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SongLink NewsLink | Music Industry News for March/April 2004


© Copyright 2004 by SLI - SongLink International
Editor & Publisher: David Stark
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Mercury Records joint MD Steve Lillywhite has left the company to return to full-time producing, commencimg with the new U2 album. Greg Castell now becomes sole MD of the label. Meanwhile Warner/Chappell creative director Mike Sault has been appointed A&R director of Mercury Records.

Modest! Management MD Richard Griffiths is launching a new label through Sony Music UK. He and partner Harry Magee will work closely with Sony chairman/CEO Rob Stringer. Modest!'s clients include Brit Award-winner Sony artist Lemar and Bryan McFadden, ex-Westlife. Griffiths was previously president of Epic USA before becoming president of BMG UK & Europe until July 2001.

Former Mercury MD Howard Berman is launching his own label, Mesmerizing. With distribution by Vital, the debut release in May will be Green Eyed Soul by US country-soul singer Lari White. The first single, Nothing But Love, will precede the album on April 26.

Saul Galpern, who founded Nude Records, has launched a new label, Altered States to be distributed by Pinnacle, with Sony having an option to pick up releases for major distribution. The label is "looking to sign acts with vision capable of making classic-sounding records," says Galpern, who also manages Brett Anderson (Suede).

BPI director general Andrew Yeates is to leave at the end of April. He will not be replaced and the role of DG will be discontinued. Yeates joined the BPI in 1999 as director of legal affairs and was previously legal advisor at PPL, before leaving to join Channel 4. BPI communications manager Sarah Roberts has also recently left the organisation.

Veteran producer Bob Barratt died on 30 January 2004, aged 65. The long-serving EMI producer and A&R man worked with artists as diverse as Max Boyce, Vince Hill and The Wurzels with hits like Vince Hill's version of Edelweiss and The Wurzels No. 1 Combine Harvester (Brand New Key). In 1985 he set up Grasmere Records, concentrating on releasing traditional brass bands and organ music. He chaired the British Academy's Gold Badge Committee for many years and was himself awarded a surprise Gold Badge in 2002. Barratt spent the last two years of his life fighting liver cancer and leaves a wife and three daughters. His funeral took place on February 9 at Surrey and Sussex Crematorium. For those wishing to contact his family, email

Top UK producer Robin Millar has paid a reported 3 million for Sony Studios on Whitfield Street in London, and plans to rename the facility Whitfield Street Studios. The studio was closed down by Sony last year.

The early work of Bob Marley and the Wailers is to be re-released by Universal Music International through a 10-year licensing deal the company has signed with JAD Records, co-founded by Danny Sims.

Paul McCartney has been confirmed to headline the annual three-day Glastonbury Festival in Somerset on June 26, which will bring to a close his 2004 Summer Tour which begins May 25 in Gijon, northern Spain. He will also play the Rock In Rio festival in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 28 at the Parque Bela Vista. McCartney has been recording a new album with his band for release later this year.

The inaugural Blenheim Palace Music Festival is set for July 1-3 in the Great Court at the stately home in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Performers include Van Morrison and special guest Joan Armatrading; Jamie Cullum supported by Katie Melua; and the LSO playing 'The Music of Hollywood'. The event is promoted Andrew Miller Promotions.

Bryan McFadden has quit Westlife and is expected to embark on a solo career and songwriting, having penned When My World Stops Turning, Ireland's entry in the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest. The band will continue to tour and record as a four-piece, with a studio album of duets with "A-list global superstars" due for release this autumn.

Kashmir and Tim Christensen were the main winners at the Danish Music Awards 2004. Christensen won best album prize, along with best male vocalist and producer (shared with Rune Nissen-Petersen) for the album Honeyburst (EMI-Medley). Kashmirs Zitilites (Sony) won best rock album, act album cover and best video. Newcomer Julie, a Pop Stars runner-up, won female vocalist, and new act, and best pop album.

UK-born Michael Williams has been appointed Director of Press PR at Reed Midem in Paris. He joins from Vivendi Universal Net, where he was Executive VP Corporate Communications, and previously spent 10 years as the Paris Bureau Chief of trade newspaper Variety.

German rights society GEMA has joined forces with the German Music Publishers Association (DMV) to oppose the German IFPI's recent move to reduce the mechanical rate to 5.6% from 9.009% of the PPD. It is estimated that GEMA's 60,000 members and their publishers could end up losing more than 200 million Euro over five years if the new rate is confirmed by an arbitration tribunal.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won both music Oscars at the Academy Awards, on February 29 in Los Angeles. Howard Shore won Best Original Score, and the film's Into the West, co-written by first-time nominee Annie Lennox with NZ writer Frances Walsh and Shore, was named Best Song, The song was dedicated to young film maker Cameron Duncan who died from cancer last year.

Clive Davis has been named as chairman/CEO of BMG North America in a restructuring which puts the operations of Arista, RCA/J and Jive under the control of Davis, who now reports to CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz. Charles Goldstuck becomes president/COO but is unclear whether the restructuring at BMG will be reflected in a merged Sony BMG - a deal currently under review with European regulators.

Brian Malouf has left RCA Records, where he was senior VP of A&R. The RCA A&R team now consists of senior VPs Steve Ferrera and Steve Ralbovsky, VP Matt Marshall and A&R manager Donna Pearce, all reporting to executive A&R VP Ashley Newton.

In other moves at major US labels, Sylvia Rhone exits Elektra; Val Azolli & Ron Shapiro exit Atlantic; Page Levy exits Warners Bros. Nashville; David McPherson exits Sony Music Urban; Chris Rodriquez, Bryan Mieller & Linda Wornell all exit Word Records.

Nashville-based Vivaton Records has been launched by Jeff Huskins, a former member of Little Texas. First signings are Chely Wright, formerly with MCA Nashville and 18-year-old newcomer Angela Wolff from Atlanta. Darrell Vanzant is manager of A&R.

Little Richard will deliver the keynote address at the SXSW Conference on March 18 in Austin, Texas. He will also perform at the BMI showcase at the Austin Music Hall, while this year's event features the biggest ever number of bands and artists performing.

Jerry Lee Lewis's new album Old Glory will be released in May with guest stars Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and B.B. King.

EMI Music Publishing has promoted Alan Warner to senior VP of global catalogue promotion, based in L.A. and reporting to executive VP of music services Joanne Boris. Warner will continue to promote EMI-MP repertoire to special-market companies and the the major labels and will also also work with EMI creative staffers on an international basis.

Universal Music Australia will sign the winner of 'Popstars Live,' which commenced broadcasting on March 1st. Trevor Steel, founding member of the Escape Club, will A&R and produce the winner's album. He has been based at AIR Studios in London but is now in Australia. 'Popstars' was created in 1999 by Sydney production company Screentime and first launched girl band Bardot (Warner Music) followed by urban act Scandal'us (Festival Mushroom), who found various tracks through their album via SongLink, including their title track.

RIP: Guitarist John McGeogh (48), who played with Magazine, PIL and Siouxsie & the Banshees, died in his sleep at his West London home. He was 48. Cause of death has not been determined.

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