An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Wednesday 20 November 2013

TODAY'S TOP STORY: Digital music company Rdio is downsizing its workforce, with a source telling TechCrunch that about 35 staff members are likely to go, reducing the firm's overall headcount between a fifth and a third. Rdio, of course, is operating in a very competitive marketplace where, in the main, even the market leaders are losing money, with founders and early investors all hoping that the overall... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: First noted much to the disgust of sites like The Quietus, "ill looking" ignobles Fat Whites (or Fat White Family) - who look like this - slung loose their strung-out first LP, 'Champagne Holocaust', via Trashmouth Records in the summer. It's due to uncork its various inner horrors - leery and deranged alpha single 'Cream Of The Young', straggly porch song 'Borderline' and the fairly transparently titled... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Rdio to streamline workforce
DEALS Imagem signs Temples
LABELS & PUBLISHERS Sony's film division looking to make $100 million cost savings
New global marketing man for Kobalt
LIVE BUSINESS SFX acquires German promoter i-Motion
BRANDS & MERCH Authentic acquires Elvis Presley brand rights
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES YouTube warns against buying views
Vevo partners with Yahoo! in the UK
Spotify announces partnership with Vodafone Ireland
MEDIA ITV planning Shaun Ryder biopic
ARTIST NEWS Azari & III breaking up
RELEASES Dylan rolls out interactive Like A Rolling Stone video
Release round-up: Kanye West, Prince, Sunn O))) and Ratking
GIGS & FESTIVALS Gigs & Tours round-up: Nine Inch Nails, Metronomy, St Vincent and To Be Frank
AND FINALLY... Album leakers are "buggers", says One Direction's Liam Payne
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Rdio to streamline workforce
Digital music company Rdio is downsizing its workforce, with a source telling TechCrunch that about 35 staff members are likely to go, reducing the firm's overall headcount between a fifth and a third.

Rdio, of course, is operating in a very competitive marketplace where, in the main, even the market leaders are losing money, with founders and early investors all hoping that the overall customer-base for subscription-based fully on-demand streaming music will grow big time in the coming years (while relying on expensive global expansion and mobile bundling deals to boost user figures in the short term).

Although the Rdio company hasn't commented on how many jobs will go, it has confirmed cuts are incoming, with a spokesperson pulling out their big book of management babble and declaring that the company could confirm it had made "workforce reductions yesterday to improve cost structure and ensure a scalable business model for the long term".

Analysts will likely wonder whether the cutbacks at Rdio are a sign of mounting pressures across the wider streaming music sector as investors get increasingly cautious about when exactly this business will become profitable. US-based Rhapsody also recently announced some redundancies.

Or it could simply be a sign that Rdio, which has been less forthcoming with user figures than many of its competitors, is losing the race, with Spotify and Deezer leading in Europe, and the interactive-radio style services like Pandora, iHeartRadio and iTunes Radio dominating in the US.

Or, if you are being generous, perhaps Rdio management are wary of letting costs get out of control just to convince Wall Street that they're the next multi-billion dollar tech flotation in waiting, and instead are acting now to ensure long-term viability. Or, as you might put it, are simply seeking to "improve cost structure and ensure a scalable business model for the long-term".

Imagem signs Temples
Psychedelic types Temples have signed a multi-year deal with independent music publisher Imagem. The firm will thus run the publishing side of the group's just-announced debut LP, 'Sun Structures', which comes out on 10 Feb 2014, preceded by a single titled 'Mesmerise' (that's streaming beneath this very sentence), and followed by a tour starting at Glasgow's Oran Mor on 24 Feb.

And here's an extra sentence via Imagem A&R Manager Sam Mumford: "Temples are a hugely exciting band who are resonating more and more with the public and with their peers. They are making exciting music with a real depth and maturity to it that grabs you on first listen".

Get grabbed by 'Mesmerise' here.

Sony's film division looking to make $100 million cost savings
Sony Entertainment is looking to cut $100 million in overheads at its film division, the New York Times reports.

This follows a cut in advertising spend and the firing of the Marketing Director at Sony Pictures earlier this year, in turn following disappointing box office takings on a number of films. In addition to its movie studios, Sony Entertainment also encompasses the corporation's television and videogames businesses, and music firms Sony Music and Sony/ATV.

Management consulting outfit Bain & Company has reportedly been brought in to oversee the cost cutting exercise. A spokesperson for Sony told NYT: "As part of a nearly four-year process of increasing financial discipline, Sony Pictures is conducting a review of its business to identify further efficiencies. Our object is, and always has been, to operate an efficient studio that is uniquely positioned to capitalise on further growth opportunities".

This move follows the previously reported proposal by investor Daniel Loeb that Sony sell off 20% of its entertainment business in a stock market float that would also force the entertainment companies to become more transparent to investors. Loeb's Third Point hedge fund is now a significant Sony shareholder, controlling just under 7% of its stock, so the suggestion was taken serious by the Corp's senior management.

However, in August CEO Kazuo Hirai said in a letter to Loeb: "Sony's entertainment businesses are critical to our corporate strategy and will be important drivers of growth. I am firmly committed to assuring their growth, to improving their profitability, and to aggressively leveraging their collaboration with our electronics and service businesses".

At the time Loeb said he was "disappointed" with the decision, and would "explore further options to create value for Sony shareholders". It's not clear if bringing in Bain & Company is in anyway a response to Loeb putting pressure on management, or if it has further implications for other Sony entertainment divisions beyond film.

Certainly talk of cutbacks at the Sony film company has led to rampant speculation that similar cuts might be planned for the Sony Music record company and Sony/ATV music publisher, though nothing in the New York Times report suggests that is on the agenda. And Sony Music's big release of the year, next week's One Direction album, is unlikely to bomb like 'White House Down'.

It's expected that Sony Entertainment Chief Exec Michael Lynton will formally announce his cost cutting plans for Sony Pictures at an investor meeting this Thursday.


New global marketing man for Kobalt
The Kobalt Music Group yesterday announced the appointment of former Sony and BMG marketing exec Ryan Wright to the role of SVP Marketing. Based in New York and reporting to Kobalt President Richard Sanders, Wright will be charged with developing an "aggressive" marketing strategy for both the Kobalt publishing and label services businesses, and the firm's clientbase worldwide.

Confirming the appointment, Sanders told CMU: "I'm thrilled Ryan is joining the Kobalt team. Ryan brings an impressive track record of worldwide marketing campaigns, strategy and partnerships, consumer insight and leadership. He will be a tremendous asset to both our clients and team as we further expand Kobalt into new markets and promote repertoire internationally".

SFX acquires German promoter i-Motion
Another day another SFX acquisition. The EDM-focused company led by entertainment industry veteran Robert Sillerman has now bought i-Motion, the long-standing German dance event promoter. The deal is reportedly worth $21 million, of which $5 million is made up of stock in the rapidly expanding dance music business.

i-Motion currently operates eight festivals in Germany, Poland and Belarus, and works with a number of brand and media partners on its events. Confirming the buy, which has been in the works for a few months, Sillerman told reporters: "i-Motion is a key strategic acquisition for us, as it sits at the helm of dance music in Europe's biggest country and is a portal to the fast-growing EMC markets of Continental Europe".

Meanwhile i-Motion boss Oliver Vordemvenne said his team were "excited to join forces with SFX. It is rewarding to see the electronic music scene develop as it has. After almost 20 years as a part of the scene, [this deal] is the logical next step and is a great opportunity for our company".

By the way, "EMC", as used by Sillerman in his quote there, is short for "Electronic Music Culture", and is apparently the term increasingly in vogue in EMC aka EDM aka dance music circles.

Authentic acquires Elvis Presley brand rights
The Authentic Brands Group has acquired the various Elvis-related IP rights which have been controlled since 2005 by the CORE Media Group, or what was CKX, another entertainment company created by Robert Sillerman.

Authentic has done two deals with CORE, which also owns the Idol brand among other media concerns, taking over the firm's interests in both Muhammed Ali's image rights and Presley's image, name and likeness, plus an archive of photos and movie footage of the late singer.

The deal also includes management of the Graceland site, Presley's former home which is now a tourist attraction of course. A third party is involved in that part of the arrangement, with National Entertainment Collectibles Association founder Joel Weinshanker acquiring operating rights for the property.

No price has been officially attached to the deal, though a New York Post report last month said that Authentic was leading the bidding for CORE's Presley assets at about $125 million.

Confirming the acquisition, Authentic Brands Group boss Jamie Salter told CMU: "We are honoured to welcome Elvis into the ABG brand portfolio and look forward to working alongside the Presley family and the team at Elvis Presley Enterprises to increase Elvis's popularity and fan base worldwide".

Presley's widow and daughter retain some interests in the Elvis Presley business, with the latter, Lisa-Marie, actually owning the Graceland site.

On the new deal Priscilla Presley told reporters: "This is an exciting day for Elvis and his fans. We look forward to working with the ABG team to further promote the legacy of Elvis. This is the opportunity the family has been envisioning to expand the Graceland experience and enhance Elvis's image all over the world".

YouTube warns against buying views
Following various stories this year accusing certain companies, including music firms, of "buying" YouTube views to improve their publicly accessible stats, the Google-owned video site has published a new post on its creators blog warning users off paying third-party companies to boost views of their videos. It also provides some tips for how to get the best out of a third party view booster, should creators still choose to employ one, while also talking up YouTube's own TrueView ad platform.

The company writes: "We know you work hard on your videos, and perhaps they don't always get as many views as you'd hoped for. But if you're considering paying someone to increase your view count, you may want to think again. You probably won't get what you paid for. Views generated by some third-party businesses and services will not be counted on YouTube, and can lead to disciplinary action against your account, including removing your video or suspending your account".

Pointing out that long term success comes from creating stuff that people actually want and then engaging with those people, it stresses that "if you contract a company that gives you spam instead of views, you pay the penalty, not the company".

Read the post in full here.


Vevo partners with Yahoo! in the UK
Vevo is to provide its catalogue of videos for use on Yahoo!'s UK-based Yahoo! Screen and omg! websites (no, me neither), as the music video platform extends its partnerships beyond Google's YouTube.

As previously reported, Vevo did renew its key alliance with Google earlier this year, but has
also enhanced its proprietary website and smartphone apps, extended a tie-up with Dailymotion in Europe, and launched on Apple TV and Samsung's smart TV products.



Spotify announces partnership with Vodafone Ireland
Spotify has announced a new partnership with Vodafone Ireland, which will see the company's customers on its 4G-ready contracts given access to the streaming service's Premium option for free. Pay As You Go customers, meanwhile, will have the option to subscribe to Spotify's 9.99 euros a month service, and if they do they'll be given a bonus 250MB of data.

Spotify's Director of Global Strategic Partnerships Chris Bevington announced the deal yesterday, saying: "We're very pleased to announce this exclusive agreement with Vodafone Ireland. We believe that the partnership will be welcomed by Irish music fans and will benefit the local music industry as a whole. Spotify partnering with companies like Vodafone increases revenue streams to the music industry, and so provides benefits for fans and artists alike. Streaming music subscribers are set to reach an all-time high in Ireland, as we've seen in other markets".

Spotify now has 25 partnerships with telcos and ISPs around the world, bringing it in line with Deezer. This new one is similar to one signed with Vodafone UK, though in the UK customers are given a choice between Spotify Premium and Sky Sports.

ITV planning Shaun Ryder biopic
ITV is apparently keen to serialise Shaun Ryder's extra-terrestrial life in a new TV series, referencing his 2011 memoir 'Twisting My Melon'.

As previously reported, Ryder's interests in all things alien (starting with a teenage UFO sighting) have been made into a documentary-style TV show by the History Channel. The proposed ITV series would, in reality, focus more on earth-based Ryder escapades (many of which, frankly, are more bizarre than flying saucers hovering above Salford).

Evil 'Downton' manservant Rob James-Collier is said to be 'mad for' playing Ryder in the show, which is evidently still only a silly/brilliant idea in TV execs' heads.

  Approved: Fat White Family
First noted much to the disgust of sites like The Quietus, "ill looking" ignobles Fat Whites (or Fat White Family) - who look like this - slung loose their strung-out first LP, 'Champagne Holocaust', via Trashmouth Records in the summer.

It's due to uncork its various inner horrors - leery and deranged alpha single 'Cream Of The Young', straggly porch song 'Borderline' and the fairly transparently titled 'Bomb Disneyland' - on CD for the first time on 25 Nov, something the group will drill into the public consciousness via a headline show at London's 100 Club on 10 Dec.

Get a feel for them in the meantime c/o the video for 'Champagne Holocaust' intro 'Auto Neutron'.
CLICK HERE to read and share online

Azari & III breaking up
It looks like Canadian house quartet Azari & III are splitting. That's if a statement posted on the band's Alphonse Alixander Lanza's FB page is to be trusted, which it quite likely is.

Whilst the split is still to be mentioned elsewhere, Lanza's note goes: "Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, the art project known as Azari & III has done its work, run its course and is, for all intents and purposes, a momentary blip in time, now forever imprinted on the universe".

Continuing with the suggestion of some sort of other future project, it goes on: "Our recent EP entitled 'Extinction Event' was just that, an extinguishing of the flame and a bird into the fire of blissful, eternal oblivion. It was heaven, it was hell, and I wouldn't take it back if I could. Now comes the Aeon Of The Phoenix, which rises from the flames impervious. Long live the new flesh".

Dylan rolls out interactive Like A Rolling Stone video
Bob Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone', which wasn't given a video back when it was released in 1965, finally got a 'groundbreaking' one last night, mainly as a means of reminding fans that the singer songwriter's previously reported giant compilation box, titled 'Bob Dylan Complete Album Collection Vol 1', is available now to purchase.

Playing on Dylan's official site, the video takes the form of an interactive clip that allows watchers to switch between sixteen TV channel-style alternative streams, each featuring a different person (Danny Brown being the weirdest) lip-synching the lyrics. Which apparently means "no two people will engage with the video in the same way twice". Cool, right?

View it here.


Release round-up: Kanye West, Prince, Sunn O))) and Ratking
In addition to his holding the world record for longest and most boring conversation (with Brett Easton Ellis, via his new podcast) about film and 'product', and his impromptu lecture on architecture at Harvard, the week-in-Kanye-West has also seen the self-styled "creative genius" create a genius new video featuring his 'Yeezus' track 'Bound 2', and a whole lot of Kim Kardashian. Probably more Kim Kardashian than anyone could wish for. It's directed by Nick Knight, and is available to watch here.

Another of the biz's big hitters, Prince, has given fans a free new track, titled 'Da Bourgeoisie', for no especial reason. Take advantage of his kind present via this link.

Third up, and four years on from their last LP, 'Monoliths & Dimensions', superior drone outfit Sunn O))) have co-sired a new full-length record with Norwegian metal lot Ulver. 'Terrestrials', as it's called, will comprise three presumably quite long songs, described as "movements which are fluid like the flow of magma beneath the Earth's crust, sonically uninhibited, unpredictably cosmic, haunting and stirring yet simultaneously ceremonious and beautiful". And you can't argue with that. 'Terrestrials' is released via Southern Lord on a TBA date in February 2014.

In acts-I-wish-I-hadn't-Googled news, NYC rap pack Ratking (seriously, don't Google it) just debuted a new preview of the first LP they're working on, due to come out via XL's Hot Charity imprint in 2014. Look at '100' now.

Gigs & tours round-up: Nine Inch Nails, Metronomy, St Vincent and To Be Frank
Nine Inch Nails have confirmed they'll shoot off on a six-date tour of the UK in May. Held in post-issue honour of the group's new LP, 'Hesitation Marks', the tour is bookended by shows at Birmingham's LG Arena (18 May 2014) and Manchester's Phones4u Arena (25 May). Tickets to all dates will go on sale 22 Nov, via

In a similar boat to NIN, recent CMU approvees Metronomy have also just announced a 2014 tour, comprising shows ranging from 13 Mar at the Liverpool Academy to 28 Mar at London's Brixton Academy. Metronomy post their new LP, 'Love Letters', on 10 Mar, hence the tour.

St Vincent, aka Annie Clark, has committed to some new European shows too, to go with her new look, and the snippet of a new track she released earlier this week. The UK/Ireland portion of the tour runs from 20 Feb 2014 at Shepherd's Bush Empire, goes through Manchester for a show at the Cathedral on 21 Feb, then moves on to the Dublin Olympia the following night.

We finish with 'If You Love Her' crooner-songwriter To Be Frank, who on 2 Dec will perform a one-off set in The Basement inside The London Edition hotel. Entry is free to those interested in registering here.

"I had the opportunity to perform at some amazing places so far this year but this is the one where I really get to put on a show, I can't wait", says Frank, whose new single, 'Half The Man' goes like this.

Album leakers are "buggers", says One Direction's Liam Payne
One Direction's third album 'Midnight Memories' isn't out until next week, but you can hear it now, if you want. How can this be possible? Well obviously because it's leaked already. I can't believe you didn't get that one.

Speaking to Digital Spy, the group's Liam Payne said: "It is annoying because there's this big build-up and it affects sales. We really want a number one, so we're just kind of hoping for the best now. Hopefully people go out and buy it. It happens these days all the time. There are some very clever people out there. You're buggers!"

Yeah, albums getting leaked. Story of our lives now, eh? Speaking of which, should you wish to listen to some 1D goodness completely legally, you can check out the video for their latest single, 'Story Of My Life', here.

ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletin and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE | Co-Publisher, Business Editor & Insights Director
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business, and is MD of CMU publisher UnLimited Media.
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ALY BARCHI | Staff Writer
Aly reports on artist news, coordinates the festival, gig and release round up columns, and contributes to the CMU Approved column. She also writes for CMU's sister title ThisWeek London.
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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, plus helps manage and deliver the CMU Insights training courses and consultancy services.
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CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of UnLimited Media she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
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