which you can listen to on the iPlayer until Monday evening.

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