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SongLink NewsLink | Music Industry News for September/October 2006


© Copyright 2006 by SLI - SongLink International
Editor & Publisher: David Stark
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Universal Music Group has agreed to buy BMG Music Publishing for $1.63bn (1.1bn), subject to regulatory approvals by competition authorities in the countries where both operate. UMG chairman/CEO Doug Morris said, "This is an historic acquisition which will further diversify and expend our portfolio of music assets into such key areas as production music library, classical and Christian music."

However indie music association IMPALA is concerned that the proposed UMG/BMG deal would further damage competition in recorded music, strengthen existing collective dominance in publishing, and prejudice collecting societies and the online licensing markets. Chairman Martin Mills said: "The strength of Universal in recording music would make this merger bad news for artists and music... the EC Commission will need to make sure it properly implements the judgement of the European Court in our appeal against the Sony/BMG merger."

Meanwhile BMG Music Publishing has continued to make major acquistions and signings over the summer, including the purchase of Complete Music from Iain McNay and Martin Costello. Founded in 1984, Complete includes songs by such names as the Buzzcocks, Everything But The Girl, The Stranglers, The The, Sir Malcolm Arnold and Primal Scream. Costello will now act as a consultant to BMG and continue to oversee the Complete catalogue, while McNay will continue to own Cherry Red Records which is unaffected by the deal.

BMG Music has also signed a worldwide sub-publishing deal with TV giant Endemol which covers music rights to such programmes as Fear Factor, Deal or No Deal, Big Brother and One vs 100. Other recent BMG signings include Glasgow band Camera Obscura (Elefant Records) fronted by Tracyanne Campbell, and Brighton band Cat The Dog (Virgin) whose management also represent The Kooks.

Robin Godfrey-Cass has launched Crosstown Songs, with offices in LA and London, and worldwide licensing and administration (inc. the US) handled by Dutch company Fintage Music. Crosstown, backed by an undisclosed private equity fund, is already running Desmond Childs' Deston Songs; has taken over management of the Kingstreet Media catalogues including Palan Music; and has signed rights to a select number of hits from the Rive Droite catalogue. Former Warner Chappell UK MD Godfrey-Cass has appointed Steve McMellon as President, Chris Gilbert as COO, and Darran Bennett (ex-MCS Music) as creative director in London. Crosstown is currently pursuing further joint-venture deals, and has $100m acquistion funds available.

EMI Music Publishing (EMP) has signed Beyonce Knowles to a worldwide co-publishing deal, including her new album B'day, which was expected to debut at No. 1 on the US albums chart. EMP has also signed a deal with SpiralFrog, making its catalogue available to download in the US via the company's advertising-supported service, just a week after SpiralFrog's similar deal with Universal Music Group. SpiralFrog is expected to launch by the end of this year or early 2007.

BACS hosts a day of songwriting seminars followed by a showcase on September 19th at the Carling Academy, Islington, in conjunction with the Arts Council, BBC Radio 2, Apple, and others. The showcase features Lotte Mullan and Tim Hart & Bess Cavendish, winners of the Songwriters' Academy Contest 2006, plus special guest Steve Harley. The event is part of the On-Song Festival at various venues across the UK, featuring such acts as Womack & Womack, The Storys, Babybird and others. This is the first in a series of landmark festivals 2006-08 to celebrate the art of songwriting.

MCPS-PRS has appointed Sarah Faulder as its first public affairs director, to deal with Government relations in the UK and Europe. She will also liaise closely with British Music Rights. Faulder was most recently at BIEM/CESAC, and was previously chief executive of the MPA.

Chrysalis Music CEO Jeremy Lascelles has been appointed to the main board of the Chrysalis Group, following recent success with such acts as Gnarls Barkley, Ray LaMontagne, Nerina Pallot, Feeder, The Raconteurs, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Thom Yorke and OutKast.

Giles Baxendale becomes head of the music division at Merlin Elite Management, whose roster includes Russell Watson, Duncan James and Amy Nuttall. He has previously worked with such managers as Paul McGuinness and Irving Azoff.

Steve Gilmour has left Asylum Music Group after five years to pursure new ventures, contact 07973 256595, e-mail: Simon Abbott has left Carlin Music, where he was creative manager.

The Arctic Monkeys won the 20,000 Nationwide Mercury Prize for their album Whatever You Say I Am That's What I'm Not, which is the fastest-selling debut album in UK history, and the biggest seller of 2006.

BBC Radio One is holding the second John Peel Day on Thursday October 12, marking the second anniversary of the DJ's last broadcast on the station. A separate Peel Night will take place during the BBC Electric Proms in Camden, London from October 25-29, which also sees The Who returning to The Roundhouse for the first time since 1970, where they will perfom their new album Wire & Glasss.

Brian Wilson, Dusty Springfield, Led Zeppelin and Rod Stewart will be inducted into the UK Music Hall Of Fame at Alexandra Palace on November 14th. Sir George Martin will receive this year's Honorary Membership at the event, which will be screened on Channel 4.

A wide music industry group of indie labels, songwriters, musicians, managers, publishers and collecting societies gathered at the MCPS-PRS boardroom on July 12th to debate the creation of a progressive copyright framework for the digital age. The Value Recognition Right would allow the music industry to create a commercial relationship with any company deriving value from either the sharing or storage of music, including ISPs. The debate was sparked by Alison Wenham of AIM's draft paper, 'Copyright Reform in the Digital Age.' MCPS-PRS chief executive Adam Singer said, "Copyright was never designed for digital strip-mining, so we need a serious act of creative conservation."

RIP: Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett (60); Arthur Lee (61), singer/guitarist with Love; producer Arif Mardin (74), who worked with Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, the Bee Gees, Norah Jones and many others; drummer Pip Pyle (56); singer Tommy Bruce (69); publisher John Merritt (mid-60's) who ran Burlington Music, Sunbury Music, MAM Music and worked at Heath Levy Music. Eddie Levy, who worked with him said, "He really was one of the good music people."

BMI Assistant VP, Media Relations, Pat Baird has died after a long fight with cancer. In a career spanning more than 35 years, Pat was a well-known and respected journalist, editor and major label press officer and befriended by dozens of artists, producers and executives. She joined BMI in 1987, heading up its Media Relations dept., and built a national team for BMI with staff in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles. She also served on the committees of various major music industry charities.

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