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CMU Publisher gets ready for his TGE interviews

By | Published on Tuesday 11 May 2010

CMU Publisher and Business Editor Chris Cooke has been talking about the three interviews he will be conducting as part of The Great Escape this year.

On Thursday, he will be talking to the boss of HMV, Simon Fox, in what will be a rare opportunity to hear from the man leading one of the most upwardly mobile companies in the music industry just now. Chris says: “When Simon joined HMV as CEO three and a half years ago it was hardly the dream job everyone aspired to do, entertainment retail was in decline everywhere, and HMV was struggling as much as the rest of them. But here we are, in 2010, with Woolworths and Virgin gone from the high street, and HMV has suddenly become one of the most interesting and exciting of all the music companies, with its newly found interests in digital, live, management, film and ticketing, and a high street retail presence that seems more resistant than most. And should EMI fall into American ownership later this year, it will be the last big British music company”.

He continues: “Of course, challenges remain. The most recent set of sales figures from the HMV shops were down slightly, and high street retail remains an insecure place to be just now. And you do wonder, just how far the HMV brand – traditionally a recorded music brand – can be extended. I look forward to talking Simon through HMV’s renaissance to date, and where he sees the whole thing heading in the next five years”.

On Friday, Chris will speak to music lawyer Steve Machat about his recently published book ‘Gods, Gangsters & Honour’. Chris: “Say ‘music lawyer’ and you probably think of the one suit wearing exec at the major record label who spends his life writing and checking lengthy tedious recording contracts. But in most cases you’d be wrong. In Steve Machat’s case you would be totally wrong”.

He adds: “It’s hard to know where to start when questioning Steve about his long career representing and working with some of pop, rock and hip hop’s biggest personalities. What to talk about? Him trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to help his dad win the Sinatra account? Winning over Suge Knight simply by persuading the prison guards to let him take his diabetes medication, needles and all, into jail with him while visiting the hip hop mogul? Dining with an unconscious Rita Lee who had just slumped out after a heroin high? I have so much to ask him about! But by Thursday I’ll have it down to just 20 minutes of questions, promise”.

On Saturday, Chris will be chatting to Alison Wenham, head of the Association Of Independent Music. Says Chris: “In the early days, AIM often found itself at odds with the major labels over issues like DRM and sue-the-fan litigation, though more recently the independent sector has lobbied alongside its major label counterparts on things like the new anti-piracy laws. I want to know what issues most concern indie labels in 2010, and about the role the independent community in particular can play with regards big issues, like the fight against piracy. And, in an age where some predict the demise of the record label, what the future holds for the all important independent record companies. Alison, more than anyone, should have the answers!”

Chris chats to Simon Fox of HMV on Thursday at 12.30pm, to Steve Machat on Friday at 12.30pm and to Alison Wenham on Saturday at 2.30pm, all in the Dome Founders Room.

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